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Title: Clever Betsy - A Novel
Author: Burnham, Clara Louise
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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    HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
    BOSTON AND NEW YORK



CLEVER BETSY

[Illustration: SHE SANK INTO THE ARMS THAT CLASPED HER]



CLEVER BETSY

A Novel

    by
    Clara Louise Burnham

    With Illustrations by
    Rose O’Neill

[Illustration]

    BOSTON AND NEW YORK
    HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
    The Riverside Press Cambridge
    1910



    COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY CLARA LOUISE BURNHAM
    ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

    _Published September 1910_



CONTENTS


         I. OPENING THE COTTAGE          1
        II. MISTRESS AND MAID           16
       III. IRVING BRUCE                27
        IV. MRS. POGRAM CONFIDES        38
         V. ROSALIE VINCENT             47
        VI. THE LAST STAGE              62
       VII. THE NATIONAL PARK           75
      VIII. THE BLONDE HEAVER           87
        IX. THE FOUNTAIN HOUSE         102
         X. ON THE RIVERSIDE           117
        XI. FACE TO FACE               131
       XII. THE FAITHFUL GEYSER        150
      XIII. THE HEIRESS                160
       XIV. THE LOOKOUT                176
        XV. AN EXODUS                  189
       XVI. BETSY’S GIFT               202
      XVII. SUNRISE                    217
     XVIII. HOMEWARD BOUND             232
       XIX. MRS. BRUCE’S HEADACHE      246
        XX. BETSY’S APPEAL             258
       XXI. A RAINY EVENING            270
      XXII. THE WHITE DOVE             282
     XXIII. THE DANCE                  296
      XXIV. THE CLASH                  313
       XXV. WHITE SWEET PEAS           327
      XXVI. IN BETSY’S ROOM            338
     XXVII. BETSY RECEIVES             355
    XXVIII. GOOD-BY, SUMMER            369
      XXIX. THE NEW YEAR               387



CLEVER BETSY



CHAPTER I

OPENING THE COTTAGE


“HELLO there!” The man with grizzled hair and bronzed face under a
shabby yachting-cap stopped in his leisurely ramble up the street of
a seaport village, and his eyes lighted at sight of a spare feminine
figure, whose lean vigorous arms were shaking a long narrow rug at a
cottage gate. “Ahoy there—The Clever Betsy!” he went on.

The energetic woman vouchsafed a sidewise twist of her mouth intended
for a smile, but did not cease from her labors, and a cloud of dust met
the hastened approach of the seaman.

“Here, there’s enough o’ that! Don’t you know your captain?” he went
on, dodging the woolen fringe which snapped near his dark cheek.

“_My_ captain!” retorted the energetic one, while the rug billowed
still more wildly. She was a woman of his own middle age, and the cloth
tied around her head did not add to her charms; but the man’s eyes
softened as they rested on her.

“Here! You carry too much sail. Take a reef!” he cried; and deftly
snatching the rug, in an instant it was trailing on the walk behind
him, while Betsy Foster stared, offended.

“How long ye been here, Betsy?”

“A couple o’ days,” replied the woman, adjusting the cheese-cloth
covering more firmly behind her ears.

“Why didn’t ye let a feller know?”

“Thought I wouldn’t trouble trouble till trouble troubled me.”

The man smiled. “The Clever Betsy,” he said musingly. They regarded one
another for a silent moment. “Why ain’t ye ever clever to me?”

She sniffed.

“Why don’t ye fat up some?” he asked again.

“If I was as lazy as you are, probably I should,” she returned, with
the sidewise grimace appearing again, and the breeze from the wide
ocean a stone’s throw away ruffling the sparse straight locks that
escaped from her headdress.

“Goin’ to marry me this time, Betsy?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Same old reason.”

“But I _tell_ ye,” said the man, in half-humorous, half-earnest appeal,
“I’ve told ye a dozen times I didn’t know which I liked best then. If
you’d happened to go home from singin’-school with me that night it
would ’a’ ben you.”

“And I say it ain’t proper respect to Annie’s memory for you to talk
that way.”

“I ain’t disrespectful. There never were two such nice girls in one
village before. I nearly grew wall-eyed tryin’ to look at you both at
once. Annie and I were happy as clams for fifteen years. She’s been
gone five, and I’ve asked ye four separate times if you’d go down the
hill o’ life with me, and there ain’t any sense in your refusin’ and
flappin’ rugs in my face.”

“You know I don’t like this sort o’ foolin’, Hiram. I wish you’d be
done with it.”

“I ain’t ever goin’ to be done with it, Betsy, not while you live and I
live.”

“Have some sense,” she rejoined. “We both made our choice when we were
young and we must abide by it—both of us.”

“You didn’t marry the Bruce family.”

“I did, too.”

Betsy Foster’s eyes, suddenly reminiscent, did not suit in their
expression the brusqueness of her tone. She saw again her young self,
heart-sick with the disappointment of her girlish fancy, leaving this
little village for the city, and finding a haven with the bride who
became her friend as well as mistress.

“I did, too,” she repeated. “It was my silver weddin’ only last week,
when Mr. Irving had his twenty-fourth birthday.”

“Is Irving that old? Bless me! Then,” hopefully, “if he’s twenty-four
he don’t need to be tied to your apron-strings. Strikes me you’re as
much of a widow as I am a widower. There ain’t many o’ the Bruce family
left for you to be married to. After Irving’s mother died, I can see
plain enough why you were a lot o’ help to Mr. Bruce; but when he
married again you didn’t have any call to look after him any longer;
and seein’ he died about the same time poor Annie did, you’ve been free
as air these five years. You don’t need to pretend you think such an
awful lot o’ the widder Bruce, ’cause I know ye don’t. Don’t ye suppose
I remember how all your feathers stood on end when Mr. Bruce married
her?”

Betsy gave a fleeting glance over her shoulder toward the window of the
cottage.

“’Twasn’t natural that I should want to see anybody in Irving’s
mother’s place, but she’s—”

“I remember as if ’twas yesterday,” interrupted Hiram, “how you said
’twas Irving she married him for; how that she could never keep her
fingers out of any pie, and she didn’t like the hats Mr. Bruce bought
for Irving, so she married him to choose ’em herself.”

Betsy’s lips twitched in a short laugh. “Well, I guess there was
somethin’ in that,” she answered.

Hiram pursued what he considered his advantage. “When Irving was on the
football team at college, you told me yourself, standin’ right by this
gate, that she’d go to the game, and when she wasn’t faintin’ because
he was knocked out, she was hollerin’ at him how to play.”

Betsy bridled. “Well, what’s all this for?” she demanded.

“It’s to show you plain as the nose on your face that if you ever was
married to the Bruce family you’re a widder now; just as much as I’m a
widower.”

“No, sir, for better or for worse,” returned Betsy doggedly.

“Get out. They’re dead, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce, both dead; and the widder
Bruce nothin’ at all to you.”

“Stepmother to Mr. Irving,” declared Betsy.

“Well, he’s used to it by this time. Had twelve years of it. Holy
mackerel, that kid twenty-four! I can’t realize it. His mother—”

“No, no,” said Betsy quickly.

“Well, _she_ anyway, Mrs. Bruce, went over to Europe to meet him last
year, didn’t she, when she took you?”

“Of course she did. He went abroad when he left college, and do you
suppose she could stand it not to be in part of his trip and tell him
what to do?”

“There now! It’s plain how you feel toward _that_ member o’ the family.”

“But I told you, didn’t I? Can’t you understand English? I told you
‘for better or for _worse_.’”

“Go ’long, Betsy, go ’long! That husky football hero don’t need you
to fight his battles. If she presses him too hard, he’ll get married
himself. I guess he’s got a pretty solid place in the bank. When did
you get back?”

“A month ago.”

“Mrs. Bruce come down here with you?”

Hiram’s eyes as he asked the question left his companion’s face for the
first time, and roved toward the windows of the cottage retreating amid
its greenery.

As if his question had evoked the apparition, a light-haired lady
suddenly appeared in the open doorway. She was a woman of about
forty-five years, but her blonde hair concealed its occasional silver
threads, and her figure was girlishly slender. She regarded the couple
for a moment through her gold eye-glasses, and then came down the steps
and through the garden-path.

“I thought I couldn’t be mistaken, Captain Salter,” she said
graciously, extending one hand, ringed and sparkling, and with the
other protecting the waves of her carefully dressed hair from the
boisterous breeze.

The captain, continuing to trail the rug behind him, touched his cap
and allowed his rough fingers to be taken for a moment.

“The Clever Betsy here was carrying too much sail,” he explained. “I
took ’em down.”

Mrs. Bruce laughed amiably.

“And found you’d run into a squall, no doubt,” she responded, observing
her handmaid’s reddened countenance.

Mrs. Bruce’s eyes could be best described as busy. There was nothing
subtle about her glances. She made it quite evident that nothing
escaped her, and the trim exactness of her dress and appearance seemed
to match her observations.

“It seems good to be back in Fairport,” she went on. “One summer’s
absence is quite enough, though I plan to slip away just for a little
while to take a look at the Yellowstone this year.”

“That so? Should think you’d had travelin’ enough for one spell,”
rejoined Hiram.

“Oh, it’s an appetite that grows with what it feeds on, Captain Salter.
I dare say you have been a rover, too. I know how all you sea-captains
are.”

“No’m. My line’s ben fish, mostly.”

“And,” added Mrs. Bruce, “taking care of us poor land-lubbers in
summer. My son was well satisfied with your sale of his boat. I don’t
know whether he will get another this summer or not. You’ll be here as
usual, I hope?”

“Looks that way.”

“I’m glad. I’m positively attached to the Gentle Annie.”

“Haven’t got her no more,” returned Hiram quietly. “I’ve parted with
her.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I suppose the new one’s better.”

“Well, she’s just as good, anyway.”

“But if she’s not better, I don’t see why you let the Annie go.”

“’Taint always in our power to hold on to things when we’d like to,”
responded Hiram equably.

Mrs. Bruce’s eyes shone with interest behind her bi-focals. “Poor man!”
she thought. “How improvident these ignorant people are! Probably went
into debt, and had to lose his boat, and calculated on doing enough
business this summer to pay for the new one.”

“And what,” she asked, with an air of gracious patronage, “will you
call this one? Gentle Annie second, of course.”

He shook his head, his sea-blue eyes fixed intrepidly on the object of
his affections, who regarded him threateningly.

“Can’t be any Annie second,” he returned quietly.

“Now I think you make a great mistake, Captain Salter,” said Mrs.
Bruce, with vigor. “For your own welfare I feel you ought to keep that
name. The summer people have been attached to the Gentle Annie so long,
and had such confidence in her.”

Hiram nodded; but Mrs. Bruce could not catch his fixed eye as she
wished, to emphasize her point.

“They were right,” he answered. “She was a good craft.”

“Confidence in her and you too, I should have said, of course,” went on
the lady.

“Yes, we sort o’ went together, pretty comfortable; but—well, I’ve lost
her.”

“Yes, but there’s a good-will goes with the name. You make a great
mistake not to keep it. Captain Salter and the Gentle Annie; people
have said it so many years and had all their sails and their picnics
and clambakes with you, it’s like throwing away capital for you to take
a new name for your boat. Now if you haven’t already had it put on—”

“I have.”

Hiram’s eyes were steady, and his lady-love was nervously fighting with
the jealous wind for her cheese-cloth headdress, her face apparently
flushed by the effort, and her eyes defiant.

“What have you named her?” asked Mrs. Bruce, in disapproval.

“The Clever Betsy.”

“I don’t like it, emphatically. It seems very strange, and it will to
everybody.”

“Yes, at first,” rejoined Hiram imperturbably, “but you can get used
to anything. It used to be Captain Salter and the Gentle Annie; but in
future it’s goin’ to be Captain Salter and the Clever Betsy; and after
a while that’s goin’ to seem just as natural as the other.”

The speaker continued to rest his gaze on the narrow reddened
countenance, which looked back furiously.

Mrs. Bruce attributed his averted face to shyness, but the direction of
his glance gave her an idea.

“Well, I’m sure, Betsy, _you_ should be pleased,” she remarked. “One
might think the boat was named for you.”

“Betsy wasn’t ever clever to me,” said Hiram calmly. “She began
spellin’ me down at school here when we were children, and she’s ben
spellin’ me down ever since.”

Mrs. Bruce looked curiously at the frowning countenance of the capable
woman who had meant so much in her husband’s household.

“Just like a snapdragon always,” went on Hiram slowly; “touch her and
she’d fly all to pieces; and I guess you put on the finishin’ touch,
takin’ her to Europe, Mrs. Bruce. She’s so toploftical to-day that she
won’t scarcely speak to me.”

“Betsy was a good traveler; I wouldn’t ask a better,” said Mrs. Bruce
absently. The subject of the boat’s name rankled. Her desire to coerce
humanity for its own good was like a fire always laid and ready to be
kindled, and Hiram had applied the match.

“What do _you_ think of the new name, Betsy? Don’t you think your old
friend would have done better to stick to the Gentle Annie?”

“That’s exactly what I think,” was the explosive response. “That’s the
only name that’ll ever be connected with Cap’n Salter in this world,
and he’d better make the most of it. Hiram, if you’re perishin’ to wear
a trail I’ll make you one out o’ paper-cambric. Give me my rug. I want
to go in the house.”

Salter motioned toward the speaker with his head, then met Mrs. Bruce’s
eyes.

“You heard?” he said. “That’s what I say. Snappy, snappy.”

“I’m very sorry,” said Mrs. Bruce impressively, “that it’s painted on.
It’s a bad idea and won’t bring you luck.”

“Well now, we’ll see,” rejoined Hiram. “I feel just the other way
round. I think it’s a good idea and will bring me luck. Folks’ll begin
to say Cap’n Salter and the Clever Betsy, Cap’n Salter and the Clever
Betsy, and first news you know there’ll be—”

He paused. Lightnings would have shot from Betsy Foster’s eyes had they
been able to express all she felt; but the audacity of his look and
manner conveyed a totally new idea to Mrs. Bruce.

“I wish you’d both come out with me this afternoon,” he went on. “I’ll
show you just what a good, reliable, faithful craft I’ve got. A bit
unsteady sometimes, mebbe, but that’s only because she’s smart and
sassy; she always comes up to the mark in an emergency, and never goes
back on her skipper. She’s fast, too, and—”

“Sailin’!” interrupted Betsy, unable to endure another moment. “I
guess if you saw the inside o’ that cottage you wouldn’t talk to me
about sailin’. If you’re so fond of peacockin’ with that rug, I won’t
deprive you of it. You can leave it on the step when you get through.”

Mrs. Bruce’s idea received confirmation by Betsy’s manner and her
precipitate departure up the garden-path, and she looked at Hiram
Salter blankly. Betsy Foster was the prop of her household. She was
the property of the Bruce family. Did this man suppose for one moment
that just because they had gone to school together, he could remove her
from her useful position? What a selfish, impossible thought! Of course
the man wasn’t in love with Betsy. Nobody could be in love with such a
severely plain creature; and yet that fancy of the new boat and the new
name! It argued a plan of wooing which had some poetry in it.

Here was an affair which Mrs. Bruce would certainly stop with a high
hand if there were any real threat in it; but fortunately Betsy would
consider it as unthinkable as she herself. If ever displeasure was writ
large all over a woman it had been evident in Betsy Foster throughout
the interview.

After a short reflective silence during which, both hands behind him,
her companion waved the rug in gentle ripples, and met her gaze with an
undisturbed smile, she spoke.

“Do take my advice still, Captain Salter,” she said. “Wipe out the
Clever Betsy and go back to the Gentle Annie.”



CHAPTER II

MISTRESS AND MAID


MRS. BRUCE remained with the captain at the gate for fifteen minutes
longer before she re-entered the house. Hiram came as far as the
door with her and laid the rug inside. He caught a glimpse of Betsy,
stormily dusting and polishing in the living-room, but contented
himself with touching his cap to Mrs. Bruce, and disappearing down the
garden path.

That lady looked sharply at her factotum as she entered the room.
Mankind loves a lover undoubtedly, as a rule; but there are exceptions.
Mrs. Bruce decidedly did not love anybody who proposed to deprive her
of her right hand: cook, waitress, lady’s maid, housekeeper, either
of which posts Betsy was capable of filling in the defection of the
regular incumbent.

Betsy was a none-such, and Mrs. Bruce knew it sufficiently well to have
swallowed her wrath on many previous occasions when her strong will
had collided with that of her handmaid. During her husband’s lifetime
Mrs. Bruce had discharged the New England woman several times in her
most magnificent manner; but the ebullition had not been noticed by
Betsy, who pursued the even tenor of her way as one who had more
important matters to think of. Since Mr. Bruce’s death his widow had
not proceeded to such lengths, some intuition perhaps warning her that
the spiritual cable which held the none-such to her service had lost
its strongest strands and would not stand a strain.

She looked at the faithful woman now with a new curiosity. Mankind
loves a lover. Yes, of course; but Betsy couldn’t have a lover! The
cheese-cloth binding the hair away from the high sallow forehead,
taken in connection with the prominent thin nose and retreating
chin, presented the class of profile which explains the curious
human semblance taken on by a walnut when similarly coiffed. No—that
designing sailor was tired of living alone. He wanted a housekeeper and
a cook. How did he dare! Quite a blaze of indignation mounted in the
breast of Betsy’s fortunate owner. What a blessed thing that Betsy was
the sort of woman who could see into a millstone and could be trusted
to flout her deceitful wooer to the end. Mrs. Bruce spoke with gracious
playfulness.

“You never told me Captain Salter was a beau of yours, Betsy.”

The other did not cease to beat up the cushions of the wicker chairs.

“I don’t know as I ever did take the time to reg’larly sit down and
give you my history, Mrs. Bruce,” was the reply.

And that lady took a few moments to reflect upon the spirit of the
crisp words, finally deciding to veer away from the subject.

“Now what can I do to help you, Betsy? I know you want everything spick
and span before that cook comes to-morrow.”

Betsy looked up.

“I’ve laid the silver out there on the dining-room table. You might
clean it. Here, let me put this apron on you.” And abruptly abandoning
the cushions, the speaker hurried into the dining-room, divided from
the living-room only by an imaginary line, and seizing an enveloping
gingham apron, concealed Mrs. Bruce’s trim China silk from head to foot.

The mistress sat down at the table and opened the silver-polish, and
Betsy returned to her work.

“I’ve been asking Captain Salter about the neighbors, and especially
about my little protégée.”

“Which one? Oh, you mean Mrs. Pogram’s girl!”

“Yes, Rosalie Vincent. With that name and her pretty face and graceful
figure, it did seem too bad that she shouldn’t have her chance. I
remember, though, you didn’t altogether approve of my sending her away
from washing Mrs. Pogram’s dishes.”

“Washin’ Mrs. Pogram’s dishes was real safe,” returned Betsy. “Rosalie
was pretty, and poor, and young; and that’s a combination that had
better stay right in the home village under some good woman’s wing.
Mrs. Pogram’s a clever soul, though some like putty. If she hadn’t
been, she wouldn’t have spared Rosalie, I s’pose.”

“Oh, it wasn’t for long,” replied Mrs. Bruce. “I thought it only fair
that the child should have one season’s course in English, with such
a yearning as she had after poetry and all things poetical. Such a
doom as it seemed to be to peel Mrs. Pogram’s vegetables and wash her
dishes. I can always discern an artist,” added Mrs. Bruce complacently,
“even in the most unlikely places; and that girl had a touch of the
divine fire. I recognized it that day when she recited the bit of
Browning up here.”

Betsy’s eyes happening to fall on the silver-polish, she remarked dryly.

“Well, whitin’ ’s safer than Brownin’ for her sort, and I thought she
was contented enough.”

Betsy’s two-year-old disapproval of this one of her mistress’s
undertakings revived. Education was a good thing, without doubt, but
according to Betsy’s judgment it was best, under circumstances of such
dependence as existed with Mrs. Pogram’s pretty adopted child, to let
well enough alone. Mrs. Pogram’s principal motive in giving the girl a
home had been the material help she could render, and it was a doubtful
experiment to send her to the new environment of the city, and the
novel companionship of her fellow students, unless her benefactress
intended to prolong her watch over the young girl’s fortunes; and
this Betsy knew would not be the case; for long before Rosalie’s term
of study was ended, Mrs. Bruce’s energies would be directed toward
superintending the affairs of somebody else. The girl’s grateful
letters had begun to be ignored some time before Mrs. Bruce joined her
adored boy in Europe; and it is doubtful when she would have thought
again of Rosalie Vincent, had she not returned to the village where the
young girl had attracted her fleeting fancy.

“I gave her the wings to soar,” she now added virtuously, “and I
inquired of Captain Salter if she had used them. I found his report
quite unsatisfactory.”

“Why, where is Rosalie?” asked Betsy quickly, stopping her labors in
the interest of her query.

“Captain Salter wasn’t sure. He said he supposed Mrs. Pogram knew, but
there had been some recent quarrel with a brother of Mrs. Pogram’s and
it had ended in Rosalie’s going away.”

“Soarin’, perhaps,” remarked Betsy dryly, grasping the legs of an
unoffending table and giving it vicious tweaks with the dust-cloth.
“Just as well folks shouldn’t be given wings sometimes, in my opinion.
When a bird’s got plumage like Rosalie’s, it’d better stick to the
long grass. The world’s just full o’ folks that if they catch sight o’
the brightness never rest till they get a shot at it and drag it down.”

“Was she so pretty? Let’s see, was she dark or light? Oh, I remember
her hair was blonde.”

Betsy gave one look at her employer. It was entirely characteristic
that two years should have sunk the village girl’s memory in a haze.

Mrs. Bruce sighed and began to polish another fork. “It seldom pays
to try to help people,” she said. “I distinctly remember the girl had
talent, and I thought she might get a position in one of the Portland
schools if she had a little training and applied herself.”

“Her letters to you certainly sounded as if she was workin’ her best.”

“Did they?” vaguely. “Perhaps they did. Well, very likely she has gone
to take a position then.”

“Not in summer time, I guess,” remarked Betsy.

“I don’t seem to remember any brother of Mrs. Pogram’s,” said Mrs.
Bruce plaintively.

“Humph! You’ve probably bought ribbons of him lots o’ times. He sells
’em up in Portland, and I’ll bet it’s a strain on him every time he
measures off over thirty-five and a half inches for a yard. Brown’s his
name. Loomis Brown; and it would seem more fittin’ if ’twas Lucy. Such
a hen-betty I never saw in all my days. I wonder if it’s possible he
took to shinin’ up to Rosalie.”

“Oh, he’s a bachelor?”

“Law, yes. He wouldn’t want to pay for a marriage license, but p’raps
he took such a shine to Rosalie as she grew older that it spurred him
on to the extravagance. No tellin’. If that’s the case, no wonder she
took wings.”

“It’s very tiresome,” said Mrs. Bruce, “the way girls will marry after
one has done one’s best for them.”

“Yes, Mrs. Bruce. The next time you take a fancy to a village girl,
you give her a course in cookin’ instead of English. She can jaw her
husband all right without any teachin’; but it takes trainin’ to make
good bread.”

Mrs. Bruce sighed leniently. “That is your point of view, naturally,”
she said. “You could hardly be expected to have that divining rod which
recognizes the artistic. Strange how much better I remember that girl’s
gift and her unstudied gestures than I do her face.”

Betsy paused long enough in her undertakings to pull up the bib of her
mistress’s apron, which had slipped, endangering the pretty silk gown.
There was a permanent line in Betsy’s forehead, which might have been
named “Mrs. Bruce the second”; but she fastened the apron as carefully
now as she did all things pertaining to that lady’s welfare, and made
no reply to the reflection upon her æsthetic capabilities. Betsy would
not have known the meaning of the word æsthetic, but she would have
declared unhesitatingly that if it characterized Mrs. Bruce she was
willing not to have it describe herself. Not that she had a dislike
of her mistress. She took her as she found her. Mr. Bruce had been
attached to her, and Betsy’s duty was to the bearer of his name. She
seldom contended with her mistress, nor had any argument. She said to
herself simply that it was hard to teach an old dog new tricks; and
while it might seem a trifle rough to mention an old dog in connection
with a lady of Mrs. Bruce’s attractive appearance, the sense of the
axiom was extremely applicable, since Mrs. Bruce could become no more
set in all essentials if she lived to be a hundred.

Betsy very rightly realizing that avoidable discord was foolishness,
lived her philosophy, and contented herself with mental reservations
which would have astonished her complacent mistress mightily.

On the evening, twelve years ago, when Mr. Bruce announced to his
housekeeper his impending marriage, she shouldered this cross
resolutely.

He had been a man of few words, and on this occasion he said simply to
the woman who had seen his happiness with the bride of his youth, “I
find myself very lonely, Betsy. I am going to marry Miss Flushing.”

“Very well, sir,” she replied quietly, though her heart leaped to her
throat and her thoughts flew to the twelve-year-old boy who was then at
home on his vacation. “Have you told Mr. Irving, sir?”

She remembered the father’s face as he replied, “Yes. That boy, Betsy,
is a manly little chap. Miss Flushing is devoted to him and has gained
his affection already; but—it was a blow to him. I saw it. A surprise,
a great surprise.”

Betsy remembered to this day how she bit her tongue to keep it from
speaking.

“He talked to me though,” the father had continued, “more like one man
to another than like a child; but after being very civil about it, he
announced that I mustn’t expect him to call her mother, because he
should not be able to.”

Betsy had nodded. “Mr. Irving had a mother out of the ordinary, Mr.
Bruce,” she replied very quietly, but with the hot blood pressing in
her head; then she went up decorously to her room, closed the door, and
indulged in one storm of weeping; after which she shouldered the cross
above mentioned, which like all crosses heartily borne, lightened as
the years went on.

One thing was certain. Greater devotion was never displayed by a
stepmother; and if Irving Bruce had mental reservations, too, he did
not divulge them to the faithful woman who was part of his earliest
remembrance.



CHAPTER III

IRVING BRUCE


MRS. BRUCE had retired from her labors, but a vigorous cleansing
process was still going on in the cottage, when a man’s footsteps again
sounded on the garden-path. Some one set a suit-case down on the porch,
and then appeared in the doorway for a moment of inspection.

Betsy started at sight of the tall, gray-clad apparition.

“Mr. Irving!” she ejaculated, and the transfiguring expression which
crossed her face gave the key at once to her loyalty. “Go ’way from
here, we ain’t a bit ready for you!” she said severely.

He strode forward and gently shook the speaker’s angular shoulders
instead of her busy hands.

“Great that I could get here so soon,” he returned, continuing to rest
his hands on her shoulders, while she looked up into the eyes set
generously apart under level brows.

“He ain’t any job lot,” she thought for the hundredth time, “he’s a
masterpiece.” But all the time she was trying to frown.

“We ain’t ready for you,” she repeated. “The cook hasn’t come.”

“Bully!” ejaculated the unwelcome one. “It’s the aim of my existence to
catch you where there isn’t any cook. Are the mackerel running?”

“You’ll have to ask Cap’n Salter or some other lazy coot about that.
Mackerel running! Humph! My own running has been all I could attend to
the last two days. Mrs. Pogram’s supposed to look after the cottage—air
it and so on; but she always was slower’n molasses and I s’pose she
don’t get any younger nor spryer as the years go on. I’ve found mildew,
yes, I have, _mildew_, in a number o’ places.”

The young man smiled, dropped his hands, and sauntered to a window
overlooking the tumbling blue.

“She has what’s-her-name there, that girl she adopted,” he responded
carelessly. “Why doesn’t she shift such duties upon her?”

“Oh, you remember Rosalie, do you?” asked Betsy dryly, as she resumed
her work.

“To be sure. That was her name. Pretty name. Pretty girl. A real
village beauty.”

“Yes,” said Betsy. “You very likely remember Mrs. Bruce took a lot of
interest in her. Had her here to speak poetry one day.”

“Oh, I remember her very well,” returned the young man. “I don’t recall
the poetry though. So that was her forte. Apt to interfere with opening
up and airing out other people’s cottages, I suppose.”

“Yes, if it’s encouraged. Hers was encouraged.”

Betsy’s lips snapped together and her tone caused her companion to
glance around at her over his shoulder.

“Mildew sort of got on your nerves, Betsy?” he asked, amused. “Don’t
worry. There’s a free-for-all chemistry here that will fix it up in no
time. Drop that duster and come and look at the ocean. It will steady
you.”

“Steady me!” Betsy gave a derisive grunt. “Tell that to the marines.
I’ve had experience of its steadiness the last month, haven’t I?”

Irving laughed at certain memories of his companion’s walnut profile,
with lips pursed in the throes of endurance.

“You aren’t a star sailor, are you?” he returned.

“I learned the meanin’ o’ one phrase o’ Scripture; learned it for life.
‘Unstable as water.’ It fits some folks just splendid and you couldn’t
say anything worse about ’em. My! will I ever forget tryin’ to wait on
Mrs. Bruce and fix my hair in that stateroom! Never got my arms up that
there didn’t come a lurch and knock my elbow against the woodwork fit
to break the skin.”

“You ought to be better upholstered, Betsy,” said Irving.

“And varnish!” she continued, with reminiscent loathing. “Shall I ever
be able to use varnish again!”

“Joy!” exclaimed Irving. “Then I’m not in any danger of being
shellacked! I never felt certain in childhood’s happy hour that keeping
me surgically clean would wholly satisfy you.”

“No, sir,” said Betsy warmly, “the ocean won’t get me to look at it
this summer. All diamonds, and blue sparkles, and white feathers, just
as if butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth; then when it gets you in its
clutches, bangs you around from pillar to post and nearly blows the
hair off your head. I know its tricks now. It’ll never deceive _me_
again.”

Irving smiled out at the maligned billows. “Looks pretty good to me,”
he returned. “Wonder what I shall do about a boat. Has Mrs. Bruce said
any more about the Yellowstone?”

“Yes, spoke of it this mornin’ to Cap’n Salter.”

“Oh, has she been out with Hiram already?”

“No, he was lally-gaggin’ around here for a while.”

“How is old Hiram?” The question was affectionate.

Betsy pushed an upturned rug under a table-leg.

“Oh, about as usual, I guess. Gets more like himself every year, same
as we all do.”

“Well, he couldn’t do better. He’s a good sort.” Irving smiled at some
memory. “I must have made that man’s life a burden. What a lot of
patience he had! But when the end was reached, I can feel that hand of
his come down on me, big as a ham, and toss me away as if I’d been a
cunner he was throwing back. Mrs. Salter, too. Talk about salt of the
earth! I suppose that must have been a stock Fairport pun during her
life. Many a time she begged me off. The gentle Annie! I should think
so. Let’s see. How long has she been gone?”

“Five years.”

“And the captain has never taken notice since, has he?”

“Don’t ask _me_,” was the curt response; and a table was whisked
completely around with a celerity which must have given it vertigo.

“Betsy! Betsy!” It was a cautious call which came quietly from the
invisible.

Betsy straightened herself and moved toward it, and the silent moment
was followed by the swift entrance of Mrs. Bruce.

“My _dear_ boy!” she exclaimed, aggrieved. “I thought I heard a man’s
voice. How long have you been here? Betsy, why didn’t you tell me!”

The young man’s eyes were kind as he turned and came to meet the
speaker, and his manner seemed very quiet in contrast to her alert,
fussy personality and the froufrou of her taffetas.

“Good-morning, Madama,” he said, returning her nervous embrace lightly.
“I’ve asked Betsy so many questions since I broke in here, that she
couldn’t in civility leave me.”

Betsy returned to her labors, deaf to her mistress’s remarks.
She knew that Mrs. Bruce had a chronic objection to her having a
tête-à-tête, however short, with Irving. It was as if the widow were
jealous of the twelve years’ advantage which her maid had over her;
and notwithstanding Betsy’s humble position, her mistress constantly
imagined that they referred, when together, to events which she had
not shared, and spoke on subjects which would be dropped upon her
appearance.

The newcomer slipped her hand through the young man’s arm, and moved
with him as he returned to the window.

“Why didn’t you telegraph? How did you happen to come so soon?”

“Oh, I just saw that the bank was run by a lot of egoists who supposed
that they could manage it without me, just as they have for thirty
years, so I thought I would make the most of this last summer of their
self-satisfaction, and take all that was coming to me, before I get
into the harness.”

“Very wise; and I hope when you do get into harness you’ll never make
such a slave of yourself as your dear father did.”

“You never can tell. I rather dread my own proclivities. If I should
ever work as hard as I’ve played, the business world is going to be
jarred when I leap into it.”

Mrs. Bruce hung fondly on his arm, rejoicing in the hard muscle she
felt through his light sleeve.

“Well,” she said, “I’m glad you could come. There is such a wonderful
feeling of freedom in this restful spot. Sometimes,” pensively, “I
think the greatest blessing we have in life is personal freedom. I
suffocate without it, and it is astonishing how difficult it is to get,
in the ordinary affairs of life.” Then, with sudden attention, “What
makes you wear that tie with that suit? I don’t like it at all, anyway.
That isn’t one that I gave you.”

The young man’s hand mechanically sought his throat. “No, Madama,” he
admitted, still looking absently from the window.

“I should think, Irving, as many neckties as I pick out for you, you
might wear one of them when you’re going to be with me.”

“But I can’t bear to wear your neckties,” he returned gently, “they’re
so decorative in my room. To tie them all up and bury them under a
collar and vest would be a shame. I hang them on my tie-rack, where
they can be admired morning, noon, and night. You know I keep trying to
curb your extravagance in that line. You’ll impoverish yourself so that
you can’t wear silk stockings if you go on like this. Every few days a
new tie to go on the rack.”

“Nonsense,” returned Mrs. Bruce curtly. “If I didn’t have such good
taste, of course I shouldn’t venture to buy ties for a man; but even as
a girl I was considered to have the most perfect taste. I was famous
for it, and I’m sure, Irving, I’ve tried to instill it into you.”

“You have, Madama,” he returned soothingly, “and I think I’m a credit
to you. Now come, I’m prepared to maintain that I’ve caught the
infection, and that my taste is perfect, too.” He stifled a yawn. “To
prove it, I’ll throw down the bone of contention, collar and all, and
get into a sweater. I’m going to hunt up Hiram before lunch and swap
lies for a spell.”

So speaking the young man stepped out on the porch, picked up his
suit-case, and walked through the spreading cottage until he came
to his room, where Betsy was whisking things into readiness for his
occupancy.

“There! Do you smell?” she asked, sniffing disapprovingly; “just like a
cellar?”

“No,” he returned plaintively, “I don’t think I do.”

“I didn’t say do _you_; I say, don’t _it_,” snapped Betsy, in no mood
for badinage. “If you hadn’t come so soon, I’d have had it aired out.
I’d like to shake Mrs. Pogram till her teeth chatter.”

Irving set down his suit-case.

“As I remember, Mrs. Pogram’s teeth aren’t calculated to chatter. They
don’t—what is the technical term now?”

Betsy grunted. “I do feel ashamed to have you come into such a
comfortless place, Mr. Irving.”

“I’d rather be here, Betsy, even if I have to wear a clothes-pin on
my nose while unmaking my toilet. I can sleep on the porch, you know.
You think—eh, Betsy, you think there’s no use trying to side-step the
Yellowstone?”

“We’re as good as there,” returned Betsy sententiously. “Mrs. Bruce
says that when once you get into that bank, she might as well count on
the wind that blows as you taking a vacation at any stated time; and
you know it’s got to be a stated time for the Yellowstone.”

Irving sighed.

“I hope we know our place, Betsy,” he returned.



CHAPTER IV

MRS. POGRAM CONFIDES


HALF an hour afterward Mrs. Pogram, unconscious of Miss Foster’s
yearning to administer to her portly person a vigorous movement cure,
walked leisurely up the village street. From one hand depended a long
slender package which she held away from her black shawl by a string
loop around her forefinger.

A merry whistling attracted her, and she perceived coming along the
walk, at a swinging gait, a bareheaded young man in a sweater. In a few
days the streets of the village would be largely populated by girls and
men, all with an aversion to hats and sleeves. Mrs. Pogram was familiar
with the type, and noted that this care-free person was an advance
guard proving that the summer was here.

She eyed him, however, with lack-lustre eyes until he stopped suddenly
before her.

“You don’t know me,” he said, taking his hands out of his pockets.

The corners of Mrs. Pogram’s lips drew down and her chin drew in.

“Why, Irvin’ Bruce, it’s you!” she declared. “We haven’t seen you in
these parts for so long I didn’t know but you’d given up Fairport.”

“Couldn’t do that, Mrs. Pogram. You know how a man always returns to
the scene of his crimes.”

Mrs. Pogram again drew down the corners of her mouth and gave her
gingerly-held package a shake.

“This pesky fish never will be done drippin’,” she remarked.

“Been fishing?” asked her companion.

“Yes. I go fishin’ on the wharf. It’s cheaper than to the market and
the walk does me good.”

“You look well.”

“I ain’t well. It’s kind o’ hard for me to get around, and I miss
Rosalie. She’s gone off.” Mrs. Pogram’s voice took a whining note, and
she indulged in a sniff of self-pity. “I donno as you ever saw Rosalie?”

“Oh yes, I’ve seen her.”

“The way I come to take her, I was gettin’ along in years and she was
left alone in the world. She wanted a home and I wanted young hands
and feet, so we’d ’a’ got along real comfortable if it hadn’t been for
Loomis; and I’ve been more like a mother than a sister to Loomis,
bein’ so much older, and I do think he might have let me have a little
comfort without naggin’ me all the time.”

“Has he left Portland and come here to live with you?”

“Oh no, he’s still in Chatham’s store, but he can run down over Sunday
any time, you know, and ever since Rosalie came he’s done so a great
deal.”

“What could you expect?” returned Irving. “I remember her.”

“Hey? Oh, yes, Loomis was awful pleased with her at first, but she
didn’t seem to take much of a fancy to him. Kinder laughed at him.
Loomis _is_ sort o’ fussy. Anyway, she made him mad one day, and from
that on he didn’t give me any peace.”

Mrs. Pogram sniffed again and gave her lachrymose package another shake
so that its tears bedewed the walk as if she were weeping vicariously.

“He made you send the girl away?” asked Irving quickly, a line coming
in his forehead at the remembrance of the mincing young clerk who had
been the natural victim of many a prank of his own boyhood.

“Not _made_ me, exactly,” returned Mrs. Pogram, “but Rosalie got so she
wouldn’t stand it any longer. You see,” her complaining tone altering
to one of some complacence, “though I ain’t any millionairess, my
estate ain’t exactly to be sneezed at. The old Pogram mahogany and the
silver that was my mother’s are worth considerable; and Loomis was
on pins for fear I’d give some of ’em to Rosalie. I give her a spoon
once—it was real thin, Irvin’, not worth much of anything in money,
but it was a time when Rosalie’d taken care of me through a fever and
I felt to give her somethin’; and law, from the way Loomis took on
you’d ’a’ thought I’d made him a poor man for the rest of his life.
Honestly I was ashamed of him; and I kep’ his actions away from Rosalie
as much as I could; but she’s smart, and she saw she’d gained Loomis’s
enmity by laughin’ at him, and saw that he was gettin’ kinder jealous
of her about the things; and if she would only have been quiet, and
spoken him fair, and we both kept our own counsel, I could have slipped
many a little thing to her and he’d never ’a’ known the difference.
Things weren’t ever the same after your mother gave her that winter at
Lambeth. She never laughed at Loomis till after that, and then came my
sickness and I gave her the spoon, and from that time there wa’n’t ever
any peace.”

The line in Irving’s forehead came again. “Then you don’t think Mrs.
Bruce’s gift to Rosalie was an advantage.”

“Well, I was willin’ to spare her for her own good, for I could see
what her longings were, and felt I hadn’t ought to stand in her way.
Loomis favored it because I think ’twas his idea then that he and
Rosalie would both come into the Brown-Pogram estate one o’ these days.”

Irving lifted a hand to conceal some ebullition which escaped him at
the thought of the ramshackle ancestral halls of the Pograms.

“As I say,” continued Mrs. Pogram, “if Rosalie could have worked with
me we’d ha’ kep’ Loomis smoothed down; but after the spoon trouble
that young one acted like all possessed. Every time Loomis came she’d
throw out remarks to scare him. ‘Oh, Auntie Pogram,’ she’d say, ‘just
look how exactly the right height this work-table is for me to set
by. It’s the real stuff this wood is;’ and then she’d gaze at it
kinder thoughtful. ‘If this was polished up, that grain would come
out beautiful.’ Then there is a silver slop-bowl and creamer that was
my mother’s. ‘Oh, Auntie Pogram,’ she’d say, and just clasp her hands
and gaze at ’em like they was magnets and she a needle. ‘How easy it
is, after all, to tell the real antiquities from the made-up ones,’
she’d say. ‘How I do love that colonial pattern!’ And all the time
Loomis would fidget and run his fingers through his hair and get red
in the face. After he’d go I’d talk to her, but she wouldn’t do a
thing but laugh till the tears come in her eyes.” Mrs. Pogram nodded
significantly. “But the day came when there was more tears and not so
much laugh. Loomis got so he come down every Saturday night. He made a
list of all the silver and he’d count ’em out, forks and spoons, every
time he came. One Sunday night he said something real downright mean
to Rosalie about beggars not bein’ choosers. I spoke up for the girl
then and there. I said Rosalie had earned everything she’d had from
me and earned it fully. I can see her now standin’ there, and the way
her nostrils opened when she breathed. I don’t think I ever saw her as
good-lookin’ as she was that minute. Her light hair was just fluffin’
out like a cloud, and her blue eyes turned nearly black, and her lips
was bit in between her teeth till she scared me the way she looked at
Loomis. Then she went out o’ the room without a word. The next mornin’
she didn’t get up at half-past four to get Loomis’s breakfast, the way
she had to when he stayed Sunday nights. I hadn’t thought she would,
and I got up in my double-gown and found him drinkin’ some cold milk,
and growlin’. Loomis likes his coffee. I told him ’twas his own fault,
and he told me to go to bed and stay there,—’twas all I was fit for.”
Mrs. Pogram sniffed again and shook the fish mechanically.

“I didn’t hear any sound in Rosalie’s room when Loomis slammed the
front door; so after a spell I went in to find her and try to make
peace, but—” the speaker shook her head—“there wa’n’t any Rosalie. Her
bed was made up neat and there was a note on her table. ‘I love you,
dear Auntie Pogram, but I can’t stand it any longer. Don’t worry about
me. If I’m in any trouble I promise to write to you.’”

Here, the fish not seeming equal to the occasion, Mrs. Pogram dabbed
some tears from her own eyes.

“How long ago was this?” asked Irving.

“Only a few weeks, and I haven’t heard another word.”

“Your brother is satisfied, I suppose?”

“Well, he ain’t real comfortable, ’cause he knows I don’t mean to live
and work all alone. I ain’t fit to; and he’s afraid now I’ll pay wages
that’ll be a tax on the estate.”

Irving muttered something under his breath.

“Hey?” inquired his companion plaintively.

“I’m sorry for all this, Mrs. Pogram. You must tell Betsy about it. Her
head is full of sensible ideas. Perhaps she can help you.”

“I’d like to see her,” returned the other mournfully. “How are you all?”

“All well.”

“You’ve been to Europe. Now I s’pose you’ll settle down a spell.”

“Alas, Mrs. Bruce decrees otherwise. We’re off for the Yellowstone as
soon as we can unpack and pack again.”

“I hear it’s real sightly out there,” returned Mrs. Pogram, without
enthusiasm. “I’ll have to tell Betsy to get some one else to look
after the cottage, though; I ain’t fit to hist mattresses.” Another
sniff. “Good-mornin’, Irvin’, I’m real glad I met you. Remember me to
the folks.”



CHAPTER V

ROSALIE VINCENT


A throng of pilgrims to the Yellowstone was emptying out of the cars
upon the platform at Gardiner. The spectacular six-horse coaches were
in waiting, and the customary competition and struggle for the outside
seats began. Mrs. Bruce was wild-eyed in her determination to sit near
the driver, and Irving turned to Betsy, who spoke promptly:—

“Never mind me, Mr. Irving. Just go up top with Mrs. Bruce. I’ll go
inside.”

Which plan was accordingly carried out; and Mrs. Bruce was ensconced
to her satisfaction where she could ask questions alternately of the
driver and her son.

The jingling, gay teams started, and wound up the ascending road under
a vast sky above the encircling hills and mountains. As they passed the
Eagle’s Nest Mrs. Bruce had her first qualm as to Betsy. Upon being
told that the high-placed bundle of sticks perched on a cliff was
indeed the domicile of the king of birds, she exclaimed:—

“Oh, Irving, couldn’t you stoop over and call down to Betsy to put
her head out? That is such a purely American sight, and Betsy is so
American!”

But Irving, objecting to this contortion, diverted his companion’s
attention.

As for Betsy, she preferred the seclusion from the sight of the six
horses so dexterously tooled along the road, and felt that she saw all
the scenery she cared for despite the roof of the stage. Miss Foster
must have had an excellent conscience; she always accepted with such
contentment her own society.

There was a chatter of voices in her ears from the other occupants of
the stage, but her eyes rested absently on hillside and waterfall while
she thought of Fairport and the deserted cottage whose condition was
still far from satisfying her. Her thoughts roved, too, as they often
did, to Rosalie Vincent. What was the girl doing, out in the world
unprotected?

It seemed but a short time to Betsy before the coach swung around the
circle in front of the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, and the passengers
poured from the vehicle, watched by other crowds on the hotel piazza,
who half resented the arrival of newcomers, for at this season food
and beds were at a premium.

Irving had looked out for the comfort of his party, and Mrs. Bruce’s
room satisfied her. They spent the day in the customary visits to
beautiful terraces of heavenly tints built by boiling-hot scanty
waterfalls, and at night laid them down to slumber well contented.

In a remote room of the hotel a young girl, after her evening’s
experience of standing upon her feet long hours, waiting upon hungry
hordes of sightseers, was hastening to get ready for her night’s rest,
when the handle of her door was turned, and then as if some one outside
was impatient of its resistance, it was shaken with energy.

The half-disrobed occupant of the room ran to hold the door.

“Who’s there?” she demanded.

A sharp girlish voice replied imperatively, “It’s me! Open the door
quick!”

“You’ve made a mistake in the room,” returned the girl inside. “This is
mine.”

“Is it, indeed!” shrilly. “Well, I guess if you don’t open this door
pretty quick, I’ll have you sent flying!”

At which threat in the sharp voice, the girl inside opened the door
and viewed in astonishment the stormy-eyed young person who entered,
beginning to pull out hairpins from her lofty pompadour as she came.
“What did you think you were? A lay-over?” she demanded scornfully.

The other girl, her fair hair falling in ripples about her bare neck
and arms, closed the door and regarded the newcomer with wide eyes.

“Is it your room, too?” she asked.

