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Title: Peace in Friendship Village
Author: Gale, Zona
Language: English
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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.

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PEACE IN FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE


[Illustration: Logo]

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO · DALLAS
ATLANTA · SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.
TORONTO



PEACE IN FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE

BY
ZONA GALE
AUTHOR OF "FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE," "FRIENDSHIP
VILLAGE LOVE STORIES," ETC.

NEW YORK
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
1919

_All rights reserved_


COPYRIGHT, 1919
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1919.


"Whatever comes of it after this [in Russia] every one in the world
should be plainly told of what took place in those first weeks. For it
was a dazzling revelation of the deep, deep powers for brotherhood and
friendliness that lie buried in mankind. I was no dreamer; I was a
chemist, a scientist, used to dealing with facts. All my life I had
smiled at social dreams as nothing but Utopias. But in those days I was
wholly changed, for I could feel beneath my feet this brotherhood like
solid ground. There is no end to what men can do--for there is no limit
to their good will, if only they can be shown the way."

TARASOV, in Ernest Poole's "The Village."


"I am the way ..."

JESUS CHRIST.



NOTE


These stories are told in the words of Calliope Marsh. Wherever I have
myself intruded a word, it is with apology to her. I chronicle her
stories as faithfully as I am able, faults and all, and, through her,
the affairs of the village, reflecting in its small pool the people and
the stars.

And always I hear most clearly as her conclusion:

"Life is something other than that which we believe it to be."

ZONA GALE.

Portage, Wisconsin, 1919.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                 PAGE
   I THE FEAST OF NATIONS                  1

  II PEACE IN FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE          20

 III THE STORY OF JEFFRO                  45

  IV WHEN NICK NORDMAN CAME BACK HOME     75

   V BEING GOOD TO LETTY                  98

  VI SOMETHING PLUS                      104

 VII THE ART AND LOAN DRESS EXHIBIT      130

VIII ROSE PINK                           154

  IX PEACE                               185

   X DREAM                               205

  XI THE BROTHER-MAN                     232

 XII THE CABLE                           256

XIII WHEN THE HERO CAME HOME             273

 XIV "FOLKS"                             293



PEACE IN FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE



THE FEAST OF NATIONS[1]


Three-four of us older ones were down winding up Red Cross, and
eight-ten of our daughters were helping; not my daughter--I ain't
connect'--but Friendship Village daughters in general. Or I don't know
but it was us older ones that were helping them. Anyway, Red Cross was
being wound up from being active, and the rooms were going to be rented
to a sewing-machine man. And that night we were to have our final
entertainment in the Friendship Village Opera House, and we were all
going to be in it.

There was a sound from the stairs like something walking with six feet,
and little Achilles Poulaki came in. He always stumbled even when there
was nothing in sight but the floor--he was that age. He was the Sykeses'
grocery delivery boy, that Mis' Sykes thinks is her social secretary as
well, and he'd been errand boy for us all day.

"Anything else, Mis' Sykes?" he says.

"I wonder," says Mis' Sykes, "if Killy can't take that basket of cotton
pieces down to old Mis' Herman, for her woolen rugs?"

We all thought he could, and some of the girls went to work to find the
basket for him.

"Killy," I says, "I hear you can speak a nice Greek piece."

He didn't say anything. He hardly ever did say anything.

"Can you?" I pressed him, because somebody had been telling me that he
could speak a piece his Greek grandfather had taught him.

"Yes'm," he says.

"Will you?" I took it further.

"No'm," he says, in exactly the same tone.

"You ought to speak it for me," I said. "I'm going to be Greece in the
show to-night."

But they brought the basket then, and he went off with it. He was a
little thin-legged chap--such awful thin legs he had, and a pale neck,
and cropped hair, and high eyebrows and big, chapped hands.

"Don't you drop it, now!" says Mis' Sykes, that always uses a club when
a sliver would do it.

Achilles straightened up his thin little shoulders and threw out his
thin little chest, and says he:

"My grandfather was in the gover'ment."

"Go _on_!" says Mis' Sykes. "In Greece?"

"Sure," he says--which wasn't Greek talk, though I bet Greek boys have
got something like it.

Then Achilles was scared to think he'd spoke, and he run off, still
stumbling. His father had been killed in a strike in the Friendship
mills, and his mother was sick and tried to sew some; and she hadn't
nothing left that wasn't married, only Achilles.

The work went on among us as before, only I always waste a lot of time
watching the girls work. I love to see girls working together--they seem
to touch at things with the tips of their fingers. They remind me of
butterflies washing out their own wings. And yet what a lot they could
get done, and how capable they got to be. Ina Clare and Irene Ayres and
Ruth Holcomb and some more--they were packing up and making a regular
lark of it. Seemed like they were so big and strong and young they could
do 'most anything. Seemed like it was a shame to close down Red Cross
and send them back to their separate church choirs and such, to operate
in, exclusive.

That was what I was thinking when Mis' Silas Sykes broke in--her that's
the leading woman of the Friendship Village caste of folks.

"I don't know," says Mis' Sykes, "I don't know but pride is wicked. But
I can_not_ help feeling pride that I've lived in Friendship Village for
three generations of us, unbroken. And for three generations back of
that we were American, on American soil, under the American flag--as
soon as ever it got here."

"_Was_ you?" I says. "Well, a strain of me is English, and a touch of me
way back was Scotch-Irish; and I've got a little Welsh. And I'd like to
find some Indian, but I haven't ever done it. And I'm proud of all them,
Mis' Sykes."

Mis' Hubbelthwait spoke up--her that's never been able to get a plate
really to fit her, and when she talks it bothers out loud.

"I got some of nearly all the Allies in me," she says, complacent.

"_What?_" says Mis' Sykes.

"Yes, sir," says Mis' Hubbelthwait. "I was counting up, and there ain't
hardly any of 'em I ain't."

"Japanese?" says Mis' Sykes, withering. "How interesting, Mis'
Hubbelthwait," says she.

"Oh, I mean Europe," says Mis' Hubbelthwait, cross. "Of course you can't
descend from different continents. There's English--I've got that. And
French--I've got that. And I-talian is in me--I know that by my eyes.
And folks that come from County Galway has Spanish--"

"Spain ain't ally," says Mis' Fire Chief Merriman, majestic. "It's
neuter."

"Well, there's that much more credit--to be allies _and_ neuter," says
Mis' Hubbelthwait triumphant.

"Well, sir," says Mis' Holcomb-that-was-Mame-Bliss. "I ain't got
anything in me but sheer American--you can't beat that."

"How'd you manage that, Mame?" I ask her. "Kind of a trick, wasn't it?"

"I don't know what you mean," she says. And went right on over my head,
like she does. "Ain't it nice, ladies," she says, "to be living in the
very tip-top nation of this world?"

"Except of course England," says Mis' Jimmy Sturgis.

"Why except England?" snaps Mame Holcomb.

"Oh well, we all know England's the grandest nation," says Mis' Sturgis.
"Don't the sun never set on her possessions? Don't she rule the wave?
Ain't she got the largest city? And all like that?"

Mame looked mad.

"Well, I'm sure I don't know," she says. "But from the time I studied
g'ography I always understood that no nation could touch us Americans."

"Why," says Mis' Sturgis, "I _love_ America best. But I never had any
doubts that England that my folks came from was the most important
country."

Mis' Holcomb made her mouth both tight and firm.

"Their gover'ment beats ours, I s'pose?" she says. "You know very well
you can't beat our gover'ment."

Berta, Mis' Sykes's little Switzerland maid, spoke up.

"Oh," she says, "I guess Sweetzerland has got the nicest gover'ment.
Everybody speaks so nice of that."

Mame looked over at me, behind Berta. But of course we wouldn't say a
word to hurt the poor little thing's feelings.

Up spoke that new Mis' Antonio, whose husband has the fluff rug store.

"Of course," she says, "nothing has Rome but Italy."

We kep' still for a minute. Nobody could contradict that.

"I feel bad," said Mis' Antonio, "for the new countries--America,
England--that have not so much old history in them. And no old
sceneries."

Berta spoke up again. "Yes, but then who's got part of the Alps?" she
wanted to know, kind of self-conscious.

Mame Holcomb looked around, sort of puzzled.

"Rome used to be nice," she admitted, "and of course the Alps is high.
But everybody knows they can't hold a candle to the United States, all
in all."

After that we worked on without saying anything. It seemed like pretty
near everything had been said.

Pretty soon the girls had their part all done. And they stood up,
looking like rainbows in their pretty furs and flowers.

"Miss Calliope," Ina Clare said to me, "come on with us to get some
things for to-night."

"Go with you and get out of doing any more work?" says I, joyful. "Well,
won't I!"

"But we are working," cried Ruth. "We've got oceans of things to
collect."

"Well," says I, "come along. Sometimes I can't tell work from play and
this is one of the times."

I thought that more than once while I went round with them in Ruth's big
car late that afternoon. How do you tell work from play when both are
the right kind? How do we know that some day play won't be only just the
happiest kind of work, done joyful and together?

"I guess you're going to miss this kind of work when Red Cross stops," I
said to them.

Ruth is tall and powerful and sure, and she drives as if it was only one
of the things she knows about.

"Miss it?" she said. "We'll be _lost_--simply. What we're going to do I
don't know."

"We've been some use in the world," said Clare, "and now we've got to go
back to being nothing but happy."

"We'll have to play bridge five nights a week to keep from being bored
to tears," says Irene--that is pretty but she thinks with her scalp and
no more.

Ruth, that's the prettiest of them all, she shook her head.

"We can't go back to that," she said. "At least, I _won't_ go back to
that. But what I'm going on to do I don't know."

What were they going on to do? That was what I kept wondering all the
while we gathered up the finishing touches of what we wanted for the
stage that night.

"Now the Greek flag," said Ruth finally. "Mis' Sykes said we could get
that at Mis' Poulaki's."

That was Achilles' mother, and none of us had ever met her. We went in,
real interested. And there in the middle of the floor sat Mis' Poulaki
looking over the basket of cotton rags that the Red Cross had sent down
by Achilles to old Mis' Herman.

"Oh," says little Mis' Poulaki, "you sent me such grand clothes for my
rags. Thank you--thank you!"

She had tears in her eyes, and there wasn't one of us would tell her
Achilles had just plain stole them for her.

"It is everything," she said to us in her broken talk. "Achilles, he had
each week two dollar from Mr. Sykes. But it is not enough. I have hard
time. Hard."

Over the lamp shelf I saw, just then, the picture of a big, handsome
man; and out of being kind of embarrassed, I asked who he was.

"Oh," says Mis' Poulaki, "he's Achilles' grandfather--the father of my
boy's father. He was officer of the Greek gover'ment," she added,
proud. "He taught my boy a piece to speak--something all the Greek boys
learn."

I told her I'd heard about that piece; and then we asked for the Greek
flag, and Mis' Poulaki got it for us, but she said:

"Would you leave Achilles carry it for you? He like that."

We said "yes," and got out as soon as possible--it seemed so sad, love
of a country and stealing all mixed up promiscuous in one little boy.

Out by the car there was a whole band of little folks hanging round
examining it. They were all going to be in the drill at the
entertainment that night, and they all came running to Ruth that had
trained them.

"Listen," she said to us, and then she held up her hand to them. "All
say 'God bless you' in your own language."

They shouted it--a Bedlam, a Babylon. It seems there were about fourteen
different nations of them, more or less, living around down there--it
wasn't a neighborhood we'd known much about. They were cute little bits,
all of them; and I felt better about taking part in the performance, at
my age, for the children were so cute nobody would need to look at us.

Just as we got in the car, Achilles Poulaki came running home to his
supper--one of the kind of suppers, I suppose, that would be all right,
what there was of it; and enough of it, such as it was. When he see us,
his eyes got wide and dark and scared--it was terrible to see that look
in that little boy's face, that had stole to help his mother. We told
him about the Greek flag, and his face lit, and he said he'd bring it.
But he stood there staring at us, when we drove away.

His look was haunting me still when I went into the Friendship Village
Opera House that night for the Red Cross final entertainment. "The Feast
of Nations," it was going to be, and us ladies had worked at it hard and
long, and using recipes we were not accustomed to using.

There's many different kinds of excitement in this vale of tears, but
for the sheer, top-notch variety give me the last few minutes before the
curtain goes up on a home-talent entertainment in a little town. All the
different kinds of anxiety, apprehension and amateur agony are there
together, and gasping for utterance.

For instance, Mis' Fire Chief Merriman was booked to represent a
Jugo-Slav. None of us ladies knew how it ought to be done, so we had
fixed up kind of a neutral costume of red, white and blue that couldn't
be so very far out of the way. But the last minute Mis' Merriman got
nervous for fear there'd be a Jugo-Slav in the audience, and she balked
out on going on, and it took all we could do to persuade her. And then
the Balkans got nervous--we weren't any of us real clear about the
Balkans. And we didn't know whether the Dolomites was states or
mountains, so we left them out altogether. But we'd been bound the
little nations were going to be represented whether anybody else was or
not--and there we were, nations of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, the
Americas and the provinces, and somebody for every one of them. And for
a curtain we'd sewed all the flags of every nation together because we
were so sick and tired of the advertisements and the pink lady on the
old Opera House curtain.

It's no part of my purpose, as the orators say, to tell about the
Friendship Village "Feast of Nations" entire. It would take sheets. To
mention the mere mistakes and misadventures of that evening would be
Arabian Nights long. Us ladies were the nations, and the young girls
were the spirits--Liberty, Democracy, To-morrow, Humanity, Raw
Materials, Trade Routes, the High Seas, Disputed Territory, Commerce,
Peace, and like that. There ought to have been one more, and she did
come all dressed up and ready, in white with gold and silver on her; and
then she sat flat down on a scaffold, and she says:

"I _can_ not do it. I _can_ not pronounce me. I shall get," she says
wild, "nothing said out loud but a whisper. And what _is_ the use?"

We gathered round her, and we understood. None of us could pronounce
her easy, especially when scared. She was Reciprocity.

"Make a sign," says somebody, "make a sign with her name on it, and hold
it over her head."

But that was no better, because nobody could spell her, either,
including her herself. So we give it up, and she went down in the
audience and looked on.

"It's all right," says Mis' Sykes. "Nobody knows what it means, anyway."

"No," says I, "but think of the work her mother's put on her dress."

And we all knew what that meant, anyway; and we all felt bad, and
thought mebbe the word would be more in use by the next show we give, if
any.

About in the middle of the program, just after Commerce and Raw
Materials and Disputed Territory tried to raise a row, and had got held
in place by Humanity, Mis' Sykes came to me behind the scenes. She was
Columbia, of course, and she was dressed in the United States flag, and
she carried an armful of all the other flags. We had had all we could do
to keep her from wearing a crown--she'd been bound and determined to
wear a crown, though we explained to her that crowns was going out of
fashion and getting to be very little worn.

"But they're so regal!" she kept saying, grieving.

"Crowns are all right," we had agreed with her. "It's the regal part
that we object to. Not on Columbia you don't put no crown!"

And we made her wear a wreath of stars. But the wreath was near over
one eye when she came to me there, between the acts.

"Killy Poulaki," she says, "he stole that whole basket of stuff we sent
down to old Mis' Herman by him. Mis' Herman found it out."

"For his ma, though," I says pitiful.

"Ma or no ma, stole is stole," says Mis' Sykes. "We're going to make an
example of him."

And I thought: "First we starve Achilles on two dollars a week, and then
when he steals for his ma, we make an example of him. Ain't there
anything else for him...."

There wasn't time to figure it out, because the flag curtain was parting
for the children--the children that came capering up to do their drill,
all proud and pleased and important. They didn't represent anything only
themselves--the children of all the world. And Ruth Holcomb stood up to
drill them, and she was the _Spirit of To-morrow_.

The curtains had parted on the empty stage, and _To-morrow_ had stepped
out alone and given a short, sharp word. And all over the house, where
they were sitting with their families, they hopped up, boys and girls,
and flashed into the aisles. And the orchestra started them, and they
began to sing and march to the stage, and went through what Ruth had
taught them.

Nothing military. Nothing with swords or anything of that. But instead,
a little singing dance as they came up to meet _To-morrow_. And she gave
them a star, a bird, a little pretend animal, a flower, a lyre, a green
branch, a seed, and she told them to go out and make the world more
beautiful and glad. They were willing! That was something they knew
about already. They lined up at the footlights and held out their gifts
to the audience. And it made it by far the more wonderful that we knew
the children had really come from so many different nations, every one
with its good gift to give to the world.

You know how they looked--how all children look when you give them
something like that to do. Dear and small and themselves, so that you
swallow your whole throat while you watch. Because they _are_ To-morrow,
and they want life to be nice, and they think it's going to be--but we
haven't got it fixed up quite right for them yet. We're late.

As they stood there, young and fine and ready, Ruth, that was
_To-morrow_, said:

"Now!"

They began speaking together, clear and strong and sweet. My heart did
more things to my throat while I looked at them.

"I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands,
one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Somebody punched at me, violent.

"Ain't it magnificent to hear 'em say it?" says Mis' Sykes. "Ain't it
truly magnificent?"

But I was looking at Achilles and thinking of her being willing to make
an example of him instead of helping him, and thinking, too, of his two
dollars a week.

"It is if it is," says I, cryptic.

_To-morrow_ was speaking again.

"Those of you whose fathers come from Europe, hold up your hands."

Up shot maybe twenty hands--scraggy and plump, and Achilles' little thin
arm in the first row among them.

And at the same minute, out came us ladies, marching from the wings--all
those of us that represented the different countries of the world; and
we formed back of the children, and the stage was full of the nations of
Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, the Americas, the islands and all.

And _To-morrow_ asked:

"What is it that your fathers have sworn to, so that you now all belong
to one nation?"

Then we all said it with the children--waveringly at first, swelling,
mounting to full chorus, the little bodies of the children waving from
side to side as we all recited it:

"I absolutely and entirely renounce and adjure all allegiance and
fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, and
particularly to--"

Here was a blur of sound as all the children named the ruler of the
state from which their fathers had come.

"--of whom I have heretofore been subject ... that I will support and
defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies,
foreign or domestic, and bear true faith and allegiance to the same, so
help me God...."

Before they had finished, I began to notice something. I stood on the
end, and Achilles was just near me. He had looked up and smiled at me,
and at his Greek flag that I was carrying. But now, while the children
recited together, Achilles stood there with them saying not one word.
And then, when the names of the rulers all blurred together, Achilles
scared me, for he put up the back of his hand as if to rub tears from
his eyes. And when they all stopped speaking, only his sobbing broke the
stillness of the hall.

I don't know how it came to me, save that things do come in shafts of
light and splendor that no one can name; but in that second I knew what
ailed him. Maybe I knew because I remembered the picture of his
grandfather on the wall over the lamp shelf. Anyway, the big pang came
to me to speak out, like it does sometimes, when you have to say what's
in you or die.

"_To-morrow!_" I cried out to Ruth, and I was glad she had her back to
the audience so they couldn't see how scared she looked at me speaking
what wasn't in my part. "_To-morrow!_ I am Greece! I ask that this
little Greek boy here say the words that his Greek grandfather taught
him!"

Ruth looked at Achilles and nodded, and I saw his face brighten all of a
sudden through his tears; and I knew he was going to speak it, right out
of his heart.

Achilles began to speak, indistinct at first, then getting clearer, and
at last his voice went over the hall loud and strong and like he meant
it:

"'We will never bring disgrace to this our city by any act of dishonor
or cowardice, nor ever desert our suffering comrades in the ranks. We
will revere and obey the city's laws, and do our best to incite a like
respect and reverence in those above us who are prone to annul them or
set them at naught. We will strive unceasingly to quicken the public
sense of civic duty. Thus in all these ways, we will transmit this city
not less but greater, better, and more beautiful than it was transmitted
to us.'"

It was the Athenian boy's creed of citizenship, that Achilles' father
had learned in Greece, and that Achilles' grandfather, that officer in
the Greek government, had taught to them both.

The whole hall cheered him--how could they help that? And right out of
the fullness of the lump in my throat, I spoke out again. And I says:

"_To-morrow! To-morrow!_ You're going to give us a world, please God,
where we can be true to our own nation and true to all others, for we
shall all belong to the League of the World."

Oh, and they cheered that! They knew--they knew. Just like every hamlet
and cross-roads in this country and in this world is getting to
know--that a great new idea is waiting, for us to catch the throb of its
new life. To-morrow, the League of the World is going to teach us how to
be alive. If only we can make it the League of the World indeed.

Right then came beating out the first chords of the piece we were to
close with. And as it was playing they brought out the great world flag
that us ladies had made from the design that we had thought up and made
ourselves: A white world and white stars on a blue field.

It floated over the heads of all of us that were dressed as the nations
of the earth, and not one of us ladies was trying to tell which was the
best one, like we had that afternoon; and that flag floated over the
children, and over _To-morrow_ and _Democracy_ and _Liberty_ and
_Humanity_ and _Peace_ and like that. And then we sang, and the hall
sang with us:


     "The crest and crowning of all good,
     Life's common goal is brotherhood."


And when the curtains swept together--the curtains made of everybody's
flags--I tell you, it left us all feeling like we ain't felt in I don't
know when.


Within about a minute afterward Ruth and Ina and Irene were around me.

"Miss Calliope," they said, "the Red Cross isn't going to stop."

"No?" I said.

"We're going to start in with these foreign-born boys and girls--" Ina
said.

"We're going to teach them all the things _To-morrow_ was pretending to
teach them," Ruth said.

"And we're going to learn a thing or two they can teach us," I says,
"beginning with Achilles."

They knew what I meant, and they nodded.

And the flag of the white world and white stars on a blue field was all
ready-made to lead us--a kind of picture of God's universe.

FOOTNOTE:

[1] Copyright, _Red Cross Magazine_, April, 1919.



PEACE IN FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE[2]


Post-office Hall, where the Peace celebration was to be held, was filled
with flags, both bought and borrowed, and some made up by us ladies,
part guessed at but most of them real accurate out of the back of the
dictionary.

Two days before the celebration us ladies were all down working in the
hall, and all pretty tired, so that we were liable to take exception,
and object, and I don't know but what you might say contradict.

"My feet," says Mis' Toplady, "ache like the headache, and my head aches
as if I'd stood on it."

"Do they?" says Mis' Postmaster Sykes, with her little society pucker.
"Why, I feel just as fresh. I've got a wonderful constitution."

"Oh, anybody's constitution feels fresh if they don't work it too hard,"
says Mis' Holcomb-that-was-Mame-Bliss, having been down to the Hall all
day long, as Mis' Sykes hadn't.

Then Mis' Toplady, that is always the one to pour oil and balm and myrrh
and milk onto any troubled situation, she brought out her question more
to reduce down the minute than anything else:

"Ladies," she says, holding up one foot to rest the aching sole of it,
"Ladies, what under the sun are we going to do now that our war work's
done?"

"What indeed?" says Mis' Holcomb-that-was-Mame-Bliss.

"What indeed?" says I.

"True for you," says Mis' Sykes, that always has to sound different,
even though she means the same.

Of course we were all going to do what we could to help all Europe, but
saving food is a kind of negative activity, and besides us ladies had
always done it. Whereabouts was the novelty of that?

And we'd took over an orphan each and were going to skin it out of the
egg-money and such--that is, not the orphan but its keep--and still
these actions weren't quite what we meant, either.

"The mornings," says Mis' Toplady dreamy, "when I use' to wake up crazy
to get through with my work and get with you ladies to sew--where's all
that gone?"

"The meetings," says Mame Holcomb, "when Baptists and Catholics and
young folks and Elks met promiscuous and sung and heard talking--where's
them?"

And somebody brought out the thing we'd all thought most about.

"The days," she says, "when we worked next to our old enemies--both
church and family enemies--and all bad feelings forgot--where's them
times?"

"What we going to do about it?" I says. "And when?"

Mis' Sykes had a suggestion. She always does have a suggestion, being
she loves to have folks disciple after her. "Why, ladies," she says,
"there's some talking more military preparedness right off, I hear. That
means for another war. Why not us start in and knit for it _now_?" And
she beamed around triumphant.

"Well," says Mame Holcomb, reasonable, "if the men are going to prepare
in any way, it does seem like women had ought to be getting ready too.
Why _not_ knit? And have a big box all setting ready, all knit up, to
match the other preparednesses?"

It was on to this peaceful assemblage that Berta, Mis' Sykes's little
Switzerland maid, came rushing. And her face was pale and white. "Oh,
Mis' Sykes," she says, "oh, what jew s'pose? I found a little boy
setting on the front stoop."

Mis' Sykes is always calm--not so much because calm is Christian as
because calm is grand lady, I always think. "On whose stoop, Berta?" she
ask' her kind.

"On your own stoop, ma'am," cried Berta excitable.

"And whose little boy is it, Berta?" she ask', still more calm and
kind.

"That's what I donno, ma'am," says Berta. "Nor they don't no one seem to
know."

We all ask' her then, so that I don't know, I'm sure, how she managed to
say a word on her own hook. It seems that she'd come around the house
and see him setting there, still as a mouse. When he see her, he looked
up and smiled, and got up like he'd been waiting for somebody. Berta had
taken him in the kitchen.

"And he's wearing all different clothes than I ever see before in my
life," said Berta, "and he don't know who he is, nor nothing. Nor he
don't talk right."

Mis' Sykes got up in her grand, deliberate way. "Undoubtedly it's
wandered away from its ma," says she, and goes out with the girl that
was still talking excitable without getting a great deal said.

The rest of us finished setting the hall in shape. It looked real nice,
with the Friendship Village booth on one side and the Foreign booth on
the other. Of course the Friendship Village booth was considerably the
biggest, being that was the one we knew the most about.

Then us ladies started home, and we were rounding the corner by Mis'
Sykes's, when we met her a-running out.

"Ladies," she says, "if this is anybody's child that lives in
Friendship Village, I wish you'd tell me whose. Come along in."

She was awful excited, and I don't blame her. Sitting on the foot of the
lounge in her dining-room was the funniest little dud ever I see. He was
about four years old, and he had on a little dress that was all gold
braid, and animals, and pictures, and biscuits, and shells, looked like.
But his face was like any--black eyes he had, and a nice skin, and
plain, brown hair, and no hat.

"For the land," we all says, "where _did_ he come from?"

"Now listen at this," says Mis' Sykes, and she squatted down in front of
him that was eating his cracker so pretty, and she says, "What's your
name?"

It stumped him. He only stared.

Mis' Sykes rolled her eyes, and she pressed him. "Where d'you live?"

That stumped him too. He only stared on.

"What's your papa's name?"

That was a worse poser. So was everything else we asked him. Pretty soon
he begun to cry, and that was a language we could all understand. But
when we ask' him, frantic, what it was he wanted, he said words that
sounded like soup with the alphabet stirred in.

"Heavens!" says Mis' Sykes. "He ain't English."

And that's what we all concluded. He wore what we'd never seen, he
spoke what we couldn't speak, he come from nobody knew where.

But while we were a-staring at each other, the Switzerland maid come
a-racing back. Seems she'd been up to the depot, a block away, and
Copper, the baggageman, had noticed a queer-looking kid on the platform
when some folks got off Number 16 that had gone through west an hour or
so back. Copper thought the kid was with them, but he didn't notice it
special. Where the folks went to, nobody knew.

"Down on the Flats somewhere, that's where its folks went," says Mis'
Sykes. "Sure to. Well, then, they'll be looking for it. We must get it
in the papers."

We raced around and advertised that little boy in the _Daily_. The
Friendship Village _Evening Daily_ goes to press almost any time, so if
you happen to hit it right, you can get things in most up to seven
o'clock. Quite often the _Evening Daily_ comes after we're all in bed,
and we get up and read it to go to sleep by. We told the sheriff, and he
come up that evening and clucked at the little boy, without getting a
word out of him, no more than we could. The news flew round town, and
lots of folks come up to see him. It was more exciting than a
night-blooming cereus night.

But not a soul come to claim him. He might have dropped down from inside
the air.

"Well," says Mis' Sykes, "if some of them foreigners down on the Flats
_has_ lost him, it'll be us that'll have to find him. They ain't capable
of nothing."

That was how Mis' Sykes, and Mis' Toplady, and Mame Holcomb and I
hitched up and went down to the Flats and took the baby with us, right
after breakfast next morning, to try our best to locate him.

The Flats are where the Friendship Village ex-foreigners live--ain't it
scandalous the way we keep on calling ex-foreigners foreigners? And
then, of course, nobody's so very foreign after you get acquainted.
Americans, even, ain't so very foreign to Europeans after they get to
know us, they say. I'd been down there often enough to see my
wash-woman, or dicker for a load of wood, or buy new garden truck, or
get somebody to houseclean, but I didn't know anybody down there to
visit--and none of us ladies did. The Flats were like that. The Flats
didn't seem ever to count real regular in real Friendship Village
doings. For instance, the town was just getting in sewerage, but it
wasn't to go in down on the Flats, and nobody seemed surprised. The only
share the Flats seemed to have in sewerage was to house the long, red
line of bunk cars, where the men lived, drawn up on a spur of track by
the gas house.

It was a heavenly day, warm and cool and bright, with a little whiff of
wind, like a sachet bag, thrown in. We had the Sykeses' surrey and old
white horse, and Mis' Toplady and Mame and me squoze on the back seat
so's to let Mis' Sykes, that was driving, have sitting beside her in
plain sight that little boy in his blazing red dress.

We went first to see some folks named Amachi--her husband was up in the
pineries, she said, and so she run their little home-made rug business.
She was a wonderful, motherly soul, and she poored the little boy with
her big, thick hand and listened, with her face up and her hair low in
her neck like some kind of a picture with big, sad eyes. But she hadn't
heard of anybody lost.

"One trouble with these folks," Mis' Sykes says as we drove away, "they
never know anything but their own affairs."

Then we went to some folks named Cardell. They tended the bridge and let
the gypsies camp in their pasture whenever they wanted. She was cutting
the grass with a blunt pair of shears; and she had lots of flowers and
vines and the nicest way of talking off the tip of her tongue. She give
the little boy a cup of warm milk, but she hadn't heard anything about
anybody being lost anywheres.

"Real superior for a foreigner," says Mis' Sykes, so quick after she'd
clucked to her horse I was afraid Mis' Cardell heard her.

Then we saw an old lady named Marchant, that her ancestors had settled
up Friendship Village, but she was so poor now that everybody had kind
of forgot about that, and some folks named Swenson that lived in the
toll-gate house and had a regular hennery of homeless cats. And though
they give the little boy a flower or two and left him stroke a kitty or
more, they hadn't any of them either seen or heard of anybody that was
out trying to locate a son.

It was just a little while after we started that Mis' Sykes had her
great idea. I remember we were just coming out at Mis' Swenson's when
she thought of it, and all the homeless cats were following along behind
us with all their tails sticking up straight.

"Ladies," says Mis' Sykes, "why in under the canopy don't we get some
work out of some of these folks for the peace meeting to-morrow night?"

"I was thinking of that," says Mame Holcomb.

"Some of them would wash the dishes and not charge anything, being it's
for the peace."

"And help clean up next day," says Mis' Sykes. "That's when the
backaching, feet-burning work comes in."

"Costs a sight to pay by the hour," says Mame, "and this way we could
get the whole thing free, for patriotism."

"Mop the hall floor, too," says Mis' Sykes. "Land," she adds, only about
half soft enough, "look at them children! Did you ever see such skinny
sights?"

Awful pindling-looking children, the Swensons were, and there were most
as many of them as there were cats.

When she got to the gate, Mis' Sykes turned round in her grand-lady way,
and she says, "Mis' Swenson, why don't you and your husband come up to
the peace meetin' to-morrow night and help us?"

Mis' Swenson was a peaked little thing, with too much throat in length
and not enough in thickness. "I never heard of it," she says.

Mis' Sykes explained in her commanding way. "Peace, you know," she says,
"is to be celebrated between the different countries. And, of course,
this is your country, too," Mis' Sykes assured her, "and we'd like to
hev you come up and help with the dishes, or like that."

"Is it dress-up?" says Mis' Swenson, not very loud.

"My, no!" we told her, and decided to stick to the usual hooks in our
closets.

"I'd like to," says Mis' Swenson, "if I can get Pete to change his
clothes."

"So do," says Mis' Sykes gracious and clucked her horse along. "My
goodness," she says, "what awful stuff these folks must feed their
children! And how they must bungle 'em when they're sick. And they won't
hardly any of 'em come to-morrow night," she says. "You can not," she
says, "get these folks to take part in nothing."

We went to twenty or thirty houses, and every one of them Mis' Sykes
invited to come and help. But not one of the twenty or thirty houses had
heard of any foreigner whatever having just arrived in Friendship
Village, nor had ever seen or heard of that little boy before. He was
awful good, the little soul, waving his hands so nice that I begun to be
afraid everybody we met would claim foreign and ask for him.

By noon we begun to get pretty excited. And the sheriff, he was excited
too, and he was hunting just as wild as any of us, being arrests was
light. He was hanging on the canal bridge when we crossed it, going home
along toward noon.

"They never had a case of lost child in Friendship Village in twenty
years," he said. "I looked it up."

"Lost child nothing!" I told him. "The child ain't lost. Here he is.
It's the parents," I said, "that's lost on us."

The noon whistle blew just then, and the men that were working on the
sewer threw down their shovels.

"Look at their faces," says Mis' Sykes. "Did you ever see anything so
terrible foreign?"

"Foreign ain't poison," says Mis' Toplady on the back seat.

"I'm going to have Silas put a button on the cellar window," says Mis'
Sykes.

"Shucks, they ain't shaved, that's all," says Mis' Toplady.

Mis' Sykes leaned over to the sheriff. "You better be up around the
peace celebration to-morrow night," she says. "We've been giving out
invitations pretty miscellaneous, and we might need you."

"I'll drop up," says the sheriff. "But I like to watch them bunk cars
pretty close, where the men live."

"Is there much lawlessness?" Mis' Sykes asks, fearful.

Mis' Toplady sings out, laughing, that there would be if she didn't get
home to get Timothy's dinner, and Mis' Sykes come to herself and
groaned.

"But oh, my land," she says, "we ain't found no ma nor pa for this
child. What in time are we going to do? I'm too stiff," she says, "to
adopt one personally."

But the little boy, he just smelled of the flowers the folks on the
Flats had give him, and waved his hand to the sheriff, cute.

Late the next afternoon, us ladies that weren't tending to the supper
were trying to get the Foreign booth to look like something. The Foreign
booth looked kind of slimpsey. We hadn't got enough in it. We just had a
few dishes that come from the old country, and a Swiss dress of Berta's
mother's and a Japanese dress, and like that. But we couldn't seem to
connect up much of Europe with Friendship Village.

At five o'clock the door opened, and in walked Mis' Amachi and Mis'
Swenson from the Flats, with nice black dresses on and big aprons pinned
up in newspapers. Pretty soon in come old Mis' Marchant, that had rode
up on a grocery delivery wagon, she said. Close behind these come some
more of them we had asked. And Mis' Sykes, acting like the personal
hostess to everything, took them around and showed them things, the
Friendship Village booth that was loaded with stuff, and the Foreign
booth that wasn't.

And Mis' Poulaki, one of the Greek women, she looked for a while and
then she says, "We got two nice musics from old country."

She made her hands go like playing strings, and we made out that she
meant two musical instruments.

"Good land!" says Mis' Sykes. "Post right straight home and get them.
Got anything else?"

"A little boy's suit from Norway," says Mis' Swenson. "And my marriage
dress."

"Get it up here!" cries Mis' Sykes. "Ladies, why do you s'pose we never
thought of this before?"

There wasn't hardly one of them that couldn't think of something--a
dish, or a candlestick, or wooden shoes, or an old box, or a kerchief.
Old Mis' Marchant had come wearing a shoulder shawl that come from
Lombardy years back, and we jerked it off her and hung it up, hole and
all.

It made quite some fun for all of us. And all the time our little
strange boy was running around the floor, playing with papers, and when
we weren't talking of anything else, we were talking about him.

"Say," says Mis' Sykes, that never means to say "say" but gets it said
unbeknownst when excited, "I guess he's the foreignest thing we've got."

But by six o'clock she was ready to take that back, about him being the
foreignest. The women from the Flats had all come back, bringing all
they had, and by the time we put it up the Foreign booth looked like
Europe personified. And that wasn't all. Full three quarters of the
folks that we'd asked from down there had showed up, and most of them
says they'd got their husbands to come too. So we held off the supper a
little bit for them--a fifteen-cent supper it was, coffee and sandwiches
and baked beans and doughnuts--and it was funny, when you think of it,
for us to be waiting for them, for most of us had never spoken to any of
these folks before. The women weren't planning to eat, they said; they'd
help, but their men would buy the fifteen-cent supper, they added,
proud. Isn't it kind of sad and dear and _motherly_, the way, whenever
there isn't food enough, it's always the woman who manages to go
without and not let on, just exactly like her husband was her little
boy?

By and by in they all come, dressed up clean but awful heavy-handed and
big-footed and kind of wishing they hadn't come. But I liked to see them
with our little lost red boy. They all picked him up and played with him
like here was something they knew how to do.

The supper was to come first, and the peace part afterward, in some set
speeches by the town orators; and we were just ready to pour out the
coffee, I recollect, when the fire-bell rang. Us ladies didn't think
much of that. Compared with getting supper onto the table, what was a
fire? But the men all jumped up excitable, being fires are more in their
line.

Then there was a scramble and rush and push outside, and the door of the
hall was shoved open, and there stood a man I'd never seen before, white
and shaking and shouting.

"The bunk cars!" he cried. "They're burning. Come!"

The bunk cars--the ten or twelve cars drawn up on a spur track below the
gas house....

All of us ran out of the hall. It didn't occur to us till afterward that
of course the man at the door was calling the men from the Flats, some
of whom worked on the sewer too. I don't suppose it would ever have
entered his head to come up to call us if the Flat folks hadn't been
there. And it was they who rushed to the door first, and then the rest
of us followed.

It was still dusk, with a smell of the ground in the air. And a little
new moon was dropping down to bed. It didn't seem as if there ought to
be a fire on such a night. Everything seemed too usual and casual.

But there was. When we got in sight of the gas house, we could see the
red glare on the round wall. When we got nearer, we could see the
raggedy flames eating up into the black air.

The men that lived in the cars were trying to scrabble out their poor
belongings. They were shouting queer, throaty cries that we didn't
understand, but some of the folks from the Flats were answering them. I
think that it seemed queer to some of us that those men of the bunk cars
should be having a fire right there in our town.

"Don't let's get too near," says somebody. "They might have small-pox or
something."

It was Mis' Sykes, with Silas, her husband, and him carrying that bright
red little boy. And the baby, kind of scared at all the noise and the
difference, was beginning to straighten out and cry words in that
heathen tongue of his.

"Mercy," says Mis' Sykes, "I can't find Berta. He's going," she says,
"to yell."

Just then I saw something that excited me more than the baby. There was
one car near the middle that was burning hard when the stream of water
struck it. And I saw that car had a little rag of lace curtain at its
window, and a tin can with a flower in it. And when the blaze died for a
minute, and the roof showed all burned, but not the lower part of the
car or the steps, I saw somebody in blue overalls jump up the steps, and
then an arm tearing down that rag of lace curtain and catching up the
tin can.

"Well," I says pitiful, "ain't that funny? Some man down there in a bunk
car, with a lace curtain and a posy."

I started down that way, and Mis' Toplady, Mis' Holcomb and the Sykeses
come too, the Sykeses more to see if walking wouldn't keep the baby
still. It wouldn't. That baby yelled louder than I'd ever heard one,
which is saying lots but not too much.

When we all got down nearer, we came on Mis' Swenson and Mis' Amachi,
counting up.

"We can take in two," says Mis' Swenson, "by four of the children
sleeping on the floor that'll never wake up to know it."

"One can sleep on our lounge," says Mis' Amachi.

"We can put a couple or two in our barn," says a Flats man. "Oh, we'll
find 'em room--no trouble to that."

Mis' Toplady and me looked at each other. Always before, in a Friendship
Village catastrophe, her and me had been among the planners. But here
we were, it seemed, left out, and the whole thing being seen to by the
Flats.

"Say," says Mis' Toplady all of a sudden, "it's a woman!"

We were down in front by now, and I saw her too. The blue overalls, as I
had called them, were a blue dress. And the woman, a little dark thing
with earrings, stood there with her poor, torn lace curtain and her tin
can with a geranium all wilted down.

"Mercy!" says Mis' Sykes, shuddering. "A woman down here!"

But I was looking at that woman. And I saw she wasn't listening to what
some of the Flat women were saying to her. She had her head up and back
as if she was listening to something else. And now she began moving
through the crowd, and now she began running, straight to where all of
us stood and Mis' Sykes was trying to hush the crying child.

The next second Mis' Sykes was near knocked down by the wildness and the
strength of that little dark thing who threw herself on her and grabbed
the baby.

