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Title: Her Husband's Purse
Author: Martin, Helen R.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Her Husband's Purse" ***

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  HER HUSBAND'S PURSE

  BY
  HELEN R. MARTIN



  ILLUSTRATED BY
  JOHN NEWTON HOWITT



  GARDEN CITY NEW YORK
  DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
  1916



  _Copyright, 1916, by_
  DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

  _All rights reserved, including that of
  translation into foreign languages,
  including the Scandinavian_



  COPYRIGHT, 1915, 1916, SMITH PUBLISHING HOUSE



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

"Oh!" her voice rippled with laughter, "this is the twentieth century
A.D., not B.C., Daniel" (see page 180) . . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

"'Benefactor'?" she read, "'a doer of kindly deeds; a friendly helper.'
You see, I'm _your_ benefactor, according to the Standard"

Margaret suddenly laid down her napkin and rushed from the room, every
nerve in her sick and quivering with the physical and moral disgust she
felt

"You will be glad to know, Jennie, that I have persuaded mother to
spend the night with us," Margaret said



HER HUSBAND'S PURSE



I

The Pennsylvania town of New Munich was electrified by the sudden and
entirely unlooked-for announcement of the betrothal of Daniel Leitzel,
Esquire; but his two maiden sisters with whom he lived, and to whom the
news was also wholly unexpected, were appalled, confounded.  That Danny
should have taken such a step independently of them (who did all his
thinking for him outside of his profession) was a cataclysmal episode.
Of course it never would have happened without their knowledge if Danny
had not been temporarily away from his home on business and far removed
from their watchful care--watchful these twenty years past that no
designing Jezebel might get a chance at the great fortune of their
petted little brother--though it must be admitted that Danny was by
this time of a marriageable age, being just turned forty-five.

"To think he'd leave us learn about it in the newspapers yet, sooner 'n
he'd come home and face us with it!  Yes, it looks anyhow as if he was
ashamed of the girl he's picked out!" exclaimed Jennie, a stern and
uncompromising spinster of sixty, as she and her sister Sadie, sitting
in the elaborately furnished and quite hideous sitting-room of their
big, fine house on Main Street, stared in consternation at the glaring
headlines of the New Munich _Evening Intelligencer_, which announced,
in type that to the sisters seemed letters of flame, the upsetting news
of their idolized brother having been at last matrimonially trapped.
Being confronted with his betrothal in print seemed to make it
hopelessly incontrovertible.  They might have schemed to avert the
impending catastrophe of his marriage (in case Danny had been taken in
by an Adventuress) did not the _Intelligencer_ unequivocally state (and
the _Intelligencer's_ statements were scarcely less authoritative to
Jennie and Sadie Leitzel than the Bible itself) that Danny would be
married to the Unknown inside of a month.  If the _Intelligencer_ said
so, it seemed useless to try to stop it.

"To think he'll be married to her already before we get a chance, once,
to look her over and tell him if she'd suit him!" lamented Sadie who
was five years younger than Jennie.

"Well," pronounced Jennie, setting her thin lips in a hard line,
"she'll find out when she gets here that she ain't getting her fingers
on our Danny's money!  She'll get fooled if she's counting on _that_.
She'll soon learn that she'll have to do with just what he likes to
give her and no more!  And of course Danny'll consult _us_ as to just
how much he ought to leave her handle.  When she finds out," Jennie
grimly prophesied, "that our Danny always does the way we advise him to
and that she'll have to keep on the right side of _us_, I guess she
won't like it very well!"

"We can only hope that she ain't such a bold, common thing that just
took our Danny in, that way!" sighed Sadie.

"But why would he hurry it up so, like as if he was afraid we would
mebby put a stop to it?  _She_ put him up to fixing it all tight before
he could change his mind!" Jennie shrewdly surmised.

"It does look that way!" fretted Sadie.

Jennie, the elder sister, was tall, gaunt, and rawboned.  Though
approaching old age, her dominating spirit and grasping ambitions had
preserved her vigour, physically and mentally.  Her sharp face was
deeply lined, but the keenness of her eyes was undimmed, her shoulders
were erect, her hair was thick and black.  The expression of her thin
slit of a mouth was almost relentlessly hard.

Sadie, five years younger, had also a will of her own, but happily it
had always operated on a line so entirely in harmony with that of her
sister, that they had lived together all their lives without friction,
the younger woman unconsciously dominated by the elder.  Indeed, no one
could abide under the same roof with Jennie Leitzel who ventured openly
to differ with her.  Fortunately, even Sadie's passion for dress did
not clash with Jennie's miserliness, for Sadie, too, was miserly, and
Jennie loved to see her younger sister arrayed gorgeously in cheap
finery, her taste inclining to that of a girl of sixteen.  A dormant
mother-instinct, too, such as must exist, however obscurely, in every
frame of woman, even in that of a Jennie Leitzel, found an outlet in
coddling Sadie's health and in ministering to and encouraging a certain
plaintiveness in the younger woman's disposition.  So, these two
sisters, depending upon and complementing each other, of congenial
temperaments, and with but one common paramount interest in life, the
welfare of their incomparable younger brother whom they had brought up
and of whom they were inordinately proud, lived together in the supreme
enjoyment of the high estate to which their ambitions and their
unflagging efforts had uplifted the Leitzel family--from rural
obscurity to prominence and influence in their county town of New
Munich.

To be sure, the sisters realized that they held what they called their
"social position" only as appendages to Danny--Danny who had been to
college, who was the head of a great corporation law firm, who was
enormously rich and a highly eligible young man; that is, he used to be
young; and though New Munich regarded him as a confirmed old bachelor,
his sisters still looked upon him as a dashing youth and a great
matrimonial prize.  They were not ashamed, but proud, of the fact that
people tolerated them because they were Danny's sisters.

It may seem strange that anything calling itself "society" could admit
women so crude as Jennie and Sadie, even though they were appendages to
a bait so dazzling as Danny Leitzel, Esquire.  But in communities where
the ruling class is descended from the Pennsylvania Dutch, "society" is
remarkably elastic and has almost no closed doors to the appeal of
wealth, however freighted it may be with vulgarity and illiteracy; and,
be it known, Danny's sisters were not only financially independent of
Danny, but even wealthy, quite in their own right.

In spite of this fact, however, what social footing they had in the
little town of New Munich had not been acquired so easily as to make it
appear to them other than a very great possession.

As to the big, fine house in which they lived, it had been Danny's
money which, in the early days of his prosperity, had, at his sisters'
instigation, built this grand dwelling on the principal street of New
Munich, to dazzle and catch the town.

The room in which the sisters sat to-night would have seemed to one who
knew them a perfect expression of themselves--its tawdry grandeur
speaking loudly of their pride in money and display, and of, at the
same time, their penuriousness; the absence of books and of real
pictures, but the obtrusive decorations of heavy gilt frames on
chromos; the luridly coloured domestic carpets; heavy, ugly upholstered
furniture, manifesting the unfortunate combination of ample means with
total absence of culture.  It would seem that in a rightly organized
social system women like these would not possess wealth, but would be
serving those who knew how to use wealth.

"To think our Danny'd marry a stranger, yet, from away down South, when
he could have picked out Congressman Ocksreider's daughter, or Judge
Kuntz's oldest girl--or Mamie Gundaker and her father a bank president!
Any of these high ladies of New Munich he could have!" wailed Sadie.
"They'd be only too glad to _get_ our Danny!  And here he goes and
marries a stranger!"

"It ain't _like_ him that he'd up and do this thing behind our backs,
without askin' our adwice!" Jennie exclaimed.

"Think of the grand wedding we could have had here in New Munich!"
Sadie sighed.

"And we don't even know if she's well-fixed or poor!" cried Jennie in a
wildly worried tone.

"But I hardly think," Sadie tried to comfort her, "that Danny would
pick out a _poor_ girl.  Nor a common one, either, so genteel as what
we raised him!"

"But men get so easy fooled with women, Sadie!  If she's smart, she
could easy come over Danny."

"Unless he got stubborn-headed for her."

"Well," admitted Jennie, "to be sure Danny can get awful
stubborn-headed sometimes.  But if she's smart and found out how rich
he is, she'd take care not to get him stubborn-headed."

"Yes, that's so, too," nodded Sadie.  "I wonder if she's a fancy
dresser?"

Sadie's love of clothes was second only to her devotion to Danny.  She
was dressed this evening in a girlish Empire gown made of red
cheesecloth.

"What will folks _say_ to this news, anyhow?" scolded Jennie.  "I'll
have a shamed face to go on the street, us not knowing anything about
it, not even who she is yet!  If folks ast us, Sadie, we must leave on
we did know--we'll just say, 'Oh, it ain't news to _us_!'"

"But how could we know much when Danny himself has knew her only a
little over a month, Jennie?"

"Yes, don't it, now, beat all?"

"Yes, don't it!"

"That shows what she is--marrying a man she knew only a month or so!"

"Well, to be sure, it wouldn't take her even a month, Jennie, to see
what a catch our Danny is."

"If she does turn out to be a common person," said Jennie with her most
purse-proud look and tone, "she's anyhow got to act genteel before
folks and not give Danny and us a shamed face here in New Munich--high
up as we've raised our Danny and hard as we worked to do it yet!"

"Yes, the idea!" mourned Sadie.

"Yes, the very idea!" nodded Jennie vindictively.  "I shouldn't
wonder," she added anxiously, always concerned for her sister's health
which was really quite remarkably perfect, "if this shock give you the
headache, Sadie!"

"I shouldn't wonder!" Sadie shook her head sadly.

"Read me off the piece in the paper and see what it says all," Jennie
ordered.  "But sit so the light don't give you the headache."

Sadie, adjusting her spectacles and turning on the electric table lamp
at her elbow, read the glaring article which had that evening appeared
on the first page of their daily paper and which every household in New
Munich was, they knew, now reading with feelings of astonishment,
curiosity, disappointment or chagrin, as the case might be, for the
sisters were sure that many heartaches among the marriageable maidens
of the town would be caused by the news that Danny was no longer within
their possible reach.  These twenty-five years past he and his gold had
been dangling before them--and now to have him appropriated, without
warning, by a non-resident!

The article was headed in large type:


  "ONE MORE VICTIM OF CUPID'S DARTS--
  DANIEL LEITZEL LED LIKE A LAMB
  TO HYMEN'S ALTAR."


Sadie breathed heavily as she read:


In a communication received at this office to-day from our esteemed
fellow-citizen, Daniel Leitzel, Esquire, sojourning for the past four
weeks in the balmy South, we are informed of his engagement and
impending marriage to "a young lady of distinguished Southern lineage,"
one who, we may feel sure, will grace very acceptably the social circle
here of which Mr. Leitzel is such a prominent, prosperous, and pleasant
member.  The news comes to our town as a great surprise, for we had
almost begun to give Danny up as a hopeless bach.  He will, however,
lead his bride to Hymen's altar early next month and bring her
straightway to his palatial residence on Main Street, presided over by
his estimable sisters, Miss Jennie and Miss Sadie.  New Munich offers
its congratulations to her esteemed fellow-citizen, though some of us
wonder why he found it necessary to go so far away to find a wife, with
so many lovely ladies here in his native town to choose from.  Love,
however, we all know, is a capricious mistress and none may guess
whither she may lead.

The happy and fortunate lady, Miss Margaret Berkeley of Berkeley Hill,
a distinguished and picturesque old colonial homestead two miles out of
Charleston, S.C., is, we are informed, a lineal descendant on her
mother's side of two governors of her native state and the niece of the
learned scholar and eminent psychologist, the late Dr. Osmond Berkeley,
with whom Miss Margaret made her home at Berkeley Hill until his
decease a year ago, since which sad event she has continued to reside
at this same homestead, her married sister and family living with her,
this sister being the wife of a Charleston attorney with whom Daniel
Leitzel, Esquire, has been conducting some legal railroad business in
Charleston and through whom our esteemed fellow-citizen, it seems, met
his happy doom.

New Munich's most aristocratic society will anticipate with pleasurable
interest the arrival of the happy bride and groom, Mrs. and Mr. Daniel
Leitzel.  No doubt many very elegant society events will take place
this winter in honour of the newcomer among us; for New Munich is noted
for its hospitality.


"It don't say," Jennie sharply remarked, "whether she's
well-fixed--though to be sure if she comes from such high people they'd
have to be rich."

"But her grand relations are all deceased, the paper says," returned
Sadie despondently.  "You may better believe, Jennie, if she had money,
Danny would have told the noospapers."

"It says in the paper she's living with her married sister, and it
looks to me," Jennie shrewdly surmised, "as if her brother-in-law (that
lawyer Danny had dealings with) wanted to get rid of her and worked her
off on our Danny.  Or else that she took up with Danny to get a home of
her own."

"Do you _think_ Danny could be so easy worked?" Sadie doubtfully
inquired.

"He's a man," Jennie affirmed conclusively (though there were those
among Danny's acquaintances who would not have agreed with Jennie);
"and any man can be worked."

"You think?"

"To be sure.  Danny would have been roped in long ago a'ready if I
hadn't of opened his eyes to it, still, when he was being worked."

"Yes, I guess," agreed Sadie.  "Say, Jennie, what'll Hiram say when he
hears it, I wonder!"

Hiram was their brother next in age to Jennie, who, upon the family's
sudden, unexpected access to wealth thirty-five years before, through
the discovery of coal on some farm land they owned, had been a young
farmer working in the fields, and had immediately decided to use his
share of the money obtained from leasing the coal land to prepare
himself for what had then seemed to him a dizzy height of ambition, the
highest human calling, the United Brethren ministry.  For twenty years
now he had been pastor of a small church in the neighbouring borough of
Millerstown.  His sisters were very proud to have a brother who was "a
preacher."  It was so respectable.  They never failed to feel a thrill
at sight of his printed name in an occasional number of the Millerstown
_New Era_--"Rev. Hiram Leitzel."  But Hiram did not, of course, hold
Danny's high place in their regard; Danny, their little brother whom
they had reared and who had repaid them by such a successful career in
money-making that he had, at the age of forty-five, accumulated a
fortune many times larger than that he had inherited.

"Hiram will take it awful hard that Danny's getting married," affirmed
Jennie.  "He'd like you and me an Danny, too, to will our money to
_his_ children.  He always hoped, I think, that Danny wouldn't ever get
married, so's his children would get all.  To be sure the ministry
ain't a money-making calling and Hiram has jealous feelings over Danny
that he's so rich and keeps getting richer.  Hiram likes money, too, as
much as Danny does."

"I wonder," speculated Sadie, "if Danny's picked out as saving and
hard-working a wife as what Hiram's got."

The characteristic Leitzel caution that Hiram had exercised in "picking
out" a wife had prolonged his bachelorhood far into middle life.  He
had now been married ten years and had four children.

Keenly as the Leitzels loved money, none of them, not even Hiram
himself, had ever regretted his going into the ministry.  It gave him
the kind of importance in the little borough of Millerstown that was
manna to the Leitzel egotism.  Hiram really thought of himself (as in
his youth he had always looked upon ministers) as a kind of demigod;
and as the people of Millerstown and even his own wife treated him as
though he were one, he lived in the complacent enjoyment of his
delusion.

He had greatly pleased his sisters and his brother Daniel by marrying
the daughter of the richest man in his congregation, and they all
approved of the frugality by which he and his wife managed to live on
the little salary he drew from his church, letting his inherited wealth
and that of his wife accumulate for the children.

"It ain't likely," Jennie replied to Sadie's speculation, "that Danny's
marrying as well as Hiram married, when he's acting without our adwice."

"No, I guess anyhow not," agreed Sadie.  "Say, Jennie!" she suddenly
whispered mysteriously.

"Well, what?"

"Will we leave Mom know about Danny's getting married?"

"Well, to be sure she'll have to find it out," Jennie curtly answered.
"It'll mebby be printed in the _County Gazette_ and she sees that
sometimes."

"Say, Jennie, if Danny's wife _is_ a way-up lady, what'll she think of
Mom yet, with her New Mennonite garb and her Dutch talk that way, and
all!  My goodness!"

"Well, a body can't help for their step-mothers, I guess!"

"But she's so wonderful common and ignorant.  I guess Danny would be
ashamed to leave his wife see her.  And his wife would laugh so at her
clothes and her talk!"

"But how would his wife ever get a chance to see her?  We don't ever
have Mom in here and we never take any one out to see her."

"That's so, too," Sadie acquiesced.

"I guess Hiram'll press it more'n ever now that we'd ought to put Mom
to the poorhouse and rent our old home.  The land would bring a good
rent, he says, and we've no call to leave her live on it free any
longer.  But I tell Hiram it would make talk if we put her to the
poorhouse.  Hardly any one knows we _got_ a step-mother, and we don't
want to start any talk."

"Yes, well, but how could they blame us when she ain't our own mother?"
Sadie protested.

"But _you_ know how she brags about us so proud to her neighbours out
there in Martz Township--just as if we _was_ her own sons and
daughters--and tells 'em how grand we live and how much Danny is
thought of and how smart he is and what fine sermons Hiram preaches and
how she kep' us all when we were little while Pop drank so and we
hadn't anything but what she earned at the wash-tub!  Yes," said Jennie
indignantly, "she tells it all right out perfectly shameless and
anybody to hear her talk would think we was her own flesh and blood!"

"Yes, it often worries me the way the folks out there talk down on us
and say she always treated us like her own and we always treated her
like a _step_-mother!" fretted Sadie.

"Well, I guess we needn't mind what such common, poor country folks say
about _us_!" sneered Jennie.  "All the same"--she suddenly lowered her
voice apprehensively--"we darsent start folks talking, or first thing
we know they'll be saying we _cheated_ Mom out of her widow's third
because she was too ignorant to claim it!"

"How would they have dare to say that when the land come from our own
mother in the first place?" pleaded Sadie.  "And Danny always says
we've got our moral right to all the money even if we haven't the legal
right."

"Yes, and he always says, too, that if we ain't awful careful we'll
have a lawsuit yet, and be _forced_ to give a lot of our money over to
Mom!  Yes, I often say to Hiram, 'Better leave sleeping dogs lay,' I
say, 'and not go tryin' to put Mom into the poorhouse.'"

"Yes, I guess anyhow then!" breathed Sadie.

"By to-morrow"--Jennie veered off from the precarious topic of their
step-mother, for here was ice too thin for even private family
handling--"we'll be getting a letter from Danny giving us the
_de_tails.  Say, Sadie, if he don't offer to pay our way, I ain't using
my money to travel that far to his wedding."

"Nor me, either," said Sadie.  "Do you think, Jennie," she anxiously
asked, "folks will talk at our still keeping house for Danny when he's
married?  You know how Danny always made us promise we'd stay by him,
married or single?"

Jennie sniffed.  "As if he could get along without us!  As if any one
else could learn his ways and how he likes things--and him so
particular about his little comforts!  _He_ wouldn't leave us go away!
And look at what he _saves_ with us paying half the household expenses!"

"And as for his wife's not liking it----" began Sadie.

"As for her," Jennie sharply put in, "she's coming here without asking
us if we like it--she'll be put in _her_ place right from the start."

"But if she's got money of her own mebby," Sadie suggested doubtfully,
"she could be independent, too, then."

"Well, to be sure she'd put her money in her husband's care, wouldn't
she?--and him a lawyer."

"A body couldn't be sure she'd do that till they saw once what kind of
a person she was, Jennie."

"Well," Jennie stoutly maintained, "Danny'll _see_ that she does."

It will be noted that the story of Miss Berkeley's "distinguished
lineage" did not greatly impress Jennie and Sadie Leitzel.  They did
not quite understand it.  They knew nothing about such a thing as a
distinguished lineage; New Munich "aristocrats" certainly did not have
any; and the sisters' experiences being limited to life as it was in
New Munich, whose "first families" were such only by reason of their
"means," Sadie and Jennie were ignorant of any other measure of
excellence.  To be poor and at the same time of any significance, was a
combination unknown to them.

As the newspapers did not state how closely those ancestral governors
were related to Miss Berkeley, the relationship was undoubtedly so
distant as to be negligible.

The one thing that would have softened their attitude toward their new
relative would have been an unequivocal statement as to the firm
financial standing of her family.  And on that point the newspaper,
though furnished by Daniel himself with the facts, was ominously
silent.  The conclusion was unmistakable.  She was certainly penniless.

It was not greatly to be wondered at that the Leitzels worshipped
money.  It was money that had done everything for them: it had rescued
them from a fearful struggle for a bare existence on a small, heavily
mortgaged farm; it had freed them from the grind of slavish labour;
from an obscurity that had been bitterly humiliating to the self-esteem
and the ambition which was characteristic of every one of them.  It was
money that had given them power, place, influence; that made their
fellowmen treat them with deference and relieved them from the
necessity of treating any one else with deference.  They knew of no
worth in life unpurchasable by money.  They did not, therefore, know of
their own spiritual pauperism; their abject poverty.



II

The betrothal and impending marriage of Daniel Leitzel was the only
topic of discussion that evening at the New Munich Country Club dance.
Certainly New Munich had a Country Club.  "Up to date in every
particular."  There was nothing in the way of being smartly fashionable
that the town of New Munich lacked.  Well, if up to the present it had
lacked old families of "distinguished lineage," who, in these
commercial days, regarded that kind of thing?  Anyway, was not that
lack (if lack it had been) now to be supplied by the newcomer, Mrs.
Daniel Leitzel?

Not only at the Country Club dance, but wherever two or three were
gathered together--at the mid-week Prayer Meeting, at the Woman's
Suffrage Headquarters, at the Ladies' Literary Club, at the Episcopal
Church Vespers, at the auction bridge given at Congressman Ocksreider's
home--Danny Leitzel's betrothal was talked about.

"Just imagine this 'daughter of a thousand earls----'"

"Governors, not earls," corrected Mr. Schaeffer, the whist partner of
the first speaker who was Miss Myrtle Deibert, as supper was being
served at eleven o'clock on the card tables at Congressman
Ocksreider's.  "A thousand governors and highbrows--shy-lologists, or
something like that--whatever _they_ are!"

"Well, just imagine such a person living at the Leitzels!"

"But you don't suppose Danny's sisters will still live with him after
he's married!" exclaimed Mr. Bleichert, the second young man at the
table.

"If he thinks it more economical, they certainly will," declared Miss
Myrtle Deibert.

"Whew!" exclaimed Mr. Bleichert.  "Good-_night_!"

"Who would have supposed any nice girl would have married old Danny
Leitzel!" marvelled Mr. Schaeffer.

"Oh, come now," protested Mr. Bleichert who was a cynic, "why have all
the girls, from the buds just out, up to the bargain-counter maidens in
their fourth 'season,' been inviting Danny Leitzel to everything going,
and running after him heels over head, ever since he built his ugly,
expensive brick house on Main Street?  Tell me that, will you?"

It should be stated here that it was an accepted social custom in New
Munich for the people at one card table to discuss the clothes,
manners, and morals of those at the next table.

"You know perfectly well," retorted Miss Deibert, "that at least two
girls in this town, when it came to the point of _marrying_ Danny,
chucked it."

"I should think they might," said Schaeffer.  "Why, he isn't a man,
he's a weasel, a rat, a money-slot!"

"Well, of course, the girl or old maid, 'bird or devil,' that has
caught him at last, isn't marrying him for himself, but for his money,"
serenely affirmed Myrtle Deibert.

"When she meets his two appendages, Miss Jennie and Miss Sadie, she'll
wish she was single again!" predicted Mr. Bleichert.

"They'll probably think it their business to manage Danny's wife the
way they manage him," Miss Deibert declared.

"I hope she's a spendthrift," shrugged Mr. Schaeffer.  "It would give
Dan Leitzel the shock he needs to find himself married to a
spendthrift."

"She won't be one after she's Mrs. Daniel Leitzel!" Miss Deibert
confidently asserted.

"But of course she's rich--Dan Leitzel wouldn't marry a dowerless
woman," said Bleichert.

"Well, then he won't let her spend _her_ money," Miss Deibert settled
that.

The second young lady at this card table, a pale, serious-looking girl,
did not join in the discussion, but sat with her eyes downcast, toying
with her food, as the rest chattered.  The other three did not give
Miss Aucker credit for remaining silent because she found their gossip
vulgar and tiresome (which was indeed her true reason) but attributed
her disinclination to talk to the fact that during the past year Daniel
Leitzel had been rather noticeably attentive to her; so much so that
people had begun to look for a possible interesting outcome.  Miss
Deibert, Mr. Schaeffer, and Mr. Bleichert, therefore, all considered
her demeanour just now to be an indelicately open expression of her
chagrin at the news they discussed.

"He was her last chance," Miss Deibert was thinking.  "She must be
nearly thirty."

"One would think she wouldn't show her disappointment so frankly," Mr.
Schaeffer was mentally criticising her.

"You know," chuckled Miss Deibert as she dabbed with her fork at a
chicken croquet, "Danny, away from his sisters and his awful house and
among strangers, would appear so like a perfect gentleman, even if he
_is_ 'a rat, a weasel, a money-slot,' that I think even the descendant
of earls or governors might be deceived.  You see he's had so many
advantages; he was only ten years old when they discovered coal on
their land and got rich over night.  And from the first, his sisters
gave him every advantage they could buy for him, sending him to the
best private schools, and then to college, and then to the Harvard Law
School; and every one knows that Danny Leitzel is no fool, but a
brilliant lawyer.  So I do think that, detached from his setting here,
there's nothing about Danny that would lead an unsuspecting South
Carolina bride to imagine such contingencies as Jennie and Sadie and
that Main Street house.  I suppose _she_ lives in an ancestral colonial
place full of antique mahogany, the kind we all buy at junk shops when
we have money enough."

"What kind of a woman would it be that could stand Dan Leitzel's
penuriousness?" Mr. Schaeffer speculated.  "He makes money like rolling
down hill and I've heard him jew down the old chore woman that scrubs
his office and haggle over a fifty-cent bill for supper at the club.
He's the worst screw I ever knew.  And mind you, his bride's a Southern
woman, accustomed to liberality and gallantry and everything she won't
find at Danny's house!"

"Do you know (not many people in New Munich do seem to know) that the
Leitzels' _mother_ is living?" said Miss Deibert.

"_What?_"

"I know a woman that knows her.  She lives in the Leitzels' old
farmhouse out in Martz Township."

"But Miss Jennie and Miss Sadie are too old to have a mother living."

"It's their step-mother.  But she brought them up from little children
and I heard she even took in washing to support them when their own
father drank--and now they're ashamed of her and don't have anything to
do with her.  I was told she's a dear old soul and never speaks against
them, but is as proud of their rise in the world as if she were their
own mother.  The neighbours out there say she has a hard time getting
on and that they don't do a thing for her except let her live in their
old tumble-down farmhouse.  Isn't it a shame, as rich as they are!"

"You can't believe everything you hear."

"But it would be just like them!" affirmed Bleichert.

"Mary!"  Miss Deibert suddenly laid her hand playfully on that of the
silent Miss Aucker.  "Congratulations on _your_ escape, my dear!"

"I was never in the least danger, Myrtle.  Aren't we gossiping rather
dreadfully?  I've been wondering"--she looked up with a smile that
transformed her seriousness into a gentle radiance--"what a newcomer
like Mr. Leitzel's wife, doomed to live here, will _do_ with us and our
social life, if she really is a woman of breeding and culture.  I
wonder whether it would be possible this winter to make our social
coming together count for something more than--well, than just an utter
waste of time.  What is there in it all--our afternoon teas, auction
bridge, luncheons, dinners, dances.  The dances are of course the best
thing we do because they are at least refreshing and rejuvenating.  But
don't you think, Myrtle, that we might make it all more worth while?"

"There's the Ladies' Literary Club," Myrtle suggested, "for those that
want something 'worth while,' as you put it.  I think it's an awful
bore myself."

"Of course it is," Mary agreed.

"But what would you suggest then?"

"I suppose it is after all a question of what is in ourselves.  A dozen
literary clubs at which we read abstracts from encyclopedias wouldn't
alter the fact that when we get together we have so little, so _little_
to give to each other!"

"Oh, I don't know!" protested Myrtle.  "We all read all the latest
books and magazines and talk about them, and----"

At an adjoining table another phase of the agitating news was being
threshed out.

"If she's what the papers say she is, I suppose she'll turn up her nose
at New Munich," said the daughter of the Episcopal rector.

"Oh, I don't think she need put on any airs!" said Miss Ocksreider, the
hostess's daughter.  "I've visited down South and I can tell you we're
enough more up to date here in New Munich.  Nearly every one down
there, even their aristocrats, is so poor that up here they wouldn't be
anybody.  It's awfully queer the way those Southerners don't care
anything about appearances.  They tell you right out they can't afford
this and that, and they don't seem to think anything of wearing clothes
all out of style.  There was an awfully handsome new house in the town
where I stopped, and when I asked the hotel clerk who lived in it and
if they weren't great swells, he said: 'Oh, no, they are not in
society; they're not one of our _families_, though they're very nice
people, of course, members of church and good to the poor and all like
that.'  'Not in society in a little town like this Leesburg, and living
in a mansion like _that_?' I said.  Yes, that's the way they are down
there."

"How queer!" came from two of her table companions to whom, like
herself, any but money standards of value were rather vague and hazy.

"But if they don't care for money down there, then what's this girl
marrying Dan Leitzel for?" one of the men candidly wondered.

"Well, you know there's no accounting for tastes."

"I could excuse any woman's marrying for money--in these days it's only
prudent," said the candid one; "but I certainly couldn't respect a
woman that married Dan Leitzel for anything _else_."

"It's to be hoped she's an up-to-date girl and not a clinging vine, for
Danny will need very firm handling to make him part with enough money
to keep her in gloves and slippers and other necessary luxuries," said
Miss Ocksreider.

"Yes, if it were only her husband that she'll have to manage; but there
are Miss Jennie and Miss Sadie, too!" cried the rector's daughter.
"Danny doesn't so much as put on a necktie without consulting them.
They even tie it for him and part his hair for him."

"That may be," said one of the men, "but let me tell you that any one
who thinks Dan Leitzel hasn't any force of character better take
another guess.  If he lets his sisters choose his neckties for him,
it's because he doesn't want to do it himself.  He's the most
consummately selfish individual I've ever known in the whole course of
my long and useful life and the most immovably obstinate.  Weak?  Why,
when that fellow takes a notion, he's a mule for sticking to it.
Reason with him?  Go out in your chicken yard and reason with your
hens.  It wouldn't be as futile!"

"_He_ may be independent of his sisters, but his wife won't be!"
prophesied the rector's daughter darkly.

"Anyway," said Miss Ocksreider, "it will be interesting, won't it, to
look on this winter at the drama or comedy or tragedy, as the case may
be, of Danny Leitzel's marriage?"

"Won't it!" exclaimed in chorus her hearers.

But at one of the other tables a man was at this moment remarking: "You
may all laugh at Dan Leitzel--he's funny of course--but he's all the
same a man of brains and education, of wealth and influence and power.
In short, he's a _successful_ man.  And in Pennsylvania who asks
anything more of a man?"



III

Meantime, several hundred miles away, the two objects of all this
criticism and speculation were not so apprehensive for their future as
were the gossips of New Munich, though it must be confessed that the
prospective bridegroom, in spite of his jubilant happiness, did have
one or two misgivings on certain points, and that the bride, while
wholly ignorant of the real calibre of the man she was about to marry,
and having no conception of such a domestic and social environment as
that from which he had sprung, nevertheless did not even imagine
herself romantically in love with him.

That a girl like Margaret Berkeley could have become involved in a love
affair and an actual betrothal with a man like Daniel Leitzel, while
apparently inexplicable, becomes, in view of her unique history and
present circumstances, not only plausible, but almost inevitable.

Her entanglement with him may be dated from a certain evening just
twenty-four hours before she met or even heard of him, when a little
episode, trivial enough in itself, opened her eyes to an ugly fact in
her relation with her sister to which she had been rather persistently
blind.

She had been radiantly happy all that day because of the unusual
circumstance that she had something delightful to anticipate for the
evening.  Her godmother, who lived in Charleston, had 'phoned out to
Berkeley Hill to invite her to go with her to see Nazimova in "Hedda
Gabler"; and as Margaret had seen only three plays in all the
twenty-five years of her life (though she had avidly read every classic
drama in the English and French languages) she was greatly excited at
the prospect before her.  So barren had her girlhood been of youthful
pleasures, so sombre and uneventful her daily routine, and so repressed
every natural, restless instinct toward brightness and happiness, that
the idea of seeing a great dramatic performance loomed big before her
as an intoxicating delight.  All day, alone in her isolated suburban
home, in charge of her elder sister's three small children and of the
two rather decrepit negro servants of the great old place, she had gone
tripping and singing about the house.  She had been quite unable to
settle down to the prosaic work of mending the week's laundry, or of
wrestling with the intricacies of Henry James' difficult style in "The
Golden Bowl" in which, the night before, she had been passionately
absorbed.

She could scarcely wait for her sister Harriet to come home from town,
where she was attending a young matrons' luncheon party, so eager was
she to tell her of the treat she was going to have.

"She will be so glad for me.  I've scarcely been outside the hedge for
a month, and she has been having such a gay time herself--she's so
popular.  She'll be so glad I'm going!" she repeated to herself, trying
to ignore the doubt in her heart on that point.

But when at half-past four in the afternoon Harriet returned, the blow
fell upon Margaret.

"Harriet, dear!" she exultantly greeted her sister with her splendid
news the moment the latter came into the house, "Aunt Virginia is going
to take me to see Nazimova to-night!  Oh!"  She laughed aloud, and
danced about the spacious hall in her delight, while her sister, a very
comely young matron of thirty-five, leisurely removed her wraps.

"But Walter and I are going," Harriet casually remarked as she tossed
her cloak over a carved, high-backed chair.  "The editor of the
_Bulletin_ gave Walter two tickets as part payment for some legal
business Walter did for him.  Of course you and I can't both be away
from the children.  Has the baby had her five o'clock bottle?"

"It isn't quite five yet."

"Will you see that she gets it, dearie?  I'm so dead tired, I'll have
to rest before dinner if I'm going into the city again to-night.  Will
you attend to it?"

"Yes."

"That's a dear.  I'm going up to lie down.  Don't let the children come
to my room and wake me, will you, dear?" she added as she started
languidly upstairs.

"But, Harriet!"

"What?" Harriet asked, not stopping.

"I accepted Aunt Virginia's invitation and she is coming out in her
motor for me!"

"Too bad!  I'm awfully sorry.  You'd better 'phone at once or she will
be offended.  Tell her that as we are much too poor to _buy_ tickets
for the theatre, we can't possibly refuse to use them on the rare
occasions when they're given to us!"  Harriet laughed as she
disappeared around the curve of the winding stairway.

Margaret sprang after her.  "Oh, Harriet!  I can't give it up!"  Her
voice was low and breathless.

"But if you 'phone at once Aunt Virginia won't be cross.  You know,
dearie, you shouldn't make engagements without first finding out what
ours are."  And Harriet moved on up the stairs to her bedroom.

Margaret was ashamed of her childishness when at dinner that evening
Walter, her brother-in-law, inquiring, in his kind, solicitous way, the
cause of her pallor and silence, she burst out crying and rushed from
the table.

Walter, looking shocked and distressed, turned to his wife for an
explanation.  But Harriet's face expressed blank astonishment.

"Why, I can't imagine!  Unless she's tired out from having had the
children all day.  I was at Mrs. Duncan's luncheon, you know.  I didn't
get home until nearly five.  I'll tell Margaret to go to bed early
to-night and rest up."

Walter Eastman, searching his wife's face keenly, shrugged his big
shoulders at the impenetrability of its innocent candour.  No use to
try to get at the truth of anything from Harriet.  She wasn't exactly a
liar, but she had a genius for twisting facts to suit her own selfish
ends--and all Harriet's ends were selfish.  Even the welfare of her
children was secondary to her own comfort and convenience.  Walter had
no illusions about the wife of his bosom and the mother of his three
children.  He knew perfectly well that she loved no one as she loved
herself, and that this dominating self-love made her often cold-blooded
and even sometimes a bit false, though always, he was sure,
unconsciously so.  He was still quite fond of her, which spoke well for
them both, considering that they had been married nine years.  Of
course, after such a length of time they were no longer "in love."  But
Harriet was an easy-going, good-natured woman, when you didn't cross
her; and as he was also easy-going and good-natured, and never crossed
her when he could avoid it, they got on beautifully and had a pretty
good time together.

Walter wondered sometimes what Harriet would do if placed in
circumstances where her own inclinations would have to be sacrificed
for those of another.  For instance, if she and Margaret had to change
places.

"Take Margaret to the play with you to-night and I'll stay home with
the kiddies, Harriet," he suggested, looking at his wife across their
beautifully appointed dinner-table with its old family china and
silver.  Harriet, in her home-made evening gown, graced with
distinction the stately dining-room furnished in shining antique
mahogany, its walls hung with interesting portraits.  "If Margaret's
had charge of the children all day, she ought not to have them
to-night."

"No."  Harriet shook her head.  "Margaret ought not to go out to-night,
she's too tired.  And I want _you_ with me, dear.  Margaret is not my
husband, you know.  That's the danger of having one of your family
living with you," she sighed.  "It is so apt to make a husband and wife
less near to each other.  I am always resisting the inclination,
Walter, dear, to pair off with Margaret instead of with _you_.  I
resist it for your sake, for the children's sake, for the sake of our
home."

"I shall feel a selfish beast going to a play and leaving that dear
girl alone here with the babies.  They're our babies, not hers, you
know."

"She loves them like her own; she's crazy about them.  They are the
greatest pleasure she has, Walter."

"Because she hasn't the sort of young pleasures she ought to have.  And
because she's so unselfish, Hat, that she lets herself be imposed upon
to the limit!  I've been thinking, lately, that we ought to do more
than we do for Margaret; she ought to know girls of her own age; she
ought to have a bit of social life, now that the year of mourning is
over.  It's too dull for her, sticking out here eternally, minding our
children and seeing after the house."

"But she's used to sticking out here and seeing after the house.  When
she lived here with Uncle Osmond she had a lot less diversion and life
about her than she has now, and you know how deadly gloomy it was here
then.  We've brightened it up and made it a home for Margaret."

"The fact that she had to sacrifice her girlhood for your uncle is all
the more reason why she shouldn't sacrifice what's left of it for our
children."

"If Margaret doesn't complain, I don't see why you need, dear."

"_She'd_ never complain--she never thinks of herself.  Your Uncle
Osmond took care not to let her form the habit!  For that very reason
we should think _for_ her a bit, Hattie, dear.  I say, we've got to let
Margaret in for some young society."

"When I can't afford to keep up my social end, let alone hers?  And if
we should spend money that way for Margaret, where would the children
come in?"

"Oh, pshaw!" said Walter impatiently.  "You're bluffing!  You care no
more about the money side of it than I do.  You're not a Yankee
tight-wad!  Margaret need not live the life of a nursemaid because
we're not rich, any more than you do, honey.  It's absurd!  And it's
all wrong.  What you're really afraid of, Hat, is that if she went
about more, _you'd_ have to stay at home now and then with your own
babies.  Eh, dear?"

But he was warned by the look in his wife's face that he must go no
further.  He was aware of the fact that Harriet was distinctly jealous
of his too manifest liking for Margaret.  Being something of a
philosopher, he had felt occasionally, when his sister-in-law had
seemed to him more than usually charming and irresistible, that a
wife's instinctive jealousy was really a Providential safeguard to hold
a man in check.

He wondered often why he found Margaret so tremendously appealing, when
undoubtedly his wife, though ten years older than her sister, was much
the better looking of the two.  He was not subtle enough to divine that
it was the absolutely feminine quality of Margaret's personality, the
penetrating, all-pervasive womanliness which one felt in her presence,
which expressed itself in her every movement, in every curve of her
young body--it was this which so poignantly appealed to his strong
virility that at times he felt he could not bear her presence in the
house.

He would turn from her and look upon his wife's much prettier face and
finer figure, only to have the fire of his blood turn lukewarm.  For he
recognized, with fatal clearness, that though Harriet had the
beautiful, clear-cut features and look of high breeding characteristic
of the Berkeley race, her inexpressive countenance betrayed a
commonplace mind and soul, while Margaret, lacking the Berkeley beauty,
did have the family look and air of breeding, which gave her, with her
countenance of intelligence and sensitiveness, a marked distinction;
and Walter Eastman was a man not only of temperament, but of the poetic
imagination that idealizes the woman with whom he is at the time in
love.

"The man that marries Margaret will never fall out of love with
her--she's magnetic to her finger-tips!  What's more, there's something
in her _worth_ loving--worth loving forever!"

At this stage of his reflections he usually pulled himself up short,
uncomfortably conscious of his disloyalty.  Harriet, he knew, was
wholly loyal to him, proud of him, thinking him all that any woman
could reasonably expect a husband to be--a gentleman of old family,
well set up physically, and indeed good-looking, chivalrous to his
wife, devoted to his children, temperate in his habits, upright and
honourable.  She did not even criticise his natural indolence, which,
rather than lack of brains or opportunity, kept his law practice and
his earnings too small for the needs of his growing family; but Harriet
preferred to do without money rather than have her husband be a vulgar
"hustler," like a "Yankee upstart."

It was this same indolence of Walter's, rather than want of force of
character, which led him to stand by passively and see his
sister-in-law constantly imposed upon, as he distinctly felt that she
was, though he realized that Margaret herself, dear, sweet girl, never
seemed conscious of it.  Her unexpected outburst at dinner to-night had
shocked and hurt him to the quick.  He was sure that something really
outrageous on Harriet's part must have caused it.  Yet rather than
"raise a row" with Harriet, he acquiesced in her decision to leave
Margaret at home.  It must be said in justice to him that had his
astute wife not kept him in ignorance of their Aunt Virginia's
invitation to Margaret he would undoubtedly have taken a stand in the
matter.  Harriet, carefully calculating the limit of his easy
forbearance, knew better than to tell him of that invitation; and she
could safely count upon Margaret not to put her in the wrong with
Walter.

