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Title: Concerning Sally
Author: Hopkins, William John, 1863-1926
Language: English
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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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By William John Hopkins


  CONCERNING SALLY.
  THE INDIAN BOOK. Illustrated.
  THE MEDDLINGS OF EVE.
  OLD HARBOR.
  THE CLAMMER.


  HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
  BOSTON AND NEW YORK



CONCERNING SALLY



  CONCERNING
  SALLY

  BY

  WILLIAM JOHN HOPKINS

  [Illustration]

  BOSTON AND NEW YORK
  HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
  The Riverside Press Cambridge
  1912



  COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY WILLIAM JOHN HOPKINS
  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

  _Published September 1912_



BOOK I



CONCERNING SALLY



CHAPTER I


Professor Ladue sat at his desk, in his own room, looking out of the
window. What he might have seen out of that window was enough, one
would think, to make any man contented with his lot, especially a man
of the ability of Professor Ladue. He had almost attained to eminence
in his own line, which, it is to be presumed, is all that any of us
can hope to attain to--each in his own line.

Out of Professor Ladue's window there might have been seen, first, a
huge tree, the leaves upon which were fast turning from the deep green
of late summer to a deep copper brown with spots of brilliant yellow.
If his eyes were weary of resting in the shadow of that great tree,
his gaze might go farther and fare no worse: to other trees, not too
thickly massed, each in the process of turning its own particular
color and each of them attaining to eminence in its own line without
perceptible effort; to the little river which serenely pursued its
winding and untroubled course; or to the distant hills.

But Professor Ladue, it is to be feared, saw none of these things. He
was unconscious of the vista before his eyes. A slight smile was on
his handsome face, but the smile was not altogether a pleasant one. He
withdrew his gaze and glanced distastefully about the room: at the
small bundle of papers on his desk, representing his work; at the
skull which adorned the desk top; at the half-mounted skeleton of some
small reptile of a prehistoric age lying between the windows; at his
bed. It was an inoffensive bed; merely a narrow cot, tucked out of the
way as completely as might be. Professor Ladue did not care for
luxury, at any rate not in beds, so long as they were comfortable, and
the bed took up very little room, which was important.

As his glance took in these things, a slight expression of disgust took
the place of the smile, for a moment; then the smile returned. All
expressions in which Professor Ladue indulged were slight. There was
nothing the matter with him. He was only tired of work--temporarily
sick of the sight of it; which is not an unusual state of mind, for any
of us. It may be deplored or it may be regarded as merely the normal
state of rebellion of a healthy mind at too much work. That depends
largely upon where we draw the line. We might not all draw it where
Professor Ladue drew it. And he did not deplore the state of mind in
which he found himself. It was a state of mind in which he was finding
himself with growing frequency, and when he was in it his sole wish was
to be diverted.

He opened a drawer in his desk, dumped therein the papers, and,
removing from it a box of cigarettes, took one and slipped the box
into his pocket. After various tappings and gentle thumpings in the
manner of your cigarette-smoker, designed, I suppose, to remove some
of the tobacco which the maker had carefully put into it, the
cigarette seemed to be considered worthy of his lips. I have no doubt
that it was. So he lighted it, cast the match thoughtfully into the
empty grate, and rose slowly.

He dawdled a minute at the window, looked at his watch, muttered
briefly, and went briskly out and down the stairs.

He took his overcoat from the rack in the hall and removed the
cigarette from his lips for a moment.

"Sarah!" he called curtly.

His voice was clear and penetrating and full of authority. If I had
been Sarah, the quality of that one word, as he uttered it, would have
filled me with resentment. A door almost at his elbow opened quickly
and a girl appeared. She was well grown and seemed to be about twelve.
She was really ten.

"What is it, father?" she asked; I had almost said that she demanded
it, but there was no lack of respect in her voice. "Please don't
disturb mother. She has a headache. I'm taking care of Charlie. What
is it?"

"Oh, Sally," he said. It appeared as if he might even be afraid of
her, just a little, with her seriousness and her direct ways and her
great eyes that seemed to see right through a man. He gave a little
laugh which he intended to be light. It wasn't. "Oh, all right, Sally.
You're a very good girl, my dear."

Sally did not smile, but looked at him steadily, waiting for him to
say what he had to say.

"Tell your mother, Sally," the professor went on, "that I find I have
to go into town to attend to an important matter at the college. I may
be late in getting out. In fact, she mustn't be worried if I don't
come to-night. It is possible that I may be kept too late for the last
train. I am sorry that she has a headache. They seem to be getting
more frequent."

Sally bowed her head gravely. "Yes," she said, "they do."

"Well, tell her that I am very sorry. If I could do anything for her,
I should, of course, be only too happy. But I can't and there doesn't
appear to be any good purpose served by my giving up my trip to town."
In this the professor may, conceivably, have been wrong. "Give her my
message, my dear, and take good care of Charlie. Good-bye, Sally."

The professor stooped and imprinted a cold kiss upon her forehead.
Sally received it impassively without expressing any emotion whatever.

"Good-bye, father," she said. "I will tell mother."

Professor Ladue went out and walked jauntily down the road toward the
station. No good purpose will be served, to use his own words, by
following him farther at this time. Sally went soberly back to the
library, where she had left Charlie; she went very soberly, indeed. No
Charlie was to be seen; but, with a skill born of experience, she
dived under the sofa and haled him forth, covered with dust and
squealing at the top of his lungs.

"I hided," he shouted.

"Sh--h, Charlie. You'll disturb mother. Poor mother's got a pain in
her head." The sombre gray eyes suddenly filled with tears, and she
hugged the boy tight. "Oh, Charlie, Charlie! I'm afraid that father's
going to do it again."

Charlie whimpered in sympathy. Perhaps, too, Sally had hugged him too
tight for comfort. His whimper was becoming a wail when she succeeded
in hushing him. Then she heard a soft step coming slowly down the
stairs.

"Now, Charlie," she said reproachfully, "it's too bad. Here's mother
coming down. I wish," she began, impatiently; then she checked herself
suddenly, for the boy's lips were puckering. "Never mind. Laugh, now."

It is not strange that the boy could not accommodate himself to such
sudden changes. He was only six. But he tried faithfully, and would
have succeeded if he had been given more time. The door opened gently.

"Sally, dear," said a soft voice, "I thought that I heard the front
door shut. Has your father gone out?"

Mrs. Ladue was gentle and pretty and sweet-looking; and with a tired
look about the eyes that seldom left her now. She had not had that
look about the eyes when she married young Mr. Ladue, thirteen years
before. There were few women who would not have had it if they had
been married to him for thirteen years. That had been a mistake, as it
had turned out. For his own good, as well as hers, he should have had
a different kind of a wife: none of your soft, gentle women, but a
woman who could habitually bully him into subjection and enjoy the
process. The only difficulty about that is that he would never have
married a woman who habitually bullied. He wanted to do any bullying
that there was to be done. Not that he actually did any, as it is
usually understood, but there was that in his manner that led one to
think that it was just beneath the surface; and by "one" I mean his
wife and daughter,--no doubt, I should have said "two." As for Sally,
the traditional respect that is due a father from a daughter was all
that prevented her from finding out whether it was there. To be sure,
his manner toward her was different. It seemed almost as if he were
afraid of Sally; afraid of his own daughter, aged ten. Stranger things
have happened.

If Mrs. Ladue knew that she had made a mistake, thirteen years before,
she never acknowledged it to herself when she thought of her children.
She beckoned Charlie to her now.

"Come here, darling boy," she said, stooping.

Charlie came, with a rush, and threw his arms about his mother's neck.

"Oh, Charlie," cried Sally quickly, "remember mother's head. Be
careful!"

Mrs. Ladue smiled gently. "Never mind, Sally. Let him be as he is. It
makes my head no worse to have my little boy hugging me. Has your
father gone out?" she asked again.

Sally's eyes grew resentful. "Yes," she answered. "He left a message
for you. He said I was to tell you that he was very sorry you had a
headache and that if he could do anything for you he would be only too
happy." Sally's voice insensibly took on a mocking quality. "And--and
there was something about his being called into town by pressing
matters and you were not to be worried if he missed the last train
and--and--" She burst into a passion of tears. "Oh, mother, dear, I
don't believe a word of it. I'm afraid he'll come back like--like--"
Her whole form quivered with the energy of her utterance. There was no
doubt that she meant what she said so violently. "I _hate_--"

"Hush, darling, hush! Never say that." Mrs. Ladue drew her little
daughter close and patted her shoulder.

Sally's crying ceased abruptly, but the muscles were all tense under
her mother's hand. She smiled bravely.

"Now, mother, dear," she said, "I have made it worse, haven't I? I
didn't mean to do that--to cry. Truly, I didn't. I won't ever do it
again." She put one arm about her mother's neck and stroked her
forehead gently. "Mother, darling, doesn't it make your head just a
little better to have your little daughter hu--hug--ging you, too?"
And she hid her face in her mother's neck.

Mrs. Ladue's eyes filled with tears. "My dearest little daughter!" she
murmured, kissing her. "If only you could be happy! If only you didn't
take things so to heart! Mother's own dear little girl!" She rose and
spoke brightly. "Now, let's all go out into this lovely day and be
happy together."

Sally smiled. "Yes," she said, "we'll all be happy together. Don't you
think, mother, that it will make your head better?"

"Yes," replied Mrs. Ladue, "I think it will."

So they went out to the trees and the river and the hills. But Sally
did not skip. Charlie, it is to be noted, did; Charlie, who had said
nothing about being happy. It is to be presumed that they were all
ecstatically happy; for had they not assured one another that they
would be?



CHAPTER II


It is to be feared that Professor Ladue had gone and done it again, as
Sally said. Not that Sally knew what "it" was, nor did her mother
know, either. Indeed, Mrs. Ladue made no inquiries concerning that
point, being glad to put the most favorable construction possible upon
the matter and, perhaps, afraid that she would not be able to do so if
she knew any more. Perhaps, too, she realized that, unless she pursued
her inquiries among comparative strangers, she would learn nothing.
The professor would lie freely and skillfully, assuming that he
considered it necessary or desirable to lie, and might be led to bully
a little. Whatever course he might take, she would be no better off.
So, as I said, she made no inquiries, which may have been wise or it
may not; and she kept on hoping, although each occasion left her with
less ground for any reasonable hope.

At all events, Professor Ladue came back early the next afternoon in
the most fiendish temper, which may have been due to excess in any of
its customary forms. Whatever the exact cause, the effect was,
apparently, to make him hate himself and everybody with whom he came
in contact. Mrs. Ladue was aware of the state of mind that he would be
in, from experience, I suppose; an experience which she did not seem
at all anxious to repeat. Sally was aware of it, too, and even Charlie
seemed to realize that any meeting with his father was to be avoided.
So it happened that Professor Ladue found the way into the house and
to his room unobstructed. His wife and his children were nowhere to be
seen; which circumstance, in itself, annoyed him exceedingly, although
it is probable that he would have found their presence equally
annoying.

Once in his room, he paced to and fro for a few minutes, nervously;
then he took off his coat and bathed his head and face with cold
water, pouring it over his head repeatedly. When he had rubbed his
head partially dry he appeared to feel somewhat better, and he seated
himself, frowning, at his desk, and tried to apply himself to his
work. In this, as he undoubtedly expected, he was not very successful.
He would not have expected one of his own students to be able to apply
himself to work with any success under similar circumstances, whatever
those circumstances were. So he pushed his work aside with some
impatience, got up, took the skull from the desk and handled it
absently. The feel of the skull seemed to suggest some ideas to him,
for he put it down, went to the half-mounted skeleton of that ancient
reptile that I have mentioned as lying between his windows, and began
to work in earnest.

He soon became interested; so much interested that he was forgetting
about his head, which felt as if it had been pounded with
hammers,--tiny hammers which had not yet finished their work, whatever
it was,--and he was forgetting about his eyes, which ached as if the
pressure of blood behind the eyeballs was forcing them out of his
head. He didn't know but it was; but it didn't matter. And he was
forgetting about his body, every bone and muscle of which was crying
out for rest and sleep. He sat there, on the floor under one of his
windows, puzzling over a bone which he held in his hand, and
completely absorbed.

Suddenly he glanced involuntarily out of the window. There sat Sally,
astride a limb of the great tree, looking in at him intently. She was
a most annoying child; yes, a most devilishly annoying child. He
sprang to his feet and threw up the window, almost in one motion.
Sally did not move a muscle; not even her eyes. He did not say the
sharp things that were on the tip of his tongue, he could not have
told why; he did not say anything for very nearly a minute. Under such
circumstances, a minute is a long time. Nor did Sally say anything.
She only gazed solemnly at him.

"Sally," he demanded at last, "what are you doing there?" The look in
his eyes had softened. You might have mistaken it for a look of
affection.

"Nothing, father," Sally answered, briefly and respectfully.

"Well, what the--" Professor Ladue was at a loss for words in which to
express his exasperation. This was an unusual condition for him to be
in. "Well, why don't you get down?"

"I don't want to get down," Sally returned. "I like being up here."

"You'll break your neck."

Sally made no reply.

"Can you get down safely?"

"Yes, father."

"Get down, then," said Professor Ladue, less sharply than he had meant
to speak. "Don't you know that it must annoy me very much to have you
spying in upon me in that way?"

"No, father, I didn't know it annoyed you," replied Sally in a
colorless voice. "I beg your pardon. But I wasn't spying on you. I was
only enjoying myself. I won't do it again."

Sally began slipping and sliding and scrambling down the tree. She
seemed to have no fear and to be very familiar with the road she was
taking. She knew every foothold. Her father watched her as she went
from one insecure hold to another. It must have appeared to him a
perilous descent, one would suppose; but I do not know what he
thought. At all events, he called to her when she had swung off the
lowest branch and dropped safely. He still had in his hand that
prehistoric bone.

"Sally!" he called; "don't you want to come up here?"

Sally looked up, evidently greatly surprised. She was not easily
surprised.

"To your room?" she asked.

"Yes," replied her father impatiently, "of course. To my room."

"Do you want me to?" Sally is to be excused for pressing the point.
She did not wish to make any mistake. Mistakes had been made before.

"I should be greatly pleased," said the professor, smiling and bowing
airily. "I should consider it a great honor if Miss Sally Ladue would
favor me with her company at the present juncture." He leaned a little
out of the window. "You know I am working on the skeleton."

"Yes," said Sally. "I'll come up right away."

It is to be noted that Sally had not answered the exact question which
the professor had asked her. She may have been reluctant to answer it
just as it was asked. It is to be supposed that she was aware of the
question and that she knew the answer. Sally was a truthful young
person, but she preferred to take the course that made for peace if it
was consistent with truth. The professor did not press the matter.

He was again sitting on the floor when Sally knocked on the door and
came in. His head was a little better. Perhaps the tiny hammers had
nearly finished their work. At all events, he soon forgot it
completely.

"Sally," he said, after he had been working for some minutes and Sally
had been watching him in silence, "what do you think this is?"

"I don't know, father," she answered. "Is it a--an alligator?"

"No," he said, stopping and looking thoughtfully at the skeleton. "No,
it is not an alligator, although you came nearer than I should have
thought you would. You were just barely warm, Sally. It is a distant
relative of the alligator; perhaps I should call it a connection. The
thirteenth cousin of his hundred thousandth great-grandfather, or
something like that. It is a sort of a lizard, Sally. It is a very
small one."

"Oh!" cried Sally. "A _small_ one! A small _lizard_! Why, father!"

Professor Ladue smiled. "It lived a great many thousands of years
ago. Nobody knows how many thousands of years, although they will tell
you very glibly. They don't know anything about it except that it was
a long time. I know that. This little lizard is a kind that nobody has
ever discovered; nobody except me. It is _my_ lizard. It must be known
by my name. What do you think of that, Sally?"

"It must be very fine," Sally murmured, "to discover things."

"At that far-off time," the professor continued, "there were lots of
great horrid creeping and flying things. Even my little lizard may
have been able to fly. See! These seem to be the beginning of his wing
bones. There are some bones missing, so that I can't tell, yet,
whether he had wings that would bear him up. But probably he had.
Probably he had." And the professor relapsed into a thoughtful
silence.

"Father," said Sally presently. She had been thinking and her interest
in the skeleton was more active than it had been.

The professor looked up. "Any question that Miss Ladue has to ask," he
observed, "will be cheerfully answered, provided that I know the
answer. If I do not know the answer, and have the courage to say so, I
trust she will not regard me as wholly ignorant of the subject."

Sally gave vent to a chuckle which was entirely unexpected; entirely
unexpected by herself, at least.

"Father," she asked, as soon as she had managed to suppress her
chuckles, "then could your little lizard fly up high?"

"Yep," he answered; "like a pigeon. Or, more probably, he flew more
like a bat than like a pigeon."

"Right up into the tops of the trees?"

"Right up into the topmost branches of the coal trees."

"The _coal trees_!"

"The coal trees. Fed on the fruit. Large lizards customarily ate
furnace coal, middle-sized lizards ate stove coal. Little lizards ate
chestnut coal."

Sally burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. In all her
experience of her father, she had never known him to be so amusing.

"And the littlest lizards?"

"Ate pea coal," replied the professor promptly, "and the tiniest
babies ate buckwheat coal. Very nourishing, chestnuts and peas and
buckwheat. Cracked it with their teeth."

Sally was still giggling.

"Seriously, Sally," said the professor, with a change of manner, "by
the coal trees I meant the trees which have become the coal we are
burning in the stove and the furnace and to make steam. I see no
reason to doubt that this little lizard could fly up into the tops of
the trees. Perhaps he actually alighted on some tree which we now have
down cellar in the coal bin."

"Oh!" cried Sally. "Let's suppose he did. And what did he see from his
topmost branch?"

"Very little," replied the professor, "except treetops and a swamp or
two."

"Well," said Sally, "it's rather disappointing. But I wish I could
have seen it."

"Then," said her father solemnly, "there would now be nothing left of
you but a skeleton which I would be puzzling my brains over. It would
be somewhat disconcerting, Sally, to find a skeleton of a little girl
among these bones of a past age; very disconcerting, indeed, to find
that of Miss Sally Ladue."

"But how would you know it was Miss Sally Ladue's skeleton?" asked
Sally, her eyes twinkling.

"That is a poser," her father answered. "I should know it, though. If
there were no other means of identifying it, I should know it for Miss
Ladue's by the large bump of inquisitiveness on the skull."

"What's my bump of inquisitiveness?"

The professor turned towards her. "Hand me that skull on my desk, and
I'll show you." Sally obediently handed him the skull. "There it is,"
he continued. "You can see it, although it is not as large as your
own. Come here and let us see if it is."

Sally came.

"The phrenologists," he began, feeling of her head, "would--hello!"

"Ouch!" cried Sally, squirming but giggling irrepressibly,
nevertheless.

"It is a very large bump," said the professor gravely; "unexpectedly
large, even for you. What makes it so large, Sally?"

"I--I fell out of a tree yesterday," Sally said. "I suppose it was
that."

"Ah, yes," the professor returned; "and because the bump was so large
by nature it stuck out in a most inappropriate and uncomfortable way
and was made more inappropriate and uncomfortable. It might be safer
for you if you could fly, like my little lizard."

"I wish I could," said Sally; "I wish I could fly into the top of any
tree I wanted to."

"You find the trees very attractive?"

"Yes, I do," Sally replied, simply. "You can see a lot from the top of
a tall tree. The trouble is that you can't find big enough branches
when you get nearly to the top."

"No," observed the professor, "I can't. If I could, I suppose I might
climb trees oftener. It is very disconcerting to get almost up, just
where the leaves are thickest, and find that I can't get any higher
and can't see anything to speak of, either. And twigs that you
wouldn't hesitate to trust yourself upon, Sally, are not nearly big
enough for me. That," he finished, reflectively, "is, I think, the
only reason why I have given up tree-climbing at such an early age."

Sally chuckled delightedly. "Did you climb trees when you were a boy,
father?"

"Huh! Climb trees! Gracious, yes. Used to run right up one side and
down the other. Tallest trees I could find, too. Hundreds of feet
high. Did I use to climb trees!" The professor turned away in excess
of scorn.

"Oh!" cried Sally, clapping her hands.

"Climb trees!" murmured the professor. "Why, there was one tree that I
remember--"

He was interrupted, at this point, by a gentle knock at the door.

"That sounds like your mother's knock, Sally. Will you be kind enough
to see?"

It was Mrs. Ladue. She had heard the unaccustomed sounds of merriment
issuing from her husband's room and had come up--rather timidly, it
must be confessed--to see what it was all about. If her heart was
fluttering a little with symptoms of hope, as she came, it is not to
be wondered at. There was another reason for her coming, although she
was not conscious that it had weight with her.

She was half smiling as she entered; half smiling in a doubtful,
hesitating sort of way, ready to let the smile develop in its own
lovely manner or to check it and let it fade away, according to
circumstances. Sally held tightly to her hand. Professor Ladue got
upon his feet with more agility than would have been expected of him.

"Sally and I were having a session with my lizard," he said, "and were
variously entertaining ourselves. I hope your head is better, Sarah."

Mrs. Ladue appeared to see some reason for letting her smile take its
natural course. It was a very lovely smile, almost tender. Professor
Ladue should have been a very proud and happy man that it was for him.
There is no reason to think that he was.

"Thank you, Charlie," she replied. "It is all right, to-day. Won't you
and Sally go on with your session and let me be a visitor? It must
have been a very amusing session. I don't know when I have heard Sally
laugh so much."

Sally clapped her hands again. "Oh, do," she said. "You were going to
tell me about a tree, father. What about it?"

Professor Ladue talked much nonsense in the next half-hour and was
surprisingly gay; and Sally sat, holding her mother's hand, and
smiling and chuckling and enjoying it intensely. Of course Mrs. Ladue
enjoyed it. The professor seemed so genial and care-free that she
reproached herself for her doubts. She even thought, unfortunately,
that it was a favorable time for asking for something that she was
very much in need of. But she hesitated, even then.

"Charlie," she said timidly, as they were going, "can you--can you let
me have this week's money for the house? Katie, you know,--we owe her
for two weeks, and there's the--"

Professor Ladue interrupted her. "Money?" he said airily. "Money?
What's money? Certainly, my dear. Help yourself. You're welcome to
anything you find there."

He tossed her his pocketbook and turned back to his skeleton. Perhaps
it was to hide some embarrassment; perhaps it was only to indicate
that, so far as he was concerned, the incident was closed. For the
pocketbook was empty.

Mrs. Ladue spoke low and tried hard to keep any hint of reproach out
of her voice. "Did you--did you lose it?" she asked.

"I suppose I must have lost it, if there was anything to lose,"
Professor Ladue replied nonchalantly. He did not turn away from his
work.

"And--and did you notify the police?"

"No, my dear, I have not notified the police, yet." He smiled dryly as
he spoke. "I will take that matter under advisement."

Mrs. Ladue did not push the question further. There were tears in her
eyes as she joined Sally.

"Oh, mother," cried Sally joyously, "wasn't it fun? Did you ever know
that father could be so funny?"

"Yes, darling child. He was full of fun and nonsense before we were
married, and for some years after."

She bent and kissed her daughter, but would say no more.



CHAPTER III


Sally was not completely deprived of the society of other children,
although her temperament made this question a rather difficult one.
Her father did not bother himself about Sally's goings and comings,
which was quite what would have been expected. Indeed, he bothered
himself very little about the doings of his family; as a general
thing, he did not know what they did, nor did he care, so long as they
refrained from interference with his own actions. They had learned to
do that.

Mrs. Ladue did bother herself about Sally's doings a good deal, in
spite of the difficulty of the question; and one would have thought
that she had her fill of difficult questions. She went to the door and
looked out. She saw Charlie playing alone near the foot of a tree. He
was tied to the tree by a long string, one end of which was about his
body, under his arms.

"Charlie," she called, "where's Sally?"

Charlie looked up, impatiently, and shook his head. Mrs. Ladue
repeated her question.

"Up there," he answered, pointing into the tree above his head. "And
I'm a giraffe in a menagerie and giraffes can't talk, mother."

"Oh, excuse me, little giraffe," she said, smiling.

"Great, _big_ giraffe. _Not_ little giraffe."

Meanwhile there had been a sound of scrambling in the tree and Sally
dropped to the ground.

"Did you want me, mother?" she asked.

"I only thought that you have had the care of Charlie for a long time.
Don't you want to go up to Margaret Savage's and play with her?" This
was, perhaps, the hundredth time that Mrs. Ladue had asked that
question.

"No, mother," Sally replied, also for the hundredth time, "I don't.
But if you want me to go, I will."

Mrs. Ladue laughed outright at her daughter's directness. "Why?" she
asked. "I am really curious to know why you don't like to play with
other little girls."

"They are so stupid, mother," Sally answered quietly. "I have a lot
better time alone."

"Well, my dear little daughter," began Mrs. Ladue, laughing again; and
there she stopped. "I should like, Sally,--I should like it very much,
if I could manage to send you to dancing-school this winter."

"Very well, mother," said Sally again.

"But I don't know what your father would think of the idea."

"No," Sally returned. "You can't ever tell, can you?"

"Wouldn't you like to go and be with the other children and do what
they do?"

Sally was quite serious. "I don't think it would be very interesting,"
she said. "But if you want me to go, I will."

Mrs. Ladue sighed; then she laughed. "Well, Sally, dear," she said,
"run along and play in your own way. At any rate, I can trust you."

"Yes, mother, dear, you can."

And Sally ran out, quite happy, to untie the giraffe.

"What you goin' to do, Sally?" he asked.

"Giraffes can't talk," remarked Sally.

"Aren't a giraffe. I'm the keeper. But I'll turn into a giraffe again
as soon as you answer me."

"I'm going down in that little clump by the wall, where there are
plenty of things for giraffes to eat."

Reminded that he was hungry, Charlie began to cry.

"What's the matter?" asked Sally, stopping short.

"Don't _want_ to be a giraffe and eat old leaves and things," Charlie
wailed. "Can't I have some gingerbread, Sally?"

"Well, here," said Sally. She took from her pocket some little
crackers, which she gave him. "I guess those won't hurt you."

Charlie made no reply, being busy with the crackers; and Sally led him
into the clump by the wall and tied him.

"Sally," asked Charlie, somewhat anxiously, "what you goin' to do?"

"I'm going up in the tree, of course."

"Yes, but Sally, what will you be?"

"I haven't decided," replied Sally thoughtfully. "I'll be deciding
while I go up." She turned and began to climb the tree, skillfully.
She had got no farther than the lower branches when she stopped. "Oh,
I'll tell you, Charlie," she cried. "It's just the thing. I'll be
father's little lizard."

"What lizard?" Charlie demanded.

"Father's little lizard, that he's got the skeleton of, up in his
room."

"Isn't any little lizard," Charlie returned, very positively. "That's
a croc."

"It is, too, a lizard, Charlie. Father said so."

"Lizards are little weenty things," Charlie objected. "'Sides, they
don't live in trees."

Sally did not feel sure on this point, so she evaded it.

"That little lizard lived millions of years ago." What were a few
million years, more or less, to her? "And father said that it could
fly like a bat. It used to fly right up into the coal trees and--and
eat the coal that grew on them." Sally was giggling at the
recollection. "Now, this is a coal tree and I'm that little lizard,
and this is millions of years ago."

Charlie had been paralyzed into momentary silence by the information
poured into him so rapidly. The silence was but momentary, but Sally
took advantage of it and climbed swiftly.

"Sally!"

Sally paused. "What?" she asked.

"You that same lizard that father has the skeleton of?"

Sally acknowledged that she was.

"Then," Charlie retorted, "you haven't got any bones in you. They're
up in father's room."

Sally chuckled, but she did not reply to this remark directly.

"Charlie," she called, "you be a saurus something."

"Don't _want_ to be a--Sally, what's a--that thing that you said for
me to be? What is it?"

"Well," replied Sally slowly, "it's an animal kind of like an
alligator--and such things, you know. I guess I'm one. And Charlie,
you can't talk. Animals--especially sauruses--_never_ talked."

"Parrots can," returned Charlie sullenly.

Sally did not think it worth while to try to answer this objection.

"There wasn't any kind of a thing, millions of years ago, that could
talk," she said calmly, "so, of course, they couldn't learn."

"Then you can't talk, either," said Charlie, in triumph. And he
subsided and returned to the eating of crackers, of which, as
everybody knows, the saurians were extremely fond.

Sally, meanwhile, was enjoying the prospect of treetops; an unbroken
prospect of treetops, except for a swamp which, in historic times,
became their own little valley.

Sally had ceased, for the moment, her flitting lightly from bough to
bough, and there was no sign of her presence; and Charlie had come to
the end of his crackers and was browsing around in the grass, picking
up a crumb here and there.

"Hello!" said a strange voice; a strange voice, but a very pleasant
one. "As I'm a living sinner, if here isn't a little pony!"

Charlie looked up into the eyes of a very serious young man. The eyes
were twinkling over the wall and through the gap in the trees. Charlie
decided not to be frightened. But he shook his head. He wasn't a pony.

"Well, well, of course not," the voice went on. "I was rather hasty,
but it looked like a pony, at the first glance. I guess it's a fierce
bull."

Charlie shook his head again, less positively. Now that it had been
suggested, he yearned to be a fierce bull. He wished that he had
thought of it before he shook his head.

"A camel?" asked the young man. "Can it be a camel?"

Once more Charlie shook his head, and he laughed.

"It sounds like a hyena," remarked the stranger solemnly, "but it
can't be, for hyenas eat--" He put his hand to his forehead and seemed
to be puzzling it out. "Aha!" he cried at last. "I have it. A
giraffe!"

"No!" Charlie shouted. "I'm _aren't_ a giraffe. I'm a saw-horse."

And he straddled his legs far apart and his arms far apart, and he
looked as much like a saw-horse as he could. That isn't saying much.

At this last announcement of Charlie's, Sally exploded in a series of
chuckles so sudden and so violent that she almost fell out of the
tree.

An answering titter came from the other side of the wall and a pair of
hands appeared, trying for a hold on the top stones; then the head of
a very pretty little girl followed, until her chin was on a level with
the top of the wall and she could look over it into Charlie's eyes.

The strange young man had looked up into the tree. "Hello!" he
exclaimed. "If there isn't another! Is that a saw-horse, too?"

Charlie had considered himself the person addressed. "Yes," he
replied, "it is. It's a flying one."

"Mercy on us!" cried the young man. "A flying saw-horse! What a lot of
saw-horses you have about here; very interesting ones, too."

"Yes," said Charlie importantly, "we like to be 'em."

"It must be most exciting to be so extraordinary a thing. Do you
suppose you could get that flying one to come down where we can see
it? Do you know, I never have seen a flying saw-horse in all the
nineteen years that I have lived."

"She won't come down unless she wants to," Charlie grumbled.

Sally was recovering, in a measure, from her fit of chuckling. She
leaned far forward, below the screen of leaves.

"Oh, yes, I will," she called, in a low, clear voice. "Besides, I want
to. Charlie was mistaken about the saw-horse. He meant saurus. And I
was a flying lizard and this was a coal tree. From the top of the tree
you can't see anything but treetops and swamps. It's millions of years
ago, you know. And father's got the skeleton of this very lizard up in
his room, and he said that it used to fly right up in the topmost
branches of the coal trees and he told me about the sauruses that used
to be." She had dropped to the ground. "Oh, it's very interesting."

"It must be," the young man smilingly replied; "and I should suppose
that it must be rather interesting for your father to have such a
pupil."

"It isn't," Sally returned. "That is--father only told me those things
the other day."

The young man laughed. "I guess you must be Professor Ladue's little
girl."

"Yes," said Sally, "we are. That is, I am, and this is my brother
Charlie."

"The only and original saw-horse. You, I suppose, were a--we'll call
it a gynesaurus--"

Sally clapped her hands and gave a little laugh of delight.

"And this," he continued, laying his hand affectionately upon the
small head beside him, "is my small sister, Henrietta Sanderson, who
would be happy to be any kind of a beast that you tell her about. She
is ten years old and she dotes on being strange beasts."

"Oh," cried Sally, "and I'm ten years old, too. Would Henrietta like
to come over the wall now? There's a gate farther along."

"Henrietta despises gates. But does your invitation include her
brother? I'm Fox Sanderson and I was on my way to see your father."

"Father isn't at home to-day," said Sally; "and, if you could come
over, too--"

At that, Fox Sanderson put his hands on the top of the wall and
vaulted lightly over. He turned to help Henrietta.

"Now," he said, when she was safely on the right side, "here we all
are. What'll we do?"

Henrietta had her brother's hand. "Fox tells lovely stories," she
remarked.

"Does he?" asked Sally. "What about?"

"About any kind of a thing that you ask him," answered Henrietta.

"About sauruses?" Sally asked eagerly, turning to him.

"All right," he agreed, smiling; "about sauruses. But I'm afraid it's
just a little too cold for you youngsters to sit still and listen to
stories. I'll have to keep you moving a bit."

Sally told her mother about it that night. She thought that she never
had had such a good time in all her life. Fox Sanderson! Well, he told
the most wonderful stories that ever were.

"And, mother," said Sally, all interest, "he had me be a gynesaurus
and Henrietta was a---- But what are you laughing at?"

For Mrs. Ladue had burst out laughing. "My dear little girl!" she
cried softly. "My dear little girl! A gynesaurus! This Fox Sanderson
must be interesting, indeed."

"Then I can play with Henrietta? And father wouldn't mind, do you
think? And your head can't be hurting, mother, because you just
laughed right out."



CHAPTER IV


Professor Ladue again sat on the floor of his room before the skeleton
of his lizard, absent-mindedly fingering a bone. Now and then he
looked out of the window at the great tree; at that particular spot in
the great tree upon which his daughter had been seated, one morning,
not so very long before. He may have had a half-formed wish that he
might again discover her there.

But I do not know what half-formed wishes he had, concerning the tree,
his daughter, or anything else. At all events, Sally did not appear in
the tree. Had not he expressed disapproval of that very performance?
He could trust her. Perhaps, with a dim consciousness of that fact,
and, perhaps, with a certain disappointment that she was to be trusted
so implicitly,--she bore, in that respect, not the most remote
resemblance to her father,--the professor sighed. Then, still holding
the bone which bothered him, he went to his desk. There was a bone
missing--possibly more than one--and he would try to draw the missing
bone.

He had scarcely got to work when there was a knock at his door. It was
a firm knock, but not loud, expressing a quiet determination.
Professor Ladue seemed to know that knock. He seemed, almost, as if he
had been waiting for it.

"Come!" he cried, with an alacrity which would not have been expected
of him.

He pushed back his drawing-board and Sally came in.

"Ah, Miss Ladue!" he cried, with a certain spurious gayety which
concealed--something. I don't know what it concealed, and neither did
Sally, although she knew well enough that there was something behind
it. She feared that it was anxiety behind it, and she feared the cause
of that anxiety. "And what," continued the Professor, "can we do for
Miss Ladue to-day? Will she have more about this lizard of mine?"

Sally's eyes lighted up and she smiled. "I should like that very much,
father, thank you. But I can't, this morning, for I'm taking care of
Charlie."

"And is Charlie concealed somewhere about you? Possibly you have him
in your pocket?"

Sally giggled. "Charlie's tied to a tree."

"Tied to a tree! Does he submit gracefully?"

"He's an alligator; down by the wall, you know."

"Ah!" exclaimed the professor. "I am illumined. Do you think it is
quite for the safety of the passers-by to keep an alligator so close
to the road?"

Sally giggled again. "Yes," she returned, "if I'm not gone too long. I
came on an errand."

Professor Ladue lost somewhat of his gayety. "State your errand,
Sally. I hope--"

But the professor neglected to state what he had hoped. Sally stated
her errand with her customary directness.

"Mother wants me to go to dancing-school. Can I?"

"I suppose," returned Professor Ladue airily, "that you can go
wherever your legs will carry you. I see no indications of your
inability in that direction or in any other. Whether you _may_ go is
another question."

Sally did not smile. "Well, then, may I? Have you any objection? Will
you let me go?"

"That is a matter which deserves more consideration. Why do you wish
to go?"

"Only because mother wants me to," Sally answered. "I like to please
mother."

"Oh," said the professor. "Ah! And what, if I may ask, are your own
inclinations in the matter?"

"Well," replied Sally slowly. "I--it doesn't seem to me that it would
be very interesting to go there just because a lot of other children
go. I could have a lot better time playing by myself. That is, I--of
course, there's Henrietta, but Margaret Savage is stupid. But," she
added hastily, "I do want to go because mother wants me to."

"Oh," the professor remarked, with a slight smile of amusement; "so
Margaret Savage is stupid. But why didn't your mother ask me herself?"

"Perhaps she was afraid to," Sally said quietly. "I don't know what
the reason was."

"But you think it was that she was afraid to." The smile on his face
changed imperceptibly. The change made it a sneer. It is astonishing
to see how much a slight change can accomplish. "Perhaps you know why
she was afraid?"

"Yes," Sally acknowledged, "perhaps I do."

"Well, would you be good enough to give me the benefit of your ideas
on that subject?"

Sally flushed a little, but she did not falter in the directness of
her gaze any more than in her speech. "You generally make her cry when
she asks you for anything."

The professor flushed in his turn. "Indeed!" said he. "A most
observing child! A very observing child, indeed. And so your mother
sent you in her place."

"She didn't," said Sally impassively, although with a rising color;
"she doesn't know anything about my coming."

"Oh!" remarked the professor reflectively. "So you came on your own
hook--off your own bat."

She nodded.

There was a long silence while Professor Ladue drummed on the table
with his fingers. Sally waited.

At last he turned. "Sally," he said, with a slight return of that
gayety he had shown on her entrance, "the high courage of Miss Sally
Ladue shall receive the reward which it deserves. It is not fitting
that it should not. Bearding the lion in his den is nothing to it. I
am curious to know, Sally, whether you--" But there the professor
stopped. He had been about to ask his daughter, aged ten, whether she
was not afraid. He knew that she was not afraid. He knew that, if
there was some fear, some hesitation, some doubt as to the exact
outcome of the interview, it was not on Sally's part.

Sally was waiting for him to finish.

"Well, Sally," he continued, waving his hand airily, "make your
arrangements. Miss Ladue is to go to dancing-school and dance her feet
off if she wants to. Never mind the price." He waved his hand again.
"Never mind the price. What are a few paltry dollars that they should
interfere with pleasure? What is money to dancing?"

Sally was very solemn. "I think the price is ten dollars," she said.

Professor Ladue snapped his fingers in the air. "It doesn't matter.
Poof! Ten dollars or ten hundred! Let us dance!"

Sally's eyes filled, but she choked the tears back.

"Thank you, father," she said gently. "Mother will be glad."

He rose and bowed, his hand on his heart. "That is important, of
course."

"I think it is the only important thing about it," Sally returned
promptly.

The professor bowed again, without reply, and Sally turned to go.

It may have been that the professor's heart smote him. It may have
been that he had been aware of Sally's unshed tears. It may have been
that he regretted that he should have been the cause--but I may be
doing him an injustice. Very likely he was above such things as the
tears of his wife and his daughter. It is quite possible that he was
as proud of his ability to draw tears as of his ability to draw,
correctly, a bone that he never saw. Whatever the reason, he spoke
again as Sally was opening the door.

"Will Miss Ladue," he asked, with an elaborate politeness, "honor my
poor study with her presence when she has more leisure? When she has
not Charlie on her mind? We can, if she pleases, go farther into the
matter of lizards or of coal trees."

"Thank you, father," Sally replied.

Professor Ladue was conscious of a regret that she spoke without
enthusiasm. But it was too much to expect--so soon.

"I shall be pleased," he said.

An idea, which seemed just to have occurred to Sally, made her face
brighten. The professor noted it.

"And can--may I bring Henrietta?"

"Bring Henrietta!" cried the professor. "That is food for thought. Who
is this Henrietta? It seems to me that you mentioned her once before."

"Yes," said Sally eagerly. "I did. She is Henrietta Sanderson and Fox
Sanderson is her brother. He came to see you the other day. You
weren't at home."

"Fox Sanderson!"

"Yes," said Sally, again; "and when I told him that you weren't at
home, he came over the wall. He brought Henrietta. He knows a lot
about sauruses."

"He knows a lot about sauruses, does he?" the professor repeated
thoughtfully. "It seems to me that I have some recollection of Fox
Sanderson."

He turned and rummaged in a drawer of his desk. He seemed unable to
find what he was looking for, and he extracted from the depths of the
drawer many empty cigarette boxes, which he cast into the grate, and a
handful of papers, which he dumped on the top of the desk,
impatiently. He sorted these over, in the same impatient manner, and
finally he found it. It was a letter and was near the bottom of the
pile. He opened it and read it.

"H-mph!" he said, reading, "Thanks me for my kind permission, does he?
Now, Miss Ladue, can you give me any light upon that? What permission
does he refer to? Permission to do what?"

Sally shook her head. But her father was not looking.

"Oh," he said; "h-m. I must have said that I'd see him." He read on.
"I must even have said that he could study with me; that I'd help him.
Very thoughtless of me, very thoughtless, indeed! It must have been
after--well. And he will be here in the course of three weeks." The
professor turned the leaf. "This was written a month ago. So he's
here, is he, Sally?"

"Yes," Sally answered, "he's here."

The professor stood, for a few moments, looking at Sally, the slight
smile on his lips expressive of mingled disgust and amusement.

"Well," he observed, at last, "it appears to be one on me. I must have
said it. I have a vague recollection of something of the kind, but the
recollection is very vague. Do you like him, Sally?"

"Oh, yes." Sally seemed to feel that that was too sweeping. "That is,"
she added, "I--I like him."

Professor Ladue laughed lightly. Sally laughed, too, but in an
embarrassed fashion.

"That is satisfactory. You couldn't qualify it, Sally, could you?
Tried hard, didn't you?"

Sally flushed.

"Well," continued the professor, "if you chance to see this Fox
Sanderson, or any relative of his, will you convey to him my deep
sense of pleasure at his presence? I shall be obliged to Miss Ladue if
she will do that."

"I will," said Sally gravely.

Professor Ladue bowed. So far as he was concerned, the interview was
closed. So far as Sally was concerned, it was not.

"Well?" asked Sally. "May I bring Henrietta? You haven't answered that
question, father."

"Dear me! What an incomprehensible omission! I must be getting old and
forgetful. Old and forgetful, Sally. It is a state that we all attain
if we do not die first."

"Yes," said Sally, "I suppose so. May I bring Henrietta, father?"

Professor Ladue laughed shortly. "What a persistent child you are,
Sally!"

"I have to be," she replied, trying not to show her disappointment. "I
suppose you mean that you don't want me to bring Henrietta. Well, I
won't. Perhaps I may come in some day and hear about the lizard."

He did what he had not expected to do. "Oh, bring her, by all means,"
he cried, with an assumed cheerfulness which would not have deceived
you or me. It did not deceive Sally. "Bring her." He waved his hand
inclusively. "Bring Henrietta and Margaret Savage and any others you
can think of. Bring them all. I shall be pleased--honored." And again
he bowed.

Sally was just opening the door. "Margaret Savage would not be
interested," she said in a low voice, without turning her head, "and
there aren't--"

"Sally," the professor interrupted in cold exasperation, "will you be
good enough to project in my direction, what voice you think it best
to use, when you speak to me? Will you be so kind? I do not believe
that I am growing deaf, but I don't hear you."

Sally turned toward him. "Yes, father, I beg your pardon. I said that
Margaret Savage wouldn't be interested," she repeated quietly and
clearly, "and that there aren't any others."

He made an inarticulate noise in his throat. Sally was on the point of
shutting the door.

"Sally!" he called.

The door opened again just far enough to show proper respect. "Yes,
father?"

"Would your friend Henrietta really be interested in--in what she
would probably hear?"

The door opened wider. "Oh, yes, she would. I'm sure she would." There
was a note of eagerness in Sally's voice.

"Well, then, you may bring her. I shall be glad to have you both when
you find leisure. But no Margaret Savages, Sally."

"Oh, no, father. Thank you very much."

After which Sally shut the door and the professor heard her running
downstairs. He seemed pleased to hear the noise, which really was not
great, and seated himself at his desk again and took up his drawing.

And Sally, when she had got downstairs and out of doors, found her
exhilaration oozing away rapidly and a depression of spirit taking its
place. The interview, on the whole, had been well calculated--it may
have been carefully calculated--to take the starch out of a woman
grown. Professor Ladue had had much experience at taking the starch
out of others. And Sally was not a woman grown, but a child of ten.
Her powers of resistance had been equal to the task imposed,
fortunately, but she found that the exercise of those powers had left
her weak and shaky, and she was sobbing as she ran. If the professor
had seen her then,--if he had known just what her feelings were as she
sobbed,--would he have been proud of his ability to draw tears? I
wonder.

"Anyway," Sally sobbed, "I know how he makes mother feel. I know. Oh,
mother, mother! But I'll never give in. I won't!"

She stopped her convulsive sobbing by the simple process of shutting
her teeth over her lower lip, and she dashed away the tears from her
eyes as she ran toward the captive alligator, whose continuous roar
was growing in her ears. The roar was one of rage.

"Oh, dear! I left him too long."

And Sally ran up to find Charlie fumbling at the knot of the rope by
which he was tied. He cried out at her instantly.

"Sally! Don't _want_ to be tied any more. _Aren't_ an alligator. I'm a
little boy. Don't want to be tied like an old cow."

Sally hastily untied him, comforting him, meanwhile, as well as she
could. But Charlie, noticing something unusual in her voice, looked up
into her face and saw traces of tears. He immediately burst into tears
himself.

"Charlie!" cried Sally, fiercely; "Charlie! Laugh, now! Laugh, I tell
you." She glanced over the wall. "Here come Fox Sanderson and
Henrietta. Laugh!"



CHAPTER V


Sally always remembered that winter, a winter of hard work and growing
anxiety for her, enlivened by brief and occasional joys. She got to
know Fox and Henrietta very well, which was a continual joy and
enlivenment. Sally did not count dancing-school among the
enlivenments. And the infrequent lessons with Fox and Henrietta and
her father were enlivenments, too, usually; not always. After the
times when they were not, Sally wanted to cry, but she didn't, which
made it all the harder.

Her mother seemed steadily progressing toward permanent invalidism,
while her father was doing much worse than that. And she took more and
more of the burden of both upon her own small shoulders. Poor child!
She should have known no real anxiety; none more real than the common
anxieties of childhood. But perhaps they are real enough. Sally was
not eleven yet.

It is hard to say whether her mother or her father caused Sally the
more anxiety. Her mother's progress was so gradual that the change
from day to day--or from week to week, for that matter--was not
noticeable; while her father's was spasmodic. Sally did not see him
during a spasm, so that she did not know how noticeable the change was
from day to day or from hour to hour. We do not speak of weeks in such
cases. But it was just after a spasm that he was apt to make his
appearance again at home in a condition of greater or less
dilapidation, with nerves on edge and his temper in such a state that
Mrs. Ladue had grown accustomed, in those circumstances, to the use of
great care when she was forced to address him. Lately, she had avoided
him entirely at such times. Sally, on the contrary, made no effort to
avoid him and did not use great care when she addressed him, although
she was always respectful. This course was good for the shreds of the
professor's soul and perhaps no harder for Sally. But that was not the
reason why she did it. She could not have done differently.

There was the time in the fall, but that was over. And there was the
time at Christmas which Sally nipped in the bud. Following the
Christmas fiasco--a fiasco only from the point of view of the
professor--was the Era of Good Behavior. That is begun with capitals
because Sally was very happy about her father during that era,
although her mother's health worried her more and more. Then there was
the time late in the winter, after her father had broken down under
the strain of Good Behavior for two months; and, again, twice in
March. Professor Ladue must have been breaking rapidly during that
spring, for there came that awful time when it seemed, even to Sally,
as if the bottom were dropping out of everything and as if she had
rather die than not. Dying seems easier to all of us when we are
rather young, although the idea does not generally come to us when we
are ten years old. But it must be remembered that Sally was getting
rather more than her fair share of hard knocks. Later in life dying
does not seem so desirable. It is a clear shirking of responsibility.
Not that Sally ought to have had responsibility.

The time at Christmas happened on the last day of term time; and,
because that day was only half a day for the professor and because
Christmas was but two days off, Sally had persuaded her mother to take
her into town. "Town" was half an hour's ride in the train; and, once
there, Sally intended to persuade her mother further and to beard her
father in his laboratory and to take him for an afternoon's Christmas
shopping; very modest shopping. Whether Mrs. Ladue suspected the
designs of Sally and was sure of their failure, I do not know. Sally
had not told her mother of her complete plans. She was by no means
certain of their success herself. In fact, she felt very shaky about
it, but it was to be tried. Whatever her reason, Mrs. Ladue consented
with great and very evident reluctance, and it may have been her dread
of the occasion that gave her the headache which followed. So Sally
had to choose between two evils. And, the evil to her father seeming
the greater if she stayed at home with her mother, she elected to go.

She disposed of Charlie and knocked softly on her mother's door. There
was a faint reply and Sally went in. The shades were pulled down and
the room was rather dark. Sally went to her mother and bent over her
and put her arms half around her. She did it very gently,--oh, so
gently,--for fear of making the headache worse.

"Is your head better, mother, dear?" she asked softly.

Mrs. Ladue smiled wanly. "Having my dear little girl here makes it
better," she answered.

"Does it, mother? Does it really?" The thought made Sally very happy.
But then it suddenly came over her that, if she carried out her plans,
she could not stay. She was torn with conflicting emotions, but not
with doubts. She had considered enough and she knew what she intended
to do. She did not hesitate.

"I'm very sorry, mother, dear, that I can't stay now. I'll come in
when I get back, though, and I'll stay then, if it isn't too late and
if you want me then. I truly will. I love to."

"Is it Charlie, Sally? You have too much of the care of Charlie. If I
weren't so good for nothing!"

"I've left Charlie with Katie, and he's happy. It's father. I think
I'd better go in and meet him. Don't you think I'd better?"

The tears came to Mrs. Ladue's eyes. "Bless you, dear child! But how
can you, dear, all alone? No, Sally. If you must go, I'll get up and
go with you."

"Oh, mother, you mustn't, you mustn't. I can get Fox to go with me. I
know he will. I promise not to go unless I can get Fox--or some
one--to go."

"Some grown person, Sally?" Mrs. Ladue asked anxiously.

"Yes," answered Sally, almost smiling, "some grown person. That is,"
she added, "if you call Fox Sanderson a grown person."

"Fox Sanderson is a dear good boy," replied Mrs. Ladue. "I wish you
had a brother like him, Sally,--just like him."

"I wish I did," said Sally, "but I haven't. The next best thing is to
have him just Fox Sanderson. Will you be satisfied with him, mother,
dear,--if I can get him to go?"

Again Mrs. Ladue smiled. "Quite satisfied, dear. I can trust you,
Sally, and you don't know what a relief that is."

"No," said Sally, "I s'pose I don't." Nevertheless she may have had
some idea.

That thought probably occurred to her mother, for she laughed a little
tremulously. "Kiss me, darling, and go along."

So Sally kissed her mother, tenderly and again and again, and turned
away. But her mother called her back.

"Sally, there is a ticket in my bureau, somewhere. And, if you can
find my purse, you had better take that, too. I think there is nearly
two dollars in it. It is a pretty small sum for Christmas shopping,
but I shall be glad if you spend it all."

Sally turned to kiss her mother again. "I shan't spend it all," she
said.

She rummaged until she found the ticket and the purse; and, with a
last good-bye to her mother, she was gone. Mrs. Ladue sighed. "The
darling!" she said, under her breath.

Sally met Fox and Henrietta just outside her own gate. "Oh," she
cried, "it's lucky, for you're exactly the persons I wanted to see."

Henrietta looked expectant.

"Well, Sally," Fox said, smiling, "what's up now?"

"I'm going to town," Sally answered, less calmly than usual. She laid
her hand on his arm as she spoke. "That is, I'm going if I can find
somebody to go with me."

Fox laughed. "Is that what you call a hint, Sally? Will we do?"

"It isn't a hint," said Sally, flushing indignantly. "That is,--it
wasn't meant for one. I was going to ask you if you had just as lief
go as not. I've got a ticket and there are--let's see"--she took out
her ticket and counted--"there are seven trips on it. That's enough.
Would you just as lief?"

"I'd rather," replied Fox promptly. "Come on, Henrietta. We're going
to town." He looked at his watch. "Train goes in fourteen minutes, and
that's the train we take. Step lively, now."

Henrietta giggled and Sally smiled; and they stepped lively and got to
the station with two minutes to spare. Fox occupied that two minutes
with a rattle of airy nothings which kept Sally busy and her mind off
her errand; which may have been Fox's object or it may not. For Sally
had not told her errand yet, and how could Fox Sanderson have known
it? When they got into the car, Sally was a little disappointed
because she had not been able to tell him. She had meant
to--distinctly meant to during that two minutes.

She had no chance to tell him in the train. The cars made such a noise
that she would have had to shout it in his ear and, besides, he talked
steadily.

"I'll tell you what," he said, at the end of a stream of talk of which
Sally had not heard half. "Let's get your father, Sally, and take him
with us while you do your errands, whatever they are. He'll be through
in the laboratory, and we'll just about catch him."

"All right," Sally murmured; and she sank back in her seat
contentedly.

She had been sitting bolt upright. She felt that it was all right now,
and she would not need to tell Fox or anybody. She felt very grateful
to him, somehow. She felt still more grateful to him when he let the
conductor take all their fares from her ticket without a protest. Fox
was looking out of the window.

"It looks as if we might have some snow," he remarked. "Or it may be
rain. I hope it will wait until we get home."

When they got to the laboratory, they found one of the cleaners just
unlocking the door. She didn't know whether the professor had gone or
not. He always kept the door locked after hours; but would they go in?
They would and did, but could not find Professor Ladue. Fox found, on
his desk, a beaker with a few drops of a liquid in it. He took this up
and smelt of it. The beaker still held a trace of warmth.

"He has just this minute gone," he said. "If we hurry I think we can
catch him. I know the way he has probably gone."

"How do you know he has just gone?" asked Sally, looking at him
soberly and with her customary directness. "How can you tell?"

"Sherlock Holmes," he answered. "You didn't know that I was a
detective, did you, Sally?"

"No," said Sally. "Are you?"

"Seem to be," Fox returned. "Come on, or we'll lose him."

So they hurried, twisting and winding through streets that Sally did
not know. They seemed to be highly respectable streets. Sally wondered
where they were going. She wanted to ask Fox, but, evidently, he
didn't want to take the time to talk. Henrietta's eyes were brighter
than usual and she looked from Fox to Sally with a curiosity which she
could not conceal; but Sally, at least, did not notice, and Henrietta
said nothing.

"There he is," said Fox, at last.

They had just turned the corner of a street lined with what appeared
to Sally to be rather imposing houses. It was a highly respectable
street, like the others they had come through, and it was very quiet
and dignified. Indeed, there was no one in sight except Professor
Ladue, who was sauntering along with the manner of the care-free. His
coat was unbuttoned and blowing slightly, although there was that
chill in the air that always precedes snow and the wind was rising.
Their steps echoed in the quiet street, and, instinctively, they
walked more softly. Strangely enough, they all seemed to have the same
feeling; a feeling that the professor might suddenly vanish if he
heard them and looked around.

"Now, Sally," Fox continued, speaking somewhat hurriedly, "you run and
catch him before he turns that next corner. The street around that
corner is only a court with a dozen houses on it. If you don't catch
him before he goes into the house in the middle of that block, give it
up. Don't try to go in after him, but come back. Henrietta and I will
be waiting for you. If you get him, we won't wait. But don't say
anything about our being here unless he asks you. He might not like to
know that I had followed him."

"But," protested Sally, bewildered, "aren't you going with us? I
thought you were going shopping with us."

"If we had caught him before he had left the college. Now, it might be
embarrassing--to both your father and to me."

"But your tickets!" wailed Sally in a distressed whisper. They had
been speaking like conspirators.

Fox laughed softly. "I have a few cents about me. You can make that
right some other time. Now, run!"

So Sally ran. She ran well and quietly and came up with her father
just after he had turned that last corner. The professor must have
been startled at the unexpectedness of the touch upon his arm, for he
turned savagely, prepared, apparently, to strike.

"Father!" cried Sally; but she did not shrink back. "Father! It's only
me!"

The look in Professor Ladue's eyes changed. Some fear may have come
into it; a fear that always seemed to be latent where Sally was
concerned. His look was not pleasant to see directed toward his own
little daughter. The savage expression was still there, and a frown,
denoting deep displeasure.

"Sally!" he exclaimed angrily. Then he was silent for a time; a time,
it is to be presumed, long enough for him to collect his scattered
faculties and to be able to speak as calmly as a professor should
speak to his daughter, aged ten.

"Sally," he said at last, coldly, "may I ask how you came here?"

"Why," Sally replied, speaking hastily, "I was coming in town, this
afternoon,--I planned it, long ago, with mother,--and--"

"Is your mother with you?" the professor interrupted.

To a careful observer he might have seemed more startled than ever;
but perhaps Sally was not a careful observer. At all events, she gave
no sign.

"Mother had a headache and couldn't come," said Sally quietly. She
must have been afraid that her father would ask other questions. It
was quite natural that he should want to know who did come with her.
So she went on rapidly. "But I thought I'd come just the same, so I
did, and I went to your laboratory, but you'd just gone and I followed
on after and I caught you just as you turned this corner, and now I
would like to have you go down to the shops with me. I want to buy
something for mother and Charlie. Will you go with me, father?"

The professor did not ask any of the questions that Sally feared.
Possibly he had as much fear of the answers as Sally had of the
questions. So he asked none of the questions that one would think a
father would ask of his little daughter in such circumstances. As
Sally neared the end of her rapid speech, his eyes had narrowed.

"So," he said slowly, "I gather from what you have left unsaid that
your mother sent you after me."

There was the faintest suspicion of a sneer in his voice, but he tried
to speak lightly. As had happened many times before, he did not
succeed.

"She didn't," answered Sally, trying to be calm. Her eyes burned. "She
didn't want me to come. I came on my own hook."

"It might have been wiser, Sally," the professor observed judicially,
"to do what your mother wished."

Sally made no reply. She would have liked to ask him if he did--if he
ever did what her mother wished.

Sally saying nothing and seeming somewhat abashed, the professor found
himself calmer. "So that course did not commend itself to your
judgment? Didn't think it best to mind your mother. And you went to
the laboratory and--who let you in?" he asked suddenly.

"One of the cleaners."

"Oh, one of the cleaners. A very frowzy lady in a faded black skirt
and no waist worth mentioning, I presume." The professor seemed
relieved. "And you went in, and didn't find me. Very natural. I was
not there. And having made up your mind, from internal evidence, I
presume, which way I had gone,--but who told you?--oh, never mind.
It's quite immaterial. A very successful trail, Sally; or shall I say
shadow? You must have the makings of a clever detective in you. I
shouldn't have suspected it. Never in the world."

The professor was quite calm by this time; rather pleased with
himself, especially as he had chanced to remark the tears standing in
his little daughter's eyes.

"And I never suspected it!" he repeated. Then he laughed; but it was a
mirthless laugh. If he had known how empty it would sound, the
professor would never have done it.

At his laugh, two of the aforesaid tears splashed on the sidewalk, in
spite of Sally's efforts to prevent. The tears may not have been
wholly on her own account. She may have felt some pity for her
father's pitiful pretense.

She bit her lip. "Will you go with me now, father?" she asked, as soon
as she could trust herself to speak at all.

It was always somewhat difficult to account for the professor's
actions and to assign the motive which really guided. The professor,
himself, was probably unaware, at the time, of having any motive. So
why seek one? It need not concern us.

"Go with you, Sally? Why, yes, indeed. Certainly. Why not?" he agreed
with an alacrity which was almost unseemly; as if he challenged
anybody to say that that was not just what he had meant to do, all
along. "I have some presents to buy--for your mother and Charlie. And
for somebody else, too," he murmured, in a tone that was, no doubt,
meant for Sally to hear. She heard it.

Sally smiled up at him and took his hand, which she seldom did. It is
true that she seldom had the chance. Then she glanced quickly around,
to see whether Fox and Henrietta were in sight. The street was
deserted.

Professor Ladue buttoned his coat; but the wind was rising still, and
the chill increasing, and his coat was rather light for the season.
What more natural than that he should wish it buttoned? But Sally
would have unbuttoned her coat gladly. She would not have felt the
chill; and she almost skipped beside him, as they walked rapidly down
toward streets which were not deserted, but crowded with people. As
they went, he talked more and more light nonsense, and Sally was
happy; which was a state much to be desired, but unusual enough to be
worthy of remark.

They were very late in getting home. With the crowds and the snow
which had begun to fall, there was no knowing what the trains would be
up to. Trains have an unpleasant habit of being late whenever there is
any very special reason for wishing to get in promptly. But I suppose
there is always somebody on any train who has a very special reason
for wishing to get in promptly. There was on this train. Sally had a
bad case of the fidgets, thinking of her mother, who must be waiting
and waiting and wondering why her little daughter didn't come. It
would be bad for her head. The professor, too,--but I don't know about
the professor; he may have been in no hurry.

When at last they did get home, after a long wade through snow up to
her shoetops, Sally ran up to her mother's room, shedding her wet and
snowy things as she ran. She knocked softly and, at the first sound of
her mother's voice, she went in and shut the door gently behind her.
The room was nearly pitch dark, but she could see the bed, dimly, and
she ran to it and ran into her mother's arms.

"Bless you, Sally, darling!" Mrs. Ladue cried softly. "You don't know
how glad I am to have you back."

"I got him, mother, dear," Sally whispered. "I got him. But it was
only by the skin of my teeth."



CHAPTER VI


If Sally did get the professor only by the skin of her teeth, she had
no need to keep that precarious hold upon him. Providence or the
elements, or whatever you wish to call it, took that matter in hand
and attended to it with the thoroughness usual in cases in which it
undertakes to attend to anything. For Sally awoke the next morning to
find her world bound fast in ice. Every twig bore its load except such
as had refused to bear it. The birches, in scattered clumps, bowed
down to the ground, and the hard crust of the snow was littered with
broken branches.

Sally stood at her window, looking out. It was beautiful, there was no
denying it; but, as she looked at the birches, every one of them bent
to the ground, with the freshly fallen snow covering it, and its top
held fast under the crust, her lip curled a little. She didn't think
much of a tree which couldn't hold itself up. It seemed to her too
much like saving yourself at the price of your self-respect. Better be
a self-respecting, upstanding tree, even if you did lose an arm or
two; better to go down altogether, if need be, but fighting. Yes, in
spite of their beauty, she despised the birches. And, with some such
thoughts as these, she turned from the window and dressed quickly.

Nothing came that morning. A horse could hardly get through that crust
with safety to his legs. In consequence, the professor had no cream.
Sally fully expected an outburst of rage, which, with the professor,
took the form of acidly sarcastic remarks. His remarks, while
preserving outward forms of politeness, usually resulted in reducing
Mrs. Ladue to tears as soon as she had gained the seclusion of her own
room. It was not that Professor Ladue held his wife accountable for
such things as heavy snowstorms or sleet-storms--upon full
consideration. Such things are usually denominated "acts of God," and,
in contracts, the contractors are expressly relieved from
responsibility for failure of performance in consequence. The
professor himself, upon full consideration, would have held such
exemption quite proper. But his wife was not a contractor and was
entitled to no such exemptions. A professor was entitled to cream for
his breakfast.

Sally, coming down with Charlie, found her father eating his breakfast
in solitude and in apparent content, and without cream; certainly
without cream. Mrs. Ladue had not appeared. Perhaps she was tired of
being reduced to tears on such occasions and had more confidence in
Sally than she had in herself. Certainly the professor was less apt to
indulge his taste for acid sarcasm with Sally. There is little
satisfaction to be got out of it when the only effect upon the hearer
is a barely perceptible rise in color and a tightening of the lips. At
all events, he did not do what was expected of him.

"Good-morning, Sally," he said pleasantly.

Sally was much surprised. She was so much surprised that the blood
surged into her cheeks in a flood. That was a greater effect than
could have been produced by acid sarcasm in any amount. The professor
might have noted that. Perhaps he did.

"Good-morning, father," Sally replied, smiling. She hesitated for a
fraction of a second, then, yielding to her impulse, she put her arm
around his neck and kissed him on the cheek. "Good-morning." And she
went quickly to her seat, her cheeks blazing.

The professor was so astonished at this act of Sally's,--an act as
difficult to foresee and to provide against as an act of God,--he was
so thoroughly astonished, I say, that he spilled some of the coffee
which had no cream in it. But let us hope he would not have wanted to
provide against that act of God.

"Well, Sally," he said, laughing lightly, "it's surprising to think
what the weather can do when it tries. Only yesterday afternoon, bare
ground and scarcely a hint of what was coming. Now, here we are, tied
up."

"Tied up?" Sally asked.

"Tied up," he repeated. "There's little doubt about it. No milkman."
He waved his hand. "And there'll be no grocer and no anybody else.
You'll see. No butcher--meat man--we don't have butchers, now. Just
think of that, Sally. No meat until spring. How will you like that? We
should have been keeping chickens and pigs and we ought to have cows
and a calf or two. Then I would take my axe in my hand and my knife
and I would sally out to the barn. You would hear sounds of murder and
we should have fresh meat. Fresh meat!" The professor looked
ferocious.

"And no trains," he added meditatively. "I haven't heard a train this
morning and I don't expect to."

"Well," said Sally, "you don't have to take them. What do you care?"

"Ah, true," he replied in the same meditative tone. "Very just, Sally.
I don't have to take them, and what do I care? What do I? Answer,
nothing."

The professor waved his hand again and drank his coffee. An
irrepressible chuckle came from Sally. She said nothing, but waited
for her father to resume. He always did resume when he was in this
mood, which was not often.

He put down his empty cup. "And what do we do? We finish our
breakfast, which may be a matter of some time, judging from quantity
alone." He pointed to Sally's plate and to Charlie's. Charlie had been
eating industriously ever since he sat down. "We finish our breakfast
and we loaf awhile, and then we bundle up and try to shovel out; you,
Sally, and I and Charlie."

Here he pointed a finger at Charlie, who emitted a roar of delight.

"An' can I shovel with my little snow-shovel? Can I?"

The professor poured for himself another cup of coffee. "You are to
have the felicity of shoveling with your little snow-shovel, Charlie.
See that you do good work with it. And Sally shall take the
_middle-sized_ snow-shovel, and I will take the GREAT BIG snow-shovel."

Another roar from Charlie, who began to eat faster.

"This coffee, Sally," continued the professor, "would be better if the
storm had been less severe. But it does very well. It is most
excellent coffee. It is probably better for my health than it would be
with cream. For, do you know, Sally, I am well convinced that cream
with coffee forms quite another substance, which is deleterious to
health and destructive of the ability to sleep, although affecting in
no way the desire to do so. And that, Sally, is most unpleasant."

Professor Ladue was speaking in his lecture-room voice and very
seriously. Sally was smiling. As he finished, the smile grew into a
chuckle and she choked. Charlie, having taken an extraordinarily large
mouthful, and being diverted from the ensuing process by the choking
of Sally, also choked.

"Sally," said the professor calmly, "your little brother needs your
attention. He needs it rather badly, it seems to me." For Charlie had
his mouth open and was getting red in the face.

Sally got up hastily and pounded Charlie on the back. That measure
being ineffective, she shook him violently. He gasped twice.

"Want to race," he exploded.

The professor looked surprised. "An eating race, Charlie?" he asked.
"Why, my dear boy, I shouldn't stand a ghost of a chance with you. We
might make it a handicap, but, even then--"

"Shoveling race," Charlie explained. "You have the great big
snow-shovel an' Sally have the middle-sized shovel an' I have the
little snow-shovel, an' we race to see who can get the most done."

"Brilliant idea, Charlie, positively glittering," his father
returned. "But it would hardly be fair to start us all from scratch, I
am afraid. Better make it a handicap, eh?"

"Yes," Charlie replied, not knowing in the least what a handicap was.

Neither did Sally. "What is a handicap, father?" she asked.

Her father explained.

"Oh," she said, approving, "then it makes the race fair, doesn't it?
Every one has as much chance of winning as everybody else. I think
that is nice."

"It is an attempt in that direction, Sally. But there are many things
about it, about--er--racing--of any kind, that it is just as well you
shouldn't know. So I will not try to explain. If every one concerned
acts fairly, Sally, and with good judgment, it is nice, as you say."

Sally was not going to be put off. "Why doesn't everybody act fairly?"

The professor waved his hand and shrugged his shoulders; but before he
could make any other reply, the door opened softly. He welcomed the
opening of the door. It put a stop to Sally's questioning, which was
apt to become embarrassing, in certain cases.

A glance at Sally's face would have told Professor Ladue who had
opened the door, but it is to be supposed that he knew. Sally jumped
up and ran; and the professor rose--rose with some alacrity--and
turned.

"Good morning, Sarah," he said pleasantly. "We are all glad to see
you. I hope you are feeling better."

Mrs. Ladue smiled happily. One would have thought that Professor Ladue
would have tried that manner oftener. It produced much effect with
little effort; but I spoke hastily. I do not know how much effort it
was.

"Thank you, Charlie--Charlie, dear," she answered, hesitating a
little; "I do feel very much better. I heard all the happy noise down
here and I had to come down."

"Don't apologize, my dear," he protested; "don't apologize, or we
shall have to believe that you didn't mean to come because you didn't
want to."

Mrs. Ladue took her seat, but made no reply. There was a faint color
in her cheeks and she looked almost shyly at her husband. Sally was
gazing at her mother, but not in wonder. There was no fathoming Sally.
She reached out and pressed her mother's hand.

"You look so very pretty, mother," she whispered.

The color in Mrs. Ladue's cheeks became deeper. "Hush, dear," she
whispered in return. "It must be because I am happy."

"I wish we could always be happy," Sally whispered again; "all of us."

There was no way of knowing whether her father had heard these
whispers. He might have heard, but he gave no sign, looking into his
empty cup and playing with the spoon.

"Sally," he said suddenly, "what do you suppose my little lizard would
have done if he had waked up some morning and found his swamp covered
with this?" The professor waved his hand toward the window.

Sally was much interested. "Would he have flown away?"

"Wrong," cried the professor, getting up and walking to the window.
"Guess again."

Sally gave the question some thought. "I don't know," she said at
last.

"Wrong again. Next! Charlie!"

Charlie had his mouth full. He looked up in surprise. "What?" he
spluttered.

"What would my little lizard have done this morning?"

Charlie was no Fletcherite. He swallowed his mouthful very nearly
whole. Then he gasped a little which is not to be wondered at.

"Little lizard would take his little snow-shovel and shovel a great
big place--" he began. Then an idea seemed to strike him and he
stopped with his mouth open. "No," he cried; "little lizard would be
dead."

"Very possibly, Charlie. That's the nearest answer, so far." The
professor turned and regarded his son curiously. "I should really
like to know how you arrived at that conclusion."

"Lizard died a long time ago," Charlie answered. "Couldn't wake up
this morning because you've got the bones upstairs."

The professor laughed. "A very just observation," he remarked. "You
have a logical mind, Charles."

Charles slid down from his chair. "I'm through my breakfast," he
announced. "Want to shovel."

"You forget our programme, Charlie," said his father. "We are to loaf
now. It is always best to eat slowly, masticate your food well,
refrain from drinking when you are thirsty, and stand for half an hour
after eating. There are other things which I forget. But we will loaf
now."

The professor lit a cigarette, after due preliminaries. Mrs. Ladue had
finished, apparently. She had come down rather to enjoy the rare
occasion than to eat. Perhaps it was a knowledge of that fact which
had kept the professor going and a desire--an inexplicable desire--on
his part to keep her in her state of happiness. It was seldom possible
to account for his actions. At all events, he was accomplishing that
end. It was a great pity that his desires did not always run in that
direction. It would have been so easy; so very easy for him, and it
would have made his wife so very happy. But the time when that would
have done any great good may have passed already.

The professor followed out his programme religiously, talking when he
felt like it, always a pleasant and cheerful flow of irresponsible
talk, and loafing conscientiously for half an hour. Mrs. Ladue sat
still, saying little, afraid to move lest the movement break the
spell. Charlie had slipped out, unnoticed.

Presently there was a great noise on the cellar stairs, sounding like
distant thunder. The noise stopped for a moment.

"What's going on?" asked the professor casually. "Socialists in the
cellar? Not that I care," he added, with a wave of his cigarette.
"Mere curiosity. I should be glad to meet any socialists; but not in
the cellar."

Mrs. Ladue laughed gently. It was a long time since the professor had
heard her laugh. That thought occurred to him.

"You will, I think. They are opening the cellar door now. There they
come."