“Yes, it is,” snapped the other, “and I hope it won’t be any more
disagreeable for you than it is for me.”

“Oh—oh—of course not,” returned the fair one. “I only thought it was so
small—and the bed is so narrow—and I didn’t know—”

“Well,” returned the other, somewhat mollified, and with a yawn, “I
saw down in the dining-room to-night that you were a green-horn. We’re
mighty lucky not to be in a bigger room with half-a-dozen girls. My
name’s Miss Hickey. What’s yours?”

“Rosalie Vincent,” responded the fair one, still standing rooted to
her place while Miss Hickey removed a mammoth rat from her hair, and
eclipsed with it one side of the wash-stand, which was dresser as well.

“Better get to bed, Miss Vincent. You’ll have plenty of chances to
stare at me, and you look as tired as I feel. I stayed down to help the
pearl-divers awhile to-night.”

“Pearl-divers?” echoed Rosalie.

“Yes. Dish-washers, Greenie. I’m a heaver like yourself; but we all
have to turn in and help each other, once in a while. This is my third
season. My first I waited on the sagebrushers.”

“Who are they?” asked Rosalie, overawed by so much sophistication.

“Campers; but I like the hotels best. The dudes are more my style.”

“What did you call me a few minutes ago? A lay-over?” asked Rosalie.

“Yes, those are the swells that stay more than one night. They’re the
princes of the Yellowstone and they have to pay like princes, too. All
their dishes washed separately, separate food, separate everything. I
thought you must think you were one to have a room all to yourself.”

Miss Hickey here completed her hasty night-toilet and jumped into bed.
“Come along, child. I’ll make myself small against the wall.”

“Indeed, I’m not a lay-over,” said Rosalie, now hastening to follow the
other’s example. “I’m to be sent on with the crowd to-morrow.”

“So am I,” returned the other, with nasal sleepiness; “and I’m darned
sorry, too. I like the swatties here better than at any post.”

“Swatties?” echoed Rosalie helplessly.

“Soldiers, Greenie,” drawled Miss Hickey. “You’ll see a lot more of ’em
before you see less. Now I ain’t goin’ to say another word to-night.”

And Miss Hickey kept her word. Her sleep was as energetic as her
waking; and Rosalie listened to her heavy breathing and stared
wide-eyed into the darkness.

She had recognized the Bruce party at the evening meal. She had not
been obliged to wait on them, and knew herself unobserved. But the
discovery had excited her very much. Mrs. Bruce had been right when she
said that Rosalie’s was the artistic temperament. The independence,
caution, and reserve of the New Englander were not her characteristics.
She longed for companionship and some one with whom to sympathize
in the present predicament; for predicament she felt it to be. How
extraordinary that this should be the summer chosen by the Bruces for
their visit to the National Park.

She thought of the irreverent punctuation which made a well-known
quotation read: “There is a divinity which shapes our ends rough, hew
them as we may.”

She had believed Mrs. Bruce to be in Europe, and though that lady’s
natural preoccupation there explained the ignoring of her protégée’s
painstaking letters, it did not excuse it, or leave Rosalie the
slightest hope that her benefactress continued to feel an interest in
her. The fact was a hurt to the grateful girl, and the ever-present
consciousness of it gave her a reason for desiring to leave Fairport,
where the Bruces would return. This sensitiveness would not have
induced her to leave Mrs. Pogram, had the latter’s brother not made her
stay unendurable, but it was a secret reason for being glad to escape.

Perhaps Mrs. Bruce and her son would not remember her at all; but she
could not expect to escape Betsy Foster’s recognition. So she lay there
awake; at one moment longing for Mrs. Pogram’s kindly, invertebrate
protection, and wishing that Mrs. Bruce had never opened to her another
world; and again feeling the fire of ambition to repay that lady every
cent she had ever spent upon her. Rosalie’s color pressed high as she
imagined Mrs. Bruce’s amazed scorn that the talents in which she had
at least for a time believed, had carried their possessor no higher as
yet than to be a waitress—a heaver, according to Miss Hickey—in the
Yellowstone.

The girl must at last have dozed; for she shortly experienced a
vigorous shaking from her companion.

“Here, here, hustle!” exclaimed Miss Hickey, not unkindly. Rosalie
opened her eyes with such bewilderment that her companion laughed.

“Come on, blue eyes. You look like a baby. Get into your duds. We’re
off for Norris Basin, worse luck.”

The sight of Miss Hickey’s readjusted pompadour gave Rosalie a
realizing sense of the situation.

“Oh, Miss Hickey,” she exclaimed, as she hurried to the washstand, “are
many people lay-overs?”

“Oh, you’ve got them on the brain, have you?” asked the other,
proceeding with her own toilet. “Not many, ’cause it costs too much.”

“I saw some people here last night who have lots of money—oh, lots and
lots! Shouldn’t you think they’d stay?”

“H’m. I only _hope_ they will,” rejoined Miss Hickey, “as long as we’re
going. The crowds are fierce.”

“I do hope they will!” Rosalie’s echo was fervent. She almost summoned
courage to tell her aggressive companion the situation; but one glance
at the young woman’s coiffure, which was now receiving the addition of
a bunch of curls, arrested her.

Miss Hickey regarded her companion sharply.

“You ain’t a heaver all the year,” she remarked tentatively, “or else
you wouldn’t be afraid o’ those rich folks. There’s the tips, you know.”

Rosalie was silent.

“Perhaps you was their waitress and ran off to see the world without
giving notice.”

“No, I wasn’t that; but I—I know them, and—”

The speech drifted into silence.

“You know rich folks, do you? Lucky you.”

“Not exactly. They—she—” stammered Rosalie, “they helped—educate me.”

“Oh, you’re educated, are you?” retorted Miss Hickey, giving her
coiffure a satisfied lift. “Well, so am I. I’m a typewriter in Chicago,
winters.”

“Does—does it pay well?” asked Rosalie, with such serious wistfulness
that Miss Hickey forgave her her rich acquaintances.

She grimaced. “Not so you’d notice it. I ain’t goin’ back this fall.
You know the Yellowstone Company’ll land you just as many miles from
the Park as they brought you, and in any direction you say. Me for Los
Angeles. I ain’t afraid I can’t make my living, and I’m sick o’ bein’
snowed on, winters, without any furs.”

Rosalie looked enviously at the other’s snapping black eyes.

“Wonder what savage we’ll go over with,” pursued Miss Hickey, stuffing
her nightgown into a bag, and nonchalantly running her comb and
toothbrush into her stocking.

“Over? Over?”

“Yes, over to Norris in the stage.”

“Do you mean that _savages_ drive them?” asked Rosalie, her eyes
dilating.

Miss Hickey laughed. “Oh, you’re more fun than a barrel o’ monkeys,”
she observed. “The drivers certainly are savages. You can ask anybody
in the Park.”

Rosalie smiled faintly as she began twisting up her hair. “Oh, that’s
some more Park English, is it?” she asked.

“I hope it’ll be Jasper,” said Miss Hickey, “but we won’t get to sit by
him, anyway. The dudes all fight for the driver’s seat. I’m going down
now. Hurry up, Baby, or you’ll catch it.”

Rosalie obeyed in a panic, and was soon ready to follow. She dreaded
the ordeal of the breakfast-room, and prayed that she might be
delivered from the Bruces’ table. Her heart came up in her throat when
she saw them enter the door; but she was not obliged to wait upon them.
As it happened, Miss Hickey had that station, and Rosalie devoted
herself assiduously to a deaf gentleman who was traveling with his wife
and a young woman at sight of whom Rosalie colored. “Oh, how small this
big world is!” she thought; “but she won’t remember me. We seldom met!”

The ordeal of breakfast was at last over, and Rosalie with relief
yielded herself to Miss Hickey’s orders, and presently the girls
stood on the great piazza of the hotel, but on the edge of the crowd,
watching the systematic filling of the stages which were starting on
the tour around the Park.

“How shall we know when to go?” she asked of Miss Hickey, to whose side
she clung in the confusion.

“Don’t you worry about that,” returned the other. “Have some gum?”

She offered several sticks of the same to Rosalie, who declined,
wishing her veil were thicker as she glanced about, dreading to see the
Bruce party, and longing to be safely away.

Miss Hickey slid a generous quantity of gum into her own mouth and then
settled her hat more firmly on her pompadour by a rearrangement of
largely gemmed hat-pins.

While she proceeded in an experienced manner to break up and chew
the gum-sticks into a solacing sphere, her conversation continued,
untrammeled by this effort.

“Don’t you hear the agent calling the names off?” she asked. “They
can’t any of ’em say where they’ll go any more’n we can. They’re going
to be took ’round the Park just like a kid out in its baby-wagon. They
come when they’re called, you bet; and they don’t know where their
bags are any more’n you do. When they get to the Fountain House their
bags’ll meet ’em in the hotel; then to-morrow mornin’ they’ll disappear
again to meet ’em at the next place. Oh, it’s a great system all
right, if too many people didn’t come at once. They have awful times
when there ain’t enough places for ’em to sleep, and six or seven get
put in one room. These folks that are too exclusive to travel with a
party are the ones that get left; for the conductors of these tours
get to the hotels a little ahead o’ the other folks, and get all their
people provided for; and it’s gallin’ to know you pay just as much as
anybody and yet have to herd in with folks you never saw before—just
the same as poor heavers like us.” And Miss Hickey gave her companion a
nudge that nearly made her reel. “Weren’t you the mad kid last night?”
she continued.

“I think you were the mad one,” rejoined Rosalie. “I was dazed.—O Miss
Hickey!” She made the exclamation involuntarily; for the Bruce party
came out of a door not far from where the girls were standing, and they
were dressed for a move.

“Oh, they’re not lay-overs!” exclaimed Rosalie, retreating behind Miss
Hickey’s broad shoulder.

“Who—them? Say, what’s the matter with you? Have you stole their
diamonds?”

“Don’t you think they’re going in this next stage?” asked Rosalie
nervously. “Do watch, Miss Hickey. You’re so tall you can see
everything.” For the Bruces had moved to the other side of the piazza
and were lost in the crowd.

“I waited on those folks at breakfast,” said Miss Hickey, craning her
neck and chewing with such open vigor that she momentarily recalled a
dog who endeavors to rid his back teeth of a caramel.

“I know you did,” replied Rosalie; “I saw.”

“Ain’t he grand!” exclaimed Miss Hickey. “I thought when I was pourin’
his coffee that he was just about the size I’d like to go through the
Park with on a weddin’ trip. The way he said, ‘No sugar, please!’ Oh,
it was just grand. It made me forget every swattie at the post. There
ain’t an officer here that can stand up to him, I don’t think.”

“Do see if they are getting into that stage!” asked Rosalie, still in
retreat behind her companion’s ample shoulder.

“Nit,” responded Mr. Bruce’s admirer sententiously. “That swell woman
with him went down the steps to get in, but his nibs there that’s
loadin’ ’em told her to chase herself.”

The crowd was dispersing with celerity.

“There ain’t but two stages left,” went on Miss Hickey, with
excitement. “If they don’t go in that next one, we’re all booked to go
together. Say, wouldn’t that be grand?”

“No! No! No!” exclaimed Rosalie, emerging from her barrier and watching
with dilated eyes.

The stage swept up to the steps. The tourists swarmed into it like
bees. Again Mrs. Bruce essayed to enter, and Rosalie could see Irving
draw her back, while Betsy Foster stood impassive at a little distance,
observing the scene with inexpressive eyes.



CHAPTER VI

THE LAST STAGE


“I SHOULD like to know why they put us in the last stage!” demanded
Mrs. Bruce, in an irate tone.

“Many advantages,” returned Irving, with a twinkle of his eyes toward
Betsy.

“There are not, Irving Bruce, and you ought to have done something
about it! Haven’t we always heard about the dust of the Yellowstone?”

“Yes, that’s why they oil the roads now,” returned Bruce pacifically,
“and we don’t have to hurry, by this means, you see. Take our own time.
Don’t have to hurry past anything to make room for the next stage.”

“I never could endure _leavings_!” exclaimed Mrs. Bruce, her eyes still
snapping as the last stage came around the curve toward the steps.

Betsy attracted her attention.

“See those folks you said looked so aristocratic,” she said quietly.
“They’re goin’ with us.”

Mrs. Bruce followed the direction of her maid’s meaning glance and
observed the deaf gentleman’s party of three. Insensibly Mrs. Bruce’s
ireful expression relaxed. There was that in the tone of this party
which could lend distinction even to the last stage.

Mrs. Bruce gazed at the trio appreciatively.

“I marvel,” she murmured to Betsy, “that they haven’t their own
equipage.”

Betsy sighed with relief and felt that the day was won.

Having observed the dignified, florid-faced man with the white
mustache, the tall woman in half-mourning, and the quiet young girl who
accompanied them, Mrs. Bruce spoke again distinctly:—

“If I should not be taking any one’s place on the driver’s seat, I
should like to sit there very much.”

“We shall take turns as to that, I fancy,” replied Irving. He noticed
the small rubber device hanging about the neck of the deaf gentleman
and turned to the lady beside him.

“Will you sit up in front to start off?” he asked, lifting his hat.
“Your husband enjoys more through the eyes than through the ears, I
observe.”

The lady, with whom smiles were evidently a rarity, met his eyes and
essayed one. She thanked him, and turning to her companion pointed to
the driver’s place, as they moved down the steps.

The gentleman shook his head and motioned the lady into the middle seat
of the stage, which she entered.

“But where is Robert?” she exclaimed in a sort of dignified panic.
“Miss Maynard,” turning to the companion who waited passively, “I
thought you said you saw my son a moment ago.”

“Yes, Mrs. Nixon, in the office,” replied the girl.

“Henry! _Henry!_” pursued the lady, pushing against the deaf
gentleman’s shoulder both to attract his attention and to prevent his
entering the stage. “Robert!” She mouthed the name distinctly and
motioned toward the hotel. “_Robert!_”

“Damn Robert!” returned the other, under the usual impression of the
deaf that his heartfelt expression was inaudible.

As a matter of fact no one observed it in the confusion. Mrs. Bruce
was absorbed in mounting to the coveted place with the driver. Irving
offered to put Betsy up beside her; but Miss Foster declined. “Get
right up there, Mr. Irving. I’m going in here behind you.”

Meanwhile the two waitresses had obeyed a summons, and Rosalie with
her head down and praying to be invisible hastened with her companion
to the steps. Her prayer was answered, because all the party were too
preoccupied to note the two girls who came swiftly by and entered the
back seat of the stage. Moreover, at the same moment out from the door
of the hotel came a young fellow in outing clothes and cap, who was
greeted with well-bred rebuke by Mrs. Nixon, and a grunt of relief from
the deaf gentleman, who put Miss Maynard into the seat and followed her.

“Well, I told you not to bring me, didn’t I?” responded Robert. His
voice was loud and cheery, and had, in his more gleeful moments, a
trick of breaking into a high register with a joyous inflection which
endeared him to those who enjoyed his conversation. He was clean, gay,
and young; but if he possessed any beauty it was of the mind; and among
his acquaintance there was a wide difference of opinion on this point.

While his mother voiced her dignified rebuke, his quick eye glanced
along the stage to take in its possibilities.

Rosalie was shrunk into the further corner of her seat, directly behind
the Nixon party, and Miss Hickey, meeting his glance, chewed vigorously
while lifting her head with an elegant air of impersonality.

In Robert’s own mental vernacular he “passed up the gum.”

The driver’s seat was full, the alternative was the one in front of his
mother’s party, where Betsy Foster reigned alone. He stepped in beside
her while he spoke to his mother.

“I told you not to bring me,” he declared again, cheerfully. “I told
you I’d be more trouble than I was worth.”

“You actually detained the stage, dear. I was about to send your uncle
Henry to find you.”

Quick as a flash the culprit snatched the device which aided the deaf
gentleman’s hearing, and shrieked across it above the clatter of the
stage.

“Don’t you ever do it, Uncle Henry. Rise up and declare your rights.
What if I am lost?”

“That’s what I say,” responded the older man, equably. “Small
loss. One of my rights is not to have my ear-drums cracked. They’re
sufficiently nicked already.”

He took back the rubber disk with decision.

Irving had turned around during this interchange and looked down from
his high perch.

“Hello, Nixie,” he said.

Robert leaned forward with alacrity, and took the down-stretched hand.

“_Et tu, Brute?_” he cried, his voice breaking joyously.

Betsy stole the first glance at her companion. His unfeigned gladness
to see her idol was in his favor.

He turned to his mother: “Bruce of our class. Didn’t you recognize him?
Best fullback the college ever saw.”

“I did think there was something familiar about that young man’s face,”
responded Mrs. Nixon. “Most attractive; and such charming manners.” Her
carefully modulated voice fell agreeably on Miss Foster’s ears. “He
tried to give us the front seat; but the lady with him,” Mrs. Nixon
raised her eyebrows, “was so very anxious to secure it, that I was glad
your uncle refused.”

Mrs. Bruce turned and looked down to see Irving’s friend, and
exclaimed at once, beaming with interest:—

“I remember you perfectly, Mr. Nixon. You were so funny on Class Day.”
As Mrs. Bruce spoke, her eyes roved again to the young man’s party.

“I remember you at the games too, Mrs. Bruce,” replied the young
fellow, rising, “and for the same reason. You were so funny! We’re
a couple of family parties, it seems. My mother, and my uncle, Mr.
Derwent, are here, and at the first stop we’ll all become acquainted.”

So saying, Robert dropped back into his seat, and turning with scarce
a pause to his mother, said explanatorily, “Brute’s stepmother. An
up-and-coming dame. You will have to meet her.”

Mrs. Nixon frowned at him significantly and nodded her head toward
Betsy’s immovable back.

“All right,” said Robert airily, and glanced at the woman who shared
his place. The walnut profile impressed itself upon him for the first
time, and in connection with the Bruces he now remembered the woman to
whom Irving had been so attentive on various college occasions. “I’ll
be jiggered,” thought the youth, “if it isn’t Brute’s nurse! Well, we
are being chaperoned through the park, good and plenty.”

Then he amazed his mother by addressing his companion.

“Why, how d’ ye do? Why didn’t you speak to me?”

Betsy gave her odd one-sided smile as she looked back at his cheerfully
grinning countenance.

“It’s all so long ago now, Mr. Nixon, I didn’t suppose you’d remember
me. I didn’t know you at first.”

“I’m not at all surprised. I’ve grown old and decrepit in the last two
years; but to show you my mind isn’t failing yet, I can tell you where
I last saw you. It was in a gondola in Venice.”

Betsy smiled and nodded.

“I remember your calling across to Mr. Irving very well, Mr. Nixon.”

“Good. Your memory’s all right, too.”

Helen Maynard, sitting quiet and forgotten at Mrs. Nixon’s elbow,
looked at Robert with some approval for the first time. He swung around
in his seat so suddenly that he accidentally caught her glance. Miss
Maynard had a symmetrical little nose and mouth, and he liked the way
she did her hair; and wearing her present expression it occurred to
him for the first time that the young woman, who was both his uncle’s
stenographer and his mother’s companion, was rather fetching.

“Did you see the formation pretty thoroughly yesterday, Miss Maynard?”
he asked briskly.

Her quickly averted eyes sought the splendid sweeps of Jupiter Terrace
which the stage was now passing.

“Quite thoroughly,” she replied briefly.

“We went the regular round,” said Mrs. Nixon. “Your uncle was really
bewitched with everything.”

Mr. Derwent, his hands crossed upon the head of the stick he carried,
sat in the isolation of the deaf; his eyes fastened upon the delicate
and wonderful coloring of the stationary cascades of deposit, over
which the water was trickling; building—ever building greater beauty
with its puny persistence.

He caught his nephew’s eye with a good-humored twinkle. “Great example
of what industry will do,” he remarked.

“Fierce!” replied Robert, and made an energetic dive for the rubber
disk, which his uncle foiled by a quick move. The youth fixed Mr.
Derwent with his gaze, and moved his lips with care to be distinct.

“I’ve always refused,” he declared loudly, “to have the busy bee or the
coral insect thrown at me; and I now add the Yellowstone water to the
black list.”

“If words,” replied Mr. Derwent, “could build anything, you would rear
temples of amazing height, Robert.”

“And rare beauty,” added the youth. “Don’t forget that, please.”

Miss Hickey changed her gum to the other side of her mouth. “Ain’t he
fresh?” she murmured to her companion. “Did you see the look I gave him
when he come up to the stage? I tell you I wasn’t goin’ to have him
crowdin’ in here with us.”

“I waited on them at breakfast,” murmured Rosalie. “He’s just jolly all
the time.”

Miss Hickey bridled. “Well, he wouldn’t jolly me more’n once. I know
his kind: awful fresh;” and the gum gave a vault and turn which only
the most experienced can accomplish.

“And they’re all friends!” murmured Rosalie apprehensively.

“Oh, brace up!” returned Miss Hickey impatiently. “If you haven’t
stolen their spoons I don’t see what you’re so scared of; and you’re
too much of a baby to have done that.”

“No, I never—never lived out anywhere,” breathed Rosalie.

“Well, if you think it’s such a disgrace to be a waitress in the Park,
what did you come for?”

As Miss Hickey scented offense, her tone began to rise, and Rosalie
grasped her arm pacifically. “No, no, it isn’t that! It isn’t in the
least that!”

The girl’s conscience squirmed a little as she made this reply, and she
swallowed and went on. “It’s a long story, too long to tell, and not
interesting; but oh, Miss Hickey, do try to wait on the Bruces this
noon, won’t you, like a dear good girl!”

“’Twon’t be up to me; but I’d be mighty glad to do it, you bet! Did you
hear that fresh chap call him Bruty? _Bruty!_ That prince! Well, I’ve
got a name for _him_ all right. Did you ever study about them heathen
gods? I did. I’ve got an awful good education if I do say it; and
there was one of ’em so ugly if he walked by a clock it would stop. His
name was—let’s see; it was Calabash. Well, it just fits that feller to
a T. If I looked like that, I’d go way back and sit down instead of
fillin’ the stage so’t nobody can look at anybody but him.”

“The girl with them seems to be a companion,” whispered Rosalie. “I
tried to get that sort of a place.”

“Oh, shoot!” returned Miss Hickey, trying the endurance of the gum
severely. “I could get that job easy, I know, on account of my
education and knowin’ my way round the way I do; but there ain’t enough
freedom to it. If we’d rather go to a Swattie ball now than to sleep,
we have our choice; but a companion has got to be right on the job
night and day.”

Rosalie looked off at the distant mountains, and then back at the nape
of Miss Maynard’s pretty neck, and began to wonder if she was as lonely
as herself. Apparently Mrs. Nixon addressed no one except her son, and
Rosalie guessed that Miss Maynard, placed behind her employer’s cold
shoulder, was in reality as far removed from her as she herself felt
with regard to her neighbor.

The beautiful, beautiful world! Rosalie sighed and leaned forward, the
better to get the splendid sweep of vale and mountain, and suddenly
caught the eyes of Robert Nixon, his arm thrown along the back of the
seat as he turned to converse with his mother. Rosalie shrank back into
her corner. Betsy Foster might turn around, too!



CHAPTER VII

THE NATIONAL PARK


PERCHED on the driver’s seat, with Irving beside her, Mrs. Bruce was as
near the zenith of contentment as falls to the lot of mortal.

The driver himself, philosopher as he was, discovered in the first
three miles that it would not be necessary for him to volunteer any
information, as everything he knew would be extracted from him, down to
the last dregs of supposition.

“Three thousand feet of ascent in a mile, Irving! Think of it!”
exclaimed Mrs. Bruce, as they neared the Hoodoo Rocks.

“I’d rather think of an ascent of one thousand feet in three miles,”
returned Irving. “It’s less strain on the brain.”

The driver gave him an appreciative glance across Mrs. Bruce’s smart
traveling hat.

“Oh, is that it?” she rejoined. “Perhaps I did get it a little twisted.”

Here they came in full view of the desert of gaunt, pallid trees, amid
the gigantic Hoodoo Rocks.

“Oh, what a dreadful scene!” exclaimed Mrs. Bruce. “Such a dreary
stretch of death and desolation! Driver, why do they allow such a thing
in the Park?”

A hunted expression came into the driver’s eyes. He had been gradually
growing more and more mechanical in his replies. Now he maintained a
stony silence.

“If I were here at night, alone,” continued Mrs. Bruce, “I should go
straight out of my mind! I’m so temperamental I could not—I really
could _not_ bear it;” and she shuddered.

“Then I positively forbid your coming here alone at night,” declared
Irving. “We must preserve your mind, Madama, at all costs.”

“But it’s a blot on the Park. It’s more suggestive than the worst Doré
picture. Boo!” Mrs. Bruce shuddered again, and looked fearfully at the
dead forest, sparse and wild, rearing its barkless trunks amid the
giant rocks of wild and threatening form. “The government ought to do
something about it.”

“You flatter Uncle Sam,” said Irving. “I don’t think any one else
expects him to move mountains.”

“Well, they might train vines over it,” suggested Mrs. Bruce; and the
driver burst into some sound which ended in a fit of coughing, while
Irving laughed.

The sudden beauty of the scenery diverted Mrs. Bruce from her plans for
reform. Her enthusiasm over the view led her to turn and look down to
catch Betsy’s eye.

“Are you seeing?” she cried.

Betsy nodded several times to express appreciation.

“It’s just like life, isn’t it?” went on Mrs. Bruce pensively to her
son. “Full of startling contrasts. Do you know, Irving, I think Mr.
Nixon is talking to Betsy?”

“No doubt he remembers her,” returned Irving. “He has seen her as often
as he has you.”

“That’s true; but it’s nice of him, just the same.”

Irving smiled. “Nixie’s got to talk,” he remarked.

“But you know,” said Mrs. Bruce, “there _are_ snobs in the world.”

“So I’ve heard.”

“I like Mr. Nixon, anyway,” she went on argumentatively. “It isn’t
necessary for a man to be handsome.”

Irving sighed. “What a blessed relief that you think so, Madama!
Otherwise I’m sure you’d call upon the Creator, and make it a subject
of prayer.”

“Irving, you’re making fun of me.”

“You know, Madama, that I never did such a thing.”

The stage drew to a standstill. Rosalie Vincent’s eyes were starry
as she looked in worshipful silence, and she momentarily forgot her
situation.

Miss Hickey gazed and chewed.

“I’ve got to have me a new apron,” she said. “A chump in the kitchen
burned one o’ mine yesterday.”

The stage moved on and paused again in the picturesque pass that leads
to the Golden Gate, while all eyes rested upon the Rustic Waterfall,
whose tuneful grace as it leaps from ledge to ledge down the worn rock,
speaks of life and beauty, striking after the desolation just passed.

Mrs. Bruce’s suspended accusation was repeated as the horses started.
“You do make fun of me, Irving,” she said.

“No, no,” he returned. “I simply recognize your spirit of
knight-errantry. Glorious business.” He smiled at her. “Journeying
through the world and righting wrongs as you go.”

“I really do think the vines would be a lovely idea,” she declared; and
the driver coughed again.

“See how the Hoodoos prepared you to revel in the present beauty,”
said Irving. “You just said that it wasn’t necessary for all men to be
handsome. Same thing applies to landscape, doesn’t it?”

“But his mother is very handsome, I think,” replied Mrs. Bruce, her
butterfly habit of mind coming in play; “and that gentleman,—did he
say—”

“Are you talking about Nixie? Oh yes, his mother is _grande dame_,
and I’ve heard him speak of that uncle, Mr. Derwent, often. He’s the
capitalist of the family, I believe.”

“The girl,” went on Mrs. Bruce, “seems to be a companion. I noticed
Mrs. Nixon didn’t say much to her.”

“Is that the sign of companionship?” asked Irving. “Something for you
to fix, Madama.”

“She’s a very ladylike looking girl,” replied Mrs. Bruce.

“Nixie’ll talk to her all right if she has ears,” remarked Irving.

“It’s very nice of him to be nice to Betsy. Who else is in the stage?”

“I didn’t notice.”

“Driver,” Mrs. Bruce turned to her bureau of information, “did you
notice who is on the back seat of our stage?”

The driver’s imperturbable lips parted. “They put two heavers in there,
I believe,” he replied.

“_Who?_” Mrs. Bruce spoke in italics.

“Waitresses from the hotel. They move them sometimes with the crowd.”

Mrs. Bruce kept silence a moment to recover the shock. The presence
of the Nixon party still proved the respectability of the last stage,
however.

“Heavers! Is that your slang out here?” she asked at last, and laughed.
“I hope that isn’t descriptive of the way we’re going to be waited on,
Irving.”

Rosalie’s heart fluttered again on leaving the stage at Norris Basin;
but the celerity with which the experienced Miss Hickey hurried her
into the hotel to take up their duties aided her wish to be unnoticed.
The verandas were alive with passengers already arrived, all ravenous
from hours of coaching in the mountain air.

At last Rosalie, in her white gown and apron, stood in her appointed
place, and the crowds began to be let into the dining-room. Miss
Hickey was at some distance from Rosalie, and the latter felt a little
hysterical rise in her throat in the knowledge that the snapping black
eyes were watching for Irving Bruce.

The Nixon party came before the Bruces, and Mr. Derwent spied Rosalie
and hastened his dignified footsteps toward her table.

“The waitress we had this morning,” he said to Mrs. Nixon. “She has a
head on her.”

“Sounds alluringly like champagne,” murmured Robert to Miss Maynard,
who ignored him.

Rosalie involuntarily gave a shy smile as Mr. Derwent nodded at her.
She could have embraced them all in her gladness to be delivered from
waiting on the Bruces, who now entered, and, tragical to relate, fell
short of Miss Hickey’s table. That damsel, however, being at once
overwhelmed with orders from a famished group, had no time to mourn.

Mr. Derwent looked with pleasant eyes at Rosalie when he ordered his
soup.

“You enjoyed the drive over,” he said. “There are roses in your
cheeks.”

“Yes, sir. Consommé?” returned Rosalie faintly, the blush roses
referred to deepening to Jacqueminot.

Robert glanced up and saw that this was the fair girl who had kept so
still behind her veil on the back seat all the morning.

“I take my hat off to Uncle Henry,” he said, again addressing Helen
Maynard, who was seated beside him. “He can see more out of the back of
his head than I can with my eyes.”

“I will order for us both,” said Mrs. Nixon to Rosalie; and forthwith
proceeded to do so with an air which forbade levity.

When Rosalie had received her orders and hastened from the room, Robert
again unburdened himself.

“If I could get at that rubber ear of Uncle Henry’s,” he remarked to
his demure neighbor, “I’d tell him he was a sad dog. A very good thing
he brought me on this trip.”

“Mr. Derwent’s eyes mean more to him than ours do to us, naturally,”
returned Helen.

“And I tell you,” returned Robert devoutly, “anybody endears himself
to Uncle Henry who brings his coffee just right. That blonde must have
done it this morning. How,” turning to his mother, “does my mother
enjoy democratic traveling? This girl is a peach; but you should see
the other one that was with her this morning in the coach. Did you?”

“No,” returned Mrs. Nixon coldly. “Why should I trouble myself about my
neighbors? I came to see the scenery.”

“Well,” Robert shrugged his shoulders, “all is, you’ve missed a chance
to see how a perfect lady should behave. Her gum-manners were a dream;
but cheer up! You’ll have a chance this afternoon, doubtless.”

Here Rosalie brought the soup. Helen Maynard looked up at her and
received a strange impression of familiarity.

“She looks like some one,” she said softly. “Who is it?”

“I know,” responded Robert promptly, “Hebe.”

“I haven’t met her yet,” returned Helen. “I’m climbing the mount of
Olympus by slow and easy stages.”

“Now if you mean anything about _me_,” returned Robert briskly, “speak
right out. I can’t cope with clever people. If you’re clever, I’m done
for.”

“Oh!” ejaculated Helen softly. “Lambeth!”

“Is that any relative to shibboleth?” effervesced Robert. “Because I
can say it. See? Better let me in.”

“Lambeth is a school,” returned Helen, and stole another look at their
busy waitress; “a school where I went.”

Irving Bruce had Betsy on his right hand, but Mrs. Bruce absorbed him;
and Betsy sat looking before her, idly waiting for her meal. Her roving
glance fell suddenly on Rosalie’s blond head as the girl was leaving
the dining-room.

“Why, that looked like Rosalie Vincent,” she reflected; then thought no
more of it until later, when, her eyes again roving to that table, she
obtained a full view of the fair-haired waitress as the girl refilled
Mr. Derwent’s glass.

Betsy held her knife and fork poised, while her steady-going heart
contracted for a second. “That is Rosalie Vincent!” She held the
exclamation well inside, and looked at her neighbors. They had
evidently noticed nothing, and Betsy devoutly hoped they would not. It
was doubtful whether Mrs. Bruce would recognize her protégée in any
case; but instinctively Betsy desired to prevent her from doing so;
and contrary to her habit of speaking only when she was spoken to, she
began commenting on the scenery; and Mrs. Bruce was impressed with the
unusual docility and willingness to be enlightened displayed by her
stiff-necked maid, whose thoughts were busy during the whole of her
mistress’s patronizing information.

“And some time, Betsy,” finished Mrs. Bruce, “I will show you some
pictures by a great artist named Doré, illustrating the Inferno, and
you will be reminded of the Hoodoo Rocks.”

Betsy listened and replied so respectfully that her mistress remarked
on it afterwards to Irving.

“All this travel is developing that hard, narrow New England mind of
Betsy’s,” she said. “You can see it.”

And all the time Miss Foster was in a mild Inferno of her own, for her
heart had always warmed to Rosalie Vincent, who used frequently to
make her the confidante of her small hopes and fears, and whose sunny,
confiding nature had endeared her to Betsy, and often aroused an
unspoken sympathy in the sordid conditions of the girl’s lot.

Betsy’s one ambition now was to get the Bruces out of the dining-room
before Mrs. Bruce should discover where the wings she had bestowed upon
Rosalie had fluttered.

“I won’t try to see the child,” thought Betsy, “but I’ll write to
her as soon as we get away from here.” She cast a furtive glance at
the young girl. “She looks like one o’ these pretty actresses,” she
thought, “rigged up to wait on table on the stage.”

She saw that Rosalie was keeping an eye on the Bruce party, and nervous
in the fear of recognition; and this added to her relief when, Mrs.
Bruce’s appetite satisfied, she begged Irving to hurry so that they
might view the smoking wonders without.



CHAPTER VIII

THE BLONDE HEAVER


“ISN’T it remarkable,” asked Mrs. Bruce, “that we were just talking
about the Inferno?”

She, with her companions, had come down from the hotel into the
hissing, steaming tract of the Norris Basin.

Deep rumblings were in their ears. Narrow plank-walks formed a footing
amid innumerable tiny boiling springs, while the threatening roar of
larger ebullitions and the heavy sulphurous odors of the air gave
every indication that here indeed was the gateway to that region where
our forefathers believed that the unlucky majority paid the uttermost
farthing.

The Nixons had also elected to walk through the Basin, meeting the
stage at a point farther on.

“Say, Brute,” called Robert, “doesn’t this beat New Year’s for the
time, the place, and the good resolution?”

Mrs. Nixon’s nostrils dilated in disgust at the evil smells.

Irving caught a glimpse of her expression.

“Mrs. Nixon is making up her mind never again to do anything wrong,” he
remarked.

“I always said my Hades would be noise,” she replied, “but I begin to
think it will be odors.”

“I always said _mine_ would be dirt,” declared Mrs. Bruce, “but I
believe I’d prefer that to being boiled. Irving, don’t you let go of
me. This is the wickedest place I ever saw. Those little sizzling
springs are just hissing to catch my feet.”

The party stopped to watch the heavy plop-plop of a mud geyser.

“Now,” said Robert, “while we’re all thinking on our sins and properly
humble, is the time to get acquainted. Mrs. Bruce, this is my mother,
and my uncle Mr. Derwent, and Miss Maynard; and Mr. Bruce you all know
by reputation.”

Betsy had moved to a remote corner of the geyser.

“I never know just how to address that member of your party,” said
Robert to Irving.

The latter smiled. “She would tell you she was just Betsy. She’s such
a good soul that down East, in the village where she comes from, they
call her Clever Betsy; and she’s all that New England means by the
adjective, and all that Old England means, too.”

Meanwhile Rosalie Vincent was making her hasty preparations for another
move, and to her came Miss Hickey in a state of high satisfaction.

“I’m staying, Baby,” she cried, her eyes snapping. “I guess there must
be a lot of lay-overs. Anyway they need me, and there’s a Swattie ball
to-night. Hurray!” Miss Hickey executed a triumphant two-step and
knocked over a chair.

Rosalie seized her arm. “Can’t I stay too, then?” she asked anxiously.

“No, you can’t, Blue-eyes. You’re to go.”

“Oh, you go and let me stay!” begged Rosalie nervously.

“And lose the ball?” exclaimed Miss Hickey. “Well, believe _me_, you’ve
got nerve!”

Rosalie looked as if she were going to cry, and Miss Hickey’s
good-nature prompted a bit of comfort.

“Besides, if you’re afraid of the lock-up, this is your chance to
side-step those folks. More’n as like as not they’re among the
lay-overs.”

At this consideration Rosalie did brighten, and when the last stage
came around, Miss Hickey was present to speed the parting heaver whose
apprehensive glance about her saw no familiar figure.

“Oh, they _are_ staying, Miss Hickey!” she exclaimed, in hushed tones.

The sophisticated Miss Hickey did not respond, but nodded affably to
the driver.

Rosalie breathed a relieved farewell as she left the big-boned bulwark
of her friend and obeyed the agent’s signal to enter the back seat
of the stage. The vehicle was empty but for a stout man with a field
glass strapped across his shoulders who mounted to the seat beside the
driver, and they started.

The whole stage to herself! Rosalie could scarcely believe it.

She listened to the strange noises in the air and watched the steam
which, mounting high, would make one believe that the locality was
alive with factories. The girl’s curious gaze roamed about, and she
thought wistfully of such travelers as might visit at their leisure the
wonders about her.

There were great beauties, however, even for a heaver to enjoy. The
morning’s ride had been a keen pleasure in the intervals of her
embarrassment. The profusion of wild flowers; monk’s-hood, hare-bells,
and Indian paintbrush, had fed her eyes with their splashes of color;
and the behavior of the wild animals made one think of the millennium.
Sure of protection from being hunted and slain, the chipmunks sat
up on their hind legs close to the road, to watch the stage go by,
clasping their tiny hands beneath their chins, like children in ecstasy
at seeing a pretty show. Frequently one would be seen sitting up and
nibbling the seeds from a long stem of grass, which he held in such a
manner that he appeared to be playing a flute. A big marmot here and
there lay along a bough or rock, turning his head lazily to view the
tourists through his Eden. Boiling springs and boiling rivers, hill,
vale, mountain, and waterfall—all these had Rosalie enjoyed, even with
the fear that the Bruces would turn around; and now! Think of making
one stage of the picturesque journey with no companion but her own
thoughts! It seemed too good to be true; and she soon found that indeed
it was so.

The driver drew his horses to a walk, and Rosalie perceived that many
of the other stages were in sight, some of them stopping, and that
tourists were entering them from the roadside.

Soon it became the turn of the last stage, and Rosalie’s heart bounded
to recognize all the companions of the morning.

She saw Mrs. Bruce gaze sharply at the stout man in her seat by the
driver.

“Won’t your mother go up there, Nixie?” asked Irving.

Mrs. Nixon refusing, her son put Miss Maynard up, the young woman
climbing to the place with alacrity.

Rosalie turned her head to gaze fixedly at the other side of the road.
She grew warm as she felt some one climb into the seat beside her, but
did not turn her head back, even when the coach started.

Finding herself not addressed, presently she turned about and looked
squarely into the eyes of Betsy Foster.

“How do you do, Rosalie?” said the latter composedly.

“O Betsy!” exclaimed the girl softly, and seized the older woman’s hand
with an appealing grasp.

Betsy gave her one-sided smile, and Rosalie’s eyes filled.

“You don’t seem surprised!” she said unsteadily.

“I am, though,” returned Betsy. “I supposed we’d left you behind at
Norris.”

“You saw me there! Did the—did Mrs. Bruce?”

Betsy shook her head. “No; and she hasn’t yet; but I was thinkin’ about
you as we came up to the stage, and when all of a sudden I saw you, I
thought I’d get in here.”

The Nixon party were directly in front of them, and the Bruces in the
next seat, and all were conversing busily among themselves.

“I’m so glad to see you, Betsy, that I can hardly bear it;” and a
bright tear rolled swiftly down Rosalie’s cheek, as she leaned back in
her corner to regain her self-control.

“I’ve thought about you considerable,” returned Betsy, “and I haven’t
been any too easy.”

“I told Mrs. Pogram, I promised her, that if I were in any trouble I
would write. How kind of you!” with a sudden burst of gratitude and
a continued clinging to Betsy’s slender fingers. “How kind of you to
care!”

“Of course I cared, child,” returned the other.

“And you saw me being a waitress!”

“Yes. First-rate idea for college boys,” answered Betsy quietly.
“It’s quite the fashion for a lot of ’em to help themselves through
school that way. I don’t know about it exactly for girls in a strange
land,—little country girls that don’t know anything about the world; I
don’t know whether I like it or not.”

“It’s a good way to see the world,” said Rosalie, without enthusiasm.

“Yes; and ain’t it a beautiful one out here? Is that what you did it
for, Rosalie?”

“Partly—not exactly. I was getting away from Loomis.”

Betsy nodded. “I heard he pestered you.”

Rosalie looked off reminiscently. “I didn’t tell Auntie Pogram, because
I didn’t want to hurt her feelings; but the reason Loomis began being
so unkind to me was because I wouldn’t marry him.”

“I suspected as much,” said Betsy.

“So long as he was Auntie Pogram’s brother I knew there was no hope of
escaping him if I stayed there, and so—I ran away. It was selfish. My
conscience has never felt easy; but I couldn’t endure his insults.”

“I suppose not,” returned Betsy. Her tone was quiet, but there were
sparks in her usually inexpressive eyes, and had Loomis Brown suddenly
appeared it might have gone ill with his rapidly thinning hair.

“What did you do? How did you manage to get so far from home?”
continued Betsy.

“I first went to a boarding-house that I knew of in Portland, and there
I met a lady who had been taken ill and wanted to go back to her home
in Chicago; but she had a little child and didn’t feel able to travel
with him alone; so she agreed to pay my fare to Chicago if I would
help her home. I didn’t know how I would ever get back, but it was
getting away from Loomis, so I went. On the train I met a woman who
spoke of a place in Chicago where they took girls to wait on table in
the Yellowstone; so as soon as I could, I applied, and they took me and
sent me out here.”

“And do you like it?” asked Betsy, eyeing the mignonne face closely.

“No, of course I don’t like it, exactly, and I’ve been frightened ever
since I saw you all at the Mammoth Hot Springs, for I was sure Mrs.
Bruce would be disgusted with me. She expected me to make some use of
her kindness.”

“Don’t worry,” returned Betsy dryly. “She’s short-sighted, and ten to
one she won’t see you; and if she does, she probably won’t remember
you.”

“I may yet, you know,” said Rosalie eagerly, “I may yet reward her
kindness; but I had no money, so I couldn’t stop to see about any
school position; and besides, Loomis lives in Portland.”

“Oh, don’t bother about him,” said Betsy carelessly. “One donkey more
or less that you meet in the street isn’t goin’ to affect you. He’ll be
busy wavin’ his long ears at Mrs. Pogram’s new help; for she’ll have
to get somebody. I went to see her just before we left, and heard the
whole story.”

Rosalie laughed softly, and her eyes filled again. “O Betsy, it’s so
long since I laughed!” she said; and her tone was so earnest and sad
that Betsy averted her head and saw the scenery through a blur. “I
was in the stage all this morning. It’s a wonder you didn’t feel how
longingly I looked at the back of your head.”

“You were?” asked Betsy, surprised. “Are you goin’ with us all the way?”

“I don’t know. I may be left anywhere. I thought I had left you this
time and hoped so, Betsy, because I was afraid of Mrs. Bruce; but oh,
how glad I am now! for it’s such a comfort to see you, since you’re not
angry with me.”

“Not a bit,” replied Miss Foster, going to the length of patting the
hand that held hers. “I would be, though, if you’d gone off and didn’t
write me or let me know where you were; but you didn’t know that we
were home.”

“No. That’s why I was so startled to see you at the Hot Springs. I had
thought I was thousands of miles from any one who knew me.”

“I shan’t lose track of you again,” declared Betsy quietly.

“O Betsy, do you care?” The girl drew closer to her neighbor’s angular
shoulder. The expression in her lovely eyes disconcerted Betsy as she
met it. “There isn’t any one else in the world to care. I’ve had lots
of time since I left Chicago to think how alone I am, and I’ve been as
disappointed in myself as Mrs. Bruce could be because I’m not brave
about it. There have been moments at night when I was sorry, Loomis and
all, that I ever left Fairport.”

Betsy patted the hand again. “I do care, Rosalie. I won’t ask you to
promise me, because if you need to be bound by a promise you don’t want
me for a friend; but I tell you now that I expect you to keep in touch
with me. I wish I could stay by you or keep you near me, but I can’t. I
can, though, be some help to you perhaps, one way or another, and I’ll
be glad to have you feel that way, and never get into a tight place
without letting me know.”

“I do promise, Betsy, so gratefully,” began Rosalie; and then Mr.
Derwent turned around and met her eyes with a kind smile in his.
He indicated a point in the woods. Rosalie looked and descried the
spreading antlers of a deer, which stood bright-eyed and motionless in
the shadow and watched the stage go by. Mr. Derwent had been the first
to discover the animal, but soon everybody in the stage was alert.

“Oh, the deer! Look at the deer!” sped from mouth to mouth.

“What a sermon to men-folks!” exclaimed Betsy. “The way the critters
act in this Park is a wonder, just because men’s savage instincts are
restrained.”

“Yes,” said Rosalie. “I’ve been saying to myself over and over
Emerson’s poem,—

    ‘Who hath named the birds without a gun?’”

Betsy regarded her with the one-sided smile.

“Still speak poetry, do you, even though you do bring folks their soup?”

“Oh, yes.” Rosalie gave her head a sad little shake. “When I stop
thinking and feeling poetry, I shall have stopped breathing.”

Everybody was commenting on the curious action of the beautiful wild
creature in the forest, Robert declaring that he had buck fever.

When the excitement had subsided, he leaned forward to Irving’s ear.

“Your faithful retainer has found her tongue,” he said. “She and Uncle
Henry’s Hebe are talking thirteen to the dozen.”

“Has Mr. Derwent a Hebe on board?”

“Yes. A genius who has brought him good coffee for two meals. Watch him
head for her table this noon; and she’s unnecessarily pretty.”

Upon this Irving turned around and caught Betsy’s eye; then a glimpse
of the blond young girl who was her companion.