Margaret, meantime, locked in her room, had quickly got over her
outbreak of weeping and was now sitting upright upon her bed,
resolutely facing her quandary.

It was Harriet's assumption of authority, with its implication of her
own subservient position, that was opening Margaret's eyes this evening
to the real nature of her position in her sister's household.

"Suppose I went straight to her just now, all dressed for the theatre,
and told her in an off-hand, careless, artistic manner that I couldn't
possibly break my engagement with Aunt Virginia!"

Margaret, perched Turk-fashion on the foot of her bed, her hands
clasped about one knee, her cheeks flushed, her eyes very bright,
contemplated in fancy Harriet's consternation at such an unwonted
procedure on her part--and she knew she would not do it.  Not because,
like Walter, she was too indolent to wrestle with Harriet's
cold-blooded tenacity; nor because she was in the least afraid of her
sister.  After living eight years with Uncle Osmond she would hardly
quail before Harriet!  But it was that thing Harriet had said to her
this afternoon--that awful thing that burned in her brain and heart--it
was that with which she must reckon before she could take any definite
stand.  "You should not make any engagements without first finding out
what ours are," Harriet had said, which, in view of all the
circumstances, simply meant, "Being dependent upon us for your food and
clothes, your time should be at our disposal.  You are no more free to
go and come than are the cook and butler."

Now of course Harriet would never admit for an instant that she felt
like that.  Margaret knew perfectly well that her sister did not
begrudge the little it cost to keep her with them.  Harriet was not so
thrifty as that.  This attitude, then, was probably only a pretext to
cover something else which Harriet was no doubt unwilling to admit even
to her own soul, that something else which Margaret, herself, had tried
so long not to see, which made her presence at Berkeley Hill unwelcome
to both Walter and Harriet.  And Harriet, too proud to acknowledge her
true reason for wishing her sister away, pretended to an economic one.

"Suppose I said to _her_, 'You must not make engagements without first
finding out what mine are?'  Now if she had only said, '_We_ should not
make engagements without first consulting with each other.' But she put
all the obligation where she tries to persuade herself that it belongs."

When presently Margaret heard her sister and Walter leave the house to
go to the theatre she got up from her bed and went to Harriet's room
adjoining the nursery, to keep guard over the three sleeping children
until their parents came home.

Lying on a chintz-covered couch at the foot of Harriet's huge
four-posted bed, she thought long and earnestly upon every phase of her
difficult situation, determined that before she slept she would solve
the apparently impossible problem of how she might leave Berkeley Hill.



IV

Nine years ago it was that Margaret, a girl of sixteen, had come out
from Charleston to live at Berkeley Hill as nurse, amanuensis,
housekeeper, and companion to her sickly, irritable, and eccentric old
Uncle Osmond Berkeley, eminent psychologist, scholar, and author, who
at that time owned and occupied the Berkeley homestead.  It was the
death of her father and Harriet's immediate marriage that, leaving her
homeless and penniless, had precipitated upon her those years of
imprisonment with an irascible invalid.  Indeed so completely stranded
had she been that she had accepted only too thankfully her uncle's
grudging offer to give her a home with him on condition that she give
him in return every hour of her time, making herself useful in every
variety of occupation he saw fit to impose, and to do it all with
entire cheerfulness and absolutely no complaining.  That was the chief
of his many "unqualified conditions "--a cheerful countenance at all
times, no matter what her fancied reason for dissatisfaction, and no
matter how gloomy he might be.

"I'm never cheerful," he had affirmed, "and that's why I require you
always to be so.  If that seems to you unreasonable and illogical,
you're stupid.  Give the matter a little thought and light may come to
you.  You'll have plenty of chance, living with me, to develop what
little thinking powers you may have--much more chance than you'd ever
have in a school for young ladies, where you no doubt think I ought to
send you for the next two or three years.  Schools for young ladies!
Ha!" he laughed sardonically.  "Ye gods!  Thank me for rescuing you
from the fate of being 'finished' at one of them!  Well named
'finishing schools!'  They certainly are a girl's finish so far as
common sense, capacity for usefulness, and ability to think for herself
are concerned!  And there actually are parents of daughters who
seriously regard such schools as institutions of 'education!'  Yes,
education, by God!  You'll get more education, my girl, from one week
of my conversation than you would from a decade of one of those
parasite factories!"

It was in the library at Berkeley Hill, the stately old country home
which for seven generations had belonged to the Berkeley family, that
this preliminary interview had taken place, her uncle in his reclining
chair before a great open hearth, the firelight playing upon his
pallid, intellectual face crowned with thick, white hair, and upon the
emaciated hands clasping a volume on his knee.  Repellently harsh he
seemed to the shrinking maiden standing before him in her deep
mourning, to be inspected, appraised, and catechised; for in spite of
the fact that she had been born and brought up in the city of
Charleston, only two miles away, her uncle had never seen enough of her
to know anything about her.

Perceiving, now, how the girl shrank from him, his eyes sparkled; there
was something ghoulish in his love of cowing those who served him.  For
the past ten years he had had no woman near him save hired attendants
who cringed before his bullying.

"A human creature who lets itself be bullied deserves no better," was
his theory, and he never spared a sycophant.

"The day I have you weeping on my hands," he warned his niece as she
stood pale and silent before him, "or even looking as though you were
trying not to weep, out you go!"

The fact that the girl was scarcely more than a child, that she was
alone and penniless, did not soften him.

"She's old enough to show her mettle if she has any.  If she hasn't, no
loss if she's crushed in the grind of serving me, for I'm useful, and
shall be while I breathe and think."

"Well, what have you to say for yourself, wench?" he demanded when she
had heard without a word his uncompromising statements as to what he
would require of her in return for the "home" he would give her.

"I accept all your unqualified conditions, Uncle Osmond," she answered
quietly, no tremor in her voice; and the musical, soft drawl of her
tone fell with an oddly soothing and pleasing effect upon the invalid's
rasped nerves; "if you'll accept my one condition."

Her uncle's white head jerked like a startled animal's.  "What?  What?"
he ejaculated after an instant's stunned silence.  "_Your_ condition?
Huh!  You making a condition, upon my word!  What pertness is this?  A
'condition' upon which you'll accept my charity!"

"Not your 'charity.'  The self-supporting position of your cheerful,
uncomplaining, industrious, capable, untiring, companionable,
intelligent chattel," came the musical, lazy drawl in reply.  "My
condition is that you solemnly promise never again to call me a
'wench.'"

"I'll call you what I see fit to call you!  If you're so damned
squeamish, I won't have you near me!  I'd be hurling books at your
head!"

"I'm not 'damned squeamish,' Uncle Osmond, indeed I'm not.  I really
rather like the way you swear, it's so manly and exciting.  But I won't
be called a 'wench.'"

"Why not?  I won't have my liberty of speech hampered!"

"Very well, then, Uncle Osmond, dear, I won't come."

"You shan't come!  I wouldn't have you in the house, Miss Pernicketty!"

"Good-bye, then.  I'm very sorry for you, Uncle Osmond.  I'm sure the
loss is yours.  I would have been very kind to you."

"Sorry for me!  You think well of yourself, don't you, wench?"

"At least so well that I'll go out sewing by the day, or stand in a
store, or go on the stage, or turn evangelist (I've heard there's money
in that) before I'll be called a wench!"

"What in hell do you imagine the word means?"

"I don't know what it means, but I won't be addressed as a wench."

"Get the dictionary.  Look it up."

"But I won't be called a wench no matter what it means."

"_Won't_ be called one!  You dictate to me?  Understand, girl, nobody
dictates to me!  Read Shakespeare's sonnet, _Lucrece_:

"'_Know, gentle wench, it small avails my mood_.'

No offence in the word, you see, my authority being our greatest
English poet."

"Good-bye, Uncle Osmond," she said, turning away and walking toward the
door.

"Come back and behave yourself!"

She came back at once.  "All right--and don't ever forget your promise."

"I promised nothing.  I never make promises."

"Your acceptance of my condition is a promise."

"Acceptance of your condition!"  He choked and spluttered over it.

"And it's a mighty small condition considering all I'm going to do for
you with cheerfulness, amiability, a pleasant smile----"

"Hold your tongue and speak when you are spoken to!" he growled,
apparently furious, but secretly exulting at the child's refreshing
fearlessness with him.

It had been an instinct of self-preservation that had led Margaret to
demonstrate to her uncle, in that very first hour with him, that the
line would have to be drawn somewhere in his browbeating.  And the word
"wench" had served her purpose.  Thereafter, in the eight years that
she lived with him, docile and patient as she always was, he never
forgot, and she never had to remind him, that there was a limit past
which he could not safely venture in the indulgence of his tendency to
tyrannize.

But her life was hard; most girls would have found its monotony and
self-sacrifice unbearable; its gloomy environment in the great empty
barn of a house too depressing; its close confinement within the narrow
limits of the unkept grounds, overgrown with weeds and bushes, and dark
with big trees and a high hedge of hemlocks, as bad as any jail.  There
were sometimes weeks at a stretch during which she saw no human being
save her uncle and the old negro couple who had lived on the place for
a quarter of a century; for though Harriet and her husband lived in
Charleston, her uncle would spare her so seldom to visit them, and was
so exacting as to her speedy return to him that she soon fell into the
way of confining her intercourse with her sister almost entirely to a
weekly exchange of letters.

In spite, however, of her isolation Margaret felt that there were
compensations in her lot.  She had resources within herself in her love
of books, and she found in her uncle's rich intellectual equipment, of
which he freely gave her the benefit in their daily association, a
stimulus, a variety, and even an excitement that meant much more to her
than the usual girl's diversions of frocks, parties, and beaus would
have meant.  It is true she often longed for a congenial companion of
her own age, she hungered for affection, she suffered keenly in her
occasional feverish paroxysms of restlessness, and there were times
when the surging fountains of her youth threatened to break down the
barriers that imprisoned a nature that was both large and impassioned.

"She's temperamental enough!" was her uncle's early conclusion as, from
day to day, the girl's mind and heart were unfolded to his keen
observation.

Her rare periods of passionate discontent, however, though leaving her
spent and listless for a time after they had passed over her, did not
embitter her.  There was a fund of native sweetness in Margaret's soul
that even her life with cynical old Osmond Berkeley could not blight.
That philosopher marvelled often at his inability to spoil her,
remarkably open as he found her young mind to the ideas and theories
which he delighted in impressing upon her.  It was indeed amazing how
readily she would select from the intellectual feast daily spread
before her what was wholesome and pure and reject what was morbid.

"That's right," he would approve when she would frankly refuse to
accept a dogma laid down to her.  "Better think for yourself, even
though you think wrongly, than do as the other females of the species
do--believe whatever they are told to believe--or, worse, what it suits
their personal interests to believe.  Be everlastingly thankful to me
that I encourage you to think for yourself, to face the _facts_ of
life.  George Meredith writes, 'The education of girls is to make them
think that facts are their enemies.'  _You_ shall not escape some
knowledge of facts if I can help it!"

"It's awfully nice of you to care so much about my mind, Uncle Osmond,"
she gratefully responded.  "To really care for _any_thing about me.  I
do love to be mothered and coddled and made much of!"

"Huh!  'Mothered and coddled and made much of!'  You're at the wrong
shop!  And don't let me hear you misuse that word 'nice.'"

"I insist upon being pleased at your caring at least about my mind!
I'd be grateful even to a dog that was good to me."

"I'm not a dog, and I'm never so 'good' to any one that you could
notice it particularly."

"Don't try to make yourself out worse than you are; you're bad enough,
honey, in all conscience!"

"Hold your impudence and bring me Volume Third of Kant's 'Critique.'"

"Oh, dear!" Margaret sighed as she obeyed, "is it going to be _that_
awful dope to-day?  I hoped up to the last you'd choose an exciting
novel.  Do you know I don't think it's womanly to understand Kant's
'Critique.'"

"I've no desire to be womanly.  Do as I tell you."

In addition to finding his niece capable and patient as a nurse and
housekeeper, Margaret interested him more than any individual he had
known in many years.  He secretly blessed the hour when she had come
into his sombre life to enliven and, yes, enrich it.  Not for worlds,
however, would he have let _her_ know what she was to him.

There were rare moments when he was actually moved to an expression of
gratitude and tenderness for his long-suffering victim; but Margaret's
touchingly eager response to such overtures (heart-hungry as she was in
her loneliness) while gratifying him, had always the effect of making
him promptly withdraw into his hard shell again and to counteract, by
his most trying exactions, his momentary softness; so that in time she
learned to dread any least sign of amiability.

She did not know the full extent of her uncle's selfishness in his
treatment of her: how ruthlessly he schemed to avert the danger which
he thought often threatened him of losing her to some one of the
half-dozen middle-aged or elderly gentlemen of learning who had the
habit of visiting him in his retirement and who, to the last man of
them, whether married or single, adored his niece.  It seemed that no
man could lay eyes on her without promptly loving her (what men called
love).  Even his physician, happily married and the father of four
lusty boys, was, Berkeley could see, quite mad about her, though
Margaret never discovered it; she only thought him extremely agreeable
and kind and liked him accordingly.  Indeed the only fun she ever got
out of this train of admirers was an occasional hour of liberty while
they were closeted with her uncle; for he took care, as soon as he
realized how alluring she was to most men, to have her out of the way
when his acquaintances dropped in, a deprivation to his own comfort for
which the visitor paid in an extra dose of pessimism and irony.

"When that child falls in love," Berkeley once told himself, "as of
course so temperamental a girl is bound to do sooner or later, it will
go hard with her.  Let her wait, however, until I'm gone.  Time enough
for her then.  I need her.  Couldn't endure life without her now that
I'm used to her!"

So he not only gave her no opportunity to meet marriageable men, he
tried to unsex her, to engraft upon her mind his own cynicism as to the
thing named love, his conviction of its gross selfishness, his scorn of
sentimentality and of "the hypocrisy that would idealize an ephemeral
emotion grounded in base, egoistic appetite."

"All 'love,' all attraction of whatever nature, is grounded in sex," he
would affirm.  "The universe is upheld and constantly recreated by the
ceaseless action of so-called love.  A purely natural, physical
phenomenon, therefore.  There is not in life such a thing as a
disinterested love."

"A mother's love?" Margaret once suggested in reply to this avowal.

"Entirely selfish.  She loves her child as part of herself; all her
pride and ambition for it are because it is _hers_."

"Well, if you call a mother's love selfish, there's no use saying
anything more."

"And not to mince matters," he reaffirmed, "I want you to know for your
own protection that a man's love for a woman is that of a beast of prey
for its victim!"

"But I'm so safe here, I don't need such protection; I never see a man.
No one but learned scholars ever come here."

"'Learned scholars' are not men, then, in your category?"

"Not the interesting wild kind that you warn me against."

"The man, woman, or 'learned scholar,' who has not a devil as well as
an angel in his soul, a beast as well as a god, is too limited a
creature to see life whole and big and round."

"Am _I_, then," she inquired with interest, "a devil and a beast as
well as an angel and a goddess, do you think?"

"Mostly devil, you!  I couldn't stand the angel-goddess combination.
Even you, my girl, are wholly selfish; you would not stay with me for
one day if it were not that I give you a home.  Come, now," he invited,
and evidently expected a protest against this assertion.

"Why, of course I shouldn't.  _Why_ would I?"

He looked rather blank at this, though privately he never failed to
find her honesty refreshing.

"I never understood," she added, "that it was a question of affection
between you and me, did you, my dear?"

"'Affection!'" he sneered bitterly.  "Affection for ourselves!"

"Of course.  You wouldn't give me a bright and happy home like this if
you did not need me to wait on you thirty-six hours out of the
twenty-four with a cheerful, Cheshire-cat smile, and all for my food,
bed, and two new frocks and hats a year."

"Have you no appreciation, girl, of the liberal education it is for you
to be with me, to be permitted to read to me, to have such a library as
mine at your command?"

"Yes, indeed, Uncle Osmond."

"Well, then?"

"But I don't stay here for the pleasure of your amiable society, dear,"
she assured him, patting his hand.  "You're far too much like your old
Scotch Thomas Carlyle that you admire so much.  My goodness, what a
life Jane must have led with that old curmudgeon!"

"Hold your impudent tongue!"

"Yes, dear."

"Don't speak to me again to-day!"

"Thanks; I'm so glad you don't also require me to be brilliantly
conversational.  I'd really have to charge extra for that, Uncle
Osmond."

"Get me my eggnog!"

In spite of all Osmond Berkeley's precautions, however, Margaret did,
of course, go through the intense and fiery ordeal of "falling in
love"; for when a maiden's budding soul begins to unfold to the beauty
of life, to throb and thrill before the wonder and mystery of the
universe, no walled imprisonment can check the course of nature--she is
bound to suffer the bitter-sweet experience of becoming enamoured of
something, it doesn't much matter what; a cigar-shop Indian will
suffice if nothing more lively comes her way.  For circumstances are,
after all, nothing but "machinery, just meant to give thy life its
bent."  Berkeley, priding himself on his knowledge of sex-psychology,
knowing that girls isolated in boarding-schools fall in love with their
woman teachers, and in colleges with each other, nevertheless persuaded
himself that he could, in this instance, defeat nature; that Margaret
was being safeguarded too absolutely to admit of her finding any outlet
whatever for the pent-up emotional current of her womanhood.

But there came to Berkeley Hill one day a stranger, an earnest young
minister of Charleston, who, having read a magazine article of Osmond
Berkeley's in which "the hysterical, unwholesome excitement of
evangelistic revivals" was demonstrated to be purely physiological,
wished to remonstrate with its author and point out to him that he was
grievously mistaken.

One keenly appraising, glance at the embarrassed, awkward young man as
he was shown into the library where Berkeley sat in his armchair before
the fire, with Margaret at his side reading to him from a just
published work by Josiah Royce, made her uncle decide that it would be
superfluous to send her from the room--"on account of a creature like
this, with no manners, no brains, and an Adam's apple!"

But it was the young man's deadly earnestness in the discussion between
these two unequal protagonists that impressed itself upon Margaret's
hungry imagination; his courage in coming with what he conceived to be
his burning message of truth to such a formidable "enemy to truth" as
the famous scholar, Dr. Osmond Berkeley.  Evidently, the young man's
conscience, in spite of his painful shyness, had lashed him to this
visit, more dreadful than a den of lions.  There were still, even in
these days, it seemed, martyrs for religion.

Now, while Margaret of course recognized the intellectual feebleness of
the young minister's side of the question which was under fire,
nevertheless, before his visit was concluded, his brow wore for her a
halo; his thin little voice was rich music to her quivering nerves; his
unsophisticated manner the outward sign of a beautiful simplicity; his
Adam's apple a peculiar distinction.

Berkeley, as soon as he found his visitor a bore, made short work of
him and got rid of him without ceremony.  In Margaret's eyes the young
man stood up to his rebuffs like a hero and a martyr.

Her uncle did not notice, upon her return to the library after seeing
the young man into the hall, how bright were her eyes, how flushed her
cheeks, how sensitive the curve of her lips.

"Ha, ha!" he laughed sardonically, "wouldn't you rather go to hell than
have to hear him preach?"

"You laugh like a villain in a melodrama!" retorted Margaret.

"I haven't laughed for twenty years except at damned fools.  When did
you ever see a melodrama?"

"Aunt Virginia took Harriet and me to see _The Two Orphans_ once."

"Damned presumption of the fellow to come here and take up my time!  He
isn't even a gentleman."

"I thought you prided yourself on not being a snob, Uncle Osmond."

"Don't be stupid.  Breeding is _breeding_."

"Well, what is good breeding if it isn't being courteous in your own
house?  You may call that young man common, but I doubt whether he
bullies women!"

"You're cross!" he snapped at her.  "Look pleasant!" he commanded,
bringing his hand down heavily on the arm of his chair.

"I won't!"  And for the first and only time in all the eight years of
her life with him, Margaret turned upon him with a stamp of her foot.

He stared at her incredulously.

"You call _that_ good breeding, do you, stamping your foot at your
benefactor?"

"'Benefactor?'" Margaret flew across the room and violently turned the
pages of the dictionary on a stand in the corner.  "'Benefactor,'" she
read, '"a doer of kindly deeds; a friendly helper.'  You see, I'm
_your_ benefactor, according to the Standard."

"You're begging the question: is it well-bred for a young lady to stamp
her foot?"

"I'm ashamed that I did it, Uncle Osmond, and I beg your pardon."

"Your tone is not contrite!" he objected.  But an unwonted flash in her
eyes made him see that this was one of the places where he would have
to "draw the line."

"You are tired," he said abruptly.  "No wonder, after listening to the
braying of that evangelical ass for nearly an hour!  Put on your wraps
and take a run about the grounds."

As with a look of relief Margaret turned to leave the room, he added in
a tone that was almost gentle, "Put on your heavy coat, child, the air
is very raw."

"Thank you, Uncle Osmond."

"And come back looking cheerful."

"I shall have to turn Christian Scientist if I'm to be cheerful under
_all_ circumstances--and you say you hate Christian Scientists because
they are _always so damned pleasant_."

"You can't turn Christian Scientist and live in the same house with
_me_!"

"But, Uncle Osmond, dear, I'm beginning to see that a Christian
Scientist is the only thing that _could_ live in the same house with
you!"

With that she left him, to a half-hour of anxious consideration of her
final thrust; for the one dread that hung over his life was the
possibility of Margaret's deserting him.



V

Margaret's suddenly conceived passion for the young minister went
through all the usual phases.  It was not, of course, the individual
himself, but her impossible inhuman ideal of him, of which she was
enamoured, the man himself was as unknown to her as though she had
never seen him; his image merely served as a dummy to be clothed with
her rich imaginings.  The thought of him dwelt with her every moment of
the day, making her absent-minded and listless, or feverishly
talkative.  She made excuses to go frequently to town, to a dentist, to
a doctor, to see Harriet, just for a chance to drive past the
minister's parsonage, for even if she did not catch a glimpse of him,
it was manna to her soul to look upon the place of his abode.  She
would have delighted to have lain her cheek upon the doorsill his foot
had pressed.  The actual sight, once or twice, of his ungainly figure
on the street, set her heart to thumping so that she could not breathe.
Her discovery, through a paragraph in the religious news of a daily
paper, that he was married, did not affect her, for she was not
conscious of any desire to marry him; she only wanted to see him, to
hear him, to feel herself alive in all her being, in his presence.

Even the sermon she managed to hear him preach one Sunday morning, when
a visit from one of the scholarly gentlemen whom her uncle considered
dangerous, gave her a free half day, even her recognition, through that
sermon, of the man's mental barrenness, did not quench her passion.

What did finally kill it, after three months of mingled misery and
ecstasy, was an occasion as trivial as that which had given birth to
it.  One day, in front of a grocery shop, where some provisions were
being piled into her phaeton, and where, to her quivering delight, the
Object of her adoration just chanced at that moment to come to make
some purchases, she heard him say to a negro employee of the grocer,
"Yes, sir, two pecks of potatoes and a head of cabbage; no, sir, no
strawberries."

To say "sir" to a negro!  The scales fell from Margaret's eyes.  Her
heart settled down comfortably in her bosom.  Her nerves became quiet.
The young minister stood before her as he was.  His Adam's apple was no
longer a peculiar distinction, but an Adam's apple.  For this was South
Carolina.

Thereafter, her uncle found her a much more comfortable companion.  But
keenly observant though he was, he had never suspected for a moment,
during those three months of Margaret's obsession, that she was
actually experiencing the thing he was so persistently trying to avert;
for it would not have been conceivable to him that any woman, least of
all his niece, Margaret Berkeley, could fall in love with "a milksop"
like "Rev. Hoops," as the poor man's printed visiting card proclaimed
him.

Never in all the rest of her life could Margaret laugh at that youthful
ordeal.  That she could have been so insanely deluded was a mystery to
wonder over, to speculate about; but the passion itself, the depth, the
height, the glory of it, its revelation of human nature's capacity for
ecstasy--all this was a reality that would always be sacred to her.

At the same time, her discovery that an emotional experience so intense
and vital, so fundamental, could grow out of an absolute illusion and
be so ephemeral, made her almost as cynical about love as was her uncle
himself; so that always after that the seed of skepticism, which he so
earnestly endeavoured to plant in her mind, fell on prepared soil.

Had Margaret adopted indiscriminately her uncle's philosophical,
ethical, social, political, or even literary ideas, it would certainly
have unfitted her for living in a society so complacent, optimistic,
and conventional as that of most American communities.  As it was, the
opinions she did come to hold, from her intercourse with this fearless,
if pessimistic, thinker, and from her wide and varied reading with him,
and also the ideals of life she formed in the solitude which gave her
so much time for thought, were unusual enough to make her unique among
women.  One aspect of this difference from her kind was that she was
entirely free from the false sentimentality of the average young woman,
and this in spite of the fact that she was fervently imaginative and,
in a high degree, sensitive to the beauty and poetry of life.  Another
and more radical point of difference was that she had what so very few
women do have--spiritual and intellectual fearlessness.  And both of
these mental attitudes she owed not only to her own natural largeness
of heart and mind, but to the strong bias given her by her uncle toward
absolute honesty.

While, by reason of her more than ordinary mentality, as well as
because of a very adaptable disposition, Margaret bore her life of
self-sacrifice and isolation with less unhappiness than most girls
could have done, there was one phase of it which was vastly harder upon
her.  Her nature being unusually strong in its affections, it took hard
schooling indeed before she could endure with stoicism the loveless
life she led.  It was upon her relation with her elder sister Harriet,
the only human being who really belonged to her, that she tried to feed
her starved heart, cherishing almost with passion this one living bond;
idealizing her sister and her sister's love for her, looking with an
intensity of longing to the time when she would be free to be with
Harriet, to lavish upon her all her unspent love, to live in the
happiness of Harriet's love for her.

Harriet's lukewarmness, not manifest under her easy, good-natured
bearing, was destined one day to come as a great shock to Margaret.

It was one night about five months before her uncle's sudden death that
he talked with her of his will.  They were together in the library,
waiting for Henry, the negro manservant, to finish his night's chores
about the place before coming to help the master of the house to bed.

"I trust, Margaret," Berkeley, with characteristic abruptness, broke a
silence that had fallen between them, "that you are not counting on
flourishing as an heiress when I have passed out?"

"I must admit," said Margaret apologetically, "that I never thought of
that, stupid as it may seem to you, Uncle Osmond.  Now that you mention
it, it _would_ be pleasant."

"'Pleasant?'  To have me die and leave you rich?"

"I mean only the heiress part would be pleasant--and having English
dukes marrying me, you know, and all that."

"How many English dukes, pray?  I fancy they are a high-priced
commodity, and my fortune isn't colossal."

"I shouldn't want a really colossal fortune."

"Modest of you.  But," he added, "if I did mean to do you the injury of
leaving you all I have, it would be more than enough to spoil what is
quite too rare and precious for spoiling"--he paused, his keen eyes
piercing her as he deliberately added--"a very perfect woman."

"Meaning _me_?" Margaret asked with wide-eyed astonishment.

"So I don't intend to leave you a dollar."

"Suit yourself, honey."

"You are like all the Berkeleys, entirely lacking in money sense.  Now
the lack of money sense is refreshing and charming, but disastrous.  I
shall not leave my money to you for four reasons."  He counted them off
on his long, emaciated fingers.  "First, because you wouldn't be
sufficiently interested in the damned money to take care of it;
secondly, you'd give it away to your sister, or to her husband, or to
your own husband, or to any one that knew how to work you; thirdly,
riches are death to contentment and to usefulness and the creator of
parasitism; fourthly, I wish you to be married for your good, sweet
self, my dear child, and not for my money."

"But if I'm penniless, _I_ may have to marry for money.  From what you
tell me of love, money is the only thing left to marry for.  And if it
has to be a marriage for money, I prefer to be the one who has the
money, if you please, Uncle Osmond."

"Well, you won't get mine.  I tell you you are worth too much to be
turned into one of these parasitical women who are the blot on our
modern civilization.  In no other age of the world has there been such
a race of feminine parasites as at the present.  Let me tell you
something, Margaret: there is just one source of pure and unadulterated
happiness in life, and that I bequeath to you in withholding from you
my fortune.  Congenial work, my girl, is the only sure and permanent
joy.  Love?  Madness and anguish.  Family affection?  Endless anxiety,
heartache, care.  You are talented, child; discover what sort of work
you love best to do, fit yourself to do it preëminently well, and
you'll be happy and contented."

"But my gracious!  Uncle Osmond, what chance have I to fit myself for
an occupation, out here at Berkeley Hill, taking care of you?  These
years of my youth in which I might be preparing for a career I'm
devoting to you, my dear.  So I really think it would only be poetic
justice for you to leave me your money, don't you?"

Her uncle, looking as though her words had startled and surprised him,
did not answer her at once.  Considering her earnestly as she sat
before him, the firelight shining upon her dark hair and clear olive
skin, the peculiar expression of his gaze puzzled Margaret.

"That," he said slowly, "is an aspect of your case I had not
considered."

"Of course you had not; it wouldn't be at all like you to have
considered it, my dear."

"Well," he snapped, "my will is made.  I'm leaving all I have, except
this place, for the founding of a college which shall be after _my_
idea of a college.  Berkeley Hill, however, must, of course, remain in
the family."

"Don't, for pity's sake, burden the family (that's Harriet and me) with
Berkeley Hill, Uncle Osmond, if you don't give us the wherewithal to
keep it up and pay the taxes on it!" protested Margaret.

Again her uncle gazed at her with an enigmatical stare.  "Huh!" he
muttered, "you've got some money sense after all.  More than any
Berkeley _I_ ever met."

"I know this much about money," she said sententiously: "that while
poverty can certainly rob us of all that is worth while in life, wealth
can't buy the two essentials to happiness--love and good health."

"Since when have you taken to making epigrams?"

"Why, that is an epigram, isn't it!  Good enough for a copybook."

"I tell you, girl, if I leave you rich, I rob you of the necessity to
work, and that is robbing you of life's only worth.  The most pitiable
wretches on the face of the earth are idle rich women."

"If it's all the same to you, Uncle Osmond, I'd rather take my chances
for happiness _with_ riches than without them."

"I am to understand, then, that you actually have the boldness to tell
me to my face that you expect me to leave to you all I die possessed
of?"

"Yes, please."

"It's wonderfully like your damned complacency!  Well, as I've told
you, I've already made my will."

"Here's Henry to take you upstairs.  But you can make it over, or add a
codicil.  Which shall I bring you to-night, an eggnog or beer?"

"I'm sick of all your slops.  Let me alone."

"Yes, dear.  Good-night," she answered with the perfunctory, artificial
pleasantness which she always employed, as per contract, in responding
to his surliness; and the absurdity, as well as the audacity, of that
bought-and-paid-for cheerfulness of tone, never failed to entertain the
old misanthrope.

Five months later the will which Osmond Berkeley's lawyer read to the
"mourners" gave Berkeley Hill to Margaret and her sister, Mrs. Walter
Eastman, while all the rest of the considerable estate was left to a
board of five trustees to be used for the founding of a college in
which there should be absolute freedom of thought in every department,
such a college as did not then exist on the face of the earth.

Harriet's husband, being a lawyer, offered at once to secure for
Margaret, through process of law, a reasonable compensation for her
eight years of service.  But Margaret objected.

"You see Uncle Osmond didn't wish me to have any of his money, Walter."

"Don't be sentimental about it, Margaret.  Your uncle had a lot of
sentiment, didn't he, about your sacrificing your life for him?"

"He had his reasons for not giving me his money.  He sincerely thought
it would be better for me not to have it.  He really did have some
heart for me, Walter.  I'm not sentimental, but I couldn't touch a
dollar he didn't wish me to have."

"Then you certainly are sentimental," Walter insisted.

Almost immediately after the funeral Harriet and her family moved out
from Charleston to live at Berkeley Hill with Margaret, retaining the
two old negroes who for so many years had done all the work that was
done on the estate.

"We couldn't rent the place without spending thousands in repairing it,
so we'll have to live on it ourselves."

The sentiment that Margaret and Harriet cherished for this old
homestead which had for so long been occupied by some branch of the
family was so strong as to preclude any idea of selling the place.

It was Margaret's wish, at this time, to go away from Berkeley Hill and
earn her own living, as much for the adventure of it as because she
thought she ought not to be a burden to Walter.  But the Southerner's
principle that a woman may with decency work for her living only when
bereft of all near male kin to earn it for her led Walter to protest
earnestly against her leaving their joint home.

Harriet, too, was at first opposed to it.

"You could be such a help and comfort to me, Margaret, dear, if you'd
stay.  Henry and Chloe are too old and have too much work to do on this
huge place to help me with the children; and out here I can't do as I
did in Charleston--get in some one to stay with the babies whenever I
want to go anywhere.  So you see how tied down I'd be.  But with you
here, I should always feel so comfortable about the children whenever I
had to be away from them."

"But for what it would cost Walter to support me, Harriet, dear, you
could keep a nurse for the children."

"And spend half my time at the Employment Agency.  A servant would
leave as soon as she discovered how lonesome it is out here, a half
mile from the trolley line.  It's well Henry and Chloe are too attached
to the place to leave it."

"So the advantage of having me rather than a child's nurse is that I'd
be a fixture?" Margaret asked, hiding with a smile her inclination to
weep at this only reason Harriet had to urge for her remaining with her.

"Of course you'll be a fixture," Harriet answered affectionately.
"Walter and I are only too glad to give you a home."

So, for nearly a year after her uncle's death, Margaret continued to
live at Berkeley Hill.

Harriet always referred to their home as "My house," "My place," and
never dreamed of consulting her younger sister as to any changes she
saw fit to make in the rooms or about the grounds.

It was during these first weeks of Margaret's life with Harriet that
she suffered the keen grief of finding her own warm affection for her
sister thrown back upon itself in Harriet's want of enthusiasm over
their being together; her always cool response to Margaret's almost
passionate devotion; her abstinence from any least approach to sisterly
intimacy and confidence.  It was not that Harriet disliked Margaret or
meant to be cold to her.  It was only that she was constitutionally
selfish and indifferent.

So, in the course of time, Margaret came to lavish all the thwarted
tenderness of her heart upon her sister's three very engaging children.

But before that first year of her new life had passed over her head she
came to feel certain conditions of it to be so unbearable that, in
spite of Walter's protests (only Walter's this time), she made a
determined effort to get some self-supporting employment.  And it was
then that she became aware of a certain fact of modern life of which
her isolation had left her in ignorance: she discovered that in these
days of highly specialized work there was no employment of any sort to
be obtained by the untrained.  School teachers, librarians, newspaper
women, even shopgirls, seamstresses, cooks, and housemaids must have
their special equipment.  And Margaret had no money with which to
procure this equipment.  There is, perhaps, no more tragic figure in
our strenuous modern life than the penniless woman of gentle breeding,
unqualified for self-support.

The worst phase of Margaret's predicament was that it had become
absolutely impossible for her to continue to live longer under the same
roof with Walter and Harriet.  The simple truth was, Harriet was
jealous of Walter's quite brotherly affection for her--for so Margaret
interpreted his kindly attitude toward her.  Having no least
realization of her own unusual maidenly charm, the fact that her
brother-in-law was actually fighting a _grande passion_ for her would
have seemed to her grotesque, incredible; for Walter, being a Southern
gentleman, controlled his feelings sufficiently to treat her always
with scrupulous consideration and courtesy.  Therefore, she considered
Harriet's jealousy wholly unreasonable.  Why, her sister seemed
actually afraid to trust the two of them alone in the house together!
(Margaret did not dream that Walter was afraid to trust himself alone
in the house with her.)  And if by chance Harriet ever found them in a
tête-à-tête, she would not speak to Margaret for days, and as Walter,
too, was made to take his punishment, Margaret was sure he must wish
her away.  Of course, since she had become a cause for discord and
unhappiness between Harriet and Walter, she must go.  A way must be
found for her to live away from Berkeley Hill.

It was this condition of things which she faced the night she lay on
the couch in her sister's room keeping guard over her sleeping children
while Harriet and Walter were seeing Nazimova in "Hedda Gabler."



VI

Walter Eastman, on his way to town next morning, to his law office,
considered earnestly his young sister-in-law's admonition given him
just after breakfast, that he must that day borrow for her a sufficient
sum of money to enable her to take the course of instruction in a
school for librarians, giving as security a mortgage on her share in
Berkeley Hill.  And the conclusion to which his weighty consideration
of the proposition brought him was that instead of mortgaging their
home, he would bring Daniel Leitzel, Esquire, out to Berkeley Hill to
dinner.

"Margaret's never had a chance.  She's never in her life met any
marriageable men.  It's about time she did.  She hasn't the least idea
what a winner she'd be, given her fling!  And the sooner she's
married," he grimly told himself, "the better for me, by heaven!"

Walter was too disillusioned as to the permanence and reality of love
to feel any scruples about letting Margaret in for matrimony with a man
twenty years her senior and of so little personal charm as was the
prominent Pennsylvania lawyer, Mr. Leitzel, so long as the man was
decent (as Leitzel so manifestly was) and a gentleman.  It would have
taken a keener eye than Walter Eastman's to have perceived, on a short,
casual acquaintance, that the well-mannered, able, and successful
corporation lawyer was not, in Walter's sense, a gentleman.  For Daniel
had, ever since the age of ten, been having many expensive "advantages."

And so it came to pass that that same evening found Mr. Leitzel, after
a dainty and beautifully appointed dinner at Berkeley Hill, alone with
his host's young sister-in-law, in the wonderfully equipped library of
the late eminent Dr. Osmond Berkeley.

His comely hostess, Mrs. Eastman, had excused herself after dinner to
go to her babies, and Eastman himself had just been called to the
telephone.

Daniel, always astutely observant, recognized their scheme to leave him
alone with this marriageable young lady of the family, while Margaret
herself never dreamed of such a thing.

Daniel was always conscious, in the presence of young women, of his
high matrimonial value.  He had always regarded his future wife,
whoever she might be, as a very fortunate individual indeed.  His
sisters, in whom his faith was absolute, had, for twenty-five years,
been instilling this dogma into him.  Also, Daniel was mistaking the
characteristic Southern cordiality of this family for admiration of
himself.  Especially this attractive girl, alone with him here in the
great, warm, bright room, packed with books and hung with engravings
and prints, manifested in her attentive and pleasant manner how
irresistible she found him.  Daniel loved to be made much of.  And by
such a girl as this!  The blood went to his head as he contemplated
her, seated before him in a low chair in front of the big,
old-fashioned fireplace, dressed very simply all in white.  How awfully
attractive she was!  Odd, too, for she wasn't, just to say, a beauty.
Daniel considered himself a connoisseur as to girls, and he was sure
that Miss Berkeley's warm olive skin just escaped being sallow, that
her figure was more boyish than feminine, and her features, except,
perhaps, her beautiful dark eyes, not perfect.  But it was her
arresting individuality, the subtle magnetism that seemed to hang about
her, challenging his curiosity to know more of her, to understand her,
that fascinated him in a manner unique in his experience of womankind.
Subtle, indeed, was the attraction of a woman who could, in just that
way, impress a mind like Daniel's, which, extraordinarily keen in a
practical way, was almost devoid of imagination.  But everything this
evening conduced to the firing of what small romantic faculty he
possessed: the old homestead suggestive of generations of ease and
culture, the gracious, soft-voiced ladies, their marked appreciation of
himself (which was of course his due), the good dinner served on
exquisite china and silver in the spacious dining-room (Daniel, in his
own home, had never committed the extravagance of solid mahogany,
oriental rugs, and family portraits, but he had gone so far as to price
them and therefore understood what an "outlay" must have been made
here).  And then the beautiful drawing-room into which he had been
shown upon his arrival, furnished in antique Hepplewhite, the walls
hung with Spanish and Dutch oils.  And now this distinguished looking
library in which they sat.  Almost all the books Daniel possessed,
besides his law books, were packed into a small oak bookcase in his own
bedroom.  But here were books in many languages; hundreds of old
volumes in calf and cloth that showed long and hard usage, as well as
shelves and shelves of modern works in philosophy, science, history,
poetry, and fiction.  What would it feel like to have been born of a
race that for generations had been educated, rich, and respectable--not
to remember a time when your family had been poor, ignorant, obscure,
and struggling for a bare existence?  In New Munich the "aristocracy"
was made up of people who kept large department or jewellery or drug
stores, or were in the wholesale grocery business; even Congressman
Ocksreider had started life as an office boy and Judge Miller's father
had kept a livery stable.  _This_ home seemed to stand for something so
far removed from New Munich values!  And these two ladies of the
house--he was sure he had never in his life met any ladies so "elegant
and refined" in their speech, manner, movements, and appearance.

Daniel's recognition of all this, however, did not humble or abash him.
He had too long enjoyed the prerogative that goes with wealth not to
feel self-assured in any circumstances, and his attitude toward mankind
in general was patronizing.

It never occurred to him for an instant that a family living like this
could be poor.  Wealth seemed to him so essentially the foundation of
civilization that to be enjoying social distinction, ease, comfort, and
even luxury, with comparative poverty, would have savoured of anarchy.

Margaret, meantime, was regarding "Walter's odd little lawyer-man," who
had been quite carelessly left on her hands, with rather lukewarm
interest, though there were some things about him that did arrest her
curious attention: the small, sharp eyes that bored like gimlets
straight through you, and the thin, tightly closed lips that seemed to
express concentrated, invincible obstinacy.