For the noise had resumed, and was approaching along the hall. The
door of the dining-room swung open suddenly and Charlie entered,
earnest and intent and covered with dust and cobwebs. Behind him
dragged three snow-shovels, also covered with dust and cobwebs.

Sally sprang for him. "Oh, Charlie--"

He brushed her aside. "I brung your shovel, father," he said, "an'
Sally's. I couldn't lift 'em all at once, an' so I dragged 'em."

The professor bowed. "So I gathered," he replied. "I thank you,
Charles."

"But, Charlie," Sally cried, "you're all over dust and so are the
shovels. They ought to have been dusted."

Charlie had dropped the shovels on the floor, thinking his mission
ended. Now he leaned over and thoughtfully wiped the shovels, one
after another, with his hand.

"They are," he said, gazing at his grimy hand, "aren't they? But it
was dark an' I couldn't see. Besides, the snow'll clean 'em. I want to
shovel an' race, father," he added, somewhat impatiently. "Isn't it
time yet?"

"Charlie," said his father, throwing away his cigarette, "in the words
of Friar Bacon's brass head, time is. Come on."



CHAPTER VII


The next month passed very pleasantly for the Ladues. Sleet-storms
cannot last forever and, the morning after Christmas, Sally heard the
trains running with some regularity. She was anxious accordingly and
she watched her father closely. But he did not seem to care whether
trains ever ran or not. His pleasant mood lasted, too: the mood of
light banter, in which he appeared to care something for his wife and
children; something, if not enough. They were grateful for that
little, although they knew very well that it was but a mood that might
change utterly in five minutes. It did not change for a surprisingly
long time, and Sally almost held her breath at first, while she waited
for it to pass. It would have been a relief--yes, distinctly it would
have been a relief, at first. But that feeling passed, too.

In short, the professor was good, and Sally was happy. After the
tension of that first expectation was over she was very nearly as
happy as she should have been always. Children have a right to
happiness--to freedom from real worries--as far as we can compass that
end; and Sally had been deprived of her birthright. I wonder whether
the professor had ever realized that; whether he had ever given it a
thought.

Mrs. Ladue was happy, too, because Sally was happy and because her
husband was kind to her, temporarily. He was not as kind as he might
have been, but then, he might have been so very much worse. He might
have beaten her. He had been accustomed to beat her, figuratively, for
some years. At first, too, her head seemed really better. At the end
of a week of the new order of things, she spoke of it to Sally. She
knew better than to mention the subject of headaches to the
professor.

Sally was overjoyed. She buried her head in a pillow that happened to
be handy, and wept. A strange thing to do! "Oh, mother, dear!" she
cried. "Oh, mother, dear, if it only will stay so!"

Mrs. Ladue gathered the child into her arms. "There darling!" she said
softly. "There, my dear little daughter! We'll hope it will."

But when, at the end of a month, Sally looked back and compared, she
knew that it hadn't. It had been a happy month, though. Fox and
Henrietta had been in every day, and, while Sally played--or was
supposed to be playing--with Henrietta, Fox sometimes sat with her
mother. Mrs. Ladue became very fond of Fox. He didn't talk much, nor
did she. Indeed, Sally thought, in that fit of retrospection, that Fox
had seemed to be watching her mother; at least, occasionally. And Fox,
saying little, saw much. Sally knew. There was no telling how she knew
it, but she did; so she went to him, rather troubled, and asked what
he thought about her mother's health.

He considered, looking seriously at her for a long time.

"Well, Sally," he answered at last, "it isn't any better, on the
whole. I should think she ought to consult some doctor about it--some
good doctor."

"Oh," said Sally in a low voice, "you--I hope you don't think--"

"I don't think, Sally," Fox interrupted. "I know there is some cause
beyond my limited knowledge, and some one who really knows should see
your mother--if any one really knows. Doctors don't know much, after
all."

Sally considered, in her turn, for a long time, her eyes searching
Fox's face.

"Then," she concluded, sighing, "I shall have to speak to father about
it. Well,--I will."

"That's the best thing to do," he replied. "And, Sally, remember, if
he doesn't receive the suggestion favorably, you are to let me know."

"He won't," said Sally, with a faint little smile; "that is, he never
did. I let you know now. He may," she added doubtfully. "He has been
nice for a long time." Sally flushed at this implied confession, but
why should she not make it? Fox knew.

"You try it, Sally, and let me know how you come out."

So Sally tried it. It may have been a mistake, but how should Sally
have foreseen? It was as likely that, at the worst, she but hastened
her father's action; touched off the charge prematurely. The explosion
would have come.

There was no beating about the bush. "Father," Sally began soberly,
"don't you think that mother ought to see some good doctor? I do."

If her heart beat a little faster, as she spoke, there was no tremor
in her voice.

Professor Ladue looked up. He had been prepared to throw back some
light answer and to see Sally smile in response; perhaps to hear her
chuckle. But, deuce take it, there was no knowing what that confounded
child would say next. It was presuming upon his good nature. It
occurred to the professor that he had been good-natured for an
unreasonably long time. He was surprised and he was annoyed.

Meanwhile that confounded child was looking at him out of sombre gray
eyes, waiting for his reply. As the professor's look met those eyes,
they seemed to see right through him, and the sharp answer which
trembled on the tip of his tongue was left unsaid. It was astonishing
how often that happened. The professor was aware of it!--uncomfortably
aware--and the knowledge annoyed him the more. The professor was to be
excused. It is most unpleasant to have one's naked soul exposed to the
view of one's little daughter. One's soul needs to be a pretty good
sort of a soul to stand that, without making its owner squirm. And the
professor's soul was--well, it was his; the only one he had. But he
did squirm, actually and in the flesh.

He tried to speak lightly, but his look shifted. He could not meet
Sally's eyes without speaking the truth. "What is the matter with
your mother, Sally?" he asked. "Stomach-ache or toothache?"

Sally did not smile. "Her headaches. They are getting worse."

"Pouf!" said the professor, with a wave of his hand. "Everybody has
headaches. What's a headache?"

"I don't know," Sally replied, "and she doesn't and I think she ought
to."

"The definition," remarked the professor coldly, "is to be found in
the dictionary, I have no doubt. You might look it up and tell her."

"And so I think," Sally continued, as if he had not spoken, "that
mother ought to see a doctor; a doctor that knows about headaches."

"Oh," said the professor, more coldly than before. "So you would like
to have a specialist called in; a specialist in headaches."

"I don't know whether that's what you call them," Sally returned
bravely. "If it is, then I would."

Her father had turned toward her, but he did not look at her. "Most
interesting!" He got a cigarette from the drawer and proceeded to beat
out some of the tobacco. "Doctor--er--what's-his-name, from the
village, wouldn't do, then?"

"No, he wouldn't." There was just a suspicion of a quiver in Sally's
voice. "He doesn't know enough."

"Indeed! You have not communicated your opinion of his knowledge, or
his lack of it, to him, I take it?"

Sally shook her head. She could not have spoken, even if the question
had called for a reply.

"Do you know what a specialist charges, Sally?"

She shook her head again.

"For taking a case like your mother's, Sally," he said slowly, "which
would be nuts to him, I have no doubt, his charge would be more, in a
week, than I could pay in ten years."

"It is very important," Sally urged. "It is very important for
mother."

The professor rose. "Much as I regret the necessity, I feel obliged to
decline." He made her a bow. "No specialists for this family. If your
mother feels the need of a physician, let her call Doctor
what's-his-name from the village."

Sally turned to go without a word.

"And, Sally," her father added, "be kind enough to tell your mother
that important matters at the college require my attention. She is not
to be alarmed if I fail to come in my usual train. I may be kept
late."

The phrase sounded familiar. It was the old formula which Sally had
hoped would not be used again. She went out quietly, feeling
responsible. It was absurd, of course, but she could not help it. She
meant to find Fox and tell him; but not quite yet. She couldn't bear
it yet.

The matters at the college must have been very important, for they--or
something--kept Professor Ladue late, as he had seemed to fear; the
important matters--or something--must have kept him too late for the
last train that night. To be sure, Sally did not know anything about
it, at the time. She had not indulged a hope of anything else, and had
gone to bed and to sleep as usual. For Sally was a healthy little
animal, and she was asleep in a very few minutes after her head had
touched the pillow. Her eyes may have been wet. Mrs. Ladue went to
bed, too. Her eyes were not wet, but there was an ache in her head and
another just above her heart. She may have gone to sleep at once or
she may not. It is conceivable that she lay there, with her two aches,
until after the last train had got in.

It was the middle of the next forenoon before Sally got a chance to
tell Fox about it; and Fox listened, not too sympathetically. That
seemed to him to be the best way to treat it. He would have made light
of it, even, for Sally was oppressed by the sense of her own
responsibility; but Sally would have none of it.

"Don't, Fox, please," she said.

"Well," he replied, "I won't, then. But don't you worry, Sally. We'll
have your mother fixed up, all right, yet."

"How?" she asked.

"I haven't decided. But I'm going to bend the whole power of a great
mind to the question. When I've found the best way to do it, I'm going
to do it. You'll see."

Sally sighed with relief. She had not got beyond the stage of thinking
that Fox could do anything that he tried to do. Perhaps he could.

They were down by the gate, Fox leaning upon it and Sally standing on
a bar and swinging it gently. Occasionally she looked down the road.

"Here comes father," she said suddenly, in a low voice.

"Stay where you are, Sally." Fox checked her impulse to run.

The professor was walking fast and he came in at the gate almost
immediately. Sally had dismounted. He looked annoyed and would have
passed without a word.

"Good-morning," said Fox cheerfully.

The professor turned, giving Fox one of his smiles which was not a
smile at all. If the professor had chanced to turn one of those smiles
upon a too confiding dog, the dog would have put his tail between his
legs and run. Vivisection came after.

"Good-morning," said the professor acidly. "I shall be obliged to
delay our session for an hour."

"Very well, sir, whenever it is convenient for you." And Fox smiled
cheerfully again.

The professor turned once more. His eyes were bloodshot, he was
unshaven, and--well, tousled. In short, the professor looked as if he
had been sitting up all night. He had.

"You see," said Sally solemnly. Her father was out of hearing, as may
be supposed.



CHAPTER VIII


Professor Ladue had had a relapse. There was no doubt about it. It was
rather serious, too, as relapses are apt to be; but what could be
expected? He had been good for a long time, a very long time for him.
It was even an unreasonably long time for him, as had occurred to him,
you will remember, in the course of his conversation with Sally, and
nobody had any right to expect more. What Mrs. Ladue and her daughter
Sally thought they expected was really what they hoped. They did not
expect it, although they thought that they did; and the proof is that,
when the first relapse happened, they were not surprised. They were
deeply discouraged. The future looked pretty black to Sally as she
swung there on the gate. It looked blacker yet when the professor did
it twice again in one month. That was in March. But the worst was to
come. It was lucky that Sally did not know it. It is always lucky that
we do not know, at one blow, all that is to happen to us. Our courage
might not survive that blow. Instead, it has a chance to grow with
what it feeds upon.

So Sally went her daily round as cheerfully as she could. That was not
any too cheerfully, and her unexpected chuckles became as rare as
roses in December. Even her smiles seemed to be reserved for her
mother and to be tender rather than merry. She watched the progress of
her mother's disease, whatever it was, with solicitude and anxiety,
although she tried desperately hard not to show her mother how anxious
she was.

Mrs. Ladue's progress was very slow; imperceptible, from day to day,
and she had her ups and downs. It was only when she could look back
for a month or more that Sally was able to say to herself, with any
certainty, that her mother was worse--that the downs had it. But
always, when Sally could look back and compare, she had to confess to
herself that that was so. The headaches were no more frequent nor did
they seem to be harder to bear; but her mother seemed--it was a
struggle for Sally to have to acknowledge it, even to herself--her
mother seemed to be growing stupid. Her intelligence seemed to be
diminishing. What was Fox thinking of, to let that happen?

When this question presented itself, Sally was again swinging moodily
upon the gate, regarding the muddy road that stretched out before her.
Charlie was playing somewhere behind her, equipped with rubber boots
and a heavy coat. It is to be feared that Sally had forgotten Charlie.
It was not her habit to forget Charlie. And it is to be feared that
she was forgetting that the last day of March had come and that it was
warm and springlike, and that there were a number of birds about. It
was not her habit to forget any of those things either, especially the
birds. There was a flash of blue under a tree near by and, a few
seconds later, a clear song rang out. Charlie stopped his play and
looked, but Sally did not see the blue wings nor the ruddy breast nor
did she seem to hear the song.

That question had brought her up short. She stopped her rhythmic
swinging to and fro.

"I'll ask him," she said. Her faith in Fox was absolute.

She opened the gate quickly, and started to run.

There was a roar from Charlie. "Sally! Where you goin'? Wait for me! I
want to go, too. I'm awful hot. Can't I take off my coat? An' these
boots are hot. I want to take 'em off."

Sally sighed and waited. "I'm afraid I forgot you, Charlie. Take off
your coat, if you're too hot, and leave it by the gate."

Charlie had the overcoat off and he dropped it by the side of the
footpath.

"Not there, Charlie," Sally said impatiently. "Inside the gate. We
don't leave overcoats by the side of the road."

"You didn't say inside," Charlie returned sulkily. "I left it where
you said." He opened the gate and cast the offending garment inside.
"And these boots--can I take 'em off?"

"No," said Sally sharply, "of course not. If your feet are hot they'll
have to stay hot. You can't go in your stocking feet in March."

"I don't see why not," grumbled Charlie. "I could take my stockings
off, too."

Sally made no reply to this protest. She took his hand in hers. "Now,
run, Charlie. I'm in a hurry."

So Charlie ran as well as a small boy can run in rubber boots and
along a path that is just muddy enough to be exceedingly slippery.
When they came to the corner that they had to turn to go to Fox's, he
was almost crying and Sally was dragging him. They turned the corner
quickly and almost ran into Henrietta.

"Oh!" cried Henrietta, startled. "Why, Sally!"

Charlie laughed. "Why didn't you go faster, Sally? Then we might have
run into her--plump."

He laughed again, but got no attention from Sally.

"Where's Fox?" she asked.

"He went into town this morning," Henrietta answered. "He told me to
tell you to cheer up. I don't know what it's about, but probably you
do. I was just on my way to tell you. Come on. Let's go back to your
house."

Sally gave a sigh of relief. Fox had not forgotten, after all. There
was nothing to do but to wait; but Sally was rather tired of waiting.

"Well, Henrietta," she said, "then we will. But I want to see Fox as
soon as ever I can."

Fox at that moment was sitting in the private office of a physician--a
specialist in headaches--and was just finishing his story. He had
mentioned no names and it was hardly conceivable that he was talking
about himself. Fox did not look like a person who was troubled with
any kind of aches.

That seemed to be the opinion of the doctor, at any rate. It would
have been your opinion or mine.

"I take it that you are not the patient," he said, smiling.

That doctor was not the type of the grasping specialist; he did not
seem to be the kind of man who would charge as much as a patient would
be likely to be able to pay--all that the traffic would bear. But who
is, when you come to know them? Probably the doctors of that type, in
any large city, could be counted on the fingers of one hand. I know of
one conspicuous example, and one only, and he is dead now. But he
squeezed out large fees while he lived, and became very rich; and he
was so busy with his squeezing that he had no time to enjoy his
gains--I had almost said his ill-gotten gains. But that is by the way.

This doctor of Fox's--we will call him Doctor Galen, for the sake of a
name--this Doctor Galen was a kindly man, who had sat leaning one
elbow on the table and looking out at Fox under a shading hand and
half smiling. That half smile invited confidence, and, backed by the
pleasant eyes, it usually got it. Whether that was the sole reason for
its being is beside the question; but probably it was not.

In response to the doctor's remark, Fox smiled, too, and shook his
head.

"Am I to see this patient of yours?" asked Doctor Galen casually.

Fox was distinctly embarrassed. "Is it absolutely necessary, Doctor?"
he asked, in return. "It is difficult to arrange that--without a
complete change of base," he added. "It might be done, I suppose, but
I don't see how, at this minute."

"The only reason that it might be necessary," said the doctor,
speaking slowly, "is that you may have neglected some symptom that is
of importance, while seeming to you to be of no consequence whatever.
It is always desirable to see a patient. I have to take into account,
for example, the whole life history, which may be of importance--and
it may not."

Fox made no answer to this, but he looked troubled and he drummed with
his fingers upon his knee.

"Can't we assume the patient to be--merely for the sake of fixing our
ideas--" Doctor Galen continued, looking away and searching for his
example, "well--er--Professor Ladue? Or, no, he won't do, for I saw
him a few days ago, in quite his usual health. Quite as usual."

"You know Professor Ladue, then, Doctor?"

"Oh, yes, I know him," the doctor replied dryly. "Well, as I said, he
won't do. Let us suppose that this case were that of--er--Mrs. Ladue."
The doctor looked at Fox and smiled his pleasant smile. "She will
answer our purpose as well as another."

"Do you know Mrs. Ladue, too?"

"No," said Doctor Galen. "No, I have not that pleasure. But I know her
husband. That," he added, "may be of more importance, in the case we
have assumed--with the symptoms as you have related them."

Fox smiled very slightly. "Well, suppose that it were Mrs. Ladue,
then,--as an instance. Assuming that I have given all the symptoms,
what should you say was the matter with her?"

Doctor Galen did not answer for some minutes. "Well," he said at last,
"assuming that you have given all the symptoms correctly--but you
can't have given them all. I have no means of knowing whether there is
any tendency to hardening of the walls of the arteries. How old is
she?" he asked suddenly.

Fox was startled. "I'm sure I don't know," he answered. "Say that she
is thirty-odd--not over thirty-five."

"That is not likely, then," the doctor resumed, "although it is
possible. I should have to see her to be sure of my ground. But,
assuming that there are no complications,--_no_ complications,--there
is probably a very slight lesion in the brain. Or, it may be that the
walls of the arteries in this neighborhood"--the doctor tapped his
head--"are very thin and there is a gradual seepage of blood through
them. To tell the truth, Mr. Sanderson, we can't know very exactly
what is happening until skulls are made of plate glass. But the remedy
is the same, in this case, whatever is happening, exactly."

"What is the treatment?"

"Oh," said Doctor Galen, apparently in surprise, "there is no
treatment. In the hypothetical case which we have assumed, I should
prescribe rest--absolute rest, physical and mental. We must give those
arteries a chance, you know; a chance to build up and grow strong
again. There is the clot to be absorbed, too. It is likely to be very
slight. It may be completely absorbed in a short time. Given time
enough, I should expect a complete recovery."

"How much time?" Fox asked.

"That depends upon how far she has progressed and upon how complete a
mental rest she can get. It might be any time, from a few weeks to a
few years."

Fox hesitated a little. "Then, I suppose, any--er--anxiety might
interfere?"

"Any mental disturbance," Doctor Galen replied decidedly, "would most
certainly retard her recovery. It might even prevent it altogether.
Why, she ought not to think. I hope she has not got so far that she is
unable to think?"

"No, not yet," Fox sighed and rose. "It's not so simple as you might
suppose. But I'm grateful to you, Doctor. I'll see what can be done
and I may call upon you again." He put his hand to his pocket. "Shall
I pay you now?"

Doctor Galen smiled as he checked Fox's motion. "Hadn't you better
wait until you get my bill? Yes, wait if you please."

That smile of Doctor Galen's seemed to envelop Fox in an atmosphere of
kindliness. "You'll send one, Doctor?" he asked doubtfully.

"How do you suppose, sir," said the doctor, smiling more than
ever,--he seemed really amused, that doctor,--"how do you suppose,
sir, that I should pay my grocer, otherwise? You have put yourself
into the clutches of a specialist, Mr. Sanderson. We are terrible
fellows. You are lucky to escape with your life."

"Well," Fox replied, laughing, "I thank you again, Doctor, at any
rate; and for letting me escape with my life."

The doctor let him out by a door that did not open into the outer
office.

"Let me know how you come on with your schemes," the doctor said. "I
am really interested. And, if you find it possible to give me a
half-hour with your patient, I hope you will do so. It will be much
better. Good-bye, Mr. Sanderson."

"I will," said Fox. "Good-bye, Doctor."

The doctor shut the door and touched a button on his desk. He was
still smiling. A nurse appeared noiselessly.

"A nice boy, that, Miss Mather, and a deserving case," he commented.
"I should be glad to be able to believe that all my patients were as
deserving. But I shouldn't make much," he added.

Miss Mather smiled, but made no other reply. The doctor was looking
over a little pile of cards. He took up the card from the top of the
pile.

"Mrs. Van Hoofe, Miss Mather."

The nurse disappeared as noiselessly as she had come; and the doctor
proceeded to smooth out his smile and to assume a properly sympathetic
expression. Mrs. Van Hoofe would, perhaps, help him with his grocer's
bills.



CHAPTER IX


Fox was not immediately able to compass the end that was so much to be
desired, but he did it, at last, not without misgivings. If Professor
Ladue had known, what would he have thought--and said--about such
interference with his domestic affairs? There were misgivings on Mrs.
Ladue's part, too, and Fox had to overcome those. She was in no
condition to combat Fox's wish, poor lady!--especially as it was her
own wish, so far as she had any wish in the matter; and she knew that
Sally had her heart set upon it. This is the way it happened.

Sally had been regular in her attendance at the dancing-class, all
winter, and she had applied herself conscientiously to learn what she
went to learn, with more or less success. There is no doubt that she
learned the steps, but there is no less doubt that she failed to get
the Spirit of Dancing. Indeed,--I speak with hesitation,--the Spirit
of Dancing is born, not made. And how should Sally get it if she did
not have it already? How should she get it if she did have it already,
for that matter? It is not a thing that can be bought; it resembles
happiness in that respect. And, although one may buy a very fair kind
of an imitation of either, the real thing comes from within. Henrietta
had had the Spirit of Dancing born in her; in regard to Sally there is
some doubt.

So, if Sally's success was not glittering, it was better than
Henrietta had feared it would be, and she breathed a sigh of relief at
the close of the last day. Sally breathed a sigh of relief, too. She
was unaffectedly glad that it was over. Mrs. Ladue, then experiencing
one of her ups, planned a party for Sally and invited the whole
dancing-class to it. It was to be a birthday party and was to be on
the nineteenth of April, when Sally would have completed her eleventh
year. Sally had always been glad that her birthday happened to come on
the nineteenth of April, for it was a great help in remembering
Leading Dates in American History--or one of them, at least.

They neglected to apprise the professor of the plan, no doubt through
forgetfulness. For, how could he fail to be pleased that his daughter
was to have a birthday party? He did not find it out until the
seventeenth, two days before the event, and then only through the
inadvertence of the caterer, who asked him some question about it. The
caterer was a new man. He had been employed by Mr. Sanderson. Upon
hearing this announcement and without giving the man any reply to his
questions, Professor Ladue rushed off to town. He did not even leave
word, at home, that Mrs. Ladue must not be alarmed if he failed to
make his train. Fox happened to see him walking to and fro on the
station platform, evidently fuming, and to guess where he was going
and why.

We may be very sure that Fox did not tell Mrs. Ladue, but she found it
out the next morning and immediately proceeded to have a down. The up
having had its turn, the down was due, of course, but it was a very
bad down. Fox telephoned for Doctor Galen.

Doctor Galen came out that afternoon. Sally had not been told, but she
knew, somehow, and she was waiting for him by the gate.

"Doctor," she said, "will you let me get you anything that you want
and--and wait on mother? Will you?"

The doctor smiled down at her. "Why, my dear little girl--" he began,
looking into the earnest gray eyes. He did not finish as he had
intended. "I thank you," he said. "If I need anything, you shall get
it for me. And you shall wait upon your mother to your heart's
content. But I can't tell how much waiting upon she will need until I
have seen her."

"Thank you!" Sally cried softly. "I'm glad. I'll take you to mother."
They started towards the house together. "Oh, I forgot," she added,
turning toward him. "I'm Sally Ladue."

The doctor smiled down at her once more. "I gathered as much," he
replied, "putting this and that together. I guess that your mother and
your father are proud of their little girl."

"I don't think that father is," Sally returned soberly.

The doctor's eyes twinkled. "Why, that would be very strange. By the
way, where is your father? In town, at the college?"

Sally flushed to the roots of her hair. "I think he is in town," she
answered, looking carefully straight before her.

"Of course, he must have classes." The doctor had noted that fiery
flush and had drawn his inference. "One would think," he continued,
more to himself than to Sally, "that--er--one would think--" It was
none of his business, he reflected, and he could not see, for the life
of him, how--"Which is your mother's room, Sally?"

They were just entering the house and the doctor was pulling off his
gloves.

"Oh, I'll take you up."

Doctor Galen came out after about half an hour. "Now, Sally," he said
cheerfully, "we'll have her all right again, in time. It may take
quite a long time, so don't you get impatient if it seems slow, will
you, Sally?"

"I'll try not to." Her lip quivered and she began to sob.

"I'm c--crying bec--cause I'm g--glad." Then her sobs stopped suddenly
and she looked up at the doctor; but the tears rolled down her cheeks.
"Mother can't hear me?"

"No, you blessed child. You come with me, Sally, and cry as much as
you like. It'll do you good. And I'll stay until you get through."

So it happened that Fox found them behind a big tree, out of sight
from the house, Sally contentedly crying into the doctor's coat.
Henrietta had gone on.

"She's all right, Mr. Sanderson. It has done her good to cry. I think
she's about through, now."

Sally stopped crying and smiled at them both. "I'm so glad, Fox," she
said.

Fox looked inquiringly at the doctor. "Your opinion, then, is that she
will get well?"

"Yes, if there are no complications. I shouldn't expect any."

Sally, who had been waiting, apparently, to hear the doctor say this
once more, murmured something about her mother and started for the
house, running. She overtook Henrietta.

"Sally," continued the doctor, "seems to be a dear child--"

"She is."

"And her father seems to be--well, it isn't necessary for us to say
what."

Fox laughed.

"There is only one thing--only one which looms up plainly. You and I
have got to think of some way to get Mrs. Ladue away from her present
surroundings. It would answer the purpose quite as well--perhaps
better," the doctor added thoughtfully,--"if her husband could be
removed from the environment. I am speaking rather plainly."

Fox nodded. "I understand," he said. "It is not impossible that
Providence and Professor Ladue, working together, may accomplish that.
I don't know how," he admitted, seeing the question in the doctor's
eyes, "but I think there is going to be an explosion in that college,
some day, soon. Professor Ladue--"

"Pig!" murmured Doctor Galen, under his breath.

"Had better look out," Fox finished. "By the way, Doctor, shall we
have the party that we had planned for to-morrow--Sally's birthday--or
had we better call it off?"

"If you can keep them out of the house," answered the doctor slowly,
"and if they don't make too much noise, I see no objection to it. Mrs.
Ladue will probably sleep through it. I have left a mild
sleeping-potion--I want to keep her dozing, at any rate, for some
days. Arrangements all made, I suppose?"

"They can be unmade easily enough."

"No, no. It isn't worth while. Let Sally have her party. I'll come to
it, myself. You tell her so, will you, Mr. Sanderson?"

So Sally had her party. The knowledge that she had it was some comfort
to Mrs. Ladue, who, in her comfortable, half-asleep condition, was
dimly conscious--and glad--that her illness had made no difference in
the plans for Sally. And Doctor Galen had come; ostensibly to the
party. To be sure, he spent more than half the time with Mrs. Ladue,
mounting the stairs silently, once in a while. Then, if she was
sleeping, he would stand and watch her, observing every movement,
voluntary and involuntary. They all meant something to him; most of
them told him something. If she was not sleeping, she would open her
eyes and smile vaguely, being still in that comfortable, dozing state
when nothing seems to matter much. Then the doctor would enjoin
silence by raising his hand, and she would smile again and close her
eyes while he took a turn about the room, quietly, but not so quietly
as to make his patient nervous.

It was fortunate that the day was pleasant and warm, for that made it
possible to spread the table at some distance from the house, where
the noise would not disturb Mrs. Ladue. Doctor Galen leaned against a
tree and looked on at the happy crew. When they seemed to be about
through their eating and talking, he beckoned to Sally, who came to
him at once.

"I must go now, Sally," he said. "Your guests will be going pretty
soon, I suppose. You won't let them make too much noise near the
house?"

"Why," Sally asked, startled, "is mother--"

"Your mother is doing just what I want her to do," the doctor
replied, interrupting her. "She is doing very well, indeed. It's only
a precaution, my dear little girl. I don't want you to worry, Sally.
I'll look out for your mother. You needn't do anything but follow the
directions I gave you. You can do that easily. And don't worry, Sally,
whatever happens."

The quick tears had rushed to Sally's eyes as Doctor Galen spoke. "Oh,
yes, indeed, I can," she said, "and I won't." This speech was not as
clear as it might have been, and Sally realized it. "Oh, I mean--"

"I know what you mean," the doctor returned, patting her shoulder.
"You're a good girl, Sally. Now, I must go."

When the doctor went out at the gate, a few minutes later, he was
smiling. I don't know what he was smiling at, but it may have been at
the recollection of a kiss which Sally had just bestowed upon him. It
had taken him somewhat by surprise. It had been almost as much of a
surprise to Sally.

"Well," he said to himself, "that was pretty good pay, considering.
But it's just as well that the Mrs. Van Hoofes don't--Hello!"

For there, before him, was Professor Ladue, walking rapidly, his eyes
red and bloodshot, and looking generally tousled. The doctor glanced
at him, took in these details, and decided quickly that it would be
wiser not to speak. Accordingly, he passed the professor with no more
than a bow. The professor glared at him, bowed shortly, then half
turned.

"A lovely spring afternoon, Doctor," he said, clearly and coldly, with
the grimace which did duty for a smile. It was even less like one than
usual.

"Charming!" the doctor replied.

"I should not suppose," continued the professor, almost snarling,
"that a man of your engagements would have time for profitless
excursions into the country."

"Ah," the doctor returned, smiling, "but it was not profitless. I
have been to a birthday party; the party of Miss Sally Ladue."

What reply should the professor have made to that? The professor, at
least, did not know. He turned, again, without a word.

Doctor Galen looked after him, still smiling. Then he, too, turned
again. "I am sorry for Sally," he murmured, sighing. "But Sanderson is
there. He must get her out of it somehow."

Sanderson could not get her out of it, as it happened. The little
bunch of guests was halfway down the walk, laughing and talking; even
Sally laughed a little, although she did not talk much, and her eye
was alert for anybody who might come in at the gate. She hoped,
fervently, that nobody would come in at that gate until the girls were
out of it and safe at home. Then her father emerged from behind the
screen of bushes along the wall and swung the gate wide.

Sally gave one look. "Oh, Fox!" she cried.

But Fox had seen and had run forward.

"Why such haste, Mr. Sanderson?" sneered the professor. "Why such
haste? I require no assistance."

He went on toward the house, smiling at the girls as he passed. The
way opened quickly before that smile of the professor's, and the
laughter and the talk died. The effect was astonishing. And while he
made his way rapidly onward, closely followed by Fox, the group of
Sally's guests fairly melted away. Once outside the gate, and behind
the sheltering screen, they ran.

Sally met Fox just coming out.

"It's all right, Sally," he said. "I persuaded him that no noise is to
be made. I persuaded him."

Sally looked at Fox in wonder. "It didn't take long."

"No, it didn't take long." There were curious firm lines about Fox's
mouth and his voice was not quite steady. What the nature of the
persuasion was, which was so effective and in so short a time, Sally
was not likely to know.



CHAPTER X


Professor Ladue was rather more out of sorts with the world in general
than was usual on such occasions. He was very much out of sorts with
the world in general and with three of its inhabitants in particular:
with his wife, because he was unable, for reasons which Fox had made
clear to him in a very short time, to wreak his ill temper upon her;
with Fox, because he had succeeded so well in making those reasons
clear; and with Doctor Galen, because he was sure that the doctor was
attending Mrs. Ladue. Perhaps I should have said that the professor
was out of sorts with four persons in particular. The fourth person
was Sally. It is hard to see why he should have been put out with her,
who had done nothing to deserve it. But she was good and dutiful and
she saw through him clearly enough; and by so doing she kindled in him
a feeling of helpless resentment.

Of course, we know very well that the professor's behavior was,
itself, the real cause of his feeling. The professor knew that well
enough. He was not dull-witted, whatever else he was. And, because he
knew it, he raged; and, because there was no outlet for his rage, he
raged the more, coldly. Those cold rages of his fairly scared Sally,
and she was not easily scared.

His rage was not any the less because of a letter that Sally brought
up to him, late in the afternoon. She had shrunk from seeing him, but
the letter was from the college, bearing the university arms in the
corner, and it was for special delivery. So Sally thought that it
might be very important. There was no one else to take it to her
father, so she took it, and, in obedience to his brief command, and
with great inward relief, she tucked it under his door.

The letter was important, although not in the way that Sally had
surmised. It was from the provost of the university of which the
professor's college was a part, written with the venerable provost's
own hand and apparently in some haste. It stated that Mr. Ladue had,
that very day, been seen, by the provost and by one other member of
the governing body, to issue from a well-known gambling-house. That
fact, coupled with the rumors which had persisted for a year or two
past, made it imperative that Mr. Ladue should appear before the Board
of Governors, at their next meeting, to clear himself; or, if he
preferred, Mr. Ladue might send in his resignation at once, such
resignation to take effect at the close of the college year.

That was all. One would think that it was quite enough. Professor
Ladue looked up from his brief reading.

"Ah!" he cried airily. "The honorable provost addresses me as Mr.
Ladue. _Mr._ Ladue. And so I am to appear before the Board of Governors
for the purpose of clearing myself--of what? I am accused of coming out
of a house. After all, it is a very quiet, respectable-looking house,
indeed, in a quiet street, rubbing elbows with other quiet,
respectable-looking houses. Does it happen that the honorable provost
and that other member of the governing body have seen more than the
outside of that house? Do I appear before the Board of Governors? I do
not. And do I send in my resignation like a good little boy? I think
not. The honorable provost is a fool. I will write him a letter and
tell him so."

So saying, the professor--we may call him the professor for almost the
last time--the professor went to his desk and wrote the letter. He was
in just the mood to write such a letter and it is to be remembered
that he dealt naturally in caustics. Consequently, the letter was an
excellent letter; it was exactly what it was meant to be. It was a
model of its kind. There is little doubt that it was a poor kind and
that it was very unwise to send it. Having been written, it should
have been burned--utterly destroyed. It would have served its purpose
better. But the professor was in no mood to do what was merely wise.
He was pleased with the letter, proud of it. He was so pleased with it
that he read it over three times. Then he laughed and signed it.

"That will, perhaps, make them sit up. It would give me some pleasure
to be present when he reads it." The professor gazed out into the
great tree, musing pleasantly. "No, it can't be done. It is a matter
of regret that it cannot."

He sealed the letter and went out, at once, to mail it. He was quite
cheerful as he took his hat and his stick from the rack in the hall;
so cheerful that Charlie, who happened to catch sight of him, was
encouraged to hail him. He answered pleasantly, even buoyantly, so
that Sally was sure that she had been right and that the letter which
she had carried up had been important.

The cheerfulness of the professor was spurious, but, such as it was,
it lasted, unimpaired, until the letter was posted. The mail was just
going out, and the postmaster, obliging as postmasters invariably are,
held it long enough to slip in the letter to the provost. The
professor saw it go; then doubts began to assail him, and his
cheerfulness ebbed. He stood irresolute until he heard the train. It
was useless to stand irresolute longer. It is always useless to stand
irresolute for any length of time whatever. The professor knew that
very well. With a quick compression of the lips, he turned homeward.
He was no longer cheerful.

No doubt I was wrong in speaking of him as the professor that last
time. He was, henceforth, to be Mr. Ladue. His professorial career had
been cut off by that letter to the provost as cleanly and as suddenly
as by a sharp axe. That would be true of any college. Mr. Ladue did
not deceive himself about that. There was a need of adjustment to the
new conditions, and he set himself the task of thinking out just what
the new conditions were. He was so busy with his thinking that he
nearly ran into a young man. The young man had just issued from Mr.
Ladue's own gate. But was it his gate? Mr. Ladue happened to have got
to that very matter. There seemed to be a reasonable doubt of it;
indeed, as he progressed farther in his thinking-out process and his
recollection emerged from the fog of habit, there seemed to be no
doubt that it was not his gate at all and that he had been allowed to
think of it as his and to call it his, purely on sufferance.

For he remembered, with a shock, a thoughtless moment, a moment of
inadvertence,--a moment of insanity,--in which he had made over the
place to his wife, Sarah. He had got into the habit of forgetting all
about it. Now it was necessary that he should get out of that habit.
He had never regretted that act more keenly than at that moment. It
was the act of a madman, he told himself impatiently.

As these thoughts passed rapidly through his mind, the aforesaid young
man had gone on his way. If he was to speak, he must speak quickly.

He turned. "Oh, Fox," he said casually, "I am afraid I was rather
abrupt a short time ago. Pray accept my apologies."

It was a new rôle for Mr. Ladue. It cost him something to assume it,
but it was necessary to his purposes that he should. This was one of
the new conditions which must be faced. It was an opportunity which
must be seized before it ceased to be. For Fox it was a totally new
experience to receive an apology from a man like Mr. Ladue. The
experience was so new that he blushed with embarrassment and
stammered.

"Oh,--er--that's all right. Certainly. Don't apologize." He managed to
pull himself together, knowing that what he had said was not the right
thing at all. "And, Professor," he added, "shall we resume our studies
when Mrs. Ladue is better?--when she will not be disturbed?"

Fox did not know as much about Mr. Ladue's affairs as we know, or he
might not have called him by that title. But yet he might.

"To be sure," answered Mr. Ladue, apparently in surprise; "why not?
Is she in a condition to be disturbed by such little matters? I had
rather expected to see her, to talk over an important question." If
Fox chose to infer that the important question related to certain
delinquencies of his own, why, let him think so.

"I am afraid that will be impossible for some time," Fox replied
firmly. "Dr. Galen left instructions that she is, on no account, to be
disturbed. She is not to be compelled to think. It seems to be
important. His instructions were explicit and emphatic on that point."

"Ah," Mr. Ladue remarked calmly. "So Dr. Galen is running my house."

"Yes." There was no lack of firmness in Fox's voice, although he was
not flushing now. "Dr. Galen is running your house. That is the
situation exactly."

"And may I ask," Mr. Ladue inquired coldly,--"may I venture to ask how
it happens that a specialist--one of the most expensive in the
city--is in such a position that he can assume to do so?"

"Certainly you may. I will try to make it clear that it was necessary,
but it will not alter the situation if I fail. Immediately after your
leaving for town, Mrs. Ladue had one of her attacks. It seemed to
Sally--and to me--essential that she should have expert advice at
once. So--in your absence--I sent for Dr. Galen. I am very glad that I
did."

"Do you know what his price will be?"

"I do not. What difference does it make? Mrs. Ladue's life may depend
upon her having the best advice there is to be had."

Mr. Ladue did not answer immediately. He could not well say to Fox
that that was a matter of less importance to himself than the price
that would be charged. Besides, he was not sure that it mattered to
him what Dr. Galen charged. He had no intention of paying it. They
ought to have known that they could not saddle him with their bills
without his consent. Further than that----

"It's all right, of course, Fox," said Mr. Ladue pleasantly, looking
up. "I didn't realize that Mrs. Ladue's condition was serious. Thank
you. Come in as soon as you think it advisable and we will continue
our studies. Good-night."

"Good-night." Fox turned away with a curious mingling of feeling
toward Mr. Ladue. He could not help feeling grateful to him, yet he
did not trust him. What next?

That was precisely the question Mr. Ladue was asking himself as he
walked slowly toward the house. What next? It was most unfortunate
that he could not see his wife, most unfortunate. If he could have the
chance to talk to his wife, Sarah, now, he thought he could persuade
her. Give him but five minutes and he was sure he could persuade her.
He would do better to have the papers ready. He wondered whether he
dared; and, for an instant, he entertained the idea of having that
talk, in spite of Fox and of Dr. Galen. He thought upon it.

"No," he said to himself, "it wouldn't do, under the circumstances. It
wouldn't do. We'll have to give that up."

Mr. Ladue deserved no credit for deciding to give that up. It is to be
feared that the possibility of evil consequences to his wife, Sarah,
played no part in forcing him to that decision. The important thing is
that he did so decide. In the short time that remained before dinner,
he walked to and fro in his room, thinking hard. He could do that very
well when he applied himself to it. At dinner he was unexpectedly
pleasant, giving Sally a sense of security that was not at all
justified by the event. In that, no doubt, he was doing just what he
intended.

That evening, having devoted a certain brief time to thinking to some
purpose, he packed his bag and wrote a short note to his wife. It is
immaterial what he said in that note, but he ended it with these
words: "So you may keep your place, madam, and much good may it do
you. In fact, I think that you will have to keep it. You could not
give a good deed or a good mortgage without my signature." It seemed
an entirely uncalled-for evidence of his ill humor. What had Mrs.
Ladue done to deserve it?

In the morning he came to breakfast as usual, and again he was very
pleasant. Indeed, he was so pleasant that the fact excited Sally's
suspicions. He was not usually so pleasant on the morning after. And
when he had gone to his customary train--carrying a bag, Sally
noted--she found his note, sealed, and addressed, in her father's
well-known scrawling hand, to her mother. She took possession of the
note. Of only one thing was she sure and that was that no note written
by her father--and sealed--was going to be delivered to her mother; at
least, not without advice.

Later she showed the note to Fox; and he, being as uncertain what
ought to be done as Sally was, showed it to Dr. Galen. They three
decided, much against their will, to see what Mr. Ladue had said.

"For," Dr. Galen observed, "Mrs. Ladue is not in condition to read a
note of any kind. She will not be in that condition for a week, at
least. It seems to me, Sally, that you should know what your father
says, especially in view of the circumstances. I advise you to open
it."

"You do it," said Sally.

So the doctor did it. "Of course," he remarked, as he slid the blade
of his knife under the flap, "if, on glancing at it, I see that it is
improper for me to read, I shall not read it. But if, as I fear--"

He was reading it. "The cur!" he muttered, as he finished. He handed
it to Fox. "You read it, Mr. Sanderson."

Fox read it and chuckled. "I ought not to laugh," he explained, "but
it is so--so futile. Delivery to Mrs. Ladue seems out of the question.
And, Sally," he went on, "you shall see this if you want to, but I
wish that you would not want to. Your father has gone, apparently."

"Yes," said Sally, somewhat puzzled, "I know it; to the university?"

"Not to the university, I think. He seems to have lit out. He says
something about getting another position suited to him. He says some
other things that it would give you only pain to read."

Sally's face expressed a curious mingling of anxiety and relief. "I
won't read it if you don't want me to," she said. "But--but what--how
shall we get any money?"

"Don't you worry about that. We'll manage to raise a few cents when we
need to."

Fox had said "we" and that seemed to comfort Sally. Fox turned to the
doctor.

"The environment has taken care of itself," he remarked; and the
doctor smiled.



CHAPTER XI


It was in all the papers. The honorable provost seemed to wish that
the fact of Professor Ladue's break with the authorities of the
university should be known, and he graciously allowed himself to be
interviewed on the subject once a week. As was to be expected, but one
side of the question was presented in these interviews, but that may
have worked no injury to Mr. Ladue, who received undeserved credit for
his silence. It was just as well. In none of those interviews did the
honorable provost give out the letter that Mr. Ladue had written. That
letter contained certain pointed passages which the press should not
get hold of, if he could help it. Mr. Ladue had some reason to be
proud.

Then the reporters began to come out to Mr. Ladue's house, in the hope
of an interview with him. They did manage to get a few words with
Sally, but the words were very few and then Fox came in. So it came
about that Fox Sanderson spent most of his time, from breakfast-time
until bedtime, at the Ladues'. Naturally, Henrietta was there, too.
Sally was well content with any arrangement which brought them both
there all the time.

Those would have been hard times with the Ladues if it had not been
for Fox Sanderson. Mrs. Ladue owned the place, to be sure, but she
owned very little else; hardly more than enough to pay the taxes. And
if Mr. Ladue had been a hard man to extract money from, at least he
had kept the tradesmen satisfied; or, if not satisfied, they were
never sufficiently dissatisfied to refuse to supply the necessities.
It was a different case now, and Sally wondered a good deal how they
contrived to get along. She knew that Fox was managing their affairs,
but things had been going on in this way for a long time before she
got to the point of wondering whether he was supplying the money. She
reached that point at last, and she asked Fox about it.

She had waited until she got him alone and was sure that they would
not be interrupted.

"Fox," she asked without preamble, "where do we get our money?"

Fox was taken by surprise. He had not been expecting any question of
the kind. He found himself embarrassed and hesitating.

"Why," he answered, not looking at her, "why--our money? Er--what do
you want to know for?"

Sally was regarding him steadily. "Because," she replied, "I think I
ought to. Where do we get it?"

"Oh, don't you care, Sally," said Fox carelessly. "We get it
honestly."

Sally's earnest regard did not waver. "Of course we get it honestly.
But where? I think you ought to tell me, Fox. Do you give it to us?"

Sally, bent upon the one purpose, had not thought of sitting down. She
stood squarely before Fox, her fingers interlocked before her, and
gazed up into his face. Fox shifted his weight to the other foot as
she asked the question. Then he laughed a little.

"I give it to you! What an idea!"

"But do you?" Sally insisted. "You haven't said you don't."

"Let's sit down, Sally," said Fox, attempting a diversion. "Aren't you
tired?"

"No, I'm not. But you sit down if you want to. Excuse me for keeping
you standing."

Fox found a chair and seated himself comfortably. Sally again faced
him, still standing.

"Aren't you going to sit down?" asked Fox, seemingly surprised.
"Please do. I can't be satisfied to sit, with you standing." He placed
a chair for her.

"All right," Sally moved the chair around so that she would face him,
and sat down.

"What a lovely summer day, Sally!" he said. "Isn't it, now?"

Sally laughed. She would not be diverted. "Yes," she said. "But you
haven't answered my question."

"Well," asked Fox, sighing, "what is the question?" There seemed to be
no escape.

"Where do we get our money? Do you give it to us?"

"But that," he remonstrated, "makes two questions."

The quick tears rushed into Sally's eyes. "Oh, Fox, won't you tell
me?"

Fox glanced at her and gave in at once. He told the strict truth, for
nothing less would do, for Sally. He couldn't have told anything else,
with those solemn, appealing gray eyes looking at him.

"I'll tell you, Sally," he said quickly. "Just trust me."

Sally smiled. It was like a burst of sunshine. "I do."

"I know it," he returned, "and I'm proud of it. Well, I have been
advancing what money has been needed for the past three months. You
can't say I've given it to you. I'd rather say us, Sally. So you see,
you can't say I've given it to us, for we--Henrietta and I--have been
here so very much that we ought to pay something. We ought to
contribute. I don't like to call it board, but--"

"Why not?" Sally asked, interrupting. "Why don't you like to call it
board?"

"Well," Fox answered, rather lamely, "you don't take boarders, you
know."

"I don't see," said Sally, brightening distinctly, "I can't see why we
don't--why we shouldn't, if mother's well enough. I've been thinking."

"But that's just it. Your mother is not well enough for you to take
regular, ordinary boarders. You mustn't think of it."

"Would you call you and Henrietta regular, ordinary boarders?" Sally
asked, after a few moments of silence.

Fox laughed. "On the contrary, we are most irregular, extraordinary
boarders. But why, Sally? Would you like to have--"

"Oh, yes," cried Sally at once. "I should like it very much. But I
don't know whether you would."

"Yes, I should like it very much, too. But there have seemed to be
certain reasons why it wasn't best to live here."

"But you live here now," Sally objected; "all but sleeping. We've got
rooms enough."

"I'll think it over; and, if I think we can come, we will."

"I hope you will. I should feel comfortabler. Because I don't see how
we can ever pay you back; at any rate, not for a long time. We should
have to wait until I'm old enough to earn money, or until Charlie is.
And I'm four years older."

Fox smiled at the idea of waiting for Charlie. But Sally went on.

"And there's another thing. There's Doctor Galen."

"Oh, so the doctor's the other thing. I'll tell him."

"The money that we have to pay him is the other thing." Sally was very
earnest. "Will it be much, do you think?"

"Sally, don't you worry. I asked the doctor just that question and he
told me I had better wait until he sent his bill. He hasn't sent it
yet."

"Well--will it be as much as a hundred dollars?"

"It is possible that it may be as much as that."

"Oh, will it be more?" Sally was distressed. When should she be able
to save--even to earn a hundred dollars. "We can't ever pay it, Fox;
not for years and years."

Again Fox told her not to worry. She did not seem to hear him. She was
following her thought.

"And, Fox, if you have to pay it, we shall owe you an awful lot of
money. Have--have you got money enough?"

Fox Sanderson did not have an "awful lot" of money. That very question
had been giving him some anxiety. But he would not let Sally suspect
it.

"I guess I'll be able to manage, Sally."

"I hope so. And I've been thinking, Fox, that I ought to help."

"Why, Sally, you do help. Just think of the things you do, every day,
helping about your mother, and about the house."

"Yes," she returned, "but I mean about earning money. Those things
don't earn money. Couldn't I learn typewriting and go into somebody's
office? Or couldn't I teach? Do you have to know a lot of things, to
teach, Fox?"

Fox smiled. "Some teachers that I have known," he answered, "haven't
known such an awful lot of things. But if you really want to teach,
Sally, you ought to be trained for it. At least," he added, more to
himself than to Sally, "that is the popular opinion."

Again Sally was distressed. "Do you have to go to college, Fox?"

"Well," answered Fox, smiling, "not exactly, but something of the
sort. There's a normal school or the training school for teachers, or
whatever they call it."

"Oh, dear!" Sally wailed. "Everything takes so long! I wanted to do
something right away. Can't you think of anything, Fox?"

"Not right off the bat. I'll see what thoughts I can raise on that
subject. But if I don't think of anything, would you like to plan to
be a teacher, Sally?"

"If it would help mother, I would. If that's the best thing we can
think of. I'd do anything to help mother. I'd go out scrubbing or I'd
sell papers or--or anything."

"Bless your heart!" Fox exclaimed under his breath. "Bless your dear
heart, Sally! You needn't go out scrubbing or washing dishes or
selling papers or anything of the kind. You can do better than that.
And your mother is likely to need your help about as much when you are
fitted for teaching as she does now."

"Is--isn't mother getting better?" asked Sally, hesitating.

"Yes," said Fox, "but very slowly; very slowly indeed. Doctor Galen
thinks it will be some years before she is herself again. Think,
Sally, how much better it will be for you to be getting ready. Suppose
she was well now. What would you and she do? How would the conditions
be different?"

Sally murmured something about taking boarders.

"Well," Fox observed, "I never have taken 'em and so I have no
experience with that end of it. But Henrietta and I have been boarding
for a good many years now--ever since mother died--and we have seen a
good deal of all kinds of boarders. On the average, they seem to be an
unmannerly and ungrateful lot. Don't you be a party to making 'em
worse, Sally. Don't you do it."

Sally laughed.

"Besides," he went on, "it's pretty apt to be humiliating."

"I suppose that's something unpleasant," Sally said quietly, "and, of
course, it wouldn't be pleasant. I shouldn't expect it to be."

"I don't believe there's any money in it."

Sally paused a moment to digest that phrase. Then she sighed.

"You know more about it than I do. I'll do just what you say, Fox."

The gate clicked and they both looked around.

"Here comes Henrietta," said Fox. "Now we'll all go out in the shade
and play. But, Sally," he added hastily, "have you got any rich
relatives?"

"Rich relatives!" Sally exclaimed. "Not that I know of. Or, wait.
There's Miss Hazen--Martha Hazen. She's a cousin of father's, but I
don't know how rich she is. I've never seen her."

"Where does she live?"

"Up in Massachusetts, somewhere. I think she's queer."

"The queerer the better. Your father's cousin, is she? It wouldn't be
strange. Can you find out where she lives, Sally?"

Sally thought she could. "And, Fox," she reminded him,--she was afraid
he might forget,--"you see if you can't come here to live. Will you,
Fox?"

He nodded. Henrietta was at the piazza steps. "I'll ask Doctor Galen
about it."

"What'll you ask Doctor Galen about, Fox?" inquired Henrietta. "Are
you and Sally talking secrets?"

"I'll ask the doctor what should be done with a very troublesome
little sister," he answered, smiling at her.

"You might get rid of her by sending her off to boarding-school,"
Henrietta remarked. "Not that she wants to go."

"No boarding-school for you yet, young lady. There are one hundred
reasons why, and the first is--is so important that the ninety-nine
others don't matter."

Fox had caught himself just in time. He had intended to say that he
didn't have the money. Well, he hadn't; but he didn't mean to tell
Sally so.

"I suppose that first reason," said Henrietta, "is that you can't
spare me."

"Wrong. That is the second. And the third is that you are too young.
Never mind the others. We are going out to play now, Henrietta." Sally
darted into the house. "Where are you going, Sally?"

"After Charlie," she called softly. "I'll be right back. And let's be
sauruses!"

"Sauruses it is," Fox returned. "I say, Henrietta, can you climb trees
as well as Sally?"

"Well, not quite"--hesitating--"but I'm learning."

"You live in a cave with Charlie," he said decidedly.



CHAPTER XII


To tell the truth, the question of money had been troubling Fox
somewhat, for he did not have an "awful lot," to use Sally's words.
There was enough for him and Henrietta to live upon in great comfort;
but when the amount which will support two people in comfort has to
take care of five, it needs to be spread pretty thin. To be sure,
there was no particular reason why Fox should have felt obliged to
look out for the Ladues. One wonders why he did it. That question had
occurred to him, naturally, but only to be dismissed at once,
unanswered. He could not leave that little family in their misfortunes
without visible means of support, and that was the end of it.

These considerations will serve to explain Fox's state of mind: why he
felt it to be necessary to provide for Sally's future; to see to it
that she should have a future of any kind. They may also explain his
inquiries about rich relatives. Not that he had, at the moment, any
definite idea as to his course of action in the event that she had
such desirable and convenient appendages. In fact, it remained to be
seen whether they were either desirable or convenient. And he wished
very much that it might be considered no impropriety for him and
Henrietta to live at the Ladues'. It would simplify many matters.

Doctor Galen, to whom he spoke, with some hesitation, of this wish of
his, reassured him.

"I should say that it would be a very wise move," said the doctor,
smiling. "Where is the impropriety?"

Fox murmured something about Professor Ladue and about his seeming to
take the management of his family out of the professor's hands. He
felt a little delicate about making any further move in the same
direction.

"Pouf!" the doctor exclaimed scornfully. "Ladue has relinquished all
right to management, and it's a very fortunate thing that he has. Mrs.
Ladue will be very much of an invalid for a number of years, unless
all signs fail. There may be some prying people--but there are always.
You had better tell Sally that you will come at once. I think it most
necessary."

Fox was distinctly relieved. He went on to tell the doctor of his
conversation with Sally. "And the other children--except
Henrietta--have fought shy of coming to see her since that day of the
party," he continued. "I suppose they were frightened. They have
scarcely been near her. Not that Sally seems to care. I think she is
glad when she thinks of them at all. But she has too much care. She
takes life too seriously. Why, that party was on her eleventh
birthday, and she wants to go out scrubbing or selling papers.
Anything to earn money. We can't let her feel so, Doctor; we just
can't."

"Bless her!" said the doctor; "of course we can't. She needn't worry
about my bill, and you needn't. Between us, Sanderson, we must look
out for these three babes in the wood."

"Thank you, Doctor."

"And, Sanderson," the doctor pursued confidentially, "if you find
yourself short of money,--you might, you know,--just let me know. But
don't tell anybody, or the Assyrians will be upon me, like the wolf on
the fold; and their cohorts won't be gleaming with purple and gold.
Not of mine, they won't."

Fox laughed. "Thank you again, Doctor. Thank you very much. But I
think I shall be able to carry my end, on that basis."

Fox did carry his end. He and Henrietta moved to the Ladues' as soon
as they could, Fox into the professor's old room, with the skeleton of
the professor's little lizard on the floor, under the window, and with
the professor's desk to work at. He seemed to have been pushed by
chance into the professor's shoes, and he did not like it,
altogether. He made a faint-hearted protest at the room.

Sally's eyes filled. "Why, Fox," she said, "it's the best room we've
got. Isn't it good enough?"

"It's much too good, Sally. I don't expect or want such a good room."

"Oh, is that all!" Sally was smiling now. "If it's good enough, I
guess you'll have to be satisfied. It's ever so much convenienter to
give you father's room."

So Fox had to be satisfied. Henrietta had the room next Sally's own.
That arrangement was "convenienter," too.

One of the first things he did at the professor's desk was to write a
letter to Miss Martha Havering Hazen. Sally had succeeded in finding
her address.

"She lives in Whitby, Massachusetts," she announced. "I don't know the
name of the street, and I don't know how rich she is."

With this, the affairs of Miss Martha Havering Hazen passed from
Sally's mind. She had other things to attend to. Fox wrote Miss Hazen
a letter in which he set forth, in a very business-like way, the
plight in which the Ladue family found themselves, his desire, and
Sally's, that Sally's future should be provided for, and the manner in
which it was proposed to provide for the aforesaid future. He finished
with the statement that the funds at his command were insufficient for
all the purposes which it was desired to accomplish, and he inquired
whether she were disposed to give any aid and comfort. Then, having
posted this, he waited for the answer.

He waited for the answer so long that he began to fear that his letter
might not have reached Miss Hazen; then he waited until, at last, he
was convinced that she never received it, and he had begun to think
that she must be a myth. When he reached this conclusion, he was
sitting on the piazza and Sally and Henrietta and Doctor Galen were
coming up the path together. Sally had her hands behind her. She came
and stood before Fox, her eyes twinkling.

"Well," she began.

But Fox would not wait. "Sally," he said, interrupting her, "what
makes you think that Miss Martha Hazen is in existence at all. You've
never seen her. I'll bet there's no such a person and never was. She's
a myth."

"What'll you bet?" she asked promptly.

"Anything you like."

"No, I won't bet, for it wouldn't be fair." This settled it for Sally.
In that respect she was different from her father. She was different
from her father in some other important respects, too. "Which hand
will you have, Fox?"

"I guess I'd better have both."

So Sally brought both hands around into view and cast a letter into
his lap. Her eyes danced. "There!" she said. "Now, what'll you bet?"

Doctor Galen was leaning against the railing and Henrietta could not
keep still.

"Oh, Fox," she cried, "open it and let's hear what she says. Sally
showed it to us and we know about it."

"Open it, Sanderson," the doctor put in; "don't keep us all in the
dark. It's suspense that kills."

So Sanderson opened it and read it. It was not a long letter.

The others grew impatient. "Come, come," said the doctor, "tell us. It
doesn't matter what you wrote to her. What does she say?"

"She says," said Fox, smiling, "that, as of course she didn't know me,
she has been obliged to have all my statements investigated. That
accounts for the delay. She has found them all to be true. Gratifying,
isn't it? But the important thing is that she offers to take Sally to
live with her and agrees to educate her properly--if Sally will go."

They were all very sober and nobody spoke. Sally was solemn and the
tears came slowly. None of them had contemplated this, Sally least of
all. She felt as if there had been an earthquake or some such
convulsion of nature.

"Well, Sally," Fox went on at last, in a low voice, "it seems to be up
to you. Will you go?"

"Oh, I don't know," Sally's eyes were wide with anxiety and with
doubt, and the tears dropped slowly, one by one. "How can I, all of a
sudden? It's a tremendous surprise. I don't want to, but if it will
help more than staying at home, I'll go." Suddenly an idea seemed to
have struck her. It must have given her great relief, for the tears
stopped and she looked happy once more. "But," she said eagerly, "how
can I? Who will take care of mother? And what would we do with
Charlie? Really, Fox, I don't see how I can go."

Strangely enough, Fox seemed to be relieved, too. At any rate, he
smiled as though he were.

"Sure enough," he replied, "how can you? We might possibly manage
about your mother," he added, with a glance at the doctor, "but
Charlie is a problem."

Doctor Galen had nodded, in answer to that glance of Fox's. "You
needn't worry about your mother, Sally," he said then. "We would take
good care of her. Do you know that I have a sanitarium for just such
patients? There are nurses and everything to make it convenient. And
there are no bothering children--with their brothers--always
underfoot." As he said that, the doctor smiled and rested his hand,
for a moment, on Henrietta's shoulder. Henrietta turned and laughed up
at him.

"A base libel," Fox remarked. "But all that doesn't take care of
Charlie."

"Might farm him out," the doctor suggested. "What do you think of that
idea, Sally?"

"I don't believe I know what you mean," she answered. "Charlie
wouldn't be much good on a farm, although I suppose a farm would be a
good place for him. Some farms would," she added.

"It depends on the farm, doesn't it?" said Fox. "It generally does.
But don't you care what the doctor meant, Sally. He didn't mean
anything, probably. We aren't going to farm Charlie out anyway. What
shall I say to Martha? That's the immediate point."

Sally chuckled. "I'll write to Martha," she said, as soon as she could
speak; "that is, if you'll let me. I'll thank her ever so much for
offering to take me, and I'll tell her why I can't come. May I, Fox?"

"All right." Fox tossed her the letter. "And, Sally," he called
softly, for she had started into the house, meaning to write her
letter at once. "Sally, if Martha answers your letter, you tell me
what she says."

So Sally wrote to Martha. It took her a long time and she used up
several sheets of her mother's best note-paper before she got a letter
written that she was satisfied to send. Miss Hazen was longer in
replying, although she was not so long as she had been in replying to
Fox. Sally did not care. Indeed, she did not give the matter a
thought. She considered the question settled.

It was not. Miss Hazen must have liked Sally's letter, for she
grudgingly consented to have Charlie come, too, if that was all that
stood in the way of Sally's acceptance of her offer. This was a
surprise to everybody; to none of them more than to Miss Hazen
herself. She had no liking for young children. But she did it. There
seemed to be no escape for Sally now, and she put the letter in Fox's
hand without a word.

"What's the matter, Sally?" he asked, shocked at her tragic face. "Has
the bottom dropped out?"

Sally smiled, but her chin quivered. "It seems to me that it has. You
read it, Fox."

So Fox read it. He was very sober when he looked up and it was a long
time before he spoke.

"Well," he said at last, whimsically, "Martha's put her foot in it
this time, hasn't she? What do you think you're going to do?"

"I don't see how I can refuse any longer," Sally answered, her voice
quivering as well as her chin. "Charlie was the only objection that I
could think of; the only real objection. I s'pose I'll have to go now,
and take Charlie."

Fox did not reply immediately.

Sally's chin quivered more and more, and her tears overflowed. "Oh,
Fox," she wailed, "I don't want to. I don't want to leave mother and
home and--and everybody."

Fox drew her toward him and patted her shoulder. "There, there,
Sally," he said gently. "You shan't go if you don't want to. We'll
manage somehow. Don't feel so badly, Sally. Don't."

Sally's fit of crying was already over. Her tears ceased and she felt
for her handkerchief.

"I won't," she said, with a pitiful little attempt at a smile. "I'm
not going to cry any more. Have--have you got a handkerchief, Fox?"

Fox wiped her eyes. "We'll call a council of war," he said; "you and
Doctor Galen and I will talk it over and decide what shall be done.
Not about Martha," he added hastily. "That's settled, Sally, if you
don't want to go. I'll write to her and tell her that you can't come."

"No," Sally protested earnestly, "it's not settled; at least, not that
way. I'll go if--if that's the best thing for us. I was only crying
because--because I hate to think of leaving. I can't help that, you
know, Fox."

"I know, Sally. I've been through it all."

"And so our council of war," Sally continued, "will decide about that,
too."

The council of war held a long and earnest session and eventually
decided that it was best for Sally to accept Miss Hazen's offer and to
go to Whitby. Sally acquiesced in the decision, but it seemed to Fox
necessary to do a little explaining.

"You know, Sally," he said, "your mother is likely to be a long time
in getting back her health. She won't be herself for a number of
years. It would only be painful to you--"

"I know all that, Fox," Sally interrupted, a little impatiently. She
had had it pretty thoroughly drummed into her. "I know all that, and
it doesn't make any difference whether I think so or not. I see that
it's the best thing for us all that Charlie and I should go, and we
will go. That's settled. But you will write to me often, and let me
know how mother gets along--and tell me the news, won't you?"

"Why, of course I am going to," Fox cried with emphasis. "What did you
think--that we were going to let you slip away from us suddenly,
altogether? Not much. I'm going to write you every blessed week. And
see that you answer my letters every week, too."

Sally felt comparatively cheerful once more. "I will," she answered,
smiling.

"Bless your heart!" said Fox.

Doctor Galen looked aggrieved.

"And where do I come in?" he asked. "Aren't you going to promise to
write me, too? Your mother will be at my sanitarium and I have a good
mind to give orders that Fox Sanderson is to be told nothing about
her. Then you would have to get your information from me."

"I didn't s'pose you'd care to have me, you're so busy." Sally was
pleased. "But I'd love to, Doctor, I'd love to. Do you really want me
to?"

"If you don't, I'll never forgive you. I'm a very cruel man, and that
is the only way to insure good treatment for your mother. You'd
better, Sally." And the doctor wagged his head in a threatening
manner.

Sally laughed. "It'll be your own fault if you get too many letters.
But you needn't answer them, if you don't have time."

"We'll see. We'll see. I guess I shall manage to find a few minutes,
now and then, to write to Miss Sally Ladue."



CHAPTER XIII


It was September before Sally was ready to go to Whitby. Indeed, it
cannot be said that she was ready then, or that she ever would have
been ready, if her wishes only had been involved. But by the middle of
September she had done all the things that she had to do, her
belongings and Charlie's were packed in two small trunks, and there
did not seem to be any excuse for delaying her departure longer.

She had gone, with Doctor Galen, one memorable day, to see the
sanitarium. He, I suppose, had thought that perhaps Sally would feel
better about going if she saw for herself just the way in which her
mother would be taken care of. So he took her all over the building,
himself acting as her guide, and she saw it all. She did feel better.
When she had seen the whole thing and had absorbed as much as the
doctor thought was good for her, they went into town again and had
lunch with Mrs. Galen. There weren't any children and there never had
been. So much the worse for the doctor and for Mrs. Galen. They had
missed the best thing in life, and they knew that they had and
regretted it. After lunch, the doctor went home with Sally. She
thought, with some wonder at it, that the doctor could not have had
much to do that day, for he had given the whole of it to her. There
were many of his patients who thought otherwise--a whole office full
of them; and they waited in vain for the doctor.

A few days later Sally had bidden a last mournful farewell to all her
favorite haunts. She had been devoting her spare time for a week to
that melancholy but pleasant duty. The little lizard would never more
sit high in the branches of the coal trees and look out over the
prospect of treetops and swamp. Never again would the gynesaurus feed
on stove coal plucked, ripe, from the branches whereon it grew. Sally
laughed, in spite of her melancholy, as this thought passed through
her mind; and the gynesaurus stopped eating coal and incontinently
slid and scrambled down the tree, landing on the ground with a thump
which was more like that made by a little girl than that a lizard
would make. And she ran into the house in rather a cheerful frame of
mind. It was almost time for the man to come for their trunks.

Fox met her as she came in. "It's a good chance to say good-bye to
your mother, Sally. She's wandering about in her room."

All of Sally's cheerfulness vanished at that. She knew just how she
should find her mother: aimlessly wandering from one part of the room
to another, intending, always, to do something, and always forgetting
what it was she intended to do. But Sally found Charlie and, together,
they went to their mother.

It was the same sweet, gentle voice that called to them to come in. It
was the same sweet, gentle woman who greeted them. But in her dull
eyes there was scarcely recognition. To Sally it was as though a thick
veil hung always before her mother, through which she could neither
see clearly nor be seen. Her processes of mind were as vague and as
crude as those of a baby. If she was better than she had been, how
very ill she must have been!

Mrs. Ladue did not realize what Sally's good-bye meant. She was
utterly incapable of taking in the changes which were before Sally or
before herself. She returned Sally's good-bye impassively, as though
Sally were going no farther than downstairs; and when Charlie,
impatient and a little frightened, fretted and pulled at Sally's hand,
Mrs. Ladue did not seem to mind. It was as if Charlie were some
strange child, in whom she had no interest. Poor lady!

"Why don't you take him away?" she asked. "He wants to go."

So Sally, choking with tenderness, took him away. She cried a little
on Fox's shoulder.

"It seems to me that I can't bear it, Fox," she sobbed. "To see mother
so--is she really better?"

"You know she is, Sally."

"Yes, I s'pose I do." Sally's sobs gradually ceased. "But it's
terribly slow. She'll have forgotten us by the time she gets well."

"No fear, Sally," Fox replied, with a gentle smile. "No fear of that.
Come, here's the man for our things."

Fox was going with them. Sally dried her eyes while he went to see
about the trunks.

As they walked out at the gate, Fox glanced at Sally. Her lips were
tightly shut and she did not look back once, but she kept her gaze
firmly fixed ahead, as if she were afraid of being turned into a
pillar of salt. Nobody knew how much determination it took for her to
do so. She would have liked to cry again and kiss every tree in the
place. But she wouldn't cry again. She just would not.

Henrietta met them before they had gone far, and rattled on as though
she had been talking on a wager. Sally couldn't talk. And Henrietta
went to the station with them, still talking fast, and stayed with
Sally and Charlie while Fox checked the trunks. Then the train came
and Sally lingered at the door of the car.

"Good-bye, Sally," Henrietta called. "Perhaps I could come to visit
you if you asked me."

"I will if I can," said Sally. "You know it won't be my house and I'm
afraid that Cousin Martha may not find it convenient. If it was my
house I'd ask you now."

The train started. "Good-bye, Sally," Henrietta called again as she
ran along the platform; "I wish I were going with you."

"I wish you were," Sally answered. "Oh, I do wish you were, Henrietta.
Good-bye."

For Henrietta had come to the end of the platform and had stopped.
The train was going almost too fast for her anyway.

"You'd better come inside, Sally." And Fox drew her inside and shut
the door.

Doctor Galen met the little party upon its arrival in the city. There
was nearly an hour before their train left for New York, and the
doctor suggested that they all have lunch together in the station.
Sally started to protest, for did they not have a package containing
cold chicken, hard-boiled eggs, and bread-and-butter? But the doctor
observed that he had never yet seen the time when a cold lunch did not
come in handy, and they might find use for it later; and, besides, he
had the lunch ordered and a table reserved. A feeling almost of
cheerfulness stole over Sally's spirits; and when, lunch over, they
were parting from the doctor at the steps of the car, Sally looked up
at him somewhat wistfully. He interpreted her look rightly, and bent
down.

"Would you, Sally?" he asked. "And one for Mrs. Galen, too. Remember,
we haven't any children of our own."

At that, Sally threw her arms around his neck and gave him two for
himself and two for Mrs. Galen. The doctor straightened again.

"Bless you, Sally!" he said softly. "I wish you belonged to us. Don't
forget your promise."



CHAPTER XIV


It was very early, as the habits of the Ladue family went, when the
train pulled into the station at Whitby. For Professor Ladue had not
been an early riser. College professors of certain types are not noted
for their earliness. One of these types had been well represented by
Professor Ladue. He had not, to be sure, ever met his classes clad in
his evening clothes; but, no doubt, he would have done so, in time, if
his career had not been cut short.

The train did not go beyond Whitby. One reason why it did not was that
there was nothing beyond but water and no stations of permanence.
There was plenty of time to get out of the train without feeling
hurried. Fox got out and helped Charlie down the steps; and Sally got
out, feeling as if she had already been up half the night. Indeed, she
had, almost, for she had been so afraid of oversleeping that she had
been only dozing since midnight.

"I wonder, Fox," she said as she came down the steps, "whether there
will be any one here to meet us."

"Cast your eye over the crowd," Fox whispered, "and if you see a thin,
haughty lady standing somewhat aloof from the common herd, I'll bet my
hat that's Martha."

Sally chuckled involuntarily, and she cast her eye over the crowd as
Fox had told her to do. There _was_ a lady, who seemed to be somewhat
haughty, standing back by the wall of the station, aloof from the
common herd, but she was not as thin as Sally had expected Cousin
Martha to be. This lady was evidently expecting somebody--or
somebodies--and was watching, with a shadow of anxiety on her face, as
the crowd poured out of the doors and flowed down the steps. Then her
gaze happened to alight upon Sally and her eyebrows lifted, quickly,
and she smiled. Sally smiled as quickly in return and made up her
mind, on the spot, that, if that was Cousin Martha, she should rather
like Cousin Martha.

The lady had come forward at once, with a rapid, nervous walk, and met
them as soon as the crowd would let her.

"Sarah Ladue?" she asked.

"Sally, Cousin Martha," Sally replied. "Everybody calls me Sally."

