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Title: And So They Were Married
Author: Kingsley, Florence Morse, 1859-1937
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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[Illustration: Book Cover]



And So They Were Married



[Illustration: "'It isn't your husband's place to do your work and his
own, too, my dear'" (p. 126)]



And So They Were
Married


_By_
Florence Morse Kingsley

Author of "Titus," "The
Singular Miss Smith," "The
Resurrection of Miss Cynthia"


With Illustrations
By W. B. King


New York
Dodd, Mead & Company
1908



COPYRIGHT, 1908
By THE CURTIS PUBLISHING COMPANY

COPYRIGHT, 1908
By FLORENCE MORSE KINGSLEY



CHAPTER I


Dr. North's wife, attired in her dressing-gown and slippers, noiselessly
tilted the shutter of the old-fashioned inside blind and peered
cautiously out. The moon was shining splendidly in the dark sky, and the
empty street seemed almost as light as day. It had been snowing earlier
in the evening, Mrs. North observed absent-mindedly, and the clinging
drifts weighed the dark evergreens on either side of the gate almost to
the ground. A dog barked noisily from his kennel in a neighbouring yard,
and a chorus of answering barks acknowledged the signal; some one was
coming along the moonlit street. There were two figures, as Mrs. North
had expected; she craned her plump neck anxiously forward as the gate
clicked and a light girlish laugh floated up on the frosty air.

"Dear, dear!" she murmured, "I do hope Bessie will come right into the
house. It is too cold to stand outside talking."

Apparently the young persons below did not think so. They stood in the
bright moonlight in full view of the anxious watcher behind the shutter,
the man's tall figure bent eagerly toward the girl, whose delicate
profile Mrs. North could see distinctly under the coquettish sweep of
the broad hat-brim.

"The child ought to have worn her high overshoes," she was thinking,
when she was startled by the vision of the tall, broad figure stooping
over the short, slight one.

Then the key clicked in the lock and the front door opened softly; the
sound was echoed by the closing gate, as the tall figure tramped briskly
away over the creaking snow. The neighbour's dog barked again,
perfunctorily this time, as if acknowledging the entire respectability
of the passer-by; all the other dogs in town responded in kind, and
again there was silence broken only by the sound of a light foot on the
carpeted stair.

Mrs. North opened her door softly. "Is that you, Bessie?"

"Yes, mother."

"Isn't it very late, child?"

"It is only half past eleven."

"Did Louise go with you?"

"No, mother; she had a sore throat, and it was snowing; so her aunt
wouldn't allow her to go."

"Oh!" Mrs. North's voice expressed a faint disapproval.

"Of course we couldn't help it; besides, all the other girls were there
just with their escorts. You and grandma are so--old-fashioned. I'm sure
I don't see why I always have to have some other girl along--and Louise
Glenny of all persons! I couldn't help being just a little bit glad that
she couldn't go."

"Did you have a nice time, dear?"

The girl turned a radiant face upon her mother. "Oh, we had a _lovely_
time!" she murmured. "I--I'll tell you about it to-morrow. Is father
home?"

"Yes; he came in early to-night and went right to bed. I hope the
telephone bell won't ring again before morning."

The girl laughed softly. "You might take off the receiver," she
suggested. "Poor daddy!"

"Oh, no; I couldn't do that. Your father would never forgive me. But I
told him not to have it on his mind; I'll watch out for it and answer
it, and if it's Mrs. Salter again with one of her imaginary sinking
spells I'm going to tell her the doctor won't be in before six in the
morning. I do hope it isn't wrong to deceive that much; but your father
isn't made of iron, whatever some people may think."

The girl laughed again, a low murmur of joy. "Good-night, dear little
mother," she said caressingly. "You are always watching and waiting for
some one; aren't you? But you needn't have worried about _me_." She
stooped and kissed her mother, her eyes shining like stars; then hurried
away to hide the blush which swept her face and neck.

"Dear, dear!" sighed Mrs. North, as she crept back to her couch drawn
close to the muffled telephone, "I suppose I ought to have spoken to
her father before this; but he is always so busy; I hardly have time to
say two words to him. Besides, he thinks Bessie is only a child, and he
would have laughed at me."

The girl was taking off her hat and cloak in her own room. How long ago
it seemed since she had put them on. She smoothed out her white gloves
with caressing fingers. "I shall always keep them," she thought. She was
still conscious of his first kisses, and looked in her glass, as if half
expecting to see some visible token of them.

"I am so happy--so happy!" she murmured to the radiant reflection which
smiled back at her from out its shadowy depths. She leaned forward and
touched the cold smooth surface with her lips in a sudden passion of
gratitude for the fair, richly tinted skin, the large bright eyes with
their long curling lashes, the masses of brown waving hair, and the
pliant beauty of the strong young figure in the mirror.

"If I had been freckled and stoop-shouldered and awkward, like Louise
Glenny, he _couldn't_ have loved me," she was thinking.

She sank to her knees after awhile and buried her face in the coverlid
of her little bed. But she could think only of the look in his eyes when
he had said "I love you," and of the thrilling touch of his lips on
hers. She crept into bed and lay there in a wide-eyed rapture, while the
village clock struck one, and after a long, blissful hour, two. Then she
fell asleep, and did not hear the telephone bell which called her tired
father from his bed in the dim, cold hour between three and four.

She was still rosily asleep and dreaming when Mrs. North came softly
into the room in the broad sunlight of the winter morning.

"Isn't Lizzie awake yet?" inquired a brisk voice from the hall. "My,
_my_! but girls are idle creatures nowadays!"

The owner of the voice followed this dictum with a quick patter of
softly shod feet.

"I didn't like to call her, mother," apologised Mrs. North. "She came in
late, and----"

Grandmother Carroll pursed up her small, wise mouth. "I heard her," she
said, "and that young man with her. I don't know, daughter, but what we
ought to inquire into his prospects and character a little more
carefully, if he's to be allowed to come here so constant. Lizzie's very
young, and----"

"Oh, grandma!" protested a drowsy voice from the pillows; "I'm twenty!"

"Twenty; yes, I know you're twenty, my dear; quite old enough, I should
say, to be out of bed before nine in the morning."

"It wasn't her fault, mother; I didn't call her."

The girl was gazing at the two round matronly figures at the foot of the
bed, her laughing eyes grown suddenly serious. "I'll get up at once,"
she said with decision, "and I'll eat bread and milk for breakfast; I
sha'n't mind."

"She's got something on her mind," whispered Mrs. North to her mother,
as the two pattered softly downstairs.

"I shouldn't wonder," responded Grandmother Carroll briskly. "Girls of
her age are pretty likely to have, and I mistrust but what that young
Bowser may have been putting notions into her head. I hope you'll be
firm with her, daughter; she's much too young for anything of that
sort."

"You were married when you were eighteen, mother; and I was barely
twenty, you know."

"I was a very different girl at eighteen from what Lizzie is," Mrs.
Carroll said warmly. "She's been brought up differently. In my time
healthy girls didn't lie in bed till ten o'clock. Many and many's the
time I've danced till twelve o'clock and been up in the morning at five
'tending to my work. You indulge Lizzie too much; and if that young
Bixler----"

"His name is Brewster, mother; don't you remember? and they say he comes
of a fine old Boston family."

"Well, Brewster or Bixler; it will make no difference to Lizzie, you'll
find. I've been watching her for more than a month back, and I'll tell
you, daughter, when a girl like Lizzie offers to eat bread and milk for
breakfast you can expect almost anything. Her mind is on other things.
I'll never forget the way you ate a boiled egg for breakfast every
morning for a week--and you couldn't bear eggs--about the time the
doctor was getting serious. I mistrusted there was something to pay, and
I wasn't mistaken."

Mrs. North sighed vaguely. Then her tired brown eyes lighted up with a
smile. "I had letters from both the boys this morning," she said; "don't
you want to read them, mother? Frank has passed all his mid-year
examinations, and Elliot says he has just made the 'varsity gym' team."

"Made the _what_?"

"I don't quite understand myself," acknowledged Mrs. North; "but that's
what he said. He said he'd have his numerals to show us when he came
home Easter."

"Hum!" murmured Mrs. Carroll dubiously; "I'm sure I hope he won't break
his neck in any foolish way. Did he say anything about his lessons?"

"Not much; he never was such a student as Frank; but he'll do well,
mother."

Elizabeth North, fresh as a dewy rose and radiant with her new
happiness, came into the room just as Mrs. Carroll folded the last sheet
of the college letters. "I'll ask Lizzie," she said. "Lizzie, what is a
g-y-m team?"

"Oh, grandma!" protested the girl, "_please_ don't call me _Lizzie_.
Bessie is bad enough; but _Lizzie_! I always think of that absurd old
Mother Goose rhyme, 'Elizabeth, Lizzie, Betsey and Bess, all went
hunting to find a bird's nest'; and, besides, you promised me you
wouldn't."

"Lizzie was a good enough name for your mother," said grandma briskly.
"Your father courted and married her under that name, and he didn't
mind." Her keen old eyes behind their shining glasses dwelt triumphantly
on the girl's changing colour. "You needn't tell _me_!" she finished
irrelevantly.

But Elizabeth had possessed herself of the letters, and was already deep
in a laughing perusal of Elliot's scrawl. "Oh, how splendid!" she cried;
"he's made the Varsity, on his ring work, too!"

"I don't pretend to understand what particular _work_ Elliot is
referring to," observed grandma, with studied mildness. "Is it some sort
of mathematics?"

Elizabeth sprang up and flung both arms about the smiling old lady. "You
dear little hypocritical grandma!" she said; "you know perfectly well
that it isn't any study at all, but just gymnastic work--all sorts of
stunts, swinging on rings and doing back and front levers and shoulder
stands and all that sort of thing. Elliot has such magnificent muscles
he can do anything, and better than any one else, and that's why he's on
the varsity, you see!"

"Thank you, Elizabeth," said grandma tranquilly. "I'd entirely forgotten
that young men don't go to college now to study their lessons. My memory
is certainly getting poor."

"No, grandma dear; it isn't. You remember everything a thousand times
better than any one else, and what is more, you know it. But of course
Elliot studies; he has to. Mr. Brewster says he thinks Elliot is one of
the finest boys he knows. He thinks he would make a splendid engineer.
He admires Frank, too, immensely, and----"

"What does the young man think of Elizabeth?" asked Mrs. Carroll with a
wise smile.

"He--oh, grandma; I--didn't mean to tell just yet; but he--I----"

"There, there, child! Better go and find your mother. I mistrust she's
getting you a hot breakfast." She drew the girl into her soft old arms
and kissed her twice.

Elizabeth sprang up all in a lovely flame of blushes and ran out of the
room.



CHAPTER II


When Samuel Herrick Brewster, B.S. and Civil Engineer, late of the
Massachusetts School of Technology, came to Innisfield for the purpose
of joining the corps of engineers already at work on a new and improved
system of water-works, he had not the slightest intention of falling
seriously in love. By "seriously" Sam Brewster himself might have told
you--as he told his married sister living in Saginaw, Mich., and
anxiously solicitous of the young man's general well-being--that he
meant that sort and quality of affection which would naturally and
inevitably lead a man into matrimony. He had always been fond of the
society of pretty and amiable women, and well used to it, too. His
further ideas with regard to matrimony, though delightfully vague in
their general character, were sufficiently clear-cut and decided in one
important particular, which he had been careful to expound at length to
those impetuous undergraduates of his fraternity who had appeared to
need friendly counsel from their elders. "A man," said young Brewster,
conclusively, "has no business to marry till he can feel solid ground
under his feet. He should be thoroughly established in his profession,
and well able to pay the shot."

When this sapient young gentleman first met Elizabeth North at a picnic
given by the leading citizens of Innisfield to celebrate the completion
of the new aqueduct he was disposed to regard her as a very nice,
intelligent sort of a girl, with remarkably handsome brown eyes. On the
occasion of his third meeting with the young lady he found himself,
rather to his surprise, telling her about his successful work in the
"Tech," and of how he hoped to "get somewhere" in his profession some
day. Elizabeth in her turn had confided to him her disappointment in not
being able to go to Wellesley, and her ambitious attempts to keep up
with Marian Evans, who was in the Sophomore year, in literature and
music. She played Chopin's Fantasia Impromptu for him on Mrs. North's
garrulous old piano; and as her slender fingers twinkled over the yellow
keys he caught himself wondering how much a first-class instrument would
cost. In the course of a month he had fallen into the habit of strolling
home with Elizabeth after church, and twice Mrs. North, in the kindness
of her motherly heart, had asked him to dinner. She was afraid, she told
Grandma Carroll, that the table board at Mrs. Bentwick's was none of the
best. She spoke of him further as "that nice, good-looking boy," and
hoped he wouldn't be too lonely in Innisfield, away from all his
friends.

As for Dr. North, that overworked physician was seldom to be seen, being
apparently in a chronic state of hastily and energetically climbing into
his gig, and as energetically and hastily climbing out again. He had
hurriedly shaken hands with young Brewster, and made him welcome to his
house in one of the brief intervals between office hours and the
ever-waiting gig, with its imperturbable brown horse, who appeared to
know quite as well as the doctor where the sick were to be found. After
that, it is fair to state, the worthy doctor had completely forgotten
that such a person as Samuel Herrick Brewster, B.S., C.E. existed. One
may judge therefore of his feelings when his wife chose a moment of
relaxation between a carefully cooked dinner and an expected summons by
telephone to acquaint him with the fact of their daughter's engagement.

"_Engaged?_" exclaimed the doctor, starting out of his chair.
"Bess--engaged! Oh, I guess not. I sha'n't allow anything of the sort;
she's nothing but a child, and as for this young fellow--what 'd you say
his name was? We don't know him!"

"You don't, you mean, papa," his wife corrected him gently. "The rest of
us have seen a good deal of Mr. Brewster, and I'm sure Bessie----"

[Illustration: "'Oh, daddy, he's the dearest person in the world!'"]

"Now, mother, what made you? I wanted to tell daddy myself. Oh, daddy,
he's the dearest person in the world!" Then as Elizabeth caught the
hurt, bewildered look in her father's eyes she perched on his knee in
the old familiar fashion. "It seems sudden--to you, I know," she
murmured; "but really it isn't, daddy; as he will tell you if he can
ever find you at home to talk to. Why, we've known each other since last
summer!"

"I'm afraid I'm very stupid, child; but I don't believe I understand.
You don't mean to tell me that you have been thinking of--of getting
married and to a man I don't know even." Dr. North shook his head
decidedly.

"But you do know him, daddy; he's been here ever so many times. Of
course"--she added with a touch of laughing malice--"he's perfectly
well, and you seldom notice well people, even when they're in your own
family."

"I don't have time, Bess," admitted the doctor soberly, "there are too
many of the other sort. But now about this young man--Brewster--eh? You
have him come 'round in office hours, say, and I'll----"

"Now, daddy, _please_ don't straighten out your mouth like that; it
isn't a bit becoming. Naturally you've got the sweetest, kindest look
in the world, and you mustn't spoil it, especially when you are talking
about Sam."

The doctor pinched his daughter's pink ear. "I'm sorry to appear such an
ogre," he said with a touch of grimness, "but I know too much about the
world in general, and the business of getting married in particular, to
allow my one daughter to go into it blindly. I'll be obliged to make the
young man's further acquaintance, Bess, before we talk about an
engagement."

The girl's scarlet lips were set in firm lines, which strongly resembled
the paternal expression to which she had objected; she kissed her father
dutifully. "I want you to get acquainted with him, daddy," she said
sweetly; "but we _are_ engaged."

