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´╗┐Title: The Conquest of Canaan
Author: Tarkington, Booth, 1869-1946
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Conquest of Canaan" ***

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THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN


BY

BOOTH TARKINGTON



   To
  L.F.T.


CONTENTS

CHAPTER

     I.  ENTER CHORUS
    II.  A RESCUE
   III.  OLD HOPES
    IV.  THE DISASTER
     V.  BEAVER BEACH
    VI.  "YE'LL TAK' THE HIGH ROAD AND I'LL TAK' THE LOW ROAD"
   VII.  GIVE A DOG A BAD NAME
  VIII.  A BAD PENNY TURNS UP
    IX.  OUTER DARKNESS
     X.  THE TRYST
    XI.  WHEN HALF-GODS GO
   XII.  TO REMAIN ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE IS NOT ALWAYS A VICTORY
  XIII.  THE WATCHER AND THE WARDEN
   XIV.  WHITE ROSES IN A LAW-OFFICE
    XV.  HAPPY FEAR GIVES HIMSELF UP
   XVI.  THE TWO CANAANS
  XVII.  MR. SHEEHAN'S HINTS
 XVIII.  IN THE HEAT OF THE DAY
   XIX.  ESKEW ARP
    XX.  THREE ARE ENLISTED
   XXI.  NORBERT WAITS FOR JOE
  XXII.  MR. SHEEHAN SPEAKS
 XXIII.  JOE WALKS ACROSS THE COURT-HOUSE YARD
  XXIV.  MARTIN PIKE KEEPS AN ENGAGEMENT
   XXV.  THE JURY COMES IN
  XXVI.  "ANCIENT OF DAYS"



THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN



I

ENTER CHORUS

A dry snow had fallen steadily throughout the still night, so that when
a cold, upper wind cleared the sky gloriously in the morning the
incongruous Indiana town shone in a white harmony--roof, ledge, and
earth as evenly covered as by moonlight.  There was no thaw; only where
the line of factories followed the big bend of the frozen river, their
distant chimneys like exclamation points on a blank page, was there a
first threat against the supreme whiteness.  The wind passed quickly
and on high; the shouting of the school-children had ceased at nine
o'clock with pitiful suddenness; no sleigh-bells laughed out on the
air; and the muffling of the thoroughfares wrought an unaccustomed
peace like that of Sunday. This was the phenomenon which afforded the
opening of the morning debate of the sages in the wide windows of the
"National House."

Only such unfortunates as have so far failed to visit Canaan do not
know that the "National House" is on the Main Street side of the
Court-house Square, and has the advantage of being within two minutes'
walk of the railroad station, which is in plain sight of the
windows--an inestimable benefit to the conversation of the aged men who
occupied these windows on this white morning, even as they were wont in
summer to hold against all comers the cane-seated chairs on the
pavement outside.  Thence, as trains came and went, they commanded the
city gates, and, seeking motives and adding to the stock of history,
narrowly observed and examined into all who entered or departed.  Their
habit was not singular.  He who would foolishly tax the sages of Canaan
with a bucolic light-mindedness must first walk in Piccadilly in early
June, stroll down the Corso in Rome before Ash Wednesday, or regard
those windows of Fifth Avenue whose curtains are withdrawn of a winter
Sunday; for in each of these great streets, wherever the windows, not
of trade, are widest, his eyes must behold wise men, like to those of
Canaan, executing always their same purpose.

The difference is in favor of Canaan; the "National House" was the
club, but the perusal of traveller or passer by was here only the spume
blown before a stately ship of thought; and you might hear the sages
comparing the Koran with the speeches of Robert J. Ingersoll.

In the days of board sidewalks, "mail-time" had meant a precise moment
for Canaan, and even now, many years after the first postman, it
remained somewhat definite to the aged men; for, out of deference to a
pleasant, olden custom, and perhaps partly for an excuse to "get down
to the hotel" (which was not altogether in favor with the elderly
ladies), most of them retained their antique boxes in the post-office,
happily in the next building.

In this connection it may be written that a subscription clerk in the
office of the Chicago Daily Standard, having noted a single subscriber
from Canaan, was, a fortnight later, pleased to receive, by one mail,
nine subscriptions from that promising town.  If one brought nine
others in a fortnight, thought he, what would nine bring in a month?
Amazingly, they brought nothing, and the rest was silence.  Here was a
matter of intricate diplomacy never to come within that youth his ken.
The morning voyage to the post-office, long mocked as a fable and
screen by the families of the sages, had grown so difficult to
accomplish for one of them, Colonel Flitcroft (Colonel in the war with
Mexico), that he had been put to it, indeed, to foot the firing-line
against his wife (a lady of celebrated determination and hale-voiced at
seventy), and to defend the rental of a box which had sheltered but
three missives in four years. Desperation is often inspiration; the
Colonel brilliantly subscribed for the Standard, forgetting to give his
house address, and it took the others just thirteen days to wring his
secret from him.  Then the Standard served for all.

Mail-time had come to mean that bright hour when they all got their
feet on the brass rod which protected the sills of the two big windows,
with the steam-radiators sizzling like kettles against the side wall.
Mr. Jonas Tabor, who had sold his hardware business magnificently (not
magnificently for his nephew, the purchaser) some ten years before, was
usually, in spite of the fact that he remained a bachelor at
seventy-nine, the last to settle down with the others, though often the
first to reach the hotel, which he always entered by a side door,
because he did not believe in the treating system. And it was Mr. Eskew
Arp, only seventy-five, but already a thoroughly capable cynic, who,
almost invariably "opened the argument," and it was he who discovered
the sinister intention behind the weather of this particular morning.
Mr. Arp had not begun life so sourly: as a youth he had been proud of
his given name, which had come to him through his mother's family, who
had made it honorable, but many years of explanations that Eskew did
not indicate his initials had lowered his opinion of the intelligence
and morality of the race.

The malevolence of his voice and manner this morning, therefore, when
he shook his finger at the town beyond the windows, and exclaimed, with
a bitter laugh, "Look at it!" was no surprise to his companions.  "Jest
look at it!  I tell you the devil is mighty smart.  Ha, ha!  Mighty
smart!"

Through custom it was the duty of Squire Buckalew (Justice of the Peace
in '59) to be the first to take up Mr. Arp.  The others looked to him
for it.  Therefore, he asked, sharply:

"What's the devil got to do with snow?"

"Everything to do with it, sir," Mr. Arp retorted.  "It's plain as day
to anybody with eyes and sense."

"Then I wish you'd p'int it out," said Buckalew, "if you've got either."

"By the Almighty, Squire"--Mr. Arp turned in his chair with sudden
heat--"if I'd lived as long as you--"

"You have," interrupted the other, stung. "Twelve years ago!"

"If I'd lived as long as you," Mr. Arp repeated, unwincingly, in a
louder voice, "and had follered Satan's trail as long as you have, and
yet couldn't recognize it when I see it, I'd git converted and vote
Prohibitionist."

"_I_ don't see it," interjected Uncle Joe Davey, in his querulous
voice.  (He was the patriarch of them all.)  "_I_ can't find no
cloven-hoof-prints in the snow."

"All over it, sir!" cried the cynic.  "All over it! Old Satan loves
tricks like this.  Here's a town that's jest one squirmin' mass of lies
and envy and vice and wickedness and corruption--"

"Hold on!" exclaimed Colonel Flitcroft.  "That's a slander upon our
hearths and our government. Why, when I was in the Council--"

"It wasn't a bit worse then," Mr. Arp returned, unreasonably.  "Jest
you look how the devil fools us. He drops down this here virgin mantle
on Canaan and makes it look as good as you pretend you think it is: as
good as the Sunday-school room of a country church--though THAT"--he
went off on a tangent, venomously--"is generally only another whited
sepulchre, and the superintendent's mighty apt to have a bottle of
whiskey hid behind the organ, and--"

"Look here, Eskew," said Jonas Tabor, "that's got nothin' to do with--"

"Why ain't it?  Answer me!" cried Mr. Arp, continuing, without pause:
"Why ain't it?  Can't you wait till I git through?  You listen to me,
and when I'm ready I'll listen to--"

"See here," began the Colonel, making himself heard over three others,
"I want to ask you--"

"No, sir!" Mr. Arp pounded the floor irascibly with his hickory stick.
"Don't you ask me anything! How can you tell that I'm not going to
answer your question without your asking it, till I've got through?
You listen first.  I say, here's a town of nearly thirty thousand
inhabitants, every last one of 'em--men, women, and children--selfish
and cowardly and sinful, if you could see their innermost natures; a
town of the ugliest and worst built houses in the world, and governed
by a lot of saloon-keepers--though I hope it 'll never git down to
where the ministers can run it.  And the devil comes along, and in one
night--why, all you got to do is LOOK at it!  You'd think we needn't
ever trouble to make it better.  That's what the devil wants us to
do--wants us to rest easy about it, and paints it up to look like a
heaven of peace and purity and sanctified spirits.  Snowfall like this
would of made Lot turn the angel out-of-doors and say that the old home
was good enough for him.  Gomorrah would of looked like a Puritan
village--though I'll bet my last dollar that there was a lot, and a
WHOLE lot, that's never been told about Puritan villages.  A lot that--"

"WHAT never was?" interrupted Mr. Peter Bradbury, whose granddaughter
had lately announced her discovery that the Bradburys were descended
from Miles Standish.  "What wasn't told about Puritan villages?"

"Can't you wait?" Mr. Arp's accents were those of pain.  "Haven't I got
ANY right to present my side of the case?  Ain't we restrained enough
to allow of free speech here?  How can we ever git anywhere in an
argument like this, unless we let one man talk at a time?  How--"

"Go on with your statement," said Uncle Joe Davey, impatiently.

Mr. Arp's grievance was increased.  "Now listen to YOU!  How many more
interruptions are comin'? I'll listen to the other side, but I've got
to state mine first, haven't I?  If I don't make my point clear, what's
the use of the argument? Argumentation is only the comparison of two
sides of a question, and you have to see what the first side IS before
you can compare it with the other one, don't you?  Are you all agreed
to that?"

"Yes, yes," said the Colonel.  "Go ahead.  We won't interrupt until
you're through."

"Very well," resumed Mr. Arp, with a fleeting expression of
satisfaction, "as I said before, I wish to--as I said--" He paused, in
some confusion.  "As I said, argumentation is--that is, I say--"  He
stopped again, utterly at sea, having talked himself so far out of his
course that he was unable to recall either his sailing port or his
destination.  Finally he said, feebly, to save the confession, "Well,
go on with your side of it."

This generosity was for a moment disconcerting; however, the quietest
of the party took up the opposition--Roger Tabor, a very thin, old man
with a clean-shaven face, almost as white as his hair, and melancholy,
gentle, gray eyes, very unlike those of his brother Jonas, which were
dark and sharp and button-bright.  (It was to Roger's son that Jonas
had so magnificently sold the hardware business.)  Roger was known in
Canaan as "the artist"; there had never been another of his profession
in the place, and the town knew not the word "painter," except in
application to the useful artisan who is subject to lead-poisoning.
There was no indication of his profession in the attire of Mr. Tabor,
unless the too apparent age of his black felt hat and a neat patch at
the elbow of his shiny, old brown overcoat might have been taken as
symbols of the sacrifice to his muse which his life had been.  He was
not a constant attendant of the conclave, and when he came it was
usually to listen; indeed, he spoke so seldom that at the sound of his
voice they all turned to him with some surprise.

"I suppose," he began, "that Eskew means the devil is behind all
beautiful things."

"Ugly ones, too," said Mr. Arp, with a start of recollection.  "And I
wish to state--"

"Not now!" Colonel Flitcroft turned upon him violently.  "You've
already stated it."

"Then, if he is behind the ugly things, too," said Roger, "we must take
him either way, so let us be glad of the beauty for its own sake.
Eskew says this is a wicked town.  It may be--I don't know. He says
it's badly built; perhaps it is; but it doesn't seem to me that it's
ugly in itself.  I don't know what its real self is, because it wears
so many aspects.  God keeps painting it all the time, and never shows
me twice the same picture; not even two snowfalls are just alike, nor
the days that follow them; no more than two misty sunsets are
alike--for the color and even the form of the town you call ugly are a
matter of the season of the year and of the time of day and of the
light and air.  The ugly town is like an endless gallery which you can
walk through, from year-end to year-end, never seeing the same canvas
twice, no matter how much you may want to--and there's the pathos of
it.  Isn't it the same with people with the characters of all of us,
just as it is with our faces?  No face remains the same for two
successive days--"

"It don't?" Colonel Flitcroft interrupted, with an explosive and rueful
incredulity.  "Well, I'd like to--"  Second thoughts came to him almost
immediately, and, as much out of gallantry as through discretion,
fearing that he might be taken as thinking of one at home, he relapsed
into silence.

Not so with the others.  It was as if a firecracker had been dropped
into a sleeping poultry-yard.  Least of all could Mr. Arp contain
himself. At the top of his voice, necessarily, he agreed with Roger
that faces changed, not only from day to day, and not only because of
light and air and such things, but from hour to hour, and from minute
to minute, through the hideous stimulus of hypocrisy.

The "argument" grew heated; half a dozen tidy quarrels arose; all the
sages went at it fiercely, except Roger Tabor, who stole quietly away.
The aged men were enjoying themselves thoroughly, especially those who
quarrelled.  Naturally, the frail bark of the topic which had been
launched was whirled about by too many side-currents to remain long in
sight, and soon became derelict, while the intellectual dolphins dove
and tumbled in the depths.  At the end of twenty minutes Mr. Arp
emerged upon the surface, and in his mouth was this:

"Tell me, why ain't the Church--why ain't the Church and the rest of
the believers in a future life lookin' for immortality at the other end
of life, too?  If we're immortal, we always have been; then why don't
they ever speculate on what we were before we were born?  It's because
they're too blame selfish--don't care a flapdoodle about what WAS, all
they want is to go on livin' forever."

Mr. Arp's voice had risen to an acrid triumphancy, when it suddenly
faltered, relapsed to a murmur, and then to a stricken silence, as a
tall, fat man of overpowering aspect threw open the outer door near by
and crossed the lobby to the clerk's desk.  An awe fell upon the sages
with this advent. They were hushed, and after a movement in their
chairs, with a strange effect of huddling, sat disconcerted and
attentive, like school-boys at the entrance of the master.

The personage had a big, fat, pink face and a heavily undershot jaw,
what whitish beard he wore following his double chin somewhat after the
manner displayed in the portraits of Henry the Eighth. His eyes, very
bright under puffed upper lids, were intolerant and insultingly
penetrating despite their small size.  Their irritability held a kind
of hotness, and yet the personage exuded frost, not of the weather, all
about him.  You could not imagine man or angel daring to greet this
being genially--sooner throw a kiss to Mount Pilatus!

"Mr. Brown," he said, with ponderous hostility, in a bull bass, to the
clerk--the kind of voice which would have made an express train leave
the track and go round the other way--"do you hear me?"

"Oh yes, Judge," the clerk replied, swiftly, in tones as unlike those
which he used for strange transients as a collector's voice in his
ladylove's ear is unlike that which he propels at delinquents.

"Do you see that snow?" asked the personage, threateningly.

"Yes, Judge."  Mr. Brown essayed a placating smile.  "Yes, indeed,
Judge Pike."

"Has your employer, the manager of this hotel, seen that snow?" pursued
the personage, with a gesture of unspeakable solemn menace.

"Yes, sir.  I think so.  Yes, sir."

"Do you think he fully understands that I am the proprietor of this
building?"

"Certainly, Judge, cer--"

"You will inform him that I do not intend to be discommoded by his
negligence as I pass to my offices.  Tell him from me that unless he
keeps the sidewalks in front of this hotel clear of snow I will cancel
his lease.  Their present condition is outrageous.  Do you understand
me?  Outrageous! Do you hear?"

"Yes, Judge, I do so," answered the clerk, hoarse with respect.  "I'll
see to it this minute, Judge Pike."

"You had better."  The personage turned himself about and began a grim
progress towards the door by which he had entered, his eyes fixing
themselves angrily upon the conclave at the windows.

Colonel Flitcroft essayed a smile, a faltering one.

"Fine weather, Judge Pike," he said, hopefully.

There was no response of any kind; the undershot jaw became more
intolerant.  The personage made his opinion of the group
disconcertingly plain, and the old boys understood that he knew them
for a worthless lot of senile loafers, as great a nuisance in his
building as was the snow without; and much too evident was his unspoken
threat to see that the manager cleared them out of there before long.

He nodded curtly to the only man of substance among them, Jonas Tabor,
and shut the door behind him with majestic insult.  He was Canaan's
millionaire.

He was one of those dynamic creatures who leave the haunting impression
of their wills behind them, like the tails of Bo-Peep's sheep, like the
evil dead men have done; he left his intolerant image in the ether for
a long time after he had gone, to confront and confound the aged men
and hold them in deferential and humiliated silence. Each of them was
mysteriously lowered in his own estimation, and knew that he had been
made to seem futile and foolish in the eyes of his fellows. They were
all conscious, too, that the clerk had been acutely receptive of Judge
Pike's reading of them; that he was reviving from his own squelchedness
through the later snubbing of the colonel; also that he might further
seek to recover his poise by an attack on them for cluttering up the
office.

Naturally, Jonas Tabor was the first to speak. "Judge Pike's lookin'
mighty well," he said, admiringly.

"Yes, he is," ventured Squire Buckalew, with deference; "mighty well."

"Yes, sir," echoed Peter Bradbury; "mighty well."

"He's a great man," wheezed Uncle Joe Davey; "a great man, Judge Martin
Pike; a great man!"

"I expect he has considerable on his mind," said the Colonel, who had
grown very red.  "I noticed that he hardly seemed to see us."

"Yes, sir," Mr. Bradbury corroborated, with an attempt at an amused
laugh.  "I noticed it, too. Of course a man with all his cares and
interests must git absent-minded now and then."

"Of course he does," said the colonel.  "A man with all his
responsibilities--"

"Yes, that's so," came a chorus of the brethren, finding comfort and
reassurance as their voices and spirits began to recover from the
blight.

"There's a party at the Judge's to-night," said Mr. Bradbury--"kind of
a ball Mamie Pike's givin' for the young folks.  Quite a doin's, I
hear."

"That's another thing that's ruining Canaan," Mr. Arp declared,
morosely.  "These entertainments they have nowadays.  Spend all the
money out of town--band from Indianapolis, chicken salad and darkey
waiters from Chicago!  And what I want to know is, What's this town
goin' to do about the nigger question?"

"What about it?" asked Mr. Davey, belligerently.

"What about it?" Mr. Arp mocked, fiercely. "You better say, 'What about
it?'"

"Well, what?" maintained Mr. Davey, steadfastly.

"I'll bet there ain't any less than four thousand niggers in Canaan
to-day!" Mr. Arp hammered the floor with his stick.  "Every last one of
'em criminals, and more comin' on every train."

"No such a thing," said Squire Buckalew, living up to his bounden duty.
"You look down the street.  There's the ten-forty-five comin' in now.
I'll bet you a straight five-cent Peek-a-Boo cigar there ain't ary
nigger on the whole train, except the sleepin'-car porters."

"What kind of a way to argue is that?" demanded Mr. Arp, hotly.
"Bettin' ain't proof, is it?  Besides, that's the through express from
the East.  I meant trains from the South."

"You didn't say so," retorted Buckalew, triumphantly.  "Stick to your
bet, Eskew, stick to your bet."

"My bet!" cried the outraged Eskew.  "Who offered to bet?"

"You did," replied the Squire, with perfect assurance and sincerity.
The others supported him in the heartiest spirit of on-with-the-dance,
and war and joy were unconfined.

A decrepit hack or two, a couple of old-fashioned surreys, and a few
"cut-unders" drove by, bearing the newly arrived and their valises, the
hotel omnibus depositing several commercial travellers at the door.  A
solitary figure came from the station on foot, and when it appeared
within fair range of the window, Uncle Joe Davey, who had but hovered
on the flanks of the combat, first removed his spectacles and wiped
them, as though distrusting the vision they offered him, then,
replacing them, scanned anew the approaching figure and uttered a
smothered cry.

"My Lord A'mighty!" he gasped.  "What's this?  Look there!"

They looked.  A truce came involuntarily, and they sat in paralytic
silence as the figure made its stately and sensational progress along
Main Street.

Not only the aged men were smitten.  Men shovelling snow from the
pavements stopped suddenly in their labors; two women, talking busily
on a doorstep, were stilled and remained in frozen attitudes as it
passed; a grocer's clerk, crossing the pavement, carrying a heavily
laden basket to his delivery wagon, halted half-way as the figure came
near, and then, making a pivot of his heels as it went by, behaved
towards it as does the magnetic needle to the pole.

It was that of a tall gentleman, cheerfully, though somewhat with
ennui, enduring his nineteenth winter.  His long and slender face he
wore smiling, beneath an accurately cut plaster of dark hair cornicing
his forehead, a fashion followed by many youths of that year.  This
perfect bang was shown under a round black hat whose rim was so small
as almost not to be there at all; and the head was supported by a
waxy-white sea-wall of collar, rising three inches above the blue
billows of a puffed cravat, upon which floated a large, hollow pearl.
His ulster, sporting a big cape at the shoulders, and a tasselled hood
over the cape, was of a rough Scotch cloth, patterned in faint,
gray-and-white squares the size of baggage-checks, and it was so long
that the skirts trailed in the snow.  His legs were lost in the
accurately creased, voluminous garments that were the tailors' canny
reaction from the tight trousers with which the 'Eighties had begun:
they were, in color, a palish russet, broadly striped with gray, and,
in size, surpassed the milder spirit of fashion so far as they
permitted a liberal knee action to take place almost without
superficial effect.  Upon his feet glistened long shoes, shaped, save
for the heels, like sharp racing-shells; these were partially protected
by tan-colored low gaiters with flat, shiny, brown buttons.  In one
hand the youth swung a bone-handled walking-stick, perhaps an inch and
a half in diameter, the other carried a yellow leather banjo-case, upon
the outer side of which glittered the embossed-silver initials, "E. B."
He was smoking, but walked with his head up, making use, however, of a
gait at that time new to Canaan, a seeming superbly irresponsible
lounge, engendering much motion of the shoulders, producing an effect
of carelessness combined with independence--an effect which the
innocent have been known to hail as an unconscious one.

He looked about him as he came, smilingly, with an expression of
princely amusement--as an elderly cabinet minister, say, strolling
about a village where he had spent some months in his youth, a hamlet
which he had then thought large and imposing, but which, being
revisited after years of cosmopolitan glory, appeals to his whimsy and
his pity.  The youth's glance at the court-house unmistakably said:
"Ah, I recall that odd little box. I thought it quite large in the days
before I became what I am now, and I dare say the good townsfolk still
think it an imposing structure!" With everything in sight he deigned to
be amused, especially with the old faces in the "National House"
windows.  To these he waved his stick with airy graciousness.

"My soul!" said Mr. Davey.  "It seems to know some of us!"

"Yes," agreed Mr. Arp, his voice recovered, "and _I_ know IT."

"You do?" exclaimed the Colonel.

"I do, and so do you.  It's Fanny Louden's boy, 'Gene, come home for
his Christmas holidays."

"By George! you're right," cried Flitcroft; "I recognize him now."

"But what's the matter with him?" asked Mr. Bradbury, eagerly.  "Has he
joined some patent-medicine troupe?"

"Not a bit," replied Eskew.  "He went East to college last fall."

"Do they MAKE the boys wear them clothes?" persisted Bradbury.  "Is it
some kind of uniform?"

"I don't care what it is," said Jonas Tabor.  "If I was Henry Louden I
wouldn't let him wear 'em around here."

"Oh, you wouldn't, wouldn't you, Jonas?" Mr. Arp employed the accents
of sarcasm.  "I'd like to see Henry Louden try to interfere with 'Gene
Bantry.  Fanny'd lock the old fool up in the cellar."

The lofty vision lurched out of view.

"I reckon," said the Colonel, leaning forward to see the last of it--"I
reckon Henry Louden's about the saddest case of abused step-father I
ever saw."

"It's his own fault," said Mr. Arp--"twice not havin' sense enough not
to marry.  Him with a son of his own, too!"

"Yes," assented the Colonel, "marryin' a widow with a son of her own,
and that widow Fanny!"

"Wasn't it just the same with her first husband--Bantry?" Mr. Davey
asked, not for information, as he immediately answered himself.  "You
bet it was!  Didn't she always rule the roost?  Yes, she did.  She made
a god of 'Gene from the day he was born.  Bantry's house was run for
him, like Louden's is now."

"And look," exclaimed Mr. Arp, with satisfaction, "at the way he's
turned out!"

"He ain't turned out at all yet; he's too young," said Buckalew.
"Besides, clothes don't make the man."

"Wasn't he smokin' a cigareet!" cried Eskew, triumphantly.  This was
final.

"It's a pity Henry Louden can't do something for his own son," said Mr.
Bradbury.  "Why don't he send him away to college?"

"Fanny won't let him," chuckled Mr. Arp, malevolently.  "Takes all
their spare change to keep 'Gene there in style.  I don't blame her.
'Gene certainly acts the fool, but that Joe Louden is the orneriest boy
I ever saw in an ornery world-full."

"He always was kind of misCHEEvous," admitted Buckalew.  "I don't think
he's mean, though, and it does seem kind of not just right that Joe's
father's money--Bantry didn't leave anything to speak of--has to go to
keepin' 'Gene on the fat of the land, with Joe gittin' up at half-past
four to carry papers, and him goin' on nineteen years old."

"It's all he's fit for!" exclaimed Eskew.  "He's low down, I tell ye.
Ain't it only last week Judge Pike caught him shootin' craps with
Pike's nigger driver and some other nigger hired-men in the alley back
of Pike's barn."

Mr. Schindlinger, the retired grocer, one of the silent members,
corroborated Eskew's information. "I heert dot, too," he gave forth, in
his fat voice. "He blays dominoes pooty often in der room back off
Louie Farbach's tsaloon.  I see him myself. Pooty often.  Blayin' fer a
leedle money--mit loafers!  Loafers!"

"Pretty outlook for the Loudens!" said Eskew Arp, much pleased.  "One
boy a plum fool and dressed like it, the other gone to the dogs
already!"

"What could you expect Joe to be?" retorted Squire Buckalew.  "What
chance has he ever had?  Long as I can remember Fanny's made him fetch
and carry for 'Gene.  'Gene's had everything--all the fancy clothes,
all the pocket-money, and now college!"

"You ever hear that boy Joe talk politics?" asked Uncle Joe Davey,
crossing a cough with a chuckle.  "His head's so full of schemes fer
running this town, and state, too, it's a wonder it don't bust.  Henry
Louden told me he's see Joe set around and study by the hour how to
save three million dollars for the state in two years."

"And the best he can do for himself," added Eskew, "is deliverin' the
Daily Tocsin on a second-hand Star bicycle and gamblin' with niggers
and riff-raff!  None of the nice young folks invite him to their doin's
any more."

"That's because he's got so shabby he's quit goin' with em," said
Buckalew.

"No, it ain't," snapped Mr. Arp.  "It's because he's so low down.  He's
no more 'n a town outcast.  There ain't ary one of the girls 'll have a
thing to do with him, except that rip-rarin' tom-boy next door to
Louden's; and the others don't have much to do with HER, neither, I can
tell ye. That Arie Tabor--"

Colonel Flitcroft caught him surreptitiously by the arm.  "SH, Eskew!"
he whispered.  "Look out what you're sayin'!"

"You needn't mind me," Jonas Tabor spoke up, crisply.  "I washed my
hands of all responsibility for Roger's branch of the family long ago.
Never was one of 'em had the energy or brains to make a decent livin',
beginning with Roger; not one worth his salt!  I set Roger's son up in
business, and all the return he ever made me was to go into bankruptcy
and take to drink, till he died a sot, like his wife did of shame.  I
done all I could when I handed him over my store, and I never expect to
lift a finger for 'em again.  Ariel Tabor's my grandniece, but she
didn't act like it, and you can say anything you like about her, for
what I care.  The last time I spoke to her was a year and a half ago,
and I don't reckon I'll ever trouble to again."

"How was that, Jonas?" quickly inquired Mr. Davey, who, being the
eldest of the party, was the most curious.  "What happened?"

"She was out in the street, up on that high bicycle of Joe Louden's.
He was teachin' her to ride, and she was sittin' on it like a man does.
I stopped and told her she wasn't respectable. Sixteen years old, goin'
on seventeen!"

"What did she say?"

"Laughed," said Jonas, his voice becoming louder as the recital of his
wrongs renewed their sting in his soul.  "Laughed!"

"What did you do?"

"I went up to her and told her she wasn't a decent girl, and shook the
wheel."  Mr. Tabor illustrated by seizing the lapels of Joe Davey and
shaking him.  "I told her if her grandfather had any spunk she'd git an
old-fashioned hidin' for behavin' that way.  And I shook the wheel
again." Here Mr. Tabor, forgetting in the wrath incited by the
recollection that he had not to do with an inanimate object, swung the
gasping and helpless Mr. Davey rapidly back and forth in his chair. "I
shook it good and hard!"

"What did she do then?" asked Peter Bradbury.

"Fell off on me," replied Jonas, violently.  "On purpose!"

"I wisht she'd killed ye," said Mr. Davey, in a choking voice, as,
released, he sank back in his chair.

"On purpose!" repeated Jonas.  "And smashed a straw hat I hadn't had
three months!  All to pieces!  So it couldn't be fixed!"

"And what then?" pursued Bradbury.

"SHE ran," replied Jonas, bitterly--"ran!  And Joe Louden--Joe
Louden--"  He paused and gulped.

"What did he do?" Peter leaned forward in his chair eagerly.

The narrator of the outrage gulped again, and opened and shut his mouth
before responding.

"He said if I didn't pay for a broken spoke on his wheel he'd have to
sue me!"

No one inquired if Jonas had paid, and Jonas said no more.  The
recollection of his wrongs, together with the illustrative violence
offered to Mr. Davey, had been too much for him.  He sank back,
panting, in his chair, his hands fluttering nervously over his heart,
and closed his eyes.

"I wonder why," ruminated Mr. Bradbury--"I wonder why 'Gene Bantry
walked up from the deepo.  Don't seem much like his style.  Should
think he'd of rode up in a hack."

"Sho!" said Uncle Joe Davey, his breath recovered.  "He wanted to walk
up past Judge Pike's, to see if there wasn't a show of Mamie's bein' at
the window, and give her a chance to look at that college uniform and
banjo-box and new walk of his."

Mr. Arp began to show signs of uneasiness.

"I'd like mighty well to know," he said, shifting round in his chair,
"if there's anybody here that's been able to answer the question I PUT,
yesterday, just before we went home.  You all tried to, but I didn't
hear anything I could consider anyways near even a fair argument."

"Who tried to?" asked Buckalew, sharply, sitting up straight.  "What
question?"

"What proof can you bring me," began Mr. Arp, deliberately, "that we
folks, modernly, ain't more degenerate than the ancient Romans?"



II

A RESCUE

Main Street, already muffled by the snow, added to its quietude a
frozen hush where the wonder-bearing youth pursued his course along its
white, straight way.  None was there in whom impertinence overmastered
astonishment, or who recovered from the sight in time to jeer with
effect; no "Trab's boy" gathered courage to enact in the thoroughfare a
scene of mockery and of joy.  Leaving business at a temporary
stand-still behind him, Mr. Bantry swept his long coat steadily over
the snow and soon emerged upon that part of the street where the mart
gave way to the home.  The comfortable houses stood pleasantly back
from the street, with plenty of lawn and shrubbery about them; and
often, along the picket-fences, the laden branches of small cedars,
bending low with their burden, showered the young man's swinging
shoulders glitteringly as he brushed by.

And now that expression he wore--the indulgent amusement of a man of
the world--began to disintegrate and show signs of change.  It became
finely grave, as of a high conventionality, lofty, assured, and
mannered, as he approached the Pike mansion.  (The remotest stranger
must at once perceive that the Canaan papers could not have called it
otherwise without pain.)

It was a big, smooth-stone-faced house, product of the 'Seventies,
frowning under an outrageously insistent mansard, capped by a cupola,
and staring out of long windows overtopped with "ornamental" slabs.
Two cast-iron deer, painted death-gray, twins of the same mould, stood
on opposite sides of the front walk, their backs towards it and each
other, their bodies in profile to the street, their necks bent,
however, so that they gazed upon the passer-by--yet gazed without
emotion.  Two large, calm dogs guarded the top of the steps leading to
the front-door; they also were twins and of the same interesting metal,
though honored beyond the deer by coats of black paint and shellac.  It
was to be remarked that these dogs were of no distinguishable species
or breed, yet they were unmistakably dogs; the dullest must have
recognized them as such at a glance, which was, perhaps, enough.  It
was a hideous house, important-looking, cold, yet harshly aggressive, a
house whose exterior provoked a shuddering guess of the brass
lambrequins and plush fringes within; a solid house, obviously--nay,
blatantly--the residence of the principal citizen, whom it had grown to
resemble, as is the impish habit of houses; and it sat in the middle of
its flat acre of snowy lawn like a rich, fat man enraged and sitting
straight up in bed to swear.

And yet there was one charming thing about this ugly house.  Some
workmen were enclosing a large side porch with heavy canvas, evidently
for festal purposes.  Looking out from between two strips of the canvas
was the rosy and delicate face of a pretty girl, smiling upon Eugene
Bantry as he passed.  It was an obviously pretty face, all the youth
and prettiness there for your very first glance; elaborately pretty,
like the splendid profusion of hair about and above it--amber-colored
hair, upon which so much time had been spent that a circle of large,
round curls rose above the mass of it like golden bubbles tipping a
coronet.

The girl's fingers were pressed thoughtfully against her chin as Eugene
strode into view; immediately her eyes widened and brightened.  He
swung along the fence with the handsomest appearance of
unconsciousness, until he reached a point nearly opposite her.  Then he
turned his head, as if haphazardly, and met her eyes.  At once she
threw out her hand towards him, waving him a greeting--a gesture which,
as her fingers had been near her lips, was a little like throwing a
kiss.  He crooked an elbow and with a one-two-three military movement
removed his small-brimmed hat, extended it to full arm's-length at the
shoulder-level, returned it to his head with Life-Guard precision. This
was also new to Canaan.  He was letting Mamie Pike have it all at once.

The impression was as large as he could have desired.  She remained at
the opening in the canvas and watched him until he wagged his shoulders
round the next corner and disappeared into a cross street.  As for
Eugene, he was calm with a great calm, and very red.

He had not covered a great distance, however, before his gravity was
replaced by his former smiling look of the landed gentleman amused by
the innocent pastimes of the peasants, though there was no one in sight
except a woman sweeping some snow from the front steps of a cottage,
and she, not perceiving him, retired in-doors without knowing her loss.
He had come to a thinly built part of the town, the perfect quiet of
which made the sound he heard as he opened the picket gate of his own
home all the more startling.  It was a scream--loud, frantic, and
terror-stricken.

Eugene stopped, with the gate half open.

Out of the winter skeleton of a grape-arbor at one side of the
four-square brick house a brown-faced girl of seventeen precipitated
herself through the air in the midst of a shower of torn card-board
which she threw before her as she leaped.  She lit upon her toes and
headed for the gate at top speed, pursued by a pale young man whose
thin arms strove spasmodically to reach her.  Scattering snow behind
them, hair flying, the pair sped on like two tattered branches before a
high wind; for, as they came nearer Eugene (of whom, in the tensity of
their flight, they took no note), it was to be seen that both were so
shabbily dressed as to be almost ragged.  There was a brown patch upon
the girl's faded skirt at the knee; the shortness of the garment
indicating its age to be something over three years, as well as
permitting the knowledge to become more general than befitting that her
cotton stockings had been clumsily darned in several places.  Her
pursuer was in as evil case; his trousers displayed a tendency to
fringedness at pocket and heel; his coat, blowing open as he ran, threw
pennants of torn lining to the breeze, and made it too plain that there
were but three buttons on his waistcoat.

The girl ran beautifully, but a fleeter foot was behind her, and though
she dodged and evaded like a creature of the woods, the reaching hand
fell upon the loose sleeve of her red blouse, nor fell lightly.  She
gave a wrench of frenzy; the antique fabric refused the strain; parted
at the shoulder seam so thoroughly that the whole sleeve came away--but
not to its owner's release, for she had been brought round by the jerk,
so that, agile as she had shown herself, the pursuer threw an arm about
her neck, before she could twist away, and held her.

There was a sharp struggle, as short as it was fierce.  Neither of
these extraordinary wrestlers spoke.  They fought.  Victory hung in the
balance for perhaps four seconds; then the girl was thrown heavily upon
her back, in such a turmoil of snow that she seemed to be the mere
nucleus of a white comet.  She struggled to get up, plying knee and
elbow with a very anguish of determination; but her opponent held her,
pinioned both her wrists with one hand, and with the other rubbed great
handfuls of snow into her face, sparing neither mouth nor eyes.

"You will!" he cried.  "You will tear up my pictures!  A dirty trick,
and you get washed for it!"

Half suffocated, choking, gasping, she still fought on, squirming and
kicking with such spirit that the pair of them appeared to the beholder
like figures of mist writhing in a fountain of snow.

More violence was to mar the peace of morning. Unexpectedly attacked
from the rear, the conqueror was seized by the nape of the neck and one
wrist, and jerked to his feet, simultaneously receiving a succession of
kicks from his assailant. Prompted by an entirely natural curiosity, he
essayed to turn his head to see who this might be, but a twist of his
forearm and the pressure of strong fingers under his ear constrained
him to remain as he was; therefore, abandoning resistance, and, oddly
enough, accepting without comment the indication that his captor
desired to remain for the moment incognito, he resorted calmly to
explanations.

"She tore up a picture of mine," he said, receiving the punishment
without apparent emotion. "She seemed to think because she'd drawn it
herself she had a right to."

There was a slight whimsical droop at the corner of his mouth as he
spoke, which might have been thought characteristic of him.  He was an
odd-looking boy, not ill-made, though very thin and not tall.  His
pallor was clear and even, as though constitutional; the features were
delicate, almost childlike, but they were very slightly distorted,
through nervous habit, to an expression at once wistful and humorous;
one eyebrow was a shade higher than the other, one side of the mouth
slightly drawn down; the eyelids twitched a little, habitually; the
fine, blue eyes themselves were almost comically reproachful--the look
of a puppy who thinks you would not have beaten him if you had known
what was in his heart.  All of this was in the quality of his voice,
too, as he said to his invisible captor, with an air of detachment from
any personal feeling:

"What peculiar shoes you wear!  I don't think I ever felt any so
pointed before."

The rescuing knight took no thought of offering to help the persecuted
damsel to arise; instead, he tightened his grip upon the prisoner's
neck until, perforce, water--not tears--started from the latter's eyes.

"You miserable little muff," said the conqueror, "what the devil do you
mean, making this scene on our front lawn?"

"Why, it's Eugene!" exclaimed the helpless one. "They didn't expect you
till to-night.  When did you get in?"

"Just in time to give you a lesson, my buck," replied Bantry, grimly.
"In GOOD time for that, my playful step-brother."

He began to twist the other's wrist--a treatment of bone and ligament
in the application of which school-boys and even freshmen are often
adept. Eugene made the torture acute, and was apparently enjoying the
work, when suddenly--without any manner of warning--he received an
astounding blow upon the left ear, which half stunned him for the
moment, and sent his hat flying and himself reeling, so great was the
surprise and shock of it. It was not a slap, not an open-handed push,
nothing like it, but a fierce, well-delivered blow from a clinched fist
with the shoulder behind it, and it was the girl who had given it.

"Don't you dare to touch Joe!" she cried, passionately.  "Don't you lay
a finger on him."

Furious and red, he staggered round to look at her.

"You wretched little wild-cat, what do you mean by that?" he broke out.

"Don't you touch Joe!" she panted.  "Don't you--"  Her breath caught
and there was a break in her voice as she faced him.  She could not
finish the repetition of that cry, "Don't you touch Joe!"

But there was no break in the spirit, that passion of protection which
had dealt the blow.  Both boys looked at her, something aghast.

She stood before them, trembling with rage and shivering with cold in
the sudden wind which had come up.  Her hair had fallen and blew across
her streaming face in brown witch-wisps; one of the ill-darned
stockings had come down and hung about her shoe in folds full of snow;
the arm which had lost its sleeve was bare and wet; thin as the arm of
a growing boy, it shook convulsively, and was red from shoulder to
clinched fist.  She was covered with snow.  Mists of white drift blew
across her, mercifully half veiling her.

Eugene recovered himself.  He swung round upon his heel, restored his
hat to his head with precision, picked up his stick and touched his
banjo-case with it.

"Carry that into the house," he said, indifferently, to his
step-brother.

"Don't you do it!" said the girl, hotly, between her chattering teeth.

Eugene turned towards her, wearing the sharp edge of a smile.  Not
removing his eyes from her face, he produced with deliberation a flat
silver box from a pocket, took therefrom a cigarette, replaced the box,
extracted a smaller silver box from another pocket, shook out of it a
fusee, slowly lit the cigarette--this in a splendid silence, which he
finally broke to say, languidly, but with particular distinctness:

"Ariel Tabor, go home!"

The girl's teeth stopped chattering, her lips remaining parted; she
shook the hair out of her eyes and stared at him as if she did not
understand, but Joe Louden, who had picked up the banjo-case
obediently, burst into cheerful laughter.

"That's it, 'Gene," he cried, gayly.  "That's the way to talk to her!"

"Stow it, you young cub," replied Eugene, not turning to him.  "Do you
think I'm trying to be amusing?"

"I don't know what you mean by 'stow it,'" Joe began, "but if--"

"I mean," interrupted the other, not relaxing his faintly smiling stare
at the girl--"I mean that Ariel Tabor is to go home.  Really, we can't
have this kind of thing occurring upon our front lawn!"

The flush upon her wet cheeks deepened and became dark; even her arm
grew redder as she gazed back at him.  In his eyes was patent his
complete realization of the figure she cut, of this bare arm, of the
strewn hair, of the fallen stocking, of the ragged shoulder of her
blouse, of her patched short skirt, of the whole dishevelled little
figure.  He was the master of the house, and he was sending her home as
ill-behaved children are sent home by neighbors.

The immobile, amused superiority of this proprietor of silver boxes,
this wearer of strange and brilliant garments, became slightly
intensified as he pointed to the fallen sleeve, a rag of red and snow,
lying near her feet.

"You might take that with you?" he said, interrogatively.

Her gaze had not wavered in meeting his, but at this her eyelashes
began to wink uncontrollably, her chin to tremble.  She bent over the
sleeve and picked it up, before Joe Louden, who had started towards
her, could do it for her.  Then turning, her head still bent so that
her face was hidden from both of them, she ran out of the gate.

"DO go!" Joe called after her, vehemently.  "Go! Just to show what a
fool you are to think 'Gene's in earnest."

He would have followed, but his step-brother caught him by the arm.
"Don't stop her," said Eugene.  "Can't you tell when I AM in earnest,
you bally muff!"

"I know you are," returned the other, in a low voice.  "I didn't want
her to think so for your sake."

"Thousands of thanks," said Eugene, airily. "You are a wise young
judge.  She couldn't stay--in THAT state, could she?  I sent her for
her own good."

"She could have gone in the house and your mother might have loaned her
a jacket," returned Joe, swallowing.  "You had no business to make her
go out in the street like that."

Eugene laughed.  "There isn't a soul in sight--and there, she's all
right now.  She's home."

Ariel had run along the fence until she came to the next gate, which
opened upon a walk leading to a shabby, meandering old house of one
story, with a very long, low porch, once painted white, running the
full length of the front.  Ariel sprang upon the porch and disappeared
within the house.

Joe stood looking after her, his eyelashes winking as had hers.  "You
oughtn't to have treated her that way," he said, huskily.

Eugene laughed again.  "How were YOU treating her when I came up?  You
bully her all you want to yourself, but nobody else must say even a
fatherly word to her!"

"That wasn't bullying," explained Joe.  "We fight all the time."

"Mais oui!" assented Eugene.  "I fancy!"

"What?" said the other, blankly.

"Pick up that banjo-case again and come on," commanded Mr. Bantry,
tartly.  "Where's the mater?"

Joe stared at him.  "Where's what?"

"The mater!" was the frowning reply.

"Oh yes, I know!" said Joe, looking at his step-brother curiously.
"I've seen it in stories.  She's up-stairs.  You'll be a surprise.
You're wearing lots of clothes, 'Gene."

"I suppose it will seem so to Canaan," returned the other, weariedly.
"Governor feeling fit?"

"I never saw him," Joe replied; then caught himself.  "Oh, I see what
you mean!  Yes, he's all right."

They had come into the hall, and Eugene was removing the long coat,
while his step-brother looked at him thoughtfully.

"'Gene," asked the latter, in a softened voice, "have you seen Mamie
Pike yet?"

"You will find, my young friend," responded Mr. Bantry, "if you ever go
about much outside of Canaan, that ladies' names are not supposed to be
mentioned indiscriminately."

"It's only," said Joe, "that I wanted to say that there's a dance at
their house to-night.  I suppose you'll be going?"

"Certainly.  Are you?"

Both knew that the question was needless; but Joe answered, gently:

"Oh no, of course not."  He leaned over and fumbled with one foot as if
to fasten a loose shoe-string.  "She wouldn't be very likely to ask me."

"Well, what about it?"

"Only that--that Arie Tabor's going."

"Indeed!" Eugene paused on the stairs, which he had begun to ascend.
"Very interesting."

"I thought," continued Joe, hopefully, straightening up to look at him,
"that maybe you'd dance with her.  I don't believe many will ask
her--I'm afraid they won't--and if you would, even only once, it would
kind of make up for"--he faltered--"for out there," he finished,
nodding his head in the direction of the gate.

If Eugene vouchsafed any reply, it was lost in a loud, shrill cry from
above, as a small, intensely nervous-looking woman in blue silk ran
half-way down the stairs to meet him and caught him tearfully in her
arms.

"Dear old mater!" said Eugene.

Joe went out of the front-door quickly.



III

OLD HOPES

The door which Ariel had entered opened upon a narrow hall, and down
this she ran to her own room, passing, with face averted, the entrance
to the broad, low-ceilinged chamber that had served Roger Tabor as a
studio for almost fifty years.  He was sitting there now, in a hopeless
and disconsolate attitude, with his back towards the double doors,
which were open, and had been open since their hinges had begun to give
way, when Ariel was a child.  Hearing her step, he called her name, but
did not turn; and, receiving no answer, sighed faintly as he heard her
own door close upon her.

Then, as his eyes wandered about the many canvases which leaned against
the dingy walls, he sighed again.  Usually they showed their brown
backs, but to-day he had turned them all to face outward.  Twilight,
sunset, moonlight (the Court-house in moonlight), dawn, morning, noon
(Main Street at noon), high summer, first spring, red autumn,
midwinter, all were there--illimitably detailed, worked to a smoothness
like a glaze, and all lovingly done with unthinkable labor.

And there were "Italian Flower-Sellers," damsels with careful hair, two
figures together, one blonde, the other as brunette as lampblack, the
blonde--in pink satin and blue slippers--leaning against a pillar and
smiling over the golden coins for which she had exchanged her posies;
the brunette seated at her feet, weeping upon an unsold bouquet.  There
were red-sashed "Fisher Lads" wading with butterfly-nets on their
shoulders; there was a "Tying the Ribbon on Pussy's Neck"; there were
portraits in oil and petrifactions in crayon, as hard and tight as the
purses of those who had refused to accept them, leaving them upon their
maker's hands because the likeness had failed.

After a time the old man got up, went to his easel near a window, and,
sighing again, began patiently to work upon one of these failures--a
portrait, in oil, of a savage old lady, which he was doing from a
photograph.  The expression of the mouth and the shape of the nose had
not pleased her descendants and the beneficiaries under the will, and
it was upon the images of these features that Roger labored.  He leaned
far forward, with his face close to the canvas, holding his brushes
after the Spencerian fashion, working steadily through the afternoon,
and, when the light grew dimmer, leaning closer to his canvas to see.
When it had become almost dark in the room, he lit a student-lamp with
a green-glass shade, and, placing it upon a table beside him, continued
to paint. Ariel's voice interrupted him at last.

"It's quitting-time, grandfather," she called, gently, from the doorway
behind him.

He sank back in his chair, conscious, for the first time, of how tired
he had grown.  "I suppose so," he said, "though it seemed to me that I
was just getting my hand in."  His eyes brightened for a moment.  "I
declare, I believe I've caught it a great deal better.  Come and look,
Ariel.  Doesn't it seem to you that I'm getting it?  Those pearly
shadows in the flesh--"

"I'm sure of it.  Those people ought to be very proud to have it."  She
came to him quietly, took the palette and brushes from his hands and
began to clean them, standing in the shadow behind him. "It's too good
for them."

"I wonder if it is," he said, slowly, leaning forward and curving his
hands about his eyes so as to shut off everything from his view except
the canvas.  "I wonder if it is!" he repeated.  Then his hands dropped
sadly in his lap, and he sank back again with a patient kind of
revulsion.  "No, no, it isn't!  I always think they're good when I've
just finished them.  I've been fooled that way all my life.  They don't
look the same afterwards."

"They're always beautiful," she said, softly.

"Ah, ah!" he sighed.

"Now, Roger!" she cried, with cheerful sharpness, continuing her work.

"I know," he said, with a plaintive laugh,--"I know.  Sometimes I think
that all my reward has been in the few minutes I've had just after
finishing them.  During those few minutes I seem to see in them all
that I wanted to put in them; I see it because what I've been trying to
express is still so warm in my own eyes that I seem to have got it on
the canvas where I wanted it."

"But you do," she said.  "You do get it there."

"No," he murmured, in return.  "I never did. I got out some of the old
ones when I came in this morning, some that I hadn't looked at for
years, and it's the same with them.  You can do it much better
yourself--your sketches show it."

"No, no!" she protested, quickly.

"Yes, they do; and I wondered if it was only because you were young.
But those I did when I was young are almost the same as the ones I
paint now.  I haven't learned much.  There hasn't been any one to show
me!  And you can't learn from print, never!  Yet I've grown in what I
SEE--grown so that the world is full of beauty to me that I never
dreamed of seeing when I began. But I can't paint it--I can't get it on
the canvas. Ah, I think I might have known how to, if I hadn't had to
teach myself, if I could only have seen how some of the other fellows
did their work. If I'd ever saved money to get away from Canaan--if I
could have gone away from it and come back knowing how to paint it--if
I could have got to Paris for just one month!  PARIS--for just one
month!"

"Perhaps we will; you can't tell what MAY happen." It was always her
reply to this cry of his.

"PARIS--for just one month!" he repeated, with infinite wistfulness,
and then realizing what an old, old cry it was with him, he shook his
head, impatiently sniffing out a laugh at himself, rose and went
pottering about among the canvases, returning their faces to the wall,
and railing at them mutteringly.

