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´╗┐Title: Lifted Masks; stories
Author: Glaspell, Susan, 1882?-1948
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 "Lifted Masks; stories" ***

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LIFTED MASKS

STORIES

By Susan Glaspell

1912


TO

THE MEMORY OF MY FRIEND

JENNIE PRESTON



CONTENTS


I "ONE OF THOSE IMPOSSIBLE AMERICANS"

II THE PLEA

III FOR LOVE OF THE HILLS

IV FRECKLES M'GRATH

V FROM A TO Z

VI THE MAN OF FLESH AND BLOOD

VII HOW THE PRINCE SAW AMERICA

VIII THE LAST SIXTY MINUTES

IX "OUT THERE"

X THE PREPOSTEROUS MOTIVE

XI HIS AMERICA

XII THE ANARCHIST: HIS DOG

XIII AT TWILIGHT



LIFTED MASKS



I

"ONE OF THOSE IMPOSSIBLE AMERICANS"


"N'avez-vous pas--" she was bravely demanding of the clerk when she saw
that the bulky American who was standing there helplessly dangling
two flaming red silk stockings which a copiously coiffured young woman
assured him were _bien chic_ was edging nearer her. She was never
so conscious of the truly American quality of her French as when
a countryman was at hand. The French themselves had an air of "How
marvellously you speak!" but fellow Americans listened superciliously
in an "I can do better than that myself" manner which quite untied
the Gallic twist in one's tongue. And so, feeling her French was being
compared, not with mere French itself, but with an arrogant new American
brand thereof, she moved a little around the corner of the counter and
began again in lower voice:

"_Mais, n'avez_--"

"Say, Young Lady," a voice which adequately represented the figure broke
in, "_you_, aren't French, are you?"

She looked up with what was designed for a haughty stare. But what is a
haughty stare to do in the face of a broad grin? And because it was such
a long time since a grin like that had been grinned at her it happened
that the stare gave way to a dimple, and the dimple to a laughing: "Is
it so bad as that?"

"Oh, not your French," he assured her. "You talk it just like the rest
of them. In fact, I should say, if anything--a little more so. But do
you know,"--confidentially--"I can just spot an American girl every
time!"

"How?" she could not resist asking, and the modest black hose she
was thinking of purchasing dangled against his gorgeous red ones in
friendliest fashion.

"Well, Sir--I don't know. I don't think it can be the
clothes,"--judicially surveying her.

"The clothes," murmured Virginia, "were bought in Paris."

"Well, you've got _me_. Maybe it's the way you wear 'em. Maybe
it's 'cause you look as if you used to play tag with your brother.
Something--anyhow--gives a fellow that 'By jove there's an American
girl!' feeling when he sees you coming round the corner."

"But why--?"

"Lord--don't begin on _why_. You can say _why_ to anything. Why don't
the French talk English? Why didn't they lay Paris out at right angles?
Now look here, Young Lady, for that matter--_why_ can't you help me
buy some presents for my wife? There'd be nothing wrong about it," he
hastened to assure her, "because my wife's a mighty fine woman."

The very small American looked at the very large one. Now Virginia was a
well brought up young woman. Her conversations with strange men had been
confined to such things as, "Will you please tell me the nearest way
to--?" but preposterously enough--she could not for the life of her
have told why--frowning upon this huge American--fat was the literal
word--who stood there with puckered-up face swinging the flaming hose
would seem in the same shameful class with snubbing the little boy who
confidently asked her what kind of ribbon to buy for his mother.

"Was it for your wife you were thinking of buying these red stockings?"
she ventured.

"Sure. What do you think of 'em? Look as if they came from Paris all
right, don't they?"

"Oh, they look as though they came from Paris, all right," Virginia
repeated, a bit grimly. "But do you know"--this quite as to that little
boy who might be buying the ribbon--"American women don't always
care for all the things that look as if they came from Paris. Is your
wife--does she care especially for red stockings?"

"Don't believe she ever had a pair in her life. That's why I thought it
might please her."

Virginia looked down and away. There were times when dimples made things
hard for one.

Then she said, with gentle gravity: "There are quite a number of women
in America who don't care much for red stockings. It would seem too bad,
wouldn't it, if after you got these clear home your wife should turn out
to be one of those people? Now, I think these grey stockings are lovely.
I'm sure any woman would love them. She could wear them with grey suede
slippers and they would be so soft and pretty."

"Um--not very lively looking, are they? You see I want something to
cheer her up. She--well she's not been very well lately and I thought
something--oh something with a lot of _dash_ in it, you know, would just
fill the bill. But look here. We'll take both. Sure--that's the way out
of it. If she don't like the red, she'll like the grey, and if she don't
like the--You like the grey ones, don't you? Then here"--picking up two
pairs of the handsomely embroidered grey stockings and handing them to
the clerk--"One," holding up his thumb to denote one--"me,"--a vigorous
pounding of the chest signifying me. "One"--holding up his forefinger
and pointing to the girl--"mademoiselle."

"Oh no--no--no!" cried Virginia, her face instantly the colour of the
condemned stockings. Then, standing straight: "Certainly _not_."

"No? Just as you say," he replied good humouredly. "Like to have you
have 'em. Seems as if strangers in a strange land oughtn't to stand on
ceremony."

The clerk was bending forward holding up the stockings alluringly.
"_Pour mademoiselle, n'est-ce-pas_?"

"_Mais--non!_" pronounced Virginia, with emphasis.

There followed an untranslatable gesture. "How droll!" shoulder and
outstretched hands were saying. "If the kind gentleman _wishes_ to give
mademoiselle the _joli bas_--!"

His face had puckered up again. Then suddenly it unpuckered. "Tell you
what you might do," he solved it. "Just take 'em along and send them to
your mother. Now your mother might be real glad to have 'em."

Virginia stared. And then an awful thing happened. What she was thinking
about was the letter she could send with the stockings. "Mother dear,"
she would write, "as I stood at the counter buying myself some stockings
to-day along came a nice man--a stranger to me, but very kind and
jolly--and gave me--"

There it was that the awful thing happened. Her dimple was showing--and
at thought of its showing she could not keep it from showing! And how
could she explain why it was showing without its going on showing? And
how--?

But at that moment her gaze fell upon the clerk, who had taken
the dimple as signal to begin putting the stockings in a box. The
Frenchwoman's eyebrows soon put that dimple in its proper place. "And
so the _petite Americaine_ was not too--oh, not _too_--" those French
eyebrows were saying.

All in an instant Virginia was something quite different from a little
girl with a dimple. "You are very kind," she was saying, and her mother
herself could have done it no better, "but I am sure our little joke had
gone quite far enough. I bid you good-morning". And with that she
walked regally over to the glove counter, leaving red and grey and black
hosiery to their own destinies.

"I loathe them when their eyebrows go up," she fumed. "Now _his_ weren't
going up--not even in his mind."

She could not keep from worrying about him. "They'll just 'do' him," she
was sure. "And then laugh at him in the bargain. A man like that has no
_business_ to be let loose in a store all by himself."

And sure enough, a half hour later she came upon him up in the dress
department. Three of them had gathered round to "do" him. They were
making rapid headway, their smiling deference scantily concealing their
amused contempt. The spectacle infuriated Virginia. "They just think
they can _work_ us!" she stormed. "They think we're _easy_. I suppose
they think he's a _fool_. I just wish they could get him in a business
deal! I just wish--!"

"I can assure you, sir," the English-speaking manager of the department
was saying, "that this garment is a wonderful value. We are able to let
you have it at so absurdly low a figure because--"

Virginia did not catch why it was they were able to let him have it at
so absurdly low a figure, but she did see him wipe his brow and look
helplessly around. "Poor _thing_," she murmured, almost tenderly, "he
doesn't know what to do. He just _does_ need somebody to look after
him." She stood there looking at his back. He had a back a good deal
like the back of her chum's father at home. Indeed there were various
things about him suggested "home." Did one want one's own jeered at? One
might see crudities one's self, but was one going to have supercilious
outsiders coughing those sham coughs behind their hypocritical hands?

"For seven hundred francs," she heard the suave voice saying.

_Seven hundred francs_! Virginia's national pride, or, more accurately,
her national rage, was lashed into action. It was with very red
cheeks that the small American stepped stormily to the rescue of her
countryman.

"Seven hundred francs for _that_?" she jeered, right in the face of the
enraged manager and stiffening clerks. "Seven hundred francs--indeed!
Last year's model--a hideous colour, and "--picking it up, running it
through her fingers and tossing it contemptuously aside--"abominable
stuff!"

"Gee, but I'm grateful to you!" he breathed, again wiping his brow. "You
know, I was a little leery of it myself."

The manager, quivering with rage and glaring uglily, stepped up to
Virginia. "May I ask--?"

But the fat man stepped in between--he was well qualified for
that position. "Cut it out, partner. The young lady's a friend of
_mine_--see? She's looking out for me--not you. I don't want your stuff,
anyway." And taking Virginia serenely by the arm he walked away.

"This was no place to buy dresses," said she crossly.

"Well, I wish I knew where the places _were_ to buy things," he replied,
humbly, forlornly.

"Well, what do you want to buy?" demanded she, still crossly.

"Why, I want to buy some nice things for my wife. Something the real
thing from Paris, you know. I came over from London on purpose. But
Lord,"--again wiping his brow--"a fellow doesn't know where to _go_."

"Oh well," sighed Virginia, long-sufferingly, "I see I'll just have to
take you. There doesn't seem any way out of it. It's evident you can't
go _alone_. _Seven hundred francs_!"

"I suppose it was too much," he conceded meekly. "I tell you I _will_
be grateful if you'll just stay by me a little while. I never felt so up
against it in all my life."

"Now, a very nice thing to take one's wife from Paris," began Virginia
didactically, when they reached the sidewalk, "is lace."

"L--ace? Um! Y--es, I suppose lace is all right. Still it never struck
me there was anything so very _lively_ looking about lace."

"'Lively looking' is not the final word in wearing apparel," pronounced
Virginia in teacher-to-pupil manner. "Lace is always in good taste,
never goes out of style, and all women care for it. I will take you to
one of the lace shops."

"Very well," acquiesced he, truly chastened. "Here, let's get in this
cab."

Virginia rode across the Seine looking like one pondering the destinies
of nations. Her companion turned several times to address her, but it
would have been as easy for a soldier to slap a general on the back.
Finally she turned to him.

"Now when we get there," she instructed, "don't seem at all interested
in things. Act--oh, bored, you know, and seeming to want to get me away.
And when they tell the price, no matter what they say, just--well
sort of groan and hold your head and act as though you are absolutely
overcome at the thought of such an outrage."

"U--m. You have to do that here to get--lace?"

"You have to do that here to get _anything_---at the price you should
get it. You, and people who go shopping the way you do, bring discredit
upon the entire American nation."

"That so? Sorry. Never meant to do that. All right, Young Lady, I'll do
the best I can. Never did act that way, but suppose I can, if the rest
of them do."

"Groan and hold my head," she heard him murmuring as they entered the
shop.

He proved an apt pupil. It may indeed be set down that his aptitude was
their undoing. They had no sooner entered the shop than he pulled out
his watch and uttered an exclamation of horror at the sight of the time.
Virginia could scarcely look at the lace, so insistently did he keep
waving the watch before her. His contempt for everything shown was open
and emphatic. It was also articulate. Virginia grew nervous, seeing the
real red showing through in the Frenchwoman's cheeks. And when the price
was at last named--a price which made Virginia jubilant--there burst
upon her outraged ears something between a jeer and a howl of rage, the
whole of it terrifyingly done in the form of a groan; she looked at
her companion to see him holding up his hands and wobbling his head as
though it had been suddenly loosened from his spine, cast one look at
the Frenchwoman--then fled, followed by her groaning compatriot.

"I didn't mean you to act like _that_!" she stormed.

"Why, I did just what you told me to! Seemed to me I was following
directions to the letter. Don't think for a minute _I'm_ going to bring
discredit on the American nation! Not a bad scheme--taking out my watch
that way, was it?"

"Oh, beautiful _scheme_. I presume you notice, however, that we have no
lace."

They walked half a block in silence. "Now I'll take you to another
shop," she then volunteered, in a turning the other cheek fashion, "and
here please do nothing at all. Please just--sit."

"Sort of as if I was feeble-minded, eh?"

"Oh, don't _try_ to look feeble-minded," she begged, alarmed at seeming
to suggest any more parts; "just sit there--as if you were thinking of
something very far away."

"Say, Young Lady, look here; this is very nice, being put on to the
tricks of the trade, but the money end of it isn't cutting much ice,
and isn't there any way you can just _buy_ things--the way you do in
Cincinnati? Can't you get their stuff without making a comic opera out
of it?"

"No, you can't," spoke relentless Virginia; "not unless you want them to
laugh and say 'Aren't Americans fools?' the minute the door is shut."

"Fools--eh? I'll show them a thing or two!"

"Oh, please show them nothing here! Please just--sit."

While employing her wiles to get for three hundred and fifty francs
a yoke and scarf aggregating four hundred, she chanced to look at her
American friend. Then she walked rapidly to the rear of the shop,
buried her face in her handkerchief, and seemed making heroic efforts
to sneeze. Once more he was following directions to the letter. Chin
resting on hands, hands resting on stick, the huge American had taken
on the beatific expression of a seventeen-year-old girl thinking of
something "very far away." Virginia was long in mastering the sneeze.

On the sidewalk she presented him with the package of lace and also with
what she regarded the proper thing in the way of farewell speech. She
supposed it _was_ hard for a man to go shopping alone; she could see how
hard it would be for her own father; indeed it was seeing how difficult
it would be for her father had impelled her to go with him, a stranger.
She trusted his wife would like the lace; she thought it very nice, and
a bargain. She was glad to have been of service to a fellow countryman
who seemed in so difficult a position.

But he did not look as impressed as one to whom a farewell speech was
being made should look. In fact, he did not seem to be hearing it. Once
more, and in earnest this time, he appeared to be thinking of something
very far away. Then all at once he came back, and it was in anything but
a far-away voice he began, briskly: "Now look here, Young Lady, I don't
doubt but this lace is great stuff. You say so, and I haven't seen man,
woman or child on this side of the Atlantic knows as much as you do.
I'm mighty grateful for the lace--don't you forget that, but just the
same--well, now I'll tell you. I have a very special reason for wanting
something a little livelier than lace. Something that seems to have
Paris written on it in red letters--see? Now, where do you get the
kind of hats you see some folks wearing, and where do you get the
dresses--well, it's hard to describe 'em, but the kind they have in
pictures marked 'Breezes from Paris'? You see--_S-ay!_--_what_ do you
think of _that?_"

"That" was in a window across the street. It was an opera cloak. He
walked toward it, Virginia following. "Now _there_," he turned to her,
his large round face all aglow, "is what I want."

It was yellow; it was long; it was billowy; it was insistently and
recklessly regal.

"That's the ticket!" he gloated.

"Of course," began Virginia, "I don't know anything about it. I am in a
very strange position, not knowing what your wife likes or--or has. This
is the kind of thing everything has to go _with_ or one wouldn't--one
couldn't--"

"Sure! Good idea. We'll just get everything to go with it."

"It's the sort of thing one doesn't see worn much outside of Paris--or
New York. If one is--now my mother wouldn't care for that coat at all."
Virginia took no little pride in that tactful finish.

"Can't sidetrack me!" he beamed. "I _want_ it. Very thing I'm after,
Young Lady."

"Well, of course you will have no difficulty in buying the coat without
me," said she, as a dignified version of "I wash my hands of you." "You
can do here as you said you wished to do, simply go in and pay what they
ask. There would be no use trying to get it cheap. They would know that
anyone who wanted it would"--she wanted to say "have more money than
they knew what to do with," but contented herself with, "be able to pay
for it."

But when she had finished she looked at him; at first she thought she
wanted to laugh, and then it seemed that wasn't what she wanted to
do after all. It was like saying to a small boy who was one beam over
finding a tin horn: "Oh well, take the horn if you want to, but you
can't haul your little red waggon while you're blowing the horn." There
seemed something peculiarly inhuman about taking the waggon just when he
had found the horn. Now if the waggon were broken, then to take away
the horn would leave the luxury of grief. But let not shadows fall upon
joyful moments.

With the full ardour of her femininity she entered into the purchasing
of the yellow opera cloak. They paid for that decorative garment the sum
of two thousand five hundred francs. It seemed it was embroidered, and
the lining was--anyway, they paid it.

And they took it with them. He was going to "take no chances on losing
it." He was leaving Paris that night and held that during his stay
he had been none too impressed with either Parisian speed or Parisian
veracity.

Then they bought some "Breezes from Paris," a dress that would "go with"
the coat. It was violet velvet, and contributed to the sense of doing
one's uttermost; and hats--"the kind you see some folks wearing." One
was the rainbow done into flowers, and the other the kind of black hat
to outdo any rainbow. "If you could just give me some idea what type
your wife is," Virginia was saying, from beneath the willow plumes. "Now
you see this hat quite overpowers me. Do you think it will overpower
her?"

"Guess not. Anyway, if it don't look right on her head she may enjoy
having it around to look at."

Virginia stared out at him. The _oddest_ man! As if a hat were any good
at all if it didn't look right on one's head!

Upon investigation--though yielding to his taste she was still vigilant
as to his interests--Virginia discovered a flaw in one of the plumes.
The sylph in the trailing gown held volubly that it did not _fait rien_;
the man with the open purse said he couldn't see that it figured much,
but the small American held firm. That must be replaced by a perfect
plume or they would not take the hat. And when she saw who was in
command the sylph as volubly acquiesced that _naturellement_ it must be
_tout a fait_ perfect. She would send out and get one that would be oh!
so, so, _so_ perfect. It would take half an hour.

"Tell you what we'll do," Virginia's friend proposed, opera cloak
tight under one arm, velvet gown as tight under the other, "I'm
tired--hungry--thirsty; feel like a ham sandwich--and something. I'm
playing you out, too. Let's go out and get a bite and come back for the
so, so, _so_ perfect hat."

She hesitated. But he had the door open, and if he stood holding it that
way much longer he was bound to drop the violet velvet gown. She did not
want him to drop the velvet gown and furthermore, she _would_ like a cup
of tea. There came into her mind a fortifying thought about the relative
deaths of sheep and lambs. If to be killed for the sheep were indeed no
worse than being killed for the lamb, and if a cup of tea went with the
sheep and nothing at all with the lamb--?

So she agreed. "There's a nice little tea-shop right round the corner.
We girls often go there."

"Tea? Like tea? All right, then"--and he started manfully on.

But as she entered the tea-shop she was filled with keen sense of
the desirableness of being slain for the lesser animal. For, cosily
installed in their favourite corner, were "the girls."

Virginia had explained to these friends some three hours before that she
could not go with them that afternoon as she must attend a musicale some
friends of her mother's were giving. Being friends of her mother's, she
expatiated, she would have to go.

Recollecting this, also for the first time remembering the musicale, she
bowed with the _hauteur_ of self-consciousness.

Right there her friend contributed to the tragedy of a sheep's death by
dropping the yellow opera cloak. While he was stooping to pick it up the
violet velvet gown slid backward and Virginia had to steady it until
he could regain position. The staring in the corner gave way to
tittering--and no dying sheep had ever held its head more haughtily.

The death of this particular sheep proved long and painful. The legs
of Virginia's friend and the legs of the tea-table did not seem well
adapted to each other. He towered like a human mountain over the dainty
thing, twisting now this way and now that. It seemed Providence--or
at least so much of it as was represented by the management of that
shop--had never meant fat people to drink tea. The table was rendered
further out of proportion by having a large box piled on either side of
it.

Expansively, and not softly, he discoursed of these things. What did
they think a fellow was to do with his _knees_? Didn't they sell tea
enough to afford any decent chairs? Did all these women pretend to
really _like_ tea?

Virginia's sense of humour rallied somewhat as she viewed him eating
the sandwiches. Once she had called them doll-baby sandwiches; now that
seemed literal: tea-cups, _petit gateau_, the whole service gave the
fancy of his sitting down to a tea-party given by a little girl for her
dollies.

But after a time he fell silent, looking around the room. And when he
broke that pause his voice was different.

"These women here, all dressed so fine, nothing to do but sit around and
eat this folderol, _they_ have it easy--don't they?"

The bitterness in it, and a faint note of wistfulness, puzzled her.
Certainly _he_ had money.

"And the husbands of these women," he went on; "lots of 'em, I suppose,
didn't always have so much. Maybe some of these women helped out in the
early days when things weren't so easy. Wonder if the men ever think how
lucky they are to be able to get it back at 'em?"

She grew more bewildered. Wasn't he "getting it back?" The money he had
been spending that day!

"Young Lady," he said abruptly, "you must think I'm a queer one."

She murmured feeble protest.

"Yes, you must. Must wonder what I want with all this stuff, don't you?"

"Why, it's for your wife, isn't it?" she asked, startled.

"Oh yes, but you must wonder. You're a shrewd one, Young Lady; judging
the thing by me, you must wonder."

Virginia was glad she was not compelled to state her theory. Loud and
common and impossible were terms which had presented themselves, terms
which she had fought with kind and good-natured and generous. Their
purchases she had decided were to be used, not for a knock, but as a
crashing pound at the door of the society of his town. For her part,
Virginia hoped the door would come down.

"And if you knew that probably this stuff would never be worn at all,
that ten to one it would never do anything more than lie round on
chairs--then you _would_ think I was queer, wouldn't you?"

She was forced to admit that that would seem rather strange.

"Young Lady, I believe I'll tell you about it. Never do talk about it
to hardly anybody, but I feel as if you and I were pretty well
acquainted--we've been through so much together."

She smiled at him warmly; there was something so real about him when he
talked that way.

But his look then frightened her. It seemed for an instant as though he
would brush the tiny table aside and seize some invisible thing by the
throat. Then he said, cutting off each word short: "Young Lady, what
do you think of this? I'm worth more 'an a million dollars--and my wife
gets up at five o'clock every morning to do washing and scrubbing."

"Oh, it's not that she _has_ to," he answered her look, "but she
_thinks_ she has to. See? Once we were poor. For twenty years we were
poor as dirt. Then she did have to do things like that. Then I struck
it. Or rather, it struck me. Oil. Oil on a bit of land I had. I had just
sense enough to make the most of it; one thing led to another--well,
you're not interested in that end of it. But the fact is that now we're
rich. Now she could have all the things that these women have--Lord
A'mighty she could lay abed every day till noon if she wanted to!
But--you see?--it _got_ her--those hard, lonely, grinding years _took_
her. She's"--he shrunk from the terrible word and faltered out--"her
mind's not--"

There was a sobbing little flutter in Virginia's throat. In a dim way
she was glad to see that the girls were going. She _could_ not have them
laughing at him--now.

"Well, you can about figure out how it makes me feel," he continued,
and looking into his face now it was as though the spirit redeemed the
flesh. "You're smart. You can see it without my callin' your attention
to it. Last time I went to see her I had just made fifty thousand on a
deal. And I found her down on her knees thinking she was scrubbing the
floor!"

Unconsciously Virginia's hand went out, following the rush of sympathy
and understanding. "But can't they--restrain her?" she murmured.

"Makes her worse. Says she's got it to do--frets her to think she's not
getting it done."

"But isn't there some _way_?" she whispered. "Some way to make her
_know_?"

He pointed to the large boxes. "That," he said simply, "is the meaning
of those. It's been seven years--but I keep on trying."

She was silent, the tears too close for words. And she had thought it
cheap ambition!--vulgar aspiration--silly show--vanity!

"Suppose you thought I was a queer one, talking about lively looking
things. But you see now? Thought it might attract her attention, thought
something real gorgeous like this might impress money on her. Though I
don't know,"--he seemed to grow weary as he told it; "I got her a lot of
diamonds, thinking they might interest her, and she thought she'd stolen
'em, and they had to take them away."

Still the girl did not speak. Her hand was shading her eyes.

"But there's nothing like trying. Nothing like keeping right on trying.
And anyhow--a fellow likes to think he's taking his wife something from
Paris."

They passed before her in their heartbreaking folly, their tragic
uselessness, their lovable absurdity and stinging irony--those
things they had bought that afternoon: an _opera cloak_--a _velvet
dress_--_those hats_--_red silk stockings_.

The mockery of them wrung her heart. Right there in the tea-shop
Virginia was softly crying.

"Oh, now that's too bad," he expostulated clumsily. "Why, look here,
Young Lady, I didn't mean you to take it so hard."

When she had recovered herself he told her much of the story. And the
thing which revealed him--glorified him--was less the grief he gave
to it than the way he saw it. "It's the cursed unfairness of it,"
he concluded. "When you consider it's all because she did those
things--when you think of her bein' bound to 'em for life just because
she was _too faithful doin' 'em_--when you think that now--when I could
give her everything these women have got!--she's got to go right on
worrying about baking the bread and washing the dishes--did it for me
when I was poor--and now with me rich she can't get _out_ of it--and
I _can't reach_ her--oh, it's _rotten!_ I tell you it's _rotten!_
Sometimes I can just hear my money _laugh_ at me! Sometimes I get to
going round and round in a circle about it till it seems I'm going crazy
myself."

"I think you are a--a noble man," choked Virginia.

That disconcerted him. "Oh Lord--don't think that. No, Young Lady, don't
try to make any plaster saint out of _me_. My life goes on. I've got to
eat, drink and be merry. I'm built that way. But just the same my heart
on the inside's pretty sore, Young Lady. I want to tell you that the
whole inside of my heart is _sore as a boil_!"

They were returning for the hats. Suddenly Virginia stopped, and it
was a soft-eyed and gentle Virginia who turned to him after the pause.
"There are lovely things to be bought in Paris for women who aren't
well. Such soft, lovely things to wear in your room. Not but what I
think these other things are all right. As you say, they may--interest
her. But they aren't things she can use just now, and wouldn't you like
her to have some of those soft lovely things she could actually wear?
They might help most of all. To wake in the morning and find herself in
something so beautiful--"

"Where do you get 'em?" he demanded promptly.

And so they went to one of those shops which have, more than all the
others, enshrined Paris in feminine hearts. And never was lingerie
selected with more loving care than that which Virginia picked out that
afternoon. A tear fell on one particularly lovely _robe de nuit_--so
soothingly soft, so caressingly luxurious, it seemed that surely it
might help bring release from the bondage of those crushing years.

As they were leaving they were given two packages. "Just the kimona
thing you liked," he said, "and a trinket or two. Now that we're such
good friends, you won't feel like you did this morning."

"And if I don't want them myself, I might send them to my mother,"
Virginia replied, a quiver in her laugh at her own little joke.

He had put her in her cab; he had tried to tell her how much he thanked
her; they had said good-bye and the _cocher_ had cracked his whip when
he came running after her. "Why, Young Lady," he called out, "we don't
know each other's _names_."

She laughed and gave hers. "Mine's William P. Johnson," he said. "Part
French and part Italian. But now look here, Young Lady--or I mean, Miss
Clayton. A fellow at the hotel was telling me something last night that
made me _sick_. He said American girls sometimes got awfully up against
it here. He said one actually starved last year. Now, I don't like that
kind of business. Look here, Young Lady, I want you to promise that if
you--you or any of your gang--get up against it you'll cable William P.
Johnson, of Cincinnati, Ohio."

The twilight grey had stolen upon Paris. And there was a mist which the
street lights only penetrated a little way--as sometimes one's knowledge
of life may only penetrate life a very little way. Her cab stopped by a
blockade, she watched the burly back of William P. Johnson disappearing
into the mist. The red box which held the yellow opera cloak she could
see longer than all else.

"You never can tell," murmured Virginia. "It just goes to show that you
never can tell."

And whatever it was you never could tell had brought to Virginia's
girlish face the tender knowingness of the face of a woman.



II

THE PLEA


Senator Harrison concluded his argument and sat down. There was no
applause, but he had expected none. Senator Dorman was already saying
"Mr. President?" and there was a stir in the crowded galleries, and an
anticipatory moving of chairs among the Senators. In the press gallery
the reporters bunched together their scattered papers and inspected
their pencil-points with earnestness. Dorman was the best speaker of
the Senate, and he was on the popular side of it. It would be the great
speech of the session, and the prospect was cheering after a deluge of
railroad and insurance bills.

"I want to tell you," he began, "why I have worked for this resolution
recommending the pardon of Alfred Williams. It is one of the great laws
of the universe that every living thing be given a chance. In the case
before us that law has been violated. This does not resolve itself into
a question of second chances. The boy of whom we are speaking has never
had his first."

Senator Harrison swung his chair half-way around and looked out at the
green things which were again coming into their own on the State-house
grounds. He knew--in substance--what Senator Dorman would say without
hearing it, and he was a little tired of the whole affair. He hoped that
one way or other they would finish it up that night, and go ahead with
something else. He had done what he could, and now the responsibility
was with the rest of them. He thought they were shouldering a great deal
to advocate the pardon in the face of the united opposition of Johnson
County, where the crime had been committed. It seemed a community
should be the best judge of its own crimes, and that was what he, as the
Senator from Johnson, had tried to impress upon them.

He knew that his argument against the boy had been a strong one. He
rather liked the attitude in which he stood. It seemed as if he were
the incarnation of outraged justice attempting to hold its own at the
floodgates of emotion. He liked to think he was looking far beyond the
present and the specific and acting as guardian of the future--and the
whole. In summing it up that night the reporters would tell in highly
wrought fashion of the moving appeal made by Senator Dorman, and then
they would speak dispassionately of the logical argument of the leader
of the opposition. There was more satisfaction to self in logic than
in mere eloquence. He was even a little proud of his unpopularity. It
seemed sacrificial.

He wondered why it was Senator Dorman had thrown himself into it so
whole-heartedly. All during the session the Senator from Maxwell had
neglected personal interests in behalf of this boy, who was nothing to
him in the world. He supposed it was as a sociological and psychological
experiment. Senator Dorman had promised the Governor to assume
guardianship of the boy if he were let out. The Senator from Johnson
inferred that as a student of social science his eloquent colleague
wanted to see what he could make of him. To suppose the interest merely
personal and sympathetic would seem discreditable.

"I need not dwell upon the story," the Senator from Maxwell was saying,
"for you all are familiar with it already. It is said to have been the
most awful crime ever committed in the State. I grant you that it was,
and then I ask you to look for a minute into the conditions leading up
to it.

"When the boy was born, his mother was instituting divorce proceedings
against his father. She obtained the divorce, and remarried when Alfred
was three months old. From the time he was a mere baby she taught him
to hate his father. Everything that went wrong with him she told him was
his father's fault. His first vivid impression was that his father was
responsible for all the wrong of the universe.

"For seven years that went on, and then his mother died. His stepfather
did not want him. He was going to Missouri, and the boy would be a
useless expense and a bother. He made no attempt to find a home for him;
he did not even explain--he merely went away and left him. At the age of
seven the boy was turned out on the world, after having been taught one
thing--to hate his father. He stayed a few days in the barren house,
and then new tenants came and closed the doors against him. It may have
occurred to him as a little strange that he had been sent into a world
where there was no place for him.

"When he asked the neighbours for shelter, they told him to go to his
own father and not bother strangers. He said he did not know where his
father was. They told him, and he started to walk--a distance of fifty
miles. I ask you to bear in mind, gentlemen, that he was only seven
years of age. It is the age when the average boy is beginning the third
reader, and when he is shooting marbles and spinning tops.

"When he reached his father's house he was told at once that he was not
wanted there. The man had remarried, there were other children, and
he had no place for Alfred. He turned him away; but the neighbours
protested, and he was compelled to take him back. For four years he
lived in this home, to which he had come unbidden, and where he was
never made welcome.

"The whole family rebelled against him. The father satisfied his
resentment against the boy's dead mother by beating her son, by
encouraging his wife to abuse him, and inspiring the other children to
despise him. It seems impossible such conditions should exist. The only
proof of their possibility lies in the fact of their existence.

"I need not go into the details of the crime. He had been beaten by his
father that evening after a quarrel with his stepmother about spilling
the milk. He went, as usual, to his bed in the barn; but the hay was
suffocating, his head ached, and he could not sleep. He arose in the
middle of the night, went to the house, and killed both his father and
stepmother.

"I shall not pretend to say what thoughts surged through the boy's brain
as he lay there in the stifling hay with the hot blood pounding against
his temples. I shall not pretend to say whether he was sane or insane as
he walked to the house for the perpetration of the awful crime. I do not
even affirm it would not have happened had there been some human being
there to lay a cooling hand on his hot forehead, and say a few soothing,
loving words to take the sting from the loneliness, and ease the
suffering. I ask you to consider only one thing: he was eleven years old
at the time, and he had no friend in all the world. He knew nothing of
sympathy; he knew only injustice."

Senator Harrison was still looking out at the budding things on the
State-house grounds, but in a vague way he was following the story. He
knew when the Senator from Maxwell completed the recital of facts and
entered upon his plea. He was conscious that it was stronger than he had
anticipated--more logic and less empty exhortation. He was telling of
the boy's life in reformatory and penitentiary since the commission
of the crime,--of how he had expanded under kindness, of his mental
attainments, the letters he could write, the books he had read, the
hopes he cherished. In the twelve years he had spent there he had been
known to do no unkind nor mean thing; he responded to affection--craved
it. It was not the record of a degenerate, the Senator from Maxwell was
saying.