Speaking Greek, speaking Hebrew, and Hittite, and Amalekite, and the
tongues of Babylon at the confusion and the last day--for all we knew,
these were what that woman was speaking. We couldn't make more head nor
tail out of what she was saying than we had of the baby. But we could
understand without understanding. It was in her throat, it was in her
tears, it was in her heart. She cried, she sunk down to the ground,
kissing that baby. He put out his hands and went right to her, laughing
in the midst of the crying--oh, I've heard a baby laugh in its tears
when it saw its mother, but this one was the best. And he snuggled up
close, while she poured all over him them barbarous accents. But he knew
what she said, and he said them back. Like before our eyes the alphabet
of vermicelli had begun spelling words.

Then a man come running--I can see now that open collar, that face
covered with stubble, those great eyes under their mass of tangled hair,
the huge, rough hands that he laid about the baby's shoulders. And they
both began talking to us, first one and then both, asking, looking,
waiting for us to reply. Nobody replied. We all looked to Mis' Sykes to
see what she could think of, as we always do in a village emergency.

But it wasn't Mis' Sykes that could help us now. It was the Flat folks.
It was them that could understand. Half a dozen of them began telling us
what it was they said. It seemed so wonderful to see the folks that we
had never paid attention to, or thought they knew anything, take those
tangled sounds and unravel them for us, easy, into regular, right-down
words.

It seems the family had got to Friendship Village night before last,
him to work on the sewer and his wife to cook for the men in the bunk
cars. There were five other little folks with them--sure enough, there
they were now, all flocking about her--and the oldest girl had somehow
lost the baby. Poor souls, they had tried to ask. But he knew that he
must dig and she must cook, and there was not much time for asking, and
eight weeks in this country was all that they had and hardly three words
of English. As for asking the law, they knew the law only as something
that arrests you.

We were all there in a bunch by that time, everybody making signs to
everybody, whether anybody could understand or not. There was something
about those two, with our little chap in the midst of them, that sort of
loosened us all up. We all of us understood so thorough that we pretty
near forgot the fire.

By then it had most died down anyhow, and somebody started to move back
up-town.

"The hall, the hall!" says Mis' Toplady to us. "Have 'em all go up to
the Post-office Hall. Spread it, spread it!"

We did spread it, to go up there and see what we could do for the
burned-out folks, and incidentally finish the peace celebration.

Up there in Post-office Hall the lights were all on, just as we'd left
them, and there was kind of a cozy feel of supper in the air.

"Look here," says Mis' Toplady, "there's quarts of coffee hot on the
back of the stove and a whole mountain of sandwiches--"

"Let's," I says. And we all begun to do so.

We all begun to do so, and I begun to do something more. I'd learned
quite a little from seeing them there in the hall and kitchen that
afternoon, the Swensons and Poulakis and Amachis and the rest. And now
here were these others, from the bunk cars,--big, beautiful eyes they
had, and patient looks, and little bobbing curtsies, and white teeth
when they smiled. I saw them now, trying to eat and behave the best they
knew how, and back of them the Foreign booth, under the Foreign flag.
And what I begun to have to do, was to get in over behind that Foreign
Booth and wipe up my eyes a little.

Once I peeked out. And I happened to see the sheriff going by. He was
needed, like Mis' Sykes told him he might be, but not the same, either.
He was passing the sugar and cream.

What brought me out finally was what I heard Mis' Sykes saying:

"Ladies," says she, "let's us set her up there in the middle of the
Foreign Booth, with her little boy in her lap. That'll be just the
finishing foreign touch," says she, "to our booth."

So we covered a chair with foreign flags, promiscuous, and set her
there. Awful pretty and serious she looked.

"If only we could talk to her," says Mis' Sykes, grieving. "Ladies, any
of you know any foreign sentences?"

All any of us could get together was terra cotton and delirium tremens.
So we left it go, and just stood and looked at her, and smiled at her,
and clucked at the little boy, and at all her little folks that come
around her in the booth, under the different flags.

"We'll call her Democracy!" says Marne Holcomb, that often blazes up
before the match is lit. "Why not call her the Spirit of Democracy, in
the newspaper write-up?"

With that Mis' Sykes kind of stopped winking and breathing, in a way she
has.

"My land," she says, "but _s'pose he's an enemy baby and she's his enemy
ma_?"

There hadn't one of us thought of that. For all we had made out, they
might be anything. We got hold of Mis' Poulaki and Mis' Amachi, hot
foot.

"Ast her what she is," we told them. "Ast her what country it is she
comes from."

"Oh," says Mis' Poulaki, "that we know already. They're
Lithuanians--that is what they are."

Lithuanians. Where was it? Us ladies drew together still more close.
Was Lithuanians central power or was it ally? Us ladies ain't so very
geographical, and not one of us knew or could make out.

"Say," says Mis' Toplady finally, "shut up, all of us. If it gets around
for folks to wonder at--Why, my land," she says, "their bunk car's
burned up anyhow, ain't it? Let's us shut up."

And so we done. And everybody was up around the Foreign Booth. And the
Friendship Village booth was most forgot.

All of a sudden, somebody started up "America." I don't know where
they'd learned it. There aren't so very many chances for such as these
to learn it very good. Some of them couldn't say a word of it, but they
could all keep in tune. I saw the side faces of the Flats folks and the
bunk car folks, while they hummed away, broken, at that tune that they
knew about. Oh, if you want to know what to do next with your life, go
somewhere and look at a foreigner in this country singing "America,"
when he doesn't know you're looking. I don't see how we rest till we get
our land a little more like what he thinks it is. And while I was
listening, it seemed as if Europe was there in the room.

It was while they were singing that the magic began to work in us all. I
remember how it started.

"Oh," says Mis' Toplady, "ladies! Think of that little boy, and the
other folks, living in those bunk cars. Don't it seem as if, while
they're here, us ladies could--"

"Don't it?" I says.

"And the little skinny ones down on the Flats," Mis' Toplady whispers
pretty soon. "Can't some of us teach them women how to feed them better
and cost no more?"

"And take care of them when they're sick," says Mame Holcomb. "I
shouldn't wonder if they die when they don't need to, all day long."

We see ideas gathering back of one another's eyes. And all of a sudden I
thought of something else. "Ladies," I says, "and get sewerage down
there on the Flats! Don't it belong there just exactly as much as in the
residence part?"

Us ladies all looked at each other. We'd just taken it for granted the
Flats shouldn't have sewerage and should have the skeptic tank.

"Say," says Mis' Toplady, "it don't look to me like we'd have a very
hard time knowing what to do with ourselves, now this war is over."

"The mornings," says Mame Holcomb, "when we use' to wake up, crazy to
start in on something--it looks to me like they ain't all through with
yet!"

"The meetings," says Mis' Toplady, "when Baptists and Catholics and
Elks--"

Mis' Sykes was listening. It ain't very often that she comes down off
her high horse, but when she does, I tell you she lands hard.

"Ladies!" she says. "It was me that was talking about beginning to knit
for another war. Why didn't you shut me up and bolt the door?"

FOOTNOTE:

[2] Copyright, _Good Housekeeping_, June, 1919.



THE STORY OF JEFFRO[3]


_When I have told this story of Jeffro, the alien, some one has always
said:_

"_Yes, but there's another side to that. They aren't all Jeffros._"

_When stories are told of American gentleness, childlike faith,
sensitiveness to duty, love of freedom, I do not remember to have heard
any one rejoin:_

"_Yes, but Americans are not all like that._"

_So I wonder why this comment should be made about Jeffro._


I

When Jeffro first came knocking at my door that Spring morning, he said
that which surprised me more than anything that had been said to me in
years. He said:

"Madam, if you have a house for rent--a house for rent. Have you?"

For years nobody had said that to me; and the little house which I own
on the Red Barns road, not far from the schoolhouse, was falling in
pieces because I never could get enough ahead to mend it up. In the
road in front of it there was a big hole that had never been filled in.
And the house only had two rooms anyway--and a piece of ground about as
big as a rug; and the house was pretty near as old as the ground was.

"Land," I says, "man, you don't want to rent that house?"

He smiled, nice and wrinkled and gentle, and said yes, he did; and
nothing that I, as my own real estate agent, could say discouraged him.
Even when I'd whipped off my kitchen apron and found the key to the
little house in my button-box, and had gone down the road with him to
look the house over, and let him see what it was like, he insisted that
he wanted to rent it. And so in the end he done: at four dollars a
month, which wasn't much more than, by rights, the sale price should
have been.

"I do little things to this house," said Jeffro. "I make little change
for good. I have some handy with a hammer."

I remember turning back a ways from the house, and seeing him standing
there, with his hands behind him, looking at the house as if it _was_
something, and something of his.

When I got home and was up in the garret hunting up the three green
paper shades for his windows, it come to me that I hadn't asked him for
any references, and that for all I knew he might be going to counterfeit
money or whisky or something there on the premises. But anybody'd known
better than that just to look at Jeffro's face. A wonderful surprised
face he had; surprised, but believing it all too, and trusting the good.
A brown face, with big, brown eyes, and that wrinkled smile of his. I
like to think about him.

After a few days I went over with the shades, and he'd got a few pieces
of furniture there, setting round, loose and unattached. And on a big
basket of stuff was sitting a little boy, about eight years old.

"That's Joseph," says Jeffro, simple. "We are the two that came."

Then he told me. In "the old country" his wife and two little ones were
waiting till he could earn money to send back for them.

"I thought when I had thes' little follow here," he said, "I could work
then more easy. He don't eat but little," he added.

"But how," says I, "are you expecting to earn all that money out of
Friendship Village--where folks saves for years to put on a new stoop?"

At this he smiled, sort of knowing. And he pointed to a poster over his
wood-box. It was printed in Yiddish, all but the words "United States";
but the picture--that was plain enough. It showed a mill on one side of
the street, and a bank on the other. And from the mill a stream of
workingmen, with bags of money on their backs, were streaming over
toward the bank.

"That was put up on my cow-shed at home," said Jeffro. "I have brought
it. But I have no trade--I can not earn money fast like those. I make
the toys."

He threw open the door into the only other room of the house. In it was
piled dozens of boxes, and some broad shelves to be put up, and a table
was covered with colored stuff. "Then I go up to the city and sell,"
said he. "It is only five miles. But I can not live there--not with
thes' boy. I say, 'I vill find some little cheap place out in the
country for us two.' So then I come here. I am now in America five
weeks," he added, proud.

"Five weeks!" says I. "Then where'd you learn to talk American?"

"I have study and save' for six-seven years, to be ready," said Jeffro,
simple. "Now I come. Next year I think I send for them."

All day long those words of his kept coming and ringing in my ears. And
it kind of seemed to me that in them was a great chorus--a chorus of
thousands going up that minute, and this minute, and all the time, all
over America:

"Now I come. Next year I think I send for them."

And I says to myself: "What's America going to do for him? What's
America going to do to him? What are we going to do to him? And what is
he going to do for us?"

Well, the story of the first few weeks of Jeffro's in Friendship
Village is for me a kind of window set in the side-wall of the way
things are.

One morning, a little before nine o'clock, I had to go to the
schoolhouse to see Miss Mayhew. When I went by Jeffro's I didn't see
anything of him, but when I got along by the schoolhouse grounds, there
I saw him, leaning on the fence under the locust-tree.

"Good morning, Mr. Jeffro," I says. "Do the children bother you down to
your house with their noise? That's one reason my house used to be so
hard to rent, it was so close by the schoolhouse."

His face, when he turned to me, startled me.

"Bother me!" he said, slow. "Every day I come across to look at them
near. To see them--it is a vonder. Thes' big building, thes' big yard,
thes' children that do no vork, only learn, learn. And see--Joseph is
there. Over by the swing--you see him? He learn, too--my Joseph--I do
not even buy his books. It is free--all free. I am always vatching them
in thes' place. It is a vonder."

Then one night, when he had been there about two weeks, Jeffro's house
caught fire. A candle that he used for melting his wax tipped over on
his toy shavings and blazed up. Timothy Toplady, driving by, heard him
shout, and galloped into town for the department, and they went tearing
out Red Barns way soon after Jeffro had the fire put out. He was making
toys again when the fire-engine drew up at his gate, and the men came
trampling up to his porch, wanting the blaze pointed out to them. Bud
Miles, that's in the department, told me how Jeffro stood in the door
bowing to them and regretting the trouble he'd made, and apologizing to
them for not having any fire ready for them to put out.

And the next day Jeffro walked into the engine house and asked the men
sitting round with their heels up how much he owed them.

"For what?" says they.

"For putting down my fire," Jeffro says. "That is, for coming to put it
down if I had one."

The men stared at him and burst out laughing. "Why nothing," they said.
"That don't cost anything. That's free."

Jeffro just stood and looked at them. "Free?" he said. "But the big
engine and the wagons and the men and the horses--does nobody pay them
to come and put down fires?"

"Why, the town does," they told him. "The town pays them."

He said eagerly: "No, no--you have not understood. I pay no taxes--I do
not help that way with taxes. Then I must pay instead--no?"

They could hardly make him understand. All these big things put at his
service, even the town fire-bell rung, and nothing to pay for it. His
experience with cities was slight, in any case. He went off, looking
all dazed, and left the men shouting. It seemed such a joke to the men
that it shouldn't be all free. It seemed so wonderful to Jeffro that it
should.

He hadn't gone half a block from the engine-house when he turned round
and went back.

"The gentlemen have not understood," he said. "I am not yet a citizen. I
have apply for my first papers, but I am not yet a citizen. Whoever is
not citizen must pay for this fire attention. Is it not so?"

Then they shouted again. Think of stopping to find out whether a man was
a citizen before they put his fire out! Everybody in Friendship Village
was telling that to each other for weeks, and splitting their sides over
it.

Less than a couple of weeks afterward Jeffro got a letter from home,
from his wife. Postmaster Silas Sykes handed it out to him when Jeffro
come in the post-office store for some groceries, and when he started to
pay for the groceries Jeffro says:

"How much on the letter?"

"Why, they's nothing due on that," says Silas, squinting at it over the
sugar-barrel.

"But thes' is only old country stamp on here," said Jeffro. "It is not
enough for all this way in America too?"

Silas waved his hand at him like the representative of the gover'ment
he was. "Your Uncle Sam pays for all that," says he.

Jeffro looks at him a minute, then he says: "Uncle Sam--is that, then, a
person? I see the pictures--"

"Sure, sure," says Silas, winking to Timothy Toplady that stood by.
"Uncle Sam takes grand care of us, you bet."

"I am not yet a citizen," Jeffro insisted. "I have apply for my first
papers--"

"Go 'long," says Silas, magnificent. "Do you s'pose Uncle Sam bothers
himself about that? You belong to his family as soon as you strike
shore."

Timothy Toplady told me about it. "And," says he, "do you know that man
went out of the store looking perfectly queer! And kind of solemn."

All these things begun to open my eyes. Here, all my life, I'd been
taking things for granted. My school-days, the fire-engine,
postage-stamps, and all the rest, I'd took for granted, just like this
generation is taking for granted aëroplanes. And all of a sudden now, I
see how they were: not gifts to me, but powers of the big land. I'd
always thought of a village as a person. But a Big Land--that had powers
too! And was developing more as fast as its folks would let it.

And it was wonderful consoling. It helped me over more than I can tell.
When Silas Sykes give light measure on my sugar and oatmeal, thinks I:

"Well, you're just a little piece of the Big Land's power of
business--and it ain't grown yet. It's only just growing."

And when the Friendship Village Married Ladies' Cemetery Improvement
Sodality--that's just the name of it and it works at more things than
just cemetery--when it had spent five years studying our gover'ment, and
then turned around and created an executive board whose reports to the
Society of Forty had to be made unanimous--I says to myself:

"Well, the club's just a little piece of the Big Land's power of
democracy, and it ain't grown yet. It's only just growing."

And when the Friendship Village chapter of the Daughters of the American
Revolution refused to leave us ladies borrow their copy of the American
flag because they reverenced it so hard they were afraid it would get
tore, I says to myself:

"But it's just a little scrap of the Big Land's power of patriotism to
the universe, and it ain't grown yet only just to one country--and not
entirely to that."

And it made me see things intimate and tender. And it was Jeffro that
did that for me.

That summer he come to kind of belong to the town, the way a hill or a
tree does, only lots more so. At first, folks used to call him "that Jew
peddler," and circus day I heard Mis' Sykes saying we better lock up our
doors during the parade, because we didn't know what "that foreigner"
might take it in his head to do.

"Mis' Sykes," says I, "where were your mother and father born?"

"New York state," says she, like the right answer.

"And their folks?" I went on.

"Massachusetts," says she, like she was going to the head now sure.

"And _their_ folks?" I continued, smooth. "Where'd _they_ come from?"

Mis' Sykes began to wobble. "Well," says she, "there was three brothers
come over together--"

"Yes," I says, "I know. There always is. Well, where'd they come from?
And where'd their folks come from? Were they immigrants to America, too?
Or did they just stay foreigners in England or Germany or Scandinavia or
Russia, maybe?" says I. "Which was it?"

Mis' Sykes put on her most ancestral look. "You can ask the most
personal questions, Calliope," she began.

"Personal," says I. "Why, I dunno. I thought that question was real
universal. For all we know, it takes in a dozen nations with their blood
flowing, sociable, in with yours. It's awful hard for any of us," I
says, "to find a real race to be foreign to. I wouldn't bet I was
foreign to no one," says I, "nor that no one was foreign, for certain,
to me."

"I shall lock my door circus day, just the same," says Mis' Sykes.

"Do," says I. "Circuses is likely to be followed up by hoodlums. And
I've known them to be native-born, now and again."

But after a while, in spite of his being a foreigner, most everybody got
to like Jeffro. You couldn't help it--he was so patient and ready to
believe. And the children--the children that like your heart--they all
loved him. They would follow him along the curb, and he'd set down and
show them his pack--time and again I've come on him in a shady
side-street opening his pack for them. And sometimes when he had a new
toy made, he'd walk up to the schoolhouse a-purpose to show it to them,
and they'd all crowd round him, at recess.

On account of that, the children's folks took to noticing him and
speaking to him. And folks done little things for him and for Joseph.
Abigail Arnold, that keeps the home bakery, she had him make a wooden
bridal pair for the top of the wedding-cake she keeps permanent in her
show window; Mis' Timothy Toplady had him do little odd jobs around
their place, and she'd pay him with a cooked chicken. He'd show most all
of us the picture of his little young wife and the two children--

"I declare," says Mis' Toplady, kind of wondering, "since I've seen the
picture of his wife and babies he don't seem to me much more foreign
than anybody else."

I happened over to Jeffro's one morning with a loaf of my brown bread
and a half a johnny-cake. He seemed to know how to cook pretty well, but
still I felt more or less sorry for him and the little boy, and I used
to take them in a thing or two less than half occasionally. When I
stepped up to the door that night I heard him singing--he used to sing
low, funny songs while he worked. And when he opened the door for me,
all of a sudden he blushed to the top of his face. And he bowed his
funny, stiff way, and says:

"Vell, I see I blush like boys. It is because I was singing a
little--vat-you-call, lull'by. Ven I make the toys I am always thinking
how little children vill go to sleep holding vat I make, and sometimes I
put in lull'bies, in case there is no mother to sing them."

That was like Jeffro. I mention it because Jeffro was just like that.

I'd set down the bread and the johnny-cake, and he'd thanked me--Jeffro
always thanked folks like he'd just been give a piece of new life with
every kindness--and I dunno but he had--I dunno but we all have; and I'd
started to go, when he says hesitating:

"I have vanted to ask you thes': If I vork at that bad place in the road
in front--if I bring sand from the hill behind, what I can, and fill in
that hole, slow, you know--but some every day--you would not mind?"

"Mind?" says I. "Why, my, no. But it's part the village's business to do
that. You're in the village limits, you know. It'd ought to been done
long ago."

"The village?" said he. "But it is your place. Why should the village
fix that hole?"

"It's the village's business," I told him, "to keep the streets good.
Most of them do it pretty lackadaisical, but it's their business to do
it."

His face lit up like turning up the wick. "_Nu!_" he cried. "So I vill
do. I thought it vould be you I am doing it for, and I vas glad. But if
it is the village, then I am many times more glad of that."

It wasn't much of a compliment to a lady, but I thought I see what he
meant.

"Why are you glad, Mr. Jeffro," I says, to make sure, "that it's the
village?"

"It does all the things for me," he says, simple. "The fire-engine, the
post-office--even the telephone is free to me in the village. So it is
America doing this for me; for thes' village, it belongs to America.
There is no army that I go in or pay to keep out of--there are no
soldiers that are jostling me in the streets--they do not even make me
buy and put up any flag. And my little Joseph, all day long he is
learning. And the people--here they call me 'Mr.' All is free--free. For
all thes' I pay nothing. And now you tell me here is a hole that it is
the village business to fill up. It is the business of America to fill
up that hole! Vell, I can make that my business, for a
little--what-you-say--_pay-back_."

It was awful hard to know what to say. I wonder what you'd have said? I
just stood still and kept still. Because, if I'd known what to say, it
would have been pretty hard, just then, to say it anyway.

"It is a luck for the folks," he said, "that their own vork lets them
make some paying back. My toys, they don't pay back, not very much. I
must find another vay."

He followed me out on the stoop.

"There is von thing they vill let me do after a vile, though," he said,
with a smile. "In America, I hear everybody make von long, strong
groaning about their taxes. Those taxes, ven vill they come? And are
they so very big, then? They must be very big to pay for all the free
things."

"Why, Mr. Jeffro," I said, "but you won't have any taxes."

"But I am to be a citizen!" he cried. "Every citizen pays his taxes."

"No," I told him. "No, they don't. And unless you own property or--or
something," says I, stumbling as delicate as I could, "you don't pay
any taxes at all, Mr. Jeffro."

When I made him know that sure, he lifted his arms and let them drop;
and he come on down the path with me, and he stood there by the syringa
bush at the gate, looking off down the little swelling hill to where the
village nestled at the foot. School was just out, and the children were
flooding down the road, and the whole time was peaceful and spacious and
close-up-to, like a friend. We stood still for a minute, while I was
thinking that; and when I turned to Jeffro, he stood with the tears
running down his cheeks.

"To think there is such a place," he said reverently. "And me in it. And
them going to be here." Then he looked at me like he was seeing more
than his words were saying. "I keep thinking," he said, "how hard God is
vorking, all over the earth--and how good He's succeeded here."

Up to the gate run little Joseph, his school-books in his arms. Jeffro
put both hands on the boy.

"Little citizen, little citizen," his father said. And it was like one
way of being baptized.


II

When I was a little girl, a cardinal bird came one summer and nested in
our yard. They almost never come so far north, and I loved him like a
friend. When autumn came, the other birds all went, but he didn't go.
And one day, in the first snow and high wind, he was storm-beaten into
our little porch, and we caught him. We dare not let him go, in the
cold. So we kept him until he died. I shall never forget the change that
the days made. I cannot bear to tell or to think about the change in him
that the days made. That is why I will never have about me a caged
thing, bird or beast or spirit. The cardinal helped me to understand. I
wonder if the death of any beauty or any life is as much Nature's will
as we still think it is....

This is why I shrink from telling what next happened to Jeffro--what I
knew must happen to him if he came here and lived the life of his
kind--of my kind. Lived it, I mean, with his eyes open. There are plenty
who live it and never know anything about it, after all. But Jeffro
would know. He had seeing eyes, and his heart was the heart of a child,
and his face was always surprised--surprised, but believing it all too,
and trusting the good. He trusted the good just as you and I did, in the
beginning. Just as you and I do, in the end. But in between the two
trusts there comes a black time; and if it hasn't come to you, then you
don't know the Big Land; and you don't see what's going on in it; and
you haven't questioned where it's all going to lead. As, after a while,
Jeffro questioned it.

All summer he worked at his toys, and all the autumn. But when winter
began to come, the little house was hard to heat. The roof was decayed,
the windows were shrunken, the floor was in a draft from all four
directions; and I didn't have the money to make the house over--which
was just about what it needed. I offered to rent him and the little boy
a room in my house, and to let him do his work there; but it was far for
the little fellow to go to school. And just then came the Offer.

A man from a mining town in the next state gave Jeffro a chance to go
there with him, and he'd give him work in the mines all winter. Jeffro
listened, and heard about the good pay, and the plain, hearty food, and
the chance to get ahead; and Miss Mayhew said she'd keep the little boy;
and Jeffro thought about the cold little house, and feeding himself all
winter, and about standing on street corners with his pack; and there
was Miss Mayhew's nice, warm house and woman-care for the little boy.
And in the end Jeffro went. I told him to leave his things in the little
house and I wouldn't charge him rent, which it wasn't worth it.

The night before he started he come round to my house to say good-by. He
thanked me, so nice, for what I'd done, off and on. And then he pulled
something out of his pocket.

"Look!" he said. "It is from the National Bank. It is my bank-book--the
proofs that I have money there. Here is my checker book," said he. "You
know how these things go. See that!" His eyes got big and deep. "They
give me credit--and thes' two books," he said. "And they vill give me
interest on thes' little money. It vill make money for me vile I am
gone. It is a vonder. I ask' them vat there is to pay for this chance,
and the man laughed. And see--all the vile I am gone, Joseph vill be
learning free. I pay no more than his little board. It is a vonder."

He showed me the entry, thirty-seven dollars, his summer's savings. He
had had to keep back the amount of his fare.

"The ticket is much," he said, "but thes' vay I can save enough by
spring so they can come. They can live in your little house--oh, it is a
plenty room. Ve shall have a little garden--as big as Joseph's plate!
She vill keep a little coop of chickens--"

So he ran on with his happy planning. I remember how he looked when he
left my house that night--his two books tightly clasped, his shoulders
back, his head full of dreams, his face sort of held up to the stars. I
never saw him that way again.

It was a long winter. It's strange how the calendar sets down winter as
just being three months when everybody that's lived through one knows
how it's either long or short and never, never clipped right off at the
three months, same as the almanac would have you believe. This one was
long, and it was white, and it was deep. It kept me shoveling coal and
splitting kindling and paying for stove-wood and warming my feet, and
it seemed to me that was pretty near all I did do those months. It's
surprising and it's discouraging how much of our lives goes along just
doing the little fussy things necessary to keep a-going, that you can't
count in on just pure, sheer living.

"Eight hours for work, eight hours for sleep, and eight hours for
exercise," they used to tell me; and I used to think: "Yes, but what
about just messing-round?" That don't get itself counted in at all, and
that just eats up time by the dialful. And I think, if you look close,
that one of the things we've got to learn is how to do less of the
little hectoring, wearing messing-round, and to do more of the big,
plain, real, true, unvarnished living--like real work, and real play,
and real talk, and real thinking. And fewer little jobs--fewer little
jobs.

But after a while the winter got done, and early April came--a little
faint green down below, a little fine gold up above, and a great wide
wash of pale blue at the top; Spring in three layers.

I'd been often to see Joseph, and he was well, and in the reader ahead
of the reader a boy of his age would naturally have been in. He had had
several short letters from his father, and I was looking to have one of
them say when we might expect him, but none of them did.

Then in April no letter came. We thought it meant that he'd be home.
I'd been over and cleaned the little house. And then when April was
almost to a close, and he hadn't come yet, I saw it would be too late
for his garden, so I planted that--a few vegetables, and a few flowers,
and a morning-glory or two over the stoop. And I laid in a few canned
things in his cupboard, so's he would have something to start in on.

May came, and we wondered. Then one day there was a letter in a strange
writing. Jeffro was in the hospital, it said, and he wanted to send word
that he was all right and would send a letter himself in a little while.
That was all that it told us.

Everybody in Friendship Village remembers that spring, because it was
the year the bank closed down. Nobody knew the reason. Some day, when
the world gets really to going, one of the things they'll read about in
musty books and marvel over will be the things we call panics. They'll
know then that, put simple, it's just another name for somebody's greed,
dressed up becoming as Conditions. We're beginning now to look at the
quality of the clothes Conditions dress in, and we're finding them
pretty poor quality sometimes, and cut awful old-fashioned, and the dye
rubs off. But in those days, all we knew was that the bank had
"suspended payment."

"But what's that mean--'suspended payment?'" I says to Silas Sykes that
told me. "You can't suspend your debts, can you? I never could."

"It means," Silas says, "that they'll never pay a cent on the dollar.
That's what it means."

"But," I says, "I don't understand. If I owe you ten dollars, I can't
put down my curtain and suspend _that_ payment, _can_ I?"

"Well, you ain't banks," says Silas. "And banks is."

I was walking away and thinking it over, when I stopped stock-still in
the street. The National Bank--it was the National Bank that Jeffro had
his thirty-seven dollars in.

I felt as if I had to do something for him, then and there. And that
afternoon I took my trowel and went up to his little place, and thought
I'd dig round some in the garden that was coming up, gay as a button.

When I stepped inside the gate, I looked up at the house, and I saw the
front door was open. "Land," I thought, "I hope they haven't stole what
little he had in there, too." And I stepped up to the door.

In the wooden chair in the middle of the floor sat Jeffro. His hat was
pulled down over his eyes, his legs were thrust out in front of him, one
of his arms was hanging down, and the other one was in a white sling.

"Mr. Jeffro--Mr. Jeffro!" I says. "Oh--what's the matter?"

He looked up, and his face never changed at sight of me, nor he never
got up or moved. And his look--well, it wasn't the look of Jeffro any
more than feathers have the look of a bird. But one thing I knew about
that look--he was hungry. I could tell that look anywhere, because I've
been hungry myself, with no food coming from anywheres.

I flew to the cupboard where I'd put in the few things, and in a jiffy I
had some soup heating and a box of crackers opened. I brought the bowl
to the table, all steaming and good-smelling, and he drew up there
without a word and ate with his hat on--ate like I never saw a man eat
before.

When he got through: "Tell me about it, Mr. Jeffro," I says. And he told
me.

It wasn't anything very new. Jeffro had been in the mines since the
first of November, and the first of January the strike had begun--the
strike against a situation that Jeffro drew for me that afternoon,
telling it without any particular heat, but just plain and quiet. He
told me how he had gone with some of the men to the house of one of the
owners to talk of settlement.

"I spoke out to him once," said Jeffro. "I said: 'Will _you_ tell me how
this is? They can not make me understand. America gives me free all the
things that I did not expect: The fire-engine, it takes no pay. My
little boy's school costs me not anything. When I come to this state I
have no passport to get, and they did not search me at the frontier. All
this is very free. But when we want more bread, and we are willing to
work for it all day long with our hands, you will not let us have more,
even then. Even when we pay with work. Will you tell me how this is?'"

Of all that the man had said to him, kindly enough, Jeffro understood
nothing. And he could speak the language, while many of the men in the
mines could not say one word of English.

"But they could strike in Russian and Polish and Lithuanian," Jeffro
said, "and they did."

Then came the soldiers. Jeffro told me about that.

"Ve vere standing there outside the Angel mine," he said, "to see that
nobody vent to vork and spoiled our hopes, ven somebody cried out: 'The
soldiers!' Many of the men ran--I did not know vy. Here was some of the
United States army. I had never seen any of the army before. I hurried
toward them, my cap in my hand. I saw their fine uniforms, their fine
horses, this army that was kept to protect me, a citizen, and vich I did
not have to pay. I stood bowing. My heart felt good. They had come to
help us then--free! And then somebody cried. 'He's one of the damned,
disorderly picketers. Arrest him!' And they did; and nothing I could say
vould make them understand. I vas in jail four days, but all those days
I thought it vas a mistake. I smiled to think how sorry they vould be
ven they found out they had arrested von they were paid to
protect--free."

He told me how there went on the days, the weeks, of the strike; hunger,
cold; the militia everywhere. The little that Jeffro had earned was
spent, dime by dime. He stayed on, hoping for the settlement, certain
that it would all be right as soon as everybody "understood."

"It vas this vay," he said laboriously. "Mine-owners and money and
militia vere here. Over here vere the men. Vrong vas done on both
sides--different kinds of vrong. The sides could not speak together
clear. No von understood no von."

Then a miner had resisted an officer who tried to arrest him, the
officer fired, and Jeffro had the bullet in his shoulder, and had been
locked up for being "implicated"--"I don't know yet vat they mean by
that long vord," Jeffro said--and had been taken to the courthouse and
later to the hospital. On his discharge, eight days ago, he had started
to walk home to Friendship Village.

"To-morrow," Jeffro said, "I vill get out from the bank my money--I have
not touched that--and send to her vat I have. It may be she has saved a
little bit. Somehow she vill come. To-morrow I vill get it, as soon as
the bank is open."

I knew I had to tell him--I knew I had to tell him right then. "Mr.
Jeffro--Mr. Jeffro," I said, "you can't. You can't get your money. The
bank's failed."

He looked at me, not understanding.

"Vat is that?" he said. "'Failed'--for a bank?"

"I don't know what it is," I told him. "It's something banks can do. You
never can tell when. And this one has done it."

"But," he cried, "vat do you mean? It vas the _National_ Bank! This
nation can not fail!"

"This much of it has," I says. "The bank's shut up tight. Everybody that
had money in it has lost it--unless maybe they pay back to each one just
a little bit."

He stood up then and looked at me as if I were strange. "Then this too,"
he says, "can happen in America. And the things I see all winter--the
soldiers to shoot you down?"

"No, no," I says. "You mustn't think--"

"I do not think," says Jeffro. "I know. I have seen. I am there ven it
happens. And more that I did not tell. In March a man came to me ven I
was hungry, and tried to buy my vote. Ven I understood, I struck him in
his face, just the same as if I have von. But I saw men sell their vote,
and laugh at it. And now I understand. You throw dust in our eyes, free
fire-engines, free letter-carriers, free this and free that, and all the
time somebody must be laughing somewhere at how it makes us fools. I
hate America. Being free here, it is a lie!"

And me, I set still, trying to think. I set looking at the
bright-colored poster that Jeffro had found on his cow-shed in the old
country, and I was trying to think. I knew that a great deal of what
he'd said was true. I knew that folks all over the country were waking
up and getting to know that it was true. And yet I knew that it wasn't
all the truth. That there was more, and that something had got to make
him know. But what was going to do that?

Faint and high and quite a ways off, I heard a little call. It wasn't
much of a call, but when another came and then another, it set my heart
to beating and the blood to rushing through me as though it was trying
to tell me something.

I stood up and looked. And up the street I saw them--running and
jumping, shouting little songs and laughing all the way--the children,
coming out of the Friendship Village schoolhouse, there at the top of
the hill. And in a minute it came over me that even if I couldn't help
him, there was something to do that mebbe might comfort him some, just
now, when he was needing it.

I stepped to the door, and up by the locust-tree I see Joseph coming. I
could pick out his little black head and his bobbed hair and his red
cheeks. And I called to him.

"Joseph, Joseph!" I says. "You come over here--and have the rest come
too!"

He came running, his eyes beginning to shine. And the others came
running and followed him, eager to know what was what. And up the road a
piece I see some more coming, and they all begun to run too.

Joseph ran in the gate ahead of everybody, and past me, and in at the
door that was close to the road. And he threw away his book, and ran to
his father, and flung both arms around his neck. And the rest all came
pressing up around the door, and when they see inside, they set up a
shout:

"It's the Present-man! It's the Present-man! He's back a'ready!"

Because I guess 'most every one of them there had had something or other
of Jeffro's making for Christmas. But I'd never known till that minute,
and neither had he, that they'd ever called him that. When he heard it,
he looked up from Joseph, where he stood holding him in his arms almost
fierce, and he come over to the door. And the children pressed up close
to the door, shouting like children will, and the nearest ones shook his
hand over Joseph's shoulder.

And me, all of a sudden I shouted louder'n they did: "Who you glad to
see come home?"

And they all shouted together, loud as their lungs: "_The Present-man!
The Present-man!_"

And then they caught sight of Miss Mayhew, coming from the school, and
they all ran for her, to tell her the news. And she came in the gate to
shake hands with him. And then in a minute they all trooped off down the
road together, around Miss Mayhew, one or two of them waving back at
him.

Then I turned round and looked at Jeffro.

"Why, they have felt--felt glad to see me!" he says, breathless. And
back to his face came creeping some of the old Jeffro look.

"Why, they are glad," says I. "We all are. We've missed you like
everything--trudging along with your toys."

Joseph wasn't saying a word. He was just snuggling up, nosing his
father's elbow, like a young puppy. Jeffro stood patting him with his
cracked, chapped hand. And Jeffro was looking down the road, far as he
could watch, after the children.

"I've got a little canned stuff there in the cupboard for your suppers,"
I says, not knowing what else to say. "And I stuck a few things in the
ground for you out there, that are coming up real nice--potatoes and
onions and a cabbage or two. And they's a little patch of corn that'll
be along by and by."

All of a sudden Jeffro turned his back to me and walked a few steps
away. "A garden?" he says, not looking round. "A little garden?"

"Kind of a one," I told him. "Such as it is, it's all right--what there
is of it. And Abigail Arnold," I says, "wants you should make her
another wooden bridal pair for the cake in the window--the groom to the
other one is all specked up. And I heard her say you could set some of
your toys there in her front case. Oh yes, and Mis' Timothy Toplady's
got a clucking hen she's been trying to hold back for you, and she says
you can pay her in eggs--"

I stopped, because Jeffro frightened me. He wheeled round and stood
looking out the door across the pasture opposite, and his lips were
moving. I thought maybe he was figuring something with them, and I kept
still. But he wasn't--he was thinking with them. In a minute he
straightened up. And his face--it wasn't brave or confident the way it
had been once, but it was saying a thing for him--a nice thing, even
before he spoke.

He came and put out his hand to me, round Joseph. "My friend," he says,
"I vill tell you what it is. Thes' is what I thought America was like."

Wasn't that queer, when I understood all he had hoped from America, and
all he hadn't found? A lump come in my throat--not a sad one though! But
a glad one. And oh, the difference in them lumps!


He went back to work at his toys again, and he began at the bottom, a
whole year after his first coming, to save up money to bring over his
wife and the little ones. And it wasn't two weeks later that I went
there one night and saw him out working on the hole in the road again.

"I work for you this time, though," he said, when he see I noticed.
"Thes' I do not for America--no! I do it for you and for thes' village.
No one else."

And I thought, while I watched him pounding away at the dirt:

"Anybody might think Friendship Village knows things America hasn't
found out yet--but of course that can't be so."

FOOTNOTE:

[3] Copyright, _Everybody's Magazine_, 1915.



WHEN NICK NORDMAN CAME BACK HOME


I was awful nervous about going up to meet Nick Nordman. It had been
near thirty years since I'd seen him, and he'd got so rich that one
house and one automobile weren't anything. He had about three of each,
and he frisked the world in between occupying them. Still, when he wrote
to me that he was coming back to visit the village, I made up my mind
that I'd be there to welcome him, being as we were boys and girls in
school together.

It was a nice October evening when I started out. When I came down
through town, I saw the council chamber all lit up, being it was the
regular meeting night. And sitting in there I saw Silas Sykes and
Timothy Toplady and Eppleby Holcomb and some more, smoking to heaven and
talking to each other while the mayor addressed them. I wondered, as I
went along, which of the thirteen hundred things we needed in the
village they were talking about. I concluded they were talking about how
to raise the money to do any one of them--some years away.

In the middle of town I came on Lucy Hackett. She was down buying her
vegetables; she always bought them at night, because then they give her
a good deal for her money and some cheaper. Lucy was forty-odd, with
long brown hair, braided round and round her head, crown after crown.
She was tall and thin, with long arms, but a slow, graceful way of
walking and of picking her way, holding up her old work skirt, that made
you think of a grand lady moving around. And she had lovely dark eyes
that made you like her anyway.

"Oh, Lucy," I says, "guess who I'm up here to meet--Nick Nordman."

She just stared at me. "Nick Nordman?" she says. "Coming _here_?"

"First time in twenty years," I says, and went off, with her face
a-following me, and me a-chiding myself energetic: What was the matter
with me to spring that onto her all of a sudden that way, and clean
forget that her and Nick used to keep company for a year or more before
he went off to town?

"Paper? Paper, Miss Marsh? As soon's we get 'em off the train?" says
somebody. And there I saw from four to six little boys, getting orders
for the city paper before the train had come in. But it was just
whistling down by the gas works, and I was so excited I dunno if I
answered them.

My gracious, what do you s'pose? On the back of the Dick Dasher
accommodation train--we called it that because Dick Dasher was the
conductor--came rolling in a special car, and a black porter bounced
off and set down a step, and out of the car got one lonely, solitary
man.

"Is that a show car hitched on there, or what?" I says to Mis' Sturgis,
that got off the train.

"That's what we was wondering," says she.

Dick Dasher, he was lifting off bundles of laundry and stuff that's
intrusted to him to bring home all along the line, and he heard me. "If
you're to meet somebody, that's the man-you're-looking-for's private
car," says he. "He's the only other one off here."