"Whatever took me into it, I don't know.  I might have done something
useful.  But I couldn't bring myself ever to consider doing anything
else--I couldn't bear even to think of it!  Lord forgive me, I even
tried to encourage your father to paint. Perhaps he might as well, poor
boy, as to have put all he'd made into buying Jonas out.  Ah me! There
you go, 'Flower-Girls'!  Turn your silly faces to the wall and smile
and cry there till I'm gone and somebody throws you on a bonfire.  I'LL
never look at you again."  He paused, with the canvas half turned.
"And yet," he went on, reflectively, "a man promised me thirty-five
dollars for that picture once.  I painted it to order, but he went away
before I finished it, and never answered the letters I wrote him about
it.  I wish I had the money now--perhaps we could have more than two
meals a day."

"We don't need more," said Ariel, scraping the palette attentively.
"It's healthier with only breakfast and supper.  I think I'd rather
have a new dress than dinner."

"I dare say you would," the old man mused. "You're young--you're young.
What were you doing all this afternoon, child?"

"In my room, trying to make over mamma's wedding-dress for to-night."

"To-night?"

"Mamie Pike invited me to a dance at their house."

"Very well; I'm glad you're going to be gay," he said, not seeing the
faintly bitter smile that came to her face.

"I don't think I'll be very gay," she answered.

"I don't know why I go--nobody ever asks me to dance."

"Why not?" he asked, with an old man's astonishment.

"I don't know.  Perhaps it's because I don't dress very well."  Then,
as he made a sorrowful gesture, she cut him off before he could speak.
"Oh, it isn't altogether because we're poor; it's more I don't know how
to wear what I've got, the way some girls do.  I never cared much
and--well, I'M not worrying, Roger!  And I think I've done a good deal
with mamma's dress.  It's a very grand dress.  I wonder I never thought
of wearing it until to-day.  I may be"--she laughed and blushed--"I may
be the belle of the ball--who knows!"

"You'll want me to walk over with you and come for you afterwards, I
expect."

"Only to take me.  It may be late when I come away--if a good many
SHOULD ask me to dance, for once!  Of course I could come home alone.
But Joe Louden is going to sort of hang around outside, and he'll meet
me at the gate and see me safe home."

"Oh!" he exclaimed, blankly.

"Isn't it all right?" she asked.

"I think I'd better come for you," he answered, gently.  "The truth is,
I--I think you'd better not be with Joe Louden a great deal."

"Why?"

"Well, he doesn't seem a vicious boy to me, but I'm afraid he's getting
rather a bad name, my dear."

"He's not getting one," she said, gravely.  "He's already got one.
He's had a bad name in Canaan for a long while.  It grew in the first
place out of shabbiness and mischief, but it did grow; and if people
keep on giving him a bad name the time will come when he'll live up to
it.  He's not any worse than I am, and I guess my own name isn't too
good--for a girl.  And yet, so far, there's nothing against him except
his bad name."

"I'm afraid there is," said Roger.  "It doesn't look very well for a
young man of his age to be doing no better than delivering papers."

"It gives him time to study law," she answered, quickly.  "If he
clerked all day in a store, he couldn't."

"I didn't know he was studying now.  I thought I'd heard that he was in
a lawyer's office for a few weeks last year, and was turned out for
setting fire to it with a pipe--"

"It was an accident," she interposed.

"But some pretty important papers were burned, and after that none of
the other lawyers would have him."

"He's not in an office," she admitted.  "I didn't mean that.  But he
studies a great deal.  He goes to the courts all the time they're in
session, and he's bought some books of his own."

"Well--perhaps," he assented; "but they say he gambles and drinks, and
that last week Judge Pike threatened to have him arrested for throwing
dice with some negroes behind the Judge's stable."

"What of it?  I'm about the only nice person in town that will have
anything to do with him--and nobody except you thinks I'M very nice!"

"Ariel!  Ariel!"

"I know all about his gambling with darkies," she continued, excitedly,
her voice rising, "and I know that he goes to saloons, and that he's an
intimate friend of half the riffraff in town; and I know the reason for
it, too, because he's told me.  He wants to know them, to understand
them; and he says some day they'll make him a power, and then he can
help them!"

The old man laughed helplessly.  "But I can't let him bring you home,
my dear."

She came to him slowly and laid her hands upon his shoulders.
Grandfather and granddaughter were nearly of the same height, and she
looked squarely into his eyes.  "Then you must say it is because you
want to come for me, not because I mustn't come with Joe."

"But I think it is a little because you mustn't come with Joe," he
answered, "especially from the Pikes'.  Don't you see that it mightn't
be well for Joe himself, if the Judge should happen to see him?  I
understand he warned the boy to keep away from the neighborhood
entirely or he would have him locked up for dice-throwing.  The Judge
is a very influential man, you know, and as determined in matters like
this as he is irritable."

"Oh, if you put it on that ground," the girl replied, her eyes
softening, "I think you'd better come for me yourself."

"Very well, I put it on that ground," he returned, smiling upon her.

"Then I'll send Joe word and get supper," she said, kissing him.

It was the supper-hour not only for them but everywhere in Canaan, and
the cold air of the streets bore up and down and around corners the
smell of things frying.  The dining-room windows of all the houses
threw bright patches on the snow of the side-yards; the windows of
other rooms, except those of the kitchens, were dark, for the rule of
the place was Puritanical in thrift, as in all things; and the good
housekeepers disputed every record of the meters with unhappy
gas-collectors.

There was no better housekeeper in town than Mrs. Louden, nor a
thriftier, but hers was one of the few houses in Canaan, that evening,
which showed bright lights in the front rooms while the family were at
supper.  It was proof of the agitation caused by the arrival of Eugene
that she forgot to turn out the gas in her parlor, and in the chamber
she called a library, on her way to the evening meal.

That might not have been thought a cheerful feast for Joe Louden.  The
fatted calf was upon the board, but it had not been provided for the
prodigal, who, in this case, was the brother that stayed at home: the
fete rewarded the good brother, who had been in strange lands, and the
good one had found much honor in his wanderings, as he carelessly let
it appear.  Mrs. Louden brightened inexpressibly whenever Eugene spoke
of himself, and consequently she glowed most of the time.  Her
husband--a heavy, melancholy, silent man with a grizzled beard and no
mustache--lowered at Joe throughout the meal, but appeared to take a
strange comfort in his step-son's elegance and polish.  Eugene wore new
evening clothes and was lustrous to eye and ear.

Joe escaped as soon as he could, though not before the count of his
later sins had been set before Eugene in detail, in mass, and in all of
their depth, breadth, and thickness.  His father spoke but once, after
nodding heavily to confirm all points of Mrs. Louden's recital.

"You better use any influence you've got with your brother," he said to
Eugene, "to make him come to time.  I can't do anything with him.  If
he gets in trouble, he needn't come to me!  I'll never help him again.
I'm TIRED of it!"

Eugene glanced twinklingly at the outcast.  "I didn't know he was such
a roarer as all that!" he said, lightly, not taking Joe as of enough
consequence to be treated as a sinner.

This encouraged Mrs. Louden to pathos upon the subject of her shame
before other women when Joe happened to be mentioned, and the supper
was finished with the topic.  Joe slipped away through the kitchen,
sneakingly, and climbed the back fence.  In the alley he lit a cheap
cigarette, and thrusting his hands into his pockets and shivering
violently--for he had no overcoat,--walked away singing to himself, "A
Spanish cavalier stood in his retreat," his teeth affording an
appropriate though involuntary castanet accompaniment.

His movements throughout the earlier part of that evening are of
uncertain report.  It is known that he made a partial payment of
forty-five cents at a second-hand book-store for a number of
volumes--Grindstaff on Torts and some others--which he had negotiated
on the instalment system; it is also believed that he won twenty-eight
cents playing seven-up in the little room behind Louie Farbach's bar;
but these things are of little import compared to the established fact
that at eleven o'clock he was one of the ball guests at the Pike
Mansion.  He took no active part in the festivities, nor was he one of
the dancers: his was, on the contrary, the role of a quiet observer.
He lay stretched at full length upon the floor of the enclosed porch
(one of the strips of canvas was later found to have been loosened),
wedged between the outer railing and a row of palms in green tubs.  The
position he occupied was somewhat too draughty to have been recommended
by a physician, but he commanded, between the leaves of the screening
palms, an excellent view of the room nearest the porch.  A long window,
open, afforded communication between this room, one of those used for
dancing, and the dim bower which had been made of the veranda, whither
flirtatious couples made their way between the dances.

It was not to play eavesdropper upon any of these that the uninvited
Joe had come.  He was not there to listen, and it is possible that, had
the curtains of other windows afforded him the chance to behold the
dance, he might not have risked the dangers of his present position.
He had not the slightest interest in the whispered coquetries that he
heard; he watched only to catch now and then, over the shoulders of the
dancers, a fitful glimpse of a pretty head that flitted across the
window--the amber hair of Mamie Pike.  He shivered in the draughts; and
the floor of the porch was cement, painful to elbow and knee, the space
where he lay cramped and narrow; but the golden bubbles of her hair,
the shimmer of her dainty pink dress, and the fluffy wave of her lace
scarf as she crossed and recrossed in a waltz, left him, apparently, in
no discontent.  He watched with parted lips, his pale cheeks reddening
whenever those fair glimpses were his.  At last she came out to the
veranda with Eugene and sat upon a little divan, so close to Joe that,
daring wildly in the shadow, he reached out a trembling hand and let
his fingers rest upon the end of her scarf, which had fallen from her
shoulders and touched the floor.  She sat with her back to him, as did
Eugene.

"You have changed, I think, since last summer," he heard her say,
reflectively.

"For the worse, ma cherie?" Joe's expression might have been worth
seeing when Eugene said "ma cherie," for it was known in the Louden
household that Mr. Bantry had failed to pass his examination in the
French language.

"No," she answered.  "But you have seen so much and accomplished so
much since then.  You have become so polished and so--" She paused, and
then continued, "But perhaps I'd better not say it; you might be
offended."

"No.  I want you to say it," he returned, confidently, and his
confidence was fully justified, for she said:

"Well, then, I mean that you have become so thoroughly a man of the
world.  Now I've said it! You ARE offended--aren't you?"

"Not at all, not at all," replied Mr. Bantry, preventing by a masterful
effort his pleasure from showing in his face.  "Though I suppose you
mean to imply that I'm rather wicked."

"Oh no," said Mamie, with profound admiration, "not exactly wicked."

"University life IS fast nowadays," Eugene admitted.  "It's difficult
not to be drawn into it!"

"And I suppose you look down on poor little Canaan now, and everybody
in it!"

"Oh no," he laughed, indulgently.  "Not at all, not at all!  I find it
very amusing."

"All of it?"

"Not you," he answered, becoming very grave.

"Honestly--DON'T you?"  Her young voice trembled a little.

"Honestly--indeed--truly--" Eugene leaned very close to her and the
words were barely audible.

"You KNOW I don't!"

"Then I'm--glad," she whispered, and Joe saw his step-brother touch her
hand, but she rose quickly. "There's the music," she cried, happily.
"It's a waltz, and it's YOURS!"

Joe heard her little high heels tapping gayly towards the window,
followed by the heavier tread of Eugene, but he did not watch them go.

He lay on his back, with the hand that had touched Mamie's scarf
pressed across his closed eyes.

The music of that waltz was of the old-fashioned swingingly sorrowful
sort, and it would be hard to say how long it was after that before the
boy could hear the air played without a recurrence of the bitterness of
that moment.  The rhythmical pathos of the violins was in such accord
with a faint sound of weeping which he heard near him, presently, that
for a little while he believed this sound to be part of the music and
part of himself.  Then it became more distinct, and he raised himself
on one elbow to look about.

Very close to him, sitting upon the divan in the shadow, was a girl
wearing a dress of beautiful silk. She was crying softly, her face in
her hands.



IV

THE DISASTER

Ariel had worked all the afternoon over her mother's wedding-gown, and
two hours were required by her toilet for the dance.  She curled her
hair frizzily, burning it here and there, with a slate-pencil heated
over a lamp chimney, and she placed above one ear three or four large
artificial roses, taken from an old hat of her mother's, which she had
found in a trunk in the store-room.  Possessing no slippers, she
carefully blacked and polished her shoes, which had been clumsily
resoled, and fastened into the strings of each small rosettes of red
ribbon; after which she practised swinging the train of her skirt until
she was proud of her manipulation of it.  She had no powder, but found
in her grandfather's room a lump of magnesia, that he was in the habit
of taking for heart-burn, and passed it over and over her brown face
and hands.  Then a lingering gaze into her small mirror gave her joy at
last: she yearned so hard to see herself charming that she did see
herself so.  Admiration came and she told herself that she was more
attractive to look at than she had ever been in her life, and that,
perhaps, at last she might begin to be sought for like other girls.
The little glass showed a sort of prettiness in her thin, unmatured
young face; tripping dance-tunes ran through her head, her feet keeping
the time,--ah, she did so hope to dance often that night!
Perhaps--perhaps she might be asked for every number.  And so, wrapping
an old waterproof cloak about her, she took her grandfather's arm and
sallied forth, high hopes in her beating heart.

It was in the dressing-room that the change began to come.  Alone, at
home in her own ugly little room, she had thought herself almost
beautiful, but here in the brightly lighted chamber crowded with the
other girls it was different.  There was a big cheval-glass at one end
of the room, and she faced it, when her turn came--for the mirror was
popular--with a sinking spirit.  There was the contrast, like a picture
painted and framed.  The other girls all wore their hair after the
fashion introduced to Canaan by Mamie Pike the week before, on her
return from a visit to Chicago.  None of them had "crimped" and none
had bedecked their tresses with artificial flowers.  Her alterations of
the wedding-dress had not been successful; the skirt was too short in
front and higher on one side than on the other, showing too plainly the
heavy-soled shoes, which had lost most of their polish in the walk
through the snow.  The ribbon rosettes were fully revealed, and as she
glanced at their reflection she heard the words, "LOOK AT THAT TRAIN
AND THOSE ROSETTES!" whispered behind her, and saw in the mirror two
pretty young women turn away with their handkerchiefs over their mouths
and retreat hurriedly to an alcove.  All the feet in the room except
Ariel's were in dainty kid or satin slippers of the color of the
dresses from which they glimmered out, and only Ariel wore a train.

She went away from the mirror and pretended to be busy with a hanging
thread in her sleeve.

She was singularly an alien in the chattering room, although she had
been born and lived all her life in the town.  Perhaps her position
among the young ladies may be best defined by the remark, generally
current among them, that evening, to the effect that it was "very sweet
of Mamie to invite her."  Ariel was not like the others; she was not of
them, and never had been.  Indeed, she did not know them very well.
Some of them nodded to her and gave her a word of greeting pleasantly;
all of them whispered about her with wonder and suppressed amusement;
but none talked to her.  They were not unkindly, but they were young
and eager and excited over their own interests,--which were then in the
"gentlemen's dressing-room."

Each of the other girls had been escorted by a youth of the place, and,
one by one, joining these escorts in the hall outside the door, they
descended the stairs, until only Ariel was left.  She came down alone
after the first dance had begun, and greeted her young hostess's mother
timidly.  Mrs. Pike--a small, frightened-looking woman with a prominent
ruby necklace--answered her absently, and hurried away to see that the
imported waiters did not steal anything.

Ariel sat in one of the chairs against the wall and watched the dancers
with a smile of eager and benevolent interest.  In Canaan no parents,
no guardians nor aunts, were haled forth o' nights to duenna the
junketings of youth; Mrs. Pike did not reappear, and Ariel sat
conspicuously alone; there was nothing else for her to do.  It was not
an easy matter.

When the first dance reached an end, Mamie Pike came to her for a
moment with a cheery welcome, and was immediately surrounded by a
circle of young men and women, flushed with dancing, shouting as was
their wont, laughing inexplicably over words and phrases and
unintelligible mono-syllables, as if they all belonged to a secret
society and these cries were symbols of things exquisitely humorous,
which only they understood.  Ariel laughed with them more heartily than
any other, so that she might seem to be of them and as merry as they
were, but almost immediately she found herself outside of the circle,
and presently they all whirled away into another dance, and she was
left alone again.

So she sat, no one coming near her, through several dances, trying to
maintain the smile of delighted interest upon her face, though she felt
the muscles of her face beginning to ache with their fixedness, her
eyes growing hot and glazed.  All the other girls were provided with
partners for every dance, with several young men left over, these
latter lounging hilariously together in the doorways. Ariel was careful
not to glance towards them, but she could not help hating them.  Once
or twice between the dances she saw Miss Pike speak appealingly to one
of the superfluous, glancing, at the same time, in her own direction,
and Ariel could see, too, that the appeal proved unsuccessful, until at
last Mamie approached her, leading Norbert Flitcroft, partly by the
hand, partly by will-power. Norbert was an excessively fat boy, and at
the present moment looked as patient as the blind. But he asked Ariel
if she was "engaged for the next dance," and, Mamie having flitted
away, stood disconsolately beside her, waiting for the music to begin.
Ariel was grateful for him.

"I think you must be very good-natured, Mr. Flitcroft," she said, with
an air of raillery.

"No, I'm not," he replied, plaintively.  "Everybody thinks I am because
I'm fat, and they expect me to do things they never dream of asking
anybody else to do.  I'd like to see 'em even ASK 'Gene Bantry to go
and do some of the things they get me to do!  A person isn't
good-natured just because he's fat," he concluded, morbidly, "but he
might as well be!"

"Oh, I meant good-natured," she returned, with a sprightly laugh,
"because you're willing to waltz with me."

"Oh, well," he returned, sighing, "that's all right."

The orchestra flourished into "La Paloma"; he put his arm mournfully
about her, and taking her right hand with his left, carried her arm out
to a rigid right angle, beginning to pump and balance for time.  They
made three false starts and then got away.  Ariel danced badly; she
hopped and lost the step, but they persevered, bumping against other
couples continually.  Circling breathlessly into the next room, they
passed close to a long mirror, in which Ariel saw herself, although in
a flash, more bitterly contrasted to the others than in the
cheval-glass of the dressing-room.  The clump of roses was flopping
about her neck, her crimped hair looked frowzy, and there was something
terribly wrong about her dress.  Suddenly she felt her train to be
ominously grotesque, as a thing following her in a nightmare.

A moment later she caught her partner making a burlesque face of
suffering over her shoulder, and, turning her head quickly, saw for
whose benefit he had constructed it.  Eugene Bantry, flying expertly by
with Mamie, was bestowing upon Mr. Flitcroft a condescendingly
commiserative wink. The next instant she tripped in her train and fell
to the floor at Eugene's feet, carrying her partner with her.

There was a shout of laughter.  The young hostess stopped Eugene, who
would have gone on, and he had no choice but to stoop to Ariel's
assistance.

"It seems to be a habit of mine," she said, laughing loudly.

She did not appear to see the hand he offered, but got to her feet
without help and walked quickly away with Norbert, who proceeded to
live up to the character he had given himself.

"Perhaps we had better not try it again," she laughed.

"Well, I should think not," he returned, with the frankest gloom.  With
the air of conducting her home he took her to the chair against the
wall whence he had brought her.  There his responsibility for her
seemed to cease.  "Will you excuse me?" he asked, and there was no
doubt that he felt that he had been given more than his share that
evening, even though he was fat.

"Yes, indeed."  Her laughter was continuous. "I should think you WOULD
be glad to get rid of me after that.  Ha, ha, ha!  Poor Mr. Flitcroft,
you know you are!"

It was the deadly truth, and the fat one, saying, "Well, if you'll just
excuse me now," hurried away with a step which grew lighter as the
distance from her increased.  Arrived at the haven of a far doorway, he
mopped his brow and shook his head grimly in response to frequent
rallyings.

Ariel sat through more dances, interminable dances and intermissions,
in that same chair, in which, it began to seem, she was to live out the
rest of her life.  Now and then, if she thought people were looking at
her as they passed, she broke into a laugh and nodded slightly, as if
still amused over her mishap.

After a long time she rose, and laughing cheerfully to Mr. Flitcroft,
who was standing in the doorway and replied with a wan smile, stepped
out quickly into the hall, where she almost ran into her great-uncle,
Jonas Tabor.  He was going towards the big front doors with Judge Pike,
having just come out of the latter's library, down the hall.

Jonas was breathing heavily and was shockingly pale, though his eyes
were very bright.  He turned his back upon his grandniece sharply and
went out of the door.  Ariel turned from him quite as abruptly and
re-entered the room whence she had come. She laughed again to her fat
friend as she passed him, and, still laughing, went towards the fatal
chair, when her eyes caught sight of Eugene Bantry and Mamie coming in
through the window from the porch.  Still laughing, she went to the
window and looked out; the porch seemed deserted and was faintly
illuminated by a few Japanese lanterns. She sprang out, dropped upon
the divan, and burying her face in her hands, cried heart-brokenly.
Presently she felt something alive touch her foot, and, her breath
catching with alarm, she started to rise.  A thin hand, issuing from a
shabby sleeve, had stolen out between two of the green tubs and was
pressing upon one of her shoes.

"'SH!" said Joe.  "Don't make a noise!"

His warning was not needed; she had recognized the hand and sleeve
instantly.  She dropped back with a low sound which would have been
hysterical if it had been louder, while he raised himself on his arm
until she could see his face dimly, as he peered at her between the
palms.

"What were you going on about?" he asked, angrily.

"Nothing," she answered.  "I wasn't.  You must go away, and quick.
It's too dangerous.  If the Judge found you--"

"He won't!"

"Ah, you'd risk anything to see Mamie Pike--"

"What were you crying about?" he interrupted.

"Nothing, I tell you!" she repeated, the tears not ceasing to gather in
her eyes.  "I wasn't."

"I want to know what it was," he insisted. "Didn't the fools ask you to
dance?  Ah!  You needn't tell me.  That's it.  I've been here for the
last three dances and you weren't in sight till you came to the window.
Well, what do you care about that for?"

"I don't!" she answered.  "I don't!"  Then suddenly, without being able
to prevent it, she sobbed.

"No," he said, gently, "I see you don't.  And you let yourself be a
fool because there are a lot of fools in there."

She gave way, all at once, to a gust of sorrow and bitterness; she bent
far over and caught his hand and laid it against her wet cheek.  "Oh,
Joe," she whispered, brokenly, "I think we have such hard lives, you
and I!  It doesn't seem right--while we're so young!  Why can't we be
like the others?  Why can't we have some of the fun?"

He withdrew his hand, with the embarrassment and shame he would have
felt had she been a boy. "Get out!" he said, feebly.

She did not seem to notice, but, still stooping, rested her elbows on
her knees and her face in her hands.  "I try so hard to have fun, to be
like the rest,--and it's always a mistake, always, always, always!"
She rocked herself, slightly, from side to side.  "I am a fool, it's
the truth, or I wouldn't have come to-night.  I want to be
attractive--I want to be in things.  I want to laugh like they do--"

"To laugh just to laugh, and not because there's something funny?"

"Yes, I do, I do!  And to know how to dress and to wear my hair--there
must be some place where you can learn those things.  I've never had
any one to show me!  Ah!  Grandfather said something like that this
afternoon--poor man! We're in the same case.  If we only had some one
to show us!  It all seems so BLIND, here in Canaan, for him and me!  I
don't say it's not my own fault as much as being poor.  I've been a
hoyden; I don't feel as if I'd learned how to be a girl yet, Joe.  It's
only lately I've cared, but I'm seventeen, Joe, and--and
to-day--to-day--I was sent home--and to-night--" She faltered, came to
a stop, and her whole body was shaken with sobs. "I hate myself so for
crying--for everything!"

"I'll tell you something," he whispered, chuckling desperately.  "'Gene
made me unpack his trunk, and I don't believe he's as great a man at
college as he is here.  I opened one of his books, and some one had
written in it, 'Prigamaloo Bantry, the Class Try-To-Be'!  He'd never
noticed, and you ought to have heard him go on!  You'd have just died,
Ariel--I almost bust wide open!  It was a mean trick in me, but I
couldn't help showing it to him."

Joe's object was obtained.  She stopped crying, and, wiping her eyes,
smiled faintly.  Then she became grave.  "You're jealous of Eugene,"
she said.

He considered this for a moment.  "Yes," he answered, thoughtfully, "I
am.  But I wouldn't think about him differently on that account.  And I
wouldn't talk about him to any one but you."

"Not even to--" She left the question unfinished.

"No," he said, quietly.  "Of course not."

"No?  Because it wouldn't be any use?"

"I don't know.  I never have a chance to talk to her, anyway."

"Of course you don't!"  Her voice had grown steady.  "You say I'm a
fool.  What are you?"

"You needn't worry about me," he began.  "I can take care--"

"'SH!" she whispered, warningly.  The music had stopped, a loud clatter
of voices and laughter succeeding it.

"What need to be careful," Joe assured her, "with all that noise going
on?"

"You must go away," she said, anxiously.  "Oh, please, Joe!"

"Not yet; I want--"

She coughed loudly.  Eugene and Mamie Pike had come to the window, with
the evident intention of occupying the veranda, but perceiving Ariel
engaged with threads in her sleeve, they turned away and disappeared.
Other couples looked out from time to time, and finding the solitary
figure in possession, retreated abruptly to seek stairways and remote
corners for the things they were impelled to say.

And so Ariel held the porch for three dances and three intermissions,
occupying a great part of the time with entreaties that her obdurate
and reckless companion should go.  When, for the fourth time, the music
sounded, her agitation had so increased that she was visibly trembling.
"I can't stand it, Joe," she said, bending over him.

"I don't know what would happen if they found you.  You've GOT to go!"

"No, I haven't," he chuckled.  "They haven't even distributed the
supper yet!"

"And you take all the chances," she said, slowly, "just to see her pass
that window a few times."

"What chances?"

"Of what the Judge will do if any one sees you."

"Nothing; because if any one saw me I'd leave."

"Please go."

"Not till--"

"'SH!"

A colored waiter, smiling graciously, came out upon the porch bearing a
tray of salad, hot oysters, and coffee.  Ariel shook her head.

"I don't want any," she murmured.

The waiter turned away in pity and was re-entering the window, when a
passionate whisper fell upon his ear as well as upon Ariel's.

"TAKE IT!"

"Ma'am?" said the waiter.

"I've changed my mind," she replied, quickly. The waiter, his elation
restored, gave of his viands with the superfluous bounty loved by his
race when distributing the product of the wealthy.

When he had gone, "Give me everything that's hot," said Joe.  "You can
keep the salad."

"I couldn't eat it or anything else," she answered, thrusting the plate
between the palms.

For a time there was silence.  From within the house came the
continuous babble of voices and laughter, the clink of cutlery on
china.  The young people spent a long time over their supper. By-and-by
the waiter returned to the veranda, deposited a plate of colored ices
upon Ariel's knees with a noble gesture, and departed.

"No ice for me," said Joe.

"Won't you please go now?" she entreated!

"It wouldn't be good manners," he responded. "They might think I only
came for supper--"

"Hand me back the things.  The waiter might come for them any minute."

"Not yet.  I haven't quite finished.  I eat with contemplation, Ariel,
because there's more than the mere food and the warmth of it to
consider. There's the pleasure of being entertained by the great Martin
Pike.  Think what a real kindness I'm doing him, too.  I increase his
good deeds and his hospitality without his knowing it or being able to
help it.  Don't you see how I boost his standing with the Recording
Angel?  If Lazarus had behaved the way I do, Dives needn't have had
those worries that came to him in the after-life."

"Give me the dish and coffee-cup," she whispered, impatiently.
"Suppose the waiter came and had to look for them?  Quick!"

"Take them, then.  You'll see that jealousy hasn't spoiled my
appetite--"

A bottle-shaped figure appeared in the window and she had no time to
take the plate and cup which were being pushed through the palm-leaves.
She whispered a syllable of warning, and the dishes were hurriedly
withdrawn as Norbert Flitcroft, wearing a solemn expression of injury,
came out upon the veranda.

He halted suddenly.  "What's that?" he asked, with suspicion.

"Nothing," answered Ariel, sharply.  "Where?"

"Behind those palms."

"Probably your own shadow," she laughed; "or it might have been a
draught moving the leaves."

He did not seem satisfied, but stared hard at the spot where the dishes
had disappeared, meantime edging back cautiously nearer the window.

"They want you," he said, after a pause.  "Some one's come for you."

"Oh, is grandfather waiting?"  She rose, at the same time letting her
handkerchief fall.  She stooped to pick it up, with her face away from
Norbert and towards the palms, whispering tremulously, but with
passionate urgency, "Please GO!"

"It isn't your grandfather that has come for you," said the fat one,
slowly.  "It is old Eskew Arp.  Something's happened."

She looked at him for a moment, beginning to tremble violently, her
eyes growing wide with fright.

"Is my grandfather--is he sick?"

"You better go and see.  Old Eskew's waiting in the hall.  He'll tell
you."

She was by him and through the window instantly. Norbert did not follow
her; he remained for several moments looking earnestly at the palms;
then he stepped through the window and beckoned to a youth who was
lounging in the doorway across the room.

"There's somebody hiding behind those plants," he whispered, when his
friend reached him.  "Go and tell Judge Pike to send some of the
niggers to watch outside the porch, so that he doesn't get away.  Then
tell him to get his revolver and come here."

Meanwhile Ariel had found Mr. Arp waiting in the hall, talking in a low
voice to Mrs. Pike.

"Your grandfather's all right," he told the frightened girl, quickly.
"He sent me for you, that's all.  Just hurry and get your things."

She was with him again in a moment, and seizing the old man's arm,
hurried him down the steps and toward the street almost at a run.

"You're not telling me the truth," she said. "You're not telling me the
truth!"

"Nothing has happened to Roger," panted Mr. Arp.  "Nothing to mind, I
mean.  Here!  We're going this way, not that."  They had come to the
gate, and as she turned to the right he pulled her round sharply to the
left.  "We're not going to your house."

"Where are we going?"

"We're going to your uncle Jonas's."

"Why?" she cried, in supreme astonishment. "What do you want to take me
there for?  Don't you know that he's stopped speaking to me?"

"Yes," said the old man, grimly, with something of the look he wore
when delivering a clincher at the "National House,"--"he's stopped
speaking to everybody."



V

BEAVER BEACH

The Canaan Daily Tocsin of the following morning "ventured the
assertion" upon its front page that "the scene at the Pike Mansion was
one of unalloyed festivity, music, and mirth; a fairy bower of airy
figures wafting here and there to the throb of waltz-strains; a
veritable Temple of Terpsichore, shining forth with a myriad of lights,
which, together with the generous profusion of floral decorations and
the mingled delights afforded by Minds's orchestra of Indianapolis and
Caterer Jones of Chicago, was in all likelihood never heretofore
surpassed in elegance in our city....  Only one incident," the Tocsin
remarked, "marred an otherwise perfect occasion, and out of regard for
the culprit's family connections, which are prominent in our social
world, we withhold his name.  Suffice it to say that through the
vigilance of Mr. Norbert Flitcroft, grandson of Colonel A. A.
Flitcroft, who proved himself a thorough Lecoq (the celebrated French
detective), the rascal was seized and recognized.  Mr. Flitcroft,
having discovered him in hiding, had a cordon of waiters drawn up
around his hiding-place, which was the charmingly decorated side piazza
of the Pike Mansion, and sent for Judge Pike, who came upon the
intruder by surprise.  He evaded the Judge's indignant grasp, but
received a well-merited blow over the head from a poker which the Judge
had concealed about his person while pretending to approach the
hiding-place casually. Attracted to the scene by the cries of Mr.
Flitcroft, who, standing behind Judge Pike, accidentally received a
blow from the same weapon, all the guests of the evening sprang to view
the scene, only to behold the culprit leap through a crevice between
the strips of canvas which enclosed the piazza. He was seized by the
colored coachman of the Mansion, Sam Warden, and immediately pounced
upon by the cordon of Caterer Jones's dusky assistants from Chicago,
who were in ambush outside. Unfortunately, after a brief struggle he
managed to trip Warden, and, the others stumbling upon the prostrate
body of the latter, to make his escape in the darkness.

"It is not believed by many that his intention was burglary, though
what his designs were can only be left to conjecture, as he is far
beyond the age when boys perform such actions out of a sense of
mischief.  He had evidently occupied his hiding-place some time, and an
idea of his coolness may be obtained from his having procured and eaten
a full meal through an unknown source. Judge Pike is justly incensed,
and swears that he will prosecute him on this and other charges as soon
as he can be found.  Much sympathy is felt for the culprit's family,
who feel his shame most keenly, but who, though sorrowing over the
occurrence, declare that they have put up with his derelictions long
enough, and will do nothing to step between him and the Judge's
righteous indignation."

The Pike Mansion, "scene of festivity, music, and mirth" (not quite so
unalloyed, after all, the stricken Flitcroft keeping his room for a
week under medical supervision), had not been the only bower of the
dance in Canaan that evening: another Temple of Terpsichore had shone
forth with lights, though of these there were not quite a myriad. The
festivities they illumined obtained no mention in the paper, nor did
they who trod the measures in this second temple exhibit any sense of
injury because of the Tocsin's omission.  Nay, they were of that class,
shy without being bashful, exclusive yet not proud, which shuns
publicity with a single-heartedness almost unique in our republic,
courting observation neither in the prosecution of their professions
nor in the pursuit of happiness.

Not quite a mile above the northernmost of the factories on the
water-front, there projected into the river, near the end of the
crescent bend above the town, a long pier, relic of steamboat days,
rotting now, and many years fallen from its maritime uses.  About
midway of its length stood a huge, crazy shed, long ago utilized as a
freight storeroom.  This had been patched and propped, and a
dangerous-looking veranda attached to it, over-hanging the water.
Above the doorway was placed a sign whereon might be read the words,
"Beaver Beach, Mike's Place."  The shore end of the pier was so ruinous
that passage was offered by a single row of planks, which presented an
appearance so temporary, as well as insecure, that one might have
guessed their office to be something in the nature of a drawbridge.
From these a narrow path ran through a marsh, left by the receding
river, to a country road of desolate appearance.  Here there was a
rough enclosure, or corral, with some tumble-down sheds which afforded
shelter, on the night of Joseph Louden's disgrace, for a number of
shaggy teams attached to those decrepit and musty vehicles known
picturesquely and accurately as Night-Hawks.  The presence of such
questionable shapes in the corral indicated that the dance was on at
Beaver Beach, Mike's Place, as surely as the short line of cabs and
family carriages on upper Main Street made it known that gayety was the
order of the night at the Pike Mansion.  But among other differences
was this, that at the hour when the guests of the latter were leaving,
those seeking the hospitalities of Beaver Beach had just begun to
arrive.

By three o'clock, however, joy at Mike's Place had become beyond
question unconfined, and the tokens of it were audible for a long
distance in all directions.  If, however, there is no sound where no
ear hears, silence rested upon the country-side until an hour later.
Then a lonely figure came shivering from the direction of the town, not
by the road, but slinking through the snow upon the frozen river.  It
came slowly, as though very tired, and cautiously, too, often turning
its head to look behind.  Finally it reached the pier, and stopped as
if to listen.

Within the house above, a piano of evil life was being beaten to death
for its sins and clamoring its last cries horribly.  The old shed
rattled in every part with the thud of many heavy feet, and trembled
with the shock of noise--an incessant roar of men's voices, punctuated
with women's screams. Then the riot quieted somewhat; there was a
clapping of hands, and a violin began to squeak measures intended to be
Oriental.  The next moment the listener scrambled up one of the rotting
piles and stood upon the veranda.  A shaft of red light through a
broken shutter struck across the figure above the shoulders, revealing
a bloody handkerchief clumsily knotted about the head, and, beneath it,
the face of Joe Louden.

He went to the broken shutter and looked in. Around the blackened walls
of the room stood a bleared mob, applausively watching, through a fog
of smoke, the contortions of an old woman in a red calico wrapper, who
was dancing in the centre of the floor.  The fiddler--a rubicund person
evidently not suffering from any great depression of spirit through the
circumstance of being "out on bail," as he was, to Joe's intimate
knowledge--sat astride a barrel, resting his instrument upon the foamy
tap thereof, and playing somewhat after the manner of a 'cellist; in no
wise incommoded by the fact that a tall man (known to a few friends as
an expert in the porch-climbing line) was sleeping on his shoulder,
while another gentleman (who had prevented many cases of typhoid by
removing old plumbing from houses) lay on the floor at the musician's
feet and endeavored to assist him by plucking the strings of the fiddle.

Joe opened the door and went in.  All of the merry company (who were
able) turned sharply toward the door as it opened; then, recognizing
the new-comer, turned again to watch the old woman.  One or two nearest
the door asked the boy, without great curiosity, what had happened to
his head.  He merely shook it faintly in reply, and crossed the room to
an open hallway beyond. At the end of this he came to a frowzy bedroom,
the door of which stood ajar.  Seated at a deal table, and working by a
dim lamp with a broken chimney, a close-cropped, red-bearded,
red-haired man in his shirt-sleeves was jabbing gloomily at a column of
figures scrawled in a dirty ledger.  He looked up as Joe appeared in
the doorway, and his eyes showed a slight surprise.

"I never thought ye had the temper to git somebody to split yer head,"
said he.  "Where'd ye collect it?"

"Nowhere," Joe answered, dropping weakly on the bed.  "It doesn't
amount to anything."

"Well, I'll take just a look fer myself," said the red-bearded man,
rising.  "And I've no objection to not knowin' how ye come by it.
Ye've always been the great one fer keepin' yer mysteries to yerself."

He unwound the handkerchief and removed it from Joe's head gently.
"WHEE!" he cried, as a long gash was exposed over the forehead.  "I
hope ye left a mark somewhere to pay a little on the score o' this!"

Joe chuckled and dropped dizzily back upon the pillow.  "There was
another who got something like it," he gasped, feebly; "and, oh, Mike,
I wish you could have heard him going on!  Perhaps you did--it was only
three miles from here."

"Nothing I'd liked better!" said the other, bringing a basin of clear
water from a stand in the corner.  "It's a beautiful thing to hear a
man holler when he gits a grand one like ye're wearing to-night."

He bathed the wound gently, and hurrying from the room, returned
immediately with a small jug of vinegar.  Wetting a rag with this
tender fluid, he applied it to Joe's head, speaking soothingly the
while.

"Nothing in the world like a bit o' good cider vinegar to keep off the
festerin'.  It may seem a trifle scratchy fer the moment, but it
assassinates the blood-p'ison.  There ye go!  It's the fine thing fer
ye, Joe--what are ye squirmin' about?"

"I'm only enjoying it," the boy answered, writhing as the vinegar
worked into the gash.  "Don't you mind my laughing to myself."

"Ye're a good one, Joe!" said the other, continuing his ministrations.
"I wisht, after all, ye felt like makin' me known to what's the
trouble. There's some of us would be glad to take it up fer ye, and--"

"No, no; it's all right.  I was somewhere I had no business to be, and
I got caught."

"Who caught ye?"

"First, some nice white people"--Joe smiled his distorted smile--"and
then a low-down black man helped me to get away as soon as he saw who
it was.  He's a friend of mine, and he fell down and tripped up the
pursuit."

"I always knew ye'd git into large trouble some day."  The red-bearded
man tore a strip from an old towel and began to bandage the boy's head
with an accustomed hand.  "Yer taste fer excitement has been growin' on
ye every minute of the four years I've known ye."

"Excitement!" echoed Joe, painfully blinking at his friend.  "Do you
think I'm hunting excitement?"

"Be hanged to ye!" said the red-bearded man. "Can't I say a teasing
word without gittin' called to order fer it?  I know ye, my boy, as
well as ye know yerself.  Ye're a queer one.  Ye're one of the few that
must know all sides of the world--and can't content themselves with
bein' respectable! Ye haven't sunk to 'low life' because ye're low
yourself, but ye'll never git a damned one o' the respectable to
believe it.  There's a few others like ye in the wide world, and I've
seen one or two of 'em.  I've been all over, steeple-chasin',
sailorman, soldier, pedler, and in the PO-lice; I've pulled the Grand
National in Paris, and I've been handcuffed in Hong-Kong; I've seen all
the few kinds of women there is on earth and the many kinds of men.
Yer own kind is the one I've seen the fewest of, but I knew ye belonged
to it the first time I laid eyes on ye!"  He paused, then continued
with conviction:  "Ye'll come to no good, either, fer yerself, yet no
one can say ye haven't the talents.  Ye've helped many of the boys out
of a bad hole with a word of advice around the courts and the jail.
Who knows but ye'd be a great lawyer if ye kept on?"

Young people usually like to discuss themselves under any
conditions--hence the rewards of palmistry,--but Joe's comment on this
harangue was not so responsive as might have been expected. "I've got
seven dollars," he said, "and I'll leave the clothes I've got on.  Can
you fix me up with something different?"

"Aha!" cried the red-bearded man.  "Then ye ARE in trouble!  I thought
it 'd come to ye some day!  Have ye been dinnymitin' Martin Pike?"

"See what you can do," said Joe.  "I want to wait here until daybreak."

"Lie down, then," interrupted the other.  "And fergit the hullabaloo in
the throne-room beyond."

"I can easily do that"--Joe stretched himself upon the bed,--"I've got
so many other things to remember."

"I'll have the things fer ye, and I'll let ye know I have no use fer
seven dollars," returned the red-bearded man, crossly.  "What are ye
sniffin' fer?"

"I'm thinking of the poor fellow that got the mate to this," said Joe,
touching the bandage. "I can't help crying when I think they may have
used vinegar on his head, too."

"Git to sleep if ye can!" exclaimed the Samaritan, as a hideous burst
of noise came from the dance-room, where some one seemed to be breaking
a chair upon an acquaintance.  "I'll go out and regulate the boys a
bit."  He turned down the lamp, fumbled in his hip-pocket, and went to
the door.

"Don't forget," Joe called after him.

"Go to sleep," said the red-bearded man, his hand on the door-knob.
"That is, go to thinkin', fer ye won't sleep; ye're not the kind.  But
think easy; I'll have the things fer ye.  It's a matter of pride with
me that I always knew ye'd come to trouble."



VI

YE'LL TAK' THE HIGH ROAD AND I'LL TAK' THE LOW ROAD

The day broke with a scream of wind out of the prairies and such
cloudbursts of snow that Joe could see neither bank of the river as he
made his way down the big bend of ice. The wind struck so bitterly that
now and then he stopped and, panting and gasping, leaned his weight
against it.  The snow on the ground was caught up and flew like sea
spume in a hurricane; it swirled about him, joining the flakes in the
air, so that it seemed to be snowing from the ground upward as much as
from the sky downward. Fierce as it was, hard as it was to fight
through, snow from the earth, snow from the sky, Joe was grateful for
it, feeling that it veiled him, making him safer, though he trusted
somewhat the change of costume he had effected at Beaver Beach.  A
rough, workman's cap was pulled down over his ears and eyebrows; a
knitted comforter was wound about the lower part of his face; under a
ragged overcoat he wore blue overalls and rubber boots; and in one of
his red-mittened hands he swung a tin dinner-bucket.

When he reached the nearest of the factories he heard the exhaust of
its engines long before he could see the building, so blinding was the
drift. Here he struck inland from the river, and, skirting the edges of
the town, made his way by unfrequented streets and alleys, bearing in
the general direction of upper Main Street, to find himself at last,
almost exhausted, in the alley behind the Pike Mansion.  There he
paused, leaning heavily against a board fence and gazing at the vaguely
outlined gray plane which was all that could be made of the house
through the blizzard.  He had often, very often, stood in this same
place at night, and there was one window (Mrs. Pike's) which he had
guessed to be Mamie's.

The storm was so thick that he could not see this window now, but he
looked a long time through the thickness at that part of the gray plane
where he knew it was.  Then his lips parted.

"Good-bye, Mamie," he said, softly. "Goodbye, Mamie."

He bent his body against the wind and went on, still keeping to the
back ways, until he came to the alley which passed behind his own home,
where, however, he paused only for a moment to make a quick survey of
the premises.  A glance satisfied him; he ran to the next fence,
hoisted himself wearily over it, and dropped into Roger Tabor's back
yard.

He took shelter from the wind for a moment or two, leaning against the
fence, breathing heavily; then he stumbled on across the obliterated
paths of a vegetable-garden until he reached the house, and beginning
with the kitchen, began to make the circuit of the windows, peering
cautiously into each as he went, ready to tap on the pane should he
catch a glimpse of Ariel, and prepared to run if he stumbled upon her
grandfather.  But the place seemed empty: he had made his reconnaisance
apparently in vain, and was on the point of going away, when he heard
the click of the front gate and saw Ariel coming towards him, her old
water-proof cloak about her head and shoulders, the patched, scant,
faded skirt, which he knew so well, blowing about her tumultuously.  At
the sound of the gate he had crouched close against the side of the
house, but she saw him at once.

She stopped abruptly, and throwing the water-proof back from her head,
looked at him through the driven fog of snow.  One of her hands was
stretched towards him involuntarily, and it was in that attitude that
he long remembered her: standing in the drift which had piled up
against the gate almost knee-deep, the shabby skirt and the black
water-proof flapping like torn sails, one hand out-stretched like that
of a figure in a tableau, her brown face with its thin features mottled
with cold and unlovely, her startled eyes fixed on him with a strange,
wild tenderness that held something of the laughter of whole
companionship in it mingling with a loyalty and championship that was
almost ferocious--she looked an Undine of the snow.

Suddenly she ran to him, still keeping her hand out-stretched until it
touched his own.

"How did you know me?" he said.

"Know you!" was all the answer she made to that question.  "Come into
the house.  I've got some coffee on the stove for you.  I've been up
and down the street waiting for you ever since it began to get light."

"Your grandfather won't--"

"He's at Uncle Jonas's; he won't be back till noon.  There's no one
here."

She led him to the front-door, where he stamped and shook himself; he
was snow from head to foot.

"I'm running away from the good Gomorrah," he said, "but I've stopped
to look back, and I'm a pretty white pillar."

"I know where you stopped to look back," she answered, brushing him
heartily with her red hands.  "You came in the alley way.  It was
Mamie's window."

He did not reply, and the only visible token that he had any
consciousness of this clairvoyance of hers was a slight lift of his
higher eyebrow. She wasted no time in getting him to the kitchen,
where, when she had removed his overcoat, she placed him in a chair,
unwound the comforter, and, as carefully as a nurse, lifted the cap
from his injured head.  When the strip of towel was disclosed she stood
quite still for a moment with the cap in her hand; then with a broken
little cry she stooped and kissed a lock of his hair, which escaped,
discolored, beneath the bandage.

"Stop that!" he commanded, horribly embarrassed.

"Oh, Joe," she cried, "I knew!  I knew it was there--but to SEE it!
And it's my fault for leaving you--I HAD to go or I wouldn't have--I--"

"Where'd you hear about it?" he asked, shortly.

"I haven't been to bed," she answered.  "Grandfather and I were up all
night at Uncle Jonas's, and Colonel Flitcroft came about two o'clock,
and he told us."

"Did he tell you about Norbert?"

"Yes--a great deal."  She poured coffee into a cup from a pot on the
stove, brought it to him, then placing some thin slices of bread upon a
gridiron, began to toast them over the hot coals.  "The Colonel said
that Norbert thought he wouldn't get well," she concluded; "and Mr. Arp
said Norbert was the kind that never die, and they had quite an
argument."

"What were you doing at Jonas Tabor's?" asked Joe, drinking his coffee
with a brightening eye.

"We were sent for," she answered.

"What for?"

She toasted the bread attentively without replying, and when she
decided that it was brown enough, piled it on a warm plate.  This she
brought to him, and kneeling in front of him, her elbow on his knee,
offered for his consideration, looking steadfastly up at his eyes.  He
began to eat ravenously.

"What for?" he repeated.  "I didn't suppose Jonas would let you come in
his house.  Was he sick?"

"Joe," she said, quietly, disregarding his questions---"Joe, have you
GOT to run away?"

"Yes, I've got to," he answered.

"Would you have to go to prison if you stayed?" She asked this with a
breathless tensity.

"I'm not going to beg father to help me out," he said, determinedly.
"He said he wouldn't, and he'll be spared the chance.  He won't mind
that; nobody will care!  Nobody!  What does anybody care what _I_ do!"

"Now you're thinking of Mamie!" she cried. "I can always tell.
Whenever you don't talk naturally you're thinking of her!"

He poured down the last of the coffee, growing red to the tips of his
ears.  "Ariel," he said, "if I ever come back--"

"Wait," she interrupted.  "Would you have to go to prison right away if
they caught you?"

"Oh, it isn't that," he laughed, sadly.  "But I'm going to clear out.
I'm not going to take any chances.  I want to see other parts of the
world, other kinds of people.  I might have gone, anyhow, soon, even if
it hadn't been for last night.  Don't you ever feel that way?"

"You know I do," she said.  "I've told you--how often!  But, Joe,
Joe,--you haven't any MONEY!  You've got to have money to LIVE!"

"You needn't worry about that," returned the master of seven dollars,
genially.  "I've saved enough to take care of me for a LONG time."

"Joe, PLEASE!  I know it isn't so.  If you could wait just a little
while--only a few weeks,--only a FEW, Joe--"

"What for?"

"I could let you have all you want.  It would be such a beautiful thing
for me, Joe.  Oh, I know how you'd feel; you wouldn't even let me give
you that dollar I found in the street last year; but this would be only
lending it to you, and you could pay me back sometime--"

"Ariel!" he exclaimed, and, setting his empty cup upon the floor, took
her by the shoulders and shook her till the empty plate which had held
the toast dropped from her hand and broke into fragments.  "You've been
reading the Arabian Nights!"

"No, no," she cried, vehemently.  "Grandfather would give me anything.
He'll give me all the money I ask for!"

"Money!" said Joe.  "Which of us is wandering? MONEY?  Roger Tabor give
you MONEY?"

"Not for a while.  A great many things have to be settled first."

"What things?"

"Joe," she asked, earnestly, "do you think it's bad of me not to feel
things I OUGHT to feel?"

"No."

"Then I'm glad," she said, and something in the way she spoke made him
start with pain, remembering the same words, spoken in the same tone,
by another voice, the night before on the veranda.  "I'm glad, Joe,
because I seemed all wrong to myself.  Uncle Jonas died last night, and
I haven't been able to get sorry.  Perhaps it's because I've been so
frightened about you, but I think not, for I wasn't sorry even before
Colonel Flitcroft told me about you."

"Jonas Tabor dead!" said Joe.  "Why, I saw him on the street yesterday!"

"Yes, and I saw him just before I came out on the porch where you were.
He was there in the hall; he and Judge Pike had been having a long
talk; they'd been in some speculations together, and it had all turned
out well.  It's very strange, but they say now that Uncle Jonas's heart
was weak--he was an old man, you know, almost eighty,--and he'd been
very anxious about his money.  The Judge had persuaded him to risk it;
and the shock of finding that he'd made a great deal suddenly--"

"I've heard he'd had that same shock before," said Joe, "when he sold
out to your father."

