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Title: With the Procession
Author: Fuller, Henry Blake, 1857-1929
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 "With the Procession" ***

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HENRY B. FULLER

With

the

Procession


Introduction by Mark Harris



I


When old Mr. Marshall finally took to his bed, the household viewed this
action with more surprise than sympathy, and with more impatience than
surprise. It seemed like the breaking down of a machine whose
trustworthiness had been hitherto infallible; his family were almost
forced to the acknowledgement that he was but a mere human being after
all. They had enjoyed a certain intimacy with him, in lengths varying
with their respective ages, but they had never made a full avowal that
his being rested on any tangible physical basis. Rather had they fallen
into the way of considering him as a disembodied intelligence, whose sole
function was to direct the transmutation of values and credits and
resources and opportunities into the creature comforts demanded by the
state of life unto which it had please Providence to call them; and their
dismay was now such as might occur at the Mint if the great stamp were
suddenly and of its own accord to cease its coinage of double-eagles and
to sink into a silence of supine idleness. His wife and children
acknowledged, indeed, his head and his hands--those it were impossible to
overlook; but his head stopped with the rim of his collar, while his
hands--those long, lean hands, freckled, tufted goldishly between joints
and knuckles--they never followed beyond the plain gilt sleeve-buttons
(marked with a Roman M) which secured the overlapping of his cuffs. No,
poor old David Marshall was like one of the early Tuscan archangels,
whose scattered members are connected by draperies merely, with no
acknowledged organism within; nor were his shining qualities fully
recognized until the resolutions passed by the Association of Wholesale
Grocers reached the hands of his bereaved----

But this is no way to begin.

       *       *       *       *       *

The grimy lattice-work of the drawbridge swung to slowly, the steam-tug
blackened the dull air and roiled the turbid water as it dragged its
schooner on towards the lumber-yards of the South Branch, and a long line
of waiting vehicles took up their interrupted course through the smoke
and the stench as they filed across the stream into the thick of business
beyond: first a yellow street-car; then a robust truck laden with
rattling sheet-iron, or piled high with fresh wooden pails and willow
baskets; then a junk-cart bearing a pair of dwarfed and bearded Poles,
who bumped in unison with the jars of its clattering springs; then,
perhaps, a bespattered buggy, with reins jerked by a pair of sinewy and
impatient hands. Then more street-cars; then a butcher's cart loaded with
the carcasses of calves--red, black, piebald--or an express wagon with a
yellow cur yelping from its rear; then, it may be, an insolently
venturesome landau, with crested panel and top-booted coachman. Then
drays and omnibuses and more street-cars; then, presently, somewhere in
the line, between the tail end of one truck and the menacing tongue of
another, a family carry-all--a carry-all loaded with its family, driven
by a man of all work, drawn by a slight and amiable old mare, and
encumbered with luggage which shows the labels of half the hotels of
Europe.

It is a very capable and comprehensive vehicle, as conveyances of that
kind go. It is not new, it is not precisely in the mode; but it shows
material and workmanship of the best grade, and it is washed, oiled,
polished with scrupulous care. It advances with some deliberation, and
one might fancy hearing in the rattle of its tires, or in the suppressed
flapping of its rear curtain, a word of plaintive protest. "I am not of
the great world," it seems to say; "I make no pretence to fashion. We
are steady and solid, but we are not precisely in society, and we are
far, very far indeed, from any attempt to cut a great figure. However, do
not misunderstand our position; it is not that we are under, nor that we
are exactly aside; perhaps we have been left just a little behind. Yes,
that might express it--just a little behind."

How are they to catch up again--how rejoin the great caravan whose fast
and furious pace never ceases, never slackens? Not, assuredly, by the
help of the little sorrel mare, whose white mane swings so mildly, and
whose pale eyelashes droop so diffidently when some official hand at a
crowded crossing brings her to a temporary stand-still. Not by the help
of the coachman, who wears a sack-coat and a derby hat, and whose frank,
good-natured face turns about occasionally for a friendly participation
in the talk that is going on behind. Can it be, then, that any hopes for
an accelerated movement are packed away in the bulging portmanteau which
rests squeezed in between the coachman's legs? Two stout straps keep it
from bursting, and the crinkled brown leather of its sides is completely
pasted over with the mementoes used by the hosts of the Old World to
speed the parting guest. "London" and "Paris" shine in the lustre of the
last fortnight; "Tangier" is distinctly visible; "Buda-Pest" may be
readily inferred despite the overlapping labels of "Wien" and "Bâle";
while away off to one corner a crumpled and lingering shred points back,
though uncertainly, to the Parthenon and the Acropolis. And in the midst
of this flowery field is planted a large M after the best style of the
White Star Line.

Who has come home bearing all these sheaves?

Is it, to begin with, the young girl who shares the front seat with the
driver, and who faces with an innocent unconcern all the clamor and evil
of a great city? There is a half-smile on her red lips, and her black
eyes sparkle with a girlish gayety--for she does not know how bad the
world is. At the same time her chin advances confidently, and her dark
eyebrows contract with a certain soft imperiousness--for she does not
know how hard the world is nor how unyielding. Sometimes she withdraws
her glance from the jostling throng to study the untidy and overlapping
labels on the big portmanteau; she betrays a certain curiosity, but she
shows at the same time a full determination not to seem over-impressed.
No, the returned traveller is not Rosy Marshall; all that _she_ knows of
life she has learned from the broadcast cheapness of English
story-tellers and from a short year's schooling in New York.

Is it, then, the older girl who fills half of the rear seat and who, as
the cruel phrase goes, will never see thirty again? She seems to be tall
and lean, and one divines, somehow, that her back is narrow and of a
slab-like flatness. Her forehead is high and full, and its bulging
outlines are but slightly softened by a thin and dishevelled bang. Her
eyes are of a light and faded blue, and have the peculiar stare which
results from over-full eyeballs when completely bordered by white. Her
long fingers show knotted joints and nails that seem hopelessly plebeian;
sometimes she draws on open-work lace mitts, and then her hands appear to
be embroiling each other in a mutual tragedy. No, poor Jane is
thoroughly, incorruptibly indigenous; she is the best and dearest girl in
half the world, as you shall see; but all her experiences have lain
between Sandusky and Omaha.

Perhaps, then, the returned traveller is the elderly woman seated by her
side. Perhaps--and perhaps not. For she seems a bit too dry and sapless
and self-contained--as little susceptible, in fact, to the gentle dews of
travel as an umbrella in a waterproof case. Moreover, it is doubtful if
her bonnet would pass current beyond the national confines. One surmises
that she became years ago the victim of arrested development; that she
is a kind of antiquated villager--a geologic survival from an earlier
age; that she is a house-keeper cumbered and encompassed by minute cares
largely of her own making. It is an easy guess that, for Eliza Marshall,
London is in another world, that Tangier is but a remote and
impracticable abstraction, and that all her strength and fortitude might
be necessary merely to make the trip to Peoria.

There is but one other occupant of the carriage remaining--the only one,
after all, who can or could be the owner of the baggage. He is a young
man of twenty-three, and he sits with his back to the horse on a little
seat which has been let down for the occasion between the usual two; his
knees crowd one of the girls and his elbows the other. He seems
uncommonly alert and genial; he focusses brilliantly the entire attention
of the party. His little black mustache flaunts with a picturesque
upward flourish, and it is supplemented by a small tuft at the edge of
his underlip--an embellishment which overlays any slight trace of
lingering juvenility with an effect which is most knowing, experienced,
caprine, if you like, and which makes fair amends for the blanched
cheeks, wrinkled brows and haggard eyes that the years have yet to
accomplish for him. A navy-blue tie sprinkled with white interlacing
circles spreads loosely and carelessly over the lapels of his coat; and
while his clever eyes dart intelligently from one side to the other of
the crowded thoroughfare, his admiring family make their own shy
observations upon his altered physiognomy and his novel apparel--upon
his shoes and his hat particularly; they become acquainted thus with the
Florentine ideal of foot-wear, and the latest thing evolved by Paris in
the way of head-gear.

This young man has passed back through London quite unscathed. Deduce
from his costume the independence of his character and the precise slant
of his propensities.

The carriage moves on, with a halt here, a spurt there, and many a jar
and jolt between; and Truesdale Marshall throws over the shifting and
resounding panorama an eye freshened by a four years' absence and
informed by the contemplation of many strange and diverse spectacles.
Presently a hundred yards of unimpeded travel ends in a blockade of
trucks and street-cars and a smart fusillade of invective. During this
enforced stoppage the young man becomes conscious of a vast unfinished
structure that towers gauntly overhead through the darkening and
thickening air, and for which a litter of iron beams in the roadway
itself seems to promise an indefinite continuation skyward.

"Two, three, four--six, seven--nine," he says, craning his neck and
casting up his eye. Then, turning with a jocular air to the elder lady
opposite, "I don't suppose that Marshall & Belden, for instance, have got
up to nine stories yet!"

"Marshall & Belden!" she repeated. Her enunciation was strikingly
ejaculatory, and she laid an impatient and unforgiving emphasis upon the
latter name. "I don't know what will happen if your father doesn't assert
himself pretty soon."

"I should think as much!" observed the elder girl, explosively; "or they
will never get up even to seven. The idea of Mr. Belden's proposing to
enlarge by taking that ground adjoining! But of course poor pa didn't put
up the building himself, nor anything; oh no! So _he_ doesn't know
whether the walls will stand a couple of extra stories or not. Upon my
word," she went on with increased warmth, "I don't feel quite sure
whether pa was the one to start the business in the first place and to
keep it going along ever since, or whether he's just a new errand-boy,
who began there a week ago! August, are we stuck here to stay forever?"

The little sorrel mare started up again and entered upon another stage of
her journey. The first lights began to appear in the store-fronts; the
newsboys were shrieking the last editions of the evening papers; the
frenzied comedy of belated shopping commenced to manifest itself upon the
pavements.

The throng of jostling women was especially thick and eager before a vast
and vulgar front whose base was heaped with cheap truck cheaply ticketed,
and whose long row of third-story windows was obscured by a great reach
of cotton cloth tacked to a flimsy wooden frame. Unprecedented bargains
were offered in gigantic letters by the new proprietors, "Eisendrath &
Heide..."--the rest of the name flapped loosely in the wind.

"Alas, poor Wethersby, I knew him well," observed Marshall, absently. He
cast a pensive eye upon the still-remaining name of the former
proprietor, and took off his hat to weigh it in his hands with a pretence
of deep speculation. "Well, the Philistines haven't got hold of _us_ yet,
have they?" he remarked, genially; he had not spent six months in Vienna
for nothing. "I suppose we are still worth twenty sous in the franc, eh?"

"I suppose," replied his mother, with a grim brevity. She rather groped
for his meaning, but she was perfectly certain of her own.

"I guess pa's all right," declared his sister, "as long as he is left
alone and not interfered with."

The evening lights doubled and trebled--long rows of them appeared
overhead at incalculable altitudes. The gongs of the cable cars clanged
more and more imperiously as the crowds surged in great numbers round
grip and trailer. The night life of the town began to bestir itself, and
little Rosy, from her conspicuous place, beamed with a bright intentness
upon its motley spectacle, careless of where her smiles might fall. For
her the immodest theatrical poster drooped in the windows of saloons, or
caught a transient hold upon the hoardings of uncompleted buildings;
brazen blare and gaudy placards (disgusting rather than indecent) invited
the passer-by into cheap museums and music-halls; all the unclassifiable
riff-raff that is spawned by a great city leered from corners, or
slouched along the edge of the gutters, or stood in dark doorways, or
sold impossible rubbish in impossible dialects wherever the public
indulgence permitted a foothold.

To Rosy's mother all this involved no impropriety. Eliza Marshall's
Chicago was the Chicago of 1860, an Arcadia which, in some dim and
inexplicable way, had remained for her an Arcadia still--bigger, noisier,
richer, yet different only in degree, and not essentially in kind. She
herself had traversed these same streets in the days when they were the
streets of a mere town, Fane, accompanying her mother's courses as a
child, had seen the town develop into a city. And now Rosy followed in
her turn, though the _urbs in horto_ of the earlier time existed only
in the memory of "old settlers" and in the device of the municipal
seal, while the great Black City stood out as a threatening and evil
actuality. Mild old Mabel had drawn them all in turn or together, and had
philosophized upon the facts as little as any of them; but Rosy's brother
(who had been about, and who knew more than he was ever likely to tell)
looked round at her now and then with a vague discomfort.

"There!" called their mother, suddenly; "did you see that?" A big lumpish
figure on the crossing had loomed up at the mare's head, a rough hand had
seized her bridle, and a raw voice with a rawer brogue had vented a piece
of impassioned profanity on both beast and driver. "Well, I don't thank
that policeman for hitting Mabel on the nose, I can tell him. August,
did you get his number?"

"No'm," answered the coachman. He turned round familiarly. "I got his
breath."

"I should think so," said Truesdale. "And such shoes as they have, and
such hands, and such linen! Didn't that fellow see what we were? Couldn't
he realize that we pay for the buttons on his coat? Mightn't he have
tried to apprehend that we were people of position here long before he
had scraped his wretched steerage-money together? And what was it he had
working in his cheek?"

"I think I know," responded August mumbling.

"Like enough," rejoined Truesdale, with his eye upon the coachman's own
jaw.

His mother's sputter of indignation died rapidly away. It was, indeed,
her notion that the guardians of the public peace should show some degree
of sobriety, respect, neatness, and self-control, as well as a reasonable
familiarity with the accents of the country; but her Arcadia was full of
painful discrepancies, and she did not add to her own pain by too serious
an attempt to reconcile them. Besides, what is a policeman compared with
a detective?

Mabel, released from the arm of the law, jarred over another line of car
tracks, whereon a long row of monsters glared at one another's slow
advances with a single great red eye, and then she struck a freer gait on
the succeeding stretch of Belgian blocks. Presently she passed a lofty
building which rose in colonnades one above another, but whose walls were
stained with smoke, whose windows were half full of shattered panes,
and whose fraudulent metallic cornice curled over limply and jarred and
jangled in the evening breeze--one more of the vicissitudes of mercantile
life.

"Well, I'm glad the fire-fiend hasn't got Marshall & Co. yet," said the
young man, restored to good-humor by the sight of another's misfortune.
He used unconsciously the old firm name.

"But he'd get us fast enough if the insurance was taken off," declared
Jane. "Do you know, Dicky," she went on, "how much that item costs us a
year? Or have you any idea how much it has amounted to in the last
twenty, without our ever getting one cent back? Well, there's ten
thousand in the Hartford and eight in the Monongahela and eleven in--"

"Dear me, Jane!" exclaimed her brother, in some surprise; "where do you
pick up all this?"

Rosy turned her head half round. "Mr. Brower tells her," she said, with a
disdainful brevity.

Her face was indistinct in the twilight, but if its expression
corresponded with the inflection of her voice, her nostrils were inflated
and her lips were curled in disparagement. To Jane, in her dark corner of
the carriage, this was patent enough. Indeed, it was sufficiently obvious
to all that Jane's years availed little to save her from the searching
criticism of her younger sister, and that Miss Rosamund Marshall bestowed
but slight esteem--or, at least, but slight approval--upon Mr. Theodore
Brower.

"Supposing he _does_ tell me!" called Jane, absurdly allowing herself to
be put on the defensive. "It's a mighty good thing, I take it. If there's
anybody else in the family but me who knows or cares anything about poor
pa's business, I should like to be told who it is!"

"That will do, Jane," sounded her mother's voice in cold correction.
"There's no need for you to talk so. Your father has run his own business
now for thirty-five years, with every year better than the year before,
and I imagine he knows how to look out for himself. Thank goodness, we
are on a respectable pavement once more."

Mabel, turning a sudden corner, had given them a quick transition from
the rattle and jar of granite to the gentle palpitation that is possible
on well-packed macadam. The carriage passed in review a series of
towering and glittering hotels, told off a score or more of residences of
the elder day, and presently drew up before the gate of an antiquated
homestead in the neighborhood of the Panoramas.

"Just the same old place," murmured Truesdale, as he writhed out of his
cramped quarters and stood on the carriage-block in the dusk to stretch
his legs. "Wonderful how we contrive to stand stock-still in the midst of
all this stir and change!"



II


It was at Vevey, one morning late in August, that Truesdale Marshall
received the letter which turned his face homeward--the summons which
made it seem obligatory for him to report at headquarters, as he phrased
it, without too great a delay. He was pacing along the terrace which
bounded the pension garden lakeward, and his eye wandered back and forth
between the superscription of the envelope and the distant mountain-shore
of Savoy, as it appeared through the tantalizing line of clipped acacias
which bordered the roadway that ran below him.

"'Richard T. Marshall, Esq.,'" he read, slowly, with his eye on the
accumulation of post-marks and renewed addresses. "They keep it up right
along, don't they? I can't make them feel that initials on an envelope
are not the best form. I can't bring them to see that 'Esq.' on foreign
letters is worse than a superfluity." He referred once more to the
mountains of Savoy; they seemed to offer no loophole of escape. "Well,
I've got to do it, I suppose."

He made some brief calculations, and found that he could put himself in
marching order within a month or so. There was the trunk stored at
Geneva; there was that roomful of furniture at
Freiburg--Freiburg-im-Breisgau; there was that brace of paintings boxed
up in Florence; and there were the frayed and loosely flying ends of
many miscellaneous friendships.

"I should think the end of October might do for them," he droned,
reflectively. "They can't mean to cut me off any shorter than that."

He saw the steamer taking on passengers between the two rotund
chestnut-trees that adorned the end of the stubby little stone pier.
Voices of shrieking gladness came across from the coffee-tables on the
terrace of the Three Crowns, his nearest neighbor to the right.

"Well, America is meeting me half way," he said; "I don't want to seem
reluctant myself. Suppose we make it Southampton, about October 15th?"

Truesdale Marshall had been away from home and friends for about the
length of time ordinarily required by a course through college, but it
was not at college that most of this period had been passed. He had left
Yale at the end of his sophomore year, and had taken passage, not for
Chicago, but for Liverpool, compromising thus his full claims on nurture
from an alma mater for the more alluring prospect of culture and
adventure on the Continent. This supplementary course of self-improvement
and self-entertainment had now continued for three years.

He had written back to his family at discreet intervals, his
communications not being altogether untinctured, it is true, by
considerations of a financial nature; and his sister Jane, who charged
herself with the preservation of this correspondence, would have
undertaken to reconstruct his route and to make a full report of his
movements up to date on ten minutes' notice. She kept his letters in a
large box-file that she had teased from her father at the store; and two
or three times a year she overhauled her previous entries, so to speak,
and added whatever new ones were necessary to bring her books down to the
present day.

She pleased herself, on the occasion of such reviews, with the thought
that her brother's long absence was so largely and so laboriously
educational. There, for example, was his winter and spring at Heidelberg,
which she figured as given over to Kant and Hegel. This sojourn was
attested by a photograph which showed her brother in a preposterous
little round cap, as well as with a bar of sticking-plaster (not markedly
philosophical, it must be confessed) upon one cheek.

Again, there was his six months' stay in Paris, during which time he had
dabbled in pigments at one of the studios affected by Americans. Her
vouchers for this period consisted of several water-colors; they were
done in a violent and slap-dash fashion, and had been inspired,
apparently, by scenes in the environs of the capital. They were marked
"Meudon" and "St. Cloud" and "Suresnes," with the dates; both names and
dates were put where they showed up very prominently. Jane was rather
overcome by these sketches on a first view, and after she had pinned them
up on the walls of her bedroom (she had made no scruple over an immediate
individual appropriation) she was obliged to acknowledge that you had to
step back some little distance in order to "get them."

Then there was his year at Milan, during which he was engaged in the
cultivation of his voice at the Conservatory. "A whole year," said
innocent Jane to herself; "think of Dick's staying in one place as long
as that!" She made no account of the easily accessible joys of Monte
Carlo, but figured him, instead, as running interminable scales at all
hours of day and night, and as participating, now and then, in the chorus
at the Scala, for which purpose, as he wrote her, he had had a pair
of tights made to order. In another letter he sent her a pen-and-ink
sketch of himself as he appeared while studying the last act of
"Favorita." He explained that the large looking-glasses surrounding him
were designed to give the disillusioned Fernando opportunity to see
whether his facial expression was corresponding to the nature of the
music he was interpreting.

All this completely overpowered poor Jane; it enveloped her brother's
head in a roseate halo; it wrapped him in the sweet and voluminous folds
of a never-failing incense; it imparted a warm glow to his coolish summer
in the Engadine, and it illumined his archaeological prowlings through
the Peloponnesus; it opened up a dozen diverging vistas to the
enthusiastic girl herself, and advanced her rapidly in long courses of
expansion and improvement. Above all, it filled her with a raging
impatience for his return. "Between him and me," she would say to
herself, "something _may_ be done. Pa'll never do anything to get us out
of this rut; nor ma. Neither will Roger nor Alice. And Rosy--well, Rosy's
too young to count on, yet. But Richard Truesdale Marshall, the younger
son of the well-known David Marshall, of Lake Street, recently returned
from a long course of travel and study abroad"--she seemed to be quoting
from the printed column--"_can_. Especially when assisted by his sister,
the clever and intellectual Miss Jane Marshall, who--"

"Oh, bother this bang!" exclaimed Miss Jane Marshall, pettishly. She
threw her comb down between pin-cushion and cologne bottle, and flattened
a frowning and protesting glance against her mirror. "I guess I'll give
up trying to be beautiful, and just be quaint."

David Marshall received his son with less exaltation. He had a vivid
recollection of the liberal letter of credit which had started the young
man on his way, and this recollection had subsequently been touched up
and heightened by the payment of many drafts for varying but considerable
amounts; and he was now concerning himself with the practical question,
What have I got for my money? He felt his own share in the evolution
of this brilliant and cultured youth, whose corona of accomplishments
might well dazzle and even abash a plain business person; and he awaited
with interest a response to the reasonable interrogation, to what end
shall all these means be turned? He received his son with a dry and
cautious kindness, determined not to be too precipitate in ascertaining
the young man's ideas as to the future--a week more or less could make no
great difference now.

David Marshall was a tall, spare man whose slow composure of carriage
invested him with a sort of homely dignity. He wore a reddish beard, now
largely touched with white--a mixture whose effect prompted the
suggestion that his grandfather might have been a Scotchman; and the look
from his blue eyes (though now no longer at their brightest) convinced
you that his sight was competent to cover the field of vision to which he
had elected to restrict himself. He seemed completely serious, to have
been so always, to have been born half grown up, to have been dowered at
the start with too keen a consciousness of the burdens and
responsibilities of life. Coltishness, even by a retrospect of fifty
years, it was impossible to attribute to him. You imagined him as having
been caught early, broken to harness at once, and kept between the shafts
ever since. It was easy to figure him as backing into position with a
sweet and reasonable docility--a docility which saw no other course or
career for a properly minded young horse, and which looked upon the
juvenile antics of others in the herd as an unintelligible and rather
reprehensible procedure. He knew what he was for, and his way was before
him.

He had acted on his knowledge, and now, at sixty, he seemed still to be
travelling over the same long straight road, blinders at his eyes, a high
wall on either side, no particular goal in the dusty distance, and an air
of patient, self-approving resignation all about him. His burden, too,
had increased with the years--just as his rut had grown deeper. Counting
his family and his poor relations, and his employés and _their_ families
and poor relations, five or six hundred people were dependent on him.
Many of these, of course, had seats so low that they were almost choked
by the dust of the roadway; but others, more pleasantly situated, were
able to overlook the enclosing walls and to enjoy the prospect beyond.
Among these last was his younger son, who sat in the highest place of
all, and thence surveyed the universe.

The Marshall house had been built at the time of the opening of the War,
and as far "out" as seemed advisable for a residence of the better sort.
In those days no definite building-line had been established, so that it
was quite a walk from the front gate to the foot of the front steps.
Neither, at that time, was ground too valuable to make a good bit of yard
impracticable--so that the house had plenty of space on all sides. It was
a low, plain, roomy building with a sort of belvedere and a porch or two.
The belvedere was lingeringly reminiscent of the vanishing classic, and
the decorative woodwork of the porches showed some faint traces of the
romantico-lackadaisical style which filled up the years between the ebb
of the Greek and the vulgar flood-tide of Second-empire renaissance.
Taken altogether, a sedate, stable, decorous old homestead, fit for the
family within it.

In the back yard, behind a latticed screen-work, some shrubs and bushes
survived from a garden once luxuriant, but now almost vanished. There had
been a cherry-tree, too--a valiant little grower, which put forth a cloud
of white blossoms late in every May, and filled a small pail with fruit
early in every July. It was thus that Jane was enabled to celebrate her
birthday (which fell about this time of year) with a fair-sized cherry
pie; and in especially favorable seasons enough cherries were left over
to make a small tart for Rosy.

But the atmosphere had years ago become too urban for the poor
cherry-tree, which had long since disappeared from mortal ken; and the
last of the currant-bushes, too, were holding their own but poorly
against the smoke and cinders of metropolitan life. One of Jane's
earliest recollections was that of putting on her flat and taking her tin
pan and accompanying her mother out to pick currants for the annual
jelly-making. Her mother wore a flat, too, and carried a tin pan--both of
proportionate size. The flats had long since been cast aside, and the
pans had become less necessary with the dwindling of the currant-bushes;
but the jelly-making returned with every recurring July. A great many
quarts of alien currants and a great many pounds of white sugar were
fused in that hot and sticky kitchen, and then the red-stained cloths
were hung to dry upon the last remaining bushes. Jane would sometimes
reproach her parent with such a proceeding--which seemed to her hardly
less reprehensible than the seething of a kid in its mother's milk; but
Eliza Marshall had scant receptivity for any such poetical analogies. The
cloths, as seen through the lattice-work, had a somewhat sensational
aspect; they spoke of battle and murder and sudden death, and sometimes
the policeman passing by, if he was a new one, thought for a second that
he had stumbled on a "clew."

Eliza Marshall took this risk quite willingly; the idea of buying her
jelly ready-made never crossed her mind. No; she made her own year after
year, and poured it out into her little glass tumblers, and sealed each
tumbler with a half-sheet of notepaper, and marked each sheet according
to the sort of jelly it protected--sometimes she made grape or
crab-apple, too. She doled out her products very economically during the
winter and spring. Then she would discover, about the first of June,
that she had a three months' supply still on hand. Then, during the
summer, the family would live on jelly and little else.

But she remained, year after year, the same firm, determined, peremptory
person in her kitchen; she never spared herself there, and she never
spared anybody else.

She gave no more quarter at the front of the house than at the back. To
get fresh air into her dim and time-worn parlor and to keep sun and dust
and smoke out--this was her one besetting problem. There were those windy
days at the end of autumn, after the sprinkling-carts had been withdrawn
from the boulevard; there were the days (about three hundred and
sixty-five in the year) when the smoke and cinders from the suburban
trains made her house as untidy as a switch-yard; and there was her
husband's unconquerable propensity for smoking--a pleasure which she
compelled him to take outside on the foot pavement. Here, on pleasant
evenings, he would walk up and down alone, in a slow, meditative
fashion--having little to say and nobody to say it to--until bedtime
came.

This came early--from a habit early formed. The Chicago of his young
married life had given him little reason for being abroad after half-past
nine at night, and he appeared to find little more reason now than then.
It would not, indeed, have been impossible to make him see that, in the
interval, balls, concerts, spectacles, and such-like urban doings had
come on with increasing number and brilliancy, and that there were now
more interests to justify a man in remaining up until half-past ten, or
even until eleven. But you could not have convinced him that all these
opportunities were his.

Yet the consciousness of festivities sometimes obtruded upon his
indifference. Now and then on summer evenings, when the wind was from the
west, certain brazen discords originating a street or two behind the
house would come to advise him that the Circassian girl was on view, or
that a convention of lady snake-charmers was in session. Then there would
be weeks of winter nights when the frozen macadam in front of the house
would ring with a thousand prancing hoofs and rumble for an hour with a
steady flow of carriages, and the walls of the great temple of music a
few hundred yards to the north would throw back all this clamor, with the
added notes of slamming doors and shouted numbers and epic struggles
between angry drivers and determined policemen; sometimes he would extend
his smoking stroll far enough to skirt the edge of all this Babel. Then,
towards midnight, long after all staid and sensible people were abed, the
flood would roll back, faster yet under the quiet moon, louder yet
through the frosty air. But he never met the Circassian beauty, and he
would have found "l'Africaine," for example, both tedious and
unreasonable. To him each of these publics was new, and no less new than
alien. Besides, it would have seemed an uncanny thing to be abroad and
stirring at midnight.

Why did he go to bed at half-past nine? In order that he might be at the
store by half-past seven. Why must he be at the store by half-past seven?
Because a very large area to the west and northwest of the town looked to
him for supplies of teas, coffees, spices, flour, sugar, baking-powder;
because he had always been accustomed to furnish these supplies; because
it was the only thing he wanted to do; because it was the only thing he
could do; because it was the only thing he was pleased and proud to do;
because it was the sole thing which enabled him to look upon himself as a
useful, stable, honored member of society.

But it need not be supposed that the Marshalls in their young married
days had lived totally bereft of social diversion. Quite the contrary.
They had had tea-parties and card-parties now and then, and more than
once they had thrown their house open for a church sociable. But the day
came when the church jumped from its old site three blocks away to a new
site three miles away. And by that time most of their old neighbors and
fellow church-members had gone too--some southward, some northward, some
heavenward. Then business, in the guise of big hotels, began marching
down the street upon them, and business in all manner of guise ran up
towering walls behind them that shut off the summer sun hours before it
was due to sink; and traffic rang incessant gongs at their back door, and
drew lengthening lines of freight-cars across the lake view from their
front one; and Sunday crowds strolled and sprawled over the wide green
between the roadway and the waterway, and tramps and beggars and peddlers
advanced daily in a steady and disconcerting phalanx, and bolts and bars
and chains and gratings and eternal vigilance were all required to keep
mine from becoming thine; until, in the year of grace 1893, the Marshalls
had almost come to realize that they were living solitary and in a state
of siege. But they had never yet thought of capitulation nor of retreat;
they were the Old Guard; they were not going to surrender, nor to die
either.

As the advance guard of all, old David Marshall frequently occupied the
most advanced bastion of all, the parlor bay-window. Here, in the
half-dark, he was accustomed to sit and think; and his family let him sit
and think, unconscious that it would sometimes be a kindness to break in
upon the habit. He pondered on the markets and on the movements of trade;
he kept one eye for the shabby wayfarers who threw a longing look upon
his basement gratings, and another for the showers of sparks and black
plumes of smoke which came to remind him of corporate encroachments upon
municipal rights. And here one evening he sat, some few days after his
son's return, while a hubbub of female voices came to him from the next
room. His sister-in-law from three miles down the street, and his married
daughter from ten miles out in the suburbs, had come to show some
civility to the returned traveller, and the conjunction of two such stars
was not to be effected in silence. Nor was silence to be secured even by
a retreat from one room to another.

"Well, pa, you _are_ here, sure enough." A hand pulled aside the curtain
and made the bay-window a part of the parlor again. "Poking off by
yourself, and thinking--I know. When I've told you so many times not to."

It was Jane. It was her office to keep the family from disintegration.
None of them realized it--hardly she herself.

She perched on the arm of his big chair, placed her hand on his forehead,
and looked in his face with a quizzical pretence of impatience. These
little passages sometimes occurred in the bay-window--hardly anywhere
else.

"Well, what is it this time?" she asked. Her intention was
tender, but her voice issued with a kind of explosive grate--the
natural product of vocal cords racked by the lake winds of thirty springs
and wrecked by a thousand sudden and violent transitions from heat to
cold and back again. "Not Mr. Belden, I hope?"

"No, Jennie. That will come out all right, I expect. We had a talk with
the builder about it today."

He looked at her with a kind of wan and patient smile. His own voice was
dry, husky, sibilant--sixty years of Lake Michigan.

She smiled back at his "Jennie"; that was always her name on such
occasions. "It isn't about Oolong?" she asked, in burlesque anxiety.

"No."

"Well, then, is it the--Sisters?"

"Not the Sisters. They were in last week."

"Guess again, then," said Jane, perseveringly. "Is it--is it the
Benevolent Policemen?"

"No, not the Policemen. They won't be around for a month yet."

Her hand dropped to his shoulder and her eyes searched his. To another
they might have seemed staring; to him they were only intent. "Poor pa;
he's like a ten-pin standing at the end of the alley, isn't he? They all
take a turn at him, don't they?"

"I'm afraid that's about it, Jennie." He smiled rather wanly again and
smoothed her hand with his own.

"Well, what else is there?" pondered Jane. "Is it the Afro-American
bishop raising the mortgage on their chapel?"

"No. I guess the Afro-Americans have about paid things off by this time."

"How lonesome they must leave you? H'm! is it the Michigan Avenue
Property Owners assessing you again to fight the choo-choo cars?"

Her father shook his head and almost laughed.

"Is it The Wives of the Presidents'? Is it 'The Mothers of Great Men'?"

"What a girl!" he said, and laughed aloud. It seemed as if he wanted to
laugh.

She eyed him narrowly. "There's only one thing more I can think of," she
declared, screwing up her mouth and her eyes. "But I sha'n't ask you
that--it's too silly. If I imagined for a moment that you could be
thinking about old Mother Van Horn--"

She paused. Her father cast down his eyes half guiltily.

"Don't say you are, pa. That would be too absurd. You, with all the
important things you have to carry in your head, to waste a minute on
that frowzy old hag! It isn't worth it; it's nonsense."

"I don't know whether it is or not," responded her father, slowly. He
passed a careful hand through the fringe of the chair. "That's what I'd
like to find out."

"Oh, fiddlesticks!" rejoined Jane. "You sha'n't sit poking here in the
dark and thinking of any such thing as that--not another minute. Come in
and hear Dick tell how those students in Paris tied him to the wall and
daubed him all red and green, and what he did to get even. _That's_ worth
while. And you haven't seen Aunt Lyddy yet, have you? So is _that_--isn't
it? Then come along, do."



III


  "'When I was a student at Cadiz
   I played on the Spanish guitar;
 I used to make love to the ladies'--"


This brief snatch of song ended with the obvious and, indeed, inevitable
rhyme for "Cadiz," and the singer completed the stanza by throwing an
arch and rather insinuating glance at the young man who was lounging
negligently on the chair beside her own. She herself leaned back rather
negligently too, with her feet crossed; her elbows were crooked at
varying angles, her fingers pressed imaginary frets or plucked at
imaginary strings, and the spectator was supposed to be viewing an
Andalusian grace and passion abandoned to the soft yet compelling power
of music.

It was thus that Truesdale Marshall was welcomed home by his aunt Lydia.

His aunt Lydia--Mrs. Lydia Rhodes--was a plump and vivacious little
brunette of forty, with a gloss on her black hair and a sparkle in her
black eyes. She still retained a good deal of the superabundant vitality
of youth; in her own house, when the curtains were down and the company
not too miscellaneous, she was sometimes equal to a break-down or a
cake-walk. She was impelled by social aspirations of the highest nature,
and was always lamenting, therefore, that she possessed so little
dignity. She was a warm-hearted, impulsive creature, who believed
in living while on earth, and she was willing enough to believe that
others would live too, so far as opportunity offered. It seemed to
Truesdale, just now, as if she might be engaged in a mental review of his
probable experiences abroad--there, certainly, was an opportunity
offered.

"But now that you are back again we expect you to settle down and be
good--a useful member of society, you know." She threw a coquettish smile
on the young man and banished the imaginary guitar.

"Oh, really--" began Truesdale, with a flush and a frown. He glanced over
his shoulder; his mother and sisters were in animated converse on the
other side of the room.

"Yes," his aunt proceeded; "you are old enough to think about marrying.
You don't know how pleasant it would be to have a nice little home of
your own, and your own little wifey to meet you every evening with a
kiss!"

"Dear, dear!" thought Truesdale to himself; "and now she's singing that
song to _me_!" He remembered these familiar strains; they had been
directed many a time and oft to the ear of his brother Roger. Year by
year their plaintive poignancy had grown more acute, along with Roger's
strengthening determination to remain a bachelor.

Truesdale found himself wondering whether his aunt's intense allegiance
to the idea of married life was the sincere expression of a nature
overflowingly affectionate, or a species of sensitive dissimulation
cloaking a disappointment which, by this time, might well have come to be
numbered among the bygones. For it was now six years since Alfred Rhodes,
the gay, the genial, had died. He had cost his wife many anxious moments
and a few sleepless nights. He had left her a moderate fortune, an ample
freedom, and a boy of eight. She had increased her freedom by sending the
boy off to an Eastern school. He visited Eastern relatives during
vacation time, and was doomed to a longer course of knickerbockers than
it would have pleased him to forecast. His mother's heart still
palpitated youthfully; she showed herself in no haste to take her stand
in the ranks of the elder generation.

"Yes," Mrs. Rhodes proceeded, "you must get into business, and then we
shall have to find some nice girl for you."

"The same thoughtful Aunt Lydia," he observed, ironically. He gave his
mustache an upward screw, then dropped his eyes to his knees and his
fingers to the rungs of his chair. His design seemed to be to figure a
slave shrinking on the auction-block. "Do you mean to say you haven't got
one for me already?" He ignored the business side of her proposal.

"Well, you needn't put it _that_ way," she rejoined. "You know perfectly
well that I am not a match-maker, nor anything like it. And it wouldn't
please me at all to have anybody say so of me or to think of me in that
way." She was quite sincere in all this.

Truesdale, however, held the opposite view, and, considering all the
circumstances, liked his aunt none the less. She _was_ a match-maker--a
very keen and persistent one; but he felt that her excesses in this
direction were to be viewed simply as an acknowledgement to fortune for
having guided her own courses to such advantage. She had come out from
Trenton some eighteen years before with a pretty face, a light wardrobe,
a limited purse, and an invitation (extended by a benevolent aunt) to
remain as long as she liked. She had never gone back. She met Alfred
Rhodes, Eliza Marshall's younger brother; and from the slight foothold
offered by her kindly relative she had advanced to an ample fortune and a
complete freedom. She was grateful for all this, and gratitude took the
form of her extending, in turn, unlimited invitations to other girls with
pretty faces, light purses, and limited wardrobes. She almost always had
some comely niece or younger cousin in the house. She drove with them,
she shopped with them, she gave teas and receptions for them. She
summoned young men in numbers; she had her billiard-table re-covered; she
could always produce sherry and cigars when really put to it; she almost
transformed her home into a club-house. "For," said she, "I can never
forget how kind Aunt Marcia was to _me_!"

Such wide-spread beneficence as this had not, of course, excluded her
sister-in-law's daughters. It was really to her aunt Lydia that Rosamund
Marshall was indebted for her year at the New York school; her mother had
unquestioningly accepted Mrs. Rhodes's declaration that the institution
was eminently fashionable and desirable, and her father had committed her
with the greatest confidence and good-will to the conductor of the
east-bound Lake Shore express. And it was to her aunt that the girl was
now looking, after an obscure and wistful fashion, for an introduction
into society, in which, according to the belief of the family, Mrs.
Rhodes occupied a secure and brilliant position. Rosamund had been
revolving matters in her pretty and self-willed little head, and in her
proud and self-willed little heart she had decided upon a formal début.

Her mother was completely nonplussed; she would as soon have wrestled
with the differential calculus. "Why, dear me," she stammered, "there's
Alice; she never came out, and I don't see but what she's got along all
right: good home, nice husband, and everything she wants. And Jane,
now--"

"Oh, _Jane_!" said Rosy, in disdain.

Then she sulked, and reproached her mother with the flat and unprofitable
summer that had followed her return from school, and asked pointedly if
the coming winter was to be like it. "Ha!" exclaimed the poor woman to
herself; "Lyddy is to blame for this; I wish she had never mentioned New
York!" But the year at school was only a remoter cause; the more
immediate one was a pink tea which Rosamund had attended (casually, as it
were, and quite informally) a month back. This was the tigress's first
taste of blood--a pale, diluted fluid, it is true, but it worked all the
effect of a fuller and richer draught.

It developed in Rosamund a sixth sense--one which was to lead her to
lengths that none of her kin could have anticipated. And to the rest of
the family, clucking and scratching in their own retired and restricted
barn-yard, there came the day when they discovered that their little
flock contained at least one bird of a different feather--a bird that
could paddle about the social pond with the liveliest, and could quack,
if need be, with the loudest.

Jane--who had even yet no adequate sense of the strength and pungency of
her younger sister's spirit, but who would not in any event have
hesitated to rush on an individual martyrdom that might secure some
consideration for the collective family--threw herself into the
discussion at once.

"No, don't let's have any party or dance or reception or anything at all.
Not even a two-by-four tea. Don't let's try to be anybody or know
anybody, or give anything or be considered anything. Let's go right on
rusting and vegetating; let's just dry up and shake apart and blow away,
with nobody the wiser for our having been here or the sorrier for our
having gone!"

Her mother heard this outburst with some surprise and not a little
resentment. "Well, Jane, you're quite surpassing yourself to-night. What
do you mean by all this?"

Jane exploded again.

"I mean that I'm simply tired of being a nothing and a nobody in a family
of nothings and nobodies. That's what it comes to. I'm tired of being a
bump on a log. I'm tired of sitting on the fence and seeing the
procession go by. Why can't _we_ go by? Why can't _we_ know people? Why
can't _we_ make ourselves felt? Other folks do."

Mrs. Rhodes passed over in silence this imputation of nullity; she was
not so closely related, after all, that she need allow herself to be
disturbed by it. But sister Alice took up the cudgel with all the ardor
of an immediate connection and all the sensitiveness of a suburban
resident. She even forgot the real, essential object of her visit: to
intimate to her father that if he would give her a carriage, her husband
could pay for the keep of a horse.

She was a contentious blonde, with a thin, aquiline nose and a pair of
flashing steel-blue eyes. Several wisps of straw-colored hair blew about
her temples.

"Thank you, Jane," she said, hotly; "I don't know that I feel myself a
nobody, and I don't feel that I'm exactly a social outcast--even if I
_do_ live beyond the city limits." She turned back a floating lock with a
hasty wave. "It might be to your advantage if you moved somewhere or
other yourselves. I don't see how you can expect to see anybody or know
anybody as long as you are buried in such a sepulchre as this."

Alice was the radical, the innovator of the family. She often brought her
conservative mother to the verge of horror. Hers was the hardy, daring,
and unconventional strain of the pioneer. She liked the edge; if the edge
was a little ragged, so much the better.

"Ho!" cried Jane, sarcastically. "To see anybody or to know anybody we
ought to be out at Riverdale Park, perhaps. Riverdale Park!" she
repeated, with scornful emphasis. "There isn't any river; there isn't any
dale; there isn't any park. Nothing but a lot of wooden houses scattered
over a flat prairie, and a few trees no bigger than a broomstick, and no
more leaves on them either. In the morning the men all rush for the
train, and the rest of the day the nurse-girls trundle the babies along
the plank walks, while 'society' amuses itself. Society consists of Mrs.
Smith, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Jones, and Mrs. Alice Robinson. On Wednesday,
Mrs. Smith gives a lunch to Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Jones, and Mrs. Robinson. On
Thursday, Mrs. Brown gives a tea to Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Jones, and Mrs.
Robinson. On Friday, Mrs. Rob--(no, Mrs. Jones--I'm losing the place)
gives a card-party to Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Brown, and Mrs. Robinson--in the
daytime, too, mind you. And on Saturday, Mrs. Robinson designs giving a
breakfast to Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Brown, and Mrs. Jones, but finds that the
cook is packing up her things to leave. Quiet in the suburb for a week.
Then Mrs. Smith's sister comes out from town to spend a fortnight. Well,
everybody is anxious to see Mrs. Smith's sister--a new face, you know.
So, after Mrs. Smith has started the second round with another lunch,
Mrs. Brown follows with a tea, as before, for Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Jones,
Mrs. Robinson--_and_ Mrs. Smith's sister. Then Mrs. Jones--but you've all
played the game: for breakfast I had this and that and the other. That is
society in Riverdale Park. It would be too rich for _me_!"

Alice flushed with vexation. Truesdale (who had not come home to treat
local society with too great a degree of seriousness, and who, indeed,
was like enough to take his pleasures beyond any bounds that society
might set) looked on and listened with a kind of indulgent
curiosity--like an explorer listening to the excited pow-wow of some
flock of natives in some remote African jungle.

"Yes," retorted Alice, "according to your own confession more happens
with us in a week than happens with you in a year. And you might as well
acknowledge, at the same time, that there are a few houses in the Park
where the carpets are a little less than fifteen years old, and where
they don't have hideous old what-nots loaded down with all the stuff
accumulated since the year one."

She lifted the corner of a rug with her toe, so as to disclose the
threadbare breadth that it concealed, and she threw an ironical eye upon
a sort of massive and convoluted buffet which displayed a number of
antique Dresden figurines and a pair of old candelabra compounded of
tarnished gilt and broken prisms. "And in the Park," she added, "we
always have new wall-paper at the beginning of every century--it's a
local ordinance!"

"Alice," called her mother, tartly, "take your foot away from that rug.
And don't annoy me about that worn breadth; you know very well I've tried
everywhere to match it. And don't imagine, either, that I'm going to
bundle my wedding presents out of sight for you or anybody else."

"Match it!" cried Alice, unabashed. "Match it? They used the last to
carpet the ark." She trod down the corner of the rug with a firm step.
Then, with her scornful nostrils and sharply critical eyes, she seemed to
be lifting it again.

"Well, then," said her mother. "And now leave it alone." The old lady had
not the slightest idea of replacing her time-accustomed patterns by
anything more current. Nor was her husband, apparently, of a different
mind as concerned the wallpaper. He had followed Jane in from the other
room, and he now sat there, sending a careful eye slowly along the
old-fashioned border, and finding it impossible to believe that any
one could seriously judge it to be grotesquely out of date.

"The carpet's all right, as far as I can see," declared Jane. "What if it
_is_ fifteen years old? Have you got one at Riverdale that is even
fifteen months old? You know you haven't; if you had you'd start a museum
of antiques with it. And as for our budging from this dear old place,
don't you look for it; we're attached to it, even if you're not. Besides,
to move would be to throw away the one advantage that we really have.
Why, think of it!" she continued with a gesticulating and wide-eyed
eloquence. "We have lived right here in this one house over thirty
years. How many families in this town have lived in one house thirty
years? Or twenty? Or even ten? We've always had the same door-plate on
the same door. We've always had the same number in the directory. We
started in a good neighborhood, and we've always stayed here--the only
one in all the town that has anything like an old-time flavor and an
atmosphere of its own--the only one where nice people have always lived
and do live yet. Isn't that better than a course of flats up one street
and down another? Isn't that better than a grand chain through a lot of
shingle-shangled cottages in the suburbs? I should say so. What are they
doing in the East now? They're going back to their old neighborhoods, and
the people who haven't left them at all are the ones who are right on the
top of the pile. We might have some new furniture or something of the
sort, perhaps; but that's different from asking the moving-wagons to come
and cart us out on to the prairie."

David Marshall followed his daughter's harangue with an indulgent
interest and a sympathy by no means scant. He had no profound
apprehension of social values, and no clear-cut conception of a social
career; but he appreciated her loyalty to her lifelong home and to all
its belongings and surroundings. He had reason for supposing that this
loyalty would extend to himself; but Jane was wound up to go, and had no
idea of allowing anything to stand in the way of her disposal of the
question in all its bearings.

"I suppose," she went on, inexorably, "that we imagine ourselves to be
'prominent citizens.' Well, we make a mistake if we do. We may have been
ten years ago, but not now. We've just been falling, falling, falling
behind--that's the amount of it. Now, honest, pa, dear, do the papers
ever come to you nowadays to know what you think about political
prospects or to ask your opinion on the last new street-car route
proposed? Or do they send men around for trade statistics who jubilate in
the issue of Jan. one because we sold five thousand more barrels of flour
this year than last? Now, do they?"

Marshall could not escape the justness of this pointed presentation of
new conditions. "We have enough to bother us," he said, with a slow
reluctance, "without reporters coming round."

"There it is," continued Jane. "Yes, and who cares nowadays about the
volume of the lumber trade or the mortality at the stock-yards? Why, just
those people themselves. The fact is, the town has moved to a higher
plane, and we've got to move with it, or else get left. Why, dear me, if
it wasn't for an intellectual daughter who had the gift of language and
who wrote papers and read them at the club, this family would have
scarcely a connection with latter-day society."

"Good for you, Jane," called her brother. "Give me some of them to read."

"They're pretty good," said their father, unruffledly judicial. Jane was
in the habit of reading him passages that she considered particularly
effective. In listening to her perorations he sometimes felt himself as
assisting at the liquidation of the universe.

"Now, here we are," proceeded Jane, with unabated exegetical energy, "an
old family, with position and plenty of means and everything to make an
impression. Why can't we do it? Why can't we manage to assert ourselves?
I'm not speaking for myself, of course; I'm a back number"--this half
hysterically, between a gulp and a giggle--"I'm 'gone beyond recall,' and
nobody knows that better than I myself. No; I'm speaking for all of us.
Besides, here's Rosy, just coming up, and--"

"Thank you, Jane," remarked Rosamund, with some acerbity. "You needn't
mind me. I can look after myself."

"--and it seems to me," went on Jane, ardently, "that people who have
succeeded might just as well give some outer token of it. I declare, when
I called on Mrs. Bates and went over the place and compared their house
and their way of living with ours--"

Her aunt looked up suddenly. "Mrs. Bates? What Mrs. Bates? Mrs. Granger
Bates?"

"Yes. When I saw what magnificent style she lived in, and how she had
about everything that--"

"So you know Mrs. Bates, too," her aunt again interrupted. "Pleasant
woman, isn't she? Have I ever told you how she and I used to play
backgammon together at St. Augustine?"

"_Have_ you?" muttered Jane. "I should think you had--a dozen times
over!"

"And what were you doing at _her_ house, may I ask?" her aunt queried
further. The geniality of this interrogation hardly concealed its
crudity; Jane felt herself accused of an incongruous and inexplicable
intrusion into a region of unaccustomed splendor and distinction.

"Oh, she was collecting money for her working-girls' lunchroom,"
volunteered Rosy, with a cruel bluntness.

Jane threw an air of outraged dignity upon her younger sister. "So I was.
And I spent a very pleasant hour with her," she said, with some
stateliness. "And I am going there next Wednesday to lunch," she added.

Her aunt looked at her with increasing consideration. She herself had
never been honored with an invitation to the house of Mrs. Granger
Bates--though rather than fail to respond to such an invitation she would
have crawled there (a trifle of some fourteen squares) on her hands and
knees. "Have you known her long?"

"Since ten this morning," contributed Rosy.

"Always," corrected Jane, with a whimsical brevity.

"And how do you find her?" persisted Mrs. Rhodes, with a curious
intentness. "Dear me!" she laughed, self-consciously, "how she did hate
to be beaten! How vexed she always was when I began throwing off first!
How she would bang her dice-box! How she would--"

"She's perfectly grand!" declared Jane, with the loud enthusiasm of a new
and fervent loyalty. "She's the finest woman I ever met. She's the best
woman in the world!" The poor girl attested her earnestness by a tremble
in her voice and a tear in each eye. "And she spoke so nicely of you,
poppy," Jane went on, turning to her father.

"Did she?" said her father, in return. And a quiet smile of reminiscence
played round his lips for full five minutes.

"And she inquired about all of us," Jane proceeded. "She wants to renew
the acquaintance, I think. And she asked about Rosy, too--whether she was
pretty and bright; and I said she was. I expect she's inclined to take an
interest in you," said Jane, in conclusion, turning towards her sister
and dropping these few coals of fire upon her head.

