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Title: Flappers and Philosophers
Author: Fitzgerald, F. Scott (Francis Scott), 1896-1940
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Flappers and Philosophers" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                   FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
                      F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

                            To Zelda



Contents

  The Offshore Pirate
  The Ice Palace
  Head and Shoulders
  The Cut-Glass Bowl
  Bernice Bobs Her Hair
  Benediction
  Dalyrimple Goes Wrong
  The Four Fists



Flappers and Philosophers



The Offshore Pirate



I


This unlikely story begins on a sea that was a blue dream, as
colorful as blue-silk stockings, and beneath a sky as blue as the
irises of children's eyes. From the western half of the sky the
sun was shying little golden disks at the sea--if you gazed
intently enough you could see them skip from wave tip to wave tip
until they joined a broad collar of golden coin that was
collecting half a mile out and would eventually be a dazzling
sunset. About half-way between the Florida shore and the golden
collar a white steam-yacht, very young and graceful, was riding
at anchor and under a blue-and-white awning aft a yellow-haired
girl reclined in a wicker settee reading The Revolt of the
Angels, by Anatole France.

She was about nineteen, slender and supple, with a spoiled
alluring mouth and quick gray eyes full of a radiant curiosity.
Her feet, stockingless, and adorned rather than clad in
blue-satin slippers which swung nonchalantly from her toes, were
perched on the arm of a settee adjoining the one she occupied.
And as she read she intermittently regaled herself by a faint
application to her tongue of a half-lemon that she held in her
hand. The other half, sucked dry, lay on the deck at her feet and
rocked very gently to and fro at the almost imperceptible motion
of the tide.

The second half-lemon was well-nigh pulpless and the golden
collar had grown astonishing in width, when suddenly the drowsy
silence which enveloped the yacht was broken by the sound of
heavy footsteps and an elderly man topped with orderly gray hair
and clad in a white-flannel suit appeared at the head of the
companionway. There he paused for a moment until his eyes became
accustomed to the sun, and then seeing the girl under the awning
he uttered a long even grunt of disapproval.

If he had intended thereby to obtain a rise of any sort he was
doomed to disappointment. The girl calmly turned over two pages,
turned back one, raised the lemon mechanically to tasting
distance, and then very faintly but quite unmistakably yawned.

"Ardita!" said the gray-haired man sternly.

Ardita uttered a small sound indicating nothing.

"Ardita!" he repeated. "Ardita!"

Ardita raised the lemon languidly, allowing three words to slip
out before it reached her tongue.

"Oh, shut up."

"Ardita!"

"What?"

"Will you listen to me--or will I have to get a servant to hold
you while I talk to you?"

The lemon descended very slowly and scornfully.

"Put it in writing."

"Will you have the decency to close that abominable book and
discard that damn lemon for two minutes?"

"Oh, can't you lemme alone for a second?"

"Ardita, I have just received a telephone message from the
shore---"

"Telephone?" She showed for the first time a faint interest.

"Yes, it was---"

"Do you mean to say," she interrupted wonderingly, "'at they let
you run a wire out here?"

"Yes, and just now---"

"Won't other boats bump into it?"

"No. It's run along the bottom. Five min---"

"Well, I'll be darned! Gosh! Science is golden or
something--isn't it?"

"Will you let me say what I started to?"

"Shoot!"

"Well it seems--well, I am up here--" He paused and swallowed
several times distractedly. "Oh, yes. Young woman, Colonel
Moreland has called up again to ask me to be sure to bring you in
to dinner. His son Toby has come all the way from New York to
meet you and he's invited several other young people. For the
last time, will you---"

"No," said Ardita shortly, "I won't. I came along on this darn
cruise with the one idea of going to Palm Beach, and you knew it,
and I absolutely refuse to meet any darn old colonel or any darn
young Toby or any darn old young people or to set foot in any
other darn old town in this crazy state. So you either take me to
Palm Beach or else shut up and go away."

"Very well. This is the last straw. In your infatuation for this
man.--a man who is notorious for his excesses--a man your father
would not have allowed to so much as mention your name--you have
rejected the demi-monde rather than the circles in which you have
presumably grown up. From now on---"

"I know," interrupted Ardita ironically, "from now on you go your
way and I go mine. I've heard that story before. You know I'd
like nothing better."

"From now on," he announced grandiloquently, "you are no niece of
mine. I---"

"O-o-o-oh!" The cry was wrung from Ardita with the agony of a
lost soul. "Will you stop boring me! Will you go 'way! Will you
jump overboard and drown! Do you want me to throw this book at
you!"

"If you dare do any---"

Smack! The Revolt of the Angels sailed through the air, missed
its target by the length of a short nose, and bumped cheerfully
down the companionway.

The gray-haired man made an instinctive step backward and then
two cautious steps forward. Ardita jumped to her five feet four
and stared at him defiantly, her gray eyes blazing.

"Keep off!"

"How dare you!" he cried.

"Because I darn please!"

"You've grown unbearable! Your disposition---"

"You've made me that way! No child ever has a bad disposition
unless it's her fancy's fault! Whatever I am, you did it."

Muttering something under his breath her uncle turned and,
walking forward called in a loud voice for the launch. Then he
returned to the awning, where Ardita had again seated herself and
resumed her attention to the lemon.

"I am going ashore," he said slowly. "I will be out again at nine
o'clock to-night. When I return we start back to New York,
wither I shall turn you over to your aunt for the rest of your
natural, or rather unnatural, life."  He paused and looked at
her, and then all at once something in the utter childness of her
beauty seemed to puncture his anger like an inflated tire, and
render him helpless, uncertain, utterly fatuous.

"Ardita," he said not unkindly, "I'm no fool. I've been round. I
know men. And, child, confirmed libertines don't reform until
they're tired--and then they're not themselves--they're husks of
themselves." He looked at her as if expecting agreement, but
receiving no sight or sound of it he continued. "Perhaps the man
loves you--that's possible. He's loved many women and he'll love
many more. Less than a month ago, one month, Ardita, he was
involved in a notorious affair with that red-haired woman, Mimi
Merril; promised to give her the diamond bracelet that the Czar
of Russia gave his mother. You know--you read the papers."

"Thrilling scandals by an anxious uncle," yawned Ardita. "Have it
filmed. Wicked clubman making eyes at virtuous flapper. Virtuous
flapper conclusively vamped by his lurid past. Plans to meet him
at Palm Beach. Foiled by anxious uncle."

"Will you tell me why the devil you want to marry him?"

"I'm sure I couldn't say," said Audits shortly. "Maybe because
he's the only man I know, good or bad, who has an imagination and
the courage of his convictions. Maybe it's to get away from the
young fools that spend their vacuous hours pursuing me around the
country. But as for the famous Russian bracelet, you can set
your mind at rest on that score. He's going to give it to me at
Palm Beach--if you'll show a little intelligence."

"How about the--red-haired woman?"

"He hasn't seen her for six months," she said angrily. "Don't you
suppose I have enough pride to see to that? Don't you know by
this time that I can do any darn thing with any darn man I want
to?"

She put her chin in the air like the statue of France Aroused,
and then spoiled the pose somewhat by raising the lemon for
action.

"Is it the Russian bracelet that fascinates you?"

"No, I'm merely trying to give you the sort of argument that
would appeal to your intelligence. And I wish you'd go 'way," she
said, her temper rising again. "You know I never change my mind.
You've been boring me for three days until I'm about to go
crazy. I won't go ashore! Won't! Do you hear? Won't!"

"Very well," he said, "and you won't go to Palm Beach either. Of
all the selfish, spoiled, uncontrolled disagreeable, impossible
girl I have---"

Splush! The half-lemon caught him in the neck. Simultaneously
came a hail from over the side.

"The launch is ready, Mr. Farnam."

Too full of words and rage to speak, Mr. Farnam cast one utterly
condemning glance at his niece and, turning, ran swiftly down the
ladder.



II


Five o'clock robed down from the sun and plumped soundlessly into
the sea. The golden collar widened into a glittering island; and
a faint breeze that had been playing with the edges of the
awning and swaying one of the dangling blue slippers became
suddenly freighted with song. It was a chorus of men in close
harmony and in perfect rhythm to an accompanying sound of oars
dealing the blue writers. Ardita lifted her head and listened.

     "Carrots and Peas,
      Beans on their knees,
      Pigs in the seas,
          Lucky fellows!
      Blow us a breeze,
      Blow us a breeze,
      Blow us a breeze,
          With your bellows."

Ardita's brow wrinkled in astonishment. Sitting very still she
listened eagerly as the chorus took up a second verse.

     "Onions and beans,
      Marshalls and Deans,
      Goldbergs and Greens
          And Costellos.
      Blow us a breeze,
      Blow us a breeze,
      Blow us a breeze,
          With your bellows."

With an exclamation she tossed her book to the desk, where it
sprawled at a straddle, and hurried to the rail. Fifty feet away
a large rowboat was approaching containing seven men, six of them
rowing and one standing up in the stern keeping time to their
song with an orchestra leader's baton.

     "Oysters and Rocks,
      Sawdust and socks,
      Who could make clocks
          Out of cellos?---"

The leader's eyes suddenly rested on Ardita, who was leaning over
the rail spellbound with curiosity. He made a quick movement
with his baton and the singing instantly ceased. She saw that he
was the only white man in the boat--the six rowers were negroes.

"Narcissus ahoy!" he called politely.

"What's the idea of all the discord?" demanded Ardita cheerfully.
"Is this the varsity crew from the county nut farm?"

By this time the boat was scraping the side of the yacht and a
great bulking negro in the bow turned round and grasped the
ladder. Thereupon the leader left his position in the stern and
before Ardita had realized his intention he ran up the ladder and
stood breathless before her on the deck.

"The women and children will be spared!" he said briskly. "All
crying babies will be immediately drowned and all males put in
double irons!" Digging her hands excitedly down into the pockets
of her dress Ardita stared at him, speechless with astonishment.
He was a young man with a scornful mouth and the bright blue eyes
of a healthy baby set in a dark sensitive face. His hair was
pitch black, damp and curly--the hair of a Grecian statue gone
brunette. He was trimly built, trimly dressed, and graceful as an
agile quarter-back.

"Well, I'll be a son of a gun!" she said dazedly.

They eyed each other coolly.

"Do you surrender the ship?"

"Is this an outburst of wit?" demanded Ardita. "Are you an
idiot--or just being initiated to some fraternity?"

"I asked you if you surrendered the ship."

"I thought the country was dry," said Ardita disdainfully. "Have
you been drinking finger-nail enamel? You better get off this
yacht!"

"What?" the young man's voice expressed incredulity.

"Get off the yacht! You heard me!"

He looked at her for a moment as if considering what she had
said.

"No," said his scornful mouth slowly; "No, I won't get off the
yacht. You can get off if you wish."

Going to the rail be gave a curt command and immediately the crew
of the rowboat scrambled up the ladder and ranged themselves in
line before him, a coal-black and burly darky at one end and a
miniature mulatto of four feet nine at to other. They seemed to
be uniformly dressed in some sort of blue costume ornamented with
dust, mud, and tatters; over the shoulder of each was slung a
small, heavy-looking white sack, and under their arms they
carried large black cases apparently containing musical
instruments.

"'Ten-SHUN!" commanded the young man, snapping his own heels
together crisply. "Right DRISS! Front! Step out here, Babe!"

The smallest Negro took a quick step forward and saluted.

"Take command, go down below, catch the crew and tie 'em up--all
except the engineer. Bring him up to me. Oh, and pile those bags
by the rail there."

"Yas-suh!"

Babe saluted again and wheeling about motioned for the five others
to gather about him. Then after a short whispered consultation
they all filed noiselessly down the companionway.

"Now," said the young man cheerfully to Ardita, who had witnessed
this last scene in withering silence, "if you will swear on your
honor as a flapper--which probably isn't worth much--that you'll
keep that spoiled little mouth of yours tight shut for
forty-eight hours, you can row yourself ashore in our
rowboat."

"Otherwise what?"

"Otherwise you're going to sea in a ship."

With a little sigh as for a crisis well passed, the young man
sank into the settee Ardita had lately vacated and stretched his
arms lazily. The corners of his mouth relaxed appreciatively as
he looked round at the rich striped awning, the polished brass,
and the luxurious fittings of the deck. His eye felt on the book,
and then on the exhausted lemon.

"Hm," he said, "Stonewall Jackson claimed that lemon-juice
cleared his head. Your head feel pretty clear?"

Ardita disdained to answer.

"Because inside of five minutes you'll have to make a clear
decision whether it's go or stay."

He picked up the book and opened it curiously.

"The Revolt of the Angels. Sounds pretty good. French, eh?" He
stared at her with new interest "You French?"

"No."

"What's your name?"

"Farnam."

"Farnam what?"

"Ardita Farnam."

"Well Ardita, no use standing up there and chewing out the
insides of your mouth. You ought to break those nervous habits
while you're young. Come over here and sit down."

Ardita took a carved jade case from her pocket, extracted a
cigarette and lit it with a conscious coolness, though she knew
her hand was trembling a little; then she crossed over with her
supple, swinging walk, and sitting down in the other settee blew
a mouthful of smoke at the awning.

"You can't get me off this yacht," she raid steadily; "and you
haven't got very much sense if you think you'll get far with it.
My uncle'll have wirelesses zigzagging all over this ocean by
half past six."

"Hm."

She looked quickly at his face, caught anxiety stamped there
plainly in the faintest depression of the mouth's corners.

"It's all the same to me," she said, shrugging her shoulders.
"'Tisn't my yacht. I don't mind going for a coupla hours' cruise.
I'll even lend you that book so you'll have something to read on
the revenue boat that takes you up to Sing-Sing."

He laughed scornfully.

"If that's advice you needn't bother. This is part of a plan
arranged before I ever knew this yacht existed. If it hadn't been
this one it'd have been the next one we passed anchored along
the coast."

"Who are you?" demanded Ardita suddenly. "And what are you?"

"You've decided not to go ashore?"

"I never even faintly considered it."

"We're generally known," he said "all seven of us, as Curtis
Carlyle and his Six Black Buddies late of the Winter Garden and
the Midnight Frolic."

"You're singers?"

"We were until to-day. At present, due to those white bags you
see there we're fugitives from justice and if the reward offered
for our capture hasn't by this time reached twenty thousand
dollars I miss my guess."

"What's in the bags?" asked Ardita curiously.

"Well," he said "for the present we'll call it--mud--Florida
mud."



III


Within ten minutes after Curtis Carlyle's interview with a very
frightened engineer the yacht Narcissus was under way, steaming
south through a balmy tropical twilight. The little mulatto,
Babe, who seems to have Carlyle's implicit confidence, took full
command of the situation. Mr. Farnam's valet and the chef, the
only members of the crew on board except the engineer, having
shown fight, were now reconsidering, strapped securely to their
bunks below. Trombone Mose, the biggest negro, was set busy with
a can of paint obliterating the name Narcissus from the bow, and
substituting the name Hula Hula, and the others congregated aft
and became intently involved in a game of craps.

Having given order for a meal to be prepared and served on deck
at seven-thirty, Carlyle rejoined Ardita, and, sinking back into
his settee, half closed his eyes and fell into a state of
profound abstraction.

Ardita scrutinized him carefully--and classed him immediately as
a romantic figure. He gave the effect of towering self-confidence
erected on a slight foundation--just under the surface of each
of his decisions she discerned a hesitancy that was in decided
contrast to the arrogant curl of his lips.

"He's not like me," she thought "There's a difference somewhere."
Being a supreme egotist Ardita frequently thought about
herself; never having had her egotism disputed she did it
entirely naturally and with no detraction from her unquestioned
charm.  Though she was nineteen she gave the effect of a
high-spirited precocious child, and in the present glow of her
youth and beauty all the men and women she had known were but
driftwood on the ripples of her temperament. She had met other
egotists--in fact she found that selfish people bored her rather
less than unselfish people--but as yet there had not been one she
had not eventually defeated and brought to her feet.

But though she recognized an egotist in the settee, she felt none
of that usual shutting of doors in her mind which meant clearing
ship for action; on the contrary her instinct told her that this
man was somehow completely pregnable and quite defenseless. When
Ardita defied convention--and of late it had been her chief
amusement--it was from an intense desire to be herself, and she
felt that this man, on the contrary, was preoccupied with his own
defiance.

She was much more interested in him than she was in her own
situation, which affected her as the prospect of a matineé might
affect a ten-year-old child. She had implicit confidence in her
ability to take care of herself under any and all circumstances.

The night deepened. A pale new moon smiled misty-eyed upon the
sea, and as the shore faded dimly out and dark clouds were blown
like leaves along the far horizon a great haze of moonshine
suddenly bathed the yacht and spread an avenue of glittering mail
in her swift path. From time to time there was the bright flare
of a match as one of them lighted a cigarette, but except for
the low under-tone of the throbbing engines and the even wash of
the waves about the stern the yacht was quiet as a dream boat
star-bound through the heavens. Round them bowed the smell of the
night sea, bringing with it an infinite languor.

Carlyle broke the silence at last.

"Lucky girl," he sighed "I've always wanted to be rich--and buy
all this beauty."

Ardita yawned.

"I'd rather be you," she said frankly.

"You would--for about a day. But you do seem to possess a lot of
nerve for a flapper."

"I wish you wouldn't call me that."

"Beg your pardon."

"As to nerve," she continued slowly, "it's my one redeemiug
feature. I'm not afraid of anything in heaven or earth."

"Hm, I am."

"To be afraid," said Ardita, "a person has either to be very
great and strong--or else a coward. I'm neither." She paused for
a moment, and eagerness crept into her tone. "But I want to talk
about you. What on earth have you done--and how did you do it?"

"Why?" he demanded cynically.  "Going to write a movie, about
me?"

"Go on," she urged. "Lie to me by the moonlight. Do a fabulous
story."

A negro appeared, switched on a string of small lights under the
awning, and began setting the wicker table for supper. And while
they ate cold sliced chicken, salad, artichokes and strawberry
jam from the plentiful larder below, Carlyle began to talk,
hesitatingly at first, but eagerly as he saw she was interested.
Ardita scarcely touched her food as she watched his dark young
face--handsome, ironic faintly ineffectual.

He began life as a poor kid in a Tennessee town, he said, so poor
that his people were the only white family in their street. He
never remembered any white children--but there were inevitably a
dozen pickaninnies streaming in his trail, passionate admirers
whom he kept in tow by the vividness of his imagination and the
amount of trouble he was always getting them in and out of. And
it seemed that this association diverted a rather unusual musical
gift into a strange channel.

There had been a colored woman named Belle Pope Calhoun who
played the piano at parties given for white children--nice white
children that would have passed Curtis Carlyle with a sniff. But
the ragged little "poh white" used to sit beside her piano by the
hour and try to get in an alto with one of those kazoos that
boys hum through. Before he was thirteen he was picking up a
living teasing ragtime out of a battered violin in little cafés
round Nashville. Eight years later the ragtime craze hit the
country, and he took six darkies on the Orpheum circuit. Five of
them were boys he had grown up with; the other was the little
mulatto, Babe Divine, who was a wharf nigger round New York, and
long before that a plantation hand in Bermuda, until he stuck an
eight-inch stiletto in his master's back. Almost before Carlyle
realized his good fortune he was on Broadway, with offers of
engagements on all sides, and more money than he had ever dreamed
of.

It was about then that a change began in his whole attitude, a
rather curious, embittering change. It was when he realized that
he was spending the golden years of his life gibbering round a
stage with a lot of black men. His act was good of its
kind--three trombones, three saxaphones, and Carlyle's flute--and
it was his own peculiar sense of rhythm that made all the
difference; but he began to grow strangely sensitive about it,
began to hate the thought of appearing, dreaded it from day to
day.

They were making money--each contract he signed called for
more--but when he went to managers and told them that he wanted
to separate from his sextet and go on as a regular pianist, they
laughed at him and told him he was crazy--it would be an artistic
suicide. He used to laugh afterward at the phrase "artistic
suicide." They all used it.

Half a dozen times they played at private dances at three
thousand dollars a night, and it seemed as if these crystallized
all his distaste for his mode of livlihood.  They took place in
clubs and houses that he couldn't have gone into in the daytime.
After all, he was merely playing to rôle of the eternal monkey, a
sort of sublimated chorus man. He was sick of the very smell of
the theatre, of powder and rouge and the chatter of the
greenroom, and the patronizing approval of the boxes. He couldn't
put his heart into it any more. The idea of a slow approach to
the luxury of leisure drove him wild. He was, of course,
progressing toward it, but, like a child, eating his ice-cream so
slowly that he couldn't taste it at all.

He wanted to have a lot of money and time and opportunity to read
and play, and the sort of men and women round him that he could
never have--the kind who, if they thought of him at all, would
have considered him rather contemptible; in short he wanted all
those things which he was beginning to lump under the general
head of aristocracy, an aristocracy which it seemed almost any
money could buy except money made as he was making it.  He was
twenty-five then, without family or education or any promise that
he would succeed in a business career.  He began speculating
wildly, and within three weeks he had lost every cent he had
saved.

Then the war came.  He went to Plattsburg, and even there his
profession followed him. A brigadier-general called him up to
headquarters and told him he could serve his country better as a
band leader--so he spent the war entertaining celebrities behind
the line with a headquarters band.  It was not so bad--except
that when the infantry came limping back from the trenches he
wanted to be one of them.  The sweat and mud they wore seemed
only one of those ineffable symbols of aristocracy that were
forever eluding him.

"It was the private dances that did it.  After I came back from
the war the old routine started.  We had an offer from a
syndicate of Florida hotels.  It was only a question of time
then."

He broke off and Ardita looked at him expectantly, but he shook
his head.

"No," he said, "I'm going to tell you about it.  I'm enjoying it
too much, and I'm afraid I'd lose a little of that enjoyment if I
shared it with anyone else.  I want to hang on to those few
breathless, heroic moments when I stood out before them all and
let them know I was more than a damn bobbing, squawking clown."

From up forward came suddenly the low sound of singing. The
negroes had gathered together on the deck and their voices rose
together in a haunting melody that soared in poignant harmonics
toward the moon. And Ardita listens in enchantment.

    "Oh down---
          oh down,
     Mammy wanna take me down milky way,
     Oh down,
          oh down,
     Pappy say to-morra-a-a-ah
     But mammy say to-day,
     Yes--mammy say to-day!"

Carlyle sighed and was silent for a moment looking up at the
gathered host of stars blinking like arc-lights in the warm sky.
The negroes' song had died away to a plaintive humming and it
seemed as if minute by minute the brightness and the great
silence were increasing until he could almost hear the midnight
toilet of the mermaids as they combed their silver dripping curls
under the moon and gossiped to each other of the fine wrecks
they lived on the green opalescent avenues below.

"You see," said Carlyle softly, "this is the beauty I want.
Beauty has got to be astonishing, astounding--it's got to burst
in on you like a dream, like the exquisite eyes of a girl."

He turned to her, but she was silent.

"You see, don't you, Anita--I mean, Ardita?"

Again she made no answer.  She had been sound asleep for some
time.



IV



In the dense sun-flooded noon of next day a spot in the sea
before them resolved casually into a green-and-gray islet,
apparently composed of a great granite cliff at its northern end
which slanted south through a mile of vivid coppice and grass to
a sandy beach melting lazily into the surf.  When Ardita, reading
in her favorite seat, came to the last page of The Revolt of the
Angels, and slamming the book shut looked up and saw it, she
gave a little cry of delight, and called to Carlyle, who was
standing moodily by the rail.

"Is this it?  Is this where you're going?"

Carlyle shrugged his shoulders carelessly.

"You've got me."  He raised his voice and called up to the acting
skipper: "Oh, Babe, is this your island?"

The mulatto's miniature head appeared from round the corner of
the deck-house.

"Yas-suh!  This yeah's it."

Carlyle joined Ardita.

"Looks sort of sporting, doesn't it?"

"Yes," she agreed; "but it doesn't look big enough to be much of
a hiding-place."

"You still putting your faith in those wirelesses your uncle was
going to have zigzagging round?"

"No," said Ardita frankly.  "I'm all for you.  I'd really like to
see you make a get-away."

He laughed.

"You're our Lady Luck.  Guess we'll have to keep you with us as a
mascot--for the present anyway."

"You couldn't very well ask me to swim back," she said coolly.
"If you do I'm going to start writing dime novels founded on that
interminable history of your life you gave me last night."

He flushed and stiffened slightly.

"I'm very sorry I bored you."

"Oh, you didn't--until just at the end with some story about how
furious you were because you couldn't dance with the ladies you
played music for."

He rose angrily.

"You have got a darn mean little tongue."

"Excuse me," she said melting into laughter, "but I'm not used to
having men regale me with the story of their life
ambitions--especially if they've lived such deathly platonic
lives."

"Why? What do men usually regale you with?"

"Oh, they talk about me," she yawned. "They tell me I'm the
spirit of youth and beauty."

"What do you tell them?"

"Oh, I agree quietly."

"Does every man you meet tell you he loves you?"

Ardita nodded.

"Why shouldn't he? All life is just a progression toward, and
then a recession from, one phrase--'I love you.'"

Carlyle laughed and sat down.

"That's very true. That's--that's not bad. Did you make that up?"

"Yes--or rather I found it out. It doesn't mean anything
especially. It's just clever."

"It's the sort of remark," he said gravely, "that's typical of
your class."

"Oh," she interrupted impatiently, "don't start that lecture on
aristocracy again! I distrust people who can be intense at this
hour in the morning. It's a mild form of insanity--a sort of
breakfast-food jag. Morning's the time to sleep, swim, and be
careless."

Ten minutes later they had swung round in a wide circle as if to
approach the island from the north.

"There's a trick somewhere," commented Ardita thoughtfully. "He
can't mean just to anchor up against this cliff."

They were heading straight in now toward the solid rock, which
must have been well over a hundred feet tall, and not until they
were within fifty yards of it did Ardita see their objective.
Then she clapped her hands in delight. There was a break in the
cliff entirely hidden by a curious overlapping of rock, and
through this break the yacht entered and very slowly traversed a
narrow channel of crystal-clear water between high gray walls.
Then they were riding at anchor in a miniature world of green and
gold, a gilded bay smooth as glass and set round with tiny
palms, the whole resembling the mirror lakes and twig trees that
children set up in sand piles.

"Not so darned bad!" cried Carlyle excitedly.

"I guess that little coon knows his way round this corner of the
Atlantic."

His exuberance was contagious, and Ardita became quite jubilant.

"It's an absolutely sure-fire hiding-place!"

"Lordy, yes! It's the sort of island you read about."

The rowboat was lowered into the golden lake and they pulled to
shore.

"Come on," said Carlyle as they landed in the slushy sand, "we'll
go exploring."

The fringe of palms was in turn ringed in by a round mile of
flat, sandy country. They followed it south and brushing through
a farther rim of tropical vegetation came out on a pearl-gray
virgin beach where Ardita kicked of her brown golf shoes--she
seemed to have permanently abandoned stockings--and went wading.
Then they sauntered back to the yacht, where the indefatigable
Babe had luncheon ready for them. He had posted a lookout on the
high cliff to the north to watch the sea on both sides, though he
doubted if the entrance to the cliff was generally known--he had
never even seen a map on which the island was marked.

"What's its name," asked Ardita--"the island, I mean?"

"No name 'tall," chuckled Babe. "Reckin she jus' island, 'at's
all."

In the late afternoon they sat with their backs against great
boulders on the highest part of the cliff and Carlyle sketched
for her his vague plans. He was sure they were hot after him by
this time. The total proceeds of the coup he had pulled off and
concerning which he still refused to enlighten her, he estimated
as just under a million dollars. He counted on lying up here
several weeks and then setting off southward, keeping well
outside the usual channels of travel rounding the Horn and
heading for Callao, in Peru. The details of coaling and
provisioning he was leaving entirely to Babe who, it seemed, had
sailed these seas in every capacity from cabin-boy aboard a
coffee trader to virtual first mate on a Brazillian pirate craft,
whose skipper had long since been hung.

"If he'd been white he'd have been king of South America long
ago," said Carlyle emphatically. "When it comes to intelligence
he makes Booker T. Washington look like a moron. He's got the
guile of every race and nationality whose blood is in his veins,
and that's half a dozen or I'm a liar. He worships me because I'm
the only man in the world who can play better ragtime than he
can. We used to sit together on the wharfs down on the New York
water-front, he with a bassoon and me with an oboe, and we'd
blend minor keys in African harmonics a thousand years old until
the rats would crawl up the posts and sit round groaning and
squeaking like dogs will in front of a phonograph."

Ardita roared.

"How you can tell 'em!"

Carlyle grinned.

"I swear that's the gos---"

"What you going to do when you get to Callao?" she interrupted.

"Take ship for India. I want to be a rajah. I mean it. My idea is
to go up into Afghanistan somewhere, buy up a palace and a
reputation, and then after about five years appear in England
with a foreign accent and a mysterious past. But India first. Do
you know, they say that all the gold in the world drifts very
gradually back to India. Something fascinating about that to me.
And I want leisure to read--an immense amount."

"How about after that?"

"Then," he answered defiantly, "comes aristocracy. Laugh if you
want to--but at least you'll have to admit that I know what I
want--which I imagine is more than you do."

"On the contrary," contradicted Ardita, reaching in her pocket
for her cigarette case, "when I met you I was in the midst of a
great uproar of all my friends and relatives because I did know
what I wanted."

"What was it?"

"A man."

He started.

"You mean you were engaged?"

"After a fashion. If you hadn't come aboard I had every intention
of slipping ashore yesterday evening--how long ago it seems--and
meeting him in Palm Beach. He's waiting there for me with a
bracelet that once belonged to Catherine of Russia. Now don't
mutter anything about aristocracy," she put in quickly. "I liked
him simply because he had had an imagination and the utter
courage of his convictions."

"But your family disapproved, eh?"

"What there is of it--only a silly uncle and a sillier aunt. It
seems he got into some scandal with a red-haired woman name Mimi
something--it was frightfully exaggerated, he said, and men don't
lie to me--and anyway I didn't care what he'd done; it was the
future that counted. And I'd see to that. When a man's in love
with me he doesn't care for other amusements. I told him to drop
her like a hot cake, and he did."

"I feel rather jealous," said Carlyle, frowning--and then he
laughed. "I guess I'll just keep you along with us until we get
to Callao. Then I'll lend you enough money to get back to the
States. By that time you'll have had a chance to think that
gentleman over a little more."

"Don't talk to me like that!" fired up Ardita. "I won't tolerate
the parental attitude from anybody! Do you understand me?" He
chuckled and then stopped, rather abashed, as her cold anger
seemed to fold him about and chill him.

"I'm sorry," he offered uncertainly.

"Oh, don't apologize! I can't stand men who say 'I'm sorry' in
that manly, reserved tone. Just shut up!"

A pause ensued, a pause which Carlyle found rather awkward, but
which Ardita seemed not to notice at all as she sat contentedly
enjoying her cigarette and gazing out at the shining sea. After a
minute she crawled out on the rock and lay with her face over
the edge looking down. Carlyle, watching her, reflected how it
seemed impossible for her to assume an ungraceful attitude.

"Oh, look," she cried. "There's a lot of sort of ledges down
there. Wide ones of all different heights."

"We'll go swimming to-night!" she said excitedly. "By moonlight."

"Wouldn't you rather go in at the beach on the other end?"

"Not a chance. I like to dive. You can use my uncle's bathing
suit, only it'll fit you like a gunny sack, because he's a very
flabby man. I've got a one-piece that's shocked the natives all
along the Atlantic coast from Biddeford Pool to St. Augustine."

"I suppose you're a shark."

"Yes, I'm pretty good. And I look cute too. A sculptor up at Rye
last summer told me my calves are worth five hundred dollars."

There didn't seem to be any answer to this, so Carlyle was
silent, permitting himself only a discreet interior smile.



V



When the night crept down in shadowy blue and silver they
threaded the shimmering channel in the rowboat and, tying it to a
jutting rock, began climbing the cliff together. The first shelf
was ten feet up, wide, and furnishing a natural diving platform.
There they sat down in the bright moonlight and watched the
faint incessant surge of the waters almost stilled now as the
tide set seaward.

"Are you happy?" he asked suddenly.

She nodded.

"Always happy near the sea. You know," she went on, "I've been
thinking all day that you and I are somewhat alike. We're both
rebels--only for different reasons. Two years ago, when I was
just eighteen and you were---"

"Twenty-five."

"---well, we were both conventional successes. I was an utterly
devastating débutante and you were a prosperous musician just
commissioned in the army---"

"Gentleman by act of Congress," he put in ironically.

"Well, at any rate, we both fitted. If our corners were not
rubbed off they were at least pulled in.  But deep in us both was
something that made us require more for happiness. I didn't know
what I wanted. I went from man to man, restless, impatient,
month by month getting less acquiescent and more dissatisfied. I
used to sit sometimes chewing at the insides of my mouth and
thinking I was going crazy--I had a frightful sense of
transiency. I wanted things now--now--now! Here I
was--beautiful--I am, aren't I?"

"Yes," agreed Carlyle tentatively.

Ardita rose suddenly.

"Wait a second. I want to try this delightful-looking sea."

She walked to the end of the ledge and shot out over the sea,
doubling up in mid-air and then straightening out and entering to
water straight as a blade in a perfect jack-knife dive.

In a minute her voice floated up to him.

"You see, I used to read all day and most of the night. I began
to resent society---"

"Come on up here," he interrupted. "What on earth are you doing?"

"Just floating round on my back. I'll be up in a minute. Let me
tell you. The only thing I enjoyed was shocking people; wearing
something quite impossible and quite charming to a fancy-dress
party, going round with the fastest men in New York, and getting
into some of the most hellish scrapes imaginable."

The sounds of splashing mingled with her words, and then he heard
her hurried breathing as she began climbing up side to the
ledge.

"Go on in!" she called

Obediently he rose and dived.  When he emerged, dripping, and
made the climb he found that she was no longer on the ledge, but
after a second frightened he heard her light laughter from another shelf
ten feet up. There he joined her and they both sat quietly for a
moment, their arms clasped round their knees, panting a little
from the climb.

"The family were wild," she said suddenly. "They tried to marry
me off. And then when I'd begun to feel that after all life was
scarcely worth living I found something"--her eyes went skyward
exultantly---"I found something!"

Carlyle waited and her words came with a rush.

"Courage--just that; courage as a rule of life, and something to
cling to always. I began to build up this enormous faith in
myself. I began to see that in all my idols in the past some
manifestation of courage had unconsciously been the thing that
attracted me. I began separating courage from the other things of
life. All sorts of courage--the beaten, bloody prize-fighter
coming up for more--I used to make men take me to prize-fights;
the déclassé woman sailing through a nest of cats and looking at
them as if they were mud under her feet; the liking what you like
always; the utter disregard for other people's opinions--just to
live as I liked always and to die in my own way-- Did you bring
up the cigarettes?"

He handed one over and held a match for her gently.

"Still," Ardita continued, "the men kept gathering--old men and
young men, my mental and physical inferiors, most of them, but
all intensely desiring  to have me--to own this rather
magnificent proud tradition I'd built up round me. Do you see?"

"Sort of. You never were beaten and you never apologized."

"Never!"

She sprang to the edge, poised for a moment like a crucified
figure against the sky; then describing a dark parabola plunked
without a slash between two silver ripples twenty feet below.

Her voice floated up to him again.

"And courage to me meant ploughing through that dull gray mist
that comes down on life--not only overriding people and
circumstances but overriding the bleakness of living. A sort of
insistence on the value of life and the worth of transient
things."

She was climbing up now, and at her last words her head, with the
damp yellow hair slicked symmetrically back appeared on his
level.

"All very well," objected Carlyle. "You can call it courage, but
your courage is really built, after all, on a pride of birth. You
were bred to that defiant attitude. On my gray days even courage
is one of the things that's gray and lifeless."

She was sitting near the edge, hugging her knees and gazing
abstractedly at the white moon; he was farther back, crammed like
a grotesque god into a niche in the rock.

"I don't want to sound like Pollyanna," she began, "but you
haven't grasped me yet. My courage is faith--faith in the eternal
resilience of me--that joy'll come back, and hope and
spontaneity. And I feel that till it does I've got to keep my
lips shut and my chin high, and my eyes wide--not necessarily any
silly smiling. Oh, I've been through hell without a whine quite
often--and the female hell is deadlier than the male."

"But supposing," suggested Carlyle, "that before joy and hope and
all that came back the curtain was drawn on you for good?"

Ardita rose, and going to the wall climbed with some difficulty
to the next ledge, another ten or fifteen feet above.

"Why," she called back "then I'd have won!"

He edged out till he could see her.

"Better not dive from there! You'll break your back," he said
quickly.

She laughed.

"Not I!"

Slowly she spread her arms and stood there swan-like, radiating a
pride in her young perfection that lit a warm glow in Carlyle's
heart.

"We're going through the black air with our arms wide and our
feet straight out behind like a dolphin's tail, and we're going
to think we'll never hit the silver down there till suddenly
it'll be all warm round us and full of little kissing, caressing
waves."

Then she was in the air, and Carlyle involuntarily held his
breath. He had not realized that the dive was nearly forty feet.
It seemed an eternity before he heard the swift compact sound as
she reached the sea.

And it was with his glad sigh of relief when her light watery
laughter curled up the side of the cliff and into his anxious
ears that he knew he loved her.