That same afternoon Dr. North, looking worried and anxious after a
prolonged conference with the village hypochrondriac, who had come to
the office fully charged with symptoms of a new and distinguished
disease lately imported from Europe, found himself face to face with a
tall, fresh-faced young man. This new visitor came into the office
bringing with him a breath of the wintry air and a general appearance of
breezy health which caused the hypochondriac to look up sourly in the
act of putting on her rubbers.

"If that new medicine doesn't relieve that terrible feelin' in my
epigastrium, doctor--an' I don't believe it's a-goin' to--I'll let you
know," she remarked acidly. "You needn't be surprised to be called most
any time between now an' mornin'; for, as I told Mr. Salter, I ain't
a-goin' to suffer as I did last night for nobody."

"_Good_-afternoon, Mrs. Salter," said the doctor emphatically. "Now
then, young man, what can I do for you?"

The young man in question coloured boyishly. "I shouldn't have ventured
to call upon you during your office hours, Dr. North; but I understood
from Elizabeth that you could be seen at no other time; so I'm here."

"Elizabeth--eh? Yes, yes; I see. I--er--didn't recall your face for the
moment. Just come into my private office for a minute or two, Mr.
Brewster; these--er--other patients will wait a bit, I fancy."

The worthy doctor handed his visitor a chair facing the light, which he
further increased by impatiently shoving the shades to the top of the
windows. Then he seated himself and stared keenly at the young engineer,
who on his part bore the scrutiny with a sturdy self-possession which
pleased the doctor in spite of himself.

"Elizabeth told you of our engagement, I believe, sir?"

[Illustration: "'I said to her that I couldn't and wouldn't consider an
engagement between you at present'"]

"She told me something of the sort--yes," admitted the doctor testily.
"I said to her that I couldn't and wouldn't consider an engagement
between you at present. Did she tell you that?"

"I was told that you wished to make my further acquaintance. I should
like, if you have the time, to tell you something about myself. You have
the right to know."

The doctor nodded frowningly. "If you expect me--at any time in the
future, you understand--to give you my only daughter, I certainly am
entitled to know--everything."

The young man looked the doctor squarely in the eyes during the longish
pause that followed. "There isn't much to tell," he said. "My father and
mother are dead. I have one sister, older than I, married to one of the
best fellows in the world and living West. I made my home with them till
I came to the Tech. You can ask any of the professors there about me.
They'll tell you that I worked. I graduated a year ago last June. Since
then I've been at work at my profession. I'm getting twelve hundred a
year now; but----"

"Stop right there. Why did you ask my girl to marry you?"

"Because I loved her."

"Hum! And she--er--fancies that she loves you--eh?"

A dark flush swept over Samuel Brewster's ingenuous young face. "She
does love me," was all he said. But he said it in a tone which suddenly
brought back the older man's vanished youth.

There was a short silence; then the doctor arose so abruptly that he
nearly upset his chair. "_Well_," he said, "I've got to go to Boston
to-morrow on a case, and I'll see those professors of yours, for one
thing; I know Collins well. Not that he or anybody else can tell me all
about you--not by a long shot; I know boys and young men well enough for
that. But you see, sir, I--love my girl too, and I--I'll say
_good_-afternoon, sir."

He threw the door wide with an impatient hand. "Ah, Mrs. Tewksbury;
you're next, I believe. Walk right in."

An hour later, when the door had finally closed on his last patient, Dr.
North sat still in his chair, apparently lost in thought. His dinner was
waiting, he knew, and a round of visits must be made immediately
thereafter, yet he did not stir. He was thinking, curiously enough, of
the time when his daughter Elizabeth was a baby. What a round, pink
little face she had, to be sure, and what a strong, healthy, plump
little body. He could almost hear the unsteady feet toddling across the
breadth of dingy oilcloth which carpeted his office floor. "Daddy,
daddy!" her sweet, imperious voice was crying, "I'm tomin' to see you,
daddy!"

His eyes were wet when he finally stumbled to his feet. Then suddenly he
felt a pair of warm arms about his neck, and a dozen butterfly kisses
dropped on his cheeks, his hair, his forehead. "Daddy, dear, he came;
didn't he? I saw him go away. I hope you weren't--cruel to him, oh,
daddy!"

"No, daughter; I wasn't exactly cruel to him. But didn't the young man
stop to talk it over with you?"

"No, daddy; I thought he would of course; but he just waved his hand for
good-bye, and I--was frightened for fear----"

"Didn't stop to talk it over--eh? Say, I like that! To tell you the
truth, Bess, I--rather like him. Good, clear, steady eyes; good all
'round constitution, I should say; and if--Oh, come, come, child; we'd
better be getting in to dinner or your mother will be anxious. But I
want you to understand, miss, that your old daddy has no notion of
playing second fiddle to any youngster's first, however tall and
good-looking he may be."

And singularly enough, Elizabeth appeared to be perfectly satisfied with
this paternal dictum. "I knew you'd like him," she said, slipping her
small hand into her father's big one, in the little girl fashion she had
never lost. "Why, daddy, he's the best man I ever knew--except you, of
course. He told me"--the girl's voice dropped to an awed whisper--"that
he promised his mother when she was dying that he would never do a mean
or dishonest thing. And--and he says, daddy, that whenever he has been
tempted to do wrong he has felt his mother's eyes looking at him, so
that he couldn't. Anybody would know he was good just from seeing him."

"Hum! Well, well, that may be so. I'll talk to Collins and see what he
has to say. Collins is a man of very good judgment; I value his opinion
highly."

"Don't you value mine, daddy?" asked Elizabeth, with an irresistible
dimple appearing and disappearing at the corner of her mouth.

"On some subjects, my dear," replied the doctor soberly; "but--er--on
this particular one I fancy you may be slightly prejudiced."



CHAPTER III


The question of "wherewithal shall we be clothed," which has vexed the
world since its beginning in the garden "planted eastward in Eden,"
confronts the children of Eve so persistently at every serious crisis of
life that one is forced to the conclusion that clothes sustain a very
real and vital relation to destiny. Even Solomon in all his glory must
earnestly have considered the colour and texture of his famous robes of
state when he was making ready to dazzle the eyes of the Queen of Sheba,
and the Jewish Esther's royal apparel and Joseph's coat of many colours
played important parts in the history of a nation.

Elizabeth North had been engaged to be married to Samuel Brewster
exactly a fortnight when the age-long question presented itself to her
attention. It was perhaps inevitable that she should have thought
speculatively of her wedding gown; what girl would not? But in the
sweet amaze of her new and surprising happiness she might have gone on
wearing her simple girlish frocks quite unaware of its relation to her
wardrobe. She owed her awakening to Miss Evelyn Tripp.

Elizabeth had known Evelyn Tripp in a distant fashion suited to the
great gulf which appeared to exist between the fashionable lady from
Boston, who was in the habit of paying semi-annual visits to Innisfield,
and the young daughter of the country doctor. She had always regarded
Miss Tripp as the epitome of all possible elegance, and vaguely
associated her with undreamed-of festivities and privileges peculiar to
the remote circles in which she moved when absent from Innisfield.

Miss Tripp explained her presence in the quiet village after one formula
which had grown familiar to every one. "I was _completely_ worn out, my
dear; I've just run away from a perfect whirl of receptions, teas,
luncheons and musicales; really, I was _on the verge_ of a nervous
breakdown when my physician simply _insisted_ upon my leaving it all. I
_do_ find dear, quiet Innisfield so _relaxing_ after the social strain."

Miss Tripp's heavily italicised remarks were invariably accompanied by
uplifted eyebrows, and a sweetly serious expression, alternating with
flashing glimpses of very white teeth, and further accented by
numberless little movements of her hands and shoulders which suggested
deeper meanings than her words often conveyed.

Ill-natured people, such as Mrs. Buckthorn and Electa Pratt, declared
that Evelyn Tripp was thirty-five if she was a day, though she dressed
like sixteen; and furthermore that her social popularity in Boston was a
figment of her own vivid imagination. Elizabeth North, however, had
always admired her almost reverently, in the shy, distant fashion of the
young, country-bred girl.

Miss Tripp was unquestionably elegant, and her smart gowns and the large
picture hats she affected had created quite their usual sensation in
Innisfield, where the slow-spreading ripples of fashion were viewed
with a certain stern disfavour as being linked in some vague manner with
irreligion of a dangerous sort. "She's too stylish to be good for much,"
being the excellent Mrs. Buckthorn's severe corollary.

Miss Tripp had been among the first to press friendly congratulations
upon young Brewster, who on his part received them with the engaging
awkwardness of the unaccustomed bachelor.

"You are certainly the _most_ fortunate of men to have won that sweet,
simple Elizabeth North! I've known her since she was quite a
child--since we were both children, in fact, and she was always the same
unspoiled, unaffected girl, so different from the young women one meets
in society circles."

"She's all of that," quoth the fortunate engineer, vaguely aware of a
lack of flavour in Miss Tripp's encomium, "and--er--more."

Whereat Miss Tripp laughed archly and playfully shook a daintily gloved
finger at him. "I can see that you think no one is capable of
appreciating your prize; but I assure you _I do_! You shall see!" This
last was a favourite phrase, and conveyed quite an alluring sense of
mystery linked with vague promise of unstinted benevolences on the part
of Miss Tripp. "Do you know," she added seriously, "I am told that you
are closely related to Mrs. J. Mortimer Van Duser. She is a wonderful
woman, so prominent in the best circles and interested in so many
important charities."

Samuel Brewster shook his head. "The relationship is hardly worth
mentioning," he said. "Mrs. Van Duser was a distant relative of my
mother's."

"But of course you see a great deal of her when you are in Boston; do
you not?" persisted the lady.

"I dined there once," acknowledged the young man, vaguely uneasy and
rather too obviously anxious to make his escape, "but I dare say she has
forgotten my existence by this time. Mrs. Van Duser is, as you say, a
very--er--active woman."

On the following day Elizabeth North encountered Miss Tripp on the
street. She was about to pass her after a shy salutation, when Miss
Tripp held out both hands in a pretty, impulsive gesture. "I was just on
my way to see you, dear; but if you are going out, of course I'll wait
till another day. My dear, he's _simply_ perfect! and I really
_couldn't_ wait to tell you so. Do tell me when you are to be married?
In June, I hope, for then I shall be here to help."

Elizabeth blushed prettily, her shy gaze taking in the details of Miss
Tripp's modish costume. She was wondering if a jacket made like the one
Miss Tripp was wearing would be becoming. "I--we haven't thought so far
ahead as that," she said. Then with a sudden access of her new dignity.
"Mr. Brewster expects to return to Boston in the spring. The work here
will be finished by that time."

Miss Tripp's eyes brightened with a speculative gleam. "Oh, then you
will live in _Boston_! How _delighted_ I am to hear _that_! Did you
know your _fiancé_ is related to Mrs. Mortimer Van Duser? and that he
has _dined_ there? _You didn't?_ But of course you must have heard of
Mrs. Van Duser; I believe your minister's wife is a relative of hers.
But Mrs. Van Duser doesn't approve of Mrs. Pettibone, I'm told; her
opinions are so odd. But I _am_ so glad for you, my dear; if everything
is managed properly you will have an _entrée_ to the most exclusive
circles." Miss Tripp's eyebrows and shoulders expressed such unfeigned
interest and delight in her prospects that Elizabeth beamed and smiled
in her turn. She wished confusedly that Miss Tripp would not talk to her
about her engagement; it was too sacred, too wonderful a thing to
discuss on the street with a mere acquaintance like Miss Tripp. Yet all
the while she was rosily conscious of her new ring, which she could feel
under her glove, and a childish desire to uncover its astonishing
brilliancy before such warmly appreciative eyes presently overcame her
desire to escape. "Won't you walk home with me?" she asked; "mother will
be so glad to see you."

"Oh, _thank_ you! Indeed I was coming to condole with your dear mother
and to wish you all sorts of happiness. I've so often spoken of you to
my friends in Boston."

Elizabeth wondered what Miss Tripp could possibly have said about her to
her friends in Boston. But she was assured by Miss Tripp's brilliant
smile that it had been something agreeable. When she came into the room
after removing her hat and cloak she found her mother deep in
conversation with the visitor, who made room for her on the sofa with a
smile and a graceful tilt of her plumed head.

"We've been talking about you every minute, dear child. You'll see what
a _sweet_ wedding you'll have. Everything must be of the very latest;
and it isn't a minute too soon to begin on your trousseau. You really
ought to have everything hand-embroidered, you know; those flimsy laces
and machine-made edges are so common, you won't _think_ of them; and
they don't wear a bit well, either."

Mrs. North glanced appealingly at her daughter. "Oh," she said, in a
bewildered tone, "I guess Elizabeth isn't intending to be married for a
long, long time yet; I--we can't spare her."

Miss Tripp laughed airily. "_Poor_ mamma," she murmured with a look of
deep sympathy, "it _is_ too bad; isn't it? But, really, I'm sure you're
to be congratulated on your future son-in-law. He belongs to a _very_
aristocratic family--Mrs. Mortimer Van Duser is a relative, you know;
and dear Betty must have everything _suitable_. I'll do some pretty
things, dear; I'd love to, and I'll begin this very day, though the
doctor has absolutely forbidden me to use my eyes; but I simply can't
resist the temptation."

Then she had exclaimed over the sparkle of Elizabeth's modest diamond,
which caught her eyes at the moment, and presently in a perfumed rush of
silken skirts and laces and soft furs Miss Tripp swept away, chatting to
the outermost verge of the frosty air in her sweet-toned drawling voice,
so different from the harsh nasal accents familiar to Innisfield ears.

Elizabeth drew a deep breath as she watched the slim, erect figure move
lightly away. She felt somehow very ignorant and countrified and totally
unfit for her high destiny as a member of Boston's select circles. As a
result of these unwonted stirrings in her young heart she went up to her
room and began to look over her wardrobe with growing dissatisfaction.

Her mother hearing the sound of opening and shutting drawers came into
the room and stood looking on with what appeared to the girl a
provokingly indifferent expression on her plump middle-aged face.

"It is really too soon to begin worrying about wedding clothes, Bessie,"
observed Mrs. North with a show of maternal authority. "Of
course"--after a doubtful silence--"we might begin to make up some new
underclothes. I've a good firm piece of cotton in the house, and we can
buy some edges."

The girl suddenly faced her mother, her pink lips thrust forward in an
unbecoming pout. "Why, mother," she said, "don't you know people don't
wear things made out of common cotton cloth now; everything has to be as
fine and delicate as a cobweb almost, and--hand-embroidered. You can
make them or buy them in the stores. Marian had some lovely things when
she went to college. All the girls wear them--except me. Of course I've
never had anything of the sort; but I suppose I'll have to now!"

She shut her bureau drawer with an air of finality and leaned her
puckered forehead upon her hand while the new diamond flashed its blue
and white fires into her mother's perplexed eyes.

"We'll do the very best we can, dear," Mrs. North said after a
lengthening pause; "but your father's patients don't pay their bills
very promptly, and there are the boys' college expenses to be met; we'll
have to think of that."

This conversation marked the beginning of many interviews, gradually
increasing in poignant interest to both mother and daughter. It appeared
that "Sam," as Elizabeth now called her lover with a pretty hesitancy
which the young man found adorable, wished to be married in June, so as
to take his bride with him on a trip West, in which business and
pleasure might be profitably combined.

Mrs. North demurred weakly; but Dr. North was found to be on the side of
the young man. "I don't believe in long engagements myself," he had
said, with a certain suspicious gruffness in his tones. "I hoped we
should have our daughter to ourselves for a while longer; but she's
chosen otherwise, and there is no use and no need to wait. We'll have to
let her go, wife, and the sooner the better, for both of them."