“Glad she’s having a good time,” he said, turning back. Then to Mrs.
Bruce, “Betsy has made friends with a pretty waitress back there.”

“Oh, we still have the domestics, the heavers, with us, have we?”
laughed Mrs. Bruce.

“Is that what they call them!” exclaimed Robert alertly, but continuing
to speak softly. “Didn’t you see the other one we had this morning? The
spearmint expert? Alas, she is no more; but if this one had stayed, I
can tell you Uncle Henry would have stayed too.”

“O Robert!” exclaimed Mrs. Nixon, anxious to make a diversion, “could
you get me some of that very peculiar red flower?”

The stage was climbing a gentle incline and Robert swung himself out
and gathered the blossoms.

“Want some?” asked Irving of his companion.

Mrs. Bruce certainly did, and Irving accordingly jumped out, also. She
turned to Mrs. Nixon, smiling.

“We’re pretty fortunate women,” she said.

Mrs. Nixon sighed. “Robert is such a scatterbrain,” she returned.

Mrs. Bruce continued her glance around, curious to see the waitress
who had been the subject of remark. She saw a fair young girl wearing a
veil; but her near-sighted glance awakened no memory.

“I’m glad,” she thought, “that Betsy has some one to talk to.”



CHAPTER IX

THE FOUNTAIN HOUSE


IT was late and cold when the party reached the Fountain House, and the
big open fire burning in the office was a welcome sight.

Robert Nixon’s prophecy was fulfilled, and Mr. Derwent managed to be
waited upon by Rosalie at supper. The Bruce party happened to sit with
their backs to that table, and indeed Betsy did not expect either of
her companions to recognize the girl in this place and position so
remote from the spot where they had known her but slightly.

Mrs. Pogram had often in past days spoken to Betsy of her husband’s
distant relatives the Vincents, once wealthy and highly placed, then
reduced to financial ruin, illness, and death, leaving this pretty
blossom alone on the family tree. The good lady had often mentioned, as
being to Rosalie’s credit, that she was without false pride or foolish
reverting to the past of her luxurious childhood; and the situation had
appealed to whatever was romantic in Betsy Foster’s breast. There had
always been for her some atmosphere about Rosalie Vincent as of the
exiled Princess in servitude, and the sweetness with which the girl
undertook Mrs. Pogram’s drudgery had oftentimes excited an admiration
in Betsy which she never put into words.

She fought now with a sense of pathos that Rosalie should be hurrying
back and forth under the orders of hungry travelers.

Irving commented at supper upon Betsy’s sociability with the pretty
waitress in the stage, and some instinct bade the good woman guard her
secret.

“She is a very intelligent girl,” Betsy replied. “It seems it’s quite a
common thing for nice poor girls to see the Park in this way.”

“A very good idea, too,” remarked Mrs. Bruce. “Just as the college boys
wait on table in the White Mountain resorts.”

Betsy breathed more freely. If Mrs. Bruce were going to approve this
move of Rosalie’s, it would be a relief. Fully able to fight her own
battles, she shrank sensitively from hearing this girl discussed and
criticised.

“That’s what I say, too,” she returned. “I think it shows good courage
in a girl to strike out and see something of the world. It shows
character and enterprise.”

Irving looked at his old friend curiously. It was unlike her to express
so much. It was some embarrassment to Betsy to take her meals with her
employers, as the herding together of crowds for food on this trip
made necessary; and this was the first time she had opened her lips
voluntarily at table.

In the mean time Rosalie was again winning laurels from the Nixons, and
Helen Maynard looked up at her as she gave her orders.

When the party left the table, Helen lagged behind.

“Miss Vincent, Rosalie,” she said low to the waitress, “don’t you
remember me at Lambeth?”

Rosalie colored.

“Yes; but please don’t remember me!” she returned.

Helen eyed her sharply.

“I mean it,” said Rosalie. “You’re very kind, but I’ll tell you some
time.”

She turned away, and Robert Nixon advanced toward them.

“Pardon me, Miss Maynard, I thought you were ahead of me.” Then when
they had moved toward the door, he laughed. “Have you caught the
infection? Mother is gravely considering getting the girl’s address and
having her come to Boston.”

“She blushed like the traditional rose when I spoke to her,” returned
Helen, and said no more.

The recognition of her school-friend put Rosalie in a new flutter; and
yet such was the joy of sitting on the back seat of the stage with
Betsy that she had not the heart to hope for orders to stay at the
Fountain House.

For the hundredth time she calculated what money Mrs. Bruce had
expended on her course in English, and for the hundredth time felt
herself wither under the scorn of that lady’s eyes should she recognize
her and discover that, after all, she had not been able to rise above
the level where she was found.

“If I could only pay her! If I could only pay her!” sang through the
girl’s head like an ever-recurring refrain.

The sudden announcement that the Fountain Geyser was about to play
caused a stampede among the guests of the hotel, and everybody who had
wraps to withstand the cold of the July evening hastened out to be in
time for the show.

Mrs. Bruce was greatly excited. “It’s a shame, a perfect shame that the
Company don’t warn people to bring flannels and furs,” she said. “Even
my sweater feels like muslin.”

“You’re going to wear my overcoat, Madama,” said Irving, beginning to
put it about her.

“No indeed, Mr. Irving,” burst forth Betsy, and was rewarded by a flash
behind Mrs. Bruce’s eyeglasses.

“Do you suppose I should allow him, Betsy? What are you thinking of!”

As she spoke sharply, the offended woman drew away from her son, and
Betsy hastened to mollify her.

“I’m going to wrap you up in my things, Mrs. Bruce,” she said.

The lady made a faint protest.

“Yes, ma’am, you let me, because you couldn’t drag me away from this
fire anyway. I’d rather see flames spout than water to-night.”

Irving frowned. “You didn’t come across the continent for that, Betsy,”
he began.

She gave him her one-sided smile. “I came across the continent because
I had to,” she returned, meanwhile making her slender mistress
shapeless under a large golf-cape. “I’ve been readin’ the guide-book;
and I’ve got lots o’ geysers comin’ to me yet.”

“I do think,” said Mrs. Bruce, when she and Irving were out of doors
and hastening on their way to the widespread crust of the formation, “I
do think Betsy might be more appreciative of her advantages. Almost any
one else would value more the privilege of a visit to the Yellowstone.”

“Yes,” returned Irving dryly, “and the more the other one appreciated
it, the less she’d lend you her golf-cape.”

Mrs. Bruce looked at him. “You always take Betsy’s part!” she exclaimed.

“I’m only showing you that you chose your companion wisely,” was the
quiet reply. “There, Madama, it’s beginning. Can you sprint?”

Mrs. Bruce could sprint with any girl that lived, and they were soon on
the outskirts of the shivering, eager crowd, and Mrs. Bruce was making
little ineffectual hops in the endeavor to see over and between the
heads of those in front of her. But instantly the fountain shot into
the air and played in the mysterious twilight under a cold pale moon,
and a hush fell upon all.

Betsy had the open fire practically to herself; and she sat before it,
ruminating deeply. It seemed strange to think of Rosalie so near and
yet so far. How she longed to get out into that forbidden department
and lend the aid of her capable hands to whatever work the young girl
was doing. She wondered what a day would bring forth. Possibly she
should not see Rosalie again; and if the girl were sent on with them
to-morrow to the Old Faithful Inn, she knew that the Bruces’ plan was
to remain there for a few days, and there she would doubtless lose her
definitely.

“Mrs. Bruce used to call her her protégée!” she thought. A long
determined breath came from Betsy’s breast. “She’s goin’ to be Betsy
Foster’s protégée now, and I ain’t goin’ to lose sight of her.”

She continued to look thoughtfully into the leaping flames, and even
her practical common sense was not proof against their age-long ability
to show the gazer alluring possibilities.

A certain rough seaman mending his sail in far-off Yankee land little
realized that, could his canvas be turned into a magic carpet, this was
his psychological moment.

“I suppose,” Betsy was reflecting, “’tain’t Mrs. Pogram’s fault that
she hasn’t as much backbone as a jelly-fish.”

A broad, strong flame flew squarely up toward the chimney. “I suppose
if—if I ever was—soft enough—to— Well, Hiram’s a good soul. He’d be
kind as any father to Rosalie.”

Betsy suddenly realized that the fire was making her face hot, and she
put up her hand to shield it.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile Hiram Salter was placidly sitting cross-legged over his
prostrate sail. A piece of twine held in his lips fell down each side
of his chin, giving him some resemblance to a gigantic catfish.

A few days later he received a picture-postal from the Fountain House
Hotel in the Yellowstone. It was dated on the evening when Betsy sat so
long before the fire; and it read,—

    DEAR H.:

    Cold as Xmas here.

                  B. F.

And the good man never suspected that in reality it had never been as
little cold for him in all his years of courtship as on the evening
when that postal card was bought; and that in place of the curt message
might truly have run a bit from Rosalie Vincent’s repertoire:—

    Never the time and the place,
    And the loved one, all together.

The next morning dawned bright. If Rosalie was in the breakfast-room,
Betsy did not see her.

When later she entered the back seat of the last stage, Betsy looked
about anxiously. Irving came to the step.

“Mrs. Bruce and Nixie are up there with the driver. I’m coming in with
you,” he said.

“Just wait one minute, Mr. Irving,” returned Betsy. “If—if that
young—waitress is going along with us, she’d feel—sort of embarrassed
if—”

“Well—well,”—Irving looked up into the narrow face and laughed,—“this
is the first time you ever turned me down.”

He looked about. Mrs. Nixon, Miss Maynard, and Mr. Derwent were in the
middle seat as before. The stout gentleman and another man were in the
seat in front of them.

“And you’d put me in there with four hundred pounds of tourist?” went
on Irving. “Nay, nay, Betsy. I’ll get over there in the corner beyond
you and promise to keep my place.”

“Oh, they’re going to start,” said Betsy in trepidation, “and—and she
isn’t here. Couldn’t you get him to wait, Mr. Irving? I—”

Irving swung into the stage as the horses moved.

“My dear Betsy, we’ve ceased to be individuals. We’re part of a
system,” he said as he seated himself beside her. “When the Park
authorities say this stage moves, it moves.”

Betsy leaned back, her lip caught under her teeth and her expression so
abstracted that Irving stared at her curiously.

“I do believe,” he said incredulously, “that Betsy Foster, clever
Betsy, has fallen in love.”

“How you talk!” returned his companion, recovering herself; and being
quite conscious of Rosalie and a little conscious of her fire-lit
fancies, an astonishing color rose under her sallow skin.

Irving laughed. “After all these years, our sedate Betsy—”

“How you act, Mr. Irving!”

The speaker tried not to smile, but continued to look so guilty and
red-faced that Irving’s laughter grew.

“After all these years; the heart that I thought was mine—given to a
heaver!”

“I’d like to have said good-by to her,” said Betsy. “She’s—she ain’t
the—the independent kind—and I—”

Irving looked at her kindly. “How does that big heart of yours find
room in that slender body?” he asked. “Cats and dogs and horses and
humans—it’s all one to you. You’ve taken a brief to defend them all.”

“Oh, Mr. Irving!”—Betsy looked off at the landscape,—“if I could defend
them all!”

“Why that tragic look?”

“Your words made me think again, as I so often do, that in a world full
of so much beauty as this, people are cuttin’ up live animals in the
name of science, and the law permits it.”

Irving shook his head. He had heard before Betsy’s horror-stricken
views of vivisection.

“Human life is the most precious of all,” he reminded her, now.

“Yes, but don’t just as fine physicians as any say that the unnatural
conditions in vivisection prevent any good coming from it? Yes, they
do; and supposing it _did_ do any good! Don’t most civilized people
believe in an after-life? If they’re going to live to eternity anyway,
and have got to pass through death some time, how can they be willing
to have their lives in this world prolonged a few years at the cost of
torturing innocent animals? That’s what I say. How _can_ they—and then
expect any heaven awaits _them_?”

“I haven’t thought much about it,” said Irving.

“Well, think now, then!” returned Betsy. “I know _I_’d rather die any
time than have a live dog cut up on the chance of helping to keep me
here a little longer; and I shouldn’t dare show myself before the Maker
of the dog if I wouldn’t! And everybody who doesn’t vote against it,
and work against it, deserves to see their own pets on the rack. I
guess that would bring it home to them!”

Betsy winked hard as she finished, and Irving patted her slight
shoulder.

“I haven’t the slightest doubt that you’re right, Betsy, but for a few
days we can’t do anything about it; and now let’s talk about something
that makes you happy—heavers, for instance.”

Betsy’s usually inexpressive eyes had a wistfulness in them as she
turned toward the strong face she loved. “I can’t bear to have her any
place where she could be called a heaver!” she responded.

“That young woman must be a wonder,” said Irving. “She’s the first,
I’ll wager, to make a conquest of Betsy Foster in one day!”

“Your mother’s about the only one that ever did that, Mr. Irving.”

Betsy’s eyes fell upon a chipmunk by the roadside, sitting up and
clasping its hands under its chin in the customary admiration of the
stage.

“See that little critter?” she continued. “This girl is just as
innocent as that chipmunk, and knows just as much o’ the ways o’ the
world. It goes by her; and though her heart sort o’ comes up in her
throat, she cheers up under the least kindness and is willin’ to admire
everything and everybody.”

“Well, well! What an impression in one day on my unimpressionable
Betsy!” Irving smiled, genuinely surprised by this unprecedented
interest.

“That girl was the child o’ luxury,” went on his companion,—“lost
everything, parents included, and came to be practically a servant in
the home of a poor relation. Got so persecuted by the attentions of a
skinflint man who wanted her to be _his_ drudge that she ran away, and
somehow drifted into waitin’ on hungry folks in the Yellowstone!”

Irving smiled. “She told a story well, anyway. She has missed her
vocation. Some one ought to tell her the pen is mightier than the knife
and fork.”

“It’s easy to tell the truth,” returned Betsy, nettled by his tone.

Irving laughed. “For Clever Betsy, I do believe; but for most people
always difficult, and usually unsafe.”

“H’m,” returned his companion, “this girl was tellin’ the truth and I
know it.”

Here the stage stopped and the passengers dismounted to see a pool
of great beauty which was out of sight from the road; and when they
returned, Betsy’s abstraction had vanished; and although she evidently
enjoyed Irving’s companionship on the long drive, not another word on
the subject of her companion of yesterday could be elicited from her.

Once Mr. Derwent turned around and met her eyes.

“Where is your young friend?” he asked.

Betsy shook her head. “She didn’t come,” she answered.

They had reached a point where the road forked; and Betsy’s glance was
arrested by a sign placed at the point of divergence. It read:—

“All loose and pack animals take this road.”

Her lips twitched as she turned toward Irving.

“Do you s’pose,” she asked, “that all the loose and pack animals can
read that?”



CHAPTER X

ON THE RIVERSIDE


POOLS of heavenly tints; living emerald, and beryl; boiling springs,
the scalding water bubbling with intense force; Nature’s wonders ever
varied, entertained the party on their way to the Old Faithful Inn,—the
luxurious log-cabin of the Yellowstone.

Arrived there, each one took a long breath as if it were a Mecca
reached. The examination of the curious and fascinating structure, with
the woodsy green furnishings of the log bedrooms, which carried out the
sylvan idea in all possible particulars, entertained the tourists until
they were admitted to the dining-room.

Betsy looked with rather sad eyes upon the waitresses, and suddenly her
heart gave a little jump, for unless those eyes deceived her, Rosalie
Vincent was tripping busily about at the other end of the room.

Mr. Derwent did not espy her evidently, for he led his party to another
table, and the Bruces stopped halfway down the room. Not a word said
Betsy, but her slow color rose. The crowd was great at this favorite
place. Rosalie had evidently been sent on by the earliest stage,
and Betsy shrewdly suspected that she would be kept here. She began
planning at once an evening’s visit with the girl.

Mrs. Bruce was delighted with the novelty of the Inn and so far had not
suggested any improvements.

“We must drive right after dinner to some of these wonderful places,”
she said. “Isn’t it restful to think we haven’t to rush about and
freeze to see Old Faithful, because it’s so regular! It’s a pity,
though, that it doesn’t play exactly every hour. There’s five minutes
or ten minutes over that you always have to remember.”

Irving shook his head. “These careless authorities,” he said.

Mrs. Bruce shrugged her shoulders. “I’m sure that was a very innocent
remark,” she retorted.

“Innocent to simplicity, Madama; but remember what you lose in
convenience by the present schedule, you gain in mathematical exercise.”

“I didn’t come out here for mathematical exercise,” began Mrs. Bruce;
and went on to comment on some of the beauties of the morning drive;
but Irving lost the thread of her remarks, for he happened to catch
sight of Rosalie Vincent, and looked again more closely.

Not to interrupt Mrs. Bruce’s eulogies, he touched Betsy’s hand and
motioned with his head toward the blonde waitress.

“Isn’t that the loved and lost?” he asked softly.

Betsy looked nonchalantly in the direction he indicated. “Why, so
’tis,” she said quietly.

Mrs. Bruce turned her eyeglasses upon them. “Of course if you and Betsy
want to talk, don’t mind interrupting me.”

“Thanks, Madama. I’ve been drying Betsy’s tears all the morning shed
for the loss of her blonde heaver; and I just discovered her, that’s
all. You’ll excuse me, won’t you?”

Mrs. Bruce peered near-sightedly down the hall, but saw nothing nearly
so interesting as her soup, so returned to it.

Betsy waited for Irving’s next words, expecting they might be of
recognition; but he went on eating, as he added:—

“You’d better make it a point to see her, this trip, and tell her to
try her hand at a pathetic tale for the Maiden’s Home Companion!”

Betsy gave a one-sided smile of relief. “Mrs. Bruce, you indulged this
young man too much a spell back. He’d ought to been disciplined ’fore
’twas too late.”

“That from you!” returned Mrs. Bruce complacently. “You never wanted me
even to contradict him.”

After dinner the men of the party put the four women into a wagon,
whose driver was warranted to let Mrs. Bruce lose nothing which could
be seen and heard in one afternoon, and started off for a tramp.

Their first pause was at the exquisite liquid flower known as the
Morning Glory Pool. The wondrous color and shape of this spring held
them long. Some one, either with a wish to test its depth, or desiring
to furnish the blue morning glory with a pistil, had dropped a stick
into its centre.

Irving smiled at his own thoughts. “The driver is lucky if Madama
doesn’t make him get out and fish for that stick,” he thought.

After their ramble of an hour the friends halted near the Riverside
Geyser, where the gathering crowd indicated that it would soon spout.

In moving about for desirable points of vantage, Mr. Derwent and Robert
Nixon became separated from Irving, who from his greater height was
satisfied with his position behind a knot of persons on the river bank.
Among them was a young girl with her back to him. She was bareheaded
and wore a white gown. Irving looked twice idly at her because her hair
was pretty, and then noticed that a couple of soldiers, off duty, spoke
to her and that she tried to repel them.

“Come now, Goldilocks,” said one of them ingratiatingly, in his hoarse
voice, “wasn’t I introduced to you all right at Norris? Don’t be stuck
up.”

He came closer, with open admiration. The girl made some soft reply,
then turned, and there was no mistaking the look, half of annoyance and
half of fear, in her childlike face.

Irving stepped forward instinctively, and recognized Betsy’s friend. He
had noticed in the dining-room that the girl bore a resemblance to some
one he had seen, but he had not been able to locate it.

“O Mr. Bruce!” she ejaculated involuntarily, coming nearer as if for
protection.

The soldiers saw him lift his hat, and fell back.

“Rosalie—Miss Vincent—is it you?” said Irving, all Betsy’s interest and
concern explained in a flash.

She shrank away. “I—I didn’t mean to speak to you,” she said naïvely;
and she cast down her eyes with an expression which sent a thrill of
compassion across the man’s heart-strings. He remembered Mrs. Pogram’s
lachrymose tale, and Betsy’s romance of the morning. “I was afraid Mrs.
Bruce would be offended to find me here, after all she has done for
me,” went on Rosalie, her heart beating fast; “but—but I couldn’t help
it.”

The artless words and the graceful, culprit attitude were appealing.

“I saw you in the dining-room, but didn’t remember you at first,”
answered Irving. “I dare say you wouldn’t have chosen this work, but I
hope you are getting some pleasure out of it.”

Rosalie shook her head. “It is very beautiful, and—and it wouldn’t be
lonely if there weren’t any—any people about; but I don’t know how to
get on very well with—with the others.”

Irving glanced over toward the young soldiers who were alive to
Rosalie’s tête-à-tête. He could imagine that this golden head, on
which the mountain sun was glinting, would be a shining mark for local
admiration. Betsy’s disturbed feeling was becoming better understood
with every moment.

“I had an hour to myself and I wanted so much to see this geyser play.
I didn’t wait for my hat or anything. I just ran.” Rosalie put her hand
to her bare head, apologetically.

“I’ve great curiosity to see this one, too,” replied Irving. “Why
don’t we sit down till the show begins?” He indicated a spot on the
greensward where a tree cast its shadow, for the afternoon sun was
ardent.

“Please don’t think you must stay with me,” responded the girl, with
a timid, grateful smile which made her prettier than ever. “I’m not
really at all afraid of those soldiers. Perhaps I did meet them with a
waitress at Norris who knows them all; and they don’t mean any harm.”

“I dare say not; but sit down, Miss Rosalie. It’s as good a place to
wait as any.”

So she obeyed, quite frightened and happy. Frightened because she did
not know what moment her powerful benefactress might appear on the
scene, and happy because—because—well, she had during two whole seasons
admired Irving Bruce from afar and looked very wistfully at the girls
who shared his summer fun; and now he was disposing his large person
near her on the grass as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

“You and Betsy Foster had a long séance yesterday in the stage, didn’t
you?” he said, leaning on his elbow and looking up into the blue eyes
that he could see were not quite at ease.

“Yes, indeed. Oh, what it was to get hold of Betsy’s hand and sit
beside her all the morning!”

“Why didn’t she tell Mrs. Bruce and me that one of our old neighbors
was in our party?”

“She knew,” Rosalie flushed, “that I dreaded to have Mrs. Bruce know
it.”

“Why? I can’t imagine why.”

“Because Mrs. Bruce helped me so much, and meant me to do something
so different. She gave me a course in English in the fine school at
Lambeth, and she had a right to expect I would be teaching, and doing
her kindness credit.”

“Time enough for that in the fall, I should think.”

“But I haven’t any position. I had no way to—to live until—I could get
one.” The speaker averted her face, not so quickly but that Irving saw
the blue eyes were swimming.

Had Rosalie been the most artful of girls she could not have planned
words and actions more effective to win the championship of Mrs.
Bruce’s son, knowing as he did the history of her flight.

“I met Mrs. Pogram a few weeks ago in Fairport,” he replied. “She told
me of her loss of you.”

Rosalie did not speak. She furtively wiped her eyes.

“Does Mrs. Pogram know where you are?”

“No. It seems unkind, for I know she is fond of me; but I promised her
that if I were in any trouble I would write her; and if she knew where
I was, her brother would know, and I—I can’t endure him!” The girl
finished with a flash of energy.

“You show faultless taste,” returned Irving. “Don’t be afraid of Mrs.
Bruce. She won’t expect you to be teaching English in the Yellowstone.”

“They have an English of their own,” returned Rosalie. “Probably if you
knew what I am, you wouldn’t be talking to me as if I were a summer
girl.”

Her faint smile suddenly shone upon him, for she felt he meant to
placate Mrs. Bruce.

Irving laughed. “I do know something of the Park lingo. You’re taking
another course in English, that’s all.”

“Yes, I am.”

Rosalie suddenly thought of Miss Hickey and wondered what that young
person would say if clairvoyance could show her this picture on the
river bank.

“What are your plans, if it’s a fair question?” Irving asked.

“I haven’t any, Mr. Bruce.” Again the anxious look in the blue eyes.
“Of course, I finish the season in the Park. If I don’t, I forfeit my
expenses being paid to return.”

“Did they bring you ’way from Portland?”

“No, from Chicago.”

“Ah!” Irving raised his eyebrows, but asked no question. “You mustn’t
let us lose sight of you,” he added.

“That’s very kind. What I have felt was that I mustn’t let you catch
sight of me,” returned the girl naïvely. “I wasn’t afraid of you,
Mr. Bruce, for I didn’t think you’d remember me at all; and—I do so
appreciate your kindness.”

Irving looked at her with considering eyes. Her half-timid,
half-respectful manner was novel, and the little burst of gratitude
with which she finished was most agreeable. He recalled that Betsy had
said that this girl, apparently so alone in the world, had been born
and reared in luxury. With the eye of a connoisseur he regarded her
now, and pictured what a triumphant march her girlhood would have been
had she remained in the class of Fortune’s favorites.

Meanwhile Mr. Derwent and Robert Nixon, threading their way among
the waiting knots of sightseers, approached the spot where the above
conversation was taking place.

Mr. Derwent was first to perceive the pair.

“See there, Robert,” he said, with his crisp, short manner of speech.
“I think we’ve seen only one head that matches the Yellowstone?”

His nephew followed the direction of the other’s fixed gaze.

“Well, I’ll—be—” he began, “if there isn’t Brute, fussing our heaver.”

Mr. Derwent laid a restraining hand on the arm of his companion, who
made an instant move in his friend’s direction.

“Not a bit of it,” replied Robert, close to his uncle’s ear. “It’s up
to us to rescue her. She isn’t _his_ heaver.”

“She doesn’t look as if she wished to be rescued,” remarked Mr.
Derwent; and the concern in his face moved his irreverent nephew to
merriment.

“You see Hebe isn’t a goddess, after all,” he remarked into the rubber
device which hung about his uncle’s neck. “Just a nice, every-day
heaver; and her hair’s caught Brute. Let’s go and see.”

Mr. Derwent’s face was impassive as he followed. The childlike eyes and
the modest demeanor of the pretty waitress had greatly attracted him.
He was sorry to find her like this.

Bruce sprang to his feet as they approached. He read mischief in
Robert’s eyes, and his own were unresponsive.

Robert nodded and grinned cheerfully at Rosalie before Irving could
get possession of what Robert termed his uncle’s rubber ear. Then he
said with a distinctness intended to awe and repress Nixie, “I have
found an old friend, Mr. Derwent. A young lady whose home is where we
go in summer. Let me present you to Miss Vincent.”

Robert reconstructed his countenance as well as he could, and Mr.
Derwent’s face cleared as he raised his hat. “Mr. Nixon, Miss Vincent,”
went on Irving severely.

“I have waited on these gentlemen,” said the girl, looking at Mr.
Derwent.

“You deserted our stage this morning,” he answered, and deliberately
dropped upon the grass beside Rosalie, while she explained, blushing,
how she had been hurried on early because of the crowds.

“Pooh!” said Robert aside to Irving. “Old friend of yours?” He snapped
his fingers. “Piffle! Likewise gammon. She’s fed us for two days.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” responded Irving stiffly. “Otherwise I couldn’t
quite understand your greeting of her as you came up.”

Robert laughed unrestrainedly. “Just got off with my skin, eh?”

“She’s all alone out here,” said Irving, flushing under the sincerity
of his friend’s merriment, but continuing to scowl.

“She is, eh?” returned Nixie. “Then all I have to say is she must be
the author of that spooky declaration, ‘I’m never less alone than when
alone.’ See there,” motioning with his head toward an advancing group
of women, “there come the rest of us. We can’t lose ’em.”



CHAPTER XI

FACE TO FACE


THE ladies had left their wagon, to move about and break the long drive
by the view of the Riverside Geyser in action. As they approached their
friends, Mrs. Nixon put up her lorgnette.

“Isn’t that my brother sitting there on the grass?” she asked.

“Certainly it is, and there are the boys,” rejoined Mrs. Bruce with
satisfaction, hastening her steps.

Behind them followed Betsy Foster and Miss Maynard.

“To whom is Henry talking?” asked Mrs. Nixon. “Why,—why, Mrs. Bruce!
I never knew him to do anything so strange! It’s that waitress—that
waitress that came on with us in the stage.”

“I didn’t notice her,” returned Mrs. Bruce. “I was always sitting in
front.”

“She has waited on us at the hotels,” said Mrs. Nixon, and her tone
grew colder. “Men are so thoughtless. I liked the girl so much. I was
seriously thinking of making an arrangement with her for the fall—”

Here, as they had come within speaking distance, Mrs. Nixon’s lips
closed. Mr. Derwent’s necessarily devoted attitude as he now tried to
catch something Rosalie was saying settled the matter with Mrs. Nixon,
and lost the girl her chance of an assured winter home.

Mrs. Bruce stared curiously at the bare golden head; and Miss Maynard
and Betsy, following, descried Mr. Derwent and the waitress at the same
moment.

“Rosalie!” said Helen Maynard, under her breath.

“Do you know her?” asked Betsy, in surprise.

“Yes. We were at school together.”

Betsy’s footsteps quickened, for she felt vaguely that Rosalie might
indeed need protection now.

Mrs. Bruce began speaking with her usual energy.

“I’m so glad we’re in time, Irving. I told that driver if he didn’t
get us back at the right moment to see this geyser play, he’d never be
forgiven. We’ve been to the oddest place called Biscuit Basin; a great
pool just covered with nicely browned biscuit. It made one hungry to
look at them. But the hot water we splashed through to get there! I
shall be boiled yet in this place.”

The moment Rosalie caught sight of Mrs. Bruce, she sprang to her feet
with supple swiftness. Mr. Derwent deliberately arose and met his
sister’s disapproving eyes imperturbably. He put on the hat which for
coolness he had been holding on his knee.

Rosalie flushed and paled and met Betsy’s eyes so entreatingly that the
latter stepped forward by her employer’s side.

At that moment Mrs. Bruce for the first time gave her attention to the
young girl.

“Why!” she said, and hesitated.

Irving knew that she was trying to place the memory of an individual
who had once interested her.

“It is Miss Rosalie Vincent, Madama,” he said quietly. “She surprised
me a few minutes ago.”

“It _is_ Rosalie,” said Mrs. Bruce; and approaching, she shook hands
with the girl she had befriended. In the same moment her alert mind
recalled all that Mrs. Nixon had just said.

A waitress. The waitress who had traveled in their stage. The waitress
with whom Betsy had talked yesterday.

Her manner cooled. The pupils of her eyes narrowed.

“I am surprised to see you here,” she said.

“I knew you would be,” was all the girl could answer, and her face
burned.

Betsy spoke. “You wondered where her wings would carry her, Mrs. Bruce,
and now you see. Good strong wings, you’ll agree, to go ’way across the
continent.”

Rosalie lifted her eyes to her friend.

Mr. Derwent could not hear what was being said, but he gathered from
the attitude of his sister and Mrs. Bruce and the painful crimson of
Rosalie’s face, that some arraignment was taking place.

“I suppose even the best of women are cats at heart,” he reflected;
then he spoke aloud. “Miss Vincent and I have been making discoveries.
Her father was a connection of our family, and on the Glee Club with me
at college.”

“Henry!” Mrs. Nixon seized the rubber disk that hung at his vest and
spoke across it firmly. “I have just heard a man say that the geyser
is beginning to play. Let us go closer to the bank.”

She took her brother’s arm and led him away. Mrs. Bruce did the same
with Irving, who exchanged one glance with Betsy over her head as he
yielded.

Robert followed with Miss Maynard, and Betsy put her arm around Rosalie.

“Now then, that’s over,” she said.

The girl’s eyes were still dilated and she did not speak.

Betsy gave her a gentle shake. “Brace up, Rosalie. Don’t be such
a trembling little bird. Your soul’s your own.—Oh, my! Isn’t that
wonderful!” For the geyser now burst forth with a rushing volume of
water which rose and arched across the river at a height of eighty feet.

Betsy and Rosalie hastened down the bank beyond the crowd, where they
had a full view of the aerial waterfall sparkling in the sunshine as it
plunged foaming into the river.

When the exhilarating show was over, Betsy turned to her companion.

“There! Ain’t that worth a good bit o’ sacrifice to see?”

The girl’s hands were clasped on her breast, and her eyes shining.

“You look as admirin’ as a chipmunk,” said Betsy; and they both laughed.

“Oh, supposing we were alone out here, Betsy! Wouldn’t it be
beautiful!” sighed the girl.

“’Twould, as sure as you’re born; but we ain’t bondholders, so we have
to work our way, both of us; and it’s worth it. That’s what I say, and
that’s what I want you to feel.”

“I wouldn’t mind if no one else minded,” said Rosalie meekly.

“Don’t mind, anyway,” returned Betsy stoutly. “That’s what I was just
sayin’. Your soul’s your own—”

“But she spent so much money on me.”

“How much?”

“I don’t know; but if I could pay it back, and needn’t care how her
eyes look—”

“Very likely you will pay her some day. Meanwhile keep a stiff upper
lip. Don’t act as if you’d done anything wrong, ’cause you haven’t.”

“I’m not clever,” mourned Rosalie. “Look at Helen Maynard. See what she
has done. She was a poor girl, too. She was older than I, and we seldom
met at school; but she studied practical things. I was so happy, and
my teachers so delightful, but what did it fit me for?”

“Nothin’, and I knew it,” responded Betsy bluntly.

“It made life brighter and fuller,” said Rosalie, and her eyes looked
away to where Betsy knew she could not follow. Her old idea of the
princess in exile returned upon her with force as she gazed at the
girl, for Rosalie drew herself up unconsciously; leafy shadows lay
in her pensive eyes and brocaded her white gown, while an arrow of
sunlight gilded the braided coronet of her hair.

“Although I went back to washing Mrs. Pogram’s dishes, I didn’t live
in that kitchen,” she went on softly. “There were great fields—green
fields and pastures new, where my thoughts went roving.”

They both kept silence for a space; then Rosalie came back from her
short day-dream and met her friend’s eyes. “I don’t think I have a bad
disposition?” she said questioningly.

“I’ve never seen any signs of it,” returned Betsy dryly.

“There are moments when I wish I had borne with Loomis. One of them was
when Mr. Derwent said he had known my father; and Mrs. Nixon looked at
me from such a lofty height!” The girl’s cheeks burned again.

Betsy heaved a quiet sigh. “There’s only one thing the matter with you,
Rosalie.” As she spoke, Betsy ran her fingers down the girl’s backbone,
and the latter squirmed away. “It’s your spine.”

“What’s the matter with it?” asked Rosalie, startled.

“I don’t know; but ’tain’t stiff enough.” Betsy smiled faintly into her
companion’s puzzled face. “Seems sort o’ tough to be born a vine, and
then not be given a thing to cling to.” She shook her head. “You was
born a vine, Rosalie, and now that the supports have been pulled out,
you can either trail along the ground where every passer-by is likely
to step on you, or you can reach around till you find a new support for
yourself.”

She paused, and Rosalie looked troubled and thoughtful.

“Vines ain’t left altogether helpless,” went on Betsy. “They’re
given lots o’ tendrils, and they lay hold o’ the queerest and most
unpromising things sometimes and begin to pull themselves up.”

“But who wants to be a parasite!” exclaimed Rosalie. “They destroy!”

“A wholesome vine only benefits,” answered the other; “and it mustn’t
be content with shrinkin’ along the ground and invitin’ everybody to
step on it, and hurt it. Even a vine has its own sort of backbone, its
own power, and it hasn’t a thing to fear. It’ll find its place to climb
if it looks up and not down.”

“There’s one trellis I wish I could have,” said Rosalie wistfully,
gazing at her friend, “and its name is Betsy Foster.”

“Come now, Rosalie; that’s pretty hard.” The older woman’s lips
twitched. “I’ve got some flesh on my bones.”

“O Betsy! Dear Betsy!” burst forth the girl lovingly. “Clever Betsy, as
Captain Salter calls you.”

“You know Hiram, do you?”

“Yes, indeed; and when I first came to Fairport,—it was the winter
before Mrs. Bruce sent me to school,—he told me about you, and told me
you’d be there in summer with this rich family, and that if I could get
you for a friend it would be the best thing that could happen to me;
and it has been, Betsy—except that it did give me that bitter-sweet
school experience.” The girl put her arm around her companion. “Captain
Salter told me so much about you—how you had always managed to do for
people in the village. He thinks you’re a wonder.”

Miss Foster started to speak, but changed her mind and merely grunted.
Then, after a silent moment of endurance of the girl’s embrace, she
changed the subject.

“Unwind that tendril now,” she said, taking Rosalie’s hand and moving
her away; “and be careful, child, who you do reach out to,” she added
seriously.

“Oh, are you going, Betsy?” exclaimed the girl, troubled.

The woman hesitated. “You let me go tell Mrs. Bruce that I’ll walk back
to the hotel so they won’t wait for me. They’re probably all in the
wagon by this time, and wonderin’ where I am.”

“I’ll wait right here,” returned Rosalie eagerly, and she stood
watching Betsy’s retreating figure with wistful eyes.

Miss Foster presented herself in the group who were waiting for the
carriage, and announced to Mrs. Bruce her wish to walk back to the
hotel.

[Illustration: BETSY! DEAR BETSY!]

“With that girl, I suppose,” said Mrs. Bruce, scorn in her voice. “Do
as you please, Betsy. I’ve certainly had one more lesson in letting
well enough alone. It is likely she never would have grumbled with her
bread and butter and left Mrs. Pogram, if I had not been the means of
putting ideas into her head. I’m obliged to admit that you were right,
Betsy, when you talked to me about it a few weeks ago.” Mrs. Bruce gave
a little sigh. “I wish I weren’t so warm-hearted and impulsive. Doesn’t
it lead one into lots of trouble, Mrs. Nixon?”

Mrs. Nixon was of the opinion that it did; and she still held by the
arm a victim of misguided emotion. Irving and Robert had disappeared.

“Come home in the carriage with us, Henry,” she said to her captive.
“There will be a vacant place now.”

There was still wandering upon the river bank among the overhanging
trees a golden-haired dryad, whose presence caused the lady to desire
the sanctuary of the park wagon for her brother until she could have a
few words with him in private.

This she accomplished after they reached the hotel and she had lured
him out upon the large upper veranda, where reclining chairs invited
wanderers to repose in the sunshine.

Mr. Derwent recognized the symptoms of extreme solicitude for his
comfort, and smiles which were like flashes of heat-lightning. His
sister was a woman of much poise, and heat-lightning seldom portends
showers; still they had been known to arrive before the atmosphere
could clear, and he had the ordinary masculine dread of them.

After accepting the chair beside his sister which she offered to him,
he leaned back with every evidence of comfort, and his first words
adroitly changed her aggression to defense.

“You take trifles far too seriously, Marion,” he observed.

She stared, and he smilingly offered her the rubber disk.

“I don’t know what you mean,” she said.

“Oh, yes, you do.”

Mrs. Nixon compressed her lips.

“You misunderstand entirely,” she said at last. “I took a very great
fancy to that young girl.”

“It does you credit, Marion.”

“And you’ve spoiled everything,” she retorted. “I was going to arrange
to have her come to us in Boston.”

“In what capacity?”

“Waitress, of course. And now you’ve made it impossible.”

“It always would have been impossible. I couldn’t think of allowing
Gorham Vincent’s daughter to wait on our table. I highly approve of
having her come to us, however,—the charming creature.”

“What are you thinking of?”

“Why, it seems she has no one belonging to her.”

“Henry!” said Mrs. Nixon sonorously, “the home circle is sacred.”

She was greatly startled; and she looked at the insouciant face and
figure of her brother with repressed exasperation.

“It is a small circle in our case, certainly.”

“Now that Robert is at home, we shall be three,” returned the lady.

It was her house, and her home circle; and even though her wealthy
bachelor brother was its most valuable asset, she did not intend to
cede her rights.

There was a space of silence; then she spoke accusingly again.

“I have been thinking the last week, Henry, that perhaps in bringing
your stenographer on this trip, and making her of use to me also, you
have had it in mind to suggest, on our return, that _she_ remain with
us.”

Mr. Derwent’s eyes were fixed on the landscape. He did not respond at
once, and Mrs. Nixon, looking at him sharply, was in doubt whether to
interpret his silence as a guilty one.

“Marion,” he said at last, “do you often think of Alan?”

“Why—” Mrs. Nixon paused in her surprise at this irrelevancy,—“why,
yes, I do.” It was with an effort that her thought unclasped itself
from the present, to revert to the unfortunate one of the family:
the brother whose every effort to succeed in life had seemed to be
thwarted; whose children had died, and whose own life had suddenly and
unexpectedly closed before he had arrived at middle age.

Mr. Derwent’s lips compressed under his white mustache, and his
nostrils dilated.

Mrs. Nixon observed the change in his face with some dismay. She could
not remember when she had last heard him refer to their sorrow. For the
first time she realized that this was perhaps because it had gone too
deep.

He still kept his gaze ahead as he continued, in detached sentences:
“I never sympathized enough with Alan. I let him fight alone too long.
I criticised when I should have carried him. There is no torture like
that unavailing regret. Yesterday is dead, and repining is weakness.
The only atonement I can make is to look on each individual need that
presents itself before me, and ask myself what I would do now if that
need was Alan’s.”

Mrs. Nixon was silent; her folded hands tightened. She was beholding an
unsuspected wound, hidden always beneath her brother’s imperturbable
exterior; and the apparition held her tongue-tied.

They both kept silence while the shadow crept along the veranda rail.
At last Mr. Derwent spoke again in his ordinary manner, and with
deliberation.

“I have had some such thought as you suspect concerning Helen Maynard.”

“Is the girl friendless? Where has she been living?” returned Mrs.
Nixon defensively, conscious that when this subdued moment had passed,
she should find a hundred embarrassments in the prospect of housing her
brother’s stenographer.

“She has been living in a boarding-house. She has grandparents on a
farm in the country.”

Mrs. Nixon maintained an ominous silence. Her brother changed his
position, and an odd look of amusement grew in his averted eyes.

“I have made up my mind to tell you what has been a secret up to now,
Marion.”

This quiet sentence sent a stream of color over his companion’s face;
evidence of a shock that sent a wild throng of thoughts careering
through her brain.

Horrors! What was coming now? Her brother, whose fortune, as everybody
knew, was to go to Robert; her brother, whose affliction made him
averse to society! Could such a thing be as that this very narrowing of
his social life had thrown him back on the society and sympathy of the
neat, well-groomed girl, who was his right hand at the office.

Why, of course! and Mrs. Nixon called herself imbecile for never having
feared it. She reproached herself wildly for not having provided
better for his recreation. More card-parties, more reading aloud; more
sympathy in the travel-lectures he enjoyed. Oh, fool that she had been!
Probably he had escorted Miss Maynard to those very lectures, and she
had elucidated the pictures.

It took but a moment of time for all these considerations to tear
across Mrs. Nixon’s mind, and he added:—

“I think it is time now to speak of it.”

With haunting visions of card-games never played, she responded
unsteadily:—

“Pray do.”

Mr. Derwent pressed his finger-tips lightly together.

“Before I engaged Helen,” he began, “she had engaged me.”

Mrs. Nixon leaned back in her chair under pressure of faintness.

“Her grandparents came to me as a well-known lawyer and engaged me to
undertake her cause in a lawsuit regarding a large fortune. I have been
working on it for a long time, and success is in sight. The girl was
being sensibly educated, and so at last it came about that I took her
into the office for the convenience of us both.”

Mrs. Nixon’s face was a study; but her mind was not yet relieved.

“Miss Maynard is an heiress?” she asked.

“There is no doubt of it now. The red tape has been all measured off,
and only a few matters of form are left before she comes into her own.”

Mrs. Nixon sat in silence for a time.

“You know her so much better than I do, Henry,” she said at last,
tentatively.

“Yes,” Mr. Derwent gave a quiet exclamation. “She is an excellent piece
of mechanism. Her mind is as well ordered as her toilet. Not a hair out
of place.”

The speaker’s manner and tone reassured his sister so far that she
could give her thought to consideration of the girl in this new light,
and to wondering what impression her own treatment had made upon her.
Miss Maynard’s opinion would now be of importance. Mrs. Nixon was
grateful that _noblesse oblige_, and that she could never be less than
courteous to an inferior; a great convenience when one considers that
an inferior sometimes surprises with as sudden a rise into prominence
as is accomplished by a jack-in-the-box.

“And your idea, Henry—” she asked again.

“Was simply,” he answered, “that in her changed circumstances Helen
will require the guidance of some older woman. There will be no ‘back
to the farm’ for her, and I suspect that the old people will not wish
to change their manner of living.”

“Will she have very much?”

Mr. Derwent nodded. “Enough to make me glad her head is so level.”

“She must be exceedingly attached and very grateful to you,” said Mrs.
Nixon, after a thoughtful pause, during which she tried to remember
just how repressive her manner had been to her quiet companion.

“She doesn’t need to be grateful. She pays me. Helen is not impulsive.”

“You mean she has a cold nature,” returned Mrs. Nixon. “I do think,
Henry, you might have told me all this when we started out on this
trip.”

He shook his head. “It is because of a forwarded telegram which I
received here this noon that I tell you now.”

Mrs. Nixon thought again.

“And you would like her to live with us,” she said thoughtfully.

“I only suggest it. I thought if you liked her—but Helen may have other
views.”

“I see,” returned Mrs. Nixon slowly, “I see.” And she rocked in her
chair with reflections wherein her lost waitress was forgotten.



CHAPTER XII

THE FAITHFUL GEYSER


WHILE this conversation was going on, Mrs. Bruce was sitting on the
veranda below, waiting for Irving. He had promised to meet her in time
for the next performance of the Old Faithful Geyser.

While she sat there she observed Betsy and Rosalie returning to the
hotel, and her eyes narrowed as she regarded the girl’s tall slender
figure and free carriage.

“It is no wonder I was attracted,” she thought; and now that the
case had come before her again, and she had time to consider that
her beneficiary had inflicted upon her a disappointment, Rosalie’s
proved incapacity took on the proportions of ingratitude. With Mrs.
Bruce, even to suspect that her will was being thwarted was misery,
and her gaze rested coldly on the girl now. At the same moment Irving
and Robert came in sight; and Mrs. Bruce resented the fact that they
hastened to approach Betsy, as she paused to say good-by to her
companion.

The four stood a moment talking, and as Rosalie withdrew from the group
Mrs. Bruce watched Irving follow her a few steps and then lift his hat
as the girl shook her head and hurried away.

Robert, whistling loudly, ran up the steps of the hotel, and Mrs. Bruce
scarcely nodded in response to his cheerful greeting as he went into
the house.

She rose from her chair. “See the people going out there,” she said to
Irving, as he and Betsy approached. “I thought you would never come!”

“Five minutes’ grace, Madama,” said Irving, looking at his watch.
“Don’t get nervous.” Betsy started to go into the house. Irving caught
her by the arm. “Not a bit of it,” he added. “You’re going with us.”

“Thank you, Mr. Irving. I meant to go out later,” returned Betsy,
always conscious of “acquiring merit” by leaving these two by
themselves.

