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Title: Katy Gaumer
Author: Singmaster, Elsie
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 "Katy Gaumer" ***

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                          By Elsie Singmaster


    KATY GAUMER. Illustrated.
    GETTYSBURG. Illustrated.
    WHEN SARAH WENT TO SCHOOL. Illustrated.
    WHEN SARAH SAVED THE DAY. Illustrated.

    HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

    BOSTON AND NEW YORK



                              KATY GAUMER



               [Illustration:                    (p. 334)
               "IT'S BEAUTIFUL UP HERE, ISN'T IT, KATY?"]



                              KATY GAUMER

                                   BY
                            ELSIE SINGMASTER


                             [Illustration]


                          BOSTON AND NEW YORK
                        HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
                     The Riverside Press Cambridge
                                  1915



                COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY THE CENTURY COMPANY
              COPYRIGHT, 1915, BY ELSIE SINGMASTER LEWARS

                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

                       _Published February 1915_



                                CONTENTS


        I. THE GREAT NEWS                                      1

       II. THE BELSNICKEL                                     17

      III. THE GREAT MAN                                      32

       IV. THE KOEHLERS' CHRISTMAS DAY                        49

        V. ANOTHER CHRISTMAS DAY                              63

       VI. THE MILLERSTOWN SCHOOL                             88

      VII. THE BEE CURE                                      105

     VIII. WILLIAM KOEHLER MAKES HIS ACCUSATION FOR
           THE LAST TIME                                     124

       IX. CHANGE                                            143

        X. KATY MAKES A PROMISE                              153

       XI. KATY FINDS A NEW AIM IN LIFE                      159

      XII. KATY BORROWS SO THAT SHE MAY LEND                 169

     XIII. EMPTINESS                                         192

      XIV. KATY PLANS HER LIFE ONCE MORE                     204

       XV. AN OLD WAY OUT OF A NEW TROUBLE                   219

      XVI. BEVY PUTS A HEX ON ALVIN                          235

     XVII. ALVIN DOES PENANCE AND IS SHRIVEN                 254

    XVIII. A SILVER CHALICE                                  267

      XIX. THE SQUIRE AND DAVID TAKE A JOURNEY BY NIGHT      281

       XX. THE MYSTERY DEEPENS                               300

      XXI. THE SQUIRE AND DAVID TAKE A JOURNEY BY DAY        306

     XXII. KATY IS TO BE EDUCATED AT LAST                    321

           NOTE.--The first two chapters were published as
           a short story under the title of "The Belsnickel"
           in the _Century Magazine_ for January, 1911.



                              KATY GAUMER


                               CHAPTER I

                             THE GREAT NEWS


EVERY Wednesday evening in winter Katy Gaumer went to the Millerstown
post-office for her grandfather's "Welt Bote," the German paper which
circulated among the Pennsylvania Germans of Millerstown. By six o'clock
she and Grandfather Gaumer and Grandmother Gaumer had had supper; by
half past six she had finished drying the dishes; by half past seven she
had learned her lessons for the next day; and then, a scarlet shawl
wrapped about her, a scarlet "nubia" on her head, scarlet mittens on her
hands, Katy set forth into Millerstown's safe darkness.

Sometimes--oh, the thrill that closed her throat and ran up and down her
spine and set her heart to throbbing and her eyes to dancing at sound of
that closed door!--sometimes it rained and she pushed her way out into
the storm as a viking might have pushed his boat from the shore into an
unfriendly sea; sometimes it snowed and she lifted her hot face so that
she might feel the light, cold flakes against her cheek; sometimes deep
drifts lay already on the ground and she flung herself upon them or into
them; sometimes she danced back to say a second good-bye so that she
might enjoy her freedom once more; sometimes she stole round under the
tall pine trees and knocked ponderously at the door, knowing perfectly
well that her grandmother and grandfather would only smile at each other
and not stir.

Sometimes she crossed the yard in snow to her knees to rap against the
kitchen window of Bevy Schnepp, who kept house for Great-Uncle Gaumer,
the squire. Bevy's real name was Maria Snyder, but Katy had renamed her
for one of the mythical characters of whom Millerstown held foolish
discourse, and the village had adopted the title. Bevy was little and
thin and a powerful worker. She was cross with almost every one in the
world, even with Katy whom she adored and spoiled. There was a tradition
in Millerstown that she was once about to be married, but that at the
ceremony her spirit rebelled. When the preacher asked her whether she
would obey, she cried out aloud, "By my soul, no!" and the match was
thereupon broken off. Bevy adorned her speech with many proverbs, and
she had an abiding faith in pow-wowing, and also in spooks, hexahemeron
cats, and similar mysterious creatures. She had named the squire's dog
"Whiskey" so that he could not be bewitched. She would as soon have
thrown her cabbage plants away as to have planted them in any other
planetary sign than that of the Virgin. She belonged, strangely enough,
to a newly established religious sect in Millerstown, that of the
Improved New Mennonites, who had no relation to the long-established
worthy followers of Menno Simons in other parts of the Pennsylvania
German section. It is difficult to understand how Bevy reconciled her
belief in the orthodox if sensational preaching of the Reverend Mr. Hill
with her use of such superstitious rhymes as

    "Dulix, ix, ux,
    Thou comest not over Pontio,
    Pontio is over Pilato"--

to which she had recourse when trouble threatened.

Sometimes Katy untied "Whiskey" and they scampered wildly, crazily away
together. Katy did everything in the same unthinking, impetuous way.
Both she and Whiskey were young, both were irresponsible, both were
petted, indulged, and entirely care-free. Katy was the orphan child of
her grandparents' Benjamin; it was not strange that they could deny her
nothing. Of her mother and father she had no recollection; to her
grandparents she owed anything she might now be or might become.

To-night there was no snow upon the ground. The stars shone crisply; in
the west the young moon was declining; though it was December, the
season seemed more like autumn than like winter. Millerstown lay still
and lovely under its leafless trees; not in the quiet of perpetual
drowsiness,--Millerstown was stirring enough by day!--but in repose
after the day's labor and excitement. To the east of the village the
mountain rose somberly; to the south the pike climbed a hill toward the
church and the school-house; to the west and north lay the wide fields.
To the north might be seen the dim bulk of the blast furnace with the
great starlike light of the bleeder flame.

"I wonder what it looks like now from the top of the mountain,"
soliloquized Katy. "I would like to climb once in the dark night to the
Sheep Stable. I wonder if it is any one in all Millerstown brave enough
to go along in the dark. I wonder what the church looks like inside
without any light. I wonder--"

Awed by the quiet, Katy stood still under the pine trees at the gate.
She heard Whiskey whine to be let loose; she heard Bevy open the door of
the squire's kitchen.

"Katy, Katy Gaumer! Come here once, Katy Gaumer!"

Katy did not answer. Bevy had probably a cake for her or some molasses
candy; she could just as well put it in the putlock hole in the wall of
grandfather's house. A putlock hole is an aperture left by the removal
of a scaffolding. It is supposed to be filled in, but either the builder
of the old stone house had overlooked one of the openings, or the stone
placed there had fallen out. It now made a fine hiding-place for Katy's
treasures.

Katy had at this moment no time to give to Bevy. Her heart throbbed, her
hands clutched the gate. She did not know why she was always so thrilled
and excited when she was out alone at night.

"It is like Bethlehem," she whispered to herself, as she looked down the
street, then up at the sky. "The shepherds might be watching or the
kings might come."

Katy opened the gate.

"I love Millerstown," she declared. "I love Millerstown. I love
everybody and everything in Millerstown."

The post-office was next to the store and on the same street as
Grandfather Gaumer's. There are only three streets in the village, Main
Street and Locust and Church, and all the houses are built out to the
pavement in the Pennsylvania German fashion, so that the little
settlement does not cover much ground. Perhaps that was why Katy,
leaving Main Street and starting forth on Locust, came so soon to the
end of her spasm of affection. There did not seem to be enough of the
village to warrant any such fervent outpouring. At any rate, Katy's mood
changed.

"I am tired of Millerstown," she declared with equal fervor. "It is
dumb. It is quiet. Nothing ever happens in this place."

The residents of Locust Street were especially dull to Katy's thinking.
Dumb Coonie Schnable lived here and dumb Ellie Schindler, and Essie
Hill, whom she hated. Essie was the daughter of the pastor of the
Improved New Mennonites, of whom Bevy Schnepp was one. The preacher
himself was tall and angular and rather blank of countenance, but Essie
was small and pretty and pink and smooth of speech and by no means
"dumb." Once, being a follower of her father's religious practices,
Essie had risen in school and had prayed for forgiveness for Katy's
outrageous impudence to the teacher, and had thereupon become his
favorite forever. That Essie could really be what she seemed, that she
could like to hear her father shout about the Millerstown sinners, that
she could admire the silly, short-back sailor hat adorned with a Bible
verse, which was the head-covering of the older female members of the
Improved New Mennonite Church--this Katy could not, would not believe.
Essie was a hypocrite.

Sometimes the Improved New Mennonites might be heard singing or praying
hysterically. Katy had often watched them through the window, in company
with Ollie Kuhns and Billy Knerr and one or two other naughty boys and
girls, and had sometimes helped a little with the hysterical shrieking.
To-night the little frame building was dark, and here, as down on Main
Street, there was not a sound.

At the end of Locust Street, Katy went through a lane to Church Street,
and there again she stood perfectly still, her eyes gleaming, her ears
listening, listening, listening. On the mountain road above her, she
could see dimly a little white house, which seemed to hug the hillside
and to hold itself aloof from Millerstown. Here lived old Koehler, who
was not really very old, but who was crazy and who was supposed to have
stolen the beautiful silver communion service of Katy's church. The
children used to shout wildly at him, "Bring it back! Bring it back!"
and sometimes he ran after them. One sign of his lunacy was his constant
praying in all sorts of queer places and at queer times that the
communion service might be returned, when all he needed for the
answering of his prayer was to seek the service where he had hidden it
and to put it back in its place. The Millerstown children never carried
their mocking to his house, since they believed that he was able to set
upon them the swarms of bees that lived in hives in his little garden,
among which he went without fear. They said among themselves--at least
the romantic girls said--that he did not give his son, poor, handsome
Alvin, enough to eat.

Suddenly Katy's heart beat with a new thrill. There was no instinct
within her which was not awake or wakening. Her cheeks flushed, her
scarlet mittens clasped each other. She liked handsome Alvin because she
liked him--no better reason was given or required in Katy's feminine
soul.

"I think Alvin is grand," exclaimed Katy to herself. "I am sorry for
him. I think he is grand."

There was a sound, and Katy started. Suppose Alvin should come upon her
suddenly! She went on a few steps, then once more she stopped to listen.
Once more Millerstown was quiet, again she looked and listened.

Back in the shadows across the street stood a large, fine house, the
home of John Hartman, Millerstown's richest man. There were in that
house fine carpets and beautiful furniture. But in spite of their
possessions the Hartmans were not a happy family. Mrs. Hartman was
handsome and she had beautiful clothes and a sealskin coat to wear to
church, but she was disturbed if leaves drifted down on the grass in her
yard or if the coming of visitors made it necessary to let the sunlight
in on her thick carpets. Her only child, David, was sullen and stupid
and cross. Remembering the delightful bass singing of one Wenner in the
church choir, Katy had run away from home when a mere baby to visit the
church on a week day and from there John Hartman had driven her home.
Her grandmother to whom she had fled had insisted that he had not been
angry, but that he had only sent her back sternly and properly where she
belonged. But the impression was not quite persuaded away. Katy used to
pretend in some of her wild races that she was fleeing from John
Hartman.

Suddenly there was another sound. Some Millerstonian had opened a window
or had closed a shutter and Katy took to her heels. It amused her to
pretend once more that she was running away from John Hartman. In a
moment she had opened the door of the village store and had flashed in.

Round the stove sat four men, old and middle-aged; to the other three,
Caleb Stemmel was holding forth dismally, his voice low, dreary as his
mind, his mind dull as the dim room. Upon them Katy flashed in her
scarlet attire, her thin legs in their black stockings completing her
resemblance to a very gorgeous tanager or grosbeak. Katy had recovered
from all her thrills; she was now pure mischief and impertinence.

"Nothing," complained Caleb Stemmel, "nothing is any more like it was
when I was young."

"No, it is much better," commented the scarlet tanager.

"We took always trouble." Caleb paid no heed to the impertinent
interruption. "We had Christmas entertainments that were
entertainments--speeches and cakes and apples and a Belsnickel. But
these children and these teachers, they are too lazy and too
good-for-nothing."

Katy had no love for her teacher; she, too, considered him
good-for-nothing; but she had less love for Caleb Stemmel.

"We are going to have a Christmas entertainment that will flax [beat]
any of yours, Caleb Stemmel," she boasted.

"Yes, you will get up and say a few Dutch pieces and then you will go
home."

"Well, everything was Dutch when you were young. You ought to like
that!"

"Things should now be English," insisted Caleb. "But you are too lazy,
all of you, from the teacher down. You will be pretty much ashamed of
yourselves this year, that I can tell you."

Katy was already halfway to the door, her black legs flying. She would
waste no words on Caleb Stemmel. But now she turned and went back. Katy
was curious.

"Why this year?"

"Because," teased Caleb.

"That is a dumb answer! Why _because_?"

"Because it is some one coming."

"Who?"

"A visitor." Caleb pronounced it "wisitor."

"Pooh! What do I care for a 'wisitor'?" mocked Katy.

"This is one that you care for!"

"Who is it?"

"Don't you wish you knew?"

Katy stamped her foot.

"If you don't tell, I'll throw you with snow when the snow comes," she
threatened. Katy had respect for age in general, but not for Caleb
Stemmel.

Caleb did not answer until he saw that Danny Koser was about to tell.

"It is a governor coming," he announced impressively.

Katy drew a step closer, her face aglow. No eyes of tanager or grosbeak
could have shone blacker against brilliant plumage.

"Do you mean"--faltered Katy--"do you mean that my Uncle Daniel is
coming home once, my Uncle Daniel Gaumer?"

"The squire was here and he told us." Danny Koser was no longer to be
restrained. "Then he went to your gran'pop. He got a letter, the squire
did. What do you think of that now?"

"And what," jeered Caleb Stemmel,--"what will the governor think of
Dutch Millerstown and the Dutch entertainment and Dutch Katy; what--"

Once more had Katy reached the door at the other end of the long room.
She had a habit of forecasting her own actions; already she could see
herself pounding at the teacher's door, then racing home to her
grandfather's, her heart throbbing, throbbing, her whole being in the
glow of excitement which she loved, and of which she never had enough.

Suddenly she stopped, her hand on the latch. She had a secret, the whole
Millerstown school had a secret, but now it must be told. Every father
and mother in Millerstown would have to know if the great project,
really her great project, were to succeed. Since the news would have to
come out, it might as well be announced at once.

"We are going to have an English entertainment, Caleb Stemmel," she
cried. "It is planned this long time already; we have been practicing
for a month, Caleb Stemmel. We will have you in it; we will have you
say, 'A wery wenimous wiper jumped out of a winegar wat'; that will be
fine for you, Caleb. Aha! Caleb!"

Outside Katy paused and stretched forth her arms. There was still not a
soul in sight, there was still not a sound; she looked up the street and
down and could see the last house at each end. Then Katy started to run.
Ten minutes ago she had been only little Katy Gaumer, with lessons
learned for the morrow and bedtime near, hating the quiet village, a
good deal bored with life; now she was Katy Gaumer, the grandniece of
one of the great men of the world.

"I wonder what he will look like," said Katy. "I want to do something. I
want to be something. I want to make speeches. I want to be rich and
learned. I want to do _everything_. If he would only help me, I might be
_something_."

There was no one at hand to tell her that she was a vain child; no one
to remind her that she was only one of twenty-odd grandnieces and
nephews and that the governor of a Western State was after all not such
an important person, since there were many still higher offices in the
land. No Millerstonian would have so discounted Daniel Gaumer, who had
made his own way and had achieved greater success than any of his
Millerstown contemporaries. To Katy he was far more wonderful than the
President of the United States. If she could do well at the
entertainment--she, of course, had the longest and most important piece,
and she had also drilled the other children--if it only turned out well,
and if some one only said to the governor that success was due to her
efforts, he might persuade her grandfather to send her away to school;
he might--

But this was not the time to dream. With a fresh gasp for breath, Katy
ran on and hurled herself against the teacher's door, or rather against
the door of Sarah Ann Mohr, in whose house the teacher boarded. In an
instant she was in the kitchen where Sarah Ann and the teacher sat
together.

Sarah Ann was large and ponderous and good-natured. She was now reading
the paper and hemming a gingham apron by turns. Sarah Ann loved to read.
Her favorite matter was the inside page of the Millerstown "Star," which
always offered varied and interesting items of general news. Sarah Ann
was far less interested in the accounts of Millerstown's births and
deaths and marriages than she was in the startling events of the world
outside. Sarah Ann's taste inclined to the shocking and morbid. This
evening she had read many times about a man who had committed suicide by
sitting on a box of dynamite and lighting the fuse, and about a man
whose head was gradually becoming like that of a lion. When she observed
that the next item dealt with the remarkable invention of a young woman
who baked glass in her husband's pies, Sarah Ann laid down the paper to
compose her mind with a little sewing.

The teacher, who was small and slender and somewhat near-sighted, was
going painstakingly over a bundle of civil service examination
questions. He was only in Millerstown for a little while, acting as a
substitute and waiting for something to turn up. He was a Pennsylvania
German, but he would as soon have been called a Turk. He had changed his
name from Schreiner to Carpenter and the very sound of his native tongue
was hateful to him. He did not like Katy Gaumer; he did not like any
young, active, springing things.

Now he listened to Katy in astonishment. Katy flung herself upon Sarah
Ann.

"Booh! Don't look so scared. I will not eat you, Sarah Ann! And I am no
spook! I am only in a hurry. Teacher, I have told the people about the
English entertainment. It is out. I had to tell, because the children
must know their pieces better. Ollie Kuhns, he won't learn his until his
pop thrashes him a couple of times, and Jimmie Weygandt's mom will have
to make him learn with a stick, and then he will not know it anyhow,
perhaps, and they won't leave us have the Sunday School organ to
practice beforehand for the singing unless they know why it is, and
everybody must practice all the time from now on. You see, I _had_ to
tell."

The teacher looked at her dumbly. So did Sarah Ann.

"But _why_?" asked they together.

"Why?" repeated Katy, impatiently, as though they might have divined the
wonderful reason. "Why, because my Uncle Daniel is coming. Isn't that
enough?"

Sarah Ann laid down her apron.

"Bei meiner Seel'!" said she solemnly.

The teacher laid down his papers.

"The governor?" said he. He had heard of Governor Gaumer. He thought of
the appointments in a governor's power; he foresaw at once escape from
the teaching which he hated; he blessed Katy because she had proposed an
English entertainment. He blessed her inspired suggestion of parental
whippings for Ollie and Jimmie. "Sit down once, Katy, sit down."

It gave Katy another thrill of joy to be thus solicited by her enemy.
But now she could not stop.

"I must go first home and see my folks. Then I will come back."

At the squire's gate, Bevy Schnepp awaited her.

"Ach, come once in a little, Katy!"

"I cannot!"

"Just a little! I have something for you." Bevy put out a futile arm.
People were forever trying to catch Katy.

"No," laughed Katy. "I'll put a hex on you, Bevy! I'll bewitch you,
Bevy!"

Katy was gone, through her grandfather's gate, down the brick walk under
the pine trees to the kitchen where sat grandfather and grandmother and
the squire. Seeing them together, the two old men with their broad
shoulders and their handsome heads and the old woman with her kindly
face, a stranger would have known at once where Katy got her active,
erect figure and her curly hair and her dark eyes. All three were
handsome; all three cultivated as far as their opportunities would
allow; all three would have been distinguished in a broader circle than
Millerstown could offer. But here circumstances had placed them and had
kept them. Even the squire, whose desk was frequently littered with
time-tables, and who planned constantly journeys to the uttermost parts
of the earth, had scarcely ever been away from Millerstown.

Upon these three Katy rushed like a whirlwind.

"Is it true?" she demanded breathlessly in the Pennsylvania German which
the older folk loved, but which was falling into disuse among the young.

"Is what true?" asked grandfather and the squire together. They liked to
tease Katy, everybody liked to tease Katy.

"That my uncle the governor is coming?"

"Yes," said Grandfather Gaumer. "Your uncle the governor is coming."



                               CHAPTER II

                             THE BELSNICKEL


ON the afternoon of the entertainment there was an air of excitement,
both within and without the schoolroom. Outside the clouds hung low; the
winter wheat in the Weygandt fields seemed to have yielded up some of
its brilliant green; there was no color on the mountain-side which had
been warm brown and purple in the morning sunshine. A snowstorm was
brewing, the first of the season, and Millerstown rejoiced, believing
that a green Christmas makes a fat graveyard. But in spite of the
threatening storm nearly all Millerstown moved toward the schoolhouse.

The schoolroom was almost unrecognizable. The walls were naturally a
dingy brown, except where the blackboards made them still duller; the
desks were far apart; the distance from the last row, where the
ill-behaved liked to sit, to the teacher's desk, to which they made
frequent trips for punishment, seemed on ordinary days interminable.

This afternoon, however, there was neither dullness nor extra space. The
walls were hidden by masses of crowfoot and pine, brought from the
mountain; the blackboards had vanished behind festoons of red flags and
bunting. Into one quarter of the room the children were so closely
crowded that one would have said they could never extricate themselves;
into the other three quarters had squeezed and pressed their admiring
relatives and friends.

Grandfather and Grandmother Gaumer were here, the latter with a large
and mysterious basket, which she helped Katy to hide in the attic, the
former laughing with his famous brother. The governor had come on the
afternoon train, and Katy had scarcely dared to look at him. He was
tall,--she could see that without looking,--and he had a deep, rich
voice and a laugh which made one smile to hear it. "Mommy Bets" Eckert
was here, a generation older than the Gaumer men, and dear, fat Sarah
Ann Mohr, who would not have missed a Christmas entertainment for
anything you could offer her. There were half a dozen babies who cooed
and crowed by turns, and at them cross Caleb Stemmel frowned--Caleb was
forever frowning; and there was Bevy Schnepp, moving about like a
restless grasshopper, her bright, bead-like eyes on her beloved Katy.

"She is a fine platform speaker, Katy is," boasted Bevy to those nearest
her. "She will beat them all."

Alvin Koehler, tall, slender, good-looking even to the eyes of older
persons than Katy Gaumer, was an usher; his presence was made clear to
Katy rather by a delicious thrill than by visual evidence. It went
without saying that his crazy father had not come to the entertainment,
though none of his small businesses of bricklaying, gardening, or bee
culture need have kept him away. When Koehler was not at work, he spent
no time attending entertainments; he sat at his door or window, watching
the mountain road, and scolding and praying by turns.

Upon the last seat crouched David Hartman, sullen, frowning, as ever.
The school entertainment was not worth the attention of so important a
person as his father, and his mother could not have been persuaded to
leave the constant toil with which she kept spotless her great,
beautiful house.

Millerstown's young bachelor doctor had come, and he, too, watched Katy
as she flew about in her scarlet dress. The doctor was a Gaumer on his
mother's side, and from her had inherited the Gaumer good looks and the
Gaumer brains. Katy's Uncle Edwin and her Aunt Sally had brought their
little Adam, a beautiful, blond little boy, who had his piece to say on
this great occasion. Uncle Edwin was a Gaumer without the Gaumer brains,
but he had all the Gaumer kindness of heart. Of these two kinsfolk,
Uncle Edwin and fat, placid Aunt Sally, Katy did not have a very high
opinion. Smooth, pretty little Essie Hill had not come; her pious soul
considered entertainments wicked.

But Katy gave no thought to Essie or to her absence; her mind was full
of herself and of the great visitor and of Alvin Koehler. For Katy the
play had begun. The governor was here; he looked kind and friendly;
perhaps he would help her to carry out some of her great plans for the
future. Since his coming had been announced, Katy had seen herself in a
score of rôles. She would be a great teacher, she would be a fine lady,
she would be a missionary to a place which she called "Africay." No
position seemed beyond Katy's attainment in her present mood.

Katy knew her part as well as she knew her own name. It was called
"Annie and Willie's Prayer." It was long and hard for a tongue, which,
for all its making fun of other people, could not itself say th and v
with ease. But Katy would not fail, nor would her little cousin Adam,
still sitting close between his father and mother, whom she had taught
to lisp through "Hang up the Baby's Stocking." If only Ollie Kuhns knew
the "Psalm of Life," and Jimmie Weygandt, "There is a Reaper whose Name
is Death," as well! When they began to practice, Ollie always said,
"Wives of great men," and Jimmie always talked about "deas" for "death."
But those faults had been diligently trained out of them. All the
children had known their parts this morning; they had known them so well
that Katy's elaborate test could not produce a single blunder, but would
they know them now? Their faces grew whiter and whiter; the very pine
branches seemed to quiver with nervousness; the teacher--Mr. Carpenter,
indeed!--tried in vain to recall the English speech which he had written
out and memorized. As he sat waiting for the time to open the
entertainment, he frantically reminded himself that the prospect of
examinations had always terrified him, but that he invariably recovered
his wits with the first question.

Once he caught Katy Gaumer's eye and tried to smile. But Katy did not
respond. Katy looked at him sternly, as though she were the teacher and
he the pupil. She saw plainly enough what ailed him, and prickles of
fright went up and down her backbone. His speech was to open the
entertainment; if he failed, everybody would fail. Katy had seen panic
sweep along the ranks of would-be orators in the Millerstown school
before this. She had seen Jimmie Weygandt turn green and tremble like a
leaf; she had heard Ellie Schindler cry. If the teacher would only let
her begin the entertainment, she would not fail!

But the teacher did not call on Katy. No such simple way out of his
difficulty occurred to his paralyzed brain. The Millerstonians expected
the fine English entertainment to begin; the stillness in the room grew
deathlike; the moments passed, and Mr. Carpenter sat helpless.

Then, suddenly, Mr. Carpenter jumped to his feet, gasping with relief.
He knew what he would do! He would say nothing at all himself; he would
call upon the stranger. It was perfectly true that precedent put a
visitor's speech at the end of an entertainment, rather than at the
beginning, but the teacher cared not a rap for precedent. The stranger
should speak now, and thus set an example to the children. Hearing his
easy _th's_ and _v's_, they would have less trouble with their English.
Color returned to the teacher's cheeks; only Katy Gaumer realized how
terrified he had been. So elated was he that he introduced the speaker
without stumbling.

"It is somebody here that we do not have often with us at such a time,"
announced Mr. Carpenter. "It is a governor here; he will make us a
speech."

The governor rose, smiling, and Millerstown, smiling, also, craned its
neck to see. Then Millerstown prepared itself to hear. What it heard, it
could scarcely believe.

The governor had spoken for at least two minutes before his hearers
realized anything but a sharp shock of surprise. The children looked and
listened, and gradually their mouths opened; the fathers and mothers
heard, and at once elbows sought neighboring sides in astonished nudges.
Bevy Schnepp actually exclaimed aloud; Mr. Carpenter flushed a
brilliant, apoplectic red. Only Katy Gaumer sat un-moved, being too much
astonished to stir. She had looked at the stranger with awe; she
regarded him now with incredulous amazement.

The governor had been away from Millerstown for thirty years; he was a
graduate of a university; he had honorary degrees; the teacher had
warned the children to look as though they understood him whether they
understood him or not.

"If he asks you any English questions and you do not know what he means,
I will prompt you a little," the teacher had promised. "You need only to
look once a little at me."

But the distinguished stranger asked no difficult English questions; the
distinguished stranger did not even speak English; he spoke his own
native, unenlightened Pennsylvania German!

It came out so naturally, he seemed so like any other Millerstonian
standing there, that they could hardly believe that he was distinguished
and still less that he was a stranger. He said that he had not been in
that schoolroom for thirty years, and that if any one had asked him its
dimensions, he would have answered that it would be hard to throw a ball
from one corner to the other. And now from where he stood he could
almost touch its sides!

He remembered Caleb Stemmel and called him by name, and asked whether he
had any little boys and girls there to speak pieces, at which everybody
laughed. Caleb Stemmel was too selfish ever to have cared for anybody
but himself.

Still talking as though he were sitting behind the stove in the store
with Caleb and Danny Koser and the rest, the governor said suddenly an
astonishing, an incredible, an appalling thing. Mr. Carpenter, already a
good deal disgusted by the speaker's lack of taste, did not realize at
first the purport of his statement, nor did the fathers and mothers,
listening entranced. But Katy Gaumer heard! _He said that he had come a
thousand miles to hear a Pennsylvania German Christmas entertainment!_

He said that it was necessary, of course, for every child to learn
English, that it was the language of his fatherland; but that at
Christmas time they should remember that they had an older fatherland,
and that no nation felt the Christmas spirit like the Germans. It was a
time when everybody should be grateful for his German blood, and should
practice his German speech. He said that a man with two languages was
twice a man. He had been looking forward to this entertainment for
weeks; he had told his friends about it, and had made them curious and
envious; he had thought about it on the long journey; he knew that there
was one place where he could hear "Stille Nacht." He almost dared to
hope that this entertainment would have a Belsnickel. If old men could
be granted their dearest wish, they would be young again. This
entertainment, he said, was going to make him young for one afternoon.

The great man sat down, and at once the little man arose. Mr. Carpenter
did not pause as though he were frightened, he was no longer
panic-stricken; he was, instead, furious, furious with himself for
having called on Daniel Gaumer first, furious with Daniel Gaumer for
thus upsetting his teaching. He said to himself that he did not care
whether the children failed or not. He announced "Annie and Willie's
Prayer."

It seemed for a moment as though Katy herself would fail. She stared
into the teacher's eyes, and the teacher thought that she was crying. He
could not have prompted her if his life had depended upon it. He glanced
at the programme in his hand to see who was to follow Katy.

But Katy had begun. Katy's tears were those of emotion, not those of
fright. She wore a red dress, her best, which was even redder than her
everyday apparel; her eyes were bright, her cheeks flushed, she moved
lightly; she felt as though all the world were listening, and as
though--if her swelling heart did not choke her before she began--as
though she might thrill the world. She knew how the stranger felt; this
was one of the moments when she, too, loved Millerstown, and her native
tongue and her own people. The governor had come back; this was his
home; should he find it an alien place? No, Katy Gaumer would keep it
home for him!

Katy bowed to the audience, she bowed to the teacher, she bowed to the
stranger--she had effective, stagey ways; then she began. To the staring
children, to the astonished fathers and mothers, to the delighted
stranger, she recited a new piece. They had heard it all their lives,
they could have recited it in concert. It was not "Annie and Willie's
Prayer"; it was not even a Christmas piece; but it was as appropriate to
the occasion as either. It was "Das alt Schulhaus an der Krick," and the
translation compared with the original as the original Christmas
entertainment compared with Katy Gaumer's.

    "To-day it is just twenty years
      Since I began to roam;
    Now, safely back, I stand once more,
    Before the quaint old schoolhouse door,
      Close by my father's home."

Katy was perfectly self-possessed throughout; it must be confessed that
praised and petted Katy was often surer of herself than a child should
be. There were thirty-one stanzas in her recitation; there was time to
look at each one in her audience. At the fathers and mothers she did not
look at all; at Ollie Kuhns and Jimmie Weygandt and little Sarah Knerr,
however, she looked hard and long. She was still staring at Ollie when
she reached her desk, staring so hard that she scarcely heard the
applause which the stranger led. She did not sit down gracefully, but
hung halfway out of her seat, bracing herself with her arm round little
Adam and still gazing at Ollie Kuhns. She had ceased to be an actor; she
was now stage-manager.

The teacher failed to announce Ollie's speech, but no one noticed the
omission. Ollie rose, grinning. This was a beautiful joke to him. He
knew what Katy meant; he was always quick to understand. Katy was not
the only bright child in Millerstown. He knew a piece entitled "Der
Belsnickel," a description of the masked, fur-clad creature, the St.
Nicholas with a pelt, who in Daniel Gaumer's day had brought cakes for
good children and switches for the "nixnutzige." Ollie had terrified his
schoolmates a hundred times with his representation of "Bosco, the Wild
Man, Eats 'em Alive"; it would be a simple thing to make the audience
see a fearful Belsnickel.

And little Sarah Knerr, did she not know "Das Krischkindel," which told
of the divine Christmas spirit? She had learned it last year for a
Sunday School entertainment; now, directed by Katy, she rose and
repeated it with exquisite and gentle painstaking. When Sarah had
finished, Katy went to the Sunday School organ, borrowed for the
occasion, on which she had taught herself to play. There was, of course,
only one thing to be sung, and that was "Stille Nacht." The children
sang and their fathers and mothers sang, and the stranger led them all
with his strong voice.

Only Katy Gaumer, fixing one after the other of the remaining performers
with her eye, sang no more after the tune was started. There was Coonie
Schnable; she said to herself that he would fail in whatever he tried to
say. It would make little difference whether Coonie's few unintelligible
words were English or German. Coonie had always been the clown of the
entertainments of the Millerstown school; he would be of this one, also.

But Coonie did not fail. Ellie Schindler recited a German description of
"The County Fair" without a break; then Coonie Schnable rose. He had
once "helped" successfully in a dialogue. For those who know no
Pennsylvania German it must suffice that the dialogue was a translation
of a scene in "Hamlet." For the benefit of those who are more fortunate,
a translation is appended. Coonie recited all the parts, and also the
names of the speakers.

    _Hamlet:_ Oh, du armes Schpook!

    _Ghost:_ Pity mich net, aber geb mir now dei' Ohre,
             For ich will dir amohl eppas sawga.

    _Hamlet:_ Schwets rous, for ich will es now aw hera.

    _Ghost:_ Und wann du heresht, don nemhst aw satisfaction.

    _Hamlet:_ Well was is's? Rous mit!

    _Ghost:_ Ich bin dei'm Dawdy sei' Schpook!

To the children Coonie's least word and slightest motion were
convulsing; now they shrieked with glee, and their fathers and mothers
with them. The stranger seemed to discover still deeper springs of
mirth; he laughed until he cried.

Only Katy, stealing out, was not there to see the end. Nor was she at
hand to speed little Adam, who was to close the entertainment with "Hang
up the Baby's Stocking." But little Adam had had his whispered
instructions. He knew no German recitation--this was his first essay at
speech-making--but he knew a German Bible verse which his Grandmother
Gaumer had taught him, "Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe, und Friede auf Erden,
und Den Menschen ein Wohlgefallen." (Glory to God in the Highest and on
earth, peace, good will toward men.) He looked like a Christmas spirit
as he said it, with his flaxen hair and his blue eyes, as the stranger
might have looked sixty years ago. Daniel Gaumer started the applause,
and as little Adam passed him, lifted him to his knee.

It is not like the Millerstonians to have any entertainment without
refreshments, and for this entertainment refreshments had been provided.
Grandmother Gaumer's basket was filled to the brim with cookies,
ginger-cakes, sand-tarts, flapjacks, in all forms of bird and beast and
fish, and these Katy went to the attic to fetch. She ran up the steps;
she had other and more exciting plans than the mere distribution of the
treat.

In the attic, by the window, sullen, withdrawn as usual, sat David
Hartman.

"You must get out of here," ordered Katy in her lordly way. "I have
something to do here, and you must go quickly. You ought to be ashamed
to sit here alone. You are always ugly. Perhaps"--this both of them knew
was flippant nonsense--"perhaps you have been after my cakes!"

David made no answer; he only looked at her from under his frowning
brows, then shambled down the steps and out the door into the cold, gray
afternoon. Let him take his sullenness and meanness away! Then Katy's
bright eyes began to search the room.

In another moment, down in the schoolroom, little Adam cried out and hid
his face against the stranger's breast; then another child screamed in
excited rapture. The Belsnickel had come! It was covered with the dust
of the schoolhouse attic; it was not of the traditional huge size--it
was, indeed, less than five feet tall; but it wore a furry coat--the
distinguished stranger leaped to his feet, saying that it was not
possible that that old pelt still survived!--it opened its mouth "like
scissors," as Ollie Kuhns's piece had said. It had not the traditional
bag, but it had a basket, Grandmother Gaumer's, and the traditional
cakes were there. It climbed upon a desk, its black-stockinged legs and
red dress showing through the rents of the old, ragged coat, and the
children surrounded it, laughing, begging, screaming with delight.

The stranger stood and looked at Katy. He did not yet realize how large
a part she had had in the entertainment, though about that a proud
grandfather would soon inform him; he saw the Gaumer eyes and the Gaumer
bright face, and he remembered with sharp pain the eyes of a little
sister gone fifty years ago.

"Who is that child?" he asked.

Katy's grandfather called her to him, and she came slowly, slipping like
a crimson butterfly from the old coat, which the other children seized
upon with joy. She heard the governor's question and her grandfather's
answer.

"It is my Abner's only child."

Then Katy's eyes met the stranger's bright gaze. She halted in the
middle of the room, as though she did not know exactly what she was
doing. Their praise embarrassed her, her foolish anger at David Hartman
hurt her, her head swam. Even her joy seemed to smother her. This great
man had hated Millerstown, as she hated Millerstown, sometimes, or he
would not have gone away; he had loved it as she did, or he would not
have come back to laugh and weep with his old friends. Perhaps he, too,
had wanted everything and had not known how to get it; perhaps he, too,
had wanted to fly and had not known where to find wings! A consciousness
of his friendliness, of his kinship, seized upon her. He would
understand her, help her! And like the child she was, Katy ran to him.
Indeed, he understood even now, for stooping to kiss her, he hid her
foolish tears from Millerstown.



                              CHAPTER III

                             THE GREAT MAN


ON ordinary Christmas days, when only the squire and the doctor and
Uncle Edwin and Aunt Sally and little Adam and Bevy Schnepp dined at
Grandfather Gaumer's, Grandmother Gaumer and Bevy prepared a fairly
elaborate feast. There was always a turkey, a twenty-five pounder with
potato filling, there were all procurable vegetables, there were always
cakes and pies and preserves and jellies without number. One gave one's
self up with cheerful helplessness to indigestion, one resigned one's
self to next day's headache--that is, if one were not a Gaumer. No
Gaumer ever had headache.

It cannot be claimed for Katy that she was of much assistance to her
elders on this Christmas Day, tall girl though she was. Grandfather
Gaumer and the governor started soon after breakfast to pay calls in the
village and her thoughts were with them. How glad every one would be to
see the governor; how they would press cakes and candy upon him; how he
would joke with them; how they would treasure what he said! What a
wonderful thing it was to be famous and to have every one admire you!

"I would keep the chair he sat in," said Katy. "I would put it away and
keep it."

Presently Katy saw Katy Gaumer coming back to her native Millerstown,
covered with honors, of what sort Katy did not exactly know, and going
about on Christmas morning to see the Millerstown Christmas trees and to
receive the homage of a delighted community.

Meanwhile, Katy tripped over her own feet and sent a dish flying from
the kitchen table, and started to fill the teakettle from the
milk-pitcher. Finally, to Bevy Schnepp's disgust, Katy spilled the salt.
Bevy was as much one of the party as the governor. She moved swiftly
about, her little face twisted into a knot, profoundly conscious of the
importance of her position as assistant to the chief cook on this great
day, her shrill voice now breathing forth commands, now recounting
strange tales. Grandmother Gaumer, to whose kitchen Bevy was a thrice
daily visitor, had long ago accustomed herself not to listen to the flow
of speech, and had thereby probably saved her own reason.

"You fetch me hurry a few coals, Katy. Now don't load yourself down so
you cannot walk! 'The more haste the less speed!' Adam, you take your
feet to yourself or they will get stepped on for sure. Gran'mom, your
pies! You better get them out or they burn to nothing! Go in where the
Putz is, Adam, then you are not all the time under the folks' feet.
Sally Edwin, you peel a few more potatoes for me, will you, Sally, for
the mashed potatoes? Mashed potatoes go down like nothing. Ach, I had
the worst time with my supper yesterday! The chicken wouldn't get, and
the governor was there. I tell you, the Old Rip was in it! But I carried
the pan three times round the house and then it done fine for me. Katy,
if you take another piece of celery, I'll teach you the meaning. To eat
my nice celery that I cleaned for dinner! And the hard, yet! If you want
celery, fetch some for yourself and clean it and eat it. I'd be ashamed,
Katy, a big girl like you! You want to be so high gelernt, you think you
are a platform speaker, yet you would eat celery out of the plate. Look
out, the salt, Katy! Well, Katy! Would you spill the salt, yet! Do you
want to put a hex on everything? I--"

"Bevy!" Katie exploded with alarm.

"What is it?" cried Bevy.

"Your mouth is open!"

"I--I--" Bevy gurgled, then gasped. Bevy was not slow on the uptake. "I
opened it, I opened it a-purpose to tell you what I think of you. I--"

But Katy, hearing an opening door, had gone, dancing into the
sitting-room, where, on great days like this, the feast was spread. The
room was larger than the kitchen; in the center stood the long table,
and in one corner was the Christmas tree with the elaborate "Putz," a
garden in which miniature sheep and cows walked through forests and
swans swam on glass lakelets. Before the "Putz," entranced, sat fat
Adam; near by, beside the shiny "double-burner," the governor and his
brothers and young Dr. Benner were establishing themselves. The governor
had still a hundred questions to ask.

Katy perched herself on the arm of her grandfather's chair, saying to
herself that Bevy might call forever now and she would not answer. The
odor of roasting turkey filled the house, intoxicating the souls of
hungry men, but it was not half so potent as this breath of power, this
atmosphere of the great world of affairs, which surrounded Great-Uncle
Gaumer. Katy's heart thumped as she listened; the great, vague plans
which she had made in the night seemed at one moment possible of
execution, at the next absolutely mad. Her face flushed and her skin
pricked as she thought of making known her desires; her heart seemed to
sink far below its proper resting-place. She listened to the governor
with round, excited eyes, now praying for courage, now yielding to
despair.

The governor's questions did not refer to the great world,--it seemed as
though the world had become of no account to him,--but to Millerstown,
the Millerstown of his youth, of apple-butter matches, of raffles, of
battalions, of the passing through of troops to the war, of the rough
preachers of a stirring age. He remembered many things which his
brothers had forgotten; they and the younger folk listened entranced. As
for Bevy, moving about on tiptoe, so as not to miss a word,--it was a
marvel that she was able to finish the dinner.

"He traveled on horseback," said the governor. "He had nothing to his
name in all the world but his horse and his old saddlebags, and he
visited the people whether they wanted him or not. At our house he was
always welcome,--he stayed once a whole winter,--and on Sundays he used
to give it to us in church, I can tell you! Everything he'd yell out
that would come into his mind. One Sunday he yelled at me, 'There you
stand in the choir, and you couldn't get a pig's bristle between your
teeth. Sing out, Daniel!'

"But he could preach powerfully! He made the people listen! There was no
sleeping in the church when he was in the pulpit. If the young people
did not pay attention, he called right out, 'John, behave! Susy, look at
me!'"

"We have such a preacher here," said Uncle Edwin in his slow way. "He is
a Improved New Mennonite. He--"

"They wear hats with Scripture on them, and they sing, 'If you love your
mother, keep her in the sky,'" interrupted Katy.

"'_Meet_ her in the sky,'" corrected Grandmother Gaumer. "That has some
sense to it."

"He won't read the words as they are written in the Bible," went on
Uncle Edwin, apparently not minding the interruption. He shared with the
rest of Katy's kin their foolish opinion of Katy. "He says the words
that are printed fine don't belong there, they are put in. It is like
riding on a bad road, his reading. It goes bump, bump. It sounds very
funny."

"He preaches on queer texts," said Katy. "He preached on 'She Fell in
Love with her Mother-in-Law.'"

"Now, Katy!" admonished Grandmother Gaumer.

Bevy Schnepp had endured as much as she could of insult to the
denomination to which she belonged and to the preacher under whom she
sat.

"Your Lutheran preachers have 'kein Saft und kein Kraft, kein Salz und
kein Peffer' [no sap and no strength, no salt and no pepper]," she
quoted. "They are me too leppish [insipid]. You must give these things a
spiritual meaning. It meant Naomi and Ruth."

The governor smiled his approval at Bevy. "Right you are, Bevy!" Then he
began to ask questions about his former acquaintances.

"What has come over John Hartman?"

"While he is so cross, you mean?" said Grandfather Gaumer. "I don't know
what has come over him. It is a strange thing. He is so long queer that
we forget he was ever any other way."

"Was he ugly this morning?" asked Grandmother Gaumer.

"He didn't ask us to come in and she didn't come to the door at all."

Bevy Schnepp, entering with laden hands, made sharp comment.

"She is afraid her things will get spoiled if the sun or the moon or the
cold air strikes them. She is crazy for cleanness. She will get yet like
fat Abby. Fat Abby once washed her hands fifteen times before breakfast,
and if he (her husband) touched the coffee-pot even to push it back with
his finger if it was boiling over, then she would make fresh."

"And do the Koehlers still live on the mountain?"

"There are only two Koehlers left," answered the squire, "William and
his boy." The squire shook his head solemnly. "It is a queer thing about
the Koehlers, too. The others were honest and right in their minds, but
William, he is none of these things."

"Not _honest_!" said the governor.

"About fifteen years ago he did some bricklaying at the church and he
had the key of the communion cupboard. The solid service was there and
while he was working it disappeared."

"Disappeared!" repeated the governor. "You mean he took it? What could
he do with it?"

"I don't know. Nobody knows. He goes about muttering and praying over
it. They say his boy hardly gets enough to eat. I can't understand it."

"He!" Bevy now had the great turkey platter in her arms; its weight and
her desire to express herself made her gasp. "He! He looks at a penny
till it is a twenty-dollar gold-piece. And you ought to see his boy! He
is for all the world like a girl. 'Like father, like son!' He'll do
something, too, yet."

Katy slid from the arm of her grandfather's chair, her cheeks aflame.

"You have to look at pennies when you are poor," she protested. "You
can't throw money round when you don't have it!"

Bevy slid the platter gently to its place on the table, then she faced
about.

"Now, listen once!" cried she with admiration. "You can't throw money
round when you don't have it, can't you? What do you know about it, you
little chicken?"

Katy's face flushed a deeper crimson. If looks could have slain, Bevy
would have dropped. Young Dr. Benner turned and looked at Katy suddenly
and curiously. She would have gone on expostulating had not Grandmother
Gaumer risen and the other Gaumers with her, all moving with one accord
toward the feast. There was time only for a secret and threatening
gesture toward Bevy, then Katy bent her head with the rest.

"'The eyes of all wait upon Thee,'" said Grandfather Gaumer in German.
"'Thou givest them their meat in due season.'"