"No wonder he's a successful lawyer," she reflected.  "No detail could
escape those little eyes, and there'd be no appeal, I fancy, from his
viselike grip of a victim.  He'd have made even a better detective."

The almost sinister power of penetration and strength of will that the
man's sharp features expressed seemed to her grotesquely at variance
with his insignificant physique.

"There never has been a great woman lawyer, has there?" she asked him,
"except Portia?"

"'Portia?'  Portia who?  I had not--you mean, perhaps, some ancient
Greek?" asked Daniel.  "Ah!" he exclaimed, '"The quality of mercy is
not strained!'  Yes.  Just so.  Portia.  "Merchant of Venice," he
added, looking highly pleased with himself.  "I studied drama in my
freshman year at Harvard."

"Did you?"

"Yes.  My sisters had me very thoroughly educated.  Very expensively,
too.  But this 'Portia'--she was of course a fictitious, not a
historic, character, if I remember rightly.  Women haven't really
brains enough, or of the sort, that could cope with such severe study
as that of the law."  He waved the matter aside with a gesture of his
long, thin fingers.

"I'm not sure of _that_," Margaret maintained.

"But the courtroom is no place for a decent woman," said Daniel
dogmatically.

"But she could specialize.  These are the days, I'm told, when to
succeed is to specialize.  She wouldn't need to practise in the
criminal courts."

"I trust," said Daniel stiffly, "you are not a Suffragist.  You don't
look like one."

"How do they look?"

"I never saw one, for we don't have them in New Munich, where I live.
But I'm sure they don't look so womanly as you do."

"I hope that to look womanly isn't to look stupid," said Margaret
solicitously.

"Why should it?--though to be sure a woman does just as well if she
isn't too bright."

"If to be womanly meant all that some men seem to think it means, we'd
have to have idiot asylums for womanly females," declared Margaret.  "I
suppose"--she changed the subject and perfunctorily made
conversation--"a lawyer's work is full of interest and excitement?"

"Well," Mr. Leitzel smiled, "in these days, a lawyer for a corporation
has got to be Johnny-on-the-spot."

"I have always thought that a general practitioner must often find his
work a terrible strain upon his sympathies," said Margaret.

"Oh, no; business is business, you know."

"And necessarily inhuman?"

"Unhuman, rather.  A man must not have 'sympathies' in the practice of
the law."

"He can't help it, can he?--unless he's a soulless monster."

Daniel looked at her narrowly.  What a queer expression for a young
lady to use: "a soulless monster."

"Your brother-in-law, for instance," he inquired with his thin, tight
little smile, "does he, as a general practitioner, find his cases a
great strain on his sympathies?

"Oh, he hasn't enough cases to find them a great strain of any kind."

"So?"  Daniel lifted his pale eyebrows.  It was, then, inherited
wealth, he reflected, that maintained this luxurious home, and if so,
this Miss Berkeley, probably, shared that inheritance.  His heart began
to thump in his narrow chest.  His calculating eye scanned the girl's
figure, from her crown of dark hair to her shapely foot.

Now it is necessary to state just here that Daniel's one vulnerable
spot being his fondness for young pets of any species and especially
for children, together with his deep-seated aversion to the idea of his
money going to the offspring of his brother Hiram (for, of course, he
would never will a dollar of it away from the Leitzel family), this
shrewd little man never appraised a woman's matrimonial value without
considering her physical equipment for successful motherhood.  He had
even read several books on the subject and had paid a big fee to a
specialist to learn how to judge of a woman's health and capacity for
child-bearing.  The distinguished specialist had laughed with his
_amante_ afterward at the way he had "bluffed and soaked the rich
little cad."

"I certainly did make him pay up!" he had chuckled.  "And as he'll
never find just the combination of physical and mental endowments I've
prescribed for him, I've saved some woman from the fate of becoming his
wife!  Money-making is his passion--a woman will never be--and his
interest in it is matched only by his keenness and his caution.  He's a
peculiar case of mental and spiritual littleness combined with an
acumen that's uncanny, that's _genius_!"

It was, in fact, Daniel's failure to discover a maiden who answered
satisfactorily to all the tests with which this specialist had
furnished him, together with his sister's helpful judgment in "sizing
up" for him any possible candidate for his hand, that had thus far kept
him unmarried; that had, he was sure, saved him from a matrimonial
mistake.

As to his view of his own fitness for fatherhood, had he not always led
a clean and wholesome life?  Was he not expensively educated, clever,
industrious, honest within the law, and eminently successful?  What man
could give his children a better heritage?

Yet the day came when the wife of his bosom wondered whether she
committed a crime in bearing offspring that must perpetuate the soul of
Daniel Leitzel.

"This estate," Daniel cautiously put out a feeler to Miss Berkeley,
"belonged to your grandfather?"

"To several of my grandfathers.  It came to us from my uncle."

"A lawyer?"

"Dr. Osmond Berkeley, the psychologist," Margaret said, thinking this
an answer to the question, for she had never in her life met any one
who did not know of her famous uncle.  "My goodness!" she exclaimed as
she saw that Mr. Leitzel looked unenlightened, "you don't know who he
_was_?  He's turning in his grave, I'm sure!"

"I never heard of him," said Daniel sullenly.

Margaret smiled kindly upon him as she said confidentially: "Between
ourselves, I don't myself know just exactly what a psychologist _is_.
I've been trying for nine years to find out--though my uncle earned his
living by it--and a good living, too."

"Didn't he ever explain it to you?"

"Oh, yes.  He told me a psychologist was 'one who studies the science
which treats inductively of the phenomena of human consciousness, and
of the nature and relations of the mind which is the subject of such
phenomena.'"

Daniel looked at her uncertainly.  Was she laughing at him?  "It's just
mental science, you know," he ventured.  "I studied a little mental
science at college.  It was compulsory.  But I studied it so little, I
didn't really know _very_ much about it."

"If you had studied it a lot, say under William James or Josiah Royce,
I'm sure you'd know even less about it than you do now.  My own
experience is that the more one studies it, the less one knows of it."

"Are you a college graduate?" Daniel asked with sharp suspicion; he
didn't care about tying up with an intellectual woman.  The medical
specialist had said they were usually anæmic, passionless, and
childless.

"No," Margaret admitted sadly.  "I never went to school after I was
sixteen."  Daniel breathed again and beamed upon her so approvingly
that she hastened to add: "But I lived here with Uncle Osmond, so I
could not escape a little book-learning.  I'm really not an ignorant
person for my years, Mr. Leitzel."

"I can see that you are not," Daniel graciously allowed.  "Are you fond
of reading?" he added, conversationally, not dreaming how stupid the
question seemed to the young lady he addressed.

"Well, naturally," she said.

"Yes, I suppose so, with such a library as this in the house.  It
belongs to--to you?"

"What?  The books?" she vaguely repeated.  "They go, of course, with
the house.  Do you accomplish much reading outside of your profession,
Mr. Leitzel?"

"No."

"Not even an occasional novel?"

"I never read novels.  I did read 'Ivanhoe' at Harvard in the freshman
English course.  But that's the only one."

Margaret stared for an instant, then recovered herself.  "I see now,"
she said, "why you have done what they call 'made good.'  You have
specialized, excluding from your life every other possible interest
save that one little goal of your ambition."

"'Little goal?'  Not very little, Miss Berkeley!  The law business of
which I am the head earns a yearly income of----"

But he stopped short.  If this girl were destined to the good fortune
of becoming Mrs. Leitzel, she must have no idea of the size of his
income.  Nobody had, not even his sisters.  He often smiled in secret
at his mental picture of the astonishment and delight of Jennie and
Sadie if suddenly told the exact figures; and certainly his wife was
the last person in the world who must know.  It might make her
extravagant.

"The annual earnings of our law-firm," he changed the form of his
sentence, "are sufficient to enable me to invest some money every year,
after paying the twenty-five lawyers and clerks in my employ salaries
ranging from twenty-five hundred dollars a year down to five dollars a
week.  So you see my 'goal' was not little."

"I suppose even your five-dollar-a-week clerks have to be especially
equipped, don't they?" Margaret asked, with what seemed to him stupid
irrelevance, since he was looking for an exclamation of wonder and
admiration at the figures stated.

"Of course, we employ only experienced stenographers," he curtly
replied.

"This specializing of our modern life, narrowing one's interests to
just one point; one can't help wondering what effect it's going to have
upon the race."

"Eugenics," Daniel nodded intelligently.  "You are interested in
eugenics?" he politely inquired.  "It's quite a fad these days, isn't
it, among the ladies, and even among some gentlemen, if one can believe
the newspapers."

"It's not my fad," said Margaret.

"You like children, I hope?" he quickly asked.

"Do I look like a woman who doesn't?" she protested, not, of course,
following his train of thought.  She rose, as she spoke, and went
across the room to turn down a hissing gas-jet.  Daniel's eyes followed
her graceful, leisurely walk down the length of the room, and as she
raised her arm above her head, he took in the delicate curve of her
bosom, her rather broad, boyish shoulders, the clear, rich olive hue of
her skin.  The specialist he had consulted years ago had said that a
clear olive skin meant not only perfect health, but a warm temperament
that loved children.

"Anyway," thought Daniel with a hot impulse the like of which his slow
blood had never known, "she's the woman I want!  I believe I'd want her
if she didn't have a dollar!"

It was upon this reckless conclusion that, when she had returned to her
seat, he suddenly decided to put a question to her that would better be
settled before he allowed his feelings to carry him too far.

"But," thought he as he looked at her, "I've got to put it cautiously
and--and _delicately_."

"Miss Berkeley?"

"Yes, Mr. Leitzel?"

"I've been thinking of buying myself an automobile."

"Have you?"

"A very handsome and expensive one, you know."

"Ah!"

"Yes.  But now I'm hesitating after all."

"Are you?"

"Yes.  Because there's another expense I may have to meet.  I'm going
to ask you a question.  Which, in a general way, do you think would
cost more to keep--an automobile or--or a--well, a wife?"

"Oh, an automobile!" laughed Margaret.

Daniel grinned broadly as he gazed at her; evidently she suspected the
delicate drift of his idea and was advising him for her own advantage.
Nothing slow about her!

"Wives are cheap compared to automobiles," she insisted.

"You really think so?"  He couldn't manage to keep from his voice a
slight note of anxiety.  "Living here with your married sister, you are
in a position to judge."

Margaret began to wonder whether this man were a humourist or an idiot.
But before she could reply, their tête-à-tête, so satisfactory to Mr.
Leitzel, was interrupted.  Mr. and Mrs. Eastman returned to the library.

Now as the formality of chaperoning was not practised in New Munich,
Daniel, with all his "advantages," had never heard of it.  When,
therefore, the Eastmans settled themselves with the evident intention
of remaining in the room, their guest found himself feeling chagrined,
not only because he preferred to be alone with Miss Berkeley, but
because the conclusion was forced upon him that he must have been
mistaken in assuming that they had designedly left him with her after
dinner.

This conclusion was confirmed when Miss Berkeley, quite deliberately
leaving the obligation of entertaining him to her elders, changed her
seat to a little distance from him, and in the conversation that
followed took very little part.  She even seemed, in the course of a
half-hour, rather bored and--Daniel couldn't help seeing it--sleepy.
Could it be, he wondered with a sinking heart, that she was already
engaged to another man?  How else explain this indifference?

But as the evening moved on, and the married pair, in spite of some
subtle hints on his part, still sat glued to their chairs, though he
could see that they, too, were tired and sleepy, he surmised that their
"game" was to _hinder_ Miss Berkeley's marriage!

"They'd like to keep her money in the family for _their_ children, I
guess!" he shrewdly concluded.

The easy indifference to money that was characteristic of the whole
tribe of Berkeleys would have seemed an appalling shortcoming to Daniel
Leitzel had he been capable of conceiving of such a mental state.

With a mind keen to see minute details, interpreting what he saw in the
light of his own narrow, if astute, vision, and incapable of seeing
anything from another's point of view, he came to more false
conclusions than a wholly stupid and less observant man would have made.

When after another half-hour Miss Berkeley, evidently considering him
entirely her brother-in-law's guest, rose, excused herself, said
good-night and left the room, Daniel could only reason that Mr. Eastman
had purposely withheld from her all knowledge as to who his dinner
guest was.

"I'll circumvent _that_ game!" he concluded, opposition, together with
the indifference of the young lady herself, augmenting to a fever heat
his budding passion.  "_I'll_ let her know who and what I am!"

Indeed, by the time he left Berkeley Hill that night, so enamoured was
he with the idea of courting Miss Berkeley, he did not even remember
that in a matter so important he had never in his life gone ahead
without first consulting his sisters' valuable opinion.  That phase of
the situation, however, was to come home to him keenly enough later on.



VII

Margaret was surprised next morning at breakfast when a humorous
reference on her part to "Walter's funny little Yankee" met with no
response.

"But, Walter, he's a freak!  Didn't you find him so, Harriet?"

"Oh, I don't know.  Walter says he's a wonder in his knowledge of the
law."

"He has one of the keenest legal minds I've ever met," declared Walter,
"though of course----"  He looked at Margaret uncertainly.  "Well,
Margaret, after your eight years with a highbrow like your Uncle
Osmond, most other men must seem, by contrast, rather stupid to you.
Even _I_," he smiled whimsically, "must feel abashed before such a
standard as you've acquired.  But really, one can't despise a man who
has reached the place in his profession that Leitzel has attained, even
if he is a bit--eh, peculiar."

It never occurred to Walter to recommend Leitzel by mentioning that he
was a millionaire, the man's prominence in his profession being, in
Eastman's eyes, the measure of his value.

"It's going to be rather rough on your husband, Margaret," Walter
teased her, "to have to play up to the intellectual taste of a wife
that's lived with Osmond Berkeley."

"But, Walter, other things may appeal to me: kindness and affection,
for instance.  My life, you know," she said gravely, "has been pretty
devoid of that."

There was a moment's rather awkward silence at the table, which
Margaret herself quickly broke.  "This Mr. Leitzel--there's something
positively uncanny in the way he seems to see straight through you to
your back hooks and eyes; and I'm quite sure if there was a small
safety pin anywhere about me last night where a hook and eye should
have been, he knew it and disapproved of it.  I'm certain that details
like safety pins interest him; he has that sort of mind, if he is a
great lawyer."

"Not great," Walter corrected her.  "I didn't say great.  He's able and
skillful; but, I must admit, very limited in his scope, his field being
merely the legal technicalities involved in the management of a
corporation.  However, he's a nice enough little fellow.  Didn't you
find him so?"

"I'm afraid I found him rather absurd and tiresome."

"Take care, Margaret!" Harriet playfully warned her, "or else--oh!
won't you have to be explaining away and apologizing for the things you
are saying about that man.  He's _smitten_ with you!"

Margaret's eyes rested upon Harriet for a moment, while her quick
intuition recognized just why her joking remarks about Mr. Leitzel had
met with no response in kind: her sister was actually seeing in this
queer little man a possible means of getting rid of her, and Walter was
abetting her!

She turned at once to the latter, swallowing the lump that had risen in
her throat.  "Have you done anything, Walter, about securing me a loan
on our property?"

"I'm doing my best for you, Margaret."

"Thank you.  Any chance of success?"

"I think so."  He looked at her with a smile that was rather enigmatic,
and she saw that he was really evading her.

"You know, Margaret," spoke in Harriet, "I shouldn't consent for a
moment to have a mortgage put on my property."

"Tut, tut, Harriet," Walter checked his wife.  "Leave it to me.
Perhaps a mortgage won't be necessary."

He rose hastily, made his adieus, and departed for his office.

"Margaret, dear," Harriet began as soon as they were alone, "I assure
you that to an unprejudiced observer, last night, the state of Mr.
Leitzel's mind was only too manifest!  You'd have seen it yourself if
you weren't so inexperienced."

"What are the signs, Harriet?  I confess I'd like to be able to
recognize them myself."

"You sat almost behind him and he nearly cracked his neck trying to
keep you in view.  And when Walter drove him to the trolley line he
talked of you all the way: said he liked your 'colouring' and your
'motherly manner,' and your hair and your voice and your smile and your
walk!  I'm not making it up--he's simply hard hit, Margaret."

"You'd like Mr. Leitzel for a brother-in-law, would you, Harriet?"

"I shouldn't see much of him, living 'way up in Pennsylvania."

Margaret, who had not yet given up craving wistfully her sister's
affection, turned her eyes to her plate and stirred her coffee to hide
the sensitive quiver of her lips.

"We'd see each other very seldom, certainly, if I lived in
Pennsylvania," she found voice to say after a moment.  "I'll go up to
the baby, now, Harriet, and let Chloe come down."

When later that morning a delivery wagon left at Berkeley Hill two
boxes, one containing violets, the other orchids, and a boy on a
bicycle arrived with a five-pound box of Charleston's most famous
confectionery, all from Mr. Leitzel to Miss Berkeley, Margaret was
forced to take account of the situation.

Of course she could not know (fortunately for her admirer) that the
lavishness of his offerings had been carefully calculated to impress
upon her the fact which he suspected her relatives of concealing from
her--the all-persuasive fact that he was rich.

A telephone call inviting her to go automobiling with him that
afternoon was answered by Harriet, who at once accepted the invitation
for her without consulting her.

"I'm perfectly willing, dear, to give up Mattie St. Clair's auction
bridge this afternoon and chaperon you," Harriet graciously told her
after informing her of the engagement she had made for her.  "Chloe
will have to keep the children."

Margaret made no reply.  All these manifestations of Harriet's eager
anxiety to be rid of her stabbed her miserably.  She went away to her
own room, just as soon as her regular domestic routine was
accomplished, and shut herself in to think it all out.

The fact that she had, because of the secluded life she had led,
reached the age of twenty-five without ever having had a lover, must
account for her feelings this morning toward Daniel Leitzel, her sense
of gratitude (under the soreness of her heart at her sister's attitude
to her) that any human being should like her and be kind, to the extent
of such munificence as this which filled her room with fragrance and
beauty.  No wonder that for the time being she lost sight of the little
man's grotesqueness in her keen consciousness of his kindness, and of
the novelty of being admired--by a man.  Yes, her momentary blindness
even saw him as a man.  Not even the cards which came with his
offerings--the one in the candy box marked "Sweets to the Sweet," and
that with the flowers labelled,

  _Thou shalt not lack_
  _The flower that's like thy face_.--SHAKESPEARE.

gave her more than a faint, passing amusement.

"The flower that's like thy face'; he should have sent me a sunflower
or a tiger-lily," she ruefully told herself as she glanced at her dark
head in a mirror.  But she recalled something she had once said to her
Uncle Osmond: "I'd be grateful even to a dog that liked me."

It was Harriet, not Margaret, who was shocked that afternoon at the
revelation of poor Daniel's "greenness" when he found that Mrs. Eastman
expected, as a matter of course, to chaperon her young sister.

Daniel interpreted this unheard-of proceeding as another proof of his
sharp surmise of the previous night--the penurious determination of the
Eastmans to keep Miss Berkeley unmarried.  He resented accordingly the
interference with his own desires and the persecution of the young
lady.  He would show this greedy sister of Miss Berkeley that he was
not the man to be balked by her scheming, and incidentally he would win
the admiration and gratitude of the girl herself by his clever foiling
of the designs of her relatives.

"I'm very good to you and my sister, Mr. Leitzel," Harriet assured him
as she and Margaret shook hands with him in the hall, both of them
wrapped up for riding.  "I am giving up an auction bridge this
afternoon to go with you."

"To go with us?  But--but you misunderstood my invitation, I invited
only Miss Berkeley," explained Daniel frankly.

"Oh, you have another chaperon then?  If only you had told me so when
you 'phoned this morning I needn't have given up my bridge party."

"Told you what, Mrs. Eastman?"

"That you already had a chaperon."

"Had a--_what_?"

"Haven't you a chaperon, Mr. Leitzel?"

"'Chaperon?'  But this isn't a boarding-school, Mrs. Eastman!"

Harriet turned away to hide her face, but Margaret laughed outright as
she asked him: "Don't they have chaperons in Pennsylvania, Mr. Leitzel,
to protect guileless and helpless maidens of twenty-five from any
breach of strict propriety while out alone with dashing youths like
you?"

"If my sister went out alone with you in Charleston, Mr. Leitzel,"
explained Harriet with dignity, "she would be criticised."

"But--but," stammered Daniel indignantly, "I'm a trustworthy man, Mrs.
Eastman!  A _perfectly_ trustworthy gentleman!"

"My dear Mr. Leitzel, I know you are!  It's only a custom among us
that--oh, come on, let us start!  I'm sorry, Mr. Leitzel, but I'm
afraid you'll have to put up with me."

"Yes, do let us start; we don't want to miss a minute of this lovely
day!" said Margaret brightly, moving toward the door and drawing her
sister with her.  "I very seldom get a chance to ride, and I love it.
You are so kind, Mr. Leitzel," she chatted as they went down the steps
to the waiting car, "to give me this pleasure, besides the beautiful
flowers and delicious candy!"  And thus Daniel, though inwardly fuming,
and wondering at Miss Berkeley's amiable submission to such
unwarrantable meddling in her personal affairs, was forced to accept
with what grace he could command the doubt cast upon his
"trustworthiness."

As he assisted the two ladies into the automobile, Harriet of her own
accord took the front seat with the chauffeur; and Daniel, as he
realized how entirely isolated with Miss Berkeley this arrangement left
him, felt himself thoroughly puzzled by the whole incomprehensible
proceeding.

As on the previous evening Miss Berkeley's Southern cordiality of
manner was interpreted by Daniel during this drive to be a gushing
warmth of feeling for himself, which fanned the flame of his egotism no
less than that of his passion.

While the car moved swiftly through the picturesque roads outside of
Charleston he discoursed volubly; for Daniel's idea of an enjoyable
conversation was a prolonged, uninterrupted exposition, on his part, to
a silently absorbed listener, of his personal interests, achievements,
excellencies of character, and general worthiness.  He knew no greater
joy in life than this sort of expansion before an admiring or envious
companion.  He fairly revelled this afternoon in the steady, monotonous
stream of self-eulogy which flowed from his lips.  It was meant to
impress profoundly the maiden at his side, and it did.

"People call me lucky, Miss Berkeley, but it isn't luck; it's deep
thinking.  Nobody could be lucky that didn't use his judgment and keep
a sharp lookout for the main chance.  To have the wit to see and seize
the main chance," he reiterated with an accent that made Margaret see
the words in large capitals, "that's the secret of success.  Don't you
think so?"

"Yes, indeed--the point of importance being not to confuse one's
values--material success and spiritual defeat not always being
recognized, Mr. Leitzel, as twin sisters.  We don't want to miss the
main chance to grow in grace and--dear me!" she pulled herself up.  "It
sounds like Marcus Aurelius, doesn't it?  Did you make _his_
acquaintance at Harvard?"

"Who?"

"The Roman Emerson."

"Oh, but Emerson was a New Englander, not a Roman," he kindly set her
right; "known as the Sage of Concord, Massachusetts," he informed her,
looking pleased with himself.

Harriet in the front seat could not resist turning her head to meet for
an instant Margaret's eye.

"I had to read a 'Life of Emerson' in my Sophomore year at Harvard,"
continued Daniel.  "Do you know that his writings never yielded him
more than nine hundred dollars a year!  Well educated as he was, he
never made good.  A dead failure.  Missed the main chance, you see.
Now I have always turned every circumstance and opportunity, no matter
how trifling, to my own advantage.  Why, from the time I first began to
practise law, I refused to take any case that I didn't see I was surely
going to win; so, in no time at all, I got a reputation for winning
every case I took.  See?  I didn't _take_ a case I didn't feel sure of
winning.  Good scheme, wasn't it?  Well, that far-sighted policy reaped
for me, very early in my career, a big harvest; for when I was just
beginning to be known as the lawyer who never lost a case, there was,
one night, a shocking crime committed in New Munich: a young girl,
daughter of a carpenter, was supposed to have been foully and brutally
murdered by her lover, the son of a petty grocer on one of our side
streets.  (My own residence is on Main Street, our principal resident
street, a very fashionable street; house cost me twenty-five
thousand!--one of the finest residences in the town--so considered by
all.)  Well, the evidence against the lover was overwhelming (I
couldn't give you the details, Miss Berkeley, it would not be proper,
you being a young, unmarried lady), and early on the morning after the
murder the grocer came to see me on behalf of his son, begging me to
take the case.  He gave me all the facts and I saw very soon that the
young man had _not_ committed the crime.  But I saw, also, that it
would be very difficult to prove his innocence to a jury, and I knew
the sentiment in the town to be furiously against the young man,
especially among the women, so that I'd be apt to make myself very
unpopular if I took his case; and that even if I cleared him there
would be many who would continue to think him guilty and to think that
I had simply cheated the law by my cleverness; cheated _moral_ justice,
too, and left a foully murdered female go unavenged, all for the sake
of a fee.  So I, of course, refused to take the case, though the
grocer, believing me to be the one lawyer who could clear his son (such
was my growing reputation), offered me a very large fee; he was ready
to mortgage his store and house if only I'd take the case and save his
son.  The fee he offered certainly did make me hesitate; but you see, I
was never one to let present profit blind me to future advantage.  Most
young men, less far-seeing and sharp, would have thought this a great
opportunity to make a hit by clearing a falsely accused and perfectly
innocent boy.  But I saw much deeper into the situation, and so refused
the case."

"Oh!" Margaret cried.  "_There_ you surely missed the 'main chance,'
unless you afterward saw your mistake in time to change your mind."

"No, indeed, I didn't change my mind!  And to show you how right I was
in refusing the case, hear, now, of the immediate reward I reaped for
my careful thoughtfulness.  Hardly had the father left my office when a
delegation of women of the U. B. Missionary Society (I am a member and
liberal supporter of the U. B. Church of New Munich, my brother Hiram
being an ordained U. B. minister) called at my office to _protest_
against my taking the case for the young man's defence, the delegation
including two very wealthy and prominent ladies.  A false report had
gone forth that I had taken the case.  The ladies pointed out to me
that I would be untrue to my Christian professions and unchivalrous to
womanhood if for gold I stood up in court and defended the brutal
murderer of an outraged, innocent female.  'Ladies,' I said to them,
'the case was offered to me, true; with a fee which some lawyers would
have considered sufficient to justify their accepting even such a case
as this.  But, ladies, I refused to touch the case!' and, Miss
Berkeley," said Daniel feelingly, a little quiver in his voice, "I wish
you could have seen the look of admiration on the faces of those
ladies, especially on Miss Mamie Welchan's, one of the two unmarried
members of the Missionary Society, daughter of Dr. Welchans, our
leading physician.  Well, I certainly had my reward!  And that night
the New Munich _Evening Intelligencer_ came out with a long article
commending my fearless and self-sacrificing devotion to duty; and the
Missionary Society passed resolutions of gratitude to me in the name of
Womanhood, as did also the Y.W.C.A., the Epworth League, the Girls'
Friendly of the Episcopal Church (our most fashionable ladies are
members of that Girls' Friendly), also several of the Christian
Endeavour Societies of our town.  You may imagine how glad I was I had
refused the case.  Just suppose I had accepted it!" he said in
reminiscent horror of such a false step.  "For, of course, I had not
foreseen such an ovation as this.  While I had seen the bad effects of
accepting, I had not seen the good results of refusing it.  Why, from
that very hour, Miss Berkeley, my success was assured!  You see, people
believed, then, that I was conscientious, and they trusted me with
their business, and my practice grew so fast that--well, it was only a
few years before I rose to be the leading lawyer of New Munich, and a
few more when I secured the cinch I've got now."

"Was the young man hanged?" asked Margaret in a low voice, not looking
at him.

"Oh, _he_," returned Daniel, surprised and chagrined at her ignoring
the real point of his story, which certainly had nothing to do with the
fate of the young man; "they failed to convict him, though every one
believed him guilty.  He had to leave New Munich."

"_Couldn't_ you have proved his innocence?"

"But, Miss Berkeley, don't you see I'd have ruined myself if I had
tried, and I _made_ myself by refusing that case; I have always
considered that episode the turning-point of my career, the pivot on
which my success turned uppermost; my brother Hiram, who is a
theologian, considered it Providential."

"'Providential' that a young girl should be brutally murdered and a
young man falsely accused so that you might--'succeed?'"

"I should say, rather, that by the ruling of Providence the chance was
given me to refuse the case and thereby win the enthusiastic approval
and endorsement of the best class of our community."

Margaret was silent.

"She isn't as bright as I had supposed she was," thought Daniel,
disappointed at her want of admiration of his yarn.  "I wonder if she'd
bear me stupid children!  If I thought so, I certainly wouldn't marry
her."

"Early in my career," he, however, resumed his monologue, "I took a
stand for temperance.  I'm a total abstainer, Miss Berkeley, and I have
found that on the whole it has been to my advantage, for besides being
more economical, it has seemed more consistent with my Christian
professions.  To be sure, when the liquor men of our precinct
practically offered to send me to Congress if I would uphold their
interests, I did regret that I had taken such a decided stand for
temperance that I couldn't becomingly diverge from it.  I would have
liked well enough to go to Congress.  Jennie and Sadie would have
liked, too, to have me a Congressman, and my brother Hiram thought if I
were in Congress I could maybe work him in as chaplain of the Senate.
He doesn't get a very big salary from his church at Millerstown, Pa.,
though he manages to live on it without touching his capital.  But no!
I told the liquor men I would not go back on the principles for which I
had stood for so many years.  You might think I was foolishly standing
in my own light, Miss Berkeley, but I ask you, how would it have looked
for a church member, a consistent, practical Christian, an upholder of
and contributor to the Woman's Temperance Union, to turn around and
stand for the liquor interests?  How would it have _looked_?  Why,"
exclaimed Daniel, "it would have looked pretty inconsistent, and I
wouldn't risk it.  Anyway, see what I _saved_ in the past twenty years
by not standing for treats?  'Come and have a drink on me,' says a
grateful client, when I've won his case for him, and I always say, 'I
don't drink'; but if I did drink, to be sure I'd have to take my turn
at the treats, too, don't you see, and that kind of thing does go into
money.  I've saved a good income by standing for temperance, besides
earning the approval of an excellent element in the community.  But it
isn't always easy to say, 'I don't drink.'  Some men take offence at
it, and some laugh at you.  I'll never forget how embarrassed I was the
first time Congressman Ocksreider's daughter invited me to a
fashionable dinner at her home and they served wine.  I didn't know how
they'd take it if I declined to drink, and I wanted to stand in with
them.  I was, at that time, very much complimented at their inviting
me; they were the most prominent people in New Munich.  And yet,
sitting opposite me at the table, was a prominent member of the U. B.
Church, who would certainly have a laugh on me if I took wine.  _He_
wasn't temperance.  Now wasn't that a fix for me?  My, but I was
embarrassed!  Well, Mrs. Congressman Ocksreider, a lady of very kind
feelings, came to my help; the minute she saw how mixed-up I was, she
told the waiter to pour grape juice into my glass.  It's sickening
stuff, but I was willing to drink it rather than forswear my principles
right before my fellow church member.  Yes, it takes moral courage,
Miss Berkeley, to stand by your principles as I have always stood by
mine.  And now I see my further reward in sight, for look how things
are swinging my way: temperance, Governors, Congressmen, Presidents!  I
may yet get to Congress on the local option issue.  It looks that way."

He paused to get his breath.  Margaret made no comment on his long
harangue, and Harriet did not turn her head.  For a while they rode in
silence.  But at last Margaret, feeling it incumbent upon her to talk
to her entertainer, roused herself from her rather unpleasant reverie.

"You spoke of two women, Mr. Leitzel--'Jennie and Sadie'--are they
relatives of yours?"

"My sisters who raised and educated me, who made me what I am!" he
replied in a tone of admiration for this remarkable feat his sisters
had wrought.  "All I am I owe to them!"

"They are to be congratulated."

"Thank you, Miss Berkeley."  Daniel bowed.

"You're welcome, Mr. Leitzel.  Shall we go home now?  I feel ill."

"Motor riding makes you ill?" inquired Daniel solicitously.

"Under some circumstances.  To-day it does."

Daniel at once gave the order to the chauffeur to return to Berkeley
Hill.

Harriet, on the front seat, wondered, as she stared thoughtfully at the
long, straight road ahead of her, whether "the game was up."

"I'm afraid he's more of a dose than Margaret can swallow!" she thought
anxiously.

When they reached home, however, she invited Mr. Leitzel to stop and
dine with them.  Margaret looked at her reproachfully as he eagerly
accepted the invitation.  It was two long hours before dinner time.

"You will have to excuse me.  I shall have to go upstairs and lie
down," Margaret hastily said as they entered the house; and before any
one could reply, she flew upstairs and shut herself in her own room.

Harriet, to her consternation, found herself with Mr. Leitzel on _her_
hands--and Walter not due at home for an hour and a half!

"I'll have the children brought down," she quickly decided.  "That will
help me out."

Little did she dream that by this simple manoeuvre of introducing the
children into the comedy she was turning the tide of her sister's life
and settling her fate.



VIII

Three weeks later, when Margaret came to review the course of events
which had strangely led to the almost unbelievable fact of her
betrothal to Daniel Leitzel, she realized that the "turn for the
worse," as she called it, had come to her upon watching Mr. Leitzel
with Harriet's children on that evening after the automobile ride which
had made her spiritually ill.  Squatting on the floor with the three
babies gathered about him, he had actually become human and tender and
self-forgetful; and he had exhibited a cleverness in entertaining and
fascinating the bright, eager children that had evoked her admiration
and almost her liking.

She had not come downstairs until just a half-hour before dinner, and
as she had entered the library, dressed in a low-necked, short-sleeved
summer gown of pale pink batiste, she had noted, without much interest,
Mr. Leitzel's countenance of vivid pleasure as, from his place on the
floor, unable to rise because of the children sprawling all over him,
he had gazed up at her.  But when, after watching him play for a
half-hour with the babies, she had presently relieved him of the
youngest to give it its bottle, she really began to feel, before the
ardent look he fixed upon her as she sat holding the hungry, drowsy
infant to her heart, a faint stirring of her blood.

"The Madonna and the Child!" he had said adoringly, and Margaret was
astonished to find herself blushing; to discover that _this_ man could
bring the faintest warmth to her cheeks!

In the course of that evening, during dinner and later when the
children had been taken to bed by Harriet, and Mr. Leitzel was again,
as on the previous night, left on her hands, she could not be
indifferent to the novel experience of finding herself the object of a
fixity and intensity of admiration which, from a man so self-centred,
suggested the possession on her part of an unsuspected power.

Even his occasional conversational _faux pas_ did not break the
peculiar spell he cast upon her by his devotion.

"Have you read many of these books?" he asked her, glancing at the
shelves near him.  "Here are about twenty books all by one man--James.
Astonishing!  What does he find to write about to such an extent?"

"They are the works of the two Jameses, the brothers Henry and William,
the novelist and the psychologist, you know; only, Uncle Osmond
insisted upon cataloguing Henry, also, with the psychologists."

"The James brothers?  I've heard more about Jesse than about the other
two.  Jesse was an outlaw, you remember.  The other two, then, were
respectable?"

"'Respectable?'  Henry and William James?  I'm sure they would hate to
be considered so!"

Daniel nodded knowingly.  "Bad blood all through, no doubt."

"Yes," said Margaret gravely, "of the three I prefer Jesse.  He at
least was not a psychologist, nor did he write in English past finding
out!  By the way, I remember Uncle Osmond used to say," she added, a
reminiscent dreaminess in her eyes which held Daniel's breathless gaze,
"that only in a very primitive or provincial society was a regard for
respectability paramount, and that in an individual of an upper class
it bespoke either assinine stupidity or damned hypocrisy."

Daniel started and stared until his eyes popped, to hear that soft,
drawling voice say "damned," even though quoting.  Why, one would think
a nice girl would be embarrassed to own a relative who used profane
language, instead of _flaunting_ it!

"Wasn't your uncle a Christian?" he asked dubiously.

"Oh, no!" she laughed.

Now what was there to laugh at in so serious a question?  Daniel was
finding Miss Berkeley's conversation extremely upsetting.

"He died unsaved?" he asked gravely.

"I suppose a mediæval theologian would have said he did."

"I trust he didn't influence _you_, Miss Berkeley!"

"But of course, I got lots of ideas from him, for which I'm very
thankful.  If it had not been for his interesting mind, I could never
have lived so long with his devilish disposition, or, as he used to
call it, his 'hell of a temper.'"  ("If he's going to fall in love with
me," Margaret was saying to herself, as she saw his shocked
countenance, "he's got to know the worst--I won't deceive him.")

"I'm addicted to only two vices, Mr. Leitzel: profanity and beer."

Daniel smiled faintly, she looked so childishly innocent.  "You are
different from any girl I ever met.  As a conversationalist especially.
New Munich girls never talk the way you do."

"You mean they are not profane?"

"You're only joking, aren't you?" asked Daniel anxiously.  "I didn't
refer merely to your using oaths, but the ideas you occasionally
express; that, for instance, about 'respectability,' I'm sure I never
heard our New Munich young ladies say things like that.  However," he
added, his face softening and beaming, "nothing you could do or say
could ever counteract for me the impression you made upon me as you sat
there to-night holding that baby!"

"You are very fond of children, aren't you, Mr. Leitzel?" she asked
graciously.

"Well, I should say!  I'd like to have a large family, even if it is
expensive!"

"So should I," said Margaret frankly; and Daniel had a moment's doubt
as to the maidenly modesty of this reply, much as he approved of the
sentiment.

After that evening, during the next three weeks, the course of Daniel's
love ran swiftly, if not always smoothly; for his usually unreceptive
soul was so deeply penetrated by the personality of this maiden whom he
desired that he actually felt, intuitively, her aversion to certain
phases of his mind the worthiness of which he had never before had a
doubt, and he therefore curbed, somewhat, the expression of his real
self, adapting his discourse, though vaguely, to the evident tastes of
the woman whose favour he sought.  Also, his genuine interest in her
made him less obnoxiously egotistical.  Indeed, all his most offensive
traits were, at this time, and unfortunately for poor Margaret's fate,
kept so much in abeyance, and so strongly did she, quite unconsciously,
bring out the little best that was in him, that her earlier impression
of him was speedily coloured over by the more gracious effect he
produced as a self-effacing and worshipful lover--a lover to one who,
for many years, had not been treated with even common consideration.

Had Daniel had the least idea how little Margaret was touched by the
_material_ value of the gifts he daily laid at her feet, he would
certainly have saved himself some of the heavy expenditure he
considered necessary for the accomplishment of his courting.  If he had
known that it was only the attention, the thoughtfulness, the devotion
showered upon her constantly that meant so much to her whose life had
hitherto been one long siege of self-sacrifice, he would surely have
limited the quality, if not the quantity, of his offerings.

As Margaret came to realize that she was drifting surely, fatally, into
the arms of Daniel Leitzel, her conscience forced her to try to justify
her selling herself for a home.

"To marry without love?  But I might have married 'Reverend Hoops' for
love!  And he was so much worse--less possible," she amended her
reflections, "than Daniel is.  It was really _love_ that I felt for
that poor, bow-legged Hoops!  Yes, the sort of love that would make
marriage a madness of ecstasy!  Too great, indeed, for a human soul to
bear!  And even if one did not presently discover one's mate to be a
delusion with an Adam's apple, who said 'Yes, sir,' to a negro, even if
he continued to seem to you a worthy object of love, such an
intoxication of happiness as I felt over my imaginary Hoops could not
possibly continue, one's strength couldn't sustain it--one would end
with nervous prostration!

"Hattie and Walter, when they married, were romantically in love, and
now, what could be more prosaic than their jog-trot relation?  So much
for love."  She missed that phase of the question.

But there was another aspect of a loveless marriage that had to be
reckoned with.

"How would I be better than a woman of the streets?  Yes I would be
better, for I would bear children.  But children born outside of love?
Well, Reverend Hoops might have been the father of my children even
after I, recovered from 'loving' him, and every one of my children
might have had an Adam's apple.  Better, it seems to me, to marry with
eyes open and not blinded by love.'  Then, at least, one would not have
to suffer a dreadful flop afterward.  The higher one's ideal in
marriage, the more certainly does one seem doomed to bitter
disillusionment.  Probably the jog-trot, commonplace relation between a
man and woman, recognized and accepted as such, is the only one likely
to endure.  Insist upon romance, and the end, I verily believe, is
divorce.  Daniel couldn't make me unhappy any more than he could make
me happy--there's that comfort at least.

"As for a great passion of the soul, the man capable of it is certainly
a _rara avis_ and isn't likely to come _my_ way.  If I thought," said
Margaret to herself, her heart beating thickly at the vision she called
up from the depths in her, "that life held anywhere for me such a great
spiritual passion, given and returned----"  Her face turned white, she
closed her eyes for an instant upon the too dazzling light of the
vision.  "But then," she resumed her self-justification, "if the
highest ideal of marriage is unrealizable, should one compromise with a
lower ideal, or avoid marriage altogether?  I remember Uncle Osmond
once said it was a psychological fact that a woman was happier even in
a loveless marriage than in a single life.  And, dear me, the race
can't stop because poets have dreamed of a paradise which earth does
not know!"

It seemed to be another trick of the irony of fate that while
everything in Margaret's environment and in her education conduced to
make her walk blindly into such a marriage as this with Daniel Leitzel,
nothing in her whole life had in the least fitted her for meeting and
coping with that which was before her as the wife of such a man as
Daniel really was.

She was glad that the form which her lover's proposal of marriage
assumed obviated any necessity on her part for salving over her own
lack of sentiment.

