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Title: Jane Lends A Hand
Author: Watkins, Shirley
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.

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                           Jane Lends A Hand


                            Shirley Watkins

                _Author of “Nancy of Paradise Cottage,”_
                     _and “Georgina Finds Herself”_

                      The GOLDSMITH Publishing Co.
                              CHICAGO ILL.
                              MADE IN USA

                          _Copyright 1923, by_
                      _George W. Jacobs & Company_

                          All rights reserved
                           PRINTED IN U.S.A.




                           JANE LENDS A HAND


At six o’clock Jane had awakened, and, lifting her tousled head from her
pillow, sniffed the frosty air.

The red sunlight of an October morning was sending its first ruddy beams
into the bare little room, but notwithstanding this sign that the
morning was advancing, and the fact that all the children had had their
first summons to get up and dress, Jane, this lazy Jane, merely burrowed
down deeper into her warm nest, and buried her round nose in the
patchwork quilt.

She had a strong disinclination to leaving her cosy bed, and braving the
penetrating chill of an autumn morning. Owing to Mr. Lambert’s Spartan
ideas on the up-bringing of children, the little bed-rooms under the
irregular roof of the old house were never heated until the bitterest
days of mid-winter. _His_ children were not, said he, to be softened and
rendered unfit to endure the various hardships of life by pampering. His
wife, the jolly comfort-loving Gertrude, sometimes confided privately to
Grandmother Winkler that she thought it was too hard on the children to
have to leave their warm beds, and dress in rooms where the ice formed a
film in the water pitchers, and in which they could see their breath;
but when anyone in the Lambert household had ideas contrary to those of
the master, they did not advertise them publicly.

Among Mr. Lambert’s pet aversions were Unpunctuality and Laziness, and
no one had better reason to know this than Jane. Nevertheless, she
infringed upon the iron-bound rules of the household every day of her
life, and cheerfully paid her penalties with a sort of serene stoicism.
She had inherited from her placid, happy-tempered mother a vigorous
dislike of physical discomfort, and a calm way of doing what she wanted,
and then good-naturedly paying the piper as circumstances demanded.

In the adjoining room, the twins, Wilhelmine (or Minie) and Lottie could
be heard chattering and laughing in their fresh, sweet voices.
Shivering, but rosy and wide-awake, the two little girls were dressed in
their warm woolen frocks inside of ten minutes. Since they were six
years old, Mr. Lambert had permitted no one to help them but themselves;
and so, with their little cold red fingers they buttoned each other’s
dress and plaited each other’s smooth, shining yellow hair; then set to
work making up their wooden beds, sweeping, dusting, and putting their
room to rights.

At half-past six came the summons to breakfast, which had already been
announced by appetizing odors of porridge and frying bacon.

Little Minie, running past her sister’s door, glanced in, and stood
transfixed with horror at the sight of Jane rolled up like a dormouse,
and still dozing peacefully.

“Oh, _Ja-ane_!”

A head covered with curly, reddish hair rose above the mountain of
bed-clothes; a pair of sleepy eyes blinked at the little girl.

“Um.” A yawn. “What time is it?”

“It’s _half-past thix_, and breakfath’s all ready, and you’ll be late
_again_, Jane. Whatever will Papa thay!” This was Lottie, who never
failed to join her twin on any occasion of grave importance. The two
plump, rosy-cheeked little girls, with their stiffly starched white
pinafores, and with their yellow pig-tails sticking out at the sides of
their heads, were as much alike as a pair of Dresden ornaments. They
stood now, hand-in-hand, their china-blue eyes round with reproof and
dismay, gazing at lazy Jane.

“I’ve got a—a headache,” announced Jane unblushingly, “I don’t think
I’ll go to school to-day.”

“O-oh, Jane!” remonstrated the twins in chorus.

“Well, I haven’t exactly got one _now_,” said Jane, “but I would have if
I got up too suddenly. I’ve been studying too hard. That’s what.”

“Ooooh, Jane!” The twins covered their rosy mouths with their hands, and

“You don’t know anything about it,” said Jane, tartly. She reflected for
a moment. On second thought the plea of a headache seemed weak;
furthermore, if it were accepted the chances that Mr. Lambert would
recommend a bitter dose and a dull day in the house had to be
considered; for the stern parent had a certain grim humour of his own,
and was not easily to be imposed on even by Jane’s fertile invention.

“Well, then put down the windows, Minie—like a good little darling, and
I’ll be down-stairs in three minutes. The day after to-morrow’s Saturday
anyhow.” And encouraged by this cheerful thought, Jane at length
prepared to rise.

Her idea of “three minutes” was astonishingly inaccurate. She dawdled
into her clothes, interrupted by fits of abstraction, during which, with
one foot on the chair, and the button-hook thrust through the
button-holes of her sturdy shoes, she stared out of the uncurtained

The old house, a rambling two storey building, half-wood, half-brick,
abounding in gables and dormer windows which gave it its quaintly
picturesque outline, fronted on the busiest street of the industrious
but placid little town.

For more than a hundred years the Winkler family had held there a
certain calm, unassailable position; rightly theirs as the unfailing
reward of industry, honesty, and the other simple, respectable virtues
of conscientious, self-respecting citizens and tradesfolk.

One hundred and thirty years ago, to be exact, old Johann Winkler had
settled there, and had founded what deserves the name of an Institution.
Certainly, it was the most wonderful bakeshop in the world.

Now, no one but a true Winkler had ever been intrusted with the precious
recipes for those spiced fruit cookies, or those rich snow-cakes, those
golden breakfast-rolls, or those plum-puddings which have immortalized
the name. And in view of the importance which such a family must have in
the eyes of all who respect supremely excellent baking, a short history
of its affairs may be admitted here.

It is hardly necessary to say that it prospered for no Winkler had ever
been born lacking the virtue of wise thriftiness, or the ability to make
small savings bring in generous increase. At the same time, the shop was
never moved from the spot where it had first been opened, nor was any
attempt ever made to give it a more pretentious appearance.

The corner stone which old Johann Winkler had laid himself with so much
pride bore the date, “A.D. 1789.”

A good many generations of little Winklers had grown up in the shelter
of the quaint old house; and a good many generations of little
townspeople had stuffed their round stomachs with those incomparable
spice-cakes and ginger-nuts, had loitered hungrily around the tempting
show-window, and had scrawled caricatures on the walls and the worn
stone steps.

The business had been inherited in a direct line from father to son;
until the day when Uncle Franz Winkler had gone to sea, and left his
domestic patrimony in the hands of his sister.

This sister was no other than the jolly Gertrude, once the prettiest,
most blooming maiden in Frederickstown; who, in the course of time
married one Peter Carl Lambert, a grave, practical-minded young man; and
this grave, practical-minded young man (who, as the years went on became
more and more grave, not to say, severe, and more and more practical)
was no other than the father of all the young Lamberts, a portion of
whose history is going to be the subject of this story.

Mr. Lambert was, himself, the owner of a moderately prosperous business,
dealing in the whole-sale and retail distribution of hay and grain; but
at the some time he had no inclination to allow his wife’s inheritance
to decline, and while he managed his own affairs, Gertrude and
Grandmother Winkler continued in charge of the bakery, which under his
shrewd supervision became more flourishing than ever.

On one point and only one did husband and wife find cause for
dissension. It had become a tradition in the family, as has already been
said, that no one but a Winkler had ever possessed the magical recipes
for those cakes and pies which had no rivals. Now, since the outrageous
and even impious conduct of Uncle Franz, the question had risen, who
should be regarded as the heir to the business and the name? For there
were no more Winklers. Gertrude wanted her only son, Carl, to be her
heir, although he was a Lambert. But Mr. Lambert had other ideas for the
youth, and the hope that his son would, by becoming a professional man,
take a step up in the world, was dear to his heart. Furthermore, Carl
himself, a calm, phlegmatic and determined boy, shared his father’s
views. He had announced his intention of becoming a lawyer.

So matters stood. There seemed to be no solution to the problem. But
these family difficulties had no place in Jane’s mind as she took her
time to wash and dress on that October morning. What engrossed _her_
thoughts was the concocting of a feasible plan to avoid the distasteful
prospect of going to school.

The sun had fully risen now, and already the frosty air had been
softened by its genial warmth. She opened her window again, and leaned
out, looking critically from east to west with the gaze of an old
seaman, calculating the possibilities of the weather.

There was not a cloud in the sky. Never before, it seemed to her, had
the heavens displayed such a vast expanse of deep, untroubled blue. A
light, fresh wind rustled through the hazel-nut tree whose boughs
touched her window; and sent a few of the ruddy, copper-colored leaves
drifting lazily down to the uneven brick pavement below.

Across the square, she could see the broad, open door of Mr. Lambert’s
warehouse, where already two men in blue shirts were at work tossing a
fresh wagon-load of corn husks into the well-filled loft. Early to bed
and early to rise was the motto of the industrious folk of
Frederickstown, one and all. Wagons covered with white canvas hoods, and
filled with tobacco, others, overflowing with pumpkins, celery, apples
and cranberries—all the rich autumn produce of the fertile farming
country beyond the town—were rumbling over the cobblestones in a
picturesque procession, on their way to the market-place. And the
well-known smell of the rimy vegetables was to the adventuresome Jane an
almost irresistible call to the open.

Her meditations were soon cut short by a final summons—and this in the
firm cold tones of Mr. Lambert himself—to breakfast.

“Jane! Coming? Or must I fetch you?”

“Jiminy!” said Jane, and banging down the window she fled, clattering
down the old wooden staircase like a whirlwind.

In the large, sunny room, which served nearly all purposes, the family
had gathered for breakfast; Granny Winkler at one end of the table—a
miniature old lady with a frilled cap,—Mr. Lambert at the other end,
Carl at his right and flaxen haired Elise at his left, Mrs. Lambert with
one twin beside her and another facing her. Jane’s chair, between Elise
and Lottie was still conspicuously empty.

A door at the right of the dining room opened into the bakeshop, and a
second door at the back led to the kitchen, from which the exquisite
odors of the day’s outlay of fresh cakes and bread were already issuing.
The big, bright room, with its casement windows opening onto the small
garden hemmed in by high brick walls, with its pots of geraniums, and
Chinese lilies,—which were Elise’s special care—its immaculately dusted
cupboards on whose shelves gleamed rows of solid old German pewter ware,
was the scene in which the Lambert’s, great and small, carried on a
large part of their daily affairs. In one corner stood Mr. Lambert’s
squat, business-like desk, where every evening, from nine to ten, he
went over his accounts. At the round table in the center, the family ate
their meals, and at night, the children prepared their lessons, while
Grandmother Winkler, seated in her padded rocking chair, read her Bible,
or nodded over her knitting.

When Jane made her unceremonious entry, the family was seated, and, with
their heads bent reverently over their plates of steaming porridge, were
reciting grace in unison.

Mrs. Lambert, glancing up, made her a sign to take her place as
inconspicuously as possible; and accordingly just before Mr. Lambert
raised his head, she slipped into her chair.

Her father eyed her for a moment with uncertainty and displeasure; but
this morning he had another matter on his mind of greater importance
than that of reprimanding incorrigible Jane. Moreover, he had made it a
rule, always, if possible, to avoid unpleasantness at meals, owing to
the unfavorable effects upon the digestion. Consequently, after a brief,
cold stare at his daughter, whose shining morning face was as bland as
if her conscience were completely innocent of guilt, he said, solemnly,

“Good morning, Jane.”

And Jane said, beaming at him, “Good morning, Papa,” and rose to kiss
his cheek, and then to give her mother a hug that left the plump,
smiling, dimpling Gertrude quite breathless.

“Sit down now, you bad child,” whispered Mrs. Lambert, patting Jane’s
ruddy cheek, “and don’t talk. Your father is going to.”

The family sat silent and expectant, while Mr. Lambert gravely salted
his porridge, then fumbled for his steel-rimmed spectacles in the pocket
of his coat, fitted them on his high-bridged nose, and at length cleared
his throat.

By this time Jane, whose curiosity was of the most irrepressible
variety, had all but broken her neck by craning and wriggling in her
chair to see the letter which lay beside her father’s plate. It bore a
foreign stamp, and she guessed, and guessed rightly that it had some
bearing on Mr. Lambert’s gravity of demeanor. Finally, unable to endure
her father’s pompous preparations for speech any longer she pointed to
the envelope, and inquired timidly,

“Who’s that from, Papa?”

“That is none of your affair, Jane,” said Carl, with perfect truth, but
in his unfortunately superior and reproving way, “and you are very

He spoke with his characteristically priggish air, with a pomposity
ludicrously like his father’s, and doubly ludicrous in a lad of barely

Carl, who was Mr. Lambert’s darling, was at that time a tall, thin,
delicate looking boy, with a long pale face, straight brown hair, which
was cut in a bang across his forehead, and a pair of nearsighted, light
grey eyes, that blinked owlishly behind the thick lenses of his

It is true that his character was as nearly faultless as it is possible
for any youth’s character to be; he was quiet, studious, and dutiful. At
school he shone as by far the best of all the pupils, and at home he was
never known to disobey a single rule of the household. Intelligent
beyond the average, with a precocious love of accuracy; astonishingly,
even irritatingly self-controlled, and with a dry judicial quickness and
keenness already strongly developed, he was an unusually promising boy,
in whom one already saw the successful, complacent, cool-tempered man.
But at the same time he neither cared for, nor could boast of great
popularity. His mother felt more awe than affection for him; in all of
his sisters but Jane, he inspired only a sort of timid admiration and
respect; and his school-companions summed him up tersely as a “muff” and
a “grind.” For, while he walked away with the highest honors at the
close of every session, he was, if the truth must be told, something of
a coward. He had moods of sulkiness, and moods of maddening superiority.
His brain was nimble enough, but he had never been known to accept any
challenge to match his physical strength and courage with theirs. He
professed a deep contempt for their primitive and barbaric methods of
settling difficulties, and adroitly evaded the outcome of any
schoolboy’s discussion that seemed likely to end in mortal combat, by
yielding his point with a self-contained, contemptuous politeness, and a
premature diplomacy which mystified and enraged his companions.

Jane only was not to be dominated by his assumption of patronizing
authority; and at his unsolicited correction, she promptly bristled up.
It rarely took much to rouse the fiery, impulsive Jane.

“Mind your _own_ business!”

“_Jane_!” Mr. Lambert turned to her, his spectacles glistening
warningly. There was a moment’s silence.

“Do you wish to leave the table?”

“No, Papa, but—”

“Very well, then. Have the goodness to be quiet.”

“Yes, Papa. But—”

“Silence, ma’am! Your brother was quite right. He is older than you, and
he had good reason to reprimand you.”

Jane meekly subsided; but when her father had withdrawn his gaze, she
refreshed herself by making a most hideous grimace at her brother, who,
more complacent than ever, retaliated with a look of icy and withering

By this time, Mr. Lambert had almost finished a second reading of the
letter, while his wife scanned his face anxiously, not daring to urge
him to share its news with her. It covered three or four pages of cheap
paper, and was written in a great, sprawling script that consumed one
sheet in six or seven lines.

“It looks as if it were written by a _sailor_,” murmured Jane, without
lifting her eyes, and seemingly speaking to herself; and in the same
dreamy undertone, she explained this singular observation, “Everything
about a sailor is sort of loose and blowy; they’ve got blowy coats, and
blowy neckties, and blowy trousers—”

“You’ve never seen a sailor,” said Carl also in a low tone, “so you
don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I _do_ know what I’m talking about,” returned Jane, “I wrote a story
about a sailor once, and I could see him inside of my head just as
plainly as anything. He had red hair, and a fuzzy wart on his cheek,
like a caterpillar, and his name was Moses Thomson—”

“Well, wife, after all there is no choice left us,” said Mr. Lambert
laying down the letter. “Without a doubt, this will be a burden, a heavy
responsibility; but I hope I am not deficient in generosity. I think no
one can accuse me of that. I am prepared to do my duty in this matter as
in all others.”

“But—but what does the letter say, Peter?” asked Mrs. Lambert timidly.
“I haven’t seen it.”

“This letter is from your brother—”

“Yes. From Franz. I recognized his hand after all these years—”

“Your poor brother. Far be it from me to judge him. I have nothing to
say about him. A shiftless idler, a hair-brained, irresponsible
ne’er-do-well comes to no good end, and leaves better folk to take up
his burdens. But it is not for _us_ to judge. I have nothing to say
about him—”

“Peter! My poor brother—my poor Franz!” cried Mrs. Lambert, greatly
agitated, “what are you saying?” She stretched out her hand to take the
letter, and, in her concern, half-rose from her chair.

“I will read you his letter, my dear,” said Mr. Lambert. “Try to control
yourself.” He looked at her calmly and firmly, and she sat down again,
with tears welling up in her soft, beautiful eyes.

Mr. Lambert cleared his throat, and read:

    “Dear brother and Honored Sir; I hope this finds you and my
    good, dear mother, and my dear sister, Gertrude, and all your
    dear little ones in good health. I am not in good health. I am
    thinking that my time is about up although not an old man, just
    forty-two which is the Prime of life. The doctor, who is a good
    fellow, thinks it is about up with me but I have got a lot out
    of life and have no complaints to make. But I would ask you a
    favor, and hope that you will see your way to granting me this,
    seeing that I am a dying man and have no one to turn to and
    being in a forran country. My son, Paul, will soon be left
    alone, I fear, which is a bad thing for a young lad and I am
    hoping that perhaps being kinsfolk and he being a likely young
    fellow, good hearted though a bit unlicked, you may find your
    way to giving him a home until he can shift for himself. I
    haven’t done all I should have done by the lad, perhaps, living
    a kind of touch and go life, and I am hoping that you may find
    your way to letting him get some education which I think a
    valuable thing for a man, though having no great love of letters
    myself. This is a great favor I am asking I know but I trust you
    may find it in your heart to do me this favor and the boy will
    not forget it. The boy will work for you also and do as you say.
    He is sixteen years old now, and an orphan my wife being dead
    these ten years or so.

    “My dear brother, I beg you to forget me and my failings, which
    have been many and show your kindness to my poor boy. And now I
    will close with respectful regards to yourself and give my love
    to my dear old mother and to my dear sister and all her sweet
    children who must be big youngsters now.

                                         “Respectfully your brother,
                                                     “Franz Winkler.

    “P. S. Am not letting on to the boy what the doctor says as he
    will take it hard and I can’t bear that. Have just told him that
    I am sending him back to America with a friend, Mr. Morse, and
    that I will join him as soon as I am in better shape, and have
    told him how to find you.”

A silence followed the reading of this letter, and the emotions that it
had roused among the members of the little family, were plainly to be
seen in their faces. The twins who had not been able to understand it
but who felt that it had brought some grave news, looked first at their
father and then at their mother. Carl watched Mr. Lambert, and Elise’s
plump, rosy face was solemn; but Jane, as if she were pierced by an
understanding of the pathos that was magnified by the very clumsy
illiterateness of the letter, sat perfectly still; her vivid face
contracted with a look of genuine pain.

Mrs. Lambert was weeping. Then, suddenly, old Grandmother Winkler, who
had not said a word, got up, took her son’s letter out of Mr. Lambert’s
hand, and leaning on her cane, went out of the room.

The astonishment and awkwardness depicted in Mr. Lambert’s face showed
that he had not guessed that the letter would produce such an effect.

After a moment or two, he cleared his throat, and said in a gentle but
somewhat unctuous tone to his wife:

“My dear, we must not be impatient under our afflictions. This is very
sad; but it is the will of heaven, and we should learn to endure our
sorrows—er—uncomplainingly. Furthermore, Providence has seen fit to
soften this blow by—er—that is after all, you have not seen Franz in ten
years or more.”

“Yes, Peter. Of course,” answered Mrs. Lambert, meekly wiping her eyes
on her napkin. “But when I think of poor Franz—all alone—and the
boy—that poor child—”

“Of course my dear, your brother may have deceived himself. Come, he may
be on the road to health at this moment. Let us hope for the best. Let
us prepare to welcome our nephew, and perhaps,—who knows, Franz himself
may be spared to us.”

Mrs. Lambert’s face brightened. She was naturally optimistic, and
eagerly grasped this ray of hope. Moreover, while she had been very fond
of her brother, in years of absence his features had somewhat faded from
her memory. She was not fond of sorrow or melancholy, and was ready to
exchange grief for hope, and tears for sanguine smiles the moment she
saw a possibility of the future setting her fears at nothing.

“Yes, yes. What you say is quite true, Peter. After all Franz may
recover completely.”

“Certainly,” said Mr. Lambert, briskly. “And now my dear, let us

“Is Paul our cousin, Papa?” asked Jane.

Mr. Lambert ignored her question.

“I feel great sympathy for the boy,” he said to his wife. “It is hard
indeed to lose a father at his tender age. For after all, to whom can
one turn for such disinterested guidance? Who will have his welfare more
deeply at heart? I hope my son, that in comparing _your_ lot,” he turned
to Carl, “with that of this unfortunate young man, you will realize your
blessings. And I hope, nay, I believe that in me, this orphaned youth
will find one who in every way will strive to fill in his life a place
worthy of the revered name of ‘father.’”

“Then,” continued Jane, who had been following up her own train of
thought, “then Paul is a Winkler. And so he can go into the business
when he is a man.”

This simple observation, which had not yet occurred to anyone, called
forth looks of surprise.

“That is quite true!” exclaimed Mr. Lambert.

“But of course!” cried his wife.

“I see the beneficent hand of Providence in this,” said Mr. Lambert, who
was fond of thinking that Heaven had his domestic affairs very much in
mind. “Yes, we must prepare to welcome our nephew. I hope, my dear, that
he will not prove difficult to manage. I hope that he is not lacking in
a grateful heart.”

“Poor child. No father or mother, and so young,” murmured Mrs. Lambert,
her eyes again filling with tears. “And I never even knew that Franz had
a child. I had forgotten even that he had married.”

“Yon can put a cot in Carl’s room,” suggested Mr. Lambert; “I presume
that the boy will arrive in a day or two. And now, children, it is a
quarter past seven.”

Everyone rose from the table, and the day’s routine began again in its
accustomed groove. Mr. Lambert departed for the warehouse. Elise helped
the fat young servant girl to clear away the dishes; Carl went out to
bring in wood for the stove; even the twins had their household tasks
which had to be finished before they started to school at eight o’clock.

But Jane went off to find her Grandmother. Behind the counter, in the
bakeshop, the old woman was sitting, weeping quietly; and the slow tears
of age were trickling down her wrinkled, brown face, while she strained
her eyes to read the crooked awkward lines of her son’s letter.

“He was a good boy,” she said, taking Jane’s little hand in her gnarled
old one. “I understood him, never fear. He was a brave, fine boy—and he
always loved his old mother. I know that. Didn’t he send me this pretty

“But Granny, darling, he may get well. Don’t cry, Granny. Don’t you
cry.” She kissed the old woman, and patted her, feeling awed and
oppressed by this aged sorrow that she could not share.

After a minute, she quietly left Grandmother Winkler, and in an
unusually silent, and subdued mood, went away to help the twins.


At half past eight, Elise had seen that the two little girls had their
books and their packages of sandwiches, and started them off to school,
Carl and Jane marching behind.

“Oh, and Janey!” she called, hastening back to the doorway. “Will you
remember to give those patterns back to Lily Deacon for me. I’m going to
be _so_ busy. Any time this afternoon will do. I put them in your school

“All right,” said Jane, and Elise, always busy, always placid and
gentle, went back to her work.

“Well, what do _you_ think about it?” Jane asked, presently. She had
quite forgotten her recent friction with Carl, for quick tempered as she
was, she rarely remembered a quarrel ten minutes after it occurred.

“Think about what?” said Carl, gruffly.

“About Paul’s coming, of course. It’s awfully sad about Uncle Franz—but
it _is_ sort of exciting having a new cousin to stay with us, I think.”

“You wouldn’t think it so awfully exciting if _you_ had to share your
room with someone you never saw in your life,” returned Carl, sulkily.
“I don’t see why one of the store-rooms couldn’t be cleared out for him.
All I know is that I won’t stand for it a second if he tries to sling my
things around, or scatter his all over the place.”

Carl was never very enthusiastic about sharing anything with anyone
(though in this instance one might sympathize with his annoyance) and
his fussy love of neatness reached a degree that one would far sooner
expect to find in a crabbed old maid than in a boy of sixteen years.

Jane did not reply to this indignant objection.

“What do you think he’ll be like?” she asked next, scuffling through the
piles of ruddy brown leaves that lay thick on the uneven brick walk.

“I think he’ll be a big, roistering bully. That’s what I think,”
answered Carl savagely; his lips set in a stubborn line, and the lenses
of his spectacles glinted so angrily, that Jane decided to drop the

For several minutes they walked along in silence: the twins marching
ahead, chattering like little magpies, their yellow pigtails bobbing
under their round brown felt hats. Each clutched her spelling book and
reader, and her package of sandwiches and cookies; each wore a bright
blue dress, a bright red sweater, and a snow white pinafore.

It was fully a mile to the school, but as a rule the brisk young
Lamberts walked it in twenty minutes. This morning, however, Jane
dawdled shamelessly.

“I don’t feel like school to-day a bit,” she remarked, looking up
through the trees.

“You never do,” returned Carl, dryly, “but you’ve got to go all the
same. I bet you don’t play hookey again in a hurry.”

“H’m?” said Jane, “why not?”

“Why not?” the first really mirthful grin that Carl had shown that day
spread slowly over his serious features. “Didn’t you catch it hot enough
last time? You’re such an idiot anyway. If you’d only do your work
conscientiously you wouldn’t mind school. I’d hate it too if I were as
big a dunce as you.”

“Oh,—you would, would you, Goody-goody?” retorted Jane with spirit. “I’m
not a dunce. I’m the brightest girl in my class.”

“Whoo-ee!” whooped Carl, staggered by this cool conceit. “Well! If you
haven’t got cheek!”

“’Tisn’t cheek,” said Jane, calmly, “I am. I heard Dr. Andrews say so to
Miss Trowbridge.”

“Well—he must have been talking through his hat, then,” observed Carl.
“He was _probably_ talking about someone else.”

“No, he wasn’t. They were standing outside the school-room door, at
lunch-hour, and I was in there, and I heard Dr. Andrews say, ‘That
little Jane Lambert has brains. She’s one of the brightest children—’”

“That’s the trouble with you!” broke in Carl, thoroughly exasperated.
“You’ve got such a swell-head that you won’t work at all. And I don’t
see how anyone could say that you were clever when you get about one
problem right out of a dozen.”

“I don’t see how either,” said Jane placidly; “but he did. Oh, look—Miss
Clementina has got a new canary!”

There was no event that occurred in Frederickstown which did not excite
Jane’s interest. She stopped to peer into the front window of a small
brick house, where amid a perfect jungle of banana plants and ferns, a
brightly gilded cage hung between two much befrilled net curtains.

“Poor old lady, I’m glad she got her bird. He has a black spot on his
head just like her old one. I daresay her cat will eat him too. I wonder
what she has named him. Her old one was named William.” Jane giggled.

“What an idiotic name for a bird!” said Carl. Like his father, he was
never amused by anything that seemed to him fantastic. “You’d better
hurry up and stop peeking into everyone’s window. Come on.”

Jane reluctantly obeyed.

“William is a queer name for a bird,” she agreed amicably, “but it’s no
queerer than calling her cat Alfred, and that awful little monkey of
hers, Howard. She told me that she named her pets for all her old

“Her old sweethearts!” echoed Carl derisively.

“Yes. She said that she had dozens. And you know what? I believe it’s
true. Anyhow, she has lots of pictures of beautiful gentlemen, with
black moustaches and curly side-whiskers. I’ve seen the whole
collection. She said she never could bear fair men.”

“Humph!” said Carl.

“She said that she was dreadfully heartless when she was a girl. An
awful flirt. Professor Dodge still calls on her every Sunday
afternoon—all dressed up with a flower in his button-hole, and kid
gloves, and a little bouquet wrapped up in wet paper. And she plays the
piano for him, and sings ‘Alice Ben Bolt’ and ‘The Mocking Bird’ and
‘Coming Thro’ the Rye.’”

“What a busybody you are. Always prying into other people’s affairs. It
wouldn’t hurt you to mind your own business for a while, I must say.”

“I don’t pry into other people’s affairs,” said Jane, quite unruffled.
“Most of ’em seem to like to talk, and I just listen—that’s all.”

“There’s the bell, now! Hang it, we’re late. Why can’t you—” but here
Carl set off in a race for the school-house, outstripping the two
squealing, panting twins. And in another moment, Jane, too, was
scampering across the square as fast as her legs would carry her.

That was, in truth, not destined to be a very successful day for Jane.
To begin with, she was marked “tardy” for the third time that month. The
first classes went off passably; but she came to grief as she was
congratulating herself on the fact that she had managed to scrape along
fairly well.

With all her quickness and curiosity, Jane had small love for hard
study; but her aptness in gathering the general sense of a lesson at
almost a glance stood her in good stead, and with very little trouble on
her part she succeeded in shining quite brilliantly in history, general
science, and geography. When it came to mathematics however, she met her

This class was presided over by Miss Farrel, a vague old lady, with
near-sighted, reproachful blue eyes, and an almost inaudible voice, who
taught a dry subject in the dryest possible manner.

For some reason, Jane found it more difficult than ever to keep her mind
on square roots and unknown quantities that morning. Her eyes wandered
longingly to the window. It was open, for the day had grown warmer
toward noon, and in the quiet square an old man was raking up the fallen
leaves into a row of small bonfires, and lifting them in bundles into a
little wheeled cart. Patiently he limped back and forth, stopping every
now and then to push his old felt hat back on his head and mop his
forehead with a colored handkerchief, which in between times waved
jauntily from his hip pocket. The pungent smell of leaf smoke drifted in
through the window. The golden and ruddy foliage of the elm-trees and
lindens made a fretted canopy over the drowsy green, through which
sifted the mellow light of an Indian summer sun.

Fat Lulu Pierson’s thick, glossy pig-tails next engrossed Jane’s
attention. She took one gently in her fingers; the evenly clipped end of
it reminded her of the brush that Sam Lung, the Chinese laundry-man used
when he wrote out his receipts. She dipped it in the ink, and began to
make hieroglyphics on her scratch-tablet. Then Lulu gave an impatient
jerk, and the wet pig-tail just missed causing general disaster. Jane
carefully took it again, dried it on her blotter, and made a serious
effort to concentrate her attention by fixing her gaze gravely on Miss
Farrel’s wrinkled face. But she soon found that she was merely wondering
why that prim old dame took the trouble to wear a little bunch of false
curls across her forehead—such a remarkable cluster, as smooth and crisp
as spun glass, pinned with a little bow of black taffeta ribbon. And so
honestly false—certainly they could not have been selected with the
intention of deceiving, for not even Miss Farrel, near-sighted as she
was, could have imagined for a moment that they matched the diminutive
nubbin into which her own grey locks were twisted every morning.

“Why doesn’t she wear a wig? Though after all that auburn is rather
nice. I don’t see why she doesn’t change ’em around sometimes—”

“Well, Jane, perhaps you can tell us,” Miss Farrel’s soft voice broke in
upon these reflections, and Jane started as if she had been awakened
from a sound sleep. She gasped, and then quickly recovering herself,
said blandly,

“Yes, Miss Farrel.”

There was a dead silence. Jane looked about her in surprise, to find
every eye in the room fixed on her.

“Well?” prompted Miss Farrel.

Jane swallowed. She had not the remotest idea what the question was.
Nevertheless she made a bold attempt to conceal this fact, and with an
aplomb admirable under the circumstances, said,

“I didn’t exactly understand the question, Miss Farrel.”

A faint tinge of color appeared upon each of Miss Farrel’s cheekbones,
and her almost invisible eyebrows went up.

“And what didn’t you understand about it? I am sure I don’t see how it
could be expressed in any clearer terms. Will you repeat it to me? Then
we can soon find out just where my words confused you.” The old lady
felt that she was being exceedingly cunning.

Jane winked her eyes rapidly, opened her mouth, shut it, and moistened
her lower lip with the tip of her tongue. She knew she was cornered.

“Yes, Jane. And stand up please when you recite,” said Miss Farrel in
ominously gentle tones. “And don’t fidget, Jane. Put that eraser down.
We are waiting, Jane.”

“Well, what I didn’t understand was—was—I didn’t understand—I didn’t
understand the question.”

Another silence.

“Did you _hear_ the question?”

“No, Miss Farrel.”

“Oh. And what, pray, have you been doing?”

“Why—just thinking.”

“Ah. How interesting. And what were you thinking of?”

Jane tried to keep her face straight, and looked down to hide the
laughter in her eyes.

“Nothing, Miss Farrel.”

Silence again. Miss Farrel opened her little black record book, and
slowly and deliberately registered Jane’s crime.

“Sit down, Jane. And will you please wait for me here after school. At
three o’clock. Well, Isabel, will _you_ give me the formula for finding
the area of a circle.”

Jane took her seat.

“What a goose I am, anyway,” she thought, and accepted her punishment
with her usual calmness.

At three o’clock, when the other girls, chattering and laughing gathered
their books and left the school-room singly and in groups, she sat at
her desk waiting for Miss Farrel. The cleaning woman came in, with her
mop and bucket, and began to splash the dusty wooden floor. She was a
talkative, good-natured old thing, and one of Jane’s numerous intimates.

“Well, now, what are they keepin’ you here for, this fine afternoon,
Miss Janey?” she said sympathetically.

“Oh, I don’t mind much. How’s Amelia, Mrs. Tinker?”

“Fine. Fine, miss, thank yer.”

“And how’s Henry Clay?”

“He’s fine, too, I thank yer.”

“Is Mr. Tinker out of the hospital yet?”

“Not yet, I thank yer,” said Mrs. Tinker, cheerfully. “They think as how
he’ll have to be there another six weeks or so. Well, I’m not one to
complain against what the Lord thinks best, and I says to Henry Clay,
‘Don’t complain, Henry. You let well enough alone,’ says I.”

“Is Henry Clay the one that’s going to be an undertaker?”

“That’s right, miss. The boy’s always had his heart set on it, and as I
says to Mr. Tinker, ‘Don’t oppose him.’ And Henry shows wonderful talent
for it, miss. Wonderful.”

Jane was going to ask how a precocious talent for undertaking manifested
itself, when Miss Farrel appeared.

“Perhaps, Mrs. Tinker, you might work just now in one of the other
rooms,” she suggested with dignity. “You may return in an hour.”

And then she turned her attention to Jane.

The old lady began by a plaintive little discourse on Jane’s
shortcomings, and on the future disasters that they would most certainly
lead to. She tried to sound severe and cold, but now and then she said
“my dear,” and once she laid her small, old hand on Janey’s. It was so
difficult to be severe with Jane.

“And now, Jane, we must review all last week’s work. You see how much
time you lose?”

The lesson began; but it turned out that Jane was able to answer very
nearly every question that Miss Farrel asked.

“Now, you see? Oh, if you would only put your mind on your work, my
dear, it would really be a pleasure to teach you. My dear old teacher
used to say—”

And here, veering away from the discussion of altitudes and bases, the
good dame began to prattle in the friendliest way about her own
girlhood, and about the little school she used to go to, way up in the
country, where half the tuition was paid in salt pork and other
provisions, and about her father and brothers. Everybody seemed to drift
into talking about their own affairs to Jane, and Jane remembered
everything they told her. There was hardly a soul in Frederickstown
whose general history she was not familiar with; very simple histories
for the most part, for the inhabitants of Frederickstown were simple
souls, yet each had its measure of comedy and tragedy, and each had its
mysterious relationship to the character of its confiding narrator.

So now Miss Farrel told her about her sister, Miss Elizabeth, who was,
she said, so much the cleverer and better in every way—the last of her
whole family, and crippled with inflammatory rheumatism; and about her
wonderful cat, Amaryllis, and so on, and so on.

It was nearly half-past four when the old lady suddenly realized how
little of the time she had given to the lesson. Then she made a last
attempt to assume her dignity.

“Well, now, my dear. Let me see. I think that if only you will train
yourself—so much depends on our own selves, you know, my dear.” And then
after a second little discourse, delivered no doubt principally to
assure herself that everything she had been saying had had some bearing
on Jane’s particular case, she picked up her inevitable knitting-bag,
and took her departure.

Jane, remembering her promise to Elise, to return Lily’s patterns, set
out toward the Deacon’s house.

It stood just at the top of Sheridan Lane, a sleepy, prim old street,
regarded as being rather fashionable and aristocratic, principally
because at the lower end of it stood the deserted Sheridan mansion,
which, notwithstanding the fact that its owners had not deigned to pay
any attention to it in fifteen years, was still one of the prides of

The quiet street was paved with cobblestones as it descended the hill
from Frederickstown itself, as far as the ancient rusty fountain, in
whose basin the leaves collected in the autumn, and the birds bathed in
the spring; but on the opposite side, where the hill began its rise, the
street became simply a white dusty road, leading on through sweet
smelling fields, over wooden bridges, where a meadow stream doubled back
on itself in loops, past the Sheridan mansion, which marked the limits
of Frederickstown proper, and on to the open country.

The branches of the elm trees arched over Janey’s head, and now and
then, shaken by a drowsy breeze, the yellowed leaves fell noiselessly.

Through the open window of the Deacon’s little parlour, came the sound
of chords struck on a tinkling square piano, followed by scales and
arpeggios sung in a sweet, if rather timid and unsubstantial, feminine

“Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah.” Chord. “Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah.”
Chord. And so on, patiently up the scale. Miss Deacon was practising. It
was a part of her daily program, and never would it have entered Lily’s
head to deviate from that daily program, mapped out by her excellent but
strong-minded and dictatorial mamma. Singing was a very genteel
accomplishment for a young lady, and Mrs. Deacon desired above all
things that Lily should be elegant.

Jane leaned on the window sill, and listened to the scales for a little
while, watching Miss Lily’s slender throat swell and quiver like a

“How pretty she is. If I were as pretty as that, I think I’d be
perfectly happy; but she always looks sort of sad. Maybe it’s because
she’s always being fussed at.”

There was indeed no girl in Frederickstown who could claim to be quite
as pretty as Lily Deacon. Slender and small, with a little tip-tilted
nose, which gave the most unexpected and charming spice of coquetry to
her delicate face, with large serious blue eyes, and glossy black hair
so neatly coiled on the nape of her neck, with beautifully drawn
eyebrows, and a tiny mole at the corner of her under lip, accentuating
the whiteness of her skin, she would have drawn her tributes of
admiration from any pair of eyes that rested on her—and would have been
perfectly blind to them. Lily’s mother would not have allowed her for a
moment to imagine that she was pretty, and Lily never thought of
disobeying mamma. Prettiness, according to Mrs. Deacon’s severe
judgement, counted for nothing; as she had once observed, “It was only
as deep as the epidermis.” Elegance alone was desirable. You should
never say that you were “hot”—a lady spoke of being “warm.” And the word
“scared” was abominable; you should speak of being “startled” or
“alarmed.” Lily was almost perfectly elegant. She wore a silk dress, and
her pink nails were polished, and even when she sat at the piano, she
was so afraid of not having her feet demurely crossed, that she did not
dare to use the pedals.

“But, Miss Lily, don’t you ever sing anything but scales?” demanded Jane
presently. Miss Deacon jumped, put her hand to her throat, and then
slowly turned her head.

“Oh—Janey! How you sc-alarmed me!”

“I’m sorry,” said Jane, “Elise told me to give you these patterns. Here
they are in my bag. No—I don’t believe she put ’em in at all. Well, then
it’s her fault this time—no, here they are.”

“Thank you so much. How thoughtful of you. Won’t you come in?”

“Well, you’re practising, aren’t you?”

Lily shook her head.

“It’s nearly five. And I’m tired.”

“What a lovely day it is,” she got up, and came to the window, where she
stood, looking up the street, one hand resting on the frame above her
head. The wind ruffled her hair a little, and blew the end of her lacy
kerchief against her cheek, shaking free a faint scent of sachet.

She sighed gently, and a momentary frown ruffled her smooth forehead.

“I wish—” she began impetuously, and then abruptly checked herself.

“What?” prompted Jane, curiously. For some reason, she really wanted
very much to know what Miss Lily wished. But Lily shook her head,
smiling a little awkwardly as if she regretted even having said so much;
or as if she wasn’t sure herself what she did wish. Every now and again,
one caught that quick, vanishing expression in her large blue eyes,
which seemed to say, “I wish—” and never got any farther.

“Oh, I don’t know what I was going to say. Something foolish, no doubt,”
and then to change the subject, she said hastily,

“I suppose you have heard the news about the Sheridan house?”

“No! What? It isn’t sold, is it? If they tear it down, and build a
horrid old factory there, I don’t know what I’ll do.”

“Oh, no—not that. But some member of the family is going to live there
again, and is already moving in.”

“Why, that’s nice,” said Jane. What a lot of events were taking place in
Frederickstown! “Do you know who it is? Man, woman or child? Any people
of my age? Anybody _interesting_?”

Lily blushed slightly.

“Why, I’m not sure. I think there’s only one—a Mr. Sheridan, I suppose.”

“Young, old or middle-aged?” inquired Jane, who had already rather lost

“Why, he seemed rather youngish,” said Lily, blushing again, “but I
couldn’t tell very well.”

“When did you see him?”

“Why, I didn’t exactly see him. I heard mamma talking about it last
night, and then this morning I just happened to see a carriage drive
past—in my mirror, while I was doing my hair, so of course, I couldn’t
be sure—but, anyhow, someone was sitting in it leaning back, with a
stick—but it seemed to be fairly young—though I couldn’t tell,” Lily
explained confusedly. It seemed to her to be a little indelicate perhaps
to look at a fairly young man in a mirror, while you were doing your

“Um,” said Jane. “Well, I suppose it’s too late to go and investigate
now. But I think I’ll go to-morrow.”

“Oh, Jane! You couldn’t do that!” said Lily, in a shocked tone.

“Why not? How else’ll I find out.”

“Why, I don’t know.”

“Very well then. Somebody’s got to know something about strangers when
they come here.”

“Yes—that’s true,” said Lily.

“Of course,” said Jane. “It’s what you call civic interest.”

