Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Stories of a Western Town
Author: Thanet, Octave, 1850-1934
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 "Stories of a Western Town" ***

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



STORIES OF A WESTERN TOWN

By Octave Thanet



CONTENTS


The Besetment of Kurt Lieders

The Face of Failure

Tommy and Thomas

Mother Emeritus

An Assisted Providence

Harry Lossing



THE BESETMENT OF KURT LIEDERS


A SILVER rime glistened all down the street.

There was a drabble of dead leaves on the sidewalk which was of wood,
and on the roadway which was of macadam and stiff mud. The wind blew
sharply, for it was a December day and only six in the morning. Nor were
the houses high enough to furnish any independent bulwark; they were
low, wooden dwellings, the tallest a bare two stories in height, the
majority only one story. But they were in good painting and repair,
and most of them had a homely gayety of geraniums or bouvardias in
the windows. The house on the corner was the tall house. It occupied a
larger yard than its neighbors; and there were lace curtains tied with
blue ribbons for the windows in the right hand front room. The door of
this house swung back with a crash, and a woman darted out. She ran at
the top of her speed to the little yellow house farther down the street.
Her blue calico gown clung about her stout figure and fluttered behind
her, revealing her blue woollen stockings and felt slippers. Her gray
head was bare. As she ran tears rolled down her cheeks and she wrung her
hands.

"Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh, lieber Herr Je!" One near would have heard her sob, in
too distracted agitation to heed the motorneer of the passing street-car
who stared after her at the risk of his car, or the tousled heads behind
a few curtains. She did not stop until she almost fell against the door
of the yellow house. Her frantic knocking was answered by a young woman
in a light and artless costume of a quilted petticoat and a red flannel
sack.

"Oh, gracious goodness! Mrs. Lieders!" cried she.

Thekla Lieders rather staggered than walked into the room and fell back
on the black haircloth sofa.

"There, there, there," said the young woman while she patted the broad
shoulders heaving between sobs and short breath, "what is it? The house
aint afire?"

"Oh, no, oh, Mrs. Olsen, he has done it again!" She wailed in sobs, like
a child.

"Done it? Done what?" exclaimed Mrs. Olsen, then her face paled. "Oh, my
gracious, you DON'T mean he's killed himself------"

"Yes, he's killed himself, again."

"And he's dead?" asked the other in an awed tone.

Mrs. Lieders gulped down her tears. "Oh, not so bad as that, I cut him
down, he was up in the garret and I sus--suspected him and I run up
and--oh, he was there, a choking, and he was so mad! He swore at me
and--he kicked me when I--I says: 'Kurt, what are you doing of? Hold
on till I git a knife,' I says--for his hands was just dangling at his
side; and he says nottings cause he couldn't, he was most gone, and I
knowed I wouldn't have time to git no knife but I saw it was a rope was
pretty bad worn and so--so I just run and jumped and ketched it in my
hands, and being I'm so fleshy it couldn't stand no more and it broke!
And, oh! he--he kicked me when I was try to come near to git the rope
off his neck; and so soon like he could git his breath he swore at
me----"

"And you a helping of him! Just listen to that!" cried the hearer
indignantly.

"So I come here for to git you and Mr. Olsen to help me git him down
stairs, 'cause he is too heavy for me to lift, and he is so mad he won't
walk down himself."

"Yes, yes, of course. I'll call Carl. Carl! dost thou hear? come! But
did you dare to leave him Mrs. Lieders?" Part of the time she spoke
in English, part of the time in her own tongue, gliding from one to
another, and neither party observing the transition.

Mrs. Lieders wiped her eyes, saying: "Oh, yes, Danke schon, I aint
afraid 'cause I tied him with the rope, righd good, so he don't got no
chance to move. He was make faces at me all the time I tied him." At the
remembrance, the tears welled anew.

Mrs. Olsen, a little bright tinted woman with a nose too small for her
big blue eyes and chubby cheeks, quivered with indignant sympathy.

"Well, I did nefer hear of sooch a mean acting man!" seemed to her the
most natural expression; but the wife fired, at once.

"No, he is not a mean man," she cried, "no, Freda Olsen, he is not a
mean man at all! There aint nowhere a better man than my man; and Carl
Olsen, he knows that. Kurt, he always buys a whole ham and a whole
barrel of flour, and never less than a dollar of sugar at a time! And he
never gits drunk nor he never gives me any bad talk. It was only he got
this wanting to kill himself on him, sometimes."

"Well, I guess I'll go put on my things," said Mrs. Olsen, wisely
declining to defend her position. "You set right still and warm
yourself, and we'll be back in a minute."

Indeed, it was hardly more than that time before both Carl Olsen, who
worked in the same furniture factory as Kurt Lieders, and was a comely
and after-witted giant, appeared with Mrs. Olsen ready for the street.

He nodded at Mrs. Lieders and made a gurgling noise in his throat,
expected to convey sympathy. Then, he coughed and said that he was
ready, and they started.

Feeling further expression demanded, Mrs. Olsen asked: "How many times
has he done it, Mrs. Lieders?"

Mrs. Lieders was trotting along, her anxious eyes on the house in the
distance, especially on the garret windows. "Three times," she answered,
not removing her eyes; "onct he tooked Rough on Rats and I found it out
and I put some apple butter in the place of it, and he kept wondering
and wondering how he didn't feel notings, and after awhile I got him off
the notion, that time. He wasn't mad at me; he just said: 'Well, I do it
some other time. You see!' but he promised to wait till I got the spring
house cleaning over, so he could shake the carpets for me; and by and
by he got feeling better. He was mad at the boss and that made him
feel bad. The next time it was the same, that time he jumped into the
cistern----"

"Yes, I know," said Olsen, with a half grin, "I pulled him out."

"It was the razor he wanted," the wife continued, "and when he come home
and says he was going to leave the shop and he aint never going back
there, and gets out his razor and sharps it, I knowed what that meant
and I told him I got to have some bluing and wouldn't he go and get it?
and he says, 'You won't git another husband run so free on your errands,
Thekla,' and I says I don't want none; and when he was gone I hid the
razor and he couldn't find it, but that didn't mad him, he didn't say
notings; and when I went to git the supper he walked out in the yard and
jumped into the cistern, and I heard the splash and looked in and there
he was trying to git his head under, and I called, 'For the Lord's sake,
papa! For the Lord's sake!' just like that. And I fished for him with
the pole that stood there and he was sorry and caught hold of it and
give in, and I rested the pole agin the side cause I wasn't strong
enough to h'ist him out; and he held on whilest I run for help----"

"And I got the ladder and he clum out," said the giant with another grin
of recollection, "he was awful wet!"

"That was a month ago," said the wife, solemnly.

"He sharped the razor onct," said Mrs. Lieders, "but he said it was
for to shave him, and I got him to promise to let the barber shave him
sometime, instead. Here, Mrs. Olsen, you go righd in, the door aint
locked."

By this time they were at the house door. They passed in and ascended
the stairs to the second story, then climbed a narrow, ladder-like
flight to the garret. Involuntarily they had paused to listen at the
foot of the stairs, but it was very quiet, not a sound of movement, not
so much as the sigh of a man breathing. The wife turned pale and put
both her shaking hands on her heart.

"Guess he's trying to scare us by keeping quiet!" said Olsen,
cheerfully, and he stumbled up the stairs, in advance. "Thunder!" he
exclaimed, on the last stair, "well, we aint any too quick."

In fact Carl had nearly fallen over the master of the house, that
enterprising self-destroyer having contrived, pinioned as he was, to
roll over to the very brink of the stair well, with the plain intent to
break his neck by plunging headlong.

In the dim light all that they could see was a small, old man whose
white hair was strung in wisps over his purple face, whose deep set eyes
glared like the eyes of a rat in a trap, and whose very elbows and knees
expressed in their cramps the fury of an outraged soul. When he saw the
new-comers he shut his eyes and his jaws.

"Well, Mr. Lieders," said Olsen, mildly, "I guess you better git
down-stairs. Kin I help you up?"

"No," said Lieders.

"Will I give you an arm to lean on?"

"No."

"Won't you go at all, Mr. Lieders?"

"No."

Olsen shook his head. "I hate to trouble you, Mr. Lieders," said he in
his slow, undecided tones, "please excuse me," with which he gathered up
the little man into his strong arms and slung him over his shoulders, as
easily as he would sling a sack of meal. It was a vent for Mrs. Olsen's
bubbling indignation to make a dive for Lieders's heels and hold them,
while Carl backed down-stairs. But Lieders did not make the least
resistance. He allowed them to carry him into the room indicated by
his wife, and to lay him bound on the plump feather bed. It was not his
bedroom but the sacred "spare room," and the bed was part of its luxury.
Thekla ran in, first, to remove the embroidered pillow shams and the
dazzling, silken "crazy quilt" that was her choicest possession.

Safely in the bed, Lieders opened his eyes and looked from one face to
the other, his lip curling. "You can't keep me this way all the time. I
can do it in spite of you," said he.

"Well, I think you had ought to be ashamed of yourself, Mr. Lieders!"
Mrs. Olsen burst out, in a tremble between wrath and exertion, shaking
her little, plump fist at him.

But the placid Carl only nodded, as in sympathy, saying, "Well, I am
sorry you feel so bad, Mr. Lieders. I guess we got to go now."

Mrs. Olsen looked as if she would have liked to exhort Lieders further;
but she shrugged her shoulders and followed her husband in silence.

"I wished you'd stay to breakfast, now you're here," Thekla urged out of
her imperious hospitality; had Kurt been lying there dead, the next meal
must have been offered, just the same. "I know, you aint got time to git
Mr. Olsen his breakfast, Freda, before he has got to go to the shops,
and my tea-kettle is boiling now, and the coffee'll be ready--I GUESS
you had better stay."

But Mrs. Olsen seconded her husband's denial, and there was nothing
left Thekla but to see them to the door. No sooner did she return than
Lieders spoke. "Aint you going to take off them ropes?" said he.

"Not till you promise you won't do it."

Silence. Thekla, brushing a few tears from her eyes, scrutinized the
ropes again, before she walked heavily out of the room. She turned the
key in the door.

Directly a savory steam floated through the hall and pierced the cracks
about the door; then Thekla's footsteps returned; they echoed over the
uncarpeted boards.

She had brought his breakfast, cooked with the best of her homely skill.
The pork chops that he liked had been fried, there was a napkin on the
tray, and the coffee was in the best gilt cup and saucer.

"Here's your breakfast, papa," said she, trying to smile.

"I don't want no breakfast," said he.

She waited, holding the tray, and wistfully eying him.

"Take it 'way," said he, "I won't touch it if you stand till doomsday,
lessen you untie me!"

"I'll untie your arm, papa, one arm; you kin eat that way."

"Not lessen you untie all of me, I won't touch a bite."

"You know why I won't untie you, papa."

"Starving will kill as dead as hanging," was Lieders's orphic response
to this.

Thekla sighed and went away, leaving the tray on the table. It may be
that she hoped the sight of food might stir his stomach to rebel against
his dogged will; if so she was disappointed; half an hour went by during
which the statue under the bedclothes remained without so much as a
quiver.

Then the old woman returned. "Aint you awful cramped and stiff, papa?"

"Yes," said the statue.

"Will you promise not to do yourself a mischief, if I untie you?"

"No."

Thekla groaned, while the tears started to her red eyelids. "But you'll
git awful tired and it will hurt you if you don't get the ropes off,
soon, papa!"

"I know that!"

He closed his eyes again, to be the less hindered from dropping back
into his distempered musings. Thekla took a seat by his side and sat
silent as he. Slowly the natural pallor returned to the high forehead
and sharp features. They were delicate features and there was an air of
refinement, of thought, about Lieders's whole person, as different
as possible from the robust comeliness of his wife. With its keen
sensitive-ness and its undefined melancholy it was a dreamer's face. One
meets such faces, sometimes, in incongruous places and wonders what they
mean. In fact, Kurt Lieders, head cabinet maker in the furniture factory
of Lossing & Co., was an artist. He was, also, an incomparable artisan
and the most exacting foreman in the shops. Thirty years ago he had
first taken wages from the senior Lossing. He had watched a modest
industry climb up to a great business, nor was he all at sea in his own
estimate of his share in the firm's success. Lieders's workmanship had
an honesty, an infinite patience of detail, a daring skill of design
that came to be sought and commanded its own price. The Lossing "art
furniture" did not slander the name. No sculptor ever wrought his soul
into marble with a more unflinching conscience or a purer joy in his
work than this wood-carver dreaming over sideboards and bedsteads.
Unluckily, Lieders had the wrong side of the gift as well as the right;
was full of whims and crotchets, and as unpractical as the Christian
martyrs. He openly defied expense, and he would have no trifling with
the laws of art. To make after orders was an insult to Kurt. He made
what was best for the customer; if the latter had not the sense to see
it he was a fool and a pig, and some one else should work for him, not
Kurt Lieders, BEGEHR!

Young Lossing had learned the business practically. He was taught the
details by his father's best workman; and a mighty hard and strict
master the best workman proved! Lossing did not dream that the crabbed
old tyrant who rarely praised him, who made him go over, for the
twentieth time, any imperfect piece of work, who exacted all the artisan
virtues to the last inch, was secretly proud of him. Yet, in fact, the
thread of romance in Lieders's prosaic life was his idolatry of the
Lossing Manufacturing Co. It is hard to tell whether it was the Lossings
or that intangible quantity, the firm, the business, that he worshipped.
Worship he did, however, the one or the other, perhaps the both of them,
though in the peevish and erratic manner of the savage who sometimes
grovels to his idols and sometimes kicks them.

Nobody guessed what a blow it was to Kurt when, a year ago, the elder
Lossing had died. Even his wife did not connect his sullen melancholy
and his gibes at the younger generation, with the crape on Harry
Lossing's hat. He would not go to the funeral, but worked savagely, all
alone by himself, in the shop, the whole afternoon--breaking down at
last at the sight of a carved panel over which Lossing and he had once
disputed. The desolate loneliness of the old came to him when his old
master was gone. He loved the young man, but the old man was of his own
generation; he had "known how things ought to be and he could understand
without talking." Lieders began to be on the lookout for signs of waning
consideration, to watch his own eyes and hands, drearily wondering when
they would begin to play him false; at the same time because he was
unhappy he was ten times as exacting and peremptory and critical with
the younger workmen, and ten times as insolently independent with the
young master. Often enough, Lossing was exasperated to the point of
taking the old man at his word and telling him to go if he would, but
every time the chain of long habit, a real respect for such faithful
service, and a keen admiration for Kurt's matchless skill in his craft,
had held him back. He prided himself on keeping his word; for that
reason he was warier of using it. So he would compromise by giving the
domineering old fellow a "good, stiff rowing." Once, he coupled this
with a threat, if they could not get along decently they would better
part! Lieders had answered not a word; he had given Lossing a queer
glance and turned on his heel. He went home and bought some poison on
the way. "The old man is gone and the young feller don't want the old
crank round, no more," he said to himself. "Thekla, I guess I make her
troubles, too; I'll git out!"

That was the beginning of his tampering with suicide. Thekla, who did
not have the same opinion of the "trouble," had interfered. He had
married Thekla to have someone to keep a warm fireside for him, but she
was an ignorant creature who never could be made to understand about
carving. He felt sorry for her when the baby died, the only child they
ever had; he was sorrier than he expected to be on his own account, too,
for it was an ugly little creature, only four days old, and very red and
wrinkled; but he never thought of confiding his own griefs or trials
to her. Now, it made him angry to have that stupid Thekla keep him in
a world where he did not wish to stay. If the next day Lossing had not
remembered how his father valued Lieders, and made an excuse to half
apologize to him, I fear Thekla's stratagems would have done little
good.

The next experience was cut out of the same piece of cloth. He had
relented, he had allowed his wife to save him; but he was angry in
secret. Then came the day when open disobedience to Lossing's orders had
snapped the last thread of Harry's patience. To Lieders's aggrieved "If
you ain't satisfied with my work, Mr. Lossing, I kin quit," the answer
had come instantly, "Very well, Lieders, I'm sorry to lose you, but we
can't have two bosses here: you can go to the desk." And when Lieders in
a blind stab of temper had growled a prophecy that Lossing would regret
it, Lossing had stabbed in turn: "Maybe, but it will be a cold day when
I ask you to come back." And he had gone off without so much as a word
of regret. The old workman had packed up his tools, the pet tools that
no one was ever permitted to touch, and crammed his arms into his coat
and walked out of the place where he had worked so long, not a man
saying a word. Lieders didn't reflect that they knew nothing of the
quarrel. He glowered at them and went away sore at heart. We make a
great mistake when we suppose that it is only the affectionate
that desire affection; sulky and ill-conditioned souls often have a
passionate longing for the very feelings that they repel. Lieders was a
womanish, sensitive creature under the surly mask, and he was cut to the
quick by his comrades' apathy. "There ain't no place for old men in this
world," he thought, "there's them boys I done my best to make do a good
job, and some of 'em I've worked overtime to help; and not one of 'em
has got as much as a good-by in him for me!"

But he did not think of going to poor Thekla for comfort, he went to
his grim dreams. "I git my property all straight for Thekla, and then
I quit," said he. Perhaps he gave himself a reprieve unconsciously,
thinking that something might happen to save him from himself. Nothing
happened. None of the "boys" came to see him, except Carl Olsen, the
very stupidest man in the shop, who put Lieders beside himself fifty
times a day. The other men were sorry that Lieders had gone, having a
genuine workman's admiration for his skill, and a sort of underground
liking for the unreasonable old man because he was so absolutely honest
and "a fellow could always tell where to find him." But they were shy,
they were afraid he would take their pity in bad part, they "waited a
while."

Carl, honest soul, stood about in Lieders's workshop, kicking the
shavings with his heels for half an hour, and grinned sheepishly,
and was told what a worthless, scamping, bragging lot the "boys" at
Lossing's were, and said he guessed he had got to go home now; and so
departed, unwitting that his presence had been a consolation. Mrs. Olsen
asked Carl what Lieders said; Carl answered simply, "Say, Freda, that
man feels terrible bad."

Meanwhile Thekla seemed easily satisfied. She made no outcry as Lieders
had dreaded, over his leaving the shop.

"Well, then, papa, you don't need git up so early in the morning no
more, if you aint going to the shop," was her only comment; and Lieders
despised the mind of woman more than ever.

But that evening, while Lieders was down town (occupied, had she known
it, with a codicil to his will), she went over to the Olsens and found
out all Carl could tell her about the trouble in the shop. And it was
she that made the excuse of marketing to go out the next day, that
she might see the rich widow on the hill who was talking about a china
closet, and Judge Trevor, who had asked the price of a mantel, and Mr.
Martin, who had looked at sideboards (all this information came from
honest Carl); and who proposed to them that they order such furniture
of the best cabinet-maker in the country, now setting up on his own
account. He, simple as a baby for all his doggedness, thought that
they came because of his fame as a workman, and felt a glow of pride,
particularly as (having been prepared by the wife, who said, "You see it
don't make so much difference with my Kurt 'bout de prize, if so he can
get the furniture like he wants it, and he always know of the best in
the old country") they all were duly humble. He accepted a few orders
and went to work with a will; he would show them what the old man
could do. But it was only a temporary gleam; in a little while he grew
homesick for the shop, for the sawdust floor and the familiar smell
of oil, and the picture of Lossing flitting in and out. He missed the
careless young workmen at whom he had grumbled, he missed the whir of
machinery, and the consciousness of rush and hurry accented by the cars
on the track outside. In short, he missed the feeling of being part of
a great whole. At home, in his cosey little improvised shop, there was
none to dispute him, but there was none to obey him either. He grew
deathly tired of it all. He got into the habit of walking around the
shops at night, prowling about his old haunts like a cat. Once the night
watchman saw him. The next day there was a second watchman engaged.
And Olsen told him very kindly, meaning only to warn him, that he was
suspected to be there for no good purpose. Lieders confirmed a lurking
suspicion of the good Carl's own, by the clouding of his face. Yet he
would have chopped his hand off rather than have lifted it against the
shop.

That was Tuesday night, this was Wednesday morning.

The memory of it all, the cruel sense of injustice, returned with such
poignant force that Lieders groaned aloud.

Instantly, Thekla was bending over him. He did not know whether to laugh
at her or to swear, for she began fumbling at the ropes, half sobbing.
"Yes, I knowed they was hurting you, papa; I'm going to loose one arm.
Then I put it back again and loose the other. Please don't be bad!"

He made no resistance and she was as good as her word. She unbound and
bound him in sections, as it were; he watching her with a morose smile.

Then she left the room, but only to return with some hot coffee.
Lieders twisted his head away. "No," said he, "I don't eat none of that
breakfast, not if you make fresh coffee all the morning; I feel like I
don't eat never no more on earth."

Thekla knew that the obstinate nature that she tempted was proof against
temptation; if Kurt chose to starve, starve he would with food at his
elbow.

"Oh, papa," she cried, helplessly, "what IS the matter with you?"

"Just dying is the matter with me, Thekla. If I can't die one way I kin
another. Now Thekla, I want you to quit crying and listen. After I'm
gone you go to the boss, young Mr. Lossing--but I always called him
Harry because he learned his trade of me, Thekla, but he don't think of
that now--and you tell him old Lieders that worked for him thirty years
is dead, but he didn't hold no hard feelings, he knowed he done wrong
'bout that mantel. Mind you tell him."

"Yes, papa," said Thekla, which was a surprise to Kurt; he had dreaded
a weak flood of tears and protestations. But there were no tears, no
protestations, only a long look at him and a contraction of the eyebrows
as if Thekla were trying to think of something that eluded her. She
placed the coffee on the tray beside the other breakfast. For a while
the room was very still. Lieders could not see the look of resolve that
finally smoothed the perplexed lines out of his wife's kind, simple old
face. She rose. "Kurt," she said, "I don't guess you remember this is
our wedding-day; it was this day, eighteen year we was married."

"So!" said Lieders, "well, I was a bad bargain to you, Thekla; after
you nursed your father that was a cripple for twenty years, I thought it
would be easy with me; but I was a bad bargain."

"The Lord knows best about that," said Thekla, simply, "be it how it
be, you are the only man I ever had or will have, and I don't like you
starve yourself. Papa, say you don't kill yourself, to-day, and dat you
will eat your breakfast!"

"Yes," Lieders repeated in German, "a bad bargain for thee, that is
sure. But thou hast been a good bargain for me. Here! I promise. Not
this day. Give me the coffee."

He had seasons, all the morning, of wondering over his meekness, and
his agreement to be tied up again, at night. But still, what did a
day matter? a man humors women's notions; and starving was so tedious.
Between whiles he elaborated a scheme to attain his end. How easy to
outwit the silly Thekla! His eyes shone, as he hid the little, sharp
knife up his cuff. "Let her tie me!" says Lieders, "I keep my word.
To-morrow I be out of this. He won't git a man like me, pretty soon!"

Thekla went about her daily tasks, with her every-day air; but, now and
again, that same pucker of thought returned to her forehead; and, more
than once, Lieders saw her stand over some dish, poising her spoon in
air, too abstracted to notice his cynical observation.

The dinner was more elaborate than common, and Thekla had broached a
bottle of her currant wine. She gravely drank Lieders's health. "And
many good days, papa," she said.

Lieders felt a queer movement of pity. After the table was cleared,
he helped his wife to wash and wipe the dishes as his custom was of a
Sunday or holiday. He wiped dishes as he did everything, neatly, slowly,
with a careful deliberation. Not until the dishes were put away and the
couple were seated, did Thekla speak.

"Kurt," she said, "I got to talk to you."

An inarticulate groan and a glance at the door from Lieders. "I just got
to, papa. It aint righd for you to do the way you been doing for so long
time; efery little whiles you try to kill yourself; no, papa, that aint
righd!"

Kurt, who had gotten out his pencils and compasses and other drawing
tools, grunted: "I got to look at my work, Thekla, now; I am too busy to
talk."

"No, Kurt, no, papa"--the hands holding the blue apron that she was
embroidering with white linen began to tremble; Lieders had not the
least idea what a strain it was on this reticent, slow of speech woman
who had stood in awe of him for eighteen years, to discuss the horror
of her life; but he could not help marking her agitation. She went on,
desperately: "Yes, papa, I got to talk it oud with you. You had ought
to listen, 'cause I always been a good wife to you and nefer refused you
notings. No."

"Well, I aint saying I done it 'cause you been bad to me; everybody
knows we aint had no trouble."

"But everybody what don't know us, when they read how you tried to kill
yourself in the papers, they think it was me. That always is so. And now
I never can any more sleep nights, for you is always maybe git up and
do something to yourself. So now, I got to talk to you, papa. Papa, how
could you done so?"

Lieders twisted his feet under the rungs of his chair; he opened his
mouth, but only to shut it again with a click of his teeth.

"I got my mind made up, papa. I tought and I tought. I know WHY you done
it; you done it 'cause you and the boss was mad at each other. The boss
hadn't no righd to let you go------"

"Yes, he had, I madded him first; I was a fool. Of course I knowed more
than him 'bout the work, but I hadn't no right to go against him. The
boss is all right."