"Of course, you have surmised ere this, Miss Berkeley--Margaret--that I
intended to make you an offer of marriage, to ask you to become--_my
beloved wife_!" he said impressively, and Margaret checked her
inclination to beg him not to make it sound too much like a tombstone
inscription.  "My proposal may seem to you precipitate; I am aware it
is unusual to propose on so short a courtship; you perhaps think I
ought to keep on paying attentions to you for at least several months
longer.  But I can spare so little time away from my business.  And to
court you by correspondence--well, I am certainly too much of a
gentleman to send typewritten letters, dictated to my stenographer, to
a lady, especially one so refined as you are and one whom I want to
make my wife.  And to write out letters myself, that's something I have
neither time nor inclination for.  And something I'm not used to
either.  So, I thought that while I'm down here on the spot, I might as
well stay and conclude the matter.  That is why I have been so pressing
in my attentions to you--not to lose time, you see, which is money to
me and should be to every man.  So with as much haste as was consistent
with propriety and tact, Miss Berkeley, I've been leading up to this
present hour in which I offer you my hand and heart and," he added, his
tone becoming sentimental, "my life's devotion."

It sounded for the most part like a lawyer's brief, Margaret thought,
as, sitting white and quiet, she listened to him.

"You have given me every reason to think, Miss Berkeley, by your
reception of my assiduous attentions, that my suit was agreeable to you
and that you would accept me when I asked you to, in spite of the
evident opposition of your sister and her husband."

"But they are not opposed to you.  Why, what could have made you think
so?  They have been very kind to you, Mr. Leitzel."

"To me personally, yes; kind and hospitable.  But as your suitor?  No.
Have they not persistently put themselves in the way of my seeing you
alone, and thus tried to interfere with my taking from them you and
your--taking you from them?" he hastily concluded.

Daniel had been, all through this courtship, strangely, and to himself
incomprehensibly, shy about making any inquiries as to Margaret's
dowry, though he fairly suffered in the repression of his desire to
know what she was "worth."  He wondered what it really was that made
him tongue-tied whenever he thought of "sounding" her?  Perhaps it was
that she, on her side, was so persistently reticent not only as to her
own property but with regard to _his_ possessions.  Never had she even
hinted any curiosity as to his income, though he had several times led
up to the subject in order to give her the necessary opportunity.  The
matter would, of course, have to be talked out between them _some_
time.  Daniel was all prepared with his own story; he knew just exactly
what statements he was going to "hand out" to his future wife and what
he was _not_ going to tell.  But the strange thing was she didn't seem
to feel the least interest in the matter.

When Margaret tried just now to assure him that her relatives' supposed
interference with his attentions to her was wholly imaginary, she
received her first glimpse of the notorious obstinacy of the little
lawyer, and she recognized, with some consternation, that when once an
idea had found lodgment in his brain, it was there to stay; no
reasoning or proof could dislodge it.

"Since your relatives are opposed to your marrying," he reiterated his
conviction at the end of her proofs to the contrary, "I think it would
be well if we got married before I returned to New Munich.  This would
not only save me the expense of another trip South, but would avert any
further plotting on the part of your family.  I'm afraid to leave the
spot," he affirmed, "without taking you with me.  Anyway, I _can't_."
His face flushed and he fairly caught his breath as he gazed at her.
"I'm thinking of you day and night, every hour, every minute!  If I
went back without you I couldn't work.  I'm just crazy about you!"

It was this outburst of feeling that just saved the day for Daniel, his
cold-blooded dissection of his penurious motives in his swift
lovemaking having almost turned the tide against him.

"If we marry at all," said Margaret in a matter-of-fact tone, "I agree
with you that it might as well be at once."

"'If at all?'  Ah!" said Daniel almost coquettishly, "that's to remind
me that you haven't accepted me yet?  I'm going ahead too fast, am I?
My feelings ran away with me, Margaret, for the moment because it's
simply unthinkable to me that you should refuse me--I mean, I could not
think of life without you now that I know and love you."

"Very well, I'll marry you, Mr. Leitzel.  I might as well.  But if it
is to be done, we shall have to have a quiet wedding, you know."

Calmly as she spoke, the colour dyed her cheeks as she realized the
fatal finality of the words she uttered.  Deep down in her soul, not
clearly recognized by herself, was a vague sense of guilt in the thing
she was doing, all her logic to the contrary notwithstanding.  For
every normal woman feels instinctively that the human relation which
may make her a mother, if it is not a sacred and ennobling relation,
must be a degrading one, and no experiences of life, however
embittering, can ever wholly obliterate this profound intuition.
Cynical as were Margaret's theories of love and marriage, she could
never have given herself to Daniel Leitzel had she not felt goaded to
it by her unfitness to earn her living, and by her sister's desire to
have her away.  And even these two driving circumstances could not
wholly exonerate her to herself from the charge before her conscience
of unworthy weakness in taking an easy way out instead of grappling
with her difficulty and conquering it, as great souls, she very well
knew, have ever done.



IX

It was the day after Daniel's "proposal" that, as Margaret stood before
her bureau in her bedroom dressing to receive her lover, Harriet, who
had been quite unable to disguise her satisfaction over the betrothal,
knocked at her door and came into her room.

"Can't I help you dress, dear?" she asked kindly.

"Will you hook this thing up the back, please, Hattie?"

"Oh, but you are rash to wear this new chiffon waist, Margaret; chiffon
mashes so easily, you know."

"But I'm not going out; I shall not be putting a wrap over it," said
Margaret, looking at Harriet in surprise.

"I know you're not going out, but, Margaret, chiffon mashes so
_easily_!"

"Well, I'll try to remember not to hold any of the children, though I'd
rather mash the waist than forego that pleasure.  Still, clothes are
scarce and I've got no money for a trousseau----"

"Donkey!  This will be your first tête-à-tête with Mr. Leitzel since
your engagement, and he's quite crazy about you--and chiffon is most
perishable."

Margaret looked at her blankly.

"Do you see _no_ connection between the two facts, you goose?" demanded
Harriet.

"Oh!" exclaimed Margaret.  "Now I see what you mean!"

"Really?"

"But, Hattie, dear, you needn't be so--so explicit."

"'Explicit!'  I nearly had to draw a diagram!  Look here, Margaret,
you're too thin; there's no excuse for anybody's looking as thin as you
do when cotton wadding is so cheap."

"Recommend it to Mr. Leitzel; he's thinner than I am."

"I came in to tell you that Walter has ordered the wedding
announcements and they will be finished in ten days; you and I and Mr.
Leitzel can meantime be addressing the envelopes.  I've drawn up a list
of names; you can look over it and see whether I've forgotten any one.
You must get Mr. Leitzel's list to-day."

"Very well."

Margaret turned away to her closet to hide the quick tears that sprang
to her eyes at her sister's quite cold-blooded eagerness to speed her
on her way.  Harriet seemed to be almost feverishly fearful that
something might intervene to stop the marriage if it were not quickly
precipitated.

It was when her betrothed gave her, that evening, a diamond ring, that
Margaret's strongest revulsion came to her, so strong that when she had
conquered it, by reminding herself again of all the arguments by which
she had brought herself to this pass, she had overcome for good and all
any last remaining hesitation to accept her doom.

"You may think I was very extravagant, Margaret," Daniel said, as he
held her hand and slipped the beautiful jewel upon her finger.  "It
cost me three hundred dollars.  But you see, dear, a diamond is always
property; capital safely invested.  I'm only too glad and thankful that
I can afford to give my affianced bride a costly diamond engagement
ring.  Is it tight enough?" he anxiously inquired.  "I'm afraid it is a
little loose; you better have it made tighter; no extra charge for
that, they told me at the jeweller's.  You might lose it if it's loose."

Margaret had a momentary impulse to tear the ring from her finger and
fling it in his face, and such impulses were so foreign to her gentle
disposition that she marvelled at herself.

"I'm glad it's property, Daniel," she returned with a perfunctory
facetiousness, "for if you don't use me well, I can sell out to Isaac
or Israel and run off!  Or, if business got dull with you, we could
fall back on our diamond ring!"

"_My_ business get dull!" he laughed.  It was rather delightful to know
she was marrying him with so little idea of his great possessions;
another proof of the fascination he had always had for ladies,
according to Jennie and Sadie.

He was beginning to feel a little nervous at the thought of his
sisters.  Jennie, especially, would not like it that he was going ahead
and getting married without consulting her.  Of course, she and Sadie
would both see, as soon as they came to know Margaret, that he had,
even without their help, "struck a bonanza" in getting such a wife; so
sweet-tempered and unselfish, so lovely looking, so healthy, such "a
perfect lady," so "refined," except when she said "damn" and
"devilish."  He must warn her not to forget herself before his
sisters--they'd never get over the shock.  He had no doubt that
eventually Jennie and Sadie would be as delighted with his "choice" as
he was himself.  He had told them so in his letter to them that day,
assuring them that they would find his bride possessed of every quality
they had always insisted upon in the girl he made his wife.

It did seem strange not to be able to tell them what Margaret's fortune
was.  He knew how eager they must be to know.  He was beginning to feel
very restive himself at not being enlightened on that score.

"Funny how I can't bring myself to ask her about it!" he wondered at
himself for the hundredth time.  "But she seems so disinterested in her
love for me, how can I seem less so in mine for her?  It would not look
well!"

"Harriet wants you to draw up your list," Margaret here reminded him,
"for the wedding announcements; she'd like to have it to-day."

"_Harriet_ wants----  Is she running this wedding?" he asked
suspiciously.

"Yes, quite so.  You and she and I have got to address envelopes all
day to-morrow, you know."

"Very well.  I have already made out my list.  It took a good deal of
careful and thoughtful discrimination," he said, drawing a document
from his pocket and unfolding it, "though not nearly so much as it
would if I were being married in New Munich and having a large wedding.
Mere announcements--one doesn't have to draw the line so carefully, you
know, as in the case of invitations to one's house."

"'Draw the line?'" repeated Margaret questioningly; for social caste in
South Carolina, being less fluid than in Pennsylvania, her family for
generations had scarcely even rubbed against people of any other status
than its own; and the gradations and shades of social difference with
which Daniel had wrestled in making his list was something quite
outside her experiences.

"Well, you see, every one we send announcements to," Daniel elucidated
his meaning, "is bound to call on you; only too glad of the chance.
And, naturally, you don't want undesirable people calling on you.  If
you didn't return their calls, you would make enemies of them; and
while I am so fortunately situated that that would not make any
material difference to us, still it is better to avoid making enemies
if possible."

"But--I don't understand.  How do you happen to have acquaintances that
are 'undesirable,' and in what sense undesirable--so much so as to make
it awkward to have to return their calls?"

"Well, for instance, the clerks employed in my office.  I think they
may perhaps club together and give us a handsome wedding-present if we
send them cards.  And if they do, I suppose their wives will feel
privileged to call."

"And their wives are 'undesirable?'  Yes, I suppose I see what you
mean.  How awfully narrow our lives are, aren't they?  I imagine it
might be a very broadening and interesting experience to really make
friends with other classes than our own.  I've never had the shadow of
a chance to."

Daniel's glow of pride in realizing that he was marrying a woman whose
aristocratic ignorance of other classes than her own was so absolute as
to make her suppose naïvely that it might be "broadening and
interesting" to know such, quite counteracted the disturbing effect of
this absurd suggestion.  He had only to remember his sisters' long
struggle for recognition and their present precarious foothold in New
Munich "society" to appreciate to the full the (to him) wonderful fact
that his wife and all her "kin," as they called their relatives, "could
have it to say" they had always been "at the top."

That such a wife might find his sisters "undesirable" did not occur to
him, his sense of his sisters' crudities being dulled by familiarity
with them, and his standard of value being so largely a financial one.

"When folks call on you in New Munich, Margaret," said Daniel, "Jennie
and Sadie will be a great help to you in telling you whom of your
callers you must cultivate and whom you must not."

"But aside from your employees and their wives there would be only your
family's friends, of course?" Margaret asked, again puzzled.

"Well, some people prominent in our church, but not in society, and a
few others, may bother us some.  You need not worry about it; Jennie
and Sadie will separate the sheep from the goats for you," he smiled.

"You have told me so little of your people.  Your sisters live in New
Munich?"

"I ought to have mentioned before this, dear, that my sisters keep
house for me.  They will continue to live with me."

"Oh!"  Margaret's heart bounded with a great relief at this
information, though even to her own secret consciousness it seemed
disloyal to rejoice that she was not going to be thrown alone upon the
society of Daniel Leitzel; the prospect had already begun to seem
rather appalling.

"No use in our setting up a separate establishment," continued Daniel;
"it's so much cheaper for us all to live together, my sisters being
such excellent managers."

Margaret, not gathering from this that his sisters shared with him the
expense of the "establishment," but concluding, rather, that they were
dependent upon him, hastened to assure him that she would not wish him,
on her account, to assume the support of two households.

"To tell you the truth, Margaret, I shouldn't know how to get on
without Jennie and Sadie, they understand me and all my little habits
so well, and they do take such care of my comforts, which is a great
thing to a man who constantly uses his brain so strenuously as I do."

Again Margaret inwardly congratulated herself that it would not devolve
upon _her_ to take care of his comforts and learn all his "little
habits," which occupation appeared to her a pitiable waste of a woman's
life--in the case of any but a _great_ man.

"When I did it for Uncle Osmond," she reflected, "it seemed worth while
because of what he was giving to the world almost up to the day of his
death."

"The work of a corporation lawyer," she asked Daniel, "is it anything
more than a money-making job?"

"Anything _more_?" repeated Daniel, shocked at the suggestion that it
could be anything more.  "Isn't that enough?"

"Dear me, no!  When two women spend their lives keeping a man fit for
his work, they surely want to know that his work is worth such a price;
that it is benefiting society."

"Well, of course, any money-making 'job,' as you call it (I would
hardly call my legal work a 'job') must benefit society; if I make
money, I not only can support a family but can give to public
charities, and to the church."

"There's nothing in that, Daniel; I have studied enough social and
political economy to know, as you, too, certainly must know, that
society has outgrown the philanthropy and charity idea; has learned to
hate philanthropy and charity; people are demanding the right to earn
their own way and keep their self-respect."

"I'm afraid, Margaret," said Daniel gravely, "your irreligious uncle
gave you some rather unladylike ideas.  However," he smiled, "my
Christian influence on you, as fond of me as you are, will soon make
you forget his infidel teachings.  For goodness' sake, dear, don't
forget yourself and repeat such atheistic thoughts before my sisters or
indeed to any one in New Munich.  Our best society is very critical."

It flashed upon Margaret to wonder, with a sudden sense of despair,
what her uncle would have said to her marrying Daniel Leitzel.

"If I don't do it quickly, I can't hold out!" she miserably thought.

But she realized that she confronted a worse fate in the alternative of
remaining with Hattie.

"How old are your sisters?" she asked.

"They are both elderly women, though as vigorous as they ever were."

Margaret told herself that she would be so much kinder to them than
Hattie had ever been to her.  "They shall never feel unwelcome in my
home," she resolved.

"Are they your only relatives in New Munich?" she inquired.

"In New Munich, yes.  But Hiram lives in Millerstown nearby."

"Your parents are not living?"

"My mother--no, my parents are not living."

"You seem not quite sure," she smiled.

Daniel coloured uncomfortably.  The thought of his Mennonite
step-mother gave him his first humiliating sense of inferiority to a
Berkeley of Berkeley Hill.  What a shock it would be to "a perfect
lady" like Margaret if she ever met the old woman!  He would try to
avert such a stab to his self-respect.

"I suppose," he thought with some bitterness, "I can't get out of
telling her about mother; she's bound to hear of her some time, and
even perhaps meet her."

"I have a step-mother," he said testily.

"She lives in New Munich?"

"No, fifteen miles out in the country.  We don't see much of her."

"I don't see her name here," said Margaret, glancing down the list he
had given her.

"No; it won't be necessary to send her a card."

"You are not friendly with her?  She was not a good step-mother to you?"

"Oh, yes; no one could be unfriendly with her--that is, she's an
inoffensive, good-hearted old woman.  But--well, we see very little of
her; she's not a blood-relative, you know."

"But surely, if you are not at daggers' points with her, you would send
your father's widow an announcement of your wedding!"

"But--we don't think very much of her, Margaret; we're not, just to
say, intimate with her."

"You say, though, that she is 'inoffensive and good-hearted,' and she
was your father's wife?" repeated Margaret, looking mystified.

"Oh, well," Daniel gave in, "I'll add her name if you think I--I ought
to.  She'll be so pleased; she'll tell it all over the township!  I
mean"--he pulled himself up--"well, you see, she's old and no use to
any one and I'm afraid she's going to be, after a while, something of a
burden to us all."

Margaret remained silent, as Daniel took a pencil from his vest-pocket
and scribbled at the end of his wedding list.

"There," he said, handing the paper back to her.  "Anything to please
you, my dear!"

"Daniel?"

"Well, dearest?"

"I don't like the way you speak of that old lady."

"But haven't I consented to send cards to her, Margaret?"

"Yes.  And I'm sure that a man who loves children as you do, who gives
money to charities and the church, as you tell me you do, couldn't be
thoughtless of the aged.  I don't want to believe you could."

"No, indeed!  I gave one hundred dollars last year to our U. B. Church
Home for Old Ladies."  He drew out his purse, extracted a newspaper
clipping, and passed it to her, "My name heads the list, you see."

"Oh, Daniel, and you were going to neglect to send an announcement of
your wedding to the 'aged, inoffensive, kind-hearted, but useless and
burdensome' widow of your father!"

"But, Margaret," he protested, his self-esteem wincing at her
disapproval, "if ever you see her, you'll not blame me!  You'll
understand.  Anyway, family sentiment among you Southerners is so much
stronger, I've always been told, than with us in the North."

"I'm sure it must be."

"My step-mother is too poor, too, to send us a wedding present," he
added as a mitigating reason for his "neglect."

Margaret, having no conception of his penuriousness (he seemed so
lavishly generous to her), took such speeches as this for a childish
simplicity, the eccentricity of legal genius, perhaps.  Had she known
that he actually felt it wasteful to invest an expensively engraved
card and a stamp where there would be no return of any kind, she would
have advised him to consult an alienist.

Little did she and Daniel dream that the sending of that wedding
announcement to old Mrs. Leitzel of Martz Township was going to make
history for the entire Leitzel family.



X

The marriage of Daniel Leitzel took place in the fall, and during all
the following winter New Munich kept up its lively interest in the
bride, and discussed freely and constantly her personality, looks,
manner, clothes, opinions, and, most impressive of all, her unique
style of speech on occasions; it also speculated boldly and with the
keenest curiosity as to how she "got on" with Danny and her "in-laws."

As the _Weekly Intelligencer_ had predicted, many "social events"
celebrated the marriage.  To entertain the bride and groom came to be
such a social distinction that people vied with each other in the
extravagant elaborateness of their parties; and not to have met Mrs.
Leitzel proved one to be socially obscure.

To the men of New Munich it was a "seven days' wonder" that a woman of
such charm and distinction should have "tied up" with a man like Dan.

"How did a weasel like Dan Leitzel ever put it over a girl like _that_?
Why, he's at least twice her age!"

But the women, noting that the bride's clothes with the exception of
her two evening gowns, however graceful and becoming, were home-made,
and that though the lace on some of them was real and rare, it was very
old, did not wonder so much at the marriage.

"She is certainly making a hit with New Munich," was the verdict at
first.  "Isn't she the very dearest thing that ever happened?"

Margaret's amiable, sympathetic manner, her simplicity, her occasional
drollery, the distinction of her fine breeding, fascinated these people
of a different tradition and fibre.

"No wonder Danny Leitzel looks like another man!" his acquaintances
commented.  "Why, he's taking on flesh!  He looks ten years younger!
Do you notice how spryly he walks?  And how radiantly he beams on
everybody, the old skinflint!  Yes, he certainly had his usual luck
when he got that young wife of his!"

It was another cause for wonder and widespread comment that the maiden
sisters, too, looked brighter and younger since the advent of their
brother's bride.

"They're awfully proud of her and of the fuss being made over her and
Danny!  Who would have dreamed that Miss Jennie and Miss Sadie could
get on peaceably with their brother's wife, living in the same house
with her!  It seems unbelievable."

"Oh, wait!  She's a new thing just now, but wait!  We shall presently
see and hear--what we shall see and hear!  If they get on peaceably,
I'll warrant it's not because Miss Jennie and Miss Sadie are angels.
It's Mrs. Danny that's so awfully easy-going they can't quarrel with
her.  But of course it can't possibly last.  If she is easy-going, she
isn't a jelly-fish.  They're bound to clash after a while.  You'll see
what you'll see!"

"Even the bride herself looks happy," one maiden pensively remarked.
"I shouldn't think she would.  _I_ couldn't have married Dan Leitzel."

"You don't know what you might have done _if tempted_," a friend of the
maiden pointedly suggested.

"But she seems to be devoted to Danny.  She really acts so."

"Oh, that's just her Southern warmth of manner.  Don't take _that_
seriously.  As if a stunning girl like that could be in love with
_him_!"

"But I heard she was poor and dependent and that Danny's devotion and
goodness to her made her just adore him!  An old man's darling, you
know!"

There were only one or two people who, more observant than
communicative, noted that Mrs. Leitzel, though lazily good-humoured and
apparently happy, had a strained expression in her large, soft eyes, a
veiled, elusive look of trouble, almost of suffering.

Meantime, the people of New Munich were not more astonished than were
Daniel's sisters themselves at the relation which they found themselves
sustaining toward his wife.  It had taken only a few days of
association with Margaret to disarm them of their stiffness, suspicion,
and jealousy of their brother's devotion to her.  They found her so
surprisingly willing to take second place in her husband's house, so
disinclined to usurp any of the prerogatives which they had so long
enjoyed (and which they knew most people would think should now be
hers) that in spite of many things about her which they could not
understand or approve, they presently succumbed to the subtle spell of
her magnetism and her docility and became almost as enthusiastic about
her as was Danny himself.

Long and earnest were the discussions they held in secret over her.

"Her clothes are so plain," lamented Sadie.  "You could hardly call 'em
such a trussoo, could you?  All she's got is just her travelling suit
with two silk waists, two house dresses, one afternoon dress, and two
evening dresses.  And her underclothes ain't fancy like a bride's.
When I asked her to show me her wedding underclothes, she said she
didn't get any new, she hadn't needed any!  To be sure, what she has
got is awful fine linen and hand embroidered, but it ain't made a bit
fancy and no coloured ribbons at.  All plain white," said Sadie in a
tone of keen disappointment.

"And her evening dresses," said Jennie; "she says the lace on 'em she
'inherited.'  Putting old second-hand lace on your wedding outfit yet!
I told her I'd anyhow think she'd buy new for her wedding outfit.  And
she said, 'But I couldn't afford to buy lace like this.  My
great-grandmother wore this lace on a ball gown.'"

"She ain't ashamed to say right out she can't afford this and that,"
said Sadie wonderingly.

"Well, to be sure, that's just to us, and we're her folks now.  She'd
know better than to say it outside."

"Well, I guess anyhow _then_!" Sadie fervently hoped.

"But it looks as if she didn't _have_ much, don't it?"

"I'm afraid it does."  Sadie shook her head.

"What I want to know is, did she or didn't she bring Danny _any_thing?"
Jennie worried.

"It's hard to say," sighed Sadie.

"I don't like to ask her right out, just yet anyhow.  After a while I
will mebby," said Jennie.

"She's wonderful genteel, the most genteel lady I ever saw," remarked
Sadie.  "And how she speaks her words so pretty!  _Buttah_ for butter;
and _haose_ for house.  It sounds grand, don't it?"

"It's awful high-toned," Jennie granted.  "I wonder what Hiram's Lizzie
will have to say when she sees her once.  Won't Lizzie look common
anyhow, alongside of her?"

"Well, I guess!"

"Hiram will have more jealous feelings than ever when he sees what a
genteel lady Danny picked out; ain't?"

"Yes, anyhow!"

"And that makes something, too, being high-toned that way; it makes
near as much as money," said Jennie thoughtfully.

"Still, I don't believe Danny would have married her if she hadn't
anything," Sadie speculated.

"Well, I guess not, too, mebby.  I _hope_ not.  It's next Sabbath we're
invited to Millerstown to spend the day at Hiram's, you mind?" she told
Sadie; "if only you don't take the cold or have the headache," she
added, insisting always upon regarding Sadie as an invalid to be
coddled.

"You know, Jennie, Danny always says he has so ashamed for our Hiram's
common table manners.  I guess he won't like it, either, before
Margaret that Hiram eats so common, for all he's a minister."

"Yes, well, but supposing she met _Mom_ by chance, what would she
think?  Danny better consider of _that_ before he worries over our
Hiram."

"Yes, I guess, too," Sadie agreed.

Meantime, Margaret, during these first months after her marriage, was
living through a succession of spiritual upheavals and epochs which,
under a calm and even phlegmatic exterior, were completely hidden from
those about her.

Her earliest impressions in her new and strange environment at the
Leitzels' home in New Munich were confused and bewildering; for so
isolated and narrow had her life hitherto been, that vulgarity in any
form had never, up to this time, touched or come nigh her, and she did
not understand it, did not know how to meet or cope with it.

But the second stage of her experience, as the situation became less
confused, more definite, was, in spite of Daniel's devotion to her, for
which she was grateful, a transitory sense of humiliation, of
mortification, that she had married into a family that was
"straight-out common"--she, a Berkeley.  It was probably the first time
in her life that she had ever given a thought to the fact that she was
a Berkeley.  But since to a Southerner of good family, to be well-born
was a detail of inestimable importance, she had naturally assumed that
any man whom Walter brought into his home and presented to her and
Hattie must be worthy of that honour.  It was on this assumption that
so many of Daniel's peculiarities had failed to mean to her what she
could now see they meant--sheer commonness.  Why had Walter taken it
for granted so easily that because a man was a successful and prominent
lawyer he was a gentleman?  Yes, her own sister's husband had let her
go so far as to _marry_ into a family of whom he knew either too little
or too much!

"I trusted Walter so entirely, I didn't even think of questioning him
on such a matter!" she reflected with some bitterness upon his
willingness to sacrifice her in order to preserve the peace of his own
home.

"There are two kinds of lower class people, common people and people
who are only just plain," she philosophized.  "If Daniel's family were
just plain, I could take them to my heart and be glad for the
broadening experience of knowing and loving them.  I could get over my
prejudices about blood--I recognize that they _are_ prejudices--and I
wouldn't even mind his sisters' peculiarities.  But they are not just
plain.  They are----  Oh, my good Lord!" she almost moaned, covering
her face with her hands.

However, all the experiences of Margaret's life had taught her, through
very severe discipline, to accept philosophically whatever
circumstances fell to her lot and to extract from alien conditions
whatever of comfort could possibly be found in them.  So, the third
stage of the strenuous crisis through which she was passing was more
cheerful.  She found herself so interested in the novelty of the life
and characters about her that it began to seem like the open page of an
absorbing story.  Indeed, so interested did she become, that for a time
she forgot to think of it all in its relation to her own life.  That
phase was destined to be forced upon her later with added poignancy.
But for the time being, even the fearfully vulgar taste of Daniel's
house and its furnishings, the like of which she had never beheld, and
Sadie's youthful _toilettes_--her empire gowns, middie blouses with
Windsor ties, and hats with little velvet streamers down the
back--served only to greatly entertain her.

"Sadie was always such a fancy dresser that way," Jennie would explain
with pride.  "Yes, she's a girl that's wonderful for dress."

Jennie's invariable reference to her younger sister as "a girl" seemed
intended to carry out the idea of Sadie's sixteen-year-old style of
dress.

"I suppose one couldn't make Sadie understand," thought Margaret, "that
she'd be better dressed with one frock of good material, simply and
suitably made, than with all that huge closet full of cheap trash."

But she was wise enough not to attempt reforms, or even suggestions, in
any direction, in her new home.

In view of the fact that Daniel's sisters lived here dependent upon
him, as Margaret supposed, Sadie's abundant finery seemed to her rather
extravagant.  "He's a very indulgent brother," she decided.

Walter's wedding gift to her had been a check for fifty dollars, which
she was sure he must have borrowed on his life insurance.  She was at
present using this for pocket money.  It was characteristic of her not
to give one anxious thought to the time when it would all be spent.
She was scarcely aware of the fact that the subject of money had never
yet come up between her and Daniel, and she would have been amazed
indeed to know how often her husband tried in vain to broach the topic
which was to him of such paramount importance, and to her so negligible
a detail in a life full of interests that had nothing to do with money.

The attitude of Daniel's sisters toward him seemed to Margaret not by
any means the least of the curiosities of her new life: their
obsequious admiration of him, their abject obedience to every least
wish of his, their minute attention to his physical comforts and to the
fussy details of his daily routine, from his morning bath up to his
glass of hot milk at bedtime.

"And they've done this all his life!  No wonder he's a----"

But she checked, even to her own consciousness, any admission of what
she really thought he was.

Daniel, meantime, discovering through the many social affairs to which
he took his bride that she was so greatly admired by the men of his
world as to make them look upon him with envy (and to be looked upon
with envy was sweet to his soul), opened up his heart and his purse to
the extent of suggesting to his wife and his sisters that they
celebrate his marriage and return the lavish hospitality that had been
extended to them in New Munich by giving a large reception.

It was one Saturday afternoon as they all sat together in the
"sitting-room" after their midday dinner, Daniel's offices being closed
on Saturday afternoon to give his large staff of clerks a half holiday.
Jennie had pushed Daniel's own easy-chair to the open fire for him, and
he was lounging in it luxuriously.

"And I'm going to do it up in style.  I'll have a caterer from
Philadelphia," he announced, to the astonishment of his sisters.

"Oh, Danny, a caterer yet!" breathed Sadie, awestruck.

"It'll come awful high, Danny!" Jennie warned him.

"I know it will.  I know that.  But all the same I'm going to _do_ it!"
responded Daniel heroically.

"Well," said Jennie, "I hope you'll tell the caterer, Danny, not to
give us one of these lap-suppers the kind they had at Mrs. Congressman
Ocksreider's, you mind.  I like to sit up to a table when I eat.  Mrs.
Ocksreider's so stout, she hasn't _got_ a lap, and it looked awful
inconvenient to her.  Oh, it was _swell_ enough, to be sure, but you
didn't get very full.  We didn't overload our stomachs, I can tell you."

"We'll have small tables, then," Daniel agreed.

"Sadie," Jennie suddenly ordered her sister solicitously, "sit out of
the window draft or you'll get the cold in your head yet."

Sadie obediently pulled her chair away from the window.

"I'm thirsty," Daniel announced; and at the word Jennie rose.

"I'll fetch you a drink, Danny."

In a moment she returned and stood by her brother's chair while he
leisurely sipped the water she had brought him.  This spectacle, a
man's remaining seated while a woman stood, to which Margaret was
becoming accustomed, had at first seemed to her quite awful.

"And you, Margaret," Daniel said as he sipped his water, "must have a
new dress--gown, as you call it--for the party.  You have worn those
same two evening dresses of yours to about enough parties, I guess.
Let Sadie help you choose a new one.  And get something elegant and
showy.  I won't mind the cost.  Sadie, you'll know what she ought to
get; her own taste is too plain.  I want her to do me credit!" he
grinned, returning the empty glass to Jennie, who took it away.

"I'll help you pick out just the right thing," responded Sadie, eager
for the orgy of planning a new evening costume, while Margaret, as she
glanced at Sadie's ill-fitting, gay plaid blouse of cheap silk, made by
a cheap seamstress, and at the coquettish patch of black court plaster
off her left eye, concealed her amusement at her vision of herself in a
garb of her sister-in-law's devising.

"Daniel," she suddenly said, wishing to divert the talk from clothes,
and curious, also, to "try out" her husband on a certain point, "I'm
thirsty."

Daniel, not yet very far recovered from the attentive lover stage,
jumped up at once to get her a drink, quite as he would have done
before their marriage, and Margaret smiled as she saw Jennie and Sadie
look shocked at what she knew they felt to be her very unwifely
attitude.

"My dears," she told them while Daniel was gone, "I've got to try to
keep him in training, you spoil him so dreadfully."

"How high dare she go, Danny, for her new dress?" Sadie inquired when
her brother returned with the water.

"Well, what do _you_ pay for a party dress?"

"My new white silk cost me sixteen-fifty."

"That's a showy, handsome dress all right.  You may spend twenty
dollars, Margaret," he said magnanimously.

"We'll go downtown right after breakfast on Monday morning, Margaret,"
said Sadie, "and pick out the goods and take it to Mrs. Snyder, my
dressmaker.  She charges five dollars to make a dress, but she gives
you your money's worth; she makes them so nice and fancy.  Your dresses
ain't fussed up enough, Margaret."

Margaret wondered what would be the effect upon them if she told them
that just the mere making of one of her "plain" gowns, by a good
dressmaker, had cost nearly twice what Daniel "allowed" her for the
goods, "findings," and making of a new one.  But she decided to spare
them the shock.

"Simple clothes suit me better," she said.  "Unless I go to a
high-priced dressmaker, I can do much better making my gowns myself."

"But I don't begrudge the high price, Margaret," urged Daniel; "you let
Sadie's Mrs. Snyder make you a dress."

"Yes," said Jennie with decision, "you can't appear among our friends
any more, Margaret, in such plain-looking dresses as you've been
wearing.  It would really give me a shamed face if you weren't
so--well, even in plain clothes, you're awful aristocratic looking, and
you'll look just grand in the dress Sadie's Mrs. Snyder will make you
for five dollars."

Though Margaret was perfectly willing to take a subordinate place in
her husband's household, she no more dreamed of his sisters interfering
in her personal affairs than she thought of interfering with theirs, so
in spite of Jennie's authoritative tone, she answered pleasantly: "Too
bad you don't like my Mennonite taste, for you know, I'd love to adopt
the 'plain' garb of these Mennonite women and girls one sees on the
streets on market days.  What could be more quaint and fetching than
their spotless white caps on their glossy hair?  Ah, I think they're a
sly lot, these Mennonite girls.  Don't tell me they don't know how
bewitching they look in their unworldly garb intended to put down
woman's natural vanity!  So I won't get a new gown just now."

"Why not, when Danny offers you the money?" asked Sadie, astonished,
while Jennie frowned disapprovingly.

"Here," said Daniel, taking a bank book and a fountain pen from his
pocket, and rapidly making out a check, "you take this, Margaret, and
let Sadie's Mrs. Snyder make you a nice party dress."

Margaret laughed a little as she took the check, feeling it useless to
explain to them how impossible it would be to buy with twenty dollars,
even at a bargain sale, anything so beautiful as her two gowns made by
a skilled and artistic designer and trimmed with her
great-grandmother's Brussels rose point.

Daniel looked chagrined and his sisters rather indignantly surprised
that she did not thank him for the money.  He thought he was being
tremendously generous.  But Margaret, inasmuch as they had been married
two months and this was the first money he had offered her, received it
as a matter of course; her husband had, at the altar, endowed her with
his "worldly goods" and what was his was hers; that was her quite
simple view of their financial relation.

"I don't want to spend this on a gown, Daniel," she said to the
consternation of her hearers, as she tucked it into the bosom of her
blouse, "for I don't need any; the ones I have are really all right, my
dear; far better than anything I've seen on any woman in New Munich."

"But I gave it to you for a frock!" Daniel exclaimed, his eyes bulging.
"I want you to have a fancy, dressy frock for our reception."

"My dear," Margaret patted his bald head, "you know a lot more about
law than about a woman's frocks.  You leave that to me."

Before he could reply, the one maid of the household entered the room,
and presented a card-plate to Jennie.

"More callers--what a pile!" said Jennie as she took ten cards from the
plate.

"Yes, and it's only one lady in the parlour settin'!" exclaimed the
Pennsylvania Dutch maid.  "It wonders me that she gives me so many
tickets!"

"Well, would you look, Danny!  If it ain't Miss Hamilton!" exclaimed
Jennie with a contemptuous shrug.  "Ain't she got nerve!"

"What!  Well, well!  Tut, tut, tut!--my stenographer calling on my
wife!  Yi, yi!  Because she and her parents sent us a little bit of a
vase for a wedding gift, she has the presumption to think she can make
your acquaintance, my dear!"

"That exquisite little Venetian glass vase!" said Margaret eagerly.
"It's one of the loveliest gifts we received."

"It looks as if it cost fifty cents," commented Jennie.  "And they're
not just to say poor either; her father is the high school principal
and her mother's the Episcopal Church organist."

"But why ten cards," asked Daniel, "if she came by herself?"

"Her father's and mother's cards as well as her own; and for all of
us," explained Margaret as she glanced over them.

"And is that the proper way to do?" asked Daniel, impressed.

"It is in South Carolina; I can't answer for New Munich."

"_Her_ puttin' on airs like that!" wondered Sadie, "when they ain't in
society."

Margaret rose to go to the parlour.  "Are you coming?" she asked of
Jennie and Sadie.

"We are not acquainted with our Danny's hired clerk," said Jennie
primly, "and don't wish to be.  I'll call the hired girl back and tell
her to excuse you, Margaret, and us, too."

"No, I want to meet Miss Hamilton.  I've been anxious to make the
acquaintance of the giver of that rare little vase; she must be a
person of taste.  Shall I, then, excuse you?" she asked the other two
women, moving a step toward the door.  But Daniel took her hand to
detain her.  "Have yourself excused; I'd rather you did; it's not well
to mix business and society.  It was bold of Miss Hamilton to come
here, and we must not encourage her to come again."

Strangely enough, this sort of a contingency had not arisen before, for
the simple reason that on every occasion, hitherto, when people had
called whom Jennie and Sadie considered undesirable acquaintances for
her, Margaret had happened to be out.  They had either just thrown away
the cards of such visitors, or had explained to Margaret that she must
not return their visits.  Margaret had not discussed the matter with
them, but had kept the addresses of every visitor of whom she was
informed, intending, of course, to call upon them all as soon as New
Munich "society" would cease from its siege of entertaining her.

"But, Daniel," she patiently answered him, "I'm quite serious in
telling you that a person who could select such a thing of beauty as
that Venetian vase, I'm sure I shall find much more interesting
than--than some of the people I've been meeting, kind and hospitable
though they've been."

"But it's very bad policy to encourage familiarity in subordinates.
She _works_ for me, Margaret."

"Don't you see, Daniel, that's why it behooves me not to be excused to
her?" she smiled, withdrawing her hand, patting his cheek, and sailing
out of the room.

"But, Margaret!" he called after her, only to hear her voice in the
room beyond greeting, with her Southern cordiality, his hired secretary.

Daniel looked the annoyance and astonishment he felt.  If she _would_
see Miss Hamilton, against his expressed wish, she needn't treat her
like an equal--actually gush over her.  Why! hear the two of them
laughing and chattering over there in the parlour!  She might at least
be reserved and on her dignity with people beneath her.

"For goodness' sake, tell your wife, Danny," spoke in Jennie, voicing
his own thought, "not to make herself so friendly and common to
everybody.  _Your_ wife don't have to!  She has the right to be a
little proud with people.  I tell her, still, when callers come, 'To
this one you can be as common as you want; but to this one, not so
common.'  But she don't seem to understand; leastways, she don't listen
to me; she's the same to everybody, _whether_ or no.  Or else she's
just as likely as not to make herself common with a person like this
Miss Hamilton and be awful quiet and indifferent-like with Mrs.
Congressman Ocksreider and her daughter, or Judge Miller's family!  You
better talk to her and tell her what's what."

"It's funny," said Daniel, puzzled, "that she wouldn't know that much
without being told."

"Yes, I think, then!" said Jennie, "and her as tony a person as what
she seems to be."

"Yes, anyhow!" corroborated Sadie.

"Her being so friendly with everybody," continued Jennie, "is likely to
make trouble when we come to send out invitations for your grand party.
To be sure, the ones she made herself so common with will look to be
invited; ain't?"

"But I want the party to be very exclusive, mind!" warned Daniel.

"To be sure you do.  Trust me to see to that," promised Jennie.

"Will you hear those two in there laughing together like two
school-girls!" wondered Sadie.  "My goodness!  And Miss Hamilton
working for you for eight dollars a week!"

"I've had to raise her to ten," said Danny ruefully.  "A lawyer in
Lancaster offered her fifteen, and I couldn't let her go, she's too
useful; so much better educated than the general run of stenographers.
If she didn't prefer to live in New Munich with her parents, I'd have
to compete with big city prices to keep her."

"Is she that smart, Danny?" Jennie asked, a touch of respect in her
tone, her estimate of Miss Hamilton rising just two dollars' worth.
"They say, too, that her father's such a smart high school teacher.
Yes, they say the school board had to raise his salary, too, to keep
him."

"It's very bad," said Daniel thoughtfully, "to have people who work for
you know how valuable they are to you.  Miss Hamilton knows she's worth
money to me and so she gives herself airs--acts sometimes as though
_she_ hired _me_ at ten dollars a week!--and then has the presumption
to come here and call on my wife!  I'd fire her if I could get any one
_half_ as good.  But she knows she's got the whip-handle.  It's much
better, much better, for an employee to feel _uncertain_ of his or her
place.  By the way," he added, drawing a purse from his pocket and
taking a dollar from it, "you know we're all to go to Millerstown to
have dinner at Hiram's to-morrow, so you'd better go out this
afternoon, girls, and buy some presents for the four children.  Here's
a dollar--that's from Margaret and me; and if you each give fifty
cents, that will make two dollars: enough to buy a nice little present
for each one of them from all of us."

"All right, Danny," responded Jennie, taking the dollar.  "I can get
red booties for the baby, a hair ribbon for Naomi, a game for Zwingli,
and a story book for Christian.  Won't they be pleased?"

"And now," said Daniel, taking out his watch, "I've got just an hour to
spare--let us make out the list of names for our party; for when Miss
Hamilton goes, I'm going to 'phone for an automobile and take Margaret
out for a little ride, and talk to her about some things."