“Oh,” said Lily,—she had been taught to call “it” curiosity; but then
mamma’s vocabulary was not like other peoples’.

“I have a tremendous amount of civic interest,” said Jane, complacently,
“I ought to be able to do this town a lot of good.”

And with a jaunty wave of her hand, she took her leave. As she turned
out of Sheridan Lane, she once more heard the light, pure tones of
Lily’s voice, but now they sounded a little gayer, a little warmer and
sweeter than they had before, and what was more, instead of the
monotonous scales, Lily was singing a pert song, which mamma, had she
heard it, would probably not have thought elegant at all.


Young Mr. Sheridan might perhaps have grudgingly admitted that the
morning was beautiful. It would have been hard even for a young man who
had definitely made up his mind to be no longer pleased with anything,
to deny that there was something almost pleasant in a day as soft and
quiet as that June itself could bring, in a garden all enmeshed in net
of stirring shadows, and in a free outlook toward hills that glowed with
autumn colors.

The old “home place” wasn’t so bad; rather overgrown with weeds and
vines and somewhat dilapidated; the roof leaked on the third floor
front, and the wooden steps at the back had broken down completely; but
this crumbling and tumbling state harmonized with the state of young Mr.
Sheridan’s mind. He accepted it with a sort of gloomy satisfaction. This
general poetic decay seemed to him quite touchingly suitable to the mood
which he fully believed was to color the declining years of his short
and blasted life. Mr. Sheridan had convinced himself that he had
received a crushing blow; a blow that no self-respecting gentleman
_ought_ to survive for very long. He had convinced himself that he
neither could nor should be happy again. He had quite made up his mind
that the world was a dreary waste, and all human beings, rascals and
base deceivers, whose society a wise man would shun. This unfriendly
humor was directed to mankind in general and to the feminine element in

He had awakened that morning—his first in the old mansion—in a gigantic
mahogany bed. Peterson, his servant, was kindling a fire to drive the
lingering dampness out of the long unused room.

“Good morning, Mr. Tim, sir,” said Peterson with objectionable
cheerfulness, “I hope sir, ye had a good night?”

Mr. Sheridan eyed the old man with melancholy suspicion. He was loath to
class Peterson in with the rest of the miserable human race;
nevertheless, it was wiser to trust no one absolutely—not even Peterson.

“Oh, well, I suppose I slept as well as I could expect, Peterson. An owl
or something woke me up at about one o’clock, and I couldn’t get to
sleep for hours. But still—”

As a matter of fact, Mr. Sheridan had slept as soundly as a baby, but
having been entirely unconscious while he did so, he certainly could not
have _known_ whether he was asleep or awake. But his latest fancy was
that he suffered from insomnia. Insomnia was the traditional affliction
of all broken-hearted lovers, and there was no ailment common to the
broken hearted that Mr. Sheridan would allow himself to forego.

“Any letters, Peterson?”

Of course there were no letters. In the first place, who knew or cared
that he had buried himself away in this forsaken corner of the earth,
and in the second place, what did letters mean to him, who with all the
contempt that they deserved had severed his relations with his fellow
beings—especially the feminine ones—forever. He must remember not to ask
Peterson again if there were any letters. Peterson might imagine that he
was so weak as to hope that Miss Abbot had repented of her cruel and
barbarous treatment, and under no circumstances was Peterson to imagine
anything of the sort. Why, on the contrary, if Mary, that is to say,
Miss Abbot—were to come to him and beg his pardon on her knees, and tell
him that she knew she was a wicked coquette, and unworthy of his
slightest notice, he would say to her,

“No, Mary—or, No, Madam, what you ask now is no longer in my power to
give. My forgiveness is yours—gladly, but neither you nor I can
revive—or, but never again, I fear, can that sweet emotion—” or anyhow,
something to the effect that while he forgave her gladly—he wouldn’t
forgive her at all. But magnanimously. He would be very magnanimous.
Nothing could be more crushing than a lofty and unapproachable kindness.
He would let her know the extent of the damage she had wrought, but she
should also be made to feel that he was capable of supporting it without
bitterness—to the end.

So engrossed was he in the composition of that final speech of
forgiveness and farewell—which he had composed at least a dozen times
already—that he absent-mindedly tucked away every morsel of Peterson’s
generously provided breakfast, comprising fruit and coffee, poached
eggs, bacon, marmalade, and half a dozen of the most exquisite rolls he
had ever eaten.

“Those rolls, Peterson—they are rather nice,” he remarked, with a touch
of enthusiasm that he quickly suppressed.

“Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Tim. I’m glad to have found something as
pleases you, sir,” said Peterson, with a perfectly grave face.

“Yes. My appetite hasn’t been very good lately.”

“No, Mr. Tim,” agreed Peterson, tactfully.

After a short silence, Mr. Sheridan asked indifferently,

“Where did you get them?”

“Up in the town, sir. There’s a Bakery there sir as I never see the like
of, Mr. Tim. Why, what with the cakes and rolls and puddin’s and
what-not, I fairly lost me eyes, sir! You should stroll up to the town,
like, Mr. Tim. It’s a neat little place, sure enough—”

His young master checked him gently, reminding him with a little wave of
his hand, that he could not be expected to be interested in all that.

“But the rolls, Peterson. You might see that I have them for breakfast
every morning.” So saying, he lit a cigarette, and walked out through
the open window into his garden to meditate; leaving Peterson to
meditate in his turn on this absolutely novel way of acting that Mr. Tim
had adopted. Why, he could hardly believe that this formal and taciturn
gentleman was Mr. Tim at all, and the old man who remembered the days,
not long since, when he had connived in all sorts of pranks and waggery;
when he had, many’s the time, been called in as judge and counsel as to
how his young master should get himself out of this and that “scrape,”
when in fact, Mr. Tim never dreamed of doing anything without Peterson’s
opinion—remembering those jolly days when he had been honored with Mr.
Tim’s perfect confidence, Peterson felt wounded. Then he glanced through
the window. Mr. Tim, who had been promenading back and forth, leaning on
a stick, in keeping with his extraordinary notion that blighted love
always left one a semi-invalid, had now allowed himself to sink wearily
onto a stone bench. On second thought, Peterson did not feel wounded; he
felt rather like shaking dear Mr. Tim.

“Say what you like, that’s no way to go on, now. Life’s too easy for
him, and that’s the truth, though I don’t say I wouldn’t hate to see it
hard for him. But to take on so, just because a young lady was pleased
to make up her mind not to have him! ’Tisn’t every young feller has the
leisure to sit and mope himself into the vapors over a chip in his
heart, that’ll be whole again in three months.” Then Peterson grinned.
After all, such absurdities had not been entirely absent from his own
youth; and he could not find it in his heart to censure Mr. Tim severely
for any of his eccentricities. In his opinion this young man whom he had
systematically spoiled since his childhood was not to be judged by
common standards. Things that one might call faults in other young
gentlemen, became merely “peculiarities” in the case of Mr. Tim. And it
was not Peterson alone who inclined to shameless leniency with young Mr.
Sheridan. His friends always managed to explain why it was perfectly all
right for Tim to do things he oughtn’t to do, and leave undone all the
things he ought to do; at college his teachers were forever giving him
one more chance, and at home his grumpy uncle scolded him and pampered
him, and feebly allowed his usually sharp old wits to be completely
fuddled by Tim’s airy arguments.

“Somehow or other you’ll manage to persuade all your devoted friends and
wellwishers to help you to the dogs,” Major Sheridan had once remarked
acidly; and as proof of the truth of this, as the Major himself pointed
out, the old man, notwithstanding many threats of disinheritance, had
left every sou of his fortune to his nephew, simply because, while his
common sense told him that the best thing in the world for the young man
would be to leave him nothing at all, like Peterson he couldn’t quite
bear the thought of Tim’s lacking anything.

At the age of twenty-seven, then, Timothy Sheridan possessed of an
honorable name, health, wealth, good looks, and a very fair measure of
intelligence, could consider himself sufficiently unencumbered by duties
and responsibilities to indulge in the luxury of doing nothing whatever.
But somebody has said that no one can be thoroughly happy without
finding something to be unhappy about; and the truth of the matter is
that Mr. Sheridan was exceedingly gratified to discover that his heart
was broken; though it need hardly be said that this was the last thing
in the world he would ever have admitted. It was such a refreshingly new
experience. His only fear was that he was not getting out of it all that
some people claimed to feel. He checked up all his symptoms to make sure
that he had the real disease. Sleeplessness, loss of appetite, a longing
for solitude—yes, he was quite sure that he had all these symptoms, and
the satisfactory conclusion was that his heart was broken. He might
really consider the matter settled. Now, what is the next thing to be
done? Under the circumstances one should make no effort. One simply
shunned society, amused oneself with solitary walks perhaps, looked on
sceptically from afar at the insipid lives of other human beings, and
made sweet melancholy a constant companion. But how long did one keep
this up? The very fact that he could ask himself such a crudely
practical question, made him feel rather uncomfortable; how could he
even imagine the possibility of _wanting_ to do anything else?

He leaned back, and looked about him with an indifferent eye. From where
he sat, he could see beyond the wall that enclosed the garden—a wall
seven or eight feet high, its cracked plaster laced together by the
strong black tendrils of the ivy-vine. If he turned his head he could
see the whole length of Sheridan Lane. All the trees on Sheridan Lane
had turned yellow, and the leaves strewing its cobblestones, looked like
golden coins—the generous largess scattered in the progress of jovial
King Autumn. Above the mass of frost-nipped foliage rose the rounded
belfry of the old church, and underneath lay the double rows of pretty
gardens all glowing with their asters and chrysanthemums.

Then, if he looked in front of him he saw those wine-tinted hills,
rising beyond the gentle basin of the valley meadows, where the sun was
melting the early morning frost, and scattering the light mists. Two men
with leggins laced up to their sturdy knees, and carrying guns and game
bags, were striding across the field, followed by their dogs. A glint of
interest sparkled up in Mr. Sheridan’s listless eyes.

“By Jove, I’ll bet there’s shooting here. I wonder if Peterson had the
sense to pack my guns. I’ll wire Phil to-night—” then he checked himself
hastily. Such diversions were premature to say the least. But as he
resumed his seat on the bench, his attention was attracted by another
object. On the wall was something which had not been there when he had
last looked in the direction of Sheridan Lane. Calmly planted on its
broad flat top, with a pair of slender black-stockinged legs swinging,
calmly polishing off a monstrous scarlet apple on the front of a bright
green sweater, sat a perfectly strange specimen of the condemned human
race; and, what was more, it was unmistakably _feminine_. It was, in
short, a girl of about fourteen years of age, though apparently not very
tall for her years, with a dense mop of curly, reddish hair, a pair of
uncommonly bright, and observant eyes, and the beaming hospitable smile
of one who has the rare faculty of making herself thoroughly at home in
any circumstances. Even Mr. Sheridan’s cold and unmistakably hostile
stare did not seem to make her feel that she was not welcome, or that
she ought to offer any explanation for her presence. She looked at her
apple, polished it some more, and at length fastened her sharp little
teeth in its red cheek, biting off what seemed to be at least one half
of the entire fruit.

After a pause, Mr. Sheridan said, with freezing courtesy,

“Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Oh, no,” said Jane, kindly. “Nothing at all.” And until she had
finished her apple, and flung the core with admirable markmanship
against a tree at the other side of the road, silence reigned—the
silence of indignation and helplessness on Mr. Sheridan’s part, of
serene composure on Jane’s.

“I am just looking around,” she condescended to explain at last.

“I see,” said Mr. Sheridan politely. “Do you know that you are

“Oh, yes. But that’s all right. I’m always trespassing. I can’t help it.
Out there—” she jerked her head in the direction of the fields, “there
are signs everywhere you go, ‘No trespassing.’ But by the time I come to
’em I’ve already been trespassing for miles, so I might as well go on.
Besides, I’ve often done it purposely just to see what would happen, but
nothing ever does.” And having said this in a most reassuring tone, she
fished a second apple out of the pocket of her sweater and began to
polish it as she had the first. To his horror, Mr. Sheridan saw that
those green pockets were bulging.

“You’ll make yourself ill,” he remarked.

“Oh, no. I never make myself ill,” said Jane.

“Are you going to eat _all_ those?” he demanded, pointing with his stick
at her crammed pockets.

“Well, I could, easily,” said Jane, “but you can have as many as you
like. Catch.” And she pulled out a third apple, and tossed it to him. He
caught it; but feeling that it was not dignified even to pretend that he
wanted it, he laid it down beside him on the bench.

“Try it,” said Jane, “it’s a good one. It’s still wet, because I just
picked it up. Mr. Webster has millions, and he _said_ I could take all I
wanted. Here, I’ll dry it for you if you don’t want to get your
handkerchief all wet.”

“Thank you,” said Mr. Sheridan, “I don’t believe I care for it just

Another silence. Then as if the idea had just occurred to her, Jane said
almost with alarm,

“_You_ don’t mind my trespassing, do you, Mr. Sheridan?”

“How did you know my name?” he asked in surprise, and at the same time,
feeling a trifle flattered. Like most people he was vain enough to be
pleased when anyone seemed to know who he was without being told.

“Oh, I recognized you.”

“Recognized me? When did you—”

“By your stick. Miss Lily said that you had a stick, and that you were

“Oh.” A brief pause, during which Mr. Sheridan did not look displeased.
Jane, who never missed a change of expression, felt that she had hit
upon a happy thread of conversation, and she ventured to commence
another apple.

“Who is Miss Lily?” inquired Mr. Sheridan, forgetting that he was not in
the least interested in hearing about his fellow creatures—especially
the feminine ones.

“Why, Miss Lily Deacon. She lives up there,” Jane jerked her head
casually in the direction, “in the first house on the left hand side
just as you turn into Sheridan Lane. The one with iron deers on each
side of the gate. She’s _very_ pretty. Mrs. Deacon is very fat, but she
certainly is what you’d called impressive looking, and she does a lot of
good. I mean she’s on committees and things, and _always_ president.”

“Um,” said Mr. Sheridan. Then, boring the end of his cane through a dead
leaf, he asked carelessly,

“But when did Miss Lily see me? I’ve never been here before.”

“Yesterday morning she said. She said she couldn’t tell exactly what you
were like, because she only saw you in her handmirror while she was
brushing her hair, but _I_ think she got a pretty good idea.”

Poor Miss Lily. If she had ever dreamed that Jane would be placidly
repeating her indiscreet little confidences, she would have died of
mortification. But Jane, who, in her own peculiar way, was immeasurably
more astute than Miss Lily, saw very plainly that Mr. Sheridan was
trying to suppress a complacent smile.

“And how did _she_ know who I was?”

“Why, in the first place, she’d heard that one of the family was going
to live in this house again, and then she saw you drive in here, so she
just used her common sense, I suppose.”

“Ah—of course.”

After a moment, he said, with the most engaging friendliness,

“I think you might tell me _your_ name.”

“My name? Jane.”

“Jane what?”

“Lambert. Are you going to live here a long time?”

Mr. Sheridan sighed.

“I think so.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Do? Well,—that would be a little difficult to explain. I came here
primarily for—solitude.” The melancholy tone of his voice prompted a
dozen inquisitive questions to the tip of Jane’s tongue.

“Oh. Are you sick?”

“There are different kinds of illness,” said Mr. Sheridan gloomily and
mysteriously. Jane’s grave eyes considered him attentively. Perhaps he
was suffering from a guilty conscience. He might have embezzled money
from a bank. He might even have killed someone. She felt very sorry for

“Don’t you ever want to see anybody? I can’t understand that.”

“My dear child,” said Mr. Sheridan in a patronizing tone, “there are
probably several things that you don’t understand yet. How old are you,
may I ask?”

“Fourteen. Fifteen really. My birthday comes next month. But don’t you
remember that it says in the Bible that it isn’t good for people to be
alone. That was the text just last Sunday, and I remember thinking that
that was why we are all crowded together into this town, instead of
scattering out over there—” she waved in the direction of the country,
“where it seems much nicer.”

Mr. Sheridan made no reply, for a moment. Then as Jane made a motion to
depart, he said hastily,

“What do _you_ do?”

“Oh, _I_ go to school, and help mother, and go on adventures—”

“Go on adventures?”

“Yes. Long, long walks. Sometimes with the twins, and sometimes with
Carl, though he never wants to go where I want to go, and often by
myself. I take a package of bread and cheese because I get hungry very
easily, or sometimes some Raisin Delights, and I pretend that I’m going
out into the world to seek my fortune. And I walk and walk, sometimes
taking this road and sometimes that—until it’s time to turn around and
come home.”

“Don’t you ever get lost?”

“Oh, often. That makes it more exciting than ever.”

“What are Raisin Delights?”

“Oh, just sort of cookies, with raisins and cinnamon and orange peel. No
one knows how to make them but mother, because you see, she’s the only
real Winkler—except Granny, and Granny’s too old to do much in the
Bakery any more. When Paul comes of course he’ll learn how, because he’s
a real Winkler too.”

“Who is Paul?”

Jane, at this, launched into the complete history of her family, charmed
to find her listener who was far more interested than he himself was
aware of being.

“And—and is this Miss Lily a cousin or something of yours?” inquired Mr.
Sheridan, artfully bringing the topic around to the subject that for
some reason he found particularly agreeable.

“No. She’s just Elise’s best friend.”

“And what does _she_ do?”

“Oh, she practises on the piano, and sings, and embroiders, and goes to
committees with her mother—though I don’t think she likes that much. And
then she makes up bundles of things to send to people in China, and goes
to see sick people.”

“Does she like that?”

“I guess so. She takes things to poor people—there are a whole lot of
them who live along the creek, and she’s awfully good to them.”

“I see,” said Mr. Sheridan. He could not think of anything more to say
just then, and after a pause, Jane began to think that she ought to be

“Well, good-bye. I hope you’ll feel better after a while,” she said,
catching hold of a low hanging branch, preparatory to swinging herself
down to earth.

“Thank you.” Mr. Sheridan did not understand why he felt just a trifle
foolish. “I hope you will pay me another visit.”

“Oh, but I thought you wanted to be alone,” said Jane, innocently.

Mr. Sheridan hesitated.

“People in general are terrible nuisances,” he said, at length. “I came
here to avoid the boredom—that is, at present I am very little in the
mood for being bothered by the curiosity of a host of friends and
acquaintances. But on the other hand, it would be a pleasure to chat
with you now and then.”

Jane was tremendously flattered.

“Oh, I can understand that perfectly,” she said, nodding her curly head
with a great air of wisdom. “Well, I’ll come and see you again. Aren’t
you really going to eat that apple?”

Mr. Sheridan laughed, and tossed it back to her.

“There you are, Eve. Like Adam, I’d be much better without it.”

With the agility of a monkey, Jane, holding the apple between her teeth,
swung herself lightly and easily to the ground. A little later Mr.
Sheridan saw the curly auburn head and the green sweater moving up the
hill, and with the feeling that he would very much like to be going in
the same direction, toward that busy little town—yes, in the very same
direction of that human society which he had resolved to shun—he turned

He had already begun to doubt his wisdom in allowing this slight
infringement of the iron rule of seclusion he had resolved to follow.
Already he felt very little inclined to spend the rest of the morning
going over the battalions of musty volumes in the Major’s library, as he
had planned,—his idea had been to bury his sorrows in grave bookishness.
Already he found himself possessed by a desire to venture out beyond the
security of his garden. And if he had followed Janey up the hill, if he
had seen her stop for a few moments, at the gate of the house on the
left hand side, to report to a demure and shocked and vastly interested
young lady on various features of her late venture, he would have felt
that all his doubts on the wisdom of allowing anything feminine within
thirty yards of him, were more than justified.


Jane lay on her stomach, stretched out comfortably on the window-seat in
Granny’s room, her elbows propped on a cushion, her chin in her hands
and a book open on another cushion. The light was already waning, for
the days were growing perceptibly shorter, and furthermore the afternoon
had been dark and stormy. A driving autumn rain pattered steadily
against the window, drummed on the roof, gushed from the drain pipes,
and angrily stripped the branches of the trees of their gaudy foliage.
Now, only the stark black boughs creaked in the wind; here and there one
stubborn brown leaf still clung to a twig, but you could see the whole
lead grey sky clearly, and the irregular outlines of glistening roofs.

But Granny’s room, always cosy, was cosiest when the outside world was
bleakest. A coal fire glowed brightly in the old fashioned open stove,
reflecting in the window panes, on the elaborately carved head-board of
the great four-poster bed, and in the plump, bulging surfaces of the
well-polished pewter jugs which stood in a row along the shelf—treasured
heirlooms, glistening self-complacently, as if they knew that they had
outlived four generations of human beings. Granny’s room, was in fact, a
regular museum; a big, speckled sea shell served as the door prop;
chunks of rock sparkling with mica lay on each side of the stove; a
stuffed owl, with only one glass eye stared down from the lintel of the
door. Wherever you looked you saw some singular object which interested
you simply because you could not imagine what it was for, why it had
been treasured, or how it had ever got into Granny’s room in the first
place. But there was not an article that Granny would not have missed
sadly if it had been removed. Each curiosity had its particular
association which made it valuable to her; each was linked to some
memory, and she could not have parted with one without parting with the
thing it stood for.

The atmosphere, warm almost to the point of suffocation, was permeated
with a peculiar, and far from unpleasant odor, of apples, spices, and
camphor, emanating from the gigantic chest on one side of the room. Like
all good Winklers, Granny had a sweet tooth, which was one reason why
the young Lamberts found her society so desirable. To be sure, some
people might not care much for the flavor of camphor or cedar in their
candied orange peel, or Smyrna figs, but it was inseparable from
Granny’s tid-bits, and her grandchildren had cultivated an especial
taste for it.

The twins sat on the floor in front of the fire, playing with their
paper dolls, while Granny nodded over the many-coloured quilt she was
knitting, happily unconscious of the fact that Phyllis, her maltese cat,
had playfully carried the ball of red wool off to a far corner, and was
gleefully tangling it around the legs of the dressing table. Every now
and then a burst of fresh laughter from one of the flaxen haired twins
roused her, and she smiled sympathetically, and for a little while
listened to their chatter; then her head drooped again, her steel-rimmed
spectacles slid down on her nose, and lulled by the heat of the fire,
the drumming of the rain, and the sound of their soft, happy voices, she
dozed off peacefully.

Lottie, looking up, and seeing that Jane was no longer engrossed in
“John Halifax,” ventured to suggest timidly,

“Will you play with uth, Janey?”

Occasionally, Jane condescended to forget her fifteen years, and to take
part in their infantile games.

“All right.” She rolled herself off the window seat. “Want to play
‘French Revolution’?” Jane had little taste for the domestic character
of the twin’s doll games.

“How do you play that?” asked Minie.

“Why, first of all you get me some books out of my room,” ordered Jane,
and Minie obediently trotted off to return grunting under the burden of
“stage properties.”

“Now, you see, build a prison out of ’em,” went on Jane; “this is the
Conciergerie, and it has to be full of prisoners; princesses and
duchesses, and of course Marie Antoinette. Now, we’ll make a guillotine,
and chop all their heads off. Don’t you think that’ll be fun?”

The twins were enchanted. Lottie piled the hooks into a “scaffold,”
while Minie sat by, clashing the scissors, eagerly. And presently, one
by one, the poor paper prisoners were marched to their doom, Jane
directing the carnage, describing the history of each victim, like a
Greek chorus, and delivering their last speeches, while Minie,
hypnotized into passive obedience, snipped off the paper heads of her
innocent, and dearly treasured dolls.

Suddenly Jane jumped up.

“I think this is an _awful_ game!” she exclaimed.

“Oh, Jane, aren’t you going to play any more?” cried Lottie in dismay.
Jane shook her head.

“And all my poor dollies are dead!” wailed Minie, suddenly realizing the
extent of the disaster. Jane looked really guilty.

“We can make some more,” she said hastily; “there are lots of old
magazines in mother’s room.”

“But you can’t make Isabel again,” wept Minie.

“Well, _you_ cut her head off,” said Jane.

“But _you_ told her to,” cried Lottie, taking up her twin’s cause.

“Well, you asked me to play with you, didn’t you?” But Minie’s tears
went to Jane’s heart. “I’m sorry, Minie, darling. Please don’t cry. I’ll
tell you a story if you like.”

Minie’s chubby, tearful face brightened.

“A fairy story?”

“Yes. About a prince and princess.”

“And you won’t have it end up badly?”

“No. I promise.” So Jane, whose mind was a perfect storehouse of stories
and legends, had soon charmed the twins into forgetfulness of their late
bereavement while she launched forth upon her tale of giants and
enchanted princes.


On this very afternoon, and in fact, at exactly the time that Jane had
staged her disastrous amusement, a boy was tramping stolidly with his
head bent against the rain, along one of the country roads a good three
miles from Frederickstown. He was a big, raw-boned boy, whose shabby
clothes originally much too loose for his lean frame, and now soaked
through, gave him an almost grotesque appearance. A faded dark blue cap,
with a patent leather visor, such as sea-captains wear, and the upturned
collar of his coat, almost concealed his long brown face, in which the
most striking features were a pair of black eyes, set rather close
together, and a big handsome Roman nose. With a bundle slung over his
shoulder on the end of a stick, he looked like any one of the foreign
immigrants who were frequently seen seeking for work as laborers on the
neighboring farms.

He did not raise his head until he reached a cross-roads. Then he
stopped, pushed back his cap from his face, which was flushed and hot
from his long walk, and looked up at the signs. On the left, the white
board, roughly carved into the semblance of a pointing finger, read,
“Frederickstown, 2-½ Miles.” The name on the right-hand sign-post was
too badly damaged by weather to be intelligible to a stranger’s eyes;
only the distance, “30 miles” was legible.

There was no reason why the boy should have hesitated for a moment; his
destination was Frederickstown, the second direction did not concern him
in the least; and yet, perhaps because the vagueness of the destination
of the second road appealed to his imagination; perhaps because the
greater distance lent it greater charm, and the very impossibility of
walking thirty miles that day made it seem the more desirable, at any
rate there he stood, looking uncertainly to the right, then to the left,
and back to the right again. A gust of wind, flapping the skirts of his
coat rudely, seemed to shove him forward, as if impatient of his
indecision, but he planted his feet firmly, and continued to gape
uncertainly up at the sign posts. “I’ll make up my own mind, thank you,
and I’m not to be hurried,” was the reply which his determined attitude
made to the impatience of the wind.

There was little difference in the features of the country traversed by
the two roads; all that he could see through the blur of the rain, were
bleak fields, muddy furrows, here and there a clump of leafless trees,
the skeleton of a forest, or, down in a hollow the sheds and barns of a
little farm. A cheerless prospect for a hungry and footsore Wanderer.

Behind him he heard the weary splashing of a horse’s feet, and the
creaking of wheels. He turned around. A covered wagon, drawn by a tired,
steaming horse was approaching.

“Hey!” he hailed the driver, who pulled in the horse to a stand-still,
and thrust out a grizzled face from under the canvas.

“Where does that road go to?” asked the boy, pointing to the right.

The driver tilted his hat, scratched his head, and straightened his hat
again before replying, thus gaining time to cast a shrewd eye over the
appearance of the questioner. He was one of those excellent back-country
farmers who regard every stranger with suspicion, and do not like to be
hurried into speech.

“That road,” he said at length, “goes to the City—thirty miles. Going to
walk it, stranger?”

“Which way are you going?”

The farmer jerked his head in the direction of Frederickstown.

“Will you let me go with you?” asked the boy, feeling nervously in his
pocket. “I cannot pay you much, but I will gladly give you what I can.”
He pulled the last coin out of his pocket, and looked at it uncertainly
as if he were not at all sure how much it was. “I will give you
twenty-five cents.”

“That’s all right. Keep your money, young feller, and get in if you want
to. I’ll be glad of yer company.”

The boy looked surprised and grateful, and without wasting any more
words, clambered up to the hard wooden seat, and settled himself beside
the farmer.

The road was rough, the wheels were rimmed with iron, and the board seat
joggled unmercifully, so that the boy found it hard to answer his
neighbor’s endless questions without biting his tongue in two; moreover,
now that he was sitting down, after walking almost steadily since early
morning, he found himself almost too tired to think; but he tried to be
civil, since it seemed that if his companion was kind enough to refuse
payment, the least he could do was to gratify his curiosity.

“Where might you be goin’, now?”

“My uncle lives in Frederickstown. His name is Lambert. Mr. Peter

“That so? I know Mr. Lambert. Well, I took you for a furriner.”

“I am not a foreigner.”

“Not but that you don’t talk good English, only sort of care-ful like.
Like it wasn’t yer natural langwidge. What part of the country might yer
be from, now?”

“I have never been in this country before. My father, who—who was Mr.
Lambert’s brother-in-law, was a sailor, captain, also a trader. I don’t
belong to any country. I have come back to work with my uncle, because
my father is dead, and I have no other relatives.” The boy explained
this in a dry, precise way, as if it were an answer that he had already
had to make many times.

“Well! I’ll be!” exclaimed the farmer, much interested. “And what might
yer name be, young feller?”

“Paul Winkler.”

After a short pause, during which Paul fervently hoped that the
catechism was over, his companion asked again.

“And why was you askin’ me where that other road went to?”

The boy smiled, and shook his head.

“I don’t know.”

“Jes’ for curiosity?”


“Hum. How old might you be?”


“Yer a well grown lad for yer years. I should have taken yer to be

This time Paul broke the silence that followed.

“What is the City like?”

“Like? Why like any other city. Lots of houses, lots of streets, lots of
people, lots of noise. I’m a countryman myself, and don’t have much
hankerin’ for the big towns. Though there’s my son now, my second boy,
he can’t stand the farm. No, he has to be off to the city. I suppose
that’s the way all you youngsters are feeling nowadays. What you’re
after is always somewhere different from where the Lord put you.
Opportunity—that’s what my boy’s forever chatterin’ about—you got to get
where you have opportunities. I says to him, ‘Well, Tom, what is it
ye’re after?’ ‘Independence, Dad,’ says he, ‘Like George Washington.’ ‘A
good thing,’ says I. ‘And what do ye call independence?’ Well, sir, we
argue away for hours, and for the life of me I can’t see that he ain’t
just about the most _de_pendant feller I know. No sir, when ye live the
sort of life I live ye get plenty time to think, and I tell ye when ye
sift down to rock bottom just what ye _do_ want, and don’t dress it up
in a lot of fine words, ye find that there’s precious little as really
matters to ye, that ye can’t get without having to trot all over the
country after it.”

Notwithstanding his companion’s challenging tone, and evident eagerness
for further discussion, Paul made no reply to this speech.

They had now gained the top of a hill; and at last the comfortable
lights of Frederickstown shone through the dusk.

“There ye are,” said the farmer pointing ahead with his whip, “and I’ve
no doubt it’s a glad sight to ye, youngster. Have ye walked far?”

“Fifteen miles, I think.”

“Fifteen miles! Pretty hungry, eh?”


“Did ye come across the water alone?”

“No. There was a friend of my father’s travelling to this country also.
I left him last night.”

Now the wagon was jolting over the cobblestones, jarring every bone in
Paul’s weary body. And, he was so hungry! All at once he caught the odor
of spices, of fresh ginger-bread—such a friendly smell, such a homey,
domestic smell, that made you think of a warm hearth, and familiar

The horse stopped.

“Well, young man, I guess we part now.”

Paul felt as if he were asleep. He climbed stiffly out of the cart,
shook the friendly, horny paw that his erstwhile companion thrust out,
and tried to mutter his thanks. The wagon rumbled away up the street—and
here he was.

He stood in the shelter of the quaint wooden balcony which extended from
the second story of the Lambert’s dwelling out over the pavement. In
front of him the light shone cheerily through the bakeshop window.
Somehow, he rather dreaded to go up and knock at the door. Suppose that
after all it was the wrong place? Suppose that no one knew that he was
coming? Or, suppose that they wouldn’t believe he was Paul Winkler?


“So the prince took his knife and cut the third of the golden apples in
half, and to his astonishment—”

“Janey, _who_ is that talking to your father?” demanded Granny, opening
her eyes suddenly.

Jane stopped and listened. Granny’s room was directly over the dining
room, and sounds carried easily through the thin walls of the old house.

“I don’t know, Granny,” said Jane. “Nobody in particular, I guess.”

But the old lady felt nervously for her stick.

“Heavens! It _couldn’t_ be—Janey, just run to the head of the stairs and
see. Minie, darling, do you see Granny’s stick? Run, Janey—just peep

But the door of the dining room was half closed, and Janey, hanging over
the bannister, had to wait several moments before she caught a glimpse
of the stranger, whose low voice occasionally interrupted her father’s
eloquent talk.

“My dear boy, we will go into this at length, later this evening. I see
that you are tired now. You say you _walked_ from Allenboro?”

“It was necessary. I did not discover that my money had been stolen
until after I left the ship.”

“Did Mr. Morse know of your misfortune?”

“No. I did not tell him.”

Then Jane caught her first glimpse of the speaker, as he took a step
back toward the fireplace, and into her line of vision through the half
opened door.

“It’s _Paul_!” The thought flashed across her mind instantly. Her first
impression of her new cousin was disappointing. Though such matters
rarely counted for much with Jane, she was really shocked by the
shabbiness of his appearance; for covered as he was with mud, his
ill-fitting, outworn clothes made him look like a veritable ragamuffin.
But it was not this so much as his whole bearing and expression that
displeased her. There was something both sullen and stubborn in his
face, which, combined with lines of weariness and hunger, made him seem
much older than he really was, and decidedly unattractive. And she had
been so sure that she was going to like her new cousin; she had pictured
him as a jolly, ruddy, lively boy who would probably enter heart and
soul into her enjoyments; someone with whom you could make friends in
five minutes; whereas unsociability was stamped on every feature of
_this_ boy’s sallow, unsmiling face.

Just then the sharp tapping of Granny’s cane resounded through the
corridor. The old lady’s singular impatience to know who the stranger
was, had not allowed her to wait for Jane’s tardy report. With her cap
askew, she appeared at the head of the stairs.

“Who is it? Who is it?” she demanded, almost breathlessly. “Stand aside,
child.” And without waiting for a reply, she descended the stairs with
wonderful rapidity, marched to the dining room door, and flung it open.

“Peter! Gertrude!” she blinked nervously into the room, where only the
firelight illumined the two figures in the dusk. Then she stared into
Paul’s face. It was only a moment before her uncertainty disappeared.

“I knew it! I knew it!” she cried. “Peter Lambert, why didn’t you tell
me? Ah, heaven’s! My dear boy, _I_ am your old Granny!” And weeping from
sheer joy, she unhesitatingly flung her arms around his neck and kissed

A few moments later the entire family had collected to welcome the
newcomer. The twins with their round blue eyes fastened on him gravely,
clung to their mother, who kissed him warmly, exclaimed over his size,
and at once began to worry affectionately about his wet clothes. Elise
greeted him with her usual gentle, modest smile, Carl with a
patronizing, “How do you do, cousin?” and a keen glance, as if he were
“sizing up” an opponent of some sort.

During these proceedings Paul looked utterly bewildered, and exceedingly
awkward, as if he could not believe that all these good people who were
smiling at him, shaking hands with him, and asking him if he were tired,
were really his family. All that interested him was the fact that he
smelt supper cooking.

Last of all to welcome him was Jane, who had stood aside, watching him
intently; and it was he who turned to her, and with the polite smile
that he had forced for the occasion, held out his hand.

“How do you do, cousin?”

“How do you do, cousin Paul?” repeated Jane decorously.

Jane was not over impulsive, and she had not yet made up her mind as to
the degree of liking she felt for this tall, reticent youth, this sober,
chilly, self-assured boy, whom Destiny had now placed at the head of the
House of Winkler.


“Poor child, you are dripping wet! You’ll catch your death of cold!”
cried Mrs. Lambert, noticing Paul’s state for the first time. “What can
I be thinking of! You must have a hot bath and some dry things at once.
Carl, take Paul up to your room, dear, and see that he makes himself
_very_ comfortable. I must see to supper. You must be starving, too!”

Accordingly, Carl undertook his duties as host as hospitably as he
could, and Paul followed him upstairs.

In a moment or two Carl returned, wearing the prim expression of one who
would like to express his opinion, and is merely waiting to be asked,
and at length, one by one, the family began, naturally enough, to
discuss the impression that the newcomer had made on them, severally.
The criticisms were very kindly, but at the same time, it soon became
clear that so far no one felt any great enthusiasm for the stranger. His
curt manner had hurt his aunt and his grandmother, who had been so eager
in their welcome to the fatherless boy, and had irritated Mr. Lambert.
The short, brusque answers he had given to the endless kindly questions
with which he had been plied, had discouraged the well-meant, and very
natural curiosity of his relatives, and had made them feel rather

Grandmother Winkler and Mrs. Lambert staunchly insisted that the poor
boy was only lonely and unhappy; but down in their hearts they had been
sadly disappointed in Franz’s son. Elise also ranged herself in his
defense, feeling that any disapproval, expressed or unexpressed, of the
new head of the clan, was a form of treason.

“Think how you would feel, Carl,” she said, “if you had lost your
father, and had landed in a strange country among strangers—for after
all we _are_ strangers to Paul.”

“That’s all right,” returned Carl, “I could understand it if he were
just gloomy. But I don’t see any reason why he has to be downright

“I’m sure he doesn’t mean to be disagreeable, my dear,” said Mrs.

“Well, we mustn’t lose any time in getting the boy settled down to his
work,” said Mr. Lambert. “That will take his mind off his own troubles.
I shall have a talk with him after supper.”

“I shook hands with him, and said I was glad to see him, and he just
stared at me as if I were a—a fish,” went on Carl, still dwelling on his
own grievances. “I know he’s here to stay, and I’ll try to get on with
him, though I’ll tell you right now, it’s not going to be an easy job.
And I hope to goodness I won’t have to room with him permanently,
mother. Can’t you find somewhere to put him? Can’t you—” Carl broke off
abruptly, reddening, for at that moment Paul entered the room. He was
scrubbed and brushed, and, dressed in Mr. Lambert’s summer suit, looked
vastly better than the young tramp who had entered their midst an hour
before. Unfortunately he had overheard Carl’s remark, and his expression
had changed from one that was almost friendly to the stony, immobile
look that absolutely altered the whole character of his face. The cozy
family scene in the dining room, where now the table had been set, and
the lamp lighted, and where the firelight shone upon the faces of three
generations, from Granny to little Minie, had done much to make Paul
feel that he would be happy after all among these simple, happy
people—until his quick ears caught Carl’s unkind remark.

Only Jane had seen the look that showed he had overheard; but everyone
felt that he had, and an awkward little silence followed his entrance,
during which Elise glanced at her brother in distress, and Mrs. Lambert
struggled to think of something to say that would mend matters a little.
But Carl met his cousin’s eyes defiantly, and from that moment the tacit
hostility of the two boys was sealed.

So Paul, who had been on the verge of thawing a little, had frozen up
again. He concluded immediately that _everyone_ disliked him, and like
many sensitive people, instead of attempting to overcome this imagined
dislike, he carefully hid all that was winning in his nature, under his
cold, unsympathetic manner. He even fancied that his aunt’s affectionate
little attentions were only assumed to hide her real feelings. Poor Aunt
Gertrude! No one in the world was less capable of insincerity than she,
and her gentle heart ached over the forlorn, taciturn youth.

Supper was a decidedly uncomfortable meal; and Paul, who had felt that
he could have eaten the proverbial fatted calf, found it difficult to
swallow a mouthful. During the journey there had been too much to occupy
him, too many difficulties and strange events for him to think much
about the abrupt change that had taken place in his life; but now, as he
sat with his eyes on his plate, in the midst of these strange faces, he
felt as if the bottom had dropped out of everything. A perfect wave of
depression engulfed him, and all he wished for was to get off by

“Well, my boy, are you too tired to have a little talk?” asked Mr.
Lambert, at length pushing back his chair.

“No, sir,” muttered Paul, curtly, thinking to himself, “I don’t suppose
that they want to have me on their hands any longer than is necessary.”

“Children, you may prepare your lessons in your own rooms to-night.
Well, Paul, suppose you and I get over here into my corner,” suggested
Mr. Lambert, walking across to his desk. “Sit down.”

Paul sat down, folded his hands in his lap, and fixed his eyes
attentively on the window. The rain still rattled on the glass panes,
and the wind banged the shutters, and moaned through the leafless trees.

“I am only going to acquaint you with the wishes which your father—my
poor brother—expressed in a recent letter,” began Mr. Lambert, rummaging
through his orderly pigeon-holes. “It might be best for you to read it
for yourself.” But Paul declined the letter with a gesture.

“Ah, well,” said Mr. Lambert, replacing the poor, blotted sheets in the
envelope, “I don’t want to pain you, my dear boy, and I would not touch
on the subject at all, if I did not feel that it were best for you to
find something to occupy your thoughts at this time.” He paused, but as
Paul did not seem to think it necessary to make any reply, he continued:

“You must understand how deeply I am interested in your affairs. Er—how
old are you?”

“Seventeen, sir.”

“Seventeen? I should have thought you were older. But seventeen is not
an age of childhood, and in any event I feel that you are fully capable
of assuming the responsibilities which must fall upon you as the
only—living—male descendant—of—the Winkler Family.” Mr. Lambert uttered
these last words with an impressiveness that cannot be described. Paul
looked up, suddenly interested, and with a wary, defensive expression.

“No doubt your father acquainted you with his wishes?”

“My father told me to come to you, and that you would help me,” said

“Help you? Indeed I will help you. I would help you in any event because
you are my nephew, and blood runs thicker than water, my boy. Always
remember that. But believe me, it is not family duty alone that impels
me to give you all the assistance I can,—I feel that you are a young man
who is _worthy_—worthy to enter upon the duties of your position.”

Paul was puzzled. He could not understand these allusions to his
“position,” and his “responsibilities.”