Rosamund caught the proper tone from her aunt and bowed in unaccustomed
meekness to this shower. Alice, however, as a confirmed and condemned
suburbanite, had no idea of exhibiting any great interest in one of the
acknowledged leaders of urban society--an interest which, from the very
nature of things, could have been but futile and unproductive. She
accordingly toyed carelessly and absently with the evening paper, as it
lay on the centre-table.

"H'm," she observed, presently, "those game-dinners at the Pacific are
still going on, aren't they? To-night's the thirty-eighth. Nice things,
too, as I remember them. That's the way I learned to like venison. Here
are some of the people to be there--your Mrs. Bates among them." She
looked across to her father. "Why didn't _you_ go?"

"Give me that paper, Alice," her mother called, with a sharp and sudden
cry. She ran her eye down its column and then turned to her husband.
"Why, David, how did you happen to forget? You know I wouldn't have
missed this for anything."

Marshall checked his lingering smile. He looked at his wife with an
embarrassed pain, and then dropped his eyes to the carpet. "There must
have been some misunderstanding," he stammered. "The invitation was
delayed--or it miscarried. Perhaps it went to the store and got mixed up
with the mail there," he ventured; any improbability would do to soften
the shock.

"Delayed! Miscarried!" cried Jane, in an acute access of anger and
indignation. "Don't believe it! We're dropped, that's all! Well, what
else can we expect? How are we going to hold our own against all these
thousands and thousands of newcomers if we don't do anything? That's what
I've been telling you all along. We've got to wake up and make an effort.
Give me that paper." She snatched it from her mother. "Yes, they'll all
be there--the Hubbards, the Gages, and the whole crowd of Parmelees, and
Kittie Corwith and her father, and all the rest, and--and the Beldens!
The Beldens--there!" She turned fiercely on her mother. "What do you
think of that?"

Eliza Marshall was cut to the quick. For twenty years and more she had
attended this annual dinner; she had attached herself there to former
friends and neighbors, who listened indulgently to her narrow little
dribble of reminiscent gossip--the gossip and reminiscences of the
smaller town and the earlier day. This dinner was her sole remaining
connection (little as she had realized it) with the great and complex
city of the present day, just as it was the sole reason for her
plum-colored silk and for her husband's dress-coat; and the cutting of
this last cable set her completely adrift on the wide and forlorn
sea of utter social neglect. And the Beldens!--that was the last straw of
all. She seemed to see her husband crowded from his seat at that cheery
board by a man whom he himself had taken up and made--a man who was
trying to push him from the social world, just as he was trying to push
him out of the control of the business which he had founded and
developed. It was all more than she could bear.

Jane rushed headlong into another mood. "Oh, well, the end of the world
hasn't come if we _are_ frozen out. And perhaps we're not, anyway; the
invite may get round to-morrow--who knows? So don't let's order our
sackcloth and ashes quite yet awhile. Life is still worth living, and we
have got several other strings to our bow.

"This one, for instance," nodding in the direction of Rosy, towards whom
she seemed inexhaustibly forgiving. "I have the honor to present to the
waiting world Miss Rosamund Marshall, the bud of the season and the
success of the century. Also her brother, Mr. Truesdale Marshall, who has
come home stuffed full of accomplishments, and who will now proceed to
show them. He sings--"

She stepped across to her brother, slipped her arm through his, and drew
him towards the rug in the middle of the room.

Her height was within an inch of his own. She bowed him over the edge of
the rug as over a row of footlights, crooked his other arm so that his
hand was placed over his heart, put her own hand sprawlingly in a like
position, threw back her head, and abandoned herself to a shrill
succession of scales and roulades.

"Why don't you begin?" she presently broke off to inquire.

"What a girl you are!" he said. He looked a bit sheepishly in the
direction of his father; then he stepped behind his sister, laid a hand
on each of her imperceptible biceps, and turned her face round to the
wall.

But Jane faced about at once. "Well, then, he paints--"

She dragged him toward the centre-table, grasped his wrist, and forced
him to make several dabs and passes at the fatal newspaper, which still
lay there with a bland impassivity between drop-light and book-rack.
"That's how we dash off our little sketches," she declared.

"Goodness, Jane!" cried Alice, "you've almost upset the whole inkstand!"

"And what else is there?" cried Jane, whose mood was mounting higher. She
clamped her hand on her disordered bang. "Why, of course! He
fences!--aha!"

To this address Truesdale allowed himself to respond. He had no wish to
obtrude his musical and artistic doings upon his father until a more
definite _modus vivendi_ had been brought about; but he could no longer
lend himself passively to being made an absurdity by the over-enthusiasm
of his sister. Fencing, now, was a manly art of which his father might
not disapprove.

"On guard!" he cried. With his right hand he snatched up a paper-cutter
from the table, curled up his left arm behind him, threw one of his long
legs out in front and landed it with a _flump_! on the floor five feet
ahead of his initial stand-point.

"Hurray!" cried Jane, shrilly. "What other girls do you know who've got a
brother like this?" She snatched up a brass-edged ruler that had lain
alongside the paper-cutter. Mrs. Rhodes started back; Alice's husband,
who had come in to lead the homeward march to Riverside Park, paused
astonished on the threshold.

"On guard!" echoed Jane in turn. With a _flump!_ of her own she threw
herself into an imitation of the angular crouch that her brother had
assumed. "Go it!" she called, and began to hack at the paper-cutter with
her ruler.

Save for the clash of weapons there was a complete silence. Suddenly
Truesdale reversed his position. Jane did the same, bringing a sudden and
unaccustomed weight upon her other foot. Her knee cracked loudly.
Everybody heard it. Rosy snickered.

Jane crossed the room and sat down in a shady corner. In that ten seconds
she felt ten years older.

"Where's pa?" she asked her mother in a sour tone, after Alice and her
aunt had left the house. "I do hope"--crossly--"that the next time you
let any of those wretched old women take anything away you'll have them
pay for it in advance."

"I guess your father isn't bothering much about a bedstead and a few old
chairs," retorted her mother. "If you want to know what he's thinking
about, it's that Belden again."

"Belden?"

"Yes. He has decided finally to let your father put on those two extra
stories, and what do you think he wants in exchange? He wants to make the
firm over into a stock company. He's fixing a place for that boy of
his--that's what."

"Well, haven't we got a boy, too?" retorted Jane, severely. She went out,
and gave the door a loud slam behind her.

But David Marshall, back again in the bay-window, was thinking neither of
the sinuosities of Mother Van Horn, nor of the aggressions of his junior
partner, nor even of the just-concluding courses of the annual
game-dinner. His thoughts had slipped back into the early times; he and
Sue Lathrop (the Mrs. Granger Bates of to-day) were sitting together in
the old, long-vanished Metropolitan Hall listening to the "Nightingale
Serenaders," and the year was 'fifty-seven.



IV


"Well, here goes!" said Jane, half aloud, with her foot on the lowest of
the glistening granite steps. The steps led up to the ponderous pillared
arches of a grandiose and massive porch; above the porch a sturdy and
rugged balustrade half intercepted the rough faced glitter of a vast and
variegated façade; and higher still the morning sun shattered its beams
over a tumult of angular roofs and towering chimneys.

"It _is_ swell, I declare!" said Jane, with her eye on the wrought-iron
work of the outer doors and the jewels and bevels of the inner-ones.

"Where is the thing-a-ma-jig, anyway?" she inquired of herself. She was
searching for the doorbell, and she fell back on her own rustic lingo in
order to ward off the incipient panic caused by this overwhelming
splendor. "Oh, here it is! There!" She gave a push. "And now I'm in for
it." She had decided to take the richest and best-known and most
fashionable woman on her list so start with; the worst over at the
beginning, she thought, the rest would follow easily enough.

"I suppose the 'maid' will wear a cap and a silver tray," she observed
further. "Or will it be a gold one, with diamonds around the edge?"

The door-knob turned from within. "Is Mrs. Bates--" she began.

The door opened half way. A grave, smooth-shaven man appeared; his chin
and upper lip had the mottled smudge that shows in so many of those
conscientious portraits of the olden time.

"Gracious me!" said the startled Jane to herself. She dropped
her disconcerted vision to the door-mat. Then she saw that the
man wore knee-breeches and black silk stockings.

"Heaven be merciful!" was her inward cry. "It's a footman, as I live.
I've been reading about them all my life, and now I've met one. But I
never suspected that there was really anything of the kind in _this_
town!"

She left the contemplation of the servant's pumps and stockings, and
began to grapple fiercely with the catch of her hand-bag.

The man, in the meanwhile, studied her with a searching gravity, and, as
it seemed, with some disapproval. The splendor of the front that his
master presented to the world had indeed intimidated poor Jane; but there
were many others upon whom it had no deterring effect at all. Some of
these brought art-books in monthly parts; others brought polish for the
piano legs. Many of them were quite as prepossessing in appearance as
Jane was; some of them were much less plain and dowdy; few of them
were so recklessly indiscreet as to betray themselves at the threshold
by exhibiting a black leather bag.

"There!" remarked Jane to the footman, "I knew I should get at it
eventually." She smiled at him with a friendly good-will; she
acknowledged him as a human being, and she hoped to propitiate him into
the concession that she herself was nothing less.

The man took her card, which was fortunately as correct as the most
discreet and contemporaneous stationer could fashion. He decided that he
was running no risk with his mistress, and "Miss Jane Marshall" was
permitted to pass the gate.

She was ushered into a small reception-room. The hard-wood floor was
partly covered by a meagre Persian rug. There was a plain sofa full of
forbidding angles, and a scantily upholstered chair which insisted upon
nobody's remaining longer than necessary. But through the narrow door
Jane caught branching vistas of room after room heaped up with the
pillage of a sacked and ravaged globe, and of a stairway which led with a
wide sweep to regions of unimaginable glories above.

"Did you ever!" exclaimed Jane. It was of the footman that she was
speaking; he, in fact, loomed up to the practical eclipse of all this
luxury and display. "Only eighty years from the Massacre, and hardly
eight hundred feet from the Monument!"

Presently she heard a tapping and a rustling without. She thought that
she might lean a few inches to one side with no risk of being detected in
an impropriety, and she was rewarded by seeing the splendid vacuity of
the grand stairway finally filled--filled more completely, more amply,
than she could have imagined possible through the passage of one person
merely. A woman of fifty or more was descending with a slow and somewhat
ponderous stateliness. She wore an elaborate morning gown with a broad
plait down the back, and an immensity of superfluous material in the
sleeves. Her person was broad, her bosom ample, and her voluminous gray
hair was tossed and fretted about the temples after the fashion of a
marquise of the old régime. Jane set her jaw and clamped her knotty
fingers to the two edges of her inhospitable chair.

"I don't care if she _is_ so rich," she muttered, "and so famous and so
fashionable and so terribly handsome; she can't bear _me_ down."

The woman reached the bottom step, and took a turn that for a moment
carried her out of sight. At the same time the sound of her footsteps was
silenced by one of the big rugs that covered the floor of the wide and
roomy hall. But Jane had had a glimpse, and she knew with whom she was to
deal--with one of the big, the broad, the great, the triumphant; with one
of a Roman amplitude and vigor, an Indian keenness and sagacity, an
American ambition and determination; with one who baffles circumstance
and almost masters fate--with one of the conquerors, in short.

"I don't hear her," thought the expectant girl, in some trepidation;
"but, all the same, she's got to cross that bare space just outside the
door before--yes, there's her step! And here she is herself!"

Mrs. Bates appeared in the doorway. She had a strong nose of the lofty
Roman type; her bosom heaved with breaths deep, but quiet and regular.
She had a pair of large, full blue eyes, and these she now fixed on Jane
with an expression of rather cold questioning.

"Miss Marshall?" Her voice was firm, smooth, even, rich, deep. She
advanced a foot or two within the room and remained standing there.

"Yes," responded Jane, in unnecessary corroboration. She rose
mechanically from her meagre chair. "I have come to see you," she began,
awkwardly, "about a charity that I am interested in--no, not exactly a
charity, but--"

At the ominous word "charity" Mrs. Bates's eyes took on a still colder
gleam. She faced poor Jane with the broad, even, pitiless glare of a
chilled-steel mirror.

"Really," she began, "I have a great many demands of this kind made on
me; a great many--more than might generally be imagined." She showed none
of the embarrassed evasion peculiar to the woman on whom such
requisitions are made but at infrequent intervals; she employed the
decisive, business-like tone of a woman of whom such requests are made
daily. Jane seemed to see negation coldly crystallizing before her eyes,
and she gave a mortified groan to find herself drawn so near to the
brink of humiliation. She had never begged before, and she registered an
inward vow never to beg again.

"You don't know _me_ from Adam," she blurted out, at her bluntest and
crudest, "but you must know my aunt, Mrs. Rhodes. I have heard her speak
of you very often. She met you at St. Augustine, last winter."

"Mrs. Rhodes?" the other repeated, doubtfully. She made her eyebrows take
their part in an inquiring glance, and bestowed the result upon her
caller.

"Yes," insisted Jane; "Mrs. A. L. Rhodes. She lives on Michigan--near
Thirtieth."

"Mrs. Rhodes?"--again thoughtfully repeated. She seemed to move her head
in doubt. "I _do_ go to Florida every winter, and sometimes, on the way
to our place, I stop for a day or two at St. Augustine--yes."

She looked at Jane again, as if to say, "That is really the best I can do
for you."

"She played backgammon with you there," Jane still persisted--"on the
hotel veranda. I've heard her say so twenty times."

Mrs. Bates did not change her expression. "Backgammon? Yes, I am very
fond of backgammon; I play it a great deal. Mr. Bates keeps a board in
the car especially for me. I'm always glad to meet anybody who cares to
play; and it's pleasant, I'm sure, to be on easy terms with one's
fellow-travellers."

She laid one hand in the other and gave an imperceptible sigh; she wore a
great many rings. "What more can I say for you than that?"--such seemed
to be the meaning of the expression now on her face.

"My father"--began Jane; she was loud, slow, deliberate, emphatic. What
could the woman mean by receiving her in such a fashion? Were the
Marshalls mere upstarts, nobodies, newcomers, that they must be snubbed
and turned aside in any such way as this? Jane's eyes blinked and her
nostrils quivered. "My father," she began again, in the same tone, "is
David Marshall. He is very well known, I believe, in Chicago. We have
lived here a great many years. It seems to me that there ought to--"

"David Marshall?" repeated Mrs. Bates, gently. "Ah, I _do_ know David
Marshall--yes," she said; "or did--a good many years ago." She looked up
into Jane's face now with a completely altered expression. Her glance was
curious and searching, but it was very kindly. "And you are David
Marshall's daughter?" She smiled indulgently at Jane's outburst of spunk.
"Really--David Marshall's daughter?"

"Yes," answered Jane, with a gruff brevity. She was far from ready to be
placated yet.

"David Marshall's daughter! Then, my dear child, why not have said so in
the first place, without lugging in everybody and everything else you
could think of? Hasn't your father ever spoken of me? And how is he,
anyway? I haven't seen him--to really speak to him--for fifteen years. It
may be even more."

She seemed to have laid hands on a heavy bar, to have wrenched it from
its holds, to have flung it aside from the footpath, and to be inviting
Jane to advance without let or hindrance.

But Jane stood there with pique in her breast, and her long thin arms
laid rigid against her sides. "Let her 'dear child' me, if she wants to;
she sha'n't bring me around in any such way as that."

All this, however, availed little against Mrs. Bates's new manner. The
citadel so closely sealed to charity was throwing itself wide open to
memory. The drawbridge was lowered, and the late enemy was invited to
advance as a friend.

Nay, urged. Mrs. Bates presently seized Jane's unwilling hands. She
gathered those poor, stiff, knotted fingers into two crackling bundles
within her own plump and warm palms, squeezed them forcibly, and looked
into Jane's face with all imaginable kindness. "I had just that temper
once myself," she said.

The sluice-gates of caution and reserve were opening wide; the streams of
tenderness and sympathy were bubbling and fretting to take their course.

"And your father is well? And you are living in the same old place? Oh,
this terrible town! You can't keep your old friends; you can hardly know
your new ones. We are only a mile or two apart, and yet it is the same as
if it were a hundred."

Jane yielded up her hands half unwillingly. She could not, in spite of
herself, remain completely unrelenting, but she was determined not to
permit herself to be patronized. "Yes, we live in the same old place. And
in the same old way," she added--in the spirit of concession.

Mrs. Bates studied her face intently. "Do you look like him--like your
father?"

"No," answered Jane. "Not so very much. Nor like any of the rest of the
family." The statue was beginning to melt. "I'm unique." And another drop
fell.

"Don't slander yourself," She tapped Jane lightly on the shoulder.

Jane looked at her with a protesting, or at least a questioning,
seriousness. It had the usual effect of a wild stare. "I wasn't meaning
to," she said, shortly, and began to congeal again. She also shrugged her
shoulder; she was not quite ready yet to be tapped and patted.

"But don't remain standing, child," Mrs. Bates proceeded, genially. She
motioned Jane back to her chair, and herself advanced to the roomier
sofa. "Or, no; this little pen is like a refrigerator to-day; it's so
hard, every fall, to get the steam heat running as it should. Come; it
ought to be warmer in the music-room.

"The fact is," she proceeded, as they passed through the hall, "that I
have a spare hour on my hands this morning--the first in a month. My
music-teacher has just sent word that she is down with a cold. You shall
have as much of that hour as you wish. So tell me all about your plans; I
dare say I can scrape together a few pennies for Jane Marshall."

"Her music-teacher!" thought Jane. She was not yet so far appeased nor so
far forgetful of her own initial awkwardness as to refrain from searching
out the joints in the other's armor. "What does a woman of fifty-five
want to be taking music-lessons for?"

The music-room was a lofty and spacious apartment done completely in
hard-woods; its panelled walls and ceiling rang with a magnificent
sonority as the two pairs of feet moved across the mirror-like marquetry
of the floor.

To one side stood a concert-grand; its case was so unique and so
luxurious that even Jane was conscious of its having been made by special
order and from a special design. Close at hand stood a tall music-stand
in style to correspond. It was laden with handsomely bound scores of all
the German classics and the usual operas of the French and Italian
schools. These were all ranged in precise order; nothing there seemed to
have been disturbed for a year past. "My! isn't it grand!" sighed Jane.
She already felt herself succumbing beneath these accumulated splendors.

Mrs. Bates carelessly seated herself on the piano-stool, with her back to
the instrument. "I don't suppose," she observed, casually, "that I have
sat down here for a month."

"What!" cried Jane, with a stare. "If I had such a lovely room as this I
should play in it every day."

"Dear me," rejoined Mrs. Bates, "what pleasure could I get from
practising in this great barn of a place, that isn't half full until
you've got seventy or eighty people in it? Or on this big sprawling
thing?"--thrusting out her elbow backward towards the shimmering cover of
the key-board.

"So then," said Jane to herself, "it's all for show. I knew it was. I
don't believe she can play a single note."

"What do you suppose happened to me last winter?" Mrs. Bates went on. "I
had the greatest setback of my life. I asked to join the Amateur Musical
Club. They wouldn't let me in."

"Why not?"

"Well, I played before their committee, and then the secretary wrote me a
note. It was a nice enough note, of course, but I knew what it meant. I
see now well enough that my fingers were rather stiffer than I realized,
and that my 'Twinkling Sprays' and 'Fluttering Zephyrs' were not quite up
to date. They wanted Grieg and Lassen and Chopin. 'Very well,' said I,
'just wait.' Now, I never knuckle under. I never give up. So I sent
right out for a teacher. I practised scales an hour a day for weeks and
months. Granger thought I was going crazy. I tackled Grieg and Lassen and
Chopin--yes, and Tschaikowsky, too. I'm going to play for that committee
next month. Let me see if they'll dare to vote me out again!"

"Oh, _that's_ it!" thought Jane. She was beginning to feel desirous
of meting out exact and even handed justice. She found it impossible to
withhold respect from so much grit and determination.

"But your father liked those old-time things, and so did all the other
young men." Mrs. Bates creased and folded the end of one of her long
sleeves, and seemed lapsing into a retrospective mood. "Why, some
evenings they used to sit two deep around the room to hear me do the
'Battle of Prague.' Do you know the 'Java March'?" she asked, suddenly.

"I'm afraid not," Jane was obliged to confess.

"You father always had a great fondness for that. I don't know," she went
on, after a short pause, "whether you understand that your father was one
of my old beaux--at least, I always counted him with the rest. I was a
gay girl in my day, and I wanted to make the list as long as I could; so
I counted in the quiet ones as well as the noisy ones. Your father was
one of the quiet ones."

"So I should have imagined," said Jane. Her maiden delicacy was just a
shade affrighted at the turn the talk was taking.

"When I was playing he would sit there by the hour and never say a word.
My banner piece was really a fantasia on 'Sonnambula'--a new thing here;
I was the first one in town to have it. There were thirteen pages, and
there was always a rush to see who should turn them. Your father didn't
often enter the rush, but I really liked his way of turning the best of
any. He never turned too soon or too late; he never bothered me by
shifting his feet every second or two, nor by talking to me at the hard
places. In fact, he was the only one who could do it right."

"Yes," said Jane, with an appreciative sigh; "that's pa--all over."

Mrs. Bates was twisting her long sleeves around her wrists. Presently she
shivered slightly. "Well, really," she said, "I don't see that this place
is much warmer than the other; let's try the library."

In this room our antique and Spartan Jane was made to feel the need of
yet stronger props to hold her up against the overbearing weight of
latter-day magnificence. She found herself surrounded now by a sombre and
solid splendor. Stamped hangings of Cordova leather lined the walls,
around whose bases ran a low range of ornate bookcases, constructed with
the utmost taste and skill of the cabinet-maker's art. In the centre of
the room a wide and substantial table was set with all the paraphernalia
of correspondence, and the leathery abysses of three or four vast
easy-chairs invited the reader to bookish self-abandonment.

"How glorious!" cried Jane, as her eyes ranged over the ranks and rows of
formal and costly bindings. It all seemed doubly glorious after that poor
sole bookcase of theirs at home--a huge black-walnut thing like a
wardrobe, with a couple of drawers at the bottom, receptacles that seemed
less adapted to pamphlets than to goloshes. "How grand!" Jane was not
exigent as regarded music, but her whole being went forth towards books.
"Dickens and Thackeray and Bulwer; and Hume and Gibbon, and Johnson's
_Lives of the Poets_, and--"

"And twenty or thirty yards of Scott," Mrs. Bates broke in, genially;
"and enough Encyclopaedia Britannica to reach around the corner and back
again. Sets--sets--sets."

"What a lovely chair to sit and study in!" cried Jane, not at all abashed
by her hostess's comments. "What a grand table to sit and write papers
at!" Writing papers was one of Jane's chief interests.

"Oh, yes," said Mrs. Bates, with a quiet toleration, as she glanced
towards the shining inkstand and the immaculate blotting-pad. "But,
really, I don't suppose I've written two lines at that table since it was
put there. And as for all these books, Heaven only knows where the keys
are to get at them with. I can't do anything with them; why, some of them
weigh five or six pounds!"

Jane shrivelled and shivered under this. She regretted doubly that she
had been betrayed into such an unstinted expression of her honest
interest. "All for show and display," she muttered, as she bowed her head
to search out new titles; "bought by the pound and stacked by the cord;
doing nobody any good--their owners least of all." She resolved to admire
openly nothing more whatever.

Mrs. Bates sank into one of the big chairs and motioned Jane towards
another. "Your father was a great reader," she said, with a resumption of
her retrospective expression. "He was very fond of books--especially
poetry. He often read aloud to me; when he thought I was likely to be
alone, he would bring his Shakespeare over. I believe I could give you
even now, if I was put to it, Antony's address to the Romans. Yes; and
almost all of Hamlet's soliloquies, too."

Jane was preparing to make a stand against this woman, and here,
apparently, was the opportunity. "Do you mean to tell me," she inquired,
with something approaching sternness, "that my father--_my father_--was
ever fond of poetry and--and music, and--and all that sort of thing?"

"Certainly. Why not? I remember your father as a high-minded young man,
with a great deal of good taste; I always thought him much above the
average. And that Shakespeare of his--I recall it perfectly. It was a
chubby little book bound in brown leather, with an embossed stamp, and
print a great deal too fine for _my eyes_. _He_ always had to do the
reading; and he read very pleasantly." She scanned Jane closely. "Perhaps
you have never done your father justice."

Jane felt herself driven to defence--even to apology. "The fact is," she
said, "pa is so quiet; he never says much of anything. I'm about the only
one of the family who knows him very well, and I guess I don't know him
any too well." She felt, though, that Mrs. Bates had no right to defend
her father against his own daughter; no, nor any need.

"I suppose so," said Mrs. Bates, slowly. She crossed over to the radiator
and began working at the valve. "I _told_ Granger I knew he'd be sorry if
he didn't put in furnace-flues too. I really can't ask you to take your
things off down here; let's go upstairs--that's the only warm place I can
think of."

She paused in the hall. "Wouldn't you like to see the rest of the rooms
before you go up?"

"Yes--I don't mind," responded Jane. She was determined to encourage no
ostentatious pride; so she made her acceptance as indifferent as she felt
good manners would allow.

Mrs. Bates crossed over the hall and paused in a wide doorway. "This,"
she indicated, in a tone slightly suggestive of the cicerone, "is
the--well, the Grand Salon; at least, that's what the newspapers have
decided to call it. Do you care anything for Louis Quinze?"

Jane found herself on the threshold of a long and glittering apartment;
it was full of the ornate and complicated embellishments of the
eighteenth century--an exhibition of decorative whip-cracking. Grilles,
panels, mirror-frames all glimmered in green and gold, and a row of
lustres, each multitudinously candled, hung from the lofty ceiling.

Jane felt herself on firmer ground here than in the library, whose
general air of distinction, with no definite detail by way of guidepost,
had rather baffled her.

"Hem!" she observed, critically, as her eyes roamed over the spacious
spendor of the place, "quite an epitome of the whole rococo period; done,
too, with a French grace and a German thoroughness. Almost a real
_jardin d'hiver_, in fact. Very handsome indeed."

Mrs. Bates pricked up her ears; she had not expected quite such a
response as this. "You are posted on these things, then?"

"Well," said Jane, "I belong to an art class. We study the different
periods in architecture and decoration."

"Do you? I belong to just such a class myself--and to three or four
others. I'm studying and learning right along; I never want to stand
still. You were surprised, I saw, about my music-lessons: It _is_ a
little singular, I admit--my beginning as a teacher and ending as a
pupil. You know, of course, that I _was_ a school-teacher? Yes, I had a
little class down on Wabash Avenue near Hubbard Court, in a church
basement. I began to be useful as early as I could. We lived in a little
bit of a house a couple of blocks north of there; you know those
old-fashioned frame cottages--one of them. In the early days pa was a
carpenter--a boss-carpenter, to do him full justice; the town was
growing, and after a while he began to do first-rate. But at the
beginning ma did her own work, and I helped her. I swept and dusted, and
wiped the dishes. She taught me to sew, too; I trimmed all my own hats
till long after I was married."

Mrs. Bates leaned carelessly against the tortured framework of a
tapestried _causeuse_. The light from the lofty windows shattered on the
prisms of her glittering chandeliers and diffused itself over the
panelled loves and graces around her.

"When I got to be eighteen I thought I was old enough to branch out and
do something for myself--I've always tried to hold up my own end. My
little school went first-rate. There was only one drawback--another
school next door, full of great, rowdy boys. They would climb the fence
and make faces at my scholars; yes, and sometimes they would throw
stones. But that wasn't the worst: the other school taught book-keeping.
Now, I never was one of the kind to lag behind, and I used to lie
awake nights wondering how I could catch up with the rival institution.
Well, I hustled around, and finally I got hold of two or three children
who were old enough for accounts, and I set them to work on single entry.
I don't know whether they learned anything, but _I_ did--enough to keep
Granger's books for the first year after we started out."

Jane smiled broadly; it was useless to set a stoic face against such
confidences as these.

"We were married at the most fashionable church in town--right there in
Court-house Square; and ma gave us a reception, or something like it, in
her little front room. We weren't so very stylish ourselves, but we had
some awfully stylish neighbors--all those Terrace Row people, just around
the corner. 'We'll get there, too, some time,' I said to Granger. 'This
is going to be a big town, and we have a good show to be big people in
it. Don't let's start in life like beggars going to the back door for
cold victuals; let's march right up the front steps and ring the bell
_like_ somebody.' So, as I say, we were married at the best church in
town; we thought it safe enough to discount the future."

"Good for you!" said Jane, who was finding her true self in the thick of
these intimate revelations; "you guessed right."

"Well, we worked along fairly for a year or two, and finally I said to
Granger: 'Now, what's the use of inventing things and taking them to
those companies and making everybody rich but yourself? You pick out some
one road, and get on the inside of that, and stick there, and--The fact
is," she broke off suddenly, "you can't judge at all of this room in the
daytime. You must see it lighted and filled with people. You ought
to have been here at the _bal poudré_ I gave last season--lots of pretty
girls in laces and brocades, and powder on their hair. It was a lovely
sight."

"It must have been. I believe Rosy would have looked real pretty fixed up
that way."

"Rosy?"

"Our youngest; she's eighteen."

"Is she out?"

"Not quite; but I expect she's on the way."

"Is she pretty?"

"Yes," replied the just Jane. "Yes, Rosy is quite pretty. She's dark. She
would look lovely in yellow tulle--with a red rose somewhere."

"Is she clever?"

"H'm," said Jane, thoughtfully, "I suppose so. She's beginning to
understand how to get what she wants, anyway."

"And just the least bit selfish and inconsiderate?" insinuated Mrs.
Bates, shrewdly.

"Y--yes, I'm afraid so."

"Well, she might be quite a success; we must think about her. Come; we've
had enough of this." Mrs. Bates turned a careless back upon all her Louis
Quinze spendor. "The next thing will be something else."



V


Jane's guide passed swiftly into another large and imposing apartment.
"This I call the Sala de los Embajadores; here is where I receive my
distinguished guests."

"Good!" cried Jane, who knew Irving's _Alhambra_ by heart. "Only it isn't
Moorish; it's Baroque--and a very good example."

The room had a heavy panelled ceiling of dark wood, with a cartouche in
each panel; stacks of seventeenth-century armor stood in the corners,
half a dozen large Aubusson tapestries hung on the walls, and a vast
fireplace, flanked by huge Atlantes and crowned by a heavy pediment
broken and curled, almost filled one whole side. "That fireplace is
Baroque all over."

"See here," said Mrs. Bates, suddenly; "are you the woman who read about
the Decadence of the Renaissance Forms at the last Fortnightly?"

"I'm the woman," responded Jane, modestly.

"I don't know why I didn't recognize you before. But you sat in an
awfully bad light, for one thing. Besides, I had so much on my mind that
day. Our dear little Reginald was coming down with something--or so we
thought. And the bonnet I was forced to wear--well, it just made me blue.
You didn't notice it?"

"I was too flustered to notice anything. It was my first time there."

"Well, it was a good paper, although I couldn't half pay attention to it;
it gave me several new notions. All my decorations, then--you think them
corrupt and degraded?"

"Well," returned Jane, at once soothing and judicial, "all these later
forms are interesting from an historical and sociological point of view.
And lots of people find them beautiful, too, for that matter." Jane slid
over these big words with a practised ease.

"They impressed my notables, anyway," retorted Mrs. Bates. "We
entertained a great deal during the Fair--it was expected, of course,
from people of our position. We had princes and counts and honorables
without end. I remember how delighted I was with my first prince--a
Russian. H'm! later in the season Russian princes were as plentiful as
blackberries: you stepped on one at every turn. We had some of the
English, too. One of their young men visited us at Geneva during the
summer. I never quite made out who invited him; I have half an idea that
he invited himself. He was a great trial. Queer about the English, isn't
it? How can people who are so clever and capable in practical things ever
be such insolent tom-fools in social things? Do you know Arthur Paston?"

"No. Was he one of them?

"Not exactly. He lives here. We thought we had Americanized him; but now
he has slipped back and is almost as bad as he was to start with. Arthur
Scodd-Paston--that's the way his cards read to-day. Do you care for
paintings?"

"Of course. Is Arthur Scodd-Paston like one?"

"You bad girl! Well, we might just stick our noses in the picture-gallery
for a minute.

"We're almost beginners in this branch of industry," she expounded, as
she stood beside Jane in the center of the room under the coldly diffused
glare of the skylight. "In my young days it was all Bierstadt and De
Haas; there wasn't supposed to be anything beyond. But as soon as I began
to hear about Millet and the Barbizon crowd, I saw there was. Well, I set
to work, as usual. I studied and learned. I _want_ to learn. I want to
move; I want to keep right up with the times and the people. I got books
and photographs, and I went to all the galleries. I read the artists'
biographies and took in all the loan collections. Now I'm loaning, too.
Some of these things are going to the Art Institute next week--that
Daubigny, for one. It's little, but it's good; there couldn't be anything
more like him, could there?

"We haven't got any Millet yet, but that morning thing over there is a
Corot--at least, we think so. I was going to ask one of the French
commissioners about it last summer, but my nerve gave out at the last
minute. Mr. Bates bought it on his own responsibility. I let him go
ahead, for, after all, people of our position would naturally be expected
to have a Corot. I don't dare tell you what he paid for it. If I
did"--she pointed to their joint reflection in the opposite mirror--"we
should have a fretful porcupine here in no time."

"Don't, then," pleaded Jane, looking at her own reflection and clasping
her hands across her forehead; "this miserable bang gives me enough
trouble as it is."

"There's some more high art," said Mrs. Bates, with a wave of her hand
towards the opposite wall. "Carolus-Duran; fifty thousand francs; and he
wouldn't let me pick out my own costume, either. You have never seen me
on dress-parade; take a look at me now." She gathered up the tail of her
gown and modestly scuttled out of the room.

Poor dowdy Jane stood in silent awe before this sumptuous canvas, with
her long, interlaced fingers strenuously tugging at each other and her
wide eyes half popping from her head. She was as completely overpowered
and shattered as an uncouth and angular raft under the thunderous
downpour of Niagara. Presently she turned; Mrs. Bates stood peeping in
from without, her eyes all a-twinkle.

"And now," she said, "let's go up-stairs." Jane followed her, too dazed
to speak or even to smile.

Mrs. Bates hastened forward, lightfootedly. "Conservatory--_that's_
Moorish," she indicated, casually; "nothing in it but orchids and things.
Come along." Jane followed--dumbly, humbly.

Mrs. Bates paused on the lower step of her great stairway. A huge vase of
Japanese bronze flanked either newel, and a Turkish lantern depended
above her head. The bright green of a dwarf palm peeped over the
balustrade, and a tempered light strained down through the painted window
on the landing-stage.

"There!" she said; "you've seen it all." She stood there in a kind of
impassioned splendor, her jewelled fingers shut tightly and her fists
thrown out and apart so as to show the veins and cords of her wrists.
"_We_ did it, we two--just Granger and I. Nothing but our own hands and
hearts and hopes, and each other. We have fought the fight--a fair field
and no favor--and we have come out ahead. And we shall stay there, too;
keep up with the procession is my motto, and head it if you can. I _do_
head it, and I feel that I'm where I belong. When I can't foot it with
the rest, let me drop by the wayside and the crows have me. But they'll
never get me--never! There's ten more good years in me yet; and if we
were to slip to the bottom to-morrow, we should work back to the top
again before we finished. When I led the grand march at the Charity Ball
I was accused of taking a vainglorious part in a vainglorious show. Well,
who would look better in such a rôle than I, or who has earned a better
right to play it? There, child! ain't that success? ain't that glory?
ain't that poetry?--H'm," she broke off suddenly, "I'm glad Jimmy wasn't
by to hear that! He's always taking up his poor mother."

"Jimmy? Is he humble-minded--do you mean?"

"Humble-minded? One of my boys humble-minded? No, indeed; he's
grammatical, that's all; he prefers 'isn't.' Come up."

Mrs. Bates hurried her guest over the stairway and through several halls
and passages, and introduced her finally into a large and spacious room
done in white and gold. In the glittering electrolier wires mingled with
pipes and bulbs with globes. To one side stood a massive brass bedstead
full panoplied in coverlet and pillow-cases, and the mirror of the
dressing-case reflected a formal row of silver-backed brushes and combs.

"My bedroom," said Mrs. Bates. "How does it strike you?"

"Why," stammered Jane, "It's all very fine, but--"

"Oh yes; I know what they say about it--I've heard them a dozen times.
'It's very big and handsome and all, but not a bit home-like. _I_
shouldn't want to sleep here.' Is that the idea?"

"About," said Jane.

"Sleep here!" echoed Mrs. Bates. "I _don't_ sleep here. I'd as soon think
of sleeping out on the prairie. That bed isn't to _sleep_ in; it's for
the women to lay their hats and cloaks on. Lay yours there now."

Jane obeyed. She worked herself out of her old blue sack, and disposed
it, neatly folded, on the brocaded coverlet. Then she took off her mussy
little turban and placed it on the sack. "What a strange woman," she
murmured to herself. "She doesn't get any music out of her piano; she
doesn't get any reading out of her books; she doesn't even get any sleep
out of her bed." Jane smoothed down her hair and awaited the next stage
of her adventure.

"This is the way." Mrs. Bates led her through a narrow side-door, and
Jane found herself in a small room where another young woman sat before a
trim bird's-eye-maple desk, whose drawers and pigeonholes were stuffed
with cards and letters and papers. "This is my office. Miss Marshall,
Miss Peters," she said, in the tone of introduction.

The other girl rose. She was tall and slender, like Jane. She had a pasty
complexion and weak, reddish eyes. Her expression was somewhat plaintive
and distressed--irritating, too, in the long run.

"Step along," called Mrs. Bates. She traversed the "office," passed into
a room beyond, pushed Jane ahead of her, and shut the door. "I don't care
if it _does_ hurt her feelings." Mrs. Bates's reference appeared to be to
Miss Peters.

The door closed with a light click, and Jane looked about her with a
great and sudden surprise. Poor stupid, stumbling child!--she understood
at last in what spirit she had been received and on what footing she had
been placed.

She found herself in a small, cramped, low-ceiled room which was filled
with worn and antiquated furniture. There was a ponderous old mahogany
bureau, with the veneering cracked and peeled, and a bed to correspond.
There was a shabby little writing-desk, whose let-down lid was lined with
faded and blotted green baize. On the floor there was an old Brussels
carpet, antique as to pattern, and wholly threadbare as to surface.
The walls were covered with an old-time paper whose plaintive
primitiveness ran in slender pink stripes alternating with narrow green
vines. In one corner stood a small upright piano whose top was littered
with loose sheets of old music, and on one wall hung a set of thin
black-walnut shelves strung together with cords and loaded with a variety
of well-worn volumes. In the grate was a coal fire. Mrs. Bates sat down
on the foot of the bed and motioned Jane to a small rocker that had been
re-seated with a bit of old rugging.

"And now," she said, cheerily, "let's get to business. Sue Bates, at your
service."

"Oh, no," gasped Jane, who felt, however dumbly and mistily, that this
was an epoch in her life. "Not here; not to-day."

"Why not? Go ahead; tell me all about the charity that isn't a charity.
You'd better; this is the last room--there's nothing beyond." Her eyes
were twinkling, but immensely kind.

"I know it," stammered Jane. "I knew it in a second." She felt, too, that
not a dozen persons had ever penetrated to this little chamber. "How good
you are to me!"

Presently, under some compulsion, she was making an exposition of her
small plans. Mrs. Bates was made to understand how some of the old
Dearborn Seminary girls were trying to start a sort of clubroom in some
convenient down-town building for typewriters and saleswomen and others
employed in business. There was to be a room where they could get lunch,
or bring their own to eat, if they preferred; also a parlor where they
could fill up their noon hour with talk or reading or music; it was the
expectation to have a piano and a few books and magazines.

"I remembered Lottie as one of the girls who went with us there, down on
old Dearborn Place, and I thought perhaps I could interest Lottie's
mother," concluded Jane.

"And so you can," said Lottie's mother, promptly. "I'll have Miss
Peters--but don't you find it a little warm here? Just pass me that
hair-brush."

Mrs. Bates had stepped to her single little window. "Isn't it a gem?" she
asked. "I had it made to order; one of the old-fashioned sort, you
see--two sash, with six little panes in each. No weights and cords, but
simply catches at the side. It opens to just two widths; if I want
anything different, I have to contrive it for myself. Sometimes I use a
hair-brush and sometimes a paper-cutter."

"Dear me," asked Jane, "is that sort of thing a rarity? 'Most every
window in our house is like this. I prop mine with a curling-iron."

"And now," said Mrs. Bates, resuming, "how much is it going to take to
start things? I should think that five hundred dollars would do to get
you under way." She opened the door. "Miss Peters, won't you please make
out a check for five hun--"

"Oh, bless your soul!" cried Jane, "we don't need but three hundred all
together, and I can't have one woman--"

"Three hundred, then," Mrs. Bates called into the next room.

"Oh, goodness me!" cried Jane, despairingly, "I don't want one woman to
give it all. I've got a whole list here. You're the first one I've seen."

"Well, how much, then? Fifty?"

"Fifty, yes. That's quite as much as I expected--more."

"Fifty, Miss Peters; payable to Jane Marshall." She looked at Jane
quizzically. "You _are_ unique, sure enough."

"I want to be fair," protested Jane.

The door closed on Miss Peters. Mrs. Bates dropped her voice. "Did you
ever have a private secretary?"

"Me?" called Jane. "I'm my own."

"Keep it that way," said Mrs. Bates, impressively. "Don't ever change--no
matter how many engagements and appointments and letters and dates you
come to have. You'll never spend a happy day afterwards. Tutors are bad
enough--but, thank goodness, my boys are past that age. And men servants
are bad enough--every time I want to stir in my own house I seem to have
a footman on each toe and a butler standing on my train; however, people
in our position--well, Granger insists, you know. But Minnie
Peters--Minnie Peters is the worst of all. Every so often"--in a low
voice and with her eye on the door--"she has one of her humble days, and
then I want to die. That was what was the matter before you came--I
didn't really mean to seem cross to you. I just have to take her and
shake her and say, 'Now, Minnie Peters, how can you be so bad to me? How
can you think I would do anything to hurt your feelings, when your mother
was my very best friend? Why are you always looking for a chance to find
a slight, when'--Oh, thanks, thanks!"--Miss Peters having appeared with
the check. Mrs. Bates clapped on the signature at her little old desk.
"There, my child. And good-luck to the club-room.

"And now business is over," she continued. "Do you like my posies?" She
nodded towards the window where, thanks to the hair-brush, a row of
flowers in a long narrow box blew about in the draught.

"Asters?"

"No, no, no! But I hoped you'd guess asters. They're chrysanthemums--you
see, fashion will penetrate even here. But they're the smallest and
simplest I could find. What do I care for orchids and American beauties,
and all those other expensive things under glass? How much does it please
me to have two great big formal beds of gladiolus and foliage plants in
the front yard, one on each side of the steps? Still, with our position,
I suppose it can't be helped. No; what I want is a bed of portulacca, and
some cypress vines running up strings to the top of a pole. As soon as I
get poor enough to afford it I'm going to have a lot of phlox and London
pride and bachelor's buttons out there in the back yard, and the girls
can run their clotheslines somewhere else."

"It's hard to keep flowers in a city," said Jane.

"I know it is. At our old house we had such a nice little rosebush in
the front yard. I hated so to leave it behind--one of those little
yellow brier-roses. No, it wasn't yellow; it was just--'yaller.' And it
always scratched my nose when I tried to smell it. But oh,
child"--wistfully--"if I could only smell it now!"

"Couldn't you have transplanted it?" asked Jane, sympathetically.

"I went back the very next day after we moved out, with a peach-basket
and a fire-shovel. But my poor bush was buried under seven feet of yellow
sand. To-day there's seven stories of brick and mortar. So all I've got
from the old place is just this furniture of ma's and the wall-paper."

"The wall-paper?"

"Not the identical same, of course. It's like what I had in my bedroom
when I was a girl. I remembered the pattern, and tried everywhere to
match it. At first I just tried on Twenty-second Street. Then I went
down-town. Then I tried all the little places away out on the West Side.
Then I had the pattern put down on paper, and I made a tour of the
country. I went to Belvidere, and to Beloit, and to Janesville, and to
lots of other places between here and Geneva. And finally--"

"Well, what--finally?"

"Finally, I sent down East and had eight or ten rolls made to order. I
chased harder than anybody ever chased for a Raphael, and I spent more
than if I had hung the room with Gobelins; but--"

She stroked the narrow strips of pink and green with a fond hand, and
cast on Jane a look which pleaded indulgence. "Isn't it just too quaintly
ugly for anything?"

"It isn't any such thing," cried Jane. "It's just as sweet as it can be!
I only wish mine was like it."

Mrs. Bates glanced from the wall-paper to the window-box, and from the
window down into the back yard, where, beneath the week's washing,
flapping in the breeze and the sun, she saw next summer's flowers already
blooming.

"Did you read that paragraph last week," she asked, suddenly, "about my
having been a washer-woman once?"

"No. What was it in?"

"One of those miserable society papers. Do you know there's a man in this
town who makes his living by sending such things to New York? Something
scandalous, if possible; if not scandalous, then libellous; if not
actually libellous, then derogatory and offensive."

"I never read such stuff," said Jane; "especially about people I like. I
always skip it,"

"Yes, but it's true. I can't deny it. I _was_ a washerwoman for a whole
year. I washed all Granger's shirts and starched them and ironed them,
and put them away and got them out and washed them again for months and
months. Every one went through the mill pretty often, too; there weren't
very many of them.

"Those are Granger's shirts out on the line there, now--the big ones.
Those in the other row are Jimmy's--the little ones."

"H'm!" observed Jane, standing beside her at the window; "which _are_ the
little ones?"

Mrs. Bates laughed. "Well, perhaps there isn't much difference. Jimmy is
eighteen and large for his age, but of course his _seem_ the littlest. I
had them made in the house, but he set off to college before I could
finish with them. Perhaps they're just as well here, until the Sophomores
have finished with _him_.

"Yes," she went on, proudly, "I could wash shirts then, and I can make
shirts now. A woman, it seems to me, may do anything for herself or for
those belonging to her; and I've always tried to be a lady and a woman
too. I made all Jimmy's button-holes and worked all the initials on the
tabs." She looked appealingly at Jane. "I know you think I'm a silly old
thing...."

"I don't either!" cried Jane, loudly, with a tremble on her lip and a hot
tear starting in each eye. "I don't either; you know I don't! You know
what I think! You're a dear, good, lovely woman; and I've been just as
mean and hateful to you as I could! I don't see," she went on, in a great
burst on contrition, "how you could talk to me; I don't see how you could
let me stay one minute in your house. If you only knew all the mean,
ugly, uncharitable things I have thought about you since that man let me
in! How could you stand me? How could you keep from having me turned
out?"

"I am used to being misunderstood," said Mrs. Bates, quietly. "I took you
at first for your father's sake, and I kept you for your own. It's a long
time since I have met a girl like you; I didn't suppose there was one
left in the whole town. You are one of _us_--the old settlers, the
aborigines. Do you know what I'm going to do some time? I'm going to have
a regular aboriginal pow-wow, and all the old-timers shall be invited.
We'll have a reel, and forfeits, and all sorts of things; and off to one
side of the wigwam there shall be two or three beautiful young squaws to
pour firewater. Will you be one of them?"

"Well," Jane hesitated, "I'm not so very young, you know; nor so very
beautiful, either."

"You are to me," responded Mrs. Bates, with a caloric brevity.

"Nobody shall come," she went on, "who wasn't here before the War. Those
who came before the Incorporation--that was in '37, wasn't it?--shall be
doubly welcome. And if I can find any one who passed through the Massacre
(as an infant, you understand), he shall have the head place. I mean to
ask your father--and your mother," she added, with a firm but delicate
emphasis. "I must call on her presently."

She fixed her eyes on the fireplace. "I suppose I was silly--the way I
acted when your father married," she went on, carefully. "We were only
friends; there was really nothing between us; but I was piqued and--oh,
well, you know how it is."

"I!" cried Jane, routed by her alarm from her contrite and tearful mood.
"I? Not the least bit, I assure you!" She blushed and gulped and ducked
her head and half hid her face behind her hand. "Not the least in the
world. Why, if I were to die to-morrow nobody would care but pa and ma
and Roger and Truesdale and Alice; well--and Rosy; yes, perhaps Rosy
would care for me--if I was dead. But nobody else; oh, dear, no!" She
stared at Mrs. Bates with a hard, wide brightness.

Mrs. Bates considerately shifted her gaze to the front of the bureau. She
ran her eye down one row of knobs: "I wonder who he is?" And up the
other: "I hope he is worthy of her."

Doubly considerate, she turned her back, too. She began to rummage among
the drawers of her old desk. "There!" she said, presently, "I knew I
could put my hands on it."

She set a daguerreotype before Jane. Its oval was bordered with a narrow
line of gilded metal and its small square back was covered with embossed
brown leather. "There, now! Do you know who that is?"

Jane looked back and forth doubtfully between the picture and its owner.
"Is it--is it--pa?"

Mrs. Bates nodded.

Jane regarded the daguerreotype with a puzzled fascination. "Did my
father ever wear his hair all wavy across his forehead that way, and have
such a thing tied around his throat, and wear a vest all covered with
those little gold sprigs?"

"Precisely. That's just the way he looked the last time we danced
together. And what do you suppose the dance was? Guess and guess and
guess again! It was this."

Mrs. Bates whisked herself on to the piano-stool and began to play and to
sing. Her touch was heavy and spirited, but her voice was easily audible
above the instrument.


"'Old Dan Tucker, he got drunk;
He jumped in the fire and he kicked up a chunk
Of red-hot charcoal with his shoe.
Lordy! how the ashes flew-hoo!'"


Jane dropped the daguerreotype in time to take up the refrain:


  "'Clear the road for old Dan Tucker!
  You're too late to get your supper.
  Clear the road for old Dan--'"


"Aha! you know it!" cried Mrs. Bates, gayly.

"Of course," responded Jane. "My education may be modern, on the whole;
but it hasn't neglected the classics completely! Gentlemen forward!" she
said, with a sudden cry, which sent Mrs. Bates's fingers back to the
keyboard; "_gentlemen_ forward to Mister Tucker!" Mrs. Bates pounded
loudly, and Jane pirouetted up to her from behind.

"_Ladies_ forward to Mister Tucker!" cried Jane, and Mrs. Bates left the
stool and began dancing towards her. Then she danced back and took her
seat again; but with the first chord:

"ALL forward to Mister Tucker!" called Jane again; and they met face to
face in the middle of the room and burst out laughing. The door opened on
a narrow crack, and there appeared Miss Peters's plaintive and inquiring
countenance.

Mrs. Bates banished her assistant by one look of pathetic protest.
"There!" she said, transferring the look to Jane, "you see how it always
is when I am trying to have a good time! Even at my own table I can't
budge or crack a joke; with those two men behind my chair I feel like my
own tombstone. Lock that door," she said to Jane; "I _will_ have a good
time, in spite of them! Sit down; I'm going to play the 'Java March' for
you."

She struck out several ponderous and vengeful chords. "Why," called Jane,
"is _that_ the 'Java March'?"

She spread out her elbows and stalked up and down singing:


  "'Oh, the _Dutch_ compa-_nee_
  Is the _best_ compa-_nee_!'"


"Right again!" cried Mrs. Bates. "You _are_ one of us--just as I said!"

"Well, if that's the 'Java March,'" said Jane, "it's in an old book we
used to have about the house years and years ago. Only, if you bring it
up as an example of pa's taste--"

"He liked it because I played it, perhaps," said Mrs. Bates, quietly.
"Besides, why should you put it to those shocking words? It _is_ in that
book," she continued, "and I've got one here just like it."