“I wouldn’t trust you—I wouldn’t trust you around the corner,” returned
Irving; and he kept his hold on the sleeve of Betsy’s brown silk
shirt-waist, so the three moved together out to the point of interest.

The Old Faithful has been talked about, written about, and visited so
much and so long, that there remains nothing fresh to be said; but it
is like any other classic,—perennial, exhilarating, and satisfying.

Mrs. Bruce, despite the fly in her amber, approached the mound of
geyserite with lively anticipation, and watched with absorption the
first spasmodic spurts that were flung from the crater’s mouth.

Later, when the splendid volume of hot water sprang skyward, she and
Betsy both forgot that there was a bone of contention between them.
For minutes the rushing giant fountain, falling in a cloud of foam
and spray, held itself against the azure sky; then, like a beautiful
captive returning to its dungeon, fell back lower and lower, till only
its tears coursed down the terraces they had formed, and lay in shallow
basins, whose lovely tints they did not conceal.

Mrs. Bruce, feeling that she could suggest nothing that would improve
this glorious ebullition, confined herself to exclamations.

“What a blessing there is a moon!” she said, as they turned back toward
the hotel. “I can hardly wait for to-night. Where do you suppose
the Nixons are? and that poor little Miss Maynard? If Mr. Derwent is
making her write his letters instead of coming out here, I think it’s a
perfect shame.”

“Sh! sh! Madama,” said Irving. “Let everybody be innocent until he’s
proved guilty. Go into the house now and lie down, and let the world go
wrong for a little while.”

“I can’t quite make Miss Maynard out, Irving. I tried to talk with her
a number of times on our drive this afternoon, because I must say Mrs.
Nixon is so very quiet I feel sorry for the girl; but she always was
abstracted, and every time I spoke to her she seemed to have to bring
her thoughts back from somewhere.”

“From _him_, perhaps,” suggested Irving.

“Well, perhaps so. I never thought of that.” Mrs. Bruce shook her head.
“Deliver me from sightseeing with a girl who is in love!”

Irving smiled. “I know I’m never coming to a place like this unless
_she_ is here, too.”

“Oh, Irving, don’t! That awful time will have to come, I suppose, but
don’t ruin this lucid interval by talking about it.”

The young man seldom indulged in any covert interchange with Betsy, but
now his eyes sparkled with fun as he caught his old friend’s eye.

“Such a mother-in-law as you will make, Madama!” he exclaimed devoutly.

“That depends,” returned Mrs. Bruce complacently. “If you let me pass
upon the girl before you commit yourself, I shall do my best.”

“What pretty hair you must have had when you were twenty,” said Irving
irrelevantly, after a pause, regarding the fair head at his shoulder,
for Mrs. Bruce was carrying her hat in her hand.

“I don’t care for that left-handed compliment at all,” she replied with
spirit. “It’s pretty now.”

“It is, for a fact; but wasn’t it still lighter, more golden, when you
were twenty?”

“Yes, it was perfectly lovely,” she returned. “The years play us all
sorts of mean tricks, but one of the meanest is darkening one’s hair.
It was lovely at the time I was married; but at that time I suppose you
didn’t care whether I wore hair or corn-silk!”

“Corn-silk,” repeated Irving abstractedly. “That’s what it’s like.
Corn-silk.”

“It isn’t, you flatterer,” returned Mrs. Bruce, with a little
conscious laugh; and she gave a triumphant side-glance at Betsy, who
kept eyes ahead, fearing every moment that her mistress’s complaisance
would receive a shock in the comprehension of Irving’s drift.

He understood the meaning of a swift glance suddenly sent him by Miss
Foster, and began to whistle, softly.

As they neared the hotel he spoke. “Come to my room for a minute,
Betsy, please. I need some sewing up, and I’ll give it to you so you
can take it over and sit by Mrs. Bruce to see that she obeys my order
to take a nap.”

Mrs. Bruce regarded him affectionately and went with docility to
the greenwood of her bedroom; and Betsy, with no change of feature,
followed Irving to his. When they were inside, he closed the door,
seated Betsy in a green rocker, and put himself astride a straight
chair.

“You know very well,” said Betsy uneasily, “that if I stay, Mrs. Bruce
will come over here.”

“No, she won’t,” returned Irving, “for the best of reasons. She doesn’t
know which room I have.”

“Well, give me your things quick,” said Betsy.

“Why are you afraid, all of a sudden?”

“I—” returned Betsy, hesitating, “I want to—to keep her happy.”

“Not for your own sake, I’ll bet.”

“No. Give me your things, Mr. Irving.”

The young man did not move. “Betsy,” he said, “she _mustn’t_ stay here.”

“Who mustn’t stay where?” she returned, reddening.

“You heard Mr. Derwent say that they were related,” went on Irving.

“You think,” said Betsy, with rare sarcasm, “she’d be in better
business writin’ stories for some fireside paper, or imposin’ on folks’
credulity?”

Her companion magnanimously overlooked the thrust.

“She’s too fine from head to foot, physically, and too fine in her
innocence, to be touched with anything rough. She mustn’t stay here.”

“Who’s to prevent it?” asked Betsy quietly, though Irving was
unconsciously rewarding her for much of her devotion.

“I am.”

“That ain’t possible.”

“Not only possible, but easy. Give her the money to go back to
Portland to stay till we come. She’ll never know it’s mine.”

“No, sir! I won’t do that. She’d never take so much money as that from
me, and I’d have to tell her the truth. She’s just possessed to pay
Mrs. Bruce back, as it is. She’d rather work in their Park years than
not do it.”

Irving made an impatient sound, and Betsy shook her head.

“Mrs. Bruce is awful down on her. You’ll find it out if you touch the
subject any lower’n her hair. I know the symptoms.”

“Well, what are you going to do, then?” asked Irving, frowning
impatiently.

Miss Foster looked back at him, full.

“That ain’t anything to any young man,” she said impressively.

“You’re going to do something, then?” he asked eagerly. “I don’t want
to go into that dining-room to-night. Do you like to see her there?”

He rose, spurned his chair, and walked up and down the log cage.

Betsy followed him with her eyes. “Look here, Mr. Irving. I love
Rosalie Vincent.”

The pedestrian stopped, and hugged the speaker’s thin shoulders.

“And I don’t want to have any feelin’ stirred up against her. If you
take any interest in her, just follow my advice, and while we’re all
together here, don’t notice her, and, above all, don’t speak about her.”

“She’s like the bit of porcelain going down the river among the earthen
jugs,” burst forth Irving.

“Then don’t throw a rock at her,” returned Betsy. “She’s got a ticklish
enough time without that. Where are your things, Mr. Irving?” Betsy
started from her chair in a sudden panic.

“Then have you any plan, Clever Betsy?” he persisted. “’Tisn’t enough
just to be fond of her and—and _mope_.”

“You sassy boy!” exclaimed Betsy, concealing her inward exultation that
Rosalie had a friend at court, albeit a dangerous one. “You mind your
business and I’ll mind mine; and it wasn’t ever to mope.”

“Good for you, you old dear! I know you’ll do something for that—that
wood-nymph.”

“Irving Bruce, give me your mendin’. Do you suppose there’ll be any
naps till I get back?”

“Tell her I had to hunt for it.”

“I won’t lie for you or anybody else.”

“I wouldn’t have you. It’s the absolute truth.” The speaker strode over
to where his suit-case lay open on the floor.

Rummaging through its contents, he fished out a white silk negligée
shirt and quickly tore it down the back.

Betsy sprang forward and cried out, but the deed was done. He pressed
the garment into her arms and opened the door.

“That was _sinful_!” she exclaimed, regarding the rent.

“Not half so bad as hurting your immortal soul?” He laughed at her long
face and pushed her gently out the door. “Remember now,” threateningly,
“if you don’t do something, I will. I’m trusting you, Betsy.”

“That’s wicked. That’s just wicked,” said Miss Foster to herself,
holding up to view the fine garment as she moved down the deserted
hall.



CHAPTER XIII

THE HEIRESS


WHEN Robert Nixon ran whistling into the hotel and took the stairs two
at a time up to his room, he met his mother just coming in from the
upper veranda, where she had had the interview with her brother.

“I want to see you, Robert,” she said, so solemnly that he looked
amused.

“Your tone takes me back to childhood’s unhappy hour,” he returned.
“Which is it to be, a spanking or the closet?”

“Come into my room a minute,” went on Mrs. Nixon.

“I do believe it’s the spanking. Say, mamma, forget it. The geyser’s
just going to spout.”

“I must speak to you first.”

“’Tisn’t fair,” objected the youth, “because you do spout more than
once an hour, you know.” But he followed his stately mother into her
room, for she looked more imposing than usual, and his curiosity was
roused.

As soon as she had closed the door she turned to him.

“Where is Miss Maynard?” she asked.

Her son’s eyebrows and shoulders both jerked upwards.

“You can search _me_,” he responded.

“Sit down, Robert.”

He obeyed the impressive order, and his mother seated herself opposite.

“What has that sleek, quiet little mouse been doing?” he asked. “I
haven’t seen her since we left the Riverside.”

“Robert, I want you to _think_, and I want you to be serious.”

“I’ll do my best, but I’m rusty in both lines.”

“I want you to tell me how my treatment of Miss Maynard has impressed
you.”

Robert whistled softly. “Offended, is she? Well, she ought to know that
you’re never effusive. I’ve tried to flirt with her a bit, and strike
an average.”

“Strike an average, Robert?” Mrs. Nixon spoke anxiously. “Tell me
directly what you mean. Did my behavior make you feel that to be
necessary?”

“Well,” the son puffed out his lips, “what with Uncle Henry’s
deafness, and your Vere-de-Vere repose, it has seemed to me at times
that it was rather dull for a maiden stowed there in the stage beside
you. I made a few essays, as I say, to jolly her, but—well, I can’t say
they were successful. One doesn’t care to have one’s sweet and cheery
conversation treated like the tunefulness of a string of sleigh-bells.
Miss Maynard invariably makes me feel the drifting snow when I try to
chirk her up.”

“She’ll be a success then,” responded Mrs. Nixon, with conviction;
and while her son stared at this comment, she went on: “I am glad of
all the civility you have shown her, Robert. It is not natural to me,
as you say, to be talkative or—or gushing, and yet I’ve always been
perfectly civil to Miss Maynard. I’m sure of that. You never noticed
anything else, did you?”

Robert looked as he felt, increasingly puzzled.

“No, mother. What’s up? Has Miss Maynard been complaining to Uncle
Henry?”

“No. _I_ complain of your Uncle Henry that he has not been frank
with me. When he suggested the convenience to him of taking his
stenographer on this trip, and said she could hook my gowns, he should
have told me that the very presentable, quiet girl I had so often seen
in his office was a probable heiress.”

“What?” Robert sat up and his voice broke into the high register. “You
don’t say so! I don’t blame him. There’s too many a slip about that
sort of possibility.”

“It’s settled,” said Mrs. Nixon solemnly. “It was settled to-day. She
_is_ one; and from what your uncle says, the fortune is large.”

Robert clasped his hands and lifted his eyes. “I’ve always admired her
nose. How much straighter it will be now!” he ejaculated devoutly.

“I insist, Robert,” said Mrs. Nixon, “I must insist for once on your
being serious. I’m very much pleased with you, and with what you tell
me, because— Well, my son, I do not need to remind you that a vulgar
person with money is a creature of no interest to me; but Miss Maynard
is a lady. I have always granted it; and now she will need advice and
directing. Her relatives live in the country, and are too elderly to
be available in any case. I should wish her to feel that she might
turn to me; and I hope nothing in my behavior on this trip has had a—a
tendency to estrange her.”

“Your conduct has been to a stranger,” returned Robert.

Mrs. Nixon lifted her head with a regal air in which there was
nevertheless anxiety.

“I suppose for the sake of making a foolish pun you would say that, and
make me uncomfortable.”

Her son laughed, and going over to where she sat, put his arms around
her unyielding form.

“Don’t worry, mother. You may be a bit cool in your methods, but you
arrive, just like a fireless cooker. How long has the heiress known of
her good fortune?”

“Just to-day. Just since noon.”

“Noon, eh? Did you see me escorting her at the Riverside show?”

“No,” replied Mrs. Nixon lugubriously. “I was too much engaged in
taking care of your Uncle Henry.”

Robert straightened up and threw his head back for a hearty laugh.

“The Yellowstone is growing exciting,” he said. “Heavers to right of
us, heiresses to left of us. Wayward brothers, and,” striking his
breast triumphantly, “wise sons!”

“Yes, Robert. You’ve done very well, I must say.”

“Miss Maynard,—you observe that I speak the name with new and due
reverence,—the heiress, I say, went to school with Hebe the heaver.”

“Is it possible?” returned Mrs. Nixon coldly. “Did—did the waitress
claim acquaintance?”

“Not a bit of it,” rejoined Robert cheerfully. “Cousin turned the
heiress down.”

“Robert, what _are_ you talking about?”

“Why, you heard Uncle Henry say we were related.”

Mrs. Nixon made an exclamation. “Why must men of all ages lose their
wits at sight of a pretty face?” she inquired of the ceiling.

“The conundrum of the ages, mamma, and I’m young yet, so I can’t tell
you; but if you hadn’t been more of a sister than a mother you’d have
watched my foresighted behavior. To tell the truth, when you glared
at Hebe there by the river, I thought she was going to cry; so when
Brute’s mother buttonholed him and you took Uncle Henry by the ear, I
sought refuge with the stenographer, though the heaver looked pretty
enough to eat. I knew Betsy would look after her.”

“They were at school together?” repeated Mrs. Nixon, wondering.

“Sure as you’re a foot high; and when the now valuable Miss Maynard
accosted Hebe at the Fountain House, the lovely heaver begged her to
forget it. There’s a story attached to her. Brute told me—”

“Yes,” interrupted Mrs. Nixon impatiently. “Mrs. Bruce told me what she
had done for her. I dare say she has found her right place. There is no
need of making a fuss over her.”

Robert shook his finger at the speaker. “Careful, careful, mother.
Supposing you should waken to-morrow morning and find that the heaver’s
uncle in India had passed to his fathers, and that Miss Vincent was
likely to require the advice of an experienced chaperon.”

Mrs. Nixon waved this nonsense aside with a gesture, and returned to
the subject in hand.

“I think the thing for me to do is to find Miss Maynard now, tell her
that Mr. Derwent has informed me of her good fortune, and congratulate
her.”

Robert rubbed his hands together with a malevolent and gleeful laugh.
“Can’t you hide me behind the screen and send for her?” he begged.

Mrs. Nixon had risen and now drew herself up.

“What, pray, do you think would be so amusing about it? Do you think
your mother would be less than dignified?”

“No, no, honey,” rejoined her irreverent son, forcibly taking her
reluctant hands. “I was only thinking of witnessing a friendly
interview between an icicle and a stalactite.” He chuckled again and
clapped the maternal hands together, totally against the maternal will.

“You may go now, Robert, and—and, go on as you have begun.” She pushed
him toward the door. “You say the geyser is playing?”

“Was playing.”

“Well, we must all see it the next time. Good-by, dear.”

Closing the door behind him, the lady returned to her mirror and gave
her hair some touches.

Then she started again to the door with intent to seek her “companion.”

As she reached it, she was met by a knock.

She opened and came face to face with the object of her thoughts.

“Come in, come in, Miss Maynard,” she said, and there was a noticeable
cordiality in her voice.

The trim girl, with her symmetrical little face and smooth brown hair,
stepped just inside the door.

“I came to see if you wished to change your gown before tea.”

“I am not going to change it to-day. Come in. I wished to see you.
Mr. Derwent has been telling me of your good fortune. I wish to
congratulate you.”

There was no elation or change of manner in the quiet girl as she
replied:—

“Thank you. Mr. Derwent has done fine work for me. You don’t wish my
help, then?”

Mrs. Nixon hesitated. She knew that yesterday she would have said no,
and closed the door, and she knew that Helen Maynard knew it; so though
she desired to beg her to be seated for a chat, she indulged in no such
stupidity.

“Did you see the geyser play?” she asked. “The Old Faithful?”

“No.” Helen Maynard had indeed been in her own room, careless of
scenery, absorbed in the considerations that had held her captive since
Mr. Derwent had shown his telegram.

“My son says it has just played. Let us not miss the next show.”

“Do you wish me to come for you?”

The question was put in precisely the same tone and manner that Helen
would have used yesterday, and Mrs. Nixon admired her poise.

“Thank you. I am going down into the office. I shall be glad to see the
geyser with you when the time comes.”

Helen Maynard turned away, and a cynical little smile grew on her lips.
Mrs. Nixon had tried nobly to keep her usual manner unchanged; but
despite herself there was a warmth there unknown before, and Helen was
alert to perceive it.

The girl hummed an air from “Faust” as she ran down the stairs of the
gigantic log-cabin. It was the “Calf of Gold” that she sang.

She was, as Mr. Derwent had said, a very level-headed young woman,
and under the present circumstances kept her joyous excitement under
control; but she was alive in every fibre to the change in her life
which these six figures to her credit were about to make.

She had faced all that failure would mean; faced the prospect of a
narrow life on the farm, or a struggling life in the city. In either
case a life of early-to-bed and early-to-rise routine, against which
all her tastes rebelled.

With the relaxation from strain had come a certain intoxication;
but pride kept the girl externally calm. The patronizing Mrs. Bruce
would scrutinize her now through those eye-glasses. She should never
have a chance to say, “Set a beggar on horseback!” Irving Bruce
would, perhaps, become aware of her existence. She exulted in the
steadiness with which she had held Robert Nixon at a distance with
his amiable raillery. She had done this from politic motives, knowing
that if she were to remain in Mrs. Nixon’s good graces, only so could
it be accomplished; but now it increased her satisfaction in the
consideration of the subtle change in that lady’s manner toward her.

What a gulf now between herself and her acquaintance of Lambeth days!
Mr. Derwent’s interest in Rosalie had merely served to get her into
trouble.

Years ago on the farm Miss Maynard’s grandmother had said to her
husband:—

“Helen’s dreadfully high-headed. I don’t know whatever’ll become of her
if she gets all that money.”

More than a slight mixture of contempt pervaded her thoughts of Rosalie
now. No combination of circumstances would ever have forced _her_ to
wait on tourists in the Yellowstone. It did not raise the poor young
waitress in Miss Maynard’s regard that Mr. Derwent had been attracted
by her, and even claimed relationship. In that particular she shared
Mrs. Nixon’s annoyance. Helen thought she might herself do something
for Rosalie some day if the girl were really helpless, or had some sad
reason for not desiring recognition.

In a few short hours Miss Maynard had floated up from the stratum
occupied by the under-dog to the vantage-ground of the powerful, and
her heart exulted.

As soon as she saw the Bruces she knew that they had heard the news.
Mrs. Bruce approached her with an alert manner.

“I’m delighted to hear of your good fortune, Miss Maynard,” she said
briskly; and Helen thanked her demurely.

“Do you hurry back to Boston?” added the lady.

“Oh, no,” returned Helen quietly. “Mr. Derwent needs his stenographer
as much as ever. I am not his only client.”

“I suppose not. Ha, ha, pretty good! Well, my dear Miss Maynard, I wish
you all prosperity. I’ve always been attracted to you.”

“I do think, Irving,” said Mrs. Bruce to her son as they sat at supper,
“it’s the strangest thing in the world to see so young a person
absolutely stoical at such a time. If it had happened to me at her age
I should have called upon everybody to rejoice with me!”

“Probably she is to the manner born,” returned Irving absent-mindedly.
His thoughts were with the fair-haired girl whose round slender arms
were bearing a tray across the dining-room.

“That is no work for Miss Vincent,” he observed tentatively.

“I don’t think we know,” returned Mrs. Bruce coolly.

“You said once,” remarked Betsy quietly, “that Rosalie was an artist;
that you always knew ’em when you saw ’em. It does seem queer work for
an artist.”

Mrs. Bruce stared at her companion in surprise.

“Well, whose fault is it, I should like to know. She did have some
talent. I tried to have it cultivated, but evidently she was too
superficial. People find their level. You can’t help it.”

Betsy gave Irving such a repressive look that he swallowed some remark
which had reached the end of his tongue. Then, again opening his lips,
he gave Mrs. Bruce a _résumé_ of what had happened to her protégée
since her befriending of the girl.

“Well, why shouldn’t she have married Mrs. Pogram’s brother?” she
returned carelessly.

“He is a cad, I tell you,” returned Irving, manfully repressing his
rising wrath.

“Well,” Mrs. Bruce shrugged her shoulders, “the girl is a beggar. She
can’t choose.”

The light that suddenly sparkled in Irving’s eyes made Betsy hasten to
speak.

“You said when we were talkin’ about it that time, that it was a pity
for girls who had those talents to get married. I guess Rosalie feels
herself she has some talent.”

“Yes,” returned Mrs. Bruce, busily eating, and unconscious of the
storm brewing beside her, “a talent for,” she laughed,—“heaving. She’s
just a pretty doll, and it is amazing what fools a pretty face will
make of men of all types and ages.” Mrs. Bruce laughed gleefully. “I
shan’t forget Mrs. Nixon’s eyes when she saw her brother sitting on the
grass and apparently making love to the girl. Now, take Miss Maynard,
there’s strength and poise in the very lift of her head.” Mrs. Bruce
looked across at the Nixon table approvingly. “I do hope, Irving, you
will take a little pains to become acquainted with Miss Maynard. I
understand the girl’s reserve now and her abstraction. I asked Robert
if he and his mother had known about it, and he said they had not; but
I’m not so sure about _him_;”—the speaker shook her head astutely;—“he
has been very civil to the girl ever since we started.”

“Heavens! is that a sign?” exclaimed Irving testily.

Mrs. Bruce looked around at him and raised her eyebrows. “Why not,
cross-patch? He is his mother’s son, and she has nearly refrigerated
her poor companion. I’ve been quite nice to her.” Mrs. Bruce returned
to her omelet complacently. “It will make things pleasant now.
Everybody is looking forward so to seeing the colored lights thrown on
the geyser to-night. I think it would be nice of you, Irving, to take
Miss Maynard out to see it. There’s a moon, too.”

“It would be very nice of me,” returned the young man savagely.
“Colored lights on the geyser! I wonder if they paint lilies out here!”

He pushed his chair back from the table. “Will you and Betsy excuse me,
Madama;” and without further apology Irving left the table and went out
to the office, where on four sides of the great chimney were blazing
generous open fires, that could roast an ox.

Mrs. Bruce turned to her companion.

“What has put Mr. Irving out of sorts?” she asked.

Betsy ate very busily. “’Tain’t best to notice his moods, Mrs. Bruce.
You know that was always the best way to treat him.”

Mrs. Bruce looked across again at the Nixon table and laughed
maliciously. “This isn’t Mrs. Nixon’s lucky day,” she said. “First her
brother has to be lured from a siren, and then she has the shock of
discovering that she has been entertaining an heiress unawares! Poor
Mrs. Nixon! It will be sport to watch her now.”



CHAPTER XIV

THE LOOKOUT


IN the comings and goings through the halls and veranda of the charming
inn, Irving Bruce managed to lose his stepmother and find Betsy Foster,
greatly to the latter’s confusion; for it was time for the evening
performance of the geyser.

Irving took his old friend by the arm. “You’re going out there with me,
Betsy,” he said.

“Not without Mrs. Bruce, I ain’t.”

“Yes, you are. We’re going to stray in the moonlight together.”

“If you ever had another guess comin’ you’ve got it now, Mr. Irving,”
declared Betsy firmly. “You find Mrs. Bruce right off.”

Irving sighed and succumbed. Finding his adorer was an easy matter, and
he did so without more ado. They joined the throng that moved toward
the geyser, and as good fortune would have it, were in time to find one
seat on the benches where Mrs. Bruce and Mrs. Nixon could sit together.
Then Irving unostentatiously withdrew, and again catching Betsy by
the arm took her a few paces away. The silvery light of the clear moon
bathed the cool mountain night.

“What have you decided to do, Betsy?” he asked.

“I suppose you mean Rosalie.”

Irving gave the thin arm an impatient shake.

“Well,” said Betsy coolly, “I haven’t decided.”

“If you don’t do something, I shall.”

“You ain’t qualified,” remarked Betsy curtly.

“Are you?” retorted her companion. “That thing mustn’t be allowed to go
on. That waitress business! That lovely flower subjected to orders and
winks and tips. I won’t stand it.”

“Well now, you can’t do a thing!” declared Betsy firmly.

“Are you going to?”

“I am, in my own time and way.”

“Does your own time and way include letting Rosalie work the rest of
the season?”

“Perhaps,” said Betsy tersely. “You mustn’t interfere, Mr. Irving.
You’ll only do harm.”

Irving gave an exclamation. “There is one thing I can do: go away
to-morrow. I’m not going to stay here and watch it.”

“But Mrs. Bruce—” began Betsy, troubled.

“Can do as she pleases,” put in Irving. “I’ll go to Yellowstone Lake
and fish till she gets ready to follow.”

“Oh, oh, oh! Mr. Irving!”

The exclamation was of joy, for in the earnestness of their talk Betsy
had not noticed the preliminary spurts of water, and now the splendid
captive stream burst its bonds and gushed skyward in the moonlight. Its
banners of spray hung and floated cloud-like in the breeze; and while
they gazed, all at once the pure white flushed to rose, then changed to
violet, and presently a gauzy rainbow hung between earth and heaven, a
thing of supernatural beauty.

“Do you suppose _she_ is seeing this?” murmured Irving.

“Not a doubt of it,” Betsy replied promptly. She feared that any other
answer would send her companion to the commissary department of the inn.

Helen Maynard and Mr. Derwent were together watching the lovely sight
when Robert Nixon came upon them. His hands were in his pockets and
he was whistling softly, as was his wont when the performance was not
cheerfully piercing.

“May I come and stand by the rich lady?” he asked.

The geyser was just disappearing.

“How cold and blank the night seems to have turned!” said Helen
pensively.

Robert struck his breast with his doubled fist.

“Cruel maiden!” he ejaculated, “why flout me thus? Say, Miss Maynard,”
he continued, in a voice changed to interest, “do you know you can make
Uncle Henry hear better than anybody?”

“I have made a study of it,” returned the girl composedly.

Robert gazed at her admiringly. “I think it was downright fine and
heroic for Uncle Henry to crush those conspirators and get your shekels
for you. He’s going to miss you like his right hand.”

“I hope he will miss me a little.” As she spoke Helen looked up at the
fine head set so well on Mr. Derwent’s broad shoulders; at the white
mustache, and gray hair, and all the features she knew so well.

“I’ll bet she admires him,” thought Robert, following her gaze to the
impassive face. “He’s a winner. If he only had his hearing he’d make us
all take notice.”

Robert shook his head with the fleeting sympathy of prosperous youth.

The sightseers began to gravitate toward the hotel, and this trio moved
with them.

Within the inn all was warmth and light. A Brobdingnagian corn-popper
was produced, and one of the open fires being reduced to the proper
condition, a cheerful crackling began as the corn bounded high in its
ample prison.

“We’re in the land of bigness, Mrs. Nixon,” said Mrs. Bruce, as they
sat at a comfortable distance from the heat.

“Indeed, yes,” returned that lady. “I was just saying to Miss Maynard
that apparently the mountains set the pace here.”

As she spoke, Mrs. Nixon looked graciously at her companion, who
occupied a neighboring chair.

“Were you, indeed!” thought Mrs. Bruce, amused. “I’m glad you’ve found
out you can say something to the girl!”

“Irving,” she said aloud, looking up at her son as he stood, tall and
abstracted, staring into the mammoth fire, “why don’t you take Miss
Maynard up to the Lookout. There must be a glorious view from there
to-night.”

Without moving, Helen lifted her eyes to Irving and met his gloomy
regard.

“I doubt if Miss Maynard cares to ascend a perpendicular corduroy
road,” he answered. “I’m told it is eight stories up.”

“You might ask her,” remarked the girl herself, with composure.

“Surely,” laughed Mrs. Bruce. “It would be such a simple way of finding
out.”

Irving had not the grace to smile. He continued to regard the humble
companion of yesterday, the heiress of to-day, without moving.

“Would you?” he asked sententiously.

“Yes,” she replied promptly, and rose.

The proposition was so foreign to Bruce’s mood that it required a
noticeable moment for him to pull himself together sufficiently to join
the young lady with tolerable grace.

She gave him a comprehending glance as they moved toward the staircase.

“Probably all your life,” she said slowly, “you have done just what
you liked. I have never done anything I liked. I am beginning to-night.”

He looked at her in surprise.

“Yes, I know you don’t want to do this, but I do,” she added, “and
that’s all I’m going to think of. It’s my turn.”

Mrs. Nixon and Mrs. Bruce followed them with their eyes.

“What a little thing Miss Maynard is,” remarked the latter. “See, she
barely reaches Irving’s shoulder. I’ve always said he’d marry some mite
of a creature. That’s the way tall men always do, and then giraffes of
women have to mate with short ones.”

“I’m sorry Robert wasn’t here,” said Mrs. Nixon coldly. “He would
certainly have obliged Miss Maynard with a better grace.”

“Irving _is_ terribly indifferent,” returned Mrs. Bruce complacently.
“If _I_ want anything, he’s all alive at once; but when it’s a question
of any other woman—” She finished with a significant gesture.

“I have endeavored,” said Mrs. Nixon, with stateliness, “to inculcate
in Robert unvarying courtesy to all women.”

Mrs. Bruce began to grow warm under her ruching. “Yes, dear, I know,”
she replied, with a well-done sigh. “It’s so much easier when a man
hasn’t distinguished himself especially at college. These football
heroes—” she shook her head regretfully—“they do get spoiled, I admit,
and grow careless. Then they reflect very little credit on their
bringing-up. Excuse me a moment, Mrs. Nixon, I must speak to Betsy.”
And Mrs. Bruce rose gracefully and departed on her fictitious errand
rather than sustain her friend’s possible rejoinder.

“For if,” she reflected, “the woman should say anything really
_against_ Irving it would spoil the rest of the trip. The idea! He
might have treated Miss Maynard outrageously yesterday and Mrs. Nixon
wouldn’t ever have noticed it; but to-night she begrudges them a
moonlight excursion.”

Mrs. Nixon leaned back in her chair, breathing a little fast as her son
and heir approached her.

“Where were you, Robert?” she asked rebukingly.

“Pacing the deck outside. I’ve no ambition to take the leading rôle in
a barbecue.”

“It’s not so hot.”

“Well, it’s better now. Where’s Brute?”

Mrs. Nixon’s nostrils dilated. “Your very well-named friend has taken
Miss Maynard up to the Lookout,” she returned suavely. “He made it very
evident that he went under compulsion. I wished that you had been here.”

“Led him _to_ it, did she?” Robert laughed. “Good for her. I like to
see Brute coerced. And girls like to do it. She’s having the time of
her life, never fear.”

“I don’t think so. It is a very disagreeable position for a young girl
to be put in; and his manner was atrocious.”

“Mother,” Robert shook a sapient finger in her direction, “mother,
there won’t be any disagreeable positions for that young lady.”

Mrs. Nixon regarded the speaker attentively.

“She strikes me as a person who has been biding her time,” declared
Robert. “At present she has arrived; and although she doesn’t make
any fuss about it, that little hand of hers, with no rings on it, is
closing around the tail of this giddy old world, and if it doesn’t turn
to suit her, I think you’ll find her giving it a twist in the other
direction.”

“I’m certainly at a loss to know what you mean, Robert. She has always
displayed excellent taste in her position. She has been entirely quiet
and docile.”

“Quiet, yes,” replied Robert with a laugh, “but docile! That’s all you
know about it. My dear parent, mark my words. Don’t you ever imagine
that this is any _jeune fille_ case, needing protection. Miss Helen
Maynard is composed of two thirds sand and the other third grit.”

The speaker closed his eyes and nodded his head slowly in a manner to
express conviction.

“Well! I had no idea you were such a student of character.”

“Not a bit of it,” returned her son prosaically. “Never see anything
till it hits me in the nose.”

“Then I’m very dull,” returned the other with some hauteur, “for no
such thing has ever been obvious to me.”

“She’s fetching, oh, yes,” allowed Robert, “and she’ll make other
people fetch, too. It cheers me to think she’s making Brute toil up
seven flights of log-stairs to look at the moon with her.”

“She will be a success, just because she has herself so well in hand,”
declared Mrs. Nixon, unwilling to view this subject lightly. “She is
not a beauty, but well-gowned and with her self-possession she will
pass for one.”

“Oh, yes,” agreed Robert lightly.

He had thrown himself into Mrs. Bruce’s vacated chair, and there was
silence for a span while the two gazed at the fire; then the lady spoke
again, tentatively.

“However independent Miss Maynard may be, she will require a chaperon
now.”

“Yes, one well trained to follow at heel.”

“Robert, I wish you wouldn’t exaggerate so.”

“Dear me, mamma mia,” looking up in surprise at the impatient tone.
“Why should it make _you_ peevish?”

Mrs. Nixon’s reply was dignified. “Because the duty may devolve upon
me.”

“Heavens! Why?”

“Well, your uncle Henry is very much attached to the girl. He has a
natural interest in her welfare.”

“Has he asked you to look after her?”

“He has suggested that we extend the hospitality of our home to her.”

“Oh, come now!” ejaculated Robert. “When I’m to have a sister, please
select a nice pussy one with appealing eyes like—like Hebe the Heaver,
for instance.”

“There will be no sister about it,” returned Mrs. Nixon sharply.

“Mamma, mamma!” Her son turned lazily accusing eyes upon her. “Have you
ulterior motives? Are you laying any traps for your little Robbie?”

Mrs. Nixon gave a faint laugh in spite of herself.

“My dear, I wish you weren’t quite such a goose. Is it likely that I
should expect you to be interested in a combination of sand and grit?”

Robert looked back at the fire. “There’s no telling what a solicitous
mother will expect when there are shekels in the balance. It would be
a dangerous clash under the same roof, for you know I’m two thirds
brass and the other third pure affection, and that’s a mixture akin to
dynamite.”

Silence again for a space.

“What are you going to do when we get back to the Hub?” inquired Robert
at last.

“We haven’t quite decided, your uncle and I.”

“I’m going to Fairport to sail with Brute.”

“You are? Well then, we shall be tempted to follow. Is it a possible
place outside the cottages?”

“Quite so, Brute says. Getting more so every year, because there’s a
river flowing into the sea that gives the variety of canoeing. He says
the Fairport Inn is getting to be quite dressy.”

“Why shouldn’t we all try it, then?” asked Mrs. Nixon.

“All?”

“Yes, all. It would be the best of ways for us to test Miss Maynard’s
suitability. I shall not ask her to live with us without your consent,
Robert,” finished Mrs. Nixon solemnly. “The home-circle is sacred.”



CHAPTER XV

AN EXODUS


WHATEVER interview Miss Maynard and Bruce may have had in the Lookout
of the inn, it did not appear to have changed the young man’s mood when
later he sought his stepmother.

She was in her bedroom wrapped in a negligée when she admitted him.

“Was it very beautiful?” she asked eagerly.

“Very extensive; yes, fine,” he replied.

“You must take me up there to-morrow, Irving.”

“I don’t think I shall be here to-morrow. That’s what I came to speak
to you about.”

“Not be here!” repeated Mrs. Bruce in dismay. “Why, look at this room,
Irving.” The speaker indicated the woodsy interior. “Isn’t it perfectly
enchanting? I was just asking Betsy if she didn’t feel like a dryad.”

Irving glanced at Betsy, quite slim enough for the rôle, laying out her
mistress’s night paraphernalia on a second bed in the opposite corner
of the green room. “I was just saying I should like to stay here all
summer. What do you mean by to-morrow, Irving?”

“Nothing that need disturb you at all. I hear alluring stories of
fishing at the lake. I thought I would go there and wait till you came.”

“Oh, dear!” returned Mrs. Bruce. “Is Nixie going too?”

“I haven’t asked him yet. He may. I’ve seen all I care to see here.
Thought I’d come and explain because I might get off before you’re up
in the morning.”

“Oh Irving, I don’t know that I want to stay with Mrs. Nixon!” Mrs.
Bruce’s tone indicated that she had suddenly found her doll stuffed
with sawdust.

“Stay with Betsy and Miss Maynard then. You have an embarrassment of
riches.”

“Did you have a pleasant time with Miss Maynard? What is the demure
little creature like when she gets off with a man?”

“Why, she gets on with him.”

“Tell me, Irving.”

“She is interesting,” was the unenthusiastic reply. “She finds the
situation a little heady, naturally.”

“Well, it’s absurd to see Mrs. Nixon suddenly so exercised about her.
It may be catty of me, but I was very glad you took her away.”

“Oh no, she took me away.” Irving’s tone was colorless. While in the
Lookout he had brought the conversation round to Rosalie Vincent. He
had had a vague notion that this new-fledged heiress might be the maker
of Rosalie’s pathway into more congenial surroundings; but he had met
cool indifference on the subject.

“Good-night, Madama.” He kissed her forehead. “Good-night, Betsy. If
you’re not down to speed the parting guest, I will expect to see you
some day on the shore of the lake, hailing me. Have a good time.”

“Oh, Irving!” began Mrs. Bruce, holding open the door he tried to
close; but he interrupted.

“Now get your beauty sleep, Madama. It’s all settled. Good-night”; and
the door closed.

The moon sailing over the Park sent a stream of light into Irving’s
bed-chamber. He watched it move from log to log, from wash-stand to
chiffonier, and as it reached each new object he felt a fresh access of
impatience at himself for wasting these silent hours.

He had seen Nixie before retiring, and that youth had jumped as
joyfully at the fishing scheme as any trout at the fly.

He had warmly declined to divulge his intentions to the family.

“I will leave a note addressed to mother on my table,” he announced.
“It will ask forgiveness and tell her that it will be of no use to try
to find me.”

“I have told Mrs. Bruce I’m going,” rejoined Irving.

“With what result?”

“Oh, she didn’t like it. She’s crazy about it here.”

“That’s what I say,” returned Robert triumphantly. “There’s nothing
like the note on the dresser. It has stood the test of ages.”

And now Irving was wasting his time lying awake and watching the
stealing moonlight.

“Coffee never affected me before,” he considered impatiently; then he
sat up in bed and punched the unoffending pillows into new shapes and
flung himself down on them.

He hoped _she_ was not awake too. He lay quite still for a minute,
picturing an aureole of golden hair, pillowed in a shabby room, and
stood in awe a minute before the innocence of that childlike face in
slumber.

Then he suddenly punched his pillow again, wishing it were the head
of one who would presently waken her and call her below stairs to run
patiently at the bidding of folk in a ruffianly early-morning mood.

He looked at his watch in the moonlight. The wonder is that his ireful
gaze did not stop the repeater at three A. M.

His window commanded the mound of geyserite which made the inn famous.
He leaped out of bed on a chance that the view might break the monotony.

Scarcely had he reached the window when, in the lonely loveliness
of the night, up sprang the geyser—lowly at first, then higher and
higher—like a thing of life, leaping toward the moon, scattering myriad
diamonds from its banner of cloud. No artificial light now bathed
its beauty. No crowd of humanity encircled it like clustering bees.
Alone in the silvery light it mounted and mounted under the brooding
stars that knew it so well. They sparkled, and beckoned to the beloved
captive, who, holding herself at full height, could not quite reach
their kisses, but sank back at last, reflecting their brightness in her
tears as she vanished.

“And Rosalie weeps. I know she does,” thought Irving; “and I won’t stay
to see it.”

He jumped back into bed.

“It’s a beastly shame that I can’t do anything and nobody else will.
Mr. Derwent says she’s a relative, and then goes doddering around and
lets her bring him his coffee. When he gets to the lake, I’ll have a
few words with him, Betsy or no Betsy. I’m just waiting to see if he
means to do anything of his own accord. I wonder if my blood will run
as cold as that, when I’m fifty. One thing sure, I shall never dare to
fall in love, if just a matter of ordinary humanity can stir me up like
this.”

The whack which his long-suffering pillow received as punctuation to
this muttered speech was the last for that night. The philanthropist
sank to slumber and wakened with a start and a sensation of being too
late for something important.

He looked at his watch. It was just half an hour to stage time.

He jumped up, dashed some cold water over his head, pulled on some of
his clothes, and stuffed the rest into his suit-case, which closed
reluctantly and under the influence of muttered incantations such as
may proceed from masculine youth in the anticipation of a stage-ride of
twenty miles on an empty stomach.

Irving prided himself on being his own alarm-clock. He had especially
requested not to be called, and in a nettled state of mind he finally
pulled open his door and nearly tumbled over Betsy, seated in the
corridor. Beside her on the floor reposed a tray. Odorous steam was
rising from a brown pot thereon. She picked up the tray.

“You’ve got ten minutes,” she said calmly. “Open the door.”

She carried her fragrant burden into the bedroom and set it on the
table. Irving would have followed that steam anywhere. He dropped his
suit-case and drew up a chair.

“Good fairy!” he exclaimed as she filled his cup and he bit deep into
the bread and butter. “Good genius! Betsy, have I ever been ungrateful
to you? This ends it!”

She sat composedly, her watch in her hand. “Do chew a little, Mr.
Irving.”

He laughed. “Sounds natural,” he said, busily devouring and drinking.

“Time’s up.”

He knew so well that she would give him the limit, that he rose like a
shot, and picked up the suit-case.

“But why, Betsy,” examining her as they fled, “why are you hatted and
suited in so finished a manner?”

“Because we’re goin’ with you,” replied Betsy equably.

“What? Why?”

“Because Mrs. Bruce didn’t sleep any, and neither did Mrs. Nixon; and
we’re all goin’.”

There was no further time for talk. Irving had had the forethought to
pay his bill the night before, and when he and Betsy stepped into the
last stage it had all the familiar appearance of previous days except
that no waitress was shrinking in a corner like a violet striving to
hide beneath its leaves.

“Here we are,” said Robert cheerfully. “United we stand, divided we
fall. We’re all going fishing.”

“Irving, come here.”

Mrs. Bruce made room for him beside her, and the stage started. She
was pale, and had made no effort to get the driver’s seat, where Miss
Maynard and Robert had climbed at Mrs. Nixon’s suggestion.

“Let some one sit up there who has had a wink of sleep,” Mrs. Bruce had
said sepulchrally. “If I owned that inn, Irving Bruce, I would sell it
for twenty-five cents.”

“Well well!” responded her son, so fortified by coffee and bread and
butter, eaten where he was not obliged to look upon a captive maid,
that he could smile. “I thought the inn was enchanting you into
remaining all summer.”

“H’m!” ejaculated Mrs. Bruce. “It may be very fascinating by day; but
by night it is Hades, nothing less—not a whit less.” And the speaker
shook her head as one who should say that hours of argument would not
persuade her to abate a jot of her denunciation. “Did you sleep any,
Irving?”

“Why—not much. I think it must have been the coffee. You overdid it
too, eh?”

“Coffee!” Mrs. Bruce glared palely at the suggestion. “There were two
men in the room next to us. Logs between—nothing but logs. Irving,
wouldn’t anybody with any sense or forethought have cemented between
those logs?”

“So picturesque,” murmured Irving.

“Don’t let me ever hear the word again,” gasped Mrs. Bruce. “They said
it all night. Didn’t they, Betsy?”

“You said so, ma’am.”

“That’s it. I kept asking Betsy if she was awake. Didn’t I, Betsy?”

“Yes’m.”

“And she knows how they talked. They went out every hour—every
hour, all night, Irving.” Mrs. Bruce made the repetition with an
impressiveness mere print is powerless to convey. “Went to see the
geysers and then slammed back into their room to talk about them. Oh!!”

“Too bad, Madama! You’re quite tired out. Now just rest a while. Don’t
trouble to talk.”

“And the radiator, Irving.” Mrs. Bruce had not yet relieved her mind.
“It cracked all night. The apparatus must be put in wrong. I called
Betsy’s attention to it several times. She’ll remember.”

Miss Foster looked as if the memory of the night was liable to remain
for some time as green as the room Mrs. Bruce had waked in.

“The hotel should be thoroughly done over,” declared Mrs. Bruce, “the
walls chinked with cement and the steampipes looked to, or else in
common honesty a placard should be nailed up, reading: ‘For show only!’
If ever I was grateful for anything, it is that you had planned to
go this morning, anyway. I shouldn’t have had the force to argue or
persuade you.”

Irving thought of his own nocturnal perambulations, and turned toward
the seat behind, where Mrs. Nixon was seated with her brother.

Her countenance wore a forbidding expression.

“Were you unfortunate also?” he asked.

“Really, Mr. Bruce,” she replied with deliberate distinctness, “I
should not expect it to be a matter of general interest if I had been.
Perhaps you remember what Emerson says apropos of retailing woes of
that character to one’s morning companions. I quite agree with him.”

Having thus delivered herself, the lady’s lips closed in the curves
of beauty which nature had bestowed upon them, and she again gave her
attention to the landscape.

Mrs. Bruce made a grimace as she met her son’s amused eyes.

“Now,” she thought, “I suppose she thinks she is even with me for last
evening.”

Mr. Derwent, unconscious of injuring his sister’s effect, addressed
Mrs. Nixon.

“You look done up, Marion. I am sorry you passed such a disturbed
night.”

Mrs. Bruce pressed Irving’s arm and gave him a malicious side glance.

“You should all be equipped like myself for traveling,” continued Mr.
Derwent rather grimly, “and take off your ear when you go to bed.”

“Poor gentleman,” thought Betsy. “How gladly he would lie awake to hear
his neighbors, and if he could listen to the radiators snap, it would
be music to him, I’ve no doubt.”

She glanced around at him. He had his hands crossed on the head of his
stick in his usual posture.

“I wonder if I’ll ever dare talk to him! He looked so kind at Rosalie
yesterday. If the fish bite good, perhaps Mr. Irving’ll forget her.
Here’s hopin’ they will! I meant to have a real good visit with the
child to-day. I must send her a card when we stop for lunch.”

At the Thumb, Betsy had a chance to do this.

As soon as Mrs. Bruce discovered that they might make the remainder of
their trip by water, she urged it.

“I would just as lief go separately from Mrs. Nixon,” she said to her
son, “until she has had a night’s sleep. Find out, Irving, whether
they’re going by boat.”

It proved that all the places on the boat had been engaged, and as soon
as Mrs. Bruce discovered this, her desire to proceed in that way was
augmented; and many were the alterations she suggested in a management
which contained possibilities of such poignant disappointment as hers.

Mrs. Nixon preserved a magnificent silence; but looked graciously upon
her child, whose sallies appeared to have amused Miss Maynard out of
her habitual demureness.

“They seem to get on very well together,” she remarked to her brother
at a moment when they were alone.

He nodded. “Helen dares be a girl again,” he announced. “There is a
great weight off her mind. Her cheeks seem to have grown plump over
night.”