Land, there he was! As soon as I faced the man the porter had bowed off
the step, I knew him. Stockier, redder in the face, with blunt gray hair
and blunt gray mustache, and clothes that fit him like a label round a
bottle--sure as could be, it was him!

"Well, Nick!" I'd been going to say; but instead of it what I did say
was, "Is this Mr. Nordman?"

He lifted his hat in the hand with his glove on. "It's Calliope Marsh,
isn't it?" says he. "_I am_ glad to see you. Mighty good of you to meet
me, you know."

I don't know how it was, but the way he was and the way he spoke shut me
up tighter than a clamshell. It had never entered my head to feel
embarrassed or stiff with him until I saw him, and heard him being so
formal. My land, he looked rich and acted rich! The other women stood
there, so I managed to introduce them. "You meet Mis' Arnet. You meet
Mis' Sturgis. You meet Mis' Hubbelthwait," I says. "Them that was Hetty
Parker and Mamie Bain and Cassie White--I guess you remember them, don't
you?"

"Perfectly! Perfectly!" says he; and he done his heartiest, it seemed to
me. But to bow quite low, and lift his hat higher and higher to each
one--well, I dunno. It wasn't the way I thought it'd be.

"I thought we'd walk down," I says. "I thought mebbe you'd like to see
the town--" But I kind of wavered off. All of a sudden the town didn't
seem so much to me as it had.

"By all means," says he.

But just then there was above six-seven of them little boys found him.
They'd got their papers now and they were bound to make a sale. "Paper?
Buy a paper? Buy a newspaper, mister?" they says, most of them running
backward in their bare feet right in front of him.

"Sure," he says, "I'll buy a paper. Give me one of _all_ your papers.

"Now let's see," he says then. "Where's the pop-corn wagon?"

There wasn't any. None of the boys had ever heard of one.

"No pop-corn wagon? Bless me," he says, "you don't mean to say you don't
have a circus every year--with pop-corn wagons and--"

A groan broke out from every boy. "No!" they says in chorus. "Aw, it
ain't comin'. Pitcairn's wanted to show here. But the town struck 'em
for high license."

Mr. Nordman looked at the boys a minute. Then he rapped his cane down
hard on the platform. "It's a burning shame!" he says out, indignant and
human. "Ain't they even any ice-cream cones in this town?" he cries.

Oh, yes, there was them. The boys set up a shout. Mr. Nordman--he give
them a nickel apiece, and the next instant the platform was swept clean
of every boy of them. And him and me begun walking down the street.

"Bless me," he says. "What a nice little town it's grown! What a _very_
nice little town!" And the way he said it shut me right up again.

I dunno how it was, but this was no more the way I'd imagined showing
Nick Nordman over the village than anything on earth. I'd been going to
tell him about old Harvey Myers' hanging himself in the garret we were
then passing, but I hadn't the heart nor the interest.

Just as we got along down to the main block of Daphne Street, the
council meeting was out and Silas and Eppleby and Timothy Toplady and
the rest came streaming out of the engine house. Mis' Toplady and Mame
Holcomb were sitting outside, waiting for their husbands, and so of
course I marched Mr. Nicholas Nordman right up to the lot of them and
named them to him. Every one of them had known him over twenty years
before.

Off came the gray hat, and to each one of the ladies he bowed low, and
he says: "Delighted--_delighted_ to see you again. Indeed we remember,
don't we? And Timothy! Eppleby! Silas! I _am_ delighted."

Then there was a long pause. We all just stood there.

Then Silas, as the chief leading citizen, he clears his throat and he
says: "Do you--ah--remain long?" I don't know a better sample of what
Mr. Nicholas Nordman's manner done to us all. "_Remain!_" Silas never
said "remain" in his life before. Always, always he would, under any
real other circumstances, have said "stay."

The whole few minutes was like that, while we just stood there. And
perhaps it was like that most of all in the minute when it ought to have
been like that the least. This was when Mr. Nordman told a plan he had.
"I want you all," he said, "and a few more whom I well remember, to do
me the honor to lunch with me to-morrow in my car. We can have a fine
time to talk over the--ah--old days."

There was a dead pause. I guess everybody was figgering on the same
thing; finally Eppleby asked about it. "Much obliged," says he. "What
car?"

"My private car," says Mr. Nordman, "somewhere on the siding. You'll
recognize her. She's gray."

"Much obliged," "Pleased, I'm sure," "Pleased to come," says everybody.

And we broke up and he walked along with me. Halfway down the block, who
should I see ahead of me but Lucy Hackett. I never said anything till we
overtook her. When I spoke she wheeled and flushed up like a girl, and
put out her hand so nice and eager, and with her pretty way that was a
glad way and was a grand lady way too.

I says: "Mr. Nordman, you meet Miss Lucy Hackett, that I guess you can
remember each other."

He took off his hat and bowed. "Ah, Miss Lucy," says he, "this _is_ a
pleasure. How _good_ to see you again!"

"I'm glad to see you, too, Nick," she says, and walked along on the
inside of the walk with us, just _drooping_!

Yes, you might as well have tried to greet a fountain in full play as to
greet him. He invited her to come to his luncheon next day. She said she
would, with a nice little catch of pleasure in her tone; and he left her
at her gate, him bowing tremendous. And it was the same gate he used to
take her to when they were boy and girl....

He said the same kind of a formal good night to me at my gate; and I was
just going to go into my house, feeling sick and lonesome all rolled
into one, because there wasn't a mite of Nick Nordman about him at all;
but all of a sudden, like an explosion out of a clear sky and all points
of the earth, there came down onto us the most tremendous, outrageous
racket that ever blasted a body's ears. It seemed to come from sky,
earth, air and sea, at one and the same instants. And it went like this:


     S----s----s!
     Yow! Yow! Yow!
     Who's----all----right?
     Mr. N----o----rdm----a----n!


And then there was a great burst of yelling, and the whole seven boys
came dropping out of trees and scrambling up from under the fence, and
they ran off down the street, still yelling about him. Seems the
ice-cream cones had made a hit.

Then--just for one little minute--I saw the real Nick Nordman that I
remembered. His face broke into a broad, pleased grin, and he shoved his
hat onto the back of his head, and he slapped his leg so that you could
hear it. "Why," says he, "the durn little kids!"


We all dressed up in the best we had for the luncheon. Lucy Hackett come
for me. She had on a clean, pretty print dress, and she looked awful
nice.

"Oh, Lucy," I says to her right off, "ain't it too bad about Nick? He
ain't no more like he use' to be than a motor is like a mule."

Lucy, she flushed up instant. "I thought," says she, "he was real
improved."

"Land, yes, improved!" I says. "Improved out of all recognizing him."

She staggered me some by giving a superior smile. "Of course," she says,
"he's all city ways now. Of course he is."

Yes, of course he was. I thought of her words over and over again during
that lunch. His private car had a little table fitted in most every seat
and laid, all white, with pretty dishes and silver and flowers. Electric
fans were going here and there. The lights were lighted, though it was
broad day and broader. The porter, in a white coat, was frisking round
with ice and glasses. But, most magnificent of all, was Mr. Nicholas
Nordman, standing in the middle of the aisle in pure white serge.

"So pleased," says he. "So very pleased. Now this _is_ good of you all
to come."

I s'pose what we done was to chat; that, I figger, would be the name of
it. But when he set us all down to the little tables, four and four, a
deathlike silence fell on the whole car. It was hard enough to talk
anyhow. Add to that the interestingness of all this novelty, and not one
of us could work up a thing to say.

Mr. Nordman took the minister and Lucy Hackett and me to his table,
being we were all odd ones, and begun to talk benevolent about the
improvements that a little town of this size ought to have.

"I s'pose they have grand parks and buildings in the cities, Nick?" says
Lucy.

"Haven't you ever been to see them?" says he--oh, so kind!

"Never," says she. "But I've heard about them."

He sat staring out the car window across the Pump pasture, where the
shadows were all laying nice. "City life is intensely interesting," says
he. "Intensely so."

"As interesting as the time you stole Grandpa Toplady's grapes?" I says.
I couldn't help it.

He tapped on the table. "Let us be in order for a few minutes," he says.
He needn't of. We were in order already; we hadn't been anything else.
Nobody was speaking a word hardly. But everybody twisted round and
looked at him as he got onto his feet.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he says, and looked at us once round. "I have
summoned you here for a purpose. On this, the occasion of my first visit
back to my boyhood's home, I feel that I should--and, indeed, I most
earnestly desire to--mark the time by some small token. Therefore, after
some conversation about the matter during the forenoon, and much thought
before my coming, I have decided to set aside ten thousand dollars from
to-day to be used for your town in a way which a committee--of which I
hope that you, my guests of the day, will be appointed members--may
decide. For park purposes, playgrounds, pavements--what you will; I
desire to make this little acknowledgment to my native town, to this the
home of my boyhood. I thank you."

He set down and, after a minute, everybody burst out and spatted their
hands.

And then Silas Sykes, that is our professional leading citizen, got to
his feet and accepted in the name of the town. Some of the other men
said a little about the needs of the town; and Eppleby Holcomb, he got
up and proposed a toast to the host. And by that time, the sun had got
around considerable and it was blazing hot there on the side track, and
us ladies in our black silks begun to think, longing, of our side
piazzas and our palm-leaf fans.

We filed down the aisle and shook the hand of Mr. Nicholas Nordman and
thanked him, individual and formal, both for the lunch and the big gift,
and got out. But Lucy Hackett burst out talking, with the tears in her
eyes. "Nick!" she says. "Oh, Nick, it was wonderful! Oh, it was the most
wonderful time I ever had in my life--the luncheon with everything so
pretty--prettier'n I ever saw things before; and then the present to the
town. Ten thousand dollars! Oh, none of us can be happy and grateful
enough. And to think it's you that's done it, Nick--to think it's you!"

"Thank you, Miss Lucy," says he, "thank you; you are very good, I'm
sure."

But I noticed that he wasn't so much formal now as he was lifeless; and
I was wondering if he hadn't had a good time to his own luncheon party
or what, when I heard something out on the platform, and then there come
a-walking in a regular procession. It was all seven of the small boys
again, and from seven to fourteen more besides, done up clean, with
shoes on and here and there a collar.

"Is it time?" they says.

Nick Nordman stood with his hands in his pockets and grinned down on
them. And it came to me to be kind of jealous of the boys, because he
was with them just the way he ought to have been with us--and wasn't.
But he was going off that night, with his car to be hitched onto the
Through; and there wasn't any time for anybody to say any more, or be
any different. So Lucy and I said good-by to him and left him there with
the boys, dragging out together an ice-cream freezer into the middle of
the gray private car.

I'd just got the door locked up that night about nine o'clock, and was
seeing to the window catches before I went upstairs, when there come a
rap to my front door.

"Who's there?" says I, with my hand on the bolt.

"It's Nick Nordman, Calliope."

"Land!" says I, letting him in. "I thought you'd gone off hitched to the
Through."

"I was," he says, "but I ain't. I'm going to wait till five in the
morning. And I'm going to talk over something with you."

Sheer through being flabbergasted, I led him past the parlor and out
into the dining room and lit the lamp there. I'd been sewing there and
things were spread on every chair. Think of receiving a millionaire in a
place like that! But he never seemed to notice. He dropped right down on
the machine cover that was standing up on end. And he put his elbow on
the machine, and his head on his hand.

"Calliope," he says, "it ain't the way I thought it'd be. I wanted to
come back here," he says. "I been thinking about it and planning on it
for years. But it ain't like what I thought."

"Well," I says, soothing, "of course that's always the way when anybody
comes back. They's changes. Things ain't the same. Folks has gone
away--"

He cut me short off. "Oh," he says, "it ain't that. I expected that.
There were enough folks here. It's something else. When I went away from
here twenty years ago, I had just thirty-six dollars to go on. Now I've
come back, and I don't mind telling you that I've got not far from six
hundred thousand invested. Well, from the time I went off, I used to
plan how I'd come back some day, just about like I have come back, and
see folks, and give something to the town, and give a lunch like I did
to-day. I've laid awake nights planning it. And I liked to think about
it."

"Well," I says, "and you've done it."

He didn't pay attention. "You remember," he says, "how I used to live
over on the Slew with my uncle in the house that wasn't painted? He'd
got together a cow somehow, and I use' to carry the milk. I never owned
a pair of shoes till I was fifteen and earned them, and I never went to
school after I was twelve. And when I went to the city I begun at the
bottom and lived on nothing and went to night school and got through the
whole works up to pardner for them I used to sweep out for. When I got
my first ten thousand I thought: 'That's what I'm going to give that
little old town--when I get enough more.' Well, I've done it, and I
ain't got no more satisfaction out of it than if I'd thrown it in the
gutter. And that"--he looked at me solemn--"was," says he, "the
durndest, stiffest luncheon I ever et at."

"Well," I says, "of course--"

"When I think," he says, "of the way I planned it--with the men all
coming around me, and slapping me on the back, and being glad to see
me--"

"Oh, Nick!" I says. "Nick Nordman! _Was_ that what you wanted?"

He looked at me in perfect astonishment. "Why," says he, "ain't that
what anybody wants?"

I rose right up on my feet and I went over and put out my hand to him.
"Why, Nick," I says, "don't you see? We was afraid of you. _I_ was
afraid of you. I froze right up and give up telling you about folks
hanging themselves and all sorts of interesting things because I thought
you wouldn't care. Why, they don't know you care!"

"Don't know I care?" says he. "But ain't I showed 'em--ten thousand
dollars' worth?"

"Oh," I says, "that way! Yes, they know that way. In dollars they know;
but they don't know in feelings. It's them," I says, "that counts." I
set down by him, right on a pile of my new sewing. "Look here," I says,
"Nick Nordman, if that's the way you feel about coming back and about
the village, let's you and me fix up some way to make folks know you
feel that way."

His face lit up. "How?" says he, doubting.

I thought a minute. I don't know why it was, but all at once there
flashed into my head the way he had been with the boys, and the way the
boys had been to him; that was what he was wanting, and that was what
had been lacking, and that was what he didn't know how to make come. And
he was lonesome for it.

"It ought to be," says I, feeling my way in my own head, "some way
that'll make folks--Oh, Nick," I says, jumping up, "I know the very
thing!"


Pitcairn's Circus that wintered not twenty miles from us, and that had
got so big and successful that it hadn't been to Friendship Village
before in twenty years! And this year, when they'd wanted to come, the
council had put the license so high that they refused it. And yet, one
morning, we woke up to find the town plastered up and down with the big
flaming bill posters of Pitcairn's Circus itself. The town had all it
could do to believe in its own good luck. But there was no room to
doubt. There they were:


          BALLET OF TWELVE HUNDRED

     TREMENDOUS PAGEANT AND SPECTACLE OF
         ESTHER, THE BEAUTIFUL QUEEN
     MAGNIFICENT COSTUMES, REGAL WOMEN,
     GORGEOUS JEWELS, DIVERTING DANCERS,
            SOLOS AND ENSEMBLES

      *       *       *       *       *

         A HUNDRED TRAINED RIDERS,
      A HUNDRED ACROBATS, A HUNDRED
      ANIMALS FROM THE HEART OF THE
               WILD HILLS

     ANIMALS TRAINED--ANIMALS SAVAGE--
            ANIMALS WONDERFUL

         GIGANTIC STREET PARADE

            FREE! FREE! FREE!


The whole town planned to turn out. There was to be no evening
performance, and I schemed to have us all take our lunch--a whole crowd
of us--and go over to the Pump pasture right from the parade, and
spread it under the big maple, and see the sights while we et. I
broached it to Mis' Toplady and Timothy and Eppleby and Marne Holcomb
and Postmaster and Mis' Sykes, and some more--Mis' Arnet and Mis'
Sturgis and Mis' Hubbelthwait; and they, all of them, and Lucy and me,
fell to planning on who'd take what, and running over to each other's
houses about sweet pickles and things we hadn't thought of, and we had a
real nice old-fashioned time.

I'll never forget the day. It was one of the regular circus days, bright
and blue and hot. Lucy Hackett and I went down to see the parade
together; and we watched it, as a matter of course, from the window
where I'd watched circus parades when I was a little girl. The horses,
the elephants, the cages closed and the cages opened, the riders, the
bands, the clowns, the calliope--that I was named for, because a circus
with one come to town the day I was born--had all passed when, to crown
and close the whole, we saw coming a wagon of the size and like we had
not often beheld before.

It was red, it had flags, pennons, streamers, festoons, balloons.
Continually up from it went daylight firecrackers. From the sides of it
fell colored confetti. And it was filled, not with circus folks, dressed
gorgeous, but with boys. And we knew them! Laughing, jigging, frantic
with joy--we saw upward of a hundred Friendship Village boys. As the
wagon passed us and we stared after it, suddenly the clamor of shouting
inside it took a kind of form. We begun, Lucy and I, to recognize
something. And what was borne back to us perfectly clamorous was:


     S----s----s!
     Yow! Yow! Yow!
     Who's----all----right?
     Mr. N----o----rdm----a----n!


"What in time are they yelling?" says a woman at the next window.

"Some stuff," says somebody else.

Lucy and I just looked at each other. Lucy was looking wild. "Calliope,"
says she, "how'd they come to yell that--that that they said?"

"Oh, I dunno," I says serene; "I could yell that too--on general
principles. Couldn't you?" I says to her.

And Lucy blushed burning, rosy, fire red--on general principles, I
suppose.

We were all to meet at the courthouse with our lunches and go right out
to the Pump pasture. The tents were up already, flags were flying every
which way, and folks were running all over, busy.

"Like somebody was giving a party," I says.

Lucy never said a word. She'd gone along, kind of breathless, all the
way down. All us that know each other best were there. And we were dying
to get into each other's lunches and see what each other had brought.
So Jimmy Sturgis went to building fire for the coffee, and Eppleby went
off for water, and Silas Sykes, that don't like to do much work, he
says:

"Timothy, supposing we go along down and buy all our tickets and avoid
the rush?"

We let them go, and occupied ourselves spreading down the cloth, and
cutting up cake and veal loaf, and opening up pickles and jell. The
maple shade came down nice on the cloth, and appetizing little picnic
smells of potato salad and other things begun getting out around, and
the whole time was cozy and close up to. We were just disposing the
deviled eggs in a mound in the middle, when Silas Sykes and Timothy come
fair running up the slope.

"My dum!" says Silas. "They won't leave us buy no tickets. They say the
show is free."

"_Free!_" says most everybody but me in chorus.

"They say they ain't no ticket wagon, and they ain't going to be," says
Silas. "What you going to make out that?"

"Blisterin' Benson!" says Timothy Toplady. "What I think is this,
they're kidding us."

Lucy stood opening up a little bag she had.

"Here's one of the slips they threw round this morning," she says; "I
dunno--"

She had it out and we studied it. We'd all seen them blowing round the
streets, but nobody had paid any attention. She held it out and they
all stared at it:


            FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE
     IS INVITED TO COME TO THE CIRCUS
              THIS AFTERNOON
                  FREE
            NO TICKETS ON SALE
              FREE ADMISSION
                  FOR
           FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE


"My gracious," says Mis' Sykes, "I never heard of such a thing since the
world began."

"Land, land!" says Mis' Toplady. "But what does it _mean_?"

"What _does_ it mean?" says Silas Sykes. "What are we all being a party
to?"

"I guess it's _who_ are we being a party to, Silas," I says, mild.

They all looked at me. And then they looked where I was looking, and I
was looking at something hard. Coming out of the main tent was a mass of
struggling, wriggling, dancing humanity--little humanity--in short, the
boys that had rode in the big wagon. And walking in the midst of them
was a man.

At first not even I recognized him. He had his coat off, and his collar
was turned in, his hat was on the back of his head, and he was smiling
throughout his whole face, which was red.

"Look-at!" says I. "I guess that's who we're the party to--all of us."

"What do you _mean_?" Silas says again.

"I mean," says I, "that Nick Nordman's had this whole circus come here
to the village and give it to us free. And I say, let's us rush down
there and drag him up here to eat with us!"

It came to them so sudden that they all moved off like one man, and, as
we started together, not caring who stole the whole lunch that we left
laying idle under the tree, I turned and took a look at Lucy.

Land, she looked as I haven't seen her look in twenty years! Her head
was back, her eyes were bright, her face was bright, and she didn't know
one of us was there. She just went down the slope, running.

We came on him as he was distributing nickels destined for the peanut
man that had just got his wagon going, savory. Nick didn't see us till
we were right there, and then the nicest shamefaced look come over him,
and he threw the rest of the nickels among the boys and left them
scrambling, and met us.

"Nick Nordman! _Is_ this your doings?" Silas plumped it at him,
accusing.

"Gosh, no!" says Nick, grinning like a schoolboy. "It's the kids'
doin's."

And when a millionaire can say "Gosh" like he said it, you can't feel
remote from him. Nobody could. Oh, how we talked at him, all round, a
good many at a time. And I think everything there was to say, we said
it. Anyway, I can't think of any exclamation to speak of that we left
unexclaimed.

We all streamed up the slope, Silas near walking backward most of the
way to take in the full magnitude of it. We sat down round the potato
salad and the deviled eggs and the veal loaf, beaming. And it made a
real nice minute.

Oh, and it was no time till we got to living over the old days. And it
was no time till Timothy and Eppleby were rolling over, recalling this
and bringing back that. It was no time at all till every one of us was
back twenty-five to thirty years, and telling about it. And Lucy, that
I'd maneuvered should sit by Nick, I caught her looking across at me
kind of superior, and as if she could have told me, all the while, that
something or other was so!

"Let's us drink him a toast," says Timothy Toplady when we got through.
"Look-at here: To Nicholas Nordman, the big man of Friendship Village."

"Yes, sir!" says Silas Sykes. "And to Nicholas Nordman, that's give us
ten thousand dollars _and_ a circus!"

"No, sir!" says Eppleby Holcomb, sudden. "None of them things. Let's us
drink just to Nick Nordman, that's come back home!" He up with his hand,
and it came down on Nick Nordman's shoulder with a sound you could have
heard all acrost the grounds.

And as he did that, just for a fraction of nothing, Nick Nordman met my
eyes. And we both knew what we both knew.

Just then the band struck up, and the people were already pouring in the
pasture, so we scrabbled things up and all started for the tent. Nick
was walking with Lucy.

"Lucy," I heard him say, "you look near enough like you used to, for you
to be you!"

She looked like a girl as she answered him. "You _are_ you, Nick," she
says, simple and neat and direct.

And me--I walked along, feeling grand. I kind of felt what all of us was
feeling, and what everybody was going to feel down there in the big
tent, when they knew. But far, far more, I sensed the thing that Nick
Nordman, walking there with us, with about a hundred and fifty boys all
waiting to sit down side of him at his circus--the thing that Nick
Nordman had found out.

"God bless you, Calliope," says he, when he got a chance.

"Oh!" I says. "He has. He has! He's made folks so awful nice--when they
just let it show through!"



BEING GOOD TO LETTY[4]


"The poor little thing," says I. "Well, mustn't we be good to her?"

"Mustn't we?" says Mis' Fire Chief Merriman, wiping her eyes.

"Must we not?" says Mis' Silas Sykes--that would correct your grammar if
the house was on fire.

My niece's daughter Letty had lost her father and her mother within a
year, and she was coming to spend the summer with me.

"She's going to pick out the style monument she wants here in town," I
says, "and maybe buy it."

"Poor thing! That'll give her something to put her mind on," says Mis'
Sykes.

George Fred come in just then to fill my wood-box--his father was bound
he should be named George and his mother hung out for Fred, so he got
both onto him permanent. He was going to business college, and choring
it for near the whole town. He used to swallow his supper and rush like
mad from wood-box to cow all over the village. Nights when I heard a
noise, I never thought it was a burglar any more. I turned over again
and thought: "That's George Fred cutting somebody's grass." I never see
a man more bent on getting himself educated.

"George Fred," I says, "my grandniece Letty is coming to live with me.
She's lost her folks. I thought we'd kind of try to be good to her."

"Trust me," says George Fred. "My cousin Jed, he lost his folks too. I
can tell her about him."

The next day Letty came. I hadn't seen her for years. My land! when she
got off the train, I never saw plainer. She was a nice little thing, but
plain eyes, plain nose, plain mouth, and her hair--that was less than
plain. But she was so smiling and so gentle that the plain part never
bothered me a minute.

"Letty," says I, "welcome home." Mis' Merriman and Mis' Sykes had gone
to the depot with me.

"Welcome home, child," says Mis' Merriman, and wiped her eyes! Mis'
Merriman is human, but tactless.

"Welcome home, you poor thing," says Mis' Sykes, and she sniffed.
Everything Mis' Sykes does she ought to have picked out to do the way
she didn't.

But Letty, she took it serene enough. While we were getting her trunk,
Mis' Sykes whispered to me:

"Are you sure she's the right niece? She ain't got on a stitch of
mourning."

Sure enough, she hadn't. She wore a little blue dress.

"Like enough she couldn't afford it," says Mis' Merriman. And we
thought that must be it.

They were both to stay for supper, and they'd each brought a little
present for my niece. When she opened them, one was a black-edged
handkerchief and the other was a package of mixed flower-seeds to plant
next spring in her cemetery lot. Mis' Sykes and Mis' Merriman were both
ready to cry all the while she untied them. But Letty smiled, serene,
and thanked them, serene too, and put a pink aster from the table in her
dress, and said, couldn't we go out and look at my flowers? And we went,
Mis' Sykes and Mis' Merriman folding up their handkerchiefs and
exchanging surprised eyebrows.

At the back door we came, plain in the face, on George Fred, whittling
up my shavings.

"Two baskets of shavings, Miss Marsh, or one?"

"I guess," says I, "you'll earn your education better if you bring me in
two."

George Fred never smiled. "I ain't earning my education any more, Miss
Marsh," he says. "I've give it up. I can't make it go--not and chore
it."

"Then you can't be a bookkeeper, George Fred?" I says.

"I've took a job delivering for the post-office store."

"Tell me about it, won't you?" says Letty.

George Fred told her a little about it, whittling my shavings.

"There ain't enough cows and grass and wood-boxes in the village to
make it go, seems though," he ends up.

Then he rushed into the house with my stuff, and headed for the Sykes's
cow that we could hear lowing.

We talked about George Fred while we looked at the flowers, Letty all
interested in both of them, and then we came back and sat on the front
porch.

"Dear child," says Mis' Sykes, "wouldn't it be a comfort to you, now
that you're among friends, to talk about your folks? What was it they
died of? Was they sick long?"

Letty looked over to her, sweet and serene.

"Beautiful things happened while they were sick," she said. "A little
child across the street used to come every morning with a flower or a
fresh egg. Then there was an old man who picked every rose in his garden
and sent them in. And a club there hired a singer who was at the theater
to come and serenade them, just a few days before. Oh, so many beautiful
things happened!"

Mis' Sykes and Mis' Merriman sat still. This isn't the way we talk about
sickness in the village. We always tell symptoms and treatments and pain
and last words and funeral preparations, right up to the time the hearse
backs up to the door.

"She acts the queerest, to me, for a mourner," says Mis' Sykes, when she
went for her shawl.

Next morning we went down, Letty and me, to pick out the monument.
Letty, she priced them, and then she figured some on a card. Then she
walked over and priced some more things, and then she came out. I
s'posed she was going to think about it.

"Didn't she cry when she picked out the monument?" says Mis' Sykes to me
over the telephone that noon.

"I didn't see her," says I, truthful.

That night, after he got the last cow milked, I see George Fred, in his
best clothes, coming in our front gate. He was coming, I see, to do what
I said--help be good to Letty and cheer her up.

"Miss Letty," says he, "I know just how you feel. My cousin Jed, he lost
his folks a year ago. They took down with the typhoid, and they suffered
frightful--"

"I'm so sorry, Mr. Fred," says Letty.

I explained. "Fred," says I, "is his other front name. His final name is
Backus."

She colored up pretty, and went right on--it was curious: she hadn't
been with me twenty-four hours hardly, and yet she didn't look a bit
plain to me now.

"Mr. Backus," Letty says, "I've been thinking. Miss Marsh and I have got
a little money we're not using. Don't you want to borrow it, and keep on
at business college, and pay us back when you can?"

"Gosh!" says George Fred.

If I hadn't been aiming to be a lady, I dunno what I might have said
similar.

They talked about it, and then George Fred went off, walking some on the
ground and some in the air. "Letty!" says I, then, "where in this
world--"

"Why," says Letty, "I'm going to get just headstones instead of a
monument--and leave that boy be a bookkeeper instead of a delivery boy.
Father and mother--" it was the only time I heard her catch her breath
sharp--"would both rather. I know it."

Before breakfast next morning, I ran over to Mis' Sykes's and Mis'
Merriman's, and told them.

"Like enough she done something better than buy mourning, too," says
Mis' Merriman.

It was the first and only time in my life I ever see Mis' Silas Sykes's
eyes fill up with tears.

"Why, my land," she says, "she's _using_ her sorrow."

And all of a sudden, the morning and the world meant something more. And
Letty, that we were going to be so good to, had brought us something
like a present.

FOOTNOTE:

[4] Copyright, 1914, _Woman's Home Companion_.



SOMETHING PLUS[5]


I laid the letter up on the clock-shelf where I could see it while I did
my dishes. I needed it there to steady me. I didn't have to write my
answer till after dinner, because it wouldn't go out until the four
o'clock mail anyway. I kind of left the situation lie around me all the
morning so I could sense it and taste it and, you might say, be steeped
in it, and get so I could believe.

Me--a kind of guest housekeeper for six months in a beautiful flat in
the city--with two young married folks and a little baby to amuse myself
with, and the whole world sitting around me, expansive, and waiting for
me to enjoy it. It seemed as if the Golden Plan folks always think is
going to open up for them had really opened now for me.

How I kept from baking my doughnuts and frying my sponge-cakes in lard,
I dunno, but I did--sheer through instinct, I guess. And then I wrote my
letter and took it down to the post-office. Go? Wouldn't I go? My letter
just said:


     "Ellen dear, you ridiculous child, did you think I could wobble for
     a single second? I'd made up my mind before I got down the first
     page. I'll be there Monday night. Do you care if I wear your
     table-spread for dress-up, when I get there? All I've got is
     everyday--or not so much so. And for your wanting me, I'll say
     thank you when I get there.

     CALLIOPE."


On my way to mail my letter I came on Mis' Toplady and Mis'
Holcomb-that-was-Mame-Bliss, downtown to get something for supper. And I
told them all about it.

Mis' Toplady hunched her shawl farther up her back and sighed abundant.

"Ain't that just grand, Calliope?" says she. "To think you're going to
do something you ain't been doing all your days."

That was the point, and she knew it.

"I says to Timothy the other night," she went on, "I says, 'Don't you
wish I had something to tell you about, or you had something to tell me
about, that we both of us didn't know by heart, forward and back?'"

"Eppleby and me, too," says Mis' Holcomb, "I wish to the land we could
do something--or be something--that would give a body something to kind
of--relate to each other."

"I know," I says. "Husbands and wives _is_ awful simultaneous, I always
think."

But I didn't say anything more, being I wasn't married to one; and they
didn't say anything more, being they was.

Mis' Holcomb waved her cheese at me, cheerful.

"Be gay for us!" says she, and then went home to cook supper for her
hungry family.

And so did I, wishing with all my heart that the two of them--that
hadn't seen over the rim of home in thirty years--could have had my
chance.

When I got to the city that night it was raining--rather, it was past
raining and on up to pouring. So I got in a taxi to go up to Ellen's--a
taxi that was nothing but an automobile after all, in spite of its
foreign name, ending in a letter that no civilized name ought to end in.
And never, never, not if I live till after my dying day, will I forget
my first look at that living-room of theirs--in the apartment building,
as big as a ship, and as lighted up as our church at Christmas-time,
which was where Ellen and Russell lived.

A pretty maid let me in. I remember I went in by her with my eyes on her
white embroidery cap, perked up on her head and all ironed up, saucy as
a blue jay's crest.

"Excuse me," I says to her over my shoulder, "I've read about them, but
yours is the first one I ever saw. My dear, you look like a queen in a
new starched crown."

She was an awful stiff little thing--'most as stiff as her head-piece.
She never smiled.

"What name?" she says, though--and I see she was friendlier than I'd
thought.

"Why, mine's Calliope Marsh," I says, hearty. "What's yours?"

She looked so funny--I guess not many paid her much attention.

"Delia," she says. "You're expected," she says, and opened the inside
door.

The room was long and soft and wine-colored, with a fire burning in the
fireplace, and more lamps than was necessary, but that altogether didn't
make much more light than one, only spread it out more. The piano was
open, and there was a vase of roses--in Winter! They seemed to have
them, I found out later, as casual as if there was a combined wedding
and funeral in the house all the time. But they certainly made a
beautiful picture.

But all this I sort of took in out of my eyes' four corners, while the
rest of me looked at what was before the fire.

A big, low-backed chair was there, as fat and soft as a sofa. And in it
was Ellen, in a white dress--in Winter! She wore them, I saw after a
while, as casual as if she was at a party, perpetual. But there was
something else there in a white dress, too, sitting on her lap, with his
pink, bare feet stretched out to the blaze. And he was laughing, and
Ellen was, too, at Russell, her husband, sitting on the floor, and
aiming his head right at the baby's stomach, to hear him laugh out
like--oh, like bluebells must be doing in the Spring.

"Pretty enough to paint," says I--which was the first they knew I was
there.

It was a shame to spoil it, but Ellen and Russell sprang up, and tried
to shake hands with me, though I wasn't taking the slightest notice of
them. It was the baby I was engaged in. I'd never seen him before. In
fact, I'd never seen Ellen and Russell since they were married two years
before and went off to Europe, and lived on a peak of the Alps where the
baby was born.

They took me to a gray little room that was to be mine, and I put on a
fresh lace collar and my cameo pin and my best back comb. And then
dinner was ready--a little, round white table with not one living thing
on it but lace and roses and glass and silver.

"Why," says I, before I got through with my melon that came first, "why,
you two must be perfectly happy, ain't you?"

And Ellen says, looking over to him:

"Perfectly, absolutely, radiantly happy. Yes, I am."

And this is what Russell done. He broke his bread, and nodded to both of
us promiscuous, and he says:

"Considerable happier than any decent man has a right to be, I'm
thinking."

I noticed that incident particular. And when I look back on it now, I
know that that very first evening I begun noticing other things. I
remember the talk went on about like this:

"Ellen," says Russell, "the dog show opened yesterday. They've got some
great little pups, I hear. Aren't you going in?"

"Why--I am if you are," says Ellen.

"Nonsense," says Russell, "I can run in any time, but I can't very well
meet you there in the middle of the day. You go in yourself."

"Well, I only enjoy it about a third as much to go alone," says she.

"The dogs don't differ when I'm along, you know, lady," says he,
smiling.

"You know that isn't what I mean," she says.

And she looked over at him, and smiled at his eyes with her eyes. But I
saw that he looked away first, sort of troubled. And I thought:

"Why, she acts as if not enjoying things when he ain't along is a kind
of joyful sacrifice, that would please any man. I wonder if it does."

It happened two-three times through dinner. She hadn't been over to see
some kind of a collection, and couldn't he come home some night early
and take her? He couldn't promise--why didn't she go herself and tell
him about it?

"You wouldn't have said that three years ago," she says, half fun, half
earnest, and waited for him to deny it. But he didn't seem to sense what
was expected of him, and he just et on.

Ain't it funny how you can sort of see things through the pores of your
skin? By the time dinner was over, I knew most as much about those two
as if I had lived in the house with them a week.

He was wonderful tender with her, though. I don't mean just in little
loverlike ways, saying things and calling her things and looking at her
gentle. I mean in ways that don't have to be said or called or looked,
but that just are. To my mind they mean a thousand times more. But I
thought that in her heart she sort of hankered for the said and called
and looked kind. And of course they _are_ nice. Nice, but not vital like
the other sort. If you had to get along without one, you know which one
would be the one.

When we went into the other room, Ellen took me to look at the baby, in
bed, asleep, same as a kitten and a rosebud and a little yellow chicken,
and all the things that you love even the names of. And when we went
back, Ellen went to the piano and begun to play rambley things but low
so's you could hardly hear them across the room, on account of the baby.
I sank down and was listening, contented, and thinking of the most
thinkable things I knew, when she looked over her shoulder.

"Russell," she says, "if you'll come and turn the music, I'll do that
new Serenade."

Russell was on a couch, stretched out with a newspaper and his pipe, and
I dunno if I ever seen a man look more luxurious. But he got up, sort
of a one-joint-at-a-time fashion, and came slumping over, with his hair
sticking out at the back. He stood and turned the music, with his pipe
behind him. And when she'd got through, he says:

"Very pretty, indeed. Now I'll just finish my article, I guess, dear."

He went back to his couch. And she got up, kind of quick, and walked
over and stared into the fire. And I got up and went over and stared out
the window. It seemed kind of indelicate to be looking, when I knew so
well what was happening in that room.

_For she'd forgot he was a person. She was thinking that he was just
another one of her. And that seems to me a terrible thing for any human
being to get to thinking about another, married to them or not though
they be._

When I looked out the window, I needed new words. I hadn't realized the
elevator had skimmed up so high with me--and done it in the time it
would have taken the Emporium elevator, home, to go the two stories. But
we were up ten, I found afterward. And there I was looking the city
plain in the face. Rows and rows and fields of little lights from
windows that were homes--and homes--and homes. I'd never seen so many
homes in my life before, at any one time. And it came over me, as I
looked, that in all the hundreds of them I was looking at, and in the
thousands that lay stretched out beyond, the same kind of thing must
have gone on at some time or other, or be going to go on, or be going on
now, like I saw clear as clear was going on with Ellen and Russell.

It was the third night I was there that the thing happened. I was
getting along fine. I did the ordering and the managing and took part
care of the baby and mended up clothes and did the dozens of things that
Ellen wasn't strong enough to do. Delia and I had got to be real good
friends by the second day.

Russell came home that third night looking fagged out. He was never
nervous or impatient--I noticed that about him. I'd never once seen him
take it out in his conversation with his wife merely because he had had
a hard day. We'd just gone in from the dining-room when Russell, instead
of lighting his pipe and taking his paper, turned round on the rug, and
says:

"Dear, I think I'll go over to Beldon's a while to-night."

She was crossing the floor, and I remember how she turned and looked at
him.

"Beldon's?" she said. "Have--have you some business?"

"No," Russell says. "He wanted me to come in and have a game of
billiards."

"Very well," she says only, and she went and sat down by the fire.

He got into his coat, humming a little under his breath, and then he
came over and stooped down and kissed her. She kissed him, but she
hardly turned her head. And she didn't turn her head at all as he went
out.

When he'd gone and she heard the apartment door shut, Ellen fairly
frightened me. She sank down in the big chair where I had first seen
her, and put her head on its arm, and cried--cried till her little
shoulders shook, and I could hear her sobs. "Ellen," I says, "what is
it?" Though, mind you, I knew well enough.

She put her arms round my neck as I kneeled down beside her. "Oh,
Calliope, Calliope!" she says. "It's the end of things."

"End," says I, "of what?"

She looked in my face, with the tears streaming down hers. "Didn't you
realize," she says, "that that is the first time my husband ever has
left me in the evening--when he didn't have to?"

I saw that I had to be as wise as ten folks and as harmless as none, if
I was to help her--and help him. And all at once I felt as if I _was_
ten folks, and as if I'd got to live up to them all.

Because I didn't underestimate the minute. No woman can underestimate
that minute when it comes to any other woman. For out of it there are
likely to come down onto her the issues of either life or death; and the
worst of it is that, ten to one, she never once sees that it's in her
power, maybe, to say whether it shall be life or death that comes.

"What of it?" I says, as calm as if I didn't see anything at all,
instead of seeing more than she saw, as I know I did.

She stared at me. "Don't you understand," she says, "what it means?"

"Why, it means," says I, "that he wants a game of billiards, the way any
other man does, once in a while."

She shook her head, mournful.

"Three years ago this Winter," says she, "only three short years ago,
every minute of the world that Russell had free, he wanted to spend with
me. That Winter before we were married, do you suppose that
anybody--_any_body could have got him to play billiards with him if he
could have been with me?"

I thought it over. "Well," I says, "no. Likely not. But then, you see,
he couldn't be with you every evening--and that just naturally give him
some nights off."

"'Some nights off,'" she says. "Oh, if you think _that_ is the way he
looks at it--There is no way in this world that I would rather spend my
evenings," she says, "than to sit here with my husband."

"Yes," I says, "I s'pose that's true. I s'pose that's true of most
wives. And it's something they've got to get over thinking is so
important."

She gasped. "Get over--" she says. "Then," says she, "they'll have to
get over loving their husbands."

"Oh, dear, no, they won't--no, they won't," says I. "But they'll have to
get over thinking that selfishness is love--for one thing. Most folks
get them awful mixed--I've noticed that."

But she broke down again, and was sobbing on the arm of the chair. "To
think," she says over, "that now it'll never, never be the same again.
From now on we're going to be just like other married folks!"