"Yes, papa, I got my mind made up"--like most sluggish spirits there was
an immense momentum about Thekla's mind, once get it fairly started it
was not to be diverted--"you never killed yourself before you used to
git mad at the boss. You was afraid he would send you away; and now you
have sent yourself away you don't want to live, 'cause you do not know
how you can git along without the shop. But you want to get back, you
want to get back more as you want to kill yourself. Yes, papa, I know,
I know where you did used to go, nights. Now"--she changed her speech
unconsciously to the tongue of her youth--"it is not fair, it is not
fair to me that thou shouldst treat me like that, thou dost belong to
me, also; so I say, my Kurt, wilt thou make a bargain with me? If I
shall get thee back thy place wilt thou promise me never to kill thyself
any more?"

Lieders had not once looked up at her during the slow, difficult
sentences with their half choked articulation; but he was experiencing
some strange emotions, and one of them was a novel respect for his wife.
All he said was: "'Taint no use talking. I won't never ask him to take
me back, once."

"Well, you aint asking of him. _I_ ask him. I try to git you back,
once!"

"I tell you, it aint no use; I know the boss, he aint going to be
letting womans talk him over; no, he's a good man, he knows how to work
his business himself!"

"But would you promise me, Kurt?"

Lieders's eyes blurred with a mild and dreamy mist; he sighed softly.
"Thekla, you can't see how it is. It is like you are tied up, if I don't
can do that; if I can then it is always that I am free, free to go, free
to stay. And for you, Thekla, it is the same."

Thekla's mild eyes flashed. "I don't believe you would like it so you
wake up in the morning and find ME hanging up in the kitchen by the
clothes-line!"

Lieders had the air of one considering deeply. Then he gave Thekla one
of the surprises of her life; he rose from his chair, he walked in his
shuffling, unheeled slippers across the room to where the old woman sat;
he put one arm on the back of the chair and stiffly bent over her and
kissed her.

"Lieber Herr Je!" gasped Thekla.

"Then I shall go, too, pretty quick, that is all, mamma," said he.

Thekla wiped her eyes. A little pause fell between them, and in it they
may have both remembered vanished, half-forgotten days when life had
looked differently to them, when they had never thought to sit by
their own fireside and discuss suicide. The husband spoke first; with
a reluctant, half-shamed smile, "Thekla, I tell you what, I make the
bargain with you; you git me back that place, I don't do it again, 'less
you let me; you don't git me back that place, you don't say notings to
me."

The apron dropped from the withered, brown hands to the floor. Again
there was silence; but not for long; ghastly as was the alternative, the
proposal offered a chance to escape from the terror that was sapping her
heart.

"How long will you give me, papa?" said she.

"I give you a week," said he.

Thekla rose and went to the door; as she opened it a fierce gust of wind
slashed her like a knife, and Lieders exclaimed, fretfully, "what you
opening that door for, Thekla, letting in the wind? I'm so cold, now,
right by the fire, I most can't draw. We got to keep a fire in the
base-burner good, all night, or the plants will freeze."

Thekla said confusedly that something sounded like a cat crying. "And
you talking like that it frightened me; maybe I was wrong to make such
bargains------"

"Then don't make it," said Lieders, curtly, "I aint asking you."

But Thekla drew a long breath and straightened herself, saying, "Yes, I
make it, papa, I make it."

"Well, put another stick of wood in the stove, will you, now you are
up?" said Lieders, shrugging his shoulders, "or I'll freeze in spite of
you! It seems to me it grows colder every minute."

But all that day he was unusually gentle with Thekla. He talked of his
youth and the struggles of the early days of the firm; he related a
dozen tales of young Lossing, all illustrating some admirable trait that
he certainly had not praised at the time. Never had he so opened his
heart in regard to his own ideals of art, his own ambitions. And Thekla
listened, not always comprehending but always sympathizing; she was
almost like a comrade, Kurt thought afterward.

The next morning, he was surprised to have her appear equipped for the
street, although it was bitterly cold. She wore her garb of ceremony, a
black alpaca gown, with a white crocheted collar neatly turned over the
long black, broadcloth cloak in which she had taken pride for the last
five years; and her quilted black silk bonnet was on her gray head. When
she put up her foot to don her warm overshoes Kurt saw that the stout
ankles were encased in white stockings. This was the last touch.
"Gracious, Thekla," cried Kurt, "are you going to market this day? It is
the coldest day this winter!"

"Oh, I don't mind," replied Thekla, nervously. Then she had wrapped a
scarf about her and gone out while he was getting into his own coat, and
conning a proffer to go in her stead.

"Oh, well, Thekla she aint such a fool like she looks!" he observed to
the cat, "say, pussy, WAS it you out yestiddy?"

The cat only blinked her yellow eyes and purred. She knew that she had
not been out, last night. Not any better than her mistress, however, who
at this moment was hailing a street-car.

The street-car did not land her anywhere near a market; it whirled her
past the lines of low wooden houses into the big brick shops with their
arched windows and terra-cotta ornaments that showed the ambitious
architecture of a growing Western town, past these into mills and
factories and smoke-stained chimneys. Here, she stopped. An acquaintance
would hardly have recognized her, her ruddy cheeks had grown so pale.
But she trotted on to the great building on the corner from whence came
a low, incessant buzz. She went into the first door and ran against Carl
Olsen. "Carl, I got to see Mr. Lossing," said she breathlessly.

"There ain't noding----"

"No, Gott sei dank', but I got to see him."

It was not Carl's way to ask questions; he promptly showed her the
office and she entered. She had not seen young Harry Lossing half a
dozen times; and, now, her anxious eyes wandered from one dapper figure
at the high desks, to another, until Lossing advanced to her.

He was a handsome young man, she thought, and he had kind eyes, but they
hardened at her first timid sentence: "I am Mrs. Lieders, I come about
my man----"

"Will you walk in here, Mrs. Lieders?" said Lossing. His voice was like
the ice on the window-panes.

She followed him into a little room. He shut the door.

Declining the chair that he pushed toward her she stood in the centre of
the room, looking at him with the pleading eyes of a child.

"Mr. Lossing, will you please save my Kurt from killing himself?"

"What do you mean?" Lossing's voice had not thawed.

"It is for you that he will kill himself, Mr. Lossing. This is the dird
time he has done it. It is because he is so lonesome now, your father is
died and he thinks that you forget, and he has worked so hard for you,
but he thinks that you forget. He was never tell me till yesterday; and
then--it was--it was because I would not let him hang himself----"

"Hang himself?" stammered Lossing, "you don't mean----"

"Yes, he was hang himself, but I cut him, no I broke him down," said
Thekla, accurate in all the disorder of her spirits; and forthwith, with
many tremors, but clearly, she told the story of Kurt's despair. She
told, as Lieders never would have known how to tell, even had his pride
let him, all the man's devotion for the business, all his personal
attachment to the firm; she told of his gloom after the elder Lossing
died, "for he was think there was no one in this town such good man
and so smart like your fader, Mr. Lossing, no, and he would set all
the evening and try to draw and make the lines all wrong, and, then, he
would drow the papers in the fire and go and walk outside and he say, 'I
can't do nothing righd no more now the old man's died; they don't have
no use for me at the shop, pretty quick!' and that make him feel awful
bad!" She told of his homesick wanderings about the shops by night;
"but he was better as a watchman, he wouldn't hurt it for the world! He
telled me how you was hide his dinner-pail onct for a joke, and put in a
piece of your pie, and how you climbed on the roof with the hose when
it was afire. And he telled me if he shall die I shall tell you that
he ain't got no hard feelings, but you didn't know how that mantel had
ought to be, so he done it right the other way, but he hadn't no righd
to talk to you like he done, nohow, and you was all righd to send him
away, but you might a shaked hands, and none of the boys never said
nothing nor none of them never come to see him, 'cept Carl Olsen, and
that make him feel awful bad, too! And when he feels so bad he don't no
more want to live, so I make him promise if I git him back he never try
to kill himself again. Oh, Mr. Lossing, please don't let my man die!"

Bewildered and more touched than he cared to feel, himself, Lossing
still made a feeble stand for discipline. "I don't see how Lieders can
expect me to take him back again," he began.

"He aint expecting you, Mr. Lossing, it's ME!"

"But didn't Lieders tell you I told him I would never take him back?"

"No, sir, no, Mr. Lossing, it was not that, it was you said it would
be a cold day that you would take him back; and it was git so cold
yesterday, so I think, 'Now it would be a cold day to-morrow and Mr.
Lossing he can take Kurt back.' And it IS the most coldest day this
year!"

Lossing burst into a laugh, perhaps he was glad to have the Western
sense of humor come to the rescue of his compassion. "Well, it was a
cold day for you to come all this way for nothing," said he. "You go
home and tell Lieders to report to-morrow."

Kurt's manner of receiving the news was characteristic. He snorted
in disgust: "Well, I did think he had more sand than to give in to a
woman!" But after he heard the whole story he chuckled: "Yes, it was
that way he said, and he must do like he said; but that was a funny way
you done, Thekla. Say, mamma, yesterday, was you look out for the cat or
to find how cold it been?"

"Never you mind, papa," said Thekla, "you remember what you promised if
I git you back?"

Lieders's eyes grew dull; he flung his arms out, with a long sigh. "No,
I don't forget, I will keep my promise, but--it is like the handcuffs,
Thekla, it is like the handcuffs!" In a second, however, he added, in a
changed tone, "But thou art a kind jailer, mamma, more like a comrade.
And no, it was not fair to thee--I know that now, Thekla."



THE FACE OF FAILURE

AFTER the week's shower the low Iowa hills looked vividly green. At the
base of the first range of hills the Blackhawk road winds from the city
to the prairie. From its starting-point, just outside the city limits,
the wayfarer may catch bird's-eye glimpses of the city, the vast river
that the Iowans love, and the three bridges tying three towns to the
island arsenal. But at one's elbow spreads Cavendish's melon farm.
Cavendish's melon farm it still is, in current phrase, although
Cavendish, whose memory is honored by lovers of the cantaloupe melon,
long ago departed to raise melons for larger markets; and still a
weather-beaten sign creaks from a post announcing to the world that "the
celebrated Cavendish Melons are for Sale here!" To-day the melon-vines
were softly shaded by rain-drops. A pleasant sight they made, spreading
for acres in front of the green-houses where mushrooms and early
vegetables strove to outwit the seasons, and before the brown cottage
in which Cavendish had begun a successful career. The black roof-tree
of the cottage sagged in the middle, and the weather-boarding was dingy
with the streaky dinginess of old paint that has never had enough oil.
The fences, too, were unpainted and rudely patched. Nevertheless a
second glance told one that there were no gaps in them, that the farm
machines kept their bright colors well under cover, and that the garden
rows were beautifully straight and clean. An old white horse switched
its sleek sides with its long tail and drooped its untrammelled neck in
front of the gate. The wagon to which it was harnessed was new and had
just been washed. Near the gate stood a girl and boy who seemed to be
mutually studying each other's person. Decidedly the girl's slim, light
figure in its dainty frock repaid one's eyes for their trouble; and her
face, with its brilliant violet eyes, its full, soft chin, its curling
auburn hair and delicate tints, was charming; but her brother's look
was anything but approving. His lip curled and his small gray eyes grew
smaller under his scowling brows.

"Is THAT your best suit?" said the girl.

"Yes, it is; and it's GOING to be for one while," said the boy.

It was a suit of the cotton mixture that looks like wool when it is new,
and cuts a figure on the counters of every dealer in cheap ready-made
clothing. It had been Tim Powell's best attire for a year; perhaps he
had not been careful enough of it, and that was why it no longer cared
even to imitate wool; it was faded to the hue of a clay bank, it was
threadbare, the trousers bagged at the knees, the jacket bagged at the
elbows, the pockets bulged flabbily from sheer force of habit, although
there was nothing in them.

"I thought you were to have a new suit," said the girl. "Uncle told me
himself he was going to buy you one yesterday when you went to town."

"I wouldn't have asked him to buy me anything yesterday for more'n a
suit of clothes."

"Why?" The girl opened her eyes. "Didn't he do anything with the lawyer?
Is that why you are both so glum this morning?"

"No, he didn't. The lawyer says the woman that owns the mortgage has got
to have the money. And it's due next week."

The girl grew pale all over her pretty rosy cheeks; her eyes filled with
tears as she gasped, "Oh, how hateful of her, when she promised----"

"She never promised nothing, Eve; it ain't been hers for more than three
months. Sloan, that used to have it, died, and left his property to be
divided up between his nieces; and the mortgage is her share. See?"

"I don't care, it's just as mean. Mr. Sloan promised."

"No, he didn't; he jest said if Uncle was behind he wouldn't press him;
and he did let Uncle get behind with the interest two times and never
kicked. But he died; and now the woman, she wants her money!"

"I think it is mean and cruel of her to turn us out! Uncle says
mortgages are wicked anyhow, and I believe him!"

"I guess he couldn't have bought this place if he didn't give a mortgage
on it. And he'd have had enough to pay cash, too, if Richards hadn't
begged him so to lend it to him."

"When is Richards going to pay him?"

"It come due three months ago; Richards ain't never paid up the interest
even, and now he says he's got to have the mortgage extended for three
years; anyhow for two."

"But don't he KNOW we've got to pay our own mortgage? How can we help
HIM? I wish Uncle would sell him out!"

The boy gave her the superior smile of the masculine creature. "I
suppose," he remarked with elaborate irony, "that he's like Uncle and
you; he thinks mortgages are wicked."

"And just as like as not Uncle won't want to go to the carnival," Eve
went on, her eyes filling again.

Tim gazed at her, scowling and sneering; but she was absorbed in dreams
and hopes with which as yet his boyish mind had no point of contact.

"All the girls in the A class were going to go to see the fireworks
together, and George Dean and some of the boys were going to take us,
and we were going to have tea at May Arlington's house, and I was to
stay all night;"--this came in a half sob. "I think it is just too mean!
I never have any good times!"

"Oh, yes, you do, sis, lots! Uncle always gits you everything you want.
And he feels terrible bad when I--when he knows he can't afford to git
something you want----"

"I know well enough who tells him we can't afford things!"

"Well, do you want us to git things we can't afford? I ain't never
advised him except the best I knew how. I told him Richards was a
blow-hard, and I told him those Alliance grocery folks he bought such a
lot of truck of would skin him, and they did; those canned things they
sold him was all musty, and they said there wasn't any freight on 'em,
and he had to pay freight and a fancy price besides; and I don't believe
they had any more to do with the Alliance than our cow!"

"Uncle always believes everything. He always is so sure things are going
to turn out just splendid; and they don't--only just middling; and then
he loses a lot of money."

"But he is an awful good man," said the boy, musingly.

"I don't believe in being so good you can't make money. I don't want
always to be poor and despised, and have the other girls have prettier
clothes than me!"

"I guess you can be pretty good and yet make money, if you are sharp
enough. Of course you got to be sharper to be good and make money than
you got to be, to be mean and make money."

"Well, I know one thing, that Uncle ain't EVER going to make money.
He----" The last word shrivelled on her lips, which puckered into a
confused smile at the warning frown of her brother. The man that they
were discussing had come round to them past the henhouse. How much had
he overheard?

He didn't seem angry, anyhow. He called: "Well, Evy, ready?" and Eve was
glad to run into the house for her hat without looking at him. It was a
relief that she must sit on the back seat where she need not face Uncle
Nelson. Tim sat in front; but Tim was so stupid he wouldn't mind.

Nor did he; it was Nelson Forrest that stole furtive glances at the
lad's profile, the knitted brows, the freckled cheeks, the undecided
nose, and firm mouth.

The boyish shoulders slouched forward at the same angle as that of the
fifty-year-old shoulders beside him. Nelson, through long following of
the plough, had lost the erect carriage painfully acquired in the army.
He was a handsome man, whose fresh-colored skin gave him a perpetual
appearance of having just washed his face. The features were long and
delicate. The brown eyes had a liquid softness like the eyes of a woman.
In general the countenance was alertly intelligent; he looked younger
than his years; but this afternoon the lines about his mouth and in his
brows warranted every gray hair of his pointed short beard. There was a
reason. Nelson was having one of those searing flashes of insight that
do come occasionally to the most blindly hopeful souls. Nelson had hoped
all his life. He hoped for himself, he hoped for the whole human race.
He served the abstraction that he called "PROgress" with unflinching and
unquestioning loyalty. Every new scheme of increasing happiness by force
found a helper, a fighter, and a giver in him; by turns he had been
an Abolitionist, a Fourierist, a Socialist, a Greenbacker, a Farmers'
Alliance man. Disappointment always was followed hard on its heels by a
brand-new confidence. Progress ruled his farm as well as his politics;
he bought the newest implements and subscribed trustfully to four
agricultural papers; but being a born lover of the ground, a vein of
saving doubt did assert itself sometimes in his work; and, on the whole,
as a farmer he was successful. But his success never ventured outside
his farm gates. At buying or selling, at a bargain in any form, the
fourteen-year-old Tim was better than Nelson with his fifty years'
experience of a wicked and bargaining world.

Was that any part of the reason, he wondered to-day, why at the end of
thirty years of unflinching toil and honesty, he found himself with
a vast budget of experience in the ruinous loaning of money, with a
mortgage on the farm of a friend, and a mortgage on his own farm likely
to be foreclosed? Perhaps it might have been better to stay in Henry
County. He had paid for his farm at last. He had known a good moment,
too, that day he drove away from the lawyer's with the cancelled
mortgage in his pocket and Tim hopping up and down on the seat for
joy. But the next day Richards--just to give him the chance of a good
thing--had brought out that Maine man who wanted to buy him out. He was
anxious to put the money down for the new farm, to have no whip-lash of
debt forever whistling about his ears as he ploughed, ready to sting did
he stumble in the furrows; and Tim was more anxious than he; but--there
was Richards! Richards was a neighbor who thought as he did about Henry
George and Spiritualism, and belonged to the Farmers' Alliance, and
had lent Nelson all the works of Henry George that he (Richards) could
borrow. Richards was in deep trouble. He had lost his wife; he might
lose his farm. He appealed to Nelson, for the sake of old friendship,
to save him. And Nelson could not resist; so, two thousand of the
thirty-four hundred dollars that the Maine man paid went to Richards,
the latter swearing by all that is holy, to pay his friend off in full
at the end of the year. There was money coming to him from his dead
wife's estate, but it was tied up in the courts. Nelson would not listen
to Tim's prophecies of evil. But he was a little dashed when Richards
paid neither interest nor principal at the year's end, although he gave
reasons of weight; and he experienced veritable consternation when the
renewed mortgage ran its course and still Richards could not pay. The
money from his wife's estate had been used to improve his farm (Nelson
knew how rundown everything was), his new wife was sickly and "didn't
seem to take hold," there had been a disastrous hail-storm--but
why rehearse the calamities? they focussed on one sentence: it was
impossible to pay.

Then Nelson, who had been restfully counting on the money from Richards
for his own debt, bestirred himself, only to find his patient creditor
gone and a woman in his stead who must have her money. He wrote
again--sorely against his will--begging Richards to raise the money
somehow. Richards's answer was in his pocket, for he wore the best black
broadcloth in which he had done honor to the lawyer, yesterday. Richards
plainly was wounded; but he explained in detail to Nelson how he
(Nelson) could borrow money of the banks on his farm and pay Miss Brown.
There was no bank where Richards could borrow money; and he begged
Nelson not to drive his wife and little children from their cherished
home. Nelson choked over the pathos when he read the letter to Tim; but
Tim only grunted a wish that HE had the handling of that feller. And the
lawyer was as little moved as Tim. Miss Brown needed the money, he said.
The banks were not disposed to lend just at present; money, it appeared,
was "tight;" so, in the end, Nelson drove home with the face of Failure
staring at him between his horses' ears.

There was only one way. Should he make Richards suffer or suffer
himself? Did a man have to grind other people or be ground himself?
Meanwhile they had reached the town. The stir of a festival was in the
air. On every side bunting streamed in the breeze or was draped across
brick or wood. Arches spanned some of the streets, with inscriptions of
welcome on them, and swarms of colored lanterns glittered against the
sunlight almost as gayly as they would show when they should be lighted
at night. Little children ran about waving flags. Grocery wagons and
butchers' wagons trotted by with a flash of flags dangling from the
horses' harness. The streets were filled with people in their holiday
clothes. Everybody smiled. The shopkeepers answered questions and went
out on the sidewalks to direct strangers. From one window hung a banner
inviting visitors to enter and get a list of hotels and boarding-houses.
The crowd was entirely good-humored and waited outside restaurants,
bandying jokes with true Western philosophy. At times the wagons made
a temporary blockade in the street, but no one grumbled. Bands of music
paraded past them, the escort for visitors of especial consideration.
In a window belonging, the sign above declared, to the Business Men's
Association, stood a huge doll clad in blue satin, on which was painted
a device of Neptune sailing down the Mississippi amid a storm of
fireworks. The doll stood in a boat arched about with lantern-decked
hoops, and while Nelson halted, unable to proceed, he could hear
the voluble explanation of the proud citizen who was interpreting to
strangers.

This, Nelson thought, was success. Here were the successful men. The man
who had failed looked at them. Eve roused him by a shrill cry, "There
they are. There's May and the girls. Let me out quick, Uncle!"

He stopped the horse and jumped out himself to help her. It was the
first time since she came under his roof that she had been away from it
all night. He cleared his throat for some advice on behavior. "Mind and
be respectful to Mrs. Arlington. Say yes, ma'am, and no, ma'am----" He
got no further, for Eve gave him a hasty kiss and the crowd brushed her
away.

"All she thinks of is wearing fine clothes and going with the fellers!"
said her brother, disdainfully. "If I had to be born a girl, I wouldn't
be born at all!"

"Maybe if you despise girls so, you'll be born a girl the next time,"
said Nelson. "Some folks thinks that's how it happens with us."

"Do YOU, Uncle?" asked Tim, running his mind forebodingly over the
possible business results of such a belief. "S'posing he shouldn't be
willing to sell the pigs to be killed, 'cause they might be some friends
of his!" he reflected, with a rising tide of consternation. Nelson
smiled rather sadly. He said, in another tone: "Tim, I've thought so
many things, that now I've about given up thinking. All I can do is to
live along the best way I know how and help the world move the best I'm
able."

"You bet _I_ ain't going to help the world move," said the boy; "I'm
going to look out for myself!"

"Then my training of you has turned out pretty badly, if that's the way
you feel."

A little shiver passed over the lad's sullen face; he flushed until he
lost his freckles in the red veil and burst out passionately: "Well, I
got eyes, ain't I? I ain't going to be bad, or drink, or steal, or do
things to git put in the penitentiary; but I ain't going to let folks
walk all over me like you do; no, sir!"

Nelson did not answer; in his heart he thought that he had failed with
the children, too; and he relapsed into that dismal study of the face of
Failure.

He had come to the city to show Tim the sights, and, therefore, though
like a man in a dream, he drove conscientiously about the gay streets,
pointing out whatever he thought might interest the boy, and generally
discovering that Tim had the new information by heart already. All
the while a question pounded itself, like the beat of the heart of an
engine, through the noise and the talk: "Shall I give up Richards or be
turned out myself?"

When the afternoon sunlight waned he put up the horse at a modest little
stable where farmers were allowed to bring their own provender. The
charges were of the smallest and the place neat and weather-tight,
but it had been a long time before Nelson could be induced to use it,
because there was a higher-priced stable kept by an ex-farmer and
member of the Farmers' Alliance. Only the fact that the keeper of the
low-priced stable was a poor orphan girl, struggling to earn an honest
livelihood, had moved him.

They had supper at a restaurant of Tim's discovery, small, specklessly
tidy, and as unexacting of the pocket as the stable. It was an excellent
supper. But Nelson had no appetite; in spite of an almost childish
capacity for being diverted, he could attend to nothing but the question
always in his ears: "Richards or me--which?"

Until it should be time for the spectacle they walked down the hill,
and watched the crowds gradually blacken every inch of the river-banks.
Already the swarms of lanterns were beginning to bloom out in the dusk.
Strains of music throbbed through the air, adding a poignant touch to
the excitement vibrating in all the faces and voices about them. Even
the stolid Tim felt the contagion. He walked with a jaunty step and
assaulted a tune himself. "I tell you, Uncle," says Tim, "it's nice of
these folks to be getting up all this show, and giving it for nothing!"

"Do you think so?" says Nelson. "You don't love your book as I wish
you did; but I guess you remember about the ancient Romans, and how the
great, rich Romans used to spend enormous sums in games and shows that
they let the people in free to--well, what for? Was it to learn them
anything or to make them happy? Oh, no, it was to keep down the spirit
of liberty, Son, it was to make them content to be slaves! And so it
is here. These merchants and capitalists are only looking out for
themselves, trying to keep labor down and not let it know how oppressed
it is, trying to get people here from everywhere to show what a fine
city they have and get their money."