“Never hesitate to come to me for any advice. Do not allow little
discouragements to overwhelm you,” continued Mr. Lambert. “Your aunt, of
course, will be your real teacher—”

“My _aunt_?” echoed Paul, completely bewildered. “I don’t understand—”

“Ah,” said Mr. Lambert, smiling, “perhaps you are not familiar with the
traditions of your family. Then, I will tell you; your
great-great-grandfather, on your father’s side, Johann Winkler, was, as
you surely know, the founder of this Bakery. He was, moreover, the
inventor of certain delicacies which have made it famous, and which
cannot possibly be made by any other baker in this country—in the world,
I may say. It was his wish that the fruits of his labors should be the
heritage of his descendants, and that only those who bore the name of
Winkler, should learn the secret recipes by which those cakes are mixed.
A moment’s thought will make it clear to you that you are the next in
line to be initiated into these secrets, which are sealed from me, and
my children. In a word, you are the only living heir to this business.
Your aunt, of course, is the present proprietor, and she and she alone
can instruct you in the work in which you must follow her.”

Paul was speechless, and Mr. Lambert, mistaking his astonished silence,
for a calm acceptance of what he had said, now drew forth a large
parchment from a drawer of his desk, and spread it out with a pompous

“This, my boy, is the family tree of the Winklers, which establishes
your claim to your inheritance. Here, you see—” his broad forefinger
began to trace the branches, “Johann Winkler had two sons, Frederick and
Samuel. Frederick, the elder had two sons, also Samuel and Johann. In
this case, the younger became the Baker, and Samuel became a hardware
merchant in Missouri. Thus, Johann was the father of your Aunt Gertrude,
and _your_ father, who also relinquished his inheritance, like Esau—”

“But what of Samuel’s children?” stammered Paul. “Maybe he has a son or
a grandson—”

“However that may be they have forfeited their claims,” replied Mr.
Lambert. “No, you need have no fears of any disputes, my boy. Surely,
your father must have acquainted you with all these matters which relate
to you so closely.”

“My father never even mentioned anything of the sort!” exclaimed Paul,
pushing back his chair, as if he were thinking of sudden flight.

“I need hardly tell you that you are doubly welcome, my dear boy,”
continued Mr. Lambert placidly, totally misunderstanding Paul’s

“But, sir! One moment! I don’t understand! You surely can’t mean that
you think I am going to learn how to _bake bread_, and make _pies_!”
burst out Paul at last. “Great heavens! My father couldn’t have
dreamed—_I_! Making biscuits!”

“And why not, pray?” demanded Mr. Lambert, sharply. “Am I to understand
that you consider yourself too good for a profession that the great
Johann Winkler thought worthy of his genius? Is it that you do not
consider it _manly_? Surely, you do not mean me to understand this?” Mr.
Lambert’s face hardened a little; the expression of bland benevolence
left his eyes, which now grew cold and piercing. He had not expected
rebellion, but recovering quickly from his surprise he prepared to cope
with it as only he could.

“Of course I don’t mean that, sir!” exclaimed Paul. “But don’t you see—I
can’t—I’m not fitted for such work. I couldn’t learn how to bake a pie
in a life time. I—”

“Oh, I am sure you underrate your intelligence, my boy. Don’t give way
to discouragement so soon. A little patience, a little industry—”

Paul began to laugh, almost hysterically. Even in the midst of his
serious anxiety, the idea of himself demurely kneading dough was too
much for his gravity.

“But I’d poison everyone in town in twenty-four hours! Bake bread!
Rolls! Tarts! Sir, I could far more easily learn how to trim hats!”

“I don’t doubt it. Any silly schoolgirl can learn that. I freely admit
that the art of a great baker is not readily acquired. I admit that in
some measure it requires an inborn gift, and a gift that is by no means
a common one. Great cooks are far rarer, believe me, than great orators,
or great artists, although the world in general does not rank them as it
should. There was a time when a fine pastry or a sauce composed with
genius called forth the applause of kings, and when eminent bakers were
honored by the noblest in the land. But to-day, through the ignorance
and indifference of the world, the profession is fallen in value,
because, forsooth, it is fancied that it caters to the less noble tastes
of mankind. My dear boy, it is for you, in whose veins flows the blood
of the King of Bakers, to maintain the fame and dignity of your
profession. Do not imagine that you lack the gift. It has lain idle, but
a little practice will soon prove that it is in your possession.”

Paul, feeling that he had come up against a wall of adamant, got up and
began to pace the floor. Here he was with exactly twenty-five cents in
his pocket, without even a suit of clothes that deserved the name,
without a friend within three thousand miles, nor the faintest idea of
where he could go, if he rashly broke away from the family roof-tree.

“It seems that you had other ideas,” remarked Mr. Lambert in a politely
interested tone, which said, “I don’t mind _listening_ to any of your
fantastic notions.” Paul hesitated. He most certainly _had_ had other
ideas, and, what was more, he did not have the slightest intention of
relinquishing them. The question was, could he lay them simply before
his uncle? One glance at Mr. Lambert’s smooth, practical face was
sufficient to make him feel that anything of the sort was not to be
considered; certainly not at this time, in any case. Mr. Lambert had
fixed his mind on one idea, and tenacity was his most striking
characteristic. It was his boast that he never changed his mind, and the
truth of this statement was recognized by everyone who had any dealings
with him.

“I should like to think over all that you have said, Uncle Peter,” Paul
at length said warily. “All this has been very unexpected, and I don’t
know just what to say.”

“You mean that you are still doubtful as to whether you will accept or
reject the position, to which Providence has called you, and which it is
plainly your Duty to accept?” inquired Mr. Lambert, raising his
eyebrows. He was surprised and annoyed by his nephew’s resistance, but
knowing the boy’s circumstances he had no fear that Paul would decide
against his own wishes.

Paul was quick to perceive this underlying cocksureness, and his whole
soul rose in rebellion.

“I don’t see that either Providence or Duty has anything to do with the
case,” he retorted, instantly firing up.

Mr. Lambert shrugged his shoulders.

“You do not feel that you are under obligations to your Family? I don’t
like to believe that you have so slight a sense of your
responsibilities. No, I am sure that a few moments reflection will
convince you to the contrary. By all means consider the matter. I
should, however, like to have your answer to-night, if it is convenient
for you. I have several letters to write, and shall be here when you
have reached your decision.” And with a curt nod, he swung around to his
desk, and took up the old-fashioned goose-quill pen, which he was in the
habit of using under the impression that it lent him an air of business

Paul, lost in thought, went up to Carl’s room for the “few moments of
reflection” that his uncle had advised.

His cousin, wearing a brown dressing gown, with a hideous pattern of
yellow fleurs-de-lis, was sitting at the table, with a book in his
hands, and a greenshade over his nearsighted eyes, engrossed in his
studies. The two boys glanced at each other, and nodded brusquely
without speaking.

Paul threw himself across the bed.

“Duty! Providence!” All he could see in the matter was that he had got
into a pretty kettle of fish. “And uncle thinks that just because I’m
broke, I’ll knuckle under without a murmur.”

Obligations! That was a nice thing to preach to him.

“Would you mind not kicking the bed?” said Carl’s thin, querulous voice.
“It makes it rather hard to concentrate.” This petition, uttered in a
studiedly polite tone, was accompanied by a dark look, which this time,
however, Paul failed to see.

“Sorry,” said Paul, gruffly, and got up.

Now he began to walk the floor; but at length stopped at the window,
pressing his face to the glass so that he could see something besides
the reflection of his cousin’s mouse-colored head, and monotonous
rocking in his chair.

He peered out over the roofs of the town, up the street, all sleek and
shining with the rain, in the direction of the cross-roads at which he
had stood, less than four hours ago. Why hadn’t he taken the Other One,
anyway? He had been perfectly free to choose—no one had been preaching
Duty and all the rest of it to him then. He hadn’t taken it, because he
had been tired and hungry, and almost penniless—and lonely, too, and the
farmer had turned up. Perhaps he had been a coward. It had led to the
City, where, even if he were penniless, he would at least have been his
own master, free to work according to his own ideas, and not Uncle

“Would you mind not whistling!” snapped Carl. “It’s the most maddening
sound. Hang it! I’m trying to study.”

Paul’s mournful whistling stopped.

Baking pies! So that was to be his future, was it? Well, he still had
something to say. It wasn’t too late to take the other road yet. He’d
walk a _thousand_ miles before he would let himself be trussed up in a
canvas apron, and put to kneading dough for the rest of his days.

He glanced around for his cast off clothes, and saw them hanging, still
dismally wet over a chair. But not even the cheerless prospect of a
clammy shirt dampened his resolution. He began to fling off his dry
clothing, sending collar, necktie, socks and shoes flying in all

Presently Carl, aroused by the commotion, put down his book. Then he
stared in astonishment, at the sight of his cousin rapidly climbing into
the soaking, muddy garments. But he felt that it was not in keeping with
the dignity he had assumed, to inquire into the reasons for this strange
proceeding. All he said was,

“Would you mind not shaking that mud over my things?”

Without replying, Paul shouldered his ridiculous bundle, felt in his
pocket to make sure that his quarter was still there, and marched out of
the room, down the stairs, and to the door.

Then it occurred to him that this abrupt departure, without a word of
farewell to anyone was rather a shabby way of returning the hospitality
he had received, and he hesitated.

“Well, if I don’t get out now, it’ll mean a lot of argument and
explanation. I could write a note.” But he had no paper, and he did not
want to go back to Carl’s room. So there he stood uneasily enough,
wriggling in his damp clothes, and glancing uncertainly toward the
closed door of the dining room behind which his uncle sat waiting for
his decision. Overhead, he heard the low murmur of his aunt’s voice, and
the thudding of the twins’ little bare feet as they romped and squealed
in a pillow fight. Paul felt his resolution waver, and then anger at his
own weakness steadied his determination. He opened the door, strode out,
and pulled it to quietly behind him.

A wild gust of wind nearly robbed him of his breath, and made him
stagger. The rain had gathered up its forces, and now came down in a
solid sheet, swept this way and that by the wind.

“Whew!” Paul bent his head, and ploughed his way against it, without
looking to the right or to the left. The branches groaned and tossed,
creaking as if they were being torn from the trunks of the swaying

Then all at once, with a crash a dead bough fell in front of him,
missing him by not more than fifteen inches. Paul stopped. The very
elements seemed opposed to his unmannerly flight, and again he
hesitated, looked back, and saw the friendly, ruddy windows of the
Bakery. Thirty miles in this tempest! He smiled sheepishly, and then
frowned. His impetuousness had put him in a very ridiculous position.
His pride rebelled at the idea of returning, and with the thought of
Carl’s smothered amusement, came the memory of his cousin’s inhospitable
speech. On the other hand, he saw that it was no less absurd to follow
up his plan of flight, and the streak of common sense underlying his
hasty, high-handed nature told him that it was less foolish to go back
and undertake the immediate problem that had been thrust upon him, than
to plunge himself into the serious difficulties that his adventure would
entail. And at length, inwardly raging at his own folly, he retraced his

As the dining room door opened, Mr. Lambert looked up, started to remove
his spectacles, and then with a start, adjusted them more accurately.
Paul, who had left his cap and bundle in the hall tried to stand in the
shadow so that his clothes would not be noticed. After a short silence,
Mr. Lambert preferring to observe nothing extraordinary in his nephew’s
appearance, folded up his spectacles, put them in the breast pocket of
his frock coat and said, pleasantly,

“Well? What have you decided?”

Paul cleared his throat.

“I have decided—I have decided—” he finished by spreading his hands and
shrugging his shoulders.

“To undertake your—er—responsibilities?” prompted Mr. Lambert, as if he
were administering an oath.

“To learn how to bake pies,” said Paul, feebly, and then mumbling some
vague excuse he backed out of the room, leaving Mr. Lambert to indulge
in a short chuckle.

Paul hid himself in the bakeshop until he felt reasonably sure that his
cousin had gone to bed, and then, boots in hand tiptoed shamefacedly up
to the bedroom, and began to undress in the dark. But Carl was not
asleep, and after listening to Paul’s smothered exclamations as he
struggled with wet button holes and laces, could not resist a polite

“Oh,” came in interested tones from the bed, “where did you go, cousin?”

“For a walk,” replied Paul, laconically, and a certain note in his voice
warned Carl that it would be wiser not to refer to the delicate subject


“You take a tablespoonful of butter, a pound of sugar, half a
teaspoonful each of cinnamon and all-spice, a pound of raisins, and a
cupful of molasses,” said Aunt Gertrude timidly, reading from the
yellowed pages of the century-old book of recipes, in which were traced
in brown ink, and in the quaint, tremulous handwriting of old Johann
Winkler himself, the secret formulas of the “King of Bakers.” Then she
closed the book.

“And now, my dear, I have to show you the rest.”

Paul submitted to his instructions meekly enough but nevertheless his
aunt felt singularly at a loss with this strange pupil on her hands, and
she had her own grave doubts as to whether the culinary genius of the
Winklers really lay dormant in him at all.

On that bright, windy afternoon, aunt and nephew were closeted in the
room off the kitchen, which was called the Mixing Room. It was here that
the book of recipes was kept, and here that the bread and cakes were
mixed, according to the time-honored tradition of secrecy. No one had
the right of entry without Mrs. Lambert’s permission, and that
permission was never given while she was engaged in preparing her doughs
and batters. It was a cheerful little room, snug and warm, lined with
the old, well polished cupboards in which the tins of spices and dried
fruits and crocks of mysterious, delicious mixtures were kept safely
locked. Seated at the table, was plump, rosy, beautiful Aunt Gertrude,
full of the importance of her business, but a trifle uncertain of her
six-foot disciple, who, shrouded in a great white apron, and with his
sleeves rolled up on his muscular, brown arms, stood soberly measuring
out flour and sugar with hands that looked better fitted for a lumber

But little by little, as the lessons progressed, Paul became less
austere; and as he unbent, Aunt Gertrude regained her natural jollity;
until she actually dared to tease him.

“What a frown! You will frighten all my customers away,” she said,
gaily, peeping up into his swarthy face. “You must practice how to look
very cheerful.”

“Must I? Well, how is this?” And Paul promptly expanded his mouth into
the empty grin of a comic mask. “Only I can’t remember to grin while I
count out spoonfuls of cinnamon. It’s like trying to pat your head and
rub your stomach at the same time.”

“In a little while you won’t have to think so hard while you are
measuring your ingredients. I do it by instinct,” said Aunt Gertrude,
proudly. And Paul smiled at her air of naive vanity.

“Oh, _you_ are a very remarkable person, Aunt Gertrude,” he said

“Tut! You mustn’t laugh at me, you impudent boy,” said Mrs. Lambert,
shaking her head, and pretending to be severe. “You must be _very_
respectful.” But she was tremendously pleased with herself for having
discovered a vein of gaiety in her unsociable nephew. His slight smile,
the first spontaneous expression she had seen on his face, was like a
light thrown across his harsh, aquiline features, giving the first
glimpse that anyone of the family had seen, into the gentler traits of
his character; and Aunt Gertrude felt that she had been right in
attributing his abrupt, ungracious manner to loneliness and depression.

“Now,” she said briskly, “_I_ shall finish this first batch, just to
show you how it is done, and then you must do one all by yourself. How
nice it is to have you to help me! You can’t think how I dislike being
shut up in this room for hours every day without anyone to talk to.”
Indeed, there was nothing that Aunt Gertrude disliked more heartily than
solitude and silence. Like Jane, she adored people in general, she loved
chat and gossip, she loved to hear all that was going on, and could
never escape too quickly to the shop, where all day long the townspeople
were running in and out, always stopping for a short chat with the
lively, inquisitive merry proprietress.

“You see, now, you have to knead this dough _quite_ vigorously,” was her
next instruction, and turning her sleeves back from her strong, white
arms, she proceeded to give a demonstration, while Paul sat by, with his
elbow on the table, resting his head on one hand, and smiling at her
_very_ vigorous treatment of the meek, flabby dough.

“You’re certainly giving that poor stuff an awful trouncing, Aunt
Gertrude. Don’t you think you ought to let up a bit?”

“Not at all,” returned Mrs. Lambert, seriously, “I never let up, once I

“What a terrible character you are, Aunt Gertrude! Here, do you want me
to take a hand at it?”

“No, no,” panted Aunt Gertrude. “Now don’t interfere. Just _watch_ me.”
And again she began her pummelling with redoubled energy. The exercise
brought a deep flush to her smooth cheeks; a lock of brown hair barely
tinged with grey kept falling over her forehead, and she kept tucking it
back with the patience of absent-mindedness.

“You can’t imagine how good these cakes are, my dear. They are my very
favorites, though I know I shouldn’t eat so many myself. I’m afraid I’m
going to be a very fat old lady.”

“Then we’ll put you in the window as an advertisement.”

Aunt Gertrude thought this a huge joke.

“But what will people think when they see you, my dear? We’ll have to
get you fatter, too. Then people will say, ‘Do you see that fine, stout,
rosy, cheerful man? Well, once he was as thin as a poker. Winkler’s
Pastry gave him that lovely figure.’”

At the end of twenty minutes she had finished kneading and rolling the
dough, and with a sigh of relief, turned to Paul.

“There now, you see exactly how it is done, don’t you?”

But Paul did not answer. With a stub of charcoal which he had fished
from his pocket, the future baker was sketching busily on the smooth
round top of a flour barrel. Aunt Gertrude’s mouth opened in speechless

“Tut! what are you doing?”

Paul looked up. Then, seeing Mrs. Lambert’s face, he began to laugh.

“Well, you told me to watch you, Aunt Gertrude. I’ve been watching you.
Why are you cross?”

“But is that any way to do?” demanded Mrs. Lambert, clasping her hands
with a gesture of indignant reproach. “Here I’ve been working and
working, and there you sit, you bad boy—what are you drawing?”

Here her curiosity got the better of her annoyance, and she peered over
his shoulder. The hasty sketch, which had been executed with a skill
that Aunt Gertrude could not fully appreciate, showed a woman with her
arms in a basin of dough—Aunt Gertrude herself, in fact. In arrangement,
and in the freedom and vigor of every line, the rough picture gave
evidence of really exceptional talent. Aunt Gertrude tried to look like
a connoisseur.

“Now, that is very clever. Where did you learn to make pictures?”

Paul shrugged his shoulders.

“I don’t know.”

Then Aunt Gertrude, suddenly remembering the business in hand, put on a
severe expression.

“That is all very well; but what have you learned to-day from me?
Nothing! I have wasted my time! Oh, you are—”

“There, Aunt Gertrude,—I know all about those old cakes. Please just let

“Old cakes, indeed!”

“Beautiful, wo-onderful cakes, then. Please just let me finish this,
like a nice good aunt. And then, I’ll tell you what—I’ll finish it in
colors, and I’ll give it to you. You haven’t any idea how lovely you are
to draw, Aunt Gertrude—you’re so nice and round.”

Aunt Gertrude tried not to simper; she was as susceptible to flattery as
a girl of sixteen, and found it impossible to resist even when she knew
perfectly that she was being cozened.

“What nonsense!” But nonetheless she resumed her position at the bowl of
dough again, and Paul chatted artfully, to distract her thoughts from
his lesson in cooking, while he hastily completed the sketch.

From that afternoon on, there was no longer the slightest shadow of
constraint between aunt and nephew. But Paul was very slow to drop his
aloof curt manner with the rest of the family, and except for Mrs.
Lambert and Granny none of them had penetrated his shell.

Carl had by no means lost his dislike of his cousin, and indeed he was
not entirely to blame. To begin with he inspired Paul with an
uncontrollable desire to annoy him, and when he felt like it, Paul had a
perfect genius for irritating people. He had found all the joints in
Carl’s armour, and he took a thoroughly infuriating delight in probing
him in every unguarded spot. Every now and again, Carl would adopt a
peculiar, affected accent in his speech, and would use very grand
language; then Paul would mimic him perfectly gravely, until Carl was
fairly writhing with suppressed rage. Again, Carl was rather given to
boasting about himself in an indirect way, and Paul would promptly cap
these little bursts of vanity with some outrageous story about
_himself_, making himself out the hero of some high-flown adventure, and
modestly describing his own feats of strength until Carl, who could not
decide whether his cousin was serious or slyly making fun of him, came
at length to the opinion that Paul was the most insufferable braggart
that ever lived. He was particularly vulnerable on this point, because
he had, secretly, a great admiration of physical strength and courage,
and Paul’s superiority to him in these qualities had much to do with his

As the weeks went on, the twins were next to lose their timidity with
their strange cousin. He teased them fearfully, and tweaked their yellow
pig-tails, and told them they looked like a pair of little butter balls;
but on Saturday nights, while Elise read “Ivanhoe” aloud, and the family
gathered around the big fireplace in the dining room, he used to make
them the most wonderful paper dolls, beautifully drawn and colored, and
in the greatest variety; mediæval ladies and knights, brigands, Italian
and Rumanian peasants, and hosts of comic ones; until Minie and Lottie
finally came to regard him as quite the most enchanting and remarkable
member of the family.

Jane, however, was still neutral; she neither liked nor disliked him,
and was perfectly indifferent as to whether he liked or disliked her.

And meanwhile, under Aunt Gertrude’s guidance, he struggled, more
manfully than successfully with the difficult art of baking cakes and
bread. It cannot be said that he showed the slightest signs of the gift
which Mr. Lambert believed that Johann Winkler had bequeathed to all his
descendants; and so far not one of his attempts had been fit to go into
the shop. His bread was as heavy as lead, his rolls were like sticks of
dynamite, his cakes invariably scorched, or had too much baking soda in

Notwithstanding the fact that he really tried hard to learn, as much to
please his aunt as for any other reason, and cheerfully rose before
daylight on those wintry mornings to knead his dough, and see that the
ovens were properly heated, Mr. Lambert chose to believe that his nephew
was deliberately trying _not_ to be successful; and seeing in Paul’s
repeated failures a sly rebellion against his plans, he became more and
more out of humour with the boy.

“See here, young man, how long is this business going to go on?” he
demanded at length, losing patience altogether. “All of us have got to
earn our own salt. I’m not a rich man, and I simply can’t afford to
provide for a big, strapping boy who can’t even learn a simple trade—”

“‘A little patience, Uncle—’” quoted Paul serenely. Mr. Lambert flushed.

“You are impudent. Patience, indeed. I have been patient. But I feel
that it is high time that you proved yourself in earnest, or at least
told me frankly whether you intend to make yourself of some use or not.”

Paul thought for a moment, then he said slowly,

“Uncle, I _am_ trying to learn this confounded business. There is no use
in getting angry with me—it isn’t my fault if I don’t succeed. Ask Aunt
Gertrude whether I’ve worked hard or not. But I don’t want to be a
burden to you—you’ve been very kind, and I should hate to feel that you
think I’m simply sponging on you. If you aren’t satisfied with me,
please just say so.”

“Oh, come now, my boy, there’s nothing to take offense about,” said Mr.
Lambert hastily, changing his tactics immediately. “It merely occurred
to me that _you_ were not satisfied, and to urge you, if that is the
case, to speak out frankly.”

Paul hesitated. During the last three or four weeks he had been
repeatedly on the point of coming to an understanding with his uncle,
and had put it off, certain that it would not be an “understanding” at
all, but simply a good old-fashioned row. There was not one chance in a
hundred that Mr. Lambert could be made to understand his ideas or
sympathize with them in the least, and Paul, financially, as well as in
other ways, was too helpless to struggle just then. At the same time, it
had occurred to him, that from one point of view, he was not acting
fairly. He was ashamed of accepting Mr. Lambert’s hospitality when,
plainly, it was extended to him only on the condition that he conformed
with Mr. Lambert’s wishes, and when he had not the slightest intention
of fulfilling his uncle’s desires.

“It’s a pretty shabby trick, and cowardly too, to live here until I get
ready to do what I want, when all of them are depending on my being a
fixture. It would be better to put the whole business up to uncle, and
stand my ground openly. Then, if he wants to kick me out, he can.”

Paul reached this decision in the pause that followed Mr. Lambert’s last
remark, during which his uncle eyed him narrowly.

“I see that you are deliberating,” said Mr. Lambert, coldly. “Again let
me urge you to be frank.”

“Very well, sir. I will!” declared Paul impetuously. “I’ll be telling
you very little more than I told you when I first came. I can never
learn to be a baker. You can see that for yourself. And what’s more, it
isn’t as if I hadn’t tried. I don’t want charity, and I thought that if
for a while I could be of some help to Aunt Gertrude, it might be one
way of paying for my board and lodging. And that’s why—whatever you may
think—I’ve done my best to learn how to make all this stuff. But it’s no
use. I never can be a baker, and _I don’t want to be a baker_!”

“Ah!” said Mr. Lambert, leaning back in his chair. “I thought that was
how the land lay.” He was silent for a moment, and then, carefully
plucking a thread from the buttonhole in his lapel, he inquired.

“And what _do_ you want to be?”

“I want to be—” (“Here’s where the music starts,” thought Paul), “I want
to be a painter.”

Mr. Lambert looked as if a cannon had suddenly been discharged in his
ear. For fully thirty seconds he was quite speechless; then pulling
himself together, he articulated,

“A _what_?”

“A painter,” Paul repeated.

“Do you mean a house-painter, or—” here Mr. Lambert raised his eyes to
the ceiling as if invoking the mercy of the gods upon this benighted
youth, “or an _artist_?”

“I’m afraid I mean an artist, sir.”

“A person who,” Mr. Lambert went through a tragic pantomime of painting
in the air, “who paints _pictures_?”

“Yes,” said Paul briefly.

There was a long pause while Mr. Lambert struggled to assimilate this
preposterous idea. At last a tolerant, half-pitying smile spread over
his features.

“My dear boy, we all have foolish notions in our youth. You will get
over this nonsense. Meanwhile, be so good as never to mention it to me
again.” And without another word, he left the room.

“Well!” said Paul aloud, “I certainly didn’t accomplish much. Where do I
stand, anyhow?” Again the picture of the cross-roads rose in his mind,
again the thought of the city.

“Here I am, just because I didn’t have the _nerve_ to make a break for
the other direction,” he thought bitterly, recalling his ignominious
attempt at flight, “because I was afraid of being cold and hungry, and
now, I’m in a worse fix than I was before.” For while he cared very
little about his uncle’s opinions, he had grown to love his aunt, and
the thought of disappointing her hopes troubled him deeply.

Well, at least his uncle knew his intentions. If he did not choose to
regard them seriously, that was his own affair. Paul decided to let
matters take their own course for a while.

Now, as a matter of fact, Mr. Lambert considered his nephew’s
declaration a great deal more seriously than he appeared to. He knew
just enough about people to realize quite clearly that there was a good
likelihood of Paul’s _not_ getting over his absurd notions; but he was
quite determined that they should be suppressed with a firm hand. He
made no reference whatever to their conversation, and continued to act
as if Paul’s expostulation had never been uttered, but at the same time
he was keenly alert to note any further symptoms that Paul still
harbored his outlandish, preposterous, ridiculous, and treasonable idea.

It was not long before he discovered that these symptoms were very
alarming indeed.

One Sunday afternoon early in December, he returned from a two days’
trip to Allenboro to find his family gathered in the dining room,
indulging in a general spirit of gaiety, which in Mr. Lambert’s opinion
was exceedingly out of place on the Sabbath. He was strongly persuaded
in favor of the most rigid observation of Sunday, not as a day of rest,
but of strenuous inactivity. All out of door games were forbidden, any
books not of the most serious character were sternly prohibited, and
laughter was frowned upon by the worthy old merchant, who ruled his
household with a rod of iron. Furthermore, he had not accomplished all
that he had wished at Allenboro, and he was in no very genial humour to
begin with. What were his feelings, therefore, when, appearing in the
doorway, tall and formidable in his burly overcoat, and wide-brimmed
black felt hat, he discovered his family enjoying themselves in defiance
of every rule of Sabbath decorum and solemnity.

The twins were popping corn over the fire, Granny was _knitting_! While
over by the window, Elise, Jane and Aunt Gertrude were grouped around
Paul, all talking at once, and apparently in great excitement. What they
were talking about, and exclaiming over, Mr. Lambert did not know. The
window shade was run up as far as it would go, admitting the wintry
twilight, and under the window, propped against the back of a chair was
an object which looked like the top of a flour barrel. Paul, evidently
in a most unfamiliarly happy and animated frame of mind, was talking

“You see, if I only had some decent colors! But it’s not so bad, either.
What it needs, now—” here he broke off abruptly, as Mr. Lambert, with a
loud, and threatening “Ha-hum!” announced his presence.

Everyone turned around with as much consternation, as if they had been
caught conspiring to rob a bank, and blank, guilty silence fell over the

“Ah!” said Mr. Lambert. He allowed his displeasure to show very plainly
in his face, through the chilly smile with which he received his wife’s
timid kiss.

“Elise, will you take my coat?”

“You are cold, Peter. Do get warm, while I see about supper,” said Aunt
Gertrude hastily.

“But I am anxious to see what it is that interests you all so much,”
said Mr. Lambert, walking over to the window. Paul, with a rather
defiant expression, stepped aside to allow his uncle a full view of the

“You have been painting? My dear boy, you must know that I cannot allow
you to indulge in such frivolous pastimes on this day of the week,” said
Mr. Lambert calmly. “Gertrude, I am surprised that you allowed this
infringement of our rules.” Poor Aunt Gertrude blushed red under this
reproof, and stammered like a school-girl.

“But, Peter, I didn’t know—you never said—”

Mr. Lambert checked her with a slight gesture; then adjusting his
glasses, leant forward to inspect the painting, while Paul, with his
hand on his hip, looked dreamily out of the window. Granny, who was
rather deaf, had been very little disturbed, and went on brazenly with
her knitting. Elise had hastened out to the kitchen to help her mother;
but Jane, intensely interested in the proceedings, stood her ground,
looking keenly from Paul’s face to her father’s.

“You have been painting your aunt, I see,” remarked Mr. Lambert,
presently. “It seems to me that an occupation more suitable to the
Sabbath could have been found.” He looked at the picture closely.
Ignorant as he was of anything concerning the fine arts, he felt that
the painting was far from being merely a school-boyish production; and,
in fact, the very skill it revealed increased his determination to put
an end to his nephew’s efforts once and for all. He did not overlook the
fact that in lieu of proper materials Paul had made a surprisingly
successful use of a piece of raw wood, and a few mediocre oil paints—a
rather bad sign, in Mr. Lambert’s opinion, showing as it did, a
dangerous tendency to surmount difficulties. Moreover, it seemed to him
that the whole thing showed a stubborn, deliberate disobedience to his
orders. He was very angry, too angry to act with tact and good judgment.

Straightening up, with a flush showing on his cheekbones, he said

“I thought I had expressed myself clearly to you before; but evidently I
did not make myself understood. I cannot and I will not have you wasting
your time on this tom-foolery. While you are in my house, you must obey
my orders implicitly, do you understand?”

“You only told me not to—”

“Don’t argue with me, sir! I will not tolerate your disrespect! Let it
be enough for you that I forbid—I _forbid_ your idling over this useless
and childish nonsense.”

Without a word, Paul began to gather together his few brushes and tubes
of paint, but when he started to leave the room with his picture, Mr.
Lambert stopped him peremptorily.

“Leave those things just where they were, please.” Paul did as he was

“You’ll throw them out, uncle?”

“Kindly learn to obey without asking questions!”

All that day, Jane had seen her cousin gay, full of good spirits,
utterly unlike the moody, disagreeable boy that he had been for so long;
but now the old, hard, obdurate expression came into his face.

“These things are mine, uncle,” he said, quietly.

“Indeed? The top of that flour barrel?” inquired Mr. Lambert, pointing
to the picture. Paul hesitated for a moment, and then with a slight
shrug, put it down again on the chair.

“No, that is yours,” he said, and walked out of the room.

Mr. Lambert took the picture, looked at it for a moment or two, as if
uncertain whether it too, were guilty of some heinous crime against his
rule; then, he took it; but instead of breaking it in two, placed it
quite carefully behind his desk.

Paul did not appear at supper; but Mr. Lambert preferred not to notice
his absence. Everyone was aware that civil war was brewing in the
household, and with varying degrees of curiosity or anxiety, made their
private conjectures as to what the future would develop in the way of
open hostilities or amicable compromise between uncle and nephew.

It was at about half-past ten that night, that Jane, who was rarely in
bed at the prescribed time, happened to remember that Elise had left
“Ivanhoe” on the dining room mantel piece; she felt also, that an apple
or two was just what she wanted to subdue a certain mild emptiness. The
household was perfectly still, and so, taking off her slippers, she
stole down-stairs in her stocking feet, to get her book, and rummage in
the larder.

There was still a faint glow of firelight in the dining room.

Half-way to the kitchen door she stopped, arrested by a movement in the
room, and with her heart beating violently, peered about her. Then she
saw that someone was sitting in Granny’s chair. For a moment, she could
not move a muscle, then, mustering up her courage, she quavered,

“Who—who is that?”

The figure in the chair gave a violent start, then with a little laugh
Paul’s voice said,

“Is that you, Jane?”

“Oh, _Paul_!” Jane gave a great sigh of relief.

“Did I frighten you?” Paul asked, getting up.

“Well, you _startled_ me,” said Jane, who had always maintained that she
was not afraid of ghosts or burglars—never having met a sample of
either. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” said Paul. “What are _you_ doing?”

“I want some food,” said Jane, succinctly. “Do you?”

“I’m not very hungry. What are you going to get?”

“Well, if there’s enough wood there to fix up the fire a little, I could
make some cocoa. It’s awfully cold in here.”

Paul picked up a stout log and flung it onto the smouldering ashes, and
in a few moments, a bright flame crackled up, sending its ruddy light
into every corner of the room.

Everyone is familiar with the exquisite feeling of sympathy, which food,
produced at just the right moment, can excite between the most hostile
natures, and over their cups of cocoa, Jane and Paul, who had never been
really hostile, began to see each other in a new light. For the first
time they talked with unguarded friendliness, and gradually Paul became
more confiding, and Jane listened with her usual eager interest.

At first he talked about his life with his father, his wanderings, and
strange adventures, without however, the least exaggeration or the
braggadocio with which he had teased and disgusted Carl. It was not
strange that Jane, who had never seen any part of the world save the few
square miles of earth, bounded by the hills of Frederickstown, listened
to his stories of foreign seas and foreign lands as if she were

Never before had Paul talked to any of them about himself or his past
life; loquaciousness on any subject was not one of his characteristics
and concerning his own affairs he had been particularly reticent; but
now it was as if he could no longer smother down all that was pent up
within him. In the presence of his sympathetic listener, his words now
fairly tumbled over each other, and his face grew tight and weird with
earnestness and enthusiasm.

At length Jane asked him,

“You don’t want to live here and take over the business after all, do

“Ah, Janey, what kind of a baker would I make?” responded Paul, smiling

“You want to be an artist?”

“Yes. Don’t think that I expected to have everything just as I wanted
it. Naturally I knew that I would have to work here. I have no money.
You don’t imagine that I expected Uncle to plant me comfortably in some
art school, and support me while I went through years of study? I
planned, do you see, to work at anything that I could make enough to
repay Uncle for boarding me, and to save a little so that in five or six
years even, I could manage to study. I hadn’t any idea of looking for
help to anyone but myself, and as a matter of fact, I very nearly went
on to the city to look for work instead of plumping myself on uncle. But
I didn’t.—I _did_ happen to be ‘broke,’ and the city was thirty miles
away, and then I hoped that uncle would advise me. I had no one else to
turn to, and it seemed natural to come to him. Then, when I got here, I
found that everything had been arranged for me. What I was to do was all
mapped out—for my whole life—and I hadn’t a word to say about it. And
what was more, Uncle won’t let me mention having plans of my own. And
to-day—well, you were here—he forbade my even playing with paints, ‘As
long as I am in his house.’ Don’t think that I am criticizing him,
Janey. No doubt he is doing exactly what he thinks is best—but what am I
to do? Will you tell me that? I’ve been sitting here thinking and
thinking, and the only answer seems to be for me to get up and go.”

Jane was silent.

“Oh, I _do_ understand uncle’s point of view perfectly. I was awfully
angry to-day, but I’ve tried to look at it reasonably, and I can see why
it seems like rot to him. Thousands of boys of my age have crazy ideas
about what they think they want to do, and thousands of them think
differently as soon as they’ve got some sense. And Uncle thinks, I
guess, that I’ll do the same. If I could only _show_ him how much it
means to me! If I could only show him that I’ve got something in me
besides a lot of high-falutin notions! I _have_ tried to learn how to
bake cakes. But I’ll never learn in this world. Even Aunt Gertrude has
given up on me, and she knows that I haven’t loafed on the job, either.
I’ve been pummelling dough every day at five in the morning for the last
six weeks, and still not a single roll has turned out decently.

“But Uncle won’t hear of my getting any other job, all because of this
idiotic tradition about the Winklers. I never heard of—” he broke off
and began to pace up and down the room, while Jane sat silently nibbling
her thumb-nail.

“Well, what shall I do?” he demanded presently—“_You_ suggest something
Janey, you’re a wise little worm.” This sincere, if rather inelegant
tribute brought a pleased smile to Jane’s face. “What would you do if
you were in my boots?”

Jane meditated a moment; then she said,

“Well, I wouldn’t get up and go—yet. I’d wait and see.”

“Wait and see what?” Paul rapped out a little impatiently, and frowning
as if this piece of advice were not exactly to his taste. But Jane was

“I’d wait and see—lots of things. First of all, you _might_ find that
you don’t care as much about painting pictures as you think you do.”
This observation surprised and angered Paul, and his face showed it. His
startled, resentful look said plainly, “I thought that _you_ understood
me!” But Jane neither retracted nor explained. “And then,” she went on,
calmly, “Daddy _might_ change his mind a little, if you took good care
not to make him angry about unimportant things—especially about
squabbling with Carl. And last of all, it’s just barely possible that
another Winkler _might_ turn up—you never _can_ tell.”

Paul stared at her for fully thirty seconds in absolute silence. Then he
honored these sage remarks with a contemptuous grunt.

“Well, that helps a lot I must say,” he said, sarcastically. “If I
waited for any one of those things to happen, I’d be pounding dough
until doomsday! Thanks!” and with that he turned away and resumed his
restless promenade around the room. Jane shrugged her shoulders. A
rather long and chilly pause followed. Paul was disappointed in her; but
his silent indignation seemed to trouble her very little, and after a
while, he threw a cold glance at her. But she was sitting with her back
toward him, and so he felt the need of rousing her attention in another

“You think, I may not care about painting as much as I think I do?”

“Maybe, maybe not. I said, _I’d_ wait and see,” returned Jane placidly.

“Humph. And you think Uncle might change his mind?”

“He might.”

“And what chance is there of another Winkler showing up, I’d like to
know? One in ten thousand!”

“It _might_ be better than that.” Paul sat down on the edge of the
table, and glowered at the back of her head. Then gradually a slow,
unwilling grin broke over his face.

“You’re a nice one to preach patience!”

“Oh, I’m quite patient _sometimes_.”

“Well, look here—I’ll wait and see, then. But I’ll tell you one thing—if
things don’t begin to get different pretty soon, I’m off!”

“All right,” said Jane, getting up. Paul stood up, too. Then suddenly he
held out his hand.

“Listen, Janey—please don’t mind me when I get rough and short. You’ve
got more sense than I have, and I need someone to talk to like the

“_I’ve_ got more sense than _you_ have, Paul!” repeated Jane, sincerely
amazed. “How can you say that? Why, you’re the most—the most clever
person I ever knew in my life!”

Nothing cements friendship like mutual admiration; but Jane felt
something warmer and better than mere admiration, as she put her hand
into Paul’s big paw; she felt that rare, happy pleasure that is stirred
in a responsive young soul when it is first called upon to give sympathy
and help; and their firm handclasp sealed a friendship that was to last
to the end of their lives.


Half a dozen feminine tongues babbled cheerfully. For once the Deacon’s
chilly parlor, with its slippery, horse-hair furniture, its
stiff-featured portraits, and its big, black square piano, had lost a
little of its funereal aspect, and a great deal of its oppressive
neatness. Over the chairs, over the Brussels carpet, over the bow-legged
table were scattered pieces of bright sateen, blue, red, orange and
black, scraps of lace and gold tinsel, spangles and feathers. A coal
fire glowed amiably in the grate, adding a deeper color to six blooming
faces, and flashing on the bright needles that were so industriously
plied. Outside, the first heavy snow of the winter was falling, in big,
lazy flakes, which had already covered streets and roofs, and weighted
the twigs and branches of the trees.

“Well, I’ve got every one of my Christmas presents ready,” remarked one
young lady with a comfortable sigh of relief. “I start making them in
June, but somehow I never get done until the _last_ minute.”

“I just never try to make mine,” said another, “I take a day, and buy
all of them in the city, when I go to visit Cousin Mary. It saves time
and trouble, and _I_ think it’s really more economical.”

“Oh, but then they don’t have the personal touch,” said a third, a tall,
thin anæmic-looking girl, with large, soulful eyes, and a tiny mouth.
“And that is what counts. It’s what makes Christmas presents mean
something. I always say that I never think of the gift, but of the
thought of the giver.”

“But you make such clever things, Amelia,” said the one who bought her
Christmas presents, feeling ashamed of her lack of sentiment.

“Very simple things, Dolly,” said Amelia, rinsing off her watercolor
brush, and then dabbing it in a square of holly-red paint. “But I think
that just a little card, with a tasteful design, and an appropriate
verse is a very suitable way of expressing the spirit of Christmas.”

“And quite right, my dear,” boomed in Mrs. Deacon, appearing in the
doorway. “But then you have such a charming gift of poesy. Not all of us
are blessed with _your_ magniloquence.” She lifted one of Amelia’s
cards, and inspected it, through a pair of lorgnettes, which she held
about six inches from her eyes, spreading out her little finger. “_How_
charming! How effete with taste! Lily, my dear, you too should try to
emulate Amelia’s Christmastide mementos. You are not entirely devoid of
poetic genius. Why, I have many little emblems of your youthful flights
of fancy—where is that album, my dear?”

“Oh, mamma!” cried Lily, blushing crimson. “Those silly poems of mine!”

“Indeed they are not silly,” said Mrs. Deacon, rummaging in the drawer
of the table. “No, the album is not here. Lily, my dear, when will you
remember that everything has its proper place? Now, I did want to read
Amelia that delightful little Bandeau of yours on the Pine-Tree. She
would be interested, I’m sure. And the Album is not here. Perhaps
though, I put it away myself.”

“Oh, mamma, don’t get it now,” begged Lily, overcome with embarrassment,
adding, desperately, “Do look at the lovely thing Elise is making.”