Heartily the Gaumers began upon the Christmas feast, the feast beside
which the ordinary Christmas dinner was so poor and simple a thing. Here
was the turkey, done to a turn, here were all possible vegetables, all
possible pies and cakes and preserves. To these Grandmother Gaumer had
added a few common side-dishes, so that her brother-in-law might not
return to the West without a taste, at least, of all the staple foods of
his childhood. There was a slice of home-raised, home-cured ham; there
was a piece of smoked sausage; there was a dish of Sauerkraut and a dish
of "Schnitz und Knöpf,"--these last because the governor had mentioned
them yesterday in his speech. It was well that the squire lived next
door and that Bevy had her own stove to use as well as Grandmother
Gaumer's.

Bevy occupied the chair nearest the kitchen door. There are few class
distinctions in Millerstown, though one is not expected to leave the
station in life in which he was born. It was proper for Bevy to occupy
the position of maid and for little Katy to go to school. If Katy had
undertaken to live out, or Bevy to become learned, Millerstown would
have disapproved of both of them. When each remained in her place, they
were equal.

The governor tasted all the dishes serenely, and Grandmother Gaumer
apologized from beginning to end, as is polite in Millerstown. The
turkey might have been heavier--if he had, he would certainly have
perished long before Grandfather's axe was sharpened for him! The pie
might have been flakier, the sausage might have been smoked a bit
longer--it would have been sinful to add a breath of smoke to what was
already perfect.

"And then it wouldn't have been ready for to-day!" said the governor.

"But we might have begun earlier." Grandmother Gaumer would not yield
her point. "If we had butchered two days earlier, it would have been
better."

When human power could do no more, when Bevy had no more breath for
urgings, such as, "Ach, eat it up once, so it gets away!" or "Ach,
finish it; it stood round long enough already!" the Gaumers pushed back
their chairs and talked with mellower wit and softer hearts of old
times, of father and mother and grandparents, and of the little sister
who had died.

"She was just thirteen," said Governor Gaumer. "She was the liveliest
little girl! I often think if she had lived, she would have made of
herself something different from the other people in Millerstown. But
now she would have been an old woman, think of that!" The governor held
out his hand and Katy came across to him, her eyes filled with tears.
Katy was always easily moved. "Didn't she look like this one?"

"Yes," agreed Grandfather Gaumer. "That I always said."

The governor laid both his hands on Katy's shoulders.

"And what"--said he,--"what are you going to do in this world, Miss
Katy?"

Katy looked up at him with a deep, deep breath. She had thought that
yesterday held a great moment, but here was a much greater one. She
clasped her hands, she gasped again, she looked the governor straight in
the face. Here was her opportunity, the opportunity which she had begun
to think would never come.

"Ach," said Katy with a deep sigh, "when I am through the Millerstown
school, I should like to go to a big school and learn _everything_!"

The governor smiled upon her.

"Everything, Katy!"

"Yes," sighed Katy.

"Listen to her once!" cried Bevy Schnepp with pride.

"Can't you learn enough here?"

"I am already in the next to the highest class," explained Katy. "And
our teacher, he is not a very good one. He wants to be English and a
teacher ought to be English, but he is werry Germaner than the scholars.
He said to us in school, 'We are to have nothing but English here, _do
you versteh_?' That is exactly the way he said it to us. He says lots of
words that are not English. I want to be English. I--"

"Just listen now!" cried Bevy again, her hands piled high with dishes.

"I want to be well educated," finished Katy with glowing cheeks.

"And what would you do when you were educated?" asked the governor.

"I would leave Millerstown," said Katy.

"Why?" asked the governor.

"It would be no use having an education in Millerstown," answered Katy
with conviction. "You have no idea how slow Millerstown is."

"And where did you think you would go?"

"Perhaps to Phildel'phy," answered Katy. "Perhaps I would be a
missionary to Africay."

Strange sounds issued from the throats of Katy's kin.

"You are sure you could do nothing in Millerstown with an education?"
asked the governor.

"It is nothing to do here," explained Katy. "You can walk round
Millerstown a whole evening and you don't hear anything and you don't
see anything."

"Would she like _murders_?" demanded Bevy Schnepp.

"You go in the store and Caleb Stemmel and Danny Koser are too dumb and
lazy even to read the paper, and Sarah Ann Mohr is hemming and everybody
else is sleeping. The married people sit round and don't say anything,
and--"

"Do you want them to _fight_?" Bevy was not discouraged by being
ignored.

"You think it would be better to be a missionary?" said the governor.

"It would be better to be _anything_," declared Katy fervently. "I
_cannot stand_ Millerstown!" Katy clasped her hands and looked into the
face of her distinguished relative. "Oh, please, please make them send
me away to a big school! I prayed for it!" added Katy.

Over Katy's head the eyes of her elders met. The older folk thought of
the little girl who might have been something different, the squire
remembered the journeys he had planned in his youth and the years he had
waited to take them.

But to Katy's chagrin and bitter disappointment, no one said another
word about an education. Grandmother Gaumer suggested that Katy might
help Aunt Sally and Bevy with the dishes. Afterwards, Katy was called
upon to say her piece once more. When little Adam followed with his
Bible verse and was given equal praise, Katy's poor heart, sinking lower
and lower, reached the most depressed position which it is possible for
a heart to assume. Her cause was lost.

Then the governor prepared to start on his long journey to the West.
There he had grown sons and daughters and little grandchildren whom
these Eastern cousins might never see. He kissed Grandmother Gaumer and
his niece Sally and little Adam and Katy, and shook hands with Bevy
Schnepp, then he returned and kissed Grandmother Gaumer once more. There
was something solemn in his farewell; at sight of Grandmother Gaumer's
face Katy was keenly conscious once more of her own despair. From the
window she watched the three old men go down the street, the famous man
who had gone away from Millerstown and the two who had stayed. It seemed
to Katy that the two were less noble because of the obscurity of their
lives.

"Why did gran'pop stay here always?" she asked when she and her
grandmother were alone. "Why did uncle go away?"

"Gran'pop was the oldest, and he and the squire had to stay here. Uncle
had the chance to go."

"But--" Katy crossed to her grandmother's side. Everything was still in
the warm, pine-scented room. "But, grandmother, why do you cry?"

"I am not crying," said grandmother brightly.

"But you look--you look as if"--Katy struggled for words in which to
express her thoughts--"as if everything were finished!"

Grandmother sighed gently. "I am an old woman, Katy, and your uncle is
an old man. We may never see each other again."

"Oh, dear! oh, dear!" cried Katy. "This is a very sad Christmas!"

It was not the sadness of parting which made Katy cry. It was
unthinkable that anything should change for her. Everything would be the
same, always--alas, that it should be so! She, Katy Gaumer, with all her
smartness in school, and all her ability to plan and manage
entertainments, would stay here in this spot until she died. Grandmother
Gaumer, reproaching herself, comforted her for that which was not a
grief at all.

"We will be here a long time yet. And you are to go away to school,
and--"

Katy sprang to her feet.

"Who says it, gran'mom? Who says I dare go to school?"

"Your gran'pop said it, and your uncles said it when you were out with
Bevy. You are to study here till you are through with the highest class,
then you are to go away. Your uncle will find a school: he will send us
catalogues and he will give us advice."

Katy clasped her hands.

"I do not deserve it!"

"You said you prayed for it," reminded Grandmother Gaumer.

"But I prayed without faith," confessed Katy. "I did not believe for one
little minute it would ever come true in this world!"

"Well," said Grandmother Gaumer, "it is coming true."

Here for once was bliss without alloy, here was a rapture without
reaction. Christmas entertainments, at which one did well, ended; there
was no outlook from them, and it was the same with perfect recitations
in school. But this was different. One had the moment's complete joy,
one had also something much better.

"I must study," planned Katy. "I must learn. I must make"--alas, that
one's joy should be another's bitter trial!--"I must make that teacher
learn me everything he knows!"

It was dusk when Grandfather Gaumer came home.

"I told Katy," said Grandmother Gaumer.

"Daniel gave me two hundred dollars to put in the bank in Katy's name,"
announced Grandfather Gaumer solemnly. "It shall be spent for books and
to start Katy. He and the squire and I will see her through."

Katy flung herself upon her grandfather.

"I will learn everything," she promised. "I will make you proud of me.
Like it says in the Sunday School book, 'I will bring home my sheaves.'
And now," said Katy, "I am going to run out to the schoolhouse and
back."

In an instant she was gone, scarlet shawl about her, slamming the door.
Perhaps the two old people sitting together were not sorry to have her
away for a while. The day with its memories and its parting had been
hard, and the mere youthfulness of youth is sometimes difficult for age
to bear.

"Her legs fly like the arms of a windmill," said Grandfather Gaumer.

Then they sat silently together.

Already Katy was halfway out to the schoolhouse. The threatened snow had
fallen and the sky had cleared at sunset. There was still a faint, rosy
glow in the west, a glow which was presently dimmed by the brighter
light which spread over the landscape as the cinder ladle at the furnace
turned out its fiery charge upon the cinder bank. When that flame faded,
the stars were shining brightly; Katy stood in the road before the
schoolhouse and looked up at them and then round about her. The
schoolhouse, glorified by her recent triumph, was further sanctified by
her great hopes. Beside it on the hillside stood the little church,
where she had been confirmed and had had her first communion, where
during the long German sermons she had dreamed many dreams, and where
she had been thrilled by solemn watch-night services. Millerstown was
not without power to impress itself even upon one who hated it.

Now Katy raced down the hill. But she was not ready to go into the
house. She shrieked into Bevy Schnepp's kitchen window; she almost upset
Caleb Stemmel as he plodded to his place behind the stove in the store,
wishing that there were no Christmases; she ran once more to the end of
Locust Street and across to Church Street and looked through the thick
trees at the Hartman house. David had surely some handsome Christmas
gifts from his parents. Then, straining her eyes, she gazed up at the
little white house on the mountain-side. There was not much Christmas
there, that was certain, but Alvin was there, handsome, adorable. Alvin
would pay heed to her if she was going away, the one person in
Millerstown to be educated!

Then Katy stretched out her arms.

"Oh, dear Millerstown!" cried Katy. "Oh, dear, dumb Millerstown, I am
going away from you!"



                               CHAPTER IV

                      THE KOEHLERS' CHRISTMAS DAY


AT Grandfather Gaumer's house, where the governor dined; at the Weygandt
farm where there was another great family dinner; at the Kuhnses, where
Ollie still swelled proudly over yesterday's oratorical triumph; at
Sarah Ann Mohr's, where ten indigent guests filled themselves full of
fat duck,--indeed, one might say at every house in Millerstown, there
was feasting. The very air smelled of roasting and boiling and frying,
and the birds passing overhead stopped and settled hopefully on trees
and roofs.

But in the house of William Koehler, just above Millerstown on the
mountain road, there was no turkey or goose done to a turn, there were
no pies, there was no fine-cake. Here was no mother or grandmother to
make preserves or to compound mincemeat in preparation for this day of
days. What mother there had been was seldom thought of in the little
house.

Here the day passed like any other day, except that it was duller and
less tolerable. There was no school for Alvin and no work for his
father, and they had to spend the long hours together. Alvin did not
like school, but to-day he would cheerfully have gone before daylight
and have remained until dark. His father did not like holidays; they
removed the goal, for which he worked and of which he thought night and
day, a little farther away from him. He would have preferred to work
every day, even on Sundays.

William was a mason by trade, but when there was no mason work for him,
he was willing to turn his hand to anything which would bring him a
little money. Another mason had recently established himself in the
village, urged, it was supposed, by those who were unwilling to admit
Koehler to their houses for the occasional bits of plastering which had
to be done. There was no question that Koehler was very queer. Not only
was he likely to kneel down at any moment and begin to pray, but he did
other singular things. He had once worked until two o'clock in the
afternoon without his dinner, because his watch had stopped and he had
not sense enough to know it. It was not strange that thrifty Millerstown
agreed that he was not a safe person to have about.

Between him and his son there was little sympathy; there was, indeed,
seldom speech. Alvin was bitterly ashamed of his father, of his miserly
ways, of his shabby clothes, and above all, of his insane habit of
praying. William prayed incoherently about the communion service which
he was supposed to have stolen--at least, that was what seemed to be the
burden of his petition. Whether he prayed for grace to return it, or for
forgiveness for having taken it, Millerstown did not know, so confused
was his speech. Alvin's position was a hard one. He was humiliated by
the taunts of the Millerstown boys; he hated the poverty of his life; he
was certain that never had human being been so miserable.

Early on Christmas morning the two had had their breakfast together in
the kitchen of the little white house where they lived, and there Alvin
had made an astonishing request. Alvin was fond of fine clothes; there
was a certain red tie in the village store at which he had looked
longingly for days. Alvin was given to picturing himself, as Katy Gaumer
pictured herself, in conspicuous and important positions in the eyes of
men. Alvin's coveted distinction, however, was of fine apparel, and not
of superior education. He liked to be clean and tidy; he disliked rough
play and rough work which disarranged his clothes and soiled his hands.

"Ach, pop," he begged, "give me a Christmas present!" His eyes filled
with tears, he had been cruelly disappointed because he had found no way
to get the tie in time for the Christmas entertainment. "Everybody has a
Christmas present!"

"A Christmas present!" repeated William Koehler, his quick, darting eyes
shining with amazement. His were not mean features; he had the mouth of
a generous man, and his eyes were full and round. But between his brows
lay a deep depression, as though experience had moulded his forehead
into a shape for which nature had not intended it. If it had not been
for that deep wrinkle, one would have said that he was a gentle, kindly,
humorous soul. "A Christmas present!" said he again.

Without making any further answer, he rose and went out the kitchen door
and down the board walk toward the chicken house. He repeated the
monstrous request again and again, like a person of simple mind.

"A Christmas present! He asks me for a Christmas present!"

When he reached the chicken house, he stood still, leaning against the
fence. The chickens clustered about him with crowings and squawkings,
some flying to his shoulders. Birds and beasts and insects loved and
trusted poor William if human beings did not. It was possible for him to
go about among his bees and handle them as he would without fear of
stings.

Now he paid no heed to the flapping, eager fowl, except to thrust them
away from him. He stood leaning against the fence and looking down upon
the gray landscape. It was not yet quite daylight and the morning was
cloudy. The depression in his forehead deepened; he was looking fixedly
at one spot, John Hartman's house, as though he had never seen it
before, or as though he meant to fix it in his mind forever.

The Hartman house was always there. He had seen it a thousand times,
would see it a thousand times more. On moonlight nights, its wide roofs
glittered, on dark nights a gleaming lamp set on a post before the door
fixed it in place. In winter its light and its great bulk, in summer its
girdle of trees, distinguished it from all the other houses in
Millerstown. William Koehler could see it from every foot of his little
house and garden. It was before his eyes when he worked among his
plants, which seemed to love him also, and when he sat for a few minutes
on his porch, and when he tended his bees or fed his chickens.

Beyond the Hartman house he did not look. There the country spread out
in a wide, cultivated, varicolored plain, with the mountains bounding it
far away. To the right of the village was the little cemetery where his
wife lay buried, and near it the Lutheran church to which they had both
belonged, but he glanced at neither. Sometimes he could see John Hartman
helping his wife from the carriage when they returned from church, or
stamping the snow from his feet before he stepped into his buggy in the
stable yard. Often, at this sight, when there was no one within hearing,
William waved his arms and shouted, as though nothing but a wild sound
could express his emotion. He was not entirely free from the
superstitions in which Bevy and many other Millerstonians believed,
superstitions long since seared upon the souls of a persecuted
generation in the fatherland. He recited the strange verse, supposed to
ward away evil,--

    "Dulix, ix, ux,
    Thou comest not over Pontio,
    Pontio is over Pilato!"--

and he carried about with him a little spray of five-finger grass as a
charm.

When John Hartman drove along the mountain road, his broad shoulders
almost filling his buggy, William had more than once shouted an insane
accusation at him. This Millerstown did not know. Koehler never spoke
thus unless they were alone, and Hartman told no one of the encounter.
One is not likely to tell the world that he has been accused of
stealing, even though the accuser is himself known to be a madman and a
thief. But John Hartman came presently to avoid the mountain road.

After a while William roused himself and fed his chickens and looked
once more at the house of John Hartman. There was smoke rising from the
chimney, and tears came into William's eyes, as though the smoke had
drifted across the fields and had blinded him. Suddenly he struck the
sharp paling a blow with his hard hand and spoke aloud, not with his
usual faltering and mumbling tongue, but clearly and straightforwardly.
William had found a help and a defense.

"I will tell him!" cried he. "This day I will tell my son, Alvin!"

All the long, snowy Christmas morning, Alvin sat about the house. He did
not read because he had no books, and besides, he did not care much for
books. Alvin was a very handsome boy, but he did not have much mind. He
did not sing or whistle on this Christmas morning because he was not
cheerful; he did not whittle because whittling would have wasted both
knife and stick, and his father would have reproved him. He did not walk
out because he was not an active boy like David Hartman, and he did not
visit because he was not liked in Millerstown. He did not take a boy's
part in the games; he was afraid to swim and dive; he whined when he was
hurt.

He looked out the window toward the Hartman house with a vague envy of
David, who had so much while he had so little. He watched his father's
parsimonious preparation of the simple meal--how Grandmother Gaumer and
Bevy Schnepp would have exclaimed at a Christmas dinner of butcher's
ham!

"Oh, the poor souls!" Grandmother Gaumer would have cried. "I might
easily have invited them to us to eat!"

"Where does the money go, then?" Bevy would have demanded. "He surely
earns enough to have anyhow a chicken on Christmas! Where does he put
his money? No sugar in the coffee! Just potatoes fried in ham fat for
vegetables!"

All the long afternoon, also, Alvin sat about the house. He did not
think again of the Hartmans; he did not think of Katy Gaumer, who
thought so frequently of him; he thought of the red tie and wished that
he had money to buy it.

All the long afternoon his father huddled close to the other side of the
stove and muttered to himself as though he were preparing whatever he
meant to tell Alvin. It must be either a very puzzling or a very long
story, or one which required careful rehearsing. When the sun, setting
in a clear sky, had touched the top of a mountain far across the plain,
he began to speak suddenly, as though he had given to himself the
departure of day for a signal. He did not make an elaborate account of
the strange events he had to relate; on the contrary, he could hardly
have omitted a word and have had his meaning clear. He said little of
Alvin's mother; he drew no deductions; he simply told the story.

"Alvin!" cried he, sharply.

Alvin looked up. His head had sunk on his breast; he was at this moment
half asleep. He was startled not alone by the tone of his father's
voice, but by his father's straightened shoulders, by his piercing
glance.

"I am going to tell you something!"

Alvin looked at his father a little eagerly. Perhaps his father was
going to give him a present, after all. It would take only a quarter to
buy the red tie. But it was a very different announcement which William
had to make. He began with an alarming statement.

"After school closes you are to work at the furnace. I let you do
nothing too long already, Alvin!"

"At the furnace!" Alvin's astonishment and alarm made him cry out. He
hated the sight of Oliver Kuhns and Billy Knerr when they came home all
grimy and black.

"I will tell you something," said his father again. "Listen good,
Alvin!"

Alvin needed no such command to make him hearken. Alvin had not much
will, but he was determining with all his power that he would never,
never work in the furnace. He did not observe how his father's cheeks
had paled above his black beard, and how steadily he kept his eyes upon
his son. The story William had to tell was not that of a man whose mind
was gone.

"You know the church?" said William.

"Of course."

"I mean the Lutheran church where I used to go, where my pop went."

"Yes."

"You go in at the front of the church, but the pulpit is at the other
end. There were once long ago two windows, one on each side of the
pulpit. They went almost down to the floor. From there the sun shone in
the people's eyes. You can't remember that, Alvin. That was before your
time."

Alvin sat still, sullenly. This conversation was, after all, only of a
piece with his father's strange mutterings; it had to do with no red
necktie.

"But now the Sunday School is there and those windows are gone this long
time. One is a door into the Sunday School, the other is a wall. I built
that wall, Alvin."

William paused as though for some comment, but Alvin said nothing.

"I was sitting where I am sitting now one evening and she [his wife] was
sitting where you are sitting and you were running round, and the
preacher climbed the hill to us and he came in and he said to me,
'William,' he said, 'it is decided that the big window is to be walled
up. When can you do it?' That was the way he said it, Alvin. I said to
him, 'I can do it to-morrow. I had other work for the afternoon at Zion
Church, but I can put it off.' She could have told you that that was
just what he said and what I said. I was in the congregation and there
was at that time no other mason but me in Millerstown. It was to be made
all smooth, so that nobody could ever tell there was a window there.
Then the preacher, he said to me,--she could tell you that, too, if she
were here,--he said, 'Come in the morning and I will give you the key of
the communion cupboard,' the little cupboard in the wall, Alvin. There
the communion set was kept. It was silver, real silver, all shiny."
William's hands began to tremble and he moistened his dry lips. William
spoke of objects which were to him manifestly holy. His son bent his
head now, not idly and indifferently, but stubbornly. He remembered the
names which the boys had shouted at his father; with all his soul he
recoiled from hearing his father's confession. "There was a silver
pitcher, so high, and a silver plate and a silver cup on a stem like a
goblet. The preacher put it away there and he locked the door always.

"But he gave me the key and I went to my work. I thought once I would
have to open the door and I stuck the key in the lock. It was a funny
key.

"But I didn't need to open the door. I took my dinner along--she could
tell you that. But I didn't need to open the door, and I took the key
out again and put it in my pocket, and when I finished I swept
everything up nice and locked the church door and came down the pike. It
was night already and I went to the preacher and gave him the two keys,
the church key and the other, and got my money. That quick he paid me,
Alvin. He said to me, 'Well, I guess you had a quiet day, William,' and
I said, 'Yes, nobody looked in at me but a little one.' That is what I
said to the preacher _then_, Alvin, exactly that, but it was not true.
But I thought it was true.

"Then I came home and I told her how nice and smooth I had made it--to
this day, you cannot see it was a window there. Now, listen, Alvin!"

The sunset sky was darkening, a rising wind rattled the door in its
latch. The little house was lonely on a winter night, even a bright
night like this. The boy began to be frightened, his father looked at
him with such dagger-like keenness.

"So it went for three weeks, Alvin, and then it was Sunday morning and
here I sat and there she sat and you were running round, and it came a
knock at the door and there was the preacher. I was studying my lesson
for the Sunday School. It was about Ananias. I had learned the answers
and the Golden Text, but it was not yet time to go. I always went to
church; I liked to go to church. Then there came this knocking, Alvin,
and it was the preacher. I thought perhaps he had come to give her the
communion while she wasn't very well and couldn't go down through the
snow. The preacher came in and he looked at me.

"'William,' said the preacher to me, 'do you remember how I gave you the
key to the cupboard when you fixed the wall?'

"'Why, yes,' I said. 'Of course!'

"'William,' said he to me, 'did you open the cupboard?'

"'Why, no,' I said. 'I didn't have to, Para [Pastor].'

"'Were you away from the church?'

"'No,' I said. 'I took my dinner. She can tell you that.'

"'Why, William,' said he to me, 'the communion set is gone! The
communion set is gone,' he said, 'gone!'

"I went with him to the church, Alvin, and I looked into the cupboard.
Everything was gone, Alvin, bag and all. Then I came home and after a
while they came. They wanted to talk, they wanted me to tell them
everything that had happened all day. But I couldn't tell them anything.
I had built the wall and a little one had talked to me, that was all.
There she sat and here I sat and it was dark. Then, Alvin, it came to
me! When I got halfway up the window, it was too high to go farther, and
I went out of the church to get boards and build a platform across
chairs so that I could reach. I was gone some little time, and when I
came back Hartman was going down the pike. It was Hartman that took the
communion set."

Alvin moved toward the side of his chair, and away from his father.

"Then I got up and went down the hill, and into Hartman's house I
walked. He was sitting by the table with his best clothes on to go to
church and she was there, too. They were always rich; they had
everything grand. I made tracks on her clean floor, and she looked sharp
at me, but I did not care. I spoke right up to him.

"'When I was building the wall in the church,' I said, 'I went out for a
few boards. In that time you were in the church and took the communion
set.'

"He did not look at me, Alvin; he just sat there.

"'What would I do with a communion set?' he said after a while to me.

"'I do not know what you would do with it,' I said back to him, 'but you
have it. You took it. God will punish you like Ananias.'

"Then, Alvin--" William laid a hand on his son's shrinking arm. "He went
to the preacher, and the preacher came to me and said I must be quiet.
That the preacher said to me! Then I went to church and prayed out loud
before all the people that God would punish the wicked. I did not
mention any names, Alvin; I obeyed the preacher in that! But God did not
punish him. Everything gets better and better for him all the time. Now,
I will punish him, Alvin, and you will help me. I have paid a lot to
detectives, but I have not yet enough. He must be watched; we must have
proof. I cannot save so much any more because I have not so much work.
Now, if you work at the furnace you will make a dollar a day. It will
take all we can earn, Alvin, _all_. I did without things that I need; I
have saved all I can, but I cannot save enough."

William broke off suddenly. The room was quite dark; where no light was
needed, none was made in William Koehler's house. William rose and went
stumbling about and lit the lamp, the lamp which Katy saw gleaming
against the dark side of the mountain. In its light poor William gazed
at his son with yearning. He seemed now perfectly sane.

Then William spoke in a hollow, astonished voice, the lamp rattling in
his hand.

"Don't you believe he took it, Alvin?"

"Why, no," stammered Alvin. "What would he want with it?"



                               CHAPTER V

                         ANOTHER CHRISTMAS DAY


IN the Hartman house on Christmas Day there was feasting, but no
rejoicing. Cassie Hartman was fully as able a cook as Grandmother
Gaumer, and she roasted as large a turkey and prepared almost as many
delicacies as Grandmother Gaumer and Bevy Schnepp prepared for their
great party. On the kitchen settle were gifts, a gold breastpin set with
a handsome diamond, a heavy gold watch-chain, a boy's suit, a gun, and a
five-dollar gold-piece. There were on them no affectionate inscriptions,
no good wishes. The breastpin was for Cassie, the watch-chain for John
Hartman, the other articles for David. There were no gifts from
outsiders--few Millerstonians would have ventured to offer gifts to the
rich Hartmans. In the parlor windows hung holly wreaths, the only bought
wreaths in Millerstown.

The Hartmans had asked no guests to their feast. John had long since
separated himself from the friends of his youth; as for Cassie, the
thought of the footprints of Christmas guests on her flag walk and her
carefully scrubbed porches would have made the day even more
uncomfortable than it was. Moreover, one could not entertain Christmas
company in the kitchen, however fine that kitchen might be, and in this
wintry weather fires would have to be made in the parlor and the
dining-room.

"Company would track dust so for me," Cassie would have said if any one
had suggested that some companions of his own age might do David good
and might not be a bad thing for his elders. "When you have fires, you
have ashes, and I would then have to clean my house in the middle of
winter when you cannot clean the carpets right."

Cassie Hartman was a beautiful woman, how beautiful Millerstown, which
set a higher value upon mere prettiness than upon beauty, did not know.
Her figure was tall and full and she bore herself with grace and
dignity. Her face with its even features and its full gray eyes was the
face of an austere saint, although her eyes, lifting when you addressed
her, seemed rather to hide her real character than reveal it. But her
character was austere and reserved, of that you were sure.

If Cassie's soul was a consecrated one, the gods to whom one would have
assigned her worship were Cleanliness and Order. The very progress of
her husband and son about the house annoyed her because it was masculine
and untidy. David knew better than to enter the kitchen with muddy
shoes, but his father was not so careful; therefore both trod upon an
upper layer of slightly worn rag carpet, superimposed upon the bright
and immaculate lower layer. In all other details but one of the
management of her house Cassie had her way. Her husband refused
stubbornly to leave the great walnut bed and the large room in which he
slept for a smaller room at the back of the house, as Cassie wished, so
that the great best bedrooms might be garnished day and night with their
proper spreads and counterpanes and shams.

Each of Cassie's days and hours had its appointed task. She could have
told how her time would be spent from now on until the last hour before
her passing, when the preacher would come in the proper Lutheran fashion
to give her the communion. The Church required no such ceremony, but
Cassie was a formalist in religion and required it for herself.

So the three Hartmans ate alone in their broad kitchen, John Hartman at
one end of the table, Cassie far away at the other, and David midway
between them. John Hartman's eyes were hardly lifted above his food; he
was an intolerably silent person. Cassie's eyes roved everywhere, from
her stove, which she could scarcely wait to blacken, toward her husband
who ate carelessly, and toward her son, who devoured his drumstick with
due regard for the clean cloth. The cloth was spotless and would
probably remain spotless, for an extra white cover had been laid beneath
the plates of John and David. But to-morrow it would go into the tub,
none the less. It was too good to be used every day, and it could not be
put away bearing even the slight wrinkles produced by unfolding. Cassie
had no more to say than her husband. There was really nothing for Cassie
to say. Her mental processes involved herself and her house, they
responded to no inspiration from without.

As for little David, he said nothing either. Katy Gaumer had been right
when she said that David was a cross boy. David was cross and sullen.
To-day, however, he was only solemn. David was deeply concerned about
his sins. He was not only a sinner in general, but he had sinned in a
very particular way, and he was unhappy. The turkey did not taste as a
Christmas turkey should, and his second slice of mince-pie was bitter.

When John Hartman had eaten all he could, he rose and put on his coat
and went out to his great barn to feed his stock. He went silently, as
was his wont.

When David had finished the last morsel of pie which he was able to
swallow, he, too, put on his hat and went toward the door, moving
silently and slouchingly. There he stood and nervously kicked the sill.
His eyes, gray like his mother's, looked out from under frowning,
knitted brows; he thrust his hands deep into his pockets and looked down
at the floor. This was Christmas Day; his parents had treated him
generously; he was convinced that he ought to confess to them his great
wickedness. He felt as though he might cry, and as though crying, if he
had a shoulder to lean on, would be a soothing and healing operation.
The assault of Katy Gaumer had sunk deep into his heart, as was natural
since he thought of Katy night and day, since he saw her wherever she
went in her red dress, now scolding, now laughing, and perpetually in
motion. He had fled to the attic of the schoolroom yesterday because she
had not spoken to him or looked at him, had even passed him with her
weight planted for an instant heavily on his foot without even
acknowledging his presence. And to the attic she had followed him and
had there taunted and insulted him! She had no business to say that he
was cross and ugly; he would be nice enough to her if she would return
the compliment. As for Grandmother Gaumer's cakes, he had better cakes
at home than Grandmother Gaumer could bake!

David's heart was sore, and David was inexpressibly lonely and
miserable. He was now certain that he would be happy if he could confess
his sins to his mother.

He forgot the last occasion of his appeal to her. Then his finger had
been cut, and he had been dizzy and had seized hold of her, and the
blood had fallen down on her new silk dress. He forgot her reproof; he
remembered only that he needed some sort of human tenderness. His father
did not often speak to him, but women were made, or should be made, of
different stuff from men. He had seen Susannah Kuhns sit with her great
Ollie upon her lap, and Ollie was older than he was by a year. He had
heard Katy Gaumer, who had been so outrageously cruel to him, cry over a
sick kitten, and Katy was herself often rocked like a baby on
Grandmother Gaumer's knee.

David forgot now not only the cut finger, but other repulses. He had no
claim on Grandmother Gaumer's embrace, and he would have hated to have
to sit on Susannah Kuhns's knee, but upon this tall, beautiful person
sitting by the table, he had a claim. Moreover, her embraces would have
been pleasant.

"Mom!" said David.

Cassie's eyes were now on the dishes before her. She liked to plan her
mode of attack upon a piece of work, and then proceed swiftly, keeping
her mind a blank to everything but the pleasure of seeing order grow
where disorder had been. Thus she liked to go through her fine house,
sweeping the rich carpets, polishing the carved furniture, letting the
sunlight in only long enough to show each infamous dust mote. Cassie was
in the midst of such planning now; she saw the dishes neatly piled, the
hot suds in the pan, her sleeves rolled above her elbows. She did not
answer David, did not even hear him.

"Mom!" said David again. He did not know now exactly what he had meant
to say. The necessity for confession had dwindled to a necessity for the
sound of his mother's voice. It was dismal to live in a house with
companions who seemed deaf and blind to one's existence. She _must_
speak to him!

At the second call, Cassie looked at her son. Cassie recognized dirt and
disorder, but she did not recognize any need of the human soul. The
needs of her own soul had been, Cassie thought, cruelly denied. At any
rate, its power of perception had failed.

"You stamp on that sill again and I'll have to scrub it, David! To spoil
things on Christmas!"

Cassie's voice contained no threat of punishment; it was merely mildly
exclamatory. The tone of it was not vibrant but wooden. It might have
been rich and beautiful in youth; now it expressed no emotion; it was
flat, empty. She did not ask David what he wanted, or why he addressed
her; she did not even wonder why he stopped in the doorway and stared at
her. She only frowned at him, until he closed the door, himself outside.
David had all the clothes he could wear, all the food he could eat; he
had the finest house, the richest father and the most capable mother in
Millerstown; what more could he wish to make him happy? His mother did
not speculate as to whether he was happy or not.

David crossed the yard in the freshly fallen snow and slammed the gate
behind him. Then he went toward the mountain road, and started to climb,
passing the house of the Koehlers, where William sat on one side of the
stove and Alvin on the other, the one muttering to himself, the other
half asleep. David kicked the snow as he walked, his head bent lower and
lower on his breast. He could see Katy Gaumer like a sprite in her red
dress with her flashing eyes and her pointing finger; he could see her
smiling at Alvin Koehler, whom he hated without dreaming that in that
son of a demented and dishonest father Katy Gaumer could have any
possible interest.

As he started up the steepest part of the hill, he began to talk aloud.

"I want her!" said poor little David. "I want Katy! I want Katy!"

Presently David left the road, and climbing over the worm fence into the
woodland, struck off diagonally among the trees. Still far above him, at
the summit of the little mountain, there was a rough pile of rocks which
formed a tiny cairn or cave. Before it was a small platform, parapeted
by a great boulder. Generations past had named the spot, without any
apparent reason, the "Sheep Stable." It was a favorite resort of David
Hartman. Here, in secret, far above Millerstown, he carried on the
wicked practices which he had meant to confess to his mother. From the
little plateau one could look for miles and miles over a wide, rich,
beautiful plain, could see the church spires of a dozen villages, the
smoke curling upward from three or four great blast furnaces, set in the
midst of wide fields, and could look far beyond the range of hills which
bounded the view of William Koehler on his lower level, to another
range. The Pennsylvania German made his home only in fertile spots. When
other settlers passed the thickly forested lands because of the great
labor of felling the trees and preparing the soil, he selected the
sections bearing the tallest trees and had as his own the fertile land
forever.

David did not look out over the wide, pure expanse upon which a few
flakes were still falling and beyond which the sun would soon sink
gorgeously, nor did he see the purple shadows under the pine trees, nor
observe the glancing motions of a squirrel, watching him from a bough
near by. He determined, desperately, firmly, that he would repent no
more; he would now return to his evil ways and get from them what
satisfaction he could.

He crept on hands and knees into the little cave and felt round under a
mass of dried leaves until his hands encountered the instruments of his
evil practices. Then David drew them forth, a stubby pipe, which he had
smoked once and which had made him deathly ill, and a pack of cards,
about whose mysterious and delightful use he knew nothing. He sat with
them in his hands on the sloping rock, wishing, poor little David, that
he knew how to be wickeder than he was!

Having fed his stock, John Hartman tramped for a little while round his
fields in the snow, then he returned to the kitchen and sat down by the
window with a newspaper. Cassie lay asleep on the settle. Custom forbade
her working on Christmas Day, and she never read, even the almanac. At
her, her husband looked once or twice inscrutably, then he laid his head
on the back of his tall chair and slept also. It was a scene at which
Katy Gaumer would have pointed as proof of the unutterable stupidity of
Millerstown.

When her husband slept, Cassie opened her eyes and looked at him with as
steady a gaze as that which he had bent upon her. Her mouth set itself
in a firm, straight line, her eyes deepened and darkened, her hands,
folded upon her breast, grasped her flesh. Surely between these two was
some great barrier of offense, given or suffered, of strange, wounded
pride, or insufferable humiliation! Presently Cassie's lids fell; she
turned her cheek against the hard back of the old settle and so fell
asleep also.

John Hartman owned four farms and a great stretch of woodland and a
granite quarry on the far side of the mountain and two farms and two
peach orchards and an apple orchard on this. A generation ago a large
deposit of fine iron ore had been discovered upon a tract of land owned
by his father. The deposit was not confined to his fields, but extended
to the lands of his neighbors. But while they sold ore and spent their
money, John Hartman's father, as shrewd a business man as his son, sold
and saved, and laid the foundation of his fortune. In a few years the
discovery of richer, more easily mined deposits in the West and the
cheap importation of foreign ores made the Millerstown ore for the time
not worth the mining. Hartman the elder then covered his mine breaches
and planted timber, and the growth set above the treasure underground
was now thick and valuable. John Hartman was also a director in a county
bank; he owned the finest, largest house in Millerstown; he had a
handsome and a capable wife, and a son who was strong in body and who
had a good mind. Apparently his position in life was secure, his comfort
certain.

John Hartman, however, was neither comfortable nor secure. The long-past
accusations of a poor, half-crazed workingman filled his waking hours
with apprehension and his nights with remorse. Of William Koehler and
his accusation John Hartman was afraid, for William's accusation was, at
least in part, true.

John Hartman had been walking away from the church on that bright
November day years ago, when his own David and Alvin Koehler were little
children and Katy Gaumer not much more than a baby. He had upon him, as
William had said, an air of guilt; he had refused to reply to William's
shouted greeting; he was at that moment rapidly becoming, if he was not
already, what William called him, a thief.

On that November day, a little while before William had shouted at him,
he had come down the pike and had seen William leave the church to get
the boards for his platform, and had thereupon entered the church with
no other impulse than the vague motions of a man sick at heart. A sin of
his earlier youth had risen suddenly from the grave where he thought it
buried, and now confronted him. In his pocket lay an accusing,
threatening letter, written with pale ink upon poor paper in an ignorant
way. The amount of money which it demanded, large as it was, did not
trouble him, since he was already possessor of his inheritance and
growing daily richer; it was the horror of the discovery of his sin.
Once cured of his obsession he had become a devout man, had taken
pleasure in the services of the church of his fathers, attending all her
meetings and contributing to all her causes. He had married a good woman
from a neighboring village, who knew nothing of the year he had spent
away from Millerstown; he had had a son; he was wholly happy.

He had gone during the latter part of the year which he spent away from
home, as a way of escaping from himself, to Europe. He had been only a
few weeks ashore, but he had seen during that time civilizations
different from anything he had dreamed of. He was most moved by great
churches--he saw Notre Dame of Amiens and Notre Dame of Paris--and by
the few great English estates of which he caught glimpses in his rapid
journey to Liverpool. That was the way a man should live, planted in one
place, like a great oak tree, the center of a wide group--a wife,
children, dependents. He should have his garden, his woodland, his great
house, his stables, his beautiful horses; he should pass the home place
on to a son who would perpetuate his name. With such a home and with a
worthy church to worship in, a man could ask for nothing else in the
world.

Repentant, healed, John Hartman had returned to Millerstown. There he
had married and had built his house, with great rooms at the front and
smaller rooms at the back for the servants who should make his wife's
life easy and dignified and should help to care for the little brothers
and sisters whom David was to have. Cassie had had a hard youth; her
father had been a disgrace to his children; she was quiet and stern and
not hopeful, even though John Hartman had lifted her to so high a place,
of very great happiness in this life. But Cassie's nature had seemed to
change in the glow of John Hartman's affection and in the enjoyment of
the luxuries with which he surrounded her. She became less silent; she
met her husband at times with a voluntary caress, which opened in his
heart new springs of happiness.

But here, into this blessed peace and security, into this great
planning, fell, like a dangerous explosive, the threatening letter.
Almost beside himself with fright, worn with three nights' sleepless
vigil, confused with the numerous plans for ridding himself of his
persecutor which he made only to reject, and aware that an immediate
answer must be sent, John Hartman approached the church where William
Koehler had been working.

The open door seemed to invite him to take refuge within. He kept
constantly touching the letter in his pocket. He meant to destroy it,
but it bore an address which he dared not lose. He had been sitting by
the roadside on a fallen log, holding the letter in his hand and writing
absent-mindedly upon it.

In the church he saw William's half-finished work and the curious key in
the little cupboard. As an elder, he had a right to open the door and to
take out the beautiful silver vessels, the extravagance of one
generation which had become the pride of the next. It seemed for an
instant as though a touch of the holy things might give him peace.
Untying the cord of the heavy bag as he laid it on top of William's
half-finished wall, he lifted out the silver chalice.

But the sight of the beautiful vessel gave him no relief, and the cool,
smooth surface made him shiver. He grasped it suddenly and involuntarily
cried out, "Oh, what shall I do! What _shall_ I do!"

The grip of his hand was so strong that the cup slipped from his fingers
and striking the top of William's wall, bounded into the dark aperture
which the building of the wall had made. He reached frantically after
it, and the gray bag, containing the pitcher and paten, struck by his
elbow, followed the silver cup.

For an instant the accident drove the more serious trouble from John
Hartman's mind. He had great reverence for the sacred vessels and he was
afraid that the fall had bruised their beautiful surfaces. He tried to
reach the bag, which lay uppermost, but it was just beyond the tips of
his fingers at the longest reach of his arm. He would have to get
William Koehler to help him, much as he disliked to confess to such
carelessness. William would be shocked and horrified.

Then, suddenly, John Hartman gave a sharp cry. In his struggle to reach
the gray bag, the letter had dropped from his pocket. He had not put it
back into its envelope after his last anguished reading; he could see it
now as it lay spread out below him in the darkness. His frantic eyes
seemed to read each word on the dim page. "Your wife will know about it,
and your little boy and all the country." If he called William to help
him, William might read the letter. Even if William made no actual
effort to decipher it, a single glance might reveal that some one was
threatening John Hartman.

He thought that he heard William coming through the new Sunday School
room and in panic, and without stopping to reason beyond the swift
conclusion that if William's attention were not called to them, he would
not see the bag and the letter far down in the narrow pit, he turned and
locked the cupboard door and went out the door of the church and down
the road. He did not reflect that William might easily discover that the
communion set was gone, that he might accidentally drop his trowel into
the deep hole and in reaching it find the dreadful letter, and that he
might give an alarm, and all be lost; his only thought was to get away.

He remembered dimly that he had brushed aside a little child in his rush
to the church door. When he reached the door, he held himself back from
running by a mighty effort and walked slowly down the pike, little Katy
Gaumer toddling fearfully behind him. It was easy to pretend that he did
not hear William call. Already he had planned how he would restore the
silver to its place. He knew that William was engaged that afternoon to
work at Zion Church; therefore the wall would not be closed that day.

At night he would go to the church with a hoe or rake and lift out the
sacred vessels and the dreadful letter, whose very proximity to them was
sacrilege. If the pitcher and the chalice and the plate had suffered
harm, he would explain that he had taken them to the jeweler to be
polished, and he would then have them repaired.

But William postponed his work at Zion Church, and that night, when John
Hartman stole back to replace the silver, the wall was finished and the
mortar set.

That night, also, John Hartman learned with absolute certainty that his
persecutor was dead, and his persecution at an end.

"They do not know that the communion set is gone," thought he.
"To-morrow I will find a way."

But in a sort of stupor, from which he roused himself now and then to
make wild and fruitless plans, John Hartman let the days go by. The blow
he had received had affected him not only mentally, but physically, and
he was slow to recover from it, past though the danger was. He went
about his farms, he looked earnestly upon his wife, he clasped his
little boy in his arms to assure himself that his two treasures were
real.

But the more certain he became that the ghost of the past was laid, the
more terribly did the present specter rise to harass him. Communion
Sunday was approaching, the loss of the communion service would be
discovered. There were moments when the distracted man prayed for a
miracle. He had been delivered from that other terror by an act of
Providence which was almost a miracle; would he not be similarly saved
in a situation in which he was innocent?

He thought of going at night and tearing the wall down and restoring the
service to its place, leaving the strange vandalism a mystery to
horrified Millerstown. How happy he should be to pay for the rebuilding
of the wall! But the task was too difficult, discovery too probable.

As the days passed, another way out of his trouble occurred to him. He
would go to William Koehler and tell him all his misery. William was a
good-natured, quiet soul, who could be persuaded to silence, or who
might set a price upon silence, if silence were a salable commodity.
William could easily find an excuse for doing his work over; it was well
known that he was foolishly particular. It never occurred to John that
suspicion of theft would probably fall upon honest, simple William, who
had had the key of the cupboard and who had been the whole day alone in
the church. He got no farther than his own terrible problem. He had
dropped the silver into the wall; both letter and silver were there
convicting him; he must find a way to get them both out and to put the
silver in its place.

But he allowed day after day to pass and did not visit William. William
was, after all, only a day laborer of the stupid family of Koehlers and
John was a property owner and an elder in the church; it would be
intolerably humiliating to make such a confession. Communion Sunday was
still two weeks away; there would be time for him to make some other
plan.

When Communion Sunday morning came, John had still no plan. Moving as in
a trance, he went with his wife to church, to find the congregation
gathered into wondering, distressed groups. The door of the little
cupboard was open, and beside it was the smooth, newly painted wall. It
was too late for John to ask William Koehler for help in his difficulty.

He did not realize that all about him his fellow church members were
whispering about William; he did not hear that William was accused, he
was so dazed by the fortunate complications of his own situation. They
did not dream of his agency! He would replace the set with a much more
beautiful one. This generation would pass away long before the wall
would be taken down and then the letter would be utterly destroyed by
age or dampness. He said to himself that God had been very good to him;
he even dared to thank Him during the confused, uneasy service which the
pastor conducted upon his return from the house of William Koehler.

And if William were accused, William had only to deny that he had seen
the communion service or that he had even opened the door! He might, if
worse came to worst, let them search his house. John wished
patronizingly that he could give William a little advice. He pitied
William.

By night this pity had changed to hate. For like the wildcats, whose
leap from above he had feared as a child when he walked the mountain
road, so William leaped upon him with his charge.

"You took it!" insisted William. "You stole the communion set!"

Here was ruin, indeed! But Cassie thought the man mad; she paid no
attention to his frantic words; she was concerned only about the state
of her snow-tracked floor. Hope leaped in the breast of John Hartman. No
living soul would believe such an accusation against him!

When William had gone, John put on his coat and went to the house of the
preacher. He even forced himself to use one of Millerstown's interesting
idioms, one of the last humorous expressions of John Hartman's life.

"William Koehler came to me and accused me of stealing the communion
service," said he. "There is one rafter too few or too many in his
little house."