A great many things were passing through the mind of the Senator from
Johnson. He was trying to think who it was that wrote that book, "Put
Yourself in His Place." He had read it once, and it bothered him to
forget names. Then he was wondering why it was the philosophers had
not more to say about the incongruity of people who had never had any
trouble of their own sitting in judgment upon people who had known
nothing but trouble. He was thinking also that abstract rules did not
always fit smoothly over concrete cases, and that it was hard to make
life a matter of rules, anyway.

Next he was wondering how it would have been with the boy Alfred
Williams if he had been born in Charles Harrison's place; and then he
was working it out the other way and wondering how it would have been
with Charles Harrison had he been born in Alfred Williams's place.
He wondered whether the idea of murder would have grown in Alfred
Williams's heart had he been born to the things to which Charles
Harrison was born, and whether it would have come within the range of
possibility for Charles Harrison to murder his father if he had been
born to Alfred Williams's lot. Putting it that way, it was hard to
estimate how much of it was the boy himself, and how much the place the
world had prepared for him. And if it was the place prepared for him
more than the boy, why was the fault not more with the preparers of the
place than with the occupant of it? The whole thing was very confusing.

"This page," the Senator from Maxwell was saying, lifting the little
fellow to the desk, "is just eleven years of age, and he is within three
pounds of Alfred Williams's weight when he committed the murder. I ask
you, gentlemen, if this little fellow should be guilty of a like crime
to-night, to what extent would you, in reading of it in the morning,
charge him with the moral discernment which is the first condition of
moral responsibility? If Alfred Williams's story were this boy's story,
would you deplore that there had been no one to check the childish
passion, or would you say it was the inborn instinct of the murderer?
And suppose again this were Alfred Williams at the age of eleven, would
you not be willing to look into the future and say if he spent twelve
years in penitentiary and reformatory, in which time he developed the
qualities of useful and honourable citizenship, that the ends of justice
would then have been met, and the time at hand for the world to begin
the payment of her debt?"

Senator Harrison's eyes were fixed upon the page standing on the
opposite desk. Eleven was a younger age than he had supposed. As he
looked back upon it and recalled himself when eleven years of age--his
irresponsibility, his dependence--he was unwilling to say what would
have happened if the world had turned upon him as it had upon Alfred
Williams. At eleven his greatest grievance was that the boys at school
called him "yellow-top." He remembered throwing a rock at one of them
for doing it. He wondered if it was criminal instinct prompted the
throwing of the rock. He wondered how high the percentage of children's
crimes would go were it not for countermanding influences. It seemed the
great difference between Alfred Williams and a number of other children
of eleven had been the absence of the countermanding influence.

There came to him of a sudden a new and moving thought. Alfred Williams
had been cheated of his boyhood. The chances were he had never gone
swimming, nor to a ball game, or maybe never to a circus. It might even
be that he had never owned a dog. The Senator from Maxwell was right
when he said the boy had never been given his chance, had been defrauded
of that which has been a boy's heritage since the world itself was
young.

And the later years--how were they making it up to him? He recalled
what to him was the most awful thing he had ever heard about the State
penitentiary: they never saw the sun rise down there, and they never saw
it set. They saw it at its meridian, when it climbed above the stockade,
but as it rose into the day, and as it sank into the night, it was
denied them. And there, at the penitentiary, they could not even look up
at the stars. It had been years since Alfred Williams raised his face
to God's heaven and knew he was part of it all. The voices of the night
could not penetrate the little cell in the heart of the mammoth stone
building where he spent his evenings over those masterpieces with which,
they said, he was more familiar than the average member of the Senate.
When he read those things Victor Hugo said of the vastness of the night,
he could only look around at the walls that enclosed him and try to
reach back over the twelve years for some satisfying conception of what
night really was.

The Senator from Johnson shuddered: they had taken from a living
creature the things of life, and all because in the crucial hour there
had been no one to say a staying word. Man had cheated him of the things
that were man's, and then shut him away from the world that was God's.
They had made for him a life barren of compensations.

There swept over the Senator a great feeling of self-pity. As
representative of Johnson County, it was he who must deny this boy the
whole great world without, the people who wanted to help him, and what
the Senator from Maxwell called "his chance." If Johnson County carried
the day, there would be something unpleasant for him to consider all the
remainder of his life. As he grew to be an older man he would think of
it more and more--what the boy would have done for himself in the world
if the Senator from Johnson had not been more logical and more powerful
than the Senator from Maxwell.

Senator Dorman was nearing the end of his argument. "In spite of the
undying prejudice of the people of Johnson County," he was saying, "I
can stand before you today and say that after an unsparing investigation
of this case I do not believe I am asking you to do anything in
violation of justice when I beg of you to give this boy his chance."

It was going to a vote at once, and the Senator from Johnson County
looked out at the budding things and wondered whether the boy down
at the penitentiary knew the Senate was considering his case that
afternoon. It was without vanity he wondered whether what he had been
trained to think of as an all-wise providence would not have preferred
that Johnson County be represented that session by a less able man.

A great hush fell over the Chamber, for ayes and noes followed almost in
alternation. After a long minute of waiting the secretary called, in a
tense voice:

"Ayes, 30; Noes, 32."

The Senator from Johnson had proven too faithful a servant of his
constituents. The boy in the penitentiary was denied his chance.

The usual things happened: some women in the galleries, who had boys
at home, cried aloud; the reporters were fighting for occupancy of the
telephone booths, and most of the Senators began the perusal of the
previous day's Journal with elaborate interest. Senator Dorman indulged
in none of these feints. A full look at his face just then told how much
of his soul had gone into the fight for the boy's chance, and the
look about his eyes was a little hard on the theory of psychological
experiment.

Senator Harrison was looking out at the budding trees, but his face too
had grown strange, and he seemed to be looking miles beyond and years
ahead. It seemed that he himself was surrendering the voices of the
night, and the comings and goings of the sun. He would never look at
them--feel them--again without remembering he was keeping one of his
fellow creatures away from them. He wondered at his own presumption
in denying any living thing participation in the universe. And all the
while there were before him visions of the boy who sat in the cramped
cell with the volume of a favourite poet before him, trying to think how
it would seem to be out under the stars.

The stillness in the Senate-Chamber was breaking; they were going ahead
with something else. It seemed to the Senator from Johnson that sun,
moon, and stars were wailing out protest for the boy who wanted to know
them better. And yet it was not sun, moon, and stars so much as the
unused swimming hole and the uncaught fish, the unattended ball game,
the never-seen circus, and, above all, the unowned dog, that brought
Senator Harrison to his feet.

They looked at him in astonishment, their faces seeming to say it would
have been in better taste for him to have remained seated just then.

"Mr. President," he said, pulling at his collar and looking straight
ahead, "I rise to move a reconsideration."

There was a gasp, a moment of supreme quiet, and then a mighty burst
of applause. To men of all parties and factions there came a single
thought. Johnson was the leading county of its Congressional district.
There was an election that fall, and Harrison was in the race. Those
eight words meant to a surety he would not go to Washington, for the
Senator from Maxwell had chosen the right word when he referred to the
prejudice of Johnson County on the Williams case as "undying." The
world throbs with such things at the moment of their doing--even though
condemning them later, and the part of the world then packed within the
Senate-Chamber shared the universal disposition.

The noise astonished Senator Harrison, and he looked around with
something like resentment. When the tumult at last subsided, and he saw
that he was expected to make a speech, he grew very red, and grasped his
chair desperately.

The reporters were back in their places, leaning nervously forward.
This was Senator Harrison's chance to say something worth putting into a
panel by itself with black lines around it--and they were sure he would
do it.

But he did not. He stood there like a schoolboy who had forgotten his
piece--growing more and more red. "I--I think," he finally jerked out,
"that some of us have been mistaken. I'm in favour now of--of giving him
his chance."

They waited for him to proceed, but after a helpless look around the
Chamber he sat down. The president of the Senate waited several minutes
for him to rise again, but he at last turned his chair around and
looked out at the green things on the State-house grounds, and there
was nothing to do but go ahead with the second calling of the roll. This
time it stood 50 to 12 in favour of the boy.

A motion to adjourn immediately followed--no one wanted to do anything
more that afternoon. They all wanted to say things to the Senator from
Johnson; but his face had grown cold, and as they were usually afraid of
him, anyhow, they kept away. All but Senator Dorman--it meant too much
with him. "Do you mind my telling you," he said, tensely, "that it was
as fine a thing as I have ever known a man to do?"

The Senator from Johnson moved impatiently. "You think it 'fine,'" he
asked, almost resentfully, "to be a coward?"

"Coward?" cried the other man. "Well, that's scarcely the word. It
was--heroic!"

"Oh no," said Senator Harrison, and he spoke wearily, "it was a clear
case of cowardice. You see," he laughed, "I was afraid it might haunt me
when I am seventy."

Senator Dorman started eagerly to speak, but the other man stopped him
and passed on. He was seeing it as his constituency would see it, and
it humiliated him. They would say he had not the courage of his
convictions, that he was afraid of the unpopularity, that his judgment
had fallen victim to the eloquence of the Senator from Maxwell.

But when he left the building and came out into the softness of the
April afternoon it began to seem different. After all, it was not he
alone who leaned to the softer side. There were the trees--they were
permitted another chance to bud; there were the birds--they were allowed
another chance to sing; there was the earth--to it was given another
chance to yield. There stole over him a tranquil sense of unison with
Life.



III

FOR LOVE OF THE HILLS


"Sure you're done with it?"

"Oh, yes," replied the girl, the suggestion of a smile on her face, and
in her voice the suggestion of a tear. "Yes; I was just going."

But she did not go. She turned instead to the end of the alcove and sat
down before a table placed by the window. Leaning her elbows upon it she
looked about her through a blur of tears.

Seen through her own eyes of longing, it seemed that almost all of the
people whom she could see standing before the files of the daily papers
were homesick. The reading-room had been a strange study to her during
those weeks spent in fruitless search for the work she wanted to do, and
it had likewise proved a strange comfort. When tired and disconsolate
and utterly sick at heart there was always one thing she could do--she
could go down to the library and look at the paper from home. It was not
that she wanted the actual news of Denver. She did not care in any vital
way what the city officials were doing, what buildings were going up, or
who was leaving town. She was only indifferently interested in the fires
and the murders. She wanted the comforting companionship of that paper
from home.

It seemed there were many to whom the papers offered that same sympathy,
companionship, whatever it might be. More than anything else it perhaps
gave to them--the searchers, drifters--a sense of anchorage. She would
not soon forget the day she herself had stumbled in there and found the
home paper. Chicago had given her nothing but rebuffs that day, and in
desperation, just because she must go somewhere, and did not want to go
back to her boarding-place, she had hunted out the city library. It was
when walking listlessly about in the big reading-room it had occurred to
her that perhaps she could find the paper from home; and after that when
things were their worst, when her throat grew tight and her eyes dim,
she could always comfort herself by saying: "After a while I'll run down
and look at the paper."

But to-night it had failed her. It was not the paper from home to-night;
it was just a newspaper. It did not inspire the belief that things would
be better to-morrow, that it must all come right soon. It left her as
she had come---heavy with the consciousness that in her purse was eleven
dollars, and that that was every cent she had in the whole world.

It was hard to hold back the tears as she dwelt upon the fact that it
was very little she had asked of Chicago. She had asked only a chance to
do the work for which she was trained, in order that she might go to the
art classes at night. She had read in the papers of that mighty young
city of the Middle West--the heart of the continent--of its brawn and
its brain and its grit. She had supposed that Chicago, of all places,
would appreciate what she wanted to do. The day she drew her hard-earned
one hundred dollars from the bank in Denver--how the sun had shone that
day in Denver, how clear the sky had been, and how bracing the air!--she
had quite taken it for granted that her future was assured. And now,
after tasting for three weeks the cruelty of indifference, she looked
back to those visions with a hard little smile.

She rose to go, and in so doing her eyes fell upon the queer little
woman to whom she had yielded her place before the Denver paper.
Submerged as she had been in her own desolation she had given no heed
to the small figure which came slipping along beside her beyond the bare
thought that she was queer-looking. But as her eyes rested upon her now
there was something about the woman which held her.

She was a strange little figure. An old-fashioned shawl was pinned
tightly about her shoulders, and she was wearing a queer, rusty little
bonnet. Her hair was rolled up in a small knot at the back of her head.
She did not look as though she belonged in Chicago. And then, as the
girl stood there looking at her, she saw the thin shoulders quiver, and
after a minute the head that was wearing the rusty bonnet went down into
the folds of the Denver paper.

The girl's own eyes filled, and she turned to go. It seemed she could
scarcely bear her own unhappiness that day, without coming close to the
heartache of another. But when she reached the end of the alcove she
glanced back, and the sight of that shabby, bent figure, all alone
before the Denver paper, was not to be withstood.

"I am from Colorado, too," she said softly, laying a hand upon the bent
shoulders.

The woman looked up at that and took the girl's hand in both of her
thin, trembling ones. It was a wan and a troubled face she lifted, and
there was something about the eyes which would not seem to have been
left there by tears alone.

"And do you have a pining for the mountains?" she whispered, with a
timid eagerness. "Do you have a feeling that you want to see the sun
go down behind them tonight and that you want to see the darkness come
stealing up to the tops?"

The girl half turned away, but she pressed the woman's hand tightly in
hers. "I know what you mean," she murmured.

"I wanted to see it so bad," continued the woman, tremulously, "that
something just drove me here to this paper. I knowed it was here because
my nephew's wife brought me here one day and we come across it. We took
this paper at home for more 'an twenty years. That's why I come. 'Twas
the closest I could get."

"I know what you mean," said the girl again, unsteadily.

"And it's the closest I will ever get!" sobbed the woman.

"Oh, don't say that," protested the girl, brushing away her own tears,
and trying to smile; "you'll go back home some day."

The woman shook her head. "And if I should," she said, "even if I
should, 'twill be too late."

"But it couldn't be too late," insisted the girl. "The mountains, you
know, will be there forever."

"The mountains will be there forever," repeated the woman, musingly;
"yes, but not for me to see." There was a pause. "You see,"--she said it
quietly--"I'm going blind."

The girl took a quick step backward, then stretched out two impulsive
hands. "Oh, no, no you're not! Why--the doctors, you know, they do
everything now."

The woman shook her head. "That's what I thought when I come here.
That's why I come. But I saw the biggest doctor of them all today--they
all say he's the best there is--and he said right out 'twas no use to do
anything. He said 'twas--hopeless."

Her voice broke on that word. "You see," she hurried on, "I wouldn't
care so much, seems like I wouldn't care 't all, if I could get there
first! If I could see the sun go down behind them just one night! If I
could see the black shadows come slippin' over 'em just once! And then,
if just one morning--just once!--I could get up and see the sunlight
come a streamin'--oh, you know how it looks! You know what 'tis I want
to see!"

"Yes; but why can't you? Why not? You won't go--your eyesight will last
until you get back home, won't it?"

"But I can't go back home; not now."

"Why not?" demanded the girl. "Why can't you go home?"

"Why, there ain't no money, my dear," she explained, patiently. "It's a
long way off--Colorado is, and there ain't no money. Now, George--George
is my brother-in-law--he got me the money to come; but you see it took
it all to come here, and to pay them doctors with. And George--he ain't
rich, and it pinched him hard for me to come--he says I'll have to wait
until he gets money laid up again, and--well he can't tell just when 't
will be. He'll send it soon as he gets it," she hastened to add.

"But what are you going to do in the meantime? It would cost less to get
you home than to keep you here."

"No, I stay with my nephew here. He's willin' I should stay with him
till I get my money to go home."

"Yes, but this nephew, can't he get you the money? Doesn't he know," she
insisted, heatedly, "what it means to you?"

"He's got five children, and not much laid up. And then, he never seen
the mountains. He doesn't know what I mean when I try to tell him about
gettin' there in time. Why, he says there's many a one living back in
the mountains would like to be livin' here. He don't understand--my
nephew don't," she added, apologetically.

"Well, _someone_ ought to understand!" broke from the girl. "I
understand! But--" she did her best to make it a laugh--"eleven dollars
is every cent I've got in the world!"

"Don't!" implored the woman, as the girl gave up trying to control the
tears. "Now, don't you be botherin'. I didn't mean to make you feel so
bad. My nephew says I ain't reasonable, and maybe I ain't."

The girl raised her head. "But you _are_ reasonable. I tell you, you
_are_ reasonable!"

"I must be going back," said the woman, uncertainly. "I'm just making
you feel bad, and it won't do no good. And then they may be stirred up
about me. Emma--Emma's my nephew's wife--left me at the doctor's office
'cause she had some trading to do, and she was to come back there for
me. And then, as I was sittin' there, the pinin' came over me so strong
it seemed I just must get up and start! And"---she smiled wanly---"this
was far as I got."

"Come over and sit down by this table," said the girl, impulsively, "and
tell me a little about your home back in the mountains. Wouldn't you
like to?"

The woman nodded gratefully. "Seems most like getting back to them to
find someone that knows about them," she said, after they had drawn
their chairs up to the table and were sitting there side by side.

The girl put her rounded hand over on the thin, withered one. "Tell me
about it," she said again.

"Maybe it wouldn't be much interesting to you, my dear. It's just a
common life--mine is. You see, William and I--William was my husband--we
went to Georgetown before it really was any town at all. Years and years
before the railroad went through, we was there. Was you ever there?" she
asked wistfully.

"Oh, very often," replied the girl. "I love every inch of that country!"

A tear stole down the woman's face. "It's most like being home to find
someone that knows about it," she whispered.

"Yes, William and I went there when 'twas all new country," she went
on, after a pause. "We worked hard, and we laid up a little money. Then,
three years ago, William took sick. He was sick for a year, and we had
to live up most of what we'd saved. That's why I ain't got none now. It
ain't that William didn't provide."

The girl nodded.

"We seen some hard days. But we was always harmonious--William and
I was. And William had a great fondness for the mountains. The night
before he died he made them take him over by the window and he looked
out and watched the darkness come stealin' over the daylight--you know
how it does in them mountains. 'Mother,' he said to me--his voice was
that low I could no more 'an hear what he said--'I'll never see another
sun go down, but I'm thankful I seen this one.'"

She was crying outright now, and the girl did not try to stop her.

"And that's the reason I love the mountains," she whispered at last. "It
ain't just that they're grand and wonderful to look at. It ain't just
the things them tourists sees to talk about. But the mountains has
always been like a comfortin' friend to me. John and Sarah is buried
there--John and Sarah is my two children that died of fever. And then
William is there--like I just told you. And the mountains was a comfort
to me in all those times of trouble. They're like an old friend. Seems
like they're the best friend I've got on earth."

"I know what you mean," said the girl, brokenly. "I know all about it."

"And you don't think I'm just notional," she asked wistfully, "in pinin'
to get back while--whilst I can look at them?"

The girl held the old hand tightly in hers with a clasp more responsive
than words.

"It ain't but I'd know they was there. I could feel they was there all
right, but"--her voice sank with the horror of it--"I'm 'fraid I might
forget just how they look!"

"Oh, but you won't," the girl assured her. "You'll remember just how
they look."

"I'm scared of it. I'm scared there might be something I'd forget. And
so I just torment myself thinkin'--'Now do I remember this? Can I
see just how that looks?' That's the way I got to thinkin' up in the
doctor's office, when he told me there was nothing to do, and I was so
worked up it seemed I must get up and start!"

"You must try not to worry about it," murmured the girl. "You'll
remember."

"Well, maybe so. Maybe I will. But that's why I want just one more look.
If I could look once more I'd remember it forever. You see I'd look to
remember it, and I would. And do you know--seems like I wouldn't mind
going blind so much then? When I'd sit facin' them I'd just say to
myself: 'Now I know just how they look. I'm seeing them just as if I had
my eyes!' The doctor says my sight'll just kind of slip away, and when I
look my last look, when it gets dimmer and dimmer to me, I want the last
thing I see to be them mountains where William and me worked and was
so happy! Seems like I can't bear it to have my sight slip away here
in Chicago, where there's nothing I want to look at! And then to have a
little left--to have just a little left!--and to know I could see if I
was there to look--and to know that when I get there 'twill be--Oh, I'll
be rebellious-like here--and I'd be contented there! I don't want to be
complainin'--I don't want to!--but when I've only got a little left I
want it--oh, I want it for them things I want to see!"

"You will see them," insisted the girl passionately. "I'm not going to
believe the world can be so hideous as that!"

"Well, maybe so," said the woman, rising. "But I don't know where 'twill
come from," she added doubtfully.

She took her back to the doctor's office and left her in the care of the
stolid Emma. "Seems most like I'd been back home," she said in parting;
and the girl promised to come and see her and talk with her about the
mountains. The woman thought that talking about them would help her to
remember just how they looked.

And then the girl returned to the library. She did not know why she
did so. In truth she scarcely knew she was going there until she found
herself sitting before that same secluded table at which she and the
woman had sat a little while before. For a long time she sat there with
her head in her hands, tears falling upon a pad of yellow paper on the
table before her.

Finally she dried her eyes, opened her purse, and counted her money. It
seemed that out of her great desire, out of her great new need, there
must be more than she had thought. But there was not, and she folded
her hands upon the two five-dollar bills and the one silver dollar and
looked hopelessly about the big room.

She had forgotten her own disappointments, her own loneliness. She was
oblivious to everything in the world now save what seemed the absolute
necessity of getting the woman back to the mountains while she had eyes
to see them.

But what could she do? Again she counted the money. She could make
herself, some way or other, get along without one of the five-dollar
bills, but five dollars would not take one very close to the mountains.
It was at that moment that she saw a man standing before the Denver
paper, and noticed that another man was waiting to take his place. The
one who was reading had a dinner pail in his hand. The clothes of the
other told that he, too, was of the world's workers. It was clear to the
girl that the man at the file was reading the paper from home; and the
man who was ready to take his place looked as if waiting for something
less impersonal than the news of the day.

The idea came upon her with such suddenness, so full born, that it made
her gasp. They--the people who came to read the Denver paper, the people
who loved the mountains and were far from them, the people who were
themselves homesick and full of longing--were the people to understand.

It took her but a minute to act. She put the silver dollar and one
five-dollar bill back in her purse. She clutched the other bill in
her left hand, picked up a pencil, and began to write. She headed the
petition: "To all who know and love the mountains," and she told the
story with the simpleness of one speaking from the heart, and the
directness of one who speaks to those sure to understand. "And so I
found her here by the Denver paper," she said, after she had stated
the tragic facts, "because it was the closest she could come to the
mountains. Her heart is not breaking because she is going blind. It is
breaking because she may never again look with seeing eyes upon those
great hills which rise up about her home. We must do it for her simply
because we would wish that, under like circumstances, someone would do
it for us. She belongs to us because we understand.

"If you can only give fifty cents, please do not hold it back because
it seems but little. Fifty cents will take her twenty miles nearer
home--twenty miles closer to the things upon which she longs that her
last seeing glance may fall."

After she had written it she rose, and, the five-dollar bill in one
hand, the sheets of yellow paper in the other, walked down the long room
to the desk at which one of the librarians sat. The girl's cheeks were
very red, her eyes shining as she poured out the story. They mingled
their tears, for the girl at the desk was herself young and far from
home, and then they walked back to the Denver paper and pinned the
sheets of yellow paper just above the file. At the bottom of the
petition the librarian wrote: "Leave your money at the desk in this
room. It will be properly attended to." The girl from Colorado then
turned over her five-dollar bill and passed out into the gathering
night.

Her heart was brimming with joy. "I can get a cheaper boarding place,"
she told herself, as she joined the home-going crowds, "and until
something else turns up I'll just look around and see if I can't get a
place in a store."

       *       *       *       *       *

One by one they had gathered around while the woman was telling the
story. "And so, if you don't mind," she said, in conclusion, "I'd like
to have you put in a little piece that I got to Denver safe, so's they
can see it. They was all so worked up about when I'd get here. Would
that cost much?" she asked timidly.

"Not a cent," said the city editor, his voice gruff with the attempt to
keep it steady.

"You might say, if it wouldn't take too much room, that I was much
pleased with the prospect of getting home before sundown to-night."

"You needn't worry but what we'll say it all," he assured her. "We'll
say a great deal more than you have any idea of."

"I'm very thankful to you," she said, as she rose to go.

They sat there for a moment in silence. "When one considers," someone
began, "that they were people who were pushed too close even to
subscribe to a daily paper--"

"When one considers," said the city editor, "that the girl who started
it had just eleven dollars to her name--" And then he, too, stopped
abruptly and there was another long moment of silence.

After that he looked around at the reporters. "Well, it's too bad you
can't all have it, when it's so big a chance, but I guess it falls
logically to Raymond. And in writing it, just remember, Raymond, that
the biggest stories are not written about wars, or about politics, or
even murders. The biggest stories are written about the things which
draw human beings closer together. And the chance to write them doesn't
come every day, or every year, or every lifetime. And I'll tell you,
boys, all of you, when it seems sometimes that the milk of human
kindness has all turned sour, just think back to the little story you
heard this afternoon."

       *       *       *       *       *

Slowly the sun slipped down behind the mountains; slowly the long
purple shadows deepened to black; and with the coming of the night there
settled over the everlasting hills, and over the soul of one who had
returned to them, that satisfying calm that men call peace.



IV

FRECKLES M'GRATH


Many visitors to the State-house made the mistake of looking upon the
Governor as the most important personage in the building. They would
walk up and down the corridors, hoping for a glimpse of some of the
leading officials, when all the while Freckles McGrath, the real
character of the Capitol, and by all odds the most illustrious person in
it, was at once accessible and affable.

Freckles McGrath was the elevator boy. In the official register his
name had gone down as William, but that was a mere concession to
the constituents to whom the official register was sent out. In the
newspapers--and he appeared with frequency in the newspapers--he was
always "Freckles," and every one from the Governor down gave him that
title, the appropriateness of which was stamped a hundred fold upon his
shrewd, jolly Irish face.

Like every one else on the State pay-roll, Freckles was keyed high
during this first week of the new session. It was a reform Legislature,
and so imbued was it with the idea of reforming that there was grave
danger of its forcing reformation upon everything in sight. It happened
that the Governor was of the same faction of the party as that dominant
in the Legislature; reform breathed through every nook and crevice of
the great building.

But high above all else in importance towered the Kelley Bill. From
the very opening of the session there was scarcely a day when some of
Freckles' passengers did not in hushed whispers mention the Kelley Bill.
From what he could pick up about the building, and what he read in the
newspapers, Freckles put together a few ideas as to what the Kelley Bill
really was. It was a great reform measure, and it was going to show the
railroads that they did not own the State. The railroads were going to
have to pay more taxes, and they were making an awful fuss about it; but
if the Kelley Bill could be put through it would be a great victory for
reform, and would make the Governor "solid" in the State.

Freckles McGrath was strong for reform. That was partly because the
snatches of speeches he heard in the Legislature were more thrilling
when for reform than when against it; it was partly because he adored
the Governor, and in no small part because he despised Mr. Ludlow.

Mr. Ludlow was a lobbyist. Some of the members of the Legislature
were Mr. Ludlow's property--or at least so Freckles inferred from
conversation overheard at his post. There had been a great deal of talk
that session about Mr. Ludlow's methods.

Freckles himself was no snob. Although he had heard Mr. Ludlow called
disgraceful, and although he firmly believed he was disgraceful, he did
not consider that any reason for not speaking to him. And so when Mr.
Ludlow got in all alone one morning, and the occasion seemed to demand
recognition of some sort, Freckles had chirped: "Good-morning!"

But the man, possibly deep in something else, simply knit together
his brows and gave no sign of having heard. After that, Henry Ludlow,
lobbyist, and Freckles McGrath, elevator boy, were enemies.

A little before noon, one day near the end of the session, a member of
the Senate and a member of the House rode down together in the elevator.

"There's no use waiting any longer," the Senator was saying as they got
in. "We're as strong now as we're going to be. It's a matter of Stacy's
vote, and that's a matter of who sees him last."

Freckles widened out his ears and gauged the elevator for very slow
running. Stacy had been written up in the papers as a wabbler on the
Kelley Bill.

"He's all right now," pursued the Senator, "but there's every chance
that Ludlow will see him before he casts his vote this afternoon, and
then--oh, I don't know!" and with a weary little flourish of his hands
the Senator stepped off.

Freckles McGrath sat wrapped in deep thought. The Kelley Bill was coming
up in the Senate that afternoon. If Senator Stacy voted for it, it would
pass. If he voted against it, it would fail. He would vote for it if he
didn't see Mr. Ludlow; he wouldn't vote for it if he did. That was the
situation, and the Governor's whole future, Freckles felt, was at stake.

The bell rang sharply, and he was vaguely conscious then that it had
been ringing before. In the next half-hour he was very busy taking down
the members of the Legislature. Strangely enough, Senator Stacy and the
Governor went down the same trip, and Freckles beamed with approbation
when, he saw them walk out of the building together.

Stacy was one of the first of the senators to return. Freckles sized him
up keenly as he stepped into the elevator, and decided that he was still
firm. But there was a look about Senator Stacy's mouth which suggested
that there was no use in being too sure of him. Freckles considered the
advisability of bursting forth and telling him how much better it would
be to stick with the reform fellows; but just as the boy got his courage
screwed up to speaking point, Senator Stacy got off.

About ten minutes later Freckles had the elevator on the ground floor,
and was sitting there reading a paper, when he heard a step that made
him prick up his ears. The next minute Mr. Ludlow turned the corner. He
was immaculately dressed, as usual, and his iron-grey moustache seemed
to stand out just a little more pompously than ever. There was a
sneering look in his eyes as he stepped into the car. It seemed to be
saying: "They thought they could beat me, did they? Oh, they're easy,
they are!"

Freckles McGrath slammed the door of the cage and started the car up. He
did not know what he was going to do, but he had an idea that he did
not want any other passenger. When half way between the basement and the
first floor, he stopped the elevator. He must have time to think. If
he took that man up to the Senate Chamber, he would simply strike
the death-blow to reform! And so he knelt and pretended to be fixing
something, and he thought fast and hard.

"Something broke?" asked an anxious voice.

Freckles looked around into Mr. Ludlow's face, and he saw that the
eminent lobbyist was nervous.

"Yes," he said calmly. "It's acting queer. Something's all out of
whack."

"Well, drop it to the basement and let me out," said Mr. Ludlow sharply.

"Can't drop it," responded Freckles. "She's stuck."

Mr. Ludlow came and looked things over, but his knowledge did not extend
to the mechanism of elevators.

"Better call someone to come and take us out," he said nervously.

Freckles straightened himself up. A glitter had come into his small grey
eyes, and red spots were burning in his freckled cheeks.

"I think she'll run now," he said.

And she did run. Never in all its history had that State-house elevator
run as it ran then. It rushed past the first and second floors like
a thing let loose, with an utter abandonment that caused the blood to
forsake the eminent lobbyist's face.

"Stop it, boy!" he cried in alarm.

"Can't!" responded Freckles, his voice thick with terror. "Running
away!" he gasped.

"Will it--fall?" whispered the lobbyist.

"I--I think so!" blubbered Freckles.

The central portion of the State-house was very high. Above that part
of the building which was in use there was a long stretch leading to
the tower. The shaft had been built clear up, though practically unused.
Past floors used for store-rooms, past floors used for nothing at
all, they went--the man's face white, the boy wailing out incoherent
supplications. And then, within ten feet of the top of the shaft, and
within a foot of the top floor of the building, the elevator came to
a rickety stop. It wabbled back and forth; it did strange and terrible
things.

"She's falling!" panted Freckles. "Climb!"

And Henry Ludlow climbed. He got the door open, and he clambered up. No
sooner had the man's feet touched the solid floor than Freckles reached
up and slammed the door of the cage. Why he did that he was not sure at
the time. Later he felt that something had warned him not to give his
prisoner's voice a full sweep down the shaft.

Henry Ludlow was far from dull. As he saw the quick but even descent of
the car, he knew that he had been tricked. He would have been more than
human had there not burst from him furious and threatening words. But
what was the use? The car was going down--down--down, and there he was,
perhaps hundreds of feet above any one else in the building--alone,
tricked, beaten!

Of course he tried the door at the head of the winding stairway, knowing
full well that it would be locked. They always kept it locked; he had
heard one of the janitors asking for the keys to take a party up just
a few days before. Perhaps he could get out on top of the building and
make signals of distress. But the door leading outside was locked also.
There he was--helpless. And below--well, below they were passing the
Kelley Bill!

He rattled the grating of the elevator shaft. He made strange, loud
noises, knowing all the while he could not make himself heard. And then
at last, alone in the State-house attic, Henry Ludlow, eminent lobbyist,
sat down on a box and nursed his fury.

Below, Freckles McGrath, the youngest champion of reform in the
building, was putting on a bold front. He laughed and he talked and he
whistled. He took people up and down with as much nonchalance as if he
did not know that up at the top of that shaft angry eyes were
straining themselves for a glimpse of the car, and terrible curses were
descending, literally, upon his stubby red head.

It was a great afternoon at the State-house. Every one thronged to the
doors of the Senate Chamber, where they were putting through the Kelley
Bill. The speeches made in behalf of the measure were brief. The great
thing now was not to make speeches; it was to reach "S" on roll-call
before a man with iron-grey hair and an iron-grey moustache could come
in and say something to the fair-haired member with the weak mouth who
sat near the rear of the chamber.