XI

Margaret's instinct for self-preservation, being rapidly educated along
new lines since her marriage, closed her lips in the presence of Jennie
and Sadie upon the great delight she found in her new acquaintance, her
husband's secretary; for though the standards of value which the
Leitzels held as to most things in life had at first seemed to her
incomprehensible, she was of late beginning to have a glimmering
understanding of them.  So, upon returning to the sitting-room after
Miss Hamilton's call, she repressed any expression of her happiness,
and not until she and Daniel were alone in the automobile which he had
hired this afternoon for her pleasure, and incidentally for his own,
did she speak of it.  She had not yet learned the necessity of hiding
from him, also, almost everything that she felt and thought.

"This is a red letter day for me, Daniel.  I've found a friend!  I've
never had an intimate girl friend--oh! but I've yearned for one!  Of
all the many people I've met since I came here, there hasn't been one
except that Miss Mary Aucker, who has since gone to Boston for the
winter, whose society I'd prefer to that of a book or solitude.  I'm
not naturally a very good 'mixer,' I'm afraid, but in ten minutes Miss
Hamilton and I--well, we simply found each other, deep down where we
both live!  It's such a novel and wonderful experience to me!" she
softly exclaimed, her eyes shining.  "It's going to give me the
greatest happiness I've ever known!"

"The greatest happiness you've ever known!  Why, Margaret----"

"I mean that I've ever known with a woman," she said soothingly.

"But, my dear!" he exclaimed, "what can you be thinking of?  You can't
make a friend of _my secretary_!"

"If she is a lady?"

"But she isn't.  They don't go anywhere, these Hamiltons!"

"They are a cultured New England family, Daniel, and if they don't go
into society here, it is probably because they don't want to.  I'm sure
I can't imagine why they _should_ want to.  I don't mean, dear," she
quickly added, not at all sincerely, "to cast any reflection upon your
New Munich society; I'm speaking of society in general.  It is rather
unsatisfactory, isn't it?  I wouldn't give up the friendship I'm going
to have with Miss Hamilton for all the rest of New Munich society, I
assure you."

"But you must give it up!  Why, my dear, the Hamiltons are _renters_!"

"'Renters?'"

"Yes, renters!"

"What are 'renters?'"

"You know what I mean--they don't own the house they live in, they rent
it."

"Oh!"  Margaret fell back laughing against the seat of the car.  "Of
course if I had known that, Daniel, I shouldn't have found Miss
Hamilton congenial, sympathetic, and companionable.  Oh, Daniel!" she
gasped with laughing.

But Daniel's sense of humour was not developed.

"You must be on your guard more, my dear," he gravely warned her, "or
you will be getting yourself involved most uncomfortably with
troublesome people.  Do let Jennie and Sadie be your guides as to whom
you should cultivate here and whom keep at a proper distance."

"Jennie and Sadie be my--select my friends for me?"

"Instruct you as to those _among_ whom you may select for yourself," he
amended it.  "They know New Munich and you don't."

"And they," thought Margaret wonderingly, "think themselves 'above' a
cultured, sophisticated, well-bred girl like Miss Hamilton--they!"

"But, Daniel," she asked, genuinely puzzled, "that nice little woman
that called yesterday, that I liked so much, said her husband was a
grocer.  I confess it rather shocked me.  But you all seemed to approve
of _her_.  In New Munich is a grocer better than a teacher?"

"He's a wholesale grocer, which makes a vast difference, of course."

"Does it?  And was the drygoods person who was with her also wholesale?"

"Mrs. Frantz?  No, but she's rich, very rich.  They own their handsome
home at the head of our block.  Listen, Margaret!  While you were in
the parlour with Miss Hamilton, Jennie and Sadie helped me make up the
list for our party, and even I myself could not have discriminated more
astutely than they did (Jennie especially) as to whom we ought to
invite and whom we ought not.  On Monday I'll have one of my office
clerks address the envelopes for the invitations on a typewriter."

"Oh, my God, Daniel!  You can't send typewritten invitations!"

"For goodness' sake, Margaret, cut out _swearing_!  I'd be horribly
mortified if any one heard you!"

Margaret was silent.

Daniel turned to glance at her uneasily, fearing he had offended her,
but she was red with suppressed laughter and as she met his eye it
broke forth in a little squeal.

"Oh, Daniel," she sighed, "swearing isn't as bad as slang, dear.  I'd
much rather hear you say 'Damn it' than 'cut it out.'"

She looked so pretty in her sable furs, another inheritance from an
ancestor, that, the automobile being covered, he seized her face in his
two hands and held his lips to hers for a long minute.

"Daniel," she said when he at last released her, "remind me to look
over the list before you send the invitations.  I may want to add some
names."

"I don't think you will, dear.  We drew up the list very carefully."

"I'll glance over it."

"But, Margaret," he firmly insisted, "the list is complete as it
stands.  You can't add any name to it that would not be objectionable
to my sisters and me."

"I understand that the party is to be a large general affair, not small
and exclusive?  In that case, you know, we shall have to invite every
one who has called and sent us gifts."

"Impossible!  Why, our butcher sent us a gilt-framed Snow-Scene! and
Sadie's dressmaker a souvenir spoon!"

"Then at least we must invite every one who has called on me."

"By no means.  Wait until you have lived here long enough to have
gotten your bearings and you'll see how right Jennie and Sadie and I
are in drawing the line so carefully."

Margaret wisely desisted from further discussion of the matter, though
she felt troubled by her conviction that she would certainly not find
on that list the names of the few women of the town who had really
interested her and who were probably "renters" or self-supporting or
something else which, by the Leitzel standard, would class them with
"dogs and sorcerers."  But it was she and Daniel who were giving the
party, and even though Jennie and Sadie did keep house for them, she
was of course the nominal mistress of her husband's home and
responsible for the courtesy or discourtesy extended to their
acquaintances; and she did not like the idea of being made to appear a
petty snob in the eyes of the few people of New Munich for whose
opinion of her she cared.  But what could she do about it?

"The people they seem to approve of have been the most vulgar who have
called on me," she reflected.  "And the few persons of breeding and
education I've met here they have flouted.  Yet I recognize the
delicacy of their position--Jennie's and Sadie's--living here in their
brother's house and dependent upon him.  I don't want to assert myself
in a way to make them feel their dependence.  What can I do?"

"Another thing, Margaret," said Daniel in a tone of authority, "I want
to ask you not to make yourself common with people beneath you."

"Make myself 'common?'"

"Why, you are as common with my secretary as you are with Mrs.
Ocksreider or Mrs. and Miss Miller!"

"I'm 'common?'"

"Don't you think you are?"

"Well, in Charleston we weren't considered just to say common people,
Daniel, though perhaps we were over-estimated."

"Good heavens, Margaret, I don't mean that you _yourself_ are common; I
certainly wouldn't have married you if I had thought that.  I mean you
make yourself--well, too democratic.  That's what I mean, too
democratic."

"The prerogative of the well-born, Daniel, who don't feel the
_necessity_ for snobbishness.  Have you fixed the date for the party?"

"Yes, the twenty-second; three weeks from yesterday.  I'll have the
house decorated by a Lancaster florist and I'll have a caterer from
Philadelphia."  He repeated with relish his astonishing intention.

"But, Daniel, are you sure we can afford all that?"

He laughed exultantly.  "Well, my dear, I've never given a large party
and I'm going to impress the town!  It will be the swellest thing that
was ever given here!  Why shouldn't it be?  I can afford it--that is,"
he pulled himself up, "I can afford it _once_ in a while, and," he
added with feeling, "I'm celebrating the happiest event of my whole
life.  You're worth all that it will cost, Margaret!"

"Thanks!"

"You're welcome, my dear."

"We must invite your step-mother to the party, Daniel."

A slight start expressed Daniel's disturbed surprise at this unexpected
suggestion.

"She's too old and too--well, too unworldly."

He winced from the discovery that Margaret must some time make, that
his step-mother was a Mennonite, talked Pennsylvania Dutch, was wholly
uneducated and, in short, a disgrace to the Leitzel family.

"We must send her a card, Daniel, whether she comes or not."

"No, no; she might take a notion _to_ come!"

"But that would be lovely!  I am so fond of old ladies.  Why do you say
'No?'"

"I don't want her 'round!" he snapped fretfully.  "Don't send her an
invitation!  She lives only fifteen miles from here and I do believe
she'd _come_ if she were invited, she's so proud of being related to
us!  You see, Margaret," he added, preparing the way a bit, "she's not
exactly our equal, I'm sorry to tell you."

"Then," thought Margaret, "she's undoubtedly a very superior woman!"

"Daniel!" she suddenly proposed, "if she lives only fifteen miles away,
let's motor out to see her."

"We haven't time," said Daniel shortly.

"Some other time then?  I'd like to meet her."

"Perhaps."

"Won't she be at Hiram's to-morrow at the family party at Millerstown?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because Hiram won't invite her.  We have very little to do with her,
my dear, except to give her her home."

"_You_ do that?"  She wondered at the number of people he supported.

"Well, she lives in our old home near our coal lands.  We don't charge
her any rent."

"I'm going out to see her some time, Daniel.  Since you don't care to
visit her, I'll take Miss Hamilton.  I'd like to see your coal lands
and your old home."

Daniel looked apoplectic.  "Margaret!" he gasped.  "Listen to me!
Don't speak to any one of my step-mother!  Hardly any one knows we have
one and we don't want them to know it."

"Gracious!  Why not?"

"We're ashamed of her, Margaret.  She's not a lady, though I don't see
why that should reflect on us, since she isn't a blood relation.  And
as to Miss Hamilton, haven't I made it clear to you that it would
humiliate me unbearably to have my wife seen in company with my
stenographer?"

"Oh, but, Daniel, my dear, because her family are 'renters?'  There,
there," she patted him, "don't worry about me.  I'm twenty-five years
old, you know, and am surely competent to choose my own friends.  And
it's better to be renters than rotters.  Let us go home, now, will you?
It's getting late, and I'm cold--and hungry.  Jennie promised us
buckwheat cakes for supper.  Tell me all about your brother Hiram's
family," she added when Daniel had ordered the chauffeur to turn home.
"How many children has he?  I'll be so glad to get some children into
my arms again--I'm so awfully homesick for Hattie's babies!"

There was a little catch in her voice and Daniel answered
sympathetically: "I'd like to see Hattie's babies again myself!  They
certainly are nice little children--the most aristocratic looking
children, Margaret, I ever saw.  I hope," he lowered his voice, "that
_our_ children will be as aristocratic looking."

Margaret closed her eyes for an instant as though to shut out some
things she did not wish to see.

"How many children?" she repeated after a moment.

"Four: Zwingli, Naomi, Christian, and Daniel.  Daniel, the baby, is my
namesake of course.  You see, Hiram had about decided I wasn't going to
marry and that having no children of my own, I'd do well by my
namesake.  But," Daniel chuckled, "I fooled him, didn't I?"

"Do you like his wife?"

"Oh, yes, he did very well, very well indeed.  Lizzie's worth thirty
thousand dollars."

He paused expectantly.  Here was Margaret's chance to speak up and tell
him what she was worth.

"If she's worth that much," was Margaret's comment, "she certainly
ought to be all wool and a yard wide.  But I asked whether you liked
her."

"Why, yes, she's a good wife," returned Daniel, disappointed, his tone
dejected.  _Why_ couldn't he make Margaret talk property?  "Hiram
married the richest woman in Millerstown.  And she's a very capable and
economical woman, too.  You'll hear my brother preach to-morrow," he
added with pride, cheering up a bit.  "He's a fine preacher.  So
considered in Millerstown.  If he had gone into the ministry younger,
he'd have made his mark in his profession just as I have done in the
law; but he was nearly thirty when he began to study.  Yes," said
Daniel as the car drew up at their door, "you'll hear a great sermon
when you hear my brother Hiram preach."



XII

It was the next day on the train on their way to Millerstown, to visit
Hiram's church and his family, that an illuminating little incident
occurred in the matter of the gifts they were taking to the children.

"What's that package you have, Margaret?" Jennie inquired, rather in
the tone of a demand, as the four of them sat in two facing seats of a
day coach, Jennie and Sadie having both offered Daniel the seat by the
window and regarding Margaret with evident disapproval because she had
not offered hers.

"A book for the children," Margaret replied, thinking Jennie's question
and tone both somewhat surprisingly impertinent.  "An illustrated book
of Bible stories.  I found very little to choose from in the New Munich
shops; this was the best thing I could find.  I'm sure your brother
Hiram will approve of such a proper book, though it's at the same time
one that even naughty little boys will love--just full of gruesome
pictures.  That's why I got it."

"But Hiram's boys ain't naughty; they're awful well-behaved," Sadie
corrected this unjust aspersion.

"I hope not too well-behaved, or I shan't feel at home with them.  I
like 'the dear, delightful bad ones,' as Riley calls them."

"You had no need to buy them a present, Margaret," Jennie reproved her.
"Danny gave me a dollar yesterday for you and him, and then I and Sadie
each put fifty cents at--and I got nice presents for the children from
us all together."

"What did you pay for the book, Margaret?" asked Daniel.  "It looks
large."

"I forget exactly; three dollars, I believe, or two-fifty."

"Tut, tut!" exclaimed Daniel hastily.  "You're too extravagant!"

"My goodness!  Two-fifty or three dollars yet!" cried Jennie.  "Money
must be a-plenty with you, Margaret."

"I'll tell you what," suggested Daniel fussily: "keep back the presents
you brought along, Jennie, and give the book from us all, and then the
next time we come to Hiram's we can use those other presents."

"Yes, well, but," objected Jennie, "then I and Sadie won't have paid
our full share if Margaret gave two-fifty or three dollars for the book
yet."

"Which was it, Margaret?" Daniel inquired a bit sharply.  "Surely you
know whether you paid two-fifty or three dollars for the book?"

"Does it matter?  If you require the exact statistics I remember the
price of the book was three-fifty, and they offered it to me for three."

"Then, Jennie," said Daniel, "you and Sadie each give a quarter more
and we'll save back the other things until the next time."

And to Margaret's unspeakable astonishment her husband's sisters opened
their purses, counted out twenty-five cents each and passed it over to
Daniel, who serenely received it and dropped it into his own purse.

"If you're playing a game," said Margaret, holding out her hand, "I'll
take my share, please--two and a quarter."

"But you and I are one," said Daniel jocularly, "and what's mine is----"

"Your own?" asked Margaret as he hesitated.

Daniel laughed with appreciation of this witty retort.  It was
discouraging to Margaret that he always laughed when she was fatuous
and never when she said a thing she considered rather good.

"And, my dear," he admonished her, "remember after this that we always
put together to buy for Hiram's children.  We can do better that way,
not only for the children, but it comes lighter on each one of us."

Margaret did not reply.  The incident, somehow, struck a chill to her
heart.

"It must be," she concluded, "that Jennie and Sadie have some little
income of their own and are not entirely dependent upon Daniel."

If this were true, she felt it would exonerate her from some of the
forbearance she had been so carefully practising.

As they reached Millerstown just in time for the opening of the service
at Hiram's church, Margaret first saw her brother-in-law from the front
pew, as he stood before his congregation in his pulpit.

"You take notice," Jennie had warned her on their way from the station
to the church, "how the folks in Hiram's church look when we come in
and walk up to the front pew."

"At me?"

"Well, at you, mebby, _this_ Sunday, because this is the first time
they are seeing you.  But it's Danny they look at mostly, such a way-up
lawyer as he is, coming into their church.  And every year he gives
them a contribution yet."

There actually was a stir in the congregation as the party of four was
ushered to the pew reserved for them, and Margaret noted curiously the
look of satisfaction it brought to the faces of her husband and his
sisters.

The village volunteer choir was singing a "selection" as they entered:

  "We're going home to glory
  In the good old-fashioned way."


In Hiram's prayer, which followed, he informed God, whom he addressed
in epistolary style as "Dear God," that "the good old-fashioned way"
was plenty good enough for the members of the Millerstown United
Brethren Church.

Margaret, unable to keep her mind on the rambling discourse intended to
be a prayer, noted that the speaker's accent and diction, while not
illiterate, were very crude, that he took a manifest pleasure in the
hackneyed religious phrases which rolled stentoriously from his lips,
and that he wore an expression, as he prayed, of smug
self-satisfaction.  She also observed that, like Daniel, he was small,
slight, and insignificant looking; and she suddenly realized, with a
sinking of her heart, that in this uncouth village preacher she really
saw her husband as he would assuredly appear if stripped of the veneer
which an earlier training and a college education had given him.

As they sat down after the prayer, Sadie whispered to her: "That's
Hiram's Lizzie over there with three of the children."  And glancing
across the aisle, Margaret saw in the opposite front pew a buxom,
matronly young woman, dressed somewhat elaborately in clothes of
village cut and with a rather heavy but honest and wholesome
countenance; her three children, shining from soap and water, and
dressed also elaborately in village style, were gathered with her in
the pew.

In the sermon that Hiram preached Margaret couldn't help suspecting
that he was, this morning, doing some "special stunts" to impress her,
so often did his complacent glance wander down to meet her upward,
attentive gaze.  For indeed she couldn't help listening to him, so
astonishing did his so-called sermon seem to her, so colossal his
self-approval.

His theme was Lot's unfortunate career in Sodom, and in his
extraordinary paraphrasing of the scriptural story he gave it as his
opinion that probably one of the causes leading to Lot's downfall was
the ambition of Mrs. Lot and her daughter to get into Sodom's Four
Hundred.  From the Lot family as social climbers in Sodom, the preacher
launched forth into a denunciation of the idle, dissipated lives of
fashionable women (with which he assumed a first-hand intimacy), a
denunciation that seemed rather irrelevant as spiritual food for his
simple village hearers.  He hauled into his discourse, without regard
to sequence of ideas, time, space, or logic, Martha and Mary of the New
Testament, saying that some one had once asked him which of the two
he'd have preferred to marry.  "Martha before dinner and Mary after
dinner," had been his response, and his congregation rippled with
amusement and almost applauded.  A few moments later he was moving them
to tears by his deep-toned, solemn references to death and the grave
and "the hollow sounds of clods of earth falling upon the coffin lid."

Before pronouncing the Benediction he asked the congregation to "tarry
a moment for social intercourse"; and in the exchange of greetings
which followed, Margaret could see how Daniel, Jennie, and Sadie
revelled in the obsequiousness of most of these shy villagers before
their pastor's distinguished brother and his two elaborately arrayed
sisters; for Jennie and Sadie looked very expensive indeed in their
near-seal coats which they were sure none but an expert could
distinguish from sealskin.

When they presently went over to the parsonage, Jennie informed
Margaret that Lizzie's father had "furnished for her."  The parlour
which they entered was fitted out in heavy old-gold plush sofa and
chairs, a marble-topped centre table, a gilt-framed motto over the
mantel, "Welcome," and a rug in front of the sofa stamped with the
words, "Sweet Home."

At the abundant and well-cooked dinner to which they all gathered
immediately after church and which was served without any superfluous
ceremony, since "Hiram's Lizzie" kept but one "hired girl," Hiram
entirely monopolized the table talk, even Daniel being no match in
egotism for his clerical brother, and Jennie managing with difficulty
to wedge in an occasional warning to Sadie to refrain from eating
certain things that might give her "the indigestion."

As for the children, they sat in awed silence under the double spell of
their father's flow of speech and the presence of a stranger, their new
aunt.  They were all three rather dull, heavy children, from whom
Margaret's friendly and playful overtures could extract very little
response.

Hiram boasted about himself so shamelessly that Margaret wondered why
his wife, sensible woman as she appeared to be, did not blush for him.
But Lizzie's Pennsylvania German sense of deep loyalty to her spouse,
her reverence for him as a minister, no less than her natural
simplicity and stupidity, blinded her to his painfully obvious
weaknesses and made her see in him only those things in which he was
her superior.  He, on his part, patronized her kindly.  She could not
have suited him better if she had been made to order.

"Yes, I'm often told by folks who hear me preach or lecture that I'm a
born orator.  That's what they say I am--a born orator.  No credit to
me--comes natural.  You noticed, sister-in-law, my sermon this morning
was entirely extemporaneous.  Only a few notes to guide me.  Nothing at
all but a few notes.  And did I pause for a word, sister-in-law, did I?"

"I didn't _hear_ you pause, brother-in-law," responded Margaret, adding
to herself, "You big wind-bag!  If you ever did pause for a word, your
words might occasionally mean something."

"You might think I spent a great deal of time in the preparation of my
sermons," continued Hiram.  "Any one _would_ think so that heard me.
But I can prove it by Lizzie that I don't have to.  Give me a text and
get me started and it's like rolling down hill for me.  Natural gift.
Couldn't help it if I wanted to.  Have my people laughing one minute,
crying the next--story of Mary and Martha--clods of earth falling on
coffin lid--humour and pathos alternately.  That's oratory,
sister-in-law.  Why, they think here in Millerstown that they can't
have any kind of a celebration without me to speak--Fourth of July,
Memorial Day, Lincoln's and Washington's Birthday celebrations,
Y.M.C.A. meetings, Y.W.C.A. rallies, W.C.T.U. gatherings, S.P.C.A.
anniversaries.  I'm constantly in demand, constantly.  Nothing quite
right unless Reverend Leitzel's there to speak!  Ain't it so, Lizzie?"

"Yes, indeed, it's something wonderful the way they're after him all
the time to speak," said Lizzie with pride.

"When I take my month's vacation in the summer and they have to listen
to a substitute for four Sundays, oh, my, but then you hear them growl!
'The substitute may be a good enough preacher' they say to me, 'but he
won't be our Reverend Leitzel.'  And when I come back to them
again--well, the way they flock to hear me the very first Sunday, and
the way they tell me, 'That substitute never made us laugh once; he
never made us shed a tear.  There's no sermons like yours, Reverend
Leitzel!'  Ain't they always glad to see me back again, Lizzie, after
my vacation?"

"Well, I guess!" replied Lizzie, holding a large slice of bread on her
palm and spreading it with butter for Zwingli.

"I'm even invited to New Munich sometimes to give an address and to
Lebanon and even to Reading yet, and that's a big place.  You see they
know I have the power to hold an audience.  I never _fail_ to hold my
audience.  Did you ever see me fail to hold my audiences, Lizzie?"

"No, indeed, they're always sorry when he stops preaching!" affirmed
Lizzie.

"I was once approached by some men who offered to finance me as an
evangelist, and if I had consented I'd be as rich a man to-day as
brother Daniel is, for there ain't a more money-making profession
to-day than Evangelism, every one knows that.  Look at Billy Sunday's
rake-offs!  But I had to refuse them because they wanted me to do a
certain thing that my conscience wouldn't leave me do: they said a
feature of my evangelistic campaign would have to be addresses to
audiences of Women Only, on Eugenics; that you couldn't have a swell,
up-to-date evangelistic campaign without that big drawing card.  Well,
I said I could easy do that; so that part was all right.  _But_ when
they told me that in order to make it a go, I'd have to interduce into
my talk to Women Only, one or two _sudgestive remarks_, I refused!"
said Hiram heroically.  "Not one sudgestive remark will I make, I told
them.  'Take me or leave me, but I won't make _one sudgestive remark_
to an audience of Women Only!'  So," he concluded grandly, "by standing
up for my principles, you see, I lost a fortune!"

Margaret glanced, now and then, at Daniel and his sisters to learn from
their faces whether they considered Hiram sane; but they, far from
looking alarmed or disgusted, seemed to regard the bouquets he flung at
himself as a personal tribute to themselves, his near relatives, who
could at least inhale their fragrance.

"Yes, Hiram's a born preacher, that I will say," remarked Jennie.

"Yes, from a little boy, yet, he always wanted to be a preacher," added
Sadie.

"He's got the gift all right," affirmed Daniel emphatically.

An expectant pause, just here, made Margaret realize that they were
waiting for her to cast her bouquet at Hiram's feet.  She was an
amiable creature and would have been perfectly willing to oblige them
if her wits had been more agile; but for the life of her she could
think of nothing to say that would not too deeply perjure her soul.

Her silence, however, in no way daunted Hiram.

"How did _you_ like my sermon this morning, sister-in-law?" he frankly
inquired.

"It was the best--of its kind--I ever heard," responded Margaret,
looking at him without blinking.

"Thank you," he bowed.  "I'm sure you are perfectly sincere, too, in
your complimentary opinion."

"Perfectly sincere," said Margaret.

"In what church were _you_ raised?"

"My family has a perpetual life ownership of a pew in the oldest
Episcopal Church in Charleston, but I must admit that it isn't often
occupied."

"You are a Christian, I trust?" said Hiram gravely.

Margaret did not think a reply necessary, or perhaps advisable.  So she
made none.

"Are you a Christian, sister-in-law?" Hiram solemnly repeated.

"I'm a Democrat, a Suffragist, a Southerner--I don't know what all!"
said Margaret flippantly.

"Do you mean to tell me, sister-in-law, that you ain't a Christian?"

"I consider that a very personal question, and if you call me
'sister-in-law' again, I'll--I'll steal your little girl here," she
added, slipping her arm about the unresponsive child at her side, "and
take her home with me.  Do you want to come to New Munich with your new
aunt, my dear?" she asked the child.

"Yes, ma'am."

This digression diverted the talk for a time from the all-engrossing
topic of Hiram's oratorical prowess, and as there now ensued the
distracting clatter of clearing the laden table for dessert, the
respite continued a bit longer.

But after dinner, when they were again gathered in the parlour, Hiram
continued his monologue with unabated relish, pacing the length of the
room as he talked, his well-disciplined, or utterly phlegmatic,
children sitting in silence among their elders, Daniel fondly holding
on his knee Christian, the youngest of the three (there was a rather
new baby upstairs), and letting him play with his big gold watch.

Having got the impression that Margaret was an "unbeliever," Hiram
entered upon a polemic in defence of "the faith once delivered to the
saints," sweeping from the earth with one fell stroke all the results
of German scholarship in Biblical criticism, refuting in three
sentences the arguments (as he understood them) of Darwin, Spencer, and
Huxley, putting Matthew Arnold severely in his place as "a back
number," rating Emerson as "a gross materialist," and himself as a
godly and spiritually minded favourite of Almighty God.

Margaret soon began to feel very restive under this continued deluge.
She would have liked a chance to cultivate the children, or to talk to
Lizzie and try to discover whether that good, sensible face had
anything behind it besides an evidently doting belief in her husband.

"Probably not," she mused, while Hiram continued to blow his trumpet.
"A merciful Providence, foreseeing her marriage to this unspeakable
ass, made her brainless.  Oh!  What would Uncle Osmond have done with a
creature like this Hiram?  What would happen, I wonder, if I said
'damn' before him?  If it weren't for the feelings of Daniel and his
sisters, I'd certainly try it on him.  If I find myself alone with him,
I'm _going_ to swear!  I'll swear at him!  I'll say, 'You little damn
fool!'"



XIII

It was not until the hour for leaving Millerstown, when Margaret was
taken by her hostess to an upstairs' bedroom to rearrange her hair
before starting, that she and Hiram's wife were given an opportunity
for a word together.  What, then, was her chagrin to have Lizzie at
once take up her husband's eulogistic harangue where he had left it off.

"Daniel and Jennie and Sadie always say their New Munich preacher seems
so slow and uninteresting after they've heard Hiram.  I guess you'll
think, too, next Sunday, their minister's a poor preacher towards what
Hiram is."

"I don't go to church _every_ Sunday.  To tell you the truth, Lizzie,
I'm not awfully fond of sermons."

"Oh, ain't you?  I do like a good sermon, the kind Hiram preaches."

"You never get tired of them?"

"Not of Hiram's," said Lizzie, shocked.

"Of course not of Hiram's," Margaret hastily concurred.

"Does Danny insist you go along to the U. B. Church, or do you attend
the Episcopal?"

"The Episcopalians are trying to gather me into their fold and Daniel
seems to want me to go there."

"It's so much more tony than at the U. B. Church," nodded Lizzie
understandingly.  "Yes, Danny often said already that if he hadn't a
brother that is a U. B. preacher, he'd join to the Episcopals.  But it
wouldn't look nice for him to leave the U. B's when Hiram's minister of
the U. B. Church, would it?"

"It wouldn't look nice for him to leave it for the other reason you
mentioned."

"That the Episcopals are so tony that way?  Well, but Danny thinks an
awful lot of that--if a thing is tony or not.  Don't _you_, too?  You
look as if you did."

"The word isn't in my vocabulary, Lizzie.  Let me have another look at
the baby before I go, won't you?"

"He looks like Hiram--ain't?" said the mother fondly as they stood
beside the crib in her bedroom and gazed down upon the sleeping infant.
"I hope he gives as smart a man as what his father is."

"But, Lizzie, don't you think the room is too close for him?" Margaret
gasped, loosening the fur at her throat in the stifling atmosphere of
the chamber.

"Yes," Lizzie whispered, "but Jennie and Sadie are so _old_-fashioned
that way, they think it's awful to have fresh air at a baby.  When they
go, I open up."

"But," asked Margaret, surprised, "why do you have to be
'old-fashioned' because they are?"

"Hush--sh!  They're coming upstairs to get their coats and hats.  A
person darsent go against them, especially Jennie.  Haven't you found
_that_ out yet?  I've been _wondering_ how you were getting on with
them; they'll want to boss you so!"

"Oh, I was bossed for nine years by the uncle with whom I lived, so
I've learned how to--I'm used to it," she judiciously returned.

"Do you think you can stick it out with them?" Lizzie whispered.
"Don't you think mebby one of these days they'll go _too_ far and
you'll answer them back?  And I guess they often bragged to you
already, didn't they--how they never get over an in_sult_?"

"I trust I shall never insult them!"

"Well, I'm as peaceable as most," said Lizzie, "but I often felt glad
already that we live a little piece away from Jennie and Sadie, though
I know I oughtn't to say it.'

"But I still don't see, Lizzie, why you keep this room air-tight
because they don't like fresh air," said Margaret, puzzled.  "Do you
mean you'd rather damage your baby than have them quarrel with you?"

"Well, I open up as soon as they go.  You see if they ever get mad at
me, they'd cut our children out of their will."

"Their will?  I thought Daniel supported them."

Lizzie stared incredulously.  "Danny supported them?" she repeated
hoarsely.  "Och, my souls!  You thought that!  As if he would!"

Lizzie looked so contemptuous of Margaret's intelligence that the
latter realized their opinion of each other's brilliancy was mutual.

"But," Margaret argued, "Daniel would have to support them if they were
penniless.  They are too old to support themselves."

"They have their own good incomes this long time already," stated
Lizzie.  "Do you mean to say," she asked wonderingly, "that you thought
they _hadn't_ anything and yet you didn't mind Daniel's keeping them at
his house with _you_ there?"

"Why should that make any difference to me--their 'having' anything?"

"Say!" said Lizzie, her dull eyes wide open.  "I always heard how in
the South it gives easy-going people, but I never thought they would be
_that_ easy-going!"

"Suppose _your_ husband wanted his sisters to live here," Margaret
asked curiously, "you would not consent to it?  You'd oppose Hiram,
would you?  I can't seem to see you doing that, Lizzie."

"But Hiram wouldn't want Jennie and Sadie to live here!  He'd know
better.  He'd know that, peaceable as I am, I couldn't hold out with
them; and to be sure, Hiram and I would both feel awful bad to have
them get down on us.  Why, they've got, anyhow, a hundred thousand
dollars apiece!"

"And wear near-seal coats," said Margaret thoughtfully, "and rhinestone
rings!  How queer!"

"Yes, ain't their coats grand?  They paid fifty dollars apiece for
them!  Maybe Danny will get you one like them some time."

"God forbid!  I'd get a divorce if he did!  Come, Lizzie, don't you be
a coward--let some air into this room.  I'll stand by you and take your
part!" she said, holding up her muff as if it were a revolver and
aiming toward the next room, in which they could hear the voices of
Jennie and Sadie.  "Advance at your peril!" she dramatically addressed
the closed door between the two rooms.

Lizzie stared in dumb wonder and slowly shook her head.  "No, I darsent
get Jennie mad at me.  Wait till you have a baby once and you will see
how they'll want to tell you the way to raise it.  You'll have to mind
them if you want your children to inherit from them."

"Oh, Lizzie, it doesn't pay to sell one's soul for a mess of pottage!"

Scarcely had she spoken when she looked for Lizzie to respond, "You
married Danny!"  But this bright retort did not apparently occur to
Lizzie, for she only stared at Margaret dumbly.

"Well," thought Margaret, "of course a woman who considered Hiram a
prize wouldn't think Daniel needed to be apologized for."

"Lizzie," she changed the subject abruptly, "have you ever seen your
husband's step-mother?"

"Once or twice or so, yes."

"I've been in New Munich two months and have not yet met her, though,
you know, she lives only fifteen miles away."

"Yes, well, but we don't associate with her much.  She's very plain and
common that way, and Jennie and Sadie are so proud and high-minded, you
know.  They're ashamed of their step-mother."

"And you, Lizzie, are you ashamed of her?"

"Oh, well, me, I'm not so proud that way.  But Hiram he would not like
for me to take up with her, he feels it so much that they have to leave
her live rent free in their old home when she ain't their own mother;
but Daniel and the girls won't put her to the poorhouse for fear it
would make talk, and that wouldn't do, you see, Daniel being such a
consistent church member and Hiram a minister.  She used to come here
to see us once in a while and Hiram used to be ashamed to walk with her
to the depot when she would go away, because she is a Mennonite and
dresses in the plain garb, and it _looks_ so for a United Brethren
minister to walk through the town with a Mennonite.  People would have
asked him, next time they saw him, who she was.  So he used to make
Naomi walk with her to the depot.  Naomi didn't like it either, she was
afraid her girl friends might laugh at her grandmother.  But her father
always made her go.  And then after a while grandmom she stopped coming
in to see us any more.  You see," Lizzie lowered her voice, "the
Leitzels don't want folks to know about their step-mother."

"Because she is 'plain and common?'"

"Yes, and because it could make trouble.  I don't rightly understand,
but I think they're afraid some one might put her up to bringing a
law-suit about the property.  But I tell Hiram he needn't be afraid of
that; no one could make her do anything against any of them, she's too
proud of them and she's such a good-hearted old soul, she wouldn't hurt
a cat."

Margaret was silently thoughtful as she drew on her gloves.

"About six months back," Lizzie continued, "she surprised us all by
coming in again to see us; it was so long since she'd been to see us,
we never looked for her.  And to be sure, we never encouraged her to
come, either, Hiram feeling the way he does.  Well, she come in to tell
us she didn't feel able to do for herself any more out there alone on
the old place--she supported herself raising vegetables in the
backyard--and now, she said, she's too old any more to do it, and
wouldn't we give her a home, or either Hiram, or either Danny and the
girls.  Well, the girls and Danny wouldn't hear to it.  Me, I said if
she was strong enough to help me with the work a little, I could send
off my hired girl and take her.  But Hiram said she wouldn't be able to
do the washing like our hired girl did, and we couldn't keep her _and_
the hired girl; and anyhow he couldn't have her living with us, her
being a Mennonite.  'It stands to reason!' Hiram said.  So she went
back home again and I haven't seen her since.  I pity her, too, livin'
alone out there, as old as what she is.  I can't think _how_ she makes
out, either!  What makes it seem so hard is that she was such a good,
kind step-mother to them all while they were poor, and it was only her
hard work that kept a roof over them for many years while their father
drank and didn't do anything for them."

Margaret still made no comment, though she was looking very grave and
thoughtful.

"Would it mebby make you ashamed, too," asked Lizzie, "before your
grand friends in New Munich, to have her 'round, she talks so Dutch and
ignorant?"

"No," Margaret shook her head, "I'm not 'proud and high-minded' like
Jennie and Sadie."

"Well," admitted Lizzie confidentially, "I'm not, either; I told Hiram
once, 'You have no need to feel ashamed of her.  Wasn't Christ's father
nothing but a carpenter?'  But Hiram answered me, 'Och, Lizzie, you're
dumb!  Joseph was no blood relation to Christ.'.  'Well,' I said,
'neither is your step-mother your blood relation.'"

"I suppose," Margaret speculated, "if their step-mother had money to
leave them, they wouldn't feel so 'high-minded' about her, would they?"

"Oh, no," Lizzie readily assented; "that would make all the difference!
But, you see, she hasn't a thing but what she gets from the vegetables
she can raise."

"I do begin to see," nodded Margaret.

"Danny never told us," Lizzie ventured tentatively, curiosity evidently
getting the better of delicacy, "what you're worth!"

"What I'm 'worth?'  He hasn't tried me long enough to find out.  But I
hope I'll be worth as much to him as you are to Hiram--giving him
children and making a home for him."

"But I mean," explained Lizzie, colouring a little at her own temerity,
but with curiosity oozing from every pore of her, "what did you _bring_
Danny?  I guess Jennie and Sadie told you already that I brought Hiram
thirty thousand.  And I'll get more when my father is deceased."

"Are both your parents living?" asked Margaret with what seemed to
Lizzie persistent evasion.

"My mother died last summer," she returned in a matter-of-fact, almost
cheerful tone of voice.  "Pop had her to Phil-delph-y and she got sick
for him, and he had to bring her right home, and in only half a day's
time, she was a corpse already!" said Lizzie brightly.

"As though she expected me to say, 'Hurrah!  Good for Mother!'" thought
Margaret wonderingly.

"_Did_ you inherit, too, from your parents?" persisted her inquisitor.

"All my virtues and all my vices, I believe," answered Margaret,
turning away and walking to the door.  "Shall we go down now?"

Lizzie took a step after her: "Maybe you think I spoke too soon?" she
asked anxiously.

"'Spoke too soon?'"

"Asking you what you're worth.  To be sure it ain't any of my business.
But I thought I'd ask you once.  Hiram would be so pleased if after you
go I could tell him.  He wonders so, did his brother Danny do as well
as he did.  But I guess I spoke too soon."

She paused expectantly.

"Never mind," said Margaret dully, again turning away.

"Say!" said Lizzie solicitously, "you look tired and a little pale.
Would you feel for a cup of tea before you go?"

"No thank you, Lizzie."

Just here the door opened softly and Jennie and Sadie came into the
room and went to the crib of the slumbering baby.

"Yes, he looks good," nodded Jennie approvingly.  "You have got the
room nice and warm, Lizzie.  Just you keep the air off of him and he'll
never get sick for you.  There's a doctor's wife lives near us and you
ought to see, Lizzie, the outlandish way she raises that baby!  Why,
any time you pass the house you can see the baby-coach out on the front
porch standing, whether it's cold _or_ warm!  A doctor's wife, mind
you, exposing her young baby like that!  Till they're anyhow eight
months old already, they shouldn't be taken into the air, winter or
summer.  If you didn't keep little Danny in the house all the time,
you'd soon see how he'd ketch cold for you!"

Lizzie looked at Margaret solemnly, with an expression that might have
been interpreted as a wink.

"He certainly is a fine boy!" murmured Sadie fondly, looking upon the
little pink and white baby with a vague yearning in her old face.

"Yes," said Jennie pensively, "babies are such nice little things.  I
often think it's such a pity there ain't a more genteel way of getting
them."

Lizzie nudged Margaret behind Jennie's back.

"It's a pity they have to grow up to be men," said Margaret.

As they all went downstairs, Lizzie held Margaret back for an instant
to whisper to her: "I don't know what loosened up my tongue to-day, to
say the things to you I did!  Hiram would be cross if he knew how free
I told you things."

"About his step-mother, you mean?"

"No, I mean about Jennie and Sadie.  You might go and _tell_ them what
I said!"

"Yes, I might, if I were the villainess of a play and wanted to make
them cut your children out of their wills!"

"You _won't_ tell, will you?" Lizzie pleaded.  "It ain't that _I'd_
care so much (though to be sure, I'd like to think the children would
inherit all they could), but it's Hiram would be so displeased at me
talking to you the way I did."

"Don't give yourself any anxiety, Lizzie; of course I shall not 'tell.'"

Margaret reflected, on the way home, as, quiet and rather white, she
leaned back in her seat in the train, pleading fatigue and a headache
to escape conversation, that this day, somehow, marked an epoch in her
understanding of the Leitzel family.  She had suddenly, after two
months of incredible obtuseness, recognized that they measured
everything in life--duty, friendship, religion, love--by just one thing.

"Yet Daniel married a dowerless wife!" she marvelled.

The wild suspicion crossed her mind that Walter might have misled
Daniel into thinking her an heiress, even as he had let her assume that
her lover was well-born.

But she was instantly ashamed of herself for even conceiving of such
treachery on Walter's part.



XIV

Sadie Leitzel looked as though she were about to collapse with the
pressure of all that she had to communicate to Jennie when next morning
she returned alone, at noon, from a shopping excursion upon which she
had started out just after breakfast with Margaret.

Dropping her bundles upon the centre table in the sitting-room, where
Jennie sat in the bay window darning Daniel's socks, she dropped
herself upon the sofa with a long breath of mingled excitement and
exhaustion.

"Well, did she get her dress?  And where is she at?" Jennie inquired.

"No, she didn't get her dress!" breathed Sadie, taking off, one by one,
her veil, gloves, hat, furs, overshoes, and coat.  "I guess she didn't
have an _intention_ of getting a dress when she started out with me!  I
had the hardest time to get her to even look at their things at
Fahnestock's.  She seems to think, Jennie, that New Munich hasn't
anything good enough for her to wear!"

"Did she say that?" demanded Jennie.

"Well, when she had only just gave a careless glance at some of their
_ready_-made evening dresses, she shook her head and said to me,
'There's nothing here; I'll have to wait until I go to Philadelphia
some time.'  And when I wanted her, then, to get goods and take it to
Miss Snyder, she said Fahnestock's had such a cheap, poor quality of
goods, not worth making up!"