"Well, I am very glad to see you, Sally." Cousin Martha kissed her on
the cheek; a quick, nervous peck. Sally tried to kiss Cousin Martha
while she had the chance, but she succeeded in getting no more than a
corner of a veil. "How did you know me?"

"I didn't. I only saw that you were looking for somebody, and I
thought it might be me you were looking for."

"Oh, so that was it!" Miss Hazen smiled faintly and sighed. "I thought
that perhaps you might have recognized me from the photograph I once
gave your father. But I forgot that that was a great many years ago."
She sighed again.

Sally tried in vain to remember any photograph of Miss Martha Hazen.
She did remember something else.

"This is Fox Sanderson," she said, holding on to Fox's arm, "who has
just come on to bring us. Fox is _very_ kind. And here is Charlie."

She dragged Charlie forward by the collar. He had been behind her,
absorbed in the movements of the engine.

"Oh, what a pretty boy!" exclaimed Cousin Martha. "How do you do,
Charlie?"

"Not a pretty boy!" cried Charlie.

Sally shook him. "Say very well, I thank you," she whispered.

"Very-well-I-thank-you," Charlie repeated sulkily. "I'm hungry."

Miss Hazen laughed. "Mercy on us!" she said. "We must be getting home
to give you something to eat." She extended the tips of her fingers to
Fox. "I'm very glad to see you, too, Mr. Sanderson. You will come
home with us, too? The carriage is waiting."

"Thank you, Miss Hazen. I must see about the trunks, I suppose;
Sally's and Charlie's. I didn't bring any, for I must go back
to-night."

"Then, perhaps, you will spend the day with us?"

Fox thanked her again and Cousin Martha told him what to do about the
trunks. There was one baggageman, in particular, whom the Hazens had
employed for years when there had been trunks to go or to come. That
that baggageman was now old and nearly as decrepit as his horse and
wagon made no difference.

They were soon in Miss Hazen's stout carriage, behind a single stout
horse. Sally had not noticed, before, that the water was so near. They
went through some very dirty streets, past saloons and tenement-houses.
Miss Hazen regarded them sadly.

"One gets a poor impression of Whitby from the entrance into it," she
observed. "This part of the city has changed very much since my young
days; changed much for the worse. It is a great pity that the railroad
does not come in at some different place. On the hill, now, one would
get a very different impression. But there are parts of the city which
have not changed so very much. Although," she added thoughtfully, "all
the change is for the worse, it seems to me."

There did not seem to be anything to be said that would be of any
comfort. Fox murmured something, and then they drove up an
extraordinarily steep hill. The horse had all he could do to drag them
at a walk. But, looking up the hill, Sally saw a pleasant street with
elms arching over it.

"Oh, how lovely!" she cried. "Do you live in this part of the city,
Cousin Martha?"

"No," Cousin Martha replied, with rather more than a suspicion of
pride in her voice. "Where we live, it is prettier than this."

"Oh," said Sally. Then she recollected.

"There was a very nice man on the boat," she remarked. "He was some
sort of an officer, but I don't know exactly what. He said he lived in
Whitby, and he had several children. The youngest girl is about my
age. Do you know them, Cousin Martha? Their name is Wills."

"Wills? Wills? I don't think I know any Willses."

"He seemed to know who you were," Sally prompted. "He knew right away,
as soon as ever I told him where I was going."

"It is likely enough," said Miss Hazen, trying to speak simply. The
attempt was not a conspicuous success. "Many people, whom we don't
know, know who we are. The Willses are very worthy people, I have no
doubt, but you are not likely to know them."

"He said that, too," Sally observed.

Miss Hazen looked as if she would have liked to commend Mr. Wills's
discrimination; but she did not and they continued their drive in
silence. The streets seemed all to be arched over with elms; all that
they drove through, at all events. Presently they reached the top of
the hill and turned into a street that was as crooked as it could be.
It turned this way and that and went, gently, uphill and down; but,
always, it seemed to be trying to keep on the top of the ridge. Sally
remarked upon it.

"You might call this the Ridge Road," she said; "like Ridge Road in
Philadelphia. I have never been on the Ridge Road in Philadelphia,"
she added hastily, fearing that Cousin Martha might think she was
pretending to be what she was not, "but I have always imagined that it
was something like this."

Fox and Miss Hazen laughed. "Not much like it, Sally," said Fox.

"Or," Sally resumed, "you might call it the Cow Path. It is crooked
enough to be one."

"That is just what it used to be called," said Miss Hazen. "It was not
a very poetical name, but we liked it. They changed the name, some
years ago."

"What?" Sally asked. "What did they change it to?"

"Washington Street," answered Cousin Martha plaintively. "It seemed to
us that it was not necessary to call it Washington Street. There is no
individuality in the name."

Fox laughed again. "Not a great deal," he agreed.

Miss Hazen smiled and sighed.

"We cling to the old names," she continued. "We still call this
street, among ourselves, the Cow Path, and Parker Street is still West
India Lane, and Smith Street is Witch Lane. The old names are more
picturesque and romantic. There seemed to be no sufficient reason for
changing them. For us, they are not changed."

Washington Street--the Cow Path, as Miss Hazen preferred to call
it--had upon it a great many handsome places. They were big houses, of
stone, for the most part, or covered with stucco, although a few of
them were of wood; and they were set well back from the street, behind
well-kept lawns with clumps of shrubbery or of trees scattered at
careful random. Sally did not see one of these old places with the
rather formal garden, with its box hedges, in front of the house, but
she saw a good many with gorgeous gardens at the side, and many with
the gardens, apparently, at the back.

They were very different, these great places, from her own home. Her
own home might have occupied a whole square, as many of these did, if
it had been in a city. It was not in a city, but in what was scarcely
more than a village and the trees were where nature had set them. The
whole place--Sally's own place--had an atmosphere of wildness quite in
keeping with coal trees and sauri. These places, if they had had no
more care than the professor had been accustomed to give to his, would
have a pathetic air of abandon and desolation. What would a poor
little gynesaurus do here?

They turned off of the Cow Path and Miss Hazen brightened perceptibly.

"We are getting near home," she remarked. "Our house is on the next
corner."

"Oh, is it?" Sally asked. "What street is this?"

"This is Box Elder and our house is on the corner of Apple Tree."

Sally laughed. "How funny!" she said. "And what pretty names!"

"We think they are pretty names. Now, here we are."

They were just turning in between granite gateposts that were green
with dampness, and Sally looked up with a lively interest. She caught
a glimpse of a wooden front fence of three octagonal rails; but it was
only a glimpse, for the view was cut off, almost immediately, by the
row of great evergreens which stood just back of the fence. There were
two other evergreens in the middle of the plot of lawn, and the elms
on the streets stretched their branches far over, nearly to the house.
Altogether, it gave a depressing effect of gloom and decay, which the
aspect of the house itself did not tend to relieve.

It was a wooden house, large and square, although not so large as
those on the Cow Path. It had a deeply recessed doorway with four
wooden columns extending up two stories to support the gable. The
house was not clap-boarded, but was smooth and sanded and its surface
was grooved to look like stone. It might once have been a fair
imitation of granite, but the time was in the distant past when the
old house would have fooled even the most casual observer. And it gave
them no welcome; nobody opened the door at their approach, or, at
least, nobody on the inside. The door did not open until Cousin Martha
opened it herself, disclosing a dark and gloomy interior.

"Come in, Sally," she said; "and you, too, Mr. Sanderson, if you
please. If you will wait in the parlor for a moment, I will see about
some breakfast for you. I have no doubt you are both hungry as well as
Charlie. We have had our breakfast."

Sally wondered who the "we" might be. It had not occurred to her until
that moment that there might be somebody else in that great gloomy
house besides Cousin Martha.

"Sally," cried Charlie fretfully as they entered the dark parlor. "I
want to go home. I want to go to my own home, Sally."

"Hush, Charlie," said Sally. "This is our home now. Hush. Cousin
Martha may hear you."

Charlie would not hush. He was tired and hungry, although they had had
an apology for a breakfast, the remains of their cold lunch, before
six o'clock.

"Isn't my home. This old house isn't--"

The words died on his lips; for there was a sound behind the
half-opened folding-doors at the end of the long room, and an old man
appeared there. He seemed to Sally to be a very old man. He had a long
white beard and stooped slightly as he made his way slowly toward
them.

"Is this Sarah Ladue?" he asked as he came forward. He came near Sally
and held out his hand.

"Yes, sir," answered Sally doubtfully, laying her hand in his. "It's
Sally."

The old man must have detected the doubt. "Well, Sally," he said
kindly, "I am your father's uncle, your Cousin Patty's father." So
Cousin Martha and Cousin Patty were one.

"Oh!" returned Sally quickly. "I thought--that is, I'm very glad to
see you."

The old gentleman smiled quietly. "And I'm very glad to see you. Don't
you want to come into the back parlor? There's a fire in there. You,
too, sir," turning to Fox.

"I forgot," interrupted Sally. "I am always forgetting to do it. This
is Mr. Sanderson. He is a _very_ kind friend of ours. He came all the
way with us just to see that we got here safely. And this is Charlie,
sir."

"I am happy to meet a very kind friend of Sally's," the old gentleman
said, shaking hands with Fox. "From what I hear, she is in need of
kind friends." He held his hand out to Charlie. "Will this little boy
shake hands with his Uncle John?"

That appeared to be the last thing that Charlie wished to do, but he
did it, sulkily, without a word. Then the old gentleman led the way
slowly into the back parlor.

Sally remembered, now, that she had heard her father speak of John
Hazen--John Hazen, Junior--with that sneering laugh of his; that cold,
mirthless laugh with which he managed to cast ridicule upon anything
or anybody. This nice old gentleman must be John Hazen, Junior. But
why should a stooping old man with a long white beard be called
Junior? Why, on earth, Sally wondered. Surely, such an old man--she
would speak to Cousin Martha about it. Perhaps Cousin Martha had a
brother who was John, Junior. As for Cousin Martha's father, she had
always taken it for granted that he was a disembodied spirit.

There was a coal fire bubbling in the grate in the back parlor. A
great easy-chair was drawn up to the fire, and beside it, on the
floor, lay the morning paper, where Uncle John had dropped it. There
were other easy-chairs in the room, and books and magazines were
scattered over the centre table. The centre table had a much-stained
green cloth top, Sally noticed. Altogether, this room was cheerful, in
its own way, as any room which is lived in must be; as the great front
parlor was not. Its way was not the way Sally had been used to. It was
too dark, to begin with, and the heavy curtains only half drawn back
from the windows kept out most of the light which managed to straggle
past the trees.

The old gentleman began to place other chairs, but Fox did it for him.

"Thank you," he said. "And now, as soon as Patty comes back, I shall
have to leave you, if you will excuse me. I usually go downtown
earlier than this, but I wished to see Sally before I went. I hope you
will make yourselves quite at home."

Consideration of just this kind was a new thing for Sally.

"Oh, thank you," she cried, flushing with pleasure. "It was very nice
of you to want to wait for me."

The old gentleman again smiled his quiet smile; but before he could
say anything, Cousin Martha came in.

"I have some breakfast for you," she announced. "Will you go to your
rooms first, or have something to eat first?"

There was no room for doubt as to Charlie's preference in the matter.
Miss Hazen smiled.

"Very well, then," she said. "I think that will be better. Have your
breakfast while it is hot. Then I can take you up and get you settled.
The trunks will have got here by that time."

"I will go now, Patty," said her father, "if you will be good enough
to help me with my overcoat."

So she stopped in the hall and held his coat and he bade good-bye to
every one by name, and went out slowly.

"Does Uncle John go downtown every day?" Sally asked, soon after. She
was busy with her breakfast.

"Oh, mercy, yes," Miss Hazen replied. "He is as well able to attend to
his business as ever. And he always walks, unless it is very bad
walking: icy or very muddy. I am afraid that he might slip and fall,
and old bones, you know, do not mend easily."

"Is he--is he," Sally went on, hesitating, "John Hazen, Junior?"

"Yes," answered Cousin Martha. "He has kept the Junior."

Sally did not know just what she meant by that. "I've heard my father
speak of John Hazen, Junior," she remarked, "and I didn't know but,
perhaps, I might have a Cousin John."



BOOK II



CHAPTER I


Sally was tolerably happy after she got settled. She had cried a few
tears into Fox's coat when he was going away and she had sent many
messages to Henrietta and to Doctor Galen and to her mother, although
she knew that her mother would receive them with her pitiful, vacant
smile and would go on wondering where Sally was. She had been told, of
course, over and over, but could not seem to grasp the reason or,
indeed, the fact.

Sally had wiped her eyes and sighed. "I'm not going to cry any more,"
she had said; "and I shan't be unhappy, Fox. I just won't be."

"You've had a good deal to make you unhappy, Sally," Fox had replied
gently, "but I do hope that you won't be. You can trust Doctor Galen
to do the very best for your mother."

"Yes," Sally had returned, smiling; "you and Doctor Galen. You forgot,
Fox. And I'm glad that father has gone away. I'm glad--glad," Sally
cried passionately. "He didn't do a thing for mother. He only liked to
make her feel bad. She'd have died if he'd stayed. And I hope you'll
never find him. I hope you never will."

"We're not breaking our necks, trying."

"I'm glad of it. Oh, Fox, I've never said such a thing before, and I
never will again. But I just had to or I should have burst. Don't you
tell, will you? Don't ever tell _anybody_."

Fox had promised and had kissed her and had started back, feeling
comforted. It was very much better than he had expected, and Sally had
made up her mind. There was everything in that.

Sally woke early the next morning. It was not quite light, if it ever
could be said to be quite light in that house. But a little light had
begun to filter in around the curtains, and Sally looked about the
great, dim room, wondering for a moment where she was. Then she
remembered; she remembered, too, that Uncle John had breakfast early.
Cousin Martha had forgotten to tell her at what time to get up, but
there could be no harm in getting up now. Charlie had a little room
off her own big one, probably the dressing-room. At that instant
Charlie appeared, wandering hesitatingly, clad only in his little
pajamas, which had caused some surprise on Cousin Martha's part.

"Oh, how very cunning!" she had exclaimed, as Sally unpacked them.

Now Charlie made a dive for Sally's bed. "I want to get in with you,
Sally."

But Sally thought that they had better get dressed, and said so. When
Sally said things in that way, there was no appeal, and Charlie
submitted, with not more objection than would have been expected, to a
rapid sponge; for it had not occurred to Sally, the night before, to
find out about a bathtub. It might very well be that the house had
been built before the era of bathtubs and that no such useless
encumbrance had been added. Cousin Martha herself solved that
difficulty for her. There was a gentle tap at her door.

"Sally," called Cousin Martha's voice, "here is your hot water. Do you
know about the tub?"

"No," answered Sally, opening the door; "Charlie's had his bath,
Cousin Martha, as good a one as I could give him, but I haven't."

"You didn't splash water over the floor, did you?" Cousin Martha asked
anxiously, scrutinizing the floor for any signs of wetting.

"I tried not to," Sally replied. "It's hardly light enough to make
sure."

Miss Hazen had disappeared into Charlie's room and now reappeared
bringing a tub. It was a large shallow pan, a sort of glorified milk
pan, and might have been made of cast iron, judging from the way Miss
Hazen carried it. It was not of cast iron, but of tin; the kind of tin
that cannot be got in these days, even for love.

"There!" said she, setting it down.

"Thank you, Cousin Martha. It will be nice to have that. But you don't
need to bring us hot water. We don't use it."

"Why, Sally!" Cousin Martha cried in a horrified voice. "You don't
bathe in cold water!" Sally nodded. "Not tempered at all?"

"Just cold water," Sally responded.

"But it will be very cold, later on," remonstrated Cousin Martha. "The
water sometimes freezes in the pitcher."

Sally chuckled. "Long as it doesn't freeze solid it's all right. I
like it very cold. It prickles and stings me all over. We like it
cold, don't we, Charlie?"

Charlie grunted. He did not seem enthusiastic. Miss Hazen sighed as
she shut the door.

Breakfast was over, Uncle John had gone, and things had pretty well
settled down for the day, and it still seemed very early to Sally. She
and Charlie wandered in the yard before eight o'clock. That yard
seemed very restricted. In the first place, it was bounded on every
side except the front by a high wooden fence. The top of the fence was
just about level with the top of Sally's head, so that she couldn't
see over it without jumping up or climbing on something. Sally had
thought of climbing, of course; but, first, she had to get Charlie
acquainted with the yard, so that he would stay down contentedly.
Charlie had not yet developed any particular aptitude for climbing
trees.

They wandered to the stable, which was at the back of the house, a
little to one side, and opened directly upon Box Elder Street. Here
they found the man attending to his duties about the stout horse. That
man paid but little attention to the children, but continued his work
in a leisurely manner. No doubt this was praiseworthy on his part, but
it was not what the children had hoped for, and they soon wandered
out again and went towards the back of the yard. Here was a vegetable
garden on one side and a flower garden on the other, together
stretching across from Box Elder Street to a little street that was
scarcely more than a lane. Sally had been in Whitby a long time before
she found that this was Hazen's Lane. It was most natural to speak of
it as "The Lane," and "The Lane" it was.

Back of the two gardens was another high wooden fence; and behind the
fence was a row of maples bordering a street. Sally knew it was a
street because she could see, over the top of the fence, the fronts of
two houses on the other side of it.

"Oh, dear!" she sighed. "There doesn't seem to be anything very
interesting here, does there, Charlie? You can't even see farther than
across the street. I suppose Cousin Martha wouldn't like it if we
should dig, for there isn't any place to dig but the garden."

Charlie began to whimper.

At this moment there came a thump on the fence at the corner of the
Lane. The thumping continued, in a rhythmical manner, as if it were in
time with somebody's walking, and progressed slowly along the Lane.
Presently there was a double thump at each step, and Sally saw two
cloth caps, exactly alike, bobbing up and down, almost disappearing
behind the fence at each downward bob.

"It looks like twins," she said.

"Follow 'em along," said Charlie, in some excitement. "Come on,
Sally."

So they followed 'em along until the twin caps had got almost opposite
the house. Then two shrill voices broke into sudden song.

    "Monkey married the baboon's sister,
    Smacked his lips and then he kissed 'er;
    Kissed so hard he--"

Sally had jumped up on the stringer of the fence, just where the caps
would be at the next step. "It is, Charlie!" she cried.

The owners of the two caps had jumped away with an alacrity born of
experience, and had started to run. They looked back and stopped.

"Hello!" they cried, together, in surprise. "Is wh--wh--what,
Ch--Ch--Charlie?"

"Twins," Sally answered in triumph; "aren't you?"

The twins nodded. "C--c--course we are," said one.
"Any--any--any--b--ody know that."

"Wh--wh--what's your n--n--name?" asked the other.

"And wh--wh--who's Ch--Ch--Charlie?"

"My name is Sally Ladue," replied Sally, "and Charlie's my brother."
Charlie popped his head above the fence. "We've come," she continued,
thinking that she might save the twins the painful process of speech,
"we've come to live here."

"W--w--with P--P--Patty H.?" asked one of the twins, in a hoarse
whisper.

It was impossible for any one who was not very familiar with them to
tell whether it was the same twin who had spoken last or the other
one; and Sally had taken her eyes off them when she spoke of Charlie.

"With Uncle John and Cousin Martha," she answered. "I've never called
her Patty H. and I don't think it's very respectful."

The twins grinned. "W--w--we c--c--call her P--P--Patty H.
be--be--bec--c--cause it's h--h--hard to s--s--say
Haa--Ha--Ha--Ha--_Hav_ering."

Sally had hard work to suppress her chuckles. The other twin made no
effort to suppress his; he laughed heartlessly.

His brother turned upon him. "Sh--sh--shut up, you b--b--bum, you! You
c--c--couldn't s--s--say it."

Sally essayed to be peacemaker. "You know," she said hesitatingly,
"that you are so much alike that I can't tell you apart. You're just
like Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and you seem to quarrel just the same
as they did. Now, you're Tweedledum," she went on, pointing at one,
and then at the other, "and you're Tweedledee. If Dum would wear a
red ribbon in his buttonhole and Dee would wear a blue one, I should
know. It's very convenient to know."

The idea of wearing ribbons in their buttonholes did not seem to
strike the twins favorably. They shook their heads.

"Well," said Sally hastily, "there's another thing: you were thumping
on the fence and singing--"

"We c--c--can s--s--sing all right when we c--c--can't t--t--talk.
S--some d--days are go--g--good for t--talking and s--some are
b--b--bad. Th--this is a b--bad d--day."

"Yes, I suppose so. But what I was going to say was this: you were
singing something that may have been meant to plague Cousin Martha. I
want you to promise not to try to plague her. You will promise, won't
you?"

The twins grinned again and promised with evident reluctance.

"You g--going to our s--s--school?" inquired Dum suddenly.

"I don't know about schools," Sally replied. "I suppose I'm going to
some school, and Charlie, too."

"Ours," Dum began; but at the mention of school Dee started.

"G--g--gee!" he exclaimed. "We g--g--got to h--h--hurry or we'll be
l--late. C--c--come on."

The twins were gone. Sally and Charlie got down from the fence.

"They were a funny pair, weren't they, Charlie?"

"Yes, they were. Now, Sally," Charlie went on dismally, "what you
goin' to do?"

Sally sighed. It was not nine o'clock and Charlie was in the dumps
already. She looked around and there was Miss Hazen just coming out of
the front door.

"There's Cousin Martha, Charlie. Let's go and meet her."

Charlie was not in a state to be enthusiastic about anything,
certainly not about Cousin Martha. He didn't care; but he went, in a
condition of dismal melancholy that touched her.

"Homesick, poor child!" she murmured. "Charlie," she said aloud, "I am
going downtown in the carriage, to do some errands. Don't you want to
go? You and Sally?"

Charlie thereupon brightened perceptibly. "I'll go if you want me to."

Cousin Martha smiled and turned to Sally, who accepted. "Although,"
she said, "I want to write a letter. But I suppose there'll be plenty
of time after we get back. We've just been talking with the funniest
pair of twins. They stutter."

Miss Hazen sighed. "I know. I heard them banging on the fence. They
are the Carling twins. Their names are Henry and Horace."

"Harry and Horry," cried Sally. "But which is older?"

"Mercy! I don't know," Cousin Martha answered. "I can't tell them
apart. One is just as bad as the other."

"I've an idea," Sally remarked, "that they aren't going to be so bad."

Cousin Martha looked curiously at Sally, but she said nothing and just
then the carriage came.

Miss Hazen seemed to find especial delight in Charlie's society on
that drive. She talked to him more and more while she went to do her
errands. Charlie, on the whole, was not an especially attractive
child. He was a handsome boy, but he was apt to be dissatisfied and
discontented, which gave his face the kind of expression which such a
disposition always gives. He seemed to be developing some of the
characteristics of his father. Not that Sally was aware of the
characteristics Charlie was developing. Charlie was Charlie, that was
all. She saw too much of him--had had the care of him too
continuously--to realize the little resemblances which might be
evident to one who had less to do with him. It is not unlikely that
Miss Hazen realized those resemblances, although she may not have been
conscious of it, and that it was just that which was endearing him to
her.

Whatever the reason, Cousin Martha got to taking him with her at every
opportunity. Charlie was in school every morning, for one of Miss
Hazen's errands, on that first day, had been to arrange for school for
both Sally and Charlie. Charlie, being at school every morning except
Saturday, could not accompany Cousin Martha on her drives in the
mornings. Consequently, Cousin Martha changed her habit of more than
twenty years' standing and drove in the afternoon. Her father smiled
when he heard of it and looked from Charlie to Sally.

"I know of no reason, Patty," he observed quietly, "why the afternoon
is not as good a time for driving as the morning. Doesn't this little
girl go?"

"Not very often, Uncle John," Sally replied, smiling up at him.
"I'm--I'm very busy, and--and I'd rather go anywhere on my own feet."

He patted her head and smiled. He liked to go anywhere on his own
feet, too.



CHAPTER II


It was a blustery Saturday toward the last of March. Sally had written
her letter to Fox and one to Doctor Galen, more to take up time than
because she had anything to say that she thought was worth saying; but
the kind doctor seemed to like to get her rather infrequent letters,
and he always answered them, although his answers were rather short.
But what could she expect of a doctor who was as busy as Doctor Galen?
Not much, truly. Cousin Martha had told her so. Perhaps I had better
call her Patty. Everybody called her Patty or Miss Patty. Even Sally
had fallen into that habit. Miss Patty may have preferred it or she
may not have; her preference did not seem to matter. As I was saying,
Cousin Patty had told her so, and had intended the telling, it seemed
to Sally, rather as a rebuke. Now, Sally did not know why she should
be rebuked,--for her conscience was clear. But the fame of Doctor
Galen had gone forth in the land and Cousin Patty considered it a
great honor that any one of her family connections was under his care.
Hence her seeming rebuke.

Sally had finished her letter to the doctor and it was only half-past
eight. She sighed as the hall clock--which, by the way, was in the
back parlor--struck the half-hour, solemnly, as if it were aware of
the importance of its office. That tall clock did its whole duty
conscientiously--with Uncle John's help. Sally sat gazing at the clock
and meditating. It was no less than astonishing, when you came to
think of it, what a lot of things in that house depended upon Uncle
John's help. He never made a show of giving it, but a quiet word here
and a calm smile there did wonders. He was a regulator, that was what
he was; a sort of a pendulum, to make things go right. Sally had
become very fond of Uncle John. Cousin Patty--well--she seemed to
need a regulator, not to put it any more strongly. Sally smiled as the
idea crossed her mind, and she took the end of the pen-holder from its
place between her teeth and returned to the perusal of her letter.

Sally always read over her letters, and, having read this one over,
she added a postscript telling the doctor--a very private joke between
him and her--of Cousin Patty's rebuke. She knew that he would be
amused. When she had the doctor's letter sealed, she looked up again
at the clock.

"Oh, dear!" she murmured; "it must have stopped." She knew very well
that the clock would not be guilty of such misbehavior as long as it
had Uncle John's help. "I'll write to Henrietta."

To tell the truth, Sally had not missed Henrietta one half as much as
she had missed Fox, but if she did not write her very often it was
simply because she forgot it. When she remembered, she was always very
sorry and wrote frequently, until she forgot again. Sally's letters to
Henrietta came in bunches, with intervals of a month or more between
the bunches.

She had not got very far on this one when Uncle John came in. He was
very late that morning.

"Sally," he said, "they are flying kites in the Lot. You may like to
see them."

For, as I said at the beginning, before I was led off into this
digression, it was a blustery Saturday in March.

"Oh!" Sally cried, pushing back her chair. "Are they? Do you mind,
Uncle John, if I climb a tree on that side? You can't see over the
wall, you know."

Mr. Hazen smiled quietly. "Climb any tree you like," he replied. "You
will be careful, Sally, I know; careful of yourself and of the trees.
But where is Charlie?"

"Cousin Patty is getting him ready to go out with her." Sally was
pretty well relieved of the care of Charlie by this time. "I'll finish
this letter when I come in."

She jumped up, snatched up her hood and her coat and slipped her hand
into Uncle John's and they went out together. They parted at the foot
of the steps and Mr. Hazen walked slowly downtown, smiling to himself
in a satisfied way.

Just across Box Elder Street was a high wall. It seemed to Sally to be
at least twenty feet high; and the builder of that wall had added
insult to injury by cementing it smoothly on the outside--Sally had
never seen the inside of it--and by capping it with a smooth and
projecting wooden roof. The wooden roof was no longer smooth, but
warped with the sun and the rains of many years, and the mouldings on
the under edges were coming away in places. But the wall was still
absolutely unclimbable, although it was possible to see over it from
the upper windows of the house or from the evergreens which surrounded
it. Sally preferred the evergreens. To be sure, their heavy branches
somewhat interfered with the view, but, at least, they were trees and
they were out of doors.

When Sally had found a comfortable perch in a spruce, she looked over
into the Lot. The Lot was a relic of the past; of twenty-five or
thirty years past. Its latest useful service had been, according to
internal evidence, as a cornfield. The boys, running across it with
their kites, were sure of this, for the hills were still there and
made running on it a work of art, especially if there was a kite at
the end of a string to need their attention. Indeed, perhaps I was
wrong in putting the flying of kites in the class of useless service.
At any rate, that was the only use to which Morton's lot had been put
for many years. It was called "The Lot." There was no danger of
ambiguity in so speaking of it, any more than there was in speaking of
Hazen's Lane as "The Lane." No one would have any doubt at all--no one
in Sally's set, at least--as to what was referred to, in either case.

Sally looked out as she best could between the branches of her spruce.
She couldn't see much, only a little piece of the field at each
opening. It was very unsatisfactory. She saw five or six boys, two of
them large boys, bending over something which lay upon the ground.
Presently the group divided and the boys stood up; and she saw that
what they had been working on was a huge kite of the old-fashioned
six-sided kind. She saw, too, that the big boys were Everett Morton
and Dick Torrington. At that moment the familiar figures of the
Carling twins slipped through a break in the high picket fence from
the other street. Immediately, Sally scrambled out of the spruce and
ran up Box Elder Street. She had a heightened color, but that might
have been due to the exertion of scrambling. It might not have been
due to the exertion of scrambling. Scrambling was no unusual exertion
for Sally.

Sally's rapid change of base was not because of the restricted view
from the tree, although her view was restricted. And it was not
because of the Carlings. The Carlings were her devoted slaves; but
that fact was an annoyance to her rather than a gratification, and it
is conceivable that the presence of the Carlings might have had weight
in inducing her to put up with the inconveniences of a restricted
view. The object of interest must therefore have been either Everett
or Dick or the kite.

At her school Sally was in the fifth class. They did not have forms or
grades at that school. Grades are mysterious things which seem to run
the wrong way, with no particular point of beginning and no particular
ending. A man might be in the fiftieth grade if there were any
teachers for it. There seems to be nothing to prevent. But when a boy
graduates from the first class, there is a point that brings you up
short. Something vital must happen then; and the thing that happens is
that the boy either goes to college or goes to work, for it is out of
the question to go any farther in that school. You know it without
being told.

The boys in Sally's school usually went to college when they graduated
from the first class. They were well prepared for it. Everett and Dick
were in the first class and they would go away to college in the fall,
or, at least, they hoped that they would. There was some doubt about
it, for Dick was rather dull and plodding and Everett was neither dull
nor plodding. They were four years ahead of Sally. I cannot tell why
she had chosen those two to look up to. It is doubtful whether she
could have shown adequate cause either, always supposing that she
would have been willing to acknowledge the fact.

Dick was the type of the nice English boy. Sally had never seen an
English boy or an English man in her whole life; but that did not
prevent her from forming an ideal of the type, to which Dick measured
up in every particular. He had light hair and that curious brunette
coloring that sometimes goes with it; he was invariably pleasant and
polite and deliberate in his speech; and he was generally well
dressed. Sally was particular about that, almost finicky. If Dick had
shown a tendency to overdressing--but he didn't. He had an air of
distinction. He also had a sister, Emily, who was in the second class
at school. Sally thought that Emily Torrington was the most beautiful
girl she had ever seen. She could not imagine any girl more beautiful.

Everett was a great contrast to Dick in every respect. He had no
sister. Everett was an only child and his family was very rich, so
that he was in great danger of being spoiled. Not that it made any
difference to Sally whether he was rich or not. And Everett was
handsome, in quite a different way from Dick, and brilliant and
dashing. In short, he was fascinating. Many others than Sally had
found him so. It was quite likely that a woman would be more
permanently happy and contented with Dick than with Everett. I do not
mean to imply that Sally had ever indulged in any such reflection. She
may have and she may not have; but he fascinated her, as he had
fascinated those others of whom I spoke. He didn't know it. Everett
Morton had never spoken to Sally. He had never even noticed her. Dick
had in his good-natured, pleasant way, but Dick was always polite.
Everett was not--always.

So Sally's heart was beating a little rapidly when she pushed through
the break in the fence. But she had been running, you remember, for a
square and a half.

The big kite was up on end, with one of the smaller boys holding it.
It was a huge kite, nearly twice the height of the boy that held it
and the top of it was a good foot above Everett's head as he stood in
front of it; so big that they had a rope to fly it with, and the end
of the rope was tied around Everett's waist. The smaller boys, of
course, were clustered about the kite, the Carlings among them. Then
Dick and Everett took the rope in their hands, called to the boy to
let go, and began to run; and the kite rose, evenly at first, then
twitching viciously from side to side. Then it hesitated for an
instant, as the tail, dragging on the ground, caught around the legs
of one of the Carlings. Sally had not yet become able to tell them
apart, at any distance. She saw him struggle, go down with his feet in
the air and with the tail of the kite still wrapped around them. She
saw the other twin precipitate himself upon the fallen one, try vainly
to undo the tail, then busy himself with one of his brother's shoes.
The kite suddenly soared, bearing aloft, tied firmly into its tail, a
shoe.

The twins remained upon the ground, one pounding the other. Sally
thought that the pounded one had already had punishment enough and she
ran toward them.

"You j--jay!" cried the upper twin to the under twin, as she came
near. "You b--b--bum, you! D--don't you kn--know any b--b--better 'n
t--to g--get c--c--caught th--that way? You--"

"Sh--sh--shut up," yelled the under twin, struggling wildly,
"y--y--you r--r--rotten old b--beat! L--l--lemmeup!"

"Here," said Sally, imperatively, "let him up. Stop pounding him."

Harry stopped his pounding of Horry and both of the twins looked up,
Harry with a sheepish grin and Horry with an expression of the most
profound relief.

"S--S--Sally!" they began, in unison. "Oh, I ain't h--h--hurtin' 'im,"
continued Harry. "Oh, h--h--he ain't h--h--hurtin' m--me," said Horry.

Sally laughed. "Well," she said, "you'll get up." She took Harry by
the shoulder. "It's positively disgraceful the way you brothers
fight."

Harry got up slowly. "B--b--brothers always f--f--fight," he said
apologetically, "if th--th--they're an--an--any--wh--where ne--n--near
th--the s--s--same s--size. H--H--Horry 'n-n' I are j--just th--the
s--s--same s--s--size. B--b--but I n--n--never h--hurt 'im," he added
magnanimously.

Horry had got up, and was standing on one leg, with his stockinged
foot against his other knee. He made Sally think of a belligerent
stork.

"Y--yer c--c--couldn't, th--that's wh--why," he yelled. Then, sticking
his head forward until his face was almost touching his brother's, he
vented his scorn in a single yell. "Y--a--ah!"

This was too much for Harry's imitation of goodness, and he gave chase
at once. Horry, handicapped by the loss of one shoe, which was now
almost out of sight, had made but two jumps when Harry caught him.
They clinched and went down in a heap. Sally couldn't tell whether the
stockinged foot belonged to the under or the upper twin. She laughed
again. They seemed to prefer to fight anyway, so why not let them?

The kite was now up as far as it could go. The rope was all out, and
Everett was holding to a post of the fence. Dick came running over the
field toward the prostrate twins.

"Here, you twins!" he called. "Stop your fighting. Get up!"

He seized the upper twin, jerked him to his feet and gave him a shake.
It proved to be Horry.

"L--l--lemme 'l--l--lone!" cried Horry. "I ain't d--doin'
an--an--yth--thing to y--you. Wh--wh--where's m--m--my sh--shoe?
G--g--gimme m--my sh--shoe."

Harry scrambled to his feet. "Y--you l--l--let m--m--my b--brother
al--l--lone, D--Dick. P--pitch in, H--H--Horry."

Accordingly they both pitched in. Dick had his hands full for a
minute. Sally ran up.

"Everett is calling you."

"Pugnacious little beggars!" said Dick.

He knocked their heads together, gently, and ran off, leaving the
twins with blazing eyes, looking after him. They began to splutter.

"It's all entirely your own fault," Sally began hastily, "and you know
it. Look at the kite."

The kite was pitching in the gusty wind. The tail was not long enough
nor the rope either. Occasionally it would dive head down, but Everett
always managed to check it, and it rose again, twitching from side to
side.

"M--m--my sh--shoe!" Horry cried, after one of the dives. He started
off over the field. "I'm g--g--goin' t--to g--g--get it."

The kite dived again, straight down. Horry was almost under it, the
sight of his shoe, not more than a hundred feet above his head, making
him reckless--if anything was needed to make him so.

"Horry!" Sally called anxiously. "Come away. You'll get hurt."

But he showed no disposition to come away. He followed the kite,
keeping just under it, his arms upraised. Sally ran towards him; and
at that moment Everett succeeded in checking the downward dive of the
great kite, which rose slowly, tugging and twitching at its rope
viciously. It was like a live thing compelled to go up against its
will and determined to come down. It was pretty low now and it seemed
likely that the kite would have its way.

Dick seemed to think so. "It's no use, Ev," he said. "Better let it
down easy and we'll put on more ballast."

Everett gritted his teeth and made no reply. If any kite was to get
the better of him, it would have to fight for it. He wouldn't give in.

"You'll have it smashed up," Dick warned him quietly.

As he spoke, the kite gave two violent pitches and dived once more.
Even Everett could not stop it and it came down like lightning,
straight at Horry Carling. Sally saw it and so did Horry. Horry seemed
to be paralyzed; and Sally precipitated herself upon him, bearing him
to the ground, but a little away from the kite. The next instant the
heavy kite struck the ground with great force and two of its sticks
broke. It had struck Sally on her outstretched left foot and may have
broken something more than kite sticks.

The broken kite fell over upon Sally and Horry. Horry began to
struggle.

"L--l--lemme g--g--get out," he yelled.

"Keep still!" said Sally. "I'll get up and then--oh!" Sally was
already part way up. There was a terrible pain in her left leg. She
felt dizzy. "I--I think--I'll lie down," she murmured; and she
fainted.

Sally opened her eyes presently, and smiled vaguely. The kite was
gone, she was lying upon her back and Everett and Dick were bending
over her, while the Carlings and the other small boys gazed in
awe-struck silence.

"Where's the kite?" Sally asked weakly. She was not quite herself yet.

"Never mind about the kite, Sally," Dick answered; "it's broken and
I'm glad of it. Where did it hit you?"

"I've a pain in my left leg," said Sally. "It's a pretty hard pain."

Her lips were white as she spoke, and she pressed them together to
stop their quivering. She did not mean to cry.

"We'll carry you in," said Dick.

So he and Everett made a chair by crossing their hands, each hand
clasping one of the other boy's. Then they stooped down and Sally
managed to sit upon their clasped hands. It was the first time that
she had seen this device.

"I'm afraid I shall fall off," she said. "Do you mind if I hold on to
you?"

Dick laughed quietly. "Put your arms round our necks and you won't
fall. It's as easy as a cradle."

Sally's color was quite restored and she was conscious of no pain as
she made a triumphal progress along Box Elder Street with one arm
about Dick's neck and the other about Everett's. The Carling twins
followed closely, Horry absent-mindedly carrying his shoe in his hand,
and the other boys came after.

As Dick and Everett started to carry her upstairs, it was the happiest
moment that Sally had ever known.



CHAPTER III


Cousin Patty was in Sally's room. Cousin Patty was not, as it chanced,
fully dressed.

"Well, Sally," she said, going towards the door, "I must go. It's
almost time for the doctor." She paused an instant, then went on
plaintively. "He hasn't been here, except professionally, for a long
time--some years. But there was a time when he came often." Miss Hazen
sighed involuntarily.

The sigh was long and quivering and it interested Sally. "Oh, Cousin
Patty," she said eagerly, "will you tell me about it--about that time,
I mean?"

Cousin Patty looked at Sally with the soft light of reminiscence in
her eyes. "Oh, well," she replied, with affected carelessness and
laughing lightly, "perhaps I will, if you are really interested to
hear about it. Now I must go, but I'll be back in a few minutes."

She went out and shut the door; and Sally heard a muffled shriek and
Cousin Patty's door slammed. An instant later, her own door opened and
Doctor Beatty appeared. He was smiling.

"Nearly scared Patty into a fit," he said. "She ought to know my
habits by this time."

Miss Patty soon came in again, clothed but not quite in her right
mind. Her color was still high and she seemed a little flustered.
Doctor Beatty did not turn around.

"Oh, there you are, Patty," he said. "I won't look, you know, until
you give the word."

"How absurd!" Miss Patty exclaimed. She meant to be very dignified,
but she was very nearly smiling. "But that is to be expected. You
always were absurd."

The doctor's visit was a long one; and, when it was done, Miss Patty
went to the door with him.

"It has seemed quite like old times," she said softly.

For a moment the doctor did not know what she was talking about.
"What?" he asked blankly. "Oh, yes, it has, more or less, hasn't it?
Good-bye, Patty. Keep your liver on the job. You're looking a little
bit yellow."

There were tears in Miss Patty's eyes when she went back to sit with
Sally.

"Doctor Beatty," she remarked after a short silence, "is not what he
was in the old days. He seems to have coarsened."

Sally did not know what reply to make, so she made none.

"He never used to say anything about my--my liver," resumed Miss
Patty, "when he called. He was practising then, too. It is painful to
me to see such a change in a man like him. Now, in the old days, when
he used to be here a great deal,--a _very_ great deal, Sally,--he was
not at all like that." And Miss Patty sighed.

Just then the maid came up to announce the Carlings.

"An', Miss Patty," she continued significantly, "Charlie's in the
kitchen."

"Oh, is he? I'll come right down and get him." The maid withdrew. "The
dear little boy!" said Miss Patty. "I suppose he's eating what he
ought not to. I'd like to let him have anything he wants, but I know
it wouldn't be good for him."

She rose rather hastily, but paused with her hand on the door. "Of
course, Sally," she said with a short little laugh, "you are not to
think that I had any--Oh, here are the twins, Sally."

Miss Patty fled and the Carlings entered.

"H--h--hello, Sally," they cried. "H--h--how's your l--l--leg?"

Sally laughed. "It's my foot, not my leg, and it doesn't hurt me at
all, hardly."

This appeared to upset the concerted programme of the twins.

"B--but y--you s--s--said your l--l--leg hurt," objected Harry.

"Well, so it did," Sally replied; "but it's my foot that's broken."

"Your f--f--foot b--b--broken!" said Horry in astonishment. "H--h--how
c--can a f--f--foot b--be b--b--broken? D--d--does it w--work
ar--r--round?"

"Not now, for it's all done up stiff in bandages."

Horry was not allowed to pursue his inquiries, for the maid was at the
door again, announcing Richard Torrington. Sally sat up straighter,
and her cheeks were flushed and her eyes rather bright. The twins eyed
her with suspicion.

As they passed down the broad stairs Harry nudged Horry again.

"S--S--S--al--l--ly's s--stuck on D--D--Dick," he whispered.

"S--s--sing it," said Horry, chuckling.

"W--w--won't d--do it," replied Harry indignantly. His indignation
rose at every step. "Y--you r--r--rotten b--bum, y--you! W--w--wanted
t--to m--m--make m--me m--m--make a f--f--" The front door banged
behind the twins, and Sally heard no more.

She had heard Harry's whispered remark and had glanced fearfully at
Dick. He seemed unconscious, and a great joy surged in Sally's heart.

The first morning that Sally came downstairs--on crutches--she managed
her crutches unskillfully and fell half the flight. Uncle John and
Cousin Patty, followed closely by Charlie, hurried to her. Uncle John
was the most alarmed. He stooped and would have raised her head, but
Sally saved him that trouble and smiled at him.

"I'm not hurt one mite," she said. She was not. "Wasn't I lucky?"

He gave a great sigh of relief.

"I was afraid," he replied. "I'm thankful that you're not. Are you
sure, Sally?" he asked anxiously.

"Oh, yes, I'm sure." And, to convince him, Sally jumped up, nimbly,
and hopped about on one foot.

Uncle John smiled. "It isn't very wise to try such experiments. Now,
you're to sit beside me at the table, hereafter. We can't risk that
foot, for it would be more of a misfortune to our Sally and to us if
anything serious happened to it than she realizes."

Sally had noted the way he spoke of "our Sally"; it was affectionate,
genuinely so. There could not be the least doubt about it.

"Now," he continued, "you will please to take my arm."

"Oh, father," remonstrated Miss Patty, "is it safe?"

"Quite safe, Patty," he returned quietly, "and I wish it."

It is not to be wondered at if Sally squeezed his arm a little. She
could not say what she wanted to, right there before Cousin Patty and
Charlie. It is hard to see why she couldn't, but Uncle John seemed to
understand; and they walked solemnly in to breakfast, Sally wielding
one crutch and Uncle John the other.

"We're two old cripples, Sally," said he.



CHAPTER IV


Sally wrote Fox about it all, of course. There would have been no
excuse for her if she had not; and she wrote Henrietta, too, although
she had some difficulty in making the two letters cover the same
ground without saying the same thing. This was one of the times when
Sally's letters to Henrietta came in bunches. She alluded to her
accident in one of her letters to Doctor Galen, and he answered it
almost immediately, giving her four pages of excellent advice and
ending by taking it all back.

"Fox tells me," he wrote, "that you have Meriwether Beatty looking
after you. In that case please consider all this unsaid. I know
something of Doctor Beatty and I am sure you couldn't be in better
hands--unless in the hands of Doctor Fox Sanderson. Have you heard
that Fox has decided to be a doctor and that he is studying with me
besides taking his course in the medical school?"

No, Sally had not heard it. Fox was strangely reticent about himself.
He had not mentioned, even, that he had found a tenant for their
house; a tenant who would respect all of Sally's little affections--or
great affections, if you prefer--for trees from which the gynesaurus
had been wont to gaze out over the coal swamps, ages ago; a tenant
who, strangely enough, was named Sanderson. She learned this piece of
news, or inferred it, from one of Henrietta's letters. Henrietta had
supposed that Sally knew it already.

Sally was feeling very tenderly affectionate towards Fox over this
news, and very much elated over the doctor's announcement, for it
could hardly fail to be evident what prosperity for Fox was implied in
Doctor Galen's great good will. She wrote to Fox at once,
congratulating him.

"Everybody here seems to think that Doctor Galen is It, and so do I,"
she went on. "I read Doctor Beatty what Doctor Galen said about him,
and you ought to have seen him. He looked pleased as he could be and
he smiled--he tried not to--and he positively blushed. Then he began
to talk about my foot, but my foot is not worth talking about now. It
is almost well. I go about quite easily with my crutches and Uncle
John takes me for a walk every morning, before he goes downtown. It
makes him late in getting down, but he doesn't seem to mind. Uncle
John and I have got quite fond of each other. Really, Fox, Uncle John
is the best person here. He is so kind and thoughtful and, Fox, so
polite! His politeness seems to be a part of him. Yes, I am very fond
of Uncle John. Of course, I am fond of Cousin Patty, too, but I like
Uncle John more.

"And there are other ways I have of going out. Dick Torrington has
come in every afternoon since I hurt my foot, and, now that I can get
about so well, he takes me for a walk. It's very slow business for
him, of course, but he doesn't seem to mind, either. It's astonishing
how many people don't seem to mind. Dick is _very_ nice and kind and
satisfying. He reminds me of you in many ways. He always treats me
like a person,--as if I were as old as he is,--not as if I was only a
little girl and of no consequence, as Everett Morton seems to think.
Dick seems to _like_ to take me out. He is going to take his
examinations for Harvard this June, and he is a little afraid he won't
pass. He failed in a good many of his preliminaries--is that spelled
right?--last year. He isn't very quick at his studies. He says so
himself, so he knows it. I hope he will pass and I wish I could help
him. Uncle John says Dick's all right. Uncle John takes me to walk
again when he gets back, so that I have walking enough for a little
girl with crutches. I shan't need them very much longer, but Doctor
Beatty wants me to be careful and not to climb trees for quite a
while. There aren't any good trees here.

"I hope you know, Fox, that I am very glad you and Henrietta are
living in our house and that I appreciate it. Write me about all the
old places, will you?"

Fox smiled with amusement at himself to find that he felt a distinct
pang at Sally's account of Dick. If Dick was good to her there was no
reason in the world why he should not take her walking as much as he
would. But he, Fox, missed her companionship. Sally was one to be
missed.

Dick did not succeed very well with his examinations. He had as many
conditions as it is permitted to a boy to have, and he had to study
hard all that summer. So the walks with Dick became less and less
frequent until they ceased altogether. Dick is not to be blamed. Sally
was only twelve and he could not have known how much his daily
companionship meant to her. If he had known, he would have managed,
out of the goodness of his heart, to see her oftener than once a week.
Dick was the only intimate friend that Sally had.

Uncle John did not desert her merely because Dick had done so. They
became almost inseparable; so much so that old Cap'n Forsyth, chancing
to meet Mr. Hazen alone, one afternoon, cried out in astonishment.

"Hello, John!" he cried in his great bluff voice, a voice that had
been heard, often, above the roaring of the wind in the rigging and
the hissing of the seas. "Hello, John! Where's the other one? Anything
the matter with her?"

Uncle John smiled quietly. "I hope not, Stephen. I sincerely hope not.
I haven't been home yet, or you wouldn't find me alone, I trust."

"I believe you're in love, John," Cap'n Forsyth cried again. He might
have been heard a block away.

The smile had not left Mr. Hazen's face. "I believe I am, Stephen. I
believe I am."

"She's worth it, is she?" roared Cap'n Forsyth.

Mr. Hazen nodded. "She's worth it, Stephen."

"I'm glad to hear it, John," Cap'n Forsyth shouted. No doubt he
thought he was whispering. "It's getting to be as common a sight--you
and Sally--as those Carling nuisances. And Patty's just as bad with
that little boy brother of hers. I hope he's worth it, too. Good-bye,
John."

There was some doubt in Uncle John's mind as to Charlie's being worth
it. He and Patty were inseparable, too, and Charlie was not improved.
He was in imminent danger of being spoiled, if the mischief was not
already done. Uncle John sighed and turned homeward. He found Sally
sitting on the front steps, waiting for him.

       *       *       *       *       *

After Dick went, in the fall, Sally had nothing to do but to try to
play by herself and devote herself to her studies and miss Dick. She
found that she missed him almost as much as she had missed Fox. As for
playing by herself, she had had that to do nearly all summer; for,
although she had tried, conscientiously, she could not feel any
interest in the other girls of her own age. They were uninteresting,
somehow. Uncle John was better, and she got into the habit of going
down to his office in the afternoons and coming home with him. Miss
Patty was very glad to have her do it. It relieved her mind; in case,
you know, he should stumble or slip or--or anything else should
happen. She felt that Sally was to be relied upon, and so she was; but
Miss Patty was putting a rather grave responsibility upon her and she
was a little too lonely. It is not good for little girls to be lonely.
She was unaware of the responsibility.

Sally's school was a diversion. Diversion seems to be the right word.
There were about seventy scholars in the school; and, with six
classes, that makes about a dozen scholars to a class, more or less.
The lower classes had more and the upper classes, by natural processes
of elimination, had less. Sally's class had fourteen; and Sally had no
trouble at all in standing at the head of a class of fourteen. It had
made Dick envious--no, not envious, for Dick was never that; but it
was a constant wonder to him that any one should be able to stand
first in fourteen with so little work.

In the great schoolroom, where all the scholars sat when they had no
classes to go to, the boys sat on one side and the girls sat on the
other. They were given seats according to their rank, the first class
at the back of the room and the sixth class right under the eye of
the principal, almost under his very hand. In general, this was a good
arrangement. It happened, however, that the worst behavior was not in
the lowest class, but in the fourth, which was Sally's class. So
Sally, from her seat in the fourth row from the front, saw Eugene
Spencer, commonly called "Jane," suddenly haled from his seat at her
side--Sally sat next to the boys and Jane next to the girls--and,
after a severe lecture, assigned a desk within touch of the desk of
the principal, Mr. MacDalie.

Jane was a boy of immaculate and ladylike appearance. He listened
respectfully to the lecture and received the assignment of the desk
with a bow of thanks; all of which behavior was, in itself,
unobjectionable. Jane had a knack at that. But it drove the principal,
who was a man of irascible temper, into a white-hot rage, which Jane
respectfully sat through, apparently undisturbed. A suppressed
excitement ran along the rows of boys, who were as if on tiptoe with
expectation of what might happen. Sally, herself, was trembling, she
found; for it seemed, for a few minutes, as though the principal would
do Jane bodily harm. But nothing happened. The white-hot rage cooled
quickly, as such rages do; and the principal smiled with amusement,
changing in a moment, as such men change, and went on with his hearing
of the class in Civil Government.

Sally was very glad that Jane was gone from his seat beside her, for
he had almost convulsed her by his pranks on countless occasions and
had very nearly made her disgrace herself by laughing aloud. She had
fears, however, still; for Jane's new desk was between the principal
and the classes that he was hearing, and was on the floor, while the
principal's desk was on the platform. Jane, therefore, was, in a
measure, concealed from the view of the astute MacDalie, but in full
view of the class, which occupied benches a few feet behind him.
Moreover, the desks on either side of Jane's--there were three of them
in a row, of which Jane occupied the middle one--were occupied,
respectively, by the Carlings. The Carlings always occupied those
desks. They had got to feeling a sort of proprietorship in them. Jane,
however, knew too much to continue his mischief on that day. He was
filled to the brim with it, that was all, and it was only a question
how long before it would run over.

Sally was glad when the bell called her to a class downstairs; and she
sat as if in a trance and watched Jane Spencer gravely fishing in the
aquarium tank with a bent pin on the end of a thread. He kept on
fishing all through the class hour, unhindered. The single little fish
in the tank tugged at the pin occasionally, without result; and, when
the bell sounded again, Jane folded up his line and put it in his
book.

"No luck," he observed, bowing to the teacher.

"Too bad!" said the teacher sympathetically.

"Yes, isn't it?" said Jane; and he withdrew in good order, leaving the
teacher smiling to himself. What was he smiling at, I wonder?

Jane never descended to such behavior as sitting with his feet in his
desk, as Oliver Pilcher did. No doubt he considered it undignified and
generally bad form, which unquestionably it was. Moreover he would
thereby run the risk of getting caught in a situation which he
regarded as unprofessional. Oliver Pilcher was caught several times,
for it is somewhat difficult to get one's feet out of one's desk as
quickly as is necessary to avoid that humiliation. If you do not
believe it, try it.

Jane may have tried it or he may not. He preferred a different sort of
misbehavior; it was especial balm to his soul to be thought to be
misbehaving and then to prove that he was not, for that was a joke on
the teacher which was apt, for reasons unknown, to make him hopping
mad, and Jane's end seemed to have been attained when he had made the
teacher hopping mad. He was apt to appear to be very inattentive in
class, thinking--but I do not know what he was thinking. Even Mr.
MacDalie was deceived occasionally. Jane would be sitting, looking
out of the window, perhaps, with his book face down beside him, while
the Latin translation dragged by painful jerks along the other end of
the class. Mr. MacDalie would have noted Jane's attitude, as he noted
everything, and would call upon him suddenly and, as he supposed,
unexpectedly. And Jane would take up his book, deliberately, and,
rising, begin at the very word and give a beautiful and fluent
translation until he was stopped. Sally saw that happen four times
that half-year.

The last time, the principal smiled broadly and lowered his book.

"Well, Eugene," he said,--he almost called him "Jane,"--"you fooled me
nicely. That translation was very nearly perfect."

"Thank you, sir," Jane replied gravely; and he sat down and placed his
book, face down again, upon the bench beside him and resumed his
gazing out of the window.

One day during Dick's Christmas vacation there was a great sleighing
party. There was no reason in the world why Sally should have expected
to be asked or wanted to be. She told herself so, many times; but she
was disappointed, grievously. Mr. Hazen saw it,--any one could see it
plainly,--and, because he could not bear that Sally should feel so, he
asked her if she wouldn't oblige him by going sleighing with him. And
because she couldn't bear to disappoint Uncle John, Sally went. She
was grateful to him, too. So it happened that two people, who would
have much preferred going anywhere on their own feet, were wrapped in
a buffalo robe,--one of the last of them; a robe of which Mr. Hazen
was very proud,--and, thus protected against the cold, were being
drawn easily behind the stout horse.

At the bottom of her heart, Sally despised sleighing only a degree
less than she despised driving in a carriage. She thought she should
like riding, but of riding a horse she knew nothing. She had never in
her life been on a horse's back. As for sleighing, she thought, as
they drove along, that they might as well be in her room, sitting in a
seat that was not wide enough for two, with a buffalo robe tucked
around their knees. With the window wide open and bells jingled
rhythmically before them and an occasional gentle bounce, the effect
would not be so very different. As she thought of this, she began to
chuckle at the humor of it. You may not see any humor in the idea, but
Sally did.

A sleigh turned the next corner suddenly, and a look of anxiety came
into Mr. Hazen's face. "That's Cap'n Forsyth," he said. "A most
reckless driver. It's best to give him the road if we can."

Sally recognized the captain, in an old blue sleigh, very strongly
built. The captain had need of vehicles that were strongly built and
he had them built to his order, like a ship. He was standing up in the
sleigh and urging on his horse, which was on the dead run. Captain
Forsyth kept the middle of the road and made no attempt to turn out.
Perhaps he could not.

"Hello, John," he roared, waving his whip. "Hello, Sally."

The horse must have considered that the waving of the whip was an
indication that the captain wanted more speed, and he put on an extra
burst of it. Captain Forsyth sat down suddenly. It only amused him.

"What d'ye think o' that, John?" he shouted.

"Turn out, turn out, Stephen!" Mr. Hazen called anxiously. He had not
succeeded in getting completely out of the road.

"Can't do it, John," replied the captain, regaining his feet. The old
blue sleigh struck the other on the port quarter with a crash. It was
not the captain's sleigh that was injured.

"Charge it to me, John," the captain roared. He did not turn even his
head. "By the sound I've carried away your after davits. Charge it to
me." And Captain Forsyth was borne swiftly away.

That "Charge it to me" rang in Sally's ears as it died away upon the
breeze. She picked herself up, laughing. Mr. Hazen was not thrown out
and was unhurt. The horse stood quietly.

"Are you hurt, Sally?" asked Uncle John anxiously.

"Not a bit; and you aren't, are you? Now, what shall we do?"

"I think there is enough of the sleigh left to carry us both if we go
slowly. If not, we'll have to walk."

Presently Sally burst out into a new fit of chuckling. "How funny
Captain Forsyth is! What shall you do, Uncle John? Shall you charge it
to him, as he said to do?"

"Oh, yes," Uncle John replied. "It would hurt his feelings, if I
didn't. He would consider it unfriendly. He has a good many to pay
for."

"He had much better go on his own feet," said Sally reflectively.



CHAPTER V


Sally was fifteen when the final good news came from Fox. She was in
Uncle John's office, waiting until he should be ready to go. Uncle
John's office was on the second floor of a little old wooden building
where it had always been since Uncle John had had an office. He had
chosen it because it stood just at the head of a short street leading
to a certain wharf--Hazen's Wharf; and because from its windows one
could see the length of the street and the length of the wharf and
note what was going on there and how many vessels were fitting. The
number of vessels that were fitting was surprisingly great, even now,
and Sally could see their yards sticking out over the wharf, although
their hulls were mostly hidden behind projecting buildings. That view
from his office windows had saved Mr. Hazen many steps in the course
of a long life. The fact that the business centre of the town had
moved up and had left him stranded disturbed him not at all. He was
still in his business centre.

So Sally, thinking vaguely of Fox and Henrietta, sat at a window and
watched and was very well content with the view of the harbor and the
wharf and the ends of yards sticking over it, and as much of the hulls
of vessels as she could see, and the row of oil casks with a rough
fence of old ships' sheathing behind them, and the black dust of the
street. The black dust was stirred up now and then by the feet of
horses and by the wheels of the low, heavy truck that they were
dragging. Then a man, with a heavy mallet in his hand, approached the
row of casks and began to loosen the bungs. It was an operation that
had become familiar to Sally and she knew it to be preparation for the
work of the gauger, who would come along later and measure what was
in the casks. The man with the mallet and the gauger with his stick
were familiar figures.

But certain other familiar figures drew into her view and watched the
man loosening the bungs, and seemed to be greatly interested in the
proceeding. They were the Carlings and Oliver Pilcher. Sally wondered
what mischief they were up to. That they were up to some mischief she
had not a doubt. The man with the mallet must have been a very
trusting, unsuspicious man. It is not at all likely that the angelic
faces of the singing twins and Oliver Pilcher were unknown about the
wharves. Even if they were, why, boys are all--even the best of
them--they are all cut by the same pattern, or they ought to be. Don't
we--you and I--feel a sort of contempt for a boy who is not? And don't
we call him "sissy" in our hearts? The other boys will not confine
their calls of "sissy" to their hearts and it is likely to go hard
with that boy.

When the bungs were all loosened, that trusting man with the mallet
meandered slowly away, having paid no attention whatever to the boys
who watched him so innocently. Sally saw the Carlings looking after
him with an alert attention, whatever there was to be done being
evidently postponed until he was out of sight. She could not help
thinking how differently Jane Spencer would have acted. He would have
disdained to wait for the man to disappear, for there would not be any
fun in it for him unless there was some interested person present. But
Jane Spencer was Jane Spencer and there was only one of him.

The man must have gone into some building, although Sally couldn't be
sure, for she couldn't see; but the twins turned their heads and
Oliver Pilcher gave a yell and leaped for the row of casks, closely
followed by the Carlings, who began chanting loudly. Sally could not
hear the words, but the chant marked the time to which Oliver Pilcher
leaped into the air and came down with force and precision upon one
bung after another. Just one cask behind him came Harry Carling. Sally
supposed it was Harry, for the Carlings always went in that order.
One cask behind Harry came Horry; and the casks gave out a hollow
sound, in accordance with their degrees of emptiness, after the manner
of casks,--especially oil casks,--as the three boys landed on their
respective bungs.

The boys disappeared behind the corner of a building, but as the chant
continued, it was to be inferred that the exercise was not yet
finished; and in a moment back they came in the reverse order, landing
on the bungs with the same force and precision. For driving bungs
solidly, this method is to be commended.

But Horry, perhaps feeling somewhat hurried as he got to the end,
missed his last bung, came down with misdirected force upon the
slippery staves and landed on his back in the oil-soaked dust. Harry,
unable to stop, landed upon him; but Oliver Pilcher made a sidewise
spring and cleared them. The twins had forgotten to sing--the moment
was too full of excitement--and were stuttering and pounding each
other. Their voices were just beginning to change.

Some sound made Oliver Pilcher turn his head. Evidently, he hated to.

"Cheesit!" he cried, beginning to run before the word was out of his
mouth.

Harry did not wait to see what was coming, but got to his feet
instantly, dragging Horry by an arm, and ran. Horry protested
vehemently, but he ran, and the three boys came up the hill, directly
toward the office windows, and disappeared around the corner. Down on
the wharf the man with the mallet was patiently loosening the bungs
again. They came hard.

Sally gasped and chuckled. "Did you see, Uncle John?" For Uncle John
was standing at her elbow. "Whose are they? The barrels, I mean."

"They are mine, Sally," he replied, with a sigh. "I saw some of it."

"Oh, it's too bad," said she quickly, "if they are yours."

"It's no great matter. Patrick has plenty of time. It's only a little
annoyance."

"And did you see the back of Horry Carling's jacket?" asked Sally,
horrified. "How will he ever get it clean?"

"He can't," answered Uncle John briefly.

"Their mother must have a hard time," said Sally thoughtfully, after a
moment of silence. "Are you ready to go now?"

"Just about. Here's a letter for you, from Fox, I suppose. I'll be
ready by the time you have read it."

Sally thanked him and took the letter. It contained rather momentous
news; news about her mother. It was good news, the best that could be,
Sally thought. She had been getting good news about her mother all
along. Indeed, she had been getting letters from her mother
occasionally for nearly two years; mere notes at first, her dear love,
scribbled on a scrap of paper. Then they began to be a little longer
and at lessening intervals; and for some months now they had been
regular letters, not long, to be sure, but letters. The improvement
was slow, very slow!

This news was different. Her mother was well enough, at last, to leave
Doctor Galen's care. There were several things that she might do; and
Fox suggested that Mrs. Ladue come out to her old home to live.
Henrietta and he would be happy to continue there, if that met with
the approval of all concerned. There would be money enough to carry on
the establishment, he thought. But what were Sally's plans? What did
she prefer? Meanwhile--

Sally knew very well whose money there would be enough of, if Fox's
suggestion were accepted. It would mean that Fox would support them;
for she knew, too, that they did not have money enough. Oh, mercy, no,
not nearly enough; not enough even for them to pretend that it would
do. But she must be with her mother, and Charlie must, too. She would
not let Charlie be a bother. It would be a little harder than it used
to be, the care of Charlie, for Cousin Patty had--well--and Sally did
not say it, even to herself. She felt that it would be almost
treason. What should she do? What could she do, for that matter? It
needed thought.

So Uncle John found a sober and serious Sally waiting for him. He
noted it at once.

"What is it, Sally?" he asked. "Not bad news, I hope?"

He spoke rather anxiously. Sally's worries were his concern; and that
was not such a bad state of affairs either.

Sally smiled up at him. "Oh, no," she said. "It's good news, but I
have to think what I shall do." And she told him all about it.

They were well on their way home by the time Sally had finished her
exposition of the question which troubled her. It was too new to her
to have been thought out and Sally presented every aspect as it
occurred to her.

"It seems to be a large question," said Uncle John thoughtfully, "for
a little girl to have to answer, all by herself." Suddenly he turned
and looked at Sally. "Bless me! You aren't little any more. I must
stop calling you a little girl. How old are you, Sally?"

"Fifteen last spring," Sally replied. "Had you forgotten, Uncle John?"

"No, oh, no, I suppose not, but it is hard to realize that you are
growing up so fast. Why, you are nearly as tall as I am. And how long
have you been with us?"

"Almost four years, Uncle John."

"Bless me! So you have, Sally. It seems only last week that you came;
and yet, you have always been with us. Well, my dear, I don't find
myself quite ready to send you off again, and so I advise you to
dismiss the puzzling question from your mind for a day or two. Better
let me bother over it awhile. Fox can wait for a few days. He won't
mind, will he?"

"No," she said, smiling, "Fox won't mind. He has been waiting four
years already."

"Fox is an excellent young man," Mr. Hazen murmured. "I must see what
Patty has to say."

Patty had a good deal to say. She came to her father in a hurry and
in some agitation that same evening, after Sally had gone to bed. It
saved him the trouble of introducing the subject and put the burden of
proof on the other side. Not that it mattered particularly to Mr.
Hazen where the burden of proof lay. He was accustomed to have his own
quiet way. In fact, consultation with Patty was rather an empty
formality; but it was a form which he always observed scrupulously.

"Oh, father," she began, rather flurried, "what do you suppose Sally
has just told me? Her mother--"

"I know. I was meaning to speak to you about it."

"I am all upset. I can't bear to think of sending Charlie away now."
There were tears in poor Miss Patty's eyes.

Mr. Hazen could not quite repress a smile. "True," he said; "I had
forgotten him."

"Oh, father!" Miss Patty exclaimed reproachfully. "How could you?"

"It is incomprehensible, but I was thinking of Sally. Never mind,
Patty, it comes to the same thing in the end. Would it be quite
convenient to ask Sarah Ladue to come here?"

"Ask Cousin Sarah to come here to _live_?" Miss Patty echoed, in some
consternation.

"Why, yes, Patty. I understand that she is likely to live and--"

"Oh, father!" Miss Patty cried again. "You know I didn't mean--"

"I don't pretend," Mr. Hazen resumed, smiling, "to any particular love
for Sarah, whom I never saw more than once or twice in my life. Even
that must have been many years ago. But, as I recollect, she was a
pretty, unassuming young woman whom I thought, at the time, altogether
too good for Charles." Miss Patty looked shocked. "Oh, there is
nothing gained by pretending to be blind to Charles's weakness. He was
a gambler before he left college. I knew it very well. There was
nothing to be done. Meddling with other people's children is a vice,
Patty. It never does any good. I have some misgivings--" Mr. Hazen
paused abruptly. There seemed to him nothing to be gained by following
out that line of thought either.

"Some misgivings about what, father?" Patty prompted.

"It doesn't matter, Patty. I have too many misgivings about
everything. It is the fault of age. As I come to think of it, Sally
looks like her mother. I hope her character--but Sally's character is
all right. As to Sarah, we have spare rooms, haven't we?"

"Ye--es," assented Miss Patty reluctantly. She hated to give in, but
she might have known that she would have to. She did know it. "But,
father,--supporting the whole family--"

"There is no question," said Mr. Hazen quietly; and Patty knew that
there was no more to be said. "It is a choice between letting that
young Mr. Sanderson support them,--which he would be very glad to do,
Patty,--and asking Sarah to come here. I much prefer to ask her. I
wish to keep Sally with us and you are not willing to let Charlie go.
On this plan we shall keep them both. Will you write to Sarah,
proposing it? Write as cordially as you can, Patty, will you? Thank
you."

So it happened that Mrs. Ladue came to Whitby in September. It could
not be said to have happened, perhaps, but, at all events, she came.
They all went down behind the stout horse to meet her; all but Uncle
John. There were Cousin Patty and Charlie and Sally herself. Sally's
eyes were very bright and there was the old spot of brilliant color in
either cheek. Uncle John noticed it. He patted her hand as she got
into the carryall, but he did not speak. Miss Patty did, after they
got started. Sally was sitting up very straight and she was looking
straight ahead and the spots of color were in her cheeks still. It was
much as she had looked when she went away from her old home that she
so loved. Miss Patty could not understand it. She was even a little
afraid, I think.

"Sally," she said hesitatingly, "don't--don't look so--so _strained_.
Surely, this is not a time to feel worried or anxious. Surely, this is
a--a joyous occasion."

To Miss Patty's surprise, Sally burst out laughing. As Miss Patty had
implied, she did look strained. There may have been something a little
hysterical about her laugh. Miss Patty was more afraid than ever. She
proposed stopping at the apothecary's and getting a little camphor
or--or something.

But Sally protested that she did not need camphor or anything. "You
know, Cousin Patty," she went on, the tears standing in her eyes, "I
haven't seen my mother for four years, and I don't know, quite, what
to expect. I am very--very _fond_ of my mother, Cousin Patty. I can't
help my feelings, but you needn't be afraid"--and Sally laughed a
little--"that I am going to have hysterics or anything, for I'm not."

Miss Patty murmured some reply. Sally did not know what it was, and
Miss Patty didn't either.

"I don't suppose," Sally continued, "that Charlie remembers mother
very well, for he--"

"I do, too," said Charlie, with the pleasant manner which had become
usual.

"Very well, then, you do," replied Sally patiently. And she said no
more, for they were already turning down the steep hill that led to
the station.

In time--it seemed a very long time--but in time the train came in;
and Sally watched eagerly the crowd flowing down the steps and
spreading out on the platform. Presently, near the end, came
Henrietta, as fast as the people would permit. Sally gave a great sigh
of relief, for she was beginning to be afraid--and there was Fox.
Sally edged impatiently toward the car steps. Fox was not looking at
her; he was helping a lady whose eyes wandered eagerly over the
waiting people. The lady's mouth drooped at one corner and her hair
showed just a little gray behind her lifted veil.

Sally ran forward, elbowing her way without remorse; she had but one
thought. Her chin quivered. A wave of tenderness overwhelmed her.

"Oh, mother! Mother, dear! Don't you know me?"

The drooping lips parted in a lovely smile. Sally felt her mother's
arms around her. How she had longed for that!

"Why, Sally! Why, my own great girl! Why, darling, don't cry!"



CHAPTER VI


They soon got used to Mrs. Ladue's gentle presence among them. Uncle
John got used to it more quickly than Sally did herself; much more
quickly than Cousin Patty did. But then, her coming was none of Cousin
Patty's doing, in spite of the fact that it was Cousin Patty who sent
the invitation. It took Patty some time to get over that. The things
that we are forced to do, however gentle the force may be, are seldom
wholly acceptable to us. As for Sally, her happiness was too great to
make it possible for her to get used to it immediately. She used to
run in when she got home from school and hug her mother. She wanted to
make sure that her presence was a "true fact," as she said. She wanted
to touch; to be certain that she had not dreamed it.

Mrs. Ladue used to sit beside the table with its stained green cover,
in that very homelike back parlor, in the long evenings, with Uncle
John in his great chair before the bubbling fire. Miss Patty ran--or,
no, she did not run, literally. That would have been most undignified
besides being unnecessary; but it was probably unnecessary for Miss
Patty to go out so often and stay so long about her household duties.
The duties of the household rather oppressed Miss Patty and sat
heavily upon her. Household duties? Better be about them, Miss Patty
thought. So she flitted nervously in and out twenty times during an
evening. She was out more than she was in and her chair on the other
side of the fire from Uncle John's was usually empty. She went to
glance into the kitchen, to see what Bridget or Mary _could_ be about,
it was so quiet there. She hadn't heard a sound for the longest while.
"Don't you think I'd better see, father?" And her father would smile
quietly and tell her to do as she liked. Or she would wonder whether
the maids had locked the cellar door; or there was that window in the
pantry; or she had to see Charlie safely into bed, although one would
think that Charlie was very nearly old enough to see himself safely
into bed. There were things without end; anything that _might_ not be
just as Patty thought it should be.