"Well, 'TIS a fine town," Tim burst in, "a boss town! And they ain't
gouging folks a little bit. None of the hotels or the restaurants
have put up their prices one cent. Look what a dandy supper we got for
twenty-five cents! And ain't the boy at Lumley's grocery given me two
tickets to set on the steamboat? There's nothing mean about this town!"

Nelson made no remark; but he thought, for the fiftieth time, that his
farm was too near the city. Tim was picking up all the city boys' false
pride as well as their slang. Unconscious Tim resumed his tune. He knew
that it was "Annie Rooney" if no one else did, and he mangled the notes
with appropriate exhilaration.

Now, the river was as busy as the land, lights swimming hither and
thither; steamboats with ropes of tiny stars bespangling their dark bulk
and a white electric glare in the bow, low boats with lights that sent
wavering spear-heads into the shadow beneath. The bridge was a blazing
barbed fence of fire, and beyond the bridge, at the point of the island,
lay a glittering multitude of lights, a fairy fleet with miniature sails
outlined in flame as if by jewels.

Nelson followed Tim. The crowds, the ceaseless clatter of tongues and
jar of wheels, depressed the man, who hardly knew which way to dodge
the multitudinous perils of the thoroughfare; but Tim used his elbows to
such good purpose that they were out of the levee, on the steamboat, and
settling themselves in two comfortable chairs in a coign of vantage on
deck, that commanded the best obtainable view of the pageant, before
Nelson had gathered his wits together enough to plan a path out of the
crush.

"I sized up this place from the shore," Tim sighed complacently, drawing
a long breath of relief; "only jest two chairs, so we won't be crowded."

Obediently, Nelson took his chair. His head sank on his thin chest.
Richards or himself, which should he sacrifice? So the weary old
question droned through his brain. He felt a tap on his shoulder. The
man who roused him was an acquaintance, and he stood smiling in the
attitude of a man about to ask a favor, while the expectant half-smile
of the lady on his arm hinted at the nature of the favor. Would Mr.
Forrest be so kind?--there seemed to be no more seats. Before Mr.
Forrest could be kind Tim had yielded his own chair and was off,
wriggling among the crowd in search of another place.

"Smart boy, that youngster of yours," said the man; "he'll make his way
in the world, he can push. Well, Miss Alma, let me make you acquainted
with Mr. Forrest. I know you will be well entertained by him. So, if
you'll excuse me, I'll get back and help my wife wrestle with the kids.
They have been trying to see which will fall overboard first ever since
we came on deck!"

Under the leeway of this pleasantry he bowed and retired. Nelson turned
with determined politeness to the lady. He was sorry that she had come,
she looking to him a very fine lady indeed, with her black silk gown,
her shining black ornaments, and her bright black eyes. She was not
young, but handsome in Nelson's judgment, although of a haughty bearing.
"Maybe she is the principal of the High School," thought he. "Martin has
her for a boarder, and he said she was very particular about her melons
being cold!"

But however formidable a personage, the lady must be entertained.

"I expect you are a resident of the city, ma'am?" said Nelson.

"Yes, I was born here." She smiled, a smile that revealed a little break
in the curve of her cheek, not exactly a dimple, but like one.

"I don't know when I have seen such a fine appearing lady," thought
Nelson. He responded: "Well, I wasn't born here; but I come when I was
a little shaver of ten and stayed till I was eighteen, when I went to
Kansas to help fight the border ruffians. I went to school here in the
Warren Street school-house."

"So did I, as long as I went anywhere to school. I had to go to work
when I was twelve."

Nelson's amazement took shape before his courtesy had a chance to
control it. "I didn't suppose you ever did any work in your life!" cried
he.

"I guess I haven't done much else. Father died when I was twelve and the
oldest of five, the next only eight--Polly, that came between Eb and me,
died--naturally I had to work. I was a nurse-girl by the day, first; and
I never shall forget how kind the woman was to me. She gave me so much
dinner I never needed to eat any breakfast, which was a help."

"You poor little thing! I'm afraid you went hungry sometimes."
Immediately he marvelled at his familiar speech, but she did not seem to
resent it.

"No, not so often," she said, musingly; "but I used often and often
to wish I could carry some of the nice things home to mother and the
babies. After a while she would give me a cookey or a piece of bread
and butter for lunch; that I could take home. I don't suppose I'll often
have more pleasure than I used to have then, seeing little Eb waiting
for sister; and the baby and mother----" She stopped abruptly, to
continue, in an instant, with a kind of laugh; "I am never likely to
feel so important again as I did then, either. It was great to have
mother consulting me, as if I had been grown up. I felt like I had the
weight of the nation on my shoulders, I assure you."

"And have you always worked since? You are not working out now?" with a
glance at her shining gown.

"Oh, no, not for a long time. I learned to be a cook. I was a good cook,
too, if I say it myself. I worked for the Lossings for four years. I am
not a bit ashamed of being a hired girl, for I was as good a one as
I knew how. It was Mrs. Lossing that first lent me books; and Harry
Lossing, who is head of the firm now, got Ebenezer into the works.
Ebenezer is shipping-clerk with a good salary and stock in the concern;
and Ralph is there, learning the trade. I went to the business-college
and learned book-keeping, and afterward I learned typewriting and
shorthand. I have been working for the firm for fourteen years. We
have educated the girls. Milly is married, and Kitty goes to the
boarding-school, here."

"Then you haven't been married yourself?"

"What time did I have to think of being married? I had the family on my
mind, and looking after them."

"That was more fortunate for your family than it was for my sex,"
said Nelson, gallantly. He accompanied the compliment by a glance of
admiration, extinguished in an eye-flash, for the white radiance that
had bathed the deck suddenly vanished.

"Now you will see a lovely sight," said the woman, deigning no reply to
his tribute; "listen! That is the signal."

The air was shaken with the boom of cannon. Once, twice, thrice.
Directly the boat-whistles took up the roar, making a hideous din. The
fleet had moved. Spouting rockets and Roman candles, which painted above
it a kaleidoscopic archway of fire, welcomed by answering javelins of
light and red and orange and blue and green flares from the shore; the
fleet bombarded the bridge, escorted Neptune in his car, manoeuvred and
massed and charged on the blazing city with a many-hued shower of flame.

After the boats, silently, softly, floated the battalions of lanterns,
so close to the water that they seemed flaming water-lilies, while the
dusky mirror repeated and inverted their splendor.

"They're shingles, you know," explained Nelson's companion, "with
lanterns on them; but aren't they pretty?"

"Yes, they are! I wish you had not told me. It is like a fairy story!"

"Ain't it? But we aren't through; there's more to come. Beautiful
fireworks!"

The fireworks, however, were slow of coming. They could see the barge
from which they were to be sent; they could watch the movements of the
men in white oil-cloth who moved in a ghostly fashion about the barge;
they could hear the tap of hammers; but nothing came of it all.

They sat in the darkness, waiting; and there came to Nelson a strange
sensation of being alone and apart from all the breathing world with
this woman. He did not perceive that Tim had quietly returned with a box
which did very well for a seat, and was sitting with his knees against
the chair-rungs. He seemed to be somehow outside of all the tumult and
the spectacle. It was the vainglorying triumph of this world. He was the
soul outside, the soul that had missed its triumph. In his perplexity
and loneliness he felt an overwhelming longing for sympathy; neither did
it strike Nelson, who believed in all sorts of occult influences, that
his confidence in a stranger was unwarranted. He would have told you
that his "psychic instincts" never played him false, although really
they were traitors from their astral cradles to their astral graves.

He said in a hesitating way: "You must excuse me being kinder dull; I've
got some serious business on my mind and I can't help thinking of it."

"Is that so? Well, I know how that is; I have often stayed awake nights
worrying about things. Lest I shouldn't suit and all that--especially
after mother took sick."

"I s'pose you had to give up and nurse her then?"

"That was what Ebenezer and Ralph were for having me do; but mother--my
mother always had so much sense--mother says, 'No, Alma, you've got a
good place and a chance in life, you sha'n't give it up. We'll hire a
girl. I ain't never lonesome except evenings, and then you will be home.
I should jest want to die,' she says, 'if I thought I kept you in a kind
of prison like by my being sick--now, just when you are getting on
so well.' There never WAS a woman like my mother!" Her voice shook a
little, and Nelson asked gently:

"Ain't your mother living now?"

"No, she died last year." She added, after a little silence, "I somehow
can't get used to being lonesome."

"It IS hard," said Nelson. "I lost my wife three years ago."

"That's hard, too."

"My goodness! I guess it is. And it's hardest when trouble comes on a
man and he can't go nowhere for advice."

"Yes, that's so, too. But--have you any children?"

"Yes, ma'am; that is, they ain't my own children. Lizzie and I never had
any; but these two we took and they are most like my own. The girl is
eighteen and the boy rising of fourteen."

"They must be a comfort to you; but they are considerable of a
responsibility, too."

"Yes, ma'am," he sighed softly to himself. "Sometimes I feel I haven't
done the right way by them, though I've tried. Not that they ain't
good children, for they are--no better anywhere. Tim, he will work from
morning till night, and never need to urge him; and he never gives me a
promise he don't keep it, no ma'am, never did since he was a little
mite of a lad. And he is a kind boy, too, always good to the beasts; and
while he may speak up a little short to his sister, he saves her many a
step. He doesn't take to his studies quite as I would like to have him,
but he has a wonderful head for business. There is splendid stuff in Tim
if it could only be worked right."

While Nelson spoke, Tim was hunching his shoulders forward in the
darkness, listening with the whole of two sharp ears. His face worked in
spite of him, and he gave an inarticulate snort.

"Well," the woman said, "I think that speaks well for Tim. Why should
you be worried about him?"

"I am afraid he is getting to love money and worldly success too well,
and that is what I fear for the girl, too. You see, she is so pretty,
and the idols of the tribe and the market, as Bacon calls them, are
strong with the young."

"Yes, that's so," the woman assented vaguely, not at all sure what
either Bacon or his idols might be. "Are the children relations of
yours?"

"No, ma'am; it was like this: When I was up in Henry County there came
a photographic artist to the village near us, and pitched his tent and
took tintypes in his wagon. He had his wife and his two children with
him. The poor woman fell ill and died; so we took the two children.
My wife was willing; she was a wonderfully good woman, member of the
Methodist church till she died. I--I am not a church member myself,
ma'am; I passed through that stage of spiritual development a long
while ago." He gave a wistful glance at his companion's dimly outlined
profile. "But I never tried to disturb her faith; it made HER happy."

"Oh, I don't think it is any good fooling with other people's
religions," said the woman, easily. "It is just like trying to talk
folks out of drinking; nobody knows what is right for anybody else's
soul any more than they do what is good for anybody else's stomach!"

"Yes, ma'am. You put things very clearly."

"I guess it is because you understand so quickly. But you were
saying------"

"That's all the story. We took the children, and their father was killed
by the cars the next year, poor man; and so we have done the best we
could ever since by them."

"I should say you had done very well by them."

"No, ma'am; I haven't done very well somehow by anyone, myself included,
though God knows I've tried hard enough!"

Then followed the silence natural after such a confession when the
listener does not know the speaker well enough to parry abasement by
denial.

"I am impressed," said Nelson, simply, "to talk with you frankly. It
isn't polite to bother strangers with your troubles, but I am impressed
that you won't mind."

"Oh, no, I won't mind."

It was not extravagant sympathy; but Nelson thought how kind her voice
sounded, and what a musical voice it was. Most people would have called
it rather sharp.

He told her--with surprisingly little egotism, as the keen listener
noted--the story of his life; the struggle of his boyhood; his random
self-education; his years in the army (he had criticised his superior
officers, thereby losing the promotion that was coming for bravery in
the field); his marriage (apparently he had married his wife because
another man had jilted her); his wrestle with nature (whose pranks
included a cyclone) on a frontier farm that he eventually lost, having
put all his savings into a "Greenback" newspaper, and being thus swamped
with debt; his final slow success in paying for his Iowa farm; and his
purchase of the new farm, with its resulting disaster. "I've farmed in
Kansas," he said, "in Nebraska, in Dakota, in Iowa. I was willing to
go wherever the land promised. It always seemed like I was going to
succeed, but somehow I never did. The world ain't fixed right for the
workers, I take it. A man who has spent thirty years in hard, honest
toil oughtn't to be staring ruin in the face like I am to-day. They
won't let it be so when we have the single tax and when we farmers send
our own men instead of city lawyers, to the Legislature and halls of
Congress. Sometimes I think it's the world that's wrong and sometimes I
think it's me!"

The reply came in crisp and assured accents, which were the strongest
contrast to Nelson's soft, undecided pipe: "Seems to me in this last
case the one most to blame is neither you nor the world at large, but
this man Richards, who is asking YOU to pay for HIS farm. And I notice
you don't seem to consider your creditor in this business. How do you
know she don't need the money? Look at me, for instance; I'm in some
financial difficulty myself. I have a mortgage for two thousand dollars,
and that mortgage--for which good value was given, mind you--falls due
this month. I want the money. I want it bad. I have a chance to put
my money into stock at the factory. I know all about the investment;
I haven't worked there all these years and not know how the business
stands. It is a chance to make a fortune. I ain't likely to ever have
another like it; and it won't wait for me to make up my mind forever,
either. Isn't it hard on me, too?"

"Lord knows it is, ma'am," said Nelson, despondently; "it is hard on
us all! Sometimes I don't see the end of it all. A vast social
revolution----"

"Social fiddlesticks! I beg your pardon, Mr. Forrest, but it puts me out
of patience to have people expecting to be allowed to make every mortal
kind of fools of themselves and then have 'a social revolution' jump in
to slue off the consequences. Let us understand each other. Who do you
suppose I am?"

"Miss--Miss Almer, ain't it?"

"It's Alma Brown, Mr. Forrest. I saw you coming on the boat and I made
Mr. Martin fetch me over to you. I told him not to say my name, because
I wanted a good plain talk with you. Well, I've had it. Things are
just about where I thought they were, and I told Mr. Lossing so. But I
couldn't be sure. You must have thought me a funny kind of woman to be
telling you all those things about myself."

Nelson, who had changed color half a dozen times in the darkness, sighed
before he said: "No, ma'am; I only thought how good you were to tell me.
I hoped maybe you were impressed to trust me as I was to trust you."

Being so dark Nelson could not see the queer expression on her face as
she slowly shook her head. She was thinking: "If I ever saw a babe in
arms trying to do business! How did HE ever pay for a farm?" She said:
"Well, I did it on purpose; I wanted you to know I wasn't a cruel
aristocrat, but a woman that had worked as hard as yourself. Now, why
shouldn't you help me and yourself instead of helping Richards? You have
confidence in me, you say. Well, show it. I'll give you your mortgage
for your mortgage on Richards's farm. Come, can't you trust Richards to
me? You think it over."

The hiss of a rocket hurled her words into space. The fireworks had
begun. Miss Brown looked at them and watched Nelson at the same time.
As a good business woman who was also a good citizen, having subscribed
five dollars to the carnival, she did not propose to lose the worth
of her money; neither did she intend to lose a chance to do business.
Perhaps there was an obscurer and more complex motive lurking in some
stray corner of that queer garret, a woman's mind. Such motives--aimless
softenings of the heart, unprofitable diversions of the fancy--will seep
unconsciously through the toughest business principles of woman.

She was puzzled by the look of exaltation on Nelson's features,
illumined as they were by the uncanny light. If the fool man had not
forgotten all his troubles just to see a few fireworks! No, he was not
that kind of a fool; maybe--and she almost laughed aloud in her pleasure
over her own insight--maybe it all made him think of the war, where
he had been so brave. "He was a regular hero in the war," Miss Brown
concluded, "and he certainly is a perfect gentleman; what a pity he
hasn't got any sense!"

She had guessed aright, although she had not guessed deep enough in
regard to Nelson. He watched the great wheels of light, he watched the
river aflame with Greek fire, then, with a shiver, he watched the bombs
bursting into myriads of flowers, into fizzing snakes, into fields of
burning gold, into showers of jewels that made the night splendid for
a second and faded. They were not fireworks to him; they were a magical
phantasmagoria that renewed the incoherent and violent emotions of his
youth; again he was in the chaos of the battle, or he was dreaming by
his camp-fire, or he was pacing his lonely round on guard. His heart
leaped again with the old glow, the wonderful, beautiful worship of
Liberty that can do no wrong. He seemed to hear a thousand voices
chanting:

"In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, As He died
to make men holy, let us die to make men free!"


His turbid musings cleared--or they seemed to him to clear--under the
strong reaction of his imagination and his memories. It was all over,
the dream and the glory thereof. The splendid young soldier was an
elderly, ruined man. But one thing was left: he could be true to his
flag.

"A poor soldier, but enlisted for the war," says Nelson, squaring his
shoulders, with a lump in his throat and his eyes brimming. "I know by
the way it hurts me to think of refusing her that it's a temptation to
wrong-doing. No, I can't save myself by sacrificing a brother soldier
for humanity. She is just as kind as she can be, but women don't
understand business; she wouldn't make allowance for Richards."

He felt a hand on his shoulder; it was Martin apologizing for hurrying
Miss Brown; but the baby was fretting and----

"I'm sorry--yes--well, I wish you didn't have to go!" Nelson began; but
a hoarse treble rose from under his elbows: "Say, Mr. Martin, Uncle and
me can take Miss Brown home."

"If you will allow me the pleasure," said Nelson, with the touch of
courtliness that showed through his homespun ways.

"Well, I WOULD like to see the hundred bombs bursting at once and Vulcan
at his forge!" said Miss Brown.

Thus the matter arranged itself. Tim waited with the lady while Nelson
went for the horse, nor was it until afterward that Miss Brown wondered
why the lad did not go instead of the man. But Tim had his own reasons.
No sooner was Nelson out of earshot than he began: "Say, Miss Brown, I
can tell you something."

"Yes?"

"That Richards is no good; but you can't get Uncle to see it. At least
it will take time. If you'll help me we can get him round in time. Won't
you please not sell us out for six months and give me a show? I'll see
you get your interest and your money, too."

"You?" Miss Brown involuntarily took a business attitude, with her arms
akimbo, and eyed the boy.

"Yes, ma'am, me. I ain't so very old, but I know all about the business.
I got all the figures down--how much we raise and what we got last year.
I can fetch them to you so you can see. He is a good farmer, and he will
catch on to the melons pretty quick. We'll do better next year, and I'll
try to keep him from belonging to things and spending money; and if he
won't lend to anybody or start in raising a new kind of crop just when
we get the melons going, he will make money sure. He is awful good and
honest. All the trouble with him is he needs somebody to take care
of him. If Aunt Lizzie had been alive he never would have lent that
dead-beat Richards that money. He ought to get married."

Miss Brown did not feel called on to say anything. Tim continued in a
judicial way: "He is awful good and kind, always gets up in the morning
to make the fire if I have got something else to do; and he'd think
everything his wife did was the best in the world; and if he had
somebody to take care of him he'd make money. I don't suppose YOU would
think of it?" This last in an insinuating tone, with evident anxiety.

"Well, I never!" said Miss Brown.

Whether she was more offended or amused she couldn't tell; and she stood
staring at him by the electric light. To her amazement the hard little
face began to twitch. "I didn't mean to mad you," Tim grunted, with a
quiver in his rough voice. "I've been listening to every word you
said, and I thought you were so sensible you'd talk over things without
nonsense. Of course I knew he'd have to come and see you Saturday
nights, and take you buggy riding, and take you to the theatre, and
all such things--first. But I thought we could sorter fix it up between
ourselves. I've taken care of him ever since Aunt Lizzie died, and I did
my best he shouldn't lend that money, but I couldn't help it; and I
did keep him from marrying a widow woman with eight children, who kept
telling him how much her poor fatherless children needed a man; and I
never did see anybody I was willing--before--and it's--it's so lonesome
without Aunt Lizzie!" He choked and frowned. Poor Tim, who had sold so
many melons to women and seen so much of back doors and kitchen humors
that he held the sex very cheap, he did not realize how hard he would
find it to talk of the one woman who had been kind to him! He turned red
with shame over his own weakness.

"You poor little chap!" cried Miss Brown; "you poor little sharp,
innocent chap!" The hand she laid on his shoulder patted it as she went
on: "Never mind, if I can't marry your uncle, I can help you take care
of him. You're a real nice boy, and I'm not mad; don't you think it.
There's your uncle now."

Nelson found her so gentle that he began to have qualms lest his
carefully prepared speech should hurt her feelings. But there was no
help for it now. "I have thought over your kind offer to me, ma'am,"
said he, humbly, "and I got a proposition to make to you. It is your
honest due to have your farm, yes, ma'am. Well, I know a man would like
to buy it; I'll sell it to him, and pay you your money."

"But that wasn't my proposal."

"I know it, ma'am. I honor you for your kindness; but I can't risk
what--what might be another person's idea of duty about Richards. Our
consciences ain't all equally enlightened, you know."

Miss Brown did not answer a word.

They drove along the streets where the lanterns were fading. Tim grew
uneasy, she was silent so long. On the brow of the hill she indicated a
side street and told them to stop the horse before a little brown house.
One of the windows was a dim square of red.

"It isn't quite so lonesome coming home to a light," said Miss Brown.

As Nelson cramped the wheel to jump out to help her from the vehicle,
the light from the electric arc fell full on his handsome face and
showed her the look of compassion and admiration, there.

"Wait one moment," she said, detaining him with one firm hand. "I've got
something to say to you. Let Richards go for the present; all I ask of
you about him is that you will do nothing until we can find out if he
is so bad off. But, Mr. Forrest, I can do better for you about that
mortgage. Mr. Lossing will take it for three years for a relative of his
and pay me the money. I told him the story."

"And YOU will get the money all right?"

"Just the same. I was only trying to help you a little by the other way,
and I failed. Never mind."

"I can't tell you how you make me feel," said Nelson.

"Please let him bring you some melons to-morrow and make a stagger at
it, though," said Tim.

"Can I?" Nelson's eyes shone.

"If you want to," said Miss Brown. She laughed; but in a moment she
smiled.

All the way home Nelson saw the same face of Failure between the old
mare's white ears; but its grim lineaments were softened by a smile, a
smile like Miss Brown's.



TOMMY AND THOMAS

IT was while Harry Lossing was at the High School that Mrs. Carriswood
first saw Tommy Fitzmaurice. He was not much to see, a long lad of
sixteen who had outgrown his jackets and was not yet grown to his ears.

At this period Mrs. Fitzmaurice was his barber, and she, having been too
rash with the shears in one place, had snipped off the rest of his curly
black locks "to match;" until he showed a perfect convict's poll, giving
his ears all the better chance, and bringing out the rather square
contour of his jaws to advantage. He had the true Irish-Norman face; a
skin of fine texture, fair and freckled, high cheekbones, straight nose,
and wide blue eyes that looked to be drawn with ink, because of their
sharply pencilled brows and long, thick, black lashes. But the
feature that Mrs. Carriswood noticed was Tommy's mouth, a flexible and
delicately cut mouth, of which the lips moved lightly in speaking and
seldom were quite in repose.

"The genuine Irish orator's mouth," thought Mrs. Carriswood.

Tommy, however, was not a finished orator, and Mrs. Carriswood herself
deigned to help him with his graduating oration; Tommy delivering the
aforesaid oration from memory, on the stage of the Grand Opera House,
to a warm-hearted and perspiring audience of his towns-people, amid
tremendous applause and not the slightest prod-dings of conscience.

Really the speech deserved the applause; Mrs. Carriswood, who had heard
half the eloquence of the world, spent three evenings on it; and she has
a good memory.

Her part in the affair always amused her; though, in fact, it came to
pass easily. She had the great fortune of the family. Being a widow with
no children, and the time not being come when philanthropy beckons on
the right hand and on the left to free-handed women, Mrs. Carriswood
travelled. As she expressed it, she was searching the globe for a
perfect climate. "Not that I in the least expect to find it," said she,
cheerfully, "but I like to vary my disappointments; when I get worn out
being frozen, winters, I go somewhere to be soaked." She was on her way
to California this time, with her English maid, who gave the Lossing
domestics many a jolly moment by her inextinguishable panic about red
Indians. Mrs. Derry supposed these savages to be lurking on the prairie
outside every Western town; and almost fainted when she did chance
to turn the corner upon three Kickapoo Indians, splendid in paint and
feathers, and peacefully vending the "Famous Kickapoo Sagwa." She had
others of the artless notions of the travelling English, and I fear that
they were encouraged not only by the cook, the "second girl," and the
man-of-all-work, but by Harry and his chum, Tommy; I know she used to
tell how she saw tame buffalo "roosting" on the streets, "w'ich they do
look that like common cows a body couldn't tell 'em hapart!"

She had a great opinion of Tommy, a mystery to her mistress for a long
time, until one day it leaked out that Tommy "and Master Harry, too,"
had told her that Tommy's great-grandfather was a lord in the old
country.

"The family seem to have sunk in the world since, Derry," was Mrs.
Carriswood's single remark, as she smiled to herself. After Derry was
dismissed she picked up a letter, written that day to a friend of hers,
and read some passages about Harry and Tommy, smiling again.