The important question being thus finally decided, not only Miss Tripp
but the Norths' whole circle of acquaintances in Innisfield, as well as
the female relations, near and far, were found ready and anxious to
engage heart and soul in Elizabeth's preparations for her wedding, which
had now begun in what might be well termed solemn earnest.

"Are we going to--keep house?" Elizabeth asked her lover in the first
inrush of this new tide of experience which was soon to bear her far
from the old life.

"To keep house, dear, with you would be pretty close to my idea of
heaven," the young man had declared with all the fervour of the
inexperienced bachelor. "I've boarded for nearly six years now with
barely a taste of home between whiles, and I'm tired of it. Don't you
want to keep house, dear?"

And Elizabeth answered quite sweetly and truly that she did. "I can
cook," she said, proud of her old-fashioned accomplishment in the light
of her new happiness. "We will have just a little house to begin with,
and then I can do everything."

But a suitable house of any size in Boston was found to be quite out of
the question. "It will have to be an apartment, my dear," the
experienced Miss Tripp declared; "and I believe I know the very one in a
_really good_ neighbourhood. I'll write at once. You mustn't _think_ of
South Boston, even if it is more convenient for Mr. Brewster. It is so
important to begin right; and you know, my dear, you couldn't expect any
one to come to see you in South Boston."

Mrs. Carroll, who chanced to be present, was observed to compress her
lips firmly. "Lizzie," she said, when the fashionable Miss Tripp had
finally taken her departure, after much voluble advice on the subject of
the going-away gown, coupled with a spirited discussion of the rival
merits of a church wedding and "just a pretty, simple home affair," "if
I were you I shouldn't let that Evelina Kipp decide everything for me.
You'd better make up your mind what you want to do, and what you can
afford to do, and then do it without asking her leave. It seems to me
her notions are extravagant and foolish."

"Why, grandma!" pouted Elizabeth. "I think it is perfectly dear of Miss
Tripp to take such an interest in my wedding. I shouldn't have known
what to do about lots of things, and I'm sure you and mother haven't an
idea." The girl's pretty lips curled and she moved her slim shoulders
gently.

"Your mother and I both managed to get married without Miss Fripp's
advice," retorted grandma tranquilly. "I may not have an 'idea,' as you
call it, but I can't see why you should have ruffled silk petticoats to
all your dresses. One good moreen skirt did me, with a quilted alpaca
for every-day wear and two white ones for best. And as for a dozen sets
of underclothes, that won't wear once they see the washtub, they look
foolish to me. More than all that, your father can't afford it, and you
ought to consider him."

Elizabeth looked up with a worried pucker between her girlish brows. "I
don't see how I am going to help it, grandma," she sighed; "I really
must have suitable clothes."

"I agree with you there, Lizzie," said Mrs. Carroll, eyeing her
granddaughter keenly over the top of her spectacles; "but you aren't
going to have them, if you let that Sipp girl tell you what to buy."

"It isn't _Sipp_, grandma, it's Tripp. T-r-i-p-p," said Elizabeth, in a
long-suffering tone; "and she knows better than any one in Innisfield
possibly can what I am going to need in Boston."

"You'll find the people in Boston won't take any particular interest in
your petticoats, Lizzie," her grandmother told her pointedly. But the
girl had spied her lover coming up the walk toward the house and had
flown to meet him.

"What's the matter, sweetheart?" asked the young man, examining his
treasure with the keen eyes of love. "You look tired and--er--worried.
Anything wrong, little girl?"

"N-no," denied Elizabeth evasively. "Only grandma has such queer,
old-fashioned ideas about--clothes. And she thinks I ought to have just
what she had when she was married to grandfather fifty years ago. Of
course I want to have everything nice and--suitable for Boston, you
know."

"What you are wearing now is pretty enough for anywhere," declared Sam
Brewster, with masculine obtuseness. "Don't you bother one minute about
clothes, darling; you'd look lovely in anything."

Then he kissed her faintly smiling lips with the fatuous idea that the
final word as to wedding finery had been said.



CHAPTER IV


"If you can give me just a minute, Richard, before you go out." It was
Mrs. North's timidly apologetic voice which broke in upon her husband's
hasty preparations for a day's professional engagements.

Dr. North faced about with a laughing twinkle in his eyes. "I know your
minutes, Lizzie," he said, absent-mindedly sniffling at the cork of a
half-emptied bottle. "This gentian's no good; I've a mind to ship it
back to Avery's and tell them what I think of the firm for selling
adulterated drugs. It's an outrage on suffering humanity. I'll write to
them anyway." And he began to rummage his desk in quest of stationery.

"I wanted to speak to you about Bessie's things," persisted Mrs. North.
"You know you gave me some money for her wedding clothes last month; but
it isn't--it won't be nearly enough."

"What on earth have you been buying for the child?" asked her husband.
"I should think with what she has already the money I gave you would go
quite a ways."

"That's just it," sighed Mrs. North. "Bessie thinks none of the things
she has are--suitable." She hesitated a little over the hard-worked
word. "Of course living in Boston, and----"

"Pooh! Boston's no different from any other town," put in the doctor.
"You tell Bess I said so. She doesn't need to worry about _Boston_!" He
plumped down in his office chair and began an indignant protest
addressed to the firm of Avery & Co., Wholesale Druggists and Dealers in
Surgical Supplies.

"I haven't bought any of her best dresses yet," sighed Mrs. North; "and
she wants an all-over lace for her wedding dress. Miss Tripp says
they're very much worn now."

She paused suggestively while the doctor's pen raced busily over his
page.

"You didn't hear what I said, did you, Richard?" she ventured after a
while.

"Yes, m' dear; heard every word; you were saying you'd bought Bess a
lace wedding dress, and that Miss Tripp says they're very much worn,"
replied her husband, fixing on a stamp with a sounding thump of his big
fist. "Glad to hear it. Well, I'll have to be moving now. Good-bye, m'
dear; home to dinner if I can; if not----"

"If you could let me have two hundred and fifty dollars, Richard," said
Mrs. North rather faintly, "we'll try to manage with that for the
present."

"Well, now, Lizzie, when it comes to your wanting anything I always get
it for you--if I can; and you know that; but I sent off cheques to Frank
and Elliot this morning, and I'm what you'd call strapped."

"Couldn't you collect----"

The doctor kissed his wife cheerfully. "How can I, wifey, when folks
leave their doctor's bills till the last cent's paid to everybody else?
Don't know as I blame 'em; it's hard enough to be sick without having to
pay out money for it; now, isn't it?"

"Oh, Dick; if that isn't just like you! But I--I've thought of a way."

"Good! What is it?"

"We might--borrow some money on the house. Other people do, and----"

"Mortgage our house for wedding finery? I guess you're joking, Lizzie.
At any rate, I'll call it a joke and let it pass! Good-bye!" The quick
slam of the office door put a conclusive finish to the doctor's words,
and his wife went back to her work on one of Elizabeth's elaborate
garments with a heavy heart.

"What did Richard say?" Grandma Carroll wanted to know, when the girl
had gone into another room to be fitted.

"He said he couldn't possibly let me have anything more just now," said
Richard's wife with a shade of reserve in her voice. "You know, mother,
people are so slow in paying their bills. The doctor has any amount
outstanding if he could only get it."

"Such folks had ought to be made to pay before they get 'ary a pill or a
powder, same 's they do for what made 'em sick. They'd find money for
the doctor quick enough once they had a right sharp pain from
over-eating," was grandma's trenchant opinion. "But I expected he'd say
that all along, and I wanted to give you this for Lizzie."

She slipped a little roll of bills into her daughter's lap. "Don't say
anything to the child about it," she whispered, nodding her kind old
head; "it would worry her. Besides I don't approve of the amount of
money she's putting into perishable things. I meant to buy her a real
good clock or a nice solid piece of furniture; but if she'd rather have
lace frills that'll fall to pieces in the washtub, I'm willing she
should learn by experience, same 's we've had to do before her."

Mrs. North's eyes were moist and shining. "It's what you've been putting
by for years, mother," she whispered, "for----"

"Hush!" said grandma. "I guess when it comes right down to it I'm full
as foolish as Lizzie. Once I set foot in the golden streets I know I
sha'n't mind whether I leave a marble monument in the cemetery or not;
and you don't need to either, daughter. Now remember!"

Upon this hushed conversation entered Elizabeth in a flutter of
excitement and rosy pleasure over a letter which the postman had just
handed her. "It is from Evelyn Tripp," she said, "and she wants me to
come to Boston and stay a week with her; she says she will help me pick
out all my dresses, and I'd better have my wedding dress and my
going-away gown made there, anyway. Isn't that lovely?"

Then, as she met her mother's dubious gaze, "You know Malvina Bennett
hasn't a particle of style; and we don't know anything about the best
places to buy things in Boston; or the dressmakers, or anything."

"I've shopped in Boston for years," said Mrs. North, with a show of
firmness, "and I'm sure everything at Cooper's gives perfect
satisfaction."

"Oh, _Cooper's_?" laughed the girl. "Why, mother, _dear_, nobody goes to
Cooper's nowadays. It's just for country people from out of town."

"What are we, I'd like to know?" Grandma Carroll wanted to know, with a
humorous twinkle in her shrewd eyes. "I shouldn't wonder if you'd better
do your shopping with your mother, Lizzie; her judgment would likely be
quite as good as that Tipp girl's, and more in a line with what you can
afford. You should remember that Samuel isn't a rich man, and you'll
need good, substantial dresses that'll last. I remember I had a blue
Russell-cord poplin when I was married that I wore for _fifteen years_;
then I made it over for your mother, and she looked as pretty as a pink
in it for two more; then she outgrew it and I gave it away; but the
cloth in it was as good as new. A dress like that _pays_!"

Elizabeth laughed somewhat impatiently. "I've heard about that wonderful
poplin ever since I can remember," she said. "I wonder you didn't save
it for me. But I don't want to buy any dresses that will last for
fifteen years. I'm sure Sam can buy me more dresses when I want them. I
may go to Boston; mayn't I, mother?"

Mrs. North looked wistfully at the pretty, eager face. She had looked
forward with pleasure--somewhat tempered, it is true, by the knowledge
of her meagre resources, yet still with pleasure--to the choosing of her
daughter's wedding gown, with all its dainty accessories of tulle and
lace. "I had thought of a silk muslin," she said rather faintly, "or
perhaps a cream satin--if you'd like it better, dear, and----"

"I shouldn't like either of those," said the girl decidedly, "and
there's so much to do that it will really save time if you don't have to
bother with any of that; Evelyn (it was Evelyn and Elizabeth now) says
chiffon over liberty satin would be lovely if I can't afford the lace.
Of course I wouldn't buy a _cheap lace_."

That night when Dr. North came home he tossed a handful of bills into
his daughter's lap. "For the wedding gown, Bess," he said; "worse luck
that you want one!"

"Oh, why do you say that, you darling daddy?" murmured the girl, "when
I'm going to be so happy!" She was radiantly happy now, it appeared,
and the doctor's keen eyes grew moist as he looked at her.

"Guess I was thinking about myself principally," he confessed gruffly,
"and about your mother. We're going to be lonesome; and I--don't like to
think of it."

The girl's bright face clouded. "The boys will be at home summers," she
said, "and I'll come back to--visit often, you know. I sha'n't be far
away, daddy." She clung to him for a minute without a word, a faint
realisation of the irrevocable change so near at hand sweeping over her.

"Of course you _will_, Betsey Jane!" vociferated the doctor, affecting a
vast jocularity for the purpose of concealing his feelings, which
threatened to become unmanageable. "If you don't show up in Innisfield
about once in so often I'll come to Boston with my bag and give that
young robber a dose that will make his hair curl."

The next day the bride-elect journeyed to Boston carrying what appeared
to her a small fortune in her little hand-bag. "You've all been so
good!" she said. "I can just buy everything I need with all this."

Evelyn Tripp met Elizabeth in South Station with open arms. "How well
you are looking, you _darling_!" she exclaimed effusively. "Now if we
can only keep those roses through all the shopping and dressmaking. It
is so exhausting; but I've everything planned for you down to the last
frill, and Madame Pryse has at last consented to make your gowns! If you
_knew_ what I've been through with that woman! She simply will _not_
take a new customer; but when I mentioned the fact that you were to
marry a nephew of Mrs. Mortimer Van Duser she _finally_ capitulated. I
could have _embraced_ her!"

"But Sam isn't Mrs. Van Duser's nephew, Evelyn. I believe his mother was
Mrs. Van Duser's second cousin."

"Oh, well, that doesn't signify. I'm sure, I had to say something
convincing, and Mrs. Van Duser was my _dernier resort_. Pryse will do
anything for you now, you'll see, my dear! And, oh, Betty dear, when I
was in at Altford's yesterday I just chanced upon the most _wonderful_
bargain in a lace robe, and had it sent up on approval. The most
exquisite thing, and marked down from a hundred and twenty-seven dollars
to--what do you think?--only eighty-nine, fifty! I was _so_ pleased; for
I am sure it is _just_ what you want. I got samples, too, of the most
bewitching silks for your dinner gown--you must have at least _one_, you
know, a simple, pretty crêpe de chine or something of the sort; and then
with a little frock or two for luncheons and card parties, your
tailor-made--that _must_ be _good_--and your wedding gown for evening
affairs you will do nicely."

"But, Evelyn," interrupted Elizabeth timidly, "I'm afraid I can't-- You
know I didn't expect to buy but two dresses in Boston. Malvina Bennett
is making me a black silk, and----"

Miss Tripp paused to smile and bow at a passing acquaintance; then she
turned protesting eyes upon the girl. "You _dear_ child," she murmured,
"you're not to worry about a _single_ thing. That's _just_ what I mean
to spare you. I am determined you shall have just what you are going to
_need_; and if you haven't enough money with you, I can arrange
everything at Altford's without a bit of trouble; and of course you will
pay Pryse _her_ bill when it is _perfectly_ convenient for _you_. She
doesn't _expect_ to be paid promptly. Really, I don't believe she would
have a particle of respect for a patron who insisted upon paying for a
gown the minute it was finished. First-class modistes and milliners,
too, are _all_ that way; they know better than to send their bills too
soon. So _that_ needn't bother you, dear; and of course Pryse _finds_
everything, which will save enormously on your outlay."

Elizabeth felt very meek and hopelessly countrified as she laid off her
wraps in Miss Tripp's rather stuffy but ornate little apartment. Mrs.
Tripp, a faded, apologetic person smelling of rice-powder and sachet,
smiled vaguely upon her and murmured something about "Evy's wonderful
taste!"

One thing at least was clear to Elizabeth as she lay wide-eyed in the
darkness that night, after an evening spent in the confusing examination
and comparison of fashion-plates and samples, and that was the
conviction that the "fortune" with which she had joyfully set forth that
morning had dwindled to a pitiful insufficiency before the multiplied
necessities imposed upon it by Miss Tripp's undeniable taste and
knowledge.

She almost wished she had chosen to do her shopping with her mother and
Grandma Carroll, as she realised that she would be obliged to write home
for more money. But it was too late to change her mind now; and, after
all, Evelyn knew best as to what a bride about to move in polite circles
in Boston would require. She went to sleep at last and dreamed of
standing up to be married in a Russell-cord poplin (whatever that
wonderful fabric might be) which had already done duty for fifteen
years, and was "as good as new."



CHAPTER V


As the twenty-first day of June drew on apace, Fate, in the slim, active
personality of Miss Evelyn Tripp, appeared to have taken the entire
North household firmly in hand. Events marched on in orderly, if
surprising sequence, beginning with the issuing of the invitations
bearing the name of Boston's most expensive firm of engravers on the
flap of the inner envelope.

"Every one looks for that the very first thing," Miss Tripp had
announced conclusively; "and one simply _couldn't_ have the name of a
department store or a cheap engraver!" The correct Miss Tripp shuddered
at the awful picture.