Uncle John and Mrs. Ladue sat quietly through it all, Mrs. Ladue with
her sewing or her embroidery or her crochet work or her book. She was
not much of an invalid, after all; not enough of an invalid to give
any trouble. She had to be careful, that was all. She must not get too
tired and she must have plenty of sleep. Those two things Doctor Galen
had enjoined upon her at parting, with much impressiveness. And he
thought that he might as well drop a line to Meriwether Beatty asking
him to keep an eye on her and to let him know how she was getting
along. "So you see, my lady, you are not out of my clutches yet," the
doctor finished merrily. To which Mrs. Ladue had replied, almost
tearfully, that she had no wish to get out of his clutches and that
she never could repay him and she didn't want to and she shouldn't
try. She _liked_ to feel that she owed her life to him--

"Tut, tut!" said the doctor, smiling. "Don't forget Fox."

And Mrs. Ladue protested that there was not the least danger of her
forgetting Fox. She didn't know where they would all be if it had not
been for Fox, and she was very fond of him, and she thought--Then Fox,
himself, had appeared, and she said no more upon that subject, and
they got into their train and presently they came away. But, whatever
Mrs. Ladue's thoughts may have been, on that subject or on any other,
she said little and seemed to invite confidence. There is no reason to
believe that she wished confidences from anybody. It may have been
only that she kept her thoughts to herself, for the most part, as
Sally did, and that she was straightforward and truthful, as Sally
was. That is not to imply that Sally was an exact counterpart of her
mother. Probably Sally, in her mother's place, would have done very
differently; almost certainly her relations with Professor Charles
Ladue would have been different. Even as it was, it will be remembered
that he seemed to have a certain fear of his little daughter. He had
no fear of his wife. Mrs. Ladue's environment, to use a phrase that
needs a deal of explaining before we know exactly what we mean, had
been unsuited to her.

The new environment was not unsuited to her, at least as far as Uncle
John was concerned. She helped to create an atmosphere of
tranquillity; an atmosphere eminently suited to an old man and one to
which that particular old man had not been accustomed. There was
nothing tranquil or serene about Miss Patty. Uncle John, it is to be
presumed, liked tranquillity and serenity. He succeeded in attaining
to a surprising degree of it, in his own person, considering. Sally
had been a help in the past four years; it was going on to five years
now.

He was thinking upon these matters one evening as he sat reading. He
was thinking more of them than of the page before him. He put the book
down slowly, and looked up. Patty was upstairs with Charlie.

"Sarah," he remarked, "I find it very pleasant to have you with us."

Mrs. Ladue was surprised. There was no occasion for that remark unless
Uncle John just wanted to make it. Sally, who had not yet gone
upstairs, flushed with sudden pleasure and her eyes shone.

"There, mother!" she cried. "There now! You see. What did I tell--"

In Mrs. Ladue's face the faint color was coming and going. She spoke
with some emotion.

"Thank you, Uncle John. It was kind of you to ask us. I find it very
pleasant to be here. And that--it would be so easy not to make it
pleasant. I haven't--I can't thank you suitably--"

"There is no question of thanks, Sarah," he replied, smiling gravely.
"I hope you will put that out of your mind. You give more than you
get--you and Sally."

"I am very glad," Mrs. Ladue murmured; "very glad and grateful. Sally
is a good girl." Uncle John smiled at Sally. "She would not bother
you--"

Mr. Hazen reached forth and patted Sally's hand as it lay on the
table. "No. Sally doesn't bother me very much."

"But Charlie," Mrs. Ladue continued, somewhat anxiously,--"Charlie,
I'm afraid, does. He has changed a good deal in these four years. He's
hard to manage."

"Patty can't manage him, if you mean that," Mr. Hazen agreed. "She
doesn't try very hard. But he's developed in the wrong direction,
that's all, I think."

"No." There was a curious hardness in Mrs. Ladue's voice and manner.
It did not seem possible that she could be speaking of her own little
son. "I doubt if he could be developed in any other direction. He's
very much like his father. His father was--" She stopped abruptly.
"But there is no use in going over that," she added.

Mr. Hazen nodded. "I knew Charles before you did," he observed,
"and--but, as you say, there is nothing to be gained by going into
that. I may as well speak to Patty--again."

"I have absolutely no influence with Charlie now," Mrs. Ladue sighed.
"It is natural enough that I should not have any."

Mr. Hazen's talk with Patty amounted to nothing, as was to be
expected. No doubt he did expect it, for it is not to be supposed that
he could have lived with Patty Havering for nearly forty years without
knowing her traits. She had no real firmness. She had obstinacy
enough; a quiet, mulish obstinacy which left her exactly where one
found her. She was absolutely untouched by argument or persuasion, to
which she made little reply, although she sometimes fretted and grew
restive under it. Nothing short of her father's quiet "I wish it,
Patty" was of the least avail. She gave in to that because she knew
that it was a command, not because she knew that it was right. As to
that, was not _she_ always right? She never had the least doubt of it.
She sometimes doubted the expediency of an act; it was not expedient
to disobey her father's implied commands. Not that she had ever tried
it, but she did not think that it would be expedient. I don't think
that it would have been either. It was just as well, perhaps, that she
never tried it. But, in a matter like this one of Charlie, there was
no command direct enough to enforce obedience. You know what I mean,
as Miss Patty might have said; thereby implying that she hoped that
you did, for she didn't. She was not quite clear about it in her own
mind, but there seemed little risk in doing as she wanted to rather
than as her father wanted her to. Her own ideas were rather hazy and
the more she tried to think it out the more muddled she got. Anyway,
she said to herself, as she gave it up, she wouldn't, and she got up
from the rocking-chair which she permitted herself in her own room and
went briskly about her duties. She had sat there for as much as half
an hour. She had been watching Charlie chasing about Morton's lot, for
she could see over the high wall as she sat. Most of the boys were
tolerant chaps, as most boys are, after a certain age; but some of
them were not and some others had not reached that age of tolerance
apparently. Fortunately for Miss Patty's peace of mind she did not
happen to see any of that.

Miss Patty, however, did not make public her decision, but Mrs. Ladue
knew what it was just as well as if she had shouted it from the
housetop. Where did a talk with Patty end but where it began? And Mrs.
Ladue had been sitting at her own window--she shared Sally's room--she
had been sitting at her own window while Patty sat at hers and looked
at Charlie over the wall. But Mrs. Ladue watched longer than Patty and
she saw several things which Patty was spared; to be sure, the wall
was very high and cut off the view from a large part of the lot, but
she saw Ollie Pilcher run after Charlie at last and chase him into
that part of the lot which she could not see. Ollie was not noted for
his patience, but Mrs. Ladue thought the loss of the remnants of it
was excusable, in the circumstances. Then there was an outcry and it
was not Ollie's voice that cried out.

Mrs. Ladue sighed and got out of her comfortable chair and went
downstairs. She hoped she should be ahead of Patty when Charlie came
in. She was not, but she and Patty waited together; and Charlie came.
He was not crying, but the traces of tears were on his face. Miss
Patty gave a little exclamation of horror.

"Charlie," began Mrs. Ladue hurriedly, before Patty could speak, "come
up with me. I want to talk with you."

Charlie wanted to go with Cousin Patty; he didn't want to be talked
to. He said so with much petulance.

"Let me take the poor child, Sarah," Patty began.

"After I have talked with him, Patty," said Mrs. Ladue patiently.
Nobody should know how she dreaded this talk. "Come, Charlie."

She made Charlie mount the stairs ahead of her and she succeeded in
steering him into her room. He washed his face with furious haste.

"Charlie, dear boy," she said at last, "I was watching you for a long
time this afternoon. You know that I can see very well what goes on in
the lot from this window."

He was wiping his face and he exposed his eyes for a moment, gazing at
his mother over the edge of the towel. They were handsome eyes and
they were filled now with a calculating thoughtfulness, which his
mother noted. It did not make her feel any easier.

Charlie considered it worth risking. "Then you saw," he said, still
with that petulant note in his voice, "how the boys picked on me. Why,
they--"

"I saw, Charlie," Mrs. Ladue interrupted, smiling wearily, "not how
the boys picked on you, but how you bothered them. I thought Ollie was
very patient and I didn't blame him a bit."

"But he _hurt_ me," Charlie cried in astonishment. It was the most
heinous sin that he knew of. Patty would think so.

"You deserved to be hurt. You are eleven, Charlie, and I'm surprised
that you don't see that your actions will leave you without friends,
absolutely without friends within a few years. Where should we be now,
Charlie," continued Mrs. Ladue gently, "if we had had no friends?"

"Guess Cousin Patty'd be my friend," Charlie grumbled. "Guess she
would."

"You will wear out even her doting affection if you keep on," replied
his mother almost sharply. It was difficult to imagine her speaking
with real sharpness. She regretted it instantly. "My dear little son,
why won't you do differently? Why do you prefer to make the boys all
dislike you? It's for your own good that I have talked to you, and I
haven't said so very much. You don't please Uncle John, Charlie. You
would be _so_ much happier if you would only do as Sally does and--"

"Huh!" said Charlie, throwing down the towel. "Cousin Patty wants me,
mother." And he bolted out of the door.

Tears came to Mrs. Ladue's eyes. Her eyes were still wet when Doctor
Beatty came in. He could not help seeing.

"Not crying?" he asked. "That will never do."

Mrs. Ladue smiled. "I have been talking to Charlie," she said, as if
that were a sufficient explanation.

Indeed, it seemed to be. That, in itself, was cause for grief. "Ah!"
said the doctor. "Charlie didn't receive it with meekness, I judge."

She did not answer directly. "It seems hopeless," she returned at
last. "I have been away from him so long that I am virtually a
stranger. And Patty--" She did not finish.

Doctor Beatty laughed. "I know Patty. I think I may say that I know
her very well. Why, there was one period--" He remembered in time and
his tone changed. "Yes, there was one period when I thought I knew her
very well. Ancient history," he went on with a wave of his
hand,--"ancient history."

Mrs. Ladue said nothing, but she looked sympathetic and she smiled.
Doctor Beatty sat down conveniently near her, but yet far enough away
to be able to watch her closely.

Meanwhile the doctor talked. It was of little consequence what he
talked about, and he rambled along from one subject to another,
talking of anything that came into his head; of anything but Mrs.
Ladue's health. And the strange thing about it was that she had no
inkling as to what the doctor was about. She had no idea that she was
under observation. She only thought it queer that he had so much time
to devote to talking to her. He couldn't be very busy; but she liked
it and would have been sorry to have him give up his visits.

Presently, in his rambling talk, the doctor was once more speaking of
the period of ancient history to which he had already thoughtlessly
alluded.

"There was a time," he said, regarding Mrs. Ladue thoughtfully, "when I
thought I knew Patty pretty well. I used to be here pretty often, you
know. She has spoken of it, perhaps?" Mrs. Ladue smiled and shook her
head. "Ah, what a blow to vanity! I used to think--but my thoughts were
of scarcely more value then than they are now, so it's no matter what I
thought. It's a great while--fifteen or twenty years--struggling young
doctor in the first flush of youth and a growing practice. Practice
like an incubator baby; very, very frail. I suppose I must have been a
sentimental young chap; but not so young either. Must have been nearly
thirty, both of us. Then the baby got out of the incubator and I
couldn't come so often."

He was speaking reminiscently. Then, suddenly, he realized what he was
saying and roused himself with a start.

"Patty was charming, of course, charming," he went on, smiling across
at Mrs. Ladue. "Yes, much as she is now, with the same charm; the same
charm, in moderation."

His eyes were very merry as he finished, and Mrs. Ladue laughed
gently.

"Oh, Doctor," she said, "I ought not to laugh--at Patty. It's your
fault."

Doctor Beatty looked horror-struck. "Laugh at Patty!" he exclaimed.
"Never! Nothing further from my intention. I only run on, like a
babbling brook. I'm really not responsible for what I say. No
significance to be attached to any observations I may make. You won't
mind, will you?"

"I won't mind," Mrs. Ladue agreed. "I don't."

"Thank you. I knew you wouldn't." Doctor Beatty rose and stood for a
moment with his hand on the knob of the door. "You're all right for a
couple of weeks anyway, or I'd warn you to keep your liver on the job.
I always give that advice to Patty, partly because she needs it and
partly because it is amusing to witness the starting of a certain
train of emotions. Good-bye."

And the doctor went out, leaving Mrs. Ladue smiling to herself. She
had forgotten about Charlie.



CHAPTER VII


Sally graduated from her school in the following June. Of all the
persons immediately concerned in that affair, even including Sally
herself, I am inclined to believe that Mr. Hazen was the most acutely
interested. He was not excited over it. A man of his age does not
easily get excited, even if he is of an excitable disposition, which
Mr. Hazen was not; but there is reason to think that he had all the
hopes and fears which Sally ought to have had, but of which she gave
no sign. She had confidence in herself and had no doubts to speak of.
At any rate, she did not speak of any, but took the whole thing as a
matter of course and one to be gone through with in its due season.
For that matter, nobody suspected Mr. Hazen of harboring fears,
although it was taken for granted that he had hopes. He gave no
outward sign of perturbation, and his fondness for Sally was no
secret.

There was never, at that school, any long period without its little
diversions. Jane Spencer, to be sure, was in the graduating class and
his behavior had been most exemplary for some months; but there was no
such inhibition on the behavior of Ollie Pilcher and the Carlings. The
Carlings appeared one morning with grotesquely high collars, at the
sight of which a titter ran about the schoolroom. The Carlings
preserved an admirable gravity. Mr. MacDalie looked up, eyed the twins
with marked displeasure, but said nothing, and the titter gradually
faded out. The Carlings were aggrieved and felt that they had been
guilty of a failure. So they had, in a measure, and Sally could not
help feeling sorry for them. She reflected that Jane would never have
done anything of that kind. Jane would never have made a failure of
anything that he undertook, either. Jane would not have done what
Ollie Pilcher did, later, although that effort of Ollie's was a
conspicuous success, after its kind.

It was the fashion, among certain of the boys, to have their hair
clipped when the warm weather came on. Everett Morton had never had it
done, nor had Dick Torrington, nor did Jane Spencer. They were not in
the clipped-hair caste. But Ollie Pilcher was; and it was no surprise
to the other boys when, a week before school closed, Ollie came with
clipped hair showing below his cap. He was just in time, and he went
at once and in haste to the schoolroom, removing his cap as he entered
the door. The bell in Mr. MacDalie's hand rang as he took his seat.

Mr. MacDalie was not looking at Ollie, as it happened, but those
behind Ollie could not help seeing him. A ripple of laughter started;
it grew as more of those present caught sight of him. Mr. MacDalie saw
him. He chuckled wildly and the laughter swelled into a roar. Rising
from the top of Ollie's head of clipped hair was a diminutive braided
lock about three inches long, tied with a bow of narrow red ribbon.
And Ollie did not even smile while Mr. MacDalie was wiping his eyes
before him. His self-control was most admirable.

The laughter finally subsided, for the time being, sufficiently to
permit King Ahasuerus and Queen Esther and Mordecai and Haman to hold
their audience spellbound for five minutes. That same audience had
been held spellbound by that same story throughout the whole of the
year just past and through other years; for Mr. MacDalie, for some
reason known only to himself and which Sally had tried in vain to
guess, had confined his reading so completely to the Book of Esther
that his hearers knew the book pretty nearly by heart.

Although an unnatural solemnity prevailed through the reading, the
laughter would break out afresh at intervals during the morning. Mr.
MacDalie himself resolutely avoided looking in Ollie's direction as
long as he remembered. But he would forget, becoming absorbed in his
teaching, and his eye would light upon Ollie; and forthwith he would
fall to chuckling wildly and to wiping his eyes, and be unable to
continue for some minutes. He said nothing to Ollie, however, although
that youngster expected a severe reprimand, at least. It is not
unlikely that that was the very reason why he did not get it. The next
day the braided lock was gone.

These were mere frivolities, perhaps unworthy of being recorded; and
there may seem to be an undue prominence given to mental comparisons
with Jane. But just at this time there was a good deal of Jane in
everything, and whatever was done by anybody naturally suggested to
Sally a comparison with what Jane would do. Sally was not without her
share of romance, which was, perhaps, more in evidence at this age
than at any other. She was just past sixteen, and she happened to be
devoted, at this period, to her English history. She is to be excused
for her flights of imagination, in which she saw Jane's ancestry
traced back, without a break, to the beginning of the fourteenth
century; and if the two Spencers of that time were not very creditable
ancestors, why, history sometimes distorts things, and if Edward II
had chanced to prevail over his wife and son, its verdict might have
been different. Jane was not responsible for his ancestors anyway.

Everybody was present at the graduation exercises; everybody, that is,
of consequence in Whitby who was not prevented from being present by
illness. I allude more especially to the older generation, to the
generation of parents. All the mothers, not only of the members of the
graduating class, but of any members of any class and even of
prospective members, were there because they liked to be; the fathers
were there because they thought they ought to be. And there were many
besides, of a different generation, who were there for one reason or
another. Mr. Hazen was one of these and Everett Morton was another.

It was easy to account for Mr. Hazen's presence, but not so easy to
account for Everett's, except that he was not doing much of anything
and thought the exercises might prove to be a diversion. Everett spent
his time, for the most part, in the pursuit of diversion. He was
through college. That does not mean that he had graduated, but, as he
said, it meant that he had left it in his sophomore year, upon the
breaking-out of the Spanish War, to volunteer; and after a hollow and
bloodless campaign in Porto Rico, he had returned, well smeared with
glory. Fortunately--or unfortunately, as you look at it--he had
escaped the camps. He did not think it worth while to go back to
college, and between ourselves, the faculty agreed with him
completely. It was the only instance of such agreement in the history
of their connection. Then he had got a place in a broker's office
which he held for a year and a half, but he had found it not to his
liking and he had given it up. Then came a long interval when his only
occupation seemed to be the pursuit of diversion. This was in the
interval. No doubt he managed to capture, occasionally, the elusive
diversion which he pursued so persistently, and no doubt, too, it was
of much the kind that is usual in such cases; but, one would think, he
found the pursuit of it an occupation more strenuous than that of the
broker's office.

Dick could not come, for he was to have a graduation of his own in a
short time; in fact, it was hardly more than a few days. But he sent
Sally a little note, regretting that he could not be present and
wishing her luck; and further and more important, he asked if she and
her mother or Miss Patty or all of them would not come up to Cambridge
for his Class Day.

Sally had got Dick's note just as they were starting. She handed it to
her mother, her gray eyes soft with pleasure--as they had got into the
habit of being, these last few years.

"See, mother, dear," she said, "what Dick has asked. Do you suppose we
can go, mother, or would it be too much for you? I should like to
go."

Mrs. Ladue smiled fondly at her daughter. "Of course you would,
darling. I'll see what Patty says, but I guess you can go. Perhaps, if
Patty doesn't want to, I can get Doctor Beatty to let me. I believe I
should like it myself. Now, don't let the prospect make you forget
your part."

"No danger," replied Sally reassuringly. "Now I must run."

Sally had the valedictory, or whatever it is to which the first
scholar in the class is entitled. I am not versed in such matters, not
having been concerned, at my graduation, with the duties or the
privileges of the first scholar of the class. But Sally had kept her
place at the head of a dwindling class with no difficulty and Mr.
MacDalie expected great things of her. She acquitted herself as well
as was expected, which is saying a good deal; and after the exercises
were over, she went out with Jane Spencer, leaving her mother and
Uncle John and Mr. MacDalie talking together. Patty was talking with
Doctor Beatty, who had come in late.

Patty glanced up at Doctor Beatty with a smile. "Does that remind you
of anything?" she asked gently, nodding in Sally's direction.

It is to be feared that the doctor was not paying attention. "What?"
He brought his chair and his gaze down together. He had been tilting
back in the chair and looking at the ceiling. "What? Sally? Her foot,
perhaps,--but that's all right years ago and it isn't likely that you
meant that. No, Patty, I give it up. What's the answer?"

Miss Patty was disappointed. Perhaps she ought to have got used to
being disappointed by Meriwether Beatty, by this time, but she hadn't.
She sighed a little.

"No, I didn't mean her foot. I meant her wandering off with Eugene
Spencer. He's the handsomest boy in the class. Doesn't it remind you
of--of our own graduation and our wandering away--so?"

The doctor roared. "That was a good many years ago, Patty." It was
unkind of him to remind her of that. "You couldn't expect me to
remember the circumstances. I believe I am losing my memory; from old
age, Patty, old age." That was more unkind still, for Patty was but a
few months younger than he, and he knew it and she knew that he knew
it. "So we wandered away, did we?"

Sally did not hear this conversation, for she was already halfway
downstairs with Jane. Neither of them had spoken.

"Jane," she said suddenly.

A shadow of annoyance crossed his face. "Sally," he mildly protested,
"I wish you wouldn't call me Jane--if you don't mind."

"Why," returned Sally in surprise, "don't you like it? I supposed you
did. Of course I won't call you by a name you don't like. I'm very
sorry. Eugene, then?"

"If you will. It's rather better than Jane, but it's bad enough."

Sally laughed. "You're hard to please. How would it do for me to call
you Hugh--or Earl Spencer. Or, no. I'd have to call you your Grace."
She stopped and made him a curtsy; Jane was not to be outdone and,
although taken somewhat off his guard, he made her a bow with as much
grace as even Piers Gaveston could have put into it.

"Your Highness does me too much honor," he replied solemnly; and they
both laughed from sheer high spirits. "No, Sally, you're wrong," he
added. "The old gentleman was no relative of mine. But I believe I
interrupted you. What were you going to say--right first off, you
know, when I asked you not to call me Jane?"

"I was going to tell you that Dick Torrington has asked me to go up
for his Class Day."

"Dick Torrington!" exclaimed Jane, mystified. "Why, Sally, he's ever
so much older than you."

"Now, Jane, what has--I beg your pardon,--Eugene, but it's hard to
remember. But, Eugene, what has the difference in age to do with it?
It has never seemed to make any difference to Dick. You know that he's
as kind as he can be and probably he just thought that I would enjoy
it."

They had passed through the crowded corridor--crowded because, in one
of the rooms on that floor, there was in preparation what the papers
would call a modest collation--and they were out in the yard. Jane
stopped short and looked at Sally with a puzzled expression.

"I wonder, Sally," he said slowly, "if you know--but you evidently
don't," he added. He seemed relieved at the result of his inspection.
"Of course you'll go, but I can't help wishing you wouldn't."

"Why?" she asked. "I mean to go if I can. Why would you rather I
wouldn't?"

He hesitated for some moments. "I don't know that I can tell you.
Perhaps you'll understand sometime. Hello! What do you suppose they've
got?"

Ollie Pilcher and the Carlings passed rapidly across their line of
vision.

"Furtive sort of manner," continued Jane hurriedly. "I'll bet they're
hiding something. Let's see what it is. What do you say, Sally?"

Sally nodded and they ran, coming upon the three suddenly. The
Carlings started guiltily and seemed about to say something; but
although they had opened their mouths, no speech issued.

"Sing it, you twins. What have you got? Come, pony up. We spotted you.
Or perhaps you want the free-lunch committee to swoop down on you."

If Sally had not been there the result might have been different. No
doubt Jane had made allowance for the moral effect of her presence.
The Carlings, severally, were still her slaves; or they would have
been if she had let them. They grinned sheepishly and Horry drew
something from under his jacket. It was done up in paper, but there
was no mistaking it.

Jane reached forth an authoritative hand. Ollie remonstrated. "I say,
Jane,--"

"Filcher," remarked Jane, "for filcher you are, although you may have
persuaded these poor innocent boys to do the actual filching--Filcher,
you'd better suspend further remarks. Otherwise I shall feel obliged to
divide this pie into quarters instead of fifths. Quarters are much
easier. It is a pie, I feel sure; a squash pie, I do not doubt. Is it
quarters or fifths, Filcher?"

As Jane was in possession of the pie, Ollie thought it the part of
discretion to compromise. A clump of lilacs hid them from the
schoolhouse, and Jane divided the pie, which proved to be filled with
raisins, into five parts with his knife.

"I wish to congratulate you, Horry, upon your excellent care of this
pie in transit." He passed the plate to Horry as he spoke. "No, this
is your piece, Horry. That piece is destined for me. In view of the
unavoidable inequality of the pieces, we will give Filcher the plate."

Sally was chuckling as she ate her piece of pie, which she held in her
hand.

"Th--th--this w--w--weath--ther's t--t--terrible h--h--hard on
p--p--pies," observed Horry thoughtfully, after a long silence.

"It w--w--wouldn't k--k--keep," said Harry, wiping his mouth on the
back of his hand.

"It wouldn't," Jane agreed.

Ollie was scraping the plate. "Can't get any more out of that plate,"
he sighed at last; and he scaled the tin plate into an inaccessible
place between the lilacs and the fence.

They moved away slowly. "I wonder," Jane remarked, reflectively, "who
sent that pie."

Sally chuckled again. "Cousin Patty sent it," she said.



CHAPTER VIII


Sally found that summer very full. To begin with, there was Dick's
Class Day, which was her first great occasion. I do not know what
better to call it and it must have been a great occasion for her, for,
although it did not last very long,--days never do,--the memory of it
has not completely faded even yet; and it was twelve years ago.

As if to make her joy complete, her mother had gone and Miss Patty had
not. Not that Sally had ever the least conscious objection to Miss
Patty's going anywhere, but Patty always acted as a sort of damper
upon too much joy. Poor Patty! She had not the slightest wish to be a
sort of a damper and she did not suspect that she was.

Mrs. Ladue was no damper. She had sat in Dick's particular easy-chair,
very smiling and content, while Dick brought things to eat and to
drink to her and to Sally in the window-seat. And there had been a
puzzled look in Dick's eyes all the time that made Mrs. Ladue laugh
and made Sally blush whenever she saw it. It was as if Dick's eyes had
just been opened; and he found it hard to realize that the blossoming
young creature in his window-seat was the same Sally that he had known
so well. That and other considerations will explain Mrs. Ladue's
laughter well enough, but hardly explain why Sally should have
blushed. I don't know why she did and I doubt if she could have told.

Then--for Dick's Class Day was only to begin with--there were his
further good-natured attentions, which did not mean anything, of
course, Mrs. Ladue told herself, over and over. Of course Dick liked
Sally--who would not? And there was more fun in doing anything for her
than in doing it for anybody else, for Sally enjoyed everything so
much. Dick even took her sailing half a dozen times, although there
was nobody else on his parties younger than his sister Emily. And
there was Jane; but not on Dick's sailing parties.

Jane's attentions to Sally were constant and rather jealous. How could
he help it? Dick was five years older than he, and, at seventeen, five
years is a tremendous advantage and one not to be made up by a
difference in natural gifts, concerning which there could be no doubt
either. Sally had some difficulty in keeping Jane pacified. She may
have made no conscious effort to that end, but she accomplished it,
none the less.

When fall came, Sally went away to Normal School. It was not far from
Whitby, so that she was always within reach, but she had to be away
from home--Uncle John Hazen's was really home now--for the greater
part of two years. Her absence was a great grief to Uncle John,
although nobody suspected it but Sally. It would never have occurred
to Patty that it could make much difference to her father whether
Sally was here or there. Indeed, she did not think of it at all, being
more than ever engrossed in Charlie's career; and Charlie was in need
of a friend, although that friend was not Miss Patty.

Another person who missed Sally's presence, if one could judge from
his behavior, was Jane Spencer. To be sure, it could have made little
difference to him that she was no longer in Whitby, except that
Whitby, although farther from Cambridge than Schoolboro', was easier
to get to. Nevertheless, as soon as Jane could snatch a day from his
arduous academic duties, he went to Schoolboro' and not to Whitby.
That was hardly a month after Sally had gone there, and she was
unaffectedly glad to see him. Therefore, Jane enjoyed his visit
immensely, and he made other visits, which were also to his immense
satisfaction, as often as Sally would let him come. There were four
that year.

In November of her second year, Sally was called home unexpectedly by
an incoherent summons from Patty. She hurried home, filled with fears
and misgivings. What had happened to Charlie? She had no doubt that
Charlie was at the bottom of it, somehow, or it would not have been
Patty who sent the message. Had he had an accident? But Charlie
himself met her at the door, looking sulky and triumphant.

Patty was almost hysterical, and it was a long time before Sally could
make out what was the matter. It seemed that Charlie had been
subjected to the usual mild hazing and, proving a refractory subject,
he had had his hands and feet strapped together and had been left
lying helpless in the yard. That was a final indignity, reserved for
boys who had earned the thorough dislike of their fellows, Sally knew.
She was deeply mortified.

Her lips were compressed in the old way that she had almost forgotten.

"I will settle it, Cousin Patty. It won't take long."

Patty had, perhaps, mistaken the meaning of Sally's expression. At all
events, Sally looked very decided, which Patty was not.

"Oh, will you, Sally? I felt sure that you would be touched by
Charlie's sufferings. He is your brother, you know, and--and all
that," she finished, ineffectively, as she was painfully aware.

"Yes," Sally replied, still with that compression of the lips, "he
is." She had been about to say more, but had thought better of it.

"Well," said Patty, after waiting some time for Sally to say what she
had decided not to, "thank you, Sally. Nobody else could attend to it
so well as you." At which speech Sally smiled rather grimly, if a girl
of seventeen can smile grimly. Her smile was as grim as the
circumstances would allow.

She found Charlie suspiciously near the door.

"Will you go and see old Mac, Sally? Will you?"

"You come into the back parlor with me, Charlie," Sally answered, "and
I'll tell you what I'll do."

When Charlie emerged, half an hour later, he was sulkier than ever,
but he was no longer triumphant. Sally went back to school that same
night. Patty did not summon her again. Sally had a way of settling
things which Miss Patty did not altogether like.

Now it chanced that Jane chose the next day for one of his visits. It
was not a happy chance. The day itself was dull and gloomy and chilly
and Sally had not yet got over the settling of Charlie. Jane, to be
sure, did not know about Charlie, but it would have made no difference
if he had known about him. Sally greeted him with no enthusiasm; it
almost seemed to Jane that she would rather not have seen him.

He looked at her in surprise. "What's the matter, Sally?" he asked.
"Why this--this apathy?" He had been about to call it indifference,
but decided against it.

Jane was not without wisdom, if he did not show much of it on this
particular day. If it had been the case of another and that other had
asked his advice, he would have advised him to drop it all and go home
again. But, in our own cases, we are all more or less fools. Therefore
Jane did not drop it all and go home.

Sally did not smile. "I don't know, Jane," she replied. "There's
nothing in particular the matter." Sally had given up the attempt to
break the Jane habit and Jane had given up objecting.

"Well?" he asked, after waiting vainly for her to propose a walk.
"Shall we go for our usual walk? You know you don't like to stay in,
and neither do I."

"I think," said Sally, "that I don't like anything to-day, so what
does it matter?" Surely Jane should have taken warning and run. "We'll
go out if you like."

Jane looked at her doubtfully, but said nothing, which was probably
the best thing he could have said; and they went out, walking side by
side, in silence, until they came to a little stream which was
dignified by the name of "The River." There was a path along the bank.
That path by the river was much frequented at other seasons, but now
the trees that overhung it were bare and the wind sighed mournfully
through the branches, after its journey across the desolate marsh
beyond. On such a day it was not a place to cheer drooping spirits. It
did not cheer Sally's.

Jane's spirit began to be affected. He looked at Sally anxiously, but
she gave no sign of ever meaning to say another word.

"Sally!" he said.

She glanced at him and tried to smile, but she made no great success
of it.

"Well?"

"Now, what is the matter, Sally? Won't you tell me?"

"There's nothing the matter, Jane. I'm simply not in very good
spirits."

"Sally," said poor Jane softly, "please cheer up and be light-hearted.
This isn't like you at all."

"I can't help it," Sally answered, sighing. "I've tried. It doesn't
happen to me often. I'm not good company, am I?"

"You're always good company for me," Jane said simply. Sally did not
seem to hear. "Try a pleasant expression," he continued, after a
pause, "and see what that does to your spirits."

"Thank you," said she coldly, "for nothing." Then she changed
suddenly. "I beg your pardon again, Eugene. I was getting
ill-tempered. Would you have me put on a pleasant expression when I
don't feel like it?"

He nodded, smiling. "To see the effect upon your spirits."

"As if I were having my photograph taken?" Sally went on, "A sort of
'keep smiling' expression? Think how absurd people would look if they
went about grinning."

"There is a certain difference between grinning and smiling," Jane
replied, "although I can't define it. And you would not look absurd,
Sally, whatever you did."

"Oh, yes, I would," Sally said, more cheerfully than she had spoken
yet, "and so would you. No doubt I am absurd very often; as absurd as
you are now."

Jane sighed heavily. "I've never seen it, Sally, although I should
like to see you absurd in the same way that I am now. I long to. You
couldn't be, I suppose."

There was no answer to this remark. Waiting for one and listening,
Jane heard only the sighing of the wind across the desolate marsh and
in the trees, and the soft noise of the water flowing past. Poor Jane
was very wretched, largely, no doubt, because of the dreary day and
because Sally was wretched. He did not stop to ask why. Then he did
something which was very unwise. Even he, in more sober moments,
acknowledged its unwisdom. But, after all, would it have made any
great difference if the circumstances had been different--Sally being
what she was? I think not. Jane thought not.

Jane leaned a little nearer. "Sally," he said softly, "can't you like
me a little? Can't you--"

Sally looked up in surprise. "Why, Jane," she replied simply--and
truthfully, "I do like you. You know it."

"But, Sally,"--Jane's heart was pounding so that he could not keep the
sound of it out of his voice, and his voice was unsteady enough
without that,--"but, Sally, can't you--can't you care for me? I--I
love you, Sally. I couldn't keep it to myself any longer. I--"

"Oh, _Jane_!" Sally was the picture of dismay; utter and absolute
dismay. She had withdrawn from him a little. And she had forgotten the
state of her spirits. She was startled out of her apathy. "I didn't
know you were going to say that. Why, oh, why did you? What made you?"

"I simply had to. I have been holding it in as long as I could, and I
couldn't see you feeling so, without--well, I had to." Jane spoke more
rapidly now. "And, Sally, I realize the absurdity of asking you now,
when I am not half through college and you are not through school, but
we could wait--couldn't we?--and if you only felt as I do, it would be
easier. I am--I shall have some money and I--"

With an impatient wave of her hand Sally brushed all that aside.

"That is of no consequence," she said,--"of no sort of consequence.
But why did you do it, Jane? Oh, why did you? You have spoiled it all.
I suppose we can't be good friends any more." There were tears in her
eyes.

"I can't see why." Jane regarded her for some while without speaking.
Sally, I suppose, had nothing to say. "Does that mean," he asked at
last, "that you don't care for me in the way that I want?"

"I should think you would know," replied Sally gently.

"And--and you can't?"

Sally shook her head.

"Not ever?"

Sally shook her head again.

Jane stood, for a minute, gazing out over the desolate marsh. Then he
drew a long breath and turned.

"Well," he said, smiling mirthlessly and raising his hat, "shall
I--shall we go back?"

Sally was angry, but I don't know what for. "No," she was decided
about it; much more decided than was at all necessary. "You need not
trouble to go back with me."

"Oh," said Jane. He smiled again and flushed slowly. "Then, if you
will excuse me, I will go to the station."

So Jane was gone--or going--with head held high and a flush on his
face. He did not look back. Sally, as she watched him go, had a
revulsion of feeling and would have called to him. To what end? She
could not change her answer. And the sound died on her lips and she
stamped her foot angrily, and watched him out of sight. Then she fled
to her room and wept. Why, I wonder? Sally did not know. Suddenly she
had lost something out of her life. What? Sally did not know that
either. It was not Jane she wept for. Whatever it was, she knew that
she could never get it back again; never, never.



BOOK III



CHAPTER I


Mrs. Ladue was sitting in her room with a letter in her lap. The
letter was unfinished and it seemed likely that it might not be
finished; not, at any rate, unless Mrs. Ladue brought her wandering
thoughts back to it, although, to be sure, her thoughts may have had
more to do with it than appeared. She was gazing absently out of the
window and in her eyes there was a look both tender and sad; a look
that said plainly that her thoughts were far away and that she was
recalling some things--pleasant things and sad--dwelling upon them
with fond recollection, no doubt. It was a pity that she had not more
things which could be dwelt upon with fond recollection; but it may be
that she was dwelling fondly upon the recollection of what might have
been. There is much comfort to be got out of that kind of recollection
even if it is not very real.

What was before her eyes was the Lot covered with untouched snow
billowed by the high wind and glistening, here and there, where that
same wind had hardened and polished the surface into a fine crust.
There was the same high wall, its cement covering a trifle less
smooth, perhaps, than it had been when Sally first saw it, but giving
a scant foothold even yet. And the wall was capped, as it had been
since it was built, with its projecting wooden roof, more
weather-beaten than ever and with the moulding on the under edges
warped away a trifle more, but still holding. There was snow upon that
old roof in patches, but the wind had swept most of it clean. And over
it all was a dull, leaden sky with more snow in it.

Although all this was before her eyes, she may not have seen any of
it; probably she had not. Judging from her look, it was something
quite different that she saw. It may have been the early years of her
marriage--very early years they must have been and very far away
now--when Professor Ladue was still good to her and she still believed
in him. Or, perhaps, she was passing in review the many kindnesses of
Uncle John Hazen and Patty. For Patty had been kind in her own way;
and what other way could she use? Every one of us has to be kind or
unkind in his own way, after all, in accordance with the natures God
has given us. Perhaps Mrs. Ladue was thinking of Doctor Galen's
care--four years of it--or of Fox's goodness. Fox had not got over
being good to them yet. And she called down blessings on his head and
sighed a tremulous sigh, and looked down at the letter which she had
held in her hand all this time, and she began to read it again,
although she had already read it over twice.

She had not got very far with her reading when the front door opened
and shut. At the sound of it Mrs. Ladue came back, with a start, to
the present. She flushed slightly and made a motion as if to hide the
letter hastily; but she thought better of it instantly, and she held
the letter in her hand, as she had done for some time. But the flush
grew and flooded her face with color. And the wave of color receded,
according to the manner of waves, and left her face unnaturally pale.
There was the sound of steps on the stairs and the door of the room
opened and Sally came in.

A breath of the cold still clung about her. "Well, mother, dear," she
said, stooping for a kiss, "here I am, at last. I thought I never
should get out to-day."

"Some poor infants have to stay after?" asked her mother. "How cold
you are, Sally! Is it as bleak and dreary as it looks?"

"Oh, no. It's nice enough, after you've been out a few minutes. At
least it's fresh, and that's something, after hours of a schoolroom.
And I don't teach infants, if you please, madam."

Mrs. Ladue laughed quietly. "It's all the same to me, Sally," she
replied. "I don't know the difference."

Sally sat down on the bed; which was a very reprehensible old habit
that she had never been able to shake off. Not that she had ever
tried.

"I'm going to get something done about the ventilation," she observed
decidedly; "at least in my room. It's wicked to make children breathe
such air." She glanced at the letter which her mother still held.
"Been writing letters, mother? Who to--if you don't mind my asking?"

"'Who to,' Sally! A fine schoolmarm you are!" said Mrs. Ladue,
smiling, in mock reproach. "I hope that is not the example you set."

Sally laughed lightly. "It was pretty bad, wasn't it? But there are
times when even the schoolmarm must relax. It hasn't got into my blood
yet, and I'm not a universal compendium. But I noticed that you didn't
answer my question. You may have objected to its form. To whom is your
letter written?"

"Well," her mother answered, hesitating a little, "it isn't written
yet. That is, it isn't finished. It is to Fox. Don't you want to add
something, dear? Just a few lines? I have asked him if he doesn't want
to come on--and bring Henrietta, of course. See, there is room at the
end."

Sally took the letter, but she could not have read more than the first
two or three lines when she glanced up, with a little half smile of
surprise and amusement.

"Perhaps I had better not read it, mother, dear," she said gently.
"Did you mean that I should?"

"Oh, yes," Mrs. Ladue answered carelessly, "read it if you like. There
is nothing in my letters to Fox that I want to keep secret from you,
Sally."

There was the same little half smile of amusement on Sally's lips as
she read, and a sort of suppressed twinkle in her eyes. If you wanted
to know what Sally's thoughts were--what kind of thoughts--you would
soon have got into the habit of watching her eyes. They were merry and
grave and appealing and solemn and tender and reproachful and
thoughtful and disapproving, according to the need of the hour,
although they were seldom solemn or sad now. I suppose the need of the
hour did not lie in that direction now; at least, not nearly so often
as it had, ten years before. Sally's eyes were well worth watching
anyway. They were gray and rather solemn, normally, shaded by long,
dark lashes, and gave the impression of darkness and depth; but when
she was stirred to anger, whether righteous or not, they could be as
cold and as hard as steel. But enough of Sally's eyes. Too much, no
doubt.

Mrs. Ladue's reflections, as Sally read, might be supposed to have
been rather disquieting. They were not. Presently she laughed. "The
letter may seem queer," she said, "but you must remember that I have
not seen Fox for four years, and I want to see him. I got very fond of
Fox in my years at Doctor Galen's."

Sally looked up. "Of course you did, mother, dear. Of course you did.
It would be very strange if you had not. I am fond of him, too."

Mrs. Ladue smiled in reply and Sally returned to her reading. She
began again at the beginning, with the "Dear Fox."

"Dear Fox:" she read. She was not reading aloud. "To begin with what
should come last, according to all the rules, in a woman's letter, I
want to see you. It is the sole purpose of this letter to tell you
that, so you need not look for the important matter in a postscript.
It won't be there, for it is here. Do you know that it is nearly four
years since you were here? Is there no matter in connection with my
trifling affairs that will serve as an excuse--or is any excuse
needed? Can't you and Henrietta come on for a long visit? I know the
engagements of a doctor--such a doctor, Fox!--are heavy and that I am
very selfish to ask it. Sally would be as glad as I should be to see
you both here, I am sure. I will ask her to add a few lines to this
when she comes in. She has not got back from school yet.

"Sally seems to be quite happy in her teaching. I remember when she
got her first month's salary--she got a position right away, with Mr.
MacDalie--she came flying into the house and met Uncle John in the
hall--I was halfway down the stairs--and threw her arms around his
neck. The dear old man was startled, as he might well have been. I may
have told you all this before. If I have, don't read it. Well, he was
startled, as I said, but he smiled his lovely, quiet smile.

"'Bless me, Sally!' he said. 'What's happened? What's the matter?'

"'This is the matter,' she cried, waving something about, somewhere
behind his ear. 'I've got my salary. And it's all my own and the first
money I ever earned in my whole life.'

"The dear old man smiled again--or rather he hadn't stopped smiling.
'Bless your heart!' he said. 'What a terribly long time to wait, isn't
it? But it's hardly true that it is the first money you ever earned.
The first you ever were paid, perhaps, but you've been earning it for
years, my dear, for years.'

"Sally kissed him. 'I'm afraid you're partial, Uncle John. But do you
know what I'm going to do with my munificent salary?'

"Uncle John shook his head.

"'I should like to pay it to you, on account,' said Sally. 'Oh, I'm
not going to,' she added hastily, seeing that he looked hurt, 'but I'm
going to pay for all my clothes, after this, and mother's and
Charlie's. I'm afraid it won't do much more, yet awhile, but give us
pocket-money.'

"'Very well, Sally, if that will give you pleasure,' said Uncle John.
'I like to pay for your clothes, my dear, but just as you please.'

"Those are sentiments which a girl does not often hear. Have you,
perhaps, said to somebody--but I won't ask. Sally's salary is enough
to do much more than pay for our clothes now.

"Charlie goes to college this next fall. I think there is little or no
doubt of his getting in. He did very well with his preliminaries last
June. He is very bright, I think, but I sometimes tremble to think of
all that lies before him. Do you realize, Fox, that Sally is almost
twenty-one and that it is ten years--almost ten years--since that
terrible time when--"

The letter broke off here. That last sentence must have started Mrs.
Ladue upon her gazing out of the window.

Sally looked up soberly. "I'll add my request to yours, if you like,"
she remarked; "but it's hardly likely that Fox will come just because
we ask him--in the middle of winter. He must be very busy. But I hope
he'll come. I should dearly like to see him--and Henrietta, of
course--" She interrupted herself.

"Have you spoken to Patty about Fox, mother?" she asked,--"about his
coming here?"

Her mother smiled whimsically. "Not exactly to Patty," she replied. "I
spoke to Uncle John."

"That is the same thing, in effect," said Sally, chuckling. "Much the
same thing, but speaking to Patty might save her self-respect."

"I thought," Mrs. Ladue suggested gently, "that if the idea seemed to
come from Uncle John it would do that. It is a little difficult to
convince Patty and--and I didn't like to seem to press the matter."

Sally bent forward and kissed her. "I beg your pardon," she said. "No
doubt you are right."

She took the pen and wrote a few lines in her firm, clear hand. Then
she tossed the letter into her mother's lap and sat silent, gazing out
of the window, in her turn, at the old, familiar wall and at the snow
beyond.

"Mother," she asked suddenly, "what would you do--what would you like
to do if father should happen to turn up?"

Her mother was startled out of her usual calm. Her hand went up
instinctively to her heart and she flushed and grew pale again and she
looked frightened.

"Why, Sally," she said. She seemed to have trouble with her
breathing. "Why, Sally, he hasn't--you don't mean--"

Apparently she could not go on. "No, no," Sally assured her hastily,
"he hasn't. At least, he hasn't that I know of."

"Oh." It was evidently a great relief to Mrs. Ladue to know that he
hadn't. The tears gathered in her eyes and dropped slowly upon the
open letter in her hand as she spoke. "I--thought--I thought
that--that--perhaps--"

Sally understood. "Oh, mother, dear, I only wanted to know what you
would do--what you would want to do. The thought occurred to me
suddenly. I don't know why."

"I don't know, Sally. I don't know. I suppose we ought to go back to
him. But I don't know."

Sally laughed and her eyes were cold and hard. If Mr. Ladue had heard
that laugh and seen her eyes, I think he would not ask Sally to go
back to him. "Oh," she said lightly--but her voice was as hard as her
eyes--"oh, there is no doubt about what I would do. I would never go
back to him; never at all. You shouldn't, either, mother. So put that
bugaboo out of your mind. I hope he won't ever turn up, not ever."

Mrs. Ladue laughed and her laugh was ready and cheerful enough. "Oh,
Sally," she said, mildly remonstrating, "we ought not to say that. We
ought not even to think it."

"We poor mortals seldom do as we ought, mother, dear," Sally replied
lightly. "You needn't have that fear a single minute longer."



CHAPTER II


Much to Sally's surprise, Fox came on and he brought Henrietta.

"Doctor Sanderson's engagements cannot be very pressing," she said to
him, smiling, as she gave him her hand, "to permit of his coming
several hundred miles merely to see two lone women."

Now Doctor Sanderson's engagements, as it chanced, were rather
pressing; and it was a fair inference from Sally's words that she was
not as glad to see him as he wished and had hoped. But her smile
belied her words.

"Miss Ladue forgets, perhaps," he replied, bowing rather formally,
"that most of our patients are women, lone or otherwise, and that it
is all in the way of business to travel several hundred miles to see
them--and to charge for it. Although there are not many that I would
take that trouble for," he added, under his breath. "So look out,
Sally," he concluded gayly, "and wait until our bill comes in."

That sobered Sally. "Oh, Fox," she said, "we owe you enough already."
Which was not what he had bargained for. Sally was looking at him
thoughtfully and seemed to be calculating. "Perhaps," she began, "I
could manage to--"

"Sally," he interrupted hastily--he seemed even fierce about
it--"Sally, I'd like to shake you."

Sally laughed suddenly. "Why don't you?" she asked. "I've no doubt it
would do me good."

"That's better," Fox went on, with evident satisfaction. "You seem to
be coming to your senses." Sally laughed again. "That's still better.
Now, aren't you glad to see me?"

"Why, of course I am."

"Then, why didn't you say so?" he challenged. "Merely to gratify my
curiosity, tell me why you didn't."

"Why didn't you?" Sally retorted, still chuckling a little.

Fox looked blank. "Didn't I? Is it possible that I omitted to state
such an obvious truth?"

Sally nodded. She was looking past him. "Oh," she cried quickly,
"there's Henrietta."

"Another obvious truth," he murmured, more to himself than to Sally.
"There's Henrietta."

Henrietta came quickly forward; indeed, she was running. And Sally met
her. Sally was quick enough, but she seemed slow in comparison with
Henrietta.

"Sally, dear!" exclaimed Henrietta, kissing her on both cheeks. "How
glad I am to see you! You can't imagine." Which was a statement
without warrant of fact. If there was one thing that Sally could do
better than another, it was to imagine. "Come up with me and show me
my room. I've an ocean of things to say to you. Fox will excuse us, I
know."

"Fox will have to, I suppose," he said, "whether he wants to or not."

"You see," laughed Henrietta, "he knows his place."

"Oh, yes," Fox agreed. "I know my place."

Sally had not seen Henrietta for four or five years. Henrietta was a
lively girl, small and dainty and very pretty. Her very motions were
like those of a butterfly, fluttering with no apparent aim and then
alighting suddenly and with great accuracy upon the very flower whose
sweetness she had meant, all along, to capture; but lightly and for a
moment. The simile is Sally's, not mine, and she thought of it at the
instant of greeting her; in fact, it was while Henrietta was kissing
her, and she could not help wondering whether Henrietta--But there she
stopped, resolutely. Such thoughts were uncharitable.

In spite of Sally's wonderings, she was captivated by Henrietta's
daintiness and beauty. Sally never thought at all about her own
looks, although they deserved more than a thought; for--well, one
might have asked Jane Spencer or Richard Torrington, or even Fox, who
had just seen her for the first time in years. Or Everett Morton might
have been prevailed upon to give an opinion, although Everett's
opinion would have counted for little. He would have appraised her
good points as he would have appraised those of a horse or a dog; he
might even have compared her with his favorite horse, Sawny,--possibly
to the disadvantage of Sawny, although there is more doubt about that
than there should be,--or to his last year's car. But he was driving
Sawny now more than he was driving his car, for there was racing every
afternoon on the Cow Path by the members of the Gentlemen's Driving
Club. No, on the whole, I should not have advised going to Everett.

Sally, I say, not being vain or given to thinking about her own looks,
thought Henrietta was the prettiest thing she had ever seen. So, when
Henrietta issued the command which has been recorded, Sally went
without a word of protest, leaving Fox and her mother standing in the
back parlor beside the table with its ancient stained and cut green
cloth. Fox was not looking at her, but at the doorway through which
Sally had just vanished.

"Well," he said at last, turning to her, "I call that rather a cold
sort of a greeting, after four years."

Mrs. Ladue laughed softly. "What should she have done, you great boy?"
she asked. "Should she have fallen upon your neck and kissed you?"

"Why, yes," Fox replied, "something of the sort. I shouldn't have
minded. I think it might have been rather nice. But I suppose it might
be a hard thing to do."

"Fox," she protested, "you are wrong about Sally. She isn't cold at
all, not at all. She is as glad to see you as I am--almost. And I am
glad."

"That is something to be grateful for, dear lady," he said. "I would
not have you think that I am not grateful--very grateful. It is one of
the blessings showered upon me by a very heedless providence," he
continued, smiling, "unmindful of my deserts."

"Oh, Fox!" she protested. "Your deserts! If you had--"

He interrupted gently. "I know. The earth ought to be laid at my feet.
I know what you think and I am grateful for that, too."

To this there was no reply.

"I think," he resumed reflectively, "that enough of the earth is laid
at my feet, as it is. I shall not be thirty until next fall." He spoke
with a note of triumph, which can easily be forgiven.

"And I," she said, "am forty-three. Look at my gray hairs."

He laughed. "Who would believe it? But what," he asked, "was the
special reason for your wanting to see me now? I take it there was a
special reason?"

She shook her head. "There wasn't any _special_ reason. I meant to
make that plain and I thought I had. I feel as if I ought to apologize
for asking you at all, for you may have felt under some obligation to
come just because you were asked. I hope you didn't, Fox, for--"

Fox smiled quietly. His smile made her think of Uncle John Hazen. "I
didn't," he said.

"I'm glad you didn't. Don't ever feel obliged to do anything for
me--for us." She corrected herself quickly. "We are grateful, too,--at
least, I am--for anything. No, there wasn't any special reason. I just
wanted to see you with my own eyes. Four years is a long time."

Fox, who had almost reached the advanced age of thirty, was plainly
embarrassed.

"Well," he asked, laughing a little, "now that you have seen me, what
do you think?"

"That," she answered, still in her tone of gentle banter, "I shall not
tell you. It would not be good for you." A step was heard in the hall.
"Oh," she added, hastily, in a voice that was scarcely more than a
whisper, "here's Patty. Be nice to her, Fox."

However much--or little--Mrs. Ladue's command had to do with it, Fox
was as nice to Patty as he knew how to be. To be sure, Fox had had
much experience with just Patty's kind in the past four years, and he
had learned just the manner for her. It was involuntary on his part,
to a great extent, and poor Patty beamed and fluttered and was very
gracious. She even suggested something that she had had no expectation
of suggesting when she entered the room.

"Perhaps, Mr. Sanderson," she said, with a slight inclination of her
head, "you would care to accompany us out on the harbor to-morrow
afternoon. It is frozen over, you know, and the ice is very thick.
There is no danger, I assure you. It doesn't happen every winter and
we make the most of it." She laughed a little, lightly. "The men--the
young men--race their horses there every afternoon. They usually race
on the Cow Path--Washington Street, no doubt I should call it, but we
still cling to the old names, among ourselves. These young men have
taken advantage of the unusual condition of the harbor and it is a
very pretty sight; all those horses flying along. We shall not race,
of course."

If Sally had heard her, I doubt whether she would have been able to
suppress her chuckles at the idea of the Hazens' stout horse--the
identical horse that had drawn her on her first arrival--at the idea,
I say, of that plethoric and phlegmatic and somewhat aged animal's
competing with such a horse as Sawny, for example. Mrs. Ladue had some
difficulty in doing no more than smile.

"Why, Patty," she began, in amazement, "were you--but I must not keep
Fox from answering."

Patty had betrayed some uneasiness when Mrs. Ladue began to speak,
which is not to be wondered at. She quieted down.

"I ought to have called you Doctor Sanderson," she observed, "ought I
not? I forgot, for the moment, the celebrity to which you have
attained." Again she inclined her head slightly.

Fox laughed easily. "Call me anything you like," he replied. "As to
going with you to see the races, I accept with much pleasure, if you
can assure me that there is really no danger. I am naturally timid,
you know."

Patty was in some doubt as to how to take this reply of Fox's; not in
much doubt, however. She laughed, too. "Are you, indeed?" she asked.
"It is considered quite safe, I do assure you."

Mrs. Ladue looked very merry, but Patty did not see her.

"We will consider it settled, then," Patty concluded, with evident
satisfaction.

On her way to her room, half an hour later, Mrs. Ladue met Patty on
the stairs.

"Sarah," said Patty graciously, "I find Doctor Sanderson very
agreeable and entertaining; much more so than I had any idea."

Mrs. Ladue was outwardly as calm as usual, but inwardly she felt a
great resentment.

"I am glad, Patty," she replied simply; and she escaped to her room,
where she found Sally and Henrietta.

"Sally," she said abruptly, "what do you think? Patty has asked Fox to
go with us to see the racing to-morrow afternoon. I don't know who the
'us' is. She didn't say."

Sally stared and broke into chuckling. "Oh, _mother_!" she cried.



CHAPTER III


Whitby has a beautiful harbor. It is almost land-locked, the entrance
all but closed by Ship Island, leaving only a narrow passage into the
harbor. That passage is wide enough and deep enough for steam-ships to
enter by; it is wide enough for ships of size to enter, indeed, if
they are sailed well enough and if there were any object in
sailing-ships of size entering Whitby Harbor. Many a ship has
successfully navigated Ship Island Channel under its own sail, but
that was before the days of steam.

Before the days of steam Whitby had its shipping; and in the days of
shipping Whitby had its fleets of ships and barks and brigs and a
schooner or two. Although the industries of Whitby have changed, the
remnants of those fleets are active yet, or there would have been
nothing doing at the office of John Hazen, Junior, or at his wharf.
Patty and some others of the old régime, as she would have liked to
put it, were wont to sigh and to smile somewhat pathetically when that
change was alluded to, and they would either say nothing or they would
say a good deal, according to circumstances. The old industry was more
picturesque than the new, there is no doubt about that, and I am
inclined to the view of Miss Patty and her party. It is a pity.

But some of those old barks and brigs are in commission still. Only a
few years ago, the old bark Hong-Kong, a century old and known the
world over, sailed on her last voyage before she was sold to be broken
up. They were good vessels, those old barks; not fast sailers, but
what did the masters care about that? There was no hurry, and they
could be depended upon to come home when they had filled, for the
weather that would harm them is not made. In the course of their
voyages they pushed their bluff bows into many unknown harbors and
added much to the sum of human knowledge. They could have added much
more, but ship captains are uncommunicative men, seldom volunteering
information, although sometimes giving it freely when it is asked;
never blowing their own horns, differing, in that respect, from
certain explorers. Perhaps they should be called lecturers rather than
explorers. Poor chaps! It may be that if they did not blow them and
make a noise, nobody would do it for them, but they never wait to find
out. Let them blow their penny trumpets. It is safe and sane--very.

Captain Forsyth had pronounced views on this subject. "Explorers!" he
roared to Sally one day. "These explorers! Huh! It's all for Smith,
that's what it is, and if Jones says he has been there, Jones is a
liar. Where? Why, anywhere. That previously unknown harbor Smith has
just discovered and made such a fuss over--I could have told him all
about it forty years ago. Previously unknown nothing! It's Wingate's
Harbor, and when I was in command of the Hong-Kong we poked about
there for months. And there's another, about a hundred miles to the
east'ard that he hasn't discovered yet, and it's a better harbor than
his. Discover! Huh!"

"But why," Sally asked in genuine surprise,--"why, Captain Forsyth,
haven't you told about it? Why don't you, now?"

"Why don't I?" Captain Forsyth roared again. "Nobody's asked me;
that's why. They don't want to know. They'd say I was a liar and call
for proofs. Why should I? Cap'n Wingate found it, as far as I know,
but there might have been a dozen others who were there before him. I
don't know. And Cap'n Sampson and Cap'n Wingate and Cap'n Carling and
Cap'n Pilcher and--oh, all the masters knew them almost as well as
they knew Whitby Harbor. They're mostly dead now. But I'm not. And if
anybody comes discovering Whitby Harbor, why, let him look out." And
the old captain went off, chuckling to himself.

Many a time the old Hong-Kong had entered Whitby Harbor under her own
sail. Later, the tugs met the ships far down the bay and brought them
in, thereby saving some time. Whether they saved them money or not I
do not know, but the owners must have thought they did. At least, they
saved them from the danger of going aground on Ship Island Shoal, for
that passage into the harbor was hardly wide enough for two vessels to
pass in comfort unless the wind was just right.

Once in, it must have been a pretty sight for the returned sailors and
one to warm their hearts--a pretty sight for anybody, indeed; one did
not need to be a returned sailor for that. There, on the left, was the
town, sloping gently down to the water, with its church spires rising
from a sea of green, for every street was lined with elms. And there
were the familiar noises coming faintly over the water: the noise of
many beetles striking upon wood. There were always vessels being
repaired, and the masters of Whitby despised, for daily use, such
things as marine railways or dry-docks. They would haul down a vessel
in her dock until her keel was exposed and absolutely rebuild her on
one side, if necessary; then haul her down on the other tack, so to
speak, and treat that side in the same way. Even in these later years
the glory of Whitby Harbor, although somewhat dimmed, has not
departed. On the right shore there was nothing but farms and pastures
and hay-fields with the men working in them; for there is less water
toward the right shore of the harbor.

There were no hay-fields visible on this day of which I am speaking,
but almost unbroken snow; and there were no noises of beetles to come
faintly to a vessel which had just got in. Indeed, no vessel could
have just got in, but, having got in, must have stayed where she
happened to lie. For Whitby Harbor was more like Wingate's Harbor, of
which Captain Forsyth had been speaking, in connection with
explorers, than it was like Whitby Harbor. It presented a hard and
shining surface, with a bark and three schooners frozen in, caught at
their anchorages, and with no open water at all, not even in the
channel.

If you will take the trouble to recall it, you will remember that the
winter of 1904-05 was very cold; even colder, about Whitby, than the
previous cold winter had been. Toward the end of January, not only was
Whitby Harbor frozen, but there was fairly solid ice for miles out
into the bay. Whitby, not being, in general, prepared for such
winters, was not provided with boats especially designed for breaking
the ice. The two tugs had kept a channel open as long as they could;
but one night the temperature fell to twenty-three below zero and the
morning found them fast bound in their docks. So they decided to give
it up--making a virtue of necessity--and to wait; which was a decision
reached after several hours of silent conference between the tugboat
captains, during which conference they smoked several pipes apiece and
looked out, from the snug pilothouse of the Arethusa, over the
glittering surface. At a quarter to twelve Captain Hannibal let his
chair down upon its four feet and thoughtfully knocked the ashes out
of his pipe.

"I guess we can't do it," he said conclusively. "I'm goin' home to
dinner."

The condition, now, reminded Captain Forsyth of other days. For nearly
two weeks the temperature had not been higher than a degree or two
above zero and the ice in the harbor, except for an occasional
air-hole, was thick enough to banish even those fears which Doctor
Sanderson had mentioned. Any timidity was out of place.

If any fear lingered in the mind of the stout horse as to the
intention of his driver; if he had any lingering fear that he might be
called upon to race, that fear was dispelled when he saw his load. He
knew very well that he would be disqualified at once. There were Patty
and Sally, and Mrs. Ladue, Fox and Henrietta, all crowded into the
two-seated sleigh. Mr. Hazen had said, smiling, that he would come,
later, from his office, on his own feet. Charlie, seeing the crowded
condition, absolutely refused to go. This was a blow to Miss Patty,
who had intended that he should drive, but was obliged to take the
coachman in his place. Sally did not blame him and made up her mind,
as she squirmed into the seat with Patty and the coachman, that she
would join Uncle John as soon as she saw him.

It seemed as if the entire population of Whitby must be on the ice.
The whole surface of the harbor was dotted thickly with people,
skating, sliding, or just wandering aimlessly about, and, on occasion,
making way quickly for an ice-boat. There was not usually ice enough
to make ice-boating a permanent institution in Whitby, and these
ice-boats were hastily put together of rough joists, with the mast and
sail borrowed from some cat-boat; but they sailed well.

The most of the people, however, were gathered in two long lines. The
harbor was black with them. They were massed, half a dozen or more
deep, behind ropes that stretched away in a straight line for more
than a mile; and between the ropes was a lane, fifty feet wide or
more, white and shining, down which the racing horses sped. The racing
was in one direction only, the returning racers taking their places in
the long line of sleighs which carried spectators and went back at a
very sober pace to the starting-point. Here the line of sleighs
divided, those not racing making a wide turn and going down on the
right, next the ropes, leaving the racers a wide path in the middle.

As the Hazens' sleigh approached to take its place in the line, a
great shouting arose at a little distance. The noise swelled and died
away and swelled again, but always it went on, along both sides of the
line, marking the pace. Fox could see the waving hands and hats.

"They seem to be excited," he said, turning, as well as he could, to
Mrs. Ladue, who sat beside him. Henrietta sat on his other side. "Do
you happen to know what it is about?"

Mrs. Ladue was smiling happily. "Some favorite horse, I suppose," she
replied, "but I don't know anything about the horses. You'd better ask
Sally."

So Fox asked Sally; but, before she could answer, Patty answered for
her. "I believe that it is Everett Morton and Sawny racing with Mr.
Gilfeather. I am not sure of the name, of course," she added hastily.
"Some low person."

Sally looked back at Fox with a smile of amusement. It was almost a
chuckle. "Mr. Gilfeather keeps a saloon," she remarked. "I believe it
is rather a nice saloon, as saloons go. I teach his daughter. Cousin
Patty thinks that is awful."

"It _is_ awful," Patty said, with some vehemence, "to think that our
children must be in the same classes with daughters of saloon-keepers.
Mr. Gilfeather may be a very worthy person, of course, but his
children should go elsewhere."

Sally's smile had grown into a chuckle. "Mr. Gilfeather has rather a
nice saloon," she repeated, "as saloons go. I've been there."

Fox laughed, but Miss Patty did not. She turned a horrified face to
Sally.

"Oh, _Sally_!" she cried. "Whatever--"

"I had to see him about his daughter. He was always in his saloon. The
conclusion is obvious, as Mr. MacDalie says."

"Oh, _Sally_!" cried Patty again. "You know you didn't."

"And who," asked Fox, "is Sawny?"

"Sawny," Sally answered, hurrying a little to speak before Patty
should speak for her, "Sawny is a what, not a who. He is Everett
Morton's horse, and a very good horse, I believe."

"He seems to be in favor with the multitude." The shouting and yelling
had broken out afresh, far down the lines. "Or is it his owner?"

Sally shook her head. "It is Sawny," she replied. "I don't know how
the multitude regards Everett. Probably Mr. Gilfeather knows more
about that than I do."

They had taken their place in the line of sleighs and were ambling
along close to the rope. The sleighs in the line were so close that
the stout horse had his nose almost in the neck of a nervous man just
ahead, who kept looking back, while Fox could feel the breath of the
horse behind.

He looked at Mrs. Ladue. "Does it trouble you that this horse is so
near?" he asked. "Do you mind?"

"Nothing troubles me," she said, smiling up at him. "I don't mind
anything. I am having a lovely time."

And Fox returned to his observation of the multitude, collectively and
individually. They interested him more than the horses, which could
not truthfully be said of Henrietta. Almost every person there looked
happy and bent upon having a good time, although almost everybody was
cold, which was not surprising, and there was much stamping of feet
and thrashing of arms, and the ice boomed and cracked merrily, once in
a while, and the noise echoed over the harbor. Suddenly Fox leaned out
of the sleigh and said something to a man, who looked surprised and
began rubbing his ears gently. Then he called his thanks.

"That man's ears were getting frost-bitten," Fox remarked in reply to
a questioning glance from Mrs. Ladue. "Now here we are at the end of
the line and I haven't seen a single race. I say, Sally, can't we get
where we can see that Sawny horse race? I should like to see him and
Mr. Gilfeather."

"He's a sight. So is Mr. Gilfeather." And Sally laughed suddenly. "If
we should hang around here until we hear the noise coming and then get
in the line again, we should be somewhere near halfway down when he
comes down again. Can we, Cousin Patty?"

Patty inclined her head graciously. "Why, certainly, Sally. Anything
Doctor Sanderson likes."

"Doctor Sanderson is greatly obliged," said Fox.

The nervous man appeared much relieved to find that they were to hang
around and that he was not condemned to having the nose of their horse
in his neck all the afternoon. They drove off to join a group of
sleighs that were hanging around for a like purpose.

A light cutter, drawn by a spirited young horse, drew up beside them.

"Good afternoon," said a pleasant voice. "Won't some one of you come
with me? You should have mercy on your horse, you know."

"Oh, Dick!" Sally cried. There was mischief in her eyes. "It is good
of you. Will you take Edward?"

Even Edward, the stolid coachman, grinned at that.

"With pleasure," said Dick, not at all disconcerted, "if Miss Patty
can spare him."

"Oh," cried Miss Patty, "not Edward."

"Well," continued Sally, "Miss Sanderson, then."

"With pleasure," said Dick again. There was no need to ask Henrietta.
The introductions were gone hastily through, and Henrietta changed
with some alacrity.

"You are not racing, Dick?" Sally asked, as he tucked the robe around
Henrietta.

"Oh, no," Dick replied solemnly, looking up. "How can you ask, Sally?
You know that I should not dare to, with this horse. He is too young."

"Gammon!" Sally exclaimed. "I shall keep my eye on you, Dick."

"That's a good place for it," Dick remarked. "Good-bye."

Henrietta was laughing. "Will you race, Mr. Torrington?" she asked.

"Oh, no," Dick repeated, as solemnly as before. "I have no such
intention. Of course, this horse is young and full of spirits and I
may not be able to control him. But my intentions are irreproachable."

Henrietta laughed again. "Oh, I hope so," she said, somewhat
ambiguously.

Another cutter, the occupant of which had been waiting impatiently
until Dick should go, drew up beside the Hazens'. The aforesaid
occupant had eyes for but one person.

"Won't you come with me, Sally?" He did not mean that the wrong one
should be foisted upon him.

Sally smiled gently and shook her head. There were so many things she
had to deny him! "Thank you, Eugene. I shall join Uncle John as soon
as he comes down--as soon as I see him."

"Well, see him from my sleigh, then. The view is as good as from
yours. Isn't it a little crowded?"

Sally shook her head again.

"Won't you come?" he persisted.

Sally sighed. "No, I thank you, Eugene. I will stay until I see Uncle
John."

Bowing, Eugene Spencer drove off, leaving Sally rather sober and
silent. Fox watched her and wondered, and Mrs. Ladue, in her turn,
watched Fox. She could do that without being observed, now that
Henrietta was gone. But the noise that told of that Sawny horse was
coming, and they got into line.



CHAPTER IV


Whatever the things in which Everett Morton had failed, driving was
not one of them. There was some excuse for his not succeeding in any
of the things he had tried: he did not have to. Take away the
necessity and how many of us would make a success of our business or
our profession? For that matter, how many of us are there who can
honestly say that we have made a success of the profession which we
have happened to choose? I say "happened to choose," because it is
largely a matter of luck whether we have happened to choose what we
would really rather do. Any man is peculiarly fortunate if he has
known enough and has been able to choose the thing that he would
rather do than anything else, and such a man should have a very happy
life. He should be very grateful to his parents. I envy him. Most of
us are the slaves of circumstances and let them decide for us; and
then, perhaps too late, discover that which we had rather--oh, so much
rather--do than follow on in the occupation which fate has forced us
into. We have to labor in our "leisure" time in the work which we
should have chosen, but did not; as if the demands of to-day--if we
would succeed--left us any leisure time!

It is not to be supposed that Everett had such thoughts as these. He
was concerned only with Sawny, at the moment, and with Mr. Gilfeather.
He may have had the fleeting thought that he made rather a fine
figure, in his coat and cap of sables and with his bored, handsome
face. Indeed, he did. A good many people thought so. Even Sally may
have thought so; but Sally did not say what she thought. As Everett
made the turn at the head of the course, he looked around for Mr.
Gilfeather, and presently he found him. Mr. Gilfeather was a
hard-featured man, with a red face and a great weight of body, which
was somewhat of a handicap to his horse. But if the horse expressed no
objection to that and if Mr. Gilfeather did not, why, Everett was the
last person in the world to raise the question.

"Try it again?" Mr. Gilfeather called, smiling genially.

Everett nodded. He did manage a bored half-smile, but it could not be
called genial, by any stretch of the word.

They manoeuvred their horses until they were abreast, and jogged down
the course. They wanted it clear, as far as they could get it; and Mr.
Gilfeather's horse fretted at the bit and at the tight hold upon him.
Sawny did not. He knew what he had to do. And presently the course
opened out clear for a good distance ahead.

"What do you say, Everett?" asked Mr. Gilfeather. A good many people
heard it and noted that Gilfeather called Morton Everett. "Shall we
let 'em go?"

Everett nodded again, and Mr. Gilfeather took off one wrap of the
reins. The nervous horse sprang ahead, but Sawny did not. He knew what
was expected of him. Everett had not been keeping a tight hold on him;
not tight enough to worry him, although, to be sure, it was not easy
to worry Sawny. So, when Everett tightened a little upon his bit,
Sawny responded by increasing his stride just enough to keep his nose
even with Mr. Gilfeather. He could look over Mr. Gilfeather's shoulder
and see what he was doing with the reins. Perhaps he did. Sawny was a
knowing horse and he almost raced himself.

Mr. Gilfeather's horse had drawn ahead with that first burst of speed,
and now, seeing that Everett was apparently content, for the time,
with his place, Mr. Gilfeather tried to check him, for he knew
Everett's methods--or shall I say Sawny's?--and there was three
quarters of a mile to go. But Sawny's nose just over his shoulder made
him nervous; and the rhythmical sound of Sawny's sharp shoes cutting
into the ice--always just at his ear, it seemed--made him almost as
nervous as his horse, although Mr. Gilfeather did not look like a
nervous man. So he let his horse go a little faster than he should
have done, which was what the horse wanted; anything to get away from
that crash--crash of hoofs behind him.