Freckles was called away just as it went to a vote. When he came back
Senator Kelley was standing out in the corridor, and a great crowd of
men were standing around slapping him on the back. The Governor himself
was standing on the steps of the Senate Chamber; his eyes were bright,
and he was smiling.

Freckles turned his car back to the basement. He wanted to be all
alone for a minute, to dwell in solitude upon the fact that it was he,
Freckles McGrath, who had won this great victory for reform. It was he,
Freckles McGrath, who had assured the Governor's future. Why, perhaps he
had that afternoon made for himself a name which would be handed down in
the histories!

Freckles was a kind little boy, and he knew that an elegant gentleman
could not find the attic any too pleasant a place in which to spend the
afternoon, go he decided to go up and get Mr. Ludlow. It took courage;
but he had won his victory and this was no time for faltering.

There was something gruesome about the long ascent. He thought of
stories he had read of lonely turrets in which men were beheaded, and
otherwise made away with. It seemed he would never come to the top, and
when at last he did it was to find two of the most awful-looking eyes
he had ever seen--eyes that looked as though furies were going to escape
from them--peering down upon him.

The sight of that car, moving smoothly and securely up to the top, and
the sight of that audacious little boy with the freckled face and the
bat-like eyes, that little boy who had played his game so well, who had
wrought such havoc, was too much for Henry Ludlow's self-control. Words
such as he had never used before, such as he would not have supposed
himself capable of using, burst from him. But Freckles stood calmly
gazing up at the infuriated lobbyist, and just as Mr. Ludlow was saying,
"I'll beat your head open, you little brat!" he calmly reversed the
handle and sent the car skimming smoothly to realms below. He was
followed by an angry yell, and then by a loud request to return, but he
heeded them not, and for some time longer the car made its usual rounds
between the basement and the legislative chambers.

In just an hour Freckles tried it again. He sent the car to within three
feet of the attic floor, and then peered through the grating, his
face tied in a knot of interrogation. The eminent lobbyist stood there
gulping down wrath and pride, knowing well enough what was expected of
him.

"Oh--all right," he muttered at last, and with that much of an
understanding Freckles sent the car up, opened the door, and Henry
Ludlow stepped in.

No word was spoken between them until the light from the floor upon
which the Senate Chamber was situated came in view. Then Freckles turned
with a polite inquiry as to where the gentleman wished to get off.

"You may take me down to the office of the Governor," said Mr. Ludlow
stonily, meaningly.

"Sure," said Freckles cheerfully. "Guess you'll find the Governor in his
office now. He's been in the Senate most of the afternoon, watching 'em
pass that Kelley Bill."

Mr. Ludlow's lips drew in tightly. He squared his shoulders, and his
silence was tremendous.

In just fifteen minutes Freckles was sent for from the executive office.

"I demand his discharge!" Mr. Ludlow was saying as the elevator boy
entered.

"It happens you're not running this building," the Governor returned
with a good deal of acidity. "Though of course," he added with dignity,
"the matter will be carefully investigated."

The Governor was one great chuckle inside, and his heart was full of
admiration and gratitude; but would Freckles be equal to bluffing it
through? Would the boy have the finesse, the nice subtlety, the real
master hand, the situation demanded? If not, then--imp of salvation
though he was--in the interest of reform, Freckles would have to go.

It was a very innocent looking boy who stood before him and looked
inquiringly into his face.

"William," began the Governor--Freckles was pained at first, and then
remembered that officially he was William--"this gentleman has made a
very serious charge against you."

Freckles looked at Mr. Ludlow in a hurt way, and waited for the Governor
to proceed.

"He says," went on the chief executive, "that you deliberately took him
to the top of the building and wilfully left him there a prisoner all
afternoon. Did you do that?"

"Oh, sir," burst forth Freckles, "I did the very best I could to save
his life! I was willing to sacrifice mine for him. I--"

"You little liar!" broke in Ludlow.

The Governor held up his hand. "You had your chance. Let him have his."

"You see, Governor," began Freckles, as if anxious to set right a great
wrong which had been done him, "the car is acting bad. The engineer said
only this morning it needed a going over. When it took that awful shoot,
I lost control of it. Maybe I'm to be discharged for losing control of
it, but not"--Freckles sniffled pathetically---"but not for anything
like what he says I done. Why Governor," he went on, ramming his
knuckles into his eyes, "I ain't got nothing against him! What'd I take
him to the attic for?"

"Of course not for money," sneered Mr. Ludlow.

The Governor turned on him sharply. "When you can bring any proof of
that, I'll be ready to hear it. Until you can, you'd better leave it out
of the question."

"Strange it should have happened this very afternoon," put in the
eminent lobbyist.

The Governor looked at him with open countenance. "You were especially
interested in something this afternoon? I thought you told me you had no
vital interest here this session."

There was nothing to be said. Mr. Ludlow said nothing.

"Now, William," pursued the Governor, fearful in his heart that this
would be Freckles' undoing, "why did you close the door of the shaft
before you started down?"

"Well, you see, sir," began Freckles, still tremulously, "I'm so used to
closin' doors. Closin' doors has become a kind of second nature with me.
I've been told about it so many times. And up there, though I thought I
was losin' my life, still I didn't neglect my duty."

The Governor put his hand to his mouth and coughed.

"And why," he went on, more secure now, for a boy who could get out
of that could get out of anything, "why was it you didn't make some
immediate effort to get Mr. Ludlow down? Why didn't you notify someone,
or do something about it?"

"Why, I supposed, of course, he walked down by the stairs," cried
Freckles. "I never dreamed he'd want to trust the elevator after the way
she had acted."

"The door was locked," snarled the eminent lobbyist.

"Well, now, you see, I didn't know that," explained Freckles
expansively. "Late in the afternoon I took a run up just to test
the car--and there you were! I never was so surprised in my life. I
supposed, of course, sir, that you'd spent the afternoon in the Senate,
along with everybody else."

Once more the Governor put his hand to his mouth.

"Your case will come before the executive council at its next meeting,
William. And if anything like this should happen again, you will be
discharged on the spot." Freckles bowed. "You may go now."

When he was almost at the door the Governor called to him.

"Don't you think, William," he said--the Governor felt that he and
Freckles could afford to be generous--"that you should apologise to the
gentleman for the really grave inconvenience to which you have been the
means of subjecting him?"

Freckles' little grey eyes grew steely. He looked at Henry Ludlow, and
there was an ominous silence. Then light broke over his face. "On behalf
of the elevator," he said, "I apologise."

And a third time the Governor's hand was raised to his mouth.

The next week Freckles was wearing a signet ring; long and audibly had
he sighed for a ring of such kind and proportions. He was at some pains
in explaining to everyone to whom he showed it that it had been sent him
by "a friend up home."



V

FROM A TO Z


Thus had another ideal tumbled to the rubbish heap! She seemed to be
breathing the dust which the newly fallen had stirred up among
its longer dead fellows. Certainly she was breathing the dust from
somewhere.

During her senior year at the university, when people would ask: "And
what are you going to do when you leave school, Miss Willard?" she would
respond with anything that came to hand, secretly hugging to her mind
that idea of getting a position in a publishing house. Her conception of
her publishing house was finished about the same time as her class-day
gown. She was to have a roll-top desk--probably of mahogany--and a big
chair which whirled round like that in the office of the under-graduate
dean. She was to have a little office all by herself, opening on
a bigger office--the little one marked "Private." There were to be
beautiful rugs--the general effect not unlike the library at the
University Club--books and pictures and cultivated gentlemen who spoke
often of Greek tragedies and the Renaissance. She was a little uncertain
as to her duties, but had a general idea about getting down between nine
and ten, reading the morning paper, cutting the latest magazine, and
then "writing something."

Commencement was now four months past, and one of her professors had
indeed secured for her a position in a Chicago "publishing house." This
was her first morning and she was standing at the window looking down
into Dearborn Street while the man who was to have her in charge was
fixing a place for her to sit.

That the publishing house should be on Dearborn Street had been her
first blow, for she had long located her publishing house on that
beautiful stretch of Michigan Avenue which overlooked the lake. But
the real insult was that this publishing house, instead of having a
building, or at least a floor, all to itself, simply had a place
penned off in a bleak, dirty building such as one who had done work in
sociological research instinctively associated with a box factory. And
the thing which fairly trailed her visions in the dust was that the
partition penning them off did not extend to the ceiling, and the
adjoining room being occupied by a patent medicine company, she was face
to face with glaring endorsements of Dr. Bunting's Famous Kidney and
Bladder Cure. Taken all in all there seemed little chance for Greek
tragedies or the Renaissance.

The man who was "running things"--she buried her phraseology with her
dreams--wore a skull cap, and his moustache dragged down below his chin.
Just at present he was engaged in noisily pulling a most unliterary pine
table from a dark corner to a place near the window. That accomplished,
an ostentatious hunt ensued, resulting in the triumphant flourish of
a feather duster. Several knocks at the table, and the dust of many
months--perhaps likewise of many dreams--ascended to a resting place
on the endorsement of Dr. Bunting's Kidney and Bladder Cure. He next
produced a short, straight-backed chair which she recognised as brother
to the one which used to stand behind their kitchen stove. He gave it a
shake, thus delicately indicating that she was receiving special favours
in this matter of an able-bodied chair, and then announced with brisk
satisfaction: "So! Now we are ready to begin." She murmured a "Thank
you," seated herself and her buried hopes in this chair which did not
whirl round, and leaned her arms upon a table which did not even dream
in mahogany.

In the _other_ publishing house, one pushed buttons and uniformed
menials appeared--noiselessly, quickly and deferentially. At this
moment a boy with sandy hair brushed straight back in a manner
either statesmanlike or clownlike--things were too involved to know
which--shuffled in with an armful of yellow paper which he flopped down
on the pine table. After a minute he returned with a warbled "Take Me
Back to New York Town" and a paste-pot. And upon his third appearance he
was practising gymnastics with a huge pair of shears, which he finally
presented, grinningly.

There was a long pause, broken only by the sonorous voice of Dr. Bunting
upbraiding someone for not having billed out that stuff to Apple Grove,
and then the sandy-haired boy appeared bearing a large dictionary,
followed by the man in the skull cap behind a dictionary of equal
unwieldiness. These were set down on either side of the yellow paper,
and he who was filling the position of cultivated gentleman pulled up a
chair, briskly.

"Has Professor Lee explained to you the nature of our work?" he wanted
to know.

"No," she replied, half grimly, a little humourously, and not far from
tearfully, "he didn't--explain."

"Then it is my pleasure to inform you," he began, blinking at her
importantly, "that we are engaged here in the making of a dictionary."

"A _dic--?_" but she swallowed the gasp in the laugh coming up to meet
it, and of their union was born a saving cough.

"Quite an overpowering thought, is it not?" he agreed pleasantly. "Now
you see you have before you the two dictionaries you will use most, and
over in that case you will find other references. The main thing"--his
voice sank to an impressive whisper--"is _not_ to infringe the
copyright. The publisher was in yesterday and made a little talk to the
force, and he said that any one who handed in a piece of copy infringing
the copyright simply employed that means of writing his own resignation.
Neat way of putting it, was it not?"

"Yes, _wasn't_ it--neat?" she agreed, wildly.

She was conscious of a man's having stepped in behind her and taken a
seat at the table next hers. She heard him opening his dictionaries and
getting out his paper. Then the man in the skull cap had risen and
was saying genially: "Well, here is a piece of old Webster, your first
'take'--no copyright on this, you see, but you must modernise
and expand. Don't miss any of the good words in either of these
dictionaries. Here you have dictionaries, copy-paper, paste, and
Professor Lee assures me you have brains--all the necessary ingredients
for successful lexicography. We are to have some rules printed
to-morrow, and in the meantime I trust I've made myself clear. The main
thing"--he bent down and spoke it solemnly--"is _not_ to infringe the
copyright." With a cheerful nod he was gone, and she heard him saying to
the man at the next table: "Mr. Clifford, I shall have to ask you to be
more careful about getting in promptly at eight."

She removed the cover from her paste-pot and dabbled a little on a piece
of paper. Then she tried the unwieldy shears on another piece of paper.
She then opened one of her dictionaries and read studiously for fifteen
minutes. That accomplished, she opened the other dictionary and pursued
it for twelve minutes. Then she took the column of "old Webster," which
had been handed her pasted on a piece of yellow paper, and set about
attempting to commit it to memory. She looked up to be met with the
statement that Mrs. Marjory Van Luce De Vane, after spending years under
the so-called best surgeons of the country, had been cured in six
weeks by Dr. Bunting's Famous Kidney and Bladder Cure. She pushed the
dictionaries petulantly from her, and leaning her very red cheek
upon her hand, her hazel eyes blurred with tears of perplexity and
resentment, her mouth drawn in pathetic little lines of uncertainty,
looked over at the sprawling warehouse on the opposite side of Dearborn
Street. She was just considering the direct manner of writing one's
resignation--not knowing how to infringe the copyright--when a voice
said: "I beg pardon, but I wonder if I can help you any?"

She had never heard a voice like that before. Or, _had_ she heard
it?--and where? She looked at him, a long, startled gaze. Something made
her think of the voice the prince used to have in long-ago dreams. She
looked into a face that was dark and thin and--different. Two very
dark eyes were looking at her kindly, and a mouth which was a baffling
combination of things to be loved and things to be deplored was
twitching a little, as though it would like to join the eyes in a smile,
if it dared.

Because he saw both how funny and how hard it was, she liked him. It
would have been quite different had he seen either one without the
other.

"You can tell me how _not_ to infringe the copyright," she laughed. "I'm
not sure that I know what a copyright is."

He laughed--a laugh which belonged with his voice. "Mr. Littletree isn't
as lucid as he thinks he is. I've been here a week or so, and picked up
a few things you might like to know."

He pulled his chair closer to her table then and gave her a lesson in
the making of copy. Edna Willard was never one-half so attractive as
when absorbed in a thing which someone was showing her how to do. Her
hazel eyes would widen and glisten with the joy of comprehending; her
cheeks would flush a deeper pink with the coming of new light, her mouth
would part in a child-like way it had forgotten to outgrow, her head
would nod gleefully in token that she understood, and she had a way
of pulling at her wavy hair and making it more wavy than it had been
before. The man at the next table was a long time in explaining the
making of a dictionary. He spoke in low tones, often looking at the
figure of the man in the skull cap, who was sitting with his back to
them, looking over copy. Once she cried, excitedly: "Oh--I _see_!" and
he warned, "S--h!" explaining, "Let him think you got it all from him.
It will give you a better stand-in." She nodded, appreciatively, and
felt very well acquainted with this kind man whose voice made her think
of something--called to something--she did not just know what.

After that she became so absorbed in lexicography that when the men
began putting away their things it was hard to realise that the morning
had gone. It was a new and difficult game, the evasion of the copyright
furnishing the stimulus of a hazard.

The man at the next table had been watching her with an amused
admiration. Her child-like absorption, the way every emotion from
perplexity to satisfaction expressed itself in the poise of her head and
the pucker of her face, took him back over years emotionally barren to
the time when he too had those easily stirred enthusiasms of youth. For
the man at the next table was far from young now. His mouth had never
quite parted with boyishness, but there was more white than black in his
hair, and the lines about his mouth told that time, as well as forces
more aging than time, had laid heavy hand upon him. But when he looked
at the girl and told her with a smile that it was time to stop work,
it was a smile and a voice to defy the most tell-tale face in all the
world.

During her luncheon, as she watched the strange people coming and going,
she did much wondering. She wondered why it was that so many of the men
at the dictionary place were very old men; she wondered if it would be a
good dictionary--one that would be used in the schools; she wondered if
Dr. Bunting had made a great deal of money, and most of all she wondered
about the man at the next table whose voice was like--like a dream which
she did not know that she had dreamed.

When she had returned to the straggling old building, had stumbled down
the narrow, dark hall and opened the door of the big bleak room, she saw
that the man at the next table was the only one who had returned from
luncheon. Something in his profile made her stand there very still. He
had not heard her come in, and he was looking straight ahead, eyes
half closed, mouth set--no unsurrendered boyishness there now. Wholly
unconsciously she took an impulsive step forward. But she stopped, for
she saw, and felt without really understanding, that it was not just
the moment's pain, but the revealed pain of years. Just then he began
to cough, and it seemed the cough, too, was more than of the moment. And
then he turned and saw her, and smiled, and the smile changed all.

As the afternoon wore on the man stopped working and turning a little in
his chair sat there covertly watching the girl. She was just typically
girl. It was written that she had spent her days in the happy ways of
healthful girlhood. He supposed that a great many young fellows had
fallen in love with her--nice, clean young fellows, the kind she would
naturally meet. And then his eyes closed for a minute and he put up his
hand and brushed back his hair; there was weariness, weariness weary of
itself, in the gesture. He looked about the room and scanned the faces
of the men, most of them older than he, many of them men whose histories
were well known to him. They were the usual hangers on about newspaper
offices; men who, for one reason or other--age, dissipation, antiquated
methods--had been pitched over, men for whom such work as this came as
a godsend. They were the men of yesterday--men whom the world had rushed
past. She was the only one there, this girl who would probably sit here
beside him for many months, with whom the future had anything to do.
Youth!--Goodness!--Joy!--Hope!--strange things to bring to a place
like this. And as if their alienism disturbed him, he moved restlessly,
almost resentfully, bit his lips nervously, moistened them, and began
putting away his things.

As the girl was starting home along Dearborn Street a few minutes later,
she chanced to look in a window. She saw that it was a saloon, but
before she could turn away she saw a man with a white face--white with
the peculiar whiteness of a dark face, standing before the bar drinking
from a small glass. She stood still, arrested by a look such as she had
never seen before: a panting human soul sobbingly fluttering down into
something from which it had spent all its force in trying to rise.
When she recalled herself and passed on, a mist which she could neither
account for nor banish was dimming the clear hazel of her eyes.

The next day was a hard one at the dictionary place. She told herself
it was because the novelty of it was wearing away, because her fingers
ached, because it tired her back to sit in that horrid chair. She did
not admit of any connection between her flagging interest and the fact
that the place at the next table was vacant.

The following day he was still absent. She assumed that it was
nervousness occasioned by her queer surroundings made her look around
whenever she heard a step behind her. Where was he? Where had that look
carried him? If he were in trouble, was there no one to help him?

The third day she did an unpremeditated thing. The man in the skull cap
had been showing her something about the copy. As he was leaving, she
asked: "Is the man who sits at the next table coming back?"

"Oh yes," he replied grimly, "he'll be back."

"Because," she went on, "if he wasn't, I thought I would take his
shears. These hurt my fingers."

He made the exchange for her--and after that things went better.

He did return late the next morning. After he had taken his place
he looked over at her and smiled. He looked sick and shaken--as if
something that knew no mercy had taken hold of him and wrung body and
soul.

"You have been ill?" she asked, with timid solicitude.

"Oh no," he replied, rather shortly.

He was quiet all that day, but the next day they talked about the work,
laughed together over funny definitions they found. She felt that he
could tell many interesting things about himself, if he cared to.

As the days went on he did tell some of those things--out of the way
places where he had worked, queer people whom he had known. It seemed
that words came to him as gifts, came freely, happily, pleased, perhaps,
to be borne by so sympathetic a voice. And there was another thing about
him. He seemed always to know just what she was trying to say; he never
missed the unexpressed. That made it easy to say things to him; there
seemed a certain at-homeness between his thought and hers. She accounted
for her interest in him by telling herself she had never known any one
like that before. Now Harold, the boy whom she knew best out at
the university, why one had to _say_ things to Harold to make him
understand! And Harold never left one wondering--wondering what he had
meant by that smile, what he had been going to say when he started to
say something and stopped, wondering what it was about his face that one
could not understand. Harold never could claim as his the hour after
he had left her, and was one ever close to anyone with whom one did not
spend some of the hours of absence? She began to see that hours spent
together when apart were the most intimate hours of all.

And as Harold did not make one wonder, so he did not make one worry.
Never in all her life had there been a lump in her throat when she
thought of Harold. There was often a lump in her throat when the man at
the next table was coughing.

One day, she had been there about two months, she said something to him
about it. It was hard; it seemed forcing one's way into a room that had
never been opened to one--there were several doors he kept closed.

"Mr. Clifford," she turned to him impetuously as they were putting away
their things that night, "will you mind if I say something to you?"

He was covering his paste-pot. He looked up at her strangely. The
closed door seemed to open a little way. "I can't conceive of 'minding'
anything you might say to me, Miss Noah,"--he had called her Miss Noah
ever since she, by mistake, had one day called him Mr. Webster.

"You see," she hurried on, very timid, now that the door had opened a
little, "you have been so good to me. Because you have been so good to
me it seems that I have some right to--to--"

His head was resting upon his hand, and he leaned a little closer as
though listening for something he wanted to hear.

"I had a cousin who had a cough like yours,"--brave now that she could
not go back--"and he went down to New Mexico and stayed for a year, and
when he came back--when he came back he was as well as any of us. It
seems so foolish not to"--her voice broke, now that it had so valiantly
carried it--"not to--"

He looked at her, and that was all. But she was never wholly the same
again after that look. It enveloped her being in a something which left
her richer--different. It was a look to light the dark place between two
human souls. It seemed for the moment that words would follow it, but
as if feeling their helplessness--perhaps needlessness--they sank back
unuttered, and at the last he got up, abruptly, and walked away.

One night, while waiting for the elevator, she heard two of the men
talking about him. When she went out on the street it was with head
high, cheeks hot. For nothing is so hard to hear as that which one has
half known, and evaded. One never denies so hotly as in denying to one's
self what one fears is true, and one never resents so bitterly as in
resenting that which one cannot say one has the right to resent.

That night she lay in her bed with wide open eyes, going over and over
the things they had said. "_Cure?_"--one of them had scoffed, after
telling how brilliant he had been before he "went to pieces"--"why all
the cures on earth couldn't help him! He can go just so far, and then
he can no more stop himself--oh, about as much as an ant could stop a
prairie fire!"

She finally turned over on her pillow and sobbed; and she wondered
why--wondered, yet knew.

But it resulted in the flowering of her tenderness for him. Interest
mounted to defiance. It ended in blind, passionate desire to "make it
up" to him. And again he was so different from Harold; Harold did not
impress himself upon one by upsetting all one's preconceived ideas.

She felt now that she understood better--understood the closed doors. He
was--she could think of no better word than sensitive.

And that is why, several mornings later, she very courageously--for
it did take courage--threw this little note over on his desk--they
had formed a habit of writing notes to each other, sometimes about the
words, sometimes about other things.

"IN-VI-TA-TION, _n._ That which Miss Noah extends to Mr. Webster for
Friday evening, December second, at the house where she lives--hasn't
she already told him where that is? It is the wish of Miss Noah to
present Mr. Webster to various other Miss Noahs, all of whom are
desirous of making his acquaintance."

She was absurdly nervous at luncheon that day, and kept telling herself
with severity not to act like a high-school girl. He was late in
returning that noon, and though there seemed a new something in his
voice when he asked if he hadn't better sharpen her pencils, he said
nothing about her new definition of invitation. It was almost five
o'clock when he threw this over on her desk:

"AP-PRE-CI-A-TION, _n._ That sentiment inspired in Mr. Webster by the
kind invitation of Miss Noah for Friday evening.

"RE-GRET, _n._ That which Mr. Webster experiences because, for reasons
into which he cannot go in detail, it is impossible for him to accept
Miss Noah's invitation.

"RE-SENT-MENT, _n._ That which is inspired in Mr. Webster by the
insinuation that there are other Miss Noahs in the world."

Then below he had written: "Three hours later. Miss Noah, the world is
queer. Some day you may find out--though I hope you never will--that it
is frequently the things we most want to do that we must leave undone.
Miss Noah, won't you go on bringing me as much of yourself as you can
to Dearborn Street, and try not to think much about my not being able
to know the Miss Noah of Hyde Park? And little Miss Noah--I thank you.
There aren't words enough in this old book of ours to tell you how
much--or why."

That night he hurried away with never a joke about how many words she
had written that day. She did not look up as he stood there putting on
his coat.

It was spring now, and the dictionary staff had begun on W.

They had written of Joy, of Hope and Life and Love, and many other
things. Life seemed pressing just behind some of those definitions,
pressing the harder, perhaps, because it could not break through the
surface.

For it did not break through; it flooded just beneath.

How did she know that he cared for her? She could not possibly have
told. Perhaps the nearest to actual proof she could bring was that he
always saw that her overshoes were put in a warm place. And when one
came down to facts, the putting of a girl's rubbers near the radiator
did not necessarily mean love.

Perhaps then it was because there was no proof of it that she was most
sure. For some of the most sure things in the world are things which
cannot be proved.

It was only that they worked together and were friends; that they
laughed together over funny definitions they found, that he was kind to
her, and that they seemed remarkably close together.

That is as far as facts can take it.

And just there--it begins.

For the force which rushes beneath the facts of life, caring nothing for
conditions, not asking what one desires or what one thinks best, caring
as little about a past as about a future--save its own future--the force
which can laugh at man's institutions and batter over in one sweep what
he likes to call his wisdom, was sweeping them on. And because it could
get no other recognition it forced its way into the moments when he
asked her for an eraser, when she wanted to know how to spell a word.
He could not so much as ask her if she needed more copy-paper without
seeming to be lavishing upon her all the love of all the ages.

And so the winter had worn on, and there was really nothing whatever to
tell about it.

She was quiet this morning, and kept her head bent low over her work.
For she had estimated the number of pages there were between W and Z.
Soon they would be at Z;--and then? Then? Shyly she turned and looked
at him; he too was bent over his work. When she came in she had said
something about its being spring, and that there must be wild flowers in
the woods. Since then he had not looked up.

Suddenly it came to her--tenderly, hotly, fearfully yet bravely, that it
was she who must meet Z. She looked at him again, covertly. And she
felt that she understood. It was the lines in his face made it clearest.
Years, and things blacker, less easily surmounted than years--oh yes,
that too she faced fearlessly--were piled in between. She knew now that
it was she--not he--who could push them aside.

It was all very unmaidenly, of course; but maidenly is a word love and
life and desire may crowd from the page.

Perhaps she would not have thrown it after all--the little note she had
written--had it not been that when she went over for more copy-paper she
stood for a minute looking out the window. Even on Dearborn Street the
seductiveness of spring was in the air. Spring, and all that spring
meant, filled her.

Because, way beyond the voice of Dr. Bunting she heard the songs of
far-away birds, and because beneath the rumble of a printing press she
could get the babble of a brook, because Z was near and life was strong,
the woman vanquished the girl, and she threw this over to his desk:

"CHAFING-DISH, n. That out of which Miss Noah asks Mr. Webster to eat
his Sunday night lunch tomorrow. All the other Miss Noahs are going to
be away, and if Mr. Webster does not come, Miss Noah will be all alone.
Miss Noah does not like to be lonely."

She ate no lunch that day; she only drank a cup of coffee and walked
around.

He did not come back that afternoon. It passed from one to two, from two
to three, and then very slowly from three to four, and still he had not
come.

He too was walking about. He had walked down to the lake and was
standing there looking out across it.

Why not?--he was saying to himself--fiercely, doggedly. Over and over
again--Well, _why_ not?

A hundred nights, alone in his room, he had gone over it. Had not life
used him hard enough to give him a little now?--longing had pleaded.
And now there was a new voice--more prevailing voice--the voice of her
happiness. His face softened to an almost maternal tenderness as he
listened to that voice.

Too worn to fight any longer, he gave himself up to it, and sat there
dreaming. They were dreams of joy rushing in after lonely years, dreams
of stepping into the sunlight after long days in fog and cold, dreams
of a woman before a fireplace--her arms about him, her cheer and her
tenderness, her comradeship and her passion--all his to take! Ah, dreams
which even thoughts must not touch--so wonderful and sacred they were.

A long time he sat there, dreaming dreams and seeing visions. The force
that rules the race was telling him that the one crime was the denial
of happiness--his happiness, her happiness; and when at last his fight
seemed but a puerile fight against forces worlds mightier than he, he
rose, and as one who sees a great light, started back toward Dearborn
Street.

On the way he began to cough. The coughing was violent, and he stepped
into a doorway to gain breath. And after he had gone in there he
realised that it was the building of Chicago's greatest newspaper.

He had been city editor of that paper once. Facts, the things he knew
about himself, talked to him then. There was no answer.

It left him weak and dizzy and crazy for a drink. He walked on slowly,
unsteadily, his white face set. For he had vowed that if it took the
last nerve in his body there should be no more of that until after they
had finished with Z. He knew himself too well to vow more. He was not
even sure of that.

He did not turn in where he wanted to go, but resistance took the last
bit of force that was in him. He was trembling like a sick man when he
stepped into the elevator.

She was just leaving. She was in the little cloak room putting on her
things. She was all alone in there.

He stepped in. He pushed the door shut, and stood there leaning against
it, looking at her, saying nothing.

"Oh--you are ill?" she gasped, and laid a frightened hand upon him.

The touch crazed him. All resistance gone, he swept her into his arms;
he held her fiercely, and between sobs kissed her again and again. He
could not let her go. He frightened her. He hurt her. And he did not
care--he did not know.

Then he held her off and looked at her. And as he looked into her eyes,
passion melted to tenderness. It was she now--not he; love--not
hunger. Holding her face in his two hands, looking at her as if getting
something to take away, his white lips murmured words too inarticulate
for her to hear. And then again he put his arms around her--all
differently. Reverently, sobbingly, he kissed her hair. And then he was
gone.

He did not come out that Sunday afternoon, but Harold dropped in
instead, and talked of some athletic affairs over at the university. She
wondered why she did not go crazy in listening to him, and yet she could
answer intelligently. It was queer--what one _could_ do.

They had come at last to Z. There would be no more work upon the
dictionary after that day. And it was raining--raining as in Chicago
alone it knows how to rain.

They wrote no notes to each other now. It had been different since that
day. They made small effort to cover their raw souls with the mantle of
commonplace words.

Both of them had tried to stay away that last day. But both were in
their usual places.

The day wore on eventlessly. Those men with whom she had worked, the
men of yesterday, who had been kind to her, came up at various times for
little farewell chats. The man in the skull cap told her that she had
done excellent work. She was surprised at the ease with which she could
make decent reply, thinking again that it was queer--what one could do.

He was moving. She saw him lay some sheets of yellow paper on the desk
in front. He had finished with his "take." There would not be another to
give him. He would go now.

He came back to his desk. She could hear him putting away his things.
And then for a long time there was no sound. She knew that he was just
sitting there in his chair.

Then she heard him get up. She heard him push his chair up to the table,
and then for a minute he stood there. She wanted to turn toward him; she
wanted to say something--do something. But she had no power.

She saw him lay an envelope upon her desk. She heard him walking away.
She knew, numbly, that his footsteps were not steady. She knew that he
had stopped; she was sure that he was looking back. But still she had no
power.

And then she heard him go.

Even then she went on with her work; she finished her "take" and
laid down her pencil. It was finished now--and he had gone.
Finished?--_Gone?_ She was tearing open the envelope of the letter.

This was what she read:

"Little dictionary sprite, sunshine vender, and girl to be loved, if I
were a free man I would say to you--Come, little one, and let us learn
of love. Let us learn of it, not as one learns from dictionaries, but
let us learn from the morning glow and the evening shades. But Miss
Noah, maker of dictionaries and creeper into hearts, the bound must not
call to the free. They might fittingly have used my name as one of the
synonyms under that word Failure, but I trust not under Coward.

"And now, you funny little Miss Noah from the University of Chicago,
don't I know that your heart is blazing forth the assurance that
you don't _care_ for any of those things--the world, people, common
sense--that you want just love? They made a grand failure of you out at
your university; they taught you philosophy and they taught you Greek,
and they've left you just as much the woman as women were five thousand
years ago. Oh, I know all about you--you little girl whose hair tried
so hard to be red. Your soul touched mine as we sat there writing
words--words--words, the very words in which men try to tell things, and
can't--and I know all about what you would do. But you shall not do
it. Dear little copy maker, would a man standing out on the end of a
slippery plank have any right to cry to someone on the shore--'Come out
here on this plank with me?' If he loved the someone on the shore,
would he not say instead--'Don't get on this plank?' Me get off the
plank--come with you to the shore--you are saying? But you see, dear,
you only know slippery planks as viewed from the shore--God grant you
may never know them any other way!

"It was you, was it not, who wrote our definition of happiness? Yes, I
remember the day you did it. You were so interested; your cheeks grew so
very red, and you pulled and pulled at your wavy hair. You said it was
such an important definition. And so it is, Miss Noah, quite the most
important of all. And on the page of life, Miss Noah, may happiness be
written large and unblurred for you. It is because I cannot help you
write it that I turn away. I want at least to leave the page unspoiled.

"I carry a picture of you. I shall carry it always. You are sitting
before a fireplace, and I think of that fireplace as symbolising the
warmth and care and tenderness and the safety that will surround you.
And sometimes as you sit there let a thought of me come for just a
minute, Miss Noah--not long enough nor deep enough to bring you any
pain. But only think--I brought him happiness after he believed all
happiness had gone. He was so grateful for that light which came after
he thought the darkness had settled down. It will light his way to the
end.