"But these are so much more expensive than I had expected," demurred
Mrs. North, with a worried sigh. "I had intended ordering them at
Cooper's; they do them just as well there. Don't they sometimes leave
off the name?"

Miss Tripp bestowed a pitying smile upon the questioner. "Indeed they
do, dear Mrs. North," she replied indulgently; "but _that_ is merely a
subterfuge; one always suspects the worst when there is no name. It
_pays_ to have the _best_."

This latter undeniable dictum was found to be entirely applicable to
every detail of the forthcoming festivities, and involved such a
multiplicity of expensive items that Grandma Carroll was openly
indignant, and her more pliant daughter reduced to a state of bewildered
apathy.

"I've been wanting to say to you for a long time, Miss Phipps, that our
Lizzie isn't a fashionable girl, and that her father is a poor man and
can't afford such doings," Mrs. Carroll protested in no uncertain tones.
"Now I can't for the life of me see why we should have an organist from
Boston to play the wedding march, when Liddy Green can do it just as
well, and her feelings is going to be hurt if she doesn't; and as for a
florist from Newton Centre to decorate the church, the young folks in
the Sunday-school would be glad to go to the woods after greens, and
they'll put 'em up for nothing. It's going to cost enough, the land
knows, but there's no use of piling up unnecessary expenses."

Miss Tripp smiled winningly upon the exasperated old lady. "_Nothing_ is
too good for dear Elizabeth _now_," she murmured, "and you know, dear
Mrs. Carroll, that a number of Boston people will be here--Mrs. Van
Duser, we _hope_, and--others."

Grandma Carroll fixed piercing eyes upon the indefatigable Evelyn. "Of
course you _mean_ well," she said crisply; "but if I was you I'd take a
rest; I'm afraid you're getting all tuckered out doing so much. And
considering that you ain't any relation I guess I'd let Lizzie's own
folks 'tend to the wedding from now on."

There was no mistaking the meaning of this plain speech. For an instant
Evelyn Tripp's faded cheeks glowed with mortified colour; then she
recovered herself with a shrug of her elegant shoulders. Who, after all,
was Mrs. Carroll to interfere in this unwarranted manner?

"It is _so_ sweet of you to think of poor little me, dear Mrs. Carroll,"
she said caressingly. "And indeed I _am_ worn _almost_ to a fringe; but
I am promising myself a good, long rest after everything is over.
Nothing would induce me to leave dear Elizabeth _now_. She couldn't
possibly get along without me." She dropped a forgiving kiss on top of
Grandma Carroll's cap and flitted away before that justly indignant lady
could reply.

Miss Tripp was right. It would have been impossible for the
unsophisticated Norths to have completed the arrangements for the
entirely "correct" wedding which Miss Tripp had planned and was carrying
through in the face of unnumbered obstacles. As to the motives which
upheld her in her altruistic efforts in behalf of Elizabeth North Miss
Tripp was not entirely clear. It is not always desirable, if possible,
to classify and label one's actual motives, and Miss Tripp, for one,
rarely attempted the task. A vague emptiness of purpose, a vast
weariness of the unending routine of her own somewhat disappointing
career, a real, if superficial kindness of heart, and back of all an
entirely unacknowledged ambition to attain to that sacred inner circle
of Boston society wherein revolved the august Mrs. Mortimer Van Duser,
with other lesser luminaries, about the acknowledged "hub" of the
universe; toward which Miss Tripp had hitherto gravitated like a humble
asteroid, small, unnoticed, yet aspiring. One of the irreproachable
invitations had been duly sent to Mrs. Van Duser; but as yet there had
been no visible token that it had been received.

"_Won't_ you ask Mr. Brewster if he will not add a personal invitation?"
entreated Miss Tripp of the bride-elect, who had appeared alarmingly
indifferent when the importance of this hoped-for guest was duly set
forth in her hearing. "You don't seem to _realise_ what it would mean to
you both to have Mrs. Van Duser present. Let me persuade him to
write--or perhaps better to call; one cannot be _too_ attentive to a
person in her position."

But Sam Brewster had merely laughed and pulled the little curl behind
his sweetheart's ear when she spoke of Mrs. Van Duser. "Really, I don't
care whether the old lady comes or not," he said, without meaning any
disrespect. "She's a stiff, uncomfortable sort of person; you wouldn't
like her, Betty. I went there to dinner once, and, my word, it was
enough for me!"

"But," persisted Elizabeth, mindful of Miss Tripp's solemn exhortations,
"if she's a relation of yours, oughtn't you to----"

"She was mother's second cousin, I believe; not much of a relation to
me, you see. And seriously, little girl, we can't travel in her class at
all; and we don't want to, even if we could."

"But why?" demanded Elizabeth, slightly piqued by his tone; "don't you
think I am good enough?"

"You're a hundred times too good, in my opinion!" And the young engineer
kissed the pouting lips with an earnestness which admitted of no teasing
doubts. "It's only that Mrs. Van D. is rich and proud and--er--queer,
and that she won't take any notice of us. I'm glad you sent her an
invitation, though; that was a civil acknowledgment of a slight
obligation on my side. I hope she won't send us a present, and--I don't
believe she will."

The two were examining the bewildering array of glittering objects which
had been arriving steadily for a week past, by mail and express; in
cases left by Boston firms, and in dainty boxes tied with white ribbons
from near-by friends and neighbours. The nebulous reports of Elizabeth's
wedding outfit, circulated from mouth to mouth and expanding in rainbow
tints as they travelled, were reflected in the shining cut glass and
silver which was spread out before the wondering eyes of the young
couple.

When Aunt Miranda Carroll heard that Elizabeth's trousseau included a
dozen of everything (all hand-embroidered), a lace wedding-dress that
cost over a hundred dollars and a pale blue velvet dinner gown lined
with taffeta, she instantly abandoned the idea she had in mind of four
dozen fine cotton sheets, six dozen pillow-slips and fifty good,
substantial huck towels in favour of a cut-glass punch-bowl of gigantic
proportions. "It would be just the thing for parties in Boston," her
daughter Marian thought.

And Uncle Caleb North, at the urgent advice of his wife (who had heard
in the meantime from Aunt Miranda), exchanged his cheque for a hundred
dollars for a chest of silver knives with mother-of-pearl handles. They
looked so much richer than the cheque, which would have to be concealed
in an inconspicuous envelope. Following the shining example of Aunt
Miranda and Uncle Caleb, other relatives of lesser substance contributed
cut-glass bowls and dishes of every conceivable design and for every
known contingency; silver forks and spoons of singular shapes and sizes,
suggesting elaborate course luncheons and fashionable dinners. While of
lace-trimmed and embroidered centre-pieces and doylies there was a
plenitude which would have set forth a modest linen draper. Fragile
vases, hand-painted fans, perfume bottles, silver trifles of unimagined
uses, sofa pillows and gilt clocks crowded the tables and overflowed
onto the floor and mantelpiece.

Elizabeth surveyed the collection with sparkling eyes. "Aren't they
lovely?" she demanded, slipping her hand within her lover's arm; "and
aren't you surprised, Sam, to see how many friends we have?"

"Yes, I am--awfully surprised," acknowledged the young man. His brows
were drawn over meditative eyes as he examined a shining carving-set
with impossible ivory handles. "What are we going to do with them all?"
he propounded at length.

"Do with them? Why use them, I suppose," responded Elizabeth vaguely.
"Do see these darling little cups, all gold and roses, and these
coffee-spoons with enamelled handles--these make eight dozen
coffee-spoons, Sam!"

"Hum!" mused the unappreciative engineer. "We might set up a restaurant,
as far as coffee-spoons go."

Elizabeth was bending rapturously over a lace fan, sewn thick with
spangles. "I feel so rich with all these lovely things," she murmured.
"I never dreamed of having so many."

She made such an exquisite picture in her glowing youth amid the sparkle
and glitter of the dainty trifles that it is little wonder that Samuel
Brewster lost his usually level head for the moment. "You ought always
to have all the pretty things you want, darling," he whispered; "for you
are the prettiest and sweetest girl alive."

Later in the day the ubiquitous Miss Tripp was discovered in the act of
artfully concealing Mrs. Carroll's gift, made by her own faithful hands,
under a profusion of lace-edged doylies lately arrived from a distant
cousin. "There!" she exclaimed, with an air of relief, "those big
gingham aprons and the dish-towels and dusters did look so absurd with
all the other lovely things; they won't show now." And she planted a
silver fern-dish in the midst and surveyed the effect with her head
tilted thoughtfully. "Wasn't it _quaint_ of Mrs. Carroll to make all
those useful things? You can give them to your maid afterward; they
always expect to be found in aprons nowadays--if not frocks. Really, I
draw the line at frocks, with the wages one is obliged to pay; and I
should advise you to."

"I'm not going to have a maid," said Elizabeth. "I can cook, and I like
to."

Miss Tripp whirled about and caught the girl in her arms with an amused
laugh. "You dear, romantic child!" she cried. "Did it have the
_prettiest_ dreams about love in a cottage, and the young wife with her
sleeves rolled up cooking delicious impossibilities for a doting
husband? That's all very well, my dear; but, seriously, it won't do in a
Boston apartment-house. You won't have a minute to yourself after the
season once begins, and of course after a while you'll be expected to
entertain--quite simply, you know, a luncheon or two, with cards;
possibly a dinner; you can do it beautifully with all these lovely
things for your table. _I'll_ help you; so don't get frightened at the
idea. But _fancy_ your doing all that without a maid! You mustn't
_think_ of it! And I am sure dear Mrs. Van Duser will give you the same
advice."

The soft pink in Elizabeth's cheeks deepened to rose. "Mrs. Van Duser
isn't coming to the wedding," she said, in a faintly defiant tone.

"Oh! Did she send you----"

"She sent regrets," said Elizabeth coldly.

Miss Tripp's eyebrows expressed the profoundest disappointment. "I am so
_sorry_," she murmured, suddenly aware that she was exceedingly weary of
the North wedding. "It will _spoil everything_."

"I can't see why," returned Elizabeth with spirit, not realising that
Miss Tripp's comment applied solely to her own feelings. "It won't
prevent my being married to Sam; and Sam says he is glad she is not
coming. She must be a stiff, pokey sort of a person, and I am sure it
will be pleasanter without her. She isn't hardly any relation to Sam,
anyway, and I don't think I care to know her."

"My _dear_!" expostulated Miss Tripp, "you'll see things _very_
differently some day, I _hope_. And I am glad to say that these
relationships _do_ count in Boston, if not in other parts of the world,
and you cannot prevent people from knowing that they exist."

Like a skilful general Miss Tripp was sweeping her field clear of her
disappointment, preparatory to marshalling her forces for a new
campaign. "Did Mrs. Van Duser send cards, or did she----"

"She wrote a note--a stiff, disagreeable note."

"Would you mind showing it to me, dear?"

Elizabeth produced a thick white envelope from the little embroidered
pocket at her belt. "You may read it," she said; "then I mean to tear it
up."

Miss Tripp bent almost worshipful eyes upon the large, square sheet.
"Mrs. J. Mortimer Van Duser" (she read) "begs to convey her
acknowledgments to Dr. and Mrs. North for their invitation to the
marriage of their daughter, and regrets that she cannot be present. Mrs.
Van Duser begs to add that she will communicate further with Mr. and
Mrs. Samuel Brewster upon their arrival in Boston upon a matter of
moment to them both."

"Isn't that a disagreeable-sounding note?" demanded Elizabeth, her
pretty chin tilted at an aggressive angle. "I just know I shouldn't like
her from that letter. But I'm sure I can't think what she wants to say
to us 'upon our arrival in Boston.'"

"_My dear!_" exclaimed Miss Tripp, with a horrified stare, "what _can_
you be thinking of? That note is in the most perfect form. I am _so_
glad you showed it to me! 'Something of moment to you both,' what can it
mean but a gift--perhaps a generous cheque, and _undoubtedly_ a
reception to introduce you. My _dear_! Mrs. Van Duser is said to be
worth _millions_, and what is more, and far, _far_ better, she moves in
the most _exclusive_ society. You dear, lucky girl, I _congratulate_ you
upon the recognition you have received. _Tear it up_--indeed, you will
do nothing of the sort! I'll put it here right by this cut-glass vase,
where every one will see it."

Elizabeth pouted. "Mother didn't like it," she said, "and grandma
laughed over it, and Sam told me to forget it; I don't see why you----"

"_Because I know_," intoned Miss Tripp solemnly. "I only hope you won't
forget poor little me when you're fairly launched in Mrs. Van Duser's
set."

Elizabeth gazed reflectively at her friend. "Oh, I couldn't forget you,"
she said; "you've been so good to me. But," she added, with what Miss
Tripp mentally termed delicious naïveté, "I don't suppose we shall give
many large parties, just at first."



CHAPTER VI


"I am of the opinion," wrote the sapient Dr. Johnson, "that marriages
would in general be as happy, and often more so, if they were all made
by the Lord Chancellor, upon a due consideration of the circumstances
and characters, without the parties thereto having any choice in the
matter."

That this radical matrimonial reform did not find favour in the eyes of
his own or any succeeding generation brands it as visionary,
impracticable, not to be seriously entertained, in short, by any one not
a philosopher and not himself in love. But could the benevolent shade of
Dr. Johnson be let into the details of a fashionable modern wedding, it
is safe to predict that he might recommend a new civic function to be
administered either by the Lord Chancellor, or by some equally
responsible person for the purpose of regulating by sumptuary law the
bridal trousseau and the wedding presents. The renowned Georgian sage
could not fail to recognise the relation which these too often
unconsidered items bear to the welfare of the private citizen in
particular and to the weal of mankind in general. And who can deny that
all legislation is, or should be, centred chiefly on these very ends.

[Illustration: "Never had there been such a wedding in Innisfield"]

Such sober reflections as the above, though perhaps forming an
unavoidable background in the minds of several of the older persons
present, did not cloud the rapturous happiness of Elizabeth Carroll
North, as she paced slowly up the aisle of the Innisfield Presbyterian
church on the arm of her father, the folds of her "Pryse gown," as Miss
Tripp was careful to designate it, sweeping gracefully behind her. The
bridesmaids in pale rose-colour and the maid of honour in white; the
tiny flower-girls bearing baskets of roses; the ushers with their
boutonnières of orange buds; the waving palms and the sounding music
each represented a separate Waterloo, fought and won by the Napoleonic
Miss Tripp, who looked on, wan but self-satisfied, from a modest
position in the audience. Never had there been such a wedding in
Innisfield. Everybody said so in loud, buzzing whispers. Sadie
Buckthorn, who was engaged to Milton Scrymger, informed her mamma that
she should be married in church in October, and that her bridesmaids
should wear yellow. And Bob Garrett, a clerk in a Boston department
store, told his sweetheart that he guessed the wedding was about their
speed, and added that he knew a swell floor-walker who would look simply
great as best man.

As for the young couple chiefly concerned they might have walked on air
instead of on the roses strewed in their path by the little
flower-girls; and the hundreds of curious eyes fastened upon them were
as dim, painted eyes upon a tapestried wall. They only saw each other
and the gate of that ancient Eden of the race opening before them.

That same evening, after all was over, and when, as the village reporter
phrased it with happy originality, "the young couple had departed upon
their wedding journey amid showers of rice and roses," Dr. North sought
his tired wife, busy clearing away the tokens of the late festivities.

"Come, Lizzie," he said kindly, "we may as well get what rest we can;
to-morrow'll be another day, and we've got to go jogging on about our
middle-aged business as usual."

