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Title: Ainslee's, Vol. 15, No. 5, June 1905
Author: Various
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 "Ainslee's, Vol. 15, No. 5, June 1905" ***

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                              AINSLEE'S

                VOL. XV.      JUNE, 1905.      No. 5.



CONTENTS

  The Outgoing of Simeon                              Elizabeth Duer
  Concerning the Heart's Deep Pages                      Sewell Ford
  Song                                              Charlotte Becker
  Synopsis of Chapters I--XIII of "The Deluge"             Editorial
  The Deluge (Continued)                       David Graham Phillips
  The Window                                      Theodosia Garrison
  Americans in London                                 Lady Willshire
  The Blood of Blink Bonny                 Martha McCulloch-Williams
  Monotony                                              Philip Gerry
  "Plug" Ivory and "Plug" Avery                        Holman F. Day
  Supper With Natica                            Robert E. MacAlarney
  By The Fountain                                   Margaret Houston
  Bas Bleu                                            Anna A. Rogers
  The Vagabond                                                 M. M.
  The Doing of the Lambs                       Susan Sayre Titsworth
  The Unattained                              William Hamilton Hayne
  The Flatterer                                       George Hibbard
  The Miracle of Dawn                                 Madison Cawein
  The Song of Broadway                                Robert Stewart
  Green Devils and Old Maids                       Emerson G. Taylor
  Two Sorrows                                   Charles Hanson Towne
  Love and Mushrooms                                  Frances Wilson
  Some Feminine Stars                                      Alan Dale
  For Book Lovers                          Archibald Lowery Sessions



THE OUTGOING OF SIMEON

By ELIZABETH DUER


Simeon Ponsonby--the professor of botany at Harmouth--had married when
over forty the eldest daughter of a distinguished though impecunious
family in his own college town. His mother, on her deathbed, foresaw
that he would need a housekeeper and suggested the match.

"Simeon," she said, "it isn't for us to question the Lord's ways, but
I am mortally sorry to leave you, my son; it is hard for a man to
shift for himself. I was thinking now if you were to marry Deena
Shelton you might go right along in the old house. The Sheltons would
be glad to have her off their hands, and she is used to plain living.
She would know enough to keep her soup pot always simmering on the
back of the range and make her preserves with half the regular
quantity of sugar. I like her because she brushes her hair and parts
it in the middle, and she has worn the same best dress for three
years."

Soon after Mrs. Ponsonby died and Simeon married Deena.

She didn't particularly want to marry him, but then, on the other
hand, she was not violently set against it. She saw romance through
her mother's eyes, and Mrs. Shelton said Professor Ponsonby was a man
any girl might be proud to win. If his sympathies were as narrow as
his shoulders, his scientific reputation extended over the civilized
world, and Harmouth was proud of the fact. Deena's attention was not
called to his sympathies, and it was called to his reputation.

He proposed to Miss Shelton in a few well-chosen words, placed his
mother's old-fashioned diamond ring on her finger, and urged forward
the preparations for the wedding with an impatience that bespoke an
ardent disposition. Later Deena learned that his one servant had grown
reckless in joints after Mrs. Ponsonby's death, and the house bills
had shocked Simeon into seeking immediate aid.

At twenty Deena was able to accommodate herself to her new life with
something more than resignation; a wider experience would have made it
intolerable. She was flattered by his selection, proud to have a house
of her own, and not sorry to be freed from the burdens of her own
home. There were no little Ponsonbys, and there had been five younger
Sheltons, all clamoring for Deena's love and care, whereas Simeon made
no claims except that she should stay at home and care for the house
and not exceed her allowance. If she expected to see a great deal of
her own family she was mistaken, for, while no words passed on the
subject, she felt that visiting was to be discouraged and the power to
invite was vested in Simeon alone. Respect was the keynote of her
attitude in regard to him, and he made little effort to bridge the
chasm of years between them.

He was a tall, spare man, slightly stooped, with a prominent forehead,
insignificant nose, and eyes red and strained through too ardent a use
of the microscope. He habitually wore gold-rimmed spectacles; indeed,
he put them on in the morning before he tied his cravat, and took them
off at the corresponding moment of undressing at night. His mouth was
his best feature, for, while the lips were pinched, they had a kind of
cold refinement.

He was a just man but close, and the stipend he gave his wife for
their monthly expenses barely kept them in comfort, but Deena had been
brought up in the school of adversity, and had few personal needs. Her
house absorbed all her interest, as well as stray pennies. The old
mahogany furniture was polished till it shone; the Ponsonby silver tea
set looked as bright as if no battering years lay between it and its
maker's hand a century ago; the curtains were always clean; the
flowers seemed to grow by magic--and Deena still parted her wonderful
bronze hair and kept it sleek.

At the end of two years, when she was twenty-two, a ripple of
excitement came into her life; another Shelton girl married, and
caused even greater relief to her family than had Deena, for she
married a Boston man with money. He had been a student at Harmouth and
had fallen in love with Polly Shelton's violet eyes and strange
red-gold hair, that seemed the only gold fate had bestowed upon the
Sheltons. He took Polly to Boston, where, as young Mrs. Benjamin
Minthrop, she became the belle of the season, and almost a
professional beauty, though she couldn't hold a candle to Deena--Deena
whose adornment was "a meek and quiet spirit," who obeyed Simeon with
the subjection St. Peter recommended--whose conversation was "chaste
coupled with fear."

But one day all this admirable monotony came to an end quite
adventitiously, and events came treading on each other's heels. It was
a crisp October day, and an automobile ran tooting and snorting, and
trailing its vile smells, through Harmouth till it stopped at
Professor Ponsonby's gate and a lady got out and ran up the courtyard
path. Deena had been trying in vain to make quince jelly
stiffen--_jell_ was the word used in the receipt book of the late Mrs.
Ponsonby--with the modicum of sugar prescribed, till in despair she
had resorted to a pinch of gelatine, and felt that the shade of her
mother-in-law was ticking the word _incompetent_ from the clock in the
hall--when suddenly the watchword was drowned in the stertorous
breathing of the machine at the gate, and Polly whisked in without
ringing and met Deena face to face.

"We have come to take you for a spin in our new automobile," Polly
cried, gayly. "Where is Simeon? You think he would not care to go?
Well, leave him for once, and come as far as Wolfshead, and we will
lunch there and bring you back before sunset."

Deena's delicate complexion was reddened by the heat of the preserve
kettle, her sleeves were rolled above her elbows, and a checked apron
with a bib acted as overalls. Polly twitched her to the stairs.

"What a fright you make of yourself," she exclaimed; "and yet, I
declare, you are pretty, in spite of it! Ben has to go down in the
town to get some more gasoline, and then he means to persuade Stephen
French to go with us, so rush upstairs and change your dress while I
report to him that you will go, and he will come back for us in half
an hour."

Stephen French, who was to make the fourth in the automobile, was
Harmouth's young professor of zoölogy, a favorite alike with the
students and the dons, with the social element in the town as well as
the academic. To Ben Minthrop he had been a saving grace during a
rather dissipated career at college, and now that that young gentleman
was married, and his feet set in the path of commercial
respectability, the friendship was even more cemented. On Ben's part
there was admiration and gratitude, on Stephen's the genuine liking an
older man has for a youngster who has had the pluck to pull himself
together. It was a bond between the Shelton sisters that their
husbands shared one sentiment in common--namely, a romantic affection
for Stephen French.

Deena was standing in her petticoat when her sister joined her in her
bed-room--not in a petticoat of lace and needlework, such as peeped
from under the edge of Polly's smart frock as she threw herself into a
chair, but a skimpy black silk skirt with a prim ruffle, made from an
old gown of Mrs. Ponsonby's. It was neat and fresh, however, and her
neck and arms, exposed by her little tucked underwaist, were of a
beauty to ravish a painter or a sculptor. Polly herself, boyish and
angular in build, groaned to think of such perfection "born to blush
unseen"; her one season in Boston had demonstrated to her the value of
beauty as an asset in that strange, modern exchange we call society.
She was evidently trying to say something that would not get itself
said, and her elder sister was too busy with her toilet to notice the
signs of perturbation. Finally the words came with a rush.

"Deena," she said, "when we were children in the nursery you once said
I was a 'coward _at_ you'--I remember your very words. Well, I believe
I am still! You are so dignified and repressing that I am always
considering what you will think a liberty. I have taken a liberty now,
but please don't be angry. It does seem so absurd to be afraid to make
a present to one's own sister."

She opened the bedroom door, and dragged in a huge box, which she
proceeded to uncord, talking all the while.

"I have brought you a dress," she said; "a coat and skirt made for me by
R----, but Ben cannot bear me in it because it's so womanish--pockets
where no man would have them, and the sleeves all trimmed--and so, as
I think it charming myself, I hoped, perhaps, you would accept it."

Both sisters blushed, Polly with shyness, Deena with genuine delight.
She loved pretty things, although she rarely yielded to their
temptations, and she kissed her sister in loving acknowledgment of the
gift. It never occurred to her that Simeon could object.

Polly, in high spirits at her success, next declared that she must
arrange Deena's hair, and she pushed her into a low chair in front of
the dressing table, and fluffed the golden mane high above the
temples, and coiled and pinned it into waves and curls that caught the
sunlight on their silken sheen and gave it back. A very beautiful
young woman was reflected in old Mother Ponsonby's small
looking-glass, a face of character and spirit, in spite of its
regularity.

"There, admire yourself!" exclaimed Polly, thrusting a hand mirror
into her sister's grasp. "I don't believe you ever look at your
profile or the back of your head! You are so busy enacting the part of
your own mother-in-law that I only wonder you don't insist upon
wearing widow's caps. Oh! I beg your pardon--I forgot that could only
be done by forfeiting Simeon! Where do you keep your shirt-waists?
This one isn't half bad; let me help you into it."

She chose the least antiquated blouse in Deena's wardrobe, and pinned
it into place with the precision of experience; next she hooked the
new skirt round the waist and held the little coat for her sister to
put on.

"Where is your hat?" she demanded.

Deena fetched a plain black straw, rusty from the sun and dust of two
summers, and shook her head as she tried to pinch the bows into shape.

"I shall be like a peacock turned topsy-turvy," she laughed--"ashamed
of my head instead of my feet!"

Polly took it out of her hand.

"Of course, you cannot wear _that_ with your hair done in the new
way--besides, it spoils your whole costume. I saw quite a decent hat
in a shop window in the next street. I'll get it for you!" and she was
out of the room like a flash of lightning.

Deena ran to the window and caught her mercurial sister issuing from
the door below.

"Stop, Polly!" she called. "I cannot afford a new hat, and I cannot
accept anything more--please come back."

Polly made a little grimace and walked steadily down the path; at the
gate she condescended to remark:

"Have all your last words said to your cook by the time I get back,
for Ben will not want to wait."

In ten minutes she returned with a smart little hat, and in answer to
Deena's remonstrances, she tossed the condemned one into the wood
fire that was burning on the dining-room hearth; at the same instant
the automobile arrived at the gate. Deena, nearly in tears, pinned the
unwelcome purchase on her head, and followed her sister to the street.
The hat set lightly enough on her curls, but it weighed heavily on her
conscience.

After the manner of the amateur chauffeur, Ben was doubled up under
the front wheels of his motor, offering a stirrup-cup of machine oil
to the god of the car, but Stephen French stood at the gate, his grave
face lighted up with the fun of a stolen holiday.

"You see a truant professor!" he exclaimed. "Simeon doesn't approve;
we couldn't induce him to come. He said a day off meant a night on for
him--he is so wise, is Simeon--but I positively had to do something in
the way of sport; I am in a reckless mood to-day."

"I'll do the wrecking for you, if that's all you want," came from
under the auto's wheels.

Stephen conveyed his thanks.

"I dare say you will, with no effort on your part," he said, opening
the back door of the great, puffing monster. "Get in here, Mrs.
Ponsonby. Ben likes his wife beside him in front, he says, because she
understands how to run the machine when he blows his nose, but I think
it is a clear case of belated honeymoon."

Here Ben scrambled to his feet, his broad, good-humored face crimson
from groveling.

"Deena, good-day to you," he cried. "How perfectly stunning you look!
I declare I thought Polly was the pick of the Sheltons, but, by Jove!
you are running her hard. What have you been doing to yourself?"

Stephen French was delighted--he laughed his slow, reluctant laugh,
and then he called to Ben:

"Turn round and see whether you dropped them in the road."

"Dropped what?" asked Ben, his hand on the lever, making a black
semicircle.

"Your manners," said Stephen, and chuckled again.

"You go to thunder," roared Ben, shooting ahead. "A poor, wretched
bachelor like you instructing a married man how to treat his
sister-in-law, and just because once upon a time I sat in your lecture
room and let you bore me by the hour about protoplasms! Do you suppose
I should dare admit to Polly that Deena is as handsome as she is? Why,
man alive, a Russian warship off Port Arthur would be a place of
safety compared to this automobile."

Deena, laughing though embarrassed, was trying to cover the
countenance that provoked the discussion with a veil, for her hat
strained at its pins and threatened to blow back to Harmouth before
the knotty point was settled as to who should pay for it.

They were flying between fields strewn with Michaelmas daisies and
wooded banks gay with the first kiss of frost, and gradually Deena
forgot everything but the exhilaration of rushing through the air, and
their attitude of holiday-making. She was thoroughly at her ease with
French; he was Simeon's one intimate in the corps of professors, the
only creature who was ever welcome at the Ponsonby table, the one
discerning soul who found something to admire in Simeon's harsh
dealings with himself and the world. Their line of study naturally
drew them together, but Stephen admired the man as well as the
scholar; the purity of his scientific ambition, the patience with
which he bore his poverty--for poverty seemed a serious thing to
French, who was a man of independent fortune, and whose connection
with the university was a matter of predilection only. With Ponsonby
it was bread and butter, and yet he had ventured to marry with nothing
but his splendid brain between his wife and absolute want. French
stole a glance at Deena, who was looking more beautiful than he had
ever seen her, and wondered whether she found her lot satisfactory;
whether there were not times when Simeon's absence was precious to
her. Without disloyalty to his friend, he hoped so, for he had
something to tell her before the day was over that might lead to a
temporary separation, and he hated to think of those lovely eyes
swimming in tears--all women were not Penelopes.

"She can't care in _that way_," he reflected. "Ponsonby is tremendous
in his own line, of course, but no woman could love him."

Perhaps he was mistaken--perhaps Mrs. Ponsonby loved her husband with
all the fervor of passion, but she conveyed an impression of
emancipation to-day, and of powers of enjoyment hitherto suppressed,
that made Stephen doubt. She was like a child bubbling over with
happiness, gay as a lark, as unlike her usual self in behavior as her
modish appearance was unlike that of Simeon Ponsonby's self-denying
wife.

"Of course she won't mind; why should she?" he decided, and yet
determined to put off making his announcement till after lunch.

At Wolfshead they stopped at the little inn, found the one o'clock
dinner smoking on the table, and sat down with the rest of the hungry
company--employees of a branch railroad that had its terminus there;
drummers in flashy shop-made clothes, and temporary residents in the
little town. This jaunt had given them an appetite, and roast beef and
apple tart disappeared at a rate that should have doubled their bill.

After lunch they strolled down to the beach, Deena starting ahead with
French, while Polly went with Ben to get cushions from the automobile.
The present generation seems to consider comfort the first aim of
existence, though the trouble they take to insure it more than
counterbalances the results in old-fashioned judgment.

Stephen stopped to light his cigar behind the shelter of a tree, and
then came running after Deena, who was walking slowly toward the vast
plain of blue water stretching to the east. She turned at the sound of
his footsteps and waited for him, wondering what his classes would
think if they could see their professor bounding along with his hat
under his arm. There was something peculiarly charming in the lighter
side of Stephen's nature; a simplicity and boyishness, which was the
secret of his popularity far more than his weightier qualities. The
women of Harmouth called him handsome, but he had small claims to
beauty. A well set-up figure rather above the medium height, dark hair
grizzled at the temples, eyes that seemed to laugh because of a slight
contraction of the muscles at the outer corners, and a nose decidedly
too high and bony. The expression of the mouth was shrewd, almost
sarcastic, and possibly a little coarse, but his smile redeemed it and
illumined his face like sunshine. What dazzled the ladies of Harmouth
was really a certain easy luxury in dress and habits not common in the
little town. It is always the exotic we prize in our conservatories.

This summing up of French's outer man was not Deena's estimate, as she
watched his approach--she was too familiar with his appearance to
receive any especial impression. She accepted his apologies for his
cigar and for keeping her waiting with an indifferent air, and turned
once more toward the sea.


CHAPTER II.

The beach at Wolfshead was pebbly, with rocks thrown untidily about
and ridges of blackened seaweed marking the various encroachments of
the tide. Stephen brushed the top of a low bowlder with his
handkerchief and invited Deena to sit down.

"You would be more comfortable," he said, "if Ben would come with the
cushions."

"I am quite comfortable without them," she answered, "though I cannot
but resent the Paul and Virginia attitude of the young Minthrops. One
would think a year of married life would have satisfied their greed
for _tête-à-têtes_. I wonder whether they would continue sufficient to
each other if they really were stranded on a desert island."

"Could you be happy on such an island with the man of your heart, Mrs.
Ponsonby?" asked Stephen.

And Deena, feeling that Simeon was perforce the man of her heart, and
that he was quite unfitted to live on sea air and love, answered,
smiling:

"Not unless there were a perfectly new flora to keep him contented."

Stephen saw his opportunity to make his communication, and said,
quickly:

"I suspect you have been reading those articles of Simeon's in the
_Scientist_ on the vegetation of Tierra del Fuego. They are very able.
He ought to go there and verify all he has gleaned by his reading. We
fully appreciate we have a remarkable man at Harmouth in our professor
of botany."

Deena colored with pleasure.

"Poor Simeon," she said; "his limited means have stood in the way of
such personal research, and then, also, the college holidays are too
short for extended trips."

"Let him throw over his classes in the cause of science," said
Stephen, with excitement. "Why, such a book as Simeon would write
after an exploration of--Fuegia, let us say--would place him among the
scientists of the world."

The thought that raced across Deena's mind was what dull reading it
would be, but she recognized the impropriety of the reflection and
said, simply:

"It is too bad we haven't a little more money."

Stephen put his hand in his breast pocket and half drew out a letter,
and then let it drop back, and then he walked a little apart from
Deena and looked at her thoughtfully, as if trying to readjust his
previous ideas of her to the present coquetry of her appearance. The
way her thoughts had flown to Simeon when a desert island existence
was mooted seemed as if she did care, and Stephen hated to give pain,
and yet the letter had to be answered, and the opportunity was not
likely to occur again. The thing he had always admired most in his
friend's wife was her common sense--to that he trusted.

"Mrs. Ponsonby," he said, boldly, "if Simeon had a chance to do this
very thing--free of expense--would you be unhappy at his desertion?
Would you feel that the man who sent him to Patagonia was doing you an
unkindness you could not forgive?"

"I should rejoice at his good fortune," she answered, calmly. "The
fact that I should miss him would not weigh with me for a moment."

French gave a sigh of relief, while his imagination pictured to him a
dissolving view of Polly under similar circumstances.

"The Argentine Government is fitting up an expedition," he went on,
"to go through the Straits of Magellan and down the east coast of
Fuegia with a view of finding out something more exact in regard to
the mineral and agricultural resources than has been known hitherto. I
happen to have been in active correspondence for some time with the
man who virtually set the thing going, and he has asked me to send him
a botanist from here. Shall I offer the chance to your husband? He
must go at once. It is already spring in that part of the world, and
the summer at Cape Horn is short."

Deena's face grew crimson and then paled. She felt an emotion she
could not believe--pure, unalloyed joy! But in a second she understood
better; it was joy, of course, but joy at Simeon's good luck.

"Could he get leave of absence right in the beginning of the term?"
she asked, breathlessly.

And Stephen answered that he had never taken his Sabbatical year, and
that some one could be found to do his work, though it might mean
forfeiting half his salary.

Here they were joined by Polly and Ben, and as Deena made no reference
to the subject they had been discussing, the talk wandered to general
topics.

The sun was making long shadows and the hour to start was come. The
gayety of the morning deserted Deena as they sped back to Harmouth.
Her brain was busy fitting her ideas to this possible change that
French had just foreshadowed, and though she was silent, her eyes
shone with excitement and her color came and went in response to her
unspoken thoughts.

In her mind she saw Tierra del Fuego as it looked on the map at the
end of the narrowing continent, and then she remembered a picture of
Cape Horn that had been in her geography when she was a child--a bold,
rocky promontory jutting into a restless sea, in which three whales
were blowing fountains from the tops of their heads. She reflected
that it was very far away, and that in going there Simeon might
encounter possible dangers and certain discomfort, and she tried to
feel sorry, and all the time a wild excitement blazed in her breast.
She felt as if her youth had been atrophied, and that if Simeon went
it might revive, and then a great shame shook her to have allowed such
thoughts, and a tender pity for the lonely man she had married
obliterated self.

Stephen's voice broke in upon her reverie.

"Have I depressed you, Mrs. Ponsonby?"

"No, no," she answered. "I am only considering ways and means. I want
him to go. We might rent our house for the winter, and I could go home
to live. Count upon my doing everything in my power to make Simeon's
going easy, Mr. French."

"You are admirable," said Stephen, with genuine satisfaction. He even
half put out his hand to give hers a grasp of approbation, but thought
better of it. If she had had her hair parted in the middle, and had
been mending Ponsonby's stockings under the drop-light in her parlor,
he might have done so, braving the needle's point; but, looking as she
did to-day, it seemed safer to refrain.

It was six o'clock when the auto stopped at Deena's door.

"I wish she had shown a little more emotion at his going," was
Stephen's reflection as he helped her out, forgetting how he had
dreaded any evidence of distress; but he only said:

"May I come back to tea, Mrs. Ponsonby? I should like to talk this
over with Simeon to-night."

She acquiesced with an inward misgiving; it was the first time, she
had ever given an invitation to her own table, but it was her
husband's friend, and she was still excited. As she exchanged good-bys
with her sister and Ben, Polly suddenly remembered to tell her
something quite unimportant.

"Oh, Deena!" she whispered, bending over the side of the automobile,
"when I came to pay for your hat today, I found I hadn't enough money,
and I knew you wouldn't like me to explain the circumstances to Ben,
so I told them to send the bill to you and we will settle it later."

"I'll settle it!" said Deena. She was a proud woman, and hated favors
that savored of cash. "Good-night--I am afraid you will be late in
getting to Newbury Hill for your dinner."

"All aboard, French!" shouted Ben--and they were gone.

Deena stood for a moment and watched the retreating machine before she
followed the path to the front door. A great deal that was pleasant
was disappearing with its puffs--Ben's gay spirits and Polly's ready
sympathy, which, if superficial, was very soothing--and the money
power that made them what they were, which, in fact, permitted the
auto to exist for them at all. It had all come into Deena's life for a
few brief hours, and was gone, but something remained--something that
had not been there when she got up that morning: the knowledge that
she was a very beautiful woman, and more than a suspicion that a
crisis was impending in her life.

As she turned to face the house the remembrance of the unpaid hat bill
laid a cold clutch on her heart. Until the first of next month she had
exactly ten dollars at her credit, and that was Simeon's--not
hers--given to her for a specific purpose. She determined to throw
herself upon his indulgence, confess her weakness and beg him to pay
the bill for her. She had never before asked a personal favor of him,
but was she justified in doubting his kindness, because of her own
shyness and pride in concealing her needs? She almost persuaded
herself he would be gratified at her request. After all, Simeon was
not an anchorite; he had his moods like other men, and there were
times when a rough passion marked his dealings with his wife; perhaps
he had not been very felicitous in his rôle of lover, but the
remembrance that there was such a side to his nature gave a fillip to
her courage.

For the first time he would see her at her best; might not her
prettiness--bah! the thought disgusted her! That she, a typical,
housewifely, modest New England woman should be calculating on her
beauty to draw money from a man's pocket, even though that man were
her husband, seemed to her immoral. She would plainly and directly ask
him to pay the money, and there was the end of it. She opened the
front door and went in.

The Ponsonby house was two stories high, built of wood and set a
little back from the street, with flower beds bordering the path to
the gate and neat grass plots on either side. Within, a small parlor
and dining room on the right of the hall, and to the left a spacious
study; behind that was the kitchen.

The door of the study was half open, and Simeon sat at his desk
reading proof; one of his many contributions to a scientific
periodical, and, judging by the pile of galley sheets, an important
article. He had a way of pursing his lips and glaring through his
spectacles when he read that gave him a look of preternatural wisdom.
He was never what Deena's cook called "a pretty man."

Mrs. Ponsonby's slim figure slid through the opening without pushing
the door wide, and spoke with a kind of reckless gayety.

"Good-evening, Simeon," she said, making a little courtesy; "you see,
I have returned safely, 'clothed and in my right mind.'"

He made a marginal note of cabalistic import before he swung round in
his chair and looked at her over his spectacles.

"Hardly in your right mind, I should think," he said, coldly.

"Don't you like me in my new clothes?" she asked, twirling slowly
round to give him the entire effect of her costume.

He was apt to be irritable when disturbed at his work, and Deena had
not attached much importance to his speech.

"I think," he said, curtly, "you look like a woman on a poster, and
not a reputable woman at that."

"That is hardly a nice thing to say of one's wife----" she began, when
he interrupted her.

"Look here, Deena, I have work to do before tea, and the discussion of
your appearance is hardly important enough to keep publishers waiting.
Oblige me by taking off that dress before I see you again. Where did
you get it--if I may ask?"

"Polly gave it to me," she answered, and was astonished to find a lump
in her throat, a sudden desire to burst into tears.

"Then Polly was guilty of an impertinence you should have resented
instead of accepting. Ben Minthrop's money may dress his own wife, but
not mine. Let it go for this time, but never again subject me to such
an indignity."

"But she didn't give me the hat, Simeon," said poor Deena, who knew it
was now or never.

"And who furnished you with the hat?" he asked, insultingly.

"I meant to ask you to," she said, and a tear escaped and splashed on
the lapel of her new coat, "but never mind, I will find some means to
pay for it myself." And she moved toward the door, wounded pride
expressed in every line of her retreating figure.

"Come back, if you please," he called. "This is childish folly. How
can you pay when you have no money except what I give you? I am
responsible for your debts, and as you have taken advantage of that
fact, I have no choice but to pay. This must never occur again. How
much is it?"

"I--I don't know," faltered Deena, struggling with her emotion.

"You don't know? You buy without even asking the price?" he pursued.

The enormity of the offense crushed his irritation; it struck at the
very foundations of his trust in Deena's judgment, at her whole future
usefulness to him; he almost felt as if his bank account were not in
his own keeping.

She tried to answer, but no words would come; explanations were beyond
her powers, and she left the room, shutting the door behind her. A
passion of tears would have made the situation bearable, but when you
are the lady of the house and unexpected company is coming to tea, and
you have but one servant, you have to deny yourself such luxuries.

Deena went for a moment into the open air while she steadied her
nerves; she forced herself to think what she could add to the evening
meal, and succeeded in burying her mortification in a dish of smoked
beef and eggs.

Old Mrs. Ponsonby had never given in to late dinners, and Simeon's
digestion was regulated to the more economical plan of a light supper
or tea at seven o'clock.

Deena gave the necessary orders and went upstairs to her own room. One
blessing was hers--a bedroom to herself. Simeon had given her his
mother's room and retained his own, which was directly in the rear.
She shut the communicating door, and was glad she had done so when she
heard his step in the passage and knew he had come to make the brief
toilet he thought necessary for tea. She tore off her finery--hung the
pretty costume in her closet, and, as she laid her hat on the shelf,
registered a vow that no power on earth should induce her to pay for
it with Ponsonby money. Though the clock pointed to ten minutes to
seven, she shook down her hair and parted it in the severe style that
had won its way to her mother-in-law's heart. At this point Simeon's
door opened, and Deena remembered, with regret, that she had omitted
to tell him that French was coming to tea. He was already halfway
downstairs, but she came out into the passageway and called him. He
stopped, gave a weary sigh, and came back.

"I forgot to tell you Mr. French is coming to tea," she said, quite in
her usual tone.

"Who asked him?" demanded Simeon, and Deena, too proud to put the
responsibility on French, where it belonged, said: "I did."

Simeon was not an ill-tempered man, but he had had an exasperating
day, and his wife's conduct had offended his prejudices; he was not in
a company frame of mind, and was at small pains to conceal his
feelings; he hardly looked at her as he said:

"I do not question your right to ask people to the house, but I should
be glad to be consulted. My time is often precious beyond what you can
appreciate, and I happen to be exceptionally busy to-night--even
French will be an unwelcome interruption."

"I shall remember your wish," Deena said, quietly, and returned to her
room.

A moment later she heard Stephen arrive, and the study door shut
behind him.

Her toilet was soon made. She knew every idiosyncrasy of the hooks and
buttons of her well-worn afternoon frock. It was dark blue, of some
clinging material that fell naturally into graceful lines, and was
relieved at the throat and wrists by embroidered bands always
immaculate. The damp sea breeze had ruffled her hair into rebellion
against the sleekness Simeon approved, so that, in spite of her
efforts, some effects of the holiday still lingered. Suppressed tears
had made violet shadows under her eyes, and her mouth--sweet and
sensitive like a child's--drooped a little in recollection of her
annoyances, but, all the same, she was a very beautiful young woman,
whether sad or merry.

The study door was still shut as she passed downstairs and into the
little parlor. Her workbasket was standing by her chair, piled high
with mending that she had neglected for her pleasuring. It was
Saturday night, and no good housewife should let the duties of one
week overlap the next. Simeon's aphorism, "A day off means a night
on," seemed likely to be her experience with darning needle and
patches, but it was a quarter past seven, and she deferred beginning
her task till after tea.

The servant announced the meal, and by Deena's orders knocked at the
study door, but got no response; indeed, the _pièce de résistance_--the
smoked beef and eggs--had almost hardened into a solid cake before the
friends emerged, arm in arm, and followed Deena to the table. French
drew out her chair with that slight exaggeration of courtesy that lent
a charm to all he did, and with his hands still on the bar he bent
over her and said--smiling the while at Simeon:

"I have been telling your husband of what I hinted to you this
afternoon, Mrs. Ponsonby; the expedition to Patagonia and his chance
to join it."

Simeon's brow contracted. It was disagreeable to him to have momentous
affairs like his own discussed by anticipation with Deena--Deena, who
was only a woman, and he now feared a silly one at that.

"It is no secret, then!" said Simeon, contemptuously, and added,
turning to his wife: "Be good enough not to speak of this before the
servant; I should be sorry to have the faculty hear of such a thing
from anyone but me."

She grew scarlet, but managed to murmur a word of acquiescence.
Stephen looked amazed; he thought he must be mistaken in the rudeness
of his friend's manner, and then began making imaginary excuses for
him. Of course, the tea table was not the place for confidences, and,
naturally, a man would prefer telling such things privately to his
wife, and the rebuke was meant for him, not for Mrs. Ponsonby. How
lovely she looked--even prettier than in those smart clothes she had
worn in the morning. He wondered whether Ponsonby knew how absolutely
perfect she was.

The servant was much in the room, and the talk turned on the
progressive spirit of Argentina, its railroads, its great natural
resources, its vast agricultural development. It was a dialogue
between the men, for Simeon addressed himself exclusively to
French--what could a woman know of what goes to make the wealth of
nations!--and, as for Stephen, he was still uncomfortable from the
failure of his first effort to bring her into the discussion.

When tea was over Simeon pushed back his chair and was about to stalk
from the room, when he remembered that French was his guest, and
halted to let him go out first, but when French waited beside him to
let Deena pass, an expression of impatience crossed her husband's
face, as if the precious half seconds he could so ill spare from his
work, in order to reach conclusions, were being sacrificed to dancing
master ceremonials.

Deena sat sewing till Stephen came to bid her good-night.

"I think it is all arranged," he said, but without the joyousness of
his first announcement. He had, perhaps, lost a little of his interest
in his friend, Ponsonby, since the incident at the tea table.

Deena, with a woman's instinct, guessed at his feelings, and made no
effort to detain him. She was tired and discouraged, and would gladly
have gone to bed when their guest departed, except for a suspicion
that Simeon would want to talk things over with her, in spite of his
seeming indifference. She was not mistaken. In ten minutes he came
into the parlor and threw himself wearily on the sofa.

"Deena," he said, and his tone was kind, "if I should go away for six
months, do you think you could manage without me?"

"I am sure I could," she answered, cheerfully, "and I want to say to
you, now that you have opened the subject, that you must not let my
expenses stand in your way. I know, of course, if you give up your
college work, part of your salary would naturally pass to the person
who, for the time, undertakes your duties, and I have been thinking
that a simple plan would be to rent this house."

The idea was not quite agreeable to Simeon--the old house was part of
himself; he had been born there; his love for his mother overflowed
into every rickety chair; but the common-sense commercial value of the
scheme made him regard Deena with revived respect.

"It is hardly practicable," he said. "In the first place, it is too
old-fashioned to attract, and, in the second, there is no market for
furnished houses at Harmouth."

"Mrs. Barnes would take it, I fancy," said Deena. "She is the mother
of the student who was hurt last week in the football match. She is
trying everywhere to find a furnished house so that she can take care
of him and yet let him stay on here. I think we could rent it, Simeon,
and I should need so little--so very little to keep me while you are
gone."

He took off his spectacles and sat up.

"It isn't a bad idea," he said, almost gayly. "The rent would pay the
taxes and give you a small income besides, and leave me practically
free. You have relieved my mind of a serious worry. Thank you, Deena."

"You will see the president to-morrow?" she asked.

He hesitated before admitting that such was his intention; it was one
thing for his wife to meet his difficulties with practical
suggestions, and quite another for her to put intrusive questions.

"You shall be informed when things take a definite shape," he said,
pompously. "Good-night, my dear; I shall be at work on my galley proof
till daylight."

"Good-night, Simeon," she said, gently. "I am sorry I displeased you
today."

He mumbled something about young people having to make mistakes, but
his mumble was pleasant, and then he crossed to her side, and kissed
her forehead.

She felt the pucker of his lips like wrinkled leather, but she told
herself it was kind in Simeon to kiss her.

As she laid her head on her pillow, she thought:

"He never had the curiosity to ask what I proposed to do with myself
when my home and husband were taken from me," and the tears came at
last, unchecked.


CHAPTER III.

Simeon was gone--gone with his clothes packed in the sole leather
trunk that his father had used before him, but with an equipment for
botanizing as modern and extended as his personal arrangements were
meager.

The house was rented to Mrs. Barnes, the mother of the too ardent
champion of the football field--but as her son was too suffering to be
moved for several weeks to come, Deena had leisure to get the house in
order and habituate herself to the idea of being homeless.

Simeon behaved liberally in money matters; that is, he arranged that
the rent should be paid to his wife, and he gave her a power of
attorney which was to make her free of his bank account should
anything delay his return beyond her resources. At the same time the
injunctions against spending were so solemn that she understood she
was to regard her control of his money as a mere formality--a
peradventure--made as one makes his will, anticipating the unlikely.

The faculty made no objection to Simeon's going; indeed, his
researches were thought likely to redound to the high scientific
reputation that Harmouth particularly cherished, and Stephen French
had taken care to foster this impression.

The day he left was sharp for October; a wood fire crackled on the
hearth in the dining room, and Deena, pale and calm, sat behind the
breakfast service and made his coffee for the last time in many
months. He ate and drank, and filled in the moments with the Harmouth
_Morning Herald_, and his wife's natural courtesy forbade her
interrupting him. Without a word he stretched his arm across the table
with his cup to have it refilled, and Deena, feeling her
insignificance as compared with the morning news, still dared not
speak. When finally he pushed back his chair, the little carryall was
at the door waiting to take him and his luggage to the train.

"You will write from New York, Simeon, and again by the pilot," she
urged, following him into the hall. "And where is your first
port--Rio? Then from Rio, and as often as you can."

He was stuffing the pockets of his overcoat with papers and pamphlets,
but he nodded assent.

She came a step nearer and laid her hand on his arm.

"Be sure _I_ shall try to do as you would wish," she half whispered,
and there were tears in her eyes.

"To be sure, to be sure," said Simeon, with a kind of embarrassment.
"Oh, yes, _I_ shall write frequently--if not to you, to French, who
will keep you informed. Don't forget to make your weekly contribution
to your mother's housekeeping. _I_ cannot allow you to be a burden on
them during my absence; and consult Stephen whenever you are in doubt.
Good-by, Deena--I am sorry to leave you."

He puckered his lips into the hard wrinkles that made his kisses so
discreet, and gave her a parting embrace. She stood at the open door
watching the distribution of his luggage, which he superintended with
anxious care, and then he stepped into the one free seat reserved for
him, and the driver squeezed himself between a trunk and roll of rugs,
and they were off.

Simeon waved his hand, and even leaned far out from the carriage
window and smiled pleasantly, and Deena wiped her eyes, and began the
awful work of making an old house, bristling with the characteristic
accumulations of several generations, impersonal enough to rent. She
had plenty to do to keep her loneliness in abeyance, but in the back
of her consciousness there was a feeling that she had no abiding
place. Her family had urged her to marry Simeon, and he was now
throwing her back upon her family, and her dignity was hurt.

At sunset Stephen came to see how she was getting on, and they had a
cup of tea beside the dining-room fire, and talked about the voyage
and the ports Simeon would touch at; and Stephen, who had the power of
visualizing the descriptions he met with in his reading, made her see
his word-painted pictures so clearly that she exclaimed:

"When were you in South America, Mr. French?" and he laughed and
declared himself a fraud.

They talked on till the firelight alone challenged the darkness, and
then French remembered he was dining out, and left her with an
imagination aglow with all the wonders Simeon was to see. Lest she
should be lonely, he undid a roll of papers, and took out several new
magazines which he said would keep her amused till bedtime, and
somehow he put new courage into her heart.

Presently she went into the study and lit the Welsbach over the table,
and curled herself up in Simeon's great chair to enjoy her
periodicals, and then her eye fell upon a parcel of proof, directed
but not sent, and she read the address, weighed and stamped the
package, and rang the bell for the servant to post it. As she took up
her magazine once more, she noticed on the outside cover the same name
of street and building as on Simeon's direction, and she wondered
whether the same publishers lent themselves to fact and fancy.

Her servant brought her something to eat on a tray--women left to
themselves always find economy in discomfort--and she nibbled her
chicken and read her stories till she felt surfeited with both, and
fell to pondering on what made a story effective. Her eye lit upon a
short poem at the end of a page; it seemed to her poor to
banality--did it please the public or the editor? Her own verses were
a thousand times better.

She sat up suddenly with a heightened color and shining eyes, and
laughed out loud. She had an inspiration. She, too, would become a
contributor to that great publishing output; she would try her luck at
making her brains pay her bills. The name "Mrs. Simeon Ponsonby" would
carry weight with the magazine she selected, but, while disclosing her
identity to the editor, she determined to choose a pen name, fearing
her husband's disapproval.

From childhood Deena had loved to express herself in rhyme, and of
late years she had found her rhyming--so she modestly called it--a
safety valve to a whole set of repressed feelings which she was too
simple to recognize as starved affections, and which she thought was
nature calling to her from without. It was nature, but calling from
within, thrilling her with the beauty of things sensuous and driving
her for sympathy to pen and ink.

Tossing down her book, she ran to her own room, unlocked a drawer,
took out an old portfolio and returned to the study. There were,
perhaps, twenty poems she had thought worth preserving, and her eye
traveled over page after page as she weighed the merits and defects of
each before making her choice. A sensitive ear had given her admirable
imitative powers in versification, and her father, before dissipation
had dulled his intellect, had been a man of rare cultivation and
literary taste. Deena, among all his children, was the only one whose
education he had personally superintended, and she brought to her
passion for poetry some critical acumen.

She finally selected a song of the Gloucester fishermen she had
written two years before--a song of toil and death--but with a refrain
that effaced the terror with the dance of summer seas. She wrote a
formal note to the editor, saying the price was fifteen dollars, that
if accepted the signature was to be Gerald Shelton, and the check to
be made to her, and she signed her own name. Simeon should know as
soon as he came home, but she thought he could have no objection to
Geraldine Ponsonby accepting a check for the supposititious Gerald
Shelton.

Before all this was accomplished, her servant had gone to bed and
Deena, afraid to be left alone downstairs in a house so prone to
spooky noises, followed her example, but alas! not to sleep. She
tossed on her bed, sacred for many years to the ponderous weight of
old Mrs. Ponsonby, till suddenly all she had suffered from the maxims
and example of her mother-in-law took form, and she wove a story half
humorous, half pathetic, that she longed to commit to paper; but her
delicacy forbade. She was even ashamed to have found a passing
amusement at the expense of Simeon's mother, and she tried to make her
mind a blank and go to sleep. Toward morning she must have lost
consciousness, for she dreamed--or thought she dreamed--that old Mrs.
Ponsonby sat in her hard wooden rocking-chair by the window--the chair
with the patchwork cushion fastened by three tape bows to the ribs of
its back; the chair Simeon had often told her was "mother's favorite."
The old lady rocked slowly, and her large head and heavy figure were
silhouetted against the transparent window shade. A sound of wheels
came from the street, and she raised the shade and looked out, leaning
back, in order to follow the disappearing object till it was out of
range, and then she buried her face in her hands and sobbed the low,
hopeless sobs of old-age.

Deena found herself sitting up in bed, the early daylight making "the
casement slowly grow a glimmering square." The impression of her dream
was so vivid that the depression weighed upon her like something
physical. It was impossible to sleep, and at seven o'clock she got up
to dress, having heard the servant go downstairs. On her way to her
bath she passed the rocking-chair, and lying directly in her path was
a little card, yellow with age. Deena picked it up and read: "From
Mother to Simeon." The coincidence worked so on her imagination that
she sank into the nearest chair trembling from head to foot, and then
she reflected that she must have pulled the card out of the table
drawer when she went to fetch the portfolio the night before, and she
called herself a superstitious _silly_, and made her bath a little
colder than usual, as a tonic to her nerves. Cold water and hot food
work wonders, and after breakfast young Mrs. Ponsonby forgot she had
ever had a predecessor.

Her family paid her flying visits during the day, with a freedom
unknown in Simeon's reign, and she worked hard at her preparations for
renting, but in the evening, when the house was quiet, she settled
herself at the study table and made her first attempt at story
writing, this time steering clear of the personal note that had
brought such swift reprisal the night before. The occupation was
absorbing; she neither desired nor missed companionship. She was not
the first person to find life's stage amply filled by the puppets of
her own imagination.

At the end of the week two things had happened. _The Illuminator_ had
accepted her poem, and her story was finished. She determined to
submit it to Stephen, and yet when he looked in at five o'clock, she
was ashamed to ask him; what she had thought so well of the night
before, in the excitement of work, suddenly seemed to her beneath
contempt.

He lingered later than usual, for he mistook her preoccupation for
unhappiness, and hated to leave her alone.

"When do you move to your mother's?" he asked, for he thought anything
better than her present desolation; the genteel poverty brought about
by Mr. Shelton's habits, the worldliness of Mrs. Shelton, and the
demands upon time and temper made by the younger brothers and sisters,
were only the old conditions under which she had grown up.

"Next week," she said, sadly. "I shall be sorry to leave here."

"You are not lonely, then, poor little lady?" he said, kindly, while
he searched her face to see whether she told the whole truth.

His eyes were so merry, his smile so encouraging, that Deena blurted
out her request.

"I haven't felt lonely," she said, "because I have been writing a
foolish story, and my characters have been my companions. I am sure it
is no good, and yet my head is a little turned at having expressed
myself on paper. Like Dr. Johnson's simile of the dog walking on its
hind legs, the wonder isn't to find it ill done, but done at all. I am
trying to screw my courage to the point of asking you----"

"To be sure I will," he interrupted, eagerly, "and what is a great
deal stronger proof of friendship, I'll tell you what I think, even if
my opinion is nihilistic."

He followed her into the study, and she laid her manuscript on the
table and left him without a word.

The story was the usual magazine length, about five thousand words,
and Deena's handwriting was as clear and direct as her character. At
the end of half an hour she heard his voice calling her name, and she
joined him.

"It is very creditable," he said. "It fairly glows with vitality.
Without minute description, you have conveyed your story in pictures
which lodge in the imagination; but in construction it is poor--your
presentment of the plot is amateurish, and you have missed making your
points tell by too uniform a value to each."

"I understand you," said Deena, looking puzzled, "and yet, somehow,
fail to apply what you say to what I have written."

He drew a chair for her beside his own, and began making a rapid
synopsis of her story, to which he applied his criticism, showing her
what should be accentuated, what only hinted, what descriptions were
valuable, what clogged the narrative. She was discouraged but
grateful.

"You advise me to destroy it?" she asked.

"I advise you to rewrite it," he answered. Then, after a pause, he
asked: "Why do you want to write?"

"For money," she answered.

"But Simeon told me," French remonstrated, "that he had left you the
rent of this house as well as part of his salary, and a power of
attorney that makes you free of all he possesses. Why add this kind of
labor to a life that is sober enough already? Amuse yourself; look the
way you did that day at Wolfshead; be young!"

"Simeon is very generous," she said, loyally, silent as to the
restrictions put upon his provisions for her maintenance, as well as
the fact that his salary only covered the letter of credit he took
with him for such expenses as he might incur outside the expedition.
"In spite of his kindness, can't you understand that I am proud to be
a worker? Have you lived so long in the companionship of New England
women without appreciating their reserves of energy? I have to make
use of mine!"

"Then use it in having 'a good time.' I conjure you, in the name, as
well as the language, of young America."

Deena shook her head, and French stood hesitating near the door,
wondering what he could do to reawaken the spirit of enjoyment that
had danced in her eyes the day at Wolfshead.

"Will you dine with me to-morrow if I can get Mrs. McLean to chaperon
us?" he asked.

The phrase "chaperon us" was pleasant to him; it implied they had a
common interest in being together, and her companionship meant much to
him. He smiled persuasively--waiting, hat in hand, for her answer.

Deena felt an almost irresistible desire to say yes--to follow the
suggestions of this overmastering delightful companion who seemed to
make her happiness his care, but she managed to refuse.

"Thank you very much," she murmured, "it is quite impossible."

It was not at all impossible, as Stephen knew, and he turned away with
a short good-night. He wondered whether his friend's wife were a
prude.

Undoubtedly the refusal was prudent, whether Mrs. Ponsonby were a
prude or no, but it had its rise in quite a different cause. She had
no dress she considered suitable for such an occasion. Her wedding
dress still hung in ghostly splendor in a closet all by itself, but
that was too grand, and the others of her trousseau had been few in
number and plain in make, and would now have been consigned to the rag
bag had she seen any means of supplying their place. They were
certainly too shabby to grace one of Stephen's beautiful little
dinners, which were the pride of Harmouth.

Deena's ideas of French in his own _entourage_ as opposed to him in
hers were amusing. Viewed in the light of Simeon's friend, voluntarily
seeking their companionship and sharing their modest hospitality, they
met on terms of perfect equality; but when associated with his own
surroundings he seemed transformed into a person of fashion, haughty
and aloof. It was quite absurd. Stephen was as simple and
straightforward in one relation as the other, but perhaps the truth
was that Deena was afraid of his servants.

The house was the most attractive in the town, and stood in the midst
of well-kept grounds with smooth lawns and conservatories, and Deena
felt oppressed by so much prosperity. On the few occasions when Simeon
had taken her there to lunch on Sunday--the only dissipation he
allowed himself---she had thought the butler supercilious, and the
maid who came to help her off with her wraps, snippy. She had
suspected the woman of turning her little coat inside out after it was
confided to her care, and sneering at its common lining.

Deena was too superior a woman not to be ashamed of such thoughts, but
the repression of her married life had developed a morbid sensitiveness,
and she was always trying to adjust the unadjustable--Simeon's small
economies to her own ideas of personal dignity; she hardly realized
how much the desire to live fittingly in their position had to do with
her wish to earn an income.

While Stephen's criticisms were still fresh in her mind she rewrote
her story, and when she read it again--which was not till several days
had passed--she felt she had made large strides in the art she so
coveted.


CHAPTER IV.

When affairs of a family once begin to stir, they seem unable to
settle till a flurry takes place quite bewildering to the stagnant
ideas of the easy-going. The fact that Deena was coming back to her
old quarters in the third story was the first event to excite a
flutter of interest in the Shelton home circle; with Mr. Shelton,
because she was his favorite child; with Mrs. Shelton, because Deena
would both pay and help; with the children, because they could count
upon her kindness no matter how outrageous their demands. The next
thing that happened, while it hastened her coming, entirely eclipsed
it. Fortunately it was delayed until the day before the Ponsonby house
was to be handed over to its new tenant, Mrs. Barnes.

Mrs. Shelton was busy clearing a closet for her daughter's use when
she heard her husband calling to her from below.

"Mary," he said, "here is a telegram."

They were not of everyday occurrence, and Mrs. Shelton's fears were
for Polly, her one absent child, as she joined her husband and
stretched out her hand for the yellow envelope.

The magnetic heart of a mother is almost as invariably set to the
prosperous daughter as to the good-for-nothing son; there is a subtle
philosophy in it, but quite aside from the interest of this story.

The telegram said:

    Mrs. Thomas Beck's funeral will take place on Thursday
    at 11 A. M.

It was dated Chicago, and signed "Herbert Beck."

"Who is Mrs. Beck?" asked Mr. Shelton, crossly; the morning was not
his happiest time.

"She is my first cousin, once removed," Mrs. Shelton answered, with
painstaking accuracy. "You must remember her, John. She was my
bridesmaid, and we corresponded for years after she married and moved
to Chicago until"--here Mrs. Shelton's pale face flushed---"I once
asked her to lend me some money, and told her how badly things were
going with us, and she refused--very unkindly, I thought at the time;
but perhaps it was just as well--we might never have paid it back."

It was Mr. Shelton's turn to flush, but he only said, irritably:

"And why the devil should they think you want to go to her funeral?"

Mrs. Shelton professed herself unable to guess, unless the fact that
the family was nearly extinct had led her cousin to remember her on
her deathbed.

"Well, they might have saved themselves the expense of the telegram,"
Mr. Shelton grumbled, adding, sarcastically, "unless they would like
to pay our expenses to Chicago, and entertain us when we get there!"

It appeared later that was exactly what they hoped to do. A registered
letter, written at Mrs. Beck's request, when her death was
approaching, arrived within an hour. She begged her cousin's
forgiveness for past unkindness, told her that she had left her the
savings of her lifetime--though the main part of the estate passed to
Mr. Beck's nephew--and besought Mrs. Shelton, as her only relation, to
follow her to her grave. Young Mr. Beck, the said nephew, who wrote
the letter, added that the house should be kept up for Mrs. Shelton's
convenience till after her visit, and that his aunt had expressed a
wish that her clothes and jewels should be given to Mrs. Shelton.

"We'll go, Mary!" said Mr. Shelton, blithe as a lark--several things
had raised his spirits!--and Mrs. Shelton, with a burst of her old
energy, borrowed some mourning, packed her trunk, summoned Deena and
caught the train, with five minutes to spare.

And so it happened that when Mr. French called, as was his daily
custom, to take his last cup of tea with Mrs. Ponsonby before her
flitting, he found the house in the temporary charge of the servant
and Master Dicky Shelton, a shrimpish boy of thirteen, whose red hair
and absurd profile bore just enough likeness to his sister's beauty to
make one feel the caricature an intentional impertinence.

French had got into the drawing room before he understood what the
servant was saying. Deena had gone, leaving no message for him! His
first feeling of surprise was succeeded by one of chagrin; these
afternoon chats by her fireside had become so much to him, so much a
part of his daily life, that he hated to think they had no
corresponding value to her. He was recalled from these sentimental
regrets by the irate voice of Master Shelton in dispute with Bridget.

"She--_said_--there--was cake! Mrs.
Ponsonby--_said_--there--was--cake--and--that I--could--have some!"
each word very emphatic, judicial and accusative. Then followed a
rattling tail to the sentence: "And if you have eaten it all, it was
horridly greedy in you, and I hope it will disagree with you--so I
do!"

Bridget now came forward and addressed French.

"There ain't so much as a cheese-paring left in the house, Mr. French.
Mrs. Ponsonby's gone off at a moment's notice, and I'm off myself
to-morrow; and there sits that boy asking for cake! He's been here now
the better part of an hour, trackin' mud over the clean carpets till
I'm a'most ready to cry."

Dick seized his hat and moved sulkily to the door, hurling back
threats as he walked.

"Just you wait! We'll see--you think I won't tell, but I will!"

French perceived that the case was to be carried to the Supreme Court
for Deena's decision, and to save her annoyance at a time when he felt
sure she was both tired and busy, he made a proposition to the heir of
the Sheltons that established his everlasting popularity with that
young person.

"Come home with me, Dicky," he said, "and if my people haven't any
cake, I can at least give you all the hothouse grapes you can eat, and
some to carry home. How does that strike you?"

"Done!" cried Dicky, slipping his hand under Stephen's arm, and, after
one horrid grimace at Bridget, he allowed himself to be led away.

The sun had nearly disappeared when they reached French's house, which
was a little outside of the town, and he reflected that he must
quickly redeem his promise, and dispatch his young companion home
before the darkness should make his absence a cause of alarm. He rang
the bell by way of summoning a servant, and then, opening the door
with his latchkey, he invited Dicky to enter.

It was a most cheerful interior. The staircase, wide and
old-fashioned, faced you at the far end of the hall, and on the first
landing a high-arched window was glowing with the level rays of the
setting sun. A wood fire blazed on the hearth, and on the walls the
portraits of all the Frenches, who for two hundred years had made a
point of recording their individualities in oil, looked down to
welcome each arrival.

Dicky, who wore no overcoat, presented his nether boy to the fire,
while he gazed at the portraits with a frown. He thought them
extremely plain.

A servant came from some hidden door, took his master's coat and hat
and received an order in which such inspiring words as "cakes, or
chocolates, or dessert of any kind," gave the earnest of things hoped
for.

"And, Charles," Mr. French concluded, "tell Marble to bring the things
as quickly as he can to the library, with a good supply of grapes."

Dicky smiled a slow smile. He could even allow his mind to wander to
other things, now that his refreshment was drawing nigh.

"I say, Mr. French, who is that old cove over the door, with a frill
on his shirt and a ribbon to his eyeglass? He is nearly as ugly as
brother Simeon."

Stephen felt genuine alarm; he was unused to children.

"That," he said, "is my great-grandfather. I don't think he is much
like your brother-in-law, I must confess."

"He doesn't look quite so musty," said Dicky, reflectively. "Did it
ever seem strange to you, Mr. French, that a pretty girl like Deena
could marry Mr. Ponsonby?"

"He is a very distinguished man," Stephen replied, in an agony of
embarrassment. "You ought to appreciate what an honor it is to be
connected by marriage with Professor Ponsonby."

"We ain't intimate," said Dicky, lightly, and his tone betrayed how
much Simeon was the loser by a restricted intercourse.

"One of these days when you are a little older you will be very proud
of his reputation," Stephen protested.

Dicky walked to the end of the great Persian rug on the blue
pattern--it was evidently a point of honor to avoid the red--before he
answered:

"Well, I'm blamed glad he's gone away, anyhow." And then, to French's
relief, Marble came and announced in his unctuous voice:

"The tray is in the library, sir," and all thought of Simeon was
abandoned.

That feast at Stephen's lived in Dicky's memory for years. It
supported him through the disappointments of many a dessertless
dinner--in the hopeless fancy engendered by seeing sweets pressed to
the lips of others; it won for him an easy victory in times of
gustatory boasting when at school. He could affirm, with truth, that
for once he had had his fill of the very best.

With Stephen also the experience was a revelation. The capacity of his
guest caused him amazement mingled with fear.

  And still he gazed
  And still the wonder grew
  That one small boy
  Could hold all he could chew.

The chiming of the clock reminded French that it was already dark and
high time Dicky was dispatched home.

"Do you want to take these grapes home with you," asked Stephen, "or
shall I send you a basket of them tomorrow?"

Dicky looked coy.

"If you don't mind," he said, "I guess I'll take the chocolates, and
you can send the grapes to-morrow."

He pulled a very dirty handkerchief from his pocket, in order to
provide a wrapping for the chocolates, and, as he spread it on the
table, a letter dropped out. He turned his eyes upon French with an
expression of sincere regret.

"I say!" he began. "Now, isn't that too bad! And Deena so particular
that you should get the note before tea time. I'm awfully sorry, Mr.
French--it's all Bridget's fault. Deena said if I got that note to you
before five o'clock I should have a piece of cake, and when Bridget
wouldn't give it to me it made me so mad I forgot everything. I wanted
to kill her."

"I know just how you felt," said Stephen, with irony.

Dicky was tying his chocolates into a hard ball, but with the
finishing grimy knot he tossed responsibility to the winds.

"Oh, well," he said, soothingly, "you've got it now, at any rate, so
there's no occasion for saying just _when_ I gave it to you, unless
you want to get a fellow into trouble."

Stephen looked grave; he did want Mrs. Ponsonby to know why he had
failed to follow her suggestion of taking tea with her at her mother's
house--and also he hated evasion.

"As it happens, that is the exact point I wish your sister to know. I
shall not tell her, but I expect you, as a gentleman, to tell of
yourself."

"All right," said Dicky, mournfully. "Good-night, Mr. French."


CHAPTER V.

Deena had ample time to get accustomed to the old home life before her
parents returned, for she had already been in charge for two weeks and
still they tarried.

It was evident that young Mr. Beck wished to carry out his aunt's
bequests in the spirit as well as the letter of her instructions, for
trunks of linen and silver began to arrive from Chicago which gave
some idea of the loot obtained from the dismantling of Mrs. Beck's
fine house. The young Sheltons took the keenest interest in unpacking
these treasures. Children are naturally communistic. They enjoy
possessions held in common almost as much as their individual
acquisitions--only in a different way. There is more glorification in
the general good luck, but not such far-reaching privilege.

In the midst of these excitements Deena received a letter the
possession of which no one seemed inclined to dispute with her. It was
from Simeon, posted at Montevideo, and containing the first news of
his voyage. His wife read it in the retirement of her own room, but
she might have proclaimed it from the rostrum, so impersonal was its
nature. He had made an attempt, however, to meet what he conceived to
be feminine requirements in a correspondent, for the handwriting was
neat, and the facts he recorded of an unscientific nature. He
described his cabin in the vessel, also his fellow passengers; not
humorously, but with an appreciation of their peculiarities Deena had
not anticipated; he introduced her to flying fish, and then to the
renowned albatross, and he conducted her up the river Platte to
Montevideo, which he described with the ponderous minuteness of a
guide book. At the end he made a confidence--namely, that even his
summer flannels had proved oppressive in that climate--but the
intimacy of his letter went no further, and he omitted to mention any
personal feelings in regard to their separation.

It was an admirable family letter, instructive and kind, and rather
pleasanter and lighter in tone than his conversation. Deena was glad
that no exhortations to economy made it too private to show to French
when he called that afternoon. She but anticipated his object in
coming. He also had a letter which he had brought for her to read, and
they sat on opposite sides of the fire, enjoying their exchanged
correspondence.

But what a difference there was in the letters; Deena's had three
pages of pretty handwriting; Stephen's six of closely written scrawl.
In Deena's the ideas barely flowed to the ink; in Stephen's they
flowed so fast they couldn't get themselves written down--he used
contractions, he left out whole words; he showed the interest he felt
in the work he left behind in endless questions in regard to his
department; he thanked Stephen more heartily than he had ever done by
word of mouth for suggesting him for the appointment, and finally he
gave such an account of his voyage as one intelligent man gives
another.

Deena recognized her place in her husband's estimation when she
finished his letter to Stephen, and said, with pardonable sarcasm:

"Simeon saves the strong meat of observation for masculine digestion,
and I get only the _hors-d'oeuvres_; perhaps he has discriminated
wisely."

The mere fact of being able to exchange letters with Deena was a
revelation to French, and as he walked home from their interview his
fancy was busy putting himself in Simeon's place. The paths that lead
through another man's kingdom are never very safe for the wandering
feet of imagination. It is an old refrain, "If I were king," the song
of a usurper, if only in thought.

If he were king of Deena Ponsonby's life, Stephen thought, would he
write letters that another chap might read? Would he dwell upon the
shape of an albatross, when there must be memories--beautiful, glowing
memories--between them to recall? Pen and ink was a wretched medium
for love, but the heart of the world has throbbed to its inspiration
before now. Why, if a woman like Mrs. Ponsonby shared his hearth, he
would let Tierra del Fuego, with its flora and its fauna, sink into
the sea and be damned to it, before he'd put the hall door between
himself and her. His own front door had suggested the idea, and he
shut it with a bang.

He picked up the letters he found waiting on the hall table, and went
directly to his library, passing through a room that would have been a
drawing-room had a lady presided there, but to the master served only
as a defense against intrusion into the privacy of his sanctum.

The postman had left a pile of bills and advertisements, but there was
one letter in Ben Minthrop's familiar writing, and Stephen turned up
his light and settled himself to read it. Ben wrote:

    DEAR FRENCH: When I asked you to spend Christmas with us in
    Boston I had no idea that, like the Prophet Habbacuc, I, with my
    dinner pail, was to be lifted by the hair of my head, and
    transported to Babylon--in other words, New York. But so it is!
    If you know your Apocrypha, this figurative language will seem
    apt, but in case you should like my end of it explained I will
    leave the mystifications of Bel and the Dragon and come down to
    plain speech.

    My father has conceived the idea that I am one of the dawning
    lights in the financial world, and he has decided to open a
    branch office of our business in New York and to put me at its
    head. I must confess that the whole thing is very pleasant and
    flattering, and it has stirred all the decent ambitions I
    have--that I have any I owe to you, old fellow--and I am rather
    keen to be off.