VI


Time, having no axe to grind, showered down upon them three days
of afternoons.  When the sun cleared the port-hole of Ardita's
cabin an hour after dawn she rose cheerily, donned her
bathing-suit, and went up on deck.  The negroes would leave their
work when they saw her, and crowd, chuckling and chattering, to
the rail as she floated, an agile minnow, on and under the
surface of the clear water.  Again in the cool of the afternoon
she would swim--and loll and smoke with Carlyle upon the cliff;
or else they would lie on their sides in the sands of the
southern beach, talking little, but watching the day fade
colorfully and tragically into the infinite langour of a tropical
evening.

And with the long, sunny hours Ardita's idea of the episode as
incidental, madcap, a sprig of romance in a desert of reality,
gradually left her.  She dreaded the time when he would strike
off southward; she dreaded all the eventualities that presented
themselves to her; thoughts were suddenly troublesome and
decisions odious.  Had prayers found place in the pagan rituals
of her soul she would have asked of life only to be unmolested
for a while, lazily acquiescent to the ready, naïf flow of
Carlyle's ideas, his vivid boyish imagination, and the vein of
monomania that seemed to run crosswise through his temperament
and colored his every action.

But this is not a story of two on an island, nor concerned
primarily with love bred of isolation. It is merely the
presentation of two personalities, and its idyllic setting among
the palms of the Gulf Stream is quite incidental. Most of us are
content to exist and breed and fight for the right to do both,
and the dominant idea, the foredoomed attest to control one's
destiny, is reserved for the fortunate or unfortunate few. To me
the interesting thing about Ardita is the courage that will
tarnish with her beauty and youth.

"Take me with you," she said late one night as they sat lazily in
the grass under the shadowy spreading palms. The negroes had
brought ashore their musical instruments, and the sound of weird
ragtime was drifting softly over on the warm breath of the night.
"I'd love to reappear in ten years, as a fabulously wealthy
high-caste Indian lady," she continued.

Carlyle looked at her quickly.

"You can, you know."

She laughed.

"Is it a proposal of marriage? Extra!  Ardita Farnam becomes
pirate's bride. Society girl kidnapped by ragtime bank robber."

"It wasn't a bank."

"What was it? Why won't you tell me?"

"I don't want to break down your illusions."

"My dear man, I have no illusions about you."

"I mean your illusions about yourself."

She looked up in surprise.

"About myself! What on earth have I got to do with whatever stray
felonies you've committed?"

"That remains to be seen."

She reached over and patted his hand.

"Dear Mr. Curtis Carlyle," she said softly, "are you in love with
me?"

"As if it mattered."

"But it does--because I think I'm in love with
you."

He looked at her ironically.

"Thus swelling your January total to half a dozen," he suggested.
"Suppose I call your bluff and ask you to come to India with
me?"

"Shall I?"

He shrugged his shoulders.

"We can get married in Callao."

"What sort of life can you offer me? I don't mean that unkindly,
but seriously; what would become of me if the people who want
that twenty-thousand-dollar reward ever catch up with you?"

"I thought you weren't afraid."

"I never am--but I won't throw my life away just to show one man
I'm not."

"I wish you'd been poor. Just a little poor girl dreaming over a
fence in a warm cow country."

"Wouldn't it have been nice?"

"I'd have enjoyed astonishing you--watching your eyes open on
things. If you only wanted things! Don't you see?"

"I know--like girls who stare into the windows of
jewelry-stores."

"Yes--and want the big oblong watch that's platinum and has
diamonds all round the edge. Only you'd decide it was too
expensive and choose one of white gold for a hundred dollar. Then
I'd say: 'Expensive? I should say not!' And we'd go into the
store and pretty soon the platinum one would be gleaming on your
wrist."

"That sounds so nice and vulgar--and fun, doesn't it?" murmured
Ardita.

"Doesn't it? Can't you see us travelling round and spending money
right and left, and being worshipped by bell-boys and waiters?
Oh, blessed are the simple rich for they inherit the earth!"

"I honestly wish we were that way."

"I love you, Ardita," he said gently.

Her face lost its childish look for moment and became oddly
grave.

"I love to be with you," she said, "more than with any man I've
ever met. And I like your looks and your dark old hair, and the
way you go over the side of the rail when we come ashore. In
fact, Curtis Carlyle, I like all the things you do when you're
perfectly natural. I think you've got nerve and you know how I
feel about that. Sometimes when you're around I've been tempted
to kiss you suddenly and tell you that you were just an
idealistic boy with a lot of caste nonsense in his head.
Perhaps if I were just a little bit older and a little more bored
I'd go with you. As it is, I think I'll go back and marry--that
other man."

Over across the silver lake the figures of the negroes writhed
and squirmed in the moonlight like acrobats who, having been too
long inactive, must go through their tacks from sheer surplus
energy. In single file they marched, weaving in concentric
circles, now with their heads thrown back, now bent over their
instruments like piping fauns. And from trombone and saxaphone
ceaselessly whined a blended melody, sometimes riotous and
jubilant, sometimes haunting and plaintive as a death-dance from
the Congo's heart.

"Let's dance," cried Ardita. "I can't sit still with that perfect
jazz going on."

Taking her hand he led her out into a broad stretch of hard sandy
soil that the moon flooded with great splendor. They floated out
like drifting moths under the rich hazy light, and as the
fantastic symphony wept and exulted and wavered and despaired
Ardita's last sense of reality dropped away, and she abandoned
her imagination to the dreamy summer scents of tropical flowers
and the infinite starry spaces overhead, feeling that if she
opened her eyes it would be to find herself dancing with a ghost
in a land created by her own fancy.

"This is what I should call an exclusive private dance," he
whispered.

"I feel quite mad--but delightfully mad!"

"We're enchanted.  The shades of unnumbered generations of
cannibals are watching us from high up on the side of the cliff
there."

"And I'll bet the cannibal women are saying that we dance too
close, and that it was immodest of me to come without my
nose-ring."

They both laughed softly--and then their laughter died as over
across the lake they heard the trombones stop in the middle of a
bar, and the saxaphones give a startled moan and fade out.

"What's the matter?" called Carlyle.

After a moment's silence they made out the dark figure of a man
rounding the silver lake at a run. As he came closer they saw it
was Babe in a state of unusual excitement. He drew up before them
and gasped out his news in a breath.

"Ship stan'in' off sho' 'bout half a mile suh. Mose, he uz on
watch, he say look's if she's done ancho'd."

"A ship--what kind of a ship?" demanded Carlyle
anxiously.

Dismay was in his voice, and Ardita's heart gave a sudden wrench
as she saw his whole face suddenly droop.

"He say he don't know, suh."

"Are they landing a boat?"

"No, suh."

"We'll go up," said Carlyle.

They ascended the hill in silence, Ardita's hand still resting in
Carlyle's as it had when they finished dancing. She felt it
clinch nervously from time to time as though he were unaware of
the contact, but though he hurt her she made no attempt to remove
it. It seemed an hour's climb before they reached the top and
crept cautiously across the silhouetted plateau to the edge of
the cliff. After one short look Carlyle involuntarily gave a
little cry. It was a revenue boat with six-inch guns mounted fore
and aft.

"They know!" he said with a short intake of breath. "They know!
They picked up the trail somewhere."

"Are you sure they know about the channel? They may be only
standing by to take a look at the island in the morning. From
where they are they couldn't see the opening in the cliff."

"They could with field-glasses," he said hopelessly. He looked at
his wrist-watch. "It's nearly two now. They won't do anything
until dawn, that's certain. Of course there's always the faint
possibility that they're waiting for some other ship to join; or
for a coaler."

"I suppose we may as well stay right here."

The hour passed and they lay there side by side, very silently,
their chins in their hands like dreaming children. In back of
them squatted the negroes, patient, resigned, acquiescent,
announcing now and then with sonorous snores that not even the
presence of danger could subdue their unconquerable African
craving for sleep.

Just before five o'clock Babe approached Carlyle. There were half
a dozen rifles aboard the Narcissus he said. Had it been decided
to offer no resistance?

A pretty good fight might be made, he thought, if they worked out
some plan.

Carlyle laughed and shook his head.

"That isn't a Spic army out there, Babe. That's a revenue boat.
It'd be like a bow and arrow trying to fight a machine-gun. If
you want to bury those bags somewhere and take a chance on
recovering them later, go on and do it. But it won't work--they'd
dig this island over from one end to the other. It's a lost
battle all round, Babe."

Babe inclined his head silently and turned away, and Carlyle's
voice was husky as he turned to Ardita.

"There's the best friend I ever had. He'd die for me, and be
proud to, if I'd let him."

"You've given up?"

"I've no choice. Of course there's always one way out--the sure
way--but that can wait. I wouldn't miss my trial for
anything--it'll be an interesting experiment in notoriety.  'Miss
Farnam testifies that the pirate's attitude to her was at all
times that of a gentleman.'"

"Don't!" she said. "I'm awfully sorry."

When the color faded from the sky and lustreless blue changed to
leaden gray a commotion was visible on the ship's deck, and they
made out a group of officers clad in white duck, gathered near
the rail. They had field-glasses in their hands and were
attentively examining the islet.

"It's all up," said Carlyle grimly.

"Damn," whispered Ardita. She felt tears gathering in her eyes
"We'll go back to the yacht," he said. "I prefer that to being
hunted out up here like a 'possum."

Leaving the plateau they descended the hill, and reaching the
lake were rowed out to the yacht by the silent negroes. Then,
pale and weary, they sank into the settees and waited.

Half an hour later in the dim gray light the nose of the revenue
boat appeared in the channel and stopped, evidently fearing that
the bay might be too shallow. From the peaceful look of the
yacht, the man and the girl in the settees, and the negroes
lounging curiously against the rail, they evidently judged that
there would be no resistance, for two boats were lowered casually
over the side, one containing an officer and six bluejackets,
and the other, four rowers and in the stern two gray-haired men
in yachting flannels. Ardita and Carlyle stood up, and half
unconsciously started toward each other.

Then he paused and putting his hand suddenly into his pocket he
pulled out a round, glittering object and held it out to her.

"What is it?" she asked wonderingly.

"I'm not positive, but I think from the Russian inscription
inside that it's your promised bracelet."

"Where--where on earth---"

"It came out of one of those bags. You see, Curtis Carlyle and
his Six Black Buddies, in the middle of their performance in the
tea-room of the hotel at Palm Beach, suddenly changed their
instruments for automatics and held up the crowd. I took this
bracelet from a pretty, overrouged woman with red hair."

Ardita frowned and then smiled.

"So that's what you did! You HAVE got nerve!"

He bowed.

"A well-known bourgeois quality," he said.

And then dawn slanted dynamically across the deck and flung the
shadows reeling into gray corners. The dew rose and turned to
golden mist, thin as a dream, enveloping them until they seemed
gossamer relics of the late night, infinitely transient and
already fading. For a moment sea and sky were breathless, and
dawn held a pink hand over the young mouth of life--then from out
in the lake came the complaint of a rowboat and the swish of
oars.

Suddenly against the golden furnace low in the east their two
graceful figures melted into one, and he was kissing her spoiled
young mouth.

"It's a sort of glory," he murmured after a second.

She smiled up at him.

"Happy, are you?"

Her sigh was a benediction--an ecstatic surety that she was youth
and beauty now as much as she would ever know. For another
instant life was radiant and time a phantom and their strength
eternal--then there was a bumping, scraping sound as the rowboat
scraped alongside.

Up the ladder scrambled the two gray-haired men, the officer and
two of the sailors with their hands on their revolvers. Mr.
Farnam folded his arms and stood looking at his niece.

"So," he said nodding his head slowly.

With a sigh her arms unwound from Carlyle's neck, and her eyes,
transfigured and far away, fell upon the boarding party. Her
uncle saw her upper lip slowly swell into that arrogant pout he
knew so well.

"So," he repeated savagely. "So this is your idea of--of romance.
A runaway affair, with a high-seas pirate."

Ardita glanced at him carelessly.

"What an old fool you are!" she said quietly.

"Is that the best you can say for yourself?"

"No," she said as if considering. "No, there's something else.
There's that well-known phrase with which I have ended most of
our conversations for the past few years--'Shut up!'"

And with that she turned, included the two old men, the officer,
and the two sailors in a curt glance of contempt, and walked
proudly down the companionway.

But had she waited an instant longer she would have heard a sound
from her uncle quite unfamiliar in most of their interviews. He
gave vent to a whole-hearted amused chuckle, in which the second
old man joined.

The latter turned briskly to Carlyle, who had been regarding this
scene with an air of cryptic amusement.

"Well Toby," he said genially, "you incurable, hare-brained
romantic chaser of rainbows, did you find that she was the person
you wanted?"

Carlyle smiled confidently.

"Why--naturally," he said "I've been perfectly sure ever since I
first heard tell of her wild career. That'd why I had Babe send
up the rocket last night."

"I'm glad you did," said Colonel Moreland gravely. "We've been
keeping pretty close to you in case you should have trouble with
those six strange niggers. And we hoped we'd find you two in some
such compromising position," he sighed. "Well, set a crank to
catch a crank!"

"Your father and I sat up all night hoping for the best--or
perhaps it's the worst. Lord knows you're welcome to her, my boy.
She's run me crazy. Did you give her the Russian bracelet my
detective got from that Mimi woman?"

Carlyle nodded.

"Sh!" he said. "She's coming on deck."

Ardita appeared at the head of the companionway and gave a quick
involuntary glance at Carlyle's wrists. A puzzled look passed
across her face. Back aft the negroes had begun to sing, and the
cool lake, fresh with dawn, echoed serenely to their low voices.

"Ardita," said Carlyle unsteadily.

She swayed a step toward him.

"Ardita," he repeated breathlessly, "I've got to tell you
the--the truth. It was all a plant, Ardita. My name isn't
Carlyle. It's Moreland, Toby Moreland. The story was invented,
Ardita, invented out of thin Florida air."

She stared at him, bewildered, amazement, disbelief, and anger
flowing in quick waves across her face. The three men held their
breaths. Moreland, Senior, took a step toward her; Mr. Farnam's
mouth dropped a little open as he waited, panic-stricken, for the
expected crash.

But it did not come. Ardita's face became suddenly radiant, and
with a little laugh she went swiftly to young Moreland and looked
up at him without a trace of wrath in her gray eyes.

"Will you swear," she said quietly "That it was entirely a
product of your own brain?"

"I swear," said young Moreland eagerly.

She drew his head down and kissed him gently.

"What an imagination!" she said softly and almost enviously. "I
want you to lie to me just as sweetly as you know how for the
rest of my life."

The negroes' voices floated drowsily back, mingled in an air that
she had heard them singing before.

    "Time is a thief;
     Gladness and grief
     Cling to the leaf
         As it yellows---"

"What was in the bags?" she asked softly.

"Florida mud," he answered. "That was one of the two true things
I told you."

"Perhaps I can guess the other one," she said; and reaching up on
her tiptoes she kissed him softly in the illustration.



The Ice Palace



The sunlight dripped over the house like golden paint over an art
jar, and the freckling shadows here and there only intensified
the rigor of the bath of light. The Butterworth and Larkin houses
flanking were entrenched behind great stodgy trees; only the
Happer house took the full sun, and all day long faced the dusty
road-street with a tolerant kindly patience. This was the city of
Tarleton in southernmost Georgia, September afternoon.

Up in her bedroom window Sally Carrol Happer rested her
nineteen-year-old chin on a fifty-two-year-old sill and watched
Clark Darrow's ancient Ford turn the corner. The car was
hot--being partly metallic it retained all the heat it absorbed
or evolved--and Clark Darrow sitting bolt upright at the wheel
wore a pained, strained expression as though he considered
himself a spare part, and rather likely to break. He laboriously
crossed two dust ruts, the wheels squeaking indignantly at the
encounter, and then with a terrifying expression he gave the
steering-gear a final wrench and deposited self and car
approximately in front of the Happer steps. There was a heaving
sound, a death-rattle, followed by a short silence; and then the
air was rent by a startling whistle.

Sally Carrol gazed down sleepily.  She started to yawn, but
finding this quite impossible unless she raised her chin from the
window-sill, changed her mind and continued silently to regard
the car, whose owner sat brilliantly if perfunctorily at
attention as he waited for an answer to his signal. After a
moment the whistle once more split the dusty air.

"Good mawnin'."

With difficulty Clark twisted his tall body round and bent a
distorted glance on the window.

"Tain't mawnin', Sally Carrol."

"Isn't it, sure enough?"

"What you doin'?"

"Eatin' 'n apple."

"Come on go swimmin'--want to?"

"Reckon so."

"How 'bout hurryin' up?"

"Sure enough."

Sally Carrol sighed voluminously and raised herself with profound
inertia from the floor where she had been occupied in
alternately destroyed parts of a green apple and painting paper
dolls for her younger sister. She approached a mirror, regarded
her expression with a pleased and pleasant languor, dabbed two
spots of rouge on her lips and a grain of powder on her nose, and
covered her bobbed corn-colored hair with a rose-littered
sunbonnet. Then she kicked over the painting water, said, "Oh,
damn!"--but let it lay--and left the room.

"How you, Clark?" she inquired a minute later as she slipped
nimbly over the side of the car.

"Mighty fine, Sally Carrol."

"Where we go swimmin'?"

"Out to Walley's Pool. Told Marylyn we'd call by an' get her an'
Joe Ewing."

Clark was dark and lean, and when on foot was rather inclined to
stoop. His eyes were ominous and his expression somewhat petulant
except when startlingly illuminated by one of his frequent
smiles. Clark had "a income"--just enough to keep himself in ease
and his car in gasolene--and he had spent the two years since he
graduated from Georgia Tech in dozing round the lazy streets of
his home town, discussing how he could best invest his capital
for an immediate fortune.

Hanging round he found not at all difficult; a crowd of little
girls had grown up beautifully, the amazing Sally Carrol foremost
among them; and they enjoyed being swum with and danced with and
made love to in the flower-filled summery evenings--and they all
liked Clark immensely. When feminine company palled there were
half a dozen other youths who were always just about to do
something, and meanwhile were quite willing to join him in a few
holes of golf, or a game of billiards, or the consumption of a
quart of "hard yella licker." Every once in a while one of these
contemporaries made a farewell round of calls before going up to
New York or Philadelphia or Pittsburgh to go into business, but
mostly they just stayed round in this languid paradise of dreamy
skies and firefly evenings and noisy nigger street fairs--and
especially of gracious, soft-voiced girls, who were brought up on
memories instead of money.

The Ford having been excited into a sort of restless resentful
life Clark and Sally Carrol rolled and rattled down Valley Avenue
into Jefferson Street, where the dust road became a pavement;
along opiate Millicent Place, where there were half a dozen
prosperous, substantial mansions; and on into the down-town
section.  Driving was perilous here, for it was shopping time;
the population idled casually across the streets and a drove of
low-moaning oxen were being urged along in front of a placid
street-car; even the shops seemed only yawning their doors and
blinking their windows in the sunshine before retiring into a
state of utter and finite coma.

"Sally Carrol," said Clark suddenly, "it a fact that you're
engaged?"

She looked at him quickly.

"Where'd you hear that?"

"Sure enough, you engaged?"

"'At's a nice question!"

"Girl told me you were engaged to a Yankee you met up in
Asheville last summer."

Sally Carrol sighed.

"Never saw such an old town for rumors."

"Don't marry a Yankee, Sally Carrol.  We need you round here."

Sally Carrol was silent a moment.

"Clark," she demanded suddenly, "who on earth shall I marry?"

"I offer my services."

"Honey, you couldn't support a wife," she answered cheerfully.
"Anyway, I know you too well to fall in love with you."

"'At doesn't mean you ought to marry a Yankee," he persisted.

"S'pose I love him?"

He shook his head.

"You couldn't. He'd be a lot different from us, every way."

He broke off as he halted the car in front of a rambling,
dilapidated house. Marylyn Wade and Joe Ewing appeared in the
doorway.

"'Lo Sally Carrol."

"Hi!"

"How you-all?"

"Sally Carrol," demanded Marylyn as they started of again, "you
engaged?"

"Lawdy, where'd all this start? Can't I look at a man 'thout
everybody in town engagin' me to him?"

Clark stared straight in front of him at a bolt on the clattering
wind-shield.

"Sally Carrol," he said with a curious intensity, "don't you
'like us?"

"What?"

"Us down here?"

"Why, Clark, you know I do. I adore all you boys."

"Then why you gettin' engaged to a Yankee?"

"Clark, I don't know. I'm not sure what I'll do, but--well, I
want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow. I want
to live where things happen on a big scale."

"What you mean?"

"Oh, Clark, I love you, and I love Joe here and Ben Arrot, and
you-all, but you'll--you'll---"

"We'll all be failures?"

"Yes. I don't mean only money failures, but just sort of--of
ineffectual and sad, and--oh, how can I tell you?"

"You mean because we stay here in Tarleton?"

"Yes, Clark; and because you like it and never want to change
things or think or go ahead."

He nodded and she reached over and pressed his hand.

"Clark," she said softly, "I wouldn't change you for the world.
You're sweet the way you are. The things that'll make you fail
I'll love always--the living in the past, the lazy days and
nights you have, and all your carelessness and generosity."

"But you're goin' away?"

"Yes--because I couldn't ever marry you. You've a place in my
heart no one else ever could have, but tied down here I'd get
restless. I'd feel I was--wastin' myself. There's two sides to
me, you see. There's the sleepy old side you love an' there's a
sort of energy--the feeling that makes me do wild things. That's
the part of me that may be useful somewhere, that'll last when
I'm not beautiful any more."

She broke of with characteristic suddenness and sighed, "Oh,
sweet cooky!" as her mood changed.

Half closing her eyes and tipping back her head till it rested on
the seat-back she let the savory breeze fan her eyes and ripple
the fluffy curls of her bobbed hair. They were in the country
now, hurrying between tangled growths of bright-green coppice and
grass and tall trees that sent sprays of foliage to hang a cool
welcome over the road. Here and there they passed a battered
negro cabin, its oldest white-haired inhabitant smoking a corncob
pipe beside the door, and half a dozen scantily clothed
pickaninnies parading tattered dolls on the wild-grown grass in
front. Farther out were lazy cotton-fields where even the workers
seemed intangible shadows lent by the sun to the earth, not for
toil, but to while away some age-old tradition in the golden
September fields. And round the drowsy picturesqueness, over the
trees and shacks and muddy rivers, flowed the heat, never
hostile, only comforting, like a great warm nourishing bosom for
the infant earth.

"Sally Carrol, we're here!"

"Poor chile's soun' asleep."

"Honey, you dead at last outa sheer laziness?"

"Water, Sally Carrol! Cool water waitin' for you!"

Her eyes opened sleepily.

"Hi!" she murmured, smiling.



II


In November Harry Bellamy, tall, broad, and brisk, came down from
his Northern city to spend four days. His intention was to
settle a matter that had been hanging fire since he and Sally
Carrol had met in Asheville, North Carolina, in midsummer. The
settlement took only a quiet afternoon and an evening in front of
a glowing open fire, for Harry Bellamy had everything she
wanted; and, beside, she loved him--loved him with that side of
her she kept especially for loving. Sally Carrol had several
rather clearly defined sides.

On his last afternoon they walked, and she found their steps
tending half-unconsciously toward one of her favorite haunts, the
cemetery. When it came in sight, gray-white and golden-green
under the cheerful late sun, she paused, irresolute, by the iron
gate.

"Are you mournful by nature, Harry?" she asked with a faint
smile.

"Mournful? Not I."

"Then let's go in here. It depresses some folks, but I like it."

They passed through the gateway and followed a path that led
through a wavy valley of graves--dusty-gray and mouldy for the
fifties; quaintly carved with flowers and jars for the seventies;
ornate and hideous for the nineties, with fat marble cherubs
lying in sodden sleep on stone pillows, and great impossible
growths of nameless granite flowers.

Occasionally they saw a kneeling figure with tributary flowers,
but over most of the graves lay silence and withered leaves with
only the fragrance that their own shadowy memories could waken in
living minds.

They reached the top of a hill where they were fronted by a tall,
round head-stone, freckled with dark spots of damp and half
grown over with vines.

"Margery Lee," she read; "1844-1873.  Wasn't she nice?  She died
when she was twenty-nine.  Dear Margery Lee," she added softly.
"Can't you see her, Harry?"

"Yes, Sally Carrol."

He felt a little hand insert itself into his.

"She was dark, I think; and she always wore her hair with a
ribbon in it, and gorgeous hoop-skirts of Alice blue and old
rose."

"Yes."

"Oh, she was sweet, Harry!  And she was the sort of girl born to
stand on a wide, pillared porch and welcome folks in.  I think
perhaps a lot of men went away to war meanin' to come back to
her; but maybe none of 'em ever did."

He stooped down close to the stone, hunting for any record of
marriage.

"There's nothing here to show."

"Of course not.  How could there be anything there better than
just 'Margery Lee,' and that eloquent date?"

She drew close to him and an unexpected lump came into his throat
as her yellow hair brushed his cheek.

"You see how she was, don't you Harry?"

"I see," he agreed gently. "I see through your precious eyes.
You're beautiful now, so I know she must have been."

Silent and close they stood, and he could feel her shoulders
trembling a little. An ambling breeze swept up the hill and
stirred the brim of her floppidy hat.

"Let's go down there!"

She was pointing to a flat stretch on the other side of the hill
where along the green turf were a thousand grayish-white crosses
stretching in endless, ordered rows like the stacked arms of a
battalion.

"Those are the Confederate dead," said Sally Carrol simply.

They walked along and read the inscriptions, always only a name
and a date, sometimes quite indecipherable.

"The last row is the saddest--see, 'way over there. Every cross
has just a date on it and the word 'Unknown.'"

She looked at him and her eyes brimmed with tears.

"I can't tell you how real it is to me, darling--if you don't
know."

"How you feel about it is beautiful to me."

"No, no, it's not me, it's them--that old time that I've tried to
have live in me. These were just men, unimportant evidently or
they wouldn't have been 'unknown'; but they died for the most
beautiful thing in the world--the dead South. You see," she
continued, her voice still husky, her eyes glistening with tears,
"people have these dreams they fasten onto things, and I've
always grown up with that dream. It was so easy because it was
all dead and there weren't any disillusions comin' to me. I've
tried in a way to live up to those past standards of noblesse
oblige--there's just the last remnants of it, you know, like the
roses of an old garden dying all round us--streaks of strange
courtliness and chivalry in some of these boys an' stories I used
to hear from a Confederate soldier who lived next door, and a
few old darkies. Oh, Harry, there was something, there was
something! I couldn't ever make you understand but it was there."

"I understand," he assured her again quietly.

Sally Carol smiled and dried her eyes on the tip of a
handkerchief protruding from his breast pocket.

"You don't feel depressed, do you, lover?  Even when I cry I'm
happy here, and I get a sort of strength from it."

Hand in hand they turned and walked slowly away. Finding soft
grass she drew him down to a seat beside her with their backs
against the remnants of a low broken wall.

"Wish those three old women would clear out," he complained. "I
want to kiss you, Sally Carrol."

"Me, too."

They waited impatiently for the three bent figures to move off,
and then she kissed him until the sky seemed to fade out and all
her smiles and tears to vanish in an ecstasy of eternal seconds.

Afterward they walked slowly back together, while on the corners
twilight played at somnolent black-and-white checkers with the
end of day.

"You'll be up about mid-January," he said, "and you've got to
stay a month at least. It'll be slick. There's a winter carnival
on, and if you've never really seen snow it'll be like fairy-land
to you. There'll be skating and skiing and tobogganing and
sleigh-riding, and all sorts of torchlight parades on snow-shoes.
They haven't had one for years, so they're gong to make it a
knock-out."

"Will I be cold, Harry?" she asked suddenly.

"You certainly won't. You may freeze your nose, but you won't be
shivery cold. It's hard and dry, you know."

"I guess I'm a summer child. I don't like any cold I've ever
seen."

She broke off and they were both silent for a minute.

"Sally Carol," he said very slowly, "what do you say to--March?"

"I say I love you."

"March?"

"March, Harry."



III


All night in the Pullman it was very cold. She rang for the
porter to ask for another blanket, and when he couldn't give her
one she tried vainly, by squeezing down into the bottom of her
berth and doubling back the bedclothes, to snatch a few hours'
sleep. She wanted to look her best in the morning.

She rose at six and sliding uncomfortably into her clothes
stumbled up to the diner for a cup of coffee. The snow had
filtered into the vestibules and covered the door with a slippery
coating. It was intriguing this cold, it crept in everywhere.
Her breath was quite visible and she blew into the air with a
naïve enjoyment. Seated in the diner she stared out the window at
white hills and valleys and scattered pines whose every branch
was a green platter for a cold feast of snow. Sometimes a
solitary farmhouse would fly by, ugly and bleak and lone on the
white waste; and with each one she had an instant of chill
compassion for the souls shut in there waiting for spring.

As she left the diner and swayed back into the Pullman she
experienced a surging rush of energy and wondered if she was
feeling the bracing air of which Harry had spoken. This was the
North, the North--her land now!

     "Then blow, ye winds, heighho!
      A-roving I will go,"

she chanted exultantly to herself.

"What's 'at?" inquired the porter politely.

"I said: 'Brush me off.'"

The long wires of the telegraph poles doubled, two tracks ran up
beside the train--three--four; came a succession of white-roofed
houses, a glimpse of a trolley-car with frosted windows,
streets--more streets--the city.

She stood for a dazed moment in the frosty station before she saw
three fur-bundled figures descending upon her.

"There she is!"

"Oh, Sally Carrol!"

Sally Carrol dropped her bag.

"Hi!"

A faintly familiar icy-cold face kissed her, and then she was in
a group of faces all apparently emitting great clouds of heavy
smoke; she was shaking hands. There were Gordon, a short, eager
man of thirty who looked like an amateur knocked-about model for
Harry, and his wife, Myra, a listless lady with flaxen hair under
a fur automobile cap. Almost immediately Sally Carrol thought of
her as vaguely Scandinavian. A cheerful chauffeur adopted her
bag, and amid ricochets of half-phrases, exclamations and
perfunctory listless "my dears" from Myra, they swept each other
from the station.

Then they were in a sedan bound through a crooked succession of
snowy streets where dozens of little boys were hitching sleds
behind grocery wagons and automobiles.

"Oh," cried Sally Carrol, "I want to do that! Can we Harry?"

"That's for kids. But we might---"

"It looks like such a circus!" she said regretfully.

Home was a rambling frame house set on a white lap of snow, and
there she met a big, gray-haired man of whom she approved, and a
lady who was like an egg, and who kissed her--these were Harry's
parents. There was a breathless indescribable hour crammed full
of self-sentences, hot water, bacon and eggs and confusion; and
after that she was alone with Harry in the library, asking him if
she dared smoke.

It was a large room with a Madonna over the fireplace and rows
upon rows of books in covers of light gold and dark gold and
shiny red. All the chairs had little lace squares where one's head
should rest, the couch was just comfortable, the books looked as
if they had been read--some--and Sally Carrol had an
instantaneous vision of the battered old library at home, with
her father's huge medical books, and the oil-paintings of her
three great-uncles, and the old couch that had been mended up for
forty-five years and was still luxurious to dream in.  This room
struck her as being neither attractive nor particularly
otherwise. It was simply a room with a lot of fairly expensive
things in it that all looked about fifteen years old.

"What do you think of it up here?" demanded Harry eagerly. "Does
it surprise you? Is it what you expected I mean?"

"You are, Harry," she said quietly, and reached out her arms to
him.

But after a brief kiss he seemed to extort enthusiasm from her.

"The town, I mean. Do you like it? Can you feel the pep in the
air?"

"Oh, Harry," she laughed, "you'll have to give me time. You can't
just fling questions at me."

She puffed at her cigarette with a sigh of contentment.

"One thing I want to ask you," he began rather apologetically;
"you Southerners put quite an emphasis on family, and all
that--not that it isn't quite all right, but you'll find it a
little different here. I mean--you'll notice a lot of things
that'll seem to you sort of vulgar display at first, Sally
Carrol; but just remember that this is a three-generation town.
Everybody has a father, and about half of us have grandfathers.
Back of that we don't go."

"Of course," she murmured.

"Our grandfathers, you see, founded the place, and a lot of them
had to take some pretty queer jobs while they were doing the
founding. For instance there's one woman who at present is about
the social model for the town; well, her father was the first
public ash man--things like that."

"Why," said Sally Carol, puzzled, "did you s'pose I was goin' to
make remarks about people?"

"Not at all," interrupted Harry, "and I'm not apologizing for any
one either. It's just that--well, a Southern girl came up here
last summer and said some unfortunate things, and--oh, I just
thought I'd tell you."

Sally Carrol felt suddenly indignant--as though she had been
unjustly spanked--but Harry evidently considered the subject
closed, for he went on with a great surge of enthusiasm.

"It's carnival time, you know. First in ten years. And there's an
ice palace they're building new that's the first they've had
since eighty-five. Built out of blocks of the clearest ice they
could find--on a tremendous scale."

She rose and walking to the window pushed aside the heavy Turkish
portières and looked out.

"Oh!" she cried suddenly. "There's two little boys makin' a snow
man! Harry, do you reckon I can go out an' help 'em?"

"You dream! Come here and kiss me."

She left the window rather reluctantly.

"I don't guess this is a very kissable climate, is it? I mean, it
makes you so you don't want to sit round, doesn't it?"

"We're not going to. I've got a vacation for the first week
you're here, and there's a dinner-dance to-night."

"Oh, Harry," she confessed, subsiding in a heap, half in his lap,
half in the pillows, "I sure do feel confused. I haven't got an
idea whether I'll like it or not, an' I don't know what people
expect, or anythin'. You'll have to tell me, honey."

"I'll tell you," he said softly, "if you'll just tell me you're
glad to be here."

"Glad--just awful glad!" she whispered, insinuating herself into
his arms in her own peculiar way.  "Where you are is home for me,
Harry."

And as she said this she had the feeling for almost the first
time in her life that she was acting a part.

That night, amid the gleaming candles of a dinner-party, where
the men seemed to do most of the talking while the girls sat in a
haughty and expensive aloofness, even Harry's presence on her
left failed to make her feel at home.

"They're a good-looking crowd, don't you think?" he demanded.
"Just look round. There's Spud Hubbard, tackle at Princeton last
year, and Junie Morton--he and the red-haired fellow next to him
were both Yale hockey captains; Junie was in my class. Why, the
best athletes in the world come from these States round here.
This is a man's country, I tell you. Look at John J. Fishburn!"

"Who's he?" asked Sally Carrol innocently.

"Don't you know?"

"I've heard the name."

"Greatest wheat man in the Northwest, and one of the greatest
financiers in the country."

She turned suddenly to a voice on her right.

"I guess they forget to introduce us. My name's Roger Patton."

"My name is Sally Carrol Happer," she said graciously.

"Yes, I know. Harry told me you were coming."

"You a relative?"

"No, I'm a professor."

"Oh," she laughed.

"At the university.  You're from the South, aren't you?"

"Yes; Tarleton, Georgia."

She liked him immediately--a reddish-brown mustache under watery
blue eyes that had something in them that these other eyes
lacked, some quality of appreciation. They exchanged stray
sentences through dinner, and she made up her mind to see him
again.

After coffee she was introduced to numerous good-looking young
men who danced with conscious precision and seemed to take it for
granted that she wanted to talk about nothing except Harry.

"Heavens," she thought, "They talk as if my being engaged made me
older than they are--as if I'd tell their mothers on them!"

In the South an engaged girl, even a young married woman,
expected the same amount of half-affectionate badinage and
flattery that would be accorded a débutante, but here all that
seemed banned.  One young man after getting well started on the
subject of Sally Carrol's eyes and, how they had allured him ever
since she entered the room, went into a violent convulsion when
he found she was visiting the Bellamys--was Harry's fiancée. He
seemed to feel as though he had made some risqué and inexcusable
blunder, became immediately formal and left her at the first
opportunity.

She was rather glad when Roger Patton cut in on her and suggested
that they sit out a while.

"Well," he inquired, blinking cheerily, "how's Carmen from the
South?"

"Mighty fine.  How's--how's Dangerous Dan McGrew? Sorry, but he's
the only Northerner I know much about."

He seemed to enjoy that.

"Of course," he confessed, "as a professor of literature I'm not
supposed to have read Dangerous Dan McGrew."

"Are you a native?"

"No, I'm a Philadelphian. Imported from Harvard to teach French.
But I've been here ten years."

"Nine years, three hundred an' sixty-four days longer than me."

"Like it here?"

"Uh-huh.  Sure do!"

"Really?"

"Well, why not? Don't I look as if I were havin' a good time?"

"I saw you look out the window a minute ago--and shiver."

"Just my imagination," laughed Sally Carroll "I'm used to havin'
everythin' quiet outside an' sometimes I look out an' see a
flurry of snow an' it's just as if somethin' dead was movin'."

He nodded appreciatively.

"Ever been North before?"

"Spent two Julys in Asheville, North Carolina."

"Nice-looking crowd aren't they?" suggested Patton, indicating
the swirling floor.

Sally Carrol started. This had been Harry's remark.

"Sure are! They're--canine."

"What?"

She flushed.

"I'm sorry; that sounded worse than I meant it. You see I always
think of people as feline or canine, irrespective of sex."

"Which are you?"

"I'm feline. So are you. So are most Southern men an' most of
these girls here."

"What's Harry?"

"Harry's canine distinctly. All the men I've to-night seem to be
canine."

"What does canine imply? A certain conscious masculinity as
opposed to subtlety?"

"Reckon so. I never analyzed it--only I just look at people an'
say 'canine' or 'feline' right off. It's right absurd I guess."