"Yes, but this was different, grandfather says. He told me it was in
one of those big risky businesses that Judge Pike likes to go into.
And last night it was all finished, the strain was over, and Uncle
Jonas started home.  His house is only a little way from the Pikes',
you know; but he dropped down in the snow at his own gate, and some
people who were going by saw him fall.  He was dead before grandfather
got there."

"I can't be sorry," said Joe, slowly.

"Neither can I.  That's the dreadful part of it! They say he hadn't
made a will, that though he was sharper than anybody else in the whole
world about any other matter of business, that was the one thing he put
off.  And we're all the kin he had in the world, grandfather and I.
And they say"--her voice sank to a whisper of excitement--"they say he
was richer than anybody knew, and that this last business with Judge
Pike, the very thing that killed him--something about grain--made him
five times richer than before!"

She put her hand on the boy's arm, and he let it remain there.  Her
eyes still sought his with a tremulous appeal.

"God bless you, Ariel!" he said.  "It's going to be a great thing for
you."

"Yes.  Yes, it is."  The tears came suddenly to her eyes.  "I was
foolish last night, but there had been such a long time of WANTING
things; and now--and now grandfather and I can go--"

"You're going, too!" Joe chuckled.

"It's heartless, I suppose, but I've settled it! We're going--"

"_I_ know," he cried.  "You've told me a thousand times what HE'S
said--ten times a thousand. You're going to Paris!"

"Paris!  Yes, that's it.  To Paris, where he can see at last how the
great ones have painted,--where the others can show him!  To Paris,
where we can study together, where he can learn how to put the pictures
he sees upon canvas, and where I--"

"Go on," Joe encouraged her.  "I want to hear you say it.  You don't
mean that you're going to study painting; you mean that you're going to
learn how to make such fellows as Eugene ask you to dance.  Go ahead
and SAY it!"

"Yes--to learn how to DRESS!" she said.

Joe was silent for a moment.  Then he rose and took the ragged overcoat
from the back of his chair.  "Where's that muffler?" he asked.

She brought it from where she had placed it to dry, behind the stove.

"Joe," she said, huskily, "can't you wait till--"

"Till the estate is settled and you can coax your grandfather to--"

"No, no!  But you could go with us."

"To Paris?"

"He would take you as his secretary."

"Aha!"  Joe's voice rang out gayly as he rose, refreshed by the coffee,
toast, and warmth she had given him.  "You've been story-reading,
Ariel, like Eugene!  'Secretary'!"

"Please, Joe!"

"Where's my tin dinner-pail?"  He found it himself upon the table where
he had set it down. "I'm going to earn a dishonest living," he went on.
"I have an engagement to take a freight at a water-tank that's a friend
of mine, half a mile south of the yards.  Thank God, I'm going to get
away from Canaan!"

"Wait, Joe!" She caught at his sleeve.  "I want you to--"

He had swung out of the room and was already at the front-door.  She
followed him closely.

"Good-bye, Ariel!"

"No, no!  WAIT, Joe!"

He took her right hand in his own, and gave it a manly shake.  "It's
all right," he said.

He threw open the door and stepped out, but she sought to detain him.
"Oh, have you GOT to go?" she cried.

"Don't you ever worry about me."  He bent his head to the storm as he
sprang down the steps, and snow-wreaths swirled between them.

He disappeared in a white whirlwind.

She stood for several minutes shivering in the doorway.  Then it came
to her that she would not know where to write to him.  She ran down to
the gate and through it.  Already the blizzard had covered his
footprints.



VII

GIVE A DOG A BAD NAME

The passing of Joseph from Canaan was complete.  It was an evanishment
for which there was neither sackcloth nor surprise; and though there
came no news of him it cannot be said that Canaan did not hear of him,
for surely it could hear itself talk.  The death of Jonas Tabor and
young Louden's crime and flight incited high doings in the "National
House" windows; many days the sages lingered with the broken meats of
morals left over from the banquet of gossip.  But, after all, it is
with the ladies of a community that reputations finally rest, and the
matrons of Canaan had long ago made Joe's exceedingly uncertain.  Now
they made it certain.

They did not fail of assistance.  The most powerful influence in the
town was ponderously corroborative: Martin Pike, who stood for all that
was respectable and financial, who passed the plate o' Sundays, who
held the fortunes of the town in his left hand, who was trustee for the
widow and orphan,--Martin Pike, patron of all worthy charities, courted
by ministers, feared by the wicked and idle, revered by the
good,--Judge Martin Pike never referred to the runaway save in the
accents of an august doomster.  His testimony settled it.

In time the precise nature of the fugitive's sins was distorted in
report and grew vague; it was recalled that he had done dread things;
he became a tradition, a legend, and a warning to the young; a Richard
in the bush to frighten colts.  He was preached at boys caught playing
marbles "for keeps":  "Do you want to grow up like Joe Louden?" The
very name became a darkling threat, and children of the town would have
run had one called suddenly, "HERE COMES JOE LOUDEN!"  Thus does the
evil men do live after them, and the ill-fame of the unrighteous
increase when they are sped!

Very little of Joseph's adventures and occupations during the time of
his wandering is revealed to us; he always had an unwilling memory for
pain and was not afterwards wont to speak of those years which cut the
hard lines in his face.  The first account of him to reach Canaan came
as directly to the windows of the "National House" as Mr. Arp,
hastening thither from the station, satchel in hand, could bring it.

This was on a September morning, two years after the flight, and Eskew,
it appears, had been to the State Fair and had beheld many things
strangely affirming his constant testimony that this unhappy world
increaseth in sin; strangest of all, his meeting with our vagrant
scalawag of Canaan.  "Not a BLAMEBIT of doubt about it," declared Eskew
to the incredulous conclave.  "There was that Joe, and nobody else,
stuck up in a little box outside a tent at the Fair Grounds, and
sellin' tickets to see the Spotted Wild Boy!"  Yes, it was Joe Louden!
Think you, Mr. Arp could forget that face, those crooked eyebrows?  Had
Eskew tested the recognition?  Had he spoken with the outcast?  Had he
not!  Ay, but with such peculiar result that the battle of words among
the sages began with a true onset of the regulars; for, according to
Eskew's narrative, when he had delivered grimly at the boy this charge,
"I know you--YOU'RE JOE LOUDEN!" the extraordinary reply had been made
promptly and without change of countenance:  "POSITIVELY NO FREE SEATS!"

On this, the house divided, one party maintaining that Joe had thus
endeavored to evade recognition, the other (to the embitterment of Mr.
Arp) that the reply was a distinct admission of identity and at the
same time a refusal to grant any favors on the score of past
acquaintanceship.

Goaded by inquiries, Mr. Arp, who had little desire to recall such
waste of silver, admitted more than he had intended: that he had
purchased a ticket and gone in to see the Spotted Wild Boy, halting in
his description of this marvel with the unsatisfactory and acrid
statement that the Wild Boy was "simply SPOTTED,"--and the stung query,
"I suppose you know what a spot IS, Squire?"  When he came out of the
tent he had narrowly examined the ticket-seller,--who seemed unaware of
his scrutiny, and, when not engaged with his tickets, applied himself
to a dirty law-looking book.  It was Joseph Louden, reasserted Eskew, a
little taller, a little paler, incredibly shabby and miraculously thin.
If there were any doubt left, his forehead was somewhat disfigured by
the scar of an old wound--such as might have been caused by a blunt
instrument in the nature of a poker.

"What's the matter with YOU?" Mr. Arp whirled upon Uncle Joe Davey, who
was enjoying himself by repeating at intervals the unreasonable words,
"Couldn't of be'n Joe," without any explanation.  "Why couldn't it?"
shouted Eskew. "It was!  Do you think my eyes are as fur gone as yours?
I saw him, I tell you!  The same ornery Joe Louden, run away and
sellin' tickets for a side-show. He wasn't even the boss of it; the
manager was about the meanest-lookin' human I ever saw--and most humans
look mighty mean, accordin' to my way of thinkin'!  Riffraff of the
riffraff are his friends now, same as they were here.  Weeds! and HE'S
a weed, always was and always will be! Him and his kind ain't any more
than jimpsons; overrun everything if you give 'em a chance.
Devil-flowers!  They have to be hoed out and scattered--even then, like
as not, they'll come back next year and ruin your plantin' once more.
That boy Joe 'll turn up here again some day; you'll see if he don't.
He's a seed of trouble and iniquity, and anything of that kind is sure
to come back to Canaan!"

Mr. Arp stuck to his prediction for several months; then he began to
waver and evade.  By the end of the second year following its first
utterance, he had formed the habit of denying that he had ever made it
at all, and, finally having come to believe with all his heart that the
prophecy had been deliberately foisted upon him and put in his mouth by
Squire Buckalew, became so sore upon the subject that even the hardiest
dared not refer to it in his presence.

Eskew's story of the ticket-seller was the only news of Joe Louden that
came to Canaan during seven years.  Another citizen of the town
encountered the wanderer, however, but under circumstances so
susceptible to misconception that, in a moment of illumination, he
decided to let the matter rest in a golden silence.  This was Mr.
Bantry.

Having elected an elaborate course in the Arts, at the University which
was of his possessions, what more natural than that Eugene should seek
the Metropolis for the short Easter vacation of his Senior year, in
order that his perusal of the Masters should be uninterrupted?  But it
was his misfortune to find the Metropolitan Museum less interesting
than some intricate phases of the gayety of New York--phases very
difficult to understand without elaborate study and a series of
experiments which the discreetly selfish permit others to make for
them.  Briefly, Eugene found himself dancing, one night, with a young
person in a big hat, at the "Straw-Cellar," a crowded hall, down very
deep in the town and not at all the place for Eugene.

Acute crises are to be expected at the "Straw-Cellar," and Eugene was
the only one present who was thoroughly surprised when that of this
night arrived, though all of the merrymakers were frightened when they
perceived its extent.  There is no need to detail the catastrophe.  It
came suddenly, and the knife did not flash.  Sick and thinking of
himself, Eugene stood staring at the figure lying before him upon the
reddening floor.  A rabble fought with the quick policemen at the
doors, and then the lights went out, extinguished by the proprietor,
living up to his reputation for always being thoughtful of his patrons.
The place had been a nightmare; it became a black impossibility. Eugene
staggered to one of the open windows, from the sill of which a man had
just leaped.

"Don't jump," said a voice close to his ear. "That fellow broke his
leg, I think, and they caught him, anyway, as soon as he struck the
pavement.  It's a big raid.  Come this way."

A light hand fell upon his arm and he followed its leading, blindly, to
find himself pushed through a narrow doorway and down a flight of
tricky, wooden steps, at the foot of which, silhouetted against a
street light, a tall policeman was on guard. He laid masterful hands on
Eugene.

"'SH, Mack!" whispered a cautious voice from the stairway.  "That's a
friend of mine and not one of those you need.  He's only a student and
scared to death."

"Hurry," said the policeman, under his breath, twisting Eugene sharply
by him into the street; after which he stormed vehemently:  "On yer
way, both of ye!  Move on up the street!  Don't be tryin' to poke yer
heads in here!  Ye'd be more anxious to git out, once ye got in, I tell
ye!"

A sob of relief came from Bantry as he gained the next corner, the
slight figure of his conductor at his side.  "You'd better not go to
places like the 'Straw-Cellar,'" said the latter, gravely.  "I'd been
watching you for an hour.  You were dancing with the girl who did the
cutting."

Eugene leaned against a wall, faint, one arm across his face.  He was
too ill to see, or care, who it was that had saved him.  "I never saw
her before," he babbled, incoherently, "never, never, never!  I thought
she looked handsome, and asked her if she'd dance with me.  Then I saw
she seemed queer--and wild, and she kept guiding and pushing as we
danced until we were near that man--and then she--then it was all
done--before--"

"Yes," said the other; "she's been threatening to do it for a long
time.  Jealous.  Mighty good sort of a girl, though, in lots of ways.
Only yesterday I talked with her and almost thought I'd calmed her out
of it.  But you can't tell with some women.  They'll brighten up and
talk straight and seem sensible, one minute, and promise to behave, and
mean it too, and the next, there they go, making a scene, cutting
somebody or killing themselves!  You can't count on them.  But that's
not to the point, exactly, I expect.  You'd better keep away from the
'Straw-Cellar.'  If you'd been caught with the rest you'd have had a
hard time, and they'd have found out your real name, too, because it's
pretty serious on account of your dancing with her when she did it, and
the Canaan papers would have got hold of it and you wouldn't be invited
to Judge Pike's any more, Eugene."

Eugene dropped his arm from his eyes and stared into the face of his
step-brother.

"Joe Louden!" he gasped.

"I'll never tell," said Joe.  "You'd better keep out of all this sort.
You don't understand it, and you don't--you don't do it because you
care." He smiled wanly, his odd distorted smile of friendliness.  "When
you go back you might tell father I'm all right.  I'm working through a
law-school here--and remember me to Norbert Flitcroft," he finished,
with a chuckle.

Eugene covered his eyes again and groaned.

"It's all right," Joe assured him.  "You're as safe as if it had never
happened.  And I expect"--he went on, thoughtfully--"I expect, maybe,
you'd prefer NOT to say you'd seen me, when you go back to Canaan.
Well, that's all right.  I don't suppose father will be asking after
me--exactly."

"No, he doesn't," said Eugene, still white and shaking.  "Don't stand
talking.  I'm sick."

"Of course," returned Joe.  "But there's one thing I would like to ask
you--"

"Your father's health is perfect, I believe."

"It--it--it was something else," Joe stammered, pitifully.  "Are they
all--are they all--all right at--at Judge Pike's?"

"Quite!" Eugene replied, sharply.  "Are you going to get me away from
here?  I'm sick, I tell you!"

"This street," said Joe, and cheerfully led the way.

Five minutes later the two had parted, and Joe leaned against a cheap
restaurant sign-board, drearily staring after the lamps of the gypsy
night-cab he had found for his step-brother.  Eugene had not offered to
share the vehicle with him, had not even replied to his good-night.

And Joe himself had neglected to do something he might well have done:
he had not asked Eugene for news of Ariel Tabor.  It will not justify
him entirely to suppose that he assumed that her grandfather and she
had left Canaan never to return, and therefore Eugene knew nothing of
her; no such explanation serves Joe for his neglect, for the fair truth
is that he had not thought of her. She had been a sort of playmate,
before his flight, a friend taken for granted, about whom he had
consciously thought little more than he thought about himself--and
easily forgotten.  Not forgotten in the sense that she had passed out
of his memory, but forgotten none the less; she had never had a place
in his imaginings, and so it befell that when he no longer saw her from
day to day, she had gone from his thoughts altogether.



VIII

A BAD PENNY TURNS UP

Eugene did not inform Canaan, nor any inhabitant, of his adventure of
"Straw-Cellar," nor did any hear of his meeting with his step-brother;
and after Mr. Arp's adventure, five years passed into the imperishable
before the town heard of the wanderer again, and then it heard at first
hand; Mr. Arp's prophecy fell true, and he took it back to his bosom
again, claimed it as his own the morning of its fulfilment.  Joe Louden
had come back to Canaan.

The elder Louden was the first to know of his prodigal's return.  He
was alone in the office of the wooden-butter-dish factory, of which he
was the superintendent, when the young man came in unannounced.  He was
still pale and thin; his eyebrows had the same crook, one corner of his
mouth the same droop; he was only an inch or so taller, not enough to
be thought a tall man; and yet, for a few moments the father did not
recognize his son, but stared at him, inquiring his business. During
those few seconds of unrecognition, Mr. Louden was somewhat favorably
impressed with the stranger's appearance.

"You don't know me," said Joe, smiling cheerfully.  "Perhaps I've
changed in seven years." And he held out his hand.

Then Mr. Louden knew; he tilted back in his desk-chair, his mouth
falling open.  "Good God!" he said, not noticing the out-stretched
hand.  "Have YOU come back?"

Joe's hand fell.

"Yes, I've come back to Canaan."

Mr. Louden looked at him a long time without replying; finally he
remarked:

"I see you've still got a scar on your forehead."

"Oh, I've forgotten all about that," said the other, twisting his hat
in his hands.  "Seven years wipes out a good many grievances and
wrongs."

"You think so?" Mr Louden grunted.  "I suppose it might wipe out a good
deal with some people. How'd you happen to stop off at Canaan? On your
way somewhere, I suppose."

"No, I've come back to stay."

Mr. Louden plainly received this as no pleasant surprise.  "What for?"
he asked, slowly.

"To practise law, father."

"What!"

"Yes," said the young man.  "There ought to be an opening here for me.
I'm a graduate of as good a law-school as there is in the country--"

"You are!"

"Certainly," said Joe, quietly.  "I've put myself through, working in
the summer--"

"Working!" Mr. Louden snorted.  "Side-shows?"

"Oh, worse than that, sometimes," returned his son, laughing.
"Anything I could get.  But I've always wanted to come back home and
work here."

Mr. Louden leaned forward, a hand on each knee, his brow deeply
corrugated.  "Do you think you'll get much practice in Canaan?"

"Why not?  I've had a year in a good office in New York since I left
the school, and I think I ought to get along all right."

"Oh," said Mr. Louden, briefly.  "You do?"

"Yes.  Don't you?"

"Who do you think in Canaan would put a case in your hands?"

"Oh, I don't expect to get anything important at the start.  But after
a while--"

"With your reputation?"

The smile which had faded from Joe's lips returned to them.  "Oh, I
know they thought I was a harum-scarum sort of boy," he answered
lightly, "and that it was a foolish thing to run away for nothing; but
you had said I mustn't come to you for help--"

"I meant it," said Mr. Louden.

"But that's seven years ago, and I suppose the town's forgotten all
about it, and forgotten me, too.  So, you see, I can make a fresh
start.  That's what I came back for."

"You've made up your mind to stay here, then?"

"Yes."

"I don't believe," said Mr. Louden, with marked uneasiness, "that Mrs.
Louden would be willing to let you live with us."

"No," said Joe, gently.  "I didn't expect it." He turned to the window
and looked out, averting his face, yet scoring himself with the
contempt he had learned to feel for those who pity themselves. His
father had not even asked him to sit down.  There was a long silence,
disturbed only by Mr. Louden's breathing, which could be heard, heavy
and troubled.

At last Joe turned again, smiling as before. "Well, I won't keep you
from your work," he said. "I suppose you're pretty busy--"

"Yes, I am," responded his father, promptly. "But I'll see you again
before you go.  I want to give you some advice."

"I'm not going," said Joe.  "Not going to leave Canaan, I mean.  Where
will I find Eugene?"

"At the Tocsin office; he's the assistant editor. Judge Pike bought the
Tocsin last year, and he thinks a good deal of Eugene.  Don't forget I
said to come to see me again before you go."

Joe came over to the older man and held out his hand.  "Shake hands,
father," he said.  Mr. Louden looked at him out of small implacable
eyes, the steady hostility of which only his wife or the imperious
Martin Pike, his employer, could quell.  He shook his head.

"I don't see any use in it," he answered.  "It wouldn't mean anything.
All my life I've been a hard-working man and an abiding man.  Before
you got in trouble you never did anything you ought to; you ran with
the lowest people in town, and I and all your folks were ashamed of
you.  I don't see that we've got a call to be any different now."  He
swung round to his desk emphatically, on the last word, and Joe turned
away and went out quietly.

But it was a bright morning to which he emerged from the outer doors of
the factory, and he made his way towards Main Street at a lively gait.
As he turned the corner opposite the "National House," he walked into
Mr. Eskew Arp.  The old man drew back angrily.

"Lord 'a' mercy!" cried Joe, heartily.  "It's Mr. Arp!  I almost ran
you down!" Then, as Mr. Arp made no response, but stood stock-still in
the way, staring at him fiercely, "Don't you know me, Mr. Arp?" the
young man asked.  "I'm Joe Louden."

Eskew abruptly thrust his face close to the other's.  "NO FREE SEATS!"
he hissed, savagely; and swept across to the hotel to set his world
afire.

Joe looked after the irate, receding figure, and watched it disappear
into the Main Street door of the "National House."  As the door closed,
he became aware of a mighty shadow upon the pavement, and turning,
beheld a fat young man, wearing upon his forehead a scar similar to his
own, waddling by with eyes fixed upon him.

"How are you, Norbert?" Joe began.  "Don't you remember me?  I--"  He
came to a full stop, as the fat one, thrusting out an under lip as his
only token of recognition, passed balefully on.

Joe proceeded slowly until he came to the Tocsin building.  At the foot
of the stairway leading up to the offices he hesitated for a few
moments; then he turned away and walked towards the quieter part of
Main Street.  Most of the people he met took no notice of him, only two
or three giving him second glances of half-cognizance, as though he
reminded them of some one they could not place, and it was not until he
had come near the Pike Mansion that he saw a full recognition in the
eyes of one of the many whom he knew, and who had known him in his
boyhood in the town.  A lady, turning a corner, looked up carelessly,
and then half-stopped within a few feet of him, as if startled. Joe's
cheeks went a sudden crimson; for it was the lady of his old dreams.

Seven years had made Mamie Pike only prettier. She had grown into her
young womanhood with an ampleness that had nothing of oversufficiency
in it, nor anywhere a threat that some day there might be too much of
her.  Not quite seventeen when he had last seen her, now, at
twenty-four, her amber hair elaborately becoming a plump and regular
face, all of her old charm came over him once more, and it immediately
seemed to him that he saw clearly his real reason for coming back to
Canaan.  She had been the Rich-Little-Girl of his child days, the
golden princess playing in the Palace-Grounds, and in his early boyhood
(until he had grown wicked and shabby) he had been sometimes invited to
the Pike Mansion for the games and ice-cream of the daughter of the
house, before her dancing days began.  He had gone timidly, not daring
ever to "call" her in "Quaker Meeting" or "Post-office," but watching
her reverently and surreptitiously and continually.  She had always
seemed to him the one thing of all the world most rare, most
mysterious, most unapproachable.  She had not offered an apparition
less so in those days when he began to come under the suspicion of
Canaan, when the old people began to look upon him hotly, the young
people coldly.  His very exclusion wove for him a glamour about her,
and she was more than ever his moon, far, lovely, unattainable, and
brilliant, never to be reached by his lifted arms, but only by his
lifted eyes.  Nor had his long absence obliterated that light;
somewhere in his dreams it always had place, shining, perhaps, with a
fainter lustre as the years grew to seven, but never gone altogether.
Now, at last, that he stood in her very presence again, it sprang to
the full flood of its old brilliance--and more!

As she came to her half-stop of surprise, startled, he took his courage
in two hands, and, lifting his hat, stepped to her side.

"You--you remember me?" he stammered.

"Yes," she answered, a little breathlessly.

"Ah, that's kind of you!" he cried, and began to walk on with her,
unconsciously.  "I feel like a returned ghost wandering
about--invisible and unrecognized.  So few people seem to remember me!"

"I think you are wrong.  I think you'll find everybody remembers you,"
she responded, uneasily.

"No, I'm afraid not," he began.  "I--"

"I'm afraid they do!"

Joe laughed a little.  "My father was saying something like that to me
a while ago.  He meant that they used to think me a great scapegrace
here. Do you mean that?"

"I'd scarcely like to say," she answered, her face growing more
troubled; for they were close on the imperial domain.

"But it's long ago--and I really didn't do anything so outrageous, it
seems to me."  He laughed again.  "I know your father was angry with me
once or twice, especially the night I hid on your porch to watch
you--to watch you dance, I mean. But, you see, I've come back to
rehabilitate myself, to--"

She interrupted him.  They were not far from her gate, and she saw her
father standing in the yard, directing a painter who was at work on one
of the cast-iron deer.  The Judge was apparently in good spirits,
laughing with the workman over some jest between them, but that did not
lessen Mamie's nervousness.

"Mr. Louden," she said, in as kindly a tone as she could, "I shall have
to ask you not to walk with me.  My father would not like it."

Joe stopped with a jerk.

"Why, I--I thought I'd go in and shake hands with him,--and tell him
I--"

Astonishment that partook of terror and of awe spread itself instantly
upon her face.

"Good gracious!" she cried.  "NO!"

"Very well," said Joe, humbly.  "Good-bye."

He was too late to get away with any good grace. Judge Pike had seen
them, and, even as Joe turned to go, rushed down to the gate, flung it
open, and motioned his daughter to enter.  This he did with one wide
sweep of his arm, and, with another sweep, forbade Joe to look upon
either moon OR sun.  It was a magnificent gesture: it excluded the
young man from the street, Judge Pike's street, and from the town,
Judge Pike's town.  It swept him from the earth, abolished him, denied
him the right to breathe the common air, to be seen of men; and, at
once a headsman's stroke and an excommunication, destroyed him, soul
and body, thus rebuking the silly Providence that had created him, and
repairing Its mistake by annihilating him.  This hurling Olympian
gesture smote the street; the rails of the car-track sprang and
quivered with the shock; it thundered, and, amid the dumfounding uproar
of the wrath of a god, the Will of the Canaanite Jove wrote the words
in fiery letters upon the ether:

"CEASE TO BE!"

Joe did not go in to shake hands with Judge Pike.

He turned the next corner a moment later, and went down the quiet
street which led to the house which had been his home.  He did not
glance at that somewhat grim edifice, but passed it, his eyes averted,
and stopped in front of the long, ramshackle cottage next door.  The
windows were boarded; the picket-fence dropped even to the ground in
some sections; the chimneys sagged and curved; the roof of the long
porch sprinkled shingles over the unkempt yard with every wind, and
seemed about to fall.  The place was desolate with long emptiness and
decay: it looked like a Haunted House; and nailed to the padlocked gate
was a sign, half obliterated with the winters it had fronted, "For Sale
or Rent."

Joe gat him meditatively back to Main Street and to the Tocsin
building.  This time he did not hesitate, but mounted the stairs and
knocked upon the door of the assistant editor.

"Oh," said Eugene.  "YOU'VE turned up, you?"

Mr. Bantry of the Tocsin was not at all the Eugene rescued from the
"Straw-Cellar."  The present gentleman was more the electric Freshman
than the frightened adventurer whom Joe had encountered in New York.
It was to be seen immediately that the assistant editor had nothing
undaintily business-like about him, nor was there the litter on his
desk which one might have expected.  He had the air of a gentleman
dilettante who amused himself slightly by spending an hour or two in
the room now and then.  It was the evolution to the perfect of his
Freshman manner, and his lively apparel, though somewhat chastened by
an older taste, might have been foretold from that which had smitten
Canaan seven years before.  He sat not at the orderly and handsome
desk, but lay stretched upon a divan of green leather, smoking a cigar
of purest ray and reading sleepily a small verse-looking book in
morocco.  His occupation, his general air, the furniture of the room,
and his title (doubtless equipped with a corresponding salary) might
have inspired in an observant cynic the idea that here lay a pet of
Fortune, whose position had been the fruit of nepotism, or, mayhap, a
successful wooing of some daughter, wife, or widow.  Eugene looked
competent for that.

"I've come back to stay, 'Gene," said Joe.

Bantry had dropped his book and raised himself on an elbow.
"Exceedingly interesting," he said. "I suppose you'll try to find
something to do.  I don't think you could get a place here; Judge Pike
owns the Tocsin, and I greatly fear he has a prejudice against you."

"I expect he has," Joe chuckled, somewhat sadly.  "But I don't want
newspaper work.  I'm going to practice law."

"By Jove! you have courage, my festive prodigal. VRAIMENT!"

Joe cocked his head to one side with his old look of the friendly
puppy.  "You always did like to talk that noveletty way, 'Gene, didn't
you?" he said, impersonally.

Eugene's color rose.  "Have you saved up anything to starve on?" he
asked, crisply.

"Oh, I'm not so badly off.  I've had a salary in an office for a year,
and I had one pretty good day at the races--"

"You'd better go back and have another," said his step-brother.  "You
don't seem to comprehend your standing in Canaan."

"I'm beginning to."  Joe turned to the door. "It's funny, too--in a
way.  Well--I won't keep you any longer.  I just stopped in to say
good-day--"  He paused, faltering.

"All right, all right," Eugene said, briskly. "And, by-the-way, I
haven't mentioned that I saw you in New York."

"Oh, I didn't suppose that you would."

"And you needn't say anything about it, I fancy."

"I don't think," said Joe,--"I don't think that you need be afraid I'll
do that.  Good-bye."

"Be sure to shut the door, please; it's rather noisy with it open.
Good-bye."  Eugene waved his hand and sank back upon the divan.

Joe went across the street to the "National House."  The sages fell as
silent as if he had been Martin Pike.  They had just had the pleasure
of hearing a telephone monologue by Mr. Brown, the clerk, to which they
listened intently:  "Yes.  This is Brown.  Oh--oh, it's Judge Pike?
Yes indeed, Judge, yes indeed, I hear you--ha, ha!  Of course, I
understand.  Yes, Judge, I heard he was in town.  No, he hasn't been
here.  Not yet, that is, Judge.  Yes, I hear.  No, I won't, of course.
Certainly not.  I will, I will.  I hear perfectly, I understand.  Yes,
sir.  Good-bye, Judge."

Joe had begun to write his name in the register. "My trunk is still at
the station," he said.  "I'll give you my check to send down for it."

"Excuse me," said the clerk.  "We have no rooms."

"What!" cried Joe, innocently.  "Why, I never knew more than eight
people to stay here at the same time in my life."

"We have no rooms," repeated the clerk, curtly.

"Is there a convention here?"

"We have no rooms, I say!"

Joe looked up into the condensed eyes of Mr. Brown.  "Oh," he said, "I
see."

Deathly silence followed him to the door, but, as it closed behind him,
he heard the outbreak of the sages like a tidal wave striking a
dump-heap of tin cans.

Two hours later he descended from an evil ark of a cab at the corral
attached to Beaver Beach, and followed the path through the marsh to
the crumbling pier.  A red-bearded man was seated on a plank by the
water edge, fishing.

"Mike," said Joe, "have you got room for me? Can you take me in for a
few days until I find a place in town where they'll let me stay?"

The red-bearded man rose slowly, pushed back his hat, and stared hard
at the wanderer; then he uttered a howl of joy and seized the other's
hands in his and shook them wildly.

"Glory be on high!" he shouted.  "It's Joe Louden come back!  We never
knew how we missed ye till ye'd gone!  Place fer ye!  Can I find it?
There ain't a imp o' perdition in town, includin' myself, that wouldn't
kill me if I couldn't! Ye'll have old Maggie's room, my own aunt's; ye
remember how she used to dance!  Ha, ha!  She's been burnin' below
these four years!  And we'll have the celebration of yer return this
night. There'll be many of 'em will come when they hear ye're back in
Canaan!  Praise God, we'll all hope ye're goin' to stay a while!"



IX

"OUTER DARKNESS"

If any echo of doubt concerning his undesirable conspicuousness sounded
faintly in Joe's mind, it was silenced eftsoons.  Canaan had not
forgotten him--far from it!--so far that it began pointing him out to
strangers on the street the very day of his return.  His course of
action, likewise that of his friends, permitted him little obscurity,
and when the rumors of his finally obtaining lodging at Beaver Beach,
and of the celebration of his installation there, were presently
confirmed, he stood in the lime-light indeed, as a Mephistopheles
upsprung through the trap-door.

The welcoming festivities had not been so discreetly conducted as to
accord with the general policy of Beaver Beach.  An unfortunate
incident caused the arrest of one of the celebrators and the
ambulancing to the hospital of another on the homeward way, the ensuing
proceedings in court bringing to the whole affair a publicity devoutly
unsought for.  Mr. Happy Fear (such was the habitual name of the
imprisoned gentleman) had to bear a great amount of harsh criticism for
injuring a companion within the city limits after daylight, and for
failing to observe that three policemen were not too distant from the
scene of operations to engage therein.

"Happy, if ye had it in mind to harm him," said the red-bearded man to
Mr. Fear, upon the latter's return to society, "why didn't ye do it out
here at the Beach?"

"Because," returned the indiscreet, "he didn't say what he was goin' to
say till we got in town."

Extraordinary probing on the part of the prosecutor had developed at
the trial that the obnoxious speech had referred to the guest of the
evening. The assaulted party, one "Nashville" Cory, was not of Canaan,
but a bit of drift-wood haply touching shore for the moment at Beaver
Beach; and--strange is this world--he had been introduced to the
coterie of Mike's Place by Happy Fear himself, who had enjoyed a brief
acquaintance with him on a day when both had chanced to travel
incognito by the same freight.  Naturally, Happy had felt responsible
for the proper behavior of his protege--was, in fact, bound to enforce
it; additionally, Happy had once been saved from a term of imprisonment
(at a time when it would have been more than ordinarily inconvenient)
by help and advice from Joe, and he was not one to forget. Therefore he
was grieved to observe that his own guest seemed to be somewhat jealous
of the hero of the occasion and disposed to look coldly upon him.  The
stranger, however, contented himself with innuendo (mere expressions of
the face and other manner of things for which one could not squarely
lay hands upon him) until such time as he and his sponsor had come to
Main Street in the clear dawn on their way to Happy's apartment--a
variable abode.  It may be that the stranger perceived what Happy did
not; the three bluecoats in the perspective; at all events, he now put
into words of simple strength the unfavorable conception he had formed
of Joe.  The result was mediaevally immediate, and the period of Mr.
Cory's convalescence in the hospital was almost half that of his
sponsor's detention in the county jail.

It needed nothing to finish Joe with the good people of Canaan; had it
needed anything, the trial of Happy Fear would have overspilled the
necessity.  An item of the testimony was that Joseph Louden had helped
to carry one of the ladies present--a Miss Le Roy, who had fainted--to
the open air, and had jostled the stranger in passing.  After this, the
oldest woman in Canaan would not have dared to speak to Joe on the
street (even if she wanted to), unless she happened to be very poor or
very wicked.  The Tocsin printed an adequate account (for there was "a
large public interest"), recording in conclusion that Mr. Louden paid
the culprit's fine which was the largest in the power of the presiding
judge in his mercy to bestow.  Editorially, the Tocsin leaned to the
facetious:  "Mr. Louden has but recently 'returned to our midst.'  We
fervently hope that the distinguished Happy Fear will appreciate his
patron's superb generosity.  We say 'his patron,' but perhaps we err in
this.  Were it not better to figure Mr. Louden as the lady in distress,
Mr. Fear as the champion in the lists?  In the present case, however,
contrary to the rules of romance, the champion falls in duress and
passes to the dungeon. We merely suggest, en passant, that some of our
best citizens might deem it a wonderful and beauteous thing if, in
addition to paying the fine, Mr. Louden could serve for the loyal Happy
his six months in the Bastile!"

"En passant," if nothing else, would have revealed to Joe, in this
imitation of a better trick, the hand of Eugene.  And, little doubt, he
would have agreed with Squire Buckalew in the Squire's answer to the
easily expected comment of Mr. Arp.

"Sometimes," said Eskew, "I think that 'Gene Bantry is jest a leetle
bit spiderier than he is lazy. That's the first thing he's written in
the Tocsin this month--one of the boys over there told me.  He wrote it
out of spite against Joe; but he'd ought to of done better.  If his
spite hadn't run away with what mind he's got, he'd of said that both
Joe Louden and that tramp Fear ought to of had ten years!"

"'Gene Bantry didn't write that out of spite," answered Buckalew.  "He
only thought he saw a chance to be kind of funny and please Judge Pike.
The Judge has always thought Joe was a no-account--"

"Ain't he right?" cried Mr. Arp.

"_I_ don't say he ain't."  Squire Buckalew cast a glance at Mr. Brown,
the clerk, and, perceiving that he was listening, added, "The Judge
always IS right!"

"Yes, sir!" said Colonel Flitcroft.

"I can't stand up for Joe Louden to any extent, but I don't think he
done wrong," Buckalew went on, recovering, "when he paid this man
Fear's fine."

"You don't!" exclaimed Mr. Arp.  "Why, haven't you got gumption enough
to see--"

"Look here, Eskew," interposed his antagonist. "How many friends have
you got that hate to hear folks talk bad about you?"

"Not a one!"  For once Eskew's guard was down, and his consistency led
him to destruction. "Not a one!  It ain't in human nature.  They're
bound to enjoy it!"

"Got any friends that would FIGHT for you?"

Eskew walked straight into this hideous trap. "No!  There ain't a dozen
men ever LIVED that had!  Caesar was a popular man, but he didn't have
a soul to help him when the crowd lit on him, and I'll bet old Mark
Antony was mighty glad they got him out in the yard before it
happened,--HE wouldn't have lifted a finger without a gang behind him!
Why, all Peter himself could do was to cut off an ear that wasn't no
use to anybody. What are you tryin' to get AT?"

The Squire had him; and paused, and stroked his chin, to make the ruin
complete.  "Then I reckon you'll have to admit," he murmured, "that,
while I ain't defendin' Joe Louden's character, it was kind of proper
for him to stand by a feller that wouldn't hear nothin' against him,
and fought for him as soon as he DID hear it!"

Eskew Arp rose from his chair and left the hotel. It was the only
morning in all the days of the conclave when he was the first to leave.

Squire Buckalew looked after the retreating figure, total triumph
shining brazenly from his spectacles.  "I expect," he explained,
modestly, to the others,--"I expect I don't think any more of Joe
Louden than he does, and I'll be glad when Canaan sees the last of him
for good; but sometimes the temptation to argue with Eskew does lead me
on to kind of git the better of him."

When Happy Fear had suffered--with a give-and-take simplicity of
patience--his allotment of months in durance, and was released and sent
into the streets and sunshine once more, he knew that his first duty
lay in the direction of a general apology to Joe.  But the young man
was no longer at Beaver Beach; the red-bearded proprietor dwelt alone
there, and, receiving Happy with scorn and pity, directed him to
retrace his footsteps to the town.

"Ye must have been in the black hole of incarceration indeed, if ye
haven't heard that Mr. Louden has his law-office on the Square, and his
livin'-room behind the office.  It's in that little brick buildin'
straight acrost from the sheriff's door o' the jail--ye've been
neighbors this long time!  A hard time the boy had, persuadin' any one
to rent to him, but by payin' double the price he got a place at last.
He's a practisin' lawyer now, praise the Lord!  And all the boys and
girls of our acquaintance go to him with their troubles. Ye'll see him
with a murder case to try before long, as sure as ye're not worth yer
salt!  But I expect ye can still call him by his name of Joe, all the
same!"

It was a bleak and meagre little office into which Mr. Fear ushered
himself to offer his amends. The cracked plaster of the walls was bare
(save for dust); there were no shelves; the fat brown volumes, most of
them fairly new, were piled in regular columns upon a cheap pine table;
there was but one window, small-paned and shadeless; an inner door of
this sad chamber stood half ajar, permitting the visitor unreserved
acquaintance with the domestic economy of the tenant; for it disclosed
a second room, smaller than the office, and dependent upon the window
of the latter for air and light.  Behind a canvas camp-cot, dimly
visible in the obscurity of the inner apartment, stood a small
gas-stove, surmounted by a stew-pan, from which projected the handle of
a big tin spoon, so that it needed no ghost from the dead to whisper
that Joseph Louden, attorney-at-law, did his own cooking.  Indeed, he
looked it!

Upon the threshold of the second room reposed a small, worn,
light-brown scrub-brush of a dog, so cosmopolitan in ancestry that his
species was almost as undeterminable as the cast-iron dogs of the Pike
Mansion.  He greeted Mr. Fear hospitably, having been so lately an
offcast of the streets himself that his adoption had taught him to lose
only his old tremors, not his hopefulness.  At the same time Joe rose
quickly from the deal table, where he had been working with one hand in
his hair, the other splattering ink from a bad pen.

"Good for you, Happy!" he cried, cheerfully. "I hoped you'd come to see
me to-day.  I've been thinking about a job for you."

"What kind of a job?" asked the visitor, as they shook hands.  "I need
one bad enough, but you know there ain't nobody in Canaan would gimme
one, Joe."

Joe pushed him into one of the two chairs which completed the furniture
of his office.  "Yes, there is.  I've got an idea--"

"First," broke in Mr. Fear, fingering his shapeless hat and fixing his
eyes upon it with embarrassment,--"first lemme say what I come here to
say. I--well--"  His embarrassment increased and he paused, rubbing the
hat between his hands.

"About this job," Joe began.  "We can fix it so--"

"No," said Happy.  "You lemme go on.  I didn't mean fer to cause you no
trouble when I lit on that loud-mouth, 'Nashville'; I never thought
they'd git me, or you'd be dragged in.  But I jest couldn't stand him
no longer.  He had me all wore out--all evening long a-hintin' and
sniffin' and wearin' that kind of a high-smile 'cause they made so much
fuss over you.  And then when we got clear in town he come out with it!
Said you was too quiet to suit HIM--said he couldn't see nothin' TO
you!  'Well,' I says to myself, 'jest let him go on, jest one more,' I
says, 'then he gits it.'  And he did.  Said you tromped on his foot on
purpose, said he knowed it,--when the Lord-a'mightiest fool on earth
knows you never tromped on no one! Said you was one of the po'rest
young sports he ever see around a place like the Beach.  You see, he
thought you was jest one of them fool 'Bloods' that come around raisin'
a rumpus, and didn't know you was our friend and belonged out there,
the same as me or Mike hisself.  'Go on,' I says to myself, 'jest one
more!'  'HE better go home to his mamma,' he says; 'he'll git in
trouble if he don't.  Somebody 'll soak him if he hangs around in MY
company. _I_ don't like his WAYS.'  Then I HAD to do it.  There jest
wasn't nothin' LEFT--but I wouldn't of done you no harm by it--"

"You didn't do me any harm, Happy."

"I mean your repitation."

"I didn't have one--so nothing in the world could harm it.  About your
getting some work, now--"

"I'll listen," said Happy, rather suspiciously.

"You see," Joe went on, growing red, "I need a sort of janitor here--"

"What fer?" Mr. Fear interrupted, with some shortness.

"To look after the place."

"You mean these two rooms?"

"There's a stairway, too," Joe put forth, quickly. "It wouldn't be any
sinecure, Happy.  You'd earn your money; don't be afraid of that!"

Mr. Fear straightened up, his burden of embarrassment gone from him,
transferred to the other's shoulders.

"There always was a yellow streak in you, Joe," he said, firmly.
"You're no good as a liar except when you're jokin'.  A lot you need a
janitor! You had no business to pay my fine; you'd ort of let me worked
it out.  Do you think my eyes ain't good enough to see how much you
needed the money, most of all right now when you're tryin' to git
started?  If I ever take a cent from you, I hope the hand I hold out
fer it 'll rot off."

"Now don't say that, Happy."

"I don't want a job, nohow!" said Mr. Fear, going to the door; "I don't
want to work.  There's plenty ways fer me to git along without that.
But I've said what I come here to say, and I'll say one thing more.
Don't you worry about gittin' law practice.  Mike says you're goin' to
git all you want--and if there ain't no other way, why, a few of us 'll
go out and MAKE some fer ye!"

These prophecies and promises, over which Joe chuckled at first, with
his head cocked to one side, grew very soon, to his amazement, to wear
a supernatural similarity to actual fulfilment.  His friends brought
him their own friends, such as had sinned against the laws of Canaan,
those under the ban of the sheriff, those who had struck in anger,
those who had stolen at night, those who owed and could not pay, those
who lived by the dice, and to his other titles to notoriety was added
that of defender of the poor and wicked.  He found his hands full,
especially after winning his first important case--on which occasion
Canaan thought the jury mad, and was indignant with the puzzled Judge,
who could not see just how it had happened.

Joe did not stop at that.  He kept on winning cases, clearing the
innocent and lightening the burdens of the guilty; he became the most
dangerous attorney for the defence in Canaan; his honorable brethren,
accepting the popular view of him, held him in personal contempt but
feared him professionally; for he proved that he knew more law than
they thought existed; nor could any trick him--failing which, many
tempers were lost, but never Joe's.  His practice was not all criminal,
as shown by the peevish outburst of the eminent Buckalew (the Squire's
nephew, esteemed the foremost lawyer in Canaan), "Before long, there
won't be any use trying to foreclose a mortgage or collect a
note--unless this shyster gets himself in jail!"

The wrath of Judge Martin Pike was august--there was a kind of
sublimity in its immenseness--on a day when it befell that the shyster
stood betwixt him and money.

That was a monstrous task--to stand between these two and separate
them, to hold back the hand of Martin Pike from what it had reached out
to grasp.  It was in the matter of some tax-titles which the magnate
had acquired, and, in court, Joe treated the case with such horrifying
simplicity that it seemed almost credible that the great man had
counted upon the ignorance and besottedness of Joe's client--a
hard-drinking, disreputable old farmer--to get his land away from him
without paying for it.  Now, as every one knew such a thing to be
ludicrously impossible, it was at once noised abroad in Canaan that Joe
had helped to swindle Judge Pike out of a large sum of money--it was
notorious that the shyster could bamboozle court and jury with his
tricks; and it was felt that Joe Louden was getting into very deep
waters indeed.  THIS was serious: if the young man did not LOOK OUT, he
might find himself in the penitentiary.

The Tocsin paragraphed him with a fine regularity after this, usually
opening with a Walrus-and-the-Carpenter gravity:  "The time has come
when we must speak of a certain matter frankly," or, "At last the time
has arrived when the demoralization of the bar caused by a certain
criminal lawyer must be dealt with as it is and without gloves."  Once
when Joe had saved a half-witted negro from "the extreme penalty" for
murder, the Tocsin had declared, with great originality:  "This is just
the kind of thing that causes mobs and justifies them. If we are to
continue to permit the worst class of malefactors to escape the
consequences of their crimes through the unwholesome dexterities and
the shifty manipulations and technicalities of a certain criminal
lawyer, the time will come when an outraged citizenry may take the
enforcement of the law in its own hands.  Let us call a spade a spade.
If Canaan's streets ever echo with the tread of a mob, the fault lies
upon the head of Joseph Louden, who has once more brought about a
miscarriage of justice...."

Joe did not move into a larger office; he remained in the little room
with its one window and its fine view of the jail; his clients were
nearly all poor, and many of his fees quite literally nominal.  Tatters
and rags came up the narrow stairway to his door--tatters and rags and
pitiful fineries: the bleared, the sodden, the flaunting and rouged,
the furtive and wary, some in rags, some in tags, and some--the
sorriest--in velvet gowns.  With these, the distressed, the
wrong-doers, the drunken, the dirty, and the very poor, his work lay
and his days and nights were spent.

Ariel had told Roger Tabor that in time Joe might come to be what the
town thought him, if it gave him no other chance.  Only its dinginess
and evil surrounded him; no respectable house was open to him; the
barrooms--except that of the "National House"--welcomed him gratefully
and admiringly.  Once he went to church, on a pleasant morning when
nice girls wear pretty spring dresses; it gave him a thrill of delight
to see them, to be near clean, good people once more. Inadvertently, he
took a seat by his step-mother, who rose with a slight rustle of silk
and moved to another pew; and it happened, additionally, that this was
the morning that the minister, fired by the Tocsin's warnings, had
chosen to preach on the subject of Joe himself.

The outcast returned to his own kind.  No lady spoke to him upon the
street.  Mamie Pike had passed him with averted eyes since her first
meeting with him, but the shunning and snubbing of a young man by a
pretty girl have never yet, if done in a certain way, prevented him
from continuing to be in love with her.  Mamie did it in the certain
way.  Joe did not wince, therefore it hurt all the more, for blows from
which one cringes lose much of their force.

The town dog had been given a bad name, painted solid black from head
to heel.  He was a storm centre of scandal; the entrance to his dingy
stairway was in square view of the "National House," and the result is
imaginable.  How many of Joe's clients, especially those sorriest of
the velvet gowns, were conjectured to ascend his stairs for reasons
more convivial than legal!  Yes, he lived with his own kind, and, so
far as the rest of Canaan was concerned, might as well have worn the
scarlet letter on his breast or branded on his forehead.

When he went about the streets he was made to feel his condition by the
elaborate avoidance, yet furtive attention, of every respectable person
he met; and when he came home to his small rooms and shut the door
behind him, he was as one who has been hissed and shamed in public and
runs to bury his hot face in his pillow.  He petted his mongrel
extravagantly (well he might!), and would sit with him in his rooms at
night, holding long converse with him, the two alone together. The dog
was not his only confidant.  There came to be another, a more and more
frequent partner to their conversations, at last a familiar spirit.
This third came from a brown jug which Joe kept on a shelf in his
bedroom, a vessel too frequently replenished.  When the day's work was
done he shut himself up, drank alone and drank hard. Sometimes when the
jug ran low and the night was late he would go out for a walk with his
dog, and would awake in his room the next morning not remembering where
he had gone or how he had come home.  Once, after such a lapse of
memory, he woke amazed to find himself at Beaver Beach, whither, he
learned from the red-bearded man, Happy Fear had brought him, having
found him wandering dazedly in a field near by.  These lapses grew more
frequent, until there occurred that which was one of the strange things
of his life.

It was a June night, a little more than two years after his return to
Canaan, and the Tocsin had that day announced the approaching marriage
of Eugene Bantry and his employer's daughter.  Joe ate nothing during
the day, and went through his work clumsily, visiting the bedroom shelf
at intervals. At ten in the evening he went out to have the jug
refilled, but from the moment he left his door and the fresh air struck
his face, he had no clear knowledge of what he did or of what went on
about him until he woke in his bed the next morning.

And yet, whatever little part of the soul of him remained, that night,
still undulled, not numbed, but alive, was in some strange manner
lifted out of its pain towards a strange delight.  His body was an
automaton, his mind in bondage, yet there was a still, small
consciousness in him which knew that in his wandering something
incredible and unexpected was happening.  What this was he did not
know, could not see, though his eyes were open, could not have told
himself any more than a baby could tell why it laughs, but it seemed
something so beautiful and wonderful that the night became a night of
perfume, its breezes bearing the music of harps and violins, while
nightingales sang from the maples that bordered the streets of Canaan.



X

THE TRYST

He woke to the light of morning amazed and full of a strange wonder
because he did not know what had amazed him.  For a little while after
his eyes opened, he lay quite motionless; then he lifted his head
slightly and shook it with some caution.  This had come to be custom.
The operation assured him of the worst; the room swam round him, and,
with a faint groan, he let his head fall back upon the pillow.  But he
could not sleep again; pain stung its way through his heart as memory
began to come back to him, not of the preceding night--that was all
blank,--but realization that the girl of whom he had dreamed so long
was to be married.  That his dreams had been quite hopeless was no balm
to his hurt.