    We have taken a house not far from the park in East Sixty-fifth
    Street, where a welcome will always be yours, and where Polly
    and I hope you will eat your Christmas dinner.

    Perhaps you may reflect that it is a serious thing to befriend
    straying men and dogs; they are apt to regard past kindness as a
    guarantee of future interest in their welfare. I do not believe,
    however, that I am making too large a demand upon your
    friendship in asking for your good wishes in this pleasant turn
    to my future affairs.

    Of course I want one more favor. If you have any influence with
    Deena Ponsonby, will you urge her to spend the winter with us?
    Polly is writing to her by this same mail, but I know the New
    England conscience will suggest to Deena that anything amusing
    is wrong, and so you might explain that I am nervous about
    Polly's health, and that I look to her to help me get settled
    without overstrain to my wife--in short, administer a dose of
    duty, and she may see her way to coming.

    Ever, my dear French,
                           Sincerely yours,
                                                BENJAMIN MINTHROP.

Anger gives to the natural man a pedal impulse--in plain language, he
wants to kick something. Rage flows from the toes as freely as
gunpowder ran out of the great Panjandrum's boots when he played
"Catch who catch can" on the immortal occasion of the gardener's wife
marrying the barber. Now, Stephen French was a man of habitual
self-restraint, and yet upon reading Ben Minthrop's letter he got up
and--ignoring the poker and tongs--kicked the fire with a savagery
that showed how little the best of us has softened by civilization.
And yet the letter was distinctly friendly, even modest and
grateful--without one kick-inspiring sentence. Stephen began pacing
his library floor, hurling his thoughts broadcast, since there was no
one to listen to his words.

Why were people never content to let well enough alone? he demanded.
There was old Minthrop, with enough money to spoil his son, laying
plans for Ben to muddle away a few millions in New York in the hope of
making more; or even if, by some wild chance, the boy were successful
and doubled it--still one would think the place for an only son was in
the same town with his parents. Of course it was their business, but
when it came to dragging Mrs. Ponsonby into their schemes it was a
different matter. Simeon would disapprove, he knew, and as her adviser
in Simeon's absence, he felt it his duty to tell her to stay at home
with _her_ parents till her husband returned.

And then common sense asserted itself, and he asked himself what Deena
owed to her parents; and why Harmouth was a better place for her than
New York; and what possible difference it could make to Simeon? The
answer came in plain, bold, horrid words, and he shrank from them. The
curse of Nathan was upon him; like David, he had condemned his friend
to absence and danger, and had then promptly fallen in love with his
wife. But not willingly, he pleaded, in extenuation; it had crept upon
him unawares. It was his own secret, he had never betrayed himself,
and so help his God, he would trample it down till he gained the
mastery. Not for one moment would he tolerate disloyalty to his
friend, even in his thoughts. Ben's suggestion was a happy solution of
the situation as far as he was concerned; he would urge Deena to go
before his folly could be suspected. To have any sentiments for a
woman like Mrs. Ponsonby except a chivalrous reverence was an offense
against his manhood.

French was a man who had been brought up to respect ceremonial in
daily living, and he dressed as scrupulously for his lonely dinner as
if a wife presided and expected the courtesy to her toilet. Somebody
has wisely said that unconsciously we lay aside our smaller worries
with our morning clothes, and come down to dinner refreshed in mind as
well as body by the interval of dressing. If Stephen did not exactly
hang up his anxiety with his coat, he at least took a more reasonable
view of his attachment to his neighbor's wife. He began to think he
had exaggerated an extreme admiration into love--that he was an
honorable man and a gentleman, and could keep his secret as many
another had done before him; and that if Deena went away for the
winter it removed the only danger, which was in daily meeting under
terms of established intimacy.

There was to be a lecture at the Athenæum that evening on the
engineering difficulties incident to building the Panama Canal, and
Stephen, who was interested in the subject, made up his mind to start
early and stop for a moment at the Sheltons' to carry out Ben's
request. He took glory to himself for choosing an hour when Mrs.
Ponsonby was likely to be surrounded by a bevy of brothers and
sisters; he would never again try to see her alone.

His very footfall sounded heroic when he ran up the steps and rang the
bell. As he stood within the shelter of the storm door waiting to be
let in, the voices of the young Sheltons reached him, all talking at
once in voluble excitement, and then a hand was laid on the inside
knob and advice offered in a shrill treble.

"You had better run, Deena, if you don't want to be caught," and then
more giggling, and a quick rush across the hall.

Dicky threw open the hall door, and French, glancing up the stairs,
caught sight of a velvet train disappearing round the turn of the
first landing. He took the chances of making a blunder and called:

"Come down, Mrs. Ponsonby. It is I--Stephen French--and I have
something to say to you."

This was first received in silence, and then in piercing whispers, the
little sisters tried to inspire courage:

"Go down, Deena; you don't look a bit _funny_--really."

"'Funny'--ye gods!" thought French, as Deena turned and came slowly
down the stairs. He only wished she did look _funny_, or anything,
except the intoxicating, maddening contrast to her usual sober self
that was descending to him.

She was dressed in black velvet of a fashion evidently copied from a
picture, for the waist was prolonged over the hips in Van Dykes, and
from the shoulders and sleeves Venetian point turned back, displaying
the lovely neck and arms that Polly had so envied. Her hair was
loosely knotted at the back, and on her forehead were straying curls
which were seldom tolerated in the severity of her usual neatness. She
wore a collar of pearls, and her bodice was ornamented with two
sunbursts and a star.

French, who had never seen her in evening dress, was amazed. He seemed
to forget that he had asked speech with her, and stood gazing as if
she were an animated portrait whose exceeding merit left him dumb. He
was recalled alike to his senses and his manners by Dicky, who turned
a handspring over his sister's long train and then addressed Stephen,
when he found himself right-end up.

"I say, Mr. French, mustn't she have been sort of loony to wear a
dress like that, and she sixty-five?"

"Who?" asked French, completely mystified.

"Why, mother's cousin, Mrs. Beck. Didn't you know she had died and
left us things?" said Dicky, proudly. "A trunk full of clothes and
diamond ornaments came to-day, and mother wrote to Deena to unpack it,
and we persuaded her to dress up in this. Don't she look queer? That
Mrs. Beck must have been a dressy old girl."

Deena ignored the explanation. She appeared to treat her costume as a
usual and prosaic affair, and said to Stephen, almost coldly:

"You have something to tell me?"

He wondered whether his eyes had offended her, whether the stupidity
of his admiration had hurt her self-respect. She didn't look at him
squarely and openly, as usual, but kept her head half turned so that
the perfect line of her throat and chin was emphasized, and the tiny
curls at the back of her neck set off the creamy whiteness of her
skin. To tell the truth, Deena had never before worn a low-necked
dress. Prior to her early marriage a simple white muslin, a little
curtailed in the sleeves and transparent over the neck, had been
sufficient for any college dance she went to, and after Simeon had
assumed command, even the white muslin was superfluous, for she never
saw company either at home or abroad. Her present costume was
sufficiently discreet in sleeves--they came almost to the elbow, but
the bodice allowed so liberal a view of neck and shoulders as to cover
the wearer with confusion. She felt exactly as you feel in a dream
when you flit down the aisle of a crowded car in your night clothes,
or inadvertently remove most of your garments in a pew in church, and
with Deena self-consciousness always took the form of dignity.

Stephen pulled himself together.

"I have had a letter from Ben," he said, "who seems to think an appeal
he has made for your company in New York this winter will be more apt
to win a favorable answer if backed up by your _Temporary Adviser_.
That describes the position Simeon indicated for me; doesn't it, Mrs.
Ponsonby?"

She sank back in her chair and, forgetting herself for a moment,
allowed her eyes to meet his with a merry smile.

"This seems to be like a conspiracy to make a hungry man eat!" she
answered. "No urging is necessary to persuade me to go to New
York--why should you and Ben suppose I do not like to do pleasant
things? I shall delight in being with Polly--I shall like the
excitement and the fun--I am perfectly mad to go!"

If it had not been for the exaggeration of the last sentence French
would have been sure of the genuineness of her wishes, but the force
of the expression was so foreign to her usual moderation that he asked
himself whether Deena might not also find a separation desirable. The
thought sent the blood bounding through his veins. If she cared for
him ever so little, it would be easier to let her go--easier if he
knew she suffered too! Then he called himself a coxcomb and a
self-deceiver, and made a grasp at the good resolutions that had
almost escaped him.

"I always knew you possessed that adorable quality, common sense," he
remarked. "Ben and I might have guessed you would do the wise thing.
When men rush hot-footed into the affairs of women, they are apt to
play the fool."

"Is there any reason why I shouldn't go?" she demanded, anxiously.

"On the contrary, every reason why you should; but I feared some
mistaken idea about expense or Simeon's approbation might interfere
with your taking a holiday, which you will enjoy as much as he enjoys
digging up roots in Patagonia."

Deena considered the two points of his answer--expense and Simeon's
approbation--and replied thoughtfully:

"My husband would recognize so simple a duty, and, as far as expense
goes, I am a perfectly independent woman. Didn't you know _our_
story--the one you made me rewrite--sold at once, and, besides that, I
have placed a number of fugitive poems? So I snap my fingers at
expenses till the bank breaks," and she tapped her forehead to
indicate from whence the supply flowed.

"Then make the most of the sensation while it lasts," he said, with
good-natured cynicism, "for expenses have a way of sizing you
up--cleaning out your pockets--and going you one better! If you are
still snapping your fingers when you come back from New York, then,
indeed, you may boast."

A troubled look came into her face.

"Simeon would like me to go to Polly when she is out of health and
needs me," she said, in a tone she meant to be assertive, but which
was only appealing, "and if we are careful about spending, it is
because we are proud and do not wish to incur obligations."

The _we_ was a masterpiece of loyalty, and French was suitably
impressed by it.

"Dear Mrs. Ponsonby," he said, "you speak as if _I_ were likely to
misjudge Simeon, whereas my object in coming here was to prevent
_your_ misjudging him by allowing your sensitive conscience to forbid
pleasures he would be the first to suggest."

The speech was genuine; in Stephen's estimation his friend had noble
qualities, and in bearing testimony to them he was beginning his
chapter of self-discipline. In this interview, at least, he had
preserved a conscience void of offense, and he hastened to say
goodnight before any temptation should assail his discretion. Perhaps,
also--for he was but mortal--the reflection in the parlor mirror of
what was passing in the hall may have accelerated his departure.

For the benefit of an admiring gallery at the head of the stairs,
Master Shelton was performing jugglers' tricks with their visitor's
best silk hat. Twice it had turned a somersault in the air, and twice
safely alighted well down over Dicky's ears, but a third time it might
miss even such a conspicuous mark and be smashed out of symmetry on
the hard floor. French beat a hasty retreat, but he was no match for
Dicky in change of tactics; as he came into the hall that young
gentleman stood stiffly and solemnly waiting to hand him his hat and
open the front door with an air he had copied precisely from Stephen's
own servant the day of the memorable feast. His presumption carried
him a little too far, however, for as he closed the door on Stephen he
favored his sister with a comment that promptly brought its
punishment.

"If I were an old bag of bones like brother Simeon," he said,
grinning, "I shouldn't care to have good-lookin' fellows like Mr.
French running after you twice in the same day, Deena!"

Deena had always been the tenderest of elder sisters, but at this
apparently innocent remark, she first got red as fire, and then,
paling with anger, she rushed at her brother and pulled his ruddy
locks till he cried for mercy, while she burst into tears.

"Stop it!" roared Dicky, burrowing his head in a sofa cushion. "I tell
you, you're hurting me! And I'd like to know what the mischief
_you're_ crying for, anyhow?"

Deena left the room, her face buried in her handkerchief, but she
managed to answer brokenly:

"I will--not--allow--you--to call--my husband--'a bag of bones'!"


CHAPTER VI.

The house the young Minthrops had taken was of a contracted luxury
that oppressed Deena, accustomed as she was to space and sunshine at
Harmouth. She told Ben that fortunes in New York could be gauged by
the amount of light the individual could afford--billionaires had
houses standing free, with light on four sides; millionaires had
corner houses with light on three sides; while ordinary mortals lived
in tunnels more or less magnificent where electric light had often to
do duty for the sun. Ben declared that his income only admitted light
fore and aft, but that with skillful decoration they could at least
travesty the sunshine, and so they tried to reproduce its effects by
wall hangings of faint yellow and pale green, by chintz-covered
bedrooms that seemed to blossom with roses, and living rooms sweet
with fresh flowers. There was no solemn mahogany--no light-absorbing
color on door or window; all was delicately bright and gay as the
tinting of the spring.

Deena worked hard to get the house ready for Polly, who was still in
Boston with her mother-in-law, and seemed quite content to leave the
arranging of her new quarters to her sister and husband, who preceded
her by several weeks; indeed, she was becoming so accustomed to being
waited upon that she considered herself in a fair way of being
spoiled. An heir was expected, and an heir seemed a very important
thing to the elder Minthrops. They treated Polly as a queen bee, and
the rest of the world as slaves to wait upon her. She was behaving in
a way to satisfy their requirements in a daughter-in-law, and life was
to be smoothed accordingly.

Every day brought a fresh suggestion covered by a check. Ben was
invited to select a high-stepping gray horse--a pair of cobs--a tiny
brougham--a victoria--a piano--a pianola. Deena shopped till she
almost sank exhausted, and yet the requests kept coming. If dear Mrs.
Ponsonby didn't mind the trouble, perhaps Polly might be warmer with
sable rugs--perhaps an extra sofa in her room might induce her to lie
down oftener--perhaps a few of those charming lace and linen
tablecloths might make her feel like giving little dinners at home
instead of fatiguing herself by going out to find her amusements.

Deena would have been more than mortal if the image of old Mrs.
Ponsonby had not risen before her eyes in forbidding contrast to so
much indulgence. She realized that the genus mother-in-law has widely
differing species, and yet in her heart she doubted whether Mrs.
Minthrop, with money to anticipate every wish of her only son, loved
him a whit more than frugal, self-denying Mother Ponsonby had loved
her Simeon. Lavishness or thrift, alike they proved a mother's
affection.

Deena executed all the commissions without a shadow of covetousness
and rejoiced in her sister's good fortune; it was reserved for Polly
and Ben, when they took up their life in New York, to show her the
depths of her own loneliness by the fullness of their comradeship, and
her yearning needs by their mutual devotion.

Polly arrived one bleak December day, the week before Christmas,
escorted by Mrs. Minthrop and two maids, and was met at the Grand
Central by her husband in a state of boyish excitement. His delight in
having his wife with him once more was so genuine that Deena forgave
him an amount of fussiness she never before suspected in his
easy-going nature. He altered his orders half a dozen times as to
which carriage should bring her from the train to the house, and
finally ordered both; he repeated half a dozen times the hour at which
the Boston express was due, in order that Deena might make no mistake
about having tea served to the minute, and when he had shut the front
door, on his way to the Grand Central, he came tearing back to ask the
menu for dinner, as Polly was apt to be fanciful about her food. Deena
remembered the time--not two years ago--when it was quantity rather
than quality that balked Polly's appetite, and nearly laughed in his
face, but she loved her big brother-in-law for his forethought.

The curtains were drawn and the lights turned up before the bustle of
arrival drew Deena to the stairs. First old Mrs. Minthrop came,
stopping to commend the house at every step, and then Polly, with her
arm linked in her husband's, chattering volubly at the delight
everything gave her; and Deena, wedged between the elder lady and the
wall in cordial greeting, could not help hearing Ben welcome his wife
to her own home with a sentiment she never suspected in him before.
Polly flew to her sister and kissed and thanked her for all she had
done, and lavished her praises broadcast, and then she insisted upon
pouring out the tea at her own fireside, and Ben perched on the arm of
her chair; and once, when Deena turned suddenly from handing the toast
to Mrs. Minthrop, she saw him kiss Polly's hair.

Her thoughts sped back to her parting with Simeon, with its prosaic
formality---the feel of his puckered lips brushing her forehead. What
a lack of imagination marked all his dealings with her! She felt
rebellious and sad; not that she wanted any of the luxury that
surrounded Polly, but she was hungry for love. She saw suddenly what
marriage ought to be, and the realization frightened her. How was it
she had committed this crime against her own nature? Was it her sin or
her parents' that she had been so blind? Not Simeon's--she exonerated
him, she knew he had given her as much of himself as he had to spare,
and that his conduct was uniform; what it had been at the beginning
was now and for all time, and if she had suddenly become a connoisseur
in husbands she was not the first woman to whom knowledge brought
misery. It was not Simeon's fault that he remained stationary while
her views expanded. Fortunately for Deena's peace of mind, it was Ben
who figured in these reflections as the exponent of what a husband
should be, and she had no suspicion that it was Stephen French who had
waked her from her domestic coma.

Poor sleeping beauty, her conscience had long ago been pricked by her
mother-in-law's spindle, and her whole moral sense infected with the
belief that to keep house wisely was the end and aim of wifely duty.
She reverenced Simeon for his learning and dignity, and felt proud
that so simple a person as herself should have been chosen in marriage
by a professor of Harmouth. On that she had existed for two years, and
now she was waking up to new needs that stirred her like the prince's
kiss.

Life in the young Minthrops' dovecote soon settled down into a
glorified routine. The elder Mrs. Minthrop returned to Boston, leaving
Deena as her lieutenant, and perplexing her with the multiplicity of
her charges; apparently Mrs. Ponsonby was to be Providence to her
sister, with health and happiness under her control. The situation was
paradoxical. Polly was to be denied nothing, but not allowed to have
her own way too freely; she was to be kept amused, but most amusements
were strictly prohibited--she was not to be encouraged to think
herself an invalid, and at the same time her usual occupations were
taken from her. Deena was wise enough to listen and make no promises,
and when she assumed command she contented herself with trying to
stand between her sister and domestic worries.

Christmas came and went without the visit from Stephen, which Ben had
hoped for, and invitations were pouring in for the plethora of social
functions that mark the season's height. Deena came in for her share,
but she felt too much of a stranger to venture alone into the vortex.
Polly entertained in a modest way at home--a few people at dinner, a
friend or two at lunch--and this Deena greatly enjoyed, and had begun
to make herself favorably known to a small circle when a stop was put
to this mild dissipation. The great doctor, who had been charged by
Mrs. Minthrop never to forget her daughter-in-law's inexperience,
issued orders that Polly was to stay in her room. This enforced quiet
found an outlet in a desire to send Deena everywhere. She drove her
forth to dinners and balls, and the high-stepping gray horse was
always at her service, and so the beautiful Mrs. Ponsonby became the
fashion. New York does not ask too many questions in these days about
the husbands of handsome married women who appear as grass widows in
its midst; indeed, the suspicion of a latent romance or scandal gives
a flavor to the interest, and Deena suffered not a whit from the rumor
that she was a deserted wife, with money.

"Oh, yes, there is a husband," the great Mrs. Star admitted. "She
married him for his money, and he has a hobby--fossils, I think it
is--and he has gone to collect them at Cape Horn. She bears his
absence surprisingly well, doesn't she? Old Mrs. Minthrop's son
married the sister, and she begged me to be civil to them. I forget
who she said they were, but _Mayflower_ people, you know."

In this way Deena was passed on, stamped with the hall-mark of the
_Mayflower_. Mrs. Shelton had contributed very generously to her
daughter's outfit for the season in New York. The black velvet picture
dress was only one of several found suitable for her use in the trunk
of finery belonging to the Chicago cousin, and the jewels that had
come into the Shelton family from the same source were worthy of
Deena's beauty. Her clothes were good, and she wore them like a
princess.

One evening late in January, Deena and Ben were dining with a gay
young matron, who, without any especial personal charm herself, had
the faculty of drawing to her house the best element society had to
offer. The engagement had been made for them by Polly, much against
her husband's wishes, and his anxiety at leaving her alone could
hardly be concealed during dinner. As soon as the ladies left the
table he excused himself to his host, and, following the little
hostess into the drawing room, he whispered a few words in her ear,
nodded to Deena and disappeared.

"Your brother-in-law has gone home to his wife, Mrs. Ponsonby," said
the hostess. "I have never seen such devotion." She laughed a trifle
enviously; her own infelicities were the talk of the town.

Deena started forward in alarm.

"Was he sent for? Is my sister ill?" she inquired, nervously, and then
sank back in her chair, smiling, when she found it was only a phase of
young Minthropism.

While her own daylight hours were given to her sister, she was always
pleased to be out of the way in the evening--it left the lovers to
themselves--though she could not quite free herself from a sense of
responsibility to the elder Mrs. Minthrop.

Mrs. Star, who was beside Deena, gave a sniff--if so fine a lady could
be suspected of such a plebeian way of marking her disapprobation.

"My dear," she said, "why should your charming sister be treated as a
prisoner over whom somebody must perpetually keep watch? I have had
six children--they were all healthy and had their full complement of
legs and arms--except Bob, who lost an arm in the Spanish war, but
that doesn't count--and I never was shut up in my room before I had to
be--nor put on a milk diet--nor forbidden reasonable exercise--and I
think the modern doctors are full of fads and greed. Their bills! I
don't know who is rich enough to be ill nowadays!" Here she shut her
eyes and trembled to think of the portion of her own great fortune
that might have transferred itself to the doctor's pockets if her
nursery had not antedated the present school. "It may not seem very
expensive to young Mrs. Minthrop to lie on her sofa and drink
milk--but just wait till she comes to pay for it!"

"I don't believe anyone will care about the bill, Mrs. Star," said
Deena, "so long as Polly keeps well."

"It is bad enough to have food and exercise taken away from the young
mothers," continued Mrs. Star, who was evidently mounted on a hobby,
"but when helpless infants are deprived of their natural sustenance
and fed from bottles filled in a laboratory and stuffed with cotton,
it is time for the Gerry Society to interfere. Cruelty to children is
practiced far more by the rich than by the poor, in my opinion, and if
you want to see cases of inanition and feeble spines, I'll show you
where to look for them, and it won't be in the tenements!"

Deena wanted to laugh, but didn't dare to; the old lady proclaimed her
fierce sentiments with such earnest gravity. She managed, however, to
say politely:

"You think that science has not improved upon nature in rearing the
race, but you must remember that it finds the higher classes existing
under unnatural conditions."

"The conditions would do very well if we could banish the doctors,"
said the old lady, testily. "I am out of patience with their
incubators and their weighing machines and their charts and their
thermometers--yes, and their baby nurses! What do you suppose I heard
a mother say to her own servant the other day: 'Please, nurse, may I
take the baby up? He is crying fearfully,' and the nurse, who had
reluctantly put down the morning paper, said: 'No, m'am, when he cries
in that angry way, he must learn that it is useless!' _His age was six
weeks._"

Deena burst into a hearty laugh.

"My dear Mrs. Star," she said, "I am a convert."

Mrs. Star wagged her head in approbation.

"Just tell your sister what I have said, will you?" she pursued,
afraid that so much wisdom might be lost. "And, my dear, since your
brother-in-law has gone home, suppose you come along to the opera with
me. I sent some tickets to a few stray men, and I must look in before
the last act."

At this point they were joined by the gentlemen, and as soon as
decency would permit, Mrs. Star made her adieux, followed by Deena.
The Minthrop brougham was dismissed, and the ladies whirled away in
Mrs. Star's electric carriage. She at once took up her parable, but
this time the topic was not the care of infants.

"I think a great deal of the scenic effect of an opera box," she said.
"I always dress with respect to the hangings, and I never take a
discordant color beside me if I can help it. You happen to please me
very much this evening; I like the simplicity of the white dress.
Still, it wouldn't be anything if you didn't have such a neck--it
gives an air to any low gown."

"It was my wedding dress," said Deena, frankly, "and my sister's maid
rearranged it for me. I am glad you like it."

"Your wedding dress," said Mrs. Star, reflectively. "I think I heard
you had married a naturalist--prehistoric bones, is it not? Very
interesting subject--so inspiring. Milliken"--to the footman, who
opened the door on their arrival at the opera house--"you may keep the
carriage here. I shall not be more than half an hour."

Half an hour for the enjoyment of a pleasure that cost her, yearly, a
moderate fortune!

On their way through the foyer to the box, Deena ventured to disclaim
for her husband a peculiar interest in fossils.

"My husband is a botanist," she began, and then desisted when she saw
her companion's attention was barely held by a desire to be civil.

"Ah, indeed!" Mrs. Star vaguely responded. "Delightful topic. I went
into it myself quite extensively when I was a girl."

Deena was not often malicious, but she couldn't help wishing Simeon
could have stood by to hear this announcement of a girlish mastery of
his life's work. She tried to think in what dry words he would have
rebuked the levity, but before she could arrange a phrase quite in
character, they were in the front of the box, and in the obscurity
some one took her hand, and Stephen French's voice murmured:

"What a piece of luck that I should see you to-night! I have only been
in town a few hours, and obeyed my aunt's summons to the opera as a
means of keeping myself from Ben's house till the morning. You can't
think how eager I have been to see you again, Mrs. Ponsonby."

There was a strange break in his voice, as if he were trying to
restrain the rush of happiness.

All the six mighty artists who made the opera the marvel it was were
combining their voices in the closing sextet of the fourth act, and
Deena, thrilled by the loveliness of the music and, perhaps, by the
surprise of French's presence, felt she was trembling with excitement.

"Fancy meeting you here!" she kept repeating, the stupid phrase
concealing the great joy that was puzzling her conscience.

"What is so wonderful in my being in my aunt's opera box?" Stephen
demanded. "Cannot a professor of zoology like music, or do you object
to a bachelor owning an aunt?"

How pleasant it was to hear his kind voice, with its good-natured
raillery! But that was sub-conscious pleasure--her immediate attention
was busy with the first part of his speech about his aunt's opera box;
she never supposed he had any relations.

"Who is your aunt?" she asked, abruptly.

"Mrs. Star," he answered. "Don't you see the family likeness?"

And oddly enough, in the half light, there was a distinct resemblance
in the profile of the bewigged old lady to her handsome young
kinsman's. Deena regretted both the likeness and the relationship; it
made her uncomfortable to know that Stephen was the nephew of this
worldly-minded old lady, with her fictitious standards and her
enormous riches; it seemed to place a barrier between them and to lift
him out of the simplicity of his college setting.

"Have I become a snob in this Relentless City'?" she exclaimed. "_I_
find my whole idea of you changed by this announcement. It depresses
me! You seem to me a different person here, with these affiliations of
fashion and grandeur, than when I thought of you simply as Simeon's
friend."

"Don't think of me simply as Simeon's friend," he pleaded, half in
fun, half in sinful earnest.

"I never shall again," she said, sadly. "Your greatest charm is
eclipsed by this luxury--I want you to belong to Harmouth only."

Stephen's lips were twitching with suppressed amusement.

"There is a proverb, my dear lady," he said, "of the pot and the
kettle, that you may recall. I am not sure but what I may find a word
to say to you upon the cruelty of disturbing associations."

"To me!" she said, turning to him with the gentle dignity that was her
crowning charm. "Surely there are no surprises in me."

Stephen shook his head in mock disapproval as he allowed his eyes to
sweep from the topmost curl of her head to her slipper points, and
then he said:

"Go home, Mrs. Ponsonby, and take off that white lace evening dress,
and perhaps the wreath of holly might come, too--and that diamond star
on your bodice; and put on, instead--let me see--the dark blue frock
you wore the evening I told Simeon about the Patagonian expedition,
and then you will be in a position to reproach me for any relapse from
the simplicity of Harmouth. If you disapprove of me as the nephew of
my aunt, how do you suppose I feel about you? And oh! my stars! what
would Simeon say?"

"Simeon," she said, faintly. "You are right; Simeon might not
understand----" and before French had time to protest that he had only
been teasing her, the curtain went down, strange men came flocking
into the box, Mrs. Star was introducing a Russian grand duke, and
Stephen, surrendering his chair, withdrew to the other side of his
aunt.

Deena could not but admire the old lady's admirable manner. She kept
up an easy chatter, sometimes in French, sometimes in English, with
the Russian and with a Spanish artist; she never allowed Deena to feel
out of touch with the conversation, and in the midst of it all she
managed to welcome her nephew.

"You are stopping _at_ my house, of course, Stephen? No--at the Savoy?
That is uncharitable to a lonely old woman. Where did you know that
pretty creature, Mrs. Ponsonby?" she asked, seeing that the two
foreigners were absorbing the attention of her beautiful protégée.
"You should learn to guard the expression of your face, my dear boy. I
begin to understand why you cling so obstinately to Harmouth. I see
the place has advantages outside the work of the college."

Here she wagged her head in self-congratulation at her own astuteness,
and Stephen flushed angrily.

"Hush!" he said. "She will hear you. You have little knowledge of Mrs.
Ponsonby if you think she would permit the attentions of any man. She
is not in the least that kind of person. She is one of the most
dignified, self-respecting, high-minded women I ever knew."

Mrs. Star cut him short with a wave of her fan.

"Spare me the rhapsodies," she laughed. "You merely mark the stage of
the disease you have arrived at. The object of your love sits
enthroned! If the husband is wise he will throw his fossils into the
sea and come back to look after this pretty possession. Flesh and
blood is worth more than dry bones."

"Ponsonby is a botanist," Stephen corrected, grimly, while his inward
thought was that the dry bones were Simeon's own; and then, ashamed of
the disloyal--though unspoken--sneer, he went back to Deena and began
talking volubly of his last letter from her husband.

They had both had letters from Simeon, now safely arrived in the
Straits of Magellan. He had written to Deena when they first cast
anchor off the Fuegian shore. He described to her the visits of the
Indians in their great canoes, containing their entire families and
possessions, and the never-dying fire of hemlock on a clay hearth in
the middle of the boat; how they would sell their only garment--a fur
cloak---for tobacco and rum, and how friendly they seemed to be, in
spite of all the stories of cannibalism told by early voyagers.

In the midst of this earnest conversation, Mrs. Star rose to go,
escorted by the grand duke, and Stephen, following with Deena, was
able to let his enthusiasm rise above a whisper when they gained the
corridor.

"Didn't he tell you that they were all going guanaco hunting?"

"_Simeon!_" in a tone of incredulity.

"Greatest fun in the world, I am told," pursued French; "something
like stag hunting, only more exciting--done with the bolas. You whirl
it round your head and let it fly, and it wraps itself round a beast's
legs and bowls him over before he knows what hit him."

"Does it kill him?" asked Deena, shrinking from the miseries of the
hunted.

"Only knocks him over," explained Stephen. "You finish him with your
knife."

"Sport is a cruel thing," she said, shuddering. "I am glad Simeon
cannot even ride."

"Can't ride!" repeated Stephen. "Indeed, I can tell you he means to.
He says the Indians have offered him the best mount they have. They
considered him a medicine man, on account of his root-digging
propensities, and treated him as the high cockalorum of the whole
ship's company."

"Surely he is joking," she said. "Simeon is making game of you."

"Simeon!" he echoed, mimicking her incredulous tone.

"A joke would be no stranger to him than a horse," she said, smiling.

They had reached the entrance, and Deena stood shaking with suppressed
laughter. "Fancy! Simeon!" she repeated.

"And why not Simeon, pray?" asked Stephen, slightly nettled.

A vision of Simeon with his gold-rimmed spectacles and stooped figure
mounted on horseback in the midst of a party of Indians, whirling his
bolas over his head and shouting, presented itself to Deena's
imagination. The carriage was waiting, and, obeying Mrs. Star's motion
to get in first, Simeon Ponsonby's wife fell back on the seat and
laughed till the tears ran down her cheeks.

Outside, Stephen was entreating to be allowed to visit her the next
morning.

"I haven't half finished my story, Mrs. Ponsonby," he protested.

And Deena managed to steady her voice and invite him to lunch the next
day.


CHAPTER VII.

French's visit to New York was not the result of any weakening
resolution in regard to his neighbor's wife; the object was business.
His property was chiefly in real estate, and the distinguished law
firm who managed his affairs had summoned him to confer with a tenant
who was desirous of becoming a purchaser. Being in the same town with
Deena, he decided that he could not well avoid visiting her, to say
nothing of Ben. It was his misfortune that every meeting made his
self-discipline harder, for, if they lived, he had got to see her
under still more trying circumstances--reunited with a husband who
misunderstood her.

These thoughts passed through his mind the morning after their
encounter at the opera, as he finished his breakfast at the Savoy. He
had an appointment at his lawyers' at ten o'clock, and at the
Minthrops' for luncheon at half-past one. The first, if properly
conducted, might result in a largely increased income; the second in
self-repression and a heartache; and yet his one idea was to dispatch
the business, so that no precious moments of Deena's society should be
lost to him.

He was hurrying out of the hotel to go downtown, when a telegram was
put into his hand. For the detached bachelor such messages have little
interest. Stephen opened this one as casually as most people open an
advertisement--may the foul fiend fly away with those curses of our
daily mail!--and read:

                                            BUENOS AYRES, Jan. 30.
    PEDRO LOPEZ to the HON'BLE PROFESSOR FRENCH, Harmouth
    University.

    _Tintoretto_ on its way home. Ponsonby missing.

Stephen read the dispatch several times before he quite understood its
significance. Pedro Lopez was his South American friend, who had set
on foot the Fuegian expedition and applied to Harmouth for a botanist;
the _Tintoretto_ was the vessel furnished by the Argentine Government.

The cable message had gone to Harmouth and been repeated to New York,
probably by Stephen's butler.

The first effect of evil tidings is apt to be superficial. We receive
a mental impression rather than a shock to the heart. We are for the
moment spectators of our own misfortunes, as if the blow had produced
a paralysis to the feelings, leaving the intellect clear.

Stephen went back to his own room conscious of no emotion except
intense curiosity as to what had become of Simeon, though, perhaps,
far back in his mind anxiety was settling down to its work of torture.

He flung himself into a chair near the window which overlooked the
entrance to the park and let his eyes gaze blankly at the busy scene.
It had snowed during the night, and sleighs were dashing in and out
under the leafless arches of the trees. Bells were tinkling, gay
plumes of horsehair floating from the front of the Russian sleighs and
the turrets of the horses' harness, men and women wrapped in costly
furs were being whirled along, laughing and chatting, through the
crisp morning air.

Stephen didn't know he was receiving an impression--he thought his
mind was at a standstill, but whenever in the future that terrible day
came back to his memory, he always saw a picture, as it were, of the
brilliant procession dashing into the city's playground, while Saint
Gaudens' statue of Sherman stood watching, grim and cold, with the
snow on his mantle and his Victory in a winding sheet.

It was not very long before French was able to pull himself together
and to face the situation. What did it mean? Had Simeon lost himself
in the Patagonian wilds or was he drowned? French felt that he
couldn't carry such an uncertain report to Deena, the strain upon her
would be too great. It was horrible to have to tell her at all, but he
must try to make the news definite--not vague. Gradually he thought
out a course of action; he would telegraph to Lopez to send him a
detailed account, cabling the answer at his expense, and until this
reply came he thought himself justified in concealing the news. Lopez
was in constant communication with the expedition, and the letter
which had announced Ponsonby's disappearance must have gone into
particulars.

After dispatching this cable he kept his appointment in Wall Street,
transacting the business with the dull precision of a person in a
hypnotic sleep, and then presented himself at the Minthrops' a few
minutes before the lunch hour. He had not been prepared to find Deena
installed as hostess, and her manner of greeting him and presiding at
the lunch table was so assured, so different from the timid
hospitality she was wont to offer under Simeon's roof, that her whole
personality seemed changed. She more than ever satisfied his admiring
affection, but she was so unlike the Mrs. Ponsonby of Harmouth that he
felt like confiding to this gracious, sympathetic woman the tragedy
that threatened her other self.

Early in the day, before that woeful message came, he had counted the
minutes he could spend with her, and now he was timing his visit so as
to curtail it to the least possible duration, and taxing his ingenuity
as to how best to avoid seeing her alone. It was Saturday, and he
trusted to the half holiday for the protection of Ben's presence; his
depression of spirits would be less noticeable in general
conversation.

He arrived on the stroke of the hour set for lunch, and to his chagrin
was shown to the library, where Deena was sitting alone. His trouble
deepened, for, after motioning him to a chair beside her, she resumed
her embroidery and said, with a quizzical expression:

"You were in the midst of Simeon's last letter when we parted last
evening, Mr. French; please go on with it. You may remember you left
my unfortunate husband pledged to become a horseman."

Stephen could not respond to her merry mood; his anxiety was to steer
the conversation away from Simeon, and he had run against a snag at
the start.

"At all events, I left him safely surrounded by friends," he
said--more in answer to his own feelings than her banter.

In thinking over any disaster, the mind loves to dwell on the peaceful
moments that preceded it. Stephen found comfort in recalling the gay
tone of Simeon's letter, his delight in his coming adventure, and the
good feeling that evidently existed between him and the ship's
company.

Deena took exception to his remark.

"You have strange ideas of safety!" she laughed. "Not content with
mounting a confirmed pedestrian on a wild horse of the Pampas, you
must needs turn him loose among a horde of savages. The hunt had not
taken place when he wrote, had it? It is a pity, for I should like
Simeon safely back on shipboard without the loss of spectacles or
dignity."

She would like Simeon back! What wouldn't French give to know her
husband was still alive!

The butler announced lunch, and Ben came dashing downstairs, delighted
to see Stephen and full of excuses at having lingered in his wife's
room. He said Polly was feeling rather poorly, and Stephen was glad to
see a look of anxiety cross Deena's face; he rightly judged her
thoughts had been diverted from Patagonia to Polly's sofa, and he
breathed once more.

What a pleasant luncheon it was, in spite of the lurking dread. Deena
was wearing the old blue dress he had recommended to her the night
before. It could not be from coquetry--she was above coquetry--but
perhaps she had put it on to recall associations; to remind him of the
close bonds of friendship that existed between them in those pleasant
autumn days that followed Simeon's departure. Stephen was not very
learned in the make of women's frocks, but he understood color and
could appreciate how that steely-blue made her complexion glow warm as
ivory and her hair like copper.

They were pretending to quarrel over a dish of salted almonds; Deena
declared that French was getting the lion's share, and finally covered
the little silver basket that held them with her hand. On the third
finger flashed old Mrs. Ponsonby's diamond in its antiquated silver
setting, and below it was her wedding ring, the narrow band that
symbolized her bondage to Simeon. For the first time since French had
received the cable, its possible significance to him took possession
of his mind, and he flushed a dull red and fell into a reverie.

In all probability there was no longer any barrier between him and the
woman he loved; nothing to prevent his striving to win her, but the
period of her mourning--the respect she owed to the memory of a
husband who was the palest shadow of a lover, and not even the ghost
of a companion. He wondered whether she had ever guessed his
feelings--feelings which he had subdued and held under with all the
strength of his nature, partly through fear of forfeiting her
friendship and partly because her charm was in the simplicity of her
goodness. If love had once been named between them, Deena would have
been other than herself.

Her voice roused him. She was excusing herself in order to go to her
sister, and leave him and Ben to smoke. He held the door open for her
to pass with a profound sense of relief--no suspicion of his awful
secret had been betrayed. But oh! the comfort of talking it over with
Ben, of sharing the burden with another! They discussed the meager
announcement till they had exhausted every probability and found
nothing to hope and everything to fear.

"I hope to Heaven he is dead!" cried Ben. "Imagine a man physically
weak, like Ponsonby, enduring slow starvation in the damp and chill of
the Patagonian seacoast. It will be a positive relief if we hear he
fell overboard."

"Anything is better than uncertainty," said Stephen, and the speech
must have been from the new point of view, the hope of Deena's
freedom, for the next moment he was conscious of a wave of shame.

"I ought to get an answer from Lopez before night," he added, rising
to go; "and as soon as I hear I will return and let you know."

Ben followed him to the front door, whispering like a conspirator and
glancing furtively up the stairs. There was a childish streak in the
boy's nature that gloried in a confidence; the joy of the secret
nearly made up for the sorrow of the fact. But secrets and sorrows
were soon put out of his head, for a crucial moment had come to the
young Minthrops--one we anticipate and are never quite prepared for.

As he ran upstairs, after seeing Stephen off, he met Deena, evidently
looking for him.

"Oh, Ben," she said, "Polly is ill, and I have telephoned for----"

But she got no further, for her big brother-in-law turned white as a
frightened girl, and when he tried to speak no sound came from his
lips.

"Goose!" said Deena, laying an affectionate hand on his shoulder.
"Shall I get a glass of brandy? Do you suppose no one has ever met
with this experience before?"

Ben recovered himself with a fit of irritation, which seems the
corollary to being frightened.

"Brandy!" he repeated. "Why in thunder should I want brandy? Really,
Deena, for a sensible woman, you are given at times to saying the most
foolish things I ever heard."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the meanwhile, as the afternoon was still early, French was anxious
to find some occupation that might distract his thoughts. He decided
to visit his aunt, whose conversation was usually startling enough to
hold the attention of her hearers in any stress of agitation, and then
when he was halfway up her steps repented the intention, on the ground
that he needed soothing rather than stimulating; but his retreat was
cut off by the good lady coming out of her door and discovering him,
and, as she was about to walk round the block for exercise before
taking her afternoon drive, she promptly claimed his company for both
occasions. The wind blew her dress up to her ankles as she reached the
sidewalk, displaying a pair of pointed-toed, high-heeled boots that
perforce made walking--even round the block--a torturing task. But
Mrs. Star was a brave woman, and walking a matter of conscience, so
she tottered along beside her nephew, occasionally laying a hand on
his arm when a bit of icy pavement made her footing more than usually
uncertain.

"How I hate the late winter in New York!" she exclaimed, when a few
minutes later they were seated in her sleigh on their way to the park.
"Here we are at the threshold of February, when any self-respecting
climate would be making for spring, and we must count on two months
more of solid discomfort. Ah, well, this year I do not mean to face
it. I have had the yacht put in commission, and she sails next week
for the Mediterranean, where I shall overtake her by one of the German
boats, and do a little cruising along the African coast. Come with me,
Stephen," she said, coaxingly. "Let this silly school-teaching go. You
are a rich man--why under the sun do you want to work? If you are
holding on to Harmouth on account of that pretty Mrs. Ponsonby, it
can't do you much good when she is in New York. Besides," she added,
quite as an afterthought, "it is bad morality, and you ought to be
ashamed of yourself."

He was about to turn and rend her for what he considered an
unpardonable meddling with his affairs, when he saw her eyes fixed on
him with tenderest affection and his anger melted.

"Dear Stevie," she said, "be good-natured and bear an old woman
company--you know you are as dear as my own sons."

She used to call him Stevie when he was a lonely little boy, and she
made her house his home; when all he knew of family life was supplied
by that good-natured, worldly household--the name touched a chord of
memory that softened his irritation.

"I wish I could, Aunt Adelaide," he answered, "but I have managed to
tie myself to my work in a way you cannot understand. You will have to
take Bob as a companion."

Bob was her only unmarried child, wedded only to his clubs and amateur
soldiering, and even less available than Stephen for a cruise.

"Bob!" she said, contemptuously. "He never voluntarily went to a
foreign country except Cuba, and I don't believe he knows on which
side of the Mediterranean Africa lies! I shall find some one who will
be glad to go with me--perhaps your charming friend, Mrs. Ponsonby,
might go. She looks as if she would be a pleasant traveling
companion."

French's heart tightened as he thought of the horror that stood
between Deena and pleasure, and was even debating in his mind whether
it would not be better to tell his aunt the truth, when conversation
was rendered impossible for the moment by the puffing and tooting of a
great automobile advancing toward them down the west drive of the
park--its wheels slipping in a crazy manner, that made the coachman of
Mrs. Star's sleigh give it a wide berth. Just as it got abreast of
them, it became perfectly unmanageable--slewed to the left, made a
semicircle which turned it round, and, catching the back of the sleigh
on its low front, turned the light vehicle over as easily as if it had
been made of pasteboard.

Mrs. Star allowed herself a shrill shriek as the sleigh went over and
then lay quite still in a heap by the side of the road, with Stephen
across her feet. The automobile seemed to have recovered its serenity,
for it now stood still like any well-behaved machine, quiet save for
its noisy breathing, while the sleigh was being bumped, on its side,
far up the road, at the heels of the outraged horses.

French scrambled to his feet and endeavored to help his aunt, who had
raised herself to a sitting posture and was looking white and
disheveled, while she cast furious glances at the motor and its owner.
She took her nephew's hands and attempted to rise, but fell back,
declaring she had broken her knee, as it hurt her excruciatingly when
she tried to move it.

The owner of the auto now came forward in great contrition to offer
help and apologies. He was a physician, he explained, hastening to a
case of great urgency, and he had taken his automobile as the quickest
means of covering the distance, though he had known it at times to
behave badly on slippery and snowy roads.

The admission was a mistake--it put him in the wrong, and Mrs. Star,
who distrusted all modern doctors, felt a consuming rage against this
one in particular.

"You must have a strange estimate of a physician's duty if you feel
justified in risking many lives to save one!" she said, haughtily.
"Not that you are much worse than the fire engines and ambulances. We
ought to add a petition to the litany for safety against our
safeguards, for they kill more than they rescue."

The gentleman bore her sarcasms with becoming humility, and begged to
be allowed to take her home, promising that the machine should execute
no more "_Voyages en zigzag_," and she, ashamed of her temper, forced
herself to decline, with some graciousness, though she made it very
plain that no person on earth could tempt her to get into the
automobile.

"At least let him tell you whether your knee is seriously hurt,"
Stephen whispered, loath to see the medical help departing.

"I'll do nothing of the sort," retorted Mrs. Star. "A nice spectacle
you would make of me by the roadside! Besides, I am not going to allow
my knee to buy him a new automobile. Thank Heaven, I know how to guard
my pocket against the medical profession--I'll not stir from this spot
till he takes himself off."

"Don't be so foolish!" urged French. "If your knee is injured it is a
very serious thing."

"Well, it isn't seriously injured," she said, perversely. "I have
changed my mind, and I mean to have it tied up with witch hazel."

Fortunately her equipage was now seen approaching in the charge of two
park policemen, who had stopped the horses about a mile further on,
righted the sleigh and now brought it back not much the worse for the
misadventure. The coachman and groom were collected from the bushes,
and, as they were quite uninjured, Stephen lifted his aunt into the
back seat and they turned their faces homeward.

However much the rest of the party may have been inconvenienced,
French had certainly attained the object of his solicitude--namely, to
have his thoughts distracted from Simeon Ponsonby.


CHAPTER VIII.

The second cable from Lopez arrived soon after dinner; it brought
small comfort. Its nineteen words told the story but too conclusively.

    Strayed from party while hunting. Weather turned foggy. Search
    parties persevered for two weeks. Hope abandoned. Expedition
    homeward bound.

There was no further excuse for concealment; indeed, it was French's
plain duty to tell Deena what might be told by the newspapers if he
delayed.

It was just nine o'clock, and he walked rapidly to the Minthrops' and
rang the bell. Outside an electric cab was waiting, its great lamps
casting pathways of light across street and sidewalk. The motorman was
inside; an indication that long waiting had driven him to shelter,
though the circumstance had no significance to Stephen.

The bell was answered by the butler, who looked portentous and stood
resolutely in the doorway.

"Not at 'ome, sir," he said, in response to Stephen's request to see
Mrs. Ponsonby.

"Then I must see Mr. Minthrop," French insisted.

The man hesitated and then relaxed his wooden expression.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. French. I did not recognize you, sir. The
truth is, we're a bit h'upset h'inside. Mrs. Minthrop is tuk ill,
sir--very sudden--and we're expecting the good word every minute. I
shall tell Mr. Minthrop you called."

Stephen nodded and turned away--the fates had ordained that he was to
carry his secret till the morning. It had been a harassing burden in
the daylight hours, but during the night it became maddening; it
seemed beyond his resolution to tell Deena that the pleasure trip he
had set on foot for her husband's advantage had ended in death.

As early as he thought permissible, the next morning, he presented
himself at Ben's door--this time gaining, a cheerful admission--and
was shown to the library on the second floor. There he found the young
father, radiantly happy, and so self-centered that he had entirely
forgotten the misfortune overhanging his sister-in-law.

"Come and see my son," he said, proudly, and in spite of an expression
of reluctance on the part of French to intrude into the upper regions
of the house, he pushed him ahead of him up the next flight of stairs
and knocked softly at the door of a back bedroom.

Deena's voice bade them enter, and French was ushered into a large
room fitted out as a nursery, with the newest appliances for baby
comfort. There was a bassinette so be-muslined and be-ribboned and
be-laced that it looked like a ball dress standing by itself in the
middle of the floor; and a bathtub that looked like a hammock; and a
weighing machine; and a chart for recording the daily weight; and a
large table with a glass top; and a basket containing all the articles
for the Lilliputian toilet; while near the fender some doll-like
clothes were airing.

Deena was sitting in a low rocking-chair near the fire with her nephew
in her arms. She welcomed her visitors with a smile, and turned down a
corner of the baby's blanket to display his puckered ugliness to
Stephen. She was looking happy, tender, proud, maternally beautiful.

"Hasn't he a beautifully shaped head?" she demanded, passing her hand
tenderly over the furry down that served him for hair. "And look at
his ears and his hands--was there ever anything so exquisite?"

It was French's first introduction to a young human, and he found it
slightly repulsive, but Deena, in her Madonna-like sweetness, made his
heart swell.

"He is part of an exquisite picture," he answered.

Ben, who had been for a moment with Polly, now came into the room with
his usual noisy bustle, and Deena got up and, surrendering the baby to
the nurse, led the way downstairs.

At the library door Stephen paused to whisper to Ben:

"Stay with me while I tell her," in tones of abject fright; but Ben
shook his head.

"Look here, old man," he said, in mild remonstrance, "if you had had a
baby last night, you wouldn't be casting about for fresh trouble
to-day--now, would you?"

Stephen gave him an indignant glance, and, following Deena, he shut
the library door. He did it in so pronounced a way that she looked up
surprised, and was even more at a loss to account for the gravity of
his expression; she wondered whether he had thought her rude yesterday
when she had disappeared from the table at lunch and had never
returned, but it was not like French to be touchy.

"I left you very unceremoniously yesterday," she began, "but the nurse
appeared for a moment at the door, and I did not want to alarm Ben.
You were not offended?"

"Believe me, no," French answered, with a sort of shudder; "for the
first time in my life I was glad to see you go--your presence was
torture to me--I was concealing something from you, Mrs. Ponsonby, and
it has got to get itself told."

While he spoke her expression changed rapidly from amazement to alarm,
and she got up and came close to him--waiting--but without a word.

"Simeon is lost," he said, hoarsely, hurling the bald fact at her
before his courage failed. "I tried to tell you yesterday," he went
on, drawing the cables from his pocket, "but I couldn't; it all seemed
so vague at first, and I ventured to wait until I got more news."

She was standing before him with her hands clasped and her face deadly
pale, but with a calm that frightened him.

"Do you mean lost at sea?" she asked, in a steady voice--toneless but
perfectly clear.

He shook his head.

"No--on land. He was hunting--it must have been the very hunt we were
talking about--and wandered from his party. A fog came on, and they
were unable to find him. Lopez telegraphs that they sent out search
parties for a fortnight, but could find no trace."

He longed for a word from her, but none came.

"At last they abandoned hope," he concluded. "The expedition is now on
its way home."

She had turned her back upon him, and he waited in misery to hear her
sob, to see her shoulders shake with her weeping; but, instead, the
whole figure seemed to stiffen, and, wheeling round, she faced him
with blazing eyes.

"The cowards!" she cried. "To abandon a man to starvation! What are
they made of to do such a barbarous thing!"

"We must not judge them unheard," Stephen ventured. "Their search may
have been exhaustive--they may have risked their own lives gladly--and
you know," he added, gently, "that beyond a certain time it would have
been useless from the standpoint of saving life."

"It was inhuman to sail away and leave him," she went on, beating her
hands together in a sort of rage. "How can you defend them! You, who
sent him off on this horrible journey--how can you sleep in your bed
when you know Simeon in perishing by inches! I should think you would
be on your way now--this moment--to search for him! Oh, do
something--don't just accept it in this awful way. Haven't you any
pity?" Unconsciously she laid her hand on his shoulder, as if she
would push him from the room.

Stephen bore her reproaches with a meekness that exasperated her.

"Are there no cables to Magellan?" she asked. "There must be somebody
there who for money would do your bidding. Don't waste time," she
answered, stamping her foot.

Stephen kept his temper. Perhaps he was shrewd enough to see that it
was pity rather than love that gave the fierceness to her mood. It was
the frenzy of a tender-hearted woman at hearing of an act of cruelty
rather than the agony of one who suffers a personal bereavement.

"Deena," he said, not even knowing he had used her name, "do you
really want me to go on this hopeless errand? Think of its utter
uselessness--the time that has elapsed, the impossibility of
penetrating into such a country in the advancing winter. It is the
first of February, and I could not get there before March; it would be
already their autumn. By this time he has either reached help or he is
beyond it."

At the beginning of his speech Deena's pale face flushed, but as he
went on setting forth the obstacles to his going she seemed to harden
in her scorn.

"Oh, yes," she sneered. "Let him die! It is cold in Patagonia for a
gently nurtured person like Mr. French. Simeon is poor in friends--he
only had one besides his wife, and that one is a fair-weather friend.
But I'll go--I am not afraid of privation. I'll entreat the Argentine
Government for help--I'll make friends with the Indians--I'll----"

"Hush," he said, "you have said enough--I will go."

Having gained her point, she burst into tears.

"I am cruel," she said, "selfishly cruel to you, who have been so good
to me--but whom can I turn to except to you? How can we abandon Simeon
without raising a finger to save him? Say you forgive me."

He held out his hand in mute acquiescence. Her sneers had stung him to
the quick, but her appeal to his manhood for help in her distress
moved him deeply.

"Perhaps," she went on, half to herself, "perhaps if I had been a
better wife--if I had loved him more, I could bear it better--but it
is so pitiful. He has always been alone in life, and now he is dying
alone."

Stephen, who was pacing the floor, tried not to listen. He knew she
was not thinking of him when she was confessing her shortcomings to
her own conscience, but the admission that she felt herself lacking in
love to Simeon filled him with a deep joy. He did not dare to linger.

"I am going," he said, gently. "Good-by, Deena. Will you pray God to
send you back the man who loves you?"

She stood staring at him dumb with misery, but as the door shut
between them a cry of anguish burst from her very soul.

"Come back!" she cried. "Oh, Stephen, come back! I can't bear it! I
can't let you go! Don't you know I love you?--and I have sent you off
to die!"

She knew that he had gone--that her appeal was to the empty air, and
she flung herself on the sofa in a frenzy of sobs. But the cry reached
Stephen in the hall, where he stood battling with himself against his
yearning for one more look, one more word to carry with him, and at
the sound his resolution melted like wax in the flame of his passion.
With a bound he was back in the room, on his knees beside her,
soothing her with tenderest endearments--pouring out the fullness of
his love.

"Must I go, Deena?" he pleaded. "Must I leave you when I know you love
me? And for what?--a search for the dead!"

At his words her conscience woke with a stab of shame.

"Yes, go!" she said. "Go quickly. A moment ago I sent you in the name
of compassion; now I send you in expiation for this one intolerable
glimpse of Heaven."

       *       *       *       *       *

Stephen, eager to do her bidding, went straight to Mrs. Star's house
to take leave of the only person to whom he owed the obligations of
family affection, and found that redoubtable lady on a sofa in her
dressing room. In answer to his expressions of regret at this
intimation of invalidism, she gave an angry groan.

"Oh, yes!" she said. "Our medical friend has succeeded in providing
another doctor with as pretty a case of water-on-the-knee--to say
nothing of other complications--as he could desire. My only comfort
is, he didn't get the charge himself."

"But you have seen a specialist, surely?" exclaimed French, who feared
her hatred of physicians might have prevented her calling in proper
aid.

"Don't distress yourself," she answered. "McTorture has me fast in his
clutches; and for how long do you suppose? Two months! He will promise
nothing short of two months, and even then objects to my going abroad,
and the yacht ready to start this very week! I am waiting for Bob to
come into lunch, to get him to send for the sailing master and break
the news to him. He'll be a disappointed man!"

"I will take the yacht off your hands," said Stephen, casually.

"You!" she exclaimed. "Are you running away _from_ or _with_ anybody,
that you suddenly annex an ocean steamer? You were prosing only
yesterday afternoon about work and duty, as if nothing could separate
you from Harmouth. Is the attraction going to bolt with you, Stevie?"

Stephen could have killed her as she lay there, allowing her tongue
free play with his most intimate concerns, but the respect due to an
old woman, to say nothing of an aunt, restrained his anger, and he
answered, coldly:

"If you want to get rid of the yacht for the rest of the year, say so.
My friend, Simeon Ponsonby, is lost in the wilderness of Patagonia,
and I am organizing a party to search for him. I shall have to resign
my work at Harmouth, but I feel responsible for poor Ponsonby's fate;
I sent him on the expedition."

"Ah! did you?" she said, laughing wickedly. "Poor Uriah has been
disposed of, and now the lady sends you to look for his bones. Don't
look too hard, Stevie, you might find he wasn't lost, after all!"

"Stop!" cried French, springing to his feet. "How dare you make a jest
of other people's misfortunes? Is there so little decency among your
associates that you no longer recognize it when you see it?"

She had the grace to look ashamed.

"Take the yacht, my dear," she said, kindly, "and if the expense is
too great for your income, you can draw on me for what you like. Can't
you stand a little teasing from your old aunt?"

"I will take the yacht, and pay for it," said French. "As for the
teasing, we seem to have different ideas about what is amusing."

"Then forgive me," she pleaded, and there were tears in her eyes, "and
be careful of yourself, my dear boy, in this dismal expedition. Take
plenty of furs, and beware of the cannibals."

She won a smile from him as he bent over her sofa to kiss her good-by,
but she reserved further comments upon his errantry for Bob.

"Quixotic nonsense!" she declared. "Was there ever a man so wise that
a woman couldn't make a fool of him?"


CHAPTER IX.

Could there be a crueler irony of fate than to be absolutely convinced
of the widowhood of her you love and to be unable, practically, to
establish the fact?

Stephen French had expatriated himself, resigned the work he valued,
put the seas between himself and Deena, only to be baffled at every
turn. For two months he had used his utmost acumen in prosecuting the
search without even finding a clew, and when finally he made his great
discovery, it was by yielding to the impulse of the moment rather than
the suggestions of reason.

From March to May Mrs. Star's great ocean-going yacht had steamed
along the southeastern shores of Patagonia. Sometimes within the
confines of the Straits, sometimes rounding its headlands into the
Atlantic, and dropping anchor wherever the line of coast gave any
facility for landing an exploring party, until the hopelessness of the
quest was patent to everybody except Stephen.

On his way down he had stopped at Buenos Ayres, where he provided
himself with the charts and surveys made by the newly returned
expedition, and secured Simeon's personal effects left on the
_Tintoretto_, together with his diary, scientific memoranda and
specimens, which had been carefully preserved, and were of rare value,
from a botanist's point of view.

French was fortunate enough to induce both Lopez and the captain of
the _Tintoretto_ to accompany him as guests, and they proved
invaluable allies, especially the captain, whose topographical
knowledge and recent experience were always to be relied upon. From
him Stephen learned all the particulars of Simeon's disappearance,
though the last home letter dispatched by the poor fellow, on the eve
of the guanaco hunt, covered the first part of the story. It appeared
that Ponsonby had landed with a surveying party from the ship, one
morning in January, on the Patagonian side of the Straits, and set out
to botanize while his companions worked. He had climbed a steep bank,
in order to secure a particular shrub just in flower, when he saw on
the plain beyond a party of Indians gathered by the shore of a small,
fresh-water lake. Most of them were watering their horses, but half a
dozen were grouped round a man lying on the ground, apparently
injured. Their sharp eyes quickly marked Simeon filling his vasculum
with the coveted specimens, and, waving their hands in friendly
greeting, two of them advanced at a gallop. One spoke fairly good
Spanish, and explained that the son of their chief had broken his leg
by a fall from his horse, and he begged Simeon--whom he conceived,
from his occupation of gathering simples, to be a medicine man--to
come to their assistance.

Simeon's own Spanish was too poor to undeceive them, but, thinking he
might be of some use, he went back with them, and rigged out a set of
splints, that made it possible to carry the young man to their
encampment, about a mile away. In gratitude for his services, they
accompanied him to the ship on his return, mounting him on one of
their horses and forming a bodyguard round him. It was then that they
proposed the guanaco hunt to the officers of the ship; their own visit
to the Straits being simply in pursuit of game.

The morning of the hunt the captain described as unusually warm for
that region, even in January, and not particularly clear; there was a
haze that was just not a fog. The Indians met them about a mile back
from the shore, bringing a dozen extra horses for their guests. The
quietest beast was selected for Ponsonby, but its docility was so
questionable, and the rider's inexperience so evident, that the
captain persuaded him to give up the chase, and content himself with a
ride to the encampment to inquire about his patient. The last ever
seen of him he was sitting on horseback watching the departing hunt.

Guanacos in large numbers had been seen on the plains to the
northwest, whereas the Indian camp lay to the northeast, and
Ponsonby's route was widely divergent to that of the hunters. All that
was known is that he never reached the encampment; perhaps he mistook
the trail, and, having left his compass in his cabin, had no means of
ascertaining his direction--or perhaps his horse became unmanageable
and bolted, carrying him far inland; at all events, his chance without
a compass was poor, for a tremendous rain came on, which lasted for
three days, leadening the sky to an even gray, with no mark of setting
or rising sun.