Mrs. North looked up at him with tearful eyes. "I can't seem to realise
that Bessie's gone to stay," she said tremulously. "I just caught myself
thinking what I'd say to her when she came home, and what we'd----"

Richard North passed his arm about the wife of his youth. "I--hope he'll
be good to her," he said, his voice shaken with feeling. "I--I believe
he's all right. If he isn't I'll--" He shrugged his broad shoulders
impatiently.

"Oh, I'm not a bit worried about _Sam_," said Mrs. North; "I know enough
about men. But, O Dick, I'm going to miss my--baby!"

He held her close for a minute while she sobbed on his shoulder; then
the two went slowly up the stairs together, leaving the disordered
rooms and the fading roses in the luminous dark of the June night.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Boston apartment to which young Samuel Brewster brought his bride in
the early part of September was of Miss Evelyn Tripp's choosing. The
engineer had demurred at its distance from his work, but Elizabeth had
said she preferred to be near Evelyn; and Evelyn said that the location,
if not strictly fashionable, was at least _near_ the people they ought
to know.

The rent was thirty-eight dollars a month. And the rooms were small,
inconvenient and old-fashioned. "But," as Miss Tripp kindly pointed out,
"if one is obliged to choose between a small, old-fashioned suite in a
really good locality and a light airy one in the unfashionable suburbs
of South Boston one _ought_ not to hesitate."

Mrs. North and Grandma Carroll had seen to putting the furnishings in
place; and when the two arrived at the close of a hot afternoon they
found everything in the exquisite order with which Elizabeth had been
happily familiar all her life.

She ran from room to room laughing and crying in the same breath. "Oh,
Sam, dear, do see, there is ice in the refrigerator and a cunning little
jar of cream and a print of butter; and here is a roast chicken and some
of grandma's rolls and one of mother's delicious lemon pies! How hard
they must have worked. I'll put on one of these big aprons, and we'll
have supper in no time!"

And Sam Brewster, as he watched his wife's pretty little figure moving
lightly about her new kitchen, heaved a mighty sigh of content. "It
seems almost too good to be true!" he murmured. "And to think it is for
always!"

It was not until they had eaten their first blissful meal together, and
had washed the dishes, also together, in the dark little kitchen--an
operation in which the young engineer covered himself with glory in his
masterly handling of the dish-towel--that Elizabeth discovered a large
square envelope, bearing the Van Duser crest, and addressed to herself.

She opened it in the circle of Sam's arms, as the two reposed on their
one small sofa in the room bearing the dignified title of reception
hall.

"Why--what in the name of common sense is she giving us?" was Sam
Brewster's startled exclamation as his quick eye took in the contents of
the sheet.

"I--I don't understand," gasped Elizabeth, growing hot and cold and
faint, "I can't think--how it could have happened."

Yet Mrs. Van Duser's words, though few, were sufficiently succinct. They
were inspired, as she afterward confided to her rector, Dr. Gallatin, by
the most altruistic sentiments of which the human heart is capable.
"Truth," Mrs. Van Duser had enunciated majestically, "never finds itself
at a loss. And in administering so just a rebuke to a young person
manifestly appointed to fill a humble station in life I feel that I am
in a measure assuming the prerogatives of Providence."

In this exalted rôle Mrs. Van Duser had written to Elizabeth North,
whose miserable, shamed eyes avoided those of her husband after she had
realised its contents. The letter enclosed a bill for one hundred and
twenty-five dollars from Madame Léonie Pryse, for the material, making
and findings for one blue velvet reception gown. There was a pencilled
note attached, to the effect that as Madame Pryse had been referred to
Mrs. Van Duser, she begged to present the bill, with the hope that it
would be settled at an early date. Mrs. Van Duser's own majestic hand
had added a brief communication, over which the young engineer scowled
fiercely. He read:

     "As Mrs. Brewster's personal expenses, either before or after her
     marriage, can have no possible interest for Mrs. Van Duser, Mrs.
     Van Duser begs to bring to Mrs. Brewster's attention the enclosed
     statement. Mrs. Van Duser wishes to inform Mrs. Brewster that she
     has taken the pains to send for the tradeswoman in question, and
     that she has elicited from her facts which seem to show an entire
     misapprehension of the commoner ethical requirements on the part of
     the person addressed.

     "Mrs. Van Duser begs to add in the interests of society at large
     and of the person in whom, as a distant relative, she has
     interested herself somewhat, that she distinctly frowns upon all
     extravagance. Mrs. Van Duser trusts that this communication, which
     she begs to assure Mrs. Brewster is penned in a spirit of Christian
     charity, will effectually prevent further errors on the part of so
     young and inexperienced a person as Mrs. Brewster appears to be."

"Well?" Samuel Brewster's blue eyes, grown unexpectedly keen and
penetrating, rested questioningly upon his bride.

"Don't look at me like that--please, Sam!" faltered Elizabeth. "I--I
didn't mean to buy that dress; truly I didn't. I had paid for all the
others, and I had twenty-seven dollars left, and Evelyn told me that
Madame Pryse had a--a remnant of blue velvet which she would make up for
me for a song. And--I--let her do it. I thought she would send the bill
to me, and I would----"

"Did she send it to you?"

"Y-yes, twice. But Evelyn said for me not to worry. She said Madame
Pryse's customers never paid her right away, and there was so much
else--just at the last, I didn't like to ask daddy; Uncle Caleb always
gives me fifty dollars for my birthday, and I thought--" Elizabeth's
voice had grown fainter as she proceeded with her halting explanations.
But she started up with a little cry, "Oh, Sam! what are you going to
do?"

For her husband was examining the bill with an expression about his
mouth which she had never seen there before. "I don't see that you have
been credited with the twenty-seven dollars," he said quietly. Then with
a sorry attempt at a smile, "These _mesdames_ appear to pile up the
items sky-high when it comes to building a gown; better have a cast-iron
contract with 'em, I should say, and pay up when the job's finished."

Elizabeth's tear-stained face was hidden on her husband's shoulder.
"I--I spent the twenty-seven dollars for--for gloves," she confessed.
"Evelyn said I didn't have enough long--ones."

"_Confound Evelyn!_" said the young man strongly. "Come, Betty, dear,
you're not to let this thing bother you, it isn't worth it. I'll pay
this bill to-morrow. It's lucky I've the money in the bank; and I'll
write to Mrs. Van D., too." He clenched his fist as though he would like
to use something more powerful than his pen.

"But, Sam, you oughtn't to--I can't let you pay--for----"

"Well, I guess I can buy my wife a dress if I want to, and that blue
velvet's a stunner. You haven't worn it yet, have you, dear? but when
you do you'll look like a posy in it. Come, sweetheart, this was a tough
proposition, I'll admit, but don't you let it bowl you over completely.
And, Betty, you won't tell the Tripp lady about it, will you?
I--er--couldn't stand for that, you know."

Elizabeth stole one look at the strong, kind face bent toward her. For
the first time, though happily not for the last, she was realising the
immense, the immeasurable comfort to be found in her husband's love.
"I'll never--do such a thing again," she quavered. "I knew all the time
I was being extravagant; but I didn't expect--I never supposed----"

"You couldn't very well have foreseen the Pryse woman's astonishing
business methods, nor Mrs. Van D.'s Christian forbearance." His tone was
bitter as he spoke the last words. "But what I can't seem to understand
is how that bill ever found its way to my esteemed sixteenth cousin."

Elizabeth's eyes overflowed again. "I'm afraid it was Evelyn," she
stammered. "She--told Madame Pryse that you--were Mrs. Van Duser's
nephew."

Sam Brewster whistled. Then he fell into a fit of revery so prolonged
that Elizabeth nestled uneasily in the strong circle of his arm. He was
reviewing the events of the immediate past in the cold light of the
present, and the result was not altogether complimentary to Miss Tripp.

"I say, little girl," he said at length, looking down at the
tear-stained face against his shoulder, "I don't want to be
disagreeable, but--er--I can't for the life of me see why Miss Tripp
should interest herself so--intimately--in our affairs. Don't you think
you might--er--discourage her a bit?"

Elizabeth sighed reminiscently. "I wouldn't hurt Evelyn's feelings for
the world," she said, "but I--I'll try."



CHAPTER VII


The very next morning as Elizabeth was engaged in putting the finishing
touches upon the arrangements of her new home, with all the keen delight
of nest-building, so strong in some women and so utterly lacking in
others, Miss Evelyn Tripp was announced, and a moment later stepped
airily from the laborious little elevator. "Oh, here you are _at last_,
you _darling_ girl!" she exclaimed, clasping and kissing Elizabeth with
_empressement_. "I knew you were expected last night--indeed, I was here
all the morning helping, but as I told your mother and that dear, quaint
grandmamma of yours, I wouldn't have intruded upon your very first
evening _for the world_! How delightfully well and pretty you are
looking, and isn't this the _sweetest_ little place? and oh! I nearly
forgot, _did_ you find Mrs. Van Duser's note? I assure you I pounced
upon _that_, and took good care to put it where you would both see it
the _very_ first thing. I don't mind confessing that I am simply
devoured with _curiosity_. _Was_ it a cheque, dear? And _is_ she going
to do something nice for you in a social way?"

Elizabeth's cheeks burned uncomfortably. "It was only a--a friendly--at
least I think--I am sure she meant it to be a friendly letter. She said
so, anyway. Sam put it in his pocket and took it away with him," she
made haste to add, forestalling the urgent appeal in Miss Tripp's
luminous gaze.

"Well, I am sure that was _most_ sweet and gracious of Mrs. Van Duser.
Didn't you find it so, my dear? So _dear_ of her to personally welcome
you to _Boston_! You'll call, of course, as soon as she returns from her
country place. She will expect it, I am sure; such women are _most_
punctilious in their code of social requirements, and you can't be _too_
careful not to offend. You'll forgive me for saying this much, won't
you, dear?"

Elizabeth was conscious of a distinct sense of displeasure as she met
Miss Tripp's anxiously solicitous eyes. "You are very good, Evelyn,"
she said, "but Sam--Mr. Brewster--thinks it will be best for us not
to--" She paused, her candid face suffused with blushes. "I'd--prefer
not to talk about Mrs. Van Duser, if you please. We don't _ever_ expect
to go and see her."

The tactful Miss Tripp looked sadly puzzled, but she felt that it would
not be the part of wisdom to press the issue for the moment. Her face
wreathed itself anew in forgiving smiles as she flitted about the little
rooms. "_Isn't_ this the most convenient, cosy little apartment?" she
twittered. "I am _so_ glad I was able to secure it for you; I assure you
I was obliged to use all of my diplomacy with the agent. And your pretty
things _do_ light up the dark corners so nicely. And speaking of corners
somehow reminds me, I have found you a _perfect treasure_ of a maid; but
you must take her at once. She's a cousin of our Marie, and has always
been employed by the best people. She was with Mrs. Paget Smythe last, I
believe. She told Marie last night that she would be willing to come to
you for only twenty dollars a month, and that's _very_ reasonable,
considering the fact that she is willing to do part of the laundry
work,--the towels, sheets and plain things, you know. _Expensive?_
Indeed it's not, dear--for _Boston_. Why, I could tell you of plenty of
people who are _glad_ to pay twenty-five and put all their laundry out.
I'd advise you to engage Annita without delay. Really, you couldn't do
better."

Elizabeth shook her head. "I mean to do my own work," she said
decidedly. "I shall want something to do while Sam is away, and why not
this when I--like it?"

"But you won't like it after a while, my poor child, when the shine is
once worn off your new pans and things, and _think_ of your hands! It's
absolutely impossible to keep one's nails in any sort of condition, and
besides the heat from the gas-range is simply _ruinous_ for the
complexion. Didn't you _know_ that? Of course you are all milk and roses
now, but how long do you suppose that will last, if you are to be
cooped up in a hot, stuffy little kitchen from morning till night?" Miss
Tripp paused dramatically, her eyes wide with sympathy and apprehension.

"But we--I am sure we oughtn't to afford to keep a maid," demurred
Elizabeth in a small, weak voice. "So please don't----"

"Oh, of course, it is nothing to me, my dear," and Miss Tripp arose with
a justly offended air. "I _thought_ I was doing you a kindness when I
asked Annita to call and see you this morning. It will be perfectly easy
for you to tell her that you don't care to engage her. But when it comes
to _affording_, _I_ think you can scarcely afford to waste your good
looks over a cooking range. It is your duty to your husband to keep
yourself young and lovely as long as you possibly can. It is only _too_
easy to lose it all, and then--" Miss Tripp concluded her remarks with a
shrug of her shapely shoulders, which aroused the too impressionable
Elizabeth to vague alarms.

"I am sure," faltered the bride of two months, "that Sam would like me
just as well even if I----"

"Of course you _think_ so, dear, every woman does till it is _too
late_," observed Miss Tripp plaintively. "I'm sure I _hope_ it will turn
out differently in your case. But I could tell you things about some of
my married friends that would-- Well, all I have to say is that _I_
never dared try it--matrimony, I mean--and if I were in your place-- But
there! I _mustn't_ meddle. I solemnly promised myself years and years
ago that I wouldn't. The trouble with me is that I love my friends _too_
fondly, and I simply cannot endure to see them making mistakes which
might _so easily_ have been avoided. I'm coming to take you out
to-morrow, and we'll lunch down town in the nicest, most inexpensive
little place. And--_dear_, if you finally decide _not_ to engage Annita,
_would_ you mind telling her that through a _slight misunderstanding_
you had secured some one else? These high-class servants are _so easily_
offended, you know, and on account of _our Marie_--a perfect
_treasure_ Oh, _thank_ you! _Au revoir_--till to-morrow!"

Perhaps it is not altogether to be wondered at that immediately after
Miss Tripp's departure Elizabeth found occasion to glance into her
mirror. Yes, she was undoubtedly prettier than ever, she decided, but
suppose it should be true about the withering heat of the gas-range; and
then there were the rose-tinted, polished nails, to which Elizabeth had
only lately begun to pay particular attention. The day's work had
already left perceptible blemishes upon their dainty perfection.
Elizabeth recalled her mother's hands, marred with constant household
labour, with a kind of terror. Her own would look the same before many
years had passed, and would Sam--_could_ he love her just the same when
the delicate beauty of which he was so fond and proud had faded? And
what, after all, was twenty dollars a month when one looked upon it as
the price of one's happiness?

Elizabeth sat down soberly with pencil and paper to contemplate the
matter arithmetically. Thirty-eight dollars for rent, and twenty
dollars for a maid, subtracted from one hundred and twenty--the latter
sum representing the young engineer's monthly salary--left an undeniable
balance of sixty-two dollars to be expended in food, clothing and other
expenses. After half an hour of careful calculation, based on what she
could remember of Innisfield prices, Elizabeth had reached very
satisfactory conclusions. Clothing would cost next to nothing--for the
first year, at least, and food for two came to a ridiculously small sum.
There appeared, in short, to be a very handsome remainder left over for
what Sam called "contingencies." This would include, of course, the
fixed amount which they had prudently resolved to lay by on the arrival
of every cheque. This much had already been settled between them. Sam
had a promising nest-egg in a Boston bank, and both had dreams of its
ultimate hatching into a house and lot, or into some comfortable
interest-bearing bonds. Elizabeth was firmly resolved to be prudent and
helpful to her husband in every possible way; but was it not her duty
to keep herself young and lovely as long as possible? The idea so
cogently presented to her attention by Miss Tripp not an hour since
appeared to have become so much her own that she did not recognise it as
borrowed property.

It was at this psychological instant that a second summons announced the
presence of a certain Annita McMurtry in the entrance hall below. "Did
Mrs. Brewster wish to see this person?"

Elizabeth hesitated for the fraction of a minute. "You may tell her to
come up," was the message that finally found its way to the hall-boy's
attentive ear.