"Harry"--one may look over her pretty shoulder without impertinence, in
a story--"Harry," she wrote, "is a boy that I long to steal. Just the
kind of boy we have both wanted, Sarah--frank, happy, affectionate. I
must tell you something about him. It came out by accident. He has the
Western business instincts, and what do you suppose he did? He actually
started a wee shop of his own in the corner of the yard (really it is
a surprisingly pretty place, and they are quite civilized in the house,
gas, hot water, steam heat, all most comfortable), and sold 'pop' and
candy and cakes to the boys. He made so much money that he proposed a
partnership to the cook and the setting up a little booth in the 'county
fair,' which is like our rural cattle shows, you know. The cook (a
superior person who borrows books from Mrs. Lossing, but seems very
decent and respectful notwithstanding, and broils game to perfection.
And SUCH game as we have here, Sarah!)--well, the cook made him
cream-cakes, sandwiches, tarts, and candy, and Harry honorably bought
all the provisions with his profits from the first venture. You will
open your eyes at his father permitting such a thing, but Henry Lossing
is a thorough Westerner in some ways, and he looks on it all as a joke.
'Might show the boy how to do business,' he says.

"Well, they had a ravishing display, so Alma, the cook, and William, the
man, assured me--per Derry. All the sadder its fate; for alas! a gang
of rowdy boys fell upon Harry, and while he was busy fighting half of
them--he is as plucky as his uncle, the general--the other half looted
the beautiful stock in trade! They would have despoiled our poor little
merchant entirely but for the opportune arrival of a schoolmate who
is mightily respected by the rowdies. He knocked one of them down and
shouted after the others that he would give every one of them a good
thrashing if they did not bring the plunder back; and as he is known to
be a lad of his word for good or evil, actually the scamps did return
most of the booty, which the two boys brushed off and sold, as far as it
went (!) The consequence of the fray has been that Harry is unboundedly
grateful to this Tommy Fitzmaurice, and is at present coaching him on
his graduating oration. Fitzmaurice has studied hard and won honors, and
wants to make a show with his oration, to please his father. 'You see,'
says Harry, 'Tommy's father has saved money and is spending it all on
Tommy, so's he can be educated. He needs Tommy in the business real
bad, but he won't let him come in; he keeps him at school, and he thinks
everything of his getting the valedictory, and Tommy, he worked nights
studying to get it.' When I asked what was the father's business, Harry
grew a bit confused. 'Well, he kept a saloon; but'--Harry hastened to
explain--'it was a very nice saloon, never any trouble with the police
there; why, Tommy knew every man on the force. And they keep good
liquors, too,' said Harry, earnestly; 'throw away all the beer left in
the glasses.' 'What else would they do with it?' asked innocent I. 'Why,
keep it in a bucket,' said Harry, solemnly, 'and then slip the glass
under the counter and half fill out of the bucket, then hold it under
the keg LOW, so's the foam will come; that's a trick of the trade, you
know. Tommy says his father would SCORN that!' There is a vista opened,
isn't there? I was rather shocked at such associates for Harry, and told
his mother. Did she think it a good idea to have such a boy coming to
the house? a saloon-keeper's son? She did not laugh, as I half expected,
but answered quite seriously that she had been looking up Tommy, that
he was very much attached to Harry, and that she did not think he would
teach him anything bad. He has, I find myself, notions of honor, though
they are rather the code of the street. And he picks up things quickly.
Once he came to tea. It was amusing to see how he glued his eyes on
Harry and kept time with his motions. He used his fork quite properly,
only as Harry is a left-handed little fellow, the right-handed Thomas
had the more difficulty.

"He is taking such vast pains with his 'oration' that I felt moved to
help him. The subject is 'The Triumph of Democracy,' and Tommy civilly
explained that 'democracy' did not mean the Democratic party, but 'just
only a government where all the poor folks can get their rights and can
vote.'

"The oration was the kind of spread-eagle thing you might expect; I
can see that Tommy has formed himself on the orators of his father's
respectable saloon. What he said in comment interested me more. 'Sure, I
guess it is the best government, ma'am, though, of course, I got to make
it out that way, anyhow. But we come from Ireland, and there they got
the other kind, and me granny, she starved in the famine time, she did
that--with the fever. Me father walked twenty mile to the Sackville's
place, where they gave him some meal, though he wasn't one of their
tenants; yes, and the lady told him how he would be cooking it. I never
will forget that lady!'

"I saw a dramatic opportunity: would Tommy be willing to tell that story
in his speech? He looked at me with an odd look--or so I imagined it!
'Why not?' says he; 'I'd as soon as not tell it to anyone of them, and
why not to them all together?' Well, why not, when you come to think
of it? So we have got it into the speech; and I, I myself, Sarah, am
drilling young Demos-thenes, and he is so apt a scholar that I find
myself rather pleasantly employed." Having read her letter, Mrs.
Carriswood hesitated a second and then added Derry's information at
the bottom of the page. "I suppose the lordly ancestor was one of King
James's creation--see Macaulay, somewhere in the second volume. I dare
say there is a drop or two of good blood in the boy. He has the manners
of a gentleman--but I don't know that I ever saw an Irishman, no matter
how low in the social scale, who hadn't."

Thus it happened that Tommy's valedictory scored a success that is a
tradition of the High School, and came to be printed in both the city
papers; copies of which journals Tommy's mother has preserved sacredly
to this day; and I have no doubt, could one find them, they would be
found wrapped around a yellow photograph of the "A Class" of 1870: eight
pretty girls in white, smiling among five solemn boys in black, and
Tommy himself, as the valedictorian, occupying the centre of the picture
in his new suit of broadcloth, with a rose in his buttonhole and his
hair cut by a professional barber for the occasion.

It was the story of the famine that really captured the audience; and
Tommy told it well, with the true Irish fire, in a beautiful voice.

In the front seat of the parquette a little old man in a wrinkled black
broadcloth, with a bald head and a fringe of whisker under his long
chin, and a meek little woman, in a red Paisley shawl, wept and laughed
by turns. They had taken the deepest interest in every essay and every
speech. The old man clapped his large hands (which were encased in
loose, black kid gloves) with unflagging vigor. He wore a pair of heavy
boots, the soles of which made a noble thud on the floor.

"Ain't it wonderful the like of them young craters can talk like that!"
he cried; "shure, Molly, that young lady who'd the essay--where is
it?"--a huge black forefinger travelled down the page--"'_Music, The
Turkish Patrol_,' No--though that's grand, that piece; I'll be spakin'
wid Professor Von Keinmitz to bring it when we've the opening. Here
'tis, Molly: '_Tin, Essay. The Darkest Night Brings Out the Stars,
Miss Mamie Odenheimer_.' Thrue for you, mavourneen! And the sintiments,
wasn't they illigant? and the lan-gwidge was as foine as Pat Ronan's
speeches or Father--whist! will ye look at the flowers that shlip of a
gyirl's gitting! Count 'em, will ye?"

"Fourteen bouquets and wan basket," says the little woman, "and Mamie
Odenheimer, she got seventeen bouquets and two baskets and a sign.
Well," she looked anxious, but smiled, "I know of siven bouquets Tommy
will git for sure. And that's not countin' what Harry Lossing will do
for him. Hiven bless the good heart of him!"

"Well, I kin count four for him on wan seat," says the man, with a nod
of his head toward the gay heap in the woman's lap, "barrin' I ain't
on-vaygled into flinging some of thim to the young ladies!"

Harry Lossing, in the seat behind with his mother and Mrs. Carriswood,
giggled at this and whispered in the latter lady's ear, "That's Tommy's
father and mother. My, aren't they excited, though! And Tommy's white's
a sheet--for fear he'll disappoint them, you know. He has said his piece
over twice to me, to-day, he's so scared lest he'll forget. I've got it
in my pocket, and I'm going behind when it's his turn, to prompt him.
Did you see me winking at him? it sort of cheers him up."

He was almost as keen over the floral procession as the Fitzmaurices
themselves. The Lossing garden had been stripped to the last bud, and
levies made on the asparagus-bed, into the bargain, and Mrs. Lossing and
Alma and Mrs. Carriswood and Derry and Susy Lossing had made bouquets
and baskets and wreaths, and Harry had distributed them among friends
in different parts of the house. I say Harry, but, complimented by Mrs.
Carriswood, he admitted ingenuously that it was Tommy's idea.

"Tommy thought they would make more show that way," says Harry, "and
they are all on the middle aisle, so his father and mother can see them;
Tim O'Halloran has got one for him, too, and Mrs. Macillarney, and she's
got some splendid pinies. Picked every last one. They'll make a show!"

But Harry knew nothing of the most magnificent of his friend's trophies
until it undulated gloriously down the aisle, above the heads of two
men, white satin ribbons flying, tinfoil shining--an enormous horseshoe
of roses and mignonette!

The parents were both on their feet to crane their necks after it, as it
passed them amid the plaudits.

"Oh, it was YOU, Cousin Margaret; I know it was you," cried Harry.

He took the ladies over to the Fitzmaurices the minute that the diplomas
were given; and, directly, Tommy joined them, attended by two admiring
followers laden with the trophies. Mrs. O'Halloran and Mrs. Macillarney
and divers of the friends, both male and female, joined the circle.
Tommy held quite a little court. He shook hands with all the ladies,
beginning with Mrs. Carriswood (who certainly never had found herself
before in such a company, jammed between Alderman McGinnis's resplendent
new tweeds and Mrs. Macillarney's calico); he affectionately embraced
his mother, and he allowed himself to be embraced by Mrs. Macillarney
and Mrs. O'Halloran, while Patrick Fitzmaurice shook hands with the
alderman.

"Here's the lady that helped me on me piece, father; she's the lady
that sent me the horseshoe, mother. Like to make you acquainted with me
father and me mother. Mr. and Mrs. Fitzmaurice, Mrs. Carriswood."

In these words, Tommy, blushing and happy, presented his happy parents.

"Sure, I'm proud to meet you, ma'am," said Fitzmaurice, bowing, while
his wife courtesied and wiped her eyes.

They were very grateful, but they were more grateful for the flowers
than for the oratorical drilling. No doubt they thought that their Tommy
could have done as well in any case; but the splendid horseshoe was
another matter!

Ten years passed before Mrs. Carriswood saw her pupil again. During
those years the town had increased and prospered; so had the Lossing Art
Furniture Works. It was after Harry Lossing had disappointed his father.
This is not saying that he had done anything out of the way; he had
simply declined to be the fourth Harry Lossing on the rolls of Harvard
College. Instead, he proposed to enter the business and to begin by
learning his own trade. He was so industrious, he kept at it with such
energy that his first convert was his father--no, I am wrong, Mrs.
Carriswood was the first; Mrs. Lossing was not a convert, SHE had
believed in Harry from the beginning. But all this was years before Mrs.
Carriswood's visit.

Another of Master Harry's notions was his belief in the necessity of his
"meddling"--so his father put it--in the affairs of the town, the state,
and the nation, as well as those of the Lossing furniture company. But,
though he was pleased to make rather cynical fun of his son's
political enthusiasm, esteeming it in a sense a diverting and therefore
reprehensible pursuit for a business man, the elder Lossing had a
sneaking pride in it, all the same. He liked to bring out Harry's
political shrewdness.

"Fancy, Margaret," says he, "whom do you think Harry has brought over
to our side now? The shrewdest ward politician in the town--why, you saw
him when he was a boy--Tommy Fitzmaurice."

Then Mrs. Carriswood remembered; she asked, amused, how was Tommy and
where was he?

"Tommy? Oh, he went to the State university; the old man was bound to
send him, and he was more dutiful than some sons. He was graduated with
honors, and came back to a large, ready-made justice court's practice.
Of course he drifted into criminal practice; but he has made a fine
income out of that, and is the shrewdest, some folks say the least
scrupulous, political manager in the county. And so, Harry, you have
persuaded him to cast in his lot with the party of principle, have you?
and he is packing the primaries?"

"I see nothing dishonest in our trying to get our friends out to vote at
the primaries, sir."

"Of course not, but he may not stop there. However, I want Bailey
elected, and I am glad he will work for us; what's his price?"

Harry blushed a little. "I believe he would like to be city attorney,
sir," said he; and Mr. Lossing laughed.

"Would he make a bad one?" asked Mrs. Carriswood.

"He would make the best kind of a one," replied Harry, with youthful
fervor; "he's a ward politician and all that, I know; but he has it in
him to be an uncommon deal more! And I say, sir, do you know that he
and the old man will take twenty-five thousand of the stock at par if we
turn ourselves into a corporation?"

"How about this new license measure? won't that bear a little bit hard
on the old man?" This from Mr. Lossing, who was biting his cigar in deep
thought.

"That will not prevent his doing his duty; why, the old man for very
pride will be the first to obey the law. You'll SEE!"

Six months later they did see, since it was mostly due to Fitzmaurice's
efforts that the reform candidate was elected; as a consequence, Tommy
became prosecuting attorney; and, to the amazement of the critics, made
the best prosecuting attorney that the city had ever known.

It was during the campaign that Mrs. Carriswood met him. Her
goddaughter, daughter of the friend to whom years ago she described
Tommy, was with her. This time Mrs. Carriswood had recently added
Florida to her disappointments in climates, and was back, as she told
Mrs. Lossing, "with a real sense of relief in a climate that was too bad
to make any pretensions."

She had brought Miss Van Harlem to see the shops. It may be that she
would not have been averse to Harry Lossing's growing interested in
young Margaret. She had seen a great deal of Harry while he was East at
school, and he remained her first favorite, while Margaret was as good
as she was pretty, and had half a million of dollars in her own right.
They had seen Harry, and he was showing them through the different
buildings or "shops," when a man entered who greeted him cordially, and
whom he presented to Mrs. Carriswood. It was Tommy Fitzmaurice, grown
into a handsome young man. He brought his heels together and made the
ladies a solemn bow. "Pleased to meet you, ladies; how do you like the
West?" said Tommy.

His black locks curled about his ears, which seemed rather small now;
he had a good nose and a mobile, clean-shaven face. His hands were very
white and soft, and the rim of linen above them was dazzling. His black
frock-coat was buttoned snugly about his slim waist. He brushed his face
with a fine silk handkerchief, and thereby diffused the fragrance of the
best imported cologne among the odors of wood and turpentine. A diamond
pin sparkled from his neckscarf. The truth is, he knew that the visitors
were coming and had made a state toilet. "He looks half like an actor
and half like a clergyman, and he IS all a politician," thought Mrs.
Carriswood; "I don't think I shall like him any more." While she
thought, she was inclining her slender neck toward him, and the gentlest
interest and pleasure beamed out of her beautiful, dark eyes.

"We like the West, but _I_ have liked it for ten years; this is not my
first visit," said Mrs. Carriswood.

"I have reason to be glad for that, madam. I never made another speech
so good."

He had remembered her; she laughed. "I had thought that you would
forget."

"How could I, when you have not changed at all?"

"But you have," says Mrs. Carriswood, hardly knowing whether to show the
young man his place or not.

"Yes, ma'am, naturally. But I have not learned how to make a speech
yet."

"Ah, but you make very good ones, Harry tells me."

"Much obliged, Harry. No, ma'am, Harry is a nice boy; but he doesn't
know. I know there is a lot to learn, and I guess a lot to unlearn; and
I feel all outside; I don't even know how to get at it. I have wished a
thousand times that I could talk with the lady who taught me to speak in
the first place." He walked on by her side, talking eagerly. "You don't
know how many times I have felt I would give most anything for the
opportunity of just seeing you and talking with you; those things you
said to me I always remembered." He had a hundred questions evidently
stinging his tongue. And some of them seemed to Mrs. Carriswood very
apposite.

"I'm on the outside of such a lot of things," says he. "When I first
began to suspect that I was on the outside was when I went to the
High School, and sometimes I was invited to Harry's; that was my first
acquaintance with cultivated society. You can't learn manners from
books, ma'am. I learned them at Harry's. That is,"--he colored and
laughed,--"I learned SOME. There's plenty left, I know. Then, I went to
the University. Some of the boys came from homes like Harry's, and
some of the professors there used to ask us to their houses; and I saw
engravings and oil paintings, and heard the conversation of persons of
culture. All this only makes me know enough to KNOW I am outside. I can
see the same thing with the lawyers, too. There is a set of them that
are after another kind of things; that think themselves above me and my
sort of fellows. You know all the talk about this being a free and equal
country. That's the tallest kind of humbug, madam! It is that. There are
sets, one above another, everywhere; big bugs and little bugs, if you
will excuse the expression. And you can't influence the big ones without
knowing how they feel. A fellow can't be poking in the dark in a speech
or anywhere else. Now, these fellows here, they go into politics,
sometimes; and there, I tell you, we come the nearest to a fair
field and no favor! It is the best fellow gets the prize there--the
sharpest-witted, the nerviest, and stanchest. Oh, talk of machine
politics! all the soft chaps who ain't willing to get up early in the
morning, or to go out in the wet, THEY howl about the primaries and
corruption; let them get up and clean the primaries instead of holding
their noses! Those fellows, I'm not nice enough for them, but I can beat
them every time. They make a monstrous racket in the newspapers, but
when election comes on they can't touch side, edge, or bottom!"

Discoursing in this fashion, with digressions to Harry in regard to the
machines, the furniture, and the sales, that showed Mrs. Carriswood that
he meant to keep an eye on his twenty odd thousand dollars, he strolled
at her side. To Miss Van Harlem he scarcely said three words. In fact,
he said exactly three words, uttered as Miss Margaret's silken skirts
swung too near a pot of varnish. They were "Look out, miss!" and at the
same second, Tommy (who was in advance, with really no call to know of
the danger), turned on his heel and whisked the skirts away, turning
back to pick up the sentence he had dropped.

Tommy told Harry that Miss Van Harlem was a very handsome lady, but
haughty-looking. Then he talked for half an hour about the cleverness of
Mrs. Carriswood.

"I am inclined to think Tommy will rise." (Mrs. Carriswood was
describing the interview to her cousin, the next day.) "What do
you think he said to me last of all? 'How,' said he, 'does a man, a
gentleman'--it had a touch of the pathetic, don't you know, the little
hesitation he made on the word--'how does he show his gratitude to a
lady who has done him a great service?' 'Young or old?' I said. 'Oh, a
married lady,' he said, 'very much admired, who has been everywhere.'
Wasn't that clever of him? I told him that a man usually sent a few
flowers. You saw the basket to-day--evidently regardless of expense. And
fancy, there was a card, a card with a gilt edge and his name written on
it."

"The card was his mother's. She has visiting cards, now, and pays visits
once a year in a livery carriage. Poor Mrs. Fitzmaurice, she is always
so scared; and she is such a good soul! Tommy is very good to her."

"How about the father? Does he still keep that 'nice' saloon?"

"Yes; but he talks of retiring. They are not poor at all, and Tommy is
their only child; the others died. It is hard on the old man to retire,
for he isn't so very old in fact, but if he once is convinced that
his calling stands in the way of Tommy's career, he won't hesitate a
second."

"Poor people," said Mrs. Carriswood; "do you know, Grace, I can see
Tommy's future; he will grow to be a boss, a political boss. He will
become rich by keeping your streets always being cleaned--which means
never clean--and giving you the worst fire department and police to be
obtained for money; and, by and by, a grateful machine will make him
mayor, or send him to the Legislature, very likely to Congress, where he
will misrepresent the honest State of Iowa. Then he will bloom out in a
social way, and marry a gentlewoman, and they will snub the old people
who are so proud of him."

"Well, we shall see," said Mrs. Lossing; "I think better things of
Tommy. So does Harry."

Part of the prophecy was to be speedily fulfilled. Two years later, the
Honorable Thomas Fitzmaurice was elected mayor of his city, elected by
the reform party, on account of his eminent services--and because he was
the only man in sight who had the ghost of a chance of winning. Harry's
version was: "Tommy jests at his new principles, but that is simply
because he doesn't comprehend what they are. He laughs at reform in the
abstract; but every concrete, practical reform he is as anxious as I or
anybody to bring about. And he will get them here, too."

He was as good as his word; he gave the city an admirable
administration, with neither fear nor favor. Some of the "boys" still
clung to him; these, according to Harry, were the better "boys," who
had the seeds of good in them and only needed opportunity and a leader.
Tommy did not flag in zeal; rather, as the time went on and he soared
out of the criminal courts into big civil cases involving property,
he grew up to the level of his admirers' praises. "Tommy," wrote Mr.
Lossing, presently, "is beginning to take himself seriously. He has been
told so often that he is a young lion of reform, that he begins to study
the role in dead earnest. I don't talk this way to Harry, who believes
in him and is training him for the representative for our district. What
harm? Verily, his is the faith that will move mountains. Besides, Tommy
is now rich; he must be worth a hundred thousand dollars, which makes a
man of wealth in these parts. It is time for him to be respectable."

Notwithstanding this preparation, Mrs. Carriswood (then giving
Washington the benefit of her doubts of climate) was surprised one day
to receive a perfectly correct visiting card whereon was engraved, "Mr.
Thomas Sackville Fitzmaurice, M.C."

The young lady who was with her lifted her brilliant hazel eyes and half
smiled. "Is it the droll young man we met once at Mrs. Lossing's? Pray
see him, Aunt Margaret," said Miss Van Harlem.

Mrs. Carriswood shrugged her shoulders and ordered the man to show him
up.

There entered, in the wake of the butler, a distinguished-looking
personage who held out his hand with a perfect copy of the bow that
she saw forty times a day. "He is taking himself very seriously," she
sighed; "he is precisely like anybody else!" And she felt her interest
snuffed out by Tommy's correctness. But, directly, she changed her mind;
the unfailing charm of his race asserted itself in Tommy; she decided
that he was a delightful, original young man, and in ten minutes they
were talking in the same odd confidence that had always marked their
relation.

"How perfectly you are gotten up! Are you INSIDE, now?"

"Ah, do you remember that?" said he; "that's awfully good of you. Which
is so fortunate as to please you, my clothes or my deportment?"

"Both. They are very good. Where did you get them, Tommy? I shall take
the privilege of my age and call you Tommy."

"Thank you. The clothes? Oh, I asked Harry for the proper thing, and he
recommended a tailor. I think Harry gave me the manners, too."

"And your new principles?" She could not resist this little fling.

"I owe a great deal in that way to Harry, also," answered he, with
gravity.

Gone were the days of sarcastic ridicule, of visionary politics.
Tommy talked of the civil service in the tone of Harry himself. He was
actually eloquent.

"Why, Aunt Margaret, he is a remarkable young man," exclaimed Miss Van
Harlem; "his honesty and enthusiasm are refreshing in this pessimist
place. I hope he will come again. Did you notice what lovely eyes he
has?"

Before long it was not pure good-nature that caused Mrs. Carriswood to
ask Fitzmaurice to her house. He was known as a rising young man, One
met him at the best houses; yet he was a prodigious worker, and had made
his mark in committees, before the celebrated speech that sent him into
all the newspaper columns, or that stubborn and infinitely versatile
fight against odds which inspired the artist of PUCK.

Tommy bore the cartoon to Mrs. Carriswood, beaming. She had not seen
that light in his face since the memorable June afternoon in the
Opera-house. He sent the paper to his mother, who vowed the picture "did
not favor Tommy at all, at all. Sure Tommy never had such a red nose!"
The old man, however, went to his ex-saloon, and sat in state all the
morning, showing Tommy's funny picture.

It was about this time that Mrs. Carriswood observed something that took
her breath away: Tommy Fitzmaurice had the presumption to be attentive
to my lady's goddaughter, Miss Van Harlem. Nor was this the worst; there
were indications that Miss Van Harlem, who had refused the noble names
and titles of two or three continental nobles, and the noble name
unaccompanied by a title of the younger son of an English earl, without
mentioning the half-dozen "nice" American claimants--Miss Van Harlem was
not angry.

The day this staggering blow fell on her, Mrs. Carriswood was in her
dressing-room, peacefully watching Derry unpack a box from Paris, in
anticipation of a state dinner. And Miss Van Harlem, in a bewitching
wrapper, sat on the lounge and admired. Upon this scene of feminine
peace and happiness enter the Destroyer, in the shape of a note from
Tommy Fitzmaurice! Were they going on Beatoun's little excursion to
Alexandria? If they were, he would move heaven and earth to put off a
committee meeting, in order to join them. By the way, he was to get the
floor for his speech that afternoon. Wouldn't Mrs. Carriswood come to
inspire him? Perhaps Miss Van Harlem would not be bored by a little of
it.

It was a well-worded note; as Mrs. Carriswood read it she realized
for the first time how completely Tommy was acclimated in society. She
remembered his plaint years ago, and his awe of "oil paintings" and
"people of culture;" and she laughed half-sadly as she passed the note
over to Miss Van Harlem.

"I presume it is the Alexandria excursion that the Beatouns were talking
about yesterday," she said, languidly. "He wants to show that young
Irishman that we have a mild flavor of antiquity, ourselves. We are to
see Alexandria and have a real old Virginian dinner, including one
of the famous Beatoun hams and some of the '69 Chateau Yquem and the
sacred '47 port. I suppose he will have the four-in-hand buckboard.
'A small party '--that will mean the Honorable Basil Sackville, Mrs.
Beatoun, Lilly Denning, probably one of the Cabinet girls, Colonel
Turner, and that young Russian Beatoun is so fond of, Tommy
Fitzmaurice------"

"Why do you always call Mr. Fitzmaurice Tommy?"--this interruption comes
with a slight rise of color from young Margaret.