"Not at all. I'm interested. I used to have a theory about these
people. I think they're freezing up."

"What?"

"Well, they're growing' like Swedes--Ibsenesque, you know. Very
gradually getting gloomy and melancholy. It's these long winters.
Ever read Ibsen?"

She shook her head.

"Well, you find in his characters a certain brooding rigidity.
They're righteous, narrow, and cheerless, without infinite
possibilities for great sorrow or joy."

"Without smiles or tears?"

"Exactly.  That's my theory.  You see there are thousands of
Swedes up here. They come, I imagine, because the climate is very
much like their own, and there's been a gradual mingling.
There're probably not half a dozen here to-night, but--we've had
four Swedish governors. Am I boring you?"

"I'm mighty interested."

"Your future sister-in-law is half Swedish. Personally I like
her, but my theory is that Swedes react rather badly on us as a
whole. Scandinavians, you know, have the largest suicide rate in
the world."

"Why do you live here if it's so depressing?"

"Oh, it doesn't get me. I'm pretty well cloistered, and I suppose
books mean more than people to me anyway."

"But writers all speak about the South being tragic. You
know--Spanish señoritas, black hair and daggers an' haunting
music."

He shook his head.

"No, the Northern races are the tragic races--they don't indulge
in the cheering luxury of tears."

Sally Carrol thought of her graveyard. She supposed that that was
vaguely what she had meant when she said it didn't depress her.

"The Italians are about the gayest people in the world--but it's
a dull subject," he broke off.  "Anyway, I want to tell you
you're marrying a pretty fine man."

Sally Carrol was moved by an impulse of confidence.

"I know. I'm the sort of person who wants to be taken care of
after a certain point, and I feel sure I will be."

"Shall we dance? You know," he continued as they rose, "it's
encouraging to find a girl who knows what she's marrying for.
Nine-tenths of them think of it as a sort of walking into a
moving-picture sunset."

She laughed and liked him immensely.

Two hours later on the way home she nestled near Harry in the
back seat.

"Oh, Harry," she whispered "it's so co-old!"

"But it's warm in here, daring girl."

"But outside it's cold; and oh, that howling wind!"

She buried her face deep in his fur coat and trembled
involuntarily as his cold lips kissed the tip of her ear.



IV


The first week of her visit passed in a whirl. She had her
promised toboggan-ride at the back of an automobile through a
chill January twilight. Swathed in furs she put in a morning
tobogganing on the country-club hill; even tried skiing, to sail
through the air for a glorious moment and then land in a tangled
laughing bundle on a soft snow-drift. She liked all the winter
sports, except an afternoon spent snow-shoeing over a glaring
plain under pale yellow sunshine, but she soon realized that
these things were for children--that she was being humored and
that the enjoyment round her was only a reflection of her own.

At first the Bellamy family puzzled her. The men were reliable
and she liked them; to Mr. Bellamy especially, with his iron-gray
hair and energetic dignity, she took an immediate fancy, once
she found that he was born in Kentucky; this made of him a link
between the old life and the new. But toward the women she felt a
definite hostility. Myra, her future sister-in-law, seemed the
essence of spiritless conversationality. Her conversation was so
utterly devoid of personality that Sally Carrol, who came from a
country where a certain amount of charm and assurance could be
taken for granted in the women, was inclined to despise her.

"If those women aren't beautiful," she thought, "they're nothing.
They just fade out when you look at them. They're glorified
domestics. Men are the centre of every mixed group."

Lastly there was Mrs. Bellamy, whom Sally Carrol detested. The
first day's impression of an egg had been confirmed--an egg with
a cracked, veiny voice and such an ungracious dumpiness of
carriage that Sally Carrol felt that if she once fell she would
surely scramble. In addition, Mrs. Bellamy seemed to typify the
town in being innately hostile to strangers. She called Sally
Carrol "Sally," and could not be persuaded that the double name
was anything more than a tedious ridiculous nickname. To Sally
Carrol this shortening of her name was presenting her to the
public half clothed. She loved "Sally Carrol"; she loathed
"Sally."  She knew also that Harry's mother disapproved of her
bobbed hair; and she had never dared smoke down-stairs after that
first day when Mrs. Bellamy had come into the library sniffing
violently.

Of all the men she met she preferred Roger Patton, who was a
frequent visitor at the house.  He never again alluded to the
Ibsenesque tendency of the populace, but when he came in one day
and found her curled upon the sofa bent over "Peer Gynt" he
laughed and told her to forget what he'd said--that it was all
rot.

They had been walking homeward between mounds of high-piled snow
and under a sun which Sally Carrol scarcely recognized. They
passed a little girl done up in gray wool until she resembled a
small Teddy bear, and Sally Carrol could not resist a gasp of
maternal appreciation.

"Look! Harry!"

"What?"

"That little girl--did you see her face?"

"Yes, why?"

"It was red as a little strawberry.  Oh, she was cute!"

"Why, your own face is almost as red as that already! Everybody's
healthy here.  We're out in the cold as soon as we're old enough
to walk.  Wonderful climate!"

She looked at him and had to agree.  He was mighty
healthy-looking; so was his brother.  And she had noticed the new
red in her own cheeks that very morning.

Suddenly their glances were caught and held, and they stared for
a moment at the street-corner ahead of them.  A man was standing
there, his knees bent, his eyes gazing upward with a tense
expression as though he were about to make a leap toward the
chilly sky.  And then they both exploded into a shout of
laughter, for coming closer they discovered it had been a
ludicrous momentary illusion produced by the extreme bagginess of
the man's trousers.

"Reckon that's one on us," she laughed.

"He must be Southerner, judging by those trousers," suggested
Harry mischievously.

"Why, Harry!"

Her surprised look must have irritated him.

"Those damn Southerners!"

Sally Carrol's eyes flashed.

"Don't call 'em that."

"I'm sorry, dear," said Harry, malignantly apologetic, "but you
know what I think of them.  They're sort of--sort of
degenerates--not at all like the old Southerners.  They've lived
so long down there with all the colored people that they've
gotten lazy and shiftless."

"Hush your mouth, Harry!" she cried angrily. "They're not! They
may be lazy--anybody would be in that climate--but they're my
best friends, an' I don't want to hear 'em criticised in any such
sweepin' way. Some of 'em are the finest men in the world."

"Oh, I know. They're all right when they come North to college,
but of all the hangdog, ill-dressed, slovenly lot I ever saw, a
bunch of small-town Southerners are the worst!"

Sally Carrol was clinching her gloved hands and biting her lip
furiously.

"Why," continued Harry, "if there was one in my class at New
Haven, and we all thought that at last we'd found the true type
of Southern aristocrat, but it turned out that he wasn't an
aristocrat at all--just the son of a Northern carpetbagger, who
owned about all the cotton round Mobile."

"A Southerner wouldn't talk the way you're talking now," she said
evenly.

"They haven't the energy!"

"Or the somethin' else."

"I'm sorry Sally Carrol, but I've heard you say yourself that
you'd never marry---"

"That's quite different. I told you I wouldn't want to tie my
life to any of the boys that are round Tarleton now, but I never
made any sweepin' generalities."

They walked along in silence.

"I probably spread it on a bit thick Sally Carrol. I'm sorry."

She nodded but made no answer.  Five minutes later as they stood
in the hallway she suddenly threw her arms round him.

"Oh, Harry," she cried, her eyes brimming with tears; "let's get
married next week. I'm afraid of having fusses like that. I'm
afraid, Harry. It wouldn't be that way if we were married."

But Harry, being in the wrong, was still irritated.

"That'd be idiotic. We decided on March."

The tears in Sally Carrol's eyes faded; her expression hardened
slightly.

"Very well--I suppose I shouldn't have said that."

Harry melted.

"Dear little nut!" he cried. "Come and kiss me and let's forget."
That very night at the end of a vaudeville performance the
orchestra played "Dixie" and Sally Carrol felt something stronger
and more enduring than her tears and smiles of the day brim up
inside her. She leaned forward gripping the arms of her chair
until her face grew crimson.

"Sort of get you dear?" whispered Harry.

But she did not hear him. To the limited throb of the violins and
the inspiring beat of the kettle-drums her own old ghosts were
marching by and on into the darkness, and as fifes whistled and
sighed in the low encore they seemed so nearly out of sight that
she could have waved good-by.

     "Away, Away,
         Away down South in Dixie!
      Away, away,
         Away down South in Dixie!"



V


It was a particularly cold night. A sudden thaw had nearly
cleared the streets the day before, but now they were traversed
again with a powdery wraith of loose snow that travelled in wavy
lines before the feet of the wind, and filled the lower air with
a fine-particled mist. There was no sky--only a dark, ominous
tent that draped in the tops of the streets and was in reality a
vast approaching army of snowflakes--while over it all, chilling
away the comfort from the brown-and-green glow of lighted
windows and muffling the steady trot of the horse pulling their
sleigh, interminably washed the north wind. It was a dismal town
after all, she though, dismal.

Sometimes at night it had seemed to her as though no one lived
here--they had all gone long ago--leaving lighted houses to be
covered in time by tombing heaps of sleet. Oh, if there should be
snow on her grave! To be beneath great piles of it all winter
long, where even her headstone would be a light shadow against
light shadows. Her grave--a grave that should be flower-strewn
and washed with sun and rain.

She thought again of those isolated country houses that her train
had passed, and of the life there the long winter through--the
ceaseless glare through the windows, the crust forming on the
soft drifts of snow, finally the slow cheerless melting and the
harsh spring of which Roger Patton had told her. Her spring--to
lose it forever--with its lilacs and the lazy sweetness it
stirred in her heart. She was laying away that spring--afterward
she would lay away that sweetness.

With a gradual insistence the storm broke. Sally Carrol felt a
film of flakes melt quickly on her eyelashes, and Harry reached
over a furry arm and drew down her complicated flannel cap. Then
the small flakes came in skirmish-line, and the horse bent his
neck patiently as a transparency of white appeared momentarily on
his coat.

"Oh, he's cold, Harry," she said quickly.

"Who? The horse? Oh, no, he isn't. He likes it!"

After another ten minutes they turned a corner and came in sight
of their destination. On a tall hill outlined in vivid glaring
green against the wintry sky stood the ice palace. It was three
stories in the air, with battlements and embrasures and narrow
icicled windows, and the innumerable electric lights inside made
a gorgeous transparency of the great central hall. Sally Carrol
clutched Harry's hand under the fur robe.

"It's beautiful!" he cried excitedly. "My golly, it's beautiful,
isn't it! They haven't had one here since eighty-five!"

Somehow the notion of there not having been one since eighty-five
oppressed her. Ice was a ghost, and this mansion of it was
surely peopled by those shades of the eighties, with pale faces
and blurred snow-filled hair.

"Come on, dear," said Harry.

She followed him out of the sleigh and waited while he hitched
the horse. A party of four--Gordon, Myra, Roger Patton, and
another girl--drew up beside them with a mighty jingle of bells.
There were quite a crowd already, bundled in fur or sheepskin,
shouting and calling to each other as they moved through the
snow, which was now so thick that people could scarcely be
distinguished a few yards away.

"It's a hundred and seventy feet tall," Harry was saying to a
muffled figure beside him as they trudged toward the entrance;
"covers six thousand square yards."

She caught snatches of conversation: "One main hall"--"walls
twenty to forty inches thick"--"and the ice cave has almost a
mile of--"--"this Canuck who built it---"

They found their way inside, and dazed by the magic of the great
crystal walls Sally Carrol found herself repeating over and over
two lines from "Kubla Khan":

     "It was a miracle of rare device,
      A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!"

In the great glittering cavern with the dark shut out she took a
seat on a wooded bench and the evening's oppression lifted. Harry
was right--it was beautiful; and her gaze travelled the smooth
surface of the walls, the blocks for which had been selected for
their purity and dearness to obtain this opalescent, translucent
effect.

"Look! Here we go--oh, boy!" cried Harry.

A band in a far corner struck up "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All
Here!" which echoed over to them in wild muddled acoustics, and
then the lights suddenly went out; silence seemed to flow down
the icy sides and sweep over them. Sally Carrol could still see
her white breath in the darkness, and a dim row of pale faces
over on the other side.

The music eased to a sighing complaint, and from outside drifted
in the full-throated remnant chant of the marching clubs. It grew
louder like some pæan of a viking tribe traversing an ancient
wild; it swelled--they were coming nearer; then a row of torches
appeared, and another and another, and keeping time with their
moccasined feet a long column of gray-mackinawed figures swept
in, snow-shoes slung at their shoulders, torches soaring and
flickering as their voice rose along the great walls.

The gray column ended and another followed, the light streaming
luridly this time over red toboggan caps and flaming crimson
mackinaws, and as they entered they took up the refrain; then
came a long platoon of blue and white, of green, of white, of
brown and yellow.

"Those white ones are the Wacouta Club," whispered Harry eagerly.
"Those are the men you've met round at dances."

The volume of the voices grew; the great cavern was a
phantasmagoria of torches waving in great banks of fire, of
colors and the rhythm of soft-leather steps. The leading column
turned and halted, platoon deploys in front of platoon until the
whole procession made a solid flag of flame, and then from
thousands of voices burst a mighty shout that filled the air like
a crash of thunder, and sent the torches wavering. It was
magnificent, it was tremendous! To Sally Carol it was the North
offering sacrifice on some mighty altar to the gray pagan God of
Snow. As the shout died the band struck up again and there came
more singing, and then long reverberating cheers by each club.
She sat very quiet listening while the staccato cries rent the
stillness; and then she started, for there was a volley of
explosion, and great clouds of smoke went up here and there
through the cavern--the flash-light photographers at work--and
the council was over. With the band at their head the clubs
formed in column once more, took up their chant, and began to
march out.

"Come on!" shouted Harry. "We want to see the labyrinths
down-stairs before they turn the lights off!"

They all rose and started toward the chute--Harry and Sally
Carrol in the lead, her little mitten buried in his big fur
gantlet. At the bottom of the chute was a long empty room of ice,
with the ceiling so low that they had to stoop--and their hands
were parted. Before she realized what he intended Harry had
darted down one of the half-dozen glittering passages that
opened into the room and was only a vague receding blot against
the green shimmer.

"Harry!" she called.

"Come on!" he cried back.

She looked round the empty chamber; the rest of the party had
evidently decided to go home, were already outside somewhere in
the blundering snow. She hesitated and then darted in after
Harry.

"Harry!" she shouted.

She had reached a turning-point thirty feet down; she heard a
faint muffled answer far to the left, and with a touch of panic
fled toward it. She passed another turning, two more yawning
alleys.

"Harry!"

No answer. She started to run straight forward, and then turned
like lightning and sped back the way she had come, enveloped in a
sudden icy terror.

She reached a turn--was it here?--took the left and came to what
should have been the outlet into the long, low room, but it was
only another glittering passage with darkness at the end. She
called again, but the walls gave back a flat, lifeless echo with
no reverberations. Retracing her steps she turned another corner,
this time following a wide passage. It was like the green lane
between the parted water of the Red Sea, like a damp vault
connecting empty tombs.

She slipped a little now as she walked, for ice had formed on the
bottom of her overshoes; she had to run her gloves along the
half-slippery, half-sticky walls to keep her balance.

"Harry!"

Still no answer. The sound she made bounced mockingly down to the
end of the passage.

Then on an instant the lights went out, and she was in complete
darkness. She gave a small, frightened cry, and sank down into a
cold little heap on the ice. She felt her left knee do something
as she fell, but she scarcely noticed it as some deep terror far
greater than any fear of being lost settled upon her. She was
alone with this presence that came out of the North, the dreary
loneliness that rose from ice-bound whalers in the Arctic seas,
from smokeless, trackless wastes where were strewn the whitened
bones of adventure. It was an icy breath of death; it was rolling
down low across the land to clutch at her.

With a furious, despairing energy she rose again and started
blindly down the darkness. She must get out. She might be lost in
here for days, freeze to death and lie embedded in the ice like
corpses she had read of, kept perfectly preserved until the
melting of a glacier. Harry probably thought she had left with
the others--he had gone by now; no one would know until next day.
She reached pitifully for the wall. Forty inches thick, they had
said--forty inches thick!

On both sides of her along the walls she felt things creeping,
damp souls that haunted this palace, this town, this North.

"Oh, send somebody--send somebody!" she cried aloud.

Clark Darrow--he would understand; or Joe Ewing; she couldn't be
left here to wander forever--to be frozen, heart, body, and soul.
This her--this Sally Carrol! Why, she was a happy thing. She
was a happy little girl. She liked warmth and summer and Dixie.
These things were foreign--foreign.

"You're not crying," something said aloud. "You'll never cry any
more. Your tears would just freeze; all tears freeze up here!"

She sprawled full length on the ice.

"Oh, God!" she faltered.

A long single file of minutes went by, and with a great weariness
she felt her eyes dosing. Then some one seemed to sit down near
her and take her face in warm, soft hands. She looked up
gratefully.

"Why it's Margery Lee," she crooned softly to herself. "I knew
you'd come." It really was Margery Lee, and she was just as Sally
Carrol had known she would be, with a young, white brow, and
wide welcoming eyes, and a hoop-skirt of some soft material that
was quite comforting to rest on.

"Margery Lee."

It was getting darker now and darker--all those tombstones ought
to be repainted sure enough, only that would spoil 'em, of
course. Still, you ought to be able to see 'em.

Then after a succession of moments that went fast and then slow,
but seemed to be ultimately resolving themselves into a multitude
of blurred rays converging toward a pale-yellow sun, she heard a
great cracking noise break her new-found stillness.

It was the sun, it was a light; a torch, and a torch beyond that,
and another one, and voices; a face took flesh below the torch,
heavy arms raised her and she felt something on her cheek--it
felt wet. Some one had seized her and was rubbing her face with
snow. How ridiculous--with snow!

"Sally Carrol! Sally Carrol!"

It was Dangerous Dan McGrew; and two other faces she didn't know.
"Child, child! We've been looking for you two hours! Harry's
half-crazy!"

Things came rushing back into place--the singing, the torches,
the great shout of the marching clubs. She squirmed in Patton's
arms and gave a long low cry.

"Oh, I want to get out of here! I'm going back home. Take me
home"---her voice rose to a scream that sent a chill to Harry's
heart as he came racing down the next passage--"to-morrow!" she
cried with delirious, unstrained passion--"To-morrow! To-morrow!
To-morrow!"



VI


The wealth of golden sunlight poured a quite enervating yet oddly
comforting heat over the house where day long it faced the dusty
stretch of road. Two birds were making a great to-do in a cool
spot found among the branches of a tree next door, and down the
street a colored woman was announcing herself melodiously as a
purveyor of strawberries. It was April afternoon.

Sally Carrol Happer, resting her chin on her arm, and her arm on
an old window-seat, gazed sleepily down over the spangled dust
whence the heat waves were rising for the first time this spring.
She was watching a very ancient Ford turn a perilous corner and
rattle and groan to a jolting stop at the end of the walk. See
made no sound and in a minute a strident familiar whistle rent
the air. Sally Carrol smiled and blinked.

"Good mawnin'."

A head appeared tortuously from under the car-top below.

"Tain't mawnin', Sally Carrol."

"Sure enough!" she said in affected surprise. "I guess maybe
not."

"What you doin'?"

"Eatin' a green peach. 'Spect to die any minute."

Clark twisted himself a last impossible notch to get a view of
her face.

"Water's warm as a kettla steam, Sally Carol. Wanta go swimmin'?"

"Hate to move," sighed Sally Carol lazily, "but I reckon so."



Head and Shoulders



In 1915 Horace Tarbox was thirteen years old. In that year he
took the examinations for entrance to Princeton University and
received the Grade A--excellent--in Cæsar, Cicero, Vergil,
Xenophon, Homer, Algebra, Plane Geometry, Solid Geometry, and
Chemistry.

Two years later while George M. Cohan was composing "Over There,"
Horace was leading the sophomore class by several lengths and
digging out theses on "The Syllogism as an Obsolete Scholastic
Form," and during the battle of Château-Thierry he was sitting at
his desk deciding whether or not to wait until his seventeenth
birthday before beginning his series of essays on "The Pragmatic
Bias of the New Realists."

After a while some newsboy told him that the war was over, and he
was glad, because it meant that Peat Brothers, publishers, would
get out their new edition of "Spinoza's Improvement of the
Understanding." Wars were all very well in their way, made young
men self-reliant or something but Horace felt that he could never
forgive the President for allowing a brass band to play under
his window the night of the false armistice, causing him to leave
three important sentences out of his thesis on "German
Idealism."

The next year he went up to Yale to take his degree as Master of
Arts.

He was seventeen then, tall and slender, with near-sighted gray
eyes and an air of keeping himself utterly detached from the mere
words he let drop.

"I never feel as though I'm talking to him," expostulated
Professor Dillinger to a sympathetic colleague. "He makes me feel
as though I were talking to his representative. I always expect
him to say: 'Well, I'll ask myself and find out.'"

And then, just as nonchalantly as though Horace Tarbox had been
Mr. Beef the butcher or Mr. Hat the haberdasher, life reached in,
seized him,  handled him, stretched him, and unrolled him like a
piece of Irish lace on a Saturday-afternoon bargain-counter.

To move in the literary fashion I should say that this was all
because when way back in colonial days the hardy pioneers had
come to a bald place in Connecticut and asked of each other,
"Now, what shall we build here?" the hardiest one among 'em had
answered: "Let's build a town where theatrical managers can try
out musical comedies!" How afterward they founded Yale College
there, to try the musical comedies on, is a story every one
knows. At any rate one December, "Home James" opened at the
Shubert, and all the students encored Marcia Meadow, who sang a
song about the Blundering Blimp in the first act and did a shaky,
shivery, celebrated dance in the last.

Marcia was nineteen. She didn't have wings, but audiences agreed
generally that she didn't need them. She was a blonde by natural
pigment, and she wore no paint on the streets at high noon.
Outside of that she was no better than most women.

It was Charlie Moon who promised her five thousand Pall Malls if
she would pay a call on Horace Tarbox, prodigy extraordinary.
Charlie was a senior in Sheffield, and he and Horace were first
cousins. They liked and pitied each other.

Horace had been particularly busy that night. The failure of the
Frenchman Laurier to appreciate the significance of the new
realists was preying on his mind. In fact, his only reaction to a
low, clear-cut rap at his study was to make him speculate as to
whether any rap would have actual existence without an ear there
to hear it. He fancied he was verging more and more toward
pragmatism. But at that moment, though he did not know it, he was
verging with astounding rapidity toward something quite
different.

The rap sounded--three seconds leaked by--the rap sounded.

"Come in," muttered Horace automatically.

He heard the door open and then close, but, bent over his book in
the big armchair before the fire, he did not look up.

"Leave it on the bed in the other room," he said absently.

"Leave what on the bed in the other room?"

Marcia Meadow had to talk her songs, but her speaking voice was
like byplay on a harp.

"The laundry."

"I can't."

Horace stirred impatiently in his chair.

"Why can't you?"

"Why, because I haven't got it."

"Hm!" he replied testily. "Suppose you go back and get it."

Across the fire from Horace was another easychair. He was
accustomed to change to it in the course of an evening by way of
exercise and variety. One chair he called Berkeley, the other he
called Hume. He suddenly heard a sound as of a rustling,
diaphanous form sinking into Hume. He glanced up.

"Well," said Marcia with the sweet smile she used in Act Two
("Oh, so the Duke liked my dancing!") "Well, Omar Khayyam, here I
am beside you singing in the wilderness."

Horace stared at her dazedly. The momentary suspicion came to him
that she existed there only as a phantom of his imagination.
Women didn't come into men's rooms and sink into men's Humes.
Women brought laundry and took your seat in the street-car and
married you later on when you were old enough to know fetters.

This woman had clearly materialized out of Hume. The very froth
of her brown gauzy dress was art emanation from Hume's leather
arm there! If he looked long enough he would see Hume right
through her and then he would be alone again in the room. He
passed his fist across his eyes. He really must take up those
trapeze exercises again.

"For Pete's sake, don't look so critical!" objected the emanation
pleasantly. "I feel as if you were going to wish me away with
that patent dome of yours. And then there wouldn't be anything
left of me except my shadow in your eyes."

Horace coughed. Coughing was one of his two gestures. When he
talked you forgot he had a body at all. It was like hearing a
phonograph record by a singer who had been dead a long time.

"What do you want?" he asked.

"I want them letters," whined Marcia melodramatically--"them
letters of mine you bought from my grandsire in 1881."

Horace considered.

"I haven't got your letters," he said evenly. "I am only
seventeen years old. My father was not born until March 3, 1879.
You evidently have me confused with some one else."

"You're only seventeen?" repeated March suspiciously.

"Only seventeen."

"I knew a girl," said Marcia reminiscently, "who went on the
ten-twenty-thirty when she was sixteen. She was so stuck on
herself that she could never say 'sixteen' without putting the
'only' before it. We got to calling her 'Only Jessie.' And she's
just where she was when she started--only worse. 'Only' is a bad
habit, Omar--it sounds like an alibi."

"My name is not Omar."

"I know," agreed Marcia, nodding--"your name's Horace. I just
call you Omar because you remind me of a smoked cigarette."

"And I haven't your letters. I doubt if I've ever met your
grandfather. In fact, I think it very improbable that you
yourself were alive in 1881."

Marcia stared at him in wonder.

"Me--1881? Why sure! I was second-line stuff when the Florodora
Sextette was still in the convent. I was the original nurse to
Mrs. Sol Smith's Juliette. Why, Omar, I was a canteen singer
during the War of 1812."

Horace's mind made a sudden successful leap, and he grinned.

"Did Charlie Moon put you up to this?"

Marcia regarded him inscrutably.

"Who's Charlie Moon?"

"Small--wide nostrils--big ears."

She grew several inches and sniffed.

"I'm not in the habit of noticing my friends' nostrils.

"Then it was Charlie?"

Marcia bit her lip--and then yawned.  "Oh, let's change the
subject, Omar. I'll pull a snore in this chair in a minute."

"Yes," replied Horace gravely, "Hume has often been considered
soporific---"

"Who's your friend--and will he die?"

Then of a sudden Horace Tarbox rose slenderly and began to pace
the room with his hands in his pockets. This was his other
gesture.

"I don't care for this," he said as if he were talking to
himself--"at all. Not that I mind your being here--I don't.
You're quite a pretty little thing, but I don't like Charlie
Moon's sending you up here. Am I a laboratory experiment on which
the janitors as well as the chemists can make experiments? Is my
intellectual development humorous in any way? Do I look like the
pictures of the little Boston boy in the comic magazines? Has
that callow ass, Moon, with his eternal tales about his week in
Paris, any right to---"

"No," interrupted Marcia emphatically.  "And you're a sweet boy.
Come here and kiss me."

Horace stopped quickly in front of her.

"Why do you want me to kiss you?" he asked intently, "Do you just
go round kissing people?"

"Why, yes," admitted Marcia, unruffled. "'At's all life is. Just
going round kissing people."

"Well," replied Horace emphatically, "I must say your ideas are
horribly garbled! In the first place life isn't just that, and in
the second place. I won't kiss you. It might get to be a habit
and I can't get rid of habits. This year I've got in the habit of
lolling in bed until seven-thirty---"

Marcia nodded understandingly.

"Do you ever have any fun?" she asked.

"What do you mean by fun?"

"See here," said Marcia sternly, "I like you, Omar, but I wish
you'd talk as if you had a line on what you were saying. You
sound as if you were gargling a lot of words in your mouth and
lost a bet every time you spilled a few. I asked you if you ever
had any fun."

Horace shook his head.

"Later, perhaps," he answered. "You see I'm a plan. I'm an
experiment. I don't say that I don't get tired of it sometimes--I
do. Yet--oh, I can't explain! But what you and Charlie Moon call
fun wouldn't be fun to me."

"Please explain."

Horace stared at her, started to speak and then, changing his
mind, resumed his walk. After an unsuccessful attempt to
determine whether or not he was looking at her Marcia smiled at
him.

"Please explain."

Horace turned.

"If I do, will you promise to tell Charlie Moon that I wasn't
in?"

"Uh-uh."

"Very well, then. Here's my history: I was a 'why' child. I
wanted to see the wheels go round. My father was a young
economics professor at Princeton. He brought me up on the system
of answering every question I asked him to the best of his
ability. My response to that gave him the idea of making an
experiment in precocity. To aid in the massacre I had ear
trouble--seven operations between the age of nine and twelve. Of
course this kept me apart from other boys and made me ripe for
forcing. Anyway, while my generation was laboring through Uncle
Remus I was honestly enjoying Catullus in the original.

"I passed off my college examinations when I was thirteen because
I couldn't help it. My chief associates were professors, and I
took a tremendous pride in knowing that I had a fine
intelligence, for though I was unusually gifted I was not
abnormal in other ways. When I was sixteen I got tired of being a
freak; I decided that some one had made a bad mistake. Still as
I'd gone that far I concluded to finish it up by taking my degree
of Master of Arts. My chief interest in life is the study of
modern philosophy. I am a realist of the School of Anton
Laurier--with Bergsonian trimmings--and I'll be eighteen years
old in two months. That's all."

"Whew!" exclaimed Marcia. "That's enough! You do a neat job with
the parts of speech."

"Satisfied?"

"No, you haven't kissed me."

"It's not in my programme," demurred Horace. "Understand that I
don't pretend to be above physical things. They have their place,
but---"

"Oh, don't be so darned reasonable!"

"I can't help it."

"I hate these slot-machine people."

"I assure you I---" began Horace.

"Oh shut up!"

"My own rationality---"

"I didn't say anything about your nationality. You're Amuricun,
ar'n't you?"

"Yes."

"Well, that's O.K. with me.  I got a notion I want to see you do
something that isn't in your highbrow programme. I want to see if
a what-ch-call-em with Brazilian trimmings--that thing you said
you were--can be a little human."

Horace shook his head again.

"I won't kiss you."

"My life is blighted," muttered Marcia tragically. "I'm a beaten
woman. I'll go through life without ever having a kiss with
Brazilian trimmings." She sighed. "Anyways, Omar, will you come
and see my show?"

"What show?"

"I'm a wicked actress from 'Home James'!"

"Light opera?"

"Yes--at a stretch. One of the characters is a Brazilian
rice-planter. That might interest you."

"I saw 'The Bohemian Girl' once," reflected Horace aloud. "I
enjoyed it--to some extent---"

"Then you'll come?"

"Well, I'm--I'm---"

"Oh, I know--you've got to run down to Brazil for the week-end."

"Not at all. I'd be delighted to come---"

Marcia clapped her hands.

"Goodyforyou! I'll mail you a ticket--Thursday night?"

"Why, I---"

"Good! Thursday night it is."

She stood up and walking close to him laid both hands on his
shoulders.

"I like you, Omar.  I'm sorry I tried to kid you. I thought you'd
be sort of frozen, but you're a nice boy."

He eyed her sardonically.

"I'm several thousand generations older than you are."

"You carry your age well."

They shook hands gravely.

"My name's Marcia Meadow," she said emphatically. "'Member it--
Marcia Meadow. And I won't tell Charlie Moon you were in."

An instant later as she was skimming down the last flight of
stairs three at a time she heard a voice call over the upper
banister: "Oh, say---"

She stopped and looked up--made out a vague form leaning over.

"Oh, say!" called the prodigy again. "Can you hear me?"

"Here's your connection Omar."

"I hope I haven't given you the impression that I consider
kissing intrinsically irrational."

"Impression? Why, you didn't even give me the kiss! Never
fret--so long."

Two doors near her opened curiously at the sound of a feminine
voice. A tentative cough sounded from above. Gathering her
skirts, Marcia dived wildly down the last flight, and was
swallowed up in the murky Connecticut air outside.

Up-stairs Horace paced the floor of his study. From time to time
he glanced toward Berkeley waiting there in suave dark-red
reputability, an open book lying suggestively on his cushions.
And then he found that his circuit of the floor was bringing him
each time nearer to Hume. There was something about Hume that was
strangely and inexpressibly different. The diaphanous form still
seemed hovering near, and had Horace sat there he would have
felt as if he were sitting on a lady's lap. And though Horace
couldn't have named the quality of difference, there was such a
quality--quite intangible to the speculative mind, but real,
nevertheless. Hume was radiating something that in all the two
hundred years of his influence he had never radiated before.

Hume was radiating attar of roses.



II


On Thursday night Horace Tarbox sat in an aisle seat in the fifth
row and witnessed "Home James." Oddly enough he found that he
was enjoying himself. The cynical students near him were annoyed
at his audible appreciation of time-honored jokes in the
Hammerstein tradition. But Horace was waiting with anxiety for
Marcia Meadow singing her song about a Jazz-bound Blundering
Blimp. When she did appear, radiant under a floppity flower-faced
hat, a warm glow settled over him, and when the song was over he
did not join in the storm of applause. He felt somewhat numb.

In the intermission after the second act an usher materialized
beside him, demanded to know if he were Mr. Tarbox, and then
handed him a note written in a round adolescent band. Horace read
it in some confusion, while the usher lingered with withering
patience in the aisle.

"Dear Omar: After the show I always grow an awful hunger. If you
want to satisfy it for me in the Taft Grill just communicate your
answer to the big-timber guide that brought this and oblige.
                        Your friend,
                                                 Marcia Meadow."

"Tell her,"--he coughed--"tell her that it will be quite all
right. I'll meet her in front of the theatre."

The big-timber guide smiled arrogantly.

"I giss she meant for you to come roun' t' the stage door."

"Where--where is it?"

"Ou'side. Tunayulef. Down ee alley."

"What?"

"Ou'side. Turn to y' left! Down ee alley!"

The arrogant person withdrew. A freshman behind Horace snickered.

Then half an hour later, sitting in the Taft Grill opposite the
hair that was yellow by natural pigment, the prodigy was saying
an odd thing.

"Do you have to do that dance in the last act?" he was asking
earnestly--"I mean, would they dismiss you if you refused to do it?"

Marcia grinned.

"It's fun to do it. I like to do it."

And then Horace came out with a FAUX PAS.

"I should think you'd detest it," he remarked succinctly. "The
people behind me were making remarks about your bosom."

Marcia blushed fiery red.

"I can't help that," she said quickly. "The dance to me is only
a sort of acrobatic stunt. Lord, it's hard enough to do! I rub
liniment into my shoulders for an hour every night."

"Do you have--fun while you're on the stage?"

"Uh-huh--sure! I got in the habit of having people look at me,
Omar, and I like it."

"Hm!" Horace sank into a brownish study.

"How's the Brazilian trimmings?"

"Hm!" repeated Horace, and then after a pause: "Where does the
play go from here?"

"New York."

"For how long?"

"All depends.  Winter--maybe."

"Oh!"

"Coming up to lay eyes on me, Omar, or aren't you int'rested?
Not as nice here, is it, as it was up in your room?  I wish we
was there now."

"I feel idiotic in this place," confessed Horace, looking round
him nervously.

"Too bad!  We got along pretty well."

At this he looked suddenly so melancholy that she changed her
tone, and reaching over patted his hand.

"Ever take an actress out to supper before?"

"No," said Horace miserably, "and I never will again. I don't
know why I came to-night. Here under all these lights and with
all these people laughing and chattering I feel completely out
of my sphere. I don't know what to talk to you about."

"We'll talk about me. We talked about you last time."

"Very well."

"Well, my name really is Meadow, but my first name isn't Marcia--
it's Veronica. I'm nineteen. Question--how did the girl make
her leap to the footlights? Answer--she was born in Passaic, New
Jersey, and up to a year ago she got the right to breathe by
pushing Nabiscoes in Marcel's tea-room in Trenton. She started
going with a guy named Robbins, a singer in the Trent House
cabaret, and he got her to try a song and dance with him one
evening. In a month we were filling the supper-room every night.
Then we went to New York with meet-my-friend letters thick as a
pile of napkins.

"In two days we landed a job at Divinerries', and I learned to
shimmy from a kid at the Palais Royal. We stayed at Divinerries'
six months until one night Peter Boyce Wendell, the columnist,
ate his milk-toast there. Next morning a poem about Marvellous
Marcia came out in his newspaper, and within two days I had
three vaudeville offers and a chance at the Midnight Frolic. I
wrote Wendell a thank-you letter, and he printed it in his
column--said that the style was like Carlyle's, only more
rugged and that I ought to quit dancing and do North American
literature. This got me a coupla more vaudeville offers and a
chance as an ingénue in a regular show. I took it--and here I
am, Omar."

When she finished they sat for a moment in silence she draping
the last skeins of a Welsh rabbit on her fork and waiting for
him to speak.

"Let's get out of here," he said suddenly.

Marcia's eyes hardened.

"What's the idea? Am I making you sick?"

"No, but I don't like it here. I don't like to be sitting here
with you."

Without another word Marcia signalled for the waiter.

"What's the check?" she demanded briskly "My part--the rabbit
and the ginger ale."

Horace watched blankly as the waiter figured it.

"See here," he began, "I intended to pay for yours too. You're
my guest."

With a half-sigh Marcia rose from the table and walked from the
room. Horace, his face a document in bewilderment, laid a bill
down and followed her out, up the stairs and into the lobby. He
overtook her in front of the elevator and they faced each other.

"See here," he repeated "You're my guest. Have I said something to
offend you?"

After an instant of wonder Marcia's eyes softened.

"You're a rude fella!" she said slowly. "Don't you know you're
rude?"

"I can't help it," said Horace with a directness she found quite
disarming. "You know I like you."

"You said you didn't like being with me."

"I didn't like it."

"Why not?" Fire blazed suddenly from the gray forests of his
eyes.