A chime of bells sounded from a church steeple across the Square,
ringing out in assured righteousness, summoning the good people who
maintained them to come and sit beneath them or be taken to task; and
they fell so dismally upon Joe's ear that he bestirred himself and
rose, to the delight of his mongrel, who leaped upon him joyfully.  An
hour later, or thereabout, the pair emerged from the narrow stairway
and stood for a moment, blinking in the fair sunshine, apparently
undecided which way to go.  The church bells were silent; there was no
breeze; the air trembled a little with the deep pipings of the organ
across the Square, and, save for that, the town was very quiet.  The
paths which crossed the Court-house yard were flecked with steady
shadow, the strong young foliage of the maples not moving, having the
air of observing the Sabbath with propriety.  There were benches here
and there along the walks, and to one of these Joe crossed, and sat
down.  The mongrel, at his master's feet, rolled on his back in morning
ecstasy, ceased abruptly to roll and began to scratch his ear with a
hind foot intently.  A tiny hand stretched to pat his head, and the dog
licked it appreciatively.  It belonged to a hard-washed young lady of
six (in starchy, white frills and new, pink ribbons), who had run ahead
of her mother, a belated church-goer; and the mongrel charmed her.

"Will you give me this dog?" she asked, without any tedious formalities.

Involuntarily, she departed before receiving a reply.  The mother, a
red-faced matron whom Joe recognized as a sister of Mrs. Louden's,
consequently his step-aunt, swooped at the child with a rush and rustle
of silk, and bore her on violently to her duty.  When they had gone a
little way the matron's voice was heard in sharp reproof; the child,
held by one wrist and hurried along on tiptoe, staring back over one
shoulder at Joe, her eyes wide, and her mouth the shape of the "O" she
was ejaculating.

The dog looked up with wistful inquiry at his master, who cocked an
eyebrow at him in return, wearing much the same expression.  The mother
and child disappeared within the church doors and left the Square to
the two.  Even the hotel showed no signs of life, for the wise men were
not allowed to foregather on Sundays.  The organ had ceased to stir the
air and all was in quiet, yet a quiet which, for Louden, was not peace.
He looked at his watch and, without intending it, spoke the hour aloud:
"A quarter past eleven."  The sound of his own voice gave him a little
shock; he rose without knowing why, and, as he did so, it seemed to him
that he heard close to his ear another voice, a woman's, troubled and
insistent, but clear and sweet, saying:

"REMEMBER!  ACROSS MAIN STREET BRIDGE AT NOON!"

It was so distinct that he started and looked round.  Then he laughed.
"I'll be seeing circus parades next!"  His laughter fled, for, louder
than the ringing in his ears, unmistakably came the strains of a
far-away brass band which had no existence on land or sea or in the
waters under the earth.

"Here!" he said to the mongrel.  "We need a walk, I think.  Let's you
and me move on before the camels turn the corner!"

The music followed him to the street, where he turned westward toward
the river, and presently, as he walked on, fanning himself with his
straw hat, it faded and was gone.  But the voice he had heard returned.

"REMEMBER!  ACROSS MAIN STREET BRIDGE AT NOON!" it said again, close to
his ear.

This time he did not start.  "All right," he answered, wiping his
forehead; "if you'll let me alone, I'll be there."

At a dingy saloon corner, near the river, a shabby little man greeted
him heartily and petted the mongrel.  "I'm mighty glad you didn't go,
after all, Joe," he added, with a brightening face.

"Go where, Happy?"

Mr. Fear looked grave.  "Don't you rec'lect meetin' me last night?"

Louden shook his head.  "No.  Did I?"

The other's jaw fell and his brow corrugated with self-reproach.
"Well, if that don't show what a thick-head I am!  I thought ye was all
right er I'd gone on with ye.  Nobody c'd 'a' walked straighter ner
talked straighter.  Said ye was goin' to leave Canaan fer good and
didn't want nobody to know it. Said ye was goin' to take the
'leven-o'clock through train fer the West, and told me I couldn't come
to the deepo with ye.  Said ye'd had enough o' Canaan, and of
everything!  I follered ye part way to the deepo, but ye turned and
made a motion fer me to go back, and I done it, because ye seemed to be
kind of in trouble, and I thought ye'd ruther be by yerself.  Well,
sir, it's one on me!"

"Not at all," said Joe.  "I was all right."

"Was ye?" returned the other.  "DO remember, do ye?"

"Almost," Joe smiled, faintly.

"ALMOST," echoed Happy, shaking his head seriously. "I tell ye, Joe, ef
I was YOU--" he began slowly, then paused and shook his head again.  He
seemed on the point of delivering some advice, but evidently perceiving
the snobbishness of such a proceeding, or else convinced by his own
experience of the futility of it, he swerved to cheerfulness:

"I hear the boys is all goin' to work hard fer the primaries.  Mike
says ye got some chances ye don't know about; HE swears ye'll be the
next Mayor of Canaan."

"Nonsense!  Folly and nonsense, Happy!  That's the kind of thing I used
to think when I was a boy. But now--pshaw!"  Joe broke off with a tired
laugh.  "Tell them not to waste their time.  Are you going out to the
Beach this afternoon?"

The little man lowered his eyes moodily.  "I'll be near there," he
said, scraping his patched shoe up and down the curbstone.  "That
feller's in town agin."

"What fellow?"

"'Nashville' they call him; Ed's the name he give the hospital:
Cory--him that I soaked the night you come back to Canaan.  He's after
Claudine to git his evens with me.  He's made a raise somewheres, and
plays the spender.  And her--well, I reckon she's tired waitin' table
at the National House; tired o' me, too.  I got a hint that they're
goin' out to the Beach together this afternoon."

Joe passed his hand wearily over his aching forehead. "I understand,"
he said, "and you'd better try to.  Cory's laying for you, of course.
You say he's after your wife?  He must have set about it pretty openly
if they're going to the Beach to-day, for there is always a crowd there
on Sundays.  Is it hard for you to see why he's doing it?  It's because
he wants to make you jealous.  What for? So that you'll tackle him
again.  And why does he want that?  Because he's ready for you!"

The other's eyes suddenly became bloodshot, his nostrils expanding
incredibly.  "READY, is he?  He BETTER be ready.  I--"

"That's enough!" Joe interrupted, swiftly. "We'll have no talk like
that.  I'll settle this for you, myself.  You send word to Claudine
that I want to see her at my office to-morrow morning, and you--you
stay away from the Beach to-day. Give me your word."

Mr. Fear's expression softened.  "All right, Joe," he said.  "I'll do
whatever you tell me to.  Any of us 'll do that; we sure know who's our
friend."

"Keep out of trouble, Happy."  Joe turned to go and they shook hands.
"Good day, and--keep out of trouble!"

When he had gone, Mr. Fear's countenance again gloomed ominously, and,
shaking his head, he ruminatively entered an adjacent bar through the
alley door.

The Main Street bridge was an old-fashioned, wooden, covered one,
dust-colored and very narrow, squarely framing the fair, open country
beyond; for the town had never crossed the river. Joe found the cool
shadow in the bridge gracious to his hot brow, and through the slender
chinks of the worn flooring he caught bright glimpses of running water.
When he came out of the other end he felt enough refreshed to light a
cigar.

"Well, here I am," he said.  "Across Main Street bridge--and it must be
getting on toward noon!"  He spoke almost with the aspect of daring,
and immediately stood still, listening. "'REMEMBER,"' he ventured to
repeat, again daring, "'REMEMBER!  ACROSS MAIN STREET BRIDGE AT NOON!'"
And again he listened.  Then he chuckled faintly with relief, for the
voice did not return.  "Thank God, I've got rid of that!" he whispered.
"And of the circus band too!"

A dust road turned to the right, following the river and shaded by big
sycamores on the bank; the mongrel, intensely preoccupied with this
road, scampered away, his nose to the ground.  "Good enough," said the
master.  "Lead on and I'll come after you."

But he had not far to follow.  The chase led him to a half-hollow log
which lay on a low, grass-grown levee above the stream, where the dog's
interest in the pursuit became vivid; temporarily, however, for after a
few minutes of agitated investigation, he was seized with indifference
to the whole world; panted briefly; slept.  Joe sat upon the log, which
was in the shade, and smoked.

"'REMEMBER!'"  He tried it once more.  "'ACROSS MAIN STREET BRIDGE AT
NOON!'"  Safety still; the voice came not.  But the sound of his own
repetition of the words brought him an eerie tremor; for the mist of a
memory came with it; nothing tangible, nothing definite, but something
very far away and shadowy, yet just poignant enough to give him a queer
feeling that he was really keeping an appointment here.  Was it with
some water-sprite that would rise from the river?  Was it with a dryad
of the sycamores?  He knew too well that he might expect strange
fancies to get hold of him this morning, and, as this one grew
uncannily stronger, he moved his head briskly as if to shake it off.
The result surprised him; the fancy remained, but his headache and
dizziness had left him.

A breeze wandered up the river and touched the leaves and grass to
life.  Sparrows hopped and chirped in the branches, absurdly surprised;
without doubt having concluded in the Sunday stillness that the world
would drowse forever; and the mongrel lifted his head, blinked at them,
hopelessly wishing they would alight near him, scratched his ear with
the manner of one who has neglected such matters overlong; reversed his
position; slept again.  The young corn, deep green in the bottomland,
moved with a staccato flurry, and the dust ghost of a mad whirling
dervish sped up the main road to vanish at the bridge in a climax of
lunacy. The stirring air brought a smell of blossoms; the distance took
on faint lavender hazes which blended the outlines of the fields, lying
like square coverlets upon the long slope of rising ground beyond the
bottom-land, and empurpled the blue woodland shadows of the groves.

For the first time, it struck Joe that it was a beautiful day, and it
came to him that a beautiful day was a thing which nothing except
death, sickness, or imprisonment could take from him--not even the ban
of Canaan!  Unforewarned, music sounded in his ears again; but he did
not shrink from it now; this was not the circus band he had heard as he
left the Square, but a melody like a far-away serenade at night, as of
"the horns of elf-land faintly blowing"; and he closed his eyes with
the sweetness of it.

"Go ahead!" he whispered.  "Do that all you want to.  If you'll keep it
up like this awhile, I'll follow with 'Little Brown Jug, How I Love
Thee!' It seems to pay, after all!"

The welcome strains, however, were but the prelude to a harsher sound
which interrupted and annihilated them: the Court-house bell clanging
out twelve.  "All right," said Joe.  "It's noon and I'm 'across Main
Street bridge.'"

He opened his eyes and looked about him whimsically.  Then he shook his
head again.

A lady had just emerged from the bridge and was coming toward him.

It would be hard to get at Joe's first impressions of her.  We can find
conveyance for only the broadest and heaviest.  Ancient and modern
instances multiply the case of the sleeper who dreams out a long story
in accurate color and fine detail, a tale of years, in the opening and
shutting of a door.  So with Joseph, in the brief space of the lady's
approach.  And with him, as with the sleeper, it must have been--in
fact it was, in his recollections, later--a blur of emotion.

At first sight of her, perhaps it was pre-eminently the shock of seeing
anything so exquisite where he had expected to see nothing at all.  For
she was exquisite--horrid as have been the uses of the word, its best
and truest belong to her; she was that and much more, from the ivory
ferrule of the parasol she carried, to the light and slender footprint
she left in the dust of the road.  Joe knew at once that nothing like
her had ever before been seen in Canaan.

He had little knowledge of the millinery arts, and he needed none to
see the harmony--harmony like that of the day he had discovered a
little while ago.  Her dress and hat and gloves and parasol showed a
pale lavender overtint like that which he had seen overspreading the
western slope.  (Afterward, he discovered that the gloves she wore that
day were gray, and that her hat was for the most part white.)  The
charm of fabric and tint belonging to what she wore was no shame to
her, not being of primal importance beyond herself; it was but the
expression of her daintiness and the adjunct of it.  She was tall, but
if Joe could have spoken or thought of her as "slender," he would have
been capable of calling her lips "red," in which case he would not have
been Joe, and would have been as far from the truth as her lips were
from red, or as her supreme delicateness was from mere slenderness.

Under the summer hat her very dark hair swept back over her temples
with something near trimness in the extent to which it was withheld
from being fluffy.  It may be that this approach to trimness, which
was, after all, only a sort of coquetry with trimness, is the true key
to the mystery of the vision of the lady who appeared to Joe. Let us
say that she suppressed everything that went beyond grace; that the
hint of floridity was abhorrent to her.  "Trim" is as clumsy as
"slender"; she had escaped from the trimness of girlhood as wholly as
she had gone through its coltishness.  "Exquisite."  Let us go back to
Joe's own blurred first thought of her and be content with that!

She was to pass him--so he thought--and as she drew nearer, his breath
came faster.

"REMEMBER!  ACROSS MAIN STREET BRIDGE AT NOON!" Was THIS the fay of
whom the voice had warned him?  With that, there befell him the mystery
of last night.  He did not remember, but it was as if he lived again,
dimly, the highest hour of happiness in a life a thousand years ago;
perfume and music, roses, nightingales and plucked harp-strings.  Yes;
something wonderful was happening to him.

She had stopped directly in front of him; stopped and stood looking at
him with her clear eyes. He did not lift his own to hers; he had long
experience of the averted gaze of women; but it was not only that; a
great shyness beset him.  He had risen and removed his hat, trying
(ineffectually) not to clear his throat; his every-day sense urging
upon him that she was a stranger in Canaan who had lost her way--the
preposterousness of any one's losing the way in Canaan not just now
appealing to his every--day sense.

"Can I--can I--" he stammered, blushing miserably, meaning to finish
with "direct you," or "show you the way."

Then he looked at her again and saw what seemed to him the strangest
sight of his life.  The lady's eyes had filled with tears--filled and
overfilled.  "I'll sit here on the log with you," she said.  And her
voice was the voice which he had heard saying, "REMEMBER!  ACROSS MAIN
STREET BRIDGE AT NOON!"

"WHAT!" he gasped.

"You don't need to dust it!" she went on, tremulously.  And even then
he did not know who she was.



XI

WHEN HALF-GODS GO

There was a silence, for if the dazzled young man could have spoken at
all, He could have found nothing to say; and, perhaps, the lady would
not trust her own voice just then.  His eyes had fallen again; he was
too dazed, and, in truth, too panic-stricken, now, to look at her,
though if he had been quite sure that she was part of a wonderful dream
he might have dared.  She was seated beside him, and had handed him her
parasol in a little way which seemed to imply that of course he had
reached for it, so that it was to be seen how used she was to have all
tiny things done for her, though this was not then of his tremulous
observing.  He did perceive, however, that he was to furl the dainty
thing; he pressed the catch, and let down the top timidly, as if
fearing to break or tear it; and, as it closed, held near his face, he
caught a very faint, sweet, spicy emanation from it like wild roses and
cinnamon.

He did not know her; but his timidity and a strange little choke in his
throat, the sudden fright which had seized upon him, were not caused by
embarrassment.  He had no thought that she was one he had known but
could not, for the moment, recall; there was nothing of the awkwardness
of that; no, he was overpowered by the miracle of this meeting.  And
yet, white with marvelling, he felt it to be so much more touchingly a
great happiness than he had ever known that at first it was
inexpressibly sad.

At last he heard her voice again, shaking a little, as she said:

"I am glad you remembered."

"Remembered what?" he faltered.

"Then you don't?" she cried.  "And yet you came."

"Came here, do you mean?"

"Yes--now, at noon."

"Ah!" he half whispered, unable to speak aloud. "Was it you who
said--who said, 'Remember! Across--across--"'

"'Across Main Street bridge at noon!'" she finished for him, gently.
"Yes."

He took a deep breath in the wonder of it. "Where was it you said
that?" he asked, slowly. "Was it last night?"

"Don't you even know that you came to meet me?"

"_I_--came to--to meet--you!"

She gave a little pitying cry, very near a sob, seeing his utter
bewilderment.

"It was like the strangest dream in the world," she said.  "You were at
the station when I came, last night.  You don't remember at all?"

His eyes downcast, his face burning hotly, he could only shake his head.

"Yes," she continued.  "I thought no one would be there, for I had not
written to say what train I should take, but when I stepped down from
the platform, you were standing there; though you didn't see me at
first, not until I had called your name and ran to you.  You said,
'I've come to meet you,' but you said it queerly, I thought.  And then
you called a carriage for me; but you seemed so strange you couldn't
tell how you knew that I was coming, and--and then I--I understood you
weren't yourself.  You were very quiet, but I knew, I knew!  So I made
you get into the carriage--and--and--"

She faltered to a stop, and with that, shame itself brought him
courage; he turned and faced her.  She had lifted her handkerchief to
her eyes, but at his movement she dropped it, and it was not so much
the delicate loveliness of her face that he saw then as the tears upon
her cheeks.

"Ah, poor boy!" she cried.  "I knew!  I knew!"

"You--you took me home?"

"You told me where you lived," she answered. "Yes, I took you home."

"I don't understand," he stammered, huskily. "I don't understand!"

She leaned toward him slightly, looking at him with great intentness.

"You didn't know me last night," she said.  "Do you know me now?"

For answer he could only stare at her, dumfounded.  He lifted an
unsteady hand toward her appealingly.  But the manner of the lady, as
she saw the truth, underwent an April change. She drew back lightly; he
was favored with the most delicious, low laugh he had ever heard, and,
by some magic whisk which she accomplished, there was no sign of tears
about her.

"Ah! I'm glad you're the same, Joe!" she said. "You never would or
could pretend very well. I'm glad you're the same, and I'm glad I've
changed, though that isn't why you have forgotten me.  You've forgotten
me because you never thought of me.  Perhaps I should not have known
you if you had changed a great deal--as I have!"

He started, leaning back from her.

"Ah!" she laughed.  "That's it!  That funny little twist of the head
you always had, like a--like a--well, you know I must have told you a
thousand times that it was like a nice friendly puppy; so why shouldn't
I say so now?  And your eyebrows!  When you look like that, nobody
could ever forget you, Joe!"

He rose from the log, and the mongrel leaped upon him uproariously,
thinking they were to go home, belike to food.

The lady laughed again.  "Don't let him spoil my parasol.  And I must
warn you now:  Never, never TREAD ON MY SKIRT!  I'm very irritable
about such things!"

He had taken three or four uncertain backward steps from her.  She sat
before him, radiant with laughter, the loveliest creature he had ever
seen; but between him and this charming vision there swept, through the
warm, scented June air, a veil of snow like a driven fog, and, half
obscured in the heart of it, a young girl stood, knee-deep in a drift
piled against an old picket gate, her black water-proof and shabby
skirt flapping in the blizzard like torn sails, one of her hands
out-stretched toward him, her startled eyes fixed on his.

"And, oh, how like you," said the lady; "how like you and nobody else
in the world, Joe, to have a yellow dog!"

"ARIEL TABOR!"

His lips formed the words without sound.

"Isn't it about time?" she said.  "Are strange ladies in the HABIT of
descending from trains to take you home?"


Once, upon a white morning long ago, the sensational progress of a
certain youth up Main Street had stirred Canaan.  But that day was as
nothing to this.  Mr. Bantry had left temporary paralysis in his wake;
but in the case of the two young people who passed slowly along the
street to-day it was petrifaction, which seemingly threatened in
several instances (most notably that of Mr. Arp) to become permanent.

The lower portion of the street, lined with three and four story
buildings of brick and stone, rather grim and hot facades under the
mid-day sun, afforded little shade to the church-comers, who were
working homeward in processional little groups and clumps, none walking
fast, though none with the appearance of great leisure, since neither
rate of progress would have been esteemed befitting the day.  The
growth of Canaan, steady, though never startling, had left almost all
of the churches down-town, and Main Street the principal avenue of
communication between them and the "residence section."  So, to-day,
the intermittent procession stretched along the new cement side-walks
from a little below the Square to Upper Main Street, where maples lined
the thoroughfare and the mansions of the affluent stood among pleasant
lawns and shrubberies.  It was late; for this had been a communion
Sunday, and those far in advance, who had already reached the pretty
and shady part of the street, were members of the churches where
services had been shortest; though few in the long parade looked as if
they had been attending anything very short, and many heads of families
were crisp in their replies to the theological inquiries of their
offspring.  The men imparted largely a gloom to the itinerant
concourse, most of them wearing hot, long black coats and having wilted
their collars; the ladies relieving this gloom somewhat by the lighter
tints of their garments; the spick-and-span little girls relieving it
greatly by their white dresses and their faces, the latter bright with
the hope of Sunday ice-cream; while the boys, experiencing some solace
in that they were finally out where a person could at least scratch
himself if he had to, yet oppressed by the decorous necessities of the
day, marched along, furtively planning, behind imperturbably secretive
countenances, various means for the later dispersal of an odious
monotony.

Usually the conversation of this long string of the homeward-bound was
not too frivolous or worldly; nay, it properly inclined to discussion
of the sermon; that is, praise of the sermon, with here and there a
mild "I-didn't-like-his-saying" or so; and its lighter aspects were apt
to concern the next "Social," or various pleasurable schemes for the
raising of funds to help the heathen, the quite worthy poor, or the
church.

This was the serious and seemly parade, the propriety of whose behavior
was to-day almost disintegrated when the lady of the bridge walked up
the street in the shadow of a lacy, lavender parasol carried by Joseph
Louden.  The congregation of the church across the Square, that to
which Joe's step-aunt had been late, was just debouching, almost in
mass, upon Main Street, when these two went by.  It is not quite the
truth to say that all except the children came to a dead halt, but it
is not very far from it.  The air was thick with subdued exclamations
and whisperings.

Here is no mystery.  Joe was probably the only person of respectable
derivation in Canaan who had not known for weeks that Ariel Tabor was
on her way home.  And the news that she had arrived the night before
had been widely disseminated on the way to church, entering church, IN
church (even so!), and coming out of church.  An account of her house
in the Avenue Henri Martin, and of her portrait in the Salon--a
mysterious business to many, and not lacking in grandeur for that!--had
occupied two columns in the Tocsin, on a day, some months before, when
Joe had found himself inimically head-lined on the first page, and had
dropped the paper without reading further.  Ariel's name had been in
the mouth of Canaan for a long time; unfortunately for Joe, however,
not in the mouth of that Canaan which held converse with him.

Joe had not known her.  The women recognized her, infallibly, at first
glance; even those who had quite forgotten her.  And the women told
their men.  Hence the un-Sunday-like demeanor of the procession, for
few towns hold it more unseemly to stand and stare at passers-by,
especially on the Sabbath.--BUT Ariel Tabor returned--and walking
with--WITH JOE LOUDEN! ...

A low but increasing murmur followed the two as they proceeded.  It ran
up the street ahead of them; people turned to look back and paused, so
that they had to walk round one or two groups. They had, also, to walk
round Norbert Flitcroft, which was very like walking round a group.  He
was one of the few (he was waddling home alone) who did not identify
Miss Tabor, and her effect upon him was extraordinary.  His mouth
opened and he gazed stodgily, his widening eyes like sun-dogs coming
out of a fog.  He did not recognize her escort; did not see him at all
until they had passed, after which Mr. Flitcroft experienced a few
moments of trance; came out of it stricken through and through; felt
nervously of his tie; resolutely fell in behind the heeling mongrel and
followed, at a distance of some forty paces, determined to learn what
household this heavenly visitor honored, and thrilling with the
intention to please that same household with his own presence as soon
and as often as possible.

Ariel flushed a little when she perceived the extent of their
conspicuousness; but it was not the blush that Joe remembered had
reddened the tanned skin of old; for her brownness had gone long ago,
though it had not left her merely pink and white.  This was a delicate
rosiness rising from her cheeks to her temples as the earliest dawn
rises.  If there had been many words left in Joe, he would have called
it a divine blush; it fascinated him, and if anything could have
deepened the glamour about her, it would have been this blush.  He did
not understand it, but when he saw it he stumbled.

Those who gaped and stared were for him only blurs in the background;
truly, he saw "men as trees walking"; and when it became necessary to
step out to the curb in passing some clump of people, it was to him as
if Ariel and he, enchantedly alone, were working their way through
underbrush in the woods.

He kept trying to realize that this lady of wonder was Ariel Tabor, but
he could not; he could not connect the shabby Ariel, whom he had
treated as one boy treats another, with this young woman of the world.
He had always been embarrassed, himself, and ashamed of her, when
anything she did made him remember that, after all, she was a girl; as,
on the day he ran away, when she kissed a lock of his hair escaping
from the bandage.  With that recollection, even his ears grew red: it
did not seem probable that it would ever happen again!  The next
instant he heard himself calling her "Miss Tabor."

At this she seemed amused.  "You ought to have called me that, years
ago," she said, "for all you knew me!"

"I did know her--YOU, I mean!" he answered. "I used to know nearly
everything you were going to say before you said it.  It seems strange
now--"

"Yes," she interrupted.  "It does seem strange now!"

"Somehow," he went on, "I doubt if now I'd know."

"Somehow," she echoed, with fine gravity, "I doubt it, too."

Although he had so dim a perception of the staring and whispering which
greeted and followed them, Ariel, of course, was thoroughly aware of
it, though the only sign she gave was the slight blush, which very soon
disappeared.  That people turned to look at her may have been not
altogether a novelty: a girl who had learned to appear unconscious of
the Continental stare, the following gaze of the boulevards, the frank
glasses of the Costanza in Rome, was not ill equipped to face Main
Street, Canaan, even as it was to-day.

Under the sycamores, before they started, they had not talked a great
deal; there had been long silences: almost all her questions concerning
the period of his runaway absence; she appeared to know and to
understand everything which had happened since his return to the town.
He had not, in his turn, reached the point where he would begin to
question her; he was too breathless in his consciousness of the
marvellous present hour.  She had told him of the death of Roger Tabor,
the year before.  "Poor man," she said, gently, "he lived to see 'how
the other fellows did it' at last, and everybody liked him.  He was
very happy over there."

After a little while she had said that it was growing close upon
lunch-time; she must be going back.

"Then--then--good-bye," he replied, ruefully.

"Why?"

"I'm afraid you don't understand.  It wouldn't do for you to be seen
with me.  Perhaps, though, you do understand.  Wasn't that why you
asked me to meet you out here beyond the bridge?"

In answer she looked at him full and straight for three seconds, then
threw back her head and closed her eyes tight with laughter.  Without a
word she took the parasol from him, opened it herself, placed the
smooth white coral handle of it in his hand, and lightly took his arm.
There was no further demur on the part of the young man.  He did not
know where she was going; he did not ask.

Soon after Norbert turned to follow them, they came to the shady part
of the street, where the town in summer was like a grove.  Detachments
from the procession had already, here and there, turned in at the
various gates.  Nobody, however, appeared to have gone in-doors, except
for fans, armed with which immediately to return to rockers upon the
shaded verandas.  As Miss Tabor and Joe went by, the rocking-chairs
stopped; the fans poised, motionless; and perspiring old gentlemen,
wiping their necks, paused in arrested attitudes.

Once Ariel smiled politely, not at Mr. Louden, and inclined her head
twice, with the result that the latter, after thinking for a time of
how gracefully she did it and how pretty the top of her hat was, became
gradually conscious of a meaning in her action: that she had bowed to
some one across the street.  He lifted his hat, about four minutes
late, and discovered Mamie Pike and Eugene, upon the opposite pavement,
walking home from church together.  Joe changed color.

There, just over the way, was she who had been, in his first youth, the
fairy child, the little princess playing in the palace yard, and always
afterward his lady of dreams, his fair unreachable moon!  And Joe,
seeing her to-day, changed color; that was all! He had passed Mamie in
the street only a week before, and she had seemed all that she had
always seemed; to-day an incomprehensible and subtle change had
befallen her--a change so mystifying to him that for a moment he almost
doubted that she was Mamie Pike.  It came to him with a breath-taking
shock that her face lacked a certain vivacity of meaning; that its
sweetness was perhaps too placid; that there would have been a deeper
goodness in it had there been any hint of daring. Astonishing questions
assailed him, startled him: could it be true that, after all, there
might be some day too much of her?  Was her amber hair a little
too--FLUFFY?  Was something the matter with her dress?  Everything she
wore had always seemed so beautiful.  Where had the exquisiteness of it
gone? For there was surely no exquisiteness about it now! It was
incredible that any one could so greatly alter in the few days elapsed
since he had seen her.

Strange matters!  Mamie had never looked prettier.

At the sound of Ariel's voice he emerged from the profundities of his
psychic enigma with a leap.

"She is lovelier than ever, isn't she?"

"Yes, indeed," he answered, blankly.

"Would you still risk--" she began, smiling, but, apparently thinking
better of it, changed her question:  "What is the name of your dog, Mr.
Louden?  You haven't told me."

"Oh, he's just a yellow dog," he evaded, unskilfully.

"YOUNG MAN!" she said, sharply.

"Well," he admitted, reluctantly, "I call him Speck for short."

"And what for long?  I want to know his real name."

"It's mighty inappropriate, because we're fond of each other," said
Joe, "but when I picked him up he was so yellow, and so thin, and so
creeping, and so scared that I christened him 'Respectability.'"

She broke into light laughter, stopped short in the midst of it, and
became grave.  "Ah, you've grown bitter," she said, gently.

"No, no," he protested.  "I told you I liked him."

She did not answer.

They were now opposite the Pike Mansion, and to his surprise she
turned, indicating the way by a touch upon his sleeve, and crossed the
street toward the gate, which Mamie and Eugene had entered. Mamie,
after exchanging a word with Eugene upon the steps, was already
hurrying into the house.

Ariel paused at the gate, as if waiting for Joe to open it.

He cocked his head, his higher eyebrow rose, and the distorted smile
appeared.  "I don't believe we'd better stop here," he said.  "The last
time I tried it I was expunged from the face of the universe."

"Don't you know?" she cried.  "I'm staying here.  Judge Pike has charge
of all my property; he was the administrator, or something."  Then
seeing him chopfallen and aghast, she went on: "Of course you don't
know!  You don't know anything about me.  You haven't even asked!"

"You're going to live HERE?" he gasped.

"Will you come to see me?" she laughed.  "Will you come this afternoon?"

He grew white.  "You know I can't," he said.

"You came here once.  You risked a good deal then, just to see Mamie
dance by a window.  Don't you dare a little for an old friend?"

"All right," he gulped.  "I'll try."

Mr. Bantry had come down to the gate and was holding it open, his eyes
fixed upon Ariel, within them a rising glow.  An impression came to Joe
afterward that his step-brother had looked very handsome.

"Possibly you remember me, Miss Tabor?" said Eugene, in a deep and
impressive voice, lifting his hat.  "We were neighbors, I believe, in
the old days."

She gave him her hand in a fashion somewhat mannerly, favoring him with
a bright, negligent smile.  "Oh, quite," she answered, turning again to
Joe as she entered the gate.  "Then I shall expect you?"

"I'll try," said Joe.  "I'll try."

He stumbled away; Respectability and he, together,
 interfering alarmingly with the comfort of
Mr. Flitcroft, who had stopped in the middle of the pavement to stare
glassily at Ariel.  Eugene accompanied the latter into the house, and
Joe, looking back, understood:  Mamie had sent his step-brother to
bring Ariel in--and to keep him from following.

"This afternoon!"  The thought took away his breath, and he became
paler.

The Pike brougham rolled by him, and Sam Warden, from the box, favored
his old friend upon the pavement with a liberal display of the whites
of his eyes.  The Judge, evidently, had been detained after
services--without doubt a meeting of the church officials.  Mrs. Pike,
blinking and frightened, sat at her husband's side, agreeing feebly
with the bull-bass which rumbled out of the open window of the
brougham:  "I want orthodox preaching in MY church, and, by God, madam,
I'll have it!  That fellow has got to go!" Joe took off his hat and
wiped his brow.



XII

TO REMAIN ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE IS NOT ALWAYS A VICTORY

Mamie, waiting just inside the door as Ariel and Eugene entered, gave
the visitor a pale greeting, and, a moment later, hearing the wheels of
the brougham crunch the gravel of the carriage-drive, hurried away,
down the broad hall, and disappeared.  Ariel dropped her parasol upon a
marble-topped table near the door, and, removing her gloves, drifted
into a room at the left, where a grand piano found shelter beneath
crimson plush.  After a moment of contemplation, she pushed back the
coverlet, and, seating herself upon the plush-covered piano-stool (to
match), let her fingers run up and down the key-board once and fall
listlessly in her lap, as she gazed with deep interest at three
life-sized colored photographs (in carved gilt frames) upon the wall
she was facing: Judge Pike, Mamie, and Mrs. Pike with her rubies.

"Please don't stop playing, Miss Tabor," said a voice behind her.  She
had not observed that Eugene had followed her into the room.

"Very well, if you like," she answered, looking up to smile absently at
him.  And she began to play a rakish little air which, composed by some
rattle-brain at a cafe table, had lately skipped out of the Moulin
Rouge to disport itself over Paris. She played it slowly, in the minor,
with elfish pathos; while he leaned upon the piano, his eyes fixed upon
her fingers, which bore few rings, none, he observed with an
unreasonable pleasure, upon the third finger of the left hand.

"It's one of those simpler Grieg things, isn't it?" he said, sighing
gently.  "I care for Grieg."

"Would you mind its being Chaminade?" she returned, dropping her eyes
to cloak the sin.

"Ah no; I recognize it now," replied Eugene. "He appeals to me even
more than Grieg."

At this she glanced quickly up at him, but more quickly down again, and
hastened the time emphatically, swinging the little air into the major.

"Do you play the 'Pilgrim's Chorus'?"

She shook her head.

"Vous name pas Wagner?" inquired Eugene, leaning toward her.

"Oh yes," she answered, bending her head far over, so that her face was
concealed from him, except the chin, which, he saw with a thrill of
inexplicable emotion, was trembling slightly. There were some small
white flowers upon her hat, and these shook too.

She stopped playing abruptly, rose from the stool and crossed the room
to a large mahogany chair, upholstered in red velvet and of hybrid
construction, possessing both rockers and legs.  She had moved in a way
which prevented him from seeing her face, but he was certain of her
agitation, and strangely glad, while curious, tremulous half-thoughts,
edged with prophecy, bubbled to the surface of his consciousness.

When she turned to him, he was surprised to see that she looked
astonishingly happy, almost as if she had been struggling with joy,
instead of pain.

"This chair," she said, sinking into it, "makes me feel at home."

Naturally he could not understand.

"Because," she explained, "I once thought I was going to live in it.
It has been reupholstered, but I should know it if I met in anywhere in
the world!"

"How very odd!" exclaimed Eugene, staring.

"I settled here in pioneer days," she went on, tapping the arms lightly
with her finger-tips.  "It was the last dance I went to in Canaan."

"I fear the town was very provincial at that time," he returned, having
completely forgotten the occasion she mentioned, therefore wishing to
shift the subject.  "I fear you may still find it so.  There is not
much here that one is in sympathy with, intellectually--few people
really of the world."

"Few people, I suppose you mean," she said, softly, with a look that
went deep enough into his eyes, "few people who really understand one?"

Eugene had seated himself on the sill of an open window close by.
"There has been," he answered, with the ghost of a sigh, "no one."

She turned her head slightly away from him, apparently occupied with a
loose thread in her sleeve. There were no loose threads; it was an old
habit of hers which she retained.  "I suppose," she murmured, in a
voice as low as his had been, "that a man of your sort might find
Canaan rather lonely and sad."

"It HAS been!"  Whereupon she made him a laughing little bow.

"You are sure you complain of Canaan?"

"Yes!" he exclaimed.  "You don't know what it is to live here--"

"I think I do.  I lived here seventeen years."

"Oh yes," he began to object, "as a child, but--"

"Have you any recollection," she interrupted, "of the day before your
brother ran away?  Of coming home for vacation--I think it was your
first year in college--and intervening between your brother and me in a
snow-fight?"

For a moment he was genuinely perplexed; then his face cleared.
"Certainly," he said:  "I found him bullying you and gave him a good
punishing for it."

"Is that all you remember?"

"Yes," he replied, honestly.  "Wasn't that all?"

"Quite!" she smiled, her eyes half closed. "Except that I went home
immediately afterward."

"Naturally," said Eugene.  "My step-brother wasn't very much chevalier
sans peur et sans reproche! Ah, I should like to polish up my French a
little.  Would you mind my asking you to read a bit with me, some
little thing of Daudet's if you care for him, in the original?  An
hour, now and then, perhaps--"

Mamie appeared in the doorway and Eugene rose swiftly.  "I have been
trying to persuade Miss Tabor," he explained, with something too much
of laughter, "to play again.  You heard that little thing of
Chaminade's--"

Mamie did not appear to hear him; she entered breathlessly, and there
was no color in her cheeks. "Ariel," she exclaimed, "I don't want you
to think I'm a tale-bearer--"

"Oh, my dear!" Ariel said, with a gesture of deprecation.

"No," Miss Pike went on, all in one breath, "but I'm afraid you will
think it, because papa knows and he wants to see you."

"What is it that he knows?"

"That you were walking with Joseph Louden!" (This was as if she had
said, "That you poisoned your mother.")  "I DIDN'T tell him, but when
we saw you with him I was troubled, and asked Eugene what I'd better
do, because Eugene always knows what is best."  (Mr. Bantry's
expression, despite this tribute, was not happy.)  "And he advised me
to tell mamma about it and leave it in her hands.  But she always tells
papa everything--"

"Certainly; that is understood," said Ariel, slowly, turning to smile
at Eugene.

"And she told him this right away," Mamie finished.

"Why shouldn't she, if it is of the slightest interest to him?"

The daughter of the house exhibited signs of consternation.  "He wants
to see you," she repeated, falteringly.  "He's in the library."

Having thus discharged her errand, she hastened to the front-door,
which had been left open, and out to the steps, evidently with the
intention of removing herself as soon and as far as possible from the
vicinity of the library.

Eugene, visibly perturbed, followed her to the doorway of the room, and
paused.

"Do you know the way?" he inquired, with a note of solemnity.

"Where?" Ariel had not risen.

"To the library."

"Of course," she said, beaming upon him.  "I was about to ask you if
you wouldn't speak to the Judge for me.  This is such a comfortable old
friend, this chair."

"Speak to him for you?" repeated the non-plussed Eugene.

She nodded cheerfully.  "If I may trouble you. Tell him, certainly, I
shall be glad to see him."

He threw a piteous glance after Mamie, who was now, as he saw, through
the open door, out upon the lawn and beyond easy hailing distance.
When he turned again to look at Ariel he discovered that she had
shifted the position of her chair slightly, and was gazing out of the
window with every appearance of cheerful meditation.  She assumed so
unmistakably that he had of course gone on her mission that, dismayed
and his soul quaking, he could find neither an alternative nor words to
explain to this dazzling lady that not he nor any other could bear such
a message to Martin Pike.

Eugene went.  There was nothing else to do; and he wished with every
step that the distance to the portals of the library might have been
greater.

In whatever guise he delivered the summons, it was perfectly
efficacious.  A door slammed, a heavy and rapid tread was heard in the
hall, and Ariel, without otherwise moving, turned her head and offered
a brilliant smile of greeting.

"It was good of you," she said, as the doorway filled with red,
imperial wrath, "to wish to have a little chat with me.  I'm anxious,
of course, to go over my affairs with you, and last night, after my
journey, I was too tired.  But now we might begin; not in detail, of
course, just yet.  That will do for later, when I've learned more about
business."

The great one had stopped on the threshold.

"Madam," he began, coldly, "when I say my library, I mean my--"

"Oh yes," she interrupted, with amiable weariness. "I know.  You mean
you keep all the papers and books of the estate in there, but I think
we'd better put them off for a few days--"

"I'm not talking about the estate!" he exclaimed. "What I want to talk
to you about is being seen with Joseph Louden!"

"Yes," she nodded, brightly.  "That's along the line we must take up
first."

"Yes, it is!" He hurled his bull-bass at her. "You knew everything
about him and his standing in this community!  I know you did, because
Mrs. Pike told me you asked all about him from Mamie after you came
last night, and, see here, don't you--"

"Oh, but I knew before that," she laughed.  "I had a correspondent in
Canaan, one who has always taken a great interest in Mr. Louden.  I
asked Miss Pike only to get her own point of view."

"I want to tell you, madam," he shouted, coming toward her, "that no
member of my household--"

"That's another point we must take up to-day. I'm glad you remind me of
it," she said, thoughtfully, yet with so magically compelling an
intonation that he stopped his shouting in the middle of a word;
stopped with an apoplectic splutter.  "We must arrange to put the old
house in order at once."

"We'll arrange nothing of the sort," he responded, after a moment of
angry silence.  "You're going to stay right here."

"Ah, I know your hospitality," she bowed, graciously.  "But of course I
must not tax it too far.  And about Mr. Louden?  As I said, I want to
speak to you about him."

"Yes," he intervened, harshly.  "So do I, and I'm going to do it quick!
You'll find--"

Again she mysteriously baffled him.  "He's a dear old friend of mine,
you know, and I have made up my mind that we both need his help, you
and I."

"What!"

"Yes," she continued, calmly, "in a business way I mean.  I know you
have great interests in a hundred directions, all more important than
mine; it isn't fair that you should bear the whole burden of my
affairs, and I think it will be best to retain Mr. Louden as my man of
business.  He could take all the cares of the estate off your
shoulders."

Martin Pike spoke no word, but he looked at her strangely; and she
watched him with sudden keenness, leaning forward in her chair, her
gaze alert but quiet, fixed on the dilating pupils of his eyes.  He
seemed to become dizzy, and the choleric scarlet which had overspread
his broad face and big neck faded splotchily.

Still keeping her eyes upon him, she went on: "I haven't asked him yet,
and so I don't know whether or not he'll consent, but I think it
possible that he may come to see me this afternoon, and if he does we
can propose it to him together and go over things a little."

Judge Pike recovered his voice.  "He'll get a warm welcome," he
promised, huskily, "if he sets foot on my premises!"

"You mean you prefer I shouldn't receive him here?" She nodded
pleasantly.  "Then certainly I shall not.  Such things are much better
for offices; you are quite right."

"You'll not see him at all!"

"Ah, Judge Pike," she lifted her hand with gentle deprecation, "don't
you understand that we can't quite arrange that?  You see, Mr. Louden
is even an older friend of mine than you are, and so I must trust his
advice about such things more than yours.  Of course, if he too should
think it better for me not to see him--"

The Judge advanced toward her.  "I'm tired of this," he began, in a
loud voice.  "I'm--"

She moved as if to rise, but he had come very close, leaning above her,
one arm out-stretched and at the end of it a heavy forefinger which he
was shaking at her, so that it was difficult to get out of her chair
without pushing him away--a feat apparently impossible.  Ariel Tabor,
in rising, placed her hand upon his out-stretched arm, quite as if he
had offered it to assist her; he fell back a step in complete
astonishment; she rose quickly, and released his arm.

"Thank you," she said, beamingly.  "It's quite all my fault that you're
tired.  I've been thoughtless to keep you so long, and you have been
standing, too!"  She swept lightly and quickly to the door, where she
paused, gathering her skirts.  "I shall not detain you another instant!
And if Mr. Louden comes, this afternoon, I'll remember.  I'll not let
him come in, of course.  It will be perhaps pleasanter to talk over my
proposition as we walk!"

There was a very faint, spicy odor like wild roses and cinnamon left in
the room where Martin Pike stood alone, staring whitely at the open
doorway.



XIII

THE WATCHER AND THE WARDEN

There was a custom of Canaan, time-worn and seldom honored in the
breach, which put Ariel, that afternoon, in easy possession of a coign
of vantage commanding the front gate.  The heavy Sunday dinner was
finished in silence (on the part of Judge Pike, deafening) about three
o'clock, and, soon after, Mamie tossed a number of cushions out upon
the stoop between the cast-iron dogs,--Sam Warden having previously
covered the steps with a rug and placed several garden chairs near by
on the grass.  These simple preparations concluded, Eugene sprawled
comfortably upon the rug, and Mamie seated herself near him, while
Ariel wandered with apparent aimlessness about the lawn, followed by
the gaze of Mr. Bantry, until Miss Pike begged her, a little
petulantly, to join them.

She came, looking about her dreamily, and touching to her lips, now and
then, with an absent air, a clover blossom she had found in the longer
grass against the fence.  She stopped to pat the neck of one of the
cast-iron deer, and with grave eyes proffered the clover-top first for
inspection, then as food.  There were those in the world who, seeing
her, might have wondered that the deer did not play Galatea and come to
life.

"No?" she said, aloud, to the steadfast head. "You won't?  What a
mistake to be made of cast-iron!"  She smiled and nodded to a clump of
lilac-bushes near a cedar-tree, and to nothing else--so far as Eugene
and Mamie could see,--then walked thoughtfully to the steps.

"Who in the world were you speaking to?" asked Mamie, curiously.

"That deer."

"But you bowed to some one."

"Oh, that," Ariel lifted her eyebrows,--"that was your father.  Didn't
you see him?"

"No."

"I believe you can't from here, after all," said Ariel, slowly.  "He is
sitting upon a rustic bench between the bushes and the cedar-tree,
quite near the gate.  No, you couldn't see him from here; you'd have to
go as far as the deer, at least, and even then you might not notice
him, unless you looked for him.  He has a book--a Bible, I think--but I
don't think he is reading."

"He usually takes a nap on Sunday afternoons," said Mamie.

"I don't think he will, to-day."  Ariel looked at Eugene, who avoided
her clear gaze.  "He has the air of having settled himself to stay for
a long time, perhaps until evening."

She had put on her hat after dinner, and Mamie now inquired if she
would not prefer to remove it, offering to carry it in-doors for her,
to Ariel's room, to insure its safety.  "You look so sort of temporary,
wearing it," she urged, "as if you were only here for a little while.
It's the loveliest hat I ever saw, and so fragile, too, but I'll take
care--"

Ariel laughed, leaned over, and touched the other's hand lightly.  "It
isn't that, dear."

"What is it, then?"  Mamie beamed out into a joyful smile.  She had
felt sure that she could not understand Ariel; was, indeed, afraid of
her; and she found herself astonishingly pleased to be called "dear,"
and delighted with the little familiarity of the hand-tap.  Her feeling
toward the visitor (who was, so her father had announced, to become a
permanent member of the household) had been, until now, undefined.  She
had been on her guard, watching for some sign of conscious
"superiority" in this lady who had been so long over-seas, not knowing
what to make of her; though thrown, by the contents of her trunks, into
a wistfulness which would have had something of rapture in it had she
been sure that she was going to like Ariel. She had gone to the
latter's room before church, and had perceived uneasily that it had
become, even by the process of unpacking, the prettiest room she had
ever seen.  Mrs. Warden, wife of Sam, and handmaiden of the mansion,
was assisting, alternately faint and vociferous with marvelling. Mamie
feared that Ariel might be a little overpowering.

With the word "dear" (that is, of course, with the way it was spoken),
and with the touch upon the hand, it was all suddenly settled; she
would not understand Ariel always--that was clear--but they would like
each other.

"I am wearing my hat," answered Ariel, "because at any moment I may
decide to go for a long walk!"

"Oh, I hope not," said Mamie.  "There are sure to be people: a few
still come, even though I'm an engaged girl.  I expect that's just to
console me, though," she added, smiling over this worn quip of the
betrothed, and shaking her head at Eugene, who grew red and coughed.
"There'll be plenty to-day, but they won't be here to see me.  It's
you, Ariel, and they'd be terribly disappointed if you weren't here.  I
shouldn't wonder if the whole town came; it's curious enough about you!"

Canaan (at least that part of it which Mamie meant when she said "the
whole town") already offered testimony to her truthfulness.  Two
gentlemen, aged nine and eleven, and clad in white "sailor suits," were
at that moment grooving their cheeks between the round pickets of the
gate. They had come from the house across the street, evidently
stimulated by the conversation at their own recent dinner-table (they
wore a few deposits such as are left by chocolate-cake), and the motive
of their conduct became obvious when, upon being joined by a person
from next door (a starched and frilled person of the opposite sex but
sympathetic age), one of them waggled a forefinger through the gate at
Ariel, and a voice was heard in explanation:

"THAT'S HER."

There was a rustle in the lilac-bushes near the cedar-tree; the three
small heads turned simultaneously in that direction; something terrific
was evidently seen, and with a horrified "OOOH!" the trio skedaddled
headlong.

They were but the gay vanguard of the life which the street, quite dead
through the Sunday dinner-hour, presently took on.  Young couples with
their progeny began to appear, returning from the weekly reunion Sunday
dinner with relatives; young people meditative (until they reached the
Pike Mansion), the wives fanning themselves or shooing the
tots-able-to-walk ahead of them, while the husbands, wearing long
coats, satin ties, and showing dust upon their blazing shoes,
invariably pushed the perambulators.  Most of these passers-by
exchanged greetings with Mamie and Eugene, and all of them looked hard
at Ariel as long as it was possible.

And now the young men of the town, laboriously arranged as to apparel,
began to appear on the street in small squads, making their Sunday
rounds; the youngest working in phalanxes of threes and fours, those
somewhat older inclining to move in pairs; the eldest, such as were now
beginning to be considered middle-aged beaux, or (by the extremely
youthful) "old bachelors," evidently considered it advantageous to
travel alone.  Of all these, there were few who did not, before evening
fell, turn in at the gate of the Pike Mansion. Consciously, shyly or
confidently, according to the condition of their souls, they made their
way between the cast-iron deer to be presented to the visitor.

Ariel sat at the top of the steps, and, looking amiably over their
heads, talked with such as could get near her.  There were many who
could not, and Mamie, occupying the bench below, was surrounded by the
overflow.  The difficulty of reaching and maintaining a position near
Miss Tabor was increased by the attitude and behavior of Mr. Flitcroft,
who that day cooled the feeling of friendship which several of his
fellow-townsmen had hitherto entertained for him.  He had been the
first to arrive, coming alone, though that was not his custom, and he
established himself at Ariel's right, upon the step just below her, so
disposing the great body and the ponderous arms and legs the gods had
given him, that no one could mount above him to sit beside her, or
approach her from that direction within conversational distance.  Once
established, he was not to be dislodged, and the only satisfaction for
those in this manner debarred from the society of the beautiful
stranger was obtained when they were presented to her and when they
took their departure. On these occasions it was necessary by custom for
them to shake her hand, a ceremony they accomplished by leaning across
Mr. Flitcroft, which was a long way to lean, and the fat back and
shoulders were sore that night because of what had been surreptitiously
done to them by revengeful elbows and knees.

Norbert, not ordinarily talkative, had nothing to say; he seemed to
find sufficient occupation in keeping the place he had gained; and from
this close vantage he fastened his small eyes immovably upon Ariel's
profile.  Eugene, also apparently determined not to move, sat
throughout the afternoon at her left, but as he was thin, others, who
came and went, were able to approach upon that side and hold speech
with her.

She was a stranger to these young people, most of whom had grown up
together in a nickname intimacy.  Few of them had more than a very
imperfect recollection of her as she was before Roger Tabor and she had
departed out of Canaan.  She had lived her girlhood only upon their
borderland, with no intimates save her grandfather and Joe; and she
returned to her native town "a revelation and a dream," as young Mr.
Bradbury told his incredulous grandmother that night.

The conversation of the gallants consisted, for the greater part, of
witticisms at one another's expense, which, though evoked for Ariel's
benefit (all eyes furtively reverting to her as each shaft was loosed),
she found more or less enigmatical.  The young men, however, laughed at
each other loudly, and seemed content if now and then she smiled. "You
must be frightfully ennuied with all this," Eugene said to her.  "You
see how provincial we still are."