"Everybody calls him Tommy in his own town; a politician as popular as
he with the boys is naturally Tommy or Jerry or Billy. They slap him on
the back or sit with an arm around his neck and concoct the ways to rule
us."

"I don't think anyone slaps Mr. Fitzmaurice on the back and calls him
Tommy, NOW," says Margaret, with a little access of dignity.

"I dare say his poor old father and mother don't venture on that
liberty; I wish you had seen them----"

"He has told me about them," says Margaret.

And Mrs. Carriswood's dismay was such that for a second she simply
gasped. Were things so far along that such confessions were made?
Tommy must be very confident to venture; it was shrewd, very shrewd,
to forestall Mrs. Carriswood's sure revelations--oh, Tommy was not a
politician for nothing!

"Besides," Margaret went on, with the same note of repressed feeling in
her voice, "his is a good family, if they have decayed; his ancestor was
Lord Fitzmaurice in King James's time."

"She takes HIM seriously too!" thought Mrs. Carriswood, with
inexpressible consternation; "what SHALL I say to her mother?"

Strange to say, perhaps, considering that she was so frankly a woman of
the world, her stub-bornest objection to Tommy was not an objection of
expediency. She had insensibly grown to take his success for granted,
like the rest of the Washington world; he would be a governor, a
senator, he might be--anything! And he was perfectly presentable, now;
no, it would be on the whole an investment in the future that would pay
well enough; his parents would be awkward, but they were old people, not
likely to be too much _en evidence_.

Mrs. Carriswood, while not overjoyed, would not feel crushed by such a
match, but she did view what she regarded as Tommy's moral instability,
with a dubious and fearful eye. He was earnest enough for his new
principles now; but what warrant was there of his sincerity? Margaret
and her mother were high-minded women. It was the gallant knight of her
party and her political faith that the girl admired, the valiant fight,
not the triumph! No mere soldier of fortune, no matter how successful
or how brilliant, could win her; if Tommy were the mercenary, not the
knight, no worldly glory could compensate his wife.

Wherefore, after a bad quarter of an hour reflecting on these things,
Mrs. Carriswood went to the Capitol, resolved to take her goddaughter
away. She would not withdraw her acceptance of the Beatouns' invitation,
no; let the Iowa congressman have every opportunity to display his
social shortcomings in contrast with the accomplished Russian, and Jack
Turner, the most elegant man in the army; the next day would be time
enough for a telegram and a sudden flitting. Yet in the midst of her
plans for Tommy's discomfiture she was assailed by a queer regret and
reluctance. Tommy's fascination had affected even a professional critic
of life; he had been so amusing, so willing, so trusting, so useful,
that her chill interest had warmed into liking. She felt a moving of
the heart as the handsome black head arose, and the first notes of that
resonant, thrilling voice swelled above the din on the floor.

It was the day of his great speech, the speech that made him, it was
said.

As Mrs. Carriswood sank back, turning a little in an instinctive effort
to repulse her own sympathy, she was aware of the presence near her
of an elderly man and woman. The old man wore a shining silk hat and
shining new black clothes. His expansive shirt-bosom was very white, but
not glossy, and rumpled in places; and his collar was of the spiked and
antique pattern known as a "dickey." His wrinkled, red face was edged by
a white fringe of whisker. He wore large gold-bowed spectacles, and his
jaws worked incessantly.

The woman was a little, mild, wrinkled creature, with an anxious blue
eye and snowy hair, smoothed down over her ears, under her fine bonnet.
She was richly dressed, but her silks and velvets ill suited the
season. Had she seen them anywhere else, Mrs. Carriswood might not
have recognized them; but there, with Tommy before them, both of them
feverishly absorbed in Tommy, she recognized them at a glance. She had
a twinge of pity, watching the old faces pale and kindle. With the first
rustle of applause, she saw the old father slip his hand into the
old mother's. They sat well behind a pillar; and however excited they
became, they never so lost themselves as to lean in front of their
shield. This, also, she noticed. The speech over, the woman wiped her
eyes. The old man joined in the tumult of applause that swept over the
galleries, but the old woman pulled his arm, evidently feeling that it
was not decent for them to applaud. She sat rigid, with red cheeks and
her eyes brimming; he was swaying and clapping and laughing in a roar of
delight. But it was he that drew her away, finally, while she fain would
have lingered to look at Tommy receiving congratulations below.

"Poor things," said Mrs. Carriswood, "I do believe they haven't let him
know that they are here." And she remembered how she had pitied them
for this very possibility of humiliation years before. But she did not
pursue the adventure, and some obscure motive prevented her speaking of
it to Miss Van Harlem.

Did Tommy's parents tell Tommy? If they did, Tommy made no sign. The
morning found him with the others, in a beautiful white flannel suit,
with a silk shirt and a red silk sash, looking handsomer than any man of
the party. He took the congratulations of the company modestly. Either
he was not much puffed up, or he had the art of concealment.

They saw Alexandria in a conscientious fashion, for the benefit of the
guest of the day. He was a modest young fellow with a nose rather too
large for his face, a long upper lip, and frank blue eyes. He made
himself agreeable to one of the Cabinet girls, on the front seat, while
Tommy, just behind him, had Miss Van Harlem and bliss for his portion.

The old streets, the toppling roofs, the musty warehouses, the uneven
pavement, all pleased the young creatures out in the sunshine. They made
merry over the ancient ball-room, where Washington had asked a far-away
ancestress of Beatoun to dance; and they decorously walked through the
old church.

IT happened in the church. Mrs. Carriswood was behind the others; so she
saw them come in, the same little old couple of the Capitol.

In the chancel, Beatoun was explaining; beside Beatoun shone a curly
black head that they knew.

Mrs. Carriswood sat in one of the high old pews. Through a crack she
could look into the next pew; and there they stood. She heard the old
man: "Whist, Molly, let's be getting out of this! HE is here with all
his grand friends. Don't let us be interrupting him."

The old woman's voice was so like Tommy's that it made Mrs. Carriswood
start. Very softly she spoke: "I only want to look at him a minute, Pat,
jest a minute. I ain't seen him for so long."

"And is it any longer for you than for me?" retorted the husband. "Ye
know what ye promised if I'd be taking you here, unbeknownst. Don't look
his way! Look like ye was a stranger to him. Don't let us be mortifying
him wid our country ways. Like as not 'tis the prisidint, himself, he
is colloguein' wid, this blessed minute. Shtep back and be a stranger to
him, woman!"

A stranger to him, his own mother! But she stepped back; she turned her
patient face. Then--Tommy saw her.

A wave of red flushed all over his face. He took two steps down the
aisle, and caught the little figure in his arms.

"Why, mother?" he cried, "why, mother, where did you drop from?"

And before Mrs. Carriswood could speak she saw him step back and push
young Sackville forward, crying, "This is my father, this is the boy
that knew your grandmother."

He did it so easily; he was so entirely unaffected, so perfectly
unconscious, that there was nothing at all embarrassing for anyone. Even
the Cabinet girl, with a grandmother in very humble life, who must be
kept in the background, could not feel disconcerted.

For this happy result Mrs. Carriswood owns a share of the credit. She
advanced on the first pause, and claimed acquaintanceship with the
Fitzmaurices. The story of their last meeting and Tommy's first triumph
in oratory came, of course; the famous horseshoe received due mention;
and Tommy described with much humor his terror of the stage. From the
speech to its most effective passage was a natural transition; equally
natural the transition to Tommy's grandmother, the Irish famine, and the
benevolence of Lady Sackville.

Everybody was interested, and it was Sackville himself, who brought the
Fitzmaurices' noble ancestors, the apocryphal Viscounts Fitzmaurice of
King James's creation, on to the carpet.

He was entirely serious. "My grandmother told me of your
great-grandfather, Lord Fitzmaurice; she saw him ride to hounds once,
when she was a little girl. They say he was the boldest rider in
Ireland, and a renowned duellist too. King James gave the title to his
grandfather, didn't he? and the countryside kept it, if it was given
rather too late in the day to be useful. I am glad you have restored the
family fortunes, Mr. Fitzmaurice."

The Cabinet girl looked on Tommy with respect, and Miss Van Harlem
blushed like an angel.

"All is lost," said Mrs. Carriswood to herself; yet she smiled. Going
home, she found a word for Tommy's ear. The old Virginian dinner had
been most successful. The Fitzmaurices (who had been almost forced into
the banquet by Beatoun's imperious hospitality) were not a wet blanket
in the least. Patrick Fitzmaurice, brogue and all, was an Irish
gentleman without a flaw. He blossomed out into a modest wag; and told
two or three comic stories as acceptably as he was used to tell them to
a very different circle--only, carrying a fresher flavor of wit to this
circle, perhaps, it enjoyed them more. Mrs. Fitzmaurice looked scared
and ate almost nothing, with the greatest propriety, and her fork in her
left hand. Yet even she thawed under Miss Van Harlem's attentions and
gentle Mrs. Beatoun's tact, and the winning ways of the last Beatoun
baby. She took this absent cherub to her heart with such undissembled
warmth that its mother ever since has called her "a sweet, funny little
old lady."

They were both (Patrick and his wife) quite unassuming and retiring,
and no urging could dissuade them from parting with the company at the
tavern door.

"My word, Tommy, your mother and I can git home by ourselves," whispered
honest Patrick; "we've not exceeded--if the wines WERE good. I never
exceeded in my life, God take the glory!"

But he embraced Tommy so affectionately in parting that I confess Mrs.
Carriswood had suspicions. Yet, surely, it is more likely that his brain
was--let us not say TURNED, but just a wee bit TILTED, by the joy and
triumph of the occasion rather than by Beatoun's port or champagne.

But Mrs. Carriswood's word had nothing to do with Tommy's parents,
ostensibly, though, in truth, it had everything to do. She said: "Will
you dine with us to-morrow, quite _en famille_, Thomas?"

"I ought to tell you, I suppose, that I find your house a pretty
dangerous paradise, Mrs. Carriswood," says Tommy.

"And I find you a most dangerous angel, Thomas; but--you see I ask you!"

"Thank you," answers Tommy, in a different tone; "you've always been
an angel to me. What I owe to you and Harry Lossing--well, I can't
talk about it. But see here, Mrs. Carriswood, you always have called me
Tommy; now you say Thomas; why this state?"

"I think you have won your brevet, Thomas."

He looked puzzled, and she liked him the better that he should not make
enough of his conduct to understand her; but, though she has called him
Tommy often since, he keeps the brevet in her thoughts. In fact, Mrs.
Carriswood is beginning to take the Honorable Thomas Fitzmaurice and his
place in the world seriously, herself.



MOTHER EMERITUS

THE Louders lived on the second floor, at the head of the stairs, in the
Lossing Building. There is a restaurant to the right; and a new doctor,
every six months, who is every kind of a healer except "regular," keeps
the permanent boarders in gossip, to the left; two or three dressmakers,
a dentist, and a diamond merchant up-stairs, one flight; and half a
dozen families and a dozen single tenants higher--so you see the Louders
had plenty of neighbors. In fact, the multitude of the neighbors is one
cause of my story.

Tilly Louder came home from the Lossing factory (where she is a
typewriter) one February afternoon. As she turned the corner, she was
face to the river, which is not so full of shipping in winter that one
cannot see the steel-blue glint of the water. Back of her the brick
paved street climbed the hill, under a shapeless arch of trees. The
remorseless pencil of a railway has drawn black lines at the foot of
the hill; and, all day and all night, slender red bars rise and sink
in their black sockets, to the accompaniment of the outcry of tortured
steam. All day, if not all night, the crooked pole slips up and down the
trolley wire, as the yellow cars rattle, and flash, and clang a spiteful
little bell, that sounds like a soprano bark, over the crossings.

It is customary in the Lossing Building to say, "We are so handy to the
cars." The street is a handsome street, not free from dingy old brick
boxes of stores below the railway, but fast replacing them with fairer
structures. The Lossing Building has the wide arches, the recessed
doors, the balconies and the colonnades of modern business architecture.
The occupants are very proud of the balconies, in particular; and,
summer days, these will be a mass of greenery and bright tints. To-day,
it was so warm, February day though it was, that some of the potted
plants were sunning themselves outside the windows.

Tilly could see them if she craned her neck. There were some bouvardias
and fuchsias of her mother's among them.

"It IS a pretty building," said Tilly; and, for some reason, she
frowned.

She was a young woman, but not a very young woman. Her figure was slim,
and she looked better in loose waists than in tightly fitted gowns. She
wore a dark green gown with a black jacket, and a scarlet shirt-waist
underneath. Her face was long, with square chin and high cheek-bones,
and thin, firm lips; yet she was comely, because of her lustrous black
hair, her clear, gray eyes, and her charming, fair skin. She had another
gift: everything about her was daintily neat; at first glance one said,
"Here is a person who has spent pains, if not money, on her toilet."

By this time Tilly was entering the Lossing Building. Half-way up the
stairway a hand plucked her skirts. The hand belonged to a tired-faced
woman in black, on whose breast glittered a little crowd of pins and
threaded needles, like the insignia of an Order of Toil.

"Please excuse me, Miss Tilly," said the woman, at the same time
presenting a flat package in brown paper, "but WILL you give this
pattern back to your mother. I am so very much obliged. I don't know how
I WOULD git along without your mother, Tilly."

"I'll give the pattern to her," said Tilly, and she pursued her way.

Not very far. A stout woman and a thin young man, with long, wavy, red
hair, awaited her on the landing. The woman held a plate of cake which
she thrust at Tilly the instant they were on the same level, saying:
"The cake was just splendid, tell your mother; it's a lovely recipe, and
will you tell her to take this, and see how well I succeeded?"

"And--ah--Miss Louder," said the man, as the stout woman rustled away,
"here are some _Banner of Lights;_ I think she'd be interested in some
of the articles on the true principles of the inspirational
faith----" Tilly placed the bundle of newspapers at the base of her
load--"and--and, I wish you'd tell your dear mother that, under the
angels, her mustard plaster really saved my life."

"I'll tell her," said Tilly.

She had advanced a little space before a young girl in a bright blue
silk gown flung a radiant presence between her and the door. "Oh,
Miss Tilly," she murmured, blushing, "will you just give your mother
this?--it's--it's Jim's photograph. You tell her it's ALL right; and SHE
was exactly right, and _I_ was wrong. She'll understand."

Tilly, with a look of resignation, accepted a stiff package done up in
white tissue paper. She had now only three steps to take: she took two,
only two, for--"Miss Tilly, PLEASE!" a voice pealed around the corner,
while a flushed and breathless young woman, with a large baby toppling
over her lean shoulder, staggered into view. "My!" she panted, "ain't it
tiresome lugging a child! I missed the car, of course, coming home
from ma's. Oh, say, Tilly, your mother was so good, she said she'd tend
Blossom next time I went to the doctor's, and----"

"I'll take the baby," said Tilly. She hoisted the infant on to her own
shoulder with her right arm. "Perhaps you'll be so kind's to turn the
handle of the door," said she in a slightly caustic tone, "as I haven't
got any hands left. Please shut it, too."

As the young mother opened the door, Tilly entered the parlor. For a
second she stood and stared grimly about her. The furniture of the room
was old-fashioned but in the best repair. There was a cabinet organ in
one corner. A crayon portrait of Tilly's father (killed in the civil
war) glared out of a florid gilt frame. Perhaps it was the fault of the
portrait, but he had a peevish frown. There were two other portraits of
him, large ghastly gray tintypes in oval frames of rosewood, obscurely
suggesting coffins. In these he looked distinctly sullen. He was
represented in uniform (being a lieutenant of volunteers), and the
artist had conscientiously gilded his buttons until, as Mrs. Louder
was wont to observe, "It most made you want to cut them off with the
scissors." There were other tintypes and a flock of photographs in the
room. What Mrs. Louder named "a throw" decorated each framed picture and
each chair. The largest arm-chair was drawn up to a table covered with
books and magazines: in the chair sat Mrs. Louder, reading.

At Tilly's entrance she started and turned her head, and then one could
see that the tears were streaming down her cheeks.

"Now, MOTHER!" exploded Tilly. Kicking the door open, she marched into
the bed-chamber. An indignant sweep of one arm sent the miscellany of
gifts into a rocking-chair; an indignant curve of the other landed the
baby on the bed. Tilly turned on her mother. "Now, mother, what did
you promise--HUSH! will you?" (The latter part of the sentence a fierce
"ASIDE" to the infant on the bed.) In a second Mrs. Louder's arms were
encircling him, and she was soothing him on her broad shoulder, where I
know not how many babies have found comfort.

Jane Louder was a tall woman--tall and portly. She had a massive repose
about her, a kind of soft dignity; and a stranger would not guess how
tender was her heart. Deprecatingly she looked up at her only child,
standing in judgment over her. Her eyes were fine still, though they had
sparkled and wept for more than half a century. They were not gray, like
Tilly's, but a deep violet, with black eyelashes and eyebrows. Black,
once, had been the hair under the widow's cap, now streaked with
silver; but Jane Louder's skin was fresh and daintily tinted like her
daughter's, for all its fine wrinkles. Her voice when she spoke was
mellow and slow, with a nervous vibration of apology. "Never mind,
dear," she said, "I was just reading 'bout the Russians."

"I KNEW it! You promised me you wouldn't cry about the Russians any
more."

"I know, Tilly, but Alma Brown lent this to me, herself. There's a
beautiful article in it about 'The Horrors of Hunger.' It would make
your heart ache! I wish you would read it, Tilly."

"No, thank you. I don't care to have my heart ache. I'm not going to
read any more horrors about the Russians, or hear them either, if I can
help it. I have to write Mr. Lossing's letters about them, and that's
enough. I've given all I can afford, and you've given more than you can
afford; and I helped get up the subscription at the shops. I've done all
I could; and now I ain't going to have my feelings harrowed up any more,
when it won't do me nor the Russians a mite of good."

"But I cayn't HELP it, Tilly. I cayn't take any comfort in my meals,
thinking of that awful black bread the poor children starve rather than
eat; and, Tilly, they ain't so dirty as some folks think! I read in a
magazine how they have GOT to bathe twice a week by their religion; and
there's a bath-house in every village. Tilly, do you know how much money
they've raised here?"

"Over three thousand. This town is the greatest town for giving--give
to the cholera down South, give to Johnstown, give to Grinnell, give to
cyclones, give to fires. _The Freeman_ always starts up a subscription,
and Mr. Bayard runs the thing, and Mr. Lossing always gives. Mother,
I tell you HE makes them hustle when he takes hold. He's the chairman
here, and he has township chairmen appointed for every township. He's
so popular they start in to oblige him, and then, someway, he makes them
all interested. I must tell you of a funny letter he had to-day from
a Captain Ferguson, out at Baxter. He's a rich farmer with lots of
influence and a great worker, Mr. Lossing says. But this is 'most word
for word what he wrote: 'Dear Sir: I am sorry for the Russians, but my
wife is down with the la grippe, and I can't get a hired girl; so I have
to stay with her. If you'll get me a hired girl, I'll get you a lot of
money for the Russians.'"

"Did he git a girl? I mean Mr. Lossing."

"No, ma'am. He said he'd try if it was the city, but it was easier
finding gold-mines than girls that would go into the country. See here,
I'm forgetting your presents. Mother, you look real dragged and--queer!"

"It's nothing; jist a thought kinder struck me 'bout--'bout that girl."

Tilly was sorting out the parcels and explaining them; at the end of her
task her mind harked back to an old grievance. "Mother," said she, "I've
been thinking for a long time, and I've made up my mind."

"Yes, dearie." Mrs. Louder's eyes grew troubled. She knew something of
the quality of Tilly's mind, which resembled her father's in a peculiar
immobility. Once let her decision run into any mould (be it whatsoever
it might), and let it stiffen, there was no chance, any more than with
other iron things, of its bending.

"Positively I could hardly get up the stairs today," said Tilly--she was
putting her jacket and hat away in her orderly fashion; of necessity
her back was to Mrs. Louder--"there was such a raft of people wanting to
send stuff and messages to you. You are just working yourself to death;
and, mother, I am convinced we have _got to move!_"

Mrs. Louder dropped into a chair and gasped. The baby, who had fallen
asleep, stirred uneasily. It was not a pretty child; its face was heavy,
its little cheeks were roughened by the wind, its lower lip sagged,
its chin creased into the semblance of a fat old man's. But Jane Louder
gazed down on it with infinite compassion. She stroked its head as she
spoke.

"Tilly," said she, "I've been in this block, Mrs. Carleton and me, ever
since it was built; and, some way, between us we've managed to keep
the run of all the folks in it; at least when they were in any trouble.
We've worked together like sisters. She's 'Piscopal, and I guess I'm
Unitarian; but never a word between us. We tended the Willardses through
diphtheria and the Hopkinses through small-pox, and we steamed and
fumigated the rooms together. It was her first found out the Dillses
were letting that twelve-year-old child run the gasoline stove, and
she threatened to tell Mr. Lossing, and they begged off; and when it
exploded we put it out together, with flour out of her flour-barrel, for
the poor, shiftless things hadn't half a sack full of their own; and her
and me, we took half the care of that little neglected Ellis baby that
was always sitting down in the sticky fly-paper, poor innocent child.
He's took the valedictory at the High School, Tilly, now. No, Tilly, I
couldn't bring myself to leave this building, where I've married them,
and buried them, and born them, you may say, being with so many of their
mothers; I feel like they was all my children. Don't ASK me."

Tilly's head went upward and backward with a little dilatation of the
nostrils. "Now, mother," said she in a voice of determined gentleness,
"just listen to me. Would I ask you to do anything that wouldn't be for
your happiness? I have found a real pretty house up on Fifteenth Street;
and we'll keep house together, just as cosey; and have a woman come to
wash and iron and scrub, so it won't be a bit hard; and be right on the
street-cars; and you won't have to drudge helping Mrs. Carleton extra
times with her restaurant."

"But, Tilly," eagerly interrupted Mrs. Louder, "you know I dearly love
to cook, and she PAYS me. I couldn't feel right to take any of the
pension money, or the little property your father left me, away from
the house expenses; but what I earn myself, it is SUCH a comfort to give
away out of THAT."

Tilly ran over and kissed the agitated face. "You dear, generous
mother!" cried she, "I'LL give you all the money you want to spend or
give. I got another rise in my salary of five a month. Don't you worry."

"You ain't thinking of doing anything right away, Tilly?"

"Don't you think it's best done and over with, after we've decided,
mother? You have worked so hard all your life I want to give you some
ease and peace now."

"But, Tilly, I love to work; I wouldn't be happy to do nothing, and I'd
get so fleshy!"

Tilly only laughed. She did not crave the show of authority. Let her
but have her own way, she would never flaunt her victories. She was
imperious, but she was not arrogant. For months she had been pondering
how to give her mother an easier life; and she set the table for supper,
in a filial glow of satisfaction, never dreaming that her mother, in the
kitchen, was keeping her head turned from the stove lest she should cry
into the fried ham and stewed potatoes. But, at a sudden thought, Jane
Louder laid her big spoon down to wipe her eyes.

"Here you are, Jane Louder"--thus she addressed herself--"mourning
and grieving to leave your friends and be laid aside for a useless old
woman, and jist be taken care of, and you clean forgetting the chance
the Lord gives you to help more'n you ever helped in your life! For
shame!"

A smile of exaltation, of lofty resolution, erased the worry lines on
her face. "Why, it might be to save twenty lives," said she; but in the
very speaking of the words a sharp pain wrenched her heart again, and
she caught up the baby from the floor, where he sat in a wall of chairs,
and sobbed over him: "Oh, how can I go away when I got to go for good so
soon? I want every minnit!"

She never thought of disputing Tilly's wishes. "It's only fair," said
Jane. "She's lived here all these years to please me, and now I ought to
be willing to go to please her."

Neither did she for a moment hope to change Tilly's determination.
"She was the settest baby ever was," thought poor Jane, tossing on her
pillow, in the night watches, "and it's grown with every inch of her!"

But in the morning she surprised her daughter. "Tilly," said she at the
breakfast-table, "Tilly, I got something I must do, and I don't want you
to oppose me."

"Good gracious, ma!" said Tilly; "as if I ever opposed you!"

"You know how bad I have been feeling about the poor Russians------"

"Well?"

"And how I've wished and wished I could do something--something to
COUNT? I never could, Tilly, because I ain't got the money or the
intellect; but s'posing I could do it for somebody else, like this
Captain Ferguson who could do so much if he just could get a hired girl
to take care of his wife. Well, I do know how to cook and to keep a
house neat and to do for the sick----"

Tilly could restrain herself no longer; her voice rose to a shout of
dismay--"Mother Louder, you AIN'T thinking of going to be the Ferguson's
_hired girl!_"

"Not their hired girl, Tilly; just their help, so as he can work for
those poor starving creatures." Jane strangled a sob in her throat.
Tilly, in a kind of stupor of bewilderment, frowned at her plate. Then
her clouded face cleared. If Mrs. Louder had surprised her daughter, her
daughter repaid the surprise. "Well, if you feel that way, mother," said
she, "I won't say a word; and I'll ask Mr. Lossing to explain to the
Fergusons and fix everything. He will."