"Is it the one with 'Roll on, Silver Moon,' and 'Wild roved the Indian
maid, bright What's-her-name'?"

"Bright Alfarata. Same one, exactly. Bring up another chair, and we'll go
through a whole programme of classics--pruggrum, I mean."

"Let's see, though," said Jane, looking at her watch. "Mercy me! where
has the morning gone? It's after eleven o'clock."

"Supposing it is after eleven; supposing it was after a hundred and
eleven? You're going to stay to lunch."

"I'd love to so much; but I just can't. I've got too many other scalps to
take. So many thanks for yours! I'm going to work north towards the
Monument--another Massacre!"

"Well, Wednesday, then, without fail."

They retraced their steps past the mournful Miss Peters and through the
vast state bedroom. On the stairs Mrs. Bates said:

"I _do_ remember your aunt, Mrs. Rhodes, now," The conscientious creature
had been taxing her memory for an hour. Jane felt that this was a
tribute, not to her aunt, but to herself.

"Yes," Mrs. Bates went on, "she's a little, plump, dark woman, and when
she sits down she wiggles and flounces and goes all in a heap--like
this." Mrs. Bates illustrated by means of the window-seat on the landing.

"Yes," assented Jane. She could not reproach Mrs. Bates for thus
indulging her sense of humor in order to recoup herself for the tax on
her memory.

"And when she goes down-stairs, it's like this." She gathered up her gown
and sidled down affectedly over the remaining steps.

"That's it," said Jane, joining her in the hall below.

Mrs. Bates opened the front door herself. "You can take the choo-choo
cars at Sixteenth, you know, and get off at Van Buren. Oh, dear; excuse
my baby-talk; our little Reginald--two months old, you know. I'll have
Lottie home for that lunch of ours."

"Don't apologize," said Jane. "I often use the same expression myself."

"Why, is there a baby at your house!"

"Well," said Jane, rather lamely, "Alice has got a little girl three
years old."

"So David Marshall is a grandfather? But what is there extraordinary in
that?--I'm one myself." She stood in the big porch looking down the
street--at nothing." Well, now I _am_ going to," she said, half to
herself. "_That_ settles it!"

She accompanied Jane half-way down the steps, bareheaded as she was, and
in her morning-gown. A society reporter who happened to be passing
originated the rumor that she had gone insane.

"Good-luck, my child. Use my name everywhere. Take all that anybody
offers. Good-by! Good-by!"

Jane retraced her steps to kiss her. She had not kissed her own mother
for ten years.



VI

Within a month after Truesdale Marshall's return home the understanding
between himself and his father might fairly have been classified among
the facts accomplished; and it was brought about, too, by those
indefinite courses, those impalpable procedures through which, in actual
life, so many understandings are really arrived at. Truesdale, therefore,
never received word that his father "wished to see him in the
library"--as in the story-books. Nor did the two ever draw their chairs
together in the middle of the stage close to the footlights, and have it
out--as at the theatre. When Truesdale spoke at all he spoke
casually--with more or less of implication or insinuation--to his mother
or his sisters. When he spoke not at all, he acted--and his actions spoke
as loudly and effectually as actions are held commonly to do. His father,
therefore, learned presently, and with enough distinctness to serve all
purposes, that the filial back was no more ready now than ever before to
submit to harness; that rules and regulations were sure to be resented;
that dates and duties were fretful affairs at best; that engagements and
responsibilities were far too irksome to be endured; and, above all, that
anything like "hours" would be most emphatically beyond the pale of a
moment's consideration. Truesdale professed to regard himself as having
returned once more to the life of the frontier; and being thus placed,
what could he be but a pioneer? Very well; he _would_ be a pioneer--the
pioneer of a leisure class.

He made, however, one concession to his father: he consented to a
reduction in his allowance.

He had led himself to believe that now, at last, in the town of his birth
the career of a man of leisure was completely practicable. During his
long absence from home his family had sent him at intervals copies of the
local newspapers--sheets whose utterances were triumphantly optimistic,
even beyond their triumphant and optimistic wont. Furthermore, his
courses over the Continent had brought him into contact with many
travellers more lately from home than himself, whose strange and topping
tales--carried, indeed, in a direction the reverse of that taken by most
such reports--had told him much of contemporaneous achievement behind
them, and had filled him with a half-belief that no expectations founded
on such a base could be exorbitant. A great light had arisen; the city,
notably a metropolis for many years already, had opened out into a
cosmopolis; the poet had at last arrived, and the earth was now tolerable
for the foot of man.

He visited on the South shore the great white shell from which the spirit
had taken its formal leave but a week before, and he acknowledged the
potency of the poet's spell. "It _is_ good," he assented; "better than I
could have thought--better than anybody over there could be made to
believe. I might have tried to get home a fortnight sooner, perhaps."

He met half-way the universal expectation that the spirit of the White
City was but just transferred to the body of the great Black City close
at hand, over which it was to hover as an enlightenment--through which it
might permeate as an informing force.

"Good!" he thought; "there's no place where it's needed more or where it
might do more good." The great town, in fact, sprawled and coiled about
him like a hideous monster--a piteous, floundering monster, too. It
almost called for tears. Nowhere a more tireless activity, nowhere a more
profuse expenditure, nowhere a more determined striving after the ornate,
nowhere a more undaunted endeavor towards the monumental expression of
success, yet nowhere a result so pitifully grotesque, grewsome,
appalling. "So little taste," sighed Truesdale; "so little training, so
little education, so total an absence of any collective sense of the fit
and the proper! Who could believe, here, that there _are_ cities
elsewhere which fashioned themselves rightly almost by intuition--which
took shape and reached harmony by an unreasoned instinct, as you might
say?"

But let that pass; he must take the town as he found it. Between his own
transplanted artistic interests on the one hand and his association with
the great throng of artists that the _Aufklärung_ had doubtless brought
and held, he should do well enough. He figured mornings given over to
music and painting--his own; and afternoons of studio-rounds, when
fellow-artists would turn him their unfinished canvasses to the light, or
would pull away the clinging sheets from their shapes of dampened clay;
and evenings when the room would thicken with smoke and tall glasses
would make rings on the shining tops of tables, while a dozen agile wits
had their own way with Monet and Bourget and Verlaine. For the rest,
_concerts_, _spectacles_, _bals_; if need be, receptions; or, if pushed
to it, five-o'clock tea--with the chance that one other man might be
present. Thus the winter. As for the summer: "No canoeing, of course, on
the Lahn and the Moselle; I must fall back upon the historic Illinois,
with its immemorial towns and villages and crumbling cathedrals, and the
long line of ancient and picturesque châteaux between Ottawa and Peoria.
No more villeggiatura at Frascati or Fiesole; I shall have to flee from
the summer heats to the wild ravines and gorges of DuPage County--and
raise turnips and cabbages there with the rest of them."

Putting aside for the present all thought of the coming summer, Truesdale
set himself to the formation of a circle. He had gone away as a boy and
had come back as a young man. He had grown beyond his old acquaintances,
he thought, and apart from them--of which last there could be no doubt on
either side; and it struck him that the easiest and simplest thing to do
would be to drop them all and to start afresh. To drop everybody and to
start afresh was something he was completely habituated to. He did it
through the year at intervals of from three to six months; during the
busy summer season among the Swiss pensions he had done it once every
fortnight, or oftener. His nature was full of adaptability, receptivity,
fluidity; he made friends everywhere he went, and snatched up
acquaintances at every corner.

Among the first in his new batch were Theodore Brower and Arthur Paston.
They were both older than he, but he declared, _net_, that his
non-travelled compatriots of his own age were impossible. These two new
acquaintances he appeared to like equally well; and Jane, whose kindling
ambition had devoted her brother to a brilliant social career, and whose
forenoon with Mrs. Bates had done little enough to quench the mounting
flame, wondered how such an augury was to be read; for Brower was wholly
out of society, while Paston was understood to be (save for some slight
but inevitable business entanglements) wholly in it. She decided,
finally, that, as Truesdale had met Brower in their own
house--involuntarily, as it were--while he had met Paston outside (as a
result, inferentially, of his own endeavors and advances), the brilliant
future of her brother was in no danger of being compromised. Then she
restored the just balance between the two by the thought that Truesdale
had taken very kindly to Theod--to Mr. Brower, after all; much more so
than Rosy, whose sauciness (she could think of no other word) Jane found
herself unable to forgive.

Theodore Brower was some ten years older than Truesdale. His hair was
beginning to retreat before his advancing forehead, and about his eyes
were coming to appear those lines proper to the man who is in business
for himself and pretty largely absorbed in it. He had a pair of shrewd
but kindly brown eyes and a straightforward and serious manner. He held
his hand more or less on the pulsing actualities of the town, and at one
time or another he took Truesdale to most of his clubs--the Crepuscular,
the Consolation, the Simplicity, the Universe. At most of these they
dined moderately and discussed immoderately, except at the Simplicity,
whose avowed object was to free Man from the tyranny of Things. There
they discussed and did not dine at all.

Brower called at the Marshall house at discreet intervals; now and then,
provided there was a plausible pretext for business, the interval was
shortened. He looked after all of old Mr. Marshall's insurance interests,
and the alterations in the business premises of Marshall & Belden seemed
to furnish him with such a pretext. The various policies required various
permits from various companies, and numerous changes to correspond with
the changes in the building itself. True, Brower might have sent one of
his young men to the store; but he preferred to come himself to the
house.

His presence there, under this ruse, was attended by various phenomena.
It was then that Jane would pant over the banister and palpitate in
doorways, and start and hesitate and advance and retreat, and presently
go gliding along the hall, and finally look in through the open door to
say, with affected surprise and disappointment:

"Why, dear me, it's only Mr. Brower, after all!"

Then the humiliation which she joyfully supposed him to suffer through
the infliction of such an indignity would be cancelled by a
fifteen-minute talk which, as regarded Jane's intention at least, would
be quite gracious and brilliant. Brower went through this ordeal serenely
enough, and never hesitated to expose himself again.

To Rosamund these subterfuges were too obvious for comment; this she
reserved for those other occasions when Brower's attentions were not made
to assume the mask of business. She objected that he came generally in a
sack-coat, that he sometimes presented himself too early, that he
dispensed with the mediatory services of a card, that he asked at the
door for "Miss Jane," and that she herself was always treated by him as a
child.

"Doesn't he know," protested Rosy, "that Jane is 'Miss Marshall'? And
does he think that I shall let him go on calling me by a mere nickname?"

She appeared to feel instinctively the point and the justness of these
her various exceptions, though where she collected her data it might have
been difficult definitely to say. She was served by intuition, perhaps;
or by a sixth sense--the social sense--which was now rapidly developing
from some recess hidden and hitherto all unsuspected.

Though Brower was out of Society, Truesdale did not find him on this
account any the more in Bohemia; he merely occupied the firm and definite
middle-ground of business. But Paston, on the other hand, while firmly
set in the flowery field of society, was quite capable of lifting a foot
now and then to put it within the borders of another and a different
area. Truesdale first met him in a sculptor's studio, at the top of one
of the great down-town office buildings; the young Briton was escorting a
pair of young women of his own circle who seemed disposed to encourage
art to the extent of seeing how the thing was done, and whose interest
was largely exhausted with an understanding of certain mechanical
processes. He and Truesdale subsequently grazed against each other at
places where young women, again, were present, whose interest in matters
aesthetic was in varying proportions, and whose social foothold was in
the lower strata--or substrata, as the case might be. Paston handled life
with the easy freedom of a man who, after all, was away from home; and
Truesdale was not far behind. Home, with him, was everywhere--or, rather,
nowhere; he had a great capacity for gypsy-like jauntings and an immense
abhorrence of superfluous luggage, and among the most superfluous of all
luggage he included scruples first and foremost. As soon expect a swallow
to carry a portmanteau.

During his first year abroad he had dabbled a good deal in French
fiction; this was at Geneva, before his long and intimate sojourn in
Paris. His taste had been formed, in the first instance, by the more
frivolous productions of the Romantic school--by "Mademoiselle de
Maupin," in part; by the "Vie de Boheme," more largely; and this taste
had taken a confirmed set through the perusal of other works of a like
trend--more contemporaneous and therefore still more deleterious. At
Geneva he had permitted himself various fond imaginings of Mimi and
Musette as they might disclose themselves in Paris--it was useless, all,
to expect the encounter in this strenuous little stronghold of Calvinism;
but Mimi and Musette, the actual, the contemporaneous, once met at short
range, were far, far from the _gracieuse_ and _mignonne_ creations of
Murger and of 1830. And if disappointing in Paris, how much more so in
Chicago?--where impropriety was still wholly incapable of presenting
itself in a guise that could enlist the sympathies of the fastidious.
Truesdale, whether or no, found himself restricted within reasonable
bounds by his own good taste. Nor was Paston permitted much greater
latitude; whatever his taste, the condition of his finances would alone
have checked him from straying too widely outside the beaten path.

Paston was less reticent about the worldly status of himself and his
family than might have been expected; he treated the subject in a broad,
free fashion, with a great pretense to openness. Few apprehended the
general and essential cautiousness of his disclosures; most people fell
easily enough into the notion that so much frank jocularity had no other
object than to entertain them; the young man was doubtless exaggerating,
possibly inventing.

"Absurd situation, isn't it?" he would set forth in his large and genial
way. "Poor father! six girls to see married off; and five boys to start
in life--quite as bad. One in the Army, one in the Navy, one in the
Church, one in the Civil Service, and one--in America. No other way;
somebody had to come to America--the youngest, naturally. And here he
is."

"Fancy that, Bessie! Imagine that, Allie!" his hearers would cry. Then
they would ask him about the fox-hunting in Bucks, and tease him for
further particulars about his sister Edith, who had married Lord
Such-a-one.

The subject of America he treated with some tact--with some forbearance,
he himself may have thought. If asked point-blank whether he liked it, he
would reply that his preference, naturally, must be for England. If asked
further whether he liked Chicago--an inquiry which courtesy might well
have withheld--he would answer promptly and plainly, No. And there the
matter would end: he never gave detailed explanations. He was prepared,
it came to be understood, to put the best face on a bad matter. He
remained, however, a loyal subject of the Queen, and prayed for as speedy
a sight of Boxton Park, Witham, Essex, as fortune would permit. And in
the meantime he enjoyed such makeshift pleasures as came his way.

Among these was that of leaving his card at several good houses--the card
of Arthur Gerald Scodd-Paston. People met him at functions as Mr.
Scodd-Paston, but most of them found his name rather a large mouthful;
after they had used it enough times to show that they had caught it and
were not unable to wield it, they would dispense with the forepart and
use the Paston alone. This usage received the approval of a certain
few who had had the privilege of addressing royalty--or subroyalty--and
who remembered that, after they had used the expression "Your Royal
Highness" a few times, they were entitled to an occasional lapse into the
simpler "you." At the office, where he was by no means a royal highness,
he was always Paston, and Paston merely.

His father was a general in the British army, but lately retired. He
never referred to this dignitary, as such, save twice. These early
references, pointed but discreet he held to suffice; he estimated,
properly enough, that his father's fame, once started, might be trusted
to spread of itself; and it did--along with the son's modesty.

It was doubtless to his father's personal influence that he was indebted
for his connection with a great mortgage and investment company, which
extended, in a chain of many links, all the way from London to Colorado,
and a foothold in whose Chicago office he had been fortunate enough to
secure. The salary connected with the place was but so-so; yet the place
itself, as agreed to among the Englishry of Chicago, was in no degree
unsuited to a young man of good family, fair education, small resources,
and limited prospects, and a desire to make a decorous and
self-respecting figure in society--such society as Western conditions
offered. They said the position was as good--socially--as any in one of
the branch Canadian banks; some of the more intensely English (the
Canadians themselves) were fain to acknowledge that it was even better.

So Paston did his "office work" of whatever kind during the day, and
distributed his cards through the evening hours, and dined out with a
good-will whenever occasion offered. This was often enough; he soon
became known as one of the most persistent diners-out in town, and one of
the most accomplished. His animal spirits were overflowing; his plump and
ruddy person seemed to be at once grace, appetizer, and benediction; his
fund of stories and anecdotes (constantly replenished from the most
approved sources) was inexhaustible; he carried everything through almost
single-handed, by reason of his abounding vitality and never-ending
good-nature. Everybody wanted him who could get him; his presence
lessened by half the rigors of entertaining. He therefore lodged quietly
in a retired little house in the edge of a good neighborhood; they gave
him his breakfast there, and warded off those who came to spy out the
leanness of the land. He was thus seldom called upon to take thought
for the morrow--having once passed, that is to say, the crucial hour of
lunch.

He led germans and promoted other social industries. His vacations he
could have spent six times over at all manner of desirable places. On
Sundays, through the summer, he was possessed briefly of the freedom of
the scattered suburban settlements along the North shore. He always got a
hundred cents out of every dollar, and in many instances he got the
hundred cents and kept the dollar too.

Truesdale was slow in making up his mind to introduce Paston into his own
household. But Paston presently made his entrée there under other
auspices; and within a month from that day Rosamund Marshall was studying
Debrett and was taking hurdles at a riding-academy.

For a third new acquaintance Truesdale was indebted to his aunt Lydia; he
had felt certain, all along, that some such indebtedness would befall.
His aunt lived two or three miles due south from his father's, near the
last brace of big hotels. Her house had a rather imposing but impassive
front of gray-stone, with many neighbors, more or less varying the same
type, to the right and to the left and over the way. The house had never
the absolute effect of extending hospitality; but he understood the
possibilities of the interior, and knew that a cup of tea late on a
November afternoon was among them.

As he drew near he found this house and the other houses combined in a
conspiracy of silence against the musical addresses of a swarthy
foreigner who had a foothold a yard beyond the curbstone, and who was
turning the crank of his instrument with all the rapid regularity of the
thorough mechanician. The whole street rang. "'Ah, perchè non posso
odiarti!'" hummed Truesdale in unison with the organ, as the performer,
after an intricate cadenza, returned to the original theme. "That's the
only recognizable thing I've heard these fellows play since I came over.
I wonder who puts together all the shocking stuff they are loaded up with
nowadays."

The melody, so plaintive and cloying as a vocal performance, leaped
forward briskly enough under the rapid lashings to and fro of the crank;
the elbow of the organist moved with a swift rhythm as his searching eye
tried vainly to wring a penny or two from some one of all these opulent
facades. "Good Heaven!" cried Truesdale; "how little feeling, how little
expression! Here," he said to the man in Italian; "take this half lira
and let _me_ have a chance. Bellini was never meant to go like that."

The man, with a cheerful grin, yielded up his instrument to this engaging
youth who was able to address him so pointedly in his own language, and
Truesdale, with his eye on his aunt's upper windows, proceeded to indulge
himself in a realization of his ideal. His aunt was vastly susceptible to
music, and he would heap upon her (in the absence of any other) all those
passionate reproaches for cruelty and faithlessness proper to the
rôle--welling crescendos and plaintive diminuendos and long, slow
rallentandos, followed quickly by panting and impassioned accelerandos.
In other words, he would show this music-cobbler the possibilities of his
instrument and the emotional capacity of the human soul. Incidentally, he
should earn his cup of tea.


"Why, oh why do I strive in vain to h-a-te thee,
Cruel creature, as deeply as I would?"


began Truesdale, blithely, with his eye on the one window whose shade was
not completely lowered. But at the third or fourth measure he paused
disconcerted. He had adopted a varying rhythm to express each last fine
shade of the text, and the air was already littered with abrupt and
disjointed phrases which began with a quick snarl or with a prolonged
nasal wail, leaving a sudden hiatus here, and giving there a long,
lingering scream on some mere passing note.

"Dear me!" exclaimed Truesdale, "this won't do at all. Here, signor
organista, just set that thing back, will you, and we'll start again."


"Why, oh why do I strive in vain to hate thee?"


More notes shattered themselves on the stone walls about him--singly,
in bunches, in long, detached wails. The organ yelped and snarled as
Truesdale, time routed and accent annihilated, abandoned himself to the
expression and the phrasing of the true Italian school. Two or three
passing children paused on the pavement; a park policeman, stationed on
the next corner, walked his sedate iron-gray slowly along to the point of
disturbance.

Presently the object of all this attention showed herself. Mrs. Rhodes
appeared at the window with that expression of indignant protest which
forecasts an appeal to the authorities. When she saw the offending cause
her indignation did not greatly diminish; she refused to smile even when
Truesdale extended his hat for the usual tribute. He saw her lips move,
however, with a quick exclamation which brought a second person to the
window. Then both immediately withdrew.

"Another niece, I swear!" said Truesdale; "and I've walked right into
it." He gave the man a second dime. "I guess you understand it better
than I do, after all," he said, magnanimously.

"What was your idea in making me ridiculous that way?" his aunt asked in
severe reproach, as she advanced to meet him in the reception-hall. "Do
you want to set me up as a laughingstock for all my friends and
neighbors? After all I've told Bertie about your music, too! I don't know
whether I shall let you know her or not."

"It was pretty rocky, wasn't it?" Truesdale admitted, with a cheery
impartiality. "I'm afraid it takes more practice than I've ever had a
chance to give it. And perhaps I don't understand the genius of the
instrument. Where do you suppose they learn to do it? How long a course
is necessary, do you fancy, to get a complete grip on the technique?"

His aunt's protest had been purely personal. With a broader outlook and a
better understanding she might have protested on behalf of a slighted
neighborhood, or, indeed, of a misprized town. A finer vision might have
seen in Truesdale's prank a good-natured, half-contemptuous indifference
alike to place and people. "I don't know _what_ the Warners over the way
will think," she emitted, as if that were all.

She presently relented as to the new inmate of her household. "Come,
Bertie!" she called; "step up, like a good girl. This is my nephew
Truesdale--you've heard all about him; Miss Bertie Patterson, of
Madison."

Miss Patterson of Madison was a shy, brown-eyed little girl who, at a
guess, had been in long dresses but a year or two; as she faced Truesdale
she seemed to be wondering if she might venture to smile. She had never
before been south of the Wisconsin State line; but Mrs. Rhodes, having
exhausted the ranks of her own nieces, was now giving a tardy recognition
to the nieces of her late husband. Bertie Patterson had come for the
winter, and she was finding a great deal of pleasure and interest
(slightly tinctured with awe) in a town which for some years she had
favored with a highly idealistic anticipation.

"Nice little thing," admitted Truesdale, inwardly; "but Aunt Lydia has
got to leave _me_ alone."

Mrs. Rhodes took him into the drawing-room, and had Bertie Patterson make
him his tea. She did this very nicely; she helped rather than hindered
the effect by her hesitancy and lack of complete confidence. She had
never poured tea many times before for a young man--never at all for just
such a young man as this.

"Now," said his aunt, presently. She emitted this monosyllable with a
falling inflection, and followed it by a full stop. She took his teacup
from him. "You know what little Tommy Tucker did." She placed her thumb
on one of the upper black notes of the piano and waved her fingers over
the remainder of the keyboard. "'Just a song at twilight,'" She quoted,
with a coaxing smile.

"All right," said Truesdale, promptly. "Thanks for this chance to redeem
myself. I'll show you now how it really ought to go."

And he did. At Milan he had seen reflected in his looking-glass not only
Fernando, but Elvino, too, besides Edgardo and Manrico, and that whole
romantic brotherhood. He resuscitated them all, with as much sentiment,
romance, passion, drama, as each individual case required, while Bertie
Patterson sat in the fading light behind the great three-cornered screen
of the up-tilted cover and clasped her hands and brought her generous
idealizing faculty into its fullest play.

Then he sang a few German lieder of a more contemporaneous cast. Then his
aunt asked him for that last sweet little thing of his own. "I don't
believe Bertie has ever heard a composer sing one of his own songs."

As he concluded, his aunt gave a long and appreciative sigh. "There!" she
breathed. Then: "Why do you act like a crazy, when you can be so nice if
you only will?"



VII


"Drive on a little farther, Martin," Mrs. Bates directed her coachman; "I
can never work my way through all that mess."

Beds of mortar and piles of brick half filled the roadway, and the posts
of a kind of rough plank canopy, which formed a shelter for pedestrians,
rose flush with the curbstone. Far above this improvised shelter
bricklayers were adding the courses of a new story or two to the walls of
a shabby and smoke-stained old structure, and immediately below it the
march of traffic and the hubbub of trade proceeded upon the broad flag
sidewalk as fully as contractors and their underlings would permit.
"Right over there," Mrs. Bates indicated; "between that sand-pile and the
row of flour-barrels."

Porters in blue overalls hurried boxes and tubs across the wide walk to
the waiting carts of suburban grocers. Through the dingy windows there
showed rows of shelves set with bottles of olives or cluttered with glass
jars containing various grades of molasses. From the narrow window of a
small, close pen, a few feet within the door, a shipping-clerk, wearing a
battered straw hat of the past summer, thrust out bills of lading to
draymen and issued directions to a gang of German and Swedish
roustabouts.

"I have taken a great time to come," Mrs. Bates observed to herself. She
rubbed a streak of lime from her fur coat, and stooped to pick a splinter
from the hem of her skirt. "Who's the one to ask, I wonder?"

She secured the interest of a plump, round-shouldered young German, whose
viscous hands had just left a syrup-cask, and whose wide blue eyes stared
at this unaccustomed visitor with an honest wonder. He ventured to lead
her as far as a door in a grimy glass partition which closed off a large
room filled with desks, gas-shades, clerks, and account-books. Circles of
teacups stood on the round tops of oak tables; little pasteboard trays of
coffee were disposed on the wide window-ledges, and were also ranged on
the top of a substantial balustrade that shut off two or three gentlemen
in high silk hats from the other occupants of the place.

Mrs. Bates threw herself upon the guidance of a young office-hand--the
sole person present who seemed sufficiently disengaged to notice her. He
asked her, with a mixture of surprise and deference, what name he should
give.

"Sue Lathrop, say," she responded, in an access of large and liberal
recklessness.

She was led through another door, in another dingy glass partition, to a
smaller room at one corner, and as she passed along she threw a general
glance over her surroundings. "So _he's_ here, then!" she said, under her
breath, as one of the gentlemen took off his hat and set it carefully on
top of a desk. "I'd forgotten all about his being in business with David.
It's just as well if he didn't see me. No love lost," she added, grimly.

She paused on the threshold of this last doorway; apparently she had
fallen upon the final moments of some small conference. A tall, spare old
man was delaying the resumption of his correspondence to call a last word
after a younger one, who had just set his hat upon the back of his head
and was now moving towards the exit.

"Try a summons--yes," said the elder; "that would have been the best
thing to start with, wouldn't it?"

"I don't quite see it that way,' replied the other, in the tone of heated
defence. "he took the goods, and must have had them on the premises."

"You didn't find them, though. I don't quite see the use of your having
gone with a writ of replevin after goods that I were bought to be sold
again as soon as might be."

"Such old stuff isn't worked off in any such haste as that. It's as I
tell you--word was got around to her that the writ had been issued. The
place was all turned upside down; the things had been hidden away."

"Who could have told her?"

"Who?" cried the other, with a scornful impatience. "Somebody connected
with the court. Who else could? Who else knew? Well, I'll try the other
thing; there is plenty yet to be learned about justice-court justice, no
doubt." He passed out with snapping eyes and a curl on his lips, and the
older man again bent himself over his desk.

It was a cramped little room with a breadth or two of worn oilcloth on
the floor. Two or three shelves, set across the dingy window, supported a
range of glass jars filled with nutmegs and orris-root. On the tilted
flagging, outside, the tops of a row of blue gasoline barrels held each a
half-pint of the past night's shower, and across the muddy street bunches
of battered bananas hung from the rusty framework of several shabby old
awnings.

"Poor David! twenty years and more of _this_!" Mrs. Bates stood within
the doorway. It was easy enough to figure her as already
forgotten--easier still when the old man's half-guilty start at length
acknowledged her presence.

She stepped forward with an undaunted cordiality. "Well, David, here I am
at last, you see. The mountain wouldn't come to Mohammed, so"--She tapped
her foot smartly on the oilcloth. "Here stands Sue Lathrop, with a long
memory and a disposition to meet the mountain half-way, or
three-quarters, or seven-eighths, or to trudge the whole distance--even
to the last yard. One, two, three!" she counted, as she stepped up to
his desk and flung out her hand.

The old man rose with something like alacrity. He banished his slight
frown of preoccupation and hastened to replace it by an expression of--so
to speak--apologetic cordiality.

"Mrs. Bates," he murmured. "It's very kind of you to come here--very. My
daughter--" he hesitated. He finished the sentence by drawing up a chair
and clearing its seat of the ruck of morning papers.

"I take the chair," she said, as if in burlesque assumption of the
guidance of some public meeting, "but not as any 'Mrs. Bates.' You know,
David, that I haven't come here to be treated with any such formality as
that."

He looked at her with a half-smiling wistfulness, as if he would be glad
enough to take her tone, were the thing only possible. But for such a
juncture as this he had little initiative and less momentum, and he
realized it all too well.

Mrs. Bates seated herself and threw open her furs. Her affluence, her
expansiveness, her easy mastery of the situation seemed to crowd this
square and ineffective old man quite into a corner. She counted his
wrinkles and his gray hairs; she noted the patient dulness of his eye and
the slow deliberation of his movements. "He _is_ old," she thought;
"older than I should have imagined. I might have bestirred myself and
come before."

She turned on him with a flash of her own magnificent and abounding
vitality. "I want you to assure me that I am not in the way--that I am
not interrupting business. This is not the 'busy day,' I hope, that the
little placards in the offices tell about." She must meet his unreadiness
with the fluency over which she had such a fortunate and unfailing
command. "This isn't the busy hour of the day, nor the busy day of the
week, nor the busy week of the year?"

Marshall smiled slowly. He felt himself coming to a better adjustment
with her mature and massive comeliness, her rich and elaborate attire,
her full-toned and friendly fluency. "We are always busy, and are
expecting to be busier still; but we are never too busy for a call like
this." He considered that that was doing pretty fairly for an old man who
was immersed in affairs and altogether alien to the amenities of the
great world.

Mrs. Bates rubbed again at the lime-streak on her fur. "Expecting
to be busier, yes; and preparing for it accordingly." But why "we"?--she
was not calling on the firm. "I'm sure I broke in on something at the
very start." She made him a determined tender of this handle--something
or other, apparently, he must be offered to take hold of.

"Only a little matter with my son. It was ending as you came in."

"Your son?" Here was an opening, indeed. "Not the one just home from
abroad?"

"Oh no. That's Truesdale. Roger, now, has stayed at home; and he has done
the better for it, I think. He looks after my law business. He has never
had any of the disadvantages of European travel," the old man concluded,
with a kind of gentle grimness.

Mrs. Bates's eyes flashed; here, to her thinking, was a glimmer of the
real David, after all.

"My boys haven't been over either," she responded. She cast aside any
lingering fear that no "talk" could ensue; it must, it should. "No," she
went on, "neither one of them; and I'm none too sure that they ever
_will_ go. But as for college--well, _that_ I absolutely insisted upon.
When my first boy was getting along to that age the question gave me a
good deal of anxiety. Mr. Bates had his views and I had mine. Granger was
for clapping him right into business; for a week I was positively
alarmed. Up to that time my husband and I had staved forward
abreast--neither had ever disappointed the other, nor lagged behind the
other; but I was afraid that the point had been reached at last
where I must drop him behind and go ahead alone. 'My dear husband,' I
began--and when I begin like that he knows I mean business--'my dear
husband, do you realize what the next twenty years are holding for this
town? Do you know the promise they have for a young man of family who is
properly qualified and started? Do we want our boys to get their manners
from the daily hustle of La Salle Street? Do we want them to get their
physique by doubling over books all day in a close, unwholesome office?
What's the good of all our millions if we can't start our children in
life with good health and good manners? Let them build up sound bodies
and let them learn the usages of good society--how to associate on equal
terms, in fact, with men of their own class. Give them a chance at tennis
and baseball. As for their Latin and Greek, it won't do them any real
harm--they'll forget it all in due season.' And so forth, and so
forth," added Mrs. Bates, conscious of the growing length of her
tirade. "Well, I had my way in the end--I usually do--besides the
satisfaction of finding that Granger Bates was still capable of stepping
right along with his wife. Billy came home--a big, handsome, gentlemanly
fellow--and was put into the business on the very day he was twenty-one.
He's doing well, and Jimmy will follow in due course. Your oldest boy is
a lawyer, then. What's the other one?"

"He's a gentleman--so far," answered Marshall, rather ruefully. "I'm
afraid he's almost too clever to be anything else."

"H'm," pondered Mrs. Bates, with a sympathetic thoughtfulness; "that's
bad--bad. I'd sooner have a boy of mine dead than a mere gentleman. And I
shouldn't want him too clever, either. My Billy, before we sent him off
to college, showed signs of cleverness; it worried me a good deal. He
wanted to write; and there was one time when he thought he wanted to
paint. Of course we couldn't allow anything like that. I was willing
enough that he should be posted on the best books, and be able to tell a
good painting from a bad one--to be a patron of the arts, if so minded.
But to do things of that sort himself--oh, really, you know, that was
altogether out of the question. He's with his father now, as I say, and
he's where he belongs. How old is your other boy--Roger? Twenty-eight?
Twenty-nine?"

"Thirty. He went right from the High School to the Law School. No
college, no Europe; yet for all that--"

"For all that, he's doing well, eh? He's got quite a practice, has he?
He's a smart fellow? He's a good lawyer?"

Marshall hesitated. A week previous his affirmative would have come more
promptly. "Yes," he said at length, "Roger is pretty good in his line. He
does for himself; he never makes any demands on his father. He is
practising right along, and--and learning. He does quite well--in some
things." The old gentleman's tone and manner expressed a delicate and
disappointed qualification; and his thought seemed gliding away to
something in no wise connected with the present talk.

Mrs. Bates brought him back to the actualities of the moment; she had no
idea of permitting her impromptu address on education (furthest of all
things from her thoughts as she had entered) to be succeeded by an
absolute hiatus. She therefore made inquiries of the customary civility
about the other members of the Marshall family. She asked with a firm and
ceremonial emphasis after Mrs. Marshall, and expressed herself as pleased
at the prospect of renewed relations between the two families. "We are
the old settlers, you know. There are only a few of us left, and we ought
to hang together." She inquired further about his youngest daughter,
whose social fortunes she seemed disposed to promote; she even made a
civil reference to the remote dweller at Riverdale Park. And then, with
every appearance of relish, she approached the subject of the other
daughter who came between--"the girl who gave me an art course in my own
house," she declared, with twinkling eyes.

Marshall smiled. "That's Jane, true enough. She has always been kind of
literary and artistic, and lately she has become architectural too. She
is down here once or twice a week to help Bingham put on these extra
stories."

"Bingham? My Bingham? Tom Bingham? He's the one who built our house," she
explained.

"That's the one. Jane held out, at first, for an architect and a design;
she had an idea that here was the chance, finally, to make this old block
an ornament to the city. But I thought differently. So I had Bingham's
people take off the cornice and run up two stories like the others.
To-morrow they'll put the cornice back again, and we shall be under cover
before the snow flies."

"Well, between Jane and Tom Bingham you're in pretty good hands. Have you
had him before for anything? He's a grand fellow. It'll do you lots of
good to know him--as much good as it has done me to know your girl.
David," she went on, with a little touch of solemnity, "she's a fine
girl, she's a splendid girl; and she thinks everything of her father."

"So she does," admitted the old gentleman, with a guarded smile. His
comments on his daughter's affection for him were never profuse.

"When she came to see me the other day," Mrs. Bates continued, "it was
like a whiff of air from the old times. It was like one of the Old
Settler receptions that the Calumet people used to give--only better. Why
did they stop them, I wonder? Are the old settlers giving out? Or has the
town become too proud and indifferent? Or what?"

"I'm afraid it's the fault of the old settlers themselves," responded
Marshall, with a grave and quiet smile. "They won't stay to be received."

"Yes, I know," said Mrs. Bates, with a soft little sigh. "They are
dropping off one by one. David!" she exclaimed suddenly, leaning forward
with a wistful smile, "we ought never to have drifted apart as we did. We
ought not to have lost sight of each other for all these years. I'm
sure"--in earnest questioning--"that we remember enough about the old
times to care to see each other once in a while still?"

Marshall dropped his eyes to his desk, and his long, lean fingers picked
out the border of its blue baize covering. He was half touched, half
embarrassed. "I hope so," he said.

"What gay times we used to have!" she went on, still determined, despite
his meagre response, upon an evocation of their youthful past. "Such
dances and sleigh-rides, and everything! You were ever so good to me in
those old days; I haven't forgotten how you took me to the Diorama and
the Bell-Ringers and what all besides. And 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' too--I'm
sure I should never have seen it but for you; certainly I haven't had
much disposition to see it of _late_ years--especially since they have
put the blood-hounds in! And there was Topsy and Eva, too--oh, dear, I
believe I should like to see it again, after all; don't they give it over
on the West Side now and then? You must remember how they wore those tall
pointed hats and those red petticoats and those black velvet bands across
themselves in front--not the blood-hounds--and how they had the bells on
different little tables according to their size--not Topsy and Eva; I'm
talking about the Peake family, you understand. And there was Adelina
Patti, too--a mere slip of a girl, in the quaintest little old clothes. I
go every time she comes; I wouldn't miss one of her farewells for
anything. You go, too, I suppose?"

"The same old Sue," he said, smiling. "I? No; I haven't seen her since
that first time, so long ago."

"Yes," she cried, "I _am_ the same old Sue; and I always shall be to the
friends of those dear old days! But you, David--how is it with you
yourself?"

She looked at him closely, earnestly, studiously. He felt that she was
disappointed in him, and he felt almost disappointed in himself. She had
come to him extending, as it were, an olive branch--living, lustrous,
full-foliaged; and in return he seemed able to offer nothing beyond a
mere splinter-like twig--dry, sapless, unpliant. He was conscious that he
was not all she had expected to find him, nor all that she was entitled
to expect to find him; he was even conscious, but more dimly, that he
was not quite all that he had meant to be; no, nor all that, in her eyes,
he should have liked to be. Yet, in the end, he was a successful man, and
she must know it. True, he had not rolled up any such enormous fortune as
that of Granger Bates, nor did he make in the public eye any such
splendid and enviable figure. All the same, however, he could command the
world to the extent of three million dollars; nor was he displeased
that his caller should have come at a time when indications of future
prosperity greater still were so patent all over the premises.

Mrs. Bates smoothed her gloves upon each other and cast her eye over the
nutmegs and orris-root and the other furnishings of the apartment, and
heaved a little sigh and rose to go.

"I am glad to have had these few minutes with you, David; but I feel that
I have no right to take up any more of them. I am sure this _is_ your
busy day, after all."

She looked up into his face, which was coming once more to be overcast
with its accustomed aspect of preoccupation, and gave him her hand. He
took it kindly enough, and she bestowed on his a quiet little pressure.
It was hardly cordial; it was far indeed from effusive. Yet she had
hoped, half an hour before, to have it both.

"Ten years ago," she said, "I might have satisfied myself about you
without coming here at all." She stood at the end of his desk, and
stirred with an unconscious finger the loose memoranda in a wire basket
on the corner of it. "The papers used to speak of you, and now and then
something would come by word of mouth. But I am hearing less about you of
late. Hold your own, David. Don't let the world forget you. You have done
well, as I know, and you are entitled to your place in the public eye."

She looked him in the face, smilingly but very earnestly. "I had great
hopes for you in the early days, and I find that I am jealous for you
even yet. You have made a good deal of money, they tell me, and you are
getting ready to make a good deal more--_that_ I see for myself. But
doesn't it seem to you," she proceeded, carefully, "that things are
beginning to be different?--that the man who enjoys the best position and
the most consideration is not the man who is making money, but the man
who is giving it away--not the man who is benefiting himself, but the man
who is benefiting the community. _There_ is an art to cultivate,
David--the art of giving. Give liberally and rightly, and nothing can
bring you more credit."

Marshall regarded her with a dubious smile. Nobody had ever before
attempted to fit his head to such a cap as this.

"As I have said so many times to Mr. Bates, 'Make it something that
people can _see_.' Imagine a man disposed to devote two or three hundred
thousand dollars to the public, and giving it to help pay off the
municipal debt. How many people would consider themselves benefited by
the gift, or would care a cent for the name of the giver? Or fancy his
giving it to clean up the streets of the city. The whole affair would be
forgotten with the coming of the next rain-storm. 'No,' said I to
Granger, it must be something solid and something permanent; it must
be a building.' And it's _going_ to be a building. You drive out with me
to the University campus this time next year, David, and you'll see Bates
Hall--four stories high, with dormers and gables and things, and the name
carved in gray-stone over the doorway, to stay there for the next century
or two. I think I shall name it Susan Lathrop Bates Hall (Granger is
willing), and make it a girls' dormitory. They'll call the girls
'Susans,' I dare say; but I sha'n't mind, and I don't suppose they will
either. Besides, boys would be sure to be called 'Grangers,' so what's
the difference?" She smiled whimsically, and made a feint to depart.

"But there are plenty of other things," she paused to impart. "People are
always running to us about schools and hospitals. A few loose thousands,
for example, would help the Orchestra guarantee--Granger has contributed
there, too. And lately he has been approached about an endowed theater.
There are plenty of ways."

"Your husband is fond of music?"

"Oh, well, he doesn't object to it. He can sit out an evening in our box
very comfortably. But a man of his position is naturally expected to
support a great artistic enterprise. Besides, Granger thinks a good deal
of the reputation of the city."

"Yes, there are plenty of ways, as you say," the old man rejoined, with
his preoccupied smile. "The 'charity' page of our ledger shows that. No
man in business is allowed to forget his obligations to the 'public.' I
am just beginning to become acquainted with the public--our public. A
justice-court is a good place for us to learn what it is and who compose
it, and what their attitude is toward us--the public that we are expected
to do so much for."

Mrs. Bates, with her hand on the door-knob, felt herself obliged to
decline this theme so tardily introduced--though the old man's tart tone
promised great possibilities. She would have thanked David Marshall for a
prompter contribution of conversational material; she felt that her own
efforts during this interview had been out of all proportion to his. She
made no response, and he stepped forward to conduct her through the outer
office to her carriage. "You needn't go through all those porters again,"
he said.

Just inside the outer doorway stood two gentlemen; their faces were
turned towards the street as they watched the preparations for the upward
trip of a great length of metallic cornice. "Why," said Mrs. Bates, as
one of them turned half round, "isn't that Tom Bingham, now?"

"Yes," said Marshall; "he looks in occasionally."

"How do you do, Mr. Bingham?" she said, hastening up to him with a jocular
cast in her eye. She knew the Bingham Construction Company as the
builders of a score of handsome residences, and of as many of the vast
structures which towered all over the business district. It seemed droll
to her to find him here, giving personal heed to mere alterations and
repairs. "What will be the next thing--building-blocks? Let me send you a
box of them, I beg of you."

Bingham turned round altogether--a tall, stalwart man whose face was full
of the serenity that comes from breadth and poise, but whose mind, as she
herself knew well enough, was too habituated to the broad treatment of
big matters to have any aptitude for repartee and chatter. She liked to
disconcert him, and it was usually an easy thing to do. "And I wish,
while you have your hand in, you would just come up and nail some
weather-strips on my dining-room windows."

Bingham smiled slightly. "Send on your blocks," he said--"if you think
they will help me any _there_." He pointed towards the cornices of the
building opposite. Above their broken skyline a tall steel frame (on the
next street behind) rose some two hundred feet into the air; along the
black lines which its upper stage etched against the sky a dozen men
swarmed in spidery activity and sent down the sharp clang of metal on
metal to the noisier world below.

"Mine, too," he said, shortly, as if the vast monument were its own
sufficient spokesman. He seemed proud of himself and of the town where
such things could be accomplished.

Mrs. Bates flashed forth a look full of admiration for both man and work.
"I'll take that all back about the weather-strips; but if you _could_
bring up your kit to-morrow morning and make us an extra coal-bin in the
furnace-room---Too proud for that, too? Well, then, just come up to
dinner to-morrow evening--only the family. And bring your sister, if
she'll accept on such short notice."

The other gentleman, whom Mrs. Bates had overlooked, and indeed
forgotten, turned round. "You know Mr. Belden, Mrs. Bates?" was
Marshall's introduction.

Belden was a man between forty-five and fifty. His costume and
countenance were alike much more contemporaneous than his partner's. His
dress was self-consciously fashionable, and he wore a carefully trained
mustache, whose dark brown was beginning to show threads of gray. His
cheeks and his forehead seemed in their smoothness as if coated with some
impermeable and indestructible hard-finish. He had a resolute chin and a
pair of hard, steel-gray eyes, which were set much too close together to
leave great room for any attribution of an open-minded generosity. He and
Mrs. Bates, under Marshall's promptings, bowed icily, and a cold and
chilling silence immediately ensued.

"Just like me," said Mrs. Bates, as she effected a hurried departure,
"to blunder up against him as I did. I wonder if he and David get along
at all well together. And the idea of my extending invitations to dinner
under his very nose! Well, it can't be helped now."

She thought this the only offence of which Belden might accuse her. But
he was piqued by her apparent disparagement of their building, and he was
still more incensed by her having called on his partner at their place of
business. For Marshall must know--everybody must know--that the Beldens,
though neighbors of the Bateses, had never been admitted, and never
were to be admitted, into their house.

Belden stood behind the vast spread of dingy plate-glass, and watched
Bingham putting Mrs. Bates into her carriage. He found additional offence
in the gay nod which she sent to Marshall through the carriage window.

"In spite of you," he muttered; "we are moving up in spite of you.
Prevent us, if you can!"



VIII


Susan Bates drove homeward, filled with a vague dissatisfaction. "I
expected too much," she said to herself, as she half opened the door
again to free the skirt that Bingham had fastened there. "I ought to have
chosen a different time and place. I might have known that he would be
deep in his business--I ought not to have taken him with the harness
actually on his back."

She sighed as she thought of all the things she had meant to say, but had
come away without saying--the thousand and one minor reminiscences of
those early days in the straggling and struggling prairie town. She had
imagined a mutual evocation of the past, and it had not been
accomplished. But presently consolation came: she realized all at once
that her present mood was but one of those early reminiscences made
modern. She recalled now how many times he had taken his departure from
that little parlor, leaving her to feel just as she felt now--piqued,
balked, impatient over his slow, taciturn, unresponsive ways. But her
impatience and her pique had always passed off in due time, and he had
always returned, his same kindly and inscrutable self. "I believe he
meant to do the best he could. Anyway, I shall follow things up, all the
same," she declared to the opposite cushions. Her thought deflected in
the direction of Belden. "I wonder how they get along together. He is not
at all the man that I should think of David being associated with--as a
matter of choice. I never heard how the partnership began. I never
understood why it kept up so long as it has."

The partnership, as a matter of fact, dated back twenty years, and had
originated through a kind of crisis in the affairs of Marshall & Co.--the
only weak spot in the history of the firm. After several years of
unbroken prosperity, David Marshall (with thousands of others) had been
overtaken by fire. A year or two later fire was followed by panic, and
Marshall felt himself crowded towards the brink of ruin. In a moment of
weakness he permitted himself a course to which only so great an
emergency could have prompted him. The situation was saved by a species
of legerdemain--of card-shuffling, so to speak--which was quite outside
the lines of mercantile morality, and barely inside the lines of legality
itself. An instrument willing to lend itself to this feat of juggling was
needed, and was found in a pushing young fellow who left a rival house to
play discreetly and shrewdly the rôle of figure-head that the juncture
required. Marshall had long ago made full amends to the men whose
welfare he had temporarily sacrificed to his own salvation, but he had
never shaken off Belden, who remained constantly as a reminder of his
early and only lapse from rectitude. In moments when conscience became
tender under the quickening touch of reminiscence, Belden was upon him
not only as a punishment, but as an incubus.

Belden had never yielded a single inch of the foothold gained by his
sudden intrusion upon the affairs of the concern. His first demand was
for the headship of a department; he had required, next, an interest as a
partner; he had exacted, more lately, the presence of his name in the
style and title of the firm; and to-day he was moving towards the making
of the firm over into a stock company. He was younger than Marshall,
stronger, more aggressive, more ambitious, more adventuresome; nor was it
difficult to imagine him as fundamentally insolent and selfish.

His standard of mercantile morality was never higher than at the
beginning, and his standard of social propriety was felt to leave much to
desire. His first entry into the firm seemed to have been accompanied by
a clairvoyant confidence and assurance and ambition. He was understood to
have divorced his first wife, an amiable, faithful, but limited little
creature, under circumstances of some cruelty, and even barbarity, to
form a second union more in harmony with his mounting ideas for the
future. A subtle atmosphere of distaste and disapproval had enveloped him
and his for many years, and the social advances of himself and his wife
had been, however determined, but slow--almost imperceptible.

Finally, what could not be accomplished in the West was accomplished, to
some extent, in the East. Statira Belden was of New England origin; her
family had resided for years in a small town which the taste of a few
Boston families of consideration was turning into a summer resort. They
contrived their cottages, and she contrived hers. She discreetly
renovated the old "homestead," as she called it, and arranged to reside
in eastern Massachusetts through the summer season. She made a few
careful acquaintances among her neighbors, and presently found it
possible to spend a profitable and distinguished winter month in the Back
Bay. One step more brought her to her goal. Social exchange between
Boston and New York being practically at par, she passed from one town to
the other with an unimpaired currency. In Manhattan she was received with
sufficient frequency by people sufficiently distinguished, and
announcements in correspondence with the facts were borne westward by
various metropolitan dailies and weeklies. She herself followed, in due
course; she had now conquered a certain foothold at home, and her
progress there was distinctly perceptible.

The last stronghold of the opposition existed, much to her mortification,
in her own immediate neighborhood, where a stubborn little clique (as she
called it) continued, under the leadership of Susan Bates, to ignore her.
The Belden carriage-block, measuring diagonally across the street, was
three hundred feet from that of the Bateses, but the distance might as
well have been three hundred miles. Mrs. Bates, who, on some occasion or
other, had met her face to face, continued to hold sturdily the
impression that her eyes were at once too furtive and too bold, and that
her hair was too yellow for a woman of her age; "or, for that matter, too
yellow for a woman of _any_ age."

In view of these considerations and others, Mrs. Bates was the reverse of
pleased when Jane, one morning, came up to her little room, sat down on
the foot of the bed, and announced that Mrs. Belden, among others, was
likely to be bidden to Rosy's coming-out.

"Ma doesn't like her so extra well," Jane admitted, candidly; "she thinks
they might have done something for Rosy this past summer. But it would
seem awful to pa if his own partner's wife wasn't asked; and, besides, we
don't know so very many people _to_ ask, anyway."

Mrs. Bates had made her advances in due form to the women of the Marshall
family. Throughout the call the talk had been frankly, inevitably
personal, and Susan Bates had treated Eliza Marshall, whose difficult and
captious character she at once apprehended, with the most elaborate and
ingenious simplicity. Rosy was passed in review and then dexterously
dispensed with, after having aroused the caller's interest and approval;
and the subsequent talk ran along quite freely on the child's deserts and
prospects. Mrs. Bates was quite direct and unadorned; and, though Rosy's
future was the only common ground upon which the two women could meet,
yet she handled this material with such a sympathetic persistence that
Eliza Marshall was fain to believe that she and her caller had been knit
in a close community of interests from time immemorial.