"Well," pronounced Jennie, "I guess if our New Munich stores are good
enough for you and me, they're plenty good enough for as plain a
dresser as what she is!  Our clothes are a lot dressier than hers!  The
idea!"

"Yes, the very idea!"

"And after Danny's telling her he _wanted_ her to have a new dress!
And me telling her that her dresses that she's got give us all a shamed
face!"

"All she got new for herself," said Sadie, "was another pair of those
long white kid gloves at four-fifty a pair.  I told her silk ones would
do just as good, and them you can wash.  But she didn't listen to me;
she just took my hand and held it out to the saleslady and told her to
measure it and," added Sadie, a veiled pleasure coming into her eyes,
"she got _me_ a pair of long white kid gloves, too, and paid for them
out of that twenty-dollar check Danny gave her!"

"Oh!" cried Jennie, shocked, "when Danny gave it to her for a dress
yet!  What'll he say anyhow?"

"She knows he's so crazy about her, she don't seem afraid to do
anything!" said Sadie.

"He'll soon stop giving her money if she spends it on other ones
instead of for what he tells her to buy!"

"Yes, I guess!  But me--I never had any long white kid gloves before,
Jennie!" Sadie could not repress her beaming pleasure.  "They'll feel
grand, I guess."

"Four-fifty is too much to put into a pair of gloves; your white silk
ones would do plenty good enough."

"But she got you a pair, too, Jennie!  Here they are," added Sadie,
fumbling among her packages on the table.  "She asked me your size and
got you a pair, too."

"I won't wear them!  I'll get the money back and give it to Danny!"
declared Jennie, who, according to her lights, was as scrupulous as she
was "close."  "It ain't right to Danny for her to squander his money
like that.  My gracious!  Thirteen-fifty for just gloves!  You ought to
take yours back, too, Sadie!"

"But the saleslady tried one of mine on and stretched them," returned
Sadie, not very regretfully.  "And mind, Jennie," she hastily diverted
her sister from her suggestion, "mind what she did with the rest part
of the twenty dollars!"

"What?" demanded Jennie.

"She spent every cent of it buying presents for her sister's children
in Charleston!  When I told her Danny wouldn't like it at all for her
to do that, she said, 'Oh, but Daniel loves my little nephew and
nieces; he will be glad to have me send them something from us both';
and she put in the package a card, 'From Daniel and Margaret for the
three dearest babies in the world.'"

"My souls!" Jennie exclaimed.  "What'll Danny say yet--her using up all
that twenty dollars and nothing to show for it!"

"Except three pairs of white kid gloves."  Sadie shook her head
pensively, but still with a covert gleam of pleasure in her own share
of the "rake-off."

"Well," said Jennie with emphasis, "I'll certainly give her a piece of
my mind!  Where is she at?"

"She said as it was twelve o'clock, she'd go to Danny's office and walk
home with him for dinner; and what do you think she gave me as her
reason for doing that?"

"Well, what?"

"She said she wanted a chance to see that Hamilton girl again that
works for our Danny!  Did you ever?--when we all _told_ her already she
can't associate with Danny's clerk!"

"Well, Sadie," said Jennie grimly, "Margaret's easy-going and she
thinks we're the same.  She'll have to learn her mistake, that's all.
She ain't going to run with that Hamilton girl, and that's all there is
to it!  Enough said!"

"Och, Jennie, if you'd been along this morning you'd have wondered at
her the way she acts, speaking so awful friendly and pleasant to the
girls that waited on us in the store and even saying, 'Thank you, my
dear,' to a little cash-girl!  Yes, making herself that familiar!  And
then when Mrs. Congressman Ocksreider come along through the store and
I poked Margaret that she should stop and speak to her, Margaret just
nodded and walked right a-past her, though you could see that Mrs.
Ocksreider was going to stop and talk to us!  And, Jennie, I wanted the
store-girls to see us conversing with Mrs. Ocksreider.  I would have
stopped and talked with her myself, _whether_ or no, but she looked mad
and sailed right a-past me the way Margaret had sailed a-past _her_,
and I heard two girls at the button counter tittering and saying, 'Did
you ever get left?'  I was so cross at Margaret, I told her, 'You
hardly spoke to her and she's Mrs. Congressman Ocksreider and worth a
half a million dollars!' and Margaret answered me, 'I didn't think she
was worth two cents any time I've talked with her.  But if she's a
member of Congress!  Why, Sadie, you are deceiving me, Pennsylvania is
not yet a Suffrage state!' she said, and I told her I didn't say it was
and certainly hoped it never would be.  'But,' I said, 'that's neither
here nor there, whether Pennsylvania's a Suffrage state!  What _I_ wish
is that if you have to cut any one, let it be cash-girls and not our
most high-toned lady-friends,' I said."

"And what," asked Jennie, "did she answer to _that_?"

"She said, 'Oh, Sadie, I feel quite too humble to want to 'cut' _any_
one, even pretentious people like your Congressman's ordinary little
wife!'  'Well,' I said.  '_You're_ got no need to feel humble, now that
you're married to our _Danny_!'  But, Jennie," said Sadie, looking
bewildered, "think of calling Mrs. Ocksreider 'ordinary little wife!'"

"Well, I think!  It was enough to give you the headache, Sadie, such a
morning as you've had!"

"But _do_ you think, mebby," Sadie asked, a little awe-struck, "that
Governors are higher than Congressmen--Margaret thinking herself better
than Mrs. Ocksreider yet!"

"It would look that way," said Jennie, also impressed.

"Here she and Danny come!" Jennie announced at the sound of the opening
of the front door.  "They're _laughing_; so I guess he don't know yet
about that twenty dollars!"

"And I guess she listened to me after all," added Sadie, "about going
in there to his office and acting familiar with Miss Hamilton, or else
Danny wouldn't be _laughing_ with her!"

Had they known what had really taken place in Daniel's office while
they had been sitting here discussing Margaret (who, to tell the truth,
was far more of an enigma to them than they were to her), they would
have considered Daniel's laughter, just now, as he entered the house
with her, to be nothing short of lunacy.

A half-hour earlier Daniel, on returning to his private office from a
tour of inspection through his other offices, had heard, to his
surprise, from the adjoining room where his secretary was supposed to
be working, her voice in earnest conversation with some one.  The door
between his room and hers was ajar and he could distinctly hear what
she was saying, the character of which was so far removed from any
phase of the legal business of his office that Daniel was dumbfounded.
It was sacrilege to introduce here anything that did not pertain
strictly to the work of the firm.

"The religious introspection," Miss Hamilton was saying, "so widely
engendered by Emerson's writings in men and women of a high type, has
come to seem to us, in these days, rather morbid; we consider it as
unwholesome, now, to think too much about our spiritual, as about our
physical, health.  Then, too, the struggle for existence being sharper,
people have less time to sit down and investigate their souls; they've
got to keep going, or be left behind in the race."

"In their effort to win in the race, however--what they call
winning--they're very likely to lose their own souls; and 'What
profiteth it a man?'" spoke another voice in reply, a voice that
brought a quick flush to Daniel's face; a flush of strangely mingled
emotions: of anger that she was here with his secretary, and of the joy
with which the sound of her voice, the mere ripple of her skirts, never
failed to thrill him.

"The art of Mrs. Humphry Ward," Miss Hamilton was again speaking (he
had missed a connecting link through the shock of discovering
Margaret's presence), "has been a steady, upward growth and
development: every novel produced by her is more artistic than its
predecessor.  But though her art is now at its climax, she is no longer
read as she used to be, because her point of view is one that the world
has passed by; the women of her books are the ideal feminine creations
of fifty years ago and they don't interest us any longer.  Now most of
us have not yet grown up to Bernard Shaw's point of view, yet we are
nearer to him than to Mrs. Ward.  To my mind the whole feminist problem
is an economic one.  No man or woman can be spiritually free who is
economically dependent, Emerson and Marcus Aurelius and the Christian
Scientists to the contrary notwithstanding.  Even the vote isn't going
to help women until they make up their minds to 'get off of men's
backs,' as Charlotte Perkins Gilman says."

"How about married women who are bearing children?" asked Margaret.
"They've got to be financially dependent on some one."

"Since the state does not support women who are giving citizens to it
and who are thereby disabled from self-support, they should have a
legal right over a fair proportion of their husband's income."

"But in America men don't need to be coerced by laws to treat women
generously," suggested Margaret.

"That's your Southern idea.  A self-respecting human being does not
want generosity; she does not want to stretch out her hand and ask for
what she needs.  It is humiliating, degrading.  Fancy a grown woman
asking a man, '_May_ I buy a hat to-day?'  I'd rather take in stairs to
scrub!"

"Well," Margaret returned, "I shall educate _all_ my daughters to
professions, because, quite apart from the economic side of it, women
become such drivelling fools when they live in aimless idleness, when
they have no definite interest in life.  And they are so discontented
and restless.  An occupation, an interest, surely makes for happiness
and for a higher personal development."

"I believe," said Miss Hamilton, "that a mother wrongs a daughter, just
as much as she would wrong a son, when she fails to educate her for a
self-supporting occupation.  Look at these women of New Munich who live
only to kill time--how they lack the personal dignity, the character,
that a life of service, of _producing_, gives to either man or woman!
Of course mere work doesn't ennoble--beasts of burden can work--it's
work that vitally interests us, as you say, and that we love for its
own sake, that is the joy and health of any soul."

"Do you love being Mr. Leitzel's secretary like that?"

"Of course not.  Being Mr. Leitzel's secretary is two thirds drudgery
and only one third humanly interesting.  I'm threatening to take to the
platform to expound the Truth that women who have to support themselves
are invariably overworked, while women who live on men haven't enough
to do to keep them wholesome.  Middle-aged married women, for instance,
whose children are grown up, go almost insane for want of an interest
in life.  No wonder human creatures so situated grow fretful and petty
and small-souled."

"Perhaps the window-smashing Suffragette is only reacting from too long
want of occupation," suggested Margaret.  "The emptiness of her life
makes her hysterical and she shrieks with rage and throws things!  But,
my dear, why do you, clever as you are, remain in a position that is
two thirds drudgery?  Drudgery is for dull people, who of course prefer
it to work that would tax them to think."

"It is a stepping-stone for me to the bigger work I shall some day do,
Mrs. Leitzel."

"What is that?"

"Something splendid!" Miss Hamilton responded in a voice of quite
girlish delight.  "Something in which you shall have a share, if you
will, a very big share!  I'll tell you all about it one of these days.
We haven't time now.  It's lunch time and I have only a half-hour."

"When can we get together again?" Margaret eagerly asked.  "I am just
living for these times with you!"

"And you must know," responded Miss Hamilton with feeling, "what they
mean to me, starved as I've been for companionship in a place like New
Munich!  Well, I'm free every evening.  And we could take walks any
afternoon between five and seven that you were not engaged."

"Then as soon as people have finished giving parties in my honour, I
shall be free to be with you as much as you'll let me be, Miss
Hamilton.  I shan't have to go to parties that are not given specially
for me."

"Of course not.  You couldn't keep it up.  For a woman like you it
would be too deadly."

This, to Daniel, was a new and upsetting point of view; he was so sure
that all women in Miss Hamilton's position were envious of the social
rioting of women placed as his wife was.  And here was Margaret
planning to discard "society" for evenings and rambles with his
stenographer!  As if Miss Hamilton were not uppish enough already from
her constant offers of higher salaries!  Why, even as it was, he could
hardly put up with her air of independence; and if he permitted his
wife to take her up as an intimate friend--well, of course he would
have to emphatically put a stop to the thing.  He thought he had
expressed himself definitely enough to Margaret last Saturday while
they were automobiling, but evidently he had not.

"I'll make myself unmistakably clear this time!" he resolved.  "I'll
let Margaret know that I am not accustomed to having my wishes set
aside as of no importance!"



XV

Ten minutes later he and Margaret sat facing each other from either
side of his flat-topped office-desk.

Miss Hamilton's conscience-clear self-possession as she had passed
through his office to go to her luncheon, and his wife's equally
guiltless aspect as she had greeted him with cheerful affection, had
been a little disarming, it is true, to his determined purpose.  But
Daniel was not readily diverted from a line he had decided upon, and
Margaret's easy indifference to his expressed wish as to her
associating with Miss Hamilton had aroused his obstinacy.  And Daniel's
obstinacy was a snag to be reckoned with.

So, seated opposite her at his desk, he had expounded to her very
forcibly his reasons for prohibiting any social relations whatever with
any one of his office staff.

"And now," he concluded his harangue, "I _lay my command_ upon you, my
dear."

"Oh, but, my dear!" laughed Margaret, "that's rather absurd, you know!
Now listen, Daniel.  If you warned me against Miss Hamilton as a person
who was immoral or illiterate or ill-bred, I should of course see the
reasonableness of your objection to her.  But when she is really
superior in every respect to every one of the people you do want me to
be intimate with: better born, better bred, more intelligent; when my
intimacy with her is going to mean to me more than I have words to
express--a close friendship with a congenial and stimulating mind and
character--you can't expect me to give it up for such reasons as you
offer me, Daniel, chief among them being that she works for her living.
But in the South we are so used, since the war, to seeing gentlewomen
work for their living, and we are so unused to meeting, socially,
people like the Ocksreiders and the Millers, who tell me (one of them
did) that her house is 'het by steam' and who say, 'Outen the
light'--well, dear, you see," she concluded, rising, "it is ridiculous
to discuss it.  Let us go home to luncheon."

"Sit down, Margaret."

"But I'm famishing, Daniel.  I'm weak with hunger.  You'll have to take
me home in a taxicab if you don't take me soon."

"Sit down!  You've got to promise to obey me in this matter, Margaret."

"Oh!" her voice rippled with laughter, "this is the twentieth century
A.D., not B.C., Daniel.  You're mixed in your dates!  And you seem to
forget you married me, you didn't adopt me."

"You must drop at once any further relations with my secretary."

"But, dear," she exclaimed in surprise, "haven't I yet made it clear to
you that I don't intend to?"

"I am accustomed to being obeyed, Margaret!"

"By whom?  Your wives?"

"Come, come, I want your promise."

"Daniel," she plead with him, "please don't be so tiresome!  I am sure
that you, clever lawyer that you are, must recognize that my position
is quite impregnable and yours weak and indefensible, asking me to be
friends with people who 'outen the light' and to cut one with whom I
can have such improving conversations as that to which you
ignominiously listened just now!  Why didn't you honourably close your
door?  Could you _understand_ our deep remarks, Daniel?"

"I'm waiting for your promise, Margaret."

Again Margaret rose.  "I'm hungry and I'm going home."

"Margaret," said Daniel incredulously, "surely you are not deliberately
refusing what I ask of you?"

"As surely as I'd refuse to walk a tight-rope at your behest, my lord."

"You defy me?" he asked quietly, his lips white.

It was her turn, now, to look incredulous.  "But, Daniel, how can you
take it to heart like this?  How can you suppose yourself better
qualified than I am to choose my friends?  Next thing," she laughed,
"you'll be telling me what books I may not read!"

"Do you intend to obey me?"

"I hope I know my wifely duty too well to spoil you, my dear.  'Obey'
you indeed!"  She tweaked the tip of his nose derisively.

"You will obey me, Margaret, or----"  He paused helplessly.

"Obey me!" she mocked him, "or die, woman!  Well, Daniel, if it comes
to force"--she looked at her pink finger nails--"I can scratch!"

She suddenly bent and kissed his forehead.  "Do come home!"

"When I've had your promise."

"Daniel, a woman in these days who 'obeys' her husband ought to be
ostracized, or arrested and confined in an institution for dangerous
lunatics!"

Daniel looked at her meditatively.  "I'm certainly up against it!" he
was saying to himself.  "I could be firm against tears or temper; but
when she just jokes about it and laughs at me and goes on doing as she
pleases, what can I do with her?"

"Margaret," he said, "I've never quarrelled with any one in my life,
but," he added, a little icy gleam in his eyes that did chill her for
the moment, "I've _always had my own way_!"

"Which has, of course, been dreadfully bad for you.  It's well you've
married a wife that is going to be _very firm_ with you!"

Daniel bit his lip to keep from laughing.  Not for an instant did he
think of yielding.  The difficulty of the situation served only to
aggravate his obstinacy.  There was more than one way of getting a
thing, and Daniel was not at all above resorting to cunning.  Half the
successes of his career had been the result of his cunning.  He did not
call it that; he named it subtlety, far-sightedness.

"I want to ask you something, Margaret; sit down."

She sighed and dropped again into the chair opposite him.

"You bought your new dress--frock--gown, this morning?"

She shook her head, too weary and hungry to speak.

"You didn't?"

"I told you I didn't intend to get anything."

"But we all told you to!  _I_ wish you to!"

"Can't get anything in New Munich.  Don't suppose you'd want me to go
to Philadelphia or Lancaster just now, for a gown, with the expense of
the party on your hands?"

"That would be an unnecessary extravagance."

"I shall buy no clothes in this village while I have what I have."

"And that twenty dollars I gave you?"

"What about it?"

"I gave it to you for a gown."

"_I_ know you did.  But I told you last Saturday I didn't want one."

"Did you cash the check?"

"Yes."

"Where is the money?"

"Spent."

"What!  Spent for _what_?"

"Oh, Daniel, you _busy_body!  Well, it was spent for kid gloves and
presents for Hattie's babies from you and me.  We needed the gloves; I
didn't need a gown; you seemed anxious to have me squander twenty
dollars, so I sent six dollars' worth of things to the babies in
Charleston."

"Without consulting me!"

"But there was nothing to consult about.  And you seemed so determined
to have me spend twenty dollars."

"For a frock."

Margaret flopped her head wearily on her hand and did not answer.

"You say 'we' needed the gloves.  Did you buy _me_ some?  I don't need
any."

"I bought some for Jennie and Sadie," she answered mechanically.

Daniel's face turned red.  "What did you spend on _them_?"

"I don't know--twice four-fifty.  _You_ multiply it."

"Nine dollars for gloves for them!  Good heavens!  But, Margaret, they
have their _own_ money."

"That's nice of them--I mean for them.  Ah, Daniel, won't you come
home?"

"The time has come, Margaret, when you and I must come to an
understanding about your--your income."

"Won't it do after dinner?"

"It is a matter for private discussion and we are here alone now.  Let
us settle it.  In the first place," he said impressively, "it is time
that _I_ took over the management of your finances.  Does Walter have
them in charge?"

"Daniel," said Margaret gravely, a faint colour coming to her cheeks,
"Walter surely did not give you to understand that _I_ had any money?"

"No.  _You_ did."

"I?  How?"

"You said you were one of your uncle's heirs."

"Only to the old homestead, Berkeley Hill.  Nothing else."

They looked at each other across the table, Daniel's small, keen eyes
meeting steadily her faintly troubled ones.

"Did you think I had money, Daniel?"

"What is the homestead supposed to be worth and how many heirs are
there?"

"Hattie and I own it.  I don't know what it is worth.  It is awfully
out of repair, you know."

"But Walter pays you rent, of course, for your share in it?"

"Oh, no, he couldn't afford to."

"Couldn't afford to?  When they live like millionaires!  Oriental rugs,
a butler to wait on the table, solid silver, and expensive
china--anyway, it _looked_ expensive.  And they can't afford to pay you
rent?"

"All those things were inherited, Daniel, along with the place, the
butler included."

"Then _you_ own those rugs and that silver and china?"

"Jointly with my sister, yes."

"But that's property, Margaret.  How, then, are you receiving your
share?"

"I'm not receiving it."

"Why not?  I hate that slipshod Southern way of doing business!  You
ought, of course, to be drawing an income from your half of that place."

"But it yields no income."

"Isn't any of the land cultivated?"

"The land consists of two square miles of woodland about the house.
Walter says the place, as it is, couldn't even be rented; and none of
us have any money to spend in fixing it up; so there you are.  It's a
home for Hattie's family, that's all."

"Gracious!"

"Is it a shock to you to find me penniless?" asked Margaret gravely.
"Wouldn't you have married me if you had known?"

She was acutely conscious of the fact that since she had married him
for a home, she certainly could not judge him very critically if he
_had_ married her for a supposed fortune.

Daniel looked at her speculatively.  Would he have married her if he
had known?  Well, he was pretty certain that he would have; that at
that time, incredible as it might seem, her charm for him outmeasured
any dower a wife might have brought him.  But now?  Did he rue his
"blind and headlong" (so he considered it) yielding to her fascination?

His eyes swept over her appraisingly, over her dark hair, her soft dark
eyes, the curve of her red lips, her broad, boyish shoulders, her fine
hands clasped on the top of the desk, and he knew that he adored her.
Not even in the face of the shock he felt at learning of her
pennilessness, and on the head of her audacious defiance of his wishes,
could he regret for an instant that she was his--his very own.  And it
suddenly came to him, with a force that sent the blood to his face,
that her being comparatively penniless (for of course he'd insist on
getting _some_thing out of that Berkeley Hill estate), her present
absolute dependence upon him made her all the more his own, his
property, subject to his will.  If she were penniless, he held her in
his power.  It was with the primitive instinct of a savage that he
gloated over his possession, the most precious of all his possessions.

"I shall teach her this much about the value of money (of which she
seems as ignorant as a child): that the price of her board and clothing
is obedience to me!"

"Yes, Margaret," he at length replied, "I would have married you if I
had known you were penniless.  I married you because I loved you."

She did not tell him that there he had the advantage of her.  She
envied him his clear conscience in the matter.  A shade of respect for
him came into her countenance as she looked at him, a respect she could
not feel for herself on the same score.

He took a small blank book from his desk and a crisp ten-dollar bill
from his purse and laid them before her.

"This is the first of the month, I shall give you ten dollars a month
for pocket money, and you will keep an account of your expenditures in
this book and show it to me at the first of each month.  Anything you
need to buy which this allowance won't cover you can ask me about.  You
seem to know nothing of the value of money, and it's time you learned.
I can't trust you with more than a small sum, since you at once go off
and squander it on other people instead of spending it for yourself--or
for what you were told to spend it for.  No more of that, my dear!
Your allowance is for your own needs.  When you want to make gifts, you
consult me."

She dropped the money into her bag, but she did not pick up the blank
book.

Daniel took it up and held it out to her.  She hesitated, but dreading
further discussion with him if she informed him that she had no
intention of accounting to him, like a school-girl, for her use of ten
dollars a month, she tucked the book also into her bag.

"You must sign over to me the power of attorney to collect rent from
your brother-in-law for your half of that estate.  I shall look into
the matter, and if I feel that the property justifies it, I'll expend
some money on it, and then we can rent it at a high rate, too high,
probably, for Walter's means.  He'll have to move out and live
elsewhere."

Again she did not contradict him, while she privately determined to
write to Walter herself that very day and warn him that she was not a
party to any suggestions which Daniel might make as to Berkeley Hill.

And Daniel was privately telling himself that it would not be any time
at all before he would contrive to get over into his own hands that
entire estate.

"Also," he said to her, "I shall claim for you one half of all the
contents of the house, the books, pictures, china, silver,
furniture----"

"Butler," inserted Margaret.

"Well, we'll leave them the butler," grinned Daniel.  "He appeared to
be more out of repair than anything else on the place."

The bare suggestion of bringing their family heirlooms into such a
setting as that of Daniel's New Munich house seemed to Margaret like
horrible sacrilege.

"I'd like to see anybody make Harriet strip Berkeley Hill of half its
belongings!" she smiled.

"But if half its belongings are _yours_?"

"Uncle Osmond never meant them to be taken from the old home."

"His will doesn't say so, does it?"

"Of course not.  He gave us credit for a few decent feelings."

Daniel regarded her in perplexity.  How was it that she could weakly
let herself be so absurdly imposed upon by her sister and
brother-in-law as to her own property, all she had in the world, and
yet, when it came to a matter like this of his secretary, be so hard to
manage by a man of his resolution?

"He gave you credit, too, it seems, for having no business sense.
Well, fortunately for you, you've got _me_ to take care of that end for
you now.  I'll make that estate _yield_ something to your sister's
advantage as well as yours.  And now," he concluded, rising, slipping
into his overcoat, and picking up his hat, "just one more word:
understand, my dear, that when you act like a naughty, disobedient,
small girl"--he punctuated his words by tapping her shoulder with his
derby--"you will be treated like one and have your allowance cut off.
Eh?  So I trust we'll hear no more of this nonsense about my secretary."

"I trust so, too."

"Good!"

"But," added Margaret as they went forth together to the street, "I
don't just see how you're going to get out of supporting your legal
wife, so long as I consent to _let_ you support me."

"You 'consent' to _let_ me?  Now what do you mean by that nonsense?
Some of that 'Feminist' talk, is it, that Miss Hamilton was trying to
stuff you with?"

"Never mind," said Margaret.  "I won't explain what I mean, for if I
do, you'll begin to argue with me; and I refuse to argue any more about
anything until I have had a good, square meal."

And so it was that in spite of the revelations of the past hour in
Daniel's office, and the talk so illuminating to them both, Jennie and
Sadie had the surprise of hearing them come into the house together,
laughing and talking as though nothing whatever had occurred to call
for their brother's solemn displeasure with his heedless and
irresponsible wife.



XVI

Margaret did not, of course, think for an instant of giving up her
friendship with Catherine Hamilton; but when she suggested the Hamilton
family and a few other people whom she liked, but whose names were not
on the invitation list, be invited to their big reception, she met with
an opposition to which she was obliged to yield.

"To invite such folks as those Hamiltons, that don't even own their own
home, _little_ as it is--well, it would just lower the tone of the
party, that's all!" Jennie pronounced.

"But I'll be responsible for keeping up the tone of the party!"
Margaret gayly volunteered.

She quickly recognized, however, that in a matter like this,
coöperation or compromise between the Leitzels and her was impossible
and that she must stand aside and let them give their party in their
own way.  She carried her self-obliteration so far as to even refrain
from suggesting, on the auspicious day of the party, the removal from
the dining-room sideboard of the life-sized, navy-blue glass owl which
was a water pitcher, and the two orange-coloured glass dishes that
stood on easels on either side of the owl.

She did spend rather a troubled half-hour in wondering how, since the
invitations were of course in her name and Daniel's, Catherine Hamilton
would regard the fact that she was not invited.  But the absurdity of
the Leitzels' delusion that they could withhold or bestow social
recognition upon her friend must be so manifest to Catherine that
surely she could not take it seriously.  It seemed to Margaret that to
let this trifling, vulgar episode cast even a shadow upon the ideal
friendship into which she and Catherine were growing was to belittle
and dishonour it.

"I can't offer her any explanation.  I can only trust to her
large-minded understanding of my situation."

She had an uncomfortable consciousness that it was a situation which
Catherine herself would not have tolerated.

"Even 'Hiram's Lizzie' considers it unbearable," she reflected.  "Why,
I can't offer any least hospitality to any one unless my sisters-in-law
approve of the individual!  I can't ask Catherine Hamilton to dine or
lunch with me!  Which means, of course, that I can't accept her
hospitality.  It's rather grotesque!"

Yet when she considered how devotedly Daniel's sisters served him, how
minutely they attended to every little detail of his comfort, in a way
most men, she was sure, would have found harassing, but which to Daniel
seemed essential to his well-being, she knew that he would never be
able, without great misery, to live apart from them, and that he
certainly would not entertain the idea for a moment.

"And as for them, their occupation, their purpose in life, would be
taken from them, if they didn't have Daniel to fuss over."

Two days before the date of the reception the evening papers gave New
Munich a lurid description, furnished by Jennie and Daniel, of every
detail of it, the Philadelphia caterer and the Lancaster florist being
advertised in headlines that made Margaret's flesh creep.  She had a
vision of the consternation of her Charleston relatives should they
ever see that paper, and she was thankful that the distance that
separated her from them precluded the possibility of their learning of
her association with such blatant vulgarity--unless (awful thought!)
Daniel should be visited with the idea of mailing them a marked copy!

When, the next afternoon, Margaret was out for a country walk with
Catherine Hamilton after office hours, she decided that it would be
better to refer casually to the prospective party, rather than so
obviously avoid mentioning it.

"Fancy me to-morrow night, Catherine, lined up with Mr. Leitzel and his
sisters for two or three hours to shake hands with over one hundred
people and make to each one precisely the same inspired remark: 'Mrs.
Blank, how do you do?  I am glad to see you.  I am so glad you got
here!'  If I could only vary it a bit!  But no, I shall have to say
those self-same words exactly one hundred and seven times.  Isn't it
deplorable?"

A faint tremor in her voice as she asked the question caused her friend
to turn and look into her face; and something in the strained
expression of the beautiful eyes which Catherine Hamilton was growing
to love moved this rather austere young woman to a sudden pity; for
Catherine, though a girl of keen wit and of a strong, independent
spirit, was full of feeling; a combination of qualities which gave her
a charm for those of her own sex that she did not have for men.

Obeying an impulse of her heart, she suddenly stopped in the woodsy
path where they walked, put her arms around Margaret and clasped her
close.

And Margaret, at the unexpected touch of understanding love, almost the
first she had ever known in her life, held herself rigid in her
friend's embrace that she might not burst into passionate crying, while
she clenched her teeth to choke down the pent-up emotion which in this
moment could hardly keep its bounds.

She released herself quickly, and for an instant turned away.

When she again spoke, her voice was even and natural.  She had not let
herself shed one betraying tear.

"You promised to tell me, Catherine, about that career of yours, you
know, to which your present work is a stepping-stone, and what _my_
part is to be in it."

Catherine, eager to launch forth upon her hobby to her new friend,
glowed with enthusiasm as she talked.

"I have come from a race, Margaret, that for generations have been
teachers, college professors, ministers, public school
superintendents--the pedagogue seems to be born in every one of us.
And it's in me strong.  So I am going to devote my life to the
establishing of a school for girls in which all the training shall
converge to one ideal--that of service--as over against that of the
usual finishing school, whatever that ideal is!  And, Margaret, here's
my point: I'm going to make my school fashionable, a formidable rival
of those futile, idiotic institutions in which girls from the country
are taught how they must enter a drawing-room or step into an
automobile, and are quite incidentally instructed, cautiously and
delicately, in every 'branch' in the whole category of learning, so
that they may be able to 'converse' on any subject whatever without
betraying the awful depths of their ignorance!--the vast expanse of
their shallowness.  My school shall teach girls that life is meant for
earnest work, because work means physical and spiritual health and
happiness.  My school shall make girls ashamed to admit they've ever
been to the other sort of 'finishing' school.  It's going to put that
sort of school out of business, Margaret!  I tell you, the coming woman
is going to be the efficient woman.  The unqualified of our sex will
take a back seat, just as unqualified men do."

"I'm of course entirely in sympathy with your idea, Catherine, but I
hope your 'service' education includes home-making and motherhood.
Leave us a few of the old-fashioned women, won't you?"

"My dear, don't worry about homes and husbands and babies.  It is the
futile fashionable woman, not the disciplined, thoughtful, college-bred
woman, that refuses to have children.  I've never known an earnest
woman that didn't love children and yearn for motherhood.  The trouble
is, men are afraid of the earnest kind.  They marry the frivolous,
parasitical women, who live upon them like lotus flowers, sapping their
vitality and giving nothing in return.  Yet you'll find men opposing
college education for women, not realizing that a woman who has stood
the discipline of a college course has developed a force of character
that does not shrink for a moment from the further discipline and
burden of motherhood, but welcomes it as her privilege and blessing,
while the so-called 'society woman' will none of it.  You know,"
Catherine continued, "in the days when home-making was necessarily an
absorbing occupation, it lent to women a dignity of character quite
wanting in our present-day large class of feminine parasites, a class
that has grown out of the new and easier domestic conditions and the
too-great concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.  That's the
explanation of woman's latter-day restlessness; she's fighting against
the deterioration which comes with idleness and too-easy conditions of
life.  She's fighting for her very life!  _That's_ what the 'feminist
movement' means."

"And my part in your fine scheme?" asked Margaret, her face glowing
with responsive enthusiasm.

"As a rich and influential woman, you will countenance and patronize my
school; perhaps send me your daughters; be a stock-holder in it; you
can even be fitting yourself, meantime, if you like, to be a teacher in
it."

"But, Catherine--'rich and influential?'  I?  I am neither!"

Catherine looked at her curiously.  "What do you call 'rich,' Margaret?"

"Oh, I don't know.  I've never handled money in my life.  I've always
had everything I actually required right at my hand.  I am afraid I am
absurdly ignorant about money.  I never had any of my own."

As Margaret spoke, she glanced up to meet in Catherine's eyes a
puzzled, questioning expression which she failed to interpret.

"But surely you know that Mr. Leitzel is very rich?" said Catherine.

"It is such a relative term.  My sister's family think themselves
awfully poor, but they live more comfortably and spend money more
freely than the Leitzels do.  Of course I understand that you
Northerners are all more frugal than Southerners are," she ended
vaguely.

Catherine laughed oddly.  "You _are_ an innocent!"

"I'm beginning to realize that I am," nodded Margaret, feeling a
something behind Catherine's tone and countenance that she did not
quite get.

"I might have been reared in a convent for all I've seen of life,
Catherine."

"Yet you've not lacked the essentials," returned Catherine with evident
relief at turning the talk from the subject of money.

"The essentials to what?"

"To making you a truly fine and charming woman.  You've lived in an
environment of culture, of big ideas; and you've had no sordid money
cares to embitter you or blunt the sensitive fineness of your spirit."

"But my life has lacked one great essential, Catherine--affection,
love."

"Your uncle must have loved you, dear, he _must_ have.  For you are
lovable, you know.  Well, rather!"

"He loved me as his handmaid who kept him comfortable.  If ever I tried
to be affectionate with him, he would act like a hyena!"

"If he was human, he loved you!"

"He wasn't human, that was it.  He had all run to intellect and hadn't
a vulnerable spot left."

"Did you love _him_?"

"I wanted to, but he wouldn't have it.  When he died, I did miss him
keenly, he had grown to be a habit with me; a stimulant, too.  No one
could live with Uncle Osmond and not keep very much alive.  So of
course my life seemed suddenly very empty without him: he had been my
chief care and thought for so many years.  I suppose I shall never
quite get over missing him.  But I can't say I ever really grieved for
him."

When about a half-hour later, at the end of an exhilarating and
satisfying time together which put a new seal upon their friendship,
the two young women parted to go to their homes, Catherine considered,
as she walked slowly, to give herself time to think, how strange it was
that she, as Mr. Daniel Leitzel's confidential secretary, knew so very
much more about him and his affairs than did his own wife.

"She actually does not know that she has married a multi-millionaire.
And I don't believe it would impress her greatly to discover that she
had.  She _is_ unique!  For a woman like Margaret to find herself tied
up with those Leitzels, oh!"  Catherine laughed to herself at what
seemed to her the extreme absurdity of the combination.  "But it is so
tragic, too!  Why on earth did she marry him if not for his money?
Will she, I wonder, ever reach the point of telling me why she did?
No," she shook her head conclusively, "not so long as she continues to
live with him will any one ever hear one disloyal syllable from her,
I'm sure.  If she ever came to the point of rectifying by divorce the
blunder she made in marrying him, for whatever mysterious reason, then
perhaps she'll explain herself to me."

Catherine wondered how long it would take Margaret to find out that she
was married to one of the richest men in the state.

"If I ever see her inconvenienced by lack of funds, I'll enlighten her
with some facts and figures known only to her husband and myself," she
resolved.  "Even I don't know all he has, though I do know what the
public doesn't dream of."

She was aware that her employer had, before ever trusting her with any
knowledge of his financial affairs, tested and proved her to be a very
safe repository of his secrets.

"But his wife, supposed to be one with himself and endowed with all his
worldly goods, has a right to know the extent of them.  If I don't
supply her with any actual facts (which would, of course, roll from her
like drops of mercury, leaving no least impression), I can, without
treachery to Mr. Leitzel, give her to understand that her husband
doesn't spend, in the course of a year, more than one thirtieth of the
interest on his capital."

She doubted, however, whether even a succinct statement like that would
make any difference to Margaret unless she became a mother; for
Catherine believed she had succeeded, though with some difficulty, in
impressing upon her friend her own theory that the divine right of
motherhood ought to make a woman, by law, a full and equal partner in
all her husband's "worldly goods."

"I certainly did have a time persuading her that my theory is of any
importance in our modern social economy.  Wait until the poor child
learns to know the Pennsylvania Dutch idea of woman's economic
position, and until she begins to get a _little_ acquainted with the
man she has married!"

She drew a long breath as she reached the front door of her "rented"
home.  "Well," she concluded, "my intimacy with my employer's wife
promises some excitement!"



XVII

In spite of the forbearance which Margaret felt she had exercised in
her desire to be scrupulously considerate of Daniel and his sisters in
everything pertaining to the party, the night of this much-advertised
"social event" found her in serious disfavour not only with her
sisters-in-law, but with her husband himself; first, because of her
persistence in ignoring their dictation as to the sort of gown she
should wear; secondly, their discovery that she was taking daily walks
with Miss Hamilton; for though Margaret would not stoop to any secrecy
as to her relation with Daniel's secretary, yet she had not gone out of
her way to publish it, and so the walks had been going on for some time
before her three monitors learned of them; thirdly, the exception they
had taken to her telling some callers, by whose patronage they felt
honoured, that she could not afford a new set of furs!  Mrs. Ocksreider
had spoken admiringly of the furs she had seen Margaret wearing one day
and had asked where she had bought them, and Margaret had replied that
she had never bought any furs in her life; that she had always been too
_poor_ (Danny's wife admitting poverty!), and that these furs had been
her grandmother's!--telling Mrs. Ocksreider, of all people, that she
wore her grandmother's old clothes!

But Mrs. Ocksreider's reply had been puzzling to Jennie and Sadie:

"Oh, but my dear Mrs. Leitzel, to have had a grandmother who wore
sable!  It ought to admit you to the D.A.R's!  No wonder you flaunt
them and refuse to buy new ones!"

Then Margaret had further mortified them before this same formidable
social leader of New Munich by refusing her invitation to join the
Women's Auxiliary of the Episcopal Church, which, as Jennie and Sadie
well knew, was made up of New Munich's "leading society ladies"; so
what was their horror to hear Margaret reply, "It's very charitable of
you to fancy that I'd be of the least use to you.  But I've always
hated Women's Auxiliaries!"  And she said it with such a musical drawl
that Mrs. Ocksreider, instead of showing how offended she must be, had
laughed as though she found it _funny_.  But the idea of saying you
hated Women's Auxiliaries!  It was next thing to saying that you hated
the Bible!  Never had Jennie and Sadie experienced such a painful
half-hour as that of this call.

Fourthly, Daniel's sisters had at last discovered, through persistent
prying, that his wife did not have an independent income; and Margaret,
her wits sharpened by her new environment to recognize things at first
unthinkable to her, saw that this discovery made Jennie and Sadie feel
more free than ever to dictate to her and interfere with her liberty.

All these little episodes combining to bring upon her the displeasure
of the household, the night of the party found her in a not very
cheerful frame of mind, though the deep satisfaction that was hers in
the great friendship that had come into her life, the most vital human
relation that she had ever known, made it impossible for these smaller
things to disturb her fundamentally, as otherwise they might have done.

There had been one event of that day that had somewhat brightened for
her the gloom of the home atmosphere: a belated wedding-gift had come
from Daniel's step-mother--a patchwork quilt--accompanied by a letter
addressed to Daniel and his wife, written for the old woman by the
district school teacher.

"'It's a very humble present I am sending you,'" Daniel had read the
letter aloud at the breakfast table.  "'But it's the work of my old
hands, dear children, the last I'll ever do--and the love of my heart
went into every stitch of it.  I was so proud that you sent me such a
notice of your wedding; to remember your old mother, Danny, when you
were so happy yourself.  I've been working on the quilt ever since I
got the notice about the wedding already, and now I'd like so well to
see your wife, Danny.  I'll try, if I am strong enough, to take the
train in, one of these days, and see you both.  I'll come back the same
day so as not to make any of you any extra work or trouble.  I would
like to see the lady you married, Danny, before I die, and give her an
old woman's wishes for a happy, useful life with my good son that I am
so proud of.  I wish I could live long enough to see your first baby,
Danny, but I guess it won't be many months any more before I must go to
my long home.'"

"Yes, that's always the way she talks--she 'hasn't long to live' just
to work on our feelings so as to make us give her more!" Jennie
commented.  "She has no need to come in here to see Margaret.  She
makes herself very bold to offer to.  And she can't spare the car fare,
little as what she has to go on.  What's Margaret to her anyhow?  And
she's likely to be too feeble to get back if she comes in.  Then we'd
have her on our hands yet!"

But Margaret had spent an hour of the morning in writing to Mrs.
Leitzel, acknowledging her gift, telling her how glad she would be to
see one who had done so much for Daniel when he was a boy.  For their
step-mother's self-sacrificing devotion to them all in their childhood
had been made known to Margaret through many an unwitting, significant
remark dropped in her presence.  She concluded her letter:


I am coming out to see you very soon, certainly some day next week.
Daniel will bring me if he has time.  If not, I'll go myself.  Until
then; with my heartfelt thanks for the work of your dear hands, which I
shall use with pride and with grateful thoughts of you,

  I am your affectionate daughter,
      MARGARET BERKELEY LEITZEL.


All that day, through the constant little rasping antagonisms which
Margaret, despite her good intentions, seemed unable to avert in any
intercourse between herself and the Leitzels, she felt that consolatory
bit of kindness and good will which had come to her from the old woman
in the country.  And when she stood at night with her husband and his
sisters to receive their guests (Sadie in pink satine) the friendly
spirit of her aged mother-in-law was with her still in the background
of her consciousness, softening the light of her eyes and making human
the perfunctory smile of her lips as she repeated her conventional
formula of greeting over and over; so that people marvelled at the
apparent continued tranquillity of this incongruously assorted
household.