The preacher shook his head.

"There is something very wrong with poor William," said he sorrowfully.

With a firm step John Hartman returned to his house. When it was time
for the evening service he went to church as was his custom.

John Hartman's bank account increased steadily; he added field to field
and orchard to orchard. His great safe in the dining-room held papers of
greater and greater value; his great Swiss barns with their deep
forebays and their mammoth haylofts were enlarged; his orchards bent
under their weight of fruit. But John Hartman did not say to his soul,
"Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." With his soul poor John
held a different sort of converse.

Desperately he tried to fix his mind upon his many affairs, so that he
might shut out the recollection of William Koehler and the sound of his
mad voice. He was afraid for a long time that he, John Hartman, might
rise suddenly in church and make rash confession, or that he might point
out to his fellow directors in the bank the black-bearded, sharp-eyed
face, which he saw looking at him over their shoulders, or that he might
shout out upon the street his secret.

Gradually he succeeded in thinking only of his work. The sudden
appearance of William Koehler gave him a strange trembling of the limbs
and an oppression about the heart, that was all. William made no further
accusation for a long time, and encounters could be avoided. Long before
William had begun to pray aloud, dropping down in front of the
post-office or at a street corner, Millerstown had become certain that
he was crazy. His unintelligible prayers betrayed nothing.

But, slowly, as his mind turned itself a little from its own
wretchedness, poor Hartman became aware of an enemy in his own
household. To his caresses his wife ceased to respond; she had become
once more the silent, cold woman of their earliest married life, whom he
had chosen because she and the woman who had victimized him were as far
apart as the poles in character and disposition. At first poor Hartman
thought that she felt his neglect of her during the weeks of his misery;
he tried now to be all the more tender and affectionate. If he could
only find here a refuge, if he could only lay before her his wretched
state! But confession to Cassie was impossible; one had only to look
upon her to see that!

Presently Hartman decided that she believed William's accusation, and he
became enraged with her because she would believe that to which no one
else in Millerstown would give an instant's credence. "Let her believe!"
said he then in his despair. She became in his mind a partner of William
against him. Let each do his worst; they could convict him of nothing.

In reality it was Hartman's earlier sin which was no more his secret. He
had delayed too long in answering the demand for money and a letter had
been written to Cassie also, and Cassie had hardened her heart against
him, hardened her heart even against her child. Cassie had had a sad
life; her heart was only a little softened as yet by her happiness.

"I will not care," cried poor Cassie. "I will henceforth set my heart
on nothing!"

Cassie was a woman of mighty will; her youth had trained her to
strength. When her child climbed her knee, she put him away from her;
when she remembered John Hartman's hopes for the occupation of the many
rooms he had built in his house, she shook her head with a deep,
choking, indrawn breath. It could never, never be!

But the human heart must have some object for its care or it will cease
to beat. Upon her possessions, her house, her carpets, her furniture,
Cassie set now her affection. These inanimate things had no power to
deceive, to betray, to torture. Gradually they became so precious that
her great rooms were like shrines, into which she went but seldom, but
to which her heart turned as she sat alone by her kitchen window with
her sewing or lay awake by her husband's side in the great wonderfully
bedecked walnut bed which, to her thinking, human use profaned.

Thus, in the same house, eating at the same table, sitting side by side
in church, watching their son grow into a young manhood which was as
silent as their middle age, the guilty man and the unforgiving woman had
lived side by side for almost fifteen years this Christmas Day. John
Hartman had built no great church, rising like a cathedral on the
hillside. He had not even presented the church with a communion service,
being afraid of rousing suspicion. He had gathered great store for
himself--an object in life toward which he had never aimed.

Millerstown suspected nothing, neither of the sin of John Hartman's
youth, nor of his strange connection with the disappearance of the
communion service, nor of poor Cassie's aching, hardening heart.
Millerstown, like the rest of the world, accepted people as they were;
it did not seek for excuses or explanations or springs of action. John
Hartman was a silent and taciturn man--few persons remembered that he
had been otherwise. Cassie was so unpleasantly particular about her
belongings that she would not invite her neighbors to quiltings and
apple-butter boilings, and so inhumanly unsocial that she would not
attend those functions at other houses. There was an end of the
Hartmans.

Gradually a second change came over John Hartman. His horror of
discovery became a horror of his sin; he was bowed with grief and
remorse.

"He has gone crazy over it!" he lamented. "William Koehler has gone
crazy over it. I wish"--poor Hartman spoke with agony--"I wish he had
proved it against me. Then it would all have been over long ago!"

When William Koehler's wife died, John Hartman struggled terribly with
himself, but could not bring himself to make confession. From an upper
window he watched the little cortège leave the house on the hill; he saw
William lift his little boy into the carriage; he saw the cortège
disappear in the whirling snow. But still he was silent.

When William in his insanity mortgaged his little house in order to pay
dishonest and thieving men to watch John Hartman, John Hartman secured
the mortgage and treasured it against the time when he would prove to
William that he had tried to do well by him. John Hartman also bought
other mortgages. When Oliver Kuhns, the elder, squandered his little
inheritance in the only spree of his life, John Hartman helped him to
keep the whole matter from Millerstown and restored to him his house.
When one of the Fackenthals, yielding to a mad impulse to speculate,
used the money of the school board and lost it, John Hartman gave him
the money in secret. Proud Emma Loos never knew that her husband had
wasted her little patrimony before he died. Sarah Benner never
discovered that for days threat of prison hung over her son and that
John Hartman helped him to make good what he had stolen.

But John Hartman's benefactions did not ease his soul. He came to see
clearly that he must have peace of mind or he would die. He no longer
thought of the disgrace to his wife and son; his thoughts had been for
so long fixed upon himself that he could put himself in the place of no
one else.

"To-morrow I will make this right," he would say, and forever,
"To-morrow, to-morrow!"

But the years passed and William Koehler grew more mad and John Hartman
more rich and more silent, and the silver service lay deep in the pit
between the church and the Sunday School. The little building was solid,
it was amply large, it would serve many generations. Katy Gaumer,
brushed out of his path by John Hartman as he sought the door that
November day, recalled nothing of the incident except that her childish
dignity had been wounded. It was Katy herself who said that nothing ever
happened in Millerstown!

Presently the beating of John Hartman's pulse quickened; it became
difficult for him to draw a long, free, comfortable breath. Dr. Benner,
whom he consulted, said that he must eat less and must walk more. John
Hartman said to himself that now, before another day passed, he would go
to the little house on the mountain-side and begin to set right the
awful wrong of his youth. But still he planned to go to-morrow instead
of to-day. Finally, one afternoon in May, he had his horse put into the
buggy and drove slowly up the mountain road.



                               CHAPTER VI

                         THE MILLERSTOWN SCHOOL


THE 24th of December, with its great Christmas entertainment, had closed
a term of average accomplishment in the Millerstown school. Alvin
Koehler and David Hartman, who composed the highest class, had been, the
one as idle, the other as sullen, as usual. The children had learned
about as much as the Millerstown children were accustomed to learn in an
equal time, they had been reprimanded about as often. The teacher had
roared at them with the vehemence usually required for the management of
such young savages as Coonie Schnable and Ollie Kuhns and Katy Gaumer.
Katy, in the second class, had not nearly enough to keep her busy; there
remained on her hands too many moments to be devoted to the invention of
mischief.

But now, suddenly, began a new era in the Millerstown school. Mr.
Carpenter, recovering at happy ease in his home in a neighboring village
from the strain put upon him by the stupidity and impertinence and
laziness of his pupils, was to be further irritated and annoyed.

School opened on New Year's morning, and Mr. Carpenter rose a little
late from his comfortable bed at Sarah Ann Mohr's and ate hurriedly his
breakfast of delicious panhaas and smoked sausage. Haste at meals always
tried the sybarite soul of Mr. Carpenter. He was cross because he had to
get up; he was cross because he had to teach school; he was cross at
Sarah Ann because she urged him to further speed. Sarah Ann always
mothered and grandmothered the teacher.

"You will come late, teacher. You will have to hurry yourself. It is not
a good thing to be late on New Year's already, teacher. New Year,"--went
on Sarah Ann in her provokingly placid way,--"New Year should be always
a fresh start in our lives."

Mr. Carpenter slammed the kitchen door; he would have liked to be one of
his own scholars for the moment and to have turned and made a face at
Sarah Ann. He was not interested in fresh starts. Taking his own
deliberate, comfortable time, he started out the pike.

Then, suddenly, the clear, sweet notes of the schoolhouse bell, whose
rope it was his high office to pull, astonished the ears of the
teacher. It was one of the impertinent boys,--Ollie Kuhns, in all
probability,--who thus dared to reprove his master.

"It will give a good thrashing for that one, whoever he is," Mr.
Carpenter promised himself. "He will begin the New Year fine. He will
ache on the New Year."

But the bell rang slowly, its stroke was not such as the arm of a strong
boy could produce. Indeed, Mr. Carpenter never allowed the boys to ring
the bell, because there responded at once to the sound the whole of
alarmed Millerstown seeking to rescue its children from fire. The bell
had, moreover, to Mr. Carpenter's puzzled ears, a solemn tone, as though
it portended things of moment. Faster Mr. Carpenter moved along, past
the Squire's where Whiskey barked at him, and he hissed a little at
Whiskey; past Grandfather Gaumer's, where he thought of Grandfather's
Katy and her ways with bitter disapproval, to the open spaces of the
pike.

The bell still rang solemnly, as Mr. Carpenter hurried across the yard
and up the steps.

In the vestibule of the schoolhouse, he stood still, dumb, paralyzed.
The ringer of the bell, the inventor of woe still unsuspected by Mr.
Carpenter, stood before him. During the Christmas holiday, Katy's best
dress had become her everyday dress; its red was redder than Katy's
cheeks, brighter than her eyes; it had upon her teacher the well-known
effect of that brilliant color upon certain temperaments. Mr.
Carpenter's cheeks began to match it in hue; he opened his lips several
times to speak, but was unable to bring forth a sound.

Katy gave the rope another long, deliberate pull, then she eased her
arms by letting them drop heavily to her sides. From within the
schoolroom the children, even Ollie Kuhns, watched in admiration and
awe. Katy was always independent, always impertinent, but she had never
before dared to usurp the teacher's place.

"Say!" Thus in a terrible voice did Mr. Carpenter finally succeed in
addressing his pupil. "Who told you you had the dare to ring this bell?"

To this question Katy returned no answer. With eased arms she brushed
vigorously until she had removed the lint which had gathered on her
dress, then she walked into the schoolroom, denuded now of its greens
and flags and reduced to the dullness of every day. Her teacher
continued his admonitions as he followed her up the aisle.

"I guess you think you are very smart, Katy. Well, you are not smart,
that is what you are not. I would give you a good whipping if I did
right, that is what I would do. I--"

To the amazement of her school-fellows, Katy, after lingering a moment
at her desk, followed Mr. Carpenter to the front of the room. She still
made no answer, she only approached him solemnly. Was she going, of her
own accord, to deliver herself up to punishment? Mr. Carpenter's heavy
rod had never dared to touch the shoulders of Katy Gaumer, whose whole
"Freundschaft" was on the school board.

The Millerstown school ceased speculating and gave itself to
observation. Upon the teacher's desk, Katy laid, one by one, three books
and a pamphlet. Then Katy spoke, and the sound of the school bell,
solemn as it had been, was not half so ominous, so filled with alarming
import as Katy's words. She stood beside the desk, she offered first one
book to the master, then another.

"Here is a algebray," explained Katy; "here is a geometry, here is a
Latin book. Here is a catalogue that tells about these things. I am
going to college; I must know many things that I never yet heard of in
this world. And you"--announced Katy--"you are to learn me!"

"What!" cried Mr. Carpenter.

"I am sorry for all the bad things I did already in this school." The
Millerstown children quivered with excitement; on the last seat Ollie
Kuhns pretended to fall headlong into the aisle. Alvin Koehler looked up
with mild interest from his desk which he had been idly contemplating,
and David Hartman blushed scarlet. Poor David's pipe had not yet cured
him of love. "I will do better from now on," promised Katy. "And
you"--again this ominous refrain--"you are to learn me!"

"You cannot study those things!" cried Mr. Carpenter in triumph. "You
are not even in the first class!"

"I will move to the first class," announced Katy. "This week I have
studied all the first class spelling. You cannot catch me on a single
word. I can spell them in syllables and not in syllables. I can say _l_,
_l_, or double _l_. I can say them backwards. I have worked also all the
examples in the first class arithmetic. The squire"--thus did Katy
dangle the chains of Mr. Carpenter's servitude before his disgusted
eyes--"the squire, he heard me the spelling, and the doctor, he looked
at my examples. They were all right. It will not be long before I catch
up with those two in the first class." Katy flushed a deeper red. Over
and over she said to herself, "I shall be in the first class with Alvin,
I shall be in the first class with Alvin!" Her knees began suddenly to
tremble and she started back to her desk, scarcely knowing which way she
went.

As she passed down the aisle, she felt upon her David Hartman's glance.
He sat in the last row, his head down between his shoulders. As Katy
drew near, his gaze dropped to the hem of her red dress. David's heart
thumped; it seemed to him that every one in the school must see that he
was in love with Katy Gaumer. He hated himself for it.

"Don't you want me in your class, David?" asked Katy foolishly and
flippantly. Katy spoke a dozen times before she thought once.

David looked up at her, then he looked down. His eyes smarted; he was
terrified lest he cry.

"I have one dumb one in my class already," said he. "I guess I can stand
another."

Katy dropped into her seat with a slam. The teacher's hand was poised
above the bell which called the school to order, and for Katy, at least,
there was to be no more ignoring of times and seasons.

"Dumb?" repeated Katy. "You will see who is the dumb one!"

With the loud ringing of the teacher's bell a new order began in the
Millerstown school. Its first manifestation was beneficent, rather than
otherwise. It became apparent that with Katy Gaumer orderly, the school
was orderly. The morning passed and then the afternoon without a pause
in its busy labors. No one was whipped, no one was sent to the corner,
no one was even reproved. A studious Katy seemed to set an example to
the school; a respectful Katy seemed to establish an atmosphere of
respect. Mr. Carpenter was wholly pleased.

But Mr. Carpenter's pleasure did not last. Mr. Carpenter became swiftly
aware of a worse condition than that of the past. Mr. Carpenter had been
lifted from the frying-pan and laid upon the fire.

To her teacher's dismay, Katy came early in the morning to ask
questions; she stayed in the schoolroom at recess to ask questions;
sometimes, indeed, she visited her afflicted teacher in the evenings to
ask questions. Katy enjoyed visiting him in the evenings, because then
Sarah Ann Mohr, sitting on the other side of the table, her delectable
Millerstown "Star" forgotten, her sewing in her lap, her lips parted,
burned before her favorite the incense of speechless admiration. Poor
Mr. Carpenter grew thin and white, and his little mustache drooped as
though all hope had gone from him. Mr. Carpenter learned to his bitter
sorrow that algebra and geometry were no idle threats, and Mr.
Carpenter, who had put his normal school learning, as he thought,
forever behind him, had to go painfully in search of it. The squire was
Katy's uncle, the doctor was her cousin; they were all on Katy's side;
they helped her with her lessons; they encouraged her in this morbid and
unhealthy desire for learning, and the teacher did not dare to refuse
her. The difficulties of the civil service examination appalled him; he
could never pass; he must at all costs keep the Millerstown school.

Occasionally, as of old, Katy corrected him, but now her corrections
were involuntary and were immediately apologized for.

"You must not say 'craddle'; you must say 'crawl' or 'creep,'" directed
Katy. "Ach, I am sorry! I did not mean to say that! But how"--this with
desperate appeal--"how can I learn if you do not make it right?"

Sometimes Katy threatened poor Mr. Carpenter with Greek; then Mr.
Carpenter would have welcomed the Socratic cup.

"My patience is all," he groaned. "Do they take me for a dictionary? Do
they think I am a encyclopædia?"

Still, through the long winter Katy's relatives continued to spoil her.
In Millerstown there has never been any objection to educating women
simply because they are women. The Millerstown woman has always had
exactly what she wanted. The normal schools and high schools in
Pennsylvania German sections have always had more women students than
men. If Katy wanted an education, she should have it; indeed, in the
sudden Gaumer madness, Katy should have had the moon if she had asked
for it and if her friends could have got it for her. Her grandfather and
grandmother talked about her as they sat together in the evenings while
Katy was extracting knowledge from the squire or from the doctor or from
Mr. Carpenter, never dreaming that they were rapidly ruining the
Benjamin of their old age. They had trained many children, and the
squire had admonished all Millerstown, but Katy was never admonished by
any of them. They liked her bright speech, they liked her ambition, they
allowed themselves the luxury of indulging her in everything she wanted.

"She is that smart!" Bevy Schnepp expressed the opinion of all Katy's
kin. "When she is high gelernt [learned], she will speak in many woices
[tongues]."

Of all her relatives none spoiled Katy quite so recklessly as young Dr.
Benner. There was not enough practice in healthy Millerstown to keep him
busy, and Katy amused and entertained him. He liked to take her about
with him in his buggy; he liked to give her hard problems, and to see to
what lengths of memorizing she could go. Dr. Benner had theories about
the education of children and he expounded them with the cheerful
conceit of bachelors and maiden ladies. Dr. Benner, indeed, had theories
about everything. It was absurd, to Dr. Benner's thinking, ever to
restrain a healthy child from learning.

"Let 'em absorb," said he. "They won't take more than is good for 'em."

Dr. Benner was nearly enough related to Katy to be called a cousin, yet
far enough removed to be stirred into something like jealousy at Katy's
enthusiastic defense of the Koehlers. Katy should have no youthful
entanglement--Dr. Benner remembered his own early development and
flushed shamefacedly--to prevent her from growing into the remarkable
person she might become. Dr. Benner decided that she must be got away
from Millerstown as soon as possible; she had been already too much
influenced by its German ways. Katy was meant for higher things. For a
while young Dr. Benner felt that, pruned and polished, Katy was meant
for him!

Meanwhile, Katy was to be saved from further contamination by being kept
constantly busy. It pleased him to see her devoted to algebra, and he
was constantly suggesting new departures in learning to her aspiring
mind. It was unfortunate that each new suggestion included a compliment.

"I believe you could sing, Katy," said he, one March day, as, with Katy
beside him, he drove slowly down the mountain road.

The landscape lay before them, wide, lovely, smiling, full of color in
the clear sunshine. Far away a bright spot showed where the sun was
reflected from the spires and roofs of the county seat; here and there
the blast furnaces lifted the smoky banner of prosperous times.

Katy's cheeks were red, her dark hair blew across her forehead; it was
with difficulty that she sat still beside the doctor. Spring was coming,
life was coming.

"Sing?" said Katy, "I sing? I would like that better than anything I can
think of in this world. I would rather be a singer than a missionary."

There was really nothing in the world that Katy would not have liked to
do, except to stay in Millerstown and be inconspicuous; there was
nothing in the world which she questioned her ultimate ability to do.

The doctor chuckled at Katy's comparison, which Katy had not intended to
be funny.

"A classmate of mine is coming to see me next week. He teaches singing,
and I'm going to get him to hear your voice. Won't that be fine, Katy?"

"Everything is fine," answered Katy.

The doctor's classmate arrived; for him Katy _oh'd_ and _ah'd_ through
an astonishingly wide range. The young man was enthusiastic over her
vocal possibilities.

"But he says you mustn't take lessons for another year," said Dr.
Benner.

Again he and Katy were driving down the mountain road. They had climbed
this afternoon to the Sheep Stable, and from there had gazed at the
glorious prospect and had counted through a glass the scattered villages
and the church spires in the county seat.

Katy's blood tingled in her veins. She had never dreamed that she could
_sing_! She had never seen a picture which was painted by hand or she
would now have been certain that she could become a great artist. She
determined that some day she would return to the Sheep Stable alone and
there sing for her own satisfaction. She had not sung her best for the
doctor's friend down in grandmother's parlor, her best meaning her
loudest. At the Sheep Stable there would be no walls to confine the
great sounds she would produce.

"I will sing so that they hear me at Allentown," she planned. "I have no
time now, but when I have time I will go once. It is so nice not to be
dumb," finished Katy with great satisfaction.

The winter passed like a dream. Presently an interesting change came
about in the Millerstown school and in its teacher. Perhaps Mr.
Carpenter was mortified, as well as driven into it, but there sprang up
somehow in his soul a decent, honest ambition. Delving painfully after
forgotten knowledge, he studied to some purpose, and it began to seem as
though even civil service questions might become easy and Mr. Carpenter
pass his examinations at last. For the first few weeks of the new
régime, he was able to keep only a lesson or two ahead of his pupils,
but, little by little, that space widened. As if in pure spite, Mr.
Carpenter learned his lessons. Then he assumed a superior and taunting
air. Katy at the Christmas entertainment had looked at him with no more
disgust than his face now expressed when his pupils gave wrong answers.

"'Gelt regiert die Welt, und Dummheit Millerstown'" (Gold rules the
world and stupidity Millerstown)! Thus Mr. Carpenter adapted a familiar
proverb in comment upon mistakes which he himself would have made a
month ago.

Mr. Carpenter's pupils followed him steadily. David Hartman was more
mature than the others and kept without difficulty at their head. As for
Katy, with the help which Katy had out of school hours, even a dull
child might have done well. It was help which was not unsuspected by
David, but David held his tongue. David felt a fierce, unwilling pride
in Katy's spirit.

But there was another sort of help being given and received which David
resented jealously and indignantly, hardly believing the evidence of his
own ears and eyes. David had taken some pleasure in the winter's work.
He sat daily beside Katy in class; it was not possible for her to be
always rude and curt. David was also puzzled and moved by a change in
his father. He often met his father's glance when he lifted his own eyes
suddenly, and it seemed to him that his father had come to realize his
existence. His heart softened; he was pathetically quick to respond to
signs of affection. It seemed to him that each day brought with it the
possibility of some new, extraordinary happening. Several times he was
on the point of putting his arm about his father's shoulders as he sat
with his paper. Without being conscious of it, John Hartman showed
outwardly the signs of the inward struggle. Never had his yearning,
repressed love for the boy so tortured him, never had it demanded so
insistently an outward expression. But he repressed himself a little
longer. When he should have made all right with William Koehler, then
would he yield to the impulses of fatherhood. That bound poor Hartman
had set himself.

Katy remembered all her life, even if Alvin Koehler did not, the day on
which Alvin set to work with diligence. He often looked at her
curiously, as if he could not understand her. But Alvin gave earnest
thought only to himself, to his hopeless situation with a half-mad and
dishonest father and the dismal prospect of working in the furnace. His
father seemed to be becoming more wild. There were times when Alvin
feared violence at his hands. He talked to himself all day long, making
frequent mention of John Hartman. Sometimes Alvin thought vaguely of
warning the squire or John Hartman himself about his father. He believed
less and less his father's crazy story.

Sometimes Alvin stared at Katy and blinked like an owl in his effort to
account for her alternate shyness and kindness. Alvin was not accustomed
to being treated kindly.

"And what will you do when you are educated?" he inquired.

"What will I do?" repeated Katy, her heart thumping as it always did
when Alvin spoke to her. "I will teach and I will earn a great deal of
money and travel over the whole world and buy me souvenirs. And I will
sing."

It was very pleasant to tell Alvin of her prospects. Perhaps he would
walk home with her from church on Sunday. Then how Essie Hill, in spite
of all her outward piety, would hate her! The secret of mild Essie's
soul was not a secret from Katy.

"Will you teach in a school like Millerstown?" asked Alvin.

"Millerstown! Never! It would have to be a bigger school than
Millerstown."

Alvin looked up at Mr. Carpenter. It was recess and Mr. Carpenter was
hearing a spelling class which had not learned its lesson for the
morning recitation. Mr. Carpenter did not appear at his best, judged by
the usually accepted standards of etiquette; he leaned back lazily in
his chair, his feet propped on his desk, his hands clasped above his
head; but to Alvin there was nothing inelegant in his attitude. Mr.
Carpenter was an enviable person; he never needed to soil his hands or
to have a grimy face or to carry a dinner pail.

"Teaching would be nice work," said Alvin drearily. "But I can never
learn this Latin. I am all the time getting farther behind. It gets
every day worse and worse."

"Oh, but you can learn it!" cried Katy, her face aglow. If he would
only, only, let her help! "I will show you. Here are my sentences for
to-day. The doctor went over them and he says they are all right." And
blushing, with her heart pounding more than ever, Katy returned to her
seat.

There was a difficult sentence in that day's lesson, a sentence over
which David Hartman had puzzled and on which he failed. Then the teacher
called on Alvin, simply as a matter of form. The school had begun to
giggle a little when they heard his name. But now up he rose, the dull,
the stupid, the ordinary, and read the sentence perfectly! At him David
Hartman stared with scarlet face. He expected that the teacher would
rise and annihilate Alvin, but the teacher passed to the next sentence.
Mr. Carpenter was at the present time angry at David; he was rather glad
he was discomfited. Such was the nature of Mr. Carpenter!

To Alvin David said nothing, but upon the shoulder of Katy Gaumer,
putting on her cloak in the cupboard after school, David laid a heavy
hand.

"You helped Alvin!" David's hand quivered with astonishment and anger
and from the touch of Katy's shoulder. "It is cheating. Some day I am
going to catch you at it before the whole school."

Before she could answer, if she could have made answer at all, David was
gone. She hated him; she would help Alvin all she liked until he had
caught up, and afterwards, too, if she pleased. Alvin had had no chance,
and David had everything, a rich father, fine clothes and money. It was
perfectly fair for her to help Alvin. She hated all the Hartmans. She
was furiously angry and it hurt to be angry. It did not occur to her to
be ashamed of Alvin who would accept a girl's translation. With a whirl
and a flirting of her skirts, Katy sailed through the door and down the
pike.

"You will sit in Millerstown!" she declared to the empty air. "But I am
going away! Nothing ever happens in Millerstown. Millerstown is nothing
worth!" Then Katy stood still, dizzy with all the glorious prospect of
life. "I am going away! I am going away!"



                              CHAPTER VII

                              THE BEE CURE


JANUARY and March and April passed, and still Mr. Carpenter and his
pupils studied diligently. David Hartman did not carry out his threat to
expose Katy; such a course would have been impossible. Day after day it
seemed more certain that his father was about to say to him some
extraordinary thing. He saw his father helping himself out of his buggy
with a hand on the dashboard; he saw that hand tremble. But his father
still said nothing. That May day when John Hartman would at last begin
to right the wrong he had done had not yet arrived.

In spite of all Katy's efforts she could not pass above David in school.
Alvin Koehler needed less and less help, now that he was convinced that
through learning lay the way to ease and comfort, to the luxurious
possession of several suits of clothes, to a seat upon a platform. Mr.
Carpenter would never have to do hard work; Alvin determined to model
his life after that of his teacher. He scarcely spoke to his father now,
and he grew more and more afraid of him.

In May the Millerstown school broke its fine record for diligence and
steady attendance. The trees were in leaf, the air was sweet, the sky
was dimmed by a soft haze, as though the creating earth smoked visibly.
Locust blooms filled the air with their wine-like perfume, flowers
starred the meadows. Grandmother Gaumer's garden inside its stone wall
was so thickly set with hyacinths and tulips and narcissus that one
wondered where summer flowers would find a place. Daily Katy gathered
armfuls of purple flags and long sprays of flowering currant and stiff
branches of japonica and bestowed them upon all who asked. Katy learned
her lessons in the garden and planned for the future in the garden and
thought of Alvin in the garden.

One day, unrest came suddenly upon the Millerstown boys; imprisonment
within four walls was intolerable. Even Katy, yearning for an education,
was affected by the warmth of the first real summer day, and Alvin
Koehler wished for once that he had learned to swim, so that he could go
with the other boys to bathe in Weygandt's dam. Alvin had not yet bought
the red necktie; money was more scarce than ever this spring. Alvin's
whole soul demanded clothes. He reflected upon the impression he had
made upon Katy Gaumer; he observed the blush which reddened the smooth
cheek of Essie Hill at his approach; he was increasingly certain that
his was an unusual and attractive personality.

All through the long May afternoon, Katy studied with great effort,
wishing that she, too, had played truant, and had climbed to the Sheep
Stable as she had long planned, there to discover the full volume of her
voice. She looked across at Alvin, but Alvin did not look back.

All the long afternoon Alvin gazed idly at his algebra, and all the long
afternoon David Hartman and Jimmie Weygandt and Ollie Kuhns and the two
Fackenthals and Billy Knerr and Coonie Schnable braved the wrath of Mr.
Carpenter and played truant. First they traveled to the top of the
mountain, then raced each other down over rock and fallen tree; and
then, hot and tired, plunged into Weygandt's dam, which was fed by a
cold stream from the mountain. When the water grew unendurable, they
came out to the bank, rubbed themselves to a glow with their shirts, and
hanging the shirts on bushes to dry, plunged back with shouts and
splashing.

Mr. Carpenter did not greatly regret their absence. Upon him, too,
spring fever had descended; he was too lazy to hear thoroughly the
lessons of the pupils who remained. When the lowest class droned its
"ten times ten iss a hundred," Mr. Carpenter was nodding; when they sang
out in drowsy mischief, "'laven times 'laven iss a hundred and 'laven,"
Mr. Carpenter was asleep.

Mr. Carpenter planned no immediate punishment for his insubordinate
pupils. The threat that he would tell their parents would be a powerful
and valuable weapon in his hands for the rest of the term. The
Millerstown parents had fixed theories about the heinousness of truancy.

But though Mr. Carpenter planned no punishment, punishment was meted
out.

The stroke of the gods was curiously manifested. The next morning the
disobedient seven ate their breakfasts in their several homes, in
apparently normal health, unless a sudden frown or twist of lip or an
outburst of bad temper might be said to constitute symptoms of disorder.
One or two clung closely to the kitchen stove, though the day was even
warmer than yesterday, and David Hartman visited surreptitiously the
cupboard in which his mother kept the cough medicine with which he was
occasionally dosed. With a wry face he took a long swallow from the
bottle. Ollie Kuhns hung round his neck the little bag filled with
asafoedita, which had been used in a similar manner for the baby's
whooping-cough, and Jimmie Weygandt applied to himself the contents of a
flask from the barn window, labeled "Dr. Whitcraft's Embrocation, Good
for Man and Beast."

All left their homes and walked down the street with the stiff
uprightness of carriage which had prevented their families from
realizing how grievously they were afflicted. But one and all, they
forgot their household chores. Billy Knerr's mother commanded him loudly
to return and to fill the coal bucket, but Billy walked on as calmly as
though he were deaf, and turned the corner into the alley with a
thankful sigh.

There his erectness vanished. He stood and rubbed his knee with a
mournful "By Hedes!" an exclamation of unknown origin and supposed
profanity much affected by him and his friends, and henceforth walked
with a limp. A little ahead was Ollie Kuhns, who, when shouted at,
turned round bodily and stood waiting as stiff and straight as a wooden
soldier. It was difficult to believe that this was the supple "Bosco,
the Wild Man, Eats 'em Alive," who rattled his chains and raised his
voice in terrifying howls in the schoolhouse cellar.

"Where have _you_ got it?" demanded Billy.

"In my neck. I cannot move my head an inch."

"I have it in my knee. Indeed, I thought I would never get out of bed.
My mom is hollering after me yet to fetch coal, but I could not fetch
coal if they would chop off my head for it."

"Do you suppose any one else has it like this?"

Billy did not need to answer. The alley through which they walked led
out to the pike, where moved before them a strange procession. The
vanquished after a battle could have worn no more agonized aspect, could
not have been much more strangely contorted.

"Both my arms are stiff," wailed Coonie Schnable. "It is one side as bad
as the other."

"I can't bend over," announced the older Fackenthal, woefully. "I gave
my little sister a penny to tie my shoes and not say anything."

"Did any of you tell your folks?" demanded Ollie. "Because if you did we
will all get thrashed."

A spirited "No!" answered the insulting question.

"I got one licking from my pop last week," mourned Billy Knerr. "That
will last, anyhow a while." The pain in Billy's knee was so sharp that
sometimes, in spite of all his efforts, tears rolled down his cheeks.
"You'll never catch me in that dam again, so you know it!"

"It wasn't the dam," said David Hartman, irritably. David could not
indicate a spot on his body which did not ache. "We were too hot and we
stayed too long. Ach! Ouch! I'll--" The other pupils of the Millerstown
school had crowded about the sufferers and had jostled against them and
David turned stiffly upon them with murder in his heart. But it was
impossible to pursue even the nearest offender, Alvin Koehler. Instead
David cried babyishly, "Just you wait once till I catch you!"

Not for the world would unsuspecting Alvin have jostled him
intentionally. He knew better than to offer to any schoolmate a gage to
physical conflict. They were too strong and there were too many of them.
He saw the jostled David speak to Billy Knerr; he saw Billy Knerr
approach him and he turned, ready for flight.

Then Alvin's eyes opened, his cheeks flushed. Billy called to him in a
tone which was almost beseeching, "Wait once, Alvin! Do you want to make
some money, Alvin?"

At once the red tie, still coveted and sighed for, danced before Alvin's
longing eyes. Money! he would do anything to make money! He stood still
and let Billy approach, not quite daring to trust him.

"What money?" he asked, hopefully, yet suspiciously.

"Come over here once," said Billy.

With great hope and at the same time with deadly fear, Alvin ventured
toward the afflicted crew.

"We have the rheumatism," explained Billy.

"Where?" asked Alvin stupidly.

"Where!" stormed Ollie, with a violence which almost ended the
negotiations. "Where! In our legs and our backs and our arms and our
eyelids." Ollie was not one to wait with patience. "We will give you a
penny each for a bee in a bottle. Will you sell us a bee in a bottle, or
won't you?"

Alvin's eyes glittered; fright gave place to joy. There has always been
a tradition in Millerstown that the sting of a bee will cure rheumatism.
The theory has nothing to do with witchcraft or pow-wowing; it seems
more like the brilliant invention of a practical joker. Perhaps
improvement was coincident with the original experiment, or perhaps the
powerful counter-irritant makes the sufferer forget the lesser woe. Bee
stings are not popular, it must be confessed; they are used as a last
resort, like the saline infusion, or like a powerful injection of
strychnia for a failing heart.

Strangers had often come to be stung by William Koehler's bees, but
Alvin had never heard that any of them were cured. Alvin himself had
tried the remedy once for a bruise with no good result. One patient had
used violent language and had demanded the return of the nickel which he
had given William, and William was weak enough to pass it over. But now
the red tie fluttered more and more enticingly before Alvin's eyes. If
he could earn seven cents by putting seven of his father's bees in
bottles, well and good. It made no difference if the patients were
deceived about the salutary effects of bee stings.

Then into the quickened mind of Alvin flashed a brilliant plan.

"I will do it for three cents apiece," he announced with craft. "I
cannot bann [charm] them so good as pop. They will perhaps sting me."

Alvin's daring _coup_ was successful.

"Well, three cents, then. But you must get them here by recess." Ollie
Kuhns groaned. He was not used to pain, and it seemed to him that his
agony was spreading to fresh fields. "Clear out or the teacher will get
you and he won't let you go. He's coming!"

With a great spring, Alvin dropped down on the other side of the stone
fence, and lay still until the teacher had shepherded his flock into the
schoolroom. By this time not only the red tie, but a whole new suit
dazzled the eyes of Alvin. Old man Fackenthal bottled his cough cure and
sold it all about the county. Why should not bees be bottled and labeled
and sold? If their sting was supposed to be so valuable a cure, they
would be a desired commodity. Alvin had told a lie when he had said he
could not "bann" bees as well as his father, for he had over them the
same hypnotic influence. He saw himself spending the rest of his life
raising them and catching them and bottling them and selling them. There
would have to be air holes through the corks of the bottles so that they
could breathe, and a few drops of honey within to nourish them, but with
these provisions they could be shipped far and wide.

"They would be powerful mad when they were let out," said Alvin to
himself, as he lay in the lee of the schoolhouse fence. "The people
would get their money's worth."

Alvin saw suddenly all the old people in the world stiff and sore and
all the young people afflicted like Ollie and his friends. He did not
wish for any of them such a fate. He had various weaknesses, but a
vindictive spirit was not one of them. He saw only the possibilities of
a great business. Hearing the schoolhouse bell, and knowing that all
were safely within doors, he started across the fields and up the
mountain-side.

The bargain was consummated in the woodshed, a little frame building
leaning against the blank wall of the schoolhouse. Alvin, hurrying back
from his house, scrambling over fences, weary from his long run, thought
that he was too early with the wares in the basket on his arm. Or could
it be, alas! that he was late and recess was over? That would be too
cruel! With relief he heard the sound of voices in the woodshed where
his patients awaited him.

The truants had endured an hour and a half of torture. They anticipated
punishment for yesterday's misdemeanor, and they had a deadly fear that
that punishment would be physical. Anxiously now from the woodshed,
where they could lie at their ease, they listened for Alvin.

"Perhaps he won't come back," suggested Billy Knerr. "Perhaps he cannot
catch the bees."

Recess was all over but five minutes, and the disheartened sufferers
were expecting the bell, when Alvin appeared. David Hartman had
collected the money against such necessity for haste, and, indeed, had
advanced most of it from his well-lined pocket. Only in such dire
trouble would he have treated with Alvin Koehler; only in this agony
would he have bought from any one such a pig in a poke. If he had been
himself, he would have made Alvin open the basket and would have
examined the contents to be sure that Alvin was playing fair. But now,
with only two minutes to cure himself and his friends of their agony,
there was no time for the ordinary inspection of the articles of trade.

The commodities exchanged hands; twenty-one pennies into Alvin's
outstretched palm, the basket into David's. It took David not much more
than one of his hundred and twenty seconds to open the basket lid, even
though it fitted closely and needed prying. A low, angry murmur, which
the boys had not heard in their pain, changed at once to a loud buzz,
and suddenly the hearts of the most suffering failed them. But the
basket lid was off, and with it came the lid of a fruit jar which stood
within. The bees were not in separate bottles--Alvin maintained stoutly
that separate bottles had not been stipulated--so that one sting could
be applied at a time, like a drop of medicine from a pipette; they were,
or, rather, they had been, in a broad-mouthed jar, whose lid, as I have
said, came off with the basket lid.

Moreover, at this instant the door of the woodshed, impelled by a gentle
May breeze, blew shut and the latch dropped on the outside. There were
seven boys penned into the woodshed and there were at least a hundred
bees. Alvin had been in too much of a hurry to count the precious things
he sold. He had held the jar before the outlet of the hive and the bees
had rushed into it. Granted that honey bees sting but once, and granted
that thirty of these bees did not sting at all, there were still ten for
each patient.

Wildly the frantic prisoners batted the bees about with their bare
hands. There were no hats, there was nothing in the empty woodshed which
could be used as a weapon. Piteously they yelled, from great David
Hartman to the eldest of the Fackenthals.

The uproar reached the ears of Alvin, who was just entering the
schoolhouse door and Alvin fled incontinently to the gate and down the
road. It penetrated to the schoolroom and brought Mr. Carpenter rushing
angrily out. He had rung the school bell; his pupils did not respond; he
thought now that their yells were yells of defiance. Emboldened by
yesterday's success they had arranged some new anarchy. Whatever may
have been the faults of Mr. Carpenter, he was physically equal to such a
situation, short and slender though he was. He tore open the woodshed
door; he caught Ollie Kuhns and shook him before any one could explain.
Then, as he reached for the collar of David Hartman, one of the bees,
which had not already committed suicide by stinging, lit on his hand.
The pain did little to pacify the teacher. The boys, seized one after
the other, had no shame strong enough to keep them from crying. Herded
into the schoolroom, David at the tail end with the teacher's grasp on
his ear, they forgot their rheumatism, they forgot the girls, they
forgot even Alvin himself, who was by this time flying down the road.
They laid their heads upon their desks, and Mr. Carpenter, dancing
about, demanded first of one, then of the other, an explanation of this
madness. Mr. Carpenter forgot his objections to Pennsylvania German; in
this moment of deep anguish he was compelled to have recourse to his
native tongue.

"What do you mean?" roared Mr. Carpenter. "What is this fuss? Are you
crazy? You will catch it! Be quiet! Go to your seats! It will give an
investigation of this! Ruhig!!"

In reality Mr. Carpenter himself was producing most of the confusion.
The grief of those at whom he stormed was silent; they still sat with
heads bent upon their desks. At them their schoolmates gaped, for them
the tender-hearted wept.

As Alvin flew down the pike he began to be frightened. He was not
repentant, not with twenty-one coppers in his pocket! He had a nickel
already and now the beautiful tie was his. He could not go at once to
purchase it for fear that the smitten army behind him might rally and
pursue, nor did he wish to hide his money about the house for fear that
his father might find it. He decided that he would get himself some
dinner and then go walking upon the mountain. It would be well to be
away from home until the time for his father's return. To his house the
lame legs of his schoolmates might follow him, there their lame arms
seize him, but to the Sheep Stable they could not climb. He did not
realize that, as he crossed the fields above his father's house, he was
for a moment plainly exposed to the view of the Millerstown school.

Tired, certain that he was out of reach of the enemy, Alvin lay down on
the great rock which formed the back of the little cave. His heart
throbbed; he was not accustomed to such strenuous exertion of body or to
such rapid and determined operations of mind. He was even a little
frightened by his own bravery and acuteness. He thought for a long time
of himself and for a little time of Katy Gaumer and Essie Hill; then,
deliciously comfortable in the spring sunshine, he fell asleep.

For three hours Alvin lay still on the great rock. Occasionally a
chestnut blossom drifted down on his cheek, and was brushed drowsily
away; occasionally the chatter of a squirrel, impatient of this human
intrusion, made him open his eyes heavily. But each time he dropped into
deeper sleep. The rock was hard, but Alvin was young and, besides, was
not accustomed to a soft bed.

At the end of three hours he woke suddenly. It seemed to him that a dark
cloud had covered the sun or that night had fallen. But a worse danger
than storm or darkness was at hand.

Above him, almost touching his own, bent an angry face.

"Get up!" commanded a stern voice, and Alvin slid off the rock and stood
up.

"Now, fight," David ordered. "I was stiff but I am not so much stiff any
more. But the stiffness you may have for advantage. One, two, three!"

Even with the handicap of stiffness, the advantage was upon the side of
David. He was strong; he was furiously and righteously angry; he had
been shamed in the eyes of Millerstown. Katy Gaumer had seen his
ignominy; she had whispered about him to Sarah Knerr. Alvin was a
coward; he had long been cheating; he had accepted the help of a girl.
Besides, Katy Gaumer was kind to him. For that crime his punishment had
long been gathering.

Automatically Alvin raised his fist. Below them was the steep,
rock-piled hillside; back of them was the rock wall of the Sheep Stable;
and there was no help nearer than Millerstown, far below in its girdle
of tender green. Even through the still air Alvin's cries could not be
heard in the valley. He cried out when David struck him; he begged for
mercy when David laid him on his back on the stony ground. He thought
that there was now no hope for him; he was certain that his last hour
had come. He expected that David would hurl him down over the edge of
the precipice to the sharp rocks far below. He closed his eyes and
moaned.

David had already determined to let his victim go. He was suddenly
deeply interested in certain sensations within himself; he was
distracted from his intention of administering to Alvin all the
punishment he deserved. He felt a strange, uplifted sensation, a
consciousness of strength; he was excited, thrilled. Never before in his
life had he acted so swiftly, so entirely upon impulse. The yielding
body beneath him, Alvin's fright, made him seem powerful to himself. The
world was suddenly a different place; he wanted now to be alone and to
think.

But David had no time to think. As unexpectedly as though sent from
heaven itself arrived the avenger. Katy Gaumer had found time dull and
heavy on her hands. Alvin had vanished; there would be the same lessons
for the next day since one third of the class was absent and one third
incapacitated. Katy was amused at the tears of David and his friends. A
bee sting was nothing, nor yet a little stiffness! Katy had been once
stung by a hornet and she had had a sprained ankle. Katy's heart was
light; she had had recently new compliments from the doctor about her
voice, and she had determined that this afternoon she would ascend to
the Sheep Stable and startle the wide valley with song.

Katy was not lame or afflicted; she climbed gayly the mountain road. Nor
was Katy afraid. She would not have believed that any evil could befall
one so manifestly singled out by Providence for good fortune. She sang
as she went; therefore she did not hear the wails of Alvin. Alvin cried
loudly as he lay upon the ground; therefore he did not hear the song of
Katy.

But Alvin felt suddenly the weight shoved from his body; he saw the
conqueror taken unawares, thrust in his turn upon the ground; and he had
wit and strength enough to scramble to his feet when the incubus was
removed.

"Shame on you!" cried the figure in the red dress to the figure prone
upon the ground. "Shame on you! You big, ugly boy, lie there!" Katy
almost wept in her wrath. It was unfortunate for Katy that she should
have been called upon to behold one toward whom her heart was already
unwisely inclined thus in need of pity and help.

To Alvin's amazement the conqueror, a moment ago mighty in his rage,
obeyed. The arrival of Katy, sudden as it was to him, was even more
sudden to David. David was overwhelmed, outraged. He had not wit to
move; he heard Katy's taunts, saw her stamp her foot; he heard her
command Alvin to come with her, saw her for an instant even take Alvin
by the hand, and saw Alvin follow her. His eyes were blinded; he rubbed
them cruelly, then he turned over on his face and dug his hands into the
ground. From poor David's hot throat there came again that childish
wail. Conquered thus, David was also spiritless; he began to cry, "I
want her! I want her! I want her!"

Aching, motionless, he lay upon the ground. With twitching tail the
squirrel watched from his bough, chattering again his disgust at this
queer human use of his abiding-place. The air grew cool, the blazing sun
sank lower, and David lay still.

Meanwhile, down the mountain road together went Katy Gaumer and Alvin
Koehler.

"He came on me that quick," gasped Alvin. He had brushed the clinging
twigs from his clothes and had smoothed his hair. His curls lay damp
upon his forehead, and his cheeks were scarlet, his chin uplifted.

Katy breathed hard.

"Well, I came on him quick, too!"

Alvin began to gasp nervously. Self-pity overwhelmed him.

"I have nothing in this world," mourned he. "This summer I will have to
work at the furnace. I will have a hard life."

"But I thought you were going to have an education!" cried Katy.

"I cannot," mourned Alvin. "It is no use to try. I am alone in the
world."

Katy turned upon him a glowing face.

"That is nonsense, Alvin! Everybody can have an education. There are
schools where you can study and work, too. It is so at the normal school
where they learn you to teach. I thought you were going to be a teacher,
Alvin!"

"I was," said Alvin. "I would like to be a teacher."