Mrs. Bates divined readily enough that nothing would be more galling to
Eliza Marshall than a betrayal of her own social ignorance. "How glad we
ought to be," she said, in an innocent, left-handed fashion, "that girls
are no longer brought out at a crush. Imagine, once more, that crowd of
people surging up and down your stairs, and trampling each other
underfoot as they try to dance in a room not a quarter big enough, and
ten times too many poor flowers wilting all over the house, and a big
band of music going it for dear life, and fifty or a hundred carnages
tangled up in a noisy crowd outside;--why go through all that for the
sake of getting a new little girl acquainted with a few of her mother's
friends?"

Eliza Marshall fastened her intent but inexpressive gaze upon her
caller's face and said never a word. The function thus sketched by Mrs.
Bates was the precise function that for the past fortnight she had been
imagining and dreading. She had filled her secluded old parlors with the
squeak and the blare of music; alien draperies in their swift gyrations
had whisked her immemorial ornaments from her immemorial old "whatnot";
in the dining-room a squad of custard-colored waiters had opposed a firm
front to the hungry hordes that assaulted the various viands on the
table; and a thousand teasing points of form and usage had afflicted her
with worry, uncertainty, and possible mortification and despair. She saw
now that nothing like her imagined entertainment was desirable, or even
tolerable, to-day, and she gave unconsciously a little sigh of relief.

Mrs. Bates divined further that, having instructed ignorance, she must
now allay timidity. She must represent the coming function as a mere
bagatelle for simplicity and informality.

"Isn't it pleasant to think that things are being made so much easier
for us than they used to be? Otherwise, I should have been dead long
before this. Nothing to do but for our little girl to stand up with her
mother and two or three of her mother's friends in one room, and for two
or three other people to look after the tea and other things in some
other room off behind somewhere or other." Mrs. Bates waved her hand
genially towards the rear rooms. "When Lottie came out I said to Mrs.
Ingles, 'Now you must just take the tea part of it off my hands. Get
some girls for me--you know about the ones I want--and see that their
gowns are right; and then I shall be at peace, knowing that people are
nibbling their biscuits'--or crackers" (this in a tone unconsciously
expository)--"'dawdling with their spoons, as they ought to.' A few, of
course, really drank tea; but the others--well, they had had tea
somewhere half an hour before, or expected to have it somewhere half an
hour after. How tired we all get of this old rigmarole, don't we?"

Eliza Marshall bowed gravely. For her this tiresome old rigmarole was a
complete novelty. "Lyddy's niece," she said, turning to Jane; "that girl
from Madison--she could pour for one, couldn't she?"

"Sure," assented Jane. "_Our_ niece, too--sort o'," she added,
correctively; for Eliza Marshall made little of certain vague ties to a
half-brother.

Mrs. Bates cast her eye round the dim, old-fashioned room. One might have
fancied her as exploring for the portraits of two or three mature female
relations of the Marshalls.

"I don't know whether I am right in asking it," she began, with a
fetching pretence of hesitancy; "but I am an old friend of the family--in
a sense--and so interested in Rosy, too. If I might help you receive--"

Mrs. Marshall heard this proposal with a second little sigh of relief,
and accepted as a matter of course. Indeed, outside of Mrs. Rhodes--and
possibly Mrs. Belden--she had absolutely no one to whom she could turn.

"And Aunt Lyddy for another," said Jane.

"Yes," assented Mrs. Bates, in the tone of indorsement. "Mrs. Rhodes and
I are acquainted"--with a sly look towards Jane; "and there--with your
other sister, perhaps--our little party is made up."

"And about the people to be invited," Eliza Marshall proceeded, with some
little show of initiative. Her task was becoming less and less
formidable; she felt herself approaching this supposed ordeal with
something almost like buoyancy.

"Let's have it nice and little and cosey," suggested Mrs. Bates, with a
cosey little air of her own. "Twenty-five or thirty at the outside." She
wondered inwardly where even so small a number could be got. "Why, _six_
would do--if they were the right six! And why should we want more than
three carriages before the house at any one time?--not to have a man
shouting numbers, I hope!"

She drew her wraps together and rose to go. "If I might ask for cards for
one or two of my own friends?--nice, pleasant people, who would be glad
to become acquainted among the old families," she added, diplomatically.
"If she can only be kept from suspecting how swell they really are, till
it's all over!" was the good creature's inner thought. "Of course Rosy's
appearance here isn't public, nor any equivalent for it; that will come
later. I myself shall want to do something for her on the South side, and
there will be one or two good houses for her on the North side--oh, our
little duck will swim, when once put into the pond, as you shall see.
After _that_, we shall want only a kind papa to pay the bills and a
patient maid to sit up until three or four in the morning."

Mrs. Bates got herself away in great good-humor and kept that humor until
the following day, when Jane came to announce the participation of Mrs.
Belden.

"Have her pour tea!" cried Susan Bates, without a moment's hesitation.
"Let her come early, and let her stay late, and pour and pour and pour
until the last cup is drunk. I can't promise your mother that I shall be
there throughout, but I will be there for half an hour--during the
middle, perhaps. And tea--well, I never drink it, even at home."

Jane looked at her in some surprise.

"And don't let your mother change her rooms any," Mrs. Bates went on,
rapidly. "They're right as they are--in perfect agreement. They have a
quiet tone; and a low, quiet tone, after all, is the best thing--and the
hardest thing to get. And not too many flowers."

"Never fear," said Jane, grimly. "She won't change anything."

"And don't let her have too much on the table. Give them tea and
chocolate and sandwiches and Albert biscuits--that's plenty. And if your
second girl shows, a cap would do no harm. Put a slice of lemon in every
cup--that discourages lots of people."

Jane laughed. "But ma doesn't want to discourage her friends."

"My good girl," said Mrs. Bates, impressively, "this whole function has
only one object. That object is to show your sister for five minutes to
Cecilia Ingles."

"Oh, that's it?"

"That's it, and all of it."

Mrs. Bates's function came off on the appointed afternoon, and was so
limited in size and so simple in character that Eliza Marshall would have
reproached herself for slighting her own child, had not Susan Bates,
before her early departure, whispered in the old lady's ear a word of
complete approbation.

Rosy herself flashed and sparkled in the dim and depressing old parlor
like a garnet set in dull gold. Indeed, it must be confessed that she
showed some of the hard glitter of such a jewelled fabrication, as well
as its splendor. Cecilia Ingles, who could not but admire her beauty and
her readiness, thought that her tone was a little too hard, and that in
her excess of aplomb she pushed self-possession to the verge of
self-assertion. Rosy, in fact, entered society not with the tentative
step and slow advance of one who cautiously feels an unaccustomed way,
but by a single confident and intuitive leap. As she stood there beside
her mother, dressed in a pale yellow gown and playing carelessly with her
bunch of red roses, she shifted any embarrassment incident to the
occasion from her own shoulders to those of her mother's friends--two or
three of whom, retired and aging persons, withdrew feeling their own
social rustiness quite keenly.

Jane, who had no definite rôle to play, but who did general utility all
over the house, was enabled to observe various episodes from various
points of view. When the actual test came she had little more aptitude
for the social graces than her mother had, and she imitated her mother's
own cautious reserve. She did not meet Mrs. Ingles at all, but she
witnessed from a distant doorway the conjunction which Mrs. Bates
effected between the leading luminary of the day and the newly-discovered
asteroid. Jane ungrudgingly acknowledged Cecilia Ingles to be
magnificently beautiful, and her dress to be a miracle of taste, and her
advances to be most winningly gracious. "And she's just about my own age,
too," thought poor Jane, in half-unconscious comparison. "And the way
that little chit stands up there and talks to her! I couldn't, for a
hundred worlds. Rosy acts as if she was just as pretty herself--well, I
suppose she is; and of just as good position--h'm, _that's_ all
right enough, I'm sure; and just as used to the ways of the world--well,
so she will be, fast enough." And the dear girl gave a long slow
sigh--partly that the family had at last such a champion, partly that she
herself should have been doomed to such complete uselessness in so high a
cause. She quite failed to realize that she alone and no other was the
real motive-power of her family's tardy spurt.

As for Mrs. Bates, Jane caught quite another side of her. She showed
herself profoundly formal and punctilious. She seemed to have dilated for
the occasion, with the express determination of dominating it. "She acts
mighty queer," said honest Jane, who was the same to one and all, to-day
and tomorrow; "but I suppose she knows what tone to take. If she acts
like that, though, the next time I see her, I shall want to stop knowing
her. She calls it a 'function,' and I suppose she's trying to make it
like one. But one's enough."

Jane observed, furthermore, that her aunt Lydia was inclined to neglect
her own part in the ceremony in order to perform pirouettes and
pigeon-wings (so to speak) before the backgammon-player of the tropics.
"If Aunt Lyddy forgets, after all," said Jane, anxiously, "and _does_
mention Florida, why, I've told a fib for nothing." Jane had informed
Mrs. Rhodes that the Bateses had lost their youngest child at
Jacksonville, and so could not bear the slightest mention of the South;
though she knew perfectly well that the youngest child of the Bateses was
a lusty youth of eighteen, with strong hopes of becoming one of the Yale
football team next season.

In the midst of the ceremonial Truesdale sauntered in and passed through
the rooms with a graceful indifference; he was the last to be
disconcerted by an assemblage purely feminine. He had doffed for the hour
most of his imported eccentricities in the way of dress, and had
consented to appear, properly enough, in a double-breasted black
frock-coat with extremely long skirts. He had an orchid in his
button-hole--a large one, very vivid and flamboyant. Jane had looked,
rather, for a chrysanthemum--one of those immeasurable blooms worn by the
young men in _Life_. "But Dick _will_ be individual," she acknowledged.
"Thank goodness it wasn't a peony, or worse. He _does_ look nice, if he
is my brother; and he's the only young man I know with violet eyes."

Truesdale drifted into the tea-room, and Jane presently saw him lounging
in a chair alongside Bertie Patterson. The table was officered after the
fashion that Mrs. Bates had suggested--by Mrs. Belden, who, in the
absence of her own daughter, kept away by illness, had brought, instead,
another girl, her daughter's friend, a visitor from New York. Truesdale
failed to catch her name.

Mrs. Belden herself was somewhat large and inclined to be a bit
high-colored and full-blown. An excess of blond down lined her cheeks
just below and before her ears, and her light-colored eyebrows spread
themselves rather broadly and dispersedly on her forehead. A superfluity
of straw-colored hair, of a shade essentially improbable waved about her
ears and temples, and a high gold comb emphasized the loose knot into
which it was drawn behind. "She would do better on the stage," Truesdale
said to himself; "she has gotten herself up for the photographer. And if
all those rings are her own, she has more than any one woman needs."

The girl with her, whose name presently came to him as Gladys--"Gladys
what?" he wondered--let herself loose on him at once with a fusillade of
ready familiarities. The field was clear, for Bertie Patterson, at his
side, had few words to interpose. Her large brown eyes rested half
appealingly upon him in the intervals of her constrained and halting
little service, and he readily divined the poor child as in a lonely and
uncomfortable minority.

"To-day is only my second time," she said to him, with a kind of
appealing protest; "you mustn't watch me and criticise me." She had just
finished her ministrations on a pair of old-time family friends whom
Rosy, in the fulness of her social efflorescence, had banished for
consolation and reassurance to the tea-room. Somehow, the guests that had
fallen to her side of the table had all been of this character. "When was
the first?"

"Why, don't you know? The day you--you--"

"Oh, _that_ day!" laughed Truesdale. "I didn't know you were there, of
course. You must have thought me absurd."

"No; not--not--absurd. But on such a long, wide street, with so many
handsome houses all around--"

Truesdale smiled. "Poor little thing! I believe she admires Michigan
Avenue; I believe she's impressed by it." To him this thoroughfare was
not completely innocent of the cheap and vulgar restlessness which is the
dominant note of all American street architecture. "But let her admire
it, if she can. Think what I expected to find Piccadilly!"

"I enjoy driving down it so much," she continued, confidentially, yet
with a shy little look as if trying to learn whether her confidence was
misplaced. "Aunt Lydia and I go shopping almost every day."

"Ten kilometres down and back," estimated Truesdale; "ten kilometres of
luxury and grandeur--don't let it overpower you. And you are learning
where the shops are, I suppose, and the theatres, and the post-office,
perhaps, and the hotels, and what all besides."

"No," said Bertie Patterson, proudly; "I knew all that before I came.
There are books, you know--and maps. I studied them at home beforehand."

Truesdale had never seen any of the books, but he thought their existence
probable enough. He remembered, to, his own maps--how he had become
familiar with the London clubs long before walking through Pall Mall, and
how he knew where to find all the Paris theatres years previous to his
first stroll along the Boulevard. "And you have been to all the high
places, I suppose?"

"I've been to the top of the Masonic Temple."

"And to the places were they have the sun-dials, and the gates ajar, and
the American flag made of--of--Heaven knows what?"

"The parks? Yes, we have been to one or two of them, but we were a little
late for all those lovely things; most of them had been dug up."

"Lovely things!" groaned Truesdale. "Fancy them in the Bois or along the
Row--or anywhere but here!" Yet he felt sure that she had his own
fondness for pleasure-grounds and points of view. She had doubtless
anticipated the Masonic Temple and Washington Park, just as he had
anticipated the Pincian and the Tower of the Capitol. His fellow-feeling
forgave her this crudity; after all, she was praising what she had never
seen.

"I've been to your parks myself," the other girl broke in, as she glanced
round the vase of chrysanthemums from the other side of the table. "But
if you want to see a park, come to New York." She was rather abrupt and
boisterous; Truesdale wondered if she had not at one time been a tomboy.

"And I know where ever so many of the society people live," Bertie went
on in a low tone, which implored him not to repeat, and above all not to
laugh. "I saw a book once with all their addresses, and I marked the
places on the map."

Truesdale did smile here--crumbling, the while, a biscuit on the corner
of the table. He smiled, not because she had seemed to refer to society
people as a distinct and unique order of beings, but from pure sympathy.
He himself had placed Stafford House and Bridgewater House and all the
other town residences of the English aristocracy in those same days when
he had found sites for the Pall Mall clubs.

"Yes," she went on, "I know where Mrs. Bates lives, and Mrs. Ingles, and
lots of other prominent people."

"Upon my word!" cried Truesdale, in generous emulation. "Just what I did
in Paris. I went all up and down the Rue de Crenelle and the Rue St.
Dominique trying to select the right sort of hotels--houses, you
know--for the Viscountess of Beauseant and the Duchess of Langeais and
the Princess Galathionne, and all those great ladies in Balzac--in
Balzac's novels," he added, considerately.

"But Mrs. Bates isn't in a novel?"

"Oh no; she's real, I hope. So you have covered the North side and the
South side and all? You know us through and through?"

"This talk about 'sides'!" the girl opposite broke in again. She took the
other way round the chrysanthemums. "We have 'sides' in New York, but
nobody you know lives on them. Fancy nice people scattered in squads all
over a city and having their shops and clubs and theatres all jumbled up
in the middle along with everything else! It's horrid."

Truesdale nodded across to the girl and smiled brightly. He wondered if
she were really quite second-rate.

"Where do you suppose I went night before last with Aunt Lydia?" Bertie
resumed, as she fingered the remaining two or three of a row of shining
teaspoons. "To the opera"--in an awe-struck undertone; "to _Rig-o-letto_.
Aunt Lydia couldn't get a box--she said they were all taken for the
season; but we had seats close to one side, just below the boxes. Such a
grand place! Ever since the Auditorium was opened I've been hoping to see
it, and now I have."

"Congratulations!" cried Truesdale, heartily, and Mrs. Belden turned
round to see the reason for it. He remembered how he himself had panted
for the Scala, and for the Apollo at Rome--that poor Apollo, razed to the
ground before ever he could behold its historic stage.

"I've been to your opera myself," the other girl proclaimed. "What was
the matter with all the box people, anyway? They seemed afraid to assert
themselves. I never saw a lot of rich people so cowed-like."

"Do you mean that they kept quiet during the performance?" asked
Truesdale. "The effect _was_ rather primitive, wasn't it? Whenever
_I_ sing I always ask the whole room to shout-especially if somebody
shows any sign of listening."

"And I thought they looked pretty plain, too," the girl volunteered
further. "If you want to see style and display, take the Metropolitan on
a real gala night. I didn't see half a dozen necklaces among your
people--and not a single tiara."

"You should have worn yours," declared Truesdale, genially. "Every one
would have helped." Yes, she seemed second-rate, truly, and the worst
type of a second-rate person at that--the second-rate person away from
home. "Let _her_ have them," he whispered to Bertie, as a brace of
new-comers crossed the threshold.

"She'll take them anyway," said Bertie, ruefully. She did not at all seem
to realize the greater triumph of completely monopolizing the one man
present.

"I wanted to walk in the foy--in the place where they promenade," Bertie
went on; "such a lovely place, and such a grand crush under all those
yellow arches! But we didn't have any gentleman," she concluded, lamely.

"Never mind; you'll have one next time," responded Truesdale; gallantly.
"I'm awfully fond of that place, already--the whole of it. It's one of
the few good things they've got here. It's the only place in town where
you can see any number of nice people together."

"Oh, really," protested Mrs. Belden, speaking to him for the first time.
She had decided that he was worth talking to, as well as concluded that
his attentions had been given too exclusively to one side of the table.
"Oh, really, now!" Her voice was thickly, sweetly sibilant. "I shall hope
to show you that you are wrong. Gladys, child, remind me to send this
young man a card for a week from Wednesday."

"Very well," answered Truesdale; "I'm perfectly willing to be convinced.
Only don't ask me to a dinner--I can't sit through a dinner. A little bit
of a tea--well, that's different." And he turned his friendly eyes in the
direction of Bertie Patterson.

"It isn't a dinner," said Mrs. Belden, as brusquely as her vocalization
would allow. "It's--" But a new-comer advanced, and she turned to
manipulate her teapot with her large, fair, plump hands.

Bertie Patterson smiled at Truesdale in return. She seemed to consider
herself indebted to him not only for that vague promise of future
festivities, but for a certain degree of moral support at a juncture
which might have brought her mortification, if not actual tears.

"What a downright nice little soul she is, anyway!" thought Truesdale.
"There are nice good girls in this world, after all, and some of them are
right here. And how she idealizes this brutal and ugly town! If only she
doesn't idealize _me_!"

Truesdale had been idealized more than once before. Sometimes the result
had been merely embarrassing, sometimes disastrous.



IX


It may be remembered that Truesdale, in making an estimate of the
resources of his native town upon the occasion of his return to it, had
scheduled the five-o'clock tea as the last resource of all. If we find
him present, then, at such a function, we may imagine him to have found
the possibilities of local entertainment much slighter than he had
figured, and time already hanging somewhat heavily on his hands.

Nor need we make any allowance for the fact that the debutante was his
sister, and the scene of her coming-out his own mother's house. The
catholic tolerance of his sympathies was such as to make his interest in
his relatives, as relatives, no greater than his interest in other people
whose general qualities would be likely to receive equal recognition from
the world at large; and his outlook was so broad as to make his father's
house but one of many houses, and to subject happenings in it to the same
criterion as would be used to judge and rate the happenings in any other
house throughout Christendom. Truesdale considered himself as admirably
and flawlessly a cosmopolite.

Yes, he had done his sister's tea, but not until he had done almost
everything else. He went to the few good concerts that offered, he made a
fortnightly visit to the art stores, and he patronized (so far as he
could endure them) the theatres--the chief and final resource of the
town. But the concerts were a factor far from constant; and the theatres
offered scarcely once a month a play that a person of taste and
intelligence cared to sit through. Abroad he had been a valiant
first-nighter; but he learned presently that at home the house for a
premiere was composed largely of people whose tickets came from the
exposition of theatre "paper" throughout the week in their
storefronts--it was on Monday evening that they were paid off; and
he found himself little disposed to join in judgment with a raft of small
shop-keepers, until he recollected that a premiere was not a premiere,
after all--the play's footing having already been secured at some other
place, at some other time, before some other audience.

As for the picture-dealers, he complained that a canvas of any importance
was likely to be displayed after a fashion frankly mercantile, in the
show-window of the shop--a step which met more than halfway the public
demand for free art, but which unjustly caused many an original to be
taken for a copy. "Perhaps, though," he would say, "the public has got so
far along as to judge of a picture independent of its surroundings.
Possibly the crimson draperies and the row of gas-jets have really come
to be superfluous."

He missed, furthermore, many of his accustomed pleasures and
conveniences. He was astonished to find a metropolis without a promenade.
True, on Sunday afternoons there was a good deal of strolling up and down
along a half-mile of the lake shore; but he never observed that the
people whose houses overlooked all this strolling ever took any part in
it, and he never learned that they enjoyed this diversion anywhere else.
"Singular," he said; "no concerted walking or driving. No understanding
as to any time for it; no understanding as to any place for it. Not the
slightest social organization for out-door life; how much there must
be"--(with a backward thought towards Rosy's debut)--"in-doors--somewhere!"

He deplored the absolute non-existence of the institution known as the
café--all the more, in view of the long months of waiting that must
intervene before he should be able to gain membership in some club. The
café, that crowning gem in the coronet of civilization--the name was
everywhere, the thing nowhere. Nothing offered save a few large places of
general and promiscuous resort, which, under one ameliorative title or
another, dispensed prompt refreshment amid furnishings of the most
reverberant vulgarity.

"It's impossible!" he said in one of these places one day to one of his
artists, a new-comer from Milan. "Either you stand here in front of this
counter facing all that superfluous glassware, and that cheap young man
with the dreadful hair, and the reflections of all those hideous daubs
behind you, or else you retire to one of those cubby-holes along the side
there and make the disposal of a bottle of light beer seem a disreputable
orgy or a dark conspiracy, or a combination of both."

"Not one word against the pictures," replied the other. "How else here do
I live?"

"No journals," pursued Truesdale; "no demi-tasse, no clientèle, no
leisure. No," he added, with the idea of a more general summing up, "nor
any excursions; nor any general market; nor any military; nor even any
morgue. And five francs for a cab. _Quelle ville_!"

To Truesdale the café was the great social foothold; it was here that he
was accustomed to meet on common ground the whole male section of
society. It was to the café that he would like to lead his young
water-colorist with the portfolio of views from rural Missouri, or his
last new poet with his thin little volume so finely flattened out between
the two millstones of journalism and literature--neither of which, alone,
could have ground him out his grist in livable quantities. In the absence
of the café he led two or three such to the house. It was like thrusting
a lighted candle into a jar of nitrogen. The candle went out at once. And
never came back. To David Marshall, art in all its forms was an
inexplicable thing; but more inexplicable still was the fact that any man
could be so feeble as to yield himself to such trivial matters in a town
where money and general success still stood ready to meet any live,
practical fellow half-way--a fellow, that was to say, who knew an
opportunity when he saw it. The desire of beauty was not an inborn
essential of the normal human being. Art was not an integral part of the
great frame of things; it was a mere surface decoration, and the artist
was but for the adornment of the rich man's triumph--in case the rich man
were, on his side, so feeble as to need to have his triumph adorned. He
himself had taken hold of practical things at an early age; he had made
something out of nothing--a good deal out of nothing; and compared with
this act of creation the fabrication of verses or of pictures was a
paltry affair, indeed.

He was willing enough that his daughters should improve themselves; he
was even proud, in a way, of Jane's ability to keep step with the general
advance of female culture. But for any such turn in one of his sons he
had no sympathy, no patience. He conferred with Truesdale on the possible
reorganization of the business, and put before him the appositeness of
his coming in at such a time; but Truesdale would lift his brows and suck
his lips and study the pattern of the carpet, and mumble something about
packing his trunk and "going somewhere."

His days, in fact, were becoming long--inordinately so; it was to his
evenings that he was coming to look exclusively for diversion. He made
the most of these; he drew them out as long as possible--to
counterbalance the days. He seldom came home before midnight, frequently
not before two or three in the morning; occasionally not at all. In
company with three or four choice spirits, Arthur Paston and his like, he
turned night into day, and was seen now and then at such conjunction of
place and time as would well have justified an explanation to the
sober-minded or even to the comparatively correct. Like his other
associates on these occasions, he still retained the enviable faculty of
being able to "be nice to nice people"; but he acknowledged his taste and
his sensibilities both to be badly lacerated, and he confessed now and
then with a sigh that he had never amused himself so indifferently in his
life.

His sense of ennui was, in fact, driving him out upon society; and the
hopes of his sister, which had drooped somewhat after their first
leaving-out, now began to lift themselves again. Jane, on reviewing
Rosy's début, had arrived at a juster estimate of her own share in it;
she had launched one member of the family very satisfactorily, and she
felt herself prompted to the launching of another.

Rosy was now in the full tide of success. The edge of the wedge had been
set with singular acumen, and the two or three smart blows that followed
had opened up society to her in a twinkling. She had appeared at a few of
the best houses, and had at once entered upon a vogue. Her mirror was
always full of cards, her cards were always full of names, and her own
name was always filling the newspapers. She figured in boxes at
theatre-parties, in booths at fancy fairs. She had already poured tea at
six receptions, and had acted as bridesmaid at two weddings. An incessant
stream had run from the six teapots, and nobody had looked at the two
brides. Jane would sit up in the dim library through the small hours
waiting for Rosy's ring and planning corresponding triumphs for
Truesdale.

Her first and chiefest task was to get him to take society seriously. He
had professed himself as unable to put his finger on it; he asked her
where it was to be found--what was the general platform on which it met.
At the Charity Ball, she had answered him--rightly, perhaps; wrongly,
perhaps. Let us waive the point.

"Then to the Charity Ball I shall go," he had answered, promptly.

"Will you?" shrilled Jane. "Oh, goody! And you won't be disappointed,
either. It's the one great, magnificent thing of the year. Everybody
goes. And they have 'C-h-a-r-i-t-y' in electric lights, and palm-trees,
and champagne, and two different places to eat supper in." Jane had never
attended one of these entertainments; her wealth of picturesque detail
was gathered from the newspapers.

"Ouf!" said Truesdale, indifferently, discounting the magnificence. He
had been to one ball at the British embassy in Rome, and to another at
the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, and did not expect to be impressed. He
rather looked to find this coming occasion like the latter--a
heterogeneous assemblage of elements whose value was doubtful separately
and not much greater collectively.

Jane ran to her fairy godmother; through Mrs. Bates everything appeared
possible. "You must put him on the committee," said Jane; "or you must
make him a floor-manager or something." Jane's head swam with a social
vertigo; she could call spirits from the vasty deep and feel perfectly
sure of their coming.

"Very well," responded Mrs. Bates; "a floor-manager he shall be."

"He'll do it splendidly, too," declared Jane; "he's so alert, and so
self-possessed, and so awfully graceful and good-looking. Just the right
height, and a very handsome figure--don't you think?"

"Too slender."

"Well, of course he's no slugger," retorted Jane, whose thought turned
suddenly towards the youthful footballist at Yale. "Yes," she went on,
"he's got plenty of assurance and readiness, and he'll do beautifully--if
he'll just be disposed to take the trouble. Only--only he doesn't know
anybody, hardly," was her dubious conclusion.

"Never mind," returned Mrs. Bates, genially; "lots of 'em he couldn't
know--there's too many; and lots of 'em he wouldn't want to know. He can
jump about, I imagine, and see that other people are kept jumping about
too. The fewer he knows the better he'll do his work."

She looked at Jane steadily for a moment or two. "One thing more; I want
you to come and sit in my box."

"Me!" squealed Jane. "Oh-h-h!" It was a complicated cry; it indicated
surprise, gratitude, self-depreciation, and (before all) a sense of
divided duty.

Mrs. Bates, all unsuspected by her subject, had taken Jane in hand a
month ago, and had made her at length fairly presentable. Incidentally
she had made herself a martyr. "But never mind," she would say; "the poor
child doesn't know how to do herself justice, so somebody else has got to
do it for her."

After a pretty thorough canvass of Jane--her hands, her hair, her dress,
her carriage, her complexion--she began operations. She went, for
example, to a widely celebrated beautifier, as well as to other dealers
in those lotions and cosmetics which have secured the recommendation of
various singers and professional beauties, and she took Jane with her.
The good woman pretended alarm at the state of her complexion--as if her
robust health, her careful table, her good allowance of sleep, her active
circulation, and her hundred varied forms of daily exercise all went for
naught. So she sat in "parlors" with cloths tied round her neck, and let
people smear her with creams and prod her with electric needles and work
their will on her for the removal of all the "facial blemishes" that
flesh is heir to.

"My dear girl," she would call over her shoulder to Jane, "I know this is
awfully tiresome to you, and it must be very painful to see your old
friend suffering so; but if you will just wait patiently for ten or
fifteen minutes more--"

"Oh, don't mind me," Jane would respond, outwardly bored, but inwardly
interested. "I'm getting along all right. Go on enjoying your sufferings
as long as you please." And after a few of these forenoons Jane had
realized her own imperfections, and had learned the means of getting
round them.

Then Mrs. Bates would convey her unconscious pupil to the hair-dresser's.
She would abandon her gray tresses to the manipulations of operatives
skilled to show the possibilities of the natural material and the magical
supplementary powers of the unnatural; every frown occasioned by a tug,
every tear produced by a tangle, was borne cheerfully for the sake of an
ultimate good, and Jane acquired indirectly a complete knowledge of
all those preparations and processes which her preceptress felt her needs
required.

"Yes, my hair _is_ thinning on the forehead," Mrs. Bates would admit. "If
you should happen to have the precise match...."

The match was always difficult, but Jane did not fail to observe how easy
the same would be for herself.

Then Mrs. Bates would have her manicure at the house twice as often as
before, to increase the chance of her being on hand some morning when
Jane should drop in. "Try it yourself--just to see what it's like," she
would suggest; and her own plump and shapely hands would yield their
place on the small red velvet cushion to the long and graceless fingers
of her protégée. And presently the other processes--the soakings, the
washings, the rubbings--would follow.

She also recommended exercise--dumb-bells, for example.

"What's the matter with fencing?" asked Jane. "Truesdale, you know; he's
awfully good to me." She might have found it difficult to cite any
definite example of Truesdale's goodness; perhaps she meant merely that
he never snubbed her, never hectored her.

"Better yet. Fencing by all means."

Jane, moreover, always accompanied Mrs. Bates to the milliner's and to
the dress-maker's. They priced things, debated things, and tried on
things--on themselves, on each other, on the attendants. Mrs. Bates
purchased lavishly for herself, and suggested lavishly in regard to
purchases by Jane.

"You'd better have this," she would say. "It becomes you first-rate--you
won't find anything nicer."

"But the price!" Jane would demur. For Mrs. Bates frequented the most
expensive places, and spent money with a prodigal recklessness. "I can't;
it isn't right; I couldn't think of costing poor pa so much--especially
with Rosy and everything making such an expense for him."

"Nonsense. You're entitled to some of the good things of life, too. Your
father can stand it, I should hope. If he hasn't learned how to spend
money, it's high time he did. Have you any idea, you poor, simple soul,
what's he worth?"

"I suppose he is pretty well off," Jane would acknowledge, reluctantly,
indefinitely.

"Well off? I should say so! You ought to have twenty times what you do.
Let them send this home for you--I'll take the risk."

Thus in the course of a month or two Jane, to the bewilderment and
surprise of her mother and sisters and everybody else, became more
presentable than ever before in the whole course of her life. She fully
merited, in fact, the sincere encomium finally bestowed by Mrs. Bates
herself:

"There, now! You're not the worst-looking girl in this town--not by a
jugful!"

Jane was seriously affected by this unstinted praise, and she was almost
overwhelmed when her monitress showed the courage of her convictions by
offering a place in her box.

"Oh-h-h!" she mimicked, after Jane. "What does that mean? Will you or
won't you?"

"If I only could," said Jane; "it's the first thing of any account I've
had a chance at since I don't know when. But I've got another engagement
for that evening. I'm going to the university extension lecture with--I'm
going to the university extension lecture; it's my regular night." She
ended with a heavy downward inflection which she hoped was pronounced
enough to conceal the tell-tale dislocation that had preceded it.

"Indeed? Where does your lecture carry you?"

"Over on the West side--to that Settlement."

"Um. Bad neighborhood to be going into alone, at night."

"I'm not going alone," returned Jane, with a kind of fluttering
joyfulness.

"Oh! with some girl friends, then? Not much better--that way."

"I'm not going with any girl friends"--this accompanied by a perceptible
palpitation of delight. She looked at Mrs. Bates with eyes that seemed to
say, "Please go on; don't stop right there."

"Oh, then, that kind, good brother, perhaps," suggested Mrs. Bates--going
on.

"No, not that kind, good brother." Jane's face was fairly beaming.

"Some other kind, good young man, then."

"Yes," responded Jane, with a challenging light on her countenance; "some
other kind, good young man."

"Ah! And when does your lecture end?"

"At nine."

"Before the other thing begins. Of course the lecture is much too
instructive to lose, and then there's the fascination of a mile or two in
a dirty street-car; but couldn't you look in on us between ten and
half-past? The box is small, but I have a great fondness for those kind,
good young men. Couldn't you induce one of them--any one at all, of
course--to bring you, if he knew there was a place waiting for you both?"

"The gentleman who is going to escort me," began Jane, rising suddenly to
a very formal tone, "is--well, in fact, he--he doesn't go out very much,"
she proceeded, lapsing back into her former manner. "He's kind of quiet
and retiring. I don't believe he'd ever go to anything like this."

"Not when he's got a good place offered him--and a nice girl to take,
with a brand-new dress of just the right sort to go in? I should want a
beau of mine to have a little more spunk than that."

"How can you talk that way?" whimpered Jane, quite quivering with
pleasure. "I can't sit here and listen to anything like that. What
right"--with a feint of maiden indignation--"what right have you to say
that Mr. Br--that anybody is--is my--"

"Beau," supplied Mrs. Bates, serenely. "Beau--that's what I said.
Old-fashioned word, I know; but I can't think of a better one."

"You're just dreadful; you are," stammered Jane, trying to withdraw as
best she might from too pronounced an attitude of protest. She fingered
the length of ravelled bordering that drooped from the hair-cloth cushion
of her chair and ran an eye, pretendedly speculative, up and down the
pink and green stripes of Mrs. Bates's wall-paper.

"I'm pretty sure he wouldn't go--the gentleman who is to escort me to the
lecture," she said, with another return to her vain paraphrase. "He's
earnest. He's serious. Besides, he hasn't got a dress-coat."

"Hasn't got a dress-coat?"

"He doesn't approve of them. He thinks they're ugly and foolish and--and
not right. He believes that society is--well, not exactly wrong, but--"

"All the same," declared Mrs. Bates, "he will receive a ticket, and I
shall contrive to let him know that there's a place waiting for him."

"Oh, no! No, you mustn't! What would he ever think of me?"

"I shall, too."

"No! Don't--please don't. He wouldn't know what to think. He might think
that I--"

"I shall, too!" repeated Mrs. Bates, more loudly and stubbornly. "I
shall, too!" She knew that anything less marked than this would be a
chilling disappointment to the girl before her. "And if he hasn't got a
dress-coat, why, he can just get one. I'm sure if a young man cared
anything for me--"

"Oh, don't talk that way--please don't!" implored Jane, half hiding her
face with a kind of despairing joy. "Don't say such things, I beg of
you!"

"--I should expect him to make some little sacrifice for me," Mrs. Bates
completed. "Let him come and look at us; we may not be half so bad as he
imagines."

"Sacrifice." What a delightful and comforting sound the word had to Jane.
It vitalized in a moment all her story-reading of the past ten years.
That anybody should ever be moved to make a sacrifice for _her_!

"But he used to live in the Settlement," persisted Jane; "he used to work
there. He doesn't approve of Charity Balls; he thinks that isn't at all
the way to do things."

"Well," said Mrs. Bates, thoughtfully, "it's _a_ way; but there are
better ones, no doubt. Come, cut that lecture altogether. He could pick
up more in half an hour with me there at his elbow than he could learn in
half a dozen courses of lectures, however extended they were."

"And have you act as you acted at Rosy's afternoon? You'd paralyze us
both." Jane blushed at her "both."

"Oh, that's only my little way," returned Mrs. Bates, laughing. "You'd
_both_ understand." Jane blushed again. "A way," she repeated; "but there
are better ones, no doubt." And she laughed once more.



X


Bingham half folded the newspaper, and laid it again on Marshall's desk.
Then he settled his large, long figure back in Marshall's other chair,
and placed a broad finger or two upon each of its curved and varnished
arms.

"Yes," he observed, slowly, with a smile in the direction of the old man,
"the younger generation are holding up their end."

"So it seems," said Marshall, in return, while he scanned the other's
face closely to see what his precise meaning might be. Bingham's remark
had been uttered with an even intonation; it was difficult to determine
whether, after all, he had emphasized "younger" more than "generation,"
or "their" more than "end," or, indeed, whether he had given an undue
stress to either.

"Yes," the old man repeated. He made another reference to the newspaper.
"Yes; that is my child."

He fixed an eye, half fascinated, half protesting, upon a large cut which
was set to fill the width of two columns. It was a portrait of Rosy--of
"Miss Rosamund Marshall," as it read--with a line or two more, vaguely
biographical in character, in italics, beneath. It was engraved with more
than the usual care, and printed with more than the usual success.

This was the first time that any woman of his family had ever been
exposed in the public prints. "And here are five or six lines telling how
she was dressed. Is that right, Bingham?"

"Well, I'm no hand at describing. I suppose it reads correctly enough. At
any rate, Rosamund was the handsomest girl there, and the best
dressed--so several said--and the one who drew the most attention."

"Is that right, Bingham?" the old man repeated. He was accustomed enough
to the public presentation of other men's daughters, but this was the
first time that such a thing had befallen one of his own.

"Oh," replied Bingham; "you mean _that_ way. Well, times change. Ten
years ago this would have brought a protest, and twenty a flogging. And
we change with them. However, if this is the Miss Rosamund Marshall who
has begun lately to figure at teas and receptions and cotillons, and
always contrives to be the bright particular--Is it?"

Marshall smiled slowly. All this was true enough, and he could not
profess himself completely displeased. He nodded.

"Well, then, you'll have to stand it; you can't avoid it; it can't be
helped. And there's one more thing, too."

"What?"

"There was a young man present on this same occasion," Bingham proceeded;
"a decorative, diffusive young man--with a badge. Richard Truesdale
Marshall--was that his name? Any son of yours?"

Marshall nodded again, but his smile was distinctly less complacent.

"I am beginning to meet his name in print quite frequently," pursued
Bingham, serenely. "Is he the same Truesdale Marshall who has a
collection of water-colors in the current exhibition at the Art
Institute?"

"I believe so," responded the old man, with some lack of warmth.

"Is it the same Truesdale Marshall who sang last Friday at the residence
of Mrs. Granger S. Bates, for the benefit of--of--"

David Marshall smiled broadly. "Our Jennie--what a girl she is coming to
be! That Lunch Club is one of her pet notions; she pushes it at all
times--in season and out."

"She seems to be pushing it to good purpose just now," commented Bingham.
"By-the-way, I suppose she is the same Miss Marshall I danced with last
night. She sat in one of the upper places, so to speak, but she was
induced to go down on the floor for a few minutes."

"Well, Bingham," said Marshall, "I knew you went to that sort of thing
once in a while, and I thought that that in itself was a good deal for a
man like you; but for you to dance there--I shouldn't have imagined your
doing it; well, no."

"I didn't but once," responded the other, apologetically. "Still, if
you're going to get along in this world, you've got to be of it. Besides,
I thought"--_argumentum ad hominem_--"that she was entitled to show that
dress; hers was described, too."

"Um!" said her father, soberly, with a sidelong glance towards his
pigeon-holes. "But no picture."

"Well, let that pass," responded Bingham, with a slight touch of pique.
"Is this the Miss Marshall who read lately at the Fortnightly?"

"Yes."

"Is it the same one who is announced to lecture at Hull House on the
Russian novelists?"

"See here, Bingham!" The old man wheeled about sharply in his chair, and
fastened a keen scrutiny upon the other's face. Bingham had never talked
to him like this before; he had never seemed so light-minded, so slanted
towards the jocular. "See here, Bingham, what are you driving at?"

Bingham fitted himself solidly into the curved back of the chair, and
laid his hands out ponderously upon its arms. He had something to say,
and he wondered how best he might say it. "Marshall is twenty years older
than I am," he thought, as his eye traversed the shelves of nutmegs and
orris-root and lit upon the discolored awnings over the way, "and I must
be careful. I'm young to him, of course; but I can't ask the indulgence
due to a boy. How shall I work it?"

He felt that he had earned the right to speak. He had done well by
Marshall, and he knew that Marshall was pleased. It was more as a
personal favor than anything else that he had undertaken the work upon
the warehouse; he had put it through more promptly than anybody else
could have done, and with less interruption to the course of trade than
either of the firm would have imagined possible. For the past month the
business had been comfortably accommodated in its enlarged quarters,
and the two new floors were already habituated to the occult processes
which competition and a minutely graded scale of prices impose upon even
the most righteous of the trade. It is but fair to say, however, that
Marshall & Belden always saw that their sugar was as saccharine as a
specified price would permit, and that their coffee-roasters met the
lowered standard of cheap purchasers as well as the apparatus of any
rival did.

Yes, everything was running smoothly, and Bingham felt that he might
venture a slight trespass upon the friendliness and tolerance of his last
client.

He looked at Marshall for a moment with a slow and cautious smile. "Yes,
the young people are holding up their end; but how about the 'old man'
himself?"

"Oh, that's it!" thought Marshall. He made an instant and intuitive
application of this remark. He _was_ declining towards the horizon; he
_was_ shining but dimly compared with the twinkling of his attendant
satellites.

"Well, the 'old man' isn't altogether useless by a long shot. The young
people dance--and the old people furnish the platform. See here, Bingham.
I don't have to go to the papers to learn what my daughters wear to
parties; I've got my own papers here right within easy reach." He
contracted his brows as his eyes turned towards the pigeon-holes. "A
better account, too, than the newspaper one--fuller, exacter, more
detailed, backed up by figures--down three long sheets and half-way down
a fourth. And I don't need to go to art-galleries to understand what
opportunities my son has had to learn to paint; the foreign exchange man
at our bank could tell me all about that. And I don't have to go to
concerts, either, when I want to make my contribution to a benevolent
object: I can sit right in this room and draw checks, and be told just
how much to draw them for, too. Yes, Bingham, there are a great many ways
for an old fellow like me to make himself useful, and I am not allowed
to overlook any of them."

Marshall's tone and expression during this exposition had wavered back
and forth between jest and protest. But his eyes wandered towards those
pigeon-holes again, and his mien and accents drew on a shade of distinct
melancholy.

These receptacles contained other bills than those of the dress-makers.
There was one, for example, from a carriage-maker, and another from a
horse-dealer. For Rosamund, at the very outset of her career, had set her
face against old Mabel and the carry-all. She declined to appear in any
such fashion among the landaus and broughams of her newly-chosen
associates. She represented, furthermore, that it was extremely awkward
to depend upon the equipages of friends; and she protested that it was
far beneath their dignity to hire a conveyance from a livery-stable. Her
father had succumbed. Along with the bills for the new carriage and pair
were bills for a coachman's hat and cape-coat. Besides these, there was
the first month's statement of board for Mabel and storage for the
carry-all--both having been crowded out of the cramped stable to another
across the alley.

"Yes," resumed Bingham, availing himself of Marshall's own figure, "the
young people are dancing--though no more briskly than they should; but
why may not the old people dance, too? When the young ones are making
their youth and their beauty and their cleverness tell as they do, may
they not _expect_ the old ones to come forward as well? Aren't there
times when they should do it in mere justice to themselves? After your
children have led so many more germans and adorned so many more
receptions and founded so many more clubs and really worked their way
into the life of the town, they may look to their father to put himself
in evidence also. One of them, I can swear, is already a little jealous
on your account."

"Jane? Oh yes; she is always trying to make her poor old father toe the
mark."

"She has plans for you--ambitions for you. If you meet the expectations
that the future is likely to develop, you will be carrying through a
pretty big contract. I was surprised, myself, to learn how many diverse
opportunities this town offers--enough to extend through three dances.
People may preside at banquets, I learned, and address political
meetings, and head subscription papers, and found public baths, and build
and endow colleges. And there are others who donate telescopes, or erect
model lodging-houses, or set up statues and fountains, or
give--Marshall," he said, suddenly, "do something for yourself and for
the town; nothing that you are doing here"--he waved his hand towards the
larger office outside--"is enough for a man of your means and standing."

Bingham was now speaking with increased confidence and with greater
seriousness. He felt himself entitled to say these things by reason of
their personal relations and by virtue of his own standing before the
public. He was twenty years younger than Marshall, but he was twenty
times as great a figure in the public eye. He had had no mean share in
those two fast and crowded years through which the city had striven
towards readiness for the coming of the world. Like the Christians
at Ephesus, he, too, had "fought with the wild beasts"--with time, with
the elements, with Labor, with National niggardliness, with a
hundred-headed management; and he had expanded and ripened in the
struggle. He saw the world with a wider vision; he inhaled the vast and
palpitating present with a deeper breath. He beheld, too, a triumphant
and wide-spreading future, and he felt with the utmost keenness the
opportunities that the town offered even to the older and departing
generation--crabbed and reluctant though it be.

Marshall listened to his remarks and indicated an unremitted attention by
bowing now and then with a subdued gravity. The strain seemed familiar;
where had he heard it before? Why, from Susan Bates, to be sure--and in
this very place: strophe and antistrophe. Could it be possible that he
was so remiss towards himself and towards the community? Could it be true
that he was doing himself such scant and graceless justice? What answer
had he to make to this new advocate? The old one--with additions.

"I have been thinking about these matters. I have been considering the
public that so much is asked for. It is not the old public I used to know
twenty years ago--it has changed a good deal. It is better organized
against us--a banding together of petty officials with their whole
contemptible following: steerage-rats that have left their noisome holds
to swarm into our houses, over them, through them, everywhere--between
the floors, behind the wainscoting--everywhere. Do you know anything
about cheap law?"

"Justice courts? Don't let's go into that," said Bingham, quickly.

"I _am_ in that," retorted Marshall, angrily. His blue eyes took on an
unwonted gleam. "And I shall stay in until I have satisfied myself."

"Drop it," said Bingham. "It's a terrible thing--rotten, deplorable, an
out-and-out curse."

"I will not," returned Marshall. He struck his thin old hand on the edge
of his desk. "I'll see it through. They live within two blocks of my
house. Her son is an alderman; her nephew is a bailiff; two or three
others of them keep saloons. They are Poles, or Bohemians, or
Jews--Heaven knows what. They do business on the premises--they stick to
their burrow. Yet we couldn't get a summons served by a constable. And
when we finally got the matter before a court--it was continued. No
defendants there--only a filthy little creature who called himself
their attorney. We were never so blackguarded in our lives. Then another
continuance; and a third. Roger, poor boy, makes no headway at all. He
knows the law; he has a good practice; he leases and collects for me--and
buys and sells. But he is getting to be almost ashamed to come here to
see me about it."

"I know," assented Bingham; "a kind of _camorra_. Get a shyster; fight
the devil with fire. What can a gentleman do in a justice's court? If the
rats are behind the wainscot, don't stick your own hand into the hole.
Hire somebody else."

"I won't!" cried the old man, stubbornly. "I want to see for myself how
things actually are. I want to learn what conditions we are living under.
I want to understand the things that are really going on about us. I want
to see what a good citizen and a tax-payer can count upon by way of
redress." He picked at his petty grievance as a child torments a sore.
Yet a sore, in justice, may mean little, or it may mean much. Any
physician will tell you that.

"Drop it," counselled Bingham again. "It will irritate you and exasperate
you out of all proportion to its importance. And if you have been wronged
in a lower court, remember that many poorer men have been wronged in
higher ones. Come; keep your head clear and your temper calm, and save
them for important things."

The door of the little office opened softly, and one of the important
things began. The door had opened none too widely, yet sufficiently for
the entrance of the thin edge of a wedge--a wedge that was to gain a
tyrannizing force with each inch of advance, as is the wont.

To Bingham it seemed like another of those rats--one that had left the
wainscoting and taken to the floor, regardless (in a boldness at once
insolent and sly) of the presence of humankind. To Marshall it was only
an office-hand from the outer room who now entered with a handful of mail
matter, which he placed, with an air not wholly guiltless of servility
and stealth, upon his employer's desk.

He was a dark man of forty-five, with a black beard and a pair of narrow
eyes. He looked neither of the two occupants of the room full in the
face. His glance was searching and sidelong rather, not so much from the
presence of anything to spy upon as from habit and instinct. One fancied
a man too accustomed to the heavy foot of superiors to decline willingly
any minor advantage that came his way--or any major one.

Bingham's eyes followed him out. "Whom have you there?"

"Somebody of Belden's--a new hand; some of the sediment left from the
Fair."

"That's where I've seen him. He was in the Service building--draughtsman,
clerk, or something. Swiss? Alsacian?"

"I don't know," replied Marshall. "He speaks German and some French."
Half unconsciously he began upon his mail. "It would be more to the
purpose if he spoke English--better."

Bingham reached for his hat. "Well, time's money to both of us. English
is an easy thing to pick up--as witness Midway. I dare say he'll be able
to express himself fluently enough inside of another six months.
Good-morning."



XI


"There!" Jane had said to herself, as he stood before her small
looking-glass to give a final touch to her hair and to pull out her
puffed sleeves to their widest for the tenth and last time; "if I can
keep in mind that I am thirty-three years old, and not a day less, I
imagine I shall get through all right. Of course I sha'n't go on the
floor and dance--at least, not very much. Perhaps nobody will ask me,
anyway; of course I can expect nothing from Theodore Brower, who couldn't
waltz any more than he could fly. No; I'll just sit in the box, and then
nobody can say that I am giddy, or flighty, or trying to be too young."

She cast a last glance towards her looking-glass, which seemed smaller
than ever. "I do wish I could see both of them at once. I hope Theodore
will like 'em; the chances are, though, he'll never notice 'em at all."

Such had been Jane's modest and cautious programme, and she carried it
out pretty closely. She sat in the box with Mrs. Bates a good part of the
evening, and bowed a great many times to a great many gentlemen, young
and old, whom she had never seen before and never expected to see again,
and whose names, therefore, she made no effort to secure. She talked with
two or three with whom it seemed possible and profitable to talk, and
learned their names afterwards.

Mr. Bates himself spent very little time in his wife's box. He lounged on
one of the springy sofas in the narrow lobby behind, or leaned over the
burnished barriers of other boxes to talk murmurously with other magnates
about the Stock Exchange or the volume of traffic. He was a grave and
somewhat inexpressive person, with reticent eyes and snow-white bunches
of side-whiskers, and a rather cold and impassive manner. His wife
followed his peregrinations with an indulgent eye.

"Poor Granger," she said to Jane; "this thing tires him more and more
every year. So I give him plenty of leeway. See him now." She looked over
her shoulder, where, twenty feet away, her husband was talking across the
bronze bar with another elderly man in the adjoining box.

"It's a conference," she went on--"it's a deal; it's on my account--he
told me so himself. If it goes through it means another string to this
necklace."

She suddenly became quite smileless and rigid. "Why, what's the matter?"
asked Jane.

Mrs. Bates presently relaxed. "That woman who just passed," she
explained; "she was wondering if these diamonds weren't imitations, and
the real ones in the safety vaults down-town. Notice that other one over
there; yes, the one in nile-green, with the garnet velvet sleeves. She's
looking for me, and can't find me. There! she sees Granger--everybody
knows _him_. And now she's quieter; she's satisfied; she has taken old
Mrs. McIntosh for me, just because Granger happens to be in their box for
a moment. See, the man alongside of her is smiling and looking the same
way. I know what she's saying to him: 'Is _that_ Mrs. Bates--that plain
old woman in that dowdy gown? Well, I never!--after all I've heard and
read.' And she's so happy over it. Tell me, child; _am_ I plain, _am_ I
dowdy?"