She did not answer; she had not heard him.  The shadows were stretching
themselves over the grass, long and attenuated; the sunlight upon the
trees and houses was like a thin, rosy pigment; black birds were
calling each other home to beech and elm; and Ariel's eyes were fixed
upon the western distance of the street where gold-dust was beginning
to quiver in the air.  She did not hear Eugene, but she started, a
moment later, when the name "Joe Louden" was pronounced by a young man,
the poetic Bradbury, on the step below Eugene. Some one immediately
said "'SH!"  But she leaned over and addressed Mr. Bradbury, who, shut
out, not only from the group about her, but from the other centring
upon Miss Pike, as well, was holding a private conversation with a
friend in like misfortune.

"What were you saying of Mr. Louden?" she asked, smiling down upon the
young man.  (It was this smile which inspired his description of her as
"a revelation and a dream.")

"Oh, nothing particular," was his embarrassed reply.  "I only mentioned
I'd heard there was some talk among the--"  He paused awkwardly,
remembering that Ariel had walked with Joseph Louden in the face of
Canaan that very day. "That is, I mean to say, there's some talk of his
running for Mayor."

"WHAT?"

There was a general exclamation, followed by an uncomfortable moment or
two of silence.  No one present was unaware of that noon walk, though
there was prevalent a pleasing notion that it would not happen again,
founded on the idea that Ariel, having only arrived the previous
evening, had probably met Joe on the street by accident, and,
remembering him as a playmate of her childhood and uninformed as to his
reputation, had, naturally enough, permitted him to walk home with her.

Mr. Flitcroft broke the silence, rushing into words with a derisive
laugh:  "Yes, he's 'talked of' for Mayor--by the saloon people and the
niggers!  I expect the Beaver Beach crowd would be for him, and if
tramps could vote he might--"

"What is Beaver Beach?" asked Ariel, not turning.

"What is Beaver Beach?" he repeated, and cast his eyes to the sky,
shaking his head awesomely. "It's a Place," he said, with abysmal
solemnity,--"a Place I shouldn't have mentioned in your presence, Miss
Tabor."

"What has it to do with Mr. Louden?"

The predestined Norbert conceived the present to be a heaven-sent
opportunity to enlighten her concerning Joe's character, since the
Pikes appeared to have been derelict in the performance of this
kindness.

"He goes there!" he proceeded heavily.  "He lived there for a while
when he first came back from running away, and he's a friend of Mike
Sheehan's that runs it; he's a friend of all the riff-raff that hang
around there."

"How do you know he goes there?"

"Why, it was in the paper the day after he came back!"  He appealed for
corroboration.  "Wasn't it, Eugene?"

"No, no!" she persisted.  "Newspapers are sometimes mistaken, aren't
they?"  Laughing a little, she swept across the bulbous face beside her
a swift regard that was like a search-light.  "How do you KNOW, Mr.
Flitcroft," she went on very rapidly, raising her voice,--"how do you
KNOW that Mr. Louden is familiar with this place?  The newspapers may
have been falsely informed; you must admit that?  Then how do you KNOW?
Have you ever MET any one who has seen him there?"

"I've seen him there myself!"  The words skipped out of Norbert's mouth
like so many little devils, the instant he opened it.  She had spoken
so quickly and with such vehemence, looking him full in the eye, that
he had forgotten everything in the world except making the point to
which her insistence had led him.

Mamie looked horrified; there was a sound of smothered laughter, and
Norbert, overwhelmed by the treachery of his own mouth, sat gasping.

"It can't be such a terrific place, then, after all," said Ariel,
gently, and turning to Eugene, "Have you ever been there, Mr. Bantry?"
she asked.

He changed color, but answered with enough glibness:  "No."

Several of the young men rose; the wretched Flitcroft, however, evading
Mamie's eye--in which there was a distinct hint,--sat where he was
until all of them, except Eugene, had taken a reluctant departure, one
group after another, leaving in the order of their arrival.

The rosy pigment which had colored the trees faded; the gold-dust of
the western distance danced itself pale and departed; dusk stalked into
the town from the east; and still the watcher upon the steps and the
warden of the gate (he of the lilac-bushes and the Bible) held their
places and waited--waited, alas! in vain....  Ah! Joe, is THIS the
mettle of your daring?  Did you not say you would "try"?  Was your
courage so frail a vessel that it could not carry you even to the gate
yonder? Surely you knew that if you had striven so far, there you would
have been met!  Perhaps you foresaw that not one, but two, would meet
you at the gate, both the warden and the watcher.  What of that?  What
of that, O faint heart?  What was there to fear?  Listen!  The gate
clicks.  Ah, have you come at last?

Ariel started to her feet, but the bent figure, coming up the walk in
the darkness, was that of Eskew Arp.  He bowed gloomily to Mamie, and
in response to her inquiry if he wished to see her father, answered no;
he had come to talk with the granddaughter of his old friend Roger
Tabor.

"Mr. Arp!" called Ariel.  "I am so very glad!" She ran down to him and
gave him her hand. "We'll sit here on the bench, sha'n't we?"

Mamie had risen, and skirting Norbert frostily, touched Eugene upon the
shoulder as she went up the steps.  He understood that he was to follow
her in-doors, and, after a deep look at the bench where Ariel had
seated herself beside Mr. Arp, he obeyed.  Norbert was left a lonely
ruin between the cold, twin dogs.  He had wrought desolation this
afternoon, and that sweet verdure, his good name, so long in the
planting, so carefully tended, was now a dreary waste; yet he
contemplated this not so much as his present aspect of splendid
isolation.  Frozen by the daughter of the house, forgotten by the
visitor, whose conversation with Mr. Arp was carried on in tones so low
that he could not understand it, the fat one, though heart-breakingly
loath to take himself away, began to comprehend that his hour had
struck.  He rose, descended the steps to the bench, and seated himself
unexpectedly upon the cement walk at Ariel's feet. "Leg's gone to
sleep," he explained, in response to her startled exclamation; but,
like a great soul, ignoring the accident of his position as well as the
presence of Mr. Arp, he immediately proceeded: "Will you go riding with
me to-morrow afternoon?"

"Aren't you very good-natured, Mr. Flitcroft?" she asked, with an odd
intonation.

"I'm imposed on, often enough," he replied, rubbing his leg, "by people
who think I am!  Why?"

"It is only that your sitting so abruptly upon the ground reminded me
of something that happened long ago, before I left Canaan, the last
time I met you."

"I don't think I knew you before you went away.  You haven't said if
you'll go riding with me to-morrow.  Please--"

"Get up," interrupted Mr. Arp, acidly.  "Somebody 'll fall over you if
you stay there."

Such a catastrophe in truth loomed imminent. Judge Pike was rapidly
approaching on his way to the house, Bible in hand--far better in hand
than was his temper, for it is an enraging thing to wait five hours in
ambush for a man who does not come.  In the darkness a desecration
occurred, and Norbert perfected to the last detail whatever had been
left incomplete of his own destruction. He began lumberingly to rise,
talking at the same time, urging upon Ariel the charms of the roadside;
wild flowers were in blossom, he said, recounting the benefits she
might derive through acceptance of his invitation; and having, thus
busily, risen to his knees, became aware that some one was passing near
him.  This some one Mr. Flitcroft, absorbed in artful persuasions, may
have been betrayed by the darkness to mistake for Eugene.  Reaching out
for assistance, he mechanically seized upon the skirts of a coat, which
he put to the uses of a rope, coming up hand-over-hand with such noble
weight and energy that he brought himself to his feet and the owner of
the coat to the ground simultaneously.  The latter, hideously
astonished, went down with an objurgation so outrageous in venom that
Mr. Arp jumped with the shock.  Judge Pike got to his feet quickly, but
not so quickly as the piteous Flitcroft betook himself into the deep
shadows of the street.  Only a word, hoarse and horror-stricken, was
left quivering on the night breeze by this accursed, whom the gods,
intent upon his ruin, had early in the day, at his first sight of
Ariel, in good truth, made mad:  "MURDER!"

"Can I help you brush off, Judge?" asked Eskew, rising painfully.

Either Martin Pike was beyond words, or the courtesy proposed by the
feeble old fellow (for Eskew was now very far along in years, and
looked his age) emphasized too bitterly the indignity which had been
put upon him: whatever the case, he went his way in-doors, leaving the
cynic's offer unacknowledged.  Eskew sank back upon the bench, with the
little rusty sounds, suggestions of creaks and sighs, which accompany
the movement of antiques.  "I've always thought," he said, "that the
Judge had spells when he was hard of hearing."

Oblongs of light abruptly dropped from the windows confronting them,
one, falling across the bench, appropriately touching with lemon the
acrid, withered face and trembling hands of the veteran.  "You are
younger than you were nine years ago, Mr. Arp," said Ariel, gayly.  "I
caught a glimpse of you upon the street, to-day, and I thought so then.
Now I see that I was right."

"Me--YOUNGER!" he groaned.  "No, ma'am!  I'm mighty near through with
this fool world--and I'd be glad of it, if I didn't expect that if
there IS another one afterwards, it would be jest as ornery!"

She laughed, leaning forward, resting her elbows on her knee, and her
chin in her hand, so that the shadow of her hat shielded her eyes from
the light. "I thought you looked surprised when you saw me to day."

"I reckon I did!" he exclaimed.  "Who wouldn't of been?"

"Why?"

"Why?" he repeated, confounded by her simplicity.  "Why?"

"Yes," she laughed.  "That's what I'm anxious to know."

"Wasn't the whole town the same way?" he demanded.  "Did you meet
anybody that didn't look surprised?"

"But why should they?"

"Good Lord Admighty!" he broke out.  "Ain't you got any
lookin'-glasses?"

"I think almost all I have are still in the customs warehouse."

"Then use Mamie Pike's," responded the old man.  "The town never
dreamed you were goin' to turn out pretty at all, let alone the WAY
you've turned out pretty!  The Tocsin had a good deal about your looks
and so forth in it once, in a letter from Paris, but the folks that
remembered you kind of set that down to the way papers talk about
anybody with money, and nobody was prepared for it when they saw you.
You don't need to drop no curtseys to ME."  He set his mouth grimly, in
response to the bow she made him.  "_I_ think female beauty is like all
other human furbelows, and as holler as heaven will be if only the good
people are let in!  But yet I did stop to look at you when you went
past me to-day, and I kept on lookin', long as you were in sight.  I
reckon I always will, when I git the chance, too--only shows what human
nature IS!  But that wasn't all that folks were starin' at to-day.  It
was your walkin' with Joe Louden that really finished 'em, and I can
say it upset me more than anything I've seen for a good many years."

"Upset you, Mr. Arp?" she cried.  "I don't quite see."

The old man shook his head deploringly.  "After what I'd written you
about that boy--"

"Ah," she said, softly, touching his sleeve with her fingers, "I
haven't thanked you for that."

"You needn't," he returned, sharply.  "It was a pleasure.  Do you
remember how easy and quick I promised you?"

"I remember that you were very kind."

"Kind!"  He gave forth an acid and chilling laugh.  "It was about two
months after Louden ran away, and before you and Roger left Canaan, and
you asked me to promise to write to you whenever word of that outcast
came--"

"I didn't put it so, Mr. Arp."

"No, but you'd ought of!  You asked me to write you whatever news of
him should come, and if he came back to tell you how and when and all
about it.  And I did it, and kept you sharp on his record ever since he
landed here again.  Do you know why I've done it?  Do you know why I
promised so quick and easy I WOULD do it?"

"Out of the kindness of your heart, I think."

The acid laugh was repeated.  "NO, ma 'am! You couldn't of guessed
colder.  I promised, and I kept my promise, because I knew there would
never be anything good to tell!  AND THERE NEVER WAS!"

"Nothing at all?" she insisted, gravely.

"Never!  I leave it to you if I've written one good word of him."

"You've written of the treatment he has received here," she began, "and
I've been able to see what he has borne--and bears!"

"But have I written one word to show that he didn't deserve it all?
Haven't I told you everything, of his associates, his--"

"Indeed you have!"

"Then do you wonder that I was more surprised than most when I saw you
walking with him to-day?  Because I knew you did it in cold blood and
knowledge aforethought!  Other folks thought it was because you hadn't
been here long enough to hear his reputation, but I KNEW!"

"Tell me," she said, "if you were disappointed when you saw me with
him."

"Yes," he snapped.  "I was!"

"I thought so.  I saw the consternation in your face!  You APPROVED,
didn't you?"

"I don't know what you're talking about!"

"Yes, you do!  I know it bothers you to have me read you between the
lines, but for this once you must let me.  You are so consistent that
you are never disappointed when things turn out badly, or people are
wicked or foolish, are you?"

"No, certainly not.  I expect it."

"And you were disappointed in me to-day. Therefore, it must be that I
was doing something you knew was right and good.  You see?"  She leaned
a little closer to him, smiling angelically. "Ah, Mr. Arp," she cried,
"I know your secret: you ADMIRE me!"

He rose, confused and incoherent, as full of denial as a detected
pickpocket.  "I DON'T!  Me ADMIRE? WHAT?  It's an ornery world," he
protested. "I don't admire any human that ever lived!"

"Yes, you do," she persisted.  "I've just proved it!  But that is the
least of your secret; the great thing is this: YOU ADMIRE MR. LOUDEN!"

"I never heard such nonsense," he continued to protest, at the same
time moving down the walk toward the gate, leaning heavily on his
stick. "Nothin' of the kind.  There ain't any LOGIC to that kind of an
argument, nor no REASON!"

"You see, I understand you," she called after him.  "I'm sorry you go
away in the bitterness of being found out."

"Found out!"  His stick ceased for a moment to tap the cement.  "Pooh!"
he ejaculated, uneasily.  There was a pause, followed by a malevolent
chuckle.  "At any rate," he said, with joy in the afterthought, "you'll
never go walkin' with him AGAIN!"

He waited for the answer, which came, after a time, sadly.  "Perhaps
you are right.  Perhaps I shall not."

"Ha, I thought so!  Good-night."

"Good-night, Mr. Arp."


She turned toward the lighted house.  Through the windows nearest her
she could see Mamie, seated in the familiar chair, following with happy
and tender eyes the figure of Eugene, who was pacing up and down the
room.  The town was deadly quiet:  Ariel could hear the sound of
footsteps perhaps a block away.  She went to the gate and gazed a long
time into the empty street, watching the yellow grains of light, sieved
through the maples from the arc lights on the corner, moving to and fro
in the deep shadow as the lamp swung slightly in the night air.
Somewhere, not far away, the peace was broken by the screams of a
"parlor organ," which honked and wailed in pious agonies (the intention
was hymnal), interminably protracting each spasm.  Presently a woman's
voice outdid the organ, a voice which made vivid the picture of the
woman who owned it, and the ploughed forehead of her, above the
nose-glasses, when the "grace-notes" were proudly given birth.  "Rescue
the Perishing" was the startlingly appropriate selection, rendered with
inconceivable lingering upon each syllable:  "Roos-cyoo the
Poor-oosh-oong!"  At unexpected intervals two male voices, evidently
belonging to men who had contracted the habit of holding tin in their
mouths, joined the lady in a thorough search for the Lost Chord.

That was the last of silence in Canaan for an hour or so.  The organ
was merely inaugural: across the street a piano sounded; firm,
emphatic, determined, vocal competition with the instrument here also;
"Rock of Ages" the incentive.  Another piano presently followed suit,
in a neighboring house:  "Precious Jewels."  More distant, a second
organ was heard; other pianos, other organs, took up other themes; and
as a wakeful puppy's barking will go over a village at night, stirring
first the nearer dogs to give voice, these in turn stimulating those
farther away to join, one passing the excitement on to another, until
hounds in farm-yards far beyond the town contribute to the
long-distance conversation, even so did "Rescue the Perishing" enliven
the greater part of Canaan.

It was this that made Ariel realize a thing of which hitherto she had
not been able to convince herself: that she was actually once more in
the town where she had spent her long-ago girlhood; now grown to seem
the girlhood of some other person.  It was true: her foot was on her
native heath and her name was Ariel Tabor--the very name of the girl
who had shared the town's disapproval with Joe Louden!  "Rescue the
Perishing" brought it all back to her; and she listened to these
sharply familiar rites of the Canaanite Sabbath evening with a shiver
of pain.

She turned from the gate to go into the house, heard Eugene's voice at
the door, and paused.  He was saying good-night to Mamie.

"And please say 'au revoir' to Miss Tabor for me," he added, peering
out under his hand.  "I don't know where she can have gone."

"Probably she came in and went to her room," said Mamie.

"Don't forget to tell her 'au revoir.'"

"I won't, dear.  Good-night."

"Good-night."  She lifted her face and he kissed her perfunctorily.
Then he came down the steps and went slowly toward the gate, looking
about him into the darkness as if searching for something; but Ariel
had fled away from the path of light that led from the open door.

She skimmed noiselessly across the lawn and paused at the side of the
house, leaning against the veranda, where, on a night long past, a boy
had hid and a girl had wept.  A small creaking sound fell upon her ear,
and she made out an ungainly figure approaching, wheeling something of
curious shape.

"Is that you, Sam?" she said.

Mr. Warden stopped, close by.  "Yes'm," he replied.  "I'm a-gittin' out
de hose to lay de dus' yonnah."  He stretched an arm along the
cross-bar of the reel, relaxing himself, apparently, for conversation.
"Y'all done change consid'able, Miss Airil," he continued, with the
directness of one sure of privilege.

"You think so, Sam?"

"Yes'm.  Ev'ybody think so, _I_ reckon.  Be'n a tai'ble lot o' talkum
'bout you to-day.  Dun'no' how all dem oth' young ladies goin' take
it!"  He laughed with immoderate delight, yet, as to the volume of mere
sound, discreetly, with an eye to open windows.  "You got 'em all beat,
Miss Airil! Dey ain' be'n no one 'roun' dis town evah got in a thousum
mile o' you!  Fer looks, an' de way you walk an' ca'y yo'self; an' as
fer de clo'es--name o' de good lan', honey, dey ain' nevah SEE style
befo'! My ole woman say you got mo' fixin's in a minute dan de whole
res' of 'em got in a yeah.  She say when she helpin' you onpack she
must 'a' see mo'n a hunerd paihs o' slippahs alone!  An' de good Man
knows I 'membuh w'en you runnin' roun' back-yods an' up de alley
rompin' 'ith Joe Louden, same you's a boy!"

"Do you ever see Mr. Louden, nowadays?" she asked.

His laugh was repeated with the same discreet violence.  "Ain' I seen
him dis ve'y day, fur up de street at de gate yonnah, stan'in' 'ith
you, w'en I drivin' de Judge?"

"You--you didn't happen to see him anywhere this--this afternoon?"

"No'm, I ain' SEE him."  Sam's laughter vanished and his lowered voice
became serious.  "I ain' SEE him, but I hearn about him."

"What did you hear?"

"Dey be'n consid'able stir on de aidge o' town, I reckon," he answered,
gravely, "an' dey be'n havin' some trouble out at de Beach--"

"Beaver Beach, do you mean?"

"Yes'm.  Dey be'n some shootin' goin' on out dat way."

She sprang forward and caught at his arm without speaking.

"Joe Louden all right," he said, reassuringly. "Ain' nuffum happen to
him!  Nigh as I kin mek out f'm de TALK, dat Happy Fear gone on de
ramPAGE ag'in, an' dey hatta sent fer Mist' Louden to come in a hurry."



XIV

WHITE ROSES IN A LAW-OFFICE

As upon a world canopied with storm, hung with mourning purple and
habited in black, did Mr. Flitcroft turn his morning face at eight
o'clock antemeridian Monday, as he hied himself to his daily duty at
the Washington National Bank.  Yet more than the merely funereal
gloomed out from the hillocky area of his countenance.  Was there not,
i'faith, a glow, a Vesuvian shimmer, beneath the murk of that darkling
eye? Was here one, think you, to turn the other cheek? Little has he
learned of Norbert Flitcroft who conceives that this fiery spirit was
easily to be quenched!  Look upon the jowl of him, and let him who
dares maintain that people--even the very Pikes themselves--were to
grind beneath their brougham wheels a prostrate Norbert and ride on
scatheless! In this his own metaphor is nearly touched "I guess not!
They don't run over ME!  Martin Pike better look out how he tries it!"

So Mother Nature at her kindly tasks, good Norbert, uses for her
unguent our own perfect inconsistency: and often when we are stabbed
deep in the breast she distracts us by thin scratches in other parts,
that in the itch of these we may forget the greater hurt till it be
healed.  Thus, the remembrance of last night, when you undisguisedly
ran from the wrath of a Pike, with a pretty girl looking on (to say
nothing of the acrid Arp, who will fling the legend on a thousand
winds), might well agonize you now, as, in less hasty moments and at a
safe distance, you brood upon the piteous figure you cut.  On the
contrary, behold: you see no blood crimsoning the edges of the horrid
gash in your panoply of self-esteem: you but smart and scratch the
scratches, forgetting your wound in the hot itch for vengeance.  It is
an itch which will last (for in such matters your temper shall be
steadfast), and let the great Goliath in the mean time beware of you!
You ran, last night.  You ran--of course you ran.  Why not?  You ran to
fight another day!

A bank clerk sometimes has opportunities.

The stricken fat one could not understand how it came about that he had
blurted out the damning confession that he had visited Beaver Beach.
When he tried to solve the puzzle, his mind refused the strain, became
foggy and the terrors of his position acute.  Was he, like Joe Louden,
to endure the ban of Canaan, and like him stand excommunicate beyond
the pale because of Martin Pike's displeasure?  For Norbert saw with
perfect clearness to-day what the Judge had done for Joe. Now that he
stood in danger of a fate identical, this came home to him.  How many
others, he wondered, would do as Mamie had done and write notes such as
he had received by the hand of Sam Warden, late last night?


"DEAR SIR."  (This from Mamie, who, in the Canaanitish way, had been
wont to address him as "Norb"!)--"My father wishes me to state that
after your remark yesterday afternoon on the steps which was overheard
by my mother who happened to be standing in the hall behind you and
your BEHAVIOR to himself later on--he considers it impossible to allow
you to call any more or to speak to any member of his household.

               "Yours respectfully,
                                 "MAMIE PIKE."


Erasures and restorations bore witness to a considerable doubt in
Mamie's mind concerning "Yours respectfully," but she had finally let
it stand, evidently convinced that the plain signature, without
preface, savored of an intimacy denied by the context.

"'DEAR SIR'!" repeated Norbert, between set teeth.  "'IMPOSSIBLE TO
ALLOW YOU TO CALL any more'!" These and other terms of his dismissal
recurred to him during the morning, and ever and anon he looked up from
his desk, his lips moving to the tune of those horrid phrases, and
stared out at the street. Basilisk glaring this, with no Christian
softness in it, not even when it fell upon his own grandfather, sitting
among the sages within easy eye-shot from the big window at Norbert's
elbow.  However, Colonel Flitcroft was not disturbed by the gaze of his
descendant, being, in fact, quite unaware of it.  The aged men were
having a busy morning.

The conclave was not what it had been.  [See Arp and all his works.]
There had come, as the years went by, a few recruits; but faces were
missing: the two Tabors had gone, and Uncle Joe Davey could no longer
lay claim to the patriarchship; he had laid it down with a half-sigh
and gone his way. Eskew himself was now the oldest of the conscript
fathers, the Colonel and Squire Buckalew pressing him closely, with
Peter Bradbury no great time behind.

To-day they did not plant their feet upon the brass rail inside the
hotel windows, but courted the genial weather out-doors, and, as their
summer custom was, tilted back their chairs in the shade of the western
wall of the building.

"And who could of dreamed," Mr. Bradbury was saying, with a side-glance
of expectancy at Eskew, "that Jonas Tabor would ever turn out to have a
niece like that!"

Mr. Arp ceased to fan himself with his wide straw hat and said grimly:

"I don't see as Jonas HAS 'turned out'--not in particular!  If he's
turned at all, lately, I reckon it's in his grave, and I'll bet he HAS
if he had any way of hearin' how much she must of spent for clothes!"

"I believe," Squire Buckalew began, "that young folks' memories are
short."

"They're lucky!" interjected Eskew.  "The shorter your memory the less
meanness you know."

"I meant young folks don't remember as well as older people do,"
continued the Squire.  "I don't see what's so remarkable in her comin'
back and walkin' up-street with Joe Louden.  She used to go kitin'
round with him all the time, before she left here.  And yet everybody
talks as if they never HEARD of sech a thing!"

"It seems to me," said Colonel Flitcroft, hesitatingly, "that she did
right.  I know it sounds kind of a queer thing to say, and I stirred up
a good deal of opposition at home, yesterday evening, by sort of
mentioning something of the kind.  Nobody seemed to agree with me,
except Norbert, and he didn't SAY much, but--"

He was interrupted by an uncontrollable cackle which issued from the
mouth of Mr. Arp.  The Colonel turned upon him with a frown, inquiring
the cause of his mirth.

"It put me in mind," Mr. Arp began promptly, "of something that
happened last night."

"What was it?"

Eskew's mouth was open to tell, but he remembered, just in time, that
the grandfather of Norbert was not the audience properly to be selected
for this recital, choked a half-born word, coughed loudly, realizing
that he must withhold the story of the felling of Martin Pike until the
Colonel had taken his departure, and replied:

"Nothin' to speak of.  Go on with your argument."

"I've finished," said the Colonel.  "I only wanted to say that it seems
to me a good action for a young lady like that to come back here and
stick to her old friend and playmate."

"STICK to him!" echoed Mr. Arp.  "She walked up Main Street with him
yesterday.  Do you call that stickin' to him?  She's been away a good
while; she's forgotten what Canaan IS.  You wait till she sees for
herself jest what his standing in this com--"

"I agree with Eskew for once," interrupted Peter Bradbury.  "I agree
because--"

"Then you better wait," cried Eskew, allowing him to proceed no
farther, "till you hear what you're agreein' to!  I say: you take a
young lady like that, pretty and rich and all cultured up, and it
stands to reason that she won't--"

"No, it don't," exclaimed Buckalew, impatiently. "Nothing of the sort!
I tell you--"

Eskew rose to his feet and pounded the pavement with his stick.  "It
stands to reason that she won't stick to a man no other decent woman
will speak to, a feller that's been the mark for every stone throwed in
the town, ever since he was a boy, an outcast with a reputation as
black as a preacher's shoes on Sunday!  I don't care if he's her oldest
friend on EARTH, she won't stick to him!  She walked with him
yesterday, but you can mark my words: his goose is cooked!"  The old
man's voice rose, shrill and high.  "It ain't in human nature fer her
to do it! You hear what I say: you'll never see her with Joe Louden
again in this livin' world, and she as good as told me so, herself,
last night.  You can take your oath she's quit him already!  Don't--"

Eskew paused abruptly, his eyes widening behind his spectacles; his jaw
fell; his stick, raised to hammer the pavement, remained suspended in
the air.  A sudden color rushed over his face, and he dropped
speechless in his chair.  The others, after staring at him in momentary
alarm, followed the direction of his gaze.

Just across Main Street, and in plain view, was the entrance to the
stairway which led to Joe's office. Ariel Tabor, all in cool gray,
carrying a big bunch of white roses in her white-gloved hands, had just
crossed the sidewalk from a carriage and was ascending the dark
stairway.  A moment later she came down again, empty-handed, got into
the carriage, and drove away.

"She missed him," said Squire Buckalew.  "I saw him go out half an hour
ago.  BUT," he added, and, exercising a self-restraint close upon the
saintly, did not even glance toward the heap which was Mr. Arp, "I
notice she left her flowers!"


Ariel was not the only one who climbed the dingy stairs that day and
read the pencilled script upon Joe's door:  "Will not return until
evening.  J. Louden."  Many others came, all exceedingly unlike the
first visitor: some were quick and watchful, dodging into the narrow
entrance furtively; some smiled contemptuously as long as they were in
view of the street, drooping wanly as they reached the stairs: some
were brazen and amused; and some were thin and troubled.  Not all of
them read the message, for not all could read, but all looked curiously
through the half-opened door at the many roses which lifted their heads
delicately from a water-pitcher on Joe's desk to scent that dusty place
with their cool breath.

Most of these clients, after a grunt of disappointment, turned and went
away; though there were a few, either unable to read the message or so
pressed by anxiety that they disregarded it, who entered the room and
sat down to wait for the absentee.  [There were plenty of chairs in the
office now, bookcases also, and a big steel safe.] But when evening
came and the final gray of twilight had vanished from the window-panes,
all had gone except one, a woman who sat patiently, her eyes upon the
floor, and her hands folded in her lap, until the footsteps of the last
of the others to depart had ceased to sound upon the pavement below.
Then, with a wordless exclamation, she sprang to her feet, pulled the
window-shade carefully down to the sill, and, when she had done that,
struck a match on the heel of her shoe--a soiled white canvas shoe, not
a small one--and applied the flame to a gas jet.  The yellow light
flared up; and she began to pace the room haggardly.

The court-house bell rang nine, and as the tremors following the last
stroke pulsed themselves into silence, she heard a footfall on the
stairs and immediately relapsed into a chair, folding her hands again
in her lap, her expression composing itself to passivity, for the step
was very much lighter than Joe's.

A lady beautifully dressed in white dimity appeared in the doorway.
She hesitated at the threshold, not, apparently, because of any
timidity (her expression being too thoughtfully assured for that), but
almost immediately she came in and seated herself near the desk,
acknowledging the other's presence by a slight inclination of the head.

This grave courtesy caused a strong, deep flush to spread itself under
the rouge which unevenly covered the woman's cheeks, as she bowed
elaborately in return.  Then, furtively, during a protracted silence,
she took stock of the new-comer, from the tip of her white suede shoes
to the filmy lace and pink roses upon her wide white hat; and the
sidelong gaze lingered marvellingly upon the quiet, delicate hands,
slender and finely expressive, in their white gloves.

Her own hands, unlike the lady's, began to fidget confusedly, and, the
silence continuing, she coughed several times, to effect the preface
required by her sense of fitness, before she felt it proper to observe,
with a polite titter:

"Mr. Louden seems to be a good while comin'."

"Have you been waiting very long?" asked the lady.

"Ever since six o'clock!"

"Yes," said the other.  "That is very long."

"Yes, ma'am, it cert'nly is."  The ice thus broken, she felt free to
use her eyes more directly, and, after a long, frank stare, exclaimed:

"Why, you must be Miss Ariel Tabor, ain't you?"

"Yes."  Ariel touched one of the roses upon Joe's desk with her
finger-tips.  "I am Miss Tabor."

"Well, excuse me fer asking; I'm sure it ain't any business of mine,"
said the other, remembering the manners due one lady from another.
"But I thought it must be.  I expect," she added, with loud,
inconsequent laughter, "there's not many in Canaan ain't heard you've
come back."  She paused, laughed again, nervously, and again, less
loudly, to take off the edge of her abruptness: gradually tittering
herself down to a pause, to fill which she put forth:  "Right nice
weather we be'n havin'."

"Yes," said Ariel.

"It was rainy, first of last week, though.  _I_ don't mind rain so
much"--this with more laughter,--"I stay in the house when it rains.
Some people don't know enough to, they say!  You've heard that saying,
ain't you, Miss Tabor?"

"Yes."

"Well, I tell YOU," she exclaimed, noisily, "there's plenty ladies and
gen'lemen in this town that's like that!"

Her laughter did not cease; it became louder and shriller.  It had
been, until now, a mere lubrication of the conversation, helping to
make her easier in Miss Tabor's presence, but as it increased in
shrillness, she seemed to be losing control of herself, as if her
laughter were getting away with her; she was not far from hysteria,
when it stopped with a gasp, and she sat up straight in her chair,
white and rigid.

"THERE!" she said, listening intently.  "Ain't that him?"  Steps
sounded upon the pavement below; paused for a second at the foot of the
stairs; there was the snap of a match; then the steps sounded again,
retreating.  She sank back in her chair limply.  "It was only some one
stoppin' to light his cigar in the entry.  It wasn't Joe Louden's step,
anyway."

"You know his step?" Ariel's eyes were bent upon the woman wonderingly.

"I'd know it to-night," was the answer, delivered with a sharp and
painful giggle.  "I got plenty reason to!"

Ariel did not respond.  She leaned a little closer to the roses upon
the desk, letting them touch her face, and breathing deeply of their
fragrance to neutralize a perfume which pervaded the room; an odor as
heavy and cheap-sweet as the face of the woman who had saturated her
handkerchief with it, a scent which went with her perfectly and made
her unhappily definite; suited to her clumsily dyed hair, to her soiled
white shoes, to the hot red hat smothered in plumage, to the restless
stub-fingered hands, to the fat, plated rings, of which she wore a
great quantity, though, surprisingly enough, the large diamonds in her
ears were pure, and of a very clear water.

It was she who broke the silence once more. "Well," she drawled,
coughing genteelly at the same time, "better late than never, as the
saying is.  I wonder who it is gits up all them comical sayings?"
Apparently she had no genuine desire for light upon this mystery, as
she continued, immediately:  "I have a gen'leman friend that's always
gittin' 'em off.  'Well,' he says, 'the best of friends must part,'
and, 'Thou strikest me to the heart'--all kinds of cracks like that.
He's real comical.  And yet," she went on in an altered voice, "I don't
like him much.  I'd be glad if I'd never seen him."

The change of tone was so marked that Ariel looked at her keenly, to
find herself surprised into pitying this strange client of Joe's; for
tears had sprung to the woman's eyes and slid along the lids, where she
tried vainly to restrain them.  Her face had altered too, like her
voice, haggard lines suddenly appearing about the eyes and mouth as if
they had just been pencilled there: the truth issuing from beneath her
pinchbeck simulations, like a tragic mask revealed by the displacement
of a tawdry covering.

"I expect you think I'm real foolish," she said, "but I be'n waitin' so
awful long--and I got a good deal of worry on my mind till I see Mr.
Louden."

"I am sorry," Ariel turned from the roses, and faced her and the heavy
perfume.  "I hope he will come soon."

"I hope so," said the other.  "It's something to do with me that keeps
him away, and the longer he is the more it scares me."  She shivered
and set her teeth together.  "It's kind of hard, waitin'.  I cert'nly
got my share of troubles."

"Don't you think that Mr. Louden will be able to take care of them for
you?"

"Oh, I HOPE so, Miss Tabor!  If he can't, nobody can."  She was crying
openly now, wiping her eyes with her musk-soaked handkerchief.  "We had
to send fer him yesterday afternoon--"

"To come to Beaver Beach, do you mean?" asked Ariel, leaning forward.

"Yes, ma'am.  It all begun out there,--least-ways it begun before that
with me.  It was all my fault.  I deserve all that's comin' to me, I
guess.  I done wrong--I done wrong!  I'd oughtn't never to of went out
there yesterday."

She checked herself sharply, but, after a moment's pause, continued,
encouraged by the grave kindliness of the delicate face in the shadow
of the wide white hat.  "I'd oughtn't to of went," she repeated.  "Oh,
I reckon I'll never, never learn enough to keep out o' trouble, even
when I see it comin'!  But that gentleman friend of mine--Mr. Nashville
Cory's his name--he kind o' coaxed me into it, and he's right comical
when he's with ladies, and he's good company--and he says, 'Claudine,
we'll dance the light fantastic,' he says, and I kind o' wanted
something cheerful--I'd be'n workin' steady quite a spell, and it
looked like he wanted to show me a good time, so I went, and that's
what started it."  Now that she had begun, she babbled on with her
story, at times incoherently; full of excuses, made to herself more
than to Ariel, pitifully endeavoring to convince herself that the
responsibility for the muddle she had made was not hers.

"Mr. Cory told me my husband was drinkin' and wouldn't know about it,
and, 'Besides,' he says, 'what's the odds?'  Of course I knowed there
was trouble between him and Mr. Fear--that's my husband--a good while
ago, when Mr. Fear up and laid him out.  That was before me and Mr.
Fear got married; I hadn't even be'n to Canaan then; I was on the
stage.  I was on the stage quite a while in Chicago before I got
acquainted with my husband."

"You were on the stage?" Ariel exclaimed, involuntarily.

"Yes, ma'am.  Livin' pitchers at Goldberg's Rat'skeller, and amunchoor
nights I nearly always done a sketch with a gen'leman friend.  That's
the way I met Mr. Fear; he seemed to be real struck with me right away,
and soon as I got through my turn he ast me to order whatever I wanted.
He's always gen'lemanlike when he ain't had too much, and even then he
vurry, vurry seldom acks rough unless he's jealous.  That was the
trouble yesterday. I never would of gone to the Beach if I'd dreamed
what was comin'!  When we got there I saw Mike--that's the gen'leman
that runs the Beach--lookin' at my company and me kind of anxious, and
pretty soon he got me away from Mr. Cory and told me what's what.
Seems this Cory only wanted me to go with him to make my husband mad,
and he'd took good care that Mr. Fear heard I'd be there with him!  And
he'd be'n hangin' around me, every time he struck town, jest to make
Mr. Fear mad--the fresh thing!  You see he wanted to make my husband
start something again, this Mr. Cory did, and he was fixed for it."

"I don't understand," said Ariel.

"It's this way: if Mr. Fear attacted Mr. Cory, why, Mr. Cory could
shoot him down and claim self-defence.  You see, it would be easy for
Mr. Cory, because Mr Fear nearly killed him when they had their first
trouble, and that would give Mr. Cory a good excuse to shoot if Mr.
Fear jest only pushed him.  That's the way it is with the law.  Mr.
Cory could wipe out their old score and git off scot-free."

"Surely not!"

"Yes, ma'am, that's the way it would be.  And when Mike told me that
Mr. Cory had got me out there jest to provoke my husband I went
straight up to him and begun to give him a piece of my mind. I didn't
talk loud, because I never was one to make a disturbance and start
trouble the way SOME do; and right while I was talkin' we both see my
husband pass the window.  Mr. Cory give a kind of yelling laugh and put
his arm round me jest as Mr. Fear come in the door.  And then it all
happened so quick that you could hardly tell what WAS goin' on.  Mr.
Fear, we found afterwards, had promised Mr. Louden that he wouldn't
come out there, but he took too much--you could see that by the look of
him--and fergot his promise; fergot everything but me and Cory, I guess.

"He come right up to us, where I was tryin' to git away from Cory's
arm--it was the left one he had around me, and the other behind his
back--and neither of 'em said a word.  Cory kept on laughin' loud as he
could, and Mr. Fear struck him in the mouth.  He's little, but he can
hit awful hard, and Mr. Cory let out a screech, and I see his gun go
off--right in Mr. Fear's face, I thought, but it wasn't; it only
scorched him.  Most of the other gen'lemen had run, but Mike made a
dive and managed to knock the gun to one side, jest barely in time.
Then Mike and three or four others that come out from behind things
separated 'em--both of 'em fightin' to git at each other.  They locked
Mr. Cory up in Mike's room, and took Mr. Fear over to where they hitch
the horses.  Then Mike sent fer Mr. Louden to come out to talk to my
husband and take care of him--he's the only one can do anything with
him when he's like that--but before Mr. Louden could git there, Mr.
Fear broke loose and run through a corn-field and got away; at least
they couldn't find him.  And Mr. Cory jumped through a window and slid
down into one of Mike's boats, so they'd both gone.  When Mr. Louden
come, he only stayed long enough to hear what had happened and started
out to find Happy--that's my husband. He's bound to keep them apart,
but he hasn't found Mr. Fear yet or he'd be here."

Ariel had sunk back in her chair.  "Why should your husband hide?" she
asked, in a low voice.

"Waitin' fer his chance at Cory," the woman answered, huskily.  "I
expect he's afraid the cops are after him, too, on account of the
trouble, and he doesn't want to git locked up till he's met Cory again.
They ain't after him, but he may not know it.  They haven't heard of
the trouble, I reckon, or they'd of run Cory in.  HE'S around town
to-day, drinkin' heavy, and I guess he's lookin' fer Mr. Fear about as
hard as Mr. Louden is."  She rose to her feet, lifted her coarse hands,
and dropped them despairingly.  "Oh, I'm scared!" she said.  "Mr.
Fear's be'n mighty good to me."

A slow and tired footstep was heard upon the stairs, and Joe's dog ran
into the room droopingly, wagged his tail with no energy, and crept
under the desk.  Mrs. Fear wheeled toward the door and stood, rigid,
her hands clenched tight, her whole body still, except her breast,
which rose and fell with her tumultuous breathing.  She could not wait
till the laggard step reached the landing.

"MR. LOUDEN!" she called, suddenly.

Joe's voice came from the stairway.  "It's all right, Claudine.  It's
all fixed up.  Don't worry."

Mrs. Fear gave a thick cry of relief and sank back in her chair as Joe
entered the room.  He came in shamblingly, with his hand over his eyes
as if they were very tired and the light hurt them, so that, for a
moment or two, he did not perceive the second visitor.  Then he let his
hand fall, revealing a face very white and worn.

"It's all right, Claudine," he repeated.  "It's all right."

He was moving to lay his hat on the desk when his eye caught first the
roses, then fell upon Ariel, and he stopped stock-still with one arm
outstretched, remaining for perhaps ten seconds in that attitude, while
she, her lips parted, her eyes lustrous, returned his gaze with a look
that was as inscrutable as it was kind.

"Yes," she said, as if in answer to a question, "I have come here twice
to-day."  She nodded slightly toward Mrs. Fear.  "I can wait.  I am
very glad you bring good news."

Joe turned dazedly toward the other.  "Claudine," he said, "you've been
telling Miss Tabor."

"I cert'nly have!" Mrs. Fear's expression had cleared and her tone was
cheerful.  "I don't see no harm in that!  I'm sure she's a good friend
of YOURS, Mr. Louden."

Joe glanced at Ariel with a faint, troubled smile, and turned again to
Mrs. Fear.  "I've had a long talk with Happy."

"I'm awful glad.  Is he ready to listen to reason? she asked, with a
titter.

"He's waiting for you."

"Where?"  She rose quickly.

"Stop," said Joe, sharply.  "You must be very careful with him--"

"Don't you s'pose I'm goin' to be?" she interrupted, with a catch in
her voice.  "Don't you s'pose I've had trouble enough?"

"No," said Joe, deliberately and impersonally, "I don't.  Unless you
keep remembering to be careful all the time, you'll follow the first
impulse you have, as you did yesterday, and your excuse will be that
you never thought any harm would come of it.  He's in a queer mood; but
he will forgive you if you ask him--"

"Well, ain't that what I WANT to do!" she exclaimed.

"I know, I know," he said, dropping into the desk-chair and passing his
hand over his eyes with a gesture of infinite weariness.  "But you must
be very careful.  I hunted for him most of the night and all day.  He
was trying to keep out of my way because he didn't want me to find him
until he had met this fellow Nashville.  Happy is a hard man to come at
when he doesn't care to be found, and he kept shifting from place to
place until I ran him down.  Then I got him in a corner and told him
that you hadn't meant any harm--which is always true of you, poor
woman!--and I didn't leave him till he had promised me to forgive you
if you would come and ask him.  And you must keep him out of Cory's way
until I can arrange to have him--Cory, I mean--sent out of town.  Will
you?"

"Why, cert'nly," she answered, smiling.  "That Nashville's the vurry
last person I ever want to see again--the fresh thing!" Mrs. Fear's
burden had fallen; her relief was perfect and she beamed vapidly; but
Joe marked her renewed irresponsibility with an anxious eye.

"You mustn't make any mistakes," he said, rising stiffly with fatigue.

"Not ME!  _I_ don't take no more chances," she responded, tittering
happily.  "Not after yesterday. MY! but it's a load off my shoulders!
I do hate it to have gen'lemen quarrelling over me, especially Mr.
Fear.  I never DID like to START anything; I like to see people laugh
and be friendly, and I'm mighty glad it's all blown over.  I kind o'
thought it would, all along.  PSHO!" She burst into genuine, noisy
laughter.  "I don't expect either of 'em meant no real harm to each
other, after they got cooled off a little!  If they'd met to-day,
they'd probably both run!  Now, Mr. Louden, where's Happy?"

Joe went to the door with her.  He waited a moment, perplexed, then his
brow cleared and he said in a low voice:  "You know the alley beyond
Vent Miller's pool-room?  Go down the alley till you come to the second
gate.  Go in, and you'll see a basement door opening into a little room
under Miller's bar.  The door won't be locked, and Happy's in there
waiting for you.  But remember--"

"Oh, don't you worry," she cut him off, loudly. "I know HIM!  Inside of
an hour I'll have him LAUGHIN' over all this.  You'll see!"

When she had gone, he stood upon the landing looking thoughtfully after
her.  "Perhaps, after all, that is the best mood to let her meet him
in," he murmured.

Then, with a deep breath, he turned.  The heavy perfume had gone; the
air was clear and sweet, and Ariel was pressing her face into the roses
again.  As he saw how like them she was, he was shaken with a profound
and mysterious sigh, like that which moves in the breast of one who
listens in the dark to his dearest music.



XV

HAPPY FEAR GIVES HIMSELF UP

"I know how tired you are," said Ariel, as he came back into the room.
"I shall not keep you long."

"Ah, please do!" he returned, quickly, beginning to fumble with the
shade of a student-lamp at one end of the desk.

"Let me do that," she said.  "Sit down."  He obeyed at once, and
watched her as she lit the lamp, and, stretching upon tiptoe, turned
out the gas. "No," she continued, seated again and looking across the
desk at him, "I wanted to see you at the first possible opportunity,
but what I have to say--"

"Wait," he interrupted.  "Let me tell you why I did not come yesterday."

"You need not tell me.  I know."  She glanced at the chair which had
been occupied by Mrs. Fear. "I knew last night that they had sent for
you."

"You did?" he exclaimed.  "Ah, I understand. Sam Warden must have told
you."

"Yes," she said.  "It was he; and I have been wondering ever since how
he heard of it.  He knew last night, but there was nothing in the
papers this morning; and until I came here I heard no one else speak of
it; yet Canaan is not large."

Joe laughed.  "It wouldn't seem strange if you lived with the Canaan
that I do.  Sam had been down-town during the afternoon and had met
friends; the colored people are a good deal like a freemasonry, you
know.  A great many knew last night all about what had happened, and
had their theories about what might happen to-day in case the two men
met.  Still, you see, those who knew, also knew just what people not to
tell.  The Tocsin is the only newspaper worth the name here; but even
if the Tocsin had known of the trouble, it wouldn't have been likely to
mention it.  That's a thing I don't understand."  He frowned and rubbed
the back of his head.  "There's something underneath it.  For more than
a year the Tocsin hasn't spoken of Beaver Beach.  I'd like to know why."

"Joe," she said, slowly, "tell me something truly.  A man said to me
yesterday that he found life here insufferable.  Do you find it so?"

"Why, no!" he answered, surprised.

"Do you hate Canaan?"

"Certainly not."

"You don't find it dull, provincial, unsympathetic?"

He laughed cheerily.  "Well, there's this," he explained:  "I have an
advantage over your friend. I see a more interesting side of things
probably. The people I live among are pretty thorough cosmopolites in a
way, and the life I lead--"

"I think I begin to understand a little about the life you lead," she
interrupted.  "Then you don't complain of Canaan?"

"Of course not."

She threw him a quick, bright, happy look, then glanced again at the
chair in which Mrs. Fear had sat.  "Joe," she said, "last night I heard
the people singing in the houses, the old Sunday-evening way.  It 'took
me back so'!"

"Yes, it would.  And something else: there's one hymn they sing more
than any other; it's Canaan's favorite.  Do you know what it is?"

"Is it 'Rescue the Perishing'?"

"That's it.  'Rescue the Perishing'!" he cried, and repeating the words
again, gave forth a peal of laughter so hearty that it brought tears to
his eyes.  "'RESCUE THE PERISHING'!"

At first she did not understand his laughter, but, after a moment, she
did, and joined her own to it, though with a certain tremulousness.

"It IS funny, isn't it?" said Joe, wiping the moisture from his eyes.
Then all trace of mirth left him.  "Is it really YOU, sitting here and
laughing with me, Ariel?"

"It seems to be," she answered, in a low voice. "I'm not at all sure."

"You didn't think, yesterday afternoon," he began, almost in a
whisper,--"you didn't think that I had failed to come because I--"  He
grew very red, and shifted the sentence awkwardly:  "I was afraid you
might think that I was--that I didn't come because I might have been
the same way again that I was when--when I met you at the station?"

"Oh no!" she answered, gently.  "No.  I knew better."

"And do you know," he faltered, "that that is all over?  That it can
never happen again?"

"Yes, I know it," she returned, quickly.

"Then you know a little of what I owe you."

"No, no," she protested.

"Yes," he said.  "You've made that change in me already.  It wasn't
hard--it won't be--though it might have been if--if you hadn't come
soon."

"Tell me something," she demanded.  "If these people had not sent for
you yesterday, would you have come to Judge Pike's house to see me?
You said you would try."  She laughed a little, and looked away from
him.  "I want to know if you would have come."

There was a silence, and in spite of her averted glance she knew that
he was looking at her steadily. Finally, "Don't you know?" he said.

She shook her head and blushed faintly.

"Don't you know?" he repeated.

She looked up and met his eyes, and thereupon both became very grave.
"Yes, I do," she answered.  "You would have come.  When you left me at
the gate and went away, you were afraid. But you would have come."

"Yes,--I'd have come.  You are right.  I was afraid at first; but I
knew," he went on, rapidly, "that you would have come to the gate to
meet me."

"You understood that?" she cried, her eyes sparkling and her face
flushing happily.

"Yes.  I knew that you wouldn't have asked me to come," he said, with a
catch in his voice which was half chuckle, half groan, "if you hadn't
meant to take care of me!  And it came to me that you would know how to
do it."

She leaned back in her chair, and again they laughed together, but only
for a moment, becoming serious and very quiet almost instantly.

"I haven't thanked you for the roses," he said.

"Oh yes, you did.  When you first looked at them!"

"So I did," he whispered.  "I'm glad you saw. To find them here took my
breath away--and to find you with them--"

"I brought them this morning, you know."

"Would you have come if you had not understood why I failed yesterday?"

"Oh yes, I think so," she returned, the fine edge of a smile upon her
lips.  "For a time last evening, before I heard what had happened, I
thought you were too frightened a friend to bother about."

He made a little ejaculation, partly joyful, partly sad.

"And yet," she went on, "I think that I should have come this morning,
after all, even if you had a poorer excuse for your absence, because,
you see, I came on business."

"You did?"

"That's why I've come again.  That makes it respectable for me to be
here now, doesn't it?--for me to have come out alone after dark without
their knowing it?  I'm here as your client, Joe."

"Why?" he asked.

She did not answer at once, but picked up a pen from beneath her hand
on the desk, and turning it, meditatively felt its point with her
forefinger before she said slowly, "Are most men careful of other
people's--well, of other people's money?"