"We've come to Z, and it's good-bye. There is one thing I can give you
without hurting you,--the hope, the prayer, that life may be very, very
good to you."

The sheets of paper fell from her hands. She sat staring out into
Dearborn Street. She began to see. After all, he had not understood her.
Perhaps men never understood women; certainly he had not understood
her. What he did not know was that she was willing to _pay_ for her
happiness--_pay_--pay any price that might be exacted. And anyway--she
had no choice. Strange that he could not see that! Strange that he could
not see the irony and cruelty of bidding her good-bye and then telling
her to be happy!

It simplified itself to such an extent that she _grew_ very calm. It
would be easy to find him, easy to make him see--for it was so very
simple--and then....

She turned in her copy. She said good-bye quietly, naturally, rode down
in the lumbering old elevator and started out into the now drenching
rain toward the elevated trains which would take her to the West Side;
it was so fortunate that she had heard him telling one day where he
lived.

When she reached the station she saw that more people were coming down
the stairs than were going up. They were saying things about the trains,
but she did not heed them. But at the top of the stairs a man in uniform
said: "Blockade, Miss. You'll have to take the surface cars."

She was sorry, for it would delay her, and there was not a minute to
lose. She was dismayed, upon reaching the surface cars, to find she
could not get near them; the rain, the blockade on the "L" had caused
a great crowd to congregate there. She waited a long time, getting more
and more wet, but it was impossible to get near the cars. She thought
of a cab, but could see none, they too having all been pressed into
service.

She determined, desperately, to start and walk. Soon she would surely
get either a cab or a car. And so she started, staunchly, though she was
wet through now, and trembling with cold and nervousness.

As she hurried through the driving rain she faced things fearlessly. Oh
yes, she understood--everything. But if he were not well--should he not
have her with him? If he had that thing to fight, did he not need her
help? What did men think women were like? Did he think she was one to
sit down and reason out what would be advantageous? Better a little
while with him on a slippery plank than forever safe and desolate upon
the shore!

She never questioned her going; were not life and love too great to be
lost through that which could be so easily put right?

The buildings were reeling, the streets moving up and down--that
awful rain, she thought, was making her dizzy. Labouriously she walked
on--more slowly, less steadily, a pain in her side, that awful reeling
in her head.

Carriages returning to the city were passing her, but she had not
strength to call to them, and it seemed if she walked to the curbing she
would fall. She was not thinking so clearly now. The thing which took
all of her force was the lifting of her feet and the putting them
down in the right place. Her throat seemed to be closing up--and her
side--and her head....

Someone had her by the arm. Then someone was speaking her name; speaking
it in surprise--consternation--alarm.

It was Harold.

It was all vague then. She knew that she was in a carriage, and
that Harold was talking to her kindly. "You're taking me there?" she
murmured.

"Yes--yes, Edna, everything's all right," he replied soothingly.

"Everything's all right," she repeated, in a whisper, and leaned her
head back against the cushions.

They stopped after a while, and Harold was standing at the open door
of the cab with something steaming hot which he told her to drink. "You
need it," he said decisively, and thinking it would help her to tell it,
she drank it down.

The world was a little more defined after that, and she saw things which
puzzled her. "Why, it looks like the city," she whispered, her throat
too sore now to speak aloud.

"Why sure," he replied banteringly; "don't you know we have to go
through the city to get out to the South Side?"

"Oh, but you see," she cried, holding her throat, "but you see, it's the
_other_ way!"

"Not to-night," he insisted; "the place for you to-night is home. I'm
taking you where you belong."

She reached over wildly, trying to open the door, but he held her back;
she began to cry, and he talked to her, gently but unbendingly. "But you
don't _understand!_" she whispered, passionately. "I've _got_ to go!"

"Not to-night," he said again, and something in the way he said it made
her finally huddle back in the corner of the carriage.

Block after block, mile after mile, they rode on in silence. She felt
overpowered. And with submission she knew that it was Z. For the
whole city was piled in between. Great buildings were in between, and
thousands of men running to and fro on the streets; man, and all man
had builded up, were in between. And then Harold--Harold who had always
seemed to count for so little, had come and taken her away.

Dully, wretchedly--knowing that her heart would ache far worse to-morrow
than it did to-night--she wondered about things. Did things like rain
and street-cars and wet feet and a sore throat determine life? Was it
that way with other people, too? Did other people have barriers--whole
cities full of them--piled in between? And then did the Harolds come and
take them where they said they belonged? Were there not _some_ people
strong enough to go where they wanted to go?



VI

THE MAN OF FLESH AND BLOOD


The elements without were not in harmony with the spirit which it was
desired should be engendered within. By music, by gay decorations,
by speeches from prominent men, the board in charge of the boys'
reformatory was striving to throw about this dedication of the new
building an atmosphere of cheerfulness and good-will--an atmosphere
vibrant with the kindness and generosity which emanated from the State,
and the thankfulness and loyalty which it was felt should emanate from
the boys.

Outside the world was sobbing. Some young trees which had been planted
along the driveway of the reformatory grounds, and which were expected
to grow up in the way they should go, were rocking back and forth in
passionate insurrection. Fallen leaves were being spit viciously through
the air. It was a sullen-looking landscape which Philip Grayson, he who
was to be the last speaker of the afternoon, saw stretching itself down
the hill, across the little valley, and up another little hill of that
rolling prairie state. In his ears was the death wail of the summer.
It seemed the spirit of out-of-doors was sending itself up in mournful,
hopeless cries.

The speaker who had been delivering himself of pedantic encouragement
about the open arms with which the world stood ready to receive the most
degraded one, would that degraded one but come to the world in proper
spirit, sat down amid perfunctory applause led by the officers
and attendants of the institution, and the boys rose to sing. The
brightening of their faces told that their work as performers was more
to their liking than their position as auditors. They threw back their
heads and waited with well-disciplined eagerness for the signal to
begin. Then, with the strength and native music there are in some three
hundred boys' throats, there rolled out the words of the song of the
State.

There were lips which opened only because they must, but as a whole
they sang with the same heartiness, the same joy in singing, that he
had heard a crowd of public-school boys put into the song only the week
before. When the last word had died away it seemed to Philip Grayson
that the sigh of the world without was giving voice to the sigh of the
world within as the well-behaved crowd of boys sat down to resume their
duties as auditors.

And then one of the most important of the professors from the State
University was telling them about the kindness of the State: the State
had provided for them this beautiful home; it gave them comfortable
clothing and nutritious food; it furnished that fine gymnasium in which
to train their bodies, books and teachers to train their minds;
it provided those fitted to train their souls, to work against the
unfortunate tendencies--the professor stumbled a little there--which had
led to their coming. The State gave liberally, gladly, and in return it
asked but one thing: that they come out into the world and make useful,
upright citizens, citizens of which any State might be proud. Was that
asking too much? the professor from the State University was saying.

The sobbing of the world without was growing more intense. Many pairs of
eyes from among the auditors were straying out to where the summer
lay dying. Did they know--those boys whom the State classed as
unfortunates--that out of this death there would come again life? Or did
they see but the darkness--the decay--of to-day?

The professor from the State University was putting the case very
fairly. There were no flaws--seemingly--to be picked in his logic. The
State had been kind; the boys were obligated to good citizenship.
But the coldness!--comfortlessness!--of it all. The open arms of the
world!--how mocking in its abstractness. What did it mean? Did it mean
that they--the men who uttered the phrase so easily--would be willing to
give these boys aid, friendship when they came out into the world? What
would they say, those boys whose ears were filled with high-sounding,
non-committal phrases, if some man were to stand before them and say,
"And so, fellows, when you get away from this place, and are ready to
get your start in the world, just come around to my office and I'll help
you get a job?" At thought of it there came from Philip Grayson a queer,
partly audible laugh, which caused those nearest him to look his way in
surprise.

But he was all unconscious of their looks of inquiry, absorbed in the
thoughts that crowded upon him. How far away the world--his kind of
people--must seem to these boys of the State Reform School. The speeches
they had heard, the training that had been given them, had taught
them--unconsciously perhaps, but surely--to divide the world into two
great classes: the lucky and the unlucky, those who made speeches
and those who must listen, the so-called good and the so-called bad;
perhaps--he smiled a little at his own cynicism--those who were caught
and those who were not.

There came to him these words of a poet of whom he used to be fond:

    In men whom men pronounce as ill,
    I find so much of goodness still;
    In men whom men pronounce divine,
      I find so much of sin and blot;
    I hesitate to draw the line
      Between the two, when God has not.

When God has not! He turned and looked out at the sullen sky,
returning--as most men do at times--to that conception of his childhood
that somewhere beyond the clouds was God. God! Did God care for the boys
of the State Reformatory? Was that poet of the western mountains right
when he said that God was not a drawer of lines, but a seer of the good
that was in the so-called bad, and of the bad in the so-called good, and
a lover of them both?

If that was God, it was not the God the boys of the reformatory had been
taught to know. They had been told that God would forgive the
wicked, but it had been made clear to them--if not in words, in
implications--that it was they who were the wicked. And the so-called
godly men, men of such exemplary character as had been chosen to address
them that afternoon, had so much of the spirit of God that they, too,
were willing to forgive, be tolerant, and--he looked out at the bending
trees with a smile--disburse generalities about the open arms of the
world.

What would they think--those three hundred speech-tired boys--if some
man who had been held before them as exemplary were to rise and lay bare
his own life--its weaknesses, its faults, perhaps its crimes--and tell
them there was weakness and there was strength in every human being, and
that the world-old struggle of life was to overcome one's weakness with
one's strength.

The idea took strange hold on him. It seemed the method of the world--at
any rate it had been the method of that afternoon--for the men who stood
before their fellows with clean hands to plant themselves on the far
side of a chasm of conventions, or narrow self-esteem, or easily won
virtue, and cry to those beings who struggled on the other side of that
chasm--to those human beings whose souls had never gone to school: "Look
at us! Our hands are clean, our hearts are pure. See how beautiful it
is to be good! Come ye, poor sinners, and be good also." And the poor
sinners, the untaught, birthmarked human souls, would look over at the
self-acclaimed goodness they could see far across the chasm, and even
though attracted to it (which, he grimly reflected, would not seem
likely) the thing that was left with them was a sense of the width of
the chasm.

He had a sense of needless waste, of unnecessary blight. He looked down
at those three hundred faces and it was as if looking at human waste;
and it was human stupidity, human complacency and cowardice kept those
human beings human drift.

With what a smug self-satisfaction--under the mask of benevolence--the
speakers of that afternoon had flaunted their virtue--their position!
How condescendingly they had spoken of the home which we, the good,
prepare for you, the bad, and what namby-pambyness there was, after all,
in that sentiment which all of them had voiced--and now you must pay us
back by being good!

Oh for a man of flesh and blood to stand up and tell how he himself had
failed and suffered! For a man who could bridge that chasm with strong,
broad, human understanding and human sympathies--a man who would stand
among them pulse-beat to pulse-beat and cry out, "I know! I understand!
I fought it and I'll help you fight it too!"

The sound of his own name broke the spell that was upon him. He looked
to the centre of the stage and saw that the professor from the State
University had seated himself and that the superintendent of
the institution was occupying the place of the speaker. And the
superintendent was saying:

"We may esteem ourselves especially fortunate in having him with us this
afternoon. He is one of the great men of the State, one of the men
who by high living, by integrity and industry, has raised himself to a
position of great honour among his fellow men. A great party--may I say
the greatest of all parties?--has shown its unbounded confidence in him
by giving him the nomination for the governorship of the State. No man
in the State is held in higher esteem to-day than he. And so it is with
special pleasure that I introduce to you that man of the future--Philip
Grayson."

The superintendent sat down then, and he himself--Philip Grayson--was
standing in the place where the other speakers had stood. It was with
a rush which almost swept away his outward show of calm that it came to
him that he--candidate for the governorship--was well fitted to be
that man of flesh and blood for whom he had sighed. That he himself was
within grasp of an opportunity to get beneath the jackets and into the
very hearts and souls of those boys, and make them feel that a man of
sins and virtues, of weaknesses and strength, a man who had had much to
conquer, and for whom the fight would never be finally won, was standing
before them stripped of his coat of conventions and platitudes, and in
nakedness of soul and sincerity of heart was talking to them as a man
who understood.

Almost with the inception of the idea was born the consciousness of what
it might cost. And as in answer to the silent, blunt question, Is it
worth it? there looked up at him three hundred pairs of eyes--eyes
behind which there was good as well as bad, eyes which had burned with
the fatal rush of passion, and had burned, too, with the hot tears of
remorse--eyes which had opened on a hostile world.

And then the eyes of Philip Grayson could not see the eyes which were
before him, and he put up his hand to break the mist--little caring
what the men upon the platform would think of him, little thinking what
effect the words which were crowding into his heart would have upon his
candidacy. But one thing was vital to him now: to bring upon that ugly
chasm the levelling forces of a common humanity, and to make those boys
who were of his clay feel that a being who had fallen and risen again,
a fellow being for whom life would always mean a falling and a rising
again, was standing before them, and--not as the embodiment of a distant
goodness, not as a pattern, but as one among them, verily as man to
man--was telling them a few things which his own life had taught him
were true.

It was his very consecration which made it hard to begin. He was fearful
of estranging them in the beginning, of putting between them and him
that very thing he was determined there should not be.

"I have a strange feeling," he said, with a winning little smile, "that
if I were to open my heart to-day, just open it clear up the way I'd
like to if I could, that you boys would look into it, and then jump back
in a scared kind of way and cry, 'Why--that's me!' You would be a little
surprised--wouldn't you?--if you could look back and see the kind of boy
I was, and find I was much the kind of boy you are?

"Do you know what I think? I think hypocrisy is the worst thing in the
world. I think it's worse than stealing, or lying, or any of the other
bad things you can name. And do you know where I think lots of the
hypocrisy comes from? I think it comes from the so-called self-made
men--from the real good men, the men who say 'I haven't got one bad
thing charged up to my account.'

"Now the men out campaigning for me call me a self-made man. Your
superintendent just now spoke of my integrity, of the confidence reposed
in me, and all that. But do you know what is the honest truth? If I am
any kind of a man worth mentioning, if I am deserving of any honour, any
confidence, it is not because I was born with my heart filled with good
and beautiful things, for I was not. It is because I was born with much
in my heart that we call the bad, and because, after that bad had grown
stronger and stronger through the years it was unchecked, and after it
had brought me the great shock, the great sorrow of my life, I began
then, when older than you boys are now, to see a little of that great
truth which you can put briefly in these words: 'There is good and there
is bad in every human heart, and it is the struggle of life to conquer
the bad with the good.' What I am trying to say is, that if I am worthy
any one's confidence to-day, it is because, having seen that truth, I
have been able, through never ceasing trying, through slow conquering,
to crowd out some of the bad and make room for a little of the good.

"You see," he went on, three hundred pairs of eyes hard upon him now,
"some of us are born to a harder struggle than others. There are people
who would object to my saying that to you, even if I believed it. They
would say you would make the fact of being born with much against which
to struggle an excuse for being bad. But look here a minute; if you were
born with a body not as strong as other boys' bodies, if you couldn't
run as far, or jump as high, you wouldn't be eternally saying, 'I can't
be expected to do much; I wasn't born right.' Not a bit of it! You'd
make it your business to get as strong as you could, and you wouldn't
make any parade of the fact that you weren't as strong as you should be.
We don't like people who whine, whether it's about weak bodies or weak
souls.

"I've been sitting here this afternoon wondering what to say to you
boys. I had intended telling some funny stories about things which
happened to me when I was a boy. But for some reason a serious mood has
come over me, and I don't feel just like those stories now. I haven't
been thinking of the funny side of life in the last half-hour. I've been
thinking of how much suffering I've endured since the days when I, too,
was a boy."

He paused then; and when he went on his voice tested to the utmost the
silence of the room: "There is lots of sorrow in this old world. Maybe
I'm on the wrong track, but as I see it to-day human beings are making
a much harder thing of their existence than there is any need of. There
are millions and millions of them, and year after year, generation after
generation, they fight over the same old battles, live through the same
old sorrows. Doesn't it seem all wrong that after the battle has been
fought a million times it can't be made a little easier for those who
still have it before them?

"If a farmer had gone over a bad road, and the next day saw another
farmer about to start over the same road, wouldn't he send him back?
Doesn't it seem too bad that in things which concern one's whole life
people can't be as decent as they are about things which involve only an
inconvenience? Doesn't it seem that when we human beings have so much in
common we might stand together a little better? I'll tell you what's the
matter. Most of the people of this world are coated round and round with
self-esteem, and they're afraid to admit any understanding of the things
which aren't good. Suppose the farmer had thought it a disgrace to admit
he had been over that road, and so had said: 'From what I have read in
books, and from what I have learned in a general way, I fancy that road
isn't good.' Would the other farmer have gone back? I rather think he
would have said he'd take his chances. But you see the farmer said
he _knew_; and how did he know? Why, because he'd been over the road
himself."

As he paused again, looking at them, he saw it all with a clarifying
simplicity. He himself knew life for a fine and beautiful thing. He had
won for himself some of the satisfactions of understanding, certain rare
delights of the open spirit. He wanted to free the spirits of these
boys to whom he talked; wanted to show them that spirits could free
themselves, indicate to them that self-control and self-development
carried one to pleasures which sordid self-indulgences had no power to
bestow. It was a question of getting the most from life. It was a matter
of happiness.

It was thus he began, slowly, the telling of his life's story:

"I was born with strange, wild passions in my heart. I don't know where
they came from; I only know they were there. I resented authority. If
someone who had a right to dictate to me said, 'Philip, do this,' then
Philip would immediately begin to think how much he would rather do the
other thing. And," he smiled a little, and some of the boys smiled with
him in anticipation, "it was the other thing which Philip usually did.

"I didn't go to a reform school, for the very good reason that there
wasn't any in the State where I lived." Some of he boys smiled again,
and he could hear the nervous coughing of one of the party managers
sitting close to him. "I was what you would call a very bad boy. I
didn't mind any one. I was defiant--insolent. I did bad things
just because I knew they were bad, and--and I took a great deal of
satisfaction out of it."

The sighing of the world without was the only sound which vibrated
through the room. "I say," he went on, "that I got a form of
satisfaction from it. I did not say I got happiness; there is a vast
difference between a kind of momentary satisfaction and that thing--that
most precious of all things--which we call happiness. Indeed, I was very
far from happy. I had hours when I was so morose and miserable that I
hated the whole world. And do you know what I thought? I thought there
was no one in all the world who had the same kind of things surging up
in his heart that I did. I thought there was no one else with whom it
was as easy to be bad, or as hard to be good. I thought that no one
understood. I thought that I was all alone.

"Did you ever feel like that? Did you ever feel that no one else knew
anything about such feelings as you had? Did you ever feel that here was
you, and there was the rest of the world, and that the rest of the world
didn't know anything about you, and was just generally down on you? Now
that's the very thing I want to talk away from you to-day. You're not
the only one. We're all made of the same kind of stuff, and there's none
of us made of stuff that's flawless. We all have a fight; some an easy
one, and some a big one, and if you have formed the idea that there is
a kind of dividing-line in the world, and that on the one side is the
good, and on the other side the bad, why, all I can say is that you have
a wrong notion of things.

"Well, I grew up to be a man, and because I hadn't fought against any of
the stormy things in my heart they kept growing stronger and stronger. I
did lots of wild, ugly things, things of which I am bitterly ashamed.
I went to another place, and I fell in with the kind of fellows you can
imagine I felt at home with. I had been told when I was a boy that it
was wrong to drink and gamble. I think that was the chief reason I took
to drink and gambling."

There was another cough, more pronounced this time, from the party
manager, and the superintendent was twisting uneasily in his seat.
It was the strangest speech that had ever been delivered at the boys'
reformatory. The boys were leaning forward--self-forgetful, intent. "One
night I was playing cards with a crowd of my friends, and one of the
men, the best friend I had, said something that made me mad. There was a
revolver right there which one of the men had been showing us. Some kind
of a demon got hold of me, and without so much as a thought I picked up
that revolver and fired at my friend."

The party manager gave way to an exclamation of horror, and the
superintendent half rose from his seat. But before any one could say
a word Philip Grayson continued, looking at the half-frightened faces
before him: "I suppose you wonder why I am not in the penitentiary. I
had been drinking, and I missed my aim; and I was with friends, and it
was hushed up."

He rested his hand upon the table, and looked out at the sullen
landscape. His voice was not steady as he went on: "It's not an easy
thing to talk about, boys. I never talked about it to any one before in
all my life. I'm not telling it now just to entertain you or to create
a sensation. I'm telling it," his voice grew tense in its earnestness,
"because I believe that this world could be made a better and a sweeter
place if those who have lived and suffered would not be afraid to reach
out their hands and cry: 'I know that road--it's bad! I steered off to a
better place, and I'll help you steer off, too.'"

There was not one of the three hundred pairs of eyes but was riveted
upon the speaker's colourless face. The masks of sullenness and defiance
had fallen from them. They were listening now--not because they must,
but because into their hungry and thirsty souls was being poured the
very sustenance for which--unknowingly--they had yearned.

"We sometimes hear people say," resumed the candidate for Governor,
"that they have lived through hell. If by that they mean they've lived
through the deepest torments the human heart can know, then I can say
that I, too, have lived through hell. What I suffered after I went home
that night no one in this world will ever know. Words couldn't tell it;
it's not the kind of thing words can come anywhere near. My whole life
spread itself out before me; it was not a pleasant thing to look at. But
at last, boys, out of the depths of my darkness, I began to get a little
light. I began to get some understanding of the battle which it falls
to the lot of some of us human beings to wage. There was good in me,
you see, or I wouldn't have cared like that, and it came to me then, all
alone that terrible night, that it is the good which lies buried away
somewhere in our hearts must fight out the bad. And so--all alone,
boys--I began the battle of trying to get command of my own life. And do
you know--this is the truth--it was with the beginning of that battle I
got my first taste of happiness. There is no finer feeling in this world
than the sense of coming into mastery of one's self. It is like opening
a door that has shut you in. Oh, you don't do it all in a minute. This
is no miracle I'm talking about. It's a fight. But it's a fight that can
be won. It's a fight that's gloriously worth the winning. I'm not saying
to you, 'Be good and you'll succeed.' Maybe you won't succeed. Life
as we've arranged it for ourselves makes success a pretty tough
proposition. But that doesn't alter the fact that it pays to be a decent
sort. You and I know about how much happiness there is in the other kind
of thing. And there is happiness in feeling you're doing what you can to
develop what's in you. Success or failure, it brings a sense of having
done your part,--that bully sense of having put up the best fight you
could."

He leaned upon the table then, as though very weary. "I don't know, I am
sure, what the people of my State will think of all this. Perhaps they
won't want a man for their Governor who once tried to kill another man.
But," he looked around at them with that smile of his which got straight
to men's hearts, "there's only one of me, and there are three hundred
of you, and how do I know but that in telling you of that stretch of bad
road ahead I've made a dozen Governors this very afternoon!"

He looked from row to row of them, trying to think of some last word
which would leave them with a sense of his sincerity. What he did say
was: "And so, boys, when you get away from here, and go out into the
world to get your start, if you find the arms of that world aren't quite
as wide open as you were told they would be, if there seems no place
where you can get a hold, and you are saying to yourself, 'It's no
use--I'll not try,' before you give up just remember there was one man
who said he knew all about it, and give that one man a chance to show
he meant what he said. So look me up, if luck goes all against you, and
maybe I can give you a little lift." He took a backward step, as though
to resume his seat, and then he said, with a dry little smile which took
any suggestion of heroics from what had gone before, "If I'm not at the
State-house, you'll find my name in the directory of the city where your
programme tells you I live."

He sat down, and for a moment there was silence. Then, full-souled,
heart-given, came the applause. It was not led by the attendants this
time; it was the attendants who rose at last to stop it. And when the
clapping of the hands had ceased, many of those hands were raised to
eyes which had long been dry.

The exercises were drawn to a speedy close, and he found the party
manager standing by his side. "It was very grand," he sneered, "very
high-sounding and heroic, but I suppose you know," jerking his hand
angrily toward a table where a reporter for the leading paper of the
opposition was writing, "that you've given them the winning card."

As he replied, in far-off tone, "I hope so," the candidate for Governor
was looking, not at the reporter who was sending out a new cry for
the opposition, but into those faces aglow with the light of new
understanding and new-born hopes. He stood there watching them filing
out into the corridor, craning their necks to throw him a last look,
and as he turned then and looked from the window it was to see that
the storm had sobbed itself away, and that along the driveway of the
reformatory grounds the young trees--unbroken and unhurt--were rearing
their heads in the way they should go.



VII

HOW THE PRINCE SAW AMERICA


They began work at seven-thirty, and at ten minutes past eight every
hammer stopped. In the Senate Chamber and in the House, on the stairways
and in the corridors, in every office from the Governor's to the
custodian's they laid down their implements and rose to their feet. A
long whistle had sounded through the building. There was magic in its
note.

"What's the matter with you fellows?" asked the attorney-general,
swinging around in his chair.

"Strike," declared one of the men, with becoming brevity.

"Strike of what?"

"Carpet-Tackers' Union Number One," replied the man, kindly gathering up
a few tacks.

"Never heard of it."

"Organised last night," said the carpet-tacker, putting on his coat.

"Well I'll--" he paused expressively, then inquired: "What's your game?"

"Well, you see, boss, this executive council that runs the State-house
has refused our demands."

"What are your demands?"

"Double pay."

"Double pay! Now how do you figure it out that you ought to have double
pay?"

"Rush work. You see we were under oath, or pretty near that, to get
every carpet in the State-house down by four o'clock this afternoon. Now
you know yourself that rush work is hard on the nerves. Did you ever get
rush work done at a laundry and not pay more for it? We was anxious as
anybody to get the Capitol in shape for the big show this afternoon. But
there's reason in all things."

"Yes," agreed his auditor, "there is."

The man looked at him a little doubtfully. "Our president--we elected
Johnny McGuire president last night--went to the Governor this morning
with our demands."

The Governor's fellow official smiled--he knew the Governor pretty well.
"And he turned you down?"

The striker nodded. "But there's an election next fall; maybe the
turning down will be turned around."

"Maybe so--you never can tell. I don't know just what power
Carpet-Tackers' Union Number One will wield, but the Governor's pretty
solid, you know, with Labour as a whole."

That was true, and went home. The striker rubbed his foot uncertainly
across the floor, and took courage from its splinters. "Well, there's
one thing sure. When Prince Ludwig and his train-load of big guns show
up at four o'clock this afternoon they'll find bare floors, and pretty
bum bare floors, on deck at this place."

The attorney-general rubbed his own foot across the splintered,
miserable boards. "They are pretty bum," he reflected. "I wonder," he
added, as the man was half-way out of the door, "what Prince Ludwig will
think of the American working-man when he arrives this afternoon?"

"Just about as much," retorted the not-to-be-downed carpet-tacker, "as
he does about American generosity. And he may think a few things," he
added weightily, "about American independence."

"Oh, he's sure to do that," agreed the attorney-general.

He joined the crowd in the corridor. They were swarming out from all
the offices, all talking of the one thing. "It was a straight case of
hold-up," declared the Governor's secretary. "They supposed they had us
on the hip. They were getting extra money as it was, but you see they
just figured it out we'd pay anything rather than have these wretched
floors for the reception this afternoon. They thought the Governor would
argue the question, and then give in, or, at any rate, compromise. They
never intended for one minute that the Prince should find bare floors
here. And I rather think," he concluded, "that they feel a little done
up about it themselves."

"What's the situation?" asked a stranger within the gates.

"It's like this," a newspaper reporter told him; "about a month ago
there was a fire here and the walls and carpets were pretty well knocked
out with smoke and water. The carpets were mean old things anyway,
so they voted new ones. And I want to tell you"--he swelled with
pride--"that the new ones are beauties. The place'll look great when we
get 'em down. Well, you know Prince Ludwig and his crowd cross the State
on their way to the coast, and of course they were invited to stop. Last
week Billy Patton--he's running the whole show--declined the invitation
on account of lack of time, and then yesterday comes a telegram saying
the Prince himself insisted on stopping. You know he's keen about Indian
dope--and we've got Indian traditions to burn. So Mr. Bill Patton had to
make over his schedule to please the Prince, and of course we were all
pretty tickled about it, for more reasons than one. The telegram didn't
come until five o'clock yesterday afternoon, but you know what a hummer
the Governor is when he gets a start. He made up his mind this building
should be put in shape within twenty-four hours. They engaged a whole
lot of fellows to work on the carpets to-day. Then what did they do but
get together last night--well, you know the rest. Pretty bum-looking old
shack just now, isn't it?" and the reporter looked around ruefully.

It was approaching the hour for the legislature to convene, and the
members who were beginning to saunter in swelled the crowd--and the
indignation--in the rotunda.

The Governor, meanwhile, had been trying to get other men, but
Carpet-Tackers' Union Number One had looked well to that. The biggest
furniture dealer in the city was afraid of the plumbers. "Pipes burst
last night," he said, "and they may not do a thing for us if we get
mixed up in this. Sorry--but I can't let my customers get pneumonia."

Another furniture man was afraid of the teamsters. For one reason or
another no one was disposed to respond to the Macedonian cry, and when
the Governor at last gave it up and walked out into the rotunda he was
about as disturbed as he permitted himself to get. "It's the idea of
lying down," he said. "I'd do anything--anything!--if I could only think
what to do."

A popular young member of the House overheard the remark. "By George,
Governor," he burst forth, after a minute's deep study--"say--by Jove, I
say, let's do it ourselves!"

They all laughed, but the Governor's laugh stopped suddenly, and he
looked hard at the young man.

"Why not?" the young legislator went on. "It's a big job, but there are
a lot of us. We've all put down carpets at home; what are we afraid to
tackle it here for?"

Again the others laughed, but the Governor did not. "Say, Weston," he
said, "I'd give a lot--I tell you I'd give a lot--if we just could!"

"Leave it to me!"--and he was lost in the crowd.

The Governor's eyes followed him. He had always liked Harry Weston. He
was the very sort to inspire people to do things. The Governor smiled
knowingly as he noted the men Weston was approaching, and his different
manner with the various ones. And then he had mounted a few steps of the
stairway, and was standing there facing the crowd.

"Now look here," he began, after silence had been obtained, "this isn't
a very formal meeting, but it's a mighty important one. It's a clear
case of Carpet-Tackers' Union against the State. What I want to know
is--Is the State going to lie down?"

There were loud cries of "No!"--"Well, I should say not!"

"Well, then, see here. The Governor's tried for other men and can't get
them. Now the next thing I want to know is--What's the matter with us?"

They didn't get it for a minute, and then everybody laughed.

"It's no joke! You've all put down carpets at home; what's the use of
pretending you don't know how to do it? Oh yes--I know, bigger
building, and all that, but there are more of us, and the principle of
carpet-tacking is the same, big building or little one. Now my scheme
is this--Every fellow his own carpet-tacker! The Governor's office
puts down the Governor's carpet; the Secretary's office puts down the
Secretary's carpet; the Senate puts down the Senate carpet--and we'll
look after our little patch in the House!"

"But you've got more fellows than anybody else," cried a member of the
Senate.

"Right you are, and we'll have an over-flow meeting in the corridors
and stairways. The House, as usual, stands ready to do her part,"--that
brought a laugh for the Senators, and from them.

"Now get it out of your heads this is a joke. The carpets are here; the
building is full of able-bodied men; the Prince is coming at four--by
his own request, and the proposition is just this: Are we going to
receive him in a barn or in a palace? Let's hear what Senator Arnold
thinks about it."

That was a good way of getting away from the idea of its being a joke.
Senator Arnold was past seventy. Slowly he extended his right arm and
tested his muscle. "Not very much," he said, "but enough to drive a tack
or two." That brought applause and they drew closer together, and the
atmosphere warmed perceptibly. "I've fought for the State in more ways
than one,"--Senator Arnold was a distinguished veteran of the Civil
War--"and if I can serve her now by tacking down carpets, then it's
tacking down carpets I'm ready to go at. Just count on me for what
little I'm worth."

Someone started the cry for the Governor. "Prince Ludwig is being
entertained all over the country in the most lavish manner," he began,
with his characteristic directness in stating a situation. "By his own
request he is to visit our Capitol this afternoon. I must say that I,
for one, want to be in shape for him. I don't like to tell him that we
had a labour complication and couldn't get the carpets down. Speaking
for myself, it is a great pleasure to inform you that the carpet in
the Governor's office will be in proper shape by four o'clock this
afternoon."

That settled it. Finally Harry Weston made himself heard sufficiently
to suggest that when the House and Senate met at nine o'clock motions to
adjourn be entertained. "And as to the rest of you fellows," he cried,
"I don't see what's to hinder your getting busy right now!"