CHAPTER XVI

BETSY’S GIFT


THE Colonial Hotel that evening looked such a haven of rest to tired
wanderers, that as soon as it was settled that they could get rooms
Mrs. Nixon and Mrs. Bruce were able to smile on each other again.

The mountain lake lay calm in the waning light, and strings of fish
being brought in caused excitement among the men.

“One thing you must do, Irving,” said Mrs. Bruce, looking graciously
upon Helen, “is to take Miss Maynard to that place where you stand on
shore and catch trout, and then whisk it right over into a boiling
spring and cook it before you take it off the hook.”

“Miss Maynard has only to command me,” rejoined Irving.

“I am going fishing with Mr. Derwent,” said Helen. So subtle were the
changes in the mental atmosphere of the last few days, so complete the
step from subserviency to dominance, that any exhibition of coquetry
with the two young men would have been considered legitimate by their
natural guardians. It was the absence of all archness in the girl that
concerned Mrs. Nixon, and the quiet declaration just made disturbed her.

She secured her son’s attention.

“You surely won’t oblige your uncle Henry to act as cavalier to a young
girl,” she said.

“What?” asked Robert. “Oh, you mean the fishing.” He laughed with a
mischievous flash of the eyes which brought color into his mother’s
cheeks. “Afraid she’ll fish for him as well as with him, eh? Well, I
think perhaps you have _raison_.”

“Robert, why _are_ you such a tease? I wish you would choose a time
when I am not so nervous and tired. I’ve never thought of such a thing,
foolish boy!”

“I told you to count ten before you asked her to live with us.”

“Don’t you like her, dear?”

“Yes, I think she’s good stuff; but—you know what I told you. If she
comes to live with us, she’ll run the ranch. You hear me. I don’t care
to have anybody pull my wires. When I hop, I want it to be from my own
pure lightness of heart.”

Mrs. Nixon looked thoughtful. “I intend to count ten, Robert. I told
you that a month at the Fairport Inn would reveal a great deal.”

“I think it will,” agreed Robert dryly.

“Meanwhile,” continued Mrs. Nixon with some asperity, “you can either
leave her entirely to Irving Bruce or you can do your part toward
entertaining her.”

Robert threw an arm around his mother’s shoulders and gave her a
squeeze which ruffled her dignity into a heap.

“You’re no wire-puller, honey,” he said. “Better leave it alone.”

Mrs. Nixon wriggled herself free.

“Mrs. Bruce is so conceited about her stepson,” she said warmly, “that
I really have some feeling about it, Robert. I confess it frankly.”

“Well, mamma dear, they shouldn’t tease her! As I’ve spent the whole
day with Miss Maynard, you should be satisfied with the proof of your
son’s fascinations. She might have dived off the driver’s seat into
Brute’s arms, and she didn’t do it. Be comforted.”

“I know Mrs. Bruce will make Irving take her to see the bears after
supper. You watch! And you might just as well do it yourself.”

“Oh no,” Robert shook his head. “I’d rather be free to climb a tree.
Speaking of supper, come; and talk loudly, please, while I take my
first mouthful, so the guests won’t hear it fall.”

Mrs. Nixon sighed and went with him.

When the party rose from the table there was a general movement to the
back of the hotel to view the bears.

Mrs. Bruce, quite restored by supper and the prospect of a night’s
rest, held Betsy’s arm as a sign to Irving that he was at liberty.

He and Robert sauntered on together, talking of the morrow’s fishing,
and the others followed.

Mr. Derwent was thoughtful. His sister leaned on his arm and Helen
walked on his other side.

“So you were at school with Miss Vincent?” he said.

“Yes; a short time. It seems Mrs. Bruce gave her a short course.”

The girl’s tone was cool; but Mrs. Nixon noted, as she had done before,
the cleverness with which she conveyed her distinct words, and the ease
with which her brother understood.

“Didn’t you like her very much?”

“No, not especially. I had no occasion to know her well.”

“H’m! She seemed to me so appealing. Very modest and engaging.”

“I dare say she is,” returned Helen carelessly. “Oh, there! See? That
black bear and her cubs!”

For the following fifteen minutes the party watched the bears. They
heard the mother give the cubs warning under suspicion of a cinnamon
bear’s approach, and saw the babies scamper fleetly up a tree, followed
by mamma; then, presently reassured, the whole family came down and
proceeded with their meal.

Wires were stretched to prevent the human guests from trespassing
beyond certain limits, and soldiers were on duty, for it is difficult
to believe that the animals are not tame, and the curious would
approach them.

While the party watched, the cinnamon bear did appear, headed for the
garbage-heap, and the house of black bear took to the woods in a body.
Then came a grizzly, and the conquering cinnamon unostentatiously
disappeared.

“It is very interesting,” wailed Mrs. Bruce, “but why don’t the
management provide clothespins for the guests’ noses?”

Robert had gravitated to Helen’s side.

“When we get across the Styx,” he murmured, “I’m going to follow that
woman up. I’m as sure as if I’d seen it, that her halo won’t fit.”

“And Mr. Bruce is so nice to her!” said Helen.

There was gayety that night in the hotel office. An orchestra played,
and there was dancing. Both the young men danced with Helen, then
Irving wandered off to see about fishing-tackle, and Robert floated on
with the girl, whose cheeks glowed.

“How well they dance together!” said Mrs. Nixon to Mrs. Bruce
complacently.

“Yes,” returned the latter. “Mr. Nixon being shorter is a better height
for her than Irving.”

“Robert is quite tall enough,” said Mrs. Nixon.

“Yes, for Miss Maynard,” returned Mrs. Bruce.

Neither of them had slept as yet, and their sitting together at all had
a savor of reckless daring.

Betsy was deeply engaged at the counter where pictures and postal-cards
were sold.

“I don’t know,” she thought, “as it would be anything out of the way if
I should get that whole set o’ postal cards and send ’em to Hiram. Poor
soul, he can’t travel any, and they’d sort o’ illustrate my talk if I
ever told him anything about the trip.”

As she meditated thus, Betsy’s slow color rose, for her New England
conscience remarked rather tartly that this plan for giving pleasure to
her patient admirer was not without ulterior motives, and pretense was
useless.

“Don’t I know,” she mused defensively, “that it would just make Hiram’s
life over to have the child in his house? Old Mrs. Bachelder would like
nothin’ better than to move all her traps over instead of comin’ by the
day.”

All of which goes to show that Clever Betsy’s wits were still busy with
Rosalie’s problem, and that she desired to settle it without committing
herself to a surrender to the able seaman.

“As for postal cards, I guess I wouldn’t have grudged Hiram that much
pleasure if Rosalie Vincent had never come to the Yellowstone; and he
and I—I mean he and Rosalie can enjoy lookin’ at ’em evenin’s.”

Upon which, with conscious innocence and a withering disregard of the
presumptuous inner voice, Betsy put down her money and took the set of
cards in its neat case.

As she did so, Mr. Derwent sauntered up to the stand; the smile which
always rested more in his eyes than on his lips was evident as he
noticed Betsy’s concentrated interest.

“Finding some pretty things?” he asked.

She nodded vigorously. Mr. Derwent would have been surprised to know
how constantly his image had held possession of this woman’s thoughts
since yesterday afternoon.

Hiram Salter was a bird in the bush, and no matter how wary, Betsy
felt that she could lure him—yes, upstart conscience, even without
the aid of postal cards!—to come to her and eat out of her hand; but
Mr. Derwent was the bird already in that hand so far as physical
neighborhood was concerned. She had wondered through many hours how
she could compass a conversation with the deaf gentleman which others
should not overhear.

Betsy looked wildly around for a likely spot for a vociferous
tête-à-tête. There was a corridor which ran out of the large office in
each direction, and from which opened the first-floor bedrooms.

Would the elegant Mr. Derwent think she was quite mad if she endeavored
to lead him down one of these, and was there a chance of her
accomplishing the move without the observation of the two tabby-cats?
Yes, as a truthful biographer I must admit that this was the title
bestowed by Rosalie’s champion upon two complacent ladies since the
playing of the Riverside Geyser yesterday afternoon.

Mr. Derwent’s voice interrupted her swift thoughts.

“What have you been finding that is pretty? Is there anything here I
ought to get?”

Betsy repeated her vigorous nodding and addressed the saleswoman.

“Let me see that water-color of the canyon again, please.”

“A water-color, eh?” said Mr. Derwent; then as Betsy looked at him in
surprise, he smiled again.

“These capricious ears of mine like a racket,” he said. “The more the
orchestra and the clatter of voices and feet deafen you, the more they
make me hear. That’s pretty, that’s very pretty.”

The clerk had produced the picture, and Mr. Derwent gazed upon the
waterfall, the spray dashing up its golden cliffs; and Betsy gazed
eagerly at him. He could hear her. That was more exciting than the
prospect of seeing on the morrow this climax of beauty in the great
Park.

“We ought not to have looked at this until after we had visited the
canyon,” suggested Mr. Derwent. “Paint is cheap, and disappointments
are bitter.”

“The picture’s just beautiful, though,” said Betsy.

“And not a bit too bright,” declared the clerk. “There couldn’t any
picture do justice to it.”

“You like it, do you, Miss Foster? Did you buy one?”

“No, sir. I’ve got a postal of it, though, in this set of cards.”

“I will take this,” said Mr. Derwent to the clerk, passing her the
water-color.

While the picture was being put into its envelope, and the clerk was
making the change, Betsy’s wits were working fast. How, _how_ to make
the most of this golden opportunity! She shrank from the appearance of
begging even for the winning girl she had left behind her. It did not
help matters nor lessen her embarrassment to have her companion hand
her the envelope containing the water-color.

“With my compliments, Miss Foster,” he said with a bow.

“For me!” burst forth Betsy, flushing under her mingled emotions.

“A souvenir,” he returned. “It is really pretty.”

“Oh, it’s a gem, and I do thank you!” exclaimed Betsy. “Oh dear, how
can I now!” was her mental moan. “It’s exactly like sayin’ one good
turn deserves another. I hate to be those kind o’ folks that give ’em
an inch and they’ll take an ell.”

While she hesitated, fearing every moment that the prize would turn and
saunter back to his people, Mr. Derwent lingered.

“I have been very glad,” he said, regarding Betsy’s narrow, excited
face, “of your kindness to the little Miss Vincent.”

Now Rosalie was not little. She was an upstanding daughter of the gods,
meriting their trite description; and the adjective warmed Betsy’s
heart and filled her with courage. That, and the tone of the words,
gave her a welcome cue. She looked wistfully into the kind eyes.

“It’s one o’ the hardest things I’ve ever done to leave Rosalie at that
inn,” she said.

“I didn’t like it either,” responded her companion quietly. “Let us
come over in this corner and talk a bit.”

Betsy followed, an inward pæan of thanksgiving going up from her good
heart.

Irving was still talking fishing-tackle at a desk at the opposite end
of the office. Miss Maynard was frisking in a two-step with Robert, and
the two mothers chaperoned her gravely and with increasing sleepiness,
while the orchestra rang its rhythmic changes. Betsy, standing a little
at one side of the crowd, told again the story of Rosalie’s life
to an attentive listener, who in his turn recounted to her certain
circumstances of the Vincent losses.

“And it has come to this, has it,” said Mr. Derwent, “that this young
girl hasn’t a friend in the world except you and me?”

“That’s it,” responded Betsy promptly. “That is—” she added
hurriedly—“we’re the only safe ones she’s got.”

“How is that?” Mr. Derwent smiled leniently. “A lover? I shouldn’t
wonder at that.”

“Oh, no, not a lover. I should hope not! Good gracious!”

Betsy’s manner and precipitate speech made Mr. Derwent smile again.

“You don’t mean that big boy in our stage with two mothers, neither of
whom owns him?”

Betsy’s wandering eyes looked so desperately embarrassed that the
speaker could not forbear pressing her a little.

“Two mothers; one of whom he loves and one who loves him.”

Miss Foster started. “Oh, Mr. Derwent,” she gasped, and now her eyes
met his in fright.

“Very well,” he said, “whoever it is, I think we shall be equal to
the case without his help. They tell me you’re called Clever Betsy.
Now let’s see whether you’re well-named. Let’s talk ways and means a
little.”

And Betsy did talk: talk as she had seldom done since Irving’s mother
went to sleep one night in her arms.

She told Mr. Derwent of a friend of her childhood, one Hiram Salter,
and laid bare her designs on that mariner’s hearth and home.

Mr. Derwent listened, nodding sometimes, and when she had finished, he
spoke.

“And this talent of Rosalie’s,—this elocutionary business? Would there
be any field for her perhaps in Fairport, as a teacher?”

Betsy looked dubious. “Maybe. It’s a pretty well-to-do village all
times o’ year; but that could come afterward. If I just once knew she
was safe in a home! She could likely get into a school somewhere later.”

“Well-to-do, you say,” repeated Mr. Derwent thoughtfully. “Do the
people there entertain? Parlor entertainments pay pretty well.”

“No,” replied Betsy slowly, fixing her interlocutor with a gaze which
little by little seemed to see beyond him. “Folks there wouldn’t think
they could—spend money—that way—”

Her voice trailed off and there was a silent space, while Mr. Derwent
wondered at her altered expression. Suddenly her gaze focused on him
again and her hard hands clasped the water-color against her breast.
“Mr. Derwent, I’ve got an idea!” she said in a changed tone.

“Of course you have,” he replied encouragingly. “It’s a peculiarity of
clever people.”

“Let me tell you what I’ve thought;” and Betsy proceeded to do so with
eagerness.

“I believe it would work,” returned Mr. Derwent thoughtfully, when she
had finished. “Follow that up, Betsy. May I call you Betsy?”

“Of course, Mr. Derwent. I ain’t anything else; and if you knew how I
felt towards you for befriendin’ Rosalie, you’d know that you might
call me anything.” Bright tears glistened in the good gray eyes.

“The first thing to do, then, is to write Rosalie a letter. Come, we’ll
do it now,” he answered. “I must talk with her. We will have her come
to the canyon.”



CHAPTER XVII

SUNRISE


ON the following morning there was a reaction of good spirits in all
the party.

The men went out early on the lake, and the ladies were enthusiastic
over the trout they ate for breakfast in consequence. Harmless jests
passed between the mothers; Helen Maynard lost somewhat of her reserve,
and as for Betsy, her narrow face beamed upon everything and everybody
indiscriminately as the party journeyed onward to the Canyon Hotel.

After luncheon they all drove to Inspiration Point, and looked upon the
Grand Canyon, the sight of whose beauty is an epoch-making experience
in the life of the most blasé.

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is larger, grander than perhaps any of
the world’s physical wonders; but it is too colossal to be grasped.
Its very distances are so vast that a bluish veil seems hung before
its battlements and minarets, while its river, a mile below, might as
well be cotton wool lying stationary in the depths. One sees without
believing, and gasps without grasping. There is as much of awe as of
joy in beholding the Arizona wonder.

But in the Yellowstone lies a revelation of beauty which bathes the
soul in a dream of loveliness, so surpassing, so overwhelming, that
it is inconceivable that one could receive more into the ecstatic
consciousness. Majesty it has and impressive vastness; but not more
than can rejoice the eye and thrill the heart.

When finally the party were returning to the hotel for dinner, Irving
turned a grave face upon Betsy’s glowing countenance.

“You don’t seem to have anything on your mind,” he said.

“Not a thing,” she rejoined promptly.

“I wish I could wash my hands of the affair as easily,” he said
crushingly.

“Mr. Irving,” a smile rippled over Betsy’s thin lips, “I haven’t had a
chance to tell you that I talked with Mr. Derwent last night.”

“You did, eh?” The young man’s face changed to alert attention.

“He feels just the way we do. It’s goin’ to be all right.”

“_Jubilate!_” ejaculated Irving. “How?”

“Oh, I can’t tell you now. You go right on trustin’ me—or rather you’d
better begin!”

“You’re a good soul, Clever Betsy! When does she stop?”

“As soon as it’s right.”

Irving uttered an exclamation of impatience.

“Don’t show your ignorance o’ business methods,” said Betsy smiling.
“You go on with your fishin’. Everything’s goin’ to be all right, and
I’ll tell you about it later.”

Thus reassured, Irving obeyed. He went on fishing; he tramped to
Artist’s Point with Miss Maynard, Nixie, and Mr. Derwent, and at night
went to his rest without having cross-examined Betsy further.

He knew every shade of expression in her good, immobile face, and
satisfaction was too clearly writ upon it for him to doubt that all
was well. Let her have her little mystery, if she derived enjoyment
from it. Of course all Irving cared for was to know that Rosalie was
properly looked after,—the details were really immaterial.

Toward the following morning he found himself on the shore of the
Firehole River, again waiting for the Riverside Geyser to play. As the
water began to spout, he suddenly noticed that Rosalie Vincent was in a
canoe in the middle of the river, just in the path of the irresistible
liquid catapult. He flung off his coat preparatory to jumping into the
water, and at the same time shouted her name repeatedly.

A mixture of sheepishness and relief greeted his sudden view of the
ceiling of his bedroom. His own voice rang in his ears. He glanced at
the window. Streaks of light were showing in the sky. An idea occurred
to him.

“I shall never have such another chance,” he thought. In fifteen
minutes more he was dressed and stealing like a burglar down the
corridor and out the door of the hotel.

The sky was brightening fast, and he started on a jog-trot in the
direction of the canyon.

The stillness, the loveliness of that morning,—the only sounds those
of Nature undisturbed and uninterrupted! What fine exhilaration was
in the air! Had no reward followed that run over the mountain road,
Irving Bruce would have remembered it all his days as unique in rare
enjoyment; but when at last he passed out from the shadows and stood
upon a vantage-point commanding the superb gorge, what words can
describe the grandeur of the pageant, as the rising sun brightened the
flaming walls of the canyon, and whitened the tempestuous water which
paused on an awful brink before thundering into the deeps below,—a
compact mass of shimmering silver foam!

A strange ecstasy forced moisture into the watcher’s eyes; but
suddenly as his glance swept down the cliff his heart seemed to stop
beating. On a jutting rock below him a woman was standing. She wore a
white gown and was bareheaded. While he looked she seemed to become
terror-stricken, and retreating, her back to the falls, clung to the
hoary rock like a frightened dove.

As in his dream Irving shouted, “Rosalie! Rosalie!” but the mad roar of
water fortunately drowned his voice as he plunged down the path that
led to the jutting rock.

If the girl should faint or fall, there was nothing to prevent her
slipping over the edge and rolling into the awful chasm, and it seemed
to the man an eternity before he scrambled to a foothold beside her and
seized the white gown. She lifted dilated eyes to his face, then gave a
smile of heavenly relief and sank into the arms that clasped her.

He scowled down while he held her close.

“Are you crazy?” he demanded.

“Oh!” was all she could breathe.

“Don’t you faint!” he exclaimed again, as ferociously as before.

“No—I won’t,” she murmured. She was very white as she pushed herself
from him.

He clasped her hand tightly.

“Don’t look down. Put your foot there.” He indicated a spot with his
own foot and stepped ahead of her.

Thus, little by little, he led her upon the steep trail, and they
climbed to the upper ground.

“That was a crazy thing to do!” repeated the man when they stood in
safety.

“The water—drew me,” she answered faintly.

She was more than ever like a nymph, her eyes appealing in her white
face under the gold of her hair.

“Aren’t you cold? Where are your wraps?” viewing her white dress.

She looked about helplessly. “I had a sweater. I must have dropped it
somewhere. No, oh no, Mr. Bruce;” for Irving was taking off his coat.

“Nonsense! Of course I shall. How many layers do you suppose I need?
See my sweater-vest?” He put her arms in his coat-sleeves and buttoned
it close to her throat. “I’m glowing. I ran all the way.”

“How wonderful that you came!” She said it very quietly, apparently
still under the spell of her moment of panic.

He kept his eyes upon her. “I dreamed about you. I dreamed that you
were in danger.”

She looked at him curiously. “Is that why you came?”

“Perhaps. Who can tell?” His face had cleared, and he looked into hers,
so still and lovely above the rough coat. “I am very angry with you,
Rosalie.”

“Oh no, you can’t be. It looked very easy. See.”

From where they stood, the jutting rock below did look ample and
tempting.

“But I’m sorry I frightened you,” she added, and looked up at him with
an enchanting smile.

The new day had begun. The solemn pines towered above them. On a crag
below clung an eagle’s nest, and the parent birds circled and soared
above the emerald-green river, returning to the young with food.

“It seems,” said the man slowly, “as if we were alone in this
stupendously beautiful world.”

“My head went round and round,” she returned dreamily. “I wonder how
long I could have held there.”

He shuddered. “Did life suddenly seem well worth living?” he asked.

“Yes indeed,” she returned. “It seemed that, yesterday. A wonderful
thing has happened to me. I’m not a heaver any more.”

“Tell me all about it. When did you come? What does it mean to find you
here at dawn as if you had rained from the skies?”

“Mr. Derwent doesn’t want me to stay in the Park. He thinks there is
other work I can do. He cared a great deal for my father, and for
his sake he will take care of me and guide me, he says, if I will be
obedient.” The speaker lifted her eyes again to those which studied
her. “It’s easy to be obedient to pleasant orders, isn’t it? He wants
to send me right back to Boston.”

She paused, and Irving nodded with satisfaction.

“I quite understand,” she went on quietly, “why he wishes me to go a
little ahead of your party.” Irving frowned.

“It’s all right. I have felt very much humiliated—” she went on.

“Absurd, ridiculous,” interjected Irving hotly; but she finished her
sentence as if he had not spoken.

“Betsy says I am a vine, and wish too much to cling, and haven’t
backbone enough; but Mr. Derwent’s interest puts backbone into me. I
feel that surely there is a place for me somewhere—”

“Where,” interrupted her companion, “where in Boston are you going?”

“He will take care of it all, he says. Isn’t it wonderful? I don’t
wonder that he loved my father.” The girl’s eyes shone. “He says that
they were very close at one time, and that old friends can never be
replaced. It makes me think of what Holmes said:—

    “‘There is no friend like the old friend, who has shared our
          morning days,
      No greeting like his welcome, no homage like his praise:
      Fame is the scentless sunflower, with gaudy crown of gold;
      But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold!’”

The girlish voice was like music above the smothered roar of many
waters. As Irving listened and looked, he understood the warmth of
Mrs. Bruce’s brief enthusiasm.

There was a pause, and the two feasted their eyes upon the glories
before them.

“It is absurd that you shouldn’t go back to Boston with us,” said
Irving at last.

“I’d much rather not, Mr. Bruce. I fear if Mr. Derwent had insisted on
that, I should have rebelled. You are kind to take an interest—”

“An interest!” burst forth Irving, and arrested himself. He smiled.
“Didn’t I pick you off that cliff a few minutes ago?”

She looked at him with an expression which nearly banished his
self-control.

“We don’t hear much about man-angels,” she said, “but you looked like
one to me at that moment—one of Botticelli’s—you know how ready they
always look to scowl?”

She laughed softly.

“I was furious with you,” said Irving. “So remember I have part
interest in you after this. Mr. Derwent is all very well, but—

    “‘There is no friend like the old friend, who has shared our
          morning days.’

These are our morning days, Rosalie.”

“Yes, and the morning hours of them,” she agreed. “Since I knew I
was to leave to-day I felt I could not waste the time in sleeping. I
wanted—oh! how I wanted—how I have dreamed of seeing the sun rise in
this canyon! Perhaps,” she looked at him wistfully, “perhaps it would
have been my last sunrise but for you.”

Irving’s heart beat faster, and his jaw set. He could feel again the
yielding form that had clung to him.

“No one would have known,” she went on in a dreamy tone. “Even Mr.
Derwent would have thought I had disappeared purposely and would have
marveled at my ingratitude; but—” her voice changed and she looked up
into Irving’s eyes, smiling,—“they might all have talked about me and
said critical things, yet Betsy would have believed in me,—believed and
suffered. Dear Betsy!”

“How about me? How about the friend of your morning days?” asked Irving.

“Oh, you only began to be that this morning. You would never have given
the matter a thought; and even Helen Maynard knows me too slightly to
have defended me.”

“Miss Maynard has found a gold-mine in the Yellowstone. Did Mr. Derwent
tell you?”

“No, indeed. What do you mean?”

“She turns out to be an heiress, and only discovered it here.”

“How beautiful!” Rosalie’s eyes looked away pensively. “Any fortunate
discovery becomes glorified by being made here. How happy she must be!
It is so fine to have time to work at what you love to do!”

“Yes,” answered Irving. “That is the Eldorado for each of us.

    “‘And only the Master shall praise us,
      And only the Master shall blame;
      And no one shall work for money,
      And no one shall work for fame,
      But each for the joy of the working;
      And each in his separate star
      Shall draw the Thing as he sees It
      For the God of Things as They Are!’”

Rosalie’s eyes were bright as she met his.

“And I think Mr. Derwent means to let me work in my star. It’s such a
little star, but I feel it in me to succeed, and if the day should come
when I vindicate myself to—to people that are disappointed in me now
and don’t understand, I shall be happy, _happy_.”

“Happiness is largely a matter of—of friendship, as you said a few
minutes ago,” said Irving. “I want you to remember that you may always
call upon me; that I am at your service. I swear you shall never be
disappointed.”

Rosalie returned his earnest regard with serious eyes.

“You saved my life,” she said.

“I don’t think so,” he returned. “You would have stooped in a minute
and crept to a place of safety on the trail.”

“Then why were you so savage with me?” she asked. “It would have been
necessary for me to stand up on that rock, and to take a short step
across to terra firma. It seems as if I never could have done it.”

“Oh, yes. The giddiness would have passed in a minute, and you would
have done it. Self-preservation is the first law of life.”

Rosalie shook her head slowly. “Then you have a bad temper. You were
frightfully cross.”

“That was merely discipline. You should never go to a place like that
unless I am with you.”

“You!”

The girl’s tone of extreme wonder brought the color to her companion’s
face. He replied, however, with _sang-froid_. “Yes. I’ll take you down
there now if you’d like to try it again.”

She shook her head slowly.

“No.”

He laughed. “Discreet second thought, eh?”

“No, I’m not afraid, with you,” she replied quietly. “But I don’t care
to go again.” A pause, then she continued: “I must go back to the
hotel. I leave to-day.”

“And we to-morrow. It is a shame. I wish you’d let me—”

“No, Mr. Bruce, not for anything,” she returned earnestly. “Let Mr.
Derwent take care of it, and—if we meet again here, will you kindly not
talk to me?”

“Just as you say. I will go back to the hotel with you now; but this is
our good-by. Give me both your hands, Rosalie.”

She obeyed. Their eyes met. She colored richly, looking like an
embodiment of the morning as she stood against the sombre green of the
stately pines. Freedom was before her: freedom to live, and to work,
with the knowledge that she was no longer alone in the world. That was
cause enough for the happiness that shone in her eyes; but that was not
filling her thoughts to overflowing while Irving clasped her rough
little hands close. It was the remembrance of the pounding terror of
his heart in the moment when they had clung together on the dizzy rock.

“Don’t forget, Rosalie. I am your ally.”

She stood silent, her starry gaze not dropping before his.

“Friendship is going to mean a great deal to us,” he went on. “I feel
it. Remember; for—

    “‘Friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold.’”



CHAPTER XVIII

HOMEWARD BOUND


WHEN Betsy Foster awoke that morning she was full of excitement.

She assisted Mrs. Bruce as usual with her toilet, and at the first
possible moment hastened to the apartment of her contraband protégée.

She found Rosalie in her cheap traveling dress of golden brown, and
with her hat on.

She was sitting before a table on which was a breakfast-tray, and she
was sipping coffee.

“That’s right, Betsy. Come and see the lay-over,” she said. “I feel
still as if I needed identification.”

The night before, her supper had been served in the same way and place
by Mr. Derwent’s order, and he and Betsy had, unsuspected, spent an
hour here with the girl, planning her movements, and allowing her new
benefactor to become somewhat acquainted with his old friend’s daughter.

Mr. Derwent had no desire to stir up questioning, and there was every
chance now that Rosalie would get off by the morning stage without
being observed.

“Is it really I, Betsy, sitting here and being waited on like this, and
being cared for by such adorable people?”

The girl had risen on Betsy’s entrance, and embraced her, pressing her
fresh cheek against the thin one where a bright spot burned.

“Now, now, you can hug me a fortnight hence,” said Betsy. “Sit down and
finish your breakfast.”

She glanced at the bed. The coverings were neatly laid over the
foot-board, and the pillows were plump and smooth.

“How did you sleep, child?” she continued as Rosalie returned to her
coffee. “The pillows look as if you hadn’t touched ’em.”

“I don’t always use a pillow,” returned the girl evasively.

“You look kind o’ pale. I don’t believe you slept real good.”

“What does it matter?” Rosalie held her friend with wistful, glowing
eyes. “Why should one lose the consciousness of happiness even for ten
minutes?”

There was a little contraction of Betsy’s heart. So young a creature
to be economical of happiness; but the intensity of the girl’s eyes
disturbed her.

“Now you mustn’t get so wrought up over things, Rosalie. Make it a rule
to be mejum in everything. I always have, and I find it the best way.”

A low laugh escaped the girl as she met the kind gaze. Had Betsy ever
stood in the midst of roaring immensity, an atom in the whirl of
colossal, dreadful beauty, and fallen from dire panic into the close
embrace of safety, with the beat of a kingly heart upon hers? Poor
Betsy! Poor everybody in the wide universe except Rosalie Vincent!

The good woman went on talking, and the girl heard not a word. She was
back beneath the pines watching the eagles at their nest, in a rainbow
chasm.

“Gracious, child!” said Betsy at last, laughing and pulling the
suit-case out of Rosalie’s hands. “You look like a sleep-walker; let
me put those things in there. And now you stay right here until I come
back and tell you when to come downstairs. What have you got to keep
you warm? It’ll be cold stagin’ to-day.”

“I had a sweater,” said Rosalie absently. “I lost it somewhere in the
canyon.”

“In the canyon?” repeated Betsy mechanically. Then she repeated the
words explosively. “What do you mean, Rosalie Vincent? Have you been
out there this mornin’?”

Rosalie looked the picture of detected guilt.

“Well I guess you _are_ a genius! You’re as crazy as the best of ’em.”

“You wouldn’t have had me leave this place without seeing it?” said the
girl.

Betsy bit her lip. “Well, I guess that’s about so,” she said. “It
_would_ seem cruelty; but you see Mr. Derwent thought you’d better be
ahead of us, and he and I both know, if anybody does, what it is to
stir up a strife o’ tongues! And I s’pose in the hurried arrangement
everything sort o’ slipped into insignificance compared to smugglin’
you out o’ the Park.”

Betsy’s tone had turned from accusation to apology. “So you really have
seen the canyon,” she added, pausing, and regarding the pale face.

“I saw the sunrise there,” returned Rosalie.

“My stars!” ejaculated Betsy. “If I could see that, seems if I wouldn’t
care if I never saw another sight in this world.”

“I don’t,” returned Rosalie quietly; and the blue gaze went far beyond
Betsy’s sallow, wondering countenance. “I was born again in the canyon.”

Her look startled Betsy. “Be mejum, Rosalie,” she said. “You’ll wear
yourself out if you feel too much. Be mejum. It’s a splendid rule.”

It came about that Mr. Derwent effected his protégée’s departure
without disturbance.

Betsy complained to Mrs. Bruce of the cold of the morning and advised
her not to stand on the veranda to view the loading of the stages. Mrs.
Nixon would not do this in any case, and Robert had taken Helen out for
a stroll.

Only Irving Bruce paced the piazza among the crowd, and when Mr.
Derwent put Rosalie into the stage he met her eyes once.

Mr. Derwent saw him, and wondered if he had recognized the brown bird.
He prepared himself for an explanation, and approached the young man.

“Pretty snappy drive they’re in for this morning,” he said.

“It is rather fresh,” replied the latter. “I was just wondering if Miss
Vincent had wraps enough.”

Mr. Derwent regarded him curiously. “You recognized her then?”

“Yes.”

“I take great interest in that girl,” said Mr. Derwent.

“I am not surprised.”

“I am sending her out of the Park.”

“If you hadn’t, I should,” said Irving.

“It’s scarcely a case for your assistance,” returned Mr. Derwent dryly.
“But I wish to say that I appreciate your refraining from approaching
her just now.”

Irving thought of the white dove that had clung to his breast.

“You showed good taste,” went on Mr. Derwent, “and an appreciation
of the fact that this is a case where ‘the least said, the soonest
mended,’ applies.”

“Quite so,” answered Irving equably; and Mr. Derwent, once more nodding
approval of him, went into the house.

What a drive it was that morning for Rosalie! Betsy had wrapped
around her, beneath her coat, a woolly “fascinator” of her own, and
even without it, it is doubtful if the girl would have recognized
temperature. Every little creature of the woods, as it came fearlessly
from its covert, seemed to congratulate her on being alive with them;
like them safe from being hunted, free to love, to work.

Arrived at Norris for luncheon, who should come to wait on her at table
but Miss Hickey.

The young woman stood above the blonde girl’s chair, and impersonally
called the menu to whomever it might concern.

Rosalie looked slowly around at her, her golden-brown veil pushed up
from her face.

“Miss Hickey,” she said softly.

“Goodness, Baby! _You!_”

The waitress’s eyes stared and snapped; but business pressed, and
it was not until the end of the meal, when Rosalie lingered for the
purpose, that Miss Hickey had opportunity to slake her burning thirst
for information.

“Been fired?” she asked sympathetically.

“No, I left.”

“Struck a gold mine? How are you goin’ to pay your way back?”

“Some friends are sending me back.”

Miss Hickey eyed her scrutinizingly. “You look as happy as if you’d
lost twenty-five cents, and found ten dollars.”

“I am happy. Oh, Miss Hickey, I’m so happy!”

“Who’s with you, Baby? I’ll skin ’em if they’re doin’ you mean.”

“No one’s with me. I’m all alone. I’m going to Boston alone.”

“Sent? Or sent _for_?” inquired the other, still unsatisfied.

“Sent,” returned Rosalie with a seraphic smile.

“By those folks you were scared of?” asked Miss Hickey, with sudden
inspiration.

“No, the other people. Do you remember the deaf gentleman with gray
hair?”

“No, I don’t, Blue-eyes.” Miss Hickey spoke sharply. “The grayer they
are, the worse they are. That’s _my_ experience.”

“Oh, he’s so good!” exclaimed Rosalie, “and he is a friend of my
father’s, and he wants to help me.”

“Well, I hope he does. How’s that grand young feller, Mr. Bruce. Seen
him lately?”

“Yes, I’ve seen them all. They’re enjoying the Park. How have you been,
Miss Hickey? I can’t realize it’s only a few days since I saw you. It
seems years.”

“Oh, I’ve been busier’n a nest o’ snakes, doin’ nothin’. Been laid up
most ever since you were here.”

“I’m afraid the Swattie ball was too much,” returned Rosalie, smiling;
“and I’m sorry, so sorry!”

She put out her hand.

“I didn’t want to go without seeing you again,” she went on, giving
Miss Hickey’s a tight pressure. “I shall always remember you
gratefully.”

“Well, I’m glad to see you too; and see you in so much luck. I hope
it’s all right.” The black-eyed girl spoke doubtfully.

“The rightest thing in the world,” returned Rosalie; and black eyes, no
matter how sophisticated, could not meet hers and doubt it.

“You’re goin’ right on to the Mammoth?” inquired Miss Hickey.

“Yes, and leave there to-night.”

“Ain’t you the grand lady! What’s your hurry?”

“Why,” Rosalie smiled mischievously, “those other people—the ones I was
afraid of—will be here to-morrow.”

“Hot on your trail, eh?” said the other. “Well, you’re a galoot to go
alone, when you might be in the stage with Mr. Bruce. If he’s comin’
here to-morrow I’ll be on the watch for him, believe _me_!”

There were showers of rain and hail all the afternoon while Rosalie
coached to the Mammoth Hot Springs. When the girl saw again the veranda
where she had trembled behind Miss Hickey’s shoulder, it seemed to her
that a magic wand had transformed her life; and so it was. All the way
she found her path smoothed by the forethought of her benefactor; and
the long journey to Boston was made with no consciousness of care or
tedium.

The newly-fledged, exultant heiress left behind at the Colonial Hotel
little knew that the famous lawyer through whom her own fortune had
found its rightful owner had bestowed still greater relief and courage
upon her humble school friend.

Clever Betsy kept her poise admirably. She did not approach Mr.
Derwent, nor ask him a question.

When the party returned to Norris they little suspected how a pair
of black eyes in the dining-room were, in Miss Hickey’s vernacular,
“sizing them up.”

Had burning glances visible effect, Mr. Derwent’s scrupulously brushed
head would have shown several bald spots. The examination was on the
whole satisfactory, and, joyous to relate, Miss Hickey succeeded in
waiting upon Irving Bruce.

He came to luncheon a little late, and thus sat away from his party.

As he ate his dessert, to his surprise the waitress lingering beside
his chair opened her lips and spoke.

“I remember you folks real well,” she said. “I was in your stage when
you come on from Mammoth.”

Irving glanced up, and as her words reached his abstracted
consciousness, he looked suddenly interested.

“You were with Miss Vincent, then,” he replied.

“M’hm,” admitted Miss Hickey with elegant ease. “I seen her yesterday,”
she added, as the young man did not press the matter. “She’s quit.”

“You saw her yesterday?” he repeated eagerly. “How was she?”

“Oh-_ho_!” ejaculated Miss Hickey, mentally. “You take notice, do you?”

“Perter’n a chipmunk,” she returned aloud. “Say,” meeting Irving’s
uplifted gaze, “is that gent with the bum ear, the deef gent, I
mean,—is he on the level?”

“Why—certainly. Did—did Miss Vincent—”

“Yes, she did. She told me he was sendin’ her back. Say; do you know
her?”

“Yes, slightly.”

“Then you know that she’d believe Satan if he smiled on her. I’d like
to know that she’s in good hands. That’s what I’d like to know.”

Irving Bruce smiled upon Miss Hickey, a bright light in his eyes.

“Do you see the thin-faced lady over there, the one with the brown
waist?” he asked.

“Sure. The hatchet-faced one.”

“Miss Vincent is in her hands,” said Irving; “and they’re the best
hands in the world.”

He rose.

“Well, believe _me_, I’m glad to hear it,” was the hearty response.

Irving smiled upon Rosalie’s friend again, and gave her a tip which not
only supplied her with candy for weeks to come, but gave her food for
thought as well.

“Maybe I didn’t butt in just right!” she reflected. “Oh, he’s just
grand! Good for Baby! I guess she’s goin’ some!”

Betsy bided her time. She was sure that before the party reached
Boston, Mr. Derwent would again open the subject of their mutual
interest.

Irving’s silence upon it awakened no suspicion in her faithful breast.
She had assured him that all was well, and adjured him to trust her;
and, his mind set at rest, the thought of Rosalie had slipped out of
it, which, considering that he belonged to Mrs. Bruce, was the best
thing that could happen.

Betsy’s expectation was well-founded. One afternoon after their train
had left Chicago, and there came a lull in the interminable games of
bridge which had whiled the hours away, Mr. Derwent approached the
seat where Betsy sat alone, viewing the flying landscape—flat but not
unprofitable.

“May I sit here a minute?” he asked.

She gave him a one-sided smile of welcome. A veil was wrapped around
her head in much the same fashion in which she wore a cheese-cloth on
cleaning days at home.

They talked for half an hour; the noise of the train increasing, as it
always did, the ease of Mr. Derwent’s hearing.

Mrs. Bruce glanced at them more than once, well pleased with the
satisfied expression on her handmaid’s countenance.

She addressed Mrs. Nixon.

“What an extraordinarily kindly man your brother is!” she said.

“The best in the world,” agreed Mrs. Nixon impressively.

Had either of them heard the directions he was giving Betsy at that
moment, they would have edited their praise.

Helen Maynard and both the young men were occupying a section opposite,
showing one another card tricks, and Mrs. Nixon and Mrs. Bruce with
quiet minds discussed their summer wardrobes, and the Fairport Inn.

By a strange coincidence the subjects being discussed by Betsy and Mr.
Derwent were precisely the same.



CHAPTER XIX

MRS. BRUCE’S HEADACHE


“BE it ever so humble,” said Mrs. Bruce, “there’s no place like home!”

She was standing again on the veranda of her summer cottage, where
Betsy was airing and beating pillows.

“Pretty good place,” agreed Betsy. “I’m glad I ain’t goin’ to see a
trunk for months; but—” she hesitated unwontedly, and then continued,
“I’d like to go to Boston for a couple o’ days, Mrs. Bruce, if you can
spare me.”

“Dear me, when we’ve just arrived?”

“The cook’s all right, and you’ve got Mr. Irving and his friend both
here—”

“A lot of good they are,” retorted Mrs. Bruce. “They’ve lived with
Captain Salter ever since we came.”

Betsy said nothing. Mrs. Bruce had the uncomfortable realization which
seized her at times that, although her None-such went through the form
of asking her permission, she would in fact do exactly what she thought
best.

“It’s such a queer thing for you to want to do, Betsy,” she continued,
“to go back into the heart of the city immediately. Of course Mrs.
Nixon felt obliged to stay a few days with Miss Maynard, to order some
gowns—”

“Do you want to send her any word?”

“Yes, I promised to look at the rooms at the inn and see what they had.”

“Can’t I do that for you?” asked Betsy.

“Why, yes, I wish you would.”

“I can go this afternoon just as well as not,” remarked Betsy quietly.

“Don’t it beat all, the way things come round all right if you just
don’t fidget?” she thought.

The middle of the afternoon found her on the way to the pretty inn, set
on a slight rise of ground above the river. Mr. Beebe, the proprietor,
was a Fairport man, an old friend of Betsy’s, whose provincial ideas
had for years been in process of changing and forming by contact
with the summer people for whom he catered; and what had once been a
barn-like structure known as the Fairport Hotel, now showed as a modern
inn, with verandas and a pretense to fashion.

Mr. Beebe welcomed Betsy with effusion, rallied her on her travels
and her worldly experience, and at last settled down to listen to her
business.

When finally she arose to go, he remarked:—

“Well, seems if there wasn’t any end to the new-fangled notions a
feller’s got to listen to and adopt to keep up with the times. I
haven’t forgot how clever you were to my wife when she was sick a
couple o’ years ago, and I don’t like to turn down anything you ask of
me.”

“I appreciate your kindness, Sam, but you ain’t goin’ to lose money by
this plan. You know we are all pretty proud o’ the Inn. If Mrs. Bruce
wasn’t she’d never a recommended it to the Nixons. They’re folks that
are used to the best; and we’d like to see it have all the attractions
any resort has. Mark my words, you’ll thank me for this, instead o’ me
you, though I ain’t underratin’ your good feelin’. Good-by, Sam.”

Clever Betsy left the place with a springing step.

She found her mistress in a rather injured frame of mind when she
reached the cottage. It wore upon the lady that the None-such was going
to desert her post for two days.

“That’s the worst of having a person like Betsy,” she thought; “one
gets so dependent. It’s humiliating. I feel just like asking her not to
go, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that.”

So Mrs. Bruce compromised by being silent and wearing an abused air.

“Once in a while Betsy will do a real selfish thing,” she reflected;
and she demanded of memory to stand and deliver the last occasion when
her housekeeper had displayed base ingratitude. Memory appearing to
find the task difficult, she resorted to deep sighs and an ostentatious
headache.

Betsy was amused, but also somewhat touched.

“She ain’t anything but a child, never was, and never will be,” she
thought. “You can’t get out of a barrel what ain’t in it.”

She told her mistress of the pleasant rooms at the inn available
because of having suddenly been given up by their usual occupants.
“I’ll go see Mrs. Nixon and tell her about ’em,” she added. “Mr.
Beebe’s promised to hold ’em till Wednesday.”

Mrs. Bruce put her hand to her forehead, but apparently was too far
gone, sunk among her cushions, to reply.

“I think it would be real nice for you to do a lot o’ sailin’ while I’m
gone,” said Betsy cheerfully.

“That’s just about as considerate as you are!” returned Mrs. Bruce,
with remarkable fire for one in the languorous stage of headache. “You
know very well that at the best of times I don’t care very much for
sailing.”

“I thought with Mr. Irving and Cap’n Salter both, you felt real safe,
and enjoyed it,” said Betsey pacifically; and Mrs. Bruce had sundry
disconcerting memories of hiking hilariously with her hand on her boy’s
shoulder.

“Don’t you suppose,” she said with a superior air, “that I ever make a
pretense of enjoying things for Irving’s sake?”

Betsy’s lips twitched. “You acted so natural you took me in,” she
returned meekly.

Mrs. Bruce sank back again among her pillows.

“I’ll make out a list for all the meals while I’m gone,” said Betsy
comfortingly, “and give it to the cook. You see, Mrs. Bruce, one o’ my
friends that’s lived in the country and is very inexperienced, wants to
get a few clothes in the city. She don’t know where to go or what to
pay, and I told her I’d come in for a couple o’ days and help her. You
won’t scarcely miss me before I’m back.”

“I must say, Betsy,” declared her mistress faintly, “some people would
have waited until there was no guest in the house.”

“I’m real sorry I can’t wait,” returned Betsy gently; “but I’m goin’ to
arrange for the meals, as I say, so you won’t have a mite o’ trouble,
and Mr. Nixon always makes everything jolly.”

Mrs. Bruce made no reply, and Betsy left the room.

Going out on the street, she heard a piercing whistle down the street,
executing a classic which would inspire a bronze image to cake-walk.

Betsy did not attempt any fancy steps, but she started on a long,
energetic stride in the direction of the shrill ragtime.

She waved her hand with a gesture which she knew would check Robert’s
effervescence.

He waved his cap in return.

“Where’s Mr. Irving?” she asked as soon as he could hear her.

“He’s helping Cap’n Salter with the sail. They didn’t appreciate my
services, so I came away.”

“I just wanted to tell you, Mr. Nixon, that I’m goin’ to Boston.”

“Giddy creature! The whirl of the city drawing you so soon?”

“I’m goin’ to tell your mother what rooms there are at the inn, and if
you have any message—”

“I have. Tell her it’s great here, and to let me know as soon as she’s
through using the car, because I want to bring it down—or up.”

“I will. Say, Mr. Nixon,”—they were strolling toward the house, Betsy
hanging back unaccountably,—“I hope you and Mr. Irving’ll be sort of
attentive to Mrs. Bruce for a couple o’ days.”

“Sure thing. I’m eternally attentive to her. What’s up?”

“Well—she doesn’t like to have me go; has the habit of me, you know;
and I’ve got to go, that’s all there is about it.”

“Sad! sad!” ejaculated Robert. “Frightful thing—habit. You seemed so
mild out in the Yellowstone I hadn’t an idea you couldn’t endure the
quiet of the country a week.”