"Because I didn't. I've formed the habit of liking you. I've
been thinking of nothing much else for two days."

"Well, if you---"

"Wait a minute," he interrupted. "I've got something to say. It's
this: in six weeks I'll be eighteen years old. When I'm
eighteen years old I'm coming up to New York to see you. Is
there some place in New York where we can go and not have a lot
of people in the room?"

"Sure!" smiled Marcia. "You can come up to my 'partment. Sleep
on the couch if you want to."

"I can't sleep on couches," he said shortly. "But I want to talk
to you."

"Why, sure," repeated Marcia, "in my 'partment."

In his excitement Horace put his hands in his pockets.

"All right--just so I can see you alone. I want to talk to you
as we talked up in my room."

"Honey boy," cried Marcia, laughing, "is it that you want to kiss
me?"

"Yes," Horace almost shouted. "I'll kiss you if you want me to."

The elevator man was looking at them reproachfully. Marcia edged
toward the grated door.

"I'll drop you a post-card," she said.

Horace's eyes were quite wild.

"Send me a post-card! I'll come up any time after January first.
I'll be eighteen then."

And as she stepped into the elevator he coughed enigmatically,
yet with a vague challenge, at the calling, and walked quickly
away.



III


He was there again. She saw him when she took her first glance
at the restless Manhattan audience--down in the front row with
his head bent a bit forward and his gray eyes fixed on her. And
she knew that to him they were alone together in a world where
the high-rouged row of ballet faces and the massed whines of the
violins were as imperceivable as powder on a marble Venus. An
instinctive defiance rose within her.

"Silly boy!" she said to herself hurriedly, and she didn't take
her encore.

"What do they expect for a hundred a week--perpetual motion?"
she grumbled to herself in the wings.

"What's the trouble? Marcia?"

"Guy I don't like down in front."

During the last act as she waited for her specialty she had an
odd attack of stage fright. She had never sent Horace the
promised post-card. Last night she had pretended not to see him--
had hurried from the theatre immediately after her dance to
pass a sleepless night in her apartment, thinking--as she had
so often in the last month--of his pale, rather intent face, his
slim, boyish fore, the merciless, unworldly abstraction that
made him charming to her.

And now that he had come she felt vaguely sorry--as though an
unwonted responsibility was being forced on her.

"Infant prodigy!" she said aloud.

"What?" demanded the negro comedian standing beside her.

"Nothing--just talking about myself."

On the stage she felt better. This was her dance--and she
always felt that the way she did it wasn't suggestive any more
than to some men every pretty girl is suggestive. She made it
a stunt.

     "Uptown, downtown, jelly on a spoon,
      After sundown shiver by the moon."

He was not watching her now. She saw that clearly. He was looking
very deliberately at a castle on the back drop, wearing that
expression he had worn in the Taft Grill. A wave of exasperation
swept over her--he was criticising her.

     "That's the vibration that thrills me,
      Funny how affection fi-lls me
            Uptown, downtown---"

Unconquerable revulsion seized her. She was suddenly and horribly
conscious of her audience as she had never been since her first
appearance. Was that a leer on a pallid face in the front row, a
droop of disgust on one young girl's mouth? These shoulders of
hers--these shoulders shaking--were they hers? Were they real?
Surely shoulders weren't made for this!

     "Then--you'll see at a glance
      I'll need some funeral ushers with St. Vitus dance
      At the end of the world I'll---"

The bassoon and two cellos crashed into a final chord. She paused
and poised a moment on her toes with every muscle tense, her
young face looking out dully at the audience in what one young
girl afterward called "such a curious, puzzled look," and then
without bowing rushed from the stage. Into the dressing-room she
sped, kicked out of one dress and into another, and caught a taxi
outside.

Her apartment was very warm--small, it was, with a row of
professional pictures and sets of Kipling and O. Henry which she
had bought once from a blue-eyed agent and read occasionally. And
there were several chairs which matched, but were none of them
comfortable, and a pink-shaded lamp with blackbirds painted on it
and an atmosphere of other stifled pink throughout. There were
nice things in it--nice things unrelentingly hostile to each
other, offspring of a vicarious, impatient taste acting in stray
moments. The worst was typified by a great picture framed in oak
bark of Passaic as seen from the Erie Railroad--altogether a
frantic, oddly extravagant, oddly penurious attempt to make a
cheerful room. Marcia knew it was a failure.

Into this room came the prodigy and took her two hands awkwardly.

"I followed you this time," he said.

"Oh!"

"I want you to marry me," he said.

Her arms went out to him. She kissed his mouth with a sort of
passionate wholesomeness.

"There!"

"I love you," he said.

She kissed him again and then with a little sigh flung herself
into an armchair and half lay there, shaken with absurd laughter.

"Why, you infant prodigy!" she cried.

"Very well, call me that if you want to. I once told you that I
was ten thousand years older than you--I am."

She laughed again.

"I don't like to be disapproved of."

"No one's ever going to disapprove of you again."

"Omar," she asked, "why do you want to marry me?"

The prodigy rose and put his hands in his pockets.

"Because I love you, Marcia Meadow."

And then she stopped calling him Omar.

"Dear boy," she said, "you know I sort of love you. There's
something about you--I can't tell what--that just puts my heart
through the wringer every time I'm round you. But honey--" She
paused.

"But what?"

"But lots of things. But you're only just eighteen, and I'm
nearly twenty."

"Nonsense!" he interrupted. "Put it this way--that I'm in my
nineteenth year and you're nineteen. That makes us pretty
close--without counting that other ten thousand years I
mentioned."

Marcia laughed.

"But there are some more 'buts.' Your people---

"My people!" exclaimed the prodigy ferociously. "My people tried
to make a monstrosity out of me." His face grew quite crimson at
the enormity of what he was going to say. "My people can go way
back and sit down!"

"My heavens!" cried Marcia in alarm. "All that? On tacks, I
suppose."

"Tacks--yes," he agreed wildly--"on anything. The more I think of
how they allowed me to become a little dried-up mummy---"

"What makes you thank you're that?" asked Marcia quietly--"me?"

"Yes. Every person I've met on the streets since I met you has
made me jealous because they knew what love was before I did. I
used to call it the 'sex impulse.' Heavens!"

"There's more 'buts,'" said Marcia

"What are they?"

"How could we live?"

"I'll make a living."

"You're in college."

"Do you think I care anything about taking a Master of Arts
degree?"

"You want to be Master of Me, hey?"

"Yes! What? I mean, no!"

Marcia laughed, and crossing swiftly over sat in his lap. He put
his arm round her wildly and implanted the vestige of a kiss
somewhere near her neck.

"There's something white about you," mused Marcia "but it doesn't
sound very logical."

"Oh, don't be so darned reasonable!"

"I can't help it," said Marcia.

"I hate these slot-machine people!"

"But we---"

"Oh, shut up!"

And as Marcia couldn't talk through her ears she had to.



IV


Horace and Marcia were married early in February. The sensation
in academic circles both at Yale and Princeton was tremendous.
Horace Tarbox, who at fourteen had been played up in the Sunday
magazines sections of metropolitan newspapers, was throwing over
his career, his chance of being a world authority on American
philosophy, by marrying a chorus girl--they made Marcia a chorus
girl. But like all modern stories it was a four-and-a-half-day
wonder.

They took a flat in Harlem. After two weeks' search, during which
his idea of the value of academic knowledge faded unmercifully,
Horace took a position as clerk with a South American export
company--some one had told him that exporting was the coming
thing. Marcia was to stay in her show for a few months--anyway
until he got on his feet. He was getting a hundred and
twenty-five to start with, and though of course they told him it
was only a question of months until he would be earning double
that, Marcia refused even to consider giving up the hundred and
fifty a week that she was getting at the time.

"We'll call ourselves Head and Shoulders, dear," she said softly,
"and the shoulders'll have to keep shaking a little longer until
the old head gets started."

"I hate it," he objected gloomily.

"Well," she replied emphatically, "Your salary wouldn't keep us
in a tenement. Don't think I want to be public--I don't. I want
to be yours. But I'd be a half-wit to sit in one room and count
the sunflowers on the wall-paper while I waited for you. When you
pull down three hundred a month I'll quit."

And much as it hurt his pride, Horace had to admit that hers was
the wiser course.

March mellowed into April. May read a gorgeous riot act to the
parks and waters of Manhatten, and they were very happy. Horace,
who had no habits whatsoever--he had never had time to form
any--proved the most adaptable of husbands, and as Marcia
entirely lacked opinions on the subjects that engrossed him there
were very few jottings and bumping. Their minds moved in
different spheres. Marcia acted as practical factotum, and Horace
lived either in his old world of abstract ideas or in a sort of
triumphantly earthy worship and adoration of his wife. She was a
continual source of astonishment to him--the freshness and
originality of her mind, her dynamic, clear-headed energy, and
her unfailing good humor.

And Marcia's co-workers in the nine-o'clock show, whither she had
transferred her talents, were impressed with her tremendous
pride in her husband's mental powers. Horace they knew only as a
very slim, tight-lipped, and immature-looking young man, who
waited every night to take her home.

"Horace," said Marcia one evening when she met him as usual at
eleven, "you looked like a ghost standing there against the
street lights. You losing weight?"

He shook his head vaguely.

"I don't know. They raised me to a hundred and thirty-five
dollars to-day, and---"

"I don't care," said Marcia severely. "You're killing yourself
working at night. You read those big books on economy---"

"Economics," corrected Horace.

"Well, you read 'em every night long after I'm asleep. And you're
getting all stooped over like you were before we were married."

"But, Marcia, I've got to---"

"No, you haven't dear. I guess I'm running this shop for the
present, and I won't let my fella ruin his health and eyes. You
got to get some exercise."

"I do. Every morning I---"

"Oh, I know! But those dumb-bells of yours wouldn't give a
consumptive two degrees of fever. I mean real exercise. You've
got to join a gymnasium. 'Member you told me you were such a
trick gymnast once that they tried to get you out for the team in
college and they couldn't because you had a standing date with
Herb Spencer?"

"I used to enjoy it," mused Horace, "but it would take up too
much time now."

"All right," said Marcia. "I'll make a bargain with you. You join
a gym and I'll read one of those books from the brown row of
'em."

"'Pepys' Diary'? Why, that ought to be enjoyable. He's very
light."

"Not for me--he isn't. It'll be like digesting plate glass. But
you been telling me how much it'd broaden my lookout. Well, you
go to a gym three nights a week and I'll take one big dose of
Sammy."

Horace hesitated.

"Well---"

"Come on, now! You do some giant swings for me and I'll chase
some culture for you."

So Horace finally consented, and all through a baking summer he
spent three and sometimes four evenings a week experimenting on
the trapeze in Skipper's Gymnasium. And in August he admitted to
Marcia that it made him capable of more mental work during the
day.

"MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO," he said.

"Don't believe in it," replied Marcia. "I tried one of those
patent medicines once and they're all bunk. You stick to
gymnastics."

One night in early September while he was going through one of
his contortions on the rings in the nearly deserted room he was
addressed by a meditative fat man whom he had noticed watching
him for several nights.

"Say, lad, do that stunt you were doin' last night."

Horace grinned at him from his perch.

"I invented it," he said. "I got the idea from the fourth
proposition of Euclid."

"What circus he with?"

"He's dead."

"Well, he must of broke his neck doin' that stunt. I set here
last night thinkin' sure you was goin' to break yours."

"Like this!" said Horace, and swinging onto the trapeze he did
his stunt.

"Don't it kill your neck an' shoulder muscles?"

"It did at first, but inside of a week I wrote the QUOD ERAT
DEMONSTRANDUM on it."

"Hm!"

Horace swung idly on the trapeze.

"Ever think of takin' it up professionally?" asked the fat man.

"Not I."

"Good money in it if you're willin' to do stunts like 'at an' can
get away with it."

"Here's another," chirped Horace eagerly, and the fat man's mouth
dropped suddenly agape as he watched this pink-jerseyed
Prometheus again defy the gods and Isaac Newton.

The night following this encounter Horace got home from work to
find a rather pale Marcia stretched out on the sofa waiting for
him.

"I fainted twice to-day," she began without preliminaries.

"What?"

"Yep. You see baby's due in four months now. Doctor says I ought
to have quit dancing two weeks ago."

Horace sat down and thought it over.

"I'm glad of course," he said pensively--"I mean glad that we're
going to have a baby. But this means a lot of expense."

"I've got two hundred and fifty in the bank," said Marcia
hopefully, "and two weeks' pay coming."

Horace computed quickly.

"Inducing my salary, that'll give us nearly fourteen hundred for
the next six months."

Marcia looked blue.

"That all? Course I can get a job singing somewhere this month.
And I can go to work again in March."

"Of course nothing!" said Horace gruffly. "You'll stay right
here. Let's see now--there'll be doctor's bills and a nurse,
besides the maid: We've got to have some more money."

"Well," said Marcia wearily, "I don't know where it's coming
from. It's up to the old head now. Shoulders is out of business."

Horace rose and pulled on his coat.

"Where are you going?"

"I've got an idea," he answered. "I'll be right back."

Ten minutes later as he headed down the street toward Skipper's
Gymnasium he felt a placid wonder, quite unmixed with humor, at
what he was going to do. How he would have gaped at himself a
year before! How every one would have gaped! But when you opened
your door at the rap of life you let in many things.

The gymnasium was brightly lit, and when his eyes became
accustomed to the glare he found the meditative fat man seated on
a pile of canvas mats smoking a big cigar.

"Say," began Horace directly, "were you in earnest last night
when you said I could make money on my trapeze stunts?"

"Why, yes," said the fat man in surprise.

"Well, I've been thinking it over, and I believe I'd like to try
it. I could work at night and on Saturday afternoons--and
regularly if the pay is high enough."

The fat men looked at his watch.

"Well," he said, "Charlie Paulson's the man to see. He'll book
you inside of four days, once he sees you work out. He won't be
in now, but I'll get hold of him for to-morrow night."

The fat man was as good as his word. Charlie Paulson arrived next
night and put in a wondrous hour watching the prodigy swap
through the air in amazing parabolas, and on the night following
he brought two age men with him who looked as though they had
been born smoking black cigars and talking about money in low,
passionate voices. Then on the succeeding Saturday Horace
Tarbox's torso made its first professional appearance in a
gymnastic exhibition at the Coleman Street Gardens. But though
the audience numbered nearly five thousand people, Horace felt no
nervousness. From his childhood he had read papers to
audiences--learned that trick of detaching himself.

"Marcia," he said cheerfully later that same night, "I think
we're out of the woods. Paulson thinks he can get me an opening
at the Hippodrome, and that means an all-winter engagement. The
Hippodrome you know, is a big---"

"Yes, I believe I've heard of it," interrupted Marcia, "but I
want to know about this stunt you're doing. It isn't any
spectacular suicide, is it?"

"It's nothing," said Horace quietly. "But if you can think of an
nicer way of a man killing himself than taking a risk for you,
why that's the way I want to die."

Marcia reached up and wound both arms tightly round his neck.

"Kiss me," she whispered, "and call me 'dear heart.' I love to
hear you say 'dear heart.' And bring me a book to read to-morrow.
No more Sam Pepys, but something trick and trashy. I've been
wild for something to do all day. I felt like writing letters,
but I didn't have anybody to write to."

"Write to me," said Horace. "I'll read them."

"I wish I could," breathed Marcia. "If I knew words enough I
could write you the longest love-letter in the world--and never
get tired."

But after two more months Marcia grew very tired indeed, and for
a row of nights it was a very anxious, weary-looking young
athlete who walked out before the Hippodrome crowd. Then there
were two days when his place was taken by a young man who wore
pale blue instead of white, and got very little applause. But
after the two days Horace appeared again, and those who sat close
to the stage remarked an expression of beatific happiness on
that young acrobat's face even when he was twisting breathlessly
in the air an the middle of his amazing and original shoulder
swing. After that performance he laughed at the elevator man and
dashed up the stairs to the flat five steps at a time--and then
tiptoed very carefully into a quiet room.

"Marcia," he whispered.

"Hello!" She smiled up at him wanly. "Horace, there's something I
want you to do. Look in my top bureau drawer and you'll find a
big stack of paper. It's a book--sort of--Horace. I wrote it down
in these last three months while I've been laid up. I wish you'd
take it to that Peter Boyce Wendell who put my letter in his
paper.  He could tell you whether it'd be a good book. I wrote it
just the way I talk, just the way I wrote that letter to him.
It's just a story about a lot of things that happened to me. Will
you take it to him, Horace?"

"Yes, darling."

He leaned over the bed until his head was beside her on the
pillow, and began stroking back her yellow hair.

"Dearest Marcia," he said softly.

"No," she murmured, "call me what I told you to call me."

"Dear heart," he whispered passionately--"dearest heart."

"What'll we call her?"

They rested a minute in happy, drowsy content, while Horace
considered.

"We'll call her Marcia Hume Tarbox," he said at length.

"Why the Hume?"

"Because he's the fellow who first introduced us."

"That so?" she murmured, sleepily surprised. "I thought his name
was Moon."

Her eyes dosed, and after a moment the slow lengthening surge of
the bedclothes over her breast showed that she was asleep.

Horace tiptoed over to the bureau and opening the top drawer
found a heap of closely scrawled, lead-smeared pages. He looked
at the first sheet:

                    SANDRA PEPYS, SYNCOPATED
                        BY MARCIA TARBOX

He smiled. So Samuel Pepys had made an impression on her after
all. He turned a page and began to read. His smile deepened--he
read on. Half an hour passed and he became aware that Marcia had
waked and was watching him from the bed.

"Honey," came in a whisper.

"What Marcia?"

"Do you like it?"

Horace coughed.

"I seem to be reading on. It's bright."

"Take it to Peter Boyce Wendell. Tell him you got the highest
marks in Princeton once and that you ought to know when a book's
good. Tell him this one's a world beater."

"All right, Marcia," Horace said gently.

Her eyes closed again and Horace crossing over kissed her
forehead--stood there for a moment with a look of tender pity.
Then he left the room.

All that night the sprawly writing on the pages, the constant
mistakes in spelling and grammar, and the weird punctuation
danced before his eyes. He woke several times in the night, each
time full of a welling chaotic sympathy for this desire of
Marcia's soul to express itself in words. To him there was
something infinitely pathetic about it, and for the first time in
months he began to turn over in his mind his own half-forgotten
dreams.

He had meant to write a series of books, to popularize the new
realism as Schopenhauer had popularized pessimism and William
James pragmatism.

But life hadn't come that way. Life took hold of people and
forced them into flying rings. He laughed to think of that rap at
his door, the diaphanous shadow in Hume, Marcia's threatened
kiss.

"And it's still me," he said aloud in wonder as he lay awake in
the darkness. "I'm the man who sat in Berkeley with temerity to
wonder if that rap would have had actual existence had my ear not
been there to hear it. I'm still that man. I could be
electrocuted for the crimes he committed.

"Poor gauzy souls trying to express ourselves in something
tangible. Marcia with her written book; I with my unwritten ones.
Trying to choose our mediums and then taking what we get--and
being glad."



V


"Sandra Pepys, Syncopated," with an introduction by Peter Boyce
Wendell the columnist, appeared serially in JORDAN'S MAGAZINE,
and came out in book form in March. From its first published
instalment it attracted attention far and wide. A trite enough
subject--a girl from a small New Jersey town coming to New York
to go on the stage--treated simply, with a peculiar vividness of
phrasing and a haunting undertone of sadness in the very
inadequacy of its vocabulary, it made an irresistible appeal.

Peter Boyce Wendell, who happened at that time to be advocating
the enrichment of the American language by the immediate adoption
of expressive vernacular words, stood as its sponsor and
thundered his indorsement over the placid bromides of the
conventional reviewers.

Marcia received three hundred dollars an instalment for the
serial publication, which came at an opportune time, for though
Horace's monthly salary at the Hippodrome was now more than
Marcia's had ever been, young Marcia was emitting shrill cries
which they interpreted as a demand for country air. So early April
found them installed in a bungalow in Westchester County, with a
place for a lawn, a place for a garage, and a place for
everything, including a sound-proof impregnable study, in which
Marcia faithfully promised Mr. Jordan she would shut herself up
when her daughter's demands began to be abated, and compose
immortally illiterate literature.

"It's not half bad," thought Horace one night as he was on his
way from the station to his house. He was considering several
prospects that had opened up, a four months' vaudeville offer in
five figures, a chance to go back to Princeton in charge of all
gymnasium work. Odd! He had once intended to go back there in
charge of all philosophic work, and now he had not even been
stirred by the arrival in New York of Anton Laurier, his old
idol.

The gravel crunched raucously under his heel. He saw the lights
of his sitting-room gleaming and noticed a big car standing in
the drive. Probably Mr. Jordan again, come to persuade Marcia to
settle down' to work.

She had heard the sound of his approach and her form was
silhouetted against the lighted door as she came out to meet him.
"There's some Frenchman here," she whispered nervously. "I
can't pronounce his name, but he sounds awful deep. You'll have
to jaw with him."

"What Frenchman?"

"You can't prove it by me. He drove up an hour ago with Mr.
Jordan, and said he wanted to meet Sandra Pepys, and all that sort
of thing."

Two men rose from chairs as they went inside.

"Hello Tarbox," said Jordan. "I've just been bringing together
two celebrities. I've brought M'sieur Laurier out with me.
M'sieur Laurier, let me present Mr. Tarbox, Mrs. Tarbox's
husband."

"Not Anton Laurier!" exclaimed Horace.

"But, yes. I must come. I have to come. I have read the book of
Madame, and I have been charmed"--he fumbled in his pocket--"ah
I have read of you too. In this newspaper which I read to-day it
has your name."

He finally produced a clipping from a magazine.

"Read it!" he said eagerly. "It has about you too."

Horace's eye skipped down the page.

"A distinct contribution to American dialect literature," it
said. "No attempt at literary tone; the book derives its very
quality from this fact, as did 'Huckleberry Finn.'"

Horace's eyes caught a passage lower down; he became suddenly
aghast--read on hurriedly:

"Marcia Tarbox's connection with the stage is not only as a
spectator but as the wife of a performer. She was married last
year to Horace Tarbox, who every evening delights the children at
the Hippodrome with his wondrous flying performance. It is said
that the young couple have dubbed themselves Head and Shoulders,
referring doubtless to the fact that Mrs. Tarbox supplies the
literary and mental qualities, while the supple and agile
shoulder of her husband contribute their share to the family
fortunes.

"Mrs. Tarbox seems to merit that much-abused title--'prodigy.'
Only twenty---"

Horace stopped reading, and with a very odd expression in his
eyes gazed intently at Anton Laurier.

"I want to advise you--" he began hoarsely.

"What?"

"About raps. Don't answer them! Let them alone--have a padded
door."



The Cut-Glass Bowl



There was a rough stone age and a smooth stone age and a bronze
age, and many years afterward a cut-glass age. In the cut-glass
age, when young ladies had persuaded young men with long, curly
mustaches to marry them, they sat down several months afterward
and wrote thank-you notes for all sorts of cut-glass
presents--punch-bowls, finger-bowls, dinner-glasses,
wine-glasses, ice-cream dishes, bonbon dishes, decanters, and
vases--for, though cut glass was nothing new in the nineties, it
was then especially busy reflecting the dazzling light of fashion
from the Back Bay to the fastnesses of the Middle West.

After the wedding the punch-bowls were arranged in the sideboard
with the big bowl in the centre; the glasses were set up in the
china-closet; the candlesticks were put at both ends of
things--and then the struggle for existence began. The bonbon
dish lost its little handle and became a pin-tray upstairs; a
promenading cat knocked the little bowl off the sideboard, and
the hired girl chipped the middle-sized one with the sugar-dish;
then the wine-glasses succumbed to leg fractures, and even the
dinner-glasses disappeared one by one like the ten little
niggers, the last one ending up, scarred and maimed as a
tooth-brush holder among other shabby genteels on the bathroom
shelf. But by the time all this had happened the cut-glass age
was over, anyway.

It was well past its first glory on the day the curious Mrs.
Roger Fairboalt came to see the beautiful Mrs. Harold Piper.

"My dear," said the curious Mrs. Roger Fairboalt, "I LOVE your
house. I think it's QUITE artistic."

"I'm SO glad," said the beautiful Mrs. Harold Piper, lights
appearing in her young, dark eyes; "and you MUST come often. I'm
almost ALWAYS alone in the afternoon."

Mrs. Fairboalt would have liked to remark that she didn't believe
this at all and couldn't see how she'd be expected to--it was
all over town that Mr. Freddy Gedney had been dropping in on Mrs.
Piper five afternoons a week for the past six months. Mrs.
Fairboalt was at that ripe age where she distrusted all beautiful
women---

"I love the dining-room MOST," she said, "all that MARVELLOUS
china, and that HUGE cut-glass bowl."

Mrs. Piper laughed, so prettily that Mrs. Fairboalt's lingering
reservations about the Freddy Gedney story quite vanished.

"Oh, that big bowl!" Mrs. Piper's mouth forming the words was a
vivid rose petal. "There's a story about that bowl---"

"Oh---"

"You remember young Carleton Canby? Well, he was very attentive
at one time, and the night I told him I was going to marry
Harold, seven years ago in ninety-two, he drew himself way up and
said: 'Evylyn, I'm going to give a present that's as hard as you
are and as beautiful and as empty and as easy to see through.'
He frightened me a little--his eyes were so black. I thought he
was going to deed me a haunted house or something that would
explode when you opened it. That bowl came, and of course it's
beautiful. Its diameter or circumference or something is two and
a half feet--or perhaps it's three and a half. Anyway, the
sideboard is really too small for it; it sticks way out."

"My DEAR, wasn't that ODD! And he left town about then didn't
he?" Mrs. Fairboalt was scribbling italicized notes on her
memory--"hard, beautiful, empty, and easy to see through."

"Yes, he went West--or South--or somewhere," answered Mrs. Piper,
radiating that divine vagueness that helps to lift beauty out of
time.

Mrs. Fairboalt drew on her gloves, approving the effect of
largeness given by the open sweep from the spacious music-room
through the library, disclosing a part of the dining-room beyond.
It was really the nicest smaller house in town, and Mrs. Piper
had talked of moving to a larger one on Devereaux Avenue. Harold
Piper must be COINING money.

As she turned into the sidewalk under the gathering autumn dusk
she assumed that disapproving, faintly unpleasant expression that
almost all successful women of forty wear on the street.

If _I_ were Harold Piper, she thought, I'd spend a LITTLE less
time on business and a little more time at home. Some FRIEND
should speak to him.

But if Mrs. Fairboalt had considered it a successful afternoon
she would have named it a triumph had she waited two minutes
longer. For while she was still a black receding figure a hundred
yards down the street, a very good-looking distraught young man
turned up the walk to the Piper house. Mrs. Piper answered the
door-bell herself, and with a rather dismayed expression led him
quickly into the library.

"I had to see you," he began wildly; "your note played the devil
with me. Did Harold frighten you into this?"

She shook her head.

"I'm through, Fred," she said slowly, and her lips had never
looked to him so much like tearings from a rose. "He came home
last night sick with it. Jessie Piper's sense of duty was to much
for her, so she went down to his office and told him. He was hurt
and--oh, I can't help seeing it his way, Fred. He says we've been
club gossip all summer and he didn't know it, and now he
understands snatches of conversation he's caught and veiled hints
people have dropped about me. He's mighty angry, Fred, and he
loves me and I love him--rather."

Gedney nodded slowly and half closed his eyes.

"Yes," he said "yes, my trouble's like yours. I can see other
people's points of view too plainly." His gray eyes met her dark
ones frankly. "The blessed thing's over. My God, Evylyn, I've
been sitting down at the office all day looking at the outside of
your letter, and looking at it and looking at it---"

"You've got to go, Fred," she said steadily, and the slight
emphasis of hurry in her voice was a new thrust for him. "I gave
him my word of honor I wouldn't see you. I know just how far I
can go with Harold, and being here with you this evening is one
of the things I can't do."

They were still standing, and as she spoke she made a little
movement toward the door. Gedney looked at her miserably, trying,
here at the end, to treasure up a last picture of her--and then
suddenly both of them were stiffened into marble at the sound of
steps on the walk outside. Instantly her arm reached out grasping
the lapel of his coat--half urged, half swung him through the
big door into the dark dining-room.

"I'll make him go up-stairs," she whispered close to his ear;
"don't move till you hear him on the stairs. Then go out the
front way."

Then he was alone listening as she greeted her husband in the
hall.

Harold Piper was thirty-six, nine years older than his wife. He
was handsome--with marginal notes: these being eyes that were too
close together, and a certain woodenness when his face was in
repose. His attitude toward this Gedney matter was typical of all
his attitudes. He had told Evylyn that he considered the subject
closed and would never reproach her nor allude to it in any
form; and he told himself that this was rather a big way of
looking at it--that she was not a little impressed. Yet, like all
men who are preoccupied with their own broadness, he was
exceptionally narrow.

He greeted Evylyn with emphasized cordiality this evening.

"You'll have to hurry and dress, Harold," she said eagerly;
"we're going to the Bronsons'."

He nodded.

"It doesn't take me long to dress, dear," and, his words trailing
off, he walked on into the library. Evylyn's heart clattered
loudly.

"Harold---" she began, with a little catch in her voice, and
followed him in. He was lighting a cigarette. "You'll have to
hurry, Harold," she finished, standing in the doorway.

"Why?" he asked a trifle impatiently; "you're not dressed
yourself yet, Evie."

He stretched out in a Morris chair and unfolded a newspaper. With
a sinking sensation Evylyn saw that this meant at least ten
minutes--and Gedney was standing breathless in the next room.
Supposing Harold decided that before he went upstairs he wanted a
drink from the decanter on the sideboard. Then it occurred to
her to forestall this contingency by bringing him the decanter
and a glass. She dreaded calling his attention to the dining-room
in any way, but she couldn't risk the other chance.

But at the same moment Harold rose and, throwing his paper down,
came toward her.

"Evie, dear," he said, bending and putting his arms about her, "I
hope you're not thinking about last night---" She moved close to
him, trembling. "I know," he continued, "it was just an
imprudent friendship on your part. We all make mistakes."

Evylyn hardly heard him. She was wondering if by sheer clinging
to him she could draw him out and up the stairs. She thought of
playing sick, asking to be carried up--unfortunately she knew he
would lay her on the couch and bring her whiskey.

Suddenly her nervous tension moved up a last impossible notch.
She had heard a very faint but quite unmistakable creak from the
floor of the dining room. Fred was trying to get out the back
way.

Then her heart took a flying leap as a hollow ringing note like a
gong echoed and re-echoed through the house. Gedney's arm had
struck the big cut-glass bowl.

"What's that!" cried Harold. "Who's there?"

She clung to him but he broke away, and the room seemed to crash
about her ears. She heard the pantry-door swing open, a scuffle,
the rattle of a tin pan, and in wild despair she rushed into the
kitchen and pulled up the gas. Her husband's arm slowly unwound
from Gedney's neck, and he stood there very still, first in
amazement, then with pain dawning in his face.

"My golly!" he said in bewilderment, and then repeated: "My
GOLLY!"

He turned as if to jump again at Gedney, stopped, his muscles
visibly relaxed, and he gave a bitter little laugh.

"You people--you people---" Evylyn's arms were around him and her
eyes were pleading with him frantically, but he pushed her away
and sank dazed into a kitchen chair, his face like porcelain.
"You've been doing things to me, Evylyn. Why, you little devil!
You little DEVIL!"

She had never felt so sorry for him; she had never loved him so
much.

"It wasn't her fault," said Gedney rather humbly. "I just came."
But Piper shook his head, and his expression when he stared up
was as if some physical accident had jarred his mind into a
temporary inability to function. His eyes, grown suddenly
pitiful, struck a deep, unsounded chord in Evylyn--and
simultaneously a furious anger surged in her. She felt her
eyelids burning; she stamped her foot violently; her hands
scurried nervously over the table as if searching for a weapon,
and then she flung herself wildly at Gedney.

"Get out!" she screamed, dark eves blazing, little fists beating
helplessly on his outstretched arm. "You did this! Get out of
here--get out--get OUT! GET OUT!"



II


Concerning Mrs. Harold Piper at thirty-five, opinion was
divided--women said she was still handsome; men said she was
pretty no longer. And this was probably because the qualities in
her beauty that women had feared and men had followed had
vanished. Her eyes were still as large and as dark and as sad,
but the mystery had departed; their sadness was no longer
eternal, only human, and she had developed a habit, when she was
startled or annoyed, of twitching her brows together and blinking
several times. Her mouth also had lost: the red had receded and
the faint down-turning of its corners when she smiled, that had
added to the sadness of the eyes and been vaguely mocking and
beautiful, was quite gone. When she smiled now the corners of her
lips turned up. Back in the days when she revelled in her own
beauty Evylyn had enjoyed that smile of hers--she had accentuated
it. When she stopped accentuating it, it faded out and the last
of her mystery with it.

Evylyn had ceased accentuating her smile within a month after the
Freddy Gedney affair. Externally things had gone an very much as
they had before. But in those few minutes during which she had
discovered how much she loved her husband, Evylyn had realized how
indelibly she had hurt him. For a month she struggled against
aching silences, wild reproaches and accusations--she pled with
him, made quiet, pitiful little love to him, and he laughed at
her bitterly--and then she, too, slipped gradually into silence
and a shadowy, impenetrable barrier dropped between them. The
surge of love that had risen in her she lavished on Donald, her
little boy, realizing him almost wonderingly as a part of her
life.

The next year a piling up of mutual interests and
responsibilities and some stray flicker from the past brought
husband and wife together again--but after a rather pathetic
flood of passion Evylyn realized that her great opportunity was
gone. There simply wasn't anything left. She might have been
youth and love for both--but that time of silence had slowly
dried up the springs of affection and her own desire to drink
again of them was dead.

She began for the first time to seek women friends, to prefer
books she had read before, to sew a little where she could watch
her two children to whom she was devoted. She worried about
little things--if she saw crumbs on the dinner-table her mind
drifted off the conversation: she was receding gradually into
middle age.

Her thirty-fifth birthday had been an exceptionally busy one, for
they were entertaining on short notice that night, as she stood
in her bedroom window in the late afternoon she discovered that
she was quite tired. Ten years before she would have lain down
and slept, but now she had a feeling that things needed watching:
maids were cleaning down-stairs, bric-à-brac was all over the
floor, and there were sure to be grocery-men that had to be
talked to imperatively--and then there was a letter to write
Donald, who was fourteen and in his first year away at school.

She had nearly decided to lie down, nevertheless, when she heard
a sudden familiar signal from little Julie down-stairs. She
compressed her lips, her brows twitched together, and she
blinked.

"Julie!" she called.

"Ah-h-h-ow!" prolonged Julie plaintively. Then the voice of
Hilda, the second maid, floated up the stairs.

"She cut herself a little, Mis' Piper."

Evylyn flew to her sewing-basket, rummaged until she found a torn
handkerchief, and hurried downstairs. In a moment Julie was
crying in her arms as she searched for the cut, faint,
disparaging evidences of which appeared on Julie's dress.

"My THU-umb!" explained Julie. "Oh-h-h-h, t'urts."

"It was the bowl here, the he one," said Hilda apologetically.
"It was waitin' on the floor while I polished the sideboard, and
Julie come along an' went to foolin' with it. She yust scratch
herself."

Evylyn frowned heavily at Hilda, and twisting Julie decisively in
her lap, began tearing strips of the handkerchief.

"Now--let's see it, dear."

Julie held it up and Evelyn pounced.

"There!"

Julie surveyed her swathed thumb doubtfully. She crooked it; it
waggled. A pleased, interested look appeared in her tear-stained
face. She sniffled and waggled it again.

"You PRECIOUS!" cried Evylyn and kissed her, but before she left
the room she levelled another frown at Hilda. Careless! Servants
all that way nowadays. If she could get a good Irishwoman--but
you couldn't any more--and these Swedes---

At five o'clock Harold arrived and, coming up to her room,
threatened in a suspiciously jovial tone to kiss her thirty-five
times for her birthday. Evylyn resisted.

"You've been drinking," she said shortly, and then added
qualitatively, "a little. You know I loathe the smell of it."

"Evie," he said after a pause, seating himself in a chair by the
window, "I can tell you something now. I guess you've known
things haven't beep going quite right down-town."

She was standing at the window combing her hair, but at these
words she turned and looked at him.

"How do you mean? You've always said there was room for more than
one wholesale hardware house in town." Her voice expressed some
alarm.

"There WAS," said Harold significantly, "but this Clarence Ahearn
is a smart man."

"I was surprised when you said he was coming to dinner."

"Evie," he went on, with another slap at his knee, "after January
first 'The Clarence Ahearn Company' becomes 'The Ahearn, Piper
Company'--and 'Piper Brothers' as a company ceases to
exist."

Evylyn was startled. The sound of his name in second place was
somehow hostile to her; still he appeared jubilant.

"I don't understand, Harold."

"Well, Evie, Ahearn has been fooling around with Marx. If those
two had combined we'd have been the little fellow, struggling
along, picking up smaller orders, hanging back on risks. It's a
question of capital, Evie, and 'Ahearn and Marx' would have had
the business just like 'Ahearn and Piper' is going to now." He
paused and coughed and a little cloud of whiskey floated up to
her nostrils. "Tell you the truth, Evie, I've suspected that
Ahearn's wife had something to do with it. Ambitious little lady,
I'm told. Guess she knew the Marxes couldn't help her much
here."

"Is she--common?" asked Evie.