"You mean Martin Pike?" he asked.

"Yes.  I want you to take charge of everything I have for me."

He bent a frowning regard upon the lamp-shade. "You ought to look after
your own property," he said.  "You surely have plenty of time."

"You mean--you mean you won't help me?" she returned, with intentional
pathos.

"Ariel!" he laughed, shortly, in answer; then asked, "What makes you
think Judge Pike isn't trustworthy?"

"Nothing very definite perhaps, unless it was his look when I told him
that I meant to ask you to take charge of things for me."

"He's been rather hard pressed this year, I think," said Joe.  "You
might be right--if he could have found a way.  I hope he hasn't."

"I'm afraid," she began, gayly, "that I know very little of my own
affairs.  He sent me a draft every three months, with receipts and
other things to sign and return to him.  I haven't the faintest notion
of what I own--except the old house and some money from the income that
I hadn't used and brought with me.  Judge Pike has all the
papers--everything."

Joe looked troubled.  "And Roger Tabor, did he--"

"The dear man!" She shook her head.  "He was just the same.  To him
poor Uncle Jonas's money seemed to come from heaven through the hands
of Judge Pike--"

"And there's a handsome roundabout way!" said Joe.

"Wasn't it!" she agreed, cheerfully.  "And he trusted the Judge
absolutely.  I don't, you see."

He gave her a thoughtful look and nodded. "No, he isn't a good man," he
said, "not even according to his lights; but I doubt if he could have
managed to get away with anything of consequence after he became the
administrator.  He wouldn't have tried it, probably, unless he was more
desperately pushed than I think he has been. It would have been too
dangerous.  Suppose you wait a week or so and think it over."

"But there's something I want you to do for me immediately, Joe."

"What's that?"

"I want the old house put in order.  I'm going to live there."

"Alone?"

"I'm almost twenty-seven, and that's being enough of an old maid for me
to risk Canaan's thinking me eccentric, isn't it?"

"It will think anything you do is all right."

"And once," she cried, "it thought everything I did all wrong!"

"Yes.  That's the difference."

"You mean it will commend me because I'm thought rich?"

"No, no," he said, meditatively, "it isn't that. It's because everybody
will be in love with you."

"Quite everybody!" she asked.

"Certainly," he replied.  "Anybody who didn't would be absurd."

"Ah, Joe!" she laughed.  "You always were the nicest boy in the world,
my dear!"

At that he turned toward her with a sudden movement and his lips
parted, but not to speak. She had rested one arm upon the desk, and her
cheek upon her hand; the pen she had picked up, still absently held in
her fingers, touching her lips; and it was given to him to know that he
would always keep that pen, though he would never write with it again.
The soft lamplight fell across the lower part of her face, leaving her
eyes, which were lowered thoughtfully, in the shadow of her hat.  The
room was blotted out in darkness behind her.  Like the background of an
antique portrait, the office, with its dusty corners and shelves and
hideous safe, had vanished, leaving the charming and thoughtful face
revealed against an even, spacious brownness.  Only Ariel and the roses
and the lamp were clear; and a strange, small pain moved from Joe's
heart to his throat, as he thought that this ugly office, always before
so harsh and grim and lonely--loneliest for him when it had been most
crowded,--was now transfigured into something very, very different from
an office; that this place where he sat, with a lamp and flowers on a
desk between him and a woman who called him "my dear," must be
like--like something that people called "home."

And then he leaned across the desk toward her, as he said again what he
had said a little while before,--and his voice trembled:

"Ariel, it IS you?"

She looked at him and smiled.

"You'll be here always, won't you?  You're not going away from Canaan
again?"

For a moment it seemed that she had not heard him.  Then her bright
glance at him wavered and fell.  She rose, turning slightly away from
him, but not so far that he could not see the sudden agitation in her
face.

"Ah!" he cried, rising too, "I don't want you to think I don't
understand, or that I meant _I_ should ever ask you to stay here!  I
couldn't mean that; you know I couldn't, don't you?  You know I
understand that it's all just your beautiful friendliness, don't you?"

"It isn't beautiful; it's just ME, Joe," she said. "It couldn't be any
other way."

"It's enough that you should be here now," he went on, bravely, his
voice steady, though his hand shook.  "Nothing so wonderful as your
staying could ever actually happen.  It's just a light coming into a
dark room and out again.  One day, long ago--I never forgot it--some
apple-blossoms blew by me as I passed an orchard; and it's like that,
too.  But, oh, my dear, when you go you'll leave a fragrance in my
heart that will last!"

She turned toward him, her face suffused with a rosy light.  "You'd
rather have died than have said that to me once," she cried.  "I'm glad
you're weak enough now to confess it!"

He sank down again into his chair and his arms fell heavily on the
desk.  "Confess it!" he cried, despairingly.  "And you don't deny that
you're going away again--so it's true!  I wish I hadn't realized it so
soon.  I think I'd rather have tried to fool myself about it a little
longer!"

"Joe," she cried, in a voice of great pain, "you mustn't feel like
that!  How do you know I'm going away again?  Why should I want the old
house put in order unless I mean to stay?  And if I went, you know that
I could never change; you know how I've always cared for you--"

"Yes," he said, "I do know how.  It was always the same and it always
will be, won't it?"

"I've shown that," she returned, quickly.

"Yes.  You say I know how you've cared for me--and I do.  I know HOW.
It's just in one certain way--Jonathan and David--"

"Isn't that a pretty good way, Joe?"

"Never fear that I don't understand!"  He got to his feet again and
looked at her steadily.

"Thank you, Joe."  She wiped sudden tears from her eyes.

"Don't you be sorry for me," he said.  "Do you think that 'passing the
love of women' isn't enough for me?"

"No," she answered, humbly.

"I'll have people at work on the old house to-morrow," he began.  "And
for the--"

"I've kept you so long!" she interrupted, helped to a meek sort of
gayety by his matter-of-fact tone. "Good-night, Joe."  She gave him her
hand.  "I don't want you to come with me.  It isn't very late and this
is Canaan."

"I want to come with you, however," he said, picking up his hat.  "You
can't go alone."

"But you are so tired, you--"

She was interrupted.  There were muffled, flying footsteps on the
stairs, and a shabby little man ran furtively into the room, shut the
door behind him, and set his back against it.  His face was mottled
like a colored map, thick lines of perspiration shining across the
splotches.

"Joe," he panted, "I've got Nashville good, and he's got me good,
too;--I got to clear out.  He's fixed me good, damn him! but he won't
trouble nobody--"

Joe was across the room like a flying shadow.

"QUIET!"  His voice rang like a shot, and on the instant his hand fell
sharply across the speaker's mouth.  "In THERE, Happy!"

He threw an arm across the little man's shoulders and swung him toward
the door of the other room.

Happy Fear looked up from beneath the down-bent brim of his black
slouch hat; his eyes followed an imperious gesture toward Ariel, gave
her a brief, ghastly stare, and stumbled into the inner chamber.

"Wait!" Joe said, cavalierly, to Ariel.  He went in quickly after Mr.
Fear and closed the door.

This was Joseph Louden, Attorney-at-Law; and to Ariel it was like a new
face seen in a flash-light--not at all the face of Joe.  The sense of
his strangeness, his unfamiliarity in this electrical aspect, overcame
her.  She was possessed by astonishment:  Did she know him so well,
after all?  The strange client had burst in, shaken beyond belief with
some passion unknown to her, but Joe, alert, and masterful beyond
denial, had controlled him instantly; had swept him into the other room
as with a broom.  Could it be that Joe sometimes did other things in
the same sweeping fashion?

She heard a match struck in the next room, and the voices of the two
men: Joe's, then the other's, the latter at first broken and
protestive, but soon rising shrilly.  She could hear only fragments.
Once she heard the client cry, almost scream: "By God! Joe, I thought
Claudine had chased him around there to DO me!"  And, instantly,
followed Louden's voice:

"STEADY, HAPPY, STEADY!"

The name "Claudine" startled her; and although she had had no
comprehension of the argot of Happy Fear, the sense of a mysterious
catastrophe oppressed her; she was sure that something horrible had
happened.  She went to the window; touched the shade, which disappeared
upward immediately, and lifted the sash.  The front of a square
building in the Court-house Square was bright with lights; and figures
were passing in and out of the Main Street doors.  She remembered that
this was the jail.

"Claudine!"  The voice of the husband of Claudine was like the voice of
one lamenting over Jerusalem.

"STEADY, HAPPY, STEADY!"

"But, Joe, if they git me, what'll she do?  She can't hold her job no
longer--not after this...."

The door opened, and the two men came out, Joe with his hand on the
other's shoulder.  The splotches had gone from Happy's face, leaving it
an even, deathly white.  He did not glance toward Ariel; he gazed far
beyond all that was about him; and suddenly she was aware of a great
tragedy. The little man's chin trembled and he swallowed painfully;
nevertheless he bore himself upright and dauntlessly as the two walked
slowly to the door, like men taking part in some fateful ceremony.  Joe
stopped upon the landing at the head of the stairs, but Happy Fear went
on, clumping heavily down the steps.

"It's all right, Happy," said Joe.  "It's better for you to go alone.
Don't you worry.  I'll see you through.  It will be all right."

"Just as YOU say, Joe," a breaking voice came back from the foot of the
steps,--"just as YOU say!"

The lawyer turned from the landing and went rapidly to the window
beside Ariel.  Together they watched the shabby little figure cross the
street below; and she felt an infinite pathos gathering about it as it
paused for a moment, hesitating, underneath the arc-lamp at the corner.
They saw the white face lifted as Happy Fear gave one last look about
him; then he set his shoulders sturdily, and steadfastly entered the
door of the jail.

Joe took a deep breath.  "Now we'll go," he said.  "I must be quick."

"What was it?" she asked, tremulously, as they reached the street.
"Can you tell me?"

"Nothing--just an old story."

He had not offered her his arm, but walked on hurriedly, a pace ahead
of her, though she came as rapidly as she could.  She put her hand
rather timidly on his sleeve, and without need of more words from her
he understood her insistence.

"That was the husband of the woman who told you her story," he said.
"Perhaps it would shock you less if I tell you now than if you heard it
to-morrow, as you will.  He's just shot the other man."

"Killed him!" she gasped.

"Yes," he answered.  "He wanted to run away, but I wouldn't let him.
He has my word that I'll clear him, and I made him give himself up."



XVI

THE TWO CANAANS

When Joe left Ariel at Judge Pike's gate she lingered there, her elbows
upon the uppermost cross-bar, like a village girl at twilight, watching
his thin figure vanish into the heavy shadow of the maples, then emerge
momentarily, ghost-gray and rapid, at the lighted crossing down the
street, to disappear again under the trees beyond, followed a second
later by a brownish streak as the mongrel heeled after him.  When they
had passed the second corner she could no longer be certain of them,
although the street was straight, with flat, draughtsmanlike Western
directness: both figures and Joe's quick footsteps merging with the
night.  Still she did not turn to go; did not alter her position, nor
cease to gaze down the dim street.  Few lights shone; almost all the
windows of the houses were darkened, and, save for the summer murmurs,
the faint creak of upper branches, and the infinitesimal voices of
insects in the grass, there was silence: the pleasant and somnolent
hush, swathed in which that part of Canaan crosses to the far side of
the eleventh hour.

But Ariel, not soothed by this balm, sought beyond it, to see that
unquiet Canaan whither her old friend bent his steps and found his
labor and his dwelling: that other Canaan where peace did not fall
comfortably with the coming of night; a place as alien in habit, in
thought, and almost in speech as if it had been upon another continent.
And yet--so strange is the duality of towns--it lay but a few blocks
distant.

Here, about Ariel, as she stood at the gate of the Pike Mansion, the
houses of the good (secure of salvation and daily bread) were closed
and quiet, as safely shut and sound asleep as the churches; but deeper
in the town there was light and life and merry, evil
industry,--screened, but strong to last until morning; there were
haunts of haggard merriment in plenty: surreptitious chambers where
roulette-wheels swam beneath dizzied eyes; ill-favored bars, reached by
devious ways, where quavering voices offered song and were harshly
checked; and through the burdened air of this Canaan wandered heavy
smells of musk like that upon Happy Fear's wife, who must now be so
pale beneath her rouge.  And above all this, and for all this, and
because of all this, was that one resort to which Joe now made his way;
that haven whose lights burn all night long, whose doors are never
closed, but are open from dawn until dawn--the jail.

There, in that desolate refuge, lay Happy Fear, surrendered sturdily by
himself at Joe's word. The picture of the little man was clear and
fresh in Ariel's eyes, and though she had seen him when he was newly
come from a thing so terrible that she could not realize it as a fact,
she felt only an overwhelming pity for him.  She was not even
horror-stricken, though she had shuddered.  The pathos of the shabby
little figure crossing the street toward the lighted doors had touched
her.  Something about him had appealed to her, for he had not seemed
wicked; his face was not cruel, though it was desperate.  Perhaps it
was partly his very desperation which had moved her.  She had
understood Joe, when he told her, that this man was his friend; and
comprehended his great fear when he said:  "I've got to clear him!  I
promised him."

Over and over Joe had reiterated:  "I've got to save him!  I've got
to!"  She had answered gently, "Yes, Joe," hurrying to keep up with
him. "He's a good man," he said.  "I've known few better, given his
chances.  And none of this would have happened except for his old-time
friendship for me.  It was his loyalty--oh, the rarest and absurdest
loyalty!--that made the first trouble between him and the man he shot.
I've got to clear him!"

"Will it be hard?"

"They may make it so.  I can only see part of it surely.  When his wife
left the office, she met Cory on the street.  You saw what a pitiful
kind of fool she was, irresponsible and helpless and feather-brained.
There are thousands of women like that everywhere--some of them are
'Court Beauties,' I dare say--and they always mix things up; but they
are most dangerous when they're like Claudine, because then they live
among men of action like Cory and Fear.  Cory was artful: he spent the
day about town telling people that he had always liked Happy; that his
ill feeling of yesterday was all gone; he wanted to find him and shake
his hand, bury past troubles and be friends.  I think he told Claudine
the same thing when they met, and convinced the tiny brainlet of his
sincerity.  Cory was a man who 'had a way with him,' and I can see
Claudine flattered at the idea of being peace-maker between 'two such
nice gen'lemen as Mr. Cory and Mr. Fear.'  Her commonest
asseveration--quite genuine, too--is that she doesn't like to have the
gen'lemen making trouble about her!  So the poor imbecile led him to
where her husband was waiting.  All that Happy knew of this was in her
cry afterwards.  He was sitting alone, when Cory threw open the door
and said, 'I've got you this time, Happy!'  His pistol was raised but
never fired.  He waited too long, meaning to establish his case of
'self-defence,' and Fear is the quickest man I know.  Cory fell just
inside the door.  Claudine stumbled upon him as she came running after
him, crying out to her husband that she 'never meant no trouble,' that
Cory had sworn to her that he only wanted to shake hands and 'make up.'
Other people heard the shot and broke into the room, but they did not
try to stop Fear; he warned them off and walked out without hindrance,
and came to me.  I've got to clear him."

Ariel knew what he meant: she realized the actual thing as it was, and,
though possessed by a strange feeling that it must all be medieval and
not possibly of to-day, understood that he would have to fight to keep
his friend from being killed; that the unhappy creature who had run
into the office out of the dark stood in high danger of having his neck
broken, unless Joe could help him. He made it clear to her that the
State would kill Happy if it could; that it would be a point of pride
with certain deliberate men holding office to take the life of the
little man; that if they did secure his death it would be set down to
their efficiency, and was even competent as campaign material.  "I wish
to point out," Joe had heard a candidate for re-election vehemently
orate, "that in addition to the other successful convictions I have
named, I and my assistants have achieved the sending of three men to
the gallows during my term of office!"

"I can't tell yet," said Joe, at parting.  "It may be hard.  I'm so
sorry you saw all this. I--"

"Oh NO!" she cried.  "I want to UNDERSTAND!"


She was still there, at the gate, her elbows resting upon the
cross-bar, when, a long time after Joe had gone, there came from the
alley behind the big back yard the minor chordings of a quartette of
those dark strollers who never seem to go to bed, who play by night and
playfully pretend to work by day:

   "You know my soul is a-full o' them-a-trub-bils,
         Ev-ry mawn!
   I cain' a-walk withouten I stum-bils!
         Then le'ss go on--
         Keep walkin' on!
   These times is sow'owful, an' I am pow'owful
         Sick an' fo'lawn!"


She heard a step upon the path behind her, and, turning, saw a
white-wrapped figure coming toward her.

"Mamie?" she called.

"Hush!" Mamie lifted a warning hand.  "The windows are open," she
whispered.  "They might hear you!"

"Why haven't you gone to bed?"

"Oh, don't you see?" Mamie answered, in deep distress,--"I've been
sitting up for you.  We all thought you were writing letters in your
room, but after papa and mamma had gone to bed I went in to tell you
good night, and you weren't there, nor anywhere else; so I knew you
must have gone out.  I've been sitting by the front window, waiting to
let you in, but I went to sleep until a little while ago, when the
telephone-bell rang and he got up and answered it.  He kept talking a
long time; it was something about the Tocsin, and I'm afraid there's
been a murder down-town.  When he went back to bed I fell asleep again,
and then those darkies woke me up.  How on earth did you expect to get
in?  Don't you know he always locks up the house?"

"I could have rung," said Ariel.

"Oh--oh!" gasped Miss Pike; and, after she had recovered somewhat,
asked:  "Do you mind telling me where you've been?  I won't tell
him--nor mamma, either.  I think, after all, I was wrong yesterday to
follow Eugene's advice.  He meant for the best, but I--"

"Don't think that.  You weren't wrong."  Ariel put her arm round the
other's waist.  "I went to talk over some things with Mr. Louden."

"I think," whispered Mamie, trembling, "that you are the bravest girl I
ever knew--and--and--I could almost believe there's some good in him,
since you like him so.  I know there is.  And I--I think he's had a
hard time.  I want you to know I won't even tell Eugene!"

"You can tell everybody in the world," said Ariel, and kissed her.



XVII

MR. SHEEHAN'S HINTS

"Never," said the Tocsin on the morrow, "has this community been
stirred to deeper indignation than by the cold-blooded and unmitigated
brutality of the deliberate murder committed almost under the very
shadow of the Court-house cupola last night.  The victim was not a man
of good repute, it is true, but at the moment of his death he was in
the act of performing a noble and generous action which showed that he
might have become, if he lived, a good and law-fearing citizen.  In
brief, he went to forgive his enemy and was stretching forth the hand
of fellowship when that enemy shot him down.  Not half an hour before
his death, Cory had repeated within the hearing of a dozen men what he
had been saying all day, as many can testify:  'I want to find my old
friend Fear and shake hands with him.  I want to tell him that I
forgive him and that I am ashamed of whatever has been my part in the
trouble between us.'  He went with that intention to his death.  The
wife of the murderer has confessed that this was the substance of what
he said to her, and that she was convinced of his peaceful intentions.
When they reached the room where her husband was waiting for her, Cory
entered first.  The woman claims now that as they neared the vicinity
he hastened forward at a pace which she could not equal.  Naturally,
her testimony on all points favoring her husband is practically
worthless.  She followed and heard the murdered man speak, though what
his words were she declares she does not know, and of course the
murderer, after consultation with his lawyer, claims that their nature
was threatening.  Such a statement, in determining the truth, is worse
than valueless.  It is known and readily proved that Fear repeatedly
threatened the deceased's life yesterday, and there is no question in
the mind of any man, woman, or child, who reads these words, of the
cold blooded nature of the crime.  The slayer, who had formerly made a
murderous attack upon his victim, lately quarrelled with him and
uttered threats, as we have stated, upon his life.  The dead man came
to him with protestations of friendship and was struck down a corpse.
It is understood that the defence will in desperation set up the theory
of self-defence, based on an unsubstantiated claim that Cory entered
the room with a drawn pistol.  No pistol was found in the room.  The
weapon with which the deed was accomplished was found upon the person
of the murderer when he was seized by the police, one chamber
discharged.  Another revolver was discovered upon the person of the
woman, when she was arrested on the scene of the crime.  This, upon
being strictly interrogated, she said she had picked up from the floor
in the confusion, thinking it was her husband's and hoping to conceal
it.  The chambers were full and undischarged, and we have heard it
surmised that the defence means to claim that it was Cory's.  Cory
doubtless went on his errand of forgiveness unarmed, and beyond doubt
the second weapon belonged to the woman herself, who has an unenviable
record.

"The point of it all is plainly this: here is an unquestionable murder
in the first degree, and the people of this city and county are
outraged and incensed that such a crime should have been committed in
their law-abiding and respectable community. With whom does the fault
lie?  On whose head is this murder?  Not with the authorities, for they
do not countenance crime.  Has it come to the pass that, counting on
juggleries of the law, criminals believe that they may kill, maim,
burn, and slay as they list without punishment?  Is this to be another
instance of the law's delays and immunity for a hideous crime,
compassed by a cunning and cynical trickster of legal technicalities?
The people of Canaan cry out for a speedy trial, speedy conviction, and
speedy punishment of this cold-blooded and murderous monster.  If he is
not dealt with quickly according to his deserts, the climax is upon us
and the limit of Canaan's patience has been reached.

"One last word, and we shall be glad to have its significance noted: J.
Louden, Esq., has been retained for the defence!  The murderer, before
being apprehended by the authorities, WENT STRAIGHT FROM THE SCENE OF
HIS CRIME TO PLACE HIS RETAINER IN HIS ATTORNEY'S POCKET!  HOW LONG IS
THIS TO LAST?"


The Tocsin was quoted on street corners that morning, in shop and store
and office, wherever people talked of the Cory murder; and that was
everywhere, for the people of Canaan and of the country roundabout
talked of nothing else.  Women chattered of it in parlor and kitchen;
men gathered in small groups on the street and shook their heads
ominously over it; farmers, meeting on the road, halted their teams and
loudly damned the little man in the Canaan jail; milkmen lingered on
back porches over their cans to agree with cooks that it was an awful
thing, and that if ever any man deserved hanging, that there Fear
deserved it--his lawyer along with him!  Tipsy men hammered bars with
fists and beer-glasses, inquiring if there was no rope to be had in the
town; and Joe Louden, returning to his office from the little
restaurant where he sometimes ate his breakfast, heard hisses following
him along Main Street.  A clerk, a fat-shouldered, blue-aproned,
pimple-cheeked youth, stood in the open doors of a grocery, and as he
passed, stared him in the face and said "Yah!" with supreme disgust.

Joe stopped.  "Why?" he asked, mildly.

The clerk put two fingers in his mouth and whistled shrilly in
derision.  "You'd ort to be run out o' town!" he exclaimed.

"I believe," said Joe, "that we have never met before."

"Go on, you shyster!"

Joe looked at him gravely.  "My dear sir," he returned, "you speak to
me with the familiarity of an old friend."

The clerk did not recover so far as to be capable of repartee until Joe
had entered his own stairway. Then, with a bitter sneer, he seized a
bad potato from an open barrel and threw it at the mongrel, who had
paused to examine the landscape.  The missile failed, and
Respectability, after bestowing a slightly injured look upon the clerk,
followed his master.

In the office the red-bearded man sat waiting. Not so red-bearded as of
yore, however, was Mr. Sheehan, but grizzled and gray, and, this
morning, gray of face, too, as he sat, perspiring and anxious, wiping a
troubled brow with a black silk handkerchief.

"Here's the devil and all to pay at last, Joe," he said, uneasily, on
the other's entrance.  "This is the worst I ever knew; and I hate to
say it, but I doubt yer pullin' it off."

"I've got to, Mike."

"I hope on my soul there's a chanst of it!  I like the little man, Joe."

"So do I."

"I know ye do, my boy.  But here's this Tocsin kickin' up the public
sentiment; and if there ever was a follerin' sheep on earth, it's that
same public sentiment!"

"If it weren't for that"--Joe flung himself heavily in a
chair--"there'd not be so much trouble.  It's a clear enough case."

"But don't ye see," interrupted Sheehan, "the Tocsin's tried it and
convicted him aforehand? And that if things keep goin' the way they've
started to-day, the gran' jury's bound to indict him, and the trial
jury to convict him?  They wouldn't dare not to!  What's more, they'll
want to!  And they'll rush the trial, summer or no summer, and--"

"I know, I know."

"I'll tell ye one thing," said the other, wiping his forehead with the
black handkerchief, "and that's this, my boy: last night's business has
just about put the cap on the Beach fer me.  I'm sick of it and I'm
tired of it!  I'm ready to quit, sir!"

Joe looked at him sharply.  "Don't you think my old notion of what
might be done could be made to pay?"

Sheehan laughed.  "Whoo!  You and yer hints, Joe!  How long past have
ye come around me with 'em! 'I b'lieve ye c'd make more money,
Mike'--that's the way ye'd put it,--'if ye altered the Beach a bit.
Make a little country-side restaurant of it,' ye'd say, 'and have good
cookin', and keep the boys and girls from raisin' so much hell out
there.  Soon ye'd have other people comin' beside the regular crowd.
Make a little garden on the shore, and let 'em eat at tables under
trees an' grape-arbors--'"

"Well, why not?" asked Joe.

"Haven't I been tellin' ye I'm thinkin' of it? It's only yer way of
hintin' that's funny to me,--yer way of sayin' I'd make more money,
because ye're afraid of preachin' at any of us: partly because ye know
the little good it 'd be, and partly because ye have humor.  Well, I'm
thinkin' ye'll git yer way.  I'M willin' to go into the missionary
business with ye!"

"Mike!" said Joe, angrily, but he grew very red and failed to meet the
other's eye, "I'm not--"

"Yes, ye are!" cried Sheehan.  "Yes, sir!  It's a thing ye prob'ly
haven't had the nerve to say to yerself since a boy, but that's yer
notion inside: ye're little better than a missionary!  It took me a
long while to understand what was drivin' ye, but I do now.  And ye've
gone the right way about it, because we know ye'll stand fer us when
we're in trouble and fight fer us till we git a square deal, as ye're
goin' to fight for Happy now."

Joe looked deeply troubled.  "Never mind," he said, crossly, and with
visible embarrassment. "You think you couldn't make more at the Beach
if you ran it on my plan?"

"I'm game to try," said Sheehan, slowly.  "I'm too old to hold 'em down
out there the way I yoosta could, and I'm sick of it--sick of it into
the very bones of me!" He wiped his forehead.  "Where's Claudine?"

"Held as a witness."

"I'm not sorry fer HER!" said the red-bearded man, emphatically.
"Women o' that kind are so light-headed it's a wonder they don't float.
Think of her pickin' up Cory's gun from the floor and hidin' it in her
clothes!  Took it fer granted it was Happy's, and thought she'd help
him by hidin' it! There's a hard point fer ye, Joe: to prove the gun
belonged to Cory.  There's nobody about here could swear to it.  I
couldn't myself, though I forced him to stick it back in his pocket
yesterday. He was a wanderer, too; and ye'll have to send a keen one to
trace him, I'm thinkin', to find where he got it, so's ye can show it
in court."

"I'm going myself.  I've found out that he came here from Denver."

"And from where before that?"

"I don't know, but I'll keep on travelling till I get what I want."

"That's right, my boy," exclaimed the other, heartily, "It may be a
long trip, but ye're all the little man has to depend on.  Did ye
notice the Tocsin didn't even give him the credit fer givin' himself
up?"

"Yes," said Joe.  "It's part of their game."

"Did it strike ye now," Mr. Sheehan asked, earnestly, leaning forward
in his chair,--"did it strike ye that the Tocsin was aimin' more to do
Happy harm because of you than himself?"

"Yes."  Joe looked sadly out of the window. "I've thought that over,
and it seemed possible that I might do Happy more good by giving his
case to some other lawyer."

"No, sir!" exclaimed the proprietor of Beaver Beach, loudly.  "They've
begun their attack; they're bound to keep it up, and they'd manage to
turn it to the discredit of both of ye.  Besides, Happy wouldn't have
no other lawyer; he'd ruther be hung with you fightin' fer him than be
cleared by anybody else.  I b'lieve it,--on my soul I do! But look
here," he went on, leaning still farther forward; "I want to know if it
struck ye that this morning the Tocsin attacked ye in a way that was
somehow vi'lenter than ever before?"

"Yes," replied Joe, "because it was aimed to strike where it would most
count."

"It ain't only that," said the other, excitedly. "It ain't only that!
I want ye to listen.  Now see here: the Tocsin is Pike, and the town is
Pike--I mean the town ye naturally belonged to.  Ain't it?"

"In a way, I suppose--yes."

"In a way!" echoed the other, scornfully.  "Ye know it is!  Even as a
boy Pike disliked ye and hated the kind of a boy ye was.  Ye wasn't
respectable and he was!  Ye wasn't rich and he was! Ye had a grin on
yer face when ye'd meet him on the street."  The red-bearded man broke
off at a gesture from Joe and exclaimed sharply:  "Don't deny it!  _I_
know what ye was like!  Ye wasn't impudent, but ye looked at him as if
ye saw through him.  Now listen and I'll lead ye somewhere!  Ye run
with riffraff, naggers, and even"--Mr. Sheehan lifted a forefinger
solemnly and shook it at his auditor--"and even with the Irish!  Now I
ask ye this: ye've had one part of Canaan with ye from the start, MY
part, that is; but the other's against ye; that part's PIKE, and it's
the rulin' part--"

"Yes, Mike," said Joe, wearily.  "In the spirit of things.  I know."

"No, sir," cried the other.  "That's the trouble: ye don't know.
There's more in Canaan than ye've understood.  Listen to this:  Why was
the Tocsin's attack harder this morning than ever before?  On yer soul
didn't it sound so bitter that it sounded desprit?  Now why?  It looked
to me as if it had started to ruin ye, this time fer good and all! Why?
What have ye had to do with Martin Pike lately?  Has the old wolf GOT
to injure ye?" Mr. Sheehan's voice rose and his eyes gleamed under
bushy brows.  "Think," he finished.  "What's happened lately to make
him bite so hard?"

There were some faded roses on the desk, and as Joe's haggard eyes fell
upon them the answer came.  "What makes you think Judge Pike isn't
trustworthy?" he had asked Ariel, and her reply had been:  "Nothing
very definite, unless it was his look when I told him that I meant to
ask you to take charge of things for me."

He got slowly and amazedly to his feet.  "You've got it!" he said.

"Ye see?" cried Mike Sheehan, slapping his thigh with a big hand.  "On
my soul I have the penetration!  Ye don't need to tell me one thing
except this:  I told ye I'd lead ye somewhere; haven't I kept me word?"

"Yes," said Joe.

"But I have the penetration!" exclaimed Mr. Sheehan.  "Should I miss my
guess if I said that ye think Pike may be scared ye'll stumble on his
track in some queer performances?  Should I miss it?"

"No," said Joe.  "You wouldn't miss it."

"Just one thing more."  The red-bearded man rose, mopping the inner
band of his straw hat. "In the matter of yer runnin' fer Mayor, now--"

Joe, who had begun to pace up and down the room, made an impatient
gesture.  "Pshaw!" he interrupted; but his friend stopped him with a
hand laid on his arm.

"Don't be treatin' it as clean out of all possibility, Joe Louden.  If
ye do, it shows ye haven't sense to know that nobody can say what way
the wind's blowin' week after next.  All the boys want ye; Louie
Farbach wants ye, and Louie has a big say. Who is it that doesn't want
ye?"

"Canaan," said Joe.

"Hold up!  It's Pike's Canaan ye mean.  If ye git the nomination, ye'd
be elected, wouldn't ye?"

"I couldn't be nominated."

"I ain't claimin' ye'd git Martin Pike's vote," returned Mr. Sheehan,
sharply, "though I don't say it's impossible.  Ye've got to beat him,
that's all.  Ye've got to do to him what he's done to YOU, and what
he's tryin' to do now worse than ever before.  Well--there may be ways
to do it; and if he tempts me enough, I may fergit my troth and honor
as a noble gentleman and help ye with a word ye'd never guess yerself."

"You've hinted at such mysteries before, Mike," Joe smiled.  "I'd be
glad to know what you mean, if there's anything in them."

"It may come to that," said the other, with some embarrassment.  "It
may come to that some day, if the old wolf presses me too hard in the
matter o' tryin' to git the little man across the street hanged by the
neck and yerself mobbed fer helpin' him!  But to-day I'll say no more."

"Very well, Mike."  Joe turned wearily to his desk.  "I don't want you
to break any promises."

Mr. Sheehan had gone to the door, but he paused on the threshold, and
wiped his forehead again.

"And I don't want to break any," he said, "but if ever the time should
come when I couldn't help it"--he lowered his voice to a hoarse but
piercing whisper--"that will be the devourin' angel's day fer Martin
Pike!"



XVIII

IN THE HEAT OF THE DAY

It was a morning of the warmest week of mid-July, and Canaan lay inert
and helpless beneath a broiling sun. The few people who moved about the
streets went languidly, keeping close to the wall on the shady side;
the women in thin white fabrics; the men, often coatless, carrying
palm-leaf fans, and replacing collars with handkerchiefs.  In the
Court-house yard the maple leaves, gray with blown dust and grown to
great breadth, drooped heavily, depressing the long, motionless
branches with their weight, so low that the four or five shabby idlers,
upon the benches beneath, now and then flicked them sleepily with
whittled sprigs.  The doors and windows of the stores stood open,
displaying limp wares of trade, but few tokens of life; the clerks
hanging over dim counters as far as possible from the glare in front,
gossiping fragmentarily, usually about the Cory murder, and, anon, upon
a subject suggested by the sight of an occasional pedestrian passing
perspiring by with scrooged eyelids and purpling skin. From street and
sidewalk, transparent hot waves swam up and danced themselves into
nothing; while from the river bank, a half-mile away, came a sound
hotter than even the locust's midsummer rasp: the drone of a
planing-mill.  A chance boy, lying prone in the grass of the
Court-house yard, was annoyed by the relentless chant and lifted his
head to mock it:  "AWR-EER-AWR-EER!  SHUT UP, CAN'T YOU?"  The effort
was exhausting: he relapsed and suffered with increasing malice but in
silence.

Abruptly there was a violent outbreak on the "National House" corner,
as when a quiet farmhouse is startled by some one's inadvertently
bringing down all the tin from a shelf in the pantry.  The loafers on
the benches turned hopefully, saw what it was, then closed their eyes,
and slumped back into their former positions.  The outbreak subsided as
suddenly as it had arisen:  Colonel Flitcroft pulled Mr. Arp down into
his chair again, and it was all over.

Greater heat than that of these blazing days could not have kept one of
the sages from attending the conclave now.  For the battle was on in
Canaan: and here, upon the National House corner, under the shadow of
the west wall, it waxed even keener.  Perhaps we may find full
justification for calling what was happening a battle in so far as we
restrict the figure to apply to this one spot; else where, in the
Canaan of the Tocsin, the conflict was too one-sided.  The Tocsin had
indeed tried the case of Happy Fear in advance, had convicted and
condemned, and every day grew more bitter. Nor was the urgent vigor of
its attack without effect.  Sleepy as Main Street seemed in the heat,
the town was incensed and roused to a tensity of feeling it had not
known since the civil war, when, on occasion, it had set out to hang
half a dozen "Knights of the Golden Circle."  Joe had been hissed on
the street many times since the inimical clerk had whistled at him.
Probably demonstrations of that sort would have continued had he
remained in Canaan; but for almost a month he had been absent and his
office closed, its threshold gray with dust.  There were people who
believed that he had run away again, this time never to return; among
those who held to this opinion being Mrs. Louden and her sister, Joe's
step-aunt.  Upon only one point was everybody agreed: that twelve men
could not be found in the county who could be so far persuaded and
befuddled by Louden that they would dare to allow Happy Fear to escape.
The women of Canaan, incensed by the terrible circumstance of the case,
as the Tocsin colored it--a man shot down in the act of begging his
enemy's forgiveness--clamored as loudly as the men: there was only the
difference that the latter vociferated for the hanging of Happy; their
good ladies used the word "punishment."

And yet, while the place rang with condemnation of the little man in
the jail and his attorney, there were voices, here and there, uplifted
on the other side.  People existed, it astonishingly appeared, who
LIKED Happy Fear.  These were for the greater part obscure and even
darkling in their lives, yet quite demonstrably human beings, able to
smile, suffer, leap, run, and to entertain fancies; even to have,
according to their degree, a certain rudimentary sense of right and
wrong, in spite of which they strongly favored the prisoner's
acquittal. Precisely on that account, it was argued, an acquittal would
outrage Canaan and lay it open to untold danger: such people needed a
lesson.

The Tocsin interviewed the town's great ones, printing their opinions
of the heinousness of the crime and the character of the defendant's
lawyer.... "The Hon. P. J. Parrott, who so ably represented this county
in the Legislature some fourteen years ago, could scarcely restrain
himself when approached by a reporter as to his sentiments anent the
repulsive deed.  'I should like to know how long Canaan is going to put
up with this sort of business,' were his words.  'I am a law-abiding
citizen, and I have served faithfully, and with my full endeavor and
ability, to enact the laws and statutes of my State, but there is a
point in my patience, I would state, which lawbreakers and their
lawyers may not safely pass.  Of what use are our most solemn
enactments, I may even ask of what use is the Legislature itself,
chosen by the will of the people, if they are to ruthlessly be set
aside by criminals and their shifty protectors? The blame should be put
upon the lawyers who by tricks enable such rascals to escape the rigors
of the carefully enacted laws, the fruits of the Solon's labor, more
than upon the criminals themselves. In this case, if there is any
miscarriage of justice, I will say here and now that in my opinion the
people of this county will be sorely tempted; and while I do not
believe in lynch-law, yet if that should be the result it is my
unalterable conviction that the vigilantes may well turn their
attention to the lawyers--OR LAWYER--who bring about such miscarriage.
I am sick of it.'"

The Tocsin did not print the interview it obtained from Louie
Farbach--the same Louie Farbach who long ago had owned a beer-saloon
with a little room behind the bar, where a shabby boy sometimes played
dominoes and "seven-up" with loafers: not quite the same Louie Farbach,
however, in outward circumstance: for he was now the brewer of Farbach
Beer and making Canaan famous.  His rise had been Teutonic and sure;
and he contributed one-twentieth of his income to the German Orphan
Asylum and one-tenth to his party's campaign fund.  The twentieth saved
the orphans from the county, while the tithe gave the county to his
party.

He occupied a kitchen chair, enjoying the society of some chickens in a
wired enclosure behind the new Italian villa he had erected in that
part of Canaan where he would be most uncomfortable, and he looked
woodenly at the reporter when the latter put his question.

"Hef you any aguaintunce off Mitster Fear?" he inquired, in return,
with no expression decipherable either upon his Gargantuan face or in
his heavily enfolded eyes.

"No, sir," replied the reporter, grinning.  "I never ran across him."

"Dot iss a goot t'ing fer you," said Mr. Farbach, stonily.  "He iss not
a man peobles bedder try to run across.  It iss what Gory tried.  Now
Gory iss dead."

The reporter, slightly puzzled, lit a cigarette. "See here, Mr.
Farbach," he urged, "I only want a word or two about this thing; and
you might give me a brief expression concerning that man Louden
besides: just a hint of what you think of his influence here, you know,
and of the kind of sharp work he practises.  Something like that."

"I see," said the brewer, slowly.  "Happy Fear I hef knowt for a goot
many years.  He iss a goot frient of mine."

"What?"

"Choe Louten iss a bedder one," continued Mr. Farbach, turning again to
stare at his chickens.

"Git owit."

"What?"

"Git owit," repeated the other, without passion, without anger, without
any expression whatsoever. "Git owit."

The reporter's prejudice against the German nation dated from that
moment.

There were others, here and there, who were less self-contained than
the brewer.  A farm-hand struck a fellow laborer in the harvest-field
for speaking ill of Joe; and the unravelling of a strange street fight,
one day, disclosed as its cause a like resentment, on the part of a
blind broom-maker, engendered by a like offence.  The broom-maker's
companion, reading the Tocsin as the two walked together, had begun the
quarrel by remarking that Happy Fear ought to be hanged once for his
own sake and twice more "to show up that shyster Louden."  Warm words
followed, leading to extremely material conflict, in which, in spite of
his blindness, the broom-maker had so much the best of it that he was
removed from the triumphant attitude he had assumed toward the person
of his adversary, which was an admirable imitation of the dismounted
St. George and the Dragon, and conveyed to the jail.  Keenest
investigation failed to reveal anything oblique in the man's record; to
the astonishment of Canaan, there was nothing against him.  He was
blind and moderately poor; but a respectable, hard-working artisan, and
a pride to the church in which he was what has been called an "active
worker."  It was discovered that his sensitiveness to his companion's
attack on Joseph Louden arose from the fact that Joe had obtained the
acquittal of an imbecile sister of the blind man, a two-thirds-witted
woman who had been charged with bigamy.

The Tocsin made what it could of this, and so dexterously that the
wrath of Canaan was one farther jot increased against the shyster.  Ay,
the town was hot, inside and out.

Let us consider the Forum.  Was there ever before such a summer for the
"National House" corner?  How voices first thundered there, then
cracked and piped, is not to be rendered in all the tales of the
fathers.  One who would make vivid the great doings must indeed "dip
his brush in earthquake and eclipse"; even then he could but picture
the credible, and must despair of this: the silence of Eskew Arp.  Not
that Eskew held his tongue, not that he was chary of speech--no! O
tempora, O mores!  NO!  But that he refused the subject in hand, that
he eschewed expression upon it and resolutely drove the argument in
other directions, that he achieved such superbly un-Arplike
inconsistency; and with such rich material for his sardonic humors, not
at arm's length, not even so far as his finger-tips, but beneath his
very palms, he rejected it: this was the impossible fact.

Eskew--there is no option but to declare--was no longer Eskew.  It is
the truth; since the morning when Ariel Tabor came down from Joe's
office, leaving her offering of white roses in that dingy, dusty, shady
place, Eskew had not been himself. His comrades observed it somewhat in
a physical difference, one of those alterations which may come upon men
of his years suddenly, like a "sea change": his face was whiter, his
walk slower, his voice filed thinner; he creaked louder when he rose or
sat.  Old always, from his boyhood, he had, in the turn of a hand,
become aged.  But such things come and such things go: after eighty
there are ups and downs; people fading away one week, bloom out
pleasantly the next, and resiliency is not at all a patent belonging to
youth alone.  The material change in Mr. Arp might have been thought
little worth remarking.  What caused Peter Bradbury, Squire Buckalew,
and the Colonel to shake their heads secretly to one another and wonder
if their good old friend's mind had not "begun to go" was something
very different.  To come straight down to it: he not only abstained
from all argument upon the "Cory Murder" and the case of Happy Fear,
refusing to discuss either in any terms or under any circumstances, but
he also declined to speak of Ariel Tabor or of Joseph Louden; or of
their affairs, singular or plural, masculine, feminine, or neuter, or
in any declension. Not a word, committal or non-committal.  None!

And his face, when he was silent, fell into sorrowful and troubled
lines.

At first they merely marvelled.  Then Squire Buckalew dared to tempt
him.  Eskew's faded eyes showed a blue gleam, but he withstood,
speaking of Babylon to the disparagement of Chicago. They sought to
lead him into what he evidently would not, employing many devices; but
the old man was wily and often carried them far afield by secret ways
of his own.  This hot morning he had done that thing: they were close
upon him, pressing him hard, when he roused that outburst which had
stirred the idlers on the benches in the Court-house yard.  Squire
Buckalew (sidelong at the others but squarely at Eskew) had volunteered
the information that Cory was a reformed priest. Stung by the mystery
of Eskew's silence, the Squire's imagination had become magically
gymnastic; and if anything under heaven could have lifted the veil,
this was the thing.  Mr. Arp's reply may be reverenced.

"I consider," he said, deliberately, "that James G. Blaine's furrin
policy was childish, and, what's more, I never thought much of HIM!"

This outdefied Ajax, and every trace of the matter in hand went to the
four winds.  Eskew, like Rome, was saved by a cackle, in which he
joined, and a few moments later, as the bench loafers saw, was pulled
down into his seat by the Colonel.

The voices of the fathers fell to the pitch of ordinary discourse; the
drowsy town was quiet again; the whine of the planing-mill boring its
way through the sizzling air to every wakening ear. Far away, on a
quiet street, it sounded faintly, like the hum of a bee across a creek,
and was drowned in the noise of men at work on the old Tabor house.  It
seemed the only busy place in Canaan that day: the shade of the big
beech-trees which surrounded it affording some shelter from the
destroying sun to the dripping laborers who were sawing, hammering,
painting, plumbing, papering, and ripping open old and new
packing-boxes. There were many changes in the old house pleasantly in
keeping with its simple character: airy enlargements now almost
completed so that some of the rooms were already finished, and stood,
furnished and immaculate, ready for tenancy.

In that which had been Roger Tabor's studio sat Ariel, alone.  She had
caused some chests and cases, stored there, to be opened, and had taken
out of them a few of Roger's canvases and set them along the wall.
Tears filled her eyes as she looked at them, seeing the tragedy of
labor the old man had expended upon them; but she felt the recompense:
hard, tight, literal as they were, he had had his moment of joy in each
of them before he saw them coldly and knew the truth.  And he had been
given his years of Paris at last: and had seen "how the other fellows
did it."

A heavy foot strode through the hall, coming abruptly to a halt in the
doorway, and turning, she discovered Martin Pike, his big
Henry-the-Eighth face flushed more with anger than with the heat. His
hat was upon his head, and remained there, nor did he offer any token
or word of greeting whatever, but demanded to know when the work upon
the house had been begun.

"The second morning after my return," she answered.

"I want to know," he pursued, "why it was kept secret from me, and I
want to know quick."

"Secret?" she echoed, with a wave of her hand to indicate the noise
which the workmen were making.

"Upon whose authority was it begun?"

"Mine.  Who else could give it?"

"Look here," he said, advancing toward her, "don't you try to fool me!
You haven't done all this by yourself.  Who hired these workmen?"

Remembering her first interview with him, she rose quickly before he
could come near her.  "Mr. Louden made most of the arrangements for
me," she replied, quietly, "before he went away.  He will take charge
of everything when he returns. You haven't forgotten that I told you I
intended to place my affairs in his hands?"

He had started forward, but at this he stopped and stared at her
inarticulately.

"You remember?" she said, her hands resting negligently upon the back
of the chair.  "Surely you remember?"

She was not in the least afraid of him, but coolly watchful of him.
This had been her habit with him since her return.  She had seen little
of him, except at table, when he was usually grimly laconic, though now
and then she would hear him joking heavily with Sam Warden in the yard,
or, with evidently humorous intent, groaning at Mamie over Eugene's
health; but it had not escaped Ariel that he was, on his part, watchful
of herself, and upon his guard with a wariness in which she was
sometimes surprised to believe that she saw an almost haggard
apprehension.

He did not answer her question, and it seemed to her, as she continued
steadily to meet his hot eyes, that he was trying to hold himself under
some measure of control; and a vain effort it proved.

"You go back to my house!" he burst out, shouting hoarsely.  "You get
back there!  You stay there!"

"No," she said, moving between him and the door.  "Mamie and I are
going for a drive."

"You go back to my house!"  He followed her, waving an arm fiercely at
her.  "Don't you come around here trying to run over me!  You talk
about your 'affairs'!  All you've got on earth is this two-for-a-nickel
old shack over your head and a bushel-basket of distillery stock that
you can sell by the pound for old paper!"  He threw the words in her
face, the bull-bass voice seamed and cracked with falsetto.  "Old
paper, old rags, old iron, bottles, old clothes!  You talk about your
affairs!  Who are you?  Rothschild?  You haven't GOT any affairs!"

Not a look, not a word, not a motion of his escaped her in all the fury
of sound and gesture in which he seemed fairly to envelop himself;
least of all did that shaking of his--the quivering of jaw and temple,
the tumultuous agitation of his hands--evade her watchfulness.

"When did you find this out?" she said, very quickly.  "After you
became administrator?"

He struck the back of the chair she had vacated a vicious blow with his
open hand.  "No, you spendthrift!  All there was TO your grandfather
when you buried him was a basket full of distillery stock, I tell you!
Old paper!  Can't you hear me? Old paper, old rags--"

"You have sent me the same income," she lifted her voice to interrupt;
"you have made the same quarterly payments since his death that you
made before.  If you knew, why did you do that?"

He had been shouting at her with the frantic and incredulous
exasperation of an intolerant man utterly unused to opposition; his
face empurpled, his forehead dripping, and his hands ruthlessly
pounding the back of the chair; but this straight question stripped him
suddenly of gesture and left him standing limp and still before her,
pale splotches beginning to show on his hot cheeks.

"If you knew, why did you do it?" she repeated. "You wrote me that my
income was from dividends, and I knew and thought nothing about it; but
if the stock which came to me was worthless, how could it pay
dividends?"

"It did not," he answered, huskily.  "That distillery stock, I tell
you, isn't worth the matches to burn it."

"But there has been no difference in my income," she persisted,
steadily.  "Why?  Can you explain that to me?"

"Yes, I can," he replied, and it seemed to her that he spoke with a
pallid and bitter desperation, like a man driven to the wall.  "I can
if you think you want to know."

"I do."

"I sent it."

"Do you mean from you own--"

"I mean it was my own money."

She had not taken her eyes from his, which met hers straightly and
angrily; and at this she leaned forward, gazing at him with profound
scrutiny.

"Why did you send it?" she asked.

"Charity," he answered, after palpable hesitation.

Her eyes widened and she leaned back against the lintel of the door,
staring at him incredulously. "Charity!" she echoed, in a whisper.

Perhaps he mistook her amazement at his performance for dismay caused
by the sense of her own position, for, as she seemed to weaken before
him, the strength of his own habit of dominance came back to him.
"Charity, madam!" he broke out, shouting intolerably.  "Charity, d'ye
hear? I was a friend of the man that made the money you and your
grandfather squandered; I was a friend of Jonas Tabor, I say!  That's
why I was willing to support you for a year and over, rather than let a
niece of his suffer."

"'Suffer'!" she cried.  "'Support'!  You sent me a hundred thousand
francs!"

The white splotches which had mottled Martin Pike's face disappeared as
if they had been suddenly splashed with hot red.  "You go back to my
house," he said.  "What I sent you only shows the extent of my--"

"Effrontery!"  The word rang through the whole house, so loudly and
clearly did she strike it, rang in his ears till it stung like a
castigation. It was ominous, portentous of justice and of disaster.
There was more than doubt of him in it: there was conviction.

He fell back from this word; and when he again advanced, Ariel had left
the house.  She had turned the next corner before he came out of the
gate; and as he passed his own home on his way down-town, he saw her
white dress mingling with his daughter's near the horse-block beside
the fire, where the two, with their arms about each other, stood
waiting for Sam Warden and the open summer carriage.

Judge Pike walked on, the white splotches reappearing like a pale rash
upon his face.  A yellow butterfly zigzagged before him, knee-high,
across the sidewalk.  He raised his foot and half kicked at it.