At the end of four days the horse he had ridden came into camp
riderless; its saddle had been removed, probably by Simeon, to make a
pillow at night, and its whole appearance bespoke long travel. For a
fortnight the ship's company and the Indians scoured the country
seeking him. They sent up rockets at night, and lighted fires on the
hilltops by day; they wearied themselves and the tireless Indians, and
at last, knowing the limits of human endurance in a case like
Ponsonby's, they gave up in despair.

All these incidents formed the main topics of conversation in the long
evenings in the saloon of the yacht. In addition to Señor Lopez and
the captain of the _Tintoretto_, Stephen had secured the services of a
young physician with a taste for adventure, and his own sailing master
was a person of intelligence, so that the little party brought a
variety of experience to the councils held on board ship or round the
camp fire when their search carried them so far inland that it was
impossible to return to the yacht at night. Several times, accompanied
by Pecheray guides, they had been gone for ten days at a time, but
never found a trace of the lost man. There was the faint possibility
that he had been found and cared for by wandering Indians, but what
was far more likely was that French might stumble upon the spot where
he died. Even in that land of beasts and birds of prey something would
be left in evidence.

The daylight hours were now so few that little could be accomplished,
and the cold was becoming severe. A violent snowstorm on the fifteenth
of May decided French to give up the search and go home. Accordingly,
they steamed out of the Straits of Magellan and turned the vessel
northward, keeping as near the Patagonian shore as was prudent, in the
hope of sighting canoes.

They had been steaming in this direction for about three hours, going
slowly and keeping a sharp outlook toward the land, when the captain
called French's attention to an opening in the coast line, where the
Gallegos River empties into the sea. An impulse--perhaps it might more
truly be called an inspiration--induced French to order the yacht
brought to anchor in the bay. Although the shore seemed deserted,
several canoes filled with Indians immediately put out for the yacht,
as was, indeed, their invariable custom. The boats were large, capable
of holding six or eight people in the two ends, while in the middle
was the inevitable clay hearth, on which smoldered the fire of
hemlock. As they approached the yacht, the Indians began begging for
rum and tobacco, some by gestures and some in a _patois_, in which
Spanish and Indian words were strangely blended; and French, whose
policy was always to secure their good will, invited them on board and
ordered the steward to bring spirits and tobacco, and also a plentiful
supply of ship biscuit and sweets.

The men were of medium size, and not bad looking, and for the most
part dressed in loose-fitting mantles of guanaco skins, stained bright
red. In spite of the cold, this one garment was their only protection,
and even this they would offer in exchange for rum. Knowing their
customs, French was astonished to find the first man who stepped on
board wearing the coat of civilization under his mantle, and his
astonishment gave way to alarm when he recognized an old checked
cutaway of Simeon's, which had done service for many a winter at
Harmouth, and was as unmistakable as the features of its lost owner.
While Stephen stared--too agitated to find a word of Spanish---the
Indian tossed off half a tumbler of raw whisky at a gulp and, drawing
from the pocket of poor Simeon's coat a silver flask, he presented it
to the steward to be filled with the same genial fluid. The flask was
Stephen's parting gift to Simeon, and marked with his name.

The excitement now became intense, for the Indians declared that the
owner of the coat was alive, and the one who was wearing it, and who
seemed to exercise some authority over the others, began an
explanation in signs. He pointed to a cliff that overhung the stony
beach at the mouth of the river, and, lifting his hand high above his
head; brought it down with a violent gesture, as if to simulate a
fall. He next motioned toward the canoes, talking volubly all the
while, though his language was unintelligible to anyone except the
captain of the _Tintoretto_, who picked out a word here and there.

The tribes of the Straits of Magellan and the adjacent coasts vary
greatly in their characteristics; some have the impassive bearing we
associate with the Indian, and some are imitative, reproducing sounds
and gestures with surprising exactness.

It was not difficult to guess that Simeon had fallen over the cliff
and been found by the Indians, who are always skirting the shore in
their canoes, and the Spanish captain made out that he was now in one
of their boats higher up the river. When the Indian was asked whether
he would guide them to the place, he hesitated until bribed by rum and
provisions, and then he agreed to go in his own canoe and bring Simeon
to the yacht, where the exchange was to be effected. Why he hesitated
remained a mystery, unless Ponsonby's knowledge of herbs had made him
of value to the tribe.

French immediately ordered the various tins and boxes, containing the
supply of food promised, to be placed conspicuously on the deck as an
earnest of his honesty in the barter, and when a small keg of rum was
added, the satisfaction was complete; four or five Indians followed
their leader into his canoe and paddled up the river.

They were gone so long--over three hours--that French began to curse
his folly in trusting them, and he was about to follow them up in the
launch, when he saw their canoe coming round a bend in the stream. At
the first glance it seemed filled with Indians only, and it was not
until it was actually alongside that he detected a mummy-like form
lying in the stern, which he guessed to be Simeon.

Half a dozen sturdy arms made the transfer, by means of a hammock,
from the canoe to the yacht, and Simeon, alive but quite unconscious,
was laid on the deck. He had probably been subjected by the removal to
more pain than in his enfeebled condition he could bear, and it
required long and patient exertion on the part of the doctor before he
was revived from his syncope.

His condition was pitiable; from an injury to the spine he was a
helpless cripple, while the arm which had been broken in his fall had
knit in a way to render it perfectly useless. He was fearfully
emaciated, probably from the lack of palatable food, and his
expression was vacant.

French gave up his own deck cabin, the most commodious in size, and
before another hour had passed Simeon was lying in a comfortable bed,
clean, warm, devotedly tended, but apparently dying.

For forty-eight hours they kept the yacht within the shelter of the
river, fearing the effect of motion on that feeble flame of life, but
the warmth and nourishment soon began to tell, and on the third day he
recognized French, and tried to murmur some words of gratitude and
pleasure.

That night Stephen called the doctor into his own room and shut the
door. He wanted to put a very simple question, one which might have
been asked anywhere out of Simeon's hearing, and yet the effort seemed
almost beyond his powers.

"Can he live?"

The words came in such a hoarse, unnatural voice that the doctor, a
sensitive man, feared to deal the blow of truth. This was a very
marvel of friendship; like the love of David and Jonathan, it passed
the love of women.

The doctor temporized. Mr. Ponsonby had rallied wonderfully; his
constitution was much stronger than he had been given to understand;
it was rather soon to give a definite opinion, but----

Here Stephen interrupted him.

"Great God, man! Can't you answer a plain question. Yes or no?"

The doctor drew himself up and, to quote his own language, "let him
have it straight."

"If he lives to get home it will be a good deal more than I expect of
him."

French nodded toward the door, and turned his back.

       *       *       *       *       *

That night he relieved the doctor's watch by sitting up with his
friend, and, having given him his broth at midnight, was almost dozing
in his chair when a whisper from Simeon roused him. The sound was so
faint, he held his breath to listen.

"Stephen, I want to see Deena."

French's heart began thumping like the screw of his yacht. How he
thanked God that he could look his friend in the face as he answered:

"So you shall, old man; just as quickly as steam can carry you to
her."

A look of satisfaction came into the tired eyes.

"It will be a race with death," he said, "but perhaps--thank you,
Stephen." And he fell asleep.


CHAPTER X.

With Deena the spring moved drearily. Her position was strangely
anomalous; she was neither wife nor widow, without the right to be
glad or sad--only dumbly wretched. She could not mourn for a husband
who might be living, nor could she ignore the fact that he might be
dead, and all the while that parting scene with Stephen burned into
her conscience like a brand.

She shut herself up with Polly and the baby, and hardly went out of
the house while she remained in New York. Love for the child crept
deep into her heart and soothed her into patience when all else
failed.

In May the house in Harmouth returned to her keeping, the lease having
expired, and she left the Sixty-fifth Street household with reluctance
to take up her old life. In the great city she had been but a human
atom. Her conduct, her unhappiness, her very existence mattered to no
one there, except, perhaps, to Ben and Polly, who were as tender and
sympathetic as such vigorous people could be; but in Harmouth every
creature was interested in Simeon's fate, and watched Deena with a
curiosity she found maddening.

She felt herself the main topic of conversation; she never approached
two people talking in the street that they didn't break off in guilty
confusion, and comments upon her mode of dressing and daily
occupations were continually repeated to her in the form of censure.
Her own family were especially out of touch, for their assumption that
she mourned her husband as Polly would have done made her feel like an
impostor. They did not give her much of their company, for their newly
found fortune made them even more self-centered than their
misfortunes. Dicky was the exception; perhaps because he had started
in life hard as nails, and so couldn't grow any harder. At all events,
Deena thought she discerned a reluctant affection in his greeting that
was infinitely flattering.

Stephen wrote whenever he could catch the Chilian mail boats on their
way through the Straits. His letters were those of a man under the
strong hand of restraint; admirable letters, that filled her with
respect for him and shame at her own craving for "one word more."

On the twenty-fifth of May she had a cable that changed the face of
events. It was from Montevideo.

    Have found Simeon. Desperately ill. On our way home.
                                                    S. FRENCH.

The news spread over the town like wildfire. The local paper issued an
extra; a thing it had not done since the assassination of Mr.
McKinley. As soon as Harmouth knew Mrs. Ponsonby's exact status it
became distinctly friendly. People are helpful by instinct, and offers
of neighborly assistance poured in from all sides.

Deena left nothing undone that could, by anticipation, add to Simeon's
comfort. His room was ready, a nurse engaged, and all the
paraphernalia belonging to the care of the sick collected long before
the time due for his arrival. She counted upon seeing him four weeks
from the date of the cable. The regular trip of the mail boats between
Rio and New York is twenty days; from Montevideo two days more; to
that must be added another day to reach Boston, and she was warned
that a yacht would go more slowly than a large steamer; she therefore
concluded the third week in June would bring them.

The lot of women is to wait, and they do it under a pressure of
nervous strain that makes it slow torture. No turn of fortune could
have surprised Deena at this crisis, for her imagination had pictured
every possibility.

When a summer storm blackened the sky she saw the yacht tempest-tossed
and sinking, driven before a tropical cyclone; when the sun shone, she
fancied it sailing gayly into port with Simeon restored to health,
expecting to find her as he left her--the willing slave, the careful
housewife--and she shivered and went pale at the thought; and then in
a revulsion of feeling she saw him dying, and she was ready to cast
herself at his feet, and tell him all--how she had tried to do right,
how she had struggled against her love for Stephen. Perhaps he would
have mercy upon her and let her go away, all by herself, to wrestle
with her heart.

She couldn't eat; she couldn't sleep. She grew so wan and thin she was
like a ghost of her old self.

Her mother said:

"My dear, you must stop fretting. I am sure, under the care of that
clever young doctor Mr. French took down, and with the comforts of the
yacht, your husband will be quite himself by the time he gets home."

And her father added:

"You must not be so impatient, Deena; it is mighty nasty sailing
through West Indian waters, and a boat of that size doesn't carry
enough fuel for a prolonged voyage; they will have to stop for coal
somewhere on their way up."

She was growing irritable under her dread. Like Elisha, she longed to
silence them with the answer:

"I know it; hold ye your peace."

The middle of June had passed, the fourth week of the voyage had
begun, and now any day, any hour, might bring news. Deena's anxiety
had made such inroads into her health that her father took alarm and
called in her old friend Dr. Hassan, and he, wise man, gave her a
sedative and ordered her to bed, though the afternoon was still young.

It was the first long sleep she had had for weeks, and the refreshment
came at the time of her direst need, for at daybreak the summons
roused her. She waked with a beating heart; wheels stopped in the
street, her gate clicked, there were footsteps coming up her
path--bold, hurried steps; they reached the veranda--the bell pealed.

She sprang from her bed, huddling her dressing gown round her as she
ran, and, slipping back the heavy, old-fashioned bolts of the front
door, she stood face to face with Stephen.

If she were pale, he was paler; his blood seemed turned to ice that
summer morning.

"The yacht is at Wolfshead," he said. "How soon can you be ready? We
must go by rail--I have a special waiting for you."

A glow from the first blush of day caught her as she stood in the
frame of the doorway. She was like a mediæval saint, with her hair
wound in a crown about her head, her blue gown falling in stately
fold, and her bare feet showing under the hem of her nightgown. In
spite of her seeming calm, her eyes blazed with excitement.

To French she seemed something holy and apart--as if those bare feet
rested on a crescent, and the shadows of the old hall were floating
clouds. He had schooled himself during his hurried journey, in order
to meet her without emotion, but she was her own protection; to have
touched her would have seemed sacrilege. Her lips tried to frame the
question that consumed her with its terrors.

"Simeon----" she began, but her voice failed.

Stephen's haggard eyes softened.

"He is dying," he said. "But there is time--perhaps to-day--perhaps
to-morrow. His force of will has kept him alive to see you--he has
cared more than you knew."

She gave a little sob, and turned toward the staircase. Halfway up she
stopped.

"I forgot to ask you to come in," she said, "or whether you want
anything I can get you? But it doesn't matter, does it? All that
matters is to do Simeon's bidding. I shall be very quick."

In an incredibly short time she was back, fully dressed, and carrying
a bag, into which she had thrust what was indispensable to her comfort
for another day. She waked the servant, left a message for her father,
and then she and Stephen went out into the street, so gay with early
sunlight and twittering birds, so bare of human traffic. At first a
strange shyness kept her dumb; she longed to ask a thousand things,
but the questions that rose to her lips seemed susceptible of
misunderstanding, and Stephen's aloofness frightened her. Did he
think, she wondered, that she could forget her duty to Simeon at such
a moment, that he surrounded himself with this impenetrable reserve?
And all the time he was regarding her with a passionate reverence that
shamed him into silence.

At the railway station their train was waiting--the locomotive hissing
its impatience; they got into the car, for there was but one, and in a
moment were flying seaward. A man--the steward of the yacht--was busy
at the far end of the car with a cooking apparatus, and the aroma of
coffee came intoxicatingly to her nostrils. She remembered she had
eaten nothing since her early dinner the day before, and she was
exhausted with excitement, and then she despised herself for thinking
of her physical needs when Simeon lay dying. It was fortunate that
French had taken a saner view of the situation, for the coffee was
just what was needed to restore her equipoise.

She began to understand the delicacy of her companion's conduct, and
the simplicity of the whole situation when stripped of morbidness. The
only thing that behooved her was to soothe her husband's last hours on
earth--to give out the tenderness of a pitying heart. As her common
sense asserted itself she began plying Stephen with the questions that
had seemed so impossible half an hour before--would Simeon know
her--could he bear conversation--was he changed in appearance--had he
suffered beyond relief? She demanded the whole story of his rescue and
of the voyage home. She was gentle, womanly, infinitely sweet. By the
time they reached their destination all constraint was gone; they were
two comrades absorbed in a common interest, for Simeon occupied their
every thought.

There was a narrow pier at Wolfshead, sheltered by a point of rocky
shore that made a landing for small boats in good weather, and there
the steam launch was waiting with its two trim sailors and its gaudy
flag. The yacht was anchored about a mile from shore--her graceful
outlines clearly defined against the ocean's blue. If the purity of
her white paint had suffered in the long voyage it was not
apparent--red and white awnings were stretched over the deck. All
looked hospitably gay. Once more Deena shrank into herself, the
brilliant scene mocked the tragedy within.

All too quickly they crossed the intervening water; they were on the
deck--in the saloon. She was trembling so she could hardly stand, and
Stephen put her into a comfortable chair and left her, while he made
her coming known. She hardly glanced at the luxurious fittings of the
charming room; her eyes were fixed on the door, dreading, yet
impatient, for the message.

A small, sensitive-looking man came toward her and introduced himself.

"I am Dr. Miles," he said, "Mr. Ponsonby's physician, and, if you will
allow me, I will take you to him now. There is no question of saving
his strength, Mrs. Ponsonby. We have been nursing what is left to him
for days, in order that he could lavish it in this interview with you.
Don't try to curb him; let him have his say."

She followed him to a deck cabin almost under the bridge, and stood
for a moment at the threshold, to make sure of her composure. There
was a narrow brass bed, a chest of drawers, a washstand, and close to
the bed a wicker chair, with silk cushions, was drawn up, as if in
expectation of a guest. The head of the bed was toward her, so that
she couldn't see Simeon's face, but he heard the rustle of skirts, and
called her name, and she made a step forward and sank on her knees
beside him.

"Oh, Simeon," she gasped, "how you have suffered! I am so sorry!"

He moved his hand feebly and patted her shoulder, and she, in a
passion of pity, carried it to her lips. For the first time she
ventured to look at him. Was this Simeon! She would have passed him in
a hospital ward as an utter stranger, so completely was he changed. He
had discarded his spectacles, and his eyes were dull and faded; pain
had robbed them of that expression of concentrated wisdom she knew so
well. He wore a short, curling beard and mustache, and his clothing,
supplied from Stephen's wardrobe, was luxurious; it was silk, of a
faint color between blue and gray, and the handkerchief, protruding
from the pocket, was delicately fine. Extreme neatness was
characteristic of Simeon, but he disliked anything florid in dress or
appearance, anything opposed to the austere simplicity that marked his
manner of living. She wondered whether such things mattered to him
now.

He noticed her start of surprise as her eyes met his, and fancied she
was shocked by the ravages of illness, for he said, with a touch of
his old irritation:

"Didn't they tell you I was dying? Are you afraid to be left alone
with me? You used to be a courageous person, Deena."

The querulousness with which he began the sentence melted into a
rallying smile.

"Oh, no," she said, "I am not afraid. I am too sorry to be
frightened."

"There is a bell, in case you want to summon the doctor," he
continued, "but I should rather talk to you alone. I have been very
homesick for you, and for the old house--sometimes the longing has
been most acute--and then the anxiety of leaving you poorly provided
for has been part of my distress. If I could have lived a few years
more this would have been obviated, and possibly, even now, my book
will add something to your income." He made a visible effort to speak
clearly. "Now, in regard to your future support; I have a life
insurance of ten thousand dollars, and securities to about the same
amount--and then, of course, the house. This is all I have been able
to save, though I have cut our living down to bare necessities. You
have been of great assistance to me, Deena--without you life would
have had little flavor, but sometimes I fear that in the desire to
provide for your future I was not considerate enough of your present.
I ought to have been more mindful that young people need pleasure. You
will have to forgive that and many other mistakes." He looked at her
almost wistfully.

Deena's tears came, dripping plentifully over her clasped hands.

"It is I who should ask forgiveness," she said, humbly, remembering
how often she had scorned his economies. "The money is more than I
shall need--don't think of it again, Simeon. Isn't there anything you
want to tell me about your work--your book?"

His face lit up eagerly--the topic was congenial.

"My papers are safe," he said. "All the initial work of classification
and description that I did on the _Tintoretto_ is in French's keeping,
and he and Sinclair--the man who has my place--are going to edit the
book. We have had a great deal of talk about it on the way up,
whenever I had a fairly quiet day. It is idle to try to put into words
what I owe French."

"And he feels nothing but self-reproach for having urged you to go,"
said Deena, faintly. "Not that anyone could have foreseen the
miserable outcome."

"It isn't miserable!" Simeon answered, almost fiercely. "In many
respects it is all that I hoped. I have made a name for myself--there
will not be a scientific library in the world without my book, when
once it is issued. People have died for lesser achievements than
that." And then he added, more gently: "Not that it could be
considered as an achievement without French's aid."

His mind could not detach itself from its debt of gratitude, for he
suddenly broke out in passionate eulogy.

"He has sacrificed everything to me--his ambitions--his time--his
comfort--his money, though that is the last thing he would begrudge,
but you have no idea what it costs to run one of those large yachts!
It must have made an inroad even in his large fortune. He has been a
friend indeed!"

Deena turned away her face; it was hard for her to praise Stephen,
although her heart echoed her husband's words.

"He has high ideals in friendship as in everything else," she
answered, "but you must remember, Simeon, that the thought of your
sufferings agonized us at home. Who could have abandoned you to such a
fate? It makes me sick to think of it!"

A sort of shiver passed over him, while he said, simply:

"It was all in the day's work. French ran the same risks, only with
better luck." Presently he added:

"I feel tired, Deena--and a little oppressed. Perhaps you had better
ring the bell--but stay. Will you kiss me before you ring?"

She kissed him with a pity that wrung her heart, and he sighed
contentedly and shut his eyes. He only spoke once more, just as the
doctor came to his bedside.

"I should have been glad to see the old house before I die, but it is
just as well as it is."

He was dying all the afternoon, peacefully and gently, and at sunset
the end came.


CHAPTER XI.

Master Richard Shelton sat at the foot of his sister's table
dispensing its hospitalities chiefly to himself. Through some law
unknown to science, all dishes seemed to gravitate toward the main
center of Dicky's trencher, thereby leaving the rest of the table
comparatively bare.

For eighteen months Master Shelton had given Mrs. Ponsonby the
advantage of his company; not so much through volition--albeit, he was
well enough pleased with his quarters--as through submission to
paternal authority.

Conventional ideas are apt to wilt under the blight of poverty, and to
revive under the fuller harvesting of this world's goods, and Mr.
Shelton, Sr., who had, in the days of his leanness, let Polly run wild
with all the college boys of Harmouth, became suddenly particular, as
his bank account fattened, in regard to the niceties of conduct in his
daughters. His scruples even embraced Deena; he said she was too young
a widow to live alone, and a blank sight too handsome, and that either
she must return to the protection of his roof or else receive her
brother under her own. With the docility of the intelligent, she
accepted his fiat, but chose the evil represented by a unit rather
than by the sum total of family companionship.

So she and Dicky had lived together since the day when Simeon had been
laid to rest beside his mother in the churchyard, and Deena had taken
up life with such courage as she could muster in the old house. She
had started out with a long illness, as the result of overtaxed
nerves, and the nurse who had been engaged for Simeon found ample
employment with Simeon's widow; but a good constitution and a quiet
mind are excellent helps toward recovery, and by September she found
herself in admirable health.

Stephen's energies had been absorbed in editing Simeon's book. He had
the assistance of the botanical department of Harmouth, and the book
was produced in a manner which would have given poor Ponsonby infinite
pleasure. French spared no expense, especially in the color drawings
from Simeon's photographs and specimens, which were exceptionally
valuable. The printing was done in Boston, and Stephen was there much
of the time. During Deena's illness he was glad of an excuse to be
near enough to get daily reports of her progress, but as she became
strong and resumed the routine of living, so that intercourse became
unavoidable, he found the strain of silence more than he could bear.
He resigned his professorship permanently, and went abroad, making the
book his excuse. He wished to see that it was properly heralded by
both English and Continental scientific periodicals, and he preferred
to attend to it himself. To say that Deena missed him but feebly
expresses the void his going made in her life, but, knowing her own
heart, and suspecting the state of his, she was glad to be spared his
presence in these early days of widowhood, and could not but approve
his decision.

Dicky's society was hardly calculated to stifle her longings for
higher things, for his conduct called for constant repression. At
first he had nearly driven her wild by his prying interest in what did
not concern him, his way of unmasking her secret thoughts, his powers
of seeing round corners, if not through sealed envelopes, but as time
went on she grew fond of his honest boy-nature, and learned to laugh
at his precocious acuteness. Perhaps with Stephen's departure there
were fewer occasions for her to resent the challenge of his intrusive
eye. There were, also, alleviations coincident with the school year,
for then she was free from his company from the time he slammed the
front door, at five minutes to nine, till he returned at two, ravenous
for dinner.

On the particular morning indicated at the beginning of the chapter,
the season was the late autumn--the clock was pointing ominously near
nine--the lady opposite to Master Shelton looked more beautiful than
ever in her widow's weeds. Dicky conveyed half a sausage and a wedge
of buttered toast to the sustenance of boyhood before he asked--with
some difficulty, if the truth were confessed:

"May I take a bunch of grapes to school, Deena?"

She was about to give a cheerful consent, when he defeated his own
ends by adding:

"None of the other boys have hothouse grapes; it makes 'em think a lot
of me. I guess they know where they come from, too!"

"In those circumstances, certainly not," she answered, indignantly.
"You can eat all you like at home."

"Well, I call that low-down mean," he said, stabbing another sausage,
"and you gettin' all the fruit and flowers from Mr. French's place
sent to you every day. I wish Polly and Ben were there still--they
wouldn't begrudge me a little fruit."

Polly and Ben had taken Stephen's place for the summer, during his
protracted absence, and had but recently returned to New York.

"Polly and Ben would despise your snobbishness just as I do; besides,
I do not approve of your taking eatables to school," she added,
disingenuously, for her objection was to furnishing food for Harmouth
gossip--not to Dicky.

"Oh, pshaw!" he exclaimed. "As if I didn't know why you won't let me
take 'em! Mr. French will give me anything I ask for when he gets
home--that's one comfort. Did you know he may be here any day? The man
who brought the flowers told me so yesterday."

Deena's complexion flushed a lively pink, or else it was the
reflection from the wood fire, leaping in tongues of flame behind the
tall brass fender. She certainly looked singularly girlish as she sat
behind the array of Ponsonby breakfast silver, her severe black frock,
with the transparent bands of white at throat and wrists, only serving
to mark her youthful freshness. Her beauty was of little consequence
to her brother, who was busy considering the advantages that might
accrue to himself from Stephen's return.

"When Mr. French went away, he said I could ride his saddle horse, and
though I've been there half a dozen times since Ben left, that old
beast of a coachman won't let me inside the stable. Will you tell Mr.
French when he comes home what an old puddin' head he's got to look
after his horses? The man ought to be kicked out!"

"I shall hardly venture to complain to Mr. French about his servants,"
said Deena.

"You might be good-natured," he urged; "here's the whole autumn gone
without my getting any riding, and Mr. French would do anything you
asked----"

"It is time for you to go to school," said Deena, shortly.

"No, it isn't; not for three minutes yet," he contradicted. "'Tenny
rate, I don't mean to be early this morning--it's jography, and I
don't know my lesson; but I do think you might speak about the horse,
Deena; I never get a bit of sport worth countin'"--this in a high,
grumbling minor. "There was Ben; he had his automobile here the whole
summer, and never offered it to me once! The fellows all think it was
awfully mean--I had promised to take them out in it, and it made me
feel deuced cheap, I can tell you. The idea of using a machine like
that just to air a kid every day! I guess it pumped it full of wind,
anyhow--that's one comfort."

"If you are going to say disagreeable things about the baby, I won't
listen to you," said Deena, crossly, and then, ashamed of her
petulance, added: "Run along to school, dear; the sooner you get some
knowledge into that little red head of yours, the sooner you can have
automobiles and horses of your own."

"Those of my brothers-in-law will suit me just as well," he said,
favoring her with a horrid grimace, as he wiped his mouth on a rope of
napkin held taut between his outstretched fists. "Perhaps I had better
let Mr. French know myself what I expect in the future."

"Perhaps you'll mind your own business!" cried Deena, driven to fury.

He left the room singing in a quavering treble:

  I'll pray for you when on the stormy ocean
  With love's devotion. That's what I'll do.

It was a song with which a nursemaid of the Shelton children had been
wont to rock the reigning baby to sleep, and had lurked in Dicky's
memory for many a year.

Poor Deena was thoroughly ruffled. It was maddening to have a love she
held as the most sacred secret of her heart vulgarized by a boy's
coarse teasing, and, in addition, she was jealous of her own
dignity--anxious to pay her dead husband proper respect--distressed at
the possibility of Stephen's thoughtful kindness becoming a subject of
comment in the town. And yet what difference did it make?

This carefully guarded secret would be public property by her own
consent before a week was over, for Dicky's announcement of French's
return was no news to Deena--at that very moment her heart was beating
against a letter which assured her he was following fast upon its
tracks, and when he came he was not likely to prove a patient lover.
All through that second summer his letters had been growing more
tender, more urgent, till at last he had taken matters into his own
hands, and decided that their separation must end. For aught she knew,
his vessel might already have reached New York--he might be that
blessed moment on his way to Harmouth! The thought sent little thrills
of happiness bounding through her veins. She had a shrewd idea he
would appear unannounced by letter or telegram, but not
to-day--certainly not to-day--she reflected.

There were plenty of small duties waiting for her that morning, but in
woman's parlance she "couldn't settle to anything"; there was an
excitement in her mood that demanded the freedom of fresh air. She
went up to her bedroom and stood for a moment at her window before
yielding to the impulse that beckoned her out into the sunshine; and,
drawing Stephen's letter from her dress, she read it once more, to
make sure she had missed no precious hint as to the time of his
sailing. He wrote:

    May I come back? You must know all I mean that to imply--to come
    back, my best beloved, to you--to order my life in accordance to
    your pleasure--to marry you the day I set foot in Harmouth--or
    to wait impatiently till you are pleased to give yourself to me.
    I trust your love too entirely to fear that you will needlessly
    prolong the time. You are too fair-minded to let mere
    conventions weigh with you as against my happiness. Between you
    and me there must be no shams, and yet I would not shock or
    hurry you for the world.

    On second thoughts, I shall not wait for your permission to
    return--that is not the best way to gain one's desires! No, I
    shall come before you can stop me, and while you are saying to
    yourself, "Perhaps he is on the ocean," I may be turning in at
    your gate.

What did she mean to do? she asked herself, with a smile that was its
own answer.

She went into her closet, and, fetching her crape hat from the shelf,
began pinning it on before the glass. Its somber ugliness accorded ill
with the brightness of her hair, and somehow her hair seemed to turn
mourning into a mockery.

She couldn't help recalling an incident that had happened two years
before, when she had seen herself in that same glass transformed into
sudden prettiness by Polly's skillful fingers, and how her pleasure in
her appearance had been turned into humiliation by Simeon's petty
tyranny, when she asked him to pay for her hat. And then she was
ashamed of her own thoughts--distressed that she had let the paltry
reminiscence force itself into her mind; for great happiness should
put us in charity with all. Never again would she allow an unkind
remembrance to lodge in her thoughts.

She shut the door of her room and hurried out into the street--there
was so much indoors to remind her of what she most wished to forget.
When Stephen came for her they would go away from Harmouth--just for a
little while, till the memories faded--and, in a future of perfect
love, think kindly, gratefully, pitifully, of Simeon.

You see, she was desperately in love, poor child, and at last heart
and conscience were in accord.

Her feet fairly danced up the street; she moved so lightly she hardly
rustled the carpet of fallen leaves that overspread the pavement. It
was a glorious day, the sun was touching all prosaic things with gold,
and up in heaven, against the interminable blue, little white clouds
sailed in dapples, such as Raphael charged with angel faces, and every
face seemed to smile.

Wandering across the campus, under the stately arches of the college
elms, she finally reached the open country, and, realizing that even
the wings of happiness are mortal, she turned homeward, choosing the
avenue that led past French's place. Perhaps she hoped for reassuring
signs of his coming--doors and windows thrown open and gardeners at
work upon the ground--but before she got beyond the high hedge that
cut off her view, a carriage, which she recognized as Stephen's, drove
rapidly toward the gate, and in it sat a lady, stately and grand, but
so closely veiled as to defy both sun and curiosity. At a sign from
her the carriage stopped, and a voice exclaimed:

"I have just been to see you, Mrs. Ponsonby, and was so much
disappointed to find you out--and so was some one else, I fancy, who I
am sure has been at your house this morning! Pray get in and drive
home with me. And I will send you back to town after you have paid me
a little visit."

Deena had by this time recognized Mrs. Star, and recovered
sufficiently from her surprise to take the offered seat in the
carriage, but she was in such a tumult of hope and fear she hardly
dared trust herself to do more than greet her old friend. Mrs. Star
understood quite well, and gave her time to recover her wits by a
characteristic harangue.

"How am I?" she repeated, sardonically. "Lame for life! I have never
got over McTorture's treatment, and never shall. Oh, no, it was not
the original accident--that was an innocent affair--it is the result
of McTorture's nonsense in keeping me chained to my sofa in one
position till my leg stiffened. But never mind about doctors; they're
all alike--bad's the best! You look handsome and healthy enough to
keep out of their clutches; tell me all about yourself."

"There is never anything to tell about me," said Deena. "I am much
more concerned to know why you are here."

Mrs. Star's eyes softened.

"Because Stephen wouldn't stop long enough in New York for me to
exchange ten words with him, and so I did the next best thing--indeed,
the only thing I could do to satisfy my affection--I came with him;
and upon my word, I do not think he wanted me! Now, how do you account
for that, Mrs. Deena?"

Her expression was so insinuating that Deena might be excused a slight
irritation in her tone as she answered:

"I don't account for it."

Here they reached the front door, for the approach was a short one,
and Mrs. Star got out laboriously and ushered her guest into the hall.

"Do you know your way to the library?" she asked. "It is on the other
side of this barn of a room, and if you will make yourself comfortable
there, I will join you in a minute. The truth is, we are not in order,
and I must give a message before I can have the conscience to sit down
and enjoy a chat."

Deena's eyes were still blinded by the midday glare, but she managed
to cross the great drawing room without stumbling over an ottoman,
and, pushing aside the heavy curtain that shut off the library, she
walked directly into Stephen's arms.

As Mrs. Star saw fit to leave her undisturbed, it would be sheer
presumption for a humble person like the writer to disregard that
compelling example. Suffice it to say that for one hour Stephen's
horses stamped and champed in the stable, and that when finally Mrs.
Star did appear, the occupants of the library were under the
impression she had been gone barely long enough to take off her wraps.

Perhaps no mortals deserve happiness, and certainly few attain it, but
if ever a man and a woman were likely to find satisfaction in each
other's companionship, it was the lovers sitting hand in hand before
Stephen's fire.

Most women of twenty-four have had some experience of love as a
passion; they have known its fullness or its blight, or more often
still, they have frittered it away in successive flirtations, but with
Deena it had come as a revelation and been consecrated to one. To be
sure, she had tried to crush and repress it, but it had persisted
because of its inherent force. And with Stephen the passion was at
once the delight and glory of his life. His was no boy's love made up
of sentiment and vanity; he had brought a man's courage to follow duty
to the borders of despair, and all the while he held the image of her
he loved unsullied in his heart. At last they were free to take all
that life had before withheld of sympathy and friendship and perfect
understanding. What wonder that an hour should slip away before they
realized the flight of time?

Mrs. Star received her nephew's announcement with suitable effusion,
and with an undercurrent of genuine feeling. After kissing Deena, she
made a confidence that had a spice of kindly malice.

"My dear child," she said, "I knew so well what was about to happen,
that I came all the way from New York in order to welcome you into the
family, and I think I showed great self-restraint not to tell you so
in the carriage when you put that very direct question as to what
brought me."



CONCERNING THE HEART'S DEEP PAGES

By SEWELL FORD

_Author of "Horses Nine," Etc._


When Dickie's mother put him in my charge for the summer she said:
"Keep him out of as much mischief as you can." This seemed
unnecessary, for, really, Dickie was a well-mannered, good-looking
young fellow, with broad shoulders, a clear skin and a clean heart. I
said as much.

"Oh, you old bachelors!" laughed Dickie's mother, and sailed away to
spend her second season of widowhood abroad.

Dickie and I were just taking a look at the country surrounding our
summer headquarters when we found Rosie. Balancing herself on a
gatepost and eating cherries was Rosie. It must be admitted that she
did both of these things with a certain grace, also that the picture
she made had its charm. For she was probably sixteen, with all that
the age implies.

Of course, one could not expect Dickie to be at all impressed.
Certainly I did not.

"Girls!" Here followed an ominous inbreathing, ending in an explosive
"Huh!" This was Dickie's expressed attitude toward the sex. For Dickie
was nineteen, which is the scornful age, you know. What are girls when
a fellow is going to be a soph. in the fall, with the prospect of
playing quarterback on the 'varsity eleven?

As we neared the girl on the gatepost Dickie gave her a careless
glance. She certainly deserved better. There was the sifting sunshine
in her hair and there were her white, rounded arms reaching up to pull
down a fruit-laden branch. Perhaps the girl on the gatepost felt the
slight of Dickie's unappreciative glance, perhaps not. At any rate,
she was unstirred.

"Want one?" she asked, saucily dangling a cherry at us.

Red as the cherry went Dickie's face, and he marched stiffly past
without reply. Once we were out of earshot, he remarked, with deep
disgust: "What a freshy!"

"Yes, but rather pretty," said I.

"Think so? Now, I don't." This with the air of a connoisseur. "But she
did have good eyes."

"Yes," I agreed. "I like brown ones myself."

"Brown?" protested Dickie. "They were blue, dark blue and big--the
deep kind."

"Oh, were they?" In my tone must have been that which caused Dickie to
suspect that I was teasing him.

"You bet she knows it, too," he added, vindictively. "Conceited
beggars, these girls."

"Awfully," I assented. Then, after a pause: "But I thought you were
fond of cherries?"

"So I am. If she'd been a boy, I would have tried to buy a quart."

"She seemed to want you to have some," I suggested. "Perhaps she would
sell you a few."

Dickie glanced at me suspiciously. "Think so? I've a mind to go back
and try. Will you wait?"

I said I would; in fact, it was the only thing to be done, for he was
off. So I sat down and watched the scorner of girls disappear eagerly
around a bend in the road. At the end of a half hour of waiting I
began to speculate. Had Dickie's courage failed him, had he taken to
the woods, or was he upbraiding her of the gatepost for the sin of
conceit? I would go and see for myself.

All unheeding the rest of the world, they were sitting at the foot of
the cherry tree. The "conceited beggar" of the deep blue eyes was
trying to toss cherries into Dickie's open mouth. When she missed it
became Dickie's turn to toss cherries. The game was a spirited one.
Dickie appeared to be well entertained.

"I thought you had forgotten me," said I, mildly. Dickie's laugh broke
square in the middle, and he smoothed his face into a bored
expression.

"Her name is Rosie," this was the substance of the stammered
introduction.

"Indeed!" I replied. "And you were right about her eyes; they _are_
blue."

Dickie flushed guiltily and hastily got on his feet.

"Come on," he said; "I guess we'd better be going."

Very frankly Rosie looked her opinion of me as we left. It was
interesting to note the elaborate strategy used by Dickie to conceal
the fact that he waved his handkerchief to her. There ensued a long
silence between us, but of this Dickie seemed unconscious. He broke it
by whistling "Bedelia" two notes off the key.

"It's too bad, Dickie," I said, finally, "that you dislike girls so
much."

"They're a silly lot," said Dickie, with a brave effort at a tired
drawl.

"But Rosie, now----"

"Oh, she's not like the rest of them. She's rather jolly."

"Conceited little beggar, though, I suppose?"

"No, sir; not a bit. She's just the right kind." Then Dickie flushed
and the conversation lapsed suddenly.

We were to go sailing on the river next morning, but when the time
came Dickie pleaded delay. He had "promised to take a book to a
friend." He would be back in a few minutes. Two hours did Dickie take
for that errand, and I began to think that perhaps my joking had been
unwise.

Dickie now entered upon a chronic state of being "togged up." He
treasured faded flowers, raising hue and cry because the maid threw
out a wilted peony which he had enshrined in a vase on his chiffonier.
Once he almost fell into the river rescuing an envelope which had
slipped from his pocket. The treasure it contained seemed to be a lock
of dark hair. His spending money went for fancy chocolates, which I
did not see him eat.

Such were the beginnings of this tremendous affair.

Very gentle and serious Dickie became in these days, moods new to him.
Also he took to reading poetry. Scott's "Marmion," about the only
piece of verse with which he had been on speaking acquaintance, he
abandoned for fragments of "Locksley Hall" and "Lucille." His musical
taste underwent like change. The rollicking college airs he was
accustomed to whistle with more vigor than accuracy gave place to
"Tell Me, Pretty Maiden," and "Annie Laurie." These he executed quite
as inaccurately, but--and this was some relief--in minor key.

Sitting in the sacred hush of the moonlight, we had long talks on
sober subjects not at all related to "revolving wedges" and "guards
back formation," on which he had been wont to discourse. With uneasy
conscience I meditated on the amazing alchemy, potent in young and
tender passion.

One morning a grinning youngster with big blue eyes, like Rosie's,
handed me a note. It was rather sticky to the touch, by reason of the
candy with which the messenger had been paid. It bore no address.
"Darlingest Dearest----" Thus far I read, then folded it promptly and
put it in my pocket.

The note was still there the next afternoon when, jibing our sail, we
came abruptly on an unexpected scene. In a smart cedar rowboat, such
as they have for hire at the summer hotel, an athletic youth wielded a
pair of long, spruce oars. Facing him, with her back toward us and
leaning comfortably against the chair seat in the stern, was a pretty
girl in white.

"Why," said I, with perhaps a suspicion of relief, "I believe that is
Rosie."

Dickie, gripping the tiller hard, was staring as one in a trance. My
words roused him.

"Rosie? What Rosie?" said he.

"Why, the one who gave you the cherries."

"Is it?" asked Dickie, stoically. Then, with studied carelessness and
devilish abandon: "I say, old man, toss me a cigar, will you? I feel
like having a smoke."

After dinner I found Dickie in his room. There was a scent of burned
paper in the air and fresh ashes were in the grate. The mercury was
close to ninety.

"Chilly?" said I.

Dickie laughed unconvincingly. "No, just burning some old trash. Want
to take a tramp?"

I did. Was it chance or the immutable workings of fate which took us
in time past the house of the cherry tree? In a porch hammock was
Rosie, a vision of budding beauty only half clouded in flimsy lawn and
lace. Yet with never a turn of the head Dickie swaggered by, talking
meanwhile to me in tones meant to carry an idea of much
light-heartedness. Over my shoulder I noted that Rosie was standing
watching us, a puzzled look on her face.

"Dick!" It was rather a faint call, but loud enough to be heard.

"She's calling you," said I.

"Wait, Dickie!" This time there was an aggrieved, pleading note,
against which the stern Dickie was not proof.

"Well," said he, "I suppose I'd better see what she wants. Will you
wait?"

"No, I will go on slowly and you can catch up with me. Don't be long,
Dickie."

But a full hour later, when I returned, he was just starting. From
some distance up the road I could see them. On the veranda Rosie's
mother rocked and worked placidly away at something in her lap. Quite
sedately they walked down the path until a big hydrangea bush, studded
thickly with great clumps of blossoms, screened them from the house.
Then something occurred which told me that the boating incident and
the unanswered note had either been forgiven or forgotten. I dodged
out of sight behind a hedge. When I thought it safe to come out,
Dickie was swinging up the road toward me, whistling furiously.
Clawing my shoulder, he remarked: "Say, old man, what do you think of
her?"

"Think of whom?"

"Why, Rosie."

"Rosie! What Rosie? Oh, you mean the one who gave you the cherries?"

"Yes, of course. Say"--this impulsively in my ear--"she's the sweetest
girl alive."

"From what I saw just now," said I, "I should say that you were quite
competent to pass on Rosie's flavor. You took at least two tastes."

"I don't care if you did see," said Dickie. "Suppose you can keep a
secret? We're en----"

"You young scamp!" I exclaimed. Visions of an ambitious and angry
mother came to me with abrupt vividness. "You don't mean to tell me
that you two----"

"Yep, we are. But no one is to know of it until I've graduated."

Interesting news for me, wasn't it? Well, by means of discreet
deception and the use of such diplomacy as would have settled a
dispute between nations, I dragged Dickie far away that very night.
Moreover, although it was the most difficult and thankless task I had
ever undertaken, I kept him away until I had seen him safely bestowed
in a college dormitory. There I left him constructing, in defiance of
all the good advice I had given him, an elaborate missive to a person
whom he addressed as "My Darling Rosie." Then I knew that I might as
well give up. Sorrowfully I recalled the words of a forgotten
sentimentalist: "It is on the deep pages of the heart that Youth
writes indelibly its salutary to Cupid."

When I met Dickie's mother at the pier in October, I expected to hear
that he had written all about my wicked interference in the Rosie
affair. He hadn't, though, and I shamelessly accepted her thanks,
wondering all the while what she would say when the shocking truth
came out. Her Dickie engaged! And to a nameless nobody! It would not
be pleasant to face Dickie's mother after she had acquired this
knowledge.

So at the end of the term I was on hand to help Dickie pack his trunk,
meaning to save him, by hook or crook, from his precocious
entanglement. I should try reason first, then ridicule, and, lastly, I
would plead with him, as humbly as I might, to forget.

This program I did not carry out. On the mantel in Dickie's room,
propped against a tobacco jar, was a photograph of a girl with fluffy
hair and pouting lips. Observing that Dickie wrapped the picture
carefully in a sweater before tucking it away in his trunk, I asked:
"Who is that, Dickie?"

"Met her at the Junior hop," said Dickie. "She's a queen, all right."

"Indeed!" Then I added, anxiously: "And what of Rosie?"

"Rosie?" Could this blankness on Dickie's face be genuine? "What
Rosie?"

"Why, the one who gave you the cherries."

"Oh, _that_ one!" Dickie laughed lightly. "Why, that's all off long
ago, you know."

Right there I abandoned all faith in a sentimental theory having to do
with Cupid and certain pages in the heart of Youth.



SONG

  I gave to love the fairest rose
    That in my garden grew;
  And still my heart its fragrance knows--
    Does he remember, too?

  He laid his dreams upon my day,
    His kisses on my mouth,
  I woke, to find him flown away
    With summer to the south.

  Love's vagrant step once more to greet,
    My garden blooms in vain;
  The roses of the south are sweet--
    Love will not come again!

  The roses of the south are sweet--
    Love will not come again!

                                 CHARLOTTE BECKER.



AN EDITORIAL

SYNOPSIS OF CHAPTERS I--XIII OF "THE DELUGE," BY DAVID GRAHAM PHILLIPS


Matthew Blacklock, the central figure of the story, is essentially a
self-made man, who has made himself a power to be reckoned with. He is
a man of great natural force, immense egotism, insatiable greed for
notoriety and unswerving adherence to his own standards of morality.
He has two devouring ambitions: First to become one of the inner
circle that controls high finance and second to become one of the
elect in society.

The opening chapters explain these ambitions. The magnate of the
financial world is Roebuck, who has from time to time made use of
Blacklock's peculiar abilities and following. The latter has become
impatient and dissatisfied with his role as a mere instrument and
demands of Roebuck that he shall be given a place among the "seats of
the mighty." Roebuck makes a pretense of yielding to the demand.

Blacklock's social ambition is awakened and stimulated by his meeting
with Anita Ellersly, the sister of a young society man who has been
the recipient of many financial favors from Blacklock.

The latter finally succeeds in his wish so far as to receive an
invitation to dinner at the Ellerslys', which is given for reasons
that are obvious. It is made plain to him, however, that his
intentions with respect to Anita are extremely distasteful to her, and
after an evening spent under a tremendous nervous strain he leaves the
house exhausted and depressed.

His first impulse after his visit to the Ellerslys' house is to regard
his plans as hopeless, but his vanity comes to his rescue and
strengthens his resolution to succeed. For assistance he turns to
Monson, the trainer of his racing stable, an Englishman in whom he has
discovered unmistakable signs of breeding and refinement. Under
Monson's tuition he makes rapid progress in adapting himself to the
requirements imposed upon aspirants for social distinction.

His absorption in these pursuits leads to his unconscious neglect of
some of the finer points of his financial game. He allows himself to
be misled by the smooth appearance of the friendliness of Mowbray
Langdon, one of Roebuck's trusted lieutenants, and accumulates a heavy
short interest in one of his pet industrial stocks. He visits Roebuck
and is deceived by the latter's suavity. He has another invitation to
dine at the Ellerslys', but his experience is as discouraging as
before.

Nevertheless, having now become hopelessly in love with Anita, he
persists in his attentions and finally becomes engaged to her, though
it is perfectly understood by both that she does not love him and
accepts him only because he is rich and her family is poor.

Meantime, he has to some extent lost his hold upon his affairs in Wall
Street and suddenly awakens to the fact that he has been betrayed by
Langdon, who, knowing that Blacklock is deeply involved in a short
interest in Textile Trust stock, has taken advantage of the latter's
preoccupation with Miss Ellersly to boom the price of the stock. With
ruin staring him in the face, Blacklock takes energetic measures to
save himself.

He makes the startling discovery that Langdon is the person
responsible for the rise in Textile, the object being to drive him
from the Street. He sees Anita, tells her the situation and frees her,
but she refuses to accept her release when she hears of Langdon's
duplicity.

With the aid of money loaned to him by a gambler friend, he succeeds
the next day, by means of large purchases of Textile Trust, in
postponing the catastrophe.

Calling at the house of the Ellerslys', he has a violent scene with
Mrs. Ellersly, who attempts to break the engagement between him and
Anita, but it ends in his taking her with him from the house.



THE DELUGE

A STORY OF MODERN FINANCE

By DAVID GRAHAM PHILLIPS

[FOR SYNOPSIS OF PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS SEE PRECEDING PAGE]


As we neared the upper end of the park, I told my chauffeur, through
the tube, to enter and go slowly. Whenever a lamp flashed in at us, I
had a glimpse of her progress toward composure--now she was drying her
eyes with the bit of lace she called a handkerchief; now her bare arms
were up, and with graceful fingers she was arranging her hair; now she
was straight and still, the soft, fluffy material with which her wrap
was edged drawn close about her throat. I shifted to the opposite
seat, for my nerves warned me that I could not long control myself, if
I stayed on where her garments were touching me.

I looked away from her for the pleasure of looking at her again, of
realizing that my overwrought senses were not cheating me. Yes, there
she was, in all the luster of that magnetic beauty I cannot think of
even now without an up-blazing of the fire which is to the heart what
the sun is to the eyes of a blind man dreaming of sight. There she was
on my side of the chasm that had separated us--alone with
me--mine--mine! And my heart dilated with pride. But a moment later
came a sense of humility. Her beauty intoxicated me, but her youth,
her fineness, so fragile for such rough hands as mine, awed and
humbled me. "I must be very gentle," said I to myself. "I have
promised that she shall never regret. God help me to keep my promise!
She is mine, but only to preserve and protect." And that idea of
_responsibility in possession_ was new to me--was to have far-reaching
consequences. Now I think it changed the whole course of my life.

She was leaning forward, her elbow on the casement of the open window
of the brougham, her cheek against her hand; the moonlight was
glistening on her round, firm forearm and on her serious face. "How
far, far away from--everything it seems here!" she said, her voice
tuned to that soft, clear light, "and how beautiful it is!" Then,
addressing the moon and the shadows of the trees rather than me: "I
wish I could go on and on--and never return to--to the world."

"I wish we could," said I.

My tone was low, but she started, drew back into the brougham, became
an outline in the deep shadow. In another mood that might have angered
me. Just then it hurt me so deeply that to remember it to-day is to
feel a faint ache in the scar of the long healed wound. My face was
not hidden as was hers; so, perhaps, she saw. At any rate, her voice
tried to be friendly as she said: "Well--I have crossed the Rubicon.
And I don't regret. It was silly of me to cry. I thought I had been
through so much that I was beyond such weakness. But you will find me
calm from now on, and reasonable."

"Not too reasonable, please," said I, with an attempt at her
lightness. "A reasonable woman is as trying as an unreasonable man."

"But we are going to be sensible with each other," she urged, "like
two friends. Aren't we?"

"We are going to be what we are going to be," said I. "We'll have to
take life as it comes."

That clumsy reminder set her to thinking, stirred her vague uneasiness
in those strange circumstances to active alarm. For presently she
said, in a tone that was not quite so matter-of-course as she would
have liked to make it: "We'll go now to my uncle Frank's. He's a
brother of my father. I always used to like him best--and still do.
But he married a woman mamma thought--queer--and they hadn't much--and
he lives away up on the West Side--One Hundred and Twenty-seventh
Street."

"The wise plan, the only wise plan," said I, not so calm as she must
have thought me, "is to go to my partner's house and send out for a
minister."

"Not to-night," she replied, nervously. "Take me to uncle Frank's, and
to-morrow we can discuss what to do and how to do it."

"To-night," I persisted. "We must be married to-night. No more
uncertainty and indecision and weakness. Let us begin bravely, Anita!"

"To-morrow," she said. "But not to-night. I must think it over."

"To-night," I repeated. "To-morrow will be full of its own problems.
This is to-night's."

She shook her head, and I saw that the struggle between us had
begun--the struggle against her timidity and conventionality. "No, not
to-night." This in her tone for finality.

To have argued with any woman in such circumstances would have been
dangerous; to have argued with her would have been fatal. To reason
with a woman is to flatter her into suspecting you of weakness and
herself of strength. I told the chauffeur to turn about and go slowly
uptown. She settled back into her corner of the brougham. Neither of
us spoke until we were passing Clairmont. Then she started out of her
secure confidence in my obedience, and exclaimed: "This is not the
way!" And her voice had in it the hasty call-to-arms.

"No," I replied, determined to push the panic into a rout. "As I told
you, our future shall be settled to-night." That in _my_ tone for
finality.

A pause, then: "It _has_ been settled," she said, like a child that
feels, yet denies, its impotence as it struggles in the compelling
arms of its father. "I thought until a few minutes ago that I really
intended to marry you. Now I see that I didn't."

"Another reason why we're not going to your uncle's," said I.

She leaned forward so that I could see her face. "I cannot marry you,"
she said. "I feel humble toward you, for having misled you. But it is
better that you--and I--should have found out now than too late."

"It _is_ too late--too late to go back."

"Would you wish to marry a woman who does not love you, who loves some
one else, and who tells you so and refuses to marry you?" She had
tried to concentrate enough scorn into her voice to hide her fear.

"I would," said I. "And I shall. I'll not desert you, Anita, when your
courage and strength fail. I will carry you on to safety."

"I tell you I cannot marry you," she cried, between appeal and
command. "There are reasons--I may not tell you. But if I might, you
would--would take me to my uncle's. I cannot marry you!"

"That is what conventionality bids you say now," I replied. "But what
will it bid you say to-morrow morning, as we drive down crowded Fifth
Avenue, after a night in this brougham?"

I could not see her, for she drew back into the darkness as sharply as
if I had struck her with all my force full in the face. But I could
feel the effect of my words upon her. I paused, not because I expected
or wished an answer, but because I had to steady myself--myself, not
my purpose; my purpose was inflexible. I would put through what we had
begun, just as I would have held her and cut off her arm with my
pocketknife if we had been cast away alone, and I had had to do it to
save her life. She was not competent to decide for herself. Every
problem that had ever faced her had been decided by others for her.
Who but me could decide for her now? I longed to plead with her, to
show her how I was suffering; but I dared not. "She would
misunderstand," said I to myself. "She would think you were
weakening."

Full fifteen minutes of that frightful silence before she said: "I
will go where you wish." And she said it in a tone which makes me
wince as I recall it now.

I called my partner's address up through the tube. Again that
frightful silence, then she was trying to choke back the sobs. A few
words I caught: "They have broken my will--they have broken my will."

Ball lived in a big, graystone house that stood apart and commanded a
noble view of the Hudson and the Palisades. It was, in the main, a
reproduction of a French chateau, and such changes as the architect
had made in his model were not positively disfiguring, though amusing.
There should have been trees and shrubbery about it, but--"As Mrs. B.
says," Joe had explained to me, "what's the use of sinking a lot of
cash in a house people can't see?" So there was not a bush, not a
flower. Inside---- One day Ball took me on a tour of the art shops.
"I've got a dozen corners and other big bare spots to fill," said he.
"Mrs. B. hates to give up money, haggles over every article. I'm going
to put the job through in business style." I soon discovered that I
had been brought along to admire his "business style," not to suggest.
After two hours, in which he bought in small lots about a carload of
statuary, paintings, vases and rugs, he said, "This is too slow." He
pointed his stick at a crowded corner of the shop. "How much for that
bunch of stuff?" he demanded. The proprietor gave him a figure. "I'll
close," said Joe, "if you'll give fifteen off for cash." The
proprietor agreed. "Now we're done," said Joe to me. "Let's go
downtown, and maybe I can pick up what I've dropped."

You can imagine that interior. But don't picture it as notably worse
than the interior of the average New York palace. It was, if anything,
better than those houses, where people who deceive themselves about
their lack of taste have taken great pains to prevent anyone else from
being deceived. One could hardly move in Joe's big rooms for the
litter of gilded and tapestried furniture, and their crowded walls
made the eyes ache.

The appearance of the man who opened the door for Anita and me
suggested that our ring had roused him from a bed where he had
deposited himself without bothering to take off his clothes. At the
sound of my voice, Ball peered out of his private smoking room, at the
far end of the hall. He started forward; then, seeing how I was
accompanied, stopped with mouth ajar. He had on a ragged smoking
jacket, a pair of shapeless old Romeo slippers, his ordinary business
waistcoat and trousers. He was wearing neither tie nor collar, and a
short, black pipe was between his fingers. We had evidently caught the
household stripped of "lugs," and sunk in the down-at-the-heel
slovenliness which it called "comfort." Joe was crimson with
confusion, and was using his free hand to stroke, alternately, his
shiny bald head and his heavy brown mustache. He got himself together
sufficiently, after a few seconds, to disappear into his den. When he
came out again, pipe and ragged jacket were gone, and he rushed for us
in a gorgeous gray velvet jacket with dark red facings, and a showy
pair of slippers.

"Glad to see you, Mr. Blacklock"--he always addressed every man as
Mister in his own house, just as "Mrs. B." always called him "Mister
Ball," and he called her "Missus Ball" before "company." "Come right
into the front parlor. Billy, turn on the electric lights."

Anita had been standing with her head down. She now looked round with
shame and terror in those expressive blue-gray eyes of hers; her
delicate nostrils were quivering. I hastened to introduce Ball to her.
Her impulse to fly passed; her training in doing the conventional
thing asserted itself. She lowered her head again, murmured an
inaudible acknowledgment of Joe's greeting.

"Your wife is at home?" said I. If one was at home in the evening, the
other always was also, and both were always there, unless they were at
some theater--except on Sunday night, when they dined at Sherry's,
because many fashionable people did it. They had no friends and few
acquaintances. In their humbler and happy days they had had many
friends, but had lost them when they moved away from Brooklyn and went
to live, like uneasy, out-of-place visitors, in their grand house,
pretending to be what they longed to be, longing to be what they
pretended to be, and as discontented as they deserved.

"Oh, yes, Mrs. B.'s at home," Joe answered. "I guess she and Alva
were--about to go to bed." Alva was their one child. She had been
christened Malvina, after Joe's mother; but when the Balls "blossomed
out" they renamed her Alva, which they somehow had got the impression
was "smarter."

At Joe's blundering confession that the females of the family were in
no condition to receive, Anita said to me in a low voice: "Let us go."

I pretended not to hear. "Rout 'em out," said I to Joe. "And then take
my electric and bring the nearest parson. There's going to be a
wedding--right here." And I looked round the long salon, with
everything draped for the summer departure. Joe whisked the cover off
one chair, his man off another. "I'll have the women folks down in two
minutes," he cried. Then to the man: "Get a move on you, Billy. Stir
'em up in the kitchen. Do the best you can about supper--and put a lot
of champagne on the ice. That's the main thing at a wedding."

Anita had seated herself listlessly in one of the uncovered chairs.
The wrap slipped back from her shoulders and--how proud I was of her!
Joe gazed, took advantage of her not looking up to slap me on the back
and to jerk his head in enthusiastic approval. Then he, too,
disappeared.

A wait, during which we could hear through the silence excited
undertones from the upper floors. The words were indistinct until
Joe's heavy voice sent down to us an angry "No damn' nonsense, I tell
you. Allie's got to come, too. She's not such a fool as you think. Bad
example--bosh!"

Anita started up. "Oh--please--please!" she cried. "Take me
away--anywhere! This is dreadful."

It was, indeed, dreadful. If I could have had my way at just that
moment, it would have gone hard with "Mrs. B." and "Allie"--and
heavy-voiced Joe, too. But I hid my feelings. "There's nowhere else to
go," said I, "except the brougham."

She sank helplessly into her chair.

A few minutes more of silence, and there was a rustling on the stairs.
She started up, trembling, looked round, as if seeking some way of
escape or some place to hide. Joe was in the doorway holding aside one
of the curtains. There entered, in a beribboned and beflounced tea
gown, a pretty, if rather ordinary, woman of forty, with a petulant
baby face. She was trying to look reserved and severe. She hardly
glanced at me before fastening sharp, suspicious eyes on Anita.

"Mrs. Ball," said I, "this is Miss Ellersly."

"Miss Ellersly!" she exclaimed, her face changing. And she advanced
and took both Anita's hands. "Mr. Ball is so stupid," she went on,
with that amusingly affected accent which is the "Sunday clothes" of
speech.

"I didn't catch the name, my dear," Joe stammered.

"Be off," said I, aside, to him. "Get the nearest preacher, and hustle
him here with his tools."

I had one eye on Anita all the time, and I saw her gaze follow Joe as
he hurried out; and her expression made my heart ache. I heard him
saying in the hall, "Go in, Allie. It's O. K.;" heard the door slam,
knew we should soon have some sort of minister with us.

"Allie" entered the drawing room. I had not seen her in six years. I
remembered her unpleasantly as a great, bony, florid child, unable to
stand still or to sit still, or to keep her tongue still, full of
aimless questions and giggles and silly remarks, which she and her
mother thought funny. I saw her now, grown into a handsome young
woman, with enough beauty points for an honorable mention, if not for
a prize--straight and strong and rounded, with a brow and a keen look
out of the eyes which it seemed a pity should be wasted on a woman.
Her mother's looks, her father's good sense, a personality got from
neither, but all her own, and unusual and interesting.

"From what Mr. Ball said," Mrs. Ball was gushing affectedly to Anita,
"I got an idea, that--well, really, I didn't know _what_ to think."

Anita looked as if she were about to suffocate. Allie came to the
rescue. "Not very complimentary to Mr. Blacklock, mother," said she,
good-humoredly. Then to Anita, with a simple friendliness there was no
resisting: "Wouldn't you like to come up to my room for a few
minutes?"