When later in the evening Margaret was free to move about among her
guests, Daniel's cold displeasure with her was greatly modified as he
witnessed again to-night, as on many previous occasions, how attractive
she undoubtedly was to the men of his world.  His uncannily keen little
eyes read in the faces of his male guests, as they approached and
talked with Margaret, the covetousness they felt for this rare
possession of his.  No acquisition of all his acquisitive career had
ever given him a more delectable joy than his realization of the worth,
in other men's eyes, of his charming wife.

Had he overheard the view of her which was ventilated, though
surreptitiously, by some of the guests over their supper, his
satisfaction might have been somewhat modified.

"I think she's a scream!" declared Myrtle Deibert to the group at her
table.  "Did you hear what she said to me as we were leaving the
Country Club dance last Wednesday evening, when I remarked to her,
'Your husband is so awfully in love with you, Mrs. Leitzel; just see
how he is _beaming_ on you from clear across the room!'  'Scowling at
me, you mean,' she corrected me.  'Don't you hear our taxicab
registering out there while I linger to talk to you?"

This anecdote was met with a shout of laughter, the point of which
would certainly have remained obscure to Daniel Leitzel.

"Of course you all heard of her telling mother," said Miss Ocksreider,
"that she hated Women's Auxiliaries?  And that she wore her
grandmother's old furs because she _couldn't afford_ to buy new ones?
Mother says"--she lowered her voice and the group at the table closed
in a bit closer to catch her words--"that it was a perfect circus to
see the consternation of Miss Jennie and Miss Sadie when she said she
was _poor_.  Isn't it queer how they are so proud of their money and
yet so afraid to _spend_ it?"

"Did you hear," inquired Mrs. Eshelman, "what Mrs. Leitzel said to me
last Sunday after church when I told her I'd put a five-dollar gold
piece on the collection plate in mistake for a nickel and I had half a
mind to ask the usher to let me have it back.  'You might as well,' she
said, 'for you know the _Lord_ won't give you credit for more than five
cents.'"

"She certainly does go to the ragged edge," Mr. Eshelman added his
quota; "I asked her this evening whether she had been to hear the
evangelist's address to Women Only, and she said no, what she wanted to
hear was a talk to Men Only!"

"What do you think she said to me when I told her," said Mrs.
Hostetter, "what a bad boy the son of the Presbyterian pastor is.
'This proverbial badness of minister's children,' she said, 'is often,
I think, just the hypocrisy of the minister breaking out.'  'But all
ministers are not hypocrites,' I said to her, shocked.  'Of course,
unconsciously hypocrites,' she answered.  'They don't deceive any one
else as they deceive themselves.'  Isn't she _queer_?" added Mrs.
Hostetter, genuinely puzzled.

"She's a peach!" declared Mr. Hostetter.

"Danny must think so," declared Mr. Eshelman, "to open up like _this_
in her honour!" indicating the elaborate supper provided by the city
caterer.  "Terrapin, mind you, at Danny Leitzel's!"

"And the 'floral decorations!'" breathed Miss Deibert with an
appreciative glance at the roses and palms that decorated the
dining-room.  "It doesn't seem possible, _does_ it?"

"This party is _costing_ Danny something!" grinned Hostetter.

"And to think," said Mrs. Hostetter, "that Dan Leitzel has married a
_penniless_ bride--as she certainly gives it out that she _is_!  It
doesn't seem possible."

"The power of one little woman!" said Mr. Hostetter pensively.  "I tell
you that girl's eyes, and her voice, and her figger, and her teeth and
lips, would melt any man's heart, even one of flint like Dan Leitzel's!"

"That will _do_, Jacob!" stiffly admonished Mrs. Hostetter.

"Will you look at that blue glass owl on the sideboard," said Miss
Ocksreider.  "Wouldn't you think Mrs. Leitzel would have removed it
before this party?"

"She wouldn't dare!  Miss Jennie thinks it's choice!" responded Mrs.
Eshelman.  "She got it ten years ago at the ninety-nine-cent store for
Danny's Christmas present, and she told me at the time that she knew it
was an awful price to pay for a mere pitcher, but that they needed a
handsome ornament for the top of their sideboard.  No, indeed, Mrs.
Leitzel wouldn't dare discard that old owl!"

"How she manages to steer her way peaceably among the three members of
this household!" murmured Miss Deibert.

"She's a wonder!"

"And she certainly knows how to keep her opinions to herself," said
Mrs. Hostetter.  "No one gets a word out of her as to what she thinks
of her in-laws!"

"Then she _is_ a wonder!" volunteered Hostetter.

"Wouldn't I like to be her father confessor!" exclaimed Miss Deibert.
"I don't know what I wouldn't give for an X-ray view of her mind!"

It was a curious fact that the only person present at the Leitzels'
notable party who was quite unimpressed by the expensiveness of the
affair was Margaret herself.

What did impress her, as she chatted with her guests and ate her
supper, was the subtlety with which one can be penetrated by the
spiritual atmosphere of a given group; she felt so acutely that of this
gathering to-night as compared with the fine aroma of any social
collection of her Southern environment, with its old inherited
simplicity and culture.  She had thought, in the first weeks of her New
Munich life, that the difference must be only external, for she was not
only democratically disposed by nature, but the rather socialistic
theories with which her uncle had imbued her inclined her to a large
view of any social discrepancies.

To-night, however, it was borne in upon her that she was an alien in
this company; that she could more readily find a real point of contact
and sympathy with the plainest sort of day-labouring people; with, for
instance, the Leitzels' cook, who was at least genuine and not
pretentious, than with these people who knew no ideals except those of
material possession and whose purpose in life seemed to be, on the part
of the women, to outshine their acquaintances and kill time; and on
that of the men to make money enough to allow the women to pursue this
useful and exalted career.

"People who are poor enough to be obliged to work," she spoke out her
reflections to the lawyer, Henry Frantz, who happened to be sipping
coffee with her, "have really purer and more wholesome views of life
than--than we have" (she indicated, by a turn of her hand, the company
at large).  "I begin to understand, Mr. Frantz, why, in the history of
nations, we see decay set in just as soon as a climax of prosperity has
been reached.  To survive the deadening influence of great wealth,
well, it's only the fittest among nations and individuals who are
strong enough to do it, isn't it?"

"But it is only where there is a leisure class that we find art and
culture," suggested Mr. Frantz.

"The great minds and the great characters of the world, however, have
never come from an environment of wealthy leisure.  In our own country,
has any one of our really great Presidents been educated in private
schools?  Nearly every citizen of eminent usefulness is a public school
product."

"A notable exception--your husband," he replied.

"'Citizen of eminent usefulness,'" she musingly experimented with her
phrase.  "Would Mr. Leitzel come under that head?"

"He's a lawyer of state-wide, if not national, reputation, Mrs.
Leitzel."

"I know.  Are they an eminently useful class--corporation lawyers?  I
merely ask for information.  My ignorance on most subjects is
unfathomable."

"Well, we couldn't get along without them."

"Corporations couldn't.  But aren't we beginning to think we could get
along without corporations?"

"Boneheads may think so.  It is civilization that has built up
corporations, and every time a corporation is dissolved we take a
backward step in civilization."

"If public utilities," said Margaret dogmatically, quoting her Uncle
Osmond, "were conducted for the benefit not of corporations, but by the
Government for the benefit of the whole people, we'd have a full
treasury without taxing the people."

Mr. Frantz looked at her and broke into irrepressible laughter.
"Excuse me, Mrs. Leitzel, but that anything looking so girlish and
pretty, that anything even remotely associated with my good friend
Danny Leitzel, should be giving out remarks like that--well, it's a
little too much for me, you see!  Did you and my friend Danny exchange
views on social economics before you were married?"

"We didn't have time to exchange views on anything.  We knew each other
just six weeks before we were married."

"And have been getting acquainted since?"

"I'm inclined to think a six weeks' acquaintance just as good as a
lifetime one for finding out what kind of a mate your lover is going to
make."

"Exactly.  No good at all, eh?"

"Not much," she smiled.

"I wonder," speculated Mr. Frantz, eying her curiously, "if there was
ever a married pair whose ideal of each other grew _higher_ after
marriage.  Think so?"

"Surely.  Their lives being a daily unfolding of new beauties and
excellences to each other."

"Oh, but I'm afraid you're a sentimentalist."

"Southerners generally are, but they're saved, you know, by their
unfailing sense of humour," she responded, turning from him to give
some attention to the man seated on the other side of her at the little
supper table.

Mrs. Leitzel's adroitness in avoiding thin ice was the despair of the
gossips of New Munich.



XVIII

Margaret's radiant happiness in the discovery she made on the very day
after the party, that she was embarked on the wonderful passage to
motherhood, fraught with its strangely mingled suffering and bliss, was
somewhat tempered by the consciousness that the coming child would have
to be a Leitzel; there was no escaping that catastrophe.  She tried to
persuade herself that the Leitzel characteristics, if properly
educated, might not be so very lamentable; but her deep-down conviction
that her child ran the risk of inheriting a small, mean soul gave her
no little anxiety and self-reproach.

"My penalty for trying to compromise with life's austerities!" she
grimly told herself with sad misgiving.

Her husband's joy and pride in the prospect of being a father consoled
her somewhat, it was so human and normal of him; though even here the
taint of greed entered in, he was so inordinately pleased that his
money would not have to be left to Hiram's children.

Indeed, during the earlier weeks of her pregnancy, Margaret tried hard
to keep her mind off the topics discussed in the bosom of the family,
so fearful was she of the effect, upon her child, of her own recoil
from the Leitzel view of life.

She found that they never would get done talking about the cost of that
party; it was evidently going to occupy them for the rest of their
mortal lives.  The worst of it was they so insisted upon impressing it
upon _her_.

"Hiram never spent that much for a party for his Lizzie, and _she_
brought her husband thirty thousand dollars.  It ain't many husbands
that would so spend for a wife that--well, don't you think, too,
Margaret, that Danny's awful generous _considering_?"

"Considering what, Jennie?"

"Ach, Margaret, don't be so dumb!  Considering you ain't got anything."

"Oh, yes, I have something--youth and health and intelligence and good
temper.  I'm a prize.  Daniel thinks so."

"But you see," interposed Sadie, "our Danny could have had any of our
rich town girls here."

"And yet preferred me.  His good taste.  The only instance of it I've
ever noticed."

She knew the puzzled despair of her husband's sisters over their
inability to make her humbly grateful for that she, a penniless bride,
had been "chosen" by their brother.  But that she should fail to
appreciate the expenditure for the party given in her honour was too
much.

"Why, Danny's bills come to three hundred dollars yet!" Jennie told her
with heat.  "And Sadie ain't well yet from over-eating that rich supper
we had that night off of the Philadelphia caterer!"

"Yes, I feel it yet," said Sadie plaintively.  "Just to think,
Margaret, that Danny spent three hundred dollars for the party for you!"

"Did he get off so easily as that?  The flowers were so abundant and
the supper so nice, I would have supposed they would have cost more
than that, if I had thought about the cost."

"Well, why _didn't_ you think about the cost, when it was all for
_you_?"

"I didn't think about it, my dears, because the cost of things doesn't
interest me; I have so many more interesting things to think about.
This, for instance," she said, holding up the dainty baby dress on
which she had been sewing as they all sat together in the sitting-room,
awaiting Daniel's coming home to his noon dinner.

"But it's a wife's place to----"

Daniel's entrance cut short Jennie's admonitions.  The dinner-table
talk, however, scarcely relieved the tension on Margaret's nerves.

Daniel was always expansive as to his business "deals" when he felt
complacent, and to-day his state of mind was one of unusual
satisfaction, for just before dinner Margaret had displayed to him
(surreptitiously, to spare the virgin squeamishness of Jennie and
Sadie) the baby things upon which she had been working, and his delight
in them was like unto that of a woman.  He was therefore talkative and
confidential over his roast beef.

"Well, Margaret, you can be proud of the way your husband upholds
Christian principles in this community.  I received in my morning's
mail a letter from the Board of Managers of the Y.W.C.A. thanking me
for the stand I took at the meeting yesterday afternoon of the
stockholders of the Country Club on the question of Sunday sports.
Some of the men want tennis and golf allowed on Sunday, but _I_ stand
for the sanctity of the Sabbath, and I wouldn't give in one inch.  I'm
the biggest stockholder of the club and they can't go against my vote
in anything.  I may say I _rule_ the Country Club.  One fellow, Abe
Meyers, got up and declared he'd organize a _new_ country club before
he'd 'submit to the tyranny of one hidebound Pharisee!'  What do you
think of that?" chuckled Daniel.  "'The tyranny of one hidebound
Pharisee!'  Sour grapes, of course.  He hasn't the cash or the
influence to organize another club.  I told them that so long as _I_
was a member of that club, the sanctity of the Sabbath should be
preserved.  Golf and tennis six days of the week, but on the Sabbath,
_no sports_; and I said I knew I had behind me the support of our
Christian community.  You see, Margaret, if I withdrew, the club
couldn't go on."

"That very fact," said Margaret, her voice rather weak, "ought, I
should think, make you unwilling to impose your theories upon the other
members.  _Noblesse oblige_, you know."

But Daniel was incapable of seeing this point of view.

"The evening papers," he continued, his eyes gleaming with
satisfaction, "will give a full account of the meeting yesterday and
publish, also, the letter of thanks sent to me by the Y.W.C.A.  I
handed that letter to a reporter of the _Intelligencer_.  You'll see it
in to-night's paper, Margaret."

"Oh!" breathed Jennie and Sadie, awe and admiration in their tones, and
worship in the glances sent across the table to Daniel.  "Here, Emmy,"
Jennie ordered the maid, "don't you see Mr. Danny's milk glass is
empty?  Fill it up.  Do you like these pickles, Danny?  They're the
first I opened yet."

"They're of just precisely the degree of sourness I like," Daniel
nodded approvingly.

"Danny's so much for sour," Jennie informed Margaret.  "Yes, you took
notice already, I guess, how he eats sour all the time at his meals,
even up to his pie.  I have to put up a lot of pickles and Chili sauce
and chow-chow for him.  Ain't, Danny?  And he says no one's sour tastes
so good to him as what mine does.  I don't know what he _would_ do,"
she said in consternation, "if I was taken and he couldn't have his
sour any more."

"There's Heinz's fifty-seven varieties," said Margaret.

"Heinz!" scoffed Jennie.  "Our Danny eat that Heinz stuff, used as he
is to good home-made sour!  Well, Margaret, you don't mean to tell me
you'd feed that to our Danny!  I'd turn in my grave!"

"I'd 'feed him' Heinz's fifty-seven varieties and tell him I'd made
them myself; a plan, you see, which would make Daniel happy while it
saved my time and energies for something more useful than pickles."

"You'd deceive him?" exclaimed Sadie, scandalized.  "Tell a lie to your
own husband yet!"

"Is a lie ever justifiable?" asked Margaret ponderously.  "History and
psychology answer, Yes; to the insane, the nervously distorted, and to
spoiled and pampered men creatures."

"Well, you'd have a hard time fooling our Danny!  He ain't so easy
fooled.  A good thing he's got us to look after him if you wouldn't
even put up sour for him!"

"Now I begin to see," said Margaret, "that the man, Heinz, creator of
'sour,' is a human benefactor and should have a noble monument erected
to him by put-upon wives.  I'll start the movement."

"A stroke of luck," Daniel here broke into the dispute, "came to me
to-day.  You remember, Margaret, the leather store on the corner of
Third and Prince streets?"

"Yes."

"Danny owns near that whole block," Jennie quickly informed her, though
Margaret's persistent indifference to such facts was a constant
irritation to her and Sadie.

"I've been getting one hundred dollars a month rent for that store,"
Daniel stated, while his sisters listened breathlessly to such
fascinating statistics.  "Three months ago, George Trout, the renter,
came to me and said he'd have to have more storeroom for his growing
business and wanted me to extend the room back into the lot.  He laid
it off to me how I ought to do this for him because he had rented that
room from me for the past fifteen years and had never been a day late
with his rent, not even when I had suddenly and unexpectedly raised his
rent two years ago from seventy-five to one hundred dollars a month;
and he argued that he himself had paid for the repairs and the upkeep
of his storeroom for the past eight years; that his successful leather
shop had increased the value of my property; and that I certainly owed
it to him to extend the floor space.  Well, I simply told him that if
the place was too small for him, he was perfectly welcome to move; that
I certainly wouldn't incur the expense of enlarging the store when I
could so easily rent it any time as it was.  He argued and fussed
'round my office and said he'd been my faithful tenant for fifteen
years and I had never done a thing for him and that I knew perfectly
well he couldn't move his business, for there wasn't another vacant
storeroom in the town in a location that wouldn't kill his business
dead.  Yes, I said I knew that all right.  'And,' said he, 'I
absolutely require more floor space.'  'Yes, I know that, too,' I said,
'but it's no concern of mine; _I_ have no stock in your business, Mr.
Trout.  I'm your landlord, and you know business is always strictly
business with me.  I can rent that storeroom the very hour you move out
of it.'  He tried to tell me again about his keeping up the repairs,
but I cut that short and said he'd got my answer and now I was busy.
Well, I certainly was amused to see how mad he looked as he flung
himself out of my office.  But," said Daniel, his eyes narrowing to the
look of cunning from which Margaret was learning to wince as from a
touch on a bared nerve, "the affair has turned out just as I foresaw it
would!  That's the secret of my success, Margaret, as Jennie and Sadie
can tell you.  I look at every proposition, no matter how small a one,
to find in it the main chance--the chance for _me_.  I saw there'd be
only one thing for Trout to do: enlarge the store at his own expense.
No more than right that he should.  No least reason why _I_ should do
it."

"Of course not!" exclaimed Jennie and Sadie in one breath, while
Margaret, looking rather wan, did not raise her eyes from her plate,
for the self-complacency of her husband's countenance, as he told his
yarn, was more than she could stand.

"So, last week," Daniel went on, "when the changes in the storeroom
were completed, I went in and took a look around.  Trout spent about
eight hundred dollars on the job.  Of course this enlargement increases
the value of the property and demands higher rent.  So, yesterday,"
Daniel smiled, "I notified him that his rent was raised twenty-five
dollars a month.  He came storming into my office and said the bills
for the repairs should be sent to me.  I pointed out to him that I
couldn't be held legally responsible for them, as I had not had them
made; and that he could take his choice: pay the increased rent or get
out.  Well, you see, there was nothing else for him to do but pay the
higher rent.  Anything else spelt ruin for him.  He knew that as well
as I did.  He had to swallow the pill," grinned Daniel, "though it did
go down hard!  Yes, that's the way I turn things, even little things,
right around to my profit, Margaret.  Pretty cute, isn't it?"

"If I were Mr. Trout," Margaret returned, looking white, "I'd set fire
to your damned store and burn it to the ground!"

There was an instant's silent, awful consternation, when Margaret
suddenly laid down her napkin and rushed from the room, every nerve in
her sick and quivering with the physical and moral disgust she felt.

[Illustration: Margaret suddenly laid down her napkin and rushed from
the room, every nerve in her sick and quivering with the physical and
moral disgust she felt]

When before returning to his office Daniel went to their bedroom, where
Margaret, weak and despairing, lay prone upon the bed, he found the
door locked against him.

"I insist upon coming in, Margaret!"

"Go away!" she faintly called.

"Open the door!" he commanded.

"I won't!  I can't!  I don't dare to!  I'm dangerous!  Go away from me!"

"Get up and open this door!"

"If I did, I'd--I'd scratch you!  Keep away from me!"

Daniel telephoned for the doctor.

"My gracious!" exclaimed Jennie, as they all awaited the coming of the
physician in the sitting-room, "Hiram's Lizzie never carried on like
_this_ when she was expecting!"

"No, she certainly didn't," echoed Sadie; "for all she might have had a
little more right to; while Margaret, here, coming to Danny without
nothing at all, up and sasses him like what she did at dinner yet!
Don't it wonder you?"

Daniel, lounging in his own big chair before the fire, pouted like a
thwarted, spoiled child.

"What got into her, anyhow, to act so hystericky all of a sudden?"
Sadie speculated.

"Saying she'd set fire to Danny's store!" exclaimed Jennie indignantly.
"And _swearing_ yet!  My gracious!"

"It certainly does, now, beat all!" said Sadie mournfully.

"I certainly didn't think she'd turn out like _this_!" scolded Jennie.
"You hadn't ought to have picked out a wife, Danny, without me looking
her over for you first."

"I can't do anything with her!" snapped Daniel spitefully.  "Nothing I
can say will make her stop running with Catherine Hamilton.  She tells
me to my face she won't give her up.  And she won't, either!"

"Och, Danny, I wouldn't _take_ it off of her!" said Jennie harshly.

"Well, what can a man do?" he fretfully demanded.

"Discharge Miss Hamilton."

"She's invaluable to me.  She's in my confidence in a business way.  I
_can't_ discharge her.  It wouldn't matter to her anyway.  Every lawyer
in town that has any practice would like to employ her.  What I'm
afraid of is that she'll _resign_.  Oh, if she were afraid of losing
her job, then I could easily fix Margaret!"

"It looks, Danny, as if Margaret took up with your clerk just to spite
and worry you; for what else _would_ she run with her for?"

"Well, if you'd hear them talking together once!" Daniel sullenly
responded.

"Well, if we did?" questioned Jennie curiously.

"You wouldn't understand a word they were saying!" snapped her brother.

"Do they talk so dumb?" asked Sadie wonderingly.

"They seem to think it means something--the stuff they get off to each
other!"

"It certainly does spite me, Danny," said Jennie with sympathetic
indignation, "to have your wife use you like this!  And when I think
how you could have married most anybody!"

"Here comes the doctor," announced Sadie.  "Supposing she won't leave
_him_ in her room?"

"Och, but that would make talk!" exclaimed Jennie.  "I'll go up and
tell her she _has_ to open!"

Margaret, meantime, her sudden gust of passion subsided, realized how
foolishly she was acting.

"I can't say I didn't marry him with my eyes open," she prodded
herself.  "_I_ have no right to scorn him and fly out at him.  I see
that well enough, alas!  I owe him everything I can reasonably give him
to make up for my lack of love."

Her sense of her obligation to Daniel did not, however, and never
could, include the denial of such fundamental principles as her
friendship with Catherine Hamilton, or her own personal freedom in so
far as it did not clash with his just rights.

Margaret was not so stupid as to suppose for a moment that she could,
by any utmost effort on her part, lead Daniel to see a case like that
of George Trout's store rent as _she_ saw it.  That he could flaunt and
boast of such "deals" proved him too hopelessly obsessed.

"If he were ashamed of it and tried to hide it, there might be some
hope of redeeming him.  As it is, I certainly shan't waste myself in
any such futile endeavour.  But if I outlive Daniel, I shall pay to
George Trout or his heirs that eight hundred dollars on the very day
that I get possession of my widow's third.  Or, if I have a son, _he_
shall discharge that debt!"

However, by the time Jennie knocked on her door demanding admission for
the doctor, she was in a sufficiently chastened frame of mind to
receive both him and her husband with all the outward semblance of a
dutifully happy wife.



XIX

Accustomed as Margaret was to the Southern ideal of the chivalry due to
a pregnant wife; reared in a state where a fundamental principle of
marriage is that the husband's share in the burden and sacrifice of
bringing a child into being shall consist in cherishing the mother of
his child with reverence and tenderness, so that her difficult ordeal
be made as bearable as unselfish love can make it, and that she be
upheld throughout her trial by the man's strength and devotion; and
that the husband who did not so regard his wife was a cur to be
horsewhipped--Margaret had to learn, during her weary, waiting months,
that this attitude of the Southern gentleman would have seemed to the
average Pennsylvania German ridiculous sentimentality, his view being
that woman was created, in the Providence of God, to be a breeder and
that was all there was to it; that in merely fulfilling her natural
function she was in no more need of sympathy or help or compassion than
a cow in the same condition; that her inclination during pregnancy to
tears, tantrums, fretfulness, indolence, a muddy complexion, a
phlegmatic indifference to everything except the making of baby
clothes, not even her husband getting, at this time, any consideration
to speak of at her hands--these things were recognized by him as
burdens to be borne either with stoicism, or, for the sake of the
child, peremptorily prohibited.

So, it was a matter of wonder to Margaret, rather than of distress,
that Daniel should be so extremely moderate in his expression of
concern or sympathy for her condition.  So used as he was to being
taken care of by his sisters, it would have been a wholly unnatural
attitude on his part, she saw, to be actively solicitous for a woman.
He would have felt he lowered his dignity and made himself absurd if he
had put himself out for her comfort in the many little ways he might
have done and which she had at first looked to see him do.

But, as Daniel told her one day when she expressed some of the wonder
she felt at his lack of chivalry toward her, he had never seen Hiram
bother about Lizzie when she was in that condition, and it was after
all only Nature.

"A baby's teething is only Nature, but we help and comfort it, don't
we?  I did expect you'd get a _little_ bit excited over my health!  It
would all be so much easier to bear," she spoke rather to herself than
to him, knowing his impenetrability, "if one were treated as a _woman_!"

"As a woman?" Daniel inquired, puzzled.

"Yes, instead of as a cow."

"A cow?"

"Treated as a _Southerner_ treats a woman."

"Now I should think," was Daniel's complacent reply, "that when a
husband acts toward his wife as I saw your brother-in-law act toward
your sister, like a butler or a porter, she wouldn't _respect_ him."

"The mediæval peasant idea that if her husband doesn't beat her, he
doesn't love her," said Margaret.

But the dreariness of mind Daniel's attitude caused her she, with a
sort of mediæval superstition, almost welcomed as being at least some
expiation for the sin of her loveless marriage.

Margaret was disappointed to find, as the days passed over her head,
that because of her inability to ride on the cars without great
physical distress, she was obliged to postpone the promised visit to
her mother-in-law; and at last, when her appearance made the little
trip no longer possible, she wrote to Mrs. Leitzel and explained the
reason for her not keeping her promise.

"But just as soon as your grandchild is able to travel," she concluded
her letter, "I shall bring it (not knowing its gender) out to see you."

It seemed to Margaret that, unaggressive though she was, the weeks
before her confinement were constantly marked by contentions,
apparently inevitable, between her and Daniel about the many things of
life which they viewed from diametrically opposed standpoints.  Her
monthly account of her expenditures with her ten dollars allowance was
one of these points of difference.  The first time Daniel asked her to
produce the little account book he had given her she took it from her
desk, scribbled a few words in it, and cheerfully handed it to him, and
he read on one page, "Daniel gave me ten dollars," and on the opposite
page, "All spent.  Balances exactly."

Daniel looked up from the book inquiringly.

"That's as much of an account as you'll ever get from me, Daniel, as to
what I did with ten dollars in a whole month!  Did you actually suppose
I'd give you the items, like a little school-girl?"

And no amount of persuasion, or of fretting and fuming on his part,
could induce her to submit to him an itemized account of her allowance.

Her South Carolina property was another bone of contention.

"I can't get a word from that brother-in-law of yours in reply to my
letter to him!" Daniel complained one September evening when they were
alone in their bedroom just after supper, Margaret, in a pink silk
negligé, lying on a couch at the foot of the bed and Daniel seated in
an armchair beside her.  "The slipshod business ways of those
Southerners!  What does the man mean?"

"He's such a procrastinator!  I must admit Walter's rather lazy.
Clever, though.  He's considered a mighty intelligent lawyer."

"A clever lawyer has some sense of business, which he does not seem to
have!"

"Don't you be so sure of that!"

"What do you mean?"

"Oh, nothing."

"Well, he does seem to have enough sense of business about him to
defraud you out of what belongs to you!" snapped Daniel.

"Walter is an honourable gentleman," Margaret quietly affirmed, "with a
sense of honour, Daniel, that to you would be as incomprehensible as a
Sanscrit manuscript, or a page of Henry James."

"The quixotic 'sense of honour' of a South Carolinian!" scoffed Daniel.
"Oh, I know all about that.  Impracticable moonshine!  Nothing in it,
Margaret.  Has no market value."

"No, thank God, it has no market value."

"You're a little simpleton, my dear, about 'values' of any kind, and I
wish you wouldn't swear!"

"Can't one thank God except in church and at the vulgar hour of
feeding?"

"Be reverent!"  Daniel, looking shocked, reproved her.  "And I don't
see where his sense of honour comes in in his behaviour as to your
property!"

"Don't bother about my property, Daniel," Margaret wearily advised.
"It's not worth bothering about."

"It's all you have, though," Daniel ruefully retorted.

Margaret offered no reply to this.

"I want you to write to Walter, Margaret, and see whether _you_ can get
an answer out of him."

"What about?"

"What _about_?  Haven't I just been telling you?  You write and demand
of him why I receive no answer from him to my repeated inquiries as to
your property."

"But I have told you all there is to know about it, Daniel."

"Margaret," Daniel patiently answered, "I have already explained to you
how I can make that estate yield you a handsome income."

"By depriving my sister of a home?  No, thank you."

"Naturally your sister would also profit by what I would do for the
estate."

"Profit at your expense?  Not if you could help it, Daniel."

Daniel laughed appreciatively at this flattering tribute to his
business acumen.

"I think I see, Daniel, how you would manage the 'deal.'  You'd improve
the estate, rent it at a high figure, and keep the rent (at least my
share, if not my sister's) to pay you for what you had spent."

"Pretty good, my dear!  You have some business cleverness yourself, I
see, after all!  Sufficient, at any rate, to recognize that you ought
to be getting your share of your uncle's bequest.  Just inform your
brother-in-law, in your letter, that you are going to sign over to me
the power of attorney to manage your affairs.  _That_ will bring him to
time and fetch an answer!"

"But I'm not."

"Not what?"

"Not going to sign away any 'power' I may have.  I didn't know I had
any.  It's a pleasant surprise.  I shall certainly hold on to it.  I
need it, whatever it is."

"Without power of attorney to act for you, Margaret, I can't help you.
You'll _have_ to give it to me," said Daniel firmly.  "I'll bring up a
paper from the office on Monday and Jennie and Sadie will witness your
signature.  Can't you get up and write to Walter now?  I'll dictate the
letter."

"I wouldn't rise from this comfortable couch, Daniel, if the house were
on fire."

"It's very bad, very bad indeed, I'm sure, for you to lie about so
much."

"If you were carrying a weight of several tons, I guess you wouldn't be
on your feet when you didn't have to."

"'Several tons?'  That's a gross exaggeration, Margaret."

"I never was strong on figures or statistics," Margaret admitted.

"Won't you _try_ to get up and write the letter?  I very much wish you
to," urged Daniel, still quite unable to credit the fact which in these
days frequently confronted him, that any feminine member of his
household could fail to jump at his least bidding.

"What do you want me to write?" Margaret parried.

"Great heavens!" Daniel cried, exasperated.  "I've told you only about
a dozen times!"

"A dozen?  A gross exaggeration, I'm sure.  And to call upon the
heavens is irreverent.  There, there, I won't tease you," she patted
his hand; and he immediately clasped and held it, for he still adored
her.  "But as I've told you, Daniel, that I won't sign over to you the
power of attorney, there's nothing to write to Walter about."

"Is this your idea of not 'teasing' me?  I've said that without the
power of attorney, I can't help you."

"I don't want that kind of help, my dear, thank you very much."

"Will you write the letter before I go to the office to-morrow morning?"

"Telling Walter I'm not signing over to you the power of attorney?  Is
that necessary?"

"Very well, Margaret."  Daniel rose with dignity and turned away from
her.  "I'll dictate to my stenographer what I wish you to say to Walter
and I'll bring the letter up from the office for your signature."

"Daniel!" Margaret suddenly exclaimed at mention of his stenographer.

He turned about and looked at her.

"Did you _give_ Catherine the note I sent her this morning?"

"I certainly did _not_."

"_Why_ not?"

"You ask me to play the messenger boy to my own clerk!  I read your
silly note, my dear, and burned it."

Margaret, sinking a bit lower among the cushions of the couch, did not
trust herself to answer.

"Now, my dear," said Daniel, "since you can no longer go out, you can
take advantage of the chance that fact gives you, to _drop_ this
unseemly intimacy, which no doubt by this time you find burdensome
enough, especially as you have seen how exceedingly annoying it is to
my sisters and to me.  We are willing to overlook your having flouted
our wishes if you'll now----"

"Has Miss Hamilton been to see me and been turned away?" demanded
Margaret, who for the past two weeks had neither seen nor heard a word
from her friend, her notes and telephone calls having both failed to
bring any response.  She had been deeply wounded and worried at
Catherine's seeming unfaithfulness to her in her time of dire need; and
she had suffered keenly from the deadly loneliness that had engulfed
her; for she had, through almost daily association for many weeks,
become so deeply bound to Catherine that she felt she could never again
know happiness if she lost her.  While she had indeed suspected that
some treachery on the part of the Leitzels was keeping Catherine away,
yet she did not understand how her friend could possibly have failed to
receive at least some of the communications she had sent to her;
letters which she would have supposed _must_ bring Catherine to her
side, if she had to storm the house to get there.

"Have your sisters sent my friend away when she came to see me and kept
it from me that she was here?" Margaret repeated in a tone so quiet
that Daniel never suspected the volcano it covered.

"She has been told by Jennie every time she called that you wished to
be excused.  This unseemly intimacy is to _cease_!  You will have to
understand, Margaret, that I am not a man to be trifled with by a mere
woman--a mere girl, I might say!"

"Brave and manly of you, Daniel, certainly."

"If you don't watch out, you will be the cause of my losing the most
valuable clerk in New Munich and one to whom I have confided important
_private_ business matters, for, if I must, I shall tell her _straight_
that I object to her running after my wife!"

"Oh!"

"I have already hinted to her that you are at last coming to your
senses and getting over your silly infatuation for her.  I intimated to
her that it was only your appreciation of her valuable services to me
which had led you to be very nice and friendly to her."

"Do you suppose for an instant, Daniel, that she was idiot enough to
believe that?"

"Why shouldn't she believe it?"

"Because she knows me--and she also knows you."

But though Margaret assured herself many times in the course of the
wakeful, restless night which followed that Catherine would not believe
Daniel's absurd story nor let the family attitude toward her come
between them, she really suffered an agony of doubt and fear lest the
friendship so precious to her should not be able to stand under the
pressure brought to bear upon it.

"Surely Catherine will think I am asking too much of her, to expect her
to stick to me through all this!  But oh!  I can't give her up, I
can't!  I will not let them separate us!"

The next morning, as soon as Daniel had left the house for his office,
she hurried to the telephone and called up Miss Hamilton, knowing that
her only chance of getting Catherine was when Daniel was not in his
office.  She actually trembled with apprehension for fear she should be
told that Miss Hamilton had not yet reached the office.  But to her joy
it was Catherine's own voice that answered her.

"Oh, Catherine!  It's Margaret!  Catherine, listen!  I've been
_wanting_ you so!  I didn't know why you didn't come, and I only
learned last night.  Catherine, I'm coming right down to the office,
now, in a taxicab, and I want you to come out with me for an hour, for
I _must_ see you to straighten things out.  Tell the powers that be
that you've a headache or small-pox symptoms or something and just
_come_.  Will you?"

"I will, dear.  I'll leave a note on my desk and walk out now, and meet
you at the door when you get here."

"I'll be as quick as I can."

She hung up the receiver.  But just as she was going to lift it again,
to call the taxicab office, her eyes fell upon Jennie and Sadie
congregated a few feet away from her, Sadie staring at her in
consternation and Jennie in wrath and indignation.

"Margaret!"  Jennie suddenly came to her and forcibly pushed her from
the telephone.  "You ain't to call a taxicab, so you ain't, Margaret!
Our Danny ain't to be spited so when _I'm_ close by!"

"Very well," answered Margaret coolly, "I'll go next door and use Mrs.
Kaufman's telephone."

"But," gasped Sadie, "that'll make talk yet!"

Margaret, not replying, started for the door.

"Margaret!" cried Jennie sharply, hurrying after her and catching her
arm, "how that'll _look_ yet--you going into the neighbours' to 'phone!
You _darsent_ go round to our neighbours' making talk!" she commanded.
"I won't leave you do it.'"

"Then will you let me use the telephone here?"

"No, I won't, not for no such a purpose--to go down to see our Danny's
clerk when he don't give you dare to.  You're near worrying my poor
brother to death with the way you act!"

"Please let go my arm, Jennie."

"You pass me your promise, then, that you'll behave yourself.  You're
_all_ the time raising excitements in our peaceful home that gives
Sadie the indigestion!"

Margaret wrenched herself free and went to the front door; but Jennie
got there first, turned the key and removed it from the lock.

"I ain't leaving you disgrace us with our neighbours!" she indignantly
affirmed.

Margaret, looking white but resolute, went to a side window, raised it,
and called into the Kaufmans' dining-room where the family was then
breakfasting, while Jennie and Sadie, foiled, but horrified and
incredulous of her audacity, fell back.

"Will you please be so very kind, Mrs. Kaufman," Margaret called across
the space between the two windows, when Mrs. Kaufman had raised hers,
"as to 'phone for a taxicab for me at once.  I have to hurry down to
Mr. Leitzel's office.  I shall be so much obliged, and I'm very sorry
to trouble you at breakfast."

"We're just done, Mrs. Leitzel, and I'll be very glad to oblige you.
Nothing wrong, I hope?"

"No, but I _must_ get to the office as quickly as I can.  Will you
please tell them to hurry with the taxicab, Mrs. Kaufman?"

"Yes, of course I will--don't mention it!  Your telephone out of order?"

"I can't use it," said Margaret, and with a nod and a smile, she closed
the window.

She turned slowly and looked at her sisters-in-law.  They, almost
leaning upon each other for support, were regarding her as though she
were a dangerous lunatic.  Without a word, she went past them and
upstairs to get her wraps.  When she came down five minutes later the
taxicab was at the door and Jennie was at the 'phone calling up
Daniel's office.

Margaret found, however, that the front door was now unlocked.  They
evidently felt too uncertain of her to try her any further.



XX

Margaret wondered whether, if Jennie succeeded in warning Daniel of her
coming, he would again contrive to prevent Catherine's seeing her.

"Wouldn't it make a good Movie!  I might have it copyrighted!" she
shrugged.

But she told the chauffeur to hurry, hoping that she might, even yet,
get to the office before Daniel got there.

"If I don't, and if he tries to keep Catherine from coming down to
me--well, if I didn't look such a sight, I would go right up into the
office!"

When, however, the taxicab drew up before the building of which the
second floor was occupied by Daniel's law offices, and she leaned for
an instant out of the cab window, she saw her husband coming down the
street.  Jennie, then, had been too early for him.  Margaret looked
about hastily for Catherine, but she saw nothing of her.  She shrank
far back, then, in the cab to prevent Daniel's seeing her, for he was
now close by.

She saw him hesitate at the door of the building and glance inquiringly
at the cab; then, curiosity moving him, for Daniel had the petty
curiosity of an unoccupied woman, he came over to the curb and looked
into the window of the cab.

Margaret met his glance calmly.  All she cared about was that he should
not prevent her meeting Catherine.

"Why, Margaret!  You out of doors!  What for?  You came for me?  Is
anything wrong?"

"I came out for some fresh air."

"But to come out on the street!" he protested, scandalized.

"I'm not exposed to view."

"But the chauffeur has seen you!" whispered Daniel, actually colouring
with embarrassment.

"He doesn't mind it nearly as much as you do, Daniel.  I think he'll
recover; he looks robust."

"But what have you come down to my office for?"

As Margaret at this moment saw Catherine coming out of the building,
she promptly answered, "To see Miss Hamilton and clear matters up with
her.  Here she is now."

Daniel turned about sharply, and Catherine, nodding a cheerful
good-morning to him, stepped into the cab and bent over Margaret to
kiss her.

"But, Miss Hamilton," cried Daniel as his clerk settled Herself
comfortably beside his wife, "why are you not at your desk?"

"I left a note on your desk, Mr. Leitzel, asking you to excuse me for
an hour.  I shall be back before ten," she replied, drawing the cab
door shut and speaking to him through the open window.

"To the park," Margaret ordered the chauffeur.  "Good-bye, Daniel."

"Miss Hamilton," faltered Daniel, but before he could collect his wits
to decide _how_ he ought to meet so unprecedented a situation, the car
started and whirled down the street.

Slowly and thoughtfully he turned into his office building.  Never
before in all his life had his will been so frustrated as by this young
wife of his hearth and home upon whom he showered every comfort, every
luxury and indulgence.  That any one whom he supported should disobey,
defy, and thwart him!  It was beyond belief.  How did she dare to do it?

"But _what's_ a man to do with a wife who doesn't care for his
displeasure any more than if he were an old cat!" he raged.  "Oh,
well," he tried to console himself, "it won't be long, now, until the
baby comes, and then surely she'll be different.  She'll have to be!
I'll find _some_ means of teaching her that my wishes can't be
disregarded!"

Miss Hamilton's note which he found on his desk stated succinctly that
she had an imperative engagement this morning which would make her an
hour late.

Daniel, sinking limply into his desk-chair, crushed the note in his
long, thin fingers and tossed it into his waste-basket, with the
murderous wish that it was his clerk's head he was smashing.

"What will they be when they get the vote?" he groaned.  "Women," he
said spitefully but epigrammatically, "are the pest of men's lives!"

Margaret, meantime, without once directly referring to her husband and
his sisters, had managed to convey to Catherine an explanation of the
silence and desolation that had existed between them during the past
two weeks; and she was now making a compact with her which she felt
must insure them both against any future misunderstanding.