"Never met her, I'm sure--but I don't doubt it. Clarence Ahearn's
name's been up at the Country Club five months--no action
taken." He waved his hand disparagingly. "Ahearn and I had lunch
together to-day and just about clinched it, so I thought it'd be
nice to have him and his wife up to-night--just have nine, mostly
family. After all, it's a big thing for me, and of course we'll
have to see something of them, Evie."

"Yes," said Evie thoughtfully, "I suppose we will."

Evylyn was not disturbed over the social end of it--but the idea
of "Piper Brothers" becoming "The Ahearn, Piper Company" startled
her. It seemed like going down in the world.

Half an hour later, as she began to dress for dinner, she heard
his voice from down-stairs.

"Oh, Evie, come down!"

She went out into the hall and called over the banister:

"What is it?"

"I want you to help me make some of that punch before dinner."

Hurriedly rehooking her dress, she descended the stairs and found
him grouping the essentials on the dining-room table. She went
to the sideboard and, lifting one of the bowls, carried it
over.

"Oh, no," he protested, "let's use the big one. There'll be
Ahearn and his wife and you and I and Milton, that's five, and
Tom and Jessie, that's seven: and your sister and Joe Ambler,
that's nine. You don't know how quick that stuff goes when YOU
make it."

"We'll use this bowl," she insisted. "It'll hold plenty. You know
how Tom is."

Tom Lowrie, husband to Jessie, Harold's first cousin, was rather
inclined to finish anything in a liquid way that he began.

Harold shook his head.

"Don't be foolish. That one holds only about three quarts and
there's nine of us, and the servants'll want some--and it isn't
strong punch. It's  so much more cheerful to have a lot, Evie; we
don't have to drink all of it."

"I say the small one."

Again he shook his head obstinately.

"No; be reasonable."

"I AM reasonable," she said shortly. "I don't want any drunken
men in the house."

"Who said you did?"

"Then use the small bowl."

"Now, Evie---"

He grasped the smaller bowl to lift it back. Instantly her hands
were on it, holding it down. There was a momentary struggle, and
then, with a little exasperated grunt, he raised his side,
slipped it from her fingers, and carried it to the sideboard.

She looked at him and tried to make her expression contemptuous,
but he only laughed. Acknowledging her defeat but disclaiming all
future interest in the punch, she left the room.



III


At seven-thirty, her cheeks glowing and her high-piled hair
gleaming with a suspicion of brilliantine, Evylyn descended the
stairs. Mrs. Ahearn, a little woman concealing a slight
nervousness under red hair and an extreme Empire gown, greeted
her volubly. Evelyn disliked her on the spot, but the husband she
rather approved of. He had keen blue eyes and a natural gift of
pleasing people that might have made him, socially, had he not so
obviously committed the blunder of marrying too early in his
career.

"I'm glad to know Piper's wife," he said simply. "It looks as
though your husband and I are going to see a lot of each other in
the future."

She bowed, smiled graciously, and turned to greet the others:
Milton Piper, Harold's quiet, unassertive younger brother; the
two Lowries, Jessie and Tom; Irene, her own unmarried sister; and
finally Joe Ambler, a confirmed bachelor and Irene's perennial
beau.

Harold led the way into dinner.

"We're having a punch evening," he announced jovially--Evylyn saw
that he had already sampled his concoction--"so there won't be
any cocktails except the punch. It's m' wife's greatest
achievement, Mrs. Ahearn; she'll give you the recipe if you want
it; but owing to a slight"--he caught his wife's eye and paused
--"to a slight indisposition; I'm responsible for this batch.
Here's how!"

All through dinner there was punch, and Evylyn, noticing that
Ahearn and Milton Piper and all the women were shaking their
heads negatively at the maid, knew she had been right about the
bowl; it was still half full. She resolved to caution Harold
directly afterward, but when the women left the table Mrs. Ahearn
cornered her, and she found herself talking cities and
dressmakers with a polite show of interest.

"We've moved around a lot," chattered Mrs. Ahearn, her red head
nodding violently. "Oh, yes, we've never stayed so long in a town
before--but I do hope we're here for good. I like it here; don't
you?"

"Well, you see, I've always lived here, so, naturally---"

"Oh, that's true," said Mrs. Ahearn and laughed. Clarence always
used to tell me he had to have a wife he could come home to and
say: "Well, we're going to Chicago to-morrow to live, so pack
up."

"I got so I never expected to live ANYwhere." She laughed her
little laugh again; Evylyn suspected that it was her society
laugh.

"Your husband is a very able man, I imagine."

"Oh, yes," Mrs. Ahearn assured her eagerly. "He's brainy,
Clarence is. Ideas and enthusiasm, you know. Finds out what he
wants and then goes and gets it."

Evylyn nodded. She was wondering if the men were still drinking
punch back in the dining-room. Mrs. Ahearn's history kept
unfolding jerkily, but Evylyn had ceased to listen. The first
odor of massed cigars began to drift in. It wasn't really a large
house, she reflected; on an evening like this the library
sometimes grew blue with smoke, and next day one had to leave the
windows open for hours to air the heavy staleness out of the
curtains. Perhaps this partnership might . . . she began to
speculate on a new house . . .

Mrs. Ahearn's voice drifted in on her:

"I really would like the recipe if you have it written down
somewhere---"

Then there was a sound of chairs in the dining-room and the men
strolled in. Evylyn saw at once that her worst fears were
realized. Harold's face was flushed and his words ran together at
the ends of sentences, while Tom Lowrie lurched when he walked
and narrowly missed Irene's lap when he tried to sink onto the
couch beside her. He sat there blinking dazedly at the company.
Evylyn found herself blinking back at him, but she saw no humor in
it. Joe Ambler was smiling contentedly and purring on his cigar.
Only Ahearn and Milton Piper seemed unaffected.

"It's a pretty fine town, Ahearn," said Ambler, "you'll find
that."

"I've found it so," said Ahearn pleasantly.

"You find it more, Ahearn," said Harold, nodding emphatically "'f
I've an'thin' do 'th it."

He soared into a eulogy of the city, and Evylyn wondered
uncomfortably if it bored every one as it bored her. Apparently
not. They were all listening attentively. Evylyn broke in at the
first gap.

"Where've you been living, Mr. Ahearn?" she asked interestedly.
Then she remembered that Mrs. Ahearn had told her, but it didn't
matter. Harold mustn't talk so much. He was such an ASS when he'd
been drinking. But he plopped directly back in.

"Tell you, Ahearn. Firs' you wanna get a house up here on the
hill. Get Stearne house or Ridgeway house. Wanna have it so
people say: 'There's Ahearn house.' Solid, you know, tha's effec'
it gives."

Evylyn flushed. This didn't sound right at all. Still Ahearn
didn't seem to notice anything amiss, only nodded gravely.

"Have you been looking---" But her words trailed off unheard as
Harold's voice boomed on.

"Get house--tha's start. Then you get know people. Snobbish town
first toward outsider, but not long--after know you. People like
you"--he indicated Ahearn and his wife with a sweeping
gesture--"all right. Cordial as an'thin' once get by first
barrer-bar-barrer--" He swallowed, and then said "barrier,"
repeated it masterfully.

Evylyn looked appealingly at her brother-in-law, but before he
could intercede a thick mumble had come crowding out of Tom
Lowrie, hindered by the dead cigar which he gripped firmly with
his teeth.

"Huma uma ho huma ahdy um---"

"What?" demanded Harold earnestly.

Resignedly and with difficulty Tom removed the cigar--that is, he
removed part of it, and then blew the remainder with a WHUT
sound across the room, where it landed liquidly and limply in
Mrs. Ahearn's lap.

"Beg pardon," he mumbled, and rose with the vague intention of
going after it. Milton's hand on his coat collapsed him in time,
and Mrs. Ahearn not ungracefully flounced the tobacco from her
skirt to the floor, never once looking at it.

"I was sayin'," continued Tom thickly, "'fore 'at happened,"--he
waved his hand apologetically toward Mrs. Ahearn--"I was sayin' I
heard all truth that Country Club matter."

Milton leaned and whispered something to him.

"Lemme 'lone," he said petulantly; "know what I'm doin'.  'Ats
what they came for."

Evylyn sat there in a panic, trying to make her mouth form words.
She saw her sister's sardonic expression and Mrs. Ahearn's face
turning a vivid red. Ahearn was looking down at his watch-chain,
fingering it.

"I heard who's been keepin' y' out, an' he's not a bit better'n
you. I can fix whole damn thing up. Would've before, but I didn't
know you. Harol' tol' me you felt bad about the thing---"

Milton Piper rose suddenly and awkwardly to his feet. In a second
every one was standing tensely and Milton was saying something
very hurriedly about having to go early, and the Ahearns were
listening with eager intentness. Then Mrs. Ahearn swallowed and
turned with a forced smile toward Jessie. Evylyn saw Tom lurch
forward and put his hand on Ahearns shoulder--and suddenly she
was listening to a new, anxious voice at her elbow, and, turning,
found Hilda, the second maid.

"Please, Mis' Piper, I tank Yulie got her hand poisoned. It's all
swole up and her cheeks is hot and she's moanin' an'
groanin'---"

"Julie is?" Evylyn asked sharply. The party suddenly receded. She
turned quickly, sought with her eyes for Mrs. Ahearn, slipped
toward her.

"If you'll excuse me, Mrs.--" She had momentarily forgotten the
name, but she went right on:  "My little girl's been taken sick.
I'll be down when I can." She turned and ran quickly up the
stairs, retaining a confused picture of rays of cigar smoke and a
loud discussion in the centre of the room that seemed to be
developing into an argument.

Switching on the light in the nursery, she found Julie tossing
feverishly and giving out odd little cries. She put her hand
against the cheeks. They were burning. With an exclamation she
followed the arm down under the cover until she found the hand.
Hilda was right. The whole thumb was swollen to the wrist and in
the centre was a little inflamed sore. Blood-poisoning! her mind
cried in terror. The bandage had come off the cut and she'd
gotten something in it. She'd cut it at three o'clock--it was now
nearly eleven. Eight hours. Blood-poisoning couldn't possibly
develop so soon.

She rushed to the 'phone.

Doctor Martin across the street was out. Doctor Foulke, their
family physician, didn't answer. She racked her brains and in
desperation called her throat specialist, and bit her lip
furiously while he looked up the numbers of two physicians.
During that interminable moment she thought she heard loud voices
down-stairs--but she seemed to be in another world now. After
fifteen minutes she located a physician who sounded angry and
sulky at being called out of bed. She ran back to the nursery
and, looking at the hand, found it was somewhat more
swollen.

"Oh, God!" she cried, and kneeling beside the bed began smoothing
back Julie's hair over and over. With a vague idea of getting
some hot water, she rose and stared toward the door, but the lace
of her dress caught in the bed-rail and she fell forward on her
hands and knees. She struggled up and jerked frantically at the
lace. The bed moved and Julie groaned. Then more quietly but with
suddenly fumbling fingers she found the pleat in front, tore the
whole pannier completely off, and rushed from the room.

Out in the hall she heard a single loud, insistent voice, but as
she reached the head of the stairs it ceased and an outer door
banged.

The music-room came into view. Only Harold and Milton were there,
the former leaning against a chair, his face very pale, his
collar open, and his mouth moving loosely.

"What's the matter?"

Milton looked at her anxiously.

"There was a little trouble---"

Then Harold saw her and, straightening up with an effort, began
to speak.

"Sult m'own cousin m'own house. God damn common nouveau rish.
'Sult m'own cousin---"

"Tom had trouble with Ahearn and Harold interfered," said Milton.
"My Lord Milton," cried Evylyn, "couldn't you have done
something?"

"I tried; I---"

"Julie's sick," she interrupted; "she's poisoned herself. Get him
to bed if you can."

Harold looked up.

"Julie sick?"

Paying no attention, Evylyn brushed by through the dining-room,
catching sight, with a burst of horror, of the big punch-bowl
still on the table, the liquid from melted ice in its bottom. She
heard steps on the front stairs--it was Milton helping Harold
up--and then a mumble: "Why, Julie's a'righ'."

"Don't let him go into the nursery!" she shouted.

The hours blurred into a nightmare. The doctor arrived just
before midnight and within a half-hour had lanced the wound. He
left at two after giving her the addresses of two nurses to call
up and promising to return at half past six. It was
blood-poisoning.

At four, leaving Hilda by the bedside, she went to her room, and
slipping with a shudder out of her evening dress, kicked it into a
corner. She put on a house dress and returned to the nursery
while Hilda went to make coffee.

Not until noon could she bring herself to look into Harold's
room, but when she did it was to find him awake and staring very
miserably at the ceiling. He turned blood-shot hollow eyes upon
her. For a minute she hated him, couldn't speak. A husky voice
came from the bed.

"What time is it?"

"Noon."

"I made a damn fool---"

"It doesn't matter," she said sharply. "Julie's got
blood-poisoning. They may"--she choked over the words--"they
think she'll have to lose her hand."

"What?"

"She cut herself on that--that bowl."

"Last night?"

"Oh, what does it matter?" see cried; "she's got blood-poisoning.
Can't you hear?" He looked at her bewildered--sat half-way up
in bed.

"I'll get dressed," he said.

Her anger subsided and a great wave of weariness and pity for him
rolled over her. After all, it was his trouble, too.

"Yes," she answered listlessly, "I suppose you'd better."



IV


If Evylyn's beauty had hesitated an her early thirties it came to
an abrupt decision just afterward and completely left her. A
tentative outlay of wrinkles on her face suddenly deepened and
flesh collected rapidly on her legs and hips and arms. Her
mannerism of drawing her brows together had become an
expression--it was habitual when she was reading or speaking and
even while she slept. She was forty-six.

As in most families whose fortunes have gone down rather than up,
she and Harold had drifted into a colorless antagonism. In
repose they looked at each other with the toleration they might
have felt for broken old chairs; Evylyn worried a little when he
was sick and did her best to be cheerful under the wearying
depression of living with a disappointed man.

Family bridge was over for the evening and she sighed with
relief. She had made more mistakes than usual this evening and
she didn't care. Irene shouldn't have made that remark about the
infantry being particularly dangerous. There had been no letter
for three weeks now, and, while this was nothing out of the
ordinary, it never failed to make her nervous; naturally she
hadn't known how many clubs were out.

Harold had gone up-stairs, so she stepped out on the porch for a
breath of fresh air. There was a bright glamour of moonlight
diffusing on the sidewalks and lawns, and with a little half
yawn, half laugh, she remembered one long moonlight affair of her
youth. It was astonishing to think that life had once been the
sum of her current love-affairs. It was now the sum of her
current problems.

There was the problem of Julie--Julie was thirteen, and lately
she was growing more and more sensitive about her deformity and
preferred to stay always in her room reading. A few years before
she had been frightened at the idea of going to school, and
Evylyn could not bring herself to send her, so she grew up in her
mother's shadow, a pitiful little figure with the artificial
hand that she made no attempt to use but kept forlornly in her
pocket. Lately she had been taking lessons in using it because
Evylyn had feared she would cease to lift the arm altogether, but
after the lessons, unless she made a move with it in listless
obedience to her mother, the little hand would creep back to the
pocket of her dress. For a while her dresses were made without
pockets, but Julie had moped around the house so miserably at a
loss all one month that Evylyn weakened and never tried the
experiment again.

The problem of Donald had been different from the start.  She had
attempted vainly to keep him near her as she had tried to teach
Julie to lean less on her--lately the problem of Donald had been
snatched out of her hands; his division had been abroad for three
months.

She yawned again--life was a thing for youth.  What a happy youth
she must have had!  She remembered her pony, Bijou, and the trip
to Europe with her mother when she was eighteen---

"Very, very complicated," she said aloud and severely to the
moon, and, stepping inside, was about to close the door when she
heard a noise in the library and started.

It was Martha, the middle-aged servant: they kept only one now.

"Why, Martha!" she said in surprise.

Martha turned quickly.

"Oh, I thought you was up-stairs.  I was jist---"

"Is anything the matter?"

Martha hesitated.

"No; I---"  She stood there fidgeting.  "It was a letter, Mrs.
Piper, that I put somewhere.

"A letter?  Your own letter?" asked Evylyn.

"No, it was to you. 'Twas this afternoon, Mrs. Piper, in the last
mail. The postman give it to me and then the back door-bell
rang. I had it in my hand, so I must have stuck it somewhere. I
thought I'd just slip in now and find it."

"What sort of a letter?  From Mr. Donald?"

"No, it was an advertisement, maybe, or a business letter. It was
a long narrow one, I remember."

They began a search through the music-room, looking on trays and
mantelpieces, and then through the library, feeling on the tops
of rows of books. Martha paused in despair.

"I can't think where. I went straight to the kitchen. The
dining-room, maybe." She started hopefully for the dining-room,
but turned suddenly at the sound of a gasp behind her. Evylyn had
sat down heavily in a Morris chair, her brows drawn very close
together eyes blanking furiously.

"Are you sick?"

For a minute there was no answer. Evylyn sat there very still and
Martha could see the very quick rise and fall of her bosom.

"Are you sick?" she repeated.

"No," said Evylyn slowly, "but I know where the letter is. Go
'way, Martha. I know."

Wonderingly, Martha withdrew, and still Evylyn sat there, only
the muscles around her eyes moving--contracting and relaxing and
contracting again. She knew now where the letter was--she knew
as well as if she had put it there herself. And she felt
instinctively and unquestionably what the letter was. It was long
and narrow like an advertisement, but up in the corner in large
letters it said "War Department" and, in smaller letters below,
"Official Business." She knew it lay there in the big bowl with
her name in ink on the outside and her soul's death within.

Rising uncertainly, she walked toward the dining-room, feeling
her way along the bookcases and through the doorway. After a
moment she found the light and switched it on.

There was the bowl, reflecting the electric light in crimson
squares edged with black and yellow squares edged with blue,
ponderous and glittering, grotesquely and triumphantly ominous.
She took a step forward and paused again; another step and she
would see over the top and into the inside--another step and she
would see an edge of white--another step--her hands fell on the
rough, cold surface--

In a moment she was tearing it open, fumbling with an obstinate
fold, holding it before her while the typewritten page glared out
and struck at her. Then it fluttered like a bird to the floor.
The house that had seemed whirring, buzzing a moment since, was
suddenly very quiet; a breath of air crept in through the open
front door carrying the noise of a passing motor; she heard faint
sounds from upstairs and then a grinding racket in the pipe
behind the bookcases-her husband turning of a water-tap---

And in that instant it was as if this were not, after all,
Donald's hour except in so far as he was a marker in the
insidious contest that had gone on in sudden surges and long,
listless interludes between Evylyn and this cold, malignant thing
of beauty, a gift of enmity from a man whose face she had long
since forgotten.  With its massive, brooding passivity it lay
there in the centre of her house as it had lain for years,
throwing out the ice-like beams of a thousand eyes, perverse
glitterings merging each into each, never aging, never changing.

Evylyn sat down on the edge of the table and stared at it
fascinated. It seemed to be smiling now, a very cruel smile, as
if to say:

"You see, this time I didn't have to hurt you directly. I didn't
bother. You know it was I who took your son away. You know how
cold I am and how hard and how beautiful, because once you were
just as cold and hard and beautiful."

The bowl seemed suddenly to turn itself over and then to distend
and swell until it became a great canopy that glittered and
trembled over the room, over the house, and, as the walls melted
slowly into mist, Evylyn saw that it was still moving out, out
and far away from her, shutting off far horizons and suns and
moons and stars except as inky blots seen faintly through it. And
under it walked all the people, and the light that came through
to them was refracted and twisted until shadow seamed light and
light seemed shadow--until the whole panoply of the world became
changed and distorted under the twinkling heaven of
the bowl.

Then there came a far-away, booming voice like a low, clear bell.
It came from the centre of the bowl and down the great sides to
the ground and then bounced toward her eagerly.

"You see, I am fate," it shouted, "and stronger than your puny
plans; and I am how-things-turn-out and I am different from your
little dreams, and I am the flight of time and the end of beauty
and unfulfilled desire; all the accidents and imperceptions and
the little minutes that shape the crucial hours are mine. I am
the exception that proves no rules, the limits of your control,
the condiment in the dish of life."

The booming sound stopped; the echoes rolled away over the wide
land to the edge of the bowl that bounded the world and up the
great sides and back to the centre where they hummed for a moment
and died. Then the great walls began slowly to bear down upon
her, growing smaller and smaller, coming closer and closer as if
to crush her; and as she clinched her hands and waited for the
swift bruise of the cold glass, the bowl gave a sudden wrench and
turned over--and lay there on the side-board, shining and
inscrutable, reflecting in a hundred prisms, myriad, many-colored
glints and gleams and crossings and interlaces of light.

The cold wind blew in again through to front door, and with a
desperate, frantic energy Evylyn stretched both her arms around
the bowl. She must be quick--she must be strong. She tightened
her arms until they ached, tauted the thin strips of muscle under
her soft flesh, and with a mighty effort raised it and held it.
She felt the wind blow cold on her back where her dress had come
apart from the strain of her effort, and as she felt it she
turned toward it and staggered under the great weight out through
the library and on toward the front door.  She must be
quick--she must be strong. The blood in her arms throbbed dully
and her knees kept giving way under her, but the feel of the cool
glass was good.

Out the front door she tottered and over to the stone steps, and
there, summoning every fibre of her soul and body for a last
effort, swung herself half around--for a second, as she tried to
loose her hold, her numb fingers clung to the rough surface, and
in that second she slipped and, losing balance, toppled forward
with a despairing cry, her arms still around the bowl . . . down
. . .

Over the way lights went on; far down the block the crash was
heard, and pedestrians rushed up wonderingly; up-stairs a tired
man awoke from the edge of sleep and a little girl whimpered in a
haunted doze. And all over the moonlit sidewalk around the
still, black form, hundreds of prisms and cubes and splinters of
glass reflected the light in little gleams of blue, and black
edged with yellow, and yellow, and crimson edged with black.



Bernice Bobs Her Hair



After dark on Saturday night one could stand on the first tee of
the golf-course and see the country-club windows as a yellow
expanse over a very black and wavy ocean. The waves of this
ocean, so to speak, were the heads of many curious caddies, a few
of the more ingenious chauffeurs, the golf professional's deaf
sister--and there were usually several stray, diffident waves who
might have rolled inside had they so desired. This was the
gallery.

The balcony was inside. It consisted of the circle of wicker
chairs that lined the wall of the combination clubroom and
ballroom. At these Saturday-night dances it was largely feminine;
a great babel of middle-aged ladies with sharp eyes and icy
hearts behind lorgnettes and large bosoms. The main function of
the balcony was critical, it occasionally showed grudging
admiration, but never approval, for it is well known among ladies
over thirty-five that when the younger set dance in the
summer-time it is with the very worst intentions in the world,
and if they are not bombarded with stony eyes stray couples will
dance weird barbaric interludes in the corners, and the more
popular, more dangerous, girls will sometimes be kissed in the
parked limousines of unsuspecting dowagers.

But, after all, this critical circle is not close enough to the
stage to see the actors' faces and catch the subtler byplay. It
can only frown and lean, ask questions and make satisfactory
deductions from its set of postulates, such as the one which
states that every young man with a large income leads the life of
a hunted partridge. It never really appreciates the drama of the
shifting, semi-cruel world of adolescence. No; boxes,
orchestra-circle, principals, and chorus be represented by the
medley of faces and voices that sway to the plaintive African
rhythm of Dyer's dance orchestra.

From sixteen-year-old Otis Ormonde, who has two more years at
Hill School, to G. Reece Stoddard, over whose bureau at home
hangs a Harvard law diploma; from little Madeleine Hogue, whose
hair still feels strange and uncomfortable on top of her head, to
Bessie MacRae, who has been the life of the party a little too
long--more than ten years--the medley is not only the centre of
the stage but contains the only people capable of getting an
unobstructed view of it.

With a flourish and a bang the music stops. The couples exchange
artificial, effortless smiles, facetiously repeat "LA-de-DA-DA
dum-DUM," and then the clatter of young feminine voices soars
over the burst of clapping.

A few disappointed stags caught in midfloor as they had been
about to cut in subsided listlessly back to the walls, because
this was not like the riotous Christmas dances--these summer
hops were considered just pleasantly warm and exciting, where
even the younger marrieds rose and performed ancient waltzes and
terrifying fox trots to the tolerant amusement of their younger
brothers and sisters.

Warren McIntyre, who casually attended Yale, being one of the
unfortunate stags, felt in his dinner-coat pocket for a cigarette
and strolled out onto the wide, semidark veranda, where couples
were scattered at tables, filling the lantern-hung night with
vague words and hazy laughter. He nodded here and there at the
less absorbed and as he passed each couple some half-forgotten
fragment of a story played in his mind, for it was not a large
city and every one was Who's Who to every one else's past. There,
for example, were Jim Strain and Ethel Demorest, who had been
privately engaged for three years. Every one knew that as soon as
Jim managed to hold a job for more than two months she would
marry him. Yet how bored they both looked, and how wearily Ethel
regarded Jim sometimes, as if she wondered why she had trained
the vines of her affection on such a wind-shaken poplar.

Warren was nineteen and rather pitying with those of his friends
who hadn't gone East to college. But, like most boys, he bragged
tremendously about the girls of his city when he was away from
it. There was Genevieve Ormonde, who regularly made the rounds of
dances, house-parties, and football games at Princeton, Yale,
Williams, and Cornell; there was black-eyed Roberta Dillon, who
was quite as famous to her own generation as Hiram Johnson or Ty
Cobb; and, of course, there was Marjorie Harvey, who besides
having a fairylike face and a dazzling, bewildering tongue was
already justly celebrated for having turned five cart-wheels in
succession during the last pump-and-slipper dance at New Haven.

Warren, who had grown up across the street from Marjorie, had
long been "crazy about her." Sometimes she seemed to reciprocate
his feeling with a faint gratitude, but she had tried him by her
infallible test and informed him gravely that she did not love
him. Her test was that when she was away from him she forgot him
and had affairs with other boys. Warren found this discouraging,
especially as Marjorie had been making little trips all summer,
and for the first two or three days after each arrival home he
saw great heaps of mail on the Harveys' hall table addressed to
her in various masculine handwritings. To make matters worse, all
during the month of August she had been visited by her cousin
Bernice from Eau Claire, and it seemed impossible to see her
alone. It was always necessary to hunt round and find some one to
take care of Bernice. As August waned this was becoming more and
more difficult.

Much as Warren worshipped Marjorie he had to admit that Cousin
Bernice was sorta dopeless. She was pretty, with dark hair and
high color, but she was no fun on a party. Every Saturday night
he danced a long arduous duty dance with her to please Marjorie,
but he had never been anything but bored in her company.

"Warren"---a soft voice at his elbow broke in upon his thoughts,
and he turned to see Marjorie, flushed and radiant as usual. She
laid a hand on his shoulder and a glow settled almost
imperceptibly over him.

"Warren," she whispered "do something for me--dance with Bernice.
She's been stuck with little Otis Ormonde for almost an
hour."

Warren's glow faded.

"Why--sure," he answered half-heartedly.

"You don't mind, do you? I'll see that you don't get stuck."

"'Sall right."

Marjorie smiled--that smile that was thanks enough.

"You're an angel, and I'm obliged loads."

With a sigh the angel glanced round the veranda, but Bernice and
Otis were not in sight. He wandered back inside, and there in
front of the women's dressing-room he found Otis in the centre of
a group of young men who were convulsed with laughter. Otis was
brandishing a piece of timber he had picked up, and discoursing
volubly.

"She's gone in to fix her hair," he announced wildly. "I'm
waiting to dance another hour with her."

Their laughter was renewed.

"Why don't some of you cut in?" cried Otis resentfully. "She
likes more variety."

"Why, Otis," suggested a friend "you've just barely got used to
her."

"Why the two-by-four, Otis?" inquired Warren, smiling.

"The two-by-four? Oh, this? This is a club. When she comes out
I'll hit her on the head and knock her in again."

Warren collapsed on a settee and howled with glee.

"Never mind, Otis," he articulated finally. "I'm relieving you
this time."

Otis simulated a sudden fainting attack and handed the stick to
Warren.

"If you need it, old man," he said hoarsely.

No matter how beautiful or brilliant a girl may be, the
reputation of not being frequently cut in on makes her position
at a dance unfortunate. Perhaps boys prefer her company to that
of the butterflies with whom they dance a dozen times an but,
youth in this jazz-nourished generation is temperamentally
restless, and the idea of fox-trotting more than one full fox
trot with the same girl is distasteful, not to say odious. When
it comes to several dances and the intermissions between she can
be quite sure that a young man, once relieved, will never tread
on her wayward toes again.

Warren danced the next full dance with Bernice, and finally,
thankful for the intermission, he led her to a table on the
veranda. There was a moment's silence while she did unimpressive
things with her fan.

"It's hotter here than in Eau Claire," she said.

Warren stifled a sigh and nodded. It might be for all he knew or
cared. He wondered idly whether she was a poor conversationalist
because she got no attention or got no attention because she was
a poor conversationalist.

"You going to be here much longer?" he asked and then turned
rather red. She might suspect his reasons for asking.

"Another week," she answered, and stared at him as if to lunge at
his next remark when it left his lips.

Warren fidgeted. Then with a sudden charitable impulse he decided
to try part of his line on her. He turned and looked at her
eyes.

"You've got an awfully kissable mouth," he began quietly.

This was a remark that he sometimes made to girls at college
proms when they were talking in just such half dark as this.
Bernice distinctly jumped. She turned an ungraceful red and
became clumsy with her fan. No one had ever made such a remark to
her before.

"Fresh!"---the word had slipped out before she realized it, and
she bit her lip. Too late she decided to be amused, and offered
him a flustered smile.

Warren was annoyed. Though not accustomed to have that remark
taken seriously, still it usually provoked a laugh or a paragraph
of sentimental banter. And he hated to be called fresh, except
in a joking way. His charitable impulse died and he switched the
topic.

"Jim Strain and Ethel Demorest sitting out as usual," he
commented.

This was more in Bernice's line, but a faint regret mingled with
her relief as the subject changed. Men did not talk to her about
kissable mouths, but she knew that they talked in some such way
to other girls.

"Oh, yes," she said, and laughed. "I hear they've been mooning
around for years without a red penny. Isn't it silly?"

Warren's disgust increased. Jim Strain was a close friend of his
brother's, and anyway he considered it bad form to sneer at
people for not having money. But Bernice had had no intention of
sneering. She was merely nervous.



II


When Marjorie and Bernice reached home at half after midnight
they said good night at the top of the stairs. Though cousins,
they were not intimates. As a matter of fact Marjorie had no
female intimates--she considered girls stupid. Bernice on the
contrary all through this parent-arranged visit had rather longed
to exchange those confidences flavored with giggles and tears
that she considered an indispensable factor in all feminine
intercourse. But in this respect she found Marjorie rather cold;
felt somehow the same difficulty in talking to her that she had
in talking to men. Marjorie never giggled, was never frightened,
seldom embarrassed, and in fact had very few of the qualities
which Bernice considered appropriately and blessedly feminine.

As Bernice busied herself with tooth-brush and paste this night
she wondered for the hundredth time why she never had any
attention when she was away from home. That her family were the
wealthiest in Eau Claire; that her mother entertained
tremendously, gave little diners for her daughter before all
dances and bought her a car of her own to drive round in, never
occurred to her as factors in her home-town social success. Like
most girls she had been brought up on the warm milk prepared by
Annie Fellows Johnston and on novels in which the female was
beloved because of certain mysterious womanly qualities always
mentioned but never displayed.

Bernice felt a vague pain that she was not at present engaged in
being popular. She did not know that had it not been for
Marjorie's campaigning she would have danced the entire evening
with one man; but she knew that even in Eau Claire other girls
with less position and less pulchritude were given a much bigger
rush. She attributed this to something subtly unscrupulous in
those girls. It had never worried her, and if it had her mother
would have assured her that the other girls cheapened themselves
and that men really respected girls like Bernice.

She turned out the light in her bathroom, and on an impulse
decided to go in and chat for a moment with her aunt Josephine,
whose light was still on. Her soft slippers bore her noiselessly
down the carpeted hall, but hearing voices inside she stopped
near the partly openers door. Then she caught her own name, and
without any definite intention of eavesdropping lingered--and the
thread of the conversation going on inside pierced her
consciousness sharply as if it had been drawn through with a
needle.

"She's absolutely hopeless!" It was Marjorie's voice. "Oh, I know
what you're going to say! So many people have told you how
pretty and sweet she is, and how she can cook! What of it? She
has a bum time. Men don't like her."

"What's a little cheap popularity?"

Mrs. Harvey sounded annoyed.

"It's everything when you're eighteen," said Marjorie
emphatically. "I've done my best. I've been polite and I've made
men dance with her, but they just won't stand being bored. When I
think of that gorgeous coloring wasted on such a ninny, and
think what Martha Carey could do with it--oh!"

"There's no courtesy these days."

Mrs. Harvey's voice implied that modern situations were too much
for her. When she was a girl all young ladies who belonged to
nice families had glorious times.

"Well," said Marjorie, "no girl can permanently bolster up a
lame-duck visitor, because these days it's every girl for
herself. I've even tried to drop hints about clothes and things,
and she's been furious--given me the funniest looks. She's
sensitive enough to know she's not getting away with much, but
I'll bet she consoles herself by thinking that she's very
virtuous and that I'm too gay and fickle and will come to a bad
end. All unpopular girls think that way. Sour grapes! Sarah
Hopkins refers to Genevieve and Roberta and me as gardenia girls!
I'll bet she'd give ten years of her life and her European
education to be a gardenia girl and have three or four men in
love with her and be cut in on every few feet at dances."

"It seems to me," interrupted Mrs. Harvey rather wearily, "that
you ought to be able to do something for Bernice. I know she's
not very vivacious."

Marjorie groaned.

"Vivacious! Good grief! I've never heard her say anything to a
boy except that it's hot or the floor's crowded or that she's
going to school in New York next year. Sometimes she asks them
what kind of car they have and tells them the kind she has.
Thrilling!"

There was a short silence and then Mrs. Harvey took up her
refrain:

"All I know is that other girls not half so sweet and attractive
get partners. Martha Carey, for instance, is stout and loud, and
her mother is distinctly common. Roberta Dillon is so thin this
year that she looks as though Arizona were the place for her.
She's dancing herself to death."

"But, mother," objected Marjorie impatiently, "Martha is cheerful
and awfully witty and an awfully slick girl, and Roberta's a
marvellous dancer. She's been popular for ages!"

Mrs. Harvey yawned.

"I think it's that crazy Indian blood in Bernice," continued
Marjorie. "Maybe she's a reversion to type.  Indian women all
just sat round and never said anything."

"Go to bed, you silly child," laughed Mrs. Harvey. "I wouldn't
have told you that if I'd thought you were going to remember it.
And I think most of your ideas are perfectly idiotic," she
finished sleepily.

There was another silence, while Marjorie considered whether or
not convincing her mother was worth the trouble. People over
forty can seldom be permanently convinced of anything. At
eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look; at
forty-five they are caves in which we hide.

Having decided this, Marjorie said good night. When she came out
into the hall it was quite empty.



III


While Marjorie was breakfasting late next day Bernice came into
the room with a rather formal good morning, sat down opposite,
stared intently over and slightly moistened her lips.

"What's on your mind?" inquired Marjorie, rather puzzled.

Bernice paused before she threw her hand-grenade.

"I heard what you said about me to your mother last night."

Marjorie was startled, but she showed only a faintly heightened
color and her voice was quite even when she spoke.

"Where were you?"

"In the hall. I didn't mean to listen--at first."

After an involuntary look of contempt Marjorie dropped her eyes
and became very interested in balancing a stray corn-flake on her
finger.

"I guess I'd better go back to Eau Claire--if I'm such a
nuisance." Bernice's lower lip was trembling violently and she
continued on a wavering note: "I've tried to be nice, and--and
I've been first neglected and then insulted. No one ever visited
me and got such treatment."

Marjorie was silent.

"But I'm in the way, I see. I'm a drag on you. Your friends don't
like me." She paused, and then remembered another one of her
grievances. "Of course I was furious last week when you tried to
hint to me that that dress was unbecoming. Don't you think I know
how to dress myself?"

"No," murmured less than half-aloud.

"What?"

"I didn't hint anything," said Marjorie succinctly. "I said, as I
remember, that it was better to wear a becoming dress three
times straight than to alternate it with two frights."

"Do you think that was a very nice thing to say?"

"I wasn't trying to be nice." Then after a pause: "When do you
want to go?"

Bernice drew in her breath sharply.

"Oh!" It was a little half-cry.

Marjorie looked up in surprise.

"Didn't you say you were going?"

"Yes, but---"

"Oh, you were only bluffing!"

They stared at each other across the breakfast-table for a
moment. Misty waves were passing before Bernice's eyes, while
Marjorie's face wore that rather hard expression that she used
when slightly intoxicated undergraduate's were making love to
her.

"So you were bluffing," she repeated as if it were what she might
have expected.

Bernice admitted it by bursting into tears. Marjorie's eyes
showed boredom.

"You're my cousin," sobbed Bernice. "I'm v-v-visiting you. I was
to stay a month, and if I go home my mother will know and she'll
wah-wonder---"

Marjorie waited until the shower of broken words collapsed into
little sniffles.

"I'll give you my month's allowance," she said coldly, "and you
can spend this last week anywhere you want. There's a very nice
hotel---"

Bernice's sobs rose to a flute note, and rising of a sudden she
fled from the room.