Mrs. Deacon, huge and majestic in her rustling black silk, turned her
lorgnette on Elise’s exquisite embroidery.

“Charming. Absolutely charming. Do not rise, my dear. Well, I see that
you are all happily occupied. What are these gay colors?” she asked
presently, indicating the pieces of sateen.

“Oh, I brought some things that I thought might do for costumes, Mrs.
Deacon,” said Annie Lee Webster. “For our party you know, on New Year’s

“Ah! A Masquerade? How charming.”

“What are you going as, Amelia?” asked the fourth girl, the lively,
apple-cheeked Dolly Webster. The poetess looked up dreamily.

“As Sappho,” she replied. Mrs. Deacon looked astonished, and interested.

“Sappho, my dear? How will you do that? Sappho was a race-horse!”

There was an irrepressible chuckle from the window embrasure, where,
concealed by the long, dark-red curtains, Jane was curled, with a book,
and a half-sucked orange.

Mrs. Deacon turned swiftly, her lorgnette levelled on the younger Miss
Lambert like a microscope.

“Ah, Jane!” she observed a little coldly. Jane stood up respectfully,
concealing her vulgar orange under her pinafore. “What are you laughing
at, my dear?” asked Mrs. Deacon suspiciously.

“I thought it would be funny for Amelia to go as a race-horse,” replied
Jane, simply, quite at her ease under Mrs. Deacon’s prolonged stare.
Amelia, who took herself very seriously, and hated to appear in a
ridiculous light even for a moment, said rather indignantly,

“A race-horse! Sappho was a poetess.”

“Ah, of course!” said Mrs. Deacon hastily, “that will be charming. And
_so_ well chosen. How will you signify yourself?”

“I am going to wear a simple Grecian robe of white muslin, with laurel
leaves in my hair. And I shall carry a lyre,” replied Amelia. “I thought
I would let my hair hang loose.”

“Ravishing! Simply ravishing!” cried Mrs. Deacon in perfect raptures.
“So simple. And after all, is there anything like simplicity?”

“How will you get a lyre?” asked the practical Annie Lee.

“I shall try to make one out of card-board and gold paper.”

“Or you could borrow old Mr. Poindexter’s banjo,” suggested Jane,
gravely. “That would really be better, because you _could_ twang on it.”

Amelia did not deign to reply to this remark.

“What are you going to wear, Lily?” Elise put in hurriedly, throwing a
reproving look at Jane.

Lily glanced at her mother.

“I wish I could go as—as a Spanish dancer!” she said timidly.

“A Spanish dancer, Lily!” cried Mrs. Deacon. “Indeed I could not permit
anything of the sort! No. But it seems to me that it would be very
delightful if you should affect a character very similar to Amelia’s.
Why would it not be sweet for you to go together as the Two Muses, the
one fair, the other brunette, representing, as it were, the poetical
talent of Frederickstown? I would suggest, too, that each of you recite
some little poem of her own composition. Lily, I must find that album.”
And with this, Mrs. Deacon hastened from the room.

Lily looked distressed. She was terribly shy, and the thought of having
her poor little verses publicly read and appraised, dyed her smooth
face, with one of her frequent blushes.

“I _would_ like to go as a Spanish Dancer, though,” she said, presently,
biting off a thread with her little white teeth, “I don’t know why, but
I do. I’d like to wear a comb in my hair, and a black fan, and _scarlet

“You’d look lovely. I’m sure if you beg hard, your mother would let
you,” wheedled Annie Lee. Lily shook her head.

“I don’t think so. And I’m afraid mamma thinks its awfully bold of me
even to think of such a thing.”

“There’s nothing bold about a Spanish dancer. Just dashing,” said Dolly.

“But Lily isn’t at all dashing,” remarked Amelia.

“I want to be, though,” said Lily suddenly. “I’d like to be very, very
dashing just for once in my life. I want to know what it feels like. I’m
sick of being demure and lady-like. Yes, I am! And I want to wear a comb
in my hair and scarlet heels.” The color rose in her cheeks, and her
blue eyes shone with a rebellious light. “I—I want to—to _flirt_!”

“Lily!” cried Amelia, in pained astonishment, “why, whatever is the
matter with you? You want to _flirt_? Why, I never heard of such a
thing. You, of all people! Why, flirting is beneath you!”

“Oh, no, it’s not!” returned Lily, audaciously. “Do you think it’s
beneath _you_?”

“Of course it’s beneath Amelia,” interrupted Dolly, whose brown eyes
were twinkling, “Amelia’s too intellectual to care about anything like
that, aren’t you?”

Amelia hesitated.

“I think that flirting is very trivial,” she said at length, in her
superior way, “and no flirt ever wins a man’s solid respect. My
brother-in-law says that every man really cares more about good sense,
even though he may show a passing interest in frivolous people.”

“I don’t care what your brother-in-law thinks,” returned Lily, with a
spirit that astounded her friends. “_I_ feel like flirting. I’m tired of
being sensible. I want to be gay, and—and _dangerous_.”

“Amelia, you make me weary,” said Dolly; “you pretend you aren’t the
least bit interested in beaux, but I know that you pose as being
intellectual, just to—well, because you think it’s one way of attracting
’em! And why are you going as Sappho if it isn’t to show off your long

A titter of mirth greeted this observation, which struck everyone but
Amelia as being remarkably astute.

“Come on, Lily—let’s just see how you _would_ look in a Spanish
costume,” coaxed Annie Lee. “We can use this yellow stuff for a skirt.
Has anybody got a black lace scarf and a comb?”

“I have,” said Lily, herself. “I got them about four years ago and I’ve
had them hidden in my lowest bureau drawer ever since. I knew I never
could use them, but I couldn’t resist them. I—I put them on sometimes
when I’m alone, just to see what I look like. Aren’t I silly?”

“Go and get them,” commanded Annie Lee. But at that moment, Mrs. Deacon

“Now here is the album,” she announced. “I just want to read you these
few little things that I think perfectly dear, Amelia. You with your
veins of poesy will appreciate them.”

“Oh, mamma, _please_,” implored the hapless Lily, turning red as fire.
“Don’t! They are so _awful_!”

“You are so modest, Lily. Now, here is a little thing that Lily wrote
when she was only fifteen, Amelia. It’s called The Pinetree.” And with a
preparatory “Ahem!” Mrs. Deacon proceeded to read amidst a profound

    “The Pinetree stood lonely and bare, In the ghastly—no, ghostly,
    white light of the moon, And I wondered why it made me Feel so
    very full of gloom. It made me think of all the friends,
    Whom—Lily, dear what is this next word?”

But Lily had fled. “That child is perfectly ridiculous,” said Mrs.
Deacon, with annoyance. “Now, I think these little things are full of
poetic feeling. So melancholy, you know. Lily was quite a melancholy
child. Just look over some of these little things, Amelia, and tell me,
if you don’t think they are sweet. Read the one beginning,

    “Alone, alone, why am I so alone?”

Just as this point the clock struck four, followed by the low chimes
from the belfry of the nearby church, and Mrs. Deacon suddenly
remembered that she was due at a committee meeting at four-fifteen.

Lily was persuaded to return, and the unfortunate subject of her “poesy”
was tactfully abandoned, and now that Mrs. Deacon’s overwhelming
presence was withdrawn, the discussion of scarf and scarlet heels was

“We’ll dress you up, anyway. And I’m sure that when she sees you Mrs.
Deacon will let you have your way,” said Annie Lee. “Get all your
things, and _I’ll_ direct.”

Jane, from the window embrasure, watched the proceedings with a critical
eye. Of all the older girls of the town—in fact of all the girls in
general,—the gentle Lily was her favorite. There was not an atom of
heroine-worship in her attitude; on the contrary, she felt almost older
than Lily in many ways, notwithstanding the four years difference in
their ages; and she felt rather sorry for Lily, without exactly knowing
why. Jane, so capable herself of getting what she wanted, had the
tendency of many vigorous natures, to feel a certain good-natured,
wondering contempt for weaker and timid characters; but there was
something about Lily’s weakness and timidity that was so perfectly in
keeping with her delicately lovely face, with her daintiness and
maidenliness, that it was really one of her charms, a beauty in itself.

With a sort of benevolent smile Jane observed Lily’s face color with
naive pleasure, as she saw her ambition to appear “dashing and
dangerous” gradually being realized under Annie Lee’s skillful
manipulation of the very simple materials at hand.

In less than half an hour, the heavy, mahogany-framed mirror, reflected
the gayest vision that had ever peered into its mottled surface. Jane
clapped her hands delightedly.

“_Now_ don’t you like yourself!” she crowed. Annie Lee sat back on her
heels, thoroughly satisfied with her achievement. And well she might be.
The vivid yellow skirt, which looked almost exactly like real satin, had
been judiciously shortened to show the prettiest ankles in
Frederickstown, clad in a pair of black silk stockings with scarlet
clocks!—another of Lily’s hidden treasures. The black lace scarf, draped
like a mantilla over the high tortoise-shell comb, fell over Lily’s
slender white shoulders, and framing her face, made her skin seem more
transparent, her hair blacker, her eyes bluer, and her mouth redder than
before. Mrs. Deacon’s spangled black fan had been boldly rifled from her
bureau drawer, and from the humble duty of stirring the listless air in
church on a summer morning, had been promoted to that of fluttering
coquettishly in Lily’s hand.

“If you must have scarlet heels,” said Annie Lee, “you can tear the
satin off the heels of your black slippers and paint the wooden part

“You _do_ look perfectly scrumptious, Lily,” said Dolly; “there isn’t a
thing wrong, and you’ve simply got to wear that costume.”

Lily, with her closed fan laid against her lips, gazed into the mirror,
as if uncertain that the reflection that gazed back were really she,

“I wish—” she began, and then broke off with a shame-faced, confused
little smile.

Just then, Jane, who happened to glance out of the window to see how
deep the snow was getting, remarked,

“There goes Mr. Sheridan. I wonder what on earth—”

“Where?” cried a chorus of voices in great excitement, and instantly
every girl was at the window peering over each other’s shoulders, and
fairly bursting with curiosity to see the eccentric young man, whose
habits had for several weeks been the subject of much speculation in
that busybody little town. Even Amelia forgot her dignity and scrambled
to see him. Lily, only, tried to appear indifferent, but without
complete success; for after a moment’s hesitation, she too was peeping
out from behind the substantial Dolly.

The object of this flattering interest was sauntering along with his
hands in his pockets, and his head bent; but presently, as if he felt
the magnetism of all this concentrated attention, he looked up to the
window. His expression of surprise,—even of indignation, as if he
resented this notice from the “feminine element”—was almost instantly
replaced by one of alertness. Jane beamed at him, and waved her hand,
and he smiled back at her and lifted his hat; but, in that brief
second—and Jane did not fail to note this—his eye travelled swiftly over
the cluster of pretty faces, and with remarkable keenness, singled out
Lily’s, and again he lifted his hat, and bowed slightly.

Jane turned quickly to see Lily blushing pink, and with an answering
smile just fading from her eyes.

“Do _you_ know him too?” she demanded. Lily pretended not to hear.
Shrinking back, and pursing up her lips, she said primly,

“Aren’t you all ashamed of yourselves—rushing to stare at a stranger
like that, and letting him see you, too?”

“I’d like to know why I shouldn’t,” said Annie Lee. “Anyone who is as
queer as he is, deserves to be stared at.”

“What’s queer about him?” cried Lily, quite indignantly.

“Well, he never goes anywhere, and never sees anyone, and lives all
alone in that big house. You may not call that queer, but _I_ do.”
returned Annie Lee.

“And he’s _so_ handsome,” murmured Dolly, sentimentally. “I’m sure he’s
had some unhappy love-affair.”

“Pooh!” said Jane, who was not romantic, “he’s no more heart-broken than
I am.”

“You know very little, as yet, concerning the secret sorrows that many
people hide,” said Amelia.

“When they hide them that’s one thing,” retorted Jane, “but he
advertises his like a breakfast food.” Then once more she turned on
Lily, remorselessly, “Do _you_ know him, too, Miss Lily?” she repeated.

“I? Why, n-no,” said Lily, pretending to be studying her own dimpled
chin in the mirror.

“He bowed to you,” insisted Jane.

“To me? Why, he didn’t do anything of the sort!”

“Lily Deacon!” cried Dolly, “you know very well he did! Any why are you

“I’m not blushing. I don’t know him. How could that be? I-I only—”

“You only what?”

“Why, nothing!”

“Lily, you’re concealing something!” cried Annie Lee.

“Oh, I’m not. Don’t be so silly. It isn’t anything at all. Only last
Thursday, when I was coming home from Mrs. McTavish’s I happened to take
a short cut through the field there, and that hateful dog that belongs
to Mr. Jenkins started to run after me, barking and growling the way he
always does. I got over the stile, but he crawled under the fence, and
followed me again. And I started to run, and he ran after me, and jumped
up at me and frightened me to death. And Mr. Sheridan happened to be
coming through the field. And he caught the dog, and told me I was a
silly to run. And that’s all.”

“My _dear_!” breathed Dolly, “and is that all he said?”

“Oh, he just asked me if I was afraid of dogs, and I said only of some.
And he said he liked them, they were so intelligent. And—and then I said
I hated cats, and he said he did too; and asked me if I liked horses—”

“How long did this keep up?” inquired Annie Lee.

“There are lots of animals,” said Jane. “Did you find out how he liked
cows and pigs and ducks and porcupines—”

“I think you are all mean to laugh!” cried Lily indignantly. “It was
perfectly natural to say _something_. And he was very nice and polite.”

“And what was the dog doing meanwhile?”

“The dog? What dog? Oh—I guess it must have gone home.”

“Well!” said Amelia, “I must say, Lily, that I think it would have been
quite enough if you had simply thanked him, and gone on your way. And
_I_ think that Mr. Sheridan should hardly have asked you if you liked
dogs when he had never been introduced to you.”

Lily, who was easily crushed, hung her head at this reproof, and did not
attempt to defend herself. Now that she thought of it in the light that
Amelia’s words threw on it, it seemed nothing short of shocking that she
had spoken in such a familiar vein with a young man to whom she had
never been introduced. Why had she said anything about it? Now, it was
all spoiled, that innocent little episode, which had given her so much
pleasure just to think about. Jane, however, quickly came to her

“How silly! I don’t think anyone but a prig would be as proper as all

“Jane!” remonstrated Elise, “that isn’t a very nice thing to say.”

“How do _you_ happen to know him Janey?” asked Annie Lee.

“Oh, I called on him,” replied Jane, nonchalantly.

“_Called_ on him!”

“Well, I thought someone ought to see what he was like. And he was very
nice. What I’ve been wondering is what he does with himself all the
time. He says he wants solitude, and that he doesn’t want to have to see
any people, but I think that’s all nonsense. _I_ think he’s bored to
death with himself.”

“Do you know what?” said Annie Lee, “I’m going to ask mother to invite
him to our party. If he doesn’t want to he doesn’t have to come; but
everyone else in Frederickstown _is_ invited, and its all so informal
and everything, I don’t see why we shouldn’t ask him too. It would be
perfectly all right, because I think father knows him. I _know_ father
used to know Major Sheridan, because I’ve heard him talk about when they
were in the Spanish American war.”

This idea became popular immediately. Even Amelia had no objections to
make, and was in fact already making certain mental improvements on the
costume she had planned.

But Lily was silent. Amelia’s criticism of her behavior had wounded her
to the quick, and with a sober face she began quietly to take off her
finery, as if some of the fascination had evaporated from that dashing
Spanish comb, and even from the thought of scarlet heels.


Mr. Sheridan, like Achilles, had been sulking for a remarkably long
time. It is true that some men and women are able to nurse a grievance
for life; but Mr. Sheridan was too young, and too healthy not to find
himself, at the end of some eight weeks, thoroughly bored, restless and
dissatisfied with himself. He was not ready to admit this yet, however.
He believed that he had proved conclusively that it was in every way the
wisest thing to withdraw in lofty disgust from the arena of human
affairs, and while his present course of life had the charm of novelty,
he was unwilling to admit that he was possibly mistaken. For a time he
rather enjoyed the rôle of the misanthrope, and cynic. But it was not
his natural character, by any means, and notwithstanding the fact that
he _believed_ that he did not want to have anything to do with anyone,
he found his new rôle exceedingly tiresome to play day in and day out
without an audience. Peterson, who was as bored as he, and who could not
understand “what had gotten into Mr. Tim,” was sour and unsympathetic;
and finding the need of someone as confidant, absolutely imperative, the
embittered recluse of five-and-twenty, resorted to writing long letters
to his one-time boon companion, Philip Blackstone, in which he poured
forth his uncomplimentary opinions of human nature, gave lengthy
descriptions of his states of mind, and accounts of his mode of living.
Phil, a hearty young man, who loved horses and dogs, who was quite
helpless without his friends, and hated writing letters, responded
tersely enough, inquiring what was the matter with him anyway. The
correspondence died out. Mr. Sheridan tried to devote himself to books,
but the long, unbroken hours of silence in the musty old library
depressed him terribly. He took long walks, and long rides for exercise,
but his own thoughts were dull company. He rode through the woods and
the idle, untilled fields of his own estate, and was struck by the
contrast between his own barren, unkempt lands with the thriving farms
of his neighbors. It occurred to him to go in for farming in the spring,
to plant corn and wheat, and to get cows and horses, to build barns and
paddocks, and to rent out part of his land to some of the thrifty,
shrewd young farmers, the newly married ones. The idea delighted him; he
wanted to talk about it, to get the opinions of some of the intelligent
land-owners of the neighborhood, and to air his own notions. But
gradually his enthusiasm waned again. He was getting lazy and listless.
Every effort seemed useless to him. He began to feel very much abused
because no one was interested in him. Miss Abbott had treated him very
badly, even Peterson was as cross with him as the old servant’s good
manners would allow, Phil scolded him in his short dry letters, and
finally had stopped writing altogether, and that bright little
red-headed girl had never come to see him again. When he walked through
the town he felt abused because everyone seemed to be having a better
time than he. They all knew each other; the women stopped to chat on
their way to market, the men talked local politics and business in the
doorways of the warehouses; when he passed they touched their hats
respectfully, and stared after him curiously, as if he were something
that had dropped from another planet. He was in a chronically bad humor.
That the world in general had taken him at his word, and left him
entirely alone put him still more at odds with it, and the fact that he
knew he was living idly and uselessly put him at odds with himself. If
he had stopped to consider, he would have discovered very quickly that
he was not heart-broken as he imagined at all; he was simply angry. He
tried to excuse himself for his aimless existence by arguing that no one
cared what he did, and that it was impossible for a man to keep up his
enthusiasm about anything when there was no one to please but himself.
He told himself that everything was the fault of the heartless Miss
Abbott; but as a matter of fact if he thought a great deal about Miss
Abbott’s unkind treatment, he thought surprisingly little about Miss
Abbott herself. He was quite shocked one day to discover how blurred her
very features had become in his memory. A lot of fair, curly hair—which
somehow changed to smooth black tresses when he tried to represent it in
his fancy—a rosy, coquettish face, and the arch, self-confident smile of
a girl who had begun to learn when she was less than sixteen that she
was beautiful and irresistible. But all the features of that pretty,
imperious face were indistinct, and when he tried to picture it very
clearly, he found to his dismay and amazement that he wasn’t thinking of
_that_ face at all. Another one had replaced it, a shy, demure little
face, the features of which were very distinct indeed, so distinct that
he could not doubt for a moment to whom it belonged. This was rather an
alarming discovery to be made by a young man who had definitely decided
that all women were henceforth to be indignantly and strictly avoided.
And it was with dismay that he found himself repeatedly thinking about a
certain brief accidental conversation that he had had with the timid,
black-haired maiden in the field.

“Dogs are so intelligent,”—and then they had spoken of the relative
intelligence of cats. Not a very brilliant conversation, certainly, and
it piqued him a little to think that he had not been able to say
something more interesting and original; yet the girl had listened as
intently as if every word he had uttered was a mine of wisdom.

On the other hand, it was certainly quite possible that _all_ girls were
not as treacherous as the beautiful Miss Abbott. Here he pulled himself
up short, and displeased at his own weakness, firmly resolved not to
waste another thought on Lily. It was all the fault of that little
red-headed Jane, who had popped in on his solitude, and roused his
interest in Lily Deacon by flattering his vanity.

One morning, early in Christmas week, Peterson brought him a note. Mrs.
Webster had couched her invitation in the ceremonious, courtly style of
her generation, reminding him of the friendship that had existed between
her husband and his uncle, and expressing her hope that he would give
them the pleasure of his company on New Year’s Eve.

After the gloomiest Christmas that he had ever spent in his life, Mr.
Sheridan’s determination to avoid human society wavered feebly under
this hospitable attack; and after five or ten minutes reflection, this
hardened misanthropist sat down, and accepted Mrs. Webster’s invitation
in a tone that fairly overflowed with gratitude.

On New Year’s Eve there was a full moon, a huge, silver-white disk that
flooded the whole sky with light, riding high above the happy, festive
little town. New fallen snow glistened on the roofs, lined the black
branches of the trees, and flew up in a sparkling mist from the swift
runners of the sleighs.

All Frederickstown was bound for the Webster’s big farm. The streets
were filled with the sounds of laughter, shouts, jovial singing, and the
jingling of sleigh-bells. One horse sleighs and two horse sleighs, old
ones with the straw coming through the worn felt covering of the seats,
and new ones shining with red paint and polished brass, all were crowded
with holiday-makers. All the younger people, and even many of the older
ones were in masquerade, under their burly overcoats and mufflers, and
vast entertainment was derived from trying to guess who was who, as one
sleigh passed another, the occupants waving and shouting. And it was
amusing to see that of the older people, it was usually the most serious
and sedate who wore the most comic disguises, and the most grotesque
masks; evidently bent upon showing for once in the year that they too
had not forgotten how to frolic. There was old Mr. Pyncheon, with green
pantaloons appearing from beneath his great bearskin coat, and a huge
red false nose hiding his own thin, impressive eagle’s beak; there was
grave, bearded Professor Dodge with red Mephistophelean tights on his
lean nobby limbs, spryly tucking Miss Clementina into his little
single-seated sleigh. (Miss Clementina, aged fifty-two, was representing
“Spring,” in pink tartalan with yards of green cotton vine leaves, and
bunches of pink cotton roses garlanding her spare, bony little figure,
though at present this delightfully symbolical costume was hidden under
piles of cosy-jackets, mufflers, veils and cloaks.) And lastly, there
was Mr. Lambert himself, representing a mediæval astrologer, with a
black sateen robe ornamented with silver-paper stars and crescents, a
long white beard held in place with black tape, and a great pointed cap
nearly a yard high. The entire Lambert family, by no means excluding
either Granny or the twins was packed into the big three-seated sleigh.
Mr. Lambert mounted in front, with Aunt Gertrude beside him, and Minie
between them, snapped his whip in a positively dashing fashion, and off
lumbered the two fat old horses. Sledges flew out from the side lanes,
joining the lively procession, and of course there were races and near
accidents, and once indeed the Todd’s sleigh overturned into a big drift
depositing most of its occupants head downwards into the snow.

“There’s Miss Lily, right in front of us!” cried Jane, “and I do believe
that she’s wearing her Spanish costume after all!”

The Deacons, mother and daughter, were in fact being driven along by old
Mr. Buchanan, who had gallantly placed its sleigh at the service of the
two ladies. At the same time, to judge from Mrs. Deacon’s face, there
seemed to be some reason for uneasiness in the chesterfieldian old man’s
very zeal. He was an ardent, if not an exactly comfortable driver; he
shouted to his horses and the two lean, shaggy animals alternately
stopped short, and leapt forward with terrific suddenness and speed; and
at each jolt, Mrs. Deacon groaned in suppressed alarm. She had begun to
suspect that her escort had already been celebrating the coming New
Year, and, indeed, it was not unlikely; for the poor old bachelor was as
noted for his convivial temperament as for his gallantry.

“Pray, Mr. Buchanan, would it not be as well to drive less rapidly?”
suggested Mrs. Deacon, as casually as she could. But Mr. Buchanan would
not hear of this; he felt that she hinted at a veiled doubt as to his
ability for managing his fiery steeds.

“Have no fears, ma’am. You may place entire confidence in me, ma’am. I
may seem reckless—and there’s dash of the old Harry in my nature, I
won’t deny—but there ain’t a man in Frederickstown, I may say in the
whole _county_, ma’am, as understands this team of horses like me. Why I
was drivin’ this here Jerry and Tom afore you was born,
Miss—er—ma’am;—it’s the living truth. Why, they are like my own
children—they love me, and I l-o-ove them, like they was my own
brothers!” And the tenderness of his emotion so wrought upon Mr.
Buchanan’s spirit, that large tears stood in his childish blue eyes. It
cannot be said that even these assurances calmed Mrs. Deacon’s fears;
but if to her that five mile drive was a thing of sudden alarms and
constant terrors, to Lily it was an unmixed delight. It was not often
that Lily was able to take part in the various merry-makings of the
town; there always seemed to be so many other things for her to do, and
she was far oftener spending her hours in company with her mother’s
serious-minded friends than with the lively boys and girls of her own
age. She attended innumerable meetings of the Ladies’ Civic Uplift
Society, she made innumerable red flannel petticoats with
feather-stitched hems for little heathen girls, she prepared innumerable
sandwiches for various parish entertainments, she made innumerable calls
on fretful invalids; but she did not very often find a chance to have
simply a good time.

Now, snuggling down into a corner of the rickety old sleigh, with the
musty moth-eaten old bearskin robe pulled up to her chin, she sat lost
in complete rapture. The fresh, cold air, stinging her cheeks, the
brilliant moon, the sweetly dissonant jingling of the sleigh-bells, and
the scraps of singing carrying back from the jolly groups ahead of her,
the wide, free stretches of snow-covered fields, glistening under
moonlight so bright that one could detect a rabbit track across their
smooth expanse—all filled her with unutterable delight. She was very
glad that she hadn’t gone with any of the others; then she would have
had to talk, and she wasn’t ready to talk yet. It was too nice just to
be able to sit still, and enjoy it all, and think. Her thoughts must
have been pleasant ones. Pleasant? That is not the word, but then there
is no word that can describe the timid, bold, incoherent, romantic and
beautifully absurd thoughts of an eighteen-year old girl. It is enough
to say that her shining eyes were filled with them, that the dimples
came, and that when she smiled to herself, she bent her head so that no
one would be able to see that smile, and perhaps read its meaning.

Mrs. Deacon had been persuaded to permit the Spanish costume, and under
her scarfs and furs, Lily was very dashing indeed, with the high comb,
and the clocked stockings, the spangled fan, and the scarlet heels. And
she pictured herself naïvely as the belle of the ball; yes, all the
young men should besiege her—but she didn’t care about that in itself.
What she longed for was to appear fascinating and irresistible, just so
that—well, just so that, _he_ could see. Dolly had told her that he
would be there. Would he recognize her? Would he dance with her? Well,
it might be this way; he would see her of course, but she would pretend
not to see him, and he would think that she had forgotten all about him.
Then perhaps he might ask someone to present him, but still she would
pretend to have forgotten all about that day in the field; then he would
ask her to dance with him; but already someone would have claimed that
dance. Then—what if he did not ask her again? Suppose he should just
bow, and go away. There was a possibility.

“What a silly girl I am!” thought Lily, unconsciously shaking her head.
Just then she was flung violently to one side, her mother half tumbling
upon her. At breakneck speed, and with a great flourish of his whip, Mr.
Buchanan had just negotiated the abrupt and difficult turn into the gate
of the Webster’s farm.

Once past the gate, a long and rather narrow road descended gradually
between two snake-fences to the hollow where the big, rambling,
comfortable old homestead stood. The road leading from the house to the
barn was illuminated with colored lanterns, which threw weird tints over
the faces of the masqueraders as they sped past.

Already a dozen sleighs had emptied on the wooden platform in front of
the big sliding doors; already the huge room, with its high ceiling
crossed by solid rafters, was half full of people. It was gaily
decorated. Ropes of cedar entwined the rafters, branches of holly were
tacked to the walls, colored lanterns, with sly sprays of mistletoe
hanging from them, dangled from the ceiling. A huge fire blazed in a
great brick fireplace, in front of which the older men had collected to
drink a toast with Mr. Webster. And up in the erstwhile hayloft, which
now did duty as a sort of musicians’ gallery, a negro band was already
playing “Old Uncle Ned,” with such irresistible liveliness that many
dancers had begun to spin about the floor without having paused to take
off their heavy wraps.

For a New Year’s party at the Websters to be anything but
jolly,—superlatively merry—was an unheard of thing. Indeed it could not
have been otherwise. Theirs was quite the merriest family in the world.
To see the four big boys, with their irresistible grins, and the two
rosy-cheeked bright-eyed girls, and Mrs. Webster, a dignified-looking
woman, with a pair of twinkling eyes, and a lively tongue, and old Mr.
Webster, rotund and ruddy, was sufficient to dispose the most melancholy
soul in the world to jocund mirth.

Around the fire the old wags were cracking jokes and recounting their
favorite anecdotes. Then the darkies, grinning from ear to ear, and
showing rows of teeth like ears of corn, struck up a Virginia Reel.

“Ah-ha!” cried Mr. Webster. “Choose your partners, gentlemen!” and
dashing across the room, he singled out Janey.

“Here’s my girl!” and executing the most wonderful bow imaginable, he
led “his girl” out onto the floor. The Virginia reel went on at a lively
pace, and Mr. Webster, leading with the laughing and muddled Jane,
introduced the most remarkable figures, turning the dance into a sort of
pot-pourri of all the steps he had learned in his youth, including a
cake-walk and a sailor’s horn-pipe. Everyone seemed to want to dance and
no one seemed to have any difficulty in finding a partner; but the two
undisputed belles of the evening were Lily Deacon and—Miss Clementina!
Yes, Miss Clementina, little and wizened and brown as a walnut proved
beyond argument her right to boast of having been once the queen of
hearts in Frederickstown; and although thirty years and more had passed
since her cheeks were rosy, and her sharp little elbows had had dimples
in them, she still had her faithful admirers, grey-haired, portly
gentlemen, a trifle stiff, and a trifle gouty, who still saw in the
wiry, black-eyed little old maid, the charmer of auld lang syne. And how
outrageously she coquetted, and how everyone applauded when she and the
professor danced a schottische together—most gracefully; the professor
spinning about, on his red legs, pointing his toes, skipping and sliding
in the lively dance with all the sprightliness of a stripling of twenty;
and Miss Clementina pirouetting and skipping along beside him, her pink
tartalan skirts swirling around her tiny little feet, and her black eyes
sparkling in her brown little face, as if saying, “Who says that _my_
day is over!”

But Lily held sway over the youth of the gathering. Every moment she was
dancing, light and tireless, as if there were wings on her scarlet
heels. But now and then she lost the thread of what her partner was
saying, and her blue eyes strayed shyly toward the door. Then suddenly,
the bright red color flushed up into her cheeks.

In front of the fire, with a glass of cider in his hand, and talking to
Mr. Webster (who was at last forced to confess himself “a bit winded”)
stood Mr. Sheridan.

He seemed quite content to stand there listening to his host’s
reminiscences of his uncle and the times they had had together; and to
talk about the various features of country life as compared to life in
the city; and to laugh at the droll yarns of the other old gentlemen;
and to watch the multi-colored swarm of dancers spinning about to the
lively rhythms of the negro music. But as a matter of fact, Mr. Sheridan
had, in a remarkably short time singled out one slim figure, and
followed it through the kaleidoscopic motion of the crowd.

“Well, sir, I hope you have decided to settle down here for good,” said
Mr. Webster, heartily.

“I—I haven’t exactly decided. But I shall probably be here for some

“You have a fine old place there. You don’t happen to be thinking of
getting rid of any of that land of yours?”

“It all depends,” replied Mr. Sheridan vaguely.

“Bless me!” exclaimed Mr. Webster suddenly bethinking himself of his
duties. “I’m nearly forgetting that you’re not an old fellow like

And the hospitable old soul took his guest by the arm and dragged him
off to be presented to the young ladies.

First, Mr. Sheridan danced a lively two-step with the plump but agile
Dolly. He enjoyed it, and he enjoyed talking to Dolly, and he enjoyed
the music.

Then Dolly, with a wicked twinkle in her eye, said,

“I want to introduce you to one of my dearest friends.” A hopeful, eager
expression came into Mr. Sheridan’s face, until Dolly, greatly enjoying
his disappointment (which he hastily concealed under a pleasant smile)
betrayed him into the hands of a pallid young lady, wearing a
wilted-looking Grecian robe, and a wreath of laurel leaves in her long,
scanty, mouse-coloured hair. It was Amelia, the poetess.

These proceedings aroused great interest in a quarter to which none of
the guests had given a thought: namely, in the hayloft, or musicians’
gallery. Here since the early part of the evening, Paul had ensconced
himself, his long legs dangling over the edge, his chin between his
hands, brooding above the jolly turmoil of the dance floor like a large,
thoughtful crow; and here several of the younger folk had joined him,
disdaining the flighty amusements of their elders, and greatly
preferring to spend their time in the more solid enjoyment of devouring
nuts and raisins and oranges.

Jane was the latest addition to this noble company. Having ascended the
wooden ladder, she slid along the edge of the loft to Paul’s side.

“Hullo,” she said.

“Hullo,” responded Paul, “been having a good time?”

“Yes. What are you doing?”


“It’s nice up here. It’s near the music. You know, I’d like to learn how
to play the bassoon,” said Jane.

“Then you probably will. How would the trombone suit you? That seems
more your style.”

Jane turned up her nose at him, and then without replying focussed her
attention on the dancers below.

Suddenly, half laughing and half annoyed she exclaimed,

“Oh, that _is_ too mean of Dolly!”

“What’s too mean?”

“Why—oh, she is a wicked-hearted girl!—she _knows_, just as well as I do
that the main reason Mr. Sheridan came was so that he might meet Lily
Deacon. And she’s gone and tied him up with Mealy Amelia!”

“Huh?” said Paul.

“He’ll be with Amelia until the dance is _over_!”

“Is that your friend, Sheridan, down there? He’s sort of a nice-looking
fellow,” remarked Paul, condescendingly. “I thought he was about ninety.
Seems a bit glum, doesn’t he?”

“Well, you’d be, too, if you had Amelia talking about the infinite with
you for a whole evening. I saw Dolly introduce him to her at least half
an hour ago, and he hasn’t been rescued yet. Dolly did that on
purpose—just to tease me!”

“To tease you? Humph, you seem to think yourself a pretty important
person, don’t you?” observed Paul with a grin.

“Well, I asked Dolly myself please to introduce him to Miss Lily as soon
as she could. I _told_ her he was very sad, and needed cheering up—and
just see what she’s done!”

“I must say you aren’t very easy on Amelia. You usually seem to like
everyone. What’s the matter with her?”

“I _do_ like nearly everyone, but I _do not_ like Amelia. She’s a—a
hypocrite,” said Jane. “She’s a _fake_. That’s what I don’t like about
her. I don’t like people who write about the stars, and then turn around
and say mean, nasty, cattish little things just because they’re jealous.
Oh, _poor_ Mr. Sheridan!”

The object of Jane’s ardent sympathy really deserved it. He was doing
his duty manfully and gallantly; but every now and then a haunted and
desperate expression came into his face, as he summoned up all his
faculties to respond to Amelia’s discourse.

She was trying, by various subtle, melancholy little observations to
make him feel that she understood that he was not a happy man, and that
he might confide in her. His only escape from this harassing
conversation was to dance with her (tripping at every second step on her
Grecian draperies) and—his only escape from the disasters of the dance
was to talk to her.

“Paul!” said Jane in a tone of decision, “something must be done.”


“I’ll tell you what. _You_ must go down, and ask Amelia to dance with


“Yes. Now, do an unselfish act, and it shall be returned to you a
thousandfold,” said Jane, unctuously.

“Not interested in any such bargains,” returned Paul.

“Yes. Now, Paul, don’t be stubborn. It’ll only be for a minute. I’ll ask
mother to get Daddy to go and rescue you—or Mr. Webster, or Mr.

“Can’t. Thank heaven, I don’t know how to dance anything but a highland

“Well, teach Amelia how to do that. Come on, now, Paul—like a good,
delicious angel.” And with that she began to tug at his arm.

“Jane, you’re going to be a horrible, horrible old woman. You’re going
to be a matchmaker. You’re going to make all your friends hide in ambush
when they see you coming, and you’ll probably be assassinated.”

“I don’t care. Come along, now—ni-ice little Paul, and teach Amelia how
to do the pretty highland fling!” And actually, so irresistible was her
determination, she coaxed the enraged Paul down the ladder, and standing
disinterestedly at a certain distance away, heard him say meekly,
according to her instructions,

“Miss Hartshorn, may I have the pleasure of this waltz?” his voice
fading away to an anguished whisper. Mr. Sheridan, beaming with
satisfaction, professed abysmal regrets at being forced to lose his
charming partner; and then Paul, with the sweetly wan expression of an
early martyr, placed one arm around Amelia’s waist, and began the
peculiar, grave capering which in his dazed condition, he believed to be
a waltz.


Mr. Sheridan, turning about, suppressing a vast sigh, beheld Jane,
standing and smiling at him with her most benevolent expression.

“Why—so there you are again! How glad I am to see you! Why haven’t you
ever come to call on me? I’ve missed you,” he said, taking her hand. His
pleasure was too sincere not to be extremely flattering.

“I _would_ have come, only I’ve been pretty busy,” she explained; then
her eyes twinkled. “That was Paul,” she said. “You remember I told you
that he was coming. Isn’t he a nice boy?”

It was only the mischievous sparkle in her eyes that told Mr. Sheridan
that she had a double meaning.

“A _charming_ boy!” he declared with fervor; and then he laughed

“That was mean of Dolly,” said Jane.

“What was mean?”

“To tie you up with Amelia Hartshorn.”

“Why, on the contrary, I—I thought Miss Hartshorn very agreeable,”
replied Mr. Sheridan, fibbing like a gentleman.

Jane shrugged her shoulders.

“I was afraid that Dolly might have forgotten that you were a stranger,
and leave you with one partner for the rest of the dance. And then you’d
have been bored, and—and would have wanted solitude worse than ever.”

This remark brought first a puzzled expression and then a burst of
half-shamefaced amusement from Mr. Sheridan.

“You evidently remember our conversation very clearly,” he remarked.

“Oh, yes, I do. I’ve thought about it quite often—that is, about some of
the things you said.”

“And I must add that you seem to take great interest in your friends.”

“I suppose,” replied Jane with a sigh, “that _you_ think I’m an awful
busybody, too. Well, if I am I can’t help it. I mean well.”

Mr. Sheridan chuckled again. He had never before met any youngster who
amused him quite as much as Jane did.

“Was it because you brought some pressure to bear on—er—Paul that he
interrupted my dance with Miss Hartshorn?”

“Yes,” answered Jane absently.

“You seem to find it easy to make people do what you want.”

“No, not really—not at all. I had an awful time with Paul.” Then after a
short pause, she added, “I’m awfully glad you came to-night. It seems to
have cheered you up.”

“Why do you think I needed cheering up?”

“Because you were so gloomy.”

With a smile Mr. Sheridan changed the topic by suggesting that he get
some refreshments, and to this proposition Jane assented

“Do you remember that Miss Lily I told you about?” she inquired
casually, when she had finished her ice. “There she is.”

“The very pretty young lady in the Spanish costume?”

“Yes. She’s horribly pretty, isn’t she? Would you like to dance with

“Very much. Only I haven’t had the pleasure——”

“Oh, _I’ll_ introduce you to her, if you like,” interrupted Jane,
putting her plate on the window sill.

Mr. Sheridan raised his head, and looked at Jane with a touch of
wariness. But her face was innocence itself, utterly disarming in its
childlike simplicity.

Enormously amused, he gravely followed her across the room, to where
Lily was sitting, chatting gaily to the two Webster boys; and Jane
sedately performed the ceremony of introduction. Then, well-satisfied
with her accomplishment, and feeling that she could do no more at
present for these two, she retired to her eyrie in the hayloft, entirely
forgetful of the unhappy Paul.

It is just possible that, as, out of the corner of her eyes she saw Mr.
Sheridan approaching, Lily pretended to be enjoying the conversation of
the Webster boys a little more than she really was. She felt the color
burning in her cheeks, and was angry with herself.

“He’ll think I’m just a—a silly village girl,” she thought. Her natural
shyness was greatly increased by the presence of this young man with his
indescribable air of self-confidence; he was not at all like the two
simple hearty, countrified Webster boys. There was something about him
that marked him unmistakably as a product of city life, of ease, and
rather varied worldly experience, and for some reason this made her a
little bit afraid of him; or, perhaps afraid of herself. Usually the
least self-conscious person in the world, she now found herself filled
with misgivings about herself. She was afraid that there were numberless
shortcomings about her of which she was unaware, but which he would not
fail to notice; and this thought stung her pride. Furthermore, she was a
trifle piqued at his attentiveness to Amelia, though not for worlds
would she have admitted that any such silly vanity existed in her. Added
to all this, was the sting that Amelia had left in her sensitive mind.
Perhaps he had thought it undignified of her to have chatted with him so
informally that day in the field—and then he had seen her peeping at him
from the window.

All these doubts excited in her a desire to snub him a little. He was
_not_ to think her just a “silly village girl.” Perhaps her gay, dashing
costume made her feel unlike herself, and gave her some of the
self-confidence that she lacked by nature. Indeed, the pretty senorita
was altogether quite a different person, from the simple, artless girl
that Timothy Sheridan remembered so vividly. He was himself a thoroughly
simple young man, and he was puzzled by the change in her.

Fluttering her fan nervously, she chatted with him, asked him questions,
laughed,—all with a little air of frivolity, and carelessness. She felt
a sort of resentment toward him, and this lead her once or twice to make
a remark designed “to take him down off the high horse” that she
imagined (on no grounds whatever) that he had mounted. His expression of
bewilderment and polite surprise gave her a satisfaction that was not
unmixed with regret and displeasure at herself. At length, when the
music started up again, he asked her to dance. By this time, his manner
had grown a little cold and formal, and Lily was piqued. So, with a
little shake of her head, she told him that she had promised this one to
Mr. Webster. There was something in her slight hesitation before she
answered that made him feel that this was not quite true; and, hurt and
puzzled, he bowed, expressed his regret, and the hope that he might have
the pleasure later, and withdrew. On the whole, Jane’s diplomacy had
been anything but successful.