Annita McMurtry was a neatly attired young woman, with a penetrating
black eye, a ready smile and a well-poised, not to say supercilious
bearing. In response to Elizabeth's timid questions she vouchsafed the
explanation that she could "do everything" and was prepared "to take
full charge."

"And by that you mean?"

"I mean that the lady where I work doesn't have to worry herself about
anything. I take full charge of everything--ordering, cooking, laundry
and waiting on table, and I don't mind wiping up the floors in a small
apartment like this. Window-cleaning and rugs the janitor attends to, of
course."

"When--could you come, if I--decide to engage you?" asked Elizabeth,
finding herself vaguely uncomfortable under the scrutiny of the alert
black eyes.

"If you please, madam, I'd rather speak first about wages and days out.
I'd like my alternate Thursdays and three evenings a week; and will you
be going to theatres often with supper parties after? I don't care for
that, unless I get paid extra. I left my last place on account of it; I
can't stand it to be up all hours of the night and do my work next day."

"I should think not!" returned Elizabeth, with ready sympathy. "We
should not require anything of the sort. As to wages, Miss Tripp said
you would be willing to come for twenty dollars. It seemed very high to
me for only two in the family." Elizabeth spoke in a very dignified way;
she felt that she appeared quite the experienced housekeeper in the eyes
of the maid, who was surveying her with a faint, inscrutable smile.

"I never work for a family where there is more than two," said Miss
McMurtry pointedly. "I could make my thirty-five a month easy if I
would. But Miss Tripp must have misunderstood me; twenty-two was what I
said, but you'll find I earn it. I'll come to-morrow morning about this
time, and thank you kindly, madam." The young woman arose with a proud
composure of manner, which put the finishing touch upon the interview,
and accomplished her exit with the practised ease of a society woman.

"I wonder if I ought to have done it? And what will Sam say?" Elizabeth
asked herself, ready to run undignifiedly after the girl, whose retiring
footsteps were already dying away down the corridor. But Sam was found
to be of the opinion that his Elizabeth had done exactly right. He
hadn't thought of hiring a servant, to be sure, but he ought,
manifestly, to have been reminded of his omission. It was surely not to
be expected that a man's wife should spend her time and strength toiling
over his food in a dark little den of a kitchen. No decent fellow would
stand for that sort of thing. He wanted his wife to have time to go out,
he said; to enjoy herself; to see pictures and hear music. As for the
expense, he guessed they could swing it; he was sure to get another rise
in salary before long. And much more of the same sort, all of which
proved pleasantly soothing to Elizabeth's somewhat disturbed conscience.

"I suppose Grandma Carroll would say I was a lazy girl," she sighed.

"You didn't marry Grandma Carroll, dear," Sam told her, with a humorous
twinkle in his eyes which Elizabeth thought delightfully witty.



CHAPTER VIII


Whatever the opinion of the unthinking many on the subject of honest
work as related to the happiness of the individual, there can be but one
just conclusion as to the effect of continued idleness, whether it be
illustrated in the person of the perennially tired gentleman who
frequents our back doors at certain seasons of the year, or in the
refined woman who has emptied her hands of all rightful activities.

At the end of her first week's experience with her new maid Elizabeth
found herself for the first time in her wholesome, well-ordered life at
a loss for something to do. When Miss McMurtry stated that she would
take full charge of Mrs. Brewster's ménage she meant what she said, and
Elizabeth's inexperienced efforts to play the rôle of mistress, as she
had conceived it, met with a civil but firm resistance on the part of
the maid.

"Yes, Mrs. Brewster, I had expected to wipe up the dining-room floor
this morning, after I have finished my kitchen work," she would announce
frostily, in response to Elizabeth's timid suggestion. "I have my
regular days for things, an' I don't need to be told. I've already
spoken to the janitor's boy about the rugs, an' you'll please to leave
some money with me to pay him. Just put it on the kitchen dresser." And
"No, madam, I shall not have time to make an apple-pie this morning; I
generally order pastry of the baker when it's called for. Yes, Mrs.
Brewster, those were baker's rolls you had on the breakfast-table. I
ordered the man to stop regularly. You prefer home-made bread, you say?
I'm sorry, but I never bake. It is quite unnecessary in the city."

The young woman's emphasis on the last word delicately conveyed her
knowledge of Mrs. Brewster's country origin, and her pitying disapproval
of it.

Miss Tripp, to whom Elizabeth confided her new perplexities, merely
laughed indulgently. "You mustn't interfere, if you want Annita to stay
with you," she counselled. "Just keep religiously out of your kitchen,
my dear, and everything will go on peacefully. We never think of such a
thing as dictating to Marie, and we're careful not to make too many
suggestions. Of course you don't know what a perfectly _dreadful_ time
people are having with servants here in town. My _dear_, I could tell
you things that would frighten you! Just fancy having your prettiest
_lingerie_ disappear bit by bit, and your silk stockings worn to rags,
and not _daring_ to say a word!"

"I have lost two handkerchiefs since Annita came," said Elizabeth
doubtfully.

"Oh, _handkerchiefs_, nobody expects to keep those forever. Really, do
you know when I treat myself to a half dozen new ones I conceal them
from Marie as long as I possibly can, for fear she'll decide I have too
many."

Elizabeth's artlessly inquiring gaze provoked another burst of well-bred
merriment. "You dear little innocent, you _do_ amuse me so! Don't you
see our good Marie doesn't propose to encourage me in senseless
extravagance in laundry; you see there is no telling to what lengths I
might go if left to myself, and it all takes Marie's time. No, I don't
pretend to know what she does with them all. Gives them to her
relations, perhaps. She _couldn't_ use them all, and I give her a half
dozen at Christmas every year. Why, they're all that way, and both Marie
and Annita would draw the line at one's best silk stockings, I am sure.
We think Marie _perfectly honest_; that is to say, I would trust her
with everything I have, feeling sure that she would use her discretion
in selecting for herself only the things I ought not to want any longer.
_They know_, I can tell you, and they despise parsimonious people who
try to make their old things do forever. You may as well make up your
mind to it, my dear, and when you are fortunate enough to secure a
really good, competent servant like Annita, you _mustn't_ see _too_
much."

Just why Elizabeth upon the heels of this enlightening conversation
should have elected to purchase for herself two new handkerchiefs of a
somewhat newer pattern than the ones she had lost was not entirely clear
even to herself.

There had been a new, crisp bill in her purse for a number of weeks
nestling comfortably against the twin gold pieces her father had given
her on the day of her wedding. Sam had put it there himself, and had
joked with her on her economical habits when he had found it unbroken on
what he laughingly called her next pay day. "Seriously, though, little
wife of mine, I never want you to be out of money," he had said; "if I
am cad enough to forget you mustn't hesitate to remind me. And you need
never feel obliged to tell me what you've done with it."

This wasn't the ideal arrangement for either; but neither husband nor
wife was aware of it, nor of the fact that in the small, dainty purse
which lay open between them lurked a possible danger to their common
happiness. Elizabeth had been brought up in the old-fashioned way, her
wants supplied by her careful mother, and an occasional pocket-piece by
her overworked father, who always referred to the coins transferred
from his pocket to her own as "money to buy a stick of candy with." The
sum represented by the twin gold pieces and the crisp bills appeared to
contain unlimited opportunities for enjoyment. A bunch of carnations for
the dining table and a box of bonbons excused the long stroll down
Tremont Street, during which Miss Tripp carried on the education of her
protégée on subjects urban without interruption.

"If I had only thought to stop at the bank this morning," observed Miss
Tripp regretfully, "I should simply have insisted upon your lunching
with me at Purcell's; then we might have gone to the matinée afterward;
there is the dearest, brightest little piece on now--'Mademoiselle
Rosette.' You haven't heard it? What a pity! This is the very last
matinée. Never mind, dear, I sha'n't be so thoughtless another day."

"But why shouldn't I--" began Elizabeth tardily; then with a deep blush.
"I have plenty of money with me, and I should be so happy if you would
lunch with me, and----"

"My dear, I couldn't _think_ of it! I _mustn't_ allow you to be
extravagant," demurred Miss Tripp. But in the end she yielded prettily,
and Elizabeth forthwith tasted a new pleasure, which is irresistibly
alluring to most generous women.

That evening at dinner her eyes were so bright and her laughing mouth so
red that her young husband surveyed her with new admiration. "What did
you find to amuse you to-day in this big, dull town?" he wanted to know.

"It isn't dull at all, Sam, and I've had the loveliest time with
Evelyn," she told him, and added a spirited account of the opera seen
with the unjaded eyes of the country-bred girl. "I've never had an
opportunity to go to theatres and operas before," she concluded, "and
Evelyn thinks I ought to see all the best things as a matter of
education."

"I think so too," beamed the unselfish Sam, "and I hope you'll go often
now that you have the chance."

"I may as well, I suppose, now that I have Annita," Elizabeth said.
"It's dreadfully dull here at home when you are gone. I've nothing to do
at all."

Sam pinched her pink ear gently as the two strolled away from the table.
"How does the new kitchen mechanic suit you?" he asked. The meat had
been overdone, the vegetables watery and the coffee of an indifferent
colour and flavour, he thought privately.

"Why, she seems to know exactly what to do, and when to do it,"
Elizabeth said rather discontentedly, "and she's very neat; but did you
like that custard, Sam? I thought it was horrid; I'm sure she didn't
strain it, and it was cooked too much."

"Since you put it to me so pointedly, I'm bound to confess that the
present incumbent isn't a patch on the last lady who cooked for me,"
confessed her husband, laughing at the puzzled look in her eyes.

"Oh, you mean me! I'm glad you like my cooking, Sam. I should feel
dreadfully if you didn't. But about Annita, I am afraid she won't allow
me to teach her any of the things I know; and when I said I meant to
make a sponge-cake this morning, she said she was going to use the oven.
But she wasn't, for I went out and looked afterward. Then she said right
out that she wasn't used to having ladies in her kitchen, and that it
made her nervous."

"Hum!" commented the mere man; "you'd better ask your father to
prescribe for the young person; and in the meanwhile I should frequent
'her kitchen' till she had gradually accustomed herself to the idea."

"She would leave if I did that, Sam."

"There are others."

"Not like Annita," objected Elizabeth, with the chastened air of a
three-dimensioned experience. "You've no idea of the dreadful times
people have with servants here in Boston. And, really, one oughtn't to
expect an angel to work in one's kitchen for twenty-two dollars a month;
do you think so, Sam?"

Her uplifted eyes and earnest lips and rose-tinted cheeks were so
altogether charming as she propounded this somewhat absurd question
that Sam said, "Speaking of angels puts me in mind of the fact that I
have one right in hand," and much more of the good, old-fashioned
nonsense which makes the heart beat quicker and the eyes glow and
sparkle with unreasoning joy when the heart is young.

Half an hour had passed in this agreeable manner when Elizabeth
bethought herself to ask, "What had I better do about the butcher's and
grocer's slips, Sam dear? Annita says that in all the places where she
has worked they always run bills; but if we aren't to do that----"

"And we're not, you know; we agreed about that, Elizabeth?"

"Yes, of course; but Annita brought me several when I came in to-day; I
had forgotten all about them. Do you think I ought to stay at home every
day till after the butcher and grocer and baker have been here?
Sometimes they don't call till after twelve o'clock."

This was manifestly absurd, and he said so emphatically. The result of
his subsequent cogitations was an order to Annita to leave the slips on
his desk, where they would be attended to each evening. "Mind," he said,
"I don't want Mrs. Brewster annoyed with anything of the sort."

"Indeed, sir, I can see that Mrs. Brewster has not been used to being
worrited about anything, an' no more she ought," the young woman had
replied with an air of respectful affection for her mistress which
struck Sam as being no less than admirable. It materially assisted him
in his efforts to swallow Annita's muddy coffee of a morning and her
leaden puddings at night. All this, while Elizabeth light-heartedly
entered upon what Miss Tripp was pleased to call her "first Boston
season."

There was so much to be learned, so much to be seen, so much to enjoy;
and the new gowns and hats and gloves were so exactly the thing for the
matinées, teas, card-parties and luncheons to which she found herself
asked with unlooked-for cordiality. She could hardly have been expected
to know that her open sesame to even this circle without a circle
consisted in a low-voiced allusion to the sidereally remote Mrs. Van
Duser, "a connection by marriage, my dear."

It was on a stormy afternoon in late February when Dr. North,
unannounced and disdaining the noisy little elevator, climbed the three
flights of stairs to his daughter's apartment and tapped lightly on the
corridor door. His summons was answered by an alert young woman in a
frilled cap and apron. Mrs. Brewster was giving a luncheon, she informed
him, and could see no one.

"But I am Mrs. Brewster's father, and she'll want to see me," the good
doctor had insisted, sniffing delicately at the odours of salad and
coffee which floated out to him from the gingerly opened door. "Go tell
your mistress that Dr. North is here and would like to see her."

In another minute a fashionable little figure in palest rose-colour had
thrown two pretty lace-clad arms about his neck. "Oh, you dear, old
darling daddy! why _didn't_ you let me know you were coming? Now I've
this luncheon party, with bridge after it, and I can't-- But you must
come in and wait; I'll tuck you away somewhere--in my bedroom, or----"

"I can't stay, Bess--at least not long. I've a consultation at the
hospital at three. But I'll tell you, I'll be back at five; how'll that
do? I've a message from your mother, and----"

Elizabeth shrugged her shoulders distractedly. "They won't go a minute
before six," she said; "but come then--to dinner. Be sure now!"

The doctor was hungry, he had had no lunch, and despite the warmth of
his welcome there was a perceptible chill about his aging heart as he
slowly made his way down the stairs.

"I'm afraid I'll not be able to make it," he told himself; "my train
goes at six-fifty, and--bless me! I've just time for a bite at a
restaurant before I'm due at the hospital."



CHAPTER IX


A loving letter from his daughter followed Dr. North to Innisfield. In
it Elizabeth had described her disappointment in not being able to see
more of her darling daddy. They had waited dinner for him that night,
she said, and Sam was dreadfully put out about it. "He _almost_ scolded
me for not bringing you right in. But how could I, with all those women?
You wouldn't have enjoyed it, daddy dear; I know you too well. Next
time--and I hope it will be soon--you must telephone me. We have a
'phone in our apartment now, and I'm sure I don't know how we ever lived
without it. You see I have so many engagements that even if I didn't
happen to be entertaining, I might not be at home, which would be just
as bad."

The rest of the sheet was filled with a gay description of the
automobile show, which was "really quite a function this year," and of
her success as a hostess. "Evelyn says I've made immense progress, and
she's quite proud of me."

There was a short silence as Mrs. North folded the letter and slipped it
into its envelope.

"But I don't understand why you didn't go back and take dinner with
them, as Bessie asked you to do," she said at last, in a reproachful
tone. "You ought to have made an effort, Richard."

The doctor's grizzled brows lifted humorously as he glanced across the
breakfast table at his wife's worried face. "Ought to have made an
effort--eh?" he repeated. "Well, didn't I? I wanted to see Bess the
worst way, but it seems she didn't want to see me--at least not at the
time I arrived. So I went my way, got my lunch, met Grayson at the
hospital at two-thirty, finished the operation at four, ran over to
Avery's and left an order, then----"

"But why----"

"I could have gone back to Bess then, and I wanted to; but she didn't
invite me to come till six, and I knew I must make that six-twenty
train, for I'd promised Mrs. Baxter I'd call in the evening. So you see,
my dear, I was up against it, as the boys say."

"Did she look well, Richard?" asked his wife anxiously.

"Perfectly well, I should say."

"And did she tell you when we might expect her at home for a little
visit?"

The doctor shook his head. "I didn't have a chance to ask any questions,
my dear." He arose and pushed back his chair. "Well, I must be going.
When you write to Bess tell her it's all right, and she's not to worry.
I'll take care to let her know next time I'm coming." He went out and
closed the door heavily behind him.