"I will find out about those schools," promised Katy, forever eager to
help, to plan. "I am going away; nothing would keep me in Millerstown.
You must surely go, Alvin!"

"David Hartman can have everything," wailed Alvin, his aching bones
making themselves felt. "He had no business to come after me. He has a
rich pop. He--"

"He has a horrible pop," answered Katy. "He chased me once when I was
little, and I never did him anything. Why, Alvin!" Katy stopped in the
dusty road. "There is David's pop in his buggy at your gate!"

Alvin grew deathly pale, he remembered his father's madness, his
threats, the crime which he had committed and which he blamed upon John
Hartman.

"What is it?" cried Katy. "What ails you, Alvin? He would not dare to
touch me now that I am big. Come!"

"No!" Alvin would not move. "Look once at him, Katy! Something is the
matter with him!"

"I am not afraid," insisted Katy bravely. "I am--he is sick, Alvin; he
is sitting quiet in his buggy." She went close to the wheel. "Mr.
Hartman!" She turned and looked at Alvin, then back at the figure in the
buggy. "His head hangs down, Alvin, and he will not answer me. I believe
he is dead, Alvin!"

Slowly Alvin moved to Katy's side. He laid a hand upon her arm--Katy
thought it was to protect her; in reality Alvin sought support in his
deadly fear.

"I believe it, too, Katy!"

Speechlessly the two gazed at each other. When Alvin had shouted wildly
for his father and Katy had joined her voice to his and there was no
answer, the two set off, hand in hand, running recklessly down the
mountain road.



                              CHAPTER VIII

                WILLIAM KOEHLER MAKES HIS ACCUSATION FOR
                             THE LAST TIME


DUSK was falling when David started down the mountain road. He did not
walk rapidly; sometimes, in his weakness, he stumbled. Bad as his aches
had been when he climbed the mountain hours before, they were worse now,
and added to them was smart of soul. Every spot on his body upon which
Katy had laid her hand burned; she was continually before his eyes in
her kaleidoscopic motions, now running down the pike from school, now
storming at him as he lay on the ground. He tried to hate her, but he
could not. As he stumbled along, his feet kept time to a foolish wail,
"I want her! I want her!" The glow of triumph had faded entirely; David
was more morose, more sullen, more unhappy than ever. His anger with
Alvin had changed to a sly intention to scheme against him until he
could give him a greater punishment than a mere beating. He was not done
with Alvin! His own father was a rich and powerful man; Alvin's father
was a poor, half-witted thief. He thought for the first time with
satisfaction of his father's wealth.

The young moon overhead, the scent of spring in the air, the gentle
breeze against his cheek, all deepened his misery and loneliness. He
said to himself that he had no one in the world. In spite of his vague
conclusions about his father, his father was still the same. There are
persons whose success depends wholly upon their relations with the human
beings nearest to them. Given affection, they expand; denied it, their
souls contract, their powers fail. It is a weakness of the human
creature, but it is none the less real. Resentment was rapidly becoming
a settled attitude of David's mind; his father was postponing
dangerously that opening of his heart to his son of which he thought day
and night.

David wished now that he need not go home; he wished--poor little
David!--that he was dead. He would have his supper and he would go to
bed, and to-morrow there would be another bitter day. He would sit in
school and be conscious of Katy and Alvin and their knowing glances, and
love and hate would tear him asunder once more.

Then David stood still and looked down upon his house. Even though the
trees about it were thickly leafed, he could see lights in unaccustomed
places. The parlor was lighted; in that room David could not remember an
illumination in his lifetime. There were lights also in bedrooms--David
forgot his aches of body and soul in his astonishment. He slept over the
kitchen in one of the little rooms his father had provided for the day
when servants should attend upon the wants of his children; except for
his father's and mother's room the front of the house was never opened.
Had some great stranger come to visit--but that was unthinkable! Was
some one ill--but that would be no reason for the opening of the house!
David did not know what to make of the strange sight. He hurried down
the road, almost falling as he ran.

Then David stood still, looking stupidly at a dark wagon which stood
before the gate. He knew the ownership and the purpose of that vehicle,
but he could not connect it with his house. There dwelt only his father
and his mother and himself, and all of them were alive and well.

A group of children lingered near by, silent, staring at the dark wagon
and the brightly lighted windows. The Hartman house with its
illumination was as strange a phenomenon as the Millerstown children had
ever seen. To them David, still standing at his gate, put a question.

"What is the matter?"

Instantly a small, excited, feminine voice piped out an answer.

"Your father is dead."

"He was sitting in his buggy in the mountain road," another excited
voice went on. "They brought him down here and carried him in."

David went into the yard and along the flag walk, and for the first time
in his life entered his father's house by the wide-open front door,
through which various Millerstonians were passing in and out. This was a
great opportunity for Millerstown. Some one came out of the parlor,
leaving the door ajar, and David saw a long dark figure lying on a low
couch in the middle of the room. What there was to be known about his
father's death he gathered from the conversation of those about him. He
heard pitying exclamations, he felt that in a moment he would burst into
cries of shock and terror. Bitterness fled, he was soft-hearted, weak,
childlike. His father was gone, but there remained another person. He
must find her; in her lay his refuge; she must be his stay, as he must
henceforth be hers. Stumbling back through the hall toward the kitchen,
he sought his mother. He was aware of the kind looks of those about him;
his whole being was softened.

"Mother!" he meant to cry. "Oh, mother! mother!"

He felt her grief; he expected to find her prostrate on the old settle,
or sitting by the table with her head on her arm, weeping. He would
comfort her; he would be a good son to her; he truly loved her.

From the kitchen doorway he heard her voice, clear and toneless, the
voice of every day. She was giving orders to the Millerstown women who
had hastened in with offers of help,--to Grandmother Gaumer and Sarah
Knerr and Susannah Kuhns. She indicated certain jars of canned fruit
which were to be used for the funeral dinner, and planned for the
setting of raised cake and the baking of "fine cake." In Cassie's plan
for her life, she had prepared for this contingency; even now her iron
will was not broken, nor her stern composure lost. She moved about as
David had always seen her move, quiet, capable, self-centered. She shed
no tear; she seemed to David to take actual pleasure in planning and
contriving.

The frantic cry, already on David's lips, died silently away, his throat
stiffened, he drew a long breath. For an instant he stood still in the
doorway; then, with a bent and sullen head, he turned and crept back
through the hall to the front stairs, which had scarcely ever been
touched by his foot, and thence to his tiny room, where he knelt down by
his narrow bed. How terrible was the strange figure under the black
covering, with the blazing lights beating upon it, and the staring
villagers stealing in to look! It seemed incredible that his father
could lie still and suffer their scrutiny. He wished that he might go
down and turn them out. But he did not dare to trust his voice, and
besides, his mother accepted it all as though it were proper and right.
Then David forgot the intruders, forgot his mother. His father was dead,
of whom he had often thought unkindly, and his father was all he had in
the world. He would never be able to speak to him again, never be able
to lay a hand upon his shoulder as he sat reading his paper, never meet
again that sudden glance of incomprehensible distress. Death worked its
alchemy; now at last the poor father had his way with his son's heart.

"He was my father!" cried David. "I have no father!"

His breath choked, his heart seemed to smother him; he felt himself
growing light-headed as he knelt by the low bed. He had had nothing to
eat since noon; he had had since that time many things to suffer; he
thought suddenly in his exhaustion that perhaps he, too, was about to
die.

Presently there was a step in the hall and his heart leaped. Perhaps his
mother had come, perhaps she did not wish to show her grief to these
curious people. But the person outside knocked at the door and his
mother would not have knocked.

"What is it?" asked David.

"It is me," said Bevy. "I brought you a little something to eat."

Bevy waited outside, plate and glass in hand. She had seen David's
entrance and exit. Prompted now partly by kindness and sympathy, and
partly by an altogether human and natural curiosity to see as much of
the house and the bereaved family as she could, Bevy had carried him his
supper. But Bevy was not rewarded, as she had hoped.

"Put it down," commanded a voice from within. "Thank you."

Bevy made another effort.

"Do you want anything, David?"

"No, thank you," said the voice again.

"Yes, well," answered Bevy and went down the front steps. If Bevy could
have had her wish, her whole body would have been one great eye to take
in all this magnificence of thick carpets and fine furniture.

Then, while the mother for whom he hungered made her plans for the great
funeral feast, still customary in country sections, where mourners came
from a long distance, and while Katy Gaumer recounted to curious
Millerstown how she had found John Hartman sitting in his buggy by the
roadside, David ate the raised cake and drank the milk which Bevy
brought him. Then he sat down by the window and looked out into the dark
foliage which on this side touched the house. It had not been John
Hartman's plan to have his house grow damp in the shadow of overhanging
branches, but John Hartman had long since forgotten his plans for
everything.

Sitting here in the darkness, David thought of his father. The puzzle of
that strange character he could not solve, but one thing became clear to
his mind. He saw again that yearning gaze; he remembered from the dim,
almost impenetrable mist which surrounded his childhood, caresses,
laughter, the strong grasp of his father's arms. Finally he lay down on
the bed and went to sleep, a solemn, comforting conclusion in his heart.

"My father loved me," whispered David. "I am sure my father loved me."

A little later David's mother opened his door softly and entering stood
by his bed. She had not seen him in the kitchen; some one had told her
that he had come in and had gone to his room. She saw that he was
covered and that the night air did not blow upon him, and then she took
the empty plate and glass and went back to the kitchen.

Alvin Koehler need not have suspected his father of having had any hand
in the death of John Hartman. William Koehler was in the next village,
where he had half a day's work. While he worked he plotted and planned
and mumbled to himself about his wrongs. It was apoplexy which had
killed John Hartman as he drove up the mountain road; Dr. Benner told of
his warnings, recalled to the mind of Millerstown the scarlet flush
which had for a long time reddened John Hartman's face. If he had taken
the path so long avoided by him in order to confess his crime to the man
he had wronged and thus begin to make his peace with God, he had set too
late upon that journey, for his hour had been appointed. When William,
walking heavily, with his eyes on the ground, came home from Zion
Church, John Hartman lay already in the best room of his house, his
earthly account closed. When he heard the news of John Hartman's death,
William seemed stupefied; it was hard to believe that he understood what
was said to him.

It was not necessary that any provision should be made beyond the great
dinner for the entertainment of guests at the Hartman house.
Nevertheless, the house was cleaned and put in order from top to bottom
for its master's burying. Fluted pillow and sheet shams and lace-trimmed
pillow-cases were brought forth, great feather beds were beaten into
smoothness, elaborate quilts were unfolded from protective wrappings and
were aired and refolded and laid at the foot of beds covered with thick
white counterpanes. There was dusting and sweeping and scrubbing, and,
above all, a vast amount of cooking and baking. The funeral was to be
held in the morning, and afterwards there would be food at the Hartman
house for all those who wished to partake.

Cassie was fitted with a black dress, various bonnets were sent out from
the county seat for her to try, and over each was draped the long black
veil of widowhood,--this, to Cassie, in the opinion of Millerstown, a
crown of independence. Millerstown could form no judgment of Cassie's
feelings. If she had, like William Koehler, any moment of stupefaction,
or, like David, any wild outburst of grief, that fact was kept from a
curious world.

David also was fitted with a suit of black, and together he and his
mother rode in a closed carriage, sent from the county seat, down
through pleasant Millerstown in the May sunshine and out to the church
on the hill.

The service was long, as befitted the dignity of a man of prominence
like John Hartman who had always given liberally to charitable objects,
though he had become of late years an infrequent attendant at church
meetings. The preacher who had heard the accusation of William Koehler
was long since gone; the present pastor who lauded the Christian life of
the dead man knew nothing of any charge against him. He would scarcely
have known William by sight, so entirely had William separated himself
from the life of the village. The preacher had a deep, moving voice, he
spoke with feeling of the death of the righteous, and of the crown laid
up for them in heaven. Many of the congregation wept, some in
recollection of their own dead, some in sad anticipation of that which
must some day befall themselves, and some in grief for John Hartman. Two
men, sitting in opposite corners of the gallery, bowed their heads on
the backs of the benches before them so that their tears might drop
unseen. Oliver Kuhns, the elder, stayed at home from the funeral and at
home from his work, and watched from the window the procession entering
the church, and wept also. John Hartman was not without mourners who
called him blessed!

David and his mother sat in the front pew, near the body, which had been
placed before the pulpit. Upon David had settled a heavy weight of
horror. He had not yet accustomed himself to the fact of his father's
death. Only a few days before he had seen his father moving about, had
sought to read the enigmatic expression in his eyes. But here his father
lay, dead. Living he would never have suffered these stares, this
weeping. Upon David, also, rested the interested, inquisitive eyes. From
the gallery Katy Gaumer looked down upon him; from a seat near her Alvin
Koehler stared about. The smothering desire to cry rushed over David
once more; he slipped his hand inside his stiff collar as though to
choke off the rising sob. Beside him rose the black pillar of his
mother's crape; on the other side was the closed door of the
old-fashioned pew. He was imprisoned; for him there was no escape. The
service would never end; here he would be compelled to sit, forever and
ever.

Then, suddenly, to the startled eyes of David and of Millerstown, there
rose in the right-hand gallery the short, bent figure of a man. The
preacher did not see; Millerstown sat paralyzed. They had never been
really afraid of William Koehler, queer as he was, but now there was
madness in his face. His eyes blazed, his cheeks were pale, he had
scarcely touched food since he had heard of the death of his enemy. He
had not gone to work; he had sat in his little house talking to himself,
and praying that he might, after all, have some sort of revenge upon the
man who had wronged him. Several weeks ago he had consulted a new
detective, who, in the hope of getting a fee, or wishing to have an
excuse for getting rid of him, had given him fresh encouragement. The
sudden ending of his hopes was all the more cruel.

"I have something to say," he announced now in his shrill voice. "This
man lying here is not a good man. I have this to say about him.
He--he--"

Then poor William paused. Already, to his terror, in spite of his
practicing, the words were slipping away from him. He had planned to
tell the story carefully, impressing each detail upon the large
congregation which would gather at the funeral. They _must_ listen to
him. It would be useless to cry out suddenly the whole truth, that John
Hartman was a thief--he had tried that once, and had been silenced by
the preacher. The detective had said that he must get all his proofs
carefully together. He had arranged them in his poor, feeble mind; he
meant to speak as convincingly as the preacher himself. His eyes were
fixed on the smooth gray wall beside the pulpit cupboard; the sight of
it helped to keep his mind clear. There he had been working on the day
when the communion set was taken.

He rubbed his damp hands down the sides of his dusty suit, and a flush
came into his cheeks. He remembered clearly once more what he had to
say.

"I was building up the wall," he said with great precision. "I--"

Stupidly he halted. He began to grow frightened; the unfriendly faces
paralyzed his brain; the words he had planned so carefully slipped all
at once away from him. He pointed at the still figure lying in front of
the pulpit and burst into vehement, frantic speech.

"He stole the communion set!" he cried shrilly. "He stole it! He--"

Poor William got no further. Many persons rose. The two men in opposite
corners of the gallery who had wept started toward him; one of them
opened his lips, as though, like crazy William, he was about to address
the congregation. The paralyzed spectators came to their senses. Hands
were laid upon William. The deacons and elders of the church went toward
the gallery steps, Grandfather Gaumer among them. Even Alvin in his
mortification and shame had still feeling enough to go to his father's
side.

"Come away, pop!" he begged. "Ach, be quiet, pop, and come away!"

"He tells me to be quiet!" cried William in the same shrill tone. "My
son tells me to be quiet!"

Grandfather Gaumer laid a firm hand on his shoulder.

"Come with me, William."

But William was not to be got so quietly away. In the front pew young
David had risen. Was his father not now to have a decent burying?
David's face was aflame; he did not see the madness in the shivering
figure and the bright eyes of William Koehler. William belonged with his
son Alvin, and both were hateful.

But David had no chance to speak. The preacher foolishly held up a
forbidding hand to poor William.

"You cannot say such a thing at this time and not confess that it is not
true. The accused cannot answer for himself."

Poor William rubbed his hands over his eyes. He still had great respect
for the authority of preachers. Besides, he saw John Hartman suddenly as
a dead man, and since his trouble he had always been afraid of death. No
revenge could be visited upon this deaf, impassible object, that was
sure!

"Ach, I forget my mind!" wailed poor William. "I forget my mind!"

Then William could have been led unresisting away. But the preacher,
stupidly insistent, held up his hand again.

"Do you confess that your accusation is not true?" said he.

William placed a hand on either side of his forehead. It seemed as
though his head were bursting and he must hold it close together. There
was now a murmur of speech in the congregation. This terrible scene had
gone on long enough; John Hartman did not need defense from so absurd an
accusation. Then the murmur ceased.

"No!" cried William. "It is not true. I took the communion set myself!"

William was now led away, a final seal put upon the pit in which his
honesty and sanity lay buried. Another unforgivable offense was added to
the sum of unforgivable offenses of the son of William Koehler toward
young David. The confession did not help the Millerstown church to
recover its beautiful silver. William's insanity, the congregation
thought, was the only bar to its recovery.

John Hartman was laid in the grave which had been walled up by the mason
who had taken William Koehler's place in Millerstown, and which had been
lined with evergreens and life everlasting according to Millerstown's
tender custom. Over him prayers were said and another hymn was sung,
"Aus tiefer Noth shrei ich zu dir" (Out of the depths I cry to thee),
familiar to generations of Millerstown's afflicted. Then the procession
returned to John Harman's great house, whispering excitedly.

David sat in his room during the funeral dinner. David was queer; he was
not expected to do as other people did. His fury with the Koehlers took
his thoughts to some extent away from his grief.

That night Cassie did not sleep in the great, comfortable room at the
front of the house which she had shared with her husband, but in a room
even smaller than David's at the back. It contained, instead of the
great walnut four-poster, with its high-piled feather bed to which she
was accustomed, a little painted pine bedstead and a chaff bag; it was
on the north corner of the house and was cold in winter and deprived of
the breeze by the thick foliage in summer. Her husband's fortune was
left to her while she lived; afterwards it was to go to David. Cassie
was amply able to manage it, the investments were safe, the farmers had
been in her husband's employ many years; it was not likely that anything
would disturb the smooth, dull current of Cassie's life.

There was much discussion in Millerstown about whether it was safe for
the community to allow William Koehler to be at large; there was some
comment upon the cooking at the Hartman funeral dinner; then Millerstown
turned its attention to other things. Cassie had behaved just as she
might have been expected to behave. It was surprising, however, that she
had let Millerstown go so thoroughly through her house.

The day after the funeral David went back to the Millerstown school. He
did not glance in the direction of Katy and Alvin, though he could not
help realizing that Katy's skirts did not flirt so gayly past. Katy was
sorry for him, though she did not repent her treatment of him. Her
dresses had suddenly dropped several inches, her flying curls were
twisted up on her head, her eyes were brighter than ever. She was filled
with herself and her own concerns and opinions; she grew daily more
dictatorial, more lordly.

"I am going away!" said she, upon rising.

"I am going to be educated!" said she at noon.

"I can take education," said she at night. "I thank God I am not dumb!"

She and Grandmother Gaumer were increasingly busy with dressmakers'
patterns and with "Lists of Articles to be provided by Students." Life
was at high tide for Katy Gaumer.

Still David kept at the head of his class. In his mind a slow plan was
forming. He would think of Katy no more, of that he was determined, and
he would, as a means of accomplishing that end, leave Millerstown. His
mother was a rich woman; he could do anything in the world he liked. He
would first of all go to college. Afterwards he would study law.

In June he started late one Sunday afternoon to walk to the Sheep
Stable. Overwhelmed as he had been upon that spot, he loved it too well
to stay away. The heavenly prospect was part of his life's fabric and
would continue to be all his days.

As he passed the Koehler house, he heard a strange sound, apparently an
unending repetition of the same phrase. It was William Koehler at his
prayers--Millerstown knew now for what William prayed!

"God will punish _him_!" said David with a hot, dry throat. "If there is
a God"--thus said David in his foolish youth--"if there is a God, he
will punish him! Oh, I wish, I wish I could see my father!"

At the Sheep Stable, as one who opens the book of the dim past, David
took his pipe and cards from their hiding-place and hurled them far down
the mountain-side. He even managed to smile a little sorely at himself.

It was dark when he returned to the village. He did not like to walk
about in the early evenings, past the groups of Millerstonians on the
doorsteps; they talked about him, and he did not like to be talked
about. Now almost all Millerstown had gone to church. The pastor of the
Improved New Mennonites was conducting a meeting in a neighboring
village, but there was service in all the other churches. A few persons
sat on their doorsteps, listening quietly to the music which filled the
air,--the sound of the beautiful German hymns of the Lutherans and the
Reformed, and the less classic compositions of the New Baptists.
Millerstown was like a great common room on summer evenings, with the
friendly sky for ceiling.

Again the young moon rode high in the heavens; again David's young blood
throbbed in his veins; again the miserable, unmanly desire for the girl
who would have nothing to do with him began to devour him. He bit his
lips, wondering drearily where he should go and what he should do. The
night had just begun; he would not be sleepy for hours. Nothing invited
him to the kitchen or to the two little bedrooms to which Cassie had
restricted their living. He had no books, and books would have been
after all poor companions on such a night as this.

David was not an ill-looking boy; he had indeed the promise of growing
handsome as he grew older; he was many times richer than any other young
man of Millerstown. There were probably only two girls in the village to
whom these pleasant characteristics would make no appeal. The first of
these was Katy Gaumer. The second was smooth, pretty, blue-eyed Essie
Hill, the daughter of the preacher of the Improved New Mennonites, who
sat now demurely on her father's doorstep. Beside her David suddenly sat
himself down.



                               CHAPTER IX

                                 CHANGE


IT sometimes happens that death gathers from a single spot a large
harvest in a year. We seem to have been forgotten; we learn to draw once
more the long, secure breath of youth; we almost believe that sorrow
will no more visit us.

For many months Millerstown had had scarcely a funeral. In security
Millerstown went about its daily tasks. Then, in May, John Hartman was
found dead along the mountain road.

In June there came a letter from the Western home of Great-Uncle Gaumer,
telling of a serious illness and the rapid approach of the end of his
life. A few days later, when a telegram announced his death, Grandfather
Gaumer himself dropped to the floor in the office of his brother the
squire and breathed no more. Dr. Benner, who was passing, heard from the
street the crash of his fall and the squire's loud outcry, and Bevy
rushed in from the kitchen. The doctor and the squire knelt beside him,
and still kneeling there, regarded each other with amazement.

Bevy Schnepp lifted her hands above her head and cried out, "Lieber
Himmel!" and stood as if rooted to the floor. "Who will tell her?"

The squire rose from his knees, pale and unsteady, and stood looking at
his brother as though the sight were incredible.

"Is there no life?" he asked the doctor in a whisper.

The doctor shook his head. "He was gone before he fell."

Bevy began to cry. "Ach, who will tell her?"

"I will tell her," answered the squire. Then he went round the house and
across to the other side of the homestead where Grandmother Gaumer and
Katy sat at their sewing.

There was a quantity of white material on Grandmother Gaumer's lap, and
her fingers moved the needle swiftly in and out. Katy was talking as she
hemmed a scarlet ruffle--Katy was always talking. She had been shocked
by the news of the governor's illness, but she believed that he would
get well. Besides, she had seen the governor only once in her life, and
her grandfather had assured her that her plans for her education need
not be changed. She could not be long unhappy over anything when all
these beautiful new clothes were being made for her and when she was
soon to leave dull Millerstown, and when Alvin Koehler had twice sat on
the doorstep with her. She had journeyed to the county seat with her
grandmother and there had made wonderful purchases.

"And the ladies in the stores are so fine, and so polite, and they show
you everything," said Katy. "When Louisa Kuhns went to Allentown she
said, 'the people are me so unpolite, they go always bumping and bumping
and they don't even say _uh_!' That is not true. I do not believe there
is anywhere in the world a politer place than Allentown.

"Louisa--" No gap between subjects halted Katy's speech; she leaped it
with a bound. "Louisa is very dumb. Now I do not believe myself that a
person can learn everything. But you can train your mind so that you can
understand everything if it is explained to you. You must keep your mind
all the time busy and you must be very humble. Louisa said that poetry
was dumb. Louisa cannot even understand, 'Where, oh, where are the
visions of morning?' Louisa thinks everything must be real. I said to
her I would be ashamed to talk that way. The realer poetry is the harder
it is. But Louisa! Ach, my! Gran'mom! The teacher said Louisa should
write 'pendulum' in a sentence, and Louisa wrote 'Pendulum Franklin is
dead'!"

"Do you like poetry, Katy?" asked Grandmother Gaumer.

"Some," answered Katy. "It is not the fault of the poetry that I cannot
understand it all. I want to understand everything. I do not mean,
gran'mom, that you cannot be good unless you understand everything. But
there is more in this world than being good. Sarah Ann is good, but
Sarah Ann has a pretty slow time in this world."

"Sarah Ann does many kind things."

"But the squire and gran'pop do more because they are smarter," said
Katy triumphantly. "When the people want advice, do they go to Sarah
Ann? They come to the squire or to gran'pop!"

Grandmother Gaumer smiled. Sometimes Katy talked in borrowed phrase
about a "larger vision" or "preparation for a larger life."

"Millerstown!" said Katy with a long sigh and a shake of the head. "I
could not stay forever in Millerstown, gran'mom. Think of the Sunday
School picnics with the red mint candy on the cakes and how Susannah and
Sarah Knerr try to have the highest layer cakes, and each wants the
preacher to eat. Think of the Copenhagen, gran'mom, and the Bingo and
the Jumbo, gran'mom!" In derision Katy began to sing, "A certain
farmer."

Grandmother Gaumer leaned forward in her chair. A sense of uneasiness
overwhelmed her, though Katy had heard nothing. "Listen, Katy!"

There was nothing to be heard; Grandfather Gaumer had fallen; beside him
knelt his brother and the doctor; aghast Bevy flung her arms above her
head; all were as yet silent.

"It is nothing, gran'mom," said Katy. Katy began her chattering again;
she laughed now because Bevy had said that it brought bad luck to use
black pins on white material or to sew when the clock struck twelve.
Grandmother Gaumer went on with her stitching. A boy ran down the
street; the sound disturbed her.

"I will go and see," offered Katy, putting the scarlet ruffles off her
lap. She did not move as swiftly as she would have moved six months ago.
Then the sound of rapid steps would have drawn her promptly in their
wake. But the affairs of Millerstown had ceased to be of great
importance. She did not even hate Millerstown now. "I guess it is just a
boy running, gran'mom. I guess--"

The squire had thought that he would go bravely to Grandmother Gaumer
and put his arm round her and break to her gently the terrible news. He
did not realize that his lips and hands grew each moment more tremulous
and his cheeks more ashen. He saw his sister-in-law sitting beside her
lovely garden in security and peace, and his heart failed him.

Katy had risen to her feet, and she stood still and regarded him with
astonishment. She had forgotten for the instant that he was awaiting
news of Governor Gaumer's death. Now she remembered it and was disturbed
to the bottom of her soul by the squire's evident grief. Grief was new
to Katy.

Grandmother Gaumer laid down her needle and thread. "Ach, the governor
is gone, then!" said she. "Did a letter come?"

"Yes," answered the squire. "A message came. He died in the night."

Tears came into Grandmother Gaumer's eyes. "Where is William? I thought
he was by you."

The squire sat down in the chair beside Grandmother Gaumer and took her
hand. The heap of white stuff slid off her lap to the floor of the porch
and lay there unheeded until hours later when Bevy gathered it up,
weeping, and laid it away.

"I have bad news for you," said the squire.

"Well," said Grandmother Gaumer, bravely.

"When William heard that Daniel was gone, he dropped to the floor like
one shot."

"William!" cried Grandmother Gaumer.

"Yes," answered the squire. "He suffered no pain. The doctor said he
knew nothing of it."

"Knew nothing of it!" repeated Grandmother Gaumer. "You mean that he
fell _dead_?"

"Yes."

"Where is he?" asked Grandmother Gaumer in a quieter tone.

"In my office. They will bring him home."

"Then we will make a place ready for him. Come, Katy."

Katy followed into the kitchen. Grandmother Gaumer stood looking about
her and frowning, as though she were finding it difficult to decide what
should be done. Katy thought of John Hartman and of his strange attitude
and his staring eyes. Would Grandfather Gaumer look like that? Katy was
about to throw herself into the arms which had thus far opened to all
her griefs.

"Ach, gran'mom!" she began, weeping.

Then, slowly, Grandmother Gaumer turned her head and looked at Katy. Her
eyes were intolerable to Katy.

"What shall I do?" she asked. "I am old. I cannot think. We have lived
together fifty years. I cannot remember where my things are. There are
things put away in the bureaus all ready for such a time. What shall I
do, Katy?"

With a gasp Katy drove back the tears from her smarting eyelids. Katy
was confused, bewildered; she still lacked the education with which she
expected to meet the problems of life. But Katy, whose forte was
managing, did not fail here.

"You will sit here in this chair, gran'mom. I will get a white pillow to
put on the settee and they can lay gran'pop there. Then we will find the
things for them." She guided her grandmother to the armchair and helped
her to sit down. Even the touch of her body seemed different. "It will
take only a minute for me to go upstairs. I will be back right away. You
know how quickly I can run."

When Katy returned, the feet of the bearers were at the door. With them
Millerstown crowded in, weeping. Grandmother Gaumer had wept with them,
Grandfather Gaumer had helped them in their troubles. Grandfather was
laid in state in the best room and presently the house settled into
quiet. In this house five generations had met grief with dignity and
death with hope; thus they should be met once more.

Preparations were begun at once for the laying away of the body in the
little graveyard of the church which the soul had loved. At the feet of
his mother, beside his little sister, a grave was dug for William Gaumer
and was lined with boughs of arbor vitæ and sprays of life everlasting.

In the Gaumer house there was little sweeping and cleaning; the beds
were not made up for show, but were prepared for the gathering
relatives. Grandfather Gaumer did not lie alone in the best room as John
Hartman had lain; his children and his grandchildren went in and sat
beside him and talked of him.

When the funeral was over and the house was in order and the relatives
had gone, Katy sat on her little stool at her grandmother's knee and
cried her fill. Grandmother Gaumer had not given way to grief. She had
moved about among her kin, she had given directions, she had wept only a
little.

To Katy there was not now a ray of brightness in the world.

"Nothing is certain," she mourned. "My gran'pop brought me up. I was
always by him, he was my father. I cannot get along without him."

"You will feel certain again of this world, Katy," her grandmother
assured her. "You must not mourn for grandfather. He had a long, long
life. You would not have him back where he would get lame and helpless
after while. That is worse, Katy."

"But there are many things I would like to say to him. I never told him
enough how thankful I was to him."

"He knew you were thankful. Now you are to go to school. Everything is
to be just as it was planned."

Katy burst into tears once more.

"Ach, I do not think of school!"

Nevertheless, her heart beat a little faster. There was, after all,
something right in the world. Moreover, she still had another person to
think of. That day Alvin Koehler's dark eyes had looked down upon her as
she sat by her grandmother in church. She had promised to help Alvin;
his eyes reminded her consciously or unconsciously of her promise.

"Your Uncle Edwin and I talked this over," went on Grandmother Gaumer.
"You have two hundred dollars from the governor in the bank in your name
and the squire and Uncle Edwin and I will all help. You are to go right
on, Katy."

"I wasn't thinking about school," persisted Katy. "I was thinking about
my grandfather."

Grandmother Gaumer laid a trembling hand on Katy's head.

"He was always good and kind, Katy, you must never forget that. He was
first of all good; that is the best thing. He did what he could for
everybody, and everybody loved him. You see what Millerstown thought of
him. See that Millerstown thinks that well of you! You must never forget
him, never. He loved you--he loved you--"

Grandmother Gaumer repeated what she had said in a strange way, then she
ceased to speak, and Katy, startled, lifted her head. Then she got to
her feet. She had become familiar in these last weeks with the gray
pallor of a mortal seizure.

"Gran'mom!" shrieked Katy. "Gran'mom!"

Only the gaze of a pair of bright, troubled eyes answered her.
Grandmother's face was twisted, her hands fell heavily into her lap.

Katy threw her arms round her and laid her cheek against the white hair.

"I will be back, dear, dear gran'mom," said Katy. "You know how I can
run!"

An instant later, Katy had flung open the door of the squire's office
where sat the squire and Dr. Benner. Her grandmother had insisted upon
her putting on her red dress after the funeral. She paused now on the
sill as she had paused in her bird-like attitude to call to Caleb
Stemmel in the store at Christmas time. But this was a different Katy.

"Oh, come!" she cried. "Oh, come, come quickly!"



                               CHAPTER X

                          KATY MAKES A PROMISE


GRANDMOTHER GAUMER was not dead. When the squire and the doctor reached
her side, she sat just as Katy left her, erect, motionless, bright-eyed.
They put her to bed and there she lay with the same bright, helpless
gaze.

"Can you understand me?" asked the doctor gently.

The expression in the brown eyes changed. The flash of perception was
almost invisible, but it was there; to the eyes of Katy who stood by the
bed, breathless, terrified, it was as welcome as the cry of a first-born
child to its mother.

"She is conscious," the doctor assured them.

Uncle Edwin and Aunt Sally, whom Katy considered so dull, returned
presently in tearful haste from their farm at the edge of the town. They
sat with grandmother while the doctor gave directions for the night to
Katy in the kitchen.

Katy looked at the doctor wildly. The lamp cast dark shadows into the
corners of the room; it surrounded Katy with a glare of light. Her hands
clasped and unclasped, tears rolled down her cheeks.

"Will my grandmother die?" asked Katy in a hollow voice.

Young Dr. Benner looked down upon her. He had not given so much thought
of late to the development of his protégé. He had met in the county seat
an older lady who had taken his fancy, who needed no improvement, and
whose mind was already sufficiently developed to suit his ideas. He
looked now at Katy through narrowed eyelids. He suddenly remembered the
great plans he had had for her and the greater plans she had had for
herself. He began to wonder what Katy's life would be like, he who had
just a little while ago been planning it so carefully! He heard in that
instant's pause a clear whistle from the direction of the garden, and he
decided without knowing the identity of the whistler that there would
sooner or later be that sort of complication in Katy's life which would
end her education, even if her grandmother's need of her did not. He was
so busy with his speculations that he did not answer Katy's question
until she was faint with apprehension.

Katy was a sensitive creature; she was suddenly aware of the changed,
absent way in which he regarded her. She remembered that it was a long
time since the doctor had invited her to ride with him, a long time
since he had said anything to her about singing.

"My gran'mom is all I have in this world," she reminded him with piteous
dignity.

"No, Katy." The doctor came back to reality with a start. "She will not
die."

His expression terrified Katy.

"Then, when will she be well again?"

"I cannot say."

The whistle sounded again from beyond the garden wall. This time it
penetrated to the consciousness of Katy, who, hearing it, blushed. No
one but Alvin Koehler could produce so sweet and clear a note. For the
first time he had called her. The night was warm and bright, and the
breeze carried the odor of honeysuckle and jasmine into the kitchen. The
beauty of the night seemed mocking. Katy's heart cried out angrily
against the trouble which had come upon her, against the greater grief
which now threatened.

"You mean that she will be sick a long, long time?"

"Possibly."

Katy clasped and unclasped her hands.

"You do not mean that perhaps she will never be well?"

"I do not believe she can ever be well, Katy." The doctor now laid his
hand on Katy's shoulder.

Katy moved away, her hand on her side, as if to sustain the weight of a
heavy heart.

"What am I to do for her?"

The doctor gave directions about the medicines, and then went across the
yard to sit with the squire in his office. When he had gone, Katy stood
for a moment perfectly still in the middle of the room. The whistle did
not come again; Alvin, approaching the house without knowing anything of
Grandmother Gaumer's illness, saw suddenly that the house was more
brightly lighted than usual and stole away.

For an instant Katy stood still, then she crossed the room and opened
the door which led into the dim front of the house, and went into the
parlor. There she sat down on the high, slippery haircloth sofa.
Presently she turned her head and laid her cheek against the smooth,
cool surface of the arm. Overhead she could hear the sound of Uncle
Edwin's soft, heavy tread, the sound of his deep voice as he spoke to
Grandmother Gaumer or to Aunt Sally. Uncle Edwin was a good man, Katy
said to herself absently, her mind dwelling upon a theme in which it
took at that moment no interest; Uncle Edwin was a good man, but he was
not a very smart man. He had never gone to school--to school--Katy found
herself repeating that magic word. It brought fully into the light of
consciousness the dread question which had been lingering just outside.
If Grandmother Gaumer were to be a long time sick, who would take care
of her? Uncle Edwin and Aunt Sally were kind, but they had their farm on
the outskirts of Millerstown; they could not leave it.

"But I must have my education," whispered Katy to the smooth surface of
the old sofa. "This is my time in life for education. Afterwards the
mind gets dull, and you cannot learn. It is right that I should have a
chance to learn."

Then Katy sat up; from the room above Uncle Edwin called her. "Ach,
Katy, come once here!"

"I am coming," answered Katy as she flew.

In the sick-room her uncle and aunt welcomed her with relief. To them
Katy was always a sort of wonder child. They had wanted to adopt her
when she was a little girl; they had always loved her as they loved
their own little Adam.

"We cannot make out what she wants, Katy. Perhaps it is you she wants."

Katy looked about the room, at the stout, disturbed uncle and aunt, then
at the great bedstead, with its high feather bed, its plump pillows.
Grandmother Gaumer's hair had been covered by a close-fitting cap; the
sheet was drawn up under her chin; she seemed to have shrunk to a pair
of eyes. But they were eyes into which the life of the body was
concentrated. Katy almost covered her own as she met them, her throat
contracted, all emotions combined into one overwhelming sensation.

"I will stay here now," announced Katy. "Aunt Sally, you can go home,
and Uncle Edwin, if he is to stay all night here, can go to bed, and if
I need anything I will call him."

Thus Katy, the dictator. When they had obeyed, Katy crossed the room to
her grandmother's side. To such an interview as this there could be no
witnesses.

"No one else is going to take care of you, gran'mom," promised Katy. "No
one can travel so fast and talk so much." She leaned over and laid her
hand on her grandmother's cheek. "I am going to stay with you to-night
and to-morrow night and always. I am never going to leave you. I care
for schooling, but I care more for you. You raised me from little when I
had no father and mother to take care of me. I will remember what you
said about gran'pop, and I will try to be like him. _Do you understand
me?_" besought Katy in a sudden agony of fright.

The brown eyes answered, or Katy thought they answered.

"Well, then," said Katy. "Now I will read you a chapter and then you
will go to sleep."



                               CHAPTER XI

                      KATY FINDS A NEW AIM IN LIFE


IT was on Tuesday evening that Grandmother Gaumer was smitten and Alvin
Koehler whistled in the garden. On Wednesday Millerstown flocked to the
Gaumer house with inquiries and gifts. They all saw Grandmother Gaumer,
according to Millerstown's custom in sickness, then they went down to
the kitchen to hear from Bevy an account of this amazing seizure. Sarah
Ann Mohr, who was one of grandmother's oldest friends, brought fresh pie
and many tears. Susannah Kuhns promised fresh bread in the afternoon,
and Sarah Knerr carried off the washing.

Then Sarah Ann, accustomed to hear with admiration and wonder the
problems which Katy put to a puzzled Mr. Carpenter, and expecting, with
the rest of the community, that she would bring extraordinary honor to
Millerstown, asked Bevy Schnepp a question.

"My mom was taken that a way," she explained, tearfully. "For seven
years she laid and didn't speak and toward the end she hadn't her mind
any more. Who will take care of gran'mom? Will Edwin and Sally move home
or will they get some one from outside?"

Bevy stood beside the sink, her arms akimbo.

"Gran'mom isn't sure to lie seven years," said she. Bevy had in her
possession the seventh book of Moses, which contained many powerful
prescriptions; she meant to see what pow-wowing could do before she
despaired of Grandmother Gaumer. "But if she does lay, Edwin won't come
home and they won't get anybody from outside. It was never yet a Gaumer
what had to be taken care of by one from outside. Katy will take care of
her gran'mom."

"Katy will take care of her gran'mom!" repeated Sarah Ann. "But she
won't be well till [by] September! How will Katy then be educated?
Carpenter has learned her everything he knows in this world. I could
easy hear that!"

"Katy does not think of education," answered Bevy. "She thinks of
nothing but her gran'mom. She is with her night and day."

Solemnly Sarah Ann and Bevy regarded one another. Then solemnly they
nodded.

"That is what I said to Millerstown!" Thus Sarah Ann in triumph. "There
are those in Millerstown who will have it that Katy will let her
gran'mom stick. There are those in Millerstown who say that when people
get education, they get crazy. Did she cry, Bevy?"

"Not that I saw," answered Bevy, proudly. "Or that any one else saw, I
guess."

"I will tell Millerstown," Sarah Ann made ready to depart. "It is three
places where I will stop already on my way home."

Ponderously, satisfied with her darling, Sarah Ann moved through the
door.

Among the numerous visitors was Essie Hill, who had recently experienced
the sudden and violent change of heart which admitted her to full
membership in the Improved New Mennonite Church. She wore now a little
short back sailor like the older women, with an inscription across the
front to the effect that she was a worker in the vineyard. Essie was
sincere; she was good, but Katy hated her. When she told Essie, not
without a few impertinent embroideries, that her grandmother was asleep,
Essie departed with a quiet acceptance of the rebuff which no
Millerstonian would have endured without resentment. Essie's placid
soul, however, was not easily disturbed. She performed her duty in
offering to sit by Grandmother Gaumer and to read and pray with her;
further she was not obligated.

Katy heard no more Alvin's clear whistle in the garden. She said to
herself, in a moment of physical and mental depression, that he might
easily have made a way to see her by coming with the rest of Millerstown
to inquire for the invalid; then she reminded herself that the Koehlers
went nowhere, had no friends.

"He is ashamed of his pop," said Katy to herself. "His pop is a black
shame to him."

On Thursday she left her grandmother while she went on an errand to the
store and her eyes searched every inch of Main Street and the two
shorter streets which ran into it. But Alvin was nowhere to be seen. She
answered shortly the questions about her grandmother, put to her by the
storekeeper and by all other persons whom she met, and returned to the
house in despair.

"If I could only see him," she cried to herself. "If I could only talk
to him a little!"

On Sunday evening Bevy drove her out, almost by force, to the front
porch. Bevy's preacher was again holding services in the next village,
and Bevy was therefore free to care for the invalid. She had sought all
the week an opportunity to sit by Grandmother Gaumer and to repeat the
pow-wow rhymes which she firmly believed would help her. Now, sitting at
the head of the bed in the dusk, she made passes in the air with her
hands and motions with her lips. When she was certain that Grandmother
Gaumer slept, she slid down to her hands and knees and crept three times
round the bed, repeating the while some mystic rhyme. In reality,
Grandmother Gaumer did not sleep, but lay amusedly conscious of the
administrating of Bevy's therapeutic measures.

Meanwhile Katy was not alone. Had Bevy suspected the company into which
she was sending her beloved, it is probable that one spring would have
carried her down the steps, and another to the porch.

Katy sat for a long time on the step with her chin in her hands. She was
thin, her eyes were unnaturally large, the hard work of nursing had worn
her out. Her gaze searched the street, and she shrank into the shadow of
the honeysuckle vine when couples paraded slowly by, arm in arm.

"I have nobody," mourned Katy, weakly, to herself. "Nobody in all the
world but my gran'mom, and she cannot even speak to me."

After a long time Katy's sharp gaze detected a lurking figure across the
street. Her heart throbbed, she leaned forward out of the shadow of the
vine. Then she called a soft "Alvin!"

Alvin came promptly across and Katy made room for him beside her. He
wore his new red tie, but his face as the light from the street lamp
fell upon it was far from happy.

"Is your gran'mom yet sick?" he asked.

"Yes." Katy could answer only in a monosyllable. Alvin was here, he sat
beside her, the skirt of her dress rested against him.

"I was here once in the garden, and I whistled for you. I did not know
your gran'mom was sick."

"I heard it, but I couldn't come." The two voices had all the tones of
deep tragedy. "It was when my gran'mom was first taken sick." Katy felt
suddenly tired and weak, but she was very happy. She noticed now the
odor of honeysuckle and the sweeter jasmine out on the garden wall. It
was a beautiful world.

After a long time Alvin spoke again, still unhappily.

"David Hartman is going away to school."

Katy's heart gave a jealous throb. It was not fair for any one to have
an education when she could not.

"He is going right away to the real college."

"He cannot!" said Katy. "He cannot pass the examination. He is no
farther than I and I couldn't get in the real college. I guess we have
catalogues that tell about it!"

"But there is a young fellow here to teach him this summer, so he can
get in. His mother is willing for him to go. Some say that David has
already his own money. It costs a lot of money to get such a young man.
He gets more than Carpenter got, they say. He is living at the hotel
because it is too clean at the Hartmans' for strangers. David goes to
him at the hotel. They say he will learn to be a lawyer so that he can
take care of his money. And the tailor"--the spaces between Alvin's
words grew wider and wider, his voice rose and fell almost as though he
were chanting--"the tailor is making new clothes for him, and his mom
bought him a trunk in Allentown!"

"So!" said Katy, scornfully, the blood beating in her temples. She did
not envy David his clothes, but she envied him his learning. Katy was
desperately tired; a noble resolve, though persisted in bravely, does
not keep one constantly cheerful and courageous.

"And he sits on the porch in the evenings sometimes with Essie Hill."

"He has good company! It is queer for such an educated one to like such
a dumb one! Perhaps Essie will get him to convert himself. She was here
to get me to convert myself. She says it is while I am wicked that this
trouble comes upon me. She wanted to sit by my gran'mom and talk about
my gran'mom's sins, and I told her my gran'mom hadn't as many sins in
her whole life as she had already." Katy could not suppress a giggle.
"That settled her. I wouldn't even let her go up. I wanted to choke
her."

Again Katy sat silently. Alvin was here, she was consuming the time in
foolish talk; at any minute Bevy might descend from above or they might
be interrupted by a visitor. Alvin moved uneasily. Perhaps he, too, felt
this talk to be foolish. The light fell full upon his red tie and the
beautiful line of his young throat. A more mature and experienced person
than Katy Gaumer would have been certain that there must be good in a
creature so beautiful.

"David can go to college," he said mournfully. "But I cannot go
anywhere, not even to the normal school where I could learn to be a
teacher. I thought I would surely get that much of an education, but
there is no hope for me."

Katy turned and looked at him. "Why no hope?"