But always Sawny held his position, lengthening his stride as much as
the occasion called for. He could lengthen it much more, if there were
need, as he knew very well; as he knew there soon would be. Mr.
Gilfeather's horse--and Mr. Gilfeather himself--got more nervous every
second. The horse, we may presume, was in despair. Every effort that
he had made to shake Sawny off had failed. He hung about Mr.
Gilfeather's shoulder with the persistence of a green-head.

In these positions, the horses passed down between the yelling crowds.
Mr. Gilfeather may have heard the yelling, but Everett did not. It
fell upon his ears unheeded, like the sound of the sea or of the wind
in the trees. He was intent upon but one thing now, and that thing was
not the noise of the multitude.

When there was but a quarter of a mile to go, Sawny felt a little more
pressure upon the bit and heard Everett's voice speaking low.

"Now, stretch yourself, Sawny," said that voice cheerfully.

And Sawny stretched himself to his full splendid stride and the sound
of that crash of hoofs came a little faster. It passed Mr.
Gilfeather's shoulder and he had a sight of red nostrils spread wide;
then of Sawny's clean-cut head and intelligent eye. Did that eye wink
at him? Then came the lean neck and then the shoulder: a skin like
satin, with the muscles working under it with the regularity of a
machine; then the body--but Mr. Gilfeather had no time for further
observation out of the corner of his eye. His horse had heard, too,
and knew what was happening; and when Mr. Gilfeather urged him on to
greater speed, he tried to go faster and he broke.

That was the end of it. He broke, he went into the air, he danced up
and down; and Sawny, who never was guilty of that crime, went by him
like a streak.

Everett smiled as he passed Mr. Gilfeather, and his smile was a little
less bored than usual. "If I had known that this was to be a
running-race," he said; but Mr. Gilfeather lost the rest of Everett's
remark, for Sawny had carried him out of hearing.

It chanced that they had passed the Hazens' sleigh just before Mr.
Gilfeather's horse broke. Sally watched the horses as they passed,
with Sawny gaining at every stride. Her face glowed and she turned to
Fox.

"There!" she said. "Now you've seen him. Isn't he splendid?"

"Who? Mr. Morton?" Fox asked innocently. "He does look rather
splendid. That must be a very expensive coat and the--"

Sally smiled. "It was Sawny that I meant."

"Oh," said Fox.

"Everett might be included, no doubt," she continued.

"No doubt," Fox agreed.

"He is part of it, although there is a popular opinion that Sawny
could do it all by himself, if he had to."

"Having been well trained," Fox suggested.

Sally nodded. "Having been well trained. And Everett trained him, I
believe."

Fox was more thoughtful than the occasion seemed to call for. "It
speaks well for his ability as a trainer of horses."

"It does." Sally seemed thoughtful, too.

"And what else does Mr. Morton do," asked Fox, "but train his horse?"

"Not much, I believe," Sally replied. "At other seasons he drives his
car; when the roads are good."

"A noble occupation for a man," Fox observed, cheerfully and
pleasantly; "driver and chauffeur. Not that those occupations are not
quite respectable, but it hardly seems enough for a man of Mr.
Morton's abilities, to say the least."

Sally looked up with a quick smile. "I am no apologist for Everett,"
she said. "I am not defending him, you observe. I know nothing of his
abilities."

"What do you know, Sally," Fox inquired then, "of popular opinion?"

"More than you think, Fox," Sally answered mischievously, "for I have
mixed with the people. I have been to Mr. Gilfeather's saloon."

"Oh, _Sally_!" cried Patty, "I _wish_ you wouldn't keep alluding to
your visit to that horrible place. I am sure that it was unnecessary."

"Very well, Cousin Patty, I won't mention it if it pains you." She
turned to Fox again. "I was going to say that it is a great pity."

Fox was somewhat mystified. "I have no doubt that it is, if you say
so. I might fall in with your ideas more enthusiastically if I knew
what you were talking about."

"I am talking about Everett," Sally replied, chuckling. "I don't
wonder that you didn't know. And I was prepared to make a rather
pathetic speech, Fox. You have dulled the point of it, so that I shall
not make it, now."

"To the effect, perhaps, if I may venture to guess," Fox suggested,
"that Everett might have made more of a success of some other things
if he had felt the same interest in them that he feels in racing his
horse."

"If he could attack them with as strong a purpose," Sally agreed,
absently, with no great interest herself, apparently, "he would
succeed, I think. I know that Dick thinks he has ability enough."

Fox made no reply and Sally did not pursue the subject further. They
drove to the end of the course in silence. Suddenly Sally began to
wave her muff violently.

"Oh, there is Uncle John," she said. "If you will excuse me, I will
get out, Cousin Patty. You needn't stop, Edward. Just go slow. I
find," she added, turning again to the back seat, "that it is the
popular opinion that it is too cold for me to drive longer in comfort,
so I am going to leave you, if you don't mind."

"And what if we do mind?" asked Fox; to which question Sally made no
reply. She only smiled at him in a way which he found peculiarly
exasperating.

"Take good care of father, Sally," said Patty anxiously.

"I will," Sally replied with a cheerful little nod. "Good-bye." And
she stepped out easily, leaving Patty, Fox, and her mother. This was
an arrangement little to Patty's liking. Doctor Sanderson was in the
seat with Mrs. Ladue. To be sure, he might have changed with Patty
when Sally got out, but Mrs. Ladue would not have him inconvenienced
to that extent. She noted that his eyes followed Sally as she ran and
slid and ran again. Mr. Hazen came forward to meet her and she slipped
her hand within his arm, and she turned to wave her muff to them. Then
Sally and Uncle John walked slowly back, toward the head of the
course.

Fox turned to Mrs. Ladue and they smiled at each other. "I guess," Fox
remarked, "that she is not changed, after all; except," he added as an
afterthought, "that she is more generally cheerful than she used to
be, which is a change to be thankful for."

Sally and Uncle John took Dick Torrington home to dinner; and
Henrietta very nearly monopolized his attention, as might have been
expected. It was late, as the habits of the Hazens went, when they
went up to bed, but Henrietta would have Sally come in for a few
minutes. She had _so_ many things to say. No, they wouldn't wait. She
would have forgotten them by the next day. And Sally laughed and went
with Henrietta.

Henrietta's few minutes had lengthened to half an hour and she had not
said half the things she had meant to say. She had told Sally how Mr.
Spencer--Eugene Spencer, you know--had overtaken them at the head of
the course and had accosted Mr. Torrington, challenging him to race.

"Mr. Spencer," continued Henrietta, with a demure glance at Sally,
"seemed out of sorts and distinctly cross. I'm sure I don't know why.
Do you, Sally?"

Sally looked annoyed. "He is very apt to be, I think," she remarked
briefly. "What did Dick do? He said he was not going to race."

"Yes, that's what he told Mr. Spencer, and Mr. Spencer said, in a
disagreeable kind of way, 'You promised Sally, I suppose.' And
Dick--Mr. Torrington--smiled and his eyes wrinkled. I think he was
laughing at Mr. Spencer--at the pet he was in. Don't you, Sally?"

Sally nodded. She thought it very likely.

"And Dick--I must ask Mr. Torrington's pardon, but I hear him spoken
of as Dick so often that I forget--Mr. Torrington told him, in his
slow, quiet way, that he hadn't exactly promised you; that, in fact,
he had warned you that his horse was spirited and somewhat fractious
and he might not be able to hold him. He had warned somebody, anyway,
and he thought it was you. It wasn't you, at all, Sally. It was I, but
I didn't enlighten him."

"I knew, very well, that he would," Sally observed. "So he raced with
Jane?"

"With Mr. Spencer," Henrietta corrected. "Do you call him Jane? How
funny! And we beat him and he went off in a shocking temper, for Dick
laughed at him, but very gently."

"I'm not sure that would not be all the harder for Jane. I suppose you
were glad to beat him."

"Why, of course," said Henrietta, in surprise. "Wouldn't you have
been?"

Sally was rather sober and serious. "I suppose so. It wouldn't have
made any particular difference whether you beat him or not."

Henrietta made no reply to this remark. She was sitting on the bed,
pretty and dainty, and was tapping her foot lightly on the floor. She
gazed at Sally thoughtfully for a long time. Finally Sally got up to
go.

"Sally," Henrietta asked then, smiling, "haven't you ever thought of
him--them--any one"--she hesitated and stammered a little--"in that
way?" She did not seem to think it necessary to specify more
particularly the way she meant. "There are lots of attractive men
here. There's Everett Morton and there's Eugene Spencer, though he's
almost too near your own age; but anybody can see that he's perfectly
dippy over you. And--"

"And there, too," Sally interrupted, "are the Carlings, Harry and
Horry, neither of whom you have seen because they happen to be in
college. The last time they came home, Harry was wearing a mustache
and Horry side-whiskers, so that it would be easy to tell them apart.
The only trouble with that device was that I forgot which was which.
And there is Ollie Pilcher, and there is--oh, the place is perfectly
boiling with men--if it is men that you are looking for."

Henrietta gave a little ripple of laughter. "You are too funny, Sally.
Of course I am looking for men--or for a man. Girls of our age are
always looking for them, whether we know it or not--deep down in our
hearts. Remember Margaret Savage? Well, she seems to be looking for
Fox, and I shouldn't wonder if he succumbed, in time. She is very
pretty."

There was a look of resentment in Sally's eyes, but she made no
remark.

"And I have not finished my list," Henrietta went on. "I can only
include the men I have seen to-day. To end the list, there is Dick
Torrington. Haven't you--haven't you thought--"

Sally flushed slowly; but she smiled and shook her head. "You see,
Henrietta," she said apologetically, "I have my teaching to think
of--"

"Oh, bosh!" cried Henrietta, smiling.

"Fox knows," Sally continued, defensively, "and you can't have wholly
forgotten, Henrietta."

"Bosh, Sally!" said Henrietta again.



CHAPTER V


IT was but a few steps from Henrietta's door to Sally's own. Sally,
her ideas a little confused by that exclamation of Henrietta's and by
what it implied, walked those few steps softly and had her hand upon
the knob of her own door when she found herself sniffing and realized
that she smelt smoke. It was a very faint smell and she hesitated,
even then, and stood there in the dark hall, recalling the fires that
had been left. There had been no wood fire.

She took her hand softly from the knob. "I believe I'll just look
around," she told herself. "It's a terrible night for a fire. I hope
nobody'll take me for a burglar."

She went downstairs quickly, taking no pains to be quiet. If she were
not quiet, she thought, with an involuntary chuckle, Uncle John would
not be likely to think she was the sort of person that had no business
to be in the house at all. She looked into the back parlor. All was
right there. Then she opened the door leading into the back hall. The
smell of smoke was stronger. She glanced into the kitchen. The top of
the range was red-hot, to be sure, but that was not unusual enough to
excite surprise, and the great old chimney, with its brick oven and
broad brick breast and the wide brick hearth reaching out well beyond
the range were enough assurance. The smoke must come from the cellar.

The cellar door was in the back hall, just at Sally's hand as she
stood. She opened it; and was almost stifled by the smoke that poured
out. She gasped and shut the door again quickly, and ran and opened a
kitchen window, fumbling a little at the fastening, and drew two or
three long breaths of the crisp night air, thinking how cold it was.
Then she opened the cellar door again, held her breath, and went down.

It was a little better when she got down, although the smoke was
thick up by the floor beams. Sally glanced in the direction of the
furnace; and she saw, through the smoke, a dull red glow, with little
licks of flame running up from it, now and then. The man had forgotten
the furnace and had left it drawing. That pipe was perilously near the
beams.

"The idiot!" Sally exclaimed. And she held her breath again while she
ran up the cellar stairs.

She was angry with herself because her hands trembled as she lighted
the gas in the kitchen and found the lantern and lighted it. The
slight trembling of her hands did not matter so much in filling a
pitcher with water and by the time the pitcher was full her hands were
steady enough. She ran down cellar again, the lantern in one hand and
the pitcher in the other; and she shut the drafts in the furnace as
far as she could. She heard the flame roaring in the pipe and the
damper was red-hot.

"Oh, dear!" she said, under her breath. "If there was only something
to take hold of it with! And the beams are all afire. Well,--"

She threw the water from her pitcher upon the beams in little dashes.

"Oh, dear!" she said again. "I can't do it."

A quiet voice spoke behind her. "Better give it up, Sally, and rouse
the people."

Sally was too intent upon her purpose to be startled. "Oh, Uncle
John!" she cried. "You are a very present help in trouble. We could
put it out if this was all, but I'm afraid it has already got up
between the walls."

"Come up, then," Uncle John spoke calmly and without haste. "Never
mind the lantern. I will rouse Patty and Doctor Sanderson and you get
at Henrietta and your mother and the servants. Don't send Patty to the
servants," he added, with a smile. "I will send in the alarm."

Mr. Hazen had forgotten Charlie. Sally ran upstairs. There was still a
light showing under Henrietta's door and Sally went in.

"You'd better not undress, Henrietta," she said. "There is a fire and
we may have to get out. You may have time to do a good deal, if you
hurry--even to pack your trunk. You'd better put on your furs. It's
terribly cold."

Henrietta was not flurried. "I'll be ready in a jiffy, Sally. Run
along now."

Sally ran and woke her mother, telling her to get dressed quickly
while she went for the servants. On her way up, she knocked at
Charlie's door. She came downstairs presently, settled the servants in
the hall, and went up to her room to help her mother.

Then the firemen came with a tremendous clanging of bells and
shrieking of whistles, reveling in noise. Sally laughed when she heard
them, and her mother laughed with her, rather nervously. The rest of
it was a sort of nightmare to Sally and she had no very distinct
recollection of any part of it. There was great confusion, and firemen
in the most unexpected places, and hose through the halls and on the
stairs. Fox and Henrietta had packed their trunks and Patty had two
pillows and a wire hair-brush, which she insisted upon carrying about
with her.

Then they were ordered out, and Sally found herself out in the night
and the cold amid the confusion of firemen and engines and horses and
ice. For both Appletree and Box Elder streets seemed full of hose,
which leaked at every pore and sent little streams of water on high,
to freeze as soon as they fell and form miniature cascades of ice on
which an old man--a young man, for that matter--might more easily slip
and fall than not. It was very dark out there, the darkness only made
more dense by the light from the lanterns of the firemen and the
sparks from an engine that was roaring near. They were throwing water
on the outside of the house--two streams; and Sally wondered why in
the world they did it. There was no fire visible. Perhaps Fox would
know. And she looked around.

Their faces could just be made out, in the gloom; her mother and
Charlie, Charlie with the bored look that he seemed to like to assume,
copied after Everett; and Patty, still with her two pillows and her
wire hair-brush, looking frightened, as she was; and Henrietta and Fox
and the huddled group of the servants. She could not see Uncle John.
There were not many spectators, which is not a matter for surprise.
There is little interest in trying to watch a fire which one cannot
see, late on a night which is cold enough to freeze one's ears or
fingers, and the curbstone is but cold comfort.

Fox and Henrietta were talking together in low tones. "Fox," asked
Sally, "do you know why they are throwing water on the outside of the
house. For the life of me, I can't make out."

"For their own delectation, I suppose," he answered soberly. "It is a
fireman's business--or part of it--to throw water on a building as
well as all over the inside, when there is any excuse. Besides, the
water, as it runs off the roof and all the little outs, forms very
beautiful icicles which, no doubt, delight the fireman's professional
eye. Think how pretty it will look to-morrow morning with the early
sun upon it."

Sally chuckled. "I see them dimly," she returned, "but very dimly.
They ought to have a search-light on them."

"I believe there is one," he observed. "They will have it going
presently."

"Oh," Sally exclaimed; and she chuckled again.

Thereupon, as if it had been a signal, a brilliant white light shone
forth. It happened to be pointed exactly upon the little group, but
shifted immediately so that it illuminated the roof. There were great
rippling cascades of ice down the slope of it and icicles forming at
each edge and the water streaming off them.

Sally was silent for a few moments. "It is certainly very pretty," she
said then, "and should delight the fireman's professional eye. I
suppose that I might enjoy it more if it were not our house."

The moment's illumination had served to point them out to somebody.
Mrs. Ladue touched Sally on the arm.

"Sally, dear," she said, "I think that we may as well go now. Mrs.
Torrington has asked us all to stay there. Won't you and Henrietta
come?"

"She is very kind," Sally replied. "I had not thought about going
anywhere, yet. I am warm, perfectly warm. I have my furs, you see. I
think I will wait until I see Uncle John, mother, and we can go
somewhere together. I don't like to leave him. But probably Fox and
Henrietta will go." She looked around. "But where is Patty?"

"Gone to Mrs. Upjohn's a few minutes ago. Poor Patty! I am very glad
to have her go."

Henrietta had gathered the drift of the talk, although she had not
heard any names. She turned. "I could stay here with you, Sally, or I
could go if it would be more convenient. I am warm enough. Who has
asked us?"

Mrs. Ladue answered for Sally. "Mrs. Torrington sent Dick to find us,"
she said. "Here he is."

Henrietta's decision changed instantly. "Oh," she cried, "Mr.
Torrington! It is very kind, and I accept gratefully. When shall we
start, Mrs. Ladue?"

Sally barely repressed a chuckle. "I'll stay, thank you, Dick; for
Uncle John, you know."

"Good girl, Sally. I hope I'll fare as well when I'm old. Come
whenever you get ready. Somebody will be up and I think we have room
for everybody. Will Doctor Sanderson come now?" Dick added.

Doctor Sanderson thanked him, but elected to stay with Sally, and
Sally urged Dick not to expect them and on no account to stay up for
them.

Dick and Henrietta and Mrs. Ladue had scarcely gone when the roaring
engine choked, gave a few spasmodic snorts and its roaring stopped.

"What's the matter with it?" Sally asked. "Why has it stopped?"

"Colic," Fox replied briefly.

Sally chuckled again and took his arm. He made no objection. The
engine seemed to be struggling heroically to resume its roaring and
there was much running of firemen and shouting unintelligible orders,
to which nobody paid any attention. In the midst of the confusion, Mr.
Hazen appeared. He was evidently very tired and he shivered as he
spoke to Sally.

"I have done all I could," he said. "That wasn't much. Where are the
others, Sally?"

Sally told him. "You must be very tired, Uncle John," she went on,
anxiously. "And you are wet through and colder than a clam. Your teeth
are positively chattering."

He looked down at himself and felt of his clothes. The edge of his
overcoat and the bottoms of his trousers were frozen stiff. "I guess I
am tired," he replied, trying to call up a smile, "and I am a little
cold. I've been so occupied that I hadn't noticed. And I slipped on
one of their piles of ice. It didn't do any harm," he added hastily.
"I think I'll go over to Stephen's--Captain Forsyth's. He won't mind
being routed out. What will you do, Sally? Why don't you and Fox come,
too?"

Sally hesitated. There was no object in their staying any longer, but
she did not like to impose upon Captain Forsyth. If she had only known
it, Captain Forsyth would have liked nothing better than to be imposed
upon by Sally in any way that she happened to choose.

While she was hesitating she heard a voice behind her. "Mr. Hazen,"
said the voice, rather coldly and formally, "won't you and Sally--Miss
Ladue--and--any others--"

Sally had turned and now saw that it was Everett. She knew that well
enough as soon as he had begun to speak. And she saw, too, that he was
looking at Fox. She hastened to introduce them. It was necessary, in
Everett's case. They both bowed.

"My mother sent me," Everett resumed, in the same formal tone, "to
find any of the family that I could and to say that we hope--my father
and my mother and myself--we hope that they will come to-night and
stay as long as they find it convenient." He seemed to have no great
liking for his errand. "It is very awkward," he added, with his bored
smile, "to be burned out of your house at night and on such a very
cold night, too."

"Oh, but think," said Sally, "how much worse it might be. It might
have been at three o'clock in the morning, when everybody would have
been sleeping soundly."

"That is very true," he returned. "I suppose you are thankful it was
not at three o'clock in the morning." He looked at them all in turn
questioningly. "Will you come? We should be very glad if you would."

Again Sally hesitated. Uncle John saved her the trouble of answering.

"I had just expressed my intention of going to Stephen Forsyth's,
Everett," he said, "and I think I will. Stephen and I are old cronies,
you know. We are very much obliged to you and I have no doubt that
Sally and Dr. Sanderson will go, with pleasure. They must have had
about enough of this."

Everett bowed. Sally could hear Uncle John's teeth chattering and his
voice had been very shaky as he finished.

"Let Fox prescribe for you, Uncle John," she said. "I'm worried about
you. What's the use of having a doctor in the family if he doesn't
prescribe when there is need?" And then Sally was thankful that it was
dark.

Uncle John smiled his assent and Fox prescribed. "I have no doubt that
Captain Forsyth will have certain remedies at hand," he concluded,
"and I should think there would be no harm in your taking them, in
moderation."

Uncle John laughed. "He will press them upon me," he said. "I will
observe Doctor Sanderson's prescription. Now, good-night. No, Sally,
Stephen's is just around the corner, you know."

He disappeared into the darkness and Sally, with much inward
misgiving, prepared to follow Everett. She was really worried about
Uncle John. He was an old man, just upon eighty, and he had gone
through a great deal that night and was chilled through, she was
afraid, and--

She stopped short. "Oh, Fox," she cried. "The servants! I had
forgotten them. What in the world shall we do with them?"

Everett had stopped, too, and heard Sally's question. "That is not
difficult," he said. "Send them to our house. It is a large house and
there is room for them in the servants' wing. Perhaps I can find
them."

Everett was back in a moment. "That was easy," he remarked. "You need
give yourself no concern."

They walked in silence up the long driveway, between the rows of
shadowing spruces, and up the broad granite steps. Everett had his key
in the latch and threw open the door.

"My mother did not come down, apparently. You will see her in the
morning."

As she took off her furs in the hall, Sally was very grateful for the
warmth and the cheerfulness and the spaciousness of the great house.
Everett slipped off his coat of sables and led the way up the stairs.

"Your room, Sally--I shall call you Sally?" He looked at her, but not
as if in doubt.

"Why, of course," said Sally in surprise.

"Your room, Sally," he resumed, "is down that hall, just opposite my
mother's. The door is open and there is a light. Doctor Sanderson's is
this way, near mine. I will show him. Good-night, Sally."

"Good-night," she answered; "and good-night, Fox."

They turned and she went down the hall, her feet making no sound in
the soft carpet. The door which Everett had pointed out as his
mother's stood ajar, and, as Sally passed, it opened wider and Mrs.
Morton stepped out.

"You are very welcome, Sally, dear," she said, kissing her; "as
welcome as could be. I will see Doctor Sanderson in the morning. Come
down whenever you feel like it. It has been a trying night for you."

Sally's eyes were full of tears as she softly closed her own door.



CHAPTER VI


There were times when, in spite of disease, death, or disaster, Mrs.
John Upjohn had to have clothes; more clothes, no doubt I should say,
or other clothes. At any rate, when such occasions were imminent, Mrs.
Upjohn was wont to summon the dressmaker to come to her house, and the
dressmaker would come promptly and would camp in the house until the
siege was over, going home only to sleep. One would think that Mrs.
Upjohn might have offered Letty Lambkin a bed to sleep in, for Letty
had been a schoolmate of hers before misfortune overtook her; and Mrs.
Upjohn had beds to spare and Letty always arrived before breakfast and
stayed until after supper. Perhaps such an offer would have offended a
sensitive spirit. That is only a guess, of course, for I have no means
of knowing what Mrs. Upjohn's ideas were upon that subject. At all
events, she never gave Letty a chance of being offended at any such
offer.

An occasion such as I have mentioned arose on the day of the Hazens'
fire, and Mrs. Upjohn had accordingly sent John Junior around to
Letty's house with the customary message. Which message John Junior
had delivered with an air of great dejection and with the very evident
hope that Miss Lambkin would be unable to come. But, alas! Miss
Lambkin smiled at John cheerfully and told him to tell his mother that
she would be there bright and early in the morning; that she had felt
it in her bones that Alicia Upjohn would be wanting her on that day,
and she had put off Mrs. Robbins and Mrs. Sarjeant on purpose so's
Alicia wouldn't have to wait.

Whereupon John Junior muttered unintelligibly and turned away, leaving
Miss Lambkin gazing fondly after him and calling after him to know if
it wasn't cold. John Junior muttered again, inaudibly to Miss Lambkin,
but not unintelligibly. He was not fond of those sieges, to say the
least.

"Darn it!" he muttered, kicking viciously at the ice. "That means two
weeks and I can't stay at Hen's all the whole time for two weeks. A
fellow has to be at home for meals. If she only wasn't there for
breakfast and supper!" John Junior kicked viciously at the ice again;
and, the ice proving refractory, he stubbed his toe and almost fell.
"Ow!" he said; "darn it!" But that was an afterthought. He betook him
to the harbor.

There is some reason to believe that the late John Senior had not
regarded these visitations with more favor than did his son; there
were some that did not hesitate to say that his end had been hastened
by them and by the semiannual house-cleaning. Mrs. Upjohn was
considered a notable housekeeper. "She takes it hard," he had said to
Hen's father in an unguarded moment of confidence. Hen's father had
laughed. Hen's mother was not a notable housekeeper. John Senior had
sighed. At that time there was but one club in Whitby. He was not a
member of that club. Such men as Hugh Morton and Gerrit Torrington
were members; even John Hazen was said to be a member, although he was
never at the club-rooms. So even that solace was denied to John
Senior. He couldn't stay at Hen's house all the time either; and,
there seeming to be no other way of escape, he up and had a stroke and
died in two hours. At least, so rumor ran, the connection between
cause and effect being of rumor's making. I have no wish to contradict
it. I have no doubt that I should have wanted to do as John Senior had
done. Very possibly Patty had some such wish.

The two weeks of Letty were now up and the end was not in sight. She
and Mrs. Upjohn sat in Mrs. Upjohn's sewing-room, which was strewn
with unfinished skirts and waists and scraps of cloth. Letty sewed
rapidly on the skirt; Mrs. Upjohn sewed slowly--very, very slowly--on
something. It really did not matter what. If the completion of Mrs.
Upjohn's clothes had depended upon Mrs. Upjohn's unaided efforts she
would never have had anything to wear.

"Where's Patty gone, Alicia?" asked Letty, a thread between her teeth.
"Hospital?"

Mrs. Upjohn stopped sewing. "Yes," she replied in her deliberate way.
"I believe her father is worse. She got a message this morning before
you came, and I think it was unfavorable, to judge by her face."

"Land!" said Miss Lambkin. "I guess he's going to die. He's a pretty
old man. Eighty, if he's a day, would be my guess."

Mrs. Upjohn nodded. "Just eighty."

"Pretty good guess, I call it." Miss Lambkin laughed. "I thought he
must be pretty sick, or Patty wouldn't be out of the house as soon as
ever breakfast was over and not turn up again until dinner-time. Then,
as like as not, she'd be gone the whole afternoon. I hear he's got
pneumonia."

Mrs. Upjohn nodded again.

"And I hear," Letty continued, "that he got it getting chilled and wet
the night of the fire. 'T was an awful cold night, and he would stay
around the house and try to tell the firemen what they sh'd do. Of
course, they couldn't help squirting on him some."

"I hope," said Mrs. Upjohn, "that they didn't mean to."

"I hope not," Miss Lambkin returned. "I sh'd think the ones that did
it would have it on their consciences if they did. They tell me that
Sally Ladue discovered the fire. She and that Doctor Sanderson have
been at the Mortons' ever since and, if you can believe all you hear,
neither of 'em likes it any too well. Mrs. Morton's nice to her--she
can be as nice as nice to them that she likes, though you wouldn't
always think it--but Everett's the trouble."

It was contrary to Mrs. Upjohn's principles to look surprised at any
piece of information--and as if she had not heard it before. She gave
a little laugh.

"A good many girls," she remarked, "would give their eyes to be at the
Mortons' for two weeks."

"I guess that's what's the trouble with Everett," said Miss Lambkin
pointedly. "Too much girl; and I guess he isn't any too particular
about the kind either."

Mrs. Upjohn was curious. To be sure, she was always curious, which was
a fact that she flattered herself she concealed very neatly. Other
people were not of the same opinion.

"Why, Letty?" she asked frankly. She seldom allowed her curiosity to
be so evident. "I've never heard of his being seen with any girls that
he ought not to be with. Have you?"

"Oh, not in Whitby," replied Miss Lambkin. "Not for Joseph! As far's
that goes, he isn't seen very often with girls that he ought to be
with. But I hear that when he's in Boston it's a different story. Of
course, I haven't seen him with my own eyes, but I have reliable
information. You know he goes to Boston for weeks at a time."

"M-m," assented Mrs. Upjohn, rocking quietly and comfortably. "He
stays at the best hotels, I believe."

"_Registers_ at the most expensive," corrected Miss Lambkin, "I have
no doubt. I s'pose he stays there some of the time. To tell the
truth," she confessed, somewhat crestfallen at having to make the
humiliating confession, "I didn't just hear what Everett does that
Sally Ladue doesn't like."

"Oh," said Mrs. Upjohn. She did not look up and there was a certain
air of triumph in the way she uttered that simple syllable which
grated on Miss Lambkin's sensibilities.


"Sally's a sort of high-and-mighty girl," continued Miss Lambkin
tentatively.

"Sally's a nice girl and a good girl," said Mrs. Upjohn cordially;
"capable, I should say."

"No doubt she is," Letty returned without enthusiasm. "It's rather
strange that she is all that, considering what her father did."

Mrs. Upjohn laughed comfortably. "I used to know her father. There was
no telling what he would do."

"Ran off with another woman," said Letty, "and some money. That's what
I heard."

Mrs. Upjohn laughed again. "He disappeared," she conceded. "I never
heard that there was any other woman in the case and I'm reasonably
sure there wasn't any money."

"He hasn't ever been heard of since?"

Mrs. Upjohn shook her head.

"And he left them without any money? I thought he stole it."

"I don't think so. Doctor Sanderson kept them afloat for some time, I
believe, until Patty asked Sally here. Then he got Mrs. Ladue into
Doctor Galen's hospital."

"M-m," Letty murmured slowly. She had a needle between her lips or she
would have said "o-oh." She removed the needle for the purpose of
speech. "So that's Doctor Sanderson's connection with the Ladues. I
always wondered. It might have been 'most anything. His sister's up
and coming. She'll have Dick Torrington if he don't look out. She's
made the most of her visit."

Letty's murmur might have meant much or it might have meant nothing at
all. At all events, Mrs. Upjohn let it go unchallenged, possibly
because her curiosity was aroused by what Letty said later. She asked
no questions, however. She only waited, receptively, for further
communications on the subject of Henrietta and Dick. Miss Lambkin did
not vouchsafe further information on that subject, but immediately
branched off upon another.

"I'm told," she said, with the rapidity of mental change that marked
her intellectual processes, "that John Hazen's house was in an awful
state the morning after the fire. I went around there as soon's ever I
could, to see what I could see, but the door was locked and I couldn't
get in. I looked in the windows, though, and the furniture's all gone
from some of the rooms, even to the carpets. There was a ladder there,
and I went up it, and the bedroom was all stripped clean. I couldn't
carry the ladder, so I didn't see the others. I made some inquiries
and I was told that the furniture was all stored in the stable. That
wasn't burned at all, you know. I thought that perhaps Patty'd been
and had it moved, though it don't seem hardly like her. It's more like
John Hazen himself. But he wasn't able."

Mrs. Upjohn smiled and shook her head. "It wasn't Patty," she replied,
"or I should have known it. I guess it was Sally. Perhaps Doctor
Sanderson helped, but it is just like Sally. She's a great hand to
take hold and do things."

"You don't tell me!" said Miss Lambkin. "But I don't suppose she did
it with her own hands. I shouldn't wonder," she remarked, "if she'd
find some good place to board, the first thing you know. She might go
to Miss Miller's. She could take 'em, I know, but she wouldn't have
room for Doctor Sanderson, only Sally and her mother and Charlie.
Charlie's a pup, that's what he is. But I can't see, for the life of
me, what Doctor Sanderson keeps hanging around here for. Why don't he
go home?"

Not knowing, Mrs. Upjohn, for a wonder, did not undertake to say. Miss
Lambkin hazarded the guess that the doctor might be sparking around
Sally; but Mrs. Upjohn did not seem to think so.

"Well," Letty went on, "I wonder what the Hazens'll do. It'd cost an
awful sight to repair that house; almost as much as to build a new
one. What insurance did you hear they had? Has Patty said?--This skirt
is about ready to try on, Alicia. I want to drape it real nice. Can't
you stand on the table?"

She spread a folded newspaper on the top of the table.

"There! Now, you won't mar the top. Take your skirt right off and
climb up."

Mrs. Upjohn was a heavy woman and she obeyed with some difficulty.
Miss Lambkin continued in her pursuit of information while she draped
the skirt.

"You haven't answered about the insurance, Alicia. What did Patty say
about it? I don't suppose Patty'd know exactly and I wouldn't trust
her guess anyway. John Hazen never seemed to, to any extent. Patty's
kind o' flighty, isn't she, and cracked on the men, although you
wouldn't think it from her highty-tighty manner. She used to think she
was going to marry Meriwether Beatty, I remember. Land! He had no more
idea of marrying her than I had. And she's been cracked on every man
that's more'n spoken to her since. She's got the symptoms of nervous
prostration; all the signs of it. I shouldn't be a bit surprised if
she went crazy, one o' these days. If Doctor Sanderson is looking for
patients for his sanitarium he needn't look any farther. Patty's it.
Turn around, Alicia. I don't get a good light on the other side. Why,
Patty's--"

Mrs. Upjohn had heard the front door shut. "Sh-h-h!" she cautioned.
"Here's Patty now."

They heard Patty come slowly up the stairs and, although there were no
sounds of it, she seemed to be weeping.

"Now, I wonder," whispered Miss Lambkin, "what's the matter. Do you
s'pose her--"

"Sh, Letty! She'll hear you. I'll get down and go to her."

"Without a skirt, Alicia?"

But Mrs. Upjohn did not heed. She got down from the table, clumsily
enough, and went to the door. Patty had just passed it.

"Patty!" Mrs. Upjohn called softly. "Is there anything the matter?"

Patty turned a miserable, tear-stained face. "It--it's all o-over,"
she said dully.

"Your father?" asked Mrs. Upjohn. She spoke in an awe-struck whisper
in spite of herself. Did not Death deserve such an attitude?

Patty nodded silently. "I'm so sorry, Patty," Mrs. Upjohn's sympathy
was genuine. "I _am_ so sorry."

"Oh, Alicia," Patty cried in a burst of grief, "my father's d-dead."

Mrs. Upjohn folded ample arms about her and patted her on the shoulder
as if she had been a child. "There, there, Patty! I'm just as sorry as
I can be; and so will everybody be as soon as they hear of it. But
you just cry as much as you want to. It'll do you good."

So they stood, Mrs. Upjohn unmindful of the fact that she had no skirt
and Patty crying into a lavender silk shoulder.

"Land!" The voice was the voice of Miss Lambkin and it proceeded from
the doorway. "I'm awfully sorry to hear your father's dead, Patty. How
did--"

Patty lifted her head majestically from the lavender silk shoulder.
"My grief is sacred," she murmured; and fled to her room.

"Mercy me!" muttered Miss Lambkin. "I didn't have my kid gloves on. I
ought to have known better'n to speak to Patty without 'em. You may as
well come back, Alicia," she continued in a louder voice, "and finish
with that skirt. Perhaps, now, you'll be wanting a new black dress.
Your old one's pretty well out of fashion."

She filled her mouth with pins while Mrs. Upjohn again mounted the
table.

Mrs. Upjohn shook her head slowly. "No," she answered, "I guess the
old one will do for a while yet. I shouldn't want one for anything but
the funeral anyway, and you couldn't begin to get one done by that
time. It would be different if it was a relative."

"It's curious," remarked Miss Lambkin, as well as she could with her
mouth full of pins, "how things go. Now, there's many of our
relatives--mine, anyway--that we could spare as well as not; better
than some of those that are no kin to us. And we have to wear black
for them and try to look sorry. Black isn't becoming to some, but it
seems to me you'd look full as well in it as you do in that lavender,
and that place on your shoulder where Patty cried tears is going to
show anyway. But, as I was going to say, a man like John Hazen is
going to be missed. I wonder who was there, at his death-bed. Patty,
of course, and Sally Ladue, I s'pose, and maybe Mrs. Ladue and
Meriwether Beatty. Sally was real fond of her Uncle John and he of
her. It's my opinion that Sally'll be sorrier than Patty will. Come
right down to it, Patty isn't so broken-hearted as she likes to think,
though she'll miss him."

To this Mrs. Upjohn agreed, but Letty did not wait for her reply.

"And I wonder," she went on, working rapidly while she talked, "how
much he's left. Patty hasn't said, I s'pose. I don't s'pose she'd have
much of an idea anyway, and I don't know's anybody could tell until
his business is all settled up. He had quite a number of vessels, and
it seems a great pity that there isn't anybody to take his business up
where he left it. He did well with it, I'm told. It's my guess that
you'll find that John Hazen's left Sally a good big slice."

"I hope so, with all my heart." Mrs. Upjohn spoke cordially, as she
did invariably of Sally.

"My!" Letty exclaimed with an anticipatory squeal of delight.
"Wouldn't it put Patty in a proper temper if he had! Now, Alicia," she
said, standing back and looking the skirt up and down, "we'll call
that skirt right. It hangs well, if I do say it. Take it off and I'll
finish it right up. You can come down now."



CHAPTER VII


Miss Lambkin was right. Sally found a place to board--a nice place, to
quote Letty Lambkin, although it was not Miss Miller's. No doubt Letty
was sorry that Sally had not chosen Miss Miller's, for Miss Miller was
an especial friend of Letty's; and, by choosing another place, Sally
had cut off, at a blow, a most reliable source of information. Very
possibly Sally did not think of this, but if she had, it would have
been but one more argument in favor of her choice, for Mrs. Stump
couldn't bear Letty, and she had vowed that she should never darken
her door. Letty would not have darkened the door very much. She was a
thin little thing. But, if Sally did not think of it, Letty did, and
she regretted it. She even went so far as to mention it to Mrs.
Upjohn.

"If Sally Ladue thinks she's getting ahead of me," she said, with
sharp emphasis, "she'll find she's mistaken. I have my sources of
information."

Mrs. Upjohn did not reprove her. She had an inordinate thirst for
information which did not concern her, and Letty was the most
unfailing source of it. So she only smiled sympathetically and said
nothing. She was sorry to be deprived of such accurate information
about Sally as Miss Miller would have supplied, but she still had
Patty. In fact, Mrs. Upjohn was beginning to wonder how much longer
she was to have Patty. Patty seemed to have no thought of going.
Indeed, she would not have known where to go. Patty was entering upon
some brand-new experiences, rather late in life. Already she was
beginning to miss the pendulum.

Before Sally took this step which seemed to be so much more important
to others than to herself, various things had happened, of which Miss
Lambkin could have had no knowledge, even with her reliable sources of
information. Everett Morton had had an interview with his mother, at
her request. He would not have sought an interview, for he had a
premonition of the subject of it.

Mrs. Morton was one of those rare women whom wealth had not spoiled;
that is, not wholly; not very much, indeed. There was still left a
great deal of her natural self, and that self was sweet and kind and
yielding enough, although, on occasions, she could be as decided as
she thought necessary. This was one of the occasions. The interview
was nearly over. It had been short and to the point, which concerned
Sally.

"Well, Everett," said Mrs. Morton decidedly, "your attitude towards
Sally Ladue must be changed. I haven't been able to point out, as
exactly as I should like to do, just where it fails to be
satisfactory. But it does fail, and it must be changed."

Everett was standing by the mantel, a cigarette between his fingers.
"You do not make your meaning clear, my dear mother," he replied
coldly. "If you would be good enough to specify any speech of mine?
Anything that I have said, at any time?" he suggested. "If there has
been anything said or done for which I should apologize, I shall be
quite ready to do so. It is a little difficult to know what you are
driving at." And he smiled in his most exasperating way.

Mrs. Morton's color had been rising and her eyes glittered. Everett
should have observed and taken warning. Perhaps he did.

"Everett," she said, as coldly as he had spoken and more incisively,
"you exhibit great skill in evasion. I wish that you would use your
skill to better advantage. I have no reason to think that there have
been any words of yours with which I could find fault, although I do
not know what you have said. But Sally could be trusted to take care
of that. It is your manner."

Everett laughed. "But, my dear mother!" he protested, "I can't help
my manner. As well find fault with the color of my eyes or--"

His mother interrupted him. "You can help it. It is of no use to
pretend that you don't know what I mean. You have wit enough."

"Thank you."

"And your manner is positively insulting. You have let even me see
that. Any woman would resent it, but she wouldn't speak of it. She
couldn't. Don't compel me to specify more particularly. You put Sally
in a very hard position, Everett, and in our own house, too. You ought
to have more pride, to say the least; the very least."

Everett's color had been rising, too, as his mother spoke. "I am
obliged for your high opinion. May I ask what you fear as the
consequence of my insulting manner?"

"You know as well as I," Mrs. Morton answered; "but I will tell you,
if you wish. Sally will go, of course, and will think as badly of us
as we deserve."

"That," Everett replied slowly, "could perhaps be borne with
equanimity if she takes Doctor Sanderson with her."

Mrs. Morton laughed suddenly. "Oh," she exclaimed, "so that is it! I
must confess that that had not occurred to me. Now, go along, Everett,
and for mercy's sake, be decent."

Everett's color was still high, but if he felt any embarrassment he
succeeded in concealing it under his manner, of which his mother
seemed to have so high an opinion.

He cast his cigarette into the fire. "If you have no more to say to
me, then, I will go," he said, smiling icily. His mother saying
nothing, but smiling at him, he bowed--English model--and was going
out.

Mrs. Morton laughed again, suddenly and merrily. "Oh, Everett,
Everett!" she cried. "How old are you? I should think you were about
twelve."

"Thank you," he replied; and he bowed again and left her.

So Mrs. Morton had not been surprised when Sally came to her, a day or
two later, to say that she thought that they--Doctor Sanderson and
she--had imposed upon Mrs. Morton's kindness long enough and that she
had found a boarding-place for her mother and Charlie and herself.

"I am very sorry to say that I am not surprised, Sally, dear," Mrs.
Morton returned, "although I am grievously disappointed. I had hoped
that you would stay with us until the house was habitable again. I
have tried," she added in some embarrassment, "to correct--"

Sally flushed quickly. "Please don't speak of it, dear Mrs. Morton,"
she said hastily. "It is--there has been nothing--"

"Nonsense, Sally! Don't you suppose I see, having eyes? But we won't
speak of it, except to say that I am very sorry. And I think that you
wouldn't be annoyed again. Won't you think better of your decision and
stay until you can go to your own house?"

"Oh, but nobody knows when that will be," Sally replied, smiling.
"Nothing has been done about it yet. Patty doesn't seem to know what
to do. Uncle John was the moving spirit." There were tears in her
eyes.

"I know, Sally, dear, I know. I am as sorry as I can be. I am afraid,"
she added with a queer little smile, "that I am sorrier for you than I
am for Patty."

"Thank you. But you ought not to be, you know, for he rather--well, he
steadied Patty."

Mrs. Morton laughed. "Yes, dear, I know. And you didn't need to be
steadied. But I'm afraid that I am, just the same."

So it was settled, as anything was apt to be concerning which Sally
had made up her mind. Mrs. Ladue did not receive the announcement with
unalloyed joy. She smiled and she sighed.

"I suppose it is settled," she said, "or you would not have told me.
Oh," seeing the distress in Sally's face, "it ought to be. It is quite
time. We have made a much longer visit upon Mrs. Torrington than we
ought to have made, but I can't help being sorry, rather, to exchange
her house for Mrs. Stump's. But why, Sally, if you found it
unpleasant--"

"Oh, mother, I didn't say it was unpleasant. Mrs. Morton was as kind
as any one could possibly be."

"I am glad, dear. I was only going to ask why Fox stayed."

Fox murmured something about Christian martyrs and a den of lions, and
Mrs. Ladue laughed. Then she sighed again.

"Well," she said, "all right, Sally. You will let me know, I suppose,
when we are to go. We can't stay on here forever, although I'd like
to."

At that moment Dick came in. "Why not?" he asked. "Why not stay, if
you like it?"

"How absurd, Dick!" Sally protested. "You are very kind, but you know
mother will have to go pretty soon. And I've found a very good place."

"If Sally says so, it's so," Dick retorted, "and there's no use in
saying any more about it. Mrs. Stump's or Miss Miller's?"

Fox had been looking out of the window. He turned. "Mrs. Ladue," he
asked suddenly, "will you go sleighing with me to-morrow? It will be
about my last chance, for I go back when Sally leaves the Mortons'."

"Oh," cried Sally, "why not me, too? And Henrietta?"

Fox smiled at her. "There's a reason," he said. "I'll take you when
the time is ripe. I have something to show your mother and we have to
go after it."

"Can't you get it and show it to me, too?"

Fox shook his head. "I'm afraid not. It isn't mine, for one thing."

"Oh," said Sally, her head in the air. "And I suppose you'll go in the
morning, when I'm in school."

"That might not be a bad idea. We might be followed. Can you go in the
morning, Mrs. Ladue?"

She laughed and nodded. She would go at any time that suited him.

So it chanced that Fox and Mrs. Ladue started out, the next morning.
Fox drove along Apple Tree Street and turned into another street.

"Isn't this Smith Street?" asked Mrs. Ladue doubtfully. "Where are we
going, Fox?"

"I'm astonished at your question," he replied. "You ought to know that
this is still Witch Lane for all the old families, in spite of the
fact that it is known, officially, as Smith Street. I have yet a very
distinct recollection of Miss Patty's lamentations over the change.
That was ten years ago, when Sally first arrived."

Mrs. Ladue laughed. She would have laughed at anything that morning.

"But, do you mind telling me where we are going?"

"I can't tell you exactly, as I am not very familiar with the country
here. I know where I am going," he explained hastily, "but I doubt if
I could tell you. We shall come to the end of the built-up part pretty
soon, and then it takes us out into the country. There'll be a turn or
two, and what I want you to see is about two miles out. Mr. Morton,"
he added, "put a horse at my service, and I have been exploring. I
have not wasted my time."

Mrs. Ladue made no reply. She was happy enough, without the need of
speech. They drove on, past the built-up part, as Fox had said, past
more thinly scattered houses, with little gardens, the corn-stubble
already beginning to show above the snow, here and there, for it had
been thawing. Then they began to pass small farms, and then, as they
made the first of the turn or two, the farms were larger, and there
were rows of milk-cans on their pegs in the sun.

Suddenly Mrs. Ladue laughed. "Now I know where I am," she exclaimed.
"That is, I remember that Uncle John Hazen brought me out here one
day, nearly two years ago. He wanted to show me something, too."

Fox turned and looked at her. "That is interesting," he said. "I
wonder if he showed you the same place that I am going to show you."

Mrs. Ladue only smiled mysteriously; and when, at last, Fox stopped
his horse and said "There!" she was laughing quietly. He looked
puzzled.

"The same," she said. "The very same."

"Well," Fox replied slowly, "I admire his taste. It is worth looking
at."

It was a very large house, looking out from beneath its canopy of elms
over a wide valley; a pleasant prospect of gentle hills and dales,
with the little river winding quietly below.

"It is worth looking at," said Fox again. He looked at her, then. She
was not laughing, but there was a merry look in her eyes. "What amuses
you? I should rather like to know. Isn't my hat on straight?"

She shook her head. "I'll tell you before long. But it is really
nothing." Truly it didn't need much to amuse her on that day.

He looked at her again, then looked away. "The house looks as if it
might have been a hotel," he remarked; "a little hotel, with all the
comforts of home. It is very homelike. It seems to invite you."

"Yes," she replied, "it does."

"And the barn," he went on, "is not too near the house, but yet near
enough, and it is very well ordered and it has all the modern
improvements. All the modern improvements include a tiled milking-room
and, next to it, a tiled milk-room with all the most improved
equipment, and a wash-room for the milkers and a herd of about
twenty-five registered Guernseys. I know, for I have been over it."

"That sounds very good. I know very little about such things."

"I have had to know. It is a part of my business. That barn and that
outfit would be very convenient if the house were--for instance--a
private hospital. Now, wouldn't it?"

She made no reply and he turned to her again. She was looking at him
in amazement, and her face expressed doubt and a dawning gladness.

"Oh, Fox!"

"Now, wouldn't it?"

"Yes," she murmured, in a low voice.

"And the house seems not unsuitable for such a purpose. I have not
been over the house."

"Fox! Will you tell me what you mean?"

He laughed out. "The old skinflint who lives there says he can't sell
it. He seemed very intelligent, too; intellect enough to name a price
if he wanted to. And I would not stick at the price if it were within
the bounds of reason."

"I think," Mrs. Ladue remarked, "that I could tell you why your old
skinflint couldn't sell it."

"Why?" Fox asked peremptorily.

"When you have shown me all you have to show," she answered, the look
of quiet amusement again about her eyes and mouth, "I will tell you;
that is, if you tell me first what you mean."

He continued looking for a few moments in silence. She bore his
scrutiny as calmly as she could. Then he turned, quickly, and drew the
reins tight.

"Get up, you ancient scion of a livery stable." The horse started
reluctantly. "There is something else," he added, "just down the road
a bit."

"I thought so," she said. "It is a square house, painted a cream
color, with a few elms around it, and quite a grove at a little
distance behind it."

"It is. But you forgot the barn and the chicken-houses."

She laughed joyously. "I didn't think of them."

"And the well-sweep."

"I'm afraid I didn't think of that, either."

"I should really like to know how you knew," he observed, as if
wondering. "Perhaps it is not worth while going there. But I want to
see it again, if you don't."

"Oh, I do. I am very much interested, and you know you are to tell me
what you are planning."

"Yes," he replied. "I meant to tell you. That was what I brought you
for. But I thought you would be surprised and I hoped that you might
be pleased."

"Trust me for that, Fox, if your plans are what I hope they are. If
they are, I shall be very happy."

They stopped in the road before the square house that was painted
cream color. Fox gazed at it longingly. It seemed to be saying, "Come
in! Come in!" and reaching out arms to him. There was the old well at
one side, with its great sweep. The ground about the well was bare of
snow and there was a path from it to the kitchen door. Thin curls of
smoke were coming lazily from each of the great chimneys.

He sighed, at last, and turned to Mrs. Ladue. "I should like to live
there," he said.

"You would find it rather a hardship, I am afraid," she returned,
watching him closely, "depending upon that well, picturesque as it
is."

He laughed. "Easy enough to lay pipes from the hotel, back there." He
nodded in the direction of the larger house, the one of the
twenty-five Guernseys and the model barn. "They have a large supply
and a power pump. Ask me something harder."

"The heating," she ventured. "Fires--open fires--are very nice and
necessary. But they wouldn't be sufficient."

He laughed again. "It is not impossible to put in a heating-system.
One might even run steam pipes along with the water pipes and heat
from their boilers. I press the button, they do the rest."

"Well, I can't seem to think of any other objection. And there is a
very good view."

"A very good view," he repeated. He was silent for a while. "I have
done very well in the past five or six years," he said then, "and the
wish that has been growing--my dearest wish, if you like--has been to
establish a sort of private hospital about here somewhere. It wouldn't
be a hospital, exactly; anyway, my patients might not like the word.
And I should hate to call it a sanitarium. Call it Sanderson's
Retreat." He smiled at the words. "That's it. We'll call it
Sanderson's Retreat."

It would have warmed his heart if he could have seen her face; but he
was not looking.

"I am very glad, Fox," she murmured. "That makes me very happy."

"Sanderson's Retreat?" he asked, turning to her. "But I haven't got
it. Just as I thought I had found it I found that I couldn't get it."

"Perhaps that old skinflint who lives there doesn't own it," she
suggested.

"Of course I thought of that," he answered, with some impatience. "But
how am I to find out about it without exciting the cupidity of the
native farmers? Once aroused, it is a terrible thing. I might
advertise: 'Wanted, a place of not less than fifty acres, with large
house commanding a good view over a valley, a herd of about
twenty-five Guernseys, a barn with all the modern improvements, and a
power pump. Price no object.' Rather narrows it down a trifle."

Mrs. Ladue almost chuckled. "I won't keep you in suspense," she said.
"Uncle John owned it when he brought me out here. He told me so. And
he owned this house, too."

"Uncle John!" cried Fox. "He knew a thing or two, didn't he? I wish I
had found it while he was living. Now, I suppose I shall have to buy
it of Miss Patty; that is, if I can. Who is the executor of the will?
Do you know?"

She shook her head. "I haven't heard anything about the will, yet. I
think it's likely to be Dick Torrington. Uncle John seemed to like
Dick very much and he thought very well of him."

"I'll see Dick Torrington to-day. We may as well go back." He turned
the horse about; then stopped again, looking back at the cream-colored
house. He looked for a long time. "It's very pleasant," he said, at
last, sighing. "Those trees, now--those in the grove--do they strike
you as being suitable for a gynesaurus to climb? Do they?" he asked
softly.

His eyes looked into hers for a moment. His eyes were very
gentle--oh, very gentle, indeed, and somewhat wistful; windows of the
soul. At that moment he was laying bare his heart to her. She knew it;
it was a thing she had never known him to do before.

She put her hand to her heart; an involuntary movement. "Oh, Fox!" she
breathed. "Oh, Fox!" Then she spoke eagerly. "Will you--are you going
to--"

He smiled at her, and his smile was full of gentleness and patience.
"I hope so," he answered. "In the fullness of time. It is a part of my
dearest wish. Yes, when the time is ripe, I mean to. Not yet. She is
not ready for it yet."

"She is nearly twenty-one," Mrs Ladue said anxiously, "and beginning
to be restless under her teaching. Don't wait too long, Fox. Don't
wait too long."

"I have your blessing, then? I have your best wishes for my success?"

"You know you have," she murmured, a little catch in her voice.

"I thought that I could count on them," he replied gratefully, "but I
thank you for making me certain of it."

She seemed as if about to speak; but she said nothing, after all. Fox
smiled and took up the reins again. The drive back was a silent one.
Fox was busy with his own thoughts; and Mrs. Ladue, it is to be
supposed, was busy with hers.



CHAPTER VIII


Dick Torrington was out when Fox called at his office, early that
afternoon. They were expecting him at any moment. He had not come back
from lunch yet. He did not usually stay so long and wouldn't Doctor
Sanderson take a seat and wait a few minutes? Accordingly, Doctor
Sanderson took a seat and waited a few minutes. He waited a good many
minutes. He read the paper through; then paced slowly up and down the
waiting-room. Were they sure Mr. Torrington would come back? Oh, yes,
they thought so. They did not know what could be keeping him. So
Doctor Sanderson thought he would wait a few minutes longer.

The truth was that it was Henrietta who was keeping Dick away from his
office and his waiting clients. As she was to go within a few days,
Dick thought the time propitious for taking her for a last sleigh
ride; it might happen to be the last and it might not. Henrietta, too,
thought the time propitious. I don't know what Fox would have thought,
if he had known it. Most likely he would have grinned and have said
nothing, keeping his thoughts to himself. He was an adept at keeping
his thoughts to himself. But there is reason to believe that he would
not have waited. Just as his patience was utterly exhausted and he was
going out, Dick came in. There was a rather shamefaced grin of
pleasure on his face which changed to a welcoming smile when he saw
Fox. It was a very welcoming smile; more welcoming than the occasion
seemed to call for. Fox wondered at it. But he was not to find out the
reason that day.

They came to business at once. Dick was the executor, but he had not
notified the beneficiaries under the will yet. It was really a very
short time since Mr. Hazen's death. Fox, wondering what that had to do
with the matter, protested mildly that the only question with him was
whether he could buy certain properties of the estate. He would prefer
to deal with Dick rather than with Miss Patty.

Dick laughed. "Oh," he said, "I forgot that you didn't know. Those
pieces of property that you are after--I know very well what they
are," he interrupted himself to say, "and I can guess what you want
them for--those pieces of property were left to Sally. I shall have to
refer you to her."

Fox's amazement was comical. "Left to Sally!" he exclaimed. "Well! And
it never occurred to me."

"It probably has never occurred to Sally either," Dick suggested. "She
has more than that. Her uncle John was very fond of her."

"I am sure that it has not occurred to Sally. What will Miss Patty
think?"

Dick shook his head. "I don't know," he said. "Nobody does. I don't
know just how she feels toward Sally. If it were Charlie, now,--but it
isn't. About these properties, you will have to see Sally. She isn't
at liberty to dispose of them yet, but if she agrees to, there will be
no difficulty. I shall not stand in the way of your doing anything you
want to do with them. It happens that the lease of them runs out in a
few months. I really don't believe that Miss Patty will contest the
will, even if she doesn't just like it. Mr. Hazen's word was the law,
you know."

Fox was looking out of the window and, as he looked, his glance
chanced to fall upon Miss Patty herself, stepping along in a way which
she had fondly flattered herself was dainty.

He smiled. "You never can tell about these nervous patients," he
observed. "They may do anything--or they may not. But I think I'd
better see Sally and break the news."

He found the chance on the evening of that same day. Everett went
out, immediately after dinner, as was his habit, and Mrs. Morton left
them alone. Sally was reading.

"Sally," said Fox, "I understand that you are an heiress."

Sally put down her book suddenly and gave him a startled glance. "Oh,"
she exclaimed, "I hope not! Who told you?"

"Dick Torrington. He is the executor."

"Oh, Fox!" she cried. She seemed dismayed. "And Dick knows. But Patty
will never forgive me. Can't I help it?"

"No doubt," he replied, smiling, "but I hope you won't, for I want to
buy some of your property."

She laughed joyously. "I'll give it to you, you mercenary man! At
last, Fox, I can get even with you--but only partly," she hastened to
add; "only partly. Please say that you'll let me give it to you."

Fox was embarrassed. "Bless you, Sally!" he said. At that moment, he
was very near to heeding Mrs. Ladue's injunction not to wait too long.
He stopped in time. "Bless you, Sally! You have paid me. I don't need
money anyway."

"Neither do I."

"The time may come when you will. It is a handy thing to have," he
went on. "I promise to let you pay me some day," he added hastily,
seeing that she was about to insist, "in kind."

Sally nodded with satisfaction. "I'll do it," she said, "in kind. That
usually means potatoes and corn and firewood, doesn't it."

"Not this time, it doesn't. But I can't let you think of giving me
these places."

"You can't help my thinking of giving them to you," she interrupted.

"For you don't even know what they are," Fox continued. "I didn't mean
to tell you yet, but I have to." And he told her what he wanted to do;
but only a part. It is to be noted that he said nothing about
gynesauruses and coal-trees.

When he had finished Sally sighed. "It's too bad that I can't give
them to you, Fox. I think it would be a very good way; an excellent
way."

"Excellent?" he asked.

"Yes, excellent," Sally answered, looking at him and smiling in her
amused way. "Why isn't it?"

"Nonsense! It's absurd; preposterous. It's positively shocking. Sally,
I'm surprised at you."

Sally shook her head. "No," she said obstinately, "it's an excellent
way to do. You can't say why it isn't. Why, just think, then I should
feel that I could come there when I am old or when I break down from
overwork. Teachers are apt to break down, I understand, and now, when
they do, there seems to be no course open to them but to hire a
hearse--if they've saved money enough. Think how much easier I should
feel in my mind if Sanderson's Retreat were open to me." And Sally
chuckled at the thought.

"But Sanderson's Retreat would be open to you in any case," Fox
protested. "You would not have to hire a hearse. It is my business to
prevent such excursions. Have I ever failed you, Sally?"

"Oh, Fox, never." There were tears in her eyes as she got up quickly
and almost ran to him. "Never, never, Fox. That is why, don't you see?
I want to do something for you, Fox. You have done so much for me--for
us."

He was standing by the fire. As she came, he held out his hands and
she gave him both of hers. Ah! Doctor Sanderson, you are in danger of
forgetting your resolution; that resolution which you thought was so
wise. In truth, the words trembled on the tip of his tongue. But
Sally's "for us" brought him to his senses.

"Oh, Sally, Sally!" he said ruefully. "You don't know. You don't
know."

"Well," Sally replied impatiently, after she had waited in vain for
some moments for him to finish, "what don't I know? I don't know
everything. I am aware of that, and that is the first step to
knowledge."

"You come near enough to it," he returned, as if speaking to himself.
He was looking down, as he spoke, into great gray eyes which, somehow,
were very soft and tender. He looked away. "Sometime you will know."

"Everything?" asked Sally, smiling.

"Everything that is worth knowing," he answered gently. "Yes,
everything that is worth knowing," he repeated, slowly.

Sally pondered for a brief instant; then flushed a little, but so
little that you would scarcely have noticed it, especially if you had
been looking away from her, as Fox was at some pains to do.

"We have not settled that question, Fox," she said. He still held her
hands, but he scarcely glanced at her. "Fox,"--giving him a gentle
shake,--"pay attention and look at me." He looked at her, trying not
to let his eyes tell tales. Very likely Sally would think they told of
no more than the brotherly affection which she had become used to,
from him. Very likely that was what she did think. She gave no sign
that she saw more than that, at any rate. "_Please_ let me give them
to you," she pleaded, eagerly. "I want to."

He shook his head. "Oh, Sally, Sally!" he said again. "It is hard
enough to refuse you anything; but I can't let you do this, for your
own sake. What would people think?"

"Oh, fiddle! What business is it of theirs? And how would they know
anything about it?"

"I have no doubt there are some who would at once institute inquiries.
You probably know such people."

Sally chuckled. "Letty Lambkin might. But what would it matter if they
did?"

"I should hate to think that I was responsible for making you talked
about."

"Then you won't take them, Fox? Not even if I get down on my knees?"
Again there were tears in her eyes.

Fox shook his head. "I can't," he said gently. "I can't take them on
those terms."

Sally sighed and smiled. "So I am repulsed, then. My gifts are
spurned."

Fox was very uncomfortable. "But, Sally--" he began.

She brightened suddenly. "I know!" she cried. "I'll lease them to you
for ninety-nine years. Isn't that what they do when they can't do
anything else? And you'll have to pay--oh, ever so much rent."

He laughed. "All right. I guess that'll be as long as I shall have use
for them. But you'll have to charge me enough."

"Oh, I'll charge you enough," she said nodding; "never fear. I'll
consult Dick and take his advice. _Then_ perhaps you'll be satisfied."

"I'll be satisfied," he replied. "I'm very grateful, Sally."

"Nonsense! You're not. You're only complacent because you think you've
had your own way, and I didn't mean that you should have it." She took
her hands away at last. "Here's Mrs. Morton," she said gently.



CHAPTER IX


What Patty really thought about the provisions of her father's will is
not recorded. Indeed, it is doubtful whether she had anything more
nearly approaching consecutive thought on the subject than a vague
resentment toward Sally and a querulous disposition to find fault with
her. For, with the lapse of years, Patty was becoming less and less
able to think rationally--to direct her thoughts--or to think
consecutively on any subject. She had never been conspicuous for her
ability in that direction. What she said was another matter. What
business had Sally to benefit by her father's will? A poor relation
whom she, Patty, had befriended, no more. It never occurred to her to
blame her father any more than it occurred to her to tell the whole
truth about that little matter of befriending. Patty thought that she
told the truth. She meant to.

There was some excuse for Patty's disappointment. One does not easily
rest content with but little more than half a fortune when one has,
for years, had reason to expect the whole of it. It was a modest
fortune enough, but the fact that it turned out to be nearly twice
what Patty had counted upon, and that, consequently, she was left with
just about what she had expected, did not make her disappointment any
the lighter, but rather the reverse. And she did not stop to consider
that she would be relieved of what she was pleased to term the burden
of supporting the Ladues, and that she would have, at her own
disposal, more money than she had ever had. Not at all. Even when Dick
pointed out to her that very fact, it did not change her feeling.
Somehow, she did not know exactly how, Sally had cheated her out of
her birthright. She wouldn't call it stealing, but--

"No," Dick observed cheerfully. "I should think you had better not
call it that. It will be as well if you restrain your speech on the
subject."

That was rather a strong remark for Dick Torrington to make, but he
felt strongly where Sally was concerned. He felt strongly where Patty
was concerned; but the feeling was different.

It was not strange that, in the face of such feeling on Patty's part,
Sally should feel strongly, too. She did feel strongly. She was
genuinely distressed about it and would have been glad to give up any
benefits under the will, and she went to Dick and told him so. He
tried to dissuade her from taking such a course. There were other
aspects of such a case than the mere feeling of one of the heirs about
another. Why, wills would be practically upset generally if any one
heir, by making a sufficiently strong protest, could, to use Dick's
own words, freeze out the others, and it would be of little use for a
man to make a will if many were of Sally's mind. In this case, as
usually in such cases, the will expressed the testator's own
well-founded intention. Mr. Hazen had expected some such outburst from
Patty. Was that to prevent his wish, his will from being carried out?
He earnestly hoped not. All socialists to the contrary,
notwithstanding, he was of the opinion that any man, living or dead,
should be able to do as he liked with his own; that is, with certain
reasonable reservations, which would not apply in the case of her
Uncle John.

"I suppose, Sally," he concluded, "that if he had given it to you
while he was living, you would have taken it, perhaps?"

"No, indeed," Sally replied indignantly. "Of course I wouldn't. What
made you think that, Dick?"

"To tell the truth," he said, "I didn't think it. Well, would it make
any difference in your feeling about it to know that he felt that Miss
Patty was not competent to take care of it?"

She shook her head and sighed. "I don't see that it would; I can't
unravel the right and wrong of it. If you think that my taking it
would have pleased Uncle John, and if you tell me that Patty has as
much as she can wish--"

"Oh, not that. But she has enough to enable her to live in luxury the
rest of her life."

Sally laughed. "We have great possibilities when it comes to wishing,
haven't we? And you advise my taking it?"

"Most certainly."

"Then I will."

"I wonder why," Dick asked, "you don't want it?"

She hesitated for an instant. "I do," she said, then, laughing again.
"That's just the trouble. If I hadn't wanted it I might have been more
ready to take it."

She met Captain Forsyth on the way home. She had just been thinking
that, after all, she could let Fox go ahead with his Retreat. She
would not have to back out of that bargain, for which she was glad.
And there were other things--

It was at this point in her reflections that Captain Forsyth bore down
and hailed her. She answered his hail with a smile and waited.

"I was just going into Dick Torrington's office," he began, in a
gentle roar, "to get him to reason with you. I heard, Sally, that you
were thinking of refusing the legacy of your Uncle John."

She nodded. "I was, but--"

"Don't you do it," he shouted earnestly. He could have been heard for
a block, if there had been anybody to hear him. "Don't you do it,
Sally! You mustn't let Patty scare you out of taking what he meant
that you should have--what he wanted you to have. She'll have enough;
more than she can take care of. Patty couldn't take proper care of a
cat. And John Hazen was very fond of you, Sally. You do this much for
him."

"I'm going to, Captain Forsyth," she answered gently. "I've just told
Dick so."

"Well, I'm glad," he said, with satisfaction. "It's been on my mind
for some days, and I thought I'd better see what I could do about it.
Your Uncle John said a good deal about you, first and last. He'd be
pleased. When you want anything, come to me; though you're not likely
to be wanting anything unless it's advice. I've barrels of that ready.
Good-bye, Sally."

Sally went home--if Mrs. Stump's could be called home--rather
depressed in spirits. In spite of what people considered her good
fortune, she continued in low spirits all through that spring and
summer. Patty, to be sure, was covertly hostile, but that was hardly
enough to account for it. Sally was aware of the unhealthy state of
her mind and thought about it more than was good for her. It is a bad
habit to get into; a very reprehensible habit, and she knew it, but
she couldn't help it. You never can help doing it when you most
shouldn't. It reminded her of the shiftless man's roof, which needed
shingling.

Very likely she was only tired with her winter's teaching and with the
events which had been crowded into those few weeks. They were
important events for her and had been trying. She began to hesitate
and to have doubts and to wonder. It was not like Sally to have
doubts, and she who hesitates is lost. She said so to herself many
times, with a sad little smile which would almost have broken Fox's
heart if he had seen it, and would surely have precipitated an event
which ought to have been precipitated.

But Fox was not there to see it and to help her in her time of doubt,
and to be precipitate and unwise. She found herself wondering whether
she had better keep on with her teaching, now that she did not have
to. There was less incentive to it than there had been. Was it worth
while? Was anything worth while, indeed? What had she to look forward
to after years of teaching, when her enthusiasm was spent? Was it
already spent? What was there in it but going over the same old round,
year after year? What was there at the end? If the children could be
carried on, year after year--if they were her own--and Sally blushed
faintly and stopped there.

But she wondered whether Henrietta had been right. What Henrietta had
said so lightly, the night of the fire, had sunk deeper than Sally
knew or than Henrietta had intended. Sally was beginning to think that
Henrietta was right and that girls, down at the bottom of their
hearts, were looking for men. She didn't like to confess it to
herself. She shrank from the whole subject; but why shouldn't
they--the girls--provided it is only at the bottom of their hearts?
They did; some of them did, at any rate. It is doubtful whether Sally
probed as deep as the bottom of her heart. Perhaps she was afraid to.

Yes, as I started out by saying, no doubt she was only tired,--beat
out, as Miss Lambkin would have said; and she was lonelier than she
had ever been. She missed Uncle John. It seemed to her that there was
nobody to whom she could turn. Probably Captain Forsyth had had some
such idea when he made his clumsy offer of advice. But Captain Forsyth
would not do. Sally would have been glad enough of somebody to turn
to. It was a peculiarly favorable time for Fox, if he had only known
it. It was a rather favorable time for anybody; for Jane Spencer, or
even for Everett Morton. For Everett had begun, as anybody could see
with half an eye, as Letty Lambkin put it briskly. Altogether Sally's
affairs had become a fit topic of conversation for people who bother
themselves about other people's business.

Miss Lambkin did. She had tried to talk with Mrs. Sarjeant about the
matter, but Mrs. Sarjeant had promptly shut her up. Whereupon Miss
Lambkin, with her head in the air, had betaken herself to Mrs. Upjohn.

Mrs. Upjohn did not shut her up. She wanted to hear what Letty had to
tell and she wished to contribute whatever she could, that Letty did
not know, to the fund of general information; without seeming to, of
course.

"Well, Alicia," Letty began, as soon as she had got into the house and
before she had had time to remove her hat, "I thought I'd come and do
for you now, even if it is a week before the time I set. Mrs.
Sarjeant can wait awhile, I guess. She can't need me. She told me
yesterday that she didn't care to listen to gossip. As if I gossiped,
Alicia! Why, I was only saying that Sally Ladue and Everett seemed to
be pretty thick now, and I shouldn't wonder if they hit it off. And I
shouldn't, either, Mrs. Sarjeant or no Mrs. Sarjeant. Anybody can see
he's paying her attention and she's letting him." Miss Lambkin shut
her lips with a snap. "Now, isn't he?"

Mrs. Upjohn did not answer her directly. She only laughed comfortably
and suggested that they go right up to the sewing-room.

"Patty made you quite a visit, didn't she?" Letty began again, while
she hunted scissors and needles and a tape. "Did you have to send her
off to Miss Miller's?"

Mrs. Upjohn shook her head.

"That's a good thing. It wouldn't have been pleasant," Miss Lambkin
resumed. "I hear that she's feeling real bitter towards Sally and that
Sally means to live somewhere else, whether Patty repairs the house or
not, but Patty won't hear to it. I notice, though, that nothing's been
done to the house yet. I'm told that Patty's going right at it. She'd
better, if she wants to live there before next summer, for this is
September and the builders are awful deliberate. Now that Doctor
Sanderson doesn't let the grass grow under his feet. Did you know that
his new hospital's going to be ready before cold weather? And he
hasn't been here, himself, more 'n a day at a time. Where's that
little cutting-table, Alicia? In your room? I'll just run in and get
it. You sit still."

Mrs. Upjohn did not like to trust Letty alone in her room, for she had
the eye of a hawk; but Letty was gone before she could prevent her.
She was back in a moment, and Mrs. Upjohn breathed more freely.

"As I was saying," Miss Lambkin continued, "that Doctor Sanderson had
better be looking out if he wants Sally Ladue. Maybe he don't, but I
notice that Eugene Spencer's fluttering around her again and
Everett's doing more'n flutter.

"It seems queer to think of Everett as anything but what he has been
for some years. He isn't much in favor with some of the older men. I
heard that Cap'n Forsyth said that he wouldn't trust him with a
slush-bucket. And that pup of a brother of Sally's is copying after
Everett as well as he can. He's going to college in a couple of weeks
and there's no telling what he'll be up to there. I'm glad I don't
have the running of him. Everett's no pattern to cut _my_ goods to."

"No," agreed Mrs. Upjohn soberly. "I can't think what has come over
Sally. I never thought she would be dazzled, though I won't deny that
Everett can be attractive."