That seemed to me a real amazing thing to say, but I saw there wasn't
any use talking to her, so I just let her cry till it was time to go and
feed the baby. And then she sat nursing him, and breathing long, sobbing
breaths--and once I heard her say, "Poor, poor little Mother's boy!"
with all the accent on the relationship.

I walked back into the middle of the long, soft, wine-colored room,
trying to think if I s'posed I'd got so old that I couldn't help in a
thing like this, for I have a notion that there is nothing whatever that
gets the matter that you can't help some way if you're in the
neighborhood of it.

Delia was just shutting the outside door of the apartment. And she came
trotting in with her little, formal, front-door air.

"Two ladies to see you, Miss Marsh," she says. "Mis' Toplady and Mis'
Holcomb."

No sooner said than heard, and I flew to the door, all of a tremble.

"For the land and forevermore," says I. "Where from and what for?"

There they stood in the doorway, dressed, I see at first glance, in the
very best they'd got. Mis' Holcomb, that is the most backward-feeling of
any of our women, was a step behind Mis' Toplady, and had hold of her
arm. And Mis' Toplady was kind of tiptoeing and looking round cautious,
to see if something not named yet was all right.

"There ain't any company, is there?" she says, in a part-whisper.

"No," says I, "not a soul. Come on in."

"Well," says she, relaxing up on her bones, "I asked the girl, and she
says she'd see. What's the use of _being_ a hired girl if you don't know
who you've let in?"

"Sit down," says I, "and tell me what you're doing here, and why you've
come. Is anything the matter? I see there ain't, though--with you in
your best clothes. Throw off your things."

"Calliope," says Mis' Holcomb, "you'd never guess." She leaned forward
in her chair. "We ain't come up for a single thing," says she, "not a
thing!"

Mis' Toplady leaned forward, too. "And the fare a dollar and ninety-six
cents each way," says she, "and us a-staying at a hotel!"

"Go on," says I. "How long you going to be here?"

"Oh, mercy, only to-night," Mis' Holcomb says. "Why, the room is
two-fifty just for us to sleep in it. I told him we shouldn't be setting
in it a minute, but I guess he didn't believe me."

"Well, go on," says I. "Tell me what you've come for?"

Mis' Toplady leaned back and looked round her and sighed--and anybody
could of told that her sigh was pleased and happy.

"Calliope," says she, "we've run away to stay overnight and one day on
our chicken money, because we got so dead tired of home."

Mis' Holcomb just giggled out.

"It's a fact," she says. "We thought we'd come while you was here, for
an excuse. But we were just sick of home, and that's the truth."

I looked at them, stupefied, or part that. Mis' Toplady and Mame, that's
been examples of married contentment for thirty years on end,
hand-running! It begun to dawn on me, slow, what this meant, as Mis'
Toplady begun to tell me about it.

"You know, Calliope," she says, "the very best home in the world gets--"

Then I jumped up. "Hold on," I says. "You wait a minute. I'll be
straight back again."

I run down the hall to the bedroom where Ellen was. She was just laying
the baby down--even in my hurry I stopped to think what a heavenly and
eternal picture that makes--a mother laying a baby down. There's
something in the stooping of her shoulders and the sweep of her skirt
and the tender drooping of her face, with the lamp-light on her hair,
that makes a picture out of every time a baby is laid in his bed. The
very fact that Ellen looked so lovely that way made me all the more
anxious to save her.

"Ellen," I says, "come out here, please."

I pulled her along, with her hair all loose and lovely about her
face--Ellen was a perfect picture of somebody's wife and a little baby's
mother. You never in the world would have thought of her as a human
being besides.

So then I introduced them, and I sat down there with them--the two I
knew so well, and the one I'd got to know so well so sudden. And two of
them were nearly sixty, and one was not much past twenty; but the three
of them had so much in common that they were almost like one person
sitting there with me, before the fire.

"Now," says I, "Mis' Toplady, go ahead. You needn't mind Ellen. She'll
understand."

After a little bit, Mis' Toplady did go ahead.

"Well, sir," Mis' Toplady said, "I dunno what you'll think of us, but
this is the way it was. I was sitting home by the dining-room table
with Timothy night before last. We had a real good wood fire in the
stove, and a tin of apples baking in the top, that smelled good. And the
lamp had been filled that day, so the light was extra bright. And there
was a little green wood in the fire that sort of sung--and Timothy set
with his shoes off, as he so often does evenings, reading his newspaper
and warming his stocking feet on the nickel of the stove. And all of a
sudden I looked around at my dining-room, the way I'd looked at it
evenings for thirty years or more, ever since we went to housekeeping,
and I says to myself, 'I hate the sight of you, and I wish't I was
somewheres else.' Not that I do hate it, you know, of course--but it
just come over me, like it has before. And as soon as my tin of apples
was done and I took them into the kitchen, I grabbed my shawl down off
the hook, and run over to Mis' Holcomb's. And when I shut her gate, I
near jumped back, because there, poking round her garden in the snow in
the dark, was Mame!

"So," Mis' Toplady continued, "we hung over the gate and talked about
it. And we came to the solemn conclusion that we'd just up and light out
for twenty-four hours. We told our husbands, and they took it
philosophic. Men understand a whole lot more than you give them credit
for. They know--if they're any _real_ good--that it ain't that you ain't
fond of them, or that you ain't thankful you're their wife, but that
you've just got to have things that's different and interesting and--and
tellable. Anyhow, that's the way Mame and I figgered it out. And we got
into our good clothes, and we came up to the city, and went to the
hotel, and got us a bowl of hot oyster soup apiece. And then we had the
street-car ride out here, and we'll have another going back. And we've
seen you. And we'll have a walk past the store windows in the morning
before train-time. And I bet when we get home, 'long towards night, our
two dining-rooms'll look real good to us again--don't you, Mame?"

"Yes, sir!" Mame says, with her little laugh again. "And our husbands,
too!"

I'd been listening to them--but I'd been watching Ellen. Ellen was one
of the women that aren't deceived by outside appearances, same as some.
Mis' Toplady and Mis' Holcomb didn't look any more like her city friends
than a cat's tail looks like a plume, but just the same Ellen saw what
they were and what they were worth. And when they got done:

"Do you mean you are going back to-morrow?" she says.

"Noon train," says Mame, "and be home in time to cook supper as natural
as life and as good as new."

Ellen kept looking at them, and I guessed what she was thinking: A
hundred miles they'd come for a change, and all they'd got was two
street-car rides and a bowl of oyster soup apiece and this call, and
they were going home satisfied.

All of a sudden Ellen sat up straight in her chair.

"See," she says, "it's only eight o'clock. Why can't the four of us go
to the theater?"

The two women sort of gasped, in two hitches.

"Us?" they says.

Ellen jumped up. "Quick, Calliope," she says. "Get your things on. Delia
can stay with the baby. I'll telephone for a taxi. We can decide what to
see on the way down. You'll go, won't you?" she asks 'em.

"Go!" says they, in one breath. "Oh--yes, _sir_!"

In no time, or thereabouts, we found ourselves down-stairs packing into
the taxicab. I was just as much excited as anybody--I hadn't been to a
play in years. Ellen told us what there was as we went down, but they
might have been the names of French cooking for all they meant to us,
and we left it to her to pick out where we were to go.

When we followed her down the aisle of the one she picked out, just
after the curtain went up, where do you think she took us? _Into a box!_
It was so dark that Mis' Toplady and Mame never noticed until the
curtain went down, and the lights came up, and we looked round.

As for me, I could hardly listen to the play. I was thinking of these
two dear women from the village, and what it meant to them to have
something different to do. But even more, I was watching Ellen, that had
set out to make them have a good time, and was doing her best at it,
getting them to talk and making them laugh, when the curtain was down.
But when the curtain was up, it seemed to me that Ellen wasn't listening
to the play so very much, either.

Before the last act, Ellen had to get back to the baby, so we left the
two of them there and went home.

"Alone in the box!" says Mame Holcomb, as we were leaving. "My land, and
my hat's trimmed on the wrong side for the audience!"

"Do we have to go when it's out?" says Mis' Toplady. "Won't they just
leave us set here, on--and on--and on?"

I remember them as I looked back and saw them, sitting there together.
And something, I dunno whether it was the wedding-trip poplin dress, or
the thought of the two dining-rooms where they'd set for so long, or of
the little lark they'd planned, sort of made a lump come and meet a word
I was trying to say.

We'd got out to the entry of the box, when somebody came after us, and
it was little bit of Mame Holcomb, looking up with eyes bright as a blue
jay's at the feed-dish.

"Oh," she says to Ellen, "I ain't half told you--neither of us has--what
this means to us. And I wanted you to know--we both of us do--that the
best part is, you so sort of _understood_."

Ellen just bent over and kissed her. And when we came out in the hall,
all light and red carpet, I see Ellen's eyes were full of tears.

And when we got in the taxicab: "Ellen," I says, "I thank you, too--ever
so much. You did understand. So did I."

"I don't know--I don't know," she says "But, Calliope, how in the world
do you understand that kind of thing?"

So I said it, right out plain:

"Oh," I says, "I guess sheer because I've seen so much unhappiness, and
on up to divorce, come about sole because married folks _will_ hunt in
couples perpetual, and not let themselves be just folks."

When we got home--and we hadn't said much more all the way there--as we
opened the living-room door, I saw that we'd got there first, before
Russell. I was glad of that. Ellen ran right down the hall to the baby's
room, and I took off my things and went down to the end of the room
where the couch was, to lay down till she came back.

I must have dozed off, because I didn't hear Russell come in. The first
I knew, he was standing with his back to the fire, filling his pipe. So
I looked in his face, when he didn't know anybody was looking.

He had evidently walked home, and had come in fresh and glowing and
full of frosty air, and his cheeks were ruddy. He was smiling a little
at something or other, and altogether he looked not a bit like the tired
man that had come home that night to dinner.

Then I heard the farther door click, and Ellen's step in the hall.

He looked toward the door, and I saw the queerest expression come in his
face. Now, there was Russell, a man of twenty-seven or eight, a grown
man that had lived his independent life for years before he had married
Ellen. And yet, honestly, when he looked up then, his face and his eyes
were like those of a boy that had done something that he had been
scolded for. He looked kind of apologetic and explanatory--a look no man
ought to be required to look unless for a real reason. It seems
so--ignominious for a human being to have to look like that when they
hadn't done a thing wrong.

My heart sank some. I thought of the way Ellen had been all slumped down
in that easy chair, crying and taking on. And I waited for her to come
in, feeling as if all the law and the prophets hung on the next few
minutes--and I guess they did.

She'd put on a little, soft house-dress, made you-couldn't-tell-how, of
lace, with blue showing through, kind of like clouds and the sky. But it
was her face I looked at, because I remembered the set look it had when
she'd told Russell good-by. And when I see her face now there in all
that sky-and-clouds effect, honest, it was like a star.

"Hello, dear," she says, kind of sweet and casual, "put a stick of wood
on the fire and tell me all about it."

I tell you, my heart jumped up then as much as it would of if I'd heard
her say "I will" when they were married. For this was their new minute.

"Sit here," he says, and pulled her down to the big chair, and sat on
the low chair beside her, where I'd seen him first. Only now, the baby
wasn't there--it was just the two of them.

"Did you beat them all to pieces?" she asks, still with that blessed,
casual, natural way of hers.

He smiled, sort of pleased and proud and humble. "I did," he owns up.
"You're my wife, and I can brag to you if I want to. I walloped 'em."

He told her about the game, saying a lot of things that didn't mean a
thing to me, but that must have meant to her what they meant to him,
because she laughed out, pleased.

"Good!" she says. "You play a corking game, if I do say it. Do you know,
you look a lot better than you did when you came home to dinner? I hate
to see you look tired like that."

"I feel fit as a fish now," says he. "There's something about an evening
like that with half a dozen of 'em--it isn't the game. It's the--oh, I
don't know. But it kind of--"

He petered off, and she didn't make the mistake of agreeing too hard or
talking about it too long. She just nodded, and pretty soon she told him
some little thing about the baby. When he emptied his pipe, she said she
thought she'd go to bed.

But when she got up, he reached up and pulled her back in the chair
again, and moved so that he set with his cheek against hers. And he
says:

"I've got something to tell you."

She picked up his hand to lean her head on, and says, "What? Me?"--which
I'd noticed was one of the little family jokes, that no family should be
without a set of.

"Do you know, Ellen," he said, "to-night, when I went out to go over to
Beldon's, I thought you didn't like my going."

"You did?" she says. "What made you think that?"

"The way you spoke--or looked--or kissed me. I don't know. I imagined
it, I guess," says he. "And--I've got something to own up."

She just waited; and he said it out, blunt:

"It made me not want to come home," says he.

"Not want to come home?" she says over, startled.

He nodded. "Lacy and Bright both left Beldon's before I did," he says.
"I thought probably--I don't know. I imagined you were going to be
polite as the deuce, the way I thought you were when I went out."

"Oh," she says, "was I that?"

"So when Lacy and Bright made jokes about what their wives'd say if they
didn't get home, I joined in with them, and laughed at the 'apron
strings.' That's what we called it."

She moved a little away. "Did you do that?" she said. "Oh, Russell, I
should hate that. I should think any woman would hate it."

"I know," he says. "I'm dead sorry. But I wanted you to know. And,
dear--"

He got up and stood before her, with her hands crushed up in his.

"I want you to know," he says, kind of solemn, "that the way you are
about this makes me--gladder than the dickens. Not for the reason you
might think--because it's going to make it easy to be away when I want
to. But because--"

He didn't say things very easy. Most men don't, except for their little
bit of courting time.

"Well, thunder," he said, "don't you see? It makes me so sure you're my
_wife_--and not just married to me."

She smiled up at him without saying anything, but I knew how balm and
oil were curing the hurt that she thought she'd had that night when he
went out.

"I've always thought of our each doing things--and coming home and
telling each other about them," he says, vague.

"Of _my_ doing things, too?" she asks, quick.

"Why, yes--sure. You, of course," he says, emphatic. "Haven't you seen
that I want you to do things sometimes, without me tagging on?"

"Is that the way you look at it?" she says, slow.

He gave her two hands a gay little jerk, and pulled her to her feet.

"Why," he said, "you're a person. And I'm a person. If we really love
each other, being married isn't only something _instead_. It's something
_plus_."

"Russell," she says, "how did you find that out?"

"I don't know," he says. "How does anybody find out anything?"

I'll never forget the way Ellen looked when she went close to him.

"By loving somebody enough, I think," she says.

That made him stop short to wonder about something.

"How did you find out, if it comes to that?" he asks.

"What? Me?" she says. "Oh, I found out--by special messenger!"

Think of Mis' Toplady and Mame being that, unbeknownst!

They turned away together, and walked down the room. The fire had burned
down, and everything acted like eleven-o'clock-at-night. It made a nice
minute. I like to think about it.

"To-morrow morning," she told him, "I'm going to take Calliope and two
friends of hers to the dog show. And you--don't--have--to--come. But
you're invited, you know."

He laughed like a boy.

"Well, now, maybe I _can_ drop in!" says he.

FOOTNOTE:

[5] Copyright, 1916, _Pictorial Review_.



THE ART AND LOAN DRESS EXHIBIT[6]


"We could have a baking sale. Or a general cooking sale. Or a bazaar. Or
a twenty-five-cent supper," says I.

Mis' Toplady tore off a strip of white cloth so smart it sounded saucy.

"I'm sick to death," she said, "of the whole kit of them. I hate a
baking sale like I hate wash-day. We've had them till we can taste them.
I know just what every human one of us would bring. Bazaars is death on
your feet. And if I sit down to another twenty-five-cent supper--beef
loaf, bake' beans, pickles, cabbage salad, piece o' cake--it seems as
though I should scream."

"Me too," agrees Mis' Holcomb.

"Me too," I says myself. "Still," I says, "we want a park--and we want
to name it Hewitt Park for them that's done so much for the town
a'ready. And if we ever have a park, we've got to raise some money.
That's flat, ain't it?"

We all allowed that this was flat, and acrost the certainty we faced one
another, rocking and sewing in my nice cool sitting-room. The blinds
were open, the muslin curtains were blowing, bees were humming in the
yellow-rose bush over the window, and the street lay all empty, except
for a load of hay that lumbered by and brushed the low branches of the
maples. And somewheres down the block a lawn-mower was going, sleepy.

"Who's that rackin' around so up-stairs?" ask' Mis' Toplady, pretty
soon.

Just when she spoke, the little light footstep that had been padding
overhead came out in the hall and down my stair.

"It's Miss Mayhew," I told them, just before Miss Mayhew tapped on the
open door.

"Come right in--what you knocking for when the door sets ajar?" says I
to her.

Miss Mayhew stood in the doorway, her rough short skirt and stout boots
and red sweater all saying "I'm going for a walk," even before she did.
Only she adds: "I wanted to let you know I don't think I'll get back for
supper."

"Such a boarder I never saw," I says. "You don't eat enough for a bird
when you're here. And when you ain't, you're off gallivanting over the
hills with nothing whatever to eat. And me with a fresh spice-cake just
out of the oven for your supper."

"I'm so sorry," Miss Mayhew says, penitent to see.

I laid down my work. "You let me put you up a couple o' pieces to nibble
on," says I.

"You're so good. May I come too?" Miss Mayhew asks, and smiled bright
at the other two women, who smiled back broad and almost tender--Miss
Mayhew's smile made you do that.

"I s'pose them writing folks can't stop to think of food," Mis' Toplady
says as we went out.

"Look at her lugging a book. What's she want to be bothered with that
for?" Mis' Holcomb says.

But that kind of fault-finding don't necessarily mean unkindness. With
us it was as natural as a glance.

Out in the kitchen, I, having wrapped two nice slices of spice cake and
put them in Miss Mayhew's hand, looked up at her and was shook up
considerable to see that her eyes were filled with tears.

I know I'm real blunt when I'm embarrassed or trying to be funny, but
when it comes to tears I'm more to home. So I just put my hand on the
girl's shoulder and waited for her to speak.

"It's nothing," Miss Mayhew says back to the question I didn't ask.
"I--I--" she sobbed out quite open. "I'm all right," she ends, and put
up her head like a banner.

To the two women in my sitting-room I didn't say a word of that moment,
when I went back to them. But what I did say acted kind of electric.

"Now," says I, "day before yesterday was my sweeping day for the
chambers. But I hated to disturb her, she set there scribbling so hard
when I stuck my head in. She ain't been out of the house since. If
you'll excuse me, I'll whisk right up there and sweep out now."

The women begun folding their work.

"Why, don't hurry yourselves!" I says. "Sit and visit till I get
through, why don't you?"

"Go!" says Mis' Toplady. "We ain't a-going. We're going to help."

"I been dying to get up-stairs in that room ever since I see her fix it
up," Miss Holcomb lets out, candid.

Miss Mayhew's room--she'd been renting my front chamber for a month
now--was little and bare, but her daintiness was there, like her saying
something. And the two women began looking things over--the books, the
pictures--"prints," Miss Mayhew called them--the china tea-cups, the
silver-topped bottles, and the silver and ivory toilet stuff.

"My, what a homely picture!" Mis' Holcomb says, looking at a scene of a
Japanese lady and a mountain.

"What in the world is these forceps for?" says Mis' Toplady, balancing
an ivory glove-stretcher with Miss Mayhew's initials on. I knew that it
was, because I'd asked her.

"What she wants of a dust-cap I dunno," Mis' Holcomb contributes,
pointing to the little lace and ribbon cap hanging beside the
toilet-table.

And I'd wondered that myself. She put it on for breakfast, like she was
going to do some work; then she never done a thing the whole morning,
only wrote.

Then all of a sudden was when I come out with something surprising.

"Why," says I, "it's gone!"

"What's gone?" they says. And I was looking so hard I couldn't
answer--bureau, chest of drawers, bookshelves, I looked on all of them.
"It ain't here anywhere," says I, "and he was _that_ handsome--"

I told them about the photograph, as well as I could. It was always
standing on the bureau, right close up by the glass--a man's picture
that always made me want to say: "Well, you look just exactly the way
you _ought_ to look. And I believe you are it." He looked like what you
mean when you say "man" when you're young--big and dark and frank and
boyish and manly, with eyes that give their truth to you and count on
having yours back again. That kind.

"Land," I says. "I'd leave a picture like that up in my room no matter
what occurred between me and the one the picture was the picture of. I
_couldn't_ take it down."

But now it was down, though I remembered seeing it stand there every
time I'd dusted ever since Miss Mayhew had come, up till this day. And
when I'd told the women all about it, they couldn't recover from
looking. They looked so energetic that finally Mis' Toplady pulled out
the wardrobe a little mite and peeked behind it.

"I thought mebbe it'd got itself stuck in here," she explains, bringing
her head back with a great streak of dust on her cheek--and I didn't
take it as any reflection whatever on my housekeeping. I've always
believed that there's some furniture that the dust just rises out of, in
the night, like cream--and of those the backs of wardrobes are chief.

Then she shoved the wardrobe in place, and the door that I'd fixed at
the top with a little wob of newspaper so it would stay shut, all of a
sudden swung open, and the other one followed suit. We three stood
staring at what was inside. For my wardrobe, that had never had anything
in it better than my best black silk, was hung full of pink and blue and
rose and white and lavender clothes. Dresses they were, some with little
scraps of shining trimming on, and all of them not like anything any of
us had ever seen, outside of fashion books--if any.

"My land!" says I, sitting down on the edge of the fresh-made bed--a
thing I never do in my right senses.

"Party clothes!" says Mis' Holcomb, kind of awelike. "Ball-gowns," she
says it over, to make them sound as grand as they looked.

"Why, mercy me," Mis' Toplady says, standing close up and staring.
"She's an actress, that's what she is. Them's stage clothes."

"Actress nothing," I says, "nor they ain't ball dresses--not all anyway.
They're just light colors, for afternoon wear, the most of them--but
like we don't wear here in this town, 'long of being so durable-minded."

"Have you ever seen her wear any of 'em?" demands Mis' Toplady.

"I can't say I ever have," I says, "but she likely ain't done so because
she don't want to do different from us. That," says I, "is the lady of
it."

Mis' Holcomb leaned close and looked at the things through her glasses.

"I think she'd ought to wear them here," she says. "I'd dearly love to
look at things like that. Nobody ever wore things here like that since
the Hewitts went away. We'd all love to see them. We don't see things
like that any too often. I s'pose--I s'pose, ladies," says she,
hesitating, "I s'pose it wouldn't do for us to look at them any closer
up to, would it?"

We knew it wouldn't--not, that is, to the point of touching. But we all
came and stood by the wardrobe door and looked as close up to as we
durst.

"My," says Mis' Toplady, "how Mis' Sykes would admire to see these. And
Mis' Hubbelthwait. And Mis' Sturgis. And Mis' Merriman."

And then she went on, real low:

"Why, ladies," she says, "why couldn't we have an exhibit--a loan
exhibit? And put all those clothes on dress-makers' forms in somebody's
parlor--"

"And charge admission!" says I. "Instead of a bazaar or a supper or a
baking sale--"

"And get each lady that's got them to put up her best dress too," says
Mis' Holcomb. "Mis' Sykes has never had a chance to wear her navy-blue
velvet in this town once, and she's had it three years. I presume she'd
be glad to get a chance to show it off that way."

"And Mis' Sturgis her black silk that she had dressmaker made in the
city," says I, "when she went to her relation's funeral. She's never had
it on her back but the once--it had too much jet on it for anything but
formal--and that once was to the funeral, and then it was so cold in the
church she had to keep her coat on over it. She's often told me about
it, and she's real bitter about it, for her."

Mis' Toplady flushed up. "I've got," she said, "that lavender silk
dressing gown my nephew sent me from Japan. It's never been out of its
box since it come, nine years ago, except when I've took somebody
up-chamber to show it to them. Do you think--"

"Of course we'll have it," I said, "and, Mis' Toplady, your
wedding-dress that you've saved, with the white raspberry buttons. And
there's Mis' Merriman's silk-embroidered long-shawl--oh, ladies," I
says, "won't it be nice to see some elegant clothes wore for once here
in the village, even if it's only on dressmaker's forms?"

"So be Miss Mayhew'll only let us take hers," says Mis' Holcomb,
longing.

We planned the whole thing out, sitting up there till plump six o'clock
when the whistle blew, and not a scratch of sweeping done in the chamber
yet. The ladies both flew for home then, and I went at the sweeping,
being I was too excited to eat anyway, and I planned like lightning the
whole time. And I made up my mind to arrange with Miss Mayhew that
night.

I'd had my supper and was rocking on the front porch when she came home.
The moon was shining up the street, and the maple leaves were all moving
pleasant, and their shadows were moving pleasant, too, as if they were
independent. Everybody's windows were open, and somewhere down the block
some young folks were singing an old-fashioned love-song--I saw Miss
Mayhew stand at the gate and listen after she had come inside. Then she
came up the walk slow.

"Good evening and glad you're back," said I. "_Ain't_ this a night?"

She stood on the bottom step, looking the moon in the face. The air was
sweet with my yellow roses--it was almost as if the moonlight and they
were the same color and both sweet-smelling. And her a picture in that
yellow frame.

"Oh, it is--it is," she says, and she sighs.

"This," I says, "isn't a night to sigh on."

"No," she says, "it isn't--is it? I won't do it again."

"Sit down," I says, "I want to ask you something."

So then I told her how her wardrobe door had happened to swing open, and
what we wanted to do.

"--we don't see any too many pretty things here in the village," I said,
"and I'd kind of like to do it, even if we didn't make a cent of money
out of it for the park."

She didn't say anything--she just sat with her head turned away from me,
looking down the street.

"--us ladies," I said, "we don't dress very much. We can't. We've all
had a hard time to get together just what we've had to have. But we all
like pretty things. I s'pose most all of us used to think we were going
to have them, and these things of yours kind of make me think of the way
I use' to think, when I was a girl, I'd have things some day. Of course
now I know it don't make a mite of difference whether anybody ever had
them or not--there's other things and more of them. But still, now and
then you kind of hanker. You kind of hanker," I told her.

Still she didn't say anything. I thought mebbe I'd offended her.

"We wouldn't touch them, you know," I said. "We'd only just come and
look. But if you'd mind it any--"

Then she looked up at me, and I saw that her eyes were brimming over
with tears.

"Mind!" she said. "Why, no--no! If you can really use those things of
mine. But they're not nice things, you know."

"Well," I says, "I dunno as us ladies would know that. But you do love
_light_ things when you've had to go around dressed dark, either 'count
of economy or 'count of being afraid of getting talked about. Or both."

She got up and leaned and kissed me, light. Wasn't that a funny thing to
do? But I loved her for it.

"Anything I own," she says, "is yours to use just the way you want to
use it."

"You're just as sweet as you are pretty," I told her, "and more I dunno
who could say about no one."

I lay awake most all night planning it, like you will. I spent most of
the next day tracking round seeing folks about it. And everybody pitched
in to work, both on account of needing the money for the little park us
ladies had set our hearts on, and on account of being glad to have some
place, at last, to show what clothes we'd got to some one, even if it
was nobody but each other.

"Oh," says Mis' Holcomb, "I was thinking only the other day if only
somebody'd get married. You know we ain't had an evening party in this
town in years--not since the Hewitts went away. But I couldn't think of
a soul likely to have a big evening wedding for their daughter but the
Mortons, and little Abbie Morton, she's only 'leven. It'd take another
good six years before we could get asked to that. And I did want to get
a real chance to wear my dress before I made it over."

"The Prices might have a wedding for Mamie," says Mis' Toplady,
reflective. "Like enough with a catyier and all that. But I dunno's
Mamie's ever had a beau in her life."

We were to have the exhibit--the Art and Loan Dress Exhibit, we called
it--at my house, and I tell you it was fun getting ready for it. But it
was hard work, too, as most fun is.

The morning of the day that was the day, everybody came bringing their
stuff over in their arms. We had dress-forms from all the dress-makers
and all the stores in town, and they were all set up around the rim of
my parlor. Mis' Sturgis had just got her black silk put up and was
trying to make out whether side view to show the three quarters train
or front view to show the jet ornament was most becoming to the dress,
when Miss Mayhew brought in her things and began helping us.

"How the dead speaks in clothes," Mis' Sturgis says. "This jet ornament
was on my mother's bonnet for twelve years when I was a little girl."

"The Irish crochet medallion in the front of my basque," says Mis'
Merriman, "was on a scarf of my mother's that come from the old country.
It got old, and I took the best of it and appliqued it on a crazy quilt
and slept under it for years. Then when I see Irish crochet beginning to
be wore in the magazines again, I ripped it off and ragged out in it."

"Oh," says Miss Mayhew, all of a sudden. "What a lovely shawl! What you
going to put that on?"

"Where?" says we.

"Why this," she says--but still we didn't see, for she didn't have
anything but the shawl Mis' Hubbelthwait had worn in over her head.
"This Paisley shawl," Miss Mayhew says.

"My land!" says Mis' Hubbelthwait, "I put that on me to go through the
cold hall and bring in the kindling, and run out for a panful of chips,
and like that."

Miss Mayhew smiled. "You must put that on a figure," she says. "Why,
it's beautiful. Look at those colors."

"All faded out," says Mis' Hubbelthwait, and thought Miss Mayhew was
making fun of her. But she wasn't. And she insisted on draping it and
putting it near the front. Miss Mayhew was nice, but she was queer in
some things. I'd upholstered my kitchen rocker with part of my Paisley
shawl, and covered the ironing-board under the cloth with the rest of
it--and nothing would do but that old chair must be toted up in her
room! And yet I'd spent four dollars for a new golden-oak rocker when
she'd engaged the rooms.... But me, I urged them to let her do as she
pleased with Mis' Hubbelthwait's shawl that morning; because I
remembered that what had been the matter in my kitchen the afternoon
before was probably still the matter. And moreover, I'd looked when I
made the bed, and I see that the picture hadn't been set back on the
bureau.

Well, then we began putting up Miss Mayhew's own things--and I tell you
they were pretty. There wasn't much to them--little slimpsey soft silk
things, made real inexpensive with no lining, and not fussed up at
all--but they had an air to them that you can hardly ever get into a
dress, no matter how close you follow your paper pattern. She had a pink
and a blue and a white and a lavender--and one lovely rose gown that I
took and held up before her.

"I'd dearly love to see you in this," says I. "I bet you look like a
rose in it--or more so."

Her face, that was usually bright and soft all in one, sort of fell,
like a cloud had blown over it.

"I always liked to wear that dress," she says. "I had--there were folks
that liked it."

"Put it on to-night," I says, "and take charge of this room for us."

But she kind of shrunk back, and shook her head.

And I thought, like lightning, "It was the Picture Man that was on the
bureau that liked to see you in that dress--or I miss my guess."

But I never said a word, and went on putting a dress-form together.

The room looked real pretty when we got all the things up. There were
fourteen dresses in all, around the room. In the very middle was Mis'
Toplady's wedding-dress--white silk, made real full, with the white
raspberry buttons.

"For twenty years," she said, "it's been in the bottom drawer of the
spare room. It's nice to see it wore."

And we all thought it was so nice that we borrowed the wax figure from
the White House Emporium, and put the dress on. It looked real funny,
though, to see that smirking, red-cheeked figure with lots of light hair
and its head on one side, coming up out of Mis' Toplady's wedding-dress.

Us ladies were all ready and on hand early that night, dressed in our
black alpacas and wearing white aprons, most of us; and Miss Mayhew had
on a little white dimity, and she insisted on helping in the kitchen--we
were going to give them only lemonade and sandwiches, for we were
expecting the whole town, and the admission was only fifteen cents
apiece.

Then--I remember it was just after the clock struck seven--my telephone
rang. And it was a man's voice--which is exciting in itself, no man ever
calling me up without it's the grocery-man to try to get rid of some of
his fruit that's going to spoil, or the flour and feed man to say he
can't send up the corn-meal till to-morrow, after all. And this Voice
wasn't like either one of them.

He asked if this was my number, brisk and strong and deep and sure, and
as if he was used to everything there is.

"Is Miss Marjorie Mayhew there?" says he.

"Miss _Marjorie_ Mayhew," says I, thoughtful. "Why, I dunno's I ever
heard her front name."

"Whose front name?" says he.

"Why," says I, "Miss Mayhew's. That's who we're talking about, ain't
it?"

"Oh," says he, "then there _is_ a Miss Mayhew staying there?"

"No, sir," says I short, "there ain't. She's _the_ Miss Mayhew--the one
I mean--and anybody that's ever seen her would tell you the same thing."

He was still at that, just for a second. And when he spoke again, his
voice had somehow got a little different--I couldn't tell how.

"I see," says he, "that you and I understand each other perfectly. May I
speak to the Miss Mayhew?"

"Why, sure," says I hearty. "Sure you can."

So I went in the kitchen and found her where she was stirring
lemon-juice in my big stone crock. And when I told her, first she turned
red-rose red, and then she turned white-rose white.

"Me?" she says. "Who can want me? Who knows I'm here?"

"You go on and answer the 'phone, child," I says to her. "Him and me, we
understand each other perfectly."

So she went. I couldn't help hearing what she said.

"Yes."

"Yes."

"You are?"

"It doesn't matter in the least."

"If you wish."

"Two automobiles?"

"Very well. Any time."

"Oh, not at all, I assure you."

--all in a cool, don't-care little voice that I never in this wide world
would have recognized as Miss Mayhew's voice. Then she hung up. And I
stepped out of the cloak-closet. I took hold of her two shoulders and
looked in her eyes. And I saw she was palpitating and trembling and
breathless and pink.

"Marjorie Mayhew," I says, "I never knew that was your name, till just
now when that Nice Voice asked for you. But stranger though you are to
me--or more so--I want to say something to you: _If_ you ever love--I
don't say That Nice Voice, but Any Nice Voice, don't you never, never
speak cold to it like you just done. No matter what--"

She looked at me, kind of sweet and kind of still, and long and deep.
And I saw that we both knew what we both knew.

"I know," she says. "Folks are so foolish--oh, so foolish! I know it
now. And yet--"

"And yet you young folks hurt love for pride all the time," I says. "And
love is gold, and pride is clay. And some of you never find it out till
too late."

"I know," she says in a whisper, "I know--" Then she looked up. "Twelve
folks are coming here in two automobiles in about half an hour. The
telephone was from Prescott--that's about ten miles, isn't it? It's the
Hewitts. From the city--and some guests of theirs--"

"The Hewitts?" I says over. "From the city?"

She nodded.

"The Hewitts," I pressed on, "that give us our library? And that we
want to name the park for?"

Yes. It was them.

"Why, my land," I says, "my land--let me tell the ladies."

I rushed in on them, where they were walking 'round the parlor peaceful,
each lady looking over her own dress and giving little twitches to it
here and there to make the set right.

"The Hewitts," I says, "that we've all wanted to meet for years on end.
And now look at us--dressed up in every-day, or not so much so, when
we'd like to do them honor."

Mis' Toplady, standing by her wedding dress on the wax form, waved both
her arms.

"Ladies!" she says. "S'posing we ain't any of us dressed up. Can't we
dress up, I'd like to know? Here's all our best bib and tucker present
with us. What's to prevent us putting it on?"

"But the exhibit!" says Mis' Holcomb most into a wail. "The exhibit that
they was to pay fifteen cents apiece for?"

"Well," says Mis' Toplady majestic, "they'll have it, won't they? We'll
tell them which is which--only we'll all be wearing our own!"

Like lightning we decided. Each lady ripped her own dress off its wire
form and scuttled for up-stairs. I took mine too, and headed with them;
and at the turn I met Marjorie Mayhew, running down the stairs.

"Oh!" she says, kind of excited and kind of ashamed. "_Do_ you think
it'd spoil your exhibit if I took--if I wore--that rose dress--"

"No, child," I says. "Go right down and get it. That won't spoil the
exhibit. The exhibit," I says, "is going to be exhibited _on_."

We were into our clothes in no time, hooking each other up, laughing
like girls.

The first of us was just beginning to appear, when the two big cars came
breathing up to the gate.

In came the Hewitts, and land--in one glance I saw there was nothing
about them that was like what we'd always imagined--nothing grand or
sweeping or rustling or cold. I guess that kind of city folks has gone
out of fashion, never to come back. The Hewitts didn't seem like city
folks at all--they seemed just like folks. It made a real nice surprise.
And we all got to be folks, short off. For when I ushered them into my
parlor, there were all the wire dress-forms setting around with nothing
whatever on.

"My land," I says, "we might as well own right up to what we done," I
says. And I told them, frank. And I dunno which enjoyed it the most,
them or us.

The minute I saw him, I knew him. I mean The Nice Voice. I'd have known
him by his voice if I hadn't been acquainted with his face, but I was.
He was the picture that wasn't on Miss Marjorie Mayhew's dresser any
longer--and, even more than the picture, he looked like what you mean
when you say "man." When I was introduced to him I wanted to say: "How
do you do. Oh! I'm _glad_ you look like that. She deserves it!"

But even if I could, I'd have been struck too dumb to do it. For I
caught his name--and he was the only son of the Hewitts, and
heir-evident to all his folks.

The only fault I could lay to his door was that he didn't have any eyes.
Not for us. He was looking every-which-way, and I knew for who. So as
soon as I could, I slips up to him and I says merely:

"This way."

He was right there with me, in a second. I took him up the stairs, and
tapped at my front chamber door.

She was setting in there on her couch, red as a red rose this time. And
when she see who was with me, she looked more so than ever. But she
spoke gentle and self-possessed, as women can that's been trained that
way all their days.

"How do you do?" says she, and gave him her hand, stranger-cool.

That man--he pays no more attention to me than if I hadn't been there.
He just naturally walked across the room, put his hands on her
shoulders, looked deep into her eyes for long enough to read what she
couldn't help being there, and then he took her in his arms.

I slipped out and pulled the door to. And in the hall I met from six to
seven folks coming up to take their things off, and heading straight for
the front chamber. I stood myself up in front of the door.

"Walk right into my room," says I--though I knew full well that it
looked like Bedlam, and that I was letting good housekeepers in to see
it. And so they done. And, more heads appearing on the stairs about
then, I see that what I had to do was to stand where I was--if they were
to have their Great Five Minutes in peace.

Could anybody have helped doing that? And could anybody have helped
hearing that little murmur that came to me from that room?

"Dearest," he said, "how could you--how could you do like this? I've
looked everywhere--"

"I thought," she said, "that you'd never come. I thought you weren't
looking."

"You owe me," he told her solemnly, "six solid weeks of my life. I've
done nothing since you left."

"When a month went by," she owned up, "and you hadn't come, I--I took
your picture off my bureau."

"Where'd you put it?" he asks, stern.

She laughed out, kind of light and joyous.

"In my hand-bag," says she.

Then they were still a minute.

"Walk right to the left, and left your things right on my bed...." I
heard myself saying over, crazy, to some folks. But then of course you
always do expect your hostess to be more or less crazy-headed, and
nobody thought anything of it, I guess.

They came out in just a minute, and we went down the stairs together.
And on the way down he says to her:

"Remember, you're going back with us to-night. And I'm never going to
let you out of my sight again--ever."

And she said: "But I know why. Because it'd be hard work to make me
go...."

At the foot of the stairs Mis' Holcomb met me, her silk dress's collar
under one ear.

"Have you heard?" she says. "We didn't have much exhibit, but the
Hewitts have give us enough for the park--outright."

I'd wanted that park like I'd wanted nothing else for the town. But I
hardly sensed what she said. I was looking acrost to where those two
stood, and pretty soon I walked over to them.

"Is this the Miss Mayhew you were referring to?" I ask' him, demure.

"This," says he, his nice eyes twinkling, "is the only Miss Mayhew
there is."

"You may say that now," says I then, bold. "But--I see you won't call
her that long."

He looked at me, and she looked at me, and they both put out their hands
to me.

"I see," says he, "that we three understand one another perfectly."

FOOTNOTE:

[6] Copyright, 1914, _The Delineator_.



ROSE PINK[7]


_The Art and Loan Dress Exhibit recalls a story of my early association
with Calliope Marsh in Friendship Village, when yet she was not well
known to me--her humanity, her habit of self-giving, her joy in life
other than her own._

_Afterward I knew that I had never seen a woman more keenly and
constantly a participant in the lives of others. She was hardly
individuated at all. She suffered and joyed with others, literally, more
than she did in her "own" affairs. I now feel certain that before we can
reach the individualism which we crave--and have tried to claim too
soon--we must first know such participation as hers in all conscious
life--in all life, conscious or unconscious._

_This is that early story, as I then wrote it down:_

Calliope Marsh had been having a "small company." Though nominally she
was hostess to twenty of us, invited there for six o'clock supper, yet
we did not see Calliope until supper was done. Mis' Postmaster Sykes had
opened the door for us, had told us to "walk up-stairs to the right an'
lay aside your things," and had marshaled us to the dining-room and so
to chairs outlining the room. And there the daughters of most of the
guests had served us while Calliope stayed in the kitchen, with Hannah
Hager to help her, seasoning and stirring and "getting it onto the
plates." Afterward, flushed and, I thought, lovably nervous, Calliope
came in to receive our congratulations and presently to hear
good-nights. But I, who should have hurried home to Madame Josephine,
the modiste from town who that week called my soul her own, waited for a
little to talk it over--partly, I confess, because a fine, driving rain
had begun to fall.