“Now I’m relyin’ quite a lot,” said Betsy, “on your foolishness.”

“What?” inquired the young man, his voice breaking.

“Mrs. Bruce can impose on Mr. Irving—I mean,—you know what I mean, she
can make him fall in with her moods; while you—well, you’re just as
good as a rattle to—”

“Betsy,—now, Betsy, beware! I have average poise, I hope, still I’m
only human. My head can be turned!”

Betsy smiled. “I don’t know as I exactly make you understand what I
mean—”

“Oh, yes, you do. Your meaning is as clear as clear limping water.
Please don’t be any more definite or I may burst into tears; and it’s
in every etiquette book that I ever read, that it isn’t proper to make
the company cry.”

“Yes, that’s the way,” said Betsy with satisfaction. “Just chatter to
her like that, and she’ll—”

“Betsy! Cruel one! How can I impress you!”

“Now listen,”—they were drawing near the house—“Mrs. Bruce’ll act sick
when you go in. I don’t mean she’s actin’, but she don’t like things to
go the way she hasn’t planned ’em; and she’s a real dependent little
lady, and you and Mr. Irving must keep her as happy as a lark while
I’m gone. I’ve got to get off early in the mornin’, and I may not get
a chance to see him alone at all; so you tell him I’m real sorry, and
I’ll hurry back, and you take her with you everywhere, and look out
for her and—and I’m goin’ around this back way. She’s right in the
livin’-room. You’ll find her.”

Betsy disappeared with guilty haste, and Robert, smiling to himself and
whistling softly, mounted the steps.

“Once there was a book,” he thought, “named ‘Pink and White Tyranny.’
Madama’s an anachronism. She belongs in it.”

He presented himself cap in hand at the door of the room where Mrs.
Bruce lay motionless on a thickly pillowed divan.

“Any admittance?” he asked.

The sufferer stirred. “Is that you, Nixie?” she returned faintly.

He advanced to the divan. “Dear me, what’s this? You were so fit this
morning.”

“Oh, I’ve been quite upset.”

“You look it. Absolutely knocked down. Nothing serious, I hope?”

“Where’s Irving?”

“Mending a sail with Captain Salter. They were so disrespectful to me
that I came home.”

“I’m very poor company, I’m afraid,” said the hostess languidly.

“But at least you appreciate me, Mrs. Bruce. You don’t hurt my feelings
every second word you utter. Mayn’t I sit here by you,”—the speaker
took a chair close to the divan,—“and rub your head, perhaps? My mother
will tell you I’m a cracker-jack at it.”

Mrs. Bruce gave an inarticulate exclamation of dissent.

“I should expect you to rub my hair off,” she exclaimed faintly.

“It doesn’t look like that kind,” returned Robert innocently.

Her eyes were closed, but she could feel his, brightly curious, fixed
upon her coiffure.

“You make me nervous, Nixie. Would you mind taking a book?”

“A thousand pardons, dear hostess! Of course I will. I did just want to
ask your advice about the car, though.”

“What car?” Mrs. Bruce’s eyes opened.

“Ours. I think when mother gets through dressing Miss Maynard, we’d
better have it here. Don’t you?”

“The roads are excellent,” replied the prostrate one.

“Of course it’s Uncle Henry’s car, but it’s all in the family.”

“We haven’t one, just now,” said Mrs. Bruce. “We sold it when we went
to Europe; and Irving is such a merman we thought we wouldn’t do
anything about a new one till we went back to town.”

“I suppose you have an electric for yourself,” said Robert.

“I’m going to have one as soon as we get back. I’ve always thought I
was too timid to drive it, but of late I’ve come to feel that I don’t
like to be the only woman that hasn’t one.”

“Oh, you are just the person to drive an electric,” said Robert,
his eyes twinkling as Mrs. Bruce unconsciously raised herself to a
sitting posture among the pillows. “You’ll spin down to the bank every
afternoon and bring Brute home.”

“I really do think you’re right, Nixie,” returned his hostess
plaintively. “I have a very cool head, and it’s all nonsense that I
couldn’t drive an electric even in the Boston cowpaths, while in the
Parks—”

“Oh, my dear Mrs. Bruce, never think that Brute will accompany you
there!”

“Why not?” The question had all the usual crispness.

“Such a stately method of locomotion will not commend itself for his
sportive hours. What car does he think of getting?”

The question opened a flood-gate; and for the next fifteen minutes,
talk of pros and cons regarding different high-class motors snapped
with an ever-increasing vivacity in the erstwhile chamber of suffering.

Once Betsy came near the door and listened.

“But _that_ car doesn’t have to be cranked,” she heard her mistress
declare in bright tones.

She nodded with satisfaction and ran upstairs to put her belongings in
a suit-case.



CHAPTER XX

BETSY’S APPEAL


TRUE to her promise, Betsy stayed but two days in Boston, and Mrs.
Bruce, having had a very good time in her absence, was graciously
pleased to let bygones be bygones when she returned.

“Was your shopping successful?” she asked.

“Yes, we did real well,” was the reply. “I didn’t know there was so
many good ready-made things folks could get.”

Mrs. Bruce smiled leniently.

“Rather awful things,” she said, “but I suppose they did very well for
your friend from the country.”

“Yes, she’ll look real good in ’em after she’s fitted to a few
alterations. Miss Maynard’s been gettin’ some ready-made ones.”

“She has?” ejaculated Mrs. Bruce with interest.

“Yes; they showed ’em to me, some of ’em, when I went to Mrs. Nixon’s;
and they’re elegant.”

“Oh, yes; with Miss Maynard’s pocket-book, one can find very good
things; and since they’re coming here for the rest of the season, she
doesn’t need much. You say Mrs. Nixon wired for the rooms?”

“Yes, right off; and they think they’ll get here Saturday.”

That evening Irving Bruce, descrying Betsy stooping over her sweet-pea
bed, joined her.

“How is Miss Vincent?” he inquired.

Betsy rose and regarded him.

“Set a spell,” he continued, drawing her down upon a garden-seat.

“I haven’t got anything to tell you, Mr. Irving.”

“Nonsense,” remarked the young man easily. “Don’t you suppose I know
that you went to town to get clothes for somebody? Mrs. Bruce told me
that. Of course it was Rosalie. Whose gift? Yours or Mr. Derwent’s?”

“Mr. Derwent’s,” responded Betsy after a reluctant pause.

“I hope they are proper for the seashore.”

“They’re real simple, and pretty, and good; just like her.”

“Tell me what you bought.”

Irving brought his sun-burned face close to Betsy’s and hung his hand
over the back of the seat close to her shoulder.

Betsy pressed her lips together.

“If you don’t I’ll hug you, and Mrs. Bruce is up there on the piazza,
looking.”

“Mr. Irving, behave yourself!”

Betsy essayed to rise, and was brought back swiftly by the strong hand.

“I can see her in everything if you’ll just describe it.”

“Well,” said Betsy reluctantly, casting a glance toward the piazza, “we
got her a black lace.”

“Too old, I should think.”

“No, no, ’tain’t,” Betsy forgot her reluctance in defense. “It’s sort
o’ half low neck and has fluffy things on it—real pretty.”

“What else?”

“A white lace one— Oh, she does look just like an angel in it, Mr.
Irving!”

The speaker suddenly remembered herself, and her lips snapped together.

Irving frowned slightly. “Well, Mr. Derwent is blowing himself.”

“He gave me five hundred dollars, Mr. Irving, and told me to fit
that child out!” Betsy could not resist imparting her joyous news.
“Oh,”—she heaved a long, eloquent sigh,—“I’ve had one good time, I
tell you! I wanted to stay longer, but I promised Mrs. Bruce; and the
everyday things she can get herself. She’s smart, and knows that the
plainest things look best on her; because the Creator’s made her so she
don’t need any trimmin’ up. I went to Mrs. Nixon’s house, and there
they were dressin’ Miss Maynard out of a bottomless purse; but I’ll
match my girl against her.”

Irving, attentive, watched the narrow face glow.

“And where did you say Rosalie is living?”

“I didn’t say,” replied Betsy with a return of caution.

“Not at Mrs. Nixon’s, I suppose.”

“Well, I guess not. While I was examinin’ Miss Maynard’s finery, I
was glad I didn’t have a pain in my head so that they could see my
thoughts. If they’d known Mr. Derwent’s money was buyin’ another girl’s
outfit they’d ’a’ needed a smellin’ bottle. You know, Mr. Irving, I
thought perhaps Miss Maynard comin’ into that fortune would ’a’ liked
to help Rosalie in some way. It really surprised me ’cause she didn’t.”

“Miss Maynard’s head is in the clouds for the present. Very likely when
she comes to earth she will be more interested in other people.”

Betsy looked at the speaker affectionately. “You always was a generous
boy,” she said. “Never could be hired to knock anybody.”

“I’m going to knock you, right off this seat, if you don’t tell me
without any beating about the bush, where Rosalie Vincent is. I expect
to go to Boston in a few days. I might help her choose her hats.”

Betsy’s eyes met his earnestly. “Now, look here. You’ve been as good as
gold ever since we left the lake. You haven’t asked me a question.”

“That’s why you ought to answer me now, instantly.”

“I’m not goin’ to tell you.” Betsy spoke deliberately. “Rosalie’s
got to make her own way in the world. Mr. Derwent knows that outside
appearances count for a lot in her line o’ business, and he’s givin’
her this outfit, just as he’d give a boy a little capital to start him.
She’s goin’ to try an experiment, and I ain’t goin’ to say anything
about it. It’s an idea o’ my own, and if it turns out all right, I’ll
believe my good angel put it into my head; but if folks like you—young
men—play the fool, it won’t turn out well; and then I’ll know it was
a caper o’ my bad angel. You needn’t scowl and look as if you’d eat
up any other man who looks at her. You’re the one o’ the lot I’m most
afraid of, and you’re very likely to see her.”

Irving sprang to his feet as if he had been shot.

“Betsy, have you—is it possible—” he nearly choked in his
excitement—“have you found her some place on the stage—vaudeville?”

Miss Foster, after her first jump, swallowed, and looked at him in
exasperation.

“Will you sit down and not scare a body into a fit?”

“Have you, I say!” he demanded fiercely. “I’ll see Derwent to-night if
he’s had anything to do with this.”

“For the land’s sake, Irving Bruce, you’re actin’ like a natural-born
fool—but I love you for it!” The gray eyes sparkled. “Sit down on this
bench.”

He obeyed, but his eyes still devoured her.

“I can’t leave Mrs. Bruce, can I? If Rosalie went on the stage I’d
have to go with her, wouldn’t I? Do act as if you had some common
sense.”

“You frightened me,” said Irving.

“Well, you nearly gave _me_ heart disease.”

Irving did not smile. His expression made it difficult for his
companion to proceed; but there was no time like the present. She
seldom had opportunity to talk with the young man alone, and Robert was
amusing his hostess on the porch.

“As I said a minute ago, Mr. Irving, you’re a generous boy, and always
were. You’re likely to see Rosalie Vincent sooner or later, and you’ll
be put to the test. You know in your inmost heart that you don’t care a
thing about her except the way you would a pretty picture, or statue,
that you’d come across. You don’t know her at all in the first place,
so any attention you pay her would be just for your own selfish fun,
and you’ve said so much to me about her, that I’m afraid you _will_
seek her if you get the chance—just for her beauty, poor child.”

Irving’s thoughts had flown back to the canyon, and a train of memories
stirred him.

“She will attract a great many besides me,” he said. “If there’s ever
any need of shielding her, I sha’n’t stand aside, you may be sure.”

“You’re the only one she needs shielding _from_, Mr. Irving.” Betsy
spoke with slow, gentle emphasis. “I tell Rosalie to be mejum, but she
don’t know _how_. It isn’t in her. I’d feel meaner’n pusley to say this
to you, if ’twan’t meaner not to. She’s set you up, the way a girl
will, in a special niche of her heart. How she come to I can’t see,
’cause she never talked with you more’n once or twice. She don’t know
that I notice this, but she’s shown it a number o’ times the last two
days. Now she hasn’t had a chance yet to know men worth knowin’; and if
you happen to meet her anywhere, and just treat her pleasant but real
formal, she’ll get over this fancy—it’s all just a part of her poetry
and the notions she lives among all the time, in her own thoughts. It
don’t amount to anything, now; but it could if you acted selfish. I
told you before that I love her, Mr. Irving. She hasn’t got a person to
take care of her but me. I’m glad she’s a girl all out o’ the question
for you, because Mrs. Bruce would never think she was good enough, and
would make her unhappy; and as long as she _is_ out o’ the question I
ain’t afraid to ask the son o’ your father and mother, the two finest
people I ever knew in my life, to keep away from her; not flatter her;
not show her any attention. She’s as modest as a daisy, and got no more
worldly experience than one. Lots o’ men admire that kind a little
while, and then tread on it without even noticin’ that they have.”

Irving during this speech had sunk his hands in his pockets, and his
eyes were fixed on his outstretched pumps. Betsy regarded him anxiously
through a moment of silence.

“Do you ever wish we were back in the canyon?” he asked. “I do.”

“Mr. Irving!” she ejaculated. “I don’t believe you’ve heard a word I’ve
been saying.”

“I have; but I doubt most of it. You’re in love with me yourself,
Betsy. That’s what’s the matter with you.”

“H’m. Perhaps I might be if I could forget how cross you were when
you were teethin’ and how you tore your clothes, and got all stuck up
with jam. Your mother trusted me perfectly. Whenever I carried you to
her and said, ‘Please spank him, ma’am,’ she always did it without a
question.” Betsy’s tone was vainglorious.

Irving threw back his head, and his ringing laugh caused Mrs. Bruce to
look wonderingly down the garden.

“An absolute monarchy, eh?” he responded. “And you have the habit so,
you want to tyrannize over me still?”

“Don’t leave me with the feelin’ that you want to shirk out of it by
foolin’,” pursued Betsy, refusing to smile, and rising, conscious of
Mrs. Bruce’s gaze.

Irving rose also and threw his arm tenderly around her thin shoulders
as they moved toward the house.

She tried to escape, but the gentle vise held.

“You’ve made me feel very sentimental, referring as you have to
our past, Betsy,” he said emotionally. “Know’st thou these verses,
beginning—

    “‘There is no friend like the old friend, who has shared our
          morning days’ (and teething nights!)”

“Please, Mr. Irving!”

With a desperate wriggle, Betsy escaped, and moved swiftly around
toward the back door of the cottage.

“Did she refuse you?” called Nixie, as his friend stretched
portentously, and then came on up the steps.

“Absolutely.”

“It must be a habit of hers,” remarked Mrs. Bruce. “Captain Salter has
been returning to the charge for years, so I’ve heard lately.”

“Great work!” declared Nixie with zest. “He looks like a sea-dog that
can hold on. I must have some fun with the great and only Betsy.”

“If you do,” remarked Irving lazily, “I’ll have some fun with you that
will make you an interesting invalid for the rest of the summer.”

“Highty-tighty!” exclaimed Nixie. “I believe sonny is in earnest, Mrs.
Bruce.”

“Doubtless,” she returned, with some bitterness. “Betsy has a true
knight.”

“I _am_ in earnest,” said Irving quietly. “Betsy’s private affairs are
as much to be respected as your mother’s. Hands off.”

“I spoke to her about the captain once,” said Mrs. Bruce. “He’d been as
much as making love to her under my very eyes, and I put some innocent
question, but—” the speaker shrugged her shoulders—“she snubbed me.”

“Quite right,” said Irving promptly.

“The man’s crazy,” declared Mrs. Bruce, “if he thinks Betsy could be
persuaded to leave us, and go and drudge for him. Of course that’s all
he wants her for; and she _is_ clever. She knows it.”

“I don’t agree with you,” said Irving mildly. “Old Hiram’s in love with
her. To his eyes she looks just the same as she did when they went to
school together.”

“He shall have her then!” ejaculated Nixie enthusiastically. “I shall
make it my pleasure, in slight, unostentatious ways, to throw them
together.”

“Wretch!” exclaimed Mrs. Bruce. “Destroyer of homes! Do you want to
give me nervous prostration?”

“Did you ever try to throw Betsy anywhere she didn’t want to go?”
inquired Irving.

“That’s my comfort,” groaned Mrs. Bruce. “She looked at Captain Salter
as if she could eat him when he told us what he had named the boat.”

Nixie laughed. “She’s a character, isn’t she? I’m not far from in love
with her myself.”



CHAPTER XXI

A RAINY EVENING


THE various and sundry hatchets which had been brandished in the mental
atmosphere between the natural guardians of those two heroes, Irving
Bruce and Robert Nixon, were all decently buried by the time the
Yellowstone party were about to be reunited at Fairport.

Mrs. Bruce had quite the glow of a hostess as she placed flowers in
the rooms of the expected ones; and Mrs. Nixon had invited the Bruce
household, of which her son was to continue to be one, to dine with
them at the inn on the evening of their arrival.

They had a cosy corner of the dining-room to themselves when the time
came.

Helen Maynard looked charming in an evening gown of pale pink chiffon.
The quiet little chrysalis familiar to their Yellowstone stage had
yielded up a butterfly upon which Mrs. Nixon looked with pride as the
work of her hands, noting with satisfaction the admiring curiosity in
the eyes of the three men.

Even Helen’s demureness was not proof against the radiance of her
content to-night as they took their places at the table. She was seated
between the two young men, whose coats of tan provoked much comment
from the newcomers.

When they had taken their places, Robert looked about with his usual
cheerfulness.

“All present or accounted for but Hebe,” he declared. “It seems as if
she ought to materialize and bring us our soup.”

Irving gazed at him. “You saw nothing unfitting, then, in that office
for her?”

The speaker’s manner was always quiet, but his boon companion
recognized the tone.

“Brute of my heart!” ejaculated the latter, “‘I would not live alway,’
but a little longer, please! You’ll pardon the natural yearnings of an
affectionate nature. I can’t help missing lovely Hebe.”

“There is a more familiar face than Miss Vincent’s that we are
missing,” said Helen. She turned to Mrs. Bruce. “How is Clever Betsy?”

“Very well indeed, thank you,” returned that lady. “She is evidently
more than grateful to be on her native heath again. I think I never
knew Betsy in such good spirits as she has shown the past week.”

“I noticed it in Boston,” said Helen. “When she came to see us she
seemed so happy. She said the best part of any trip, no matter how
delightful, was getting home again.”

While Helen Maynard spoke, she had a habit of turning at short
intervals to Mr. Derwent as if to include him in all she said; and
such was his ability to understand her, that his eyes sent her an
acknowledgment even when there was no occasion for him to speak.

This time, however, he did answer.

“I don’t wonder at Betsy. I like the looks of this place very much
myself.”

“And the taste of it,” added Robert, eating his soup with a seaman’s
appetite. “This is very good, for a hotel. For myself, I live in a
private family, and I pity you all. Mrs. Bruce has a cook with whom I’m
liable to elope.”

“I’ll show her off to you some day soon,” said Mrs. Bruce graciously.

       *       *       *       *       *

Betsy Foster was meanwhile enjoying the unwonted sole possession of the
cottage. While she straightened the chaos in the young men’s rooms, a
smile was on her lips, and a light of excitement burned in her eyes.

When all was neat within doors and she had eaten her simple supper,
she went out on the veranda, and seating herself in the best rocker,
rocked, and hummed one of Robert’s most abandoned two-steps.

While she was thus enjoying the _dolce far niente_ of her unobserved
evening, a light rain began to fall.

“I don’t know as I’m sorry if it does rain,” she murmured. “It’ll keep
’em in the house, and I want ’em all to be there. I’m sure it’ll please
Mr. Derwent.”

While she thus reflected, a square-shouldered, sturdy, masculine figure
entered the gate and came up the garden-path.

Betsy showed no surprise at his appearance. The pleasant light
continued in her eyes as she arose.

“How do you do, Hiram?” she said, as he came up the steps. “Take the
big chair.”

“Well!”

The sea-blue gaze scrutinized her as the guest’s hard hand held hers
until she jerked it away with decision.

“Take the big chair,” she repeated.

“Ye’d rather give me that than your hand, eh?” returned Hiram, and he
seated himself on the edge of the flexible wicker.

“Sit back, and take comfort,” said Betsy, returning to her rocker.

Captain Salter obeyed, moving cautiously.

“Well, travelin’ does improve folks, they say. I can see you’re
improved, Betsy.”

“You thought there was need of it, did you?”

“Well, I should think so! I knew the minute I got your note this
afternoon that you was beginnin’ to get more reasonable. To have you do
somethin’ real decent like askin’ a feller to come and see you, showed
that you was broadenin’ out, Betsy, broadenin’ out. Folks all gone to
the inn to dinner, eh?”

“Yes. I thought it would be a good chance for me to hear some o’ the
town gossip.”

“’Tis. Real good. It’s all over Fairport that you and me’s goin’ to be
married this fall.” Betsy stopped rocking. “The name o’ the boat kind
o’ started it up—”

“You might have known it would, Hiram Salter!” said Betsy accusingly.

“O’ course I did. What d’ye s’pose I named her for?”

“’Twas a mean trick, Hiram!”

Captain Salter changed the blade of grass he was chewing to the other
side of his mouth. “Why, certainly,” he responded. “Ye didn’t s’pose
I wouldn’t descend to mean tricks, did ye? We heard even when we was
goin’ to school that all’s fair in love and war.”

She looked at him for a moment with a baffled gaze, then she spoke.

“I don’t believe a word of it,” she said defiantly. “Everybody that
knows me knows I ain’t ever goin’ to marry anybody. I wouldn’t anyway
now—after you namin’ the boat. Do you s’pose I’d marry a man that shows
right out plain that he’s a tyrant?”

Captain Salter emitted a low rumbling laugh, and sat quiet in his
all-embracing chair.

“Tell me what’s doin’ in town,” asked Betsy in a different tone. “How’s
Mrs. Pogram gettin’ along without Rosalie?”

“Oh, she’s havin’ a fierce time. She no sooner gets settled with
somebody to help her, than Loomis upsets everything with some of his
fool doin’s.”

“I’m goin’ to surprise you,” said Betsy, slowly, “more’n you ever was
surprised in your life, Hiram.”

“How so? Goin’ to marry me this evenin’?”

“I found Rosalie Vincent out in Yellowstone Park.”

“Pshaw! Ye don’t say so! By the way, Betsy, I was glad o’ those
sightly pictures you sent me. Course I s’pose they’re all lies—just
advertisin’—”

“No, indeed!” exclaimed Betsy eagerly. “You never saw anything so
beautiful. I—”

“Yes,” interrupted Hiram, “I’ve got ’em pinned up on the wall, and,
come October, you’ll tell me all about it evenin’s. I cal’late what
with Europe and all the globe-trottin’ you’ve done lately, I’m goin’
to have a wife that’ll beat that She-Herod-Sady that told the Arabian
Nights, all holler; and what’s more, you won’t ever be afraid ye’ll get
yer head cut off; so ye’ll be ahead of her, every way.”

“Hiram,” said Betsy severely, “what do you think o’ my findin’ Rosalie
’way out there?”

“I think ’twas part of her good luck.”

“What good luck has the child ever had?”

“That, and all that come of it.”

Betsy stared, a little disappointed at her admirer’s foreknowledge.

“Has Mr. Irving told you—” she began.

“Irving hasn’t had a chance to tell me much. That Nixie feller talks to
beat the clapper of a bell.”

“But you like him, don’t you, Hiram? He’s an awful nice, kind boy.”

“I guess he will be when I get him trained,” returned Hiram equably.
“He’s beginnin’ to understand that I’m the cap’n o’ the Betsy.”

“If you knew how disagreeable that sounds, you’d never say it in my
presence!”

Hiram lifted the sea-blue eyes, and fixed hers with their gaze.

“That sentence has got more music in it,” he declared slowly, “than any
other in the English language. I’ll be good to you, Betsy—as good as a
man knows how to be to a woman. You’ve taken care o’ folks for the last
twenty years. I want the job o’ takin’ care o’ you the next twenty.”

He looked very manly as he said it, his strong figure leaning square
shoulders toward her. A swift vision chased through her brain of
her precious boy henceforth busy in the bank by day, and in society
by night; of Mrs. Bruce’s increasing querulousness and exactions,
stretching out into an indefinite future.

The captain’s fireside, and herself mistress of his hearth and home,
suddenly showed with an attraction she had never felt before; as if it
were a haven of shelter from that monotonous other future, with its
stern sense of duty, and its occasional high-lights.

“I believe you cal’late to tire me out, Hiram.”

“Shouldn’t wonder,” he returned, leaning back again and biting his
blade of grass.

“Why don’t you ask me about Rosalie?” said Betsy. “What do you know?”

“Why, Irving told me that you found her out there, and wheedled some
old gent into payin’ her way back East again, and that she was in
Boston now, and that you’re keepin’ an eye on her.”

“Old gentleman!” repeated Betsy indignantly. “If you call yourself one,
then he is. He’s just about your age.”

“I’m just the right age to be a bridegroom,” responded Captain Salter
promptly.

“I hope Mr. Irving didn’t say anything about this before Mr. Nixon.
It’s a secret.”

“No. He got a chance at me alone while we was mendin’ a sail. He told
me mum was the word. I’ll bet a cookie, Betsy, that now you’ve got
Rosalie in Boston you don’t know what to do with her.”

Betsy gave her one-sided smile, and Hiram continued: “Irving says you
think a sight o’ the girl; and I’ve been sort o’ cogitatin’ about the
whole business; and I finally made up my mind to tell ye that if ye
want her to live with _us_, I haven’t a mite of objection.”

The speaker could see by his lady-love’s countenance that this bait
glittered.

“I _had_ thought, Hiram,” she returned ingratiatingly, “that seein’ you
and Rosalie are such good friends, you might let Mrs. Bachelder move
over to your place; then Rosalie could go there.”

Captain Salter gave his rare, broad smile.

“My! but you’re a good planner, ain’t you!”

“Would you—would you think of it, Hiram?” she asked, with some timidity.

“Not if I wanted to keep real well, I wouldn’t. Now don’t waste time in
foolishness, Betsy. I’ve ben gettin’ ready for ye for years, and I _am_
ready. Everything’s taut and ship-shape, and I’ve got a margin that’ll
let Rosalie in, easy. We’ll be as cosy as bugs in rugs next winter.”

Captain Salter was an experienced fisherman. The expression on Betsy’s
face was such that he believed the bait was swallowed.

“If obstinacy would get folks into the kingdom,” she observed, “your
chances for bein’ an archangel would be real good, Hiram Salter.”

He let the reel spin, and the coveted fish dart away with the line.

“I always did hang onto an idea like a puppy to a root,” he said. “It’s
kind o’ ingrained in my nature; but you’ll know best, Betsy. You’ve got
to be ’tarnally unselfish to somebody in order to be happy; and you
think it over. See if ’tain’t about time you changed the place and kept
the pain.”

He rose, and Betsy did also. For a wonder she didn’t answer him.

“Good-night,” he said. “It was real clever of you to let me come this
evenin’.”

He did not even take her hand at parting. He lifted the shabby
yachting-cap and looked at her narrow, inscrutable face. “Good-night,”
he said again, and was gone down the garden-path.

Betsy remained some minutes standing in the same position.

“I meant to ask him a hundred questions.” The reflection rose at last
from the confusion of her thoughts. “He’s such a gump it makes it hard
to talk to him; keeps goin’ back to say the same thing over and over,
just like a poll-parrot, till he puts me out so I don’t know what I
_did_ want to say to him.”

As she went into the cottage, the picture of the upright figure, and
the clean, bronzed, weather-beaten face went with her.

The appealing blue of Rosalie’s eyes seemed to plead with her. “Oh, if
I only knew how she’s gettin’ along!” thought Betsy.

Captain Salter was right to smile into the darkness as he plodded down
the street. The fish was darting here and there through the unresisting
water after its fright, still proudly conscious of its own volition;
but the bait was swallowed. The fisherman believed it was a matter of
time, now.



CHAPTER XXII

THE WHITE DOVE


THE dinner-party at the inn continued to be a merry one.

“I’m sorry it rains,” said Mrs. Bruce, looking at the dewy panes when
at last they rose from table. “I wanted you to see how pleasant the
outlook is from the verandas.”

The proprietor passed near them as they moved into the spacious
living-room of the inn.

“Why couldn’t you have a pleasant evening for us, Mr. Beebe?” asked
Mrs. Bruce.

“Sorry I couldn’t,” he returned. “I’m goin’ to make up for it the best
I can, though. I’ve got an entertainment for you if you’ll take your
friends to that other end o’ the room.”

“Music!” groaned Irving. “I feel in my bones that somebody is going to
sing. Us for the porch, Nixie.”

This party had been last to leave the dining-room, and already a large
group of guests had gathered in the living-room, and were waiting.
Irving was already taking long, quiet strides away from the scene of
danger when Robert caught him by the arm.

“Heavens, Brute!” he gasped. “Look there! _Is_ it—or isn’t it!”

Irving turned, and beheld at the other end of the room Rosalie Vincent,
dressed in white, standing quietly, looking about her and smiling a
little as if in question of her audience, and wondering what she should
do for them.

Irving’s heart gave the most acrobatic bound of its existence. He stood
fixed in his tracks.

“Do you see who that is, mother?” inquired Robert, leaning over the
ladies.

Mrs. Bruce’s busy eyes sought her lorgnette.

Helen Maynard was first to realize who it was that stood there tall
and fair in the fleecy white gown, with the golden coronet of her hair
shining as her only ornament, and her bare throat and arms, round and
slender against a dark background.

“Most extraordinary!” exclaimed Mrs. Nixon. “I never saw such a
resemblance.”

She looked over at her brother in a neighboring chair. He was smoothing
his mustache; and he nodded at her in reply.

“Why, it _is_ Hebe!” declared Robert, and his voice cracked high. “I
never saw anything so lovely in my life.”

“_How_ did it happen?” inquired Mrs. Bruce. She looked at Irving. His
face was tense and scowling. “Tell me, Irving,” she demanded in low
tones. “How in the world did she get here?”

“How should I know?” he returned; and so irefully that Mrs. Bruce
stared at him. Why in the world should it make him angry?

Irving’s heart kept on its quickened pace. So this was what Betsy meant
by saying he was likely to see her; why she had adjured him to keep
away from her. She had said—Irving’s eyes devoured the white dove; but
Rosalie began to speak, and again her voice was music.

“I scarcely know what you would like to hear this rainy evening,” she
said, “but I think I will begin by going back to first principles, and
telling you the story of Red Riding Hood.”

Mrs. Bruce’s lips would scarcely meet.

“What self-possession!” she murmured; and then for a time all
speculation ceased, for the voice of a child began to narrate the
classic in the language of a child, and Rosalie carried her audience
with her. The little unobserved details of the infantile manner, its
occasional abstractions and recalls to the subject, the catching of the
breath, and a myriad other peculiarities, were all in evidence, and
repeated laughter encouraged the story-teller.

Her big-eyed wonder and horror when she arrived at the thrilling crisis
where the wolf devoured Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, “before she
even had time to put on her spectacles to see who it was ate her up,”
brought down the house; and when the tale drew to a close the clamor of
tongues gave witness that Rosalie was a success.

“Isn’t she sweet!”—“Did you _ever_ hear anything so natural!” sped from
mouth to mouth. “What a lovely creature she is, and so unaffected!”

And Rosalie stood there looking about, unconsciously smiling, and
tingling to her finger-tips with gladness that she had not disappointed
Mr. Derwent, whom she could see sitting at the other end of the room.

Mr. Beebe came laughingly to Mrs. Bruce as a Fairport summer oracle.

“Say, ain’t she all right?” he demanded triumphantly.

“Where—” asked Mrs. Bruce, stammering in her eagerness, “how did you
happen to get her?”

“’Twas Clever Betsy’s doings. Didn’t she tell you? Seems Miss Vincent
wanted a job o’ this kind for the summer, and Betsy thought she’d work
me; and I’m mighty glad she did. The girl is onto her job. There, she’s
goin’ to give another.”

The speaker hurried off, while Rosalie’s sweet voice began on one of
the Riley favorites that bring tears as well as smiles.

Mrs. Bruce did not hear a word. She leaned back in her chair, a prey to
conflicting emotions. She saw Mr. Derwent rise and change his position
to one in the background of those who were closest to the speaker.

Robert Nixon stooped close to her ear. “You can’t lose the Yellowstone
party,” he said, “and aren’t you the proud lady!”

It was an innocent speech on the part of the irresponsible Nixie,
but it started the regulating of Mrs. Bruce’s confused thoughts. She
realized that he was referring to the perspicacity with which she had
recognized Rosalie’s gifts in an unpromising past, and the munificence
with which she had cultivated them; so she sat on a fence, as it were,
undecided on which side to get down.

She viewed the faces of the absorbed listeners, and considered that
she might indeed accept the part of complacent patroness of this young
heroine of the evening; might ask no questions, raise no objections,
and behave as though this were the natural and expected outcome of her
own perception and generosity; but her irritable vanity and love of
managing whispered loudly that she had been outwitted.

Who had loosed Rosalie from the engagement in the Park? Who had paid
her transportation east? Who had housed her since? Who had procured the
dainty gown in which she now stood, and doubtless a trunk-full more if
she were to live and entertain in this inn, as Mr. Beebe had plainly
stated was the case? He had also plainly stated the answer to these
various phases of one conundrum. Betsy it was, of course! For whom else
had the clever one deserted her post of duty and gone to Boston to help
a friend from the country to buy clothes? Did she really suppose that
Mrs. Bruce was too dense to see completely through this millstone?

Yes, it was plain. The savings of a lifetime had been squandered by
Betsy Foster, who must be in her dotage to have done such a thing;
squandered on this blonde girl with the appealing, darkening eyes, who
was this minute swaying her listeners to smiles and tears.

By this time Mrs. Bruce had decided on which side of the fence to get
down, and she did so with energy; and glared across it at Rosalie and
her poor dupe, the once clever Betsy.

To think of Betsy being such a traitor as not to ask her mistress’s
advice, seeing that this was Mrs. Bruce’s affair, and she would be the
best judge of what was right to do!

The offended woman glanced again at her son. Rosalie had not driven the
unconscious frown from his tense face.

“I’m sure he suspects the same thing,” she reflected. “He is so loyal
to Betsy, he will be outraged.”

Helen Maynard was another who heard as little of Rosalie’s recitation
as Mrs. Bruce. Her mental questions were the same. Whose magic wand
could have accomplished this transformation in the short time?

A cloud had descended on the heiress’s evening. She remembered the
questions Irving Bruce had put to her in the Look-Out at Old Faithful
Inn. She knew then that he was trying to probe her interest in her
unfortunate school friend, and she remembered the hard obstinacy that
at that time rose in her heart against Rosalie. Why, before she had had
time to find herself in her new situation, should she begin to take
care of and plan for another girl? Her first suspicion and her first
look when she recognized Rosalie this evening had been directed toward
Irving Bruce; but if his amazement were not unfeigned, he was more
capable in histrionics than Rosalie herself.

It was a Saturday evening, and the week-end influx of men had given
Proprietor Beebe an extra satisfaction in the presentation of a
successful novelty on this rainy night.

Irving Bruce watched the faces of the men, some of whom he knew, and
others not, and glared upon all alike because of the open admiration
in their eyes for his white dove—more and more his, with every comment
that he saw being made upon her; with every ring of applause bestowed
upon her efforts to please.

He knew what would happen when this was over. Men as well as women
would press upon the young girl to thank her, and he knew with what
modest gratitude Rosalie would accept their tributes. He could see Mr.
Beebe going about on the outskirts of the crowd, proud of her beauty
and success, and knew that he would introduce to her anybody who asked
it.

Irving drew near to Mrs. Bruce’s chair and stooped over.

“Join her when this is over, will you, Madama? I don’t believe she has
any chaperon.”

“No, I thank you,” was the clear response. “I think I never saw any one
who required it less.”

Irving bit his lip. “Don’t speak that way,” he begged. “You know
they’ll begin dancing after this. Beebe will make it possible for every
Tom, Dick, and Harry to dance with her.”

“Which will be very much to her taste, I imagine,” retorted Mrs. Bruce.

Helen Maynard heard the whispered colloquy. She knew that if, at the
close of Rosalie’s efforts, she herself should go forward and join the
girl, stand beside her, put her on a par with the guests, Irving Bruce
would never forget it of her.

She leaned back in her chair, her heart beating a little fast. By
nature she loved power. She had begun to taste it to-night. Aware of
looking her best, aware of the sunshine; of approval rained upon her
by Mrs. Nixon and Mrs. Bruce, and the frank admiration of the young
men, there was a still sweeter triumph for her in the expression of Mr.
Derwent’s eyes, which roved over her faint rose-color with an amused
kindness at first, but lingered with a surprise and admiration which
she treasured eagerly. Suddenly all was changed. There was a centre
of attraction toward which all eyes gravitated. Mr. Derwent had risen
and left their party to go nearer. Irving Bruce believed that Rosalie
needed protection from a too violent belle-ship. Should she go across
this room, and stand as a sort of maid-of-honor to this white and gold
pauper princess?

Nixie leaned over her chair. Again his random words hit the mark and
might carry the day.

“By Jove!” he whispered to Helen, “you two girls will look stunning
together. You must let me take you over there as soon as Hebe gets
through.”

Helen’s lips compressed and she did not reply.

Rosalie was about to give her last recitation. It was a tender sketch,
but with plenty of comedy.

A mother was rocking her baby and singing him to sleep, with periodic
interruptions from her other children whom she dismissed with varying
manner and replies.

It was excellently done. Rosalie’s singing was simple and natural, her
voice sympathetic, and when the lullaby finally died away, and she rose
and bent her lovely head above the baby as she laid him in an imaginary
bed, there were plenty of dim eyes among her auditors.

The absolute stillness broke as the girl rose and smiled again upon her
listeners,—the modest, deprecatory smile the Yellowstone party knew so
well.

Irving’s eyes shone. “Mrs. Nixon,” said he to that lady, “may I take
you over to speak to Miss Vincent? She is in strange surroundings and
will appreciate it.”

“Well,” replied Mrs. Nixon with a surprised and regal lift of the head,
“the girl certainly does charming work. I’m quite willing to tell her
so.”

She rose and took Irving’s offered arm, and they moved away. Mrs. Bruce
held her lip between her teeth; her face burned, her eyes filled with
tears of anger and mortification.

“Great Scott!” ejaculated Robert, still winking hard, “that girl made
my nose tingle. She has one of these silly voices, you know, that go
way in and knock on your heart, and if you try to steel yourself, it
just opens the door and walks in any way. Come on, let’s all three go
over and tell her she’s a dandy. Look at ’em crowd around her! She’s
like a drop of honey in fly-time.”

Mrs. Bruce and Helen rose undecidedly.

“Say, look at Uncle Henry!” exclaimed Robert with a joyous squeak.
“Isn’t he Johnny-on-the-spot though? Those chaps aren’t going to have
it all their own way.”

Mrs. Bruce pressed her handkerchief to her lips, for she too saw Mr.
Derwent move a little in advance of the other guests, and after holding
Rosalie’s hand a moment in congratulation, draw it within his arm and
stand beside her while the kindly, effusive crowd drew near.

Helen Maynard shrugged her shoulders. “That settles it, Mrs. Bruce,”
she said. “Mr. Derwent has evidently decided to make her a success.
Very nice for her, isn’t it? We may as well go and speak to her, I
suppose.”

Mrs. Bruce moved with them in silence. Robert glanced at her with
comprehension.

“Darn Brute,” he thought. “Why did he want to go and get mother in
wrong here!” To his simple mind it was difficult to grasp the mental
processes of his hostess; but he saw her emotion. “I’ll chance a jolly,
anyway,” he reflected.

“You must feel like a lady Columbus,” he said to Mrs. Bruce, with an
admiring air.

“Oh, no, Nixie,” she rejoined. “I feel like a cipher. Nothing more.”

In his whole life Irving had never slighted her before. For that girl’s
sake he had not hesitated to punish her. This was Betsy’s doing,—all
her doing.

So the waves of heat and hurt passed over her as she crossed the room
on Nixie’s arm, seeing, ahead of her, Irving devotedly talking to Mrs.
Nixon as they moved toward the star of the evening.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE DANCE


WITH the approval of her audience ringing in her ears, and Mr.
Derwent’s kindly presence and support to bridge over the awkward first
moments that assail the drawing-room entertainer when her work is
done, Rosalie might scarcely have been able to keep her slender white
slippers touching earth but for an anchor, a ball and chain, which
Betsy had in all kindness attached to her on the last evening they
spent together.

They had sat on the edge of the bed in their boarding-house, talking,
and Betsy plunged boldly into a subject that lay heavy on her heart.

“I feel just as certain as I sit here,” she said, “that you’re goin’ to
make a success of it at that inn.”

“O Betsy,—” the young girl took her friend’s hand joyously,—“I like to
hear you say so, and I do really believe I can please them because I
love to do it so.”

“You’ve showed me a lot o’ your pieces, and it’s a sensible selection.
You ain’t goin’ to tear up the ground and try to be a Burnhard. You’re
goin’ to make ’em laugh, and if they’re as soft as I am, you’re goin’
to make ’em cry, same as you have me to-night. That’s where you’ve got
good judgment. You’ve got as sweet a voice as I ever heard, and your
glass tells you you’re good-lookin’.”

The girl leaned toward her eagerly. “Do you think I’m very pretty,
Betsy?” she asked.

“Yes; and it’s a good thing for your work; but listen here, Rosalie, it
ain’t a good thing for anything else.”

The girl laughed. “You silly, dear Betsy!” she exclaimed.

“Mr. Irving was talkin’ about somebody in your line o’ work lately;
and I listened hard on your account. He said she wa’n’t any good—her
programmes wasn’t. He said she didn’t have ‘the instinct of the
entertainer’! Those were his very words. I said ’em over to myself so’s
to remember; for I saw his point.”

“Do you think he’ll believe that I have?” The girl’s azure eyes
darkened as she asked it.

“Yes, I do. The way you’ve made me act silly to-night, shows that you
know how to make folks laugh while they’re cryin’; and that’s as near
the secret o’ success as any one can come, I guess; but it ain’t goin’
to be all roses, dear child.” Betsy patted the hand that held hers. It
was hard for her to dim the blue light shining upon her so hopefully.
“I said your good looks were a disadvantage, and they are from the
minute you stop actin’. We happened to speak of Mr. Irving just now, so
I’ll take him for an example. He’s the apple o’ my eye, Rosalie, and I
believe in him just as much as I do in any man, as far as intentions
go; but he’ll be one of a whole lot o’ young men you’ll meet at the
inn, and you’re a little bit acquainted with him, and he’s sure to
enjoy your work, and your good looks, and he’s liable to flatter you,
and when the summer’s over—”

Betsy could scarcely go on, the expression of the blue eyes was
changing so fast as their gaze clung to her; but she braced herself.

“_That’ll_ be over, too. Men-folks are selfish. They don’t know what
they’re doin’. Irving Bruce has inherited quite a lot o’ money. He
knows dozens o’ the finest girls in Boston. Mrs. Bruce probably expects
that some crown princess from the other side o’ the water’ll be over
here after him yet. Have a good time, Rosalie,” Betsy again patted the
relaxed hand, which she could feel tremble, “but be mejum. I speak this
way to you because I know your disposition, and your unhappiness would
cut me deep.”

The girl withdrew her hand quietly. “Thank you,” she said.

“Old Kill-joy that I am!” thought poor Betsy as she lay awake that
night, and knew that Rosalie was awake beside her; but the very effect
of her words convinced her that it was necessary to have spoken them;
and when she supplemented this by her appeal to Irving later in the
garden, she felt that she had done her worst, and her best; and
whatever came, her conscience was clear.

As Rosalie stood in the living-room of the inn to-night, her hand
within Mr. Derwent’s arm, she was too excited to be conscious that it
was his action which heightened the effusiveness of the guests. They
might laugh and weep under her efforts to entertain them, but many who
would not have taken her hand afterward advanced graciously when it was
quickly whispered that the man beside her was Henry Derwent of Boston.

“Your brother is a trump!” murmured Irving to Mrs. Nixon.

The lady looked resigned.

“When Henry takes it into his head to befriend any one,” she said, “he
carries his point. Since the day he found, out there in the Park, that
this girl was the daughter of his old friend, I suppose he has never
really forgotten her. It is like him to be so rejoiced in this change
in her fortunes that he immediately takes her under his wing.”

“He’s a trump!” repeated Irving.

Mrs. Nixon was dimly aware that Mrs. Bruce would be fuming at her
action, for she had overheard her refusal of Irving’s request.

“I can’t do otherwise than stand by my brother,” thought Mrs. Nixon. “I
can’t help it if she is offended.”

And now they had reached Rosalie, and for the first time Irving noticed
that she was very pale.

He had counted on a special look from those blue eyes,—a look that
would recall the last time they had stood together, in a world of
beauty created for them alone.

He heard Mrs. Nixon say in her grave, sonorous tones:—

“Your work is charming!”

And yet he had not caught her eye.

Betsy had said—fond, foolish Betsy! who could suppose that she would be
so imaginative, Betsy had said—and the expression and manner with which
Rosalie now turned to him at last, gave the lie direct to all those
implications.

“Good-evening, Mr. Bruce. How tanned you are!” the girl said, raising
her eyebrows with a little smile, as if they had met yesterday on
Tremont Street.

Then she turned to meet a couple of young men who pressed forward under
the guidance of Mr. Beebe.

“These gentlemen are anxious to meet you, Miss Vincent, and say some
pretty things. Mr. Ames and Mr. Foster, Miss Vincent, and Mr. Derwent,
too.”

Mr. Derwent inclined his head, his hand hanging by his side, and
Rosalie’s tightened on his arm as she turned from Irving to meet the
somewhat embarrassed expressions of enthusiasm from the young men,
who seemed to find Rosalie’s immobile and white-mustached companion
somewhat of a bar to their loquacity.

“Hope to see you again, Miss Vincent, when the dancing begins,” said
Mr. Ames as they withdrew.

Now came Robert and his companions.

“Dancing?” repeated Robert in a high key. “Anybody taken your first
waltz, Miss Vincent?” Rosalie shook her head.

“Mine, then. Is it?”

“If you wish,” said the girl, and then took Mrs. Bruce’s mechanically
offered hand.

This lady had keyed herself to one master-effort, and she said now:—

“You know, I always believed you could.”

“Oh, thank you, Mrs. Bruce!”

Rosalie’s smile of gratitude, her low tone, and the sudden moisture
that dimmed her eyes, should have touched the heart of her
benefactress; but that organ could not hold another emotion. Mrs. Bruce
slightly bowed and smiled, and moved slowly away.

At Robert Nixon’s invitation to Rosalie, Helen bit her lip.
“Rude,—incredibly rude cub!” she thought. “I’ll never forgive him for
that!”