There were Republicans and there were Democrats; there were friends
and there were enemies; there were good, bad and--no, there were no
indifferent. An unprecedented harmony of thought, a millennium-like
unity of action was born out of that sturdy cry--Every man his own
carpet-tacker! The Secretary of State always claimed that he drove the
first tack, but during the remainder of his life the Superintendent of
Public Instruction also contended hotly for that honour. The rivalry
as to who would do the best job, and get it done most quickly, became
intense. Early in the day Harry Weston made the rounds of the building
and announced a fine of one-hundred dollars for every wrinkle. There
were pounded fingers and there were broken backs, but slowly, steadily
and good-naturedly the State-house carpet was going down. It was a good
deal bigger job than they had anticipated, but that only added zest
to the undertaking. The news of how the State officials were employing
themselves had spread throughout the city, and guards were stationed at
every door to keep out people whose presence would work more harm than
good. All assistance from women was courteously refused. "This is solemn
business," said the Governor, in response to a telephone from some of
the fair sex, "and the introduction of the feminine element might throw
about it a social atmosphere which would result in loss of time. And
then some of the boys might feel called upon to put on their collars and
coats."

Stretch--stretch--stretch, and tack--tack--tack, all morning long it
went on, for the State-house was large--oh, very large. There should
have been a Boswell there to get the good things, for the novelty of the
situation inspired wit even in minds where wit had never glowed before.
Choice bits which at other times would fairly have gone on official
record were now passed almost unnoticed, so great was the surfeit.
Instead of men going out to lunch, lunch came in to them. Bridget
Haggerty, who by reason of her long connection with the boarding-house
across the street was a sort of unofficial official of the State, came
over and made the coffee and sandwiches, all the while calling down
blessings on the head of every mother's son of them, and announcing in
loud, firm tones that while all five of her boys belonged to the union
she'd be after tellin' them what she thought of this day's work!

It was a United States Senator who did the awful trick, and, to be fair,
the Senator did not think of it as an awful trick at all. He came over
there in the middle of the morning to see the Governor, and in a few
hurried words--it was no day for conversation--was told what was going
on. It was while standing out in the corridor watching the perspiring
dignitaries that the idea of his duty came to him, and one reason he was
sure he was right was the way in which it came to him in the light of
a duty. Here was America in undress uniform! Here was--not a thing
arranged for show, but absolutely the thing itself! Prince Ludwig had
come with a sincere desire to see America. Every one knew that he was
not seeing it at all. He would go back with memories of bands and flags
and people all dressed up standing before him making polite speeches.
But would he carry back one small whiff of the spirit of the country?
Again Senator Bruner looked about him. The Speaker of the House was
just beginning laying the stair carpet; a judge of the Supreme Court
was contending hotly for a better hammer. "It's an insult to expect any
decent man to drive tacks with a hammer like this," he was saying.
Here were men--real, live men, men with individuality, spirit. When
the Prince had come so far, wasn't it too bad that he should not see
anything but uniforms and cut glass and dress suits and other externals
and non-essentials? Senator Bruner was a kind man; he was a good fellow;
he was hospitable--patriotic. He decided now in favour of the Prince.

He had to hurry about it, for it was almost twelve then. One of
the vice-presidents of the road lived there, and he was taken into
confidence, and proved an able and eager ally. They located the special
train bearing the Prince and ordered it stopped at the next station.
The stop was made that Senator Patton might receive a long telegram
from Senator Bruner. "I figure it like this," the Senator told the
vice-president. "They get to Boden at a quarter of one and were going
to stop there an hour. Then they were going to stop a little while at
Creyville. I've told Patton the situation, and that if he wants to do
the right thing by the prince he'll cut out those stops and rush right
through here. That will bring him in--well, they could make it at a
quarter of two. I've told him I'd square it with Boden and Creyville.
Oh, he'll do it all right."

And even as he said so came the reply from Patton: "Too good to miss.
Will rush through. Arrive before two. Have carriage at Water Street."

"That's great!" cried the Senator. "Trust Billy Patton for falling
in with a good thing. And he's right about missing the station crowd.
Patton can always go you one better," he admitted, grinningly.

They had luncheon together, and they were a good deal more like
sophomores in college than like a United States Senator and a big
railroad man. "You don't think there's any danger of their getting
through too soon?" McVeigh kept asking, anxiously.

"Not a bit," the Senator assured him. "They can't possibly make it
before three. We'll come in just in time for the final skirmish. It's
going to be a jolly rush at the last."

They laid their plans with skill worthy of their training. The State
library building was across from the Capitol, and they were connected
by tunnel. "I never saw before," said the Senator, "what that tunnel
was for, but I see now what a great thing it is. We'll get him in at
the west door of the library--we can drive right up to it, you know, and
then we walk him through the tunnel. That's a stone floor"--the Senator
was chuckling with every sentence--"so I guess they won't be carpeting
it. There's a little stairway running up from the tunnel---and say, we
must telephone over and arrange about those keys. There'll be a good
deal of climbing, but the Prince is a good fellow, and won't mind. It
wouldn't be safe to try the elevator, for Harry Weston would be in it
taking somebody a bundle of tacks. The third floor is nothing but store
rooms; we'll not be disturbed up there, and we can look right down the
rotunda and see the whole show. Of course we'll be discovered in time;
some one is sure to look up and see us, but we'll fix it so they won't
see us before we've had our fun, and it strikes me, McVeigh, that for
two old fellows like you and me we've put the thing through in pretty
neat shape."

It was a very small and unpretentious party which stepped from the
special at Water Street a little before two. The Prince was wearing
a long coat and an automobile cap and did not suggest anything at
all formidable or unusual. "You've saved the country," Senator Patton
whispered in an aside. "He was getting bored. Never saw a fellow jolly
up so in my life. Guess he was just spoiling for some fun. Said it would
be really worth while to see somebody who wasn't looking for him."

Senator Bruner beamed. "That's just the point. He's caught my idea
exactly."

It went without a hitch. "I feel," said the Prince, as they were
hurrying him through the tunnel, "that I am a little boy who has run
away from school. Only I have a terrible fear that at any minute some
band may begin to play, and somebody may think of making a speech."

They gave this son of a royal house a seat on a dry-goods box, so placed
that he could command a good view, and yet be fairly secure. The final
skirmish was on in earnest. Two State Senators--coatless, tieless,
collarless, their faces dirty, their hair rumpled, were finishing the
stair carpet. The chairman of the appropriations committee in the House
was doing the stretching in a still uncarpeted bit of the corridor, and
a member who had recently denounced the appropriations committee as a
disgrace to the State was presiding at the hammer. They were doing most
exquisitely harmonious team work. A railroad and anti-railroad member
who fought every time they came within speaking distance of one another
were now in an earnest and very chummy conference relative to a large
wrinkle which had just been discovered on the first landing. Many men
were standing around holding their backs, and many others were deeply
absorbed in nursing their fingers. The doors of the offices were all
open, and there was a general hauling in of furniture and hanging of
pictures. Clumsy but well-meaning fingers were doing their best with
"finishing touches." The Prince grew so excited about it all that they
had to keep urging him not to take too many chances of being seen.

"And I'll tell you," Senator Bruner was saying, "it isn't only because
I knew it would be funny that I wanted you to see it; but--well, you see
America isn't the real America when she has on her best clothes and is
trying to show off. You haven't seen anybody who hasn't prepared for
your coming, and that means you haven't seen them as they are at all.
Now here we are. This is us! You see that fellow hanging a picture down
there? He's president of the First National Bank. Came over a little
while ago, got next to the situation, and stayed to help. And--say, this
is good! Notice that red-headed fellow just getting up from his knees?
Well, he's president of the teamsters' union--figured so big in a strike
here last year. I call that pretty rich! He's the fellow they are all
so afraid of, but I guess he liked the idea of the boys doing it
themselves, and just sneaked in and helped.--There's the Governor. He's
a fine fellow. He wouldn't be held up by anybody--not even to get ready
for a Prince, but he's worked like a Trojan all day to make things come
his way. Yes sir--this is the sure-enough thing. Here you have the
boys off dress parade. Not that we run away from our dignity every day,
but--see what I mean?"

"I see," replied the Prince, and he looked as though he really did.

"You know--say, dodge there! Move back! No--too late. The Governor's
caught us. Look at him!"

The Governor's eyes had turned upward, and he had seen. He put his hands
on his back--he couldn't look up without doing that--and gave a long,
steady stare. First, Senator Bruner waved; then Senator Patton waved;
then Mr. McVeigh waved; and then the Prince waved. Other people were
beginning to look up. "They're all on," laughed Patton, "let's go down."

At first they were disposed to think it pretty shabby treatment. "We
worked all day to get in shape," grumbled Harry Weston, "and then you go
ring the curtain up on us before it's time for our show to begin."

But the Prince made them feel right about it. He had such a good time
that they were forced to concede the move had been a success. And he
said to the Governor as he was leaving: "I see that the only way to see
America is to see it when America is not seeing you."



VIII

THE LAST SIXTY MINUTES


"Nine--ten--" The old clock paused as if in dramatic appreciation of
the situation, and then slowly, weightily, it gave the final stroke,
"Eleven!"

The Governor swung his chair half-way round and looked the timepiece
full in the face. Already the seconds had begun ticking off the last
hour of his official life. On the stroke of twelve another man would be
Governor of the State. He sat there watching the movement of the minute
hand.

The sound of voices, some jovial, some argumentative, was borne to
him through the open transom. People were beginning to gather in
the corridors, and he could hear the usual disputes about tickets of
admission to the inaugural.

His secretary came in just then with some letters. "Could you see
Whitefield now?" he asked. "He's waiting out here for you."

The old man looked up wearily. "Oh, put him off, Charlie. Tell him you
can talk to him about whatever it is he wants to know."

The secretary had his hand on the knob, when the Governor added, "And,
Charlie, keep everybody out, if you can. I'm--I've got a few private
matters to go over."

The younger man nodded and opened the door. He half closed it behind
him, and then turned to say, "Except Francis. You'll want to see him if
he comes in, won't you?"

He frowned and moved impatiently as he answered, curtly: "Oh, yes."

Francis! Of course it never occurred to any of them that he could close
the door on Francis. He drummed nervously on his desk, then suddenly
reached down and, opening one of the drawers, tossed back a few things
and drew out a newspaper. He unfolded this and spread it out on the
desk. Running across the page was the big black line, "Real Governors
of Some Western States," and just below, the first of the series,
and played up as the most glaring example of nominal and real in
governorship, was a sketch of Harvey Francis.

He sat there looking at it, knowing full well that it would not
contribute to his peace of mind. It did not make for placidity of spirit
to be told at the end of things that he had, as a matter of fact, never
been anybody at all. And the bitterest part of it was that, looking back
on it now, getting it from the viewpoint of one stepping from it, he
could see just how true was the statement: "Harvey Francis has been
the real Governor of the State; John Morrison his mouthpiece and
figurehead."

He walked to the window and looked out over the January landscape. It
may have been the snowy hills, as well as the thoughts weighing him
down, that carried him back across the years to one snowy afternoon when
he stood up in a little red schoolhouse and delivered an oration on "The
Responsibilities of Statesmanship." He smiled as the title came back to
him, and yet--what had become of the spirit of that seventeen-year-old
boy? He had meant it all then; he could remember the thrill with which
he stood there that afternoon long before and poured out his sentiments
regarding the sacredness of public trusts. What was it had kept him,
when his chance came, from working out in his life the things he had so
fervently poured into his schoolboy oration?

Someone was tapping at the door. It was an easy, confident tap, and
there was a good deal of reflex action in the Governor's "Come in."

"Indulging in a little meditation?"

The Governor frowned at the way Francis said it, and the latter went on,
easily: "Just came from a row with Dorman. Everybody is holding him up
for tickets, and he--poor young fool--looks as though he wanted to jump
in the river. Takes things tremendously to heart--Dorman does."

He lighted a cigar, smiling quietly over that youthful quality of
Dorman's. "Well," he went on, leaning back in his chair and looking
about the room, "I thought I'd look in on you for a minute. You see
I'll not have the _entree_ to the Governor's office by afternoon." He
laughed, the easy, good-humoured laugh of one too sophisticated to spend
emotion uselessly.

It was he who fell into meditation then, and the Governor sat looking at
him; a paragraph from the newspaper came back to him: "Harvey Francis
is the most dangerous type of boss politician. His is not the crude and
vulgar method that asks a man what his vote is worth. He deals gently
and tenderly with consciences. He knows how to get a man without fatally
injuring that man's self-respect."

The Governor's own experience bore out the summary. When elected to
office as State Senator he had cherished old-fashioned ideas of serving
his constituents and doing his duty. But the very first week Francis
had asked one of those little favours of him, and, wishing to show his
appreciation of support given him in his election, he had granted it.
Then various courtesies were shown him; he was let in on a "deal," and
almost before he realised it, it seemed definitely understood that he
was a "Francis man."

Francis roused himself and murmured: "Fools!--amateurs."

"Leyman?" ventured the Governor.

"Leyman and all of his crowd!"

"And yet," the Governor could not resist, "in another hour this same
fool will be Governor of the State. The fool seems to have won."

Francis rose, impatiently. "For the moment. It won't be lasting. In any
profession, fools and amateurs may win single victories. They can't keep
it up. They don't know _how_. Oh, no," he insisted, cheerfully, "Leyman
will never be re-elected. Fact is, I'm counting on this contract
business we've saved up for him getting in good work." He was moving
toward the door. "Well," he concluded, with a curious little laugh, "see
you upstairs."

The Governor looked at the clock. It pointed now to twenty-five minutes
past eleven. The last hour was going fast. In a very short time he must
join the party in the anteroom of the House. But weariness had come over
him. He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes.

He was close upon seventy, and to-day looked even older than his years.
It was not a vicious face, but it was not a strong one. People who
wanted to say nice things of the Governor called him pleasant or genial
or kindly. Even the men in the appointive offices did not venture to say
he had much force.

He felt it to-day as he never had before. He had left no mark; he had
done nothing, stood for nothing. Never once had his personality made
itself felt. He had signed the documents; Harvey Francis had always
"suggested"--the term was that man's own--the course to be pursued. And
the "suggestions" had ever dictated the policy that would throw the most
of influence or money to that splendidly organised machine that Francis
controlled.

With an effort he shook himself free from his cheerless retrospect.
There was a thing or two he wanted to get from his desk, and his time
was growing very short. He found what he wanted, and then, just as he
was about to close the drawer, his eye fell on a large yellow envelope.

He closed the drawer; but only to reopen it, take out the envelope and
remove the documents it contained; and then one by one he spread them
out before him on the desk.

He sat there looking down at them, wondering whether a man had ever
stepped into office with as many pitfalls laid for him. During the last
month they had been busy about the old State-house setting traps for the
new Governor. The "machine" was especially jubilant over those contracts
the Governor now had spread out before him. The convict labour question
was being fought out in the State just then--organised labour demanding
its repeal; country taxpayers insisting that it be maintained. Under
the system the penitentiary had become self-supporting. In November the
contracts had come up for renewal; but on the request of Harvey Francis
the matter had been put off from time to time, and still remained open.
Just the week before, Francis had put it to the Governor something like
this:

"Don't sign those contracts. We can give some reason for holding them
off, and save them up for Leyman. Then we can see that the question is
agitated, and whatever he does about it is going to prove a bad thing
for him. If he doesn't sign, he's in bad with the country fellows, the
men who elected him. Don't you see? At the end of his administration the
penitentiary, under you self-sustaining, will have cost them a pretty
penny. We've got him right square!"

The clock was close to twenty minutes of twelve, and he concluded that
he would go out and join some of his friends he could hear in the other
room. It would never do for him to go upstairs with a long, serious
face. He had had his day, and now Leyman was to have his, and if the new
Governor did better than the old one, then so much the better for the
State. As for the contracts, Leyman surely must understand that there
was a good deal of rough sailing on political waters.

But it was not easy to leave the room. Walking to the window he again
stood there looking out across the snow, and once more he went back now
at the end of things to that day in the little red schoolhouse which
stood out as the beginning.

He was called back from that dreaming by the sight of three men coming
up the hill. He smiled faintly in anticipation of the things Francis and
the rest of them would say about the new Governor's arriving on foot.
Leyman had requested that the inaugural parade be done away with--but
one would suppose he would at least dignify the occasion by arriving in
a carriage. Francis would see that the opposing papers handled it as a
grand-stand play to the country constituents.

And then, forgetful of Francis, and of the approaching ceremony, the old
man stood there by the window watching the young man who was coming
up to take his place. How firmly the new Governor walked! With what
confidence he looked ahead at the State-house. The Governor--not
considering the inconsistency therein--felt a thrill of real pride in
thought of the State's possessing a man like that.

Standing though he did for the things pitted against him, down in his
heart John Morrison had all along cherished a strong admiration for
that young man who, as District Attorney of the State's metropolis,
had aroused the whole country by his fearlessness and unquestionable
sincerity. Many a day he had sat in that same office reading what the
young District Attorney was doing in the city close by--the fight he was
making almost single-handed against corruption, how he was striking in
the high places fast and hard as in the low, the opposition, threats,
and time after time there had been that same secret thrill at thought of
there being a man like that. And when the people of the State, convinced
that here was one man who would serve _them_, began urging the District
Attorney for chief executive, Governor Morrison, linked with the
opposing forces, doing all he could to bring about Leyman's defeat,
never lost that secret feeling for the young man, who, unbacked by any
organisation, struck blow after blow at the machine that had so long
dominated the State, winning in the end that almost incomprehensible
victory.

The new Governor had passed from sight, and a moment later his voice
came to the ear of the lonely man in the executive office. Some friends
had stopped him just outside the Governor's door with a laughing "Here's
hoping you'll do as much for us in the new office as you did in the
old," and the new Governor replied, buoyantly: "Oh, but I'm going to do
a great deal more!"

The man within the office smiled a little wistfully and with a sigh
sat down before his desk. The clock now pointed to thirteen minutes of
twelve; they would be asking for him upstairs. There were some scraps of
paper on his desk and he threw them into the waste-basket, murmuring: "I
can at least give him a clean desk."

He pushed his chair back sharply. A clean desk! The phrase opened to
deeper meanings.... Why not clean it up in earnest? Why not give him a
square deal--a real chance? Why not _sign the contracts_?

Again he looked at the clock--not yet ten minutes of twelve. For
ten minutes more he was Governor of the State! Ten minutes of real
governorship! Might it not make up a little, both to his own soul and to
the world, for the years he had weakly served as another man's puppet?
The consciousness that he could do it, that it was not within the power
of any man to stop him, was intoxicating. Why not break the chains now
at the last, and just before the end taste the joy of freedom?

He took up his pen and reached for the inkwell. With trembling, excited
fingers he unfolded the contracts. He dipped his pen into the ink; he
even brought it down on the paper; and then the tension broke. He sank
back in his chair, a frightened, broken old man.

"Oh, no," he whispered; "no, not now. It's--" his head went lower and
lower until at last it rested on the desk--"too late."

When he raised his head and grew more steady, it was only to see the
soundness of his conclusion. He had not the right now in the final
hour to buy for himself a little of glory. It would only be a form of
self-indulgence. They would call it, and perhaps rightly, hush money
to his conscience. They would say he went back on them only when he was
through with them. Oh, no, there would be no more strength in it than
in the average deathbed repentance. He would at least step out with
consistency.

He folded the contracts and put them back into the envelope. The minute
hand now pointed to seven minutes to twelve. Some one was tapping at
the door, and the secretary appeared to say they were waiting for him
upstairs. He replied that he would be there in a minute, hoping that his
voice did not sound as strange to the other man as it had to himself.

Slowly he walked to the door leading into the corridor. This, then, was
indeed the end; this the final stepping down from office! After years of
what they called public service, he was leaving it all now with a sense
of defeat and humiliation. A lump was in the old man's throat; his
eyes were blurred. "But you, Frank Leyman," he whispered passionately,
turning as if for comfort to the other man, "it will be different with
you! They'll not get you--not you!"

It lifted him then as a great wave--this passionate exultation that here
was one man whom corruption could not claim as her own. Here was one
human soul not to be had for a price! There flitted before him again a
picture of that seventeen-year-old boy in the little red schoolhouse,
and close upon it came the picture of this other young man against whom
all powers of corruption had been turned in vain. With the one it
had been the emotional luxury of a sentiment, a thing from life's
actualities apart; with the other it was a force that dominated all
things else, a force over which circumstances and design could not
prevail. "I know all about it," he was saying. "I know about it all! I
know how easy it is to fall! I know how fine it is to stand!"

His sense of disappointment in his own empty, besmirched career was
almost submerged then as he projected himself on into the career of
this other man who within the hour would come there in his stead. How
glorious was his opportunity, how limitless his possibilities, and how
great to his own soul the satisfaction the years would bring of having
done his best!

It had all changed now. That passionate longing to vindicate himself,
add one thing honourable and fine to his own record, had altogether left
him, and with the new mood came new insight and what had been an impulse
centred to a purpose.

It pointed to three minutes to twelve as he walked over to his desk,
unfolded the contracts, and one by one affixed his signature. In a dim
way he was conscious of how the interpretation of his first motive would
be put upon it, how they would call him traitor and coward; but that
mattered little. The very fact that the man for whom he was doing
it would never see it as it was brought him no pang. And when he had
carefully blotted the papers, affixed the seal and put them away, there
was in his heart the clean, sweet joy of a child because he had been
able to do this for a man in whom he believed.

The band was playing the opening strains as he closed the door behind
him and started upstairs.



IX

"OUT THERE"


The old man held the picture up before him and surveyed it with admiring
but disapproving eye. "No one that comes along this way'll have the
price for it," he grumbled. "It'll just set here 'till doomsday."

It did seem that the picture failed to fit in with the rest of the shop.
A persuasive young fellow who claimed he was closing out his stock let
the old man have it for what he called a song. It was only a little
out-of-the-way store which subsisted chiefly on the framing of pictures.
The old man looked around at his views of the city, his pictures of cats
and dogs and gorgeous young women, his flaming bits of landscape. "Don't
belong in here," he fumed, "any more 'an I belong in Congress."

And yet the old man was secretly proud of his acquisition. He seemed all
at once to be lifted from his realm of petty tradesman to that of patron
of art. There was a hidden dignity in his scowling as he shuffled about
pondering the least ridiculous place for the picture.

It is not fair to the picture to try repainting it in words, for words
reduce it to a lithograph. It was a bit of a pine forest, through which
there exuberantly rushed an unspoiled little mountain stream. Chromos
and works of art may deal with kindred subjects. There is just that one
difference of dealing with them differently. "It ain't what you _see_,
so much as what you can guess is there," was the thought it brought to
the old man who was dusting it. "Now this frame ain't three feet long,
but it wouldn't surprise me a bit if that timber kept right on for a
hundred miles. I kind of suspect it's on a mountain--looks cool enough
in there to be on a mountain. Wish I was there. Bet they never see no
such days as we do in Chicago. Looks as though a man might call his soul
his own--out there."

He began removing some views of Lincoln Park and some corpulent Cupids
in order to make room in the window for the new picture. When he went
outside to look at it he shook his head severely and hastened in to take
away some ardent young men and women, some fruit and flowers and fish
which he had left thinking they might "set it off." It was evident that
the new picture did not need to be "set off." "And anyway," he told
himself, in vindication of entrusting all his goods to one bottom, "I
might as well take them out, for the new one makes them look so kind of
sick that no one would have them, anyhow." Then he went back to mounting
views with the serenity of one who stands for the finer things.

His clamorous little clock pointed to a quarter of six when he finally
came back to the front of the store. It was time to begin closing up
for the night, but for the minute he stood there watching the crowd
of workers coming from the business district not far away over to the
boarding-house region, a little to the west. He watched them as they
came by in twos and threes and fours: noisy people and worn-out people,
people hilarious and people sullen, the gaiety and the weariness, the
acceptance and the rebellion of humanity--he saw it pass. "As if any of
_them_ could buy it," he pronounced severely, adding, contemptuously,
"or wanted to."

The girl was coming along by herself. He watched her as she crossed to
his side of the street, thinking it was too bad for a poor girl to be
as tired as that. She was dressed like many of the rest of them, and
yet she looked different--like the picture and the chromo. She turned an
indifferent glance toward the window, and then suddenly she stood there
very still, and everything about her seemed to change. "For all the
world," he told himself afterward, "as if she'd found a long-lost
friend, and was 'fraid to speak for fear it was too good to be true."

She did seem afraid to speak--afraid to believe. For a minute she stood
there right in the middle of the sidewalk, staring at the picture. And
when she came toward the window it was less as if coming than as if
drawn. What she really seemed to want to do was to edge away; yet she
came closer, as close as she could, her eyes never leaving the picture,
and then fear, or awe, or whatever it was made her look so queer
gave way to wonder--that wondering which is ready to open the door to
delight. She looked up and down the street as one rubbing one's eyes to
make sure of a thing, and then it all gave way to a joy which lighted
her pale little face like--"Well, like nothing I ever saw before," was
all the old man could say of it. "Why, she'd never know if the whole
fire department was to run right up here on the sidewalk," he gloated.
Just then she drew herself up for a long breath. "See?" he chuckled,
delightedly. "She knows it has a smell!" She looked toward the door,
but shook her head. "Knows she can't pay the price," he interpreted her.
Then, she stepped back and looked at the number above the door. "Coming
again," he made of that; "ain't going to run no chances of losing the
place." And then for a long time she stood there before the picture, so
deeply and so strangely quiet that he could not translate her. "I can't
just get the run of it," was his bewildered conclusion. "I don't see why
it should make anybody act like that." And yet he must have understood
more than he knew, for suddenly he was seeing her through a blur of
tears.

As he began shutting up for the night he was so excited about the way
she looked when she finally turned away that it never occurred to him to
be depressed about her inability to pay the price.

He kept thinking of her, wondering about her, during the next day. At
a little before six he took up his station near the front window.
Once more the current of workers flowed by. "I'm an old fool," he told
himself, irritated at the wait; "as if it makes any difference whether
she comes or not--when she can't buy it, anyhow. She's just as big a
fool as I am--liking it when she can't have it, only I'm the biggest
fool of all--caring whether she likes it or not." But just then the
girl passed quickly by a crowd of girls who were ahead of her and came
hurrying across the street. She was walking fast, and looked excited and
anxious. "Afraid it might be gone," he said--adding, grimly: "Needn't
worry much about that."

She came up to the picture as some people would enter a church. And yet
the joy which flooded her face is not well known to churches. "I'll tell
you what it's like"--the old man's thoughts stumbling right into the
heart of it--"it's like someone that's been wandering round in a desert
country all of a sudden coming on a spring. She's _thirsty_--she's
drinking it in--she can't get enough of it. It's--it's the water of life
to her!" And then, ashamed of saying a thing that sounded as if it were
out of a poem, he shook his shoulders roughly as if to shake off a piece
of sentiment unbecoming his age and sex.

He went to the door and watched her as she passed away. "I'll bet she'd
never tip the scale to one hundred pounds," he decided. "Looks like a
good wind could blow her away." She stooped a little and just as she
passed from sight he saw that she was coughing.

Then the old man made what he prided himself was a great deduction.
"She's been there, and she wants to go back. This kind of takes her back
for a minute, and when she gets the breath of it she ain't so homesick."

All through those July days he watched each night for the frail-looking
little girl who liked the picture of the pines. She would always come
hurrying across the street in the same eager way, an eagerness close
to the feverish. But the tenseness would always relax as she saw the
picture. "She never looks quite so wilted down when she goes away as
she does when she comes," the old man saw. "Upon my soul, I believe she
really _goes_ there. It's--oh, Lord"--irritated at getting beyond his
depth--"_I_ don't know!"

He never called it anything now but "Her Picture." One day at just ten
minutes of six he took it out of the window. "Seems kind of mean," he
admitted, "but I just want to find out how much she does think of it."

And when he found out he told himself that of all the mean men God had
ever let live, he was the meanest. The girl came along in the usual
hurried, anxious fashion. And when she saw the empty window he thought
for a minute she was going to sink right down there on the sidewalk.
Everything about her seemed to give way--as if something from which she
had been drawing had been taken from her. The luminousness gone from
her face, there were cruel revelations. "Blast my _soul!_" the old man
muttered angrily, not far from tearfully. She looked up and down the
noisy, dirty, parched street, then back to the empty window. For a
minute she just stood there--that was the worst minute of all. And
then--accepting--she turned and walked slowly away, walked as the
too-weary and the too-often disappointed walk.

It was with not wholly steady hand that the old man hastened to replace
the picture, all the while telling himself what he thought of himself:
more low-down than the cat who plays with the mouse, meaner than the
man who'd take the bone from the dog, less to be loved than the man who
would kick over the child's play-house, only to be compared with the
brute who would snatch the cup of water from the dying--such were the
verdicts he pronounced. He thought perhaps she would come back, and
stayed there until almost seven, waiting for her, though pretending
it was necessary that he take down and then put up again the front
curtains. All the next day he was restless and irritable. As if to make
up to the girl for the contemptible trick he had played he spent a whole
hour that afternoon arranging a tapestry background for the picture.
"She'll think," he told himself, "that this was why it was out, and
won't be worried about its being gone again. This will just be a little
sign to her that it's here to stay."

He began his watch that night at half-past five. After fifteen minutes
the thought came to him that she might be so disheartened she would go
home by another street. He became so gloomily certain she would do this
that he was jubilant when he finally saw her coming along on the other
side--coming purposelessly, shorn of that eagerness which had always
been able, for the moment, to vanquish the tiredness. But when she came
to the place where she always crossed the street she only stood there an
instant and then, a little more slowly, a little more droopingly, walked
on. She had given up! She was not coming over!

But she did come. After she had gone a few steps she hesitated again and
this time started across the street. "That's right," approved the old
man, "never give up the ship!"

She passed the store as if she were not going to look in; she seemed
trying not to look, but her head turned--and she saw the picture. First
her body seemed to stiffen, and then something--he couldn't make out
whether or not it was a sob--shook her, and as she came toward the
picture on her white, tired face were the tears.

"Don't you worry," he murmured affectionately to her retreating form,
"it won't never be gone again."

The very next week he was put to the test. The kind of lady who did
not often pass along that street entered the shop and asked to see the
picture in the window. He looked at her suspiciously. Then he frowned at
her, as he stood there, fumbling. _Her_ picture! What would she think?
What would she do? Then a crafty smile stole over his face and he walked
to the window and got the picture. "The price of this picture, madame,"
he said, haughtily, "is forty dollars,"--adding to himself, "That'll fix
her."

But the lady made no comment, and stood there holding the picture up
before her. "I will take it," she said, quietly.

He stared at her stupidly. Forty dollars! Then it must be that the
picture was better than the young man had known. "Will you wrap it,
please?" she asked. "I will take it with me."

He turned to the back of the store. Forty dollars!--he kept repeating
it in dazed fashion. And they had raised the rent on him, and the
papers said coal would be high that winter--those facts seemed to have
something to do with forty dollars. _Forty dollars!_--it was hammering
at him, overwhelmed him, too big a sum to contend with. With long, grim
stroke he tore off the wrapping paper; stoically he began folding it.
But something was the matter. The paper would not go on right. Three
times he took it off, and each time he could not help looking down at
the picture of the pines. And each time the forest seemed to open a
little farther; each time it seemed bigger--bigger even than forty
dollars; it seemed as if it _knew things_--things more important than
even coal and rent. And then the strangest thing of all happened: the
forest faded away into its own shadowy distances, and in its place was
a noisy, crowded, sun-baked street, and across the street was eagerly
hurrying an anxious little girl, a frail little wisp of a girl who
probably should not be crossing hot, noisy streets at all--then a
light in tired eyes, a smile upon a worn face, relief as from a
cooling breeze--and _anyway_, suddenly furious at the lady, furious at
himself--"he'd be gol-_darned_ if it wasn't _her_ picture!"

He walked firmly back to the front of the store.

"I forgot at first," he said, brusquely, "that this picture belongs to
someone else."

The lady looked at him in astonishment. "I do not understand," she said.

"There's nothing to understand," he fairly shouted, "except that it
belongs to someone else!"

She turned away, but came back to him. "I will give you fifty dollars
for it," she said, in her quiet way.

"Madame," he thundered at her, "you can stand there and offer me five
hundred dollars, and I'm here to tell you that this picture is not for
sale. Do you _hear_?"

"I certainly do," replied the lady, and walked from the store.

He was a long time in cooling off. "I tell you," he stormed to a
very blue Lake Michigan he was putting into a frame, "it's hers--it's
_hern_--and anybody that comes along here with any nonsense is just
going to hear from _me_!"

In the days which followed he often thought to go out and speak to her,
but perhaps the old man had a restraining sense of values. He planned
some day to go out and tell her the picture was hers, but that seemed
a silly thing to tell her, for surely she knew it anyway. He worried a
good deal about her cough, which seemed to be getting worse, and he had
it all figured out that when cold weather came he would have her come in
where it was warm, and take her look in there. He felt that he knew
all about her, and though he did not know her name, though he had never
heard her speak one word, in some ways he felt closer to her than to any
one else in the world.

Yet if the old man had known just how it was with the girl it is
altogether unlikely that he would have understood. It would have
mystified and disappointed him had he known that she had never seen a
pine forest or a mountain in her life. Indeed there was a great deal
about the little girl which the old man, together with almost all the
rest of the world, would not have understood.

Not that the surface facts about her were either incomprehensible or
interesting. The tale of her existence would sound much like that of
a hundred other girls in the same city. Inquiry about her would have
developed the facts that she did typewriting for a land company, that
she did not seem to have any people, and lived at a big boarding-house.
At the boarding-house they would have told you that she was a nice
little thing, quiet as a mouse, and that it was too bad she had to work,
for she seemed more than half sick. There the story would have rested,
and the real things about her would not have been touched.