"Why, they say in Millerstown that you are not going to school. You said
that when you went to school you would find a way for me to go. But if
you are not going, then there is no one to help me. And pop"--Alvin's
lapses into the vernacular were frequent--"pop gets worse and worse. He
is going very fast behind. He is getting so he has queer ideas. He was
making him shoelaces with the ravelings of the carpet. And he thinks
there is now a woman with horns after him. He talks about it all the
time. I have nothing in this world. When he was so bad I came to tell
you. It was then I whistled."

"You do not need any one at the school to help you," said Katy in a
clear voice. "If I am not going, I can all the better help you to go;
don't you see that, Alvin? If you are going to teach, you do not have to
pay anything except for board and room. I have two hundred dollars in
the bank, and I can lend you some to begin with and then you can get
something to do. I will give you fifty dollars"--poor Katy planned as
though she had thousands. "There is a little hole round the corner of
the house in the wall, where Bevy used to put the cakes for me. There I
will put the money for you, Alvin."

Alvin's lips parted. He felt not so much gratitude as amazement.

"Aren't you going to school _ever_?"

Katy did not answer.

"Millerstown will be crazy when it finds I am going away!" cried Alvin
with delight.

"They must never know how you go!" said Katy in alarm. "You must not
tell them how you go!"

"They think my father has money." Here was a solution. "They do not know
he has given it all to detectives. They think he has it hidden away.
Millerstown is very dumb."

"You must get a catalogue from the school, Alvin, and you must send in
your name. That is the first."

"I will," promised Alvin. "I will do it right away. It is a loan, Katy,
and I will pay it back. It will not be hard to earn the money to pay it
back!"

The sound of a descending footstep on the stairway frightened them, as
though they had been plotting evil. Alvin went swiftly and quietly out
the brick walk, and Katy sat still. When Bevy came to the kitchen door,
Katy sat on the lowest step, where Bevy had left her, her elbows on her
knees, her chin in her hands.

"You are not to come in yet," said Bevy. "I just came to get a drink.
Your gran'mom is sleeping."

"Yes, well," answered Katy, keeping her voice steady by great effort.
She did not wish to move. She wished to think and think. If Alvin had
omitted an expression of thanks, she held no grudge against him, had
not, indeed, even observed the omission. Here was an outlet from prison;
here was something to be, to do! She would cheerfully have earned by the
labor of her hands enough to send Alvin Koehler to school. After such a
foolish, generous pattern was Katy made in her youth; thus, lightly,
with a beating, happy heart, did she put herself in bondage.

"I will educate Alvin," said Katy. "If I cannot do one thing, I can do
another."

Alvin Koehler climbed the hill. His heart did not throb as rapidly as
Katy's, but Alvin, too, was very happy. Alvin was not yet possessed by
an overwhelming desire for an education; but he saw a new suit and at
least three neckties. Above that delectable goal, his ambition did not
rise.

When he reached the little white house on the hillside and lifted the
latch of the door, he could not get in. After he had pounded and called,
his terror growing each moment greater, he tried the window. From there
his father's strong hands pushed him so suddenly that he fell on his
back into the soft soil of the garden. Poor William Koehler had come to
confuse the woman with horns with his harmless son.

Terrified, Alvin retraced his steps to the village and sought the
squire. In the morning, the squire, with gentle persuasion, carried poor
William to the county home. There William was kept at first in a cell,
with a barred window; then he was allowed to work in the fields under
guard. Gradually, the woman with horns vanished; his work with his
familiar tools and with the plants which he loved seemed to have a
healing effect. He grew more and more quiet; presently he ceased to pray
aloud in his frantic way. He said after a while that God had told him to
be quiet. He seemed to have forgotten his home, his child, his old life,
even his enemy.



                              CHAPTER XII

                   KATY BORROWS SO THAT SHE MAY LEND


IN June Grandmother Gaumer was smitten; in September Alvin was to go
away; the months between were not unhappy for Katy. Occasionally Alvin
came and sat with her on the porch in the darkness. It was tacitly
agreed that they should not be seen together. Public opinion in
Millerstown was less favorable than ever to Alvin since his father's
removal to the poorhouse was coincident with Alvin's elaborate
preparations for school. Alvin could not wait for the slow operations of
a tailor; he went at once to Allentown and purchased a suit; the fifty
dollars which he found at the time appointed in the putlock hole
remained intact no longer than the time consumed in making the journey.
Millerstown was certain that Alvin had found his father's hoarded
wealth, and speculated wildly about its possible size.

"Koehler was working all these many years," said Susannah Kuhns. "He had
all the time his place free on the hill. Alvin will have enough money
for education, of that you may be sure."

"But can he take education?" asked the puzzled Sarah Ann. "The Koehlers
were always wonderful dumb. There was once a Koehler whose name was
Abraham and he wrote it always 'Aprom,' and one made a cupboard and
nailed himself in and they had to come and let him out. They are a dumb
Freundschaft. They are bricklayers and carpenters; they are not educated
men. Now, with Katy it is different. She has a squire and a governor in
her Freundschaft."

"I don't believe he got all this money from his pop," protested Bevy.
"There are other ways of getting money. It says in the Bible, 'Like
father, like son.'"

"He parades up and down like a Fratzhans [dude] in his new clothes,"
said Susannah.

"Ach, Susannah!" reproved gentle Sarah Ann, in whose judgment criticism
had now gone far enough.

Such speculations and accusations Katy had more than once to hear. Then
Katy clenched her hands. They would see Alvin come back to Millerstown
some day a great man. She hated Susannah and Bevy and all Alvin's
detractors. Never was Katy doubtful for an instant of her undertaking;
she had succeeded with the Christmas entertainment; she had succeeded in
compelling Mr. Carpenter to teach her; she was succeeding now in doing
all the work in her grandmother's house; she would succeed in educating
Alvin.

"Sarah Ann is a great, fat worm," said Katy with scorn. "When the brains
were given out, Sarah Ann was missed. And Bevy is a little grasshopper
and she, too, is dumb. It is a great pity for them."

She wished that she might see Alvin oftener, but that was impossible. He
was near at hand; she could get occasional glimpses of him, and she
could sit by her grandmother's bed and think of him. She had put her
precious fifty dollars in the putlock hole and Alvin had removed it. It
must be confessed that between the time Katy promised and the time that
she deposited the money, Alvin came more than once after night to feel
round in the improvised bank. The gift constituted now in Katy's mind an
unbreakable bond between them. Such largess would have inspired her to
lay down her life for the giver, and Alvin was endowed in her mind with
gifts and graces far greater and nobler than her own. At the garments
which he bought she looked with tender approval. Certainly he could not
go to the normal school without suitable clothes!

Besides Katy's clearly expressed conviction that it was unwise for Alvin
to come to see her, there was another reason why Alvin did not turn his
steps oftener to Grandmother Gaumer's gate. Alvin's new clothes put him
temporarily into a condition bordering upon insanity. He must show
himself in his fine apparel. He would have liked to appear in it each
evening, but such a performance was unthinkable. Only on Saturday and
Sunday did Millerstown wear its best.

On Saturday and Sunday, therefore, Alvin lived. He attended ice-cream
festivals and Sunday School picnics; he went diligently to church,
selecting each Sunday the one of Millerstown's churches which was likely
to have the largest attendance. When the Lutherans had a Children's Day
service, Alvin went early to get a good seat. Often he sat in the Amen
corner, close to the little cupboard with the space of smooth, gray wall
beside it. Upon the smooth, gray wall his profile and curly head cast a
beautiful shadow. When there was a revival service at the church of the
Improved New Mennonites, Alvin was in the congregation. There he was
conscious of the demure eyes of Essie Hill. Essie was always alone.
David Hartman, who sat with her on the doorstep, never was seen inside
her church. To David revivals, such as enlivened many of the meetings of
the Improved New Mennonites, were intolerable; they made him feel as he
had felt at his father's funeral with the gaze of all Millerstown
searching his soul. Between Essie and her father there had occurred a
short conversation about David and his worldly ways.

"You can never marry outside your church, Essie," said grave, sober Mr.
Hill.

"No, pop," agreed Essie. "Such a thing I would not do."

Alvin Koehler would have had no objection to a scrutiny of his soul. To
Alvin, all of himself was interesting.

Alvin did not think often of his father. By this time William was
trusted to work in the almshouse fields, and was allowed to talk from
morning till night of his wrongs.

Early in September Alvin went away. He came on the last Saturday evening
to say good-bye to Katy and they sat together on the dusky porch. The
porch was darker than it had been in the springtime, since the hand
which usually pruned the vines was no longer able to hold the shears.
There were still a few sprays of bloom on the honeysuckle and the garden
was in its greatest glory. There bloomed scarlet sage and crimson
cock's-comb and another more brilliant, leafy plant, red from root to
tip. Among the stalks of the spring flowers twined now nasturtiums and
petunias, and there was sweet alyssum and sweet William and great masses
of cosmos and asters. In the moonlight Katy could see a plant move
gently; even in her sadness she could not resist a spasm of pleasure as
a rabbit darted out from behind it. On the brick wall between the porch
and the garden stood Grandmother Gaumer's thorny, twisted night-blooming
cactus with great swollen buds ready to open to-morrow evening. The air
had changed; it was no longer soft and warm as it had been the night
when Katy first planned to educate Alvin.

Sitting by her grandmother's bed Katy had finished her red dress with
the ruffles. It had been necessary to make the hem an inch longer than
they had planned in the spring. Grandmother Gaumer's patient eyes had
seemed to smile when Katy showed her. Grandmother Gaumer was shown
everything; to her bedside Bevy bore proudly Katy's first successful
baking of bread; thither to-morrow, Uncle Edwin would carry the great
cactus in its heavy tub.

Katy sat for a long time on the step before Alvin came. Her body
softened and weakened a dozen times as she thought she heard his step,
then her muscles stiffened and her hands clenched as the step passed by.
Presently it would be time for Bevy to go home and for Katy to go into
the house, or presently some one would come, and then her chance to see
Alvin would be gone. It seemed to her that Bevy looked at her with
suspicion when Alvin's name was mentioned; the later it grew the more
likely Bevy was to interrupt their interview.

The grip of Katy's hands, one upon the other, grew tighter, her cheeks
hotter, the beating of her heart more rapid. He must come; it was
incredible that he could stay away. Her throat tightened; she said over
and over to herself, "Oh, come! come! come!"

Presently down the dusky street approached Alvin with his swinging walk.
Now Katy knew at last that she was not mistaken. He was here; he was
entering the gate which she had opened so that its loud creak might not
be heard by Bevy; he was walking softly on the grass as Katy had advised
him.

Alvin sat down a little closer to Katy than was his custom. A subtle
change had come over him. Though the Millerstown boys looked at him with
scorn, the Millerstown girls, smiling upon him, had completed the work
which Katy's attentions had begun. Alvin had not attended Sunday School
picnics, with their games of Copenhagen and their long walks home in the
twilight, for nothing. Alvin had less and less desire for learning; he
still thought of education as a path to even finer clothes than he had
and greater admiration and entire ease. He had come now from service at
the Lutheran church, and from his favorite corner he had been conscious
of the notice of the congregation. He had asked Katy for twenty-five
dollars more than she had given him; this, Katy told him, lay now in the
putlock hole in the house wall. His spirits rose still more gayly as he
heard of it.

"I will pay it back in a year or two," he assured Katy lightly. "Then I
will tell you how to do when you go to school."

"Yes," said Katy. She would have liked to say, "Oh, Alvin, keep it, keep
it forever!" But how then should she attain to an equality with Alvin?
She realized now fully that he was going away. The long, long winter was
fast approaching, and she would be here alone in this changed house.
There would be no more entertainments; there would be no more frantic
racing with Whiskey; there would be no more glorifying, sustaining hope.

Slowly the tears rolled down Katy's cheeks. She knew that the minutes
were passing rapidly, and that she and Alvin had said nothing. But still
she sat with her hands pressed against her eyes.

Almost immediately, alas! there was an alarming sound. The step of Bevy
was heard descending the stairway. Poor Katy could cheerfully have slain
her. A hundred confused thoughts filled her mind, the tears came faster
than ever; she rose, and Alvin rose with her and they looked at each
other, and then Alvin was gone. In his excitement he closed the gate
noisily behind him. Katy sank down again on the step from which she had
risen. When Bevy looked out from the doorway, Katy sat motionless.

"You ought to come in, Katy," advised Bevy. "It is cold."

"I am not cold," said Katy.

"It is damp and cold," insisted Bevy. "I thought I heard the gate slam."

Katy made no answer.

"Did it slam?" asked Bevy.

Katy looked round. Her eyes were bright; her voice, if it trembled, did
not tremble with grief. "If you heard it, I guess it slammed," said she.

"The night air is bad." Bevy was losing patience. "_Will_ you come in?"

"No," said Katy.

Bevy snapped the screen door shut.

"Je gelehrter, je verkehrter" (The more learned, the more perverse), she
declared.

When Bevy had reached the upper hall, Katy rose from her place on the
lowest step, and stretched out her arms as though to embrace the garden
and Millerstown and the world. Mist was rising from the little stream
below the orchard; it veiled the garden in a lovely garment; it seemed
to intensify the odor of the honeysuckle and the late roses. Again Katy
sank down on the step and hid her face in her arms.

"He kissed me!" said Katy shamelessly.

Now Katy's winter was guarded against unhappiness.

A little later in September David Hartman went to school also, not to
the normal school where tuition cost nothing, but to college as befitted
the heir of a rich man. His tutor had prepared him thoroughly for his
examinations; he had an ample allowance; there was no reason why the
gratification of any legitimate desire should be denied him. His mother
had spared no pains with his outfit; she had bought and sewed and
laundered and packed a wardrobe such as, it is safe to say, no other
student in the college possessed. During the long summer she and David
had had little to say to each other. David had been constantly busy with
his books; he had had little time even to think of his father, whom he
so passionately regretted. Death continued to work its not uncommon
miracle for John Hartman; it dimmed more and more for his son the
character of his later years, and exaggerated greatly the vaguely
remembered tendernesses of David's babyhood. John Hartman had to an
increasing degree in his death what he had not had in life, the
affection and admiration of his boy. How was it possible for him to be
anything else but silent with a wife so cold, so immovable, so strange?
David was certain that he had solved his father's problem. Sometimes
David could not bear to look at his mother.

But now that he was going away, David's eyes were somewhat sharpened.
His mother looked thin and bent and tired; she seemed to have grown old
while she sewed for him.

"You ought to get you a girl," he said with the colossal stupidity of
youth and of the masculine mind.

Mrs. Hartman looked at him, as though she were suddenly startled. He
seemed to have grown tall overnight; his new clothes had made a man of
him. Then a film covered her eyes, as though she withdrew from the
suggestions of lunacy into some inward sanctuary where burned the lamp
of wisdom.

"A girl!" cried Cassie, as though the suggestion were monstrous. "To
have her spoil my things! A girl!"

David's trunk was packed in the kitchen, thither his hat and satchel
were brought also. When his breakfast was over he went down the street
to the preacher's for a letter recommending his character. When he
returned, his trunk and satchel had been sent to the station; he had now
only to take his hat and say good-bye to his mother who was at this
moment in the deep cellar. For her David waited awkwardly. He remembered
how he had stood kicking his foot against the door sill on Christmas
Day--how many years and years ago it seemed!

Now, as then, David experienced a softening of the heart. He forgot his
resentment against his mother's coldness, against her strange passion
for material things. She was his mother, she was all he had in the
world, and he was going away from her and from his home. He heard her
ascending the cellar steps, and he turned and went up to his room as
though he had forgotten something, so that he might hide his tears.

At the entrance of the little hall which led to his room, David stood
still, the lump hardening in his throat, his breath drawn heavily. His
errand to the preacher's had not taken half an hour, but in that
half-hour his room had been dismantled. The cheap little bed had been
taken apart and had been carried into the hall; the carpet had been
dropped out of the window to the grass below; broom and scrubbing-brush
and pail waited in the corner. The door of his mother's room opposite
his own was closed; a dust cloth was stuffed under it so that no mote
could enter. Now, all the rooms in Cassie's house except the kitchen and
her own could be immaculate.

For a long moment David stood still. He looked into his room, he looked
at his mother's closed door, he looked at the door which shut off the
deep front of the great house. He felt the same mysterious impression
which Katy Gaumer felt when she looked at the outside of the Hartman
house, as though it held within it strange secrets. It seemed now as
though it thrust him forth as one who did not belong, as though its
walls might presently contract until there should be no space for him to
stand. It was a cruel suggestion to a boy about to leave his home! David
breathed deeply as though to shake off the oppression, and then went
down the steps.

Without apparent emotion he bade Cassie farewell, then strode briskly
toward the station. Essie Hill, who let him sit beside her on the
doorstep and who argued prettily with him about his soul, was nowhere to
be seen; his companions, Ollie Kuhns and Billy Knerr and the
Fackenthals, were at work or at school; Bevy Schnepp, whose great
favorite he was, was busy with her washing in the squire's yard far up
the street. In the door of the store stood Katy Gaumer. Her, with Alvin
Koehler, he hated. David had with his own eyes beheld one of Alvin's
hasty departures from Grandmother Gaumer's gate. Persons found their
levels in this world and Katy had found hers.

But on the corner David hesitated. How tall she had grown! How large her
eyes were, and how lacking in their old sparkle! Cheerfully would he
have returned in this final moment of madness to the dullness of the
Millerstown school to be near her once more, cheerfully would he have
continued his abode in Millerstown forever. He determined to go to speak
to her, to say, "Let us be friends." Essie Hill was pretty and sweet,
and her anxiety about his soul was flattering, but Essie was like a
candle to a shining star. He saw the flirt of Katy's red dress as she
sailed up the schoolroom aisle; he heard her saucy answers to the
teacher; he admired her gayety, her great ambition. She had planned by
now to be at school, learning everything; instead, she wore a gingham
apron and stood in the Millerstown store buying a broom!

A single step David had already taken, when Katy turned from her
bargaining and their eyes met. Katy knew whither David was bound;
already his train whistled faintly at the next station. It seemed to her
that he looked at her with pity. He was to go, and she was to
stay--forever! With bitterness Katy turned her back upon him.

For a year Grandmother Gaumer lay high upon her pillows, her patient
eyes looking out from her paralyzed body upon her friends and her quiet
room. Presently she was able to lift her hands and to say a few slow and
painful words. Her bed had been moved to the parlor; from here she could
look up and down the street, and out to the kitchen upon Katy at her
work. A trolley line was being built to connect Millerstown with the
county seat; she could see the workmen approaching across the flat
meadows, and after a while could watch with a thrill a faint, distant
gleam of light broaden into the glare of a great headlight as the car
whizzed into the village. Her face grew thinner and more delicate; her
survival came presently to seem almost a miracle. But still she lay
patiently, listening to the storms and rejoicing in the sunshine. To her
Katy read the Bible, hour after hour, a dull experience to the mind of
Bevy, devout Improved New Mennonite though she was.

"You are an old woman," protested Bevy. "You are older than I in your
ways. Run with Whiskey a little like you used to run! I could be much
oftener here, and the other people would be glad to sit with gran'mom. I
even put cakes for you in the hole and you don't take them out any
more!"

Katy was really very happy during the long winter. Housekeeping had
become easy; she would accept no help even with washing and cleaning. As
for going about in Millerstown, Katy laughed, as neat, aproned in
housewifely fashion, she sat by her grandmother's bed.

"Shall I go now to quiltings and surprise parties when I would not go
before? I am not interested in those things."

Often there was time in the long afternoons for Katy to sit with her
books. She knew what Alvin was studying; it was easy at first to keep up
with him. She enjoyed the sense of importance which her position as head
of the house gave her. Sarah Ann dissolved in tears as she praised her;
Uncle Edwin and Aunt Sally made much of her. And how much more important
was she than any of them knew! Alvin was doing well at school, at least
so Alvin wrote. When trouble came, she would have Alvin to fly to. When
her tasks seemed a burden, or when studying without a teacher became
difficult, or when the winter storms shook the house, she remembered how
he had kissed her. The complication which Dr. Benner had feared for Katy
had arrived. Dr. Benner was by this time married; in the glamour in
which he lived, he was unconscious of the existence of Katy except as a
person of whom questions must occasionally be asked, to whom directions
must sometimes be given. His wife was not pleasant and "common"; she was
"proud"; she gave Millerstown to understand that as soon as she could
persuade her husband to buy a practice in a more cultivated community,
they would leave.

At Christmas time Alvin did not come home, but went instead to visit a
schoolmate. If he had come, there would have been no place for him to
stay. The little house on the mountain-side was cold and deserted; it
would probably never be occupied again. Alvin wrote occasionally to Katy
and Katy wrote regularly to him. It was not to be expected that he
should neglect his work to write letters. Fortunately the Millerstown
post-office was presided over at present by old man Fackenthal, who did
not scrutinize addresses with undue closeness. Nevertheless, Katy
disguised her own hand and dropped her letters into the slit in the door
at night.

David returned at Christmas time with an added inch of height, with
straighter shoulders and a sterner glance. David moved swiftly, answered
questions directly, walked alone upon the mountain-side, or sat with his
books in his mother's kitchen. He seemed to have had some improving,
enlightening experience; college had already done a great deal for him.
Him Katy did not see.

Nor did Alvin appear in the summer time, except for a few days at the
end. He had asked Katy for another fifty dollars in the spring, and she
had sent it to him without stopping to consider that now more than half
of her money was gone. Alvin meant to work in a drug store this summer,
at least so Alvin said, in order to pay part of his debt. But the
dispensing of soda water did not appear to have been as profitable as he
expected, for in August, when he came to Millerstown, he borrowed
another fifty dollars. He promised certainly now that he would come for
Christmas. He put his arms boldly round Katy and kissed her many times.
It seemed that Alvin, too, had had illuminating experiences.

David spent the summer in his little room and on the mountain-side.
David sometimes lay for hours together on the plateau before the Sheep
Stable. Sometimes he carried thither the books which he continued to
study diligently. Sometimes he walked about, climbing among rocks,
tramping along the arched back of the little range of hills,--mountains,
to Millerstown. David sighed contentedly and breathed deeply. He noted
the dappled shadows, the wreathing clematis, the tall spikes of lobelia,
the odor of slippery elm the first reddening branch of the gum trees. He
looked down upon the fertile fields, upon the scattered villages, and he
was almost happy. Then David returned to his books. It was strange that
he should study so earnestly during the long summer. Surely David with
his good mind had not fallen behind his fellows!

David's illuminating experiences had not been entirely those which study
and knowledge bring. David's arrival in the college town had been at
once observed and marked. He towered above his fellows; he had a look of
greater maturity than his years would warrant; he had apparently large
means at his command. Upper classmen are not so entirely devoted as is
supposed to the abuse of the entering novice. Upon the novice depends
the continued existence of the college society which is so important a
part of the college's social structure. You cannot very well urge a man
to join an organization of which you are a member after you have beaten
him or held his head under an icy hydrant! David's college made a tacit
but no less real distinction between the youth who was likely to prove
valuable society material and the youth who would likely prove to be
merely a student. David's clothes were of the best, he had many of them,
he occupied an expensive room; it was evident that he need not have
recourse to the many shifts by which the poor boy in college provides
himself with spending money. David was overlooked in the disciplinary
measures by which many of his classmates were trained to respect their
betters. His discipline was, alas! much harder to endure!

He accepted in his silent way the attentions which were showered upon
him, the drives, the treats, the introductions to foolish young ladies
whose eyes spoke their admiration. David was bewildered and embarrassed,
and David for a time wisely remained silent. There was no reason to
think that David had not been brought up in the politest of society.
But, finally, alas! David spoke.

It was not often that a student had a party given especially for him.
But, as the seven villages struggled for the honor of the birth of
Homer, so the college societies longed for the honor of possessing
David. Finally all but two dropped out of the race. David had not
committed himself to either, but it was understood that in accepting the
proffered entertainment he was practically making his decision.

The great evening approached; the great guest in his fine apparel,
another new suit, now a dress suit made by the college tailor, appeared
at his party. The prettiest girl of all appointed herself his companion,
and to him addressed a pretty remark.

"We are glad to have you here at college, Mr. Hartman."

Then David spoke. The prettiness of the girl, the formality of her
address, the bright lights, his conspicuous position--all combined in
David's downfall. David did not speak naturally as he spoke now; David
had no trouble with _th_, David knew the English idiom; David knew
better, oh, much, much better. But poor David reverted to type.

"I sank myself," said David amid a great and growing hush. Then David
walked out, away from the pretty girl, away from the bright lights,
away, forever, from the organization which had sought him. Overwhelmed
with embarrassment, outraged, David sought his room and his books. David
could never be persuaded to return to the society in which he had been
thus humiliated; he never emerged again from his room or his books
except to recite or to walk or to go to his meals or to church. He
henceforth lived alone. He discovered that by diligent study he could
accomplish in three years what he had expected would require four. The
sooner he was out of this place the better. He went weekly to a
neighboring city, and there, finding a teacher of elocution, conquered,
he was sure forever, that damning trick of speech. He grew handsomer; he
filled his room with beautiful furniture and many books; his allowance
assumed in the eyes of his college mates the proportions of a fortune in
itself. But David could not be induced to forget. David lost much, but
David in his sullen hermitage remained decent and unspoiled.

Once or twice in the summer he sat with Essie on her doorstep. Essie was
prettier than ever; she still besought him to be "plain." David laughed
at her and teased her; she was really the only person in the world with
whom he laughed. His mother's strength seemed to have failed; often she
lay down on the settle before it was dark, but only when she fell asleep
did David find her in this ignominious position. If she heard a step she
sprang up, as though she had committed a crime.

Once more Christmas approached and passed. This time again there was no
visiting governor, no great feast, no entertainment. Again Alvin did not
come home; he did not now write a letter or send a gift. Grandmother
Gaumer was worse; the patience in her eyes had changed to a great
weariness; she had ceased to be able to move or to speak.

In March there came a great storm. It extinguished all the village
lamps; it whirled across the broad breast of the mountain, sending to
the ground with a mighty crash, unheard of man, many trees; it beat
against the Gaumer house, which seemed to tremble. In spite of the
storm, however, Katy put on her scarlet shawl and went to the
post-office, as of old. But in those days there had been no such
feverish haste as this!

Her grandmother looked at her for a moment as she stood by the bed and
tried to smile. Then Katy went out, her skirts flying in the wind, the
rain beating in her face. She plodded along as best she could, without
the old sensation of a viking breasting an angry sea.

At the post-office she found a letter, and there stopped to read it
because she could not wait.

"Dear, dear Katy!" With what a wild thrill Katy beheld the opening
words. Then Katy read on. "I am in great trouble, Katy. For some time I
have not had enough money to get along, and now I must have fifty
dollars. Oh, Katy, try and get it for me! Oh, I don't know what will
happen, Katy. Oh, please, Katy!"

Katy read the letter through twice; then she stood gaping. Old man
Fackenthal spoke to her and she answered without knowing what she said;
then she went out and stood in the rain, trying to think. She had no
money; her last cent had been given to Alvin in the fall. But Alvin had
appealed to her to help; it was--oh, poor Katy!--an honor to be thus
solicited. No one else could help him; he would go to no one else in the
world.

Like a shock of cold water upon an exhausted body, fell Alvin's request
upon Katy's weary, tired soul. When the necessity for an English
entertainment was made clear to Katy, plans were immediate, execution
prompt. Katy had known at once what she would do. She forgot now that
she had no way of earning money; she did not anticipate that to her
honest soul the burden of a debt would be almost as great as the burden
of remembered theft. Boldly she presented herself to the squire in his
office and there made her request. Nothing was plain to Katy except
Alvin's bitter need.

The squire looked at her in astonishment.

"That is a good deal of money, Katy!" But the squire had seen Katy at
her books. "You need books, I suppose, and things to wear. I see you
studying and sewing, Katy. You are not to slip back in your studies
before you go away."

"I will give you a paper and I will pay interest," promised Katy, who
did not wish to discuss the spending of the money.

The squire went slowly to his safe. It must be very dismal for the
child. His poor sister-in-law was not likely to improve, and she might,
alas! be a long time dying. If the situation were not changed by fall,
the child must be sent away and Edwin must come home to live. He
remembered his own bright little sister; he remembered the plans of all
the family for Katy. A sudden remorseful consciousness that they had
forgotten Katy, and that they had left a good many burdens on her
shoulders, moved him to give her the foolish sum for which she asked.

"This I _give_ you, Katy," said he as he counted the money into her
hand. It was not strange that the squire had taken so few journeys.

"No," protested Katy with a scarlet face; "it is a debt."

Recklessly Katy slipped the money into an envelope and mailed it, and
Alvin, receiving it, wept for joy and thought with gratitude of the
sender. The small part of it which he did not have to use to pay his
most pressing debts he spent upon a girl from the county seat, one
Bessie Brown, who had visited a friend at the normal school, and for
whom he had great admiration.



                              CHAPTER XIII

                               EMPTINESS


THE great March storm seemed to clear the way for an early spring. The
winter had been unusually cold and long; even honeysuckle and ivy vines
were winter-killed. The great old honeysuckle vine on the Gaumer porch
died down to the ground and hung a mass of brown stems, through which
the wind blew with a crackling sound. Day after day Millerstown had had
to thaw out its pumps. To Sarah Ann Mohr, who had once read an account
on the inside pages of the Millerstown "Star" of the delicate balance of
meteorological conditions, the signs were ominous.

"It means something," insisted Sarah Ann. "Once when my mom was little
they had such a winter and then the snow fell in June on the wheat. The
wheat was already in the head when the snow fell on it. If it gets only
a little colder than that, the people die."

But spring returned. Sarah Ann beheld with a thankful heart the
hyacinths and narcissus in her flower beds pushing their heads through
the soil, the rhubarb sprouting in her garden; she breathed in with
unspeakable delight the first balmy breeze. Sarah Ann's friends were
slipping rapidly away from her; she was one of the last survivors of her
generation; but her appetite was still good, her step firm, her eye
bright. Sarah Ann was a devout and trustful Christian, but she had never
been able to understand why a heaven had not been provided on the
beautiful earth for those who were worthy.

The dogwood put out earlier than usual its shelf-like boughs of bloom;
before the end of April bluets starred the meadows round the Weygandt
dam, and everywhere there was the scent of apple blossoms. Grandmother
Gaumer's garden, with its vine-covered wall, its box-bordered paths, its
innumerable varieties of flowers, was a place of magic. Though its
mistress was away, it had never been so beautiful, so sweet.

In it Katy walked up and down in the May twilight. She moved slowly as
though she were very idle or very tired, or as though no duties waited
her. Her face was white; in the black dress which she had had made for
her grandfather's funeral and which her grandmother had persuaded her to
lay away, she seemed taller and more slender than she was.

Each time she turned at the end of the garden walk, she looked at the
house and then away quickly. She did not mean to look at all, but
involuntarily she raised her eyes. The parlor windows behind which
Grandmother Gaumer's lamp had shone so long were blank. In the room
above, which had been Grandfather and Grandmother Gaumer's there was now
a light. Every few seconds the light was darkened by the shadow cast by
the passing to and fro of a large figure. From the same room came the
sound of a child's voice, the little voice of "Ehre sei Gott" in the
Christmas entertainment long ago. Now it was raised in cheerful
laughter. In the kitchen, Edwin Gaumer sat by the table, a page of
accounts before him. There were now more persons in the house than there
had been since Katy had been taken there as a baby, but the house was,
nevertheless, intolerably lonely. Grandmother Gaumer's life was ended;
she had been laid beside her husband in the Millerstown cemetery. She
had had a long life; she had outlived almost all those whom she had
loved, even all her children but one; she needed no mourning.

But Katy sorrowed and would not be comforted.

"She was all I had. I have a few other friends like the squire and Sarah
Ann, but these are old, too."

Katy walked more and more slowly along the garden path. Even her
grandmother's death had brought from Alvin no letter.

"I cannot understand it," whispered Katy to herself; "I cannot
understand it!"

It seemed to Katy that there was no subject in the world upon which her
thoughts could rest comfortably, no refuge to which her weary, sorrowful
soul could flee. During her grandmother's illness, she had dreamed of
Alvin, of his progress at school, of the time when he should come home
and they should plan together. He had kissed her again and again; she
belonged to him forever. But why, oh, why did he not write? There was
for poor Katy only anxiety and humiliation in the world.

"And I am in debt!" she mourned. Her constant reading of the Bible to
her grandmother had furnished her with quotations for all the
experiences of life. It was a textual knowledge which many preachers
would have envied her. It gave her now a vehicle with which to express
her woes. "I am like David in the cave," said she. "I am in distress and
in debt."

"Fifty dollars!" whispered Katy as she walked up and down the garden
paths. "I am fifty dollars in debt!"

It was true that the squire had insisted that the money must be a gift.
But the squire had not the least suspicion of the purpose to which his
gift had been devoted.

"They have nothing for Alvin," said Katy to herself. "Alvin has had no
chance. He will surely pay it back to me. I am certain he will pay it
back!"

The dew fell damp about her, but still Katy walked on and on, up and
down the garden paths. When, finally, she went into the kitchen, her
Uncle Edwin looked up at her blinking. In his rugged face was all the
kindness and sober steadfastness of the Gaumers.

"Sit down once, Katy," said he, neither in command nor in request, but
with gentle entreaty. "I want to talk to you a little."

Katy sat down on the edge of the old settle. She would listen to no
condolences; every fiber in her body bristled at the first sign of
sympathy. Sympathy made her cry, and she hated to cry. Katy hated to be
anything but cheerful and happy and prosperous and in high hope.

Several minutes passed before Uncle Edwin began upon his subject. Though
he loved Katy, he stood in awe of her, gentle and weak though she
appeared in her black dress.

His first question was unfortunately worded.

"What are you going to do now, Katy, that gran'mom is gone?"

Katy looked at him sharply. She was not well; she was worried and
unhappy; she found it easy to misunderstand.

"For my living, you mean?" said Katy, cruelly.

Uncle Edwin gazed, open-mouthed at his niece. He would have been
ludicrous if he had not been so greatly distressed.

"Ach, Katy!" protested he, in bewilderment.

"What do you mean, then?"

Uncle Edwin had at that moment not the faintest idea of what he meant.
He hesitated for an instant, then he stammered out an answer.

"I mean, Katy, when are you going to school?"

The room swam round before Katy's dull eyes. School! She was never going
to school; she could not go to school. But a more acute anxiety
threatened; the moment when she must give an account of her two hundred
dollars was probably at hand. Katy's very heart stood still.

"I am not going to school," said she.

Again Uncle Edwin's mouth opened.

"Why, you are, Katy!"

"Do you mean"--wildly Katy seized upon any weapon of defense she could
grasp: it was easy to confuse Uncle Edwin's mind--"do you mean when am I
going away from here?"

Now Uncle Edwin's blue eyes filled with tears.

"Ach, Katy!" cried he. "We are only too glad to have you. You know how I
wanted to take you when you were a little baby, and Aunt Sally wanted
you. This is your home forever, Katy. But you always talked so of school
and education!"

"I do not care for education."

Uncle Edwin's head shook with the activity of the mental processes
within it.

"What!" he exclaimed, incredulously. Then he took a fresh start. Katy's
ill-temper was incomprehensible, but when she heard what his plans were,
she would be cross no longer.

"You have two hundred dollars in the bank, Katy. The two hundred that
the governor sent you a while back, haven't you, Katy?"

He did not ask the question for information, but to establish the points
of his simple discourse.

"Well," said Katy, faintly, from her agitation.

"That is a good start. Now the squire will help and I will help. We have
this all arranged between us. Then, when you come of age you will get
the money your gran'mom left you. But that you are not to touch for your
education. That you will leave by me, because I am your guardian in the
law. You were faithful to your gran'mom till the end, and you are not to
spend your own money for education. The squire and I will look after
that."

The muscles of Katy's face had stiffened and utterance was impossible.
All the old, dear, eager hope filled her heart. But Alvin was still
precious to her; her sacrifice had been made for him; the sacrifice
whose extent she was just beginning to understand. This, however, was no
time to think of Alvin. She forced herself to say again quietly that she
was not going to school.

"Not--going--to--school!" cried Uncle Edwin with long pauses between his
words.

"No," repeated Katy. "I am not going to school."

Then Katy sought her room and her bed.

When Uncle Edwin reported his interview with Katy to the squire, the
squire laughed.

"Ach, she just talks that way! She is a little contrary, like all the
women when they are tired or not so well. Of course she is going! She
was in here not long ago talking about it and I gave her some money for
books and other things."

The next day the squire himself spoke to Katy.

"Are you getting ready for school, Katy?"

"I am not going to school."

"Since when have you changed your mind?"

"This long time."

The squire turned and looked at Katy over his glasses.

"Why, it is only a little while since I gave you money for books!"

"You didn't give me money," corrected Katy, stammering. "It was a loan;
I said it was a loan. Else I wouldn't have taken it."

"Humbug, Katy!"

If the squire had been Katy's guardian, she would have gone promptly to
school. But Uncle Edwin held that office and he could not have brought
himself to compel Katy to do anything. The squire argued and coaxed and
cajoled and Katy looked at him with a white face and stubborn eyes.

"It wasn't right to take the two hundred dollars from Daniel in the
beginning if you didn't intend to use it for schooling, Katy. What _are_
you going to do?"

"I am going to earn my living," answered Katy. Her debt to the squire
was swelling to tremendous proportions; and there was also the much
greater sum for which she could give no account. Katy was sick at heart.
But she managed to end the interview lightly. "I'm going to earn money
and save it, and be a rich, rich woman."

Once safely out of the squire's office, Katy walked up the mountain
road. She must be alone, to think and plan what she must do. School? Her
whole body and mind and soul longed for school. But she could never go
to school. She must pay the squire his fifty dollars. Suppose he should
ask her to show him the books and dresses she had bought! She must also
replace the whole two hundred before they found her out. She could see
the expression of amazement and disgust on the face of the squire at the
mere suspicion of any close friendship between a Gaumer and a Koehler.
People despised Alvin.

"But they have no right to," cried Katy. "I want to see Alvin. He will
make it right, I am sure he will make it right. He is older than I!"
Katy spoke as though this fact were only now known to her. "He has no
right--" But Katy went no further: her love had been already
sufficiently bruised and cheapened. "I have tied myself up in a knot! I
have done it myself!"

Katy looked down upon the Hartman house. Rumor said that Mrs. Hartman
was failing; the rare visitors to her kitchen found her on the settle in
midday.

"It is nothing but dying in the world," mourned Katy. "We grow up like
grass and are cut down."

But Katy had now no time to think of the Hartmans. She went on up the
mountain road until she reached the Koehler house. The walls needed a
coat of whitewash, the fences were brown, the garden was overgrown. It
was a mean little place in its disorder.

"He never had a chance," protested Katy in answer to some inward
accusation. Then Katy went drearily home.

By the first of June Alvin had still not written; by the end of June
Katy was still looking for a letter. The term of the normal school had
closed; it was time for him to be at home. Surely he could not mean to
stay away forever!

Day after day Katy's relatives watched her solicitously, expecting her
grief to soften, her old spirits to return; day by day Katy grew more
silent, more depressed. Uncle Edwin now attacked her boldly.

"Do you forget how smart the governor thought you were, Katy?" Or, "It
was bad enough for your gran'mom that you couldn't go to school for two
years, Katy, but this would be much worse for her."

In July Uncle Edwin took fresh courage and began to reproach her. If she
was going to school, no time must be lost, they must make plans, she
must have an outfit.

"David Hartman is at home," said he. "He will be very learned. He is
smart. But he is not so smart as you, Katy. Do you forget how you were
up to him in school and he is older than you?"

Katy swallowed her coffee with a mighty effort.

"And Alvin Koehler was here to-day," went on Uncle Edwin. "He wants that
the directors should give him the Millerstown school, now that Carpenter
is no longer here. We think he should have it while he comes from
Millerstown. He has made a good deal of himself. You would be surprised
to see him. But you are much smarter than he, Katy!"

Katy put up her left hand to steady her cup.

"If he gets the school, he is going to get married," went on Uncle Edwin
placidly. "It is a girl from away. I am surprised that Alvin had so much
sense as to study good and then settle down and get married. He said he
had such an agency in the school for hats and neckties and such things.
That was how he got along. There is, I believe, a good deal more in
Alvin than we thought. But you, Katy--Why, _Katy_!"

Katy had risen from the table, her face deathly pale.

"I have burned myself with coffee," said she.

Simultaneously Uncle Edwin and Aunt Sally and little Adam pushed back
their chairs.

"Ach, Katy, here; take water, Katy!"

"No," protested Katy, "it is not so bad as that. But I will go and lie
down a little. My head hurts me, too. I am tired and it is very hot. I
will go to my room."

Stammering, Katy got herself to the stairway. There, having closed the
door behind her, she started up the steps on hands and knees. At the top
she sat down for a moment to rest before she crept across the room to
her bed. Again it was an advantage to be "Bibelfest," she had once more
an adequate vehicle for the expression of her woes.

"I am like Job," wept poor Katy. "I am afflicted. I am a brother to
jackals and a companion to ostriches."

Once when Katy opened her eyes, she saw opposite her window a single,
pink, sunset-tinted cloud floating high in the sky. Somehow the sight
made her agony more bitter.

Down in the kitchen Uncle Edwin, alarmed, confused, distressed, found
himself confronted by an irate spouse. He could not remember another
occasion in all their married life when his Sally had lost patience with
him.

"Now, pop," said she, "it is enough. You are to leave poor Katy be."



                              CHAPTER XIV

                     KATY PLANS HER LIFE ONCE MORE


FOR a long time Katy lay motionless upon her bed. The shock of Uncle
Edwin's announcement was overwhelming; it robbed her of power to move or
think. When an hour later Aunt Sally tiptoed into the room, she found
her still upon her bed, her face buried in the pillow, relaxed in what
seemed to be a heavy sleep. Aunt Sally gathered her clothes from the
untidy heap into which they had been tossed, and laid them on the back
of a chair and drew down the shade so that the sun should not shine
directly into the sleeper's eyes; then she closed the door softly and
went down the steps.

Katy did not stir until the sun had vanished behind the western hills
and the stars were shining. Then she rose and bathed her face and sat
down by the window.

"I must think," said Katy. "I must now plan out my life in a new way."

Stubbornly she forced herself to face the event which made necessary
this fresh planning of her life. Beyond the event itself she did not at
this moment proceed. She beheld Alvin with his red tie, Alvin with his
dark curls, Alvin with his beautiful olive skin, Alvin with his great,
expressive eyes. Sitting by her window with the soft evening air blowing
in her face, the odors of the garden rising sweetly about her, Adam's
gentle, laughing voice, and all the other pleasant sounds of the
Millerstown evening in her ears, Katy wept.

"Oh, Elend (Misery)!" cried she, after the manner of Millerstown in
trouble.

After a while the voice of pride made itself heard. It was not Alvin
whom she defended, but herself.

"No word of marrying was said between us."

"But he kissed you," reminded the inward voice. "You thought he would
marry you."

To this Katy could return only the answer of flaming cheeks and a
throbbing heart.

"And there is all the money you gave him!" reminded the voice within
her.

"I said he needn't pay it back!"

"But you expected him to pay it back!"

"But he needn't!"

"An honorable person would pay it before he got married."

"He has no money! He has nothing to pay it with!"

"He had an agency for neckties! He has enough to get married!"

It seemed to Katy that a ring of queer faces mocked her. She had eaten
only a mouthful of supper, and she was a little light-headed. She seemed
to see clearly the "lady from away" of whom her uncle had spoken.
Imagination, helped by recollection of the beautiful ladies in the
Allentown stores, pictured her clearly. She was brilliant and beautiful
and learned, and she dressed marvelously. She was probably an
acquaintance whom Alvin had made at school; she was all that Katy longed
to be.

Now there rushed upon Katy a new and terrible sensation. She had been
envious of David Hartman because he was going away to school, but here
was a new kind of envy which affected not only the mind but the whole
being. She threw herself down on her bed once more and hid her face in
the pillow and wept with deep, sobbing gasps.

Presently, the paroxysm of crying over, Katy rose once more and once
more dashed cold water over her burning cheeks.

"I will not cry another tear," said she with stern determination. "I
will now plan my life. I must first earn the fifty dollars to pay back
the squire; that is certain. Beyond that is nothing--nothing--nothing in
this world. My young life is ruined."

For an hour Katy sat by the window, her chin in her hands. Frequently
tears dropped to the window sill, but she gave way to sobs no more.

"My heart is broken," declared Katy. "But I must live on. I will
probably live to be a thousand years old. I wish I was with my good
gran'mom in heaven. I wish"--said Katy presently, with a long sigh--"I
wish I had been born into this world with sense."

By the time that the house had quieted for the night and the sounds of
Millerstown's going about had ceased, Katy, too, was asleep. She stirred
uneasily on her pillow, her hands now clasped under a scarlet cheek, now
flung above her head. But she had outlined her working theory.

In the morning she appeared in good time for her breakfast. She had not
been refreshed by her restless sleep, but the first sharpness of the
blow was past. In the doorway of the kitchen stood Bevy, her bright eyes
sparkling with curiosity.

"What is this I hear about Koehler's boy?" she asked Edwin Gaumer. "Is
it so that he will have the Millerstown school?"

"It looks that way," answered Uncle Edwin. "He is a normal, and he has
good letters from the normal about his work, and he comes from
Millerstown and we should help our own; and besides nobody else wants
the Millerstown school."

"A Koehler teaching!" Bevy raised her hands in an astonished gesture.
"He is the first Koehler that ever knew more than A B C. The school
board will get into trouble. This will never go. Where will he live?"

"He will rent a house. He is getting married after school takes in."

"Married!" shrieked Bevy. The suspicion that friendly relations existed
between Katy and Alvin had grown to certainty. Now, furious as Bevy had
been because Katy had so lowered herself, she resented Alvin's daring to
attach himself to any one else. "What cake-not-turned will have him?"

"A lady from away. I think she comes from Allentown."

"You have right to say from away," sniffed Bevy. "No girl from here
would look twice at him."

Katy turned her back upon Bevy as she lifted the breakfast from the
stove to the table. Sharp stabs of pain pierced her. She would have to
hear a dozen times that day that Alvin was to be married. The strain of
listening to Bevy's comments was almost more than she could endure. It
had been important before that no one should suspect that she was
helping Alvin; now it had become absolutely imperative.