The clinging of Rosalie to Mr. Derwent’s arm was another item in her
disfavor; and Helen approached, her habitual self-control standing her
in good stead, but all the rose-color of the opening of her evening
turned to ashes of roses.

“I had no idea you were so proficient, Miss Vincent,” she said calmly.
“Why haven’t you gone into this long ago?”

Rosalie met her cool regard admiringly.

“Things have changed for us both wonderfully since we met in the Park,”
she said. “You look very lovely to-night.”

“Oh, really?” Helen gave a little laugh and quietly met Mr. Derwent’s
eyes. “How kind!”

“Me next,” said Robert. “We’ll have to beat it in a minute, ’cause
there are a lot more coming; but I want to tell you you’re a wonder. My
nose felt like your foot when it’s asleep, and a pearly tear coursed
down my rounded cheek—”

Here the speaker was pushed aside, and found it best to skip after
Helen’s pink robe.

“Brute says this floor’s all right when the minions get the rugs up,”
he said, as he joined her. “They don’t have any cards here, but you’ll
give me the—yes, the second dance, won’t you—and the—yes, I remember
you dance like a fairy. You must give me a lot.”

Robert ended in a rush of crimson embarrassment as Helen moved steadily
onward toward the corner where Mrs. Nixon had taken a seat.

“Thank you,” she returned. “It is fortunate for me that you dance as
well as you do other things; because after all, I’m a stranger here,
you know, and beggars mustn’t be choosers.”

Mrs. Nixon received the pair with a smile. “Well, my dears,” she said,
“we’ve all done our duty, haven’t we?”

“_Pourvu seulement_ she doesn’t tell mamma,” thought Robert with a
sinking of the heart.

“Haven’t we?” he responded airily. “And look at my noble uncle—I’m not
quite sure whether his name is Quixote or Casabianca; but I hope he’ll
get off the rug soon, so it can be taken up.”

“Yes,” responded Mrs. Nixon graciously. “I’m glad there’s to be
dancing, for I may be a fond mamma, but I do think when you and dear
Helen dance, that the poetry of motion is reached. Where has Mrs. Bruce
disappeared to?”

“Never end your sentences with a preposition, mother! But despite your
inelegance I will go and find her for you;” and Robert moved away, his
eager eyes searching, but not for Irving’s stepmother. He soon descried
the tall outline of his friend, standing alone in the dusk of the
veranda, and he charged upon him.

“Brute, I’ve put my foot in it!” he ejaculated.

Irving turned slowly and regarded him.

“That’s all you ever take it out for, so far as I can discover,” he
replied pessimistically.

“Cruelly unjust, but I’ll pass it by. Say, there aren’t so many peaches
here but that you can do me a favor.”

“Say on.”

Robert made a grimace of rueful self-disgust.

“Of course I ought to have taken the first dance with Helen Maynard.”

“You couldn’t do anything else.”

“Yes, I could. I can always do things that to others would seem
impossible. To me they’re mere bagatelles. I’m about to be snubbed
evermore by the heiress, and disinherited by mother.”

“Speak out.”

“It was an attack of emotional insanity. They always come out of a
clear sky, and she was _so_ enchanting—”

“Who?”

“Hebe. I asked her for the first dance, in Helen’s presence.”

Irving looked the culprit over from head to foot.

“Well,” he remarked, with a severity which seemed disproportionate to
the occasion, “you _are_ the limit!”

“And a transfer!” added Robert humbly. “Now you’re the only person that
can save the day—I mean the evening. If you’ll go in, this minute,—go
in eagerly, you know, just as soon as she sees you, fall over your own
feet in your hurry,—do the thing handsomely, why, you’ll be acting like
a friend! Get your breath as well as you can, and ask her for the first
dance. So you will avert the storm from your tried and true Nixie!”

Irving looked unpromisingly gloomy. “I wasn’t thinking of dancing
to-night,” he said.

“Well, think of it quick, now.” Robert dragged at his reluctant
companion. “Put on a gilt edge by asking for the second one, too. She
can’t give it to you, because I’ve engaged it. When you see me in the
light, you’ll think I’ve turned gray in a single night; but it’s only
the frosty rime that she cast over me when she accepted. Beside, you’ve
got to ask Miss Vincent, haven’t you? You seem to have in_flu_ence with
mamma, and I’d rather you’d bring her over to be chaperoned than do
it myself. Uncle Henry can’t play watchdog very well when it comes to
partners.”

Irving allowed himself to be shoved and pulled toward the door. He
felt the force of Nixie’s last argument, but he was still conscious of
a strange disappointment in the carelessness of Rosalie’s greeting.
Betsy’s earnest talk had fallen upon a wondering credulity, because of
the tenderness that he had felt for this girl from the beginning,—a
feeling totally different from anything he had ever experienced.

Her self-possession, and fleeting notice of himself just now, had given
him an odd shock, and opened his eyes to the fact that he had given
absurd weight to Betsy’s words.

Now, under Robert’s vigorous appeal, he shook himself together.

“I’m a worse sentimental idiot than dear old Betsy,” he thought.

Robert, lurking cautiously in the background, viewed his friend’s
deliberate advance to Mrs. Nixon’s corner, and heaved a sigh of relief.

Slinking into the hall with intent to seek Rosalie, he saw her,
still leaning on the arm of Mr. Derwent, who was leading her, also,
toward the corner where Mrs. Nixon sat enthroned. Robert remained
unostentatiously behind the jamb of the door, and his small bright eyes
twinkled appreciatively as he watched his uncle place a chair near by
for his charge.

“Mrs. Bruce has slid out of it,” he thought gleefully, “and mamma is
Hebe’s chaperon, willy-nilly. I’ll bet she don’t like it a little bit!
Now, Nixie, look bland and don’t let your upper lip wiggle. You may
pull it off yet!”

The rugs had been swiftly removed, and the music started. A number of
couples swung promptly out upon the floor.

Robert saw Irving say something to Rosalie, and then smile and bow to
Helen, who rose and floated away with him.

Then, only, Robert, with an expression of singular innocence, came
leisurely across the floor to his mother’s corner.

She looked at him with a fixed regard, and her nostrils dilated.

“Where were you, Robert?” she asked. “Irving has taken Helen out for
the first dance.”

“Just like him,” returned Robert brazenly. “Mother, you must accustom
yourself to such blows, or your parental pride will be constantly
wounded. I’m not one, two, three with Brute where girls are concerned,
but I’ve had to learn to turn a sunny side to the world in spite of it,
and weep only when alone. I don’t want to grow cynical, but I find that
it is too true that others care little for our sorrows. Miss Vincent,
shall we show them how to do this?”

Rosalie rose, smiling a farewell to Mr. Derwent, and started off in
such perfect step with her partner that he emitted a joyous exclamation.

“Perhaps Hebe isn’t some dancer!” he said. “Say, do you mind my calling
you Hebe? It takes so much less time than Terpsichore.”

“Mr. Nixon, your mother didn’t like this at all,” said Rosalie.

“Well, when you come right down to it,” remarked her partner
philosophically, “there are so few things she does like.”

“But—ought you not to have had this with Miss Maynard?”

“Some carping critics might say so,—Look out, there! Didn’t we duck
neatly under Brute’s elbow? The fact is, Miss Vincent, I’ve graduated
in almost every line except diplomacy; and _you_—you just swept me off
my feet to-night. No—don’t be afraid I shall try to flirt with you.
That requires diplomacy, too, and I make too many breaks ever to be
successful at it. I was crazy about you to-night, and when I heard Ames
say ‘dancing,’ I blurted my innocent wish right out. I’m just a child
of nature—fresh, unspoiled.”

Rosalie laughed. “I’ve heard people say you were fresh,” she said.

“Naughty, naughty!” returned Robert.

“No, you’re the naughty one,” said the girl. “You’ve put me in a
disagreeable position.”

“I don’t believe it, Hebe. I know you are enjoying this.”

She sighed. “You do dance like a—a ribbon,” she admitted.

Robert laughed.

“And what has Helen to complain of?” he asked. “Hasn’t she the great
and only Brute? I’m making the most of your approval of my dancing
before you try it with him. He is one of these haughty heroes, who
h-excel in everything, you know.”

“Including flirting, I suppose,” said Rosalie.

“Couldn’t say. He’s never flirted with me. Humble observation, however,
would deduce that all he ever does is to allow himself to be made love
to.”

Rosalie swallowed, and essayed a laugh.

“Companionship with Brute has made me a socialist, socially, Hebe. Here
I am, cheerful, willing to please—average good-looking. Yes, I maintain
it. Now, Hebe, am I not average good-looking? Don’t speak too quickly.
Remember, Chinese, African, American-Indian—”

“Oh, Mr. Nixon,”—Rosalie did laugh now,—“how can you talk so
constantly, and dance too?”

They were passing Mrs. Nixon, and that lady heard the girlish laugh.
She sighed.

“She certainly dances well. Helen said she was noted for it at school.
I suppose she is a really artistic creature; but Robert should have
been here in time to ask Helen. College has absolutely ruined his
manners.”

Mrs. Nixon leaned toward her brother, who was watching his _protégée_,
pleased in her pleasure.

“Where can Mrs. Bruce be?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” was the reply. “I suppose she has many friends here.”

But Mrs. Nixon doubted if sociability were keeping her friend away.

“I’m afraid she’s pouting somewhere,” she reflected. “I don’t see how I
could have done any differently. It wasn’t _my_ fault that she refused
to go with Irving. It is annoying to have this incident occur right
at the outset of our stay. It would be stupid of her to be offended.
Really that Vincent girl from first to last has given us a great deal
of annoyance!”



CHAPTER XXIV

THE CLASH


WHEN Robert returned Rosalie to her place near Mrs. Nixon, a number of
men who had experienced a clinching of their admiration by the view of
her dancing, hastened to approach.

Many of the same people came to the inn, season after season, and
Irving knew most of them. Some were Harvard men known to Robert as
well, and he at last being alive to Helen’s situation, the group around
the two girls soon became extremely animated. Amidst the strife of
tongues Irving made his way to Rosalie.

“This is ours?” he said.

As they moved away, she spoke: “I hope I sha’n’t offend any one. I
haven’t the least idea what I’ve promised to do.”

In a sort of dream she started in the dance. This was Fairport. In
fifteen minutes she could be standing in Mrs. Pogram’s kitchen, where
the clock ticked loud above the oilcloth shelf, and Loomis Brown
counted the silver she had washed.

What a gulf had lain between this inn, with its airily dressed girls
and their cavaliers, and the chill, dusky room where at dawn she had
made Loomis’s coffee before he took the early train to Portland. Her
hand tightened on Irving’s arm while she recalled the amorous advances
of Mrs. Pogram’s brother, and his change, after her repulsion, to anger
and a mean revenge.

A long, inaudible breath came quivering to her lips as she glided on
under her partner’s perfect guidance. Rosalie loved dancing as only the
artistic nature can love it, and the rising and falling waves of music
went to her brain like wine.

“Cruel Betsy! Wise Betsy!” she thought.

“Do you remember,” said Irving, “the last time I held you like this?”

“I’m afraid I’m very dull,” she replied. “Did we dance together in some
previous incarnation?”

“Don’t you wish to remember, Rosalie?”

“Indeed I do,” she rejoined brightly. “Your dancing couldn’t be
improved.”

Irving kept silence. He was entirely aware that he was beginning
exactly as Betsy had implored him not to do; but he began to suspect
shrewdly that Betsy’s lecture was a shield which had two sides, and
that one of them had been presented to this girl. Hadn’t his mentor
said that Rosalie—and the latter’s totally changed manner—

“Betsy will end by making a conceited ass out of me,” he reflected,
with the relief human nature finds in discovering some one else to
blame for its discomfort.

The dance over, he took his partner out on the veranda, where couples
were promenading in the damp coolness. He found some chairs in a remote
corner.

“These are tolerably dry,” he said. “Shall we sit here?”

“I mustn’t,” she answered.

“Why not? Too cold?”

“Not for me, but too damp for my gown.”

Irving glanced over it in the dusk. “I have an idea that that is
something pretty fine,” he said. “I want to see the black one.”

Rosalie colored. “Shame on Betsy!” she said, laughing. “Has she told
everybody?”

“No one but me, you may be sure. Betsy knows that I am so perfectly
trustworthy, she tells me everything. Did she ever give me a character
to you?”

“Yes—No—I don’t know. Let’s go into the house, Mr. Bruce. This gown
must last me for years, and _years_.”

Irving obediently led the girl within doors, where, in a corner of the
hall, in lieu of palms, were set Christmas trees in tubs. Into a seat
behind these he ushered her.

“I’m afraid my next partner can’t find me here,” she said doubtfully.

“We have the next together.”

“Oh, I don’t think so, Mr. Bruce!”

“I know it, Rosalie. I wonder why I venture to call you Rosalie.”

As he spoke Irving took up her fan and began to use it as he gazed at
her girlish profile.

“I don’t know,” she returned, a little pulse beating in her throat. “I
think, myself, Miss Vincent would sound better.”

“Ah, Betsy!” thought Irving, closing his teeth. “I’ll pay you for this.”

“What need of formality between sworn friends?” he asked.

“I’m starting out on a new life, Mr. Bruce,” she said, turning and
looking at him with a direct gaze.

She seemed to him enchanting. He knew, better than she, that she was
starting out in a new life; and he begrudged it, strangely. He knew her
to be all unconscious as yet of her own charm and power. He dreaded
the opening of those clear eyes that as yet were so modest—the windows
through which one perceived her innocence. While he was justly angry
with Betsy for rousing unthought-of suspicion and caution, he could not
deny the justice of her sympathy.

He met the blue gaze with a smile that set the pulse to beating faster.

“You don’t intend to forget old friends for new, do you?” he asked.

    “‘There is no friend like the old friend, who has shared our morning
          days,’

you know. This little audience was enthusiastic over you, and audiences
always will be; but—

    “‘Fame is the scentless sunflower, with gaudy crown of gold,’

remember.”

“It’s unkind to laugh at me,” returned the girl, with surprising heat.
“You know I have no thought of fame.”

“Rosalie, Rosalie!” he exclaimed and seized her hand protectingly. “I’m
not laughing at you. I believe you could have fame if you wish and
work; but somehow I don’t want the people to have a right to gaze at
you, and listen, and applaud.”

A strange film came over her eyes as she still looked at him. It was as
if she withdrew herself as she took her hand away.

“I suppose,” she said, “that people who have always had their own way
are subject to such fancies.”

“Betsy said that to you!” he exclaimed, acutely.

She shook her head but did not speak.

“Betsy knows nothing of our compact.” He leaned toward her, and she
shrank, but kept her golden head proudly lifted. “Betsy knows nothing
of the moment when we stood above the eagles and knew what in life was—

    “‘the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold.’

Why do I call you Rosalie? Because it means _you_. It is one of the
‘sweets’ that came to me then—”

“Mr. Bruce,” the girl interrupted him, “Betsy _does_ know nothing of
it; but if she did, Betsy is something more than clever, she is wise.
She probably doesn’t read Emerson, but if she did, it would be her
own thought that she would put into his words: ‘Our friendships hurry
to short and poor conclusions, because we have made them a texture of
wine and dreams, instead of the tough fibre of the human heart.’” The
speaker took a firm hold on the sweet voice that threatened to break.
“That morning was a time of wine and dreams. I’ve always been a child.
I’ve always dreamed dreams; but to-night I am awake, I am starting out
in real life, with my eyes open.” Those eyes had been downcast, but now
she lifted them again to her companion’s flushed face. “I shall be very
glad if you help me—and not hinder.”

“The tough fibre of the human heart,” repeated Irving.

“Yes,” returned the girl. “It is a slow growth,—but it holds.”

A black-coated biped hovering before the Christmas trees, now
retreating and now advancing undecidedly, heard his name with relief.

“Is that you, Mr. Ames?” asked Rosalie, rising with decision. The young
man addressed doubled around the end of the grove with eager agility.

“I didn’t intend to hide,” laughed the girl.

Irving rose also, and when the two had gone, sank back on the seat,
playing absently with the fan he still held.

His thoughts were busy, and his teeth tightly closed.

“What do I want, anyway?” he reflected. “Which is Betsy: a meddlesome
busybody, or a guardian angel? I’ll take no chances on the angel
proposition. She’s a busybody. I’ll see her to-morrow.”

Irving shook his head threateningly, and a sudden nervous twist of his
strong fingers broke a couple of sticks of the pretty fan. He frowned
in dismay, and fitted them together in the futile manner inseparable
from the occasion.

“Must last her years and years,” he reflected. “Well, it’s up to me
to get her another fan, that’s evident.” And with a clearing of the
countenance as if this consideration presented distinct consolation,
he rose and wandered out of the arbor. “I wonder where Madama is,” he
reflected. She had not come into his mind since her refusal of his
request drove him to Mrs. Nixon. “How am I to revive her interest in
Rosalie?” he wondered as he moved down the hall.

As soon as Mrs. Bruce had made her perfunctory acknowledgment to
Rosalie, she slipped from Robert’s side, unnoticed by a culprit
absorbed in his own misdemeanors, and with one glance after Irving and
Mrs. Nixon, who were returning to the other end of the room, she moved
into the hall, and up the stairs of the inn.

She made no effort to curb the hot resentment that possessed her in
every fibre. Her one desire was to reach the cause of her suffering,
and wreak her sense of outrage upon her.

It was half an hour after Captain Salter’s departure, and Betsy was
smiling to herself as she wound the living-room clock. Her thoughts
were with Rosalie; confident of the girl’s success, yet half-frightened
by the chance of fortune which had united the Yellowstone party to
witness her début. She imagined the scene in the spacious living-room
of the hotel. Had the rain not fallen, she had meant to ask Hiram to
take her over there, that she might look in through the windows and see
the dear child standing, the cynosure of all eyes, even if she could
not hear her voice.

She felt certain of Mr. Derwent’s satisfaction in her. As a contraband
guest at the Canyon Hotel, Rosalie had recited for him in her room, and
to-night Betsy’s heart swelled in the realization that he was seeing
the first fruits of his generosity.

Doubts of Mrs. Bruce’s approval did sweep occasionally, like filmy
clouds, across the clear happiness of her mind; but the importance of
Rosalie’s good fortune was paramount, and Betsy was able to sweep them
away.

Suddenly she heard the sound of wheels stopping before the gate. She
glanced at the clock.

“So early?” she thought. “They can’t be comin’ home now.”

In a minute more some one ran up the steps, and Mrs. Bruce, in a long
light wrap, a chiffon scarf falling from her elaborately dressed hair,
came swiftly into the room.

Betsy met the flashing eyes in dismay. She hurried to meet her.

“Mercy! Mrs. Bruce—” she said, nerving herself for some disaster. “How
white you are! Has something happened? Or are you ill?”

With her care-taking impulse Betsy tried to remove her mistress’s
wrap, but the lady twitched away from her. She had been nursing her
wrath to keep it warm, and it was very warm indeed; but something in
Betsy’s presence, in the gaze of those honest eyes, threatened to make
the enormity of the latter’s offense shrink. Mrs. Bruce was obliged
to remember the attitude of Irving’s head as he walked away with
Mrs. Nixon, careless of her own opinions or feelings, forgetful of
her,—utterly forgetful of her for the first time in her remembrance.
Her narrow mind, tenacious of its two idols,—her own importance and her
boy,—suffered intensely.

“Stand away from me!” she cried; and Betsy, too dumfounded to move,
stared mutely while the vials of Mrs. Bruce’s wrath began to pour out.

“We have been too kind to you. You forget your place. What right had
you to do such a thing as to place Rosalie Vincent where she must be
accepted as a companion by people of our class? What right had you to
interfere so with the pleasure of our summer? Ask yourself why you
told me nothing about it. You will say, if you are honest, that it was
because you knew I would not approve. I have done everything for the
Vincent girl that has been done. I had a right to be consulted, at
least. But you, forgetting that you were my servant, went on, managing
to ruin our summer, spending, like a fool, your long years’ savings to
bring that girl east, and dress her unsuitably, leaving me, and putting
me to inconvenience in order to do so, going entirely out of your
sphere, and making yourself a special providence. You think yourself so
clever! Clever Betsy, indeed! Your head is turned. It is largely our
fault!”

She paused, panting. Betsy stood in the same spot, but her anxious face
had settled into lines of stony stillness. Only her eyes kept fixed on
Mrs. Bruce’s face.

“Speak!” cried the latter, hysterically. “How did you dare do this
thing?”

There was another space of silence, then Betsy did speak.

“Is there anything more you want to say about it, Mrs. Bruce?”

The lady shrugged her shoulders angrily, and moving to the divan
dropped off her downy wrap.

“I suppose nothing that I can say will pierce through your
self-conceit; but I am willing to have any explanation you have to
offer. You think you’ve outwitted everybody, and you’ve succeeded in
getting your own way; but it’s nothing to be proud of, Betsy—and old
age will be coming upon you, and you’ll think of that money a good many
times, I can tell you.”

She paused again, and looking up found Betsy’s grave eyes following
her. There was another short silence, then Betsy spoke.

“Mrs. Bruce, when you are thinkin’ this evenin’ over, as you will,
there’s just one thing I’ll ask you to remember. It’s an old sayin’ out
o’ the far east: ‘Of the unspoken word you are master. The spoken word
is master o’ you.’ Good-night.”

With this Betsy walked out of the room without one backward look, and
Mrs. Bruce stood, baffled, and trembling with her own excitement.

Alone, she sank on the divan with her face buried in the pillows.

It was quite within the range of possibility that at this moment Irving
was dancing with Rosalie Vincent, and did not even observe her own
absence from the room.

She sobbed, stifling the sound in the pillows lest Betsy should hear
and return to her assistance, believing her to be repentant. It was
like Betsy to refuse to answer her; to treat her like a child; to
throw upon her, by her manner, the blame of all that occurred. It was
infuriating; unbearable. Her breath came in spasms, and she fought for
her self-control.



CHAPTER XXV

WHITE SWEET PEAS


CAPTAIN SALTER, in his five years of widowhood, had fallen into habits
that varied but little from day to day. He cooked his own breakfast,
and was off to his boat, or to the long shed where in winter he built
them for other people, before Mrs. Bachelder set foot within his doors.

This Sabbath morning he rose, shaved, and made his customary
demi-toilet, then went out to the stove and set the kettle to boil.

He lingered for a minute, smiling, before the Yellowstone postal-cards,
his thoughts busy with the events of the evening before.

He held an imaginary reel in his hands and began slowly winding the
invisible line.

“Take your time, Miss Betsy,” he hummed.

His cottage stood on a corner of land, facing out to sea. Rocks were
to the left of it, a stony beach to the right. His boat-house was in
sight. A flower-garden was in front, with a path that ran down between
the beds.

Many a summer visitor had admired the position of the little white
house, and tried to tempt Hiram to part with it; but his grandfather
had built it, and the captain’s invariable reply to would-be purchasers
was: “I haven’t come to that, yet.”

By habit he now moved to the window to note the sea’s mood. Some
strange object caught his eye. His head went forward, his eyes seemed
to bulge. A woman was seated on the rustic bench outside. Her back
was toward him as she watched the rolling waves. She was dressed in
dark brown, with hat and veil; and a traveling-bag reposed on the seat
beside her.

“Steady, Hiram, steady!” he murmured, making long silent strides to the
inner room, and catching up his coat. He gave two strokes of the brush
to his stiff hair, and then strode out on tiptoe again to the window.

“’Twa’n’t any dream,” he muttered. “She’s there! Steady! Look out for
the boom!”

He opened the door, and as Betsy turned her head, he spoke, quite as if
it had been his daily custom to greet her at six-thirty A. M. in his
garden.

“Good-mornin’. Things look kind o’ washed up and shinin’ after the
rain, don’t they?”

His keen eyes studied his caller’s face as he advanced with a casual
air.

“It’s a beautiful mornin’,” returned Betsy, her hand clasping the top
of her bag tightly, and bright spots coming in her pale cheeks.

“You look as if you was goin’ off jauntin’ again,” said Hiram, feeling
his way with care. “Gettin’ to be such a traveler you don’t make
anythin’ of dartin’ off and dartin’ back again, like a—like a swaller.”

The lump in Betsy’s throat would not let her speak. Her silence
mystified the captain more than anything she could have said.
Determined not to frighten her, he plunged into generalities.

“I think it’s about time you paid a visit to my garden. Don’t you think
it’s lookin’ good? If you’d a seen them lilies o’ the valley a month
ago ’twould ’a’ done your heart good. They’re a-spreadin’ so, I donno
but the cottage’ll have to git up ’n git. I remembered what you said
once—that is,” added Hiram, correcting himself lest his visitor should
rise and fly,—“my mother was always set on sweet peas, I try to have
plenty of ’em.”

“They’re perfectly beautiful,” said Betsy, her eyes resting on the riot
of color that embedded the white house in violet and rose and white.
“I think it’s my favorite flower.”

“That’s what you said—” began Hiram eagerly, and then cleared his
throat and stammered. “My mother—yes, she used to say they was like
butterflies, just swayin’ on the stem, and ready to fly.”

Betsy met his eyes as he stood apart, his stalwart figure uneasily
moving, now toward her and then away, in his eager embarrassment.
Something in her look drew him close to the seat.

“There ain’t any train for an hour yet,” he said gently. “I s’pose you
took a bite, but you’ll have breakfast with me, won’t you, Betsy, ’fore
I take ye over to the depot? I s’pose you’re leavin’ again.”

“Yes.”

She said it gravely, and dropped her eyes from his kind face.

“For how long this time?”

“Forever.”

The word was spoken quietly; but her lips quivered.

“_What?_” The man started, and frowned.

[Illustration: YOU’LL HAVE BREAKFAST WITH ME, WON’T YOU?]

“Oh, Hiram,”—the lips were quivering still, and she paused, then
reached up a hand which was quickly lost in both of his,—“can’t you
see? I’ve come home.”

There were only the rocks, and the beach, and the waves that hissed and
broke, to look upon them.

Instantly Hiram was beside her on the garden-seat, with Betsy in
his arms, her thin cheek pressed against his broad chest, and sobs
convulsing her slender body.

He scowled, and smiled at the restless sea across his precious burden.
Not a word he said, but his big hand patted her in gentle rhythm, and
once he kissed her temple.

At last she pushed herself from him, and sat up.

“There’s one favor I’m goin’ to beg,” she said, with pauses, her
handkerchief still at her eyes. “That is, that you won’t ask me why. I
feel as if I couldn’t go over it.”

“My Betsy,” replied the captain slowly, “there was only one question
I ever wanted to ask o’ you. I did it a good many times, ’cause you
didn’t give the right answer. Now you’ve done it, and I sha’n’t ask ye
anything more.”

“And Hiram,” she went on, struggling for self-control, “I have a
feelin’ as if—as if I didn’t want it—to happen here.”

“What?” asked the captain, doubtfully, “breakfast?”

“No—no—the—I feel as if I didn’t want any minister in Fairport.”

“I see.” He nodded. “Leave it to me, Betsy. Leave everything to me. I
know I’m a blunderer lots o’ times; but I’ll attend to this _right_. I
love ye.” He drew her down again on his comfortable shoulder. “Will ye
come in?” he asked, after a minute.

“No. I’ll stay out here, Hiram.”

“All right.” He kissed her forehead. “To think ye’ll stay!” he said
softly. “That’s the wonderful part of it. To think ye’ll stay!”

He went into the house and brought a calico cushion with him from
somewhere, putting it behind her back. She accepted it, too spent to
smile.

Hiram saw her pallor, and hastened the breakfast. Soon a little table
appeared before the garden-seat, and coffee and toast and eggs were
speedily forthcoming.

He sat beside her, and arranged everything with the utmost care.

“How good you are!” she said, once. Otherwise she was silent, and so
was he.

Before they had finished, a small boy entered the gate with papers
under his arm. His jaw dropped as he recognized the captain and a guest
at breakfast under the ragged balm-of-Gilead tree.

“B’Judas, I forgot him,” muttered the host. “Come here, sonny.”

The boy obeyed, and mechanically handed the captain his paper while
keeping unwinking eyes on Betsy. “Now d’ye want to earn a quarter?”

“Yus.”

“Well, go to Mrs. Bachelder and tell her somethin’ for me. Think ye
can?”

“Yus.”

“She’s ben wantin’ to go to Portland and do some tradin’. Can you tell
her that I’ve got some business to do that’ll keep me away all to-day
and she needn’t come over to get dinner?”

“Yus.”

“And she can go up town to-day or to-morrer mornin’ and do her tradin’
if she wants to. Can ye tell her that?”

“Yus.”

“Well, go on then. Here’s yer quarter. Go right there from here. D’ye
hear?”

“Yus.”

“If I find to-morrer that ye haven’t done it, I’ll use ye for
porgie-bait. Understand?”

“Yus.”

With this the boy removed his eyes from Betsy for the first time, and
ran at a dog-trot toward the beach.

“I never saw that child,” said Betsy.

“No. There’s another generation comin’ up. He won’t be able to tell
Mrs. Bachelder who’s havin’ breakfast with me; and when she comes home
from Portland she’ll get a letter tellin’ her she’s lost her job.”

“I’ll write it,” said Betsy. “She’s a good soul.”

“You’ll write it!” The captain was standing, and he paused, a cup and
saucer in each hand, and gazed at her admiringly. “Clever Betsy! and
she’s mine.”

“She’s taken good care of you, Hiram. I want her to know we appreciate
it.”

“We!” repeated the radiant man. “You care that I’ve been took good care
of, Betsy?”

The coffee had restored some energy to the guest. She gave her
one-sided smile. “I do wish, Hiram,” she said deprecatingly, “that you
wouldn’t feel you’ve got so much in gettin’ me.”

To her consternation he dropped the gold-banded old china he had been
holding. Both cups fell in tinkling pieces on the ground as he wiped
his eyes, and blew his nose lustily.

“O Hiram!” she cried, starting.

“Never mind, dear.” The man’s breath caught. “I didn’t notice. I had to
work at the pumps. Our ship o’ matrimony is bein’ launched. Let’s say
we broke ’em on purpose over it. Nothin’ was too good. Set still.”

And Betsy did. She leaned back against the calico cushion and let her
faithful lover carry away the table, while she watched the sea, and
breathed the sumptuous perfume of the sweet peas.

The last thing Hiram carried into the house was the traveling-bag. Her
hand went out to it involuntarily as he picked it up; but he looked at
her, and she leaned back again, and let it go.

At last he took his knife, and going about the flowers, cut a large
bunch of white sweet peas. These he tied with a piece of linen thread,
and Betsy smiled as he gave them to her. He watched while she fastened
them in the front of her white waist.

“Are you ready now?” he asked.

For answer she rose, and together they moved down to the floating
wharf, and Hiram handed her into the row-boat by which they went out to
the Clever Betsy.

It took some time to unfurl the sails and put them up, and Betsy went
into the little cabin and made acquaintance with her namesake.

It was queer, she thought, that it didn’t seem queerer to be here, and
irresponsible of all things earthly except Hiram. Even Rosalie did not
need her. Last night’s arraignment was proof positive of her success.

Her duty was here now, and nowhere else; and the wonderful feature of
the position was that it seemed so natural, and—yes, so sweet. As the
boat bounded forward, borne on strong white wings, Betsy’s heart seemed
to soar also into some new and freer region. Some wireless message from
a New England ancestry reached her.

“Is it right to be so happy?” she asked herself. Suddenly she turned
and met Hiram’s eyes.

“This is a long leg, Betsy,” he said quietly. “Come over and sit
against this cushion. I want to get my hand on ye and know it ain’t a
dream.”

“Yes, it’s right!” answered Betsy’s heart, and she obeyed.



CHAPTER XXVI

IN BETSY’S ROOM


MRS. BRUCE did not sleep much after her stormy ebullition. She heard
Irving and Robert come in, and knew that Irving came softly to her door
and tried it. Finding it locked, he moved away as quietly. She knew he
was feeling a tardy anxiety about her, and she wept again.

Toward morning she fell asleep, and when next her eyes opened, the sun
was high.

Only the slumberous sound of the sea broke the Sabbath stillness.

From force of habit Mrs. Bruce put her hand out to touch the bell on
the table beside her bed. It always summoned Betsy with the cup of hot
water she liked to drink before she rose.

She arrested her own movement. What! Was Betsy to be allowed to fall
into the usual routine and minister to her mistress’s needs as if
nothing had happened?

Summon her? Certainly not. Betsy must be made to feel that a change
had taken place, and that she must exhibit some regret before she could
be received back into favor.

So Mrs. Bruce arose and made her toilet, and donning a negligée of silk
and lace, proceeded to the dining-room.

Irving and Robert were already there, and Alice, the cook, was putting
breakfast on the table. Irving strode forward to meet her. He noted her
heavy eyes as he kissed her forehead.

“Pardon, Madama, I thought you weren’t coming down. Nixie and I are in
a hurry, and as long as Betsy was busy with you, I asked Alice to put
the things on the table.”

Mrs. Bruce moved to her place. “Betsy hasn’t been with me,” she said.

“She hasn’t? The poor dear must be ill then,” said Irving with concern.
“Alice says she hasn’t been downstairs. Go up, will you,” he continued
to the cook who was just leaving the room, “please go up to Betsy’s
room and see what is the matter.”

The three seated themselves, and Mrs. Bruce’s dainty hands grew busy
with the coffee percolator. Irving’s furtive glances assured him that
there had been a storm. Discretion suggested that no reference be made
to last evening. Fearing therefore that Nixie might err in that line,
he hastened to speak.

“We’ve a great plan on for to-day, Madama,” he began, “and you’re in
it.”

“That is certainly surprising,” rejoined the lady.

“We tried to find you at the inn to tell you about it last night,” said
Nixie with insistent cheer, “but you were so exclusive, nobody knew
where you were, and at last we found you had come home.”

Mrs. Bruce’s lips compressed firmly and her eyes could not lift above
the percolator.

Irving stepped warningly on his friend’s foot under the table. At
this juncture Alice returned. She seemed to be laboring under some
excitement which made her forget her previous embarrassment in the
unfamiliar region of the dining-room.

“Betsy isn’t there,” she said.

“Queer,” remarked Irving, without looking up from the egg he was
breaking.

“She’s _gone_!” declared the girl.

“Look on the dresser!” burst forth Robert dramatically. “The note will
be found.”

Mrs. Bruce paused, coffee-cup in hand, and looked at the cook, but did
not speak.

“All right, Alice,” said Irving carelessly. “She has run into a
neighbor’s.”

“No, sir, it looks queer up there,” returned the girl, her brogue
increasing. “The bedclothes is all folded. Not a thing is on the
dresser, sir. She’s _gone_.”

Alice’s blank expression began to be reflected in Irving’s face.

“Folded? What does that signify?” he asked.

“’Tis her trunk there too, sir. Locked and strapped it is. Sure she
niver said a word to me!”

Irving pushed his chair back from the table. He looked at Mrs. Bruce.
She had grown very white.

“Very well, Alice,” he said quietly. “I’ll see what it means. Thank
you. You may go.”

The Irish girl withdrew, marvelling as she went.

Robert looked from mother to son, puzzled at their seriousness.

“Did you know this, Madama?”

“Certainly not,” she replied stiffly.

“Do you believe it?”

“I don’t know what to think. Betsy grows more erratic every day. She
didn’t bring my hot water this morning.”

Irving studied her face an instant more, then he left the room and
ran upstairs to Betsy’s room. It was dismantled. The dresser, where a
flexible case had always stood open, containing six pictures of himself
from babyhood to college days, was bare, even of a cover. A trunk,
locked and strapped, stood a little way out from the bare wall.

Irving sat down on it in the desolate chamber, unnerved by the shock;
and although the riddle seemed a horribly easy one to solve, the
solution was so repulsive that he prayed to find another explanation.

Mrs. Bruce’s early disappearance from the inn, her heavy eyes this
morning, Betsy’s warnings and exhortations to him in the Park, and Mrs.
Bruce’s exhibition of unfriendliness to Rosalie last night, all pointed
to one conclusion. His teeth clenched as he sat there, thinking back
from his earliest remembrance, and all along through his life, of the
unselfish care which a fine nature had devoted to his family. And this
was the end. It was a nightmare. It was impossible, unthinkable.

Robert Nixon, left alone with his hostess, had seldom spent a more
uncomfortable season than that first five minutes after Irving’s
departure.

Mrs. Bruce stared straight before her, her face wearing an expression
of fright and obstinacy.

Robert, with increasing embarrassment, began to feel that he was in the
midst of some mysterious crisis, and fervently wished himself in the
bosom of his family at the inn.

“I’m sorry to see you look so tired, Mrs. Bruce,” he said, when the
long minutes had made the silence impossible.

“Shouldn’t you think he’d come down by this time?” she asked in a
strained voice. “You see how it is, Nixie. Betsy rules this household
with a rod of iron. Here is Irving upset, won’t eat his breakfast, just
because she has taken a notion for an early stroll.”

Robert did not answer, and a cuckoo popping out of its door and
remarking that it was half-past nine, made him jump nervously.

An instant later Mrs. Bruce pushed her chair back from the table,
unable longer to endure the suspense.

“You’ll excuse me, Nixie, if I see—” she said, and rose. The laces of
her silken gown trailed so hurriedly through the door, that Robert had
time but to take a step after her.

He sank back in his chair.

“Well, what does it all mean?” he murmured. “This is a cozy little
vacation breakfast!”

Mrs. Bruce held her lip between her teeth as she mounted the stairs.

“Whatever has happened,” she thought, “I shall hold my own. What I said
to Betsy was nothing but the truth. Irving will cross-question me, but
I don’t care—”

Her excitement was at fever-heat by the time she reached the open door
of Betsy’s room.

She paused there and supported herself against the jamb. What she saw
acted like a shower-bath upon her.

The familiar walls were stripped, the breeze blew through the silent,
empty room, and there, seated on the trunk, was Irving, his face buried
in his hands, his broad shoulders convulsed.

The only time she had ever seen him weep was when his father died. This
room, too, seemed like the chamber of death.

“Irving!” she cried out in sudden pain, and ran to him.

He put out one hand and held her off. She pressed her own lips with her
fingers to hold their quivering, and stared at him, miserably.

He rose from the trunk, walked over to the window, and stood there with
his back to her, controlling himself and wiping his eyes.

Betsy’s words seemed to echo in her heart as she stood, hesitating and
wretched.

“Of the unspoken word you are master. The spoken word is master of you.”

Her breath came fast. “Why has she done this, Irving?” she asked
unsteadily.

“That is for you to tell,—if you will,” he answered. His voice was low
and thick.

She drew a long sobbing breath. He had pushed her away. He had shrunk
from her.

“You blame me, do you, before you have heard a word?” she asked.

“Let’s not have any nonsense, or justification,” he answered, without
turning. “Something has occurred which I would have given ten years of
my life to prevent.”

The iron entered his listener’s soul. All her body trembled. She did
not know that at this very moment he was fighting for her against his
own heart; forcing himself to remember her love for him, and the long
years of her devotion. A petty, petted woman, he reminded himself,
whose shallows he had perceived even as a child; and he controlled the
anger against her which filled him; setting a guard upon the tongue
that longed to lash her until her pitiful vanity should be dead beyond
recall. She stood there, mute, and he continued to stand with his back
to her.

“You left the inn last night, in anger,” he said at last.

“Hurt! So hurt, Irving,” she cried.

“You came home and wreaked your ill-temper on Betsy—Betsy, whose little
finger is of more worth than your whole body and mine.”

Mrs. Bruce panted and flushed. “I did talk to her of her ill
judgment—you don’t know, Irving—what do you think of her spending her
savings of years on Rosalie Vincent?”

“She didn’t.”

“Why, of course she did. Who else paid the hundreds of dollars which
brought her here and equipped her?”

“An old friend of her father’s family. Betsy had no need to spend a
cent for her, although she would have asked nothing better, I have no
doubt; because her life has been spent in doing for others. She knew
that Rosalie would not accept such gifts from her, because that girl is
a kindred noble soul.”

Mrs. Bruce took a step backward in this destruction of the very
foundation of her defense.

“I don’t ask to know all the pitiful scene that took place. This,”
Irving indicated the desolation of the room with a wave of his hand,
“this speaks. Betsy has gone—”

“She did it in revenge,” cried Mrs. Bruce. “She knew how it would make
you suffer. She wanted to punish me.”

“Alas!” said Irving, “I know Betsy. She has been driven out of my
father’s house—_my_ house—without first talking to me; without putting
her good arms around my neck—” The speaker’s voice stopped short; his
shoulders were again convulsed.

Mrs. Bruce stood in the same spot, watching him with miserable eyes,
wringing her hands.

“Don’t—don’t say such things, Irving. Don’t feel so. I’ll—I’ll do
anything. I’ll find her and—and apologize—I was mistaken—I’ll say so.”

Irving made a gesture of repression. She gazed at him, mute and
miserable.

At last he turned and faced her. She was a figure to excite compassion
in that moment, as she met the regard of his reddened eyes.

“It is too late for that, Madama. The break has come. It can’t be
mended. Betsy would never go in this way if there were a possibility of
her coming back.”

A sense of her own loss came to Mrs. Bruce with the kinder tone of
Irving’s voice.

“I wish to speak to you also of another matter; of the cause of your
excitement last night, before we part.”

“Part!” she repeated acutely.

“I mean only leaving this room. I wish for your own sake that you may
regret the unwomanliness of your attitude toward Miss Vincent—Rosalie.”

Mrs. Bruce lifted questioning, dilated eyes.

“To think that it was she—that innocent girl, who could move you to
cause this disaster. Examine your own consciousness. See what it is
that could give the Powers of Darkness such easy access and sway.”

“I was jealous, Irving—jealous of Mrs. Nixon—”

“And angry because you could not dominate the situation,” added Irving.

A painful color burned Mrs. Bruce’s face.

“I’m going to tell you,” he went on after a pause, “that no girl I have
ever met has attracted me as Rosalie Vincent does.”

“Irving!”

“I’ve known many charming girls. They are all in one class. She is in
another. I don’t understand it. I don’t know what it may mean. I tell
you this because it may mean everything to me; and I feel it is due
you to know it, since your sentiment toward Rosalie seems so strong.
Then you can decide what your attitude will be for the remainder of the
summer.”

Mrs. Bruce regarded him, her lips apart.

After a pause he spoke in his ordinary voice.

“We planned last evening that the Yellowstone party should go on a
picnic to-day with Captain Salter. Do you care to go?”

She shook her head.

“Nor I. I would give a great deal to have this day, alone.” Again his
throat closed.

“To mourn! to mourn!” thought Mrs. Bruce, wretchedly.

“But I can’t. I must go at once to see the captain, and then up to the
inn. Good-by, Madama.” He approached and laid a hand on her shoulder.
He realized the blow he had given her. “We must do the best we can,” he
said, and left the room.

She stood there, long, in the same position.

“I wonder,” she thought confusedly, “if I am not the most miserable
woman in the world.”

After a while she moved, and spoke through a tube which led to the
kitchen. She told Alice that she would not need to get any dinner. Then
she went to her room and closed the door. Stillness reigned again but
for the subdued roar of waves.

“Some one will come for her trunk,” she reflected. “If she took a
morning train it will have to be expressed.”

She held to that thought in the long hours of exhaustion that followed.
Some one would come for the trunk, and she must not be asleep.

The middle of the afternoon a wagon stopped before the house. Mrs.
Bruce was off her bed, alertly.

The feet of the expressman sounded on the stairs. Mrs. Bruce met him in
the upper hall. To her relief it was a stranger who appeared.

“A trunk to go from here?” he said.

“Yes.” She led the way. “Is it prepaid?” she asked as he laid hands
upon it.

“No.”

“Sha’n’t I do it then? Where is it to go?” The speaker’s heart beat
fast under the careless words.

“No, ma’am. No need. Cap’n Salter’s good.”

“Captain—” She arrested herself. “Oh, it’s to go to the captain’s.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Mrs. Bruce returned to her room and sat on the side of the bed in deep
meditation. Betsy might store her possessions in the house of an old
friend until her plans were made.

The sense of desolation that overtook her as the trunk had disappeared
submerged her afresh; and Irving’s words returned to pierce her.

Rosalie Vincent—in a class by herself. Her splendid Irving, whose
career was to have made her life one pageant of gratified pride.

She sank upon her pillows with a groan. Her world was falling about her
like a flimsy house of cards.

In the evening she heard him come in. He had to pass her room to get to
his. She stood in the open doorway.

“Did you enjoy your picnic, dear?” she asked, as he appeared.

“We didn’t have any. I found Captain Salter’s house deserted, and his
boat gone. I’ve been taking a long walk.”

“Indeed! I thought perhaps you would find—find Betsy at Captain
Salter’s.”

“Why?” the question was quick.

“Her trunk went there this afternoon.”

“Madama!”

Mrs. Bruce felt a faint satisfaction in the amazement her information
conveyed.

“I wonder—” said Irving; and repeated vaguely, “I wonder.”

“I thought she might be storing it there,” hazarded Mrs. Bruce meekly.

Irving stood, thinking, for a minute, but to her disappointment he made
no reply.

“Good-night,” he said, and kissed her forehead as he had always done.

He went on to his room, his thoughts busy.

The house was deserted. The boat was gone. That was what she had done,
then.

“Betsy! Dear Betsy!” he murmured.

He looked at his watch, then took a sudden determination.

Like a thief he stole downstairs without a sound, and out of doors.

Then he started on a slow, steady run down the village street. It was
not a long pull to the isolated cottage among the rocks, and when he
came in sight of it he was rewarded by seeing a light in the windows.

Stealthily drawing near, he peered within. There he could see a
cheerful tea-table, and Captain Salter and Betsy eating their late
supper.

A lump rose in his throat. The trunk still stood on the piazza, and
he passed it, to open the door gently. Smiling and dim-eyed he stood
before the pair, who pushed their chairs back from the table.

“Well, _Irving_!” cried the captain’s big voice.

He extended a welcoming hand, but the visitor did not see it. He had
fallen on his knees beside the bride’s chair, and buried his face in
her lap.

She put both arms around his shoulders as she had done a hundred times
to console some childish grief, and sudden tears rained from the eyes
she raised to her husband.

The captain rose, and walked over to the window.

Irving lifted his cheek to Betsy’s breast.

“Mr. Irving, dear,” she said brokenly, “you know—”

“Yes. Don’t explain. Don’t speak. I know. But I remember, Betsy. I
remember so much, that I couldn’t stay away. My mother and you, Betsy.
My mother and you.—So much.—So much that I can’t say—But my heart is
full of it—and I wanted to kiss you—to kiss you before I went to sleep.”

“Darling boy! Darling child!” said Betsy, and pressed her cheek against
his hair.

Then she kissed him tenderly, and he her, and he rose, and with a
parting caress of his hand upon hers, crossed to the bridegroom,
quietly blowing his nose by the window.