She worked for the Chicago branch of a big Northwestern land company.
They dealt in the lands of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The
things she sat at her typewriter and wrote were of the wonders of that
great country: the great timber lands, the valleys and hills, towering
mountain peaks and rushing rivers. She typewrote "literature" telling
how there was a chance for every man out there, how the big, exhaustless
land was eager to yield of its store to all who would come and seek. Day
after day she wrote those things telling how the sick were made well
and the poor were made rich, how it was a land of indescribable wonders
which the feeble pen could not hope to portray.

And the girl with whom almost everything in life had gone wrong came to
think of Out There as the place where everything was right. It was the
far country where there was no weariness nor loneliness, the land where
one did not grow tired, where one never woke up in the morning too tired
to get up, where no one went to bed at night too tired to go to sleep.
The street-cars did not ring their gongs so loud Out There, the newsboys
had pleasant voices, and there were no elevated trains. It was a pure,
high land which knew no smoke nor dirt, a land where great silences drew
one to the heart of peace, where the people in the next room did not
come in and bang things around late at night. Out There was a wide land
where buildings were far apart and streets were not crowded. Even the
horses did not grow tired Out There. Oh, it was a land where dreams
came true--a beautiful land where no one ate prunes, where the gravy was
never greasy and the potatoes never burned. It was a land of flowers and
birds and lovely people--a land of wealth and health and many smiles.

Her imagination made use of it all. She knew how men were reclaiming the
desert of Idaho, of the tremendous undeveloped wealth of what had been
an almost undiscovered State. She thrilled to the poetry of irrigation.
Often when hot and tired and dusty her fancy would follow the little
mountain stream from its birth way up in the clouds, her imagination
rushing with it through sweetening forest and tumbling with it down
cooling rocks until finally strong, bold, wise men guided it to the
desert which had yearned for it through all the years, and the grateful
desert smiled rich smiles of grain and flowers. She could make it more
like a story than any story in any book. And she could always breathe
better in thinking of the pine forests of Oregon. There was something
liberating--expanding--in just the thought of them. She dreamed cooling
dreams about them, dreams of their reaching farther than one's fancy
could reach, big widening dreams of their standing there serene in the
consciousness of their own immensity. They stood to her for a beautiful
idea: the idea of space, of room--room for everybody, and then much more
room! Even one's understanding grew big as one turned to them.

And she loved to listen for the Pacific Ocean, coming from
incomprehensible distances and unknowable countries, now rushing with
passion to the wild coast of Oregon, again stealing into the Washington
harbours. She loved to address the letters to Portland, Seattle,
Spokane, Tacoma--all those pulsing, vivid cities of a country of big
chances and big beauty. She loved to picture Seattle, a city builded
upon many hills--how wonderful that a city should be builded upon
hills!--in Chicago there was nothing that could possibly be thought of
as a hill. And she loved to shut her eyes and let the great mountain
peak grow in the distance, as one could see it from Portland--how noble
a thing to see a mountain peak from a city! Sometimes she trembled
before that consciousness of a mountain. Often when so tired she
scarcely knew what she was doing she found she was saying her prayers
to a mountain. Indeed, Out There seemed the place to send one's
prayers--for was it not a place where prayers were answered?

During that summer when the West was overrun with tourists who grumbled
about everything from the crowded trains to the way in which sea-foods
were served, this little girl sat in one of the hot office buildings of
Chicago and across the stretch of miles drew to herself the spirit of
that country of coming days. Thousands rode in Pullman cars along the
banks of the Columbia--saw, and felt not; she sat before her typewriter
in a close, noisy room and heard the cooling rush of waters and got the
freeing message of the pines. In some rare moments when she rose from
the things about her to the things of which she dreamed she possessed
the whole great land, and as the sultry days sapped of her meagre
strength, and the bending over the typewriter cramped an already too
cramped chest she clung with a more and more passionate tenacity to the
bigness and the beauty and rightness of things Out There. And it was so
kind to her--that land of deep breaths and restoring breezes. It never
shut her out. It always kept itself bigger and more wonderful than one
could ever hope to fancy it.

And the night she found the picture she knew that it was all really
so. That was why it was so momentous a night. The picture was a dream
visualised--a dreamer vindicated. They had pictures in the office, of
course--some pictures trying to tell of that very kind of a place. But
those were just pictures; this _proved_ it, told what it meant. It
told that she had been right, and there was joy in knowing that she had
known. She clung to the picture as one would to that which proves as
real all one has long held dear, loved it as the dreamer loves that
which secures him in his dreaming.

She came to think of it as her own abiding place. Often when too tired
for long wings of fancy she would just sink down in the deep, cool
shadows of the pines, beside the little river which one knew so well was
the gift of distant snows. It rested her most of all; it quieted her.

She smiled sometimes to think how no one in the office knew about
it, wondered what they would think if they knew. Often she would find
someone in the office looking at her strangely. She used to wonder about
it a little.

And then one day Mr. Osborne sent for her to come into his office. He
acted so queerly. As she came in and sat down near his desk he swung his
chair around and sat there with his back to her. After that he got up
and walked to the window.

The head stenographer had complained of her cough. She said she did not
think it right either to the girl or to the rest of them for her to be
there. She said she hated to speak of it, but could not stand it any
longer. That had been the week before, and ever since he had been
putting it off. But now he could put it off no longer; the head
stenographer was valuable, and besides he knew that she was right.

And so he told her--this was all he could think of just then--that they
were contemplating some changes in the office, and for a time would have
less desk room. If he sent her machine to her home, would she be willing
to do her work there for a while? Hers was the kind of work that could
be done at home.

She was sorry, for she wondered if she could find a place in her room
for the typewriter, and it did not seem there would be air enough there
to last her all day long. And she had grown fond of the office, with its
"literature" and pictures and maps and the men who had just come from
Out There coming in every once in a while. It was a bond--a place to
touch realities. But of course there was nothing for her to do but
comply, and she made no comment on the arrangement.

She pushed her chair back and rose to go. "Are you alone in the world?"
he asked abruptly then,

"Yes; I--oh yes."

It was too much for him. "How would you like," he asked recklessly, "to
have me get you transportation out West?"

She sank back in her chair. Every particle of colour had left her
face. Her deep eyes had grown almost wild. "Oh," she gasped--"you can't
mean--you don't think--"

"You wouldn't want to go?"

"I mean"--it was but a whisper--"it would be--too wonderful."

"You would like it then?"

She only nodded; but her lips were parted, her eyes glowing. He wondered
why he had never seen before how different looking and--yes, beautiful,
in a strange kind of way--she was.

"I see you have a cold," he said, "and I think you would get along
better out there. I'll see if I can fix up the transportation, and get
something with our people in one of the towns that would be good for
you."

She leaned back in her chair and sat there smiling at him. Something in
the smile made him say, abruptly: "That's all; you may go now, and I'll
send a boy with your machine."

She walked through the streets as one who had already found another
country. More than one turned to look at her. She reached her room at
last and pulling her one little chair up to the window sat staring out
across the alley at the brick wall across from her. But she was not
seeing a narrow alley and a high brick wall. She was seeing rushing
rivers and mighty forests and towering peaks. She leaned back in her
chair--an indulgence less luxurious than it sounds, as the chair only
reached the middle of her back--and looked out at the high brick wall
and saw a snow-clad range of hills. But she was tired; this tremendous
idea was too much for her; the very wonder of it was exhausting. She lay
down on her bed--radiant, but languid. Soon she heard a rush of waters.
At first it was only someone filling the bath-tub, but after a while it
was the little stream which flowed through her forest. And then she was
not lying on a lumpy bed; she was sinking down under pine trees--all so
sweet and still and cool. But an awful thing was happening!--the forest
was on fire--it was choking and burning her! She awoke to find smoke
from the building opposite pouring into her room; flies were buzzing
about, and her face and hands were hot.

She did little work in the next few days. It was hard to go on with the
same work when waiting for a thing which was to make over one's whole
life. The stress of dreams changing to hopes caused a great languor to
come over her. And her chair was not right for her typewriter, and the
smoke came in all the time. Strangely enough Out There seemed farther
away. Sometimes she could not go there at all; she supposed it was
because she was really going.

At the close of the week she went to the office with her work. She was
weak with excitement as she stepped into the elevator. Would Mr. Osborne
have the transportation for her? Would he tell her when she was to go?

But she did not see Mr. Osborne at all. When she asked for him the clerk
just replied carelessly that he was not there. She was going to ask if
he had left any message for her, but the telephone rang then and the
man to whom she was talking turned away. Someone was sitting at her
old desk, and they did not seem to be making the changes they had
contemplated; everyone in the office seemed very busy and uncaring, and
because she knew her chin was trembling she turned away.

She had a strange feeling as she left the office: as if standing on
ground which quivered, an impulse to reach out her hand and tell someone
that something must be done right away, a dreadful fear that she was
going to cry out that she could not wait much longer.

All at once she found that she was crossing the street, and saw ahead
the little art store with the wonderful picture which proved it was all
really so. In the same old way, her step quickened. It would show her
again that it was all just as she had thought it was, and if that were
true, then it must be true also that Mr. Osborne was going to get her
the transportation. It would prove that everything was all right.

But a cruel thing happened. It failed her. It was just as beautiful--but
something a long way off, impossible to reach. Try as she would, she
could not get _into_ it, as she used to. It was only a picture; a
beautiful picture of some pine trees. And they were very far away, and
they had nothing at all to do with her.

Through the window, at the back of the store, she saw the old man
standing with his back to her. She thought of going in and asking to sit
down--she wanted to sit down--but perhaps he would say something cross
to her--he was such a queer looking old man--and she knew she would
cry if anything cross was said to her. That he had watched for her each
night, that he had tried and tried to think of a way of finding her,
that he would have been more glad to see her than to see anyone in the
world, would have been kinder to her than anyone on earth would have
been--those were the things she did not know. And so--more lonely than
she had ever been before--she turned away.

On Monday she felt she could wait no longer. It did not seem that it
would be _safe_. She got ready to go to see Mr. Osborne, but the getting
ready tired her so that she sat a long time resting, looking out at the
high brick wall beyond which there was nothing at all. She was counting
the blocks, thinking of how many times she would have to cross the
street. But just then it occurred to her that she could telephone.

When she came back upstairs she crept up on the bed and lay there very
still. The boy had said that Mr. Osborne was away and would be gone
two weeks. No one in the office had heard him say anything about her
transportation.

All through the day she lay there, and what she saw before her was a
narrow alley and a high brick wall. She had lost her mountains and her
forests and her rivers and her lakes. She tried to go out to them in the
same old way--but she could not get beyond the high brick wall. She was
shut in. She tried to draw them to her, but they could not come across
the wall. It shut them out. She tried to pray to the great mountain
which one could see from Portland. But even prayers could get no farther
than the wall.

Late that afternoon, because she was so shut in that she was choking,
because she was consumed with the idea that she must claim her country
now or lose it forever, she got up and started for the picture. It was
a long, long way to go, and dreadful things were in between--people who
would bump against her, hot, uneven streets, horses that might run over
her--but she must make the journey. She must make it because the things
that she lived on were slipping from her--and she was choking--sinking
down--and all alone.

Step by step, never knowing just how her foot was going to make the next
step, sick with the fear that people were going to run into her--the
streets going up and down, the buildings round and round, she did
go; holding to the window casings for the last few steps--each step
a terrible chasm which she was never sure she was going to be able to
cross--she was there at last. And in the window as she stood there,
swayingly, was a dark, blurred thing which might have been anything at
all. She tried to remember why she had come. What _was_ it--? And then
she was sinking down into an abyss.

That the hemorrhage came then, that the old man came out and found her
and tenderly took her in, that he had her taken where she should have
been taken long before, that the doctors said it was too late, and that
soon their verdict was confirmed--those are the facts which would seem
to tell the rest of the story. But deep down beneath facts rests truth,
and the truth is that this is a story with the happiest kind of a happy
ending. What facts would call the breeze from an electric fan was in
truth the gracious breath of the pines. And when the nurse said "She's
going," she was indeed going, but to a land of great spaces and benign
breezes, a land of deep shadows and rushing waters. For a most wondrous
thing had happened. She had called to the mountain, and the mountain had
heard her voice; and because it was so mighty and so everlasting it drew
her to itself, across high brick walls and past millions of hurrying,
noisy people--oh, a most triumphant flight! And the mountain said--"I
give you this whole great land. It is yours because you have loved it so
well. Hills and valleys and rivers and forests and lakes--it is all for
you." Yes, the nurse was quite right; she was going: going for a long
sweet sleep beneath trees of many shadows, beside clear waters which had
come from distant snows--really going "Out There."



X

THE PREPOSTEROUS MOTIVE


The Governor was sitting alone in his private office with an open letter
in his hand. He was devoutly and gloomily wishing that some other man
was just then in his shoes. The Governor had not devoted a large portion
of his life to nursing a desire of that nature, for he was a man in
whose soul the flame of self-satisfaction glowed cheeringly; but just
now there were reasons, and he deemed them ample, for deploring that he
had been made chief executive of his native State.

Had he chosen to take you into his confidence--a thing the Governor
would assuredly choose not to do--he would have told you there were
greater things in the world than the governorship of that State. He
might have suggested a seat in the Senate of the United States as one
of those things. It was of the United States Senate his Excellency
was thinking as he sat there alone moodily deploring the gubernatorial
shoes.

The senior Senator was going to die. He differed therein from his
fellows in that he was going to die soon, almost immediately. He had
reached the tottering years even at the time of his reelection, and it
had never been supposed that his life would outstretch his term. He had
been sent back, not for another six years of service, but to hold out
the leader of the Boxers, as they called themselves--the younger and
unorthodox element of the party in the State, an element growing to
dangerous proportions. It was only by returning the aged Senator, whom
they held it would be brutal to turn down after a life of service to
the party, that the "machine" won the memorable fight of the previous
winter.

From the viewpoint of the machine, the Governor was the senior Senator's
logical successor. Had it not been for the heavy inroads of the Boxers,
his Excellency would even then have been sitting in the Senate Chamber
at Washington. It had not been considered safe to nominate the Governor.
Had his supporters conceded that the time was at hand for a change,
there would have been a general clamour for the leader of the
Boxers--Huntington, undeniably the popular man of the State. And so
they concocted a beautiful sentiment about "rounding out the veteran's
career," and letting him "die with his boots on"; and through the
omnipotence of sentiment, they won.

Down in his heart the venerable Senator was not seeking to die with his
boots on. He would have preferred sitting in a large chair before the
fire and reading quietly of what other men were doing in the Senate of
the United States. But they told him he must sacrifice that wish, for
if he retired he would be succeeded by a dangerous man. And the old man,
believing them, had gone dutifully back into the arena.

Now it seemed that a power outside man's control was declaring against
the well-laid plans of the machine. As the machine saw things, the time
was not ripe for the senior Senator to die. He had just entered upon his
new term, and the Governor himself had but lately stepped into a second
term. They had assumed that the Senator would live on for at least two
years, but now they heard that he was likely to die almost at once.
His Excellency could not very well name himself for the vacancy, and it
seemed dangerous just then to risk a call of the Assembly. They dared
not let the Governor appoint a weaker man, even if he would consent
to do so, for they would need the best they had to put up against the
leader of the Boxers. With the Governor, they believed they could win,
but the question of appointing him had suddenly become a knotty one.

The Governor himself was bowed with chagrin. He saw now that he had
erred in taking a second term, and he was not the man to enjoy reviewing
his mistakes. As he sat there reading and rereading the letter which
told him that the work of the senior Senator was almost done, he said to
himself that it was easy enough to wrestle with men, but a harder thing
to try one's mettle with fate. He spent a gloomy and unprofitable day.

Late in the afternoon a telegram reached the executive office. Styles
was coming to town that night, and wanted to see the Governor at the
hotel. Things always cleared when Styles came to town; and so, though
still unable to foresee the outcome, he brightened at once.

Styles was a railroad man, and rich. People to whom certain things were
a sealed book said that it was nice of Mr. Styles to take an interest in
politics when he had so many other things on his mind, and that he must
be a very public-spirited man. That he took an interest in politics,
no one familiar with the affairs of the State would deny. The orthodox
papers painted him as a public benefactor, but the Boxers arrayed him
with hoofs and horns.

The Governor and Mr. Styles were warm friends. It was said that their
friendship dated from mere boyhood, and that the way the two men had
held together through all the vicissitudes of life was touching and
beautiful--at least, so some people observed. There were others whose
eyebrows went up when the Governor and Mr. Styles were mentioned in
their Damon and Pythias capacity.

That night, in the public benefactor's room at the hotel, the Governor
and his old friend had a long talk. When twelve o'clock came they were
still talking; more than that, the Governor was excitedly pacing the
floor.

"I tell you, Styles," he expostulated, "I don't like it! It doesn't put
me in a good light. It's too apparent, and I'll suffer for it, sure as
fate. Mark my words, we'll all suffer for it!"

Mr. Styles was sitting in an easy attitude before the table. The public
benefactor never paced the floor; it did not seem necessary. He smoked
in silence for a minute; then raised himself a little in his chair.

"Well, have you anything better to offer?"

"No, I haven't," replied the Governor, tartly; "but it seems to me you
ought to have."

Styles sank back in his chair and for several minutes more devoted
himself to the art of smoking. There were times when this philanthropic
dabbler in politics was irritating.

"I think," he began presently, "that you exaggerate the unpleasant
features of the situation. It will cause talk, of course; but isn't it
worth it? You say it's unheard of; maybe, but so is the situation, and
wasn't there something in the copy-books about meeting new situations
with new methods? If you have anything better to offer, produce it; if
not, we've got to go ahead with this. And really, I don't see that it's
so bad. You have to go South to look after your cotton plantation; you
find now that it's going to take more time than you feel you should
take from the State; you can't afford to give it up; consequently, you
withdraw in favor of the Lieutenant-Governor. We all protest, but you
say Berriman is a good man, and the State won't suffer, and you simply
can't afford to go on. Well, we can keep the Senator's condition pretty
quiet here; and after all, he's sturdy, and may live on to the close
of the year. After due deliberation Berriman appoints you. A little
talk?--Yes. But it's worth a little talk. It seems to me the thing works
out very smoothly."

When Tom Styles leaned back in his chair and declared a thing worked
out very smoothly, that thing was quite likely to go. In three days the
Governor went South. When he returned, the newspaper men were startled
by the announcement that business considerations which he could not
afford to overlook demanded his withdrawal from office. Previous to this
time the Lieutenant-Governor and Mr. Styles had met and the result of
their meeting was not made a matter of public record.

As the Governor had anticipated, many things were said. Inquiries were
made into the venerable Senator's condition--which, the orthodox
papers declared, was but another example of the indecency of the
Boxer journals. The Governor went to his cotton plantation. The
Lieutenant-Governor went into office, and was pronounced a worthy
successor to a good executive. The venerable Senator continued to live.
As Mr. Styles had predicted, the gossip soon quieted into a friendly
hope that the Governor would realise large sums with his cotton.

It was late in the fall when the senior Senator finally succumbed. The
day the papers printed the story of his death, they printed speculative
editorials on his probable successor. When the bereaved family commented
with bitterness on this ill-concealed haste, they were told that it was
politics--enterprise--life.

The old man's remains lay in state in the rotunda of the State Capitol,
and the building was draped in mourning. Many came and looked upon the
quiet face; but far more numerous than those who gathered at his bier
to weep were those who assembled in secluded corners to speculate on the
wearing of his toga. It was politics--enterprise--life.

Mr. Styles told the Lieutenant-Governor to be deliberate. There was no
need of an immediate appointment, he said. And so for a time things went
on about the State-house much as usual, save that the absorbing topic
was the senatorial situation, and that every one was watching the new
chief executive. The retired Governor now spent part of his time in the
South, and part at home. The cotton plantation was not demanding all his
attention, after all.

It could not be claimed that John Berriman had ever done any great
thing. He was not on record as having ever risen grandly to an occasion;
but there may have been something in the fact that an occasion
admitting of a grand rising had never presented itself. Before he became
Lieutenant-Governor, he had served inoffensively in the State Senate for
two terms. No one had ever worked very hard for Senator Berriman's vote.
He had been put in by the machine, and it had always been assumed that
he was machine property.

Berriman himself had never given the matter of his place in the human
drama much thought. He had an idea that it was proper for him to vote
with his friends, and he always did it. Had he been called a tool, he
would have been much ruffled; he merely trusted to the infallibility of
the party.

The Boxers did not approach him now concerning the appointment of
Huntington. That, of course, was a fixed matter, and they were not young
and foolish enough to attempt to change it.

One day the Governor received a telegram from Styles suggesting that
he "adjust that matter" immediately. He thought of announcing the
appointment that very night, but the newspaper men had all left the
building, and as he had promised that they should know of it as soon as
it was made, he concluded to wait until the next morning.

Governor Berriman had a brother in town that week, attending a meeting
of the State Agricultural Society. Hiram Berriman had a large farm in
the southern part of the State. He knew but little of political methods,
and had primitive ideas about honesty. There had always been a strong
tie between the brothers, despite the fact that Hiram was fifteen years
the Governor's senior. They talked of many things that night, and the
hour was growing late. They were about to retire when the Governor
remarked, a little sleepily:

"Well, to-morrow morning I announce the senatorial appointment."

"You do, eh?" returned the farmer.

"Yes, there's no need of waiting any longer, and it's getting on to the
time the State wants two senators in Washington."

"Well, I suppose, John," Hiram said, turning a serious face to his
brother, "that you've thought the matter all over, and are sure you are
right?"

The Governor threw back his head with a scoffing laugh.

"I guess it didn't require much thought on my part," he answered
carelessly.

"I don't see how you figure that out," contended Hiram warmly. "You're
Governor of the State, and your own boss, ain't you?"

It was the first time in all his life that anyone had squarely
confronted John Berriman with the question whether or not he was his own
boss, and for some reason it went deep into his soul, and rankled there.

"Now see here, Hiram," he said at length, "there's no use of your
putting on airs and pretending you don't understand this thing. You know
well enough it was all fixed before I went in." The other man looked at
him in bewilderment, and the Governor continued brusquely: "The party
knew the Senator was going to die, and so the Governor pulled out and I
went in just so the thing could be done decently when the time came."

The old farmer was scratching his head.

"That's it, eh? They got wind the Senator was goin' to die, and so the
Governor told that lie about having to go South just so he could step
into the dead man's shoes, eh?"

"That's the situation--if you want to put it that way."

"And now you're going to appoint the Governor?"

"Of course I am; I couldn't do anything else if I wanted to."

"Why not?"

"Why, look here, Hiram, haven't you any idea of political obligation?
It's expected of me."

"Oh, it is, eh? Did you promise to appoint the Governor?"

"Why, I don't know that I exactly made any promises, but that doesn't
make a particle of difference. The understanding was that the Governor
was to pull out and I was to go in and appoint him. It's a matter of
honour;" and Governor Berriman drew himself up with pride.

The farmer turned a troubled face to the fire.

"I suppose, then," he said finally, "that you all think the Governor
is the best man we have for the United States Senate. I take it that in
appointing him, John, you feel sure he will guard the interests of the
people before everything else, and that the people--I mean the working
people of this State--will always be safe in his hands; do you?"

"Oh, Lord, no, Hiram!" exclaimed the Governor irritably. "I don't think
that at all!"

Hiram Berriman's brown face warmed to a dull red.

"You don't?" he cried. "You mean to sit there, John Berriman, and tell
me that you don't think the man you're going to put in the United States
Senate will be an honest man? What do you mean by saying you're going to
put a dishonest man in there to make laws for the people, to watch over
them and protect them? If you don't think he's a good man, if you don't
think he's the best man the State has"--the old farmer was pounding the
table heavily with his huge fist--"if you don't think that, in God's
name, _why do you appoint him_?"

"I wish I could make you understand, Hiram," said the Governor in an
injured voice, "that it's not for me to say."

"Why ain't it for you to say? Why ain't it, I want to know? Who's
running you, your own conscience or some gang of men that's trying to
steal from the State? Good God, I wish I had never lived to see the day
a brother of mine put a thief in the United States Senate to bamboozle
the honest, hard-working people of this State!"

"Hold on, please--that's a little too strong!" flamed the Governor.

"It ain't too strong. If a Senator ain't an honest man, he's a
thief; and if he ain't lookin' after the welfare of the people, he's
bamboozlin' them, and that's all there is about it. I don't know much
about politics, but I ain't lived my life without learning a little
about right and wrong, and it's a sorry day we've come to, John
Berriman, if right and wrong don't enter into the makin' of a Senator!"

The Governor could think of no fitting response, so he held his peace.
This seemed to quiet the irate farmer, and he surveyed his brother
intently, and not unkindly.

"You're in a position now, John," he said, and there was a kind of
homely eloquence in his serious voice, "to be a friend to the people.
It ain't many of us ever get the chance of doin' a great thing. We work
along, and we do the best we can with what comes our way, but most of
us don't get the chance to do a thing that's goin' to help thousands
of people, and that the whole country's goin' to say was a move for the
right. You want to think of that, and when you're thinkin' so much about
honour, you don't want to clean forget about honesty. Don't you stick
to any foolish notions about bein' faithful to the party; it ain't the
party that needs helpin'. No matter how you got where you are, you're
Governor of the State right now, John, and your first duty is to the
people of this State, not to Tom Styles or anybody else. Just you
remember that when you're namin' your Senator in the morning."

It was long before the Governor retired. He sat there by the fireplace
until after the fire had died down, and he was too absorbed to grow
cold. He thought of many things. Like the man who had preceded him in
office, he wished that some one else was just then encumbered with the
gubernatorial shoes.

The next morning there was a heavy feeling in his head which he thought
a walk in the bracing air might dispel, so he started on foot for the
Statehouse. A light snow was on the ground, and there was something
reassuring in the crispness of the morning. It would make a slave feel
like a free man to drink in such air, he was thinking. Snatches of
his brother's outburst of the night before kept breaking into his
consciousness but curiously enough they did not greatly disturb him. He
concluded that it was wonderful what a walk in the bracing air could do.
From the foot of the hill he looked up at the State-house, for the first
time in his experience seeing and thinking about it--not simply taking
it for granted. There seemed a nobility about it--in the building
itself, and back of that in what it stood for.

As he walked through the corridor to his office he was greeted with
cheerful, respectful salutations. His mood let him give the greetings a
value they did not have and from that rose a sense of having the trust
and goodwill of his fellows.

But upon reaching his desk he found another telegram from Styles. It
was imperatively worded and as he read it the briskness and satisfaction
went from his bearing. He walked to the window and stood there
looking down at the city, and, as it had been in looking ahead at
the State-house, he now looked out over the city really seeing and
understanding it, not merely taking it for granted. He found himself
wondering if many of the people in that city--in that State--looked to
their Governor with the old-fashioned trust his brother had shown. His
eyes dimmed; he was thinking of the satisfaction it would afford his
children, if--long after he had gone--they could tell how a great chance
had once come into their father's life, and how he had proved himself a
man.

"Will you sign these now, Governor?" asked a voice behind him.

It was his secretary, a man who knew the affairs of the State well, and
whom every one seemed to respect.

"Mr. Haines," he said abruptly, "who do you think is the best man we
have for the United States Senate?"

The secretary stepped back, dumfounded; amazed that the question should
be put to him, startled at that strange way of putting it. Then he told
himself he must be discreet. Like many of the people at the State-house,
in his heart Haines was a Boxer.

"Why, I presume," he ventured, "that the Governor is looked upon as the
logical candidate, isn't he?"

"I'm not talking about logical candidates. I want to know who you think
is the man who would most conscientiously and creditably represent this
State in the Senate of the United States."

It was so simply spoken that the secretary found himself answering it as
simply. "If you put it that way, Governor, Mr. Huntington is the man, of
course."

"You think most of the people feel that way?"

"I know they do."

"You believe if it were a matter of popular vote, Huntington would be
the new Senator?"

"There can be no doubt of that, Governor. I think they all have to admit
that. Huntington is the man the people want."

"That's all, Mr. Haines. I merely wondered what you thought about it."

Soon after that Governor Berriman rang for a messenger boy and sent a
telegram. Then he settled quietly down to routine work. It was about
eleven when one of the newspaper men came in.

"Good-morning, Governor," he said briskly "how's everything to-day?"

"All right, Mr. Markham. I have nothing to tell you to-day, except that
I've made the senatorial appointment."

"Oh," laughed the reporter excitedly, "that's all, is it?"

"Yes," replied the Governor, smiling too; "that's all!"

The reporter looked at the clock. "I'll just catch the noon edition," he
said, "if I telephone right away."

He was moving to the other room when the Governor called to him.

"See here, it seems to me you're a strange newspaper man!"

"How so?"

"Why, I tell you I've made a senatorial appointment--a matter of some
slight importance--and you rush off never asking whom I've appointed."

The reporter gave a forced laugh. He wished the Governor would not
detain him with a joke now when every second counted.

"That's right," he said, with strained pleasantness. "Well, who's the
man?"

The Governor raised his head. "Huntington," he said quietly, and resumed
his work.

"What?" gasped the reporter. "What?"

Then he stopped in embarrassment, as if ashamed of being so easily taken
in. "Guess you're trying to jolly me a little, aren't you, Governor?"

"Jolly you, Mr. Markham? I'm not given to 'jollying' newspaper
reporters. Here's a copy of the telegram I sent this morning, if you
are still sceptical. Really, I don't see why you think it so impossible.
Don't you consider Mr. Huntington a fit man for the place?"

But for the minute the reporter seemed unable to speak. "May I ask," he
fumbled at last, "why you did it?"

"I had but one motive, Mr. Markham. I thought the matter over and it
seemed to me the people should have the man they wanted. I am with them
in believing Huntington the best man for the place." He said it simply,
and went quietly back to his work.

For many a long day politicians and papers continued the search for "the
motive." Styles and his crowd saw it as a simple matter of selling out;
they knew, of course, that it could be nothing else. After their first
rage had subsided, and they saw there was nothing they could do, they
wondered, sneeringly, why he did not "fix up a better story." That was a
little _too_ simple-minded. Did he think people were fools? And even the
men who profited by the situation puzzled their brains for weeks trying
to understand it. There was something behind it, of course.



XI

HIS AMERICA


He hated to see the reporter go. With the closing of that door it seemed
certain that there was no putting it off any longer.

But even when the man's footsteps were at last sounding on the stairway,
he still clung to him.

"Father," he asked, fretfully, "why do you always talk to those
fellows?"

Herman Beckman turned in his chair and stared at his son. Then he
laughed. "Now, that's a fine question to come from the honour man of a
law school! I hope, Fritz, that your oration to-night is going to have a
little more sense in it than that."

The calling up of his oration made him reach out another clutching
hand to the vanished reporter. "But it's farcical, father, to be always
interviewed by a paper nobody reads."

"Nobody--_reads_?"

"Why, nobody cares anything about the _Leader_. It's dead."

Herman Beckman looked at his son sharply; something about him seemed
strange. He decided that he was nervous about the commencement
programme. Fritz had the one oration.

The boy had opened the drawer of his study table and was fingering some
papers he had taken out.

"Sure you know it?" the man asked with affectionate parental anxiety.

"Oh, I know it all right," Fred answered grimly, and again the father
decided that he was nervous about the thing. He wasn't just like
himself.

The man walked to the window and stood looking across at the university
buildings. Colleges had always meant much to Herman Beckman. The very
day Fritz was born he determined that the boy was to go to college. It
was good to witness the fulfilment of his dreams. He turned his glance
to the comfortable room.

"Pretty decent comfortable sort of place, isn't it, father?" Fred asked,
following his father's look and thought from the Morris chair to the
student's lamp, and all those other things which nowadays seem an
inevitable part of the acquirement of learning.

It made his father laugh. "Yes, my boy, I should call it decent--and
comfortable." He grew thoughtful after that.

"Pretty different from the place you had, father?"

"Oh--me? My place to study was any place I could find. Sometimes on top
of a load of hay, lots of times by the light of the logs. I've studied
in some funny places, Fritz."

"Well, you _got_ there, father!" the boy burst out with feeling. "By
Jove, there aren't many of them _know_ the things you know!"

"I know enough to know what I don't know," said the old man, a little
sadly. "I know enough to know what I missed. I wanted to go to college.
No one will ever know how I wanted to! I began to think I'd never feel
right about it. But I have a notion that when I sit there to-night
listening to you, Fritz, knowing that you're speaking for two hundred
boys, half of whose fathers did go to college, I think I'm going to feel
better about it then."

The boy turned away. Something in the kindly words seemed as the cut of
a whip across his face.

"Well, Fritz," his father continued, getting into his coat, "I'll
be going downtown. Leave you to put on an extra flourish or two." He
laughed in proud parental fashion. "Anyway, I have some things to see
about."

The boy stood up. "Father, I have something to tell you." He said it
shortly and sharply.

The father stood there, puzzled.

"You won't like my oration to-night, father."

And still the man did not speak. The words would not have bothered him
much--it was the boy's manner.

"In fact, father, you're going to be desperately disappointed in it."