When breakfast was over, Katy started down the street to carry out her
plan of life. Her dress was longer than was becoming, the spring had
gone out of her step. She passed the store and the post-office and
turned up Church Street, and there beheld approaching the object of her
journey, who started visibly at sight of her. David had grown still
taller; he wore still more elegant clothes; he would have found an even
more cordial welcome to the societies of his college than would have
been extended to him upon entering. He was certain that he could be
graduated in June of the next year, and he was pleasantly aware of his
position as the most wealthy and the most reserved student in college.
David liked the distinction. His speech was now entirely English; he was
certain that it would be impossible for him to blunder again. He had
determined that when he had graduated he would travel; he would never
live for many months at a time in dull Millerstown. David added another
adjective to Katy's characterization of that busy, tidy village; he
called it _bourgeois_. David had, indeed, soared high above the low
plane of his origin! He had found among the few books in the Hartman
house the pictures of Paris and Amiens and Canterbury, and had learned
for the first time that his father had been abroad. The mystery of his
father was thereby deepened. There was only one portion of David's heart
which had not hardened; in that his father was enthroned. His father, he
was convinced, had had great powers, but he was held to earth and to
Millerstown by a cruel fate which had linked him forever to an unworthy
companion. Thus had Cassie's son decided against her.

David was astonished to hear Katy call to him.

"Come here, please, David. I want to talk to you."

He crossed the street at once and stood looking down at her. He could
not help seeing, even though he had relegated Katy forever to obscurity
in Millerstown, that Katy had not become altogether unattractive. Her
eyes no longer sought his brightly, she looked down or past him as he
came toward her. He wondered what possible errand she could have with
him. He felt his face flushing and he was furious with himself.

"How are you, Katy?" said he, his voice sounding strangely in his ears.

Katy did not hear his question. Her thoughts were fixed upon the plan of
life.

"I want to speak to you about something, David. I was going to your
house. The doctor said your mother was not well. I heard him say to the
squire that she would have to have a girl to live with her when you went
back to school. I would like the place, David."

David's eyes nearly popped from his head. It was true that his mother
seemed feeble and that he had been making inquiries about a maid for
her. But by such an offer as this he was dumbfounded. Had Katy lost her
mind? No Gaumer had ever worked out. Her relatives were comfortably
fixed; she would doubtless have some money of her own when she came of
age. Where was Alvin Koehler, the despicable, to whom Katy had seemed
attached? Had he heard her aright? He could only look at her and gasp
out a foolish, "_You!_"

"I can work," said Katy, with a scarlet face. "I did all the work when
my grandmother was sick for so long."

"Are you not going to school?" David grew more and more astonished as he
became convinced that Katy was in earnest.

"I am not going to school," said Katy. "If I cannot get a place to work
at your house, I will get a place somewhere else, that is all."

"Are you in any trouble, Katy?" asked David. "Can I do anything for
you?"

Katy's head lifted. David Hartman was pitying her, asking to be allowed
to help her. It was intolerable. She realized now how tall he was, how
deep his gray eyes, how fair his white skin; she remembered her gingham
apron, her debt, her disappointed hopes, every embarrassment and pain
that had befallen her.

"There is nothing wrong, of course," said she coldly as she turned away.
"That is all I wanted of you."

"Oh, but wait!" David went to her side and kept pace with her. He did
not proceed with his speech at once. The old vision dazzled him, Katy in
a scarlet dress, Katy laughing, Katy racing down the pike. It was
abominable for her to become a servant--upon this subject, also, David's
opinions had advanced. What in the world were her relatives about? But
if she must live out, it would be better for her to work for his mother
than to work at the hotel--the only other establishment in Millerstown
which required the services of a maid. He would then have her in his
house; the notion set David's cheeks suddenly to burning, his heart to
throbbing. He wondered what room his mother would give her, where she
would sit at the table, what she would do in the evenings when her time
was her own.

"Do you want to engage me?" asked Katy, sharply; "or don't you want to
engage me?"

"My mother will be only too glad to have you," said David, eagerly.

"I will come when your school opens," promised Katy, as she turned the
corner.

"If I get a dollar and a half a week,"--the standard of wages in
Millerstown was not high,--"it will take me thirty-three and a third
weeks to save fifty dollars," reckoned Katy. "That will take from
September till June. After that I do not think of anything. Perhaps by
that time I will die. Then I do not care if they find out that I haven't
my two hundred dollars any more."

Katy at home went on with her accustomed tasks. She was silent; she
avoided her aunt and uncle, since any sudden, gentle address made her
certain that she was going to cry. She put little Adam down whenever he
wished to climb up beside her on the settle; she was to every one a
trying puzzle. In her nervousness she had often a desire to stand still
and scream.

One evening the squire came into the Gaumer kitchen. Edwin lay on the
settle asleep, his wife sat by the table sewing, little Adam was long
since in bed. Katy, too, had gone upstairs. Forgetting now that she had
announced her intention of going to bed immediately, she left her place
by the window to go down for a drink, and came face to face with the
squire who was entering. The squire looked grave; he seated himself in
Grandfather Gaumer's armchair as though he meant to hold court. In a
flash Katy knew what he had come to say. Uncle Edwin sat up blinking,
Aunt Sally dropped her sewing into her lap. The squire did not often pay
calls so late in the evening.

"Katy," began the squire in a stern voice, "what is this I hear about
you?"

Katy's hand was still upon the latch of the stairway door; she grasped
it for support. She had thought that she was prepared for the coming
interview, but she was now badly frightened. Never before had the squire
spoken to her with anything but gentleness and affection.

"What do you hear about me?"

"Benner came in just now on his way from Cassie Hartman's. He had been
trying to find a girl for her. She said that now she would not need one,
that you were going to hire out to her in September."

Uncle Edwin blinked more rapidly. Aunt Sally's lips parted.

"Well?" said Katy.

"Is this thing so?"

"Yes," answered Katy, bravely. "There is nothing wrong in it. It is
honest."

"You are going to hire out!" cried Edwin.

Aunt Sally began to cry. These tears were not the first she had shed on
Katy's account.

"What _for_?" demanded Uncle Edwin. "You have a home. I told you we
would send you to school. You need not even touch your money. What is
this, Katy?"

"I want to earn my living, that is all." Katy's voice was dry and hard.
"It is surely my right to earn my living if I want to!"

"Earn your living if you must!" said the squire, gruffly. "Of course you
can earn your living if you want to. But go to school and learn to earn
it right."

"I do not want to go to school."

The squire looked at her helplessly. Then he crossed the room and took
her by the shoulders and seated her on the settle between Edwin and
himself. He was a persuasive person; it was hard for any one to deny him
what he commanded or what he requested.

"Katy, dear, are you in any trouble?"

Katy actually prayed for help in her prevarication.

"No."

"There is Edwin and here am I," went on the squire. "We are strong
enough to do up anybody. Now, what is the matter, Katy?"

"Nothing," insisted Katy.

"You once wanted to sing," Aunt Sally reminded her. "You were wonderful
strong for singing."

"Sing!" echoed Katy. "I, sing? I can only caw like a crow."

"You had such plans," said Uncle Edwin. "You were going to be so
educated. You were going to bring home your sheaves!"

"I have more sense now," explained Katy.

She looked at them brightly. Her eyes measured their broad
shoulders--how she longed to lay her heavy burden upon them! She no
longer belonged to her kin, she was an alien; she had allied herself
with Koehlers, with William Koehler who was a thief, with Alvin Koehler
who scorned her. She would sooner die than tell what she had done. The
Gaumers were not niggardly, but they knew the value of money. Even Katy
had learned that it took thirty-three and one third weeks to earn fifty
dollars!

"You must let me be!" she burst out wildly. "I am not a child. I have no
father and mother and my dear grandfather and grandmother are dead. You
must let me be! You are persecuting me!"

In an instant the stairway door closed in the faces of her astonished
elders. Uncle Edwin got out his handkerchief and wiped his eyes.

"Millerstown will think we are ugly to her," he said.

"I do not care what Millerstown thinks," declared the squire as he rose
to go. "It is what _I_ think. In the name of sense what has come over
the girl?"

In her room Katy threw herself once more upon that oft-used refuge, her
bed.

"If I could forget him," she moaned. "If I only could forget him. It is
not right to think of him. I cannot be learned, but I can be good. It is
wrong to think all the time of him." She remembered various women in the
village who loved inconstant, unfaithful men. "I am a Mary Wolle! I am
Sally Hersh! I am a shame to myself!"

Three times before September the squire reasoned with her. Even the
doctor ventured to remonstrate.

"No Gaumer has ever done such a thing before, Katy."

"Well, you," said Katy with spirit, "are not a Gaumer, so you do not
need to care."

At her Bevy stormed.

"You surely have one rafter too few or too many, Katy. There is
something wrong with your little house! _Are_ you crazy, Katy?"

"Yes," answered Katy, thus nearly paralyzing Bevy Schnepp. "I am."

In September Katy took up her abode at the Hartmans'. Millerstown saw
her go with wonder. She carried a little satchel and walked with her
chin in the air. Millerstown gazed out doors and windows to see whether
the thing it had heard could be true.

"Ach, Katy!" protested Sarah Ann, "are you not going to be high
gelernt?" Sarah Ann suspected some difficulty at home; her sympathetic
soul was distressed for Katy. "You can come any time and live with me."

"Won't you ever go to your uncle any more?" asked Susannah Kuhns, her
frank inquiry voicing the curiosity of Millerstown.

Katy turned and faced them.

"Why, certainly I will. I will go there every day."

Alvin Koehler had opened the Millerstown school and had already rented a
house from William Knerr the elder. Katy saw him almost daily; he had
even stopped her on the street to tell her that he had not forgotten
her. He exuded satisfaction with himself from every pore; he would even
have told her about his Bessie if Katy had lingered for an instant.

"She is not so good-looking as she once was, Katy isn't," said Alvin as
he looked after her.

David Hartman had gone when she reached his mother's house. Mrs. Hartman
lay upon the settle in the kitchen. Her face was pale; she sat up with
difficulty when Katy came in. She knew little of the affairs of
Millerstown; she did not speculate about the reasons for Katy's presence
in her house.

"It is a long time since my house was cleaned right," she complained.
"We must begin at the top and clean everything. To-day, though, we will
clean David's room. That is where you are to sleep. You can first scrub
the cupboards and dust the books and put them away in the cupboard. He
has many, many books and they gather dust so. Then stuff a dust-cloth
tight under the door while you clean the rest. And take the bed apart so
you can dust it well."

Mrs. Hartman lay down, breathless. The Gaumers had the reputation of
being fine housekeepers; she hoped that her house would again be
restored to cleanliness. Her son, with his untidy, mannish ways, was
gone; peace had returned.

By Saturday Katy had become acquainted with the attic of the great
house, the house which in her childhood had been to her the abode of
Mystery. The attic, with its store of discarded but good furniture, its
moth-guarded chests, was clean; it had been swept, whitewashed, aired,
scrubbed, made immaculate. Each garment had been carried down to the
yard, had there been beaten and sunned, and then had been restored to
its proper place. Cassie, making her painful way to the third story,
pronounced the work good. The next week the bedrooms were to be
similarly treated. Into their magnificence Katy had peered, round-eyed.
Here was no mystery, here was only grandeur. Thus Katy would have
furnished her house.

On Saturday evening when work was done, Katy went down to sit with Aunt
Sally. She was desperately tired; such toil as Cassie Hartman directed
had not come within the Gaumer experience. But Katy was happier; that
was plain even to the eyes of Aunt Sally, who shook her head over the
strange puzzle. Katy had had no time for thinking. And into the putlock
hole she had dropped a dollar and a half. The putlock hole was a safe
bank; only a small hand like her own could reach into the inner depths
into which she thrust her precious earnings.



                               CHAPTER XV

                    AN OLD WAY OUT OF A NEW TROUBLE


ON the morning of the 1st of September, Alvin dressed himself handsomely
and went out the pike to the schoolhouse. The school board had, at his
request, advanced his first month's salary, and with a part of it,
though he was not to be married until January, he had paid the rent of
the little house on Main Street, and with the rest he had bought a
present for Bessie. It must be confessed that no generous spirit
dictated Alvin's giving of gifts. It was a proper thing to give girls
presents, thereby one made an impression upon them and upon their
friends. But it also deprived the giver of luxuries. Alvin had begun to
anticipate eagerly the time when he would no longer need to make
presents to Bessie.

Bessie was a saleswoman in a store in a county seat; she received good
wages and lived at home.

"What I earn is mine," she explained. "My pop buys even some of my
clothes for me. I need only buy my fancy clothes. I have a nice account
in the bank."

Bessie was a thrifty soul; she had made Alvin persuade his landlord,
Billy Knerr, the elder, to take two dollars a month less than he had
asked at first for the little house. She had planned already the style
of furniture she wished for each room.

"It is to be oak in the dining-room," Alvin explained to Sarah Ann Mohr,
with whom he took his meals. Alvin had reached that point in his
self-satisfaction when he would have bragged to stones and trees if
there had been no human creature at hand to listen. In Sarah Ann he had
an eager hearer. Sarah Ann sat at close attention with parted lips and
shining eyes. Sometimes she cried out, "Du liefer Friede" (Thou dear
peace)! or, "Bei meiner Seele" (By my soul)!

"There is to be a sideboard and a serving-table to match," went on
Alvin.

Sarah Ann opened her mouth a little wider.

"What is a serving-table, Alvin?"

"A serving-table is a--it is--a--a table," explained Alvin. "You serve
on it."

"Oh, of course," said Sarah Ann, without understanding in the least. "I
am astonished, Alvin!"

"We are just going to furnish two bedrooms now. When we have a servant,
then it will be time enough to furnish the other room."

Sarah Ann's eyelids fluttered up and down.

"A servant! Ach, Alvin, I hope you are not going to marry a sick one!"

"Of course not," protested Alvin. "Of course not, Sarah Ann!" Alvin's
chest expanded, he breathed deeply. "Ladies in the city do not do their
own work, Sarah Ann!"

"Ladies!" repeated Sarah Ann. Here was the capstone of Alvin's grandeur.
A lady was to Millerstown almost a mythical creature. "Are you, then,
marrying a lady, Alvin?"

"To be sure," answered Alvin. "She never yet had to work in a kitchen.
She is in the store just because she likes it. Her pop is rich."

"Do you mean she cannot cook, Alvin? Or wash? Or bake?"

"She could," said Alvin. "She could if she wanted to. But she doesn't
like it."

"Doesn't like it!" As well might one say that Bessie did not like to
sleep or eat or breathe! Sarah Ann's own breath was quite taken away.
She shook her head ponderously, certain that either she or Alvin was
going crazy. Then a question occurred to Sarah Ann. She had really a
delicate sense of propriety; if she had stopped to think, she would not
have asked the question. But it was out before she could restrain
herself. "You will then bring your pop home from the poorhouse, I
suppose, Alvin?"

Alvin blushed. He did not like to have any one mention his father.

"Father is not in the poorhouse because he is poor. He is there because
he has lost his mind."

"Ach, Alvin, he is better, _indeed_, he is better! I was at the
poorhouse to help with a prayer meeting, and, indeed, he is almost
himself, Alvin."

Alvin rose from his seat on Sarah Ann's bench. The conversation had
taken a turn he did not like.

"I could not have pop with Bessie," he insisted. "Pop could easily
become violent."

When he had left her, Sarah Ann sat paralyzed. Her whole soul longed for
the listening ear of Susannah Kuhns, but as yet her body had not
gathered strength enough to transport itself to Susannah's house.
Mercifully, the fates arranged that Susannah should observe the
departing Alvin and should hurry over as fast as her feet could carry
her. Susannah liked to hear Sarah Ann tell of the strange events of
which she read, of the man whose head was turning into the head of a
lion, of the dog who had learned to talk, of the woman who put glass
into her husband's pies. But Susannah loved better to hear Sarah Ann
tell of Alvin.

Now Susannah stood with arms akimbo, with shakes of head, with
astonished clapping of lips together.

"This makes the understanding stand still," declared Susannah as she
listened.

"He gave her a ring already," went on Sarah Ann. "He has a wedding
present ready for her. He let himself be enlarged from a photograph and
he has a big picture. He carries a cane in the picture. He has it hung
up already in his house. He said I should come over once and he would
show it to me."

In Alvin's course at the normal school he had studied not only pedagogy
and psychology, but he had had practical experience in teaching.
Connected with the normal school was a model school. There, in a light
and airy room whose windows were filled with blooming plants and whose
walls were decked with pictures, Alvin had given the "May lesson," a
half-hour of instruction in the blossoms and birds of spring. Vases of
snowballs and iris and dishes of bluets and violets served as
illustrations for his remarks; he had also pictures of flickers and
robins. His class was orderly and polite. For a month he had prepared
for this half-hour of teaching; he had even reviewed with the
superintendent of the model school what he meant to say and had received
her advice and approval. Alvin thought so much about himself and so
little about any other subject that he had by this time forgotten the
ways of the Millerstown school. The Millerstown school and the model
school were not much alike.

He received after his lesson was over a commendatory letter from the
superintendent, the same letter which he had proudly exhibited to Edwin
Gaumer and the other directors. The superintendent said that he was a
young man of good presence, that he had thoroughly mastered his subject,
that he had held the interest of his pupils throughout his teaching
period, and had maintained perfect discipline. The superintendent did
not say that she herself was a stern person, whom no child would
disobey, and that she had remained in the room while the lesson was in
progress. The model school superintendent could, to be sure, have
conducted the lesson no differently. It would hardly have been wise to
train the model school children to test the disciplinary powers of their
teachers by insubordination, in order that the teachers might be trained
in the various methods for quelling riots!

On the 1st day of September, Alvin put on his best suit and went to
school. He had been carefully instructed in the importance of first
impressions, the necessity for brightness and cheerfulness of hue as
well as of disposition in the schoolroom. He had quite forgotten that
the Millerstown teachers were expected to dust and sweep the room in
which they taught.

He looked for his scholars along the road, but could see none of them.
He had forgotten also the custom which awarded the best seat, which was
always the rear seat, to the first comer. In his own day he had
frequently arrived at the schoolhouse at seven o'clock of the opening
day to discover that there were half a dozen boys ahead of him.

The children, trained finally by Mr. Carpenter into some respect for the
office of teacher, answered politely the good-morning with which Alvin
had been instructed to begin the school day. They sang with gusto the
familiar,--

    "O the joys of childhood,
    Roaming through the wild wood,
    Running o'er the meadows,
    Happy and free,"--

a favorite for several generations, since it gave full opportunity for
the use of the human voice. Then the children set themselves with
gratifying diligence to a study of the lessons which Alvin assigned
them. Alvin had notebooks in which were Outlines of Work for Primary
Schools, Outlines of Work for Secondary Schools, Outlines of Work for
Ungraded Schools, and the like. Here also were plans for Nature Work and
Number Work, and various other kinds of Works whose names at least were
new in the curriculum of the Millerstown school. The children took
kindly enough to them all; they went quietly about their tasks. The
discipline of school was pleasant. The older girls smiled at Alvin and
blushed when he spoke.

To Sarah Ann, Alvin imparted daily fresh plans made by him and his
Bessie for the furnishing of their house.

"We have changed to mahogany for the dining-room. Oak is not fashionable
any more. People are getting rid of their oak." In these statements
Alvin quoted from the clerk in a furniture store who had showed to him
and Bessie a new mahogany set of dining-room furniture. "We have picked
out our things already."

Sarah Ann did not know much about the various kinds of wood, but
mahogany was a longer word than oak, and the furniture made of that wood
was probably the finest that could be had. As a matter of fact, Sarah
Ann had in her house without knowing it several fine pieces of mahogany.
Sarah Ann told Susannah about Alvin's plans and they spread promptly
over Millerstown.

"It is a rich girl, for sure," said Millerstown.

Once the young lady herself appeared to inspect Alvin's house.
Millerstown saw the two step from the car and appraised the furs and the
feathered hat as well as they could, considering that furs and feathers
were not in general use in Millerstown except upon the backs of the
creatures who wore them naturally. Millerstown was astonished and
Millerstown admired. Katy Gaumer, returning from an hour spent with her
Aunt Sally, her feathers a scarlet nubia, her furs a crimson shawl,
blushed first scarlet and then crimson as she came upon Alvin and his
lady, and went on her way choking back something in her throat. Alvin
took his Bessie directly to Sarah Ann's house, and Sarah Ann,
embarrassed and silent, accompanied them upon their tour of inspection.
Sarah Ann could not explain exactly why she was invited.

"It is something about the fashion," she explained to Susannah. "The
young folks are nowadays not to be alone."

Susannah laughed a scornful laugh.

"These must be fine young folks nowadays, if they cannot be trusted
fifteen minutes to walk alone through a cold house!"

Upon the strength of Alvin's good position, and of Sarah Ann's account
of the riches of the young lady's father, and of a dazzling glimpse of
the young lady herself, Billy Knerr trusted Alvin for the second and the
third and the fourth month's rent of his house, the school board
continued to pay Alvin in advance, and the coal dealer let him have
three tons of coal on credit. An Allentown tailor made him a new winter
suit on the same terms, and Sarah Ann let him stay on without reminding
him of his board bill. Alvin hated to pay for commodities which could be
eaten, like potatoes, or which could be burned up, like coal. When the
coal was in the cellar, he forgot entirely that presently there would be
a bill. Alvin was wholly happy; there were moments when the
contemplation of his good fortune made him dizzy.

On Sunday evenings Alvin continued his attendance at the Millerstown
churches. He meant to ally himself finally with one of them, the
Lutheran, probably, since the Weygandts and Gaumers and Fackenthals were
Lutheran. He still visited, however, the church of the Improved New
Mennonites where Essie Hill blushed deeply under her plain hat as he
approached. There was a new legend upon Essie's hat. Instead of being a
worker in the vineyard, she was now a soldier in the kingdom. David
Hartman still sat occasionally with her upon her doorstep. Again her
father spoke to her about him.

"You can't marry anybody outside the church, Essie."

"No, pop."

Into the Reverend Mr. Hill's somber eyes there came for an instant a
hopeful gleam.

"Perhaps we could get him in the church?"

"Perhaps," agreed Essie. "I talk to him sometimes."

It was in December when Fate turned against Alvin. Alvin had now burned
his supply of coal and was angrily refused more. Alvin's Allentown
tailor, failing to receive replies to his letter, sent a collector to
interview Alvin, an insistent person who, failing to find him at home,
visited him at the schoolhouse. Even Sarah Ann, who was patience
personified, reminded her boarder gently that she had fed him for four
months without any return.

"I did it to earn a little extra missionary money, Alvin," explained
Sarah Ann. "We have at this time of the year always a Thank Offering. I
thought I would earn this to put in my box."

In December, the spirit of evil entered the Millerstown school. The
familiar sound of twanging wires, of slamming desk lids, the soft slap
of moistened paper balls striking the blackboards, were the first
warnings of the rise of rebellion. The Millerstown children had not
enough to do. Their teacher had reached the end of his outlines and knew
not how to make more. He was desperately tired of teaching; he could not
understand how he could ever have supposed that Mr. Carpenter had an
easy or a pleasant time.

One morning when he entered the schoolroom, he found the blackboard
decorated with a caricature of himself, labeled with the insulting
appellation which Susannah Kuhns had once bestowed upon him, "Der
Fratzhans." There were only two pupils who were skillful enough to have
drawn so lifelike a representation of their teacher; they were two of
the four large girls in the upper class, of whose admiration Alvin had
been certain. It was a cruel blow for poor Alvin.

Again the collector who represented the tailor visited him. This time he
met Alvin on Main Street, in front of the post-office, and at the top of
his loud and unfeeling voice, demanded instant payment.

"I will get it," promised Alvin. "Till Monday I will have it for sure."

It must be said in justice to Alvin that he did not think at once of
making application to Katy Gaumer for succor in his financial situation.
To his Bessie he offered no such slight as that. But succor Alvin must
have. He knew so little about the law that he feared he might be cast
into prison. When he had got rid of the insulting creature and his
demands, he dressed himself in the suit under discussion and at once
sought Bessie at her father's house in the county seat.

There, alas! Alvin did not behave in a manner befitting one whose
education and manners were so fine. He asked Bessie plainly and frankly
for a loan, having been led by Miss Katy Gaumer to expect an immediate
and favorable response from any female whom he honored with such a
request. To his astonishment Bessie stared at him rudely.

"Why do you want money?"

"To pay a few things."

"Don't you have any money?"

"It isn't time yet for my salary." In reality Alvin had been paid as at
first, in advance.

"Don't you have any money in the bank?"

"Why, no!" It had never occurred to Alvin to do anything with money but
spend it.

"Have you paid for the furniture?"

"The furniture?" repeated Alvin weakly.

"Yes, the furniture." Bessie was growing redder and redder, her voice
sharper. "The furniture that you and I picked out this long while!"

"Why, no," confessed Alvin, "I thought that you--that you
would--would--"

"You thought _I_ would pay for it!" Bessie's voice rose so high that her
whole family might have heard if they had not considerately left the
house to her and her beau. "Well, you were mistaken!"--Bessie was a
slangy person, she said that Alvin was "stung." "And here"--Bessie ran
upstairs and returned with a letter--"here is this. I thought, of
course, this was a mistake. I paid no attention to it. Open it!"

Alvin grew pale. He recognized, before the envelope was in his hand, the
business card on the corner. The bill for Bessie's ring had come to him
many times. Now upon the bill Bessie laid the ring itself.

"There!" said she.

Alvin remembered suddenly how David Hartman had appeared on the mountain
long ago and had hurled himself upon him. He had now much the same
sensations.

"Do you mean that it is over?" he faltered in a dazed tone.

"Yes," answered Bessie in a very firm, decided tone; "I mean just that."

After Alvin had carried the ring back to the jeweler, a way suggested
itself of paying the tailor. He returned his beautiful best winter suit,
worn but a very few times, and received some credit on his bill. The
balance, alas! remained, and the tailor seemed but slightly mollified by
his humility. The coal bill remained also, but the coal had been burned
and could not be restored to the dealer. The landlord had also been
deprived of the rent for his house, the food had been eaten. What Alvin
should do about the landlord and about Sarah Ann he did not know. Alvin
had a sad Christmas.

January and February passed slowly. Alvin was still too proud to confess
to Millerstown that Bessie had jilted him; he paid a little on his great
rent bill as means of staving off the discovery a little longer. The
children in school became entirely ungovernable, their invention more
brilliant and demoniacal. The stovepipe fell with a crash to the floor,
the flying soot blackening the faces of teacher and pupils alike. Alvin
found his overshoes filled with powdered chalk and damp sponges; he met
fresh pictures of himself when he opened the door. When he undertook in
midwinter to raise a mustache there appeared promptly upon the upper lip
of most of his pupils a dark and suggestive line. The children grew more
impertinent, the bills more pressing. In despair Alvin climbed the hill
and ransacked the little house where he had lived with his father. He
thought bitterly of William, who had squandered his money on madness,
and who had given his son so unpleasant a life.

He found nothing in the little house. As he shut the door behind him, he
remembered how John Hartman had sat dead in his buggy before the gate as
he and Katy came down the mountain road.

At once a warm glow flooded the soul of Alvin. How comforting had been
the touch of Katy on that frightful day, how brave she had been! How
kind Katy had been to him always, how freely she had granted all he
asked! And now Katy was rich, she had doubtless inherited a good deal of
money from her grandmother, and she was earning dear knows what liberal
salary at the rich Hartmans'. She had come to take a sensible view of
education; she had decided, Alvin was certain, that it counted for
nothing. To Katy his heart warmed. He remembered her with tears.

At once Alvin hastened back to his little house, and there, sitting
straightway down at his table, indited a letter. Composition was easy;
he had long ago written a model.

"DEAR, DEAR KATY,--I am in great trouble. I need a little money. If you
have any, Katy, say about $25, put it in the hole in the wall. Katy, say
you will." Then Alvin added a postscript. "I am not going to marry,
Katy. I have broken it all off."

But Alvin did not present his letter. Instead, he held it until he
should have made trial of another expedient. Perhaps some fragment of
Katy's earlier largess still remained in the putlock hole!

That evening Alvin attended service at the church of the Improved New
Mennonites. He was so unhappy that he dared not be alone, and in the
church of the Improved New Mennonites he would meet none of his
creditors, all of whom belonged to the larger, longer established
churches. Here, too, Essie smiled at him. Essie was a comfortable
person; she was neither ambitious for learning nor scornful of those who
had no money. The preacher exhorted his congregation to make a fresh
start; this Alvin determined to do.

On the way home he made a détour through the open fields until he
reached the back of the Gaumer garden. Through the garden he crept
softly. The night was dark, the wind whistled mournfully through the
doors of the Gaumer barn. Alvin slipped and fell when his foot sank into
the burrow of a mole. But Alvin pressed on.

When he put his hand into the putlock hole and his fingers touched the
hard stone, he could have sunk to the ground with disappointment. Again
he thrust in his hand and could find nothing. A third time he tried,
pushing his cuff back on his arm so as to insert his hand as far as
possible. A fourth time he reached in vain. In the old days when Katy
had laid there for him the fat bills, they had always been within easy
reach. Finally, in the last gasp of hope, he took from his pocket a long
lead pencil and felt about with its tip. The broad stone which formed
the floor of the putlock hole sloped; there, in the little pit at the
back, Alvin's pencil touched an object which he could move about.

After much prying he drew it forth, a round half-dollar, a part of the
last wages which Katy had received from Mrs. Hartman.

He held it in his hand and tried desperately to reach its fellows.
Surely the Fates would not mock him with a half-dollar when his needs
were so great! To-morrow evening he would bring a bent wire and see what
he could do with that.

With the blessed coin in his hand, Alvin turned his steps homeward.



                              CHAPTER XVI

                        BEVY PUTS A HEX ON ALVIN


AFTER Katy had cleaned the Hartman attic, she cleaned one by one the
Hartman bedrooms. Cupboards and closets were emptied of their contents;
clothes, blankets, great, thick comforts were carried to the yard and
there were beaten and aired and restored to their places. Carpets were
taken up to be put through the same process and then were nailed down
once more to the floor, with mighty stretching of arms and pulling of
fingers. Floors were scrubbed, paint was wiped, windows were polished;
even the outside of the house was washed, the walls being approached by
a leaning down from the upper windows, long-handled brush well in hand,
and a stretching up from the lower windows. Any well-trained
Pennsylvania German housewife is amply able to superintend the putting
in order of an operating-room in a hospital.

Mrs. Hartman superintended the cleaning, though she was able to take no
part. She lay day after day on the old settle in the kitchen and was
helped night after night to her bed. She did not like to be helped; if
she could make the journey herself while Katy was for a moment busy
elsewhere, or when Katy had run down to sit for a few minutes with her
Aunt Sally, she was well pleased. As the hoard in Katy's bank grew,
Katy's heart became lighter, her tongue moved with some of its old
gayety. But Cassie made no answer; she said nothing, indeed, from day's
beginning to day's end, except to give Katy directions about her work.
Dr. Benner came occasionally to see her, rather as one who watches the
progress of an incurable disease than as one who hopes to stay its
course. The Lutheran preacher visited her and was received with all
appropriate ceremony. Then, according to the old German custom, all work
ceased and the family waited upon its guest. In nothing outside her
house was Cassie interested. It seemed that for Cassie the springs of
life had at last run dry.

When her day's work was done, Katy went to her room and read half the
night away. David had brought home the sets of standard works in
beautiful bindings which he had bought from agents who visited the
college; and now into the stories of Scott and Dickens and Thackeray,
stored by Cassie's command in David's cupboard, Katy plunged as a diver
plunges into a stream. The books had not been packed away in any order
of author or subject; upon them Katy seized as they came to hand. When
she could not understand what she read--and there were many poems and
essays at which Katy blinked without comprehension--she cried, thinking
with bitter regret and heartache that now she might have been in school.

"And I am a servant girl!" sighed Katy. "It is no shame to be a servant
girl, but it is a black shame for me!"

Daily she made mental reckoning of the silver dollars and half-dollars
accumulating in the putlock hole.

"But there are the two hundred dollars!" she cried. "What shall I say to
them about the two hundred dollars! Perhaps when I have paid the squire
his fifty dollars, I could tell him that the two hundred dollars was
gone and he could get uncle to give me some of my money. Perhaps I can
sing again!" The pictures of foreign places in a beautiful book of
David's made her heart throb. "Once I thought I could see all such
places!"

Then Katy hid her face in her hands and David's beautiful book slid from
her lap to the floor.

At Christmas time David Hartman came home. He had attained his full
height; his gray eyes looked clearly into the eyes of those who spoke to
him. He stood at the head of his class; he had gained confidence in
himself. He had asked his mother for a larger allowance and had received
it promptly. It amused him to flaunt his money in the eyes of the
college, to spend large sums as though they were nothing. He brought his
mother handsome presents, and his mother had handsome presents for him.
It seemed as though he and she finally understood each other. Of resting
his head on any one's shoulder, David thought no more; into his throat
came no choking sensations as of old. At Millerstown's pronunciations
and Millerstown's customs David laughed. When it was necessary for Katy
to be with him, she recounted to him the Millerstown news and David
listened politely. Presently it seemed to Katy that he was laughing at
her; then she said no more. It was not necessary for them to have much
speech together; Katy went down to her Aunt Sally's to sleep while David
was at home, leaving the Hartman house soon after supper. During the day
she did not see him except in his mother's presence.

"I have read some of your books," she told him one afternoon when she
sat at the window sewing and he sat on the opposite side of the kitchen
with a book, and Cassie lay asleep on the settle between them.

"That is right," said David. "I hope you have enjoyed them."

"I did." Katy laid down her sewing. If she could talk about these books
with David! "I read first of all Wanity--" oh, terrible slip of a tongue
which knew better! "I mean Vanity Fair!"

A flash came into David's eyes, a flash of bitter reminiscence. To Katy
it was a flash of amusement.

"Vanity Fair is a fine book," said David. But David's tongue betrayed
him again. David, too, said "Wanity." To Katy the tone was mocking.

Katy said no more. Katy went to visit her Aunt Sally even in the
afternoons.

"'I am brutish as the ox and the ass,'" quoted Katy.

When the preacher came to see David she could not slip away, though she
tried hard. She had to listen to the two discussing David's work. She
was even unfamiliar with the names of some of his studies.

David, to the awe and envy of his college mates, had for some time kept
a riding-horse. He rode while he was at home on a young horse of the
Weygandts' which Jimmie had trained to the saddle. Millerstown watched
him with admiration as he galloped along the village streets in curious
riding-clothes; the squire shook his head over him. The squire was
Cassie's adviser; he knew the extent of the fortune which David was to
inherit; he was well acquainted also with the curious mental inheritance
which was David's. He could not get on with David, who was as taciturn
as his parents.

David rode about to all his mother's farms and orchards and to the fine
woodland on the mountain with its precious soil. Many persons were
dependent upon the Hartman estate for their livelihood, more would be
dependent when the mines could be opened again. There came into David's
mind as he rode homeward a dim vision like the vision his father had
seen of a happy community of which he should be the head. But David did
not try to make his vision clear to himself. He was passing the
poorhouse and his thoughts turned to the Koehler family. Alvin he hated;
with Alvin he still owed the settlement of a debt, even though Katy
Gaumer seemed to think of him no more. William Koehler himself had been
punished; he was praying and gibbering somewhere behind the walls of the
poorhouse. David thought of his father, and the rage of his youth
against the Koehlers swelled his heart again almost to bursting. Without
exception he hated Millerstown.

Nevertheless, David went once or twice to see the little Improved New
Mennonite, a proceeding which amazed and disgusted Millerstown. Susannah
Kuhns expressed to Katy Millerstown's opinion that that connection would
"give a match"; then she recounted to Katy at great length the ambitious
plans of Alvin and his bride.

When David returned to school, Katy went back to her room in the Hartman
house. Christmas had been dreary with its memories and its contrasts
with the past; Katy was not sorry to have again constant occupation for
her mind and her hands. She straightened out the slight disorder caused
by the presence of David; she got the meals as usual; she exchanged a
few words with the invalid; and when the quiet of night had settled upon
the house, she lit the lamp in her room and opened the beautiful
illustrated book at the page upon which she had closed it. But Katy did
not proceed with the account of the Coliseum. Katy closed the book, and
drawing her scarlet shawl a little closer about her shoulders, laid her
cheek down on the bureau. Katy was again obsessed. She saw David's clear
gray eyes, looking at her in astonishment as she applied for a servant's
place in his mother's house. She heard his speech, so unlike her own; he
seemed to stand close beside her. She saw again that flicker of
amusement in his eyes, heard again that unconscious mockery. David was a
part of the great world into which she had expected to fare forth. David
was English. David was as far above her as the stars.

"He wasn't in the beginning!" cried Katy. "I have made myself what I am.
I am mean and low and ignorant."

Then Katy rose from her chair and clasped her hands across her heart.

"Am I to have _this_ again?" cried Katy. "Alvin is only just out of my
mind. What am I to do? What _am_ I to do? What am I made of? I am worse
than Mary Wolle and Sally Hersh. If I cannot have one in my mind to
worry me, then I must have another. Am I to have no peace in this
world?"

Katy looked about the little room with its narrow bed, its little
bureau, its single chair, its cupboard crowded with books. Katy
remembered that this was David's room, that here he slept, had slept
only last night. Katy knelt down by the bed and began to pray, not for
David, but for herself.

By morning Katy had made a firm resolution.

"I will think only of this money. I have twenty-four dollars saved. In
four months I will be free of my debt."

January, February, and March saw poor Cassie growing weaker and more
silent, saw Katy's hoard swelling.

"It is thirty dollars!" said she. "Now it is thirty-six dollars!" "Now
it is forty-two dollars!" Frequently Katy thanked God. A little lighter
grew her heart.

One evening in March a sudden uneasiness overwhelmed her.

"I will go down and count it," said she. "Perhaps I should put it in a
safer place. But no one knows that the hole is there but a few people,
and no one could get a hand into the bottom but me."

It was not Saturday; Katy had no sum to add to the deposit; but she
wrapped her shawl about her and went down to the Gaumer house. There,
laughing at herself for her uneasiness, she rolled back her sleeve and
thrust her arm deep into her hiding-place. Then she stood perfectly
still and with a moan began to feel about. The little pit had no outlet;
it was still safe and dry, a capital hiding-place, provided one kept its
existence to one's self, but it was empty.

At first Katy could not believe the evidence of her senses. Frantically
she thrust in her hand, reluctantly she drew it out and felt of it with
the other hand and even laid it along her cheek. It was not until she
had repeated this process several times that she was able to appreciate
the truth. The putlock hole was empty, her hard-earned hoard was gone,
freedom from debt cruelly postponed.

Then Katy, who had so bravely hidden her various troubles from
Millerstown and from her kin, began to cry like a crazy person. She
struck at the hard stone wall until her hands bled; she ran, crying and
sobbing, to her Uncle Edwin's door, and burst it open, frightening him
and Aunt Sally nearly out of their wits as they sat by the kitchen
table.

"My money is gone!" she cried, seizing Uncle Edwin by the arm. "I tell
you my money is gone! It is stolen! It is not there! Somebody has run
away with it!"

"Your money!" gasped Uncle Edwin, struggling to his feet. "What money?
Where had you money, Katy? Who stole it? In Heaven's name, Katy, what is
wrong?"

Katy sank down on the old settle and stared at them wildly.

"I had money in the hole in the wall."

"What hole in the wall, Katy?"

"Right here in this wall, where Bevy put cakes for me when I was little
and lived with my gran'pop. I had all my money that I ever earned
there--it was forty-two dollars. Cassie would tell you that she gave me
forty-two dollars already, or you could count it up by weeks. On
Saturday evening it was there, and now it is gone. Oh, what shall I do,
what shall I do?"

Katy began to wring her hands; Aunt Sally besought her, weeping, to lie
down; Uncle Edwin reached to the high mantel-shelf where he had laid his
gun out of little Adam's reach.

"There is no one there now!" cried Katy. "It is no use to go now! I can
reach to the bottom of the hole and there is not a penny there." She
began to repeat what she had said. "My money is gone! My money is gone!"
William Koehler when he was accused of stealing the communion service
had behaved no more crazily.

"I will go for the squire," said Uncle Edwin, moving toward the door,
gun in hand. "That is the first thing to do."

Then Uncle Edwin paused. From without rose a fearful uproar. There were
loud cries in a man's voice, there were shrill reproaches and commands
in a woman's. There were even squeals. Aunt Sally added her screams to
those which proceeded from without. Uncle Edwin advanced boldly, his
empty gun lifted to his shoulder.

"It is Bevy!" cried Aunt Sally. "Some one has Bevy!"

Bravely Aunt Sally followed Uncle Edwin; weeping Katy followed Aunt
Sally. At the corner of the house they paused in unspeakable amazement.

The squire had opened his door; from it a broad shaft of light shot out
across the lawn which separated the two houses. It illuminated brightly
the opening of the putlock hole and its vicinity. There an extraordinary
tableau presented itself to the eyes of Katy Gaumer and her kin. The
center of the stage was occupied by Bevy and a struggling man. Over his
head Bevy had thrown her gingham apron; she twisted it now tightly like
a tourniquet and screamed for help.

"Thief! Thief!" shouted Bevy.

"My ear! My ear!" cried a muffled voice from beneath the apron, a voice
recognized immediately by one at least of the astonished spectators.

"I do not care for your ear," screamed Bevy. "Your ear is nothing to me.
You were stealing! What is it that you have stolen?"

Wildly Alvin tried to free himself; frantically Bevy clung to him. Bevy
now found an ally in Uncle Edwin, who seized the prisoner in a firm
grasp.

"Whoa, there!" cried Uncle Edwin. "I have him, Bevy. I have him by the
arm. You can let him go."

There was the sound of approaching footsteps, of opening doors, there
were questions and outcries.

"What is it?"

"I heard some one yelling."

"Shall I bring a gun?"

"It was a pig that squealed!"

"What is wrong with everybody?"

The squire came flying across the lawn. He saw as he opened the door the
struggling Alvin and the excited Bevy and Edwin Gaumer armed here on
this peaceful night with a gun. He saw also his grandniece with her
flaming cheeks, her swollen eyes, her disheveled hair. The squire did
not know what had happened, but he closed his door behind him so that
the scene should be no longer illuminated.

"Nothing is wrong," he declared sternly. "Nobody shall bring a gun."

With a gesture he ordered his kinsfolk and Bevy and her prey into his
office; with an arm thrown across her shoulders he protected his niece
from further observation. Then, cruelly, upon Millerstown he shut his
office door. For a while Millerstown hung about; then having recognized
no one but the squire, and neither able to see nor to hear further,
departed for their several homes.

Inside the squire locked the door and motioned his excited guests to
seats. If Katy had had her way she would have died on the spot, she
would have sunk into the earth and would have been swallowed up. But
with the squire's arm about her she could do nothing but proceed to his
office with the rest.

The squire looked from one to the other, from Edwin with his gun to Aunt
Sally with her round and staring eyes; from Bevy to Alvin, who smoothed
his hair and laid a protecting hand over his suffering ear.

"What on earth is the matter with you people?" he demanded. "Has war
broken out in Millerstown?"

At once began an indescribable clamor.

"I was going over to Sally a little--" this was Bevy. "I saw him." Bevy
indicated her prisoner with a contemptuous gesture. "He was digging in
the hole, and I--"

"You didn't!" contradicted Alvin. "You didn't!"

"What hole?" asked the squire.

"Do you dare to say I didn't take you by the ear?" cried Bevy with
threatening fingers lifted toward that aching member.

"The hole where Katy had her money," explained Edwin.

"It was stolen," cried Aunt Sally.

"I didn't!" protested Alvin again, his face green with fright. He blamed
his own greediness for the discovery. On Sunday evening he had taken all
Katy's hoard; why had he been so mad as to return to seek more?

"A mule is a mule," proclaimed Bevy Schnepp. "A Koehler is a Koehler.
They steal; you cannot better them by education; they are all the time
the same, they--"

"Be still, Bevy!" commanded the squire.

But Bevy would not be still. She gave another scream and began to dance
up and down in her grasshopper-like fashion.

"Look at him, once! He says he didn't, does he? Look once what he has in
his hand!"

At once all eyes turned with closer scrutiny upon Alvin. He still held
in his hand the implement with which he had coaxed Katy's dollars and
half-dollars from the depths of the putlock hole. It was only a bit of
twisted wire, but it had done its work well.

"Like father, like son!" screamed Bevy again. "What did I say? Where did
he get the money to get educated? Where--"

"Bevy, be still!" commanded the squire in a sterner tone. "Katy, did you
keep your money in the putlock hole?"

"Yes," answered Katy in a low voice. Here, face to face with Alvin, she
remembered all the past, her long vigils on the porch when she watched
for him, his kiss in the shadow, his later, different kisses, his
ingratitude, her shame. Katy's head sank lower and lower on her breast.

"Why did you select such a place for a bank, Katy?"

"I used to keep things there when I was a little girl. Into the deep
part nobody could put a hand but me. That is why I thought it was safe."

The squire looked more and more angry. His voice sank deeper and deeper
in his throat.

"You didn't count on bent wire, did you? How much money did you have
there, Katy?"

Katy answered so faintly that the squire could not hear.

"She said forty-two dollars," answered Uncle Edwin for her. Uncle Edwin
had now stationed himself behind Alvin; at Alvin's slightest motion he
put forth a hand to seize him. The Gaumers had not been able to defend
their kinswoman from her own incomprehensible foolishness, but from such
bold assault from without they were amply able to protect her.

"Is this so, Katy?" asked the squire.

Katy's head sank on her breast. "Yes, sir."

"Alvin, look at me!"

Alvin lifted his head slowly. He saw jail yawning before him. If they
searched his house, they could still find a few of Katy's silver coins.
Then under the pressure of fear--Alvin as yet felt no shame--his mind
worked to some purpose. There was one possible defense to make; this he
offered.

"Katy often gave me money and put it in that place for me," he said,
boldly. "There I got it many times. Ain't--" Alvin's normal school
training suddenly forsook him--"ain't it so, Katy?"

"You must be wandering in your mind, Alvin," said the squire,
scornfully.

"There he will not wander far," cried Bevy with a shrill laugh.

Alvin rose from his chair and approached Katy. Color returned to his
cheek, his eyes brightened.

"Ain't it so, Katy, that you often put money in that hole for me?"

"Humbug!" cried the squire.

But Alvin persisted. He went nearer to Katy, and with single united
motion Katy's relatives sprang toward him. Aunt Sally put her arm round
her niece, Bevy made a threatening motion toward Alvin's ear, Uncle
Edwin seized him by the arm. But Alvin grew ever bolder. Despite the
threats of Bevy and the hand of Edwin, he took another step toward Katy.

"Say you gave money to me often, Katy?"

Katy answered in a low voice. She was too confused to think of any
expedient; she answered with the truth. Perhaps that would put an end to
this intolerable scene. It would be bad enough to have them know, but it
was worse to stand here in misery with them all staring at her.

"Yes," she answered Alvin, "I did give you sometimes money."

"What!" cried the squire.

Uncle Edwin and Bevy each gave a kind of groan.

Katy lifted her head.

"I said 'yes.'"

Now Bevy began to cry aloud.