"You are magnificent," said Jane, squeezing her hand. "Carolus-Duran is
only a dauber--and a half-blind one at that!" Jane, after the first
half-hour, had become quite habituated to her new and unaccustomed
environment. Her attitude was neither too self-conscious nor too relaxed;
and she never lost sight of the fact that she was thirty-three. Her dress
was a fabric in a soft shade of blue-gray run through by fine black
lines. Her ample sleeves took full advantage of the prevailing mode,
and several falls of wide lace passed between them, both before and
behind. Her hair was done up high, in a fashion devised by her fairy
godmother--a piece of discreet but fetching phantasy. Jane leaned back
graciously in her chair, after the manner of her favorite heroines,
losing in height and gaining in breadth; never before had she felt so
amplitudinous, so imperial.

"Whoever would suspect," she asked, turning over her shoulder to Susan
Bates, "that I was a natural-born rail?"

"Nobody," the other responded. "You never looked so well in your life."

Jane blushed with pleasure. At that moment two of the Fortnightly ladies
passed--clever creatures, who could drive culture and society abreast.
Jane, with the flush still on her face and a happy glitter in those wide
eyes, leaned forward and bowed in the most marked style at her command.
"I am here myself," she seemed to announce.

"Well," said one of the Fortnightly ladies, "where is the 'Decadence'
now?"

"Ah!" smiled the other, "that's past, and the 'Renaissance' is here
again!"

However, Jane was not so taken up with her literary affinities as to lose
sight of her own kith and kin. She saw Rosy swim past once or twice, and
was gratified by constant glimpses of an active and radiant Truesdale.
Once Statira Belden drove by in saffron satin and a mother-of-pearl
tiara. "And that's her daughter with her," commented Jane. "And there's
that girl from New York. And there goes her son--that smooth-faced little
snip. Huh!--compare him with our Truesdale!"

She leaned forward eagerly as her brother came once more into view.
"Yes," she said, "his flower is all right, and the soles of his shoes. I
wonder if--" and she leaned still farther forward and drew in a long
breath through her nose. "No, I can't smell it; I don't believe it's
bothered him any!"

Jane, in the earlier part of the evening, had sent Truesdale to the ball
as a lady sends a knight to battle. She had stopped him on the moment of
his departure at the foot of the stairs, close to the grotesque old
newel-post, to look him over with a severely critical eye.

"Has it got its posy in its button-hole?" she inquired, throwing open his
ulster. There was a gardenia there. "Yes, _that's_ all right." Then:

"Has it got its little soles blacked?" Truesdale laughed, and turned up
one of his long, slender, shining shoes, while he supported himself by
his other leg and the newel-post. "Yes, that's first-rate," she assented.
"What else is there, now?" she pondered.

"Oh! wait one second." She ravaged his inner pocket with a sudden hand.
"Has it got its 'foom'ry on its little hanky?" She drew out the
handkerchief and clapped it to her nose. "Not a drop--just wait one
second."

She tore up-stairs in great haste, and in a moment more she came tumbling
down with her own cologne bottle in her hand. "You'll kill yourself,
Jane," her mother called.

"Here!" She seized her brother's handkerchief again and drenched it with
a plentiful and vigorous douse. "There!" she said, with great
satisfaction, as she restored it to him.

"Goodness, Jane!" Truesdale cried, in laughing protest, "they'll all
smell this for fifty feet around."

Jane gave her brother a commendatory pat, and said no word. She felt that
he was now ready for conquest. Speech was superfluous.

"No, I can't smell it," said Jane, again; "I think he must have
exaggerated. He's going off in the other direction, anyway."

Mrs. Bates touched her elbow. "Who's that dark girl in pink? No; not to
the left--straight ahead."

"Why, I declare, it's Rosy!" exclaimed Jane. "And doesn't she look
lovely! She's the prettiest girl here, isn't she?"

"Yes."

"And how well that little curly-cue curl on her forehead keeps its shape!
But do you think she should have worn Maréchal Niels?"

"I dare say she's had red until she is tired of them. Who is the young
man with her?"

"Don't know," said Jane. "These new young men are getting to be too many
for _me_."

"Well, then, I'll tell you. It's Arthur Paston."

"Arthur Scodd-Paston?" asked Jane, contributing a conscientious hyphen to
the name and a laborious accent to the forepart of it. "Why, he doesn't
look so very hateful and supercilious."

"Oh, he's never that. He's a nice enough fellow. You mustn't take all my
exaggerations seriously. He's jolly and pleasant, as you see for
yourself."

"He'd better be--with Rosamund. She won't stand any great 'I' and little
'u' from anybody. But he does look real nice and stout and healthy and
rosy, and everything, doesn't he?"

"Especially rosy," said Mrs. Bates, wickedly.

"I'm ashamed of you," remonstrated Jane; and the two young people swept
on, while the music swirled and crashed, and the vast illumined ceiling
bent above them like a rainbow of promise.

During one of the promenades Truesdale passed by with Bertie Patterson on
his arm. The decorum of the walk could not exclude all of Truesdale's
lithe and swaying ease; he held his head high, and sent his eyes abroad
to right or left with an assurance that some might have felt to be an
impertinence and others an insolence. To Jane he seemed just descended
from some heaven-kissing hill. She sniffed once or twice as he went past.
"I _hope_ I didn't put too much on--I'm sure I didn't. I just sha'n't
worry about it any more."

Bertie Patterson kept step beside him bravely, though she knew that Jane
was looking at her from one side of the house and her aunt Lydia from the
other. She was striving faithfully to be worthy of her environment. To
take the arm of this brilliant young personage on any occasion at all
would have been a test of spirit; how much more so on an occasion so
brilliant and entrancing as this--particularly when the badge upon the
young man's breast connected him so closely with it, and made the
connection patent to all? She fused everything, and filled him with it
and it with him: the mounting tones of violins and trumpets, the
sparkling quincunxes of the girdling balcony-front, the wide band of
fresco which ran in unison with the arches of glittering bulbs above
their heads, the circling and swaying throng--all the sheen and splendor
of a vast and successful city.

"Nice little girl with your brother," said Mrs. Bates.

"A real dear," responded Jane. "She poured tea for Rosy."

"Did she, indeed?" And Mrs. Bates looked at her harder to avoid seeing
the passage of Gilbert Belden and his wife.

"There's another real dear," she said, presently, "if I can only catch
his eye." She held up her finger to a young man who had just conducted
Rosamund back to her aunt Lydia's box. Rosy had quite scorned the
antiquated usage of the balls of an earlier and less sophisticated day.
"Of _course_ I shall not go with any young man; I shall go with a
chaperon, and if the young men wish to see me they may see me there. It's
all right if Jane wants to go with Theodore Brower; they might do
anything after the way they bang around together in the street-cars. And
I sha'n't go even with a chaperon unless she is in a box, where I can be
taken afterwards"--a declaration which led to financial negotiations
between David Marshall and his sister-in-law, and which brought him to a
still higher appreciation of the general preciousness of his youngest
daughter.

"There! he's coming--my boy Billy. Isn't he about right?"

A tall, broad-shouldered young man of twenty-five was making his way
across the floor, and presently passed through the exit in the midst of
the lower boxes to gain the level of the upper ones.

"College all over, isn't he?" commented Jane; "his shoulders, and the way
he parts his hair."

"The best boy in the world," said Mrs. Bates, plumply, "He has been with
his father for the last four years, and he's come to be a real help to
him. Gets to the office at eight o'clock, rain or shine, and loves
nothing better than to sit and grub there all day long. Steady as a rock.
Splendid future. Holds his own nose to the grindstone like a real little
lamb. I hope he asked Rosamund for supper."

The young man presently reappeared, making his way behind the long tier
of upper boxes.

"Well, my boy, were you forgetting all about your mother and her elderly
friends? I'd never figured on your meeting the younger daughter first. My
son William, Miss Marshall. William, here's an awfully good girl; her
father thinks as much of her as I do of you."

The young man bowed, but blushed and halted before this singular
presentation.

"Well, I don't know," said Jane, filling up the breach in the first
fashion that presented itself. "If pa had the same gift of language that
you have, I should feel surer." She picked out her puffs, and then leaned
back negligently with her hands crossed. She was too thoroughly grounded
by this time to be discomposed by any youth seven or eight years her
junior.

The youth shifted his feet.

"I saw you with my sister a minute ago," continued Jane. She knew,
without looking round to see, that Mrs. Bates was smiling in the anxious,
would-be-helpful way of parents who have put their offspring at a
disadvantage.

"Yes--oh yes," the young man responded, with precipitation. "We had a
very nice polka, indeed."

"Well," said Jane to herself, "I can talk about polkas and lots of other
things." And she did. She held and entertained the young man for a full
ten minutes. She found, after all, that he was in no degree constrained
or backward, and she made him do himself justice.

"Well, my dear," said Mrs. Bates, as he withdrew, "you made my Billy
quite brilliant. I don't know when I have heard so much real
conversation!"

"That's all right," responded Jane; "I was young myself once. I haven't
forgotten that."

"Only you mustn't fascinate him," protested the elder woman, with a
burlesque of maternal anxiety. "I want somebody else to do _that_." She
gave Jane a smile full of meaning.

"Aha!" thought Jane, and wondered if she were to see a certain little
romance resumed after the lapse of so many lumbering years.

"But she didn't seem to mind Paston any. Well, why should she?" concluded
Jane.

Presently Truesdale came along and asked his sister to waltz. "All
right," she said; "just for a minute; but not out in the middle--yet."
She wished to test herself first.

"You're awfully good to me, Dicky," she whispered, as he led her back.

"Cut it," said Truesdale; "I'm proud of you."

Jane got back to her lofty perch. "I'll do it once more--if anybody
asks me; yes, I will."

In another ten minutes she was on the floor again. "Quite happy, I'm
sure," she had said to Bingham.

"Only I'm no great dancer," this big and bearded bachelor had warned her.

"Neither am I," declared Jane. "I can just totter around and that's about
all." She arose quickly, shook out her plumage, took his arm, and in less
than a minute was waltzing again. "Lucky it _is_ a waltz," she thought;
"I don't want to be trying too many novelties."

Mrs. Bates moved to let them pass out. "Really," she said, "I don't want
to sit here all alone. Oh, Mr. Brower, I rely upon you. Let me have your
arm. I suppose"--with a resigned submission to the inevitable--"that I am
expected to walk around once, at least."

Brower had returned to the box, after diverting himself for some time
rather shyly in the foyer. He had given Jane a promenade earlier in the
evening, and had hoped to pass the rest of the time as inconspicuously as
might be. Jane had been much pleased by his efforts to do the right
thing--to be correctly dressed, for example. She knew from her own
experience how one thing led to another, and she was appreciative of the
pains he had taken on her account. It was easy for her to fancy how
dress-suits must lead to dress-shirts, and shirts to studs and collars
and ties and shoes and boutonnières--but Brower wore no boutonnière;
there he drew the line. "Never mind," said Jane; "that isn't necessary,
anyway. He has done quite enough as it is, and he's a good fellow to have
done it." She knew how he regarded all this: as a sacrifice to Mammon, if
not indeed to Moloch. "On my account, too," thought Jane--"every bit of
it. Isn't it splendid of him!"

Brower was vastly disconcerted on receiving this command from Mrs.
Bates--it was nothing less than a command, of course, and he must obey
it. He had found it something of an ordeal to lead even Jane round the
floor once; how much greater a one, then, to perform the like service for
Mrs. Granger Bates, whose escort could not but expect to draw scrutiny
and to provoke inquiry. He was a modest man with no pronounced social
ambitions; he would immensely have preferred to pass the same length of
time staring into a locomotive head-light.

Mrs. Bates presently effected a clearance, and with Brower as a convoy
steered straight for the open sea. She carried a bunch of plumes aloft,
showed a flashing brilliant on both the port and the starboard side, and
left a long trail of rustling silk and lace behind her. And as she
pursued her course, other craft, great and small, dipped their colors
right and left.

"I want you to see both ends of the scale," she presently said to Brower.
"You are trying to bring them closer together, they tell me."

"That is a part of our object," replied Brower.

"Well, you have one end in your Nineteenth Ward, and the other here. I
want you to get the good side of this."

"I should be glad to; there _is_ one, I'm sure."

"To begin with, don't encourage your associates to talk about the
'butterflies of fashion,' and that sort of thing. There are no
butterflies in this town, except young girls under twenty, and you surely
won't quarrel with _them_. Yes, we are all workers; what could Idleness
herself do with her time in such a place as this? You've got to work in
self-defence. Do you see that woman up aloft there?"

"Well?"

"She's the president and responsible manager of an orphan asylum. That
one over across on the other side is an officer of the Civil Federation.
Do you believe in that?"

"Devoutly."

"The woman just ahead of us--the purple velvet one--is a member of the
Board of Education; she helps to place teachers and to audit coal bills.
Why, even I myself have got a good many more things to look after than
you could easily shake a stick at!"

"And the one you this instant bowed to?"

"You mean the one who bowed to me." For Mrs. Rhodes had leaned completely
out of her box, and had then looked both right and left to observe
whether her neighbors had done full justice to the episode. "Oh, she's a
good little woman who is--climbing.

"The fact is," Mrs. Bates proceeded, "that there are not a dozen real
grown-up butterflies in town. We're coming to one now." They were
skirting one range of the lower boxes. "It's Mrs. Ingles; you must meet
her."

"Some other time, please," implored Brower, as Mrs. Bates nodded to a
sumptuous young creature not ten feet away.

"Very well." Mrs. Bates shrugged her shoulders "Yes," she proceeded,
presently, "Cecilia Ingles and her immediate set are about the only real
butterflies we have. However, I'm going to take her in hand pretty soon
and make a good, earnest woman of her."

"There is work for them all," said Brower.

"But don't let's be too serious just now," rejoined Mrs. Bates in
friendly caution.

"Who was that young man you had with you last night?" somebody demanded
of her next day.

"Mr. Brower."

"Who is Mr. Brower, may I ask?"

"A friend of Jane Marshall's." This (save that he had a trusty face) was
all that she knew of Theodore Brower; but she thought it enough.

"And who is Jane Marshall?"

Mrs. Bates gave her questioner one look. "Really, you surprise me," she
observed, and said no word more. Within a week Jane was known throughout
the inquirer's whole set.

Truesdale presently passed Mrs. Bates with a girl on his arm. "I wonder
if that's another one of the tea-pourers?" she asked herself.

It was. Truesdale was escorting Gladys--Gladys McKenna, as her complete
name had finally come to him. He had laughed on first hearing it.
"There's a _chaud-froid_ for you, sure enough!"

Gladys wore a flame-colored gown, and her eyes, curiously fringed with
black above and beneath, had an _outré_ and dishevelled appearance that
lingered in the memory as wax-works do. She kept a strong clutch on his
arm, and galloped alongside him with a persistent _camaraderie_ which
conveyed no hint of cessation.

"Why insist so strongly on a _quadrille d'honneur_?" he was asking her.
"Wasn't a march good enough?"

"We always look for a quadrille at one of the best functions--at home."

"But why draw lines? You don't object if people meet for pleasure on
terms free and equal?"

"Oh, of course if you have no celebrities here--no great figures--"

"Not one--not till you came. We are all plain people here. If any of us
forget our plainness there are plenty who are glad enough to remind us of
it."

"Are you plain, too?"

"The plainest of the lot."

"You don't seem so; you look awfully ornamental, with that ribbon and
all." The "all" meant the wave in his hair, the lustre of his eyes, the
upward flaunt of his mustache which hid in no degree the white, firm
evenness of his teeth, the freshness of a second gardenia--even the sheen
of his shapely shoes.

"The ribbon--you like it? Sorry I'm wearing only one. How would you have
liked a second running the opposite way? Or a third pinned on behind?"

"Oh, you!--How about all these other young men; are they anybody?"

"What other young men?"

"The ones with these criss-cross red ribbons."

"Oh! Well, some few of them have what you might call position, and some
are working for it, and some are not thinking anything about it; and
some, after having served their purpose, will be dropped soon enough, I
promise you."

"And you yourself--are you in, or out, or not thinking about it, or-"

"I?" returned Truesdale, carelessly. "I'm just a passer-by; I'm on my way
to Japan."

"Oh no; not Japan!" said the girl, quickly.

"Japan, I assure you," he smiled.

She caught herself. "To escape my uncle, then?"

"Why that, in Heaven's name?"

"You have offended him."

"Dear me! How?"

"By what you said at the house the other night. About the costumes, you
know."

"Nonsense. How could that have reached him?"

"Those things do get around. Do you know what he's going to do? He's
going to cut your comb. My aunt--she cried like anything."

To Truesdale the girl's tone seemed preposterously confidential. "You
were in the wrong," she seemed to imply; "but I am on your side for all
that."

"Ouf!" said Truesdale; "this comes of trenching on Biblical ground. I'll
never quote scripture again."

Truesdale had gone to the Belden house in pursuance of the invitation
extended at his mother's own tea-table. Eliza Marshall had made a faint
effort to dissuade him; despite Mrs. Belden's presence at her own
function, his going seemed, in one way or another, too much like an
excursion into the enemy's country. But the occasion was a fancy-dress
ball, and Truesdale declared himself much too curious to remain away. "I
must go," he said, and at once took steps to equip himself for this
voyage of discovery.

He wore the dress of a Spanish grandee of the early seventeenth
century--he recalled the Spaniards as famous explorers. He was in black
throughout, save for the white lace of his wide collar and cuffs, and for
the dark purple lining of his mantle. If the Beldens, for their part, had
costumed themselves half so discreetly, he would never have fallen from
their good graces. But Statira Belden (keeping her own given name in
view) had based her costume upon one of the old French tapestries--the
Family of Darius at the Feet of Alexander; you may see the original, a
Veronese, in the National Gallery. She had counterfeited the distressed
queen by flowing robes and pearls strung through her yellow hair. She had
revivified and heightened the faded ideal of the oldtime artist, and
incidentally she had extinguished every other woman in the room.

But the difficulty would still have been avoided had not Belden himself
so far lapsed from discretion as to put himself forward in the guise of
Shylock. It mended matters little that he had abandoned the costume
within half an hour after donning it. Thus it was that Truesdale saw him
for the first time in four or five years; the young man had completely
disdained, thus far, to visit the store. With eyes freshened by long
absence, and wits sharpened by contact with the world, he saw his
father's partner in a dress which seemed to throw into greater prominence
every lineament of his face and every trait of his character. The young
man instantly doubted, mistrusted him. His Hebraic garments suggested
another character held in still lower esteem. Truesdale, at a certain
stage of the entertainment, observed his host and hostess in momentary
conjunction on the threshold of the drawing-room; it was then that he
uttered his little jest, whimsically careless of accuracy and loftily
indifferent to outlying ears.

"Ananias and Statira," he said, and his words travelled through the house
like escaping gas.

"They're awfully offended," said Gladys, continuing her confidential
tone. "You can't come there any more--I don't believe. I'm so glad to
have seen you here--who knows where I shall ever see you again? Why
wouldn't you talk to me any, that first time? Why were you so long in
asking me to dance to-night?"

She seemed to be pushing the claim of proprietorship first advanced at
the Belden ball.

"Well, I hope I've talked enough since."

"But where shall we talk together next time? I don't believe you can come
to the house," she repeated.

She seemed to be drawing attention romantically to obstacles in the
way--in their way--and to be calling on him to remove them.

"Perhaps they won't let me see you again. Perhaps they're offended by my
having danced with you here." She was adding to the barricade, but he was
bold and resourceful enough to level it.

"Ouf!" thought Truesdale. "Girls--they're alike, every one of 'em, after
all!"



XII


It was two o'clock in the morning when Jane said good-bye to Theodore
Brower in the vestibule and burst into the house. There was a light
burning in the library, and thitherward Jane swept in high feather. Her
father was sitting there; as she entered he took up a newspaper that he
had completely read out three hours before.

"Why, poppy!" she cried; "isn't this pretty late for you? But I know what
you've been sitting up for so long: to have me tell you all about the
party. Now, haven't you?"

Her father looked up at her in some wonder. Jane was distinctly in a
state of exhilaration. She seemed conscious of having played well her
part--no mean part, either--in a large performance; one might have
fancied indeed that the splendor and success of the occasion was in some
degree due to her own participation. She was decidedly gay, bright,
sparkling; her father felt that here at last was his daughter almost
pretty.

"Maybe I was," he answered. He threw down the newspaper so as to make it
cover several loose sheets full of figures. "Did you enjoy yourself?"

"I should say I did!" She seated herself on the arm of his
chair; one of her big puffed sleeves almost covered his face.
"Don't think I was a wallflower, either; I wasn't. I went out
on the floor three times. Mr. Brower walked me around once, and Mr.
Bingham waltzed with me once. And so did Truedy. Oh, poppy, he was so
good to me! And he was the only young man there with violet eyes--I
didn't see another one."

Her father gave vent to a low, inarticulate monosyllable; it seemed to
convey little appreciation of his son's eyes.

Jane had met Truesdale for a moment just before she came away. "How's the
handkerchief?" she had asked. "All right," he responded, cheerfully. He
took it folded and crumpled from his coat-pocket and showed it to her. He
had carried it in his trousers pocket until a moment before; but Jane
never knew.

"And I went to supper with Mrs. Bates and Theo--Mr. Brower," she
continued. "And the oldest Bates boy took Rosy. We all went up in the
elevator together and had a table quite to ourselves. I saw Mr. Bates
there too. And lots of other elderly gentlemen. I wish _you_ had been
there. Several of them made themselves prominent enough--no younger than
you, no richer, no more deserving of notice. Poppy, you must get out that
coat some time and brush it up, and go somewhere with _me_."

Marshall thrust a finger under the edge of the newspaper. "I don't know,
Jennie. There are lots of other things to think about."

Rosy came home at four. Mrs. Rhodes dropped her on her own way southward.
Bertie Patterson nodded sleepily in one corner of the carriage. She was
unused to late hours, and had been ready to go long before. But Rosy made
it plain to all involved that she regarded herself as the first to be
considered; she did not design leaving a minute sooner or a minute later
than her own good pleasure should will. Her card was filled to the last
line, and she danced it out--with William Bates, with Arthur Paston, and
with a score of other young men for whose names the present pages have no
need.

In the course of a week Arthur Paston called. Truesdale, who happened to
be at home, found himself regarding Paston's presence with something the
reverse of complacency, and his bearing with something that distinctly
approached disapproval. He recalled to mind many of the diversions in
which they had participated together, and he felt offended that Paston
should bring here the same jaunty, familiar, off-hand ways that he had
displayed in other scenes but slightly approved by Propriety. He
would have preferred a line of conduct suggestive, in some small degree
at least, of the penitent, the chastened, the abashed; a laugh less
ready; a smile less confident; a bearing less self-assured, less divested
of any sense of his need of tolerance, charity, forbearance. "I don't
precisely like his acting in that free fashion here with Rosy," thought
Truesdale; "there are times and times, and there are places and places."

His thought presently turned towards himself. He had no less need, truly,
of charity and forbearance than Paston, yet he was not in the habit, to
any great degree, of adjusting his own manner to varying conditions. He
treated other fellows' sisters just as Paston was treating his. The
idealizing gaze of little Bertie Patterson was upon him; it was not
precisely with reverence, certainly, that he was in the habit of treating
her, for example. And the other girl with the red gown and the wax-work
eyes--her he had treated almost with open derision. But that was
different.

Paston's cheery laugh rang out from the parlor. Truesdale stood in the
library before the bookcase, reading the tarnished titles of the few
spare volumes, as he shifted his weight from one foot to another,
uncertain whether to advance or to retire. Paston knew him for what he
was; but Bertie Patterson, he felt sure, would never acknowledge that he
could be guilty of any wrong. "Hideous thing to be poetized," thought
Truesdale; "but they all do it in one way or another." He thought of the
faithful little hearts that beat in the German garrison towns. "'Byron's
Poems'--I could easily be better than I am--'Lossing's History of the
American Revolution,' volume one, volume two--and I must try to be. 'The
Lamplighter'; 'The Wide, Wide World';--oh, curse that fellow's funny
stories!" as Rosy's ready laugh came from the next room. Truesdale
blushed as he thought of some of the stories that Paston could tell, when
so minded; and he stamped his foot that such a--such a--(he found no
word)--should be telling his sister any story at all. "But he's as good
as I am," Truesdale was forced to avow, as he passed through the hallway
and ascended to his room. "And better than lots of others. What can _I_
say or do?"

Rosy herself, however, would have asked for no change in Paston's manner.
She found him charming, fascinating; compared with him, William Bates was
far from entertaining. If Paston had attempted the chastened, the
deprecatory, she would have feared that he was not enjoying himself. She
would have taken but little satisfaction in deference pushed to humility.
She was beginning to idealize him, as Bertie Patterson had begun to
idealize her brother; but Rosy's idealization was not half so
generous.

While walking on his arm a week ago, she had not felt her self in a
public hall within a few hundred yards of her own home; no, she was at
Buckingham Palace or at St. James's--she was not sure which. There were
moments, indeed, when it was not a palace at all: it was the terrace of
some Tudor house, with stone balls on all the posts, or it was the trim
path of some village church-yard, bordered by yew-trees and by tombstones
with cherubs' heads and hour-glasses. She was the bride of a month, and
this was her first service in England. The people around them figured no
longer as the swell crush of London, but as a respectful, lock-tugging,
courtesy-dropping tenantry who fell off on either side as she passed out
to her carriage on her husband's arm. There were side-long glimpses, too,
of forgeries and murders and lost wills and stolen jewels and people
drowned in wells; in one book there had been a maniac girl shut up in a
room--but she should try to avoid all these superfluities; a duchess in
possession of her senses would be decidedly preferable. A week later and
she was deeper in Burke and Debrett than ever.

"Well, here it is finally--Saltonstall, Scamperdown, Scodd-Paston."
Rosy bent her head and studied the large gilt volume with redoubled
vigor. "It's pretty near the end, after all."

Rosy sat at a desk in a big new granite building to one side of a small
park. Above the window-ledge appeared the tops of trees, the towers and
gables of a pair of churches, the dark and dignified façade of a
club-house, and the various elements that make up one of the half-dozen
local views which bear in any great degree the stamp of civilization.
Around her people fluttered leaves, or put books back on their shelves,
or carried on the cataloguing of a large and but half-arranged library.
But Rosy gave heed to none of this. "Scodd-Paston," she said; "here's a
whole paragraph." And she buried herself in it at once.

She had begun with the Queen and the royal family and the order of
precedence. Then she had gone through the dukes, very carefully; then
through the marquesses, not so carefully; then through the earls,
somewhat cursorily: "Here's one with eight daughters, the Honourable
Gertrude-Adeline, and seven more." Then she had bolted through the
viscounts and barons: "This one's awfully new--only from 1810." Then she
slid lightly over the baronets. Then she passed on to the knights. "I
don't suppose it's _here_." But it was.

"'General Sir John-George-Alexander Scodd-Paston,'--that's a pretty good
name," thought the girl--"'born in 1835; entered Life Guards in 1855;
married in 1857 to Mary-Victoria, dau. of James, Lord Lyndhurst'--I
wonder if she was of higher rank than he. Oh, here we come to his own.
'Attained rank of colonel, 1869; general, 1877; served in Egyptian
campaign of 1882; appointed Groom-in-Waiting to Her Majesty in
1883'--ever so many capital letters. 'C.B., 1882; K.C.B., 1885'--a lot
more. Whatever do they mean? Does he wear stars and things? And here's
where he lives: 'Boxton Park, Witham, Essex.' And somewhere else, too:
'10, King's-gate Gardens, S. Kensington'--that's in London, I suppose.
And here are his clubs: 'Whitehall and United Service.' Only two; why,
lots of the others have five or six. But papa hasn't got one, even.
Besides, think of _our_ ever being in a book!"

She paused a moment in perplexity. "But where are his children--all
the sons and daughters, and when they were born, and who they married,
and everything? It tells in the dukes and earls. Never mind, though; I
don't need a book for that. Boxton Park, Witham, Essex," she mused. The
posts came back again with the stone balls on top of them; and a few
oriel-windows; and a peacock or two strutting on a terrace. The prospect
widened; ditches and hedge-rows under a low, gray sky, packs of yelping
hounds, hunters following in red coats....

Rosamund went home in a thoughtful mood. It was within a fortnight of
this that she was taking hurdles at her riding-school.

This involved still another horse, and a habit, and a saddle. Rosamund
was teaching her father how to spend money; no other member of the
family, save Truesdale, had ever attempted as much.

"Are we going on forever living in this same old place?" Rosy asked her
mother one day. She had fallen into the way of making comparisons between
Boxton Park and No. two hundred and whatever-it-may-have-been Michigan
Avenue--just as she had made comparisons with the many fine houses where
she had lately been entertained.

"I don't expect to live anywhere forever," replied her mother, tartly.

"It's so old and dismal," Rosy went on. "I declare, I hate almost to ask
anybody here. And it's getting so noisy and dirty--and all those awful
people over there on those streets behind us."

Eliza Marshall's thought flew swiftly towards the second-hand dealer of
those purlieus who had carried away so much good, solid furniture, and
then had declined to pay for it. But this did not prevent her from
looking on her child now as if a viper, warmed at her hearth, had roused
to life and stung her.

"Why can't we change?" Rosy proceeded; "why can't we move? Why can't we
build somewhere--where we can have neighbors, and a house to invite them
to?"

"What do you call the Blackburns and the Freemans?" asked her mother,
severely. "Where can you find nicer folks? Why do we want to chase after
a lot of new people that we don't know anything about?"

"The Blackburns and the Freemans are no company for me," Rosy declared.
"All the people I know are up on the North side or down on Prairie
Avenue."

"The North side!" repeated her mother, out of all patience. "I see myself
moving to the North side at my time of life, after living on this side
for more than forty years. I should feel as much at home in Milwaukee.
And don't talk to me about Prairie, either; as long as I live, I live on
Michigan, and nowhere else. I don't want to hear any more about it--no,
not a word."

While Rosy assailed her mother about the house, Jane attacked her father
about himself. Her social triumphs (so she regarded them) had made her
more ambitious and more aggressive than ever. She was less solicitous
about the family in general, which seemed to be moving on satisfactorily
enough, than she was about the head of it himself, who appeared
distinctly to be lagging behind.

Marshall now listened to his daughter's urgings with a more serious
consideration; she was only saying to him what older and more experienced
people had said already--Susan Bates, for example, and Tom Bingham. Susan
Bates, in fact, had renewed the attack, and she prosecuted it whenever
occasion offered. She had not scrupled, indeed, to pursue the theme
within the precincts of her own house.

Mrs. Bates had not yet achieved the peculiar aboriginal function which
she had outlined to Jane in the course of their first talk--the reel, the
old settlers, and the young squaws to pour firewater were still in the
future; but she had entertained the Marshalls at dinner, _en famille_,
and she had pushed the subject with still greater insistency in her own
house than at David Marshall's office.

For the occasion of the Marshall dinner Mrs. Bates put her household on a
peace footing. She banished, as far as possible, all traces of social
war-paint. She determined to dispense with as many of the men-servants as
might be, and to have those who were left over wear their plainest
liveries; she even thought of arranging to have the Marshalls' ring
answered by a maid instead of a footman. So when David Marshall came, in
the dress-coat that had not seen the light for over a year, and Eliza
Marshall, in the plum-colored silk whose only recent airing had been at
Rosy's coming-out, they had little to contend against save the house
itself and its furnishings.

Jane accompanied them. "Tom Bingham is going to take you out," Mrs. Bates
announced. "He is very much interested in you. He thinks you are quite a
clever girl."

"All right," replied Jane. "I'm interested in him, too. I think him a
person of great discernment."

"I had some notion of asking Rosy at first; Billy was so taken with her.
But this is really an old folks' party, after all. Besides, Billy had a
theatre engagement."

"Sorry," said Jane; "I'm sure pa and ma would have liked to meet him."
Whatever little plan Mrs. Bates may have been revolving in her mind, Jane
was too loyal to throw cold water on it. "So should I myself."

Susan Bates gave the Marshalls a short, plain dinner; she had no desire
to glorify herself or to embarrass her guests. But Eliza Marshall learned
more of contemporanics in that one evening than she had picked up in the
previous decade. She learned how people received, how they set their
tables and served them, how they built their houses and furnished them.
She learned not only the possibilities but the actualities of splendor
and luxury in the town where she had led a retired and humdrum existence
for nearly a lifetime. She now thrust her head forth from her dim old
cavern, and fed her eyes on the flowers and fields and skies and goodly
streams of the great world outside.

While Jane supported her mother against the lumbering charges of Granger
Bates's conversational cavalry, his wife engrossed Marshall's attention
for her dormitory. Her plans had taken shape in her own mind, and were
now beginning to take shape on paper.

"It's more than a mere dormitory, of course." She cleared a space between
them, and took up a dessert-spoon. "Here's the vestibule and
entrance-hall," she began, drawing with the spoon on the table-cloth;
"and here's where the stairs run up. Off to this side--John, do take some
of these glasses away--off to this side"--with a wider sweep of the
spoon--"is a sort of parlor and reception-room--quite a good size, you
see. Right next to it is the dining-room--so that they can be thrown
together, when the girls receive."

"Good," said Bingham; "nothing more civilizing than receptions."

"On this side of the dining-room," pursued Mrs. Bates, "is going to be a
sort of alcove--Jane, dear, just push me over that salt and pepper.
There!" She planted the two bottles in her alcove; "that's the tank for
tea, and this is the tank for coffee. Practical, don't you think?"--to
Bingham.

"First-rate. And I suppose you have a screen that you can put in front."

"Precisely." She laid a tiny spoon across her alcove. "Hardwood floors
down-stairs, throughout. Up-stairs, bedrooms for fifty girls, and each
one shall have a closet, if possible. We begin the foundations in five or
six weeks--as soon as the frost is out."

Susan Bates cleared a larger space, and appropriated more knives and
forks and spoons, and went on in a lower tone for Marshall's ear alone.
Jane strained to catch her words. She, saw her father blush once,
slightly, and then smile, as if partly flustered--as Jane herself phrased
it.

"What a dear good old sentimental soul she is!" thought the girl. "I'll
bet a cent she is asking pa to put up a dormitory for boys on the other
side of the campus!"

Mrs. Bates presently carried Jane and her mother into the library,
leaving the men behind to contemplate a litter of disordered wineglasses
and dishevelled napkins, and to smoke themselves out, in the course of
half an hour, to the women.

Mrs. Bates's talk, here as heretofore, was frankly personal. On a
previous occasion she had talked to Rosy's mother about Rosy; now she
exacted that Rosy's mother should talk to her about her own boy Billy.

"The best boy in the world; his father says he's making a splendid
business man." She took a cabinet photograph from over the fireplace.
"There; this is the latest, but it doesn't do him any kind of justice."

"Well, he's got a real _good_ face," said Eliza Marshall.

"And a real good-looking face, too," rejoined his mother, quickly. "Jane,
dear, run up to my room and get the one before this--that's something
like; second drawer on the left. And stop eying those books; you can't
get at them with anything less than a cold-chisel!

"But why should you depend on pictures?" Mrs. Bates observed, presently.
"See the boy yourself. Go down-stairs next time he calls. Oh, he will
call again, I assure you," concluded Susan Bates, archly.

"Tell him to inquire for ma, and send in a card for her, too," whispered
Jane. "Rosy's getting awfully sticky."

"'Sticky'?"

"Yes; fussy, stiff, critical--that's what it means, as near as I can make
out. It's a word Dick brought home from London."

"H'm," said Susan Bates, "I'll remember it."

The men, meanwhile, sat round the dining-room table. Marshall smoked with
the others and tried to forget his boutonnière--the first he had ever
worn.

"I shall make them very small and unobtrusive," Susan Bates had said;
"only a dozen violets." Marshall noticed that Bates had put his flowers
into his right-hand button-hole, and Bingham his into his left. Jane saw
her father hesitate; finally he imitated Bates. "Well, that's cutting it
pretty fine," thought the girl; "I wonder if there is a right or wrong
way. But think of pa with any button-hole bouquet at all! We shall budge
him yet!" She smiled; she knew the forces were all arrayed against him
to-night.

"What this town needs more than anything else," Bingham was saying, "is a
big assembly hall--one with a capacity of ten thousand, say. Something
not too fine--we've got that already; and something not too rough--we've
had that in plenty. A hall suitable for conventions, for promenade
concerts, for mass-meetings, for horse shows--in short, something after
the fashion of that magnificent thing in New York."

"The Madison Square Garden?" asked Bates. "You're perfectly right."

"Now that Garden," pursued Bingham, "is not exactly a paying
investment--wasn't meant to be. The last time I was down East--"

"Yes--"

--"some fellows there quoted it to me as an evidence of public
spirit--the spirit that we here suppose not to exist in New York at all.
The men who put it up could easily have got more on their money; but
there it stands, one of the most useful and beneficent features of the
whole city."

"We ought to have one here," declared Bates.

"And I should like to build it," declared Bingham. "The man who would
give such a thing to Chicago, or who would even take the headship of it
and make a suitable contribution, would be doing as much for himself and
for the town as any one man well could."

"But don't look at me," said Bates. "My wife has drained me: dry--you
know about her dormitory and all her other schemes. Look at--well, look
at Marshall. What is Marshall doing for the good of the city?"

Marshall lowered his eyes and fingered the broad foot of an empty
wineglass. He sat between two of the great powers of the town, and he had
never felt smaller. He wondered whether he had deserved his success; he
wondered if he himself had really made it. After all, he had come on the
ground before competition had fairly set in. He had done nothing by force
or by audacity; he had been slow, cautious, even timorous, and he
confessed inwardly that there were men in his own employ--men on a mere
salary--who were cleverer, readier, more resourceful than he--men who, in
a fair field and on even terms, could have distanced him completely. He
gave the wineglass another turn or two, and did not lift his eyes.

He heard Bingham's voice again. It was declaring that in the history of
every great mercantile city there was a single short period--a passing
moment, almost--on which the citizen who wished to impress himself upon
the community and to imbed himself in the local annals must seize.
Marshall heard him instancing the Fuggers, of Augsburg, and the Loredani
and Morosini, of Venice, and the Medici and Tornabuoni, of Florence,
and many other names alien and all unfamiliar--merchants, most of them,
it seemed, who had perpetuated their name and fame by improving the
precise moment when their town, like plaster-of-Paris, was taking its
"set."

"Make your impression while you may," concluded Bingham. "This is the
time--this very year. The man who makes his mark here to-day will enjoy a
fame which will spread as the fame of the city spreads and its power and
prosperity increases. You know what we are destined to be--a hundred
times greater than we are to-day. Fasten your name on the town, and your
name will grow as the town itself does."

Marshall drove home thoughtfully in the new carriage, with the new
horses, and August in his new cape-coat. Eliza Marshall, who had sat
gingerly upon the edge of her seat in driving out, now leaned back at her
ease when returning; it seemed that, with a little practice, she might
easily become habituated to luxury. As she re-entered her old familiar
parlor, she almost gave a gulp of mortification over its plainness and
shabbiness; for the first time in years she had given herself a chance to
know it for what it was.

"There, now," Jane declared loudly, "you've both seen what money and
brains can do. Well, haven't _we_ got money? Haven't _we_ got brains? Is
there any reason why _we_ shouldn't be known, and looked up to, and
respected?" And at breakfast next morning she opened out upon her father
once more. Her lunch-room was now, thanks to her solicitings and her
concert, in full running order, and moving on to a marked success. To-day
she was rising to a more ambitious plane. Not a college building, not
an assembly-hall; no, during the watches of the night she had risen to
the conception of a working-girls' home. Her father had been listening to
the mellow and flowing hautboy of Susan Bates, and to the deep diapason
of Tom Bingham; but his daughter had now pulled out the coupler and was
screaming shrilly above all the other voices of the organ. He felt almost
deafened, stunned.

The "second girl" came in, frightened. "What is it?" asked Eliza
Marshall.

"August is in the kitchen, with his face all cut and bleeding." Jane left
her father. "Let me go out and see what it is." It was another chapter in
the Van Horn matter. Roger, having become more familiar with police-court
methods, had been pushing things with greater vigor and effect. During
the past night two or three ruffians had broken into the stable, had
shattered the windows of the new carriage and defaced its panels, and had
beaten the coachman.

"There!" cried Rosy. "How much longer have we got to live down here among
all these savages and hoodlums?"

Eliza Marshall made no reply, and Rosy felt that this in itself was to
have gained a point.



XIII


Eliza Marshall meditated on the Bates dinner for several days succeeding,
and when the following Saturday morning came round she was still busy
with it. Saturday was her day for going over the antiquated accumulations
of her parlor; no hands ever dusted and replaced the ornaments on her
what-not save her own. She had been very chary of expressing herself
about Susan Bates's entertainment, even to Jane. But now she felt that
the time had come when she might trust herself to speak.

"I can't say I see the need of so many kinds of spoons," she said, as she
transferred one of her gilt candelabra from the what-not to the contorted
old rosewood centre-table: the candelabra were of an operatic cast--the
one under removal represented (though all unknown to Eliza Marshall)
Manrico and Leonora clasped in each other's arms beneath a bower-like
tree. "Cut right through the middle, too--so that you could hardly tell
whether they were spoons or forks."

"What could be better for ice-cream or salad?" asked Jane, who was
blooming forth as an authority on matters social. She sometimes assisted
her mother on these Saturday mornings--under close supervision.

"And three kinds of wineglasses," observed her mother, with some
disapproval. "Sort of showy, I thought. Kind of as if they wanted to
impress us, and let us see what--No!" she cried, as a figure came up the
front walk, carrying a tray fastened in front. "No! 'Melia, tell him we
don't want any suspenders or collar-buttons; we don't wear them."

"Showy!" called Jane. "My sakes! it was the plainest thing, I ever saw at
their house. If you could see _some_ of their doings!"

Eliza Marshall set back the candelabrum and transferred her attention to
a Rock of Ages in Parian marble. "I believe things get dirtier here every
year. I'm sure more dust comes in at that window than goes out." Then:
"Well, I don't see but what we're as good as anybody else; I don't see
but what we are as well worth taking pains for." She ran her cloth
resentfully between the arms of Faith and the arms of the cross.

"Oh, dear me suz!" cried Jane; "are you trying to get the poor woman both
ways? Her dinner was just right, and I am sure she took every possible
pains to have it so."

"What?" called her mother, craning her neck and contorting her features.
A locomotive was letting off steam opposite the house, and the noise and
the vapor came across the hundred yards of dead grass together.

"I say it was all right," shouted Jane. "Don't you suppose she knows how
to--Dear me! what's the use of trying to talk here?" She fell on the
mantel-piece and dusted its vases in silent desperation.

Her mother accepted this dictum as final--a proof of Jane's altered
status, and of the discretion with which she was carrying herself. "Of
course I am not a society girl," was the way Jane turned the matter over
in her own head; "I am a benevolent old maid, with a capacity for society
when occasion offers." Jane had kept this point distinctly in view, and
had now extricated herself from the squeezed and anomalous position
which, for the last few years, she had occupied between her two sisters.
"Alice thinks she knows everything, just because she's married," Jane
had said to herself a year back; "and Rosy thinks she knows everything
just because--well, I'm sure I can't exactly tell why.

"But anyhow, between the two, I'm being pretty well flattened out. I've
got to do _something_." And she had.

Jane, running on the new track she had laid down for herself, had
regained the consideration of Alice, and had even conquered the respect
of Rosy. Indeed, so far had she triumphed with her younger sister that
Rosy was even showing civility and goodwill to Theodore Brower, whose
regard for Jane had brought about his social rehabilitation. "I wonder
why he never cut his beard to a point before," Rosy said one day; "he
looks ever so much better. And I see that he has finally provided himself
with calling-cards. Well, if he leaves one behind every time he comes, we
shall soon have a fine litter."

"He won't, though," said Jane, "except when he calls on you."

"Well, he may call on me if he chooses," responded Rosy, with a gracious
condescension. "I'm sure he talks very sensibly."

"Never fear," retorted Jane; "he isn't competing with the British
aristocracy!"

Then Rosy would go up-stairs for a bit of pen-and-ink practice--to cover
a sheet with such words as these: Lady Rosamund This-or-that; Rosamund,
Countess of Thus-and-so; the Honourable Rosamund Such-a-one. She lingered
fondly over the baptismal "Rosamund"; what word could match more fitly
with a title, or harmonize more completely with the grand old names
of the peerage? Once she wrote on the extreme lower corner of the sheet:
Mrs. W. F. Bates. "Oh, pshaw!" she exclaimed, and tore the corner off and
threw it into the fire.

The locomotive had relieved itself, and no noise remained save the
jangling of a long line of freight-cars on another track. "Those people
who repaired the carriage," resumed Eliza Marshall, now beginning on one
of her Dresden figures--"those people who repaired the carriage spoke to
your father about--'Melia, shoo that tramp out of the side yard; of
_course_ we haven't got anything for him this time of day. They spoke to
your father about--"

She paused, and began to bestow an exaggerated care upon the figure now
under her hands--a dancing-girl of Seville. Jane paused in her own work
and waited for the rest. "Well?" she asked, presently.

Her mother wiped the head of the dancing-girl very carefully. The girl
had black hair parted in the middle and laid in two wide scallops over
her ears. "They told your father they were looking for a site to build a
new warehouse on."

Jane's heart gave a throb. "Well?"

Her mother applied herself painstakingly to the apron and petticoat of
the dancer--a petticoat striped in purple and green, and sprigged over
with some species of flower wholly non-botanical. She drew her cloth down
every stripe.

"They said they were hoping to find something just about in--in this
neighborhood."

Jane shrank and trembled as if before a knife. "Well?"

Her mother passed on to the girl's slippers. She wiped the worn gilt of
one stubby foot and then of the other. "They asked him to put a price
on--on--"

"On our home!" cried Jane. There was a tear in each eye as she bowed her
head over the mantel-piece.

Her mother returned to the Rock of Ages, and began to dust it again--as
carefully as before.

"Well," she said, slowly, without turning round, "there's a building of
that same sort a block or two south of us, already." She lingered on the
short arm of the cross. "The Blackburns are talking of going, you know."

Jane bowed her head again and picked at the fringe of the
mantel-covering--a foolish thing that she herself had embroidered and
draped. Now, for the first time, she formulated her mother. "I've half
known it all along," she thought, "and now I know it for sure." In this
moment she definitely saw her mother, not as a creature of the
affections, but as a creature of, mere habit. "And it's been so for the
last twenty years," thought the poor girl.

Eliza Marshall passed back to one of the candelabra; its cracked prisms
tinkled as her broken talk went on. "Well, I don't know, I'm sure. Our
last neighbors are leaving us. Business and boarding-houses all around.
And Rosy wants to change. And there's so much noise and dirt, and so many
peddlers and beggars. And--and--" She was thinking of Susan Bates's
library, but would not permit herself a spoken reference to it. "And
so much work to keep things tidy. And those miserable fellows breaking
into our barn. I don't know, I'm sure."

Marshall himself, meanwhile, talked the matter over with Belden and with
Roger, when Roger came in to consider the assault on the stable and the
policy of employing the police. "I don't know that I should depend too
much on the city's detectives," he had observed; "but I will have them go
down to the house, if you say."

Accordingly, one morning a brace of young Irishmen modestly traversed the
sidewalk which led around the house, and knocked with some show of
decorum at the kitchen door. Each had the fresh complexion of a recent
arrival, chestnut hair plastered in a scallop on his forehead, room under
his nose for a large red mustache, and room under his finger-nails for a
noticeable quantity of "matter misplaced." Presently they put on their
derby hats again and went out to visit the stable. Then they took their
departure and were never heard of more.

The next detective rang at the front door. He wore gloves and a high silk
hat. He was a tough and determined-looking person, whose progress
rearward the family attended with a close watch on their portable
property: he seemed much more corrupt and knowing than any mere
barn-breaker could be. He was more efficacious, too, than the duo that
had preceded him. Even in the stable he gave much less heed to August
than to August's mistress, and in the course of a few days he put his
hands on the offenders. Ten to one he could have done that without having
visited the premises at all.

Roger was the family counsellor in matters of investment as well as
matters of law. He had early made the observation that few lawyers
amassed a fortune in the strict practice of their profession; and he had
accordingly turned a prompt attention to building and to land, operating
largely for himself and for his father, and to the advantage of both.
Indeed, manipulations in real estate had done more for David Marshall's
fortune than had the pursuit of the grocery business--just as they had
done more for his son than the pursuit of the law.

"Your mother won't live anywhere but on Michigan, though," he declared to
Roger.

"She needn't," the other rejoined. "Move south three miles--if you mean
to make any change at all. The best houses in town are going up along
that stretch--just within the old limits. And a house there could be
turned into money at any time."

Roger, as a practical real-estate man, naturally put convertibility
before domesticity.

Marshall also canvassed the matter with Belden. Belden listened to him
somewhat coldly and impassively--with less interest, the old man thought,
than one's partner rightly should. But Belden took the idea of a new
house as another step in the social advance of the Marshalls. It seemed
to him almost like the challenge of a rival; and a rivalry like this
nettled him none the less from being so sudden, so unexpected; so
impracticable, as--six months back--he would have considered it. He felt
himself and his family outdone at every point. Rosamund Marshall had
eclipsed his own daughter at a dozen dances; Truesdale Marshall, thanks
to the half-jocular patronage of the press, was becoming in his way a
celebrity, while his own son merely led a dubious existence which
oscillated between the bar of the Metropole and the billiard-room of the
Lexington, and conferred little distinction upon himself of anybody else;
and even dusty old Eliza Marshall, almost despite herself, was being
dragged up into a circle to which his own wife, notwithstanding all her
lavish and industrious endeavor, remained as alien as at the beginning.

And, to crown all, Marshall himself had finally come forth as a public
figure. Belden had actually been obliged to sit at a banquet-board and to
hear this old man, usually so quiet and inexpressive, loudly applauded by
a hundred hard-headed businessmen, who, a month before, had received an
effort of his own with mere civil toleration.

This new advance of Marshall's was made partly by Jane's help, partly in
spite of it. "Speak?" she had said, when her father broached the subject
one evening; "of course you'll speak. You know all about the topic, if
anybody does; and here's an opportunity right at your hand. I'll help you
get up your speech, myself."

She did. She prepared a long address after the most approved rhetorical
models: a flowing introduction which walked all around the subject before
going into it; a telling peroration whose emphatic periods seemed to
render any subsequent consideration of the matter a mere piece of
futility; and in between, briefly and cursorily, the one or two vital
points of the whole discourse. Thus equipped, David Marshall was to rise
at half an hour before midnight, the last but one of a long line of
speakers, to claim the attention of a great roomful of men sated with
meat and drink and sodden with oratory.

But in the cloak-room the manuscript had slipped from his pocket, and at
the table all its overwrought periods had slipped from his mind. And at
midnight he rose to confront an expanse of disordered table-cloths and an
array of wearied faces, his own ace full of uncertainty, and nothing to
nerve his inexperience save a desperate determination not to disappoint
his daughter.

"Another old bore getting up"--from a distant corner of the smoky room.
"Any idea who he is?"

"Not the slightest." A yawn. "Take another regalia."

David Marshall had forgotten everything but his main points and the facts
that supported them. He began in the very midst of things. He spoke a
minute and a quarter--plainly, simply; and sat down the instant he had
finished.

He had spoken in his usual husky and sibilant voice. Nobody had called
"Louder!" however--because nobody had really wished to hear.

On his ending, the room rang with applause--the applause of gratitude,
largely.

"Well, the old fellow can say his say, after all, eh? And no blooming
oratory, either."

"And sense enough to cut it short--the last man usually shows the least
mercy."

As Marshall sat down his neighbor on the right shook his hand warmly.
"Why haven't you been doing this for us before?"