We sat in the kitchen while Calliope ate her own belated supper on a
corner of the kitchen table; and on another corner, thin, tired little
Hannah Hager ate hers. And, as is our way in Friendship, Hannah talked
it over, too--that little maid-of-all-work, who was nowhere attached in
service, but lived in a corner of Grandma Hawley's cottage and went
tirelessly about the village ministering to the needs of us all.

"Everything you hed was lovely, Miss Marsh," Hannah said with shining
content and a tired sigh. "You didn't hev a single set-back, did you?"

"Well, I dunno," Calliope doubted; "it all tastes like so much chips to
me, even now. I was kind o' nervous over my pressed ham, too. I noticed
two o' the plates didn't eat all theirs, but the girls couldn't rec'lect
whose they was. Did you notice?"

"No, sir, I didn't," Hannah confessed with a shake of the head at
herself. "I did notice," she amended brightly, "that Mis' Postmaster
Sykes didn't make way with all her cream, but I guess ice-cream don't
agree with her. She's got a kind o' peculiar stomach."

"Well-a, anybody hev on anything new?" Calliope asked with interest. "I
couldn't tell a stitch anybody hed on. I don't seem to sense things when
I hev company."

There was no need for me to give evidence.

"Oh!" Hannah said, as we say when we mean a thing very much, "didn't you
see Lyddy Eider?"

"Seems to me I did take it in she hed on something pink," Calliope
remembered.

Little Hannah stood up in her excitement.

"Pink, Miss Marsh!" she said. "I should say it was. Pink with cloth,
w'ite. The w'ite," Hannah illustrated it, "went here an' so, in points.
In between was lace an' little ribbon, pink too. An' all up so was
buttons. An' it all rustled w'en she stirred 'round. An' it laid smooth
down, like it was starched an' ironed, an' then all to once it'd slimpse
into folds, soft as soft. An' every way she stood it looked nice--it
didn't pucker nor skew nor hang wrong. It was dressmaker-made, ma'am,"
Hannah concluded impressively. "An' it looked like the pictures in
libr'ry books. My! You'd ought 'a' seen Gramma Hawley. She fair et Lydia
up with lookin' at her."

I, who was not yet acquainted with every one in Friendship, had already
observed the two that day--brown, bent Grandma Hawley and the
elaborately self-possessed Miss Eider, with a conspicuously high-pitched
voice, who lived in the city and was occasionally a guest in the
village. The girl, who I gathered had once lived in Friendship, was like
a living proof that all village maids may become princesses; and the
brooding tenderness of the old woman had impressed me as might a
mourning dove mothering some sprightly tanager.

"Gramma Hawley brought her up from a little thing," Calliope explained
to me now, "and a rich Mis' Eider, from the city, she adopted her, and
Gramma let her go. I guess it near killed Gramma to do it--but she'd
always been one to like nice things herself, and she couldn't get them,
so she see what it'd mean to Lyddy. Lyddy's got pretty proud, she's hed
so much to do with, but she comes back to see Gramma sometimes, I'll say
that for her. Didn't anybody else hev on anything new?"

"No," Hannah knew positively, "they all come out in the same old togs.
When the finger-bowl started I run up in the hall an' peeked down the
register, so's to see 'em pass out o' the room. Comp'ny clo'es don't
change much here in Friendship. Mis' Postmaster Sykes says yest'day,
when we was ironin': 'Folks,' she says, 'don't dress as much here in
Friendship as I wish't we did. Land knows,' Mis' Sykes says, '_I_ don't
dress, neither. But I like to see it done.'"

Calliope, who is sixty and has a rosy, wrinkled face, looked sidewise
down the long vista of the cooking-stove coals.

"Like to see it done!" she repeated. "Why, I get so raving hungry to see
some colored dress-goods on somebody seem's though I'd fly. Black and
brown and gray--gray and brown and black hung on to every woman in
Friendship. Every one of us has our clo'es picked out so everlastin'
_durable_."

Hannah sympathetically giggled with, "Don't they, though?"

"My grief!" Calliope exclaimed. "It reminds me, I got my mother's
calicoes down to pass 'round and I never thought to take them in."

She went to her new golden oak kitchen cabinet--a birthday gift to
Calliope from the Friendship church for her services at its organ--and
brought us her mother's "calicoes"--a huge box of pieces left from every
wool and lawn and "morning housework dress" worn by the Marshes, quick
and passed, and by their friends. Calliope knew them all; and I listened
idly while the procession went by us in sad-colored fabrics--"black and
brown and gray--gray and brown and black."

I think that my attention may have wandered a little, for I was recalled
by some slight stir made by Hannah Hager. She had risen and was bending
toward Calliope, with such leaping wistfulness in her eyes that I
followed her look. And I saw among the pieces, like a bright breast in
sober plumage, a square of chambray in an exquisite color of rose.

"Oh--" said little Hannah softly, "hain't that just _beauti_-ful?"

"Like it, Hannah?" Calliope asked.

"My!" said the little maid fervently.

"It was a dress Gramma Hawley made for Lyddy Eider when she was a little
girl," Calliope explained. "I dunno but what it was the last one she
made for her. Pretty, ain't it? Lyddy always seemed to hanker some after
pink. Gramma mostly always got her pink." Calliope glanced at Hannah,
over-shoulder. "Why don't you get a pink one for _then_?" she asked
abruptly; and, "When is it to be, Hannah?" she challenged her,
teasingly, as we tease for only one cause.

On which I had pleasure in the sudden rose-pink of Hannah's face, and
she sank back in her seat at the table corner in the particular,
delicious anguish that comes but once.

"There, there," said Calliope soothingly, "no need to turn any more
colors, 's I know of. Land, if they ain't enough sandwiches left to fry
for my dinner."

When, presently, Calliope and I were in the dining-room and I was
watching her "redd up" the table while Hannah clattered dishes in the
kitchen, I asked her who Hannah's prince might be. Calliope told me
with a manner of triumph. For was he not Henry Austin, that great,
good-looking giant who helped in the post-office store, whose baritone
voice was the making of the church choir and on whom many Friendship
daughters would not have looked unkindly?

"I'm so glad for her," Calliope said. "She ain't hed many to love
besides Gramma Hawley--and Gramma's so wrapped up in Lyddy Eider. And
yet I feel bad for Hannah, too. All their lives folks here'll likely
say: 'How'd he come to marry _her_?' It's hard to be that kind of woman.
I wish't Hannah could hev a wedding that would show 'em she _is_
somebody. I wish't she could hev a wedding dress that would show them
how pretty she is--a dress all nice, slim lines and folds laid in in the
right places and little unexpected trimmings like you wouldn't think of
having if you weren't real up in dress," Calliope explained. "A dress
like Lyddy Eider always has on."

"Calliope!" I said then, laughing. "I believe you would be a regular
fashion plate, if you could afford it."

"I would," she gravely admitted, "I'm afraid I would. I love nice
clothes and I just worship colors." She hesitated, looking at me with a
manner of shyness. "Sit still a minute, will you?" she said, "I'd like
to show you something."

She went upstairs and I listened to Hannah Hager, clattering kitchen
things and singing:


     "He promised to buy me a bunch of blue ribbons,
     To tie up my bonny brown ha--ir."


Pink chambray and the love of blue ribbons and Miss Lydia Eider in her
dress that was "dressmaker-made." These I turned in my mind, and I found
myself thinking of my visit to the town in the next week, for which
Madame Josephine was preparing; and of how certain elegancies are there
officially recognized instead of being merely divined by the wistful
amateur in color and textile. How Calliope and Hannah would have
delighted, I thought idly, in the town's way of pretty things to wear,
such as Josephine could make; the way that Lydia Eider knew, in her
frocks that were "dressmaker-made." Indeed, Calliope and Hannah and
Lydia Eider had been physically cast in the same mold of prettiness and
of proportion, but only Lydia had come into her own.

And then Calliope came down, and she was bringing a long, white box. She
sat before me with the box on her knee and I saw that she was flushing
like a girl.

"I expect," she said, "you'll think I'm real worldly-minded. I dunno.
Mebbe I am. But when I get out in company and see everybody wearing the
dark shades like they do here in Friendship so's their dresses won't
show dirt, I declare I want to stand up and tell 'em: 'Colors! Colors!
What'd the Lord put colors in the world for? Burn up your black and
brown and gray and get into somethin' _happy_-colored, and see the
difference it'll make in the way you feel inside.' I get so," Calliope
said solemnly, "that when I put on my best black taffeta with the white
turnovers, I declare I could slit it up the back seam. And I've felt
that way a long time. And that's what made me--"

She fingered the white box and lifted the cover from a mass of
tissue-paper.

"When Uncle Ezra Marsh died sixteen years ago last Summer," she said,
"he left me a little bit of money--just a little dab, but enough to mend
the wood-shed roof or buy a new cook-stove or do any of the useful
things that's always staring you in the face. And I turned my back flat
on every one of them. And I put the money in my pocket and went into the
city. And there," said Calliope breathlessly, "I bought this."

She unwrapped it from its tissues, and it was yards and yards of
lustrous, exquisite soft silk, colored rose-pink, and responding in
folds almost tenderly to the hand that touched it.

"It's mine," Calliope said, "mine. My dress. And I haven't ever hed the
sheer, moral courage to get it made up."

And that I could well understand. For though Calliope's delicacy of
figure and feature would have been well enough become by the soft pink,
Friendship would have lifted its hands to see her so and she would
instantly have been "talked about."

"Seems to me," Calliope said, smoothing the silk, "that if I could have
on a dress like this I'd feel another kind of being--sort o' free and
liberty-like. Of course," she added hurriedly, "I know well enough a
pink dress ain't what-you-might-say important. But land, land, how I'd
like one on me in company! Ain't it funny," she added, "in the city
nobody'd think anything of my wearing it. In the city they sort of seem
to know colors ain't wicked, so's they look nice. I use' to think,"
Calliope added, laughing a little, "I'd hev it made up and go to town
and wear it on the street. All alone. Even if it was a black street. I
guess you'll think I'm terrible foolish."

But with that the idea which had come to me vaguely and as an
impossibility, took shape; and I poured it out to Calliope as a thing
possible, desirable, inevitable.

"Calliope!" I said. "Bring the silk to my house. Let Madame Josephine
make it up. And next week come with me to the city--for the opera. We
will have a box--and afterward supper--and you shall wear the pink
gown--and a long, black silk coat of mine--"

"You're fooling--you're _fooling_!" Calliope cried, trembling.

But I made her know how in earnest I was; for, indeed, on the instant my
mind was made up that the thing must be, that the lonely pink dress must
see the light and with it Calliope's shy hopes, long cherished. And so,
before I left her, it was arranged. She had agreed to come next morning
to my house, if Madame Josephine were willing, bringing the rose-pink
silk.

"Me!" she said at last. "Why, me! Why, it's enough to make all the
_me's_ I've been turn over in their graves. And I guess they hev turned
and come trooping out, young again."

Then, as she stood up, letting the soft stuff unwind and fall in shining
abandon, we heard a little noise--tapping, insistent. It was very near
to us--quite in the little passage; and as Calliope turned with the silk
still in her arms the door swung back and there stood Grandma Hawley.
She was leaning on her thick stick, and her gray lace cap was all awry
and a mist of the fine, driving rain was on her gray hair.

"I got m' feet wet," she said querulously. "M' feet are wet. Lyddy's
gone to Mis' Sykes's. I comeback to stay a spell till it dries off
some--"

"Grandma!" Calliope cried, hurrying to her, "I didn't hear you come in.
I never heard you. Come out by the kitchen fire and set your feet in
the oven."

Calliope had tossed the silk on the table and had run to the old woman
with outstretched hand; but the outstretched hand Grandma Hawley did not
see. She stood still, looking by Calliope with a manner rather than an
expression of questioning.

"What is't?" she asked, nodding direction.

Calliope understood, and she slightly lifted her brows and her thin
shoulders, and seemed to glance at me.

"It's some pink for a dress, gramma," she said.

Grandma Hawley came a little nearer, and stood, a neat, bent figure in
rusty black, looking, down at the sumptuous, shining lengths. Then she
laid her brown, veined hand upon the silk--and I remember now her
fingers, being pricked and roughened by her constant needle, caught and
rubbed on the soft stuff.

"My soul," she said, "it's pink silk."

She lifted her face to Calliope, the perpetual trembling of her head
making her voice come tremulously.

"That's what Abe Hawley was always talkin' when I married him," she
said. "'A pink silk dress fer ye, Minnie. A fine pink silk to set ye
off,' s' 'e over an' over. I thought I was a-goin' to hev it. I hed the
style all picked out in my head. I know I use' to lay awake nights an'
cut it out. But, time the cookin' things was paid for, the first baby
come--an' then the other three to do for. An' Abe he didn't say pink
silk after the fourth. But I use' to cut it out in the night, fer all
that. I dunno but I cut it out yet, when I can't get to sleep an' my
head feels bad. My head ain't right. It bothers me some, hummin' and
ringin'. Las' night m' head--"

"There, there, gramma," said Calliope, and took her arm. "You come along
with me and set your feet in the oven."

I had her other arm, and we turned toward the kitchen. And we were
hushed as if we had heard some futile, unfulfilled wish of the dead
still beating impotent wings.

In the kitchen doorway Hannah Hager was standing. She must have seen
that glowing, heaped-up silk on the table, but it did not even hold her
glance. For she had heard what Grandma Hawley had been saying, and it
had touched her, who was so jealously devoted to the old woman, perhaps
even more than it had touched Calliope and me.

"Miss Marsh, now," Hannah tried to say, "shall I put the butter that's
left in the cookin'-butter jar?" And then her little features were
caught here and there in the puckers of a very child's weeping, and she
stood before us as a child might stand, crying softly without covering
her face. She held out a hand to the old woman, and Calliope and I let
her lead her to the stove. My heart went out to the little maid for her
tears and to Calliope for the sympathy in her eyes.

Grandma Hawley was talking on.

"I must 'a' got a little cold," she said plaintively. "It always settles
in my head. My head's real bad. An' now I got m' feet wet--"


II

To Madame Josephine, the modiste who sometimes comes to me with her
magic touch, transforming this and that, I confided something of my
plans for Calliope, asked her if she would do what she could. Her
kindly, emotional nature responded to the situation as to a kind of
challenge.

"_Bien!_" she cried. "We shall see. You say she is slim--_petite_--with
some little grace? _Bien!_"

So when, next day, Calliope arrived at my house with her parcel brought
forth for the first time in sixteen years, she found madame and me both
tip-toe with excitement. And from some bewildering plates madame
explained how she would cut and suit and "correct" mademoiselle.

"The effect shall be long, slim, excellent. Soft folds from one's
waist--so. From one's shoulder--so. A line of velvet here and here and
down. _Bien!_ Mademoiselle will look younger than everyone! _If_
mademoiselle would wave ze hair back a ver' little--so?" the French
woman delicately advanced.

"Ma'moiselle," returned Calliope recklessly, "will do anything you want
her to, short of a pink rose over one ear. My land, I never hed a dress
before that I didn't hev to skimp the pattern and make it up less
according to my taste than according to my cloth."

That day I sent to the city for a box at the opera. I chose "Faust," and
smiled as I planned to sing the Jewel Song for Calliope before we went,
and to laugh at her in her surprising rôle of Butterfly. "_Ah, je ris de
me voir si belle._" A lower proscenium box, a modest suite at a
comfortable hotel, a little supper, a cab--I planned it all for the
pleasure of watching her; and all this would, I knew, be given its
significance by the wearing of the anomalous, rosy gown. And I loved
Calliope for her weakness as we love the whip-poor-will for his little
catching of the breath.

On the day that our tickets came Calliope appeared before me in some
anxiety.

"Calliope," I said, without observing this, "our opera box is, so to
speak, here."

But instead of the light in her face that I had expected:

"What night?" she abruptly demanded.

"For 'Faust,' on Wednesday," I told her.

And instead of her delight of which I had made sure:

"Will the six-ten express get us in the city too late?" she wanted to
know.

And when I had agreed to the six-ten express:

"It's all right then," she said in relief. "They can hev it a little
earlier and take the six-ten themselves instead of the accommodation.
Hannah and Henry's going to get married a' Wednesday," she explained. "I
hev to be here for that."

Then she told me of the simple plan for Hannah Hager's marriage to her
good-looking giant. Naturally, Grandma Hawley could not think of "giving
Hannah a wedding," so these poor little plans had been for some time
wandering about unparented.

"_I_ wanted," Calliope said, "she should be married in the church with
Virginia creeper on the pew arms, civilized. But Hannah said that'd be
putting on airs and she'd be so scairt she couldn't be solemn. Mis'
Postmaster Sykes, she invited her real cordial to be married in her
sitting-room, but Hannah spunked up and wouldn't. 'A sitting-room
weddin',' s' she to me, private, ''d be like bein' baptized in the
pantry. A parlor,' s' she, ''s the only true place for a wedding. And I
haven't no parlor, so we'll go to the minister's and stand up in _his_
parlor. Do you think,' s' she to me, real pitiful, 'Henry can respec' me
with no place to set m' foot in to be married but jus' the public
parsonage?' Poor little thing! Her wedding-dress is nothing but a last
year's mull with a sprig in, either. And her traveling-dress to go to
the city is her reg'lar brown Sunday suit."

"And they are going to the minister's?" I asked.

"Well, no," Calliope answered apologetically. "I asked them to be
married at my house. I never thought about the opera when I done it. I
never thought about anything but that poor child. I guess you'll think
I'm real flighty. But I always think when two's married in the parsonage
and the man pays the minister, it's like the bride is just the groom's
guest at the cer'mony. And it ain't real dignified for her, seems
though."

I knew well what this meant: That Calliope would have "asked in a few"
and "stirred up" this and that delectable, and gone to no end of trouble
and an expense which she could ill afford. Unless, as she was wont to
say: "When it comes to doing for other people there ain't such a word as
'afford.' You just go ahead and do it and keep some rational yourself,
and the _afford_ 'll sort o' bloom out right, same's a rose."

So for Hannah, Calliope had caused things to "bloom right, same's a
rose," as one knew by Hannah's happy face. On Tuesday she was helping at
my house ("Brides always like extry money," Calliope had advanced when
I had questioned the propriety of asking her to iron on the day before
her marriage) and, on going unexpectedly to the kitchen I came on Hannah
with a patent flat-iron in one hand and a piece of beeswax in the other,
and Henry, her good-looking giant, was there also and was frankly
holding her in his arms. I liked him for his manly way when he saw me
and most of all that he did not wholly release her but, with one arm
about her, contrived a kind of bow to me. But it was Hannah who spoke.

"Oh, ma'am," she said shyly, "I _hope_ you'll overlook. We've hed an
awful time findin' any place to keep company, only walkin' 'round the
high-school yard!"

My heart was still warm within me at the little scene as I went upstairs
to see Calliope in her final fitting of the rose-pink gown, the work on
which had gone on apace. And I own that, as I saw her standing before my
long triple mirrors, I was amazed. The rosy gown suited the little body
wonderfully and with her gray hair and delicate brightness of cheeks,
she looked like some figure on a fan, exquisitely and picturesquely
painted. The gown was, as Calliope had said that a gown should be, "all
nice, slim lines and folds laid in in the right places, and little
unexpected trimmings like you wouldn't think of having them if you
wasn't real up in dress." It was a triumph for skillful madame, who had
wrought with her impressionable French heart as well as with her
scissors.

Calliope laughed as she looked over-shoulder in the mirrors.

"My soul," she said, "I feel like a sparrow with a new pink tail! I
declare, the dress looks more like Lyddy Eider herself than it looks
like me. Do you think I look enough like me so's you'd sense it _was_
me?"

"Mademoiselle," said Madame Josephine simply, "has a look of another
world."

"I wish't I could see it on somebody," Calliope said wistfully; and
since I was far too tall and madame not sufficiently "slendaire,"
Calliope cried:

"There's Hannah! She's downstairs helping, ain't she? Couldn't Hannah
come upstairs a minute and put it on? We're most of a size!"

And indeed they were, as I had noted, cast in the same mold of
proportion and prettiness.

So, with madame just leaving for the city, and I obliged to go down to
the village, Calliope and Hannah Hager were left alone with the
rose-pink silk gown, which fitted them both. Ought I not to have known
what would happen?

And yet it came as a shock to me when, an hour later, as I passed
Calliope's gate on my way home, she ran out and stood before me in some
unusual excitement.

"Do they take back your opera boxes?" she demanded.

"No," I assured her, "they do not. Nor," I added suspiciously, "do folk
take back their promises, you know, Calliope!"

"Well," she said miserably, "I expec' I've done wrong by you. The
righter you try to do by some folks seems 's though the wronger it comes
down on others. Oh," she cried, "I wish't I always knew what was right!
But I can't go to the opera and I can't sit in the box. Yes, sir--I
guess you'll think I'm real flighty and I dunno but what I am. But I've
give my pink silk dress to Hannah Hager for her wedding. And I've lied
some. I've said I meant she should hev it all along!"


III

The news that Calliope was to "give Hannah Hager a wedding" was received
in Friendship with unaffected pleasure. Every one liked the tireless
little thing, and those who could do so sent something to Calliope's
house for a wedding-gift. These things Calliope jealously kept secret,
intending not to let Hannah see them until the very hour of the
ceremony. But when on Wednesday, some while before the appointed time, I
went to the house, Calliope took me to the dining-room where the gifts
were displayed.

"Some of 'em's real peculiar," she confided; "some of 'em's what I call
pick-up presents--things from 'round the house, you know. Mis'
Postmaster Sykes she sent over the rug with the running dog on, and
she's hed it in her parlor in a dark corner for years an' Hannah must
have cleaned it many's the time. Mis' Holcomb-that-was-Mame-Bliss sent
her old drop-leaf mahogany table, being she's got a new oak. The Liberty
girls sent two of their chickens, live, for the wedding lunch, and I
dassent to kill them--I'm real queer like that--so I hed to send for the
groom, and he run up noon-hour and done it. And so on. But quite a few
things are new--the granite iron and the drip coffee-pot and the
sweeper's all new. And did you hear what Gramma Hawley done? Drew five
dollars of her burial money out of the savings bank and give it to
Hannah right out. You know how Gramma fixed it--she had Zittelhof figger
up her funeral expenses and she banked the sum, high and dry, and left
herself just bare enough to live on coming in. But now she drew the five
out and give Zittelhof to understand he'd hev to skimp some on her
coffin. Hannah told me, crying like a child at the i-dee."

Calliope paused impressively, and shook her head at space.

"But wouldn't you have thought," she demanded, "that Lyddy Eider might
have give Hannah a little something to wear? One of her old dresses for
street would have sent Hannah cloud-high, and over. I s'pose you heard
what she did send? Mis' Postmaster Sykes run over to tell me. A man from
the city come up by trolley sense noon to-day, bringing a rug from
Lyddy. Well, of course a rug's a rug," Calliope admitted, "but it ain't
a dress, seem's though. Hannah knows about Gramma's an' Lyddy's, but she
don't know a word about the other presents. I do admire a surprise."

As for me, I, too, love a surprise. And that was why I had sent to the
station a bag packed for both Calliope and me; and I meant, when the
wedding guests should have gone, to take no denial, but to hurry
Calliope into her "black grosgrain with the white turnovers," and with
her to catch the six-ten express as we had planned aforetime. For pink
silk might appear and disappear, but "Faust" would still be "Faust."

There were ten guests at Hannah's wedding, friends of hers and of
Henry's, pleasantly excited, pleasantly abashed.

"And not one word do they know about the pink silk," Calliope whispered
me. "Hannah's going to come with it on--I let her take my tan ulster to
wear over her, walking through the streets, so. Do you know," she said
earnestly, "if it wasn't for disappointing you I wouldn't feel anything
but good about that dress?"

"Ah, well, I won't be disappointed," I prophesied confidently.

Grandma Hawley was last to arrive. And the little old woman was in some
stress of excitement, talking incessantly and disconnectedly; but this
we charged to the occasion.

"My head ain't right," she said. "It ain't been right for a while
back--it hums and rings some. When I went in the room I thought it was
my head the matter. I thought I didn't see right. But I did--I did,
Hannah said I did. My head felt some better this mornin', an' that was
there, just the same. I thought I'd be down flat on my back when I got
m' feet wet, but I'd be all right if m' head wa'n't so bad. I must tell
Hannah what I done. Why don't Hannah come?"

Hannah was, as a matter of fact, somewhat late at her wedding. We were
all in some suspense when we saw her at last, hurrying up the street
with Henry, who had gallantly called to escort her; and Calliope and I
went to the door to meet her.

But when Hannah entered in Calliope's tan ulster buttoned closely about
her throat, she was strangely quiet and somewhat pale and her eyes, I
was certain, were red with weeping.

"Is Gramma here?" she asked at once, and, at our answer, merely turned
to hurry upstairs where Calliope and I were to adjust the secret
wedding-gown and fasten a pink rose in her hair. And, as we went, Henry
added still further to our anxiety by calling from the gay little crowd
about him a distinctly soothing:

"Now, then. Now, then, Hannah!"

Up in Calliope's tiny chamber Hannah turned and faced us, still with
that manner of suppressed and escaping excitement. And when we would
have helped with the ulster she caught at its collar and held it about
her throat as if, after all, she were half minded to depart from the
place and let her good-looking giant be married alone.

"Oh, Miss Marsh, ma'am," she said, trembling, "oh, Miss Marsh. I can't
dare tell you what I done."

With that she broke down and cried, and Calliope promptly took her in
her arms, as I think that she would have liked to take the whole
grieving world. And now, as she soothed her, she began gently to
unbutton the tan ulster, and Hannah let her take it off. But even the
poor child's tears had not prepared us for what was revealed.

Hannah had come to her wedding wearing, not the rose-pink silk, but the
last year's mull "with the sprig in."

"Well, sir!" cried Calliope blankly. "Well, Hannah Hager--"

The little maid sat on the foot of the bed, sobbing.

"Oh, Miss Marsh, ma'am," she said, "you know--don't you know,
ma'am?--how I was so glad about the dress you give me't I was as weak
as a cat all over me. All las' night in the evenin' I was like a trance
an' couldn't get my supper down, an' all. An' Gramma, she was over to
Mis' Sykes's to supper an' hadn't seen it. An' Gramma an' I sleep
together, an' I went an' spread the dress on the bed, an' I set side of
it till Henry come. An' I l-left it there to hev him go in an' l-look at
it. An' we was in the kitchen a minute or two first. An' nex' we knew,
Gramma, she stood in the inside door. An' I thought she was out of her
head she was so wild-like an' laughin' an' cryin'. An' she set down on a
chair, an' s' she: 'He's done it. He's done it. He's kep' his word.
Look--look on my bed,' s' she, 'an' see if I ain't seen it right. Abe
Hawley,' s' she, 'he's sent me my pink silk dress he wanted to, out o'
the grave!'"

Hannah's thin, rough little hands were clinched on her knee and her eyes
searched Calliope's face.

"Oh, Miss Marsh, ma'am," she said, "she was like one possessed, beggin'
me to look at it an' tell her if it wasn't so. She thought mebbe it
might be her head. So I went an' told her the dress was hers," the
little maid sobbed. "I was scairt she'd make herself sick takin' on so.
An' after_wards_ I couldn't a-bear to tell her any different. Ma'am, if
you could 'a' seen her! She took her rocker an' set by the bed all
hours, kind o' gentlin' the silk with her hands. An' she wouldn't go to
bed an' disturb it off, an' I slep' on the dinin'-room lounge with the
shawl over me. An' this m-mornin' she went on just the same. An' after
dinner Lyddy sent a man from town with a rug for me, an' I set on the
back stoop so's not to see him, I was cryin' so. An' when I come in
Gramma hed shut the bedroom door an' gone. I couldn't trust me even to
l-look in the bedroom for fear I'd put it on. An' I couldn't take it
away from her--I couldn't. Not with all she's done for me, an' the five
dollars an' all. Oh, Miss Marsh, ma'am--" Hannah ended helplessly.

It seemed to me that I had never known Calliope until that moment.

"Gracious," she said to Hannah calmly, "crying that way for a little
pink silk dress, and Henry waiting for you downstairs! Wipe up your eyes
this instant minute, Hannah, and get to 'I will'!"

I think that this attitude of Calliope's must have tranquillized the
wildest. In spite of the reality of the tragedy, it was no time at all
until, having put the pink rose in Hannah's hair, anyway, Calliope and I
led the little bride downstairs. For was there not a reality of
happiness down there?

"After all, Henry was marrying you and not the dress, you know,"
Calliope reminded her on the landing.

"That's what he keeps a-sayin'," consented Hannah with a wan little
smile, "but oh, ma'am--" she added, for Hannah was all feminine.

And when the "I will" had been said, I loved the little creature for
taking Grandma Hawley in her arms.

"Did they tell you what I done?" the old woman questioned anxiously when
Hannah kissed her. "I was savin' it to tell you, an' it went out o' my
head. An' I dunno--did you know what I done?" she persisted.

But the others crowded forward with congratulation and, as was their
fashion, with teasing; and presently I think that even the rosy gown was
forgotten in Hannah's delight over her unexpected gifts. The
graniteware, the sweeper, the rug with the running dog--after all, was
ever any one so blessed?

And as I watched them--Hannah and her great, good-looking adoring
giant--I who, like Calliope, love a surprise, caught a certain plan by
its shining wings and held it close. They say that when one does this
such wings bear one away--and so it proved.

I found my chance and whispered my plan to Hannah, half for the pastime
of seeing the quickening color in her cheek and the light in her eyes.
Then I told the giant, chiefly for the sake of noting how some
mischievous god smote him with a plague of blushes. And they both
consented--and that is the way when one clings to the wings of a plan.

So it came about that in the happy bustle of the parting, as Hannah in
her "regular brown Sunday suit" went away on Henry's arm, they two and
I exchanged glances of pleasant significance. Then, when every one had
gone, I turned to Calliope with authority.

"Put on," I bade her, "your black grosgrain silk with the white
turnovers--and mind you don't slit it up the back seam!"

"I'm a-goin' to do my dishes up," said Calliope. "Can't you set a spell
and talk it over?"

"Hurry," I commanded, "or we shall miss the six-ten express!"

"What do you mean?" she asked in alarm.

"Leave everything," said I. "There's a box waiting for us at the opera
to-night. And supper afterward."

"You ain't--" she said tremulously.

"I am," I assured her firmly, "and so are you. And Hannah and Henry are
going with us. Hurry!"


IV

     "He promised to buy me a bunch of blue ribbons"


is, in effect, the spirit of the "_Ah, je ris de me voir si belle_" of
"Marguerite" when she opens the casket of jewels. As we sat, the four of
us, in the dimness of the opera box--Calliope in her black silk with the
white turnovers, Hannah in her "regular brown Sunday suit," and Henry
and I, it seemed to me that Marguerite's song was really concerning the
delight of rose-pink silk. And I found myself grieving anew for the
innocent hopes that had been dissolved, immaterial as Abe Hawley's
message from the grave.

Then the curtain fell on the third act and the soft thunder of applause
spent itself and the lights leaped up. And immediately I was aware of a
conspicuously high-pitched voice at the door of the box, a voice which
carried with it some consciousness of elaborate self-possession.

"Really!" said the voice. "Of all people! My dear Hannah--and Calliope
Marsh! You butterflies--"

I looked up, and at first all that I saw was a gown which "laid smooth
down--and then all to once it'd slimpse into folds, soft as soft--and
didn't pucker nor skew nor hang wrong"; a gown that was "dressmaker
made"; a gown, in short, such as Lydia Eider "always hed on." And there
beside us stood Lydia Eider herself, wearing some exquisite, priceless
thing of pink chiffon and old lace, with a floating, glittering scarf on
her arms.

I remember that she seemed some splendid, tropic bird alight among our
nun-like raiment. A man or two, idling attendance, were rapidly and
perfunctorily presented to us--one, who was Lydia's adopted brother,
showing an amused cordiality to Henry. And I saw how the glasses were
instantly turned from pit and boxes toward her--this girl who, with
Calliope and Hannah, had been cast in one mold of prettiness and
proportion and who alone of the three, as I thought, had come into her
own.

And Lydia said:

"_Will_ you tell me how on earth Grandma Hawley came to send me a pink
silk dress to-day? You didn't know! But she did--on my honor. It came
this afternoon by the man I sent out to you, Hannah. And so decently
made--how can it have happened? Made for me too--positively I can wear
it--though nearly everything I have is pink. But how did Grandma come to
do it? And _where_ did she get it? And why--"

She talked on for a little, elaborating, wondering. But I fancy that she
must have thought us uncommonly stupid, for none of us had the faintest
suggestion to offer. We listened, and murmured a bit about the health of
Grandma Hawley, and Henry said some hesitating thanks, in which Hannah
barely joined, for the wedding gift of the rug, but none of us gave
evidence. And at last, with some gracious word, Lydia Eider left the
box, trailing her pink chiffon skirts and saying the slight good-by
which utterly forgets one.

But when she had gone, Calliope laughed, softly and ambiguously and
wholly contagiously, so that Hannah, whose face had begun to pucker like
a child's, unwillingly joined her. And then, partly because of Henry's
reassuring, "Now then, now then, Hannah," and partly at the touch of
his big hand and in the particular, delicious embarrassment which comes
but once, Hannah tremulously spoke her conclusion:

"I don't care," she said, "I don't care! I'm _glad_--for Gramma."

Calliope sat smiling, looking, in her delicate color and frailty and the
black and white of her dress, like some one on a fan, exquisitely and
appropriately painted.

"I was thinking," she said brightly to Hannah, "going without a thing is
some like a jumping tooth. It hurts you before-hand, but when it's gone
for good all the hurt sort of eases down and peters out and can't do you
any more harm."

But I think they both knew that this was not all. For some way, outside
the errantry of prettiness and proportion, Calliope and Hannah too had
come into their own.

I looked at Calliope, her face faintly flushed by the unwonted hour; at
Hannah, rosy little bride; and at her adoring giant over whom some god
had cast the usual spell of wedding blushes.

Verily, I thought, would not one say there is rose pink enough in the
world for us all?

As the curtain rose again Calliope leaned toward me. "I don't believe
any dress," she said, "pink silk or any other kind, ever dressed up so
many folks's souls!"

FOOTNOTE:

[7] Copyright, 1913, The Delineator.



PEACE[8]


When they went to South America for six months, the Henslows, that live
across the street from me, wanted to rent their cottage. And of course,
being a neighbor, I wanted them to get the fifteen dollars a month.
But--being the cottage was my neighbor--I couldn't help, deep down in my
inner head, feeling kind of selfish pleased that it stood vacant a
while. It's a chore to have a new neighbor in the summer. They always
want to borrow your rubber fruit-rings, and they forget to return some;
and they come in and sit in the mornings when you want to get your work
out of the way before the hot part of a hot day crashes down on you. I
can neighbor agreeable when the snow flies, but summers I want my porch
and my rocker and my wrapper and my palm-leaf fan, and nobody to call
on. And--I don't want to sound less neighborly than I mean to sound--I
don't want any real danger of being what you might say called-on--not
till the cool of the day.

Then, on a glorious summer morning, right out of a clear blue sky, what
did I see but two trunks plopped down on the Henslows' porch! I knew
they were never back so soon. I knew the two trunks meant renters, and
nothing but renters.

"I'll bet ten hundred thousand dollars one of them plays the flute and
practices evenings," I says.

I didn't catch sight of them till the next morning, and then I saw him
head for the early train into the city, and her stand at the gate and
watch him. And, my land, she was in a white dress and she didn't look
twenty years old.

So I went right straight over.

"My dear," I says, "I dunno what your name is, but I'm your neighbor,
and I dunno what more we need than that."

She put out her hand--just exactly as if she was glad. She had a
wonderful sweet, loving smile--and she smiled with that.

So I says: "I thought moving in here with trunks, so, you might want
something. And if I can let you have anything--jars or jelly-glasses or
rubber rings or whatever, why, just you--"

"Thank you, Miss Marsh," she says. "I know you're Miss Marsh--Mrs.
Henslow told me about you."

"The same," says I, neat.

"I'm Mrs. Harry Beecher," she says. "I--we were just married last week,"
she says, neat as a biography.

"So you was!" I says. "Well, now, you just let me be to you what your
folks would want me to be, won't you?" says I. "Feel," I says, "just
like you could run in over to my house any time, morning, noon or night.
Call on me for anything. Come on over and sit with me if you feel
lonesome--or if you don't. My side porch is real nice and cool and shady
all the afternoon--"

And so on. And wasn't that nice to happen to me, right in the middle of
the dead of summer, with nothing going on?

If you have lived in the immediate neighborhood of a bride and groom,
you know what I am going to tell about.

But if you haven't, try to rent your next house--if you rent--or try to
buy your next home--if you buy--somewhere in the more-or-less
neighborhood of a bride and groom. Because it's an education. It's an
education in living. No--I don't believe I mean that the way you think I
mean it at all. I mean it another way.

To be sure, there were the mornings, when I saw them come out from
breakfast and steal a minute or two hanging round the veranda before he
had to start off. That was as nice as a picture, and nicer. I got so I
timed my breakfast so's I could be watering my flower-beds when this
happened, and not miss it. He usually pulled the vines over better, or
weeded a little near the step, or tinkered with the hinge of the screen,
or fussed with the bricks where the roots had pushed them up. And she
sat on the steps and talked with him, and laughed now and then with her
little pretty laugh. (Not many women can laugh as pretty as she did--and
we all ought to be able to do it. Sometimes I wish somebody would start
a school to teach pretty laughing, and somebody else would make us all
go to it.) And I knew how they were pretending that this was really
their own home, and playing proprietor and householder, just like
everybody else. And of course that was pleasurable to me to see--but
that wasn't what I meant.

Nor I didn't mean times when she'd be out in the garden during the day,
and the telephone bell would ring, and she would throw things and head
for the house, running, because she thought it might be him calling her
up from the city. Most usually it was. I always knew it had been him
when she came back singing.

And then there were the late afternoons, say, almost an hour before the
first train that he could possibly come on and that now and then he
caught. Always before it was time for that she would open her front door
that she'd had closed all day to keep her house cool, and she'd bring
her book or her sewing out on the porch, and never pay a bit of
attention to either, because she sat looking up the street. There was
only a little bit of shade on her porch that time in the afternoon, and
I used to want to ask her to come over on my cool, shady side porch,
but I had the sense not to. I sort of understood how she liked to sit
out there where she was, on their own porch, waiting for him. Then he'd
come, and she'd sit out in the garden and read to him while he dug in
the beds, or she'd sew on the porch while he cut the grass--well, now,
it don't sound like much as I tell it, does it?--and yet it used to look
wonderful sweet to me, looking across the street.

But as I said, it wasn't any of these times, nor yet the long summer
evenings when I could just see the glimmer of her white dress on the
porch or in the garden, or their shadows on the curtain, rainy evenings;
no, it wasn't these times that made me wish for everybody in the world
that they lived next door to a bride and groom. But the thing I mean
came to me all of a sudden, when they hadn't been my neighbors for a
week. And it came to me like this:

One night I'd had them over for supper. It had been a hot day, and
ordinarily I'm opposed to company on a hot day; but some way having
_them_ was different. And then I didn't imagine she was so very used to
cooking, and I got to thinking maybe a meal away from home would be a
rest.

And after supper we'd been walking around my yard, looking at my late
cosmos and wondering whether it would get around to bloom before the
frost. And they had been telling me how they meant to plant their
garden when they got one of their own. I liked to keep them talking
about it, because his face lit up so young and boyish, and hers got all
soft and bright; and they looked at each other like they could see that
garden planted and up and growing and pretty near paid for. So I kept
egging them on, asking this and that, just to hear them plan.

"One whole side of the wall," said he, "we'll have lilacs and
forsythia."

She looked at him. "I thought we said hollyhocks there," she said.

"Well, don't you remember," he said, "we changed that when you said
you'd planned, ever since you were a little girl to have lilacs and
forsythia on the edge of your garden?"

"Well--so I did," she remembered. "But I thought you said you liked
hollyhocks best?"

"Maybe I did," says he. "I forget. I don't know but I did for a while.
But I think of it this way now."

She laughed. "Why," she said, "I was getting to _prefer_ hollyhocks."

I noticed that particular. Then we came round the corner of the house.
And the street looked so peaceful and lovely that I knew just how he
felt when he said:

"Let's us three go and take a drive in the country. Can't we? We could
get a carriage somewhere, couldn't we?"

And she says like a little girl, "Oh, yes, let's. But don't you s'pose
we could rent a car here from somebody?"