"You're real good, Tilly."

"And while you're gone I guess it will be a good plan to move and git
settled----"

For some reason Tilly's throat felt dry, she lifted her cup. She did not
intend to look across the table, but her eyes escaped her. She set the
coffee down untasted. The clock was slow, she muttered; and she left the
room.

Jane Louder remained in her place, with the same pale face, staring at
the table-cloth.

"It don't seem like I COULD go, now," she thought dully to herself; "the
time's so awful short, I don't s'pose Maria Carleton can git up to see
me more'n once or twice a month, busy as she is! I got so to depend on
seeing her every day. A sister couldn't be kinder! I don't see how I am
going to bear it. And to go away, beforehand----"

For a long while she sat, her face hardly changing. At last, when she
did push her chair away, her lips were tightly closed. She spoke to the
little pile of books lying on the table in the corner. "I cayn't--these
are my own and you are strangers!" She walked across the room to take up
the same magazine which Tilly had found her reading the day before.
When she began reading she looked stern--poor Jane, she was steeling her
heart--but in a little while she was sniffing and blowing her nose.
With a groan she flung the book aside. "It's no use, I would feel like a
murderer if I don't go!" said she.

She did go. Harry Lossing made all the arrangements. Tilly was
satisfied. But, then, Tilly had not heard Harry's remark to his mother:
"Alma says Miss Louder is trying to make the old lady move against her
will. I dare say it would be better to give the young woman a chance to
miss her mother and take a little quiet think."

Tilly saw her mother off on the train to Baxter, the Fergusons' station.
Being a provident, far-sighted, and also inexperienced traveller, she
had allowed a full half-hour for preliminary passages at arms with the
railway officials; and, as the train happened to be an hour late, she
found herself with time to spare, even after she had exhausted the
catalogue of possible deceptions and catastrophes by rail. During the
silence that followed her last warning, she sat mentally keeping tally
on her fingers. "Confidence men"--Tilly began with the thumb--"Never
give anybody her check. Never lend anybody money. Never write her
name to anything. Don't get out till conductor tells her. In case of
accident, telegraph me, and keep in the middle of the car, off the
trucks. Not take care of anybody's baby while she goes off for a minute.
Not take care of babies at all. Or children. Not talk to strangers--good
gracious!"

Tilly felt a movement of impatience; there, after all her cautions,
there was her mother helping an old woman, an utterly strange old woman,
to pile a bird-cage on a bandbox surmounting a bag. The old woman was
clad in a black alpaca frock, made with the voluminous draperies of
years ago, but with the uncreased folds and the brilliant gloss of a
new gown. She wore a bonnet of a singular shape, unknown to fashion, but
made out of good velvet. Beneath the bonnet (which was large) appeared
a little, round, agitated old face, with bobbing white curls and white
teeth set a little apart in the mouth, a defect that brought a kind of
palpitating frankness into the expression.

"Now, who HAS mother picked up now?" thought Tilly. "Well, praise be,
she hasn't a baby, anyhow!"

She could hear the talk between the two; for the old woman being deaf,
Mrs. Louder elevated her voice, and the old woman, herself, spoke in a
high, thin pipe that somehow reminded Tilly of a lost lamb.

"That's just so," said Mrs. Louder, "a body cayn't help worrying over a
sick child, especially if they're away from you."

"Solon and Minnie wouldn't tell me," bleated the other woman, "they knew
I'd worry. Kinder hurt me they should keep things from me; but they
hate to have me upset. They are awful good children. But I suspicioned
something when Alonzo kept writing. Minnie, she wouldn't tell me, but
I pinned her down and it come out, Eliza had the grip bad. And, then,
nothing would do but I must go to her--why, Mrs. Louder, she's my child!
But they wouldn't hark to it. 'Fraid to have me travel alone----"

"I guess they take awful good care of you," said Mrs. Louder; and she
sighed.

"Yes, ma'am, awful." She, too, sighed.

As she talked her eyes were darting about the room, eagerly fixed on
every new arrival.

"Are you expecting anyone, Mrs. Higbee?" said Jane. They seemed, at
least, to know each other by name, thought Tilly; it was amazing the
number of people mother did know!

"No," said Mrs. Higbee, "I--I--fact is, I'm kinder frightened. I--fact
is, Mrs. Louder, I guess I'll tell you, though I don't know you very
well; but I've known about you so long--I run away and didn't tell
'em. I just couldn't stay way from Liza. And I took the bird--for the
children; and it's my bird, and I was 'fraid Minnie would forget to feed
it and it would be lonesome. My children are awful kind good children,
but they don't understand. And if Solon sees me he will want me to go
back. I know I'm dretful foolish; and Solon and Minnie will make me see
I am. There won't be no good reason for me to go, and I'll have to stay;
and I feel as if I should FLY--Oh, massy sakes! there's Solon coming
down the street----"

She ran a few steps in half a dozen ways, then fluttered back to her bag
and her cage.

"Well," said Mrs. Louder, drawing herself up to her full height, "you
SHALL go if you want to."

"Solon will find me, he'll know the bird-cage! Oh, dear! Oh, dear!"

Then a most unexpected helper stepped upon the stage. What is the
mysterious instinct of rebellion to authority that, nine cases out of
ten, sends us to the aid of a fugitive? Tilly, the unconscious despot of
her own mother, promptly aided and abetted Solon's rebel mother in her
flight.

"Not if _I_ carry it," said she, snatching up the bird-cage; "run inside
that den where they sell refreshments; he'll see ME and go somewhere
else."

It fell out precisely as she planned. They heard Solon demanding a lady
with a bird-cage of the agent; they heard the agent's reply, given with
official indifference, "There she is, inside." Directly, Solon, a small
man with an anxious mien, ran into the waiting-room, flung a glance of
disappointment at Tilly, and ran out again.

Tilly went to her client. "Did he look like he was anxious?" was the
mother's greeting. "Oh, I just know he and Minnie will be hunting me
everywhere. Maybe I had better go home, 'stead of to Baxter."

"No, you hadn't," said Tilly, with decision. "Mother's going to Baxter,
too, and if you like, minnit you're safely off, I'll go tell your
folks."

"You're real kind, I'd be ever so much obliged. And you don't mind your
ma travelling alone? ain't that nice for her!" She seemed much cheered
by the prospect of company and warmed into confidences.

"I am kinder lonesome, sometimes, that's a fact," said she, "and I
kinder wish I lived in a block or a flat like your ma. You see, Minnie
teaches in the public school and she's away all day, and she don't like
to have me make company of the hired girl, though she's a real nice
girl. And there ain't nothing for me to do, and I feel like I wasn't no
use any more in the world. I remember that's what our old minister
in Ohio said once. He was a real nice old man; and they HAD thought
everything of him in the parish; but he got old and his sermons were
long; and so they got a young man for assistant; and they made HIM a
_pastor americus_, they called it--some sort of Latin. Folks did say
the young feller was stuck up and snubbed the old man; anyhow, he never
preached after young Lisbon come; and only made the first prayers. But
when the old folks would ask him to preach some of the old sermons
they had liked, he only would say, 'No, friends, I know more about my
sermons, now.' He didn't live very long, and I always kinder fancied
being a AMERICUS killed him. And some days I git to feeling like I was a
kinder AMERICUS myself."

"That ain't fair to your children," said Tilly; "you ought to let them
know how you feel. Then they'd act different."

"Oh, I don't know, I don't know. You see, miss, they're so sure they
know better'n me. Say, Mrs. Louder, be you going to visit relatives in
Baxter?"

"No, ma'am, I'm going to take care of a sick lady," said Jane, "it's
kinder queer. Her name's Ferguson, her----"

"For the land's sake!" screamed Mrs. Higbee, "why, that's my 'Liza!" She
was in a flutter of surprise and delight, and so absorbed was Tilly in
getting her and her unwieldy luggage into the car, that Jane's daughter
forgot to kiss her mother good-by.

"Put your arm in QUICK," she yelled, as Jane essayed to kiss her hand
through the window; "don't EVER put your arm or your head out of a
train!"--the train moved away--"I do hope she'll remember what I told
her, and not lend anybody money, or come home lugging somebody else's
baby!"

With such reflections, and an ugly sensation of loneliness creeping over
her, Tilly went to assure Miss Minnie Higbee of her mother's safety. She
described her reception to Harry Lossing and Alma, later. "She really
seemed kinder mad at me," says Tilly, "seemed to think I was interfering
somehow. And she hadn't any business to feel that way, for SHE didn't
know how I'd fooled her brother with that bird-cage. I guess the poor
old lady daren't call her soul her own. I'd hate to have my mother that
way--so 'fraid of me. MY mother shall go where she pleases, and stay
where she pleases, and DO as she pleases."

"That makes me think," says Alma, "I heard you were going to move."

"Yes, we are. Mother is working too hard. She knows everybody in the
building, and they call on her all the time; and I think the easiest way
out is just to move."

Alma and Mr. Lossing exchanged glances. There is an Arabian legend of
an angel whose trade it is to decipher the language of faces. This angel
must have perceived that Alma's eyes said, with the courage of a second
in a duel, "Go on, now is the time!" and that Harry's answered, with
masculine pusillanimity, "I don't like to!"

But he spoke. "Very likely your mother does sometimes work too hard,"
said he. "But don't you think it would be harder for her not to work?
Why, she must have been in the building ever since my father bought
it; and she's been a janitor and a fire inspector and a doctor and a
ministering angel combined! That is why we never raised the rent to you
when we improved the building, and raised it on the others. My father
told me your mother was the best paying tenant he ever had. And don't
you remember how, when I used to come with him, when I was a little boy,
she used to take me in her room while he went the rounds? She was always
doing good to everybody, the same way. She has a heart as big as the
Mississippi, and I assure you, Miss Louder, you won't make her happy,
but miserable, if you try to dam up its channel. She has often told me
that she loved the building and all the people in it. They all love her.
I HOPE, Miss Louder, you'll think of those things before you decide. She
is so unselfish that she would go in a minute if she thought it would
make you happier." The angel aforesaid, during this speech (which Harry
delivered with great energy and feeling), must have had all his wits
busy on Tilly's impassive features; but he could read ardent approval,
succeeded by indignation, on Alma's countenance, at his first glance.
The indignation came when Tilly spoke. She said: "Thank you, Mr.
Lossing, you're very kind, I'm sure"--Harry softly kicked the
wastebasket under the desk--"but I guess it's best for us to go. I've
been thinking about it for six months, and I know it will be a hard
struggle for mother to go; but in a little while she will be glad
she went. It's only for her sake I am doing it; it ain't an easy or a
pleasant thing for me to do, either----" As Tilly stopped her voice was
unsteady, and the rare tears shone in her eyes.

"What's best for her is the only question, of course," said Alma,
helping Harry off the field.

In a few days Tilly received a long letter from her mother. Mr. Ferguson
was doing wonders for the Russians; the family were all very kind to her
and "nice folks" and easily pleased. ("Of COURSE they're pleased with
mother's cooking; what would they be made of if they weren't!" cried
Tilly.) It was wonderful how much help Mrs. Higbee was about the house,
and how happy it made her. Mrs. Ferguson had seemed real glad to see
her, and that made her happy. And then, maybe it helped a little, her
(Jane Louder's) telling Mrs. Ferguson ("accidental like") how Tilly
treated her, never trying to boss her, and letting her travel alone.
Perhaps, if Mrs. Ferguson kept on improving, they might let her come
home next week. And the letter ended:


"I will be so glad if they do, for I want to see you so bad, dear
daughter, and I want to see the old home once more before we leave. I
guess the house you tell me about will be very nice and convenient. I
do thank you, dear daughter, for being so nice and considerate about the
Russians. Give my love to Mrs. Carleton and all of them; and if little
Bobby Green hasn't missed school since I left, give him a nickel,
please; and please give that medical student on the fifth floor--I
forget his name--the stockings I mended. They are in the first drawer of
the walnut bureau. Good-by, my dear, good daughter.

"MOTHER, JANE M. LOUDER."


When Tilly read the letter she was surrounded by wall-paper and carpet
samples. Her eyes grew moist before she laid it down; but she set her
mouth more firmly.

"It is an awful short time, but I've just got to hurry and have it over
before she comes," said she.

Next week Jane returned. She was on the train, waiting in her seat in
the car, when Captain Ferguson handed her Tilly's last letter, which had
lain in the post-office for three days.

It was very short:


"DEAR MOTHER: I shall be very glad indeed to see you. I have a surprise
which I hope will be pleasant for you; anyhow, I truly have meant it for
your happiness.

"Your affectionate daughter,

"M. E. LOUDER."


There must have been, despite her shrewd sense, an obtuse streak in
Tilly, else she would never have written that letter. Jane read it
twice. The paper rattled in her hands. "Tilly has moved while I was
gone," she said; "I never shall live in the block again." She dropped
her veil over her face. She sat very quietly in her seat; but the
conductor who came for her ticket watched her sharply, she seemed so
dazed by his demand and was so long in finding the ticket.

The train rumbled and hissed through darkening cornfields, into
scattered yellow lights of low houses, into angles of white light of
street-arcs and shop-windows, into the red and blue lights dancing
before the engines in the station.

"Mother!" cried Tilly's voice.

Jane let her and Harry Lossing take all her bundles and lift her out of
the car. Whether she spoke a word she could not tell. She did rouse a
little at the vision of the Lossing carriage glittering at the street
corner; but she had not the sense to thank Harry Lossing, who placed her
in the carriage and lifted his hat in farewell.

"What's he doing all that for, Tilly?" cried she; "there ain't--there
ain't nobody dead--Maria Carleton------" She stared at Tilly wildly.

Tilly was oddly moved, though she tried to speak lightly. "No, no, there
ain't nothing wrong, at all. It's because you've done so much for the
Russians--and other folks! Now, ma, I'm going to be mysterious. You must
shut your eyes and shut your mouth until I tell you. That's a dear ma."

It was vaguely comforting to have Tilly so affectionate. "I'm a wicked,
ungrateful woman to be so wretched," thought Jane; "I'll never let Tilly
know how I felt."

In a surprisingly short time the carriage stopped. "Now, ma," said
Tilly.

A great blaze of light seemed all about Jane Louder. There were the dear
familiar windows of the Lossing block.

"Come up-stairs, ma," said Tilly.

She followed like one in a dream; and like one in a dream she was pushed
into her own old parlor. The old parlor, but not quite the old parlor;
hung with new wall-paper, shining with new paint, soft under her feet
with a new carpet, it looked to Jane Louder like fairyland.

"Oh, Tilly," she gasped; "oh, Tilly, ain't you moved?"

"No, nor we ain't going to move, ma--that's the surprise! I took the
money I'd saved for moving, for the new carpet and new dishes; and the
Lossings they papered and painted. I was SO 'fraid we couldn't get done
in time. Alma and all the boarders are coming in pretty soon to
welcome you, and they've all chipped in for a little banquet at Mrs.
Carleton's--why, mother, you're crying! Mother, you didn't really think
I'd move when it made you feel so bad? I know I'm set and stubborn,
and I didn't take it well when Mr. Lossing talked to me; but the more I
thought it over, the more I seemed to myself like that hateful Minnie.
Oh, mother, I ain't, am I? You shall do just exactly as you like all the
days of your life!"



AN ASSISTED PROVIDENCE

IT was the Christmas turkeys that should be held responsible. Every year
the Lossings give each head of a family in their employ, and each
lad helping to support his mother, a turkey at Christmastide. As the
business has grown, so has the number of turkeys, until it is now
well up in the hundreds, and requires a special contract. Harry, one
Christmas, some two years ago, bought the turkeys at so good a bargain
that he felt the natural reaction in an impulse to extravagance. In
the very flood-tide of the money-spending yearnings, he chanced to
pass Deacon Hurst's stables and to see two Saint Bernard puppies, of
elephantine size but of the tenderest age, gambolling on the sidewalk
before the office. Deacon Hurst, I should explain, is no more a deacon
than I am; he is a livery-stable keeper, very honest, a keen and solemn
sportsman, and withal of a staid demeanor and a habitual garb of black.
Now you know as well as I any reason for his nickname.

Deacon Hurst is fond of the dog as well as of that noble animal the
horse (he has three copies of "Black Beauty" in his stable, which would
do an incalculable amount of good if they were ever read!); and he
usually has half a dozen dogs of his own, with pedigrees long enough
for a poor gentlewoman in a New England village. He told Harry that the
Saint Bernards were grandsons of Sir Bevidere, the "finest dog of his
time in the world, sir;" that they were perfectly marked and very
large for their age (which Harry found it easy to believe of the young
giants), and that they were "ridiculous, sir, at the figger of two
hundred and fifty!" (which Harry did not believe so readily); and, after
Harry had admired and studied the dogs for the space of half an hour,
he dropped the price, in a kind of spasm of generosity, to two hundred
dollars. Harry was tempted to close the bargain on the spot, hot-headed,
but he decided to wait and prepare his mother for such a large addition
to the stable.

The more he dwelt on the subject the more he longed to buy the dogs.

In fact, a time comes to every healthy man when he wants a dog, just
as a time comes when he wants a wife; and Harry's dog was dead.
By consequence, Harry was in the state of sensitive affection and
desolation to which a promising new object makes the most moving appeal.
The departed dog (Bruce by name) had been a Saint Bernard; and Deacon
Hurst found one of the puppies to have so much the expression of
countenance of the late Bruce that he named him Bruce on the spot--a
little before Harry joined the group. Harry did not at first recognize
this resemblance, but he grew to see it; and, combined with the dog's
affectionate disposition, it softened his heart. By the time he told his
mother he was come to quoting Hurst's adjectives as his own.

"Beauties, mother," says Harry, with sparkling eyes; "the markings are
perfect--couldn't be better; and their heads are shaped just right!
You can't get such watch-dogs in the world! And, for all their enormous
strength, gentle as a lamb to women and children! And, mother, one of
them looks like Bruce!"

"I suppose they would want to be housedogs," says Mrs. Lossing, a little
dubiously, but looking fondly at Harry's handsome face; "you know,
somehow, all our dogs, no matter how properly they start in a kennel,
end by being so hurt if we keep them there that they come into the
house. And they are so large, it is like having a pet lion about."

"These dogs, mother, shall never put a paw in the house."

"Well, I hope just as I get fond of them they will not have the
distemper and die!" said Mrs. Lossing; which speech Harry rightly took
for the white flag of surrender.

That evening he went to find Hurst and clinch the bargain. As it
happened, Hurst was away, driving an especially important political
personage to an especially important political council. The day
following was a Sunday; but, by this time, Harry was so bent upon
obtaining the dogs that he had it in mind to go to Hurst's house for
them in the afternoon. When Harry wants anything, from Saint Bernards to
purity in politics, he wants it with an irresistible impetus! If he
did wrong, his error was linked to its own punishment. But this is
anticipating, if not presuming; I prefer to leave Harry Lossing's
experience to paint its own moral without pushing. The event that
happened next was Harry's pulling out his check-book and beginning to
write a check, remarking, with a slight drooping of his eyelids, "Best
catch the deacon's generosity on the fly, or it may make a home run!"

Then he let the pen fall on the blotter, for he had remembered the
day. After an instant's hesitation he took a couple of hundred-dollar
bank-notes out of a drawer (I think they were gifts for his two sisters
on Christmas day, for he is a generous brother; and most likely there
would be some small domestic joke about engravings to go with them);
these he placed in the right-hand pocket of his waistcoat. In his
left-hand waistcoat pocket were two five-dollar notes.

Harry was now arrayed for church. He was a figure to please any woman's
eye, thought his mother, as she walked beside him, and gloried silently
in his six feet of health and muscle and dainty cleanliness. He was in a
most amiable mood, what with the Saint Bernards and the season. As they
approached the cathedral close, Harry, not for the first time, admired
the pure Gothic lines of the cathedral, and the soft blending of grays
in the stone with the warmer hues of the brown network of Virginia
creeper that still fluttered, a remnant of the crimson adornings of
autumn. Beyond were the bare, square outlines of the old college, with
a wooden cupola perched on the roof, like a little hat on a fat man,
the dull-red tints of the professors' houses, and the withered lawns and
bare trees. The turrets and balconies and arched windows of the boys'
school displayed a red background for a troop of gray uniforms and
blazing buttons; the boys were forming to march to church. Opposite the
boys' school stood the modest square brick house that had served the
first bishop of the diocese during laborious years. Now it was the
dean's residence. Facing it, just as you approached the cathedral, the
street curved into a half-circle on either side, and in the centre the
granite soldier on his shaft looked over the city that would honor him.
Harry saw the tall figure of the dean come out of his gate, the long
black skirts of his cassock fluttering under the wind of his big steps.
Beside him skipped and ran, to keep step with him, a little man in
ill-fitting black, of whose appearance, thus viewed from the rear, one
could only observe stooping shoulders and iron-gray hair that curled at
the ends.

"He must be the poor missionary who built his church himself," Mrs.
Lossing observed; "he is not much of a preacher, the dean said, but he
is a great worker and a good pastor."

"So much the better for his people, and the worse for us!" says Harry,
cheerfully.

"Why?"

"Naturally. We shall get the poor sermon and they will get the good
pastoring!"

Then Harry caught sight of a woman's frock and a profile that he knew,
and thought no more of the preacher, whoever he might be.

But he was in the chancel in plain view, after the procession of
choir-boys had taken their seats. He was an elderly man with thin
cheeks and a large nose. He had one of those great, orotund voices that
occasionally roll out of little men, and he read the service with a
misjudged effort to fill the building. The building happened to have
peculiarly fine acoustic properties; but the unfortunate man roared like
him of Bashan. There was nothing of the customary ecclesiastical dignity
and monotony about his articulation; indeed, it grew plain and plainer
to Harry that he must have "come over" from some franker and more
emotional denomination. It seemed quite out of keeping with his homely
manner and crumpled surplice that this particular reader should intone.
Intone, nevertheless, he did; and as badly as mortal man well could! It
was not so much that his voice or his ear went wrong; he would have had
a musical voice of the heavy sort, had he not bellowed; neither did his
ear betray him; the trouble seemed to be that he could not decide when
to begin; now he began too early, and again, with a startled air, he
began too late, as if he had forgotten.

"I hope he will not preach," thought Harry, who was absorbed in a rapt
contemplation of his sweetheart's back hair. He came back from a tender
revery (by way of a little detour into the furniture business and the
establishment that a man of his income could afford) to the church and
the preacher and his own sins, to find the strange clergyman in the
pulpit, plainly frightened, and bawling more loudly than ever under the
influence of fear. He preached a sermon of wearisome platitudes; making
up for lack of thought by repetition, and shouting himself red in the
face to express earnestness. "Fourth-class Methodist effort," thought
the listener in the Lossing pew, stroking his fair mustache, "with
Episcopal decorations! That man used to be a Methodist minister, and
he was brought into the fold by a high-churchman. Poor fellow, the
Methodist church polity has a place for such fellows as he; but he is a
stray sheep with us. He doesn't half catch on to the motions; yet I'll
warrant he is proud of that sermon, and his wife thinks it one of the
great efforts of the century." Here Harry took a short rest from the
sermon, to contemplate the amazing moral phenomenon: how robust can be a
wife's faith in a commonplace husband!

"Now, this man," reflected Harry, growing interested in his own fancies,
"this man never can have LIVED! He doesn't know what it is to suffer, he
has only vegetated! Doubtless, in a prosaic way, he loves his wife
and children; but can a fellow who talks like him have any delicate
sympathies or any romance about him? He looks honest; I think he is a
right good fellow and works like a soldier; but to be so stupid as he
is, ought to HURT!"

Harry felt a whimsical moving of sympathy towards the preacher. He
wondered why he continually made gestures with the left arm, never with
his right.

"It gives a one-sided effect to his eloquence," said he. But he thought
that he understood when an unguarded movement revealed a rent which had
been a mended place in the surplice.

"Poor fellow," said Harry. He recalled how, as a boy, he had gone to a
fancy-dress ball in Continental smallclothes, so small that he had been
strictly cautioned by his mother and sisters not to bow except with the
greatest care, lest he rend his magnificence and reveal that it was too
tight to allow an inch of underclothing. The stockings, in particular,
had been short, and his sister had providently sewed them on to the
knee-breeches, and to guard against accidents still further, had pinned
as well as sewed, the pins causing Harry much anguish.

"Poor fellow!" said Harry again, "I wonder is HE pinned somewhere? I
feel like giving him a lift; he is so prosy it isn't likely anyone else
will feel moved to help."

Thus it came about that when the dean announced that the alms this day
would be given to the parish of our friend who had just addressed us;
and the plate paused before the Lossing pew, Harry slipped his hand into
his waistcoat pocket after those two five-dollar notes.