"Oh, thank you," responded Anita, after a quick but thorough
inspection of Alva's face, to make sure she was like her voice. I had
not counted on this; I had been assuming that Anita would not be out
of my sight until we were married. It was on the tip of my tongue to
interfere when she looked at me--for permission to go. "Don't keep her
too long," said I to Alva, and they were gone.

"You can't blame me--really you can't, Mr. Blacklock," Mrs. Ball began
to plead for herself, as soon as they were safely out of hearing.
"After some things--mere hints, you understand--for I'm careful what I
permit Mr. Ball to say before _me_. I think married people cannot be
too respectful of each other. I _never_ tolerate _vulgarity_."

"No doubt, Joe has made me out a very vulgar person," said I,
forgetting her lack of sense of humor.

"Oh, not at all, not at all, Mr. Blacklock," she protested, in a panic
lest she had done her husband damage with me. "I understand, men will
be men, though as a pure-minded woman, I'm sure I can't imagine why
they should be."

"How far off is the nearest church?" I cut in.

"Only two blocks--that is, the Methodist church," she replied. "But I
know Mr. Ball will bring an Episcopalian."

"Why, I thought you were a devoted Presbyterian," said I, recalling
how in their Brooklyn days she used to insist on Joe's going with her
twice every Sunday to sleep through long sermons.

She looked uncomfortable. "I was reared Presbyterian," she explained,
confusedly, "but you know how it is in New York. And when we came to
live here, we got out of the habit of churchgoing. And all Alva's
little friends were Episcopalians. So I drifted toward that church. I
find the service so satisfying--so--elegant. And--one sees there the
people one sees socially."

"How is your culture class?" I inquired, deliberately malicious, in my
impatience and nervousness. "And do you still take conversation
lessons?"

She was furiously annoyed. "Oh, those old jokes of Joe's," she said,
affecting disdainful amusement.

In fact, they were anything but jokes. On Mondays and Thursdays she
used to attend a class for women who, like herself, wished to be
"up-to-date on culture and all that sort of thing." They hired a
teacher to cram them with odds and ends about art and politics and the
"latest literature, heavy and light." On Tuesdays and Fridays she had
an "indigent gentlewoman," whatever that may be, come to her to teach
her how to converse and otherwise conduct herself according to the
"standards of polite society." Joe used to give imitations of those
conversation lessons that raised roars of laughter round the poker
table, the louder because so many of the other men had wives with the
same ambitions and the same methods of attaining them.

Mrs. Ball came back to the subject of Anita. "I am glad you are going
to settle with such a charming girl. She comes of such a charming
family. I have never happened to meet any of them. We are in the West
Side set, you know, while they move in the East Side set, and New York
is so large that one almost never meets anyone outside one's own set."
This smooth snobbishness, said in the affected "society" tone, was as
out of place in her as rouge and hair dye in a wholesome, honest old
grandmother.

I began to pace the floor. "Can it be," I fretted aloud, "that Joe's
racing round looking for an Episcopalian preacher, when there was a
Methodist at hand?"

"I'm sure he wouldn't bring anything but a Church of England priest,"
Mrs. Ball assured me, loftily. "Why, Miss Ellersly wouldn't think she
was married, if she hadn't a priest of her own church."

My temper got the bit in its teeth. I stopped before her, and fixed
her with an eye that must have had some fire in it. "I'm not marrying
a fool, Mrs. Ball," said I. "You mustn't judge her by her bringing
up--by her family. Children have a way of bringing themselves up, in
spite of damn fool parents."

She weakened so promptly that I was ashamed of myself. My only excuse
for getting out of patience with her is that I had seen her seldom in
the last few years, had forgotten how matter-of-surface her
affectation and snobbery were, and how little they interfered with her
being a good mother and a good wife, up to the limits of her brain
capacity.

"I'm sure, Mr. Blacklock," she said, plaintively, "I only wished to
say what was pleasant and nice about your fiancée. I know she's a
lovely girl. I've often admired her at the opera. She goes a great
deal in Mrs. Langdon's box, and Mrs. Langdon and I are together on the
board of managers of the Magdalene Home, and also on the board of the
Hospital for Unfortunate Gentlefolk." And so on, and on.

I walked up and down among those wrapped-up, ghostly chairs and tables
and cabinets and statues many times before Joe arrived with the
minister--and he was a Methodist, McCabe by name. You should have seen
Mrs. Ball's look as he advanced his portly form and round face with
its shaven upper lip into the drawing room. She tried to be cordial,
but she couldn't--her mind was on Anita, and the horror which would
fill her when she discovered that she was to be married by a preacher
of a sect unknown to fashionable circles.

"All I ask of you," said I, "is that you cut it as short as possible.
Miss Ellersly is tired and nervous." This while we were shaking hands
after Joe's introduction.

"You can count on me, sir," said McCabe, giving my hand an extra shake
before dropping it. "I've no doubt, from what my young neighbor here
tells me, that your marriage is already made in your hearts and with
all solemnity. The form is an incident--important, but only an
incident."

I liked that, and I liked his unaffected way of saying it. His voice
had more of the homely, homelike, rural twang in it than I had heard
in New York in many a day. I mentally added fifty dollars to the fee I
had intended to give him. And now Anita and Alva were coming down the
stairway. I was amazed at sight of her. Her evening dress had given
place to a pretty blue street suit with a short skirt--white showing
at her wrists, at her neck and through slashings in the coat over her
bosom; and on her head was a hat to match. I looked at her feet--the
slippers had been replaced by boots. "And they're just right for her,"
said Alva, who was following my glance, "though I'm not so tall as
she."

But what amazed me most, and delighted me, was that Anita seemed to be
almost in good spirits. It was evident she had formed with Joe's
daughter one of those sudden friendships so great and so vivid that
they rarely live long after the passing of the heat of the emergency
which bred them. Mrs. Ball saw it, also, and was straightway giddied
into a sort of ecstasy. You can imagine the visions it conjured. I've
no doubt she talked house on the east side of the park to Joe that
very night, before she let him sleep. However, Anita's face was
serious enough when we took our places before the minister, with his
little, black-bound book open. And as he read in a voice that was
genuinely impressive those words that no voice could make
unimpressive, I watched her, saw her paleness blanch into pallor, saw
the dusk creep round her eyes until they were like stars waning
somberly before the gray face of dawn. When they closed and her head
began to sway, I steadied her with my arm. And so we stood, I with my
arm round her, she leaning lightly against my shoulder. Her answers
were mere movements of the lips.

At the end, when I kissed her cheek, she said: "Is it over?"

"Yes," McCabe answered--she was looking at him. "And I wish you all
happiness, Mrs. Blacklock."

She stared at him with great wondering eyes. Her form relaxed. I
carried her to a chair. Joe came with a glass of champagne; she drank
some of it, and it brought life back to her face, and some color. With
a naturalness that deceived even me for the moment, she smiled up at
Joe as she handed him the glass. "Is it bad luck," she asked, "for me
to be the first to drink my own health?" And she stood, looking
tranquilly at everyone--except me.

I took McCabe into the hall and paid him off. When we came back, I
said: "Now we must be going."

"Oh, but surely you'll stay for supper!" cried Joe's wife.

"No," replied I, in a tone which made it impossible to insist. "We
appreciate your kindness, but we've imposed on it enough." And I shook
hands with her and with Allie and the minister, and, linking Joe's arm
in mine, made for the door. I gave the necessary directions to my
chauffeur while we were waiting for Anita to come down the steps.
Joe's daughter was close beside her, and they kissed each other
good-by, Alva on the verge of tears, Anita not suggesting any emotion
of any sort. "To-morrow--sure," Anita said to her. And she answered:
"Yes, indeed--as soon as you telephone me." And so we were off, a
shower of rice rattling on the roof of the brougham--the slatternly
manservant had thrown it from the midst of the group of servants.

Neither of us spoke. I watched her face without seeming to do so, and
by the light of occasional street lamps saw her studying me furtively.
At last she said: "I wish to go to my uncle's now."

"We are going home," said I.

"But the house will be shut up," said she, "and everyone will be in
bed. It's nearly midnight. Besides, they might not----" She came to a
full stop.

"We are going home," I repeated. "To the Willoughby."

She gave me a look that was meant to scorch--and it did. But I showed
at the surface no sign of how I was wincing and shrinking.

She drew further into her corner, and out of its darkness came, in a
low voice: "How I _hate_ you!" like the whisper of a bullet.

I kept silent until I had control of myself. Then, as if talking of a
matter which had been finally and amicably settled, I began: "The
apartment isn't exactly ready for us, but Joe's just about now
telephoning my man that we are coming, and telephoning your people to
send your maid down there."

"I wish to go to my uncle's," she repeated.

"My wife will go with me," said I, quietly and gently. "I am
considerate of her, not of _her_ unwise impulses."

A long pause, then from her, in icy calmness: "I am in your power just
now, but I warn you that, if you do not take me to my uncle's, you
will wish you had never seen me."

"I've wished that many times already," said I, sadly. "I've wished it
from the bottom of my heart this whole evening, when step by step fate
has been forcing me on to do things that are even more hateful to me
than to you. For they not only make me hate myself, but make you hate
me, too." I laid my hand on her arm and held it there, though she
tried to draw away. "Anita," I said, "I would do anything for
you--live for you, die for you. But there's that something inside
me--you've felt it--and when it says 'must,' I can't disobey--you know
I can't. And, though you might break my heart, you could not break
that will. It's as much your master as it is mine."

"We shall see--to-morrow," she said.

"Do not put me to the test," I pleaded. Then I added what I knew to be
true: "But you will not. You know it would take some one stronger than
your uncle, stronger than your parents, to drive me from what I
believe right for you and for me." From the moment that I found the
bogy of conventionality potent enough with her to frighten her into
keeping her word and marrying me, I had no fear for "to-morrow." The
hour when she could defy me had passed.

A long, long silence, the electric speeding southward under the
arching trees of the West Drive. I remember it was as we skirted the
lower end of the Mall that she said evenly: "You have made me hate you
so that it terrifies me. I am afraid of the consequences that must
come to you and to me."

"And well you may be," I answered, gently. "For you've seen enough of
me to get at least a hint of what I would do, if you drove me to it.
Hate is terrible, Anita, but love can be more terrible."

At the Willoughby she let me help her descend from the electric,
waited until I sent it away, walked beside me into the building. My
man, Sanders, had evidently been listening for the elevator; the door
opened without my ringing, and there he was, bowing low. She
acknowledged his welcome with that regard for "appearances" which
training had made instinctive. In the center of my--our--drawing-room
table was a mass of gorgeous roses. "Where did you get 'em?" I asked
him, in an aside.

"The elevator boy's brother, sir," he replied, "works in the florist's
shop just across the street, next to the church. He happened to be
downstairs when I got your message, sir. So I was able to get a few
flowers. I'm sorry, sir, I hadn't a little more time."

"You've done noble," said I, and I shook hands with him warmly.

Anita was greeting those flowers as if they were a friend suddenly
appearing in a time of need. She turned now and beamed on Sanders.
"Thank you," she said; "thank you." And Sanders was hers.

"Anything I can do--ma'am--sir?" asked Sanders.

"Nothing--except send my maid as soon as she comes," she replied.

"I shan't need you," said I.

"Mr. Monson is still here," he said, lingering. "Shall I send him
away, sir, or do you wish to see him?"

"I'll speak to him myself in a moment," I answered.

When Sanders was gone, she seated herself and absently played with the
buttons of her glove.

"Shall I bring Monson?" I asked. "You know, he's my--factotum."

"_I_ do not wish to see him," she answered.

"You do not like him?" said I.

After a brief hesitation she answered, "No."

I restrained a strong impulse to ask her why, for instinct told me she
had some especial reason that somehow concerned me. I said merely:
"Then I shall get rid of him."

"Not on my account," she replied, indifferently. "I care nothing about
him one way or the other."

"He goes at the end of his month," said I.

She was now taking off her gloves. "Before your maid comes," I went
on, "let me explain about the apartment. This room and the two leading
out of it are yours. My own suit is on the other side of our private
hall there."

She colored high, paled. I saw that she did not intend to speak.

I stood awkwardly, waiting for something further to come into my own
head. "Good-night," said I, finally, bowing as if I were taking leave
of a formal acquaintance at the end of a formal call.

She did not answer.

I left the room, closing the door behind me. I paused an instant,
heard the key click in the lock. And I burned in a hot flush of
shame--shame that she should have thought so basely of me. For I did
not then realize how far apart we were, and utterly in the dark, each
toward the other. I joined Monson in my little smoking room.
"Congratulate you," he began, with his nasty, supercilious grin, which
of late had been getting on my nerves severely.

"Thanks," I replied, curtly, paying no attention to his outstretched
hand. "I want you to put a notice of the marriage in to-morrow
morning's _Herald_."

"Give me the facts--clergyman's name--place, and so on," said he.

"Unnecessary," I answered. "Just our names and the date--that's all.
You'd better step lively. It's late, and it'll be too late if you
delay."

With an irritating show of deliberation he lit a fresh cigarette
before setting out. I heard her maid come. After about an hour I went
into the hall--no light showed through the transoms of her suit. I
returned to my own part of the flat and went to bed in the spare room
to which Sanders had hastily moved my personal belongings. And almost
as soon as my head touched the pillow I was asleep. That day which
began in disaster--in what a blaze of triumph it had ended! Anita--she
was my wife, and under my roof! But stronger than the sense of victory
won was a new emotion--a sense of a duty done, of a responsibility
begun.


XIV.

Joe got to the office rather later than usual the next morning. They
told him I was already there, but he wouldn't believe it until he had
come into my private den and with his own eyes had seen me. "Well, I'm
jiggered!" said he. "It seems to have made less impression on you than
it did on us. My missus and the little un wouldn't let me go to bed
till after two. They sat on and on, questioning me and discussing."

I laughed--partly because I knew that Joe, like most men, was as full
of gossip and as eager for it as a convalescent old maid, and that,
whoever might have been the first at his house to make the break for
bed, he was the last to leave off talking. But the chief reason for my
laugh was that, just before he came in on me, I was almost pinching
myself to see whether I was dreaming it all, and he had made me feel
how vividly true it was.

"Why don't you ease down, Blacklock?" he went on. "Everything's
smooth. The business--at least, my end of it, and I suppose your end,
too--was never in better shape, never growing so fast. You could go
off for a week or two, just as well as not."

And he honestly thought it, so little did I let him know about the
larger enterprises of Blacklock & Co. I could have spoken a dozen
words, and he would have been floundering like a caught fish in a
basket. There are men--a very few--who work more swiftly and more
surely when they know they're on the brink of ruin; but not Joe. One
glimpse of our real National Coal account, and all my power over him
couldn't have kept him from showing the whole Street that Blacklock &
Co. was shaky. And whenever the Street begins to think a man is shaky,
he must be strong indeed to escape the fate of the wolf that stumbles
as it runs with the pack.

"No holiday at present, Joe," was my reply to his suggestion. "Perhaps
the second week in July; but our marriage was so sudden that we
haven't had the time to get ready for a trip."

"Yes--it _was_ sudden, wasn't it?" said Joe, curiosity twitching his
nose like a dog's at scent of a rat. "How did it happen?"

"Oh, I'll tell you some time," replied I. "I must go to work now."

And work a-plenty there was. Before me rose a huge sheaf of clamorous
telegrams from our out-of-town customers and our agents; and soon my
anteroom was crowded with my local following, sore and shorn. I
suppose a score or more of the habitual heavy plungers on my tips were
ruined and hundreds of others were thousands and tens of thousands out
of pocket. "Do you want me to talk to these people?" inquired Joe,
with the kindly intention of giving me a chance to shift the
unpleasant duty to him.

"Certainly not," said I. "When the place is jammed, let me know. I'll
jack 'em up."

It made Joe uneasy for me even to talk of using my "language"--he
would have crawled from the Battery to Harlem to keep me from using it
on him. So he silently left me alone. My system of dealing face to
face with the speculating and investing public had many great
advantages over that of all the other big operators--the system of
decoying the public from behind cleverly contrived screens and
slaughtering it without showing so much as the tip of a gun or nose
that could be identified. But to my method there was a disadvantage
that made men, who happen to have more hypocrisy and less nerve than
I, shrink from it--when one of my tips miscarried, down upon me would
swoop the bad losers in a body to give me a turbulent and interesting
quarter of an hour.

Toward ten o'clock, my boy came in and said: "Mr. Ball thinks it's
about time for you to see some of these people."

I went into the main room, where the tickers and blackboards were. As
I approached through my outer office I could hear the noise the crowd
was making--as they cursed me. If you want to rile the very inmost
soul of the average human being, don't take his reputation or his
wife; just cause him to lose money. There were among my customers many
with the true, even-tenored sporting instinct. These were bearing
their losses with philosophy--none of them was there. Of the perhaps
three hundred who had come to ease their anguish by tongue-lashing me,
every one was mad through and through--those who had lost a few
hundred dollars as infuriated as those whom my misleading tip had cost
thousands and tens of thousands; those whom I had helped to win all
they had in the world more savage than those new to my following.

I took my stand in the doorway, a step up from the floor of the main
room. I looked all round until I had met each pair of angry eyes. They
say I can give my face an expression that is anything but agreeable;
such talent as I have in that direction I exerted then. The instant I
appeared a silence fell; but I waited until the last pair, of claws
drew in. Then I said, in the quiet tone the army officer uses when he
tells the mob that the machine guns will open up in two minutes by the
watch: "Gentlemen, in the effort to counteract my warning to the
public, the Textile crowd rocketed the stock yesterday. Those who
heeded my warning and sold got excellent prices. Those who did not
should sell to-day. Not even the powerful interests behind Textile can
long maintain yesterday's prices."

A wave of restlessness passed over the crowd. Many shifted their eyes
from me and began to murmur.

I raised my voice slightly as I went on: "The speculators, the
gamblers, are the only people who were hurt. Those who sold what they
didn't have are paying for their folly. I have no sympathy for them.
Blacklock & Co. wishes none such in its following, and seizes every
opportunity to weed them out. We are in business only for the bona
fide investing public, and we are stronger with that public to-day
than we have ever been."

Again I looked from coward to coward of that mob, changed from three
hundred strong to three hundred weak. Then I bowed and withdrew,
leaving them to mutter and disperse. I felt well content with the
trend of events--I who wished to impress the public and the financiers
that I had broken with speculation and speculators, could I have had a
better than this unexpected opportunity sharply to define my new
course? And as Textiles, unsupported, fell toward the close of the
day, my content rose toward my normal high spirits. There was no
whisper in the Street that I was in trouble; on the contrary, the idea
was gaining ground that I had really long ceased to be a stock gambler
and deserved a much better reputation than I had. Reputation is a
matter of diplomacy rather than of desert. In all my career I was
never less entitled to a good reputation than in those June days; yet
the disastrous gambling follies, yes, and worse, I then committed,
formed the secure foundation of my reputation for conservatism and
square dealing. From that time dates the decline of the habit the
newspapers had of speaking of me as "Black Matt" or "Matt" Blacklock.
In them, and therefore in the public mind, I began to figure as "Mr.
Blacklock" and "the well-known authority on finance."

No doubt, my marriage had something to do with this. Probably one
couldn't borrow much money directly in New York on the strength of a
fashionable marriage; but, so all-pervading is the snobbishness there,
one can get, by making a fashionable marriage, any quantity of that
deferential respect from rich people which is, in some circumstances,
easily convertible into cash and credit.

I waited with a good deal of anxiety, as you may imagine, for the
early editions of the afternoon papers. The first article my eye
chanced upon was a mere wordy elaboration of the brief and vague
announcement Monson had put in the _Herald_. Later came an interview
with old Ellersly. "Not at all mysterious," he had said to the
reporters. "Mr. Blacklock found he would have to go abroad on business
soon--he didn't know just when. On the spur of the moment they decided
to marry." A good enough story, and I confirmed it when I admitted the
reporters. I read their estimates of my fortune and of Anita's with
rather bitter amusement--she whose father was living from hand to
mouth; I who could not have emerged from a forced settlement with
enough to enable me to keep a trap. Still, when one is rich, the
reputation of being rich is heavily expensive; but when one is poor
the reputation of being rich can be made a wealth-giving asset.

Even as I was reading these fables of my millions, there lay on the
desk before me a statement of the exact posture of my affairs--a
memorandum made by myself for my own eyes, and to be burned as soon as
I mastered it. On the face of the figures the balance against me was
appalling. My chief asset, indeed my only asset that measured up
toward my debts, was my Coal stocks, those bought and those contracted
for; and, while their par value far exceeded my liabilities, they had
to appear in my memorandum at their actual market value on that day. I
looked at the calendar--seventeen days until the reorganization scheme
would be announced, only seventeen days!

Less than three business weeks, and I should be out of the storm and
sailing safer and smoother seas than I had ever known. "To indulge
_hopes_ is bad," thought I, "but not to indulge _a_ hope, when one has
only it between him and the pit." And I proceeded to plan on the not
unwarranted assumption that my coal hope was a present reality.
Indeed, what alternative had I? To put it among the future's
uncertainties was to put myself among the utterly ruined. Using as
collateral the Coal stocks I had bought outright, I borrowed more
money, and with it went still deeper into the Coal venture.

The morality of these and many of my other doings in those days will
no doubt be severely condemned. By no one more severely than by
myself--now that the necessities which then compelled me have passed.
There is no subject on which men talk, and think, more humbug than on
that subject of morality. As a matter of fact, except in those
personal relations which are governed by the affections, what is
morality but the mandate of policy, and what is policy but the mandate
of necessity? My criticism of Roebuck and the other "high financiers"
is not upon their morality, but upon their policy, which is
shortsighted and stupid and base. The moral difference between me and
them is that, while I merely assert and maintain my right to live,
they deny the right of any but themselves to live. I say I criticise
them; but that does not mean that I sympathize with the public at
large in its complainings against them. The public, its stupidity and
cupidity, creates the conditions that breed and foster these men. A
rotten cheese reviling the maggots it has bred!

In those very hours when I was obeying the great imperative law of
self-preservation, was clutching at every log that floated by me
regardless of whether it was my property or not so long as it would
help me keep my head above water--what was going on all around me? In
every office of the downtown district--merchant, banker, broker,
lawyer, man of commerce or finance--was not every busy brain plotting
not self-preservation but pillage and sack--plotting to increase the
cost of living for the masses of men by slipping a little tax here and
a little tax there onto the cost of everything by which men live? All
along the line between the farm or mine or shop and the market, at
every one of the tollgates for the collection of _just_ charges, these
big financiers, backed up by the big lawyers and the rascally public
officials, had an agent in charge to collect on each passing article a
little more than was honestly due. A thousand subtle ways of levying,
all combining to pour in upon the few the torrents of unjust wealth. I
always laugh when I read of laboring men striking for higher wages.
Poor, ignorant fools--they almost deserve their fate. They had better
be concerning themselves with a huge, universal strike at the polls
for lower prices. What will it avail them to get higher wages, so long
as their masters control and can and will recoup on, the prices of all
the things for which those wages must be spent?

However, as I was saying, I lived in Wall Street, in its atmosphere of
the practical morality of "finance." On every side swindling
operations, great and small; operations regarded as right through
long-established custom, dishonest or doubtful; operations on the way
to becoming established by custom as "respectable." No man's title to
anything conceded unless he had the brains to defend it. There was a
time when it would have been regarded as wildly preposterous and
viciously immoral to deny property rights in human beings. There may
come a time--who knows?--when "high finance's" denial of a moral right
to property of any kind may cease to be regarded as wicked. However, I
attempt no excuses for myself; I need them no more than a judge in the
Dark Ages needed to apologize for ordering a witch to the stake. I
could no more have done differently than a fish could breathe on land
or a man under water. I did as all the others did--and I had the
justification of necessity. Right of might being the code, when men
set upon me with pistols, I meet them with pistols, not with the
discarded and antiquated weapons of sermon and prayer and the law.

And I thought extremely well of myself and of my pistols that June
afternoon, as I was hurrying uptown the moment the day's settlement on
'Change was finished. I had sent out my daily letter to investors, and
its tone of confidence was genuine--I knew that hundreds of customers
of a better class would soon be flocking in to take the places of
those I had been compelled to teach a lesson in the vicissitudes of
gambling. With a light heart and the physical feeling of a football
player in training, I sped toward home. Home! For the first time since
I was a squat little slip of a shaver the word had a personal meaning
for me. Perhaps, if the only other home of mine had been less
uninviting, I should not have looked forward with such high beating of
the heart to that cold home Anita was making for me. No, I withdraw
that. It is fellows like me, to whom kindly looks and unbought
attentions are as unfamiliar as flowers to the Arctic--it is men like
me that appreciate and treasure and warm up under the faintest show or
shadowy suggestion of the sunshine of sentiment. I'd be a little
ashamed to say how much money I handed out to servants and beggars and
street gamins that day. I had a home to go to!

As my electric drew up at the Willoughby, a carriage backed to make
room for it. I recognized the horses and the driver and the crests.
"How long has Mrs. Ellersly been with my wife?" I asked the elevator
boy, as he was taking me up.

"About half an hour, sir," he answered. "But Mr. Ellersly--I took up
his card before lunch, and he's still there."

Instead of using my key, I rang the bell, and when Sanders opened, I
said: "Is Mrs. Blacklock in?" in a voice loud enough to penetrate to
the drawing room.

As I had hoped, Anita appeared. Her dress told me that her trunks had
come--she had sent for her trunks! "Mother and father are here," said
she, without looking at me.

I followed her into the drawing room and, for the benefit of the
servants, Mr. and Mrs. Ellersly and I greeted each other courteously,
though Mrs. Ellersly's eyes and mine met in a glance like the flash of
steel on steel. "We were just going," said she, and then I felt that I
had arrived in the midst of a tempest of uncommon fury.

"You must stop and make me a visit," protested I, with elaborate
politeness. To myself I was assuming that they had come to "make up
and be friends"--and resume their places at the trough.

"I wish we could," she answered, in her best manner. And she was
moving toward the door, the old man in her wake. Neither of them
offered to shake hands with me; neither made pretense of saying
good-by to Anita, standing by the window like a pillar of ice. I had
closed the drawing-room door behind me, as I entered. I was about to
open it for them when I was restrained by what I saw working in the
old woman's face. She had set her will on escaping from my loathed
presence without a "scene"; but her rage at having been outgeneraled
was too fractious for her will.

"You scoundrel!" she hissed, her whole body shaking and her carefully
cultivated appearance of the gracious evening of youth swallowed up in
a black cyclone of hate. "You gutter plant! God will punish you for
the shame you have brought upon us."

I opened the door and bowed, without a word, without even the desire
to return insult for insult--had not Anita again and finally rejected
them and chosen me? As they passed into the private hall I rang for
Sanders to come and let them out. When I turned back into the drawing
room, Anita was seated, was reading a book. I waited until I saw she
was not going to speak. Then I said: "What time will you have dinner?"
But my face must have been expressing some of the joy and gratitude
that filled me. "She has chosen me!" I was saying to myself over and
over.

"Whenever you usually have it," she replied, without looking up.

"At seven o'clock, then. You had better tell Sanders." And I rang for
him and went into my little smoking room. She had resisted her
parents' final appeal to her to return to them. She had cast in her
lot with me. "The rest can be left to time," said I to myself. And,
reviewing all that had happened, I let a wild hope thrust tenacious
roots deep into me--the hope that she did not quite understand her own
mind as to me. How often ignorance is a blessing; how often knowledge
would make the step falter and the heart quail. Who would have the
courage, not to speak of the desire, to live his life, if he knew his
own future?


XV.

During dinner I bore the whole burden of conversation--though burden I
did not find it. Like most of the most reticent men, I am extremely
talkative. Silence sets people to wondering and prying; he hides his
secrets best who hides them at the bottom of a river of words. If my
spirits are high, I often talk aloud to myself when there is no one
convenient. And how could my spirits be anything but high, with her
sitting there opposite me, mine, mine for better or for worse, through
good and evil report--my wife!

She was only formally responsive, reluctant and brief in answers,
volunteering nothing. The servants waiting on us no doubt laid her
manner to shyness; I understood it, or thought I did--but I was not
troubled. It is as natural for me to hope as to breathe; and with my
knowledge of character, how could I take seriously the moods and
impulses of one whom I regarded as a childlike girl, trained in false
pride and false ideals? "She has chosen to stay with me," said I to
myself. "Actions count, not words or manner. A few days or weeks, and
she will be herself, and mine." And I went gayly on with my efforts to
interest her, to make her smile and forget the rôle she had commanded
herself to play. Nor was I wholly unsuccessful. Again and again I
thought I saw a gleam of interest in her eyes or the beginnings of a
smile about that sweet mouth of hers. I was careful not to overdo my
part. As soon as we finished dessert I said: "You loathe cigar smoke,
so I'll hide myself in my den. Sanders will bring you the cigarettes."
I had myself telephoned for a supply of her kind early in the day.

She made a polite protest for the benefit of the servants; but I was
firm, and she was free to think things over alone in the drawing
room--"your sitting room," I called it now. I had not finished a small
cigar when there came a timid knock at my door. I threw away the cigar
and opened. "I thought it was you," said I. "I'm familiar with the
knocks of all the others. And this was new--like a summer wind tapping
with a flower for admission at a closed window." And I laughed with a
little raillery, and she smiled, colored, tried to seem cold and
hostile again.

"Shall I go with you to your sitting room?" I went on. "Perhaps the
cigar smoke here----"

"No, no," she interrupted; "I don't really mind cigars--and the
windows are wide open. Besides, I came for only a moment--just to
say----"

As she cast about for words to carry her on, I drew up a chair for
her. She looked at it uncertainly, seated herself. "When mamma was
here--this afternoon," she went on, "she was urging me to--to do what
she wished. And after she had used several arguments, without changing
me--she said something I--I've been thinking it over, and it seemed I
ought in fairness to tell you."

I waited.

"She said: 'In a few days more he'--that meant you--'he will be
ruined. He imagines the worst is over for him, when in fact they've
only begun.'"

"They!" I repeated. "Who are 'they'? The Langdons?"

"I think so," she replied, with an effort. "She did not say--I've told
you her exact words--as far as I can."

"Well," said I, "and why didn't you go?"

She pressed her lips firmly together. Finally, with a straight look
into my eyes, she replied: "I shall not discuss that. You probably
misunderstand, but that is your own affair."

"You believed what she said about me, of course," said I.

"I neither believed nor disbelieved," she answered, indifferently, as
she rose to go. "It does not interest me."

"Come here," said I. And I waited until she reluctantly joined me at
the window. I pointed to the steeple of the church across the way.
"You could as easily throw down that steeple by pushing against it
with your bare hands," I said to her, "as 'they,' whoever they are,
could put me down. They might take away my money. But if they did,
they would only be giving me a lesson that would teach me how more
easily to get it back again. I am not a bundle of stock certificates
or a bag of money. I am--here," and I tapped my forehead.

She forced a faint, scornful smile. She did not wish me to see her
belief of what I said.

"You think that is vanity," I went on. "But you will learn, sooner or
later, the difference between boasting and simple statement of fact.
You will learn that I do not boast. What I said is no more a boast
than for a man with legs to say, 'I can walk.' Because you have known
only legless men, you exaggerate the difficulty of walking. It's as
easy for me to make money as it is for some people to spend it."

It is hardly necessary for me to say I was not insinuating anything
against her people. But she was just then supersensitive on the
subject, though I did not suspect it. She flushed hotly. "You will not
have any cause to sneer at my people on that account hereafter," she
said. "I settled _that_ to-day."

"I was not sneering at them," I protested. "I wasn't even thinking of
them. And--you must know that it's a favor to me for anybody to ask me
to do anything that will please you."

She made a gesture of impatience. "I see I'd better tell you why--part
of the reason why--I did not go with them to-day. I insisted that they
give back all they have taken from you. And when they refused, I
refused to go."

"I don't care why you refused," said I. "I am content with the fact
that you are here."

"But you misunderstand it," she said, coldly.

"I don't understand it, I don't misunderstand it," was my reply. "I
accept it."

She looked depressed, discouraged. She turned away from the window,
drifted out of the room. While the surface of my mind was taken up
with her, I must have been thinking, underneath, of the warning she
had brought; for, perhaps half or three-quarters of an hour after she
left, I was suddenly whirled out of my reverie at the window by a
thought like a pistol thrust into my face. "What if 'they' should
include Roebuck!" And just as a man begins to defend himself from a
sudden danger before he clearly sees what the danger is, so I began to
act before I even questioned whether my suspicion was plausible or
absurd. I went into the hall, rang the bell, slipped a lightweight
coat over my evening dress and put on a hat. When Sanders appeared, I
said: "I'm going out for a few minutes--perhaps an hour--if anyone
should ask." A moment later I was in a hansom and on the way to
Roebuck's.


TO BE CONTINUED.



THE WINDOW


  This is the window where, one day,
    I watched him as he came,
  When all the world was white with May,
    And vibrant with his name.

  His eyes to mine, my eyes to his--
    Oh lad, how glad were we,
  What time I leaned to catch the kiss
    Your fingers tossed to me!

  This is the window where, one day,
    I crouched to see him go,
  When all the world with wrath was gray
    And desolate with snow.

  Oh, this the glass where prophet-wise
    My fate I needs must spell;
  Through this I looked on Paradise,
    Through this I looked on Hell.

                               THEODOSIA GARRISON.



AMERICANS IN LONDON

By LADY WILLSHIRE

    The author of the following essay on "Americans in London" is
    one of the most distinguished of the leaders of English Society.
    She is the daughter of Sir Sanford Freeling, who was for a time
    military secretary at Gibraltar. Her husband, Sir Arthur
    Willshire, was an officer in the Guards. Lady Willshire, in
    addition to her social activities, is, without ostentation, a
    woman whose charities occupy a large part of her time. In
    appearance she is over middle height, rather fragile, with great
    charm of manner. She is an accomplished musician and linguist.
    Her favorite recreations are riding, driving and bicycling, and
    she is looked upon as the best dancer in London Society.


I can well remember the time when I could easily reckon up the whole
list of my American acquaintances resident in London on the fingers of
one hand, and most of those were the wives of English husbands.

That was certainly not more than ten years ago, and then the majority
of Americans that one chanced to meet in England were travelers, who
knew very little of, and cared less apparently to see or take part in,
the doings of our London society.

In ten years, however, amazing changes can and do take place,
especially where the natives of the States are concerned, and nowadays
I find that not only does it require a great many leaves in my
capacious address book to hold the names of the Americans--and the
women most particularly--who live and move and have a large part of
their social being in London, but that a very impressive majority of
these attractive and prominent ladies are not the life partners of
voting, title-holding British subjects at all.

The good work accomplished both ways by the international marriage
goes merrily on. At the present moment we can claim not less than
twenty-five peeresses of transatlantic birth, while we don't pretend
to keep anything like an exact record of the ever-increasing
acquisitions, from American sources, to our gentry class; but, for all
that, the present big average of American women who come across the
ocean to conduct a successful siege of London no longer regard the
English husband as a sort of necessary preliminary and essential ally
to the business of getting on in our smart metropolitan society.

The fair and welcome invader from the land of the free and the home of
the brave can, and does, "arrive" astonishingly well without masculine
assistance and encouragement.

She may appear as maid, wife or widow; sometimes as divorcee; but,
personally, she conducts her own campaign. Furthermore, she comes
fully equipped to carry everything before her--she has wit, wealth and
good looks at her command, and she works along approved and sensible
lines of action.

If she has a thoroughgoing conquest of London planned out, she does
not put up at a fashionable hotel and spread her fine plumage and wait
for notice.

She usually begins by taking a house; she furnishes it with original
but discreet good taste; she wears startlingly pretty gowns--quite the
best, as a rule, that Paris can supply; she gives the most taking
sorts of entertainments, and the ordinary result is that in one season
she is not only launched and talked about, but securely placed and
greatly admired.

And if you want to know why she does this thing, the answer you can
get, as I did, from her own mouth; she simply "likes London and London
society."

As an amiable, broad-minded woman, she does not love her own country
so much that she cannot find a place in her heart for London, too, and
that which chiefly appeals to her in our elderly, sprawling, sooty,
amusing and splendid old capital is the fact that she finds it
interesting.

There you have one explanation, at least, of the apparent phenomenon
of the ever-growing circle of American women in the very heart of our
biggest city. But it becomes a Londoner to confess that another good
reason why she is so familiar and conspicuous a figure among us is
because we reciprocate her liking with the strongest possible warmth
of admiration.

Not only do we regard our American colony with genuine enthusiasm, and
take pride and pleasure in the fact that it is the largest of its kind
in any European capital, but social London pleasantly feels its
influence.

Now, influence is one of those qualities that the American woman
carries about with her just as naturally as she carries her pretty
airs of independence, or her capacity for easy and amusing speech, and
it is a sad mistake for anyone to take it for granted that on her
wealth or her pulchritude alone all her claim to success and
popularity in England rests.

In no way that I know of has her influence been more sensibly and
beneficially felt among us than in the introduction of a quick,
vivacious tone to conversation.

Her gift for light, easy, semi-humorous talk, her gay, self-confident
way of telling a good story, constitute her a leading and most lasting
attraction in English estimation. From her the English woman has
learned, first, that which it seems every transatlantic sister is
aware by intuition, that one supreme duty of the sex, as it is
represented in society, is to know how to talk a little to everybody,
to talk always in sprightly fashion, and never to adopt the English
woman's depressing method of answering all conversational efforts and
overtures with chilling monosyllables.

It is no exaggeration to say that since the tremendous enlargement of
the American colony, the whole pace of London drawing-room talk has
enormously improved. We British are not by nature a sprightly and
speechful race, with the gift of gay gab, but under the American
woman's cheerful influence we are enjoying a sort of reformation.

We send our daughters even to a fashionable school in fashionable
Kensington, which is kept by a long-headed American woman, who will very
nearly guarantee to bid a door post discourse freely and be obeyed. And
the women to whom first honors are due for having inspired London with
a wholesome respect for what I may justly call the very superior
American parts of speech, are Mrs. George Cornwallis-West--perhaps
better known on both sides of the ocean as Lady Randolph
Churchill--and Consuelo, the Dowager Duchess of Manchester.

It would be a superfluous and ungrateful task to try to recall the
number of years that have flown since these two women, unusually
attractive as they are, even for Americans, came over to literally
take London by storm.

Suffice it to say that, as Shakespeare wrote of Cleopatra, "age cannot
wither nor custom stale her infinite variety;" and in spite of the
amazing influx of their young and lovely and accomplished countrywomen
into London since their day of arrival, these two ladies still stand,
as they have stood for years, at the very top of the entire American
set abroad.

Both of them, by marriage or through years of long association, have
become thoroughly identified with English society, but, unlike Lady
Vernon-Harcourt, widow of the great leader of the Liberal party, and
daughter of the famous historian Motley, they have never lost their
strong American individuality.

Lady Vernon-Harcourt, to sight and hearing, seems almost a typical and
thoroughgoing English woman, but Mrs. George Cornwallis-West and the
Duchess Consuelo are, to all intents and purposes, as distinctly
American as the day on which they were presented as brides and
beauties at one of Queen Victoria's drawing-rooms.

Then, as well as now, they were both fair to look upon, but they were
also something more--they were the cleverest of talkers, and the
beautiful Consuelo, in her soft, Southern voice, possessed a faculty
for quaint and witty turns of phrase that made her an instant
favorite.

At the time of her début, London had yet to meet the American woman
who could not only chatter along cheerfully and intelligently, but who
could artfully and unembarrassedly tell an amusing story before the
big and critical audience that the average dinner table supplies. Our
fair Creole and the fair New Yorker were, however, more than equal to
all and any such emergencies and occasions.

It was with their capable tongues, quite as much as with their
charming faces, that they scored their social triumphs in England, and
it was mainly through their beguiling conversational powers that they
both caught the attention of the present king and queen--at that time
Prince and Princess of Wales--and aroused royalty's prompt and lasting
admiration.

Until that time no American could boast the fact that she was the
friend of the queen, prince or princess, but the young duchess and
Lady Randolph Churchill changed all that. They were the first of their
nation to be asked to the Sandringham house parties, to be included in
the lists of guests invited to meet royal folk at dinners, etc., and
to inspire in the present king and queen the thoroughgoing liking they
now cherish for American things in general and the American woman in
particular.

A good deal of brown Thames water has flowed under London Bridge, it
is true, since these exponents of two entirely different types of
American womanhood came over to astonish even our _blasé_ society, but
no two of their sex and nation have succeeded in making a more deep
and lasting impression upon London than these, or have done more to
insure the social success of their countrywomen who followed in their
footsteps.

Consuelo, the duchess, is a grandmother to-day, but she is almost as
prominent a figure in the gay world as she ever was; unlike Mrs.
George Cornwallis-West, she never went in, so to speak, for political
prestige. She has cared for social gayety pure and simple, preserved
much of her beauty, maintained her reputation as the most delightful
house-party guest in England, and is noted nowadays as being, as well,
the most skillful, tactful and serenely polite bridge-whist partner in
the United Kingdom.

When, a few months ago, a house-party for royalty was given at
Chatsworth by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, it was at the urgent
request of both the king and queen that the Dowager Duchess of
Manchester came over from Paris to spend a few days under the same
roof with their majesties, whose affection for this low-voiced,
sweet-tempered, witty American woman has never wavered. Every now and
then one hears anew in London drawing rooms of some amusing saying of
hers, for she is as gracious and graceful a conversationalist as of
yore, and with three young and blooming American duchesses to rival
her, still stands well apart from and ahead of them all, at least so
far as the homage of our smart and titled society can be accepted as
proof of a woman's position.

Of all the three young duchesses, I think her youthful Grace of
Marlborough is far and away the most distinctly popular and
influential. She has conquered even the most indifferent and the most
prejudiced, by an exquisitely charming sweetness of manner that is
quite irresistible.

She does not possess what a Frenchman would call the _vif_ style of
her average countrywomen, and she is not a very vigorous talker, but
she is wonderfully sympathetic and attractive of manner; her porcelain
fine, aristocratic prettiness makes her a distinguished figure
wherever she goes, and from the first she presided at the head of her
vast establishment, and took her rightful position in England with a
natural dignity and a complete grasp of the situation that literally
took the breath away from the rather skeptical British onlooker.

There is a story told, _sub rosa_, of the discomfiture of a high-nosed
and rather too helpful aristocratic matron and relative, who, on the
arrival of her shy looking, slim young Grace, undertook to set her
right and well beforehand on points of etiquette, ducal duty and
responsibilities, etc.

Nobody knows to this day just what passed between the fair girl and
the stately matron, but the duchess was not very much bothered with
unnecessary advice after one short interview with her rather officious
social fairy-godmother. And if the duchess was not ready to take
advice, it was simply because she did not need it. When she gave her
first great house party at Blenheim, it rather outrivaled in splendor
anything of the sort done in England in a long time, and her chief
guests were royalties; nevertheless, there was not a hitch or a
mistake in all the elaborate proceedings; and a critical peer, who
enjoyed the magnificent hospitality of the Marlboroughs, was heard to
remark afterward that to be born an American millionairess is to
apparently know by instinct all that has to be taught from childhood
to a native English duchess.

That Her Grace of Marlborough has a natural taste for splendid
surroundings is shown by her fondness for big Blenheim and the
marvelous luxury she has introduced into every part of that vast
mansion; and when her indulgent father offered to buy for her a house
in London, she imposed but two guiding conditions on his choice for
her of a home in town.

"I want the biggest house on the most fashionable street," she is said
to have said. The result was that Mr. Vanderbilt purchased Sunderland
House, in Curzon Street, and there the duchess is fittingly installed.

There the most sumptuous decorating and furnishing has been done, and
when she entertains, her dinners will be the most splendid and her
balls the largest and most luxurious of the season, for whatever the
duchess does is done in almost regal style.

Eventually no London hostess can or will outshine her, and yet this
first among the American duchesses is not very socially inclined. She
prefers the country life and Blenheim to the best that London can give
her, and this taste is to a great measure shared by many of our
American peeresses and guests.

The Countess of Orford, Lady Monson, the Countess of Donoughmore, Mrs.
Spender Clay, Lady Charles Ross and Mrs. Langhorne Shaw, for example,
find English country life pre-eminently to their taste, and all but
avoid the town, save in the very height of the season.

Lady Orford--who was Miss Corbin--lives at Waborne Hall, her husband's
magnificent Georgian place in Norfolk. There she gives shooting
parties, from there she goes with her husband and pretty young
daughter to fish in Scotland and Norway, and the chief interest that
brings her up to London is her taste for music and the opera, which,
she declares, is the only pleasure that one cannot gratify out of
town.

Next after music, sport--fishing most especially--engages her
particular interest. Though she rarely goes out with the guns, her
husband declares she is a capital shot, and that she could and would
ride to hounds with the most daring of our fox-hunting peeresses, if
Norfolk was a hunting shire.

Prominent, however, among the hunting set is the handsome Countess of
Donoughmore, whose father, the American millionaire Grace, owns Battle
Abbey, and has made England his home for many years. His slender,
pretty daughter, who was Miss Eleana Grace before she married an Irish
earl, rode to hounds from her days of floating locks and short skirts.

Now, as a fair and fashionable peeress, she hunts Ireland and England
both with all the zest and skill of a native-born Irish woman. Her
keenest American competitor, in the art of hard cross-country riding,
is a young and beautiful Virginian, Mrs. Langhorne-Shaw, who comes
over every year to hunt, and for no other purpose.

In spite of all her youth and beauty and charm, this fair
sister-in-law of the famous American artist, Charles Dana Gibson,
scarcely makes an appearance in London at all. She arrives in England
at the season when the scent is best and the hounds at their briskest,
and, American-wise, she takes a house in the very heart of the hunting
district.

Sometimes she brings over her own string of horses from her native
State, for she is a judge of sound and capable animals; and she has
done more than any other one of her sex and race to prove that the
American-built riding habit is a capital garment, and that when she is
well mounted and in the field there are few in England who can surpass
an American woman at hard and intelligent riding.

Lady Monson, though less of a sportswoman than Lady Donoughmore or
Mrs. Langhorne-Shaw, is, if anything, more devoted to country life in
England than either, for a very great part of every year she spends,
by preference, at her husband's beautiful home, "Barton Hall," and
there she entertains not only extensively and luxuriously, but chiefly
the diplomats, domestic and foreign.

This capacity for gathering about her quite the most interesting among
notable men has made her house parties rather famous in an enviable
way, and has given Lady Monson a marked reputation as a hostess. Her
husband is the nephew of Sir Edmund Monson, the well-known ambassador
to France, and Lady Monson is herself a famous beauty. Before her
first marriage, to a wealthy New Yorker, she was Miss Romaine Stone,
and celebrated in London, Newport and New York for a uniquely delicate
loveliness of face and form.

Her beauty was, indeed, as widely talked about and ardently admired in
London as was that of Lady Naylor Leyland some years ago, or as we now
very enthusiastically discuss the charming features of Mrs. Sam
Chauncey or Lady Ross, who are prominent members of the younger
American colony.

Both of the last-mentioned fair women hail from the State of
Kentucky--Lady Ross was Miss Patricia Ellison, of Louisville, and Mrs.
Chauncey belongs to the ever-growing class of American women who have
created a deep impression on London society by making the very most of
some particular talent or taste or feature.

Society in these days, like the professions of war, law or medicine,
is in the hands of the specialists; and I think that the American
women who came over to carve out their own social way saw this
opportunity at once and have developed it in a quite remarkable
fashion.

The arbiters of social place are not handing out any of the big prizes
to the women who are just agreeable in a commonplace style. Do the
striking thing in London, and do it well, is the rule for success at
this time, and the energetic, quickly perceiving American woman loses
not a week nor a day after her arrival in proving to us that she is a
definite person indeed.

London society is made up of as many as ten different sets, all
independent and powerful, each one in its own way, and the skill of
the woman from New York or Chicago is displayed by her promptness in
deciding on just the set into which she prefers to enter.

Mrs. Bradley Martin, Lady Deerhurst, Lady Bagot; Cora, Lady
Strafford--now known by her new married title as Mrs. Kennard--Lady
Newborough and a score of others one could mention, are to be included
among the Americans who have devoted their talents entirely to the
conquering of the smartest of smart sets. Most of these have married
titles, it is true, but titles are not essential, after all, where
natural social gifts are possessed; Mrs. Sam Chauncey, for instance,
is a case in point.

Mrs. Chauncey is an American widow and a beauty, with a most agreeable
manner and lively intelligence; she presides in a bewitching bijou of
a little house in Hertford Street, and drives one of the smartest
miniature victorias that appear in the park. But London's first and
most striking impression concerning this delightful acquisition from
the States was derived from her wonderful and lovely gowns--her French
frocks are, for taste and becomingness, quite paralyzing to even a
breath of criticism, and from the first moment of her début in London
they excited only the most whole-souled enthusiasm in the hearts of
all beholders of both sexes.

To say that she is rather particularly famous as the best dressed
woman in our great city is, perhaps, to make a pretty strong
assertion, in the face of very serious competition offered by women
notable for the perfection of their wardrobe, but this claim really
stands on good grounds. Even among her compatriots, she seems always
astonishingly well gowned, and really, if we are going to honestly
give honor where honor is due, we must put natural pride and sentiment
aside and agree that the presence of the American woman in London has
had a marked and salutary influence on the whole dress problem as
English women look at it.

Not to mince matters, we may as well confess that _les Americaines_ do
gown themselves with superlative taste. Our peeresses and visitors
from the States know what to wear and how to wear it; they show so
much tact in their choice of colors, they put on their gay gowns and
hats with such a completeness of touch, and display so much instinct
for style in the choice and use of small etceteras, that it is idle to
say we English have not been compelled to notice and admire.

If imitation is truly the sincerest flattery, as some ancient wiseacre
said years ago, then there is pretty clear evidence daily afforded to
prove that we are complimenting our American sisters by slowly
adopting their ideas of dress.

More and more each season does Paris send us the sort of gown and
hatpin, belt and handkerchief and hair ornament, that goes to New
York, and more and more is the saying, "She dresses quite like an
American woman," accepted as a kindly comment, wherever it is offered.

A general impression, also, is prevailing to the effect that one
reason why our American cousins wear their fine frocks with such good
results is because they hold their heads high and their backs flat and
straight. There is even now, in London, a vastly popular _corsetière_
who does not hesitate to recommend herself as the only artiste in town
who can persuade any form, stout or lean, to assume at once the exact
outlines of the admired American figure.

The Duchess of Roxburghe, Mrs. Kennard and the Countess of Suffolk are
all very fair examples, in our eyes, of the high perfection of line to
which the feminine form divine can and does attain in America; for all
these women hold themselves with the most superlative grace, wear
gowns that would make Solomon in all his glory feel envious, and help
to maintain the now fixed belief in England that all Americans are
tall, straight, slender and born with a capacity for wearing diamond
tiaras with as much ease as straw hats.

It would not be fair, though, to lay too much of the social success of
King Edward's fair new subjects and visitors wholly at their wardrobe
doors, for the two most influential and prominent American women just
now in London are neither of them titled, nor do they place too much
stress on the gorgeousness of their frocks and frills.

Both Mrs. Arthur Paget--who was Miss Minnie Stevens, of New York--and
Mrs. Ronalds are listed everywhere among the most popular of our
hostesses, and Mrs. Ronalds, especially, is a distinct power in the
musical world. Scarcely a famous artist comes to town but sooner or
later he hears, to his advantage, of this wealthy American.

Her red and white music room--by far the most artistic and completely
equipped private salon of its kind in London--has sheltered
distinguished companies of the very fashionable and intellectual
English music lovers; she has made her Sunday afternoons of something
more than mere frivolous importance, and won for them, indeed, a
decided and enviable celebrity, for Mrs. Ronalds is one of those
American women who possess a genius for hospitality.

Mrs. Paget, it is true, takes due rank in the same category, and both
these women have all the truly American tastes for featuring their
entertainments most delightfully. To continue in the commonplace round
of quite conventional functions, as approved by society, is not to be
borne by these energetic and novelty-loving ladies, and a dinner, a
supper party or a dance at Mrs. Paget's is sure to develop some
unexpected and charming phase.

It is to Mrs. Paget, for example, that we are indebted for the
introduction of that purely American festivity, "The Ladies'
Luncheon." "The Ladies' Luncheon" is now quite acclimatized here; we
have accepted it as we have also accepted "The Ladies' Dinner-party,"
which was wholly unknown previous to the American invasion. Whether
Mrs. Paget was instrumental or not in making for the last-mentioned
form of entertainment a place among our conservative hostesses is not
quite proven, but it is safe to say that this tall, vivacious,
energetic lady, who skates as well as she dances, golfs and drives a
motor car, carries almost more social power in her small right hand
than any other untitled woman in London.

She is heartily admired by our present king and queen, who find in her
sparkling talk very much the same mental stimulus that one derives
from the Duchess Consuelo's gay epigrams, and, above everything else,
the court and its circle of society reverence the charms of the woman
whose brain bubbles over with ideas.

If a dance, a dinner, a bazaar or a picnic is on foot, Mrs. Paget can
map out and put through the enterprise with amazing skill and
readiness, and she shows all the American's shrewd business instinct
for profitably pleasing a ticket-purchasing public when a charity fund
must be swelled or a hospital assisted.

With her vigor, high spirits and infinite variety of charm, she is
enormously sought after and courted and fêted, but it is noticeable,
and none the less admirable, in English eyes, that the American woman
established in a foreign land rarely or never fails in either her
admiration or her affection for her country across the sea.

At the time of the Spanish-American War, this extreme loyalty to their
native home and the land of their birth was made evident in not one
but a dozen ways that never escaped the notice of English eyes.
Expatriated though in a measure she is, the Anglicized American woman
scarcely ever loses her sense of pride and profound satisfaction in
being an American, after all, and so strong is this feeling in these
delightful women that it is accepted quite as a matter of course, both
by them and by their English friends, that their sons should
frequently go back to the mothers' land in order to find their wives.

Two notable instances of the son's love for his mother's country and
his instinctive interest in her countrywomen have been supplied in the
marriages of the young Duke of Manchester and the son of Sir William
and Lady Vernon-Harcourt.

It seems scarcely more than natural that Mr. Lewis Vernon-Harcourt
should marry pretty Miss Burns, of New York, though, through his
mother as well as his father, all his interests and sympathies are
naturally centered in England.

Yet it is safe to say that when the average Englishman marries an
American he does not feel in the least as though he was marrying, so
to speak, outside the family circle.

The marvelous adaptability of the American woman robs the situation of
any difficulty, and in no way, so far, has the American wife of the
Englishman showed more astonishing adaptability than in the cordial
interest with which she often identifies herself with her husband's
political interests, if he is in Parliament.

Three of the keenest politicians in petticoats that England possesses
are American women by birth; and the first and leading spirit among
them is the American wife of Mr. Chamberlain.

Mrs. Chamberlain cares little or nothing for society, and beyond the
obligatory functions at which she has been obliged to preside or
attend, she shows small taste for the frivolities of that special
world of men and women where the main task and occupation of every day
is to amuse one's self. But in the affairs of state she feels a very
burning interest indeed.

She is one of the two women in the British empire who are admitted by
men to understand the mysterious and, to the average feminine mind,
inexplicable fiscal problem; she knows all about tariff reform; she is
her husband's first secretary, confidante and adviser; she is said to
be the most discreet lady in speech, where her husband's political
interests are concerned, and when he speaks in public Mrs. Chamberlain
sits so near to him that, in case of a lapse of memory, she can play
the part of stage prompter.

Every one of his speeches she commits to memory, and can, therefore,
give him any missing word at any critical moment, and in this way she
is even more helpful than the capable and intellectual Lady
Vernon-Harcourt was to her distinguished husband.

There is still a third American woman to whose abilities her English
husband is deeply indebted. This is Lady Curzon, who has very clearly
defined diplomatic gifts, who is naturally highly ambitious, and who
has, in her zeal to help her husband, learned to speak more East
Indian dialects and Oriental tongues than any white woman in India.

Fourth, perhaps, of this list should be mentioned Lady Cheylesmore,
who was in her girlhood, spent at Newport and New York, so well known
and admired, especially for her wonderful red hair, which Whistler
loved to paint.

Lady Cheylesmore was Miss Elizabeth French in those days, and now she
is proud to be known as the wife of the mayor of Westminster, for her
husband has lately been chosen for that very dignified position. As
one of London's lady mayoresses, she will dispense delightful
hospitality in her handsome house in Upper Grosvenor Street, which is
famous for its three wonderful drawing rooms, decorated by the
Brothers Adam, and regarded by connoisseurs as one of the most perfect
examples of their art and taste.

At her dinner parties Lady Cheylesmore entertains many politicians of
note, and in one way or another, by her infinite tact and good sense,
does much to aid and abet her husband's well-known aspirations to a
brilliant parliamentary place.

She is one of the ardently ambitious American women of whose very real
and deserved triumphs we hear so much artistically as well as
socially, these days. And let it be said here and now, to London's
credit, that there is no city in the world that gives to its resident
daughters of Uncle Sam a heartier measure of praise and encouragement
in all their accomplishments.

We may, some of us, cherish high tariff principles and believe in
restricting the immigration. None of us, however, is ready to vote for
any measures that will bar out or discourage one class of fair and
accomplished aliens who cross the ocean bent on conquering London, and
who in the end are so often conquered in turn by London's charm, and
who settle down to form an element in our society that is fast
becoming as familiar and as welcome as it is admirable and
indispensable.



THE BLOOD OF BLINK BONNY

By MARTHA MCCULLOCH-WILLIAMS


Miss Allys Rhett stood upon the clubhouse lawn, a vision in filmy
white, smiling her softest, most enchanting smile. There was a reason
for the smile--a reason strictly feminine, yet doubly masculine. She
had walked down the steps that led from the _piazza_ betwixt Rich
Hilary and Jack Adair, the catches of the season, in full view of the
Hammond girl, who was left to waste her sweetness upon prosy old Van
Ammerer.

The Hammond girl had been rather nasty all summer--she was, moreover,
well known to be in hot pursuit of Rich Hilary. Until Allys came on
the scene it had seemed the pursuit must be successful. They had gone
abroad on the same steamer the year before, dawdled through a London
season, and come home simultaneously--he rather bored and languid, she
of a demure and downcast, but withal possessive, air. She had said
they were not engaged--"oh, dear no, only excellent friends," but
looking all the while a contradiction of the words. Then unwisely she
had taken Hilary to that tiresome tea for the little Rhett girl--and
behold! the mischief was done.

The little Rhett girl was not little; instead, she was divinely tall,
and lithe as a young ash. No child, either. What with inclination and
mother-wisdom, her coming out had waited for her to find herself. At
nineteen she had found herself--a woman, well poised and charming as
she was beautiful. Notwithstanding Hilary had not instantly
surrendered--horse, foot and dragoons. Rather he had held out for
terms--the full honors of war, as became a man rising thirty, and
prospective heir to more millions than he well knew what to do with.

Two or three of the millions had taken shape in the Bay Park, the
newest and finest of metropolitan courses. Hilary's father, a power
alike on the turf and in the street, had built it, and controlled it
absolutely--of course through the figment of an obedient jockey club.
A trace of sentiment, conjoined to a deal of pride, had made him
revive an old-time stake--the Far and Near. It dated back to that
limbo of racing things--"before the war." Banker Hilary's grandfather,
a leader among gentlemen horsemen of that good day, had been of those
who instituted it--a fact upon which no turf scribe had failed to
dilate when telling the glories of the course. The event was, of
course, set down a classic--as well it might be, all things
considered. The founders had framed it so liberally as to admit the
best in training--hence the name. The refounders made conditions
something narrower, but offset that by quadrupling the value.

This was Far and Near day--with a record crowd, and hot, bright summer
weather. The track was well known to be lightning fast, and the entry
list was so big and puzzling that the Far and Near might well prove
anybody's race. There were favorites, of course, also rank outsiders.
One heard their names everywhere in the massed throng that had
overflowed the big stand, the lawn, the free field, and broken in
human waves upon the green velvet of the infield. This by President
Hilary's own order. He had come to the track early, and looked to
everything--with a result that there was no trouble anywhere.

The crowd had been gayly demonstrative through the first two races. It
had watched the third in tense silence--except that moiety of it
ebbing and flowing through the clubhouse. It was the silence of edged
patience. Albeit the early races were fair betting propositions, the
most of those who watched them had come to lay wagers on some Far and
Near candidate--and the Far and Near candidates had been getting their
preliminaries.

They numbered just nineteen. Seventeen had been out when Allys and her
squires stopped under the shade of a tree. Notwithstanding the shadow,
she put up her white parasol, tilting it at just the angle to make it
throw her head and shoulders in high relief. Adair glanced at her,
caught a hard breath, nipped it, then looked steadily down the course
a minute.

Hilary smiled--a smile that got no further than the corners of his red
lips--his eyes, indeed, gloomed the more for it--then turned upon
Allys with: "Pick the winner for us, won't you? You are so delightful
feminine you know nothing of horses, therefore ought to bring us luck.
Say, now, what shall we back?"

"It depends," Allys said, twirling her parasol ever so lightly. "Do
you want to lose? Or do you really care to win?"

"To win, please, O oracle, if it's all the same to you," Hilary said,
supplication in his voice, although his eyes danced.

Allys gave him a long look. "Then you must take Heathflower," she
said. "I have the Wickliffe boy's word for it--he wrote me only
yesterday: 'Miss Allys, if you want to get wealthy, bet all your real
money on that Heathflower thing.'"

"H'm! Who is the Wickliffe boy? Tell us that before we play his tip,"
Adair demanded. Hilary could not speak for laughing.