The dull red was creeping into the man's cheeks. He was one to have
little patience with that thing of not doing one's work. "Why am I going
to be disappointed? This is no time to shirk! You should--"

"Oh, you'll not complain of the time and thought I've put on it,"
the boy broke in with a short, hard laugh. "But, you see, father--you
see"--his armour had slipped from him--"it doesn't express--your views."

"Did I ever say I wanted you to express 'my views'? Did I bring you up
to be a mouthpiece of mine? Haven't I told you to _think_?" But with a
long, sharp glance at his boy anger gave way. "Come, boy"--going
over and patting him on the back--"brace up now. You're acting like a
seven-year-old girl afraid to speak her first piece," and his big laugh
rang out, eager to reassure.

"You won't see it! You won't believe it! I don't suppose you'll
believe it when you hear it!" He turned away, overwhelmed by a sudden
realisation of just how difficult was the thing that lay before him.

The man started toward his son, but instead he walked over and sat down
at the opposite side of the table, waiting. He was beginning to see that
there was something in this which he did not understand.

At last the boy turned to him, fighting back some things, taking on
other things. He gazed at the care-worn, rugged face--face of a worker
and a dreamer, reading in those lines the story of that life, seeing
more clearly than he had ever seen before the beauty and futility of it.
Here was the idealist, the man who would give his whole lifetime to a
dream he had dreamed. He loved his father very tenderly as he looked at
him, read him, then.

"Father," he asked quietly, "are you satisfied with your life?"

The man simply stared--waiting, seeking his bearings.

"You came to this country when you were nineteen years old--didn't you,
father?" The man nodded. "And now you're--it's sixty-one, isn't it?"

Again he nodded.

"You've been in America, then, forty-two years. Father, do you think as
much of it now as you did forty-two years ago?"

"I don't know what you mean," the man said, searching his son's quiet,
passionate face. "I can't make you out, Fritz."

"My favourite story as a kid," the boy went on, "was to hear you tell of
how you felt when your boat came sailing into New York Harbour, and you
saw the first outlines of a country you had dreamed about all through
your boyhood, which you had saved pennies for, worked nights for, ever
since you were old enough to know the meaning of America. I mean," he
corrected, significantly, "the meaning of what you thought was America.

"It's a bully story, father," he continued, with a smile at once tender
and hard; "the simple German boy, born a dreamer, standing there looking
out at the dim shores of that land he had idealised. If ever a man came
to America bringing it rich gifts, that man was you!"

"Fritz," his father's voice was rendered harsh by mystification and
foreboding, "tell me what you're talking about. Come to the point. Clear
this up."

"I'm talking about American politics--your party--having ruined your
life! I'm talking about working like a slave all your days and having
nothing but a mortgaged farm at sixty-one! I'm talking about playing a
losing game! I'm saying, _What's the use?_ Father, I'm telling you that
_I'm_ going to join the other party and make some money!"

The man just sat there, staring.

"Well," the boy took it up defiantly, "why not?"

And then he moved, laid a not quite steady hand out upon the table. "My
boy, you're not well. You've studied too hard. Now brace yourself up
for to-night, and then we'll go down home and fix you up. What you need,
Fritz," he said, trying to laugh, "is the hayfield."

"You're not _seeing_ it!" The boy pushed back his chair and began moving
about the room. "The only way I can brace myself up for to-night is
to get so mad--father, usually you see things so easily! Don't you
understand? It was my chance, my one moment, my time to strike. It will
be years before I get such a hearing again. You see, father, the thing
will be printed, and the men I want to have hear it, the men who _own
this State_, will be there. One of them is to preside. And the story of
it, the worth of it, to them, is that I'm your son. You see, after all,"
he seized at this wildly, "I'm getting my start on the fact that I'm
your son."

"Go on," said the man; the brown of his wind-beaten face had yielded to
a tinge of grey. "Just what is it you are going to say?"

"I call it 'The New America,' a lot of this talk about doing things, the
glory of industrial America, the true Americans the men of constructive
genius, the patriotism of railroad and factory building, a eulogy of
railroad officials and corporation presidents," he rushed on with a
laugh. "Singing the song of Capital. Father, can't you see _why?_"

The old man had risen. "Tell me this," he said. "None of it matters
much, if you just tell me this: You _believe_ these things? You've
thought it all out for yourself--and you _feel_ that way? You're honest,
aren't you, Fritz?" He put that last in a whisper.

The boy made no reply; after a minute the man sank back to his chair.
The years seemed coming to him with the minutes.

Fred was leaning against the wall. "Father," he said at last, "I hope
you'll let me be a little roundabout. It's only fair to me to let me
ramble on a little. I've got to put it all right before you or--or--You
know, dad,"--he came back to his place by the table, "the first thing I
remember very clearly is those men, your party managers, coming down to
the farm one time and asking you to run for Governor. How many times is
it you've run for Governor, father?" He put the question slowly.

"Five," said the man heavily.

"I don't know which time this was; but you didn't want to. You were
sorry when you saw them coming. I heard some of the talk. You talked
about your farm, what you wanted to do that summer, how you couldn't
afford the time or the money. They argued that you owed it to the
party--they always got you there; how no other man could hold down
majorities as you could--a man like you giving the best years of his
life to holding down majorities! They said you were the one man against
whom no personal attack could be made. And when there was so much to
fight, anyway--oh, I know that speech by heart! They've made great
capital of your honesty and your clean life. In fact, they've held that
up as a curtain behind which a great many things could go on. Oh, _you_
didn't know about them; you were out in front of the curtain, but I
haven't lived in this town without finding out that they needed your
integrity and your clean record pretty bad!

"That was out on the side porch. Mother had brought out some buttermilk,
and they drank it while they talked. You put up a good fight. Your
time was money to you at that time of year; a man shouldn't neglect his
farm--but you never yet could hold out against that 'needing-you' kind
of talk. They knew there was no chance for your election. You knew it.
But it takes a man of just your grit to put any snap into a hopeless
campaign.

"Mother cried when you went to drive them back to town. You see, I
remember all those things. She told about how hard you would work, and
how it would do no good--that the State belonged to the other party.
She talked about the farm, too, and the addition she had wanted for the
house, and how now she wouldn't have it. Mother felt pretty bad that
night. She's gone through a lot of those times."

There was a silence.

"You were away a lot that summer, and all fall. You looked pretty
well used up when you came home, but you said that you had held down
majorities splendidly."

Again there was silence. It was the silences that seemed to be saying
the most.

"You had one term in Congress--that's the only thing you ever had. Then
you did so much that they concentrated in your district and saw to
it that you never got back. Julius Caesar couldn't have been elected
again," he laughed harshly.

"Father," the boy went on, after a pause, "you asked me if I were
honest. There are two kinds of honesty. The primitive kind--like
yours--and then the kind you develop for yourself. Do I believe the
things I'm going to say to-night? No--not now. But I'll believe them
more after I've heard the applause I'm sure to get. I'll believe them
still more after I've had my first case thrown to me by our railroad
friends who own this State. More and more after I've said them over in
campaigning next fall, and pretty soon I'll be so sure I believe them
that I really will believe them--and that," he concluded, flippantly,
"is the new brand of American honesty. Why, any smart man can persuade
himself he's not a hypocrite!"

"My _God!_" it wrenched from the man. "_This?_ If you'd stolen
money--killed a man--but hypocrisy, cant--the very thing I've fought
hardest, hated most! You lived all your life with me to learn _this?_"

"I lived all my life with you to learn what pays, and what doesn't. I
lived all my life with you to learn from failure the value of success."

"I never was sure I was a failure until this hour."

"Father! Can't you see--"

"Oh, don't _talk_ to me!" cried the old man, rising, reaching out his
fist as though he would strike him. "Son of mine sitting there telling
me he is fixing up a brand of honesty for himself!"

The boy grew quieter as self-restraint left his father. "I mean
that--just that," he said at last. "Let a man either give or get. If he
gives, let it be to the real thing. There are two Americas. The America
of you dreamers--and then the real America. Yours is an idea--an
idea quite as much as an ideal. I don't think you have the slightest
comprehension of how far apart it is from the real America. The people
who dream of it over in Europe are a great deal nearer it than you
people who work for it here. Father, the spirit of this country flows in
a strong, swift, resistless current. You never got into it at all.
Your kind of idealists influence it about as much--about as much as
red lights burned on the banks of the great river would influence the
current of that river. You're not _of_ it. You came here, throbbing
with the love for America; and with your ideal America you've fought
the real, and you've worked and you've believed and you've sacrificed.
Father, _what's the use?_ In this State, anyway, it's hopeless. It has
been so through your lifetime; it will be through mine."

The man sat looking at him. He felt that he should say something,
but the words did not come--held back, perhaps, by a sense of their
uselessness. It was not so much what Fred said as it was the look in his
eyes as he said it. There was nothing impetuous or youthful about that
look, nothing to be laughed at or argued away. He had always felt that
Fred had a mind which saw things straight, saw them in their right
relations, and at that moment he had no words to plead for what Fred
called the America of the dreamers.

"I'm of the second generation, dad," the boy went on, at length,
"and the second generation has an ideal of its own, and that ideal is
Success. It took us these forty years to come to understand the spirit
of America. You were a dreamer who loved America. I'm an American. We've
translated democracy and brotherhood and equality into enterprise and
opportunity and success--and that's getting Americanised. Now, father,"
he sought refuge in the tone of every-day things, "you'll get used to
it--won't you? I don't expect you to feel very good about it, but you
aren't going to be broken up about it--are you? After all, father,"
laughing and moving about as if to break the seriousness of things,
"there's nothing criminal about being one of the other fellows--is
there? Just remember that there _are_ folks who even think it's
respectable!" The father had risen and picked up his hat. "No, Fred," he
said, with a sadness in which there was great dignity, "there is nothing
criminal in it if a man's conviction sends him that way. But to me there
is something--something too sad for words in a man's selling his own
soul."

"Father! How extravagant! _Why_ is it selling one's soul to sit down
and figure out what's the best thing to do?" He hesitated, hating to
add hurt to hurt, not wanting to say that his father's fight should have
been with the revolutionists, that his life was ineffective because,
seeing his dream from within a dream, his thinking had been muddled. He
only said: "As I say, father, it's a question of giving or getting. I
couldn't even give in your way. And I've seen enough of giving to want
a taste of getting. I want to make things go--and I see my chance. Why
father," he laughed, trying to turn it, "there's nothing so American as
wanting to make things _go_."

He looked at him for a long minute. "My boy," he said, "I fear you are
becoming so American that I am losing you."

"Father," the boy pleaded, affectionately, "now don't--"

The old man held up his hand. "You've tried to make me understand it,"
he said, "and succeeded. You can't complain of the way you've succeeded.
I don't know why I don't argue with you--plead; there are things I could
say--should say, perhaps--but something assures me it would be useless.
I feel a good many years older than I did when I came into this room,
but the reason for it is not that you're joining the other party. You
know what I think of the men who control this State, the men with whom
you desire to cast your lot, but I trust the years I've spent fighting
them haven't made a bigot of me. It's not joining their party--it's
_using_ it--makes this the hardest thing I've been called upon to meet."

"Father, don't look like that! How do you think I am going to get up and
speak tonight with _that_ face before me?"

"You didn't think, did you," the man laughed bitterly, "that I would
inspire you to your effort?"

The boy stood looking at his father, a strange new fire in his eyes.

"Yes," he said, quietly, tenderly, "you will inspire me. When I get
up before those men tonight I'm going to see the picture of that boy
straining for his first glimpse of New York Harbour. I'm going to think
for just a minute of the things that boy brought with him--things he
has never lost. And then I'll see you as you stand here now---it will be
enough. What I need to do is to get mad. If I falter I'll just think
of some of those times when you came home from your campaigns--how you
looked--what you said. It will bring the inspiration. Father, I figure
it out like this. We're going to get it back. We're going to get what's
coming to us. There's another America than the America of you dreamers.
To yours you have given; from mine I will get. And the irony of
it--don't think I don't see the irony of it--is that I will be called
the real American. Do you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to make
the railroads of this State--oh, it sounds like schoolboy talk, but just
give me a little time--I'm going to make the railroads of this State
pay off every cent of that mortgage on your farm! Father," he finished,
impetuously, in a last appeal, "you're broken up now, disappointed, but
would you honestly want me to travel the road you've traveled?"

"My boy," answered the old man, and the tears came with it, "I wanted
you to travel the road of an honest man."

Herman Beckman did not go to the commencement exercises that night.
There was no train home until morning, so he had the night to spend in
town. He was alone, for his friends assumed that he would be out at the
university. But he preferred being alone.

He sat in his room at the hotel, reading. And he could read. Years of
discipline stood him in good stead now. His life had taught him to read
anywhere, at any time. He had never permitted himself the luxury of not
being "in the mood." It was only the men who had gone to college who
could do that. He _had_ to read. He always carried some little book with
him, for how did a man know that he might not have to wait an hour for
a train somewhere? The man had a simple-minded veneration for knowledge.
He wanted to know about things. And he had never learned to pretend that
he didn't want to know. He quite lacked the modern art of flippancy. He
believed in great books.

And so on the night that his son was being graduated from college he sat
in his room at the hotel--cheap room in a mediocre hotel; he had never
learned to feel at home in the rich ones--reading Marcus Aurelius. But
his hand as he turned the pages trembled as the hand of a very old man.
At midnight some reporters came in to ask him what he thought of his
son's oration. They wanted a statement from him.

He told them that he had never believed the sins of a parent should be
visited on a child, and that it was even so with the thought. He had
always contended that a man should do his own thinking. The contention
applied to his son.

"Gamey old brute!" was what one of the reporters said in the elevator.

He could not read Marcus Aurelius after that. He went to bed, but he did
not sleep. Many things passed before him. His anticipations, his dreams
for Fritz, had brought the warmest pleasure of his stern, unrelaxing
life. There was a great emptiness tonight. What was a man to turn to,
think about, when he seemed stripped, not only of the future, but of the
past? He seemed called upon to readjust the whole of his life, giving
up that which he had held dearest. What was left? Daylight found him
turning it over and over.

In the morning he went home. He got away without seeing any of his
friends.

He did not try to read this morning; somehow it seemed there was no use
in trying to read any more. He watched the country through which they
were passing, thinking of the hundreds of times he had ridden over it in
campaigning. He wondered, vaguely, just how much money he had spent on
railroad fare--he had never accepted mileage. Fred's "What's the use?"
kept ringing in his ears. There was something about that phrase which
made one feel very tired and old. It even seemed there was no use
looking out to see how the crops were getting on. _What's the use?
What's the use?_ Was that a phrase one learned in college?

There had been two things to tell "mother" that night. The first was
that he had stopped in town and told Claus Hansen he could have that
south hundred and sixty he had been wanting for two years.

It was not easy to tell the woman who had worked shoulder to shoulder
with him for thirty years, the woman who during those years had risen
with him in the early morning and worked with him until darkness rescued
the weary bodies, that in their old age they must surrender the fruit of
their toil. They would have left just what they had started with. They
had just held their own.

Coming down on the train he had made up his mind that if Hansen were
in town he would tell him that he could have the land. He felt so very
tired and old, so bowed down with Fred's "What's the use?" that he saw
that he himself would never get the mortgage paid off. And Fred had said
something about making the railroads pay it. He did not know just how
the boy figured that out--indeed, he was getting a little dazed about
the whole thing--but if Fritz had any idea of having the railroads pay
off the mortgage on _his_ farm--he couldn't forget how the boy looked
when he said it, face white, eyes burning--he would see to it right now
that there was no chance of that.

He tried not to look at the land as he drove past it on the way home. He
wondered just how much campaign literature it had paid for. He wondered
if he would ever get used to seeing Claus Hansen putting up his hay over
there in that field.

He had felt so badly about telling mother that he told it very bluntly.
And because he felt so sorry for her he said not one kind word, but just
sat quiet, looking the other way.

She was clearing off the table. He heard her scraping out the potato
dish with great care. Then she was coming over to him. She came
awkwardly, hesitatingly--her life had not schooled her in meeting
emotional moments beautifully--but she laid her hand upon him, patted
him on the shoulder as one would a child. "Never mind, papa--never you
mind. It will make it easier for us. There's enough left--and it will
make it easier. We're getting on--we're--" There she broke off abruptly
into a vigorous scolding of the dog, who was lifting covetous nostrils
to a piece of meat.

That was all. And there was no woman in the country had worked harder.
And Martha was ambitious; she liked land, and she did not like Claus
Hansen's wife.

Yes, he had had a good wife.

Then there was that other thing to tell her--about Fritz. That was
harder.

Mother had not gone up to the city to hear Fritz "speak" because her
feet were bothering her, and she could not wear her shoes. He had had a
vague idea of how disappointed she was, though she had said very little
about it. Martha never had been one to say much about things. When he
came back, of course she had wanted to know all about it, and he had put
her off. Now he had to tell her.

It was much harder; and in the telling of it he broke down.

This time she did not come over and pat his shoulder. Perhaps Martha
knew--likely she had never heard the word intuition, but, anyway, she
knew--that it was beyond that.

It seemed difficult for her to comprehend. She was bewildered to find
that Fritz could change parties all in a minute. She seemed to grasp,
first of all, that it was disrespectful to his father. Some boys at
school had been putting notions into his head.

But gradually she began to see it. Fritz wanted to make money. Fritz
wanted to have it easier. And the other people did "have it easier."

It divided her feeling: sorry and indignant for the father, secretly
glad and relieved for the boy. "He will have it easier than we had
it, papa," she said at the last. "But it was not right of Fritz," she
concluded, vaguely but severely.

As she washed the dishes Martha was thinking that likely Fritz's wife
would have a hired girl.

Then Martha went up to bed. He said that he would come in a few minutes,
but many minutes went by while he sat out on the side porch trying to
think it out.

The moon was shining brightly down on that hundred and sixty which Claus
Hansen was to have. And the moon, too, seemed to be saying: "What's the
use?"

Well, what _was_ the use? Perhaps, after all, the boy was right. What
had it all amounted to? What was there left? What had he done?

Two Americas, Fred had said, and his but the America of the dreamers. He
had always thought that he was fighting for the real. And now Fred said
that he had never become an American at all.

From the time he was twelve years old he had wanted to be an American.
A queer old man back in the German village--an old man, he recalled
strangely now, who had never been in America--told him about it. He told
how all men were brothers in America, how the poor and the rich loved
each other--indeed, how there were no poor and rich at all, but the
same chance for every man who would work. He told about the marvellous
resources of that distant America--gold in the earth, which men were
free to go and get, hundreds upon hundreds of miles of untouched forests
and great rivers--all for men to use, great cities no older than the men
who were in them, which men at that present moment were _making_--every
man his equal chance. He told of rich land which a man could have for
nothing, which would be _his_, if he would but go and work upon it. In
the heart of the little German boy there was kindled then a fire which
the years had never put out. His cheeks grew red, his eyes bright and
very deep as he listened to the story. He went home that night and
dreamed of going to America. And through the years of his boyhood, penny
by penny, he saved his money for America. It was his dream. It was
the passion of his life. More plainly than the events of yesterday, he
remembered his first glimpse of those wonderful shores--the lump in his
throat, the passionate excitement, the uplift. Leaning over the railing
of his boat, staring, searching, penetrating, worshipping, he lifted up
his heart and sent out his pledge of allegiance to the new land. How he
would love America, work for it, be true to it!

He had three dollars and sixty cents in his pocket when he stepped upon
American soil. He wondered if any man had ever felt richer. For had he
not reached the land where there was an equal chance for every man who
would work, where men loved each other as brothers, and where the earth
itself was so rich and so gracious in its offerings?

The old man crossed one leg over the other--slowly, stiffly. It made him
tired and stiff now just to think of the work he had done between that
day and this.

But there was something which he had always had--that something was
_his_ America. That had never wavered, though he soon learned that
between it and realities were many things which were wrong and
unfortunate. With the whole force and passion of his nature, with all
his single mindedness--would some call it simple mindedness?--he threw
himself into the fight against those things which were blurring men's
vision of his America. No work, no sacrifice was too great, for America
had enemies who called themselves friends, men who were striking heavy
blows at that equal chance for every man. When he failed, it was because
he did not know enough; he must work, he must study, he must think, in
order to make more real to other men the America which was in his heart.
He must fight for it because it was his.

And now it seemed that the end had come; he was old, he was tired, he
was not sure. Claus Hansen would have his land and his son would join
hands with the things which he had spent his life in fighting. And far
deeper and sadder and more bitter than that, he had not transmitted the
America of his heart even to his own son. He was not leaving someone to
fight for it in his stead, to win where he had failed. Fred saw in
it but a place for gain. "I lived all my life with you to learn from
failure the value of success." That was what he had given to his boy.
Yes, that was what he had bequeathed to America. Could the failure, the
futility of his life be more clearly revealed?

Twice Martha had called to him, but still he sat, smoking, thinking.
There was much to think about to-night.

Finally, it was not thought, but visions. Too tired for conscious
thinking, he gave himself up to what came--Fred's America, his America,
the America of the dreamers--and the things which stood between. The
America of the future---what would that America be?

At the last, taking form from many things which came and went, shaping
itself slowly, form giving place to new form, he seemed to see it grow.
Out beyond that land Claus Hansen was to have, a long way off, there
rose the vision of the America of the future--an America of realities,
and yet an America of dreams; for the dreamers had become the
realists---or was it that the realists had become dreamers? In the
manifold forms taken on and cast aside destroying dualism had made way
for the strength and the dignity and harmony of unity. He watched it as
breathlessly, as yearningly, as the nineteen-year-old boy had watched
the other America taking shape in the distance some forty years before.
"How did you come?" he whispered. "What are you?"

And the voice of that real America seemed to answer: "I came because for
a long-enough time there were enough men who held me in their hearts. I
came because there were men who never gave me up. I was won by men who
believed that they had failed."

Again there was a lump in his throat--once more an exultation flooded
all his being. For to the old man--tired, stiff, smitten though he had
been, there came again that same uplift which long before had come to
the boy. Was there not here an answer to "What's the use?" For he would
leave America as he came to it--loving it, believing in it. What were
the work and the failure of a lifetime when there was something in his
heart which was his? Should he say that he had fought in vain when
he had kept it for himself? It was as real, as wonderful--yes as
inevitable, as it had been forty years before. Realities had taken his
land, his career, his hopes for the boy. But realities had not stripped
him of his dream. The futility of the years could not harm the things
which were in his heart. Even in America he had not lost His America.

"Perhaps it is then that it is like that," he murmured, his vision
carrying him back to the days of his broken English. "Perhaps it is that
every man's America is in the inside of his own heart. Perhaps it is
that it will come when it has grown big--big and very strong--in the
hearts."



XII

THE ANARCHIST: HIS DOG


Stubby had a route, and that was how he happened to get a dog. For the
benefit of those who have never carried papers it should be thrown in
that having a route means getting up just when there is really some fun
in sleeping, lining up at the _Leader_ office--maybe having a scrap with
the fellow who says you took his place in the line--getting your papers
all damp from the press and starting for the outskirts of the city.
Then you double up the paper in the way that will cause all possible
difficulty in undoubling and hurl it with what force you have against
the front door. It is good to have a route, for you at least earn your
salt, so your father can't say _that_ any more. If he does, you know it
isn't so.

When you have a route, you whistle. All the fellows whistle. They may
not feel like it, but it is the custom--as could be sworn to by many
sleepy citizens. And as time goes on you succeed in acquiring the easy
manner of a brigand.

Stubby was little and everything about him seemed sawed off just a
second too soon,--his nose, his fingers, and most of all, his hair. His
head was a faithful replica of a chestnut burr. His hair did not lie
down and take things easy. It stood up--and out!--gentle ladies couldn't
possibly have let their hands sink into it--as we are told they do--for
the hands just wouldn't sink. They'd have to float.

And alas, gentle ladies didn't particularly want their hands to sink
into it. There was not that about Stubby's short person to cause
the hands of gentle ladies to move instinctively to his head. Stubby
bristled. That is, he appeared to bristle. Inwardly, Stubby yearned,
though he would have swung into his very best brigand manner on the spot
were you to suggest so offensive a thing. Just to look at Stubby you'd
never in a thousand years guess what a funny feeling he had sometimes
when he got to the top of the hill where his route began and could see
a long way down the river and the town curled in on the other side.
Sometimes when the morning sun was shining through a mist--making things
awful queer--some of the mist got into Stubby's squinty little eyes.
After the mist behaved that way he always whistled so rakishly and threw
his papers with such abandonment that people turned over in their beds
and muttered things about having that little heathen of a paper boy
shot.

All along the route are dogs. Indeed, routes are distinguished by their
dogs. Mean routes are those that have terraces and mean dogs; good
routes--where the houses are close together and the dogs run out and wag
their tails. Though Stubby's greater difficulty came through the wagging
tails; he carried in a collie neighbourhood, and all collies seemed
consumed with mighty ambitions to have routes. If you spoke to them--and
how could you _help_ speaking to a collie when he came bounding out to
you that way?--you had an awful time chasing him back, and when he got
lost--and it seemed collies spent most of their time getting lost--the
woman would put her head out next morning and want to know if you had
coaxed her dog away.

Some of the fellows had dogs that went with them on their routes. One
day one of them asked Stubby why he didn't have a dog and he replied in
surly fashion that he didn't have one 'cause he didn't want one. If he
wanted one, he guessed he'd have one.

And there was no one within ear-shot old enough or wise enough--or
tender enough?--to know from the meanness of Stubby's tone, and by his
evil scowl, that his heart was just breaking to own a dog.

One day a new dog appeared along the route. He was yellow and looked
like a cheap edition of a bull-dog. He was that kind of dog most
accurately described by saying it is hard to describe him, the kind you
say is just dog--and everybody knows.

He tried to follow Stubby; not in the trusting, bounding manner of the
collies--not happily, but hopingly. Stubby, true to the ethics of his
profession, chased him back where he had come from. That there might
be nothing whatever on his conscience, he even threw a stone after him.
Stubby was an expert in throwing things at dogs. He could seem to just
miss them and yet never hit them.

The next day it happened again; but just as he had a clod poised for
throwing, a window went up and a woman called: "For pity _sake_, little
boy, don't chase him back _here_."

"Why--why, ain't he yours?" called Stubby.

"Mercy, _no_. We can't chase him away."

"Who's is he?" demanded Stubby.

"Why, he's nobody's! He just hangs around. I wish you'd coax him away."

Well, that was a _new_ one! And then all in a heap it rushed over Stubby
that this dog who was nobody's dog could, if he coaxed him away--and the
woman _wanted_ him coaxed away--be his dog.

And because that idea had such a strange effect on him he sang out, in
off-hand fashion: "Oh, all right, I'll take him away and drown him for
you!

"Oh, little _boy_," called the woman, "why, don't _drown_ him!"

"Oh, all right, I'll shoot him then!" called obliging Stubby, whistling
for the dog--while all morning long the woman grieved over having sent a
helpless little dog away with that perfectly _brutal_ paper boy!

Stubby's mother was washing. She looked up from her tubs on the back
porch to say, "Wish you'd take that bucket--" then seeing what was
slinking behind her son, straightway assumed the role of destiny with,
"Git out o' here!"

Stubby snapped his fingers behind his back as much as to say, "Wait a
minute."

"A woman gave him to me," he said to his mother.

"_Gave_ him to you?" she scoffed. "I sh' think she would!"

Then something happened that had not happened many times in Stubby's
short lifetime. He acknowledged his feelings.

"I'd like to keep him. I'd like to have a dog."

His mother shook her hands and the flying suds seemed expressing her
scorn. "Huh! _That_ ugly good-for-nothing thing?"

The dog had edged in between Stubby's feet and crouched there. "He could
go with me on my route," said Stubby. "He'd kind of be company for me."

And when he had said that he knew all at once just how lonesome he had
been sometimes on his route, how he had wanted something to "kind of be
company" for him.

His face twitched as he stooped down to pat the dog. Mrs. Lynch looked
at her son--youngest of her five. Not the hardness of her heart but the
hardness of her life had made her unpractised in moments of tenderness.
Something in the way Stubby was patting the dog suggested to her that
Stubby was a "queer one." He _was_ kind of little to be carrying papers
all by himself.

Stubby looked up. "He could eat what's thrown away."

That was an error in diplomacy. The woman's face hardened. "Mighty
little'll be thrown away _this_ winter," she muttered.

But just then Mrs. Johnson appeared on the other side of the fence and
began hanging up her clothes and with that Mrs. Lynch saw her way to
justify herself in indulging her son. Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Lynch had
"had words." "You just let him stay around, Stubby," she called, and
you would have supposed from her tone it was Stubby who was on the other
side of the fence, "maybe he'll keep the neighbour's chickens out! Them
that ain't got chickens o' their own don't want to be bothered with the
neighbours'!"

That was how it happened that he stayed; and no one but Stubby knew--and
possibly Stubby didn't either--how it happened that he was named Hero.
It would seem that Hero should be a noble St. Bernard, or a particularly
mean-looking bulldog, not a stocky, shapeless, squint-eyed yellow dog
with one ear bitten half off and one leg built on an entirely different
plan from its fellow legs. Possibly Stubby's own spiritual experiences
had suggested to him that you weren't necessarily the way you looked.

The chickens were pretty well kept out, though no one ever saw Hero
doing any of it. Perhaps Hero had been too long associated with chasing
to desire any part in it--even with roles reversed. If Stubby could help
it, no one really saw Stubby doing the chasing either; he became skilled
in chasing when he did not appear to be chasing; then he would get Hero
to barking and turn to his mother with, "Guess you don't see so many
chickens round nowadays."

The fellows in the line jeered at Hero at first, but they soon tired of
it when Stubby said he didn't want the cur but his mother made him
stay around to keep the chickens out. He was a fine chicken dog, Stubby
grudgingly admitted. He couldn't keep him from following, said Stubby,
so he just let him come. Sometimes when they were waiting in line Stubby
made ferocious threats at Hero. He was going to break his back and wring
his head off and do other heartless things which for some reason he
never started in right then and there to accomplish.

It was different when they were alone--and they were alone a good deal.
Stubby's route wasn't nearly so long after he had Hero to go with him.
When winter came and five o'clock was dark and cold for starting out
it was pretty good to have Hero trotting at his heels. And Hero always
wanted to go; it was never so rainy nor so cold that that yellow dog
seemed to think he would rather stay home by the fire. Then Hero was
always waiting for him when he came home from school. Stubby would sing
out, "Hello, cur!" and the tone was such that Hero did not grasp that he
was being insulted. Sometimes when there was nobody about, Stubby
picked Hero up in his arms and squeezed him--Stubby had not had a large
experience with squeezing. At those times Hero would lick Stubby's face
and whimper a little love whimper and such were the workings of Stubby's
heart and mind that that made him of quite as much account as if he
really had chased the chickens. Stubby, who had seen the way dogs can
look at you out of their eyes, was not one to say of a dog, "What good
is he?"

But it seemed there were such people. There were even people who thought
you oughtn't to have a dog to love and to love you if you weren't one
of those rich people who could pay two dollars and a half a year for the
luxury.

Stubby first heard of those people one night in June. The father of the
Lynch family was sitting in the back yard reading the paper when Hero
and Stubby came running in from the alley. It was one of those moments
when Hero, forgetting the bleakness of his youth, abandoned himself to
the joy of living. He was tearing round and round Stubby, barking, when
Stubby's father called out: "Here!--shut up there, you cur. You better
lie low. You're going to be shot the first of August."

Stubby, and as regards the joy of living Hero had done as much for
Stubby as Stubby for Hero, came to a halt. The fun and frolic just
died right out of him and he stood there staring at his father, who had
turned the page and was settling himself to a new horror. At last Stubby
spoke. "Why's he going to be shot on the first of August?" he asked in a
tight little voice.

His father looked up. "Why's he going to be shot? You got any two
dollars and a half to pay for him?"

He laughed as though that were a joke. Well, it was something of a joke.
Stubby got ten cents a week out of his paper money. The rest he "turned
in."

Then he went back to his paper. There was another long pause before
Stubby asked, in that tight queer little voice: "What'd I have to pay
two dollars and a half for? Nobody owns him."

His parent stirred scornfully. "Suppose you never heard of a dog tax,
did you? S'pose they don't learn you nothing like that at school?"

Yes, Stubby did know that dogs had to have checks, but he hadn't
thought anything about that in connection with Hero. He ventured another
question. "You have to have 'em for all dogs, even if you just picked
'em up on the street and took care of 'em when nobody else would?"

"You bet you do," his parent assured him genially. "You pay your dog tax
or the policeman comes on the first of August and shoots your dog."

With that he dismissed it for good, burying himself in his paper. For a
minute the boy stood there in silence. Then he walked slowly round the
house and sat down where his father couldn't see him. Hero followed--it
was a way Hero had. The dog sat down beside the boy and after a couple
of minutes the boy's arm stole furtively around him and they sat there
very still for a long time.

As nobody but Hero paid much attention to him, nobody save Hero noticed
how quiet and queer Stubby was for the next three days. Hero must have
noticed it, for he was quiet and queer too. He followed wherever Stubby
would let him, and every time he got a chance he would nestle up to him
and look into his face--that way even cur dogs have of doing when they
fear something is wrong.

At the end of three days Stubby, his little freckled face set and grim,
took his stand in front of his father and came right out with: "I want
to keep one week's paper money to pay Hero's tax."