XIX

ESKEW ARP

As the Judge continued his walk down Main Street, he wished profoundly
that the butterfly (which exhibited no annoyance) had been of greater
bulk and more approachable; and it was the evil fortune of Joe's
mongrel to encounter him in the sinister humor of such a wish
unfulfilled. Respectability dwelt at Beaver Beach under the care of Mr.
Sheehan until his master should return; and Sheehan was kind; but the
small dog found the world lonely and time long without Joe.  He had
grown more and more restless, and at last, this hot morning, having
managed to evade the eye of all concerned in his keeping, made off
unobtrusively, partly by swimming, and reaching the road, cantered into
town, his ears erect with anxiety. Bent upon reaching the familiar
office, he passed the grocery from the doorway of which the pimply
cheeked clerk had thrown a bad potato at him a month before.  The same
clerk had just laid down the Tocsin as Respectability went by, and,
inspired to great deeds in behalf of justice and his native city, he
rushed to the door, lavishly seized, this time, a perfectly good
potato, and hurled it with a result which ecstasized him, for it took
the mongrel fairly aside the head, which it matched in size.

The luckless Respectability's purpose to reach Joe's stairway had been
entirely definite, but upon this violence he forgot it momentarily.  It
is not easy to keep things in mind when one is violently smitten on
mouth, nose, cheek, eye, and ear by a missile large enough to strike
them simultaneously. Yelping and half blinded, he deflected to cross
Main Street.  Judge Pike had elected to cross in the opposite
direction, and the two met in the middle of the street.

The encounter was miraculously fitted to the Judge's need: here was no
butterfly, but a solid body, light withal, a wet, muddy, and dusty
yellow dog, eminently kickable.  The man was heavily built about the
legs, and the vigor of what he did may have been additionally inspired
by his recognition of the mongrel as Joe Louden's.  The impact of his
toe upon the little runner's side was momentous, and the latter rose
into the air.  The Judge hopped, as one hops who, unshod in the night,
discovers an unexpected chair.  Let us be reconciled to his pain and
not reproach the gods with it,--for two of his unintending adversary's
ribs were cracked.

The dog, thus again deflected, retraced his tracks, shrieking
distractedly, and, by one of those ironical twists which Karma reserves
for the tails of the fated, dived for blind safety into the store
commanded by the ecstatic and inimical clerk. There were shouts; the
sleepy Square beginning to wake up: the boy who had mocked the
planing-mill got to his feet, calling upon his fellows; the bench
loafers strolled to the street; the aged men stirred and rose from
their chairs; faces appeared in the open windows of offices; sales
ladies and gentlemen came to the doorways of the trading-places; so
that when Respectability emerged from the grocery he had a notable
audience for the scene he enacted with a brass dinner-bell tied to his
tail.

Another potato, flung by the pimpled, uproarious, prodigal clerk, added
to the impetus of his flight.  A shower of pebbles from the hands of
exhilarated boys dented the soft asphalt about him; the hideous clamor
of the pursuing bell increased as he turned the next corner, running
distractedly.  The dead town had come to life, and its inhabitants
gladly risked the dangerous heat in the interests of sport, whereby it
was a merry chase the little dog led around the block, For thus some
destructive instinct drove him; he could not stop with the unappeasable
Terror clanging at his heels and the increasing crowd yelling in
pursuit; but he turned to the left at each corner, and thus came back
to pass Joe's stairway again, unable to pause there or anywhere, unable
to do anything except to continue his hapless flight, poor meteor.

Round the block he went once more, and still no chance at that empty
stairway where, perhaps, he thought, there might be succor and safety.
Blood was upon his side where Martin Pike's boot had crashed, foam and
blood hung upon his jaws and lolling tongue.  He ran desperately,
keeping to the middle of the street, and, not howling, set himself
despairingly to outstrip the Terror.  The mob, disdaining the sun
superbly, pursued as closely as it could, throwing bricks and rocks at
him, striking at him with clubs and sticks.  Happy Fear, playing
"tic-tac-toe," right hand against left, in his cell, heard the uproar,
made out something of what was happening, and, though unaware that it
was a friend whose life was sought, discovered a similarity to his own
case, and prayed to his dim gods that the quarry might get away.

"MAD DOG!" they yelled.  "MAD DOG!"  And there were some who cried,
"JOE LOUDEN'S DOG!" that being equally as exciting and explanatory.

Three times round, and still the little fugitive maintained a lead.  A
gray-helmeted policeman, a big fellow, had joined the pursuit.  He had
children at home who might be playing in the street, and the thought of
what might happen to them if the mad dog should head that way resolved
him to be cool and steady.  He was falling behind, so he stopped on the
corner, trusting that Respectability would come round again.  He was
right, and the flying brownish thing streaked along Main Street,
passing the beloved stairway for the fourth time.  The policeman lifted
his revolver, fired twice, missed once, but caught him with the second
shot in a forepaw, clipping off a fifth toe, one of the small claws
that grow above the foot and are always in trouble.  This did not stop
him; but the policeman, afraid to risk another shot because of the
crowd, waited for him to come again; and many others, seeing the
hopeless circuit the mongrel followed, did likewise, armed with bricks
and clubs.  Among them was the pimply clerk, who had been inspired to
commandeer a pitchfork from a hardware store.

When the fifth round came, Respectability's race was run.  He turned
into Main Street at a broken speed, limping, parched, voiceless,
flecked with blood and foam, snapping feebly at the showering rocks,
but still indomitably a little ahead of the hunt.  There was no yelp
left in him--he was too thoroughly winded for that,--but in his
brilliant and despairing eyes shone the agony of a cry louder than the
tongue of a dog could utter:  "O master!  O all the god I know!  Where
are you in my mortal need?"

Now indeed he had a gauntlet to run; for the street was lined with
those who awaited him, while the pursuit grew closer behind.  A number
of the hardiest stood squarely in his path, and he hesitated for a
second, which gave the opportunity for a surer aim, and many missiles
struck him.  "Let him have it now, officer," said Eugene Bantry,
standing with Judge Pike at the policeman's elbow. "There's your
chance."

But before the revolver could be discharged, Respectability had begun
to run again, hobbling on three legs and dodging feebly.  A heavy stone
struck him on the shoulder and he turned across the street, making for
the "National House" corner, where the joyful clerk brandished his
pitchfork. Going slowly, he almost touched the pimply one as he passed,
and the clerk, already rehearsing in his mind the honors which should
follow the brave stroke, raised the tines above the little dog's head
for the coup de grace.  They did not descend, and the daring youth
failed of fame as the laurel almost embraced his brows.  A hickory
walking-stick was thrust between his legs; and he, expecting to strike,
received a blow upon the temple sufficient for his present undoing and
bedazzlement. He went over backwards, and the pitchfork (not the thing
to hold poised on high when one is knocked down) fell with the force he
had intended for Respectability upon his own shin.

A train had pulled into the station, and a tired, travel-worn young
man, descending from a sleeper, walked rapidly up the street to learn
the occasion of what appeared to be a riot.  When he was close enough
to understand its nature, he dropped his bag and came on at top speed,
shouting loudly to the battered mongrel, who tried with his remaining
strength to leap toward him through a cordon of kicking legs, while
Eugene Bantry again called to the policeman to fire.

"If he does, damn you, I'll kill him!" Joe saw the revolver raised; and
then, Eugene being in his way, he ran full-tilt into his stepbrother
with all his force, sending him to earth, and went on literally over
him as he lay prone upon the asphalt, that being the shortest way to
Respectability. The next instant the mongrel was in his master's arms
and weakly licking his hands.

But it was Eskew Arp who had saved the little dog; for it was his stick
which had tripped the clerk, and his hand which had struck him down.
All his bodily strength had departed in that effort, but he staggered
out into the street toward Joe.

"Joe Louden!" called the veteran, in a loud voice.  "Joe Louden!" and
suddenly reeled.  The Colonel and Squire Buckalew were making their way
toward him, but Joe, holding the dog to his breast with one arm, threw
the other about Eskew.

"It's a town--it's a town"--the old fellow flung himself free from the
supporting arm--"it's a town you couldn't even trust a yellow dog to!"

He sank back upon Joe's shoulder, speechless. An open carriage had
driven through the crowd, the colored driver urged by two ladies upon
the back seat, and Martin Pike saw it stop by the group in the middle
of the street where Joe stood, the wounded dog held to his breast by
one arm, the old man, white and half fainting, supported by the other.
Martin Pike saw this and more; he saw Ariel Tabor and his own daughter
leaning from the carriage, the arms of both pityingly extended to Joe
Louden and his two burdens, while the stunned and silly crowd stood
round them staring, clouds of dust settling down upon them through the
hot air.



XX

THREE ARE ENLISTED

Now in that blazing noon Canaan looked upon a strange sight: an open
carriage whirling through Main Street behind two galloping bays; upon
the back seat a ghostly white old man with closed eyes, supported by
two pale ladies, his head upon the shoulder of the taller; while beside
the driver, a young man whose coat and hands were bloody, worked over
the hurts of an injured dog.  Sam Warden's whip sang across the horses;
lather gathered on their flanks, and Ariel's voice steadily urged on
the pace:  "Quicker, Sam, if you can."  For there was little breath
left in the body of Eskew Arp.

Mamie, almost as white as the old man, was silent; but she had not
hesitated in her daring, now that she had been taught to dare; she had
not come to be Ariel's friend and honest follower for nothing; and it
was Mamie who had cried to Joe to lift Eskew into the carriage.  "You
must come too," she said.  "We will need you."  And so it came to pass
that under the eyes of Canaan Joe Louden rode in Judge Pike's carriage
at the bidding of Judge Pike's daughter.

Toward Ariel's own house they sped with the stricken octogenarian, for
he was "alone in the world," and she would not take him to the cottage
where he had lived for many years by himself, a bleak little house, a
derelict of the "early days" left stranded far down in the town between
a woollen-mill and the water-works.  The workmen were beginning their
dinners under the big trees, but as Sam Warden drew in the lathered
horses at the gate, they set down their tin buckets hastily and ran to
help Joe lift the old man out. Carefully they bore him into the house
and laid him upon a bed in one of the finished rooms.  He did not speak
or move and the workmen uncovered their heads as they went out, but Joe
knew that they were mistaken.  "It's all right, Mr. Arp," he said, as
Ariel knelt by the bed with water and restoratives.  "It's all right.
Don't you worry."

Then the veteran's lips twitched, and though his eyes remained closed,
Joe saw that Eskew understood, for he gasped, feebly:
"Pos-i-tive-ly--no--free--seats!"

To Mrs. Louden, sewing at an up-stairs window, the sight of her stepson
descending from Judge Pike's carriage was sufficiently startling, but
when she saw Mamie Pike take Respectability from his master's arms and
carry him tenderly indoors, while Joe and Ariel occupied themselves
with Mr. Arp, the good lady sprang to her feet as if she had been
stung, regardlessly sending her work-basket and its contents scattering
over the floor, and ran down the stairs three steps at a time.

At the front door she met her husband, entering for his dinner, and she
leaped at him.  Had he seen?  What was it?  What had happened?

Mr. Louden rubbed his chin-beard, indulging himself in a pause which
was like to prove fatal to his companion, finally vouchsafing the
information that the doctor's buggy was just turning the corner; Eskew
Arp had suffered a "stroke," it was said, and, in Louden's opinion, was
a mighty sick man. His spouse replied in no uncertain terms that she
had seen quite that much for herself, urging him to continue, which he
did with a deliberation that caused her to recall their wedding-day
with a gust of passionate self-reproach.  Presently he managed to
interrupt, reminding her that her dining-room windows commanded as
comprehensive a view of the next house as did the front steps, and
after a time her housewifely duty so far prevailed over her indignation
at the man's unwholesome stolidity that she followed him down the hall
to preside over the meal, not, however, to partake largely of it
herself.

Mr. Louden had no information of Eugene's mishap, nor had Mrs. Louden
any suspicion that all was not well with the young man, and, hearing
him enter the front door, she called to him that his dinner was
waiting.  Eugene, however, made no reply and went up-stairs to his own
apartment without coming into the dining-room.

A small crowd, neighboring children, servants, and negroes, had
gathered about Ariel's gate, and Mrs. Louden watched the working-men
disperse this assembly, gather up their tools, and depart; then Mamie
came out of the house, and, bowing sadly to three old men who were
entering the gate as she left it, stepped into her carriage and drove
away.  The new-comers, Colonel Flitcroft, Squire Buckalew, and Peter
Bradbury, glanced at the doctor's buggy, shook their heads at one
another, and slowly went up to the porch, where Joe met them.  Mrs.
Louden uttered a sharp exclamation, for the Colonel shook hands with
her stepson.

Perhaps Flitcroft himself was surprised; he had offered his hand almost
unconsciously, and the greeting was embarrassed and perfunctory; but
his two companions, each in turn, gravely followed his lead, and Joe's
set face flushed a little.  It was the first time in many years that
men of their kind in Canaan had offered him this salutation.

"He wouldn't let me send for you," he told them.  "He said he knew
you'd be here soon without that."  And he led the way to Eskew's
bedside.

Joe and the doctor had undressed the old man, and had put him into
night-gear of Roger Tabor's, taken from an antique chest; it was soft
and yellow and much more like color than the face above it, for the
white hair on the pillow was not whiter than that.  Yet there was a
strange youthfulness in the eyes of Eskew; an eerie, inexplicable,
luminous, LIVE look; the thin cheeks seemed fuller than they had been
for years; and though the heavier lines of age and sorrow could be
seen, they appeared to have been half erased.  He lay not in sunshine,
but in clear light; the windows were open, the curtains restrained, for
he had asked them not to darken the room.

The doctor was whispering in a doctor's way to Ariel at the end of the
room opposite the bed, when the three old fellows came in.  None of
them spoke immediately, and though all three cleared their throats with
what they meant for casual cheerfulness, to indicate that the situation
was not at all extraordinary or depressing, it was to be seen that the
Colonel's chin trembled under his mustache, and his comrades showed
similar small and unwilling signs of emotion.

Eskew spoke first.  "Well, boys?" he said, and smiled.

That seemed to make it more difficult for the others; the three white
heads bent silently over the fourth upon the pillow; and Ariel saw
waveringly, for her eyes suddenly filled, that the Colonel laid his
unsteady hand upon Eskew's, which was outside the coverlet.

"It's--it's not," said the old soldier, gently--"it's not on--on both
sides, is it, Eskew?"

Mr. Arp moved his hand slightly in answer.  "It ain't paralysis," he
said.  "They call it 'shock and exhaustion'; but it's more than that.
It's just my time.  I've heard the call.  We've all been slidin' on
thin ice this long time--and it's broke under me--"

"Eskew, Eskew!" remonstrated Peter Bradbury. "You'd oughtn't to talk
that-a-way!  You only kind of overdone a little--heat o' the day, too,
and--"

"Peter," interrupted the sick man, with feeble asperity, "did you ever
manage to fool me in your life?"

"No, Eskew."

"Well, you're not doin' it now!"

Two tears suddenly loosed themselves from Squire Buckalew's eyelids,
despite his hard endeavor to wink them away, and he turned from the bed
too late to conceal what had happened. "There ain't any call to feel
bad," said Eskew. "It might have happened any time--in the night,
maybe--at my house--and all alone--but here's Airie Tabor brought me to
her own home and takin' care of me.  I couldn't ask any better way to
go, could I?"

"I don't know what we'll do," stammered the Colonel, "if you--you talk
about goin' away from us, Eskew.  We--we couldn't get along--"

"Well, sir, I'm almost kind of glad to think," Mr. Arp murmured,
between short struggles for breath, "that it 'll be--quieter--on
the--"National House" corner!"

A moment later he called the doctor faintly and asked for a
restorative.  "There," he said, in a stronger voice and with a gleam of
satisfaction in the vindication of his belief that he was dying.  "I
was almost gone then.  _I_ know!"  He lay panting for a moment, then
spoke the name of Joe Louden.

Joe came quickly to the bedside.

"I want you to shake hands with the Colonel and Peter and Buckalew."

"We did," answered the Colonel, infinitely surprised and troubled.  "We
shook hands outside before we came in."


"Do it again," said Eskew.  "I want to see you."

And Joe, making shift to smile, was suddenly blinded, so that he could
not see the wrinkled hands extended to him, and was fain to grope for
them.

"God knows why we didn't all take his hand long ago," said Eskew Arp.
"I didn't because I was stubborn.  I hated to admit that the argument
was against me.  I acknowledge it now before him and before you--and I
want the word of it CARRIED!"

"It's all right, Mr. Arp," began Joe, tremulously. "You mustn't--"

"Hark to me"--the old man's voice lifted higher:  "If you'd ever
whimpered, or give back-talk, or broke out the wrong way, it would of
been different.  But you never did.  I've watched you and I know; and
you've just gone your own way alone, with the town against you because
you got a bad name as a boy, and once we'd given you that, everything
you did or didn't do, we had to give you a blacker one.  Now it's time
some one stood by you!  Airie Tabor 'll do that with all her soul and
body.  She told me once I thought a good deal of you.  She knew!  But I
want these three old friends of mine to do it, too.  I was boys with
them and they'll do it, I think.  They've even stood up fer you against
me, sometimes, but mostly fer the sake of the argument, I reckon; but
now they must do it when there's more to stand against than just my
talk.  They saw it all to-day--the meanest thing I ever knew!  I could
of stood it all except that!"  Before they could prevent him he had
struggled half upright in bed, lifting a clinched fist at the town
beyond the windows. "But, by God! when they got so low down they tried
to kill your dog--"

He fell back, choking, in Joe's arms, and the physician bent over him,
but Eskew was not gone, and Ariel, upon the other side of the room,
could hear him whispering again for the restorative. She brought it,
and when he had taken it, went quickly out-of-doors to the side yard.

She sat upon a workman's bench under the big trees, hidden from the
street shrubbery, and breathing deeply of the shaded air, began to cry
quietly.  Through the windows came the quavering voice of the old man,
lifted again, insistent, a little querulous, but determined.  Responses
sounded, intermittently, from the Colonel, from Peter, and from
Buckalew, and now and then a sorrowful, yet almost humorous, protest
from Joe; and so she made out that the veteran swore his three comrades
to friendship with Joseph Louden, to lend him their countenance in all
matters, to stand by him in weal and woe, to speak only good of him and
defend him in the town of Canaan.  Thus did Eskew Arp on the verge of
parting this life render justice.


The gate clicked, and Ariel saw Eugene approaching through the
shrubbery.  One of his hands was bandaged, a thin strip of
court-plaster crossed his forehead from his left eyebrow to his hair,
and his thin and agitated face showed several light scratches.

"I saw you come out," he said.  "I've been waiting to speak to you."

"The doctor told us to let him have his way in whatever he might ask."
Ariel wiped her eyes. "I'm afraid that means--"

"I didn't come to talk about Eskew Arp," interrupted Eugene.  "I'm not
laboring under any anxiety about him.  You needn't be afraid; he's too
sour to accept his conge so readily."

"Please lower your voice," she said, rising quickly and moving away
from him toward the house; but, as he followed, insisting sharply that
he must speak with her, she walked out of ear-shot of the windows, and
stopping, turned toward him.

"Very well," she said.  "Is it a message from Mamie?"

At this he faltered and hung fire.

"Have you been to see her?" she continued.

"I am anxious to know if her goodness and bravery caused her any--any
discomfort at home."

"You may set your mind at rest about that," returned Eugene.  "I was
there when the Judge came home to dinner.  I suppose you fear he may
have been rough with her for taking my step-brother into the carriage.
He was not.  On the contrary, he spoke very quietly to her, and went on
out toward the stables.  But I haven't come to you to talk of Judge
Pike, either!"

"No," said Ariel.  "I don't care particularly to hear of him, but of
Mamie."

"Nor of her, either!" he broke out.  "I want to talk of you!"

There was not mistaking him; no possibility of misunderstanding the
real passion that shook him, and her startled eyes betrayed her
comprehension.

"Yes, I see you understand," he cried, bitterly. "That's because you've
seen others the same way. God help me," he went on, striking his
forehead with his open hand, "that young fool of a Bradbury told me you
refused him only yesterday!  He was proud of even rejection from you!
And there's Norbert--and half a dozen others, perhaps, already, since
you've been here."  He flung out his arms in ludicrous, savage despair.
"And here am I--"

"Ah yes," she cut him off, "it is of yourself that you want to speak,
after all--not of me!"

"Look here," he vociferated; "are you going to marry that Joe Louden?
I want to know whether you are or not.  He gave me this--and this
to-day!"  He touched his bandaged hand and plastered forehead.  "He ran
into me--over me--for nothing, when I was not on my guard; struck me
down--stamped on me--"

She turned upon him, cheeks aflame, eyes sparkling and dry.

"Mr. Bantry," she cried, "he did a good thing! And now I want you to go
home.  I want you to go home and try if you can discover anything in
yourself that is worthy of Mamie and of what she showed herself to be
this morning!  If you can, you will have found something that I could
like!"

She went rapidly toward the house, and he was senseless enough to
follow, babbling:  "What do you think I'm made of?  You trample on
me--as he did!  I can't bear everything; I tell you--"

But she lifted her hand with such imperious will that he stopped short.
Then, through the window of the sick-room came clearly the querulous
voice:

"I tell you it was; I heard him speak just now--out there in the yard,
that no-account step-brother of Joe's!  What if he IS a hired hand on
the Tocsin? He'd better give up his job and quit, than do what he's
done to help make the town think hard of Joe.  And what IS he?  Why,
he's worse than Cory.  When that Claudine Fear first came here, 'Gene
Bantry was hangin' around her himself. Joe knew it and he'd never tell,
but I will. I saw 'em buggy-ridin' out near Beaver Beach and she
slapped his face fer him.  It ought to be TOLD!"

"I didn't know that Joe knew--that!" Eugene stammered huskily.  "It
was--it was--a long time ago--"

"If you understood Joe," she said, in a low voice, "you would know that
before these men leave this house, he will have their promise never to
tell."

His eyes fell miserably, then lifted again; but in her clear and
unbearable gaze there shone such a flame of scorn as he could not
endure to look upon. For the first time in his life he saw a true light
upon himself, and though the vision was darkling, the revelation was
complete.

"Heaven pity you!" she whispered.

Eugene found himself alone, and stumbled away, his glance not lifted.
He passed his own home without looking up, and did not see his mother
beckoning frantically from a window.  She ran to the door and called
him.  He did not hear her, but went on toward the Tocsin office with
his head still bent.



XXI

NORBERT WAITS FOR JOE

There was meat for gossip a plenty in Canaan that afternoon and
evening; there were rumors that ran from kitchen to parlor, and rumors
that ran from parlor to kitchen; speculations that detained housewives
in talk across front gates; wonderings that held cooks in converse over
shadeless back fences in spite of the heat; and canards that brought
Main Street clerks running to the shop doors to stare up and down the
sidewalks.  Out of the confusion of report, the judicious were able by
evenfall to extract a fair history of this day of revolution.  There
remained no doubt that Joe Louden was in attendance at the death-bed of
Eskew Arp, and somehow it came to be known that Colonel Flitcroft,
Squire Buckalew, and Peter Bradbury had shaken hands with Joe and
declared themselves his friends. There were those (particularly among
the relatives of the hoary trio) who expressed the opinion that the
Colonel and his comrades were too old to be responsible and a
commission ought to sit on them; nevertheless, some echoes of Eskew's
last "argument" to the conclave had sounded in the town and were not
wholly without effect.

Everywhere there was a nipping curiosity to learn how Judge Pike had
"taken" the strange performance of his daughter, and the eager were
much disappointed when it was truthfully reported that he had done and
said very little.  He had merely discharged both Sam Warden and Sam's
wife from his service, the mild manner of the dismissal almost
unnerving Mr. Warden, although he was fully prepared for bird-shot; and
the couple had found immediate employment in the service of Ariel Tabor.

Those who humanly felt the Judge's behavior to be a trifle flat and
unsensational were recompensed late in the afternoon when it became
known that Eugene Bantry had resigned his position on the Tocsin.  His
reason for severing his connection was dumfounding; he had written a
formal letter to the Judge and repeated the gist of it to his
associates in the office and acquaintances upon the street.  He
declared that he no longer sympathized with the attitude of the Tocsin
toward his step-brother, and regretted that he had previously assisted
in emphasizing the paper's hostility to Joe, particularly in the matter
of the approaching murder trial.  This being the case, he felt that his
effectiveness in the service of the paper had ceased, and he must, in
justice to the owner, resign.

"Well, I'm damned!" was the simple comment of the elder Louden when his
step-son sought him out at the factory and repeated this statement to
him.

"So am I, I think," said Eugene, wanly.  "Good-bye. I'm going now to
see mother, but I'll be gone before you come home."

"Gone where?"

"Just away.  I don't know where," Eugene answered from the door.  "I
couldn't live here any longer.  I--"

"You've been drinking," said Mr. Louden, inspired.  "You'd better not
let Mamie Pike see you."

Eugene laughed desolately.  "I don't mean to. I shall write to her.
Good-bye," he said, and was gone before Mr. Louden could restore enough
order out of the chaos in his mind to stop him.

Thus Mrs. Louden's long wait at the window was tragically rewarded, and
she became an unhappy actor in Canaan's drama of that day.  Other
ladies attended at other windows, or near their front doors, throughout
the afternoon: the families of the three patriarchs awaiting their
return, as the time drew on, with something akin to frenzy. Mrs.
Flitcroft (a lady of temper), whose rheumatism confined her to a chair,
had her grandson wheel her out upon the porch, and, as the dusk fell
and she finally saw her husband coming at a laggard pace, leaning upon
his cane, his chin sunk on his breast, she frankly told Norbert that
although she had lived with that man more than fifty-seven years, she
would never be able to understand him.  She repeated this with genuine
symptoms of hysteria when she discovered that the Colonel had not come
straight from the Tabor house, but had stopped two hours at Peter
Bradbury's to "talk it over."

One item of his recital, while sufficiently startling to his wife, had
a remarkable effect upon his grandson.  This was the information that
Ariel Tabor's fortune no longer existed.

"What's that?" cried Norbert, starting to his feet.  "What are you
talking about?"

"It's true," said the Colonel, deliberately.  "She told me so herself.
Eskew had dropped off into a sort of doze--more like a stupor,
perhaps,--and we all went into Roger's old studio, except Louden and
the doctor, and while we were there, talkin', one of Pike's clerks came
with a basket full of tin boxes and packages of papers and talked to
Miss Tabor at the door and went away.  Then old Peter blundered out and
asked her point-blank what it was, and she said it was her estate,
almost everything she had, except the house.  Buckalew, tryin' to make
a joke, said he'd be willin' to swap HIS house and lot for the basket,
and she laughed and told him she thought he'd be sorry; that all there
was, to speak of, was a pile of distillery stock--" "What?" repeated
Norbert, incredulously.

"Yes.  It was the truth," said the Colonel, solemnly.  "I saw it
myself: blocks and blocks of stock in that distillery trust that went
up higher'n a kite last year.  Roger had put all of Jonas's good
money--"

"Not into that!" shouted Norbert, uncontrollably excited.

"Yes, he did.  I tell you I saw it!"

"I tell you he didn't.  He owned Granger Gas, worth more to-day than it
ever was!  Pike was Roger's attorney-in-fact and bought it for him
before the old man died.  The check went through my hands.  You don't
think I'd forget as big a check as that, do you, even if it was more
than a year ago?  Or how it was signed and who made out to?  It was
Martin Pike that got caught with distillery stock.  He speculated once
too often!"

"No, you're wrong," persisted the Colonel.  "I tell you I saw it
myself."

"Then you're blind," returned his grandson, disrespectfully; "you're
blind or else--or else--" He paused, open-mouthed, a look of wonder
struggling its way to expression upon him, gradually conquering every
knobby outpost of his countenance. He struck his fat hands together.
"Where's Joe Louden?" he asked, sharply.  "I want to see him.  Did you
leave him at Miss Tabor's?"

"He's goin' to sit up with Eskew.  What do you want of him?"

"I should say you better ask that!" Mrs. Flitcroft began, shrilly.
"It's enough, I guess, for one of this family to go runnin' after him
and shakin' hands with him and Heaven knows what not!  NORBERT
FLITCROFT!"

But Norbert jumped from the porch, ruthlessly crossed his grandmother's
geranium-bed, and, making off at as sharp a pace as his architecture
permitted, within ten minutes opened Ariel's gate.

Sam Warden came forward to meet him.

"Don't ring, please, suh," said Sam.  "Dey sot me out heah to tell
inquirin' frien's dat po' ole Mist' Arp mighty low."

"I want to see Mr. Louden," returned Norbert. "I want to see him
immediately."

"I don' reckon he kin come out yit," Sam said, in a low tone.  "But I
kin go in an' ast 'em."

He stepped softly within, leaving Norbert waiting, and went to the door
of the sick-room.  The door was open, the room brightly lighted, as
Eskew had commanded when, a little earlier, he awoke.

Joe and Ariel were alone with him, leaning toward him with such white
anxiety that the colored man needed no warning to make him remain
silent in the hallway.  The veteran was speaking and his voice was very
weak, seeming to come from a great distance.

"It's mighty funny, but I feel like I used to when I was a little boy.
I reckon I'm kind of scared--after all.  Airie Tabor,--are you--here?"

"Yes, Mr. Arp."

"I thought--so--but I--I don't see very well--lately.
I--wanted--to--know--to know--"

"Yes--to know?"  She knelt close beside him.

"It's kind of--foolish," he whispered.  "I just--wanted to know if you
was still here.  It--don't seem so lonesome now that I know."

She put her arm lightly about him and he smiled and was silent for a
time.  Then he struggled to rise upon his elbow, and they lifted him a
little.

"It's hard to breathe," gasped the old man. "I'm pretty near--the big
road.  Joe Louden--"

"Yes?"

"You'd have been--willing--willing to change places with me--just
now--when Airie--"

Joe laid his hand on his, and Eskew smiled again. "I thought so!  And,
Joe--"

"Yes?"

"You always--always had the--the best of that joke between us.  Do
you--you suppose they charge admission--up there?"  His eyes were
lifted.  "Do you suppose you've got to--to show your good deeds to git
in?"  The answering whisper was almost as faint as the old man's.

"No," panted Eskew, "nobody knows.  But I hope--I do hope--they'll have
some free seats. It's a--mighty poor show--we'll--all have--if
they--don't!"

He sighed peacefully, his head grew heavier on Joe's arm; and the young
man set his hand gently upon the unseeing eyes.  Ariel did not rise
from where she knelt, but looked up at him when, a little later, he
lifted his hand.

"Yes," said Joe, "you can cry now."



XXII

MR. SHEEHAN SPEAKS

Joe helped to carry what was mortal of Eskew from Ariel's house to its
final abiding-place.  With him, in that task, were Buckalew, Bradbury,
the Colonel, and the grandsons of the two latter, and Mrs. Louden drew
in her skirts grimly as her step-son passed her in the mournful
procession through the hall.  Her eyes were red with weeping (not for
Eskew), but not so red as those of Mamie Pike, who stood beside her.

On the way to the cemetery, Joe and Ariel were together in a carriage
with Buckalew and the minister who had read the service, a dark,
pleasant-eyed young man;--and the Squire, after being almost overcome
during the ceremony, experienced a natural reaction, talking cheerfully
throughout the long drive.  He recounted many anecdotes of Eskew,
chuckling over most of them, though filled with wonder by a coincidence
which he and Flitcroft had discovered; the Colonel had recently been
made the custodian of his old friend's will, and it had been opened the
day before the funeral.  Eskew had left everything he possessed--with
the regret that it was so little--to Joe.

"But the queer thing about it," said the Squire, addressing himself to
Ariel, "was the date of it, the seventeenth of June.  The Colonel and I
got to talkin' it over, out on his porch, last night, tryin' to
rec'lect what was goin' on about then, and we figgered it out that it
was the Monday after you come back, the very day he got so upset when
he saw you goin' up to Louden's law-office with your roses."

Joe looked quickly at Ariel.  She did not meet his glance, but, turning
instead to Ladew, the clergyman, began, with a barely perceptible
blush, to talk of something he had said in a sermon two weeks ago.  The
two fell into a thoughtful and amiable discussion, during which there
stole into Joe's heart a strange and unreasonable pain.  The young
minister had lived in Canaan only a few months, and Joe had never seen
him until that morning; but he liked the short, honest talk he had
made; liked his cadenceless voice and keen, dark face; and, recalling
what he had heard Martin Pike vociferating in his brougham one Sunday,
perceived that Ladew was the fellow who had "got to go" because his
sermons did not please the Judge.  Yet Ariel remembered for more than a
fortnight a passage from one of these sermons. And as Joe looked at the
manly and intelligent face opposite him, it did not seem strange that
she should.

He resolutely turned his eyes to the open window and saw that they had
entered the cemetery, were near the green knoll where Eskew was to lie
beside a brother who had died long ago.  He let the minister help Ariel
out, going quickly forward himself with Buckalew; and then--after the
little while that the restoration of dust to dust mercifully needs--he
returned to the carriage only to get his hat.

Ariel and Ladew and the Squire were already seated and waiting.
"Aren't you going to ride home with us?" she asked, surprised.

"No," he explained, not looking at her.  "I have to talk with Norbert
Flitcroft.  I'm going back with him.  Good-bye."

His excuse was the mere truth, his conversation with Norbert, in the
carriage which they managed to secure to themselves, continuing
earnestly until Joe spoke to the driver and alighted at a corner, near
Mr. Farbach's Italian possessions.  "Don't forget," he said, as he
closed the carriage door, "I've got to have both ends of the string in
my hands."

"Forget!" Norbert looked at the cupola of the Pike Mansion, rising
above the maples down the street.  "It isn't likely I'll forget!"


When Joe entered the "Louis Quinze room" which some decorator, drunk
with power, had mingled into the brewer's villa, he found the owner and
Mr. Sheehan, with five other men, engaged in a meritorious attempt to
tone down the apartment with smoke.  Two of the five others were
prosperous owners of saloons; two were known to the public (whose
notion of what it meant when it used the term was something of the
vaguest) as politicians; the fifth was Mr. Farbach's closest friend,
one who (Joe had heard) was to be the next chairman of the city
committee of the party. They were seated about a table, enveloped in
blue clouds, and hushed to a grave and pertinent silence which
clarified immediately the circumstance that whatever debate had
preceded his arrival, it was now settled.

Their greeting of him, however, though exceedingly quiet, indicated a
certain expectancy, as he accepted the chair which had been left for
him at the head of the table.  He looked thinner and paler than usual,
which is saying a great deal; but presently, finding that the fateful
hush which his entrance had broken was immediately resumed, a twinkle
came into his eye, one of his eyebrows went up and a corner of his
mouth went down.

"Well, gentlemen?" he said.

The smokers continued to smoke and to do nothing else; the exception
being Mr. Sheehan, who, though he spoke not, exhibited tokens of
agitation and excitement which he curbed with difficulty; shifting
about in his chair, gnawing his cigar, crossing and uncrossing his
knees, rubbing and slapping his hands together, clearing his throat
with violence, his eyes fixed all the while, as were those of his
companions, upon Mr. Farbach; so that Joe was given to perceive that it
had been agreed that the brewer should be the spokesman. Mr. Farbach
was deliberate, that was all, which added to the effect of what he
finally did say.

"Choe," he remarked, placidly, "you are der next Mayor off Canaan."

"Why do you say that?" asked the young man, sharply.

"Bickoss us here," he answered, interlocking the tips of his fingers
over his waistcoat, that being as near folding his hands as lay within
his power,--"bickoss us here shall try to fix it so, und so hef
ditcided."

Joe took a deep breath.  "Why do you want me?"

"Dot," replied the brewer, "iss someding I shall tell you."  He paused
to contemplate his cigar. "We want you bickoss you are der best man fer
dot positsion."

"Louie, you mustn't make a mistake at the beginning," Joe said,
hurriedly.  "I may not be the kind of man you're looking for.  If I
went in--" He hesitated, stammering.  "It seems an ungrateful thing to
say, but--but there wouldn't be any slackness--I couldn't be bound to
anybody--"

"Holt up your hosses!" Mr. Farbach, once in his life, was so ready to
reply that he was able to interrupt.  "Who hef you heert speak off
bounding? Hef I speakt off favors?  Dit I say der shoult be slackness
in der city gofer'ment?  Litsen to me, Choe."  He renewed his
contemplation of his cigar, then proceeded:  "I hef been t'inkin' it
ofer, now a couple years.  I hef mate up my mind.  If some peobles are
gombelt to keep der laws and oders are not, dot's a great atwantitch to
der oders. Dot iss what iss ruining der gountry und der peobles iss
commencement to take notice.  Efer'veres in oder towns der iss
housecleaning; dey are reforming und indieding, und pooty soon dot
mofement comes here--shoo-er!  If we intent to holt der parsly in
power, we shoult be a leetle ahead off dot mofement so, when it shoult
be here, we hef a goot 'minadstration to fall beck on.  Now, dere iss
anoder brewery opened und trying to gombete mit me here in Canaan.  If
dot brewery owns der Mayor, all der tsaloons buying my bier must shut
up at 'leven o'glock und Sundays, but der oders keep open.  If I own
der Mayor, I make der same against dot oder brewery.  Now I am pooty
sick off dot ways off bitsness und fighting all times. Also," Mr.
Farbach added, with magnificent calmness, "my trade iss larchly
owitside off Canaan, und it iss bedder dot here der laws shoult be
enforced der same fer all.  Litsen, Choe; all us here beliefs der same
way.  You are square.  Der whole tsaloon element knows dot, und knows
dot all voult be treated der same.  Mit you it voult be fairness fer
each one.  Foolish peobles hef sait you are a law-tricker, but we know
dot you hef only mate der laws brotect as well as bunish.  Und at such
times as dey het been broken, you hef made dem as mertsiful as you
coult.  You are no tricker. We are willing to help you make it a glean
town. Odervise der fightin' voult go on until der mofement strikes here
und all der granks vake up und we git a fool reformer fer Mayor und der
town goes to der dogs.  If I try to put in a man dot I own, der oder
brewery iss goin' to fight like hell, but if I work fer you it will not
fight so hart."

"But the other people," Joe objected, "those outside of what is called
the saloon element--do you understand how many of them will be against
me?"

"It iss der tsaloon element," Mr. Farbach returned, peacefully, "dot
does der fightin'."

"And you have considered my standing with that part of Canaan which
considers itself the most respectable section?"  He rose to his feet,
standing straight and quiet, facing the table, upon which, it chanced,
there lay a copy of the Tocsin.

"Und yet," observed Mr. Farbach, with mildness, "we got some pooty
risbecdable men right here."

"Except me," broke in Mr. Sheehan, grimly, "you have."

"Have you thought of this?" Joe leaned forward and touched the paper
upon the table.

"We hef," replied Mr. Farbach.  "All of us. You shall beat it."

There was a strong chorus of confirmation from the others, and Joe's
eyes flashed.

"Have you considered," he continued, rapidly, while a warm color began
to conquer his pallor,--"have you considered the powerful influence
which will be against me, and more against me now, I should tell you,
than ever before?  That influence, I mean, which is striving so hard to
discredit me that lynch-law has been hinted for poor Fear if I should
clear him!  Have you thought of that? Have you thought--"

"Have we thought o' Martin Pike?" exclaimed Mr. Sheehan, springing to
his feet, face aflame and beard bristling.  "Ay, we've thought o'
Martin Pike, and our thinkin' of him is where he begins to git what's
comin' to him!  What d'ye stand there pickin' straws fer?  What's the
matter with ye?" he demanded, angrily, his violence tenfold increased
by the long repression he had put upon himself during the brewer's
deliberate utterances. "If Louie Farbach and his crowd says they're fer
ye, I guess ye've got a chanst, haven't ye?"

"Wait," said Joe.  "I think you underestimate Pike's influence--"

"Underestimate the devil!" shouted Mr. Sheehan, uncontrollably excited.
"You talk about influence!  He's been the worst influence this town's
ever had--and his tracks covered up in the dark wherever he set his
ugly foot down.  These men know it, and you know some, but not the
worst of it, because none of ye live as deep down in it as I do!  Ye
want to make a clean town of it, ye want to make a little heaven of the
Beach--"

"And in the eyes of Judge Pike," Joe cut him off, "and of all who take
their opinions from him, I REPRESENT Beaver Beach!"

Mike Sheehan gave a wild shout.  "Whooroo! It's come!  I knowed it
would!  The day I couldn't hold my tongue, though I passed my word I
would when the coward showed the deed he didn't dare to git recorded!
Waugh!"  He shouted again, with bitter laughter.  "Ye do!  In the eyes
o' them as follow Martin Pike ye stand fer the Beach and all its
wickedness, do ye?  Whooroo!  It's come!  Ye're an offence in the eyes
o' Martin Pike and all his kind because ye stand fer the Beach, are ye?"

"You know it!" Joe answered, sharply.  "If they could wipe the Beach
off the map and me with it--"

"Martin Pike would?" shouted Mr. Sheehan, while the others,
open-mouthed, stared at him. "Martin Pike would?"

"I don't need to tell you that," said Joe.

Mr. Sheehan's big fist rose high over the table and descended crashing
upon it.  "It's a damn lie!" he roared.  "Martin Pike owns Beaver
Beach!"



XXIII

JOE WALKS ACROSS THE COURT-HOUSE YARD

From within the glossy old walnut bar that ran from wall to wall, the
eyes of the lawyers and reporters wandered often to Ariel as she sat in
the packed court-room watching Louden's fight for the life and liberty
of Happy Fear. She had always three escorts, and though she did not
miss a session, and the same three never failed to attend her, no
whisper of scandal arose.  But not upon them did the glances of the
members of the bar and the journalists with tender frequency linger;
nor were the younger members of these two professions all who gazed
that way.  Joe had fought out the selection of the jury with the
prosecutor at great length and with infinite pains; it was not a young
jury, and IT stared at her.  The "Court" wore a gray beard with which a
flock of sparrows might have villaged a grove, and yet, in spite of the
vital necessity for watchfulness over this fighting case, IT once
needed to be stirred from a trancelike gaze in Miss Tabor's direction
and aroused to the realization that It was there to Sit and not to
dream.

The August air was warm outside the windows, inviting to the open
country, to swimmin'-hole, to orchard reveries, or shaded pool wherein
to drop a meditative line; you would have thought no one could
willingly coop himself in this hot room for three hours, twice a day,
while lawyers wrangled, often unintelligibly, over the life of a dingy
little creature like Happy Fear, yet the struggle to swelter there was
almost like a riot, and the bailiffs were busy men.

It was a fighting case throughout, fought to a finish on each tiny
point as it came up, dragging, in the mere matter of time,
interminably, yet the people of Canaan (not only those who succeeded in
penetrating to the court-room, but the others who hung about the
corridors, or outside the building, and the great mass of stay-at-homes
who read the story in the Tocsin) found each moment of it enthralling
enough.  The State's attorney, fearful of losing so notorious a case,
and not underestimating his opponent, had modestly summoned others to
his aid; and the attorney for the defence, single-handed, faced "an
array of legal talent such as seldom indeed had hollered at this bar";
faced it good-naturedly, an eyebrow crooked up and his head on one
side, most of the time, yet faced it indomitably.  He had a certain
careless and disarming smile when he lost a point, which carried off
the defeat as of only humorous account and not at all part of the
serious business in hand; and in his treatment of witnesses, he was
plausible, kindly, knowing that in this case he had no intending
perjurer to entrap; brought into play the rare and delicate art of
which he was a master, employing in his questions subtle suggestions
and shadings of tone and manner, and avoiding words of debatable and
dangerous meanings;--a fine craft, often attempted by blunderers to
their own undoing, but which, practised by Joseph Louden, made
inarticulate witnesses articulate to the precise effects which he
desired.  This he accomplished as much by the help of the continuous
fire of objections from the other side as in spite of them.  He was
infinitely careful, asking never an ill-advised question for the other
side to use to his hurt, and, though exhibiting only a pleasant
easiness of manner, was electrically alert.

A hundred things had shown Ariel that the feeling of the place,
influenced by "public sentiment" without, was subtly and profoundly
hostile to Joe and his client; she read this in the spectators, in the
jury, even in the Judge; but it seemed to her that day by day the
inimical spirit gradually failed, inside the railing, and also in those
spectators who, like herself, were enabled by special favor to be
present throughout the trial, and that now and then a kindlier
sentiment began to be manifested. She was unaware how strongly she
contributed to effect this herself, not only through the glow of
visible sympathy which radiated from her, but by a particular action.
Claudine was called by the State, and told as much of her story as the
law permitted her to tell, interlarding her replies with fervent
protestations (too quick to be prevented) that she "never meant to
bring no trouble to Mr. Fear" and that she "did hate to have gen'lemen
starting things on her account."  When the defence took this perturbed
witness, her interpolations became less frequent, and she described
straightforwardly how she had found the pistol on the floor near the
prostrate figure of Cory, and hidden it in her own dress.  The
attorneys for the State listened with a somewhat cynical amusement to
this portion of her testimony, believing it of no account,
uncorroborated, and that if necessary the State could impeach the
witness on the ground that it had been indispensable to produce her.
She came down weeping from the stand; and, the next witness not being
immediately called, the eyes of the jurymen naturally followed her as
she passed to her seat, and they saw Ariel Tabor bow gravely to her
across the railing.  Now, a thousand things not set forth by
legislatures, law-men and judges affect a jury, and the slight
salutation caused the members of this one to glance at one another; for
it seemed to imply that the exquisite lady in white not only knew
Claudine, but knew that she had spoken the truth.  It was after this,
that a feeling favorable to the defence now and then noticeably
manifested itself in the courtroom.  Still, when the evidence for the
State was all in, the life of Happy Fear seemed to rest in a balance
precarious indeed, and the little man, swallowing pitifully, looked at
his attorney with the eyes of a sick dog.

Then Joe gave the prosecutors an illuminating and stunning surprise,
and, having offered in evidence the revolver found upon Claudine,
produced as his first witness a pawnbroker of Denver, who identified
the weapon as one he had sold to Cory, whom he had known very well.
The second witness, also a stranger, had been even more intimately
acquainted with the dead man, and there began to be an uneasy
comprehension of what Joe had accomplished during that prolonged
absence of his which had so nearly cost the life of the little mongrel,
who was at present (most blissful Respectability!) a lively
convalescent in Ariel's back yard.  The second witness also identified
the revolver, testifying that he had borrowed it from Cory in St. Louis
to settle a question of marksmanship, and that on his returning it to
the owner, the latter, then working his way eastward, had confided to
him his intention of stopping in Canaan for the purpose of exercising
its melancholy functions upon a man who had once "done him good" in
that city.

By the time the witness had reached this point, the Prosecutor and his
assistants were on their feet, excitedly shouting objections, which
were promptly overruled.  Taken unawares, they fought for time; thunder
was loosed, forensic bellowings; everybody lost his temper--except Joe;
and the examination of the witness proceeded.  Cory, with that singular
inspiration to confide in some one, which is the characteristic and the
undoing of his kind, had outlined his plan of operations to the witness
with perfect clarity.  He would first attempt, so he had declared, to
incite an attack upon himself by playing upon the jealousy of his
victim, having already made a tentative effort in that direction.
Failing in this, he would fall back upon one of a dozen schemes (for he
was ready in such matters, he bragged), the most likely of which would
be to play the peacemaker; he would talk of his good intentions toward
his enemy, speaking publicly of him in friendly and gentle ways; then,
getting at him secretly, destroy him in such a fashion as to leave open
for himself the kind gate of self-defence.  In brief, here was the
whole tally of what had actually occurred, with the exception of the
last account in the sequence which had proved that demise for which
Cory had not arranged and it fell from the lips of a witness whom the
prosecution had no means of impeaching. When he left the stand,
unshaken and undiscredited, after a frantic cross-examination, Joe,
turning to resume his seat, let his hand fall lightly for a second upon
his client's shoulder.

That was the occasion of a demonstration which indicated a sentiment
favorable to the defence (on the part of at least three of the
spectators); and it was in the nature of such a hammering of canes upon
the bare wooden floor as effectually stopped all other proceedings
instantly.  The indignant Judge fixed the Colonel, Peter Bradbury, and
Squire Buckalew with his glittering eye, yet the hammering continued
unabated; and the offenders surely would have been conducted forth in
ignominy, had not gallantry prevailed, even in that formal place.  The
Judge, reluctantly realizing that some latitude must be allowed to
these aged enthusiasts, since they somehow seemed to belong to Miss
Tabor, made his remarks general, with the time-worn threat to clear the
room, whereupon the loyal survivors of Eskew relapsed into unabashed
silence.

It was now, as Joe had said, a clear-enough case. Only the case itself,
however, was clear, for, as he and his friends feared, the verdict
might possibly be neither in accordance with the law, the facts, nor
the convictions of the jury.  Eugene's defection had not altered the
tone of the Tocsin.

All day long a crowd of men and boys hung about the corridors of the
Court-house, about the Square and the neighboring streets, and from
these rose sombre murmurs, more and more ominous. The public sentiment
of a community like Canaan can make itself felt inside a court-room;
and it was strongly exerted against Happy Fear. The Tocsin had always
been a powerful agent; Judge Pike had increased its strength with a
staff which was thoroughly efficient, alert, and always able to strike
centre with the paper's readers; and in town and country it had
absorbed the circulation of the other local journals, which resisted
feebly at times, but in the matter of the Cory murder had not dared to
do anything except follow the Tocsin's lead.  The Tocsin, having lit
the fire, fed it--fed it saltpetre and sulphur--for now Martin Pike was
fighting hard.

The farmers and people of the less urban parts of the country were
accustomed to found their opinions upon the Tocsin.  They regarded it
as the single immutable rock of journalistic righteousness and wisdom
in the world.  Consequently, stirred by the outbursts of the paper,
they came into Canaan in great numbers, and though the pressure from
the town itself was so strong that only a few of them managed to crowd
into the court-room, the others joined their voices to those sombre
murmurs outdoors, which increased in loudness as the trial went on.

The Tocsin, however, was not having everything its own way; the volume
of outcry against Happy Fear and his lawyer had diminished, it was
noticed, in "very respectable quarters."  The information imparted by
Mike Sheehan to the politicians at Mr. Farbach's had been slowly
seeping through the various social strata of the town, and though at
first incredulously rejected, it began to find acceptance; Upper Main
Street cooling appreciably in its acceptance of the Tocsin as the law
and the prophets.  There were even a few who dared to wonder in their
hearts if there had not been a mistake about Joe Louden; and although
Mrs. Flitcroft weakened not, the relatives of Squire Buckalew and of
Peter Bradbury began to hold up their heads a little, after having made
home horrible for those gentlemen and reproached them with their
conversion as the last word of senile shame.  In addition, the
Colonel's grandson and Mr. Bradbury's grandson had both mystifyingly
lent countenance to Joe, consorting with him openly; the former for his
own purposes--the latter because he had cunningly discovered that it
was a way to Miss Tabor's regard, which, since her gentle rejection of
him, he had grown to believe (good youth!) might be the pleasantest
thing that could ever come to him.  In short, the question had begun to
thrive:  Was it possible that Eskew Arp had not been insane, after all?