I should explain that Harry being a naturally left-handed boy, who has
laboriously taught himself the use of his right hand, it is a family
joke that he is like the inhabitants of Nineveh, who could not
tell their right hand from their left. But Harry himself has always
maintained that he can tell as well as the next man.

Out drifted the flock of choir-boys singing, "For thee, oh dear, dear
country," and presently, following them, out drifted the congregation;
among the crowd the girl that Harry loved, not so quickly that he had
not time for a look and a smile (just tinged with rose); and because she
was so sweet, so good, so altogether adorable, and because she had not
only smiled but blushed, and, unobserved, he had touched the fur of her
jacket, the young man walked on air.

He did not remember the Saint Bernards until after the early Sunday
dinner, and during the after-dinner cigar. He was sitting in the
library, before some blazing logs, at peace with all the world. To him,
thus, came his mother and announced that the dean and "that man who
preached this morning, you know," were waiting in the other room.

"They seem excited," said she, "and talk about your munificence. What
HAVE you been doing?"

"Appear to make a great deal of fuss over ten dollars," said Harry,
lightly, as he sauntered out of the door.

The dean greeted him with something almost like confusion in his
cordiality; he introduced his companion as the Rev. Mr. Gilling.

"Mr. Gilling could not feel easy until he had----"

"Made sure about there being no mistake," interrupted Mr. Gilling;
"I--the sum was so great------"

A ghastly suspicion shot like a fever-flush over Harry's mind. Could it
be possible? There were the two other bills; could he have given one of
them? Given that howling dervish a hundred dollars? The thought was too
awful!

"It was really not enough for you to trouble yourself," he said; "I dare
say you are thanking the wrong man." He felt he must say something.

To his surprise the dean colored, while the other clergyman answered, in
all simplicity:

"No, sir, no, sir. I know very well. The only other bill, except
dollars, on the plate, the dean here gave, and the warden remembers that
you put in two notes--I"--he grew quite pale--"I can't help thinking you
maybe intended to put in only ONE!" His voice broke, he tried to control
it. "The sum is so VERY large!" quavered he.

"I have given him BOTH bills, two hundred dollars!" thought Harry. He
sat down. He was accustomed to read men's faces, and plainly as ever
he had read, he could read the signs of distress and conflict on the
prosaic, dull features before him.

"I INTENDED to put in two bills," said he. Gilling gave a little
gasp--so little, only a quick ear could have caught it; but Harry's
ear is quick. He twisted one leg around the other, a further sign of
deliverance of mind.

"Well, sir, well, Mr. Lossing," he remarked, clearing his throat,
"I cannot express to you properly the--the appreciation I have of
your--your PRINCELY gift!" (Harry changed a groan into a cough and tried
to smile.) "I would like to ask you, however, HOW you would like it to
be divided. There are a number of worthy causes: the furnishing of the
church, which is in charge of the Ladies' Aid Society; they are very
hard workers, the ladies of our church. And there is the Altar Guild,
which has the keeping of the altar in order. They are mostly young
girls, and they used to wash my things--I mean the vestments"
(blushing)--"but they--they were so young they were not careful, and my
wife thought she had best wash the--vestments herself, but she
allowed them to laundry the other--ah, things." There was the same
discursiveness in his talk as in his sermon, Harry thought; and the
same uneasy restlessness of manner. "Then, we give to--various causes,
and--and there is, also, my own salary----"

"That is what it was intended for," said Harry. "I hope the two hundred
dollars will be of some use to you, and then, indirectly, it will help
your church."

Harry surprised a queer glance from the dean's brown eyes; there was
both humor and a something else that was solemn enough in it. The dean
had believed that there was a mistake.

"All of it! To ME!" cried Gilling.

"All of it. To YOU," Harry replied, dryly. He was conscious of the
dean's gaze upon him. "I had a sudden impulse," said he, "and I gave it;
that is all."

The tears rose to the clergyman's eyes; he tried to wink them away, then
he tried to brush them away with a quick rub of his fingers, then he
sprang up and walked to the window, his back to Harry. Directly he was
facing the young man again, and speaking.

"You must excuse me, Mr. Lossing; since my sickness a little thing
upsets me."

"Mr. Gilling had diphtheria last spring," the dean struck in, "there was
an epidemic of diphtheria, in Matin's Junction; Mr. Gilling really saved
the place; but his wife and he both contracted the disease, and his wife
nearly died."

Harry remembered some story that he had heard at the time--his eyes
began to light up as they do when he is moved.

"Why, YOU are the man that made them disinfect their houses," cried he,
"and invented a little oven or something to steam mattresses and things.
You are the man that nursed them and buried them when the undertaker
died. You digged graves with your own hands--I say, I should like to
shake hands with you!"

Gilling shook hands, submissively, but looking bewildered.

He cleared his throat. "Would you mind, Mr. Lossing, if I took up your
time so far as to tell you what so overcame me?"

"I should be glad----"

"You see, sir, my wife was the daughter of the Episcopal minister--I
mean the rector, at the town--well, it wasn't a town, it was two or
three towns off in Shelby County where I had my circuit. You may be
surprised, sir, to know that I was once a Methodist minister."

"Is it possible?" said Harry.

"Yes, sir. Her father--my wife's, I mean--was about as high a churchman
as he could be, and be married. He induced me to join our communion; and
very soon after I was married. I hope, Mr. Lossing, you'll come and see
us some time, and see my wife. She--are you married?"

"I am not so fortunate."

"A good wife cometh from the Lord, sir, SURE! I thought I appreciated
mine, but I guess I didn't. She had two things she wanted, and one I
did want myself; but the other--I couldn't seem to bring my mind to it,
no--anyhow! We hadn't any children but one that died four years ago,
a little baby. Ever since she died my wife has had a longing to have
a stained-glass window, with the picture, you know, of Christ blessing
little children, put into our little church. In Memoriam, you know.
Seems as if, now we've lost the baby, we think all the more of the
church. Maybe she was a sort of idol to us. Yes, sir, that's one thing
my wife fairly longed for. We've saved our money, what we COULD save;
there are so many calls; during the sickness, last winter, the sick
needed so many things, and it didn't seem right for us to neglect them
just for our baby's window; and--the money went. The other thing was
different. My wife has got it into her head I have a fine voice. And
she's higher church than I am; so she has always wanted me to INTONE. I
told her I'd look like a fool intoning, and there's no mistake about
it, I DO! But she couldn't see it that way. It was 'most the only point
wherein we differed; and last spring, when she was so sick, and I didn't
know but I'd lose her, it was dreadful to me to think how I'd
crossed her. So, Mr. Lossing, when she got well I promised her, for a
thank-offering, I'd intone. And I have ever since. My people know me so
well, and we've been through so much together, that they didn't make any
fuss--though they are not high--fact is, I'm not high myself. But they
were kind and considerate, and I got on pretty well at home; but when
I came to rise up in that great edifice, before that cultured and
intellectual audience, so finely dressed, it did seem to me I could NOT
do it! I was sorely tempted to break my promise. I was, for a fact." He
drew a long breath. "I just had to pray for grace, or I never would have
pulled through. I had the sermon my wife likes best with me; but I know
it lacks--it lacks--it isn't what you need! I was dreadfully scared and
I felt miserable when I got up to preach it--and then to think that you
were--but it is the Lord's doing and marvellous in our eyes! I don't
know what Maggie will say when I tell her we can get the window. The
best she hoped was I'd bring back enough so the church could pay me
eighteen dollars they owe on my salary. And now--it's wonderful! Why,
Mr. Lossing, I've been thinking so much and wanting so to get that
window for her, that, hearing the dean wanted some car-pentering done, I
thought maybe, as I'm a fair carpenter--that was my trade once, sir--I'd
ask him to let ME do the job. I was aware there is nothing in our
rules--I mean our canons--to prevent me, and nobody need know I was the
rector of Matin's Junction, because I would come just in my overalls.
There is a cheap place where I could lodge, and I could feed myself for
almost nothing, living is so cheap. I was praying about that, too.
Now, your noble generosity will enable me to donate what they owe on my
salary, and get the window too!"

"Take my advice," said Harry, "donate nothing. Say nothing about this
gift; I will take care of the warden, and I can answer for the dean."

"Yes," said the dean, "on the whole, Gilling, you would better say
nothing, I think; Mr. Lossing is more afraid of a reputation for
generosity than of the small-pox."

The older man looked at Harry with glistening eyes of admiration; with
what Christian virtues of humility he was endowing that embarrassed
young man, it is painful to imagine.

The dean's eyes twinkled above his handkerchief, which hid his mouth, as
he rose to make his farewells. He shook hands, warmly. "God bless you,
Harry," said he. Gilling, too, wrung Harry's hands; he was seeking some
parting word of gratitude, but he could only choke out, "I hope you will
get MARRIED some time, Mr. Lossing, then you'll understand."

"Well," said Harry, as the door closed, and he flung out his arms and
his chest in a huge sigh, "I do believe it was better than the puppies!"



HARRY LOSSING

THE note-book of Mr. Horatio Armorer, president of our street railways,
contained a page of interest to some people in our town, on the occasion
of his last visit.

He wrote it while the train creaked over the river, and the porter of
his Pullman car was brushing all the dust that had been distributed on
the passengers' clothing, into the main aisle.

If you had seen him writing it (with a stubby little pencil that he
occasionally brightened with the tip of his tongue), you would not have
dreamed him to be more profoundly disturbed than he had been in years.
Nor would the page itself have much enlightened you.

      "_See abt road M-- D--        See L
        See E & M tea-set
        See abt L_."


Translated into long-hand, this reads: "See about the street-car road,
Marston (the superintendent) and Dane (the lawyer). See Lossing, see
Esther and Maggie, and remember about tea-set. See about Lossing."

His memoranda written, he slipped the book in his pocket, reflecting
cynically, "There's habit! I've no need of writing that. It's not
pleasant enough to forget!"

Thirty odd years ago, Horatio Armorer--they called him 'Raish, then--had
left the town to seek his fortune in Chicago. It was his daydream to
wrestle a hundred thousand dollars out of the world's tight fists, and
return to live in pomp on Brady Street hill! He should drive a buggy
with two horses, and his wife should keep two girls. Long ago, the
hundred thousand limit had been reached and passed, next the million;
and still he did not return. His father, the Presbyterian minister, left
his parish, or, to be exact, was gently propelled out of his parish by
the disaffected; the family had a new home; and the son, struggling to
help them out of his scanty resources, went to the new parish and not
to the old. He grew rich, he established his brothers and sisters in
prosperity, he erected costly monuments and a memorial church to his
parents (they were beyond any other gifts from him); he married, and
lavished his money on three daughters; but the home of his youth neither
saw him nor his money until Margaret Ellis bought a house on Brady
Street, far up town, where she could have all the grass that she wanted.
Mrs. Ellis was a widow and rich. Not a millionaire like her brother, but
the possessor of a handsome property.

She was the best-natured woman in the world, and never guessed how hard
her neighbors found it to forgive her for always calling their town of
thirty thousand souls, "the country." She said that she had pined for
years to live in the country, and have horses, and a Jersey cow and
chickens, and "a neat pig." All of which modest cravings she gratified
on her little estate; and the gardener was often seen with a scowl and
the garden hose, keeping the pig neat.

It was later that Mr. Armorer had bought the street railways, they
having had a troublous history and being for sale cheap. Nobody that
knows Armorer as a business man would back his sentiment by so much
as an old shoe; yet it was sentiment, and not a good bargain, that had
enticed the financier. Once engaged, the instincts of a shrewd trader
prompted him to turn it into a good bargain, anyhow. His fancy was
pleased by a vision of a return to the home of his childhood and his
struggling youth, as a greater personage than his hopes had ever dared
promise.

But, in the event, there was little enough gratification for his vanity.
Not since his wife's death had he been so harassed and anxious; for he
came not in order to view his new property, but because his sister
had written him her suspicions that Harry Lossing wanted to marry his
youngest daughter.

Armorer arrived in the early dawn. Early as it was, a handsome victoria,
with horses sleeker of skin and harness heavier and brighter than one
is used to meet outside the great cities, had been in waiting for twenty
minutes; while for that space of time a pretty girl had paced up and
down the platform. The keenest observer among the crowd, airing its meek
impatience on the platform, did not detect any sign of anxiety in her
behavior. She walked erect, with a step that left a clean-cut footprint
in the dust, as girls are trained to walk nowadays. Her tailor-made
gown of fine blue serge had not a wrinkle. It was so simple that only
a fashionable woman could guess anywhere near the awful sum total which
that plain skirt, that short jacket, and that severe waistcoat had once
made on a ruled sheet of paper. When she turned her face toward the low,
red station-house and the people, it looked gentle, and the least in the
world sad. She had one of those clear olive skins that easily grow pale;
it was pale to-day. Her black hair was fine as spun silk; the coil under
her hat-brim shone as she moved. The fine hair, the soft, transparent
skin, and the beautiful marking of her brows were responsible for an air
of fragile daintiness in her person, just as her almond-shaped,
liquid dark eyes and unsmiling mouth made her look sad. It was a most
attractive face, in all its moods; sometimes it was a beautiful face;
yet it did not have a single perfect feature except the mouth, which--at
least so Harry Lossing told his mother--might have been stolen from the
Venus of Milo. Even the mouth, some critics called too small for her
nose; but it is as easy to call her nose too large for her mouth.

The instant she turned her back on the bustle of the station, all the
lines in her face seemed to waver and the eyes to brighten. Finally,
when the train rolled up to the platform and a young-looking elderly man
swung himself nimbly off the steps, the color flared up in her cheeks,
only to sink as suddenly; like a candle flame in a gust of wind.

Mr. Armorer put his two arms and his umbrella and travelling-bag about
the charming shape in blue, at the same time exclaiming, "You're a good
girl to come out so early, Essie! How's Aunt Meg?"

"Oh, very well. She would have come too, but she hasn't come back from
training."

"Training?"

"Yes, dear, she has a regular trainer, like John L. Sullivan, you know.
She drives out to the park with Eliza and me, and walks and runs races,
and does gymnastics. She has lost ten pounds."

Armorer wagged his head with a grin: "I dare say. I thought so when you
began. Meg is always moaning and groaning because she isn't a sylph!
She will make her cook's life a burden for about two months and lose ten
pounds, and then she will revel in ice-cream! Last time, she was raving
about Dr. Salisbury and living on beefsteak sausages, spending a fortune
starving herself."

"She had Dr. Salisbury's pamphlet; but Cardigan told her it was a long
way out; so she said she hated to have it do no one any good, and she
gave it to Maria, one of the maids, who is always fretting because she
is so thin."

"But the thing was to cure fat people!"

"Precisely." Esther laughed a little low laugh, at which her father's
eyes shone; "but you see she told Maria to exactly reverse the advice
and eat everything that was injurious to stout people, and it would be
just right for her."

"I perceive," said Armorer, dryly; "very ingenious and feminine scheme.
But who is Cardigan?"

"Shuey Cardigan? He is the trainer. He is a fireman in a furniture shop,
now; but he used to be the boxing teacher for some Harvard men; and he
was a distinguished pugilist, once. He said to me, modestly, 'I don't
suppose you will have seen my name in the _Police Gazette_, miss?' But
he really is a very sober, decent man, notwithstanding."

"Your Aunt Meg always was picking up queer birds! Pray, who introduced
this decent pugilist?"

Esther was getting into the carriage; her face was turned from him, but
he could see the pink deepen in her ear and the oval of her cheek. She
answered that it was a friend of theirs, Mr. Lossing. As if the name had
struck them both dumb, neither spoke for a few moments. Armorer bit a
sigh in two. "Essie," said he, "I guess it is no use to side-track the
subject. You know why I came here, don't you?"

"Aunt Meg told me what she wrote to you."

"I knew she would. She had compunctions of conscience letting him hang
round you, until she told me; and then she had awful gripes because she
had told, and had to confess to YOU!"

He continued in a different tone: "Essie, I have missed your mother
a long while, and nobody knows how that kind of missing hurts; but it
seems to me I never missed her as I do to-day. I need her to advise me
about you, Essie. It is like this: I don't want to be a stern parent
any more than you want to elope on a rope ladder. We have got to look
at this thing together, my dear little girl, and try to--to trust each
other."

"Don't you think, papa," said Esther, smiling rather tremulously, "that
we would better wait, before we have all these solemn preparations,
until we know surely whether Mr. Lossing wants me?"

"Don't you know surely?"

"He has never said anything of--of that--kind."

"Oh, he is in love with you fast enough," growled Armorer; but a smile
of intense relief brightened his face. "Now, you see, my dear, all I
know about this young man, except that he wants my daughter--which you
will admit is not likely to prejudice me in his favor--is that he is
mayor of this town and has a furniture store----"

"A manufactory; it is a very large business!"

"All right, manufactory, then; all the same he is not a brilliant match
for my daughter, not such a husband as your sisters have." Esther's lip
quivered and her color rose again; but she did not speak. "Still I will
say that I think a fellow who can make his own fortune is better than
a man with twice that fortune made for him. My dear, if Lossing has the
right stuff in him and he is a real good fellow, I shan't make you go
into a decline by objecting; but you see it is a big shock to me, and
you must let me get used to it, and let me size the young man up in my
own way. There is another thing, Esther; I am going to Europe Thursday,
that will give me just a day in Chicago if I go to-morrow, and I wish
you would come with me. Will you mind?"

Either she changed her seat or she started at the proposal. But how
could she say that she wanted to stay in America with a man who had not
said a formal word of love to her? "I can get ready, I think, papa,"
said Esther.

They drove on. He felt a crawling pain in his heart, for he loved his
daughter Esther as he had loved no other child of his; and he knew that
he had hurt her. Naturally, he grew the more angry at the impertinent
young man who was the cause of the flitting; for the whole European plan
had been cooked up since the receipt of Mrs. Ellis's letter. They were
on the very street down which he used to walk (for it takes the line of
the hills) when he was a poor boy, a struggling, ferociously ambitious
young man. He looked at the changed rows of buildings, and other
thoughts came uppermost for a moment. "It was here father's church used
to stand; it's gone, now," he said. "It was a wood church, painted a
kind of gray; mother had a bonnet the same color, and she used to say
she matched the church. I bought it with the very first money I earned.
Part of it came from weeding, and the weather was warm, and I can feel
the way my back would sting and creak, now! I would want to stop, often,
but I thought of mother in church with that bonnet, and I kept on!
There's the place where Seeds, the grocer that used to trust us, had
his store; it was his children had the scarlet fever, and mother went
to nurse them. My! but how dismal it was at home! We always got more
whippings when mother was away. Your grandfather was a good man, too
honest for this world, and he loved every one of his seven children;
but he brought us up to fear him and the Lord. We feared him the most,
because the Lord couldn't whip us! He never whipped us when we did
anything, but waited until next day, that he might not punish in anger;
so we had all the night to anticipate it. Did I ever tell you of the
time he caught me in a lie? I was lame for a week after it. He never
caught me in another lie."

"I think he was cruel; I can't help it, papa," cried Esther, with whom
this was an old argument, "still it did good, that time!"

"Oh, no, he wasn't cruel, my dear," said Armorer, with a queer smile
that seemed to take only one-half of his face, not answering the last
words; "he was too sure of his interpretation of the Scripture, that was
all. Why, that man just slaved to educate us children; he'd have gone
to the stake rejoicing to have made sure that we should be saved. And of
the whole seven only one is a church member. Is that the road?"

They could see a car swinging past, on a parallel street, its bent pole
hitching along the trolley-wire.


"Pretty scrubby-looking cars," commented Armorer; "but get our new
ordinance through the council, we can save enough to afford some fine
new cars. Has Lossing said anything to you about the ordinance and our
petition to be allowed to leave off the conductors?"

"He hasn't said anything, but I read about it in the papers. Is it so
very important that it should be passed?"

"Saving money is always important, my dear," said Armorer, seriously.

The horses turned again. They were now opposite a fair lawn and a
house of wood and stone built after the old colonial pattern, as modern
architects see it. Esther pointed, saying:

"Aunt Meg's, papa; isn't it pretty?"

"Very handsome, very fine," said the financier, who knew nothing about
architecture, except its exceeding expense. "Esther, I've a notion; if
that young man of yours has brains and is fond of you he ought to be
able to get my ordinance through his little eight by ten city council.
There is our chance to see what stuff he is made of!"

"Oh, he has a great deal of influence," said Esther; "he can do it,
unless--unless he thinks the ordinance would be bad for the city, you
know."

"Confound the modern way of educating girls!" thought Armorer. "Now, it
would have been enough for Esther's mother to know that anything was for
my interests; it wouldn't have to help all out-doors, too!"

But instead of enlarging on this point, he went into a sketch of the
improvements the road could make with the money saved by the change,
and was waxing eloquent when a lady of a pleasant and comely face, and a
trig though not slender figure, advanced to greet them.


It was after breakfast (and the scene was the neat pig's pen, where
Armorer was displaying his ignorance of swine) that he found his first
chance to talk with his sister alone. "Oh, first, Sis," said he, "about
your birthday, to-day; I telegraphed to Tiffany's for that silver
service, you know, that you liked, so you needn't think there's a
mistake when it comes."

"Oh, 'Raish, that gorgeous thing! I must kiss you, if Daniel does see
me!"

"Oh, that's all right," said Armorer, hastily, and began to talk of
the pig. Suddenly, without looking up, he dropped into the pig-pen the
remark: "I'm very much obliged to you for writing me, Meg."

"I don't know whether to feel more like a virtuous sister or a villanous
aunt," sighed Mrs. Ellis; "things seemed to be getting on so rapidly
that it didn't seem right, Esther visiting me and all, not to give you a
hint; still, I am sure that nothing has been said, and it is horrid for
Esther, perfectly HORRID, discussing her proposals that haven't been
proposed!"

"I don't want them ever to be proposed," said Armorer, gloomily.

"I know you always said you didn't want Esther to marry; but I thought
if she fell in love with the right man--we know that marriage is a very
happy estate, sometimes, Horatio!" She sighed again. In her case it
was only the memory of happiness, for Colonel Ellis had been dead these
twelve years; but his widow mourned him still.

"If you marry the right one, maybe," answered Armorer, grudgingly;
"but see here, Meg, Esther is different from the other girls; they got
married when Jenny was alive to look after them, and I knew the men, and
they were both big matches, you know. Then, too, I was so busy making
money while the other girls grew up that I hadn't time to get real well
acquainted with them. I don't think they ever kissed me, except when I
gave them a check. But Esther and I----" he drummed with his fingers on
the boards, his thin, keen face wearing a look that would have amazed
his business acquaintances--"you remember when her mother died, Meg?
Only fifteen, and how she took hold of things! And we have been together
ever since, and she makes me think of her grandmother and her mother
both. She's never had a wish I knew that I haven't granted--why, d----
it! I've bought my clothes to please her----"

"That's why you are become so well-dressed, Horatio; I wondered how you
came to spruce up so!" interrupted Mrs. Ellis.

"It has been so blamed lonesome whenever she went to visit you, but yet
I wouldn't say a word because I knew what a good time she had; but if I
had known that there was a confounded, long-legged, sniffy young idiot
all that while trying to steal my daughter away from me!" In an access
of wrath at the idea Armorer wrenched off the picket that he clutched,
at which he laughed and stuck his hands in his pockets.

"Why, Meg, the papers and magazines are always howling that women won't
marry," cried he, with a fresh sense of grievance; "now, two of my girls
have married, that's enough; there was no reason for me to expect any
more of them would! There isn't one d---- bit of need for Esther to
marry!"

"But if she loves the young fellow and he loves her, won't you let them
be happy?"

"He won't make her happy."

"He is a very good fellow, truly and really, 'Raish. And he comes of a
good family----"

"I don't care for his family; and as to his being moral and all that, I
know several young fellows that could skin him alive in a bargain
that are moral as you please. I have been a moral man, myself. But the
trouble with this Lossing (I told Esther I didn't know anything about
him, but I do), the trouble with him is that he is chock full of all
kinds of principles! Just as father was. Don't you remember how he lost
parish after parish because he couldn't smooth over the big men in them?
Lossing is every bit as pig-headed. I am not going to have my daughter
lead the kind of life my mother did. I want a son-in-law who ain't going
to think himself so much better than I am, and be rowing me for my way
of doing business. If Esther MUST marry I'd like her to marry a man with
a head on him that I can take into business, and who will be willing to
live with the old man. This Lossing has got his notions of making a sort
of Highland chief affair of the labor question, and we should get along
about as well as the Kilkenny cats!"

Mrs. Ellis knew more than Esther about Armorer's business methods,
having the advantage of her husband's point of view; and Colonel Ellis
had kept the army standard of honor as well as the army ignorance of
business. To counterbalance, she knew more than anyone alive what a good
son and brother Horatio had always been. But she could not restrain a
smile at the picture of the partnership.

"Precisely, you see yourself," said Armorer. "Meg"--hesitating--"you
don't suppose it would be any use to offer Esther a cool hundred
thousand to promise to bounce this young fellow?"

"Horatio, NO!" cried Mrs. Ellis, tossing her pretty gray head
indignantly; "you'd insult her!"