Allys smiled entrancingly. "The Wickliffe boy--is a knight-errant born
out of time," she said. "I'm wondering if it will last. We came to
know him last summer--mother and I--down at Hollymount, my uncle's
place in Virginia. The Wickliffe boy, Billy by name, lives at
Lyonesse, which is Hollymount's next neighbor. It belongs to Billy's
uncle, the dearest old bachelor--maybe that is the reason the boy has
such reverence for womankind. I don't know which he comes nearest
worshiping--women or horses. Whenever we rode out--he was my steadfast
gallant--he managed somehow to pass through or by or around Haw Bush,
where the Heathflower thing was bred. Old Major Mediwether, her owner,
is Billy's best chum. They match beautifully--though the major is
nearly eighty, and Billy just my age--rising nineteen."

"They must have made it interesting for you. I'm sure you couldn't
tell half so much about either of us," Adair said, with a deeply
injured air.

Allys shook her head at him. "They are dears," she said, emphatically.
"And they taught me a lot I should never have known--about horses and
men."

"Anything specific--as about the Heathflower thing?" Hilary asked,
affecting to speak with awe.

Allys nodded. "A heap," she said. "I can hear Billy now, as we watched
her on the training track, saying: 'She hasn't got any looks--but legs
are better for winnin'. And she must win; she's bound to--whenever she
feels like it, and the track and the weights suit her. She can't help
it--she's got eight full crosses of Blink Bonny blood.'"

"Blink Bonny! H'm! Who was he? What did he do?" Hilary asked.

Allys looked at him severely. "'He' happens to have been 'she,'" she
said. "As for the doing, it was only winning the Derby, with the Oaks
right on top of it. Mighty few mares have ever done that--as you would
know if you had grown up in Virginia, with time to know everything.
Billy does know everything about pedigrees--he can reel them off at
least a hundred years back. Remember, now, I'm strictly quoting him:
'Blink Bonny is really ancient history--she won the year poor old Dick
Ten Broek tried so hard to have his American-bred ones carry off the
blue ribbon of the turf. He didn't win it--no American did--until one
of them had luck enough to try for it with something of Blink Bonny's
blood. Iroquois went back to her through his sire, Bonnie
Scotland-Iroquois, who wasn't really a great horse, but a good one
that happened on a great chance.'"

"Why, Allys darling, I can hardly believe my ears! Here you are
talking horse like a veteran, when I always thought you didn't know a
fetlock from a wishbone," the Hammond girl cooed, swimming up behind
them on old Van Ammerer's arm. They were headed for the paddock,
although it was not quite time for the saddling bell. The Heathflower
thing was still invisible--Allys searched the course for her through
Hilary's glass, saying the while over her shoulder, with her most
infantine smile: "You thought right, Camilla dear. I don't really
_know_ anything--have only a parrot faculty of repeating what I hear."

The Hammond girl flushed--that was what she had said of Allys when
people laughed over the Rhett _mots_. But before she could counter,
Allys cried joyously: "At last! The Heathflower thing! Really, she
hasn't any looks--but see her run, will you?"

"She does move like a winner--but it's impossible she can stay,"
Hilary said, almost arrogantly. "Pedigree is all very well--until it
runs up against performance----"

"Right you are! Quite mighty right, Rich, me boy," old Van Ammerer
interrupted. "But I didn't know they let dark horses run in the Far
and Near----"

"Lucky you are young, Van--you have such a lot to learn," Adair said,
brusquely, as they went toward the paddock. It was thronged, but
somehow at sight of Hilary the human masses fell respectfully
apart--albeit the men and women there had forgotten themselves, even
forgotten each other for the time being, in their poignant eagerness
over the big race.

They were hardly through the gate and well established in an eddy when
the bell brought the racers pacing or scurrying in. The Heathflower
thing came straight off the course, and stood spiritlessly, drooping
her head and blinking her eyes. Clear eyes, matching the loose, satiny
skin, beneath which whipcord muscles stood out, or played at each
least motion, they told the eye initiate that she was in the pink of
condition. Like her so-famous ancestors, a bay with black points,
neither under nor over size, with a fine, lean head, a long neck, and
four splendid legs, it was a marvel that she could so utterly lack any
trace of equine comeliness. Her chest was noticeably narrow, her
barrel out of proportion to shoulders and quarters. Still, against
those patent blemishes, a judge of conformation would have set the
splendid sloping shoulders, the reaching forearm, the bunches of massy
muscle in the long loin, the quarters well let down into perfect
houghs, the fine, clean bone of knees and ankles, the firm,
close-grained hoofs spreading faintly from coronet to base.

Clean-limbed throughout, with ears that, if they drooped, had no trace
of coarseness and were set wide apart above a basin face, the mare
showed race indisputably, notwithstanding the white in her forehead
was too smudgy to be called a star, or that, though her muzzle tapered
finely, the lower lip habitually protruded a bit. A four-year-old, she
was still a maiden--consequently had but a feather on her back in the
Far and Near. The handicapper had laughed, half wearily, half
compassionately as he allotted it, muttering something about the
jockey club robbing the cradle and the grave--that poor old Major
Meriwether, it was well known, hadn't any money to spare; what he did
have was the gambler's instinct to sit into any game where the stakes
were big.

The race was open to three-year-olds and upward, and run over a
distance--two miles and a half. The distance kept out the sprinters--it
also, now and again, played hob with racing idols. To win a horse must
be able to go--also to stay. With twenty thousand of added money,
there was sure to be always a long list of entries. The conditions
held one curious survival from the original fixture--namely, that,
horses brought over three hundred miles to run in it got a three-pound
allowance if they reached the course less than a week before the day
of the race.

Major Meriwether had chuckled whenever he thought of that. He knew
"the weight of a stable key may win or lose a race." And the
Heathflower thing was a splendid traveler, coming out of her padded
stall as ready to run as when she went into it. She had got to the Bay
Park only two days back, in charge of her rubber, Amos, and Black Tim,
her jockey. Tim stood at her head, Amos was giving her lank sides
their last polish, as Allys and her train swept down upon them.

Allys nodded to them gayly, as she asked: "Tim, have you come up to
break New York? I hear your stable will need a special car to take
home its money--after the Far and Near."

"Yessum, dat's so!" Tim said.

Amos scowled at him, but said to Allys, respectfully: "Please'um,
don't ax dat dar fool boy no mo' 'bout de Flower--hit's mighty bad
luck sayin' whut you _gwine_ do, ontwel you is done done it."

"Dar come Marse Billy Wickliffe--you kin ax him all you wanter." Tim
giggled, then clapped his hand over his mouth. Tim was
lathy--long-legged, long-armed, with an ashy-black complexion and very
big eyes. As he stood fondling the Flower's nose, he glared disdain of
all the other candidates, or, rather, of the knots of folk gathered
admiringly about them.

Allys turned half about--for two breaths at least she had a snobbish
impulse to overlook Billy and hurry away. Billy was tall, with a face
like a young Greek god--but how greet him there with the Hammond girl
to see, in a checked suit, patently ready-made, with the noisiest of
shirts, a flowing bright red tie, and a sunburned straw hat? If it
were only Adair, she would not mind--Hilary was, she knew, very much
more critical. She might have run away, but that she caught the
Hammond girl's look--amusement and satisfaction struggled through it,
although the young lady tried hard to mask them.

Allys turned wholly, holding out both hands, and saying: "Billy, by
all that's delightful! I've just been telling these people about you.
Come, show them I kept well within the truth."

Billy caught the outstretched hands, his heart so openly in his eyes
Hilary wanted to strangle him on the spot. The Hammond girl laughed,
and turned to whisper in Van Ammerer's ear. Adair, alone of the group,
shook hands. Although the others gave him civil, if formal, greeting,
Billy felt their hostility intuitively, and flung up his head like a
stag at bay.

"You got my note--have you done it yet?" he asked, bending over Allys
in a fashion that made Hilary's teeth set hard.

She laughed back at him: "Have you done it yet? Bet your whole fortune
on the Heathflower thing at a hundred to one?"

Billy nodded confidently. "That's just what I have done. Unc' Robert
was willin'--he thought as I did, such a little bit o' money was
better risked than kept."

"H'm! I hope you kept the price of a return ticket," Hilary said,
trying to speak jocularly. "Really, Mr. Wickliffe, you can't think
that ugly brute has a chance to be even in the money."

"My money's talkin' for me," Billy said, facing Hilary. "'Tain't
much--only a thousand. Lordy! if I could, wouldn't I burn up these
ringsters! You ought to a-heard 'em, Miss Allys, when I went at 'em.
'The Heathflower thing, did you say?' the first one asked me. 'Oh,
say! do you want to rob us poor fellows? Couldn't think of layin' you
less'n a thousand to one on that proposition.' But he cut it mighty
quick to a hundred to one when I said: 'I'd take you for a hundred,
only I know you couldn't pay.' Tell you he rubbed his slate in a hurry
after I got down fifty. The next one tried to be smart as he was--sang
out to some o' the rest: 'Here's the wild man from Borneo, come to
skin us alive!' Then made out he was skeered to death when I offered
him one little pitiful rag of a ten. But when they saw me keep on
right down the line, some of 'em shut up and looked a little anxious,
some cut the price, and some got sassier than ever. They called me
Rube, and Johnny-on-the-spot-of-wealth, and Shekels, and a heap of
other things. But I didn't mind. Still, next time I'll send my money
by one of those commissioner fellows. To-day I couldn't risk it."

"What makes you so suddenly avaricious, Billy?" Allys asked. "Last
summer you cared less for money than anything. There must be a
reason--tell me, does it wear frocks?"

"Not the special reason," Billy said, with an adoring look; then in
her ear: "I know you don't care for money any more'n I do. But I'm
bound to have some--if there's any chance--it's--it's because of the
major. I'll tell you all about it, after the race."

The parade was nearly over when Allys and her three swains came again
to the lawn. By some odd chance, the long shots had been well toward
the head of it, leaving the two favorites and the three second choices
to bring up the rear. The Heathflower thing was immediately in front
of them. She had moved so soberly, plodding with low head and sleepy
eyes, the watchers had given her an ironic cheer, mingled with cat
calls. All the others had got a welcome more or less enthusiastic, but
it was only when Aramis, even-money favorite, came through the paddock
gate that the crowd got to its feet.

All up and down, and round about, roaring cheers greeted him, followed
him--men flung up their hats for him, women in shrill falsetto cried
his name. Nobody could fail to understand that he carried the hopes
and the fortunes of a great multitude. Nobody could fail to understand
either that Aldegonde, who followed right on his heels, would win or
lose for as many. The pair were blood-brothers, sons of the great
Hamburg, but one out of an imported dam, the other from a mare tracing
to Lexington, and richly inbred to that great sire.

Still the line of cleavage was not patriotic nor even international.
Folk had picked one or the other to win freakishly--on hunches of all
sorts, tips of all manners, pure fancy, or "inside information" of the
hollowest sort. As to looks, pedigree, or performance, there was
hardly a pin to choose between the pair. Both were three-year-olds,
tried in the fire of spring racing; both held able to go the distance
and stay the route, in that they had won from everything except from
each other.

By some curious chance they had not met before that season--in their
two-year-old form they had won and lost to each other.

Thus to many onlookers the Far and Near held out a promise of such an
equine duel as would make it the race of the century. And certainly
two handsomer or gallanter beasts than the pair of raking chestnuts,
long-striding, racelike, with white-starred faces and single white
hind feet, never looked through a bridle.

Notwithstanding, the second choices were far from friendless, albeit
their greatest support was for the place or to show. The greeting they
got was tame compared to that of the favorites, but still a volleying
cheer, rising and falling along the quarter-mile of humanity banked
and massed either side the course. Shrewd form players and the plainer
sort had taken liberal fliers on them--that was evident by the way the
shouting mounted in the free field, and the jam in front of the
betting ring.

Not a few of the professional layers had turned their slates and were
out on watch for the event that would mean thousands in or out of
their pockets. Among the second choices Artillery, the black Meddler
mare, was held a shade the best. Next to her came Tay Ho, a son of
Hastings, five years old, who might have divided honors with the
favorites but for being an arrant rogue. To-day he ran in blinkers,
and nodded the least bit in his stride, whereas his stable mate,
Petrel, the last of the second choices, went as free as ever water
ran.

Billy watched the parade, scarcely conscious that Allys clung to his
arm. Hilary stood at her other hand, frowning blackly. The finish line
was almost in front of them.

Hilary moved back a pace. "We can see better here," he said, trying to
draw Allys along with him. She shook her head obstinately, but said
nothing; in her heart she was resolved that Billy should have the
comfort of her presence in his hour of defeat.

Since she was very far from being a model young person, Hilary's
manifest anger was not displeasing. She was going to marry him--but
only at her own time, and upon her own conditions. So far, there was
no engagement--she had fenced and played with him beautifully all
through the last three months. He had no right whatever to be nasty
about Billy; of course, if it were some grown-up body, Adair for
example, there might be a color of reason for his wrath. He ought to
understand that Billy was, in a way, her guest--also a person to whom
she owed something in the way of hospitality. What provoked her most
was knowing that Hilary was less jealous than ashamed--ashamed to have
her thus openly countenance anybody who wore Billy's clothes. She was
all the angrier for her own moment of snobbishness--men ought to be
above such paltry things, she reasoned; anyway, she was bound to stand
by Billy to the inevitably bitter end.

The start was tedious. Again and again the line of rainbow jackets
drew taut across the course, only to break and tangle, and at last
dissolve into its original gaudy units. Billy sighed as he watched it,
then smiled shyly, and drew a long breath, saying in Allys' ear: "I
hate to win except right square out."

"I don't understand," Allys returned.

Billy looked at her in surprise.

"Don't you see--the favorites have got so much on their backs, the
longer they wheel and turn, the more they take out of themselves?" he
asked. "I'll bet they are frettin' like everything, too. See there!
One of them chestnut-sorrels--can't tell whether it's Aramis or
Aldegonde--is cuttin' up high didoes. And the Heathflower thing
standin' like a little lamb----"

"She may be standing there when the race is over," Hilary interrupted.

Billy did not put down his glass, but said over his shoulder: "Oh, I
reckon Tim can stop her before she gets that far around. Don't know,
though--if she feels like runnin' she's a handful. And this is one of
the days--I know, because she looks as though she couldn't beat a
funeral."

Allys pressed Billy's arm--it was all she could do to show her
enjoyment of the way he had turned things. Hilary bent toward her,
saying, with a hard smile: "You seem to be on Mr. Wickliffe's side--I
wonder will you back his judgment?"

"Maybe so," Allys said, without turning her head. "That is, if you
care to make it anything worth while. I'm not quite sure which I'd
like best--a winter in Paris or a pearl necklace--and I know I shan't
ever get them at bridge--I have no luck at all."

"Give you millions against--just one word," Hilary whispered; then
aloud: "Is it a bet?"

"Say yes, Miss Allys," Billy entreated. "You ain't trustin' to my
judgment--remember that--but to the blood of Blink Bonny."

"I take you up," Allys said, nodding to Hilary. As well this way as
any other, she thought--besides, she could hold him off as long as she
chose. Her father would stand by her loyally--he was in no haste to
see her established. Besides, this was what she had always craved--to
watch a race with a heartrending wager on its event.

"Here they come!" Billy shouted, dropping his glass, and flinging up
his head.

Up course the rainbow line had at last held steady, then, as the tape
flew up, bellied out like a sail in gusty wind, and been rent into
flecks and tatters. The lightweights, of course, were in the foremost
of the flecks and tatters--all, that is, save the Heathflower thing,
who came absolutely last. Tim's orange jacket and scarlet sash were
dust-dimmed by the time he came to the stand. But right in front of
him were Aldegonde's tiger stripes, black and yellow, and the blue and
white in the saddle of Aramis.

"Last all the way--eh, Miss Allys?" Adair said, leaning across Billy,
who would have given back but that Allys clung to him in silence, her
eyes glued to the glass, flushing and paling, her breath coming
quicker even thus early in the race.

There were open lengths all along--the lightweights were bent on
making it a runaway race. Billy knew they could never do it. A
horseman born and made, he marked their stride, and understood even
better than their jockeys how much the killing pace was taking out of
them. It did not astonish him that in the outstretch, before a mile
had been run, three of the first flight chucked it up, falling back,
back, till even the Heathflower thing showed them her heels. At the
mile there were more counterfeits proven--as the race swept down upon
the stand the second time there were but seven of the original
contenders really in it. The rest were tailing hopelessly. One or two
even pulled up. But the Heathflower thing was among the seven, and
keeping place right behind the favorites.

Allys clutched Billy's arm so hard her fingers half buried in it. She
was getting the thrills she had pined for with a vengeance, now that
her freedom, her future, were to be colored by the issue of the race.

The Heathflower thing could not win, of course; still, it was pure
delight to have her so far redeem herself. If she was even near the
real contenders at the finish, Billy's faith would be justified. So
many, at shorter odds, had already fallen out, there would be
distinction in staying all the way.

If the impossible happened, the Heathflower thing won, then she would
have Hilary in a very proper frame of mind. Losing always hurt him
dreadfully--it would be gall and wormwood to have lost to such a
winner. She felt this rather than thought it--connected thought indeed
was impossible in view of what was happening out on the course.

In the outstretch, for the second time, Aramis shot forward like the
arrow from a bended bow. He had been running under wraps--now thus far
from home, his jockey, the most famous of them all, gave him his head,
evidently thinking there would be but one horse in the race. All in a
breath two open lengths showed between Aramis and the others; then
Aldegonde with a mighty burst lapped the leader's flank. Tay Ho was
right behind--so close his backers set up a breathless shout. The
Flower was still last, but strive, strain, stretch as the flying
leaders might, they got no further away from her.

Billy flung up his hat, then clapped his hand over his mouth and said,
smotheredly:

"See that, Miss Allys! Let her come into the stretch with just one
breath more'n those fine fellows, and it's all over but the cashin'
in."

"Billy, you're an angel! I thought we were hopelessly beaten," Allys
breathed rather than said.

Hilary's mouth set. Adair, watching him narrowly, saw it also whiten
when, at the second mile post, the three leaders swept the turn barely
heads apart, with the Heathflower thing right on their heels. More
than that, she was running strongly, easily, clearly not distressed,
although Aramis, still leading, rolled the least bit.

Could that leggy bay really stay the route? Was there any reason for
the Wickliffe boy's unreason? Was there also any chance for
him?--there Adair stopped short, smiling a thought grimly to see how
all unconsciously, all femininely, Allys drooped to Billy's upright,
youthful strength.

Hilary likewise noted it--with a thumping heart that sent the color
surging over his face. Habitually he held himself well in hand--it
amazed and angered him to find himself thus swept beyond himself. To
all of us come moments when instinct masters reason--the primal
masculine instinct of possession told him he would win or lose his
quicksilver sweetheart on the issue of this race.

Now she had no thought of him--her eyes were only for the course,
where four horses ran like a team as never any of them had run before.
All through the first quarter of this fateful last half, they held
each other safe, running side by side, stride for stride.

At the furlong pole beyond, Tay Ho's hooded head for the first time
showed in front--only to be instantly eclipsed by the white star of
Aldegonde. Aramis began to hang--the angry roar of his backers told he
was out of it. Simultaneously, the jockeys sat down to ride--there was
the cruel swish of catgut, the crueler prodding of steel. In the crowd
a great hushed breath, like the sigh of a forest before the storm,
told of tense heartstrings.

Almost instantly the sigh changed to a shouted roar as Tay Ho dropped
back level with Aramis, leaving Aldegonde and the Heathflower thing
half a length to the good. But next breath the falterers came
again--together they held their place, their way, four mighty masses
of blood and bone, of breath and fire and stay, fighting it out every
inch of the way, with a living sea roaring, shouting, cursing, crying
encouragement on either hand.

How they lay down to it! How they came up!

Stretch and gather! Stretch and gather, the game and gallant foursome
held to it. Now, for the first time, the Heathflower thing showed all
that was in her. Even those who stood to lose fortunes felt that her
whirlwind rush deserved to win.

A hundred yards from the wire, whips still flying, rowels plowing
furrows in satin coats, Aramis staggered, half stumbled, then fell
back an open length.

Tim flung away his whip, and leaned far over, lying almost flat upon
the Flower's neck to shout in her ear: "You see dat dar Mister
Aldergown! Dee calls him bulldawg! Tote yosef, gal! Show 'im you's
bulldawg, too." Perhaps the Flower resented the caution. Certainly,
she hung a bit in the next stride. Tay Ho and Aldegonde, running
either side of her, almost let in daylight between.

The cheers, the roars, mounted in deafening volume. The Heathflower
thing answered them by going down, down, till it seemed she lay quite
flat on earth. And then she came up, up, with a leap so long, so
lancelike, it recovered all she had lost. Again she thrust herself
forward--the horses either side of her thrust as far.

Twenty yards from home not one of the three was an inch to the good or
the bad. Aldegonde's jockey slashed his mount savagely--somehow, one
blow of the whip fell on the Flower's quarter--fell and won the race.
With a sweep as of the wind she went away from it, and got her nose
across the finish line three inches in front!

A near thing. Anybody must admit that. So near the tumult died to a
breathless hush. Hilary half turned about. "I'm going to the judges'
stand to see what won," he said. "I saw Aldegonde first."

"I don't know about that--but I reckon you won't go," Billy said,
laying his hand upon Hilary's arm.

Hilary was furious. "Why not?" he demanded. He was no weakling, but
somehow he could not get free of that impertinent young cub's grip.

"Oh, because you are--your father's son," Billy said, nonchalantly,
then steadfastly, the lightness dying from face and voice: "I mean no
disrespect, Mr. Hilary, but all of us have got to take account of
human nature. We may think we know what won--you and me--but it's the
judges' business to say so--and ours to be satisfied with the sayin'.
That's only fair----"

"Let go my arm!" Hilary said, in a hoarse whisper, his eyes murderous.

Billy held him fast. "Not until you give me a gentleman's word you
won't interfere," he said.

Allys looked at him amazed, enchanted. Here was no boy to be played
with, petted and coaxed from his beliefs--rather a man standing for
what he held the right with the fire and strength of youth.

Adair caught Hilary on the other side, saying under breath: "Hold
still, Rich! You must! The wild man from Borneo is right this time. It
would be horribly bad form if you said a questioning word--and,
anyway, the judges saw--what we did."

Hilary turned upon Billy a look that made Allys hide her eyes, but
nodded shortly, and strode away, not toward the stand. Billy turned to
shield Allys, until by the stunned silence falling on the course, he
knew the boards were going up--with the Flower's number at the top of
them.

Then he took the fence in front at a flying leap, and came to himself
only when he had both arms about the Flower's neck, his face pressed
to it, and tears raining, as he whispered: "You won, lady! You had to!
You wouldn't let Haw Bush be sold over the major's head. Hang the
mortgages now--we'll save him, you and I! And you shall never, never
run another race!"

As the Flower was led away to receive other flowers, the hideous
horseshoe penalty of victory, the crowd was astounded to see in the
middle of the course a tall youngster in loud plaids, leaping,
shouting, hugging himself, laughing and crying in the same breath.

And this was what he shouted: "The blood of Blink Bonny! Hurrah!
hurrah! Beat it if you can! Hurrah for Haw Bush! For Major Meriwether!
For Tim! For Blink Bonny! Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!"

Allys watched him, smiling roguishly. "Billy is ridiculously young,"
she said to the constant Adair.

Adair looked glum. He knew, and knew she knew, that the boy they had
welcomed was of full man's age--quite old enough, in fact, to be
married.



MONOTONY

  Love, does my love with weary burden fall
    Daily upon thy too accustomed ear
    With words so oft repeated that the dear,
  Sweet tones of early joy begin to pall?
  What gift of loving may I give to call
    Again to your deep eyes of brown the tear
    Of welling, full delight and love, the clear,
  Rose-petaled blush that holds my heart in thrall?

  Not all the homage of the bees that wing
    Laden with honey through the clover days
  Wearies the tiny queen with heavy tune!
  Not all the rapture of the birds that fling
    Love melodies adrift through leafy ways
  Burdens the mothers on their nests in June!

                                         PHILIP GERRY.



"PLUG" IVORY AND "PLUG" AVERY

By HOLMAN F. DAY


It was the queerest turnout that ever invaded Smyrna Corner.

Even the frogs of Smyrna swamp at the edge of the village gulped back
their pipings, climbed the bank for a nearer view, and goggled in
astonished silence as it passed, groaning, in the soft and early dusk.

'Twas a sort of van--almost a little house on wheels, with an elbow of
stove funnel sticking out of one side. An old chaise top was fastened
by strings and wire over a seat in front. Dust and mud covered
everything with striated coatings, mask eloquent of wanderings over
many soils. A cadaverous horse, knee-sprung and wheezy, dragged the
van at the gait of a caterpillar.

Under the chaise top was hunched an old man, gaunt but huge of frame,
his knees almost to his chin. Long, white hair fluffed over his bent
shoulders, and little puffs of white whiskers stood out from his
tanned cheeks. A fuzzy beaver hat barely covered the bald spot on his
head. The reins were looped around his neck. Between his hands, huge
as hams, moaned and sucked and suffled and droned a much-patched
accordion. The instrument lamented like a tortured animal as he pulled
it out and squatted it together. To its accompaniment, the old man
sang over and over some words that he had fitted to the tune of "Old
Dog Tray,"

"Plug" Ivory Buck sat outside the door of his "emporium" in Smyrna
Corner, his chair tipped back comfortably, ankle roosting across his
knee, his fuzzy stovepipe hat on the back of his head.

The end of his cigar, red in the May dusk, was cocked up close to his
left eye with the arrogant tilt that signified the general temperament
of "Plug" Ivory. For almost fifty years a circus man, he felt a bland
and yet contemptuous superiority to those who had passed their lives
in Smyrna Corner. However, when his father had died at the ripe age of
ninety-three--died in the harness, even while gingerly and thriftily
knuckling along a weight into the eighth notch of the bar of the scoop
scales--Ivory had come back as sole heir to store, stock and stand, a
seventy-two-year-old black sheep bringing a most amazing tail behind
him--no less than a band chariot, a half dozen animal cages, a tent
loaded on a great cart, and various impedimenta of "Buck's Leviathan
Circus and Menagerie."

He trundled the array through the village's single street, stored the
gilded glories in the big barn on the old home place, with the
euphemism of circus terminology changed the sign "A. Buck, General
Store," to "I. Buck, Commercial Emporium," and there he had lived five
years, keeping "bachelor's hall" in the big house adjoining the store.

Sometimes he dropped vague hints that he might start on the road
again, displaying as much assurance of long years ahead as though he
were twenty-one. It was a general saying in Smyrna Corner that a Buck
didn't think he was getting old until after he had turned ninety. The
townspeople accepted Ivory as a sort of a wild goose of passage,
called him "Plug" on account of his never varying style of headgear,
and deferred to him because he had fifty thousand dollars tucked away
in the savings bank at the shire.

The May dusk became tawny in the west, and he gazed out into it
discontentedly.

"I wish them blamenation tadpoles shed their voices along with their
tails," he grumbled, with an ear to the frogs in the marsh. "They
ain't quite so bad when they get big enough to trill, but that
everlasting yipping makes me lonesome. I'm a good mind to toss up this
tenpenny nail and salt codfish business and get back to the sawdust
once more."

There was a stir in a cage above his head, a parrot waddled down the
bars, stood on his beak and yawped hoarsely:

"Crack 'em down, gents! The old army game!"

"If it wasn't for you, Elkanah, I swear I should die of listening to
nothing but frogs tuning up and swallows twittering and old fools
swapping guff," he went on, sourly, and then he suddenly cocked his
ear, for a new note sounded faintly from the marsh.

"I never knew a bullfrog to get his bass as early as this," he mused,
and as he listened and peered, the old horse's head came slowly
bobbing around the alders at the bend of the road. Above the wailing
of the distant accordion he caught a few words as the cart wabbled up
the rise on its dished wheels:

  Old horse Joe is ever faithful,
      O-o-o, o-o-o--ever true.
  We've been--o-o-o--wide world over,
    O-o-o, o-o-o, toodle-oodle--through.

Then a medley of dronings, and finally these words were lustily
trolled with the confidence of one who safely reaches the last line:

  A bet-tur friend than old horse Joe.

"Whoa, there! Whup!" screamed the parrot, swinging by one foot.

"Ain't you kind of working a friend to the limit and a little plus?"
inquired Buck, sarcastically. The old horse had stopped before the
emporium, legs spraddled, head down and sending the dust up in little
puffs as he breathed.

"Joachim loves music," replied the stranger, mildly. "He'll travel all
day if I'll only play and sing to him."

"Love of music will be the death of friend Joachim, then," commented
Buck.

"Is there a hostelry near by?" asked the other, lifting his old hat
politely. With satirical courtesy Buck lifted his--and at that
psychological moment the only plug hats in the whole town of Smyrna
saluted each other.

"There's a hossery down the road a ways, and a mannery, too, all run
by old Sam Fyles."

"Crack 'em down, gents," rasped the parrot. "Twenty can play as well
as one."

The man under the chaise top pricked up his ears and cast a
significant look at the plug hat on the platform. Plug hat on the
platform seemed to recognize some affinity in plug hat on the van, and
there was an acceleration of mutual interest when the parrot croaked
his sentence again.

Buck tipped forward with a clatter of his chair legs and trudged down
to the roadside. He walked around the outfit with an inquisitive
sniffing of his nose and a crinkling of eyebrows, and at last set
himself before the man of the chaise top, his knuckles on his hips.

"Who be I?" he demanded.

The stranger surveyed him for some time, huggling his head down in
cowering fashion, so it seemed in the dusk.

"You," he huskily ventured, "are Buck's Leviathan Circus and
Menagerie; Ivory Buck, Proprietor."

"And you," declared Buck, "are Brick Avery, inventor of the dancing
turkey and captor of the celebrated infant anaconda--side-show graft
with me for eight years."

He put up his hand, and the stranger took it for a solemn shake,
flinching at the same time.

"How long since?" pursued Buck.

"Thirty years for certain."

"Yes, all of that. Let's see! If I remember right, you threw up your
side-show privilege with me pretty sudden, didn't you?" His teeth were
set hard into his cigar.

The man on the van scratched a trembling forefinger through a cheek
tuft.

"I don't exactly recollect how the--the change came about," he
faltered.

"Well, _I_ do! You ducked out across country the night of the punkin
freshet, when I was mud bound and the elephant was afraid of the
bridges. You and your dancin' turkey and infant anaconda and a cage of
monkeys that wasn't yours and--_Her!_" He shouted the word. "What
become of Her, Brick Avery?"

He seized a spoke of the forewheel and shook the old vehicle angrily.
The spoke came away in his hand.

"Never mind it," quavered the man. "We're all coming to pieces, me and
the whole caboodle. Don't hit me with it, though!"

He was eying the spoke in Buck's clutch.

"What did you steal her for, Brick Avery?"

"There isn't anything sure about her going away with me," the other
protested.

Buck yanked away another spoke in his vehemence.

"Don't you lie to me," he bawled. "There wasn't telegraphs and
telephones and railroads handy in them days, so that I could stop you
or catch you, but I didn't need any telegraphs to tell me she had gone
away with handsome Mounseer Hercules, of the curly hair." He snorted
the sobriquet with bitter spite. "A girl I'd took off'n the streets
and made the champion lady rider of--and was going to marry, and
thought more of, damn yeh, than I did of all the rest of the world!
What did ye do with her?"

"Well, she wanted to go along, and so I took her aboard. She seemed to
want to get away from your show, near as I could find out." The giant
hugged his knees together and blinked appealingly.

"It must be a bang-up living you're giving her," sneered Buck, running
his eye over the equipage. In his passion he forgot the lapse of the
years and the possibility of changes.

"Seems as if you hadn't heard the latest news," broke in Avery, his
face suddenly clearing of the puckers of apprehension. "She never
stuck to me no time. She didn't intend to. She just made believe that
she was going to marry me so that I would take her along. She run away
with the sixteen hundred dollars I had saved up and Signor
Dellabunko--or something like that--who was waiting for her on the
road, and I haven't seen hide nor hair of 'em since, nor I don't want
to, and I've still got the letter that she left me, so that I can
prove what I say. She was going to do the same thing to you, she said
in it, but she had made up her mind that she couldn't work you so
easy. It's all in that letter! Kind of a kick-you-and-run letter!"

In his agitation Buck broke another spoke from the crumbling wheel.
The parrot cracked his beak against the cage's bars and yawled:

"It's the old army game, gents!"

"Hadn't you just as soon tear pickets off'n the fence there, or
something like that?" wistfully queried Avery. "This is all I've got
left, and I haven't any money, and I haven't had very much courage to
do anything since she took that sixteen hundred dollars away from me."
He scruffed his raspy palms on his upcocked knees. "I didn't really
want to run away with her, Ivory, but she bossed me into it. I never
was no hand to stand up for my rights. Any one, almost, could talk me
'round. I wish she'd stuck to you and let me alone." His big hands
trembled on his knees, and his weak face, with its flabby chaps, had
the wistful look one sees on a foxhound's visage. "When did you give
up the road?" he asked.

"Haven't given it up!" The tone was curt and the scowl deepened. "I've
stored my wagons and the round-top and the seats, but I'm liable to
buy an elephant and a lemon and start out again 'most any time."

The eyes of the old men softened with a glint of appreciation as they
looked at each other.

"I don't suppose you have to," suggested Avery, with a glance at the
store.

"Fifty thousand in the bank and the stand of buildings here," replied
Buck, with the careless ease of the "well-fixed." "How do you get your
three squares nowadays?"

"Lecture on Lost Arts and Free Love and cure stuttering in one secret
lesson, pay in advance," Avery replied, listlessly. "But there ain't
the three squares in it. I wish I'd been as sharp as you are, and
never let a woman whiffle me into a scrape."

"Nobody ever come it over me," declared Buck, pride slowly replacing
his ire, but he added, gloomily; "excepting her, and I've never
stopped thinking about it, and I've never seen another woman worth
looking at--not for me, even if she did come it over me."

"But she didn't come it over you," insisted Avery. "I'm the one she
come it over, and look at me!" He made a despairing gesture that
embraced all his pathetic appanage. "You are the one that's come out
'unrivaled, stupendous and triumphant,' as your full sheeters used to
say. If I was any help in steering her away I'm humbly glad of it, for
I always liked you, Ivory."

This gradual shifting to the ground of the benefactor, even of the
servile sort, was not entirely placating, as Ivory Buck's corrugated
brow still hinted, but the constant iteration of admiration for his
marvelous shrewdness and good fortune was having its effect. The old
grudge and sorrow that had gnawed at his heart during so many years
suddenly shooed away. The pain was assuaged. It was like opodeldoc
stuffed into an aching tooth. He felt as though he would like to
listen to a lot more of that comforting talk.

"Avery," he cried, with a heartiness that surprised even himself,
"you're a poor old devil that's been abused, and you seem to be all
in." He surveyed the wheezing horse and kicked another spoke from the
yawning wheel.

"Crack 'em down, crack 'em down, gents!" squalled the parrot.

"If it wasn't for Elkanah, there, to holler that to me, with an
occasional 'Hey, Rube!' I couldn't stay in this Godforsaken place
fifteen minutes. There's no one here that can talk about anything
except ensilage and new-milk cows. Now what say? Store your old traps
along o' mine, squat down and take it comfortable. I reckon that you
and me can find a few things to talk about that really amount to
something!"

"I should hate to feel I was a burden on you, Ivory," stammered Avery,
gasping at the amazing generosity of this invitation. "If there's any
stutterers around here I might earn a little something on the side,
perhaps."

"Me with fifty thousand in the bank and letting a guest of mine graft
for a living? Not by a blame sight!" snorted Buck. "You just climb out
and shut up and help me unharness old Pollyponeezus here."

Ten minutes afterward they had the canvas off the chariots and were
inspecting them by lantern light, chattering old reminiscences and
seeming almost to hear the "roomp-roomp" of the elephant and the snap
of the ringmaster's whip.

To the astonishment of Smyrna Corner, two plug hats, around which
wreaths of cigar smoke were cozily curling, blossomed on the platform
of the emporium next morning, instead of one. The old men had thirty
years of mutual confidences to impart, and set busily at it, the
parrot waddling the monotonous round of his cage overhead and rasping:

"Crack 'em down, gents! The old army game!"

In two weeks "Plug" Ivory and "Plug" Avery were as much fixtures in
the Smyrna scenery as the town pump. Occasionally of an evening the
wail of the snuffling accordion wavered out over the village. Buck,
his head thrown back and his eyes closed, seemed to get consoling
echoes of the past even from this lugubrious assault on Melody, and
loungers hovered at a respectful distance. No one dared to ask
questions, and in this respect the old men differed from the town pump
as features in the scenery.

Before a month had passed the two had so thoroughly renewed their
youth that they were discussing the expense of fitting out a
"hit-the-grit" circus, and were writing to the big shows for prices on
superannuated or "shopworn" animals.

It was voted that the dancing turkey and infant anaconda grafts were
no longer feasible. Once on a time the crowds would watch a turkey
hopping about on a hot tin to the rig-a-jig of a fiddle and would come
out satisfied that they had received their money's worth. A man could
even exhibit an angleworm in a bottle and call it the infant anaconda,
and escape being lynched. Brick Avery sadly testified to the passing
of those glorious days.

However, it was decided that a cage of white leghorn fowls, colored
with aniline dyes, could be shown even in these barren times as "Royal
South American Witherlicks"; that Joachim could be converted into a
passable zebra, and "Plug" Avery still had in his van the celluloid
lemon peel as well as the glass cube that created the illusion of ice
in the pink lemonade. The village painter was set at work on the new
gilding of the chariots in the big barn.

"Even if we don't really get away," explained Buck, "it's a good idea
to keep the property from running down."

But the appearance of the new gilt inflamed their showmen's hearts. An
irresistible hankering to get a nearer sniff of the sawdust, to mix
with the old crowd, induced Buck to send a card to a sporting paper,
advertising for correspondence from bareback riders, tumblers,
specialty people and privilege speculators, who wanted to join a
"one-ring, chase-the-fairs road show--no first-raters." He emphasized
the fact that all personal interviews would be arranged later in New
York City.

"We don't want anyone tracking down here," he confided to Avery. "That
would call the bluff. But we can get some letters that maybe will perk
us up a little."

The letters came in bundles--letters long, short, earnest and
witty--whiffs from the good old world of the dressing tent. And they
were read and discussed on the emporium's platform, and some were
answered in non-committal style so as to draw out further
correspondence, and all in all it was voted by both "Plugs" that a
small amount of money invested in advertising certainly did produce
its full worth of entertainment.

But in the midst of these innocent attempts to alleviate _ennui_
something else came along beside letters. It was a woman--a slim,
wiry, alert woman. She clambered down from the stage one day, advanced
trippingly to the platform and courtesied low before the two plug
hats, her long, draggly plume bobbing against her rouged cheek. The
two plug hats arose and were doffed. Then the three faced each other.

"You don't hold your ages as well as I do, boys," she commented, after
her sharp scrutiny.

"It's the old army game, gents!" screamed the parrot, excited by this
new arrival, gay with her colors and her ribbons.

"It's Her!" gasped Plug Avery.

"It's Signory Rosy-elly!" choked Plug Avery.

She came up and sat down between them on one of the platform chairs.

"It was the longest time before I could place those names," she
chattered. "'Buck & Avery, Consolidated Aggregation,' says I to
myself. 'Buck & Avery,' I says. And, thinks I, them two old codgers
must have gone to Kingdom Come, for I'm--let's see--I'm twenty, or
something like that, years younger than either of you, as I remember."
She poked each one jovially with her parasol.

"'Buck & Avery,' says I," she went on, cheerfully oblivious of their
grimness. "'It's their boys,' I says, and so I came right along, for I
need the job, and I couldn't explain the romantic part in a letter. I
was thinking I'd surely be taken on when I told Buck and Avery's sons
the romance. But I don't have to tell _you_, boys."

She jocosely poked them again.

"'A little old!' you say?"--they hadn't said anything, by the way, but
stood there with gaping, toothless mouths. "Not a bit of it for a
jay-town circuit. Of course, it isn't a Forepaugh job for me now or
else I wouldn't be down here talking to Buck & Avery. But I'm still
good for it all--rings, banners, hurdles, rump-cling gallop and the
blazing hoop for the wind-up. You know what I can do, boys. Remember
old times. Give me an engagement for old-times' sake." She flashed at
them the arch looks of a faded coquette.

Buck, the poignancy of his ancient regret having been modified by his
long course of consolation from the lips of Avery, was the first to
recover. This faded woman, trying to stay time's ravages by her rouge,
displaced the beauteous image he had cherished so long in his memory.

"Ain't you ashamed to face us two?" he demanded. "You that run away
and broke your promise to me! You that ruined me!" He patted his
breast dramatically and shot a thumb out at Avery.

"My sakes!" she cried. "You ain't so unprofessional as to remember all
that silliness against me, are you? I was only a girl, and you
couldn't expect me to love you--either of you. I'm a poor widow now,"
she sighed, "and I need work. And here you have been laying up grudges
against me--the two of you--all these years! What would your wives
have said?"

"We never got married," replied the two, in mournful duet.

But she wasn't in a consoling mood. "You're lucky!" she snapped. "I
married a cheap, worthless renegade, who stole my money and ran away.
He fell off a trapeze and broke his neck, and I was glad of it."

The look that passed between Plug Ivory and Plug Avery carried all the
pith of the quotation: "The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they
grind exceeding small."

"So am I," grunted Buck, surlily. "No, I'm sorry he didn't live to
torment you. No, the only thing I'm really sorry about is that 'twas
Brick Avery's money he got away with."

Avery sighed.

"But I want to say to you, Signory Rosy-elly," continued Buck, with a
burst of pride quite excusable, tipping his hat to one side and
hooking his thumb into the armhole of his vest, "it wasn't my money
you got, and it never will be my money you'll get. You just made the
mistake of your life when you run away from me."

"He's got fifty thousand dollars in the bank," hoarsely whispered
Avery, vicariously sharing in this pride of prosperity--the prosperity
beyond her reach.

"Uh-huh! Correct!" corroborated Buck, surveying her in increasing
triumph. This moment was really worth waiting through the years for,
he reflected.

"Twenty can play as well as one," croaked the parrot, his beady eye
pressed between the bars of his cage.

The signora glanced up at this new speaker, eyed Elkanah with a sage
look that he returned, and then, after a moment's reflection, said:

"Thanks for the suggestion, old chap. That is to say, three can play
as well as two, when there's fifty thousand in the bank. Buck, you
know I'm always outspoken and straight to the point. No underhanded
bluff for me. I'm going to sue you for ten thousand."

"Crack 'em down, gents!" remarked Elkanah, grimly.

Buck cast a malevolent look at the bird, and then, his cigar
tip-tilted and the corner of his mouth sarcastically askew, suggested
with an air as though the idea were the limit of satiric
impossibility:

"I want to know! Breach of promise, I per-sume!"

"Good aim! You've rung the bell," rejoined the lady, coolly.

The unconscionable impudence of the bare suggestion fetched a gasp
from both men. Plug Ivory's assumption of dignity crumbled
immediately. The years rolled back. He felt one of those old-time fits
of rage come bristling up the back of his head, the fury of old when
he had tried to wither that giddy creature in his spasms of jealousy.
But now, as in the past, her calm assurance put him out of countenance
and his wild anathemas died away in sputterings.

"I know all that, Ivory Buck," she said, icily. "But how are you going
to prove I was married? Where are you going to hunt for witnesses?
Professional people are like wild geese--roosting on air and moulting
their names like feathers. What proof of anything are you going to
find after all these thirty years? While I--I've got your letters,
every one--all your promises. Observe how I take my cue! Jury
a-listening! I've been hunting the world over for you. You hid here.
Here I find you--this poor, deserted woman, whose life has been
wrecked by your faithlessness, finds you. Me, with a crape veil, a
sniff in my nose, a crushed-creature face make-up, a tremolo in my
voice and a smart lawyer such as I know about! What can you two old
fools say to a country jury to block my bluff? Why, you can save money
by handing me your bank book!"

In his fury Buck grabbed her chair and tipped it forward violently in
order to dump her off his sacred platform. She fled out into space
with a flutter of skirts, landed lightly as a cat and pirouetted on
one toe, crooking her arms in the professional pose that appeals for
applause.

"This is the first time Signora Rosyelli, champion bareback rider,
ever tried to ride a mule," she chirped, "but you see she can do it
and make her graceful dismount to the music of the band."

Several villagers across the road were gaping at the scene. She
inquired the way to the tavern, one of them took her valise, and she
went down the road, tossing a kiss from her finger tips toward the two
plug hats. Plug hats watched her out of sight and then turned toward
each other with simultaneous jerk.

"Don't that beat tophet and repeat?" they inquired, in exact unison.

"What are you going to do?" asked Plug Avery.

"Fight her! Fight her clear to the high, consolidated supreme court
aggregation of the United States, or whatever they call it!" roared
Plug Ivory.

"Nobody has ever beat her yet, except Dellybunko, and we ain't in his
class," sighed Avery, despondently.

"You don't think, do you, that I'm going to lap my thumb and finger
and peel her off ten thousand dollars?"

"Why don't you and she get married and we'll all live here, happy,
hereafter?" wistfully suggested Avery. "If it was in a book it would
end off like that--sure pop."

"This ain't no book," replied Buck, elbows on his knees, eyes moodily
on the dusty planks.

"So you're bound to go to court?"

"Low court--high court--clear to the ridgepole--clear to the cupoly,
and then I'll shin the weather vane with the star spangled banner of
justice between my teeth."

"I heard a breach of promise trial once," related Avery, half closing
his eyes in reminiscence, "and it was the funniest thing I ever
listened to. 'Twas twenty years ago, and I'll bet that the people down
there laugh yet when they see that fellow walk along the street. Them
letters he wrote was certainly the squashiest--why, every one of them
seemed to woggle like a tumbler of jelly--sweet and sloppy, as you
might say! It being so long ago, when you was having your spell, I
don't suppose you remember just what you wrote to her, do you?"

Avery still gazed at the same knothole, but a hot flush was crawling
up from under his collar. He took off his plug hat and scuffed his
wrist across his steaming forehead.

"I remember that he called her 'Ittikins, Pittikins, Popsy-sweet.'
Thought I'd die laughing at that trial! Did you sling in any names
like that, Ivory? You being so prominent now and settled down and
having money in the bank, them kind of names, if you wrote mushy like
that, will certainly tickle folks something tremendous."

A student in physiognomy might have read that memory was playing havoc
with Buck's resolution. Avery was knitting his brows in deep
reflection, knuckling his forehead.

"Seems as if," he went on, slowly, "she told me you called her
something like 'Sweety-tweety,' or 'Tweeny-weeny Girlikins'--something
like that. How them newspapers do like to string out things--funny
kind of things, when a man is prominent and well known, and has got
money in the bank! Folks can't help laughing--they just naturally
can't, Ive! You'll be setting there in court, looking ugly as a gibcat
and her lawyer reading them things out. Them cussed lawyers have a
sassy way of----"

Buck got up, kicked his chair off onto the ground, and in choler
uncontrollable, clacked his fists under Avery's nose and barked:

"Twit me another word--just one other word--and I'll drive that old
nose of yourn clear up into the roof of your head!"

Then he locked his store door and stumped away across the field to the
big barn, where the remains of Buck's Leviathan Circus reposed in
isolated state.

No one knows by just what course of agonized reasoning he arrived at
his final decision, but at dusk he came back to the store. With the
dumb placidity of some ruminant, Avery was sitting in his same place
on the platform of the emporium.

"Brick," said Ivory, humbly, "I've been thinking back and remembering
what I wrote to her--and it's all of it pretty clear in my mind,
'cause I never wrote love letters to anyone else. And I can't face it.
I couldn't sit in court and hear it. I couldn't sit here on this
platform in my own home place and face the people afterward. I
couldn't start on the road with a circus and have the face to stand
before the big tent after it and bark like I used to. They'd grin me
out of business. I'd be backed into the stall. No, I can't do it. Go
down and see what she'll compromise on."

Avery came back after two hours and loomed in the dusk before the
platform. He fixed his eyes on the plug hat that was still lowered in
the attitude of despondency.

"I wrassled with her, Ivory, just the same as if I was handling my own
money, and I beat her down to sixty-six hundred. She won't take a cent
less."

"I'll tell you what that sounds like to me," snarled Buck, after a
moment of meditation. "It sounds as if she was going to get five
thousand and you was looking after your little old sixteen hundred."

A couple of tears squeezed out and down over Avery's flabby cheeks.

"This ain't the first time you've misjudged me, when I've been doing
you a favor," said he. "And it's all on account of the same mis'able
woman that I'm misjudged--and we was living so happy here, me and you.
I wish she was in----" His voice broke.

"I ain't responsible for what I'm saying, Avery," pleaded Buck,
contritely. "You know what things have happened to stir me up the last
few hours--yes, all my life, for that matter. I ain't been comfortable
in mind for thirty years till you come here and cheered me up and
showed me what's what. I appreciate it and I'll prove that to you
before we're done. We'll get along together all right after this. All
is, you must see me through."

Then the two plug hats bent together in earnest conference.

The next morning Avery, armed with an order on the savings bank at the
shire for six thousand six hundred dollars, and with Buck's bank book
in his inside pocket, drove up to the door of Fyles' tavern in Buck's
best carriage, and Signora Rosyelli flipped lightly up beside the
peace commissioner.

He was to pay over the money on the neutral ground at the shire,
receive the letters, put her aboard a train and then come back
triumphantly into that interrupted _otium cum dignitate_ of Smyrna
Corner.

For two days a solitary and bereaved plug hat on the emporium's
platform turned its fuzzy gloss toward the bend in the road at the
clump of alders. But the sleek black nose of Buck's "reader" did not
appear.

On the third day the bank book arrived by mail, its account minus six
thousand six hundred dollars, and between its leaves a letter. It was
an apologetic letter, and yet it was flavored with a note of
complaint. Brick Avery stated that after thinking it all over he felt
that, having been misjudged cruelly twice, it might happen again, and
being old, he could not endure griefs of that kind. He had supported
the first two, but being naturally tender-hearted and easily
influenced, the third might be fatal. Moreover, the conscience of
Signora Rosyelli had troubled her, so he believed, ever since the
affair of the one thousand six hundred dollars. So he had decided that
he would quiet her remorse by marrying her and taking entire charge of
her improved finances. In fact, so certain was he that she would waste
the money--being a woman fickle and vain--that he had insisted on the
marriage, and she, realizing her dependence on his aid in cashing in,
assented, and now he assured her that as her husband he was entitled
to full control of their affairs--all of which, so the letter
delicately hinted, was serving as retribution and bringing her into a
proper frame of mind to realize her past enormities. The writer hoped
that his own personal self-sacrifice in thus becoming the instrument
of flagellation would be appreciated by one whom he esteemed highly.

They would be known at the fairs as Moseer and Madame Bottotte, and
would do the genteel and compact gift-sale graft from the
buggy--having the necessary capital now--and would accept the buggy
and horse as a wedding present, knowing that an old friend with
forty-three thousand four hundred dollars still left in the bank would
not begrudge this small gift to a couple just starting out in life,
and with deep regard for him and all inquiring friends, they were,
etc.

In the more crucial moments of his life Buck had frequently refrained
from anathema as a method of relief. Some situations were made vulgar
and matter-of-fact by sulphurous ejaculation. It dulled the edge of
rancor brutally, as a rock dulls a razor.

Now he merely turned the paper over, took out a stubby lead pencil,
licked it and began to write on the blank side, flattening the paper
on his bank book.

    FOR SALE--1 Band Wagon, 1 Swan Chariot, 3 Lion Cages.

He paused here in his laborious scrawl and, despite his resolution of
silence, muttered:

"It's going to be a clean sale. I don't never in all my life want to
hear of a circus, see a circus, talk circus, see a circus man----"

"Crack 'em down, gents!" squalled the parrot. It was the first time
for many hours that he had heard his master's voice, and the sound
cheered him. He hooked his beak around a wire and rattled away
jovially. He seemed to be relieved by the absence of the other plug
hat that had been absorbing so much of the familiar, beloved and
original plug hat's attention.

Ivory looked up at Elkanah vindictively and then resumed his
soliloquy.

"No, sir, never! Half of circusing is a skin game all through--and
I've done my share of the skinning. But to be skinned twice--me, I.
Buck, proprietor--and the last time the worst, but----"

"Twenty can play it as well as one!" the parrot yelled, cocking his
eye over the edge of the cage.

It was an evil scowl that flashed up from under the plug hat, but
Elkanah in his new joy was oblivious.

"Me a man that's been all through it from A to Z--my affections trod
on, all confidence in females destroyed and nothing ahead of me all
the rest of my life! No, sir, I never want to hear of a circus again.
Bit by the mouths I fed--and they thumbing their noses at me. That
trick----"

"It's the old army game!" squealed the parrot, in nerve-racking rasp.

Ivory Buck arose, yanked the bottom off the cage, caught the squawking
bird, wrung his neck, tossed him into the middle of the road, and
then, sucking his bleeding finger, went on writing the copy for his
advertisement.



SUPPER WITH NATICA

By ROBERT E. MACALARNEY


It isn't at all pleasant to burn one's fingers, but it's worth while
burning them now and then, if you have to be scorched to be near a
particularly attractive fire; at least I've found it that way. All of
which leads me to Natica Drayton--Melsford that was.

I think I'm the only one of the crew she dragged at her heels who
hasn't forgot about things and gone off after other game; some of them
have been lashed to the burning stake of pretty uncomfortable
domesticity, too. As for me--well, I've simply gone on caring, and I
think I shall always go on.

Does she know it? Of course she knows it; always has known it, ever
since that first summer at Sacandaga. Not that I've been ass enough to
say anything after the first time. I'm only an ordinary sort of chap
when it comes to intuition, but somehow I've never plucked up the
cheek to do any talking about my own miserable self; not since she let
me down as gently as she could, while I paddled her back from Birch
Point to the canoe house, with Elephant Mountain ragged-backed in the
moon-haze. For the life of me I couldn't tell you what it was she
said. There was the drip of water from the paddle as I lifted it,
stroke after stroke; the tiny hiss of smother at the prow, and twisted
through it all, like a gathering string, Natica Melsford's voice,
letting me down easy--as easily as she could.

After I had made fast, I remember feeling that somehow the moonlight
had turned things extremely cold; and I reached for my sweater that
lay in the stern. I also laughed a great deal too much around the logs
at the bungalow fire, and then drank a deal more than too much at the
clubhouse before turning in. Maybe it was cowardly to sneak back to
town a couple of days later, "on business," of course--a shabby excuse
for a chap that doesn't dabble in business more than I do. But I
honestly needed to go to get back my equilibrium. I got it, though,
and I've kept it pretty continuously. And this much is enough for
that. Natica Melsford is the only interesting bit about this story,
and let's get back to her.

That winter she married Jack Drayton. The afternoon we rehearsed for
the wedding I looked at her, before we pranced down the aisle and
endured the endless silly giggles of the bridesmaids, and the usher
louts who would fall out of step, and grew more peevish by the minute.
I looked her over then, and I said to myself: "You feeble paranoiac,
imagine that girl tying up with _you_." Well, I couldn't very well
imagine it, although I tried. But I was extremely noisy, and I heard
two or three of the bridesmaids, to say nothing of the maid of honor
and the bridegroom's mamma, tapping their gentle hammers, at my
expense, at the breakfast. It was a year afterward that I began to fag
regularly for the Drayton establishment.

Jack Drayton, by rights, ought to have been poisoned. He'd be the
first to acknowledge it now. Perhaps if he'd married a girl who
insisted on having things out the moment they began, the things
wouldn't have happened. But Natica Melsford wasn't that sort. She was
the kind that simply looked scorn into and clear through you, when she
thought you were acting low down. This, with a man strung like Jack
was, simply put the fat into the fire. It would have been different
with me. I'd--well--I'd have made an abject crawl, to be sure. You
see, her knowing this was the thing that must have always queered me
with her. A woman prefers a man she can get furious at and who'll
stick it out a bit, to one who caves in at the first sign of a frown.
But Jack carried things too far.

No, he didn't mind my frequenting the house. He liked me and I liked
him. But, all the same, I knew he didn't regard me as a foeman worthy
of his steel. And, although the knowledge made me raw now and then,
when he's come in with his easy, careless way, still I swallowed the
mean feeling because it gave me a chance to see her. And don't imagine
I went around hunting for trouble. It was at the club one night--I'd
just come from the Draytons, and Jack hadn't been home to dinner--that
I heard Rawlins Richardson and Horace Trevano chattering about Maisie
Hartopp. The "Jo-Jo" song had made the biggest kind of a hit that
winter at the Gaiety, and the hit had been made by the Hartopp singing
it to a stage box which the Johnnies scrambled to bid in nightly.

It seemed like small game for Jack Drayton to be trailing along with
the ruck--the ruck meaning Tony Criswold and the rest of that
just-out-of-college crew--but I didn't need signed affidavits, after
five minutes of club chatter, to know that he was pretty well tied to
an avenue window at Cherry's after the show. The Ruinart, too, that
kept spouting from the bucket beside it, was a pet vintage of the
Hartopp.

There was a lot of that silly chuckle, and I recalled reading
somewhere that there was a husband belonging to the Hartopp, a medium
good welterweight, who picked up a living flooring easy marks for
private clubs at Paterson, N. J., and the like, and occasionally
serving as a punching bag for the good uns before a championship mill.
What the devil was there to do? I couldn't answer the riddle.

It sounds like old women's chatter, the meddlesome way I scribble this
down. It would take a real thing in the line of literature to paint me
right, anyway, I fancy. When a third party keeps mixing in with
husband and wife, he deserves all the slanging that's coming to him;
which same is my last squeal for mercy.

A month went by--two of them. Natica Drayton wasn't the strain that
needs spectacles to see through things. Then, too, I guessed the
loving friend sympathy racket was being worked by some of the bridge
whist aggregation which met up with her every fortnight. She laughed
more than she ought to have done. This was a bad sign with her. Once
or twice, when the three of us dined together, and she was almost
noisy over the benedictine, I could have choked Jack Drayton, for he
didn't see. It's not a pretty thing for an outsider to sit _à trois_,
and see things in a wife's manner that the husband doesn't or won't
see; and worse than that, to know that the wife knows you see it and
that he doesn't. Speak to Jack? I wouldn't have done it for worlds. As
I said, I'm willing to burn my fingers and even cuddle the hurt; but I
don't meddle with giant firecrackers except on the Fourth of July, and
that didn't come until afterward.

I was to take her to the opera one night--Drayton had the habit of
dropping in for an act or two and then disappearing--but on her own
doorstep she tossed off her carriage wrap and sent Martin back to the
stables.

"Let's talk, instead," she said, and she made me coffee in the
library, with one of those French pots that gurgle conveniently when
you don't exactly know what to say. That pot did a heap of gurgling
before we began to talk. When she spoke, what she said almost took me
off my chair.

"Percy, have you seen the show at the Gaiety?" she asked.

I had seen it more than once, and I said so.

"They tell me there's a song there----" she went on.

"There are a lot of songs," said I.

"There's one in particular."

There wasn't any use in fencing, so I answered: "You mean the 'Jo-Jo'
song. It's a silly little ditty, and it's sung by----"

"A girl named Hartopp--Maisie Hartopp." She was speaking as if she
were trying to remember where she'd heard the name.

Of course, me for the clumsy speech. "She's a winner," I cut in.

She got up at that, and walked over to the fireplace. "She seems to
be," she said, picking at a bit of bronze, a wedding present, I think.
Then she came over to where I was sitting and put a hand on my
shoulder. I'd have got to my feet if I hadn't been afraid to face her.
"Percy----" she began, and I felt the fingers on my shoulder quiver. I
don't think the Apaches handed out anything much worse in the torture
line than the quiver of a woman's ringers upon your shoulder, when you
know that those fingers aren't quivering on your account. Maybe that
occurred to her, for a second later she took her hand away. "You once
said something foolish to me, Percy," she said.

I nodded my head, my eyes upon an edge of the Royal Bokhara. "It was
in a canoe, wasn't it?" I replied. "There was a moon, of course, and
the paddle blades went drip, drip."

"You meant what you said then, didn't you?"

My gaze was wavering from the rug by now. Little wonder, was it? "I
meant it all right," I got out after a while. "Do you want to hear me
say my little speech over again?" Was it possible that, after all,
Natica Drayton had really decided to toss Jack over, and take on a
fag, warranted kind and gentle, able to be driven by any lady? But I
forgot that foolish notion pretty nearly right off.

"There is a husband," she went on, as if taking account of stock.

"There always is," I rejoined. "Some of 'em are good and the others
are bad." I chuckled despite me, as I put in my mean little hack.

"I mean the Hartopp's husband," she explained.

"There is," I said. "'Boiler-plate' Hartopp. His given name is James,
and he prize-fights fair to middling." All this wasn't quite good
billiards, but we'd begun wrong that night, and we might as well keep
it up, thought I.

Natica Drayton was tapping her foot upon the fender. "H'm," she mused.
"Some of those horrid names sound interesting." Then she turned to me
abruptly. "I think, perhaps, you ought to go now," she suggested.

"I think so, too," I agreed, rising very hastily, and taking my leave.

"Have you Friday evening disengaged?" She flung this after me before I
had got to the hall.

"Yes," said I, all unthinking.

"Then we'll do it Friday," she said.

"We'll do what?" I asked, coming back to her. For once I felt
rebellious, and showed it, whereat she smiled.

"Supper after the theater at Cherry's."

"Oh, well, I don't mind that," I volunteered.

"With 'Boiler-plate' Hartopp," she added.

The searchlight dawned upon me. It swung around the room once or
twice, and that was enough. I knew in the flood of sudden illumination
that the girl had planned this thing in advance, with the daring of
despair--and a wife's despair, a very young wife's despair, is a more
desperate thing than the anger of any other woman. Natica had planned
it all in advance; had figured it, and the chances of it. And in the
balance she had confidently thrown the asset of my assisting her.