An hour later, while Marjorie was in the library absorbed in
composing one of those non-committal marvelously elusive letters
that only a young girl can write, Bernice reappeared, very
red-eyed, and consciously calm. She cast no glance at Marjorie
but took a book at random from the shelf and sat down as if to
read. Marjorie seemed absorbed in her letter and continued
writing. When the clock showed noon Bernice closed her book with
a snap.

"I suppose I'd better get my railroad ticket."

This was not the beginning of the speech she had rehearsed
up-stairs, but as Marjorie was not getting her cues--wasn't
urging her to be reasonable; it's an a mistake--it was the best
opening she could muster.

"Just wait till I finish this letter," said Marjorie without
looking round. "I want to get it off in the next mail."

After another minute, during which her pen scratched busily, she
turned round and relaxed with an air of "at your service." Again
Bernice had to speak.

"Do you want me to go home?"

"Well," said Marjorie, considering, "I suppose if you're not
having a good time you'd better go. No use being miserable."

"Don't you think common kindness---"

"Oh, please don't quote 'Little Women'!" cried Marjorie
impatiently. "That's out of style."

"You think so?"

"Heavens, yes! What modern girl could live like those inane
females?"

"They were the models for our mothers."

Marjorie laughed.

"Yes, they were--not! Besides, our mothers were all very well in
their way, but they know very little about their daughters'
problems."

Bernice drew herself up.

"Please don't talk about my mother."

Marjorie laughed.

"I don't think I mentioned her."

Bernice felt that she was being led away from her subject.

"Do you think you've treated me very well?"

"I've done my best. You're rather hard material to work with."

The lids of Bernice's eyes reddened.

"I think you're hard and selfish, and you haven't a feminine
quality in you."

"Oh, my Lord!" cried Marjorie in desperation "You little nut!
Girls like you are responsible for all the tiresome colorless
marriages; all those ghastly inefficiencies that pass as feminine
qualities. What a blow it must be when a man with imagination
marries the beautiful bundle of clothes that he's been building
ideals round, and finds that she's just a weak, whining, cowardly
mass of affectations!"

Bernice's mouth had slipped half open.

"The womanly woman!" continued Marjorie. "Her whole early life is
occupied in whining criticisms of girls like me who really do
have a good time."

Bernice's jaw descended farther as Marjorie's voice rose.

"There's some excuse for an ugly girl whining. If I'd been
irretrievably ugly I'd never have forgiven my parents for
bringing me into the world. But you're starting life without any
handicap--" Marjorie's little fist clinched, "If you expect me to
weep with you you'll be disappointed. Go or stay, just as you
like." And picking up her letters she left the room.

Bernice claimed a headache and failed to appear at luncheon. They
had a matinée date for the afternoon, but the headache
persisting, Marjorie made explanation to a not very downcast boy.
But when she returned late in the afternoon she found Bernice
with a strangely set face waiting for her in her bedroom.

"I've decided," began Bernice without preliminaries, "that maybe
you're right about things--possibly not. But if you'll tell me
why your friends aren't--aren't interested in me I'll see if I
can do what you want me to."

Marjorie was at the mirror shaking down her hair.

"Do you mean it?"

"Yes."

"Without reservations? Will you do exactly what I say?"

"Well, I---"

"Well nothing! Will you do exactly as I say?"

"If they're sensible things."

"They're not! You're no case for sensible things."

"Are you going to make--to recommend---"

"Yes, everything. If I tell you to take boxing-lessons you'll
have to do it. Write home and tell your mother you're going' to
stay another two weeks.

"If you'll tell me---"

"All right--I'll just give you a few examples now. First you have
no ease of manner. Why? Because you're never sure about your
personal appearance. When a girl feels that she's perfectly
groomed and dressed she can forget that part of her. That's
charm. The more parts of yourself you can afford to forget the
more charm you have."

"Don't I look all right?"

"No; for instance you never take care of your eyebrows. They're
black and lustrous, but by leaving them straggly they're a
blemish. They'd be beautiful if you'd take care of them in
one-tenth the time you take doing nothing. You're going to brush
them so that they'll grow straight."

Bernice raised the brows in question.

"Do you mean to say that men notice eyebrows?"

"Yes--subconsciously. And when you go home you ought to have your
teeth straightened a little. It's almost imperceptible,
still---"

"But I thought," interrupted Bernice in bewilderment, "that you
despised little dainty feminine things like that."

"I hate dainty minds," answered Marjorie. "But a girl has to be
dainty in person. If she looks like a million dollars she can
talk about Russia, ping-pong, or the League of Nations and get
away with it."

"What else?"

"Oh, I'm just beginning! There's your dancing."

"Don't I dance all right?"

"No, you don't--you lean on a man; yes, you do--ever so slightly.
I noticed it when we were dancing together yesterday. And you
dance standing up straight instead of bending over a little.
Probably some old lady on the side-line once told you that you
looked so dignified that way. But except with a very small girl
it's much harder on the man, and he's the one that counts."

"Go on." Bernice's brain was reeling.

"Well, you've got to learn to be nice to men who are sad birds.
You look as if you'd been insulted whenever you're thrown with
any except the most popular boys. Why, Bernice, I'm cut in on
every few feet--and who does most of it? Why, those very sad
birds. No girl can afford to neglect them. They're the big part
of any crowd. Young boys too shy to talk are the very best
conversational practice. Clumsy boys are the best dancing
practice. If you can follow them and yet look graceful you can
follow a baby tank across a barb-wire sky-scraper."

Bernice sighed profoundly, but Marjorie was not through.

"If you go to a dance and really amuse, say, three sad birds that
dance with you; if you talk so well to them that they forget
they're stuck with you, you've done something. They'll come back
next time, and gradually so many sad birds will dance with you
that the attractive boys will see there's no danger of being
stuck--then they'll dance with you."

"Yes," agreed Bernice faintly. "I think I begin to see."

"And finally," concluded Marjorie, "poise and charm will just
come. You'll wake up some morning knowing you've attained it and
men will know it too."

Bernice rose.

"It's been awfully kind of you--but nobody's ever talked to me
like this before, and I feel sort of startled."

Marjorie made no answer but gazed pensively at her own image in
the mirror.

"You're a peach to help me," continued Bernice.

Still Marjorie did not answer, and Bernice thought she had seemed
too grateful.

"I know you don't like sentiment," she said timidly.

Marjorie turned to her quickly.

"Oh, I wasn't thinking about that. I was considering whether we
hadn't better bob your hair."

Bernice collapsed backward upon the bed.



IV


On the following Wednesday evening there was a dinner-dance at
the country club. When the guests strolled in Bernice found her
place-card with a slight feeling of irritation. Though at her
right sat G. Reece Stoddard, a most desirable and distinguished
young bachelor, the all-important left held only Charley Paulson.
Charley lacked height, beauty, and social shrewdness, and in her
new enlightenment Bernice decided that his only qualification to
be her partner was that he had never been stuck with her.  But
this feeling of irritation left with the last of the soup-plates,
and Marjorie's specific instruction came to her. Swallowing her
pride she turned to Charley Paulson and plunged.

"Do you think I ought to bob my hair, Mr. Charley Paulson?"

Charley looked up in surprise.

"Why?"

"Because I'm considering it. It's such a sure and easy way of
attracting attention."

Charley smiled pleasantly. He could not know this had been
rehearsed. He replied that he didn't know much about bobbed hair.
But Bernice was there to tell him.

"I want to be a society vampire, you see," she announced coolly,
and went on to inform him that bobbed hair was the necessary
prelude. She added that she wanted to ask his advice, because she
had heard he was so critical about girls.

Charley, who knew as much about the psychology of women as he did
of the mental states of Buddhist contemplatives, felt vaguely
flattered.

"So I've decided," she continued, her voice rising slightly,
"that early next week I'm going down to the Sevier Hotel
barber-shop, sit in the first chair, and get my hair bobbed." She
faltered noticing that the people near her had paused in their
conversation and were listening; but after a confused second
Marjorie's coaching told, and she finished her paragraph to the
vicinity at large. "Of course I'm charging admission, but if
you'll all come down and encourage me I'll issue passes for the
inside seats."

There was a ripple of appreciative laughter, and under cover of
it G. Reece Stoddard leaned over quickly and said close to her
ear: "I'll take a box right now."

She met his eyes and smiled as if he had said something
surprisingly brilliant.

"Do you believe in bobbed hair?" asked G. Reece in the same
undertone.

"I think it's unmoral," affirmed Bernice gravely. "But, of
course, you've either got to amuse people or feed 'em or shock
'em." Marjorie had culled this from Oscar Wilde. It was greeted
with a ripple of laughter from the men and a series of quick,
intent looks from the girls. And then as though she had said
nothing of wit or moment Bernice turned again to Charley and
spoke confidentially in his ear.

"I want to ask you your opinion of several people. I imagine
you're a wonderful judge of character."

Charley thrilled faintly--paid her a subtle compliment by
overturning her water.

Two hours later, while Warren McIntyre was standing passively in
the stag line abstractedly watching the dancers and wondering
whither and with whom Marjorie had disappeared, an unrelated
perception began to creep slowly upon him--a perception that
Bernice, cousin to Marjorie, had been cut in on several times in
the past five minutes. He closed his eyes, opened them and looked
again. Several minutes back she had been dancing with a visiting
boy, a matter easily accounted for; a visiting boy would know no
better. But now she was dancing with some one else, and there
was Charley Paulson headed for her with enthusiastic
determination in his eye. Funny--Charley seldom danced with more
than three girls an evening.

Warren was distinctly surprised when--the exchange having been
effected--the man relieved proved to be none ether than G. Reece
Stoddard himself. And G. Reece seemed not at all jubilant at
being relieved. Next time Bernice danced near, Warren regarded
her intently. Yes, she was pretty, distinctly pretty; and
to-night her face seemed really vivacious. She had that look that
no woman, however histrionically proficient, can successfully
counterfeit--she looked as if she were having a good time. He
liked the way she had her hair arranged, wondered if it was
brilliantine that made it glisten so. And that dress was
becoming--a dark red that set off her shadowy eyes and high
coloring. He remembered that he had thought her pretty when she
first came to town, before he had realized that she was dull. Too
bad she was dull--dull girls unbearable--certainly pretty
though.

His thoughts zigzagged back to Marjorie. This disappearance would
be like other disappearances. When she reappeared he would
demand where she had been--would be told emphatically that it was
none of his business. What a pity she was so sure of him! She
basked in the knowledge that no other girl in town interested
him; she defied him to fall in love with Genevieve or
Roberta.

Warren sighed. The way to Marjorie's affections was a labyrinth
indeed. He looked up. Bernice was again dancing with the visiting
boy. Half unconsciously he took a step out from the stag line in
her direction, and hesitated. Then he said to himself that it
was charity. He walked toward her--collided suddenly with G.
Reece Stoddard.

"Pardon me," said Warren.

But G. Reece had not stopped to apologize. He had again cut in on
Bernice.

That night at one o'clock Marjorie, with one hand on the
electric-light switch in the hall, turned to take a last look at
Bernice's sparkling eyes.

"So it worked?"

"Oh, Marjorie, yes!" cried Bernice.

"I saw you were having a gay time."

"I did! The only trouble was that about midnight I ran short of
talk. I had to repeat myself--with different men of course. I
hope they won't compare notes."

"Men don't," said Marjorie, yawning, "and it wouldn't matter if
they did--they'd think you were even trickier."

She snapped out the light, and as they started up the stairs
Bernice grasped the banister thankfully. For the first time in
her life she had been danced tired.

"You see," said Marjorie it the top of the stairs, "one man sees
another man cut in and he thinks there must be something there.
Well, we'll fix up some new stuff to-morrow.  Good night."

"Good night."

As Bernice took down her hair she passed the evening before her
in review.  She had followed instructions exactly.  Even when
Charley Paulson cut in for the eighth time she had simulated
delight and had apparently been both interested and flattered.
She had not talked about the weather or Eau Claire or automobiles
or her school, but had confined her conversation to me, you, and
us.

But a few minutes before she fell asleep a rebellious thought was
churning drowsily in her brain--after all, it was she who had
done it.  Marjorie, to be sure, had given her her conversation,
but then Marjorie got much of her conversation out of things she
read.  Bernice had bought the red dress, though she had never
valued it highly before Marjorie dug it out of her trunk--and her
own voice had said the words, her own lips had smiled, her own
feet had danced.  Marjorie nice girl--vain, though--nice
evening--nice boys--like Warren--Warren--Warren--what's his
name--Warren---

She fell asleep.



V


To Bernice the next week was a revelation.  With the feeling that
people really enjoyed looking at her and listening to her came
the foundation of self-confidence.  Of course there were numerous
mistakes at first.  She did not know, for instance, that
Draycott Deyo was studying for the ministry; she was unaware that
he had cut in on her because he thought she was a quiet,
reserved girl. Had she known these things she would not have
treated him to the line which began "Hello, Shell Shock!" and
continued with the bathtub story--"It takes a frightful lot of
energy to fix my hair in the summer--there's so much of it--so I
always fix it first and powder my face and put on my hat; then I
get into the bathtub, and dress afterward. Don't you think that's
the best plan?"

Though Draycott Deyo was in the throes of difficulties concerning
baptism by immersion and might possibly have seen a connection,
it must be admitted that he did not. He considered feminine
bathing an immoral subject, and gave her some of his ideas on the
depravity of modern society.

But to offset that unfortunate occurrence Bernice had several
signal successes to her credit. Little Otis Ormonde pleaded off
from a trip East and elected instead to follow her with a
puppylike devotion, to the amusement of his crowd and to the
irritation of G. Reece Stoddard, several of whose afternoon calls
Otis completely ruined by the disgusting tenderness of the
glances he bent on Bernice. He even told her the story of the
two-by-four and the dressing-room to show her how frightfully
mistaken he and every one else had been in their first judgment
of her. Bernice laughed off that incident with a slight sinking
sensation.

Of all Bernice's conversation perhaps the best known and most
universally approved was the line about the bobbing of her hair.

"Oh, Bernice, when you goin' to get the hair bobbed?"

"Day after to-morrow maybe," she would reply, laughing. "Will you
come and see me? Because I'm counting on you, you know."

"Will we? You know! But you better hurry up."

Bernice, whose tonsorial intentions were strictly dishonorable,
would laugh again.

"Pretty soon now. You'd be surprised."

But perhaps the most significant symbol of her success was the
gray car of the hypercritical Warren McIntyre, parked daily in
front of the Harvey house. At first the parlor-maid was
distinctly startled when he asked for Bernice instead of
Marjorie; after a week of it she told the cook that Miss Bernice
had gotta holda Miss Marjorie's best fella.

And Miss Bernice had. Perhaps it began with Warren's desire to
rouse jealousy in Marjorie; perhaps it was the familiar though
unrecognized strain of Marjorie in Bernice's conversation;
perhaps it was both of these and something of sincere attraction
besides. But somehow the collective mind of the younger set knew
within a week that Marjorie's most reliable beau had made an
amazing face-about and was giving an indisputable rush to
Marjorie's guest. The question of the moment was how Marjorie
would take it. Warren called Bernice on the 'phone twice a day,
sent her notes, and they were frequently seen together in his
roadster, obviously engrossed in one of those tense, significant
conversations as to whether or not he was sincere.

Marjorie on being twitted only laughed. She said she was mighty
glad that Warren had at last found some one who appreciated him.
So the younger set laughed, too, and guessed that Marjorie didn't
care and let it go at that.

One afternoon when there were only three days left of her visit
Bernice was waiting in the hall for Warren, with whom she was
going to a bridge party. She was in rather a blissful mood, and
when Marjorie--also bound for the party--appeared beside her and
began casually to adjust her hat in the mirror, Bernice was
utterly unprepared for anything in the nature of a clash.
Marjorie did her work very coldly and succinctly in three
sentences.

"You may as well get Warren out of your head," she said coldly.

"What?" Bernice was utterly astounded.

"You may as well stop making a fool of yourself over Warren
McIntyre. He doesn't care a snap of his fingers about you."

For a tense moment they regarded each other--Marjorie scornful,
aloof; Bernice astounded, half-angry, half-afraid. Then two cars
drove up in front of the house and there was a riotous honking.
Both of them gasped faintly, turned, and side by side hurried
out.

All through the bridge party Bernice strove in vain to master a
rising uneasiness. She had offended Marjorie, the sphinx of
sphinxes. With the most wholesome and innocent intentions in the
world she had stolen Marjorie's property. She felt suddenly and
horribly guilty. After the bridge game, when they sat in an
informal circle and the conversation became general, the storm
gradually broke. Little Otis Ormonde inadvertently precipitated
it.

"When you going back to kindergarten, Otis?" some one had asked.

"Me? Day Bernice gets her hair bobbed."

"Then your education's over," said Marjorie quickly. "That's only
a bluff of hers. I should think you'd have realized."

"That a fact?" demanded Otis, giving Bernice a reproachful
glance.

Bernice's ears burned as she tried to think up an effectual
come-back. In the face of this direct attack her imagination was
paralyzed.

"There's a lot of bluffs in the world," continued Marjorie quite
pleasantly. "I should think you'd be young enough to know that,
Otis."

"Well," said Otis, "maybe so. But gee!  With a line like
Bernice's---"

"Really?" yawned Marjorie. "What's her latest bon mot?"

No one seemed to know. In fact, Bernice, having trifled with her
muse's beau, had said nothing memorable of late.

"Was that really all a line?" asked Roberta curiously.

Bernice hesitated. She felt that wit in some form was demanded of
her, but under her cousin's suddenly frigid eyes she was
completely incapacitated.

"I don't know," she stalled.

"Splush!" said Marjorie. "Admit it!"

Bernice saw that Warren's eyes had left a ukulele he had been
tinkering with and were fixed on her questioningly.

"Oh, I don't know!" she repeated steadily. Her cheeks were
glowing.

"Splush!" remarked Marjorie again.

"Come through, Bernice," urged Otis. "Tell her where to get off."
Bernice looked round again--she seemed unable to get away from
Warren's eyes.

"I like bobbed hair," she said hurriedly, as if he had asked her
a question, "and I intend to bob mine."

"When?" demanded Marjorie.

"Any time."

"No time like the present," suggested Roberta.

Otis jumped to his feet.

"Good stuff!" he cried. "We'll have a summer bobbing party.
Sevier Hotel barber-shop, I think you said."

In an instant all were on their feet. Bernice's heart throbbed
violently.

"What?" she gasped.

Out of the group came Marjorie's voice, very clear and
contemptuous.

"Don't worry--she'll back out!"

"Come on, Bernice!" cried Otis, starting toward the door.

Four eyes--Warren's and Marjorie's--stared at her, challenged
her, defied her. For another second she wavered wildly.

"All right," she said swiftly "I don't care if I do."

An eternity of minutes later, riding down-town through the late
afternoon beside Warren, the others following in Roberta's car
close behind, Bernice had all the sensations of Marie Antoinette
bound for the guillotine in a tumbrel. Vaguely she wondered why
she did not cry out that it was all a mistake. It was all she
could do to keep from clutching her hair with both bands to
protect it from the suddenly hostile world. Yet she did neither.
Even the thought of her mother was no deterrent now. This was the
test supreme of her sportsmanship; her right to walk
unchallenged in the starry heaven of popular girls.

Warren was moodily silent, and when they came to the hotel he
drew up at the curb and nodded to Bernice to precede him out.
Roberta's car emptied a laughing crowd into the shop, which
presented two bold plate-glass windows to the street.

Bernice stood on the curb and looked at the sign, Sevier
Barber-Shop. It was a guillotine indeed, and the hangman was the
first barber, who, attired in a white coat and smoking a
cigarette, leaned nonchalantly against the first chair. He must
have heard of her; he must have been waiting all week, smoking
eternal cigarettes beside that portentous, too-often-mentioned
first chair. Would they blind-fold her? No, but they would tie a
white cloth round her neck lest any of her blood--nonsense--hair--should
get on her clothes.

"All right, Bernice," said Warren quickly.

With her chin in the air she crossed the sidewalk, pushed open
the swinging screen-door, and giving not a glance to the
uproarious, riotous row that occupied the waiting bench, went up
to the fat barber.

"I want you to bob my hair."

The first barber's mouth slid somewhat open. His cigarette
dropped to the floor.

"Huh?"

"My hair--bob it!"

Refusing further preliminaries, Bernice took her seat on high. A
man in the chair next to her turned on his side and gave her a
glance, half lather, half amazement. One barber started and
spoiled little Willy Schuneman's monthly haircut. Mr. O'Reilly in
the last chair grunted and swore musically in ancient Gaelic as
a razor bit into his cheek. Two bootblacks became wide-eyed and
rushed for her feet. No, Bernice didn't care for a shine.

Outside a passer-by stopped and stared; a couple joined him; half
a dozen small boys' nose sprang into life, flattened against the
glass; and snatches of conversation borne on the summer breeze
drifted in through the screen-door.

"Lookada long hair on a kid!"

"Where'd yuh get 'at stuff? 'At's a bearded lady he just finished
shavin'."

But Bernice saw nothing, heard nothing. Her only living sense
told her that this man in the white coat had removed one
tortoise-shell comb and then another; that his fingers were
fumbling clumsily with unfamiliar hairpins; that this hair, this
wonderful hair of hers, was going--she would never again feel its
long voluptuous pull as it hung in a dark-brown glory down her
back. For a second she was near breaking down, and then the
picture before her swam mechanically into her vision--Marjorie's
mouth curling in a faint ironic smile as if to say:

"Give up and get down! You tried to buck me and I called your
bluff. You see you haven't got a prayer."

And some last energy rose up in Bernice, for she clinched her
hands under the white cloth, and there was a curious narrowing of
her eyes that Marjorie remarked on to some one long afterward.

Twenty minutes later the barber swung her round to face the
mirror, and she flinched at the full extent of the damage that
had been wrought. Her hair was not curls and now it lay in lank
lifeless blocks on both sides of her suddenly pale face. It was
ugly as sin--she had known it would be ugly as sin. Her face's
chief charm had been a Madonna-like simplicity. Now that was gone
and she was--well frightfully mediocre--not stagy; only
ridiculous, like a Greenwich Villager who had left her spectacles
at home.

As she climbed down from the chair she tried to smile--failed
miserably. She saw two of the girls exchange glances; noticed
Marjorie's mouth curved in attenuated mockery--and that Warren's
eyes were suddenly very cold.

"You see,"--her words fell into an awkward pause--"I've done it."

"Yes, you've--done it," admitted Warren.

"Do you like it?"

There was a half-hearted "Sure" from two or three voices, another
awkward pause, and then Marjorie turned swiftly and with
serpentlike intensity to Warren.

"Would you mind running me down to the cleaners?" she asked.
"I've simply got to get a dress there before supper. Roberta's
driving right home and she can take the others."

Warren stared abstractedly at some infinite speck out the window.
Then for an instant his eyes rested coldly on Bernice before
they turned to Marjorie.

"Be glad to," he said slowly.



VI


Bernice did not fully realize the outrageous trap that had been
set for her until she met her aunt's amazed glance just before
dinner.

"Why Bernice!"

"I've bobbed it, Aunt Josephine."

"Why, child!"

"Do you like it?"

"Why Bernice!"

"I suppose I've shocked you."

"No, but what'll Mrs. Deyo think tomorrow night? Bernice, you
should have waited until after the Deyo's dance--you should have
waited if you wanted to do that."

"It was sudden, Aunt Josephine. Anyway, why does it matter to
Mrs. Deyo particularly?"

"Why child," cried Mrs. Harvey, "in her paper on 'The Foibles of
the Younger Generation' that she read at the last meeting of the
Thursday Club she devoted fifteen minutes to bobbed hair. It's
her pet abomination. And the dance is for you and Marjorie!"

"I'm sorry."

"Oh, Bernice, what'll your mother say? She'll think I let you do
it."

"I'm sorry."

Dinner was an agony. She had made a hasty attempt with a
curling-iron, and burned her finger and much hair. She could see
that her aunt was both worried and grieved, and her uncle kept
saying, "Well, I'll be darned!" over and over in a hurt and
faintly hostile torte. And Marjorie sat very quietly, intrenched
behind a faint smile, a faintly mocking smile.

Somehow she got through the evening. Three boy's called; Marjorie
disappeared with one of them, and Bernice made a listless
unsuccessful attempt to entertain the two others--sighed
thankfully as she climbed the stairs to her room at half past
ten. What a day!

When she had undressed for the night the door opened and Marjorie
came in.

"Bernice," she said "I'm awfully sorry about the Deyo dance. I'll
give you my word of honor I'd forgotten all about it."

"'Sall right," said Bernice shortly. Standing before the mirror
she passed her comb slowly through her short hair.

"I'll take you down-town to-morrow," continued Marjorie, "and the
hairdresser'll fix it so you'll look slick. I didn't imagine
you'd go through with it. I'm really mighty sorry."

"Oh, 'sall right!"

"Still it's your last night, so I suppose it won't matter much."

Then Bernice winced as Marjorie tossed her own hair over her
shoulders and began to twist it slowly into two long blond braids
until in her cream-colored negligée she looked like a delicate
painting of some Saxon princess. Fascinated, Bernice watched the
braids grow. Heavy and luxurious they were moving under the
supple fingers like restive snakes--and to Bernice remained this
relic and the curling-iron and a to-morrow full of eyes. She
could see G. Reece Stoddard, who liked her, assuming his Harvard
manner and telling his dinner partner that Bernice shouldn't have
been allowed to go to the movies so much; she could see Draycott
Deyo exchanging glances with his mother and then being
conscientiously charitable to her. But then perhaps by to-morrow
Mrs. Deyo would have heard the news; would send round an icy
little note requesting that she fail to appear--and behind her
back they would all laugh and know that Marjorie had made a fool
of her; that her chance at beauty had been sacrificed to the
jealous whim of a selfish girl. She sat down suddenly before the
mirror, biting the inside of her cheek.

"I like it," she said with an effort. "I think it'll be
becoming."

Marjorie smiled.

"It looks all right. For heaven's sake, don't let it worry you!"

"I won't."

"Good night Bernice."

But as the door closed something snapped within Bernice. She
sprang dynamically to her feet, clinching her hands, then swiftly
and noiseless crossed over to her bed and from underneath it
dragged out her suitcase. Into it she tossed toilet articles and
a change of clothing, Then she turned to her trunk and quickly
dumped in two drawerfulls of lingerie and stammer dresses. She
moved quietly, but deadly efficiency, and in three-quarters of an
hour her trunk was locked and strapped and she was fully dressed
in a becoming new travelling suit that Marjorie had helped her
pick out.

Sitting down at her desk she wrote a short note to Mrs. Harvey,
in which she briefly outlined her reasons for going. She sealed
it, addressed it, and laid it on her pillow. She glanced at her
watch. The train left at one, and she knew that if she walked
down to the Marborough Hotel two blocks away she could easily get
a taxicab.

Suddenly she drew in her breath sharply and an expression flashed
into her eyes that a practiced character reader might have
connected vaguely with the set look she had worn in the barber's
chair--somehow a development of it. It was quite a new look for
Bernice--and it carried consequences.

She went stealthily to the bureau, picked up an article that lay
there, and turning out all the lights stood quietly until her
eyes became accustomed to the darkness. Softly she pushed open
the door to Marjorie's room. She heard the quiet, even breathing
of an untroubled conscience asleep.

She was by the bedside now, very deliberate and calm. She acted
swiftly. Bending over she found one of the braids of Marjorie's
hair, followed it up with her hand to the point nearest the head,
and then holding it a little slack so that the sleeper would
feel no pull, she reached down with the shears and severed it.
With the pigtail in her hand she held her breath. Marjorie had
muttered something in her sleep. Bernice deftly amputated the
other braid, paused for an instant, and then flitted swiftly and
silently back to her own room.

Down-stairs she opened the big front door, closed it carefully
behind her, and feeling oddly happy and exuberant stepped off the
porch into the moonlight, swinging her heavy grip like a
shopping-bag. After a minute's brisk walk she discovered that her
left hand still held the two blond braids. She laughed
unexpectedly--had to shut her mouth hard to keep from emitting an
absolute peal. She was passing Warren's house now, and on the
impulse she set down her baggage, and swinging the braids like
piece of rope flung them at the wooden porch, where they landed
with a slight thud. She laughed again, no longer restraining
herself.

"Huh," she giggled wildly. "Scalp the selfish thing!"

Then picking up her staircase she set off at a half-run down the
moonlit street.



Benediction



The Baltimore Station was hot and crowded, so Lois was forced to
stand by the telegraph desk for interminable, sticky seconds
while a clerk with big front teeth counted and recounted a large
lady's day message, to determine whether it contained the
innocuous forty-nine words or the fatal fifty-one.

Lois, waiting, decided she wasn't quite sure of the address, so
she took the letter out of her bag and ran over it again.

"Darling," IT BEGAN--"I understand and I'm happier than life ever
meant me to be. If I could give you the things you've always
been in tune with--but I can't Lois; we can't marry and we can't
lose each other and let all this glorious love end in nothing.

"Until your letter came, dear, I'd been sitting here in the half
dark and thinking where I could go and ever forget you; abroad,
perhaps, to drift through Italy or Spain and dream away the pain
of having lost you where the crumbling ruins of older, mellower
civilizations would mirror only the desolation of my heart--and
then your letter came.

"Sweetest, bravest girl, if you'll wire me I'll meet you in
Wilmington--till then I'll be here just waiting and hoping for
every long dream of you to come true.
                                           "Howard."

She had read the letter so many times that she knew it word by
word, yet it still startled her. In it she found many faint
reflections of the man who wrote it--the mingled sweetness and
sadness in his dark eyes, the furtive, restless excitement she
felt sometimes when he talked to her, his dreamy sensuousness
that lulled her mind to sleep. Lois was nineteen and very
romantic and curious and courageous.

The large lady and the clerk having compromised on fifty words,
Lois took a blank and wrote her telegram. And there were no
overtones to the finality of her decision.

It's just destiny--she thought--it's just the way things work
out in this damn world. If cowardice is all that's been holding
me back there won't be any more holding back. So we'll just let
things take their course and never be sorry.

The clerk scanned her telegram:

"Arrived Baltimore today spend day with my brother meet me
Wilmington three P.M. Wednesday
Love

                                      "Lois."

"Fifty-four cents," said the clerk admiringly.

And never be sorry--thought Lois--and never be sorry---



II


Trees filtering light onto dapple grass. Trees like tall, languid
ladies with feather fans coquetting airily with the ugly roof of
the monastery. Trees like butlers, bending courteously over
placid walks and paths. Trees, trees over the hills on either
side and scattering out in clumps and lines and woods all through
eastern Maryland, delicate lace on the hems of many yellow
fields, dark opaque backgrounds for flowered bushes or wild
climbing garden.

Some of the trees were very gay and young, but the monastery
trees were older than the monastery which, by true monastic
standards, wasn't very old at all. And, as a matter of fact, it
wasn't technically called a monastery, but only a seminary;
nevertheless it shall be a monastery here despite its Victorian
architecture or its Edward VII additions, or even its Woodrow
Wilsonian, patented, last-a-century roofing.

Out behind was the farm where half a dozen lay brothers were
sweating lustily as they moved with deadly efficiency around the
vegetable-gardens. To the left, behind a row of elms, was an
informal baseball diamond where three novices were being batted
out by a fourth, amid great chasings and puffings and blowings.
And in front as a great mellow bell boomed the half-hour a swarm
of black, human leaves were blown over the checker-board of paths
under the courteous trees.

Some of these black leaves were very old with cheeks furrowed
like the first ripples of a splashed pool. Then there was a
scattering of middle-aged leaves whose forms when viewed in
profile in their revealing gowns were beginning to be faintly
unsymmetrical. These carried thick volumes of Thomas Aquinas and
Henry James and Cardinal Mercier and Immanuel Kant and many
bulging note-books filled with lecture data.

But most numerous were the young leaves; blond boys of nineteen
with very stern, conscientious expressions; men in the late
twenties with a keen self-assurance from having taught out in the
world for five years--several hundreds of them, from city and
town and country in Maryland and Pennsylvania and Virginia and
West Virginia and Delaware.

There were many Americans and some Irish and some tough Irish and
a few French, and several Italians and Poles, and they walked
informally arm in arm with each other in twos and threes or in
long rows, almost universally distinguished by the straight mouth
and the considerable chin--for this was the Society of Jesus,
founded in Spain five hundred years before by a tough-minded
soldier who trained men to hold a breach or a salon, preach a
sermon or write a treaty, and do it and not argue . . .

Lois got out of a bus into the sunshine down by the outer gate.
She was nineteen with yellow hair and eyes that people were
tactful enough not to call green. When men of talent saw her in a
street-car they often furtively produced little stub-pencils and
backs of envelopes and tried to sum up that profile or the thing
that the eyebrows did to her eyes. Later they looked at their
results and usually tore them up with wondering sighs.

Though Lois was very jauntily attired in an expensively
appropriate travelling affair, she did not linger to pat out the
dust which covered her clothes, but started up the central walk
with curious glances at either side. Her face was very eager and
expectant, yet she hadn't at all that glorified expression that
girls wear when they arrive for a Senior Prom at Princeton or New
Haven; still, as there were no senior proms here, perhaps it
didn't matter.

She was wondering what he would look like, whether she'd possibly
know him from his picture. In the picture, which hung over her
mother's bureau at home, he seemed very young and hollow-cheeked
and rather pitiful, with only a well-developed mouth and all
ill-fitting probationer's gown to show that he had already made a
momentous decision about his life. Of course he had been only
nineteen then and now he was thirty-six--didn't look like that at
all; in recent snap-shots he was much broader and his hair had
grown a little thin--but the impression of her brother she had
always retained was that of the big picture. And so she had
always been a little sorry for him. What a life for a man!
Seventeen years of preparation and he wasn't even a priest
yet--wouldn't be for another year.

Lois had an idea that this was all going to be rather solemn if
she let it be. But she was going to give her very best imitation
of undiluted sunshine, the imitation she could give even when her
head was splitting or when her mother had a nervous breakdown or
when she was particularly romantic and curious and courageous.
This brother of hers undoubtedly needed cheering up, and he was
going to be cheered up, whether he liked it or not.

As she drew near the great, homely front door she saw a man break
suddenly away from a group and, pulling up the skirts of his
gown, run toward her. He was smiling, she noticed, and he looked
very big and--and reliable. She stopped and waited, knew that her
heart was beating unusually fast.

"Lois!" he cried, and in a second she was in his arms. She was
suddenly trembling.

"Lois!" he cried again, "why, this is wonderful! I can't tell
you, Lois, how MUCH I've looked forward to this. Why, Lois,
you're beautiful!"

Lois gasped.

His voice, though restrained, was vibrant with energy and that
odd sort of enveloping personality she had thought that she only
of the family possessed.

"I'm mighty glad, too--Kieth."

She flushed, but not unhappily, at this first use of his name.

"Lois--Lois--Lois," he repeated in wonder. "Child, we'll go in
here a minute, because I want you to meet the rector, and then
we'll walk around. I have a thousand things to talk to you
about."

His voice became graver. "How's mother?"

She looked at him for a moment and then said something that she
had not intended to say at all, the very sort of thing she had
resolved to avoid.

"Oh, Kieth--she's--she's getting worse all the time, every way."

He nodded slowly as if he understood.

"Nervous, well--you can tell me about that later. Now---"

She was in a small study with a large desk, saying something to a
little, jovial, white-haired priest who retained her hand for
some seconds.

"So this is Lois!"

He said it as if he had heard of her for years.

He entreated her to sit down.

Two other priests arrived enthusiastically and shook hands with
her and addressed her as "Kieth's little sister," which she found
she didn't mind a bit.

How assured they seemed; she had expected a certain shyness,
reserve at least. There were several jokes unintelligible to her,
which seemed to delight every one, and the little Father Rector
referred to the trio of them as "dim old monks," which she
appreciated, because of course they weren't monks at all. She had
a lightning impression that they were especially fond of
Kieth--the Father Rector had called him "Kieth" and one of the
others had kept a hand on his shoulder all through the
conversation. Then she was shaking hands again and promising to
come back a little later for some ice-cream, and smiling and
smiling and being rather absurdly happy . . . she told herself
that it was because Kieth was so delighted in showing her off.

Then she and Kieth were strolling along a path, arm in arm, and
he was informing her what an absolute jewel the Father Rector
was.

"Lois," he broke off suddenly, "I want to tell you before we go
any farther how much it means to me to have you come up here. I
think it was--mighty sweet of you. I know what a gay time you've
been having."

Lois gasped. She was not prepared for this. At first when she had
conceived the plan of taking the hot journey down to Baltimore
staying the night with a friend and then coming out to see her
brother, she had felt rather consciously virtuous, hoped he
wouldn't be priggish or resentful about her not having come
before--but walking here with him under the trees seemed such a
little thing, and surprisingly a happy thing.

"Why, Kieth," she said quickly, "you know I couldn't have waited
a day longer. I saw you when I was five, but of course I didn't
remember, and how could I have gone on without practically ever
having seen my only brother?"

"It was mighty sweet of you, Lois," he repeated.

Lois blushed--he DID have personality.

"I want you to tell me all about yourself," he said after a
pause. "Of course I have a general idea what you and mother did
in Europe those fourteen years, and then we were all so worried,
Lois, when you had pneumonia and couldn't come down with
mother--let's see that was two years ago--and then, well, I've
seen your name in the papers, but it's all been so
unsatisfactory. I haven't known you, Lois."

She found herself analyzing his personality as she analyzed the
personality of every man she met. She wondered if the effect
of--of intimacy that he gave was bred by his constant repetition
of her name. He said it as if he loved the word, as if it had an
inherent meaning to him.