Grandma Carroll, who had listened to the conversation without comment,
pursed up her small, wise mouth. "That reminds me, daughter, I think I
shall go to Boston to-day," she observed briskly.

"To Boston--to-day?" echoed her daughter in surprise. "I don't believe
I can possibly get away to go with you, mother. Malvina Bennett is
coming to fix my black skirt; besides, there's the baking and----"

"You needn't to feel that you must put yourself out on my account,
Lizzie," Mrs. Carroll replied with a slightly offended air. "I am quite
capable of going to China if it was necessary. I hadn't thought to
mention it to you yesterday, but there's some shopping I want to do, so
I'll get right off on the morning train."

"Will you have time to get around to see Bessie?"

"I'll make time," said grandma trenchantly. "I want to see what she's
doing with my own eyes. I don't know what _you_ think about her not
asking her father in to her table, but I know what _I_ think."

"Oh, mother, I hope you won't----"

"You needn't to worry a mite about what I'll say or do, I shan't be
hasty; but I mistrust that Sipp woman is leading Lizzie into
extravagance and foolishness, and I mean to find out. I shall probably
stay all night, and maybe all day to-morrow."

"But it might not be convenient for Bessie," hesitated Mrs. North, "you
know what she said about telephoning; I guess I'd better let her know
you're coming."

"Hump!" ejaculated grandma, "it wasn't always convenient for me to be up
nights with her when she had whooping-cough and measles, but I did it
just the same. I don't want you should telephone, daughter. I don't know
just when I shall get around to Lizzie's house; when I do, I'll stay
till I get ready to come home, you can depend upon that, if all the
folks in Boston are there a-visiting. I'll go right in and visit with
them. I'm going to take my best silk dress and my point lace collar, so
I guess I'll be full as dressy as any of 'em."

Mrs. North sighed apprehensively, but in the end she saw Mrs. Carroll
onto the train with a wondering sense of relief. "Mother always did know
how to manage Bessie better than I did," she told herself vaguely.

When Mrs. Carroll arrived at her destination the whistles were
proclaiming the hour of noon. "I'm just in time for dinner, I guess,"
she observed cheerfully to the elevator boy, who grinned his
appreciation. But there was no token of occupancy about the Brewster
apartment when Mrs. Carroll rapped smartly upon the door.

"The missis is out," volunteered the boy, who had lingered to watch the
progress of the pink-cheeked, smiling old lady; "but the girl's there. I
seen her go in not fifteen minutes ago."

Thus encouraged Mrs. Carroll repeated her summons. After what seemed a
second interminable silence the door opened, disclosing an alert
presence in an immaculate cap and apron.

"How do you do?" said grandma pleasantly. "This boy here says Mrs.
Brewster isn't at home; but I'll come in and wait till she does. I'm her
grandmother, Mrs. Carroll; you've probably heard her speak of me, and I
guess you're the girl she tells about in her letters sometimes. You've
got a pretty name, my dear, and you look real neat and clean. Now if
you'll just take my bag, it's pretty heavy, and----"

Annita had not taken her beady black eyes off the little presence. "I
never let strangers in when Mrs. Brewster's not at home," she said
stolidly. "It ain't to be expected that I should. I guess you'll have to
come again, about four this afternoon, maybe."

"I like to see a hired girl careful and watchful," said grandma
approvingly, "but if you look in the photograph album I gave my
grandaughter Lizzie, on her sixteenth birthday, you'll see my picture on
the front page, and that'll relieve you of all responsibility." She
pushed determinedly past the astonished Annita, and was laying off her
bonnet in the front room before that young person could collect her
forces for a second protest.

"So your mistress isn't coming home for dinner?" Mrs. Carroll's voice
full of kindly inflections pursued Miss McMurtry to her final
stronghold. "My! I'd forgotten what a small kitchen this was. Dark,
isn't it? I'm afraid that's what makes you look so pale. Now if you'll
just make me a cup of tea--or let me do it if you're busy; I'm used to
waiting on myself. I suppose I'll find the tea-caddy in here."

"You--let--my place alone--you!" hissed Annita, livid with rage, as
Grandma Carroll laid her hand on the door of the cupboard. But she was
too late; the open door disclosed a large frosted cake, a heap of
delicately browned rolls and a roasted chicken.

"Well, well! your cooking looks very nice indeed. I suppose you're
expecting company; but if you can spare me one of those tasty rolls I
shall make out nicely with the tea. Be sure and have it hot, my dear."
And grandma pattered gently back into the dining-room, smiling wisely to
herself.

Just how many of Miss McMurtry's plans went awry that afternoon it would
be hard to say. At three o'clock, when a mysterious black-robed elderly
person carrying a capacious basket came up in the elevator she was met
in the corridor by a white-visaged fury in a frilled cap and apron, who
implored her distractedly to go away.

"An' phwat for should I go away; ain't the things ready as usual?"
demanded the lady with the basket. "I'd like me cup o' tea, too; I'm
that tired an' cold."

Miss McMurtry almost wept on the maternal shoulder. "I've got a lovely
chicken," she whispered, "an' a cake, besides the rolls you was hungry
for, an' the groceries; but her gran'mother, bad luck to her, come this
mornin' from the country, an' she's helpin' me _clean my kitchen_."

"Phwat for 'd you let her into your kitchen?" demanded the elder
McMurtry indignantly. "I'm surprised at ye, Annie."

"I didn't let her in, she walked right out and poked her nose into me
cupboard without so much as sayin' by your leave. I think I'll be
leavin' my place; I won't wait t' be trowed out by her." Miss McMurtry's
tone was bitter. "They ain't much anyway. I'd rather go where there was
more to do with."

"Right you are, Annie, my girl, I've towld you that same many's the
time. But if you're leavin' the night be sure--" The woman's voice
dropped to a hissing whisper.

"I'll do it sure, and maybe--" The girl's black eyes gleamed wickedly as
she caught the creak and rattle of the ascending elevator "--I can do
better than what you said in the end. It's safe enough with the likes o'
them. They're easy."

At six o'clock in fluttered Elizabeth, a vision of elegant femininity in
her soft furs and plumes and trailing skirts. Darling grandmamma was
kissed and embraced quite in the latest fashion, and the two sat down
cosily to visit while Annita set the table for dinner with stony
composure.

"I've been here since noon," said grandma, complacently, "and I've been
putting in my time helping your hired girl clean her cupboards."

"What! Annita? You've been helping Annita?"

"Why, yes; I didn't have anything else to do, and the cupboards
certainly did need cleaning. Seems to me, Lizzie, you keep a big stock
of all sorts of groceries on hand for so small a family as yours."

"Do we?" asked Elizabeth, yawning daintily. "I'm sure I don't know what
we have. Annita is perfectly competent to attend to everything in the
kitchen, and I never interfere. She doesn't like it, and so why should
I."

"What are you paying for butter this winter?" grandma wanted to know,
after a thoughtful pause.

"I'm sure I don't know, the usual price, I suppose. Sam attends to the
bills. He looks them over every night when he comes home, and gives
Annita the money to pay them with."

"Hum!" commented grandma, surveying her granddaughter keenly over the
top of her spectacles; "that's a new way to keep house, seems to me."

"It's a nice way, I know that," laughed Elizabeth.

She had changed subtly from the shy, undeveloped girl who had left
Innisfield less than a year ago into a luxuriance of bloom and beauty
which astonished the older woman. There was an air of poise, of
elegance, of assured dignity about her slender figure which fitted her
as did her gown.

"It must be easy, certainly," agreed Mrs. Carroll, sniffing delicately,
after a well-remembered fashion.

Elizabeth laughed and shrugged her shoulders in a way she had caught
from Evelyn Tripp. "Now you know you are dying to lecture me, grandma,"
she said caressingly; "but you see, dear, that things are decidedly
different here in Boston, and-- But here comes Sam; he'll be so glad to
see you."

Mrs. Carroll was very cheerful and chatty with the young people that
evening. She told them all the Innisfield news in her most spirited
fashion, and never once by word or look expressed her growing
disapproval of what her shrewd old eyes were telling her.

Miss McMurtry, who stood with her ear glued to the crack of the door for
a long half hour, finally retired with a contemptuous toss of her black
head. Then, the coast being clear, she found opportunity to convey to
their destination the comestibles dutifully provided for maternal
consumption. "She's full as easy as the young one for all her meddlin'
ways," said Miss McMurtry, "an' she'll be leavin' in the mornin', so
there'll be no back talk comin' from her."

But for once Annita was mistaken in her premises. Mrs. Carroll, it is
true, made no immediate reference to the disclosures afforded by her
daring invasion of the kitchen fastnesses, nor did she even remotely
allude to the probable date of her departure for Innisfield.

"I don't want you should make company of me, Lizzie," she said
pleasantly, "or put yourself out a mite. I'll just join right in and do
whatever you're planning to do."

Elizabeth puckered her pretty forehead perplexedly; she was thinking
that Grandma Carroll's unannounced visit would necessitate the hasty
giving up of a gay luncheon and theatre party planned for that very
afternoon. Tears of vexation sparkled in her brown eyes, as she took
down the telephone receiver.

Mrs. Carroll listened to the one-sided conversation which followed
without visible discomfiture. "Now that's too bad," she observed
sympathetically. "Why didn't you tell me you wanted to go, and I'd have
eaten my lunch right here at home. There's plenty of cooked victuals in
your kitchen pantry; I saw 'em yesterday whilst I was out helping
around. I suppose your hired girl cooked that roast chicken and the
layer-cake and the rolls for Samuel's noonings. I hope you'll see to it,
Lizzie, that he takes a good, tasty lunch to work every day. But of
course you do."

Elizabeth stared. "Why, grandma," she said, "Sam doesn't carry his lunch
like a common workman. He eats it at a restaurant in South Boston."

"Hum!" mused Mrs. Carroll, "I wonder if he gets anything fit to eat
there? Samuel appears to have gone off in his weight considerable since
I saw him last," she added, shaking her head wisely. "He needs a
gentian tonic, I should say, or--something."

"You're mistaken, grandma," Elizabeth said, with an air of offended
wifely dignity. "Sam isn't the least bit ill. Of course he works hard,
but I should be the first to notice it if there was anything the matter
with my husband."

"Care killed a cat," quoted grandma sententiously, "and you appear to be
pretty much occupied with other things. Home ought to come first, my
dear; I hope you aren't forgetting that."

Elizabeth's pretty face was a study; she bit her lip to keep back the
petulant words that trembled on her tongue. "Evelyn is coming, grandma,"
she said hurriedly, "and please don't--discuss things before her."

Miss Tripp was unaffectedly surprised and, as she declared, "_charmed_"
to see dear Mrs. Carroll in Boston. "I didn't suppose," she said, "that
you ever _could_ bring yourself to leave dear, quiet Innisfield."

Mrs. Carroll, on her part, exhibited a smiling blandness of demeanour
which served as an incentive to the lively, if somewhat one-sided
conversation which followed; a shrewd question now and then on the part
of Mrs. Carroll eliciting numerous facts all bearing on the varied
social activities of "_dear_ Elizabeth."

"I'm positively looking forward to Lent," sighed Miss Tripp; "for really
I'm _worn_ to a _fringe_, but dear Elizabeth never seems tired, no
matter how many engagements she has. It is a perfect _delight_ to look
at her, isn't it, dear Mrs. Carroll?"

"Lizzie certainly does look healthy," admitted the smiling old lady,
"but it beats me how she finds time to look after her husband and her
hired girl with so many parties."

The result of Mrs. Carroll's subsequent observations and conclusions
were summed up in the few trenchant remarks addressed to her
granddaughter the following day, as she was tying on her bonnet
preparatory to taking the train for Innisfield.

"I hope you'll come again soon, grandma," Elizabeth said dutifully.

"I mistrust you don't mean that, Lizzie," replied Mrs. Carroll, facing
about and gazing keenly at the young matron, "and I may as well say that
I'm not likely to interfere with your plans often. I like my own bed and
my own rocking-chair too well to be going about the country much. But I
couldn't make out from what your father said just what the matter was."

Elizabeth shrugged her shoulders with a pretty air of forbearance. "I
was awfully sorry about daddy," she murmured; "but I don't see how I
could have done anything else under the circumstances."

"Well, _I_ do," said Grandma Carroll severely. She buttoned her gloves
energetically as she went on in no uncertain tones. "I've always been a
great believer in everybody minding their own business, but there's
times when a little plain speech won't hurt anybody. Things aren't going
right in your house, Lizzie; I can see that without half looking. _I
warn you to keep an eye on your kitchen pantry._ I mistrust there's a
leak there."

"I trust Annita perfectly," said Elizabeth, her round chin tilted
aggressively. "And I'm sure I ought to know by this time."

"I agree with you there, Lizzie, you ought to know, but you don't. That
girl is carrying things out of your kitchen as fast as the grocer and
the butcher can bring them in; I don't think you can afford to let her
spend your husband's money as she pleases, and that is what it amounts
to the way you're managing now."

"But grandma," protested Elizabeth, "Sam looks over every one of the
bills himself before he pays them."

"It isn't your husband's place to do your work and his own too, my
dear."

Elizabeth hung her head, her face flaming with angry colour.

"You've been brought up to be a sensible, industrious, economical
woman," pursued Mrs. Carroll earnestly; "but from what that Tipp girl
said yesterday, I should imagine you'd taken leave of your senses. What
does Samuel say to your spending so much money and being out so
constant?"

"He--he likes to have me have a good time."

"Well, I'll lose my guess if _he's_ having one," said grandma pointedly.
"Samuel looked worried to death last night when Terita brought him the
bills. And I took notice he didn't eat scarcely anything at dinner. For
that matter, I didn't myself; there wasn't a thing on the table cooked
properly. Now, Lizzie, I've said my say, and I'm going." She kissed her
granddaughter heartily. "Take time to think it over, child, and mind you
don't tell the Fripp girl what I've said. She could talk a bird off a
bush without a bit of trouble."

"I wonder if everybody gets as queer and unreasonable as grandma when
they are old," mused Elizabeth, as she picked her way daintily through
the sloppy streets. "I'm sure I hope I sha'n't. Of course Sam is all
right. I guess he'd tell me the very first thing if he wasn't."

Nevertheless, Mrs. Carroll's significant words had left an unpleasant
echo in her mind which haunted her at intervals all day. Under its
influence she made a bold incursion into her kitchen, after a luncheon
of chipped beef, dry toast and indifferent baker's cake.

"Have we any cold chicken, Annita?" she asked hesitatingly. "I--that is,
I am expecting a few friends this afternoon, and I thought----"

Miss McMurtry faced about and eyed her mistress with lowering brows.
"There ain't any chicken in the place, Mrs. Brewster," she said stonily;
"an' as I ain't in the habit of havin' parties sprung on me unbeknownst,
I'll be leaving at the end of my month, which is to-morrow--_if_ you
please."

Elizabeth's new-found dignity enabled her to face the woman's angry
looks without visible discomfiture. "Very well, Annita," she said
quietly. "Perhaps that will be best for both of us."



CHAPTER X


Elizabeth greeted her husband that night with a speculative anxiety in
her eyes born of the uncomfortable misgivings which had haunted her
during the day. And when after dinner he dropped asleep over his evening
paper she perceived with a sharp pang of apprehension that his face was
thinner than she had ever seen it, that his healthy colour had paled
somewhat, and that hitherto unnoticed lines had begun to show themselves
about his mouth and eyes.

She reached for his hand which hung idly by his side, and the light
touch awakened him. "Oh, Sam," she began, "Grandma Carroll insisted upon
it that you were looking ill, and I wanted to see if you had any fever;
working over there in that unhealthy part of town, you might have caught
something."