"Next time I will not take you to the squire, you lump! Next time I will
twist your ear quite off. I will settle you right!"

"Bevy, you had better go," suggested the squire; and meekly Bevy
departed.

"Edwin, suppose you and Sally leave these young people here."

Together Uncle Edwin and Aunt Sally approached the door. Aunt Sally was
wiping her eyes on her apron; Uncle Edwin walked with bent head as
though the name of Gaumer was disgraced forever. Them the squire
followed to the door, and outside, wishing to be certain that no curious
Millerstonians lingered. With his hand on the outer knob, he closed the
door while he promised to see Edwin later in the evening. Edwin stopped
to express his horror at this strange situation; their conversation
consumed a few seconds at least.

Behind the closed door Alvin approached Katy as she stood by the
squire's desk, numb, smitten, unable to raise her head.

"Katy," said he, softly, "I do not care if you have worked out, Katy.
That is less than nothing to me. I am never going to marry that other
one. She is no good. I will marry you, Katy. I did not know"--Alvin's
voice shook--"I did not know till this time how I love you, Katy."

At this point Alvin laid his hand upon Katy's arm and applied a tender
pressure.

Then, suddenly, furiously, Alvin was flung aside, back against the sharp
point of the squire's desk. Young women do not keep house in the
Pennsylvania German fashion, with sweeping and scrubbing and beating of
carpets, without developing considerable muscular power. Terrified,
bruised by contact with the sharp corner of the desk, Alvin lifted hands
to defend himself from Katy, whose worth he had learned so suddenly to
value.

Katy, however, stayed to punish him no further. Instead, she rushed
across the room and threw herself into the arms of the squire. She spoke
shrilly, she sobbed and cried.

"Send him away and let me talk to you alone! I must talk to you! Oh,
please send him away!"

Alvin needed no orders. He read in the squire's expression permission to
depart, and he slipped sidewise out the door, making himself as small as
possible for the passage.

When the door had closed behind him, the squire put Katy into a corner
of the sofa in his back office and sat down beside her.

"Now, Katy, begin."

With tears and hysterical laughter, Katy began her story.

"I thought I was so fine and powerful when I helped him. I thought I was
rich with my two hundred dollars and that I could do anything. I thought
he had no chance and I would help him. I pitied him because he had a bad
name from his father. The worst thing was I liked him. Oh, dear! Oh,
dear!"

The squire's frown grew blacker and blacker.

"He took the money and never paid any of it back, and then stole this
from you yet! Money you were saving to pay me! Money you had borrowed
for him! Oh, Katy, Katy!" Then, suddenly, the squire laughed. "Katy,
dear, I bought a gold brick like this once. It wasn't just like this,
but it cost me much more. We've got to learn, all of us! Oh, you poor
soul! And my gold brick was not bought for the sake of charity, Katy!"
The squire laughed and laughed and Katy cried and cried as her head
rested upon the broad shoulder which had been offered to her earlier.
"Now, Katy, it is late and I will take you home."

The squire put Katy's scarlet shawl about her and took her by the arm,
and together they went up the misty street. At the Hartmans' gate the
squire left his companion. Then, with a quicker stride he sought the
house of Alvin Koehler.



                              CHAPTER XVII

                   ALVIN DOES PENANCE AND IS SHRIVEN


THE squire stayed for fifteen minutes with Alvin Koehler; when he left,
Alvin was limp; he sat in his little house and wept. Hitherto in his
life Alvin had had grave difficulties; he had been unhappy in his
poverty; he had been embarrassed by the queerness of his father; he had
been disturbed when he feared that Katy Gaumer would not keep her
promise and help him go to school; he had been terrified by the behavior
of the Millerstown children and by the overshadowing cloud of his unpaid
bills.

But now a new emotion filled his heart and weighed down his spirit. He
was now, for the first time, bitterly ashamed. He had told the squire
all his misery; his debt to the storekeeper, to the landlord, to Sarah
Ann, to Katy, to the coal dealer, to the jeweler, to the tailor. He had
a notion that in thus confessing he was doing penance. He had also a
vain and foolish hope that the squire might offer to help him.

"I am turned inside out," he mourned when the squire had gone. "There is
nothing to me any more."

It was on Friday that Alvin was caught, wire in hand, investigating the
contents of Katy's putlock bank. That night he did not sleep. He sat by
his table, pencil in hand, contemplating the problem which confronted
him and trying to work out a sum in proportion. If he owed Katy two
hundred and fifty dollars, and Sarah Ann Mohr twenty dollars, and the
landlord fifty-eight dollars, and the coal dealer fifteen dollars, and
the tailor thirty dollars, how much of his next month's salary should
justly go to each--provided, of course, that he were not summarily
dismissed from his position and thus deprived of his salary? Over the
difficult problem he fell asleep toward morning.

He did not go to Sarah Ann's for breakfast, a fact which caused Sarah
Ann no uneasiness, as he usually took advantage of the Saturday holiday
to sleep late and thus make a good recovery from the exhaustion
following his arduous association with the Millerstown children.
Besides, another subject had this morning the whole of Sarah Ann's
attention and the attention of Millerstown. Cassie Hartman had died
suddenly in the night.

Nor did Alvin go to Sarah Ann's for dinner, but supported life with some
crackers and apples which were in his house. It seemed to him that the
passers-by looked curiously at his dwelling; he was certain that the
story of his difficulties had spread over Millerstown. Who could ever
have dreamed that Katy would treat him so shabbily?

Late in the afternoon there came a ponderous step along his board walk
and a knock at the door. Terrified, Alvin sat still until the rap was
repeated, then he opened the door a tiny crack. Without stood a no more
terrifying person than Sarah Ann.

At sight of Sarah Ann, however, Alvin trembled. Sarah Ann had again
reminded him, gently but with firmness, that her Thank Offering was long
overdue.

"I made it up out of the money I keep for regular collections, Alvin,"
Sarah Ann had explained. "I keep that money in a little can. But now
that little can is empty. I have nothing for General Fund."

"I cannot pay you." Thus Alvin greeted her miserably through an
inch-wide crack. "I will try to pay you sometime, Sarah Ann, but I
cannot pay you now."

"I am not here for pay," protested Sarah Ann, weeping. "It is not a day
for collecting money in Millerstown. Poor Cassie is gone."

"Cassie?" repeated Alvin, vacantly. So engrossed was Alvin with his own
joys in time of joy, and with his own sorrows in time of sorrow, that
persons not immediately associated with him disappeared entirely from
the circle of his consciousness.

"Why, yes, Cassie Hartman, David's mom. David is now an orphan."

Alvin shook his head solemnly at this intelligence, remembering that he
was practically an orphan, too. Beyond that he did not consider the
situation. He felt no satisfaction at the Hartmans' misfortunes; he had
never cherished any animosity toward them, but only a vague envy of
their worldly possessions.

"I am here now to see why you do not come to your dinner," went on Sarah
Ann. "The folks say you are not going to get married, after all, Alvin.
Is it so, Alvin? I thought you were sick. I had Sauerkraut for dinner,
but still you did not come. I can heat it for supper. Ach, there is
nothing but trouble in this world!"

Alvin desired to tell Sarah Ann all his woes. Like the Ancient Mariner,
he would find relief in recounting the story of his griefs. But he was
now too weak to do anything but select a hat from the row hanging behind
the door. So low was he in his mind that he chose the shabbiest one of
all. Then he followed Sarah Ann down the street. It seemed to him that
there were many inches between the front of his body and his vest. He
was certain that he had lost many pounds, and he thought that perhaps he
would waste away. That, he decided gloomily, would be one solution of
his troubles.

Once fed, Alvin felt his spirits rise. There was that in Sarah Ann's
substantial victuals which was calculated to put heart into a man, there
was tonic in her urging, tearful though it was.

"Ach, a little pie, Alvin, if it is you good enough! It is not to-day's
pie, but yesterday's pie, but it is not yet soft. Some pies get softer
than others quicker. Ach, a little rusk, too, Alvin! It stood round long
enough already. Take jelly for on it, Alvin. Rusk is not good without a
spread. It is too dry."

When Alvin had finished the first course, he no longer felt physically
shrunken; when he had finished the second, he had ceased entirely to be
conscious of the deadly twist of Bevy's grasp upon his ear. Of Katy and
the squire no amount of food could hearten him to think.

But when he had finished his supper and had thanked Sarah Ann and had
shut himself out of her pleasant kitchen into a cold damp night, he
remembered that he had no place to go. On other Saturdays he had sought
the home of Bessie in the county seat, but he could not go there now.

"I have no father and no mother and no friends," mourned Alvin to
himself. "I am an outcast. I must go back to my cold house."

The wind made the limbs of the trees creak above his head; loose bricks
sank sloppily under his feet, splashing his ankles; his heart sank lower
and lower. The street lamps burned dimly; as most of the citizens of
Millerstown sat in the kitchens, the fronts of their houses were dark
and inhospitable. For his own lamp at home he had no oil and no money to
buy oil. But home he must go. He saw ahead of him two men, one tall and
young, the other broader of shoulder, and not so tall. He recognized
them as the squire and David Hartman; he realized dully that David had
just come home to his empty house, but his thought accompanied the two
men no farther than the next street lamp.

There, mental as well as physical light flashed into Alvin's gloom. The
Improved New Mennonites were in the midst of a series of meetings; into
the misty darkness of the street their light shone pleasantly, into the
lonely quiet their song poured cheerfully. Here was an invitation.

At once Alvin turned his steps toward their little church. He remembered
with a thrill, a weak thrill it is true, but none the less a thrill,
Essie's pretty face, her curly hair, her friendly glance. To a church
every one was welcome. He went in and sat down humbly in the last
pew,--no high seat for Alvin in his present state of mind! He saw in the
front row no little, round head of Bevy Schnepp with its tight knot of
hair at the back. Involuntarily and with great relief Alvin lifted a
hand to his own head.

The preacher either directed his sermon toward Alvin, or else happened
accidentally upon a text applicable to that young gentleman's condition.
He reproved those whose hearts were set on worldly possessions, and
Alvin groaned within himself. Doorknobs were a sign of pride--Alvin had
himself set a glittering knob upon the jamb of his front door. Organs in
the parlor were a snare--Alvin had long since discussed the purchase of
a piano with a piano dealer. Fine clothes spelled perdition.

Poor Alvin began to wish himself out upon the dark street. If what the
preacher said were true, then he was lost. It is hard to say what
Alvin's views of the preacher's discourse would have been if he could
have continued to call his own his dear belongings. Now that they were
to be taken from him, he felt that it was wrong ever to have had them.

Then, in the depths to which he sank, Alvin longed again more
desperately than ever to make confession and to be absolved. He could
not endure another listener so hard-hearted as the squire; he craved a
sympathetic ear, a tender eye,--a feminine eye and ear, in short.

The sermon ended, pretty Essie went to the organ. Facing the audience
she looked at each one, sighing a little at the dullness of life. Then
Essie's lovely eyes brightened. Alvin Koehler was here! Alvin's gaze was
upon her; Alvin, in spite of the unusual disarray of his clothes, was
still handsome; his eyes responded to her glance before she looked down
at her music. During the course of the hymn Essie looked at him again;
gradually her eyes narrowed; into them came a startled expression. She
could see the change in his appearance; his jauntiness was gone; he was
no longer the accepted lover. Into Essie's eyes came an intent
expression like that which brightens the eyes of a hunter as he sees the
approach of his game. Alvin was not himself; he was in trouble.
Unconsciously Essie quickened the time of her hymn so that it changed
from a dirge, intended to soften the hearts of the impenitent, to a gay,
triumphant measure. Fortunately, the hymn was already near its end;
there was no chance for the preacher to observe the quickening of the
tune.

Waiting outside the door, Alvin joined Essie as she came from the
church. Her father lingered within to talk to some of his members; there
was opportunity for long and earnest discourse as Alvin walked by the
side of Essie.

"You see how it was," said Alvin from time to time. Or, "That was why I
did it!"

"She made me get everything ready," complained Alvin, bitterly. "Then,
when I had gone to all this expense and was in debt to it yet, she
wouldn't have me, and I had used my salary ahead, and I--I took a little
money to help myself out. It was money I might have had if I had asked.
But I didn't like to ask. It was in a way, you might say, mine. But I
meant to put it back, Essie!"

Wisely Alvin entered into no further particulars, nor did he tell the
name of the person from whom he had taken the money. Somehow Essie got
the impression that it was the squire. That impression Essie was allowed
to keep.

"Then you have sin on your mind." Thus with glowing cheeks Essie
diagnosed Alvin's case. In reality Alvin had no sin, but the fear of
punishment on his mind.

"Yes," he said.

Essie's cheeks glowed more brightly; she clasped her hands. She was not
only curing the invalid, she was binding him to his physician forever.

"You must make everything right," she declared. "Everything down to the
last penny. Then you will have peace, Alvin, and not before. You must go
back to your childhood. Can you remember anything else you did?"

"I took cherries from trees already," confessed Alvin. "I put once
five cents in the church collection and took six cents change out. I
took often the cakes that Bevy Schnepp baked and put in a hole
for--for"--here Alvin had the grace to gulp mightily--"for other
children. Ach, Essie!" Alvin was terrified by the stern gaze bent upon
him. He had expected to take her hand, to lay his head on her shoulder,
to touch her soft cheek. It was a long time, or it seemed a long time,
since Alvin had touched a soft cheek. But instead of soothing him, Essie
grew each moment colder and more distant. "Don't turn away from me! I
will do everything you say. What shall I do?"

"You must make all these things right," commanded the young judge. "That
is the only way."

"Dare I, then, come to see you, Essie? You will not turn me off?"

"You must make it right with all these people," insisted Essie again.
She had taken Alvin into the little sitting-room of her father's house.
She rose now and moved to the back of her chair as though to put a
barrier between herself and Alvin.

Alvin went home and sat him down at his table. The March wind had begun
to blow again; Alvin's fire was pitifully small; he anticipated the
dreary Sunday with horror.

"Oh, my soul!" wailed poor Alvin. "Oh, my soul!"

Once more he set himself to work with paper and pencil. There was Sarah
Ann--he had often picked raspberries as he passed along her fence, but
Sarah Ann would willingly forgive him. It would be ridiculous even to
ask Sarah Ann. Mom Fackenthal would forgive him also for the cherries he
had taken. There was Bevy--to banish this gnawing misery from his heart
he could approach even Bevy.

When he had determined upon a course of action, he went to bed and slept
soundly. The course of action, it must be confessed, would seem very
strange to a person of common sense. But Alvin did not have common
sense.

In the morning he slept late; in the evening he went to the church of
the Improved New Mennonites. He would walk home with Essie, he would
talk over his plans with her. Even a medical clinic involving the
shedding of blood would not have been altogether unpleasant to Alvin if
he could have been the subject.

But Essie would scarcely speak to him. She wore under her chin a blue
bow, about as much of a decoration as her principles would allow, and
she was an alluring spectacle. When Alvin stepped to her side, she asked
him a single question, her eyes narrowing again like a fisherman's.

"Have you made everything right?"

"This was Sunday!" Alvin reminded her.

Essie made no friendly motion, but shook her head solemnly and went on
alone.

In the morning before school Alvin visited Mom Fackenthal.

"Cherries!" said that pleasant old lady. "It is not time yet for
cherries. You want to pay for cherries?" Mom Fackenthal was slightly
deaf. "You don't owe me anything for cherries. Cherries that you
_stole_? When did you steal cherries? When you were little! Humbug! Not
a cent, Alvin. Keep your money. Why, all boys take cherries, that is why
there are so many. Are you _crazy_, Alvin?"

With Sarah Ann the result of his interview was the same.

"You took my raspberries, you say? Why, I planted those raspberries near
the fence for the children. You were welcome to them, Alvin."

But the way of peace was not always so easy.

"What!" roared Bevy, furious because he dared to approach her. "You
stole cakes off of me! I bet you did, Alvin. You want to pay me? Nothing
of the kind. You pay Katy what you owe her. Get out of here!"

Threatened with the broom, Alvin stood his ground bravely. As a matter
of fact, Bevy had been strictly charged by the squire to let no word of
what had happened escape her. But there was no reason why she should not
give Alvin a piece of her mind.

"You are good-for-nothing, Alvin. I should think you would be ashamed of
yourself. I should think you would go and hide!"

Then upon the angry fire of Bevy's rage, Alvin undertook to pour the
water of a pleasant announcement.

"I am going to join your church, Bevy."

"Nonsense!" shrieked Bevy. "Humbug! They wouldn't have you!"

Alvin grew maudlin in his humility.

"I wish you would like me a little, Bevy."

"The farther away you are the better I like you," shrieked Bevy like a
fury.

The news of Alvin's strange seeking for forgiveness followed close upon
the rumor that the lady of his choice had rejected him. Millerstown
looked at him with interest and pity. Even the landlord and the coal
dealer felt a slight softening of the heart. The children in school were
obedient for the first time in months.

But there still remained several persons for Alvin to see. He had as yet
not approached the coal dealer and the landlord. Nor had he yet
interviewed his chief debtor. Her Alvin did not dare to visit. Nor did
he wish to approach the landlord and the coal dealer until he had a
little money. But until things were made right, Essie would have none of
him. Monday evening Alvin devoted to thought. On Tuesday evening he paid
a mysterious visit to the editor of the Millerstown "Star." On Wednesday
evening he attended the prayer-meeting of the Improved New Mennonites.
He was a little late because he had stopped at the post-office. From his
pocket protruded a newspaper.

Without asking permission, he joined Essie on the homeward way; without
invitation he followed her into the house. He drew the paper from his
pocket and offered it to Essie. No one but an Improved New Mennonite or
an acolyte of the Improved New Mennonites could have manufactured so
remarkable a document.

"What is it?" said Essie as she took the paper.

"There," answered Alvin, pointing.

Essie's eyes followed his finger down the first column of the first
page. Sarah Ann Mohr would find this week more food for thought and
discussion in the Millerstown local news than in the account of men
turning into lions.

"If I have done injury to any one," read Essie, "I ask that they forgive
me. ALVIN KOEHLER."

Essie's eyes did not lift from the page for a long time. When they did,
they had ceased to burn. Since her first advent into Millerstown, Essie
had longed for a possession which she considered precious. Now, at last,
it was hers. Now, at last, also was there hope for Alvin.



                             CHAPTER XVIII

                            A SILVER CHALICE


WITH knees trembling and lips quivering, Katy hastened across the
Hartman lawn. She was still smarting too hotly from the shock of her
loss and the shame of discovery to realize how great a burden had been
lifted from her shoulders by the mere sharing of her secret. Poor Alvin
seemed meaner than he was, her association with him criminal, herself
imbecilic. She remembered his touch with loathing, his beseeching gaze
with disgust. She thought of his father, with his queer, glancing eyes,
his muttering, his praying. It was no wonder that David Hartman despised
them. She saw herself through David's scornful eyes; she remembered the
outrageous struggle at the Sheep Stable; she could have sunk through the
ground in her distress.

But David had been avenged. Against her new madness of affection Katy
was still struggling. By night she dreamed of David, by day she thought
of David. Her care of Cassie, her sweeping and cleaning of the great
house, had become labors of love.

"I do not think even any more of education," mourned Katy in her alarm.
"I am at last quite crazy."

She hurried now into the Hartman kitchen, alarmed because she had been
so long away. Cassie grew daily worse, a little less able to make the
journey from her bed to the settle in the kitchen, a little more
preoccupied, a little more silent. Katy's attentions troubled her, she
did not like to have a hand laid upon her shoulder or an arm thrown
round her. Once, when she had insisted upon going about the house, she
had fainted, and Katy had sent in terror for the doctor, and Cassie had
been put to bed in her little room. When she had recovered in a measure,
she told Katy where she would find in the drawers of one of the great
bureaus certain clothes for her laying away. It was not a cheerful
position which Katy held!

To-day Cassie had stayed in her bed, her cheek on her hand, her eyes
closed. Often she lay thus for hours. She did not seem to think, often
she did not seem to breathe. The atrophy of Cassie's mind and heart were
almost complete.

Katy, opening the door softly, so as not to rouse Cassie if she slept,
found the kitchen as she had left it, dark and silent and warm. She did
not stop to take off the scarlet shawl which she had worn when she went
to satisfy herself that her hoard was still in the putlock hole, but
climbed at once the steep, narrow stairway which led to the rooms above.
Her body ached for rest, but there was still bread to be set and the
fire to be fixed for the night. There awaited Katy, also, a more
difficult experience than these.

Upstairs, also, all was dark and quiet. Katy tiptoed across the hall to
look in upon the invalid. With hands resting on the sides of the door,
she peered in. She could see the outlines of the bureau and the narrow
bed; she thought that she heard the even, regular breathing of the
sleeper, and she was about to turn and go down the steps. Then a
startling suspicion halted her. The bedcovers seemed to hang straight
and even to the floor, the pillows to stand stiffly against the
headboard; there was, after all, it seemed suddenly to Katy, no sound of
breathing. For an instant she clung to the door frame, her back to the
room, then she turned slowly and compelled herself to take the few short
steps to the bed. There she felt about with her hands. The covers were
smooth; instead of the hand or cheek of Cassie Hartman, she touched the
starched ruffles of a fresh pillowcase.

"Cassie!" cried Katy in wild alarm.

There was no answer. Striving to make her voice sound louder, but only
succeeding in uttering a fainter whisper, Katy cried again.

"Cassie! Where are you?"

Still there was no answer.

Frantically Katy fumbled about for a match. The room was in order, a
smooth towel covered the bureau, the bed was freshly made as though for
a stranger. Katy stared stupidly about her until the match burned her
fingers and she was left in the darkness which seemed to close in upon
her and smother her. The great house with its tremendous length and
breadth, its many rooms, their blackness, the dark closets in the eaves
into which one could accidentally shut one's self and die--the great
house took shape about her, dim, mysterious, terrible. Strange forms
seemed to be here in the room crowding upon her. Though she was aware
that it threatened her, and though she tried desperately not to yield it
entrance to her consciousness, the horrible recollection of John
Hartman's face as he sat in his buggy on the mountain road, of the still
whiteness of the faces of her own dead, crept slowly upon her. Must she
go through this house searching for her mistress? She dared not go for
aid, when Cassie might be lying in some corner helpless or dying. Cassie
could scarcely get out of her bed alone. Where had she gone? Who had
made up this bed?

Then, in time to save her reason, Katy heard a faint voice addressing
her from a distant corner of the great house.

"Katy!"

Katy moved slowly along the dark hall.

"Ach, where are you?"

"Here," answered the faint voice.

Supporting herself against the wall, Katy crept along. At the end a door
opened into the house proper, that seldom visited temple to the gods of
order and cleanliness. The door now stood open.

"Are you sick?" gasped Katy. "Where are you? Did you fall?"

"No," came the slow answer. "I am here. You can make a light."

Falteringly Katy obeyed. On a bracket at the end of the hall hung a
lamp; this she lighted with a great clattering of globe against chimney.
Then, lifting the lamp, she carried it into the room from which the
voice proceeded. Her scarlet shawl was still about her, her hair was
disorderly from the squire's embrace, her eyes were wild and startled.
She was a strange contrast to the room in which she stood.

Here was the great high bed with its carved posts, each terminating in a
pineapple; here the interesting steps on which one mounted to the broad
plateau of repose; here the fine curtains and the rich carpet,--all as
Katy had left them after the last careful sweeping and dusting and
polishing. But the bed had been disturbed; in it lay the mistress of the
house, white and sick, but full of satisfaction over having accomplished
her pitiful purpose.

Katy's wild eyes questioned her.

"It was time for me to come," announced Cassie, solemnly.

"It was time for you to come!" repeated Katy. "What do you mean?"

"My time has come," explained Cassie. "You are to go for the preacher."

Katy clasped her hands across her breast. She remembered now the bureau
in which the white underclothes and the black dress were kept. She began
to cry.

"Oh, no! I will go for the doctor! You shouldn't have done this! You
have made yourself worse! I will get you the medicine the doctor gave
you, then I will run for him."

"You will go for the preacher," directed Cassie, wearily. "My time has
come."

Katy looked wildly about her, but found no help either in the thick
carpet or the heavy hangings. She was afraid to go, yet she did not dare
to stay. Cassie sank a little deeper into her pillows, the shadows under
her eyes seemed to darken, the covers moved with her throbbing heart.

"Go!" she commanded thickly.

Katy ran down the steps through the kitchen and out to the gate. The
preacher lived nearer than the doctor; a single knock and his window was
lifted.

"Cassie Hartman must see you!" cried Katy. "She is very low. Bring the
doctor and come quickly."

Without staying to hear whether there were any questions to be answered,
Katy flew back into the dark kitchen and up the narrow stairs. Cassie
lay with her eyes closed, her hands folded across her breast.

"The front door should be opened, and there should be a light," she
gasped.

"I cannot leave you!"

"Go!" said Cassie.

Again Katy flew to obey. David should be sent for; must she remind them
that David should be sent for? It seemed to Katy that any observer could
see her obsession in her face.

"You know where my things are, Katy," whispered Cassie.

"Yes, I know! But you are not going to die!"

"My time has come," said Mrs. Hartman. "Everything is attended to and
written out in the desk. You can tell the squire."

"I will," faltered Katy, standing between the tall pillars at the foot
of the bed. She remembered the squire's face as he came to tell her
grandmother that Grandfather Gaumer was dead; she thought of David and
David's face when he should be told. David would be alone in the world;
surely, though he had all its riches, he would care! Surely his mother
had a message for him. The preacher was a newcomer; he did not know
David; he should give him no message from his mother! And Dr. Benner
should give him no message from his mother. Katy clasped her hands a
little more closely and looked down upon Cassie.

"And David?"

Cassie's eyelids quivered, but she made no reply.

"Some one must send for David!"

When Cassie still made no answer, Katy came round the corner of the bed
and stood by the pillow.

"Suppose"--Katy stammered and faltered--"suppose--shall anything be said
to David if--if--"

"David will find everything ready," said Cassie, wearily. "He will find
everything in order."

Katy leaned over the pillow. Cassie could not know what it was to die,
to go away forever; Cassie could not know how one wept and mourned when
those whom one loved had died; could not know how one remembered every
word, cherished every caress. David had no one else, and David was
young; David could not be so hard of heart as he seemed or Cassie so
stony. There was hardly a person in Millerstown who would have ventured
to oppose Cassie, or to persuade her against her will. But all the
characteristics of Katy's youth had not vanished; still, seeing a goal,
she moved toward it, disregarding obstacles. It seemed to her that she
heard the gate swing open and shut, heard the sound of voices, of rapid
footsteps. The preacher and the doctor were coming, and probably other
Millerstonians would come with them. She took Cassie by the hand and was
terrified by its chill.

"Do you not leave your love for David?" she asked, crying.

Cassie looked up at her with no other expression than slight
astonishment, as though Katy's language were strange. Cassie loved
nothing that could turn and rend her. John had turned and had rent her,
but in David's case she had had a care for herself, from misery there
she had sternly and bravely defended herself. This bright-eyed Katy with
her light step and her pretty ways had disturbed her, had set her to
dreaming at night of a house filled with children, of growing boys and
girls who would have loved their mother and cherished her.

And here this same Katy hung above her, clung to her, would not, thought
poor Cassie, would not let her die as she had planned! She did not know
that hardness of heart was in her a more terrible hurt than any offense
which love could have brought. In her weakness she felt a sudden quiver
of life in that heart of stone; it seemed as though it melted to water.

But she would not yield. She tried to draw her hand away from the grasp
which held it; she closed her eyes; she remembered how she had defended
herself against grief. But she could not get her weak hand away, could
not shut out the sound of Katy's voice.

"What shall I tell David? Let me tell David something from his mother.
Why, David loves you! David will grieve for you! Oh, please!" She lifted
Mrs. Hartman's white hand and held it against her cheek, as though she
would compel a blessing. "Oh, please let me tell David something!"

But no word was spoken, no tears stole out from under the closed lids.
The lids quivered, opened and closed; beyond that slight motion there
was nothing. Already the preacher and the doctor were ascending the
steps. To both the serious condition of the invalid was evident. The
doctor told Katy in his dictatorial way that she should not have allowed
Mrs. Hartman to leave her bed. The doctor always spoke to Katy with
irritation, as though he could not quite escape the recollection of
promises made and forgotten.

Cassie lay quietly with her hands clasped once more on her breast. Her
eyes were open now; she spoke clearly in a weak voice, the self-control,
fostered through years, serving her still. She signified that she wished
her pastor to give her the communion, for which purpose he had brought
with him his silver flask and chalice and paten. These he spread out on
the little table at the head of Cassie's bed.

On the other side of the bed stood Katy, with wide, tearful eyes and
white cheeks. The scene was almost too solemn for endurance; the great
catafalque of a bed with its white valances and draperies, the dark
shadows in the corners of the room, the deep silence of the night, the
brightly illuminated, earnest faces of the doctor and the preacher. But
all seemed to make Katy's eyes more clear to see, her heart more keen to
remember. Her thoughts went back over all the solemn services she had
witnessed, the watch-night services of her childhood, the communion
services, the hour of her grandmother's passing. She remembered the
clear nights when she had run through the snow with Whiskey and had been
at once so unhappy and so happy. How foolish to be unhappy then when she
had everything! She remembered even that morning, long, long ago, when
John Hartman had frightened her. Surely, as her grandmother said, she
must have imagined that rage! She was nothing to John Hartman.

The minister had poured the wine from the flask into the chalice, and
had broken the bread. He lifted the chalice and the light flashed from
its bright surface.

"Drink ye all of it," he began gravely in his deep voice.

Then Katy heard no more. She put her arm tightly round the tall post of
the bed and clung and clung to it as though a great creature or a great
wave threatened to drag her from her feet. She looked far away across
the wide bed, through the walls of the great house, over the village and
the fields to the church on the hill. She was a child again in a red
dress, and she had run unsteadily out the brick walk from her
grandmother's kitchen door to the gate, out to the blessed, free,
forbidden open road. She had talked to herself happily; she had stopped
to pull leaves which still lingered on the Virginia creeper vines on the
fences.

Presently, when she had trotted past the first field, the open door of
the church had attracted her. She had been taken to church a few times;
she remembered the singing--even that early had the strange performance
of Henny Wenner fascinated her; she now turned her steps toward the
delightful place. In the church an interesting man was at work with a
little trowel and beautiful soft mortar, and she had watched him until
she had grown sleepy, whereupon, with that feeling of possession in all
the world which had been hers so keenly in her childhood, she had laid
herself down on the soft cushion of a pew.

When she woke the interesting little man with his trowel was no longer
in the church. Another man had taken his place before the hole in the
church wall, and spying her suddenly had driven her out with anger. She
had not thought of it for years; they had persuaded her that she had
dreamed it; had told her that if John Hartman had ever spoken to her
sharply, it was only to send her home where she belonged, that he could
have against her no unkindly feeling.

But now it came back, strangely illumined. John Hartman had driven her
away angrily, and John Hartman had held in his hand a silver cup, the
shape of the one which the preacher held to Cassie's pale lips, but
larger, handsomer. Upon it the sun had flashed as the lamplight flashed
now upon this smaller cup.

At first Katy only remembered vaguely that there had been trouble about
the communion service, that it had disappeared, that dishonest Alvin's
dishonest and crazy father had taken it. The thought of Alvin brought to
her mind a new set of sensations, confusing her.

"He held it in his hand," whispered Katy to herself. "Then he pushed it
into the hole, quickly. I saw him do it!"

She leaned her head against the tall bedpost, and did not hear the
command of the doctor to bring water.

"Katy!" said he, again, a little more loudly.

Still Katy did not stir. The preacher looked up also, and his communion
service now over, came quickly with an alarmed glance at Katy round the
great bed and took her by the arm. Her muscles were stiff; she had only
one conscious thought--to cling to the thing nearest to her. The
minister unclasped her hand and half carrying her, half leading her,
took her down to the kitchen and laid her upon the settle. When he had
taken the water to the doctor, he came back, to find Katy sitting up and
looking about her in a dazed fashion.

"You had better lie down," bade the preacher.

Katy shook her head. "I cannot lie down."

"This has been too much for you," went on the preacher kindly. "My wife
is coming now to stay. You cannot do anything more for poor Mrs.
Hartman. If I were you I would go home. When the rest come I will walk
down the street with you."

Katy looked at him with somber eyes and did not move.

"This house is no place for you, Katy."

Katy shivered; then she got to her feet. She remembered her aching
desire to console David, her vague plans; she saw again the shining,
silver chalice, the startled, terrified face of David's father as she
tugged at his coat.

"No," agreed Katy with a stiff tongue. "You have right. This house is no
place for me."



                              CHAPTER XIX

              THE SQUIRE AND DAVID TAKE A JOURNEY BY NIGHT


ON Saturday evening David returned to Millerstown and for the second
time in his life entered his father's house--his house now--by the front
door. There were friendly lights here and there; the squire, who had met
him at the train, slipped a kindly hand under his arm as they ascended
the steps and crossed the porch. To the squire the Hartmans were queer,
unhuman. But David looked worn and miserable; perhaps they suffered more
than one thought. In his first confusion after the disappearance of the
communion service, John Hartman had behaved so strangely toward his old
friend that the squire had avoided him as a burnt child avoids the fire.
But that was long ago, and here was this boy come home to his mother's
funeral. The squire patted David's shoulder as they entered the door.

David glanced with a shiver toward the room upon the left where he had
caught the first glimpse of the bed upon which his father lay. But the
door was closed; Cassie had not been moved from the catafalque upon
which she died.

From the dim end of the long hall, a short figure advanced to meet the
two men. It was not Katy, who had resigned her place, but Bevy, who had
come to stay until the funeral was over. Bevy shook hands with David
solemnly, looking up at him with awe, as the owner of farms and orchards
and this great house and unreckoned bank stock. She had spread his
supper in the kitchen, and the squire sat with him while he ate. Then
the two men went upstairs together.

In Cassie's room a light burned faintly. The squire turned it higher and
then looked at David.

"Shall I go down, David?"

"No," said David.

The squire crossed the room slowly and laid back the cover from Cassie's
face; then both men stood still, looking first at the figure on the bed,
then at each other. Cassie had always been beautiful, but now an
unearthly loveliness lighted her face. Her dark hair was braided high on
her head; her broad forehead with its beautifully arched brows seemed to
shed an actual radiance. David had never observed his mother's beauty,
but now, in the last few months, he had wakened to aspects to which he
had been blind. He had seen beautiful women; he could compare them with
his mother as she lay before him. He looked at her hands, still shapely
in spite of the hard toil of her life, folded now across her quiet
breast; he noted the shape of her forehead; he saw the smile with which
she seemed to be contemplating some secret and lovely thing.

Upon the squire the sight of Cassie made a deep impression. Tears came
into his eyes, and he shook his head as though before him lay an
unfathomable mystery. He felt about her as he might have felt about some
young person cut off in youth. Here was extraordinary promise, here was
pitiful blight. The squire had observed human nature in many unusual and
pathetic situations, here was the most pathetic of all. The Hartmans
could not be understood.

Then the squire, glancing at David, went out and closed the door and
left him with his mother.

In dumb confusion, David stood by the great bed. More vaguely, the
squire's puzzle was his also. His mother had had an empty life--it
should not have been empty. He could not understand her, he could not
understand his father. They had put him away from them. The old
resentful, heart-breaking misery came back; he had no people, he had no
one who loved him. Then resentment faded and grief filled him. Like a
lover, refused, rejected, he knelt down beside the great bed.

"Oh, mother!" cried David, again and again. "Oh, mother, mother!" Then
the old, unanswered, unanswerable cry, "Speak to me!"

From the great bed came no sign. David rose presently and laid back the
cover over the smiling lips and turned the light low and went down to
join the squire. Composedly he made plans with him for the funeral. The
squire announced that he and Bevy had come to take up their abode unless
David wished to be alone. The squire looked at David, startled. In the
last year David had grown more than ever like his parents; he had his
mother's features and his father's deep gray eyes and thickly curling
hair.

"When you are through your school, you must settle down in Millerstown,"
said the squire. "There ought to be little folks here in this house."

David's heart leaped, then sank back to its place. He had cured himself
of Katy Gaumer; such flashes were only meaningless recollections of past
habit.

"I am thinking of studying law," he told the squire. "That will keep me
in school three years more. And then I couldn't practice law in
Millerstown."

"The Hartmans are not lawyers," said the squire. "The Hartmans are
farmers. You would have plenty to keep you busy, David."

If old habit caused David to look for Katy Gaumer, David's eyes were not
gratified by what they sought. Neither before his mother's funeral nor
afterward did she appear. Bevy had removed her few belongings from
David's room before he returned; there remained in the Hartman house no
evidence of her presence. Bevy said that Katy was tired, that she lay
all day on the settle in her uncle's kitchen. Bevy longed to pour out to
David an account of Katy's treatment at the hands of Alvin Koehler,
prospective church member though he was. But she had been forbidden by
the squire to open her lips on the subject; and, besides, David Hartman,
the heir to all this magnificence, could hardly be expected to take an
interest in one who had demeaned herself to become his mother's servant.
Nevertheless, a wild scheme formed itself in Bevy's mind.

"Sometimes Katy cries," reported Bevy sentimentally to David. "It seems
as though this brought back everything about her gran'mom and
everything. Yesterday she was real sick, but to-day she complains better
again. Katy has had a good deal of trouble in this world."

David frowned. He was going back to college in the morning; his bag was
already packed. Katy had been in the house until the time of his
mother's death; she should have asked him to come to see her. Old habit
tempted him to play once more with fire.

"I would like to see Katy," he said now to Bevy.

"Well!" Bevy faced him with arms akimbo, her little eyes sparkling. "I
will tell Katy that she shall come here once this evening."

"No," answered David, who had got beyond the simple ways of Millerstown.
"Ask her whether I may come to see her this evening."

"Of course, you can come to see her!" cried Bevy. "I will just tell her
you are coming."

But Bevy returned with an astonishing message. Bevy was amazed at Katy's
temerity. She had planned that she would suggest to Edwin's Sally that
she and Edwin go to bed and leave the kitchen to David and Katy.

"She only cried and said you should not come. Sally said I must leave
her alone. She said the squire said and Edwin said that Katy must be
left alone. Katy is not herself."

In June David returned to Millerstown with trunks and boxes to stay for
the summer, at least. Upon his face a fresh record was written. He
looked older, his lips were more firmly set. His last term had been
easy; he had permitted himself holidays; he had visited New York, had
seen great ships, had climbed great buildings, had learned, or thought
that he had learned, that money can buy anything in the world. He had
talked for defiance' sake with the pretty girl who had told him so
sweetly long ago that the college town was glad of his presence. The
pretty girl smiled upon him even more sweetly; it was clear to David's
eyes that his blunder was nothing to her. He talked to other girls; it
was equally clear that they were glad to forget any blunders of the
past. He had not yet made up his mind what he would do with this great
world which he could buy. Its evil was as plain to him as its good, but
he meant to have all of it. It was as though David gathered together the
pipe and cards flung into the tree-tops from the Sheep Stable.

It was late in the afternoon when he arrived in Millerstown. Main Street
lay quiet and golden in the sunshine. It was supper time and the
Millerstonians were indoors. Few persons saw him come, and those few
stood in too great awe of him to invite him to their houses. He met Katy
Gaumer as he turned the corner sharply, and Katy gasped and looked at
him somberly, standing still in a strange way to let him pass. She
answered his greeting without lifting her head. Old habit made David
grit his teeth.

Upon her doorstep sat the little Improved New Mennonite, her supper
finished. She was prettier than ever. By nature a manager, she had
reduced Alvin's financial and other troubles to their simplest terms,
and there was now hope of a happy issue from them. Alvin himself, though
at peace, was not exactly happy. He had been held so diligently to his
work, he had been compelled to dress so plainly that he was much
depressed in spirit. Red neckties were now anathema; masculine adherents
of the sect of the Improved New Mennonites, indeed, abjured neckties
altogether, and Alvin feared that the black one to which he was reduced
would presently also be taken from him. In her practical way Essie had
long since decided that the rented house in the village could not be
considered as an abode, but that the little house on the mountain-side
must be returned to.

To the side of the little Mennonite came David when he had opened the
windows of his house. The place was desolate. The baffling sense of his
mother's presence, even the consciousness of his father's, so long past,
were intolerable. He would not endure this discomfort. He was young,
ought to have happiness, would have it. Essie Hill was lovely to look
at, she admired him, she was a woman; he would go and talk to Essie. He
wished that he had brought her a present, but he could order one for
her. If he stayed in Millerstown this summer Essie would be a pleasant
diversion.

From the doorstep Essie looked up at him. Then, as he prepared to sit
down beside her, she drew away, blushing primly.

"I am going to be married," said she. "I think I ought to tell you."

David grew suddenly pale. If a pigeon had turned from his caress to
attack him with talons, if a board from his walk had arisen to smite
him, he could not have been more astounded.

"To whom?" said he.

"I am going to marry Alvin."

"Alvin who?" asked David, bewildered.

"Alvin Koehler."

Then was David's pride wounded! He wished Essie well with a steady
voice, however, and went on to the post-office and back to his house and
sat down on the dark back porch. How he hated them all, these miserable
people, but how he hated most of all Alvin Koehler. It was not, he
remembered, the first time that Alvin had been preferred to him. He
thought again of William, gibbering and praying in the corner of the
almshouse garden. God had put him there. It was a proof that God existed
that he had punished Alvin's father. And Alvin should be punished, too.
David knew of the mortgage among his father's papers. It was only by his
father's grace that the Koehlers had been allowed to live so long on the
mountain-side. That house should continue in their possession no longer.
Other schemes for revenge came into his mind. He sat miserably, his head
buried in his hands as though he were a tramp waiting for food instead
of the heir of the house come home to take possession.

He did not hear the sound of a step on the brick walk. Suddenly, a girl
screamed lightly and he lifted his head, then sprang to his feet.

"What is it?" he cried to the ghostly figure. "Who are you?"

"I didn't mean to scream," said Katy Gaumer. "I didn't see you at first
and I was frightened. I thought it was some stranger."

"It is I," said David, gruffly. Katy's figure had seemed like an
apparition in the dim light; he had been horribly startled.

"I want to see you, David," said Katy, hesitatingly. "I have something I
must talk to you about."

"I'll make a light inside."

"I'd rather talk here," said Katy. "I'll sit here on the step. I don't
believe any one will come."

David offered her a chair. The blood was pounding in his temples, his
wrists felt weak.

Katy had already seated herself on the low step. David sat on a chair on
the porch; he could see her as she propped her elbows on her knees and
made a cup for her chin with her hands. David breathed deeply; old habit
was reasserting itself. Then he saw that Katy was trembling; to his
amazement he heard her crying.

"You aren't well, Katy!"

"Yes," said Katy. "But I have a duty to do. It is hard. It nearly kills
me."

David's thoughts leaped wildly from one possibility to another. What had
she done? What could she have done? Here was Katy in a new light,
weeping, distressed.

"What is it, Katy? Don't be afraid to tell me."

"I am afraid to tell you." Katy turned her white face toward him. "But I
must tell you. It has been on my mind day and night. I have tried to
think of another way, but I cannot."

"But what is it?"

"When I was a little girl and lived with my grandfather and grandmother,
I used to run away, and one day I ran away to the church. Alvin
Koehler's father was there plastering the wall, and I watched him, and
after a while I went to sleep in a pew. When I woke up Alvin's father
was gone, but your father was there, David."

David gave a great start.

"You cannot say anything to me against my father!"

"But I must tell you, David. You will have to decide what is to be done.
I haven't told the squire or any one, but you must know. It has been on
my mind all this time. I can't rest or sleep any more. I went up to your
father and he spoke roughly to me, and then I ran out and went home to
my grandmother. She laughed at me and said your father was only chasing
me home where I ought to be. After a while I believed it. Then Alvin
Koehler's father got up at the funeral and talked about the communion
set and I didn't believe such a thing for a minute, not a minute. Alvin
is not--is not--very honest--and I never believed it."

"You didn't believe what?" said David with a dry throat. "What in this
world are you talking about?"

"I didn't believe for a minute that your father would have anything to
do with taking the communion set. I--"

"He didn't have anything to do with it," cried David. "What nonsense is
this?"

Katy covered her face with her hands. She went on mechanically as though
she had prepared what she had to say.

"Before your mother died and the preacher came to give her communion, he
lifted the cup high in the air and the light shone on it. Then I
remembered everything that I had forgotten, how I had run away to the
church and everything, and I knew that your father had the shining cup
in his hand when I ran up to him. That was what I wanted--the shining
cup. He was there with it in his hand; it is as plain as if it were
now."

"I do not believe you!"

To this Katy returned no answer.

"Why didn't you tell it long ago?"

"I didn't remember this part till that night," said Katy, patiently.
"But I couldn't come and tell you then! I have thought over this and
prayed over it. If I could bear it for you, I would, David. But I
can't."

"I do not believe you," said David. "You imagined it. What could my
father have wanted with the communion service? What could he have done
with it?"

"There was a hole in the wall and he pushed it in quickly."

"A hole in the wall!"

"Alvin's father was mending the wall. There used to be a window there. I
asked the squire about the window. Alvin's father was closing it up."

Into David's mind came a sickening recollection of the wild-eyed,
desperate figure which had risen to shout out the terrible accusation.

"I do not believe it," he said again. "You have always helped Alvin
Koehler. You helped him dishonestly in school. You are trying to help
him now."

Katy's head bent a little lower over her knees.

"He does not even have sense enough to care for you or to be grateful to
you."

Katy rose from her place on the low step. With a gasp she started down
the walk.

"What are you going to do about it?" cried David, hoarsely.

"Nothing," answered Katy.

"You are going now to tell the squire!"

"No," said Katy, "I am not going to tell any one."

"Then why did you come here?" David followed her to the gate. "You have
made trouble, you are always making trouble. If you are not going to do
anything about it, why did you come here?"

"I had to tell you," insisted Katy, woefully. "Can't you see that I had
to tell you?"

"It is not true," said David again. "If you think I will do anything
against my father's name you are mistaken. You--"

But Katy had gone. He heard the familiar click of the gate, he heard her
steps quicken. She was running away as from a house of plague.

Then David hid his face in his arms and sat long alone on the porch. He
saw his father's stern face. His father had gone about--this there was
no denying--like a man with a heavy load upon his heart. But that he
should have had anything to do with the theft of a communion service,
that he should even have touched it, that he, himself, knowing the
truth, should have allowed another to be suspected--this was monstrous.

With rapid step David went up and down the porch. He would go away from
Millerstown forever, that was certain. He would sell his house, his
farms; he would shake the dust of the place from his feet. But first he
would clear the mind of Katy Gaumer from this outrageous suspicion and
make it impossible for the slander to travel farther. As he made his
plans, he stood still at the top of the porch steps, his head bent. Then
he lifted his head with a sudden motion. There was for an instant a
strangeness in the air, a sense of human presence. David felt blessed in
his endeavor.