"Then you were at school," he continued.

"Yes, at Farmington. Mother wanted me to go to a convent--but I
didn't want to."

She cast a side glance at him to see if he would resent this.

But he only nodded slowly.

"Had enough convents abroad, eh?"

"Yes--and Kieth, convents are different there anyway. Here even
in the nicest ones there are so many COMMON girls."

He nodded again.

"Yes," he agreed, "I suppose there are, and I know how you feel
about it. It grated on me here, at first, Lois, though I wouldn't
say that to any one but you; we're rather sensitive, you and I,
to things like this."

"You mean the men here?"

"Yes, some of them of course were fine, the sort of men I'd
always been thrown with, but there were others; a man named
Regan, for instance--I hated the fellow, and now he's about the
best friend I have. A wonderful character, Lois; you'll meet him
later. Sort of man you'd like to have with you in a fight."

Lois was thinking that Kieth was the sort of man she'd like to
have with HER in a fight.

"How did you--how did you first happen to do it?" she asked,
rather shyly, "to come here, I mean. Of course mother told me the
story about the Pullman car."

"Oh, that---" He looked rather annoyed.

"Tell me that. I'd like to hear you tell it."

"Oh, it's nothing except what you probably know. It was evening
and I'd been riding all day and thinking about--about a hundred
things, Lois, and then suddenly I had a sense that some one was
sitting across from me, felt that he'd been there for some time,
and had a vague idea that he was another traveller. All at once
he leaned over toward me and I heard a voice say: 'I want you to
be a priest, that's what I want.' Well I jumped up and cried out,
'Oh, my God, not that!'--made an idiot of myself before about
twenty people; you see there wasn't any one sitting there at all.
A week after that I went to the Jesuit College in Philadelphia
and crawled up the last flight of stairs to the rector's office
on my hands and knees."

There was another silence and Lois saw that her brother's eyes
wore a far-away look, that he was staring unseeingly out over the
sunny fields. She was stirred by the modulations of his voice
and the sudden silence that seemed to flow about him when he
finished speaking.

She noticed now that his eyes were of the same fibre as hers,
with the green left out, and that his mouth was much gentler,
really, than in the picture--or was it that the face had grown
up to it lately? He was getting a little bald just on top of his
head. She wondered if that was from wearing a hat so much. It
seemed awful for a man to grow bald and no one to care about it.

"Were you--pious when you were young, Kieth?" she asked. "You
know what I mean. Were you religious? If you don't mind these
personal questions."

"Yes," he said with his eyes still far away--and she felt that
his intense abstraction was as much a part of his personality as
his attention. "Yes, I suppose I was, when I was--sober."

Lois thrilled slightly.

"Did you drink?"

He nodded.

"I was on the way to making a bad hash of things." He smiled and,
turning his gray eyes on her, changed the subject.

"Child, tell me about mother. I know it's been awfully hard for
you there, lately. I know you've had to sacrifice a lot and put
up with a great deal and I want you to know how fine of you I
think it is. I feel, Lois, that you're sort of taking the place
of both of us there."

Lois thought quickly how little she had sacrificed; how lately
she had constantly avoided her nervous, half-invalid mother.

"Youth shouldn't be sacrificed to age, Kieth," she said steadily.

"I know," he sighed, "and you oughtn't to have the weight on
your shoulders, child. I wish I were there to help you."

She saw how quickly he had turned her remark and instantly she
knew what this quality was that he gave off. He was SWEET. Her
thoughts went of on a side-track and then she broke the silence
with an odd remark.

"Sweetness is hard," she said suddenly.

"What?"

"Nothing," she denied in confusion. "I didn't mean to speak
aloud. I was thinking of something--of a conversation with a man
named Freddy Kebble."

"Maury Kebble's brother?"

"Yes," she said rather surprised to think of him having known
Maury Kebble. Still there was nothing strange about it. "Well, he
and I were talking about sweetness a few weeks ago. Oh, I don't
know--I said that a man named Howard--that a man I knew was
sweet, and he didn't agree with me, and we began talking about
what sweetness in a man was: He kept telling me I meant a sort of
soppy softness, but I knew I didn't--yet I didn't know exactly
how to put it. I see now. I meant just the opposite. I suppose
real sweetness is a sort of hardness--and strength."

Kieth nodded.

"I see what you mean. I've known old priests who had it."

"I'm talking about young men," she said rather defiantly.

They had reached the now deserted baseball diamond and, pointing
her to a wooden bench, he sprawled full length on the grass.

"Are these YOUNG men happy here, Kieth?"

"Don't they look happy, Lois?"

"I suppose so, but those YOUNG ones, those two we just
passed--have they--are they---?

"Are they signed up?" he laughed. "No, but they will be next
month."

"Permanently?"

"Yes--unless they break down mentally or physically. Of course in
a discipline like ours a lot drop out."

"But those BOYS. Are they giving up fine chances outside--like
you did?"

He nodded.

"Some of them."

"But Kieth, they don't know what they're doing. They haven't had
any experience of what they're missing."

"No, I suppose not."

"It doesn't seem fair. Life has just sort of scared them at
first. Do they all come in so YOUNG?"

"No, some of them have knocked around, led pretty wild
lives--Regan, for instance."

"I should think that sort would be better," she said
meditatively, "men that had SEEN life."

"No," said Kieth earnestly, "I'm not sure that knocking about
gives a man the sort of experience he can communicate to others.
Some of the broadest men I've known have been absolutely rigid
about themselves. And reformed libertines are a notoriously
intolerant class. Don't you thank so, Lois?"

She nodded, still meditative, and he continued:

"It seems to me that when one weak reason goes to another, it
isn't help they want; it's a sort of companionship in guilt,
Lois. After you were born, when mother began to get nervous she
used to go and weep with a certain Mrs. Comstock. Lord, it used
to make me shiver. She said it comforted her, poor old mother.
No, I don't think that to help others you've got to show yourself
at all. Real help comes from a stronger person whom you respect.
And their sympathy is all the bigger because it's impersonal."

"But people want human sympathy," objected Lois. "They want to
feel the other person's been tempted."

"Lois, in their hearts they want to feel that the other person's
been weak. That's what they mean by human.

"Here in this old monkery, Lois," he continued with a smile, "they
try to get all that self-pity and pride in our own wills out of
us right at the first. They put us to scrubbing floors--and other
things. It's like that idea of saving your life by losing it.
You see we sort of feel that the less human a man is, in your
sense of human, the better servant he can be to humanity. We
carry it out to the end, too. When one of us dies his family
can't even have him then. He's buried here under plain wooden
cross with a thousand others."

His tone changed suddenly and he looked at her with a great
brightness in his gray eyes.

"But way back in a man's heart there are some things he can't get
rid of--an one of them is that I'm awfully in love with my
little sister."

With a sudden impulse she knelt beside him in the grass and,
Leaning over, kissed his forehead.

"You're hard, Kieth," she said, "and I love you for it--and
you're sweet."



III


Back in the reception-room Lois met a half-dozen more of Kieth's
particular friends; there was a young man named Jarvis, rather
pale and delicate-looking, who, she knew, must be a grandson of
old Mrs. Jarvis at home, and she mentally compared this ascetic
with a brace of his riotous uncles.

And there was Regan with a scarred face and piercing intent eyes
that followed her about the room and often rested on Kieth with
something very like worship.  She knew then what Kieth had meant
about "a good man to have with you in a fight."

He's the missionary type--she thought vaguely--China or something.

"I want Kieth's sister to show us what the shimmy is," demanded
one young man with a broad grin.

Lois laughed.

"I'm afraid the Father Rector would send me shimmying out the
gate. Besides, I'm not an expert."

"I'm sure it wouldn't be best for Jimmy's soul anyway," said
Kieth solemnly. "He's inclined to brood about things like
shimmys. They were just starting to do the--maxixe, wasn't it,
Jimmy?--when he became a monk, and it haunted him his whole first
year. You'd see him when he was peeling potatoes, putting his
arm around the bucket and making irreligious motions with his
feet."

There was a general laugh in which Lois joined.

"An old lady who comes here to Mass sent Kieth this ice-cream,"
whispered Jarvis under cover of the laugh, "because she'd heard
you were coming. It's pretty good, isn't it?"

There were tears trembling in Lois' eyes.



IV


Then half an hour later over in the chapel things suddenly went
all wrong. It was several years since Lois had been at
Benediction and at first she was thrilled by the gleaming
monstrance with its central spot of white, the air rich and heavy
with incense, and the sun shining through the stained-glass
window of St. Francis Xavier overhead and falling in warm red
tracery on the cassock of the man in front of her, but at the
first notes of the "O SALUTARIS HOSTIA" a heavy weight seemed to
descend upon her soul. Kieth was on her right and young Jarvis on
her left, and she stole uneasy glance at both of them.

What's the matter with me? she thought impatiently.

She looked again. Was there a certain coldness in both their
profiles, that she had not noticed before--a pallor about the
mouth and a curious set expression in their eyes? She shivered
slightly: they were like dead men.

She felt her soul recede suddenly from Kieth's. This was her
brother--this, this unnatural person. She caught herself in the
act of a little laugh.

"What is the matter with me?"

She passed her hand over her eyes and the weight increased. The
incense sickened her and a stray, ragged note from one of the
tenors in the choir grated on her ear like the shriek of a
slate-pencil. She fidgeted, and raising her hand to her hair
touched her forehead, found moisture on it.

"It's hot in here, hot as the deuce."

Again she repressed a faint laugh and, then in an instant the
weight on her heart suddenly diffused into cold fear. . . . It
was that candle on the altar. It was all wrong--wrong. Why didn't
somebody see it? There was something IN it. There was something
coming out of it, taking form and shape above it.

She tried to fight down her rising panic, told herself it was the
wick. If the wick wasn't straight, candles did something--but
they didn't do this! With incalculable rapidity a force was
gathering within her, a tremendous, assimilative force, drawing
from every sense, every corner of her brain, and as it surged up
inside her she felt an enormous terrified repulsion. She drew her
arms in close to her side away from Kieth and Jarvis.

Something in that candle . . . she was leaning forward--in
another moment she felt she would go forward toward it--didn't
any one see it? . . . anyone?

"Ugh!"

She felt a space beside her and something told her that Jarvis
had gasped and sat down very suddenly . . . then she was kneeling
and as the flaming monstrance slowly left the altar in the hands
of the priest, she heard a great rushing noise in her ears--the
crash of the bells was like hammer-blows . . . and then in a
moment that seemed eternal a great torrent rolled over her
heart--there was a shouting there and a lashing as of waves . . .

. . . She was calling, felt herself calling for Kieth, her lips
mouthing the words that would not come:

"Kieth! Oh, my God! KIETH!"

Suddenly she became aware of a new presence, something external,
in front of her, consummated and expressed in warm red tracery.
Then she knew. It was the window of St. Francis Xavier. Her mind
gripped at it, clung to it finally, and she felt herself calling
again endlessly, impotently--Kieth--Kieth!

Then out of a great stillness came a voice:

"BLESSED BE GOD."

With a gradual rumble sounded the response rolling heavily
through the chapel:

"Blessed be God."

The words sang instantly in her heart; the incense lay mystically
and sweetly peaceful upon the air, and THE CANDLE ON THE ALTAR
WENT OUT.

"Blessed be His Holy Name."

"Blessed be His Holy Name."

Everything blurred into a swinging mist. With a sound half-gasp,
half-cry she rocked on her feet and reeled backward into Kieth's
suddenly outstretched arms.



V


"Lie still, child."

She closed her eyes again. She was on the grass outside, pillowed
on Kieth's arm, and Regan was dabbing her head with a cold towel.

"I'm all right," she said quietly.

"I know, but just lie still a minute longer. It was too hot in
there. Jarvis felt it, too."

She laughed as Regan again touched her gingerly with the towel.

"I'm all right," she repeated.

But though a warm peace was falling her mind and heart she felt
oddly broken and chastened, as if some one had held her stripped
soul up and laughed.



VI


Half an hour later she walked leaning on Kieth's arm down the
long central path toward the gate.

"It's been such a short afternoon," he sighed, "and I'm so sorry
you were sick, Lois."

"Kieth, I'm feeling fine now, really; I wish you wouldn't worry."

"Poor old child. I didn't realize that Benediction'd be a long
service for you after your hot trip out here and all."

She laughed cheerfully.

"I guess the truth is I'm not much used to Benediction. Mass is
the limit of my religious exertions."

She paused and then continued quickly:

"I don't want to shock you, Kieth, but I can't tell you how--how
INCONVENIENT being a Catholic is. It really doesn't seem to apply
any more. As far as morals go, some of the wildest boys I know
are Catholics. And the brightest boys--I mean the ones who think
and read a lot, don't seem to believe in much of anything any
more."

"Tell me about it. The bus won't be here for another half-hour."

They sat down on a bench by the path.

"For instance, Gerald Carter, he's published a novel. He
absolutely roars when people mention immortality. And then
Howa--well, another man I've known well, lately, who was Phi Beta
Kappa at Harvard says that no intelligent person can believe in
Supernatural Christianity. He says Christ was a great socialist,
though. Am I shocking you?"

She broke off suddenly.

Kieth smiled.

"You can't shock a monk. He's a professional shock-absorber."

"Well," she continued, "that's about all. It seems so--so NARROW.
Church schools, for instance. There's more freedom about things
that Catholic people can't see--like birth control."

Kieth winced, almost imperceptibly, but Lois saw it.

"Oh," she said quickly, "everybody talks about everything now."

"It's probably better that way."

"Oh, yes, much better. Well, that's all, Kieth. I just wanted to
tell you why I'm a little--luke-warm, at present."

"I'm not shocked, Lois. I understand better than you think. We
all go through those times. But I know it'll come out all right,
child. There's that gift of faith that we have, you and I,
that'll carry us past the bad spots."

He rose as he spoke and they started again down the path.

"I want you to pray for me sometimes, Lois. I think your prayers
would be about what I need. Because we've come very close in
these few hours, I think."

Her eyes were suddenly shining.

"Oh we have, we have!" she cried. "I feel closer to you now than
to any one in the world."

He stopped suddenly and indicated the side of the path.

"We might--just a minute---"

It was a pietà, a life-size statue of the Blessed Virgin set
within a semicircle of rocks.

Feeling a little self-conscious she dropped on her knees beside
him and made an unsuccessful attempt at prayer.

She was only half through when he rose. He took her arm again.

"I wanted to thank Her for letting as have this day together," he
said simply.

Lois felt a sudden lump in her throat and she wanted to say
something that would tell him how much it had meant to her, too.
But she found no words.

"I'll always remember this," he continued, his voice trembling a
little---"this summer day with you. It's been just what I
expected. You're just what I expected, Lois."

"I'm awfully glad, Keith."

"You see, when you were little they kept sending me snap-shots of
you, first as a baby and then as a child in socks playing on the
beach with a pail and shovel, and then suddenly as a wistful
little girl with wondering, pure eyes--and I used to build dreams
about you. A man has to have something living to cling to. I
think, Lois, it was your little white soul I tried to keep near
me--even when life was at its loudest and every intellectual idea
of God seemed the sheerest mockery, and desire and love and a
million things came up to me and said: 'Look here at me! See, I'm
Life. You're turning your back on it!' All the way through that
shadow, Lois, I could always see your baby soul flitting on ahead
of me, very frail and clear and wonderful."

Lois was crying softly. They had reached the gate and she rested
her elbow on it and dabbed furiously at her eyes.

"And then later, child, when you were sick I knelt all one night
and asked God to spare you for me--for I knew then that I wanted
more; He had taught me to want more. I wanted to know you moved
and breathed in the same world with me. I saw you growing up,
that white innocence of yours changing to a flame and burning to
give light to other weaker souls. And then I wanted some day to
take your children on my knee and hear them call the crabbed old
monk Uncle Kieth."

He seemed to be laughing now as he talked.

"Oh, Lois, Lois, I was asking God for more then. I wanted the
letters you'd write me and the place I'd have at your table. I
wanted an awful lot, Lois, dear."

"You've got me, Kieth," she sobbed "you know it, say you know it.
Oh, I'm acting like a baby but I didn't think you'd be this way,
and I--oh, Kieth--Kieth---"

He took her hand and patted it softly.

"Here's the bus. You'll come again won't you?"

She put her hands on his cheeks, add drawing his head down,
pressed her tear-wet face against his.

"Oh, Kieth, brother, some day I'll tell you something."

He helped her in, saw her take down her handkerchief and smile
bravely at him, as the driver kicked his whip and the bus rolled
off. Then a thick cloud of dust rose around it and she was gone.

For a few minutes he stood there on the road his hand on the
gate-post, his lips half parted in a smile.

"Lois," he said aloud in a sort of wonder, "Lois, Lois."

Later, some probationers passing noticed him kneeling before the
pietà, and coming back after a time found him still there. And he
was there until twilight came down and the courteous trees grew
garrulous overhead and the crickets took up their burden of song
in the dusky grass.



VII


The first clerk in the telegraph booth in the Baltimore Station
whistled through his buck teeth at the second clerk:

"S'matter?"

"See that girl--no, the pretty one with the big black dots on her
veil. Too late--she's gone. You missed somep'n."

"What about her?"

"Nothing. 'Cept she's damn good-looking. Came in here yesterday
and sent a wire to some guy to meet her somewhere. Then a minute
ago she came in with a telegram all written out and was standin'
there goin' to give it to me when she changed her mind or somep'n
and all of a sudden tore it up."

"Hm."

The first clerk came around tile counter and picking up the two
pieces of paper from the floor put them together idly. The second
clerk read them over his shoulder and subconsciously counted the
words as he read. There were just thirteen.

"This is in the way of a permanent goodbye. I should suggest
Italy.

                                                      "Lois."

"Tore it up, eh?" said the second clerk.



Dalyrimple Goes Wrong



In the millennium an educational genius will write a book to be
given to every young man on the date of his disillusion. This
work will have the flavor of Montaigne's essays and Samuel
Butler's note-books--and a little of Tolstoi and Marcus
Aurelius. It will be neither cheerful nor pleasant but will
contain numerous passages of striking humor. Since first-class
minds never believe anything very strongly until they've
experienced it, its value will be purely relative . . . all
people over thirty will refer to it as "depressing."

This prelude belongs to the story of a young man
who lived, as you and I do, before the book.



II


The generation which numbered Bryan Dalyrimple drifted out of
adolescence to a mighty fan-fare of trumpets. Bryan played the
star in an affair which included a Lewis gun and a nine-day romp
behind the retreating German lines, so luck triumphant or
sentiment rampant awarded him a row of medals and on his arrival
in the States he was told that he was second in importance only
to General Pershing and Sergeant York. This was a lot of fun.
The governor of his State, a stray congressman, and a citizens'
committee gave him enormous smiles and "By God, Sirs" on the
dock at Hoboken; there were newspaper reporters and
photographers who said "would you mind" and "if you could just";
and back in his home town there were old ladies, the rims of
whose eyes grew red as they talked to him, and girls who hadn't
remembered him so well since his father's business went blah! in
nineteen-twelve.

But when the shouting died he realized that for a month he had
been the house guest of the mayor, that he had only fourteen
dollars in the world and that "the name that will live forever
in the annals and legends of this State" was already living
there very quietly and obscurely.

One morning he lay late in bed and just outside his door he
heard the up-stairs maid talking to the cook. The up-stairs maid
said that Mrs. Hawkins, the mayor's wife, had been trying for a
week to hint Dalyrimple out of the house. He left at eleven
o'clock in intolerable confusion, asking that his trunk be sent
to Mrs. Beebe's boarding-house.

Dalyrimple was twenty-three and he had never worked. His father
had given him two years at the State University and passed away
about the time of his son's nine-day romp, leaving behind him
some mid-Victorian furniture and a thin packet of folded paper
that turned out to be grocery bills. Young Dalyrimple had very
keen gray eyes, a mind that delighted the army psychological
examiners, a trick of having read it--whatever it was--some time
before, and a cool hand in a hot situation. But these things did
not save him a final, unresigned sigh when he realized that he
had to go to work--right away.

It was early afternoon when he walked into the office of Theron
G. Macy, who owned the largest wholesale grocery house in town.
Plump, prosperous, wearing a pleasant but quite unhumorous
smile, Theron G. Macy greeted him warmly.

"Well--how do, Bryan? What's on your mind?"

To Dalyrimple, straining with his admission, his own words, when
they came, sounded like an Arab beggar's whine for alms.

"Why--this question of a job." ("This question of a job" seemed
somehow more clothed than just "a job.")

"A job?" An almost imperceptible breeze blew across Mr. Macy's
expression.

"You see, Mr. Macy," continued Dalyrimple, "I feel I'm wasting
time. I want to get started at something. I had several chances
about a month ago but they all seem to have--gone---"

"Let's see," interrupted Mr. Macy. "What were they?"

"Well, just at the first the governor said something about a
vacancy on his staff. I was sort of counting on that for a
while, but I hear he's given it to Allen Gregg, you know, son of
G. P. Gregg. He sort of forgot what he said to me--just talking,
I guess."

"You ought to push those things."

"Then there was that engineering expedition, but they decided
they'd have to have a man who knew hydraulics, so they couldn't
use me unless I paid my own way."

"You had just a year at the university?"

"Two. But I didn't take any science or mathematics. Well, the
day the battalion paraded, Mr. Peter Jordan said something about
a vacancy in his store. I went around there to-day and I found
he meant a sort of floor-walker--and then you said something one
day"--he paused and waited for the older man to take him up, but
noting only a minute wince continued--"about a position, so I
thought I'd come and see you."

"There was a position," confessed Mr. Macy reluctantly, "but
since then we've filled it." He cleared his throat again.
"You've waited quite a while."

"Yes, I suppose I did. Everybody told me there was no hurry--and
I'd had these various offers."

Mr. Macy delivered a paragraph on present-day opportunities
which Dalyrimple's mind completely skipped.

"Have you had any business experience?"

"I worked on a ranch two summers as a rider."

"Oh, well," Mr. Macy disparaged this neatly, and then continued:
"What do you think you're worth?"

"I don't know."

"Well, Bryan, I tell you, I'm willing to strain a point and give
you a chance."

Dalyrimple nodded.

"Your salary won't be much. You'll start by learning the stock.
Then you'll come in the office for a while. Then you'll go on
the road. When could you begin?"

"How about to-morrow?"

"All right. Report to Mr. Hanson in the stock-room. He'll start
you off."

He continued to regard Dalyrimple steadily until the latter,
realizing that the interview was over, rose awkwardly.

"Well, Mr. Macy, I'm certainly much obliged."

"That's all right. Glad to help you, Bryan."

After an irresolute moment, Dalyrimple found himself in the
hall. His forehead was covered with perspiration, and the room
had not been hot.

"Why the devil did I thank the son of a gun?" he muttered.



III


Next morning Mr. Hanson informed him coldly of the necessity of
punching the time-clock at seven every morning, and delivered
him for instruction into the hands of a fellow worker, one
Charley Moore.

Charley was twenty-six, with that faint musk of weakness hanging
about him that is often mistaken for the scent of evil. It took
no psychological examiner to decide that he had drifted into
indulgence and laziness as casually as he had drifted into life,
and was to drift out. He was pale and his clothes stank of
smoke; he enjoyed burlesque shows, billiards, and Robert
Service, and was always looking back upon his last intrigue or
forward to his next one. In his youth his taste had run to loud
ties, but now it seemed to have faded, like his vitality, and
was expressed in pale-lilac four-in-hands and indeterminate
gray collars. Charley was listlessly struggling that losing
struggle against mental, moral, and physical anæmia that takes
place ceaselessly on the lower fringe of the middle classes.

The first morning he stretched himself on a row of cereal
cartons and carefully went over the limitations of the Theron
G. Macy Company.

"It's a piker organization. My Gosh! Lookit what they give me.
I'm quittin' in a coupla months. Hell! Me stay with this bunch!"

The Charley Moores are always going to change jobs next month.
They do, once or twice in their careers, after which they sit
around comparing their last job with the present one, to the
infinite disparagement of the latter.

"What do you get?" asked Dalyrimple curiously.

"Me? I get sixty." This rather defiantly.

"Did you start at sixty?"

"Me? No, I started at thirty-five. He told me he'd put me on the
road after I learned the stock. That's what he tells 'em all."

"How long've you been here?" asked Dalyrimple with a sinking
sensation.

"Me? Four years. My last year, too, you bet your boots."

Dalyrimple rather resented the presence of the store detective
as he resented the time-clock, and he came into contact with him
almost immediately through the rule against smoking. This rule
was a thorn in his side. He was accustomed to his three or four
cigarettes in a morning, and after three days without it he
followed Charley Moore by a circuitous route up a flight of back
stairs to a little balcony where they indulged in peace. But
this was not for long. One day in his second week the detective
met him in a nook of the stairs, on his descent, and told him
sternly that next time he'd be reported to Mr. Macy. Dalyrimple
felt like an errant schoolboy.

Unpleasant facts came to his knowledge. There were
"cave-dwellers" in the basement who had worked there for ten or
fifteen years at sixty dollars a month, rolling barrels and
carrying boxes through damp, cement-walled corridors, lost in
that echoing half-darkness between seven and five-thirty and,
like himself, compelled several times a month to work until nine
at night.

At the end of a month he stood in line and received forty
dollars. He pawned a cigarette-case and a pair of field-glasses
and managed to live--to eat, sleep, and smoke. It was, however,
a narrow scrape; as the ways and means of economy were a closed
book to him and the second month brought no increase, he voiced
his alarm.

"If you've got a drag with old Macy, maybe he'll raise you," was
Charley's disheartening reply. "But he didn't raise ME till I'd
been here nearly two years."

"I've got to live," said Dalyrimple simply. "I could get more
pay as a laborer on the railroad but, Golly, I want to feel I'm
where there's a chance to get ahead."

Charles shook his head sceptically and Mr. Macy's answer next
day was equally unsatisfactory.

Dalyrimple had gone to the office just before closing time.

"Mr. Macy, I'd like to speak to you."

"Why--yes." The unhumorous smile appeared. The voice was faintly
resentful.

"I want to speak to you in regard to more salary."

Mr. Macy nodded.

"Well," he said doubtfully, "I don't know exactly what you're
doing. I'll speak to Mr. Hanson."

He knew exactly what Dalyrimple was doing, and Dalyrimple knew
he knew.

"I'm in the stock-room--and, sir, while I'm here I'd like to
ask you how much longer I'll have to stay there."

"Why--I'm not sure exactly. Of course it takes some time to
learn the stock."

"You told me two months when I started."

"Yes. Well, I'll speak to Mr. Hanson."

Dalyrimple paused irresolute.

"Thank you, sir."

Two days later he again appeared in the office with the result
of a count that had been asked for by Mr. Hesse, the bookkeeper.
Mr. Hesse was engaged and Dalyrimple, waiting, began idly
fingering in a ledger on the stenographer's desk.

Half unconsciously he turned a page--he caught sight of his name
--it was a salary list:

     Dalyrimple
     Demming
     Donahoe
     Everett

His eyes stopped--

     Everett.........................$60

So Tom Everett, Macy's weak-chinned nephew, had started at sixty
--and in three weeks he had been out of the packing-room and
into the office.

So that was it! He was to sit and see man after man pushed over
him: sons, cousins, sons of friends, irrespective of their
capabilities, while HE was cast for a pawn, with "going on the
road" dangled before his eyes--put off with the stock remark:
"I'll see; I'll look into it." At forty, perhaps, he would be a
bookkeeper like old Hesse, tired, listless Hesse with a dull
routine for his stint and a dull background of boarding-house
conversation.

This was a moment when a genii should have pressed into his
hand the book for disillusioned young men. But the book has
not been written.

A great protest swelling into revolt surged up in him. Ideas
half forgotten, chaoticly perceived and assimilated, filled his
mind. Get on--that was the rule of life--and that was all. How
he did it, didn't matter--but to be Hesse or Charley Moore.

"I won't!" he cried aloud.

The bookkeeper and the stenographers looked up in surprise.

"What?"

For a second Dalyrimple stared--then walked up to the desk.

"Here's that data," he said brusquely. "I can't wait any longer."

Mr. Hesse's face expressed surprise.

It didn't matter what he did--just so he got out
of this rut. In a dream he stepped from the elevator into the
stock-room, and walking to an unused aisle, sat down on a box,
covering his face with his hands.

His brain was whirring with the frightful jar of discovering a
platitude for himself.

"I've got to get out of this," he said aloud and then repeated,
"I've got to get out"--and he didn't mean only out of Macy's
wholesale house.

When he left at five-thirty it was pouring rain, but he struck
off in the opposite direction from his boarding-house, feeling,
in the first cool moisture that oozed soggily through his old
suit, an odd exultation and freshness. He wanted a world that
was like walking through rain, even though he could not see far
ahead of him, but fate had put him in the world of Mr. Macy's
fetid storerooms and corridors. At first merely the overwhelming
need of change took him, then half-plans began to formulate in
his imagination.

"I'll go East--to a big city--meet people--bigger people--people
who'll help me. Interesting work somewhere. My God, there MUST
be."

With sickening truth it occurred to him that his facility for
meeting people was limited. Of all places it was here in his own
town that he should be known, was known--famous--before the water
of oblivion had rolled over him.

You had to cut corners, that was all. Pull--relationship--wealthy
marriages---

For several miles the continued reiteration of this preoccupied
him and then he perceived that the rain had become thicker and
more opaque in the heavy gray of twilight and that the houses
were falling away. The district of full blocks, then of big
houses, then of scattering little ones, passed and great sweeps
of misty country opened out on both sides. It was hard walking
here. The sidewalk had given place to a dirt road, streaked with
furious brown rivulets that splashed and squashed around his
shoes.

Cutting corners--the words began to fall apart, forming curious
phrasings--little illuminated pieces of themselves. They
resolved into sentences, each of which had a strangely familiar
ring.

Cutting corners meant rejecting the old childhood principles
that success came from faithfulness to duty, that evil was
necessarily punished or virtue necessarily rewarded--that honest
poverty was happier than corrupt riches.

It meant being hard.

This phrase appealed to him and he repeated it over and over.
It had to do somehow with Mr. Macy and Charley Moore--the
attitudes, the methods of each of them.

He stopped and felt his clothes. He was drenched to the skin. He
looked about him and, selecting a place in the fence where a
tree sheltered it, perched himself there.

In my credulous years--he thought--they told me that evil was a
sort of dirty hue, just as definite as a soiled collar, but it
seems to me that evil is only a manner of hard luck, or
heredity-and-environment, or "being found out." It hides in the
vacillations of dubs like Charley Moore as certainly as it does
in the intolerance of Macy, and if it ever gets much more
tangible it becomes merely an arbitrary label to paste on the
unpleasant things in other people's lives.

In fact--he concluded--it isn't worth worrying over what's evil
and what isn't. Good and evil aren't any standard to me--and
they can be a devil of a bad hindrance when I want something.
When I want something bad enough, common sense tells me to go
and take it--and not get caught.

And then suddenly Dalyrimple knew what he wanted first. He
wanted fifteen dollars to pay his overdue board bill.

With a furious energy he jumped from the fence, whipped off his
coat, and from its black lining cut with his knife a piece about
five inches square. He made two holes near its edge and then
fixed it on his face, pulling his hat down to hold it in place.
It flapped grotesquely and then dampened and clung clung to his
forehead and cheeks.

Now . . . The twilight had merged to dripping dusk . . . black
as pitch. He began to walk quickly back toward town, not waiting
to remove the mask but watching the road with difficulty through
the jagged eye-holes. He was not conscious of any nervousness
. . . the only tension was caused by a desire to do the thing as
soon as possible.

He reached the first sidewalk, continued on until he saw a hedge
far from any lamp-post, and turned in behind it. Within a minute
he heard several series of footsteps--he waited--it was a woman
and he held his breath until she passed . . . and then a man,
a laborer. The next passer, he felt, would be what he wanted
. . . the laborer's footfalls died far up the drenched street
. . . other steps grew nears grew suddenly louder.

Dalyrimple braced himself.

"Put up your hands!"

The man stopped, uttered an absurd little grunt, and thrust
pudgy arms skyward.

Dalyrimple went through the waistcoat.

"Now, you shrimp," he said, setting his hand suggestively to
his own hip pocket, "you run, and stamp--loud! If I hear your
feet stop I'll put a shot after you!"

Then he stood there in sudden uncontrollable laughter as
audibly frightened footsteps scurried away into the night.

After a moment he thrust the roll of bills into his pocket,
snatched off his mask, and running quickly across the street,
darted down an alley.



IV


Yet, however Dalyrimple justified himself intellectually, he had
many bad moments in the weeks immediately following his decision.
The tremendous pressure of sentiment and inherited ambition kept
raising riot with his attitude. He felt morally lonely.

The noon after his first venture he ate in a little lunch-room
with Charley Moore and, watching him unspread the paper, waited
for a remark about the hold-up of the day before. But either the
hold-up was not mentioned or Charley wasn't interested. He
turned listlessly to the sporting sheet, read Doctor Crane's
crop of seasoned bromides, took in an editorial on ambition with
his mouth slightly ajar, and then skipped to Mutt and Jeff.

Poor Charley--with his faint aura of evil and his mind that
refused to focus, playing a lifeless solitaire with cast-off
mischief.

Yet Charley belonged on the other side of the fence. In him
could be stirred up all the flamings and denunciations of
righteousness; he would weep at a stage heroine's lost virtue,
he could become lofty and contemptuous at the idea of dishonor.

On my side, thought Dalyrimple, there aren't any resting-places;
a man who's a strong criminal is after the weak criminals as
well, so it's all guerilla warfare over here.

What will it all do to me? he thought with a persistent
weariness. Will it take the color out of life with the honor?
Will it scatter my courage and dull my mind?--despiritualize me
completely--does it mean eventual barrenness, eventual remorse,
failure?

With a great surge of anger, he would fling his mind upon the
barrier--and stand there with the flashing bayonet of his pride.
Other men who broke the laws of justice and charity lied to all
the world. He at any rate would not lie to himself. He was more
than Byronic now: not the spiritual rebel, Don Juan; not the
philosophical rebel, Faust; but a new psychological rebel of his
own century--defying the sentimental a priori forms of his own
mind---

Happiness was what he wanted--a slowly rising scale of
gratifications of the normal appetites--and he had a strong
conviction that the materials, if not the inspiration of
happiness, could be bought with money.



V


The night came that drew him out upon his second venture, and
as he walked the dark street he felt in himself a great
resemblance to a cat--a certain supple, swinging litheness. His
muscles were rippling smoothly and sleekly under his spare,
healthy flesh--he had an absurd desire to bound along the
street, to run dodging among trees, to turn "cart-wheels" over
soft grass.

It was not crisp, but in the air lay a faint suggestion of
acerbity, inspirational rather than chilling.

"The moon is down--I have not heard the clock!"

He laughed in delight at the line which an early memory had
endowed with a hushed awesome beauty.

He passed a man and then another a quarter of mile afterward.

He was on Philmore Street now and it was very dark. He blessed
the city council for not having put in new lamp-posts as a
recent budget had recommended. Here was the red-brick Sterner
residence which marked the beginning of the avenue; here was the
Jordon house, the Eisenhaurs', the Dents', the Markhams', the
Frasers'; the Hawkins', where he had been a guest; the
Willoughbys', the Everett's, colonial and ornate; the little
cottage where lived the Watts old maids between the imposing
fronts of the Macys' and the Krupstadts'; the Craigs--

Ah . . . THERE! He paused, wavered violently--far up the street
was a blot, a man walking, possibly a policeman. After an
eternal second be found himself following the vague, ragged
shadow of a lamp-post across a lawn, running bent very low.
Then he was standing tense, without breath or need of it, in the
shadow of his limestone prey.

Interminably he listened--a mile off a cat howled, a hundred
yards away another took up the hymn in a demoniacal snarl, and
he felt his heart dip and swoop, acting as shock-absorber for
his mind. There were other sounds; the faintest fragment of song
far away; strident, gossiping laughter from a back porch
diagonally across the alley; and crickets, crickets singing in
the patched, patterned, moonlit grass of the yard. Within the
house there seemed to lie an ominous silence. He was glad he did
not know who lived here.

His slight shiver hardened to steel; the steel softened and his
nerves became pliable as leather; gripping his hands he
gratefully found them supple, and taking out knife and pliers he
went to work on the screen.

So sure was he that he was unobserved that, from the dining-room
where in a minute he found himself, he leaned out and carefully
pulled the screen up into position, balancing it so it would
neither fall by chance nor be a serious obstacle to a sudden
exit.

Then he put the open knife in his coat pocket, took out his
pocket-flash, and tiptoed around the room.

There was nothing here he could use--the dining-room had never
been included in his plans for the town was too small to permit
disposing of silver.

As a matter of fact his plans were of the vaguest. He had found
that with a mind like his, lucrative in intelligence, intuition,
and lightning decision, it was best to have but the skeleton of
a campaign. The machine-gun episode had taught him that. And he
was afraid that a method preconceived would give him two points
of view in a crisis--and two points of view meant wavering.

He stumbled slightly on a chair, held his breath, listened, went
on, found the hall, found the stairs, started up; the seventh
stair creaked at his step, the ninth, the fourteenth. He was
counting them automatically. At the third creak he paused again
for over a minute--and in that minute he felt more alone than he
had ever felt before. Between the lines on patrol, even when
alone, he had had behind him the moral support of half a billion
people; now he was alone, pitted against that same moral
pressure--a bandit. He had never felt this fear, yet he had
never felt this exultation.