"Come to that," snapped Miss Lambkin, "Everett's handsome and rich
and, as you say, he knows how to be attractive. Anyway, there's a
plenty that would be only too glad to have a chance at him. Now, if
you were of a suitable age, Alicia, you'd snap him up quick enough if
you had the chance, and you know it."

Mrs. Upjohn only murmured an unintelligible protest, but her color
rose. She would have snapped him up, and she knew it. Letty Lambkin
was really getting to be unbearable.



CHAPTER X


Charlie Ladue was a bright boy and a handsome boy, and he had good
enough manners. His attempts at seeming bored and uninterested only
amused certain intelligent persons in Cambridge, to whom he had
introductions, and attracted them. He was very young and rather
distinguished looking and these were the hallmarks of youth; of youth
which wishes to be thought of an experience prehistoric; of youth
which dreads nothing else so much as to appear young. He would get
over these faults quickly; and these intelligent persons laughed
quietly to themselves and continued to ask him to their houses--for a
time. But the faults rather grew upon him than lessened, so that he
became a nuisance and seemed likely to become worse, and they quietly
dropped him, before he was half through his freshman year.

His faults were his own, of course. Faults always are one's own when
all is said and done, and they usually come home to roost; but that
they had developed to such an extent was largely due to Patty's
indulgence and over-fondness. She was to blame, but not wholly. It is
hard to fix the blame, even supposing that it would help the matter to
fix it. When they came to Whitby, Sally was too young to oppose Miss
Patty, and for four years Charlie had no mother; much longer, indeed.
The circumstances may have been Charlie's undoing, but it is a little
difficult to see why the circumstances did not do the same for Sally,
and she was not undone yet. No, I am forced to the conclusion, that,
in Charlie's case, circumstances could not be held responsible for
anything more than hurrying things up a little.

As I said, Charlie was very young. He had passed his finals with
flying colors in the preceding June, nearly two months before his
seventeenth birthday, and he was but just seventeen when he began his
college career. Whatever may be said, seventeen is too young for a boy
to enter college and to be given the large liberties which a boy--a
college "man"--has in any of our large colleges. Eighteen or nineteen
is a much safer age, especially for a boy like Charlie Ladue. The
faults which I have mentioned soon disgusted and repelled the most
desirable elements in college and left him with--not one of--the least
desirable. Even with them he was only tolerated, never liked, and they
got out of him what they could. With them there was no incentive to
study, which was a pity, for Charlie did very well with a surprisingly
small amount of work, and would have done exceedingly well with a
little more, but he needed compulsion in some form. As it was, he very
soon got to doing just enough to keep himself afloat. He could study
hard when he had to, and he did.

Patty had got to work, at last, upon the repairs to her house. It was
October before she made up her mind and well into November before work
began; and builders are awful deliberate, as Miss Lambkin had
remarked. As the work went on, the time when the house would be ready
retreated gradually into the future. But Miss Patty consoled herself
with the thought that Charlie would not be able to help her occupy it
before the next summer anyway. Although she had insisted that Mrs.
Ladue and Sally should live there as soon as it was ready,--it was a
question of pride with Miss Patty, not a question of her wish in the
matter,--and although she was expecting them to live there, it was by
no means sure that Sally would consent to come. Miss Patty did not
trouble herself greatly about that. But the thought that Charlie might
not would have filled her with consternation. She was looking forward
to the Christmas recess, and to having Charlie with her for two weeks,
at least.

But when the Christmas recess arrived and work was over, Charlie,
feeling much relieved, sat down to a quiet evening with four
congenial spirits who also felt much relieved and who wished to
celebrate their temporary freedom in the only way they knew. I was
wrong in calling it the only way. It was one of the few ways they knew
in which to celebrate anything. When Charlie rose from the table,
about midnight, he felt rather desperate, for he had lost heavily. He
could not afford to lose heavily.

One of the congenial spirits saw the look upon his face and laughed.
"Don't you care, Ladue," he cried. "All is not lost. You needn't
commit suicide yet. We'll stake you. Haven't you got a dollar left?"

Charlie forced a sickly smile, which disappeared the instant he ceased
to force it. He pulled out the contents of his pockets. "I've got," he
answered, counting soberly, "just fifty-four cents in cash. They'll
expect me home to-night--they expected me last night," he corrected
himself, "I can't go, for I haven't got the price of a ticket. And
I've given you fellows my IOU's," he went on, looking up with an
attempt to face it out,--a pitiful attempt,--"for--how much, Ned?"

"Two hundred for mine," Ned replied, spreading Charlie's poor little
notes on the table. "Anybody else got 'em?" He looked around, but the
others shook their heads. "It seems to be up to me to lend you,
Ladue." Carelessly, he tossed a ten-dollar bill across the table. "Go
home on that and see if you can't work the house for three hundred or
so and take these up. Don't thank me." Charlie had taken the bill and
begun to speak. "I'm doing it for cash, not sentiment. What do you
suppose these IOU's are worth if you can't work somebody for the
money?"

Charlie, reduced to silence, pocketed the bill.

"I've a notion," Ned continued, "that I'll go to town and look in at
number seven. Luck's with me to-night. May do something there. Who
goes with me?"

The others professed the intention of going to bed.

"You know, don't you," Ned threw out as an inducement, "that some man
back in the nineties paid his way through college on number seven?
Made an average of three thousand a year."

"What's that story?" Charlie asked. "I haven't heard it."

Ned enlightened him. "It's nothing much," he said carelessly, "only
that some man--it may have been Jones or Smith--in the class of
ninety-something, used to go in to number seven regularly, two or
three times a week all through his four years here, and he made an
average of three thousand a year. Broke the bank twice."

Charlie was wide-eyed with amazement. "Why," he began, "if he could do
that, I don't see why--"

Ned laughed. "They have," he said. "Don't you run away with the idea
that number seven hasn't made a profit out of Davis or Jones or
whatever his name was. They advertise it all right. That story has
brought them in a great deal more than three thousand a year. But this
man had a system; a very simple one, and a very good one."

"What was it?" Charlie asked. "Can you tell me?"

"Certainly I can," Ned answered, smiling. "He had a cool head and he
knew when to stop. And there isn't one in three thousand that knows
when to stop, if they've got the bug."

"I don't see," Charlie remarked loftily, "why anybody wouldn't know
when to stop."

"Well, they don't, kid," Ned replied sharply.

Charlie was silent for a while, digesting the information he had
acquired. Ned got up to go.

"Will--will you take me, Ned?" Charlie asked hesitatingly.

Ned looked him over scornfully. The idea did not appeal to him. "You
don't want to go, Ladue," he said pityingly. At the bottom of his
heart he did not wish to be responsible in the remotest degree for
Charlie's career. It did not need a seer to guess at Charlie's
weakness. "Number seven is no place for you and I'd advise you to keep
out of it. It's a regular game, there; a man's game. They'd skin you
alive without a quiver. They won't take any of your pieces of paper
and they won't give you back any ten dollars, either. I wouldn't
advise you to go there, kid."

That "kid" settled it, if there was anything needed to settle what may
have been ordained from his birth. At any rate, it was ordained that
he should not overcome the inclination to that particular sin of his
father without a struggle, and if there was one special thing which
Charlie was not fitted to do it was to struggle in such a cause. He
flushed.

"Only to look on," he pleaded. "It was just to look on that I wanted
to go. I didn't mean to play, of course."

"No, of course not. They never do," Ned retorted cynically. Then he
considered briefly, looking at Charlie the while with a certain
disgust. Having given him advice which was certainly good, he had no
further responsibility in the matter. "All right," he said. "If you're
bound to go, I can get you by the nigger at the door, although he'd
probably let you in anyway. You're a very promising subject."

So it happened that Patty waited in vain for Charlie. For a day she
thought only that he must have been delayed--he was--and that,
perhaps, he was staying in Cambridge to finish something in connection
with his studies. She did not get so far as to try to imagine what it
was, but she wondered and felt some resentment against the college
authorities for keeping such a good boy as Charlie. On the second day
she began to wonder if he could have gone to Mrs. Stump's to see his
mother. She gave that question mature consideration and decided that
he had. On the third day she was anxious about him and would have
liked to go to Mrs. Ladue or to Sally and find out, but she did not
like to do that. And on the morning of the next day Sally saved her
the trouble by coming to ask about him.

Patty was too much frightened to remember her grievance against Sally.
"Why, Sally," she said in a voice that trembled and with her hand on
her heart, which had seemed to stop its beating for a moment, "I
thought he was with you."

Sally shook her head. "We thought he must be here."

"He hasn't been here," wailed poor Patty. "What can be keeping him?
Oh, do you suppose anything has happened to him?"

Sally's lip curled almost imperceptibly and the look in her eyes was
hard.

"I don't know, Patty, any more than you do."

"But I don't know anything," Patty cried. Sally gave a little laugh in
spite of herself. "What shall we do? Oh, what shall we do, Sally?"

Sally thought for an instant, and then she turned to Patty. "I will
take the noon train up."

"Oh, Sally!" It was a cry of relief. "Couldn't you telegraph first?
And couldn't you ask Doctor Beatty to go, instead, or Doctor
Sanderson?"

"I could ask Doctor Beatty to go, but I don't intend to," she said
finally, "and Fox is not here. His hospital isn't ready yet, you know.
They couldn't get him any more easily than I can. And as to
telegraphing, I don't think that would help."

"Well," said Patty doubtfully, "I don't--do you think you ought to go
alone?"

Sally turned and looked at her. "Why not?"

Before the gray eyes Patty's eyes fell. "I--I don't know, exactly. But
it hardly seems quite--quite proper for a girl to go alone to--to a
college room."

Sally chuckled. "I must risk it," she said. "I think I can. And if
Charlie is in any trouble I'll do my best to get him out of it."

"Oh, Sally!" It was not a cry of relief.

Sally paid no attention to that cry of Patty's. "I must go back to get
ready," she said. "I haven't any too much time."

But Sally did not take the noon train up. Just as she was leaving Mrs.
Stump's, she met Charlie coming in. He looked rather seedy and quite
forlorn.



CHAPTER XI


When Charlie went back, he was feeling rather elated, for he had two
hundred and fifty dollars in his pocket. That was all the cash Patty
could raise without making an appeal to Dick Torrington or making some
other arrangement which would have betrayed her, and that would not
have done. It would not have done at all. Sally might have heard of
it, and Patty, to tell the truth, was afraid of Sally. Sally was
so--so decided, you know, and so downright, and she could be so hard
about anything that concerned Charlie. Sally was not fair to
Charlie--the dear boy! What if he was a little extravagant? All young
men must have their fling. So Patty, with but the vaguest ideas of
what the fling was,--she could think only of fireworks and yelling,
although three hundred dollars will buy a great deal of fireworks and
yelling is cheap,--Patty, I say, feeling very low in pocket and in
spirits, bade Charlie an affectionate farewell and returned to Miss
Miller's. She spent the afternoon in casting up her accounts and in
biting the end of her pencil; occupations from which she derived but
little satisfaction. She could not seem to make the accounts come out
right and the end of a pencil, even the best, becomes a little cloying
to the taste in time.

Charlie's parting injunction had been really unnecessary. "Don't tell
Sally, will you, Patty?" he had said in a voice from which he tried in
vain to keep the note of exultation. There was little danger of that.
Patty was as anxious as Charlie was to keep all knowledge of the
transaction from Sally. And Patty sighed and cast up her accounts all
over again. There was no escape from it. She must look the matter in
the face. The absence of that two hundred and fifty would make a great
difference to her; it would leave her absolutely without ready money
for more than a month, or--or, perhaps,--and she stared out of the
window with unseeing eyes--she could manage to borrow--or ask Miss
Miller to trust her--or somebody--But that would not make up half and
everybody would know about it; and she sighed again and put down the
remains of the pencil with its chewed end and put the paper into her
waste-basket. She had given it up. She would trust to luck. She never
was any good at arithmetic anyway.

What specious arguments Charlie had used to persuade her I do not
know. It does not matter and she probably did not give them much
attention. Charlie wanted the money. That was the point with her as it
was the point with him. What were arguments and explanations? Mere
words. But she noted that his watch was gone. Patty, herself, had
given it to him only the year before. She could not help asking about
that, in a somewhat hesitating and apologetic way.

Charlie set her doubts at rest at once. "Oh, that?" he said
carelessly. "It needed cleaning and I left it." He gave the same
answer to Sally when she asked about it.

"Huh!" was Sally's only answer, as she turned away.

Charlie had not said anything in reply, although that monosyllable of
Sally's, which expressed much, had made him angry enough to say almost
anything, if only he knew what to say. He didn't; and the very fact
that he didn't made him angrier than ever. He stammered and stuttered
and finished by clearing his throat, at which performance Sally smiled
heartlessly.

Charlie had been badly shaken and had not had time to recover. But
neither Sally nor Patty had an idea of what Charlie had been through.
It was just as well that they had not; just as well for Charlie's
comfort and for Patty's. Sally had more imagination than Patty had and
she had had more experience. She could picture to herself any number
of scrapes that Charlie might have got himself into and they did not
consist solely of fireworks and yelling. They were much nearer the
truth than that vague image of Patty's, and if Sally did not hit upon
the exact situation it is to be remembered that she did not know about
the money which Charlie had succeeded in extracting from Patty.

But Sally's imaginings were bad enough. They were sufficient to
account for her heavy heart, although they were not necessary to
account for it. Sally usually had a heavy heart now, which was a great
pity and not necessary either. What had come over her? It troubled her
mother to see her so depressed. She may have attributed it to the
wrong cause or she may not. Mothers are very apt to be right about
such matters. Her anxious eyes followed Sally about. Finally she could
not refrain from speaking.

"Sally, dear," she asked, "what is the matter?"

Sally smiled a pitiful little smile. "Why, I don't know, mother. Is
anything the matter?"

"Something must be. A girl like you doesn't get so low-spirited for
nothing. It has been going on for nearly a year now. What is it,
Sally? Can't you tell me, dear?"

"I wish I could, mother. I wish I knew. If I knew, I would tell you. I
don't. I only know that nothing seems to be worth while and that I
can't care about anything. A pity, isn't it?" And Sally smiled again.

"Sally, don't! If you smile like that again you will make me cry."

"I won't make you cry, mother. It is no trouble for me to keep from
smiling."

"Are you--aren't you well, Sally?"

Sally stretched her arms above her head. She was getting to be rather
a magnificent woman. "I can't raise a single symptom," she said. "I'm
absolutely well, I think. You might get Doctor Beatty to prod me and
see if he can find anything wrong."

"I would rather have Fox."

Sally flushed very faintly. "Not Fox, mother. I didn't mean it,
really. I'm sure there is nothing the matter with my health. I could
give you a catalogue: appetite good--fairly good, I sleep well, I--I
can't think of anything else."

"Mind?" her mother asked, smiling.

"A blank," said Sally promptly, with a hint of her old brightness. "My
mind is an absolute blank. So there you are where you started."

"Is it your teaching, dear? Are you too tired?"

"Do I look as if I ought to be tired?" Sally returned scornfully. She
did not look so, certainly. She was taller than her mother and
long-limbed and lean, and she looked fit to run races or climb trees
or to do anything else that required suppleness and quickness and to
do it exceedingly well. "I ought to be ashamed of myself and I am, but
I feel as if I could murder those children and do it cheerfully;
without a single pang. It makes me wonder whether I am fitted to
teach, after all."

"Oh, Sally!"

Sally made no reply, but sat down on the bed and gazed out of the
window at nothing in particular. To be sure, she could not have seen
anything worth while: only the side of the next house, not fifty feet
away, and the window of a bedroom. She could have seen into the room,
if she had been at all curious, and have seen the chambermaid moving
about there.

Mrs. Ladue looked at her daughter sitting there so apathetically. She
looked long and her eyes grew more anxious than ever. Sally did not
seem to be aware of the scrutiny.

"Sally," she began hesitatingly.

Sally turned her head. "Well?"

"I have heard some rumors, Sally," Mrs. Ladue went on, hesitating more
than ever, "about--about Everett. I didn't believe there was any truth
in them and I have said so. I was right, wasn't I? There isn't
anything, is there?"

"What sort of thing?" Sally did not seem to care. "What were the
rumors, mother?"

"Why," said her mother, with a little laugh of embarrassment, "they
were most absurd; that Everett was paying you marked attention and
that you were encouraging him."

"No, that is not so. I have not encouraged him."

Her answer seemed to excite Mrs. Ladue. "Well, is it true that he
is--that he has been paying you attention for a long time?"

"I have seen him more or less, but it is nothing that I have been
trying to conceal from you. What does it matter?"

"It matters very much, dear; oh, very much." Mrs. Ladue was silent for
a moment. "Then I gather," she resumed in a low voice, "that you have
not discouraged his attentions?"

"No," Sally replied listlessly, "I have not discouraged them. Assuming
that they are anything more than accident, I--what do I care? It makes
no difference to me."

"Oh, Sally!" Tears came into Mrs. Ladue's eyes. "You must know better
than any one else whether he means anything or not; what his
intentions are."

"He may not have any intentions," Sally answered. "I don't know what
he means--but that is not true; not strictly. I know what he says, but
not what he thinks. I don't believe there is anybody who knows what
Everett thinks." And she gave a little laugh which was almost worse
than one of her smiles. "His intentions, assuming that he has any, are
well enough."

The situation seemed to be worse than Mrs. Ladue had imagined in her
most doubtful moments. "But, Sally," she said anxiously, "is
there--oh, I hate to ask you, but I must. Is there any kind of an
understanding between you and Everett?"

"Not on my part, mother," Sally replied rather wearily. "Now let's
talk about something else."

"Be patient with my questions just a little longer," said her mother
gently. "I can't drop the subject there. Has--do you think Everett has
any right to understand anything that you don't? Have you let him
understand anything?"

Sally did not answer for what seemed to her mother a long time. "I
don't know," she answered at last, "what he thinks. To be perfectly
plain, Everett has not asked me to marry him, but he may feel sure
what my answer would be if he did decide to. I don't know. He is a
very sure kind of a person, and he has reason to be. That is the
extent of the understanding, as you call it."

"But, surely, you know what your answer would be," remonstrated Mrs.
Ladue in a low voice. "It isn't right, Sally, to let him think one
thing when you mean to do the opposite. I hope," she added, struck by
a fresh doubt--a most uncomfortable doubt, "that you do mean to do the
opposite. There can be no question about that, can there?"

"I don't know," Sally replied slowly, "what I should do. I've thought
about it and I don't know."

Mrs. Ladue's hand went up to her heart involuntarily, and she made no
reply for some time. "Drifting?" she asked at last.

Sally looked toward her mother and smiled. "Drifting, I suppose. It's
much the easiest."

Mrs. Ladue's hand was still at her heart, which was beating somewhat
tumultuously.

"Don't, Sally! Don't, I beg of you. Your whole life's happiness
depends upon it. Remember your father. Everett's principles are no
better than his, I feel sure. You have been so--so sturdy, Sally.
Don't spoil your life now. You will find your happiness." She was on
the verge of telling her, but she checked herself in time. That was
Fox's business. He might be right, after all. "This mood of yours will
pass, and then you would wear your life out in regrets. Say that you
won't do anything rash, Sally."

"Don't worry, mother. It really doesn't matter, but I won't do
anything rash. There!" She laughed and kissed her mother. "I hope that
satisfies you. You were getting quite excited."

Mrs. Ladue had been rather excited, as Sally said. Now she was crying
softly.

"You don't know what this means to me, Sally, and I can't tell you. I
wish--oh, I wish that I had your chance! You may be sure that I
wouldn't throw it away. You may be sure I wouldn't." She wiped her
eyes and smiled up at Sally. "There! Now I am all right and very much
ashamed of myself. Run along out, dear girl. You don't get enough of
out-of-doors, Sally."

So Sally went out. She meant to make the most of what was left of the
short winter afternoon. She hesitated for a moment at the foot of the
steps. "It's Fisherman's Cove," she said then quite cheerfully. "And I
don't care when it gets dark or anything."



CHAPTER XII


Fisherman's Cove was a long way from Mrs. Stump's boarding-house, but
that fact gave Sally no concern. And Fisherman's Cove was much changed
from the Cove that Uncle John used to tell her about, where he had
been used to go to see the men haul the seines. Its waters had been
fouled by the outpourings of a sewer, and the fish had deserted them
years before; but that would not make the ice any the less attractive
with a young moon shining upon it.

And the way to Fisherman's Cove was not the way that Uncle John had
been in the habit of taking. His way, fifty years before, had led him
out upon a quiet country road until he came to a little lane that led
down, between high growths of bushes, to a little farmhouse. The
farmhouse had overlooked the Cove. Sally could not go through the
little lane to the little old farmhouse, because the farmhouse was not
there now, and because there was a horrible fence of new boards right
across the lane. They had been building mills on the shores of
Fisherman's Cove for thirty years; and the ice ponds on which the boys
and girls of thirty years before used to skate--Miss Patty had skated
there, often--were no longer ice ponds, but thriving mill villages,
with their long rows of brilliantly lighted windows and their neat
tenements, the later ones of three stories, each story having its neat
clothes-porch. If you don't know what a clothes-porch is, just go down
there and see for yourself. And these neat tenements of three stories
each sheltered I don't know how many families of Portuguese
mill-workers, who may have been neat, but who probably were not.
Thriving! Ugh! as Miss Patty invariably said, turning her head away.
She did not have to go that way often, but when she did have to she
preferred to shut her eyes until her horse had taken her past it all.

Besides, Mrs. Stump's was not on Apple Tree Street, but in a much less
fashionable neighborhood; one which had been fashionable some seventy
or eighty years before. As fashion left that street and moved upon the
ridge, the fine old houses--for they were fine old houses, even
there--gradually fell in their estate. The way from Mrs. Stump's to
Fisherman's Cove did not lie by that thriving mill village which has
been mentioned, but by other thriving mill villages, with their
tenements which, being older, were presumably not so neat. There was
little to choose between the ways. Either was disagreeable enough,
especially at any time when the hands were in the street, and no girl
would have chosen such a time to walk upon that road. Even Sally would
have avoided it; but the mill-hands were now shut up in their mills
and working merrily or otherwise, and she did not give the matter a
thought.

As she started upon her road, a man who had been leaning negligently
upon a post at the next corner, bestirred himself, unleaned, and came
toward her. Sally glanced up at him and stopped. "Oh, dear!" she said,
in a voice of comical dismay. "Oh, dear! And I promised mother that I
wouldn't do anything rash."

The man continued to come toward her. He had a leisurely air of
certainty which ordinarily would have antagonized Sally at once.

"Well, Sally?" he said questioningly, when he was near enough to be
heard without raising his voice.

"Well, Everett," Sally returned, with some sharpness. "I should really
like to know what you were doing on that corner."

"Doing?" he asked in surprise. "Why, nothing at all. I was only
waiting for you."

"And why," she said, with more sharpness than before, "if you were
waiting for me, didn't you come to the house and wait there?"

"I don't like to go to boarding-houses and wait," he replied, smiling.
"I have a prejudice against boarding-houses, although I have no doubt
that Mrs. Stump's is an excellent house. And my going there might
excite some comment."

"Is it your idea," Sally retorted quickly, "that your waiting on the
next corner will not excite comment? There has been too much comment
already."

"Well, Sally, what if there has been a certain amount of it? We don't
care, do we?"

"I am not sure that we don't," she answered slowly, looking him in the
face thoughtfully. "I am not sure. In fact, I think we do."

He flushed a little under her direct gaze. That subject was not to be
pursued.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"I am going for a walk," she replied; "for a long walk. And I--"

"Then you'd better ride," he said quickly, interrupting her. "I can
get Sawny in five minutes. Where will you be?"

"No," Sally spoke earnestly. "Don't. I'd rather not. I prefer to walk.
And, Everett, I'd rather you wouldn't go with me. I want to take this
walk alone."

Everett was surprised. It was rather a shock to find that he wasn't
wanted.

"Oh," he said coldly. "Very well. I hope you will have a most pleasant
walk to--wherever you are going."

Sally's heart was too tender. Everett seemed hurt, and she didn't like
to feel that she had hurt him. "I am going to Fisherman's Cove," she
said.

"Fisherman's Cove! But you know that will take you through the heart
of milltown."

"Yes, but the mills aren't out. I'll come back early."

"It's not a way for a girl to choose."

Sally smiled. "I'll be all right, I think."

Everett shrugged his shoulders. "You'd much better let me drive you.
We can go to the Cove as well as elsewhere."

Sally shook her head gently.

"As you please," he said; and he shrugged again and turned away.

Sally looked after him for a moment. "Oh, dear," she sighed. "Now I've
offended him--mortally, I suppose. But it doesn't matter. I was
forgetting. Nothing really matters." It didn't matter. It might be
better if she had offended him mortally if he would stay offended.

So Sally put aside all thoughts of Everett and resumed her walk. She
had no great difficulty in putting aside thoughts of him. I do not
know what her thoughts were, as she walked on towards the Cove, but it
is safe to say that they were not of Everett. She must have been
thinking pretty deeply of something, for she took her way
unconsciously and without seeing where she was going; and she passed
the few people that she met without seeing them or being conscious
that they were there. Walking so, like one asleep, she came to the end
of that street, where it runs into River Street.

River Street is a dirty street. Its best friends could not say more
for it. The reason is not far to seek; and a part of that reason is
that, for many years--say sixty years or even seventy--it has served
for a residence street for the same class of people. Residence street
is perhaps rather a high-sounding name for it. You may use any other
words that you like better, for River Street, from the point where
Sally entered it to within a half-dozen blocks of the centre of the
town, was, for long years, the one place where certain people lived.
It was so wholly given up to those people that it was known as Fayal;
and Fayal had a reputation which was not altogether savory. The
inhabitants of this local Fayal were, in the old days, sailors, and
sailors of the roughest sort; with crimps and sharks and women of
several kinds, and an occasional overlord. There were no mills to
speak of, twenty-five years ago, at this end of the town. When the
mills began to come, the inhabitants of Fayal--at least, some of
them--sent for their friends from the islands, and the friends, in
turn, sent for their families; the old sailor class, the rough men
with gold hoops in their ears, gradually died off and the reputation
of River Street improved. Like the street itself, it is not yet
altogether savory.

At River Street, Sally began to find herself among the tenements, for
Fayal had lain in the other direction and the old River Street had
faded out, right here, into the remains of a country road which ended
at the beach, not half a mile beyond. There was no country road now,
and the less said about this particular part of the beach the better.

Sally paused for an instant and looked about her. From this point on,
River Street was a continuous row of tenements, very neat and tidy
tenements, no doubt, at a distance. There was no gleam in that same
distance which betokened the Cove, only the neat and tidy tenements,
horribly neat and tidy. Sally felt a sinking of the heart or somewhere
about that region, although I believe it is not the heart that sinks.

"Oh, dear!" she exclaimed, under her breath. "I had forgotten that it
was so forlorn. I will hurry through it. I wish I could shut my eyes,
as Patty does, but I suppose I shall need to see."

So she hurried along, past the rows of tenements, past the few women
that she met and past the small children playing in the street. The
women paid no attention to her, being intent upon their own business
and having enough of it to keep them well occupied. She passed a mill,
with its throbbing of looms and its clattering and clicking of
spindles. The long rows of windows were just beginning to be lighted
as she passed. She went on, past more tenements, less closely set, and
past another mill. The windows of this second mill were already
lighted, and the same throbbing and clattering came faintly to her
ears. In front of this mill was a broad street, almost a square, and
beyond the street an open lot,--I had almost said a field, but it
lacked one essential to being a field,--evidently used by the
population, old and young, as a playground. This lot was surrounded by
the remains of an old stone wall, a relic of the better days, when it
had been a field. Now, there was no vestige of vegetation; no living
thing. A pig would have died of starvation in that lot. Both street
and lot were covered with frozen mud and dirty snow, and a film of
repulsive dirt, that would not wash off, coated the old stones of the
wall. The whole place filled Sally with disgust. If these mills had to
be somewhere, why must they put them here? Why must they? Weren't
there other places, without robbing--

Sally broke off. She had been almost talking aloud to herself in
fierce rebellion. Mills! Mills! Nothing but mills! They had taken up
every foot of the shore in Whitby except what was occupied by the
wharves. What were the people thinking of, that they suffered it? They
had seen foot after foot, mile after mile, of shore given to the
mills, and not a single feeble voice had been raised to prevent. They
had seen the mills stretch forth surreptitious, grasping hands and
take unto themselves pieces of their beautiful old shore road, a
quarter of a mile at a time. That road had been unequaled for beauty,
thirty years before. Sally had heard Patty speak of it often, mourning
its loss. She, herself, had seen great stretches of that shore taken
by the mills within the past ten years, and she had not known enough
to speak or even to care. The people were mill-mad--or sleeping.
Well--and Sally sighed--a haughty spirit before destruction; just
before it, she hoped. A thousand times rather the few hardened
sailor-men in their place than that horde everywhere.

It is to be feared that Sally was getting excited; and it is to be
feared that she was not truly democratic. Well, she was not and she
never pretended to be. What of it? She never pretended to be what she
was not. And as she thought these thoughts, she came out from behind
the third mill and gave a little gasp of delight. There lay
Fisherman's Cove, its frozen surface saffron and blue and crimson; and
the clouds above golden and saffron and crimson, with lavender and
purple in the shadows. The sun had just gone down behind another mill
on the opposite shore. Sally stumbled on--she didn't dare take her
eyes off that--but she stumbled on, as fast as she could, past the few
scattered tenements which lay between her and the open road, and she
sat down on a great stone that was part of the old sea-wall. For at
this point the road ran close to the waters of the Cove, and the
beach, with its load of broken ice, was at her feet. And she sighed
again and sat there, watching, and a great peace fell upon her spirit
and she was content.

Sally gazed, first at the sky and then at the ice of the Cove; and the
golden lights upon the clouds changed to saffron and the saffron to
crimson and the purple deepened. In the ice, the green which had
lingered in places changed to blue and the blue to indigo and the
saffron and crimson darkened and were gone. Ah! This was worth while.
Was anything else worth while? What did she care, sitting there, for
schools or mills or anything, indeed, but sitting there and gazing?
She half turned and looked out into the bay where sky and water meet.
She could not tell which was water and which was sky, for both had
become a dull slate-blue. She looked again at the Cove. The color had
gone, but there was a faint silvery light from a young moon which hung
above the mill on the opposite shore. And from the windows of the mill
shone other lights. These mills were rather picturesque at night and
at a distance; they were rather pretty--of a kind. Sally did not care
for that kind. The greater the distance, the more picturesque they
were. Sally laughed to herself at the thought. Her laugh was gay
enough and it would have done her mother's heart good to hear it. She
was content; so content that she took no heed of the time, but she sat
there until the young moon had sunk, in its turn, almost to the mill,
and she roused herself and found that she was cold, which was not
strange. And it was too late for a girl to be going past the mills;
which was not strange either. If she was going, she had better be
about it. So she got up from the great stone, took a last long look at
the fast-darkening sky, shivered and started back, at a good pace,
along the road.

She passed the last mill and, as she came to the corner of the fence,
she heard the roar of many feet coming out. They burst through the
doorway and she heard them pattering on the frozen mud behind her. But
it was dark and she was well ahead.

At the second mill, the one of the broad square and the open lot, she
saw the crowd of mill-hands pouring out of the gate as she approached.
The crowd swelled and overflowed the sidewalk and then the street and
poured over the wall into the lot, slowly, like some huge stream of
molasses. As Sally continued on her way, she met this human stream
coming toward her; but it divided before her and closed behind her,
letting her through slowly. They are a peaceable, law-abiding set, for
the most part, but the mill lays its heavy hand upon them. The older
ones among them went stolidly to their kennels; but a few of the
mill-girls looked after Sally and made quite audible remarks about her
and giggled and laughed and nudged the men. And the men--the young
men--looked back at her and thought--but I don't know what they
thought. I only know that two of them, of mixed race, turned and
followed on after her.

Sally was not aware that she was being followed, but many of the
mill-girls were, and the giggling and the laughter grew, until Sally
turned to see the cause. Having seen, she did not change her pace, but
pursued her way steadily without again looking back or seeming to know
of her two followers. The crowd ahead, going north, and the crowd
behind her, going south, were well separated by this time, and there
was a wide space between them. In this space were only Sally and the
two men, now close behind her, and a few stragglers. In this way they
went on for some distance, while the crowd ahead gradually melted away
into the tenements on either side; and they were within a few blocks
of the corner where Sally would turn off of River Street. The street
was not well lighted and it was deserted.

The men came up, one on either side of Sally, and one of them said
something to her, too vile to be recorded. Sally kept her eyes
straight ahead and she thought rapidly. She was not exactly
frightened, but she was thinking what she had better do. It would do
little good to scream. The outcome of such a course was doubtful and,
besides, Sally was not the kind of a girl who screams easily or at
all. She meditated fighting. She could have put up a good fight; but
there were two of the men and they would have been pleased with a
fight, two men against one girl. What else was there for her to do?
She could run, and she could run well; so well that there was an even
chance, perhaps, that she could run faster and last longer than those
mill-trained men. Eight or ten years of the mill do not help a man's
lungs much or his morals. The dust, you know,--it seems to get into
their morals as well as into their lungs. If only she didn't have
skirts to bother her; but her skirt was neither tight nor very long.

The man repeated his vile speech; and Sally darted away, gathering her
skirts as she ran.

The men had been taken by surprise, but they put out after her as fast
as they could, laughing. This was sport; and although laughter is not
recommended for runners, they managed to gain a little at first. After
that first burst, they ceased to gain, but they held their own, and
the chase sped merrily along River Street, a scant five yards
separating the hunters from their quarry. Sally reached her corner and
turned off of River Street, passing under the light of a street lamp
as she made the turn. Coming down that street was a man. Sally did not
see very well, for he was not in the full light and, besides, her eyes
were full of tears because of her running. But the man gave a start
and an exclamation and he began to run and he ran into those men like
a locomotive, and he swung at one of them and hit him and knocked him
into the middle of the street, so that he landed on the back of his
neck in the roadway and lay limp and still. The other would have run
away, but the man caught him around the neck with his left hand and
cast him as far as his fellow, rolling over and over.

"Damn you!" he cried low. "No, you don't. Damn you!"

Doubtless he was forgiven that cry, even as Sally forgave it. She had
stopped and was leaning against a fence. When she saw the men go into
the street, one after the other, she gave a quick chuckle of delight.
She may have been a little hysterical. It would not have been strange.

The second man who had been so summarily cast into the road was rising
slowly, muttering and half sobbing. The first man continued to lie
limp and still, and the man who had cast him there advanced slowly
toward him; upon which that other ceased beating the dust from his
clothes and edged away, muttering more loudly threats and
vituperations. The man continued to advance, but he raised his head
into the full light from the street lamp and he laughed shortly.

"You'd better be off," he said. "Get out, and hurry about it."

Sally saw his face well enough in the dim light and she knew the
voice. She had not really needed to recognize either, for she knew
well enough, in her heart, who it was that had come to her aid in the
nick of time. She chuckled again with delight, then drew a shivering
breath and gave a sob. There was no doubt about it, Sally was
hysterical. She knew that she was and she stifled the sob in her
throat. She despised hysterics. And she laughed a little because she
couldn't help it, and she went to him.

He was kneeling in the road and he had the man's head upon one knee
and was feeling him gently. He raised his head as she came near.

"I can't tell whether I have hurt him or not. It's awkward. We can't
leave him lying here in the street, although he deserves no better
treatment. I wish I had a horse here. You don't happen to know of one,
do you, Sally?"

"N--no," she answered slowly, "not near here. I suppose I could get
Sawny, if you would wait."

Fox laughed. "I don't want to ask Everett for Sawny."

"Neither do I." The sound of a horse's hoofs came to them faintly.
"There's one now. I'll run to the corner and stop him." And, before
Fox could make any reply, she was off, running.

The sound of the horse's hoofs stopped and presently came on, down the
street.

"Hello!" cried a voice. "Is that Doctor Sanderson? What can I do?"

"It's Eugene Spencer, Fox," remarked Sally, getting out. "Wasn't that
luck?"

"Yes," said Jane, "wasn't it? Shall I take Sally home?"

Fox and Sally both preferred that he should take the man.

"I hate to ask you to take him out to my hospital," said Fox
apologetically, "but I don't know of anything better. I'll telephone
them before you can get there, and I'll be out within an hour. I don't
think he's seriously hurt."

So they bundled the man in, and Jane drove off, rather crestfallen.
For his part, he thought that he ought to take Sally home first, at
least. The man still lurking in the shadows hurled vile epithets and
obscenities and ran after Jane.

Fox laughed a little, nervously. "Hope he has a pleasant chase. He'll
hardly catch Spencer." Eugene was already at the corner. "My first
patient, Sally, although the Retreat is not open yet. This man is not
the kind of patient I shall hope to have, but it seemed better to send
him there and avoid publicity. We can take good care of him. Hello!"

There was some kind of an uproar just around the corner. It lasted
only a moment and then Eugene came driving back, alone.

"That man of yours," he said, pulling up short, "recovered very
suddenly, rolled out, and the pair of them ran down the street like
scared rabbits. I didn't chase them, for I thought that you would
probably be glad enough to get rid of him."

"I am," Fox replied, with evident relief. "He can't be much hurt. I'm
much obliged to you, Spencer."

"Shan't I take Sally home? Or there's room for both of you, if you
don't mind a little crowding."

"We will walk home, thank you, Jane," said Sally, with the finality he
had come to expect. "I haven't seen Fox for a long time and I have a
lot to say to him."

So Eugene, muttering something under his breath, made a very short
turn, in which process he very nearly tipped over, and gave his horse
a cut with the whip. The animal, which was not expecting this and did
not deserve it, gave a bound and they were gone.

Sally chuckled. "Display of temper on Mr. Spencer's part," Fox
observed, "wholly uncalled for. Bad for the horse, too. I judge that
he is not the equal of Everett as a horse trainer."

Sally's chuckling broke out afresh. "No, he's not, I'm afraid. Those
displays of temper are not unusual. Now, Fox, come along."

Fox was a little surprised--just a little--to feel Sally's hand within
his arm, but he did know better than to show his surprise, if there
were some things that he didn't know. If he had only known,
he--well--but Sally was speaking to him.

"Now, Fox," she was saying, "how in the world did you happen to turn
up just at that moment? You were in the nick of time."

"Oh, I don't know about that. You would probably have left them. They
were about all in, both of them. But I didn't happen to turn up. It
wasn't any accident. I was looking for you."

Unconsciously, Sally tightened her hold upon his arm. "Oh," she
murmured, "that was nice!"

"I only got here this afternoon," Fox continued, paying no obvious
attention to her murmured remark, "and I went right to Mrs. Stump's. I
found your mother a little upset and rather anxious, but I didn't
succeed in finding out what it was about." He did not say--perhaps he
did not know--how upset Mrs. Ladue had been. She had been torn by
conflicting emotions, and she showed evidences of it. But there had
been never a moment's hesitation about the course she would pursue.
Only she had raised troubled, tearful eyes to Fox, and had said--but
what Mrs. Ladue had said forms no part of this chronicle. Whatever she
said, she did not tell him clearly of the rumors connecting Everett's
name with Sally's. He would hear those rumors soon enough, if there
was anything in them; if there was not, for that matter.

Sally had been thinking. "I am afraid," she said softly, "that it was
about me. I hoped she was all over it when I left."

Fox turned his head and looked at her, but he did not reply to her
remark directly. "She said that you had gone for a walk, but she
didn't know where. I waited a long time, thinking you might come in.
Your mother and I had a long talk."

Sally would have given a good deal to know what the long talk was
about. "It--it isn't true, Fox," she began slowly.

"What! It is true, too. We talked for an hour and forty minutes, while
I was waiting. I know."

Sally laughed nervously. "I--I meant that anything you may hear about
me isn't true."

"Clear as mud, Sally. Well, I'll remember. Anything that I hear about
you isn't true. But I'm not likely to hear the voice of rumor
especially if it's about you."

Sally made no reply to this, and Fox went on. "When it began to grow
dark, I made some inquiries, and I found a certain person who had seen
you go out; and you had met a man at the next corner--Who was the man,
Sally?"

"Everett," Sally replied briefly; and she started to say more, but
thought better of it--or worse, as you like--and shut her lips tight
together.

"Oh, yes, she said she thought it was Everett. I thought that,
perhaps, she was mistaken."

"No," said Sally, "she was not mistaken."

"Hum!" said Fox, smiling to himself; but Sally could not see that.
"And this exceedingly well-informed person said that you and Everett
evidently had a spat on the street corner, and that he went off, mad."

"Yes," said Sally, nodding. She might have known that Fox couldn't see
the nod.

"Too bad!" said Fox. "Exemplary young man--especially one who has seen
the world and who has as perfect manners as Everett wishes it to be
thought that he has--shouldn't go off mad. Very young. It reminds one
of your young friend, Spencer. We should expect him to go off mad,
shouldn't we, Sally?"

Sally chuckled again. "We should."

"Well," Fox resumed, "finding that you had been last seen hiking down
the street without male escort, Everett having got mad and declined to
play and gone home,--it is to be hoped that he had gone home,--I put
out after you, lippety-clippety. All the male inhabitants of Whitby
seem to think that is their chief end in life."

"Oh, Fox," said Sally faintly, "they don't."

"They do," Fox insisted; "all except Dick." He laughed. "Speaking of
Dick reminds me that I have something to tell you if you don't let me
forget it. Well, loping along that way, I came to the historic
corner--of what street?"

"River Street. How did you happen to come that way?"

"Followed my nose. You had gone along this street. So did I. You came
to the corner. So did I, and I nearly ran into you."

She shivered a little. Fox felt it, and held his arm closer to him.

"Are you cold, Sally?"

"No." She spoke low. "But I'm glad you came, Fox. I'm very glad."

"So am I, for several reasons not to be catalogued at present." They
had almost reached Mrs. Stump's. "Oh, I was going to tell you
something in connection with Dick. Henrietta's engaged. She wanted me
to tell you. So, it is to be presumed, is Dick."

"I'm very glad, but I'm not surprised. I don't suppose Henrietta
expected me to be."

"She didn't mention it, so you don't have to be."

"I'll write to her to-night. So that accounts for Dick's mysterious
disappearances."

"He's been visiting us at your old place, Sally. He was so much
interested in seeing your favorite trees and in hearing about you,
that Henrietta felt rather jealous."

Sally laughed derisively. They were standing at the foot of Mrs.
Stump's fine granite steps. Fox was silent for a moment, looking at
Sally.

"I know," he said at last thoughtfully, "I know where there are some
gynesaurus trees near Whitby."

Sally's face lighted up. "Could a person climb them, Fox?"

"A person about twenty-two years old?" asked Fox. "I should think she
might if she is able."

"She is able," she returned, nodding emphatically. "Will you tell me
where they are?"

"Some day," Fox answered, not looking at her, "I will show them to
you."



CHAPTER XIII


Sally was in rather better spirits for some time after that walk to
Fisherman's Cove, although there is some doubt whether the improvement
was due to her brief sight of the Cove under a winter sun and moon or
to realization of the fact that a great number of people were worse
off than she or to her break with Everett or to seeing Fox again. But
her break with Everett was of only a temporary nature, a fact which he
made very evident to her, at least, and, incidentally, to Miss Miller
and to Miss Lambkin and to Mrs. Upjohn and to many others; and, as for
seeing Fox, she had been enjoying that privilege for twelve years,
from time to time. To be sure, it had occasionally been a long while
from time to time, but that had not seemed to trouble Sally. So,
altogether, we are forced to abandon the inquiry as fruitless. Sally,
if we had asked her, would have smiled and would have answered quite
truly that she didn't know and she didn't care. It was the fact which
was most important; the fact was, indeed, of the only importance,
except to persons like Miss Letty Lambkin, who are never satisfied
with the simple facts of life, but must dig down until they find
certain diseased roots, which they fondly believe, without further
tracing, to be the roots of those facts, but which, more often than
not, do not belong to them at all, but to some other tree.

Fox's hospital had had an opening, to which the inhabitants of Whitby
were invited. Whitby, in a way, was as exclusive as Philadelphia, and
Fox's cards of invitation were addressed only to those fortunate
persons living in a certain restricted area. That area was bounded, on
the east, by the Cow Path, although a few cards found their way down
the hill as far as Mrs. Stump's and Miss Miller's. Consequently,
Patty went and so did Mrs. Ladue and Sally. It might have been a
reception, for they found there nearly the whole of the élite of
Whitby and no one else, and the whole of the hospital staff were
engaged in showing small parties of the aforesaid élite over the
hospital and the farm connected with it. The hospital staff had no
other engagements, there being no patients yet. Patty was delighted
with it--and with the staff--and expressed her intention of coming out
to board as soon as the spring opened. And Fox, to whom this speech
was addressed--it was delivered in rather a coquettish manner, all
Miss Patty's own--smiled and bowed and made no reply. Perhaps no reply
was expected. Fox had heard many such remarks. He would have his
patients from among the makers of them.

As soon as he could, Fox took Mrs. Ladue and Sally out over the farm.
Patty was deep in conversation with Doctor Beatty. So he missed her,
to his great regret, he said. But, never mind. She'll have a chance to
see it. And thereupon he smiled enigmatically, and proceeded to show
them what had been done. He was proud of it. When he had shown them
all of it, he waved his hand toward the old cream-colored square
house.

"My residence," he said. "I am afraid that it will have to remain shut
up as it is, for the present. Henrietta's change of plan--or, I
shouldn't say that, perhaps--her engagement knocks my scheme of things
in the head. She is to be married in June, you know."

"But, Fox," Mrs. Ladue exclaimed, "surely, you don't mean that you
won't open the house at all!" She was sorry for him. Why did he have
to miss the satisfaction of living in his own house? Such a house,
too!

He nodded. "I don't see any prospect of it," he answered, rather
gloomily for him; "at least," he added, with a short laugh, "until I
am married. There is really no reason for it, you know. There is
likely to be room enough at this end of the establishment for some
time."

It was Margaret Savage he referred to, Sally supposed. At least,
Henrietta, she remembered, had said--had intimated it. Suddenly, she
hated the old house.

"It's a shame," Mrs. Ladue said softly. "It's a perfect shame, Fox.
If--if you want to live in it, there's no reason--"

Fox shook his head. "It wouldn't be best or wise, dear Mrs. Ladue," he
said gently. "I can wait."

"Aren't you going to show it to us?" asked Mrs. Ladue then, with
heightened color. "We should like to see the inside, shouldn't we,
Sally?"

But Sally did not have a chance to reply. "Not to-day," said Fox.
"Sometime, soon, I hope, but not to-day."

He said no more and Mrs. Ladue said nothing and Sally said nothing;
and they went in again, by unanimous consent, and presently Mrs. Ladue
and Sally and Patty drove away, although so early a departure was much
against Patty's inclination. They would not have succeeded in getting
her to go at all but that Fox took Doctor Beatty off to show him
something, and Doctor Beatty thanked him, although he did not make it
clear whether it was for wanting to show him the something or for
taking him away. But Meriwether Beatty had shown a capacity for
leaving Patty when he felt like it, so that I am forced to conclude
that that had nothing to do with his thanks. When they got back to
Mrs. Stump's they found a letter from Charlie waiting for them on the
hall table. I may add that Patty found a letter from Charlie, also,
but it was not like the one to his mother and Sally. It differed from
theirs in several important particulars.

Charlie wrote a letter home every week, with unfailing regularity. It
was a perfunctory letter, filled with the unimportant happenings at
college. It never gave any information about himself except on those
rare occasions when he had something favorable to report, and it did
not need to be anything exceptionally favorable either.

He wrote to Patty irregularly, sometimes more often sometimes less,
depending upon his needs. Once, when he had been having an unusually
good run of luck, he let nearly three weeks elapse between letters,
and then his next letter was almost seven pages long and contained no
reference to money. Patty had been awaiting a letter nervously and
opened this one with fear and trembling. The combination, after such
an interval, transported Patty with delight, and she ran over at once
to show the letter to Mrs. Ladue. It was the only one that she did
show to Mrs. Ladue, for all the others either were evidently dictated
by a necessity more or less dire, or they referred to previous "loans"
of which Mrs. Ladue and Sally knew nothing. Patty always managed to
supply his needs, although sometimes with extreme difficulty and with
a great casting up of accounts, in which process many perfectly good
pencils were consumed in a manner for which they were not intended. If
the makers of pencils had designed them for such use, they would have
made them with lolly-pops or chewing-gum on one end.

Charlie's letters to Patty were triumphs of art, and would have made
his scholastic fortune if they could have been presented as daily
themes. If they were not always free from error, they were always
readable and the matter was treated in a way which unfailingly would
have been of interest to any one but Patty, and they showed evidence
of a lively and well-nourished imagination which was not allowed to
become atrophied. "William Henry's Letters to his Grandmother,"
although of a somewhat different nature, were not a patch upon them.

But Patty was too much concerned about the matter treated in these
letters to be interested in their literary value; and, besides, she
was not in a position to know the extent of the exercise to which
Charlie's imagination was subjected in the course of composition. Her
own imagination was not without exercise, for she had to finance his
requests.

Patty's financing, that winter, would have done credit to a promoter.
She had already succeeded in getting herself involved deeply with the
builder who was repairing her house and with Dick, although Dick was
as yet in blissful ignorance of the fact. The builder had been paid
but very little since Christmas; but he, being an elderly man who had
known her father well, and who, accordingly, trusted any member of the
family implicitly, had said nothing yet. Patty wondered, with some
fear and trembling, how much longer he would go on without saying
anything. And then she put the whole matter aside. She could not see
her way out yet.

It was not that she considered the repairs upon her house, which
amounted almost to rebuilding, as properly any business of Dick's.
But, unaccountably and inscrutably to Patty, if not to her friends and
acquaintances, her father had given Richard Torrington great
discretion, under his will. The Richard aforesaid was even empowered
to keep the management of all Patty's property and to give her no more
than a stated allowance, if he saw good reason to do so. Mr. Hazen had
made him virtually a trustee, perhaps actually; but, so far, he seemed
to regard himself as no more than the channel through which Patty's
money must necessarily flow and he honored all her requests, asking
only that she tell him the general purpose to which the money was to
be applied.

In consequence of this situation, there had been certain checks signed
by Richard Torrington, Executor, designed to be applied to payments
upon the house. Several of these checks had been hypothecated by Patty
and diverted to other uses. Possibly Charlie Ladue could have given
some information as to those uses. Certainly Patty could not. She knew
nothing at all of the ultimate purposes to which her money was put.
For that matter, Charlie's knowledge went only one step farther. He
was nothing but a channel through which Patty's money necessarily
flowed. A good, generous sewer-pipe would have served as well, for all
the good that the money did him; and the process was rapidly
undermining Patty's morals.

It was a great pity that Patty had chosen this method of supply. As
long as she was bound to keep Charlie supplied with whatever he asked
for, or as nearly as she could come to that, it would have been much
better to ask Dick to double her allowance for her personal use. He
might have wondered at such a request, but he would have done it
without question, and thereby Patty's self-respect would have been
saved without producing any effect upon Charlie's in either way. One
wonders whether Charlie had any shreds of self-respect left, anyway.

So it is difficult to say whether Patty looked forward with greater
joy than dread to Charlie's coming home for the Easter recess. For
some weeks he had kept her stirred up by his requests, but these
requests were for relatively small sums, ten dollars or twenty-five,
and once he asked for fifty. But for ten days before his vacation, he
had asked her for nothing, and her fears were forgotten.

When, at last, the Easter recess began, Charlie appeared promptly on
the afternoon when he should have appeared and he looked neither
forlorn nor seedy. To a careful eye, a loving eye, watching him for
some days, he might have seemed to be possessed of an anxiety which he
took pains to conceal; but it was an elusive thing and, if he chose to
deny its existence, how was one to prove it?

Sally thought that she detected something, she could not tell just
what, and she asked her mother, casually, whether she had noticed
anything.

Mrs. Ladue looked up quickly. "I can't tell, Sally," she replied. "I
thought I did, and I spoke to Charlie about it, but he assured me that
there was nothing wrong and that it must be all my imagination. I
couldn't press the question. To tell the truth, I was afraid to. He
seems to have no disposition to confide in me and to have a low
opinion of my judgment, but I shouldn't like to have him say so.
If--if you could speak to him--"

"Very well," said Sally, sighing wearily, "I will, although I have no
hope of accomplishing anything by it--except arousing his suspicion,"
she added with a short laugh, "if there is anything which worries him
and which he is unwilling to tell. We are not in Charlie's
confidence."

"We have not been--_I_ have not been in his confidence for eleven
years--since I was taken sick." Mrs. Ladue sighed in her turn. "He
seems like a stranger. I haven't been able to get near him. But he
seems to be rather afraid of your judgment, Sally."

"That's not a great help," Sally remarked with another short laugh,
"in getting near him, is it? But I'll try."

Accordingly Sally asked him whether--she was careful to put the
question in as natural a form as possible and she tried to make it
seem casual, too--she asked him whether there was anything he would
like to have them do for him. It is not likely that she succeeded
thoroughly in either of these attempts, for Charlie only looked
startled and answered that he didn't think there was anything. And he
added that he was a little anxious about his reports. If they were not
as good as they might be, he hoped that mother would not be too much
disappointed. And Sally had shrugged a little and smiled a little and
shown a little of the contempt which she always felt for lying. She
did not know that Charlie was lying, but she felt that he was, and she
could not have helped that little smile of contempt to save her life.
But Charlie did not recognize her smile as one of contempt. He went
off to see Patty, smiling and patting himself on the back for having
thrown Sally off the scent so cleverly.

It is not to be supposed that either Mrs. Ladue or Sally was so
lacking in natural affection that she let Charlie go on the way he was
going without a struggle--without several struggles. Not that they
knew just the way he was going, but they knew very well that they had
lost all their control over him; the control which is due to a mutual
love. It was Charlie who had shown a lack of natural affection. His
mother had struggled in vain against that lack and against the effect
of Patty's indulgence. As for Sally, if the love and regard of ten or
twelve years before, a love very like a mother's, had been changed
insensibly into the tolerant contempt of the strong for the weak--not
always perfectly tolerant, I am afraid--Charlie had only himself to
blame. But, as for blaming himself--pfooh! Much he cared!



CHAPTER XIV


Charlie stood by the mantel in Patty's room, in such an attitude as he
imagined that Everett might take, under similar circumstances, and he
was trying to look troubled. It was an imitation mantel by which he
stood, being no more than a marble slab set upon iron brackets; for
the real mantel, of wood, which had surrounded a real fireplace of
generous proportions, had been removed when the fireplace had been
bricked up and a register inserted. That register, of the regulation
black, now stared at Miss Patty as she sat facing Charlie, and it
emitted a thin column of faintly warm air. Altogether, it was a poor
substitute for a fire and a gloomy thing to contemplate. Charlie's
attitude, too, as has been intimated, was but an imitation. His
trouble was no imitation, though, and his attempt to look troubled
succeeded beyond his fondest hopes.

Patty had been looking at him for some time, growing more anxious
every minute. Charlie had said nothing at all, but had kept his eyes
fixed upon the distance; upon such distance as he could get through
Patty's window. That was not so very much, the distance being limited
by the house across the street, perhaps sixty feet away. At intervals
he sighed heavily, the time between sighs apparently--to Patty, at
least, his only hearer--apparently occupied by equally heavy thinking.

At last Patty could stand it no longer. "What is it, Charlie, dear?"
she asked in a voice which trembled a little. "What is the matter,
dear boy?"

Charlie forced a smile, his frown disappeared for an instant, and he
brought his gaze back, with a great effort, a superhuman effort, to
things near at hand: eventually to Patty herself.

"Oh, nothing," he said gently. "Nothing at all." And he resumed his
gazing at the front of that house, sixty feet away, and his frowning
and his sighing and his heavy thinking.

Patty was silent for some minutes. "Won't you tell me?" she asked
then. "I am sure there must be something which troubles you. You know
you can count on my sympathy."

Charlie went through the same process as before. It took time. "What
did you say?" he said absently, when his look had, at last, come down
to Patty. "Sympathy? I'm afraid that won't do me much good." He
smiled; a smile that was meant to be pitiful. "But, no. There's
nothing the matter. Nothing at all, I assure you. It's all my own
fault anyway; my misfortune, rather," he added, so low that Patty
barely heard, and she thought that the words were not meant for her
ears. That was exactly in accordance with Charlie's intention.

"Charlie!" she cried. "Charlie! You've got to tell me. I heard those
last words which you didn't mean me to hear. Now, you've got to tell
me." Her voice trembled more than ever.

Charlie could not seem to resist this plea. He looked at her
pityingly, and he drew a long breath.

"Well, Pat," he said--Pat was his pet name for her, used only under
stress--"well, Pat, if you must have it, then here goes. I'm only out,
for this vacation, on bail. I've got to--"

"Wh-what?" asked Patty faintly. Her heart was playing mad pranks and
she put up her hand to steady it. At least, that seemed to be her
idea. "What was that you said, Charlie? Oh, Charlie, dear!"

"Bail" and "jail" sound very much alike. They conveyed about the same
idea to poor Patty. Under certain circumstances, they convey about the
same idea to the one most intimately concerned.

Charlie did not appear to be affected. "I've got to show up day after
to-morrow or forfeit my bail," he continued unfeelingly. "Well," he
said doggedly, "I will. I may have to go to jail, but what of it?"

"Oh, Charlie, dear!" Patty cried, more faintly than before. "Oh,
Charlie, dear! Whatever have you done that you should talk of going
to--to--Charlie, I feel faint. My salts, dear," she said hurriedly.
"They are on the top of my bureau, in that green bottle."

"Charlie dear" obediently got the little green bottle, stifling a
smile which would curl the corners of his mouth, in spite of himself,
while his back was turned to Patty. When he came back to her he looked
properly concerned; but Patty's eyes were closed. He removed the
stopper and held the bottle close under her nose, to revive her, which
happy event occurred with a suddenness that was a surprise to Patty,
at least. She gasped and gave a little choking cry.

"Oh, Charlie! Not so cl-close."

"All right now, Pat?" he asked with a cheerfulness that was evidently
assumed. He removed the bottle and put in the stopper.

"I--I think so," she replied, still faintly. "Now--go--on, Charlie.
Tell me. I think I can bear it. I'll try to."

"Why," said Charlie, "there's nothing to tell. I got bail so that I
could come home for my Easter vacation. Time's up day after to-morrow,
and I've got to show up or forfeit my bail."

"Who is the--the bailer?" Patty inquired as if it were her last
breath.

"One of the other men," Charlie returned glibly. "He isn't really rich
either, so he couldn't very well afford to have me jump it."

"Jump it?" Patty repeated. She was getting pretty well dazed.

"Yes," said Charlie impatiently. "Haven't you ever heard that
expression? It's the legal expression for failing to show up and
forfeiting your bail. If I should jump it, that other man would have
to pay the amount of my bail."

"Ho-how much is it?" Patty asked in a trembling voice.

Charlie made a rapid mental calculation. "One thousand dollars," he
said.

"One thousand dollars!" repeated poor Patty slowly. "One thou--but,
Charlie," for a gleam of light had come to her,--"but, Charlie, what
is it for? What ha-have you done? Oh, it is too terrible!"

"I haven't done much of anything, really," Charlie protested; "nothing
worth mentioning if we hadn't had an accident."

"An accident!" Patty murmured.

"Yes, an accident. You see there were four of us that thought it would
be fun--and no harm, Pat, really, if things hadn't gone wrong--to take
a little run in a motor--an automobile. Fostrow has a car of his own
at home, and he was to drive. In fact, he did." Charlie chuckled, as
though at the recollection. "He did until he had got us arrested twice
for speeding. But that was a small matter, only twenty-five dollars a
time. Fostrow paid that himself. He said it was worth double the money
to see those country-men get out of the way. And we ran over a dog. It
turned out to be a very valuable dog. All that is in the day's work,
though. We--"

"Oh, Charlie," Patty interrupted, "I _knew_ you would get into trouble
if you went in those _horrible_ machines, at any rate, without a
_competent_ and _reliable_ driver. I have always thought that Edward
would be the driver I should choose; so steady and--"

"Edward!" Charlie exclaimed. He had been about to add something
further, in the way of comment, but he thought better of it. "No
doubt, Edward would be very steady, but he is too old, to my way of
thinking. Well, we had gone about fifty miles and began to think it
was time to go back. So we filled up our gasoline tank, got something
to eat, and started back. It was dark by that time. We were rather
hurrying over the country roads, when something went wrong with the
steering-gear and the next thing I knew I was lying on the other side
of a stone wall--"

"O-oh!" shuddered Patty.

"--And the machine was completely smashed--crumpled up--with a
telephone pole on top of it. Then the gasoline caught fire and the
whole thing burned up, pole and all. The other men were more or less
hurt, but I hadn't a scratch, only some bruises. Fostrow's in a
hospital out there, now, with two ribs broken. The owner of the
machine got after us. It was a new machine and a beauty; cost five
thousand, he said. So that explains the bail."

"Oh, Charlie!" breathed Patty. "What a mercy you escaped!"

Charlie smiled complacently. He had really done pretty well. That
story, he thought, would be a credit to anybody.

"But, Charlie," Patty continued, after a short silence, "why don't you
tell Sally the whole story. She'd find some way to get you out of it.
She--she is really very good at managing affairs."

Charlie shivered involuntarily. Sally was very good at managing
affairs. He could see her pitying smile as she listened in silence to
his string of plausible lies and the look from the gray eyes would be
boring straight down into his soul as he talked, and he would be
afraid. And his speech would grow more halting, and he would finish in
some confusion and Sally would turn away with a quiet "Humph!" or she
would say nothing at all, which would be almost worse. And she would
not tell him what she was going to do, but she would go and do it, and
it--whatever it was--would be most effective, and that was exactly
what Charlie did not want. He shivered again as he thought of it.
Sally managed affairs too well; that was the trouble. No, distinctly
no; he did not want Sally to have any hand in this affair. He thought
that he could manage it very well himself. It was going beautifully,
so far.

"No, Pat," he said gently. "I prefer not to tell Sally. I--to tell the
truth, Sally and mother don't seem very glad to see me. I think they'd
rather I stayed away."

"Oh, you poor boy!" Patty's eyes shone with pity. "You dear boy!
_I'm_ glad to see you, anyway, Charlie, dear. You have one friend who
won't desert you."

"Thank you, Pat. I thought I could depend on you."

"I'll undertake the management of this affair." Patty spoke with
pride. A faint smile began to curl the corners of Charlie's mouth. He
suppressed it. Patty was deep in thought; or she flattered herself
that she was.

She might as well have undertaken to add a cubit to her stature by
taking thought. She was silent for some minutes, looking more worried
with every minute that passed. At last she looked up.

"Oh, dear!" she said, sighing, "I can't think of anything. It wouldn't
do any good for you to go away, would it?"

Charlie shook his head and looked very solemn. "No. That would mean
giving up my college course and jumping my bail. I should become a
fugitive from justice." That sounded rather impressive and Charlie
repeated it, as impressively as he could. "A fugitive from justice."

"Charlie, don't!" cried Patty wildly. "It sounds as if you were a
criminal." Charlie made no reply. "What would you suggest?"

"Nothing," he answered with resignation. "There is nothing to be done
but for me to surrender myself to my bondsmen--" That sounded
impressive, too. "Surrender myself to my bondsmen," he repeated, "and
to the justice of the court."

"Oh, Charlie!" Patty wailed faintly. "Oh, Charlie, dear, isn't there
some other way?"

He shook his head again. "No other way that I can see. No other way
that wouldn't call for more money than I can possibly raise. For I
won't ask you for it, Pat. I simply _won't_."

Patty was lying back in her chair. She seemed to feel faint again, and
Charlie hurried to her, the little green bottle once more in his hand.
She waved it aside.

"H-how much," she asked, "must you have, Charlie?"

"Never mind that, Pat. That's settled. It's much more than I should
be willing to ask you to lend me, or to accept from you. I'll just
surrender myself. It will soon be over." He spoke as cheerfully as
though he were going to execution.

Patty looked at him. She thought that she had never seen any one so
brave.

"Tell me. How much must you have?"

"I suppose that eight or nine hundred would settle it, since you
insist." He swept it all aside with a wave of his hand. "But dismiss
the matter from your mind. We'll consider it settled."

"We won't. It isn't settled." Poor Patty was having a last struggle
with her conscience. It was really a hard struggle and it took some
time. At last she drew a long shuddering breath. "Look in my top
bureau drawer, Charlie," she said, raising haggard eyes to his, "in
the front. There's a check there somewhere. It's for seven hundred and
fifty dollars."

Charlie protested. Nevertheless, he moved with alacrity and rummaged
until he found the check. It was signed by Richard Torrington,
Executor. He presented it to Patty, folded, as he had found it.

"Is this it, Pat? It is folded, you see, so that it is impossible to
know whether it is the one you wanted or not."

"And to think that you wouldn't look, Charlie! But I might have known
it. I don't know what Richard would say," she murmured. "And I don't
know what the carpenters will do--the builders. But never mind. It is
my own money, anyway, and I'll do what I like with it. Charlie," she
said louder, "you must take this. Perhaps I can raise fifty dollars
more to-morrow morning. Do I have to write my name on the back?"

Charlie protested again, but his protests were fainter than they had
been. He must not overdo it.

Patty had risen from her chair and had gone to her desk. "Perhaps,"
she said doubtfully, "it would be better--you would rather have me
cash the check and give you the money." Charlie's protests were
reduced to a mere murmur now. "Yes, that will be better."

Charlie looked perplexed. He frowned tremendously and was very solemn.
He, too, seemed to be having a terrible struggle with his conscience.
It is, perhaps, unnecessary to say that he wasn't. Patty watched him
fearfully, the check clasped to her bosom and her eyes pitiful. At
last he heaved a long, shivering sigh, looked up and met her eyes
fixed upon him. There was fear in them and a great love. He had the
grace to flush faintly.

"Am I to understand, Pat," he asked slowly, "that you insist upon
letting me have this--this money?"

"You must take it, Charlie. You _shall_ take it," she cried fiercely.
"Please do."

"We-ell," he replied, "to please you, I will, since you insist. But I
am very unwilling to take it and I wouldn't, from anybody else. I only
do it now on condition that you will regard it as a loan which I will
repay very soon." How? Did Patty ask herself that question?

"My dear boy!" exclaimed Patty softly. "My dear boy! Think what it is
saving you from! You won't have to go to j---- Oh, I can't say it. But
you won't have to, now, will you, Charlie? Say you won't."

"No," said he, sighing heavily again, "I guess I won't. But, as far as
I am concerned, that is of very little consequence. It is you that I
am thinking of. Mother and Sally wouldn't care, except as it would
reflect on them, whether I was in jail or not. Of course," he added,
with an apparent wish to be fair, "I may be doing them an injustice,
but I don't think so. But it is different with you. Aside from the
disgrace which I should be bringing down on your head, I think you
would feel it, for my sake."

"Feel it!" she murmured. "Feel it! Oh, Charlie, dear! I believe I
should die. I know it would kill me."

Charlie smiled sympathetically.

Tears stood in Patty's eyes. "You shall have eight hundred dollars
to-morrow morning. I'll get it as soon as the bank is open. And you
come here after it. Come early, Charlie. I want you all to myself for
a little while."

"Thank you, Pat. I am very grateful."

She looked longingly at him; a look which he seemed not to see.

"Charlie," she said softly.

"Yes, Pat?"

She hesitated for a moment. "K-kiss me, Charlie." Her voice was so low
that he scarcely heard her. "Kiss me, won't you, dear?"

And so he did. That was the least he could do.



CHAPTER XV


The blow had fallen. It had fallen upon Patty. The builder had
happened to come upon Dick in the bank; and, being rather pressed for
money, he had remarked, half in joke, upon the slowness of the
payments from the Hazen estate. Whereat Dick, very much surprised but
trying not to show it, had asked for particulars which the builder was
very willing to supply; and the matter having been sifted to the
bottom, so far as the builder was concerned, Dick had, then and there,
given him a check for all that was owing him, which was greatly to the
builder's gratification and as it should be.

If the matter was sifted to the bottom, so far as the builder was
concerned, it was very far from that satisfactory condition so far as
Patty was concerned. Dick went to see Patty and asked her, as
delicately and gently as was at all consistent with getting the
information that he wanted, what had become of the checks which he had
sent her, from time to time? Where had the money gone which was
intended for the builder? But Patty stood by her guns and would not
tell. They might suspect, but they should not know--from her. She
insisted that it was her money, that her father had meant it for her,
and she would use it as she pleased without being accountable to
anybody.

Dick, patient, pleasant, but insistent, was unable to get anything
more out of her, try as he would, and he had been forced to go away
again, baffled and no wiser than he was when he came, except that it
was evident that the money had been applied to some purpose which
Patty wished to conceal. He was satisfied that it had not been applied
to her personal use. Indeed, it was incredible that she could have
used so much without having anything to show for it, unless she had
fallen into the hands of one of those sharpers who supply trusting
women with the stocks and bonds of mythological mines guaranteed to
produce a return of three hundred per cent a year. Even in that case,
Miss Patty might have shown him the beautiful examples of the
engraver's art with which the aforesaid corporations reward their
victims.

No, such a condition was not probable. It was much more likely that
Charlie Ladue had got it. And because he was morally certain of the
use to which the money had been put--as far as Patty was concerned--he
was careful not to say anything of his suspicions to anybody. He did
not wish them to get to Sally's ears; not until they were something
more than suspicions, at least. Supposing that Charlie had received
the money, what had he done with it?

So Dick said nothing, but he drew the lines tighter and made his
authority felt. What else could he do? What was his clear duty? It was
to be presumed that Mr. Hazen had had such a condition clearly in mind
when he drew his will. So Patty found herself with no more, at her
immediate command, than her allowance, which Dick intimated would be
made any reasonable amount that she wished; but all of her bills must
be sent to him for payment. He thought it the part of wisdom to write
this.

The state of mind into which Patty was thrown by this letter may be
imagined. "The insolent puppy!" she cried, sitting alone in her room.
It was rather a strong epithet to apply to Dick Torrington, who never
in his life had been anything but kind and protecting. But people
seldom wish to be protected against themselves. "Upstart!" That, Dick
certainly was not. "Why, that means that I can't pay my own board. And
Miss Miller will think--I don't know what she will think, but the
whole town will know about it." Her face crimsoned with mortification.
She thought deeply for some time. "I know what I'll do," she said to
herself with determination when she had come to an end of her
thinking, which, by the way, she seldom did; not to any logical end.
"I know what I'll do. I will go right out to Doctor Sanderson's. He
won't talk. It's a little early to go into the country, but I need a
change."

So Patty was quite cheerful, for the time being, while she arranged
the change which she needed so badly. Miss Miller was less cheerful
and allowed herself to remark that perhaps it was just as well, as
Patty didn't seem to be able to pay her bills promptly; able or
willing, she didn't know which and it didn't matter much which it was,
as far as she could see. But she might have stayed her season out, now
that Dick Torrington was willing to undertake the job of looking after
her, and a thankless job it was, as she, Mary Miller, could bear
witness. And thereupon Miss Mary Miller turned her back upon Miss
Patty and flounced out of the room before Patty should make any
suitable reply.

Miss Miller need not have hurried out of the room, for Patty was too
much astonished to think of any fitting reply for some time. She sat
with her mouth open--a sight which it is to be presumed Miss Miller
would have been glad to see--with her mouth open, which was very
unusual for Miss Patty, and with her cheerfulness quite gone, which
was not at all unusual. After a few minutes she remembered to close
her mouth, but she did not resume her cheerfulness. So Miss Miller
knew, after all. Patty wondered, vaguely, how she had found out. She
did not suspect Dick, for Dick had a talent for keeping his own
counsel. She could not guess, although she had tried, goodness knew!
And Patty heaved a long sigh and gave it up. Then, if Mary Miller
knew, Letty Lambkin knew, and one could be sure that everybody in
town, of her acquaintance who would listen to her, would know, too.

As a matter of fact, Letty Lambkin was bursting with information. She
went to Mrs. Upjohn's early that year, ostensibly to make that lady
some summer clothes, but really because Mrs. Upjohn let her talk
freely; I wouldn't say that Mrs. Upjohn encouraged her to talk, for
Letty did not need any actual encouragement. But she let her talk,
freely, and that was equivalent to encouragement.

"Alicia," Letty began, almost as soon as she had got inside the door,
"I s'pose you know about poor Patty. It's the common talk." Mrs.
Upjohn had no chance to reply. "Dick Torrington's taken it upon
himself to manage her affairs, and all Patty has is her allowance. But
of course you know that. It seems rather a high-handed thing for Dick
to do, and he only a little tow-headed shaver when Patty was a grown
woman. I suppose he has the right to do it, or else he wouldn't. I'm
told that Patty was getting into a terrible mess with her property.
She used the checks that were meant for the builder for another
purpose, I hear. Poor Mr. Means! And Mary Miller had to wait, too."