The best of those who gathered ominously about the Court-house and its
purlieus were the young farmers and field-hands, artisans and clerks;
one of the latter being a pimply faced young man (lately from the
doctor's hands), who limped, and would limp for the rest of his life,
he who, of all men, held the memory of Eskew Arp in least respect, and
was burningly desirous to revenge himself upon the living.

The worst were of that mystifying, embryonic, semi-rowdy type, the
American voyou, in the production of which Canaan and her sister towns
everywhere over the country are prolific; the young man, youth, boy
perhaps, creature of nameless age, whose clothes are like those of a
brakeman out of work, but who is not a brakeman in or out of work;
wearing the black, soft hat tilted forward to shelter--as a counter
does the contempt of a clerk--that expression which the face does not
dare wear quite in the open, asserting the possession of supreme
capacity in wit, strength, dexterity, and amours; the dirty
handkerchief under the collar; the short black coat always
double-breasted; the eyelids sooty; one cheek always bulged; the
forehead speckled; the lips cracked; horrible teeth; and the
affectation of possessing secret information upon all matters of the
universe; above all, the instinct of finding the shortest way to any
scene of official interest to the policeman, fireman, or ambulance
surgeon,--a singular being, not professionally criminal; tough
histrionically rather than really; full of its own argot of brag;
hysterical when crossed, timid through great ignorance, and therefore
dangerous.  It furnishes not the leaders but the mass of mobs; and it
springs up at times of crisis from Heaven knows where.  You might have
driven through all the streets of Canaan, a week before the trial, and
have seen four or five such fellows; but from the day of its beginning
the Square was full of them, dingy shuttlecocks batted up into view by
the Tocsin.

They kept the air whirring with their noise. The news of that sitting
which had caused the Squire, Flitcroft, and Peter Bradbury to risk the
Court's displeasure, was greeted outside with loud and vehement
disfavor; and when, at noon, the jurymen were marshalled out to cross
the yard to the "National House" for dinner, a large crowd followed and
surrounded them, until they reached the doors of the hotel.  "Don't let
Lawyer Louden bamboozle you!"  "Hang him!"  "Tar and feathers fer ye ef
ye don't hang him!"  These were the mildest threats, and Joe Louden,
watching from an upper window of the Court-house, observed with a
troubled eye how certain of the jury shrank from the pressure of the
throng, how the cheeks of others showed sudden pallor.  Sometimes
"public sentiment" has done evil things to those who have not shared
it; and Joe knew how rare a thing is a jury which dares to stand square
against a town like Canaan aroused.

The end of that afternoon's session saw another point marked for the
defence; Joe had put the defendant on the stand, and the little man had
proved an excellent witness.  During his life he had been many
things--many things disreputable; high standards were not brightly
illumined for him in the beginning of the night-march which his life
had been.  He had been a tramp, afterward a petty gambler; but his
great motive had finally come to be the intention to do what Joe told
him to do: that, and to keep Claudine as straight as he could.  In a
measure, these were the two things that had brought him to the pass in
which he now stood, his loyalty to Joe and his resentment of whatever
tampered with Claudine's straightness. He was submissive to the
consequences: he was still loyal.  And now Joe asked him to tell "just
what happened," and Happy obeyed with crystal clearness.  Throughout
the long, tricky cross-examination he continued to tell "just what
happened" with a plaintive truthfulness not to be imitated, and
throughout it Joe guarded him from pitfalls (for lawyers in their
search after truth are compelled by the exigencies of their profession
to make pitfalls even for the honest), and gave him, by various
devices, time to remember, though not to think, and made the words
"come right" in his mouth.  So that before the sitting was over, a
disquieting rumor ran through the waiting crowd in the corridors,
across the Square, and over the town, that the case was surely going
"Louden's way."  This was also the opinion of a looker-on in Canaan--a
ferret-faced counsellor of corporations who, called to consultation
with the eminent Buckalew (nephew of the Squire), had afterward spent
an hour in his company at the trial.  "It's going that young fellow
Louden's way," said the stranger.  "You say he's a shyster, but--"

"Well," admitted Buckalew, with some reluctance, "I don't mean that
exactly.  I've got an old uncle who seems lately to think he's a great
man."

"I'll take your uncle's word for it," returned the other, smiling.  "I
think he'll go pretty far."

They had come to the flight of steps which descended to the yard,--and
the visitor, looking down upon the angry crowd, added, "If they don't
kill him!"

Joe himself was anxious concerning no such matter.  He shook hands with
Happy at the end of the sitting, bidding him be of good cheer, and,
when the little man had marched away, under a strong guard, began to
gather and sort his papers at a desk inside the bar.  This took him
perhaps five minutes, and when he had finished there were only three
people left in the room: a clerk, a negro janitor with a broom, and the
darky friend who always hopefully accompanies a colored man holding
high public office.  These two approvingly greeted the young lawyer,
the janitor handing him a note from Norbert Flitcroft, and the friend
mechanically "borrowing" a quarter from him as he opened the envelope.

"I'll be roun' yo' way to git a box o' SE-gahs," laughed the friend,
"soon ez de campaign open up good.  Dey all goin' vote yo' way, down on
the levee bank, but dey sho' expecks to git to smoke a little 'fo'
leckshun-day!  We knows who's OW frien'!"

Norbert's missive was lengthy and absorbing; Joe went on his way,
perusing it with profound attention; but as he descended the stairway
to the floor below, a loud burst of angry shouting, outside the
building, caused him to hasten toward the big front doors which faced
Main Street.  The doors opened upon an imposing vestibule, from which a
handsome flight of stone steps, protected by a marble balustrade, led
to the ground.

Standing at the top of these steps and leaning over the balustrade, he
had a clear view of half the yard.  No one was near him; everybody was
running in the opposite direction, toward that corner of the yard
occupied by the jail, the crowd centring upon an agitated whirlpool of
men which moved slowly toward a door in the high wall that enclosed the
building; and Joe saw that Happy Fear's guards, conducting the prisoner
back to his cell, were being jostled and rushed.  The distance they had
made was short, but as they reached the door the pressure upon them
increased dangerously. Clubs rose in the air, hats flew, the whirlpool
heaved tumultuously, and the steel door clanged.

Happy Fear was safe inside, but the jostlers were outside--baffled,
ugly, and stirred with the passion that changes a crowd into a mob.

Then some of them caught sight of Joe as he stood alone at the top of
the steps, and a great shout of rage and exultation arose.

For a moment or two he did not see his danger. At the clang of the
door, his eyes, caught by the gleam of a wide white hat, had turned
toward the street, and he was somewhat fixedly watching Mr. Ladew
extricate Ariel (and her aged and indignant escorts) from an overflow
of the crowd in which they had been caught.  But a voice warned him:
the wild piping of a newsboy who had climbed into a tree near by.

"JOE LOUDEN!" he screamed.  "LOOK OUT!"

With a muffled roar the crowd surged back from the jail and turned
toward the steps.  "Tar and feather him!"  "Take him over to the river
and throw him in!"  "Drown him!"  "Hang him!"

Then a thing happened which was dramatic enough in its inception, but
almost ludicrous in its effect.  Joe walked quietly down the steps and
toward the advancing mob with his head cocked to one side, one eyebrow
lifted, and one corner of his mouth drawn down in a faintly distorted
smile.

He went straight toward the yelling forerunners, with only a small
bundle of papers in his hands, and then--while the non-partisan
spectators held their breath, expecting the shock of contact--straight
on through them.

A number of the bulge-cheeked formed the scattering van of these
forerunners, charging with hoarse and cruel shrieks of triumph.  The
first, apparently about to tear Joseph Louden to pieces, changed
countenance at arm's-length, swerved violently, and with the loud cry,
"HEAD HIM OFF!" dashed on up the stone steps.  The man next behind him
followed his lead, with the same shout, strategy, and haste; then the
others of this advance attack, finding themselves confronting the quiet
man, who kept his even pace and showed no intention of turning aside
for them, turned suddenly aside for HIM, and, taking the cue from the
first, pursued their way, bellowing:  "HEAD HIM OFF! HEAD HIM OFF!"
until there were a dozen and more rowdyish men and youths upon the
steps, their eyes blazing with fury, menacing Louden's back with
frightful gestures across the marble balustrade, as they hysterically
bleated the chorus, "HEAD HIM OFF!"

Whether or not Joe could have walked through the entire mob as he had
walked through these is a matter for speculation; it was believed in
Canaan that he could.  Already a gust of mirth began to sweep over the
sterner spirits as they paused to marvel no less at the disconcerting
advance of the lawyer than at the spectacle presented by the intrepid
dare-devils upon the steps; a kind of lane actually opening before the
young man as he walked steadily on.  And when Mr. Sheehan, leading half
a dozen huge men from the Farbach brewery, unceremoniously shouldered a
way through the mob to Joe's side, reaching him where the press was
thickest, it is a question if the services of his detachment were
needed.

The laughter increased.  It became voluminous. Homeric salvos shook the
air.  And never one of the fire-eaters upon the steps lived long enough
to live down the hateful cry of that day, "HEAD HIM OFF!" which was to
become a catch-word on the streets, a taunt more stinging than any
devised by deliberate invention, an insult bitterer than the ancestral
doubt, a fighting-word, and the great historical joke of Canaan, never
omitted in after-days when the tale was told how Joe Louden took that
short walk across the Court-house yard which made him Mayor of Canaan.



XXIV

MARTIN PIKE KEEPS AN ENGAGEMENT

An hour later, Martin Pike, looking forth from the Mansion, saw a man
open the gate, and, passing between the unemotional deer, rapidly
approach the house.  He was a thin young fellow, very well dressed in
dark gray, his hair prematurely somewhat silvered, his face prematurely
somewhat lined, and his hat covered a scar such as might have been
caused by a blow from a blunt instrument in the nature of a poker.

He did not reach the door, nor was there necessity for him to ring,
for, before he had set foot on the lowest step, the Judge had hastened
to meet him.  Not, however, with any fulsomely hospitable intent; his
hand and arm were raised to execute one of his Olympian gestures, of
the kind which had obliterated the young man upon a certain by-gone
morning.

Louden looked up calmly at the big figure towering above him.

"It won't do, Judge," he said; that was all, but there was a
significance in his manner and a certainty in his voice which caused
the uplifted hand to drop limply; while the look of apprehension which
of late had grown more and more to be Martin Pike's habitual expression
deepened into something close upon mortal anxiety.

"Have you any business to set foot upon my property?" he demanded.

"Yes," answered Joe.  "That's why I came."

"What business have you got with me?"

"Enough to satisfy you, I think.  But there's one thing I don't want to
do"--Joe glanced at the open door--"and that is to talk about it
here--for your own sake and because I think Miss Tabor should be
present.  I called to ask you to come to her house at eight o'clock
to-night."

"You did!" Martin Pike spoke angrily, but not in the bull-bass of yore;
and he kept his voice down, glancing about him nervously as though he
feared that his wife or Mamie might hear. "My accounts with her estate
are closed," he said, harshly.  "If she wants anything, let her come
here."

Joe shook his head.  "No.  You must be there at eight o'clock."

The Judge's choler got the better of his uneasiness. "You're a pretty
one to come ordering me around!" he broke out.  "You slanderer, do you
suppose I haven't heard how you're going about traducing me,
undermining my character in this community, spreading scandals that I
am the real owner of Beaver Beach--"

"It can easily be proved, Judge," Joe interrupted, quietly, "though
you're wrong: I haven't been telling people.  I haven't needed to--even
if I'd wished.  Once a thing like that gets out you can't stop
it--ever!  That isn't all: to my knowledge you own other property worse
than the Beach; I know that you own half of the worst dens in the town:
profitable investments, too.  You bought them very gradually and
craftily, only showing the deeds to those in charge--as you did to Mike
Sheehan, and not recording them.  Sheehan's betrayal of you gave me the
key; I know most of the poor creatures who are your tenants, too, you
see, and that gave me an advantage because they have some confidence in
me.  My investigations have been almost as quiet and careful as your
purchases."

"You damned blackmailer!"  The Judge bent upon him a fierce, inquiring
scrutiny in which, oddly enough, there was a kind of haggard
hopefulness. "And out of such stories," he sneered, "you are going to
try to make political capital against the Tocsin, are you?"

"No," said Joe.  "It was necessary in the interests of my client for me
to know pretty thoroughly just what property you own, and I think I do.
These pieces I've mentioned are about all you have not mortgaged.  You
couldn't do that without exposure, and you've kept a controlling
interest in the Tocsin clear, too--for the sake of its influence, I
suppose.  Now, do you want to hear any more, or will you agree to meet
me at Miss Tabor's this evening?"

Whatever the look of hopefulness had signified, it fled from Pike's
face during this speech, but he asked with some show of contempt, "Do
you think it likely?"

"Very well," said Joe, "if you want me to speak here."  And he came a
little closer to him. "You bought a big block of Granger Gas for Roger
Tabor," he began, in a low voice.  "Before his death you sold
everything he had, except the old house, put it all into cash for him,
and bought that stock; you signed the check as his attorney-in-fact,
and it came back to you through the Washington National, where Norbert
Flitcroft handled it.  He has a good memory, and when he told me what
he knew, I had him to do some tracing; did a little myself, also.
Judge Pike, I must tell you that you stand in danger of the law.  You
were the custodian of that stock for Roger Tabor; it was transferred in
blank; though I think you meant to be 'legal' at that time, and that
was merely for convenience in case Roger had wished you to sell it for
him.  But just after his death you found yourself saddled with
distillery stock, which was going bad on your hands.  Other
speculations of yours were failing at the same time; you had to have
money--you filed your report as administrator, crediting Miss Tabor
with your own stock which you knew was going to the wall, and
transferred hers to yourself.  Then you sold it because you needed
ready money.  You used her fortune to save yourself--but you were
horribly afraid! No matter how rotten your transactions had been, you
had always kept inside the law; and now that you had gone outside of
it, you were frightened. You didn't dare come flat out to Miss Tabor
with the statement that her fortune had gone; it had been in your
charge all the time and things might look ugly.  So you put it off,
perhaps from day to day.  You didn't dare tell her until you were
forced to, and to avoid the confession you sent her the income which
was rightfully hers.  That was your great weakness."

Joe had spoken with great rapidity, though keeping his voice low, and
he lowered it again, as he continued:  "Judge Pike, what chance have
you to be believed in court when you swear that you sent her twenty
thousand dollars out of the goodness of your heart?  Do you think SHE
believed you?  It was the very proof to her that you had robbed her.
For she knew you!  Do you want to hear more now?  Do you think this is
a good place for it?  Do you wish me to go over the details of each
step I have taken against you, to land you at the bar where this poor
fellow your paper is hounding stands to-day?"

The Judge essayed to answer, and could not. He lifted his hand
uncertainly and dropped it, while a thick dew gathered on his temples.
Inarticulate sounds came from between his teeth.

"You will come?" said Joe.

Martin Pike bent his head dazedly; and at that the other turned quickly
from him and went away without looking back.


Ariel was in the studio, half an hour later, when Joe was announced by
the smiling Mr. Warden. Ladew was with her, though upon the point of
taking his leave, and Joe marked (with a sinking heart) that the young
minister's cheeks were flushed and his eyes very bright.

"It was a magnificent thing you did, Mr. Louden," he said, offering his
hand heartily; "I saw it, and it was even finer in one way than it was
plucky.  It somehow straightened things out with such perfect good
nature; it made those people feel that what they were doing was
ridiculous."

"So it was," said Joe.

"Few, under the circumstances, could have acted as if they thought so!
And I hope you'll let me call upon you, Mr. Louden."

"I hope you will," he answered; and then, when the minister had
departed, stood looking after him with sad eyes, in which there dwelt
obscure meditations. Ladew's word of farewell had covered a deep look
at Ariel, which was not to be mistaken by Joseph Louden for anything
other than what it was: the clergyman's secret was an open one, and Joe
saw that he was as frank and manly in love as in all other things.
"He's a good fellow," he said at last, sighing.  "A good man."

Ariel agreed.  "And he said more to me than he did to you."

"Yes, I think it probable," Joe smiled sorrowfully.

"About YOU, I mean."  He had time to fear that her look admitted
confusion before she proceeded:  "He said he had never seen anything so
fine as your coming down those steps.  Ah, he was right!  But it was
harder for me to watch you, I think, than for you to do it, Joe.  I was
so horribly afraid--and the crowd between us--if we could have got near
you--but we couldn't--we--"

She faltered, and pressed her hand close upon her eyes.

"We?" asked Joe, slowly.  "You mean you and Mr. Ladew?"

"Yes, he was there; but I mean"--her voice ran into a little laugh with
a beatific quaver in it--"I mean Colonel Flitcroft and Mr. Bradbury and
Mr. Buckalew, too--we were hemmed in together when Mr. Ladew found
us--and, oh, Joe, when that cowardly rush started toward you, those
three--I've heard wonderful things in Paris and Naples, cabmen
quarrelling and disappointed beggars--but never anything like them
to-day--"

"You mean they were profane?"

"Oh, magnificently--and with such inventiveness! All three begged my
pardon afterwards.  I didn't grant it--I blessed them!"

"Did they beg Mr. Ladew's pardon?"

"Ah, Joe!" she reproached him.  "He isn't a prig.  And he's had to
fight some things that you of all men ought to understand.  He's only
been here a few months, but he told me that Judge Pike has been against
him from the start.  It seems that Mr. Ladew is too liberal in his
views.  And he told me that if it were not for Judge Pike's losing
influence in the church on account of the Beaver Beach story, the Judge
would probably have been able to force him to resign; but now he will
stay."

"He wishes to stay, doesn't he?"

"Very much, I think.  And, Joe," she continued, thoughtfully, "I want
you to do something for me. I want you to go to church with me next
Sunday."

"To hear Mr. Ladew?"

"Yes.  I wouldn't ask except for that."

"Very well," he consented, with averted eyes. "I'll go."

Her face was radiant with the smile she gave him.  "It will make me
very happy," she said.

He bent his head and fumbled over some papers he had taken from his
pocket.  "Will you listen to these memoranda?  We have a great deal to
go over before eight o'clock."


Judge Pike stood for a long while where Joe had left him, staring out
at the street, apparently. Really he saw nothing.  Undoubtedly an image
of blurring foliage, cast-iron, cement, and turf, with sunshine smeared
over all, flickered upon the retinas of his eyes; but the brain did not
accept the picture from the optic nerve.  Martin Pike was busy with
other visions.  Joe Louden had followed him back to his hidden deeds
and had read them aloud to him as Gabriel would read them on
Judgment-day.  Perhaps THIS was the Judgment-day.

Pike had taken charge of Roger Tabor's affairs because the commissions
as agent were not too inconsiderable to be neglected.  To make the task
simpler, he had sold, as time went on, the various properties of the
estate, gradually converting all of them into cash.  Then, the
opportunity offering, he bought a stock which paid excellent dividends,
had it transferred in blank, because if it should prove to Roger's
advantage to sell it, his agent could do so without any formal delays
between Paris and Canaan.  At least, that is what the Judge had told
himself at the time, though it may be that some lurking whisperer in
his soul had hinted that it might be well to preserve the great amount
of cash in hand, and Roger's stock was practically that.  Then came the
evil days.  Laboriously, he had built up a name for conservatism which
most of the town accepted, but secretly he had always been a gambler:
Wall Street was his goal; to adventure there, as one of the great
single-eyed Cyclopean man-eaters, his fond ambition; and he had
conceived the distillery trust as a means to attain it; but the
structure tumbled about his ears; other edifices of his crumbled at the
same time; he found himself beset, his solvency endangered, and there
was the Tabor stock, quite as good as gold; Roger had just died, and it
was enough to save him.--Save?  That was a strange way to be
remembering it to-day, when Fate grinned at him out of a dreadful mask
contorted like the face of Norbert Flitcroft.

Martin Pike knew himself for a fool.  What chance had he, though he
destroyed the check a thousand times over, to escape the records by
which the coil of modern trade duplicates and quadruplicates each slip
of scribbled paper?  What chance had he against the memories of men?
Would the man of whom he had bought, forget that the check was signed
by Roger's agent?  Had the bank-clerk forgotten?  Thrice fool, Martin
Pike, to dream that in a town like Canaan, Norbert or any of his kind
could touch an order for so great a sum and forget it!  But Martin Pike
had not dreamed that; had dreamed nothing.  When failure confronted him
his mind refused to consider anything but his vital need at the time,
and he had supplied that need.  And now he grew busy with the future:
he saw first the civil suit for restitution, pressed with the ferocity
and cunning of one who intended to satisfy a grudge of years; then,
perhaps, a criminal prosecution....  But he would fight it!  Did they
think that such a man was to be overthrown by a breath of air?  By a
girl, a bank-clerk, and a shyster lawyer?  They would find their case
difficult to prove in court. He did not believe they COULD prove it.
They would be discredited for the attempt upon him and he would win
clear; these Beaver Beach scandals would die of inertia presently;
there would be a lucky trick in wheat, and Martin Pike would be Martin
Pike once more; reinstated, dictator of church, politics, business; all
those things which were the breath of his life restored.  He would show
this pitiful pack what manner of man they hounded!  Norbert
Flitcroft....

The Judge put his big hand up to his eyes and rubbed them.  Curious
mechanisms the eyes.... That deer in line with the vision--not a zebra?
A zebra after all these years?  And yet ... curious, indeed, the eyes!
... a zebra....  Who ever heard of a deer with stripes?  The big hand
rose from the eyes and ran through the hair which he had always worn
rather long.  It would seem strange to have it cut very short....  Did
they use clippers, perhaps? ...

He started suddenly and realized that his next-door neighbor had passed
along the sidewalk with head averted, pretending not to see him.  A few
weeks ago the man would not have missed the chance of looking in to
bow--with proper deference, too!  Did he know?  He could not know THIS!
It must be the Beaver Beach scandal.  It must be. It could not be
THIS--not yet!  But it MIGHT be. How many knew?  Louden, Norbert,
Ariel--who else? And again the deer took on the strange zebra look.

The Judge walked slowly down to the gate; spoke to the man he had
employed in Sam Warden's place, a Scotchman who had begun to refresh
the lawn with a garden hose; bowed affably in response to the
salutation of the elder Louden, who was passing, bound homeward from
the factory, and returned to the house with thoughtful steps.  In the
hall he encountered his wife; stopped to speak with her upon various
household matters; then entered the library, which was his workroom.
He locked the door; tried it, and shook the handle. After satisfying
himself of its security, he pulled down the window-shades carefully,
and, lighting a gas drop-lamp upon his desk, began to fumble with
various documents, which he took from a small safe near by.  But his
hands were not steady; he dropped the papers, scattering them over the
floor, and had great difficulty in picking them up. He perspired
heavily: whatever he touched became damp, and he continually mopped his
forehead with his sleeve.  After a time he gave up the attempt to sort
the packets of papers; sank into a chair despairingly, leaving most of
them in disorder. A light tap sounded on the door.

"Martin, it's supper-time."

With a great effort he made shift to answer: "Yes, I know.  You and
Mamie go ahead.  I'm too busy to-night.  I don't want anything."

A moment before, he had been a pitiful figure, face distraught, hands
incoherent, the whole body incoordinate, but if eyes might have rested
upon him as he answered his wife they would have seen a strange thing;
he sat, apparently steady and collected, his expression cool, his body
quiet, poised exactly to the quality of his reply, for the same strange
reason that a young girl smiles archly and coquettes to a telephone.

"But, Martin, you oughtn't to work so hard. You'll break down--"

"No fear of that," he replied, cheerfully.  "You can leave something on
the sideboard for me."

After another fluttering remonstrance, she went away, and the room was
silent again.  His arms rested upon the desk, and his head slowly sank
between his elbows.  When he lifted it again the clock on the
mantel-piece had tinkled once.  It was half-past seven.  He took a
sheet of note-paper from a box before him and began to write, but when
he had finished the words, "My dear wife and Mamie," his fingers shook
so violently that he could go no further.  He placed his left hand over
the back of his right to steady it, but found the device unavailing:
the pen left mere zigzags on the page, and he dropped it.

He opened a lower drawer of the desk and took out of it a pistol; rose,
went to the door, tried it once more, and again was satisfied of his
seclusion. Then he took the weapon in both hands, the handle against
his fingers, one thumb against the trigger, and, shaking with nausea,
lifted it to the level of his eyes.  His will betrayed him; he could
not contract his thumb upon the trigger, and, with a convulsive shiver,
he dropped the revolver upon the desk.

He locked the door of the room behind him, crept down the stairs and
out of the front-door. He walked shamblingly, when he reached the
street, keeping close to the fences as he went on, now and then
touching the pickets with his hands like a feeble old man.

He had always been prompt; it was one of the things of which he had
been proud: in all his life he had never failed to keep a business
engagement precisely upon the appointed time, and the Court-house bell
clanged eight when Sam Warden opened the door for his old employer
to-night.

The two young people looked up gravely from the script-laden table
before them as Martin Pike came into the strong lamplight out of the
dimness of the hall, where only a taper burned.  He shambled a few limp
steps into the room and came to a halt.  Big as he was, his clothes
hung upon him loosely, like coverlets upon a collapsed bed; and he
seemed but a distorted image of himself, as if (save for the dull and
reddened eyes) he had been made of yellowish wax and had been left too
long in the sun.  Abject, hopeless, his attitude a confession of ruin
and shame, he stood before his judges in such wretchedness that, in
comparison, the figure of Happy Fear, facing the court-room through his
darkest hour, was one to be envied.

"Well," he said, brokenly, "what are you going to do?"

Joe Louden looked at him with great intentness for several moments.
Then he rose and came forward.  "Sit down, Judge," he said.  "It's all
right.  Don't worry."



XXV

THE JURY COMES IN

Mrs. Flitcroft, at breakfast on the following morning, continued a
disquisition which had ceased, the previous night, only because of a
provoking human incapacity to exist without sleep.  Her theme was one
which had exclusively occupied her since the passing of Eskew, and, her
rheumatism having improved so that she could leave her chair, she had
become a sort of walking serial; Norbert and his grandfather being well
assured that, whenever they left the house, the same story was to be
continued upon their reappearance.  The Tocsin had been her great
comfort: she was but one helpless woman against two strong men;
therefore she sorely needed assistance in her attack upon them, and the
invaluable newspaper gave it in generous measure.

"Yes, young man," she said, as she lifted her first spoonful of
oatmeal, "you BETTER read the Tocsin!"

"I AM reading it," responded Norbert, who was almost concealed by the
paper.

"And your grandfather better read it!" she continued, severely.

"I already have," said the Colonel, promptly. "Have you?"

"No, but you can be sure I will!"  The good lady gave the effect of
tossing her head.  "And you better take what it says to heart, you and
some others.  It's a wonder to me that you and Buckalew and old Peter
don't go and hold that Happy Fear's hand durin' the trial!  And as for
Joe Louden, his step-mother's own sister, Jane, says to me only
yesterday afternoon, 'Why, law! Mrs. Flitcroft,' she says, 'it's a
wonder to me,' she says, 'that your husband and those two other old
fools don't lay down in the gutter and let that Joe Louden walk over
'em.'"

"Did Jane Quimby say 'those two other old fools'?" inquired the
Colonel, in a manner which indicated that he might see Mr. Quimby in
regard to the slander.

"I can't say as I remember just precisely her exact words," admitted
Mrs. Flitcroft, "but that was the sense of 'em!  You've made yourselves
the laughin'-stock of the whole town!"

"Oh, we have?"

"And I'd like to know"--her voice became shrill and goading--"I'd like
to know what Judge Pike thinks of you and Norbert!  I should think
you'd be ashamed to have him pass you in the street."

"I've quit speaking to him," said Norbert, coldly, "ever since I heard
he owned Beaver Beach."

"That story ain't proved yet!" returned his grandmother, with much
irascibility.

"Well, it will be; but that's not all."  Norbert wagged his head.  "You
may be a little surprised within the next few days."

"I've been surprised for the PAST few!" she replied, with a bitterness
which overrode her satisfaction in the effectiveness of the retort.
"Surprised!  I'd like to know who wouldn't be surprised when half the
town acts like it's gone crazy. People PRAISIN' that fellow, that
nobody in their sober minds and senses never in their lives had a good
word for before!  Why, there was more talk yesterday about his doin's
at the Court-house--you'd of thought he was Phil Sheridan!  It's 'Joe
Louden' here and 'Joe Louden' there, and 'Joe Louden' this and 'Joe
Louden' that, till I'm sick of the name!"

"Then why don't you quit saying it?" asked the Colonel, reasonably.

"Because it'd OUGHT to be said!" she exclaimed, with great heat.
"Because he'd ought to be held up to the community to be despised.  You
let me have that paper a minute," she pursued, vehemently; "you just
let me have the Tocsin and I'll read you out some things about him that
'll show him in his true light!"

"All right," said Norbert, suddenly handing her the paper.  "Go ahead."

And after the exchange of a single glance the two gentlemen composed
themselves to listen.

"Ha!" exclaimed Mrs. Flitcroft.  "Here it is in head-lines on the first
page.  'Defence Scores Again and Again.  Ridiculous Behavior of a
Would-Be Mob.  Louden's--'"  She paused, removed her spectacles,
examined them dubiously, restored them to place, and continued:
"'Louden's Masterly Conduct and Well-Deserved--'" she paused again,
incredulous--"'Well-Deserved Triumph--'"

"Go on," said the Colonel, softly.

"Indeed I will!" the old lady replied.  "Do you think I don't know
sarcasm when I see it?  Ha, ha!"  She laughed with great heartiness.
"I reckon I WILL go on!  You listen and try to LEARN something from
it!"  She resumed the reading:

"'It is generally admitted that after yesterday's sitting of the court,
the prosecution in the Fear-Cory murder trial has not a leg to stand
on.  Louden's fight for his client has been, it must be confessed, of a
most splendid and talented order, and the bottom has fallen out of the
case for the State, while a verdict of Not Guilty, it is now conceded,
is the general wish of those who have attended and followed the trial.
But the most interesting event of the day took place after the session,
when some miscreants undertook to mob the attorney for the defence in
the Court-house yard.  He met the attack with a coolness and nerve
which have won him a popularity that--'" Mrs. Flitcroft again faltered.

"Go on," repeated the Colonel.  "There's a great deal more."

"Look at the editorials," suggested Norbert. "There's one on the same
subject."

Mrs. Flitcroft, her theory of the Tocsin's sarcasm somewhat shaken,
turned the page.  "We Confess a Mistake" was the rubric above the
leader, and she uttered a cry of triumph, for she thought the mistake
was what she had just been reading, and that the editorial would
apologize for the incomprehensible journalistic error upon the first
page. "'The best of us make mistakes, and it is well to have a change
of heart sometimes.'"  (Thus Eugene's successor had written, and so
Mrs. Flitcroft read.)  "'An open confession is good for the soul.  The
Tocsin has changed its mind in regard to certain matters, and means to
say so freely and frankly.  After yesterday's events in connection with
the murder trial before our public, the evidence being now all
presented, for we understand that neither side has more to offer, it is
generally conceded that all good citizens are hopeful of a verdict of
acquittal; and the Tocsin is a good citizen.  No good citizen would
willingly see an innocent man punished, and that our city is not to be
disgraced by such a miscarriage of justice is due to the efforts of the
attorney for the defendant, who has gained credit not only by his
masterly management of this case, but by his splendid conduct in the
face of danger yesterday afternoon. He has distinguished himself so
greatly that we frankly assert that our citizens may point with pride
to--'" Mrs. Flitcroft's voice, at the beginning pitched to a high
exultation, had gradually lowered in key and dropped down the scale
till it disappeared altogether.

"It's a wonder to me," the Colonel began, "that the Tocsin doesn't go
and hold Joe Louden's hand."

"I'll read the rest of it for you," said Norbert, his heavy face
lighting up with cruelty.  "Let's see--where were you?  Oh yes--'point
with pride'?  'Our citizens may point with pride to ...'"

Let us not linger to observe the unmanly behavior of an aged man and
his grandson left alone at the breakfast-table by a defenceless woman.

The Tocsin's right-about-face undermined others besides Mrs. Flitcroft
that morning, and rejoiced greater (though not better) men than the
Colonel. Mr. Farbach and his lieutenants smiled, yet stared, amazed,
wondering what had happened.  That was a thing which only three people
even certainly knew; yet it was very simple.

The Tocsin was part of the Judge's restitution.

"The controlling interest in the paper, together with the other
property I have listed," Joe had said, studying his memoranda under the
lamp in Roger's old studio, while Martin Pike listened with his head in
his hands, "make up what Miss Tabor is willing to accept.  As I
estimate it, their total value is between a third and a half of that of
the stock which belonged to her."

"But this boy--this Flitcroft," said Pike, feebly; "he might--"

"He will do nothing," interrupted Joe.  "The case is 'settled out of
court,' and even if he were disposed to harass you, he could hardly
hope to succeed, since Miss Tabor declines either to sue or to
prosecute."

The Judge winced at the last word.  "Yes--yes, I know; but he might--he
might--tell."

"I think Miss Tabor's influence will prevent. If it should not--well,
you're not in a desperate case by any means; you're involved, but far
from stripped; in time you may be as sound as ever. And if Norbert
tells, there's nothing for you to do but to live it down."  A faint
smile played upon Joe's lips as he lifted his head and looked at the
other.  "It can be done, I think."

It was then that Ariel, complaining of the warmth of the evening,
thought it possible that Joe might find her fan upon the porch, and as
he departed, whispered hurriedly:  "Judge Pike, I'm not technically in
control of the Tocsin, but haven't I the right to control its policy?"

"I understand," he muttered.  "You mean about Louden--about this
trial--"

"That is why I have taken the paper."

"You want all that changed, you mean?"

She nodded decisively.  "From this instant. Before morning."

"Oh, well, I'll go down there and give the word." He rubbed his eyes
wearily with big thumbs. "I'm through fighting.  I'm done.  Besides,
what's the use?  There's nothing more to fight."

"Now, Judge," Joe said, as he came in briskly, "we'll go over the list
of that unencumbered property, if you will."

This unencumbered property consisted of Beaver Beach and those other
belongings of the Judge which he had not dared to mortgage.  Joe had
somehow explained their nature to Ariel, and these with the Tocsin she
had elected to accept in restitution.

"You told me once that I ought to look after my own property, and now I
will.  Don't you see?" she cried to Joe, eagerly.  "It's my work!"  She
resolutely set aside every other proposition; and this was the quality
of mercy which Martin Pike found that night.


There was a great crowd to hear Joe's summing-up at the trial, and
those who succeeded in getting into the court-room declared that it was
worth the struggle.  He did not orate, he did not "thunder at the
jury," nor did he slyly flatter them; he did not overdo the
confidential, nor seem so secure of understanding beforehand what their
verdict would be that they felt an instinctive desire to fool him.  He
talked colloquially but clearly, without appeal to the pathetic and
without garnitures, not mentioning sunsets, birds, oceans, homes, the
glorious old State, or the happiness of liberty; but he made everybody
in the room quite sure that Happy Fear had fired the shot which killed
Cory to save his own life.  And that, as Mr. Bradbury remarked to the
Colonel, was "what Joe was THERE for!"

Ariel's escort was increased to four that day: Mr. Ladew sat beside
her, and there were times when Joe kept his mind entirely to the work
in hand only by an effort, but he always succeeded. The sight of the
pale and worshipping face of Happy Fear from the corner of his eye was
enough to insure that.  And people who could not get near the doors,
asking those who could, "What's he doin' now?" were answered by
variations of the one formula, "Oh, jest walkin' away with it!"

Once the court-room was disturbed and set in an uproar which even the
Judge's customary threat failed to subdue.  Joe had been talking very
rapidly, and having turned the point he was making with perfect
dexterity, the jury listening eagerly, stopped for a moment to take a
swallow of water.  A voice rose over the low hum of the crowd in a
delirious chuckle:  "Why don't somebody 'HEAD HIM OFF!'"  The room
instantly rocked with laughter, under cover of which the identity of
the sacrilegious chuckler was not discovered, but the voice was the
voice of Buckalew, who was incredibly surprised to find that he had
spoken aloud.

The jury were "out," after the case had been given to them, seventeen
minutes and thirty seconds by the watch Claudine held in her hand.  The
little man, whose fate was now on the knees of the gods, looked
pathetically at the foreman and then at the face of his lawyer and
began to shake violently, but not with fright.  He had gone to the jail
on Joe's word, as a good dog goes where his master bids, trustfully;
and yet Happy had not been able to keep his mind from considering the
horrible chances.  "Don't worry," Joe had said.  "It's all right.  I'll
see you through." And he had kept his word.

The little man was cleared.

It took Happy a long time to get through what he had to say to his
attorney in the anteroom, and even then, of course, he did not manage
to put it in words, for he had "broken down" with sheer gratitude.
"Why, damn ME, Joe," he sobbed, "if ever I--if ever you--well, by God!
if you ever--"  This was the substance of his lingual accomplishment
under the circumstances.  But Claudine threw her arms around poor Joe's
neck and kissed him.

Many people were waiting to shake hands with Joe and congratulate him.
The trio, taking advantage of seats near the rail, had already done
that (somewhat uproariously) before he had followed Happy, and so had
Ariel and Ladew, both, necessarily, rather hurriedly.  But in the
corridors he found, when he came out of the anteroom, clients,
acquaintances, friends: old friends, new friends, and friends he had
never seen before--everybody beaming upon him and wringing his hand, as
if they had been sure of it all from the start.

"KNOW him?" said one to another.  "Why, I've knowed him sence he was
that high!  SMART little feller he was, too!"  This was a total
stranger.

"I said, years ago"--thus Mr. Brown, the "National House" clerk,
proving his prophetic vision--"that he'd turn out to be a big man some
day."

They gathered round him if he stopped for an instant, and crowded after
him admiringly when he went on again, making his progress slow.  When
he finally came out of the big doors into the sunshine, there were as
many people in the yard as there had been when he stood in the same
place and watched the mob rushing his client's guards. But to-day their
temper was different, and as he paused a moment, looking down on the
upturned, laughing faces, with a hundred jocular and congratulatory
salutations shouted up at him, somebody started a cheer, and it was
taken up with thunderous good-will.

There followed the interrogation customary in such emergencies, and the
anxious inquirer was informed by four or five hundred people
simultaneously that Joe Louden was all right.

"HEAD HIM OFF!" bellowed Mike Sheehan, suddenly darting up the steps.
The shout increased, and with good reason, for he stepped quickly back
within the doors; and, retreating through the building, made good his
escape by a basement door.

He struck off into a long detour, but though he managed to evade the
crowd, he had to stop and shake hands with every third person he met.
As he came out upon Main Street again, he encountered his father.

"Howdy do, Joe?" said this laconic person, and offered his hand.  They
shook, briefly.  "Well," he continued, rubbing his beard, "how are ye?"

"All right, father, I think."

"Satisfied with the verdict?"

"I'd be pretty hard to please if I weren't," Joe laughed.

Mr. Louden rubbed his beard again.  "I was there," he said, without
emotion.

"At the trial, you mean?"

"Yes."  He offered his hand once more, and again they shook.  "Well,
come around and see us," he said.

"Thank you.  I will."

"Well," said Mr. Louden, "good-day, Joe."

"Good-day, father."


The young man stood looking after him with a curious smile.  Then he
gave a slight start.  Far up the street he saw two figures, one a
lady's, in white, with a wide white hat; the other a man's, wearing
recognizably clerical black.  They seemed to be walking very slowly.

It had been a day of triumph for Joe; but in all his life he never
slept worse than he did that night.



XXVI

ANCIENT OF DAYS

He woke to the chiming of bells, and, as his eyes slowly opened, the
sorrowful people of a dream, who seemed to be bending over him,
weeping, swam back into the darkness of the night whence they had come,
and returned to the imperceptible, leaving their shadows in his heart.
Slowly he rose, stumbled into the outer room, and released the
fluttering shade; but the sunshine, springing like a golden lover
through the open window, only dazzled him, and found no answering
gladness to greet it, nor joy in the royal day it heralded.

And yet, to the newly cleaned boys on their way to midsummer morning
Sunday-school, the breath of that cool August day was as sweet as
stolen apples.  No doubt the stir of far, green thickets and the
twinkle of silver-slippered creeks shimmered in the longing vision of
their minds' eyes; even so, they were merry.  But Joseph Louden,
sighing as he descended his narrow stairs, with the bitterness still
upon his lips of the frightful coffee he had made, heard the echo of
their laughter with wonder.

It would be an hour at least before time to start to church, when Ariel
expected him; he stared absently up the street, then down, and, after
that, began slowly to walk in the latter direction, with no very active
consciousness, or care, of where he went.  He had fallen into a
profound reverie, so deep that when he had crossed the bridge and
turned into a dusty road which ran along the river-bank, he stopped
mechanically beside the trunk of a fallen sycamore, and, lifting his
head, for the first time since he had set out, looked about him with a
melancholy perplexity, a little surprised to find himself there.

For this was the spot where he had first seen the new Ariel, and on
that fallen sycamore they had sat together.  "REMEMBER, ACROSS MAIN
STREET BRIDGE AT NOON!"  And Joe's cheeks burned, as he recalled why he
had not understood the clear voice that had haunted him.  But that
shame had fallen from him; she had changed all that, as she had changed
so many things.  He sank down in the long grass, with his back against
the log, and stared out over the fields of tall corn, shaking in a
steady wind all the way to the horizon.

"Changed so many things?" he said, half aloud. "Everything!"  Ah, yes,
she had changed the whole world for Joseph Louden--at his first sight
of her!  And now it seemed to him that he was to lose her, but not in
the way he had thought.

Almost from the very first, he had the feeling that nothing so
beautiful as that she should stay in Canaan could happen to him.  He
was sure that she was but for the little while, that her coming was
like the flying petals of which he had told her.

He had lain upon the earth; and she had lifted him up.  For a moment he
had felt the beatific wings enfolding him with gentle protection, and
then saw them lifted to bear the angel beyond his sight.  For it was
incredible that the gods so loved Joe Louden that they would make
greater gifts to him than this little time with her which they had
granted him.

"Changed so many things?"

The bars that had been between him and half of his world were down,
shattered, never more to be replaced; and the ban of Canaan was lifted.
Could this have been, save for her?  And upon that thought he got to
his feet, uttering an exclamation of bitter self-reproach, asking
himself angrily what he was doing.  He knew how much she gave him, what
full measure of her affection! Was not that enough?--Out upon you,
Louden! Are you to sulk in your tent, dour in the gloom, or to play a
man's part, and if she be happy, turn a cheery face upon her joy?

And thus this pilgrim recrossed the bridge, emerging to the street with
his head up, smiling, and his shoulders thrown back so that none might
see the burden he carried.


Ariel was waiting on the porch for him.  She wore the same dress she
had worn that Sunday of their tryst; that exquisite dress, with the
faint lavender overtint, like the tender colors of the beautiful day he
made his own.  She had not worn it since, and he was far distant when
he caught the first flickering glimpse of her through the lower
branches of the maples, but he remembered.... And again, as on that
day, he heard a far-away, ineffable music, the Elf-land horns, sounding
the mysterious reveille which had wakened his soul to her coming.

She came to the gate to meet him, and gave him her hand in greeting,
without a word--or the need of one--from either.  Then together they
set forth over the sun-flecked pavement, the maples swishing above
them, heavier branches crooning in the strong breeze, under a sky like
a Della Robbia background.  And up against the glorious blue of it,
some laughing, invisible god was blowing small, rounded clouds of pure
cotton, as children blow thistledown.

When he opened her parasol, as they came out into the broad sunshine
beyond Upper Main Street, there was the faintest mingling of wild roses
and cinnamon loosed on the air.

"Joe," she said, "I'm very happy!"

"That's right," he returned, heartily.  "I think you always will be."

"But, oh! I wish," she went on, "that Mr. Arp could have lived to see
you come down the Court-house steps."

"God bless him!" said Joe.  "I can hear the 'argument'!"

"Those dear old men have been so loyal to you, Joe."

"No," he returned; "loyal to Eskew."

"To you both," she said.  "I'm afraid the old circle is broken up; they
haven't met on the National House corner since he died.  The Colonel
told me he couldn't bear to go there again."

"I don't believe any of them ever will," he returned.  "And yet I never
pass the place that I don't see Eskew in his old chair.  I went there
last night to commune with him.  I couldn't sleep, and I got up, and
went over there; they'd left the chairs out; the town was asleep, and
it was beautiful moonlight--"

"To commune with him?  What about?"

"You."

"Why?" she asked, plainly mystified.

"I stood in need of good counsel," he answered, cheerfully, "or a
friendly word, perhaps, and--as I sat there--after a while it came."

"What was it?"

"To forget that I was sodden with selfishness; to pretend not to be as
full of meanness as I really was!  Doesn't that seem to be Eskew's own
voice?"

"Weren't you happy last night, Joe?"

"Oh, it was all right," he said, quickly.  "Don't you worry."

And at this old speech of his she broke into a little laugh of which he
had no comprehension.

"Mamie came to see me early this morning," she said, after they had
walked on in silence for a time.  "Everything is all right with her
again; that is, I think it will be.  Eugene is coming home. And," she
added, thoughtfully, "it will be best for him to have his old place on
the Tocsin again. She showed me his letter, and I liked it.  I think
he's been through the fire--"

Joe's distorted smile appeared.  "And has come out gold?" he asked.

"No," she laughed; "but nearer it!  And I think he'll try to be more
worth her caring for. She has always thought that his leaving the
Tocsin in the way he did was heroic.  That was her word for it.  And it
WAS the finest thing he ever did."

"I can't figure Eugene out."  Joe shook his head.  "There's something
behind his going away that I don't understand."  This was altogether
the truth; nor was there ever to come a time when either he or Mamie
would understand what things had determined the departure of Eugene
Bantry; though Mamie never questioned, as Joe did, the reasons for it,
or doubted those Eugene had given her, which were the same he had given
her father. For she was content with his return.


Again the bells across the Square rang out their chime.  The paths were
decorously enlivened with family and neighborhood groups, bound
churchward; and the rumble of the organ, playing the people into their
pews, shook on the air.  And Joe knew that he must speak quickly, if he
was to say what he had planned to say, before he and Ariel went into
the church.

"Ariel?"  He tried to compel his voice to a casual cheerfulness, but it
would do nothing for him, except betray a desperate embarrassment.

She looked at him quickly, and as quickly away.

"Yes?"

"I wanted to say something to you, and I'd better do it now, I
think--before I go to church for the first time in two years!"  He
managed to laugh, though with some ruefulness, and continued
stammeringly:  "I want to tell you how much I like him--how much I
admire him--"

"Admire whom?" she asked, a little coldly, for she knew.

"Mr. Ladew."

"So do I," she answered, looking straight ahead. "That is one reason
why I wanted you to come with me to-day."

"It isn't only that.  I want to tell you--to tell you--"  He broke off
for a second.  "You remember that night in my office before Fear came
in?"

"Yes; I remember."

"And that I--that something I said troubled you because it--it sounded
as if I cared too much for you--"

"No; not too much."  She still looked straight ahead.  They were
walking very slowly.  "You didn't understand.  You'd been in my mind,
you see, all those years, so much more than I in yours. I hadn't
forgotten YOU.  But to you I was really a stranger--"

"No, no!" he cried.

"Yes, I was," she said, gently but very quickly. "And I--I didn't want
you to fall in love with me at first sight.  And yet--perhaps I did!
But I hadn't thought of things in that way.  I had just the same
feeling for you that I always had--always! I had never cared so much
for any one else, and it seemed to me the most necessary thing in my
life to come back to that old companionship--  Don't you remember--it
used to trouble you so when I would take your hand?  I think I loved
your being a little rough with me.  And once, when I saw how you had
been hurt, that day you ran away--"

"Ariel!" he gasped, helplessly.

"Have you forgotten?"

He gathered himself together with all his will. "I want to prove to
you," he said, resolutely, "that the dear kindness of you isn't thrown
away on me; I want you to know what I began to say: that it's all right
with me; and I think Ladew--" He stopped again.  "Ah!  I've seen how
much he cares for you--"

"Have you?"

"Ariel," he said, "that isn't fair to me, if you trust me.  You could
not have helped seeing--"

"But I have not seen it," she interrupted, with great calmness.  After
having said this, she finished truthfully:  "If he did, I would never
let him tell me.  I like him too much."

"You mean you're not going to--"

Suddenly she turned to him.  "NO!" she said, with a depth of anger he
had not heard in her voice since that long-ago winter day when she
struck Eugene Bantry with her clenched fist. She swept over him a
blinding look of reproach. "How could I?"

And there, upon the steps of the church, in the sudden, dazzling vision
of her love, fell the burden of him who had made his sorrowful
pilgrimage across Main Street bridge that morning.


A manifold rustling followed them as they went down the aisle, and the
sibilance of many whisperings; but Joe was not conscious of that, as he
took his place in Ariel's pew beside her.  For him there was only the
presence of divinity; the church was filled with it.


They rose to sing:

   "Ancient of days, Who sittest, throned in glory,
      To Thee all knees are bent, all voices pray;
   Thy love has blest the wide world's wondrous story
      With light and life since Eden's dawning day."


And then, as they knelt to pray, there were the white heads of the
three old friends of Eskew Arp; and beyond was the silver hair of
Martin Pike, who knelt beside his daughter.  Joe felt that people
should be very kind to the Judge.


The sun, so eager without, came temperately through the windows, where
stood angels and saints in gentle colors, and the face of the young
minister in this quiet light was like the faces in the windows....

"Not only to confront your enemies," he said; "that is not enough; nor
is it that I would have you bluster at them, nor take arms against
them; you will not have to do that if, when they come at you, you do
not turn one inch aside, but with an assured heart, with good nature,
not noisily, and with steadfastness, you keep on your way.  If you can
do that, I say that they will turn aside for you, and you shall walk
straight through them, and only laughter be left of their anger!"

There was a stir among the people, and many faces turned toward Joe.
Two years ago he had sat in the same church, when his character and
actions had furnished the underlying theme of a sermon, and he had
recognized himself without difficulty: to-day he had not the shadow of
a dream that the same thing was happening.  He thought the people were
turning to look at Ariel, and he was very far from wondering at that.

She saw that he did not understand; she was glad to have it so.  She
had taken off her gloves, and he was holding them lightly and
reverently in his hands, looking down upon them, his thin cheeks a
little flushed.  And at that, and not knowing the glory that was in his
soul, something forlorn in his careful tenderness toward her gloves so
touched her that she felt the tears coming to her eyes with a sudden
rush.  And to prevent them.

"Not the empty gloves, Joe," she whispered.





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