The stairs came to an end, a doorway approached; he went in and
listened to regular breathing. His feet were economical of steps
and his body swayed sometimes at stretching as he felt over the
bureau, pocketing all articles which held promise--he could not
have enumerated them ten seconds afterward. He felt on a chair
for possible trousers, found soft garments, women's lingerie.
The corners of his mouth smiled mechanically.

Another room . . . the same breathing, enlivened by one ghastly
snort that sent his heart again on its tour of his breast. Round
object--watch; chain; roll of bills; stick-pins; two rings--he
remembered that he had got rings from the other bureau. He
started out winced as a faint glow flashed in front of him,
facing him. God!--it was the glow of his own wrist-watch on his
outstretched arm.

Down the stairs. He skipped two crumbing steps but found
another. He was all right now, practically safe; as he neared
the bottom he felt a slight boredom. He reached the dining-room
--considered the silver--again decided against it.

Back in his room at the boarding-house he examined the additions
to his personal property:

Sixty-five dollars in bills.

A platinum ring with three medium diamonds, worth, probably,
about seven hundred dollars. Diamonds were going up.

A cheap gold-plated ring with the initials O. S. and the date
inside--'03--probably a class-ring from school. Worth a few
dollars. Unsalable.

A red-cloth case containing a set of false teeth.

A silver watch.

A gold chain worth more than the watch.

An empty ring-box.

A little ivory Chinese god--probably a desk ornament.

A dollar and sixty-two cents in small change.

He put the money under his pillow and the other things in the
toe of an infantry boot, stuffing a stocking in on top of them.
Then for two hours his mind raced like a high-power engine here
and there through his life, past and future, through fear and
laughter. With a vague, inopportune wish that he were married,
he fell into a deep sleep about half past five.



VI


Though the newspaper account of the burglary failed to mention
the false teeth, they worried him considerably.  The picture of
a human waking in the cool dawn and groping for them in vain,
of a soft, toothless breakfast, of a strange, hollow, lisping
voice calling the police station, of weary, dispirited visits
to the dentist, roused a great fatherly pity in him.

Trying to ascertain whether they belonged to a man or a woman,
he took them carefully out of the case and held them up near
his mouth. He moved his own jaws experimentally; he measured
with his fingers; but he failed to decide: they might belong
either to a large-mouthed woman or a small-mouthed man.

On a warm impulse he wrapped them in brown paper from the
bottom of his army trunk, and printed FALSE TEETH on the
package in clumsy pencil letters. Then, the next night, he
walked down Philmore Street, and shied the package onto the
lawn so that it would be near the door. Next day the paper
announced that the police had a clew--they knew that the
burglar was in town. However, they didn't mention what the
clew was.



VII


At the end of a month "Burglar Bill of the Silver District
was the nurse-girl's standby for frightening children. Five
burglaries were attributed to him, but though Dalyrimple had
only committed three, he considered that majority had it and
appropriated the title to himself. He had once been seen--"a
large bloated creature with the meanest face you ever laid eyes
on." Mrs. Henry Coleman, awaking at two o'clock at the beam of
an electric torch flashed in her eye, could not have been
expected to recognize Bryan Dalyrimple at whom she had waved
flags last Fourth of July, and whom she had described as "not
at all the daredevil type, do you think?"

When Dalyrimple kept his imagination at white heat he managed to
glorify his own attitude, his emancipation from petty scruples
and remorses--but let him once allow his thought to rove
unarmored, great unexpected horrors and depressions would
overtake him. Then for reassurance he had to go back to think
out the whole thing over again. He found that it was on the
whole better to give up considering himself as a rebel. It was
more consoling to think of every one else as a fool.

His attitude toward Mr. Macy underwent a change. He no longer
felt a dim animosity and inferiority in his presence. As his
fourth month in the store ended he found himself regarding his
employer in a manner that was almost fraternal.  He had a vague
but very assured conviction that Mr. Macy's innermost soul would
have abetted and approved. He no longer worried about his
future. He had the intention of accumulating several thousand
dollars and then clearing out--going east, back to France, down
to South America. Half a dozen times in the last two months he
had been about to stop work, but a fear of attracting attention
to his being in funds prevented him. So he worked on, no longer
in listlessness, but with contemptuous amusement.



VIII


Then with astounding suddenness something happened that changed
his plans and put an end to his burglaries.

Mr. Macy sent for him one afternoon and with a great show of
jovial mystery asked him if he had an engagement that night. If
he hadn't, would he please call on Mr. Alfred J. Fraser at eight
o'clock. Dalyrimple's wonder was mingled with uncertainty. He
debated with himself whether it were not his cue to take the
first train out of town. But an hour's consideration decided him
that his fears were unfounded and at eight o'clock he arrived at
the big Fraser house in Philmore Avenue.

Mr. Fraser was commonly supposed to be the biggest political
influence in the city. His brother was Senator Fraser, his
son-in-law was Congressman Demming, and his influence, though not
wielded in such a way as to make him an objectionable boss, was
strong nevertheless.

He had a great, huge face, deep-set eyes, and a barn-door of an
upper lip, the melange approaching a worthy climax in a long
professional jaw.

During his conversation with Dalyrimple his expression kept
starting toward a smile, reached a cheerful optimism, and then
receded back to imperturbability.

"How do you do, sir?" he laid, holding out his hand. "Sit down.
I suppose you're wondering why I wanted you. Sit down."

Dalyrimple sat down.

"Mr. Dalyrimple, how old are you?"

"I'm twenty-three."

"You're young. But that doesn't mean you're foolish. Mr.
Dalyrimple, what I've got to say won't take long. I'm going to
make you a proposition. To begin at the beginning, I've been
watching you ever since last Fourth of July when you made that
speech in response to the loving-cup."

Dalyrimple murmured disparagingly, but Fraser waved him to
silence.

"It was a speech I've remembered. It was a brainy speech,
straight from the shoulder, and it got to everybody in that
crowd. I know. I've watched crowds for years." He cleared his
throat as if tempted to digress on his knowledge of crowds--then
continued. "But, Mr. Dalyrimple, I've seen too many young men
who promised brilliantly go to pieces, fail through want of
steadiness, too many high-power ideas, and not enough
willingness to work. So I waited. I wanted to see what you'd
do. I wanted to see if you'd go to work, and if you'd stick to
what you started."

Dalyrimple felt a glow settle over him.

"So," continued Fraser, "when Theron Macy told me you'd started
down at his place, I kept watching you, and I followed your
record through him.  The first month I was afraid for awhile.
He told me you were getting restless, too good for your job,
hinting around for a raise---"

Dalyrimple started.

"---But he said after that you evidently made up your mind to
shut up and stick to it. That's the stuff I like in a young man!
That's the stuff that wins out. And don't think I don't
understand. I know how much harder it was for you after all that
silly flattery a lot of old women had been giving you. I know
what a fight it must have been---"

Dalyrimple's face was burning brightly. It felt young and
strangely ingenuous.

"Dalyrimple, you've got brains and you've got the stuff in you--
and that's what I want. I'm going to put you into the State
Senate."

"The WHAT?"

"The State Senate. We want a young man who has got brains, but
is solid and not a loafer. And when I say State Senate I don't
stop there. We're up against it here, Dalyrimple. We've got to
get some young men into politics--you know the old blood that's
been running on the party ticket year in and year out."

Dalyrimple licked his lips.

"You'll run me for the State Senate?"

"I'll PUT you in the State Senate."

Mr. Fraser's expression had now reached the
point nearest a smile and Dalyrimple in a happy frivolity felt
himself urging it mentally on--but it stopped, locked, and slid
from him. The barn-door and the jaw were separated by a line
strait as a nail.  Dalyrimple remembered with an effort that it
was a mouth, and talked to it.

"But I'm through," he said.  "My notoriety's dead.  People are
fed up with me."

"Those things," answered Mr. Fraser, "are mechanical.  Linotype
is a resuscitator of reputations.  Wait till you see the HERALD,
beginning next week--that is if you're with us--that is," and
his voice hardened slightly, "if you haven't got too many ideas
yourself about how things ought to be run."

"No," said Dalyrimple, looking him frankly in the eye.  "You'll
have to give me a lot of advice at first."

"Very well.  I'll take care of your reputation then.  Just keep
yourself on the right side of the fence."

Dalyrimple started at this repetition of a phrase he had thought
of so much lately.  There was a sudden ring at the door-bell.

"That's Macy now," observed Fraser, rising.  "I'll go let him in.
The servants have gone to bed."

He left Dalyrimple there in a dream.  The world was opening up
suddenly-- The State Senate, the United States Senate--so life
was this after all--cutting corners--common sense, that was the
rule.  No more foolish risks now unless necessity called--but it
was being hard that counted-- Never to let remorse or
self-reproach lose him a night's sleep--let his life be a sword of
courage--there was no payment--all that was drivel--drivel.

He sprang to his feet with clinched hands in a sort of triumph.

"Well, Bryan," said Mr. Macy stepping through the portières.

The two older men smiled their half-smiles at him.

"Well Bryan," said Mr. Macy again.

Dalyrimple smiled also.

"How do, Mr. Macy?"

He wondered if some telepathy between them had made this new
appreciation possible--some invisible realization. . . .

Mr. Macy held out his hand.

"I'm glad we're to be associated in this scheme--I've been for
you all along--especially lately. I'm glad we're to be on the
same side of the fence."

"I want to thank you, sir," said Dalyrimple simply. He felt a
whimsical moisture gathering back of his eyes.



The Four Fists



At the present time no one I know has the slightest desire to
hit Samuel Meredith; possibly this is because a man over fifty
is liable to be rather severely cracked at the impact of a
hostile fist, but, for my part, I am inclined to think that all
his hitable qualities have quite vanished. But it is certain
that at various times in his life hitable qualities were in his
face, as surely as kissable qualities have ever lurked in a
girl's lips.

I'm sure every one has met a man like that, been casually
introduced, even made a friend of him, yet felt he was the sort
who aroused passionate dislike--expressed by some in the
involuntary clinching of fists, and in others by mutterings
about "takin' a poke" and "landin' a swift smash in ee eye." In
the juxtaposition of Samuel Meredith's features this quality was
so strong that it influenced his entire life.

What was it? Not the shape, certainly, for he was a pleasant-looking
man from earliest youth: broad-bowed with gray eyes that
were frank and friendly. Yet I've heard him tell a room full of
reporters angling for a "success" story that he'd be ashamed to
tell them the truth that they wouldn't believe it, that it
wasn't one story but four, that the public would not want to
read about a man who had been walloped into prominence.

It all started at Phillips Andover Academy when he was fourteen.
He had been brought up on a diet of caviar and bell-boys' legs
in half the capitals of Europe, and it was pure luck that his
mother had nervous prostration and had to delegate his education
to less tender, less biassed hands.

At Andover he was given a roommate named Gilly Hood. Gilly was
thirteen, undersized, and rather the school pet. From the
September day when Mr. Meredith's valet stowed Samuel's clothing
in the best bureau and asked, on departing, "hif there was
hanything helse, Master Samuel?" Gilly cried out that the
faculty had played him false. He felt like an irate frog in
whose bowl has been put goldfish.

"Good gosh!" he complained to his sympathetic contemporaries,
"he's a damn stuck-up Willie. He said, 'Are the crowd here
gentlemen?' and I said, 'No, they're boys,' and he said age
didn't matter, and I said, 'Who said it did?' Let him get fresh
with me, the ole pieface!"

For three weeks Gilly endured in silence young Samuel's comments
on the clothes and habits of Gilly's personal friends, endured
French phrases in conversation, endured a hundred half-feminine
meannesses that show what a nervous mother can do to a boy, if
she keeps close enough to him--then a storm broke in the aquarium.

Samuel was out. A crowd had gathered to hear Gilly be wrathful
about his roommate's latest sins.

"He said, 'Oh, I don't like the windows open at night,' he said,
'except only a little bit,'" complained Gilly.

"Don't let him boss you."

"Boss me?  You bet he won't.  I open those windows, I guess, but
the darn fool won't take turns shuttin' 'em in the morning."

"Make him, Gilly, why don't you?"

"I'm going to."  Gilly nodded his head in fierce agreement.
"Don't you worry.  He needn't think I'm any ole butler."

"Le's see you make him."

At this point the darn fool entered in person and included the
crowd in one of his irritating smiles.  Two boys said, "'Lo,
Mer'dith"; the others gave him a chilly glance and went on talking
to Gilly.  But Samuel seemed unsatisfied.

"Would you mind not sitting on my bed?" he suggested politely to
two of Gilly's particulars who were perched very much at ease.

"Huh?"

"My bed.  Can't you understand English?"

This was adding insult to injury.  There were several comments on
the bed's sanitary condition and the evidence within it of animal
life.

"S'matter with your old bed?" demanded Gilly truculently.

"The bed's all right, but---"

Gilly interrupted this sentence by rising and walking up to
Samuel. He paused several inches away and eyed him fiercely.

"You an' your crazy ole bed," he began. "You an' your crazy---"

"Go to it, Gilly," murmured some one.

"Show the darn fool--"

Samuel returned the gaze coolly.

"Well," he said finally, "it's my bed--"

He got no further, for Gilly hauled off and hit him succinctly in
the nose.

"Yea! Gilly!"

"Show the big bully!"

"Just let him touch you--he'll see!"

The group closed in on them and for the first time in his life
Samuel realized the insuperable inconvenience of being
passionately detested. He gazed around helplessly at the
glowering, violently hostile faces. He towered a head taller
than his roommate, so if he hit back he'd be called a bully and
have half a dozen more fights on his hands within five minutes;
yet if he didn't he was a coward. For a moment he stood there
facing Gilly's blazing eyes, and then, with a sudden choking
sound, he forced his way through the ring and rushed from the
room.

The month following bracketed the thirty most miserable days of
his life. Every waking moment he was under the lashing tongues
of his contemporaries; his habits and mannerisms became butts
for intolerable witticisms and, of course, the sensitiveness of
adolescence was a further thorn. He considered that he was a
natural pariah; that the unpopularity at school would follow him
through life. When he went home for the Christmas holidays he
was so despondent that his father sent him to a nerve
specialist. When he returned to Andover he arranged to arrive
late so that he could be alone in the bus during the drive from
station to school.

Of course when he had learned to keep his mouth shut every one
promptly forgot all about him. The next autumn, with his
realization that consideration for others was the discreet
attitude, he made good use of the clean start given him by the
shortness of boyhood memory. By the beginning of his senior year
Samuel Meredith was one of the best-liked boys of his class--and
no one was any stronger for him than his first friend and
constant companion, Gilly Hood.



II


Samuel became the sort of college student who in the early
nineties drove tandems and coaches and tallyhos between
Princeton and Yale and New York City to show that they
appreciated the social importance of football games. He believed
passionately in good form--his choosing of gloves, his tying of
ties, his holding of reins were imitated by impressionable
freshmen. Outside of his own set he was considered rather a
snob, but as his set was THE set, it never worried him. He
played football in the autumn, drank high-balls in the winter,
and rowed in the spring. Samuel despised all those who were
merely sportsmen without being gentlemen or merely gentlemen
without being sportsmen.

He lived in New York and often brought home several of his
friends for the week-end. Those were the days of the horse-car
and in case of a crush it was, of course, the proper thing for
any one of Samuel's set to rise and deliver his seat to a
standing lady with a formal bow. One night in Samuel's junior
year he boarded a car with two of his intimates. There were
three vacant seats. When Samuel sat down he noticed a heavy-eyed
laboring man sitting next to him who smelt objectionably of
garlic, sagged slightly against Samuel and, spreading a little
as a tired man will, took up quite too much room.

The car had gone several blocks when it stopped for a quartet of
young girls, and, of course, the three men of the world sprang
to their feet and proffered their seats with due observance of
form. Unfortunately, the laborer, being unacquainted with the
code of neckties and tallyhos, failed to follow their example,
and one young lady was left at an embarrassed stance. Fourteen
eyes glared reproachfully at the barbarian; seven lips curled
slightly; but the object of scorn stared stolidly into the
foreground in sturdy unconsciousness of his despicable conduct.
Samuel was the most violently affected. He was humiliated that
any male should so conduct himself. He spoke aloud.

"There's a lady standing," he said sternly.

That should have been quite enough, but the object of scorn only
looked up blankly. The standing girl tittered and exchanged
nervous glances with her companions. But Samuel was aroused.

"There's a lady standing," he repeated, rather raspingly. The
man seemed to comprehend.

"I pay my fare," he said quietly.

Samuel turned red and his hands clinched, but the conductor was
looking their way, so at a warning nod from his friends he
subsided into sullen gloom.

They reached their destination and left the car, but so did the
laborer, who followed them, swinging his little pail. Seeing his
chance, Samuel no longer resisted his aristocratic inclination.
He turned around and, launching a full-featured, dime-novel
sneer, made a loud remark about the right of the lower animals
to ride with human beings.

In a half-second the workman had dropped his pail and let fly at
him. Unprepared, Samuel took the blow neatly on the jaw and
sprawled full length into the cobblestone gutter.

"Don't laugh at me!" cried his assailant. "I been workin' all
day. I'm tired as hell!"

As he spoke the sudden anger died out of his eyes and the mask
of weariness dropped again over his face. He turned and picked
up his pail. Samuel's friends took a quick step in his direction.

"Wait!" Samuel had risen slowly and was motioning back. Some
time, somewhere, he had been struck like that before. Then he
remembered--Gilly Hood. In the silence, as he dusted himself
off, the whole scene in the room at Andover was before his eyes--
and he knew intuitively that he had been wrong again.  This
man's strength, his rest, was the protection of his family. He
had more use for his seat in the street-car than any young girl.

"It's all right," said Samuel gruffly. "Don't touch 'him. I've
been a damn fool."

Of course it took more than an hour, or a week, for Samuel to
rearrange his ideas on the essential importance of good form. At
first he simply admitted that his wrongness had made him
powerless--as it had made him powerless against Gilly--but
eventually his mistake about the workman influenced his entire
attitude. Snobbishness is, after all, merely good breeding grown
dictatorial; so Samuel's code remained but the necessity of
imposing it upon others had faded out in a certain gutter.
Within that year his class had somehow stopped referring to him
as a snob.



III


After a few years Samuel's university decided that it had shone
long enough in the reflected glory of his neckties, so they
declaimed to him in Latin, charged him ten dollars for the paper
which proved him irretrievably educated, and sent him into the
turmoil with much self-confidence, a few friends, and the proper
assortment of harmless bad habits.

His family had by that time started back to shirt-sleeves,
through a sudden decline in the sugar-market, and it had already
unbuttoned its vest, so to speak, when Samuel went to work. His
mind was that exquisite TABULA RASA that a university education
sometimes leaves, but he had both energy and influence, so he
used his former ability as a dodging half-back in twisting
through Wall Street crowds as runner for a bank.

His diversion was--women. There were half a dozen: two or three
débutantes, an actress (in a minor way), a grass-widow, and one
sentimental little brunette who was married and lived in a
little house in Jersey City.

They had met on a ferry-boat. Samuel was crossing from New York
on business (he had been working several years by this time) and
he helped her look for a package that she had dropped in the crush.

"Do you come over often?" he inquired casually.

"Just to shop," she said shyly. She had great brown eyes and the
pathetic kind of little mouth. "I've only been married three
months, and we find it cheaper to live over here."

"Does he--does your husband like your being alone like this?"

She laughed, a cheery young laugh.

"Oh, dear me, no. We were to meet for dinner but I must have
misunderstood the place. He'll be awfully worried."

"Well," said Samuel disapprovingly, "he ought to be. If you'll
allow me I'll see you home."

She accepted his offer thankfully, so they took the cable-car
together. When they walked up the path to her little house they
saw a light there; her husband had arrived before her.

"He's frightfully jealous," she announced, laughingly apologetic.

"Very well," answered Samuel, rather stiffly. "I'd better leave
you here."

She thanked him and, waving a good night, he left her.

That would have been quite all if they hadn't met on Fifth
Avenue one morning a week later. She started and blushed and
seemed so glad to see him that they chatted like old friends.
She was going to her dressmaker's, eat lunch alone at Taine's,
shop all afternoon, and meet her husband on the ferry at five.
Samuel told her that her husband was a very lucky man. She
blushed again and scurried off.

Samuel whistled all the way back to his office, but about twelve
o'clock he began to see that pathetic, appealing little mouth
everywhere--and those brown eyes. He fidgeted when he looked at
the clock; he thought of the grill down-stairs where he lunched
and the heavy male conversation thereof, and opposed to that
picture appeared another; a little table at Taine's with the
brown eyes and the mouth a few feet away. A few minutes before
twelve-thirty he dashed on his hat and rushed for the cable-car.

She was quite surprised to see him.

"Why--hello," she said. Samuel could tell that she was just
pleasantly frightened.

"I thought we might lunch together. It's so dull eating with a
lot of men."

She hesitated.

"Why, I suppose there's no harm in it. How could there be!"

It occurred to her that her husband should have taken lunch with
her--but he was generally so hurried at noon. She told Samuel
all about him: he was a little smaller than Samuel, but, oh,
MUCH better-looking. He was a book-keeper and not making a lot
of money, but they were very happy and expected to be rich
within three or four years.

Samuel's grass-widow had been in a quarrelsome mood for three or
four weeks, and through contrast, he took an accentuated
pleasure in this meeting; so fresh was she, and earnest, and
faintly adventurous. Her name was Marjorie.

They made another engagement; in fact, for a month they lunched
together two or three times a week. When she was sure that her
husband would work late Samuel took her over to New Jersey on
the ferry, leaving her always on the tiny front porch, after
she had gone in and lit the gas to use the security of his
masculine presence outside. This grew to be a ceremony--and it
annoyed him. Whenever the comfortable glow fell out through the
front windows, that was his CONGÉ; yet he never suggested coming
in and Marjorie didn't invite him.

Then, when Samuel and Marjorie had reached a stage in which they
sometimes touched each other's arms gently, just to show that
they were very good friends, Marjorie and her husband had one of
those ultrasensitive, supercritical quarrels that couples never
indulge in unless they care a great deal about each other. It
started with a cold mutton-chop or a leak in the gas-jet--and
one day Samuel found her in Taine's, with dark shadows under her
brown eyes and a terrifying pout.

By this time Samuel thought he was in love with Marjorie--so he
played up the quarrel for all it was worth. He was her best
friend and patted her hand--and leaned down close to her brown
curls while she whispered in little sobs what her husband had
said that morning; and he was a little more than her best friend
when he took her over to the ferry in a hansom.

"Marjorie," he said gently, when he left her, as usual, on the
porch, "if at any time you want to call on me, remember that I
am always waiting, always waiting."

She nodded gravely and put both her hands in his. "I know," she
said. "I know you're my friend, my best friend."

Then she ran into the house and he watched there until the gas
went on.

For the next week Samuel was in a nervous turmoil. Some
persistently rational strain warned him that at bottom he and
Marjorie had little in common, but in such cases there is
usually so much mud in the water that one can seldom see to the
bottom. Every dream and desire told him that he loved Marjorie,
wanted her, had to have her.

The quarrel developed. Marjorie's husband took to staying in New
York until late at night, came home several times disagreeably
overstimulated, and made her generally miserable. They must have
had too much pride to talk it out--for Marjorie's husband was,
after all, pretty decent--so it drifted on from one
misunderstanding to another. Marjorie kept coming more and more
to Samuel; when a woman can accept masculine sympathy at is much
more satisfactory to her than crying to another girl. But
Marjorie didn't realize how much she had begun to rely on him,
how much he was part of her little cosmos.

One night, instead of turning away when Marjorie went in and lit
the gas, Samuel went in, too, and they sat together on the sofa
in the little parlor. He was very happy. He envied their home,
and he felt that the man who neglected such a possession out of
stubborn pride was a fool and unworthy of his wife. But when he
kissed Marjorie for the first time she cried softly and told him
to go. He sailed home on the wings of desperate excitement,
quite resolved to fan this spark of romance, no matter how big
the blaze or who was burned. At the time he considered that his
thoughts were unselfishly of her; in a later perspective he knew
that she had meant no more than the white screen in a motion
picture: it was just Samuel--blind, desirous.

Next day at Taine's, when they met for lunch, Samuel dropped all
pretense and made frank love to her. He had no plans, no
definite intentions, except to kiss her lips again, to hold her
in his arms and feel that she was very little and pathetic and
lovable. . . . He took her home, and this time they kissed until
both their hearts beat high--words and phrases formed on his lips.

And then suddenly there were steps on the porch--a hand tried
the outside door. Marjorie turned dead-white.

"Wait!" she whispered to Samuel, in a frightened voice, but in
angry impatience at the interruption he walked to the front door
and threw it open.

Every one has seen such scenes on the stage--seen them so often
that when they actually happen people behave very much like
actors. Samuel felt that he was playing a part and the lines
came quite naturally: he announced that all had a right to lead
their own lives and looked at Marjorie's husband menacingly, as
if daring him to doubt it. Marjorie's husband spoke of the
sanctity of the home, forgetting that it hadn't seemed very holy
to him lately; Samuel continued along the line of "the right to
happiness"; Marjorie's husband mentioned firearms and the
divorce court. Then suddenly he stopped and scrutinized both of
them--Marjorie in pitiful collapse on the sofa, Samuel
haranguing the furniture in a consciously heroic pose.

"Go up-stairs, Marjorie," he said, in a different tone.

"Stay where you are!" Samuel countered quickly.

Marjorie rose, wavered, and sat down, rose again and moved
hesitatingly toward the stairs.

"Come outside," said her husband to Samuel. "I want to talk to
you."

Samuel glanced at Marjorie, tried to get some message from her
eyes; then he shut his lips and went out.

There was a bright moon and when Marjorie's husband came down
the steps Samuel could see plainly that he was suffering--but
he felt no pity for him.

They stood and looked at each other, a few feet apart, and the
husband cleared his throat as though it were a bit husky.

"That's my wife," he said quietly, and then a wild anger surged
up inside him.  "Damn you!" he cried--and hit Samuel in the
face with all his strength.

In that second, as Samuel slumped to the ground, it flashed to
him that he had been hit like that twice before, and
simultaneously the incident altered like a dream--he felt
suddenly awake.  Mechanically he sprang to his feet and squared
off.  The other man was waiting, fists up, a yard away, but
Samuel knew that though physically he had him by several inches
and many pounds, he wouldn't hit him. The situation had
miraculously and entirely changed--a moment before Samuel had
seemed to himself heroic; now he seemed the cad, the outsider,
and Marjorie's husband, silhouetted against the lights of the
little house, the eternal heroic figure, the defender of his home.

There was a pause and then Samuel turned quickly away and went
down the path for the last time.



IV


Of course, after the third blow Samuel put in several weeks at
conscientious introspection. The blow years before at Andover
had landed on his personal unpleasantness; the workman of his
college days had jarred the snobbishness out of his system, and
Marjorie's husband had given a severe jolt to his greedy
selfishness. It threw women out of his ken until a year later,
when he met his future wife; for the only sort of woman worth
while seemed to be the one who could be protected as Marjorie's
husband had protected her. Samuel could not imagine his grass-widow,
Mrs. De Ferriac, causing any very righteous blows on her
own account.

His early thirties found him well on his feet. He was associated
with old Peter Carhart, who was in those days a national figure.
Carhart's physique was like a rough model for a statue of
Hercules, and his record was just as solid--a pile made for the
pure joy of it, without cheap extortion or shady scandal. He had
been a great friend of Samuel's father, but he watched the son
for six years before taking him into his own office. Heaven
knows how many things he controlled at that time--mines,
railroads, banks, whole cities. Samuel was very close to him,
knew his likes and dislikes, his prejudices, weaknesses and
many strengths.

One day Carhart sent for Samuel and, closing the door of his
inner office, offered him a chair and a cigar.

"Everything O. K., Samuel?" he asked.

"Why, yes."

"I've been afraid you're getting a bit stale."

"Stale?" Samuel was puzzled.

"You've done no work outside the office for nearly ten years?"

"But I've had vacations, in the Adiron---"

Carhart waved this aside.

"I mean outside work. Seeing the things move that we've always
pulled the strings of here."

"No," admitted Samuel; "I haven't."

"So," he said abruptly "I'm going to give you an outside job
that'll take about a month."

Samuel didn't argue. He rather liked the idea and he made up his
mind that, whatever it was, he would put it through just as
Carhart wanted it. That was his employer's greatest hobby, and
the men around him were as dumb under direct orders as infantry
subalterns.

"You'll go to San Antonio and see Hamil," continued Carhart.
"He's got a job on hand and he wants a man to take charge."

Hamil was in charge of the Carhart interests in the Southwest, a
man who had grown up in the shadow of his employer, and with
whom, though they had never met, Samuel had had much official
correspondence.

"When do I leave?"

"You'd better go to-morrow," answered Carhart, glancing at the
calendar. "That's the 1st of May. I'll expect your report here on
the 1st of June."

Next morning Samuel left for Chicago, and two days later he was
facing Hamil across a table in the office of the Merchants'
Trust in San Antonio. It didn't take long to get the gist of the
thing. It was a big deal in oil which concerned the buying up of
seventeen huge adjoining ranches. This buying up had to be done
in one week, and it was a pure squeeze. Forces had been set in
motion that put the seventeen owners between the devil and the
deep sea, and Samuel's part was simply to "handle" the matter
from a little village near Pueblo. With tact and efficiency the
right man could bring it off without any friction, for it was
merely a question of sitting at the wheel and keeping a firm
hold. Hamil, with an astuteness many times valuable to his
chief, had arranged a situation that would give a much greater
clear gain than any dealing in the open market. Samuel shook
hands with Hamil, arranged to return in two weeks, and left for
San Felipe, New Mexico.

It occurred to him, of course, that Carhart was trying him out.
Hamil's report on his handling of this might be a factor in
something big for him, but even without that he would have done
his best to put the thing through. Ten years in New York hadn't
made him sentimental and he was quite accustomed to finish
everything he began--and a little bit more.

All went well at first. There was no enthusiasm, but each one of
the seventeen ranchers concerned knew Samuel's business, knew
what he had behind him, and that they had as little chance of
holding out as flies on a window-pane. Some of them were
resigned--some of them cared like the devil, but they'd talked
it over, argued it with lawyers and couldn't see any possible
loophole. Five of the ranches had oil, the other twelve were
part of the chance, but quite as necessary to Hamil's purpose,
in any event.

Samuel soon saw that the real leader was an early settler named
McIntyre, a man of perhaps fifty, gray-haired, clean-shaven,
bronzed by forty New Mexico summers, and with those clear steady
eye that Texas and New Mexico weather are apt to give. His ranch
had not as yet shown oil, but it was in the pool, and if any man
hated to lose his land McIntyre did. Every one had rather looked
to him at first to avert the big calamity, and he had hunted all
over the territory for the legal means with which to do it, but
he had failed, and he knew it. He avoided Samuel assiduously,
but Samuel was sure that when the day came for the signatures he
would appear.

It came--a baking May day, with hot wave rising off the parched
land as far as eyes could see, and as Samuel sat stewing in his
little improvised office--a few chairs, a bench, and a wooden
table--he was glad the thing was almost over.  He wanted to get
back East the worst way, and join his wife and children for a
week at the seashore.

The meeting was set for four o'clock, and he was rather
surprised at three-thirty when the door opened and McIntyre came
in. Samuel could not help respecting the man's attitude, and
feeling a bit sorry for him. McIntyre seemed closely related to
the prairies, and Samuel had the little flicker of envy that
city people feel toward men who live in the open.

"Afternoon," said McIntyre, standing in the open doorway, with
his feet apart and his hands on his hips.

"Hello, Mr. McIntyre." Samuel rose, but omitted the formality of
offering his hand. He imagined the rancher cordially loathed
him, and he hardly blamed him. McIntyre came in and sat down
leisurely.

"You got us," he said suddenly.

This didn't seem to require any answer.

"When I heard Carhart was back of this," he continued, "I gave up."

"Mr. Carhart is---" began Samuel, but McIntyre waved him silent.

"Don't talk about the dirty sneak-thief!"

"Mr. McIntyre," said Samuel briskly, "if this half-hour is to be
devoted to that sort of talk---"

"Oh, dry up, young man," McIntyre interrupted, "you can't abuse
a man who'd do a thing like this."

Samuel made no answer.

"It's simply a dirty filch. There just ARE skunks like him too
big to handle."

"You're being paid liberally," offered Samuel.

"Shut up!" roared McIntyre suddenly. "I want the privilege of
talking." He walked to the door and looked out across the land,
the sunny, steaming pasturage that began almost at his feet and
ended with the gray-green of the distant mountains. When he
turned around his mouth was trembling.

"Do you fellows love Wall Street?" he said hoarsely, "or
wherever you do your dirty scheming---" He paused. "I suppose you
do. No critter gets so low that he doesn't sort of love the
place he's worked, where he's sweated out the best he's had in
him."

Samuel watched him awkwardly. McIntyre wiped his forehead with a
huge blue handkerchief, and continued:

"I reckon this rotten old devil had to have another million. I
reckon we're just a few of the poor he's blotted out to buy a
couple more carriages or something." He waved his hand toward
the door. "I built a house out there when I was seventeen, with
these two hands. I took a wife there at twenty-one, added two
wings, and with four mangy steers I started out. Forty summers
I've saw the sun come up over those mountains and drop down red
as blood in the evening, before the heat drifted off and the
stars came out. I been happy in that house. My boy was born
there and he died there, late one spring, in the hottest part of
an afternoon like this. Then the wife and I lived there alone
like we'd lived before, and sort of tried to have a home, after
all, not a real home but nigh it--cause the boy always seemed
around close, somehow, and we expected a lot of nights to see
him runnin' up the path to supper." His voice was shaking so he
could hardly speak and he turned again to the door, his gray
eyes contracted.

"That's my land out there," he said, stretching out his arm, "my
land, by God-- It's all I got in the world--and ever wanted." He
dashed his sleeve across his face, and his tone changed as he
turned slowly and faced Samuel. "But I suppose it's got to go
when they want it--it's got to go."

Samuel had to talk. He felt that in a minute more he would lose
his head. So he began, as level-voiced as he could--in the sort
of tone he saved for disagreeable duties.

"It's business, Mr. McIntyre," he said. "It's inside the law.
Perhaps we couldn't have bought out two or three of you at any
price, but most of you did have a price. Progress demands some
things---"

Never had he felt so inadequate, and it was with the greatest
relief that he heard hoof-beats a few hundred yards away.

But at his words the grief in McIntyre's eyes had changed to fury.

"You and your dirty gang of crooks!" he cried. "Not one of you
has got an honest love for anything on God's earth! You're a
herd of money-swine!"

Samuel rose and McIntyre took a step toward him.

"You long-winded dude. You got our land--take that for Peter
Carhart!"

He swung from the shoulder quick as lightning and down went
Samuel in a heap. Dimly he heard steps in the doorway and knew
that some one was holding McIntyre, but there was no need. The
rancher had sunk down in his chair, and dropped his head in his
hands.

Samuel's brain was whirring. He realized that the fourth fist
had hit him, and a great flood of emotion cried out that the law
that had inexorably ruled his life was in motion again. In a
half-daze he got up and strode from the room.

The next ten minutes were perhaps the hardest of his life. People
talk of the courage of convictions, but in actual life a man's
duty to his family may make a rigid corpse seem a selfish
indulgence of his own righteousness. Samuel thought mostly of
his family, yet he never really wavered. That jolt had brought him
to.

When he came back in the room there were a log of worried faces
waiting for him, but he didn't waste any time explaining.

"Gentlemen," he said, "Mr. McIntyre has been kind enough to
convince me that in this matter you are absolutely right and the
Peter Carhart interests absolutely wrong. As far as I am
concerned you can keep your ranches to the rest of your days."

He pushed his way through an astounded gathering, and within a
half-hour he had sent two telegrams that staggered the operator
into complete unfitness for business; one was to Hamil in San
Antonio; one was to Peter Carhart in New York.

Samuel didn't sleep much that night. He knew that for the first
time in his business career he had made a dismal, miserable
failure. But some instinct in him, stronger than will, deeper
than training, had forced him to do what would probably end his
ambitions and his happiness. But it was done and it never
occurred to him that he could have acted otherwise.

Next morning two telegrams were waiting for him. The first was
from Hamil. It contained three words:

"You blamed idiot!"

The second was from New York:

"Deal off come to New York immediately Carhart."

Within a week things had happened. Hamil quarrelled furiously
and violently defended his scheme. He was summoned to New York
and spent a bad half-hour on the carpet in Peter Carhart's
office. He broke with the Carhart interests in July, and in
August Samuel Meredith, at thirty-five years old, was, to all
intents, made Carhart's partner. The fourth fist had done its
work.

I suppose that there's a caddish streak in every man that runs
crosswise across his character and disposition and general
outlook. With some men it's secret and we never know it's there
until they strike us in the dark one night. But Samuel's showed
when it was in action, and the sight of it made people see red.
He was rather lucky in that, because every time his little devil
came up it met a reception that sent it scurrying down below in
a sickly, feeble condition. It was the same devil, the same
streak that made him order Gilly's friends off the bed, that
made him go inside Marjorie's house.

If you could run your hand along Samuel Meredith's jaw you'd
feel a lump. He admits he's never been sure which fist left it
there, but he wouldn't lose it for anything. He says there's no
cad like an old cad, and that sometimes just before making a
decision, it's a great help to stroke his chin. The reporters
call it a nervous characteristic, but it's not that. It's so he
can feel again the gorgeous clarity, the lightning sanity of
those four fists.





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Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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