I liked to look at his look when he looked at her. He done it now.

"A car?" he said. "But you're nervous when I drive. Wouldn't you rather
have a horse?"

"Well, but you'd rather have a car," she said. "And I'd like to know you
were liking that best! And, truly, I don't think I'd care much--now."

Then I took a hand. "You look here," I says. "I'd really ought to step
down to Mis' Merriman's to a committee meeting. I've been trying to make
myself believe I didn't need to go, but I know I ought to. And you two
take your drive."

They fussed a little, but that was the way we arranged it. I went off to
my meeting before I saw which they did get to go in. But that didn't
make any difference. All the way to the meeting I kept thinking about
lilacs and hollyhocks and horses and cars. And I saw what had happened
to those two: they loved each other so much that they'd kind of lost
track of the little things that they thought had mattered so much, and
neither could very well remember which they had really had a leaning
towards of all the things.

"It's a kind of _each-otherness_!" I says to myself. "It's a new thing.
That ain't giving-upness. Giving-upness is when you still want what you
give up. This is something else. It's each-otherness. And you can't get
it till you _care_."

But then I thought of something else. It wasn't only them--it was me! It
was like I had caught something from them. For of course I'd rather have
gone driving with those two than to have gone to any committee meeting,
necessary or not. But I knew now that I'd been feeling inside me that of
course they didn't want an old thing like me along, and that of course
they'd rather have their drive alone, horse _or_ automobile. And so I'd
kind of backed out according. Being with them had made me feel a sort of
each-otherness too. It was wonderful. I thought about it a good deal.

And when I came home and see that they'd got back first, and were
sitting on the porch with no lights in the house yet, except the one
burning dim in the hall, I sat upstairs by my window quite a while. And
I says to myself:

"If only there was a bride and groom in every single house all up and
down the streets of the village--"

And I could almost think how it would be with everybody being decent to
each other and to the rest, just sheer because they were all happy.

Picture how I felt, then, when not six weeks later, on a morning all
yellow and blue and green, and tied onto itself with flowers, little
Mrs. Bride came standing at my side door, knocking on the screen, and
her face all tear-stained.

"Gracious, now," I says, "did breakfast burn?"

She came in. She always wore white dresses and little doll caps in the
morning, and she sit down at the end of my dining-room table, looking
like a rosebud in trouble.

"Oh, Miss Marsh," she says, "it isn't any laughing matter. Something's
happened between us. We've spoke cross to each other."

"Well, well," I says, "what was that for?"

I s'posed maybe he'd criticized the popovers, or something equally
universal had occurred.

"_That_ was it," she says. "We've spoke cross to each other, Miss
Marsh."

And then it came to me that it didn't seem to be bothering her at all
what it was about. The only thing that stuck out for her was that they'd
spoke cross to each other.

"So!" I says. "And you've got to wait all day long before you can patch
it up. Why don't you call him up?" I ask her. "It's only twenty cents
for the three minutes--and you can get it all in that."

She shook her head. "That's the worst of it," she says. "I can't do it.
Neither can he. I'm not that sort--to be able to give in after I've been
mad and spoke harsh. I'm--I'm afraid neither of us will, even when he
gets home."

Then I sat up straight. This, I see, was serious--most as serious as
she thought.

"What's the reason?" says I.

"I dunno," she says. "We're like that--both of us. We're awful proud--no
matter how much we want to give in, we can't."

I sat looking at her.

"Call him up," I says.

She shook her head again and made her pretty mouth all tight.

"I couldn't," she says. "I couldn't."

She seemed to like to sit and talk it over, kind of luxurious. She told
me how it began--some twopenny thing about screens in the parlor window.
She told me how one thing led to another. I let her talk and I sat there
thinking. Pretty soon she went home and she never sung once all day. It
didn't seem as if anybody's screens were worth that.

I'm not one that's ashamed of looking at anything I'm interested in.
When it came time for the folks from the afternoon local, I sat down in
my parlor behind the Nottinghams. I saw she never came out to the gate.
And when he came home I could see her white dress out in the back garden
where she was pretending to work.

He sat down on the front porch and smoked, and seemed to read the paper.
She came in the house after a while, and finally she appeared in the
front door for three-fourths of a second.

"Your supper's ready for you," I heard her say. And then I knew,
certain sure, how they were both sitting there at their table not
speaking a word.

I ate my own supper, and I felt like a funeral was going on. It kills
something in me to have young folks, or any folks, act like that. And
when I went back in the parlor I saw him on the front porch again,
smoking, and her on the side porch playing with the kitten.

"It's the first death," I says. "It's their first kind of death. And I
can't stand it a minute longer."

So when I saw him start out pretty soon to go downtown alone--I went to
my front gate and I called to him to come over. He came--a fine,
close-knit chap he was, with the young not rubbed out of his face yet,
and his eyes window-clear.

"The catch on my closet-door don't act right," I says. "I wonder if
you'll fix it for me?"

He went up and done it, and I ran for the tools for him and tried to get
my courage up. When he got through and came down I was sitting on my
hall-tree.

"Mr. Groom," I says--that was my name for him--"I hope you won't think
I'm interfering _too_ much, but I want to speak to you serious about
your wife."

"Yes," he says, short.

I went on, never noticing: "I dunno whether you've took it in, but
there seems to be something wrong with her."

"Wrong with her?" he says.

"Yes, sir," I says. "And I dunno but awfully wrong. I've been noticing
lately." (I didn't say _how_ lately.)

"What do you mean?" says he, and sat down on the bottom step.

"Don't you see," I says, "that she don't look well? She don't act no
more like herself than I do. She hasn't," says I, truthful, "half the
spirit to her to-day that she had when you first came here to the
village."

"Why--no," he says, "I hadn't noticed--"

"You wouldn't," says I. "You wouldn't be likely to. But it seems to me
that you ought to be warned--and be on your guard."

"_Warned!_" he says, and I saw him get pale--I tell you I saw him get
pale.

"I'm not easy alarmed," I told him. "And when I see anything serious, it
ain't in my power to stand aside and not say anything."

"Serious," he says over. "Serious? But, Miss Marsh, can you give me any
idea--"

"I've give you a hint," says I, "that it's something you'd ought to be
mighty careful about. I dunno's I can do much more; I dunno's I ought to
do that. But if anything should happen--"

"Good heavens!" he says. "You don't think she's that bad off?"

"--if anything should happen," I went on, calm, "I didn't want to have
myself to blame for not having spoke up in time. Now," says I, brisk,
"you were just going downtown. And I've got a taste of jell I want to
take over to her. So I won't keep you."

He got up, looking so near like a tree that's had its roots hacked at
that I 'most could have told him that I didn't mean the kind of death he
was thinking of at all. But I didn't say anything more. And he thanked
me, humble and grateful and scared, and went off downtown. He looked
over to the cottage, though, when he shut my gate--I noticed that. She
wasn't anywhere in sight. Nor she wasn't when I stepped up onto her
porch in a minute or two with a cup-plate of my new quince jell that I
wanted her to try.

"Hello," I says in the passage. "Anybody home?"

There was a little shuffle and she came out of the dining-room. There
was a mark all acrost her cheek, and I judged she'd been lying on the
couch out there crying.

"Get a teaspoon," says I, "and come taste my new receipt."

She came, lack-luster, and like jell didn't make much more difference
than anything else. We sat down, cozy, in the hammock, me acting like
I'd forgot everything in the world about what had gone before. I rattled
on about the new way to make my jell and then I set the sample on the
sill behind the shutter and I says:

"I just had Mr. Groom come over to fix the latch on my closet-door. I
dunno what was wrong with it--when I shut it tight it went off like a
gun in the middle of the night. Mr. Groom fixed it in just a minute."

"Oh, he did," says she, about like that.

"He's awful handy with tools," I says. And she didn't say anything. And
then says I:

"Mrs. Bride, we're old friends by now, ain't we?"

"Why, yes," says she, "and good friends, I hope."

"That's what I hope," I says. "And now," I went on, "I hope you won't
think I'm interfering too much, but I want to speak to you serious about
your husband."

"My husband?" says she, short.

I went on, never noticing. "I don't know whether you've took it in, but
there seems to be something wrong with him."

"What do you mean?" she says, looking at me.

"Well, sir," I says, "I ain't sure. I can't tell just how wrong it is.
But something is ailing him."

"Why, I haven't noticed anything," she says, and come over to a chair
nearer to me.

"You don't mean," I says, "that you don't notice the change there's been
in him?"--I didn't say in how long--"the lines in his face and how
different he acts?"

"Oh, no," she says. "Why, surely not!"

"Surely _yes_," says I. "It strikes me--it struck me over there
to-night--that something is the matter--_serious_."

"Oh, don't say that," she says. "You frighten me."

"I'm sorry for that," says I. "But it's better to be frightened too soon
than too late. And if anything should happen I wouldn't want to think--"

"Oh!" she says, sharp, "what do you think could happen?"

"--I wouldn't want to think," I went on, "that I had suspicioned and
hadn't warned you."

"But what can I do--" she began.

"You can watch out," I says, "now that you know. Folks get careless
about their near and dear--that's all. They don't notice that anything's
the matter till it's too late."

"Oh, dear!" she says. "Oh, if anything should happen to Harry, why, Miss
Marsh--"

"Exactly," says I.

We talked on a little while till I heard what I was waiting for--him
coming up the street. I noticed that he hadn't been gone downtown long
enough to buy a match.

"I'm going over to Miss Matey's for some pie-plant," I says. "Her second
crop is on. Can I go through your back gate? Maybe I'll come back this
way."

When I went around their house I saw that she was still standing on the
porch and he was coming in the gate. And I never looked back at all--bad
as I wanted to.

It was deep dusk when I came back. The air was as gentle as somebody
that likes you when they're liking you most.

When I came by the end of the porch I heard voices, so I knew that they
were talking. And then I caught just one sentence. You'd think I could
have been contented to slip through the front yard and leave them to
work it out. But I wasn't. In fact I'd only just got the stage set ready
for what I meant to do.

I walked up the steps and laid my pie-plant on the stoop.

"I'm coming in," I says.

They got up and said the different things usual. And I went and sat
down.

"You'll think in a minute," says I, "that I owe you both an apology. But
I don't."

"What for, dear?" Mrs. Bride says, and took my hand.

I'm an old woman and I felt like their mother and their grandmother.
But I felt a little frightened too.

"Is either of you sick?" I says.

Both of them says: "No, _I_ ain't." And both of them looked furtive and
quick at the other.

"Well," I says, "mebbe you don't know it. But to-day both of you has had
the symptoms of coming down with something. Something serious."

They looked at me, puzzled.

"I noticed it in Mrs. Bride this morning," I says, "when she came over
to my house. She looked white, and like all the life had gone out of
her. And she didn't sing once all day, nor do any work. Then I noticed
it in you to-night," I says to him, "when you walked looking down, and
came acrost the street lack-luster, and like nothing mattered so much as
it might have if it had mattered more. And so I done the natural thing.
I told each of you about something being the matter with the other one.
Something serious."

I stood up in front of them, and I dunno but I felt like a fairy
godmother that had something to give them--something priceless.

"When two folks," I says, "speak cross to each other and can't give in,
it's just as sure a disease as--as quinsy. And it'll be fatal, same as a
fever can be. You can hate the sight of me if you want to, but that's
why I spoke out like I done."

I didn't dare look at them. I began just there to see what an awful
thing I _had_ done, and how they were perfectly bound to take it. But I
thought I'd get in as much as I could before they ordered me off the
porch.

"I've loved seeing you over here," I says. "It's made me young again.
I've loved watching you say good-by in the mornings, and meet again
evenings. I've loved looking out over here to the light when you sat
reading, and I could see your shadows go acrost the curtains sometimes,
when I sat rocking in my house by myself. It's all been something I've
liked to know was happening. It seemed as if a beautiful, new thing was
beginning in the world--and you were it."

All at once I got kind of mad at the two of them.

"And here for a little tinkering matter about screens for the parlor,
you go and spoil all my fun by not speaking to each other!" I scolded,
sharp.

It was that, I think, that turned the tide and made them laugh. They
both did laugh, hearty--and they looked at each other and laughed--I
noticed that. For two folks can _not_ look at each other and laugh and
stay mad same time. They can _not_ do it.

I went right on: "So," I says, "I told you each the truth, that the
other one was sick. So you were, both of you. Sick at heart. And you
know it."

He put out his hand to her.

"I know it," he says.

"I know too," says she.

"Land!" says I, "you done that awful pretty. If I could give in that
graceful about anything I'd go round giving in whether I'd said anything
to be sorry for or not. I'd do it for a parlor trick."

"Was it hard, dear?" he says to her. And she put up her face to him just
as if I hadn't been there. I liked that. And it made me feel as much at
home as the clock.

He looked hard at me.

"Truly," he says, "didn't you mean she looked bad?"

"I meant just what I said," says I. "She did look bad. But she don't
now."

"And you made it all up," she says, "about something serious being the
matter with him--"

"Made it up!" says I. "No! But what ailed him this morning doesn't ail
him now. That's all. I s'pose you're both mad at me," I says, mournful.

He took a deep breath. "Not when I'm as thankful as this," he says.

"And me," she says. "And me."

I looked around the little garden of the Henslows' cottage, with the
moon behaving as if everything was going as smooth as glass--don't you
always notice that about the moon? What grand manners it's got? It
never lets on that anything is the matter.

He threw his arm across her shoulder in that gesture of comradeship that
is most the sweetest thing they do.

They got up and came over to me quick.

"We can't thank you--" she says.

"Shucks," I says. "I been wishing I had something to give you. I
couldn't think of anything but vegetables. Now mebbe I've give you
something after all--providing you don't go and forget it the very next
time," I says, wanting to scold them again.

They walked to the gate with me. The night was black and pale gold, like
a great soft drowsy bee.

"You know," I says, when I left them, "peace that we talk so much
about--that isn't going to come just by governments getting it. If
people like you and me can't keep it--and be it--what hope is there for
the nations? We _are_ 'em!"

I'd never thought of it before. I went home saying it over. When I'd put
my pie-plant down cellar I went in my dark little parlor and sat down by
the window and rocked. I could see their light for a little while. Then
it went out. The cottage lay in that hush of peace of a hot summer
night. I could feel the peacefulness of the village.

"If only we can get enough of it," I says. "If only we can get enough of
it--"

FOOTNOTE:

[8] Copyright, 1917, _Woman's Home Companion_.



DREAM


When a house in the neighborhood has been vacant for two years, and all
of a sudden the neighborhood sees furniture being moved into that house,
excitement, as Silas Sykes says, reigns supreme and more than supreme.

And so it did in Friendship Village when the Oldmoxon House got a new
tenant, unbeknownst. The excitement was specially strained because the
reason Oldmoxon House had stood vacant so long was the rent. And whoever
had agreed to the Twenty Dollars was going to be, we all felt, and as
Mis' Sykes herself put it, "a distinct addition to Friendship Village
society."

It was she gave me the news, being the Sykeses are the Oldmoxon House's
nearest neighbors. I hurried right over to her house--it was summer-warm
and you just ached for an excuse to be out in it, anyway. We drew some
rockers onto her front porch where we could get a good view. The
Oldmoxon double front doors stood open, and the things were being set
inside.

"Serves me right not to know who it is," says Mis' Sykes. "I see men
working there yesterday, and I never went over to inquire what they
were doing."

"A body can't do everything that's expected of them," says I, soothing.

"Won't it be nice," says Mis' Sykes, dreamy, "to have that house open
again, and folks going and coming, and maybe parties?" It was then the
piano came out of the van, and she gave her ultimatum. "Whoever it is,"
she says, pointing eloquent, "will be a distinct addition to Friendship
Village society."

There wasn't a soul in sight that seemed to be doing the directing, so
pretty soon Mis' Sykes says, uneasy:

"I don't know--would it seem--how would it be--well, wouldn't it be
taking a neighborly interest to step over and question the vans a
little?"

And we both of us thought it would be in order, so we did step right
over to inquire.

Being the vans had come out from the City, we didn't find out much
except our new neighbor's name: Burton Fernandez.

"The Burton Fernandezes," says Mis' Sykes, as we picked our way back. "I
guess when we write that name to our friends in our letters, they won't
think we live in the woods any more. Calliope," she says, "it come to me
this: Don't you think it would be real nice to get them up a
reception-surprise, and all go there some night as soon as they get
settled, and take our own refreshments, and get acquainted all at once,
instead of using up time to call, individual?"

"Land, yes," I says, "I'd like to do that to every neighbor that comes
into town. But you--" says I, hesitating, to her that was usually so
exclusive she counted folks's grand-folks on her fingers before she
would go to call on them, "what makes you--"

"Oh," says Mis' Sykes, "you can't tell me. Folks's individualities is
expressed in folks's furniture. You can't tell me that, with those
belongings, we can go wrong in our judgment."

"Well," I says, "_I_ can't go wrong, because I can't think of anything
that'd make me give them the cold shoulder. That's another comfort about
being friends to everybody--you don't have to decide which ones you want
to know."

"You're so queer, Calliope," says Mis' Sykes, tolerant. "You miss all
the satisfaction of being exclusive. And you can't _afford_ not to be."

"Mebbe not," says I, "mebbe not. But I'm willing to try it. Hang the
expense!" says I.

Mis' Sykes didn't waste a day on her reception-surprise. I heard of it
right off from Mis' Holcomb and Mis' Toplady and two-three more. They
were all willing enough, not only because any excitement in the village
is like a personal present to all of us, but because Mis' Sykes was
interested. She's got a real gift for making folks think her way is the
way. She's a real leader. Everybody wears a straw hat contented till,
somewheres near November, Mis' Sykes flams out in felt, and then you
begin right off to feel shabby in your straw, though new from the store
that Spring.

"It does seem like rushing things a little, though," says Mis' Holcomb
to me, very confidential, the next day.

"Not for me," I says. "I been vaccinated."

"What do you mean?" says she.

"Not even the small-pox can make me snub them," I explains.

"Yes, but Calliope," says Mis' Toplady in a whisper, "suppose it should
turn out to be one of them awful places we read about. They have good
furniture."

"Well," says I, "in that case, if thirty to forty of us went in with our
baskets, real friendly, and done it often enough, I bet we'd either
drive them out or turn them into better neighbors. Where's the harm?"

"Calliope," says Mame Holcomb, "don't you draw the line _nowheres_?"

"Yes," I says, mournful. "Them on Mars won't speak to me--yet. But short
of Mars--no. I have no lines up."

We heard from the servant that came down on Tuesday and began cleaning
and settling, that the family would arrive on Friday. We didn't get much
out of him--a respectable-seeming colored man but reticent, very. The
fact that the family servant was a man finished Mis' Sykes. She had had
a strong leaning, but now she was bent, visible. And with an item that
appeared Thursday night in the Friendship Village _Evening Daily_, she
toppled complete.

"Professor and Mrs. Burton Fernandez," the _Supper Table Jottings_ said,
"are expected Friday to take possession of Oldmoxon House, 506 Daphne
street. Professor Fernandez is to be engaged for some time in some
academic and scholastic work in the City. Welcome, Neighbors."

"Let's have our reception-surprise for them Saturday night," says Mis'
Sykes, as soon as she had read the item. "Then we can make them right at
home, first thing, and they won't need to tramp into church, feeling
strange, Next-day morning."

"Go on--do it," says I, affable.

Mis' Sykes ain't one to initiate civic, but she's the one to initiate
festive, every time.

Mis' Holcomb and Mis' Toplady and me agreed to bake the cakes, and Mis'
Sykes was to furnish the lemonade, being her husband keeps the
Post-office store, and what she gets, she gets wholesale. And Mis' Sykes
let it be known around that on Saturday night we were all to drop into
her house, and go across the street together, with our baskets, to put
in a couple of hours at our new neighbors', and make them feel at home.
And everybody was looking forward to it.

I've got some hyacinth bulbs along by my side fence that get up and
come out, late April and early May, and all but speak to you. And it
happened when I woke up Friday morning they looked so lovely, I couldn't
resist them. I had to take some of them up, and set them out in pots and
carry them around to a few. About noon I was going along the street with
one to take to an old colored washerwoman I know, that never does see
much that's beautiful but the sky; but when I got in front of Oldmoxon
House, a thought met me.

"To-day's the day they come," I said to myself. "Be kind of nice to have
a sprig of something there to welcome them."

So my feet turned me right in, like your feet do sometimes, and I rang
the front bell.

"Here," says I, to that colored servant that opened the door, "is a posy
I thought your folks might like to see waiting for them."

He started to speak, but somebody else spoke first.

"How friendly!" said a nice-soft voice--I noticed the voice particular.
"Let me thank her."

There came out from the shadow of the hall, a woman--the one with the
lovely voice.

"I am Mrs. Fernandez--this is good of you," she said, and put out her
hands for the plant.

I gave it to her, and I don't believe I looked surprised, any more than
when I first saw the pictures of the Disciples, that the artist had
painted their skin dark, like it must have been. Mrs. Fernandez was dark
too. But her people had come, not from Asia, but from Africa.

Like a flash, I saw what this was going to mean in the village. And in
the second that I stood there, without time to think it through,
something told me to go in, and try to get some idea of what was going
to be what.

"May I come inside now I'm here?" I says.

She took me into the room that was the most settled of any. The piano
was there, and a good many books on their shelves. As I remember back
now, I must just have stood and stared at them, for impressions were
chasing each other across my head like waves on a heaving sea. No less
than that, and mebbe more.

"I was trying to decide where to put the pictures," she said. "Then we
shall have everything settled before my husband gets home to-morrow."

We talked about the pictures--they were photographs of Venice and of
Spain. Then we talked about the garden, and whether it was too late for
her to plant much, and I promised her some aster plants. Then I saw a
photograph of a young girl--it was her daughter, in Chicago University,
who would be coming home to spend the Summer. Her son had been studying
to be a surgeon, she said.

"My husband," she told me, "has some work to do in the library in the
City. We tried to live there--but we couldn't bear it."

"I'm glad you came here," I told her. "It's as nice a little place as
any."

"I suppose so," she says only. "As nice as--any."

I don't think I stayed half an hour. But when I came out of there I
walked away from Oldmoxon House not sensing much of anything except a
kind of singing thanksgiving. I had never known anything of her people
except the kind like our colored wash-woman. I knew about the negro
colleges and all, but I guess I never thought about the folks that must
be graduating from them. I'd always thought that there might be somebody
like Mis' Fernandez, sometime, a long way off, when the Lord and us his
helpers got around to it. And here already it was true of some of them.
It was like seeing the future come true right in my face.

When I shut the gate of Oldmoxon House, I see Mis' Sykes peeking out her
front door, and motioning to me. And at the sight of her, that I hadn't
thought of since I went into that house, I had all I could do to keep
from laughing and crying together, till the street rang with me. I
crossed over and went in her gate; and her eye-brows were all cocked
inquiring to take in the news.

"Go on," she says, "and tell me all there is to tell. Is it all so--the
name--and her husband--and all?"

"Yes," I says, "it's all so."

"I knew it when I see her come," says Mis' Sykes. "Her hat and her veil
and her simple, good-cut black clothes--you can't fool me on a lady."

"No," I says. "You can't fool me, either."

"Well now," says Mis' Sykes, "there's nothing to hinder our banging
right ahead with our plan for to-morrow night, is there?"

"Nothing whatever," I says, "to hinder me."

Mis' Sykes jerked herself around and looked at me irritable.

"Why don't you volunteer?" says she. "I hate to dig the news out of
anybody with the can-opener."

I'd have given a good deal to feel that I didn't have to tell her, but
just let her go ahead with the reception surprise. I knew, though, that
I ought to tell her, not only because I knew her through and through,
but because I couldn't count on the village. We're real democratic in
the things we know about, but let a new situation stick up its head and
we bound to the other side, automatic.

"Mis' Sykes," I says, "everything that we'd thought of our new neighbor
is true. _Also_, she's going to be a new experience for us in a way we
hadn't thought of. She's dark-skinned."

"A brunette," says Mis' Sykes. "I see that through her veil--what of
it?"

"Nothing--nothing at all," says I. "You noticed then, that she's
colored?"

I want to laugh yet, every time I think how Mis' Postmaster Sykes looked
at me.

"_Colored!_" she says. "You mean--you can't mean--"

"No," I says, "nothing dangerous. It's going to give us a chance to see
that what we've always said could be true sometime, away far off, is
true of some of them now."

Mis' Sykes sprang up and began walking the floor.

"A family like that in Oldmoxon House--and my nearest neighbors," says
she, wild. "It's outrageious--outrageious."

I don't use my words very good, but I know better than to say
"outrageious." I don't know but it was her pronouncing it that way, in
such a cause, that made me so mad.

"Mis' Sykes," I says, "Mis' Fernandez has got a better education than
either you or I. She's a graduate of a Southern college, and her two
children have been to colleges that you and I have never seen the inside
of and never will. And her husband is a college professor, up here to
study for a degree that I don't even know what the letters stands for.
In what," says I, "consists your and my superiority to that woman?"

"My gracious," says Mis' Sykes, "ain't you got no sense of fitness to
you. Ain't she black?"

"Her skin ain't the same color as ours, you're saying," I says. "Don't
it seem to you that that reason had ought to make a cat laugh?"

Mis' Sykes fair wheeled on me. "Calliope Marsh," says she, "the way you
set your opinions against established notions is an insult to your
kind."

"Established notions," I says over after her. "'Established notions.'
That's just it. And who is it, of us two, that's being insulting to
their kind now, Mis' Sykes?"

She was looking out the window, with her lips close-pressed and a
thought between her narrowed eye-lids.

"I'll rejoin 'em--or whatever it is you call it," she says. "I'll rejoin
'em from living in that house next to me."

"Mis' Sykes!" says I. "But their piano and their book-cases and their
name are just the same as yesterday. You know yourself how you said
folks's furniture expressed them. And it does--so be they ain't using
left-overs the way I am. I tell you, I've talked with her, and I know.
Or rather I kept still while she told me things about Venice and
Granada where she'd been and I hadn't. You've got all you thought you
had in that house, and education besides. Are you the Christian woman,
Mis' Sykes, to turn your nose up at them?"

"Don't throw my faith in my face," says she, irritable.

"Well," I says, "I won't twit on facts. But anybody'd think the Golden
Rule's fitted neat onto some folks to deal with, and is left flap at
loose ends for them that don't match our skins. Is that sense, or ain't
it?"

"It ain't the skin," she says. "Don't keep harping on that. It's them.
They're different by nature."

Then she says the great, grand motto of the little thin slice of the
human race that's been changed into superiority.

"You can't change human nature!" says she, ticking it out like a clock.

"Can't you?" says I. "_Can't_ you? I'm interested. If that was true, you
and I would be swinging by our tails, this minute, sociable, from your
clothes-line."

By this time she didn't hear anything anybody said back--she'd got to
that point in the argument.

"If," she says, positive, "if the Lord had intended dark-skinned folks
to be different from what they are, he'd have seen to it by now."

I shifted with her obliging.

"Then," says I, "take the Fernandez family, in the Oldmoxon House.
They're different. They're more different than you and I are. What you
going to do about it?"

Mis' Sykes stamped her foot. "How do you know," she says, "that the Lord
intended them to be educated? Tell me that!"

I sat looking down at her three-ply Ingrain carpet for a minute or two.
Then I got up, and asked her for her chocolate frosting receipt.

"I'm going to use that on my cake for to-morrow night," I says. "And do
you want me to help with the rest of the telephoning?"

"What do you mean?" she says, frigid. "You don't think for a minute I'm
going on with that, I hope?"

"On with it?" I says. "Didn't you tell me you had the arrangements about
all made?"

She sunk back, loose in her chair. "I shall be the Laughing Stock,--the
Laughing Stock," she says, looking wild and glazed.

"Yes," says I, deliberate, determined and serene, "they'll say you were
going to dance around and cater to this family because they've moved
into the Oldmoxon House. They'll say you wanted to make sure, right
away, to get in with them. They'll repeat what you've been saying about
the elegant furniture, in good taste. And about the academic and
scholastic work being done. And about these folks being a distinct
addition to Friendship Village society--"

"Don't, Calliope--oh, don't!" said Mis' Sykes, faint.

"Well, then," I says, getting up to leave, "go on ahead and act
neighborly to them, the once, and decide later about keeping it up, as
you would with anybody else."

It kind of swept over me--here we were, standing there, bickering and
haggling, when out there on the planet that lay around Daphne Street
were loose ends of creation to catch up and knit in.

"My gracious," I says, "I ain't saying they're all all right, am I? But
I'm saying that as fast as those that try to grow, stick up their heads,
it's the business of us that tootle for democracy, and for evolution, to
help them on."

She looked at me, pitying.

"It's all so much bigger than that, Calliope," she says.

"True," says I, "for if some of them stick up their heads, it proves
that more of them could--if we didn't stomp 'em down."

I got out in the air of the great, gold May day, that was like another
way of life, leading up from our way. I took in a long breath of it--and
that always helps me to see things big.

"One Spring," I says, "One world--one God--one life--one future.
Wouldn't you think we could match ourselves up?"

But when I got in my little house, I looked around on the homely inside
of it--that always helps me to think how much better things can be, when
we really know how. And I says:

"Oh, God, we here in America got up a terrible question for you to help
us settle, didn't we? Well, _help_ us! And help us to see, whatever's
the way to settle anything, that giving the cold shoulder and the
uplifted nose to any of the creatures you've made ain't the way to
settle _nothing_. Amen."


Next morning I was standing in my door-way, breathing in the fresh, gold
air, when in at the gate came that colored man of Mis' Fernandez's, and
he had a big bouquet of roses. Not roses like we in the village often
see. They were green-house bred.

"Mis' Fernandez's son done come home las' night and brung 'em," says the
man.

"Her son," I says, "from college?"

"No'm," says the man. "F'om the war."

"From the what?" I says.

"F'om the war," he says over. "F'om U'pe."

He must have thought I was crazy. For a minute I stared at him, then I
says "Glory be!" and I began to laugh. Then I told him to tell Mis'
Fernandez that I'd be over in half an hour to thank her myself for the
flowers, and in half an hour I was going up to her front door. I had to
make sure.

"Your son," I says, forgetting all about the roses, "he's in the
American army?"

"He was," she said. "He fought in France for eighteen months. Now he has
been discharged."

"Oh," I says to myself, "that arranges everything. It must."

"Perhaps you will let me tell you," she said. "He comes back to us
wearing the cross of war."

"The cross of war!" I cried. "That they give when folks save folks in
battle?" I said it just like saving folks is the principal business of
it all.

"My son did save a wounded officer in No-man's land," she told me. "The
officer--he was a white man."

"Oh," I says, and I couldn't say another word till I managed to ask her
if her son had been in the draft.

"No," she said. "He volunteered April 7, 1917."

It wasn't until I got out in the street that I remembered I hadn't
thanked her for the roses at all. But there wasn't time to think of
that.

I headed straight for Mis' Silas Sykes. She looked awful bad, and I
don't think probably she'd slept a wink all night. I ask' her casual how
the reception was coming on, and she kind of began to cry.

"I don't know what you hector me for like this," she says. "Ain't it
enough that I've got to call folks up to-day and tell them I've made a
fool of myself?"

"Not yet," I says. "Not yet you ain't made one of yourself, Mis' Sykes.
That's to come, if any. It is hard," I says, "to do the particular thing
you'll have to do. There's them," I says crafty, "as'll gloat."

"I thought about them all night long," she says, her breath showing
through her words.

"Then think no more, Mis' Sykes," I says, "because there's a reason over
there in that house why we should go ahead with our plan--and it's a
reason you can't get around."

She looked at me, like one looking with no hope. And then I told her.

I never saw a woman so checkered in her mind. Her head was all reversed,
and where had been one notion, another bobbed up to take its place, and
where the other one had been previous, a new one was dancing.

"But do they do that?" she ask'. "Do they give war-crosses to
_negroes_?"

"Why not?" I says. "France don't care because the fore-fathers of these
soldiers were made slaves by us. She don't lay it up against _them_.
That don't touch their bravery. England never has minded dark
skins--look at her East Indians and Egyptians that they say are
everywhere in London. Nobody cares but us. Of course France gives
negroes crosses of war when they're brave--why shouldn't she?"

"My gracious," Mis' Sykes says, "but what'll folks say here if we do go
ahead and recognize them?"

"Recognize _him_!" I cried. "Mis' Sykes--are you going to let him offer
up his life, and go over to Europe and have his bravery recognized
there, and then come back here and get the cold shoulder from you--are
you? Then shame on us all!" I says.

Then Mis' Sykes said the things folks always say: "But if we recognize
them, what about marriage?"

"See here," says I, "there's thousands and thousands of tuberculosis
cases in this country to-day. And more hundreds of thousands with other
diseases. Do we set the whole lot of them apart, and refuse to be decent
to them, or do business with them, because they ought not to marry our
girls and boys? Don't you see how that argument is just an excuse?"

"All the same," said Mis' Sykes, "it might happen."

"Then make a law against inter-marriage," I says. "That's easy. Nothing
comes handier than making a new law. But don't snub the whole
race--especially those that have risked their lives for you, Mis'
Sykes!"

She stared at me, her face looking all triangular.

"It's for you to show them what to do," I pressed her. "They'll do what
you do."

Mis' Sykes kind of stopped winking and breathing.

"I could make them do it, I bet you," she says, proud.

"Of course you could," I egged her on. "You could just take for granted
everybody meant to be decent, and carry it off, matter-of-fact."

She stood up and walked around the room, her curl-papers setting strange
on her proud ways.

"Don't figger on it, Mis' Sykes," I says. "Just think how much easier it
is to be leading folks into something they ain't used to than to have
them all laughing at you behind your back for getting come up with."

It wasn't the highest motive--but then, I only used it for a finishing
touch. And for a tassel I says, moving off rapid:

"Now I'm going home to stir up my cake for the party."

She didn't say anything, and I went off up the street.

I remember it was one of the times when it came to me, strong, that
there's something big and near working away through us, to get us to
grow in spite of us. In spite of us.

And when I had my chocolate cake baked, I lay down on the lounge in my
dining-room, and planned out how nice it was going to be, that night....


There was a little shower, and then the sun came back again; so by the
time we all began to move toward Mis' Sykes's, between seven and eight,
everything was fresh and earth-smelling and wet-sweet green. And there
was a lovely, flowing light, like in a dream.

Whenever I have a hard thing to do, be it housecleaning or be it
quenching down my pride, I always think of the way I see Mis' Sykes do
hers. Dressed in her best gray poplin with a white lace yoke, and hair
crimped front _and_ back, Mis' Sykes received us all, reserved and
formal--not with her real society pucker, but with her most leader-like
look.

Everybody was there--nobody was lacking. There must have been above
fifty. I couldn't talk for trying to reckon how each of them would act,
as soon as they knew.

"Blistering Benson," says Timothy Toplady, that his wife had got him
into his frock-tail coat that he keeps to be pall-bearer in, "--kind of
nice to welcome in another first family, ain't it?"

Mis' Sykes heard him. "Timothy Toplady, you ain't enough democracy to
shake a stick at," she says, regal; and left him squenched, but with his
lips moving.

"I'm just crazy to get upstairs in the Oldmoxon House," says Mis'
Hubbelthwait. "How do you s'pose they've got it furnished?"

"They're thinking more about the furniture of their heads than of their
upstairs chambers," snaps back Mis' Sykes. And I see anew that whatever
Mis' Sykes goes into, she goes into up to her eyes, thorough and firm.

"Calliope," she says, "you might run over now and see how they're
situated. And be there with them when we come."

I knew that Mis' Sykes couldn't quite bear to make her speech with me
looking at her, so I waited out in the entry and heard her do it--I
couldn't help that. And honest, I think my respect for her rose while
she done so, almost as much as if she'd meant what she said. Mis' Sykes
is awful convincing. She can make you wish you'd worn gloves or went
without, according to the way she's done herself; and so it was that
night, in the cause she'd taken up with, unbeknownst.

She rapped on the table with the blue-glass paper weight.

"Friends," she says, distinct and serene, and everybody's buzzing
simmered down. "Before we go over, I must tell you a little about our
new--neighbors. The name as you know is Fernandez--Burton Fernandez. The
father is a college professor, now in the City doing academic and
scholastic work to a degree, as they say. The daughter is in one of our
great universities. The mother, a graduate of a Southern college, has
traveled extensive in Venice and--and otherwise. I can't believe--" here
her voice wobbled just for an instant, "I can't believe that there is
one here who will not understand the significance of our party when I
add that the family happens to be colored. I am sure that you will agree
with me--with _me_--that these elegant educations merit our
approbation."

She made a little pause to let it sink in. Then she topped it off. She
told them about the returned soldier and the cross of war.

"If there is anybody," said she--and I knew how she was glancing round
among them; "if there is anybody who can't appreciate _that_, we'll
gladly excuse them from the room."

Yes, she done it magnificent. Mis' Sykes carried the day, high-handed. I
couldn't but remember, as I slipped out, how in Winter she wears
ear-muffs till we've all come to consider going without them is
affected.

I ran across the street, still in that golden, pouring light. In the
Oldmoxon House was a surprise. Sitting with Mrs. Fernandez before the
little light May fire, was her husband, and a slim, tall girl in a smoky
brown dress, that was their daughter, home from her school to see her
brother. Then the soldier boy came in. Even yet I can't talk much about
him: A slight, silent youth, that had left his senior year at college
to volunteer in the army, and had come home now to take up his life as
best he could; and on the breast of his uniform shone the little cross,
won by saving his white captain, under fire.

I sat with them before their hearth, but I didn't half hear what they
said. I was looking at the room, and at the four quiet folks that had
done so much for themselves--more than any of us in the village, in
proportion--and done it on paths none of us had ever had to walk. And
the things I was thinking made such a noise I couldn't pay attention to
just the talk. Over and over it kept going through my head: In fifty
years. _In fifty years!_

At last came the stir and shuffle I'd been waiting for and the door-bell
rang.

"Don't go," they said, when I sprang up; and they followed me into the
hall. So there we were when the door opened, and everybody came crowding
in.

Mis' Sykes was ahead, and it came to me, when I saw how deathly pale she
was, that a prejudice is a living thing, after all--not a dead thing;
and that to them that are in its grasp, your heart has got to go out
just as much as to them that suffer from it.

I waved my hand to them all, promiscuous, crowding in with their
baskets.

"Neighbors," I says, "here's our new neighbors. Name yourselves
gradual."

They set their baskets in the hall, and came into the big room where
the fire was. And I was kind of nervous, because our men are no good on
earth at breaking the ice, except with a pick; and our women, when they
get in a strange room, are awful apt to be so taken up looking round
them that they forget to work up anything to say.

But I needn't have worried. No sooner had we sat down than somebody
spoke out, deep and full. Standing in the midst of us was Burton
Fernandez, and it was him. And his voice went as a voice goes when it's
got more to carry than just words, or just thoughts.

"My friends," he said, "I cannot bear to have you put yourselves in a
false position. When you came, perhaps you didn't know. I mean--did you
think, perhaps, that we were of your race?"

It was Mis' Sykes who answered him, grand and positive, and as if she
was already thinking up her answer when she was born.

"Certainly not," she says. "We were informed--all of us." Then I saw her
get herself together for something tremenjus, that should leave no doubt
in anybody's mind. "What of that?" says she.

He stood still for a minute. He had deep-set eyes and a tired face that
didn't do anything to itself when he talked. But his voice--that did.
And when he began to speak again, it seemed to me that the voice of his
whole race was coming through him.

"My friends," he said, "how can we talk of other things when our minds
are filled with just what this means to us?"

We all kept still. None of us would have known how to say it, even if we
had known what to say.

He said: "I'm not speaking of the difficulties--they don't so much
matter. Nothing matters--except that even when we have made the
struggle, then we're despised no less. We don't often talk to you about
it--it's the surprise of this--you must forgive me. But I want you to
know that from the time I began my school life, there have been many who
despised, and a few who helped, but never until to-night have there been
any of your people with the look and word of neighbor--never once in our
lives until to-night."

In the silence that fell when he'd finished, I sat there knowing that
even now it wasn't like he thought it was--and I wished that it had been
so.

He put his hand on his boy's shoulder.

"It's for his sake," he said, "that I thank you most."

Mis' Sykes was equal to that, too.

"In the name of our whole town," she says to that young soldier, "we
thank _you_ for what you've done."

He just nodded a little, and nobody said anything more. And it came to
me that most everything is more so than we most always suppose it to be.

When Mis' Toplady don't know quite what to do with a minute, she always
brings her hands together in a sort of spontaneous-sounding clap, and
kind of bustles her shoulders. She done that now.

"I motion I'll take charge of the refreshments," she says. "Who'll
volunteer? I'm crazy to see what-all we've brought."

Everybody laughed, and rustled, easy. And I slipped over to the
daughter, standing by herself by the fire-place.

"You take, don't you?" I ask' her.