"Take it the same way, eh? Well, perhaps; Essie has high-toned notions.
That's all right, it is the thing for women. Mother had them too. Look
here, Meg, I'll tell you, I want to see if this young fellow has ANY
sense! We have an ordinance that we want passed. If he will get his
council to pass it, that will show he can put his grand theories into
his pockets sometimes; and I will give him a show with Esther. If he
doesn't care enough for my girl to oblige her father, even if he doesn't
please a lot of carping roosters that want the earth for their town and
would like a street railway to be run to accommodate them and lose money
for the stockholders, well, then, you can't blame me if I don't want
him! Now, will you do one thing for me, Meg, to help me out? I don't
want Lossing to persuade Esther to commit herself; you know how, when
she was a little mite, if Esther gave her word she kept it. I want
you to promise me you won't let Esther be alone one second with young
Lossing. She is going to-morrow, but there's your whist-party to-night;
I suppose he's coming? And I want you to promise you won't let him have
our address. If he treats me square, he won't need to ask you for it.
Well?"

He buttoned up his coat and folded his arms, waiting.

Mrs. Ellis's sympathy had gone out to the young people as naturally as
water runs down hill; for she is of a romantic temperament, though she
doesn't dare to be weighed. But she remembered the silver service, the
coffee-pot, the tea-pot, the tray for spoons, the creamer, the hot-water
kettle, the sugar-bowl, all on a rich salver, splendid, dazzling; what
rank ingratitude it would be to oppose her generous brother! Rather
sadly she answered, but she did answer: "I'll do that much for you,
'Raish, but I feel we're risking Esther's happiness, and I can only keep
the letter of my promise."

"That's all I ask, my dear," said Armorer, taking out a little shabby
note-book from his breast-pocket, and scratching out a line. The line
effaced read:

"_See E & M tea-set_."


"The silver service was a good muzzle," he thought. He went away for
an interview with the corporation lawyer and the superintendent of the
road, leaving Mrs. Ellis in a distraction of conscience that made her
the wonder of her servants that morning, during all the preparations for
the whist-party. She might have felt more remorseful had she guessed
her brother's real plan. He knew enough of Lossing to be assured that
he would not yield about the ordinance, which he firmly believed to be
a dangerous one for the city. He expected, he counted on the mayor's
refusing his proffers. He hoped that Esther would feel the sympathy
which women give, without question generally, to the business plans of
those near and dear to them, taking it for granted that the plans are
right because they will advantage those so near and dear. That was the
beautiful and proper way that Jenny had always reasoned; why should
Jenny's daughter do otherwise? When Harry Lossing should oppose
her father and refuse to please him and to win her, mustn't any
high-spirited woman feel hurt? Certainly she must; and he would take
care to whisk her off to Europe before the young man had a chance to
make his peace! "Yes, sir," says Armorer, to his only confidant, "you
never were a domestic conspirator before, Horatio, but you have got it
down fine! You would do for Gaboriau"--Gaboriau's novels being the only
fiction that ever Armorer read. Nevertheless, his conscience pricked
him almost as sharply as his sister's pricked her. Consciences are queer
things; like certain crustaceans, they grow shells in spots; and, proof
against moral artillery in one part, they may be soft as a baby's cheek
in another. Armorer's conscience had two sides, business and domestic;
people abused him for a business buccaneer, at the same time his private
life was pure, and he was a most tender husband and father. He had never
deceived Esther before in her life. Once he had ridden all night in a
freight-car to keep a promise that he had made the child. It hurt him to
be hoodwinking her now. But he was too angry and too frightened to cry
back.

The interview with the lawyer did not take any long time, but he spent
two hours with the superintendent of the road, who pronounced him "a
little nice fellow with no airs about him. Asked a power of questions
about Harry Lossing; guess there is something in that story about
Lossing going to marry his daughter!"

Marston drove him to Lossing's office and left him there.

He was on the ground, and Marston lifting the whip to touch the horse,
when he asked: "Say, before you go--is there any danger in leaving off
the conductors?"

Marston was raised on mules, and he could not overcome a vehement
distrust of electricity. "Well," said he, "I guess you want the cold
facts. The children are almighty thick down on Third Street, and
children are always trying to see how near they can come to being
killed, you know, sir; and then, the old women like to come and stand on
the track and ask questions of the motorneer on the other track, so that
the car coming down has a chance to catch 'em. The two together keep the
conductors on the jump!"

"Is that so?" said Armorer, musingly; "well, I guess you'd better close
with that insurance man and get the papers made out before we run the
new way."

"If we ever do run!" muttered the superintendent to himself as he drove
away.

Armorer ran his sharp eye over the buildings of the Lossing Art
Furniture Manufacturing Company, from the ugly square brick box that was
the nucleus--the egg, so to speak--from which the great concern had been
hatched, to the handsome new structures with their great arched windows
and red mortar. "Pretty property, very pretty property," thought
Armorer; "wonder if that story Marston tells is true!" The story was to
the effect that a few weeks before his last sickness the older Lossing
had taken his son to look at the buildings, and said, "Harry, this will
all be yours before long. It is a comfort to me to think that every
workman I have is the better, not the worse, off for my owning it;
there's no blood or dirt on my money; and I leave it to you to keep it
clean and to take care of the men as well as the business."

"Now, wasn't he a d---- fool!" said Armorer, cheerfully, taking out his
note-book to mark.

"_See abt road M--D--_"


And he went in. Harry greeted him with exceeding cordiality and a fine
blush. Armorer explained that he had come to speak to him about the
proposed street-car ordinances; he (Armorer) always liked to deal with
principals and without formality; now, couldn't they come, representing
the city and the company, to some satisfactory compromise? Thereupon
he plunged into the statistics of the earnings and expenses of the road
(with the aid of his note-book), and made the absolute necessity of
retrenchment plain. Meanwhile, as he talked he studied the attentive
listener before him; and Harry, on his part, made quite as good use of
his eyes. Armorer saw a tall, athletic, fair young man, very carefully,
almost foppishly dressed, with bright, steady blue eyes and a firm chin,
but a smile under his mustache like a child's; it was so sunny and so
quick. Harry saw a neat little figure in a perfectly fitting gray
check travelling suit, with a rose in the buttonhole of the coat lapel.
Armorer wore no jewellery except a gold ring on the little finger of his
right hand, from which he had taken the glove the better to write. Harry
knew that it was his dead wife's wedding-ring; and noticed it with
a little moving of the heart. The face that he saw was pale but not
sickly, delicate and keen. A silky brown mustache shot with gray and
a Van-dyke beard hid either the strength or the weakness of mouth and
chin. He looked at Harry with almond-shaped, pensive dark eyes, so like
the eyes that had shone on Harry's waking and sleeping dreams for months
that the young fellow felt his heart rise again. Armorer ended by asking
Harry (in his most winning manner) to help him pull the ordinance out of
the fire. "It would be," he said, impressively, "a favor he should not
forget!"

"And you must know, Mr. Armorer," said Harry, in a dismal tone at which
the president chuckled within, "that there is no man whose favor I would
do so much to win!"

"Well, here's your chance!" said Armorer.

Harry swung round in his chair, his clinched fists on his knee. He was
frowning with eagerness, and his eyes were like blue steel.

"See here, Mr. Armorer," said he, "I am frank with you. I want to please
you, because I want to ask you to let me marry your daughter. But I
CAN'T please you, because I am mayor of this town, and I don't dare to
let you dismiss the conductors. I don't DARE, that's the point. We have
had four children killed on this road since electricity was put in."

"We have had forty killed on one street railway I know; what of it? Do
you want to give up electricity because it kills children?"

"No, but look here! the conductors lessen the risk. A lady I know,
only yesterday, had a little boy going from the kindergarten home, nice
little fellow only five years old----"

"She ought to have sent a nurse with a child five years old, a baby!"
cried Armorer, warmly.

"That lady," answered Harry, quietly, "goes without any servant at all
in order to keep her two children at the kindergarten; and the boy's
elder sister was ill at home. The boy got on the car, and when he got
off at the crossing above his house, he started to run across; the other
train-car was coming, the little fellow didn't notice, and ran to cross;
he stumbled and fell right in the path of the coming car!"

"Where was the conductor? He didn't seem much good!"

"They had left off the conductor on that line."

"Well, did they run over the boy? Why haven't I been informed of the
accident?"

"There was no accident. A man on the front platform saw the boy fall,
made a flying leap off the moving car, fell, but scrambled up and pulled
the boy off the track. It was sickening; I thought we were both gone!"

"Oh, you were the man?"

"I was the man; and don't you see, Mr. Armorer, why I feel strongly on
the subject? If the conductor had been on, there wouldn't have been any
occasion for any accident."

"Well, sir, you may be assured that we will take precautions against
any such accidents. It is more for our interest than anyone's to guard
against them. And I have explained to you the necessity of cutting down
our expense list."

"That is just it, you think you have to risk our lives to cut down
expenses; but we get all the risk and none of the benefits. I can't see
my way clear to helping you, sir; I wish I could."

"Then there is nothing more to say, Mr. Lossing," said Armorer, coldly.
"I'm sorry a mere sentiment that has no real foundation should stand in
the way of our arranging a deal that would be for the advantage of both
the city and our road." He rose.

Harry rose also, but lifted his hand to arrest the financier. "Pardon
me, there is something else; I wouldn't mention it, but I hear you
are going to leave to-morrow and go abroad with--Miss Armorer. I am
conscious I haven't introduced myself very favorably, by refusing you a
favor when I want to ask the greatest one possible; but I hope, sir, you
will not think the less of a man because he is not willing to sacrifice
the interests of the people who trust him, to please ANYONE. I--I hope
you will not object to my asking Miss Armorer to marry me," concluded
Harry, very hot and shaky, and forgetting the beginning of his sentences
before he came to the end.

"Does my daughter love you, do I understand, Mr. Lossing?"

"I don't know, sir. I wish I did."

"Well, Mr. Lossing," said Armorer, wishing that something in the young
man's confusion would not remind him of the awful moment when he asked
old Forrester for his Jenny, "I am afraid I can do nothing for you. If
you have too nice a conscience to oblige me, I am afraid it will be too
nice to let you get on in the world. Good-morning."

"Stop a minute," said Harry; "if it is only my ability to get on in the
world that is the trouble, I think------"

"It is your love for my daughter," said Armorer; "if you don't love her
enough to give up a sentimental notion for her, to win her, I don't see
but you must lose her, I bid you good-morning, sir."

"Not quite yet, sir"--Harry jumped before the door; "you give me the
alternative of being what I call dishonorable or losing the woman I
love!" He pronounced the last word with a little effort and his lips
closed sharply as his teeth shut under them. "Well, I decline the
alternative. I shall try to do my duty and get the wife I want, BOTH."

"Well, you give me fair warning, don't you?" said Armorer.

Harry held out his hand, saying, "I am sorry that I detained you. I
didn't mean to be rude." There was something boyish and simple about the
action and the tone, and Armorer laughed. As Harry attended him through
the outer office to the door, he complimented the shops.

"Miss Armorer and Mrs. Ellis have promised to give me the pleasure of
showing them to them this afternoon," said Harry; "can't I show them and
part of our city to you, also? It has changed a good deal since you left
it."

The remark threw Armorer off his balance; for a rejected suitor this
young man certainly kept an even mind. But he had all the helplessness
of the average American with regard to his daughter's amusements. The
humor in the situation took him; and it cannot be denied that he began
to have a vivid curiosity about Harry. In less time than it takes to
read it, his mind had swung round the circle of these various points of
view, and he had blandly accepted Harry's invitation. But he mopped a
warm and furrowed brow, outside, and drew a prodigious sigh as he opened
the note-book in his hand and crossed out, "_See L._" "That young fellow
ain't all conscience," said he, "not by a long shot."

He found Mrs. Ellis very apologetic about the Lossing engagement. It was
made through the telephone; Esther had been anxious to have her father
meet Lossing; Lossing was to drive them there, and later show Mr.
Armorer the town.

"Mr. Lossing is a very clever young man, very," said Armorer, gravely,
as he went out to smoke his cigar after luncheon. He wished he had
stayed, however, when he returned to find that a visitor had called, and
that this visitor was the mother of the little boy that Harry Lossing
had saved from the car. The two women gave him the accident in full, and
were lavish of harrowing detail, including the mother's feelings. "So
you see, 'Raish," urged Mrs. Ellis, timidly, "there is some reason for
opposition to the ordinance."

Esther's cheeks were red and her eyes shone, but she had not spoken. Her
father put his arm around her waist and kissed her hair. "And what did
you say, Essie," he asked, gently, "to all the criticisms?"

"I told her I thought you would find some way to protect the children
even if the conductors were taken off; you didn't enjoy the slaughter of
children any more than anyone else."

"I guess we can fix it. Here is your young man."

Harry drove a pair of spirited horses. He drove well, and looked both
handsome and happy.

"Did you know that lady--the mother of the boy that wasn't run over--was
coming to see my sister?" said Armorer, on the way.

"I did," said Harry, "I sent her; I thought she could explain the reason
why I shall have to oppose the bill, better than I."

Armorer made no reply.

At the shops he kept his eye on the young man. Harry seemed to know
most of his workmen, and had a nod or a word for all the older men. He
stopped several moments to talk with one old German who complained of
everything, but looked after Harry with a smile, nodding his head. "That
man, Lieders, is our best workman; you can't get any better work in the
country," said he. "I want you to see an armoire that he has carved, it
is up in our exhibition room."

Armorer said, "You seem to get on very well with your working people,
Mr. Lossing."

"I think we generally get on well with them, and they do well
themselves, in these Western towns. For one thing, we haven't much
organization to fight, and for another thing, the individual workman has
a better chance to rise. That man Lieders, whom you saw, is worth a good
many thousand dollars; my father invested his savings for him."

"You are one of the philanthropists, aren't you, Mr. Lossing, who are
trying to elevate the laboring classes?"

"Not a bit of it, sir. I shall never try to elevate the laboring
classes; it is too big a contract. But I try as hard as I know how to
have every man who has worked for Harry Lossing the better for it. I
don't concern myself with any other laboring men."

Just then a murmur of exclamations came from Mrs. Ellis and Esther, whom
the superintendent was piloting through the shops. "Oh, no, it is too
heavy; oh, don't do it, Mr. Cardigan!" "Oh, we can see it perfectly well
from here! PLEASE don't, you will break yourself somewhere!" Mrs. Ellis
shrieked this; but the shrieks turned to a murmur of admiration as a
huge carved sideboard came bobbing and wobbling, like an intoxicated
piece of furniture in a haunted house, toward the two gentlewomen.
Immediately, a short but powerfully built man, whose red face beamed
above his dusty shoulders like a full moon with a mustache, emerged, and
waved his hand at the sideboard.

"I could tackle the two of them, begging your pardon, ladies."

"That's Cardigan," explained Harry, "Miss Armorer may have told you
about him. Oh, SHUEY!"

Cardigan approached and was presented. He brought both his heels
together and bowed solemnly, bending his head at the same time.

"Pleased to meet you, sir," said Shuey. Then he assumed an attitude of
military attention.

"Take us up in the elevator, will you, Shuey?" said Harry. "Step in, Mr.
Armorer, please, we will go and see the reproductions of the antique; we
have a room upstairs."

Mr. Armorer stepped in, Shuey following; and then, before Harry could
enter it, the elevator shot upward and--stuck!

"What's the matter?" cried Armorer.

Shuey was tugging at the wire rope. He called, in tones that seemed to
come from a panting chest: "Take a pull at it yourself, sir! Can you
move it?"

Armorer grasped the rope viciously; Shuey was on the seat pulling from
above. "We're stuck, sir, fast!"

"Can't you get down either?"

"Divil a bit, saving your presence, sir. Do ye think like the
water-works could be busted?"

"Can't you make somebody hear?" panted Armorer.

"Well, you see there's a deal of noise of the machinery," said Shuey,
scratching his chin with a thoughtful air, "and they expect we've gone
up!"

"Best try, anyhow. This infernal machine may take a notion to drop!"
said Armorer.

"And that's true, too," acquiesced Shuey. Forthwith he did lift up his
voice in a loud wailing: "OH--H, Jimmy! OH--H, Jimmy Ryan!"

Jimmy might have been in Chicago for any response he made; though
Armorer shouted with Shuey; and at every pause the whir of the machinery
mocked the shouters. Indescribable moans and gurgles, with a continuous
malignant hiss, floated up to them from the rebel steam below, as from
a volcano considering eruption. "They'll be bound to need the elevator
some time, if they don't need US, and that's one comfort!" said Shuey,
philosophically.

"Don't you think if we pulled on her we could get her up to the next
floor, by degrees? Now then!"

Armorer gave a dash and Shuey let out his muscles in a giant tug. The
elevator responded by an astonishing leap that carried them past three
or four floors!

"Stop her! stop her!" bawled Shuey; but in spite of Armorer's pulling
himself purple in the face, the elevator did not stop until it bumped
with a crash against the joists of the roof.

"Well, do you suppose we're stuck HERE?" growled Armorer.

"Well, sir, I'll try. Say, don't be exerting yourself violent. It
strikes me she's for all the world like the wimmen,--in exthremes, sir,
in exthremes! And it wouldn't be noways so pleasant to go riproaring
that gait down cellar! Slow and easy, sir, let me manage her. Hi! she's
working."

In fact, by slow degrees and much puffing, Shuey got the erratic box to
the next floor, where, disregarding Shuey's protestations that he could
"make her mind," Mr. Armorer got out, and they left the elevator to its
fate. It was a long way, through many rooms, downstairs. Shuey would
have beguiled the way by describing the rooms, but Armorer was in a
raging hurry and urged his guide over the ground. Once they were delayed
by a bundle of stuff in front of a door; and after Shuey had laboriously
rolled the great roll away, he made a misstep and tumbled over, rolling
it back, to a tittering accompaniment from the sewing-girls in the room.
But he picked himself up in perfect good temper and kicked the roll ten
yards. "Girls is silly things," said the philosopher Shuey, "but being
born that way it ain't to be expected otherwise!"

He had the friendly freedom of his class in the West. He praised Mrs.
Ellis's gymnastics, and urged Armorer to stay over a morning train and
see a "real pretty boxing match" between Mr. Lossing and himself.

"Oh, he boxes too, does he?" said Armorer.

"And why on earth would he groan-like?" wondered Shuey to himself. "He
does that, sir," he continued aloud; "didn't Mrs. Ellis ever tell you
about the time at the circus? She was there herself, with three children
she borrowed and an unreasonable gyurl, with a terrible big screech in
her and no sense. Yes, sir, Mr. Lossing he is mighty cliver with his
hands! There come a yell of 'Lion loose! lion loose!' at that circus,
just as the folks was all crowding out at the end of it, and them that
had gone into the menagerie tent came a-tumbling and howling back, and
them that was in the circus tent waiting for the concert (which never
ain't worth waiting for, between you and me!) was a-scrambling off them
seats, making a noise like thunder; and all fighting and pushing and
bellowing to get out! I was there with my wife and making for the seats
that the fools quit, so's to get under and crawl out under the canvas,
when I see Mrs. Ellis holding two of the children, and that fool
girl let the other go and I grabbed it. 'Oh, save the baby! save one,
anyhow,' cries my wife--the woman is a tinder-hearted crechure! And just
then I seen an old lady tumble over on the benches, with her gray hair
stringing out of her black bonnet. The crowd was WILD, hitting and
screaming and not caring for anything, and I see a big jack of a man
come plunging down right spang on that old lady! His foot was right
in the air over her face! Lord, it turned me sick. I yelled. But that
minnit I seen an arm shoot out and that fellow shot off as slick! it was
Mr. Lossing. He parted that crowd, hitting right and left, and he got
up to us and hauled a child from Mrs. Ellis and put it on the seats,
all the while shouting: 'Keep your seats! it's all right! it's all over!
stand back!' I turned and floored a feller that was too pressing, and
hollered it was all right too. And some more people hollered too. You
see, there is just a minnit at such times when it is a toss up whether
folks will quiet down and begin to laugh, or get scared into wild beasts
and crush and kill each other. And Mr. Lossing he caught the minnit!
The circus folks came up and the police, and it was all over. WELL, just
look here, sir; there's our folks coming out of the elevator!"

They were just landing; and Mrs. Ellis wanted to know where he had gone.

"We run away from ye, shure," said Shuey, grinning; and he related the
adventure. Armorer fell back with Mrs. Ellis. "Did you stay with Esther
every minute?" said he. Mrs. Ellis nodded. She opened her lips to
speak, then closed them and walked ahead to Harry Lossing. Armorer
looked--suspicion of a dozen kinds gnawing him and insinuating that the
three all seemed agitated--from Harry to Esther, and then to Shuey. But
he kept his thoughts to himself and was very agreeable the remainder of
the afternoon.

He heard Harry tell Mrs. Ellis that the city council would meet that
evening; before, however, Armorer could feel exultant he added, "but may
I come late?"

"He is certainly the coolest beggar," Armorer snarled, "but he is sharp
as a nigger's razor, confound him!"

Naturally this remark was a confidential one to himself.

He thought it more times than one during the evening, and by consequence
played trumps with equal disregard of the laws of the noble game of
whist and his partner's feelings. He found a few, a very few, elderly
people who remembered his parent, and they will never believe ill of
Horatio Armorer, who talked so simply and with so much feeling of
old times, and who is going to give a memorial window in the new
Presbyterian church. He was beginning to think with some interest of
supper, the usual dinner of the family having been sacrificed to the
demands of state; then he saw Harry Lossing. The young mayor's blond
head was bowing before his sister's black velvet. He caught Armorer's
eye and followed him out to the lawn and the shadows and the gay
lanterns. He looked animated. Evening dress was becoming to him. "One of
my daughters married a prince, but I am hanged if he looked it like this
fellow," thought Armorer; "but then he was only an Italian. I suppose
the council did not pass the ordinance? your committee reported against
it?" he said quite amicably to Harry.

"I wish you could understand how much pain it has given me to oppose
you, Mr. Armorer," said Harry, blushing.

"I don't doubt it, under the circumstances, Mr. Lossing." Armorer spoke
with suave politeness, but there was a cynical gleam in his eye.

"But Esther understands," says Harry.

"Esther!" repeats Armorer, with an indescribable intonation. "You spoke
to her this afternoon? For a man with such high-toned ideas as you
carry, I think you took a pretty mean advantage of your guests!"

"You will remember I gave you fair warning, Mr. Armorer."

"It was while I was in the elevator, of course. I guessed it was a
put-up job; how did you manage it?"

Harry smiled outright; he is one who cannot keep either his dog or his
joke tied up. "It was Shuey did it," said he; "he pulled the opposite
way from you, and he has tremendous strength; but he says you were a
handful for him."

"You seem to have taken the town into your confidence," said Armorer,
bitterly, though he had a sneaking inclination to laugh himself; "do you
need all your workmen to help you court your girl?"

"I'd take the whole United States into my confidence rather than lose
her, sir," answered Harry, steadily.

Armorer turned on his heel abruptly; it was to conceal a smile. "How
about my sister? did you propose before her? But I don't suppose a
little thing like that would stop you."

"I had to speak; Miss Armorer goes away tomorrow. Mrs. Ellis was kind
enough to put her fingers in her ears and turn her back."

"And what did my daughter say?"

"I asked her only to give me the chance to show her how I loved her, and
she has. God bless her! I don't pretend I'm worthy of her, Mr. Armorer,
but I have lived a decent life, and I'll try hard to live a better one
for her trust in me."

"I'm glad there is one thing on which we are agreed," jeered Armorer,
"but you are more modest than you were this noon. I think it was
considerably like bragging, sending that woman to tell of your heroic
feats!"

"Oh, I can brag when it is necessary," said Harry, serenely; "what would
the West be but for bragging?"

"And what do you intend to do if I take your girl to Europe?"

"Europe is not very far," said Harry.

Armorer was a quick thinker, but he had never thought more quickly in
his life. This young fellow had beaten him. There was no doubt of it. He
might have principles, but he declined to let his principles hamper him.
There was something about Harry's waving aside defeat so lightly, and
so swiftly snatching at every chance to forward his will, that accorded
with Armorer's own temperament.

"Tell me, Mr. Armorer," said Harry, suddenly; "in my place wouldn't you
have done the same thing?"

Armorer no longer checked his sense of humor. "No, Mr. Lossing," he
answered, sedately, "I should have respected the old gentleman's wishes
and voted any way he pleased." He held out his hand. "I guess Esther
thinks you are the coming young man of the century; and to be honest,
I like you a great deal better than I expected to this morning. I'm not
cut out for a cruel father, Mr. Lossing; for one thing, I haven't the
time for it; for another thing, I can't bear to have my little girl cry.
I guess I shall have to go to Europe without Esther. Shall we go in to
the ladies now?"

Harry wrung the president's hand, crying that he should never regret his
kindness.

"See that Esther never regrets it, that will be better," said Armorer,
with a touch of real and deep feeling. Then, as Harry sprang up the
steps like a boy, he took out the note-book, and smiling a smile in
which many emotions were blended, he ran a black line through

"_See abt L._"





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Stories of a Western Town" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
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.



Home