Mr. Sheridan slipped out to smoke a cigar in the fresh, cold air, and to
meditate on the irritating vagaries of the feminine gender. Lily’s
reception had hurt him more than he liked to admit even to himself.

“What was the matter with her? She wasn’t a bit like that before—she
seemed so gentle and unspoiled and kind. Hang it, there’s no way of
understanding what a girl really is like, anyhow. I’ve just been an

After a moment or two, he told himself fiercely,

“Well, if she doesn’t want to dance with me, I certainly shan’t bother

A little later, he threw away his cigar, and went in again. But he did
not dance. He sat and talked pleasantly to Mrs. Webster for twenty
minutes or so, and then joined his host by the fire, with whom he
discussed agriculture and politics for the rest of the evening.

In the meantime, Paul, deserted by Jane, had managed to extricate
himself from the toils of the fair Amelia, and possessed by a deep sense
of injury, had climbed up again to the hayloft, with the double purpose
of expressing his indignant feelings to Jane, and getting well out of
the reach of his recent partner.

“Well, I must say—if that’s the way you keep a bargain—” he began. Jane
looked around at him with an abstracted expression, and then unable to
control herself at the sight of his aggrieved face, burst into the most
unsympathetic laughter.

“Oh, you poor creature! I _am_ sorry! I forgot all about you!”

“Do you think you’re giving me fresh information?” inquired Paul, in
tones of bitterest sarcasm.

“How _did_ you get away?”

“Much you care!”

“There, don’t be angry. Tell me how you _did_ get away?”

“If you must know—I just bolted.”


“Couldn’t help it. Just had to. Sorry if it was uncouth and all that—but
there are limits to human endurance!”

“Now who’s hard on Amelia?”

Paul grinned unwillingly.

“I guess you were about right. The whole time I was with her, she was
picking on things about people—all the other girls who were the least
bit pretty. Not plain, straight-forward out-and-out wallops, mind you,
but all sorts of sweet and sly—”

“Oh, I know her way. And did you just up and leave her?”

“No. We pranced around a while, and then she sat down, and made me fan
her. And then we pranced around some more—until I thought I was going to
die, and she kept talking—first about what she thought about girls
nowadays, and then about poetry—you can imagine about how much I had to
say to that sort of stuff. And then we pranced around some more, and by
that time I’d concluded that I had only myself to rely on”—this with
renewed bitterness, “so I told the woman that I had a—a weak heart, and
guessed I’d better get a little air—”

“Paul, you didn’t!” cried Jane, horrified.

“Yes, I did,” said Paul, grimly. “I’d gotten to the point where I’d have
flopped down, and played dead if necessary. She seemed to swallow the
story, bait, line and hook, and was quite sympathetic—and here I am, and
the next time you try to get me into a fix like that—”

“I say,” interrupted Jane, “Mr. Sheridan hasn’t danced with Lily at all!
He’s gone and plopped himself down with all those old fogies around the

At this Paul took his turn to chuckle.

“Serves you right! _Now_ will you keep your fingers out of other
people’s pies? I told you you were too young to be meddling with such
things. But I guess you’re just like all women—jump at conclusions, and
then start trying to run things—”

“You think you’re awfully clever, don’t you?” retorted Jane acidly.

“Not clever—just humanly intelligent. Intuition may be all right for
women, but plain horse-sense is good enough for me.”

“What’s intuition?” demanded Jane.

“The thing that makes girls think they know more than men do,” replied
Paul, scornfully. “Your friend Amelia says she’s got a lot of it. Ask
her what it is.” Then he turned to her with an exasperating grin; he was
getting immeasurable satisfaction out of her discomfiture. “Practice
what you preach, old lady. I guess it’s about time that _you_ left a
thing or two to Providence.”

Jane felt that it was time to change the subject.

“People are queer,” she remarked.

“I’ve heard that before,” said Paul, rubbing his nose, “I’ve observed
it, and I know it.”

“I think you’re sort of detestable to-night.”

“It’s your fault, then. I think you’ve ruined my disposition for life.
The next thing you’ll be trying to make me be sweet to that fat old
dowager with the moustaches!”

“_Hush_, Paul! That’s Mrs. Deacon.”

“Nobody could hear me in all this noise. She seems in an awful stew
about something, doesn’t she?”

Jane did not answer. Paul stared at her.

“What’s the matter with you? You look as if you were going to have a
fit.” Still Jane did not answer. There was indeed a frozen look on her

“Well,” said Paul, eyeing her, “what have you been up to now?”

“N-nothing,” said Jane.

“That won’t go with me, old salt. What have you done to that poor,
defenseless old widow?”

“I—I’m afraid I’ve made rather a mess,” Jane confessed, faintly.

“Oh, I’m quite sure of that. And you won’t catch me coming to the rescue
again. Here I am and here I stay until I go home under Uncle Peter’s
sheltering wing. Well, what have you done?”

“I—I didn’t mean—”

“Of course not. Your kind never do. They’ll have a revolution in this
town, if they keep you here until you’ve grown up—which I doubt very
much.” Then, seeing that she was really distressed, he patted her hand,
and said, consolingly, “There, tell your Aunt Rebecca what you’ve
done—I’ll help you out, if I must.”

“No one can help me,” said Jane, darkly.

“Is it murder this time? Well, tell me anyhow. I’m always prepared for
the worst with you.”

“Don’t tease, Paul. I sent her sleigh away,” said Jane, with the calm of
deep trouble.


“I said—I sent Mrs. Deacon’s sleigh away.”

There was a pause, during which Paul made every effort to guess what
earthly designs Jane had had in perpetrating such a peculiar deed. Then
he gave up.

“You have something against Mrs. Deacon?” he suggested, delicately. “You
don’t like her moustaches, perhaps? Or perhaps you think that a five
mile walk would be good for her health?”

Jane was not listening.

“I—you see, I thought it would be nice if Mr. Sheridan took Lily home.
And a little while ago I was talking to Mr. Buchanan who brought the
Deacons here. He was sitting outside, and he seemed awfully tired and
sleepy, and kept saying that late hours were bad for young and old; and
then I said that—that the Deacons weren’t going back with him. And he
didn’t wait a minute. He just got into his sleigh, and went off like
Santa Claus. And now, it looks as if Mr. Sheridan and Lily were mad at
each other—and if Mrs. Deacon finds out that I told Mr. Buchanan to go—I
don’t know _what_ to do!”

“Well!” said Paul, “I suppose you’re about the _coolest_—rascal I ever
met in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of anyone like you.”

“What shall I do?”

“Do? Why, to be perfectly consistent with your kind, after having gotten
everything into a sweet kettle-of-fish, just wash your hands of it.
Leave it to Providence—and hike for the tall timber.” Then he began to
chuckle, hugging himself, and shaking up and down, in a rapture of

“Oh, don’t bother about it. They’ll get home all right—”

“I’m not bothering about that. I’m thinking about what’ll happen if Mrs.
Deacon finds out that I sent Mr. Buchanan away.”

“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. She hasn’t found out yet.”

“I wonder why Mr. Sheridan and Lily are mad at each other.” Then she
jumped up.

“What are you going to do now?” demanded Paul.

“I’m going down.”

“Take my advice and stay where you are.” But Jane was already on her way
down the ladder.

The party was beginning to break up. The wild tooting of horns, the
shrill notes of whistles, and showers of confetti announced the New
Year. Jane made her way through the tangles of colored streamers, and
the knots of merry-makers toward the huge chimney-place where a group of
older people were standing, watching the picturesque scene.

“Ah-ha, here’s my girl again!” cried Mr. Webster. “Come here and watch
the fun with your old god-father.”

With his big hands on her shoulders, Jane leant against him, and looked
on as placidly as if there were not a care in the world troubling her
peace of mind. When the noise had subsided a little, she looked round
and up at Mr. Webster’s face, and raising her voice a little so that it
was impossible for Mr. Sheridan not to hear what she said, remarked,

“Mr. Buchanan has gone home, and left the Deacons here.”

“What? What is that?” said Mr. Webster hastily. Jane repeated her
remark, glancing furtively at Mr. Sheridan, whose face had suddenly
grown rather red. But he stared straight ahead and pretended not to have
heard her.

“Ah, well, Sam can hitch up our sleigh in a moment,” said Mr. Webster.
“I daresay he’ll be only too glad to take Lily home.” And he chuckled

For some reason, Mr. Sheridan was able to hear _this_ remark quite
distinctly. He looked around, and after a momentary hesitation said,

“There is no reason for that. Mrs. Deacon and her daughter are near
neighbors of mine, and I—I’d be delighted to take them home.” And
without giving his host a chance to argue the point, strode off hastily
in the direction of the majestic dowager.

By this time the old lady, undergoing the process of being wrapped up in
a dense cocoon of furs and mantles, while the two Webster boys clamored
for the pleasure of putting on her carriage boots, was quite besieged by
young men begging to be allowed to drive her home. Lily stood behind her
chair, smiling, but a little tired-looking.

Mr. Sheridan worked his way deftly and determinedly through the group.

“Will you let me drive you home, Mrs. Deacon?” He did not look at Lily,
and Lily dropped her eyes.

“I am taking Miss—Mrs. Deacon home,” said Sam Webster firmly,
unconsciously grasping that dignified lady’s plump foot more tightly, as
if he intended to hold her by it, should she attempt to evade him.

Now Mr. Sheridan _did_ look, at Lily. Would she or would she not prefer
to go with him?

“Why, if Mr. Sheridan has—has room for us, we needn’t trouble Sam,
mamma,” said Lily, demurely. “That is—”

“It’s no trouble,” interrupted Sam,—which was quite true—“and I’ve got
the sleigh already hitched up”—which was not true. He sent an almost
belligerent glance at Mr. Sheridan, who ignored it.

Mr. Sheridan felt extraordinarily jubilant. Nothing should prevent his
taking Lily home—not if he had to slaughter this mob of impertinent
young men in cold blood.

Then Mrs. Deacon, extricating her foot from Sam’s convulsive grip, rose
up. There was a warm light in her eye, the peculiar, benevolent beam
which enlivens the glance of the far-sighted mamma as it rests upon an
eligible young man.

“Mr. Sheridan, I thank you. I accept your pusillanimous offer,” she
said, in the full, bell-like tone of a public official. “Samuel, we
shall not emburden you.”

In vain did Sam assure her that he would be only too happy, that there
was nothing he would like to do more; meanwhile sending at Lily
reproachful looks fit to melt a heart of stone. Lily simply did not see
them. In cool triumph, Mr. Sheridan escorted the two ladies to his

An hour later,—it was after one o’clock—he entered his library, where
Peterson had kept the fire burning, threw off his coat, and sat down to
try to work out the puzzle of Lily’s conduct. On the way home, they had
exchanged hardly six words. But if Lily had been silent, the same could
not be said for her mamma. Even now he seemed to hear the incessant,
rich tones of Mrs. Deacon’s voice ringing in his ear, as they say the
booming of the sea echoes in certain shells. He could not remember
whether he had ever answered her or not. But Lily? It seemed evident to
him that she had not wanted to talk with him or to dance with him during
the party. It seemed equally evident that she _had_ wanted to drive home
in his sleigh. Now what was the meaning of behavior like that?

By two o’clock he had come to the conclusion that she was a coquette,
that he was a donkey, and that the best thing he could do was to tell
Peterson to pack up and be ready to pull up their stakes the day after
to-morrow. He had been acting like an awful fool anyway. He was
twenty-five years old; too old to be acting like a schoolboy. How in the
world had Mary Abbott been able to—

By three o’clock he had come to another conclusion. He wasn’t going to
go away at all. He’d be hanged if he’d be chased around the earth by
_women_. He was going to stay where he was. He was going to go in for
farming. He liked the quaint old town, he liked the solid, intelligent,
industrious, practical people. He liked Mr. Webster for instance, and
Mrs. Webster, and Dolly, and old Mr. Pyncheon, and he quite loved that
little Janey Lambert, and he liked—well, already the list had grown to a
fairly respectable length for a confirmed misanthrope.

At half past six, Peterson coming into the library to see that
everything was in order, discovered his master sleeping placidly in the
huge armchair, surrounded by, almost buried under books, pamphlets and
almanacs which had never been taken down from their shelves since the
late Major had been a young and hopeful devotee of farming. He picked
one up, and holding it at arm’s length read the title, “Fertilizers and
Fertilization.” The old man drew a deep, long-suffering sigh.

“Lord, it was bad enough before,” he thought despondently, looking down
at Mr. Tim, and shaking his head slowly. “It can’t be that he’s goin’ in
to be a useful citizen. Whatever would the Major say to that?”

Then he suddenly remembered the old Major’s invariable reply to such
propositions. Quite undisturbed, and in the most astounding French, he
used to say, “Searchez le Femme.”


Paul, in his heavy canvas apron, his sleeves rolled up, flour in his
hair, on his eyelashes, and on the end of his nose, sat on a
three-legged stool in front of the door of the big oven. There was an
expression of such dogged concentration on his face, such fierce
intensity in the grim frown between his eyebrows, that one might have
thought he was expecting to draw forth a new universe, remodelled nearer
to his heart’s desire, from the roasting bakeoven. The event he was
anticipating was indeed of great moment not only to him but to at least
four other members of the household who had gathered in the kitchen—Aunt
Gertrude, Jane, Elise, and ruddy little Anna, the bouncing little
assistant cook and shop-keeper, who never could watch Paul’s culinary
struggles without going into a fit of giggling.

“It’s been in twenty minutes,” announced Jane, glancing at the clock.
Paul raised his head and glowered at her.

“Can you or can you not hold your tongue?”

“I can not,” answered Jane, frankly.

“Who’s making this cake?”

“Come, Janey, leave Paul alone and don’t bother him,” said Elise. “Come
over here and let me try this sleeve to see if it fits.” Elise was
engaged in making over one of her mother’s gowns into a school-dress for
Jane. Jane obediently stood through the process of a fitting, but
craning around to keep her eye on Paul.

Suddenly, taking hold of the hot handle of the oven-door with his apron,
he flung it open; and reaching in, pulled forth the huge cake pan.

“There! Now, Aunt Gertrude, come and look at this fellow! How’s _that_
for a blooming success?” His face simply beamed with pride as a chorus
of “Oh’s” and “Ah’s” greeted his first real triumph. Five big disks of
cake, delicately, perfectly browned, light as a feather, he turned out
onto the wooden board.

“Beautiful!” cried Aunt Gertrude. “I’ve never made a better one myself,
have I Elise? No, not even your grandfather could make that cake more

Paul swelled out his broad chest.

“Now I am a Baker!” he announced. “_I’m_ the boss around here, and I
think I’ll begin by firing—Jane!”

Jane, delighted and quite as triumphant as he, made a spring for him,
and flinging both arms around his waist hugged him ecstatically,

“I knew you could do it! _I_ said you could!”

Paul tweaked her nose.

“I suppose you’ll be saying _you_ made that cake, next. You couldn’t
learn to bake an article like that in a life time. Unhand me, woman,
I’ve got to fix the frosting.”

His satisfaction sprang from a deeper source than that of the mere
success. Some people might think it quite a trivial matter to make a
good cake, but Paul, during weeks of abject failure, had come to
consider that it required superhuman powers. It must be remembered of
course, that Winkler’s cakes were not like any others, and that into the
mixing and baking of those delectable goodies there had to go a skill
and care that not many people could give. Repeated failure had made Paul
moody; he had even begun to think that his lack of success was
attributable to some deep-rooted weakness in himself. He had, in fact,
begun to give it quite an important significance; and, in his
earnestness, had even gone to the length of making a curious pact with
himself. He had determined not to touch a pencil, not even to open the
precious box of paints that Jane had given him, until he had learned to
make cakes and bread that should be an honor to the venerable traditions
of his family. Moreover, considerable reflection had convinced him that
Jane had been right in advising him to try to win his uncle’s good will;
and he had not liked to have Mr. Lambert believe that he was
deliberately trying _not_ to make good.

Jane understood very well the real cause of his satisfaction; and she
was as pleased as if he had accomplished a Herculean task.

That night Mr. Lambert expressed his satisfaction in Paul’s final
success. He was a very just man, and he did not fail to commend his
nephew for his patience.

“I am glad to see, my boy, that you have taken a reasonable view of your
situation; and have so fully realized your peculiar responsibilities.”

Thereafter he began to treat Paul with a marked difference of manner; he
consulted him quite as often as he consulted Carl, discussed domestic
and public business with him, entrusted important errands to him, and,
in a word, no longer treated him as if he were an eccentric and willful

Within the three months that had passed since Paul had come to live with
his relatives his position had changed astonishingly. At the beginning
of February he found himself looked up to by the “women-folk” as if he
were a prime minister. He suggested, and was allowed to carry into
effect several important changes in the simple business system of the
Bakery; and customers with special requests were now referred to the big
boy, who handled their concerns and their temperaments with perfect tact
and good sense.

But if Paul seemed at last to have given in to his uncle’s wishes, he
was in truth no more reconciled to the lot which destiny had flung in
his way than before. He simply kept his own counsel.

On the other hand two things had contributed to teach patience to the
impetuous boy, who never in his life before had known anything like
restraint. At first he had consoled himself for his repeated defeats in
the simple matter of cake-baking by the thought that he was designed for
more impressive things. But the impressive things were not ready to be
done yet, and he was being measured by his failure in that which _was_
at hand. And so it came about that he put all his will to the simple,
woman’s task, until he had mastered it. In the process, he had come,
also, to take a more personal interest in the family affairs; and no
longer to think of himself as an outsider, to whom the interests of his
kindly relatives were matters of total indifference. He was proud, too,
to bear the name of one of the first inhabitants of Frederickstown. It
made him feel that he had some share in the little community; he was no
longer a boy “without a country,” as he had told his farmer
acquaintance. He knew everyone; and he was more or less interested in
their various affairs. Once, after he had been listening to some of the
older men discussing, in his uncle’s warehouse, a question which had
arisen concerning the matter of running the state highway through the
town, or turning it off from one of the outlying roads, he had said
laughingly to Jane that he was getting a mild attack of “civic
interest”; and then after a moment’s thought, he had added more
seriously, “But it’s true. I’ve gotten pretty fond of this place. I
almost feel as if I belong to it, and it belongs to me. I’d like to make
it proud of me some day. It’s all very nice and fine to say that you’re
an independent citizen, and don’t hail from anywhere in particular, but
you _do_ feel lonely and left-out, and there are lots of things you
never can understand. Lots of things,” he repeated, with more emphasis.
“I’ve seen dozens of fellows knocking around the world, coming from
nowhere in particular, and going nowhere in particular. Some of ’em were
pretty clever, I guess—I’d hear ’em talking, sometimes on board ship,
sometimes around the tables in the taverns. I used to listen to
them—they talked as if they knew a lot, and were usually worked up over
something,—Americans, and Italians and down-and-out Englishmen. Lord,
how they used to shout and argue and pound their fists. But, now that I
think of it, all they said was nothing much but a lot of noise. They
were like sea-weed floating around without its roots sticking anywhere.
They sounded awfully fiery and patriotic, but I don’t think they
honestly cared much about any place under the sun, or about any _thing_.
And that’s a bad way to be. It would be better, I think, to spend all
your days in one place and to love that place, even if you got kind of
narrowed down—than to belong nowhere.” These grave views surprised Jane,
and perhaps she did not wholly understand Paul’s meaning. He was older
than she, and was beginning to think like a man, and sometimes she could
not quite follow his thoughts. But she hoped that he meant that he would
find it possible to work out his own ambitions without going away.
Sometimes she wondered—he spoke so little now about his plans—whether he
had given them up altogether; and this she did not like to believe. But
Jane, inquisitive as she was, could hold her peace very patiently when
she felt that it was better so.

In the second place, Paul had become very conscious of his almost total
lack of education. He could read, and write, and figure well enough to
cast up the accounts with accuracy; but beyond these elements he knew
nothing save what he had gleaned from his rough contact with the world.
His ignorance of many things which even the twins had learned, sometimes
startled even Jane; and Carl had never left off making sly fun of him
for counting on his fingers like a kindergarten child when he had to
calculate a simple problem in multiplication.

At first he had pretended to scorn his cousin’s book-learning, but
little by little he found himself envying Carl’s extensive knowledge,
which that youth was rather overfond of airing. Every generation of
Winklers had seen to it that the young ones acquired a sound, simple,
thorough education; and among them poor Uncle Franz had stood out as the

There was something quite pathetic in the sight of the big boy sitting
on those winter evenings, listening to the twins lisp out their next
day’s lessons to Elise, and storing away as well as he could the simple
things he heard; and many times, he sat up until after midnight, over
the ashes of the fire, poring over an old “Elementary History of the
United States,” humbly beginning where Janey had long since finished;
and stumbling over words that even Lottie could spell easily.

In the midst of these occupation, Paul spent little time in dwelling
upon plans for departure. He seemed content to bide his time, if
necessary, for an indefinite period; and had settled into a state of
peace and amity toward all the world, with one and only one exception.

That exception was Carl. Just where the rub came between the two boys it
would be hard to say; but hard as he tried to hold his temper in check,
Paul found it impossible either to hit it off with Carl, or to discover
the root of his cousin’s grudge against him; and it often seemed to him
that Carl deliberately tried to rouse the old Adam in him. Every day
Carl’s disposition became more acid, and as the spring progressed he
became positively intolerable. Paul had put up with his ill-humors as
well as he could, partly because, during the latter part of the winter,
Carl, who was the least sturdy of his cousins had not been very well. He
suffered frequently from severe headaches, and his constant studying,
which he doubled as the spring examinations approached, certainly did
not improve either his health or his disposition. Aunt Gertrude was
worried about him, and tried to coax him to spend more of his time out
of doors, for by the end of March the snow had melted away from the
hills, the sun was growing warmer, and the trees already turning green
with buds opening in the genial warmth of an early southern spring. He
resisted these gentle efforts, however, and even when the long Easter
holiday came, settled down to a process of cramming, utterly indifferent
to the delicious weather. Even his father had one or two slight
difficulties with him, so uncertain was his temper, and the other
members of his family treated him with kid gloves, but with Paul he
squabbled almost continually. Now Paul had mislaid some of his papers;
now he had left the stopper off the inkwell, now he had put his shoes
where he couldn’t find them. More than once it occurred to Paul that
Carl was actually trying to goad him into leaving. “But what on earth
have I ever done to the idiot?” he wondered. That Carl was jealous of
him never dawned on his mind; and yet it was the case. Carl was jealous
of the position his cousin had taken in the household; he was jealous of
his physical strength; he was even jealous of the self-control with
which Paul curbed his anything but mild temper, under his continual

One day, flying into a rage over some trivial matter, Carl informed him
that the trouble with him was “his confounded swell-head.” By this time,
Paul had reached the end of his tether; he retaliated, with a sudden
thrust that went home to Carl’s most vulnerable spot.

“What’s the matter with you, anyway?” he demanded whirling upon his
cousin. There was a black frown on his face; and suddenly losing his
temper altogether, he seized Carl’s shoulder fiercely. “I’m sick of your
eternal whining, and snarling. You snap at me at every chance you
get,—but nothing on earth would make you fight like a—a man! Would it?

Carl wrenched himself out of his grip, and backed toward the door,
trembling with fury.

“You’ve a swell-head,” he repeated, stubbornly, his eyes flashing, “and
you’re a—don’t you dare to touch me! I hate you! You’re a bully—that’s
what you are!”

“A bully! It’s you that’s the bully. You know darn well that _you’re_
safe in nagging the life out of me—you’re pretty sure that I wouldn’t
hurt a little fellow like you. You’re a little coward, Carl Lambert, but
I tell you now that if you don’t stop your eternal whining, I’ll—I’ll—”

“You’ll what?” sneered Carl.

“I’ll thrash you until you can’t stand up. Do you understand me?” And
once more Paul’s big hand clamped down on his shoulder. Carl’s face went
white, and a look of such utter terror superseded the one of rage, that
Paul was astonished.

“What on earth is the matter with you?” he repeated, in a milder tone.
“Will you tell me what I’ve ever done to you?”

“I hate you! I’ve hated you ever since you came here! Thrash me if you
want to! Nothing will ever make me hate you any worse than I do now!”

Paul frowning more in bewilderment than anger stared into his cousin’s
pale, distorted face. Then suddenly he asked,

“If you hate me so much, why didn’t _you_ tell Uncle Peter about my
playing billiards—for money—with Jeff Roberts?”

Carl did not answer.

“I can’t make you out,” went on Paul, as if he were talking to himself.
“You bother the life out of me, you squabble and row from morning to
night, and you never say _what_ you’re down on me for. I honestly
believe that until recently you had a lot to do with Uncle Peter’s bad
opinion of me, and yet—somehow, I _don’t_ believe you hate me as much as
you think you do. If _you_ had told Uncle Peter about that business with
Jeff Roberts he would certainly—not certainly, perhaps, but very
likely—have sent me packing, and you would have been rid of me, and yet
you didn’t do it. And it wasn’t as if you weren’t a tell-tale, because
you are. And what under the sun makes you say I’ve got a swell-head?”

“It’s the truth,” repeated Carl, doggedly, and not another word would he
say. There was nothing to do but to leave him alone; but the strain of
putting up with his sullen silence—which he maintained for a full
week—wore on Paul’s patience, until more than once he was on the point
of declaring his definite intention to put up with it no longer. It was
at the end of that week—the last in a warm, summery April—that matters
changed suddenly, bringing the first trouble that Paul had yet had to
share with his kinsfolk.

One warm Saturday afternoon, when it was May in everything but name,
Jane revelling in the last days of the spring vacation proposed a long
walk into the country. The twins, Paul, and Elise approved heartily.

“And try to coax Carl out, too, Lisa,” said Aunt Gertrude, who wanted to
stay at home to do some mending while she took charge of the shop. “He
doesn’t take any exercise at all these days.”

At first Carl growled, and said he wished they’d leave him alone, but
just as Elise had given up trying to persuade him, he suddenly changed
his mind; though still grumbling as if they were making him do something
against his will, joined the jolly little party. But it cannot be said
that he was a particularly lively member of it. He looked pale and
sulky, walked by himself, and with a moody expression kept his eyes on
Jane and Paul as if their high spirits, their perfect camaraderie
angered him. And in fact, not the least of his grievances against Paul
was Jane’s affection for him; for cold and selfish as Carl might be, he
loved Jane in his own way, and in addition, he hated not to be the chief
object of interest. Besides, he was feeling half ill again.

“Shall we ask Lily to come with us?” suggested Elise, as they reached
the top of Sheridan Lane.

“Let’s ask everyone we meet,” said Jane, “everybody! Nobody ought to
stay cooped up indoors to-day. Poor Lily—she’s practising again.”

And in fact Lily’s voice, a little listless and monotonous to-day came
sweetly through the quiet air; there did not seem to be much joy in
Schubert’s beautiful little spring song as she sang it—“And winking
Mary-buds begin, to ope their golden eyes—” she broke off in the middle
of the second part.


A moment later she appeared at the window.

“Come along! You’ve got to come along with us!”

“Where are you going?”


“But it isn’t May,” said Lily trying to sound merry. Nevertheless, in
another minute she was with them, swinging her straw hat on her arm. On
down the lane they went, under the light shade of the budding trees,
past the old iron fountain.

“Whoa. Where are you off to?” shouted the voice of some invisible being;
there was a scrambling, scraping sound in the branches of a tree that,
growing inside of the wall around the Sheridan place, extended its
patriarchal boughs across the road; and presently the lord of the manor,
hot, and red, with a three foot saw in his hand swung gracefully into

“Are you going to have a party without _me_?” he asked in an injured
tone. “Can’t I come, too?”

“There!” said Jane in a low tone, giving Paul a surreptitious pinch,
“what did I tell you?”

“Are you going to begin meddling with that again?” demanded Paul, also
in a low tone, remembering bitterly the unhappy part he had been called
upon to play at the Webster’s party. “Because if so, I’m going home.”

“I’ll meddle if I think it’s necessary,” returned Jane, calmly, “but I
don’t believe it will be.”

And, indeed, from the first it seemed quite plain that her valuable
services were not required. With the air of one who feels that her small
tasks have been well done, she watched Lily and Mr. Sheridan who
wandered on ahead, leading the way across the old wooden bridge, and up
the hill.

Jane said frankly to Paul that she would “sort of like to hear what they
were talking about,” but Paul was pained, and undertook to lecture her
on the spot for her deplorable habits.

On each side of the road lay the broad fields, where, in the furrows of
dark earth, freshly ploughed, young corn was already thrusting upwards
its vivid green blades.

“How do you like my scare-crow?” Mr. Sheridan called back, waving gaily
toward the grotesque figure which bore an absurd resemblance to
Peterson. “I made Peterson dress him up in his winter suit. Isn’t he a
fine, impressive fellow, though. How do you think he’d strike you if you
were a crow?” Then without waiting for an answer, he went on talking to
Lily, describing all his late activities in the line of agriculture, his
plans for new buildings on his land, and airing, boyishly all his newly
acquired—and perhaps not entirely assimilated—knowledge of farming. Jane
might have found this talk distinctly disappointing, but to Lily
everything that he said seemed remarkable.

“And then, perhaps, you are going to live here—a good deal of the time?”
she asked timidly. “I very glad that you have found so much to interest

Mr. Sheridan turned to help her over a stile. For some reason, her
words, so simply said, and without the slightest tinge of coquetry,
seemed to disconcert him.

“I—yes. I—have grown very much attached to Frederickstown—and farming is
interesting because—because—” But for the life of him he could not think
of any reason _why_.

The little party trailed across the field, all walking together now,
laughing and talking. Only Carl hung behind. To begin with, he was not
yet on speaking terms with Paul, and he was piqued at Jane, and the
sunlight made his over-strained eyes ache, and he was thoroughly tired
out already. Lily was walking arm in arm with Elise, and both were
talking to Mr. Sheridan, the twins were running ahead, trying to catch
the yellow butterflies that they frightened away from the early
field-flowers; and Paul and Jane strolled along side by side sometimes
joining in the talk of the others, sometimes discussing their own
affairs. But at last Jane turned around, and noticing for the first time
how Carl was lagging, called to him.

“Why don’t you come and walk with us, Carl?”

“I’m all right as I am, amn’t I?” he returned. Jane shrugged her

“What’s the matter with him?” she asked Paul. “Have you had another

“Not since Monday,—haven’t had a chance. He won’t speak to me. I don’t
know what’s the matter with him,” Paul shook his head. “I _have_ tried
to get along with him, but I can’t seem to work it. He says he hates me,
and that he’s always hated me—and maybe its true, though I don’t see
why. I mean that I’ve never given him any cause that I know of. I’ve
been thinking about it a lot lately. I seem to make him downright
unhappy—he acts as if I had slipped into his shoes, and I’ve never taken
anything he wanted, have I?” and after a short pause, he added, “And I’m
sure that I don’t want anything he has. It seems to get worse with him
all the time. Perhaps, Janey, his feelings may be hurt because you and I
get along so well. Maybe I’d feel the same way if I were your brother,
and he were a ‘swell-head’ cousin from nowhere. After a bit, why don’t
you drop back with him?”

“Why should he hate you?” wondered Jane. “I could understand if you were


“If you were like what you _seemed_ to be like the first night you were
here,” she said frankly. “I didn’t like you then either. I didn’t like
you for quite a long time. I didn’t like you until you said that you
were going away.”

“Maybe Carl would like me better if I told him that,” said Paul,
laughing, but with a rather sad expression in his eyes. “And I’ve been
thinking lately—”

“What?” asked Jane, quickly, looking up into his face.

“I’ve been thinking that I—perhaps I ought to, Janey.”

“No, no, no, _no_! Not yet, Paul! You said, just the other day—and what
a silly little thing to make so much of. Lots of _brothers_ squabble and
call each other names—”

“But it doesn’t make a particularly happy household, does it? I don’t
want to go, Janey—not yet. J don’t want to go until—it’s a hard thing to
explain exactly, but this is the way it is. When I first came, I was
thinking only of one thing—father was gone, and I didn’t care for anyone
in the world, and I didn’t want to. I wanted to work by myself and for
myself, in the way that seemed most to my liking—and when I found that
Uncle had other plans for me, and intended to force me into them, it
made me furious—and what was worse was the thought that I had to do
either as Uncle wanted or—well, _starve_, if I was out of luck. And I
was afraid of starving, being an ordinary human being. I started to run
away the first night I was here—Carl knows that—and I didn’t because I
was afraid to. He knows that, too. And so I stayed on, planning to make
a break as soon as I could. And I hated everything—I was perfectly
miserable—until that night, do you remember, when we had that talk by
the fire. After that, I began to look at things differently. It seemed
to me that I’d been acting like a donkey, and so I decided to do as you
said—make the best of things as I found them, and see what would happen.
And now—I don’t know how it is—but you’ve all been so good to me, and it
makes a difference not to be all alone. Now, when I think of the fine
things I may do some day, I think of how you all may be proud of me, and
how—perhaps—maybe Frederickstown would be proud of—all that seems silly,
doesn’t it—but anyway that’s the reason why I’d hate to go away now—why
I’d hate to go away with any hard feeling behind me. That is, unless it
simply _had_ to be. Men _have_ lived alone, and worked and done great
things with no one to care whether they lived or died—and I could do it,
too. But, over and above cake-baking—” he laughed, as if a little
ashamed of his own seriousness, “I’ve learned that—I’ve learned that it
is a better thing not to be all alone.”

Jane made no reply, and presently Paul went on,

“I daresay I made myself pretty disagreeable at first, and I don’t
wonder that Carl hated me then—but I _have_ tried to be decent to him,
and to make him like me. If he doesn’t, it certainly isn’t his fault—it
can’t be helped. Only, I haven’t any right—I mean, if he’s going to be
miserable while I’m around, if I get on his nerves every minute—it isn’t
as if we were little kids, we’ll soon be men, and two men quarrelling
with each other in one family can make an awful mess of things. You were
all happy together before I came.” As he said this he looked down
gravely into the round, sober little face beside him. “Don’t you see,

Janey did not answer; but a little later as they all turned into the
cool shade of the woods, she dropped back until she was walking near
Carl. She had too much instinctive wisdom to seem to do so deliberately,
and she did not talk to him until the twins started to hunt for violets
and jacks-in-the-pulpit, when she began to remind him of the places they
had explored the summer before, and the grotto they had found the summer
before that until he began to feel as if he were receiving the attention
which was his brotherly due.

The beautiful afternoon wore on happily. For a long time they all sat
talking and laughing under the trees, sorting the white and purple
violets that they had picked. Once or twice Tim Sheridan thought of what
Phil Blackstone and Johnny Everett and Mary and all the rest of them
would say to his bucolic pleasures, and grinned at the thought of the
expressions they would wear; and he wondered himself at his own
enjoyment in the company of these simple young people—but he was having
a better time than he had ever had in his life, and even Peterson was
beginning to show some interest in his eccentric master’s latest

And for a time, Carl, too, joined in the chatter, as poor little Janey,
inwardly saddened by what Paul had told her so simply, tried to coax him
out of his sullen humor.

When, at length they all started homeward, he even linked his arm
through hers. Now, she thought, was the time to ask him what was the
root of his ill-feeling against Paul, now was the time to tell him what
Paul had said—she hated so for people to be unhappy for no reason, or
for silly reasons.

“Carl, listen,” she began, “I want to—” but he suddenly interrupted her.

“Look here, Jane—I don’t know what’s the matter with me. But I—I feel
like the dickens.”

She did not quite understand him.

“What about?” she asked.

“What about? About nothing—my head aches like all get-out, and every now
and then everything gets to jiggling in front of my eyes.” She looked at
him in alarm, and saw that his face was terribly pale.

“Carl! You mean you’re ill? Let me—oh, what’s the matter?”

“For heaven’s sake, don’t kick up a fuss now. No, don’t tell Elise,” he
said, impatiently. “I’ll get home all right. And don’t scare mother to
death when we get there. I guess it’s the sun or something. And—don’t
walk so fast.”

Jane, more frightened by the look of his face, than by his words,
obediently slackened her pace. The others were eight or ten yards ahead
of them.

“Hurry up, Janey—we’ll be late for supper,” called Elise, glancing back
at them. Jane looked pleadingly at Carl.

“I _have_ to tell Elise. Please, Carl, dear, don’t be foolish.”

“No, you must _not_. I tell you I won’t have them all fussing over me,
and talking, and asking questions!” he exclaimed, with a sudden flash of
temper. “Let ’em go ahead if they want to.”

They dropped farther and farther behind, until the others were already
crossing the bridge as they were just gaining the road. But Paul,
strolling along with his hands in his pockets whistling an accompaniment
to his own thoughts was midway between the two divisions of the party.

Suddenly Carl declared that he had to rest until his head stopped
throbbing a bit. Just then Paul happened to glance back.

“Hey! Are you going to spend the summer back there?” he shouted,
cheerfully, but the next moment he seemed to guess that something was
wrong, for after a little hesitation, he turned and started to walk
toward them.

“We’re coming,” said Jane, “only Carl has a little headache, and he
wanted to rest a minute.”

Paul looked critically at his cousin’s white face. He did not waste any
time in asking the well-meant questions that Carl found so
objectionable, but said simply,

“I guess you’d better let me help you, Carl.”

To Jane’s surprise there was no hostility in her brother’s eyes.

“I won’t have _them_ make a fuss over me, do you hear,” he said in a
dull voice. Paul glanced at Jane.

“You cut along with the others, Janey. There’s a short cut through this
field. Carl and I’ll go this way.”

“Good idea,” muttered Carl. “Guess we’ll—try that, Jane.” And with an
effort, he got to his feet.

“Take my arm,” said Paul.

Jane watched them as they started across the field, and then obediently
ran at full speed to catch up with the laughing, chattering group ahead.

As for the two sworn enemies, they made their way slowly along the
little, meandering footpath, that cut through the field, Carl leaning
more and more heavily on Paul’s sturdy arm, frankly, if silently
grateful for its solid support. They said nothing, and Paul, who
realized more than Jane had that Carl was seriously ill, wore a grave
expression. He was thinking, not of the many bitter words that Carl had
showered on him, but of the angry threat he himself had uttered, and the
memory of it made him wince.

“We’ve only a little way to go, now, cousin,” he said gently. “Would you
like me to give you a lift?”

Carl, quite exhausted by now only looked at his cousin incredulously.

“_You_ couldn’t carry me,” he said, thickly, and then drawing a long
breath, he added, “but I wish to goodness you could!”

Paul smiled.

“I guess you aren’t much heavier than a keg of olives,” and with that,
he lifted Carl quite easily in his arms, and set off at a quicker stride
across the field.

An hour later poor Carl was far past caring whether “they” made a fuss
over him or not. But indeed the worst part of it was that there was very
little fuss made at all. His room was so quiet that the chirping of the
birds in the budding trees outside his window, the sound of voices in
the street below could all be heard distinctly, and yet Aunt Gertrude
and Mr. Lambert sat beside his bed, and Janey was there, clinging to her
father’s hand, and Paul sat half hidden in the little window embrasure,
staring out soberly at the fading sky. The shock and suddenness of it
all had stunned the little family.

It was only Mr. Lambert’s face that Paul could see clearly in the dusk
of the room, and the transformation it had undergone since the old man
realized the danger of his only son, left an indelible memory on the
boy’s mind. All its pompousness had fled—it looked old and helpless and
humble. And apart as he was, Paul, looking upon their fear and sorrow,
felt that he was being welded to his own people. All his own desires
seemed at that moment, small and selfish, and with a thrill of pity, he
vowed silently that if the need came, he was ready to lay aside his own
hopes forever, without regret, and be their son.


It was not until the nineteenth of May that the burly, grey-haired
little doctor could say definitely that Carl would get well. And even
then he could not entirely dissolve the cloud that hung over the family.
Carl’s eyes which had always been weak and near-sighted had been gravely
injured by incessant overstraining, and the doctor said frankly enough
that unless he took the greatest care of them there was a strong
possibility of his losing his sight.

“No books, Mrs. Lambert. Nothing but rest,” he said, firmly. “Later, he
must be out of doors. Plenty of exercise, plenty of sleep, and no study
for at least a year.”

This program, so entirely opposed to all Carl’s tastes was not imparted
to him until he was well on the road to recovery. He listened to it
stoically, propped up among Aunt Gertrude’s downiest feather pillows, in
the dark bedroom, a green shade almost bandaging his eyes, and hiding
half of his thin white face.

“Does the old boy think there’s a likelihood of my being blind anyway?”
he inquired, using the blunt word without a tremor. No one answered him.
His face turned a shade paler as he turned helplessly from one side to
the other trying to guess where his mother and father were standing. Mr.
Lambert attempted to say something, but all he could do was to take his
son’s groping hand in his.

“Well—that’s all right, father. I guess I’ll go to sleep now,” said
Carl, after a short pause. “There’s no good kicking up a fuss about that
yet.” And drawing his hand away he lay down quietly, turning his face to
the wall. He was quite still, until, thinking that he was asleep, his
father and mother left the room noiselessly, Mr. Lambert with his arm
around his wife’s shoulders.

Then, wide-awake, Carl almost savagely worked himself up on his pillows,
and sat alone, thinking.

He wondered what time it was. He did not know whether it was morning or
afternoon. That it was day and not night he could guess from the busy
rumbling of wagons on the street, and the soft chattering of the twins’
voices in the little garden below. Then he heard the solemn, monotonous
tones of the old church clock.

“Just noon-day,” he thought. “The twins have been home all morning, so
school must have closed. And it must be fair, or they wouldn’t be
playing in the garden.”

At that moment he heard careful, tiptoeing footsteps outside his door.
He had already become quick at recognizing the tread of different
members of the family, and without the least uncertainty he called out,


Then he heard the door open.

“I thought you were asleep,” said Paul’s voice.

“Well, I’m not.” Then in a jocose tone, Carl said, “It’s a beautiful
day, isn’t it?”