As he was leaving the hall, the secretary of another club, present by
accident, solicited an address on a cognate subject for a coming meeting
of his own organization. "Why didn't you give yourself a little more
time?" he asked.

Jane was wild with pride and pleasure; her father had given her the
results and not the process. "I knew you could, poppy; I just knew you
could. We'll start in on the other speech right away, and make it even
better than this. We'll show 'em, yet!"

But it was not Marshall himself, for all the inexplicable ease of this
success, who chiefly angered Belden. Nor had he any great feeling against
Rosamund, having no undue interest in the social rivalries of young
girls. Nor was he particularly incensed against her mother, being
offended chiefly by the ostentatious and invidious good-will shown her
by Mrs. Bates. But against Truesdale Marshall he nourished a hot and
rancorous grievance. He did not apprehend Truesdale's attitude towards
the town at large, and the young man's manner in his own house
(regardless of his insolent utterance) seemed to have carried a
half-contemptuous curiosity beyond all decent bounds. "That young
cockerel--I'll soon find a way to quiet his crowing. What does all his
singing and painting and fencing amount to, after all? He couldn't post
an item into a ledger; he couldn't even tie up a pound of tea. He can't
work off any of his foreign smartness on _me_!"

Truesdale, readily figured himself the reverse of _persona grata_ to the
Beldens, and stayed away; but this did not prevent his reception of
advices more or less regular from the heart of the Belden household.
"What's that absurd girl up to _this_ time?" he asked one morning,
as an envelope, directed in a hand already too familiar, came to the
door. He recognized readily enough the sprawling, half-masculine
penmanship of Gladys McKenna, as readily as he divined the rôle which she
must imagine herself to be playing. She was pretending herself to be
a prisoner in some hostile camp--a hostage in some dismal dungeon; and,
despite the close and suspicious watchfulness of those surrounding her,
she was still sending her little messages, all the same, to her _preux
chevalier_ on the opposing side. In the end her reward would come; she
and her knight....

"Ouf!" cried Truesdale, who scented all this crass and forward
romanticism between the trivial lines of her communications; "why does
she write, when she hasn't got anything to say?"

Sometimes she _did_ have something to say--a little. To her statements of
the disposition of the Belden family towards her correspondent, and to
her general recommendation to "beware," would be tagged indications of
her own individual movements. "Poor auntie is laid up with the neuralgia,
and Ethel has gone visiting in Kenwood, so I am the only one to be sent
to Field's for those gloves. Auntie says the best time for the glove
counter is about twelve-thirty, when the crowd is smallest."--"Yes,"
mumbled Truesdale, irritably; "and lunch at one."

Or: "They are going to let me go alone to Modjeska tomorrow afternoon--in
the street-car; just think of it! I think I shall ask for a seat in the
last row--I am so timid about fires." Sometimes she would add "destroy
this," or, "burn this." "Most willingly!" Truesdale would exclaim, and
throw "this" in the fire at once.

Or, again "Imagine; I am to have a tooth filled. Auntie says I needn't
trouble to go away down-town--there is a very good man right on
Twenty-second Street. 'Go early,' she says; 'and try to be over with it
by eleven, so that you can enjoy your lunch.' Did you ever know of such
thoughtfulness?"

"No, I never did," acknowledged Truesdale, grimly.

By these and other such subterfuges did Gladys keep her epistolary hand
in, until the time came when she really had something of consequence to
communicate.

Once or twice she also regaled him with the comments of the Beldens on
the building projects of the Marshalls. Truesdale had the same tepid
interest for these advices as for her other notes and comments. He did
not consider himself as particularly concerned. At best he was but a bird
of passage. And it seemed to him a sad error to load one's self down with
so dense and stationary a thing as a house.

The conferences over this matter went on, however, regardless of
Truesdale's non-participation. Jane discussed it with her father and
mother; and Rosy handled it, and Roger; and Alice came in from Riverdale
Park to stay overnight, and to contend with Jane and Rosy through the
steak and the griddle-cakes in the morning, as well as to intimate to her
father that if he would build out a little library from her parlor, her
husband could pay for the carpet and furniture; and Aunt Lydia Rhodes
came now and then and fluttered around the question, unsettling points
that had been looked on as settled for good and all, and raising other
points of her own that needed no consideration whatever. And, at the end
of a wearisome and contentious month, the matter--with what seemed to
everybody an extraordinary and reckless precipitation, the end once
reached--was finally arranged. Tom Bingham was to build them a house
in the neighborhood favored by Roger, and was to find an architect for
them--a reversal of the usual procedure which afflicted Jane with grave
doubts. And on the morning of the earliest day of spring, when the
piano-organs were trilling through the side streets, and the flower-men
were offering hurried shoppers their earliest verbenas and fuchsias from
the tail ends of their carts, Jane walked down to the store to look at
the signatures on the contracts for the new house.

"Ah!" she said to herself, thoughtfully; "we _are_ moving--faster than I
anticipated, and not precisely in the direction I had fancied."

She was in no degree elated; she experienced, on the contrary, a distinct
feeling of depression.



XIV


During those active weeks which followed the decision of the family to
surrender their old home to business and to contrive another one in a new
neighborhood towards the south, Jane had taken her full share in all the
debates and consultations. Hers, indeed, was the personality which
impressed itself most strongly upon the young architect whom Bingham
brought forward to evolve the plans, elevations, and specifications upon
which he himself was to work. In matters architectural Jane was a purist
of the purists, a theorist of the theorists; she fought this young man
steadily on points of style, and never abandoned her ground until the
exigencies of practicalities, reinforced by the prejudices of her mother
and the unillumined indifference of her father, proved too strong to be
withstood. "Well," she would say, "if we have got to sacrifice Art to
steam-heat and speaking-tubes...." The young man was both amazed and
exasperated by her spirit and her pertinacity; he could only be kept in
trim and in temper by Bingham's frequent assurances that she was a very
clever girl--and a very well-meaning one, after all.

Jane saw the plans composed, discomposed, recomposed, and, finally,
accepted as a working basis; then, in the interval between this and the
actual commencement of construction, she turned back a diverted attention
to her lunch-club.

This institution, at the start, had required her attendance and
ministrations but once a week. At present she was on hand twice a week,
and in the near future she was to be there still more frequently. Every
kind of co-operative endeavor, whether it involves the politics of a
ward, the finances of a bank, or the refreshment-table of a church
social, falls in the end on the shoulders of two or three people, and
Jane's undertaking was no exception. And as it became more a matter of
personal endeavor, it became, at the same time, more a matter of personal
pride. She frequently asked people to call and inspect it, and she was
coming more and more to feel that if the line of natural evolution were
followed out, then her own lunch-room for girls would be developed into a
home for working-girls by her father.

"There, poppy," she said to him one evening, as she put several sheets of
paper into his hands; "that's my notion of what could be done on a
hundred-foot lot. I haven't drawn the front yet, but here's the plan for
down-stairs, and another for one of the upper floors."

The germ of Jane's unexpected architectural facility was to be found,
perhaps, in Susan Bates's table-cloth drawings; and it had developed
during her long labors on those big brown sheets which Bingham's young
man had brought so many times both to house and store.

"But if you really want some notion of the front," she went on, "I can
give it to you fast enough." She turned over one of her sheets and began
to draw on the back of it. "Pooh! architecture's easy enough! It'll be
about five stories high." She sketched the five stories with five or six
lines. "In red brick--Romanesque style like this." She gave a broad sweep
with the pencil, grouping several rapidly evolved windows under a wide,
round arch. "And the cornice will be brick and terra-cotta; no galvanized
iron--_that_ I will not have. And a good-sized terracotta panel here over
the doorway, to tell who we are--like that."

She outlined a large oblong, and filled it with an indefinite jumble of
curly-cues.

Her father looked at the drawing, and laid it back on the table with a
wan and patient smile. "Some other time, Jennie; we'll think about it
when we haven't got so many other things on hand. Isn't the new house
enough for now?"

Jane studied her father's face for a moment, and then thrust the
drawings aside with a sudden and remorseful sweep. For he looked tired
and worn, and in the slight pallor of his face she noted the deepening
of old wrinkles and the appearance of new ones. "You poor old pa!" she
cried, "I didn't mean to worry you. It can wait, of course; and the more
we learn about building in the meanwhile the better we shall be prepared
for this when the time comes round."

She looked into his eyes; they seemed to her both haggard and appealing.
"I declare, you look just dragged out. Poor pal--just bother, bother,
bother. Something at the store?"

"There's always something at the store," he said, looking away. "I
haven't been feeling very well all day. I guess I didn't get my full
share of sleep last night."

Yes, there was always something at the store, and this time it was an
affair between Belden and the South town assessor. Belden--largely on his
own account, certainly without anything like a consultation--had
undertaken to secure a revaluation of the warehouse property; and he
had been so successful (through the use of arguments by which an assessor
may be moved) as to get a figure even lower than that of the previous
year, despite the increased value of the building. Unfortunately, he had
selected the very time when the scandalous inequality in assessments was
engaging the attention of an ambitious evening paper; and this paper had
just printed a cut of the enlarged building in juxtaposition to some
small retail grocery in a remote ward and precinct, which was assessed in
a ratio ten times as great--a vivid illustration of the manner in which
the rich were favored at the expense of the poor. Marshall felt himself
put forward as a criminal--a malefactor; he was assured, furthermore,
that a man who offered a bribe was worse than the man who accepted it.

He might have added too, that Belden was showing some disposition to
divert the house from its old conservative paths into the wild courses of
speculation. His dash and daring found an outlet in an endeavor to
manipulate the tea market, with less eye, perhaps, to profit than to
prestige--to primacy in the trade. The old man had given but a
half-hearted assent; he felt the credit, if any were involved, would
outrun the profit, and that the promise of profit was too little to
justify all the worry and care.

Nor was Jane's own enterprise, meanwhile, wholly free from difficulties.
There were distinctly days when the postponement of the millennium seemed
indefinite--when there appeared to be enough human nature remaining in
the world to secure the present state of things for many years to come.

"It's a good deal more complicated than I thought," she confessed to her
aunt Lydia, upon calling, one day, to invite her to visit the institution
and to inspect its workings. "Now, Miss Casey and Miss Erlanger, for
example, get along together all right, because Miss Casey is the cashier
in an insurance office, and Miss Erlanger is the stenographer for a
railroad president. Both of them kind of edge off from some of the
salesladies; and the salesladies are pretty nearly as bad among
themselves. Miss Maddox, who sells gloves on the first floor of
Bernstein's Bazaar, never quite wants to sit at the same table with Miss
Slopinka, who sells bolts and padlocks in the basement. So we have to
trim and fuss and compromise all the time; in fact, we've been obliged to
take in another room or two. However, that makes all the more to see."

Jane then added a few words to cover what she conceived to be the
etiquette of such a call. Aunt Lydia was not one of the kind to find any
force in a delicate intimation; so Jane said what she had to say as
plainly and pointedly as possible.

"Don't call during the rush; you'd only be in the way. And don't look at
the girls as if they were natural history specimens in glass cases. And
don't whatever else you do, be flip--"

"Flip? What a word! Where did you get it--there?"

--"and gushing, and effusive, and as condescending as if you had come
down sixteen pairs of stairs. I lost three girls the day after Mrs. Bates
brought Cecilia Ingles up. 'Why did you do it?' I asked her. 'I want her
to see things,' she told me; 'I want to make a good earnest woman of
her.' I hope she won't do it again. I sha'nt encourage many visitors
after this. I don't think it helps a place like that to be made into a
show."

"Well, I don't know," returned her aunt. "Wouldn't it be a good idea to
have entertainments and things, to bring the different sections of
society together? I should be very glad to help," she added, as she
debated the probable participation of Susan Bates and Cecilia Ingles.

"No, I'm not going to have any picnic business," returned Jane. "That's
all nonsense. I'm going to keep this thing within its own lines."

"I suppose I could bring Bertie with me," suggested the chastened Lydia.
"She thinks you're a perfect little tin thing-a-ma-jig on wheels."

"Yes," said Jane, "she can come; only don't bring a whole raft with her."

"I won't," Mrs. Rhodes reassured her; "only one more besides. You
wouldn't mind a third?"

"No, I shouldn't mind just one."

Then Lydia Rhodes made an immediate request of Truesdale to act as
escort; _he_ was her third. She took, in this malapropos manoeuvre, the
same delight that a child experiences through the consciousness of being
engaged in some mischievous wrong.

"Lunch with us at Fields," she directed him, "and then we shall get
around in time to see Jane wiping off her tables and putting away her
crockery. We go very simply--we wear sackcloth and ashes. As for the
portrait--that can wait a day or two."

Then she told Bertie very solemnly that they were to begin a study of the
philanthropies of a great city. But Bertie took her own view of the
expedition; Truesdale's participation made it seem rather like an
excursion into fairy-land. Now, more than ever, was she under the glamour
of this young man's accomplishments; now, more than ever, did she feel
the embellishing and decorative qualities of his presence. Not only had
she heard the composer sing his own songs; she had lately seen him paint
his own picture--and hers. "Why can't you do a little water-color or
something of Bertie?" his aunt had suggested to him one day, upon
encountering him in an attitude of graceful negligence before the
exposition of his own pictures. "It would please her so much. Do you
know"--lowering her voice as she looked towards the girl over her
shoulder--"the dear child has been down here eight or ten times to see
these things? Fancy how much it would please her to watch you actually at
work--on a portrait of herself, too."

Truesdale glanced sidewise towards Bertie, who stood in painstaking
scrutiny before one of the outlying pictures of his group. A pair of art
students in their careless working clothes, stood a little apart with
their eyes on the same work.

"Terrible knowing, ain't it?" remarked one.

"Yep," rejoined the other; "awful lot of snap."

"Just knocks it right out, doesn't it?"

"Fearfully up to date, ain't it? Doesn't need any '1893' on it!"

"Full of jump! Why can't we fellows here at home get more of that sort of
thing?"

Bertie's heart swelled proudly as she heard this jargon. It was quite
unintelligible to her, but she felt sure it conveyed extreme approval.
She turned to look at Truesdale just as he turned to look at her.

He shook his head in burlesque deprecation of her too obvious
appreciation, and then brought his attention back to his aunt.

"All right," he said; "I'll do it. I'll come down some day and paint her,
or you, or the front doors, or anything else you say." He pondered for a
moment, as he edged away a little from Bertie, and tried to carry his
aunt with him. "I suppose I shall be expected to look the part?"

"Yes," she responded, sympathetically. "Bertie has never seen an artist,
of course, but she has her ideas of how one would look. If it wouldn't be
too much trouble for you to...."

"Oh, I don't mind the trouble so very much," replied Truesdale,
magnanimously. "I hope I can put myself out a little. She might look for
a loose red tie, perhaps, and a Tam O'Shanter, eh?"

"And a velvet coat," suggested his aunt, ardently.

"Oh, bother a velvet coat; that's going a little _too_ far. She would be
more likely to look for a palette and a maul-stick."

"Why, certainly."

"Yes, they use those things sometimes. I wonder if she would insist upon
an easel?"

"I think I could arrange that," replied his aunt. She drew on an
expression of decorous and pensive sadness, and Truesdale knew that she
was mentally detaching her crayon of the dear departed from that
elaborate white and gold apparatus in her parlor. "And if you should care
for a few Persian rugs hung up around...."

"By all means!" cried Truesdale. "And a few Bedouin rifles; and a few
bits of brasswork from Cairo; and a few scraps of drapery from Bombay or
Trebizond; and one of those inlaid Turkish tables; and one or two stacks
of old French armor. I think with all that help I could do a water-color
or so."

"You're going to do her in oil," declared his aunt, stoutly.

"I am? Then I must have that table, sure. And a nargileh. And a dozen
Japanese swords, if you happen to have them about the place. And what
else?--oh yes; a small bit of canvas, now I think of it."

Bertie looked round once more, and divined herself under discussion. She
sidled away, past a long row of landscapes and marines, and drifted out
into the hall, where she leaned over the balustrade and studied the
mosaics of the vestibule below.

"Good little subject," said one of the students, looking after her. He
ran a sudden hand upward through his hair, which had lately fallen from
its high estate and had come to look like the hair of anybody else. "Get
that profile against a red plush curtain--"

"And drape her in a red silk kimono or something."

"And have a vase of Jacqueminots to one side--a study in reds, you know."

"Yes, I know, you know." He turned on his heel. "Well, this ain't work,
or anything like it. Come along up-stairs."

And up-stairs they went--through the main hallway.

Lydia Rhodes followed her protegee with a fond eye. "You know, Truesdale,
that she's just the sweetest little thing in the world."

"Oh, yes, I know."

"Why don't you go into the business?" asked his aunt, impulsively, as she
placed a cajoling hand upon his arm.

"The business? So I might. Well, you may pay me a hundred dollars for
this commission, if you like!"

"You know what I mean--your father's business. Now that they are making
it all over, they might easily find a place for you."

"Um," observed Truesdale, falling into a gloomy and chilling reserve.

His aunt saw the necessity of abandoning this new ground at once. "You'll
take pains, won't you?" she said, struggling back to her former position.
"You'll make it as nice as you can?"

"Well, it will be a sort of sketch, of course," said Truesdale, still
rather coldly.

"It won't, either," insisted his aunt; "it will be a real, regular
picture."

"She'd get tired of it. Do you think it's any fun to pose?"

"Tired!" said his aunt, scornfully. She thrust the supposition into the
outer darkness and slammed the door behind it. "How are you going to
dress her?" she asked, passing on with a resolute swiftness to detail.
"If you want anything of mine ... I've got a lovely breadth of old gold
satin; and then there are those Roman pearls you brought me."

"Dress her? I sha'nt dress her at all. I don't believe I shall want any
of your rugs, either. If they are on the floor, keep them there; that's
where they belong. No; I shall just put her before a plain wall in her
every-day clothes--the black hat and jacket she's wearing now. Won't that
do well enough?"

"We--ell," said his aunt, doubtfully.

Truesdale had juggled enough in his time with draperies and accessories
to know how to employ them here, if so minded; but he felt instinctively
that any such manipulations would now be quite out of place. "She's a
good, sincere, simple little thing," he said to himself, "and she will
speak better for herself than all those things could speak for her. I
shall make just a sketch--but a careful one. I shall do the best I can; I
shall make a very lady-like thing of it." Suddenly he flushed. "I shall
tear those old things up to-morrow--they've got to go sometime." He was
thinking of certain studies at the back of one of his portfolios; they
were _not_ ladylike. "Those models!" he muttered, in a tone at once of
objurgation and of self-reproach.

Truesdale came for the first sitting in a costume discreetly picturesque,
and his aunt frisked through all the preliminary preparations in a state
of great glee. Bertie surrendered herself to the process with an
expression of wondering self-depreciation; her large dark eyes shone with
a kind of surprised humility.

"If she wouldn't look _quite_ so much like one of Murillo's Madonnas,"
thought Truesdale. "This isn't really the most important thing that has
ever happened in the universe, after all." Then he sighed lightly.
"Still, I suppose she _is_ a good deal nearer to a Madonna than I am to a
Murillo."

Mrs. Rhodes seemed to feel the necessity of upsetting the whole
apartment. She had the inside man bring up the stepladder. "What's this
for?" Truesdale asked.

"To fix the curtains right. I can have them taken down, if you say. How
far up do you want the shades? Are those lambrequins in the way?"

"Good heavens!" cried Truesdale, "do you want to tear the house down? Do
you think I am Raphael painting the Pope?" But all this was only his
aunt's way of flattering him into a good-humor, and of making him share
her sense of the importance of the occasion.

As the work went on, however, his aunt's song changed imperceptibly from
allegretto to adagio, and from the major mode to the minor.

The change first appeared as she studied his charcoal outline. "Well,"
she observed, "I think you might have put Bertie somewhere near the
middle of the picture, instead of away off to the left, like that."

"They put them in the middle sometimes--yes," admitted Truesdale,
cheerily waving his aunt back. "I'm leaving the other side for you," he
added, with a genial impudence.

"Oh, that's it, is it?" And she half believed it true.

On the day following she was distinctly mournful. "Do you mean to tell me
that you can ever work over that mass of red and blue and yellow freckles
into anything resembling Bertie's complexion?--such a beautiful one,
too!" Bertie blushed. "There! look at it now!" cried his aunt, with a
mounting enthusiasm; and Bertie blushed still more violently. Truesdale
gave her a brief glance, which he at once transferred to his palette.
This was the first time in his life that he had ever lowered his eyes
from a woman's face, merely because there happened to be a blush upon it.

"Work it over?" he presently inquired, as he looked up to his aunt across
his shoulder. "I never work anything over."

"Is it going to stay that way?" demanded his aunt, peremptorily. Bertie's
own face was overcast, with an expression of plaintive distrust.

"Of course it is. I work in the primary colors. If you should prefer
something a little less advanced...." He waved his maulstick vaguely, as
if in reference to the professorial practice of Munich, or to the
antediluvian school of England.

"Well, if that's the way it's going to stay...." commented his aunt, with
her face close to the canvas.

"My dear aunt," protested Truesdale, "we don't look at a painting with
our noses, but with our eyes. I decompose what is before me into the
primary colors. Now the thing for you to do is to step back ten or twelve
feet and recompose them. That armchair over there is just about your
point of view precisely--and so inviting and comfortable! Try it."

His aunt removed herself to the point suggested. "Well, perhaps it
_does_ look a little better from here." And Bertie Patterson breathed a
tiny sigh of relief; for the last thing in the world she wished to be was
a witness to her young artist's failure.

"Of course," responded Truesdale. He gave an invocatory sweep with his
brush, and the spirit of complete modernity descended and perched upon
the top of his easel. "Just wait; it will be so naïve; it will seem so
improvised, so spontaneous--a regular little impromptu. Of course."

But the next day his aunt accompanied him to the front door when he took
his leave. Her tone to-day was one of out-and-out protest.

"Now, Truesdale, this has gone far enough. You may muss up the house as
much as you like, but I can't let you make a laughing-stock of Bertie.
When it comes to streaks of green under her chin, and purple shadows
under her hair, I--I don't think it is right. And she--she admires you so
much." His aunt's voice broke, and she seemed at no great remove from
tears.

"Dear Aunt Lyddy," returned Truesdale, with an unruffled imperturbability
and an exhaustless and patronizing patience, "you have never learned to
use your eyes; you don't know how to see. Did you ever try looking at
things from under your elbow?" He raised his own, as he fastened the last
button of his glove, and gave her a teasing glance from beneath his arm.
"You are quite transfigured," he declared; "it makes all the difference
in the world. Try it some time. Well, good-bye." He gave her his hand
without lowering his elbow, and then sauntered complacently down the
front steps.

Bertie watched him from behind the curtains of the front window. He wore
a black cape-overcoat, which swung gracefully as he moved along, and a
soft Fedora hat with a brave dent in the crown. "The most becoming thing
he could possibly have picked out," she thought.

Mrs. Rhodes came back to take one more look at the canvas. "It's a
perfect living picture of you, Bertie, except for the color. I can't get
around that." She leaned forward and twisted her neck round and looked at
Bertie from under her elbow, and then looked again at the canvas and
shook her head. "And as for naïvete from Truesdale...." she murmured. She
would as soon have looked for sunbeams from cucumbers.

Bertie, intent upon the painting, saw nothing of these manoeuvres. "I
guess it will come out all right," she said, with a reviving trust.



XV


When Jane looked up at the stroke of one and saw her aunt Lydia and
Bertie Patterson enter under the escort of Truesdale, she was not
completely pleased. Her rooms were no place for men, anyway--especially
young ones; and she had often wished that Truesdale, however worthy her
admiration and the world's, were a little less ready as to bringing his
fascinations into play. "If ever he comes down here," she thought, "he'll
wear something too striking, and he'll want to talk to the girls about
the continued stones in the magazines, or play the piano, or something;
and they'll think he's trying to flirt with them. I hate anything of that
kind--here," said Jane, virtuously.

Truesdale, however, conducted himself with an immense discretion, and
wore nothing out of the ordinary. His hats and shoes were now quite like
those of other people. His Florentine _stivaletti_ had drawn so much
attention in the street-cars that he had been obliged to give them up;
and as for the flat-brimmed high silk hat which he had brought home from
the Boulevard St. Michel, _that_ he had had to leave off after a
second trial: there were some things, he found, that people would not
stand. And his manner to-day was utterly stripped of gallantry; it was
gauged with the precise idea of meeting the approval of Bertie Patterson.
"I expect I shall seem awfully insipid," he said to himself.

Jane came to meet them from a room beyond, where she left a doughnut and
a half cup of coffee standing on a round-topped oak table. The regular
noon hour enjoyed by most of the girls was done; two or three remained
finishing their lunch or looking over the picture papers, and a couple of
them, in the little parlor, were trying duets on the piano.

"I'm the only one of the board on hand to-day," Jane explained. "So I've
been doing a little book-keeping and a little waiting and a little
everything. This is Miss Casey," she said, introducing one of the
piano-players; "and this is Miss O'Brien," introducing the other.

Miss Casey and Miss O'Brien bowed and smiled, and made a dexterous remark
apiece without too apparent an effort, and presently took an adroit
departure. They had already overrun their time, they explained.

"Walk around and look at things," suggested Jane. "We're pretty high up,
you see, but we don't save any rent, because the elevators make one floor
worth as much as another. Still, the light's good, and the air; and
there's a great deal less noise."

The others followed Jane's lead with much docility. Truesdale was
profoundly impressed by his sister's aspect under these novel conditions;
Bertie Patterson seemed to find in her the incarnation of all the town's
philanthropy; even Aunt Lydia was almost too deeply affected to chirp and
chatter with her wonted volubility.

"Here's the office," said Jane, leading them into a small, lighted closet
to one side. "This book is for our account with the butcher, and that one
is for our account with the baker. Our supplies are brought up on the
freight elevator every morning. Come and see the gas-stove, where we cook
eggs."

As they passed through the adjoining room a girl sat at one of the tables
with a piece of pie and a cup of tea. She was turning the leaves of one
of the comic weeklies, and a slight frown of intentness upon her face
indicated either a limited sense of humor or some unfamiliarity with the
subjects under review. The latter, perhaps; her face and air were
distinctly foreign.

"Poor Sophie!" said Jane, indulgently; "she's trying her English on those
jokes. She's improving, however; and she can speak French and German like
a fire-engine. I guess she's smart enough; anyway, she looks so."

The girl seemed of a type that might have come from Baden, or Alsace, or
the Franco-Swiss frontier. She had a high color and an abundance of black
hair. Her eyes, as she lifted them to Bertie Patterson, were dark and
narrow and full of sparkle and decision, and the half-frown, which still
survived from her study of the comic paper, helped to give her a look of
some force and determination.

Truesdale, on seeing her, gave a sudden start, and turned his eyes and
his face away at once. Then, with a quickened pace, he followed his
sister's lead towards the kitchen and pantry. He smiled half grimly.
"Such a thing may happen anywhere, of course," he said to himself; "but I
shouldn't have chosen it to happen right here. No--not exactly."

Bertie and Mrs. Rhodes followed after, to see the gas-stove that cooked
eggs. As they crossed the threshold, Truesdale looked back between them
towards the subject of his speculation. She had grasped her paper firmly
with both fists, and now sat with an intent stare fixed on its pages. She
neither raised nor lowered her head, nor could he observe that she looked
either to the right or to the left. "Ouf!" said Truesdale, as Jane lit up
the stove, "you never know when a thing is at an end."

Jane presently turned off her gas-stove. "You can go back through the
other room. It isn't quite so swell," she expounded, as she moved along;
"but we have several grades of girls, and each one finds her own level
and her own society for herself." She led the way back into the parlor,
and drew a finger along the key-board of the piano as she passed by.
"Anybody who wants to send a few new pieces of lively music may do so."

Two or three late lunchers had come in and were clattering their knives
and forks at the table opposite the girl whom Jane had called Sophie.
Sophie still sat in her place; she held her paper with a firm hand, and
turned the leaves at intervals. She looked up once--as the party was
passing out. Truesdale stepped over the door-mat rapidly, on the far side
of Jane and Bertie and Mrs. Rhodes. He dropped his glove that he might
stoop for it, and as he stooped he shot a rapid glance through the narrow
door of the other room. The girl still held her paper before her face,
but she sent a single look after the party athwart its side.

Truesdale stepped into the hall and pressed the button of the elevator.
"It's Sophie, true enough--not a bit of doubt about it. If she didn't
recognize me just now, she'll never have I another chance to--here."

He handed his charges into the elevator. "Well, what do you think of Jane
and her doings now?" he asked, briskly, as he stepped in after them. "Can
you think of any better opening for the investment of your idle funds?
Isn't she an able financier? Hasn't she got a great administrative
capacity? Isn't she one of the rising young men of the day?" As he flung
off this string of stock phrases from the newspapers, his eyes flashed
brightly, a mounting color came into his cheeks, and a triumphant smile
to his lips, and a caressing and ringing vibration into his voice. He
seemed to coruscate with all the conquering insolence of youth; Bertie
Patterson had never seen him quite so handsome.

"Down we go!" he cried to his aunt, as the cab resumed its course with a
sudden, breath-taking drop. "No; don't catch hold of me--I'm only a
broken reed. Yes; try the door-jamb--much more satisfactory. But look out
for your fingers--never get your fingers caught." Then, as they arrived
at the street level: "Wait a second; don't hurry. Be sure of your
footing; don't stumble and break your neck at the last minute--one poor
last little chance, after so many glorious opportunities have gone by!"

"'Sh, Truesdale!" whispered his aunt.

For there were other people in the elevator, and they looked askance at
this smart volley of verbal superfluities.

He led them out to the carriage. "Here we are on solid ground once more,"
he continued; "best place in the world to be. No; don't ask me to get
in--I'll walk on a bit. I wouldn't leave terra firma now for anything."
He handed his aunt in, and then Bertie. He exacted from Bertie a
perfectly superfluous shake of the hand, bowed over that hand with a
sudden access of gravity, and lost himself in an abysmal reverie before
he had traversed a hundred yards.

He saw before him a high-heaped assemblage of red-tiled roofs, and above
them rose the fretwork of a soaring Gothic spire. A narrow river half
encircled the town, and a battered old bridge, guarded by a round-towered
gateway, led out into the open country towards a horizon bounded by a low
range of blue hills. Trumpet-calls rang out from distant barrack-yards,
and troops of dragoons clattered noisily over the rough pavement of the
great square. The dragoons passed, and a colony of awnings and umbrellas
sprang up in their place, and bands of stocky peasantry chattered and
chaffered, and left the pavement strewn with the loose leaves of cabbages
and carrot-tops. Then night came and blotted these out, and the moon rose
and music played, and throngs of officers and students and towns-people
sat through a long-drawn evening before the coffee-houses round-about.
High towards the stars towered the columns and pediments of a vast
official structure, whose broken sky-line sawed the heavens, and whose
varied cornices and ledges were disjointed by deep and perplexing
shadows. On each side of the great portal which opened through the
pillared arcade there was stationed a mounted cuirassier, and above it
there appeared in large letters--

"Marshall & Belden," said Truesdale, suddenly emerging from his reverie.
He sprang lightly over the muddy gutter and found a foothold on the damp
flagging. "Pshaw!" he said, rather ruefully; "in a moment more she would
have come to meet me."

He looked up at the building before him. "Well, really, they've made
quite a decent affair of it. But what are they doing to the sign? Oh, I
see: putting 'The' to the front of it, and 'Co.' to the back. That ladder
looks rather shaky. The Marshall & Belden Co.' Perhaps it would be civil
of me to call on the new concern--seeing that I have chanced their way."

Truesdale picked his way choicely through the office, with the urbane
affectation of never having seen the place before. One or two of the
clerks recognized him, and a hurried word, passed from desk to desk,
effected an immediate establishment of his identity throughout the room.
Those who had never seen him had at least heard about him. Some of them
had visited his pictures at the Art Institute, and, as devotees of the
old school, if of any, had mildly guyed them. Others had read paragraphs
in the "Chappie Chat" of the newspapers about his trousers and
cravats--those genial paragraphs which may so easily endow a young man of
parts and peculiarities with a quasi-celebrity. One of them now smiled
broadly, and another so far forgot himself and his dignity as to wink;
but all the rest, as American freemen by birth or adoption, united in a
stolid determination to refrain from seeing, or at least from
acknowledging, any distinguishing peculiarity, any differentiation--above
all, any savor of superiority. The one of whom Truesdale inquired for his
father was so Spartan in his brusqueness that Truesdale, despite himself,
smiled in his face.

In the private office he found his father closeted with Roger. Crumpled
and trampled on the floor, and with the effect of a matter abandoned or
at least superseded, lay a large sheet of paper printed with the outlines
of a real-estate subdivision, while a hundred similar sheets rested in a
roll on the end of the old man's desk. Marshall himself lay back in his
chair, with marks of the exhaustion that follows intense indignation and
exasperation, while Roger paced the floor with all the vehemence and
choler of younger blood.

"Yes," Roger was saying, explosively, "the bond was opened, and all they
found was a blank paper--the alderman's name, and nothing more. Why do
you blame _me_? What more can _I_ do? What more could you do? What more
could any decent man do? And if you wanted to find out how things are run
here, you're doing it."

"What's the trouble?" asked Truesdale. He sat down with an engaging
disposition to show himself interested.

Marshall passed his hand feebly over his forehead. "It's that police
affair of your mother's," he said, in a tired voice.

"Well, I hope those two scamps have been sent to jail, or to Bridewell,
or wherever they belong. August will carry that scar to his dying day."

"Jail!" cried Roger. "No ward-worker need ever go to jail. They sent for
their alderman the minute they were caught. Our ward hasn't elected
anything but crime-brokers for the last ten years."

"Well, what did the present crime-broker do?"

"He went bail for them. He made out the bond himself--inside of thirty
seconds. He marked it so on the envelope, and the police-captain took it
for what he called it. So when these fellows jumped their bail--"

"Our alderman lost--his autograph. A bad take-in for the police, wasn't
it?" queried Truesdale, impartially.

"Take-in!" cried Roger. "It's easy enough to be taken in if you want to
be taken in--if you lend yourself to being taken in!"

His father gave a long sigh and dropped a helpless hand on his desk.
Truesdale looked into vacancy and gave a long, low whistle.

"And there you have it!" ended Roger. "You have lifted off the cover and
looked in. Do you want to go deeper? You'll find a hell-broth--thieves,
gamblers, prostitutes, pawnbrokers, saloon-keepers, aldermen, heelers,
justices, bailiffs, policemen--and all concocted for us within a short
quarter of a century." He drew his hands across each other. "I've never
felt so cheap and filthy in my life."

Truesdale made no further inquiries about the Van Horns. His fastidious
nature shrank back from all these malodorous actualities. He added his
own footprints to those which already defaced the map lying on the floor,
and asked about that.

"You're interesting yourself in buying land, I imagine."

"In selling," replied Roger, curtly.

David Marshall leaned laboriously over the arm of his chair with the
intention, perhaps, of crowding the crumpled map into his waste-basket.
Instead, he gave it several neat and careful folds and thrust it
abstractedly into one of his pigeon-holes. It found place alongside of a
bill for doctor's services handed in that morning. A porter who had
fallen down three floors of the elevator shaft had been attended by one
of his own friends. The bill was exorbitant--everybody concerned knew
that. But it was rather less than a probable award for damages--everybody
knew that, too. The excess was to be shared, of course, between doctor
and patient.

"Was there anything special?" his father asked presently, with a wan and
dejected glance towards his younger son. "If not, I think I'll put on my
things and go home. I don't quite feel myself today."

"Perhaps you'd better," recommended Roger, taking the roll of maps under
his arm. "I'll have these distributed from my office during the week."

"No, nothing special," answered Truesdale; "I just happened in. And I
think," he added to himself, "that I had better lose no time in happening
out. The idea of my running up against such a tar-kettle as this! Pouf!"

As he went out he passed along the front of Belden's desk. Belden himself
sat there attended, with the sort of deferential familiarity that
suggests the confidential clerk, by the Swiss, the Alsacian, or whatever
else, who on a previous occasion had moved the curiosity of Bingham.

This man caught sight of Truesdale as he passed, and gave him an instant
glance of recognition. He at once bowed his head over Belden's desk, so
as to hide his face among its papers. "A gentleman to see you sir?" he
suggested with a magnificent readiness.

Belden raised his own head and met the careless nod of the passing
Truesdale with a forbidding frown. "No, he doesn't want to see me. And I
don't want to see him," he muttered in a lower tone.

"You know him--is it not so?" the man insisted, with a kind of smothered
determination.

"Know him? Yes"--with extreme distaste. "It's young Marshall."

"Mr. Marshall's son?"

"Yes," Belden thrust some papers towards him. "Take these as you go."

The man put out his hand. "I know him, I myself, also," he said, looking
Belden full in the face with a steady eye. "Ich selbst." He struck his
breast and ventured on the liberty of a smile--a smile slow and sinister,
one that called for an understanding and challenged co-operation.

One might have fancied such a conjunction effected when, an evening or
two later, Truesdale received a "note" from Gladys McKenna. As he sifted
apart its numerous sheets he tried to recall whether he had replied to
her last; he could not remember having done so. "But sometimes they
_will_ write," he said, discontentedly, "and nothing can stop them."

Her pages led him a rough and rugged chase. She wrote a large, hasty
hand, with an unstinted expenditure of ink. "I declare," he said, running
several sheets over in succession, "she gets blinder and blinder the
further along she goes. And now"--turning back to the beginning--"let's
see what it's all about."

The letter assumed from the outset a mysterious and melodramatic
tone. "Perhaps, finally, she really has something to say," commented
Truesdale. But she went on, circling round her theme, dipping down to it
now and again, and then soaring up and away from it altogether. "Well,"
asked Truesdale presently, with a slight show of impatience, "what is
it?--something she doesn't fully understand, or something she does
understand but can't bring herself to write about? She 'listened,' she
says; to very small purpose, say I." He felt one moment that she was
more or less in the dark; the next, that she was making passes at some
forbidden theme; the third, that she was asking a more ardent recognition
of her loyalty and devotion. "She speaks of her 'position,' too. It's
'awkward,' it seems, and 'embarrassing,' and 'dangerous.' It needn't be,
though. She made it for herself, and she can unmake it whenever she
chooses. Well, I'll try all this again, when I've got more time; it will
keep. What is this, though, it says at the end? H'm; I am to remember
that if I have enemies I also have fast friends, ever yours
sincerely--oh, _that's_ all right." He crammed the sheets into his
bureau-drawer, drew on his gloves, selected a stick to his taste, gave
himself a last look in the glass, and sauntered out to dinner.

He had discovered a French restaurant within a kilometre of the house,
where he could dine _à prix fixe_ in a _cabinet particulier_ for five
francs, including a _demi-bouteille_ of _ordinaire_.

"That's something like," he declared. "That's what I'm used to!" He
thought with a shudder of the rest of the family going down to supper in
the basement dining-room--that time-honored, semi-subterranean dungeon.
"I'm glad, I'm sure, that they are going to have their new dining-room
above-ground; for their own sakes, that is to say--not that it will
matter the least to _me_!"



XVI


Truesdale airily waved the remaining coin from the plate to the waiter's
pocket and rose to go. He never omitted the giving of a _pour-boire_; "it
helps so much to increase the illusion," he said. The waiters,
accordingly, bestowed an exaggerated attention upon his hat and coat, and
had developed an almost clinging affection for his stick. They also
insisted upon passing things that he could very well reach for himself,
and their "bon soir, m'sieu'" was quite unfailing in its regularity.
"This shaggy town may have a silver lining, after all," he would think;
"but you've got to turn things inside out to find it."

Near the exit Truesdale noticed Theodore Brower sitting with a
_demi-tasse_ before him. "Hallo!" he called to Brower, "I didn't know you
came here."

"Once in a while," returned Brower. "I shop around. I'm a tramp. I eat
anywhere. And I'm getting tired of it, too." He rose. "Give me a lift
with this coat and I'll go along with you."

Brower was too incorruptibly native to give a fee; usually therefore, he
put on his coat for himself. "Well, what's the programme?" he asked,
feeling for his inside sleeves.

"Nothing," said Truesdale; "or anything. Only, I bar law, and
philanthropy, and the _Complete Letter-writer_. What have you got in
mind yourself?

"I though of going up to the Consolation Club; this is their night."

"Sounds sort of soothing," observed Truesdale. "Well, what do _they_
do?--nothing like the pow-wow at the Crepuscular, I hope. Are strangers
admitted?"

"What do they do? They try to show that the world isn't so bad as it
seems. They'll let you in all right."

"Because I'm not so bad as I seem? Thanks. They don't have a dinner, I
hope."

"No dinner."

"But they give you a bite later on, don't they? I was almost famished at
the Simplicity. What will they talk about?"

"Almost anything; you never can tell. Come along." Truesdale, as an
individual, interested Brower but moderately; Truesdale, as Jane's
brother, interested him extremely. "You state your case--that's the idea;
and the worse you make it, the better the face they try to put on it."

"Do I? Well, I don't know that I've _got_ a case. And if I had, I might
prefer to keep it to myself. However...."

The Consolation Club met in an upper chamber on Erie Street, and carried
on their deliberations under a large plaster bust of the prince of
optimists. The patient Emerson listened to the discussion of many a
burning question, and witnessed the application of many an alleviating
salve. Sometimes the question was personal; they soothed the book-keeper
who had been cut on the street by his employer's daughter. Sometimes it
was national; they commiserated the citizen who had been intimidated
at the polling-booth. Sometimes it was a question of right--like a
uniform divorce law; sometimes merely a question of expediency--like the
tariff. But principally they discussed the affairs of a vast and sudden
municipality; they bade one another not to despair, after all, either of
the city or of the republic. And towards eleven o'clock the priests of
the cult saw an offering of cheese-sandwiches and beer set before their
idol, and presently, in true sacerdotal fashion, they fell upon these
viands on their own account.

"Oh, come," said Truesdale, shrugging his shoulders, as he cast on Brower
and his circle a look half of expostulation and half of embarrassment,
"I'm not entitled to annoy your friends with any such filthy trifle as
_that_. Besides, I don't claim it as any grievance of _mine_." He
thought, privately, that his mother's disposition to dicker with the
populace was no more creditable than necessary; he could take no great
pleasure in dwelling upon it too lingeringly.

"Oh, go ahead," urged Brower; "our fellows here are interested in just
that sort of thing. If you should want to come in, we'll take it as your
initiation."

"Do," added another member. "I believe that for every one man who leaves
the polling-place with a waning confidence in the present and a clouded
hope for the future, there are scores who thus leave the lower courts of
justice."

"Oh, very well," replied Truesdale, throwing out his hands in his light
French fashion. And he recounted the whole chain of circumstances which
had so exasperated his father and baffled his brother, from the first
panting appearance of frowzy old Mother Van Horn on his own mother's
door-step down to the forfeiture of the fictitious bail-bond by her two
grandnephews. He gave his narrative in a series of light, graphic,
delicate touches. He almost saw it print itself before his very eyes,
like a page from one of those beautiful little volumes made by Hachette
or by Lemerre--those sprightly, broken pages, where a paragraph consists
of a line or even a word, where brief exclamatory phrases abound, and
where short rows of dots leave the reader to complete the meaning at his
own pleasure. He even gesticulated a tiny illustration or two into the
edge of the text. Seldom had these earnest and intent young men heard
such a theme presented with so many nods and becks and wreathèd smiles;
it seemed like the stirring of a cesspool with a silver soup-ladle.

"And what consolation have you to offer me for that?" smiled Truesdale,
as he finished.

He himself appeared to share but slightly the indignation that his
recital aroused; after all, these doings were alien to him--like the
domestic difficulties that might be distracting some ant-hill in
mid-Africa. But on the others it produced the effect that the recital of
specific injuries always does--and should.

"This, for example," answered a sardonic young man, whose close-shaven
black beard showed through his drawn and sallow skin: "that we are at
last playing the game with all the pieces on the board, with all the
cards in the pack; with all the elements, in other words, of a vast and
diversified human nature. The simple hopes and ideals of this Western
world of fifty years ago--even of twenty years ago--where are they now?
What the country really celebrated at Philadelphia in 1876, however
unconsciously, as the ending of its minority and the assumption of full
manhood with all its perplexities and cares. The broad life of the real
world began for us the very next year--"

"You mean with the railroad riots?" asked Brower.

--"and has been going on more fiercely ever since. Take a man who was
born in 1860, and who is to die with the century--what would be _his_
idea of life? Contention, bickering, discontent, chronic irritation--a
régime of hair-cloth tempered by finger-nails."

"Yes," said another, "as you say, we have all the elements at last. And
the elements of human nature are unchanging--like the elements of
chemistry; and they combine in the same unchanging fashions. Imagine a
reconstructed universe without sulphur or nitrogen; or imagine elements
that combine to one purpose in this corner of the laboratory combining to
another purpose in that. The same human compounds are produced through
the ages, and the elements that follow one formula in the old world will
follow the same formula in the new--even if they break the crucible. A
generation ago we thought--poor pathetic creatures--that our pacific
processes showed social science in its fullest development. But to-day we
have all the elements possessed by the old world itself, and we must take
whatever they develop, as the old world does. We have the full working
apparatus finally, with all its resultant noise, waste, stenches, stains,
dangers, explosions."

"Um," said Truesdale, to whom these observations sounded disagreeably
like oratory; "how does all this bear on my case? I _call_ it mine,
to observe the forms," he added, with a smile to which no one responded.

"I can tell you that myself," broke in Brower. "The last twenty years
have brought us elements that have never been in our national life
before: a heavy immigration from southeastern Europe, for example. The
populations of Italy and Poland and Hungary--what view, now, do _they_
take of the government--their government, all government? Isn't it an
implacable and immemorial enemy--a great and cruel and dreadful monster
to be evaded, hoodwinked, combated, stabbed in the dark if occasion
offers?"

"Quite right," acknowledged Truesdale. "Why, to-day, when the peasants
come into Rome from the Campagna, they always bring their pitchforks with
them--you can see them any Sunday behind the Capitol. They're going to be
murdered or robbed or imprisoned or something."

"And when these people have been out of the government from generation to
generation, and opposed to it and mistrustful of it, is it an easy
matter, on their coming over here, to make them feel themselves a part of
it, and to imbue them with a loyalty to it?"

"One thing more," broke in the first speaker. "There is another element;
it is imported from the nearer half of Europe, and is a more dangerous
element still. I mean the element of feudality."

"Oh," said Truesdale, "now I begin to see."

"The essence of feudality is the idea of personal loyalty. Now, loyalty
to another individual is a good thing in its way and in its own field and
in a certain measure and at a certain juncture.

"But it is not the right prop for a great republic. That requires not the
idea of personal loyalty to some chief, but the idea of personal
responsibility to a cause above all chiefs. This takes a breadth of view
and a loftiness of ideal that only one race in the world has ever
possessed--our own. The great man, politically, is the man who can
eliminate the personal element from a great cause. The little man is
the--well," turning to Truesdale, "there are the general data; make your
own application of them."

"I see," said Truesdale; "my people are naturally against the governing
powers anyway, from instinct and heredity; even when one of them does
attain official position, it is only the position of the worm in the
apple. And they think, too, that it is a more sane and practical thing to
help one another out of a tangible difficulty than to sacrifice one
another to an intangible cause. I never contended they were not human!"

"That isn't all, by any means," said Brower, determinedly. "There's just
as bad behind." He resettled himself in his chair, as he claimed the
attention of the room. He seemed to Truesdale as if seating himself in a
saddle--a saddle on the back of some well-ridden hobby. Truesdale already
heard the steed pant and champ.

"This town of ours labors under one peculiar disadvantage: it is the only
great city in the world to which all its citizens have come for the one
common, avowed object of making money. There you have its genesis, its
growth, its end and object; and there are but few of us who are not
attending to that object very strictly. In this Garden City of ours every
man cultivates his own little bed and his neighbor his; but who looks
after the paths between? They have become a kind of No Man's Land,
and the weeds of a rank iniquity are fast choking them up. The thing to
teach the public is this: that the general good is a different thing from
the sum of the individual goods. Over in the Settlement we are trying to
make those new-comers realize that they are a part of the body politic;
perhaps we need another settlement to remind some of the original
charter-members of the same fact!"

"H'm," thought Truesdale, "I believe Brower is an awfully fine fellow;
but if he keeps up this kind of talk all the time with Jane...."

Then, as they passed out into the street a few minutes later: "I don't
just see where my consolation comes in, after all."

"Perhaps they thought," responded Brower, "that you wouldn't appreciate
the beauty of consolation until you had first appreciated the gravity of
your case. I think their idea was less consolation than instruction."

"Ouf!" said Truesdale, who disdained instruction from whatever source.

"Do you know," said Brower, at the first crossing, "I'm going to talk to
your father about this justice business."

"Well," rejoined Truesdale, "he'll listen to you if he'll listen to
anybody; but he's awfully sore about it."

"So are other people sore about it--hundreds of people much poorer and
humbler than any of us, people to whom the miscarriage of justice is not
a mere matter of exasperation and annoyance, but a real matter of life
and death. They want care and attention--as the doctors say; they need a
law-dispensary--that's about it. There are institutions that look after
people's minds and bodies gratis; I want to see an institution started up
that will do as much for their estates. I want to see a building for it,
with an endowment and a library and a force of practitioners. To think of
all the things that a man with money and ideas and sympathies might
do--and should do--in a town like this!"

"You might try him," said Truesdale, doubtfully; "but I think Jane has
got the inside track. You've heard about her Home, I suppose, and seen
the plans for it. I should _want_ to put up an architectural monument in
such a ghastly town as this; I should as soon think of ramming an angel
into a coal-hole."

Yes, Brower knew all about Jane's Home--much more than Truesdale did, in
fact; but this did not prevent him from asking for all manner of
information about the project. He did this purely for the pleasure of
talking about Jane herself; and he wondered time and time again whether
he had not betrayed to Jane's brother the particular kind of interest he
was developing in her. He felt that his beard offered but a slight
concealment to the nervous twitching of his mouth, and that, despite the
muffling of his heavy overcoat, the throbbings of his heart must be as
perceptible to Truesdale as to himself. And when Truesdale presently made
the ungrudging avowal that Jane was a pretty good sort of girl, after
all--the _ne plus ultra_ of a brother's praise--Brower was driven to
thrust a trembling hand inside his coat to reduce his thumping organ to
something like subjection.

His admiration for Jane had been based originally on her essential
qualities; certainly he had received no quickening impulse, at the
beginning, from a contemplation of her mere exterior. He had looked upon
her as a valuable text put at a disadvantage by an unprepossessing
binding. But now there came the issue of a new edition, in a tastefully
designed cover, with additions and corrections, with extra illustrations,
too--illustrations of a startling social aptitude; and with even a hint
of illumination--the illumination that comes from the consciousness
of a noble purpose. Brower now began to feel, with a rising pride and
pleasure, that Jane was at last doing herself the fullest justice.

Jane, in the meanwhile, with no thought of a possible competition between
rival collectors for a certain rare old volume, was helping Tom Bingham
to build the new house. She went out southward two or three times a week,
and carried a tape-line with her. As she once explained it to Bingham:
"You can't be too sure of having things right at the start." So she
measured the foundations with her tape-line when the distances were
short, and paced them off when they were long. She kept a close eye on
the work through each advancing stage, and saw that it was good.