"'Take?'" she says, puzzled.

"Music, I mean," I told her. (We always mean music when we say "take" in
Friendship Village.)

"No," she says, "but my brother plays, sometimes."

The soldier sat down to the piano, when I asked him, and he played, soft
and strong, and something beautiful. His cross shone on his breast when
he moved. And me, I stood by the piano, and I heard the soul of the
music come gentling through his soul, just like it didn't make any
difference to the music, one way or the other....

Music. Music that spoke. Music that sounded like laughing voices.... No,
for it was laughing voices....


I opened my eyes, and there in my dining-room, by the lounge, stood Mis'
Toplady and Mis' Holcomb, laughing at me for being asleep. Then they
sat down by me, and they didn't laugh any more.

"Calliope," Mis' Toplady says, "Mis' Sykes has been round to everybody,
and told them about the Oldmoxon House folks."

"And she took a vote on what to do to-night," says Mame Holcomb.

"Giving a little advice of her own, by the wayside," Mis' Toplady adds.

I sat up and looked at them. With the soldier's music still in my ears,
I couldn't take it in.

"You don't mean--" I tried to ask them.

"That's it," says Mis' Toplady. "Everybody voted to have a public
meeting to honor the soldiers--the colored soldier with the rest. But
that's as far as it will go."

"But he don't want to be honored!" I cried. "He wants to be
neighbored--the way anybody does when they're worth it."

"Mis' Sykes says," says Mis' Toplady, "that we mustn't forget what is
fitting and what isn't."

And Mis' Holcomb added: "She carried it off grand. Everybody thinks just
the way she does."

My reception-surprise cake stood ready on the table. After a while, we
three sat down around it, and cut it for ourselves. But all the while we
ate, that soldier's music was still playing for me; and what hadn't
happened was more real for me than the things that were true.



THE BROTHER-MAN[9]


_When the New Race comes--those whom Hudson calls "that blameless,
spiritualized race that is to follow"--surely they will look back with
some sense of actual romance upon the faint tapers which we now light,
both individual and social tapers. They will make their allowance for
us, as do we for the ambiguous knights of chivalry. And while the New
Race will shudder at us--at our disorganization with its war, its
poverty and its other crime--yet I think that they will love us a little
for our ineffectual ministries, as already we love them for exceeding
our utmost dream._

Don't you love a love-story; starting right before your eyes as casual
as if it was preserves getting cooked or parsley coming up? It doesn't
often happen to me to see one start, but once it did. It didn't start
like anything at all that was going to be anything, but just still and
quiet, same as the stars come out. I guess that's the way most great
things move, isn't it? Still and quiet, like stars coming out. Or
similar to stars.

It was the time of the Proudfits' big what-they-called week-end
parties, and it was the Saturday of the biggest of them, when a dozen
city people came down to Friendship Village for the lark. And with them
was to come a Piano Lady and a Violin Man--and a man I'd known about in
the magazines, a Novel-and-Poem Man that writes the kind of things that
gets through all the walls between you and the world, so's you can talk
to everything there is. I was crazy to see the Novel-and-Poem Man--from
behind somewheres, though, so's he wouldn't see me and look down on me.
And when Miss Clementina Proudfit asked me to bring her out some things
from the city Saturday night, chocolate peppermints and red candles and
like that, and said she'd send the automobile to the train for me to
fetch up the things and see the decorations, I was real pleased. But I
was the most excited about maybe seeing the Poem-and-Novel Man.

"What's he like, Miss Clementina?" I ask' her. "When I hear his name I
feel like when I hear the President's. Or even more that way."

"I've never met him," she says. "Mother knows him--he's her lion, not
mine."

"He writes lovely things," I says, "things that makes you feel like
everybody's way of doing is only lukewarm, and like you could just bring
yourself to a boil to do good and straighten things out in the world, no
matter what the lukewarm-way folks thought."

Miss Clementina looked over to me with a wonderful way she
had--beautiful face and beautiful eyes softening to Summer.

"I know--know," she says; "I dread meeting him, for fear he doesn't mean
it."

I knew what she meant. You can mean a thing you write in a book, or that
you say in talk, or for other folks to do. But meaning it for _living_
it--that's different.

I came out from the city that night on the accommodation, tired to death
and loaded down with bundles for everybody in Friendship Village. Folks
used to send into town by me for everything _but_ stoves and wagons,
though I wouldn't buy anything there except what you can't buy in the
village: lamb's-wool for comforters, and cut-glass and baby-pushers, and
shrimps--that Silas won't keep in the post-office store, because they
don't agree with his stomach. Well, I was all packages that night, and
it was through dropping one in the seat in front of me that I first saw
the little boy.

He was laying down, getting to sleep if he could and pulling his eyes
open occasional to see what was going on around him. His mother had had
the seat turned, and she sat there beyond him, facing me, and I noticed
her--flat red cheeks, an ostrich feather broke in the middle, blue and
red stone rings on three fingers, and giving a good deal of attention to
studying the folks around her. She was the kind of woman you see and
don't look back to, 'count of other things interesting you more.

But the little boy, he was different. He wasn't more than a year old,
and he didn't look that--and his cheeks were flushed and his eyelashes
and mouth made you think "My!" I remember feeling I didn't see how the
woman could keep from waking him up, just to prove he was hers and she
could if she wanted to.

Instead of that, all she did was continually to get up and go out of the
car. Every station we stopped at--and the accommodation acts like it was
made for the stations and not the stations for it--she was up and out,
as if the town was something swimming up to the car-door to speak to
her. She'd leave the baby asleep in the seat, and I wondered what would
happen if he woke up while she was gone, and started to roll. She stayed
every time up till after the train started--I didn't wonder it made her
cold, and that after a bit she put on her coat before she went. And once
or twice she carried out her valise with her, as if she might have
expected somebody to be there to get it. "Mebbe she's got somebody's
laundry," thinks I, "and mebbe a stranger has asked her to bring it out
on the train and she can't remember what station it's to be put off at."
They send things to stations along the way a lot on the
accommodation--everybody being neighbors, so.

Well, when we got to the Junction, out she went again, cloak and valise
and all. But I didn't think much about her then, because at the Junction
it's always all excitement, being that's where they switch the parlor
car off the train, and whoever is in it for Friendship Village has to
come back in the day coach for the rest of the way, and be just folks.
And among those that came back that night was the Brother-man.

I dunno if you'll know what I mean by that name for him. Some men are
just men, like they thought God made them just for the pleasure of
making them. And some men are flying around like they wanted to prove
that the Almighty didn't make a mistake when He created them. But there
are some men that just live like God hadn't made them so much as that
they're a piece of Him, and they haven't forgotten it and they feel
kindly toward all the other pieces. Well, this man was one of the
Brother-men. I knew it the minute I saw him.

By the time he came in the car, moving leisurely and like getting a seat
wasn't so interesting as most other things, there wasn't a seat left,
excepting only the turned one in front of the little chap asleep. The
man looked around idle for a minute and see that they wasn't cloak or
valise keeping that seat, and he sat down and opened the book he'd had
his finger in the place all the time, and allowed to read.

There's consid'rable switching to do at the Junction, time we get
started; and the jolts and bounces did just exactly what I thought they
would do--woke the little chap up. From before the train started he
begun stirring and whimpering--that way a baby does when it wants
nothing in the world but a hand to be laid on it. Isn't it as if its
mother's hand was a kind of healing that big folks forget about needing?
By the time the train was out on the road in earnest, the little chap,
he was in earnest, too. And he just what-you-might-say yelled. But no
mother came. They wasn't a mother's hand with big red and blue rings on
three fingers to lay on the little boy's back. And there wasn't a mother
of him anywhere's in sight.

In a minute or two the Brother-man looked up. He hadn't seemed to see
the baby before or to sense that he _was_ a baby. And he looked at him
crying and he laid his book down and he looked all around him,
perplexish, and then he looked over to me that was looking at him
perplexish, too. And being he was a man and I wasn't, I got right up and
went round there and picked the little chap up in my arms and sat down
with him.

"His ma went out of the car somewheres," I explained it.

He had lifted his hat and jumped up, polite as if he was the one I'd
picked up. And he stood looking down at me.

"I wonder if I couldn't fetch her," he says--and his voice was one of
the voices that most says an idea all alone. I mean you'd most have
known what he meant if he'd just spoke along without using any
words--oh, well, I dunno if that sounds like anything, but I guess you
know the kind I mean. The Novel-and-Poem Man's stories are the same
kind, being they say so much that never does get set up in type.

The baby didn't stop crying at all--seems as though your hands don't
have the right healing unless--unless--well, it didn't stop nor even
halt. And so I says, hesitating, I says: "You wouldn't know her," I
says. "I been watching her. I could find her better--if so be you
wouldn't mind taking the baby."

The Brother-man put out his arms. I remember I looked up in his face
then, and he was smiling--and his smile talked the same as his voice.
And his face was all full of what he meant. He had one of those Summer
faces like Miss Clementina's--just a general liking of the minute and a
special liking for all the world. And what he said made me think of
Summer, too:

"_Mind?_" says he. "Why it's like putting your cap over a butterfly."

He took the little fellow in his arms, and it was then that I first
sensed how beautiful the Brother-man was--strong and fine and quiet,
like he done whatever he done, and said whatever he said, _all over
him_, soul and all, and didn't just speak with his muscles, same as
some. And the baby, he was beautiful, too, big and fine and healthy and
a boy, only not still a minute nor didn't know what quiet meant. But he
stopped crying the instant the man took him, and they both looked at
each other like--oh, like they were more alike than the years between
them wanted to let them think. Isn't it pitiful and isn't it
wonderful--when two folks meet? Big or little, nice or horrid, pleasant
or cross, famous or ragged or talking or scairt--it don't make any
differ'nce. They're just brother-pieces, broke off the same way. That
was how the Brother-man looked down at the little chap, and I dunno but
that was how the little chap looked up at him. Because the little thing
threw out his arms toward him, and we both see the letter under his
blanket pinned to his chest.

All of a sudden, I understood what had happened--almost without the use
of my brain, as you do sometimes.

"Sit down a minute," I said to the Brother-man. "I guess mebbe this
letter tells where she is."

And so it did. It was written in pencil, spelled irregular and addressed
uphill, and the direction told the story even before the letter did. "To
Anybody," the direction was. And the inside of the letter said:


     "Take care of my Baby. I ain't fit and never was and now don't
     think to be anywheres long. Don't look for me. The baby would be
     best off with anybody but me, and don't think to be anywheres long
     and so would be orphant quite soon sure. He ain't no name so best
     not put mine except.

     MOTHER.

     P. S. If he puts out his hand he means you should kiss his hand
     then he won't cry. Don't forget, then he won't cry.

     P. S. When he can't get to sleep he can get to sleep if you rub the
     back of his neck."


I remember how the Brother-man looked at me when we'd got it spelled
out.

"Oh," he said--and then he said a name that sounded like somebody
calling to its Father from inside the dark.

I hate to think of what I said. I said it kind of mechanical and wooden,
the way we get to be from shifting the burdens off our own backs where
they belong, onto somebody else's back--and doing it second-nature, and
as if we were constructed slanting so that burdens could slip off. What
I said was:

"I suppose we'd better tell the conductor."

"Tell the conductor!" said he, wondering. "What on earth for?"

"I dunno," says I, some taken back. I suppose I'd had some far notion of
telling him because he wore a uniform.

"What do we want to tell him for?" this Brother-man repeated. "_We_
know."

Oh, but that's come back to me, time and time again, when I've thought
I needed help in taking care of somebody, or settling something, or
doing the best way for folks. "What do we want to tell the conductor or
anybody else for? _We_ know." And ten to one we are the one who can do
the thing ourselves.

"But what are we going to do?" I said. I think that his eyes were the
kind of eyes that just make you say "What are _we_ going to do?" and not
"What are _you_ going to do?" or "What are _they_ going to do?"--same as
most folks start to say, same as I had started.

For the first time the Brother-man looked helpless--but he spoke real
firm.

"Keep him," he says, simple.

"Keep him!" I said over--since I had lived quite a while in a world
where those words are not common.

He looked down thoughtful at the little chap who was lying there,
contented, going here and there with his fists, and looking up at the
lights as if he was reflecting over the matter some himself.

"The conductor," said the Brother-man, "would telegraph, and most likely
find the mother. If he was efficient enough, he might even get her
arrested. And what earthly good would that do to the child? Our concern
is with this little old man here, with his life hanging on his shoulders
waiting to be lived. Isn't it?" he asked, simple. And in a minute, he
added: "I always hoped that this would never happen to me--because when
it does happen, there's only one thing to do: Keep them." And he added
in another minute: "I don't know--I ought to look at it that I've been
saved the trouble of going out and finding a way to help--" only you
understand, his words came all glossy and real different from mine.

I tell you, anybody like that makes all the soul in you get up and
recognize itself as _being_ you; and your body and what it wants and
what it is afraid of is no more able to run you then than a pinch of
dirt would be, sprinkled on your wings. Before I knew it, my body was
keeping quiet, like a child that's been brought up well. And my soul was
saying whatever it pleased.

"I'm a woman," I said, "and alone in the world. I'm the one to take
him."

"I'm alone in the world too," he said, "and I'm a man. So I'm just as
able to care for him as you are. I'll keep him."

Then he looked down the car, kind of startled, and began smiling, slow
and nice.

"On my word," he said, "I'd forgotten that besides being a man I'm about
to be a guest. And this little old chap wasn't included in the
invitation."

I looked out the window to see where we were getting, and there we were
drawing over the Flats outside Friendship Village, and the brakeman
came to the door and shouted the name. When I hear the name that way,
and when I see the Fair ground and the Catholic church steeple and the
canal bridge and the old fort and the gas house, it's always as sweet as
something new, and as something old, and it's something sweeter than
either. It makes me feel happy and good and like two folks instead of
one.

"Look here," I said, brisk, "this is where I get off. This is home. And
I'm going to take this baby with me. You go on to your visiting
place--so be you'll help me off," I says, "with my baby and my bundles
that's for half of Friendship Village."

"Friendship Village!" he said over, as if he hadn't heard the man call.
"Is this Friendship Village? Why, then this," he said, "is where I'm
going too. This is where the Proudfits live, isn't it?" he said--and he
said some more, meditative, about towns acting so important over having
one name and not another, when nobody can remember either name. But I
hardly heard him. He was going to the Proudfits'. And without knowing
how I knew it, I knew all over me, all of a sudden, who he was: That he
was the Novel-and-Poem man himself.

"You _can't_ be him!" I said aloud. I don't know what I was looking
for--a man with wings or what. But it wasn't for somebody like this--all
simple and still and every day--like stars coming out. "You can't be
him," says I, mentioning his name. "He was to get here this afternoon on
the Through."

"That alone would prove I'm I," he said, merry. "I always miss the
Throughs."

Think of that.... There I'd been riding all that way beside him, talking
to him as familiar as if he had been just folks.

It seems a dream when I think of it now. The Proudfits' automobile was
there for him too--because he had telegraphed that he would take the
next train--as well as for me and the chocolate peppermints and the red
candles. And so, before I could think about me being me sure enough,
there I was in the Proudfits' car, glassed in and lit up, and a
stranger-baby in my arms; and beside me the Novel-and-Poem man that was
the Brother-man too,--the man that had made me talk through walls with
everything there is. Oh, and how I wanted to tell him! And when I tried
to tell him what he had meant to me, how do you guess it came out of my
brain?

"I've read your book," says I, like a goose.

But he seemed real sort of pleased. "I've been honored," he said,
gentle.

I looked up at him; and I knew how he knew already that I didn't know
all the hard parts in the book, and all the big words, and some of the
little nice things he had tried to work out to suit him. And it seemed
as if any praise of mine would only make him hurt with not being
appreciated. Still, I wanted my best to say something out of the
gratitude in me.

"It--helped," I said; and couldn't say more to save me.

But he turned and looked down at me almost as he had looked at the
little chap.

"That is the only compliment I ever try to get," he said to me, as grave
as grave.

And at that I saw plain what it was that had made him seem so much like
a friend, and what had made me think to call him the Brother-man. Why,
he was folks, like me. He wasn't only somebody big and distinguished and
name-in-the-paper. He was like those that you meet all the time, going
round the streets, talking to you casual, coming out of their houses
quiet as stars coming out. He was folks and a brother to folks; and he
knew it, and he seemed to want to keep letting folks know that he knew
it. He wasn't the kind that goes around thinking "Me, me, me," nor even
"You and me." It was "_You and me and all of us_" with the Brother-man.

"Isn't it strange," he says once, while we rode along, "that what all
these streets and lights and houses are for, and what the whole world is
for is helped along by taking just one little chap and bringing him
up--bringing him up?" And he looked down at the baby, that was drowsing
off in my arms, as if little chaps in general were to him windows into
somewhere else.

The Proudfit house was lamps from top to bottom, but I could see from
the glass vestibule that the big rooms were all empty, and I thought
mebbe they hadn't had dinner yet, being they have it all unholy hours
when most folks's is digested and ready to let them sleep. But when we
stepped in the hall I heard a little tip-tap of strings from up above,
and it was from the music-room that opens off the first stair-landing,
and dinner was over and they were all up there; and the Piano Lady and
the Violin Man were gettin' ready to play. Madame Proudfit had heard the
car, and came down the stairs, saying a little pleased word when she saw
the Brother-man. She looked lovely in black lace, and jewels I didn't
know the name of, and she was gracious and glad and made him one of the
welcomes that stay alive afterwards and are almost _people_ to you to
think about. The Brother-man kissed her hand, and he says to her, some
rueful and some wanting to laugh:

"I'm most awfully sorry about the train, Madame Proudfit. But--I've
brought two of us to make up for being so late. Will--will that not do?"
he says.

Madame Proudfit looked over at me with a smile that was like people
too--only her smile was like nice company and his was like dear
friends; and then she saw the baby.

"Calliope!" she said, "what on earth have you been doing now?"

"She hasn't done it. I did it," says the Brother-man. "Look at him! You
rub the back of his neck when he won't sleep."

Madame Proudfit looked from him to me.

"How utterly, extravagantly like both of you!" Madame Proudfit said.
"Come in the library and tell me about it."

We went in the big, brown library, where nothing looked as if it would
understand about this, except, mebbe, some of the books--and not all of
them--and the fire, that was living on the hearth, understanding all
about everything. I sat by the fire and pulled back the little chap's
blanket and undid his coat and took his bonnet off; his hair was all
mussed up at the back and the cheek he'd slept on was warm-red. Madame
Proudfit and the Brother-man stood on the hearth-rug, looking down. Only
she was looking from one star to another, and the Brother-man and I, we
were on the same star, looking round.

We told her what had happened, some of his telling and some of mine. It
came over me, while we were doing it, that what had sounded so sensible
and sure in the train and in the automobile and in our two hearts
sounded different here in the Proudfits' big, brown library, with
Madame Proudfit in black lace and jewels I didn't know the name of,
listening. But then I looked up in the Brother-man's face and I got
_right back_, like he was a kind of perpetual telegraph, the feeling of
its being sensible and the _only_ sensible thing to do. Sensible in the
sense of your soul being sensible, and not just your being sensible like
your neighbors.

"But, my dear, dear children," Madame Proudfit says, and stopped. "My
_dear_ children," she says on, "what, exactly, are you going to do with
him?"

"Keep him!" says the Brother-man prompt, and beamed on her as if he had
said the one possible answer.

"But--keep him!" says Madame Proudfit. "How 'keep him'? Be practical.
What are you going to do?"

It makes you feel real helpless when folks in black lace tell you to be
practical, as if that came before everything else--especially when their
"practical" and your "practical" might as well be in two different
languages. And yet Madame Proudfit is kind and good too, and she
understands that you've got to help or you might as well not be alive;
and she gives and gives and gives. But _this_--well, she saw the need
and all that, but her way that night would have been to give money and
send the little chap away. You know how some are. They can understand
everything good and kind--up to a certain point. And that point is,
_keep him_. They can't seem to get past that.

"_Keep him!_" she says. "Make your bachelor apartment into a nursery? Or
you, Calliope, leave him to mind the house while you are canvassing? Be
practical. What, _exactly_, are you going to do?"

Then the Brother-man frowned a little--I hadn't known he could, but I
was glad he knew how.

"Really," he said, "I haven't decided yet on the cut of his
knickerbockers, or on what college he shall attend, or whether he shall
spend his vacations at home or abroad. The details will get themselves
done. I only know I mean to _keep him_."

She shook her head as if she was talking to a foreign language; then we
heard somebody coming--a little rustle and swish and afterwards a voice.
These three things by themselves would have made somebody more
attractive than some women know how to be. I'll never forget how she
seemed when she came to the door--Miss Clementina, waiting to speak with
her mother and not knowing anybody else was with her.

Honest, I couldn't tell what her dress was--and me a woman that has
turned her hand to dressmaking. It was all thin, like light, and it had
all little ways of hanging that made you know you never could make one
like it, so's you might as well enjoy yourself looking and not fuss
with trying to remember how it was put together. But her dress wasn't so
much like light as her face. Miss Clementina's face--oh, it was like the
face of a beautiful woman that somebody tells you about, and that you
never do get to see, and if you did, like enough she might not be so
beautiful after all--but you always think of her as being the way you
mean when you say "beautiful." Miss Clementina looked like that. And
when I saw her that night I could hardly wait to have her face and eyes
soften all to Summer, that wonderful way she had.

"Oh, Miss Clementina," I says, "I've got a baby. At least, he's only
half mine. I mean--"

Then, while she was coming toward us along the lamp-light, as if it was
made to bring her, the little chap began waking up. He stirred, and
budded up his lips, and said little baby-things in his throat, and begun
to cry, soft and lonesome, as if he didn't understand. Oh, isn't it
true? A baby's waking-up minute, when it cries a little and don't know
where it is, ain't that like us, sometimes crying out sort of blind to
be took care of? And when the little thing opened his eyes, first thing
he saw was Miss Clementina, standing beside him. And what did that
little chap do instead of stopping crying but just hold out one hand
toward her, and kind of bend across, same as if he meant something.

With that the Brother-man, that Madame Proudfit hadn't had a chance yet
to present to Miss Clementina, he says to her all excited:

"He wants you to kiss his hand! Kiss his hand and he'll stop crying!"

Miss Clementina looked up at him like a little question, then she
stooped and kissed the baby's hand, and we three watched him perfectly
breathless to see what he would do. And he done exactly what that
up-hill note had said he would--he stopped crying, and he done more than
it said he would--he smiled sweet and bright, and as if he knew
something else about it. And we three looked at each other and at him,
and we smiled, too. And it made a nice minute.

"Clementina," said Madame Proudfit, like another minute that wasn't so
very well acquainted with the one that was being, and then she presented
the Brother-man. But instead of a regular society,
say-what-you-ought-to-say answer to her greeting, the Brother-man says
to her:

"Miss Proudfit, you shall arbitrate! Somebody left him to this lady and
me--or to anybody like, or unlike us--on the train. Shall we find his
own mother that has run away from him? Or shall we send him to an
institution? Or shall we keep him? Which way," he says, smiling, "is the
way that _is_ the way?"

She looked up at him as if she knew, clear inside his words, what he was
talking about.

"Are you," she ask' him, half merry, but all in earnest too, "are you
going to decide with your heart or your head?"

"Why, with my soul, I hope," says the Brother-man, simple.

Miss Clementina nodded a little, and I saw her face all Summer-soft as
she answered him.

"Then," she said, "almost nobody will tell you so, but--there's only one
way."

"I know it," says he, gentle.

"I know it," says I, solemn.

We three stood looking at each other from close on the same star,
knowing all over us that if you decide a thing with your head you'll
probably shift a burden off; if you decide with your heart you'll
probably give, give, give, like Madame Proudfit does, to pay somebody
else liberal to take the burden; but if you decide it with your soul,
you give your own self to whatever is going on. And you know that's the
way that _is_ the way.

All of a sudden, as if words that were not being said had got loose and
were saying themselves anyway, the music--that had been tip-tapping
along all the while since we came--started in, sudden and beautiful,
with the Piano Lady and the Violin Man playing up there in the landing
room. I don't know whether it was a lullaby--though I shouldn't be
surprised if it was, because I think sometimes in this world things
happen just like they were being stage-managed by somebody that knows.
But anyway--oh, it had a lullaby sound, a kind-of rocking, tender,
just-you-and-me meaning; that ain't so very far from the
you-and-me-and-all-of-us meaning when they're both said right and deep
down.

I looked up at Miss Clementina and the Brother-man--as you do look up
when some nice little thing has happened that you think whoever you're
with will understand. But they didn't look back at me. They looked over
to each other. They looked over to each other, swift at the first, but
lasting long, and with the faces of both of them softening to Summer.
And the music went heavenly-ing on, into the room, and into living, and
into everything, and it was as if the whole minute was turned into its
own spirit and then was said out in a sound.

Miss Clementina and the Brother-man looked away and down at the little
chap that Miss Clementina was holding his hand. It was as if there was a
pulse in the room--the Great Pulse that we all beat to, and that now and
then we hear. But those two didn't see me at all; and all of a sudden I
understood, how there was still another star that I didn't know anything
about, and that they two were standing there together, they two and the
little chap--but not me. Oh, it was wonderful--starting the way great
things start, still and quiet like stars coming out. So still that they
didn't either of them know it. And I felt as if everything was some
better and some holier than I had ever known.

Then Madame Proudfit, she leans out from her star, gracious and benign,
and certain sure that her star was the only one that had eternal truth
inside it; and she spoke with a manner of waving her hand good natured
to all the other little stars, including ours:

"You mad, mad, children!" she said. "You _are_ mad. But you are very
picturesque in your decisions, there's no denying that. He would
probably be better cared for, more scientifically fed, and all that, in
a good, hired, private family. But that's as you see it. Be mad, if you
like--I'm here to watch over you!"

She had quite a nice tidy high point of view about it--but oh, it wasn't
ours. It wasn't ours. We three--the Brother-man and Miss Clementina and
me--we sort of hugged our own way. And the little chap he kept smiling,
like he sort of hugged it too.

So that was the way it was. Miss Clementina and the Brother-man--that
she'd been afraid to meet, 'count of thinking mebbe he didn't mean his
writings for living--were in love from before they knew it. And I think
it was part because they both meant life strong enough for living and
not just for thinking, like the lukewarm folks do.

I kept the little chap with me the three months or so that went by
before the wedding--and I could hardly bear to let him go then.

"Why don't you keep him for them the first year or so?" Friendship
Village ask' me. But there's some things even your own town doesn't
always understand. "It's so unromantic for them to take him now," some
of them even said.

But I says to them what I say now: "There's things that's bigger than
romantic and there's things that's bigger than practical, so be some of
both is mixed in right proportion. And the biggest thing I know in this
world is when folks say over, 'You and me and all of us,' like voices,
speaking to everybody's Father from inside the dark."

FOOTNOTE:

[9] Copyright, 1913, _The Delineator_.



THE CABLE[10]


I says to myself: "What shall I do? What shall I do?"

I crushed the magazine down on my knee, and sat there rocking with it
between my hands.

It was just a story about a little fellow with a brick. They met him, a
little boy six years old, somewhere in Europe, going along up toward one
of the milk stations, at sunrise. They wondered why he carried a brick,
and they asked him: "Why do you have the brick?" "You see," he says,
"it's so wet. I can get up on this." And he stood on his brick in the
mud before the milk station for five hours, waiting for his supplies
that was a pint of milk to take home to his mother.

Mebbe it was queer that this struck me all of a heap, when the big war
I'd got used to. But you can't get used to the things that hurt a child.

And then I kept thinking about Bennie. Supposing it had been Bennie,
with the brick? Bennie was the little boy that his young father had gone
back to the old country, and Bennie hadn't any mother. So I had him.

Because I had to do something, I went out on the porch and called him.
He came running from his swing--his coat was too big for him and his
ears stuck out, but he was an awful sweet little boy. The kind you want
to have around.

"Bennie," I says, "I know little boys hate it. But _could_ you leave me
hug you?"

He kind of saw I was feeling bad--like a child can--and he came right up
to me and he says:

"I got one hug left. _Here_ it is!"

And he hugged me grand.

Then he ran back down the path, throwing his legs out sideways, kind of
like a little calf, the way he does. And I set down on the side stoop,
and I cried.

"Oh, blessed God," I says, "supposing Bennie was running round Europe
with a brick, waiting five hours in the mud for milk for his ma, that he
ain't got none?"

When I feel like that, I can't sit still. I have to walk. So I opened
the side gate and left Bennie run through into Mis' Holcomb's yard, that
was ironing on her back porch, and I says to her to please keep an eye
on him. And then I headed down the street, towards nothing; and my heart
just filled out ready to blow up.

As I went, I heard a bell strike. It was a strange bell, and I wondered.
Then I remembered.

"The new Town Hall's new bell," I thought. "It's come and it's up.
They're trying it."

And it seemed like the voice of the town, saying something.

In the door of the newspaper office sat the editor, Luke Norris, his red
face and black hair buried behind a tore newspaper.

"Hello, Luke," I says, sheer out of wanting human looks and words from
somebody.

He laid down his newspaper, and he took his breath quick and he says: "I
wish't Europe wasn't so far off. I'd like to go over there--with a
basket."

I overtook little Nuzie Cook, going along home,--little thin thing she
was, with such high eye-brows that her face looked like its windows were
up.

"Nuzie," I says, "how's your ma?" And that was a brighter subject,
because Mis' Cook has only got the rheumatism and the shingles.

"Ma's in bed," says Nuzie. "She's worried about her folks in the old
country--she ain't heard and she can't sleep."

I went to a house where I knew there was a baby, and I played with that.
Then I went to call on Mis' Perkins, that ain't got sense enough to talk
about anything that is anything, so she kind of rested me. But into Mis'
Hunter's was a little young rabbit, that her husband had plowed into its
ma's nest, and he'd brought it in with its leg cut by the plow, and they
was trying to decide what best to do. And I begun hurting inside again,
and thinking:

"Nothing but a rabbit--a baby rabbit--and over there...."

I didn't say anything. Pretty soon I turned back home. And then I ran
into the McVicars--three of them.

The McVicars--three of them--had Spring hats trimmed with cherries and I
guess raisins and other edibles; the McVicars--mother and two offspring,
sprung quite a while back--are new-come to the village, and stylish.
They hadn't been in town in two months when they'd been invited twice to
drive to the cemetery in the closed carriages, though they hadn't known
either corpse, personally. They impressed people.

"Oh, Mis' Marsh," says Mis' McVicar, "we wanted to see you. We're
getting up a relief fund...."

I went down in my pocket for a quarter, automatic. I heard their thanks,
and I went on. And it came to me how, all over the country, the whole
100,000,000 of us, more or less, had been met up with to contribute
something to relief, and we'd all done it. And it had gone over there to
this country and to that. But our hearts had ached, individual and
silent, the way mine was aching that day--and there wasn't any means of
cabling that ache over to Europe. If there was, if that great ache that
was in all of us for the folks over there, could just be gathered up and
got over to them in one mass, I thought it would do as much as food and
clothes and money to help them.

I stood still by a picket fence I happened to be passing, and I looked
down the little street. It had a brick sidewalk and a dirt road and
little houses, and the fences hadn't been taken down yet. And all the
places looked still and kind of dear.

"They all feel bad," I thought, "just as bad as I do, for folks that's
starved. But they can't say so--they can't say so. Only in little dabs
of money, sent off separate."

Bennie was swinging on Mis' Holcomb's gate, looking for me. He came
running to meet me.

"I found a blue beetle," he says to me. "And that lady's kitty's home,
with a bell on. And I got a new nail. An--an--an--"

And I thought: "He ain't no different from them--over there. The little
tikes, with no pas and no suppers and nothing to play with, only mebbe a
brick to lug."

And there I was, right back to where I started from. And I went out to
get supper, with my heart hanging around my neck like a pail of rock.


II

Next day was Memorial Day. And Memorial Day in Friendship Village is
something grand.

First the G. A. R. conducts the service in the Court House yard, with
benches put up special, and a speech from out of town and paid for.

Right away afterward everybody marches or drives, according to the state
of their pocket-book, out to the Cemetery, to lay flowers on the
soldiers' graves; and it's quite an event, because everybody that's got
anybody buried out there and that is still alive themselves, they all
whisk out the day before and decorate up their graves, so's everybody
can see for themselves how intimate their dead is held in remembrance.
And everybody walks around to see if so-and-so has thought to send
anything from Seattle, or wherenot, _this_ year. And if they didn't,
it's something to tell about.

Then all the Ladies' Aid Societies serve dinners in the empty store
buildings down town, and make what they can. And in the afternoon
everybody lounges round and cuts the grass and tinkers with the screens
and buys ice cream off the donkey-cart man.

I dressed Bennie up, clean and miserable, in the morning, and went down
to the exercises. I couldn't see much, because the woman in front of me
couldn't either, and she stood up; and I couldn't hear much, because the
paid-for speaker addressed only one-half of his audience, and as usual I
wasn't in the right half. But the point is that neither of them
limitations mattered. I didn't have to see and I didn't have to hear.
All that I had to do was to feel. And I felt. For I was alive at the
time of the Civil War, and all you have to do to me is to touch that
spring in me, and I'm back there: Getting the first news, reading about
Sumter, sensing the call for 75,000 volunteers, hearing that this one
and this one and this one had enlisted, peeking through the fence at
Camp Randall where my two brothers were waiting to go; and then living
the long four years through, when every morning meant news, and no news
meant news, and every night meant more to hear. For years I couldn't
open a newspaper without feeling I must look first for the list of the
dead....

I set there on the bench in the spring sunshine, without anything to
lean against, seeing the back breadths of Mis' Curtsey's gray flowered
delaine, and living it all over again, with Bennie hanging on my knee.
And it made it a thousand times worse, now that these Memorial Days were
passing, with what was going on in Europe still going on.

And I thought: "Oh, I dunno how we can keep up feeling memorial for just
our own soldiers, when the whole world's soldiers are lying dead, new
every night...."

And getting a little more used to the paid speaker's voice, I could hear
some of what he was saying. I could get the names,--Vicksburg,
Gettysburg, Shenandoah, Missionary Ridge, all these, over and over. And
my heart ached with every one. But it had a new ache, for names that the
whole world will echo with for years to come. And sitting there, with
nobody knowing, I says to myself:

"And, O Lord, I memorial all the rest of them--the soldiers of fifty
years ago no more than the soldiers of now--the soldiers of Here no more
than the soldiers of Over There. O Lord, I memorial them all, and I pray
for them that survive over there--put all Your strength on them, Lord,
as far as I am concerned, for us survivors here, we don't need You as
much as they do--them that's new bereaved and new desolated. For
Christ's sake. Amen."

On my way home, I saw Luke Norris sitting out by the door of his office
again. He never went to any exercises because his wind-pipe was liable
to shut up on him, and it broke up the program some, getting his breath
through to him.

"Calliope," he says, "we want you should go on to the Committee for
opening the new Town Hall, in about two months from now. We want the
jim-dandiest, swell-upest celebration this town has ever had. Twenty
years of unexampled prosperity--"

I stood still and stared down on him.

"Honest," I says, "do you want me to help in a prosperity celebration
_this_ Summer?"

"Sure," he says, "women are in on it."

"Luke," I says. "I dunno how you'll feel about that when you come to
think it over. But I feel--"

Bennie, fussing round on the side-walk, came over, tugging a chunk of
wood. I thought at first he was carrying a brick.

I sat down in a handy chair, just inside Luke's door.

"Luke," I says, "Luke! That ain't the kind of a celebration this town
had ought to have. You listen here to me...."


III

Sometimes, when I can't sleep, I think about the next two Summer months.
I lie awake and think how it all went, that planning, from first to
last. I think about the idea, and about how it started, and kindled, and
spread, and flamed. And I think about what finally came of it.

For one thing, it was the first living, human thing that Friendship
Village ever got up that there wasn't a soul that kicked about. You
can't name another thing that any of the town ever went in for, that the
rest didn't get up and howl. Pavement--some of us said we couldn't
afford it, "not now." New bridge--half of us says we was bonded to the
limit as it was. Sewerage--three-fourths of us says for our town it was
a engineering impossibility. Buying the electric light plant, that would
be pure socialism. Central school building--a vast per cent of us allows
it would make it too far for the children to walk, though out of school
hours they run all over the town, scot-free and foot loose, skate, sled
and hoop. As a town none of us would unite on nothing. Never, not till
this time.

But this time it was different. And even if not anything had come of it,
I'd be glad to remember the kind of flash I got from different folks,
when we came to tell them about it.

I went first to the Business Men's Association, because it was them that
was talking the Town Hall celebration the hardest. I'd been to them
before, about playgrounds, about band concerts, about taking care of the
park; and some of them were down on us ladies.

"You're always putting up propositions to give money _out_," says one of
them once. "Why don't you propose us taking _in_ some? What do you think
we are? Charity?"

"No," says I to him, "I don't. Nor yet love. You're dollar marks and
ciphers, a few of you," I told him, candid, "and those don't make a
number."

So when I stood up before them that night, I knew some of them were
prepared to vote, automatic, against whatever we wanted. Some of them
didn't even have to hear what us ladies suggested in order to be against
it. And then I began to talk.

I told them the story of the little fellow with the brick. That stayed
in my mind. I never see my milk-man go along, leaving big, clean
bottles in everybody's doors that I didn't image up that little boy
standing in the mud on his brick, waiting. And then I mentioned Bennie
to them too, that they all knew about. We hadn't heard from his father
in two months now, and of course there didn't any of us know....

"I don't need to remind you," I says to them, "how we feel about Europe.
Every one of us knows. We try not to talk about it, because there's some
of it we can't talk about without letting go. But it's on us all the
time. The other day I was trying to think how the world use' to feel,
and how I'd felt, before this came on us. I couldn't do it. There can't
any of us do it. It's on us, like thick dark, whatever we do. Giving
money don't express it. Talking don't express it.... Oh, let's do
something in this town! Instead of our new Town Hall Prosperity
celebration, let's us do something on August 4 to let Europe see how bad
we feel. Let's us."

We talked a little more, and then I told them our plan, and we talked
over that. I'll never forget them, in the little Town Room with the two
gas jets and the chairman's squeaky swivel chair and the tobacco smoke.
But there wasn't one voice that dissented, not one. They all sat still,
as if they were taking off some spiritual hats that didn't show. It was
as if their little idea of a Prosperity celebration sort of gave up its
light to some big sun, blazing there on us, in the room.

The rest was easy. It kind of done itself. In a way it was already done.
Something was in people's hearts, and we were just making a way for it
to get out. And the air was full of something that was ready to get into
people's hearts, and we made a way for it to get in. I don't know but
these are our only job on this earth.


August 4--that's the Europe date that none of America can forget,
because it's part our date too.

"What we going to do?" says Bennie, when I was dressing him. It was four
months since we had had a letter from his father....

"We're going to do something," I says to him, "that you'll remember,
Bennie, when you're an old man." And I gave his shoulders a little
shake. "You tell them about it when you're old. Because they'll
understand it better then than we do now. You tell them!"

"Yes, ma'am," says Bennie, obedient--and I kind of think he'll do it.

We were to meet in the Court House yard, that's central, and march to
the Market Square, that's big. I was to march in the last detachment,
and so it came that I could watch them start. And I could see down
Daphne Street, with all the closed business houses with the flags hung
out at half mast, some of them with a bow of black cloth tied on. And
it was a strange gathering, for everybody was thinking, and everybody
knew everybody else was thinking.

We've got a nice band in Friendship Village, that they often send for to
play to the City. And when it started off ahead, beating soft with the
Beethoven funeral march, I held my breath and shut my eyes. _They were
playing for Europe, four thousand miles away._

Then came the women. That seemed the way to do, we thought--because war
means what war means to women. They were wearing white--or at least
everybody was that had a white dress, but blue or green or brown marched
just the same as if it was white; and they all wore black
streamers--just cloth, because we none of us had very much to do with.
Every woman in town marched--not one stayed home. And one of the women
had thought of something.

"We'd ought not to carry just our flag," she said. "That don't seem real
right. Let's us get out our dictionaries and copy off the other nations'
flags over there; and make 'em up out of cheese-cloth, and carry 'em."

And that was what we done. And all the women carried the different ones,
just as they happened to pick them up, and at half mast.

I don't know as I know who came next, or what order we arranged them.
We didn't have many ex-foreigners living in Friendship Village, but them
we had marched, in their own groups. They all came, dressed in their
best, and we had cheese-cloth flags of their own nation, made for each
group; and they marched carrying them, all together.

There was everybody that worked in the town, marching for Labor. Then
come the churches, not divided off into denominations, but just walking,
hit or miss, as they came; and though this was due to a superintendent
or two getting rattled at the last minute and not falling in line right,
it seemed good to see it, for the sorrow of one church for Europe isn't
any whit different from the sorrow of every one of the rest. When your
heart aches, it aches without a creed.