“Why, yes,” answered Paul, in some surprise. “Look here—have you been
taking off that bandage?”

“No. But it _is_ a beautiful day isn’t it? I just wanted to be sure I
guessed right.”

Paul said nothing. To him there was something indescribably terrible and
touching in Carl’s cheerfulness, and in the sight of that half-hidden
face turned nearly but not exactly in his direction.

“_You_ heard what the doctor said,” said Carl abruptly, “there’s a
chance that I may be blind, isn’t there? Come on, and tell me. You
certainly can’t keep me from knowing sooner or later. _Did_ he say

“Yes. He did,” Paul replied briefly. Carl seemed to think this over
quite calmly for a moment or two; then with a dignity that he had never
shown before, he said slowly,

“You once said I was a coward, cousin. And you were right. I _am_ a
coward in the way you big fellows think of it. But maybe I’m not a
coward in _every_ way. Maybe I’m not. I don’t know. Maybe I am.” Paul
said nothing, but stood helplessly with his hands on the back of the

“Sit down—that is, if you want to,” Carl suggested rather awkwardly. “It
isn’t time for your lunch yet, is it? Where’s Janey?”

“She’s helping Elise.” Paul sat down, crossed his legs and looked at his
cousin, not knowing exactly what else to say. He looked odd enough
sitting there, in his apron, his sleeves rolled up and his shirt open at
the neck, sunburnt and strong in contrast to the bony, pallid boy in the

Carl fingered his eyeshade wistfully.

“Lord, I wish I could take this confounded thing off for just a minute,”
he muttered moving his head restlessly. “Do _you_ believe what the
doctor says?”

“I believe you’ll be all right in six months,” said Paul. Carl sat bolt

“_Do_ you think so? Do you really. You aren’t saying that just to cheer
me up? No, _you_ wouldn’t do that, would you?”

“No,” said Paul, “I wouldn’t.”

“Do you think I’ll be able to go back to school next year?”

“No,” said Paul, “I don’t.”

“You don’t?” Then Carl laughed. “Well, I’m glad you say what you think.”

“It’s very likely, though, that you’ll be able to study a little, and a
fellow as clever as you are won’t be behind long,” went on Paul,
gravely. Carl was vastly pleased at the compliment.

“What makes you think I’m—clever?” he asked presently.

“Why, you _are_,” answered Paul in a surprised tone, and then with a
rather sad little laugh, he added, “I wish I knew one tenth—one
_hundredth_ as much as you do. I’m a dunce, I don’t know as much as
Lottie does—not nearly.”

In the face of this humble remark, Carl remembered rather uncomfortably
the innumerable jibes he had directed at his cousin’s ignorance.

“Well, you can teach yourself a lot,” he said a little patronizingly.
Paul laughed.

“I try to. But I—I can’t even read decently, and it takes the dickens of
a long time.”

“Can’t _read_!” cried Carl.

“Well, not enough to boast of. I never went to school in my life. A long
time ago my mother or somebody must have taught me something, and then I
picked up what I could here and there. There was an old fellow I knew
years ago,—he was a passenger on a little coast trading vessel—we were
going from Marseilles down to the south of Italy, and on the voyage,
which was pretty slow,—because we sometimes stayed for two or three days
at different ports,—he taught me a few things. And then I learned to
read French pretty well, and a little Italian, and a young Englishman—a
college fellow, who’d given up studying for the ministry and run away to
sea—even taught me some Latin, though what under Heaven he thought I’d
do with it I don’t know. He was a funny one,” said Paul, chuckling
reminiscently, “a thin little chap, with a long nose. He used to say
that every gentleman should have a knowledge of the classics, and you’d
see him washing the deck, with copy of some old Latin fellow’s poetry
sticking out of his back pocket.”

“What did he go to sea for?” inquired Carl; for the first time he had
deigned to listen to some of Paul’s adventures, and he found himself
getting very much interested.

“I don’t know. His uncle was a lord or something—at least he told me so,
and I daresay it was true. He said he was a younger son, though what
that had to do with it I don’t know. Anyway it seemed to be an awfully
important thing for me to remember. He wanted to make something of
himself, he said. I told him he’d do better as—well, anything but a
cabin boy, or deck hand or whatever he was. But he said he loved the
sea—though he was just about the worst sailor I ever saw.”

“What happened to him?”

“I don’t remember. Oh, yes, I do. The poor little cuss died—got typhus
or something and off he went. Bill Tyler told me about it. They buried
him at sea.”

“Who was Bill Tyler?”

“Bill was—everything! He was an old bird—older than father. He’d done
everything, seen everything—you never knew such a man! He couldn’t write
his own name, but he was the canniest, drollest—and talk about strength!
Next to father, I guess I liked him better than anyone on earth!” Paul’s
face glowed, and he launched forth into an animated account of his
friend’s virtues and exploits, urged on eagerly by Carl, who made him go
on every time he stopped. There were no absurd exaggerations, a la
Munchausen, in his tales that day. He was thinking only of amusing the
sick, feeble boy, and making him forget his own dreary thoughts. Nor did
he once reflect that it was this same boy who had told him so
passionately that he “hated him, and always would.”

Elise appearing at the door with Carl’s tray stopped short at the sound
of his laugh—the first spontaneous laugh she had heard from him in many
a day.

“How much better you seem, dear,” she said, setting the tray on his
knees, and shaking up his pillows. “Paul, your lunch is waiting for
you.” She sent him a grateful glance.

“If you haven’t anything special to do, come on up when you’ve fed,”
suggested Carl elegantly. Elise nodded eagerly, and following Paul to
the door, said in a low voice,

“I wish you would, cousin. There isn’t much to be done to-day—I can take
care of it, and it seems to have done him so much good.”

So Paul spent the afternoon, a long, sunny afternoon, in that dark room,
talking to his cousin, telling him about people he had seen—and what a
heterogeneous collection they were!—places he had visited, adventures he
and his father had had together. A whole new world he opened to the
young bookworm, who listened with his hands folded, and a keen but
detached interest, to all these tales of action and happy-go-lucky

“All that’s great to hear about,” remarked Carl, “but I don’t think I’d
like to live that way. Too much hopping about, and too—uncomfortable.”

“I suppose it was uncomfortable—but I never knew what it was to _be_
comfortable—that is, to be sure of a good bed to sleep in, and plenty to
eat, and all that—so I never minded.”

“It must bore you to be cooped up here—baking cakes! Ha-ha!” Carl
laughed outright. “I never thought before of how funny that was!”

“I have,” remarked Paul, drily.

“What do you suppose that Bill Tyler would say?”

“I can’t imagine,” replied Paul, smiling glumly. “He’d probably say it
was a good job, and that I ought to thank Heaven for it. He was a
practical old egg, or he pretended to be. He was forever preaching what
he called ‘hard sense’—and getting himself into more tight squeezes—he
was worse than father. He had more common sense and used it less than
any man I ever saw.”

“Do you really want to be a painter?” asked Carl suddenly. “That’s such
a queer thing to want to be.”

“Oh, well,” said Paul, evidently not anxious to pursue the subject.

“And so—_useless_.”

“That’s what Bill Tyler used to say. And yet _he_ was the one who took
me to a picture gallery for the first time in my life—I was only eleven
or twelve years old. And it was there that I met old Peguignot—so it was
partly Bill’s fault that I began to think about painting at all. The old
duffer! He’d spend an entire afternoon rambling around some gallery,
going into raptures over this picture and that, pointing out what he
liked and what he didn’t like—and then when we’d come out, he’d say,
’but that’s all nonsense, and waste of time.’”

“Who was Peguignot?”

“Why, he was a little artist—a funny, shabby, excitable little guy, with
a perfectly enormous moustache that looked as if it were made out of a
lot of black hairpins; and his eyebrows were just like it. When he
talked and got enthusiastic about something, they’d all work up and
down. Bill and I came upon him one day in some gallery or other. He was
sitting up on a high stool making a copy of a big religious painting.
Bill began to talk to him, and, I suppose, just to tease him, started on
his favorite line about what nonsense it all was. I thought Peguignot
would blow up. He shook a whole handful of wet paint-brushes in Bill’s
face, called him every name he could think of—I began to laugh and then
he turned on me, and told me I was a miserable boy, and please both of
us to go far away from him. But I said I agreed with him altogether, and
then we both started in on Bill. Well, anyhow it wound up by all of us
getting to be the best of friends; and after that Bill and I used to go
around and see him quite often. And he taught me all I ever learned
about painting. He wasn’t very good himself, and he certainly wasn’t
successful, but he knew a lot, and when he wasn’t exploding about
something, he could tell what he knew very clearly. Poor little beggar,
he had a hard time of it—he was as poverty-stricken as Job most of the
time.” And then Paul began to laugh. “I remember one day his landlady
came up to get his rent. He heard her coming, and got into a perfect
panic, and was actually trying to crawl under his bed when she knocked
at the door. Then he got very calm and dignified, and told me to let her
in. So in she came, and then an argument began, and finally both of them
started to weep and wring their hands—you never heard such a rumpus.
Finally he said to her, ‘Madam, put me out. Put me out on the streets—it
is what I deserve,’ and he began to hunt for his bedroom slippers which
were the things that were most precious to him I suppose. And then she
threw her apron over her head and wailed, and said she couldn’t do that
because he was so ‘leetle.’ Well, at last he took a picture that I had
painted down from his easel, and said to her, ‘Madam, I give you this.
Sell it, and keep the money.’ Well, she stood there glowering as if she
simply couldn’t think of anything strong enough to say; until she
suddenly roared out, ‘Ah-h-h! You leetle _moustache_! Why don’t you sell
it _yourself_! Then I should have my money.’ And she took the picture
with both hands, and banged him over the head with it. But at last she
said she’d wait another month, and then she would have him
imprisoned—and off she went with my picture.”

Carl laughed.

“And did he pay her the next month?”

“I don’t know. In any case, he certainly wasn’t imprisoned. But don’t
think he took his debts lightly. He was ashamed of them and he was
ashamed of himself; and he worked for money in the only way he could,
and never tried to shirk his responsibilities. People knew that, and
they were lenient with him, because he was honest and good and they
loved him.”

There was a pause, then Carl asked curiously, but with some hesitation,

“If I—if my eyes _don’t_ get all right, what will you do?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean—will you stay on in the business?”

“In any case, it’s my job, isn’t it?” returned Paul evasively. Then
suddenly, he dropped his face in his hands. For so many nights, in the
little room to which he had been relegated since Carl’s illness, he had
been wrestling with that problem. A hundred times he had decided that
there would be only one course open to him in the event that Carl should
not get well; he would stay with his family and help them. His uncle was
getting old, and the silent, tragic appeal in the poor man’s eyes, and
his dreadful anxiety about his son had touched Paul even more than Aunt
Gertrude’s sorrow.

“Ah, well, what’s the use of trying to settle the whole course of your
life,” he said aloud, but more as if he were speaking to himself. “You
get worked up, and start pitying yourself before there’s anything
definite to pity yourself for.” Then suddenly, he said, “Tell me,
cousin, I have wanted to ask you—why is it that you hated me? If you
don’t want to answer never mind. We seem to be friends now—or I may be

Carl was silent for several moments, then he said rather gruffly,

“I—there was no reason perhaps. Let that be. You were right—when you
said that I didn’t hate you as much as I thought I did.”

That was the last reference that was made to their former enmity. They
were too different, perhaps, ever to be really intimate, but the hatchet
was buried between them.

During Carl’s convalescence Paul was with him a great deal. His stock of
stories seemed inexhaustible, and in lieu of books Carl found them the
only source of novel entertainment to be had; and for the time being
Paul was exempted from his duties in the Bakery to amuse his cousin. It
was not any too amusing for _him_; but he willingly passed hour after
hour at Carl’s bedside. It was the sight of the bandaged eyes that kept
his sympathy keen and made him gentle and patient even when Carl was
fretful and hard to please.

One day Carl said to him,

“Why don’t you read aloud to me? The doctor says it’ll be all right now.
I’ve a mountain of stuff to make up for school, and we’ll both gain

Paul blushed. He was not particularly keen on displaying his
shortcomings outright to Carl, even if he did confess them. But oh
second thoughts, he got the book that his cousin asked for, and opening
it, plunged in bravely. It was a humiliating experience for him, to have
to stop before a long word, and pronounce it syllable by syllable, and
although Carl did not laugh at him, he corrected him with an air of
grave superiority that was even more trying. But the very fact that he
did not shine in this particular province, increased Carl’s good will
toward him.

“You are getting on very well,” he said in a patronizing tone. “Keep it

The books that they read frequently led to arguments—friendly debates,
and these were Carl’s special delight. He liked to pretend that he was
addressing a jury, and would launch forth into a flood of eloquence, to
which Paul listened very respectfully, usually taking care not to
contradict his cousin or to wound his vanity by remaining unconvinced by
his oratory. But sometimes he would get carried away himself, and a
vigorous battle would follow, in which Paul had only his clear, simple
reasoning to pit against Carl’s confusing knowledge. But both of them
enjoyed it; Carl loved to dispute any point at all, and Paul “liked the

But in the long run, Paul found Carl’s favorite occupations very little
to his taste. He grew weary of his cousin’s books, with their
long-winded dissertations, he positively hated the dim room; and the
innumerable games of checkers that they played, when Carl’s eyes finally
began to improve, gradually developed in him a profound detestation of
that pastime. His only satisfaction came to him from his aunt’s and
uncle’s gratitude.

By the end of the month Carl was well enough to sit up in a chair by the
window for three or four hours a clay, and even to take off his eyeshade
for a little while in the evening when the light was softer. The family
happiness over this improvement was boundless, and in the late
afternoons everyone gathered in Carl’s room. These were gay occasions,
and even Mr. Lambert, who always sat beside his son, and never took his
eyes from his face, cracked jokes, and laughed and was in the best humor

One Sunday afternoon they were thus collected—all of them, including
Granny, who sat rocking serenely back and forth, smiling benignly and a
little absent-mindedly upon them all, winding a skein of deep magenta
wool, which Lottie held for her. The whole room was in pleasant
disorder, books and games lay scattered around, for Mr. Lambert had
relaxed his usual strict Sabbath rules while Carl was ill, and permitted
all sorts of uncustomary amusements. Minie was cutting new paper dolls
out of the Sunday paper, and painting them in glorious hues. Everyone
was gossiping and chattering—everyone, that is except Jane and Paul, who
sat on the little bench that made a seat in the embrasure of the
casement window.

Jane, who had missed her cousin severely during the last weeks, was
content to have him with her again, and sat beside him, looking through
the section of the newspaper that Minie had graciously spared. Paul, a
trifle out of spirits, was staring out of the window. It was open,
admitting a gentle evening breeze, which rustled through the full-blown
foliage of Jane’s beloved nut-tree. Below, on the other side of the
street some children were playing hop-scotch. And from somewhere came
the sound of boyish voices singing in “close harmony”—“I was seeing
Nelly ho-ome, I was seeing Nelly home, It was from Aunt Dinah’s quilting
party, I was seeing Nel-ly home.”

Suddenly Jane laid her hand on Paul’s to attract his attention. “Look!
Look at this, Paul,” she said in a low voice, putting the paper on his
knee, and pointing to a paragraph.

He glanced down and read,

“C——. June 1st. The Academy of Arts announces that it will offer a
series of prizes for painting and sculpture, to be competed for
according to the following rules.” Then followed a list of regulations,
after which the notice went on to say that, “All work must be submitted
on or before September 1st. Three prizes will be awarded in each
department. No work will be considered unless etc., etc.”

“Well, what of it?” said Paul, shortly.

“Can’t you—why don’t you—”

“You know I can’t. Look at that kid down there, will you—”

“Paul, why not?”

“Because I can’t, I tell you,” he repeated, irritably.

“But why don’t you try,” persisted Jane, undaunted. “If you don’t win
anything, there’s no harm done, and if you _should_, Paul—if you

“When and where would I be able to do any work, will you tell me?” He
spoke almost angrily, but he took the paper from her hand and looked at
it again.

“What are you two whispering about?” inquired Carl. He still felt a
twinge of jealousy when he saw Jane and Paul talking without taking him
into their confidence.

“Nothing,” said Paul. “Just something Jane saw in the paper.” And
picking up Minie’s rubber ball he began to bounce and catch it

“What is it?”

With a shrug of his shoulders, Paul handed the paper over to Carl,
pointing out the paragraph. Carl gave it to Mr. Lambert.

“Read it, father.” So Mr. Lambert put on his spectacles, while Jane
looked uneasily at Paul.

Mr. Lambert read it aloud, and then without making any comment, laid the
paper aside. He looked displeased.

“Why don’t you compete, Paul?” said Carl suddenly. “There’d be no harm
in trying.”

Then Aunt Gertrude, glancing timidly at her husband, found courage to
put in a word.

There was a silence, during which everyone waited for Mr. Lambert to say
something; but no remark from him was forthcoming. That he was annoyed
could be seen plainly, but because the suggestion had come from Carl he
maintained his silence.

“Do you think you’d stand any chance of winning, Paul?” Carl asked
secure in his peculiar privileges of free speech.

“I don’t know. How should I?”

Jane was simply on tenter-hooks. If only Carl would take up the case!

“Would you like to try it?”

“Yes. I would.”

“Well, why don’t you? You could find some place—”

“That isn’t the point,” interrupted Paul, looking directly at his uncle,
“it’s up to you, Uncle Peter. You told me that I wasn’t to touch a
paint-brush while I was in your house. And I haven’t. But I—”

“Well, you’ll let him, won’t you, father? He might as well have a go at

“My boy, I think it is hardly—”

“But it’s only a little matter, father. I’d like to see how he’d make
out. We’d feel pretty fine if he _should_ win anything, and if he
doesn’t, there’s nothing lost.”

Mr. Lambert bit his lip. But at that time he could no more have refused
his son’s slightest wish than he could have struck him.

“Well, well—go ahead if you want, Paul. I am sure I wish you every
success.” It was stiffly and unwillingly said, but it was a victory
nonetheless, and Paul did not know whether to be more amazed at his
uncle’s concession or at Carl’s intercession. Jane, her face beaming
with delight, started to clap her hands, and then realizing that any
evidences of unseemly joy might have unpleasant results, quickly folded
them in her lap.

And so it came about, through the play of circumstances, that the one
member of the Lambert family who had been so bitterly inimical to Paul
for eight months assumed the rôle of benefactor, and gallantly squared
his debt by a few right words spoken at exactly the right moment.


“Do you think I’ll be able to put it across?” Paul asked, despondently,
stepping back from the half finished picture and eyeing it with his head
on one side and a frown on his brow.

Jane, perched on an old barrel, her chin on her fists, studied the
embryo masterpiece with a grave, judicial air.

“I think it is going to be _very_ good,” she observed at length.

“Do you, honestly?” Paul knew of course that Jane was about as capable
of judging as Anna, but he had reached the point where encouragement
from any source was sweet. “Lord, I hope I get it done in time.”

“You will,” said Jane. Paul grinned at her.

“You’re about the most optimistic character I ever knew. I suppose you
think I’m certain to win a first prize.”

“Don’t _you_ think so?”

“No, my child. I don’t think there’s a chance in the world.”

“Oh, Paul! But you’ll win something.”

“No, my jovial Jane, I won’t. But that’s neither here nor there. Whew!
Let’s get out of here. I’m melting. How about you?”

“It _is_ pretty hot,” Jane admitted. It most certainly was. An attic,
even on coolish days seems able to store up heat as no other place can,
and on a sizzling August afternoon a bakeoven is Iceland in comparison.
The only thing to be said in favor of the Lambert’s attic was that it
had a northern light if not a northern temperature, and here Paul had
set to work.

“Want to take a walk?” he suggested, dropping his paintbrushes into a
can of turpentine.

“Can’t. I promised Elise I’d help her with some of the mending.”

“Well, I think I’ll browse around for a while. Tell Aunt Gertrude I’ll
be back for supper. She said there wasn’t a thing for me to do.”

“Where are you going?”

“Nowhere in particular. I feel like doing something rash and reckless,
but there’s no danger of anything like _that_—here. Where’s Carl?”

“Out in the garden with Elise and the twins.”

“Well—good-bye. I’ll be back in half an hour or so.”

Paul selected for his solitary ramble a certain rough, dusty, shady lane
that led down past the ruins of an old mill. Here on those breathless
afternoons a crowd of little urchins were wont to gather to splash and
paddle in the gurgling stream that tossed over its stony bed on to the
water-fall above the mill. On the opposite side of the road rose a
wooded hill, where the tree-tops were gilded with ruddy sunlight, and
the deep fern scented recesses were always cool and dim.

The shade and freshness of the woods on that hot day were not to be
resisted, and Paul turned into them, following a soft, weed-grown road
that lead along a little tributary of the mill-stream. But he was
feeling restless and even a little rebellious. The calm, uneventful
course of his life during the past nine months had gotten on his nerves,
and he found himself longing for some kind of change or excitement. What
wouldn’t he give to see old Bill Tyler coming toward him at that moment!

He stopped, and leaning against an old wooden railing, stared down at
the stream that flowed by at the foot of the steep bank. For more than a
month he had been working as hard as he could at his picture, taking
good care not to let it interfere with his other duties, lest his uncle
should recall his permission; Aunt Gertrude tried to help him, and he
had progressed; but there wasn’t a chance in a million of his winning
anything, and he was not sure but that he had made a mistake in
undertaking the task at all. He started on again, walking slowly, with
his hands buried in his pockets, forgetful of the passage of time, and
of his uncle’s dislike of having anyone late for a meal. Suddenly he
stopped. It seemed to him that someone had called his name.

Looking back over his shoulder he saw a small man running easily along
the road toward him.

“Hello! Where are you off to?” inquired the newcomer, as he came up,
smiling in a friendly way. “I saw you back there, and thought I
recognized you. How are you?”

It was no other than the notorious Jefferson Roberts, his face beaming
with a friendly, winning smile, and his hand outstretched. Paul shook
the hand, and said that he was off to nowhere—that he was just walking.

“Communing with Nature?” said Jeff, cocking his head on one side, while
his bright brown eyes twinkled merrily. “May I commune with you? I’m
going in your direction.”

“Come ahead. That is, unless you’re in a hurry. I _won’t_ walk fast.”

“Oh, I’m never in a hurry. What have you been doing since I saw you

Paul answered the question briefly without going into any details.

“What an industrious life!” exclaimed Jeff gaily. “How is your good
little cousin, Carl Lambert? Do you remember that day in Allenboro? He
was horrified at you—he thinks I’m the most wicked creature alive. But
then, most of those good souls _do_. And why? simply because I like to
enjoy myself—and succeed at it.” And as he said this he laughed so
spontaneously, his face was so full of arch, easy-going good nature that
Paul joined in his laugh, feeling convinced that the tales about Jeff
were mostly absurd exaggerations. In fifteen minutes or so he began to
believe, also, that there was a great deal of good in Jeff that had been
most uncharitably overlooked. There was nothing “smarty” about him; he
seemed frank and boyish, overflowing-with high spirits, impulsive,
enthusiastic, and happy-go-lucky all at once. He was even rather a
confiding soul, and strolling along beside Paul, whose arm he had taken,
chattered naïvely about himself and his affairs with child-like

Presently his mood changed; he began to blame himself for his idleness,
and to talk about his mother. He told Paul that he had decided to get a
good job in the fall, and work hard.

“I’m a lot more serious than anyone thinks, let me tell you,” he
remarked gravely. “I like fun, but I’m not like the rest of those chumps
you saw up at Allenboro. _They_ think they know me—but they don’t. They
only see one side—so does everyone else. But I’ll show ’em. One of these
days I’ll be a nice, respectable—Mayor, with three chins, and a gold
watch-chain.” This fancy sent him off into a fit of amusement. His
humors changed so rapidly from melancholy to gaiety that there was no
way of being sure that he was not joking when he seemed grave, and
serious when he was laughing; but he was a delightful companion, and the
two boys sauntered along talking as if they had been intimates from
their childhood.

Suddenly, Paul realized that much time must have flown since Jeff
interrupted his meditations.

“Gee! It must be pretty late,” he exclaimed looking up through the
trees, trying to guess the time by the sun. “Have you got a watch?”

Jeff laughed, and pulling his watch-chain from his pocket, displayed a
bunch of keys, which he twirled jauntily.

“My watch, I’m sorry to say, is on a short vacation. But you don’t have
to bother about the time. Come on with me—I’m going to scare up some of
the fellows, and see what we can find to do.”

Paul hesitated. He was decidedly in the mood for falling in with Jeff’s
harmless suggestion; besides, he would certainly be late for supper,
and, was consequently, slated for his uncle’s reproof anyhow.

“All right. What are you going to do?”

“Oh, sit around and talk most likely. Probably ramble off to get
something to eat, and then we might go up to see Tom Babcock—he’s a nice
fellow. You’d like him.”

This seemed a mild and agreeable program, and was very much to Paul’s
taste. If his uncle should ask him where he’d been—well, hang it, did he
have to give an account of everything he did, as if he were a child of
ten? And all this fuss about Jeff Roberts was such utter nonsense

Accordingly, he accepted Jeff’s friendly invitation, and they went off
together following the road on through the woods which led by a short
cut to the neighboring town, of Goldsboro.

Goldsboro was a progressive young community where, unquestionably you
could find more to do than at Frederickstown. The streets were brightly
lighted at night, every Wednesday and Saturday evening during the summer
a band played for two hours in the Square, and the shops stayed open
until ten o’clock, and there was even a theatre where such old classics
as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “The Old Homestead,” and “Billy, the Kid,” were
enacted by an ambitious stock company.

Jeff seemed to know everyone, and it was not long before he had
collected a jolly party of five or six boys. He also knew where you
could get a capital sea-food supper, and insisted that Paul should be
his guest. In fact, Paul found the attentions bestowed upon him by this
rather famous youth, decidedly flattering though he was at a loss to
know just why Jeff should suddenly have begun to treat him as if he were
his best friend. The truth was that Jeff was inclined to sudden
friendships, which were often as speedily broken as made.

Supper over, it was suggested that they drop around and see what Tom
Babcock was doing.

Tom was a young man older even than Jeff—two-and-twenty, perhaps, or
twenty-three. He lived magnificently alone in a small room over a corner
drugstore, where they found him smoking his pipe and hanging half way
out of his window to watch the crowd in the Square, and to hear the
strains of the brass-band which at that moment was playing “Kathleen
Mavourneen” with deep pathos.

Upon the arrival of his guests, Tom lighted his gas, and after a little
conversation they all sat down to a game of cards.

Paul enjoyed himself immensely. He liked Jeff, he liked Tom, he liked
Jim, and Jack and Harry. They were “nice fellows,” all of them. Why they
should be considered such a dangerous crew was more than he could

And meantime the night wore on.

In the Lambert household mild wonder at Paul’s absence gave way to

“Well, I suppose the boy knows how to take care of himself,” remarked
Mr. Lambert, drily.

“Perhaps, Peter, you had better put the latch-key under the doormat,”
suggested Aunt Gertrude, but Mr. Lambert would not agree to this.

“No, my dear. He knows quite well that everything is locked at ten
o’clock. If he prefers to be roaming around the country at that time, he
must be prepared to take the consequences. I hope you do not expect me
to alter all the rules of the household for the boy.”

So at ten o’clock, Paul not yet having made his appearance, the front
door was locked, and the family went to bed.

But Jane was not able to take his absence so calmly. Suppose he had got
lost? Suppose he had hurt himself? He might even have been kidnapped.
These fears made it impossible for her to sleep, and so she sat down at
her window, determined to wait up for him all night if necessary. With
the house locked, how could he get in—where could he go?

The time that she waited seemed endless. The tones of the church clock,
striking eleven, boomed solemnly through the stillness that lay over the
town. All the houses were darkened; the street was quiet. Now and then,
solitary footsteps rang out on the bricks, and Jane sat up eagerly only
to hear them die away in a neighboring block.

Where _could_ he be? She was almost in tears when after an eternity of
waiting she heard the sound of whistling far up the street.

“That _must_ be Paul. It _must_ be!” She leaned far out of the window,
trying to get a glimpse of the wanderer, who was in fact coming nearer
to the house. At last he came into the light of the street lamp, and she
recognized him with a great sigh of relief. In another moment she had
flown noiselessly down the stairs, and unbolted the door with as little
squeaking and rattling as possible.

“Hello,” said Paul as calmly as if he had just run up to the corner to
mail a letter.

“Oh, _where_ have you been?”

“Where have I been?” Paul was instantly on the defensive. “Why—what’s
the matter? What’s everything locked up for?”

“Sh! Everyone’s asleep but me. Oh, I thought you were _dead_!”

“Good Heaven’s—_why_? It isn’t late.”

“It’s nearly twelve. Everyone’s been in bed for ages. We couldn’t
imagine what had become of you—”

“Well, I must say I don’t see why there’s so much fuss. I just walked
over to Goldsboro to see what was going on, and fooled around there for
a while. It was later than I thought when I went out, and when I found
out I’d miss supper, I thought I might as well take a good walk, and get
something to eat over there.”

“Oh,—well we couldn’t imagine—you’d better walk softly, Paul.”

For some reason, Paul suddenly chose to think that Jane was reproving

“I don’t see why I can’t be a little late without everyone’s getting so
worked up over it. Do you mean to say that I mustn’t leave the house
without telling everyone exactly what time I’ll be back?” he grumbled.
“Gee whiz! Life isn’t worth living if you have to be worrying every

“_Sh-sh_, Paul! You’ll wake everybody up,” whispered Jane. He subsided a
little, but was still muttering indignantly when he parted from her and
tiptoed cautiously up to his room.

The next morning at breakfast, Mr. Lambert asked him casually what had
delayed him, and appeared quite satisfied at his off-hand answer.

“And how did you get in? Everything is always locked at ten, as you

“I heard him whistling, Daddy, and I let him in,” spoke up Jane. Mr.
Lambert merely said,

“Ah! Well, don’t let it happen again my boy. It made me very uneasy.”

No further reference was made to the matter.

“There was no harm in it,” thought Paul. “They have the impression that
Jeff is a black sheep, and it would be a silly thing to go out of my way
to tell ’em that I saw him again. Uncle would have a fit, and it’s such
a little thing to deliberately get up a row about.”

And so being satisfied that his mild escapade would have no
uncomfortable results he thought no more about it.


Poor Janey was feeling very blue indeed. During the last week it seemed
to her that Paul had somehow grown so different—rather inclined to be
cross and uncommunicative, and even to avoid her company. That very
afternoon he had told her please not to bother him while he was
painting, or he never would get his picture done, and twice when she had
offered to take a walk with him, he had refused her company with no very
gracious excuse.

Thus ignored and rebuffed, she had sadly devoted herself to deeds of
charity, and on that sultry afternoon sat with Carl reading aloud to him
from a fat dull book about the ancient Britons. They were sitting in the
little garden, where the shadow of the house offered some protection
from the sun; Carl reposing like a Sultan in his easy chair, gazing up
at the motionless weathervane on the gable of the attic, and
occasionally begging Jane “_not_ to mumble her words.” The attic was on
the third floor just above Granny’s room, in a part of the house that
formed an ell, bounding the garden on the south side with its
ivy-covered wall.

“I say, Jane, do you suppose that Paul is _smoking_?” said Carl
suddenly, interrupting the monotonous flow of Jane’s reading.


“Well, that’s smoke, isn’t it? coming out of the attic window—and cigar
smoke, too, or I’ll eat my hat!”

Jane looked up. It was an undeniable fact that a blue spiral issued from
the attic, and, caught by the faint breeze, was wafted gracefully
upwards, and dissolved. A very faint scent drifted down to the garden,
and that scent—if such it could be called—was of tobacco. Paul, happily
ignorant of the dismayed interest he had roused in the garden below, was
sampling a cigar that Jeff had lavishly bestowed on him.

“Well, all I’ve got to say is that if he knows what is good for him,
he’ll cut _that_ out,” observed Carl drily.

“I guess—I guess he’s just doing it for fun,” said Jane.

“He won’t think it fun if father catches him. But it’s none of _my_
business, I suppose. Go on.”

Jane went on reading, furtively glancing aloft every now and then to see
if the tell-tale puffs of smoke were still issuing from the open window.
To her intense relief they had stopped after a few minutes, and
presently she heard Paul talking to her mother in the kitchen.

“Do you really like this book?” she asked at last, looking at her
brother pathetically.

“Very much. But you needn’t read any more if you’re tired. Here’s Elise,
now, anyway.”

Elise had just entered by the garden gate.

“Carl! Jane! What do you think! The most exciting thing—”

“Lily Deacon is engaged to Mr. Sheridan,” said Jane promptly. Elise
stared at her, her round blue eyes wide with amazement.

“How did you know?”

“I put two and two together. Aren’t I clever?”

“No, how _did_ you guess, Janey? Lily hasn’t told anyone but me.”

“Well, I knew it _was_ going to happen, and I knew that you’d been up to
see Lily this afternoon, and I guessed the rest. Isn’t it _nice_,
though!” cried Jane, clapping her hands. “And you know _I’m_ really
responsible for it.”

“_You_!” hooted Carl derisively.

“Yes, me. When did it happen, Elise, and when are they going to be
married? I do so love a wedding, and there hasn’t been one here for
ages. Do you suppose she’ll wear a veil?”

Elise, who under her placid exterior had the most romantic of souls, sat
down to recount all the details that she had gleaned from her best

“And she’s going to live in that lovely house, and she’ll travel, and
she—goodness, do you suppose Paul has burned up _another_ batch of
cakes?” she broke off short in her rhapsody over Lily’s prospects to
sniff the air.

“Don’t you smell smoke? I do hope he hasn’t had another disaster—he’s
been getting along so well. Well, anyway—where was I?”

“You said she was going to travel. What _I_ want to know is when the
wedding is going to be,” said Jane.

“Oh, that isn’t decided yet—in the spring, I think. You know, that
doesn’t smell like cake burning. It smells like rags. I suppose
somebody’s burning trash.”

Carl laughed and looked at Jane; but the burning smell did not resemble
tobacco at all, and besides, Paul was still in the kitchen with Aunt

“Go on and tell some more, Elise,” said Jane.

“I’ve told you all I know. I must get you your milk, Carl.”

A minute later Elise reappeared at the dining room door, bearing a tray
well stocked with milk and cookies, and followed by Paul and Aunt

“Dear me, who _can_ be burning rubbish?” exclaimed Mrs. Lambert. “Don’t
you smell smoke, children?”

“_I_ do, I can tell you,” said Carl. “By Jove, Paul, what’s going on up
in your den?”

Everyone looked up in consternation to the attic window. Paul had closed
it before he came down, but smoke was coming slowly from under the pane.

“Good heavens! It couldn’t be on fire!” cried Elise. “Run, Paul! Run,

But Paul had not waited to be urged. Up the stairs he was flying, as
fast as his long legs could carry him, followed by Jane, Elise and poor
Aunt Gertrude, whose only thought was for Granny, the twins having gone
out to play early in the afternoon.

The smoke was already thick on the second floor.

“Elise, you and Aunt Gertrude take Granny downstairs,” ordered Paul.
“Jane, you’d better not come up.”

“I’ll get a bucket of water. Oh, Paul! Your _picture_!”

“Never mind my picture—get the water _quick_!” And Paul dashed on up the

With his heart in his boots, he made his way to the attic, trying to
hold his breath so that he would not swallow the smoke.

It turned out that so far as danger was concerned there was no great
cause for excitement. Although the attic was dense with smoke, the cause
of it was only a small blaze in the heap of rags near the window, which
subsided under two bucketfuls of water.

Jane, whom Paul had not allowed to come up, waited for news at the foot
of the stairs; but after he had informed her that the fire was out, she
heard nothing more from him. After a few moments she shouted,

“Paul! Are you all right?”

“Oh, _I’m_ all right,” replied a muffled voice, in a tone of the utmost

“Well, come on down, or you’ll smother. What’s happened?”

“I’ll be down in a second,” and then through the fog Paul appeared
slowly, descending the stairs carrying a square of canvas.

“Is it hurt?” asked Jane, fearfully. “Oh, Paul!”

“I don’t know. I can’t see it properly yet.” But his face showed that he
expected the worst Neither of them spoke a word until they reached the
garden again, where Aunt Gertrude pounced upon Jane.

“Oh, _child_, how you frightened me! Paul, are you quite sure
everything’s all right? Oh, how did it start—was there really a

“Just a little one—it’s all out—a few rags. I pitched ’em all out of the
window. I’m—sorry, Aunt Gertrude.”

“Oh, my poor boy—your picture!”

“What’s the matter? Is it ruined?” asked Carl. Jane said nothing, but
stood looking first at her cousin’s face, and then at the smoke-begrimed
and blistered canvas on which there was hardly a semblance of the
picture that had been so nearly completed.

“Yes,” said Paul, with the calmness of despair, “it’s ruined. It’s
ruined all right.”

No one knew what to say, and a silence followed, until Elise asked
timidly if he didn’t have time to do another.

“In four days? This is the twenty-seventh. No, cousin, I couldn’t—and
besides, even if I could, I haven’t anything to do it with. So I guess
that’s all there is to that.” He tried to sound cheerful, and turning
the picture against the wall of the house, announced that he was going
back to the attic to see if everything was calm up there.

“Well, that’s pretty hard luck,” remarked Carl. “I daresay he’s more
broken up than he lets on.”

Jane had begun to cry, hiding her face in Granny’s lap. Not even Paul
could have been as cruelly disappointed as she.

“Oh, he _would_ have won something! I’m sure he would have!” she wept,
disconsolately. “He said he didn’t think so, but he _did_, and I know he

“Well, one way or the other, it’s his affair,” said Carl, “and I
certainly don’t see why _you_ should be in such a stew over it.”

“It is my affair, too,” wailed Jane, and at this characteristic remark
no one could help smiling.

“Come, Janey, darling, there’s no use in taking it so to heart,” said
Mrs. Lambert, laying her hand softly on the curly head. “We are all
dreadfully distressed about Paul, but he has taken his misfortune
bravely, and after all he will have many more chances. Elise, isn’t that
the bell in the bakeshop? Dear me, what can people think coming in to
all that smoke. I wonder if it’s clearing out at all. Come now, Janey,
cheer up.”

Janey lifted her face from Granny’s knees, and wiped her wet cheeks with
the palms of her hands, leaving long smudges.

“There now. We must all be thankful that there was no worse harm done,”
said her mother, kissing her. “Come along, Elise. You come with me too,
Janey. We mustn’t keep anyone waiting.”

But Paul was already in the bakeshop, and was calmly counting out change
to the customer when his aunt came in. He was rather pale, but
apparently quite cheerful.

“I looked around in the attic again, Aunt Gertrude. It’s all right up
there,” he said calmly, when the customer had gone. “The floor is
charred a bit where the rags were—but that’s all the damage. And the
smoke’s clearing out. It didn’t get into the rooms much, because all the
doors were closed.”

“We’re all so distressed about your picture, my dear,” said Aunt
Gertrude, laying her hands on his arm. “I know what disappointment you
must feel—and you are a very plucky boy.”

Paul looked down at her, started to say something, and then abruptly
left the shop.

“But how in the world could it have started?” wondered Aunt Gertrude,
for the first time. “He surely couldn’t have had the oil-stove lighted
in this weather, and it couldn’t have started by itself.”

But Elise had no theory to offer, and Jane was in tears again, so Aunt
Gertrude carried her mystification out to the kitchen, to see whether
Anna had returned with the groceries.

At six o’clock, Mr. Lambert returned to the bosom of a highly excited
family, and, at the supper table, listened with a peculiarly austere
expression to the incoherent accounts of the disaster. Presently, he
held up his hand.

“Come, come! I cannot find the beginning or end of all this,” he said,
and then bending his gaze on Paul, added, slowly and sternly, “there was
a fire to-day in the attic—where you, Paul, have been—er—working. So
much I understand. But what I do _not_ understand is—how this fire

There was a silence. Jane glanced at Carl, and Carl took a drink of

“We hear of such things as spontaneous combustion,” pursued Mr. Lambert,
“but for anything of the sort to take place, there must be certain
conditions. I do not imagine that such conditions could exist—in a pile
of rags—under an open window. No,” said Mr. Lambert, shaking his head,
“I must discard that theory.”

Again the unpleasant silence followed these remarks. Paul, who had eaten
nothing, drummed nervously on the table.

“You were there, were you not? a short time before the fire started?”
inquired Mr. Lambert. “Did you notice any—er—odor of burning?”

“Why, Paul was with me in the kitchen for quite a little while before
any of us noticed anything, Peter,” Aunt Gertrude broke in innocently.

“Well,” said Mr. Lambert, shaking his head, but still keeping his eyes
fixed immovably on his nephew’s face, “it is quite beyond my
comprehension. How anything of the sort—”

At this point Paul suddenly interrupted.

“There isn’t anything so very queer about it, uncle,” he said coolly
enough, at first, though once he had spoken his courage seemed to leave
him a little. “I—I was smoking up there, and I suppose I threw a
match—or maybe—”

“Ah-h-h!” said Mr. Lambert slowly. Then he pressed his lips together,
and for a moment or two said nothing. At length he observed,

“There are one or two matters I should like to take up with you after
supper, Paul. However, we won’t go into them just now.” And then he
changed the subject with an abruptness that so far from drawing the
thoughts of his family _away_ from speculations upon what was in store
for Paul, only made them more dismally foreboding. And when after supper
the family showed a desire to disperse before the coming storm, Mr.
Lambert solemnly asked them to remain while he asked Paul a few

“Peter, don’t scold the poor boy to-night,” said Aunt Gertrude in a low
voice. “He has—he is very much distressed and disappointed.”

“It is true that he brought his own punishment upon himself,” returned
Mr. Lambert, “and I should, perhaps, overlook the matter of his smoking
this time, although he knew quite as well as Carl that I have absolutely
forbidden that. It is a far more serious matter that I have to speak

And with this he turned to Paul, who had been trying to collect his
thoughts. He was not ignorant of what the serious matter might be, but
it seemed to him that his uncle was making a good deal more out of it
than it was worth, and he had begun to wonder whether he had been guilty
of some crime that so far he knew nothing of.

“I have heard to-day—from a source that I fear is only too
reliable—certain reports concerning you, which in justice to you I must
ask you to deny or confirm,” said Mr. Lambert.