"Who told you it was unhealthy?" he wanted to know. "It really isn't at
all, little girl, and you're not to worry about me--or anything."

At just what point in his career Samuel Brewster had acquired the
Quixotic idea that a woman, and particularly a young and beautiful
woman, should not be allowed to taste the smallest drop of the world's
bitterness he could not have explained. But the notion, albeit a
mistaken one, was as much a part of himself as the blue of his steadfast
eyes or the bronzy brown of his crisp locks.

"You're not," he repeated positively, "to give yourself the slightest
anxiety about me. I never felt better in my life." And he smiled
determinedly.

"But, Sam dear, I shall be obliged to worry if you are going to be ill,
or if--" a misty light breaking in upon her confused thoughts, "you are
keeping anything from me that I ought to know. I've been thinking about
it all day, and I've been wondering if--" she lowered her voice
cautiously--"Annita is perfectly reliable. I've always thought so till
to-day. Anyway, she's going to leave to-morrow, and you'll be obliged
to go back to my cooking for a while, till I can get some one else."

The somewhat vague explanations which followed called for an examination
of grocer's and butcher's accounts; and the two heads were bent so
closely over the parti-coloured slips that neither heard the hasty
preparations for departure going on in the rear.

"It looks to me as if our domestic had been spoiling the Egyptians,"
hazarded Sam, after half an hour of unsatisfactory work. "But I really
don't know how much meat, groceries and stuff we ought to be using."

"I might have found out," murmured Elizabeth contritely. "I've just gone
on enjoying myself like a child, and--and I'm afraid I've spent too much
money. I haven't kept any count."

Her husband glanced at her pretty worried face with a frown of
perplexity and annoyance between his honest eyes. "The fact is, Betty,"
he burst out, "a poor man has no business to marry and make a woman
uncomfortable and unhappy. You haven't spent but a trifle, dear, and
all on the simplest, most innocent pleasures; yet it does count up so
confoundedly. I wanted you to have a good time, dear, and I
couldn't--bear--" He dropped into a chair and thrust his hands deep into
his pockets.

"Then we _have_ been spending too much on--contingencies; why didn't you
tell me before?"

He bit his lip. "We've spent nearly every dollar of our reserve, Betty,"
he said slowly, "and this month I'm afraid--I don't see how I am going
to meet all of the bills."

"Oh, Sam!" gasped Elizabeth, turning pale.

A voice from the softly opened kitchen door broke in upon, this crucial
conversation. "You'll please to excuse me, Mrs. Brewster, but I've had
word that my mother is sick, an' I'll have to be leaving at once. My
month's up in the morning anyway, an' I hope you'll not mind paying me
my wages to-night."

Her lip curled scornfully as she glanced at the tradesmen's slips
scattered on the table. Miss McMurtry openly despised people who, as
she expressed it, were always "trying to save a copper cent on their
meat and groceries." She herself felt quite above such economies. One
could always change one's place, and being somewhat versed in common
law, she felt reasonably secure in such small pecadilloes as she had
seen fit to commit while in the employ of the Brewsters.

"I should like to ask you a few questions first about these accounts,"
said the inexperienced head of the house sternly. "How does it happen
that you ordered fifteen pounds of sugar, seven pounds of butter and two
of coffee last week? Surely Mrs. Brewster and I never consumed such an
amount of provisions as I see we have paid for."

Miss McMurtry's elbows vibrated slightly. "I only ordered what was
needed, sir," she replied in a high, shrill voice. "Sure, you told me
yourself not to bother the madame."

"I did tell you that, I know. I thought you were to be trusted, but this
doesn't look like it."

A fearsome change came over the countenance of the respectable young
person in the frilled apron. "Are you meaning to insinooate that _I_
took them groceries?" she demanded fiercely. "I'll ask you to prove that
same. Prove it, I say! It's a lie, an' I'd be willin' to swear to it in
a court of justice. That's what comes of me workin' for poor folks that
can't pay their bills!" Miss McMurtry swung about on her heels and
included Elizabeth in the lightning of her gaze. "I come here to
accomydate her, thinkin' she was a perfec' lady, an' I've slaved night
an' day in her kitchen a-tryin' my best to please her, an' this is what
I gets for it! But you can't take my character away that easy; I've the
best of references; an' I'll trouble you for my wages--if you can pay
'em. If not, there's ways I can collect 'em."

"Pay her, Sam, and let her go, do!" begged Elizabeth in a frightened
whisper.

"I ought not to pay the girl, I'm sure of that; but to save you further
annoyance, my dear--" He counted out twenty-two dollars, and pushed the
little pile of bills across the table. "Take it," he said peremptorily,
"and go."

The two gazed at each other in silence while the loud trampling
footsteps of the erstwhile gentle and noiseless Annita sounded in the
rear. Then, when a violent and expressive bang of the kitchen door
announced the fact that their domestic had finally shaken off the dust
of her departure against them, Elizabeth burst into a relieved laugh.
She came presently and perched on her husband's knee.

"Sam, dear," she murmured, "it is all my fault, every bit of it. No;
don't contradict me--nor interrupt--please! We can't afford to go on
this way, and we're not going to. We'll begin over again, just as we
meant to before I--" she paused while a flood of shamed colour swept
over her drooped face "--tried to be fashionable. It isn't really so
very much fun to go to card-parties and teas and luncheons, and I don't
care a bit about it all, especially if--if it is going to cost us too
much; and I--can see that it has already."

All her little newly acquired graces and affectations dropped away as
she spoke, and her husband saw the sweet, womanly soul he had loved and
longed for in the beginning looking out of her brown eyes. He kissed her
thankfully, almost solemnly. "Dear Betty," he whispered.

"Couldn't we--go away from this place?" she went on after a while. "It
isn't very pleasant, is it? and--I'm almost ashamed to say it--but
Evelyn Tripp has such a way of making things look different to one. What
she says sounds so--so _sensible_ that I can't--at least I haven't done
as I intended in hardly anything."

"There's a little red cottage to let, with a pocket-handkerchief lawn in
front and room for a garden behind, not half a mile from where we are
working," Sam told her, "but I haven't mentioned it because it's a long
way to Tremont Street and--Evelyn." His blue eyes were full of the
laughing light she had missed vaguely for more weeks than she cared to
remember.

"Let's engage it to-morrow!" exclaimed Elizabeth. "Why, Sam dear, we
could have roses and strawberries and all sorts of fun out there!"

When, after missing her friend for several days, Miss Tripp called at
the Brewster apartment she was astonished beyond measure to find her
dearest Elizabeth busy packing some last trifles, while several brawny
men were engaged in taking away the furniture.

"_My dear!_" she exclaimed. "What _are_ you doing?"

"We're moving," said Elizabeth tranquilly. "You know I never cared
particularly for this apartment, the rooms are so dark and unpleasant;
besides the rent is too high for us."

"But _where_----"

"I was just going to tell you; we've taken a little house away over near
the new water-works." Then as Miss Tripp's eyebrows and shoulders
expressed a surprise bordering on distraction, "I felt that it would be
better for us both to be nearer Sam's work. He can come home to luncheon
now, and I--we shall like that immensely."

"But you're going _out of the world_; do you _realise_ that, my dear?
And _just_ as you were beginning to be known, too; and when I've tried
so hard to--" Miss Tripp's voice broke, and she touched her eyelids
delicately with her handkerchief. "Oh, _why_ didn't you consult _me_
before taking such an irrevocable step? I'm sure I could have persuaded
you to change your mind."

Elizabeth opened her lips to reply; then she hesitated at sight of
Evelyn's wan face, whereon the lavishly applied rice powder failed to
conceal the traces of the multiplied fatigues and disappointments of a
purely artificial life.

"You'll be glad you didn't try to make me change my mind when you see
our house," she said gaily. "It has all been painted and papered, and
everything about the place is as fresh and sunny and delightful as this
place is dark and dingy and disagreeable. Only think, Evelyn, there is a
real fireplace in the living room, where we are going to burn real wood
of an evening, and the bay-window in the dining-room looks out on a
grass-plot bordered with rose-bushes!"

"But the neighbourhood, dear!" wailed Evelyn. "Only think what a social
Sahara you are going into!"

"I don't know about that," Elizabeth told her calmly. "Several of the
engineers who are working with Sam live near with their families, and
Sam thinks we are going to enjoy it immensely. He is so glad we are
going."

Evelyn had folded her hands in her lap and sat looking hopelessly about
the dismantled rooms. "You don't seem to think about me, Betty," she
said, after a while. "I--I am going to miss you terribly." Tears shone
in her faded eyes and her voice trembled.

Elizabeth's warm heart was touched. "You've been very good to me,
Evelyn," she said. "I shall never forget all that I've--learned from
you. But we're really not going out of the world, and you shall come and
see us whenever you will, and bye and bye we shall have strawberries and
roses to offer you."



CHAPTER XI


The roses on the tiny lawn of which Sam had spoken were in full bud, and
Elizabeth was searching eagerly for the first streak of pink in the
infant blossoms when she was surprised by the sight of an imposing
equipage drawing up at the curb. The fat black horses pawed the gravel
disdainfully, shaking their jingling harness, as the liveried footman
dismounted from his perch and approached the mistress of the house.

"I beg pawdon, miss," he said loftily; "but can you tell me
where--aw--Mrs. Samuel Brewster lives?"

"I am Mrs. Brewster." Elizabeth told him.

Whereupon the man presented a card with an air of haughty humility.

Elizabeth's wondering eyes uprose from its perusal to the vision of a
tall, stout lady attired in purple broadcloth who was being assisted
from the carriage. The hot colour flamed over her fair face, and for an
instant she was tempted to run into the house and hide herself and the
neat checked gingham gown she was wearing. Then she gripped her courage
with both hands and came forward smiling determinedly.

The august personage in purple paused at sight of the slender,
blue-frocked figure, and raising a gold-mounted lorgnette to her eyes
deliberately inspected it. "You are--Samuel Brewster's wife?" she asked.

"Yes, Mrs. Van Duser." Elizabeth's voice trembled in spite of herself,
but her eyes were calmly bright. "Won't you come in?" she added
politely.

The lady breathed somewhat heavily as she mounted the vine-wreathed
porch. "I will sit down here," she announced magisterially; "the air is
pleasant in the country."

Elizabeth's brief experience in Boston society came to her assistance,
enabling her to reply suitably to this undeniable statement of fact.
Then an awesome silence ensued, broken only by the bold chirp of an
unabashed robin successfully hunting worms in the grass-plot.

"Where is your husband?" suddenly propounded the visitor.

"Mr. Brewster is engaged in making a topographical map for the city; I
do not know exactly where he is this afternoon," replied Elizabeth, her
colour paling, then rising as she recalled the too well-remembered words
of Mrs. Van Duser's late communication. "Did you wish to see him?"

Mrs. Van Duser was apparently engaged in a severe inspection of the
adventurous robin. She did not at once reply.

Elizabeth looked down at the toe of her shabby little shoe. "Sam--comes
home to lunch now," she faltered. "I--he hasn't been gone long."

"Ah!" intoned Mrs. Van Duser, majestically transferring her attention
from the daring robin to Elizabeth's crimson face.

"Samuel has neglected to call upon me since his return to Boston," was
Mrs. Van Duser's next remark, delivered in an awe-inspiring contralto;
"though it is evident that he owes me an acknowledgment of his present
good fortune."

Elizabeth fixed round eyes of astonishment upon her visitor. "I can't
think what you mean," she exclaimed unguardedly.

"And yet I find you here, in this sylvan spot, far removed from the
follies and temptations of your former position, and--I
trust--prospering in a modest way."

"Thank you," murmured Elizabeth, pink with indignation, "we are getting
on very well."

"What rent do you pay?"

Elizabeth looked about rather wildly, as if searching for a way of
escape. The robin had swallowed his latest find with an air of huge
satisfaction, and now flew away with a ringing summons to his mate. "We
pay thirty dollars, Mrs. Van Duser," she said slowly, "by the month."

"Um! Why don't you buy the place?"

"I don't think--I'm sure we--couldn't--" hesitated Elizabeth.

"You are wrong," said Mrs. Van Duser, again raising her lorgnette to her
eyes; "if you can afford to pay three hundred and sixty dollars in rent
you can afford to own a home, and you should do so. Tell Samuel I said
so."

"Yes, Mrs. Van Duser," murmured Elizabeth in a depressed monotone.

"Do you keep a maid?"

"No, Mrs. Van Duser, I do my own housework." Elizabeth's brown eyes
sparkled defiantly as she added, "I was brought up to work, and I like
to do it."

Mrs. Van Duser's large solemn countenance relaxed into a smile as she
gazed into the ingenuous young face at her side.

"Ah, my dear," she sighed, "I envy you your happiness, though I had it
myself once upon a time. I don't often speak of those days, but John Van
Duser was a poor man when I married him, and we lived in a little house
not unlike this, and I did the cooking. Do you think you could give me a
cup of tea, my dear?"

When Samuel Brewster came home from his work at an unexpectedly early
hour that afternoon he was astonished to find an imposing coupé, drawn
by two fat, shining horses, being driven slowly up and down before his
door; and further, as he entered the house, by the cheerful sound of
clinking silver and china and low-voiced conversation. Elizabeth,
pink-cheeked and smiling, met him with an exclamation of happy surprise.

"I am so glad you came home, Sam dear," she said. "Mrs. Van Duser was
hoping to see you before she went."

And Mrs. Van Duser, looking very much at home and very comfortable
indeed in Sam's own big wicker chair, proffered him a large white
jewelled hand, while she bade him give an account of himself quite in
the tone of an affectionate relative.

"You have a charming and sensible wife, Samuel, and a well-conducted
home," said the great lady. "I have seen the whole house, cellar,
kitchen and all," she added with a reminiscent sigh, "and it has carried
me back to the happiest days I ever spent."

The young engineer passed his arm about his Elizabeth's shoulders as the
two stood at the gate watching the stately departure of the Van Duser
equipage. "Well, Betty," he said, "so the mountain came to Mahomet? But
the mountain doesn't seem such a bad sort, after all. I liked the way
she kissed you good-bye, though I should never have guessed she was
capable of it."

Elizabeth drew a deep breath. "I never was so frightened in my life as
when she first came," she confessed. "But she is kind, Sam, in her way,
though at first I thought it wasn't a pleasant way. And O, Sam dear, she
thinks we gave up our flat and came out here just because she wrote us
that letter; she was as complacent as could be when she spoke of it."

"Did you undeceive her?"

"N-no, dear, I didn't even try. Perhaps it was the letter--partly, and
anyway I felt sure I couldn't make her think any differently whatever I
might say. But I did tell her about Annita and about how thoughtless and
selfish I was, and----"

"Did you tell her about the Tripp lady?" he suggested teasingly.

"No," she said gravely. "Evelyn meant to be kind, too; I am sure of
that."

"O benevolent Betty!" he exclaimed with mock gravity. "O most sapient
Elizabeth! I perceive that in gaining a new friend thou hast not lost an
old one! I suppose from now on you will begin to model your small self
on the Van Duser pattern. My lady will see to it that you do, if you see
much of her."

Elizabeth looked up at her tall husband, her brown eyes brimming with
thoughtful light. "It is good to have friends," she said slowly; "but,
Sam dear, we must never allow any--_friend_ to come between us again. We
must live our own lives, and solve our own problems, even if we make an
occasional blunder doing it."

"We've solved our problems already," he said confidently, "and I'm not
afraid of the blunders, thanks to the dearest and best little wife a man
ever had."

And Elizabeth smiled back at him, knowing in her wiser woman's heart
that there were yet many problems to be solved, but not fearful of what
the future would bring in the light of his loving eyes.





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