“Congratulations,” he said thickly.

The captain seized his offered hand speechlessly, and a mighty mutual
grip ensued.

Then Irving slipped out of the open door, closed it softly behind him,
and ran down the garden’s perfumed path.



CHAPTER XXVII

BETSY RECEIVES


BETSY’S letter to Mrs. Bachelder was a lighted match to a fuse. Within
an hour Betsy’s Fairport, to a man, woman, and child, knew that she had
linked her fortunes to Captain Salter’s.

Mrs. Pogram was one of the first to call upon the bride. Enveloped
in a black shawl, and moving with heavy deliberation, the mournful
lady walked up the path bordered with fragrant pinks, and looked
with lugubrious but appreciative eyes about the sunny garden of the
rock-bound cottage.

Betsy saw her coming, and opened the door.

“That’s right, Mrs. Pogram. This is neighborly,” she said.

The visitor regarded her with doleful curiosity, examining her gingham
dress and white apron, and the smooth arrangement of her trim head,
with approval.

“You look awfully well, Betsy,” she said.

“Will you come in, or do you like to sit out here in the sunshine?”

Mrs. Pogram sniffed. “The grass is kind o’ damp, I guess,” she objected.

“Perhaps it is,” said Betsy. “Come in, then. Before another summer
we’re goin’ to have a real nice veranda all across the front.”

“How you talk!” returned the caller, following her inside and accepting
a cushioned rocker. “It sounds good to hear of anybody prosperin’. I
haven’t scarcely got my breath since I heard o’ your marriage. And they
say you wasn’t married in Fairport. They say you took the boat and went
off and had a preacher from Mere Point row out with a witness and get
aboard and marry you, ’cause Hiram wanted the knot tied on the sea;
said he was goin’ to have a sailor’s knot and make a sure thing of it.
And then I heard you all danced a hornpipe!”

Betsy laughed into the curious face with its down-drawn lips. “What
a good time somebody had spinnin’ that yarn,” she said. “Now tell me
about yourself, Mrs. Pogram.”

“It looks awful comfortable here,” declared the visitor wistfully. “I
didn’t know as you and Hiram was goin’ to get married.”

“Well, you see we did. I’m your neighbor now, for good.”

“’Tis good, Betsy. ’Tis so.”

The visitor rocked as she inspected. Her gloomy garb and countenance in
the cheerful room gave an effect as of a portly raven in a solarium.

“If you’d ’a’ give folks some warnin’,” she went on, “you’d ’a’ had
presents from your well-wishers and old friends. Why was you so
suddent, Betsy?”

The hostess directed a one-sided smile toward the open window, near
which she was sitting. “Sometimes things that seem sudden have been a
long time growin’,” she said.

“I s’pose so. I think a sight of you,” declared the visitor with a
sniff. “I’d like nothin’ better’n to give you a spoon if I thought
there was any hope o’ Loomis not noticin’ it; but Loomis is goin’ to
get married himself, and he’s more’n ever set on keepin’ the estate
together. I’ve been thinkin’ a whole lot about it, ’cause I’ve decided
that when he’s got his own home I’d ruther make a division. I’d ruther
have less and not be pestered.”

“I would, too,” said Betsy.

“And if that time ever comes, you can count on me for a spoon.”

“Thank you,” returned the bride. “Don’t worry about it, Mrs. Pogram. I
think even more of the will than the deed.”

“Well, I heard from Rosalie at last,” announced the caller. “She was in
Boston, and had found some old friend of her father’s who was doin’ for
her. She didn’t say much, just a real pleasant little note, sayin’ she
was all right and would let me hear again soon.” Mrs. Pogram lowered
her voice, lest her brother’s dapper astral body might be floating
near. “Her note cheered me up consid’able, Betsy, and I’ve been
thinkin’ that after Loomis was married I could have Rosalie back again,
just as well as not!”

Betsy’s face grew inscrutable. “I saw Rosalie in Boston myself,” she
began; and at that moment the door, which had been ajar, opened, and
the girl herself appeared before them.

She wore a dark-blue sailor suit, her sleeves were rolled up, and her
face was alight with feeling.

“I heard my name!” she cried. “Oh, Betsy, I’ve just learned about you!”

In an instant the two were locked in each other’s arms, while Mrs.
Pogram, her mouth open, her eyes winking as if to dispel cobwebs,
leaned back in her chair.

“Do you see my visitor?” asked Betsy.

“Why, Auntie Pogram! You?” said the girl; and hastening to the sombre
figure, she kissed her. “I was coming to see you to-day,” she went on.
“It was my first opportunity. Everything has happened so fast.”

“You’re—” stammered Mrs. Pogram amazedly, “you’re livin’ in Fairport,
Rosalie?”

“Yes, at the inn.”

If it were possible for Mrs. Pogram’s back to cling more limply to her
chair, it did so now.

The girl laughed. “Yes, it’s a fairy story, Auntie Pogram, but I’m
living at the inn and paying for my board in the pleasantest way.”

“Waitin’ on table?” asked Mrs. Pogram.

“No;” the girl flushed and laughed. “Speaking pieces, just the way I
used to do for you.”

“You don’t say so! I was just tellin’ Betsy, Loomis is goin’ to get
married; and then I want you to come back to me, Rosalie.”

A creeping nausea stole around the girl’s heart.

“Thank you,” she said, “but I’ve grown so conceited I believe I can
make my own living.”

Betsy watched her in fond silence; and Rosalie returned to her side. “I
just looked in to hug you and to say I’m glad,” she said. “I’ll come
again, soon.”

“What are you going to do to-day?” asked Betsy.

“I’m going canoeing with Mr. Nixon.”

“With Mr. Nixon,” repeated Betsy.

She was sorry they could not speak alone. She saw by the girl’s face
there was much she was repressing.

“The people are planning a Yellowstone picnic with Captain Salter,”
continued Rosalie. “We’re to sail to some far-away beach and have a
clambake. Don’t forget that you’re a Yellowstoner even if you are a
bride.”

“Rosalie,” returned Betsy, “if the people are kind enough to suggest
my goin’ on any o’ these excursions, I want you to tell ’em that I’d
rather not.”

The girl stood silent for a moment. Robert had told her as much as he
knew, which was the mere fact of the marriage. He had asked nothing
of Irving, and had not mentioned Betsy’s flight; but Rosalie guessed
enough to understand.

“You can tell them that my weddin’ was a very hurried one and that I’m
busy, and will be all summer,” added Betsy.

The girl inspected the room.

“I was here once before,” she said. “How different it looks!”

Betsy smiled. “I guess Cap’n Salter kept the blinds shut a good deal,”
she returned. “I calc’late to make it look real nice here before I get
through.”

Rosalie looked at her wistfully. “Isn’t it fun!” she said. “It’s a
pretty cottage, and as for what you see from here—why, the inn has
nothing like it.”

A man’s step crunched the garden-path and a knock sounded at the door.
Robert Nixon appeared.

“May I come in?” he cried cheerfully. “Mrs. Betsy!” he added, as the
hostess started up, “I thought it would be a good time to run over and
pay my respects, for I knew you had company anyway, and I wanted you to
know that I bear no malice for your unkindness in the past.”

Betsy shook hands with him heartily. “Mrs. Pogram, this is Mr. Nixon,”
she said.

Mrs. Pogram’s eyes had found their greatest width, and they remained
there, unwinking, while Robert bowed.

“Any time’s a good time, Mr. Nixon,” went on the hostess. “The
latch-string will be always out.”

“Say, this is pretty nice, do you know it?” exclaimed Robert, looking
about. “Such a corking view!”

Seeing Betsy in her usual trim garb, and with no line of care in her
forehead, the young man asked himself if she could bear any relation to
that tragical Sunday morning.

“You look as if you’d always been here,” he said.

“I really feel that way,” replied Betsy. “Sit down, Mr. Nixon.”

“I’d like to, but I can’t. I have to take this young lady and bear her
off to my light canoe. Brute’s gone to Boston and it’s my innings.”

Betsy saw Rosalie’s blush and the sudden gravity of her face.

“She’s got ’em all cinched up there at the inn,” he rattled on. “Have
to stand in line now to get an hour of her. Good-by, Betsy—I don’t
have to call you Mrs. Salter, do I?”

The bride laughed and reassured him, and with a few more words the
young people disappeared.

“Who’s he?” asked Mrs. Pogram sepulchrally.

“A young man from Boston. We met him in the Yellowstone.”

“Rosalie said—” began the visitor.

“Yes,” interrupted Betsy, returning to her seat with a repressed sigh.
“I’ll explain.”

Then she told her caller the outline of Rosalie’s experience,
foreseeing that much future heartburning would be averted by frankness.

“Rosalie and I came pretty close out there,” she finished, “and this
house’ll be her headquarters next winter if she has idle times; which I
don’t think she will.”

“But after Loomis is married—” began Mrs. Pogram.

“Yes, but you see we didn’t know Loomis was goin’ to be married, and
Cap’n Salter’s very fond o’ Rosalie, and we’ve made our plans.”

“Oh!” said Mrs. Pogram reflectively. “She looks like a new girl. I
didn’t know as she was so pretty.”

“Some evenin’ soon,” said Betsy kindly, “you’ll come over here to
supper with me, and I’ll fix it up with Sam Beebe to let us go to the
inn and sit in some corner outside an open window, and we’ll see and
hear Rosalie give her little show. You’ll be real pleased with her.”

“I guess I shall,” returned Mrs. Pogram, in a sort of maze. “I guess I
shall. There was always somethin’ out o’ the ordinary about her. I used
to think it was that made Loomis mad.” Mrs. Pogram’s eyes looked into a
void. “He’s goin’ to marry a real nice girl—poor thing!” she added.

Delicacy restrained Betsy from inquiring which of the contracting
parties was thus apostrophized by a fond sister, and in a few minutes
her caller left.

By a strange coincidence Mrs. Pogram was present a week later, when
one afternoon Captain Salter approached his cottage laden with a heavy
wooden case which he carried on his shoulder. He groaned in spirit as
he beheld through the window the visitor’s ample sable proportions.

“That’s goin’ to be Betsy’s trouble,” he muttered. “Everybody thinks
too darned much of her.”

He gave the caller a cheerful nod, however, as he entered the
living-room. He was too happy himself not to let good cheer overflow
upon all mankind.

Betsy regarded the heavy case with surprise.

“What ye been sendin’ to Boston for?” he asked, lowering his burden.

“Nothin’. To Boston? There’s some mistake.”

She approached and read the inky address. “Mrs. Hiram Salter.” The name
was clear.

Hiram brought some tools and opened the wooden box, then began to take
out the packing within.

“It’s a weddin’ present,” exclaimed Mrs. Pogram, throwing back her
shawl in the excitement of the moment, and thanking the lucky star
which had made her keep on from the market to the Salter cottage.

Tissue paper began to come into view.

Hiram looked at Betsy. “I guess I’ve gone as far as I darst,” he said.

Color came into her cheeks as she lifted out package after package and
laid them on the table. Mrs. Pogram rocked violently.

Captain Salter lifted away the wooden case and packing.

An envelope caught Betsy’s eye. She opened it and read the card within.

“O Hiram!” she exclaimed brokenly. “It’s Mr. Irving!”

“Irvin’ Bruce,” cried Mrs. Pogram, raising herself in her chair and
dropping back again.

Betsy gave the card to her husband.

He read on it: “To dear Betsy, with her boy’s love.”

A slow, broad smile grew on Hiram’s bronzed face, and he watched
motionless while Betsy opened her treasures.

Only Mrs. Pogram’s breathless ejaculations broke the stillness.

“I never!—I never did!—Fit for a queen!—And I wanted to give you a
spoon!”

For the morocco cases held silver with the rose pattern which Irving
knew that Betsy loved.

There were a dozen tea-spoons, half a dozen table-spoons, and the same
number of forks and silver knives. A silver teapot, cream-pitcher and
sugar-bowl of colonial design crowned the show. Every article except
the knives was engraved with an F. upon which Captain Salter gazed with
admiration.

The good soul could not even begrudge Mrs. Pogram’s presence at the
unveiling of so much splendor; for the raven more nearly resembled a
lark now, in her chirps and cries of joy.

Hiram held his wife in an embrace while they stood looking upon the
array.

“You want to bring the burglars down on me, that’s what you want,
Betsy.”

“Oh, it’s too handsome, too handsome!” Betsy was murmuring. “Mr. Irving
hadn’t ought to spent so much money!” She held the card against her
breast.

“I hain’t a particle of objection,” said Hiram jovially. “Would _you_
have, Mrs. Pogram?”

The latter was eyeing the tea-set.

“It’s lots like mine,” she answered, with recovered recollection of
the Brown-Pogram estate. “I’m just bound and determined Loomis’s wife
shan’t have my tea-set!”

“We can’t do anything but eat, to do justice to it, Betsy,” went on
Hiram.

And she turned her head and buried her face on his breast, while he
kept his arms around her.

Mrs. Pogram began to be inspired with the idea that perhaps the pair
would not mind being left alone for a little while.

“Betsy’s kind o’ worked up,” she said leniently, to Hiram. “She set so
much store by Irvin’. I’ll just go on, and see her some other time.”

Some of Mercury’s fleetness was lent to the visitor’s heavy sandals as
she considered the number of neighbors she could see on her way home;
and before bed-time that night, it was known in Fairport that the Bruce
family had given to Captain Salter’s bride a complete dinner-service
of solid silver, a watch studded with diamonds, and Oriental rugs for
every room in the cottage!



CHAPTER XXVIII

GOOD-BY, SUMMER


ONE errand which Irving Bruce performed in Boston besides buying
Betsy’s wedding present, was to seek out a poor relation of his
step-mother’s in her suburban home, and carry her back with him to
Fairport.

He wired: “Miss Frost is returning with me.”

And such was Mrs. Bruce’s loneliness, and worry, and desire to hide
from her friends, that never did poor relation receive a more cordial
welcome.

Miss Frost, a bird-like little person with a high apologetic voice, was
bewildered with joyful excitement.

“I haven’t a _thing_ to wear, my dear, not a thing!” she cried to her
hostess on her arrival; “but Irving was so _perfectly_ lovely, he
wouldn’t let me _wait_ for _anything_; and he told me how you’ve let
that valuable Betsy go to this faithful lover of _years_, so like you,
always to think of _others_, and Irving says you’re _tired_, so that
really perhaps I _can_ take some care of you, and it will be such a
_joy_ to feel that I’m not _useless_ in this beautiful, beautiful spot,
and you never _could_ look anything but _pretty_, Laura, but I do think
you _show_ the natural fatigue of _travel_,” etc., etc.

This combination of flattery and confidence bound up some of Mrs.
Bruce’s wounds. She did make the newcomer useful, not only in the
actual labor of housekeeping, but as an excuse for not going where she
did not wish to be.

But meanwhile she lived a life within herself which her cousin never
suspected. Daily the battle between love and pride was renewed. Robert
Nixon remained with them, and through him, more than through Irving,
she learned of Rosalie’s continued vogue.

She declined the sailing party which went out with Captain Salter, and
Miss Frost was with difficulty persuaded to go in her place.

Upon her return, blown and dishevelled, but joyful, Mrs. Bruce met her
cousin with veiled eagerness.

“Did they think it very strange of me not to come, Lavinia?”

“Why of course they were _disappointed_,” chirped the little woman,
endeavoring to tuck up the flying strands of her gray hair; “but
when I told them how you felt it a _duty_ to rest _absolutely_ for a
week, they understood. I told them how I disliked to leave you alone,
but that you never _could_ think of your_self_, and were determined I
should have the pleasure, and so I _came_; and oh, Laura, it was the
most _lovely_ sail; I did wish every _minute_ for you!”

Mrs. Bruce in her chastened state drank in the praise which she knew
was sincere.

“Lavinia Frost is really a much more agreeable person to have about
than Betsy,” she thought.

Those clear eyes of Betsy’s which had always seemed to read her through
and through, appeared to her mental vision now as she mounted the
stairs after her cousin, and followed her to her room, remaining with
her while the visitor repaired the ravages of wind and wave.

“Do you think Mrs. Nixon enjoyed the excursion?” asked Mrs. Bruce.

Miss Frost raised her hands and dilated her eyes expressively. “I’m
afraid not! She’s not a good sailor; but the _young_ people—Oh, what a
good time they did have, Laura!”

A little contracting pain, grown familiar, seized the listener.

“Go on. Tell me about it,” she replied quietly.

“Well, you know how _amusing_ Mr. Nixon always is,” began Miss Frost,
spreading cold cream over her sunburn; “(so _like_ you, dear Laura, to
give me this cream). He and Miss Maynard—such an _elegant_ girl, Miss
Maynard—and dear Irving, and that _lovely_ creature Miss Vincent, all
four sang together.”

“Did they? Did they sing well?”

“Yes, _indeed_; but you know they’re so full of _fun_ they couldn’t
stick to anything serious, and Miss Vincent sang some coon songs. O
Laura, that girl is _wonderfully_ talented. She made Mr. Derwent laugh
as hard as the boys. _Splendid_-looking man, Mr. Derwent. I really—I
expect I’m a silly old thing, but I couldn’t _help_ weaving _romances_
out in that boat, those four delightful young people were so _tempting_
to the _imagination_.”

“Really?” asked Mrs. Bruce. “How did you pair them off in your own
mind?”

“I didn’t have to pair them off,” twittered the little woman. “Irving
was beside that _charming_ young creature with the gold crown,—you
know the way that broad soft braid goes around her head,—he was beside
her all the time. I just _hoped_ she appreciated his attentions; but
do you know I watched them _closely_, and I never saw her look at him
_once_! She was pleasant and gay all the time,—but I just said to
myself, can—it—be _possible_ that that girl is more attracted by our
droll Nixie than by that _prince_? I’ve often heard you say you dreaded
Irving’s falling in love; you’ve always been so like brother and
sister, it isn’t to be wondered at; but when Mr. Nixon told me what a
good _angel_ you’d been to that talented girl, I thought I could _see_
that you had your little plans!”

Lavinia Frost closed one eye, and nodded knowingly at her cousin, whose
flushed face disclosed nothing.

“I told him that was the way you’d gone through _life_. I told him
about the stove you gave me for my living-room, and now what a grand
outing you were giving me here, and so thoughtfully letting me feel
myself of some _use_. O Laura, it’s a splendid thing to be rich and
powerful, but it’s better still to have that big heart and soul that
_uses_ the power to spread _blessings_ along the paths of others less
fortunate!”

Mrs. Bruce kept silent. Miss Frost washed the cream from her hands and
began winding up her sparse hair.

“It’s awfully thin, you see. Not much more than nine hairs, Laura,” she
laughed, “three behind to braid, and one on each side to puff. I don’t
_want_,” she continued after a silence, “to see anything you don’t
_wish_ me to, but I _could_—not—help—thinking that Irving admired that
girl _extremely_; and though I know you’re above such considerations, I
couldn’t help being _glad_ she was well-connected as well as beautiful.
One of the Derwent family. Think of it! Mr. Nixon told me so, and
it was plain to see that Mr. Derwent thinks the world of her. Such
an elegant man! And what do you suppose he said to me, Laura? As we
were leaving the boat he said with such a _charming_ bow—perfectly
_charming_! He said, ‘I think in some way you have been given the wrong
_name_, Miss Frost. _I_ think it should be Miss _Spring_!” Lavinia gave
a joyous but apologetic giggle. “Wasn’t that a perfectly _lovely_ thing
for him to say?”

Mrs. Bruce regarded the speaker thoughtfully.

“Lavinia,” she said, “how should you like to stay with me?”

“Stay with you—my _dear_?” The little woman stood stock-still, the
dress skirt she was about to put on, in her hand.

“Yes,—keep house for me in Boston.”

“Why, Lavinia, it would be _heaven_—but, how _can_ I!”

“Why can’t you? It is only to give up a few rooms in somebody else’s
house. You’re quite alone.”

“I suppose I am,” replied Lavinia slowly, “but somehow I never realize
it.”

What a wealth of implication lay in the simple words! Mrs. Bruce could
not appreciate that, but she persisted in her plan, which had been
gradually taking form for days.

A capable, useful, refined admirer was what her beaten and dependent
soul yearned for.

Tears dimmed Lavinia’s eyes when at last she accepted the offer.

“Laura!” she exclaimed, with touching sincerity, “you have been
planning this beautiful thing for me! _That_ is why Irving brought
me here. Dear Irving, always so courteous, he has been, to your
relatives! Dear Laura, when do you _ever_ take time to think of
yourself!”

       *       *       *       *       *

One day in the second week in September, Betsy stood by a window in her
cottage and saw Rosalie, in hat and street dress, enter the garden. She
watched the girl unnoticed, and saw her turn and look seaward. Clouds
were scudding along the sky, and swallows circling against the strong
breeze. Presently Rosalie came up the path.

Betsy threw open the door. “Welcome home!” she said, and embraced her.

“I’m the most fortunate girl in the world,” declared Rosalie.

Betsy took the bag she carried. “Let me show you your room,” she said.

With happy pride she led the guest up the narrow stairs, and ushered
her into a comfortable little bower, hung in white dimity.

Rosalie turned, and gave her hostess another hug. “Why should you be so
good to me?” she exclaimed.

“Because you’re all the little girl I’ve got,” returned Betsy. “See
what a nice cozy corner that makes for your trunk!”

Rosalie regarded her affectionately. “I have the greatest news for
you,” she said. “I can only stay two days.”

“Answers to the advertisement, eh?” asked Betsy with interest.

“Better than that! How wonderfully good people are! Mr. Derwent
actually went to Portland weeks ago, and managed somehow, so that
yesterday I received a summons from the Moore School to come and take
up my work there. It seems that some of the faculty have heard me at
the inn, and it’s settled, practically.”

“All the better, child. Cap’n Salter and I’d never get tired o’
havin’ you here, but you wouldn’t be satisfied with an idle winter
in Fairport. Come in my room and sit down for a chat. I’m doin’ some
mendin’, and we can settle all the affairs o’ the nation.”

Rosalie followed into the front room, and seated herself by a low
window looking out on the gray billows.

“Good-by, summer,” she said, as if to herself.

Betsy glanced at her and sat down by the bed where were scattered
articles of clothing.

    “The swallows are making them ready to fly,
       Wheeling out on a windy sky—”

sang the girl softly.

“Well,” said Betsy, “when you take ’count o’ stock, what sort of a
summer has it been?”

“Wonderful.”

“That may be,” returned Betsy, “but how about the net result. Would you
like to live it over again?”

“Yes, indeed!” was the fervent reply. “_No_, Betsy! What am I talking
about! No, I wouldn’t. I might not do so well again.”

“How do you mean?” asked the other, beginning to make a lattice-work
across the vacant toe of a man’s sock. “Do you mean professionally?”

“Not altogether,” answered the girl slowly.

“Oh, you mean socially too, eh?”

“Yes.”

Silence, while the breakers struck and burst on the rock at the left of
the cottage.

“Whom have you over here?” Rosalie rose and moved to the dresser where
a flexible leather case stood in a semi-circle. “Captain Salter?”
She picked up the case. “Irving!” she added in a different tone, and
studied the six pictures with down-drooped face.

“See the envelope standin’ there against the glass? You can open it. It
came with my silver.”

Rosalie obeyed. “Oh!” she said softly.

Presently Betsy spoke again: “I’ve heard a lot about how popular you’ve
been all summer. Says I to myself, there’s safety in numbers, says I.”

“Yes,” agreed Rosalie, “there’s safety in numbers.”

She returned the card to its envelope.

“Take the pictures over to the window if you’d like to,” said Betsy,
mending busily.

“No, thank you,” returned the girl; and placing the case as she had
found it, she came back to her seat.

“The Nixon party got off all right, I s’pose,” said Betsy. “Mr. Nixon
came over to say good-by. Did you know Mr. Derwent took supper with the
cap’n and me one night?”

“Yes. He is greatly taken with Captain Salter.”

“We had a real good time,” said Betsy, “and he praised the supper.”

“There are no suppers as good as yours. Nixie and I had made him hungry
telling him about the dinner we had with you that day.”

“And my boy never broke bread with me once,” said Betsy sadly. “I
couldn’t ask him away from Mrs. Bruce.”

“Betsy,” asked Rosalie wistfully, “whatever did happen?”

Betsy shook her head. “Nothin’ you need worry about, child.”

“But that’s just what troubles me. I’ve always believed it was about
me.”

“Rosalie,”—Betsy lifted her eyes from her work for a minute,—“do you
know it says in the Bible that God makes the wrath o’ man to praise
him? or somethin’ like that? I’ve thought of it often since I’ve been
livin’ here. There had to be some kind of an explosion for Hiram to get
his rights. I see now he’s only got his rights.”

“But one thing is very strange,” said Rosalie. “The few times I’ve
spoken with Mrs. Bruce this summer, she has been quite polite to me.
Do you know about this cousin who is with her, this cunning little
Miss Frost, more like a canary-bird than any one I ever saw? Well, she
adores Mrs. Bruce, and do you know it has seemed to me that Mrs. Bruce
is trying to live up to it. Wouldn’t that be strange?”

Betsy dropped her work and regarded the speaker.

“Miss Lavinia Frost,—I know her well. She don’t _seem_ to wear
spectacles, but she’s got a pair on all the time. Rose-color. Mrs.
Bruce went out to her rooms once and she didn’t like the looks of ’em,
and she took one of her notions and fixed ’em up with a handsome stove,
and an arm-chair, and some other nice things, and Miss Frost never
could get over it.”

“Mrs. Bruce is going to keep her with her.”

“Fine!” exclaimed Betsy. “Nothin’ could be better.” She shook her head
and resumed her work. “Here’s hopin’ Miss Frost’ll never lose those
magnifyin’ spectacles!”

“You never saw any one admire another more sincerely. Why, she takes it
for granted that Mrs. Bruce made _me_, and is in love with her work.”

Betsy dropped her hands.

    “‘God moves in a mysterious way,
      His wonders to perform!’”

she declared. “Rosalie,” she added gently, “I wouldn’t wonder one
mite if Lavinia Frost livin’ with Mrs. Bruce would be the makin’ o’
_her_. What do we all want? We want love. Mrs. Bruce hasn’t drawn it
to herself from the folks that’s lived closest to her. She’s had some
sharp lessons, from what Mr. Irving says, and now, when the plough’s
gone deep, and the soil’s softer, this cheerful little lover may be
takin’ her just at the right time, and will make a big difference in
her.”

“Why, I seem to see it begin,” returned Rosalie. “She’s so much more
gentle, and Miss Frost chirps and twitters around her, and waits on
her—”

Betsy nodded. “That’s right,” she said with satisfaction. “That’s good.
She loves bein’ made of. I b’lieve that’ll work well.”

There was another silence, which Betsy broke.

“I understand you’ve got somethin’ for me,” she said.

The girl looked around, puzzled.

“Why,—why no, Betsy.”

“Mr. Irving says so.”

Rosalie regarded her calmly, but the faint color deepened in her cheeks.

“I don’t know what he means.”

“Well, I don’t know who else should.” Betsy took a letter out of her
pocket and tossed it across to her guest, who opened it, and read:—

    DEAR BETSY,—I’m feeling very important because they’ve
    wired for me from the bank. I can’t even run over to
    the cottage to see you, because I must make a train.
    I’ve asked Rosalie to give you a hug for me. Good-by.

                                       Your devoted
                                                 BOY.

“Oh, you mean that,” said Rosalie quietly, refolding the note.

“Of course I mean that. Do you suppose I want to be cheated out o’ his
hugs?”

The girl smiled and shook her head. “I certainly haven’t any of them,”
she said.

“But he found time to go over and say good-by to you, I notice.”

“Yes, he came. Mrs. Bruce and Miss Frost are to follow him in a day or
two.”

“What do you think o’ the young man, now you’ve summered him?” asked
Betsy quietly.

“If I didn’t think well of him I’d never dare to tell you so.”

“Perhaps not. Has he been specially attentive to any one o’ the girls
at the inn?”

Rosalie twisted the curtain tassel and looked out at the sea.

“Yes,” she answered after some moments. “If I hadn’t known—if you
hadn’t told me that—even if he _were_, the ending of the summer would
end his remembrance, I might have been—well, pretty silly a good many
times.”

Betsy looked up. “I hope I haven’t made a mistake, or spoiled any o’
your good times, dear.”

“No,” answered the girl. “I’ve been more than glad of all your
warnings. Everybody has been so kind, and there have been so many
people who wanted to do things for me, that it was made easy in one
way. I could avoid him without it’s looking strange to him, or any one
else.”

“Was there,” asked Betsy, “was there any other o’ the young men that
you liked—just as well?”

Rosalie turned and gave her a look. There was the darkening of the eyes
that Betsy remembered, and the lip was caught under the girl’s teeth.

Betsy fumbled with her darning-egg, dropped her eyes, and cleared her
throat.

“That child won’t _ever_ learn to be mejum!” she thought.

“You’ve worked and played pretty hard, I guess,” she said, presently.
“You’re some thin, Rosalie. I’ve been noticin’ it lately. I hope you
feel real good.”

“Never better,” was the reply. “I’m eager to go to work—real work. I
hope I can make the girls like me.”

“Law, child, you’ll have to fight ’em off,” was the reply. “Did—did you
and Mr. Irving part real friendly?”

“Oh, certainly. I must show you something he gave me a good while ago.”

The girl rose and went to her own room. Betsy laid down her work and
gazed ahead. “Ain’t she made o’ the real stuff, though!” she thought.
“I guess Irving Bruce has found out that porcelain’s pretty strong
sometimes!”

Here Rosalie returned and put into her friend’s hands an exquisite
white fan, whose carved sticks Betsy examined with admiration.

“If he’s given you this?” she said, looking up questioningly.

“He had to, I suppose,” returned the girl, “practically; he broke mine
the first night we met at the inn. It was part of my outfit. I couldn’t
object to his making it good.”

Betsy laughed at the prosaic tone, and looked back at the rich toy.

“He made it good, all right,” she remarked. “When you need another
outfit you can pawn this.”

“It is very handsome,” said Rosalie, regarding her possession, while
the downcast eyes darkened again under their drooping lids.



CHAPTER XXIX

THE NEW YEAR


AUTUMN with its crystalline days and frosty nights gave Betsy glorious
views from her windows, but played havoc with her garden.

Hiram had long ago put up his boat, and now he began building a small
launch that Irving Bruce had ordered for the following season.

With Thanksgiving Day came Rosalie. Hiram brought her home from the
station in high satisfaction, and it seemed as if Betsy could never
hear enough of her pleasant work in the school.

“I’m bein’ awful mean and selfish,” announced Betsy. “I haven’t asked
one person to dinner with us. Seems if we couldn’t share our little
girl with anybody else to-day.”

“Yes,” said Hiram, “seems if some special dispensation o’ common sense
had been given Betsy, for our benefit, Rosalie. I’ll have ye know I
keep an asylum. Never know any day I come home to dinner who I’ll find
here. They get _their_ Thanksgivin’ three hundred and sixty-four days
a year. I maintain we deserve the sixty-fifth.”

“Don’t be such a goose, Hiram,” laughed his wife. “This is all ’cause
Mrs. Pogram wanted to see you to-day, Rosalie. I told her you were
comin’ for the whole Christmas vacation, and she should see you then.”

During dinner Rosalie told many things about the school and her work,
and afterward the trio sat around an open fire while the first snow of
the season flung its stars upon the window-panes.

“Do you hear from any o’ the Boston folks?” asked Betsy.

“Yes, I have, once or twice. I must show you some pictures I brought.
They’re in my suit-case.”

Rosalie ran upstairs to the cold little white room.

“Do you know, Betsy,” said Hiram, as he sat in a corner where the smoke
from his pipe curled up the chimney with that of the blazing logs, “do
you know I used to think last summer Irvin’ Bruce was as set on Rosalie
as I am on you. I minded my own business, but I wasn’t blind; and
b’gosh I was surprised that he let her teach school this winter. D’ye
s’pose she could ’a’ given him the mitten?”

“No, I don’t, Hiram. Pshaw! You know how young men tag after a pretty
girl who can sing and dance and cut up and amuse ’em. When it comes to
marryin’, folks like the Bruces want some one in their own set. Mr.
Irving—”

“Here they are,” said Rosalie, returning. “Irving Bruce had some of our
kodaks enlarged. He said I might keep these, so I brought them. I knew
Captain Salter would like to see himself as others see him.”

The Clever Betsy was indeed immortalized. There were pictures of her
exterior and interior; and her captain held his pipe in his hand as he
looked upon the excellent likenesses of himself and his passengers.
Gay, smiling pictures they were, except for his own dark countenance;
and in each photograph in which Irving Bruce appeared, he was next to
Rosalie.

The captain gave his wife a look of which she was conscious, but which
she refused to receive.

“Set be hanged,” he muttered to himself.

“What?” asked Rosalie. “Aren’t they good? I’m going to leave one of
them with you and Betsy. Now, choose.”

“This one, then!” returned the captain.

In it Rosalie had one knee on the seat. Her wavy hair was flying in a
halo, and she was laughing. Close behind her was Irving Bruce. He was
standing, his arm outstretched in some gesture.

“That isn’t _my_ choice,” said Betsy. “I’d rather have this.”

She picked up a photograph of the Clever Betsy under full sail.
Gallantly she was breasting a high sea.

“Why in the world!” objected Hiram; and she caught his eyes with an
expression he seldom saw.

“Don’t you want the children?” he began.

She smiled a little. “I’ve no objection to the children,” she answered,
“but I want—the boat.”

Hiram gazed at her with slow comprehension, then he dropped the
photographs and smoothed his wife’s hair as she bent over her choice.

“That’s right,” he said radiantly. “That’s _your_ story, Rosalie,”
handing a photograph to her. “This is ours.”

The girl looked at the pair, wondering, and wistful. She had not
learned that the heart is never old.

“Tell us more news from Boston,” said Betsy when they were again
settled around the fire, Rosalie on a low stool pressed close to her
side.

“It is all pleasant. I had such an amusing letter from Nixie. He says
Helen is swimming to the top of the social wave, that his mother is
busier than a hen with one chicken, and that he himself sobs heavily in
corners owing to her neglect. He says the Bruce household is serene,
all but Miss Frost, who is too happy to be serene. If she has one drive
a week with Mrs. Bruce in her electric, he says she talks about her
cousin’s generosity the next six days. Nixie says Mrs. Bruce seems
really ashamed to complain of anything—”

“There,” interpolated Betsy gladly; “it’s workin’.”

“Yes,” said Rosalie, “such a cheery little woman is a sermon. It makes
me think of some verses I have seen:—

    “‘Just being happy is a fine thing to do;
      Looking at the bright side, rather than the blue;
      Sad or sunny musing, is largely in the choosing,
      And just being happy is brave work and true.’”

“That’s gospel, that is,” remarked Hiram. “You learn that, Betsy, and
say it to me every time you plan to have Mrs. Pogram to dinner.”

Rosalie went back to her school-work with good courage, refreshed by
the visit to her friends. Early in December she received a formal but
kind note from Mrs. Nixon asking her to spend the Christmas holidays
with her.

She smiled as she read it. Mr. Derwent was behind the invitation,
she knew, and Robert reinforced it by one of his hare-brained but
hearty epistles, begging her to accept, and promising her a luridly
enthralling experience.

She was glad she could tell them that her promise was given to Betsy
for the holidays. There would be a strange pleasure, she thought, in
seeing her summer playground in the embrace of winter. The starry
Thanksgiving snow had vanished by morning; but now, Betsy said, the
great rock near the cottage looked like a giant’s wedding-cake.

The weeks wore on, and the evergreen time drew near. On Christmas
morning Rosalie wakened in her white room under the eaves of the Salter
house. It had been furnished with an air-tight stove in honor of her
visit, and Betsy came in early to make a roaring fire.

“Merry Christmas, Betsy!” cried the girl, sitting up.

“It will be, child,” returned Betsy, “with you for a treat.” She
kissed her guest. “You look like Aurora,” she added, in irrepressible
admiration of the girl’s soft coloring in the white couch. “I know,
’cause I saw her picture in Europe till I knew her as well as anybody
in the family album. To think you might have waked up in the Nixon
house this mornin’! You could ’a’ run around in automobiles, and
danced, and had a real girl’s good time; and here you are, mewed up
with two homespun folks like us, in a snow-bank, with the ocean for a
front yard, black enough to bite you! I felt guilty when I waked up.
Honestly, I did.”

“Well, stop it, Betsy. This is the one place in the world I want to be
these holidays. Do you believe me?”

Betsy shook her head. “It seems too good to be true; but your eyes do
look as if you meant it. Here’s a big can o’ hot water, dear, and when
you come down, I’ll give you some buckwheat cakes as good as you ever
tasted.”

Betsy had maligned the landscape. Rosalie looked out on spotless snow,
but all the trees visible along the village street were cased in ice.
Every twig sparkled as the sun gained dominion over the sullen sea, and
shone on the dazzling, mammoth wedding-cake.

The week passed quickly and happily. Mrs. Pogram gave a dinner for the
Salters and their guest, after Loomis and his _fiancée_ had returned
to Portland. Captain Salter made Rosalie recite to him the verses in
praise of happiness, all the time he was marching to the function.

It was a season of content. Betsy could not doubt it as she looked at
the deepening roses in the girl’s cheeks, and the way her eyes sparkled
as she came into the house, stamping the snow from her boots, on the
return from some errand with Hiram.

Mr. Beebe, learning of her presence, took the biggest sleigh from the
inn stable and gave them a long exhilarating ride into the country, and
an oyster supper when they returned.

On the last evening of the year Rosalie sat before the open fire with
Betsy. Captain Salter had gone out on some errand in the village, and
Rosalie, on her favorite little stool, leaned her head against Betsy’s
knee and watched the leaping flames. How remote, on an evening like
this, seemed the great world from this little cottage-by-the-sea!

“One has so much time here, to think, Betsy,” said the girl.

The other gave her one-sided smile. “Well, yes,—holidays, we do,” she
rejoined.

“You are always busy,” admitted Rosalie. “How happy you and the captain
are!”

“We think we couldn’t be happier,” returned Betsy. “It’s been a
wonderful year for both you and me, Rosalie.”

“Yes, it has,” returned the girl dreamily. “A year ago to-night—No! I
must forget all that.”

Betsy patted her shoulder. “Yesterday is dead,” she said quietly.

Rosalie’s eyes lifted slowly to the other’s face.

“Not all the yesterdays,” she said, and looked back at the fire.

Betsy continued to pat her. The good woman reflected concerning Irving
Bruce with an effort at self-control and fairness; but a great longing
that this girl should have her heart’s desire passed over her like a
wave.

A crunching of the snow sounded without. If Rosalie had been intending
to confide in her, the chance was lost. For the first time Betsy
regretted to hear her husband’s step.

“There’s Captain Salter,” said Rosalie.

The door opened. “Come in and get dry,” said Betsy, without looking
around. She felt compunction for her momentary disloyalty.

“Thanks, I don’t care if I do.”

The women both started and turned. Irving Bruce stood there, his broad
shoulders sparkling with snow. He set down his suit-case and stamped
his feet. “You’ll have to build a porte-cochère, Betsy. The hack dumped
me at the back fence.”

The firelight fell on Rosalie as she stood, flushing.

“Mr. Irving, _dear_!” cried Betsy, flying at him, considerations of
hostess and friend stumbling over one another in the sudden chaos of
her mind. “What does this mean?”

“I just thought I’d run down and see the New Year in with you. Where
are your manners, Rosalie? You might say you’re glad to see me.”

Betsy saw his eyes and rejoiced.

“Of course I am,” returned the girl, “but we country people aren’t used
to shocks.”

He left his fur-lined overcoat in Betsy’s arms, unconscious that he
was burdening her; and she clasped it to her breast as if it had been
part of himself. Her boy and her girl! Her boy and her girl! And they
were standing there, their hands clasping, and their eyes meeting.

Irving had not taken the uninteresting journey from Boston, and
ploughed through the Fairport snow to see the New Year in with her.
He had not broken away from the holiday gayeties of which Betsy had
experience, to visit herself and Hiram in their snow-drift. Betsy’s
heart exulted, and her cheeks were red.

“Sit up to the fire, Mr. Irving. I’m goin’ to make you some coffee,”
she said.

“I didn’t ask if you had any room for me, but a blizzard seems to be
starting. I can’t go to the inn, now.”

“I guess I can put you somewhere. If you don’t like the accommodations
you can sit up all night. There’s plenty o’ logs in the wood-box.”

“I rather think I should like that. Have to see the New Year in,
anyway. No use making two bites of a cherry.”

Just as the coffee was being poured, Captain Salter came in. “My, but
that smells good!” he said; then, perceiving the new-comer—“Irvin’
Bruce, is that you?” he roared jovially. “Well, you’re a good one.
You’ll be disappointed though. I haven’t got the boat far enough along
yet for you to tell anything about it. I know you said you’d run up
here, but I calc’lated to let you know when.”

“Too bad,” returned Irving. “I hope you don’t mind my coming, though.”

“Tickled to death, tickled to death,” responded Hiram, receiving his
coffee from his wife’s hand and with it a look which made him blink
once or twice in doubt.

“See the New Year in? Yes indeed,” he cried in answer to Irving’s
explanation of his presence. “That’s just what we’ll do. I haven’t set
up in years; but we’ll just sit around this fire, and tell yarns—”

“Hiram Salter,” said his wife, “if you think for one minute that we’re
goin’ to do any such thing, I _don’t_. I’ve got to get up and get the
breakfast, and you’ve got to get up and build fires. As if we couldn’t
trust the New Year to come in respectably; and if you can’t, why,
Rosalie and Mr. Irving will attend to it.”

The captain looked at her, astonished. Under cover of removing the cups
and saucers to the kitchen, he spoke low to his consort. “Go to bed?”
he asked. “Where’s your politeness, Betsy?”

“Where’s your common sense, Hiram Salter! You think Irving Bruce has
ploughed down here to talk boats with _you_?”

Hiram scratched his head, and his eyes widened. “Why, I said that very
thing to you the other night,” he protested, “and _you_ said—”

“Never mind what I said! Just get upstairs as quick as you can.”

“Come with me, Mr. Irving,” said Betsy, returning to the living-room.
“Here’s a little closet where you can’t much more’n turn around, but I
guess you’ll sleep well. It’s a feather-bed.”

They stood alone in the chamber, and he closed the door and took her by
the shoulders in the old familiar way.

“You remember our talk one night in the garden?” he asked.

“Yes, as if it was yesterday,” she answered.

“Do you apologize?”

“No,” she laughed.

“I think you poisoned the mind of the party of the second part.
Confess if you did. I mean it; for if you didn’t, I’ve broken three
engagements, and traveled all day for nothing.”

“Yes—I—_did_!” returned Betsy boldly.

“Do you apologize?”

“Not a bit of it.”

They looked at each other in the dusk. “Well, are you glad I came?”

“If you hadn’t, Mr. Irving,” replied Betsy slowly, “I don’t know but
I’d ’a’ given back the silver!”

Irving pressed her hands and laughed.

In a little while the Salters said good-night to their guests. “You can
see, Irvin’, whether I’m hen-pecked,” said the captain meekly, as he
mounted the stairs.

“You’re an awful warning,” replied Irving.

“Would it do any harm,” asked Hiram in a stage-whisper when they
reached their room, “if I should yell down to ’em to look out the
window and see the weddin’-cake?”

Betsy locked the door.

Rosalie was sitting passive on her stool by the fire. A rich color
mantled in her cheeks, but eyes and lips were grave. She was regaining
self-possession. Perhaps Irving had indeed come on account of the boat.

He seated himself in the chair Betsy had vacated, and watched the
firelight play on Rosalie’s hair.

“How do you suppose it looks in the canyon to-night?” he asked, after a
silence.

She shook her head. “I’m glad we can’t see.”

“And I,” he agreed. “I have it here.” He touched his breast.

“Tell me about Nixie, and Helen,” said Rosalie with sudden brightness.

“Time enough for that next year,” returned Irving. He laid his watch
on his knee; and for a minute they both watched the tiny second-hand,
inexorably hurrying.

“How quiet it is!” he said. “What a place for the year to die. I have a
kindness for this old year, Rosalie. I should dread to see it go if I
didn’t have such hopes for the new.”

“Yes, your business prospects are brilliant, Mr. Derwent told me once.”

“Betsy Foster,” said Irving slowly, “‘Clever Betsy,’ that deep, dark,
deceitful, and designing woman who is upstairs now, wide-awake,
wondering what I am saying to you, talked to you once about me, and
told you to remember that men were deceivers ever. She warned you
against me. She’s given me an up-hill pull all summer.”

Rosalie’s heart fluttered wildly.

“I wasn’t sure until I had been back in Boston for weeks that I loved
you; but I suspected it. I know that I have nothing more than a fair
chance, if I have that; but I’m sure now, Rosalie, that you are the one
woman in the world for me. You’re the combination of everything I ever
admired in any girl. If there is no one that has a better right, give
me the chance to win you. I’ve come here to ask you that.”

She sat so immovable that Irving stooped forward. The face she lifted
had the darkening eyes, the trembling lips, that Betsy had seen.

“When you caught me from the cliff,” she said, “I felt your heart beat.
The sunrise in the canyon was the sunrise of my life. Every pulse of my
heart since that morning has beaten with the pulse of yours.”

He looked at her, wonder, incredulity, joy, holding him motionless for
a space; then in the still, snow-bound cottage, golden with firelight,
Rosalie’s lover took her in his arms. “My dove!” he murmured.



    The Riverside Press
    CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS
    U . S . A



WHEN SHE CAME HOME FROM COLLEGE

By MARIAN K. HURD and JEAN B. WILSON


“An especially natural and breezy college girl’s story.”—_Baltimore
Sun._

“A book of vital interest to the college girl, to her family, and to
all who are concerned directly or indirectly in college education for
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wholesome satire of its fun—a book with much charm.”—_Chicago Evening
Post._

“Not for a long while have we read such a refreshing narrative as
this.”—_Literary Digest._


    Illustrated. 12mo, $1.15 _net_. Postage 10 cents.

    HOUGHTON
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    [Illustration]

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NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA

    By KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN


“Rebecca is the same likable and lovable girl as ever.... It is her
good-nature and geniality, her almost uninterrupted happiness, that
gives her an unlimited attractiveness. She is the embodiment of
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imaginative pages of fiction.”

                                           _Boston Transcript._


“One cannot avoid a shrewd suspicion that some of the episodes are
autobiographical, but, whether founded on fact or imagined, they make
delightful reading, and worthily maintain the reputation of a writer
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                                                _Spectator, London._


“Rebecca belongs to us and to our century as did Little Nell to the
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                                             _Portland Daily Press._


    With eight illustrations by F. C. YOHN

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       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired. Varied hyphenation was retained.

Page 279, “foolishnes” changed to “foolishness” (time in foolishness)





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