One Sunday morning in mid-May, Jane took the street-car--one of those
leisurely green ones that run to the Old People's Home--and went out to
satisfy herself that the first courses of dressed stone were going into
place as they should. May was speaking truly in the mildness and
freshness of the air, in the slow passing of the light and expansive
cumuli across the wide blueness of the sky, in the grasses and dandelions
springing up among the stark weeds of last year that swayed and rustled
on every vacant lot. From her stand-point among the heaps of brick and
sand and yellow lumber that surrounded the site of the new house, Jane
saw the fronts or sides or backs of other new houses placed dispersedly
round about: their towers and turrets and porches and oriels and the
myriad other massive manifestations proper to the new Stone Age. Between
them and beyond them her eye took transversely the unkempt prairie as it
lay cut up by sketchy streets and alleys, and traversed by street-car
tracks and rows of lamp-posts and long lines of telegraph poles and the
gaunt framework of an elevated road. In one direction she saw above the
dead crop of rustling weeds the heads of a long line of people on their
way to church; in the other direction, the distant clang of a passing
gong drew her eye to the vast advertisement which glared in the sun from
the four-story flank of an outlying shoe-store. "I hope the next man who
builds will shut _that_ out," she thought.

Presently a light buggy drove up to the curbstone, and a large, stout man
within it squeezed his way out carefully between its muddy wheels. Then
with a jerk he landed his hitching-weight in the roadway, clicked the
catch in the end of its strap to the ring at his horse's bit, and
advanced towards the house. It was Bingham.

"So you have concluded to give us a little attention, finally?" was
Jane's greeting. Her tone was slightly hectoring; this was to punish him
for having lately taken more of her thought than she felt him entitled
to.

As a matter of fact, Jane was uncomfortably mindful that more than once
within the past month she had opened the morning paper to Building Notes
before giving due heed to Insurance News. She had been distinctly pleased
to read that the Bingham Construction Company had just got one big
building ready for tenancy, or had just been awarded the contract for
another; and once, for a week, she had followed the head of it through a
particularly stubborn bricklayers' strike with the most avid interest.
Indeed, she had only been brought back to herself by a fire which had
damaged one of Brower's companies to the extent of five thousand dollars
and another to the extent of ten. After that she chained her wandering
attention to such matters as short rates and unearned premiums, the
organization of new companies and the bankruptcies of old ones, the
upward climbing of sub-solicitors and assistant managers, the losses
suffered by the companies represented by the agency of Brower & Brand,
and, above all, the closest scrutiny for the name of Theodore L. Brower
himself. Nothing pleased her more than to read a paragraph announcing
that he had gone East to attend a general conference--except, of course,
his return.

Sometimes, as she sat alone in her room, mending her stockings or taking
timely stitches in the fingers of her gloves, she would further fortify
herself by humming a scrap from the refrain of a song she had once heard
at a concert. "_Toujours fidèle_," she would moan in a deep contralto
voice, as she drew her needle slowly in and out; "_toujours fidèle_." She
paused lingeringly on the second syllable of _toujours_ and on the
middle syllable of _fidèle_, and repeated the phrase over and over again
at short intervals--that was all of the song that she knew. And after she
had chanted it a dozen times or so, her heart would soften and her eyes
would overflow, and she would have to pause in her work. Then she would
look at her brimming eyes in the glass, and wonder how she could ever
have had a thought for any other man than Theodore.

While poor Brower would sit at his desk and bemoan the fate that
compelled him to insure houses instead of building them. He had waited
until thirty-five for his first affair, and he was foredoomed to take it
has hard as a man may.

"Yes," pursued Jane, "you thought you would come and see whether they
were building us upside down or hindside before, I suppose."

"Everything looks all right," said Bingham, serenely. "The foreman can be
trusted, I imagine. What's that you've got in your hand?"

Jane held out a battered horseshoe, to which a few twisted nails were
still clinging. "I picked it up a minute ago. I was thinking about laying
a corner-stone--or relaying it."

"Good!" said Bingham; "the better the day, the better the deed. Do you
want to put that horseshoe under it?"

"Um, h'm," replied Jane. She walked along the top of the foundation, and
Bingham followed her.

Jane moved on until she found a practicable stone in a suitable angle.
"About here, I think," she said, tapping the stone with her toe.

"Do you want me to pry it out?"

"If you can. There's a sort of sharp stick over on that sand-pile."

Bingham removed the stone, and imbedded the horseshoe among the
sharp-edged fragments which had been worked into the course beneath.

"I want it to stay, too," declared Jane, as her eye roamed towards the
half-dried mortar-bed just beyond the foundation trench. "Wait a second."
She skipped across the small chasm which intervened between the
foundation-wall and solid ground. She scooped up some water from a hallow
puddle with a battered tin can, and began the formation of an oozy little
pocket in the middle of the mortar-bed. "Now if I only had a shingle,"
she said, after she had reduced the mortar to the consistency of slime.

"No shingle would hold that," said Bingham, jumping across after her.
"Here, give me that can."

He poured a quart or two of mortar on top of the horseshoe and reset the
stone "There!" said Jane, bringing her whole weight upon it.

"Good-luck to this house and household!" said Bingham. He raised his hat;
she could not tell whether he were in jest or in earnest.

"It needs all the luck it can have," said Jane. "It may be a nice house,
but it will never be home."

"Oh yes, it will," said Bingham, soothingly.

"Oh no, it won't," returned Jane, permitting herself the luxury of a
little woe. "Even if we _do_ have wreaths of flowers in all the
washbowls, and transoms that you can open and shut without getting on to
chairs, and a what-you-may-call-it to regulate the furnace heat without
going down cellar--all the same, it won't be our dear old home."

"No; a better one."

"Well," said Jane, resignedly. She lifted her eyes and pointed her finger
aloft. "I suppose I shall be up there, somewhere."

"Oh, not yet," replied Bingham, bringing his eyes back from the clouds.
"You look very well fitted for your present sphere."

"I didn't mean all the way up," said Jane, smilingly dismal. "I only
meant the next floor--yet awhile."

"That's better. Don't be an angel just yet; you're too useful here."

"If not ornamental."

"Too ornamental, too."

"I never claimed to be that," observed Jane, dropping her eyes. "Do you
think I'm--improving?"

Jane stood there on the foundations, clad in the ample and voluminous
fashion of the day and topped off with a distinctly stylish hat. She had
had a long regimen of fencing and dumbbells, and her self-imposed
superintendence of the new house had led to many hours spent in the open
air. Her hair was blowing airily about her face, and on her cheek there
was a slight flush--produced, perhaps, by her own question.

"Decidedly," replied Bingham, promptly.

"Thanks. There's always room for improvement. It's the biggest room in
the world, somebody says."

She gave another look at her corner-stone. "Well, what do they do after
the last sad rites? They go home, don't they? Yes; let's go home."

"Suppose I drive you down? I'm going your way."

"I _have_ got a nickel, somewhere," said Jane, "and I was going back on
the elevated, for a change; but--well, all right."

And she let him help her into the buggy.

"Monstrous big house, isn't it?" she commented, as she overlooked the
foundations from this loftier point. "I don't know how we are ever going
to fill it."

"Oh yes, you will," said Bingham, gathering up the lines. "Your father
and mother, and your brother and Rosy..."

"I don't know as to Truesdale; he's such a fly-about. You can't depend
very much on him. And I don't feel any too sure about Rosy, either," she
added, inwardly.

Her state of uncertainty about Rosy was shared, in fact, by all the rest
of the family; it looked decidedly as if the youngest daughter were to
leave the shelter of her father's roof before the completion of her first
year in the world. She was a maiden choosing, and the absorbing question
was--which? On the side of William Bates there was his position, his
ability, his certain future, and the sentimental resumption of old family
relations. On the side of Paston there was an entertaining personality
and the paragraph in Debrett. The two met occasionally in the Marshalls'
front parlor, and sat each other out with much civility and
pertinacity--Bates somewhat firm and severe, Paston extremely gay and
diverting. Jane and her mother lingered in the _coulisses_ and even
ventured a word now and then with the _ingénue_ after she had left the
boards. But the more the family found to say directly and indirectly on
behalf of William Bates, the more resolutely Rosamund turned her face in
the opposite direction.

"You can't influence Rosy," said Jane; "she'll have her own way--that's a
point there needn't be any doubt on. And that boudoir of hers in the new
house may come around to me, after all, unless I--"

Jane flushed vividly as she thus cast her own horoscope. Bingham at this
moment drew the buggy up alongside the curb in front of the old house. A
young man on the sidewalk was just approaching the front gate. "Dear me!"
gasped Jane, inwardly, "what a miserable sinner I am!" Her heart sank and
her appetite left her. The young man was Theodore Brower; she had invited
him to dinner and had forgotten all about it.



XVII


"Well, those are my views," said Belden. He elevated his eyebrows
slightly as he dropped his glance to a row of shapely nails that lay
closely together on the thick of his thumb, and an imperceptible smile
moved slowly under the cover of his thick mustache. "To right completely
such a wrong as this there is only one course that _I_ know of."

Marshall ceased his earnest scrutiny of his partner's face to rest his
elbow on the edge of his desk and to drop his weary old face into the
hollow of his hand. There were more wrinkles on his cheeks, more white
hairs in the dull dry red of his beard, more signs of sleepless hours in
his anxious eyes.

Belden raised his hand and swept it across his mustache. The smile
beneath escaped and spread upward over his face. His nostrils, too,
dilated--half triumphally.

"It's a most unfortunate affair," he observed further, continuing his
series of careful modulations. "There is an error made, a false step
taken; the family flee their past to begin life anew in another land; yet
at the very threshold of their new life they meet the first cause of all
their misfortune and misery." Belden sighed.

His sigh seemed at once to breathe a deep sympathy and to call for the
meting out of justice at whatever cost--to some one else. As Belden
sighed, Marshall himself almost gave a groan.

He accepted these carefully composed observations for precisely what they
seemed. He was too inexperienced in the drama to detect the essential
insincerity of every word, though there was not one of the lowliest of
his clerks but had heard every one of these phrases bandied across the
footlights time and time again.

"I must acknowledge," continued Belden, as he moved towards the door,
"that her father has acted with a good deal of reasonableness and
forbearance. You can imagine Leppin's anxiety, without any word from me.
You can feel how keenly he looks forward to having justice done--to
having complete reparation made. You know what that means as well as I
do."

And he passed out, leaving his senior to ponder the matter alone.

Belden was the first person with whom Marshall had permitted himself a
full canvass of the situation, the sole husbandman towards whom he had
turned for assistance in garnering the first-fruits of Truesdale's career
abroad. Never before had evil grazed against him and his; he had regarded
it, in fact, as something appertaining principally to ill-regulated
persons in a lower walk of life. He had heard of such subjects as being
handled in fiction, and he had noticed them touched upon in the
theatrical reviews of the newspapers. But nothing of the sinful, the
vicious, the malodorous had ever, within his recollection, come to his
family, to his friends, or even to any of his business associates. Yet
here it had come at last, and it must be confronted.

He had quite shrank from the ordeal of considering the matter with so
nimble and experienced a person as Truesdale himself, and he was almost
too Anglo-Saxon in his pure-mindedness to attempt an over-intimate
discussion of it with his own wife; it took a large share of his
fortitude to broach the matter even to his elder son.

"I can't talk to Truesdale about it," said this virginal old man, as he
sat in Roger's office; "you've got to do it. I can't."

"Well, really, father," began Roger. He had almost the air of resenting
an imputation.

"I don't mean that, Roger," said his father, in some distress. "I have
every confidence in you; I believe you're all right. But--"

"Has anybody seen the girl?"

"Your mother says that--well, she says that Jane has seen her"--he
brought in his daughter's name with a great distress--"and your aunt
Lydia. She told your mother she was sure this girl was one to lend
herself to--to--"

"H'm," said Roger, in a non-committal way. He always subjected his aunt
Lydia's opinions and impressions to a double discount.

Meanwhile the odor of Truesdale's offence permeated the house as
completely as the office. Rosy wondered what could be under way as she
saw her mother and Jane seated on unaccustomed chairs in unaccustomed
attitudes at unaccustomed times in unaccustomed rooms while they engaged
in brief and infrequent interchanges of words, or co-operated for the
production of long and eloquent silences. Jane, in fact, took the matter
with the rigorous thoroughness of the complete theorist. She knew what it
was to thread the mazes of a guilty conscience through half a dozen
consecutive chapters; she knew how it felt to see the agonies of
acknowledged sin transferred from chair to sofa and sofa to chair over
the full extent of a large and well-equipped stage. How the leaves had
fluttered! How the footlights had palpitated! How those people had
suffered--and how she had suffered with them! How she was suffering
now--and how much greater still must be the suffering of her erring and
idolized brother!

"If he had only been born with eyes like other people's!" she would moan.

The actual mental state of Truesdale was, however, with Jane and with
everybody else, a matter of pure conjecture. Very little, in fact, was
seen of him. He breakfasted in his own room, as he had done ever since
his return home. When the waitress had declined to enter the chamber with
his coffee and rolls he had shrugged his shoulders and had directed to
have them set on the floor outside. "_Quelle pudeur!_" he more than once
observed, as her knock drew him towards the door. His lunch he took
wherever he happened to be, and he dined at his French restaurant, or at
a new Italian one where the _spaghetti_ was unapproachable, and where
everything was cheap, plentiful, and informal. He returned home at his
own discretion, and sometimes was heard working upon the obdurate old
night-lock at midnight or later.

Among the first of the family to have extended speech with him after the
_exposé_ was his aunt Lydia. He had gone to her house to put the
last few finishing touches to Bertie Patterson's portrait. To his aunt
and to Bertie herself the portrait seemed already finished, but it is
only the artist who knows when the end has really been reached. He asked
his aunt for Bertie.

"Well," she hesitated, as she looked at him with a kind of furtive and
wondering interest, "Bertie is very busy this afternoon. If there is
anything more to be done--and I don't exactly see that there is--it must
be done without her, I'm afraid."

"Can't I see her?" he asked, brusquely. "This is the very time I need
her. What is she so busy about?"

"She is packing. You know I've kept her a good deal longer already than I
expected to--she can't stay into summer. Her mother has written several
times, asking for her, and now, finally, she's really got to go." There
was a grieving disappointment in Mrs. Rhodes's voice, and a cast of keen
but discreet curiosity in her eye.

"When is she going?"

"In the morning. Then her own people will get her well before dark."

"I'm not to see her to say good-bye?--my own cousin, almost."

"Nonsense--not at all. I'll tell her good-bye for you."

"And the picture?"

"Well, _that_ we may consider finished, I think." Her eyes were resting
on the wall behind him. He turned and saw the portrait fastened upon it.

"So she is not even to have--" he began.

"Now, Truesdale," interrupted his aunt, "the picture is not Bertie's, but
mine. I thought you understood that."

She followed him to the door. "You won't stay a few minutes longer?" she
inquired, with an emollient intention. He shook his head.

"I won't say, Truesdale," she proceeded, with her hand on the knob, "how
disappointed I am. Everything, of course, is at a stand-still now.
Whether things ever go on again will depend upon you yourself. I am sure
that any--any expression of regret, any promise of--of--"

"Ouf!" said Truesdale, as he descended the steps, undecided whether to
laugh or to curse. "'When I was a student at Cadiz,'" he found himself
humming, half-unconsciously. "H'm! one thing learned in the study of this
peculiar civilization: general badness jollied up, specific badness
frowned down. What other discoveries await me, I wonder?"

Before he had taken a dozen steps a brougham drawn by a pair of blacks in
glittering, gold-plated harness drew up suddenly at the curbstone, in
obedience to directions given through the half-open door. In a second the
door opened wide, and Gladys McKenna beckoned to him. "Get in," she
uttered, in a half-repressed cry.

She had divined the situation in two swift glances. She had witnessed the
moody exit of Truesdale, and she had had a glimpse of the anxious little
face of Bertie Patterson in the bay-window above. Her desire to live
life, to dramatize it as promptly and effectively as possible, had led
her to the instant appropriation of the banned and rejected
Truesdale--thus it was that she figured him.

"Get in," she repeated; "I can take you along six or eight blocks. The
coachman knows you by sight, I'm sure. But never mind; nothing matters
now. My letter--did you get it?"

"Another!" thought Truesdale. He made the door fast. "No."

"I felt sure you wouldn't," she panted, excitedly. "I gave it to that man
to mail." She pointed towards the occupant of the box-seat. "He has
played me false."

Truesdale smiled at her phrase. "Well, never mind; you can tell me what
there was in it." He stretched out his long legs negligently under the
opposite seat, determined to take this new ordeal as lightly as possible.
From his point of view the girl was doing nothing towards gaining a
greater measure of approval. "She never had any consideration for me," he
was thinking, "until she saw that I cared for the town as little as she
did; and she has waited to fling herself at me unreservedly until I
have shown myself too awful for anybody else. Why did I let her pick me
up? and how soon can I have her set me down?"

"You will learn now who your real friends are," she declared, casting
herself energetically into a leading _rôle_; "not fair-weather
friends, but friends through thick and thin. Let me tell you: there is a
conspiracy against you." She laid her hand on his arm, and looked at him
with a wide stare; she seemed to thrill with the consciousness of an
important participation in a succession of stirring actualities.

"Is there, indeed?" Whatever one's plight, there is little consolation
in the ministrations of an unwelcome hand. Considering this, that, and
the other, he was now, as at his aunt's door, again midway between a
laugh and a curse.

"Yes. That man--that German, or whatever--was at the house last evening,
and--oh, why will Albert drive so fast?" she complained, as she made a
seeming calculation of the many things she had to say and the little time
she had to say them in. "Can't something be done to make him go a little
slower?"

"The horses feel lively," answered Truesdale, to whom the present rapid
course was perfectly agreeable; "I expect he'll have to let them go their
own gait." He glanced out at a passing church or two, and frowned
slightly; why did this girl insist upon doing his mathematical problems
for him? Had not he himself already put his two and two together and made
them four?

Gladys went on, telling him what she knew, guessed, surmised, suspected.
"And they--they suspect _me_," she continued, in a mounting tone of
tragedy. "And I'm--I'm going home in a few days." There were tears on the
dark fringes of her eyes; he thought of a wax image exposed overnight to
a heavy dew. "And all for your sake," the moisture seemed to say.
Truesdale began to feel uncomfortable and a shade ungrateful. "I dare
say she means well," he thought; "but I--I wish she wouldn't."

The carriage was passing between two other churches; he saw that he might
alight after another square of it. "One more will be plenty," he
muttered, and already his hand stole towards the handle of the door.

"You can't think how they both hate you--my aunt and uncle--and me, too,
I'm afraid. They're really driving me out of the house. But never mind; I
can endure even more than that for one that--for the right."

"When did you say you were going?" inquired Truesdale. It was only by
asking plain, every-day questions that he could oppose this robust
romanticism.

"Day after to-morrow--or the next."

"Well," said Truesdale, quietly, "I should think you would do very well
at home--much better than here."

"But where am I to see you before I go? Where are we to say good-bye?"

A cable-car clanged along the cross-street immediately ahead of them, and
the ten yellow stories of a vast hotel loomed up just beyond. "Right on
this corner," replied Truesdale, as the carriage bumped across the
tracks. "The interval is short, as you suggest, and there is no time like
the present." He put his hand on the door and fixed his eye upon the
corner shop; he often bought a cigar there, and meant to buy one now. He
also meant this good-bye as literally final.

"You want me to let you out here? Stop, Albert. Well, good-afternoon,"
she said, smilingly waiving the idea of finality; "you shall know
to-morrow where you can meet me. You are not deserted by everybody, after
all, you see." She gave him her hand, or rather laid hold of his. "But
take good care of yourself, all the same."

Truesdale stepped out. "I'll try to," he said, mumblingly; "I always
have."

Being thus minded, Truesdale received but grudgingly the tenders of his
brother Roger to assist in the caretaking. He admitted, however, that it
would be less embarrassing to confer with one person than a dozen, and
that if the whole connection were to be represented by a single
spokesman, then Roger was the one that he preferred.

Roger was held by his family to be above all foibles and frailties; his
aunt Lydia had once told him, on the day of a niece's hopeless return to
the East, that he had too much head and not enough heart. It is certain
that he had marked out a definite course for himself, and that nothing,
so far, had had the power to divert him materially from it; and he had a
far-reaching contempt for the man who permitted the gray matter of his
brain to be demoralized by the red matter in his veins. He kept a firm
hand on his own affairs and on those of his father that were not
immediately connected with the business of his father's firm. His severe
face was smooth-shaven, as he thought the face of a lawyer ought to be,
and he could address the higher courts with such a loud and brazen
utterance as to cause the court-loungers almost to feel the judges
shrinking and shrivelling under their robes. His was a hot and vehement
nature, but it burned with a flame blue rather than red.

"Well," he said, with a look of extreme distaste fixed half on his
brother and half on his book-shelves, "we can accept her and make the
best of her. I have seen her and her father. While I can't say I admire
the personal character of either, I am not prejudiced by the fact that he
is only a clerk and she only a shop-girl. They are beginners here; I am
willing to believe that they were something better at home. We can accept
her; we shall have to, I suppose."

Truesdale reared his beautiful brazen front and flashed on his brother a
haughty and disdainful smile. "You can accept her? Will you please tell
me what you mean by that? And 'better at home'!" He burst into open and
derisive laughter. "What new Arcadia is this, where even the lawyers walk
about with their beribboned crooks and the little baa-lambs following
behind them? We have been sitting in conclave, have we, on a mossy bank
in some sylvan shade, with chaplets on our brows, and we have piped and
twittered over the matter, and have decided that we can 'accept her'?
Well, you can do more than I can," he added, abruptly. His foot slipped
from the rung of the opposite chair and fell to the bare floor with a
contemptuous clump.

"You've got your own character to clear, haven't you?" asked Roger, with
a severe brevity.

Truesdale replaced his foot on the rung of the other chair and slid down
into his own as he thrust his hands deeper into his pockets. "Dear me,"
he said, in affected apprehension, "am I in any danger? Well, well; if
such a thing can hurt a young man, I shall be glad to know it--I never
knew it before. Now, _là-bas_, for example--"

He drew out one of his hands and waved it vaguely; he seemed to be
conjuring up a wider and more liberal world--the only one he had learned.

"It can," insisted his brother; "it will. Both you and your family."

Truesdale's thought flashed back to Bertie Patterson and the unfinished
picture. It came to him all at once that his brother might be better
worth listening to than he had been disposed to concede.

"And your family," Roger repeated.

But Truesdale's thought, lingering over the picture, made little of this
second point. He did scant justice to the mortification of his mother
before her church-members and her few remaining neighbors, or that of his
sisters within the circle which they had lately constructed for
themselves. Nor did he yet realize, even with Bertie's picture in mind,
the hundred checks and bars that awaited him in a society of whose
primitive purity he had made a jest whenever occasion came.

"Dear Roger," he presently rejoined, in his most genial and winning
voice, "you mean well, I am sure--well by me and by the family and by
everybody. And I dare say you do very nicely in your own narrow field;
but as for knowing life--well, really now, do you think you understand
what it is to live?"

"Live!" cried Roger, with a sonorous contempt. "Who _does_ understand
what it is to live, then--the man who has all his work and worry done for
him by some one else?"

Truesdale smiled, serene and unabashed. "The world is wide," he said,
with an exquisite tolerance. "It is a very comprehensive subject. You
must take it up one of these days--you've hardly made a beginning on it
yet."

"The world!" cried Roger again, with a vibrant indignation at this
impertinence. "Who _are_ the world if not my father and I and all the
other earnest men who work to make the frame of things and to hold it
together? _We_ are the world, and you--you are only the rubbish strewn
over the top of it!"

He collected this rubbish and constructed from it a Frankenstein monster,
with a heart of cork, a brow of brass, and a triple-plating of
self-conceit. Then with a harsh laugh and a wide-flung arm he scattered
it apart again.

Perhaps Truesdale took these words and gestures merely as an example of
Roger's forensic eloquence. For--

"My dear brother," he began, quietly, while Roger beat his foot upon the
floor, stung to increased indignation by the conscious artificiality of
such an address--"my dear brother," said Truesdale, "you don't quite get
my position in this trifling episode. Every little _conte drolatique_
has its Monsieur X, of course--myself, in this instance, and rightfully
enough. But is Monsieur X the only gentleman involved? Let us see. Who
comes before Monsieur X? Why, Monsieur W, to be sure. And who before
Monsieur W? Monsieur V, _n'est-ce pas?_ And there is somebody still in
front of Monsieur V. And if we go far enough back, we may come at last
even to Monsieur A. Now, why are all these worthy gentlemen passed over
in favor of _ce cher_ Monsieur X? Well, perhaps Monsieur W, for example,
is a captain of dragoons and already mated. And maybe Monsieur V is a
young baron whose family won't stand any nonsense about him--families are
different. And as for Monsieur A--well, let us put him down for a poor
devil of a student who cuts no figure at all. But Monsieur X--ah, that is
different! he is pounced upon in the bosom of his family. It is Monsieur
X who has the scrupulous and strait-laced mother--"

"Truesdale!"

"And the little coterie of lily-sisters who never--"

"Truesdale! For shame!"

"And the over-conscientious and supersensitive father with millions and
millions stored away in bursting money-bags somewhere or other. Oh, those
money-bags, those money-bags, those money-bags!"

"Truesdale, what do you mean? Are they adventurers? Are they after
black-mail?"

Truesdale threw back his head, closing his eyes and twirling his thumbs.
"I knew them there; I know them here." Then he opened his eyes and gave
his brother a glance of satirical approval. "_Complimenti_, Roger; you
are ending where I should have expected you to begin."

"It is not the end," cried Roger, savagely. He saw that he had allowed
his view of the matter to be wrongly colored by the impressions of his
father and the representations of Belden; and Truesdale's comments
lacerated his self-esteem as with griffins' claws. "Haven't I told you
that they have taken legal advice, and that--"

"And that the whole grovelling tribe of Leppins, outnumbering the Van
Horns, possibly, are ready with oral testimony and a shower of
depositions, and what all besides. Ouf! not an inch do I yield. _J'y
suis; j'y reste_. Not an inch should anybody else yield. Well, thank me,
Roger, for having given you this little glimpse into the great big world.
It's full of interest." He rose suddenly, stiff and straight and slender
as some young fir-tree. "Come, Roger, put on your hat and go with me to
Japan."

He looked over into the half-open drawer of his brother's desk. "More of
those maps, I see."

"Other maps; another subdivision. I can do my work without trotting over
the whole globe; Cook County is big enough for me."

"H'm; you seem to be branching out quite extensively. Only, don't get in
too deep." Truesdale gave this valuable advice in a patronizing tone of
which he alone was master. "Yes, I should think Cook County would do very
well for you--until you have learned to spik something besides ze
Engleesh." He picked up his hat and moved towards the door.

"English will do for _me_!" retorted Roger, savagely.

"Well, turn the thing over in this new light," continued his brother,
pleasantly. "And one thing more--a little suggestion: you have some
notion of the man who comes before Monsieur X; give a bit of attention,
now, to the man who comes after. He could be of the greatest service to
us--permanent service. _Comprenez-vous_? Find him; find Monsieur Y--and
arrange it that he shall be the last!"

And Truesdale sauntered airily out of the room.



XVIII

"You might have thought it no great concern of his--you might have
imagined all our efforts as only a part of a play, and his interest
merely the interest of a looker-on." There was an indignant rasp in
Roger's voice, and he looked across to his father with a protesting
scowl. "He almost made me feel as if I had never learned the alphabet."

David Marshall fixed an intent and anxious gaze on his son's face, and
ran his hand tremulously along the arm of his chair. He knew about how
Roger felt; Truesdale had more than once made him feel the same way
himself.

The old man had remained at home throughout the day. Too ill and nervous
for the store, and too resourceless for the house, he had worried through
twelve hours as wearing as any he could recollect. He had never been more
unfitted for business, yet never (as he made it seem) more demanded by
it. He imagined himself as still the king-pin of the Marshall & Belden
Company--indeed, he found in that belief some consolation for his
difficulty in reconciling himself to the style and title that the course
of the business had finally evolved. He tormented himself with thoughts
of odds and ends of work left over from yesterday or from last week, or
with the apprehension of some fresh step taken, some new course entered
upon by the younger and more ardent men of whom the company was largely
composed. He had laughed more than once over the joke of business
acquaintances who told him they had had to take young men into
partnership because it was impossible to pay the salaries they demanded;
yet something more radical had happened to himself: the young men had not
only come in, but they were showing a disposition to get things into
their own hands. Their former manager, their credit man, several heads
of departments--all these had rallied under Belden, and together seemed
to be trimming the sails to as speculative a course as a craft
essentially conservative in its nature could well be made to take.
Marshall had not formulated so clearly as this the practical primacy of
Belden, but he felt the necessity of his own presence, and chafed under
the temporary withdrawal of his own guiding hand.

But more than the course of affairs at the store, more than the avalanche
of complicated minutiae involved in the progress of the new house, more
than the dawning risks attendant upon Roger's widening operations in
land, more than the amiable persecutions of friends whose ambitions for
him were greater than his own, did the courses of his younger son and all
their threatening consequences disturb his days and harass his
nights--haunting alike the hours set apart for work and for sleep, and
even the few brief intervals between. He would rise in the morning
haggard and dry-eyed after a sleepless night; he would toil through the
weary and perplexing hours of a dragging day; and he would spend his
evenings, usually, in a miserable and solitary contemplation of all his
thickening annoyances and ills.

"Poor pa," Jane would say to her mother, as she watched his bent and
lagging steps moving towards the recess of the bay-window; "there he goes
worrying, all off by himself again."

Her mother, over her sewing or the evening paper, perhaps, would check
the girl's impulse to follow. "Don't chase after your father, Jane; he's
got enough things to bother him already." So that, except for the
occasional charitable moment when Jane, unimpeded, perched on the arm of
his chair and attempted to divert his wearing thoughts from their
ever-deepening channel, the old man spent his evenings largely--too
largely--alone.

The rare visits of Roger, never highly ameliorative, were none the more
so now; the grisly wrestling with realities does little to promote the
exudation of balm. Roger was tough and technical and litigious; his was
the hand to seize, not to soothe.

Roger had had a second and more explicit interview with Truesdale, before
Truesdale had taken an airy and irresponsible flitting from town. He had
also prosecuted various inquiries of his own in various directions, and
these inquiries had resulted in his coming to look up Truesdale's frothy
suggestion with more seriousness, and upon Truesdale himself with more
consideration, if not with more respect--_that_ he still withheld.

"He isn't a complete fool, after all," admitted Roger.

"I never thought he was," responded his father, dully.

"He has some little sense, I acknowledge."

"If it were only common-sense," said the old man, with a mournful,
dragged-out smile.

Roger looked forth streetward, pondering. A long passenger-train shifted
its line of glimmering squares rapidly southward; two or three couples
passed by on the pavement, respiring the suave air of an early June
evening.

"It means money," said Roger, presently.

"As much as is necessary," replied his father, tremulously; "though I
never could spare it worse than now."

"And more--well, more dirty work for me." He thought of the Van Horn
matter, now as good as abandoned. "Never mind, though; I'm getting used
to it."

"You are the only help I have, Roger--the only one to save us from this
disgrace."

There were tears in his eyes, and a feeble tremor ran through the
fore-arm and fingers that he advanced towards Roger's shoulder.

"Father is not the man he used to be," thought Roger. He felt that his
sympathy was largely qualified by the impatience and aversion which must
always move a young man when he observes the first signs of physical and
mental impairment in an older one, and he regretted that it was so. And
he was almost ashamed to feel relieved when his father withdrew his hand.

Besides Roger and his father, only Mrs. Marshall and Jane were at home.
Rosamund was in Wisconsin, and no one was sorry to have her away. She was
a guest of Mrs. Bates at Lake Geneva--the central figure of a
house-party, in fact. Mrs. Bates's fondness for nature did not stop with
flowers; it led her to the fields and woods where they grew. No sooner
was the back of the winter fairly broken than she began to preach the
gospel of country life. She took the cream of June, and left to later
comers the skimmed milk of July and August. She always saw that her
Wisconsin place was ready for her by the middle of May; then for the next
five months she passed back and forth between town and country, according
to the nature of her engagements and the character of the weather.

Truesdale was in Wisconsin, too--but not of the house-party. "You know,
my dear," Mrs. Bates said to Jane, "I had meant to have your brother,
but--"

Jane bowed her head and never thought of venturing to ask her how she
_knew_. That same night Jane slowly tore her plans for the working-girls'
home into long strips and burned them in the gas, one at a time. "Pa'll
never listen to a word about anything like this now."

Truesdale left behind no precise indications of his movements. The only
person to whom he announced anything like a programme was Arthur Fasten,
who met him on the way to the station, with his bag in one hand and his
kit in the other.

"Off, are you?" called Paston. "Don't you begin the season rather early?"

"Just for a few days," replied Truesdale; "a little sketching tour up
North. Change of scene and air, you know."

"Where are you going?"

"Oh, 'most anywhere. I shall be at Bellagio to-morrow, and at Pontresina
the day after. Then I shall dip down towards Scheveningen. And Zante, if
possible--I have always wanted to try Zante." He smiled jovially. "I hear
there's a lovely ruined abbey at Fort Atkinson--everybody does it; and
they say, too, that the capital at Madison is a grand old structure."

He gave a hitch to his light valise and moved on with a diminished smile.

"Of course you've got your Cook's ticket and your meal coupons?" called
Paston, grinning broadly.

"Don't," protested Truesdale, turning back; "you never looked less like a
gentleman."

"I hope your ticket takes in Geneva," said Paston, in no degree offended.
"If it does, I may meet you there; I'm going up to stay over Sunday."

"I can't tell without looking," replied Truesdale; "it's away at the
bottom of my trunk." And he moved on. "Rosy's there, though," he called
back. He did this largely under the promptings of a sense of justice:
Paston was as much entitled to push one project as he himself was to push
another.

"Yes, I know," said Paston.

This ubiquitous and ever-welcome person made his presence known
throughout Geneva with no loss of time. He caused himself to be
remembered by Mrs. Bates for a small dance on Saturday night, and also
secured himself from forgetfulness in connection with her steam-yacht
excursion for Sunday morning. This active and well-intentioned woman was
the prime mover in a poor children's camp which was in process of
construction near the far end of the lake. She could not expect her dozen
young people to take an absorbing interest in her middle-aged
philanthropies; but she knew that an excursion was none the worse for
having an objective point, and she did not feel that she was likely to
please her guests the less by giving a little incidental pleasure to
herself.

"I've got to have something to _do_," she explained to Paston. "I
couldn't be content to come up here and pass the summer in mere
idleness." They were sitting on a pair of camp-stools up near the bow.
Paston, looking backward, saw Rosamund and William Bates together near
the stern.

"It must be a terrible thing to be cursed with ambition and executive
ability," observed Paston. "I'm awfully glad _I_ haven't got any."

"Well, there it is," she responded. "I've got to have something on hand.
I've got to engineer. I've got to manage."

Paston brought back his eyes from William Bates and Rosamund. "Everybody
knows what a capable manager you are." He said this, as he said so many
other things, with a frank and bold directness that made any suspicion of
an _arrière-pensée_ almost an impossibility.

"Well, don't commit yourself until you get there; then you can make your
own observations." She took his remark as almost anybody else would have
felt obliged to take it--just for what it sounded. Nobody understood
better than Paston the deceptive quality resident in a truth plumply
told.

"Shall I see Cecilia Ingles there?" Paston was stopping with the
Ingleses, and had rowed across immediately after breakfast. "I think I
heard them speak about driving down. I say," he added, "it's a rum go for
her."

"I don't see why," rejoined Susan Bates, disputatiously. "She is old
enough to take things seriously; she has got far enough along to begin to
be in earnest. The first thing she asked me was how much money I wanted.
'I don't want any of your money at all,' I told her; 'for such a cause as
this I can scoop up all the money I want by the shovelful. No; what I
want is your personal interest.' That's about the hardest thing _to_ get
in cases like this."

"Well, I believe you've got it," declared Paston, hitching about on his
seat. "She has given up all hope of escaping from you. You're a
tyrant--an inexorable tyrant, she says. She's going to do as you direct."

"All right," returned Susan Bates; "only don't be so sticky about it."
She pronounced this epithet very distinctly and deliberately; she had
long meant to use it with Paston, some time or other--ever since Jane had
imparted it to her, in fact.

"Sticky!" cried the young man. "Me--sticky?"

"Yes--fussy, critical, disagreeable, censorious." She moved her fingers
as if disentangling them from a sheet of fly-paper. "It's one of your own
words, isn't it?"

"Yes, but what it means is stiff, poky, awkward; and nobody else has ever
called me that!"

Susan Bates, with a slight touch of mortification, at once set the whole
matter aside. "Cecilia is good enough at heart," she went on, instantly.
"No, I don't want her money," she ploughed rapidly ahead, "except as a
visitor. Every visitor must give something, and the first must give the
most. You are the first."

"I?" stammered Paston, with an uneasy laugh.

"All of you, I mean." She waved her hand over the whole yacht. "Feel for
your dollars; you will find a contribution-box fastened to the first
tree, at the landing."

"Really?" said Paston, vastly ill at ease.

Susan Bates merely laughed, feeling that she had regained the upperhand.
She had not been so tickled since the day when Minnie Peters had put into
her hands the official notification that she was at length a member of
that obdurate and exacting musical society. "But, poor fellow," she said
to herself, "I mustn't tease him!" She looked back the length of the boat
towards Rosy; Rosy, at the same moment, was looking forward the length of
the boat towards her. A pause had apparently come in William Bates's
careful enumeration of the country-seats which covered the wooded slopes
of either shore. Many of them were the residences of people whom Rosy had
met for the first time during the past winter, and their interest was
therefore biographical as well as topographical. But now the interest, of
whatever kind, was running a bit thinly; Rosy gave a careless word now
and then to another young girl beside her or to a new young man sprawling
at her feet, but her eyes turned every few minutes towards the bow.

"You catch the idea?" Mrs. Bates was saying. "We bring them out on the
train in two hours, and give them a ride on the public steamer to the
camp; we keep them a week. We start in with a fresh lot every Monday
morning, right through the summer."

"Where do you get them?" asked Pasten, making talk industriously. "Do you
set traps for them? Or perhaps you go to the Bureau of Child Labor and
say: So many tons of orphans, to be delivered on the fifth instant, at
nine-thirty A.M., sharp; eh?" He had quite recovered his spirits.

"Get them? Dear me, there are plenty to be got. I expect we shall have to
enlarge the dormitories before the summer is half over."

"And what is Mrs. Ingles to do with them after they _are_ got?" he asked,
with his eye on the foam and bubbles of the wake. "Is she to take the
kinks out of their hair every morning by early candle-light? Is she to
wash all their little porringers and hang them up in rows on their little
hooks? Is she to keep tab when they go in paddling and check them off as
they come out, to see how many have been carried away by the undertow?"

Mrs. Bates declined to consider the undertow. "See; there it is." The
yacht had rounded a small wooded promontory and now approached a shallow
shore, where a gingerly landing was to be effected at a rude and rickety
little pier.

A grove of oak and maple came almost to the water's edge, and within it a
number of barrack-like structures of clean yellow pine were taking shape
and substance. The odor of the pine mingled with the earthy smells of the
grove; now and then a little pile of sawdust was taken swirlingly by the
breeze, and here and there a long, fresh shaving was seen caught upon the
prickly branches of some June rose.

Paston helped Mrs. Bates out on to the pier with a cautious gallantry,
and immediately betook himself to the younger members of the party; he
considered the courtesies due from a guest as now amply accomplished. He
attached himself at once to Rosamund; he helped her over the loose litter
of lumber; he steadied ladders for her at every fresh feint of mounting;
he bestirred himself to a rapacious culling of wild-flowers for the mere
opportunity of tying them together with a shaving. Once he sprinkled them
over with a handful of sawdust, after the manner of a florist
extemporizing a heavy dew. Rosy laughed and nodded, and thrust the
flowers into her belt.

"You will never be serious," she protested.

"Oh yes, I shall. I am always a good deal more serious than people
suppose." He bestowed upon her a look serious enough to match his words.
It was as serious as any one could have wished, and Rosy dropped her eyes
and was distinctly pensive for a minute or two.

Presently the Ingleses came picking their way through the grove in a
surrey. Cecilia Ingles alighted with the air of one somewhat at sea. She
greeted Rosy quite pleasantly, but seemed to be looking about for the
captain. The dry, shrewd, middle-aged face of her husband adjusted its
expression readily enough to the matter before them. He was a born
manager and manipulator. When he could not juggle with a dollar for
profit, he was content to juggle with a penny for pleasure.

Susan Bates hastened up to his wife at once, and kissed her roundly. "So
good of you to come! And on Sunday, too!"

"Never mind," said Ingles; "we can put twice as much on the plate next
Sunday."

Mrs. Ingles at once appropriated William Bates for a walk through the
framework of the unfinished dormitories. Ingles followed with Mrs. Bates.

"Things are going first-rate," declared Susan Bates. "We shall be under
cover in a week, and ready for the painters."

"No plaster?" asked Ingles.

"Dear me, no. Two coats of paint will be quite warm enough."

Rosy, meanwhile, sat upon a pack of shingles under a young maple-tree
which grew within a few steps of the water. Paston lay at her feet and
dug in the sand with a split shingle drawn from the pack, while the other
young people tramped and frolicked with shrill cries through the
dismantled grove and unfinished buildings.

"It was at her house, you remember, that I first met you," said Paston.
He nodded to Mrs. Ingles, who was just moving by with the reluctant
William Bates.

"And a handsome house, too," declared Rosy. "Still, I suppose that hers,
or even Mrs. Bates's, can't be compared with some in London."

"Don't be so sure," rejoined Paston. He thought of "10, King's-gate
Gardens, S. Kensington"; he would have been the last to force a
comparison between that and the town-house of Cecilia Ingles. "A house is
no better for being more than a home," he said, somewhat ruefully.

Rosy was far from subscribing to this. Her ideal home was one that had
been immemorially a palace and a show-place, with troops of servants to
show the troops of tourists through.

"All these places around here are nice enough," she acknowledged,
"but--new. That one over there, now." She pointed across the lake to the
roofs and gables of a large country-seat set on a wooded hill-top. "They
have had to stain it green to make it look old and mossy."

"Sometimes the appearance of age is to be preferred to the reality,"
observed Paston, thoughtfully. His mind was on "Boxton Park, Witham,
Essex," and he was wishing devoutly enough that means were available for
keeping that in a state of fresh repair equal to the state of the house
where he was now staying.

But Rosy was entertaining her own vision of Boxton Park. It was a
spacious and glorious domain, and its noble manor house was a perfect
commingling of old-time picturesqueness and modern comfort. And the
peacocks paraded again on the terrace.

Rosy shifted her seat on the pile of shingles in order to take a more
general view of the landscape. She shrugged her shoulders slightly. "No
lanes, no hedge-rows, no weirs, no coppices..."

"What's the matter with these maples?" asked Fasten, abandoning himself
to the American idiom. "And where are there handsomer elms than right
here in Wisconsin? And what have you against those hills?" He thought of
the wide flatness of Essex; what would not Boxton Park give for a
foothold on such a shore, a prospect over such a sheet of rippling blue?

But Rosy had her own conception of Essex. In some miraculous way it
combined the sweetness of Devonshire, the fatness of Warwick, the
boldness of Westmorland, the severity of Cornwall. And through this
enchanting tract the fox-hounds ever sped in full, re-echoing cry.

Paston gave a sudden dig with his shingle, and a lump of damp sand fell
with a splash far out upon the water. "But, after all, it's dear old
England," he said, plaintively.

"The dearest land in all the world, I'm sure," sighed Rosy,
sympathetically. She dug her toe at a single tuft of coarse grass in the
midst of the sand, and wondered over his "after all."

"Indeed, it is. You would like it, I'm sure."

"I know I should. I shall never be happy until I've seen it."

"But think of me--four thousand miles away from it."

"I do," said Rosy, softly.

"We younger sons," sighed Paston, in a tone of great self-commiseration.

"We younger daughters," echoed Rosy, with an implication that all the
drawbacks were not on one side.

The rest of the party came flocking down to the shore; the Ingleses among
them--to see the others off.

"I suppose you go back as you came?" said Ingles, to Paston.

"Pretty nearly," replied Paston, in the cheery tone he usually adopted
for general converse. And back he went, with this small difference: that
on the return he occupied the place of William Bates.



XIX


Truesdale returned home from Wisconsin after an absence of ten or twelve
days; he came back without having visited Geneva. He had visited Madison,
however.

His feeling, as he traversed the streets of that pleasant capital, was
distinctly one of pique. To be hemmed in, to be barred out, to be shut
up, to be cut off, to be turned aside--any and all of these things seemed
to have been suffered by him; he felt them as stripes or as fetters
applied to the degradation of an inexpugnable personality. "I shall not
take it so passively as they think," he said.

His friendly but tempered interest in Bertie Patterson had risen to a
higher pitch in view of the insensate safeguards thrown around her by her
friends; besides, he felt himself at a juncture where he must not permit
himself to falter in the maintenance of his own dignity. "I shall not be
balked so easily as they imagine," he said.

He paused before a large, white frame-house which stood on a kind of
banked terrace; the house was shaded by a number of evergreens, and was
shut in from the street by a picket-fence. "This must be it," he said, as
he clicked the latch of the gate. Patterson, as one of the large retail
dry-goods merchants of the town, was of course a "prominent citizen"; his
residence was easy enough to find.

"Mrs. Patterson is at home?" he uttered with the appropriate inflection,
and extended his card. He made this tender to a firm-faced woman of forty
in a plain black dress, who came to the door with a half-hemmed towel in
her hand.

"I am Mrs. Patterson," she said. She read the card; there was no doubt of
her appreciation of his identity. The more picturesque and decorative
phases of his character had been presented to her, doubtless, by the
docile and transparent Bertie--by letter, possibly. The less approved
side (concerning which Bertie's own conception was in all likelihood
darkling enough still) had probably come to her--also by letter--from
Bertie's conscientious but disappointed guardian.

Truesdale dexterously insinuated himself into the house; he had instantly
perceived, with a pang of mortification, that no formal encouragement to
enter was likely to be extended.

"My daughter," said Mrs. Patterson, coldly, in answer to his inquiries,
"is visiting friends in Watertown." This was true. "She is to remain
several days." This was not true; Bertie was expected home on the morrow.
But it was made true, for all purposes, by an instant message which
permitted the girl to extend the period of her visit.

Truesdale bowed himself out of the house with no apparent diminution of
grace and prestige. "How inexhaustible are the beauties of nature," he
thought--"Wisconsin nature. I must make another sketching-tour before
long."

Four or five days later he sat in his bedroom, looking over a number of
water-colors that covered the counterpane and largely obscured the
pillows--views of Green Lake, scenes from the rocks and gorges of the
upper Wisconsin. "I've done very well," he thought--"very well, indeed."
He was trying to make himself believe that he had successfully
accomplished the principal object of his trip.

Rosy also returned from Wisconsin at about the same time; with an air of
calm decision she announced to her mother her engagement to Arthur
Paston. She regarded this statement as definitive--an admission towards
which the others of the family advanced with a doubting reluctance. Jane,
by reason of the place and of her own participation in the hopes of Susan
Bates, thought the proceeding characterized by indelicacy, if not by
disloyalty. Truesdale, on receipt of the intelligence, vented a jarring
laugh. He saw little reason why Paston should have succeeded at Geneva
when he himself had failed at Madison (he was conscious, here, of forcing
the terms in order to compass a striking antithesis); and that it should
have been his own sister whose hand Paston had won seemed to him a
triumph greater and more discordant still.

David Marshall himself heard these tidings with a grave concern. It all
seemed like another weight added to the load under which he was already
staggering. He debated with himself on the subject of this proposed new
household: where was it to be established, of whom was it to be composed,
by whom (above all) was it to be supported? Marshall, in his most
prosperous and least careworn days, had never acquired the useful and
agreeable art of spending money; the outlay of any considerable sum had
always afflicted him as with a physical pain. How much greater, then, was
his shrinking dread to-day, when demands upon him were doubling up so
finely, and when the last demand of all was on behalf of an alien who
might well attempt to make an alien of his daughter too? He talked with
Rosy about her future in a hesitating and perturbed fashion. Rosy would
set her lips, and eye him coldly, and tell him that he did not love
her. In the meantime the new house progressed towards its ridge-poles,
and it was Jane's daily speculation whether the boudoir designed for Rosy
would ever be occupied by her--or by somebody else. By somebody else, she
was afraid; for since that luckless Sunday dinner, Theodore Brower had
called but twice, and had been as distant as if he had not come at all.

A few weeks after the intrusion of Paston upon the board, another piece
was happily removed. This removal involved, as is often the case in such
manipulations, a certain amount of sharp playing and a large element of
sacrifice. Truesdale, when the recital was made to him in his brother's
office, showed a scant appreciation of the sacrifice, but listened
interestedly enough to the detailed report of Roger's endeavor.

"So you have found Monsieur Y, after all? And do you hold him fast?"

Roger contemptuously ignored this revival of his brother's flippant
Gallic formula. He contented himself with giving a brief and stern
account of the processes that he had been driven to employ. He had
prosecuted his inquiries through one of those extra-legal agencies which
even the highest respectability may be compelled, upon occasion, to fall
back on, and he had arrived at an acquaintance with the Leppins, in all
their grovelling ramifications, equal to the previous one which he had
achieved with the Van Horns. His close inquiries had extended through
the ranks of all their associates and connections, and in the end he had
lighted upon one individual whose disposition towards Sophie Leppin and
her family could be made to serve the end in view. This young man was the
foreman of a tailor's establishment, and Roger wasted no more
consideration upon him than upon the rest of them. Before the assembled
horde he made his proposition with a blunt, business-like brutality
which almost startled him at the moment, and which disgusted him with
himself for a fortnight to follow.

"And they accepted it. More shame for me, more shame for them, more shame
for human nature. But _you_ are safe." He viewed Truesdale with an
undisguised scorn, and Truesdale did not attempt to withstand it.

"I attended the ceremony," Roger said, grimly. "I presented the bride
with a bouquet. For the matter of that," he continued, in a scornful jest
of himself, "I was the one who took out the marriage license."

"Did you pay the minister his fee?" Truesdale asked this principally for
the purpose of reasserting himself.

"Minister!" cried Roger, half shocked. "No; I had a justice of the peace.
I was the guest of honor," he went on, with a savage irony. "With good
reason; it was I who paid the bride's dowry."

Truesdale sat with his eyes on the floor. "The check; was it--was it a
large one?" he asked, in a low voice.

"Check!" cried Roger again. "I paid them in hundred-dollar bills." His
fingers played back and forth many and many times.

"Not so much as that!" exclaimed Truesdale, his eyes opening widely.

"More," said Roger. "I put the notices in the newspapers, too. And now,
Truesdale," he said, with a final brief phrase of dismissal, "think what
your father and I have had to do for you, and try to be a man." And he
turned away towards other matters.

Truesdale passed out, crestfallen for the first time in his life. Not
over his own follies, not over the anxieties and expenditures he had
caused his father, but over the fact that Roger had treated him like a
boy--and had done it all so briefly. He blushed, too, for the vulgar
ending of the episode (if ended, indeed, it were); for it seemed to
outrage all literary and artistic precedent. No farce at the Palais Royal
had ever developed so grotesque a dénouement; no novel of Véron, of
Belot, of Montépin had ever come to so sordid an ending; no Mimi, no
Musette could have ever followed a line of conduct so little
_spirituel_ as that taken by Sophie Leppin. What, then; were the
books wrong, and only life true? No; it was the fault of America itself.
"_Quel pays_!" reflected Truesdale; "equally without the atmosphere of
art and the atmosphere of intrigue!" This observation pleased him; he
felt that he had pierced the marrow of a complicated question, and he
passed along the street holding a higher head.