A few moments later he opened the door of the squire's office.

The squire, busy with his favorite occupation, the planning of a
journey, sat with his feet comfortably elevated on the table. He let his
chair slam to the floor and came forward to meet his guest.

"Well, David, now you are a graduate! Let me look at you! Now you are to
stay with us. Why, David!" The squire stared at the countenance before
him. "Are you in trouble?"

"Yes," answered David.

With the squire in his chair behind the desk, himself on the old settle,
David told his story.

"Katy Gaumer came to the house this evening and told me a strange thing.
She says that she saw my father with the communion cup in his hand the
day that the service disappeared from the church."

"The communion cup?" repeated the squire, startled almost out of his
wits. "What communion cup?"

"The one that disappeared."

The squire gasped.

"Katy saw him!" Here was Katy again, Katy who had seemed to them all to
be such a promising child, Katy who was determined to go away to school,
Katy who helped young rascals from her poverty, Katy who now would not
study, who refused to do anything but sit dismally about! "Katy Gaumer,"
he repeated. "Our Katy?"

"Yes, Katy Gaumer," said David. "She says she was a little child and
that she ran away from her grandmother to the church and saw my father
put the silver cup into a hole made by plastering up the window."

"Impossible!" cried the squire. "Nonsense! Humbug! The girl is crazy. It
couldn't be!"

David looked at him and drew a deep breath.

"That was what I said. Then I thought of Koehler, and of how he had gone
mad, and I knew my father would wish it investigated."

An electric shock tingled the squire's sensorium. He remembered the
contorted face, the trembling hands, the terrible earnestness with which
Koehler made his attack upon the dead man.

"What is your plan, David?" he asked.

"I thought we might get the key of the church and go out there and look
about. It's bright moonlight and I believe we can see without making a
light. I don't believe I can sleep until I have been out there and have
looked about. I suppose we will have to get a key from the preacher."

"I have a key," said the squire. "But let us wait till to-morrow,
David."

"I must go to-night," insisted David.

Only once were words exchanged on the journey. The two men went out the
village street, past Grandfather Gaumer's, where a hundred sweet odors
saluted them from the garden and where Katy lay weeping on her bed, to
the path along the pike, between the open fields.

"You knew my father," said David. "Such a thing could not have been
possible."

"I knew him from a boy," answered the squire heartily and honestly.
"Such a thing could not have been possible."

"Had Koehler ever made this accusation before the time of my father's
funeral?"

"He made it to the preacher after the service disappeared, but the
preacher told him he must be still."

"Could Koehler have had any motive for taking it himself?"

"He was a poor man," answered the squire. "But he was simple and
honest--all the Koehlers were."

"What do you suppose became of it?"

"I have always supposed that some one sneaked in while Koehler was away
for a minute. A tramp could easily have walked in."

"Did my father never say that he had been in the church that afternoon?"

"Not that I know of."

The church door opened easily and quietly, the church was dim and
silent. The tall, narrow windows, fitted with clear glass, let in the
light of the moon upon the high pulpit, the oaken pews, the bare floor.
The pulpit and the Bible were draped with protecting covers of white
which made the church seem more ghostly and mysterious. Katy Gaumer in
certain moods would have been enchanted.

Together the two men looked at the smooth wall beside the pulpit.

"It doesn't seem as if that wall could ever have been broken," said
David in a low voice. "Was the window there?"

"Yes," answered the squire. "There was a window there. But William
Koehler was a fine plasterer. The window went almost from ceiling to
floor."

"We would have to have a pickaxe and other tools. And we would have to
ask for permission to open it. And all Millerstown would have to know,"
said David.

The squire pondered for an instant. "We would if we opened it from this
side. But the Sunday School is built against the other side, and there
there is only a little thin wainscoting to break through. It could be
taken out and put back easily. There are tools here in the church
somewhere."

The squire returned to the vestibule and opened the door of a cupboard.

"Here is a whole basket of tools. I do not like to make a light or every
one will see. Millerstown is wonderful curious." The squire's light tone
sounded strangely in the silence of the church, strangely to David and
strangely to himself. "Don't you think, David"--the squire had his hand
on the knob of the Sunday-School room door--"don't you think we had
better wait till to-morrow?"

"No," answered David.

The squire passed on into the little Sunday-School room and David
followed him.

"It's brighter here." The squire measured the wainscoting with his eye.
"The old window ought to be about here. Sit down, David."

David obeyed, trembling.

"I don't believe I could open it," said he.

"Of course not!" answered the squire, cheerfully. "Do not worry, David.
That silver has been melted this long time."

The squire thrust a chisel into a crevice and lifted out a section of
wainscoting, then another. When three or four narrow strips were
removed, he thrust his hand into the aperture. The moonlight grew
brighter as the moon cleared the upper boughs of the old cherry trees
outside the Sunday-School building; it shone upon a curious scene, the
old man at his strange task, the young man watching so eagerly.

"There can't be anything here," said the squire, cheerfully. "There
can't be. This might just as well be made into a book cupboard for the
Sunday School; it is wasted space. It's queer we never thought of that.
You see the church wall is four bricks thick here, and William's wall
only one brick. It--"

The squire ceased suddenly to speak. His exploring hand had only now
reached the bottom of the deep hole; it came into contact with a
substance different from the fallen rubble which he expected to touch.
David heard his voice die away, saw him start.

"What is it, sir?"

"There is something here," answered the squire.

David looked at the yawning hole with what courage he could muster. The
squire thrust in his hand a little deeper, and groped about. Then, from
the pit from which John Hartman might have lifted them easily had not
all thought been paralyzed, he drew in their gray bag a pitcher, black
with tarnish, and a silver plate, and set them on the floor beside him,
and then a silver chalice. Still feeling about, he touched a paper and
that, too, he lifted out and laid on the floor with the silver vessels.

Then, silently, he and David looked at each other.



                               CHAPTER XX

                          THE MYSTERY DEEPENS


FOR a long time neither the squire nor David spoke or moved. David sat
on the bench where he had sat, a little boy at Sunday School, and the
squire remained kneeling, forgetting his aching bones. When sharp pain
reminded him of his years and his rheumatism, he rose and sat by David
on the low, shallow bench.

"I can't understand it," said he again and again. "One cannot believe
it. There wasn't any motive. He couldn't have wanted to steal it--such a
thing would be entirely impossible. He was already rich; he was always
well-behaved from his childhood up."

David did not answer. His face was in the shadow, only his tightly
clasped hands were illuminated by the bright moonlight. His mind was
confused, he could not yet coördinate his impressions. There was Katy
Gaumer's story, there was Koehler's terrible accusation; here was this
damning proof of both. He felt again that rising, protesting pride in
his father, he felt a sickening unwillingness to go on with this
investigation, which seemed to mean in his first confusion only an
intolerable humbling of himself before Alvin Koehler, the effeminate,
the smiling, the son of a madman and a thief. Poor David groaned.

At once the squire rose with a troubled sigh.

"We'd better put these things back and drive in a few nails to hold the
wainscoting. We'll surely meet some one if we carry them into town and
then the cat would be out of the bag."

David agreed with a nod.

"And here is this paper!" The squire started. Perhaps they were nearer
an explanation than they thought. "Put it in your pocket, David."

David thrust the paper into his pocket with a sort of sob. The squire
laid the precious vessels back on the rough floor of the little pit and
put the wainscoting in place. A few light taps with a hammer and all was
smooth once more as it had been for fifteen years. Then he led the way
into the dim church.

"Come, David!"

David did not answer. He had sat down once more on the low bench. His
thoughts had passed beyond himself; he sat once more beside his father's
body here in the church. He experienced again that paralyzing horror of
death, the passionate desire to shield his poor father from the curious
eyes of Millerstown, his rage at the wild, dusty figure in the gallery.
He remembered William Koehler as he had seen him later in the corner of
the poorhouse garden, waving his arms, struggling like some frantic
creature striving to break the bonds which held him. He saw the face of
Alvin, empty, dissatisfied, vain. He remembered the little house, its
poverty, its meanness. He remembered how he had called upon God to prove
Himself to him by punishing Alvin Koehler's father. David was proud no
more.

"Come, David!" urged the squire again, returning; and this time David
followed him, through the church, out into the warm June night. Cinder
was being dumped at the furnace, the sky flushed suddenly a rosy red,
then the glow faded, leaving only the silvery moonlight. It was only
nine o'clock; pleasant sounds rose from the village, the laughter of
children, the voice of some one singing. Millerstown was going on in its
quiet, happy way. At Grandfather Gaumer's all was dark; the house stood
somberly among its pine trees; the garden still breathed forth its
lovely odors. The two men proceeded into the little office of the
squire, and there the squire lit his lamp and both sat down.

Trembling, David drew from his pocket the paper which the squire had
found with the silver vessels. John Hartman had expected that long
before the silver service was discovered the threatening letter would be
destroyed. But here it lay in his son's hand, its fiber intact. It had
caused John Hartman hideous suffering; it was to hide it that he had
given his life's happiness; here now it lay in the hand of David. Slowly
David unfolded the yellowed sheet and looked at it.

The squire, startled by a cry, turned from the door he was locking
against possible intruders. David's blond head lay on the squire's desk,
the paper beside it.

"What is it, David?"

David held out the paper, his face still hidden. The squire felt for his
spectacles, his hand shaking. Here now was the explanation of this
strange mystery, a mystery thought to be forever inexplicable. Why had
John Hartman done this thing? The squire held his breath in suspense.

But the squire read no answer to his questions. The paper, old and
yellowed and flabby to the touch, could be scrutinized forever, held to
the light, magnified, but it told nothing. On it only a few words were
legible, a portion of those written by John Hartman as he sat by the
roadside in his misery long ago.

"My dear little boy." "My poor Cassie." There was one fragment of a
sentence. "What shall I--" and there all ended.

The squire looked at the paper solemnly. The mystery had only thickened.

"He was in some trouble, poor Hartman was," said he. "He was in great
trouble. I wish he had come to me in his trouble." Again and again the
squire turned the paper over in his hand, still he found nothing but the
few, scattered words.

"I think I will ask Katy to come over," said he. "Perhaps she can
remember something more of this."

David did not lift his head to answer; he did not hear what the squire
said. He tried desperately to control himself, to decide what must next
be done. When Katy came in with the squire, he was startled almost out
of his senses and sprang up hastily. Of all the ignominy of his life
Katy had been a witness.

Katy had not gone to bed to stay, but had only hurled herself down once
more upon her oft-used refuge. It was evident that she had shed many
tears. The squire drew her to a seat beside him on the settle and kept
hold of her. It was always natural for any one who was near Katy to find
her hand or to touch the curls on her neck or to make her more
comfortable with one's arm. To David, as she sat by the squire, she was
an impregnably fortressed and cruel judge.

Again Katy told her story--all her story, her running away, her talking
with William Koehler, her falling asleep, her sight of the shining cup.

"You say he _pushed_ it in, Katy?"

"He had it in his hand and he dropped it in quickly. Then he--he sent me
away. I am sure I ought not to have been in the church; it was all right
for him to send me away. I remembered it all but the shining cup. If
gran'mom was alive, she could tell you how I came running home."

"And you never told any one?"

"I spoke often of his having sent me home," explained Katy. "But I never
remembered about the shining cup until the preacher came to see David's
mother. Then I couldn't tell David,--I _couldn't_ tell him! But perhaps
it isn't there; perhaps even if he had the cup in his hand he hadn't
anything to do with the other; perhaps--"

"The silver is there," said the squire sadly. "We found it in the bottom
of the pit."

"Oh, dear! oh, dear!" cried Katy.

David looked at her coldly. She sat with her curly head hidden against
the squire's shoulder. David wished that she would go, that she would
remove herself far from him, forever. He had suffered this evening to
the limit of endurance.

"You did your duty," said he in the tone learned at college. "You
needn't feel any further responsibility."

Thus propelled, Katy rose and checked her tears and passed out of the
squire's office.

When she had gone, David took up his burden manfully, though somewhat
savagely. David was proud once more, but the pride was that of honor,
not of haughtiness. John Hartman had had a code of honor; it was that
which had broken his heart. Millerstown had a similar code of honor. By
inheritance or by observation had David learned the way of a just man.

"Now," said he, "we will find Alvin."

"To-night, David?"

"Yes, to-night."

"But Alvin will know nothing!"

"But we will find Alvin."



                              CHAPTER XXI

               THE SQUIRE AND DAVID TAKE A JOURNEY BY DAY


DAVID and the squire had not gone far in their search for Alvin before
David's mind changed. He did not care to seek him at the house of the
little Improved New Mennonite or to ask the squire to take the long walk
to Alvin's house on the mountainside. It would be better to follow the
squire's suggestion and wait until morning.

"Then we will drive out to the poorhouse and see Koehler himself. He is
the one to see. You'd better stay here to-night with me."

David shook his head. He wished to be alone; he had set a task for
himself. Perhaps some letter or document had escaped him among those in
his father's safe, some letter or document which could throw light on
the strange past.

But David found nothing. He entered again into his great house, locked
its doors, and opened the iron safe. There he read through ledgers and
day books and mortgages and deeds in vain. He found nothing but the
orderly papers of a careful business man. He looked again at the letter
upon which the secret had been written, he held it up between him and
the lamp, but the original writing was gone forever. It had been a
letter,--of that there was no doubt,--his father's writing followed the
spaces of a margin, but the text of the letter was gone.

In the morning the two men drove out the country road to the almshouse.
The fields were green, wild roses and elder were in bloom, the air was
sweet. A man could ask nothing better of fate than to be given a home
and work in such a spot.

"They say Koehler has grown quieter," said the squire. "He doesn't rave
and pray this long time."

David did not answer. If another had visited such shame upon him, it
would have been a long time before he would have grown quiet. David was
now pale, now scarlet; he moistened his lips as though he were feverish.
Reparation must be made, but what adequate reparation could be offered?
Of money there was plenty, and Alvin, alas! could be satisfied with
money; Alvin would probably never understand the awful hurt which had
been done him. But his father--how could reason be returned to him?

In his corner in the almshouse garden they found William. The almshouse
was a pleasant place with shady lawns and comfortable porches upon which
old men could smoke their pipes and old women could sit knitting or
shelling peas, or helping in other ways with the work for the large
family. William Koehler never sat with the rest. He worked all day and
then went back to his room like any self-respecting laborer. He was
disinclined to speak; he was happiest on long, sunny days when he could
be in the garden from dawn till twilight.

Now he was on his knees, weeding his cabbage plants. Another man would
have done the work quickly with a hoe, but not so William. The
delightful labor lasted longer if he pulled each weed by hand.
Frequently he paused, to press down the soil a little more solidly about
the roots of a plant or to say what sounded like an encouraging word.
Thus had he been accustomed to talk to his chickens and his bees.

When the squire and David approached, he looked up from his work with a
frown. At David he merely glanced; at the squire he stared. When he
recognized him, he smiled faintly and rose from his knees.

"Well, William," said the squire, cheerfully. "Do you know me?"

"To be sure I know you."

"Come over here and sit down, William."

"I am very busy this morning," objected William, uneasily.

He answered the squire in Pennsylvania German. The years which had
almost anglicized Millerstown had had no educating effect upon the
residents of the county home.

"But I want to talk to you a little."

The squire took him in a friendly way by the arm, at which an expression
of terror came into William's eyes, and he jerked away from the squire's
grasp.

"I will come," he promised. "But I will come myself."

The squire led the way across the lawn to the shade of a great tree
where two benches were placed at right angles. Upon one the squire and
David sat down, upon the other William. The line between William's eyes
deepened, his lips trembled, he pressed his hands, palm to palm, between
his knees. The squire and David looked at each other. The squire, too,
had grown pale; he shook his head involuntarily over the task which they
were beginning. He, too, had had a share in William's condemnation, as
had all Millerstown. The squire felt helpless. He remembered the mocking
boys, the scornful, incredulous people; he recalled the gradual taking
away of William's business by the new mason whom Millerstown imported
and encouraged. The squire thought as David had of the years that could
never be returned, of the reason which could never be restored. He took
a long time to begin what he had to say. When William half rose as
though to escape back to his garden, the squire came to himself and his
duty with a start.

"William, do you remember anything about the window that you plastered
shut in the church and about the communion set?"

William lifted his hands, then joined them on his breast. He shook now
as with palsy. David, watching him, looked away to hide his tears. David
was young, the wreck of William Koehler seemed a unique, horrible case.

Presently William answered in a low voice.

"God told me to be quiet. I prayed and prayed and God told me to be
quiet. I am quiet now."

"But, William, you must tell us what you can remember. It will be for
your good."

William opened his arms in a wild gesture, then clasped his hands again.

"A voice told me to forget it. I prayed till I heard a voice telling me
to be quiet. You are tempting me! You are tempting me to disobey God.
God said to be quiet about it!" He covered his face with his hands and
began to weep aloud in a terrible way.

David crossed the little space between them and sat down beside him.

"You didn't take the communion set," he said. "We know you didn't take
it."

William Koehler drew his hands away from his eyes and looked round at
the young face beside him. Some tone of the voice startled him.

"Who are you?" he asked in astonishment. As he put the question he moved
slowly and cautiously away, as though he planned to flee. "What do you
mean to do with me?"

Together David and the squire rose. It was clear that William had heard
as much as he could endure. His hands twitched, his eyes were as wild as
any lunatic's.

"It doesn't make any difference who I am," said David, steadily. "You
are to remember that all the people know you did not take the communion
set. You are to think of that all the time."

Again William began to weep, but in a different way.

"I cannot think of it," he sobbed. "God told me not to think of it. God
told me to forgive him. I have forgiven him."

As the squire and David drove through the gate, William was kneeling
once more among his cabbages. Sometimes he stopped and rubbed his head
in a puzzled way, then his hands returned to caress the young plants.

Almost silently the two men drove back to Millerstown and up to the
little white house on the mountain road. Standing before the door, David
saw once more its littleness, its meanness. It seemed as though it could
never have been altogether proof against the storms of winter. Looking
back at his own great mansion among the trees he shivered. Imagination
woke within him; he comprehended something of the lonely misery of poor
William. It was a salutary though dreadful experience for David.

Alvin answered their knock at once. In a half-hearted, inefficient way
he was trying to put the house into habitable condition. For the first
time in his life he thought with respect of his father and of his
father's work. His father could have applied the needed plaster and
boards skillfully and quickly.

When Alvin saw who stood without he looked at them blankly. The
difference between his worn clothes and David's fine apparel hurt him.
He was always afraid of the squire. Together the three sat down on the
porch. Here David was the spokesman. To him the squire listened with
admiration and respect.

"Alvin, the communion service has been found."

Alvin looked at them more blankly than ever. The affair of the communion
service belonged to the dim past; since he had thought of the communion
service he had been away to school, and had been educated and jilted,
and cruelly maltreated by Bevy Schnepp, and had become engaged once
more. It was a long time before Alvin could remember the very close
relation he bore to the communion service. When he remembered, his heart
sank. He recalled clearly his father's trying, desperate appeal on
Christmas Day so long ago. Had they come to make him pay for his
father's theft?

"Your father insisted that my father had been in the church and had
taken it," explained David.

"I never believed it," cried Alvin at once. He was now terrified. Were
they going to make him suffer for his father's madness. "I never
believed it! Pop could never get me to believe it," he assured them
earnestly.

"But it is true, Alvin," insisted David. "Your father had nothing to do
with it. He spoke the truth when he said that he knew nothing about it.
A great wrong was done your father. I want to try to make part of it
right with you and him."

Alvin gaped at them. It was difficult to comprehend this amazing offer.

"I have been to see your father, Alvin," David went on. "I hope you will
forgive my father and me."

David spoke steadily. The request was easy to make now; even greater
humbling of himself would have been easy.

Alvin responded in his own way. He remembered his long poverty, his lack
of the things he wanted, the cruel price he had had to pay for his first
beautiful red necktie.

"My father spent a great deal of money for detectives," he said,
ruefully.

"That will be restored to him," said David. "Everything that I can do, I
will do, Alvin."

When their errand was made perfectly clear to Alvin, he was terrified
again, now by his good fortune. He was to have money, money to do what
he liked with, more money than he actually needed! The mortgage was to
be destroyed--the mention of that instrument had alarmed him for the
moment. Was he only to be relieved of a burden of whose existence he had
been to this time unaware? But there was more to come! The sum his
father had spent was to be guessed at liberally and was to be put on
interest for his father's support, and Alvin himself was to have
recompense.

"Do you like teaching?" asked David. "Is there anything you would rather
do?"

Alvin clasped his hands as though to assure himself by physical
sensation that he was awake and that the words he heard were real. He
cherished no malice, hoarded no hatred--that much could be said for
Alvin who failed in many other ways.

"Oh, how I would like to have a store!" he cried. "If I could borrow the
money from you to have a store, a store to sell clothes and shoes and
such things! I do not like teaching. I am not a teacher. The children
are naughty all the time for me. I--" Suddenly Alvin halted. No more in
this world could he go his own sweet way; liberty now offered was
already curtailed. A fixed star controlled now the steady orbit of his
life. His bright color faded. "We would better talk to her about it,"
said he.

David Hartman forgot for an instant the Pennsylvania German idiom. It is
an evidence of the monogamous nature of the true Pennsylvania German
that the personal pronoun of the third person, used alone, applies but
to one human being.

"To her?" repeated David, puzzled.

"Yes, to Essie Hill. I am going to be married to Essie Hill." Alvin
rose. "Perhaps we could go down there," he proposed hesitatingly.

Together the trio went down the mountain road. The squire drove the
buggy, Alvin and David walked. The squire kept ahead, so that the
curtains on the back of the buggy sheltered him from the view of his
companions. Thus hidden, he laughed until the buggy shook. To the squire
Alvin could never be a tragic figure; he belonged on the stage of comedy
or broad farce.

When the squire reached the house of the preacher of the Improved New
Mennonites, he dismounted, tied his horse, and awaited the arrival of
the young men. Then the three went in on the board walk to the kitchen,
where Essie was singing, "They ask us why we're happy." Again the
squire's face quivered.

Essie received her three guests in her calm, composed way. She put the
interesting scallops on the edge of her cherry pie with a turn of her
thumb, and invited the three gentlemen to have seats. Essie was neither
an imaginative nor an inquisitive person. Her life was ordered, her
thoughts did not circle far beyond herself. The tragedy suggested by the
juxtaposition of these three persons did not occur to her. She sat
primly with her hands folded and heard her visitors for their cause. Her
eyes narrowed as she listened to David's statement of Alvin's desire for
a store. It was true that Alvin did not like teaching, was not a success
as a teacher. Essie had intended to think out some other way for him to
earn the family living. Selling fine clothes would not be a sin like
wearing them; indeed, one could preach a sermon by refraining from what
was so near at hand and so tempting. That such a policy might be
damaging to the family pocketbook, Essie did not realize for the moment.
Essie was always most anxious that the sermon should be preached.
Millerstown, however, fortunately for Alvin's success as a haberdasher,
was set in its iniquity as far as the wearing of good clothes was
concerned.

"I think it would be a very good thing for Alvin to have a store," said
she.

"I want to do everything I can to make up for the past," explained
David. "I can't make it right entirely. I wish I could."

To Essie the balancing of accounts always appealed.

"That is right," said she.

"But there is Alvin's father," David went on. "We cannot leave him where
he is if he can be persuaded to come away. He doesn't understand yet
that we have discovered that he was not guilty, but we hope he may."

Essie answered without pause. Essie had as clear an idea of her own duty
as she had of other people's--a rather uncommon quality.

"We will take him home to us," said she.

When the interview was over, David went with the squire to partake of
Bevy's dinner. The squire and his two companions had not been unobserved
in their progress through Millerstown. Sarah Ann Mohr, on her way to
David's house with a loaf of fresh bread and a Schwenkfelder cake and
two pies and a mess of fresh peas from her garden and with great
curiosity in her kindly heart about David's future movements, saw the
three, and stood still in her tracks and cried out, "Bei meiner Sex!"
which meaningless exclamation well expressed the confusion of her mind.
When they vanished into Essie's kitchen, she cried out, "What in the
world!"--and, basket in hand, plates rattling, instant destruction
threatening her pies, she flew back to the house of Susannah Kuhns.
Susannah hurried to the house of Sarah Knerr, and together all sought
Bevy, as the only woman connected with any of the three men. Other
Millerstonians saw them assembled and the conference grew in numbers.

"The squire and David and Alvin Koehler together at the Mennonite's!"
cried Susannah.

"Perhaps he is to marry her and Alvin," suggested a voice at the edge of
the crowd.

"David used to sit with her, too, sometimes," Sarah Knerr reminded the
others. "Perhaps there is trouble and it will give a court hearing."

"Humbug!" cried Bevy. "You don't know anything about it!"

Bevy, of course, knew nothing about it either.

Almost bursting with curiosity, Bevy made her noodle soup. It was only
because she was not a literary person that the delicious portions of
dough which gave the soup its name were not cut into exclamation points
and question marks. Bevy was suffering; when the squire brought David
home with him, her uneasiness became distressing to see. Presently she
was thrown into a state bordering on insanity.

David laid down his fork and looked across the table at her restless
figure.

"Bevy," said he in an ordinary tone, "the communion set has been found."

"What!" screamed Bevy.

All her speculations had arrived at no such wonderful conclusion as
this. The squire looked startled; he had wondered how the report would
first reach Millerstown.

"Did Koehler tell?" demanded Bevy. "Did he tell where he put it? Is it
any good yet? Will they use it? Did you come to it by accident? Did--"
Bevy's breath failed.

"Koehler had nothing to do with it," said David. "My father put it into
the hole made by plastering up the window in the church. There it lay
all these years."

"He never meant to take it!" screamed Bevy.

"No," agreed David; "I do not believe he meant to take it."

"What _did_ he mean?"

"I do not know."

"Doesn't anybody know?"

"Nobody knows," interposed the squire. "Now, Bevy, get the pie."

Immediately Bevy started for her kitchen. When after a few minutes she
had not reappeared, the squire followed her. The kitchen was empty, no
Bevy was to be seen; but from across the yard a loud chattering issued
from Edwin's Sally's kitchen.

In the evening the squire and the preacher came and sat with David on
his porch. The communion set had been taken from its hiding-place and
the preacher's wife had polished it until it was once more bright and
beautiful. Millerstown dropped in by twos and threes to behold it, each
with his own eyes. The squire and the preacher and David talked about
many things of interest to Millerstown and to the world at large. When
the two men went away together, they said that David had astonished
them.

Later in the evening another man entered the gate and came up to the
porch. Oliver Kuhns, the elder, sat down in the chair which the squire
had left.

"I heard a strange thing to-day," said he, brokenly. "I cannot
understand it. When I was in great trouble, your father helped me. If
you want I shall tell Millerstown, I will. I took my money when my
father died and went to New York and bad people got me, and when I came
home to my wife and little children, I had nothing. Your father lent it
to me so she should not find it out, and he would never take it again."

"He would not want you to tell Millerstown," said David.

As Oliver Kuhns, the elder, went out the gate, Jacob Fackenthal came in.
He would not sit down.

"Your pop saved me from jail, David," said he. "Anything I can do for
you, I will. Nobody in Millerstown believes that he meant to take the
communion set. If you will stay in Millerstown, Millerstown will show
you what it thinks."

After a long time David went into the great house, through the front
door, up the broad stairway to the handsome room which he had selected
for his own. He could not understand his mother and father; still, in a
measure, they put him away from them. Dimly he comprehended their
tragedy, error on one side, refusal to forgive on the other, and
heartbreak for both. He thought long of his father and mother. But when
he went to sleep, he was thinking of William Koehler and his son Alvin
and planning the fitting-out of a little store and the planting of a
garden and the purchasing of a flock of chickens and several hives of
bees. Old ghosts were laid, old unhappinesses forgotten; from David's
consciousness there had vanished even Katy Gaumer, who in a strange way
had brought him a blessing.



                              CHAPTER XXII

                     KATY IS TO BE EDUCATED AT LAST


TWO months passed before Millerstown settled down, from the excited
speculation which followed Katy Gaumer's flash of memory and its
remarkable effects, into its usual level of excitement. Millerstown was
usually excited over something. By the end of two months Sarah Ann and
Bevy and Susannah Kuhns had ceased to gather on one another's porches or
in one another's houses to discuss the strange Hartmans. By the end of
three months all possible explanations had been offered, all possible
questions answered, or proved unanswerable. Had Cassie known of the
hiding-place of the silver service? Had Cassie died of a broken heart?
Did persons ever die of broken hearts? Why, and again why, why, why, did
John Hartman push the silver service into the hole? And why, having
pushed it in, did John Hartman not take it out? Why had not Katy
remembered the strange incident long before this?

"My belief is it _was_ to be so," said Susannah Kuhns, a vague
conclusion which Millerstown applied to all inexplicable affairs.

In all their speculations, no one ever thought of John Hartman or
alluded to John Hartman as a thief. For once, Millerstown accepted the
incomprehensible. Of the sad causes of John Hartman's behavior
Millerstown knew nothing, could never know anything.

Sarah Ann, being more tender-hearted than the rest, and seeing a little
more deeply into the lives of her fellow men and women, thought longest
about the Hartmans. Sarah Ann's husband had been a disagreeable and
parsimonious man and Sarah Ann knew something of the misery of a divided
hearthstone. She often laid down the Millerstown "Star," fascinating as
it was with its new stories, of a man driven by house cleaning to
suicide in a deep well, of a dog which spoke seven words, or of a snake
creeping up a church aisle, and took off her spectacles and thought of
the Hartmans and of the Koehlers and of Katy Gaumer's strange part in
their affairs.

Millerstown was not entirely deprived of subject-matter by its
exhaustion of the Hartman mystery. David Hartman had employed a
housekeeper and had opened his great mansion from top to bottom. All
Millerstown walked past during the first few days of his occupancy to
see whether it was true that there were lights in the parlor and that
the squire and the preacher went in and out the front door to visit
David. David had been carefully inspecting his orchards and farms, had
visited again the land on the mountain-side with its double treasure.
David had brought his riding-horse to Millerstown and Millerstown flew
once more to doors and windows to see him pass. David consulted with his
farmers; David asked a thousand questions of the squire; David was busy
from morning till night.

"And David is nice and common," boasted Bevy Schnepp, who behaved as
though she were David's mother and grandmother and maiden aunt in one.
"He is never proud; you would never know he was so rich and educated."

David had gone himself in midsummer to bring William Koehler home to his
house on the mountain-side. William seemed to understand now the
startling information brought him by the squire and David. At last he
realized who David was, and all the kindliness of his intentions. As he
drove up the street, his old neighbors came out with pitying looks to
speak to him and at his home his daughter-in-law received him with her
placid kindness.

An addition had been built to the little house, but otherwise all was as
it had been. The garden had been restored, onions and peas and tomatoes
had been planted, though July was at hand, so that William might find
immediate occupation. Back in the chicken house were cheerful duckings
and crowings, and about the hives the bees buzzed as of old.

At first William tended his garden and sat on the porch in the sunshine
and was satisfied and happy. Then he grew restless; the line deepened
again in his forehead. It was plainly to be seen that all was not right
with William.

But all was made right. One afternoon Sarah Ann Mohr put on her
sunbonnet and donned a white apron over her immaculate gingham one and
took a basket on her arm and an umbrella in her hand, to be used now for
sunshade, now for staff, and climbed the mountain road. She talked with
William and gave Essie a little housewifely advice about the making of
soap, in which occupation Essie was engaged; she emptied her basket,
then she rose to go.

"William," said Sarah Ann, "I have a little plastering that should have
been done this long time. I wonder if you would have the time to do it
for me?"

It was not every one, Bevy Schnepp said proudly afterwards, who would
ride on horseback to Allentown to fetch a mason's white suit and the
best kind of trowel, but David had them ready for William in the
morning. William accepted them eagerly and began to work at once.
Presently he went all about Millerstown. Sometimes he even ventured to
the Hartman house to speak to David. David learned after a long while to
see him and talk to him without heartache. One day William made in a
whisper an astonishing confidence.

"People talk too much about themselves," said William. "I was queer
once, out of my head, but I never let on and the people never found it
out."

Thus mercifully was the past dulled.

By September Alvin was settled in his store in what had once been a
little shoemaker's shop next the post-office. Like the good housewife
she was, Essie made the place all clean and tidy and banished all odor
of leather. Then the little shop was painted and Alvin's glass cases for
ties and collars and the low chairs for the trying on of shoes were put
in place. Millerstown was curious, and went to see and remained to buy,
and upon them waited Alvin in immaculate if sober clothes. Sometimes,
alas! when there was no danger of Essie's coming into the shop, he wore
a red necktie!

Alvin had paid his debt to Katy, and in the paying had achieved a moral
victory worthy of a braver man. When the little store was planned and
the fittings all but bought, he had gone to David Hartman and had
confessed his debt.

"She helped me, she was the only one who ever helped me. She thought
perhaps something could be made of me. And I could never pay her back."

"She helped you," repeated David. "You could never pay her back."

"That was it," explained Alvin. "When she could not go to school and had
all this money, she thought somebody should use it and she helped me."

David blinked rapidly. Then he went to the safe and counted a roll of
money into Alvin's hand.

"Go pay your debts, Alvin. The store will be all right."

Alvin started briskly down the street, but his step grew slower and
slower. He was, to tell the truth, desperately afraid of Katy Gaumer.
Instead of going on to Grandfather Gaumer's he stopped in at the
squire's, awful though the squire always seemed.

"Here is Katy's money," said he.

The squire put out a prompt hand and took the money, counted it, and put
the roll into his pocket. It was just as well for the development of
Alvin's soul that it had not been offered to Katy, who might not have
accepted it.

"Thank you," said the squire. "I'll give you a receipt, Alvin. I am
coming to your shop to get me a pair of shoes," added the squire with
twinkling eyes.

July changed to August and August to September. The cock's-comb in
Grandmother Gaumer's garden--it is, to this day, Grandmother Gaumer's
garden--thrust its orange and crimson spikes up through the low borders
of sweet alyssum, the late roses bloomed, the honeysuckle put out its
last and intensely fragrant sprays. In Millerstown busy life went on.
Apple-butter boiling impended; already Sarah Ann and Bevy Schnepp saw in
their minds' eyes a great kettle suspended from a tripod at the foot of
Sarah Ann's yard, from which should presently rise into Sarah Ann's
apple tree odors fit to propitiate the angry gods, odors compounded of
apples and grape juice and spices. Round this pleasant caldron, with
kilted skirts and loud chatterings, the women would move like energetic
priestesses, guarding a sacred flame.

There came presently occasional evenings when it was not pleasant to be
out of doors, when mothers called their children earlier into the warm
kitchens and when men gathered in the store. Fall was at hand;
Millerstown became quieter--if, an unobservant, unappreciative stranger
would have said, Millerstown could have become any quieter than it was!

But Millerstown was still talking. Millerstown was now interested in
another amazing event. Katy Gaumer was going away! The Millerstonians
imparted it, the one to the other, with great astonishment.

"She will have her education now," said Sarah Ann with satisfaction.
Then Sarah Ann's eyes filled with tears. Katy seemed to her to belong to
the past; sometimes, indeed, to Sarah Ann's own generation. "I will miss
Katy."

"Going to _school_!" cried little Mary Kuhns, who was now Mrs. Weimer.
"Going to school when we are of an age and I have two children!"

"But I am not so fortunate as you, Mary," answered Katy.

Katy spoke with the ease of the preacher or the doctor; she seemed older
than all her contemporaries.

"Going to school!" cried Susannah Kuhns. "You will surely be an old
maid, Katy!"

"There are worse things to be," said Katy.

"Going to school!" Bevy's outcry was the loudest of all. "_Now! Are_
you crazy, Katy?"

"Yes," laughed Katy as of old.

"Do you remember what learning you had?"

"Yes, indeed!"

"Pooh! I forget this long time everything I learned in school. It was
mostly A, B, C, I guess. But there are better things than learning. I
can cook. Was that why you went so often to the preacher this summer?
Were you studying again?"

"Exactly," said Katy.

Bevy looked at her half in admiration, half in disapproval. Katy had
reached her full height; her dresses almost touched the floor; her curly
braid was coiled on the top of her head; her eyes had darkened. But
Katy's mouth smiled as it had smiled when she was a little girl. Bevy
felt dimly that here was a different person from Mary Weimer with her
babies and Louisa Kuhns, who, married a month, came to the store without
having curled her hair.

"But you ought to get married sometime, Katy!" exploded Bevy. The wild
dream which Bevy had cherished for her darling had faded. "What will you
do in this world all alone?"

Presently Katy's new dresses were finished, her work with the preacher
was concluded, and her new trunk was sent out from the county seat.
Edwin's Sally and little Adam wept daily. Edwin shook his head solemnly
over the impending separation.

In the few days which remained before her departure, the affairs of
David Hartman and the Koehlers and the prospective apple-butter boilings
were entirely forgotten. The gifts of friends who came to say good-bye
would have filled two trunks, if Aunt Sally had not wisely discriminated
between them.

"What will you do with three woolen quilts, Katy, when I gave you
already nice blankets? These we will put in a chest in the garret. It
will go for your Haus Steir [wedding outfit]."

Susannah Kuhns brought two jars of peaches and a glass or two of jelly,
being firmly of the conviction that boarding-schools and colleges were
especially constructed for the starving of the young.

"The English people do not eat anyhow like we do. I was once to some
English people in Allentown and they had no spread at all for on their
bread. Now you will have spreads, Katy."

Finally even Alvin Koehler caught the spirit and brought a present for
Katy, a tie from his store. Alvin allowed no cloudy recollections of the
past to darken his sunshine.

Sarah Ann came, too, with a silk quilt and a silk sofa pillow of the
"Log Cabin" pattern, the product of long saving of brightly colored
scraps.

"You are to have these things, Katy," said she. "You would 'a' had them
anyhow when I was gone, and--"

"Now, Sarah Ann!" laughed Katy. "That will be years to come, Sarah Ann!"

Thus cheered, Sarah Ann dried her tears.

"Everybody in Millerstown is sorry you are going away," said she. "You
are like the church or the schoolhouse, you are ours."

"I love Millerstown," said Katy: "I love Millerstown dearly."

Presently the trunk was packed, the last day was at hand. The squire
came to a dinner such as Grandmother Gaumer used to prepare on holidays.
He was as excited as a child over the prospect of his journey with Katy
in the morning. He would see her established; it was almost as though he
were going to school himself!

Aunt Sally refused any help with the dishes. Katy must not work; she
might read, she might sew, she might go to see Sarah Ann, she might walk
with little Adam to the schoolhouse, but she should not lay hand to
dish-towel on her last day in Millerstown!

Katy chose the taking of little Adam to school. With his hand held tight
in hers, she went out the gate, past the garden, and along the open
fields toward the church and the schoolhouse set on the hill together.
She glanced into the schoolroom, a dull place now, no longer the scene
of the prancings of a Belsnickel or the triumphs of a studious Katy;
then, leaving Adam, she set off toward the mountain road. From the first
ascent she looked down at the house of David Hartman. The foliage about
it was thinning; she was near enough to see the golden and scarlet
flowers in the garden and a cat sleeping comfortably on the wide porch.
She saw David almost daily, taking the two steps into the squire's
office at a bound, sitting in his father's pew at church, riding about
on his tall gray horse. She could not help hearing Millerstown's
discussions of his doings, of his generosity to the Koehlers, of his
subscriptions to the church, of his free-and-easy ways.

Presently there was a sudden motion on the Hartman porch; a tall figure
appeared, the cat rose and went with arched back to meet her master, a
clear whistle lifted to the ears of Katy. She started and went on her
way, angry with herself for watching. She meant to climb to the Sheep
Stable and sit there upon the great rock and look down upon the valley.
There she could be alone, there she could look her fill upon
Millerstown, there she could fortify herself for the future.

Before the Koehler house, William was puttering about in the yard. He
called to her and gave her some flowers. He had been told of Katy's part
in his deliverance, and though he seemed to have forgotten the specific
reason for his kindly feeling toward her, he was more friendly only with
David Hartman. He seemed not so much to have lost his mind and found it
as to have harked back to his childhood.

Walking more rapidly after this delay, Katy went up the mountain road.
The afternoon would pass all too quickly.

"I cannot make many plans," said Katy, soberly, as she went along. "If I
make plans there is a hex on them. I must educate myself for whatever
comes. It would be easier to educate myself if I were sure that
something would come!" cried Katy, with sudden passion. "But there is
nothing any more before me!"

The woods thickened; there was the chatter of an angry squirrel, a flash
of gold as a flicker floated downward through the sunshine, showing the
bright lining of his wings; there was the rich odor of ripening nuts, of
slippery elm. On each side of the road and arching above rose the
flaming trees, the golden brown beeches, the yellow hickories and
maples, the crimson oaks. It was a beautiful, beautiful world, though
one's heart was sad.

At the Sheep Stable Katy climbed out on the rocky parapet and sat with
half-closed, half-blinded eyes. There was not a cloud in the sky; all
was clear and bright. Far to the right lay the county seat; in the
middle distance stood the blast furnace, the smoke rising lazily from
its chimney; far away against the horizon rose the Blue Ridge with its
three gaps where the Lehigh and the Schuylkill and the Delaware Rivers
made their way through its barrier to the sea.

Directly below lay Millerstown, thickly shaded, still. Looking upon it,
Katy felt her eyes fill with tears. She could see the golden light which
the maples cast now upon its streets; she could see also the blanket of
snow which would presently cover it, the moonlight which would light it
enchantingly.

"But I will not be here!" mourned Katy. "Everything will go on in the
same way, but I will not be here. I will be far away with those who do
not know me. But I will not forget!" cried Katy. "I will not forget
anything. I will have Millerstown graven on my heart!"

Then Katy bent her head. She was still cruelly obsessed. She thought of
David Hartman, of his steady, gray eyes; she thought of his great house,
of his fine mind, of his great prospects. Katy had grown up; remembering
now the affection of her youth, she set her teeth and wept. Life and
love were not devotion to a pair of dark eyes; life and love meant
growth of one's heart and soul and mind, they meant possessions and
power and great experiences which she could not now define. David was
them all. Katy was not worldly or calculating, she had only learned to
understand herself aright.

"I would like to talk to him," said Katy. "I would like him to know that
I have some sense at last. Then I could be more satisfied to go away."

Then Katy turned her head and looked round at the little path which led
through the woodland to the parapeted rock. The winding mountain road
was out of sight from the Sheep Stable; a person could approach close to
the little plateau without being seen. A rustle of the leaves betrayed a
visitor. He walked briskly, leaping over rocks, thrusting aside branches
like one whose mind is not upon the way but upon the goal. From the
porch of his house he had seen Katy climbing the hill.

He lifted himself to a seat on the great rock beside Katy and raised his
hand to shelter his eyes while he looked over the wide prospect.

"It's beautiful up here, isn't it, Katy?"

Katy caught her breath. Her chance to talk had come; she seemed to be
filling her lungs to make the best of it. "Yes," said she.

"I'm sorry I frightened you." David did not speak very earnestly; his
apology was perfunctory, as though he would just as soon have frightened
her as not.

"It's all right," said Katy.

David looked about the little plateau. There was the little cairn; he
wondered, with amusement whether he had taken all evidences of his early
wickedness away. Then he looked smilingly down upon his companion, who
seemed unable to make use of the air which she had taken into her lungs,
but sat silently with scarlet cheeks. The cheeks flushed now a still
more brilliant color.

"We've met here before," said David, still smiling.

Katy filled her lungs with air again.

"I was _abominable_," she confessed, trembling. She began to be a little
frightened. Here she had laid hands on David, had taken sides with his
enemy, had thrust him violently down upon the ground, had screamed
insulting things at him. She had a cold fear that he might be going to
punish her for that miserable, compromising episode.

But David's tone was fairly pleasant.

"Yes," he agreed, "you were."

Katy's head bent a little lower. She said to herself that all the
education in the world would not remove the hateful stain of her
association with poor Alvin. There was nothing she could say, though she
had now ample opportunity; all she could do would be to remove herself
as soon as possible from close proximity to this tall, gray figure, to
the amused smile of these gray eyes. A moth on a pin could flutter no
more feebly than Katy fluttered inwardly.

"I wish you would forgive me," said she, by way of preparation for a
humble departure.

"But I won't," replied David. "I won't forgive you ever."

Katy's heart beat more and more rapidly. Was he really going to punish
her in some strange way? Was he--she glanced rapidly about, then
remembered how firmly that hand beside her controlled the great horse.
There was no escape unless he let her go.

Then, in spite of herself, Katy looked up, to find David looking down
upon her. An incredible notion came into her mind, an astounding
premonition of what he meant to say. If she had waited an instant David
would have spoken, would have mastered the overwhelming fear that, after
all, the hunger of his heart was not to be satisfied. But being still
Katy, she could not wait, would not wait, but rushed once more into
speech, broken, tearful.

"I was crazy in my youth," gasped Katy. "I was _wild_. I cannot
understand myself. Perhaps there are years when we are crazy. But I got
over it. I got some sense. I was made to have sense. Trouble came upon
me. I was tamed. Then I went to live at your house and I read your
books, and you used to come home, and you were so wise and--and--so--so
different from _everybody_--" Did any one think for an instant that
Katy's day of romance was past?--"I thought it would kill me because I
had been such a fool and you knew it. I thought you must do worse than
hate me, I thought you must despise me. I thought--"

David put out his arm. With shaking voice he laughed.

"Oh, foolishness!" said David. He bent his cheek upon her forehead. "I
have loved you as long as I can remember, Katy."

Katy clasped her hands across her beating heart, and closed her eyes.

"I am not prepared," said she in a whisper. "I am not educated! I am
nothing! But, oh!" cried Katy Gaumer in the language of the
Sunday-School book, "If you will give me a little time, I will bring
home my sheaves!"


                                THE END



                          The Riverside Press

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Transcriber Notes:

Passages in italics were indicated by _underscores_.

Small caps were replaced with ALL CAPS.

Throughout the document, the oe ligature was replaced with "oe".

Throughout the dialogues, there were words used to mimic accents of
the speakers. Those words were retained as-is.

Errors in punctuation and inconsistent hyphenation were not corrected
unless otherwise noted.

On page 115, "pippette" was replaced with "pipette".

On page 135, "puplit" was replaced with "pulpit".

On page 145, "gran'mon" was replaced with "gran'mom".

On page 190, a quotation mark was added before "it is a debt".

On page 261, "did n't" was replaced with "didn't".

On page 298, a quotation mark was added before "There can't be."





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