Mrs. Upjohn laughed comfortably. "I guess Charlie Ladue could tell
something about those checks."

"Like enough he could," said Miss Lambkin, preparing to go to work.
"Where's your cloth, Alicia? Oh, in your room? Don't you stir. I'll
get it." She came back immediately. "Well, as I was saying, it's
really too bad that Patty's mind is giving way."

"Her mind giving way!" echoed Mrs. Upjohn, surprised out of her usual
caution. "Oh, I guess not. Who told you that, Letty?"

"Yes, indeed," said Miss Lambkin with a toss of her head. "Didn't you
know that she's been sent out to Doctor Sanderson's Home for
Incurables? Dick sent her out there nearly a month ago. She's as
comfortable there as could be expected. I have it on the best of
authority--some one connected with the institution," she added with a
nod and a knowing look.

Mrs. Upjohn laughed again. "I can't believe it, Letty. You must have
been misinformed. In the first place, Doctor Sanderson's place isn't a
home for incurables."

"I know he doesn't call it that. To tell the truth, I can't find out
just what he does call it."

"Can't your best of authority tell you that, too?" asked Mrs. Upjohn
slyly.

"Now, Alicia," said Miss Lambkin with asperity, "you needn't go to
calling in question my authority. It was one of the nurses, if you
must know."

"Doctor Sanderson wouldn't thank her for talking so freely," remarked
Mrs. Upjohn. "I should really like to know what he would say about
Patty. I understood that she had simply gone there to board."

"I suppose she can call it that, but I don't believe that Doctor
Sanderson is running a boarding-house or a hotel either. I always
thought that she was bound for the asylum. And, another thing, I had
it from the same authority that Meriwether Beatty goes to see her
regularly once or twice a week, and he's real kind, too. I leave it to
you whether that isn't a sign that he thinks her mind is growing
feeble. He always used to say the most brutal things."

"I should say it was rather a sign that Doctor Beatty was losing his
mind than that Patty was losing hers," rejoined Mrs. Upjohn.

"Well," said Letty with an air of finality, "you just wait and see if
I'm not right."

"I will," said Mrs. Upjohn.

Miss Lambkin glanced at her smiling face and thought it best to change
the subject.

"Dick Torrington," she observed, "is going to be married to that
Henrietta girl. But I suppose you know."

"Yes," said Mrs. Upjohn.

"I understood," Miss Lambkin resumed, "that the wedding was to be the
last of June."

"The twenty-eighth," said Mrs. Upjohn.

"Oh," rejoined Miss Lambkin, somewhat taken aback by Mrs. Upjohn's
ready replies. "And I understood that Henrietta was coming on here to
visit right away."

"She came last night," said Mrs. Upjohn.

"To visit with Sally, I suppose?" Letty was consumed with curiosity as
to the source of Mrs. Upjohn's accurate information. She always liked
to be the source herself.

"She is the guest of Mrs. Torrington," said Mrs. Upjohn, raising her
eyes at last.

"Dear me, Alicia," Letty exclaimed impatiently, "how you do snap a
person up! I suppose that was why Dick was grinning so like a monkey
when I saw him yesterday afternoon."

"Because I snap a person up?"

"Because Henrietta was coming. He seemed to be on his way to the
station."

"Possibly. He didn't tell me the reason. But Henrietta didn't come
until nearly ten o'clock."

"Well!" The discomfited Letty devoted herself to her work for some
minutes in silence. But she could not keep silent long. "So Dick gave
you all that information, I suppose. I wondered how you got it all so
pat."

"No," returned Mrs. Upjohn calmly. "I haven't seen Dick, to speak to,
for a good while."

Miss Lambkin laid down her work. "Well, Alicia," she said slowly,
"will you be good enough to tell me how you found out all that--right
up to last night?"

"Better than that, Letty," Mrs. Upjohn replied. "I know what happened
this morning, about half past seven."

"They ate their breakfast, I suppose," snapped Letty. "I could have
told you that."

"They didn't have breakfast until eight," said Mrs. Upjohn.

"Oh, Lord!" cried Miss Lambkin in utter disgust. She had been tried
beyond the bounds of reason.

Mrs. Upjohn laughed until the tears stood in her eyes. "As to my
information, Letty," she said as soon as she could speak, "I pick it
up here and there, and I use my eyes."

"As much as to say that you give a good guess. I thought I was pretty
good at picking up information. But you have me beat, Alicia, I'm free
to confess."

Mrs. Upjohn made no reply.

"It's rather a pity that Dick didn't choose nearer home," Miss Lambkin
resumed, after pausing long enough for the reply which did not come.
"There's Sally, now."

"They'd have made a good match," Mrs. Upjohn observed, sighing
reminiscently, "but there's no accounting for tastes in such matters."

"Meaning Everett?" asked Letty, looking up sharply.

Mrs. Upjohn shook her head. "Not especially."

"I suppose you know," said Miss Lambkin pointedly, "with your sources
of accurate information, that he's hanging around again. There was a
time when it seemed to be all off for a few weeks."

Mrs. Upjohn nodded.

"There are some cases where you can't even give a good guess," Letty
continued maliciously. "Aren't there, Alicia?"

Mrs. Upjohn nodded again; but she only rocked gently and said nothing.

Miss Lambkin seemed to be following out a train of thought, but in
silence. That was not her custom. She usually pursued thought with a
wild halloa.

Presently she gave a sort of a cackle, which with her did duty for a
chuckle of amusement. "I'd give something to have seen Charlie Ladue
when he first heard of Patty's fix. I'll warrant he didn't like it. I
wonder whether Sally knows. It seems to me that she ought to be told."

"Told what, Letty? A pack of stories that are no more than guessing?
And who's to tell her? When we know anything about Charlie it'll be
time enough to be thinking about telling Sally."

"All the same," Letty pursued obstinately, "Sally ought to know."

"Humph!" said Mrs. Upjohn.



CHAPTER XVI


Henrietta sat on the edge of Sally's bed, swinging her little feet,
which hardly touched the floor,--she had only to raise the tips and
they swung clear,--and she was as smiling, as pretty, as dainty, as
inconsequent, and as charming as ever. At least, Sally seemed to find
her charming and so, it is to be presumed, did Dick. Sally, with a
little smile upon her lips, leaned against the window casing and
looked at her. She feasted her eyes; she looked so long and she stared
so hard that Henrietta dammed, for a moment, the stream of talk that
flowed from her lips and flushed a little, faintly.

"What's the matter, Sally? I know my hair's in a mess. Is there
anything wrong with my dress? Have I got a dirty face? I washed it,
but if there is a smudge on my nose I think it is the part of a friend
to tell me and not let me go out looking like a fright."

Sally shook her head slowly. "There's nothing the matter, Henrietta. I
was only thinking what a lucky man Dick is."

The flush on Henrietta's face deepened. "Oh, do you think so, Sally?"
she asked softly. "Do you really think so? I was a little bit afraid
you didn't approve. And how about me? Don't you think I'm a lucky
girl?"

"Very," answered Sally, smiling still. "Dick is everything that's
good. He's the one best man for you. But why did you think that I
might not approve?"

"We--ll," said Henrietta with some hesitation, bending forward to look
at her swinging feet, then looking up at Sally, "I--I went after him
in such a barefaced manner, and you knew it." Sally shook her head
again. "Oh, yes, you did. It's no use to shake your gory locks at me.
You knew I did; the very night of your fire. I don't deny it. I did go
after him with all my might and I got him." She spoke triumphantly.
"I'm glad I went after him, for--for I never should have got him at
all if I had not. I'm proud of it, but I don't advertise it,
generally. I confess it to you, but I should deny the fact to anybody
else. Wild horses shouldn't drag it out of me. Not ever! And then,
Sally, another reason why I was a little afraid you wouldn't
approve--" Henrietta hesitated again, stopped, and once more regarded
her feet.

"Well?" Sally asked, amused.

"Well." Henrietta looked up and smiled. "To tell the truth, I couldn't
believe that you didn't want him yourself. There! It's out. Just a
little, Sally."

Sally laughed. "Not even just a little, Henrietta. Dick is a dear
friend--he has been that to me always, ever since his kite and
Everett's broke my foot--and I hope he always will be; but the idea of
falling in love with each other never entered either of our heads. So
you may be quite easy in your mind. My heart isn't even bent."

"But you know," Henrietta insisted, "that you could have got him if
you had tried as hard as I did."

"I guess not," Sally replied; "not after you appeared, anyway. You
needn't distress yourself. I remember that I used to look upon Dick
and Everett with adoration, as a little girl. They were my ideals.
When they carried me home, after the kite accident, I was in the
seventh heaven. But there was nothing, even then. No, Dick is all
yours, as far as I am concerned."

Henrietta breathed a sigh. "Well, I'm glad to be sure of it. But,
Sally," she continued, with a doubtful glance, as if she were a little
afraid of Sally and of what she was about to ask, "how about Everett?
Was there ever--?"

Sally laughed again suddenly. "No, there wasn't. Everett never looked
at me."

"But, Sally," Henrietta persisted, "it isn't so now. Does he--you
aren't engaged, are you, Sally?" she asked softly, glancing up timidly
under her long lashes.

Sally seemed to be in haste to reply. "Oh, no," she said. "Oh, no. I
am not likely to be. I suppose you mean Everett."

"Yes, I did," returned Henrietta. She showed some surprise. "Why? Is
there anybody else?"

"No, oh, no," Sally answered more hastily than before. "There isn't.
As far as I can see, I am scheduled to teach for the rest of my life."

"Are you quite sure, Sally?" Henrietta urged. "Isn't there _anybody_?
Not even somebody that you wish--"

Sally was getting rather red. "No, no, Henrietta," she said,
interrupting. "Now that's enough about my affairs of the heart. It's a
little embarrassing to be questioned so closely, dear."

"I'm sure I beg your pardon, Sally," cried Henrietta impulsively. "I
didn't mean to be. Now, _I_ am just dying to be questioned closely.
Try me."

"I don't know what to ask," said Sally, smiling. "I would if I did."

Henrietta sighed. "You're very disappointing, Sally. If you were
really interested you would know." She sighed again. "But, anyway,
you'll be what I want you to be at my wedding, won't you?"

"Indeed, I will. I'll be anything you want me to be." She laughed a
little. "But I warn you that I shall need coaching. What do I have to
do?"

"Nothing much. You'll have all the coaching you need. You know it's
going to be at Fox's house. He's going to open it for the occasion."

"Only for the occasion?" Sally spoke coldly; so coldly that her voice
did not sound natural. "I rather gathered, from a remark that he made
a while ago, that he contemplated matrimony, too."

"Fox get married?" Henrietta was genuinely surprised. "Well, it's news
to me. Who's to be my sister-in-law? Did he say?"

Sally shook her head. "I supposed it was probably Margaret Savage."

"Oh!" cried Henrietta. "I hope not." Then she seemed to be ashamed of
her outburst and sat, swinging her feet and looking wistfully at
Sally. "I had hoped," she observed at last, "that, when Fox's time
came, it would be--" She stopped and considered. "I hoped that it
would be--not Margaret Savage, Sally."

Sally made no reply.

"Margaret Savage is so--so _empty_, you see," Henrietta went on. "She
would not be exhilarating. But I won't say any more about her."

"It isn't really necessary," Sally returned, laughing.

"And the less said the better," Henrietta concluded. "I don't know
why, but it reminds me of your Cousin Patty. Dick hasn't told me much
of anything," Henrietta lowered her voice. "Do you suppose it is true
that she is losing her mind?"

"Did Dick tell you that?" asked Sally, startled.

Henrietta shook her head. "I heard it talked about."

"I have no reason to think so. She gets queerer and more cranky every
year. She has changed a good deal since Uncle John died. Poor Patty!
She has very little comfort in life--except Charlie." Sally laughed
shortly. "I hope she finds him a comfort."

Henrietta did not know what to say. Consequently she said nothing,
which was, no doubt, just the right thing.

"Charlie will be home to-morrow," Sally added; then she corrected
herself. "I should have said that Charlie is due to-morrow. He may not
come."

"Oh, Sally!" Henrietta cried. "What makes you speak so? It--it sounds
horrible."

"It's the simple fact, Henrietta."

"Why don't you do something about it? I would."

Sally gave a little shrug. "What would you do? There is nothing to be
done. Charlie's a headstrong boy and he seems to have slipped away
altogether from mother's control. Patty indulges him and I don't see
how I can do anything. If he had really done anything wrong and I knew
it, it would be a different matter. I don't know that he has--but,"
she added in a low voice, "I don't know that he hasn't."

Henrietta chanced to glance at the watch upon her wrist. "Oh, mercy
me!" she cried, springing to her feet. "I didn't know it was so late.
I've got to meet Dick in five minutes. Good bye, Sally."

Henrietta was gone, running down the stairs. She need not have hurried
so, for Dick was late. He was so late that she had become hotly
impatient and then angry with him. Indeed, she was just going away,
hurt and angry, when Dick appeared, hurrying as if he were pursued by
devils and smiling propitiatingly.

"I'm awfully sorry to be so late, Henrietta," he began. "I simply
could not get away from those two bores. I came just as soon as I
could without throwing them out of the office."

Henrietta's anger was dissolved like a morning mist. "Who was it,
Dick?"

"The Carling twins. It took them a long time to say what they wanted
to, for you know they still stutter."

"I've never seen them, although I've heard of them. What were they
trying to say?"

"Oh, I don't know. To tell the truth, I was so afraid of being late
that I didn't pay as much attention as I ought to have."

This confession would have been a great comfort to the Carlings, for
they had taken especial pains and made this trip for the sole purpose
of seeing Dick. What they had to say concerned Charlie Ladue. It is
not to be supposed that they would be so concerned about the acts of
Charlie Ladue, if he were the only one. But his acts would involve
Sally, sooner or later, and, so long as that was inevitable, it had
better be sooner. In fact, the sooner the better. And, each of the
Carlings knowing a thing or two, as was to be expected of them, they
had had a long deliberation on the subject, only the night before.

"S--s--ssomeb--b--body ought t--to kn--n--now ab--bout it," Harry
observed. "I w--w--wouldn't b--bother m--myself ab--b--out
wh--wh--what t--that l--l--lemon of a k--kid d--did 'f--f it w--wasn't
for S--S--Sally. D--d--don't l--like t--to b--be the one t--to t--tell
on h--h--him, b--but wh--wh--who d--does? Wh--wh--who'll we t--tell?
Th--that's the q--q--question."

"C--c--can't t--tell S--S--Sally," Horry remarked.

"C--c--course we c--c--can't," Harry replied scornfully. "An--ny
f--f--fool'd kn--n--now th--that."

"N--n--nor P--P--Patty," Horry remarked further.

They both grinned. Harry did not think the observation worthy of a
reply.

"M--m--might t--tell D--D--Doc--Doc--tor S--S--San--n--damn it. You
kn--now."

Harry nodded. He did not care to try the name. They both knew.
"N--no," he said.

"D--D--Dick?" The name came from Horry's lips with the force of an
explosion.

"D--D--Dick's n--no g--good," Harry replied gloomily. "G--goin' t--to
be m--m--married 'n a l--little m--more'n a w--w--week."

They both relapsed into silence.

After some minutes of silence, Horry heaved a sigh. "N--n--no use," he
said. "It's D--D--Dick. C--c--can't th--think of an--nybody else. I'm
g--g--goin' d--down to--m--m--morrow. C--c--come b--back s--same
d--day; 'll--ll--ll y--you go?"

Harry nodded. "'R--r--right," he said. The Carlings were to graduate
within a week, which explains their anxiety to get back.

Horry rose. Their deliberations were ended. "Th--that d--d--damned
f--f--fool m--m--must ha--ha--have d--dropped m--m--more'n
f--f--fif--f--teen hundred 'n n--numbers--s--seven th--th--this
y--year. I w--wonder wh--wh--whose?"

Horry's information was surprisingly accurate.

"G--guess it's P--P--Patty's," Harry observed.

Accordingly they went down to see Dick. Their story was shot off at
him in little puffs, like a bunch of firecrackers. Dick, being
diverted by the manner of telling and being much concerned about his
engagement with Henrietta, did not take it all in, perhaps, and if he
forgot all about it during the next ten days, he is to be excused.



CHAPTER XVII


Henrietta's wedding was rather a quiet one, as weddings went in
Whitby. That is, there were not many more people there than the old
cream-colored house could accommodate comfortably, so that the
overflow would not have more than half filled the yard; which was
lucky, as the yard was already nearly half full of automobiles and
carriages, tightly packed by the wall. There was a long string of them
in the road, too. But as it was a lovely summer day, the first really
warm day of the summer, and as the birds were singing madly in the
orchard as though they knew it was a very special occasion and one to
be celebrated accordingly, and as the orchard was a very inviting
place with a gentle breeze rustling the leaves of the apple trees, and
as the view over the little valley was more attractive than the most
beautiful interior of old houses, and as--well, without continuing the
catalogue of reasons, the people gradually drifted outside, two at a
time. They formed a cluster around the well-sweep; a cluster whose
composition was continually changing. Having given as much voice to
their admiration of the well-sweep as they thought was expected of
them, they wandered on and scattered and drew together into other
groups and scattered again; and by a repetition of this process little
clusters were formed, at last, that had no tendency to scatter.

There were two groups in particular whose composition was changing,
even yet, and changing very rapidly. They were, for all the world,
like swarms of ants, the component individuals continually coming and
going like ants which were very busy and very intent on their
business. These individuals would hurry up and join the group at its
outer edge, and push and struggle to get to the centre, while others
seemed equally eager to get out. So that there was a continual
movement and jostling. But if you could have looked into the centre of
either of these groups, you would have seen--no, not the bride; you
would have seen either a great bowl of punch or a table loaded with
good things, or their remains--no more than the wrecks of things. As
to the bride, she had slipped away.

There was another group which had formed after the manner of these
stable groups already mentioned, and which had somewhat withdrawn
itself to the very back edge of the orchard, away from the others. The
members of this group were not concerning themselves with the punch or
with the things to eat or with the ants coming and going so
continuously, but they talked together in low voices as if they would
escape observation. They were Sally and Fox and Mrs. Ladue; but they
could not hope to escape for long. And Fox was somewhat serious, which
is not to be wondered at, he having just lost a sister, if you care to
look at it in that way. And Sally was rather serious, too, which is
not to be wondered at, for she had just lost a friend, however you
prefer to look at it. Mrs. Ladue was the only one of that group who
looked other than serious and solemn, and there was, even in her look,
something lacking to a perfect joy, for a person who cared enough to
find it might have discovered something wistful there. It was as if
she wanted something very much and knew that she could not get it. I
leave it to you whether any person can be in that state of mind and be
perfectly joyful. What it was that she wanted I do not know nor why
she could not get it; although, if the thing concerned those other
two, the only reason that she could not get it was that they were both
as blind as bats--blinder than bats.

Sally was silent, gazing away at the deep woods behind them. Her
mother gazed wistfully at Sally and said nothing either. And Fox
looked at them and was as silent as they. Some one came up and
exchanged a few words with Fox and went away again; but neither Mrs.
Ladue nor Sally said anything. Sally was still gazing off at the
woods and seemed to be unaware of any new presence.

"Sally," said Fox.

She turned and looked at him, but still she said nothing.

"Didn't you know who that was?"

She shook her head. "Who what was?"

"The man who spoke to me? But I suppose you didn't know that anybody
spoke to me. It was Horry Carling."

"Oh, was it?" She did not seem interested.

"He seemed to want to speak to you."

"Well, why didn't he?"

"Probably because you didn't seem to see him. Is there anything the
matter, Sally?"

Sally smiled very slightly and very soberly. "Nothing much. Nothing
worth mentioning."

They relapsed into silence again, but after a while Sally spoke.

"Would you--would you be much disappointed, Fox," she asked, without
looking at him, "if I gave up teaching? Would it seem as if I were
throwing away all these years of preparation?"

"No," he answered, meeting her serious mood, "I don't see that it
would. And I don't see that it matters to anybody but yourself just
when you give it up. There is no reason, now, for your keeping on with
it unless you want to. You will have to give it up soon anyway."

Sally looked up at him quickly. "Why, Fox? Why will I have to?"

Fox evaded this question for the time, at any rate. "Why have you
thought of giving it up now, Sally? Do the poor kids prove too
trying?"

Sally nodded. "I am ashamed of it. I'm not fitted for it. I haven't
patience enough--with stupidity. But what did you mean by saying that
I would have to give it up soon?"

"Why," Fox replied, casting an embarrassed glance in Mrs. Ladue's
direction, "when you are married, you know--"

"Oh," Sally cried with a quick and vivid blush--a rush of blood to the
head, no less,--"oh, but I shan't. I never shall."

Mrs. Ladue appeared to think it a fitting time to slip away quietly.

"I didn't mean," Sally went on rapidly, "to be idle. I--well, to tell
you a secret, Fox, one that I didn't mean to tell yet--I have an
idea."

"Behold me suitably surprised! Sally has an idea!"

Sally chuckled, which represented the height of Fox's ambition for the
moment. "Don't make fun of me, or I won't tell you what it is."

"I am most seriously inclined, Sally. And a bank safe--or a strong
box--is not so secret as I am. You observe that I do not use the
ancient simile of the grave. There are many things that keep a secret
better than a grave. I am listening."

With that, he inclined his head toward her.

"I might box your ear instead of telling you," said Sally lightly,
"but I won't. You know," she continued, hesitating a little, "that
Uncle John's business has been--well, just kept alive, until they
should decide what to do with it."

Fox nodded, wondering what she was coming at.

"And I was in Uncle John's office every day for years. I got much
interested. And I--I believe that I could do something with it, Fox,
after I had served my apprenticeship at it. I think I should like to
try. The clerks and things--the machinery of the business--are there."
Fox wondered what the clerks and things would have thought of it. "I
wish I had spoken to Dick about it. He'll be away, now, for a month.
But I could write to him, couldn't I? I will."

"There is a good deal in this idea of yours, Sally," was Fox's only
comment. He was looking at her with a little smile of amusement.
"Don't you want to vote?" he asked abruptly.

"No, I don't," she answered as abruptly. "But I thought that it would
be a great pity to let an old established business just vanish. And
they all seem so proud of it. And perhaps Charlie could get into it
when he is through college. At least, if he was disposed to, it
would--it might give us--mother and me--some control over him again.
Don't you think so, Fox?"

Fox shook his head gravely. "I don't know, Sally. The idea strikes me
as a good one; a good one for you. I think I should go rather slow
about Charlie."

"Well--" Sally turned. "It is a secret, you know, Fox."

"Between you and me, Sally," Fox returned gently.

Sally returned to her contemplation of the woods. She seemed to note
something.

"I believe," she said suddenly, "that those trees are good to climb."

"Why," said Fox, smiling, "I believe they are."

"Will you--" Sally began brightly; then she seemed to change her mind
and she changed her question accordingly.

"Won't you keep this house open? It is a pity not to."

"Keep the house open?" Fox repeated, puzzled.

"Why, yes," she replied. "Don't you remember that you said--or
intimated--that you were going to get married?"

Fox laughed. "I believe I did," he answered, "on a certain occasion. I
believe I am, although I can't say exactly when it will be."

"I think, Fox," said Sally, turning to him and speaking with emphasis,
"that we are old enough friends for you to--you might tell me who the
girl is. I should like to congratulate her."

"You shall know, Sally, I promise you. I wouldn't even get engaged
without your knowledge."

"Oh," said Sally then, brightening unconsciously, "then she hasn't
given her answer yet?"

Fox had hard work to keep from laughing, but he did.

"Not yet," he said.

"It seems to me she takes her time about it," Sally observed.

"Should she give me her answer before she is asked?"

"Oh!" Sally cried. "So you haven't even asked her! Well, I think
you're a slow poke."

"Do you?" Fox said slowly. "Do you? Well, perhaps I am. Perhaps I am.
It had not occurred to me. I'll think it over."

"And Margaret--" said Sally.

"Margaret!" Fox interrupted, mystified.

"Considering the imminence of the--the catastrophe," Sally went on,
smiling a little, "it might be just as well to climb while I have the
chance."

"Now?"

Sally looked around. The crowd was thinning, but it was still a crowd.

"Perhaps not now. But on the first opportunity."

"There'll be a good many opportunities. Even after--"

Sally shook her head. "I couldn't come here, you know, and climb
trees. Only think what Margaret would say--and think!"

"Margaret!" Fox exclaimed again. "Why, I don't remember intimating
anything about--"

"Oh, Doctor Sanderson," cried a high and quavering voice; the voice of
Miss Patty Havering Hazen, "here you are at last! I have been looking
everywhere."

Ah! Doctor Sanderson; you are saved again! Good for you, Patty! Good
on your head! But is it possible that the doctor did not want to be
saved? Did we hear aright?

"Damn!" observed Doctor Sanderson quietly. It was a heartfelt
observation made for his own satisfaction, so far as a mere remark
could accomplish that desirable end, and was intended, we may be sure,
for no other ears than his own. But Sally heard it and chuckled.

Yes, good for you, Patty! There is no knowing what he might have been
led into saying if he had not been interrupted at this point; what
unwise course he might have pursued. You were just in time, Patty, to
save him from his folly.



CHAPTER XVIII


That old office from whose windows one could see the rows of oil casks
and the fence of old ships' sheathing and the black dust of the road
and the yards of vessels--that old office which had been sleeping for
something more than a year--that old office which had been left behind
when the business centre of Whitby began to move uptown, so many years
ago--that old office, as I started to say at the beginning, was waking
up again.

One hot morning in early August, Horry Carling stood at the window,
his hands thrust deep into his pockets, and he gazed at a row of oil
casks; gazed thoughtfully and for a long time. Then a smile began to
curl the corners of his mouth. Presently he chuckled.

"I s--s--say, O--Ol--lie, c--c--come here; th--that is, if--f--f
S--S--Sally c--can s--s--spare you."

Sally looked up from her papers. Her hair was in a pretty disorder; in
a disorder that was very attractive, indeed, being somewhat rumpled in
the front and running over with little ringlets, formed by the heat
and the dampness, at her forehead and by the sides of her ears and
down at her neck. She was busy, but she was interested and she was
happy, for which I, for one, am thankful. She brushed the ringlets out
of her eyes, impatiently, and smiled.

"Go ahead, Ollie," she said. "What is it, Horry?"

"O--only a r--r--row of b--b--bar--r--rels," he replied. Ollie Pilcher
was standing at his elbow now, looking over his shoulder. "D--d--do
y--y--you rem--em--mmb--ber th--that r--r--row?" Horry asked.
"M--m--might b--b--be the th--the v--v--very s--same b--b--b--barrels."

Ollie burst out laughing. He did remember. "How long ago was that,
Horry?"

"S--s--sev--ven years," he answered. "Ab--b--bout th--this t--t--time
o' y--year, w--w--wasn't it?"

Ollie nodded.

"Oh," Sally cried, "I remember that, too."

Horry turned. "Y--y--you d--do!" he spluttered in surprise.
"Wh--wh--where w--w--were y--you?"

"Sitting at that very window," she returned. "Uncle John saw it,
too,--some of it."

Horry chuckled again. "Y--y--your Un--n--cle"--here he winked and gave
a peculiar twitch to his eyebrows, as though that last syllable hurt
him--"J--J--John w--was a b--brick, S--S--Sally."

"He was, Horry. You don't know what a brick he was." She sighed
lightly and then she laughed. "Whatever did you do with your jacket?"

"M--m--most s--set th--the h--house af--f--fire w--with it. I--it
w--w--was a p--pretty n--n--new j--j--j--th--there!--c--coat, and
m--m--moth--ther c--c--couldn't b--b--bear to th--throw it aw--w--way,
s--so sh--sh--she k--k--kept it l--lying ar--r--round 'n--n--ntil
w--w--winter. Th--then sh--she t--t--told m--me t--to p--p--put it
in--n--to th--the f--f--furnace. M--m--most s--set th--the h--house
af--f--f--fire. F--f--full o' o--o--oil, y' kn--n--now. H--h--hor--rid
sm--sm--smoke."

Ollie and Sally were chuckling in little bursts.

Horry sighed. "Th--those t--t--times w--were f--f--fun, th--though,"
he said; "g--great--t--test f--f--fun th--that e--ever w--was.
N--never c--c--come ag--g--gain, w--will th--they, Ol--Ollie?"

"Oh," Ollie replied lazily, grinning, "I don't know. I'd like to run
'em again, right now."

"You boys had better not," Sally remarked, with a shake of the head.
"Those barrels belong to the firm, you know. You'd be the losers, as
well as I--and the Hazen Estate."

"'T--t w--w--would b--be m--m--more f--f--fun th--than s--some
th--things I kn--n--now ab--b--bout," Horry observed cryptically,
"an' l--l--less ex--x--xpen--s--sive."

Ollie looked at him and they both grinned and went back to their
desks.

As may have been inferred, Horry Carling and Ollie Pilcher were, if
not members of the firm of John Hazen, Inc., at least stockholders.
Harry Carling would have liked to enter the Law School; but being
debarred, for obvious reasons, from practising law, he had chosen
engineering. Which, it may be remarked in passing, having been chosen
rather from reasons of expedience than because he had any natural
taste or aptitude in that direction, may not have been a wise choice.
Horry, who had gone into what he liked the best and wanted the most,
stood a much better chance of making a success of his life. Had not
his grandfather been a great ship captain almost all the days of his
life? And Ollie's grandfather, too? It was in their blood. If the salt
is in a man's blood--or a boy's--it must come out, sooner or later, or
engender a ferment which will trouble that man as long as he lives.
And Horry and Ollie, having the natural taste for what they were doing
and having had a pretty fair training for it all through their
boyhood, fitted into the new firm of John Hazen, Inc., like new parts
into a machine. It needed only a little polishing by wear for that
machine to run as smoothly as it had been running for fifty years.

Sally worked hard at her new business. She had compounded with her
conscience by not giving up her teaching yet--definitely. She would
teach one more year, at least. Then, she said to herself, if she still
felt as she did now, it would not be right for her to keep on with it.
Meanwhile, she would have some time every afternoon, and, with Horry
and Ollie,--really, it was going pretty well, much better than she had
sometimes feared. And at this point she would sigh and smile and fall
to looking out of the window at the yards of the ships--_her_ ships,
she liked to think, although, of course, they were not all hers, but
they belonged to the stockholders in John Hazen, Inc., according to
their holdings, and that list included Patty and Dick and Horry
Carling and Ollie Pilcher and some others; but she liked to look out
at the vessels and imagine that they were all hers. And she saw the
rows of oil-barrels and the black dust of the road, which was kept
pretty well stirred up by the feet of the horses which dragged the
heavy trucks in an almost continuous procession. At any rate, she
could call the dust hers,--if she wanted to,--for it would not have
been stirred up if it had not been for her, but would have lain
quietly there until it ceased to be dust at all and became no more
than the surface of a street that was almost abandoned; baked hard by
the sun and gullied by the rain and somewhat grass-grown. Then she
would laugh and decide that she did not want the dust anyway; she had
quite enough of that. As for her method of compounding with her
conscience, it pleased her better than it pleased Mr. MacDalie, who
did not share her misgivings.

Sally's efforts were not enough to induce Charlie to spend his
vacation slaving in an office. Every one might not call the occupation
of Horry and Ollie slaving. Sally mildly suggested that view of the
matter.

"If I owned some stock in it, the matter would have a different
aspect, no doubt," Charlie replied sarcastically. "As it is, I should
be nothing but a clerk."

He was lucky to have the chance to start with that, Sally pointed out.
It was possible that he was not fitted to be more than office boy.

With this shot, which may have been unduly hard upon Charlie, Sally
turned away. Charlie, at any rate, thought it unduly hard, and felt
much injured. Sally was always hard on him; unfair. What could she
know against him? And, having procured a horse at a livery
stable,--the liveliest young horse they had, with the most stylish
rig, which, by the way, Sally would have the privilege of paying
for,--Charlie took his way out to Doctor Sanderson's to see Patty and
to be consoled and, incidentally, with the secret hope that Patty had
a few dollars to spare for a deserving and much misunderstood boy. For
Patty managed to save up a few dollars for that purpose now and then,
although Dick had greatly curtailed her sources of supply. No, they
were _his_ sources of supply which had been curtailed by Dick, Charlie
said to himself. Damn Dick anyway! What right had he to do such a
thing? Where should he, Charlie, get money in time of need? Where
should he, indeed? Damn Dick! And Charlie gave the lively young horse
a cut with the whip, as if the horse were responsible. The lively
young horse resented cuts with the whip and proceeded to run; which
gave Charlie so much occupation that he forgot, for the moment, about
Dick.

Charlie was getting more and more into the habit of getting rigs at
the livery stable, as the summer went on,--rigs which were invariably
charged to Sally, she having made no objection to previous charges of
a like nature--and of going out to see Patty. Doctor Sanderson's place
was so indecently far out anyway that you had to have a horse or an
automobile. He couldn't be expected to walk it, and, of course, he had
to see Patty occasionally. You wouldn't have him so ungrateful as not
to go to see her at all, would you? He supposed Sally would have to
pay for the rigs, for _he_ hadn't any of Uncle John's money, had he?
The fact that this was not strictly true did not seem to occur to him;
and the fact that Patty had put the stout horse at his disposal made
no difference, so far as the livery stable was concerned.
They--meaning Sally--might consider themselves lucky that he did not
get an automobile to make the journey of two miles and a half. He
couldn't be expected to drive a horse that was thirty years old and
was only fit for the bone-yard, now, could he? You could make it in
five minutes with an auto and he thought that they--meaning Sally
again--might save money if he did get one. Of course he wasn't going
to. He would defer to their absurd prejudice on that point. And more
to the same effect.

It was no wonder that Sally turned away without speaking. She was
afraid to answer; afraid of what she might be led to say. And she
would go down to the office and sit looking out of the window and
wondering what was to become of Charlie and what she could do about
it; wondering what it was that he did in college that it seemed to
have such an unfortunate influence on him; wondering whether it would
not be better for him, after all, to come out and be made to go to
work. She almost decided that it would. Then she remembered that she
had not the only word to say about that. There were others who would
have something to say and the attempt would raise a storm. Sally was
not afraid of storms, but--well--and she would look up to find Horry
staring at her as if he wanted to tell her something.

"What is it, Horry?" she would ask, smiling.

Horry would be distinctly embarrassed. He always was: and he always
made the same reply. "N--no--noth--th-thing, S--S--Sally," he would
say, with a sigh. "I--i--it's n--n--noth--th--thing, o--only I
h--h--hate t--to s--s--see you s--so b--b--both--thered ab--b--b--bout
an--n--nyth--th--thing. Ch--er--n--n--nob--body's wo--worth it."

That was as much as she could get out of him, although, to tell the
truth, she did not try very hard. She only asked her question for his
sake, he seemed to want so much to tell something. It did not occur to
her that what Horry wanted to say he wanted to say for her sake; and
it was for her sake that he did not say it, although it trembled on
the very tip of his tongue. Perhaps it trembled too much. Perhaps, if
he had found speaking an easier matter, he would have told what he
seemed to be on the point of telling.

Toward the last of August, Henrietta and Dick came back. Henrietta, of
course, did not have much time, but she did manage to come and see
Sally at the office, one afternoon, on which occasion she completely
upset the business of John Hazen, Inc., and all the members of the
firm, both present and prospective, fluttered about her and gave her
their undivided attention. Naturally, this state of affairs pleased
Henrietta, but it embarrassed her, too, for you can't--or a girl who
has been recently married can't--speak out freely concerning the
secrets which burden her bosom before two unmarried young
fellows,--not that the fact of their being unmarried made any
difference, of course,--but before two young fellows whom she had
never seen before in her life. But Henrietta made an effort to see
Sally alone, and on the occasion of that effort, which was successful,
she talked a steady stream about Dick, to all of which Sally assented
with a smile and with as much enthusiasm as even Henrietta could wish.

"And, you know, Sally," she said at the end of this eulogium--and
otherwise, "you know, we are in a difficulty now. It is not a very
great difficulty and yet it is, too. We don't know where to live."

"How terrible!" said Sally.

"There are so few houses that are--well, dignified enough; suited to
Dick's position, you know."

"Why don't you build?"

"We might, of course, but that would take a long time, and--and, to
tell the truth, I've set my--we have set our hearts on an old house;
not too old, you know."

"I see," said Sally; "just old enough."

"Exactly," Henrietta agreed. "Just old enough. Now there's Miss
Patty's house. It's restored and the work's done."

"Well?"

"And Miss Patty doesn't seem inclined to live in it. She doesn't like
to leave Fox's. I saw her and spoke about it, and she said so."

"Well, then, where is the difficulty? Patty's house is a very
pleasant, homelike house. I judge that it is just old enough. Can't
you rent it?"

"No," said Henrietta in accents of despair. "Patty won't rent it. She
says she may want to go back at any minute. She said she'd be glad to
oblige me, as Doctor Sanderson's sister, but my being Mr.
Torrington's wife changes the aspect of the matter. She seems to have
some grudge against Dick."

Sally laughed. "That isn't so strange. Knowing Patty, I should think
you'd better give up the idea for the present."

"That's just it," Henrietta replied hastily. "For the present. That
makes it unwise for us to build, when we may be able to get that house
at any time almost. Of course, Dick must not seem to force Miss Patty
in any way. He had to use his authority under the will, you know. Mr.
Hazen would have expected him to and would have _wished_ him to, or
why should he have made his will that way? He _had_ to--Dick, I mean,
of course--Dick simply _had_ to, don't you see, Sally, when he found
that Patty had been using all that money and she wouldn't tell what
she had used it for--wouldn't give a hint, you know. Dick only wanted
a hint, so that he could keep his accounts straight, or something of
that sort. It wasn't evident at all that Patty had used it for
herself--Oh!" And Henrietta suddenly clapped her hand over her pretty
mouth. "Have I been telling secrets, Sally? Have I?" She looked rather
scared, as people were apt to be in any matter which concerned Sally,
though I can't see why. Sally was as mild as a lamb in such cases.

She was mild now, but she was gazing at Henrietta with solemn and
serious eyes, as if she had discovered a new country.

"I don't know, Henrietta," she replied, "whether you are telling
secrets or not. What you were telling was news to me. If you are in
any doubt about it, I should think you'd better not tell any more. But
you can see why Patty is not inclined to do any favor for Dick."

"Well," returned Henrietta slowly--slowly for her, "I suppose I can,
although _I_ think that Dick is doing her the _greatest_ favor. As far
as her house is concerned, Dick might feel at liberty to rent to any
one else, but not to himself. I'm sure I hope he won't rent to anybody
else, whatever he does or Patty doesn't do. He ought not to do
anything that could be considered dishonorable, of course, but I
can't quite see why this would be. But he simply won't."

"No," said Sally. "I should expect that of Dick."

"There doesn't seem to be anything to do about it," Henrietta
continued, "unless--unless," she suggested with hesitation, "you would
see Patty, Sally."

Sally smiled with amusement. "Of course I will if you want me to,
Henrietta. But I'm not the one to make a successful emissary to Patty.
I'm not in favor any more than Dick. You'd much better make up to
Charlie if you want anything of Patty; much better."

"That seems to be a good idea," Henrietta murmured, gazing
thoughtfully at Sally the while, "and easy too. I'll do it."



CHAPTER XIX


Henrietta had no great difficulty in doing it. She made a good
beginning before Charlie went back to college, although she had only a
little more than a fortnight, and she continued her attentions at
frequent intervals thereafter. There was nothing crude about either
Henrietta or her methods. She did not let him suspect her object or,
indeed, that she had an object, and Charlie did not look for one. His
own attractions were enough, goodness knows, to account for any
attentions that might be lavished upon him, and he accepted those
attentions almost as a matter of course. But as attentions and he had
become, to a certain extent, strangers,--always excepting Patty's
attentions, which did not count,--Charlie was very grateful in his
inmost soul and he made the most of them. He came down to Whitby more
often than he had been in the habit of doing and he invariably went to
the Torringtons' at the first possible moment and spent as much time
there as he could. He even developed a certain shyness which was very
becoming. But he avoided Dick. He had a grudge against Dick and he was
resolved not to forget it. Dick had done him an injury.

He did find himself forgetting that injury, in time. Who, in the face
of Dick's leisurely cordiality and general good nature, could remember
not to forget it? And in time--not so very long a time either--he
perceived that Henrietta had a secret sorrow which gnawed like a worm
at her heart. He set himself the task of pursuing this sorrow and
plucking it out; and--marvel of marvels!--he succeeded in dragging
from the unwilling Henrietta some information as to its nature. We
can, perhaps, imagine the reluctance with which this information was
given.

Charlie, although he may have been secretly disappointed that
Henrietta's sorrow was not more serious,--he may have thought that it
was of no less import than that she had found, too late, that she
loved another man better than she did her husband,--Charlie, I say,
although he may have been disappointed, managed to conceal whatever of
disappointment he felt.

"Oh," he said magnanimously and with sufficient indifference, "don't
you worry about that. I can fix that. I'll just speak to Patty about
it the very next time I go out there."

He did; and he reported to Henrietta that he had prevailed upon Patty
to consent to any arrangement she liked. He had also prevailed upon
Patty--not reported to Henrietta--to scrape together as many dollars
as she could conveniently manage to scrape--conveniently or
inconveniently, it was all one to Charlie--and to hand them over to
him for some purpose. It really does not matter what the purpose was.
Charlie was very fertile in invention, and if it was not one thing it
was another. Any excuse was good enough. But the strain was telling
upon Patty. Charlie should have been more careful.

Henrietta was so pleased with the report that she redoubled her
attentions. This may not have been wise, but there seems to be no
doubt that it was good for Charlie, on the whole. He went in to number
seven but once before Christmas, and there might have been some ground
for hope that, between Henrietta's attentions and his devotion to
automobiles, he might be induced to give it up altogether. Harry
Carling, who was keeping as close a watch upon Charlie as he could,
hoped so, at all events.

For Charlie, in his sophomore year, ran to motor cars. Indulgence of a
fine fancy for motors is apt to be expensive, as Patty was finding
out, but it is not as expensive as Charlie's one other diversion is
apt to be, on occasion. That his one experience of it, in his first
term, was not more expensive must be set down solely to luck.

Automobiles were bad enough, as a diversion, for a boy who could
afford them no better than Charlie Ladue. Patty learned of them with
horror. She had hoped, fondly, that Charlie had given them up after
his experience with them only last Easter; oh, she _hoped_ he had. She
said it with tears in her eyes and with an agonized expression that
would have melted a heart less hard than Charlie's. But Charlie merely
smiled. That phantom car had done him no harm, although he did not
call it a phantom car to Patty. Motor cars were not for the Hazens;
not for people of the older régime. And Charlie smiled again and
remarked that they might not have come to motors yet, but they would.
Patty said, with some spirit, that they were vulgar and that
they--they had a bad smell. For her part, she was satisfied to go no
faster than nature intended. The horse, as Charlie might be aware, was
the fastest animal that goes.

Having delivered this shot with evident pride, Patty sat back in her
chair and waited to see if Charlie would be able to make any reply.
She considered that last argument unanswerable. Charlie apparently did
not. He observed that Pat's horse, rising thirty and rather fat, could
hardly be called the fastest animal that goes. He never was very fast.
But he contented himself with that, for Patty had just turned over to
him all the ready money that she could raise and was feeling really
impoverished in consequence. So Charlie, having got what he came for,
took his leave, bidding Pat not to be anxious on his account, for he
wasn't going to get smashed up again--he almost forgot to put in the
"again"--and he wasn't going to spend much money on machines in the
future. They always cost more at first, before you got used to them.
With this comforting assurance, at which poor Patty sighed and said
that she hoped he was right, Charlie went out cheerfully to sit behind
one of the fastest animals that go, and to take the rig, for which
Sally would have to pay, back to the livery stable.

Nothing in particular happened that winter, except that Dick and
Henrietta moved into Miss Patty's house early in February. Patty was
getting to be considered--and to consider herself--one of Doctor
Sanderson's patients. And the Retreat was filling up and she did not
want to give up her comfortable room, with the probable chance that
she would be unable to get it again when she came back. In fact, it
looked as if anybody had better hold on to what she had at Doctor
Sanderson's.

So Sally saw but little of Fox that winter. They were both very busy,
and Sally had her hands and her head full, with the office and her
school, too. But she liked the office in spite of the work which,
between you and me, was not very hard. There was a good deal of it,
but it was interesting and Sally went home at night, tired and happy
and with her head full of schemes. Sometimes Everett was waiting for
her. She did not know whether she liked that or not, but there did not
seem to be reason enough for sending him away. She did not quite know
what her relations were with Everett; friendly, she hoped, no more.
For there was a difference between Sally's state of mind now and her
state of mind the year before. She was not indifferent now, she was
happy and things mattered in a wholesome way. But Sally knew that Fox
had not opened the cream-colored house again; not since Henrietta's
wedding. He had not even made any preparations to open it. Sally was
watching that house, out of the corner of her eye, and she knew. What
an old slow poke he was, wasn't he? The winter was gone before she
knew it and it was almost Easter. Then, one afternoon, Charlie made
his appearance, suddenly and unexpectedly, and went up to see
Henrietta almost immediately.

Sally was vaguely worried by this sudden appearance of Charlie, she
could not tell why. She had felt, all along, a great relief that he
had taken so readily to the Henrietta treatment and she had felt some
surprise at it. Having worried about it for an hour, she put it aside.
It would be time enough to worry when she knew there was something to
worry about. When that time did come, she would not have time to
worry, for she would probably be too busy doing something about it.
It was inaction that worried Sally, which is the case with most of us.
At any rate, Charlie was all right for the present. He had only gone
up to Henrietta's. Then Harry Carling came in: "J--j--just c--c--came
d--d--down t--to s--s--see H--H--Ho--orry, y--y--you kn--n--now,
S--S--Sally, f--f--for a m--m--min--n--nute." And Sally smiled and
shook hands with Harry and hastened to say--to save Horry the painful
experience of mentioning the matter--that he could go whenever he
wanted to, so far as she knew. And they went out together.



CHAPTER XX


John Upjohn Junior ran into the house just in time for supper. He was
so excited and his entrance was so precipitate that he almost collided
with his mother, who had just reached the foot of the stairs; and only
by the exercise of almost superhuman agility he managed to avoid that
catastrophe. It was just as well, for many reasons; the reason which
influenced John Junior being that such an accident was likely to
result, then and thereafter, in more damage to himself than to his
mother.

He flung his cap down on the hall table with such violence that it
slid off and fell upon the floor; but he could not pick it up at the
moment because he was engaged in shedding his overcoat, which
immediately slipped off of his arms upon a chair. He began to speak at
once.

"M--m--m--moth--ther!" he exclaimed explosively. "I--I--'v--ve--darn
it all!"

Mrs. Upjohn rebuked her offspring mildly. "John, what is the matter
with you? Is your name Carling, that you can't speak without
stuttering so? And I should think you would do well to moderate your
language, at any rate when you speak to your mother. And you must
learn to come into the house less like a tornado. Come in quietly,
like a gentleman."

John Junior gave a contemptuous grunt. "J--just been h--hearing the
Carlings talking. That's wh--why I can't talk 'n' wh--why I
st--st--stut--t--ter so. Gosh darn it! I mean hang it!"

"Pick up your cap, John," Mrs. Upjohn commanded sternly. "And hang it,
if you will." This pun of Mrs. Upjohn's somewhat softened her stern
command. She could not help smiling.

John kicked his cap out from behind the table and, picking it up,
threw it at the hat-rack, where it happened to catch and stick. He
began again.

"I--I--I'v--ve g--g--got s--s--s--"

"Suppose you go up and wash your face and hands," Mrs. Upjohn
suggested, "and come down to supper. The bell rang before you came in.
When you come down you may be able to talk intelligibly."

So John Junior rushed upstairs and, after an incredibly short period,
during which we must suppose that he went through some sort of an
operation which he regarded as sufficient, he appeared again, slid
down the balusters like lightning, landed at the bottom with an
appalling thump, and ran into the dining-room.

"Guess I can talk now," he announced, taking his chair by the back and
sliding it under him. "I was hurrying home, so's not to be late to
supper, when I came up behind the Carlings. They--Letty ain't here, is
she?" he added, looking about doubtfully.

"No," Mrs. Upjohn replied. "You know that Letty won't come again for
more than a month."

"Huh!" growled John Junior. "She will if she feels like it. Never can
tell when she'll be here. She's always here."

Mrs. Upjohn was a little slow about taking anything in. She had been
puzzling over John's former speech and had just the full import of it.

"Did you say the Carlings, John?" she asked. "I don't see how that can
be, for Harry's in Cambridge."

"He ain't either," John replied amiably. "Don't you s'pose I'd know
those freaks? I guess I would."

"Well," said Mrs. Upjohn doubtfully.

"And they were talking together," John continued, "or trying to talk.
They didn't know I was behind 'em, and I kept still as I could so's I
could hear what they said. They ought to have an interpreter. But I
got most of it, and then I slid out for fear they'd see me. What d'you
s'pose they were talking about?"

"I'm sure I don't know," said Mrs. Upjohn curiously.

"What?"

John kept his mother in suspense while he disposed of his mouthful. He
swallowed twice, then took a drink of water. At last he was ready and
he looked at his mother, suspending operations for that purpose.

"Charlie Ladue's a gambler," he announced abruptly.

"What!" Mrs. Upjohn exclaimed. But she was pleased in spite of
herself. What would Letty say to that? "Are you sure you heard it
right?"

"'Course I'm sure."

"Well, John, I'm grieved to hear it. You must be careful not to talk
about it."

"'Course I won't talk about it. I'll stop now if you want me to."

"No," said Mrs. Upjohn judicially. "No, I think you ought to tell me
all you heard. How long has it been going on and where does Charlie
go?"

So John Junior retailed at some length all that he had heard, rather
to the neglect of his supper. Certain important details were lacking
and he had to fill them in from his imaginings, which were rather
defective as to the points under discussion.

"Well," said Mrs. Upjohn, when the recital and the supper were both
finished, "I think somebody ought to be told. I don't just like to
tell Sally, but she ought to know."

"They didn't want to tell Sally either. Horry Carling's in her office
and he could tell her easy enough if he wanted to."

"That's so," Mrs. Upjohn agreed. "I guess I'll tell Patty. I have a
pretty good idea where Charlie's money came from. Patty won't thank
me, but somebody ought to open her eyes. I'll go out there to-morrow.
I wonder if I couldn't find somebody who's going out. You look around,
early to-morrow, before school, and see if you can't find somebody
that's going and send him up here. There's no need to hire a horse,
for that."

Accordingly the grocer's delivery wagon stopped at the house the next
forenoon, and the boy asked for Mrs. Upjohn. That lady came to the
door, looking a little puzzled. It seemed that John had--

Mrs. Upjohn laughed. "And he's gone to school," she said. "I didn't
mean that he should ask you." She laughed again. "But I don't know why
I shouldn't go in a grocery wagon. It's perfectly respectable."

"Yes, ma'am," the boy replied, grinning. "And it's a very nice wagon,
almost new, and it's very comfortable."

Patty was sitting at her window when the grocer's wagon stopped at the
door and Mrs. Upjohn got out.

"Mercy on us!" Patty exclaimed. "If there isn't Alicia Upjohn! She'll
break her neck. Come in a grocer's wagon! Alicia was always queer, but
there is a point beyond which--yes, there _is_ a point beyond which
she should not allow herself to go." And Miss Patty gasped faintly and
leaned back, and in a few minutes she heard Mrs. Upjohn at her door.

That interview was painful to Patty, at least. Mrs. Upjohn was rather
pressed for time, as the grocer's boy could not wait more than fifteen
minutes. It is a little difficult to break unwelcome news gently in
fifteen minutes. It might have been difficult to break this particular
news, which was very unwelcome, even if there had been no time limit
set by a grocer's boy. But within ten minutes Mrs. Upjohn had Patty in
tears and protesting her belief in Charlie's innocence and exhibiting
all her characteristic obstinacy in the face of proof. Had not Charlie
been there that very morning to see her? He had just left, indeed, and
he had been as loving as the most exacting of doting aunts could wish.
Didn't Alicia suppose that she, Patty, would be able to detect any
signs of wrong-doing on his part? At which Alicia smiled and made a
reply which made Patty almost frantic and within the five minutes
which remained Patty had told Alicia that she would do well to mind
her own business and she wished she would go and never come near her
again. So, the fifteen minutes being almost up, Alicia went, with
what dignity she could summon. She met Doctor Beatty in the lower hall
and told him that he had better see to Patty, who seemed beside
herself. He went at once; and Mrs. Upjohn seized that opportunity to
climb into her seat beside the grocer's boy.

Doctor Beatty was with Patty a long time and used every art he had--he
hadn't many, but he used all he had with a degree of patience that was
surprising--to quiet Patty, who needed quieting if ever anybody did.
He was more alarmed by that disturbance of Patty's than he would have
acknowledged; more than he had expected, he found, although he had
been in daily expectation of something of the kind.

He found her muttering to herself and exclaiming brokenly. She looked
at him with wild eyes. "Go away!" she cried as he entered. "He's not,
I tell you. He never did!"

"No," Doctor Beatty agreed calmly. "Certainly not. But there! You
don't want me to go away, Patty." He pulled up a chair and sat down.

"Not that chair!" she cried. "Not that chair! That's the chair she sat
in--Alicia Upjohn. If you sit in it you'll say so, too. Take any
other, but not that one."

"Oh, very well," he said. And he drew up another chair and sat down.
"Now, tell me what's the matter."

At this Patty began to weep violently. Her sentences were broken, and
now and then she gave a loud cry that seemed to be wrung from her
heart.

"Alicia oughtn't to have said it. She might have known how--that
I--how I would f-f--Oh!" She could not speak for a moment. "She just
wanted me to think that that was where my money went. She's a spiteful
thing. Oh, how could she? How could she? Cruel! Cruel!" Patty fell to
weeping again. She seemed to lose all control over herself. She rocked
to and fro and leaned so far over, in her new fit of crying, that
Doctor Beatty put out his hand to save her from falling. He was glad
to have her cry so.

She seized his hand and pressed it and looked up at him appealingly,
her eyes raining tears. "Oh, Meriwether," she sobbed, "you don't think
he does, do you? Tell me that you don't."

He looked down into those faded eyes. "Certainly I don't, Patty," he
answered gently. Out of the pity which he felt for her, he may have
pressed her hand a little. He had but the faintest idea what she was
talking about.

Patty flushed and relaxed her hold upon his hand. "You are a
c-c-comfort, Meriwether," she said more calmly. "It is a great deal to
know that I have one friend, at least, who understands me. I--I--have
so few, Meriwether!" She began to sob again. "S-so f-f-few, and I used
to have so so many!"

"Cry quietly as much as you like, Patty. It will do you good."

He made a slight movement, at which Patty cried out.

"Don't go! Don't go yet!" She put out her hand blindly, as if to stop
him.

"I'll stay until you are yourself again. Never fear." He sighed
faintly.

It was a new rôle for Doctor Beatty, but he played it better than
would have been expected. Patty turned to the window and he heard the
sound of sobbing steadily for some time. At last the sound ceased. She
was sitting with her chin resting on her hand, which held her wet
handkerchief crumpled up into a tight ball; and she was looking out
through her tears, but seeing nothing, and she seemed to have
difficulty in breathing.

"He's such a good boy--to me!" she said, without turning. "Such a good
boy! I am so fond of him that it almost breaks my heart to have
anybody say--say such things. How can they? How can they have the
heart?" She gave a single sob.



CHAPTER XXI


Sally sat by her window in the office of John Hazen, Inc., looking
absently out of it. Doctor Beatty was talking to her earnestly, in low
tones, and she was serious and sober, listening intently.

"Mrs. Upjohn," he was saying,--"thrifty soul!--came out to Sanderson's
this morning with the grocer's boy"--Sally chuckled suddenly, in spite
of her seriousness, but stopped as suddenly--"and went up to see
Patty. I'd like," he interrupted himself to say emphatically, "to see
every visitor of suspicious character required to show cause for
seeing the patients. Yes," he nodded in reply to a questioning look of
Sally's, "Patty is a patient. There's no doubt about that, I'm afraid.
And Mrs. Upjohn is a suspicious character. There is no doubt about
that either. Oh, yes, well-meaning, perhaps; even probably. But she
should not have been allowed to see Patty. I consider Patty's
condition--er--ticklish. Distinctly ticklish."

Sally was surprised. "What do you mean? How is her condition
ticklish?"

"Mentally," he replied.

Sally turned to Doctor Beatty with a start and looked him straight in
the eyes. She wanted to see just what he meant. Then she shuddered.

"I hope not," she said.

"Well, we won't think of it. We are doing our best. But Mrs. Upjohn
succeeded in upsetting her completely in a very few minutes. I was
afraid, at first, that the mischief was done. Oh, it wasn't. She came
back all right. I couldn't make her tell me what Mrs. Upjohn had said,
but, picking up a thread here and there, I judged that Charlie had
been misbehaving himself somehow. I couldn't find out just how. I am
sorry to add another log to your load, Sally, but I thought that you
would be glad to be told of what seems to be common report. I know
that I would."

"I am," she said. "I'm glad and sorry, too. But I'm greatly obliged to
you." She was silent for some little time, looking out and thinking
hard. "Do you know what kind of misbehavior it is?" she asked. "I'm
pretty familiar with several kinds," she added, with a hard little
laugh. "Don't be afraid to tell me the truth if you know it."

Doctor Beatty shook his head. "I don't know it. It seems to be
connected with Patty's money."

"I have been afraid of it, but it has been impossible to get hold of
anything definite," replied Sally gravely. "Even you aren't telling me
anything definite, although I believe you would if you knew it."

He nodded. "You may be sure I would, Sally."

"It is really curious how hard it is for people to find out what
concerns them most nearly," she continued. "Everybody is most
considerate of one's feelings." She gave another hard little laugh.
"I've not much doubt that almost everybody in town, excepting
Charlie's relatives and near friends,--if he has any,--has known of
this for a long time. It would have been the part of kindness to tell
me."

"If it had been more than mere rumor," Doctor Beatty agreed, "it would
have been. I understand," he went on with a quiet smile, "that that
was Mrs. Upjohn's idea in telling Patty. She considered the rumor
verified. Her motive seems to have been good, but the method adopted
was bad; very bad. It's difficult, at best."

Sally was silent again for some time. "Poor Patty!" she murmured.
"It's hard on her. If she has lost money in that way I must pay her
back."

Doctor Beatty made no reply. Sally had not said it to him.

"I believe," she said, turning to him, "that I know how I can find out
all about it--from a trustworthy source," she added, smiling gravely,
"as Miss Lambkin would put it."

The doctor muttered impatiently under his breath. Letty Lambkin! But
he had done his errand, for which service Sally thanked him again.

Doctor Beatty had been gone but a few minutes when Horry Carling came
in. He nodded pleasantly to Sally and was taking off his overcoat.

"Horry," said Sally suddenly, "what has Charlie been doing?"

Horry stopped, his coat hanging by the arms and his mouth open, and
looked at her. He was very much startled.

"Wh--wh--what?" he asked at last.

"I asked you what Charlie has been doing. What mischief has he been up
to? I am pretty sure he has been misbehaving himself since he has been
in college. How? Has he been in bad company?"

"W--w--well, y--y--yes," Horry stammered, getting rather red, "I
th--th--think h--he h--h--has."

"Do you mean women, Horry?"

Horry's face went furiously red at that question. "N--n--n--no,"--he
was in such a hurry to say it that he was longer than usual about
it,--"n--n--n--noth--th--thing of th--th--that k--k--kind,
th--th--that I kn--n--now of. G--g--g--gam--m--"

"Gambling, Horry?" Sally asked the question calmly, as if she merely
wanted to know. She did want to know, very much, but not merely.
Knowing was the first step.

"Y--y--yes," Horry answered. He seemed very much relieved. "H--h--he
has g--g--gam--m--mbled almost ev--v--ver s--s--since h--he's
b--b--been th--th--there," he added. And he went on in as much haste
as he could manage, which was not so very much. Neither he nor Harry
had been in Charlie's confidence. Most of the fellows didn't care a
rap, of course, and didn't pay attention; but--but Harry and he had
cared and--and--they had--and Horry got very red again and stopped in
confusion.

Sally smiled upon him. "Thank you for caring, Horry," she said
gently. "Was that what you seemed to have on your mind all last
summer? I thought you wanted to tell me something."

He nodded.

"I wonder why you didn't. I should have been grateful."

"C--c--couldn't b--bear to. We d--d--did t--tell D--D--Dick.
C--c--came d--d--down on p--p--purpose. J--j--just b--bef--f--fore he
g--g--got m--married. I s--s--s'pose he f--f--forg--got a--ab--b--bout
it."

"He must have," sighed Sally. "It isn't like Dick. Now, if you will
tell me all you know, I will promise not to forget about it."

Accordingly, Horry unburdened his soul of the whole story, so far as
he knew it, and Sally listened in silence, only nodding now and then.
What was there to be said? Horry was grateful for her listening and
for her silence and he stuttered less as he went on.

"There!" he concluded. "N--now you kn--n--now all I d--do. I'm
p--p--pumped dry, Sally, and I'm g--glad to g--g--get it off my
m--mind."

"Thank you," said she; and she relapsed into silence and fell to
looking out again.

Horry sat still, waiting for her to say something more; but she did
not and he got up, at last.

"If y--you h--have n--noth--th--thing more t--to ask me, S--Sally--"

Sally turned toward him quickly. "Horry," she said, interrupting him,
"do you know where Charlie goes--to gamble?" It was an effort for her
to say it.

"Y--yes," he replied, blushing furiously again, but not avoiding her
eyes. "I've b--b--been th--there."

"Oh, Horry! And aren't you ashamed?"

"N--n--not es--s--specially. O--only w--w--went once, t--to l--l--look
on, you know. Th--thought I'd l--like to s--see the p--p--place once.
I didn't p--play." Horry shook his head. "I h--haven't g--g--got the
b--bug. Kn--n--new I w--was safe."

Sally seemed to be puzzled. "The bug? Do you mean--"

"The f--f--fever, Sally," he answered, laughing at her bewilderment;
"the sickness--disease of ga--ga--gambling. It's j--j--just as much a
dis--s--ease as the small-pox. Or c--con--sumption. Th--that's
b--b--better, bec--c--cause it lasts l--l--onger and it g--gets
w--w--worse and w--worse."

Sally sighed. "I suppose it is like that. It must be." She looked at
him thoughtfully for so long a time that Horry began to get red once
more and to fidget on his chair. "There must be a cure for it if we
could only find it," she murmured. "Horry," she said suddenly, "do you
suppose Harry would be willing to keep track of Charlie's
movements--without Charlie's knowing, I mean? For a while?"

"Kn--n--now he w--would."

"And would he telegraph me when Charlie goes into that place
again--and just as soon as he can find out? I ought to know as early
in the evening as possible--by six or seven o'clock."

"H--he w--will if he c--c--can f--f--find out in t--t--time.
W--w--wouldn't always b--be s--so easy. I'll t--take c--care of that,
Sally."

"Thank you. I shall be very grateful to you both."

Sally went out to Doctor Sanderson's the next afternoon. Fox saw her
coming and went to meet her.

"How is Patty, Fox?" she asked. She jumped lightly out of the carriage
and stood beside him.

He seemed distinctly disappointed at the question. "So that is what
you came for," he replied. "I hoped it might have had something to do
with me." He sighed. "Patty's all right, I think. Are you going up to
see her?"

Sally shook her head. "I came to see you, Fox. I want to ask your
advice."

"That changes the face of nature," he returned cheerfully. "Will you
come into the office--or anywhere else that you like."

They went into Fox's office and he got her settled in a chair.
"That's the most generally comfortable chair. It's my consultation
chair. I want my patients to be as comfortable as possible before they
begin."

Sally laughed a little. "Now, you sit down and put on your
professional expression."

"It is not difficult to look sympathetic with you, in advance, Sally."

"It is really a serious matter." She was silent for a moment. "Fox,"
she said then abruptly, "Charlie has been gambling."

"Yes."

"You aren't surprised?"

"No."

"And he has used Patty's money, I don't doubt."

"Yes."

"_Fox!_" she cried impatiently. "Did you know all this before? If you
did, I think you might have told me."

"No," he replied gently, "I did not know it. I only suspected it. You
had as much reason to suspect it as I had."

Sally shook her head. "I didn't know all the circumstances--about
Patty's money, for instance. I'm afraid she gave it to him. I don't
know how much."

"Neither do I."

"I must find out and pay her." She was silent again, leaning her chin
on her hand and gazing at Fox. "How can I find out, Fox?"

"I hardly know, Sally." He was silent, in his turn. "It's no use to
ask her, I suppose. You might ask Dick how much was--er--unaccounted
for."

"I might." She nodded with satisfaction. "I will. I shall pay it back.
And I must stop Charlie's gambling. I've got to. I've thought and
thought--for a whole day." She laughed shortly. "I'm no nearer than I
was in half an hour. Oh, Fox, tell me how."

He was looking at her with a great pity in his eyes. He should have
known better. Sally did not like to be pitied. "It's a problem,
Sally. I'm afraid you may not be able to stop it altogether--or
permanently."

"I thought it might do if--but, perhaps I'd better not tell anybody
about it until it's done."

"I commend that idea, in general," Fox replied, smiling, "although a
person should be perfectly frank with her lawyer and her physician. If
I can be of any assistance to you, please remember that nothing would
please me better. Those places are--wouldn't be easy for you to get
into. And, Sally, I should hate to think of your trying it. Can't I do
it?"

Sally smiled at him in a way that he liked very much. "I have no idea
of trying to get in. And, Fox, how much do you know of those places,
as you call them?"

"Not much, but I think I could probably get in."

"Thank you, Fox. There is one thing that you can do and that is to
explain to me why Charlie does it. Or, I suppose I know why he does,
but explain this if you can. Why haven't I the same desire? I am my
father's daughter. Why shouldn't I want to gamble, too, instead of the
very idea of it filling me with disgust?"

He sat for some time with a half smile on his lips, gazing at Sally
and saying nothing. Sally looked up and caught his eye and looked away
again.

"Please tell me, Fox," she said.

"A question of heredity, Sally! Heredity is a subject which I know
very little about. Nobody really knows much about it, for that matter.
A few experiments with peas and guinea-pigs, and, on the other hand, a
great deal of theorizing--which means a man's ideas of what ought to
happen, made to fit; or rather, the cases chosen to fit the ideas. And
neither helps us much when we come to apply them to such a case as
Charlie's. But do you really want me to tell you what I think? I'm no
authority and the whole thing is a matter of guesswork. You might
guess as well as I--or better."

She nodded. "I should like, very much, to know."

"Ah, so should I," he said. "If I only _knew_! I don't. But I will do
my best. Well, then, your father had rather a strong character--"

"Oh, Fox!" she protested.

"He did," he insisted. "Even you had to give in to him sometimes, and
you are the only one in your family who ever stood up against him--who
ever could have. He was lacking in the sense of right, and he had
depraved tastes, perhaps, but his tastes grew by indulgence. Your
mother--forgive me, Sally--has not as strong a character, in a way, but
her sense of right is strong. Perhaps her traditions are as strong."
There were some things which Fox did not know. If he had known all that
had passed in Mrs. Ladue's heart he might not have spoken so
confidently. "You have your mother's tastes,--irreproachable,--her
sense of right and your father's strength; a very excellent
combination." He laughed gently. "And both strengthened by your early
experience. A fiery furnace," he murmured, "to consume the dross."

Sally got red and did not seem pleased. "Go on," she said.

"Charlie got your father's tastes and your mother's lack of strength.
He seems to have no sense of right. He was most unfortunate. He didn't
get a square deal. But his very weakness gives me hope. He will have
to be watched, for he may break away at any time. There was no leading
your father, even in the way he wanted to go. He had to be under
strong compulsion--driven."

"Did you ever drive him, Fox?"

"Once," he answered briefly. "It was no fun."

"I remember the time." She sighed and rose slowly. "Well--"

Fox rose also. "Had enough of my preaching, Sally? I don't do it often
and I don't wonder you don't like it."

She smiled at him gravely and gave him her hand. "I'm greatly obliged
to you, Fox. If you can help me I will ask you to. I promise you
that."

He held her hand much longer than was at all necessary and he gazed
down at her with a longing which he could not hide. Not that he tried;
but she was not looking at him.

"Promise me something else, Sally."

Sally glanced up at him in surprise at his voice. "Anything that I can
do, of course," she said.

The look in his eyes was very tender--and pitying, Sally thought.
"Marry me, Sally. Promise me that."

It was sudden and unexpected, to be sure, but was there any reason why
the quick tears should have rushed to Sally's eyes and why she should
have looked so reproachfully at him? Ah, Doctor Sanderson, you have
made a mess of it now! Sally withdrew her hand quickly.

"Oh, Fox!" she cried low, her eyes brimming. "How could you? How could
you?"

He had hurt her somehow. God knew that he had not meant to. "Why,
Sally," he began, "I only wanted--"

"That's just it," she said quickly; and she could say no more and she
bit her lip and turned and hurried out, leaving Fox utterly bewildered
and gazing after her as if he were paralyzed.

Sally almost ran down the walk and, as she ran, she gave one sob. "He
was only sorry for me," she said to herself; "he only pitied me, and I
won't be pitied. He only wanted--to help me bear my burdens. Dear
Fox!" she thought, with a revulsion of feeling. "He is always
so--wanting to help me bear my burdens. Dear Fox! But he _shall_ be
true--to her," she added fiercely. "Does he think I will help him to
be untrue? Oh, Fox, dear!"

And, biting her lip again, cruelly, she got into the waiting
carriage.



CHAPTER XXII


Mr. Gilfeather's saloon was not on Avenue C, in spite of the fact that
the Licensing Board tried to confine all institutions of the kind to
that historic boulevard. Mr. Gilfeather's saloon, to use his own
words, was a "high-toned and classy place." In consequence of that
fact and perhaps on the condition implied in the term, Mr. Gilfeather
was permitted to conduct his high-toned and classy place on a street
where he would have no competition. It was a little side street,
hardly more than a court, and there was no church within several
hundred feet and no school within several thousand. The little street
was called Gilfeather's Court, and not by its own name, which I have
forgotten; the narrow sidewalk from Main Street to Mr. Gilfeather's
door was well trodden; and that door was marked by day by a pair of
scraggy and ill-conditioned bay trees and by night by a modest light,
in addition.

Mr. Gilfeather may have been grieved by the condition of the bay
trees, which were real trees, if trees which have their roots in
shallow tubs can be called real. At all events, he had resolved to add
to the classy appearance of his place, and to that end he had
concluded arrangements with the Everlasting Decorating Company for
certain palms and ferns, duly set in tubs of earth,--the earth was not
important except as it helped in the illusion,--which ferns and palms
were warranted not to be affected by heat, dryness, or the fumes of
alcohol, and to require no care except an occasional dusting. The men
of the Everlasting Decorating Company had just finished the artistic
disposal of these palms and ferns--as ordered--about the little
mahogany tables, giving to each table a spurious air of seclusion, and
had gone away, smiling and happy, having been treated by Mr.
Gilfeather, very properly, to whatever they liked. Mr. Gilfeather
wandered now among his new possessions, changing this palm by a few
inches and that fern by the least fraction of an inch and, altogether,
lost in admiring contemplation.

What if the glossy green leaves were nothing but varnished green
paper? What if the stems were nothing but fibre with a covering of the
varnished paper here and there? What else were the real stems made of
anyway? And the light in the interior of Mr. Gilfeather's was rather
dim, having to filter in through his small front windows after passing
the tall blank wall of the building opposite, and--well--his
admiration was not undeserved, on the whole. He came back and leaned
against the bar. The bar was by no means the feature of the room. It
was small and modest, but of solid San Domingo mahogany. Mr.
Gilfeather did not want his customers to drink at the bar. He
preferred that they should sit at the tables.

"How is it, Joe?" he asked, turning to the white-coated barkeeper.
"Pretty good, eh?"

The silent barkeeper nodded.

"Switch on the lights over in that corner," Mr. Gilfeather ordered,
"and let's see how she looks." Joe stopped wiping his glasses long
enough to turn to a row of buttons. "That's good. Put 'em all on." Joe
put 'em all on. "That's better. Now," turning to wave his hand upward
over the bar, "light her up."

At his command there appeared on the wall over the bar, a large
painting of a lady clad chiefly in a leopard skin and luxuriant golden
hair and a charming smile. The lady was made visible by electric
lights, screened and carefully disposed, and seemed to diffuse her
presence impartially over the room. Unfortunately, there was nobody to
admire but Mr. Gilfeather and Joe, the barkeeper, and there is some
doubt about Joe's admiration; but she did not seem to mind and she
continued to smile. As they looked, the outer door opened silently and
closed again. Mr. Gilfeather and Joe, warned by the sudden draught,
turned.