The right sort of a man, I suppose, would have become enraged because
of her taking things for granted. But I--I had been chained to her
chariot too long a time to experience the mild sensation of
resentment.

Natica wished to face her husband in a crowded restaurant after the
play. More than that, she wished to face him in company with a man not
of her sort, even as he--Drayton--was escorting a woman whose lane of
living did not rightly cross his. The coincidence of Natica's
means-to-an-end being the Hartopp's husband, was simply a gift of
fate; an opportunity of administering poetic justice, which could not
be denied. Had the Hartopp not possessed a convenient husband, Natica
would have arranged for another companion. But even she had not dared
to plan her _coup_ alone, with her chosen instrument of wifely
retaliation. Through it all, she had confidently counted on me, a
discreet background, a pliant puppet.

She could not know what Drayton might do, after they had eyed one
another from different tables. She did not much care. But she would at
least have the painful joy of the Brahmin woman's hope, who trusts by
some fresh incantation to secure a blessing, formerly vouchsafed her
by the gods, but which now old-time petitions fail to renew. It seemed
cold-blooded, the entire arrangement, and yet I knew it was not. She
was far braver than I could have been, even to win her caring. But I
understood.

I must have been rough as I took her hand. "Look here," I said. "It's
a desperate game, Natica. You wouldn't have dared to say that to any
other man than me. You've got used to seeing me fag for you. And I'm
going to do it this time, too. But if you weaken, by Heaven, you'll
deserve to lose for good. It's crazy, it's the act of a pair of
paretics, but I'm going to see it through."

She was crying when I left her. "Percy, my dear," she said; then she
began to laugh--that after dinner benedictine laugh of hers. "If there
weren't Jack, that speech of yours just now might make me want to kiss
you."

On the sidewalk I tried to figure out if there had been knockout drops
in the coffee Natica had brewed for me. In any one of the forty-eight
hours ensuing, I might have rung up the Draytons' on the telephone,
and told her that I had come to my senses. But I didn't do anything of
the sort. Instead, I hunted up a newspaper chap I knew, and he put me
next to "Boiler-plate" Hartopp at the Metropole.

The bruiser wasn't as bad sort as I had fancied him. He was an
Englishman all right--a cut below middle class; you could tell that by
the way he clipped his initial h's off and on. I tried the ice at
first--it's always best when you don't know the exact thickness of
your frozen water. The way I tried it was to toss a flower or two at
Maisie Hartopp and her "Jo-Jo" song.

He rose sure enough, and it didn't take me a quarter hour to see that
the pug was really bowled out by the parcel of stage skirts who wore
his name on the Gaiety bills. This made it a warmer game than it might
have been otherwise, but I was in for it now, and I made the date.

No, I didn't mention Natica. Even a broken-to-harness shawl carrier
has a shred of cautious decency about him. But I gabbled lightly about
a certain feminine party who was keen on exemplars of the genuine
thing in the line of the manly art. Whereupon "Boilerplate" acquired a
pouter-pigeon chest, which fairly bulged over the bar railing, and
gave me his word of honor he'd be waiting at Forty-fourth Street about
eleven on Friday. He intimated, ere I left, that he'd bring his
festive accouterments with him. And he did.

We were a bit late--Natica and I. It must have been a quarter past the
hour when we drove up to Cherry's. I felt reasonably certain that if
Jack Drayton were guarding a champagne bucket by the corner table that
night, he was located then. In the offing, miserably self-conscious, a
crush hat on the back of his really fine head, and two or three small
locomotive headlights glinting from his broad expanse of evening
shirt, was "Boiler-plate" Hartopp. The flunkeys were regarding him
curiously, and once a waiter-captain came out and gave him what seemed
to be an unsatisfactory report.

I think the man was just about to take the count from sheer nerves,
when he made me out in the doorway. Natica winked--actually winked at
me--as he floundered over his share of the introduction. Looking at
her, and faintly divining her mood that night, I felt sorry for Jack,
for "Boiler-plate" and for myself. I left them for a moment and went
in to see about my table. Two minutes later I emerged, to face Drayton
and the Hartopp unloading from an electric hansom. The under-toned
remark of one of the footman came to me: "A bit behind schedule time
to-night, eh, Charley?"

There wasn't anything to do then, for they were fair inside.
"Boiler-plate" was finishing some elephantine pleasantry to Natica,
when he saw what I saw. A foolish grin rippled across his wide face.
"Hullo!" he said to the Hartopp, who looked properly peevish, and then
waspish, as she let her glance travel to Natica, who stood perfectly
poised and, I fancied, a trifle expectant. Drayton eyed them together
and in particular. The color streaked his forehead and faded out. Then
he saw me, and, although he never may have murder in his eyes again,
it was there at that choice moment. We weren't at all spectacular, you
mustn't think that. It was all very quick, and there were a lot of
people coming and going.

She was in instant command of the situation. Why shouldn't she have
been, having created it? And unexpectedly, suddenly as she had
encountered her quarry, equally suddenly she shifted her position,
without the time to take me into her confidence.

"Don't bother about our table, Percy," she said. "Now that we've met
friends, it will be jollier to dine _en famille_. It will be ever so
much nicer than eating in a stuffy restaurant, and the butler won't
have gone to bed yet. Run out and get us a theater wagon."

I went out to the carriage man in a trance. The gods, of a deed, were
fighting furiously on Natica's side--for she could not have foreseen
this vantage, readily as she swung her attack by its aid. Exquisite
torture, truly, to flaunt a husband's folly in his own face, over his
own mahogany, with the source of that folly looking on. Drayton's
bounden civility to his wife, and to the other woman, must make him
present himself as a target. He knew it, his wife knew it; as yet the
other woman but dimly suspected it--not being over subtle--and it
smote me in the face continuously. The puppet always feels the most
cut up at times like these. In a way, it is because his vanity is
being seared. Mine fairly crackled.

So we rattled off up the avenue. The only comfortable ones among us
were Natica and Hartopp. He seemed to think the occurrence a pleasant
bit of chance, and he wasn't in the least jealous, not he. I suppose
the wife had him schooled to her stage ways of doing things.

Once he turned to Jack with a chuckle and said: "This is a jossy bit
of luck, ain't it, each of us out with the other man's better?"

Natica laughed shamelessly. "You've such a keen appreciation of the
ridiculous, Mr. Hartopp," she said. And when "Boiler-plate" tried to
deny the insinuation, his wife nudged him on the arm and whispered:
"Shut up, Jim."

There isn't any use in stringing out the amateur theatricals the five
of us indulged in that night. The Drayton servants were too well
chosen to show any surprise at being told to put on a champagne supper
at midnight, and then go to bed before it was served. We sat at that
mahogany table until the candelabra were guttering, and each of us had
toyed more than he ought to have done with his glass. Natica acted as
if she were entertaining in earnest, and for the time being I actually
think she felt that she was. She got the Hartopp to sing her "Jo-Jo"
song, and the Hartopp actually did it as if she enjoyed it. Afterward
Natica induced "Boiler-plate" to tell about the time he mixed it up
with Fitzsimmons for ten rounds.

"It was a lucky punch that put me out," he kept repeating, almost
pathetically. "You know Fitz's lucky punch."

I might have seen what was in the wind if I hadn't been thick-headed,
what with the champagne and the rattles. "Boiler-plate" once started
on the ring, it was an easy transition.

"You've boxing gloves, haven't you, Jack?" asked Natica. "Get them for
Mr. Hartopp. Let's see him demonstrate Mr. Fitzsimmons' lucky punch."

Drayton turned without a word, and made as if to go upstairs. At the
door he turned. "Come on, Hartopp," he said. "I'll lend you a rowing
jersey."

"You clear a place in the drawing room, Percy," said Natica, briskly.
"Be sure that the shades are drawn. It would be awful to be raided by
the police." And I obediently piled the gilt parlor furniture in
corners.

The Hartopp fluttered anxiously around Natica the while. She was a
woman, and she was beginning to half understand. "Please," she said,
touching Natica's arm. "Jim's been drinking, and he's very rough when
he's been drinking. We've all been foolish, but only foolish,
remember. Jim and I sail for London next week. Just let us slip away
now, and forget all about it."

Natica laughed. Her eyes were on the door. "Remember, we've only been
foolish," repeated the Hartopp. "Only foolish, that's all." She went
to Natica and shook her arm roughly; there were feet upon the stairs.
"You silly," she snapped. "You ought to be glad you're married to a
gentleman. He's different from all the others. I can tell you that,
and I know. And I tell you that Jim's been drinking. Jack will----"

Natica's pose stiffened, but she did not look around. "Yes, _Jack_
will what?" she said, coldly.

The Hartopp flushed. "He'll be hurt," she finished, weakly. Then, as
the two from upstairs entered, she whispered: "He'll be hurt worse
than you are now."

The "Boiler-plate" looked very foolish in an old Yale rowing shirt,
with the "Y" stretched taut across his ponderous chest. He had a pair
of arms like a blacksmith. Jack Drayton had taken off his coat and was
in his shirt sleeves. He never looked at Natica, nor at the Hartopp;
but he tossed me a stopwatch and told me to keep time.

"We'll box five rounds, Percy," he said.

Natica clapped her hands. "What fun!" she cried. "Jack, you're boxing
against my champion."

The "Boiler-plate," who had been regarding the work at hand with much
gravity, again allowed his countenance to be relaxed by the old,
foolish grin. "Oh, I say," he interposed. "That's all right, but so
long as Maisie is in the room I'm fighting for her--she's my wife, you
know."

The Hartopp went to Natica with a softened gleam in her eyes; "I saw a
telephone in the hall," she said. "I'm going out to call a cab." I
heard her at the lever as they began to spar.

I don't believe I could get a job at timekeeping in a real mill. My
rounds must have been wonderfully and fearfully made. For I forgot all
about the stop-watch now and then, while I learned the truth of the
Hartopp's caution that "Boiler-plate" grew rough after he'd been
drinking a bit.

I knew that Jack had been a pretty fair boxer at the university, but,
after I had called time for the first round, the thing was to all
intents and purposes a genuine fight, and he was all in several times
over. The "Boiler-plate's" fists made a noise like a woodchopper.
Natica stood watching it with a queer, queer smile. But I saw--and I
saw it with a sinking at the heart, for I realized that I'd cherished
the guilty hope that things were not really going to be straightened
out--that with every mark of the "Boiler-plate's" glove, her husband
was coming back into his own.

She half sprang toward them when Jack went down with a crash, after I
had got them started on the last go. Drayton arose warily, the blood
spurting from a nasty cut over the eye, where the heel of the other's
glove had scraped. The "Boiler-plate" lumbered dangerously near just
then, and Natica, despite her, uttered a cry of warning.

I saw Jack turn away from the mountain in the Yale rowing shirt, and
his eyes met Natica's squarely for the first time since Cherry's.
Something he read in them made him laugh. This was only for the
fraction of a second, however, for a glove, with the _n_th power
behind it, lifted him a clear three feet into a stack of gilt chairs
near his own corner.

He didn't move, and the "Boilerplate" stared at him stupidly.

"Say, _you_ made him look at you," he said to Natica. "I didn't mean
to land on him blind."

But she did not heed him. She was among the gilt chairs, with Jack
Drayton's head upon her lap. The wheels of a cab stopped outside, and
the Hartopp was seizing her dazed lord and master. She had his coat
and bediamonded linen in her hands, and she clutched the
"Boiler-plate" firmly, leading him to the door.

"Say, Maisie, wait a minute," he protested. "I've got the swell's
college shirt on, and I didn't mean to land on him blind."

I opened the door, for she signaled with her eyes. "Come on, Jim,
there's a dear," she said. Between us we cajoled him into the coupe.
As I shut the door, she leaned to me and whispered: "Tell her for me
she's a cat--a cruel cat."

I handed the driver a bill. "You've a very bad memory, cabby, haven't
you?" I asked.

"Extremely bad, sir," said he, touching his hat.

"But, Maisie, I've got the swell's college shirt on," I heard
"Boiler-plate" insist. Then the wheels moved.

The Draytons were both upon their feet when I stole back into the
hall. I needed my hat and coat, or I shouldn't have set foot within
the house again that night. Jack, a bit staggery and holding to the
back of a chair, mopped the cut on his temple with a handkerchief, his
wife's handkerchief, in his free hand. Natica, a smear of red on the
front of her frock, stood beside him, with a strangely happy
expression in her face and pose. A great many things had been pushed
over the precipice which leads to forgetfulness, in the time I had
been out on the sidewalk busy with the cabby.

"Good-night, Percy," Jack called out.

"Good-night," said I, going to him to take his hand, for he was too
wobbly to have met me halfway.

"It's been a nightmare," said he. "We'll wake up to-morrow morning and
know that we've only been asleep."

"Yes," I agreed, but looking at the puffiness in his face, I thought
this was coming it a bit strong.

"Good-night, Percy," said Natica. And gently as she spoke the words,
it came to me with a sudden rush of conviction that I had ceased
fagging for the Drayton establishment for good--now.

"It was coming to me," said Jack. I was fiddling on the threshold
uncertainly.

"Hush, you foolish boy," whispered Natica, touching the cut on his
forehead, just once, with a very tender finger.

"Yes, it was coming to you," said I. I was glad that they perceived
the conviction in my speech.

And that is how I had my last supper with Natica.



BY THE FOUNTAIN

BY MARGARET HOUSTON


There was nothing in the aspect of the white brick mansion to indicate
that a tragedy was going on inside. A woman quietly dressed, her face
showing delicately above her dark furs, came lightly down the steps.
She paused a half second at the gateway and looked back, but there was
no hesitation in the glance.

"Jules," she said to the coachman, "you may drive to the park."

She did not look back as they drove away.

There should be no gossiping among the servants. Everything should be
done decently. From the park she could take the suburban and go
quietly into town. From there--the world was wide. There was a note on
his dresser, he would read it to-night and understand--no, not
understand, she had ceased to expect that of him--but he would
know--in some dull, stern way he would see--he would see. She caught
sight of her face in the little mirror of the brougham and lowered her
veil. Ah, it was a bitter, barren thing, this striving, striving,
endlessly striving to be understood. She had endured it for four years
and she was worn heartsick with the strain. Her soul cried out for
warmth, for life, for breathing room; was not one's first duty to
one's self after all? She turned suddenly--Jules stood by the open
door.

"Jules," she said, summoning a little severity of manner to
counterbalance the tremor in her voice, "you need not come back for
me. Jules," she added, turning again, "good-by--you have--you have
been very faithful."

The man touched his hat gravely and stood like a sentinel till she had
passed from sight among the trees.

It was late in November, and the maple boughs were a riot of red and
gold. The sky beyond them looked pale and far away, as though a white
veil had been drawn across its tender southern blue. She rejoiced now
that she had elected to spend this last hour in the frosty outdoor
gladness. With a little impulse of relief, she flung back her veil and
drew a deep breath. Then she locked her hands inside her muff and
began to walk briskly.

At the park's further end there was a bench, inside a sort of roofless
summerhouse, where on warm days the fountain played in a rainbow. She
knew the place well--she had sat there many times--with him and with
another---she would go there now and think her own thoughts. It was
hidden from the driveways, and the place was sweet with memories which
need not goad and pain her. She remembered the last time she had sat
there. It came back to her now with a sudden vividness. It was the day
she had refused--the other one. She remembered the dress she wore--a
thin little mull, cut low about the throat and strewn with pink
rosebuds. And it was on that same bench. She had done it very gently.
She had simply shown him her ring, and begged him with a little catch
of the breath to be her friend--always. His was the sort of heart a
woman might warm herself by all her life. He was tender and impulsive
like herself, and he had always understood--always. How could she have
forgotten for so long? Friends were rare--and he had promised to be
her friend through everything. Her friend! Had he realized how much
that meant?

Her step had grown very slow; she quickened it, lifting her head, and
reached the little plaza near the fountain, her face flushed with the
walk, the dark tendrils of her hair fallen from beneath her floating
veil.

It was very sad here now, and very lonely. She had not thought that
any place long familiar could look so strange. She paused, almost
dreading to enter the old retreat, clothed as it was in the withered
vine robes of dead springs. It was so like the rainbow fountain of her
own years, checked and desolate and still. A whirlwind of red and
yellow leaves swept about her feet. She started nervously, and,
opening the little gate, went in.

But the place was not deserted. A man sat on the bench. He rose as she
closed the gate, and when she would have withdrawn, he came toward her
and held out a hand.

"Oh," she said, feeling as if she were speaking in a dream, "is
it--where did you come from?"

"It seems very natural to see you here," he said.

His face was bronzed and he had more beard than formerly, but his eyes
were the same when he smiled.

"I did not dream you were anywhere near us," she went on, the wonder
deepening in her eyes. "I was--you seem part of my thoughts--I was
thinking of you only a moment ago."

"You were always kind," said the man. "Let me spread my overcoat on
the bench--the stone is cold. You have been walking, haven't you?"

"Yes. I don't walk much--it tires me easily." She sat down, loosening
the furs at her throat, Breathing quickly; her eyes searched his face,
half dazed, half questioning. "But where have you been?" she asked.
"Were you not in Africa?"

"Yes. I have been home only a few days--I don't wonder you are
surprised finding me here; people don't often sit in the park at this
time--but I find it cozier than the station across the way. I came out
on the hill early this noon to look up old friends, and I found I'd an
hour to wait."

"Am I not an old friend?" she asked. "Why have you not been to
see--us?"

"I hope I may count you such," said the man. "I knew your husband,
too, many years ago; but he said that you were ill; I saw him this
morning."

"I have been ill," she answered, quickly, and looked away, pushing
back her hair with the little movement he knew so well.

"I am sorry for that," he said. "I heard of your loss--I did not lose
sight entirely of my friends. Your little boy," he added, his voice
softening--"your little boy----"

"My baby died," she said.

"I know--I heard of it--I knew how keenly you could suffer. But I
knew, too, how brave you were----"

"Oh!" she said, catching the lace at her throat. "If he--if my baby
had lived--I might--I could----"

She checked herself with a sudden biting of the lip, but the tears
broke from her eyelids and she bowed her face.

"Ah," said the man, "I know--this is very hard; but it is something,
after all, to have felt--to have known. No loss can be so bitter as a
lack--a need."

There was a moment's silence between them.

"Tell me of yourself," she said, quietly, at length.

"There is little to tell. My life is very much the same. I have
neither wife nor child. Until a man finds those, he's a most
indifferent topic."

"You have never married?" she asked.

"No. Your life is, fuller, sweeter, better. Tell me of that. I used to
know your husband--did you know?"

"No," she said, "I did not know."

"Yes, we were chaps together, he and I, the same age, though he seemed
older--he was a plucky little fellow--you did not know him long, I
believe, before you married."

She was looking straight before her at the still fountain. "No," she
said, "I did not know him long."

"Ah," mused the man, "I know him well. He is a prince--one of God's
own. Somewhat quiet now, I find, but he was always rather reserved,
his life made him so; he was such a kid when he began to support them
all--the mother and the girls, you know. But he worked along, going to
night school--always ready, always courageous. My father used to say
he'd give all his four boys for that one. We never worked much, you
know. I suppose those who don't know him call him stern, but he has
carried a pretty heavy load all his life, and that sobers a man and
takes the spring out of him--of course you know, though."

But the woman said nothing. The man paused, regarding her a moment,
then he let his gaze follow hers.

"I was thinking of the fountain," she said; "how it once flashed and
sang and played--and now----"

"And now," said the man, "it is silent and cold--but the bright water
is there still, and when the spring comes back it will leap forth
again. It reminds me of my friend of whom we were just speaking--your
husband. All the glow and life are still in his heart, and you will
waken them. I said when you were married, that he needed just that--a
union with a rich, sunny nature like your own, to teach him all that
he had missed, and give back to him all that he had lost."

Her, lashes fell slowly, and she stroked her muff with one white hand.

The man spoke on, musingly. "I suppose even you do not realize the
good he does--the help he gives to others. He doesn't talk of
himself--he never did--even to you, I suppose? No? It is like him, he
was always so. It was--it was in the cemetery I saw him this morning.
I--when I come home--I always go there--my mother is there, you
remember--I found him by--by your little boy. He was talking, with the
sexton when I came up. It seems the grass didn't grow about the little
fellow's--bed. The man admitted that his own little folks were
accustomed to play there--the lot is shady and close to the
house--they bring their toys and frolic there till the grass is quite
worn away. You should have seen his face when the man told him that.
'Let them come,' he said; 'don't stop them; the grass doesn't matter.'
'The boy won't be so lonely,' said he to me. 'It seems so far away out
here--and he all by himself--he was such a little chap--I sort of feel
one of us ought to stay with him--at night.'"

The woman raised her eyes to his face. "Ah," she said, softly, "did
he--did he say that?"

"Yes--and it goes to show, what you doubtless know better than I, how
deep and true and tender he is beneath it all. Shan't I lay this coat
more about you? I think the air has grown chillier."

"No, thank you," she said, rising. "Yes, it is chillier."

The man rose also. She stood a moment--her hand on the little gate,
her eyes grown dark and deep. He waited at her side.

Her fingers sought the latch absently.

"Let me open it for you," he said. "Were you going into town, or did
you come for the walk?"

"I?" she said. "Oh, I told Jules not to come back for me--it's a short
walk home." She smiled up at him for the first time with her old-time
brightness. "And you," she said, "you haven't completed the round of
your 'old friends' yet--you will come with me."



BAS BLEU

By ANNA A. ROGERS

_Author of "PEACE AND THE VICES"_


That his wife was keeping something from him had been unpleasantly
apparent to Robert Penn for over two months; but what really wore upon
his easily disturbed nerves was the equally obvious fact that her
secret was the source of an unusual, unnatural, unseemly happiness,
which she took no pains to disguise.

Robert was the very much overworked junior partner in the prosperous
law firm of Messrs. Flagg, Bentnor & Penn; and the question of his
taking a much-needed rest had been gravely discussed by the other two
partners more than once during the year; but the mere suggestion of it
put him into such a tantrum that they let it drop, trusting to a
redistribution of the work of the office to lighten somewhat Penn's
burden. So all the fashionable divorcées--hitherto Bentnor's
specialty--were turned over to the junior partner, as a slight means
of professional diversion.

But he threw himself into the cases of his clients, male and female,
with the same old unsparing fervor, and Flagg and Bentnor--the latter
was Penn's brother-in-law--raised their eyebrows and shook their heads
behind his back.

What first drew Robert's attention to his wife's secret was the sudden
inexplicable condoning of his own small negligences and ignorances,
which had once been brought to book. So accustomed does the happily
married husband of the day become to certain domestic requisitions
that the withdrawal of them is apt to arouse his suspicions at once.

These jealous doubts, later on, ran the whole gamut from the postman
to the rector of Mrs. Penn's church, but at first all Robert feared
was that she had become indifferent to him. That, after five happy
years, she should be sweetly serene when he suddenly remembered that
he had bought tickets for the theater, just as they had settled down
after dinner for a quiet evening, Mrs. Penn looking prettily domestic
in a lilac tea gown! Nothing but the established repugnance of a
self-made man to wasting four dollars, even to save his pride, made
him uncover his delinquency--and he held his breath till the storm
should pass. But no storm followed his confession. Instead of which,
she sprang to her feet, laughing:

"Oh, I'm wild to see that play! It has a deep, ethical purpose. Can
you give me six minutes to scratch off this gown and bundle myself
into another?"

It was so unusual, and she made such a delightful picture standing in
the doorway, that he felt that the occasion deserved recognition.

"You may have twelve minutes to dress in, Helen. I'll call a cab."

"Oh, Rob, how lovely!" and off she flew.

After a moment spent in the happy digestion of this delightful
antenuptial way of exculpating a really outrageous masculine default,
it slowly dawned upon him, as he arose and emptied the ash tray into
the library fire, that it was most unusual, extraordinary, startling!
There was a time when she would have made a scene, and either they
would have spent the evening apart at home in silence, or together at
the theater in a still more painful silence.

At that instant was born in Robert Penn's already overwrought brain
the thought that his wife no longer loved him!

Robert loathed all theatergoing. The mere physical restraint was
torture to so active, high-strung a man, but when it came to a problem
play---- He not unnaturally considered that it represented the full
measure of his devotion to his wife, to spend an evening beside her
listening to the same old jumble of human motives, human passions,
that had occupied him all day long. Hate, jealousy, revenge, greed,
infidelity were the staples of his trade, as it were; the untangling
of law, if not always equity, from the seething mass was his _raison
d'être_, and moreover paid his coal bills. That Helen was almost
morbidly fond of the theater had long been his heaviest cross.

His thin, dark face looked very worn as he hunched himself into his
overcoat in the hall, and, looking up, saw Helen running down the
stairs, just as she used to do in the dear old sweetheart days,
chattering merrily the while:

"Talk of Protean artists! Vaudeville clamor for me some day--you'll
see! I'll be five characters in twenty-five minutes, and no one of
them Helen Penn!"

And then she looked so altogether exactly the way he liked his wife to
look, that he whispered something quite absurdly lover-like to her as
he put her into the cab. She laughed in an excited, detached way and
made no response in kind, and again his mood changed and a chilly fog
of vague suspicion closed in upon him.

At the theater he leaned back in his seat and watched Helen with eyes
that began to reinventory her personality, seeking to comprehend this
strange exhilaration that had recently uplifted her out of all her
environment.

Once, between the second and third acts, Helen asked Robert for a
pencil and made a note on the margin of her program, which she
laughingly refused to let him read. It was all that was needed to
crystallize his resentment, and muttering something about "a whiff of
tobacco," he got up and went to the lobby.

It so happened that Mr. Flagg, the dignified senior member of their
successful firm, was strolling about alone with a cigarette, and after
greetings between the two Flagg said, in a low tone, to Robert:

"It's all up with your side of the Perry case! The evidence in
rebuttal will knock you higher than Haman. I've just got hold of
it--I'll explain in the morning. It seems that your pretty client has
been hoodwinking _caro sposo_ for two years--all the time looking like
a Botticello angel, all pure soul and sublimated thought, dressed
always in shades of gray--pearl gray, Penn!" laughed Flagg; "a dove
with the heart of a---- There's the bell! Come down early to-morrow,
there's work ahead for us all."

The first thing that Robert did as he sank into his seat was to note
the shade of Helen's gown--it was a dull lead color!

If jealousy is once allowed so much as a finger tip within the portals
of a heart, the chances are that within an inconceivably short time he
will be in entire possession, sprawled all over the place, yelling for
corroboration and drinking it thirstily until madness comes.

Every little unrelated incident in Robert's home life fell suddenly
into place under suspicion's nimble fingers. Up to that time he had
been reasonably sure of the integrity of his hearthstone. Only within
those eight weeks had these new symptoms been developing in the
conduct of the wife of his bosom, the mother of his little daughter,
Betty. Her curiously happy exaltation, her absentmindedness, her long,
smiling reveries; the look of flushed excitement on her pretty face,
the odd impression of breathlessness; the muttering of strange words
in her sleep, followed by bursts of almost ribald laughter. Could it
be possible that she was leading a double life, like that other
woman?---a life to which he had no latchkey?

What was that devilish thing in "The Cross of Berny"--from Gautier's pen,
if he remembered rightly, among those four royal collaborateurs--"To
call a woman--my wife! What revolting indiscretion! To call
children----" But the thought of little Betty hushed even his mad
imaginings.

However, it was his business to fathom all this mystery at once. An
idealist was a blind ass--look at Perry!

Penn did not rest well that first night after the problem play, nor
for many nights to come.

One morning a question of law came up at the office that made it
expedient that one of the firm should go at once to Washington to
consult a supreme authority, and Robert was sent, that he might have
the benefit of even that small change of scene. He rushed home to
throw a few things into a bag and kiss his wife and Betty good-by. He
opened the front door with his latchkey as usual, and as usual called
out:

"Helen, where are you?"

There was a low cry, the shuffle of feet across a hardwood floor, the
bang of a door closed quickly, and then in a voice toned to sudden
_insouciance_ and overdoing it:

"Here I am, Rob, in the library."

He stood frozen stiff for an instant, as his legal experience
whispered to him all the possibilities hidden in those few sounds. The
main thing was to keep his head! He went to the library and found
Helen sitting alone in his own especial chair, peacefully reading
Boswell's "Life of Johnson," as he was quick to notice as he passed
behind her.

Although her attitude was one of rather sleepy repose, there were
signs of a hasty rearrangement of the _mise en scène_, which
corroborated the aural evidence which reached him in the hall. Near
the door to the reception room was a piece of paper; he slipped on a
round "Carteret" pencil as he went to his desk in a silence that he
felt that he could not break, without also breaking a few other
things.

Helen sat watching him in surprise--not an altogether genuine
surprise, he thought, after one glance--thank Heaven, he was an expert
in moral turpitudes and sinuosities--the woman did not live who could
deceive him!

"Did you forget something, Rob? Why didn't you telephone? I could have
sent it to you," she asked, simply. Ah, that accursed simplicity!
Well, she would find that he was not simple, that was one sure thing.

"No, Helen, I forgot nothing--I never do forget anything," he said,
with sullen meaning. "Where's Betty?"

"It's a fair day and it's eleven; of course she is out in the park,"
replied Helen, smiling.

He smiled too, but in such a way that she sat forward in her chair
with dilated eyes, into which Robert read a rising fear.

"Dear, what is it? What is wrong?"

"Wrong? Who said wrong? _I_ didn't," he found himself saying, greatly
to his disappointment, for suspicions are useless until graduated
into--evidence; so he hastened to explain his errand; sorting over
some papers at his desk meanwhile. All the time his mind was intent
upon one thing only--the possession of that piece of paper lying near
the reception-room door.

He walked toward the cabinet in the corner to fill his pockets with
cigars; the paper was lying just behind him, and as he turned he would
stoop and pick it up.

He heard a slight noise behind him, and, wheeling-swiftly, discovered
Helen creeping toward the paper, her hand already outstretched. With
one quick movement he snatched it from the floor, and forced himself
to hold it aloft and laugh a little. He might have spared himself all
that finesse, for she ran to him, clinging to his arm, laughing,
coaxing, pouting, begging him to give it to her--unread!

"Rob, you'll break my heart if you read that. Please not now--later
perhaps--some day I will explain; please, dear!"

"If the contents of this paper are sufficiently serious to break your
heart if I do read it, perhaps mine will be broken if I don't. So, as
a measure of self-preservation----" He put the piece of note paper
into his pocket. His face was white, his pulse was galloping like mad,
and yet he managed a rather ghastly smile into her face, upraised and
pleading.

"Face of a Botticello angel!" he thought, and steeled his heart
against her.

She sank into a chair half laughing and yet with an introverted
expression--"_recueillement d'esprit_," he thought to himself,
bitterly. Brushing her hair in passing lightly with his lips, he left
the room and presently the house. When she discovered that he had gone
without again seeing her, she flew to the telephone and held a long
incoherent talk with some one she not infrequently called "Ben, dear,"
to whom she confided certain undefined fears about her husband and her
future. A suggestion of a trip to Europe from the other end of the
telephone met with her unbounded gratitude and enthusiasm. After
urging haste, she left the colloquy almost her old smiling self, and
went to the library, where she did not continue the reading of
Boswell's "Life of Johnson," but went thence directly to the reception
room--into which Robert had peered before leaving the house--and,
stooping, she drew from under the lounge many sheets of paper, and was
soon lost in their perusal.

Robert had been forced to wait until he was settled on the train for
Washington before he found time to read the note whose possession had
caused Helen such perturbation. It was evidently the middle page of a
letter, a single sheet, note size, torn from a pad. The handwriting
was unquestionably masculine, entirely unfamiliar to Penn, hurried and
full of what Helen would have called--temperament.

After one glance, the blood rushed to his head, and his hot eyes
devoured again and again these words:

    Since our interview yesterday, and in regard to that
    irresistible scene of the blue stockings, I am not willing to
    let it drop.

    However, I should like to suggest abbreviation, and I fear I
    shall have to ask you to change the shade to a dull bluish gray.
    If you will come to my office in the morning, I feel sure we can
    soon arrange a climax which shall embody your own wishes and
    mine. As to the effect--the after-effect--of her husband's death
    on H. P.'s character, attention will be diverted from that by
    the previous gossip about----

And there it ended.

The initials, H. P.--Helen Penn--were the tacks that fastened
conviction to Robert's consciousness; conviction of an intrigue of
long standing and unspeakable familiarities--all these verbal
obscurities were only too sickeningly familiar to him, fresh from the
Perry letters--but here was more!

Apparently a coolly plotted murder--one ray of light only his eyes
clung to--the "climax" was yet _in limine_!

In a well-built city house the insertion of a latchkey and opening of
a front door between ten and eleven o'clock at night are noises easily
covered by the urban roar of even one of the lateral streets of a
great city. Robert entered and closed the door with--he assured
himself--no greater minimum of noise than is instinctive toward
midnight with even a sober married man. Among all the emotions which
had seethed through his mind during the past few hours, a reaction was
at that moment in possession of him, in favor of his wife, who had
been to him a well of sweet water through all those years. If evil was
drawing near to her, why push her toward it? Surely a finer thing
would be to warn and protect her, to beat down underfoot his own
wounded _ego_ and win her back!

The electric light in the hall was burning, and he went directly to
the library. Touching an electric button near the door, the room was
flooded with light, and there before his weary eyes, hanging over the
back of his Morris chair, was--Heaven help him!--a pair of long
delft-blue silk stockings! Robert's agony was black upon him, his mind
once more full of crawling, writhing suspicions; his mouth and throat
were parched, his pulse beats filled the world.

Then into the silence fell Helen's laugh from the floor above, a long
peal of mirth that spoke clearly of companionship. He had not made a
life study of psychic differentiation for nothing--Helen was not
alone! From that instant, all pretenses were abandoned, Robert was a
sleuthhound on a keen scent.

With his head well forward, he crept up the carpeted stairway. The
upper hall light was burning low; from his wife's "sewing room," as it
was called, came the sound of voices. The door was ajar, and from the
crevice a strong light flooded out into the twilight of the hall. Now
entirely mad with jealousy, he softly glided toward the crack, but
before his eyes could further feed his torture, his ears served up a
plenitude, in Helen's voice--that dear, clear, sweet voice that had
sung his child to sleep and----

"Mr. Stillingfleet--my dear Mr. Stillingfleet, if I may be allowed the
liberty----"

"My dearest creature," interrupted a deep voice, muffled, almost as if
by intent disguised, "if it be a liberty to call me dear, I find
myself craving the instant fall of kingdoms."

"La, sir, you confuse me quite!" There was a rustle of silken skirts
and Helen laughed again.

Peering cautiously in, this sight met Robert's bloodshot eyes:
Helen--or at least the fantastic figure which had her voice--stood by
the mantelpiece. The hair was high-rolled and powdered, in it two
nodding white plumes; she wore a yellow brocade gown strangely cut,
long black mitts on her hands, which waved a huge fan coquettishly at
a man--a creature in the costume of Goldsmith's day--who stood near
her, bowing low. On his head was a wig, powdered and in queue, his
face a mask of paint and powder and patches. He was clad in a huge
waistcoat, long coat, knee breeches and hose--_blue_ hose--upon his
comely legs! Putting out his hand toward Helen's, he said with
sickening affectation, seizing her hand and raising it to his lips:

"It's high time we were off to Montague's, my fair H. P. 'Time flies,
death urges, knells call, heaven invites!'"

For an instant a very ancient and honorable desire to enter that room
and violently change the face of several things dominated the
listening husband; that he did not marked the high tide of his nervous
breakdown. A sudden reaction, common to the neurasthenic, swept over
him, and his soul withdrew in anguish from the sickening horror of the
discovery. He crept softly down the stairs, seized hat and coat and
staggered out into the night.

It was five days before Benjamin Bentnor's best detective work
succeeded in finding his brother-in-law in a hall bedroom at an
obscure hotel in Washington, for a strong impulse of duty to be
performed had landed Robert there, although he had completely lost
sight of his mission. When Ben found him, he was seated on the edge of
the bed, his head bowed in his hands.

Bentnor's gentleness toward him would have shown a saner man that his
condition was serious; but it took a physician to do that in the end,
and a year of rest and travel to cure him.

At first, however, all Bentnor could do was to sit about rather
helplessly and chatter in an effort to break through Robert's gloom.
The second day after he found his brother-in-law, he was at his wits'
end to find further subjects for cheerful conversation, until toward
evening he had a sudden inspiration!

To be sure it was Helen's secret, but surely she would not object to
anything which might serve to arouse her poor husband's interest,
however slightly, and bring him to the point of consenting to return
to his home.

Bentnor was short, stout, slightly bald, and somehow radiated comfort,
even while sitting astride of a cane-bottomed chair, and smoking
another man's brand of cigarettes, in a one-windowed room nine feet by
ten and a half.

"Helen Bentnor Penn's a great girl, isn't she, Rob?" No response came
from the huddled figure on the bed.

"Of course, all the Bentnors have brains--you must have observed that
for yourself; but she's the first literary genius among us, although
I've always felt that all I needed was leisure--however, that's
neither here nor there. Helen has arrived, and shall have the honor.
Why, the editor who accepted that clever little _lever de rideau_ of
hers and brings it out in this month's issue of his magazine, was
downright enthusiastic--can you imagine an editor having any
enthusiasm left in him, Penn? I can't, for one. Must have a
magnificent flow of gastric juice! However that may be, this chap has
taken Helen up _con amore_, and written advice as to some changes, and
given her interviews and all that. Most amateurs have to have several
'fittings,' I suppose. And then the check he sent her--by Jove, even I
was surprised!"

Robert looked up for the first time, and turned a haggard face, blank
with wonder, toward his wife's brother. Ben laughed.

"Well, I suppose it is a bit of a shock to a man to find that his
wife's brains have a market value." He was greatly encouraged by
Penn's aroused interest and hurried on with his tale:

"It strikes me I oughtn't to be telling you this, Rob, for it was
Helen's birthday surprise for you. She's been in an ecstasy over it
for about eight weeks. Don't you tell her I've told you! Promise!"

"Trust me," murmured Penn, and a smile twitched at his face.

"Such plottings and plans and secrecy! I've been in it up to the neck
from the first. On your birthday--somehow she's in love with you yet,
Penn--Lord, how does a man do that?--for breakfast she was to show you
the magazine within whose fold is to be found her first literary
lambkin; for luncheon--for you were to spend the day at home--she was
going to give you the check! Generous little beggar, Nell! She said
she had never been able to really give you anything before--she had
only bought with your money and forced upon you things you didn't
want. Then that night after dinner she and I were to act her two-part
play--we've been at it for weeks, tooth and nail, powder and
patches----"

"_You_ and Helen!" gasped Robert.

"Great Scott! who on earth else?--the editor?" laughed Bentnor, little
dreaming what the few words meant to the distraught man before him.
"Perhaps you think I can't do that sort of thing! It's in our blood,
the love of the buskin. The fact is, I've always had my suspicions
that in the time of Charles the Second--well, never mind. We had our
last final farewell dress rehearsal the night you came on here. I tell
you I'm great in it. Helen, to be sure, does fairly well as _Hester
Piozzi_, but wait till you see me as _Mr. Stillingfleet_! You know he
was the fellow whose grayish-blue stockings gave the name for all time
to 'blue-stocking' clubs. He and Dr. Johnson were always buzzing
around the literary women of that day, the pretty D'Arblay, the
dignified Mistress Montague of Portman Square, and the great Piozzi
herself--of course, you remember?"

"Yes, I remember," whispered Robert, his face once more hidden, but a
great peace possessing him. "Ben," he cried, almost joyfully, "what's
the title of Helen's play?"

"_Bas Bleu_," said Bentnor, concealing his triumph at his own tactics
in the lighting of his twenty-third cigarette.

Robert groaned, and his head again drooped in unspeakable humiliation.
And in that moment he made up his mind that no one should ever share
his guilty secret. To make a pathetic appeal to Helen, dwelling upon
his love, his doubts, his torturing jealousy, was one thing; quite
another to tell that hopelessly humorous, refusing-to-be-pathetic
story of those ridiculous _bas bleus_--they dangled everywhere from
every point of his story; flying, pirouetting, circling and
pin-wheeling in a psychic _pas seul_! It was impossible for even a
member of the firm of Flagg, Bentnor & Penn to be impressive. Let them
call it a nervous breakdown, his lips were forever sealed.

Then the thought of his home came to him like distant music. He saw
himself opening his door; he saw a small ball of white coming down the
stairs backward in a terrifying fury of speed, the little, fat,
half-bare legs and a swirl of tiny skirts all that was visible of his
wee daughter coming to greet him. He saw himself catch her off the
last step and lift her in his arms, burying his face against the
baby's hot, panting little body, then he heard Helen's voice and the
sound of her scurrying feet!

Robert sprang up, and with a burst of wild laughter, shouted:

"Ben, let's go home! I believe you're dead right--I've got nervous
prostration, and I've got it bad!"



THE VAGABOND


  Your arms have held me till they seemed my home.
    Your heart denies me; and the spells I weave
  Are powerless to hold you. You must roam,
    And I must, grieving, hide the thing I grieve.
  Oh, love that does not love me, will there come
    No time when I am all too dear to leave?

  Is life so rich without me? Will there be
    No ache of loneliness? No sudden sting
  Of loss--of longing? Will your memory
    Dwell on no passionate, sweet, familiar thing,
  Soft touch or whispered word? Are you so free
    From any ties but those new days may bring?

  So much I miss you that I do not dare
    To let my heart turn backward, nor my eyes
  Search the wide future that is swept so bare
    Of all I coveted. Yet deeplier lies
  Than any misery of dull despair
    The fear that you may some day come to prize
  The things I stand for, when I am not there
    To fill your needs with all my sympathies.

                                                 M. M.



THE DOING OF THE LAMBS

By SUSAN SAYRE TITSWORTH


"Well, so long, fellows," said the Goat, and rose to go.

"Good-night, old man," responded the cheerful chorus of his hosts. As
the Goat went out into the hall there was silence in the room he had
left, which lasted until after he had opened the hall door and had had
time to close it. But instead of closing it, he merely bumped noisily
against it, and rattled the knob, and stood listening. As if his
departure were a signal, a roar of laughter from within followed his
stratagem. One voice rose above the noise.

"By George!" it said. "Isn't he the limit?"

The Goat closed the door silently and mounted the stairs to his own
room in the apartment above. His suspicions were confirmed.

They had dragged him in with them as they all came over together from
dinner at the Commons, to tell them some more of his wild Western
tales. It was not the first time they had done it. They were a select
little group of Eastern men, two or three years out of Harvard or
Yale, in rather good repute with the faculty of the Law School for the
quality of their work, and known among their fellow students as the
Lambs, from their somewhat ostentatious habit of flocking together.

The Goat was from the West, a graduate of a prairie college of
Moravian foundation, an athletic, good-looking young fellow in
badly-fitting clothes, who appeared in no way ashamed to admit that he
had never before been east of the Mississippi, and was frankly
impressed by New York. His _gaucherie_ was not ungraceful; there was
an attractive impertinence in his cheerful assertions that his
Moravian grandparents had desired him not to smoke or drink until he
had completed his education and was earning his own living, and that,
consequently, he knew tobacco only by sight and smell, and had
contented himself with looking on the wine when it was red. There was
one vacant seat at the table, which the Lambs occupied at the Commons;
with an eye to future entertainment they had invited the Goat to join
them, and in the two months since the term began, the arrangement had
given general satisfaction.

They had undertaken the education of the Goat; they set him up to the
theater, with supper at the Black Cat or Pabst's afterward, and lay
awake nights howling at the recollection of his naïve and shrewd
comments; they took him walking to show him the historical landmarks
of New York, extemporizing the landmarks and the history as they went
along, to the delighted gratitude of the Goat, who lamented that
Arizona had no associations. They egged him on to tell stories of his
prowess with lasso and lariat, of which he was boyishly proud, and
listened with flattering attention to his relations of grizzly hunts
and Greaser raids. He usually told these experiences as happening to a
friend of his, and blushed and looked sheepish when they accused him
of modesty. In return for the pleasure he afforded them, they coached
him in first-year law, and gave him pointers about the professors'
idiosyncrasies, feeling well repaid by his enthusiastic reports of his
good progress, and of the encouraging impression he was making on his
instructors.

And, finally, they were teaching him to smoke. After much urging, he
had consented to try it, and had accomplished part of a cigar. Then he
had suddenly become silent, looked at it intently for a few moments,
and then, murmuring an indistinct excuse, had retired with
precipitation. He appeared at breakfast the next morning,
good-naturedly accepted all the chaffing he got, and bravely essayed
another that evening.

That had been a week or more before. On this particular night he had
successfully smoked a whole Chancellor without growing pale or letting
it go out, treating them meanwhile to a vivacious narrative of a
drunken gambler who had been run out of a little mining camp one
stormy winter night, and had taken refuge with a friend of the Goat,
also caught out in the blizzard, in a cave which proved to be the
domicile of a big hibernating grizzly not thoroughly hibernated; at
the close, he had, as usual, protested but not denied when they
politely insisted on identifying his friend with himself. Then he had
torn himself away to study common-law pleading in the suspicious
manner previously described.

There was, however, no sign of resentment or of injured feelings in
his face as he lit the gas in his own room. On the contrary, he
grinned cheerfully at his reflection in the glass, and, pulling open
his top drawer, took from the remote corner an unmistakably
sophisticated brier and a package of Yale Mixture, and proceeded to
light up. He grinned again as his teeth clamped on the stem, and
jerked it into the corner of his mouth with a practiced twist of his
tongue. Then he picked up a small and well-thumbed book lying half
hidden among his law books and papers, and glanced over a few pages.

"I did that pretty well," he said, approvingly. "Pity those babes
don't know their Bret Harte any better. Guess I'll ring in some of
Teddy's '97 trip on 'em to-morrow night." And then he sat down to
study.

The next day the Lamb from Boston announced that his cousin and her
mother, who were passing through town on their way home from three
years of wandering abroad, were coming to call on him at four.
Therefore, at two, he and his brother Lambs began to prepare his room,
and the only other one that was visible from the front door of their
apartment, for the fitting reception of his relatives. This
preparation consisted largely in moving all presentable articles in
all the rooms into these two, and banishing all unpresentable into the
most remote of the other rooms, and shutting that door. The Lamb from
Brookline inspected the pictures and photographs, straightening the
first, retiring some of the second, and adding a few of both borrowed
from the other members of the flock, and arranged to suit his own
artistic fancy; the Lamb from Philadelphia polished off the cups and
saucers with a clean towel; then the Lamb from Boston took the towel
and dusted the mantel. After their labors, they attired themselves in
their "glad rags," and sat in readiness behind their half-closed
doors, while the Boston Lamb laid out two or three law tomes on his
couch, and assumed a studious attitude in his Morris chair. Promptly
at four appeared the Cousin and the Aunt.

They were courteously impressed by the Lamb's bachelor quarters and
the appurtenances thereof, nor was the significance of the "Cases on
Quasi-Contracts," which the Lamb ostentatiously hustled away, lost
upon them. The Cousin insisted on looking at it, and her comments were
of so sprightly a character and so difficult to return in kind, that
the Lamb, conscious of the open doors, and not desiring to subject the
_esprit de corps_ of his friends to a very severe strain, called in
his brother Lambs to meet his relatives.

They attended promptly, three personable young men in irreproachable
afternoon dress, overjoyed to find the Cousin as pretty as her voice
was musical, and as entertaining as her skillful jolly of the Boston
Lamb had led them to expect. In ten minutes the flock was hers to
command. The Philadelphia Lamb took down from its new position on the
Boston Lamb's wall the cherished Whistler of the Brookline Lamb, and
presented it to her; the Boston Lamb begged her acceptance of the
quaint little Cloisonné cup which she admired as she drank from it,
and which was the property of the Philadelphia member; the Albany
Lamb, on the plea that everything of value had already been abstracted
from him to make the Boston Lamb's room pretty for her, offered her
himself, and was in no way cast down when she declined him on the
ground that he was too decorative to be truly useful. But in the
middle of the recrimination that followed this turning state's
evidence on the part of the Albany Lamb, the Cousin inquired:

"You are all law students--do any of you know a man named Freeman who
is studying up here?" The flock looked at each other and smiled.
Freeman was the Goat's name.

"She doesn't mean the Goat," explained the Boston Lamb, hastily. "We
know a first-year man named Freeman," he added, turning to her, "but
he's a wild and woolly Westerner, who'd never been off the plains of
Arizona till he came here. There may be others, but we're educating
only one."

"Oh, no," said the Cousin. "The Mr. Freeman I mean is the son of the
consul-general to Japan--he's a San Francisco man, and he's been
everywhere. We met him first in Cairo, and then we played together in
Yokohama, and came as far as Honolulu together, last spring. He
decided to study law in New York, and I know he lives up here
somewhere."

"Such a nice young fellow!" contributed the Aunt.

"Don't know him," said the flock.

"We'll ask the Goat about him," suggested the Philadelphia Lamb.

"We've been so engrossed with our own pet Freeman that we haven't had
time for any other," volunteered the Brookline Lamb.

"It's rather strange," began the Cousin, and then interrupted herself.
"Anyway, I hope you'll all look him up; I am sure he will be very
grateful." The flock acknowledged the bouquet by appropriate
demonstrations.

"Our acquaintance with his namesake verges on the altruistic, also,"
ventured the Albany Lamb.

"I should not like, myself, to be the victim of your altruism," said
the Cousin, with a slow glance that took them all in. In the midst of
the delighted expostulations that greeted this shot, the apartment
bell rang sharply. The Brookline Lamb, being nearest, went to open the
door, and, having opened it, remarked in a subdued but unmistakably
sincere manner:

"Well, I'll be----" A saving recollection of the Cousin and the Aunt
brought him to a full stop there, but everybody looked up, and for a
moment the flock was speechless. Not so the Goat, for it was the Goat
who stood there, arrayed in the afternoon panoply of advanced
civilization, with a cigarette between his fingers and the neatest of
sticks under his arm.

"Beg pardon!" he said. "Didn't realize--regret exceedingly--should
never have intruded--why, Miss Brewster!" And with an instant
combination of high hat, stick and cigarette that showed much
practice, he came in to shake hands with the Cousin, who, suddenly
displaying a brilliant color, had risen and taken a step toward him.

"What luck! what bully good luck!" he went on. "Mrs. Brewster, how do
you do? This is like old Cairo days. Boston, you brute, why didn't you
mention this at luncheon?"

The flock choked; this was from the Goat, who had unobtrusively
consumed most of the plate of toast at noon while the Lambs were
discussing the visit of the Cousin and the Aunt. The Albany Lamb rose
to the occasion feebly.

"There seems to have been some mistake," he said. The Goat put his hat
on the bust of the young Augustus, and sat down on the divan beside
the Cousin.

"Well, now I've happened in, mightn't I have some tea?" he inquired,
genially. "No lemon, if you please," and he pointed a suggestive
finger at the rum. In dazed silence the Brookline Lamb hastened to
serve him, while the Cousin said, with a peculiar little smile
tightening the corners of her mouth:

"I thought it was strange that you didn't know Mr. Freeman."

"We really don't," said the Boston Lamb, making a late recover. "I'm
not at all sure that he is a fit person for you to associate with--all
we know of him is what he has told us himself."

"That's all right," said the Goat, impudently. "And, anyway, I didn't
come to see you this time, old man."

"What has he told you?" demanded the Cousin, as the Boston Lamb gasped
with impotent rage.

"A series of Munchausen adventures," returned the Philadelphia Lamb,
vindictively. "Six Apaches and three and a half Sioux with one throw
of the lasso."

"Won out in a hugging match with a ten-foot grizzly," added the Albany
Lamb.

"Nonsense!" said the Cousin, interrupting the Brookline Lamb's sarcasm
in regard to nerve cures. "Hasn't he told you about the mob at
Valladolid? Or about San Juan?" The flock gazed with unutterable
reproach at the Goat, who sipped his tea with a critical frown, and
observed, pleasantly:

"That happened to a friend of mine."

The Lambs surrendered at discretion, and roared. The Cousin glanced at
the Aunt, and they rose.

"We have had the most attractive time," said the Cousin, prettily, as,
suddenly sobered by this calamity, the Lambs protested in a body
against her going. "It has been charming--and I am so interested in
your experiment in altruism." The Lambs collapsed under the _ex
cathedra_ nature of the smile she bestowed upon them, as she turned
and held out a frank hand to the Goat. "I am glad you happened in,"
she said. "I mailed a note to you this morning--you will doubtless get
it to-night. Come and see us."

"The Holland, isn't it?" said the Goat, holding her hand, and then he
made a short speech to her that sounded to the paralyzed Lambs like a
Chinese laundry bill, but which evidently carried meaning to the
Cousin, for she flushed and nodded. Then she turned back to the flock,
who by this time, with touching unanimity, were showering devoted
attentions on the Aunt. At the elevator they were all graciously
dismissed except the Boston Lamb, who alone went down to put his
relatives into their cab.

"Come and see us, all of you," called the Cousin, cordially, as the
car began to descend.

"How soon?" begged the Albany Lamb, anxiously.

"Any time, after to-night," returned the Cousin, and was lowered from
their sight.

Then with one accord they fell upon the Goat, and bore him into the
apartment for condign punishment, regardless of his indignant
assertions of his right as a citizen to a trial by a jury of his
peers. When the Boston Lamb came leaping up the stairs to add his
weight to the balancing of accounts, he found a riotous crowd.

"Just because my luggage was derailed and burned up out in the Kansas
deserts," the Goat was saying, "and I struck New York in a suit of
hobo clothes from Topeka--oh, you fellows are easy marks!"

"Where are your Moravian grandparents?" demanded the Albany Lamb.

"Don't know," said the Goat, unfilially. "They died before I was born.
They weren't Moravians, anyway."

"See here!" The Boston Lamb jerked him to his feet with one hand and
assaulted him with the other. "What was that stuff you were reeling
off to my cousin? As her nearest male relative, geographically
speaking, I insist on an explanation."

"That was Japanese," said the Goat, with a grin, and immediately
favored the crowd with several more doubtfully emphatic remarks in the
same tongue.

"I pass!" said the Boston Lamb, meekly. "But one thing more. Are you
engaged to my cousin?"

"How very impertinent!" returned the Goat. "Why didn't you ask her?"

The Boston Lamb inserted four determined fingers between the Goat's
collar and the back of his neck, and in view of the attitude of mind
and body of the other Lambs, the Goat saw fit to yield.

"Not exactly, as yet," he admitted. "But to-night--I hope----"

"After which we are invited to call--oh, you brute!" groaned the
Albany Lamb, and started for him. But the Goat had pulled himself
loose, and gained the door. He stopped, however, to pull an oblong
package from his coat pocket.

"Here," he said, tossing it toward the crowd. "The smokes are on me
tonight. Sorry I can't be here to assist, for they're a distinct
advance on your husky old Chancellors. Also, there's a case of fairly
good booze downstairs that the janitor is taking care of until you
call for it. So long, fellows!" And with a wave of his hat the Goat
departed.



THE UNATTAINED


  A gem apart
  In the unreached heart
    Of a shy and secret place;
  Swift-winged in flight
  As a meteor's light
    In the far-off field of space.

  More sweet and clear
  To the spirit's ear
    Than a wave-song on the beach;
  Like the baffling blue
  Of a mountain view,
    Or a dream just out of reach.

  Like light withdrawn
  By a rain-swept dawn,
    When the clouds are wild and gray;
  Like a wind that blows
  Through the orchard close
    Ever and ever away.

                               WILLIAM HAMILTON HAYNE.



THE FLATTERER

By GEORGE HIBBARD


Miss Miriam Whiting languidly descended the broad terrace steps. If
her slow progress suggested bodily weariness, her whole bearing was
not less indicative of spiritual lassitude. She allowed her hand to
stray indolently along the balustrade, as with the other she held the
lace-covered sunshade at a careless angle over her shoulder.

On the lawn the guests from outside were gathered. Collected in groups
or wandering in pairs, they dotted the grounds. As one of those
staying in the house, she appeared as a semi-official hostess with a
modified duty of seeing that all went as well as possible. Her head
ached slightly, as she began to discover. Even the light of the late
afternoon was trying. The dress which she expected to wear had proved
too dilapidated, and she had been obliged to put on one she wished to
save for more important occasions. The invitation which she needed for
the satisfactory conduct of her modish itineracy from country house to
country house had not come in the early mail as she expected.

The band, hidden in a small, thick boscage of the wide gardens, broke
into a mockingly cheerful air. At intervals some distant laugh taunted
her. She was late, she knew. The shadows had begun to lengthen across
the open spaces by the fountain, and she could almost see Mrs.
Gunnison's tart and ominous frown of displeasure. Why was she there,
except to be seen; so that the world should know that one who had just
come from the Kingsmills' place on the Hudson had paused beneath the
broad roofs of "Highlands" before, presumably, going to the Van
Velsors, in Newport?

As with pinched lips she reflected, she quickened her pace carefully.

"Ah, senator!" she cried, as she held out her hand with regulated
effusion. "I am so charmed. I did not know that you were to be here.
You great ones of the earth are so busy and so much in demand----"

Senator Grayson bowed and beamed. He shifted in uneasy gratification
from one foot to the other, and a rosier red showed in his round face.

"I did not think that you young ladies noticed us old politicians----"

"Every one should be given the benefit of a doubt. Of course, in our
silly lives there is not very much chance to know about anything
really worth while, but when a thing is really great even we cannot
help hearing about it. Your last speech--the broad, far-reaching
views----"

The senator stood in agreeable embarrassment.

"I read it," Miriam continued. "I could not go to sleep, because I
wanted to finish it. Of course, I could not understand all, but I was
entranced. Even I could feel the force and eloquence. I have heard of
nothing else."

"Really?" cried the enchanted statesman. "Do you know I thought it had
fallen flat? You are good to tell me. These side-lights are of the
utmost value, and, indeed, I esteem your opinion. Would you let me get
out a cup of tea? And--and--Mrs. Grayson was only saying the other day
that she wanted to ask you to come to Washington for a visit this
winter."

As the senator stumbled away, Miss Whiting felt a light touch at her
elbow.

"In your most popular and successful manner, Miriam," said a slight,
slim woman, whom she found standing beside her.

"He's a dear, if he is an old goose," said Miriam, defiantly. "And, of
course, any shading would be lost on him."

"I know," continued the other, the sharp brown eyes in her lean brown
face regarding the girl critically. "There are degrees of flattery
even in your flattering. You have reduced it--or elevated it--to the
proud position of an exact science."

Before Miriam could reply, a young man who had discovered her from
afar advanced with what was evidently an unusual degree of
precipitancy.

"Miss Whiting, I am delighted," he puffed. "I have been looking for
you everywhere. I was in town, and I went to that bric-a-brac shop.
The fan is undoubtedly a real Jacques Callot."

"I was sure," she murmured, "with your knowledge and taste, that you
could decide at once. Of course, I did not know."

"And--and----" hesitated the youth, "I hope that you will not be
offended. I told them to send it to you here. If you will accept it?"

"How terrible--and how kind of you!" Miriam cried, holding out both
hands, as if led by an irresistible impulse. "But you are so generous.
All your friends have discovered that. I always think of St. Francis
sharing his cloak with the blind beggar."

"So good of you," he stuttered. "It's nothing. You must be tired.
Can't I bring a chair for you? I am going to get one."

As the young man turned hurriedly away, Miriam grasped her companion's
arm.

"I never thought that he would give it to me. Never, Janet--honestly,"
she exclaimed, with earnestness.

"The way of the transgressor is likely to be strewn--with surprises."

"I only thought of saying something pleasant at a dinner."

"I'd taken Bengy Wade's opinion without a moment's hesitation on the
length of a fox terrier's tail, but a fan----"

"He wants to be considered artistic," pleaded Miriam.

"And the last touch about St. Francis, wasn't that a trifle overdone?
Somewhat too thickly laid on? What used to be called by painters in a
pre-impressionistic age--too great _impasto_. I am afraid that you are
a little deteriorating."

"Miriam!"

Both turned, and found a tall lady calling with as great animation as
a due regard for the requirements of a statuesque pose permitted.

"I want to speak to you," she exclaimed, as soon as words were
possible. "I want you to come to my house to-morrow morning. I am
going to have a little music. Emmeline is going to sing."

"Oh!" cried Miriam.

"Don't you like her singing?" the other inquired, earnestly.

"Oh, _very_ much," assured Miriam. "Only--the truth is, I once heard
her sing Brunnhilde's 'Awakening,' and she murdered it so horribly."

"Emmeline is often too ambitious," the other commented, with visible
content.

"Lighter things she can do charmingly, and she should hold to them,"
Miriam announced, with decision.

"I arranged the program," said the lady, "and, for her own sake, I
shall not let her attempt anything to which she is unequal. Of course,
I shall not sing myself."

"Oh, Mrs. Ogden!"

"You know I never sing anything but Wagner, and then only when there
are a few--when my hearers are in full sympathy. You will be sure to
come," she added, as she turned to give another invitation. "By the
way, you will be at Westbrook this autumn. I want you to ride
Persiflage in the hunt as often as you like."

"Much better," commented Miriam's companion, as they strayed on. "Of
course, nothing would please her--as a bitter rival--more than to hear
her sister-in-law's singing abused. That touch about lighter things
was masterly when she herself only sings Wagner for a few. But how do
you manage with Emmeline?"

"I tell her that no one can conduct, an automobile as she does."

"My dear!"

"It's an amusing game," the girl answered.

"But is it a safe one?"

"Why not?" she exclaimed, challengingly.