“What are they, uncle?” asked Paul.

“I was told—and by one of my most respected fellow-citizens—that you
have been seen not once, but at least half a dozen time of late with a
young man of a most undesirable character and reputation—Jefferson
Roberts. Could my informant have been mistaken? Have you or have you not
seen this young man several times—recently?”

Paul swallowed. The entire family was aghast, for it was very plain that
Mr. Lambert was deeply angered.

“Well?” said the old merchant. “Is this true?”

“Yes, uncle.”

“You knew what my feelings would be if I learned that this _was_ true?”

“Yes, uncle.”

“Yes,” repeated Mr. Lambert, “I think you knew very well that you were
disobeying my strictest injunctions. Just before Christmas you were—or
could have been—seen with this notorious youth—a gambler, a rascal, a
shameless loafer. When I learned of this, I pardoned you, thinking that
you might not have known how deeply outraged I should feel at
discovering that any member of my household should wish to associate
with such a person. But now you have disobeyed me without such excuse.
What am I to think? You give me no choice but to believe that you find
pleasure in disobeying me, and mortifying me.”

After a pause, he went on,

“Yes, mortifying me. You have treated me as I have not deserved to be
treated. I have given you a home, I have considered your welfare as
attentively as I have considered the welfare of my own children; I have
been lenient with you, though you would, perhaps, not be willing to
admit as much—and in return I find you willing to—perhaps you are not
aware that in associating with this Roberts and his crew you not only
injure your own standing in this town, but injure me also. For more than
a hundred years the family whose name you bear, and my own have stood
for every principle of good citizenship; and that honorable reputation
is to be marred through the willfulness of a youth who counts such a
thing so lightly that he will toss it away for a few hours’ idle

This grave, stern accusation was not what Paul had expected. He turned
white and then blushed crimson. His vocal chords felt stiff, but at last
he managed to speak.

“I—I didn’t think that Jeff Roberts was judged fairly, sir,” he


“And what have I done that’s so terrible?” cried Paul, “I only—”

“You knew that you were disobeying me?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Perhaps you think that at eighteen years of age you are a better judge
of character than grey headed men and women? Perhaps you think that you
are old enough to be your own master?” Mr. Lambert got up. “I cannot
allow willful disobedience in my house. You have been guilty of it too
often. I feel now that it would be best for all concerned—for you
especially—to—let you _be_ your own master. You are free now to go where
you like, make friends with whom you will, direct your own life as you
please.” He stopped. There was not a sound in the room—indeed no one
quite realized that Mr. Lambert’s words actually constituted a

“Your father,” continued the old man immovably, “left with me a small
amount of money, which I shall turn over to you at once. It should be
sufficient to maintain you until you are able to support yourself, and I
am willing to add to it if necessary. I think—I believe that in the
course of time experience will show you that I have been just with you,
and if you show yourself worthy I shall always be ready to help you to
the best of my ability.”

Aunt Gertrude looked pleadingly at her husband, but he did not see her.
No one else had courage to say anything, and indeed to do so would have
been worse than useless; for whether Mr. Lambert had judged his nephew
too harshly or not, it was certain that he could not be made to look at
the facts of the case in a different light. To him two things were of
paramount importance,—obedience to his wishes, and respect for public
opinion, and Paul had offended against both of these fundamental
statutes. The old merchant had not exaggerated when he said that his
nephew’s conduct had mortified him.

Paul made no attempt to defend himself; he was too much dazed by all
that the day had brought forth to find a word to say.

Well, he was free. He should have been glad—and only a few months before
he would have been. But looking helplessly around the table, from one
face to the other he realized suddenly that he was _not_ glad. Why, he
had grown to love them all—he had even a certain fondness for Carl. Who
was there now to care whether he got into scrapes or out of them,
whether he won prizes or burnt his pictures to cinders, whether he was
defeated or triumphant. But his face showed nothing of what was passing
in his mind. Somewhere in the distance Mr. Lambert was saying,

“I wished for all of you to hear what I had to say to my nephew, so that
you would understand that I judged him by nothing but what he himself
admitted. And I believe, Gertrude, that when you have considered the
matter as carefully as I have you will feel that I am doing only what is
just, and, I hope, wise. Paul is not a child, but a young man, quite
able to think for himself. It is plain that our ways and customs are
disagreeable to him, and I have come to believe that it is only fair to
him to let him go his own way as he thinks best. And—er—that is all.”

One by one the others rose from the table, and left the room. Only Paul
and his uncle remained.

“Have I made myself quite clear?” asked Mr. Lambert, sitting down at his
desk, and putting up the roll-top.

“Yes, uncle. I—when do you want me to—go?”

“That I leave entirely to your convenience,” returned Mr. Lambert. He
opened a drawer and took out an envelope with a rubber band around it,
which he gave to his nephew. “If you should find that this is not
sufficient for your needs you may let me know. I am very sorry that you
have forced this painful duty upon me—I had hoped that you—I still hope
that you will realize—”

“My responsibilities,” said Paul absently. “Oh, I have—but never mind.
I’m sorry, uncle. I didn’t understand—”

“Quite so. I want you to know that I am not acting with any thought of
punishing you. I am doing only what I believe to be best.”

“Yes, sir.”

Mr. Lambert looked curiously at his nephew’s face, and saw that the
contrition in it was sincere. He did not for a moment waver in his
decision, but after a moment he held out his hand.

“I hope you do not harbor any hard feelings against me?”

Paul slowly and wonderingly took the proffered hand. His uncle’s cold,
immovable justice was something that he had never been able to
understand. Not for a moment did he dream of asking for pardon, but he
could not “harbor any hard feelings” against the austere old man, who
judged everything according to an inflexible standard of right and
wrong—who saw all conduct as either black or white, and to whom the
crime of disobedience was equally unpardonable whether it affected the
routine of a little household or the affairs of a nation.


Along the dusty road, Paul trudged alone, his head bent. He did not look
up until the little town lay behind him. There was very little feeling
of exultation in his heart as he made his way along the shady road,
under the apple trees, from which the yellow fruit was already falling.
For the first time in his life, this young citizen of the world knew
what homesickness was—and he could not bring himself to look back to the
town to which he had come so unwillingly ten months before. Well, he was
free—he was his own master. That was what his uncle had said. The whole
world lay before him—but where should he go? There was no one out there
who knew that he was coming, or who cared whether he came or stayed.
There was the city—“lots of people, lots of streets, lots of houses.”
But what was Paul Winkler to the city? And even if at some time in that
future to which he looked forward with dogged hope, he should make fame
and fortune, would the city care any more about Paul Winkler? Would he
not have been wiser—and happier—to have fitted himself to the ways of
his own people, to have gone on growing up among them, learning to know
them, to honor them for their simple virtues, and to forgive them their
weaknesses? He shook his head impatiently; it was too late to think
about the might-have-beens.

He had just reached a bend in the road, when he heard a voice calling

“Paul! Oh, Paul, wait a minute!”

He stopped, and looked around slowly. Janey was running toward him,
stumbling over the stones in the road, panting, her round little face
puckered with distress.

“Janey!” He dropped his bundle in the dust, and held out both hands to
her. But she ignored his hands, and flinging both arms around him, clung
to him tightly.

“What is it, Janey darling?”

“N-nothing,” she sobbed, “only I—oh, _Paul_ don’t go!”

He patted her red head tenderly; for a moment or two he found it
difficult to say anything.

“There, Janey—don’t. I—and you’d better run on back, dear,” he said at
last, stooping to pick up his bundle.

“No, mother said I could come—she said I could walk to the crossroads
with you. And she said I was to give you another kiss for her—and tell
you that she loved you—and Granny’s crying.”

“Is she?” said Paul. “Oh, Janey— Well, come along, kidlet.” He took her
hand, and they went on slowly between the sweet-smelling fields that lay
turning to gold under the August sun.

With his hand in hers, Janey seemed to feel comforted, but with every
step Paul’s heart grew heavier.

“Do you think, Paul, it would have been different if your picture hadn’t
burned up?”

“Why, Janey?”

“If you had won a prize?”

“I don’t think it would have won any prize. And—it _did_ burn up, so
there you are. Besides, it wasn’t as good as that old thing I did of
Aunt Gertrude. Do you remember? That thing on the top of the flour
barrel? That was much better—though I don’t know why.”

Jane stopped short, looked at him for a moment or two, her face
brightening, then, without saying anything, walked on again.

“What is it? What were you thinking about?” asked Paul.


In a little while they reached the top of the hill from which Paul, in
the farmer’s wagon, had had his first glimpse of Frederickstown. Now he
paused to take his last.

There it lay, a pretty town, in the shade of its old trees. There was
the spire of the very church which old Johann Winkler had attended
regularly in his snuff colored Sunday suit, his wife beside him, and his
children marching decorously in front of him. There were the gables of
the Bakery, and there the very window from which Paul had so often gazed
out longingly toward the open road. There was the slate roof of his
uncle’s warehouse where, no doubt the old man was calmly engaged in his
day’s work, going over his books, talking and haggling with the farmers
that sold him their goods;—a stern character, narrow, perhaps, and
obstinate, but upright and self-respecting in all his dealings, a good
father, a loyal citizen and an honest man; justly proud of his standing
among his fellow townsmen. It was thus for the first time, that Paul
understood the uncompromising old man, who had judged his ne’er-do-well,
lawless father so harshly, and with whom he himself had been in constant
friction since he had come there. To Peter Lambert, respect for family
traditions, regard for the feelings and even the prejudices of his
fellow citizens, and submission to domestic and civil laws, written and
unwritten, were the first principles of living and he could not pardon
anyone who took them lightly.

In the few short moments that he stood there looking back, Paul felt his
heart swell with affection for all that he was leaving behind him; for
Granny, his father’s mother, who cried over him, for Aunt Gertrude who
had always loved him, for gentle, industrious Elise, for the twins, with
their pranks and their coaxing little ways, and—yes, for Carl, who had
shown himself a good fellow, with all his fussy habits, and irritating

“I’ll miss you the most, Paul,” said Janey, as if she guessed his

He looked down at her.

“I know you will—and I’ll miss you the most.”

That was all they said until at length they reached the crossroads.

“Which way are you going, Paul?” asked Jane, struggling to keep back her

Paul looked up at the weather-beaten sign-post.

“To the City,” he said firmly. “That’s the road I’m taking now, Janey.”

“Oh, Paul! Where will you be? Where will you be?”

“I don’t know, Janey. I can’t tell you. I don’t know anything now. But I
shall be all right—don’t worry about me.”

“Oh, will you ever, ever come back again?” Poor Janey’s tears streamed
down her rosy cheeks. Paul looked at her seriously.

“Yes, I will, Janey. I promise you that. I don’t know when or how, but
I’ll be back some day. Now give me the kiss Aunt Gertrude sent, and one
from you.”

She dried her eyes on her apron, and then standing on tip-toe, put both
her arms around his neck and kissed him on each cheek.

“Good-bye, Paul.”

“Good-bye, Janey.”

She stood there under the sign-post, watching him as he walked briskly
down the country road. Once, when to her he was only a miniature figure
in the distance, he looked back and saw her, standing motionlessly, with
the summer wind blowing her bright blue dress, and the summer sun
shining on her red head. She had been, and was, and always would be, his
faithful friend, and he knew in his heart he would never find anyone
like her in the whole wide world that lay before him.

When he had disappeared under the shadows of the trees far down the
road, Janey turned and retraced her way homeward. She had been a little
comforted by his promise to come back again, and was already imagining
how one day he would walk into the bakeshop, suddenly, when no one was
expecting him, and say that he was going to live with them all for ever
and ever. And so he would live there, and everyone would love him, and
he would paint wonderful pictures and become famous; but he would never
go away again—the world would come to him! Never for a minute had Jane
doubted that Paul was a rare and extraordinary being, and in his wildest
moments of self-confidence he did not believe in himself as completely
as she did.

Then everything dropped from her thoughts, except the one idea that had
come to her a little while before.

To-day was the twenty-eighth. There was plenty of time.

Aunt Gertrude, was in the Bakery setting the trays of freshly baked
cakes under the glass counters, with a sad face. She missed her nephew,
and in her heart believed that her husband had been harsh with the boy
whose efforts to master himself had not escaped her, and whom she loved
as much as her own son. But she knew quite well how useless it would
have been for her to have tried to intercede for him—and after all, what
had happened might be for the best. Aunt Gertrude was always inclined to
believe that anything that happened was always “for the best” in the
long run—and that, no doubt, was why, in spite of a life that had not
escaped many sorrows and difficulties, she was still young and fresh in
spite of her forty-odd years.

But she had expected her Janey to return inconsolable for the loss of
her beloved cousin, and was surprised and puzzled when her daughter ran
into the shop in almost her usual state of high spirits.

Without stopping Jane ran through the shop, and up the stairs to the
little room that Paul had occupied since Carl’s illness—a small room,
with one window, and rather scantily furnished. Under the window was a
table, with one drawer, in which Jane promptly began to rummage. Its
contents were hardly valuable—two or three thumb tacks, a bed castor, a
scrap or two of lead pencil, a shabby copy of “A Short History of
Greece”—the pathetic testimony of Paul’s efforts at “getting to know
something”—and a portfolio stuffed with papers. And then from this
clutter of what seemed to be school exercises of one sort or another,
Jane finally extracted what she was looking for—the newspaper clipping
that she had cut out for Paul three months before, with the address to
which he was to have sent his ill-fated picture.

Jane did not lose a minute. She was now in quest of the old picture he
had painted on the top of the flour barrel! _He_ had said that it
“wasn’t so bad”—and she had once heard him say that some great painter
had painted a celebrated Madonna on the top of a wine cask.

She remembered now that she had seen it lying on the dinner table, one
day when Elise was dusting the dining room, and Elise had put it behind
Mr. Lambert’s desk, where it had reposed since the day he had
confiscated it. It must still be there.

And there, indeed, she found it. A fine coat of dust had collected over
its surface, but when she had brushed it off with her apron, she found
it quite as fresh as ever.

And now, how was it to be wrapped so that it could withstand the rough
treatment of a long journey? She glanced at the clock. It was not yet

Holding it face inwards under her arm, she started forth to look for
counsel in this important matter. Mr. Wheelock, at the post-office, was
one of her particular friends; he would be able to tell her exactly what
was to be done.

She found that gentleman sitting on the steps of the post-office,
smoking a calabash pipe, and sunning himself placidly while he waited
for the noon mail.

“What have you got there?” he called out.

“I want you to tell me something, Mr. Wheelock.”

“How many calves’ tails it takes to reach the moon?” said the old man,
facetiously. “No? What is it to-day, then?”

“I can’t tell you here. Come inside.”

He knocked his pipe out on the step, rose, and followed her as she
skipped back to his little office.

“Now, tell me how to send this away.”

Mr. Wheelock took a pair of steel-rimmed spectacles out of the pocket of
his grey alpaca coat, and put them on. Then he picked up the barrel top
and looked at it in an astonishment that gave way presently to something
like profound admiration.

“Well, I declare! If it ain’t Mrs. Lambert! And its a mighty fine thing,
too. How did you come by this?”

“_Do_ you think it’s good, Mr. Wheelock?” cried Jane, eagerly, her face

“It’s fine,” said Mr. Wheelock, in a tone that indicated that he
considered his opinion quite final. “And on the top of an old flour
barrel, too!” he went on, turning the picture over. “Ain’t that quaint?
Well, now, where did you want it sent?”

Jane sat down and copied out the address for him.

“And you’ll wrap it up _carefully_, Mr. Wheelock?”

“Sure thing. And send it by express, too.”

“And you won’t tell a living soul?”

“Nary a breath. Here, hadn’t you better write your address on the back
of this here pitcher—or somewheres, case it might get lost.”

Jane had nearly forgotten this item. She took a post card, and wrote on
it boldly, “Paul Winkler, Frederickstown, N. C.”

“There, Mr. Wheelock, will you paste that on the back?”

Mr. Wheelock was inspecting the card.

“Paul Winkler! That young feller I seen around here a lot with you
folks? Did he make this pitcher?”

“Yes,” said Jane proudly.

“I declare! Now I call that right smart. If it ain’t Mrs. Lambert to the
life I’ll eat my hat.” And he set it up on his desk again, leaning
against the wall. Jane looked at it intently. If only she knew just
_how_ good it was. She did not feel that Mr. Wheelock was exactly an
authoritative critic—then she remembered again that Paul had said it
wasn’t “so bad,” and that settled her doubts.

It was, in fact, in spite of the crudities of which Paul had been very
well aware, a piece of work that might have done credit to many a more
experienced painter; and there were things in it that neither Jane nor
Mr. Wheelock saw, vigor and harmony and beauty, over and above the
superficial likeness to Mrs. Lambert that Mr. Wheelock found so amazing.

“You’ll send it off right away, Mr. Wheelock? And—and let me know how
much it costs. I can’t pay before Saturday.”

He laughed.

“I’ll try to get along ’til then. Don’t you bother your head, child.”

Satisfied, though full of hope and fear, Jane went home.

The family gathered for its noonday meal, Mr. Lambert taking his seat at
the head of the table, grave and pompous as always in his well-brushed
black coat. The difference of one place seemed to make the table
unnaturally small, and yet no one seemed to notice it. Mr. Lambert
talked about some man that had been in to see him, about the prospects
of the new courthouse being finished, about the harvests. His family
docilely listened to him, interpolating the proper question or remark
here and there. Paul’s name was not mentioned, it being tacitly
understood that such were the wishes of the master of the house.


Paul’s departure left the old problem still unsolved. Well, there was no
help for it; if the family tradition was to be destroyed at last, so it
must be. The time was coming when the ancient name of Winkler should be
erased from the glass window of the Bakeshop, and a stranger’s name put
in its place. Even Granny, usually so little troubled from her serenity
by the vicissitudes of earthly things, seemed to brood over the prospect
with melancholy. But the subject was not discussed so frequently as of
yore, partly because there was little to be gained from such discussion,
and partly because it reminded Mr. Lambert of his nephew’s delinquency
and put him in a bad humor.

As September was always a hot month in that part of the country, school
never began until early in October.

Jane felt utterly lost. Usually so resourceful, so capable of finding
something to amuse her or interest her every minute of the day, she now
went about her tasks indolently, and spent the rest of her time
wandering around listlessly. Several times, she went down to call on Mr.
Sheridan, who trotted her down to see his new Leghorn hens and his six
Jersey cows. He had gone in for farming with his whole soul. He also
discussed the changes he was making in the old house. Yes, he had
decided to live in Frederickstown for good, as his grandfather had done
before him, and his uncle, the Major, had done for many years. No, he
didn’t think so much of solitude as he once had—but then there were
reasons. Yes, he might travel now and then, but that didn’t count. No,
he had not planned to settle permanently in Frederickstown, when he had
first come, but things had happened since then that had changed his
mind. Of course Janey had heard the news. Yes, he was the happiest man
in the world. No, he had never been _really_ in love before. No, he
didn’t think Peterson would ever get married. Jane listened to him with
the half-disdainful interest that one, who has been hardly dealt with by
fate, pays to the cheerful talk of the fortunate. Their positions were

Jane was almost sorry that everything had gone so smoothly with Lily and
Mr. Sheridan—she would have liked to have some complications to work on.
It also seemed to her hardly dignified in Mr. Sheridan to have abandoned
his pessimism so readily—whatever the cause of it might have been. And
now that he was so cheerful and full of plans, he seemed to her less
interesting than he had been before.

She was on pins and needles waiting for news of what had befallen Paul’s
picture. She had allowed no one to share this secret which was
absolutely her own, and her restless eagerness to hear was increased by
not having anyone with whom to speculate on the chances of its success
or failure.

No word had come from Paul. Where he was, what he was doing, how he was
living were unknown to the family.

One fine, sunny day Aunt Gertrude declared that she was going to shut up
shop and take a holiday.

“Come, we’ll take Dinah and the old wagon, and go out to the country.
Elise, you and Jane can make up sandwiches. Granny doesn’t want to go,
but Anna will be here to take care of her. Father is going over to
Allenboro, so there doesn’t have to be any lunch cooked here, and Anna
can get Granny’s.”

The prospect of this unexpected spree put everyone, including Jane into
high spirits. Aunt Gertrude roasted two chickens, to be eaten cold,
baked a chocolate cake with marshmallow filling, and boiled eggs, while
Elise and Jane cut and spread enough sandwiches to stay the appetite of
a small army.

At noonday they set out in the old wagon that had made the trip to
Allenboro, Carl driving, with Aunt Gertrude and the twins beside him,
Jane and Elise in the back with the luncheon hamper, books, embroidery
and games.

And away they rumbled. Aunt Gertrude who actually had not been into the
open country lying around Frederickstown in years, had set her heart on
picnicking in one particular spot.

“I remember it from the time when I was a girl,” she said, blushing as
she did so easily. “Long ago we had a picnic there—it’s about a mile
below the Webster’s farm, Carl—I’ll show you—Nellie Webster, and Sam
(she was referring to Dolly’s father and mother) and poor Nannie Muller
and Ben McAllister—just think, they’re all old folk like me, now! And it
was there that I met your father! Think of that now!”

Jane, finding this interesting, moved so that she could kneel behind the
seat, with her elbows on the back.

“Is that really true, Mummy? And did you like him right away? Was he

“Certainly he was handsome—and your father is still a _remarkably_
handsome man, my dear!” said Mrs. Lambert, rather aggressively; and
indeed she firmly believed that her husband was a perfect model of
masculine good looks.

“Yes. Well, go on, Mummy. What did you wear?”

“What did I wear? Well, it’s very queer but I _do_ remember that quite
plainly. I wore a green muslin dress—that very dress, Lisa, that you
found in my old trunk the other day—and a white leghorn hat, with little
pink roses. Lisa, have you any idea what ever became of that hat? No—I
remember now, I trimmed it up again and gave it to you when you were a
little girl—and how sweet you looked in it!”

“I want a hat with pink rothes,” murmured Lottie.

“Don’t interrupt, Lottie. Go on, Mummy. What was Daddy like?”

“Your father,” said Mrs. Lambert complacently, “was a _great_ catch. He
was older than the rest of us, and so dignified. At that time, I
remember, he wore a big moustache—and such a lovely brown. I was quite
afraid of him, and I was sure that he thought me a very frivolous girl,
as I certainly was. But—he didn’t seem to mind. And that night, there
was a lovely big moon, and the hay had just been cut—and he took me

That seemed to be the end of the story; Mrs. Lambert stopped, and a
thoroughly sentimental smile spread over her youthful face. Lisa sighed.
She was, if possible, even more sentimental than her mother, and in the
hours that her flaxen head was bent over her incessant handiwork, it was
filled with imaginings of romantic scenes, and dashing young gentlemen
like Walter Scott’s heroes. She liked the portion of her mother’s
artlessly told romance that touched on the moon and the new-mown hay,
but for herself she would have preferred a smooth-shaven hero to one
with the dragoon’s moustache that her mother so greatly admired.

“Now, Carl, you drive along this road to the left,” said Mrs. Lambert.
“It’s all changed very little. I remember that rock, _perfectly!_ And we
can lead Dinah off from the road and hitch her to a tree. And here we
all get out.”

So out they got, and Carl tied Dinah to a tree, while his sisters took
the impedimenta out of the wagon. Mrs. Lambert holding a twin with each
hand, lead the way along a shady path that skirted the bank of a
meandering stream. The shadow of a grove of trees lay over the long
grass; on each side of the stream stretched meadows colored with patches
of golden-rod, and red pepper-grass; in the apple-trees the fruit was
already bright red among the green leaves; the sun was warm, and the
wind caressing.

“This is the very place—these are the very trees,” said Mrs. Lambert.
“And now we shall all have lunch,”—this in a brisk, practical voice, for
notwithstanding her romantic memories, Mrs. Lambert was hungry.

Elise spread a white cloth out on the grass, weighting it at the corners
with three large stones and “The Vicar of Wakefield.” Carl went to put
the bottles of loganberry juice in the stream to cool, and the others
unloaded the hamper. Then they all sat down to eat. And when they had
eaten all they wanted—that is, until there was nothing left to want—Aunt
Gertrude took a book, pretending that she was going to read, and went to
sleep, Elise took her sewing—pretending that she was going to be
industrious, when she was really going to sit and dream—the twins, took
off their shoes and stockings, and made for the shallow stream like a
pair of ducks; Carl, who had recently acquired some enthusiasm for
natural history, began to look around for specimens of the local flora
and fauna—in the shape of mulberry leaves, and spiders, and Jane rambled
off to see what she could see.

With her hands clasped behind her, she wandered through the trees,
sometimes stopping to smell the ferns that grew in the moist rocks. At
length she reached the edge of the little wood, where the stream, as if
it had been playing a game with her, chuckled pleasantly at having
appeared where she had not expected to find it. Again, on the opposite
bank was the meadow, where now a few brown cows were to be seen in the
distance, placidly munching the grass.

But it was not the cows that interested Jane at that moment; her
curiosity was piqued immediately by a certain peculiar figure under an
oak-tree on the far side of the stream.

This figure was seated on a little camp stool, beneath a green
umbrella—as if the oak tree did _not_ come up to the mark in furnishing
the amount of shade required.

“What _can_ he be doing?” wondered Jane. The odd character had his back
to her so that she could not make out exactly what his occupation was,
and therefore left her no alternative but that of picking her way across
the stream on the stones, and ascertaining his business for herself.

As she approached him her wonder grew. He wore a suit of black and white
checks, an emerald-hued necktie of such proportions that the loops of
the bow were visible even from Jane’s inconvenient angle of sight. But
most remarkable of all, was his hat. It was such a hat as, once seen,
would leave an indelible impression, and yet defied all description. It
can only be said that it was large—extremely large—that it was of straw,
and that it was ornamented with a scarf of a rich and vivid green. But
the jaunty freedom of its lines, the expression of its broad and supple
brim—these were the individualities that distinguished it from all the
other hats ever made by the hand of man.

After a moment or two Jane made out what he was doing. He was painting a
picture. In front of him was a small easel, and on the easel was a small
canvas, and on the canvas was a bewildering blur of colors. On his thumb
he supported a huge palette.

It occurred to Jane that this fellow craftsman of Paul might have heard
of her cousin, and in any event his occupation interested her. She drew
nearer, until she was close enough to watch the airy strokes of his
brushes which he selected from time to time from a large bunch, much as
a golfer selects his clubs.

Presently, evidently hearing some motion on the grass behind him, the
artist looked around and saw her. At once he sprang up, doffing his
wonderful hat.

“Ah! How do you do?”

Jane stared at him, and then said, with dignity,

“How do you do? Am I disturbing you?”

“Not at all! _Not_ at all.”

“Can I watch you?”

“I shall be delighted; though I fear that your interest will be ill
repaid,” he said modestly. “I am, as you see, endeavoring to render my
impressions of the beauty and tranquillity of this charming scene. Ah,
Nature! Nature! there is nothing like Nature, my dear young lady,—you
may take my word for it. I am a great worshipper of Nature—I wear her
colors like a true knight!” And he pointed to the scarf around the crown
of his hat, which, as has been said, was of a green that was surely
never to be met with on land or sea. He resumed his seat on the little
camp stool, under the green umbrella—also, let it be observed, of
Nature’s hue—and Jane, whose curiosity had been much piqued by this odd
little man, settled herself sociably on a hillock. He set to work again,
this time using certain self-conscious little mannerisms, throwing his
head on one side, thrusting out his underlip, pondering over his
palette, and then holding up one finger, saying briskly, “Ah-ha! Now
I’ve got it!” and impetuously dashing a blob of paint onto the meek
canvas, which seemed to have had already far more trouble than it

Jane looked at him intently. He was a little man, of twenty-six or
seven, with a rosy face, a pug nose, and bright blue eyes, like pieces
of Dutch china. His straw colored hair was combed down on his forehead,
curled slightly around his ears, and grew down the nape of his neck. He
wore a tiny moustache, which seemed to have no kinship with either his
hair or his eyebrows, for where these last were almost flaxen, the stiff
fringe on his upper lip was as red as rust. Yet he was a pleasant
looking young man; the simplicity and earnestness of his expression,
even his frank satisfaction with himself, made one like him in spite of
all his absurdities.

“Now, you’re putting in the cows, aren’t you?” inquired Jane,

“Yes, indeed. I am going to put in three cows—three is rather a symbolic
number, you know. Faith, Hope and Charity—Good, Better, Best, so—so many
things run in threes. I should like to suggest the number Three to the
spectator—in fact, that’s really what I’m driving at.”

It seemed a quaint idea to Jane, but original.

“Do you—do you live in Frederickstown?” she ventured, presently.

“No. I regret to say that I am not a native of these delightful
environs,” said he, “I am a bird of passage.” He looked at her
thoughtfully as he repeated this definition of himself, evidently
wondering how she liked “birds of passage.”

“You mean you don’t live anywhere?”

“Just that. All Nature is my home—the trees, the rocks—”

“You _live_ in trees and rocks?” gasped Jane, looking at his dapper
little suit, and wondering how it withstood the strain of such habits.

“Figuratively speaking. I confess that at times I inhabit—hotels.
Deplorable as such necessity is, still it exists.”

“Yes,” said Jane, who did not understand why such a necessity should be
particularly deplorable, “of course.”

The little man looked at her, and then in a confidential tone, remarked,

“I am an enemy to Civilization, Look! Look about you! These noble trees,
this grassy meadow, that purling stream—all are doomed, my dear young
lady. Have you ever thought of that? Civilization will overtake this
natural Paradise—the factory will rise, the stony arms of the City will
crush out the fresh beauty of the flowering mead—even these cows are
slightly civilized already.” And a look of discontent overshadowed his
cheerful, rosy face, as he gazed at the peaceful animals munching the
grass under some distant willow trees.

Just at that moment a series of shrill cries rent the air. Jane sprang
up. There could be no doubt that they came from the spot where she had
left her family. She darted past the little artist, flew along the bank
of the stream, and finally reached the scene of the commotion; though
she was forced to view it from the opposite bank.

This is what had happened: Mrs Lambert, as has been said, had gone to
sleep, and, while Elise had been sitting quietly, with a book in her
lap, a large, black cow had ambled up behind her, and in the friendliest
way in the world had thrust its head over her shoulder. Elise had
promptly screamed; Mrs. Lambert, waking suddenly and seeing the cow, had
screamed also, and then the twins, making mudpies down by the water’s
edge, had added their shrieks to the general uproar. Elise, losing her
presence of mind, had started to run, whereupon, after a moment’s
thought, the cow had followed her.

“One moment! Allow me!” cried a voice behind Jane. “Ladies, be calm!”
And the dapper little figure of “Nature’s Knight” sprang forward, hopped
nimbly across the stepping stones of the stream, clambered up the muddy
bank, and clutching the green umbrella, flew to Elise’s rescue.

He ran around in front of the cow, shouting loudly, recklessly drawing
all the attention of the astounded animal upon himself. By this time the
whole family had collected to watch the proceedings. Carl was chuckling.
Mrs. Lambert was half-weeping, half-laughing, and wringing her hands all
at once. Jane, open-mouthed, followed all the extraordinary actions of
the rescuer, who, making the strangest sounds in his throat, waving his
green umbrella, appeared to be trying to mesmerize the bewildered cow.

But singular as his methods were, the stranger actually succeeded in
coaxing the animal away from Elise, and then began to shoo it across the
field, with such energy and determination that presently it began to
trot and then to gallop until it had vanished out of sight around the
edge of the woods.

Elise, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, and looking rather foolish,
got down from the fence to which she was clinging in desperation, and
timidly thanked the young man, who had again removed his hat with
something of the flourish of an acrobat.

“You aren’t hurt?” cried Mrs. Lambert, rushing to her daughter. “Oh, my
dear, I really don’t think there was any danger at all—I’m sure that was
quite a dear old cow—that is,—I don’t mean that it wasn’t extremely kind
of you, sir, and I’m sure we are all _very_ grateful to you—”

“Madam, I was fortunate to have this opportunity of serving you,” said
the young gentleman, grandiloquently, and then turning to Elise, he
added, with deep concern, “I trust that _you_ feel no ill effects from
this unpleasant adventure—”

“Oh, no—no, indeed, thank you.” Elise, being very self-conscious,
blushed, and looked at her mother as if asking what she should say next.

“Won’t you rest for a moment, sir?” said Mrs. Lambert, “and have
something cooling to drink? Carl, my dear, aren’t there one or two more
bottles of loganberry down in the stream?” And then turning again to the
stranger, who listened very willingly to her invitation to refreshment,
she asked him if she might know his name.

“My name, Madam?” he looked around at them all as if to assure himself
that they were quite prepared for anything that might follow. “My name
is Montgomery,—P. Hyacinth Montgomery!” No one turned a hair. Mrs.
Lambert then told him her name, and that of each member of her family,
and then they all sat down, under the tree.

Very soon all constraint between the Lambert’s and Mr. Montgomery had
quite disappeared. He was an adaptable, sociable person, and with all
his eccentricities and absurdities, had a certain air of wistfulness
that touched Mrs. Lambert. He did not seem at all loath to talk about
himself, especially about his feelings; and the only thing he touched on
rather vaguely was the matter of his native section of the country.

He was in “these environs” only temporarily, he said, and was lodging at
the Red Fox Hotel, between Frederickstown and Goldsboro.

“Why, then,” said Mrs. Lambert, “we can take you part way home, if you
are ready to start soon. We are going in the same direction.”

She could not tell what it was about Mr. Montgomery that seemed to her
pathetic, but whatever it was it inspired the kindly woman to be cordial
and friendly to the odd little man. He accepted her offer eagerly, and
Jane fancied that as he did so he looked timidly at Elise.

While the others were packing up various odds and ends into the picnic
basket, he ran off to collect his own possessions which he had left
under the oak tree up the stream.

“He’s a queer duck,” remarked Carl, carefully sorting out his specimens
of plant and animal life.

“Can _I_ have a hat with a green thcarf?” demanded Lottie.

“I’ll borrow his suit to play chess on,” added Carl.

“Hush! Carl,—don’t make fun of him,” said Mrs. Lambert, smiling in spite
of herself. “He seems to be a very good-hearted young man. Here he comes

All flushed and panting, Hyacinth appeared with his numerous burdens;
but notwithstanding the fact that he was laden like a camel with his
box, and stool and easel and umbrella, he insisted upon carrying Elise’s
books, and even offered to manage the basket _somehow_.

Just why, each and every one of the Lamberts felt a distinct liking for
the ridiculous P. Hyacinth it would be hard to say, yet that they did
was evident. And on his part, he seemed upon half an hour’s acquaintance
to feel as much at home with them all as if he had known them all his

As they rumbled and bounced back to town he chattered happily and
confidingly to them all, but for Elise he reserved some of his choicest
thoughts on the beauties of nature.

“Yes,” said Mrs. Lambert, when he had finally parted from them at the
road that led off in a short cut to Goldsboro, after assuring them that
he hoped for nothing more ardently than to renew his acquaintance with
them, “a very nice young man, indeed. Where a good heart is so plainly
beneath it one can forgive a small matter like a checker board

Elise meantime had been thinking over not the checker-board waistcoat
but the orange-colored moustache,

“But it was certainly very brave of him to frighten that bull away,” she
remarked, half as if to herself. Carl shouted.

“A bull! You mean one poor old cow!”

Elise undisturbed by this interruption, added again in a tone as if she
were arguing out his faults and virtues with herself,

“And even if his moustache _was_ queer, he—he had a very nice
complexion.” Then realizing that Jane had overheard this remark, she
blushed a vivid pink, pretended to be looking for her work bag, and then
asked, coldly,

“What are you laughing at, Janey?”

“I?” said Jane innocently; “_I_ wasn’t laughing. Gracious! I wasn’t


The appearances of Mr. P. Hyacinth Montgomery at the Bakery became very
frequent. His devotion to the family increased so rapidly that in a
little while, not a day passed without his calling to inquire
solicitously for the health of all, to talk to Aunt Gertrude, present a
bouquet of wild flowers to Granny (who always had to have them taken out
of her room because they made her sneeze), and play with the twins like
an affectionate uncle.

One day, having noticed the sign on the Bakeshop window, evidently for
the first time, he inquired how the name there happened to be “Winkler,”
when the family name was “Lambert.” He showed so much interest in the
matter that Mrs. Lambert, flattered, gave him a short history of the
family, to which he listened thoughtfully, once murmuring something
about “coincidence.”

“A quaint history,” he remarked.

No member of the household was so blind as not to notice the preference
that Mr. Montgomery showed for the society of Miss Elise, nor her
tell-tale bashfulness when he plucked up sufficient courage to address
her. But Mr. Lambert so plainly disapproved of the young man that not
even his wife dared to open any discussion on the subject with him, for
fear that a violent explosion would result. The old merchant maintained
a stolid silence which all the pathetic efforts of Mr. Montgomery were
powerless to thaw; though now and then Mr. Lambert was inspired to break
it himself in order to utter sarcasms that reduced the poor young man to
the last stage of discomfort and despair, and frequently caused Elise to
weep bitterly in the solitude of her little bedroom. At the same time,
she found something rather agreeable to her romantic taste in this rôle
of unhappy love-lorn maiden.

“You are enjoying a great deal of leisure, Mr. Montgomery,” Mr. Lambert
remarked one evening, looking at the writhing youth over his spectacles.
“Is it a vacation—or a habit?”

P. Hyacinth smiled uncertainly, with a beseeching expression in his
large blue eyes.

“Neither a vacation—nor yet exactly a—a habit, sir. I—I have my own
philosophy of life, as you might say—”

“Ah!—a rather expensive one, I _do_ say,” interrupted Mr. Lambert. “You
are fortunate to be able to afford your philosophy. You expect to remain
for long in these parts?”

“Not _very_ long—that is, I—my plans are not definite.”

“My wife has given me to understand that you are—an _artist_?” Mr.
Lambert observed in a tone that almost overcame the miserable Hyacinth.

“Not really—that is—with me, sir, Art is an—an avocation, as you might

“Ah! And what might your _vo_cation be?”

Mr. Montgomery waved his hand.

“That, sir, is inconstant, variable.”

“I am not surprised that it _is_,” remarked Mr. Lambert, and after that,
he withdrew into his shell of icy silence, evidently waiting for further
developments before he expressed his opinion of P. Hyacinth still more

In Jane, Elise found a highly sympathetic confidante, but even Jane was
prompted to ask frankly,

“But what does he do, Elise? Does he sell his pictures?”

“He does,” cried Elise. “He’s sold _three_! He did a perfectly lovely
design once for a stationer’s advertising calendar—it was a picture of a
girl, he said, with a lot of red roses in her arms. And he did a picture
of some wild animals for a sportsman’s den.”

“And what was the other one?”

“I—he didn’t tell me. We started to talk of something else. Oh, Jane,
are you going to be horrid about him, too?” cried Elise, suddenly
bursting into tears. Then, having grown quite artful where any defense
of her suitor was necessary, she added, “Paul was an artist, and you
didn’t laugh at _him_!” To Jane it seemed hardly worth while to point
out what appeared to her to be the many differences between Paul and Mr.
Montgomery. So she disregarded Elise’s challenge, and putting both arms
around her sister, said half-laughing,

“You know I’m not going to be horrid about him. I like him very much.”

“Do you really, Janey?” asked Elise, brightening. “Oh, Jane you can’t
imagine how unselfish he is. He—he said he’d give up everything for me.
He said he’d break stones in a quarry—boo—hoo!” And here Elise again
dissolved into tears.

“Well, he won’t, dear,” said Jane comfortingly, “I mean—that is—he
probably won’t have to. There are so many other things that he could do,
you see. What else did he say?”

“What else? Oh, well—not very much,” answered Elise, blushing, and
beginning to dimple. “He said that—he—he’d have to have a talk with

“Good gracious! Then he—oh, Elise!”

“Only he’s _so_ afraid of Papa. Of course, Janey, you must understand
that Mr. Montgomery hasn’t—you know—hasn’t—that is, I know he likes me,
but he hasn’t said so. He says he can’t, until he’s talked to Papa; he
says that wouldn’t be honorable. And Papa won’t give him a chance!” And
once more, Elise began to weep gently.

“Don’t cry, Elise darling—father _will_ give him a chance,” said Jane;
but these words of comfort only elicited sobs from Elise.

“That’s what I’m afraid of!” she wailed disconsolately.

This state of affairs seemed hopelessly complicated to Jane. It had no
points in common with the romance of Lily and Mr. Sheridan, and in this
fact Elise found a certain melancholy satisfaction. Elise of course kept
Lily well-posted on the details of her own affair of the heart, and
unconsciously assumed a certain superiority in recounting and describing
her difficulties that almost irritated the sweet tempered and
sympathetic Lily.

“_I_ was very unhappy, too,” said Lily; but Elise shook her head as if
to say, “What opposition did _you_ meet with?”

Jane simply looked on, vastly interested in this new development of
domestic happenings, but exceedingly dubious as to the outcome. Mrs.
Lambert was, of course, deeply sympathetic with her daughter, and Mr.
Lambert feeling that there was a conspiracy among the feminine members
of the household to overcome his objections, became more than adamantine
in his silence.

So matters stood one warm evening, when, notwithstanding the date the
summer still lingered on, perhaps from sheer curiosity to know how the
problem was going to be solved.

Jane, with a book in her lap, was sitting at her window, not reading,
for the light was fading out of the sky, and she was unwilling to light
her lamp, so lovely were these last twilight moments of that mild autumn

Presently, hearing voices in the garden, she thrust her curly head out
of the window.

Elise was sitting on the green bench against the wall; in front of her
stood Mr. Montgomery, who, judging from the open gate, had just made his
appearance. He held his hat in his hand, but Jane, accustomed to having
her attention caught by the green scarf upon it, now noticed with
surprise that the green scarf had been replaced by a black one. Now,
what might be the significance of that? Mr. Montgomery’s tow-colored
hair was slightly disordered, giving yet another reason for one’s
believing that he was in distress of some sort.