"Hello, Ev," said Mr. Gilfeather. "What do you think of it?" He waved
his hand inclusively. "Just got 'em."

Everett inspected the palms and ferns solemnly. "Very pretty. Very
good. It seems to be good, strong paper and well varnished. I don't
see any imitation rubber plants. Where are your rubber plants?"

"Eh?" asked Mr. Gilfeather, puzzled. "Don't you like it? They could
have furnished rubber plants, I s'pose. Think I ought to have 'em?"

"Nothing of the kind is complete without rubber plants," Everett
replied seriously.

Mr. Gilfeather looked at him doubtfully. "Don't you like 'em, Ev?" he
asked. It was almost a challenge. Mr. Gilfeather was nettled and
inclined to be hostile. If Everett was making fun of him--well, he had
better look out.

"It's hardly up to your standard, Tom," he answered. He indicated the
lady in the leopard skin--and in her own--who still smiled sweetly
down at them. "After I have gone to the trouble of selecting paintings
for you, it--er--would be natural to expect that you would consult me
before adding a lot of cheap paper flowers to your decorations. I
should have been happy to advise you."

"Nothing cheap about 'em," growled Mr. Gilfeather. "Had to have
something in here."

"What's the matter with real palms and ferns?"

"What would they cost, I should like to know? And how would I keep 'em
looking decent? Look at them bay trees out there."

"Those bay trees do look a little dejected," Everett agreed, smiling.
"I should employ a good gardener to care for them and for your real
palms and ferns. Our gardener, I am sure, could--"

"I don't s'pose your gardener'd do it for me now, would he?"

Everett smiled again. "Hardly. But he's not the only one in town. It
might cost more, Tom, but it would pay, believe me. Your bar, now, is
the real thing and in good taste. You ought to have things in
keeping."

Mr. Gilfeather emitted a growl and looked almost as dejected as his
bay trees. Everett laughed and moved toward a door beside the bar.

"Anybody up there yet, Tom?" he asked.

Mr. Gilfeather shook his head. "I'll send 'em up." Everett opened the
door and they heard his steps going up the stairs. "Hell!" said Mr.
Gilfeather.

Joe smiled sympathetically, but said nothing.

It was getting towards noon and customers began to straggle in singly
or by twos and threes. Certain of these customers were warned by Mr.
Gilfeather's thumb, pointing directly upward, and vanished. The others
had chosen their favorite tables and had been waited upon by two
white-aproned and silent youths, who had appeared mysteriously from
nowhere. The room gradually filled and gradually emptied again, but
there was no sign of Everett and his friends. Mr. Gilfeather went to
his dinner and came back a little after two o'clock. The high-toned
and classy place showed few customers present. It was a slack time.
Two men, at a table behind a mammoth paper fern, were drinking whiskey
and water and talking earnestly; another, hidden by a friendly palm,
was consuming, in a leisurely manner, a hot Tom and Jerry; another,
tilting his chair back in the far corner, read the early afternoon
paper and sipped his ale; and one of our white-aproned friends
vanished through the door beside the bar with a tray containing five
different mixtures of the most modern varieties, of which I do not
know the names. Mr. Gilfeather looked about on his despised
decorations and sighed; and the outer door opened again and admitted
Miss Sally Ladue.

Mr. Gilfeather half turned, in response to a smothered exclamation
from Joe, turned again, and cast a startled glance up at the smiling
lady over the bar.

"Switch 'em off, Joe, quick!" and Joe switched 'em off, leaving the
lady with her leopard skin in murky darkness, which, under the
circumstances, was the best place for her. But he had not been quick
enough.

Sally's color was rather high as she stood just inside the door.
Nothing but palms and ferns--very lifelike--met her eyes; nothing,
that is, except a very chaste bar of San Domingo mahogany and the
persons of Joe and Mr. Gilfeather. The lady in the leopard skin no
longer met her eyes, for that lady had been plunged in gloom, as we
are aware. Sally, too, was aware of it. Mr. Gilfeather had a guilty
consciousness of it as he advanced.

"Good afternoon, Miss Ladue," he said, somewhat apprehensively. "I
hope nothing is going wrong with my daughter?"

"No, Mr. Gilfeather," replied Sally, hastening to reassure him. "She
is doing very well, and I expect that she will graduate well up in her
class."

Mr. Gilfeather was evidently relieved to hear it.

"I came to consult you," continued Sally; "to ask your advice." She
looked about her. The room was very quiet, much quieter than her own
room at school, for the two men drinking whiskey and water had stopped
their talking, upon Sally's entrance. It had been no more than a low
hum of voices, at most, and the man with his Tom and Jerry made no
more noise than did the man sipping his ale and reading his paper.
Sally thought that she would like to have Patty glance in there for a
minute.

"Well," said Mr. Gilfeather slowly, "perhaps I can find a place where
we can talk without interruption. Will you--"

"Why can't we sit down behind some of these lovely palms?" asked Sally
hastily.

Mr. Gilfeather looked at her quickly. He was sensitive on the subject
of palms and ferns--everlasting ones, furnished by the Everlasting
Decorating Company. But Sally seemed unconscious. His suspicions were
unfounded. He nodded and led the way, and Sally followed, penetrating
the seclusion of three of the customers, to a table in another corner.
Sally sat down and Mr. Gilfeather sat opposite.

He hesitated. "I suppose you wouldn't do me the honor to take
something with me, now?" he asked. Sally smiled and shook her head. "A
glass of lemonade or a cup of tea? I can have tea in a minute--good
tea, too, Miss Ladue."

"Why, thank you, Mr. Gilfeather. I can't see any reason why I
shouldn't take a cup of tea with you. I should like it very much."

He leaned back, crooked his finger at a white-aproned youth, and gave
his order. One would not imagine, from any sign that the youth gave,
that it was not quite the usual order. As Mr. Gilfeather had promised,
in less than a minute it was on the table: tea and sugar and sliced
lemon and cream.

"We have a good many orders for tea," remarked Mr. Gilfeather, in
answer to Sally's look of surprise. "I try to have the best of every
kind."

Sally helped herself to a lump of sugar and a slice of lemon. "I must
confess that I didn't suppose you ever had an order for tea."

"Yes," he replied thoughtfully. "But we don't often have customers
like you, Miss Ladue. It is an honor which I appreciate."

"But," Sally interposed, "you don't know, yet, what my errand is."

"It don't make no difference what your errand is," said Mr.
Gilfeather; "your visit honors me. Whatever you ask my advice about,
I'll give you my best and thank you for coming to me."

Sally looked at him with a smile in her eyes. "What I wanted to see
you about, Mr. Gilfeather, was gambling. Do--"

"What?" asked the astonished Mr. Gilfeather, with a penetrating look
at Sally. "You ain't going to--"

Sally laughed outright, attracting to herself the attention of the two
whiskey-and-waters. Tom and Jerry was consumed and had just gone out.

"No," she said merrily, "I'm not going to. I only meant that I wanted
to see--to know whether you knew about it."

"Whether I knew about it!" exclaimed Mr. Gilfeather, more puzzled than
ever. He glanced up fearfully as a slight noise came down to them from
above. "I never play, if you mean that. Of course, I know something
about it. Any man in my business can't help knowing something about
it."

"Well," Sally resumed, "I wonder whether it would be possible for--for
me, for instance, to get in; to see the inside of a place where it is
going on. I don't know anything about it and I didn't know anybody to
ask but you."

Mr. Gilfeather cast another apprehensive glance at the ceiling. Then
he looked down again and gazed thoughtfully at Sally out of half-shut
eyes.

"I should think," he observed slowly, "that it would be difficult;
very difficult, indeed. I should say that it might be impossible. What
particular place did you have in mind? That is, if it's a proper
question."

"That's just the trouble," Sally replied, frowning. "I don't know,
although I can find out. I didn't think of that. It's a place where
college boys go, sometimes," she added, flushing slowly.

"In Boston, eh?" Mr. Gilfeather's brow cleared and his eyes opened
again. The color in Sally's face had not escaped him. "It's my advice,
Miss Ladue, that you give it up. I don't know anything about them
Boston places--I would say those places--or I'd offer to go for you.
Perhaps I can guess--"

"It's my brother," said Sally simply.

Mr. Gilfeather nodded. "I'd heard it or I shouldn't have spoken of
it," he said gently. "I'm very sorry, Miss Ladue. Nobody else shall
hear of it from me."

"I'm afraid that will make very little difference," she remarked, "but
I thank you."

Mr. Gilfeather was silent for some moments while Sally sipped her
tea.

"Haven't you got any gentleman friend," he asked at last, "who would
do your errand for you?"

"I don't know who would be the most likely to--to know the way about,"
she returned. "I can't very well ask for bids." She smiled quickly.
"If I knew the best person to ask I would ask him."

"That you would," Mr. Gilfeather murmured admiringly. "You ain't
afraid. Do you want me to suggest?" he asked.

"I hoped you would be willing to."

"Well, how would Everett Morton do? I guess he knows his way about. I
always understood that he did." Mr. Gilfeather smiled furtively. The
matter of the palms rankled.

Sally looked reflective. "If he is the best man to do it I'll ask
him." She sighed. She felt a strange repugnance to asking him--for
that service. She had finished her tea and Mr. Gilfeather had finished
his. "Well," she said, rising slowly, "I thank you for your advice,
Mr. Gilfeather,--and for your tea," she added, "which I have enjoyed."

"The honor is mine," returned Mr. Gilfeather gallantly.

Sally smiled and bowed and was on her way to the door. "Miss Ladue,"
called Mr. Gilfeather. She stopped and turned. "I wish you would be
kind enough to favor me with a bit of advice, too."

"Gladly," said Sally. "What about?"

Mr. Gilfeather came close and spoke low. "It's these palms and ferns.
I got 'em this morning. Might I ask your opinion of 'em?"

"Surely, they're very nice and attractive," said Sally doubtfully.

He remarked the doubt. "You don't really think that. Now, do you?
Wouldn't real ones be more--more high-toned, as you might say? I was
advised that--paper flowers, he called 'em--weren't in keeping. Would
you advise me to take 'em out and put in real ones?"

"Oh," Sally answered quickly, "I can't advise you about that. Real
ones would be more expensive to keep in order, but they would be
better. Don't you think so yourself?"

Mr. Gilfeather sighed. "These'll have to come out," he said sadly.
"They'll have to come out, I guess. It's hard luck that I didn't think
of asking before I got 'em. But I'm much obliged to you, Miss Ladue."

Sally nodded again and went out. The door had hardly shut behind her
when the man who had been sipping his ale and reading his paper
emerged from his corner hastily and put out after her. It was Eugene
Spencer.



CHAPTER XXIII


It was almost time for the theatres to be out. Indeed, the first few
men were coming out of one, hurriedly putting on their coats as they
came. As the doors swung open the beginnings of the subdued roar of a
slowly moving crowd came out. A man and a girl who were walking
briskly past heard it.

"Hurry, Jane!" exclaimed the girl anxiously. "I didn't know it was so
late."

Jane muttered something about crowds, but it was nothing very
articulate. To tell the truth, Jane was nervous and he did not know
just what he was saying. Neither did Sally. She did not listen, for
that matter, for she was wholly occupied with her errand. They
quickened their pace until they were almost running, and the noise was
gradually left behind. Neither of them spoke; and when they had turned
the first corner they both sighed and the pace slackened to that brisk
walk again.

Sally had not had to overcome her repugnance to asking Everett, and
Mr. Gilfeather's feeling of triumph was a little premature. When Jane
had overtaken her, a few steps from Mr. Gilfeather's door and had
asked whether he could not help her, she had yielded to her impulse
and had answered that he probably could if he would. And Jane had
confessed, getting a little red,--who would not have got a little red,
having to make such a confession to the girl he was in love with, even
yet?--he had confessed that he was qualified sufficiently for the
expedition, for he had been in number seven on two occasions, on the
first of which he had played. But, he added, he had not lost
much--fortunately for him, perhaps, he had not won--and he had had no
desire to play again, although he had felt some curiosity to see
others do it. It was worth while, for once, to see that side of human
nature. Sally began to tell him why she wanted to go, but he stopped
her.

"I know, Sally," he said gently. "You don't have to tell me. I am glad
to be of any assistance at all." And Sally had thanked him and had
liked him better at that moment than she ever had before. It was a
pity that Jane could not know that.

Two days later Harry Carling had telegraphed; and here they were, just
turning the last corner and finding themselves in the Street. I don't
give the name of the street for reasons which must be obvious enough,
but, irrespective of the name, Sally's heart beat a little faster when
they turned into it. Jane's heart would have beat faster if it had not
already accelerated its beat quite as much as it could with safety. He
was finding it in his mouth most of the time and had to swallow
frequently and hard to keep it down where it belonged. As for speaking
calmly and naturally, that was out of the question. That was enough to
account for his prolonged silence. When he did make the attempt his
voice was high and shrill and he hesitated and could not say what he
wanted to.

It was a quiet street, entirely deserted at that end, and it was lined
with dignified old houses which echoed the sound of their footfalls
until their coming seemed the invasion of an army.

"Mercy!" Sally cried nervously, under her breath. "What a racket we're
making!" And the sound of her voice reverberated from side to side.
The army had begun to talk. That would never do. "Silence in the
ranks!" thought Sally; and was surprised that her thought was not
echoed, too. Jane began to laugh excitedly, but stopped at once.

The street was very respectable, anybody would have said; eminently
respectable. It even seemed dignified. There is no doubt that there
had been a time when it had been both respectable and dignified and
had not contented itself with seeming so. The houses had been built at
that time and presented their rather severe brick fronts to the
street, giving an effect that was almost austere. They were absolutely
without ornament, excepting, perhaps, in their inconspicuous but
generous entrances. Altogether, Sally thought the effect was
distinctly pleasing. She would have been glad to live in one of these
houses; for example, in that one with the wide recessed doorway with
the fan over it. It was dark now; dark as a pocket. Not a light showed
at any of the windows, although a dim one--a very dim one--burned over
the door. The people must be all in bed at this seasonable hour, like
good custom-abiding people. There might have been a special curfew at
nine o'clock for this special street.

"That is the house," whispered Jane, pointing with a hand which was
not very steady to the very house that Sally had been contemplating
with admiration. It was not light enough for Sally to note the shaking
of his hand.

The announcement was a shock to Sally. "What?" she asked
incredulously. "You don't mean the house with the dim light over the
door--the one with the fan!" Jane nodded assent. "Why," Sally
continued, "there isn't a light in the house, so far as I can see."

Jane laughed. His laugh echoed strangely and he stopped suddenly.
"There are plenty of lights, just the same. What did you expect? A
general illumination--with a band?"

"Something more than a dark house," she replied, smiling a little. "It
looks as if they had all gone to bed."

He shook his head. "They haven't gone to bed." Their pace had
slackened and had become no more than an aimless saunter. Now they
stopped entirely, almost opposite the house.

"Well," said Sally inquiringly, "what now?"

Jane breathed a long sigh. "I--I suppose i--it's up to me," he replied
hesitatingly, "to go in." He spoke with very evident regret; then he
laughed shortly.

"Don't you want to?" asked Sally curiously.

"No, I don't, Sally," he rejoined decidedly. "I certainly don't. But
I want to help you, and therefore I do. It would be hard to make you
understand, perhaps, and--"

"I think I understand, Eugene," she interrupted gently, "and you
needn't think that I'm not grateful."

"I don't feel as confident as I ought," he said apologetically, "that
I shall be successful. What if Charlie won't come?"

"You can tell him," she replied firmly, "that I shall wait here until
he does come. It isn't likely that I shall be put off the street."

Spencer did not feel so sure of that as he would have liked to feel,
but he did not say so to Sally. "That brings up another question," he
said. "Where shall you wait? And what will you do--in case I am longer
than you expect? I confess that I am uneasy about you--waiting around
the streets--alone."

"You needn't be," she returned. "Of course," she admitted, "it won't
be pleasant. I don't expect it to be. But I shall be all right, I'm
sure."

He sighed once more and looked at her. "I wish I felt as sure of it as
you do. But I'll go in--or try to." He looked the street up and down.
"You'd better get in the shadow, somewhere; well in the shadow. Their
doorman has sharp eyes. That's what he's there for," he added in
response to her questioning look. "Perhaps you'd better not be within
view when I go in. We'll walk back a bit and I'll leave you there."

She assented and they walked back until they were out of sight from
the door with the dim light burning over it. Then Spencer left her and
walked rapidly toward the house. He looked back two or three times.
She was standing just where he had left her: close beside a woebegone
tree with an iron tree-guard around it. It was a forgotten relic of
other days. Her motionless figure could hardly be distinguished from
the tree as she leaned against the guard. He opened the outer door of
the vestibule. A second dim light was burning here, just enabling him
to see the push-button. With a heart palpitating somewhat and with
that horrible, gone feeling in the region of his diaphragm, he rang
the bell. The outer door closed noiselessly behind him and two
electric lights flashed out brilliantly before him. The inner door,
which gave entrance to the house, was a massive thing, studded with
iron bolts, like the gate of a castle; and at the level of his face
was a little grated window or door of solid wood within the larger,
iron-studded door. In response to his ring the inner door did not
open, but the little grated window did, framing, behind iron bars, the
impassive face of a gigantic negro, who scrutinized Spencer with the
eye of experience and, having completed his inspection, nodded
solemnly. The little grated window closed and the electric lights went
out suddenly; and the door opened before him and closed again behind
him, leaving everything in readiness for the next comer; and leaving
Sally standing alone beside that woebegone tree without.

There was nothing unusual about the appearance of the house if we
except the iron-studded door and its guardian. The negro, who was very
large and very black, had resumed his seat upon a stool by the door.
He glanced at Eugene without interest and immediately looked away
again and seemed to resume his thoughts about nothing at all. Eugene
glanced hastily about. The house might have served as a type of the
modest dwellings of the older school. The doors from the lower hall
were all shut and the rooms to which they led were empty, so far as he
knew, or were used as storerooms, perhaps. Everything was very quiet
and he and the gigantic negro might have been the only occupants of
the house. Before him was the staircase and he roused himself and
mounted to the floor above, walked a few steps along a hall exactly
similar to the first, parted the heavy double hangings over a doorway,
and entered.

He found himself in the front room of two which were connected by
folding doors, which were now rolled back. The room in the rear was
but dimly lighted, as no one seemed to be interested in the roulette
table which stood there, although several men stood about the
sideboard or were coming or going. The top of that sideboard held a
large variety of bottles and anybody present was at liberty to help
himself to whatever he preferred; but, although there was a good deal
of drinking, there was no drunkenness. Drinking to excess was not
conducive to success in play; and the men, most of them, seemed to be
regular patrons of the place. Eugene's gaze wandered back toward the
front of the house.

To his right, as he entered, was the centre of interest. Indeed, it
seemed to be the only point of interest. The windows had heavy double
hangings before them, which accounted for Sally's impression of the
house. Directly before these windows and taking up almost the whole
width of the room stood a large table. About this table were seated a
dozen men or more, old, middle-aged, and young, every one of them so
intent on the play that they noticed nothing else. About the seated
men, in turn, were other men, two or three deep, equally intent,
standing and carefully noting upon large cards which they held every
card that the dealer exposed from the box before him. I regret that I
am unable to explain more fully the mysteries of this system of
scoring. In some way, which I do not understand, this method of
keeping score was supposed to give some clue to the way in which the
cards were running on that particular night and to aid each scorer in
the development of his "system," which, as the merest tyro knows, will
inevitably break the bank sooner or later;--usually later. The house
supplied the score cards. They found the method a very satisfactory
one.

By this time Eugene's heart had almost ceased its palpitation and he
could look about with some approach to calmness at the group around
the table. Curiously, he scanned the faces of the players. At the turn
of the table, to the right of the dealer, sat an elderly man, perhaps
nearing sixty, with a singularly peaceful countenance. He won or lost
with the same indifference, only putting up a hand, now and then, to
stroke his white mustache and glancing, sympathetically, Spencer
thought, at the only really young men playing. There were two of them
who were hardly more than boys, and this man seemed to be more
interested in their play than in his own. At the dealer's left sat a
man who might be anywhere from thirty-five to fifty, with a
clean-shaven and handsome clean cut face. He looked as distinguished
in his way as the elderly man of the white mustache and the peaceful
countenance did in his. He smiled as quietly when he lost as when he
won. Both men were very attractive and not the type of man you would
expect to find in such a place. The other men there were not
attractive. They were of no particular age and of no distinction
whatever; the type of man that you pass on the street a hundred times
a day without a second glance--if you have given the first. There was
a perennial frown upon their foreheads and their lips were tightly
closed and they were intent on nothing but their play. Altogether, the
less said about those men, the better.

The first of the two young men mentioned was sitting at the turn of
the table diagonally opposite the elderly man and nearest Eugene, so
that his face was not visible. But his shoulders were expressive and
he was beginning to fidget in his chair; and when, once or twice, he
half turned his head Eugene could see the growing expression of
disgust upon his face. As the young fellow looked more and more
disgusted, the elderly man smiled the more and stroked his white
mustache and gazed at him, to the neglect of his cards, and once in a
while he glanced at the other young fellow.

That other young fellow, as we know, was Charlie Ladue. He sat
directly opposite the dealer. His face was flushed with the excitement
of play, to which he was giving all his attention. Eugene could not
see his eyes, which never wandered from the straight line in front of
him, from his cards to the dealer; but he could imagine the feverish
brightness that shone from them. He wondered how the dealer liked the
constant contemplation of that sight; how it pleased him that he could
not look up without encountering those eyes of Charlie Ladue fixed
upon him.

The dealer seemed to like it well enough; he seemed to like it
uncommonly well. Spencer transferred his gaze from Charlie to the
dealer. There was nothing interesting about Charlie--to him, at least;
nothing sad in his present situation except as it concerned Sally. The
dealer was different, and Eugene found himself fascinated in watching
him.

It was impossible to guess his age. He might have been anywhere from
forty to sixty and must have been a handsome man when he was
young--whenever that was. He was a good-looking man yet, but there was
something sinister about him. His face was deeply lined, but not with
the lines of age or pain or of contentment or good nature. The lines
in a man's face will tell their story of his life to him who can read
them. Insensibly, they tell their story to him who cannot read them.
Eugene could not; but he felt the story and was at once fascinated and
repelled. He could not take his eyes off that dealer's face; and the
longer he looked the more strongly he was impressed with a vague
recollection. It might be only of a dream, or of a dim resemblance to
some one that he knew. He had the curious sense, which comes to all of
us on occasion, of having lived that very moment in some previous
incarnation, perhaps of knowing exactly what was going to happen next.
Not that anything in particular did happen. I would not willingly
raise expectations which must be disappointed.

The dealer had always seemed to look at Charlie Ladue with interest;
with as much interest as he ever showed in anything--much more,
indeed, than he showed in anything or in anybody else. Charlie himself
had noted that, and although he never spoke,--at least, Charlie had
never heard him utter a word beyond what were absolutely necessary to
his duties,--there was something compelling in his eye which always
met Charlie's look as it was raised slowly from his cards, as if there
were some mysterious bond of fellowship between them. Rarely he had
smiled. But that was a mistake. It always made Charlie wish that he
hadn't. Charlie had not noticed, perhaps, that it was always on the
rare occasions when he won that the dealer had ventured upon that
faint smile which was so disagreeable. When he lost, which happened
more frequently,--very much more frequently,--the dealer expressed no
emotion whatever, unless a slight compression of his thin lips could
be called an expression of emotion.

There was a stir among the persons about the table; among those
sitting and among those standing. The disgusted young fellow got up
quickly and one of the scorers as quickly took the chair he had left.
The boy breathed a deep sigh of relief as he passed close to Eugene.

"Hell!" he exclaimed under his breath. It was more to himself than to
anybody else, although, catching Eugene's eye, he smiled. "They call
that sport!"

The elderly man with the white mustache smiled peacefully and got up,
too, and joined the boy.

"Had enough, Harry?"

Harry turned a face filled with disgust. "Enough!" he said. "I should
think I had. It will last me all my life." He repressed his feelings
with an effort. "Did you win, Uncle Don?"

"I'm sure I don't know," Uncle Don replied quietly. "I didn't keep
track. Did you?"

"No, thank God!" he answered fervently. "I lost. And I feel as though
I had nearly lost my self-respect, too. I want a Turkish bath."

"All right," returned his uncle quickly. "So do I. And I've no doubt
that Frank does." He turned and beckoned to the man who had been
sitting at the dealer's left. He had already risen and was standing
behind his chair, idly watching the readjustment, and he came at once.
"We're going to Ben's, Frank. Harry wants a bath."

"Good!" said Frank with his ready smile. "Something that will get
right into your soul, eh, Harry? Come on, Don."

Uncle Don had turned for a last look at the players. "It was a
somewhat dangerous experiment," he remarked, "and one that I should
never dare to try with that other boy there. He ought to be hauled out
of the game by the collar and spanked and sent to bed without his
dinner--to say nothing of baths. Well, we can't meddle. Come on." And
Uncle Don took one of Harry's arms and Frank took the other and they
went out.

Eugene was reminded of his duty. If he was to haul Charlie out of the
game by the collar he must be quick about it. He wormed his way among
the scorers and touched Charlie on the shoulder. Charlie started and
looked up somewhat fearfully.

Spencer bent over him. "Come, Charlie," he said.

If either of them had noticed, they would have seen a faint flicker of
interest in the eyes of the dealer. But they were not looking at the
dealer. Charlie was relieved to see who it was. He had been afraid
that it was some one else--the police, perhaps.

"Let me alone, Spencer," he replied disdainfully. "If you think that
I'm coming now, you're greatly mistaken. In a couple of hours,
perhaps."

Eugene bent farther over. "Sally's waiting for you outside." He spoke
very low; it was scarcely more than a whisper. But the dealer must
have heard, for the interest in his eyes was more than a flicker now.

In Charlie's eyes there was a momentary fear. It was but momentary.

He laughed nervously. "I hope she won't get tired of waiting." He
shook his head. "I won't come now."

Eugene bent lower yet. "She told me to tell you that she should wait
until you did."

The dealer was waiting for them. There was a flash of irritation in
Charlie's eyes and he turned to the table. "Go to the devil!" he said.

There was a snicker from some of those seated about the table. Eugene
reddened and drew back and the game went on.



CHAPTER XXIV


It was a very lonely time that Sally had, standing there, leaning
against the tree-guard and looking up and down the deserted street.
The houses seemed to be all asleep or deserted as well as the street.
She wondered idly what they were used for; then she thought that it
was as well that she did not know, judging from the one of them that
she did know about. What would the builders of those houses think if
they could come back and see the uses to which their dignified old
homes had been put?

She glanced up and down the street again. Yes, it seemed to be
entirely deserted. She did not see the figure which lurked in the
shadows on the other side. She had said that she would be all right;
that she was not afraid. Well, she was not afraid, but she was getting
just a bit nervous. She wished that Eugene would hurry with Charlie.
She could not stand by that tree any longer anyway. She began to walk
slowly up and down, watching the door out of which she expected Jane
and Charlie to appear at any moment, and she wondered what she should
say to Charlie. She had no set speech prepared. What was there to say
that could possibly do any good? Probably she would say nothing at all
and they would set off in silence, all three, to their hotel. She had
other thoughts, too, but they need not concern us now. We are not
thinking of Fox Sanderson and his silly speeches nor of Henrietta and
her contentment; for she ought to be contented if ever a girl was.
Sally's eyes filled with tears and her thoughts insensibly drifted
away from Charlie and Jane as she paced slowly to and fro. And that
lurking figure across the street was never very far away.

The sound of a door shutting reverberated after the manner of all
sounds in that street and there were voices. Sally had turned at the
sound of the door. Somebody was coming out of the house and she
hurried forward and stopped short. The figure on the other side of the
street started forward and stopped short also. There were three men
coming out, and the joyous voices were not Jane's and Charlie's. Their
voices would not be joyous--if they spoke at all. The three men passed
her, arm in arm, and they looked at her curiously as they passed and
the hand of the oldest instinctively went to his hat. Sally saw that
he was an elderly man with a pleasant face and that his mustache was
snow-white. They had got but a few steps beyond when their pace
slackened and this man seemed to hesitate. He looked back at her
doubtfully. Then he sighed and the three resumed their brisk walk.

"No use," he said. "Can't meddle. I wish I could. No good comes of
it."

Once more Sally took up her slow walk to and fro. She was glad that
the three men had gone, but she was sorry, too. That elderly man had
seemed kind and sympathetic and a gentleman; and he had come from that
house. But that, Sally, was no recommendation. She knew that he had
done the wise thing; or that he had not done the unwise thing, and
probably he was right and no good came of meddling. And the sound of
their steps died away as they turned a corner. Again Sally had the
street to herself; Sally and the man lurking in the shadows. She found
herself growing more and more oppressed with the sense of loneliness.
If only somebody were there to wait with her! A quiet, out-of-the-way
street, poorly lighted, is not the most exhilarating place for a girl
at half-past eleven at night. If only Fox--

Somebody else had turned the corner and was coming toward her with a
step that was neither brisk nor loitering; that seemed as if it knew
just where it was going, but was in no unseemly haste to get there.
Sally stopped and looked about for some place in which she might
conceal herself. None offered better than her tree. As the step drew
near she seemed to know it, and she shrank as nearly out of sight as
she could. She had no invisible cap; she wished she had.

The step which she knew stopped beside her. "Sally!" said a voice in
unmistakable surprise. "Sally! What in the world are you doing here?"

Sally smiled as bravely as she could. "Nothing, Everett," she replied
quietly. "Just waiting."

"Waiting?" he exclaimed. "For whom, may I ask?"

"For Charlie," she answered as quietly as before. "Jane has gone in to
get him."

"Oh," said Everett coldly, "so Spencer has gone in to get him. To
judge by appearances, he doesn't seem to make a success of it."

Sally shook her head. There did not seem to be anything else to say.
Spencer didn't seem to be making much of a success of it.

"How long have you been waiting?"

"Two or three years," answered Sally, with a nervous laugh.

"You poor girl!" Everett exclaimed. "I was just going in to see if I
couldn't get Charlie. It is curious how things happen." Sally smiled a
little smile of amusement in spite of her nervousness. It _was_
curious how things happened, when you came to think of it. "There
isn't any use in your waiting any longer. It can't do any good, and it
may be very unpleasant for you. Better let me take you to your hotel.
Then I will come back. I may have as much success as Spencer,
perhaps." And Everett began a little smile of his own; but, thinking
that Sally might see it, he stopped before the smile was well born.

Sally shook her head again. "I told Eugene to tell Charlie that I
should wait here until he came out. It isn't pleasant, but I shall
wait."

"But, Sally," Everett remonstrated, "you don't understand. You--"

"I do understand," Sally interrupted. "I will take care of myself."
She may not have realized how this would sound and how it would
exasperate Everett. But perhaps she did realize.

Everett only shrugged his shoulders and turned away. Sally was an
obstinate piece.

"If you want to do me a kindness," she continued, "you will help to
get Charlie out as soon as you can."

"As you like," he returned. "I will certainly do what I can to get
Charlie out. That's what I am here for." Again Sally smiled her
peculiar little smile. She couldn't help it. That Everett should think
she would believe that! "But you had much better let me take you to
your hotel first," he added, persuasively. "I will explain to
Spencer."

"I will wait."

Everett was irritated and quite out of patience with her. He shrugged
his shoulders again and started on.

"You are very good, Everett," Sally called softly. "Thank you, and
good night."

He made no reply unless a perfunctory touch of his hat and an
impatient mutter could be called a reply; and he was swallowed up by
the doorway and admitted by the doorman with a familiar nod and a grin
which it was as well, he thought, that Sally did not see. She would
not have been surprised if she had seen.

Everett had hardly disappeared when the lurking figure left its post
in the shadows and advanced toward Sally. She saw it and braced
herself for the encounter. In the matter of encounters that lonely
street was doing pretty well. For an instant she meditated flight, but
instantly decided against it. The man must have known, from her
attitude, what was passing in her mind, for he spoke when he was but
halfway across.

"Sally," he said gently, "you needn't be frightened. It--"

Whereupon Sally behaved in a most peculiar and reprehensible manner.
At the sound of the voice she had stiffened; but now she cast herself
at the man and seized his arm with both her hands.

"Fox, Fox," she said, with a quiver in her voice, for she was very
near to crying. "I'm glad. You are an old comfort. You don't know how
lonely it was, waiting by myself. I thought I could stand it, but I
don't know whether I could have held out much longer. The street was
getting on my nerves."

"I know, Sally," he replied. "I was afraid it would. And now what is
the prospect? Is Charlie likely to come soon? And shall we go to your
hotel or wait?"

"I must wait. But--but, Fox, it would provoke Jane and Charlie, too,
to find you here."

Fox laughed. "Then I will vanish at the first sign of them. But I
should really like to know how your enterprise comes out. Do you mind
telling me, Sally? And how shall we manage it without telling your
mother? I suppose she doesn't know the purpose of your coming."

"Not from me, although she may guess. I'll come out, in a day or two,
to call on you, sir. Shall you feel honored?"

"You know I shall, Sally. But how will you account for your call?"

"I shall come to collect the rent," returned Sally promptly, "if any
excuse is necessary. Be sure that you have it ready. And I shall give
you a faithful account of all that has transpired." She had Fox's arm
and she gave it a little squeeze. It was a very little squeeze and
very brief, but it made his heart jump. "It was lucky for me that
you--" And then she stopped short, realizing that Fox would not have
happened to be in that street, leading to nowhere, at that time.

"Don't you know," he asked simply, with a laugh of content, "that I
always keep track of you? Did you think that you could come to such a
place as this without my being somewhere about?"

Sally changed the subject quickly. It was an unspeakable comfort to
her to know--but Fox must not pursue that subject now. Fox had no
intention of pursuing that subject; and they walked slowly to and fro
over what had been Sally's beat, talking of anything or of nothing.
Sally was content; and again she forgot Charlie and Jane and her
errand, and she became almost gay. Those sombre old houses echoed
quiet laughter, of a kind that they had not heard for goodness knows
how many years, and low voices. Some more men came, singly, or in
groups of two or three, and looked at them with curiosity. Sally
hardly saw them. And the last group passed into the house and up the
stairs and into the room where the table stood before the front
windows and they stopped short at the sound of angry voices.

The game had stopped, for the moment, and the dealer was leaning back
with his hand upon the pack, waiting. There was a look upon his face
of languid interest under the mask of indifference, as he gazed at the
young fellow opposite, his face flushed now with impotent rage, and at
the man leaning over him. The face above was flushed with anger, too,
but it was not impotent. If Sally had seen it she would have been
reminded of her father. The sight seemed to remind the dealer of
something, but it was impossible to guess whether that something was
pleasant or otherwise. Many things had happened to him which were not
pleasant to think of. Indeed, the pleasant things were very few. He
did not think of his past when he could help it. It was a thing to be
avoided.

"Come, Charlie," said Everett again, sharply. "You're to get up and
go. We're all waiting."

Charlie seemed to be divided between his long admiration of
Everett--of what he said and did and was--and his helpless anger. He
wavered.

"You mean that I have got to leave the game?" he sputtered at last.
"Why have I?" He hesitated a moment, looking from the cards to the
dealer who still had that little look of languid interest upon his
face. In fact, it was almost compelling a smile on the thin lips.
Charlie could not have stood that. He looked away again quickly, but
he did not look at Everett. He could not have stood that, either.
"No," he said, with a sudden accession of courage, "I won't do it. The
game can go on."

The dealer did not move a muscle. Everett smiled. "You see," he
answered, "that it will not go on with you in it. I'm right, Charlie?"
he added, glancing up at the dealer; but it was less a question than a
command.

The dealer nodded. Still Charlie Ladue did not move.

"Come, Ladue," Everett ordered impatiently. "Don't make them put you
out. Cash in and go along. You know very well why. I promised to start
you and I'm going to. And, let me tell you, I can do it."

There was nothing else to do. Charlie muttered something and rose
slowly and pushed his chair back violently in a fit of childish anger.
Instantly the chair was taken and the game was going on almost before
he had his back turned. Everett kept close beside him until he had his
coat and hat, and he even went down to the door with him. Eugene was
waiting there, but he said nothing. He was much mortified at his
complete failure and at Everett's complete success. The grinning black
opened the door.

"Good night, Spencer," said Everett. "And good night, Charlie. If you
take my advice, you'll give it up."

The door shut behind the two and Everett went upstairs again. He paid
no attention to the game, but walked into the dimly lighted back room
and to the sideboard. He felt out of sorts with himself and with
everybody and everything else. He must be thirsty; and he poured
himself out a glass and stood sipping it and looking absently at the
heavily curtained windows at the rear. There did not happen to be
anybody else at the sideboard.

He was still sipping with his back toward the front room and the game
when he felt a touch upon his arm. He turned quickly. There stood the
dealer.

"Hello, Charlie!" he said in some surprise. "Your recess? Do you want
me to apologize for taking that young cub out and making all that
row?"

The dealer shook his head. "That was right enough. I've been thinking
about him for some--" He stopped short and swallowed--something;
possibly a lump or something of the kind. But it is not conceivable
that such a man can have the more usual emotions of pity and charity.
For they are the usual emotions, whatever you may say against it. If
Everett had only known it, that was the very trouble with him. He had
not been thirsty, primarily. His thirst was but a physical symptom of
his mental state.

But I interrupted the dealer. He was speaking again. "I should like to
ask you a question, Mr. Morton," he said.

"What is it, Charlie?" Everett felt but a passing interest in his
question.

"I noticed that you called the young man Ladue."

"Did I? That was very thoughtless of me. I apologize."

The dealer did not smile, but went on, apparently pursuing his object,
whatever that was. "And the other man spoke of Sally."

"Indeed! That was even more thoughtless."

"Charlie Ladue," the dealer continued in an even voice, "and Sally. It
sounds as if Sally should be his sister. Is she?"

Everett hesitated for a moment. After all, what harm? "Well, yes, she
is his sister. Much disturbed at hearing of his doings. You and I,
Charlie," he said lightly, "know better."

The dealer smiled faintly. For a wonder his faint smile was not
unpleasant.

"Can you tell me," he pursued, "where Miss Sally Ladue is to be
found--say, in the morning?"

Everett hesitated again and glanced at the man suspiciously. This was
a more serious matter.

"Why do you ask? And, assuming that I know, why should I tell you,
Charlie?" If it had not been that he still smarted under Sally's
treatment of him, he would not have gone as far as that.

The old dealer with the lined face smiled slowly and with a certain
cunning.

"Possibly I can answer both questions at once. Conceivably, I can
satisfy you. I am her father."



CHAPTER XXV


Sally and Eugene and Charlie had almost finished breakfast. It was a
silent group; Eugene was quiet, for he had not got over the
mortification at his miserable failure of the night before, and,
besides, the very fact that he was eating breakfast with Sally was
enough to make him quiet. Charlie was sulky and morose and penitent.
There had been very little said, but that little had been to the
point, and Charlie had pleaded _nolo contendere_, which, in this case,
was equivalent to a plea of guilty; guilty of the offense as charged
and guilty of obtaining money from Patty under false pretenses,
although Sally could not find out how much. He would only say that it
was not so very much; he could not remember exactly how much. And
Sally had promised to give him a reasonable allowance if he would
honestly try to keep within it and would give up his bad habits, which
would be his unfailing ruin if he kept on. It might be necessary to
take him out of college. He was to go home with them and the council
of war would decide about that. Charlie seemed somewhat anxious about
the composition of that council, although he did not seem to care very
much whether he left college or not. As Sally had not decided upon
that point, she did not gratify his curiosity. And Charlie had given
the required promises. He had even promised more than was required of
him, for he agreed to reform permanently. Sally had her doubts about
its being permanent. She had seen too much of the effects of the
"bug," as Horry Carling had called it. But she could not ask more, and
she sighed and expressed herself as satisfied and they went in to
breakfast. That incident was closed.

Now she was leaning back in her chair, watching the others putting
the finishing touches on a rather substantial breakfast. A call-boy
was speaking to the head waiter; and that august official came with
stately step to Sally's table.

"A gen'leman to see Miss Ladue," he announced privately in Sally's
ear.

Sally looked up in surprise. "To see me?" she asked. "Are you sure?
Who is it? Do you know?"

"He asked was Miss Ladue staying here, but he didn't give no card and
he wouldn't give no name. I could say that you've gone or that we
can't find you," the man suggested, "if you don't care to see him."

"Oh, no," said Sally, with a quick smile. "I'll see him. He may have
come to tell me of a long-lost fortune. But," she added with a puzzled
wonder, "I can't imagine who it can be."

Eugene got up, pushing aside his coffee. "Let me go, Sally."

Sally was already up. "Oh, no," she said again. "Thank you, Eugene,
but you and Charlie may as well finish your breakfast in comfort.
There's plenty of time before our train goes and I will join you in a
few minutes. I'm only wondering who in the world it is and what he
wants. Perhaps it's Everett."

A look of annoyance came into Spencer's eyes at the mention of
Everett. Why couldn't he let them alone? But Sally was rapidly
vanishing in the wake of the head waiter, who delivered her safely to
the call-boy. At the door of a small reception room the boy paused,
parted the hangings, and bowed Sally in.

As she entered, a man rose from a chair near the window and stood
waiting. Although Sally could not see his face because of the light
behind him, there was something vaguely familiar in his manner of
rising from the chair and in his attitude. It troubled her.

"You wished to see me?" she asked, wondering why he did not come
forward to meet her.

"Miss Sallie Ladue?" he asked in return. Sally's hand went to her
heart involuntarily; her mother's trick, exactly. The man seemed to be
smiling, although Sally could not see that, either. "I want to make
sure. It is sometime since--"

"Turn around to the light, so that I can see your face," Sally
commanded. Her voice was hard and cold. It may have penetrated his
armor. He turned obediently, giving a short laugh as he did so.

"My face may be a trifle the worse for wear since you have seen me,"
he remarked airily. "A trifle the worse for wear; which yours is not.
Has anybody ever told you, Sally, that you have become a lovely woman?
Or wouldn't you care for that tribute?"

"We will not discuss my appearance, if you please." Sally's voice was
still hard and cold; like steel. She came around in front of him and
scrutinized his face closely. There could be no possible doubt. "Well,
father?"

"You don't seem glad to see me, Sally. After an absence of--er--a
hundred years or so, one would think that you might be. But, I repeat,
you don't seem glad to see me."

"No," said Sally quietly. "I'm not."

He laughed. His laugh was unpleasant. "Truthful as ever, I see.
Wouldn't it be better to mask the truth a little, when it must be as
disagreeable as it is now? To draw even a thin veil over it, so that
it can be perceived dimly--dimly if unmistakably?"

Sally shook her head and she did not smile. "I see no object in it.
What is your purpose in seeing me now? I do not doubt that you have a
purpose. What is it?"

He seemed to find a certain pleasure in tantalizing her. "Aren't you
curious to know how I found out your whereabouts?"

"I am not interested in that. Tell me your purpose."

"What other purpose could I have than to see my daughter after so many
years? Is it permitted, my dear Sally, to ask after the health of your
mother?"

"She is well; as well as can be expected. It is not your fault that
she did not die years ago. She was four years getting over that
trouble of hers. You laughed at her headaches, you remember. She was
four years in Doctor Galen's sanitarium."

He waved his hand lightly, as of old. "A little misunderstanding,
Sally, which I greatly regret. But four years of Doctor Galen! How did
you manage to pay him?"

"That," replied Sally, "cannot possibly be any concern of yours."

"Ah, true. It is not any concern of mine. But is it not possible to
see your mother? She is still my wife, I presume, and you are still my
daughter."

"She is still your wife and I am your daughter. But you shall not see
her if I can prevent it."

"And--I gather from the tenor of your remarks that you would resist
any attempt at--er--reuniting a family long separated by
circumstances."

Sally smiled disdainfully. "I am of age. As to my mother, I should
resist. No court would compel it."

"Ah," he said, smiling, "how well you meet my points! You are of age,
and no doubt you are right about the courts. There is no law that will
prohibit my trying, I think. And Charlie is not of age, if my
recollection serves me."

Before Sally could frame an answer, there was a slight noise in the
hall and Charlie burst in. "I beg your pardon," he said hastily. The
two were standing, and he had not recognized Sally. But an instant's
gaze was enough. "Sally!" he exclaimed. He looked at the man. A wave
of red rushed into his face. "Charlie!" he cried involuntarily. Then
he recovered. "What are you doing here? What do you mean by coming to
see my sister?"

Sally was inexpressibly distressed. She started to speak. She would
have said something--told him the truth, of course--to save them both;
but a quiet movement of her father's hand stopped her. He seemed to be
waiting patiently for the next stone.

"Do you know, Sally," Charlie continued, "who this man is? He is the
dealer in number seven. He has no right--no business to try to see
you. I insist on his leaving at once."

Sally spoke with surprising gentleness, considering her mode of speech
to her father only a few minutes before. "We have some business,
Charlie," she said. "He will go as soon as that is done. Now, leave
us, please, to finish it, for we have not a great deal of time. It is
all right."

And Charlie withdrew slowly, with many a glance from one to the other
and many a misgiving as to the business which seemed to be of so
private a nature. They heard his steps retreating down the hall.

Sally turned her shocked face to her father, "Won't you sit down?" she
asked gently. "I am very sorry; sorrier than I can tell
you--for--everything, but especially for that speech of Charlie's. But
Charlie did not know."

"And I prefer that he shouldn't," her father replied. He had seated
himself with his face half turned away from the light. "I have many
hard things to bear, Sally, and, strange as it may seem to you, I try
to bear them with patience. I have to, so why make a virtue of
necessity? That speech of Charlie's--made in ignorance--was less hard
for me than your own."

"I am sorry," Sally said again, "but I meant what I said, most
emphatically. You are not to suppose that I didn't. But I am sorry for
my manner--if it hurt you."

He smiled faintly. "It was not intended to soothe or to amuse, I take
it," he remarked. And he lapsed into silence, fingering his hat
nervously and turning it around in his hands.

Sally sat gazing at the lined old face before her a long time without
speaking. As she looked, her eyes softened even more and grew
tender--and those eyes could be wonderfully tender. He bore her gaze
as well as he could, but he was ill at ease. If the truth must be
told, his mood had softened, too, and the very fact embarrassed him.
Perhaps he remembered the days of the little lizard and the coal-trees
and the occasions when the gynesaurus had climbed to the topmost
branch and gazed forth upon a wide prospect of tree-tops and swamps.
It could not have been pleasant to recollect those days. For him, they
were no more and could be never again. He was roused by Sally's low
voice.

"Oh, father," she said impulsively, "why do you do it? Why can't you
give it up? I could get your lizard for you. Why not return to your
old life? You might do something yet. At least, it would be a comfort
to be respectable."

He laughed at that. "No doubt it would," he observed, "be a great
comfort to be respectable. And no doubt it would be a great comfort to
you to have a respectable father; reformed; dragged from the depths."
The tears came to Sally's eyes. "Does your programme," he asked then,
nonchalantly, "include--er--reuniting a family long separated by
circumstances? You may remember that I mentioned the matter once
before."

She shook her head slowly and regretfully. "I'm afraid not. I couldn't
consent to exposing mother to the--" She hesitated and stopped.

"The dangers incident to such an arrangement?" he suggested. "Pardon
me for supplying what you were considerate enough to omit. Perhaps you
are wise. And Charlie?"

"And Charlie." She nodded. "You see, yourself, that such a thing could
not be--at any rate, until you have proved that you could do it."

"I couldn't," he answered promptly. "Don't think that I haven't tried.
I have tried, repeatedly. I hate the life, but I can't give it up.
But," he added, "you need not have been afraid for Charlie."

"I am very much afraid for Charlie," said Sally simply, "in any case.
He is sick of it now. How long the present mood will last, I do not
know. Could you manage that he is not allowed to play at--at your--"

He bowed gravely. "That can be arranged, I think."

"Thank you, father."

Once more there was silence between them. Finally he made a movement
as if to go. "I was--I wanted--was curious to see how you had come
out, Sally. That was the main reason for my troubling you. If there
were other reasons, they no longer exist. I--"

"Don't go yet, father," Sally interrupted. "I have more to say."

He sat down again and waited. She was considering--trying to consider
the problem before her in every aspect. But she could not get the
point of view of her father and Charlie, and she wanted to.

"Father," she resumed, "what _is_ the attraction? I have been trying
hard to get a sympathetic view of it and I can't. I can't see anything
except what is sordid and repulsive. The life is--is not desirable--"

"Not very desirable," he broke in, with a horrible, dry laugh.

"And it can hardly be simply covetousness. If it is, you miss your
mark. What I--"

"It is not covetousness. I may as well say that it is not a sin of
covetousness," he corrected, "in deference to the generally received
opinion. I have no desire to gloss over and to try to excuse by a form
of words, although I, personally, am not convinced that it is a sin
according to natural law. However, we need not discuss that aspect of
it."

He waved that view aside with a familiar motion of his hand. How
familiar they were--those little tricks of the hand and of the voice!
They made Sally's eyes fill and a lump come in her throat. She raised
her hand to her forehead and leaned upon it. It half concealed her
eyes. She said nothing. The professor went on in his old lecture-room
manner; a judicial manner.

"No, it is not a sin of covetousness, but simply a passion to which
any man who is subject to it can't help giving way. It is a passion as
old as humanity--perhaps older. There are no more inveterate gamblers
than the savages. Possibly," he added, smiling, "my little lizard had
it; possibly it goes back to those ancient days that you know about,
Sally. It may be that the saurians had their own games of chance and
their own stakes--and, I may add, their own methods of enforcing
payment. Indeed, their life was one great gamble. For that matter,
life is no more than that now."

Sally made an inarticulate protest.

"As for getting the other man's money," the professor continued,
unheeding, "that is merely incidental. We feel better, it's true, when
we win, but that is for another reason. It has nothing to do with the
game--keeping his money. The other man can keep his money--or, as far
as the game is concerned, I would give it back to him--for all the
happiness it brings him or would bring me. The distinction which I
mean to draw is a little subtle, but I flatter myself that you can
appreciate it."

He looked at her and she nodded. The tears still stood in her eyes.

"Happiness, Sally," he resumed, absently gazing at the wall, "is--but
you probably do not care for my views on the subject of happiness," he
said, interrupting himself and glancing at her with a smile. The smile
was rather pleasant to contemplate; a thing sufficiently
remarkable--for him. "Probably you think I am better qualified to tell
you what it is not than what it is; how to avoid it than how to get
it. I can give advice, but I cannot follow it."

Sally smiled quickly. "Your views are interesting," she said. She
stirred a little. She did not know how he would take what she was
about to say. "You would--would you feel hurt, father, if I should
offer you an allowance?"

A quarter of an hour before, he would not have felt hurt or
embarrassed in the least. In fact, that was the very thing he had come
there for. At the moment, it was different. A flush crept into his
face slowly.

"Why should I feel hurt?" His voice had changed. It had lost that
intimate quality which it had had during the last few minutes, when he
had been on the point of telling Sally about happiness. "It is Uncle
John's money, I suppose? Why should I feel any compunctions about
taking it? And--er--there are conditions incident to the acceptance
of this--er--this gift, I suppose?"

"I'm afraid there are," she replied; "at least, tacitly understood."

He considered for a few moments. "I think," he said then, "that it
will conduce to happiness, on the whole, if we are not too tacit about
those conditions. What are they?"

"I hoped," she answered gently, "that you would not insist on my
repeating them. You must understand, from what I have said, what they
are."

"I prefer that they should be stated as conditions."

"Very well." Sally's voice was harder and colder. "As you like. You
are not to take any steps whatever, even to reveal your existence to
my mother and Charlie. Charlie is not to be allowed to play at your
house--not to be allowed to enter it."

"But, Sally, I may be unable to prevent that," he protested. "The
house is not mine. I am only--only an employé and an underling. I will
do what I can, but there is no use in promising what I can't perform."

Sally smiled a little. It was something new for him to stick at
promising.

"Those are the conditions which I must make in self-defense," she
said.

"May I venture to ask what is offered on the other side?"

She made a rapid calculation. "The most that I can offer you is seven
hundred a year. I'd like to make it a thousand; but I have mother and
Charlie to take care of, and I must pay Patty what she had let him
have--without my knowledge," she added apologetically. "I agree to
send you sixty dollars a month on those conditions."

He was leaning back in his chair and spoke in his old manner, lightly.

"And if the conditions are violated?"

"The allowance stops," Sally replied promptly.

"And further?"

There was a suspicion of moisture again in Sally's eyes. "You make it
unnecessarily hard, father," she said gently. "I shall act further if
you compel me to." She was reminded of the time when she had asked his
permission to go to dancing-school. Her feelings, she found, were much
the same as they had been on that occasion. "I am ready to put it in
writing if you wish."

"Oh, no," said the professor airily. "It is not necessary, Sally. Your
word would be all that anybody could require; anybody who knew you."

"Thank you," she murmured. It was very low and he gave no sign of
having heard it.

Again he was silent; then he turned to her. A smile of amusement
curled his lip. "There is, at least, no question of sentiment in all
this, is there, Sally?"

"Oh, I don't know," she murmured more gently than ever. She was not
looking at him, but down at the arm of her chair. "There may be, but I
must not let it interfere with my judgment--in this matter. There is
mother to think of."

"Ah! I infer that your mother would not welcome an occasion for
reuniting that family which I mentioned."

It was not a question and Sally said nothing. After a pause, the
professor sighed and spoke again.

"I accept your munificent offer, Sally. There is nothing else to do."

It was his way--it had always been his way to put the giver in the
wrong, by a simple turn of words; to make her feel as if it were he
who was conferring the favor. Sally felt somehow guilty and
apologetic.

"Will you give me your address?" she asked, diffidently--"the address
to which you would like your money sent?"

He wrote on a slip of paper with an old stub of a pencil which he
pulled from his pocket and handed her the paper. She read it and
looked up at him quickly.

"Am I to make them out in this name?" she asked. "It is not--"

"It is not Ladue," he interrupted deliberately, but showing more
emotion than he had shown hitherto. "Professor Charles Ladue, I would
have you know, Sally, died about ten years ago, in extreme poverty and
distress--of mind as well as of body."

Sally's tears overflowed and dropped, unheeded. She put out her hand
impulsively, and laid it upon his.

"Oh, father!" she whispered. "I am sorry."

"I believe you are," he said. He rose. "Now I will go back to
obscurity. Don't be too sorry for me," he added quickly. "I cultivate
it."



CHAPTER XXVI


Mrs. Ladue asked no troublesome questions. Perhaps she thought that
she had no need to; that she knew, as well as if she had been told,
what Charlie had been doing. Sally had been to see about it, of
course, and now it was all right, equally of course. Sally always
remedied wrongs as well as anybody could and made them right again. It
was a great comfort. And Mrs. Ladue sighed happily and smiled.

Sally thought the smile somewhat ill-timed, but she was glad enough
that her mother felt like smiling. That smile exasperated her a
little. She had just come back and the past twenty-four hours had been
rather crowded. But her mother did not know that. And she was glad
enough that her mother had not asked questions, for, if she had been
asked, she would have lied, if necessary, for the first time in her
life. Her mother did make a remark which, as Sally thought, showed
that she knew. Sally had her hand on the door and was on the point of
going out.

She turned. "Why, mother!" she exclaimed. "So you knew, all the time,
what the trouble was!" She laughed in derision; at herself, chiefly.
"And I took such pains to keep the truth from you!"

"I didn't know, Sally. I only guessed. It's what I have been afraid of
for years--the first thing I should have looked for. What else could
you expect, with his--"

She did not go on. Sally, fresh from that interview with her
father,--it had happened only that morning,--was almost overcome by
the memory of it.

"Why, Sally, dear!" cried her mother. "I didn't suppose you felt so.
Don't, dear. It's nothing that we can help--the wanting to, I mean.
And I'm sure you have done more than anybody else could."

Sally regained her self-control with an effort. "I don't feel so bad
about Charlie. I've done all that I can--now. But it's rather taken it
out of me," she added, with a nervous little laugh.

"Of course, dear. I wish I were good for anything. I know," she said,
laughing nervously, in her turn, "that I ought to feel troubled. But I
can't, Sally, dear. As long as--" she hesitated and flushed. "I am
rather ashamed to say it, but as long as--as your father hasn't turned
up, I can't be anything but contented and happy. I find that I've had
an absurd feeling--utterly absurd, dear, I know--that he was about to.
It's only since you were on the way that that dread has left me and
I've felt contented--so happy and contented. The change came with
curious suddenness, about the time your train must have left."

Sally had turned away sharply. "I'm very glad, mother," she replied in
a stifled little voice. "I'm glad you can feel so happy. There's no
need to feel that dread any more, I think. I'm going out now. Don't be
worried if I am late."

"Going to walk, Sally?" Mrs. Ladue asked diffidently. "You had better
tell me what direction you will take--in case Fox comes in, you know.
He always wants to know your direction if you are at all late."

"I'm going out to see him," Sally returned. "I promised to tell him
about it."

If Sally had stopped to think of it at all she might have wondered why
her mother seemed so glad that she was going to Fox's. But her mind
was taken up with thoughts of her father, to the exclusion of
everything and everybody else--but one, and Sally was not aware of the
exception. Fox was the only person she was free to tell about her
father and she was looking forward to it. When she had shared her
knowledge--with somebody--it would be less of a burden. It never
occurred to her that he might not be glad to know. Wasn't he always
glad to know of anything which concerned her--anything at all? And as
Sally thought these thoughts a vivid blush spread over her face and
her throat. It was a pity that there was nobody to see it.

Fox met her at the door. There was a questioning smile on his face as
he took her hand. He led the way into his office and Sally sank into
an armchair that stood by the table. Fox drew another chair near and
sat down. Then he took a little slip of paper from his pocket and laid
it by her elbow.

"The rent," he said.

Sally laughed, but she let it lie there.

"Well?" Fox asked.

"Well!" She found that she had very little to say and that little did
not come readily. "It is nice to get into a chair that is comfortable
without swallowing you whole--as if it would never give you up." She
patted an arm of the chair nervously. "I like these low arms."

"Yes," said Fox, "so do I. And--there is no hurry, Sally. Would you
like to rest there--just sit and be comfortable for a while? You can
have had very little real rest for some time and you must have had
much to tire you. Just exactly as you please. I am entirely at your
service--as I am always," he added, in a low voice. "I can be
attending to my work, and you could begin whenever you were ready, or
I will give my undivided attention now."

"Have you got work," Sally began hastily, "that--"

"Oh, there's no hurry about it." And Fox smiled quietly. "But there's
enough to do. Routine, mostly."

"Could you do it with me here? Wouldn't you--"

"Couldn't I!" Fox smiled again. "It adds a great deal to my peace of
mind to have you in the same room with me, even when you aren't saying
anything. And peace of mind, Sally, is--"

"Yes, I know," said Sally, interrupting. "Well, let's try it. You go
to your desk and work and I'll sit here and rest. And when the spirit
moves me I'll speak."

So Fox went to his desk and Sally watched him as he became more and
more absorbed; and, as she watched, there came a light into her eyes
which had not been there before. Still she said nothing; only leaned
her head back against the chair and watched. Once he looked back at
her and smiled. He almost caught that light--that look in her eyes,
but Sally managed to quench it in time.

"Resting, Sally?" he asked.

She nodded and he turned back to his desk. The work did not seem
difficult. Sally wondered, and in her wonder she forgot, for the
moment.

"Couldn't I do that, Fox?"

"To be sure you could," he answered quickly, "if you only would. It
isn't half as difficult as what you do at your office."

He had not looked around. Sally was glad of that, for she was
blushing--at her own temerity, she told herself. Again there was
silence in the room, except for the rustling of papers.

"Fox," said Sally, after five minutes of this, "what would you do with
Charlie now? Would you send him back to college?"

He put his papers down and turned. "Does the spirit move you to talk
now?"

Again she nodded. "I think so. The little rest has done me good. And I
should like to have your advice."

He came to the chair near hers. "What happened after I left you last
night?"

"Nothing in particular," she answered. "I don't remember that we said
anything of consequence. I had a talk with Charlie, early this
morning." She gave him the substance of it; if it could be said to
have any substance. "This is the council of war," she added, smiling
somewhat wearily, "that is to settle his fate."

Fox sat contemplating the wall. "It seems rather hard to say 'no' to
your question," he said at last, slowly, "but I should be inclined to
advise it. Have you any assurance--besides Charlie's promise, that
is--that he will not return to his bad habits?"

"No, none of consequence. I am afraid he would. If--if he went into
the office with me now, I could keep an eye on him. That is," she
amended rather hopelessly, "I could try to. Charlie would probably
have no trouble in deceiving me if he tried to. I thought that
Henrietta might be willing to help about him. She might be able to do
more with him than I could."

"Of course she would be willing."

"She seems to have influence with Charlie and I should think she would
be willing to use it for his good. I haven't any influence," she
continued, "except through his fear of being found out. I don't know
how it happened--that doesn't matter especially--but he doesn't trust
me. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is." She sighed and looked away.

Fox did not like to have her look away. He much preferred to have
those gray eyes look trustingly into his.

"You may be sure that it's through no fault of yours, Sally."

"Perhaps," Sally returned, looking back at him. "Perhaps, but I'm not
so sure. Very likely it is my fault. At any rate, it can't be helped.
That's the way it's gone." She stopped and seemed to be considering;
wondering, perhaps, how she should have done. She could not have done
differently, being herself. There was always, at the bottom of her
heart, an utter contempt for--well, she would not complete that
thought. And she sighed again and resumed. Fox had said nothing.

"If we kept him in college, there would be relapses,--inevitably, I
think,--and I should only have to do this over again. Not that I
should mind," she interrupted herself hastily, "if it would do any
good. But every relapse would make it harder. There seems to be no
escape. I think he'll have to come out. That, I understand, is the
sense of the meeting?" She looked at Fox again, smiling whimsically.

"That is my advice," said he, "if I am privileged to give advice on
the subject. I'm sorry to be seeming to take away his opportunities.
His regret will grow as he grows older."

Sally shook her head. "He doesn't seem to have any regret."

"He will have."

"He may. I should think he would. But it's his own fault and that's
all there is to say about Charlie. I've done the best I could and I
don't mean to worry about it any more. I'll have him come into the
office to-morrow and I think he'll be glad to. It's a change, you
know."

Sally looked at Fox and smiled again; but if there was anything
humorous in her smile there was much more that was scornful.

"And now, Fox," Sally continued, very low--he could hardly hear the
words--and looking away again, "I have something else to tell you. It
is rather terrible, I think." Her voice was not steady and she
stopped, trying to control it. She did not want to cry; she did not
mean to. "I saw--" She choked, but went on bravely. "I saw my father
this morning."

"What!" He cried in a voice as low as her own. The effect of her words
was as great as she could have expected, if she thought of the effect
at all. He put out his hand instinctively; but Sally withdrew hers.
"Where, Sally?"

"He came to the hotel to see me." She spoke in a monotonous voice. She
found that her only hope lay in using that voice. She might begin to
cry at any moment. If she should--she was almost worn out and she was
afraid. In that same monotonous voice she gave every detail of the
interview. She did not omit anything. It was all burned into her
memory. Fox did not speak. When she came to an end of her account she
found that even her monotonous voice could not save her. She was
perilously near to tears and her chin would quiver in spite of all
that she could do.

"Sally! Sally!" said Fox tenderly. He saw her condition. "Don't tell
me any more now if it distresses you."

"I may as well," she replied as well as she could. She smiled up at
him, but her chin quivered more and more. "I may as well--now as well
as another time. For--for I've got to tell you, Fox." She looked at
him imploringly. "I've got to tell somebody, and the somebody is
always you." She smiled again tearfully, and looked away again. Fox
could not stand many such smiles. He would--would do something, he did
not know just what; but he sat gazing at her with infinite tenderness
and pity, saying nothing.

"My father is employed in--in the house that we went to," she resumed
at last; "the house where Charlie has been playing. He deals the
cards--or something. He must have known!" Two tears fell into her lap.
"To think that my father has fallen to that!--has fallen so low! And
when Charlie said that to him," she cried desperately, "it almost
b--broke my heart."

Her voice shook and suddenly she bowed her head upon her arms, which
were resting on the table, and broke into a passion of tears; wild
weeping, such as Fox had never known--had never supposed could come
from her. She had always seemed so beautifully poised, so steady and
so sturdy; like a rock, on which others built their foundations. But
the rod had smitten her and the springs were unbound. He had a wild
desire to take her in his arms.

But he didn't--then. He only murmured something meant to be
comforting. God knew he wanted to comfort her; wanted to as he had
never wanted anything in his life before. He would, if he only knew
how. But the wild weeping had given way to a subdued sobbing.

"And--it--it alm--most b--broke my heart," she sobbed, "to re--refuse
what he asked. B--but I had to do it. I h--had to do it, Fox. I
c--couldn't do anything else." She caught her breath. She could not go
on for a minute.

Only an inarticulate murmur came from Fox.

"Father was such a pathetic figure!" Sally went on a soon as she could
speak. "Of course I know that he is not always so--that he is seldom
so. There were mother and Charlie to think of. But it seemed so
terrible! And he was so patient under Charlie's--treatment--his own
father! I can't get him out of my--"

Her wild weeping, restrained for a moment, broke out again.

"Sally!" Fox murmured, leaning forward and laying a hand upon her
knee. "Sally, dear!"

There was a great distress and a great longing in his look, but Sally
had her head down and she did not see it. But it was in his voice and
she may have heard it. He rose impulsively from his chair and went to
her quickly--it was only a step--and he sat on the arm of her chair
and put his arm around her.

"Sally, dear!" he implored. "Don't cry so! Please don't."

She did not repulse him, as he had feared she would, gently, of
course, but firmly; but she did not yield either. It was as if, for
the moment, he was nothing to her--nothing more than a brother; not
_her_ brother, thank heaven! She only sobbed, there, for some
minutes--in his arms. That was enough.

She became more quiet in time. She still had her head down upon one
arm, but she was feeling up her sleeve and under her belt, searching
for something.

"Forgive me, F--Fox," she said, "I didn't mean to do it, but I'm
t--tired out and--and I can't find my handkerchief." She laughed a
little hysterically. "Have you got one to l--lend me, Fox? I c--can't
lift my head be--because I'm crying and I've cried all over your table
and into your chair--"

"Drat the table! What do you suppose I care about it, Sally?"

"You--you ought to. I--it's a very pretty table."

"I value it only because it holds your tears." Fox was unfolding a
handkerchief. It was a very large handkerchief. He put it into her
seeking hand. "I remember another occasion when you had to borrow a
handkerchief," he said. "Do you remember it, Sally?"

She nodded and began to mop her eyes. "Mercy! I--I didn't want a
sheet, Fox," she said.

Fox smiled. "I didn't know. You might." His voice was not steady as
he went on. "Sally," he whispered, "I--I want you. I want you!"

She gave another hysterical laugh. "Well," she cried, "anybody
w--would th--think that y--you had me."

"Have I, Sally dear?" he asked, still in that low whisper. "Have I?"
He bent over her neck. That was the only part of her that he could
reach--that neck with its little tendrils of waving hair.

"Oh, don't!" she cried hastily. "Don't, Fox. You haven't got me--yet,"
she added in a whisper which was barely audible. But Fox heard it.
"It--it isn't because--because you are sorry for me?" she asked in a
very small voice.

"No," Fox was smiling again; but, as Sally had her eyes hidden, of
course she did not see it. "I am sorry for you as I can be, but that
isn't the reason. Guess again."

"Are you _sure_, Fox? _Very_ sure?" she asked. "Say that you are,
Fox," she whispered. "Can't you please say that you are?"

"I am sure."

"And it isn't be--because m--my father," the small voice asked again,
"because my father is a--"

"No. That isn't the reason either. I'm quite sure, Sally."

Sally's head was still down on the table and she was wiping away her
tears.

"But, Fox," she protested, "you ought not to, you know."

"I ought," he replied indignantly. "I ought to have done it long ago.
Why not?"

Sally smiled at the table. "M--my father," she returned, not at all
dismally, "would disgrace you--very likely. He's a d--"

He interrupted her. "I don't care what he is, Sally," he said softly.
"I don't care about anything--but this."

"And my brother is a gambler," she went on, in a disgracefully happy
voice, considering what she was saying,--"with not much hope that he
will be anything else. I don't deceive myself."

"Only the greater reason," he said, more softly yet. "I want you,
Sally."

"Do you? After that?"

"You may believe it--dearest."

She gave a sudden, happy little cry. "Oh, I believe it. I want to
believe it. I have wanted to for more than two years--ever--since the
night of the fire." She lifted her head, the tears shining in her
eyes; something else shining there. "Then I don't care for--for
Margaret--or--or anybody else; or any--any--thing"--her voice sank to
a whisper once more--"but you."

Sally raised her eyes slowly to his. They were shy eyes, and very
tender. And Fox looked into their depths and saw--but what he saw
concerns only him and Sally. He seemed satisfied with what he saw. He
held her closer. Sally's eyes filled slowly and overflowed at last,
and she shut them.

"I'm crying because I'm so happy," she whispered.

Fox bent and kissed her. "I don't care for Margaret or for anybody
else but you," he murmured, "and I never have cared for anybody else.
I don't know what you mean. Who is Margaret?"

Sally opened her eyes. "You don't know?" she asked in surprise.

"I don't know. You have spoken of her before--as if I ought to know
all about her. Who is she and why must I know about her?"

She did not answer at once. Her eyes were deep and shining and, her
eyes searching his, she put up her arms--slowly--slowly--about his
neck. "Oh, Fox, dear!" she cried softly. "Oh, Fox, dear! And you don't
know!"

She laughed low and happily. Then she drew his head down--it came
readily enough--

When Sally emerged, a minute or two later, she was blushing. She
seemed burning up. She hid her burning cheeks in Fox's shoulder.

"Fox," she murmured from her hiding place, "don't you remember
Margaret Savage?"

"Oh, yes," he answered quite cheerfully. "She is very pretty now--very
attractive to the young men--but she's as much of a fool as ever."

Sally laughed again. "And Henrietta told me," she said, "that you
might succumb. So you see that, when you spoke of getting married--"

"Why, I meant you, all the time."

"Ye--es, but I didn't know that--and--and I thought that you meant
Margaret and--and Henrietta's remarks set me to thinking and
then--then, pretty soon, I knew that--that I loved you, Fox, and I was
very unhappy. Oh, Fox, I _was_ unhappy!"

"I'm sorry, darling. I'm very sorry. Sally!"

She looked up at him and, as she looked, the red once more mounted
slowly, flooding her throat and then her cheeks. Again she put her
arms up and drew his head down.

The crimson flood had left her face and there was in it only a lovely
color as she lay back in his arms. "Don't you love me, Fox?"

He laughed. "Love you! Love you! I should think it was--"

"Then," she asked, "why don't you say so, sir? You haven't said so
yet--not once." His arms tightened about her. "Close, Fox, dear!" she
whispered. "Hold me closer. I don't want to get away, ever."

It was getting late when they finally stood at a window from which
they could see the little cream-colored house--they had got as far as
that--and the grove behind it.

"I want to open that house," Fox was saying. "I want to live in it."

"_I_ want to live in it," Sally said.

"But," he returned quickly, "you know what must happen first. How
soon, Sally?"

"Just as soon as ever I can manage it, dear. You may depend upon that.
And now I must go. I'm disgracefully late, even now."

She hastily rearranged her hair, which, strangely enough, was much
disordered, and she put on her hat. Then she stood before him.

"Now, don't you be troubled about your father, Sally, or about
Charlie, or anything. We will take care of those troubles together."

"As if you hadn't always tried to take those troubles off my
shoulders!" She raised her radiant eyes to his. "If this is what you
meant by 'paying in kind,' you shall be paid, Fox. Oh, you _shall_ be
paid. And, dear, nothing troubles me now. Do you understand?
_Nothing_. Now I must run. Don't come with me. People couldn't help
noticing something. Good night."

Once more she kissed him, and she was gone, walking buoyantly and
turning more than once to wave to him. Fox's eyes were wet as he
watched her.

"Bless you, Sally! God go with you!"

God go with you, Sally!


THE END



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       *       *       *       *       *

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    | Typographical errors corrected in text:                   |
    |                                                           |
    | Page 209: minature replaced with miniature                |
    | Page 361: "and and" replaced with "and"                   |
    | Page 361: "in which the might conceal herself"            |
    |           replaced with                                   |
    |           "in which she might conceal herself"            |
    | Page 363: persusasively replaced with persuasively        |
    | Page 372: embarassed replaced with embarrassed            |
    | Page 379: enought replaced with enough                    |
    | Page 383: "You may sure" replaced with "You may be sure"  |
    |                                                           |
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