Last came the children, that I was going to march with; and someway they
were kind of the heart of the whole. And just in front of them was the
Mothers' Club--twenty or so of them, hard-worked, hopeful women, all
wanting life to be nice for their children, and trying, the best they
knew, to read up about it at their meetings. And they were marching that
day for the motherhood of the nations, and there wasn't one of them that
didn't feel it so. And the children ... when we turned the corner where
I could look back on them, I had all I could do--I had all I could do.
Three-four hundred of them, bobbing along, carrying any nation's flag
that came handy. And they meant so much more than they knew they meant,
like children always do.

"You're going to march for the little boys and girls in Europe that have
lost their folks," was all we said to them.

And when I see them coming along, looking round so sweet, dressed up in
what they had, and their hair combed up nice by somebody, somehow, there
came over me the picture of that little fellow with his brick, waiting
there for that pint of milk; and I squeezed up so on Bennie's hand that
I was walking with, that he looked up at me.

"You're lovin' me too hard in my fingers," he told me, candid.

"Oh, Bennie," I says, "you excuse me. I guess I was squeezing the hand
of every little last one of them, over there."

We all came into the Market Square, in the afternoon sunshine, with our
little still, peaceful street--laying and listening, and never knowing
it was like heaven at all. Every soul in town was there, I don't know of
one that didn't go. Even Luke Norris was there, his wind-pipe forgot. We
didn't have much exercises. Just being there was exercise enough. We
sung--no national airs, and above all, not our own; but just a hymn or
two that had in it all we could find of sympathy and love. There wasn't
anything else to say, only just those two things. Then Dr. June prayed,
brief:

"Lord God of Love, our hearts are full of love this day for all those
in Europe who are bereaved. We cannot speak about it very well--we
cannot show it very much. But Thou art love to them. Oh, draw us near in
spirit to those sorrowing over there, even as Thou are near to them all.
Amen."

Then the band played the Chopin funeral march, while we all stood still.
When it was done, up in the belfry of the new Town Hall, the new bell
that we were so proud of began to toll. And it seemed like the voice of
the town, saying something. We all went home to that bell, with the
children leading us. And nobody's store was opened again that day. For
the spirit of the time, and of Over There, was on the village like a
garment, and I suppose none of us spoke of anything else at supper, or
when the lamps were lit.


Quite a little while after supper I was sitting on my porch in the dark,
when Luke Norris and some of them came in my gate.

"Calliope," said one of the women, "we've been thinking. Don't it seem
awful pitiful that Europe can't know how we feel here to-day?"

"I thought of that," I said.

And Luke says: "Well, we've been looking up the cable charges. And we
thought we might manage it, to cable something like this:


     "Friendship Village memorial exercises held to-day for Europe's
     dead. Love and sympathy from our village."


"It'll cost a lot," says Luke. "The McVicars want us to add the money to
their relief fund instead. But I say _no_!" he struck the porch post
with his palm. "Leave us send it, cost or no cost, no matter what."

"I say so too," I says. "But tell me: Where'll you send it to?"

And Luke says simple:

"None of the newspaper dispatch folks'll take it--it ain't news enough
for them. So I'm a-going to cable it myself, prepaid, to six Europe
newspapers."

Pretty soon they went away, and I took Bennie and walked down to the
gate. I thought about that message, going on the wire to Europe....
There wasn't any moon, or any sound. The town lay still, as if it was
thinking. The world lay still, as if it was feeling.

FOOTNOTE:

[10] Copyright, 1916, _Collier's Weekly_, as "Over There."



WHEN THE HERO CAME HOME[11]


Never, not if I live till after my dying day, will I forget the evening
that Jeffro got home from the War. It was one of the times when what you
thought was the earth under your feet dissolves away, and nothing is
left there but a little bit of dirt, with miles of space just on the
under side of it. It was one of the times when what you thought was the
sky over your head is drawn away like a cloth, and nothing is there but
miles of space on the upper side of it. And in between the two great
spaces are us little humans, creeping 'round, wondering what we're for.
And not doing one-ninth as much wondering as you'd think we would.

Jeffro was the little foreign-born peddler, maker of toys, that had come
to Friendship Village and lived for a year with his little boy, scraping
enough together to send for his wife and baby in the old country. And no
sooner had he got them here than the Big War came--and nothing would do
but Jeffro must go back and fight it out with his country. And back he
went, though how he got there I dunno, for the whole village loaded him
down so with stuff that he must have been part helpless. How a man
could fight with his arms part full of raspberry jam and hard cookies
and remedies and apple butter, I'm sure I don't know. But the whole
village tugged stuff there for days beforehand. Jeffro was our one hero.
He was the only soldier Friendship Village had--except old Bud Babcock,
with his brass buttons and his limp and his perfectly everlasting,
always-coming-on and never-going-off reminiscences. And so, when Jeffro
started off, the whole town turned out to watch him go; and when I say
that Silas Sykes gave him a store-suit at cost, more no one could say
about nothing. For Silas Sykes is noted--that is, he ain't exactly
expected--that is to say,--well, to put it real delicate, Silas is as
stingy as a dog with one bone. And a store-suit at cost from him was
similar to a gold-mine from anybody else. Or more--more.

Well, then, for six months Jeffro was swallowed up. We never heard a
word from him. His little wife went around white and thin, and we got so
we didn't ask her if she'd heard from him, because we couldn't stand
that white, hunted, et-up look on her face. So we kept still, village
delicate. And that's a special kind of delicate.

Then, like a bow from the blue, or whatever it is they say, the mayor of
the town got the word from New York that Jeffro was coming home with his
right arm gone, honorably discharged. And about the same time a letter
from Europe, from somebody he knew that had got him the money to come
with, told how he'd been shot in a sortie and recommended by the captain
for promotion.

"A sortie," says Mis' Postmaster Sykes, thoughtful. "What kind of a
battle is a sortie, do you s'pose?"

"Land," says Mis' Amanda Toplady, "ain't that what they call an evening
musicale?"

When it heard Jeffro was coming home, Friendship Village rose up like
one man. We must give him a welcome. This was part because he was a
hero, and part because Mis' Postmaster Sykes thought of it first. And
most of Friendship Village don't know what it thinks about anything till
she thinks it for them.

"We must welcome him royal,"--were her words. "We must welcome him
royal. Ladies, let's us plan."

So she called some of us together to her house one afternoon--Mis'
Timothy Toplady, Mis' Holcomb-that-was-Mame-Bliss, Abigail Arnold, that
keeps the Home Bakery, Mis' Photographer Sturgis, that's the village
invalid, Mis' Fire Chief Merriman, that her husband's dead, but she
keeps his title because we got started calling her that and can't bear
to stop--and me. I told her I couldn't do much, being I was training two
hundred school children for a Sunday night service that week, and I was
pretty busy myself. But I went. And when we all got there, Mis' Sykes
took out a piece of paper tore from an account book, and she says,
pointing to a list on it with her front finger that wore her cameo ring:

"Ladies! I've got this far, and it's for you to finish. Jeffro will come
in on the Through, either Friday or Saturday night. Now we'll have the
band"--that's the Friendship Village Stonehenge Band of nine
pieces--"and back of that Bud Babcock, a-carrying the flag. We'll take
the one off'n the engine house, because that stands so far back no one
will miss it. And then we'll have the Boy Scouts, and the Red Barns's
ambulance; and we'll put Jeffro in that; and the boys can march beside
of him to his home."

"Well-a," says Mis' Timothy Toplady, "what'll you have the ambulance
for?"

"Because we've got no other public ve-hicle," says Mis' Sykes,
commanding, "without it's the hearse. If so, name what it is."

And nobody naming nothing, she went on:

"Then I thought we'd have the G. A. R., and the W. R. C. from Red
Barns--they'll be glad to come over because they ain't so very much
happening for them to be patriotic about, without it's Memorial Day. And
then the D. A. R. of Friendship Village and Red Barns will come last,
each a-carrying a flag in our hands. Friday is April 18th, and we did
mean to have a Pink Tea to celebrate Paul Revere's ride. But I'm quite
sure the ladies'll all be willing to give that up and transfer their
patriotic observation over to Jeffro. And we'll all march down in a
body, and be there when the train pulls in. What say, Ladies?"

She leaned back, with a little triumphant pucker, like she'd scraped the
world for ideas, and got them all and defied anybody to add to them.

"Well-a," says Mis' Timothy Toplady, "and then what?"

"Then what?" says Mis' Sykes, irritable. "Why, be there. And wave and
cheer and flop our flags. And walk along behind him to his house. And
hurrah--and sing, mebbe--oh, we _must_ sing, of course!" Mis' Sykes
cries, thinking of it for the first time, with her hands clasped.

Mis' Toplady looked troubled.

"Well-a," she says, "what would we sing for?"

"Sing for!" cried Mis' Sykes, exasperated. "Because he's got home, of
course."

"With his arm shot off. And his eyes blinded with powder. And him
half-starved. And mebbe worse. I dunno, Ladies," says Mis' Toplady,
dreamy, "but I'm terrible lacking. But I don't feel like singing over
Jeffro."

Mis' Sykes looked at her perfectly withering.

"Ain't you no sense of what'd due to occasions?" says she, regal.

"Yes," says Mis' Toplady, "I have. I guess that's just what's the
matter of me. It's the occasion that ails me. I was thinking--well,
Ladies, I was wondering just how much like singing we'd feel if we'd
_seen_ Jeffro's arm shot off him."

"But we _didn't_ see it," says Mis' Sykes, final. That's the way she
argues.

"Mebbe I'm all wrong," says Mis' Toplady, "but, Ladies, I can't feel
like a man getting all shot up is an occasion for jollification. I can't
do it."

Us ladies all kind of breathed deep, like a vent had been opened.

"Nor me." "Nor me." "Nor me." Run 'round Mis' Sykes's setting-room, from
one to one.

I wish't you could have seen Mis' Sykes. She looked like we'd declared
for cannibalism and atheism and traitorism, all rolled into one.

"Ain't you ladies," she says, "no sense of the glories of war? Or what?"

"Or what," says Mis' Toplady. "That's just it--glories of what. I guess
it's the _what_ part that I sense the strongest, somehow."

Mis' Sykes laid down her paper, and crossed her hands--with the cameo
ring under, and then remembered and crossed it _over_--and she says:

"Ladies, facts is facts. You've got to take things as they are."

Abigail Arnold flashed in.

"But you ain't takin' 'em nowheres," she says. "You're leavin' 'em as
they are. War is the way it's been for five thousand years--only five
thousand times worse."

Mis' Sykes tapped her foot, and made her lips both thin and straight.

"Yes," she says, "and it always will be. As long as the world lasts,
there'll be war."

Then I couldn't stand it any longer. I looked her right square in the
face, and I says:

"Mis' Sykes. Do you believe that?"

"Certainly I believe it," she says. "Besides, there's nothing in the
Bible against war. Not a thing."

"What about 'Thou shalt not kill'?" says I.

She froze me--she fair froze me.

"That," she said, "is an entirely different matter."

"Well," says I, "if you'll excuse me for saying so, it ain't different.
But leave that go. What about 'Love thy neighbor'? What about the
brotherhood of man? What about--"

She sighed, real patient. "Your mind works so queer sometimes,
Calliope," she says.

"Yes, well, mebbe," I says, like I'd said to her before. "But anyhow, it
works. It don't just set and set and set, and never hatch nothing. This
whole earth has set on war since the beginning, and hatched nothing but
death. Do you think, honest, that we haven't no more invention to us
than to keep on a-bungling like this to the end of time?"

Mis' Sykes stomped her foot.

"Look-a-here," she says. "Do you want to arrange something to go down to
welcome Jeffro home, or don't you? If you don't, say so."

Mis' Toplady sighed.

"Let's us go down to meet him," she says. "Leave us do that. But don't
you expect no singing off me," says she, final. "That's all."

So Mis' Sykes, she went ahead with her plan, and she agreed, grudging,
to omit out the singing. And the D. A. R's. put off their Paul Revere
Tea, and we sent to the City for more flags. Me, though, I didn't take a
real part. I agreed to march, and then I didn't take a real part. I'd
took on a good deal more than I'd meant to in training the children for
the Sunday night thing, and so I shirked Mis' Sykes's party all I could.
Not that I wouldn't be glad to see Jeffro. But I couldn't enthuse the
way she meant. By Friday, Mis' Sykes had everything pretty ship-shape,
and being we still didn't know which day Jeffro would come, we were all
to go down to the depot that night, on the chance; and Saturday as well.

Friday afternoon I was working away on some stuff for the children, when
Jeffro's wife came in. The poor little thing was so nervous she didn't
know whether she was saying "yes" or "no." She'd got herself all ready,
in a new-ironed calico, and a red bow at her neck.

"Do you think this bow looks too gay?" she says. "It seems gay, and him
so sick. But he always liked me to wear red, and it's all the red I've
got. It's only cotton ribbin, too," says she, wistful.

She wanted to know what I was doing, and so's to keep her mind off
herself, I told her. The hundred children, from all kinds and
denominations and everythings, were to meet together in Shepherd's Grove
that Sunday night, and I'd fixed up a little exercise for them: One
bunch of them were to represent Science, and they were to carry little
models of boats and engines and dirigibles and a little wireless tower.
And one bunch was to represent Art, and they were to carry colors and
figures and big lovely cardboard designs they made in school. And one
bunch was to represent Friendship, and they were to come with garlands
and arches that connected them each with all the rest. And one was to
represent Plenty, with fruit and grain. And one Beauty, and one
Understanding--and so on. And then, in the midst of them, I was going to
have a little bit of a child walk, carrying a model of the globe in his
hands. And they were all going to come to him, one after another, and
they were going to give him what they had. And what we'd planned, with
music and singing and a trumpeter and everything, was to be all around
that.

"I haven't the right child yet to carry the globe though," I says to
Jeffro's wife; "I can't find one little enough that's strong enough to
lug the thing."

And then, all of a sudden, I remembered her little boy, and Jeffro's
little boy. I remembered Joseph. Awful little he was, but with sturdy
legs and arms, and the kind of a face that makes you wonder why all
little folks don't look the same way. It seems the only way for them to
look.

"Why," I says, "look here: Why can't I borrow Joseph for Sunday night,
to carry the globe?"

"You can," she says, "without his father won't be wanting him to leave
him, when he's just got home so. Mebbe, though," she says, "he's so sick
he won't know whether Joseph is there or not--"

She kind of petered off, like she didn't have strength in her to finish
with. She never cried though. That was one thing I noticed about her.
She acted like crying is one of the things we ought to have
outgrown--like dressing in black for mourning, and like beating a drum
on the streets to celebrate anything, and like war. Honest, the way we
keep on using old-fashioned styles like these makes me feel sorry for
the Way-Things-Were-Meant-To-Be.

So it was arranged that Joseph was to carry the globe. And Jeffro's wife
went home to wash out his collar so he could go at all. And I flew round
so's to be all ready by six o'clock, when we were to meet at Court
House Park and march to the depot to meet Jeffro--so be he come that
night.

You know that nice, long, slanting, yellow afternoon light that begins
to be left over at six o'clock, in April? When we came along toward
Court House Park that night, it looked like that. There was a new fresh
green on the grass, and the birds were doing business some, and there
was a little nice spring smell in the air, that sort of said "Come on."
You know the kind of evening?

We straggled up to the depot, not in regular marching order at all, but
just bunched, friendly. Mis' Sykes was walking at the head of her D. A.
R. detachment, and she had sewed red and blue to her white duck skirt,
and she had a red and blue flower in her hat, and her waist was just
redded and blued, from shoulder to shoulder, with badges and bows. Mis'
Sykes was awful patriotic as to colors, but I didn't blame her. She'd
worn mourning so much, her only chance to wear the becoming shades at
all was by putting on her country's colors. Honest, I don't s'pose she
thought of that, though--well, I mean--I don't s'pose she really
thought--well, let's us go ahead with what I was trying to tell.

While we were waiting at the depot, all disposed around graceful on
trucks and trunks, the Friendship Village Stonehenge band started in
playing, just to get its hand in. And it played "The Star Spangled
Banner." And as soon as ever it started in, up hopped Silas Sykes onto
his feet, so sudden it must have snapped his neck. Mis' Amanda Toplady,
that was sitting by me on the telegraph window sill, she looked at him a
minute without moving. And then she says to me, low:

"Whenever a man gets up so _awful_ sudden when one of his country's airs
is played, I always think," she says, "I'd just love to look into his
business life, and make perfectly sure that he ain't a-making his money
in ways that ain't patriotic to his country, nor a credit to his
citizenship--in the real sense."

"Me, too," I says, fervent.

And then we both got to our feet deliberate, Silas having glared at us
and all but beckoned to us with his neck. He was singing the song,
too--negligent, in his throat. And while he did so, I knew Mis' Toplady
and I were both thinking how Silas, a while ago, had done the town out
of twice the worth of the property we'd bought from him, for a Humane
Society home. And that we'd be paying him for ten years to come. I
couldn't help thinking of it. I'm thinking of it now.

Before they were done playing the piece, the train whistled. We lined
up, or banked up, or whatever you want to call it. And there we stood
when the train slowed and stopped. And not a soul got off.

No; Jeffro wasn't on that train. He didn't come that night at all. And
when the next night we all got down there to meet the Through again, in
the same grand style, the identical same thing happened. He didn't come
that night, either. And we trailed back from the train, with our spirits
dampened a little. Because now he couldn't come till Monday night, being
the Through only run to the city on Sundays and didn't come out to
Friendship Village at all.

So I had that evening to put my mind on the children, and finish up what
I had to do for them. And I was glad. Because the service that I was
planning for that night grew on me. It was a Spring festival, a
religious festival--because I always think that the coming of Spring is
a religious ceremony, really--in the best sense. It's when the new birth
begins to come all over the earth at once, gentle, as if somebody was
thinking it out, a little at a time. And as if it was hoping and longing
for us to have a new life, too.

And yet I was surprised that they'd leave me have the festival on
Sunday. We've got so used to thinking of religion--and one or two brands
of patriotism--as the only holy things there are. I didn't know but when
I mentioned having Science and Art and Friendship and Beauty and Plenty
and Understanding and Peace at my Sunday evening service, they might
think I was over-stepping some. I don't know but they did, too. Only
they indulged me a little.

So everybody came. The churches had all agreed to unite, being
everybody's children were in the festival. And by five o'clock that
Sunday afternoon the whole of Shepherd's Grove was full of Friendship
Village folks, come from all over the town and out on the edges, and in
the country, to see the children have their vesper festival. That's what
I'd called it--a vesper festival, so it'd help them that had their
doubts.

There weren't any seats, for it wasn't going to be long, and I had them
all stand in a pleasant green spot in the grove, on two sides of the
little grass-grown road that wound through the wood, and down which,
pretty soon, I was going to have Joseph come, carrying the globe of the
world.

When we were ready, and the little trumpeter we'd got had stilled them
all with the notes he'd made, that were like somebody saying something
and really meaning it--the way a trumpet does--then the children began
to sing, soft and all together, from behind a thicket of green that
they'd made themselves:


     "Don't you wish we had a place
       Where only bright things are,
     Like the things we dream about,
       And like a star?

     "Don't you wish the world would turn
       For an hour or two,
     And run back the other way
       And be made new?

     "Don't you wish we all could be
       What we know we are,
     'Way inside, where a Voice speaks,
       Far--and near--and far?"


And then they came out--one after another of the groups I've told you
about--Science, and Art, and Friendship, and Plenty, and the others. And
each one said what they knew how to do to the world to make that wish
come true. I don't need to tell you about that. You know. If you have
friendship or plenty or beauty in your life, you know. If only we could
get enough of them!

Out they all came, one after another. It was very still in the wood. The
children's voices were sweet and clear. They all had somebody there that
they were near and dear to. The whole time was quiet, and close up to,
and like the way things were meant to be. And like the way things might
be. And like the way things will be--when we let them.

Then there was a little pause. For they'd all told what might be, and
now it was time to signal Joseph to come running up the road, carrying
the globe in its orbit, and speaking for the World, and asking all these
lovely things to come and take possession of it, and own it, and be it.
But, just as I got ready to motion to him, I had to wait, for down the
grassy road through Shepherd's Grove, where there wasn't much travel,
was coming an automobile, though one doesn't pass that way from the
city once in ten years.

We all drew back to let it pass among us. And, in that little pause, we
looked, curious, to see who was in it. And then a whisper, and then a
cry, came from the nearest, and from them back, and then from them all
at once. For, propped up on the seat, was Jeffro. He'd come to the city
on the Through, that doesn't come to Friendship Village Sundays, and
they'd brought him home this way.

I dunno how I thought of it--don't it seem as if something in you works
along alone, if only you'll keep your thinking still? It did that now.
Almost before I knew I was going to do it, I signed to the man to stop,
and I stepped right up beside the car where Jeffro sat, looking like a
ghost of a man. And I says:

"Mr. Jeffro! Mr. Jeffro! Are you too sick to leave us welcome you home?"

He smiled then, and put out his hand--the one hand that he'd come back
with. And from somewhere in the crowd, Jeffro's wife got to the car, and
got the door open, and leaned there beside him. And we all waited a
minute--but one minute was the very best we could do. Then everybody
came pressing up round the car to shake his hand. And I slipped back to
the bugler we had, and I says:

"Blow! Blow the loudest you ever blew in your life. _Blow!_"

He blew a blast, silver clear, golden clear, sunlight clear. And I sent
him through the crowd, blowing, and making a path right up to the
automobile. Then I signed to the children, and I had them come down that
open aisle. And they came singing, all together, the song they had sung
behind the thicket. And they pressed close around the car, singing
still:


     "Don't you wish we had a place
       Where only bright things are,
     Like the things we dream about,
       And like a star?"


And there they came to meet him--Art and Science and Plenty and Beauty
and Friendship--Friendship. I don't know whether he understood what they
said. I don't know whether he understood the meaning of what they
carried--for Jeffro wasn't quite sure of our language all the time. But,
oh, he couldn't misunderstand the spirit of that time or of those folks.

He got to his feet, Jeffro did, his face kind of still and solemn. And
just then Mis' Silas Sykes, in a black dress, without a scrap of red or
blue about her, stepped up to him, her face fair grief-struck. And she
says:

"Oh, Mr. Jeffro. The D. A. R., and the G. A. R., and the W. R. C. was to
welcome you back from the glories of war. And here you've took us
unbeknownst."

He looked round at us--and this is what I'll never forget--not if I
live till my dying day:

"The glories of war!" he says over. "The glories of war! You do not know
what you say! I tell you that I have seen mad dogs, mad beasts of
prey--but I do not know what it is they do. The glories of war! Oh, my
God, does nobody know that we are all mad together?"

Jeffro's wife tried to quiet him, but he shook her off.

"Listen," he said. "I have gone to war and lived through hell to learn
one thing. I gif it to you: _Life is something else than what we think
it is._ That is true. _Life is something else than what we think it is._
When we find it out, we shall stop this devil's madness."

Just then a little cry came from somewhere over back in the road.

"My papa! It _is_ my papa!" it said. And there came running Joseph, that
had heard his father's voice, and that we had forgot' all about. We let
him through the crowd, and he climbed up in the car, and his father took
him in his one arm. And there they sat, with the globe that Joseph
carried, the world that he carried, in beside them.

We all began moving back to the village, before much of anybody knew
it--the automobile with Jeffro in it, and Jeffro's wife, and Jeffro's
little boy. And with the car went, not soldiers, not flags, not the
singing of any one nation's airs--but the children, with those symbols
of the life that is living and building life--as fast as we'll let it
build. Jeffro didn't know what they were, I guess--though he knew the
love and the kindliness and the peace of the time. But I knew, and more
of us knew, that in that hour lay all the promise of the new day, when
we understand what we are: Gods, fallen into a pit.

We went up the street with the children singing:


     "Don't you wish we all could be
       What we know we are,
     'Way inside, where a Voice speaks,
       Far--and near--and far?"


When we got to Jeffro's gate, Mis' Sykes came past me.

"Ain't it sad?" she says. "Not a soldier, nor a patriotic song, nor a
flag to meet our hero?"

I looked at her, kind. I felt kind to all the world, because somehow I
felt so sure, so certain sure, of things.

"Don't you worry, Mis' Sykes," I says. "I kind of feel as if more was
here to meet Jeffro than we've any notion of."

For it was one of the times when what you thought was the earth under
your feet dissolves away, and nothing is left there but a little bit of
dirt, with miles of space just on the under side of it. It was one of
the times when what you thought was the sky over your head is drawn
away like a cloth, and nothing is there but miles of space high on the
upper side of it. And in between these two great spaces are us little
humans, kind of creeping round--wondering what we're for.

FOOTNOTE:

[11] Copyright, 1915, _The Woman's Home Companion_.



"FOLKS"[12]


I dunno whether you like to go to a big meeting or not? Some folks seem
to dread them. Well, I love them. Folks never seem to be so much folks
as when I'm with them, thousands at a time.

Well, once annually I go to what's a big meeting for us, on the occasion
of the Friendship Village Married Ladies' Cemetery Improvement
Sodality's yearly meeting.... I always hope folks won't let that name of
us bother them. We don't confine our attention to Cemetery any more. But
that's been the name of us for twenty-four years, and we got started
calling it that and we can't bear to stop. You know how it is--be it
institutions or constitutions or ideas or a way to mix the bread, one of
our deformities is that we hate to change.

"Seems to me," says Mis' Postmaster Sykes once, "if we should give up
that name, we shouldn't be loyal nor decent nor loving to the dead."

"Shucks," says I, "how about being loyal and decent and loving to the
living?"

"Your mind works so queer sometimes, Calliope," says Mis' Sykes,
patient.

"Yes--well," I says, "mebbe. But anyhow, it works. It don't just set
and set and set, and never hatch nothing."

So we continued to take down bill-boards and put in shrubbery and chase
flies and dream beautiful, far-off dreams of sometime getting in
sewerage, all under the same undying name.

Well, at our annual meeting that night, we were discussing what should
be our work the next year. And suggestions came in real sluggish, being
the thermometer had been trying all day to climb over the top of its
hook.

Suggestions run about like this:


     _1. See about having seats put in the County House Yard._

     _2. See about getting the blankets in the Calaboose washed
     oftener._

     _3. Get trash baskets for the streets._

     _4. Plant vines over the telegraph poles._

     _5. See about Main Street billboards--again._

     _6. See about the laundry soft coal smoke--again._

     _7. See about window boxes for the library--again._


And these things were partitioned out to committees one by one, some to
strike dry, shallow sand, some to get planted on the bare rock, and some
to hit black dirt and a sunny spot with a watering can, or even a
garden hose handy. You know them different sorts of soil under
committees?

Then up got Mis' Timothy Toplady--that dear, abundant woman. And we kind
of rustled expectant, because Mis' Toplady is one of the women that
looks across the edges of what's happening at the minute, and senses
what's way over there beyond. She's one of the women that never shells
peas without seeing beyond the rim of her pan.

And that night she says to Sodality:

"Ladies, I hear that up to the City next week there's going to be some
kind of a woman's convention."

Nobody said anything. Railroad wrecks, volcanoes, diamonds, conventions
and such never seemed real _real_ to us in the village.

"It seems to be some kind of a once-in-two-years affair," Mis' Toplady
went on, "and I read in the paper how it had a million members, and how
they came 10,000 to a time to their meetings. Well, now," she ends up,
serene, "I've rose to propose that, bein' it's so near, Sodality send a
delegate up there next week to get us some points."

"What points do we need, I should like to know," says Mis' Postmaster
Sykes, majestic. "Ain't we abreast of whatever there is to be abreast
of?"

"That's what I dunno," says Mis' Toplady. "Leave us find out."

"Well," says Mis' Sykes, "my part, expositions and conventions are
horrible to me. _I'm_ no club woman, anyhow," says she, righteous.

All the keeping still I ever done in my life when I'd ought to wouldn't
put nobody to sleep. I spoke right up.

"Ain't our Sodality a club, Mis' Sykes?" I says.

"Oh, our little private club here," says Mis' Sykes, "is one
thing--carried on quiet and womanly among ourselves. But a great big
public convention is no place for a woman that respects her home."

"Why," I says, "Mis' Sykes, that was the way we were arguing when clubs
began. It took quite a while to outgrow it. But ain't we past all that
by now?"

"Women's homes," she says, "and women's little home clubs are enough to
occupy any woman. A convention is men's business."

"It is if it is," says I, "but think how often it is that it ain't."

Mis' Toplady kept on, thoughtful.

"Anyway, I been thinking," she says, "why don't we leave the _men_ join
Sodality?"

I dunno if you've ever suggested a revolution? Whether I'm in favor of
any particular revolution or not, it always makes a nice, healthy
minute. And it's such an elegant measuring rod for the brains of folks.

"Why, how can we?" says Mis' Sykes. "We're the Married _Ladies'_
Cemetery Improvement Sodality."

"Is that name," says Mis' Toplady, mild, "made up out o' cast-iron, Mis'
Sykes?"

"But our constitution says we shall consist of fifty married ladies,"
says Mis' Sykes, final.

"Did we make that constitution," says I, "or did it make us? Are we
a-idol-worshiping our constitution or are we a-growing inside it, and
bursting out occasional?"

"If you lived in back a ways, Calliope,"--Mis' Sykes begun.

"Well," says I, "I might as well, if you're going to use _any_ rule or
any law for a ball and chain for the leg instead of a stepping-stone for
the feet."

Mis' Fire Chief Merriman looked up from her buttonholing.

"But we don't _want_ to do men's work, do we?" says she, distasteful.
"Leave them do their club work and leave us do our club work, like the
Lord meant."

"Well--us women tended Cemetery quite a while," says I, "and the death
rate wasn't confined to women, exclusive. Graves," says I, "is both
genders, Mis' Fire Chief."

Mis' State Senator Pettigrew, she chimed in.

"So was the park. So was paving Main Street. So was getting pure milk.
So was cleaning up the slaughter house--parse them and they're both
genders, all of them. Of course let's us take men into the Sodality,"
says she.

Mis' Sykes put her hand over her eyes.

"My g-g-grandmother organized and named Sodality," she said. "I can't
bear to see a change."

"Cheer up, Mis' Sykes," I says, "you'll be a grandmother yourself some
day. Can't you do a little something to let _your_ grandchildren point
back to? Awful selfish," I says, "not to give them something to brag
about."

We didn't press the men proposition any more. We see it was too
delicate. But bye and bye we talked it out, that we'd have a big meeting
of everybody, men and women, and discuss over what the town needed, and
what the Sodality ought to undertake.

"That'll be real democratic," says Mis' Sykes, contented. "We'll give
everybody a chance to express their opinion--and then afterwards we can
take up just what we please."

And we decided that was another reason for sending a delegate to the
woman's convention, to get ahold of somebody, somehow, to come down to
Friendship Village and talk to us.

"Be kind of nice to show off to somebody, too," says Mis' Fire Chief
Merriman, complacent, "what a nice, neat, up-to-date little town we've
got."

"Without the help of no great big clumsy convention either," Mis' Sykes
stuck in.

Then the first thing I heard was Mis' Amanda Toplady up onto her feet
nominating me to go for a delegate to that convention, fare paid out of
the Cemetery Improvement Treasury.

Guess what the first thought was that came to my head? Oh, ain't it like
women had been wrapped up in something that we're just beginning to peek
out of? Guess what I thought. Yes, that was it. When I spoke out my
first thought, I says:

"Oh, _ladies_, I can't go. I ain't got a rag fit to wear."

It took quite a while to persuade me. All the party dress I had was out
of the spare-room curtains, and I didn't have a wrap at all--I'm just
one of them jacket women. And finally I says to them: "You look here.
Suppose I write a note to the president of the whole thing, and tell her
just what clothes I have got, and ask her if anybody'd best go, looking
like me."

And that was what I did do. I kept a copy of the letter I wrote her. I
says:


     "_Dear President_:

     "Us ladies have heard about the meeting set for next week, and we
     thought we'd send somebody up from our Friendship Village Married
     Ladies Cemetery Improvement Sodality. And we thought we'd send me.
     But I wouldn't want to come and have everybody ashamed of me. I've
     only got my two years suit, and a couple of waists and one thin
     dress--and they're all just every day--or not so much so. I'm
     asking you, like I feel I can ask a woman, president or not. Would
     you come at all, like that, if you was me.

     "Respectfully,
     "CALLIOPE MARSH."


I kept her answer too, and this is what she said:


     "_Dear Miss Marsh_:

     "Just as I have told my other friends, let me tell you: By all
     means we want you to come. Do not disappoint us. But I believe that
     your club is not entitled to a delegate. So I am sending you this
     card. Will you attend the meeting, and the reception as my guest?"


And then her name. Sometimes, when I get discouraged about us, I take
out that letter, and read it through.

I remember when the train left that morning, how I looked back on the
village, sitting there in its big arm chair of hills, with green
cushions of woods dropped around, and wreaths of smoke curling up from
contented chimneys. And over on the South slope our big new brick county
house, with thick lips and lots of arched eye-brows, the house that us
ladies was getting seats to put in the yard of.

"Say what who will," thinks I, "I love that little town. And I guess
it's just about as good as any of us could expect."

I got to the City just before the Convention's evening meeting. I
brushed my hair up, and put on my cameo pin, and hurried right over to
the hall. And when I showed them my card, where do you guess they took
me? Up to one of the rows on the stage. Me, that had never faced an
audience except with my back to them--as organist in our church. (That
sounds so grand that I'd ought to explain that I can't play anything
except what's wrote natural. So I'm just organist to morning service,
when I can pick out my own hymns, and not for prayer meeting when
anybody is likely to pipe up and give out a song just black with sharps
and flats.) There were a hundred or more on the stage, and there were
flowers and palms and lights and colors. I sat there looking at the
pattern of the boards of the stage, and just about half sensing what was
going on at first. Then I got my eyes up a little ways to some pots of
blue hydrangeas on the edge of the stage. I had a blue hydrangea in my
yard home, so they kind of gave me courage. Then my eye slipped over the
foot-lights, to the first rows, to the back rows, to the boxes, to the
galleries--over the length and breadth of that world of folks--thousands
of them--as many as five times them in my whole village. And they were
gathered in a room the size and the shape and--almost the height of a
village green.

The woman that was going to talk that night I'd never even heard of. She
was a woman that you wouldn't think of just as a woman or a wife or a
mother or a teacher same as some. No, you thought of her first of all
as folks. And she had eyes like the living room, with all the curtains
up. She'd been talking a little bit before I could get my mind off the
folks and on to her. But all of a sudden something she was saying rang
out just like she had turned and said it to me. I cut it out of the
paper afterwards--this is it, word for word:

"_You who believe yourselves to be interested in social work, ask
yourselves what it is that you are interested in really. I will tell
you. Well, whether you know it or not, fundamentally what you care about
is_ PEOPLE. _Let us say it in a better way. It is_ FOLKS."

I never took my eyes off her face after that. For "folks" is a word I
know. Better than any other word in the language, I know that word
"folks."

She said: "Well, let us see what, in clubs, our social work has been: At
first, Clean-up days, Planting, Children's Gardens, School Gardens, Bill
Boards, the Smoke Nuisance. That is fine, all of it. These are what we
must do to make our towns fit to live in.

"Then more and more came the need to get nearer to folks--and yet
nearer. And then what did we have? Fly campaigns, Garbage Disposal, Milk
and Food Inspection, Playgrounds, Vocational Guidance, Civic and Moral
training in the schools, Sex Hygiene, Municipal Recreation, Housing. All
this has brought us closer and closer to folks--not only to their needs
but to what they have to give. That is fine--all of it. That is what we
have to do.

"But who is it that has been doing it? Those of us to whom life has been
a little kind. Those of us on whom the anguish and the toil of life do
not fall the most heavily. We are free to do these things. Clean,
cleanly clothed, having won--or been given--a little leisure, we are
free to meet together and to turn our thought to the appearance of our
cities--and to the other things. That is a great step. We have come very
far, my friends.

"But is it far enough?

"Here in this hall with us to-night there are others besides ourselves.
Each of us from near towns and far cities comes shepherding a cloud of
witnesses. Who are these? Say those others, clean and leisured, who live
in your town, and yours. Say the school children, that vast, ambiguous
host, from your town and yours and yours. Say the laboring
children--five hundred thousand of them in the states which you in this
room represent--my friends, the _laboring children_. Say, the seven
million and more women workers in your states and mine. Say the
men,--the wage earners,--toilers with the hands, multitudes, multitudes,
who on the earth and beneath it, in your town and yours and yours, are
at labor now, that we may be here--clean and at leisure. I tell you they
are all here, sitting with us, shadowy. And the immediate concerns of
these are the immediate concerns of us. And social work is the
development of the chance for all of us to participate more abundantly
in our common need to live.

"As fast as in you lies, let your civic societies look farther than
conserving or planting or beautifying, or even cleaning. Give these
things to committees--important committees. And turn you to the
fundamentals. Turn to the industries and to the government and to the
schools of your towns and there work, for there lie the hidings of your
power. Here are the great tasks of the time: The securing of economic
justice for labor, the liberation of women, and the great deliverances:
From war, from race prejudice, from prostitution, from alcohol, and at
last from poverty.

"These are the things _we_ have to do. Not they. We. You and I. These
are your tasks and mine and the tasks of those who have not our
cleanliness nor our leisure, but who will help as fast as ever we learn
how to share that help--as fast as ever we all learn how to work as
one.... Oh, my friends, we must dream far. We must dream the farthest
that folks can go. For life is something other than that which we
believe it to be."

When she'd got through, right in the middle of the power and the glory
that came in my head, something else flew up and it was:

1. See about having seats put in the County House Yard.

2. See about getting the blankets in the Calaboose washed oftener.

3. See about--and all the rest of them.

And instead, _this_ was what we were for, till all of us have earned the
right to something better. This was what we could help to do. It was
like the sky had turned into a skylight, and let me look up through....

My seat was on the side corner of the platform, nearest to her. She had
spoken last, and everybody was rustling to go. I didn't wait a minute. I
went down close beside the footlights and the blue hydrangeas, and held
out my letter. And I says:

"Oh! Come to Friendship Village. You must come. We were going to get the
blankets in the calaboose washed oftener--and--we--oh, you come, and
make us see that life is the kind of thing you say it is, and show us
that we belong!"

She took the letter that Mis' Fire Chief Merriman had composed for me,
and right while forty folks were waiting for her, she stood and read it.
She had a wonderful kind of tender smile, and she smiled with that. And
then all she says to me was all I wanted:

"I'll come. When do you want me?"

Never, not if I live till after my dying day, will I forget the day that
I got back to Friendship Village. When it came in sight through the car
window, I saw it--not sitting down on its green cushions now, but
standing tip-toe on its heaven-kissing hills--waiting to see what we
could do to it. When you come home from a big convention like that, if
you don't step your foot on your own depot platform with a new sense of
consecration to your town, and to all living things, then you didn't
deserve your badge, nor your seat, nor your privilege. And as I rode
into the town, thinking this, and thinking more than I had words to
think with, I wanted to chant a chant, like Deborah (but pronounced
Déborah when it's a relative). And I wanted to say:

"Oh, Lord. Here we live in a town five thousand strong, and we been
acting like we were five thousand weak--and we never knew it.

"And because we had learned to sweep up a few feet beyond our own
door-yard, and had found out the names of a few things we had never
heard of before, we thought we were civic. We even thought we were
social.

"Civic. Social. We thought these were new names for new things. And here
they are only bringing in the kingdom of God, that we've known about all
along.

"Oh, it isn't going to be brought in by women working along alone. Nor
by men working along alone. It's going to come in by whole towns rising
up together men and women, shoulder to shoulder, and nobody left out,
organized and conscious and working like one folk. Like one folk."

Mis' Amanda Toplady and Mis' Holcomb-that-was-Mame-Bliss were at the
depot to meet me. I remember how they looked, coming down the platform,
with an orange and lemon and water-melon sunset idling down the sky.

And then Mis' Holcomb-that-was-Mame-Bliss says to me, with her eye-brows
all pleased and happy:

"Oh, Calliope, we've got the new seats for the County House Yard.
They're iron, painted green, with a leaf design on the back."

"And," chimes in the other one, "we've got them to say they'll wash the
blankets in the calaboose every quarter."

I wanted to begin right then. But I didn't. I just walked down the
street with them, a-carrying my bag and my umbrella, and when one of
them says, "Well, I'm sure your dress don't look so very much wore after
all, Calliope," I answered back, casual enough, just as if I was
thinking about what she said: "Well, I give you my word, I haven't once
thought about myself in con-nection with that dress."

Together we went down Daphne Street in the afternoon sun. And they
didn't know, nor Friendship Village didn't know, that walking right
along with us three was the tramp and the tramp of the feet of a great
convention that had come home with me, right there to our village. Oh, I
mean the tramp and the tramp of the feet of the folks in the whole
world.

FOOTNOTE:

[12] Copyright, 1914, _La Follette's Magazine_.


THE END


PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA





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