The two advanced toward the spreading marquee which appeared to be the
center of the mild social maelstrom. A greater ebullition perceptibly
marked the spot. The conflict of voices arose more audibly. Many were
constantly drawn inward, while by some counter-current others were,
frequently cast outward to continue in drifting circles until again
brought back to the gently agitated center. On the very edge of this
vortex--the heart of which was the long table beneath the tent--sat a
goodly sized lady. Her appearance might have been offered by a
necromancer as the proof of a successfully accomplished trick, for the
small camp stool on which she rested was so thoroughly concealed from
sight that she might have been considered to rest upon air. Catching
sight of Miriam, she beckoned to her with a vigor that threatened
disruption of her gloves.

"Where have you been?" she cried, as Miriam and her friend approached.
"I have been waiting for you. So many have been asking for you. I
expected you to be here."

"My dear Mrs. Gunnison," cooed the girl, "you must forgive me.
Absolutely, I could not help myself. I was all ready on time--but I
have been admiring again your wonderful house. And I have been
wondering at the perfect way in which it is kept up--the faultless
manner in which everything is managed. I can only think of Lord
Wantham's place. Though, of course, there is not the brilliancy
there----"

"I like to have things nice about me," said Mrs. Gunnison,
complacently. "Sit down here, my dear. I want to have you near me. And
you, too, Mrs. Brough."

"I may be a little to blame for keeping Miriam," said the elder woman.
"I have been so much interested in what she was saying."

"Every one is," responded Mrs. Gunnison, warmly. "Miriam is so
popular--quite celebrated, for it. Indeed, there are numbers of people
here who want to meet her. One young man in particular--Mr. Leeds----"

"Did he say he wished to know me?" the girl asked, quickly.

"Well, no," admitted Mrs. Gunnison, "But then I want you to know each
other. I'm quite bent on it. Nothing could be better. I'd like to see
it come out the way I'd have it. You know how rich he is. And they say
he is going to be somebody. Mr. Leeds! Mr. Leeds!"

A tall young man looked and advanced. While his gait did not indicate
reluctance, there was nothing that seemed to reveal eagerness. He came
forward deliberately and stopped before the party.

"_I_ don't think, Mr. Leeds, that you know Miss Whiting," Mrs.
Gunnison announced. "A dear friend of mine--and a dear. Mrs. Brough
and you are old friends. You see her so often that I feel that I can
take her away. Come, I want to show you something."

With her customary smile of unconcerned intelligence, Mrs. Brough
allowed herself to be drawn off. The young man slowly settled himself
in the chair which Mrs. Gunnison had left.

"Oh, you shall not escape," declared Miriam. "Mr. Leeds, I am so glad
to be able to speak to you at last. I have so much to say to you. They
told me that you would be here this afternoon. I wondered if I should
see you."

Leeds had not spoken, but looked at the girl with a steadiness which
for a moment caused her to cast down her animated eyes.

"I missed you everywhere last winter," she went on, more slowly. "And,
of course, heard of you always."

Leeds continued to inspect the girl with amusement in his glance.

"Oh, how splendid accomplishing something must be--standing for
something!"

"Don't you think that you are rather overvaluing my modest
achievements?"

"Of course, you speak that way, but others do not," she hurried on.
"You are known from one end of the country to the other."

"Really----" he began.

"To be such an inspiring influence in local politics----"

"Because," he laughed, "having a minor public position--because, by a
fluke, having found myself in the place of a common councilman, I have
got some things done and kept others from being done."

"Public life has always been so absorbing for me. I can think of
nothing nobler for a man."

"Than being a common councilman," he interrupted.

"You laugh," she said. "But I grew so interested, I followed in the
newspapers, from day to day, what you were doing."

"You were very good," he answered, gravely. "Or you are very good to
say so."

"Don't you believe me?" she asked, suddenly arrested by his tone.

"I have heard a good deal of you, Miss Whiting."

Miriam flushed slightly, but she looked at him steadily.

"What have you heard?"

"I have heard that you have ways of making the worse appear the better
reason--that you flatter."

The glow deepened in her face and her eyes flashed.

"And," he went on, lightly, "why should not one try to make the world
pleasanter by making it more satisfied with itself? Isn't that the
part of a public benefactor?"

"You are laughing at me," she cried. "You--are--despising me."

"No, indeed," he answered, with real earnestness. "You misunderstand
me. Isn't it only fair to give back in pleasant speeches the
admiration and adulation that the world gives you? There would be a
certain dishonesty in taking all and giving nothing."

"You--you--are mocking me," she gasped, rising, as if to fly, and then
sinking back.

"No," he answered, "only I object to being mocked myself. I'd rather
not be included with all the others to be given pleasant words, as you
can so easily give them out of a large supply. I'd prefer to have you
think better of me than to believe that I am to be treated in that
way."

"Mr. Leeds, you are abominable and rude--and I cannot listen to you."

"I am sorry. Honestly, when you began to make such--civil speeches to
me I was disappointed. It was so exactly what I had been told to
expect."

Miriam bit her lips--and her hand trembled a little on the handle of
the sunshade.

"I may have lost my temper a little," he said, "which one should never
do--but I can't take anything back."

That afternoon Miss Whiting was strangely silent. Held at the opening
of the tent by her hostess, people passed before her unseen. What she
said she hardly knew. What her words meant she could not have told.
She was only aware that her voice sounded unnatural, and that her
laugh--when laugh she must--struck discordantly and strangely on her
ears. She felt that the time would never come when she could be
alone--to think.


II.

Mrs. Gunnison's dinners, like all else of the establishment, were
always large. The classic limits authoritatively imposed she would
have scorned--if she had ever heard of them. If she could have timed
it, the greater the number of minutes required by the procession to
the dining room in passing a given point, the better she would have
been satisfied. She only felt that she "entertained" when she beheld
serried ranks of guests stretching away from her on either hand.
Therefore, when Miriam turned and discovered Leeds at her right, they
found themselves in such semi-isolation as only exists at a very large
dinner table.

"I am sorry," he said, pleadingly.

"So am I," she answered. "Very--oh, you think I mean that to be
pleasant in that way, too----"

She hastily averted her face, and engaged vigorously in conversation
with the man on the other side. Leeds stared moodily before him.
During the passing of the many courses which Mrs. Gunnison's idea of
fitting ceremony demanded, the lady whom he had taken in found him
neither communicative nor responsive. The dinner dragged on. Miss
Whiting's soft right shoulder remained constantly turned on him. Her
discourses, which he could not help hearing, continued actively and
unceasingly. At last Mrs. Gunnison darted restless glances about. She
had already begun to stir uneasily in her chair.

Miriam suddenly veered round upon him.

"I want to tell you something," she almost whispered. "What I
said--what I tried to say this afternoon was true."

He looked at her with fixed earnestness.

"Oh!" she cried, passionately. "I can't bear to have you study me as
if I were a specimen of something--of mendacity, you think. But no
matter about that. You must believe me. Don't you?"

"How can I," he answered, slowly, "with----"

"With my reputation," she caught up, quickly, as he paused. "Do not
try to spare me--now. Can't you hear--can't you see, now, that I am
speaking the truth?"

He gazed at her without answering.

"Oh, I can read in your eyes that you do not. I want you to believe
me. Can't you believe--even that?"

He shook his head half smilingly.

"You do not know all that I have heard," he answered.

"Who can have been so unfair--so cruel? I--I never wanted to be
believed so before. Oh, you think that is only a part of it; that the
habit is so strong with me--that I am only flattering."

"If I have been--warned," Leeds continued.

"As if I were a peril--an evil----"

"Perhaps you might be," he muttered.

"I will not bear it. You _shall_ believe me. I am not flattering."

"At least, that you should have been willing to take the trouble to
try was in itself a distinction."

"You are hard on me."

"I must protect myself."

Mrs. Gunnison had arisen, and a rustling stir was spreading down the
table.

"I am not a harpy," she cried.

"A siren was a bird more beautiful, but not less dangerous," he said.

She rose straightly and swiftly.

"You feel that you can speak to me like that because you believe I am
what you think. Very well. There may be satisfaction for you to know
it. I am, then, everything that you have implied. More--more than you
have said. I am false. I do flatter people--cajole them--deceive. I do
it for my own interest. Now are you satisfied? Could anything be
worse? I confess, even, that I have deserved the way you have treated
me."

"Believe me----" he began, hastily.

But she had swept from him, and, amid the group of retreating women,
he found no chance to finish the sentence.


III.

Miriam Whiting said "good-night" very early. A greater accuracy might
demand the statement that the time at which she had "gone upstairs"
was relatively not late--for the hours of the house were expansive,
and not only had morning a way of extending into afternoon, but
midnight into morning. As a general thing, she had only disappeared
with her hostess, but on this particular evening she pleaded
weariness--sleepiness--had even hinted at a headache, which no one had
ever known her to have. Thereupon she departed, followed by the
reproaches of the rest. Once in her room, she hurried her maid, and,
finally, abruptly dismissed her. When she was alone, she went to the
window and threw wide both the shutters. She leaned with her elbows on
the sill, gazing out at the moonlit country.

Perfectly round, with a burnished sky about it, such as may sometimes
be seen when the circle is absolutely full, the white disk hung in the
heavens. Below, about the quiet edges of the fountain, the light lay
with silken sheen. Only, where the drops fell tremulously, the water
was broken into glittering sparks. All was very still. Far off a dog
barked fitfully. That was the one sound which broke the silence, with
the exception of the occasional distant laughter of some men on the
terrace at the end of the spreading wing. With her fingers buried in
her thick hair, carefully gathered for the night, she looked straight
before her, although she was wholly unconscious of the scene.

A light knock at the door was repeated twice before she heard it and
spoke.

"It's I," the voice said, insistently. "May I come in?"

"Of course," Miriam answered, without moving.

The door opened quickly, and a small figure darted into the room.

"There was some one coming," said Mrs. Brough, as she glanced down at
the voluminous silken folds in which her little body was lost. "I am
not in a condition to be seen--generally."

She came forward slowly.

"My room is near yours. I saw your light. I thought that you had not
gone to sleep. I wanted to come to speak to you." She put her hands on
Miriam's shoulder. "You have been crying."

"Yes," said Miriam, quietly.

"I saw at dinner that you were not yourself--and I am troubled, too. I
have a confession to make."

Miriam looked at her curiously.

"You know that I am your friend--now," the other went on. "Since we
have been here together, we have come to know each other as I never
thought that we should. There was a time before, though, when I did
not understand so well. I had watched you, and I did not like you. I
distrusted you--or, rather, did not trust you----"

"I understand. You were clever enough to see through me----"

"I thought that with your--insincerities that you were all false. I
should have been wise enough to know differently. But what will
you?--to assume evil is easy, and always gives one a proud sense of
superior perspicacity. I condemned you, Miriam, without a hearing, and
I told Arthur Leeds."

"You did it?" the girl murmured, dully.

"Yes, I warned him."

"Why?"

"Because I like him and admire him, and I thought you--dangerous."

"That is why he has said the things he has."

"He has said something?"

"He has told me that I am not worthy of regard or consideration or
respect."

"Impossible!"

"Perhaps not directly--but he has implied that and more--by word and
action. And--and--I love him."

Mrs. Brough sat down quickly in the chair which she had drawn up, and
took Miriam's hands.

"I know you so well now," she said, "that at dinner I saw something
was wrong. I did not realize that it was as bad as that."

"I think I loved him even last winter, when I only saw him--heard who
he was--and did not know him. I admired and respected and reverenced
him. But he seemed different to me. And to-day when I met him I wanted
to tell him a little--as much as I could--of what I thought. I wanted
him to know something of the feeling that I had. I wanted to please
him. I wanted him to be nice to me--because I pleased him. What I said
to him was true--true."

She sprang to her feet, and spoke in deep, tragic tones.

"True!" she repeated. "And I have lost the power of being thought
true. My words can only be considered so many counterfeits. I have so
often debased the true metal of sincerity that anything I say must
ring false--that anything I may give cannot be taken. What I said
sounded fraudulently in my own ears. I could not forget the many, many
times when I had spoken so nearly in the same way without meaning or
belief, and each speech seemed to me a mockery. Though I longed with
all of me to speak simply and sincerely--knowing that I spoke the
truth--I hardly seemed to myself to be doing it. All appeared a part,
but a repetition of the many times before when I had played a
part--when what I did was a comedy--a farce--a tragedy!"

She broke off with a sob.

"You have cried wolf pretty often," avowed Mrs. Brough.

"I am a Cassandra," said the girl, instantly. "When I wish to be
believed I cannot. When all that is most precious and dearest to me
depends on it I cannot be trusted. I may speak, but I shall not be
heard--when all my life is in being heard--I know it."

"You see," said Mrs. Brough, "when I told him I thought of you as you
seemed----"

"As I was. I don't blame you," Miriam cried, bitterly. "What I had
become! Let me tell you." She sat down again, and, with her elbows on
her knees and her chin on her hands, gazed fixedly at the other. "I
think I began innocently enough. I wanted to be liked--and I fell into
the way of saying pleasant little things. I tried to make everybody
contented and pleased with me. That was when I came out. Indeed, I may
say for myself that I had a sympathetic nature. I could not bear to
see anyone uncomfortable or doubtful about themselves or anything,
without trying to help them. Surely that was not bad?"

"No," said Mrs. Brough, slowly.

"I really wished to help every one," she continued. "And the best way
that I found to do it was to say pleasant things. It was easy--too
fatally easy. When I discovered how popular this made me I kept on. I
continued for myself what I had really begun for others. Insensibly I
acquired skill. I was not stupid. I had rather a gift for
character--and could say exactly the thing to each one to flatter them
the most. I found that I took pleasure in the exercise of such
cleverness. There was a feeling of power in it--playing with the
foibles and weaknesses of men and women. I did not see that I was
often trafficking in unworthiness and baseness."

"I've no doubt you did harm," concluded Mrs. Brough. "People are only
too willing to be encouraged in their vanities. I don't think, Miriam,
that you were really very good for a person's character."

"I was not very good for my own," Miriam went on, grimly. "I
retrograded. I can see it now. In playing on the follies and faults of
others, I grew less careful--less critical myself. Then the family
lost its money. Oh, I haven't the poor excuse that I was in want--that
what I did was done from any lack of anything essential for myself or
others. Ours was just a commonplace, undramatic loss--with only need
for saving and retrenchment. Without the deprivation of a single
necessity, or comfort, even. Merely the absence of the luxuries. The
luxuries, though, in a way, had become necessities to me--and--I
found, by exercising my power, I could get much that I wished. I
flattered and cajoled to please people, so that they would do things
for me, give me things. That is ended----"

She pointed dramatically to a table.

"There is the fan from Bengy Wade in a package. To-morrow it goes back
to him. There is a note to Mrs. Grayson, declining her invitation. If
I go to Westbrook I shall not ride Persiflage. I have turned over a
new leaf. But the degradation of thinking of the record on the old
ones! If I could only tear them out instead of trying to fold them
down. I see it all now. He has made me see it all. He has made me
despise myself until I see the way I look in his eyes; until I seem
the same in my own. Janet, what can I do?"

The girl's head bent on the arm of the chair, as her body was shaken
with sobs. The other put out her hand and gently stroked her heavy
hair.

"Don't you exaggerate?"

"Did you," Miriam panted, "when you said what you did to Mr. Leeds?
Did you make my blackness less black than it should be--did you
concede to me any saving light?"

"I did not know. If I can do anything now----"

"You must not speak to him," Miriam cried, sitting up abruptly. "There
would be no use. When the seeds of distrust have been sown they will
grow, even if the weeds crowd out everything else."

"But weeds can be dug up."

"That must be my part," Miriam answered, more calmly. "Only one course
is left. It's funny," she smiled, swiftly, through her tears. "There
is poetic justice in it. I can do only one thing. It is my
retribution."


IV.

The announcement which Mrs. Gunnison made on the following morning
came as a surprise to Miriam. She had some difficulty in not
displaying an undue excitement. The habit of containment, which had
come with worldly experience, however, did not fail her. She heard her
hostess state that Arthur Leeds was coming to stay in the house
without any exhibition of visible emotion. Mrs. Gunnison said that, as
the Barlows had other people coming, he was going to transfer himself
to "Highlands," and that he would arrive in time for luncheon. Any
fears which Miriam experienced were wholly offset by a devout
thankfulness. The event offered such an occasion for the carrying out
of her plan as she had not hoped to have given her. In the promise of
such an admirable opportunity for the execution of her purpose, she
found a melancholy satisfaction. If, as she thought to herself, the
iron was to enter her soul, the sooner the affair was accomplished the
better. The process of self-sacrifice was not pleasant in the
execution, however glorious it might appear in the conception.
Self-immolation might be a duty, but, as every martyrdom, it was more
satisfactory as an ideal than as a fact.

The first opportunity which came to execute what she had laboriously
planned was during the aimless inoccupation of after luncheon
idleness. The arrangements for the afternoon had not yet been
concluded, but were in the careless making. Who should ride; who
should drive; who should walk; who should go and who should stay; the
what and whither had not been settled: Leeds strolled to her side.

"I have been trying to speak to you, but you have avoided me."

"Yes," she said.

"Why?" he asked; "I am going to tell you the truth, now----" she
paused, and looked at him.

"Why?" he repeated.

"Because I think that you are the most detestable man I ever saw," she
answered, gazing squarely at him.

He started slightly--glanced at her in surprise, and abruptly sat down
on the divan beside her.

"You have really come to that conclusion?" he asked.

"I have always believed it," she answered, firmly.

"But you said----"

"You told me that I was a flatterer. I shall not be with _you_ any
longer. You wish the truth. You shall have it."

"That is what you thought from the first?" he said, slowly.

"Yes," she answered, less clearly. "I have always understood that you
were most absurdly self-satisfied. That you are deluded by a pose as
to which you are so weak as to deceive yourself. That you take
yourself with a seriousness which leads you to believe that you are
preaching a crusade when you are only blowing a penny whistle. That
you assume that you have made for yourself a position and a reputation
which were made for you."

"What do you mean?" he asked, quietly.

"You have an old name and a large fortune which rendered you
conspicuous and made everything easy. The newspapers have talked of
you only as they would anyway. Indeed, they would have given more
space to you if you had a liking for conducting an automobile painted
like a barber's pole than they have because you went into politics.
They would have preferred the striped automobile, but they had to be
content with the 'reform politics' as the freak of one in your place."

"Then you think I am--nothing?"

"You are a rich young man of assured position--spoiled by the world."

"I thought I had, at least, ordinary common sense."

"Probably--but still you have unduly lost your head. You would not
know if people were laughing at you----"

Leeds flushed slightly. Miriam caught her breath sharply, and reached
forward to take up a fan which lay within her reach.

"I am altogether a monster?"

"No," she replied, calmly. "A very ordinary young man, I should say."

"I'd be kind to dumb animals and not kick a baby----"

"I am quite serious," she answered. "You objected to any little
pleasantness on my part because what I said might not be altogether
sincere. Now we are going to have facts. Indeed, you are the type of
man I dislike."

"At least, we know where we are now," he responded.

"Yes. And as we are staying in the same house it may be as well."

Miriam rose slowly. She walked decidedly across the room, and
ostentatiously placed herself beside Mrs. Gunnison. Leeds, deserted,
did not move. He sat staring at the floor, as he softly drummed with
his fingers on the couch's leather arm.

As well as in certain other particulars, the life of a country house
is microcosmical in this--escape from the requirements of human
relationship is impossible. Indeed, the demands are made greater, the
bonds more firmly fixed. In fact, the condition of all may be more
fitly described as the condition of two united in matrimony--they take
each other for better or worse. Constantly through the day they must
meet. The terms on which they are thrown together impose intimacy. If
latent antipathy exists with the revealing conditions of constant
companionship it must be discovered. If inherent sympathy is to be
found the two gravitate toward each other with inevitable certainty.
As the birthplace of aversion quickly reaching a maturity of
detestation and hate; as the hothouse of interest growing speedily
into full bloom of liking and love, there is no place like a country
house. All existence there, in its condensed form, is a forcing
process. Without any awkwardly abrupt transition or disconnecting
jolts, those who begin to talk about mutual friends in the morning may
easily reach a discussion of their own souls in the afternoon, and be
far on the broad and easy path of sentiment by evening. Like or
dislike, more or less strong, must surely and quickly follow. There is
in the social chemistry a certainty of repulsion or attraction, out of
which the most unexpected combinations result--of a surprisingly
lasting nature.

In the daily routine Miriam saw Leeds constantly. Though she might
come down late for breakfast, she always found him. Even if she
breakfasted in her room, when she descended he was always smoking in
the hall.

"I did not expect to stay so long," he explained to her on one
occasion, rising as she paused at the foot of the stairs.

"Then why do you?" she asked, coldly.

"Don't you know?" he demanded. "Should you feel it pleasanter if I
went away?"

"Really--as I have undertaken to be perfectly frank with you--how can
your going or staying make the least difference in the world to me?"

"Still," he said, looking at her curiously, "there must be something
tiresome in having to be scorning somebody all the time."

"I think," she said, briefly, "I hear voices in the billiard room. I
am going in there."

If at dinner Leeds found himself next to her he discovered that she
spoke to him no more than the strict letter of the law governing the
conduct of guests in the same house demanded. What she said was of the
most indifferent nature. If he sought to reach a more personal basis
he found himself checked.

"Miss Whiting," he said, suddenly, on the third evening, "I am going
away to-morrow morning."

Miriam swung about swiftly.

"To-morrow!" she exclaimed, with a catch in her voice.

"Yes, I think I had better go, though there is something I want to
tell you before I do. I have thought of all that you have said. I have
profited by the new light that you have thrown upon myself--my
actions--my life."

"What do you mean?" she murmured.

"I have realized that very likely I am a prig. I understand the
futility of what I am trying to do. I see that I have been mistaken in
my power. I'm going to give up."

"Give up?" she replied.

"You have shown that I was attempting more than I was able to do. The
Donaldsons have asked me to go in their yacht round the world. The
_Vierna_ starts on Thursday. I am going away to be lazy and careless,
and live the life for which you think I'm fitted."

"You are going to give up everything?" she exclaimed.

"Yes," he answered. "It is your doing. You must take the
responsibility of it."

"But what I say--what I think, can make no difference," she almost
entreated. "I am not of enough importance to you--you cannot consider
me enough----"

"All that is something of which you know nothing," he answered,
gravely. "Something of which I have told you nothing. I am going
away--with the Donaldsons."

"People like that!" she interrupted.

"People like that. I am going with them to lead their life--to be gone
for a year, unless one thing happens. As I said, you are responsible."

"But I can't be," she implored. "It isn't possible. I can't count for
anything."

"Let me assure you that you do."

"Then I can't take the responsibility. I won't."

"Unless one thing happens I am going," he went on, inflexibly. "There
are some, I think, who believe in me--who will think I am making a
mistake."

"But your future--your career," she began, and paused abashed, as she
saw the way he watched her.

"I thought we were to have no--insincerities--no flatteries. Since I
know what you really think, such civil implications can mean nothing."

She bit her lips, pale as her cheeks were white.

"Oh!" she cried, "how horrible!"

Through all of dinner she hardly spoke. If she said nothing to Leeds,
neither would she address the man on her other side, only giving such
monosyllable answers as were necessary. The evening dragged slowly.
Leeds did not approach her. Once or twice she looked toward him, but
he did not appear to notice her. Indeed, he only came late from the
smoking room and returned after a brief appearance in the big hall.

"When," she asked once, in a timid voice, of Mrs. Gunnison, "does Mr.
Leeds go?"

"The early train," the lady answered. "I believe he leaves the house
before seven, or at some equally unearthly hour."

       *       *       *       *       *

The fresh sunlight of the early morning was flooding through the open
hall door as Leeds came down the wide, main stairs. He saw, under the
_porte-cochère_, the trap ready to take him to the station, and into
which the second man, with the help of the groom, was lifting his
trunk. Here and there a housemaid was busy with duster and cloth. The
machinery of the establishment was being set in running condition, and
there was the accompanying disorder. The place seemed strange and
unfamiliar.

"Your keys, sir," the butler said, holding out the bunch.

"Yes," he answered, "I'm ready."

As he spoke he started. Clearly in the stillness of the morning he
heard a few soft notes struck on the piano. At that hour the sound was
most unusual. He listened. The Flower Music of "Parsifal." With a
swiftness that left the astonished butler staring after him, he darted
toward a door. In a moment he had torn the portière aside and had
crossed the polished floor of the music room. Miriam was seated at the
piano, her fingers resting on the keys.

"You are down!" he exclaimed.

"Yes," she answered, neither turning round nor looking up.

"You are very early."

"Yes," she assented. Then she whirled about on the music stool. "I
came down to see you."

"Why?"

Both spoke with a simple directness--with the manner of those dealing
in ultimate moments with the unmistakable facts.

"You told me last night that you were doing as you do because of what
I have said. I cannot take the responsibility. I'd rather that you
thought even worse of me than you do. Oh!" she cried, bending her head
down on her hands, which clasped the rack of the piano. "I am,
false--false! I cannot be true even in my falsity. All that I have
been telling you is not the truth."

"Yes?" he interrupted, eagerly.

"When you judged me--when you told me--or showed me what you thought
of me--I recognized what I was doing--what I was. I saw I was false.
My pride drove me to do something else. It was a punishment for
myself--a price I must pay. As falsely as you thought I tried to
please you--as falsely, _really_, I made myself hateful to you. I told
you every untrue, miserable thing of which I could think. It seems as
if any little remnant of dignity which I had demanded it. But to have
you say that you were influenced by my lies--were going to give up so
much that was splendid and great--because of them! Oh, you must
believe me now. I could not bear it."

"Then you don't think I am altogether contemptible?"

"I think you are the finest and best and strongest man I know," she
said, bravely.

On one knee, beside her, he had his arm about her.

"Bless you, darling," he cried. "Then I can tell the truth, too. I
think that you are the dearest and sweetest woman, and I love
you--love you!"

"I--I don't deserve it," she sobbed.

"I would not," he said, "let myself believe what you told me at first,
but then I would not let myself believe what you said afterward. I
hoped----"

"Oh, it was so hard for me. Can't you understand? There was expiation
in it. Don't you think it enough?"

"I think we have both been mistaken and unhappy."

"Oh!" she exclaimed. "Since the first I have changed. It taught me a
lesson. I am different--really."

"We'll have everything all right now, and that is all."

"But you are going away," she exclaimed.

"I said I was going away unless one thing happened."

"Yes," she said, eagerly.

"Very well--it has happened."

The sound of the brush striking sharply and with metallic distinctness
on a dustpan came from the room beyond.

"Perhaps we had better go on the terrace," he laughed. "Really, you
know, we ought to have moonlight and mystery, but----"

Together they went out through the open door into the fresh, soft
morning air. The warm scent of the garden blew up to them. A large,
yellow butterfly fluttered peacefully by. The dew still lay on leaf
and flower, glittering in a thousand sparkles.

"The night is the time for romance," he said. "Any well managed
proposal should be made under the stars."

"But the morning, such a morning," she exclaimed, softly, and clasping
her hands in ecstasy. "And as this is going to be a beginning for me,
I like the morning better."



THE MIRACLE OF DAWN

By MADISON CAWEIN


  What it would mean for you and me
    If dawn should come no more!
  Think of its gold along the sea,
    Its rose above the shore!
  That rose of awful mystery,
    Our souls bow down before.

  What wonder that the Inca kneeled,
    The Aztec prayed and pled
  And sacrificed to it, and sealed,
    With rites that long are dead,
  The marvels that it once revealed
    To them it comforted!

  What wonder, yea! what awe, behold!
    What rapture and what tears
  Were ours, if wild its rivered gold--
    That now each day appears--
  Burst on the world, in darkness rolled,
    Once every thousand years!

  Think what it means to me and you
    To see it even as God
  Evolved it when the world was new!
    When Light rose, earthquake shod,
  And slow its gradual splendor grew
    O'er deeps the whirlwind trod.

  What shoutings then and cymbalings
    Arose from depth and height!
  What worship-solemn trumpetings,
    And thunders, burning white,
  Of winds and waves, and anthemings
    Of Earth received the Light!

  Think what it means to see the dawn!
    The dawn, that comes each day!
  What if the East should ne'er grow wan,
    Should never more grow gray!
  That line of rose no more be drawn
    Above the ocean's spray!



THE SONG OF BROADWAY

By ROBERT STEWART


A certain club of good fellows of both sexes, journalists, authors,
illustrators, actors, men of pleasure, and Bohemians generally, used
to gather on Sunday evenings, a merry decade ago, round the hospitable
table of an Italian lady who had acquired her culinary accomplishments
under the distinguished eye of M. Martin--late chef to M. de Lesseps,
and present proprietor of Martin's Restaurant--before she attempted to
practice on her own account, so to speak, in the basement of a dingy
brick house in West Twelfth Street.

Signora Maria was a trusting soul in those days, and many a hungry
poor devil has hung up his hat, coat and dinner there, and blessed his
kind hostess as he quaffed her red ink. We didn't say claret; we
called out: "Where's my red ink bottle, Maria?" And Maria would put
down the soup tureen she was going from table to table with, and fetch
us a pint of her _ordinaire_. It was sour stuff certainly, which even
Maria's radiant smile couldn't sweeten, but budding genius is careless
of the morrow, and on Sunday evenings, especially, when Maria held her
salon in the boarded back room, built out over the yard, vast
quantities of it were gayly consumed, along with cigarettes, and
coffee, and flaming _pousse-cafés_.

In one sense, at least, our function was appropriate to the night.
Everybody "came prepared"--women and men both--like a country
Experience Meeting. Jokes cracked like lightning through the tobacco
clouds; songs of love and war trembled and roared above our heads;
humor and pathos, those twin slaves of the lamp, sported and wept at
our bidding; in a word, no end of youthful bombast, and kind laughter,
and harmless, gratified vanity, was exhibited there. It was really
more like a Montmartre _cabaret_ than any place I ever saw in New
York. Only, with humblest apologies for disparaging their worldliness,
the ladies were so evidently good, sincere, faithful friends, wives,
mothers, sweethearts, that some of us watched their happy gayety with
grateful, pleased eyes.

A Judas came to that kindly board, and betrayed to a newspaper these
merry, honest folk at their simple feast. Stupid, prosperous
commercial persons pushed their way in and stared at them. They fled
away, scared at last, to more inaccessible haunts.

But on one particularly jolly evening, to return to a text memories of
tried friends and happy hours have beguiled me from, among a number of
notable guests one who "favored," Mr. Wilton Lackaye, then appearing
as that white-eyed, hairy, awful _Svengali_ everybody so loathed and
applauded, dramatically recited a remarkable and original poem called
the "Song of Broadway." Many a time since have I remembered the scene,
the song, the company; the long, wine-stained tables, the eddying
cigarette smoke, the acute, lively faces. In one way or another,
everyone there was a trained observer, and knew his Broadway.

It is rather a bold thing to say you know your Broadway. As I, too,
sing my song about it, if I sound a note once or twice you have never
heard, oh, thank Heaven, and turn away! With us, I trust, it will be
but a minor chord. So every stroller there recognized the world he
lives in, and the child, the mother, the cabby, gambler, pickpocket,
doctor, parson, each carries off his or her own bundle of impressions.

Leaving it, then, to graver historians to trace the financial,
commercial and social evolution of this tremendous street, which was a
forest trail once, within whose sylvan solitudes red men roamed and
wild beasts prowled, let us from our humble station, as men of the
world and social philosophers, describe merely that stretch of it
which begins at Madison Square and ends at Forty-fifth Street; where
it is high noon at eight o'clock at night, and bedtime when the gray
dawn comes shivering cold and ghastly into hotel corridors where the
washerwomen are scrubbing the marble floors. "Little old Broadway," as
it is affectionately toasted in the vernacular of its _habitués_,
wherever rye whisky is drunk, and faithful homesick hearts recall its
lights, its pleasures and its crowds.

Broadway, I say, at eight o'clock at night, is the most fascinating
street on earth. It is _en fête_ every evening; and you have only to
walk that mile often enough, and the whole town will display itself at
leisure and at its ease, perfectly unconscious and natural and
selfish. It is not the lights; it is not the brilliant hotels, and
theaters, and restaurants, and shops, and tramcars, and hurrying cabs;
it is not the music that floats out to you on the rippling surface of
the town's deep voice; it is not that voice itself, vibrating as it is
with every emotion of the human heart, of pleasure, excitement,
careless gayety, shame that has ceased to care, lust whispering its
appeal, modesty's shocked sigh, innocence's happy prattle, kind
laughter, friendly chat, unexpected hearty greetings; it is the vast,
shifting, jostling, loitering, idle crowd, the multitude of a huge
cosmopolitan city that is the spectacle, and that to a man who knows
his town is more dramatic, and humorous, and pathetic, and fascinating
than all the plays to which young ladies, and their papas, too, are
hurrying, to thrill, and laugh, and cry over.

Think of a mile of street, brilliant like a drawing room almost, and
swarming with all kinds of men and women from all over the world, each
seeking his or her particular amusement and finding it. Pleasure is
the commodity on sale here, and one can obtain it at any of those
glittering signs blazing out over the crush, or traffic in it with the
venders of the pavement.

Isn't it marvelous? Isn't it wonderful? as the conjurer says when he
cuts your watch out of an onion. Mr. Conjurer returns your watch in
safety, but it retains that delicate perfume which only the time it
chronicles can wear away. Many an ingenious traveler has stepped out
of his hotel to watch this magic spectacle for a little, and brought
back with him bitter remembrances that all the tears shed secretly
won't ever wash out.

_Tant pis!_ You are not a preacher, monsieur. There is only one church
on your Broadway, and that is dark and shut and sold to a syndicate.
The only religion one gets here is the Bibles in the hotel bedrooms,
and at Jerry McAuley's Cremorne Mission, round the corner in
Thirty-second Street. What, then? Nobody claims Broadway to be a
domestic scene, and children and nursemaids don't constitute its
charm.

Look north, from where we have turned into it, after lighting our
cigars at Van Valkenburg's, under the Albemarle Hotel, and those
dazzling signs will tell you what most people come here for: Martin's,
Weber's Music Hall, the Imperial Hotel, the Knickerbocker Theater,
with Mr. Sothern in "Hamlet," Hoster's, Kid McCoy's Café, Brown's Chop
House, Grand Opera, Rector's Restaurant--to dine, to drink, to smoke,
to stroll, to see the play, to watch each other. Did you ever see so
much light, so much life? Halt where sedate business halts, too, at
the St. James Building, frowning darkly down on gay, hoydenish
Martin's, whose roguish, Parisian eyes twinkle mischievously up at it,
as if they know the tall, somber old hypocrite has a score of wicked
theatrical agencies hidden away in its locked heart, and just _see_!

Straight ahead of you, within ten minutes' brisk walk, are twenty
theaters, sixteen hotels, six expensive restaurants, two huge
department stores, the _Herald_ newspaper palace, with the elevated
road cutting across its face, several tall apartment houses thrusting
up their lighted windows into the night, telegraph offices, bars,
apothecaries, florists, confectioners, tobacconists, jewelry shops
galore, all signed with electricity, and producing that wonderful
glitter and glare that is both so bizarre and so enchanting. A street,
do we call this? It is a scene, most theatrical and gorgeous, and set
for the great human comedy which is even now being displayed upon it.

In this theater you perceive audience and actor alike occupy the
stage, as they used to do in the old London playhouses; and poor
little flower girls are pushing their way through our throng, also
offering the roses that fade so fast after they are plucked. Anything
makes an interest, an excitement; a fire engine tearing across
Thirty-sixth Street, a policeman marching a thief to the precinct
house, an ambulance clanging down Sixth Avenue, a newsboy asleep on
the Dime Savings Bank steps, the bronze hammers striking nine on the
_Herald_ clock, a Corean embassy driving up to Wallack's Theater in
their soft felt hats and gorgeous robes.

Never were a lot of people more easy to be amused, more eager to laugh
or sympathize. A gentleman's hat blows up in the air; hoots of
laughter explode after it. It rolls under an express van; a dozen
citizens spring to its rescue. Nerves are on edge. Stimulants are
exciting keen brains. It is a trifle savage, this crowd. Look! See
them hustle that masher! His hat's smashed already. The poor child he
was persecuting is crying with fright. A woman, not given to such a
pure embrace, has her arm about her; a big "plain-clothes man" is
drying her eyes with his handkerchief; a couple of young stock brokers
are bargaining with cabby on his box to drive her home. Ah, that is a
pretty sight! I think Mr. Addison would have liked to see it, and Dick
Steele, I know, would have slipped a bank note into her hand. Oh,
burst of sunshine in the darkness! Oh, chivalry and kindness beaming
out on fast Broadway! Oh, reckless, hardened sinners loving innocence
and kneeling to it!

But come; this is still Broadway. A block off they know nothing of all
this. Above us Daly's is closing and its fashionable audience pouring
out on the pavement. In Twenty-ninth Street, the Cairo, the Alhambra,
the Bohemia, are just as brilliant and fascinating as usual.

I remember, one evening, as I was passing the ladies' entrance to the
Gilsey House, on my way home from the club, out comes a visiting
family party--_monsieur et madame et sa fille_. Monsieur stops,
buttoning up that "good frock coat," the uniform of the American
senator, which has proclaimed Squedunk through every capital in
Europe. He stands, the oracle of the post office, the rich man of the
county, the benignant elder of the Congregational church, gazing
across the way at all the flaring signs toward Sixth Avenue.

"Ah," says he, smiling reminiscently, "the Midway. Let's go and look
at 'em, my dears."

I had a wicked impulse to go, too, and see what happened. But I
repressed it, and took the liberty to inform Mr. Smallville that those
places were not especially recommended for ladies. I think miss was
mortally offended with me for upsetting the program.

Are other people secretly disappointed, too, because they can't get a
peep behind those closed doors? It was Madam Eve, I believe, who first
tasted the apple; it was Pandora who lifted the lid of the box of
troubles; propose a slumming party, and be sure it is the ladies who
will applaud loudest. Well, then--those places, dear Miss Smallville
are--very much like the zenanas the foreign missionaryess told you
about last autumn in the church parlors. Now you know all about it.
Ask your brother Tom if I'm not correct. I wager he can tell you if he
chooses.

It is a curious fact, by the way, that all the places which make
Broadway notorious are in the side streets. Just as it is a curious
misnomer to call the toughest section of it the Tenderloin. Broadway
has no slums. Laboring people, even, never make any distinguishable
element in its populace. This is, of course, owing to its geographical
position. But there is one fact which is immensely to its credit, and
is perhaps due to the Irish who govern it, if they do prefer Fifth
Avenue to parade in. For when Brian Boru--from whom every loyal
Irishman is descended--was king, didn't a beauteous damsel, with a
ring of price, stroll unprotected and in safety over his kingdom?
Beauteous damsels with rings of price certainly stroll unprotected
over Broadway, but this is not the fact I emphasize. It is, seriously,
that it is quite possible for young ladies to walk this fastest mile
in the United States, with their papas and mammas, every evening, and
write home to Kate that "it is just like Saturday night on Main
Street, only bigger." No sensible girl could promenade the Strand or
the Bois after theater hours, no matter how chaperoned, and then make
such a comparison. Huzza! I say. Huzza! It is America's compliment to
her women.

Still, however decorously Broadway subdues its hilarity before the
ladies, like a fast young man at a tea party, we all know it is not in
the least like Saturday night on Main Street. Let us saunter along,
like two men of the world, perfectly competent to recognize vice, but
infinitely preferring to smile at honest gayety, and find out what
this crowd really is that is again packing the pavement as the
theaters turn out their audiences.

Principally, so much in the majority as to characterize it, men of
affairs, country merchants, out-of-town visitors, with and without
their womenkind, the New York audience to whom actor and clergyman
alike make their appeal; while circling about in it, embroidered so to
speak on its surface, is that other crowd--high fashion, artists,
actors, distinguished visitors, wardmen, Bohemians, sporting people,
thieves and confidence men--which also produces its effect, and lends
its coloring and vivacity to the picture. The side streets, looking
east at least, are respectable, but they are not brilliant. Fashion,
Bohemia and fast life are, after all, what we have come to watch. And
as fashion mostly cuts Broadway--where it used to live and promenade
when Mr. N. P. Willis' natty boots pattered about Fourteenth
Street--at the first crossing, it is Bohemia and the "wise push" we
will sup with.

In Broadway parlance, Bohemia means newspaper and theatrical people.
And I venture to remind the ladies and gentlemen of the drama in
presenting them in such a company, that I am painting a city nocturne,
and may properly introduce Mr. Morgan, Mr. Beerbohm Tree, Father
Ducey, dear man, in his cape overcoat, Al Smith leaning against the
Gilsey House railing, or any other characteristic and familiar figure
natural to the composition. No picture of Broadway would be complete,
they will acknowledge, without them, and to use a metaphor I have
before employed, they are certainly accustomed to occupy "the center
of the stage" with dignity and elegance.

Anyway, they all come here, and I should think they would all love it.
This part of Broadway is nicknamed the Rialto. Nowhere else are they
taken so cordially and frankly by the hand. They lounge about it by
day and win fame and fortune in its theaters at night. Nat Goodwin and
his wife, Hackett and Mary Mannering--when they can meet--Sir Henry
Irving, De Wolf Hopper, Miss Annie Russell, bowing to Charles Richman
out of a cab, Amelia Bingham, Joseph Jefferson, whose only fault is
that he isn't immortal, and funny, rollicking Fay Templeton, humming a
new coon song--old favorites and new ones, you may see them going to
supper at the Lambs' Club, the Players, the Waldorf, Delmonico's,
Sherry's, any evening they are in town.

Broadway is darker. The theater lights are out. Only bars and
apothecaries, shops and hotels, are brilliant. The opera is over, and
carriages are whirling away toward Fifth Avenue, and tramcars crawling
along in procession, packed to the platforms with gayly dressed
passengers. Across the way from Macy's huge dark store, the _Herald_
presses are rushing off the biography of the day in sight of
everybody, and no philosopher moralizes on that awful, tremendous
record of four-and-twenty hours of a whole world's work, play, crime,
suffering, heroism, love, faith.

Our fast friends must tremble as they pass those windows, and remember
the relentless, watchful eyes forever fixed on them. The ladies and
gentlemen of this society dine at Shanley's and Rector's, and call
supper _lunch_. Except that they are more painstakingly dressed, they
don't look very different from others. I have often thought that such
a congregation might gather in Trinity Chapel, say, and be preached to
by an innocent clergyman with a weary sense of the futility of trying
to make such evidently virtuous persons penitent.

Should you like to really know them? They are thick about you on every
hand. Drama and tragedy and pathos are in rehearsal now; and that old
comedy of "A Fool and His Money." Walk a few blocks with the night
clerk of Wilson's chemist shop. Get to know the bookmaker coming out
of George Considine's Metropole bar, chat with our acquaintance, the
plainclothes man. Join that man-about-town, on his way to the Astoria
Club. Masks will be torn off then, every actor will be seen as he is.
That family coachman is a burglar just out of Auburn. That thin, alert
gentleman in evening clothes is a gambler, getting a breath of air
before taking his place behind Daly's wheel. That pale-faced student
is a reporter on his way to "hit the pipe." That sweet-faced girl will
be screaming drunk by two o'clock--the pale little man in mourning is
the most notorious divekeeper in America. The one with the beautiful
silver beard is a race-track owner over in New Jersey, and they call
the red-headed Jew talking to "Honest John Kelly" the king of the
gold-brick men. This well-dressed gentleman with the large hands is
Corbett, the pugilist; that kindly-faced, handsome one, going into Tom
O'Rourke's, is a famous all-round sport. Notice that beautifully
gowned, superbly handsome brunette who is getting out of a hansom at
Martin's Restaurant. She had a yataghan in her flat she brought from
Paris with her, and she caught it up one night and drove it into her
lover's neck, and was acquitted on the ground that it was done in
self-defense.

Do you want more detailed biographies, or is your acquaintance
sufficiently extended? The owls on the _Herald_ building are staring
knowingly at the moon, who is coquettishly hiding her face behind a
cloud. Mr. Greeley has fallen asleep in his chair, facing Mr. Dodge,
after listening to that eternal long temperance speech which is never
ended. I don't think Broadway is amusing after midnight.

Let's go to Brown's and have some deviled kidneys and a mug of Bass.



GREEN DEVILS AND OLD MAIDS

By EMERSON G. TAYLOR


Miss Herron guided the fat horses into the byroad with the manner of a
navigating officer on the bridge of a liner. Not even after they were
straightened out, and dropped their quickened gait to the usual
comfortable trot, did she unclose her lips or take her gray eyes from
her course.

"Is anything coming behind us, Lucy?" This to the young girl beside
her.

"No, Cousin Agatha. He kept straight on."

"You're sure?"

"Quite sure."

"Well, that's a mercy." For the first time she leaned back a little.
"But I wonder that John Arnold so much as dreamed of trying to pass
me."

"You drive so splendidly," replied the girl, drooping her pretty head
so that the big white hat quite shaded her face. "The way you beat Mr.
Arnold was fine. He looked so silly when we passed him. You're so
brave and--and skillful. It makes one feel so safe to be with you."

"Of course I've driven all my life," Miss Herron admitted. "Your
grand-uncle, the judge, my dear, always insisted that driving was part
of a gentlewoman's education, like household management or a knowledge
of English history. A bit of a race is only amusing, but what with
these automobiles, there's no pleasure in horses at all nowadays."

"They certainly _are_ dangerous."

"Dangerous! They should not be allowed on the roads at all. Any more
than--than drunken men. The comparison somehow pleases me, Lucy. Did
you observe it?"

"Yes, yes, Cousin Agatha." The girl turned to the older lady a face
very young and fair and eyes that shone. "I was laughing at it all the
time."

It was a great pleasure, so Miss Herron assured all her friends, to
feel sure that her little cousin was for a few months at least to be
brought under the influence which had shaped the lives of her New
England forebears. For the child to live in Herron House, to grow in
knowledge of her race, so splendidly patriotic, so consistently rich
and cultivated from the days when Barham was part of a colony, seemed
to the proud old lady a real necessity for Lucy. She must never forget
that she was a New England gentlewoman; she must learn the traditions,
stiffen with the pride of her race. And because these things might
grow dim or be clean forgotten, did she spend all her days in the
noisy, extravagant city or the lazy places abroad.

Miss Herron rejoiced when Lucy's father laughed, and replied to her
request by sending the child to her for a whole long summer.

"She is very dear to me," he had whispered, looking across the room to
where Lucy was chattering as she poured tea. "And very lovely,
Agatha."

"She has the Herron look," she had answered, complacently.

"You'll take ever so good care, of her?"

"I may be trusted, I think, not to abuse any member of my family."

Quiet, sunny days followed. There were hours in the glowing garden,
murmurous with bees, heavy with delicate perfume of box and verbena
and mignonette; hours in the great old house, with its family
treasures of plate and china and mahogany, where ancient Chloe and
Sylvester still served as in the days when they had followed North
that kindly Yankee major they had found helpless after the doings in
the Shenandoah Valley. There were company at dinner, less formal
gatherings on the piazza of a moonlight evening, when accredited
youngsters from the summer colony amused and sometimes scandalized
Miss Herron with their laughter and singing. And now and then Lucy
would be carried off to other houses of Barham; whence she would
return to render a supposedly exact account of all she did and said.
Only twice since the first of June did Miss Herron fail in her promise
to Lucy's father and to herself. And these occasions had been within
the last ten days, when her old neuralgia had laid her low. What her
charge was up to at those times, Miss Herron did not care to inquire.
It was ordered that not even Lucy should come near when cousin Agatha
was in pain, and therefore uncertain in temper as well as a bit
careless as to costume.

"Tell me," the old lady asked, after they had driven some distance
along the shady road, "are you really enjoying your stay here?"

"Yes, indeed. I think Barham's just lovely."

"And what's most lovable in it?"

Lucy stole a look from under her broad hat brim, then retreated. "I
don't believe I know," she said, simply. "It's all----"

"Charming. Of course. I'm glad you think so. We could dispense with
the strangers, however. They don't belong here. They are vulgarly rich
and _parvenu_."

"Some of them are nice, Cousin Agatha," the child protested,
deferentially.

"Who, for instance?"

"All those who come to the house."

"A pack of rascals!" the old lady replied, crisply. "Laughing
like--hyenas, if that's the animal. It's a mercy that the boys and
girls are sent to good schools. They learn some decent behavior,
though of course they haven't had your advantages, my dear. But I
dislike their mothers. They are rich, but they have no poise. Poise,
my dear, and the marks of long descent. But the children may develop.
All but one of them."

Lucy's face grew gently mutinous. "Which is that, cousin?"

"That yellow-haired boy of----" She checked her reply abruptly to
listen. The horses were reined in. "My dear," she asked, resignedly,
"what was that noise I heard?"

There was no mistaking that honk of the goose many times strengthened,
and, following this, the low, steady sputter of a gasoline engine. The
nigh horse's ears pricked up, then were laid back; his honest mate
stopped short to await developments.

"I'm afraid," ventured Lucy, "that it's an automobile."

"The wretches, to choose this road! Are they coming? Go along, there!"
cried Miss Herron to the horses, who sprang forward as she laid the
whip on their fat flanks. "If we can get just beyond the woods I can
turn out for it. But--oh, the _wretches_!"

"Honk-honk!" close behind now.

"Oh!" cried Lucy. She knelt up in the carriage seat, looking back
along the road.

"Wave to him, my child." Miss Herron leaned back on the reins. Her
thin cheeks flushed up, and her gray eyes were like coal fires.
"Signal the creature to slow up."

"I am, Cousin Agatha. I am waving as hard as I can." She was standing
now, meeting with a lithe motion of supple knees and slender hips each
plunge of the hurrying carriage, one little hand on the back of the
seat. And with the other, Lucy, who looked at cousin Agatha and then
laughed--just a little--signaled gayly if vaguely to the driver of the
coming car. This was a young man, whose hair--for he wore no
hat--shone in the sun like crisp gold wire.

"Honk!" spoke the horn, "honk!" and then three times more in quicker
succession.

Lucy laughed aloud. "Isn't he silly?" And then waved once more.

"Honk!"

"Whoa!" commanded Miss Herron, drawing her steeds to the side of the
road. "Stand still, and don't be so foolish. It's only"--she
hesitated, then pronounced the word as though it profaned her
speech--"an automobile."

"May I pass you?" came the driver's voice from behind. The choking
reek of the gas drifted down and enveloped them.

"It's all right," caroled Lucy. "Come ahead!" Then she dropped down to
her seat beside her companion, light as a sparrow.

"Is it coming?"

The horses snorted, swerved, and plunged heavily. There swept by a
vision of dark green and shining brass, the chuck-chuck-chuck of
machinery.

"Oh, do be careful, Arch!" cried Lucy, for the ponderous machine
ground through the soft bank that hemmed in the road on that side, and
canted dangerously for a second or two. Then it whirled up the road,
with the dust thick in its trail, and through the haze the driver's
yellow head shining. The fat horses shivered, and stood fast.

"The wretch! I _knew_ it was young Fraser."

"It wasn't like him," Lucy murmured, and a hint of a smile crossed her
lips, "to have driven by us so fast."

"I'd not expect it of him, certainly."

"Nor I." And Lucy sighed in spite of herself. She was not very old.

"Ha!" Miss Herron bestowed a lightning glance on her unconscious
little passenger, and found it her turn to smile, but with a kind of
grimness. "Indeed!" she remarked, and added, under her breath after a
queer pause: "How _very_ extraordinary!"

They drove along quietly after that for some minutes, for Miss Herron
requested silence that she might compose herself the more readily
after her fright. The road led them up a gentle incline, then turned
sharp to the right, and a couple of hundred yards forked to lead
around both sides of a hill. It was not till the horses approached
this point that their driver opened her lips. She had worn, all the
time that she was quieting her nerves, a look of anxiety into the
midst of which would break every now and then the kindest and briefest
of whimsical smiles.

"Which direction shall we take?"

Lucy started from her reverie. She, too, had said no word. "This is
Steven's Forks, isn't it? Shall we go to the right?"

"Toward home, then?"

"Yes," said Lucy, eagerly, "toward home. To the right, please."

The talk brightened then. And Lucy in particular chattered away at
desperate speed, exclaiming over the rolling landscape, telling her
old hostess how much she had enjoyed Barham.

"That is very pleasant to hear," replied Miss Herron, graciously
enough. "I am only sorry that my indisposition last week prevented
our----"

"Please don't think of it, Cousin Agatha."

"No? My dear, have you ever been visited by neuralgia?"

"I mean," explained the child, eagerly and shyly together, "that it
didn't interfere with my good times at all."

"I understand. Silly girl, why don't they teach you to say things
properly! But I know exactly what you mean."

"Not _really_!" A quick dismay chased away the arch gayety.

"And I'm very glad if you had what you would call a good time."

"Oh, I did! It's all been delightful," Lucy contrived to stammer, and
then fell to scanning the road, which stretched away for a long half
mile ahead of them, white and level.

"A good road for those wretched machines," observed Miss Herron. "I
see one has been along it." And she pointed to the track of broad
tires they were following.

"Wouldn't a farm wagon leave those marks?"

"Possibly, but----" She rose slightly in her seat, and peered ahead.
She laughed aloud as she gathered up her reins and touched the horses
into a brisk trot. "This may be the workings of Providence, my dear."

"Perhaps, Cousin Agatha."

"Is that thing yonder green?"

"There's only one person in it, and--and he's getting out now. It's
stopped."

"Anything more?"

"Oh!" cried Lucy, and now it was hers to stand, "I think----"

"Indeed!" remarked Miss Herron. "I fancied I saw that yellow head of
his."

"The workings of Providence!" Lucy sighed.

"How perfectly absurd! Don't be irreverent, miss."

As they approached the machine, young Fraser was quite invisible; but
when at last Miss Herron had coaxed her horses up to it, and made them
stand, he crawled out from beneath it somewhere, red-faced, dusty and
with black grease on his hands.

"The penalty of recklessness!" observed the old lady, surveying the
boy as though he was inanimate stone. "Broken down."

"How d'ye do, Miss Herron?" said Fraser, apparently much embarrassed.
"Lucy----"

"Is that machine really broken?" The joyful hope in Miss Agatha's
voice was quite unconcealed. "Smashed?"

"There's something wrong, certainly," the boy confessed, ruefully. His
regard sought Lucy's. "But just what's amiss I can't see."

The old lady shook her head warningly. Some outward manifestation she
had to make in order to conceal the joy which, like a warm cordial,
penetrated every fiber of her being as a certain plan shaped itself in
her mind. This was the automobile which had frightened her horses and
set her nerves twittering; and now it reposed by the roadside
helpless. This was the reckless, handsome boy who had set her guests
laughing on an occasion requiring a measure of decorum, since the
bishop honored her house with his presence; who now, with every
appearance of impotent anger, was tinkering with the vitals of a hot
engine, dirty and perspiring. Miss Herron admired the idea which grew
before her imagination as she would have admired a beautiful,
unfolding flower.

"It ought to go now," the boy announced, after some further bungling
examination. What his testing and poking was supposed to accomplish
did not appear. He spoke with an odd ruefulness, and seemed to try to
deepen the impression his tone conveyed by another look at Lucy
eloquent of regret.

"Try it," said Miss Herron.

The boy threw over the balance wheel; there came forth a clank and
some faint clicks from the engine's interior; then cold silence
settled upon it again.

"No go," reported Archibald, and proceeded to explain what by rights
should have come to pass. "But none of these engines are perfected,"
he added.

"So there you must--remain? Two miles from any assistance?"

"Yes, Miss Herron."

"I rather question the willingness of any of our Barham folk to aid a
shipwrecked automobile. You drive them so heedlessly, young gentleman.
I confess," she continued, judiciously, "that I rather enjoy your
plight."

The boy grinned delightfully. "So do I. It isn't often"--how express
the light mockery that danced on his lips!--"that my accidents are so
charmingly compensated as this is."

"I am quite serious, Mr. Fraser."

"I am equally so, Miss Herron."

A moment they regarded one another in silence. "I am inclined to offer
you some assistance, I think," the old lady announced, deliberately.
"Merely out of common humanity. I have read that the drivers of
automobiles often depend on friendly or highly paid wagoners to--to
tow them. Now----"

Archibald drowned the rest in thankful protestations. And----

"It would be awfully kind of you, Cousin Agatha," said little Lucy,
suddenly finding her voice. "I'm sure that Archie----"

"Eh?"

"It would be very nice indeed," the child contrived to say, and tried
to look unconscious.

"If you could help me a little," explained Archibald, and his own
cheeks flamed, though his eyes faltered not a bit. "The break isn't
very serious, I guess."

A second time Miss Herron considered in silence. She turned
deliberately and looked at Lucy, who returned her questioning glance
with a stare of babylike innocence; her gray eyes interrogated the
boy.

"If you can assure me that your machine can't go," said Miss Herron,
"I'll tow you."

For a brief second Archibald hesitated. Then he fumbled among the
levers; raised the hood again; returned to the driver's seat, and
fingered at something the ladies could not see. "She can't be moved,"
the boy reported.

From the fence along the roadside a loosened rail was wrenched; an
honest cow, picketed at pasture, had her tether shortened a dozen feet
in two strokes of the boy's knife. In five minutes more, amid many
warnings from Miss Herron against scratching the varnish, one end of
the rail was made fast to the rear axle of the carriage, and the other
to the automobile.

"Now jump in," ordered Lucy, radiant with smiles; and she pointed to
the back seat.

"Mr. Fraser," her cousin amended, calmly, "will continue in his
automobile. To--to steer, if necessary."

"But----"

"I should prefer it, if you please." The horses strained forward, the
wheels turned; the triumphal procession was under way. "My dear," said
Miss Herron, "will you be good enough to hold your parasol over me?
The sun is very uncomfortable."

All the way home, the length of Barham Street, where the people stared
and laughed, young Fraser repeated all the maledictions he could
remember or invent. For the dust choked him, and the view of Lucy's
back as she sat holding the parasol over her cousin did not cheer.

"I'll get even--oh, more than even!--with you, dear lady," he
promised, releasing his tiller to shake his fist at Miss Herron's
unconscious and unbending figure, "if it takes all summer. I wonder if
she could have guessed. And it was planned so perfectly."

Barham laughed over the story, laughed again when at the Richmonds'
dance Lucy came back into the glare of the lights with the Fraser boy,
dazzled and bright-cheeked, after half an hour's absence in the
darkness of the great garden. And how many of the gossips would have
given their ears to have heard the long talk between Miss Agatha and
Lucy's father on the night of his arrival? So the slow summer drifted
by.

If the Revolutionary Daughters had not arranged their September
meeting on the day that a freight wreck made the trains from Barham
westward very late and irregular; if Miss Herron had not been waiting
a fretful half hour in the dusty station for the means of reaching the
meeting before it was over, when Archie Fraser drove his car thither
in a search for an express package, the latter part of this story
would have been very different. But as the boy stopped his panting,
throbbing machine at the edge of the platform, Miss Herron looked out
the window.

"I am waiting for a train," she remarked, on the heels of her stiff
little greeting, "for Oldport."

Archie glanced at the old lady's delicate dress and at the badge of
gold and enamel she wore on her breast. "The R. D.'s?" he asked,
respectfully.

"Exactly. I am one of the charter members, as you probably are aware.
And to miss the meeting is distinctly vexatious."

"I'm so sorry." He turned to the station agent. "How late's the
train?"

"Half an hour or so. She won't make up much comin' this far. And she's
got to let the express pass her."

Out by the platform the car murmured its steady, quiet song of power,
and quivered with its singing. Archibald started, stung by a sudden
hope. If only----

"That will bring you to Oldport very late, I'm afraid," he ventured,
feeling his way toward a compassing of his plan. The express package
could wait. "I'm very sorry. I wish----" Here he broke off his speech
to gaze pensively at the automobile.

"It's very annoying," said Miss Herron.

The station agent winced, as though she had laid a lash across his
shoulders, and in his awkward fashion endeavored to apologize for his
road's remissness. Like a tradesman reproved by his best customer, he
promised Miss Herron that "it shouldn't happen again." It was quite in
keeping with her character that she was graciously pleased to accept
the man's excuses. And then the agent, fired into an expansive
cheerfulness by her kindness, said that which won him the mysterious
present he received the following Christmas.

"Why can't _you_ take Miss Herron over, Mr. Fraser--hey? I guess that
there autobile----"

"That----"

"Autobile," repeated the agent, sturdily. "She'll beat most o' the
trains on _this_ road."

"The very thing!" He made a mental promise never to forget this man's
kindness and tact. "Oldport! It wouldn't take us an hour; and it's the
best piece of road in the State."

"The idea!" exclaimed Miss Herron, gently scornful. "In
an--automobile!"

"Please come," he begged. "It would be such an honor, and a pleasure,
too."

"I should _prefer_ the train." But the very fact that she let a note
of argument and protest come into her voice gave Archibald instant
encouragement.

The station agent, warned by a furious wink, came nobly to the fore.
"I'm afraid the train ain't goin' to do ye much good, ma'am. Not for
some time, anyway. I never see such a road's this."

"I'll go very carefully," Archie went on, recklessly promising.

"Of course, you know, I dislike those machines, but," Miss Herron
confessed, with a fair show of sincerity, "I am rather eager to be
present at this meeting." She surveyed with critical eye the
deep-cushioned seats, the heavy springs, then the tiller and the
various start-and-stop levers. "You think there'll be no danger?"

"Not the least. I'm sure you'd not be afraid, Miss Herron."

"I am afraid," she replied, tartly, "of nothing that man can devise.
Be so good as to lend me your arm, Mr. Fraser."