His father's chair had been tilted back against a tree. Now it came down
with a thud. "Oh, you _do_, do you?"

"I can earn the other fifty cents at little jobs."

"You _can_, can you? Now ain't you smart!"

The tone brought the blood to Stubby's face. "I think I got a right to,"
he said, his voice low.

The man's face, which had been taunting, grew ugly. "Look a-here, young
man, none o' your lip!"

The tears rushed to Stubby's eyes but he stumbled on: "I guess Hero's
got a right to some of my paper money when he goes with me every day on
my route."

At that his father stared for a minute and then burst into a loud laugh.
Blinded with tears, the boy turned to the house.

After she had gone to bed that night Stubby's mother heard a sound from
the alcove at the head of the stairs where her youngest child slept. As
the sound kept on she got out of her bed and went to Stubby's cot.

"Look here," she said, awkwardly but not unkindly, "this won't do. We're
poor folks, Freddie" (it was only once in a while she called him that),
"all we can do to live these times--we can't pay no dog tax."

As Stubby did not speak she added: "I know you've taken to the dog, but
just the same you ain't to feel hard to your pa. He can't help it--and
neither can I. Things is as they is--and nobody can help it."

As, despite this bit of philosophy Stubby was still gulping back sobs,
she added what she thought a master stroke in consolation. "Now you just
go right to sleep, and if they come to take this dog away maybe you can
pick up another one in the fall."

The sobs suddenly stopped and Stubby stared at her. And what he said
after a long stare was: "I guess there ain't no use in you and me
talking about it."

"That's right," said she, relieved; "now you go right off to sleep."
And she left him, never dreaming why Stubby had seen there was no use
talking about it.

Nor did he talk about it; but a change came over Stubby's funny little
person in the next few days. The change was particularly concerned with
his jaw, though there was something different, too, in the light in his
eyes as he looked straight ahead, and something different in his voice
when he said: "Come on, Hero."

He got so he could walk into a store and demand, in a hard little voice:
"Want a boy to do anything for you?" and when they said, "Got more boys
than we know what to do with, sonny," Stubby would say, "All right," and
stalk sturdily out again. Sometimes they laughed and said: "What could
_you_ do?" and then Stubby would stalk out, but possibly a little less
sturdily.

Vacation came the next week, and still he had found nothing. His father,
however, had been more successful. He found a place where they wanted a
boy to work in a yard a couple of hours in the morning. For that Stubby
was to get a dollar and a half a week. But that was to be turned in for
his "keep." There were lots of mouths to feed--as Stubby's mother was
always calling to her neighbour across the alley.

But the yard gave Stubby an idea, and he earned some dimes and one
quarter in the next week. Most folks thought he was too little--one kind
lady told him he ought to be playing, not working--but there were people
who would let him take a big shears and cut grass around flower beds,
and things like that. This he had to do afternoons, when he was supposed
to be off playing, and when he came home his mother sometimes said some
folks had it easy--playing around all day.

It was now the first week in July and Stubby had a dollar and twenty
cents. It was getting to the point where he would wake in the night and
find himself sitting up in bed, hands clenched. He dreamed dreams about
how folks would let him live if he had ninety-nine cents but how he only
had ninety-seven and a half, so they were going to shoot him.

Then one day he found Mr. Stuart. He was passing the house after having
asked three people if they wanted a boy, and they didn't, and seemed so
surprised at the idea of their wanting him that Stubby's throat was all
tight, when Mr. Stuart sang out: "Say, boy, want a little job?"

It seemed at first it must be a joke--or a dream--anybody asking him if
he _wanted_ one, but the man was beckoning to him, so he pulled himself
together and ran up the steps.

"Now here's a little package"--he took something out of the mail box.
"It doesn't belong here. It's to go to three-hundred-two Pleasant
street. You take it for a dime?"

Stubby nodded.

As he was going down the steps the man called: "Say, boy, how'd you like
a steady job?"

For the first minute it seemed pretty mean--making fun of a fellow that
way!

"This will be here every day. Suppose you come each day, about this
time, and take it over there--not mentioning it to anybody."

Stubby felt weak. "Why, all right," he managed to say.

"I'll give you fifty cents a week. That fair?"

"Yes, sir," said Stubby, doing some quick calculation.

"Then here goes for the first week"--and he handed him the other forty
cents.

It was funny how fast the world could change! Stubby wanted to run--he
hadn't been doing much running of late. He wanted to go home and get
Hero to go with him to Pleasant street, but didn't. No, _sir_, when you
had a job you had to 'tend to things!

Well, a person could do things, if he had to, thought Stubby. No use
saying you couldn't, you _could_, if you had to. He was back in tune
with life. He whistled; he turned up his collar in the old rakish way;
he threw a stick at a cat. Back home he jumped over the fence instead
of going in the gate--lately he had actually been using the gate. And
he cried, "Get out of my sight, you cur!" in tones which, as Hero
understood things, meant anything but getting out of his sight.

He was a little boy again. He slept at night as little boys sleep. He
played with Hero along the route--taught him some new tricks. His jaw
relaxed from its grown-upishness.

It was funny about those Stuarts. Sometimes he saw Mr. Stuart, but never
anybody else; the place seemed shut up. But each day the little package
was there, and every day he took it to Pleasant street and left it at
the door there--that place seemed shut up, too.

When it was well into the second week Stubby ventured to say something
about the next fifty cents.

The man fumbled in his pockets. Something in his face was familiar to
experienced Stubby. It suggested a having to have two dollars and a half
by August first and only having a dollar and a quarter state of mind.

"I haven't got the change. Pay you at the end of next week for the whole
business. That all right?"

Stubby considered. "I've got to have it before the first of August," he
said.

At that the man laughed--funny kind of laugh, it was, and muttered
something. But he told Stubby he would have it before the first.

It bothered Stubby. He wished the man had given it to him _then_. He
would rather get it each week and keep it himself. A little of the
grown-up look stole back.

After that he didn't see Mr. Stuart, and one day, a week or so later,
the package was not in the box and a man who wore the kind of clothes
Stubby's father wore came around the house and asked him what he was
doing.

Stubby was wary. "Oh, I've got a little job I do for Mr. Stuart."

The man laughed. "I had a little job I did for Mr. Stuart, too. You paid
in advance?"

Stubby pricked up his ears.

"'Cause if you ain't, I'd advise you to look out for a little job
some'eres else."

Then it came out. Mr. Stuart was broke; more than that, he was "off his
nut." Lots of people were doing little jobs for him--there was no sense
in any of them, and now he had suddenly been called out of town!

There was a trembly feeling through Stubby's insides, but outwardly he
was bristling just like his hair bristled as he demanded: "Where am I to
get what's coming to me?"

"'Fraid you won't get it, sonny. We're all in the same boat." He looked
Stubby up and down and then added: "Kind of little for that boat."

"I _got_ to have it!" cried Stubby. "I tell you, I _got_ to!"

The man shook his head. "_That_ cuts no ice. Hard luck, sonny, but we've
got to take our medicine in this world. 'Taint no medicine for kids,
though," he muttered.

Stubby's face just then was too much for him. He put his hand in his
pocket and drew out a dime, saying: "There now. You run along and get
you a soda and forget your troubles. It ain't always like this. You'll
have better luck next time."

But Stubby did not get the soda. He put the dime in his pocket and
turned toward home. Something was the matter with his legs--they acted
funny about carrying him. He tried to whistle, but something was the
matter with his lips, too.

Counting this dime, he now had a dollar and eighty cents, and it was the
twenty-eighth day of July. "Thirty days has September--April, June and
November--" he was saying to himself. Then July was one of the long
ones. Well, _that_ was a good thing! Been a great deal worse if July was
a short one. Again he tried to whistle, and that time did manage to pipe
out a few shrill little notes.

When Hero came running up the hill to meet him he slapped him on the
back and cried, "Hello, Hero!" in tones fairly swaggering with bravado.

That night he engaged his father in conversation--the phrase is well
adapted to the way Stubby went about it. "How is it about--'bout things
like taxes"--Stubby crossed his knees and swung one foot to show his
indifference--"if you have _almost_ enough--do they sometimes let you
off?"--the detachment was a shade less perfect on that last.

His father laughed scoffingly. "Well, I guess _not!_"

"I thought maybe," said Stubby, "if a person had _tried_ awful hard--and
had _most_ enough--"

Something inside him was all shaky, so he didn't go on. His father said
that _trying_ didn't have anything to do with it.

It was hard for Stubby not to sob out that he thought trying _ought_ to
have something to do with it, but he only made a hissing noise between
his teeth that took the place of the whistle that wouldn't come.

"Kind of seems," he resumed, "if a person would have had enough if they
hadn't been beat out of it, maybe--if he done the best he could--"

His father snorted derisively and informed him that doing the best you
could made no difference to the government; hard luck stories didn't go
when it came to the laws of the land.

Thereupon Stubby took a little walk out to the alley and spent a
considerable time in contemplation of the neighbour's chicken-yard. When
he came back he walked right up to his father and standing there, feet
planted, shoulders squared, wanted to know, in a desperate little voice:
"If some one else was to give--say a dollar and eighty cents for Hero,
could I take the other seventy out of my paper money?"

The man turned upon him roughly. "Uh-_huh_! _That's_ it, is it? _That's_
why you're getting so smart all of a sudden about government! Look
a-here. Just l'me tell you something. You're lucky if you git enough
to _eat_ this winter. Do you know there's talk of the factory shuttin'
down? _Dog_ tax! Why you're lucky if you git _shoes_."

Stubby had turned away and was standing with his back to his father,
hands in his pockets.

"And l'me tell you some'en else, young man. If you got any dollar and
eighty cents, you give it to your mother!"

As Stubby was turning the corner of the house he called after him:
"How'd you like to have me get you an automobile?"

He went doggedly from house to house the next afternoon, but nobody had
any jobs. When Hero came running out to him that night he patted him,
but didn't speak.

That evening as they were sitting in the back yard--Stubby and Hero
a little apart from the others--his father was discoursing with his
brother about anarchists. They were getting commoner, his father
thought. There were a good many of them at the shop. They didn't call
themselves that, but that was what they were.

"Well, what is an anarchist, anyhow?" Stubby's mother wanted to know.

"Why, an anarchist," her lord informed her, "is one that's against
the government. He don't believe in the law and order. The real bad
anarchists shoot them that tries to enforce the laws of the land. Guess
if you'd read the papers these days you'd know."

Stubby's brain had been going round and round and these words caught in
it as it whirled. The government--the laws of the land--why, it was the
government and the laws of the land that were going to shoot Hero! It
was the government--the laws of the land--that didn't care how hard you
had _tried_--didn't care whether you had been cheated--didn't care how
you _felt_--didn't care about anything except getting the money! His
brain got hotter. Well, _he_ didn't believe in the government, either.
He was one of those people--those anarchists--that were against the laws
of the land.

He'd done the very best he could and now the government was going
to take Hero away from him just because he couldn't get--_couldn't_
get--that other seventy cents.

Stubby's mother didn't hear her son crying that night. That was because
Stubby was successful in holding the pillow over his head.

The next morning he looked in one of the papers he was carrying to
see what it said about anarchists. Sure enough, some place way off
somewhere, the anarchists had shot somebody that was trying to enforce
the laws of the land. The laws of the land--that didn't _care_.

That afternoon as Stubby tramped around looking for jobs he saw a good
many boys playing with dogs. None of them seemed to be worrying about
whether their dogs had checks. To Stubby's hot little brain and sore
little heart came the thought that they didn't love their dogs any more
than he loved Hero, either. But the government didn't care whether he
loved Hero or not! Pooh!--what was that to the government? All it cared
about was getting the money. He stood for a long time watching a boy
giving his dog a bath. The dog was trying to get away and the boy and
another boy were having lots of fun about it. All of a sudden Stubby
turned and ran away--ran down an alley, ran through a number of alleys,
just kept on running, blinded by the tears.

And that night, in the middle of the night, that something in his head
going round and round, getting hotter and hotter, he decided that the
only thing for him to do was to shoot the policeman who came to take
Hero away on the morning of August first--that would be day after
to-morrow.

All night long policemen with revolvers stood around his bed. When his
mother called him at half-past four he was shaking so he could scarcely
get into his clothes.

On his way home from his route Stubby had to pass a police-station. He
went on the other side of the street and stood there looking across. One
of the policemen was playing with a dog!

Suddenly he wanted to rush over and throw himself down at that
policeman's feet--sob out the story--ask him to please, _please_ wait
till he could get that other seventy cents.

But just then the policeman got up and went in the station, and Stubby
was afraid to go in the police-station.

That policeman complicated things for Stubby. Before that it had been
quite simple. The policeman would come to enforce the law of the land;
but he did not believe in the law of the land, so he would just kill the
policeman. But it seemed a policeman wasn't just a person who enforced
the laws of the land. He was also a person who played with a dog.

After a whole day of walking around thinking about it--his eyes burning,
his heart pounding--he decided that the thing to do was to warn the
policeman by writing a letter. He did not know whether real anarchists
warned them or not, but Stubby couldn't get reconciled to the idea of
killing a person without telling him you were going to do it. It seemed
that even a policeman should be told--especially a policeman who played
with a dog.

The following letter was pencilled by a shaking hand, late that
afternoon. It was written upon a barrel in the Lynch wood-shed, on a
piece of wrapping paper, a bristly little head bending over it:

To the Policeman who comes to take my dog 'cause I ain't got the two
fifty--'cause I tried but could only get one eighty--'cause a man was
off his nut and didn't pay me what I earned--

This is to tell you I am an anarchist and do not believe in the
government or the law and the order and will shoot you when you come. I
wouldn't a been an anarchist if I could a got the money and I tried to
get it but I couldn't get it--not enough. I don't think the government
had ought to take things you like like I like Hero so I am against the
government.

Thought I would tell you first.

Yours truly,

F. LYNCH.

I don't see how I can shoot you 'cause where would I get the revolver.
So I will have to do it with the butcher knife. Folks are sometimes
killed that way 'cause my father read it in the paper.

If you wanted to take the one eighty and leave Hero till I can get the
seventy I will not do anything to you and would be very much obliged.

1113 Willow street.

The letter was properly addressed and sealed--not for nothing had
Stubby's teacher given those instructions in the art of letter writing.
The stamp he paid for out of the dime the man gave him to get a soda
with--and forget his troubles.

Now Bill O'Brien was on the desk at the police-station and Miss Murphy
of the Herald stood in with Bill. That was how it came about that the
next morning a fat policeman, an eager-looking girl and a young fellow
with a kodak descended into the hollow to 1113 Willow street.

A little boy peeped around the corner of the house--such a wild-looking
little boy--hair all standing up and eyes glittering. A yellow dog ran
out and barked. The boy darted out and grabbed the dog in his arms and
in that moment the girl called to the man with the black box: "Right
now! Quick! Get him!"

They were getting ready to shoot Hero! That box was the way the police
did it! He must--oh, he _must--must_ ... Boy and dog sank to the
ground--but just the same the boy was shielding the dog!

When Stubby had pulled himself together the policeman was holding Hero.
He said that Hero was certainly a fine dog--he had a dog a good
deal like him at home. And Miss Murphy--she was choking back sobs
herself--knew how he could earn the seventy cents that afternoon.

In such wise do a good anarchist and a good story go down under the same
blow. Some of those sobs Miss Murphy choked back got into what she wrote
about Stubby and his yellow dog and the next day citizens with no sense
of the dramatic sent money enough to check Hero through life.

At first Stubby's father said he had a good mind to lick him. But
something in the quality of Miss Murphy's journalism left a hazy feeling
of there being something remarkable about his son. He confided to his
good wife that it wouldn't surprise him much if Stubby was some day
President. Somebody had to be President, said he, and he had noticed
it was generally those who in their youthful days did things that made
lively reading in the newspapers.



XIII

AT TWILIGHT


A breeze from the May world without blew through the class-room, and as
it lifted his papers he had a curious sense of freshness and mustiness
meeting. He looked at the group of students before him, half smiling at
the way the breath of spring was teasing the hair of the girls sitting
by the window. Anna Lawrence was trying to pin hers back again, but May
would have none of such decorum, and only waited long enough for her
to finish her work before joyously undoing it. She caught the laughing,
admiring eyes of a boy sitting across from her and sought to conceal her
pleasure in her unmanageable wealth of hair by a wry little face, and
then the eyes of both strayed out to the trees that had scented
that breeze for them, looking with frank longing at the campus which
stretched before them in all its May glory that sunny afternoon. He
remembered having met this boy and girl strolling in the twilight the
evening before, and as a buoyant breeze that instant swept his own face
he had a sudden, irrelevant consciousness of being seventy-three years
old.

Other eyes were straying to the trees and birds and lilacs of that world
from which the class-room was for the hour shutting them out. He was
used to it--that straying of young eyes in the spring. For more than
forty years he had sat at that desk and talked to young men and women
about philosophy, and in those forty years there had always been
straying eyes in May. The children of some of those boys and girls had
in time come to him, and now there were other children who, before
many years went by, might be sitting upon those benches, listening to
lectures upon what men had thought about life, while their eyes strayed
out where life called. So it went on--May, perhaps, the philosopher
triumphant.

As, with a considerable effort--for the languor of spring, or some other
languor, was upon him too--he brought himself back to the papers they
had handed in, he found himself thinking of those first boys and girls,
now men and women, and parents of other boys and girls. He hoped that
philosophy had, after all, done something more than shut them out from
May. He had always tried, not so much to instruct them in what men had
thought, as to teach them to think, and perhaps now, when May had become
a time for them to watch the straying of other eyes, they were the less
desolate because of the habits he had helped them to form. He wanted to
think that he had done something more than hold them prisoners.

There was a sadness to-day in his sympathy. He was tired. It was hard
to go back to what he had been saying about the different things the
world's philosophers had believed about the immortality of the soul. So,
as often when his feeling for his thought dragged, he turned to Gretta
Loring. She seldom failed to bring a revival of interest--a freshening.
She was his favourite student. He did not believe that in all the years
there had been any student who had not only pleased, but helped him as
she did.

He had taught her father and mother. And now there was Gretta,
clear-eyed and steady of gaze, asking more of life than either of them
had asked; asking, not only May, but what May meant. For Gretta there
need be no duality. She was one of those rare ones for whom the meaning
of life opened new springs to the joy of life, for whom life intensified
with the understanding of it. He never said a thing that gratified him
as reaching toward the things not easy to say but that he would find
Gretta's face illumined--and always that eager little leaning ahead for
more.

She had that look of waiting now, but to-day it seemed less an expectant
than a troubled look. She wanted him to go on with what he had been
saying about the immortality of the soul. But it was not so much a
demand upon him--he had come to rely upon those demands, as it was--he
had an odd, altogether absurd sense of its being a fear for him. She
looked uncomfortable, fretted; and suddenly he was startled to see her
searching eyes blurred by something that must be tears.

She turned away, and for just a minute it seemed to leave him alone and
helpless. He rubbed his forehead with his hand. It felt hot. It got that
way sometimes lately when he was tired. And the close of that hour often
found him tired.

He believed he knew what she wanted. She would have him declare his own
belief. In the youthful flush of her modernism she was impatient with
that fumbling around with what other men had thought. Despising the
muddled thinking of some of her classmates, she would have him put it
right to them with "As for yourself--"

He tried to formulate what he would care to say. But, perhaps just
because he was too tired to say it right, the life the robin in the
nearest tree was that moment celebrating in song seemed more important
than anything he had to say about his own feeling toward the things men
had thought about the human soul.

It was ten minutes before closing time, but suddenly he turned to his
class with: "Go out-of-doors and think about it. This is no day to sit
within and talk of philosophy. What men have thought about life in the
past is less important than what you feel about it to-day." He paused,
then added, he could not have said why, "And don't let the shadow of
either belief or unbelief fall across the days that are here for you
now." Again he stopped, then surprised himself by ending, "Philosophy
should quicken life, not deaden it."

They were not slow in going, their astonishment in his wanting them to
go quickly engulfed in their pleasure in doing so. It was only Gretta
who lingered a moment, seeming too held by his manner in sending her out
into the sunshine to care about going there. He thought she was going to
come to the desk and speak to him. He was sure she wanted to. But at the
last she went hastily, and he thought, just before she turned her face
away, that it was a tear he saw on her lashes.

Strange! Was she unhappy, she through whom life surged so richly? And
yet was it not true, that where it gave much it exacted much? Feeling
much, and understanding what she felt, and feeling for what she
understood--must she also suffer much? Must one always pay?

He sighed, and began gathering together his papers. Thoughts about life
tired him to-day.

On the steps he paused, unreasonably enough a little saddened as he
watched some of them beginning a tennis game. Certainly they were losing
no time--eager to let go thoughts about life for its pleasures, very few
of them awake to that rich life he had tried to make them ready for.
He drooped still more wearily at the thought that perhaps the most real
gift he had for them was that unexpected ten minutes.

Remembering a book he must have from the library, he turned back. He
went to the alcove where the works on philosophy were to be found, and
was reaching up for the volume he wanted, when a sentence from a lowly
murmured conversation in the next aisle came to him across the stack of
books.

"That's all very well; we know, of course, that he doesn't believe, but
what will he do when it comes to _himself?_"

It arrested him, coming as it did from one of the girls who had just
left his class-room. He stood there motionless, his hand still reaching
up for the book.

"Do? Why, face it, of course. Face it as squarely as he's faced every
other fact of life."

That was Gretta, and though, mindful of the library mandate for silence,
her tone was low, it was vibrant with a fine scorn.

"Well," said the first speaker, "I guess he'll have to face it before
very long."

That was not answered; there was a movement on the other side of the
barricade of books--it might have been that Gretta had turned away. His
hand dropped down from the high shelf. He was leaning against the books.

"Haven't you noticed, Gretta, how he's losing his grip?"

At that his head went up sharply; he stood altogether tense as he waited
for Gretta to set the other girl right--Gretta, so sure-seeing, so much
wiser and truer than the rest of them. Gretta would _laugh!_

But she did not laugh. And what his strained ear caught at last was--not
her scornful denial, but a little gasp of breath suggesting a sob.

"_Noticed_ it? Why it breaks my heart!"

He stared at the books through which her low, passionate voice had
carried. Then he sank to the chair that fortunately was beside him.
Power for standing had gone from him.

"Father says--father's on the board, you know" (it was the first girl
who spoke)--"that they don't know what to do about it. It's not justice
to the school to let him begin another year. These things are arranged
with less embarrassment in the big schools, where a man begins emeritus
at a certain time. Though of course they'll pension him--he's done a lot
for the school."

He thanked Gretta for her little laugh of disdain. The memory of it was
more comforting--more satisfying--than any attempt to put it into words
could have been.

He heard them move away, their skirts brushing the book-stacks in
passing. A little later he saw them out in the sunshine on the campus.
Gretta joined one of the boys for a game of tennis. Motionless, he sat
looking out at her. She looked so very young as she played.

For an hour he remained at the table in the alcove where he had
overheard what his students had to say of him. And when the hour had
gone by he took up the pen which was there upon the study table and
wrote his resignation to the secretary of the board of trustees. It was
very brief--simply that he felt the time had come when a younger man
could do more for the school than he, and that he should like his
resignation to take effect at the close of the present school year. He
had an envelope, and sealed and stamped the letter--ready to drop in the
box in front of the building as he left. He had always served the school
as best he could; he lost no time now, once convinced, in rendering
to it the last service he could offer it--that of making way for the
younger man.

Looking things squarely in the face, and it was the habit of a lifetime
to look things squarely in the face, he had not been long in seeing that
they were right. Things tired him now as they had not once tired him. He
had less zest at the beginning of the hour, more relief at the close
of it. He seemed stupid in not having seen it for himself, but possibly
many people were a little stupid in seeing that their own time was over.
Of course he had thought, in a vague way, that his working time couldn't
be much longer, but it seemed part of the way human beings managed with
themselves that things in even the very near future kept the remoteness
of future things.

Now he understood Gretta's troubled look and her tears. He knew how
those fine nerves of hers must have suffered, how her own mind had
wanted to leap to the aid of his, how her own strength must have
tormented her in not being able to reach his flagging powers. It seemed
part of the whole hardness of life that she who would care the most
would be the one to see it most understandingly.

What he was trying to do was to see it all very simply, in
matter-of-fact fashion, that there might be no bitterness and the least
of tragedy. It was nothing unique in human history he was facing. One
did one's work; then, when through, one stopped. He tried to feel that
it was as simple as it sounded, but he wondered if back of many of those
brief letters of resignation that came at quitting-time there was the
hurt, the desolation, that there was no use denying to himself was back
of his.

He hoped that most men had more to turn to. Most men of seventy-three
had grandchildren. That would help, surrounding one with a feeling of
the naturalness of it all. But that school had been his only child. And
he had loved it with the tenderness one gives a child. That in him which
would have gone to the child had gone to the school.

The woman whom he loved had not loved him; he had never married. His
life had been called lonely; but lonely though it undeniably had been,
the life he won from books and work and thinking had kept the chill from
his heart. He had the gift of drawing life from all contact with life.
Working with youth, he kept that feeling for youth that does for the
life within what sunshine and fresh air do for the room in which one
dwells.

It was now that the loneliness that blights seemed waiting for him....
Life _used_ one--and that in the ugly, not the noble sense of being
used. Stripped of the fine fancies men wove around it, what was it
beyond just a matter of being sucked dry and then thrown aside? Why not
admit that, and then face it? And the abundance with which one might
have given--the joy in the giving--had no bearing upon the fact that it
came at last to that question of getting one out of the way. It was
no one's unkindness; it was just that life was like that. Indeed, the
bitterness festered around the thought that it _was_ life itself--the
way of life--not the brutality of any particular people. "They'll
pension him--he's done a lot for the school." Even the grateful memory
of Gretta's tremulous, scoffing little laugh for the way it fell short
could not follow to the deep place that had been hurt.

Getting himself in hand again, and trying to face this as simply and
honestly as he had sought to face the other, he knew that it was true he
had done a great deal for the school. He did not believe it too much to
say he had done more for it than any other man. Certainly more than any
other man he had given it what place it had with men who thought. He had
come to it in his early manhood, and at a time when the school was in
its infancy--just a crude, struggling little Western college. Gretta
Loring's grandfather had been one of its founders--founding it in revolt
against the cramping sectarianism of another college. He had gloried
in the spirit which gave it birth, and it was he who, through the
encroachings of problems of administration and the ensnarements and
entanglements of practicality, had fought to keep unattached and
unfettered that spirit of freedom in the service of truth.

His own voice had been heard and recognised, and a number of times
during the years calls had come from more important institutions, but he
had not cared to go. For year by year there deepened that personal love
for the little college to which he had given the youthful ardour of his
own intellectual passion. All his life's habits were one with it. His
days seemed beaten into the path that cut across the campus. The vines
that season after season went a little higher on the wall out there
indicated his strivings by their own, and the generation that had worn
down even the stones of those front steps had furrowed his forehead and
stooped his shoulders. He had grown old along with it! His days were
twined around it. It was the place of his efforts and satisfactions
(joys perhaps he should not call them), of his falterings and his hopes.
He loved it because he had given himself to it; loved it because he had
helped to bring it up. On the shelves all around him were books which it
had been his pleasure--because during some of those hard years they were
to be had in no other way--to order himself and pay for from his own
almost ludicrously meagre salary. He remembered the excitement there
always was in getting them fresh from the publisher and bringing them
over there in his arms; the satisfaction in coming in next day and
finding them on the shelves. Such had been his dissipations, his
indulgences of self. Many things came back to him as he sat there going
back over busy years, the works on philosophy looking down upon him, the
shadows of that spring afternoon gathering around him. He looked like
a very old man indeed as he at last reached out for the letter he had
written to the trustees, relieving them of their embarrassment.

Twilight had come on. On the front steps he paused and looked around
the campus. It was growing dark in that lingering way it has in the
spring--daylight creeping away under protest, night coming gently, as
if it knew that the world having been so pleasant, day would be loath to
go. The boys and girls were going back and forth upon the campus and the
streets. They could not bear to go within. For more than forty years
it had been like that. It would be like that for many times forty
years--indeed, until the end of the world, for it would be the end of
the world when it was not like that. He was glad that they were out in
the twilight, not indoors trying to gain from books something of the
meaning of life. That course had its satisfactions along the way, but it
was surely no port of peace to which it bore one at the last.

He shrunk from going home. There were so many readjustments he must
make, once home. So, lingering, he saw that off among the trees a girl
was sitting alone. She threw back her head in a certain way just then,
and he knew by the gesture that it was Gretta Loring. He wondered what
she was thinking about. What did one who thought think about--over there
on the other side of life? Youth and age looked at life from opposite
sides. Then they could not see it alike, for what one saw in life seemed
to depend so entirely upon how the light was falling from where one
stood.

He could not have said just what it was made him cross the campus toward
her. Part of it was the desire for human sympathy--one thing, at least,
which age did not deaden. But that was not the whole of it, nor the
deepest thing in it. It was an urge of the spirit to find and keep for
itself a place where the light was falling backward upon life.

She was quiet in her greeting, and gentle. Her cheeks were still
flushed, her hair tumbled from her game, but her eyes were thoughtful
and, he thought, sad. He felt that the sadness was because of him; of
him and the things of which he made her think. He knew of her affection
for him, the warmth there was in her admiration of the things for which
he had fought. He had discovered that it hurt her now that others
should be seeing and not he, pained her to watch so sorry a thing as his
falling below himself, wounded both pride and heart that men whom she
would doubtless say had never appreciated him were whispering among
themselves about how to get rid of him. Why, the poor child might even
be tormenting herself with the idea she ought to tell him!

That was why he told her. He pointed to the address on the envelope,
saying: "That carries my resignation, Gretta."

Her start and the tears which rushed to her eyes told him he was right
about her feeling. She did not seem able to say anything. Her chin was
trembling.

"I see that the time has come," he said, "when a younger man can do more
for the school than I can hope to do for it."

Still she said nothing at all, but her eyes were deepening and she
had that very steadfast, almost inspired look that had so many times
quickened him in the class-room.

She was not going to deny it! She was not going to pretend!

After the first feeling of not having got something needed he rose to
her high ground--ground she had taken it for granted he would take.

"And will you believe it, Gretta," he said, rising to that ground and
there asking, not for the sympathy that bends down, but for a hand in
passing, "there comes a hard hour when first one feels the time has come
to step aside and be replaced by that younger man?"

She nodded. "It must be," she said, simply; "it must be very much harder
than any of us can know till we come to it."

She brought him a sense of his advantage in experience--his riches. To
be sure, there was that.

And he was oddly comforted by the honesty in her which could not stoop
to dishonest comforting. In what superficially might seem her failure
there was a very real victory for them both. And there was nothing of
coldness in her reserve! There was the fulness of understanding, and of
valuing the moments too highly for anything there was to be said about
it. There was a great spiritual dignity, a nobility, in the way she was
looking at him. It called upon the whole of his own spiritual dignity.
It was her old demand upon him, but this time the tears through which
her eyes shone were tears of pride in fulfilment, not of sorrowing for
failure.

Suddenly he felt that his life had not been spent in vain, that the
lives of all those men of his day who had fought the good fight for
intellectual honesty--spiritual dignity--had not been spent in vain
if they were leaving upon the earth even a few who were like the girl
beside them.

It turned him from himself to her. She was what counted--for she was
what remained. And he remained in just the measure that he remained
through her; counted in so far as he counted for her. It was as if he
had been facing in the wrong direction and now a kindly hand had turned
him around. It was not in looking back there he would find himself. He
was not back there to be found. Only so much of him lived as had been
able to wing itself ahead--on in the direction she was moving.

It did not particularly surprise him that when she at last spoke it was
to voice a shade of that same feeling. "I was thinking," she began, "of
that younger man. Of what he must mean to the man who gives way to him."

She was feeling her way as she went--groping among the many dim things
that were there. He had always liked to watch her face when she was
thinking her way step by step.

"I think you used a word wrongly a minute ago," she said, with a smile.
"You spoke of being replaced. But that isn't it. A man like you isn't
replaced; he's"--she got it after a minute and came forth with it
triumphantly--"fulfilled!"

Her face was shining as she turned to him after that. "Don't you see?
He's there waiting to take your place because you got him ready. Why,
you made that younger man! Your whole life has been a getting ready for
him. He can do his work be cause you first did yours. Of course he can
go farther than you can! Wouldn't it be a sorry commentary on you if he
couldn't?"

Her voice throbbed warmly upon that last, and during the pause the light
it had brought still played upon her face. "We were talking in class
about immortality," she went on, more slowly. "There's one form of
immortality I like to think about. It's that all those who from the very
first have given anything to the world are living in the world to-day."
There was a rush of tears to her eyes and of affection to her voice
as she finished, very low: "You'll never die. You've deepened the
consciousness of life too much for that."

They sat there as twilight drew near to night, the old man and the young
girl, silent. The laughter of boys and girls and the good-night calls of
the birds were all around them. The fragrance of life was around
them. It was one of those silences to which come impressions, faiths,
longings, not yet born as thoughts.

Something in the quality of that silence brought the rescuing sense
of its having been good to have lived and done one's part--that sense
which, from places of desolation and over ways rough and steep and dark,
can find its way to the meadows of serenity.


THE END





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