“Poor little man, what _can_ be the matter?” wondered Jane, and she
leaned a little farther out so that she could hear some of the

“No, dear Miss Lambert—I feel that I must go,” he was saying in
sincerely miserable accents. “You cannot—I must not flatter myself that
you _can_ feel what this parting means to me. Indeed, desiring your
happiness above all things, I earnestly hope that you are untouched by
_my_ wretchedness! I have come to-night to say farewell to you and your
charming family for whom I could not feel a deeper affection were it my

“Oh, Mr. Montgomery—surely you don’t mean that you are going for good?”
cried Elise.

He drew a heavy sigh. And then, letting his head droop pathetically,

“Miss Lambert, that must be for you to decide. And yet I cannot allow
you—even though my dearest hopes were to be realized thereby—to make any
decision. Miss Lambert, I think you may have guessed my feelings. How
deep and sincere they are I can only prove by my readiness to disregard
them. In short, dear Miss Lambert, I feel my unworthiness to aspire to
the happiness—” here he swallowed his words completely so that Jane
found it impossible to make out what he was saying.

“But where are you going, Mr. Montgomery?” stammered Elise, evidently on
the point of tears again. Her concern and emotion affected P. Hyacinth
deeply and rapidly. Taking a step closer to her, he looked into her

“Are these tears, Miss Lambert—Elise? Is it possible that my departure
is not wholly indifferent to you?” he cried, casting his hat recklessly
on the ground and seizing both her hands.

“Oh, Mr. Montgomery, you know—that it is not,” murmured Elise, freeing
one hand in order to dry her eyes.

“Then,” declared Hyacinth heroically, “I shall—I shall seek an interview
with your parent to-night—”

“You may have an interview immediately, if you want,” announced a bass
voice from the dining-room doorway.

“Jiminy!” gasped Jane, drawing herself back from the window.

The two young people started as if a cannon had exploded beside them.
Mr. Montgomery, minus at least three shades of his rosy color, drew
himself up, and breathed a deep breath. His knees were quaking; yet it
was not without an air of real dignity that he prepared to brave the old

“Wait here, Elise. I think I had better see your father a—alone.”

“Not at all,” said Mr. Lambert again raising his terrifying tones,
“Elise, I wish you to step in here, too.”

Instinctively, Elise clung to Hyacinth’s hand, and like the babes in the
wood, they slowly walked into the dining room.

Mr. Lambert was seated at his desk; and the light coming in through the
window shone upon his glasses so that neither of the quailing young
people could quite see his eyes. There was a ferocious frown between his
bristling grey eyebrows.

“Mr. Montgomery, I heard some of the remarks you were making to my
daughter. I also heard you say that you wanted to see me. I am willing
to listen to anything you have to say—provided that you come to the
point _quickly_!” He brought out the last word so sharply that poor
Hyacinth gasped as if he had been struck by a high wind.

“Yes, sir,” he managed to articulate, faintly; and after this effort
seemed unable to utter a sound.

“Well?” said Mr. Lambert. “Proceed.”

Hyacinth squared his shoulder.

“Mr. Lambert—sir—I—er—I—”

“Do you wish to marry my daughter?”

“Yes, sir. Exactly.”

“Then why don’t you say so?”

“I _do_ say so, sir.”

“And you wish to ask my permission?”

“Yes, sir—just so. I _do_ ask your permission.”

“Well, sir,” said Mr. Lambert, removing his spectacles, and polishing
them slowly on his handkerchief. “It is _not_ granted.”

Here Elise began to weep, but disregarding her distress, Mr. Lambert

“And I should advise you, sir, to keep to that very excellent plan of
yours to depart, at once.”

Notwithstanding the grim look around Mr. Lambert’s mouth, Hyacinth held
his ground heroically.

“Sir, I love your daughter. I think I have a right to ask you why you
object to me as a son-in-law.”

Mr. Lambert turned upon him slowly in his swivel chair, eyed him gravely
from head to foot, and then said,

“Yes. Quite so. You have such a right. Very well, then,—I object to your
clothes, to begin with.”

“Sir,” said Hyacinth, turning a deep pink, “they can be—changed.”

“No doubt,” said Mr. Lambert. “In the second place I object to your
profession,—if you are pleased to call it such.”

“You object to my being an interpreter of nature—an artist, sir?”
stammered Hyacinth. “Surely sir—however that too can be changed.” And he
bowed his head submissively. “In fact, sir,” he added with an ingenuous
expression, “I shall be quite willing to change it.”

“Ah,” said Mr. Lambert. “Well, my dear sir,” a slightly sarcastic smile
illumined his rugged features for a moment, and he rose as if he were
about to finish off the matter, with his final objection, “well, my dear
sir, lastly, I don’t like your name. Perhaps, though” (_very_
ironically), “you can change _that_!”

Hyacinth hesitated a moment, and then said pathetically,

“Don’t you really like it, sir?”

“I can hardly express my feelings about it!” cried Mr. Lambert, losing
patience. “Really, my dear sir—”

“One moment, please,” urged Hyacinth, “I—I _can_ change it—”

“No doubt! No doubt! Perhaps you can change your skin—indeed I should
not be surprised—”

“But really, sir. Allow me to explain. I—well, it is necessary for you
to know sir, that, very often, persons who embrace any line of artistic
activity may desire to assume a fictitious name—”

“I can easily imagine that in many cases regard for their personal
safety would force them to it,” observed Mr. Lambert, drily.

“Precisely. And sir—I confess that heretofore you have known me under a
name that—that is not my own.”

“Not your own!” roared Mr. Lambert. “What the deuce do you mean sir? Not
your own! Then whose is it?”

“No one’s sir, believe me!” cried Hyacinth, backing away from the
indignant old man. “I invented it, sir—”

“And you mean to tell me that you have had the audacity to enjoy my
hospitality under false pretences!—to say nothing of paying court to my

“Pray, sir—one moment!” implored Hyacinth, wringing his hands. “Oh,
don’t misunderstand me—”

“And will you have the goodness to tell me, sir, at once, _what_ and
_who_ you are?” bellowed Mr. Lambert. “Come, I won’t tolerate your

“Oh, my _dear_ Mr. Lambert, don’t, _don’t_ be hasty. I—I don’t know what
I am. But I—”

“What is your name, sir?” shouted Mr. Lambert.

“My name, sir, is—Winkler. P. Hyacinth Winkler. The P. stands for Pol—”

“Winkler!” gasped Mr. Lambert, “_Winkler_!”

“Winkler!” murmured Elise, faintly.

“For Polybius,” continued Hyacinth, not heeding their ejaculations. “I
will conceal nothing from you sir. The P. stands for Polybius. My
sponsors, not I, are to be blamed—”

“Winkler!” repeated Mr. Lambert.

“If you are afflicted with the same sensitiveness of the auditory nerve
that nature bestowed on me,” went on Hyacinth, “you cannot doubt that
there is something in the combination of the word Winkler with the two
polysyllabic names preceding it, which is grating, imperfect—”

“Winkler,” Mr. Lambert was still repeating monotonously.

“Yes, sir. I now perceive the cause of your astonishment. It is a name
with which you have some connection—”

“Will you be good enough to tell me what part of the world you are
from?” demanded Mr. Lambert.

“I was born in the state of Missouri, in the year 1895. My parents were
people of consequence in a humble way. My father had for many years been
the proprietor of a solid business in dyes and textiles—”

“My dear sir, I don’t want your biography,” interrupted Mr. Lambert, but
in a remarkably softened voice. “Your father’s name was—?”

“Samuel Winkler.”

“Samuel? And his father’s?”


“John—Johann! By Jove!” cried Mr. Lambert. And he began to rummage in
the drawer of his desk, bringing to light the large scroll on which was
traced the family tree of the Winklers. Just as he had unrolled it under
Paul’s eyes, he now unrolled it again, and eagerly began to trace the
lines of twigs and branches.

“Here!” he exclaimed, “Samuel Winkler—son of the first Johann—moves to
Missouri in 1817—two sons, Ferdinand and Johann. Ferdinand died 1824.
Johann married, 1850—Samuel, your father, born 1857. Is that right,


“Do you realize,” inquired Mr. Lambert, throwing himself back in his
chair, “that you are the fourth or fifth cousin of my wife? That you
are, in fact, the legal heir—or can be made so by her consent and
yours—to this famous establishment. That, in a word sir,” cried Mr.
Lambert, growing almost too excited to speak distinctly, “if you show
aptitude, and willingness to fit yourself to carry on this business, I
shall withdraw all my objections to you—I will accept you as a
son-in-law—Embrace one another, my children! Bless you a thousand times!
Ah, Heavens! Gertrude!” And almost apoplectic with excitement, Mr.
Lambert sprang up, and actually cutting a caper, flew to the door to
call his wife.

As a matter of fact, he had not far to look; for his roars and bellows
had brought his entire family down to the hall outside the dining-room
door, Jane having informed her mother of the probable nature of the
scene going on within, and a natural concern for the well-being of the
two victims having stirred their sympathy and anxiety.

“Come in! Come in!” cried Mr. Lambert, throwing the door wide.
“Gertrude, my dear, embrace me!” and he promptly hugged his startled
wife. “Jane, kiss your dear sister. Gertrude, salute your son—”

“But w-what—”

“What? What? You ask what? He has been found!” Then suddenly, Mr.
Lambert remembering that actually Hyacinth had not consented to the
conditions of his acceptance at all, turned upon him abruptly.

“I presume, sir, that I am right in believing that you are willing to
lay aside all other interests, and—”

Then seeing Hyacinth and Elise standing by the window, evidently quite
oblivious to his oration, he smiled with positive benevolence.

“I have found a _Winkler_, my dear wife,” he said. “And this time, I
believe,” with a playful glance in the direction of the two at the
window, “a Winkler who—”

“Who will stay put,” finished Jane.

There was no need for much explanation, Mr. Lambert’s tones during the
interview having been of such a quality that not only the entire
household might have heard him, but the neighbors into the bargain.

And thus, as Jane had once prophesied to Paul, the incredible had
happened—the Other Winkler was found.


“And of course _I_ shall lend you my pearl pin,” cried Lily, embracing
Elise for the sixth time. “Oh, I _am_ so delighted! And to think, you
sly girl, that you’re going to be married four whole months before I

“And I,” announced Dolly Webster, taking her turn at embracing the
blushing and dimpling Elise, “_I’ve_ brought you a pair of blue garters.
Annie Lee made ’em, but I sewed on the little pink roses, so they’re
from both of us. And mamma is going to give you the dearest set of tea
cups—though that’s a secret. I _never_ was so surprised at anything in
my life!”

“And your fiancé is charming,” added Amelia, “_so_ interesting. Now, do
let me look at all these pretty things you are making.”

“Well, I want to hear more about all this,” said Annie Lee, sitting
down, and taking off her rain-soaked hat. “Here, my dear, give me some
of your sewing to do. You must be rushed to death.”

“I _am_ rushed—but everyone has been helping. The house is simply upside
down,” said Elise. “Just look at this room! I don’t know how we’re going
to get everything straightened out for the wedding. Papa insists that we
must have a big party here afterwards, but where in the world we’ll find
room to move I don’t know.”

Indeed, since the events recorded in the last chapter, the gentle
routine of the Lambert’s family life had been unhinged at its very
foundations. Everyone knows that the prospect of a wedding has a
thoroughly disturbing influence, and during the weeks of trousseau
making, and festivity-planning, Mr. Lambert’s rules of law and order
were freely and boldly disregarded.

The wedding date was set for early winter,—to this suggestion, Mr.
Lambert had given a ready consent, being anxious to have his son-in-law
firmly attached to the household and his duties as soon as possible, and
the domestic machinery moving once again with its customary smoothness.
At the same time the old merchant desired to have his daughter’s
marriage do him credit. He discussed the preparations fussily; he made
decisions and redecisions on the household articles and heirlooms which
should go to his daughter on her marriage; he even had his opinions on
the bride’s dress. One evening he called her down and presented her with
an ancient silver chain, set with curious, embossed medallions, which
had belonged to his own grandmother—“Now I have the ‘something
old,’”—Elise said, as she showed it proudly to her friends—: another
time, on his return from a trip to Allenboro, he brought her a pair of
tiny blue silk slippers, so small that no woman of the modern generation
could possibly have pressed her feet into them. Altogether, his
satisfaction was so profound that at times he was positively kittenish,
and teased the young lovers with elephantine playfulness. He no longer
saw in his prospective son-in-law and distant relative those
eccentricities that had annoyed him so excessively. He called Hyacinth,
Polybius—a name, which in his opinion had classic dignity—and treated
him with a solemn regard that disconcerted the young man even more than
his former sarcasm.

Everyone was pleased. Letters of a most friendly and cousinly nature had
been exchanged with the family of the bridegroom who did not hesitate to
express very frankly their surprise and delight in that young man’s
unlooked for good sense in choosing the bride he had, and in preparing
to lay aside his artistic whimsies in favor of a solid and thriving

Hyacinth had been exhibited to all the Lamberts’ neighbors; he had been
approved and congratulated. Frederickstown received him amiably into its
midst. He had bought a calm, dark blue suit, and was growing a small
beard to give some air of age and authority to his rosy, youthful face.
He spent much of his time at the warehouse with Mr. Lambert where he sat
and listened gravely to the talk of the other merchants, spoke rarely,
but always with a judicious, reflective manner, which was positively

“A fine young man, who’ll be a credit to you, Mr. Lambert, and as good a
husband as any young lady could wish,” was the general opinion of the
new Winkler.

He had been admitted to the secrets of the Bakery, and here his talents
shone. Here he proved his claim to his descent, exhibiting a genius for
cake-making that might in time rival that of old Johann himself. He had
already invented three new recipes; and so great was his enthusiasm that
he actually sat up at night thinking out new mixtures. He had found the
natural outlet for his creative instinct, and his whole soul was
possessed with an ardor for increasing the name and fame of his house.

But it was not without a slight shadow of resentment that Jane, although
she was sincerely fond of her future brother-in-law, saw him usurping
the place that had been Paul’s. Now Paul seemed to be entirely
forgotten; his place was filled; in the flurry of preparations even Aunt
Gertrude did not have a thought to spare for him. It was as if he were
no longer a member of the family at all, as if his life and theirs had
no connection. How could they feel that way, Jane wondered indignantly.
And to cap all, she had heard no news of the fate of the picture. She
was bitterly disappointed, for even while she had tried to pretend that
she had no reason to hope for much, she had really been building all
sorts of delightful imaginings on her unshakable belief that it _would_
win a prize.

But Jane was too entirely feminine not to be diverted, and greatly
absorbed by the plans for the wedding; and on that rainy, windy
afternoon, she busily pricked her fingers trying to make tiny stitches
in the pretty, simple lingerie that she was helping Elise to make, and
listened eagerly to the chattering of the other girls who were all
talking and asking questions at once.

The brisk, kindly Annie Lee promptly fitted a thimble on her finger and
took up the piece of muslin that Elise had been hemming. The two engaged
ladies exchanged open confidences for the benefit of all, while Dolly
sat by munching chocolates from the box of candies that she herself had
brought as an offering to the bride-to-be.

“Now, do tell about the wedding,” she said, giving a bounce of
anticipation. “Have you started on your dress?”

“Oh, yes—and Granny has given me a lovely piece of lace. Wait, I’ll show
you. Janey, dear, will you go and put the kettle on, and I’ll make some
tea in a little—you dear girls have gotten soaked coming to see me.”

Then the half-finished wedding dress was taken out of its box, and held
so high that its immaculate cream-colored flounces should not touch the

“It was mother’s,” Elise explained. “And I’m just altering it a little,
so it will not look very old fashioned—but I can’t bear to change it,
and I think it’s lovely as it is.”

“It’s _delicious_!” cried Lily.

“I wouldn’t _think_ of changing it,” said Annie Lee. “Why that’s just
the style that suits you. You’ll look lovely!”

“I suppose it was once white,” said Amelia, “but still, that cream-color
is very nice—though a pure white would be more to my taste.”

“What are you talking about, Amelia—that old ivory shade is a _thousand_
times nicer than dead white. Hold it up against you, Lisa.”

Aunt Gertrude’s wedding dress was made of silk, with a tight little
bodice and a huge skirt, brave with flounces and gathers; and above its
mellow ivory-colored tones Elise’s flaxen hair shone like gold. Lily,
Dolly and Annie Lee were loud in their raptures over her plump, blooming
prettiness, but Amelia looked on with a rather strained smile.

“Now, put it back in the box, or you’ll soil it,” said Annie Lee. “And
_I_ shall help Janey with the tea; you can’t do half a dozen things at

Over the tea-cups these feminine tongues rattled on still more
exuberantly. Amelia drew attention to the probable differences in the
futures of the two brides-to-be, and wondered which would be the
happier, then Annie Lee began to tease her about some imaginary suitor
whom she declared was languishing for Amelia.

“What nonsense! What are you saying? Whoever heard of such a thing!”
cried Amelia, but she was immensely pleased, and put on a mysterious
expression meant to convey to them that there was more truth in their
pleasantries than they were aware of.

“Tell me,” she said, presently, with a lively air, “what has become of
that delightful cousin of yours?”

“You mean Paul?” inquired Jane, looking up stolidly enough, but with a
grin twitching at the corners of her lips.

“Yes. I met him out at your dance last winter, Dolly,” said Amelia, “and
he was really charming to me. We had many dances together—such an
interesting boy!”

Even Elise bent her head to conceal a smile at the mention of the “many
dances” Paul and Amelia had had together. She had heard Paul’s account
of that pleasure.

“Why, Amelia! did you set your cap at Paul? I’m surprised at you. And he
was only a child!”

“Dear me—how can you say such things, Elise,” cried Amelia coyly. “I—”

“I wish I could tell him that you asked about him,” added Elise, “I know
it would make him very happy.”

“Nonsense! I’m sure he wouldn’t care in the least! But tell me what has
become of him.”

“He went away last month—or six weeks ago,” said Elise, briefly,
glancing at Jane. “Isn’t that Papa just coming in, Janey? It must be
after five.”

“After five!” cried Lily, “then I have to run, dear. Mamma didn’t want
me to come at all in this rain—”

“We’ve got to go too, so we’ll take you home, Lily,” said Annie Lee.
“Come along, Amelia. We may drop in to-morrow, Lisa, and Mama says that
if you want any extra sewing done that Roxie can do it easily.”

Mr. Lambert entered the dining room just after the four girls had gone.
There was a peculiar expression on his face—a mixture of annoyance,
pleasure and pride, and he seemed to take no notice of the disorder of
the room as he kissed his two daughters, and asked them to give him a
cup of tea.

“And, Jane, call your mother. Where is Carl?”

“I think he came in just a moment ago, father. He has been out walking.”

“Well, well. Well, I’ve got a piece of news—quite a piece of news, I
must say.” Still, he seemed in no hurry to part with it, and Jane and
Elise were left to exchange inquiring glances behind his back, until
Mrs. Lambert and Carl had obeyed the summons of the master of the house.

“And what is this piece of news, Peter?” asked his wife, at length. They
all looked up at him, as he stood in front of the fire, drinking his

“Well, I must say I am very much surprised. And yet not so much
surprised either. I had an idea that there was something in the boy, and
that was one reason I wanted to let him have his own rope for a while—”

“Daddy!” cried Jane, springing up, “is it about _Paul_?”

Mrs. Lambert looked at her with a little frown and a shake of the head,
but Jane did not see these warning signs.

“Why, yes,” said Mr. Lambert, smoothing his beard. “The boy, it seems
won a third prize in that competition. I found the letter in the mail
that was left at my office—”

“Daddy!” shrieked Jane. “Oh, let me see! It isn’t—it can’t be true—”

“Don’t yell like that, Jane!” admonished Carl.

“I will—I _must_ yell! Oh, mother, darling, isn’t it—”

“Sh, Janey! Of course it is wonderful news—”

“But Paul doesn’t know anything about it. Oh, Daddy, where is he? Why
he—” “_I_ don’t see how it could be—since his picture was burnt up,”
observed Carl. This fact had so far not occurred to anyone.

“That’s true!” exclaimed Mr. Lambert. “Do you imagine that there is a
mistake after all?” And his face fell slightly. He was inordinately
proud of the honor that had redounded to the family from his discredited
nephew’s achievement.

“No, _no_! There’s no mistake!” cried Jane. “It wasn’t the burnt
picture—it was the other one—the one he did on top of the flour barrel.
Don’t you remember, Mummy?”

“How do _you_ know?”

“Why, because I sent it off. After Paul had gone—and he doesn’t know

“Well, well—the boy must learn of this, somehow,” said Mr. Lambert. “It
was absurd of him to fly off in a temper as he did—but that’s the way of
young people. Gertrude, my dear, I think it would be quite proper to
have a notice of this inserted in the _Frederickstown Star_. In fact, I
dropped by on my way home this evening, and told Jim Braintree about it,
and he’s putting it in on the front page to-morrow. ‘Well,’ he said to
me, ‘I certainly must congratulate you, Peter Lambert.’ The prize by the
way was seventy-five dollars. Not bad for a youngster—by Jove!
Frederickstown will have reason to boast of this family for a good many
years to come, _I’m_ thinking!” And the worthy old man swelled almost
visibly with pride, as if in some way he was entirely responsible for
the new honor that had been bestowed upon his house.

In fact, not even Jane herself was more delighted than her father who
less than a year before had angrily consigned the prize-winning picture
to dust and oblivion behind his desk.

But it was all very well to say that Paul must learn of his success.
Where was he? For all that they knew, for all that anyone knew, he might
at that very moment have been once again on the ocean, or in New Zealand
or Timbuctoo. This sad possibility somewhat dampened Jane’s boundless,
blissful rapture; and yet she declared stoutly that she had a feeling in
her bones that Paul was coming back—

“And if he does come back, Daddy,” she asked timidly, “will you—will it
be all right?”

“I haven’t the slightest doubt that as soon as he gets over his little
fit of temper, he will return,” replied Mr. Lambert. “He must be running
short of money now, indeed—”

“_That_ won’t bring him back!” interrupted Jane.

“Well, well, I am sure that he will feel—I am sure that he will
realize—that he has acted very impetuously—and—and will do the sensible
thing,” said Mr. Lambert a trifle impatiently. “And now, Jane, will you
bring me my slippers!”


The weeks which seemed so long to Elise and Hyacinth, and so desperately
crowded to Aunt Gertrude (who was quite as excited and flustered as if
she were going to be married herself) _we_ can skip over at will. It is
enough to say that within them the old house underwent such a cleaning
and scrubbing and furbishing up as it had not known in five and twenty
years. Mr. Lambert talked of building a new wing for the newly married
couple. The floors were scrubbed and freshly oiled, the brass and pewter
was polished until the antique household wares fairly winked at you
through the glass doors of the cupboards. The woodwork was rubbed until
it shone like satin; fresh curtains went up at the windows, carpets were
beaten, the front door and the window frames received a fine new coat of
green paint, and Mr. Lambert himself put on a new latch to the door of
the Bakery. And when these wonders had been accomplished, Aunt Gertrude
entrusted the proprietorship of the Bakery to Hyacinth and Anna, and
solemnly shut herself up to make the wedding cake. It was to be such a
wedding cake as Frederickstown had never seen before—a mammoth delicacy,
destined to be long remembered, composed of spices and raisins and
citron and nuts, all buried under a snowy frosting, and artistic
decorations designed by the versatile Hyacinth, who was allowed to
contribute to this part of it, only.

And then came the day when the Samuel Winklers arrived, and took up
their quarters at the Red Fox Inn, midway between Frederickstown and
Goldsboro. And after they had paid their respects to their cousins, and
presented their daughter-in-law-to-be with innumerable gifts, there was
a party in their honor, at which Granny presided with the greatest
dignity and Mr. Lambert proposed no less than eighteen toasts which were
enthusiastically drunk in blackberry wine. In fact, the wedding
festivities in honor of a union which restored the house of Winkler to
its former state of security threatened to completely disorganize the
delighted community.

At last the sixth of December—the wedding-day—was come.

In accordance with a time-honored custom, the ceremony was performed at
eight o’clock at night. And what a night it was! The first snow of the
winter had fallen, covering streets and house-tops with a thick, soft,
sparkling mantle. And like a Russian bride, Elise returned from the old
church with the sound of sleigh bells jingling in the clear, frosty air.

A beautiful bride she was, too, rosy and golden-haired and blue-eyed;
and as for Hyacinth! with a flower in his button-hole, with his hair all
sleek and glossy, with such an expression of importance and
sedateness—it was no wonder that his parents gazed upon him with eyes
actually moist with pride, and Elise thought him a matchless paragon
amongst men.

No one knows to this day how all the guests that came managed to crowd
themselves into the old house, but they did, and no less than thirty of
them sat down at the table with the bride and bridegroom. There was
scarcely one imprint of footsteps in the new-fallen snow that night that
did not point in the direction of the Bakery.

A little after nine o’clock, the musicians arrived, Tom Drinkwater with
his fiddle, and Mr. Mellitz with his trombone in a huge green felt case,
and Frank Fisher with his harp and old Mr. Gilroy with his cello. They
settled themselves in a corner, tuned up a bit, and then the dancing

It was with immeasurable pride that on this occasion, Mr. Lambert
welcomed Mr. Sheridan amongst his guests—Mr. Timothy Sheridan, nephew to
the late Major, and of a family that had had its roots in Frederickstown
as long as the Winklers themselves, or nearly. Lily was a bridesmaid,
and it was with her that Mr. Lambert himself started the dancing. Mrs.
Deacon was there, gorgeous in purple and plumes, the Websters in a solid
phalanx—in fact there was not a face that was familiar in Frederickstown
that was not to be seen that night glowing with satisfaction and good
will and personal enjoyment under the roof of the Lambert-Winkler

It was when the general merriment was at its height that Jane, laden
with a tray of refreshments approached the overheated musicians who were
scraping and blowing and thumping away in that corner of the dining room
from which Mr. Lambert’s desk—as an article that harmonized too little
with the elegance of the occasion—had been temporarily banished.

“In another four or five years or so, we’ll be making music at _your_
wedding no doubt—if we live, eh?” said old Elias Gilroy at last laying
aside his cello for a moment, to take a long draught of cider. When he
came out of the mug, wiping his grizzled moustaches delicately on a blue
polka dot handkerchief he winked merrily at Jane, who had sat down
beside him.

“And why aren’t you twirling round with the boys, my lassie?” he went on
affectionately, now helping himself to a gigantic slice of cake.

“I came over to watch you—and besides, I’d rather look on,” said Jane,
carefully smoothing out the skirt of her new blue silk dress. “Shall I
get you some more cider, Mr. Gilroy?”

“Well—I’ll not trouble you,” said he, uncertainly, “though if there’s
plenty to be had—”

“There’s lots. There’s lots and lots of everything!” cried Jane. “I’ll
bring a pitcher!”

When the enthusiastic musicians had had “fresh heart put into ’em” as
Mr. Gilroy said, she stood by watching them tune up their instruments
for a new onslaught on the famous, lively measures of “Old Uncle Ned.”

“Oh, I _do_ wish I could make music out of that big thing!” she cried
pointing to the cello.

“You have to be born to it,” replied Mr. Gilroy solemnly, sawing away
with all his might. “It’s an easier matter to blow a tune through that—”
he jerked his head in the direction of Mr. Mellitz’s gleaming trombone,
whose huge tones fairly drowned out the voices of the other instruments.
Mr. Mellitz, though he might have taken offense at the disparaging
manner in which his colleague referred to his instrument, seemed not to
have heard Mr. Gilroy’s remark. He sat behind the other three, directly
under the window, staring fixedly down the shining tube of the trombone
at his music;—a meager, melancholy looking man, little given to sociable
conversation, with a tallow-colored face which just now was swollen out
as he forced all the breath in his lean body into the mouthpiece.

“Why,” wondered Jane, “did he choose to play the trombone?”

With her hands folded in her lap, she sat watching him fixedly, as he
pushed his slide up and down. All around her people were dancing,
eating, drinking, talking, laughing. People were leaving, people were
coming—she was not thinking about them—she was not even thinking about
solemn Mr. Mellitz nor of how Mr. Gilroy coaxed his deep, sweet tones
out of the frayed strings of his old cello.

She was wondering where Paul was. The very gaiety of the family reunion
made her feel the absence of the outcast all the more keenly. Her
cheerful hope of his return had waned steadily during the past weeks.
There was no news of him, although Mr. Lambert himself had tried to
trace him. No, he was gone.

“Well, my lassie, if you watch us hard enough no doubt you’ll learn a
thing or two about it,” remarked Mr. Gilroy, when the music came to a
stop at the end of the dance, and the musicians mopped their perspiring
faces. “Here, take this bow, since you’re so curious, and have a try at
it, while I breathe easy a moment or two.” He put the neck of his cello
into her hand, and showed her how to press her fingers on the strings.

“Now, just take the bow so—like this, see? That’s better—and _bite_ the
string with it—”

Jane laughingly tried to do as she was told, but the sound that the
instrument emitted under her touch showed only too plainly that sweetly
as it could sing under the fingers of Mr. Gilroy it had a very different
temper for rash amateurs.

As she looked up, laughing, into the old man’s face, she suddenly caught
her breath in a gasp. Through the window, just behind the long head of
Mr. Mellitz, it seemed to her that she had seen a face—though the next
moment it had disappeared.

“What is it?” inquired Mr. Gilroy, noticing her frightened expression.
“Aren’t seeing ghosts are ye?” he added jocosely.

Jane shook her head, but she looked again, uneasily, at the window.
There was nothing there but the reflection of the interior of the
room—Anna taking plates of the table, two or three older men standing by
the fire, the silhouettes of the musicians’ heads, her mother hurrying
in to see about something and then hurrying out again, people moving
past the door.

Then, all of a sudden, there it was again! Fantastically white, it
seemed to Jane, and apparently without any body accompanying it, so that
it looked like a mask suspended outside the window. She sprang up in a
fright, not thinking for a moment that it might be no more than the face
of some inquisitive wayfarer, who had stolen into the garden to peer in
upon the festivities.

All at once, hope, fear, doubt and joy broke over her.


The cello fell over onto the floor with an indignant “thrum-m!” as she
darted forward. The next moment, she had opened the door, and stood upon
the snowy step, looking eagerly about in the shadows of the garden.

“Paul! Paul! Are you there?”

A figure moved out of the darkness, into the shaft of light that
streamed through the open door.

“Janey!” She heard the unmistakably familiar short laugh as she flung
herself into his bear-like hug.

“You’ve come back! I knew it! I knew you would!” she cried, patting his
shoulders and the wet, rough sleeves of his shabby coat in a perfect
ecstasy of delight. “Oh, Paul—come in! come in quickly!” But he drew

“No, no Janey. I can’t do that. But what’s going on, anyway?”

“Why, Paul—don’t you know? It’s Elise—Elise’s wedding. And what do you
think? There’s another Winkler after all—Oh, you’ve got to come in,

“No; Janey—I can’t,” he repeated firmly. “I’ll come back again some day,
as I promised—but not now. I can’t do it now. I only stopped to look
in—I’m on my way down to Riverbury—there’s a fellow down there who says
he has some work for me, if I want to come. I—I just stopped to peek in,
thinking that perhaps I’d see you all sitting around the fire. A fine
wedding guest I’d make,” he added laughing. “I’d be a worse
mortification to Uncle Peter than ever I was. No, Janey, I can’t. Walk
in there like this? The black sheep of the family coming in like a
vagabond at the wedding feast?”

Indeed, he was shabby enough—and in his laugh was a tell-tale note of
something like shame. It stung his pride not a little to have even Janey
see the plain evidences of the rather unsuccessful struggle he had been
waging with circumstances. He wore the same old seaman’s cap, the same
old short, thick jacket—but frayed edges, patches, and empty buttonholes
did not escape Janey’s eyes, and he knew it, and tried to draw out of
the light. He was much thinner too, and even a trifle taller, so that
his garments, which had never fitted him kindly were now still looser in
the places where they had once been much too loose and tighter where
they had once been much too tight. He felt also that the light showed
only too plainly the traces that actual hunger had drawn in his face,
and of these he was more ashamed than of his clothes.

“You mustn’t stand out here, Janey—you’re shivering in that thin dress.
And I must say good-bye—you’ve left the door open, and here come some

Janey glanced over her shoulder. Through the door from the hall, her
father was entering the dining room, with Elise, followed by Hyacinth
and Aunt Gertrude, and then the remaining guests. The ceremony of
solemnly drinking the bride’s health was about to take place. Granny sat
at the head of the table.

“How lovely Elise looks,” said Paul, “and how nice it is to see them
all. There’s Mrs. Deacon—and Lily and Mr. Sheridan—and there’s my
friend, Amelia. Is that fellow with the beard the bridegroom?”

“That’s Hyacinth. And he’s a Winkler—a real true Winkler, Paul. I found

“Did you?” said Paul, laughing, “I’m not surprised.”

“Only I didn’t know he was a Winkler—so it doesn’t count—”

“Here comes Uncle Peter! He’s seen you, Janey. Good-bye, dear.” But she
held both his hands tightly.

“I won’t let you go! I won’t, Paul! You don’t understand. It’s all

Just then, Mr. Lambert pushed the half-open door wide.

“Jane! What are you doing? Come in at once—you’ve chilled the whole

Everyone had turned, and was staring in amazement, as Jane pulled Paul
to the threshold, under her father’s very nose.

“What’s this?” cried Mr. Lambert, seizing his nephew by the arm.

“It’s—me, Uncle,” said Paul. “I am going. I only—”

“Going!” cried Mr. Lambert. “Going! Not at all! Come in! Come in!”

The next thing that the bewildered Paul was conscious of was that he was
standing inside the room, facing the table full of guests, with his
uncle’s arm jovially embracing his shoulders, Jane clinging to his hand,
and everyone exclaiming over the returned prodigal.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” announced Mr. Lambert, but his speech was cut
short, as Aunt Gertrude rushed forward to kiss the utterly dazed,
uncomprehending, and horribly embarrassed boy.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” Mr. Lambert began again, “you are aware, I
think, of the recent honor bestowed upon my nephew—an honor which is
shared not only by his family, but by this community of which he is a
part!” The remainder of the speech, no less than its resounding
introduction was pure Greek to Paul, who stood with his long arms
dangling, helplessly, and with open mouth, gazing from face to face, as
if trying to piece out the solution of the mystery.

Then everyone began to clap their hands. His appearance had for the time
being absorbed all interest. Granny, almost hidden behind the towering
wedding cake, which had just been brought on to be cut, pulled him to
her, and kissed him. Carl, looking very clean and spruce in his new
suit, and snowy collar and polished shoes, shook hands with him. Elise
embraced him, regardless of her silk dress, and her flowers and her
veil; Hyacinth, looking abnormally solemn and important—the exuberant
nature lover and enemy of civilization had miraculously vanished to give
place to one of the most civilized and sedate of young men—Hyacinth
shook his hand, and said something very incoherent and flowery about the
pleasure and honor of meeting his distinguished cousin, and about their
being in some sense, kindred spirits.

And then Paul, understanding nothing whatever, not at all sure that he
was not dreaming, but feeling as happy as he was puzzled, took his place
beside his uncle, to drink the health of the bride, and long life to the
name of Winkler. It was nice to be there, to see all the familiar faces,
to hear the familiar voices—above all it was good to have his part in
this celebration of family happiness, to feel that these were his kin
folk whose joys and sorrows must affect his life just as his affected
theirs. But why was it that the glances that he met shone with pride?
What had _he_ done? Why were they not ashamed of him as he stood there,
tattered and muddy—the very picture of the aimless, shiftless wanderer
that his father had been before him? He blushed for himself, feeling
vaguely that he ought not to be there, after all, that he should have
resisted Jane and Mr. Lambert and gone his way. He looked around the
familiar room,—above the chimneyplace hung the old, clumsily executed
portrait of Great-grandfather Johann, in his snuff-colored Sunday suit—a
severely pleasant-looking old man, with a constant expression of honesty
and self-respect—who now seemed to gaze down placidly and commendingly
upon the united gathering of his descendants. He had worked for them,
had old Johann Winkler; it was his industry, his self-respect, his
respect for the opinions of his fellow-citizens that had laid the
foundations of their comfort and prosperity and their good standing in
the community; from him had come the simple principles upon which they
lived and worked together. And Paul felt, as he looked up into the
painted blue eyes that old Johann would have dealt harshly with those
who disregarded family responsibilities, or brought any shadow of public
censure upon the name. And there, under those keen little blue eyes, he
stood, ragged and disreputable-looking, and the keen little blue eyes
seemed to ask him, “What does this mean, sir?” Yet, Uncle Peter had
bidden him to the feast, and was even now filling the glass in front of

And then the toasts were drunk, and the glasses clinked, and the wedding
cake was cut. And after that, Elise went up to her room to change her
dress, for the sleigh was at the door, and it was high time that the
bride and bridegroom should be on their way. Of peculiar interest, the
fact should be chronicled that when the ascending bride tossed her
bouquet over the bannisters into the midst of her maids, Dolly and
Amelia, and Lily, and Annie Lee, it was Amelia who caught the nosegay!

And at last, the sleigh with its jingling bells had driven swiftly away
over the snowy road. The last handful of rice had been flung; the last
guest had gone, and Aunt Gertrude stood laughing and weeping over the
flight of the first of her little flock—though indeed Elise and her
Hyacinth were going no farther than Salisbury, and would be back in two

Paul and Jane stood side by side on the rice-strewn steps looking up the
moonlit street.

“Mr. Daniels is building a porch on his house, isn’t he?” remarked Paul,
quickly detecting the little alterations that had occurred on that
familiar street since his going.

“Come in, children,” said Aunt Gertrude, “come in, my dears, and let me
count you all to make sure that no more than one has run away from me!”

And when they had all gathered around her in the old dining room in the
midst of the gay disorder of the wedding-feast, she made a pretense of
counting them, laughing and crying at the same time.

“Here is my Jane and my Carl, and my two sleepy twinnies! That’s
four—and here’s my missing fifth!” And she gave Paul an extra kiss.

Paul looked around him. Then turning to his uncle he said;

“Uncle Peter, you’ve been very kind to me. I had no intention to come in
here to-night—I only stopped to look in at you all—and I’m afraid I
wasn’t anything to be proud of at Elise’s wedding—”

“Come, my boy, no more of that!” said Mr. Lambert briskly; then he came
closer to Paul, and laying his hand on his shoulder looked keenly into
the lean, and somewhat haggard face.

“You’ve not found life easy since you went away?” he asked kindly.

“Not too easy, sir—and not so bad either,” returned Paul, sturdily.
“I’ve been out of luck a bit lately, but I’m on my way now to Riverbury.
There’s a man there that has good, honest work for me. With a little
time, sir, I hope—”

“Why should you be on your way to Riverbury for work when there’s work
enough in this town, and a comfortable home for you?”

Paul looked uncertainly from face to face, and then at his uncle again.

“It’s here that your people have lived these many years,” went on Mr.
Lambert. “It’s here that those who are proud of you live now,—”

“_Proud_ of me?” repeated Paul; then he hung his head as he said in a
low voice, “It is not long since that you showed me you had good reason
to be ashamed of me, sir. I was only hoping that in a little I might
do—I might be of some account, sir—as _he_ would expect,” and he jerked
his head as he spoke toward the picture of old Johann.

“My boy, I do not say but that I may have judged you over-harshly for
what to other men might seem a light enough indiscretion. I thought
you—a scatter-brained lad that thought too little of things that old men
know to be worth valuing. I had but little sympathy with your notions,
and was angered that you should prattle of pictures and what-not
when—ah, well, let all that be forgotten.”

“But Daddy!” cried Jane suddenly, “Paul doesn’t know!”

“Doesn’t know what?”

“Let _me_ tell him! Let me tell him! It’s your picture, Paul—”

“What picture?” asked Paul, with a puzzled frown, looking down at her
eager little face.

“It won, Paul! Don’t you understand—it won! And we’re all so proud of
you—and it was in the papers—only we didn’t know where you were, and—”

“What _are_ you talking about, Janey?” demanded Paul, cutting short this
rush of breathless words. “_My_ picture won? What picture? Won what?”

“The other one—the one that wasn’t burnt—oh, don’t _anybody_ interrupt
me! I want to tell him every bit. And they said that ‘in spite of many
something-or-other faults it showed’—I’ve forgotten what—they said it
was awfully, awfully good—oh, I don’t know where to begin!”

“Begin at the beginning, darling. No one will interrupt your story,”
said Aunt Gertrude, drawing Jane to her. “And Paul’s not going to run

So Janey took a deep breath and commenced afresh; while Paul listened,
first growing pale, and then blushing a deep red. He felt the glow
rushing all over him, and when she had finished, he could not say a
word. They were all looking at him with eyes full of that warm pride
that only a family can feel, and it seemed to him that his triumph had
brought more happiness to them even than to himself. He could not think
of anything to say to them all, and presently he got up, and walked over
to the window, where he stood looking out into the cold little garden.
But what he saw was only the reflection of the group around the
fire—that very group which he had so often pictured to himself with such
homesick longing during his months of exile. He thought of his lonely
father, and his aimless wanderings, and then he knew that he was glad to
have come home again. The world could teach him no more than he could
learn by working and growing and thinking among his own people, and the
world could not give him any praise half so sweet, or half so inspiring
as their simple pride.

Suddenly he felt a warm little hand slip into his. It was Janey.

She looked up at him timidly—his serious profile seemed quite stern to

“Paul, what are you thinking about now?” she asked plaintively.

Then he laughed, and looked more like his old self.

“I was thinking that I shall _not_ go away—if Uncle Peter means that I
needn’t. And I was thinking how unpleasant things might be if you,
ma’am, attended strictly to your own affairs!”

“And I,” said Mr. Lambert, “am thinking that it is time we all went to
bed. Gertrude, my dear, I hope that Anna will be able to get everything
into order to-morrow. I shall want my desk to be in place especially.
And—er—Breakfast at seven, as usual.”


And now the doors and windows were locked, and the lights were put out,
and the household was silent and slumbering. But the pale reflection of
the moonlit snow glimmered through the window upon the scene of the late
revelry, and a red glow still shone among the ashes of the fire,
throwing a faint red light through the shadows that deepened over the
painted face of Great-grandfather Johann. And a well-contented
expression that plump, ruddy old face wore—a comfortable, benevolent
patriarchal look, as if that excellent old lover of law and order were
saying, “And now I think everything is quite as it should be!”

                                THE END

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