He drew a letter from his pocket and creased it thoughtfully in his hands
as he walked on. The envelope, from which he did not draw the enclosure,
was addressed in the hand of Gladys McKenna. He had parted from her just
as he had meant to part--at the carriage door. She had forgiven this, and
was now writing in terms no less ardent and clinging than before.

"Poor Gladys!" he said, half aloud. "I haven't treated her any too well;
yet she is about the only one who cares for me or understands me or
appreciates me. I'm glad, though, she's back home; I should be guilty of
some horrible _sottise_ or other if she were here."

All the same, he made her absence seem another deprivation; he included
it in the catalogue of his injuries and woes. "I declare," he said, "take
it all together, and it's enough to drive a man to--business. It wouldn't
surprise me very much to be talking with father about that very thing
within a month or so. For what can a man of leisure do, after all, in
such a town as this?"

But the summer moved onward, and Truesdale still considerately refrained
from harassing an anxious and overburdened father with the further task
of contriving a harmony between such a son and such a _métier_. The old
man was left to recover from the sting inflicted by the Leppins, to study
over the future of his youngest daughter, to keep a careful eye upon his
business associates, and to combat--as one combats the alkali dust of
the Plains--all the insinuating minutiae of house-building. The new home
of the Marshalls moved on with the summer, and reached in due course the
stage when such elemental features as walls and roofs gave way to the
minor considerations involved in the swinging of doors, the placing of
gas-jets, and the arrangements of pantries. Eliza Marshall now began to
appear more frequently on the scene, and to confound both architect and
builder after the fashion possible for the experienced and accomplished
house-keeper. She usually exacted the support of her husband, with a
pertinacity the greater for the smallness of the point at issue; and
David Marshall, wearied and borne down with more important, more vital
affairs, wished daily that the new house had never been undertaken at
all.

Thomas Bingham stood Eliza Marshall's annoying picket-fire with the
patience proper to a friend of the family; and he took advantage of the
same position to press further upon her husband his own continuing sense
of a rich man's duties towards the public. Marshall may be said by this
time to have fixed himself in the general eye. He had made a second
public address--the skilful product of Jane's literary knack and of his
own previous experience. As a consequence of this he had been asked to
sit on one or two platforms, and to sign two or three addresses and
petitions; and though his indifferent health and his many preoccupations
had somewhat impeded his advance, yet his well-wishers felt the marked
disposition shown to concede him the place that they held him entitled to
take.

Bingham experienced a personal interest in Marshall's maintenance of the
foothold thus won. As the two toured through the half-plastered rooms or
stooped to consider the question of sewerage amid the litter of the
basement, Bingham, with a tactful seriousness, would urge the old man, as
he had urged him often enough before, to crown his career and perpetuate
his memory by the erection of some enduring structure for the public
good and use.

"All of my experience is at your disposal," he would say. "And all of
your own"--with a wave of the hand over the chaos prevailing about them.

The old man would give him a non-committal sidelong glance, half smiling,
half protesting "I'm glad to have you acknowledge, Bingham, that there is
some experience involved in building a house. There's a good deal more
than I expected."

"You're not having a hard time of it," returned Bingham. "You don't
realize how easy I've been making it for you."

But Marshall was coming to develop a firm reluctance towards turning the
knowledge gained in his private building to the erection of some larger
and different building for the public good. With every month of the past
year had his estimate of the public and its character been modified by
the kind of treatment that he had suffered from certain of the less
worthy members of it. The Van Horns seemed to have passed the goad on to
the Leppins, and it was largely under these merciless proddings that
he had formed his conception of the new town which had evolved itself
during the past twenty years. To these personal grievances he added the
general grievances of a tax-payer under the present loose-geared régime,
and there were days when he thought he saw the legitimate outcome of
democracy as applied to large capitals: the organizing of criminals for
the spoliation of the well-to-do. And if Bingham had pushed him too hard,
he might have precipitated the blunt declaration that a man's best use
for his own money was to protect himself and his interests from the
depredations of an alien and rabble populace.

"But Babylon itself was built of mud bricks," Bingham would rejoin. "And
the noblest mountain in the world, when you come right down to details,
is only a heap of dirt and rocks strewn over with sticks and stones. But
if you will just step back far enough to get the proper point of
view--well, you know what the painters can do with such things as these."

"I can't step back, Bingham. I started here; I've stayed here; I belong
here. I'm living right _on_ your mountain, and its sticks and stones are
all about me. Don't ask me to see them for anything else; don't ask me to
call them anything else."

Then he would say to Bingham what he said later to Susan Bates when she
came with Jane to view the wainscotings and the panelled ceilings of the
long succession of rooms: that the man who met all the legal exactions of
the community and all the needs and requirements of his own flesh and
blood was doing quite enough for the preservation of his own credit. And
when Theodore Brower cautiously suggested that the bitterness of certain
experiences might be turned to sweetness by the institution of a bureau
of justice for the poor and unfriended, the sensitive old man shrank back
as if from contact with a nettle. Indeed, it is probable that so
unconventional and untravelled a road to philanthropic renown would have
proven uninviting to his feet at any time. And Jane, who, after the
failure of her own idea, had transferred her support to the idea of
Brower, now made a second transfer and came to the support of the idea
of Susan Bates. If she could do nothing for the cause of labor, and
nothing for the cause of justice, she was willing to accomplish what she
could for the cause of education.

Under such urgings as these, David Marshall began irritably to impugn the
motives of those men whose philanthropic disposition had earned for them
the approval of the well-disposed. One was actuated by vanity and
vainglory; another by political ambitions; a third took to philanthropy
as to the current fad.

"There might be worse ones," Bingham would retort. "Sixty or seventy
years ago the fad hereabouts was scalp-raising. Isn't the present one an
improvement on that?"

"You bring up Ingles," the other went on; "he's simply philanthropic
as an additional vent to his own energies. You talk about Bates; he
merely makes all those benefactions to please his wife. And so with
others."

"Is that a bad motive--the wish to please one's wife by a generous deed?"

"I have _my_ wife to please," returned Marshall. His observation
came out with a sort of raw and awkward directness. It seemed to convey
the odd implication that the way to please this wife would be not to do a
generous deed, but to refrain from doing it. And Bingham, who appreciated
the saplessness of Eliza Marshall's sympathies and the narrowness of her
horizon, made no effort to give his friend's remark a more favorable
aspect.

Marshall derived support not only from the narrow selfishness of his
wife, but also from the fastidiousness of his younger son, who met with
open derision any project involving the accomplishment of a piece of
actual architecture. He improvised an ornate and airy edifice of his own,
which he allowed them to dedicate to art, to education, to charity, to
what you will. Then he festooned it with telegraph wires, and draped it
with fire-escapes, and girdled it with a stretch of elevated road, and
hung it with signboards, and hedged it in with fruit-stands, and swathed
it in clouds of coal smoke, and then asked them to find it; that was the
puzzle, he said. His view of the town's architectural conditions--as too
debased to justify one's serious endeavors towards improvement--was so
nearly in harmony with the view that his father's inflamed mind sometimes
took of the town's social conditions that the two were dangerously near
to the common ground upon which they had never yet met.

Bingham would have completely dissented from all this, of course; and he
agreed with Marshall no better as regarded the precarious condition of
his affairs--being disposed to assume that the old man's depression over
his business was due largely to the multiplied checks on his own control
of it; nor any better as regarded his unusual domestic expenses--present,
just past, or just about to come. He was mindful of the house-building,
but looked upon it, with Roger, as an investment. He knew of the
thousands extorted through Truesdale, but made the loss less than might
have resulted from a maladroit barter in real estate, for example. He
could anticipate, too, the demands foreshadowed by the coming marriage of
Rosamund; but a considerable expenditure for a favorite daughter at the
most important juncture of her life was not unprecedented. He even found
some ameliorating circumstances for the persistent pressure which
Roger and his affairs were now coming to bring upon the paternal
estate--Roger, who had served so valiantly his father and his family, and
who was now demanding a compensatory assistance amid the thickening risks
and dangers of his own business operations. Not only had he extricated
Truesdale from his difficulties, but he had supported his father in his
demand for the dismissal of the unseemly Andreas Leppin from the
business.

"He shall go!" cried David Marshall, with a trembling voice and a shaking
hand, which, without reinforcement, would have constituted but a feeble
demonstration.

"He shall stay!" returned Belden, with a cold insolence. "He is useful to
me. Besides, he has suffered enough wrong from you already."

"He shall go!" cried Roger, rising into a threatening savagery over the
brazen hypocrisy of such a pretence. "If he is here another hour, I will
drag him out with my own hands." The young man seemed to tear out all his
powers from his own person, as one draws a sword from its sheath, and to
wield his vehemence and indignation over Belden's head as one might sweep
a burning brand. He exercised the compelling power that is to be
attained sometimes only by the free and impassioned employment of all
one's energies; he seemed capable of an instant physical violence in more
directions than one, and he carried his point.

Another outbreak of passion followed when he applied to his father for
assistance during a precarious passage through the risks and dangers of
an expanding business, and was met with reluctant excuses that seemed the
very acme of ingratitude. He hurled forth an indignant reminder of all
the services he had performed for the family--services at once degrading
and gratuitous; and he demanded if a year's dabbling in such delectable
detail were not a sufficient warrant for asking the help that he now
required. In fact, he hectored his father as unscrupulously, as
unceremoniously, as he had browbeaten Belden.

David Marshall met as well as he could the demands of his choleric son;
never before had he been trampled on rough-shod by one of his own
children. He almost seemed to see the moral fibre of Roger's nature
coarsening--perhaps disintegrating--under his very eyes, and he asked
himself half reproachfully how much this might be due to tasks of his own
imposition.

All these things had their place in his mind as he followed Bingham
through the new house, scuffing over the plaster-encrusted floors,
watching the adjustment of window-weights, or drawing back before the
long, thin strips of moulding brought in by carpenters. No, his children
did not love him. There was Rosy, who had learned her lesson of
selfishness from the world all too early, and who now, in her
preoccupations for the future, had less thought of him than ever. There
was Alice, who saw him often enough if she saw him half a dozen times a
year, and whose infrequent comings always disclosed some petty motive
of domestic finance and economics. There was Truesdale, a flippant
and insolent egotist, who had neither affection nor respect for his own
parents, his own family, his own birthplace. There was Roger, who hewed
roughly his own independent course, and who did not scruple to turn his
powers against his own father if crossed in his desires or balked in his
ambitions. And there was--

No; not Jane. "She is the only one of them all who really loves me," he
said. He was standing in one of the upper rooms under the crude light of
a northern window. On the yellow ground beneath him a workman was
stacking up sheets of blue slate in regular piles, and from some remote
quarter of the place came the sharp, metallic hammerings of the last
remaining plumbers. The searching daylight lit up cruelly the hollows of
the old man's eyes, and brought out from his whitened chin and cheeks the
last few threads of dim and dulling red. His tall, thin figure shrank
away from its loose coverings; never before had he seemed so detached, so
impersonal, so slightly poised on any mere physical basis.

He turned to Bingham. "This will be _her_ room--Jane's room. It must be
right, whatever the others are. Jane--cares for me. She has always been a
dutiful daughter; never a trial, never a disappointment--nothing but a
comfort. There must be no shortcoming here, Bingham."

Bingham, standing beside him at the window, fixed an intent regard upon
the sheets of shifting slate. There was a moist smile in his eyes, and a
warm glow of sympathetic appreciation permeated his whole being.

"There won't be," he said.

And Jane's chamber took on shape and finish in the minds of the two men
who stood there side by side overlooking the slate piles and saying no
word further; and neither recognized in her the first cause of all these
changes and of the many trials and difficulties proceeding from them.



XX


The approaching completion of the new house did little towards
diminishing the rigors of the daily routine within the old one; no
greater insistence upon detail could be encountered at Gibraltar or at
Ehrenbreitstein than that which prevailed under the direction of Eliza
Marshall, to whom the near breaking of camp was no reason for the
slightest break in discipline. Nor was there any relaxation because the
garrison happened to be on a mere peace footing; it made little
difference that both Rosamund and Truesdale were spending the better part
of the summer in Wisconsin. Rosy had resumed her round among the
country-houses of her friends; she expected to repay these attentions
in the near future by an elegant and lavish hospitality, whose time,
place, and method still remained more or less indeterminate. Truesdale,
too, had made a second and longer excursion northward--Waukesha, Geneva,
Oconomowoc, and again, Madison. Jane alone remained at home, and it was
she who helped her mother through the thirtieth and last of the
annual jelly-makings. For the first time in all these years the
entire supply of currants had come from outside; the last of their own
bushes, which had put on faintly its customary greenness in May, had
peaked and dwindled through June, and had died at last in the early days
of July.

"That reconciles me, Jane," said Eliza Marshall, as she viewed the dead
bush while flapping one of her ensanguined cloths from the kitchen
window; "I shall be ready to move when the time comes."

Jane sighed softly for reply; she was beginning to realize what all this
change might mean.

David Marshall himself bowed to the same stringent discipline that ruled
the others. Though he felt his powers weakening beneath days of worry and
nights of broken rest, he would have been surprised by the smallest
concession, and would even have considered it a weakness to ask for any.
That his rest was broken did not postpone the early breakfast by a single
five minutes; that his health was failing did not alter the somewhat
primitive and rigorous character of the dishes set before him; that he
returned home jaded and exhausted by the day's doings did not entitle
him, any more than ever, to smoke a quiet cigar within doors. He smoked
without, upon the sidewalk, according to his wont; but he never paced
very far up or down, nor very long. The old routine went on--a little too
inexorably. And though many of his nights were coming to be sleepless
throughout, and though the strain of it all was obvious enough as his
thin, drawn face bent over a breakfast for which he could find no relish,
yet the tradition that he was above all physical frailties and exempt
from all natural laws clamped its curious hold upon his family and even
upon himself. Eliza Marshall had almost come to regard him as she
regarded his business: each was a respectable and estimable abstraction
which held its own without too direct a heed from her; each an admirable
contrivance that had accomplished its purposes so long and with
so trustworthy a regularity that the thought of hitch, lapse, failure
never presented itself as a really tangible consideration. Each
day he grew a shade paler, a degree feebler, but the change came too
gradually for the unobservant and over-habituated eyes of his wife.

Rosy noticed it, however, when she came back to town, to begin seriously
her preparations for her wedding. "I don't think papa looks very well,"
she was contented to observe.

"Of course he doesn't," returned Jane, anxiously. "He ought to go off
somewhere for a change and rest. I've told him so a dozen times.
_You_"--to Rosy--"ought to know plenty of places. If I had my way about
it, he would start off to-morrow."

"Well, I don't know," observed her mother, slowly. "He never _has_ gone
off. And if you don't happen to feel first-rate, I don't know where you
can be better taken care of than right at home."

"You might go to Geneva--both of you," replied Jane; "I wish you would,
if only on my account. Mrs. Bates is just about getting tired of asking
you, and I'm 'most worn out with making up excuses for your not going."
Jane had been giving an occasional attendance on Susan Bates's dormitory
and children. Mrs. Bates herself had bowed to Rosy's preference with a
resigned reasonableness, and had abated not one jot in her friendliness
towards Rosy's family.

But to Eliza Marshall a summer's outing could easily be made to seem
superfluous, impracticable, revolutionary; nor did Jane succeed any
better with her father himself. He seemed to take a pathetic pride in
standing at his post; he almost appeared to be imbued with the fatalistic
notion that there was, indeed, no leaving it. He continued to smoke his
cigar outside, to cover haltingly sheets of paper with figures under the
library lamp, and to yield himself to hours of depressing and harassing
reflection within the shadows of the bay-window.

When Truesdale came home his father's decline was even more noticeable.
Truesdale commented briefly on his appearance, suggested as briefly a
little trip into the country, and after these few passes at filial duty
he concentrated his attention upon his own personal affairs.

On his second visit to Madison he had met Bertie Patterson
face to face. He had encountered her in one of the broad and
leafy walks before the Capitol, and she was in company with
another young man. "One of those students," thought Truesdale,
as he noted the smooth face and slender immaturity of her escort. "They
swarm. The town is full of them. What chance has anybody else against
them?"

Bertie showed him a little face at once surprised, startled, puzzled. She
bowed slightly and gave him a smile which seemed to him timid, shrinking,
and amusingly deferential; but she showed no disposition to pause, or
even to slacken her pace. "She doesn't know, after all," he thought; "she
is imagining some vague horror or other that is too dreadful to be true,
or even possible."

Bertie and her youth passed on through the contending sun and shade of
the path. "Can they be engaged?" thought Truesdale, upon whom certain
fine shades in posture and address were not thrown away; "he looks hardly
a junior." He presently met a senior of his acquaintance who told him he
understood they were. "Ouf!" commented Truesdale, further; "a mere
boy-and-girl affair." And he pleased himself with thinking how his
own participation in such an affair would give it a much greater maturity
and weight.

But as regarded this particular one, he definitely withdrew from all
participation whatever. He had now done enough to satisfy his
curiosity--or his interest, as he might have preferred to have it
called--and fully enough to preserve the dignity so absurdly jeoparded by
the fantastic scruples of his aunt Lydia. He presently dismissed the
whole matter, and fell to bestowing an exaggerated care upon the tips of
his brushes. "The rest of the summer I propose to enjoy," he declared.

As for David Marshall himself, he employed the rest of the summer in a
laborious attempt to form the acquaintance of his coming son-in-law.
Scodd-Paston presented to him an assemblage of qualities towards whose
scheduling and comprehending he received but little help from his
familiarity with the ordinary workaday type of local young man. Paston
was uniformly gay, jovial, companionable, definite sometimes as regarded
particulars, indefinite always as regarded generals. He stood constantly
in a lambent flicker of humorous good-nature, and he baffled the old
gentleman as one is baffled by the play of sunshine over a rippling pool.
Marshall would ask himself whether the depth of the pool was a
finger-length or a fathom, and would speculate on what there might be
lying at the bottom of it--strange deposits, perhaps, representing the
social and business developments of another age, or at least another
civilization. He sometimes questioned his daughter's capacity to cope
with the classification of such a collection--supposing so exacting a
task ever to devolve upon her.

He sometimes canvassed the matter with Theodore Brower, as the two sat
smoking together on the door-step through the long summer twilights,
while other warm-weather loungers scuffled aimlessly over the cindered
paths of the dingy grass-stretch opposite, or, lying on their backs,
crossed their legs self-indulgently and lifted over-worn brogans towards
the contemptuous stars. He opened himself unreservedly to Brower, as
to a friend of the family; and Brower could not but feel that his two
years' attendance at the house, with thus far no definite outcome, had
given the head of it ample warrant for considering him as he did. Once or
twice, while Brower was counselling with X Marshall on the door-step,
another man--Tom Bingham--had been entertained by Jane within the breezy
recesses of the bay-window. It was then that Brower realized with a kind
of muffled desperation how completely he and Bingham seemed to have
changed positions. One had begun as the friend of a single member of the
family, to become in the end the common and equal friend of all, and to
sit discussing now with the head of it as one gray-beard with another.
The other had begun as the general friend of the household, and had now
advanced to the stage where he could fill in the dusk of an early
September evening with the talk and company of the one young woman in
the world whose talk and company were in any degree worth considering.
Brower crunched his cigar between his teeth, and replied to Marshall's
observations with a brusque carelessness for which he rebuked himself as
being neither respectful nor civil.

"I had never thought," said the old gentleman, looking lakeward through
the smoky twilight with a kind of vague wistfulnes, "but that all my
girls would marry Americans." He spoke slowly, musingly, in his huskily
sibilant tones.

"Um," said Brower, moodily, from the depth of an absurd jealousy. The man
whose voice was coming to them with a certain deep indistinctness from
the bay-window was an American--decidedly so.

"And not only an American," pursued Marshall, "but a Westerner."

"Um," said Brower, with an increasing gloom. The man who had just
provoked that last clouded response from Jane was a Westerner, truly.

"And not only a Western man, but an out-and-out Chicago man; one who
knows the town, one who is in sympathy with it, one who has done a little
something to make it what it is."

"Um," said Brower once more, with a deeper despondency. Who had done more
to make the town what it was than Bingham had done?

"Then I should understand his ideas and ambitions," the old man
proceeded, in a tone of plaintive yet unavailing protest. "I should know
better about his connections and belongings. I should be able to foresee
the future in some degree. I should have a clearer idea of what to
expect. I should know, perhaps, where he--where he meant to live."
Marshall ended this discourse with a feeble and helpless sigh.

There was nothing indefinite about Bingham, thought poor Brower; there
was no doubt as to where _he_ would continue to exist. "You mean to say
it isn't decided yet where they are going to live?" Brewer's inquiry was
prompted by civility rather than by interest. It was the first
observation of any length that he had made for some time. Jane, who had
been straining her ears during the last ten minutes for the mere sound of
his voice, leaned back in her chair with an approximate comfort.

"I don't know, just exactly," replied Marshall, rather dismally. His tone
made him say that he did not know at all. "I've talked with Rosy and I've
talked with Arthur...." He lapsed into a comfortless silence, and ran his
thin old hand over his blanched and furrowed forehead.

"When are they going to be married?" asked Brower. His eyes were on the
bay-window, through whose curtains there showed the face of Bingham, his
own look anxiously fixed on Marshall.

Jane caught indistinctly the muffled tone of these few syllables.
She made them mean a dozen different things and finally nothing at all,
but she was glad of the opportunity to do even that.

"In a month," answered Marshall; "early in October. Rosy lays great
stress on an October wedding--that's the only right sort, it seems." He
sighed with a full sense of the imminence of the inevitable. The voice of
Bingham came with a slow, deep gravity from the bay-window, and Jane's
voice, responding, mingled nervously with her father's sigh.

"Not from the new house?" said Brower.

"Hardly. It will be almost finished, but far from furnished. Perhaps they
will have their receptions there, if they decide to--to come back."

"Come back?" Brower spoke up loudly; a jangling freight train had paused
opposite, and the locomotive was blowing off steam.

"To America," the old man explained. He laid his hands to his temples.
"Do you sleep well?"

"Always."

"Rosy thinks the new house ought to be hurried more. But why should she
object to being married from the old house she was born in? Most girls
would be pleased with such a thought as that." He placed his hand over
his weary old eyes. "You do, do you--always? I don't; I can't. These
trains--they keep me awake. I slept hardly half an hour last night, and
none at all the night before. Do you know anything about chloral?"

The voice of Bingham came to a pause, and that of Jane was presently
distinguished in response--trembling, apprehensive, lapsing away into
little breaks and pauses.

"I know it's dangerous," replied Brower. "And morphine, too. And all such
things; they're not to be used except in the last extremity. So they are
going to England for their wedding-trip, then?"

"To England, yes." He smiled half sorrowfully, half bitterly. He was
thinking how easy it might be for Rosamund to give up her old home and
her old friends altogether; and he was asking himself, too, if he had
really toiled through these many years only to have the results
squandered at last by a stranger in a strange land.

"To England, yes," he repeated. "Arthur has postponed his vacation until
late in the fall, and he hopes to be able to spend as much as two or
three weeks at home. At home; he is a British subject, you know--he has
never been naturalized."

The air quivered with the quick pulsations of the locomotive of a passing
suburban train. As it moved away Brower heard again the voice of Bingham
slow, grave, earnest--a voice of warning and alarm, one might have
thought.

"Some of them are here for years before they take out their papers,"
rejoined Brower. "And lots of them never take them out at all."

"I don't know what's to be done," said Marshall, with a fretful anxiety.
"I've given up coffee; some tell me that I ought to give up smoking, too,
but others say it really doesn't make any difference. But I must do
something; I must have better rest.

"I can't work without my sleep, and I--I can't let myself fail--now."

Jane was speaking once again--more steadily, more coolly, more
composedly, it seemed. "Poor pa;--it can't be so serious as that," the
listener thought he understood her to say.

"I've heard of bromine," said Brower. "That's simpler, isn't it--and
safer?" Jane's voice had ceased, and silence maintained its sway within.

"She will meet all his family," the old gentleman went on. "She seems to
expect to find them very fine people--finer than any we have here. And
she will see the place where they live--a very much handsomer place, I
make out, than any in this part of the world." A drawn and weary smile
passed lightly over his face.

There was a movement in the bay-window, and presently a solid footstep in
the hall.

"There's nothing like finding things out for yourself," said Brower,
colorlessly.

Bingham appeared on the door-step, just as the tail of locomotive smoke
swept over the front yard. "Will you smoke with us?" asked Marshall.

Brower smiled, though neither of the others seemed conscious of any
secondary meaning in this simple question. "Thank you, no," replied
Bingham. "I am moving on to an appointment, and am a little late as it
is." He looked down on Marshall with an expression of friendly
solicitude, and shook hands with him in a long, slow clasp. "Good-night;
you are entitled to better care than you are giving yourself." And he
moved down the footpath towards the front gate.

Marshall looked after him wistfully. "If I were only in that man's shoes!
If I but had half his health and strength!" Brower heard nothing of this;
he was straining his ears for a further sound from within.

"I must get rest," cried the old man, pitifully. "I'm wearing out. I stay
up till midnight and after, every night, and even then it's sometimes
daylight before I have a minute's sleep, I can't stand it; nobody can."

There was a sound inside, as of scuffling among the furniture. It was
Jane, feeling her way through the dark, listening for the sound of
Theodore Brower's voice, and murmuring tremulously with her own,
"_Toujours fidèle; toujours fidèle!_"

"What can I do?" asked the old man, with an appealing grip on Brower's
arm. "What doctor can I see? Where can I go for a change and for rest? Or
how," he groaned, "can I go away at all? They are crowding me down; they
are wrenching my business from my hands! I can't give way at such a time
as this!"

Brower hardly heard him; he was listening for Jane, who was now doubling
the newel-post just within, and whose quavering undertone broke at the
turn as she chanted once more her phrase of hope and reassurance. Brower
heard her intonation, and wondered over its meaning; but he would have
found no meaning in the words themselves, even if they had been
distinctly audible, for he knew no French.

Jane crooned the same brief snatch of melody many a time as the
preparations for her sister's wedding moved along--particularly during
those hours when she sat in her own room and directed the invitations. It
was the only bed-chamber which she remembered ever to have occupied--the
same furniture, the same fireplace, the same outlook, the same familiar
curtains, gas-jets, door-knobs that had been known to her tomboy
childhood, to her formidably plain girlhood, to her ambitious and
philanthropic spinsterhood. The very air of it seemed thick with
her varying hopes and plans and dreams and projects and ideals. In this
retired bower she had slept for her whole life, and no fairy prince had
ever penetrated to it to awaken her. One had come for Alice and one for
Rosy, but never a--"_Toujours fidèle!_" moaned Jane, in her deepest
contralto, and fell to work with renewed zeal upon her envelopes.

There were hundreds and hundreds of them. Rosy had imagined a function of
the first magnitude, and it was not to dwindle for mere lack of material.
She had determined upon a ceremony in church and a large reception at the
house, with everything in the way of music, flowers, functionaries, and
supernumeraries that the most approved forms could incorporate. She stood
out for a bishop, a surpliced choir, a wedding-breakfast after the
English manner--in short, for the utmost attainable in the way of
spendor, thoroughness, and distinction. The preparations moved on with a
swirl and a sweep, and involved the whole household to the exclusion of
all else.

"But, for Heaven's sake," demanded Jane, "how are you going to get all
these people into the house?" She had already disposed of Paston's short
list, and had even found a certain pleasure in the quaint and complicated
addresses that abounded throughout it. But the other list, compiled by
Rosy and her mother, seemed to pass all bounds; not her mother's part,
which was limited to certain old-time friends and connections, but Rosy's
own, which dealt with "society" almost in its entirety. Jane appreciated
now, for the first time, the comprehensive thoroughness of Rosy's
year of social endeavor.

"Here, let me have it," said Rosy, brusquely snatching the list from
Jane. She fixed her eye upon the part of it that was written in her
mother's cramped and antiquated hand. "Who are these Browns?"

"Why, don't you remember the Browns? They were old neighbors of ours; pa
used to think everything of them. They sent Alice a beautiful present."

"Never heard of them in my life," declared Rosy. "They needn't come; they
can just have announcement-cards. Who are the Grahams?--here's four of
them."

"Why," faltered Jane, "they used to have the pew right behind us in the
old church. Ma and Mrs. Graham had a booth together at the Sanitary
Fair."

"The pew behind, eh? I haven't the slightest recollection of them." She
marked the name off altogether.

She made a thorough revision of her mother's list. Then she turned to her
own. "Now, _these_ people--I _know_ all of _them_, and am indebted to
them, and expect to have relations with them after I come back. They've
all got to stay on."

"Very good," said Jane, meekly. What else could she say? Was it not to
some such social triumph as this that for a good six months she had bent
all her own endeavors? She tried now to make the triumph seem as glorious
as it should, but she could not feel that she was succeeding.

Another stage in the proceeding arrived when the gowns began to come home
from the dress-maker's. Jane then laid aside her pen to find pins, to
contrive ruchings, to catch up the loose ends of draperies, while her
mother and her sister Alice and her aunt Lydia circled and fluttered and
swooped and chattered through a hundred suggestions and amendments and
alterations. Then Jane would stand upon the threshold, and blink
tearfully and indignantly into the gloom of the hall. "Nobody thinks of
_me_," she would say, chokingly; "nobody cares for me; nobody seems to
imagine that I've got a heart, too!"

And, lastly, the day itself;--when Truesdale, decorated with a daring and
wanton orchid, followed Paston out into the middle of the chancel of a
crowded and buzzing church; when his father, despite his failing powers
and an innate repugnance to the conscious dramatization involved in the
ceremonial side of life, led Rosamond up a long aisle with the tremulous
embarrassment of an invalid and a novice, and parted from her in front of
a broad pair of lawn sleeves; and when Cecilia Ingles scattered a
wide shower of rice over the broken flagging of the old front walk, as
Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Scodd-Paston, of Boxton Park, Witham, Essex, England
(as one of the newspapers took the trouble to put it) passed out through
the rusty old front gate into married life.

A few days later David Marshall, to the surprise and dismay of the
remaining members of the family, took to his bed.



XXI


"Where are you, Jane?"

Eliza Marshall's voice sounded impatiently in the hallway, and presently
her nervous hand was placed on the knob of her daughter's door.

"Well, here you are, finally. And what is the matter, for the land's
sake? And where is the pillow you went to get for your father?--we can't
keep him waiting out in the carriage on such a day as this. Come, get up;
you'll catch your death of cold yourself."

Jane was lying on the bare floor of her stripped and emptied room, with
her head pillowed upon the window-sill. She wore her sack, but her hat
had fallen off and lay at her side. In her hand she held a stiff and
curling width of paper just torn from the wall, and her body shook with
sobs as she lifted her wide and welling eyes to her mother's face.

"I am to blame," she cried, wildly; "I am to blame for it all! If it
hadn't been for me we should never have left our old home and given up
our old life, and Rosy wouldn't have cut all our friends and gone to
England to live; and Truesdale wouldn't be talking about starting off
across the Pacific for somewhere or other, and we should never have made
enemies of those Beldens, and poor pa wouldn't have lost his business,
and wouldn't be going off to die inch by inch in that big cold place out
on the prairie. I'm to blame for it all; but I--I meant as well as
anybody could!"

"'Sh, Jane! Rosy hasn't gone to England to live, and your father isn't
dying. How can you talk that way?"

"And my old room!" Jane went on with a stringent cry, as her eyes roamed
despairingly over its dismantled walls. "I never lived anywhere else, and
I don't want to, and I can't! I don't want to live at all! And this old
house isn't ours any longer, and those carriage people will begin to tear
it down to-morrow. They'll take away the barn and chop down the trees,
and there won't be a single thing left to remember it all by." She bent
her head on the window-sill again, and sobbed more vehemently still.

"Oh, Jane, Jane!" cried her mother, protestingly, "how can you act that
way when there is so much to be done, and when your father is feeling so
much worse than usual? Where were those pillows left, anyway? Come,
come!"

Jane rose to her knees and tried to wipe her face with the piece of
wall-paper. Then her mother lifted her up and led her out through the
hall.

It was a chilly day in early November--a high wind lashing the gray and
foaming lake--when David Marshall, wrapped in shawls and bolstered up
with pillows, was driven carefully over the three miles of flinty macadam
which led from his old house to his new one, and was put to bed again in
a large, half-warmed apartment, fitted up scantily and provisionally with
an old chamber-set that had escaped the auctioneer. His own illness
and his daughter's marriage had almost brought the furnishing of the new
house to a stand-still, while the anxiety of the purchasers of the old
place to get their foundations in before the real cold weather had made
it impossible for the family to re-remain a single day beyond the
stipulated term. No new furnishings had been attempted beyond carpets and
curtains, and for the first few days that the old man lay in these new
quarters he had little to assure him that he was not in some hotel or in
some hospital, save the echoing tread of the hard-finishers in other
rooms about him. The first slight flurry of snow dusted the dead weeds of
the open spaces round the house, and the reflections from it passed
through the clear, broad panes of the windows to strike a grimmer chill
from the shimmering surfaces of ash and oak. Never before had the world
seemed to him so empty and so cold and so unsympathetic. And when his
own wife had said to him, in accents almost of reproach, "Oh, David,
David, how could you take such a time as this to be sick, with all the
worry of moving and furnishing and Rosy's wedding and everything else?"
he felt as bare and chill and numb as a naked sailor cast ashore on some
alien and inhospitable coast.

Susan Bates appeared at the new house almost immediately; she felt its
need now, if ever, of being habitable. She stuffed her carriage with rugs
and draperies; she sent an expressman out with her favorite easy-chair.
She brought alcohol lamps and chafing-dishes. She seldom came without
fruit or flowers. She set fire-screens and adjusted window-shades. She
went deeply into the subject of opiates, and she talked by the hour with
Jane and her mother about symptoms and remedies.

Marshall, while grateful for her attentions, was almost embarrassed
by them--not that they should come from her rather than from his wife (or
at least more copiously and spontaneously), but that they should come at
all. Never before in his life had he received such minute and solicitous
ministrations; he felt with a shy self-depreciation that he must be
making himself a great burden. If Susan Bates threw back her
bonnet-strings and suggested to Jane a lowering of the window-shades,
he would almost protest against the girl's laying aside her book or her
sewing; and the preparation of any special dish, such as is an invalid's
due, would even now still cause him that sense of guilt which he had
always felt on breaking in upon the household routine of his wife. "Poor
man!" Susan Bates would say; "how must he have lived all these years!
Why, I could hardly get him even to let me oil the door-hinges!"

She would sit by his bedside and try to soothe and divert this wan and
weary and half-desperate old man. He enjoyed but the most fitful slumber,
and even that only by the action of narcotics. Through the lagging hours
of the day and through the maddening watches of the night his mind,
ticking like an unstillable clock, beat for him an incessant rhythmical
reminder of the impending ruin of his house and of his own powerlessness
to avert it. He reviewed again and again the whole course of his life and
his business--they were one: his lowly beginnings, his early struggles in
the raw but ambitious prairie town, the laborious stages of endeavor by
which he had developed and strengthened his business--his. Then, as the
house had grown, others had insinuated themselves, or imposed themselves;
and these were now banded together to dominate it, and to check
and circumvent him, its founder and their benefactor, and finally to
bring it to the very brink of ruin, and to make the labors of his whole
lifetime come to naught. And he in bed here--with his feeble hands
working desperately at the hem of the sheet, and his aching head
throbbing unavailingly through the cruel, open-eyed watches of the night.
He raged over the world's injustice and his own impotence; the thought
was never absent from him--he was coming under the disastrous domination
of the _idèe fixe_.

He spoke of these things to Susan Bates with such an increasing frequency
and insistency as almost to transfer the rack of them from his own brain
to hers. Once or twice, in an interval of semi-delirium, he bewept the
ruin not only of his business, but of himself and of his family and of
all his belongings. He infected her with his own dread and panic; she saw
his property dispersed, his home in others' hands, his family in the
depths of despairing poverty.

One morning she appeared at Roger's office; Minnie Peters accompanied
her. The one carried a large leather bag in her hand; the other had a
large brown-paper parcel under her arm.

"Your poor father!" said Susan Bates, advancing straight towards Roger
with moistened eyes and with a nervous tremor in her voice and body
alike. She set her satchel on the corner of Roger's desk and began
tugging at its catches. "You open yours too, Minnie," she said; and
Minnie Peters began working at the knots in the cord that bound her stiff
brown bundle with a tight-drawn tension. Roger looked at both his callers
with a great surprise.

"Poor David!" said Susan Bates, with her lips twitching; "to think of his
toiling and slaving so many years, and of everything going all to pieces
in the end, like this! It can't be! It sha'n't be!--not if I can help
it."

She thrust her hand into the top of Minnie Peter's package. She drew out
a heavy folded document and followed it with others. "There! that's the
abstract; and here are the leases, and here is the insurance." She threw
out a sheaf of policies; the one on top was for ten thousand dollars. "I
didn't know just what you would need; I brought everything connected with
the whole building--here's the receipt for last year's taxes. Now, I want
you to put a mortgage on it right away. It's clear, Mr. Bates says."

Roger glanced at one of the leases and placed the building in an instant.
It was a vast structure in the dry-goods district, occupied by half a
dozen firms of the highest standing.

Mrs. Bates now thrust her hand into her own bag. She drew it out time and
time again, until she had covered the top of Roger's desk with packages
of securities--bank stock, railroad bonds, State and county issues of all
kinds; there was even one bright-green batch of water bonds from a far
town in North Dakota.

Roger looked up at her very gravely. "Is this with Mr. Bates's approval?"

Susan Bates answered him pantingly, all a-tremble with nervous
excitement. "Mr. Bates is a just man, and not an ungenerous man,
but--but"--She clasped her hands and leaned forward anxiously. "Mr. Bates
and I have always stepped along together. He has always done whatever I
have asked him to do. He has never disappointed me. But--oh, Roger, he
never knew your father in those early days; if he had, could he stand by
and see him on the edge of ruin without making some effort to save him?"
She waved her hand over the disorder of Roger's desk. "That's everything
I've got; use as much of it as you need."

She began to cry a little. Minnie Peters, who always cried when she
could, pulled out her handkerchief and frankly sobbed aloud.

Roger studied the two women with some perplexity and with a slight shade
of pique.

"It is true," he began, very proudly and much too coldly, "that the
affairs of the Marshall & Belden Company are moving towards the hands of
a receiver, but the affairs of David Marshall himself are in the hands of
his son; and they were never in better condition than they are to-day."

This was Roger's song of victory over his recent success with the largest
operation (on behalf both of his father and of himself) that he had ever
undertaken. It seemed as if all the world must know of that--must ring
with it, in fact; yet it was this very hour which Benevolence had now
chosen for the precipitation of her golden shower.

Susan Bates gave a little gasp. "Then--then you don't need it?"

"Never less," replied Roger, with a quivering nostril and a high, slow
bow.

Susan Bates looked sidewise at Minnie Peters and asked her to behave
herself. But she gave a few hysterical sobs on her own part, and Minnie
Peters echoed them with a faithful promptitude.

"Just like a woman," thought Roger, as he sat alone after Susan Bates's
departure. He drew a hundred lines on an imaginary sheet of paper with a
dry pen. "Like a woman; yes," he added, under the promptings of a feeling
for more exact justice, "a woman in ten thousand."

A few mornings later, when this woman in ten thousand was standing in the
bleak porch of the new house to await the return of her horses from their
last walk up and down, another carriage slipped into its place and
another woman alighted on the curbstone. Susan Bates immediately squared
her shoulders, banished all expression from her face, and began the
descent of the steps with her eyes fixed upon the gaps in the broken
building line over the way.

"That woman! She has never entered _my_ house, and she never shall; and
she should never enter this."

Statira Belden had come to do the decencies; Eliza Marshall received her
with the grim inexpressiveness of a granite bowlder.

"My husband is resting quietly to-day," she said, in response to Mrs.
Belden's inquiries. He was--unconscious under chloral, after three nights
of open-eyed torment.

Mrs. Belden passed one of her large, smooth gloves over the other and
praised the house.

"It is one of the handsomest on the street," replied Eliza Marshall,
firmly. "And one of the best built. We feel completely at home in it
already."

But, in truth, the poor soul was homesick, heartsick, as lost and forlorn
as a shipwrecked sailor on the chill coast of Kamtchatka.

Mrs. Belden smoothed down her yellow locks and deplored, in her thickly
sweet accents, the unfortunate condition of the business.

"My husband's own affairs are going very well," returned Eliza Marshall,
looking forward with unblinking eyes. "My son has charge of them. There
was a full account of his success in the Sunday paper."

Her tone was one of brazen triumph. Yet Eliza Marshall abhorred
speculation with all the dread of the middle-aged female conservative.
One dollar through legitimate trade rather than ten through such paths as
Roger had of late been so fearfully treading.

Mrs. Belden had heard something of Truesdale's intended departure for the
Orient. "He finds Chicago uncongenial, no doubt."

"Truesdale is at home everywhere. He will have adventures everywhere. He
is handsome. He is clever. He can interest wherever he chooses. Sometimes
he interests too easily and too deeply; sometimes in spite of himself and
to his own annoyance."

Eliza Marshall shot out these remarks like bullets from behind a
breastwork. At the end she set her jaws firmly, and stared at Statira
Belden with a proud defiance. Many a night had Truesdale's courses wet
her pillow with tears of sorrow and shame; she now wondered if it were
really she herself who had just celebrated his profligacy, and had seemed
to glory in it at that. She had surmised her son's disdain for the
importunities of Gladys McKenna, and she had joined with him in a ringing
derision when the Beldens had accused him of encouraging her in her folly
that he might employ her as a spy upon the happenings in their house. "My
son," she concluded, "will return at his own pleasure, and will always be
welcome under his father's roof."

Statira Belden's eyes sought the floor. It was she who had made it sure
that knowledge of Truesdale's transgression should reach the ears of
Susan Bates; yet her own son had just established relations with a
"baroness" who still lingered behind on the scene of the late national
festivities, and at the climax of an insane extravagance had been openly
cast off by his family.

"And Rosy?" said Statira Belden, presently, with a reconquered sweetness.
"One would expect to find her home at such a time as this."

Eliza Marshall planted her standard upon her breastwork, and flaunted it
with a firm and magnificent spirit.

"My daughter Rosamund will be with us inside of a week. She has been
detained longer than she had expected among her husband's family." The
old lady rose with a stiff, slow motion, and transferred a large panel
photograph from the centre-table to Statira Belden's hands. "This
reached us yesterday."

It was Rosamund. Her proud and splendid young beauty was set off by a
court-train, an immense bouquet, and a nodding group of ostrich-tips.

"Presented at court!" exclaimed Statira Belden, involuntarily, and bit
her tongue a second after.

Eliza Marshall answered neither yes nor no. She let the photograph speak
for itself.

"Rosamund," she went on, presently, "may return a little too late for her
first reception, but the others will be held here, and she will entertain
a great deal during the winter."

Statira Belden was cowed at last, and Eliza Marshall's heart beat high to
see it. This was her only compensation for the tears shed over the
delayed return of a selfish and unfilial daughter, for the anticipated
ordeal of the gay social happenings which were to follow that return, for
the besetting thought that some dread misfortune might displace all this
future festivity by a worse alternative, and make the lightest diversion
a black impossibility.

"She kissed the Queen's hand?" palpitated Statira Belden with an interest
that she could not stifle; and again Eliza Marshall answered neither yes
nor no.

Rosamund had not kissed the Queen's hand, but her husband's family had
been so fascinated by her beauty, so amazed by her genius for dress, and
so confounded by her boundless aplomb, that one of them had suggested
that she attire herself in a costume which had served a daughter of the
house at a Drawing-room some six months before, and others had demanded
that she be photographed in it. This was the pleasantest impression
that Rosy brought back of her husband's family--their generous and
unbounded appreciation of herself.

Her other impressions were less acute. Boxton Park itself she had found
comfortable, but not at all splendid; and as for its occupants, they
were, in the main, staid and serious people who were doing what they
could to justify the favors that fortune had bestowed upon them. Rosy
sometimes felt that, in general terms, they might have appreciated Jane
quite as fully as they had appreciated her. They were not gay, they were
not lively, they were not like Arthur. Paston had truly described
himself as the youngest, and he was by far the most jovial and
blithesome.

Rosy had not delayed her return on account of any presentation at
court--though the achievement of the photograph may have accounted for a
few days more or less--but on account of the fox-hunting, which had
completely fascinated her. Horse, habit, and country were all in perfect
accord; her prosaic and hum-drum practice at home was now transmuted into
the purest poetry, and under the promptings of this new afflatus she
developed a grace and a daring which accomplished the final and
irrevocable conquest of all her husband's family.

Rosy's continued sojourn in England cost her husband his position and
prospects in America, where he was not of enough importance to assume
such liberties. But this mattered nothing to his wife. She had lived for
more than a fortnight at the seat of a county family, she had breathed
the air of deference that exists for the gentry of the shires, and she
was far from any thought of a permanent submission to the rasping
crudities of provincial America. She had already developed the fixed
determination to return to London for the "season," to accomplish
an actual presentation at court, and to make England her future home for
the rest of her days.

One thing more was lost by Rosamund's delay in Essex--all chance of a
last recognition from her father. When she finally reached home he was in
a state of slight delirium, and when he passed from that it was to enter
into unconsciousness. His ideas ran incessantly on gifts, on
philanthropic endeavor. To-day he built an asylum; to-morrow he endowed a
hospital. He strewed promises over the counterpane with indefatigable
hands, and babbled unending benefactions among his hot and harassing
pillows. Jane, half mad with anguish and remorse, found an added pang in
the recollection that during one of his conscious and least uncomfortable
hours he had yielded to her solicitations and those of Susan Bates, and
had set apart a certain portion of his estate, with the approval of
Roger, for a collegiate building which was to bear his name. "He will be
remembered now," said Jane, for all her poignant sorrow, and she was glad
that Roger had co-operated to make this step a possibility. She tried not
to see too plainly that her father had made no pretence of a keener sense
of his duty towards the public, or of a kindlier disposition towards it.
Whatever he had done was on personal grounds--for the pleasure of a
daughter and of an old friend.

One morning, a week after Rosamund's return, a bow of crape was hanging
upon the door-bell, Susan Bates was busy with Eliza Marshall up-stairs
over certain sombre-hued apparel, and Roger was writing down a list of
names and addresses for Theodore Brower upon the dining-room table.

"We must have eight out of this list," said Roger to Brower, "and we
ought to know by night which of them can serve."

"Whose names have you put down?" asked Jane, reaching for the paper. She
read them over. "Give me that pencil." She wrote down half a dozen more.
"There!" she said, with a sort of frenzied and towering pride, as she
passed the sheet on to Brower. "Those are men that my father knew, and
they are men who must help us now." Roger glanced at the names; each
was a household word to every soul throughout the city. "Try
_them_," said Jane to Brower, "and if any of them refuse you, they will
have to refuse me later." And she walked straight out of the room,
without turning her head an inch to right or left.

"Shall I?" asked Brower, abashed.

"Why not?" demanded Roger, with a laconic severity.

Brower was a quiet, retiring fellow, and entered upon his day's work with
a full consciousness of the ordeal. It meant to lean over the desks of
bank presidents, to intrude upon the meetings of railway directors, to
penetrate to the retiring-rooms of judges, to approach more than one of
the magnates whom, with an imposing vagueness, we call "capitalists." But
Brower, carrying the thought of Jane with him into all these presences,
accomplished his task with modesty, tact, and discretion, and finally,
from the few simple types of greatness that the town possesses, evolved a
list which the pride of the dead man's daughter was willing to accept.

The list of occupants of the carriages Jane made out herself. "In the
first one, mother and Roger and Alice and her husband. In the second,
Arthur and Rosy and Truesdale and me. In the third, Aunt Lydia and the
Bateses--it will be full if Lottie and William both come. I can do
_that_ much for Aunt Lyddy," concluded Jane, with a rueful yet whimsical
smile.

"Where do you put me?" asked Brower, with an inviolate sobriety. They
were alone in the dining-room together.

"In the fourth. You and Mr. Bingham and--"

"I don't want to go in the carriage with Mr. Bingham," interrupted
Brower.

"Why, Theodore, what do you mean? Mr. Bingham is one of our best and
oldest friends. Who is there that has been kinder to poor dear pa, and to
ma, and to me--?"

"Nor in any carriage occupied by--friends," he went on, in the same tense
undertone. He took a firm grip on the back of the chair beside him; Jane
saw the swelling veins of his hand and wondered what it all might mean.
"I want to go in one of the carriages for the family. I want to go in the
carriage that _you_ go in. Do you understand me?"

A sudden consciousness had swept over him, with the mention of Bingham's
name, that he himself, as well as any other, filled measurably the dead
man's ideal of a husband for one of his daughters. He had waited too long
already before making this discovery; he must not wait so long before
declaring it.

She did not understand from his voice, which was strained and muffled to
conceal an emotion all unconcealable. But she understood from his eyes,
which looked into hers with an immense and endless kindness, and from his
hand, which had left its heroic clutch upon the chair to take a very
human hold upon the hand which hung so limply by her side. "Do you
understand me?" he asked again; and his voice was gentler than before.

"I do," answered Jane, feebly, and her head fell upon his shoulder.
Nothing ever seemed to happen to her as to anybody else; but if happiness
chose to come to her swathed in mourning bands, none the less kindly and
thankfully must it be welcomed. And as she reclined against him she
breathed a sigh of thanks that not he, but Bingham, had been concerned in
the laying of her ill-omened corner-stone.

He stood beside her at the open grave, and supported her there, too, as
the rattling sand and gravel rained down upon the coffin. The grave had
been set round with evergreen sprays, and the raw mound of earth beside
it had been concealed in the same kindly fashion. But Jane, in a
self-inflicted penance, would spare herself no pang; she clutched
Brower's arm and stood there, motionless, until the grave had been filled
in and the overplus of earth had been shaped above it. "Put those lilies
at the head," she directed; "they were from Mrs. Bates." And then she
walked away.

She read the next day, with a chastened satisfaction, the newspaper
accounts of her father's career. A new and careless public was carried
back once more to the early day whose revivification is always attempted
for a preoccupied and unsympathetic community upon the passing away of
another old settler. Then the frontier village lifts once more its
bedraggled forlornness from the slime of its humble beginnings, and the
lingering presence of the red man is again made manifest upon the grassy
horizon. Again the struggles of the early days are rehearsed, again fire
deals out its awful devastation, and once more the city grows from an
Indian village to a metropolis of two millions within the lifetime of a
single individual.

One morning, the second after the funeral, Truesdale stood at the front
parlor window, while the first snow-storm of the season swirled over the
long reach of the street and across the straggling paths that traversed
the wide stretches of broken prairie land round about. On the chair
beside him was a newspaper containing the statement that the affairs of
the Marshall & Belden Company were to be wound up, all thought of
continuing the business having been abandoned. And on the table beside
him lay the cards which announced the marriage of Bertie Patterson.

"No business," he said; "no bride." He feigned to himself that he had
really designed going into his father's office, and that he had had a
serious intention of asking Bertie Patterson to become his wife. He
looked out through the wide, clear pane, and thought of the view, of the
weather, of the hideous hubbub of the whole town. "Ouf! What a prospect,
what a climate, what a human hodge-podge! Everything unites for me in
saying--Japan."

David Marshall's will was opened this same day. It made Japan possible
for Truesdale, and England possible for Rosamund. A codicil, added in
Roger's hand at the latest practicable moment, revoked the bequest for a
collegiate building and transferred the whole amount of it directly to
Jane.

"This mustn't make any difference," said Jane to Brower. "It shall go for
that, after all. My father was a good man, and he deserves to be
remembered."

Brower bowed quietly. He appreciated the gravity of this their joint
sacrifice, but he would not dispute the justness of it.

THE END





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