He charmed her by his deferential escort across the platform; he
protected the rustling silk of her skirt from any possible fleck of
dirt as she mounted to her place; he was solicitous, as a gentleman
should be, concerning the dust cloth, and deft as a footman in
arranging it. Clearly, as Miss Herron perceived, the boy appreciated
the honor she was doing him, and so far earned her approval. Nor were
his manners wholly uncouth.

Archie drew on his gauntlets and settled himself, hands on tiller and
throttle. "Are you quite ready?" He could not hide his smile. A sweet
hour was to follow.

"I am waiting," she answered.

"Go, then."

The ponderous machine leaped forward as if released from a spring,
gathering power and speed each half second. Miss Herron laid her hand
on the driver's arm.

"Not too fast--all at once," she said. "I----"

"She'll do better when we strike the good road," the driver replied.
"This sand checks her badly."

It was so lovely a revenge that lay now in his hand to inflict. This
old lady had towed him home once, the laughingstock of the village;
she had brought to naught at the same time the scheme which had cost
Lucy and himself such a deal of planning. The machine was to be
abandoned, they had arranged in that runaway afternoon when Miss
Herron kept her room; the carriage was to overtake him in his
distress; he was to drive home with the two ladies, holding Lucy's
hand on the back seat, and convincing Miss Herron of his superior
qualifications to marry into her family. But all this had in the
sequel come to less than nothing. It was Miss Herron also who, Archie
was convinced, had been at the bottom of his father's sudden
determination to attach him to the Paris branch of the Fraser
business, and so banish him from all that was dearest and best in the
world.

Now, by blessed good luck, Miss Herron was quite in his power to
frighten soundly and to land at the gathering of the elect, blown,
dusty and disheveled. If he had been more than twenty, he would have
thought and acted otherwise than he did; but the likely outcome of his
plan never troubled the boy, if indeed it entered his honest head at
all. "I'll scare her," remarked Archie, grinning silently, "good and
hard."

But, even as he plotted, he wooed her with his politest phrases;
laughed, but not too loudly, at the little sparkles of wit, accepted
with naïve delight her comments on the skill in driving that a boy of
his age could show. For five minutes or so they ran quietly and
steadily along a featureless road through barren pastures. There was
time enough for his plan to blossom, for Oldport was nearly thirty
miles away, and there intervened a village through which to drive at
illegal speed.

But by slow degrees, without at all perceiving how it came about,
Archie found that somehow his passenger was a very delightful old
lady. What had become of the absurd starchiness, which before had so
maddened him, of the stiff pride, which had condescended to him as
though Fraser & Co. were creatures far beneath the regard of a New
England old maid? She asked him questions, she was as interested as
could be in his father's plans for him.

"Where will you live in Paris?" asked Miss Herron.

"Oh, over in the Quarter, I hope. It'd be more fun there than in the
other house."

"The other house?"

"Ours, you know. Father likes to have his own place when he's over."

"Indeed?"

"We only lease it," Archie explained, ingenuously. "It's up near the
Arch."

"Indeed! That should be extremely pleasant."

"I hate the idea of going," the boy blurted out. He looked straight
ahead; a slow flush darkened his fair skin.

"Yes?"

"Unless," he murmured, suddenly inspired to madness, "unless----"

Miss Herron readjusted the dust cloth. The boy felt a quick irritation
at her apparent inattention; but the purpose, born of her apparent
readiness to hear and approve him, held. "I want Lucy to go, too, Miss
Herron," he announced, bluntly enough.

"Indeed!"

"Lucy!" he cried. "I do love her so! Please say that I can have her.
Please say----"

"Do I understand," she asked, and the boy could not comprehend why her
old voice shook so, "that you are making a formal proposal for the
hand of Miss Lucy Herron?"

"Yes," he cried, jubilantly. "Oh, say I may ask her."

"If you had intended so far to honor us," the old lady replied, icily,
"I should have thought that you would have approached the subject with
_some_ degree of formality."

"Miss Herron!"

"To speak of such matters in an--automobile is to treat them very
unbecomingly. It is not," she continued, and all her unbending
rigidity of demeanor was behind her words, "dignified."

"Being dignified," cried Archie, hotly, "hasn't anything to do with
being in love." Was it a smile that lighted up her craggy features,
like sunshine on granite. "You don't understand."

"Apparently not. I am quite unused to the ways of modern youth. The
world's moved very fast in recent years. In an--automobile--as it
were."

"But Lucy----"

"Well, Mr. Fraser?"

"I----"

"Let us not refer to her, I beg."

"Not ever again?" he asked, but with no hint of disappointment.

"I am surprised that you so much as dreamed of it under the present
circumstances," she replied, tartly.

Archie laughed shortly. "Please forget that I so far forgot myself,"
he begged. "It _was_ wrong, under the present circumstances." All the
boy's sunny malice shone from his clear eyes. "I ought to have
remembered my real duty and pleasure."

"And that," Miss Herron asked, for once caught unawares, as it
appeared, "is what?"

"Watch!" said Archie, briefly.

They had come by now to the beginning of the solid macadam road that
runs across the county, to the joy of the chauffeur as to the
corresponding dismay of the truck farmers for whom it was constructed.
There was nothing ahead to break the long, hard track. Archie reached
down beside him, though his eyes never left his course or one hand the
steering wheel, and set his hand to some lever. The song of the great
machine was for a second broken; then a new song of the road began,
louder and fiercer than the first and in quicker measure. Miss Herron
felt as she did the first time she descended in the express elevator
of a high office building. She was conscious that her hat was tugging
at its pins. She settled herself back deeper in the seat and braced
her feet stiffly, only to bounce up as they ran over some stick.

"Oh!" she gasped. "Ahem!"

"Sit tight," counseled Archie, suavely. "We'll get there in time, all
right, if nothing happens."

"If anything breaks," she remarked, "you can usually get somebody to
tow the machine home."

"People are very charitable. Yes, Miss Herron."

"Up to a point."

And to that Archie had no rejoinder. It was perhaps as well that he
did not see the smile that his passenger wore. It might have taken the
edge off his revenge.

The houses commenced to appear at more frequent intervals now, and
took on a character a little different from the old weather-grayed
dwellings of the open country. There showed a white, slim church spire
above the trees.

"Scarborough," said Archie, and made the horn speak.

"You'll be careful?" she asked. "Through the village----"

"Honk! honk!" This for a couple of children, who, starting to run
across the road, doubled back like rabbits. Miss Herron caught just a
glimpse of their white faces, and the end of their father's torrent of
imprecation. Now it was the horse of a baker's wagon that climbed the
bank by the roadside in two leaps and pranced shiveringly. Some boys
cheered and then flung stones.

"Dear me!" ejaculated Miss Herron. "I rather hope we'll meet nobody I
know."

"The sheriff himself couldn't stop us now."

"But----"

"Honk! honk!"

"Oh, Mr. Fraser!" They missed by a foot a carriage that was beginning
slowly to turn around, and was nearly straight across the road when
Archie twitched the automobile aside as if it was a polo pony.

"The stupid creatures!" cried Miss Herron, indignantly, when her heart
commenced to beat again, "to block the way!"

"That _was_ a close shave," commented Archie.

"Not too recklessly, Mr. Fraser."

"I must get you to the meeting, ma'am."

"But the risk----"

"If I can't have Lucy," the boy declared, sullenly, "_I don't_ care
what happens."

"Assure me," demanded his passenger, after a brief moment, during
which with no slackening of speed the great machine tore down
Scarborough's main street like a green tornado, "that you retain
entire control of the thing."

"Oh, yes."

Another pause. "I suggested that you make no mention of Miss Lucy."

"I can't have her?"

"How fast _can_ the automobile go?" asked Miss Herron, ignoring the
boy's question.

"Some faster than this. But Lucy can----"

"Let us not discuss the matter, please."

"I can't have her?"

"I beg, Mr. Fraser, I _beg_ you to center your attention on driving
your machine."

"Well, I will, then. I'll drive her," said the boy, grimly, "good and
fast." They came again to the open, but the road continued hard and
broad, with only long curves around the base of a hill now and then.
The wind blew the old lady's hair into disarray, her dress was gray
with dust, her eyes smarted terribly; she gave from time to time a
little gasp--or was it a laugh?--and clutched at Archie's arm, which
held so rigid and strong to the tiller wheel. "This'll be her finish,
all right," he thought. "Cross old cat. Scared?" he asked of her.

"I beg pardon?"

"You're not scared, I suppose?" he said, mockingly.

"I have been accustomed to fast driving, Mr. Fraser, all my life."

It was because she made that reply that Archie, quite desperate by
now, dared what finally did occur. And this was occasioned by his
spying in the distance another big car headed as he was, but moving
less rapidly. In a minute he was alongside, and jammed on the brakes.
The other driver, who was heavily mustached, red-faced and had three
airy young damsels stowed in the tonneau, looked up in surprise.

"Hello, Isidore!"

"Hello! Hello, Mr. Fraser!"

"I'll race you to the bridge."

"Go on, now! Watcher think I got here?" But the girls chorused
delightedly, and teased their driver--all but one, and she leaned
forward to whisper confidingly, with her arms around his fat neck.
Miss Herron surveyed the landscape.

"'Fraid cat!" giggled the girl. "You're afraid, Mr. Mayer."

"I ain't, only----"

"One!" cried Archie, releasing his steed again. "Two!"

"Leggo, May!" grunted the other.

"And----"

"Three!" yelled Mayer. "To the bridge!"

By mere good luck the highway was empty, for to think that any cart or
carriage could be passed was absurd. Side by side the huge machines,
scarlet, green, alive with shining brass, tore along with the roar of
express trains between the ditch and the bank. The slightest swerve at
such speed meant death. The chatter of the careless girls dwindled,
the faces of the rival drivers grew pale and tense.

"Oh, be careful!" murmured Miss Herron. "It's very dangerous."

"Very," replied Archie. "Promise me Lucy and I'll slow up."

A sudden little shriek of joy and some handclapping from Mayer's
tonneau interrupted what the old lady might have answered. Glancing
over, Miss Herron perceived that their rival had drawn ahead a yard or
more, that the girls were crying taunts at her. Not far away now there
showed a gleam of the river. And then Archie encountered the greatest
surprise of his life.

"Saucy things!" remarked his passenger, and fell silent again.

"Come on!" called the prettiest of the three, through her hollowed
hands. "Old freight car!"

"Archie!"

"Yes, Miss Herron?"

"Can't you---- Oh!"

"What, ma'am?" From the tail of his eye he was aware that Miss Agatha
was wringing her hands.

"Archie, they _mustn't_ beat us!"

"I guess I'll crowd him."

"Oh!"

The time was ripe, he thought. "Give me Lucy," he repeated, doggedly,
"or I'll foul him."

He had expected to frighten her. He had told himself what fun it would
be to hear her give her agitated assent, with the fear of death on her
if she refused. It was to be a fine revenge. But Miss Herron only
raised a warning forefinger.

"Archie Fraser," she said, in trembling tones, "if--if you take the
dust from those common young women and that vulgar man, I'll never
forgive you."

"Great heavens, Miss Herron! I--I----"

"_Beat 'em!_" she ordered truculently.

He stuck blindly to his point: "Lucy?"

"_Beat 'em!_ Show me," she declaimed, in trumpet tones, "that the man
who wants to marry a Herron has some courage in him. Now!"

The road narrowed just ahead, where it led through a cut in the hill
and then down to the bridge. On either side the banks rose eight or
ten feet, and very steep, and beyond was a sharp curve. Archie made
his horn speak angrily, as once more he came abreast of his rival,
favored by the fact that Mayer had struck a strip of newly repaired
and soft roadway some yards long. A second later he was leading.

"Pull up!" he bellowed hoarsely, crouching forward over his tiller
still lower. He dropped his hand to the emergency brake. The cut was
not six rods off. Once more the girls cried out, but this time in
shrill fear. Miss Herron remained calm as the Sphinx.

"Honk!" from Mayer, and the click of levers. His machine slid along in
a cloud of dust. "You win!"

It was ten minutes before the victors exchanged a single word. They
rattled over the long bridge, steered up the streets of Oldport to the
place where the Daughters were in session. Then Archie lay back with a
sigh.

"You weren't scared a bit!" he exclaimed, frankly doleful.

The old lady straightened her hat, lightly brushed off the top layer
of dust from the front of her dress, then gave the briefest of queer
little laughs. "It is one of the traits of my family," she said,
"never to be surprised at anything. And another," she added,
descending majestically from the automobile, "is to make the best of
circumstances which appear to be inevitable."

The boy blinked. "I don't understand," he stammered.

Miss Herron touched him on the arm. "I trust, then, that Lucy will
express herself to you more clearly. In case--if you should venture to
ask her a question."

And with that the old lady minced her way up the steps of the house to
disappear within doors.

"Good Lord!" exclaimed Archie, as the light began to break.



TWO SORROWS


  Before Love came my eyes were dim with tears,
    Because I had not known her gentle face;
  Softly I said: "But when across the years
    Her smile illumes the darkness of my place,
    All grief from my poor heart she will efface."

  Now Love is mine--she walks with me for aye
    Down paths of primrose and blue violet;
  But on my heart at every close of day
    A grief more keen than my old grief is set,--
    I weep for those who have not found Love yet!

                                     CHARLES HANSON TOWNE.



LOVE AND MUSHROOMS

By FRANCES WILSON


Van Mater, out on the coast for the melancholy purpose of witnessing
what he conceived to be Corny Graham's crowning indiscretion--that is
to say, his marriage--found himself lingering for the purpose of
basking in California's smiles. The writing instinct, which in the
little old town on Manhattan would keep his hand traveling back and
forth across the paper for days at a stretch, here languished and
drowsed like some heavy-eyed, faintly smiling lotus eater.

He had, to be sure--in a spurt of energy that subsided almost as
quickly as it came--begun a song to that sybaritic state, in which it
was represented as a lady around whose neck hung

  A chain ablaze with diamond days
  All on the seasons strung,

which he thought sounded rather well.

Then, unfortunately, the rains set in and the result was a mental
washout that carried the last vestige of his poetical idea out into
the vasty deep where individual ideas become world-thought, though
there was a moment when he had an inspiration--something about keeping
Lent, which should typify the rains. But this, too, drifted off like a
chip on an ocean, and the song became mere literary junk.

Probably the law of compensation is responsible for the fact that,
while the coast's dazzling summer is flawed by trade winds, its rainy
season is tempered by mushrooms. At least, so thought Van Mater.
Connoisseur that he was in the joys of living, he confessed to a new
sensation when, for the first time, he found himself plodding over the
seared, round-shouldered hills, spongy with the supererogatory wetness
of a three days' downpour. The rain had ceased temporarily, but the
sky wore a look of ineffable gloom, and the feathery mist trailed
along the earth like an uneasy ghost.

Some swarthy, dark-eyed Portuguese children, met on the road the day
before, had proffered him their pail of spoil, and as he examined its
contents he understood, for the first time, what a mushroom really
ought to be. Their dank odor--the odor of germinating things--seemed
to come from down in the earth where the gnomes are supposed to
foregather; and Van Mater's thoughts reverted with withering scorn to
certain woodeny, tan objects that had been foisted upon him from time
to time as mushrooms--always, he now triumphantly recalled, to his own
inward amazement.

Why, when and where mushrooms had won their vogue with epicures, he
had often dumbly wondered, though he had remained silent lest he
expose a too abysmal ignorance. Now he chuckled hilariously. It was
his acceptance of those frauds--those mere shells from which the souls
had fled--that displayed ignorance! In future he would know better,
and he tossed the children a quarter and went his way, in a pleasant
anticipation of the manner in which he would carelessly throw off to
certain admiring friends:

"But I never eat mushrooms, save they come straight to the table from
the soil, picked within an hour of the time when the rain ceases.
Those things? Why, my dear fellow, you might as well eat so much
gristle. Talk about the bouquet of wine! Why, the bouquet of the
mushroom is as delicate and elusive as--as----" The simile failed to
materialize, but he went on eloquently: "You can no more preserve it
than you can the dew upon a plum." All of which sounded so well that
he speculated anxiously upon the probability of any of the said
fellows divining how very little he knew about the matter, after all.
They were so deuced knowing, some of them; but it seemed a pity to let
an idea like that, what had actually leaped from his brain
full-fledged, go to waste. Decidedly, it was worth the risk.

His mind again reverted to the subject with pleasant anticipation
when, the next afternoon, clad in knickers and a Norfolk, with a cap
pulled rakishly over his eyes, he trudged over the hills to which the
children had directed him. Soon, however, everything was blotted from
his consciousness save a section of brown hill, over which his eyes
roved eagerly in search of the small, Japanese-looking fungi.

"Mushroom or toadstool?" was his stern inward query, as the pert
little parasols became more and more numerous; and he did not realize
that he had spoken aloud until a gush of laughter caused him to raise
his eyes hastily.

She was not three steps away, and from the trim leather leggings,
above which her kilted skirt swirled, to the thick sweater and Tam
that she wore, she seemed to Van Mater the most dashingly correct
damsel he had ever seen. The foggy air had brought a delicious color
to her cheeks and brightness to her eye which made her seem a very
creature of the out-of-doors, and Van Mater stared, charmed and
arrested.

"Evidently you don't recognize me," she suggested. "I was the third
bridesmaid--the one in pink--the homely one, you know."

She eyed him with a wicked satisfaction while the color rose to his
face. He had a disagreeable recollection, since she identified herself
so minutely, that he had rather passed that particular bridesmaid over
with scant attention, amazing as it now seemed. Then he recovered
himself, and with that gallant movement of the arm which seems the
perfect expression of deference, removed his soft cap and bowed low,
as he said:

"Of course--I remember you perfectly now, Miss--ah."

He tried, as he took her extended hand, to mumble something
unintelligible enough to pass for her name, looking at her with an
admiration purposely open in the hope of distracting her attention,
but the ruse was of no avail. She only smiled into his face with
impish delight.

"You people from the East are so dreadfully disingenuous," she
complained. "Why not confess frankly that, so far as you are
concerned, I belong to the 'no name' series?"

Her eyes were dancing, and suddenly Van Mater felt as if he had known
her always--eons before he had known himself in his present
incarnation.

"To think that I shouldn't have recognized you in the pink gown," he
murmured, with well-feigned surprise. "And to think that I'm no more
surprised than I am to have you suddenly bob up here in the wet, after
your wanderings of perhaps a hundred lifetimes! I can't seem to recall
the date and planet upon which we last met," he continued,
apologetically, "but I fancy that we picked mushrooms in those old
times--that the earth and air were all sopping, just as they are now."

"You write books--you know you do!"

"Well--it's a decent enough occupation!"

"Yes," uncertainly. "Still, writers aren't usually very sincere; they
don't mean what they say. They spin copy as a spider does a web!"

"Writers not sincere--don't mean what they say!" he echoed. "Why, my
dear young lady, you're all wrong. They usually mean so much that they
can't begin to say it--and as for sincerity, they're the sincerest
people in the world!"

"That is, while it lasts!" he added to himself, but his listener, who
had stooped to the ground and was now holding up a particularly large
and luscious mushroom, was all unconscious of his reservation.

"Look out! You're stepping on them!" she cried, excitedly, and for the
next ten minutes they wandered about with eyes bent on the earth in
fascinated absorption. Van Mater at last straightened up with such a
thrill of satisfaction as he had not experienced since boyhood.

"My pail's full," he called, seating himself on one of the projecting
bowlders. "So come and show me where to pick the beefsteaks."

She pointed upward. Where the hill humped itself against the sky the
blurred figure of a cow was visible. Van Mater tried again.

"You might come and rest," he coaxed, pointing to another bowlder that
cropped out in friendly nearness to his own. With a last lingering
scrutiny of the ground about, she came, seating herself beside him.
Then, with her chin resting on her hands, she surveyed him with a sort
of boyish _sang-froid_.

"We're right cozy for acquaintances of a half hour's standing," she
remarked, at last. "But, then, I've heard about you for so long. You
see, Corny told Beth, and she has--well--mentioned you to me."

"Pooh--that's nothing! I tell you, I've known you for centuries. I
remember that when I heard of one of those theosophist fellows
marrying a girl he'd known for a thousand years or so, I roared. Now I
understand it!" (Very solemnly.)

She did not speak, and he began again with increased seriousness:

"Really, I'm in earnest, you know. I've the most curious sense
of--well, of companionship with you--as if we'd known each other
indefinitely, as if----"

She interrupted rather hastily.

"Honestly?"

Tersely--"Upon my soul."

She rose somewhat hurriedly. "It's going to rain!"

"Never mind. I have a conundrum. Why is love like a mushroom?"

She wrinkled her brow. "Because it's easily crushed, I suppose, and
you're never quite sure of it."

"Wrong. Because it springs up in a night--that is, in an hour," he
answered, impressively.

The drops began to fall softly, swiftly, easily, as if they would
never more be stanched.

"Come," she said, but her cheeks were more richly colored than before.

"Isn't this heavenly?" he murmured, as they vanished down the road in
a blur of rain. She did not answer, but her eyes were shining.



SOME FEMININE STARS

By ALAN DALE

    Advertised personalities. Enormous sums squandered on theatrical
    impossibilities. Amelia Bingham's pluck and restlessness. "Nancy
    Stair" rather tiresome. Lesser lights in star-dom.


Three thin, anæmic, bedraggled plays, each with a heralded, exultant
feminine "star" skewered to its bloodless pulp, dropped into this
metropolis just ahead of the reluctant crocus. Three highly advertised
"personalities" tried to weather out a veritable emaciation of drama,
and the result was, of course, a foregone conclusion. Slowly but
surely is knowledge being forced upon the deluded manager, and he is
learning to appreciate the vital truth of the much battered
Shakespearian quotation, "The play's the thing." No trumped-up
interest in one particular puppet will take the place of the drama
itself. This is a pity. It is easier to create a marionette than it is
to construct a play.

The three highly advertised "personalities" that reached us at crocus
time were owned and engineered by Miss Amelia Bingham, Miss Mary
Mannering and Miss Virginia Harned. I mention them in the order in
which they appeared, which is not necessarily that of superior merit.
They came in at the fag end of a tired season, dragging a load of
pitiful dramatic bones. Hope ran high, but fell in sheer despondency.
In spite of the fact that the poet prefers to picture hope as
springing, I think that in this case it may be better portrayed as
running. There is a sensation of panic in the race.

Miss Bingham came to town with a very swollen "comedy-drama," called
"Mademoiselle Marni," from the pen of a "monsoor," programmed as Henri
Dumay--said to be an American "monsoor" at that. This actress affects
French plays for reasons that have never been explained, and that
certainly do not appear. As a "star," she is of course entitled to
treat herself to any luxury that may seem to tempt her histrionic
appetite, and the Gallic siren evidently appeals to her. It is not
likely that there will be international complications, although the
provocation must at times be keen.

"Mademoiselle Marni" was one of those impossible chromos that might
have been designed for the mere purpose of giving one's sense of humor
a chance to ventilate itself. In the serious theater-goer--and one is
bound to consider him--it awoke amazement. How is it that at rehearsal
a dozen presumably sane people can "pass" such an effort, he must have
asked himself? Why is it that in a theatrical venture that costs a
great deal of money, there are no misgivings? The serious theater-goer
is never able to answer these questions.

It is almost proverbial that the most hopeless sort of theatrical
enterprise--if conventional--never languishes for lack of funds. Try
and start a solid business scheme, in which you can calculate results
in black and white, and the difficulties and discouragements will be
almost insuperable. Endeavor to obtain money for an invention or
innovation that has success written across it in luminous letters, and
you will "strike a snag," as the rude phrase goes, with marvelous
celerity. But a bad play--one that to the unsophisticated
theater-usher or to the manager's scrubwoman must perforce appear as
such--experiences no such fate. This is one of the marvels of
theaterdom.

In the case of "Mademoiselle Marni" Miss Bingham herself must have
spent an enormous sum that she would probably have hesitated to invest
in some enterprise sane or possible. The play was a turgid coagulation
of illogical episodes lacking in all plausibility. This particular
actress is generally happy when she can select for herself a character
that is beloved by all the masculine members of the cast. Apparently,
she "sees" herself in this rôle. She likes to appear as the
personification of all the virtues, self-sacrificing and otherwise,
and this idiosyncrasy is, of course, frequently fatal to sustained
interest. We do not care for these sensational paragons.

In "Mademoiselle Marni" Miss Bingham played the part of a very
beautiful French actress, of whom everybody said: "Oh, what a woman!"
(Perhaps the audience also echoed that phrase, but with quite a
different significance.) She was exquisitely in love with _Comte Raoul
de Saverne_, who was engaged to another, and was "ordered" away from
her by the father of that other. This parent was a very wicked baron,
and just as _Mlle. Marni_ in an ecstasy of rage was about to strike
him, somebody called out: "Do not hit him; he is your father."

We discovered that _Mlle. Marni_ was the wicked baron's illegitimate
child. As he had been saying extremely pretty things to her--for she
was so bee-yoo-ti-ful!--you will readily perceive that fastidious
people might find this "situation" what some critics love to call
"unpleasant." Wicked barons, viewed in the process of admiring their
own daughters, are not exactly long-felt wants upon the New York
stage. However, this episode was scarcely offensive, for it was so
exuberantly silly that nobody could take it seriously.

Later on, _Mlle. Marni_ gambled on the stock exchange, and made two
million dollars in a few minutes, so that she could get even with the
wicked baron, and force him to recall _Raoul_. In this act the actress
wore black velvet, and looked every inch French--Bleecker Street
French. It was the "big" scene, and was considered very strenuous by
those acting in it. To those in the audience, it merely accentuated
the cheap vulgarity of the play, that had no redeeming point, either
literary or dramatic. It was, in fact, a forlorn hope.

Perhaps if Miss Amelia Bingham would not select her own plays, she
would fare better. She is by no means lacking in histrionic ability.
She has done many good things in her day. But the temptation of the
self-made "star" to see nothing but her own part in the drama that she
buys, is very acute. A satisfactory _ensemble_, a logical story, a set
of plausible characters and a motive are all overlooked. Her own
"personality" is her sole anxiety, and--well, it is not enough. Miss
Bingham was assisted by Frederic de Belleville, Frazer Coulter and
others less known to fortune and to fame, but "Mademoiselle Marni" was
not accepted. It was staged "regardless," but even that fact did not
count in its favor. Miss Bingham's pluck and recklessness were alone
in evidence.

Scarcely more felicitous was Miss Mary Mannering with "Nancy Stair."
Miss Mannering is not as good an actress as Miss Bingham. She is one
of the "be-stars-quickly." A year or two more in some good company
would have been of inestimable advantage to her, but the lower rungs
of the ladder are not in great demand to-day. That ladder is
top-heavy. The upper rungs are worn by the futile grasp of the too
ambitious; the lower ones are neglected.

It was Paul M. Potter who tapped on the book cover of Elinor Macartney
Lane's novel, with his not very magic wand, and tried to coax forth a
play. Exactly why he did this was not made clear, for the day of the
book play is over, and there was nothing in "Nancy Stair" that
overtopped the gently commonplace. Mr. Potter's play was by no means
lacking in interest, but we are exceedingly tired of the ubiquitous
heroine of tawdry "romance" who does unsubtle things, in an unsubtle
way, to help out certain unsubtle "complications." If I mistake not,
these very novels are beginning to pall, as such stupid, meaningless
vaporings should do. One cannot resist the belief that one-half of
them are written with an eye upon the gullible playwright, for a play
means larger remuneration than any novel could ever hope to secure.

It is not necessary to rehearse the story of "Nancy Stair." I can
assume that you have read it, though if you are like me, you haven't.
I look upon Mr. Julius Cahn's "Official Theatrical Guide" as rich and
racy literature compared with these fatiguing attempts to invent
impossible people, and drag them through a jungle of impossible
happenings--simply because Mr. Anthony Hope, a few years ago, achieved
success by similar means, which at that time had a semblance of
novelty. I may be "prejudiced," but then I have at least the courage
of my own prejudices. In "Nancy Stair" Mr. Potter even seemed to
belittle opportunities that might have raised his play from the dull
level of conventionality.

One episode in which _Nancy_, afraid that her lover has murdered the
_Duke of Borthwicke_, enters the presence of the corpse, and there
forges a letter in the interests of _Danvers_, might have been made
into something strongly emotional, creepy and Sarah Bernhardtian. This
incident in itself was so striking, and it seemed to be so new--though
I believe that Mr. Potter himself repudiates the notion that there can
be anything new in the drama--that it was almost criminal to slight
it. Nothing was made of it. It almost escaped attention. Instead, we
got a crew of comic opera Scotchmen singing songs, and an absurd
picture of _Robert Burns_, who was injected pell-mell into the
"romance." It was disheartening.

Those who had read the book complained bitterly of the "liberties"
that Mr. Potter had taken with it. Those who had not read the book
complained equally bitterly that Mr. Potter had not taken more of
those "liberties" and made it better worth his while. To me, the book
drama is a conundrum. It always has been, and now that it has nearly
died out, I am still unable to solve it. When you read a book, you
form mental pictures of its characters, and are generally discontented
with those that confront you on the stage. And when you don't read a
book, the play made therefrom lacks lucidity, and you experience the
need of a "key." I should imagine that the dramatization of a novel
killed its sale. Who, after viewing "Nancy Stair" as a play, would
tackle it as a novel? Of course, when a book is dramatized after it
has had a stupendous sale, the author cannot complain. He has no
excuse for protesting. This is a somewhat interesting topic.

Miss Mannering coped with _Nancy_ as she would cope with _Camille_ or
_Juliet_, or any character quite outside of her range of ability. In
light comedy episodes, she is quite acceptable. She is a very pretty,
graceful, distinguished young woman, but her "emotion" is absurd. Her
dramatic fervor is such an exceedingly stereotyped affair that you can
watch it in a detached mood. You can pursue your own thoughts while
she is "fervoring," and she will not interrupt them. Miss Mannering is
emotional in a conventional stage way, and she knows a few tricks. But
the subtlety that comes from experience, the quality that nothing but
a long and arduous apprenticeship can produce, are leagues beyond her
ken. It is a pity, but the "be-stars-quickly" all suffer in this
identical way and there is no remedy.

Robert Loraine as the "hero" gave a far better performance. It was
theatrical, but satisfactory. The late _Robert Burns_ was played by T.
D. Frawley in a deliciously Hibernian way. Poor Bobbie would have had
a fit if he could have seen his nationality juggled with in this
manner. If Mr. Frawley had warbled "The Wearing o' the Green" the
illusion would have been complete. Mr. Andrew Mack could have done
nothing better--for Ireland.

"The Lady Shore" was the title of Miss Virginia Harned's massive
production at the Hudson Theater. Jane Shore was dragged, willy-nilly,
from history almost as though she were the heroine of a so-called
popular novel, and two ladies, Mrs. Vance Thompson and Lena R. Smith,
propelled her toward 1905. While, on moral grounds, we may inveigh
against the courtesan, when we meet her in everyday life, the fact
remains that for the stage there is no character in greater demand by
"star" actresses and "romantic" playwrights. They seem to find a
peculiar interest in a woman who has "lived"--no matter how. If, in
ransacking history, they are lucky enough to discover a courtesan who
can be billed as a "king's favorite," they appear to smack their lips
exultantly. One is almost inclined to believe that dead-and-gone kings
must have chosen "favorites" merely for the sake of to-day's stage.

As soon as the playwright has excavated a courtesan, he begins to
think of the best way of whitewashing her. For she must be offered up
as more sinned against than sinning. Of course. The playwright wastes
his substance thinking up excuses for her. He is quite willing--nay,
anxious--that she shall go wrong, but he prefers that she shall be
driven to it by untoward circumstances. He is desirous that we shall
sympathize with her, to the point of tears, in the last act. It is
very kind of him to do such charitable deeds in history's name, and we
realize how exceedingly unselfish he is. Just the same, this mania for
resurrecting defunct courtesans seems a trifle neurasthenic. It
appears to indicate a hysterical sympathy, on the part of the
playwright, with dead characters whom, in life, he would hesitate at
asking to dinner _en famille_.

The two women who built up "The Lady Shore" smashed history into
smithereens in their rabid and frenzied effort to make her an
exquisite impersonation of nearly all the virtues. It was, in fact,
grotesque and ludicrous. With any old history book staring them in the
face, they treated Jane Shore precisely as though she were the heroine
of a dime novel. They had no qualms. They lopped great wads from her
past, and huge excrescences from her present, and by the time that she
had reached the last act, the audience sat dazed at the delicate
beauty of her character. No masculine playwright could have done as
much. Possibly if the purifiers of Lady Jane Shore elected to
dramatize the career of Messalina, they would make of her a
combination of Joan of Arc and Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall.

The _Jane Shore_ at the Hudson Theater was married to a brute of a
husband, but she left him simply because she was driven to it, poor
girl! She became the mistress of _Edward IV._, apparently because she
yearned to be a mother to his children. She was always rescuing the
little princes from the _Duke of Gloucester_. She sat beside _Edward
IV._, in the council chamber of Westminster Palace, so that she could
beseech him to pardon delinquents who were brought before him in a
procession of fifteenth century "drunk and disorderly."

There never was a more perfect lady. The playwrights unfortunately
omitted to picture her teaching a Sunday school, and I can only
imagine that they must have forgotten to do so. _Jane Shore's_ love
for _Edward IV._ was depicted in such lily tints that you simply hated
the memory of your history book that said such rude things about her
life after the sovereign's death. The historical "penance" that on the
stage seemed so effective was, as we know, really unavailing. Dramatic
license is a great thing, and it is pardonable when it is used with
discrimination. But made to do duty as a daub, it is unjustifiable.
What is the use of going down into history as one thing, if you are to
be bobbed up on the stage, after the passage of centuries, as another?
To the feminine playwright, the line that separates saints from
sinners is an invisible boundary.

As a play, "The Lady Shore" was mere melodrama, of a somewhat
incoherent nature. Perhaps if the central character had been
imaginary--and it was nearly that--the melodrama would have been all
the better for it. Why not invent a good new character, instead of
revamping a bad old one? Why not exercise the imagination upon some
original creation, instead of straining it around a type that lurks in
the libraries? The authors of "The Lady Shore" might have used their
labors more advantageously. It is always a futile task to rewrite
history. History is cold, and unbudgingly accurate. Why trifle with
it?

Miss Virginia Harned, however, escaped from her play. She is an
emotional actress of considerable force, as she showed us in her
production of "The Lady of the Camelias." She has the power of
repression. She is artistic, sincere and graceful. Her work in this
diffuse play proved that beyond the peradventure of a doubt, so that
her engagement at the Hudson Theater need not be unduly deplored. The
_Gloucester_ of John Blair was extremely amusing. Such a _Richard_,
the most imaginative imaginer could never have dreamed of! He played
the part as though the _Duke of Gloucester_ were an Ibsen gentleman,
battling with a dark green matinée. Mr. Loraine came from "Nancy
Stair" to "The Lady Shore," and was _Edward IV._ It would be
interesting to know which "heroine" he really preferred. The little
princes in the tower seemed to deserve their fate. They were arguments
in favor of race suicide.

Two other celestial bodies of the feminine gender, fixed for one brief
week apiece on the theatrical "concave," moved quickly in the
direction of "the road." These more or less heavenly lights were Miss
Odette Tyler and Miss Eugenie Blair, who appeared at those
kaleidoscopic theaters called "combination houses." Miss Tyler used to
be something of a Broadway "favorite"--a term that has lost a good
deal of its significance. She appeared in the little Yorkville Theater
on the highroad to One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street, in a play of
her own, called "The Red Carnation."

No purpose would be served in analyzing this uncanny, chaotic mass,
even were it possible to do so. Miss Tyler placed herself amid French
revolutionary surroundings, and was seen as a remarkable "romantic"
French woman, with a strong American accent and an emphatic New York
manner. She fluttered through Paris in 1793, evidently convinced that
it was just as "easy" as New York in 1905. She had a caramel demeanor
and ice-cream allurements. She kittened and frivoled through the Reign
of Terror with an archness that was commendable, though somewhat
misplaced, and she let loose a lay figure labeled _Marie Antoinette_
that was designed to frame her own accomplishments.

Familiar as we are with the French revolution, used as a stage motive,
"The Red Carnation" threw such a new light upon it all, that we were a
trifle dumfounded. Miss Tyler gracefully revised it for us, and made
it appear as a somewhat gay and frolicsome time. Moreover, it had all
the modern improvements. It seemed to be steam-heated and
electric-lighted, and although _Marie Antoinette_ did not make her
entrance in an automobile, you felt that it was waiting outside.
Historians, interested in the French revolution, might get some
valuable sidelights from Miss Odette Tyler's idea of it. The actress
herself has an agreeable personality and considerable ability.

The other "star" to whom I have fitfully alluded--Miss Eugenie
Blair--has much vogue outside of New York. She came to the Murray Hill
Theater with a version of Wilkie Collins' much-abused "New Magdalen,"
which was called "Her Second Life." This being her life number two,
you felt a distinct sensation of relief that you were spared a glimpse
at lives numbers one and three. It was such a very crude performance
that I should not have dragged it into this record had it not been for
the fact that Miss Blair was part of the singular display of celestial
bodies that I have tried to indicate in this article. She is a weighty
actress corporeally, if not artistically, and poor _Mercy Merrick_
fared rather badly. This Wilkie Collins heroine has been neglected of
late, in favor of such base subterfuges as figures of the _Nancy
Stair_ caliber, but certain signs point to revivals of "The New
Magdalen," which as an emotional story has seldom been surpassed.
Compared with the pitiful puppet "romances" of to-day, this genuine
piece of throbbing fiction seems to be in distinctly another class.

Mr. Frank Keenan, with whose praiseworthy effort to emulate the
tactics of M. Antoine in Paris my readers are familiar, gave up the
Berkeley Lyceum ghost, unable to weather the storm and stress of
experiment. While admiring Mr. Keenan's energy, and appreciating the
little one-act bills that he offered with such rapid-transit celerity,
it is impossible to avoid deprecating the lack of logical foresight
that he manifested.

He trifled with our young affections, aroused our enthusiasm and
inspired in us the belief that a permanent institution was inevitable,
and then--quietly dropped out. In other walks of life, people who make
experiments have generally supplied themselves with the wherewithal to
wait while their schemes approach fruition. Rome was not built in a
day, but if the builders thereof had been actors, Rome never would
have been built at all! The actor, who is usually a singularly
unbalanced person, looks for immediate success, and can endure nothing
else.

Why Mr. Keenan should have expected to jump into a whirlwind of
instantaneous applause is an enigma. Nothing that is out of the
conventional rut succeeds at the start. There must be patience,
perseverance and a struggle. Otherwise life would be very easy, which
it is not. The rosy little scheme at the Berkeley Lyceum had attracted
considerable attention. Critics paid homage to every change of bill,
anxious to chronicle success, and looking with glad eyes at the
possible advent of a new impetus to the jaded theatrical machine. They
had worked themselves into the most appreciative state of mind. Lo,
and behold! After a few weeks, M. Antoine's American imitator
evaporated. Lack of funds!

What a dismal lack of those funds there must have been when the
enterprise started! Who but an actor would embark upon a scheme, and
project such radiant promises in the interests of those who are tired
of wallowing in the trough of vulgar "popularity," when it was
apparent that, without that popularity, the thing couldn't last more
than a month? Mr. Keenan should apologize to M. Antoine, of Paris. He
took his name in vain. People with new ideas, opposed to the
conventionality of the old ones, expect naturally to bide their time
before the public unhesitatingly accepts them. If Mr. Keenan had
engaged in his alluring pursuit, willing and even anxious to "lose
money" before he made it, a very different story would have been told.

People ask why dramatic chroniclers grow cynical. The answer is
simple. They feel that they are persistently "jollied" along, and they
assuredly are. It was so in the case of the Berkeley Lyceum plan that
fell through simply because money failed to pour into the box office,
and M. Antoine, of Paris, lacked the vitality of Barnum & Bailey's
circus! It was so last year when Mr. Sydney Rosenfeld tried to
"elevate" the stage with the Century Players. This is an age of
get-rich-quickly, and there is no other object. Actors talk of art,
and of unconventionality; they inveigh against commercialism and pose
most picturesquely. But they are in such a hurry to spear the florid,
bloated body of easy success that they cannot wait. Mr. Frank Keenan
went direct from M. Antoine's Parisian plan to vaudeville!

The little play upon which he relied to turn the tide of dollars in
his direction was called "A Passion in a Suburb," and was described as
"a psychological study of madness," by Algernon Boyesen. It was horror
for the sake of horror, which is always distressing, and it was a
failure. It was food neither for the elect nor for the mob. Both
classes demand a plausible excuse for stage happenings. The picture of
an insane husband strangling his wife and child might be accepted as
the logical sequence of some startling train of events. But to enter a
playhouse and watch a couple of murders for no other reason than that
the murderer was a madman, is not enlivening. It is ghoulish.

I have devoted much space to Mr. Frank Keenan and his plan. I was
sorry for him until I thought it all over. Then I couldn't help
feeling a bit sore. It was all very foolish. The bubble was pricked so
quickly! It is a consolation to reflect that the New York critics did
everything in their power to push along a project that would have been
of great value to this metropolis. It was foredoomed to failure,
because it depended upon the iniquity known as "quick returns." _De
mortuis nil nisi bonum._ (I think I have, though!)

That a one-act play is fully able to create a veritable sensation, as
keen as any that a five-act drama might evoke, was instanced at the
Manhattan Theater, when Mrs. Fiske produced a little drama, written by
herself, and called "A Light from St. Agnes." I think I may say that
it was the finest and most artistic one-act play that I have ever
seen--and I've seen a few in my day. It aroused a matinée audience, on
a warm afternoon, to an ecstasy of enthusiastic approval, because it
appealed directly to the artistic fiber.

It was not a case for cold analytic judgment. It was not an occasion
when long-haired critics could draw a diagram, and prate learnedly of
"technique" and other topics that often make critics such insensate
bores. "A Light from St. Agnes" was recognized intuitively as great.
The soul of an audience never makes a mistake, though the brain
frequently errs. A brain might perhaps prove that this play was
artistically admirable, but the soul reached that conclusion instantly
and unreasoningly. The effect was marvelous.

I wonder if you quite grasp my meaning. You know there are some things
that refuse to be reduced to diagram form. They decline to answer to
the call of a, b and c. They won't be x'd and y'd algebraically. Very
material people of course rebel at this. They want everything cut and
dried. They would dissect the soul with a scalpel, and reduce psychic
effects to the medium of pounds and ounces. That is what certain
reviewers tried to do with "A Light from St. Agnes."

Their material eyes saw that the end of the little play was murder;
that its motive was a sacrilegious robbery--the theft of a diamond
cross from the body of a woman lying dead in a church; that the man
was a drink-besotted ruffian; that the woman was his illicit partner;
that the atmosphere was assuredly brutal. Material eyes saw all this.
Material senses reasoned that, given all these qualities, such a play
must be horrible, and unduly strenuous. But intuition set all this
reasoning awry. You see, intuition doesn't reason; it _knows_. It is
better to know than to reason. Get a dozen people to prove to you that
"A Light from St. Agnes" was a dismal and unnecessary tragedy. Oh,
they might be able to do it. Then go and see it, and you will
understand precisely what I am driving at.

Plays that appeal to intuition are the most wonderful offerings that
the theater can make. Nothing can stay their effect; nobody can
successfully argue against them. Rare indeed they are. When some
playwright, as the result of a genuine emotion, makes a drama, in the
sheer delight of that emotion, and with a disregard for
conventionality, and no hope of box-office approval--then you get a
work of art. Incidentally, I may remark that such a work of art is so
irresistible that it literally forces the box office to tinkle. It
would be a pity if it didn't.

The scene of "A Light from St. Agnes" is laid in a Louisiana village
called Bon Hilaire. _Michel_ and _Toinette_ occupy a rude hut, in the
vicinity of St. Agnes' Church. The light from the church sometimes
irradiates the sordid, loathsome room. In fact, _Toinette_ places her
couch in such a position that the light may shine upon her eyes, and
awaken her in time to call _Michel_, her befuddled partner.

A woman who has tried to reform the lawless life of this section of
Louisiana has died. Her body lies in the church. _Toinette_ and
_Michel_ have both been cynically amused, in their reckless way, at
her efforts, unavailing, to reform them. And she is dead! _Father
Bertrand_ visits _Toinette_, and tells her this. The peasant laughs.
The priest gives her a crucifix that the woman left for her, and its
influence--though the playwright is far too subtle even to suggest
this--is the "moral" of the little play for those who want their i's
dotted and their t's crossed.

The drama moves quickly. The drama is tragedy. _Michel_ returns, more
hopelessly intoxicated than ever. She lies on the rude couch, seeking
sleep. He talks, as he plies himself with drink. The subject is the
dead woman in the church of St. Agnes. Some one had placed a lily in
her hand. He hopes that nobody will ever dare to place a lily in his!
There are long silences; significant pauses. Through the open window
he looks into the church. He sees the dead woman, laid out on a
gold-embroidered cloth. On her breast is a cross of diamonds.

More long silences; more significant pauses. He must possess that
diamond cross. Why not? He hated the dead woman. He would steal into
the church and rob the body; nay, more, he would hurl insults at it.
_Toinette_ has the crucifix. Perhaps it is that; perhaps it is the
awakening of some forgotten instinct within her. The horror of the
man's intention convulses her. There is a terrible conflict between
the two. It is the very intensity of drama. The audience, wrought up,
holds its breath. Then _Toinette_, by a ruse, escapes from the man,
and, rushing from the dwelling, gives an alarm. The bells ring, in
wildest chime. _Michel_ realizes that he is trapped; that the woman
has undone him. He goes after her, finds her, brings her back. He
wrestles with her, forces her back upon the rude couch, and plunges
his knife into her throat.

The stage is in darkness. Yet you can dimly see him hovering over the
body; you watch him in a sort of fascination, as he washes the blood
from his hands, and then furtively, in the silence, steals away.
_Toinette_ lies, extended on the couch, motionless--dead. From the
window the light from St. Agnes creeps into the room. It is cast
tenderly over _Toinette's_ body, which it irradiates strangely as the
curtain falls slowly.

One must "describe" plays, even when in so doing one runs the risk of
doing them an injustice. My recital of the story of "A Light from St.
Agnes" sounds bald, as I recall the effect that the play produced. I
insist that never for one moment was it "morbid" or unnecessarily
horrible. It rang true, without one hysterical intonation. It was
sincere, dignified, artistic, beautiful. It was admirably staged; it
was acted by John Mason, William B. Mack and Fernanda Eliscu with
exquisite appeal.

Mrs. Fiske scored heavily as a playwright. There were two other
one-act dramas from her pen--"The Rose" and "The Eyes of the Heart."
The latter made an excellent impression, but it was in "A Light from
St. Agnes" that she stamped herself indelibly upon the season.



FOR BOOK LOVERS

Archibald Lowery Sessions

    Practical purposes served by stories of trade and commerce.
    Something more than entertainment. Among the interesting new
    books are "The Common Lot," by Robert Herrick; "The Master
    Word," by L. H. Hammond; "The Plum Tree," by David Graham
    Phillips.


Spring has brought with it a multitude of gay volumes. American
bookbinding has at last reached such a point that, whatever the nature
of its contents, a novel may at least make an impression by its good
clothes.

Trade stories almost overcrowd this brilliant assemblage. Of course,
it is what might be expected of American commercialism, that our
literature should open its doors to all phases of business and
manufacture. Most of us feel particularly at home and in our element,
as it were, when finding amusement for a leisure hour among mills or
stock markets.

And these tales, like the Rollo books, impart much valuable
information to the uninitiated. We can remember feeling a slight
degree of impatience some years ago, when Mr. Hopkinson Smith gave us
his careful demonstration of the building of stone piers in the pages
of "Caleb West." But in the end we recognized thriftily that he had
given us, for the small price of the book, enough points to be
available for carrying on an intelligent conversation with a stone
mason; a decided addition to one's accomplishments in those days of
social misunderstanding.

That book came with the first advances of the tide. Now hundreds of
such volumes are washed up at our feet, out of which we may accumulate
regular trade libraries if we like, from which a young student can
learn the ins and outs of all professions and commercial ventures, their
temptations or advantages, and their relation, as well, to the mysterious
workings of love. What a possession for a would-be-well-equipped
worldling!

The only difficulty is, what are we going to do when these resources
are used up?

However, there is no real need to worry. We can still encourage the
unsuccessful author, who has been befogged by romance and idealism, to
peg away for a year or two at some, if possible, unique form of
manufacture, going into it from the bottom and learning its tricks and
its manners. He will have at least the opportunity of becoming a good
mechanic, and probably some chance of getting up a paying novel in the
hereafter--with a seductive cover.

       *       *       *       *       *

There can be no doubt that "The Common Lot," by Robert Herrick,
Macmillan Company, is among the strongest of this year's books, and
one which should take high rank as a thoroughly representative
American novel.

From beginning to end it absorbs attention, is virile in the depiction
of character, and most of all notable in its absolute fidelity to
human nature and the modern point of view, even where it points an
overwhelming moral. The story of Jackson Powers' career, his promising
beginning, the natural temptation to overlook a bit of dishonesty, and
his equally natural response to it, followed by his deterioration as
an architect who sacrifices his ideals to commercial interests, is a
fine piece of work; so is the portrait of his strong wife, and her
slow but crushing realization of his weakness.

The delightful little doctor in the slums, and the defiant product of
conventionality, Venetia Phillips, supply plenty of humor, and for
sensation, one need not look further than the thrilling description of
the Glenmore fire, which, in its awful tragedy, reveals Powers to
himself as a criminal.

Not the least powerful scene is that in which his confession and
attempts to atone are received by the contemptuous man of the world,
who sees in them only weakness and cowardice, despite his scorn of the
crime.

No reader will put down the book without having experienced some
stirrings of heart and some reminders of personal experience, or
without a keen interest in the story.

       *       *       *       *       *

As "The Cost" dealt with finance on a big scale, so David Graham
Phillips' latest book, "The Plum Tree," Bobbs-Merrill Company, deals
with politics on a big scale.

In these two stories, Mr. Phillips depends for the success of his
narrative rather upon theme and plot than upon style and
characterization; not that these two elements are slighted, or that
they are not skillfully and masterfully handled, but that one feels
that they are purposely subordinated to the subject-matter and to
interest in the development of the tale.

That it is an intensely interesting book cannot be denied; it is so
because it is near enough to the facts of politics to make the
stirring and dramatic episodes it describes seem like the account of a
phase of vital human life.

The story is that of young Sayler's development from a green,
inexperienced and impecunious young lawyer, to the seasoned man who
controls the politics of the country through his unerring manipulation
of both party machines; the maker of Presidents, the master of
Congress, the terror of the financial world. The methods by which he
achieves these results make up the action of the story; they are such
as we are all familiar with, except, perhaps, in the combination which
Mr. Phillips makes of them.

The love element is of minor importance, and doubtless, to some minds,
it will be considered unattractive. But no one can deny that the
story, as a whole, is one of more than ordinary power.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Harpers publish another new story by Warwick Deeping, "The
Slanderers." It is a novel which, in style, so suggests George
Meredith as to make one suspect that the author is a pupil of the
older writer.

A pair of idealists, quite realistic, nevertheless, in their
introduction to one another, and in the attachment which follows, are
the chief actors in the plot. Gabriel Strong, the dreamy son of a
prosperous English squire, falls in love with Joan Gildersledge, the
equally dreamy daughter of a bestial and intemperate miser. Gabriel
marries an unsatisfactory young woman in the vicinity, Ophelia Gusset,
and retains Joan as his consoler and friend in a virtuous but
high-strung companionship, out of which the country gossips, who hear
of it through a spying servant, develop a slander.

Gabriel's wife, meantime, is amusing herself with a military man at a
watering place. The clearing up of this situation, and the pairing off
of congenial couples with various striking episodes, among them the
death of Zeus Gildersledge, and his denunciation of his daughter, and
the final reconciliation of Gabriel with his father, by whom he has
been disinherited, make up a tale in which interest is sustained to
the very end. The book is full of dainty descriptions of landscape,
and the few leading personalities are well and strongly drawn.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The Master Word," by L. H. Hammond, Macmillan, is described upon the
title-page as "a story of the South of to-day." Its background is
placed in the phosphate region of Tennessee, and the author assures us
that many of the incidents described, "especially those more or less
sensational in their nature," actually occurred within her own
experience. The purpose of the story, she says, furthermore, is "in
full accord with Southern thoughts and hopes."

It is hardly necessary to say that it would not be a story of the
South if it did not deal in some way with the race question; but it
would be premature to conclude from this that it is essentially a
problem novel.

The opening chapters introduce this question, growing out of the
distressing circumstances of a wife's discovery of her husband's
infidelity, and the problem is interwoven closely with the plot in the
presence of the latter's illegitimate mulatto daughter. Her career and
end are the more unpleasant to the reader because of the conviction
that they are detailed with facts as they exist in the South. The
pathetic interest of Viry's story, though properly subordinate to the
main plot, forces itself on the reader's attention.

In other respects, also, the truth of the conditions described is
impressed upon one, even though he may be unfamiliar with the facts.

It is a very strong tale, full of color, with a consistently developed
plot, constructed with a fine sense of proportion and vivid
characterization, except in one respect, which constitutes the weak
point of the story--that is to say, the character of Dick Lawton, who
is somewhat priggish and altogether disappointing.

       *       *       *       *       *

Miss Geraldine Bonner has very wisely selected a theme for her story,
"The Pioneer," Bobbs-Merrill Company, with which she is thoroughly at
home. Its subtitle is "A Tale of Two States"--viz.: California and
Nevada, and, therefore, as may be correctly inferred, it is a mining
story, or at least a story in which this element plays an important
part.

The action takes place during the years almost immediately following
the Civil War, and leads up to the period of the Bonanza discoveries
in Nevada, in the early seventies. With such material as this
afforded, it is easy to see that an extremely interesting tale can be
constructed by so experienced an author as Miss Bonner.

The story involves, of course, the consecutive gain and loss of
fortunes many times repeated; it pictures the social life of San
Francisco and the rough life of Nevada mining camps, and gives
attractive glimpses of the valleys of California, all with a degree of
descriptive power that is a little unexpected.

The character of the old pioneer, Colonel Parrish, and the two
sisters, June and Rosamund Allen, and the reciprocal affection of the
three, furnish the large element of human interest in the story, for
they are very attractive and lovable people. The relations of the two
girls with "Uncle Jim" arrest the attention and stimulate the
sympathies of the reader even more than the love affairs of the
former.

The narrative flows on pretty evenly, with no strikingly dramatic
situations and no overwhelming climax, but interest is held
tenaciously all through.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another of the late Guy Wetmore Carryl's posthumous books is "Far From
the Maddening Girls," published by McClure, Phillips & Co.

It is altogether a delicious piece of nonsense, serious neither in
style nor intention, filled with puns so atrocious as to make the
reader admire the author's audacity, the recklessness of which adds
much to his entertainment.

A bachelor, hopelessly cynical, as he thinks, on the subject of women,
who deludes himself into the conviction that he can successfully and
permanently escape from them, is not only a fair mark for any sort of
ridicule, but also a fruitful theme for a farce. The particular
bachelor who figures in this narrative devised a means of effecting
this end by building himself a country house--of all things! The
result is, of course, obvious; as, indeed, the result of a farce ought
to be.

Doubtless some critical souls will call the story flat, but to such
people we can only say that there is a lot of harmless fun in the book
that will act as an efficient corrective for jaundiced views of life.

       *       *       *       *       *

A very charming story is "The Princess Passes," by C. N. and A. M.
Williamson, the authors of "The Lightning Conductor," which will be
recalled with a great deal of pleasure by a multitude of novel
readers. The new book is published by Henry Holt & Co.

Like "The Lightning Conductor," the new book has for its theme a
European tour, partly by automobile and partly on foot, undertaken by
the hero, Lord Montagu Lane, at the urgent solicitation of his
friends, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Winston, to cure a serious case of
disappointed love.

That he should find ample consolation for the loss of Helen Blantock,
and in the end lose interest in her and her titled grocery man, will
not surprise the reader. The manner in which it is effected, however,
involves some rather unconventional details, worked out, of course,
through the agency of a delightful American girl. Anyone who has read
"The Heavenly Twins" will doubtless find something to stir
reminiscence in the intercourse between Lord Lane and the Boy. In this
the chief interest in the plot centers.

It is altogether a charming narrative, full of pretty descriptive
passages, and colored by the evident satisfaction the authors took in
writing it.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The Secret Woman," by Eden Phillpotts, Macmillan Company, is a little
tale of English farm life, with a picturesque setting, great intensity
of action and passion, and some indefiniteness as to what code of
morals the rather unpleasant performances of its characters should be
judged by.

As adultery, usury, murder and suicide are among these little
eccentricities, offset against superstition, religion and rationalism,
the reader may take his choice of theories. Interest is sustained
without question, and the two women--an older and a younger one--who
as heroines and wrongdoers enlist our sympathy, are attractive and
painted in clearer colors than the men. One or two minor
personalities, however, are clearly drawn, and the dramatic element
forcefully developed.

       *       *       *       *       *

It would be difficult to hit upon a novelist who shows wider
divergences in his work than Booth Tarkington, not because he gives in
it any special evidence of versatility--a word which implies something
like genius, or at least talent. This peculiarity is due rather to an
arbitrary method in the choice of themes.

In his latest book, "In the Arena," published by McClure, Phillips &
Co., he has given a striking demonstration of this. It is a collection
of six short stories, dealing with the subject of State and municipal
politics. The question of cause and effect here is comparatively
unimportant; whether Mr. Tarkington went to the Indiana legislature to
get material for short stories, or whether he has written these
because of his experience as an assemblyman, is not a matter of
literary interest.

The narrations are not particularly convincing. Those who are familiar
with the practical politician, and his followers and their modern
methods, will find few parallels in the characters and descriptions in
these tales. Political bosses nowadays seldom resort to the crude
device of ballot-box stuffing and threatened blackmail to defeat
reformers, and reformers are unlikely to be so easily frightened as
Farwell was. The game is much more complex than it used to be,
principally because the reformers have learned to play it more
intelligently, and those who fail to give them credit for astuteness
know little about the rules; the politicians themselves have ceased to
make the mistake of underrating their antagonists.

The female lobbyist is a character that "once-upon-a-time" flourished
at the national and in State capitals, but modern methods have made
her, to a large degree, superfluous, and now the high-priced lawyer,
representing the Trust, deals directly with the party boss instead of
the individual lawmaker. It is cheaper and quicker.

Mr. Tarkington's friends, Boss Gorgett and Mrs. Protheroe, belong to a
species that is extinct--at any rate, outside of Indiana.

       *       *       *       *       *

"The Chronicles of Don Q," by K. and Hesketh Prichard, J. B.
Lippincott Company, is a picturesque tale of adventure, told, however,
with a restraint that lends dignity and a fair degree of plausibility.

Being the story of a Spanish bandit, there is, of course, an abundance
of murder and sudden deaths; but as the right persons survive, and a
majority of the villains die, with more or less violence, the
sensibilities of the reader are not much shocked.

In spite of Don Q's profession and associates, and a temperament
somewhat pessimistic for a highwayman, he is not really a bad sort of
fellow. His idiosyncrasies are due, doubtless, to an early
disappointment in love, on account of which allowances are to be made,
particularly as he retains his courtly manners, a careful regard for
the misfortunes of others, so far as his occupation permits, a very
efficient sympathy with the weak and a devotion to the Church
manifested in many practical ways--his piety being of the kind
imitated, with more or less success in America, by persons said to
belong to the same class as Don Q.

Though apparently absolutely isolated from the rest of the world in
his mountain retreat in southern Spain, he keeps in touch with affairs
outside so far as they affect him, and is able, in mysterious ways, to
anticipate, and so defeat, all attempts to ensnare him. Surprise is
impossible for him, as it was for Sherlock Holmes.

If his portrait, by Stanley Wood, is a faithful likeness, the
influence of his presence is not to be wondered at.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Constance Trescott," by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, Century Company, stands
out among the stronger books of the season. He takes for his heroine a
not unfamiliar type of woman, reared by an old uncle whose antipathy
to religion has made her, as she describes it: "Neither religious nor
non-religious--open-minded."

She is, however, docile because of her deep love for her husband,
under the latter's attempts to interest her in the faith which he
holds dear. Trescott, who compels admiration by his fine,
straightforward course, takes his wife to a small Missouri town, where
Southern prejudice is still rife and laws are lax, and where feeling
is bitter against the uncle of Constance, the absentee landowner, who
has sent Trescott to represent him in enforcing evictions from a tract
of land to which he claims ownership.

Greyhurst is Trescott's opponent in a consequent lawsuit, a
picturesque and passionate character, with a mixture of Creole and
Indian blood. While he admires Constance, he hates her husband, whom
he labors unscrupulously to defeat.

The court scene, where Constance is called to give certain testimony,
and does it to the confusion of Greyhurst, is interesting; and still
more dramatic is the murder of Trescott by Greyhurst, after the
decision against the latter.

The rest of the book turns upon the revenge which Constance,
undisciplined as she is by nobler inspirations, devotes her life and
fortune to wreaking upon Greyhurst, and its sensational consummation.
The story is one of Dr. Mitchell's most characteristic efforts, and,
like all he writes, is well worth reading.



  Transcriber's Notes
    The Contents list was added.
    Cold [changed to Could] hold all he could chew.
    Dena [changed to Deena] turned and came slowly
    dressed in loose-fitting mantles of guano [changed to guanaco] skins
    secretary at Gibralter [changed to Gibraltar]
    among notaable [changed to notable] men
    The Wickcliffe [changed to Wickliffe] boy, Billy
    divorçees [changed to divorcées]--hitherto Bentnor's
    particularly large and lusscious [changed to luscious] mushroom





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