"Tell me first, Catherine, that our friendship means more to you
than--than any petty considerations!  Please, Catherine, tell me that
it does!  For I just must have you, you know!  You are more to me than
I can possibly be to you, for you have your mother, while I----"

She hesitated and Catherine said, "And you, Margaret, will soon have
your child.  Will that make you need me any less?  I don't believe it
will, dear.  And _my_ other dear ones can't in the least fill your
place in my life.  I can't give you up any more than you can spare me.
Nothing," she said with decision, "shall separate us."

"Then," said Margaret, pressing Catherine's hand, "hereafter, when you
come to see me, ring the bell four times by twos, and I, knowing about
the hour to look for you, will be on hand to let you in myself."

"All right.  I will."

"Catherine!  You _are_ large-minded!"

"My dear!" protested Catherine, "'large-minded' to be indifferent to
the eccentricities of--well," she closed her lips on the rest of her
sentence, "two illiterate, vulgar old women," was what she had nearly
said; but she left it to Margaret's imagination to finish her remark.

"While you are ill in bed, I suppose I shan't be able to get near you,"
she ventured.  "It will be dreadful if I have to wait nearly a month
before I can see that baby!  It's going to be awfully dear to me,
Margaret!  Next thing to having one of my own."

"I couldn't wait a whole month to show it to you.  I'll ask the doctor
to bring you to me."

"We'll manage somehow," affirmed Catherine.

Margaret, looking rather pale, did not answer, and Catherine suddenly
put her arms about her and kissed her.

"You poor child!" she said tenderly.

"I'm not a good fighter," Margaret sadly shook her head.  "And there
are so many, many adjustments to be made, I----"

She stopped short and bit her lips to keep back the tears that sprang
to her eyes.

"At least," said Catherine encouragingly, "you seem to be coming to
your ordeal, dear, with plenty of courage; and that's the main thing
just now."

"Oh, Catherine, I'm willing to go through a lot for the sake of holding
a baby of my own to my heart!"

"Then you think, Margaret, that motherhood is going to be all that it's
cracked up to be?"

"Under ideal conditions," said Margaret, "I can see nothing greater to
be desired."

"But do the ideal conditions ever exist?"

"I suppose they seldom do."

"Sometimes I've had my doubts," said Catherine.  "The male poets and
painters exalt the beauty, the holiness of motherhood, and the women
bear the burden and pain of it."

"But when women whose lives have had the largest horizon--women like
Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Margaret Fuller--have declared that
their motherhood was the crown and climax of all their experiences of
life, I suppose the poets and painters are not very wrong about it,
Catherine."

"I hope they are not, since all my instincts about it are entirely
primitive and I feel that nothing in the world will compensate me if
I've got to go through life childless."

"There would be one compensation," said Margaret earnestly.

"What?"

"Sometimes, since I've known I was going to have a child, the
responsibility, the almost crushing responsibility, has seemed more
than I could bear.  That's what I meant when I spoke of ideal
conditions."

Catherine held back her mental reply to this, which was, "Yes, we
_should_ be careful whom we marry, and _why_ did you tie up with a
little rat like Danny Leitzel?"

What she did say was: "You didn't feel this crushing sense of
responsibility until after you found yourself pregnant?"

"No.  Before that I thought only of my own happiness in having a baby
to cherish.  But, Catherine, when we look about us and see what life
can do to us, I wonder how we ever dare, under any conditions, to bring
a child into this awful world!"

"We can't question the foundations of the universe, however."

"No, but we can question modern civilization, which produces a huge
population of criminals, lunatics, degenerates, and incapables."

"Think of pleasant things, my dear!"

"I try to.  To tell you the truth, in spite of my heavy sense of
responsibility, I can hardly wait, Catherine, until I have my baby!  I
want to show you the lovely little embroidered dress Harriet sent me.
Will you come in to see it and me this afternoon after four o'clock?"

"Yes."

"I'll be on the watch."

"All right," Catherine nodded.

"The baby received another present, the other day, which touched me
very much," added Margaret.  "A cunning pair of socks from its
grandmother which she knit herself."

"Its grandmother?  But----"

"I mean Mr. Leitzel's step-mother."

"Oh!"

"Did you ever happen to see her, Catherine?"

"Once.  She came to the office once to see Mr. Leitzel."

Catherine's tone of withdrawal, as though she feared to be questioned,
piqued Margaret's interest.

"What was your impression of her?"

"Margaret, your husband's mother has an unforgettable face!  There's a
benediction in it, such sweetness, refinement, and simplicity shine in
her countenance.  When she had talked to me for a while, I felt as a
good Catholic must who has been blessed by the Pope.  Just the sort of
person (with a heart too tender to hurt a fly) to be herself easily
victimized by the human vultures that prey upon the too confiding."

"Has anybody victimized her?" Margaret casually inquired.

Catherine hesitated an instant before she answered: "Righteousness _is_
sometimes a breastplate to protect the otherwise defenceless.  It is
that dear old woman's extraordinary conscientiousness that has saved
her from being _entirely_ devoured by the vultures, though she has
certainly been gnawed at pretty hard.  I can't explain to you, now,
just what I mean.  Some day, perhaps."

"Oh, do tell me, Catherine."

Again Catherine hesitated before she replied: "She made a certain
promise to her husband on his deathbed which her conscience has never
allowed her to break, though she has always believed that she was
acting against her own interests in keeping it.  But it's her loyalty
to her promise that's been her breastplate; that has saved her from the
vultures."

Margaret considered in silence this suggestive bit of information.  It
was rather more lucid to her than Catherine suspected.  But she was
impressed with the sudden realization she had of her friend's intimate
knowledge of Daniel's affairs and it flashed upon her that perhaps his
seemingly unreasonable objections to their intimacy might have quite
another explanation than that he had given it.

In this, however, she was mistaken.  Daniel entirely trusted the
discretion of his clerk.  Not so much because he believed her bound in
honour to keep his secrets as because it was the part of a first-class
clerk (which she was) to be discreetly silent as to her employer's
business operations.

"And now, my dear," Catherine broke in on her thoughts, "since we've
threshed things out and have made a compact that we will not again
misunderstand each other, I think I'd better get back to my 'job.'"

Margaret gave the order to the chauffeur; and when a little while
later, alone in the taxicab on her way home, she found her heart
overflowing with a sense of the fulness, the richness of life, and
considered how strenuously Daniel and his sisters tried to take from
her the comfort, the happiness, of companionship with Catherine and how
impossible it would be to make them see what that companionship meant
to her, she felt greatly strengthened in her resolve to resist,
steadily and persistently, their aggressions upon her personal liberty.

At her own door, as she opened her purse to pay for the cab, she found
she had remaining of her monthly allowance only two dollars and the
chauffeur's price was three dollars.  She hesitated an instant, then
telling the man to charge the cab to Mr. Leitzel, she got out hastily
and went indoors.

"Rather hard on Daniel to make him pay the costs of my plots gotten up
to circumvent _his_ plots!  He won't like it.  Ah, I've a bright idea!
I'll tell him to deduct the three dollars from my next 'allowance.'
That will appease him."

But on second thoughts she realized that that same bright idea would
surely occur to Daniel without any suggestion from her.



XXI

Margaret felt an impersonal curiosity as to what Daniel would say to
her when he came home to his dinner at noon.  Jennie and Sadie were
also curious as to that.  But Daniel himself was curious, too.  How
_was_ a husband to meet such unnatural behaviour in a wife?  Did other
men's wives so disregard their husbands' wishes and commands?  If women
got much more independent it would break up the holy estate of
matrimony altogether.

He finally decided, on his homeward walk, that about the only course
open to him was to take refuge in a dignified silence, though now that
Margaret's time was drawing near, he felt sufficiently apprehensive of
the outcome to be very leniently inclined toward her.  Funny how he
cared for her when she treated him the way she did!  He could not help
it, somehow.  She certainly had a way with her!  Well, when she was
over her trial and quite herself again, he'd have another try at
bringing her to a proper sense of the confederation to which he was
accustomed and which was his due.

He wondered uneasily what the people of the town thought of this
incongruous intimacy between his clerk and his wife.  It certainly
passed his comprehension as much as it did that of his sisters that a
girl as "high-toned" as Margaret was should insist upon being intimate
with his stenographer.  That Miss Hamilton was equally "high-toned," he
was incapable of recognizing.  Jennie had voiced his own sentiments
when a few days before she had exclaimed, "When she _could_ run with
_any_body, she goes and picks out an office clerk!  It's nothing else,
Danny, but that she's bound to act con_tra_ry, to show us she don't
care if she _didn't_ bring you a dollar to her name!"

However, a letter which he found on the hall table when he reached home
diverted not only his own attention, but that of the whole household,
from Margaret's case.

It was from the school teacher of Martz Township, who wrote in behalf
of his step-mother; and after dinner, as the family sat together, as
was their custom, in the sitting-room, for an hour before Daniel went
again to his office--Jennie and Sadie fussing about him to make him
comfortable, adjusting the window-blind, placing his chair, handing him
the newspaper, retying his necktie, brushing his coat collar--Daniel
presently opened and read the letter he had received.

Margaret listened to it and to the lengthy discussion which followed
with an attention that was to bear early and abundant fruit.


"DEAR FRIEND:

"I am writing for Mrs. Leitzel, to leave you know she had it so bad in
her lungs here the past couple weeks the neighbours thought it would
give pneumonia, but she got better and now she's up again, but very
weak, and I'm leaving you know that we think she ought not to live
alone a half a mile away from her nearest neighbour, because if she got
so sick that she couldn't help herself, she might die before her
neighbours found it out yet that she needed help.  And she's too feeble
any more to make up her fires and fetch her water from the spring and
chop her wood.  The house not having any modern improvements, and so
much out of repair, it makes it harder, too, for such an old woman.
And she has hardly anything to live on.  The neighbours say she had
either ought to have some one with her, or you ought to take her to
your home to live.  If not, she'll have to go the poorhouse, and that
of course you would not want, either.

"She is better now and says to tell you not to worry, but I warn you
she may get down sick again any time, as old as what she is.  And I
think you have got good cause to worry, though I told her I'd tell you
not to.  If it hadn't been for the neighbours doing for her this last
couple weeks, she'd have died.

  "Yours truly,
      "MAYBELLE RAUCH.

"P.S. She says she sends her love to all and that you have got no need
to worry."


But Daniel and his sisters did seem to think they had "need to worry"
very much, at the startling revelations of this letter, not the
revelations as to their step-mother's sufferings and needs, but as to
the neighbourhood publicity given to their neglect of her.

"To think she'd go and have that busybody teacher and all her other
neighbours in and complain to 'em all like this, so's they write to us
yet and ask for help for her!  Well, this beats all!  She never went
_this_ far before!" scolded Jennie.

"Yes, I don't see why she couldn't leave us know herself if she's got
any complaints, and not put it out to the whole township like this!"
Sadie worried.

"It certainly will make talk out there!" Daniel frowned.

"Enough to get into the newspapers if she doesn't watch out!"

"But how," Margaret ventured a question, "could she let you know except
in the way she's taking, since she can't write herself?  And how could
she help having the neighbours in if she was ill and helpless and
alone?"

"She could anyhow have sent us a postal card to say she was sick and
wanted one of us to come out," said Jennie.

"Would you have gone to her?"

"Of course one of us would have gone."

"Maybe she couldn't even write a postal card, or get out to mail it if
she did write it, if she's so old and feeble, and was ill."

"If that was the case," said Daniel, "then to avoid a repetition of the
occurrence, I don't see what else we are to do but put her into a home."

"You know how she's against that, Danny," said Jennie.  "If you decide
to do it, you'll have a time with her!  And those neighbours all taking
her part!"

"This impertinent teacher," said Daniel, tapping the letter he held,
"has the face to reproach us, you notice, for not keeping the place in
repair!  It wasn't our business to keep it in repair when we never get
any rent for it."

"Yes, it does seem as if Mom might have kept it in repair when she was
getting it rent free," said Jennie.  "_I_ don't see why she has not
been able to save something in all these years from what she's earnt
from her vegetable garden."

"She certainly hasn't managed good," said Sadie.

"And to think of the cheek of those neighbours!" said Jennie
wrathfully.  "Saying we had ought to take her in here to live with us
yet!  As if she was our own flesh and blood!"

"What would _Hiram_ say to something like this coming!" Sadie
speculated; "when _he_ thinks we did too much in not charging her rent."

"Well," Daniel suddenly announced with a magnanimous air that seemed to
swell his chest, "I'll send her a check.  I'll send her five dollars.
Maybe I'll make it ten."

"Ten dollars yet, Danny!" said Sadie, regarding her brother with
affectionate admiration.

"I'm not sure I'll send as much as ten.  But anyhow five."

"She'll be sure to show the check around to prove to those neighbours
how good you are to her."

"And there will be some among them," said Daniel indignantly, "that
will be ready enough to call it stingy!"

"Oh, well, some folks would say it was stingy if you sent her
twenty-five dollars yet!"

"If you and Sadie want to put a little to what I send," Daniel
tentatively suggested, "we might make it ten or fifteen."

"Well," said Jennie reluctantly, "it _ain't_ fair for you to pay all,
either.  What do you say, Sadie?"

"Well," Sadie hesitatingly agreed; "for all, I did want to get a new
fancy for my white hat.  How much will you give, Jennie?"

"Well, if you and I each give two-fifty to Danny's five or ten, _that_
ought to stop her neighbours' talking out there."

"All right," Sadie pensively agreed.

"No use asking Hiram to contribute," Daniel growled, "when he thinks we
ought to charge her rent for the place.  He gets angry whenever he
hears I gave her a little.  I told him once, 'If I can better afford
than you can to give her a little, and I don't ask you to help out,
what are you kicking about?'  'It's the principle of it,' he said.  'If
you give her money, it's admitting you owe it to her, or you wouldn't
give it to her.  Now I contend that we don't owe her anything.'  'Well,
then,' I said, 'when I give her a little now and then, I'll put it down
on my accounts under Christian Charities.  Will that satisfy you?'  But
no, even that didn't satisfy him.  He's all for putting her to a home.
And it looks now as if that's what we'll have to do pretty soon,"
Daniel concluded, rising to go to his office.

Margaret looked on in silence as Jennie and Sadie each counted out
carefully from their purses two dollars and a half and passed it over
to their brother.

"I'll send a check, then, to mother for fifteen dollars," he said as he
put the money into his own purse.  "I'll make it fifteen," he nodded.
"I'm willing to make it fifteen.  That will certainly settle the
gossips out there and keep her going for a while comfortably."

He came across the room to Margaret's chair by the window.

"Good-bye, my dear," he said, bending to kiss her; and it took all her
self-control not to shrink in utter repugnance from his caress.

"Oh!" she inwardly moaned as she turned to gaze out of the window when
he had gone, "what crime have I committed in marrying a man I----"

But even her innermost secret thought recoiled from the admission that
she _despised_ her husband, the father of her child.

She went upstairs to her room to spend the time, while she waited for
the hour of Catherine's arrival, in putting some last touches to the
baby outfit she had made and in writing a note to Daniel's step-mother
expressing her sympathy with her recent illness and reiterating her
promise to come to see her as soon as possible after her confinement.

"I'll mail it _myself_," she decided as she sealed and stamped her
letter, "or give it to Catherine to mail."

At four o'clock, feeling a little nervous, but quite determined, she
went downstairs to await the signal ring at the door.  As it was ten
days since Catherine had been to the house, Margaret hoped that Emmy,
the maid, was off her guard, unless the episode of this morning had
caused Jennie and Sadie to renew their watchfulness.

"It's so stupid of them, to say the least, to imagine I'd submit to
such interference in my own personal affairs!" she reflected.

She knew their suspicions would be aroused if they found her in the
parlour, for of late she spent most of her time in her own room.  But
she felt quite ready to deal with them as effectively as she had done
that morning.

She had not been downstairs long when a ring at the door-bell brought
her to her feet, only to sink down again trembling, for it was not the
four by twos agreed upon between her and Catherine; and a moment later
Mrs. Ocksreider was shown into the parlour.  Jennie and Sadie came
directly into the room to receive with much satisfaction this
distinguished and now frequent visitor who, until Daniel's marriage,
had confined her calls on them to once a year; and they looked
surprised to see Margaret already there.

"Were you _expecting_ Mrs. Congressman Ocksreider that you're down
already?" Jennie suspiciously inquired, when the sisters had greeted
Mrs. Ocksreider obsequiously.

"No, but I'm expecting Miss Hamilton," Margaret quietly announced.  "I
have an appointment with her at four-thirty.  When she comes, I shall
have to ask you all to excuse me."

Jennie and Sadie looked the consternation they felt at Margaret's
audacity, not to say disrespect, in asking such a person as Mrs.
Ocksreider to excuse her because of an appointment with that Hamilton
girl!

"It's to be hoped," Jennie rapidly thought, "that Mrs. Ocksreider will
think it's a _business_ appointment she's got with our Danny's clerk,"
while Sadie ostentatiously consulted her new wrist-watch to see how
soon they might expect the objectionable Miss Hamilton.

"You and your husband's stenographer seem to be great friends," said
Mrs. Ocksreider with what seemed to Margaret a rather malicious
enjoyment of her sisters-in-law's evident discomfiture.

"We are," said Margaret.

"I've always heard those Hamiltons very well spoken of, as very nice,
worthy people," Mrs. Ocksreider said in a tone of kindly condescension.
"Where do they live, Mrs. Leitzel?"

That Mrs. Ocksreider shouldn't even know where they lived, put them of
course outside the pale.  Jennie and Sadie suffered acutely at
Margaret's reply.

"They live in a small rented house on Green Street," she said, and
added: "One of the few really distinguished homes in our town."

"'Distinguished?'" repeated Mrs. Ocksreider, puzzled.

"I mean, rather, it is a home that has distinction, by reason of its
inmates and its furnishings."

"Its furnishings?" questioned Mrs. Ocksreider, still puzzled.

"Its pictures and books and general good taste.  One of the few
households that _have_ pictures and books."

"Oh, but we all have pictures and books, Mrs. Leitzel!"

"_Real_ pictures, I mean, and real books, too."

"But I'm sure most families of our class have the classics in their
homes," Mrs. Ocksreider protested.

"The classics' do help to furnish a room nicely, don't they?" Margaret
granted.  "But the Hamiltons have books which they _read_.  French and
German as well as English."

"Well, of course, a public school teacher's home would be likely to
have all kinds of books," Mrs. Ocksreider conceded, "that society
people wouldn't buy."

"Of course," Margaret agreed.

"But I don't see why that should make their little home on Green Street
what you called it--'distinguished.'"

"But I said the furnishings _and_ the inmates gave it distinction.  You
see, I know because I am very intimate with them."

"I have heard that you were.  It is so nice for your husband's little
stenographer that you should take her up like that.  It's so unusual,
too.  She's very fortunate, I'm sure."

"It's rather she that has taken me up.  I'm quite proud that she thinks
me worth the time she gives me.  You see she's more than Mr. Leitzel's
stenographer: she's an able law clerk.  Mr. Leitzel says she's
indispensable to him."

"Then he and his sisters share your enthusiasm over the Hamiltons?"
Mrs. Ocksreider inquired in a tone of polite skepticism.

"I am the only one of us all who is intimate with them," Margaret
complacently stated.

"I didn't see them at your reception last fall, did I?"

"They didn't come," Margaret readily answered.  "You know they don't go
into society at all."

Jennie and Sadie felt cold as they heard these shameless admissions,
their Danny's wife bragging of her intimacy with people whom she openly
advertised as living in a rented house on a side street and as not
going into society!  Not to go into society was, in the Leitzels' eyes,
to be so abjectly unimportant as to make you want to get off the earth.
And Margaret _flaunted_ it!

"Ain't she the con_tra_ry piece though!" Jennie inwardly raged.

"Ah!"  Margaret almost jumped from her chair as the door-bell at this
moment rang "four by twos."

"That's Miss Hamilton now," she announced, rising and walking as
quickly as she could (which was not very quick) across the room.  "Will
you please excuse me, Mrs. Ocksreider?  I am sorry, but it is an
appointment----"

But as she reached the door which opened into the hall, she saw the
front door closed abruptly by Emmy, the maid.

Instantly stepping back into the parlour, Margaret hurried to the
window, rapped upon it, then raised it and leaned out to speak to Miss
Hamilton on the pavement.  "Emmy made a mistake; I _am_ at home,
Catherine.  Come back, and I'll open the door."

She closed the window and again made her way heavily across the room,
smiling in a friendly way upon Mrs. Ocksreider as she passed her.  "A
mistake of the maid's.  I'm seeing so few people just now," she dropped
an explanation on her way.

Mrs. Ocksreider's subsequent description of the scene, in which the
Leitzel sisters' horror at Mrs. Leitzel's innocent candour about "those
Hamiltons," and the young woman's clever outwitting of her two would-be
"keepers," afforded most delectable entertainment to New Munich society
for two months to come.



XXII

It was late in October that the twins were born, a boy and a girl, and
Margaret did not rise from her bed for a month.  It was six weeks
before she got downstairs.

Long before the trained nurse left her, she realized what, before her
confinement, she had dimly foreseen, the struggle to the death which
she would certainly have with Jennie's strong prejudices in favour of
old-fashioned country methods of taking care of a baby.  It was only
the doctor's powers of persuasion that induced the nurse, harassed
beyond endurance by Jennie's interference with her methods, to remain
with her patient until she was no longer needed.

"You poor thing, you certainly are up against it!" was her parting bit
of sympathy to Margaret.  "She'll kill off those precious twinlets for
you, or she'll kill _you_.  _One_ of you has got to die!  The woman's a
holy terror, my dear!  And the other one, that wears Mother Hubbards
and Kate Greenaways and Peter Thompsons and Heaven knows what, she's
nearly as bad as her sister about these babies.  _I_ don't know what
you're going to do!  You may be able to protect them when you're _with_
them; but you've got to get out _some_times for an airing without
dragging the baby-coach along, and those two"--indicating, with a twirl
of her thumb, the twins' redoubtable aunts--"will certainly kill off
your babies for you while you're out."

"If you're sure of that I'll never _go_ out."

"And you can't look for your husband to help you any," continued the
nurse.  "Crazy as he is over the twinnies, he'll _help_ the old ladies
kill them off, because he thinks their ancient ideas are right.  The
old ladies, for that matter, are nearly as crazy over the babies as he
is.  You'd think nobody but Mr. Danny Leitzel had ever _had_ twins
before.  I never saw such a looney lot of people.  But it's their love
for those children that's going to make them kill them, for it does
beat all the way you can't knock a new idea into any of them."

In the very hour of the nurse's departure, Jennie, supported by Sadie
as always, swooped down upon Margaret to insist, with the triple force
of conviction, of tyranny, and of her love for Danny's precious babies,
that they be brought up as she knew how babies should be, and not by
the murderous modern methods of exposing them to the night air, of
bathing them all over every day even in winter, of feeding them, even
up to the age of one year, on nothing but milk, of taking them outdoors
every day in winter as well as in summer.

"Many's the little green mound in the cemetery that hadn't _ought_ to
be there!" Sadie sentimentally warned Margaret.  "So you let _us_ teach
you how to take care of Danny's babies!"

Well, the conflict or convictions between the mother, on the one side,
and the aunts and the father on the other, was not settled in a day,
nor yet in a week.  It was, indeed, prolonged to the inevitable end.
But while the strife and tumult of battle raged, the mother's will was
carried out, at the cost to her of a nervous energy she was in no wise
strong enough to expend.

The fact that the twins thrived wonderfully under Margaret's régime did
not in the least modify the Leitzels' prejudice against it.  Daniel
could not help believing profoundly in the wisdom of his sisters, since
they had made such a success of _him_.  And never once in his life had
he failed to "come out on top" when following their advice.  He admired
and respected them; and he felt as much affection for them as he was
capable of feeling for any one.  So that, with his loyalty to them
challenged by that force which to most men is the strongest in
life--the love of a woman--the atmosphere of his home was, just at
present, rather uncomfortably surcharged.

But in spite of this and of his actual bewilderment at the continued
obstinacy of a wife who, though tenderly beloved, indulged, and petted,
dared to stand out against not only his sisters but against himself,
Daniel was so radiantly proud and happy at finding himself the father
of a son and daughter at one stroke that he discussed with every one he
met the charms, the characteristics, the food, and the habits of his
offspring; told his colleagues in business what food-formula agreed
with his girl baby, who was being brought up on the bottle, the mother
being able to nurse only one child and that one being, of course, by
his wish, the boy; delivered to every one who would hear him his views
on Modern Fallacies in the Care of Infants; and invited the opinions
even of his employees as to suitable or desirable names for the
daughter, the son being of course Daniel, Junior.

It was one mild day in January, when, after a siege of more than
usually bitter opposition on Jennie's part to the twins being kept on
the piazza all the morning, Margaret found herself, during the
afternoon, in a blessed solitude in the family sitting-room, Jennie and
Sadie having gone out calling.  So tired and heartsick was she that she
did not even feel any desire to call up Catherine and ask her to share
her few hours of freedom from interference and fear of harm to her
babies.  The twins were again healthily sleeping on the porch outside
the sitting-room and Margaret gave herself up to the sweet peace of
this respite, reading, dreaming, resting, when presently the door-bell
rang, and a moment later Emmy ushered into the sitting-room a feeble
old woman dressed in the plain religious habit of the Mennonites.

Margaret instantly knew who the visitor was, and as she went to her,
took her two hands in both her own, kissed her and looked down into the
motherly old face with its expression of childlike innocence and
sweetness, she was thankful that the rest of the family was not at home
and that she could for a little while bask in the warmth of this kindly
human countenance.

When she had made her visitor comfortable in Danny's big easy-chair
before the fire and had had Emmy bring in some hot tea and toast, the
old woman's beaming gratitude betrayed how unlooked-for were such
attentions in this home of her step-children.

"I'll soon get my breath," she feebly said as she sipped her tea.  "I
do get out of puff so quick, still, since my lungs took so bad this
fall."

"It was really too much of a trip for you to take, and all alone," said
Margaret solicitously.  "I was just this very day deciding that I would
go out to see you some time this week, if I could manage it.  It's very
hard for me to get away or I should have been to see you before this."

"Well, my dear, what brang me in to-day was that I just had to see
Danny and the girls on a little business, and so my neighbour fetched
me in in his automobile.  I couldn't spare the money to come by train.
But," she said tremulously, "he made his automobile go so unmannerly
fast, I didn't have no pleasure.  He said he ain't commonly got the
fashion of going so fast, but, you see, he raced another automobile.
He took me along for kindness, but indeed I'm sorry to say I didn't
enjoy myself."

"It was a strain on you, I can see," said Margaret sympathetically.

"But the tea's making me feel all right again," said Mrs. Leitzel
reassuringly.  "It's wonderful kind of you to give it to me; but I
didn't want to make no bother.  I seen Danny down at his office, and
when he told me the girls wasn't home this after, I came up here on the
chanct of seein' you alone, and them dear little twinses!  Indeed I
felt I _got_ to see them two twin babies before I died a'ready.  You
see I knowed by your nice letters to me that you'd treat me kind, and
indeed I had afraid to try to go back home alone on the train; I
conceited that mebby _you'd_ take me to the depot," she said with timid
wistfulness, "and put me on the right train, and then I wouldn't have
been so afraid.  Danny thinks I went straight off home by myself.  But
indeed I didn't darst to."

"Of course I'll take care of you.  But you must not think of leaving
before to-morrow when you've had a chance to get thoroughly rested."

"Oh, but, my dear," said Mrs. Leitzel nervously, "Danny give me the
money to pay my way back home and he thinks I went.  And you see, it
would put the girls out to have to make up the spare bed just for _me_."

"But who could be more important than you--you who took care of them
all when they were children?  Indeed I shan't let you go a step to-day."

"Did _they_ tell you I took care of them, my dear?" asked Mrs. Leitzel,
puzzled.  "Because they never talked to me that way.  And Danny tried
to show me this after, when I put it to him that now I couldn't hold
out no longer to support myself gardening on the old place--he said I
hadn't no claim on him.  I don't know," she added sadly, "what I'll do.
I'm too old and feeble to work any more, my dear.  God knows I would if
I could.  I'd work for all of them as well as for myself, the way I
used to, if I had strength to.  But I come in to-day to tell Danny that
at last I'm done out.  Yes, the doctor says I got tendencies and things
and that I got to be awful careful."

"'Tendencies?'" asked Margaret.

"He says I got somepin stickin' in me."

"Something sticking in you!  Do you mean that you swallowed a bone or
something?"

"No, my dear, I didn't swallow nothin'.  I got a tendency stickin' in
me that might give pneumonia.  So I come to ask Danny to-day if--if he
couldn't mebby spare me something," she faltered, "to live on for the
little time I got left, so that"--a childlike fear in her aged eyes--"I
don't have to go to the poorhouse!"

"When you told Danny all this," asked Margaret, laying her hand on Mrs.
Leitzel's, "he said you had no claim on him?"

The old woman's lips quivered and she pressed them together for an
instant before she answered.

"He told me he'd talk it all over oncet with Hiram and the girls.
But," she shook her head, "I'm afraid Hiram's less merciful than any of
my children and he'll urge 'em to put me to such a home for paupers;
and, oh, Margaret--dare I call you Margaret?"

"What else would you call your son's wife, dearie?"

"I have so glad Danny has such a sweet wife!  I wouldn't of believed
_he'd_ marry a lady that would be so nice and common to me.  It wonders
me!  I can't hardly believe it!"

"But you are good to _me_, making me that lovely quilt and the baby
socks.  I use the quilt all the time and one of the twins is wearing
the socks _now_.  How could even Hiram be hard to _you_?"

"But Hiram and the others is wery different to what you are."  Mrs.
Leitzel shook her head.  "Danny says if he did pay me a little to live
on, Hiram would have awful cross at him.  You see, my dear, the reason
I ain't got anything saved, as they think I had ought to have, is that
I never could make enough off of the wegetables I raised in the
backyard to keep myself and pay for all the repairs on the old place,
for all I done a good bit; enough anyhow to keep the old place from
fallin' in on me.  I don't know how I'd of lived all these years if it
hadn't of been for the kindness of my neighbours.  And now Danny says
if I can't keep myself at _all_ no more----"  Again she pressed her
lips together for an instant.  "He don't see nothing for it but that I
go to a old woman's home.  He calls it a old woman's home, but he means
the poorhouse."

"Mother," said Margaret, clasping the hand she held, "I wish you would
tell me the whole story of your life with Daniel and Hiram and 'the
girls.'  Begin, please, away back at 'Once upon a time.'"

Mrs. Leitzel smiled as she looked gently and gratefully upon Daniel's
young wife who wasn't too proud to call her "Mother."

"Well, my dear, I married John Leitzel when Danny was only six months
old, because them children needed a mother.  John drank hard and it was
too much for them young folks to earn the living and keep house and
take care of a baby.  I married John because I pitied 'em all and so's
I could take hold and help.  Jennie was fifteen, Sadie ten, and Hiram
five, and then the baby, Danny.  I sent the three older ones to school
and I took in washings and kep' care of the baby and did the
housekeeping and the sewing.  I kep' Jennie in school till she could
pass the County Superintendent's examination a'ready and get such a
certificate you mind of, and get elected to teach the district school.
And with all my hard work, I kep' her dressed as well as I otherwise
could.  For I was always handy with the needle and Jennie and Sadie was
always so fond for the clo'es.  Well, when at last Jennie come home
with her certificate to teach, my but we was all proud!  Indeed, I
wasn't more proud when Hiram got his paper that he was now a real
preacher--sich a seminary preacher, mind you!--though that was a long
time afterward.  Well, I thought it would go easier for me, mebby, when
Jennie got her school.  But you see, she had so ambitious to dress nice
and do for Danny (he was such a smart little fellah) that I had still
to take in washings and go out by the day to work.  Hiram he worked the
little farm we had and I helped him, too, in the busy seasons to save
the cost of a hired man, for our place had such a heavy mortgage that
the interest took near all we could scrape together.  Yes, for nine
years and a half we struggled along like that, and then at last John
died.  And mind you, the wery next month after he died, we all of a
suddint found coal on our land!  Yes, who'd ever of looked for such an
unexpected ewent as that!  Ain't?"

"To whom did the land belong?" asked Margaret.

"It had belonged to my husband's first wife, but she had willed it over
to him before she died.  So it was hisn."

"Oh, but, my dear, then you were entitled to one third of it, if you
didn't sign away your rights."

"Indeed, no, I didn't sign nothing.  Leave me tell you something, my
dear: John on his deathbed he thanked me for all I done and his dying
orders to me was, 'Don't you never leave Jennie and the rest get you to
sign away your rights in the farm that you worked so hard to keep in
the family.  If it wasn't for you,' he said, 'we would of been sold out
of here long ago, and the children all bound out and me in the
poorhouse!  And if I had the money for a lawyer, I'd sign the whole
farm over to you before I die.'  'No, John,' I said, 'that wouldn't be
right, neither, to give it to me over your children's heads.'  'Well,
anyway,' he says, 'it's too late now, so you just pass me your solemn
promise on my deathbed that you'll never leave 'em persuade you to sign
nothing without you first leave one of your Mennonite brethren look it
over and say you ain't signin' away your rights.'  So I passed my
promise and I've kep' it, though it has certainly went hard for me to
keep it.  Danny worried me often a'ready these thirty years back, to
sign a paper, and it used to make him wonderful put out when I had to
tell him, still, that I'd sign if he'd leave one of our Mennonite
brethren read it first and say if I was breakin' my word to John or no.
Danny always said he didn't want our affairs made so public and the
Mennonite brother would have too much to say.  So then I had to say I
couldn't sign it; I couldn't break my word to John on his deathbed.
Many's the time I was sorry I passed that promise to John--they all
have so cross at me because I won't sign nothin'.  You see, they always
was generous to me, giving me the house and backyard to live in without
rent.  But to be sure I couldn't break my word to my dying man!"

Margaret saw that there had been no self-interest in her refusal to
sign away her rights, but that the binding quality of a deathbed
promise was to her a fetish, a superstition.  And it was this, no
doubt, that Catherine had meant in speaking of her "breast-plate of
righteousness," her conscientious devotion to her solemn vow had
shielded her from the snare of the fowler; from "the greed of the
vulture," Catherine had said.

"And lately," Mrs. Leitzel continued her story, "Danny didn't bother me
no more to sign nothing.  But to-day," she concluded, suddenly looking
very weak and helpless, as she leaned far back in her chair, "to-day he
ast me again, and he said it couldn't make no matter to me now when I
was so near my end, and if I'd sign a paper he'd not leave the others
put me to the poorhouse.  But I told him if I was so soon to come
before my Maker, I darsent go with a broken promise on my soul.  If
only I hadn't never passed that promise, my dear!  John meant it in
kindness to me, but you see," she suddenly sobbed, "it's sendin' me to
the poorhouse to end my days!"

"Oh, but my dear!" exclaimed Margaret, her face flushed with
excitement, "why didn't you, from the very first, get your one third
interest in those coal lands?  You were and are entitled to it!"

"Well," said Mrs. Leitzel, "right in the beginning when they first
found the coal, they got me to say I'd be satisfied to take the house
and backyard for my share; not to keep, of course, but to live on for
the rest of my life; and seeing the land had been their own mother's,
that was a lot more'n I had the right to look for.  To be sure," she
gently explained, "you couldn't expect your step-children to care for
you as your own flesh and blood might."

"You cared for them as though they were your own flesh and blood.  Tell
me, you did not sign an agreement, did you, to accept the house and
backyard in lieu of your one third interest in the estate?"

"No, for that would of been breakin' the promise I passed to John.  For
you see, Danny never _would_ leave one of the brethren look over the
paper he wanted me to sign, and say whether I could do it without
breakin' my word.  So I never signed nothing."

"Then the only thing you need to establish your absolute right in one
third of the income of the coal lands (now enjoyed by your
step-children and excluding you) is the proof that the title to those
lands was vested absolutely in your husband at the time of his death.
If it wasn't, you have no case.  If it was, you've plenty of money!
You see, my brother-in-law is a lawyer and I've imbibed a little bit of
legal knowledge.  But I have an intimate friend, Miss Catherine
Hamilton, who knows nearly as much law as Daniel does and I'll get her
to look up the court-house records for your husband's title to that
land, and _then_, my dear, if we find it----  Oh, my stars!"

"But, Margaret," the old woman protested fearfully, "you'll get 'em all
down on you if you go and do somepin like _that_!"

"You see," Margaret gravely explained, "_I_ am living on this money
which belongs to you, and my children will be living on it, inheriting
it.  I couldn't bear that, of course."

"Do you mean," faltered Mrs. Leitzel, "you think they _cheated_ me?
There's others tried to hint that to me and I wouldn't never listen to
it.  Why, Hiram's a Christian minister and they're all church members
and professin' Christians!  They wouldn't _steal_, my dear--and from an
old woman like me!"

"It's been done, however, by church members and professing Christians.
We'll investigate it, my dear," Margaret firmly repeated.

"But I wouldn't want to be the cause of you and Danny's fallin' out,
little girl!  That I certainly wouldn't.  And, dear me!--if you got
Jennie down on you yet!"

"She couldn't be much more down on me than she is.  And during all
these years, you know, _you've_ stood up to them for the sake of a
sacred promise.  I hope I haven't less courage."

"Don't you think Danny's too smart a lawyer, my dear, for you to get
'round him?"  Mrs. Leitzel anxiously tried to avert the disaster which
Margaret's suggestion surely presaged.

"My brother-in-law is a smart lawyer, too.  I'll write to him this very
night, put the case to him (omitting names) and ask his advice.  Oh,"
she suddenly lowered her voice, "here come 'the girls.'  Do not breathe
a word of what I've said to you!"

"Oh, no, indeed I won't.  I know how cross they'd have at me!  My
dear," she added, clinging to Margaret's hand, "stay by me, will you?
Please!  Jennie and Sadie won't like it so well that I come.  I
conceited I'd get away before they got back, and they're likely to
scold me some, my dear, and----"

Margaret stooped over her impulsively and kissed her forehead.  "Come
out to the porch with me and see the babies." When a moment later
Jennie and Sadie came into the room they saw, through the long French
window opening on to the porch, their step-mother bending over the
sleeping infants in the big double coach, and Margaret standing at her
side, her arm about her waist.



XXIII

"Why!" exclaimed Jennie as she grudgingly shook hands with her
step-mother when Margaret returned with her to the sitting-room.  "You
_here_!  We saw Danny downtown just now and he said he gave you money
to get home."

"Yes," added Sadie, also shaking hands reluctantly, "we didn't look to
see you here.  Anyhow _Danny_ thought you went to the depot from his
office."

"But," smiled Margaret, "she gave me the pleasant surprise of a call.
I am so glad, because I wanted so much to know her, my husband's mother
and the babies' grandmother!  How pretty your flowers look, Sadie!" she
added diplomatically and quite insincerely, for she groaned inwardly at
the bunch of little artificial roses Sadie girlishly wore on the lapel
of her coat.

"What is _this_ to do?" Jennie suddenly demanded as her eyes fell upon
the tea-table.

"We've been having tea and toast."

"Well!" breathed Sadie.

"Upon my word!" exclaimed Jennie.  "You stopped Emmy in her Sa'urday's
work to make tea and toast in the middle of the afternoon yet!"

"It took her just fifteen minutes."

"She ain't ever to be hindered in her Sa'urday's work!  She has a cake
to bake for Sunday then!"

"But you know," said Margaret patiently, "you stopped her on wash day
to make tea for Mrs. Ocksreider."

"Well, but Mom ain't used to tea in the afternoon and Mrs. Ocksreider
is.  Anyhow, who's keeping house here, Margaret?"

"But surely I may have a cup of tea with your mother if I wish to, in
this house!"

"But it up-mixes my accounts when you do somepin like this.  Danny pays
half of all the expenses here and Sadie and I pay half."

"Oh, I see," Margaret breathed rather than spoke.  "But after all,
Jennie, it's quite a simple matter--charge the tea, sugar, milk, bread,
and butter to Daniel's side of your account and I'll take the
responsibility of it."

Jennie turned abruptly to her step-mother.  "It's getting late on you,
Mom, to get out home.  You don't want to get there after dark, with a
half a mile to walk from the station yet.  Before I take off my coat
and hat, I better see you on the street car that'll take you to the
depot for the five o'clock train."

"Yes, Jennie," the old woman submissively answered, "I was just a-goin'
to start to go when you come."

She rose with an effort from the comfortable chair before the fire in
which Margaret had again placed her.  But Margaret at once pressed her
back into her seat.

"You will be glad to know, Jennie, that I have persuaded mother to
spend the night with us," she said, "as she is too tired from her
journey to go back before to-morrow."

[Illustration: "You will be glad to know, Jennie, that I have persuaded
mother to spend the night with us," Margaret said]

"She never stops the night with us, Margaret," Jennie coldly returned.
"Come on, Mom, I'll put you on the street car."

"But isn't it nice," cried Margaret, holding her arm around Mrs.
Leitzel to keep Jennie off, "that I've succeeded in _coaxing_ her to
stay to-night?  Such a pleasant surprise for Daniel when he comes home,
to find you here, dear!  What is home without a grandmother?  Good
discipline for Daniel, too, to have to give up this armchair for one
evening!  Even I have to get out of it when he wants it.  But naturally
he can't put his _mother_ out of the only really comfortable chair in
the house."

"But Danny paid for that chair," explained Sadie.  "It would be
funny--ain't?--if he couldn't sit in his own chair when he wants!"

"The spare-room bed ain't made up," Jennie frowned at Margaret.  "And
nobody has time to make it up at four o'clock on Saturday afternoon!
Anyhow, strangers stopping over night is apt to give Sadie the
headache.  And Mom never _wants_ to be away from her own bed.  She
won't can home herself in a strange bed, can you, Mom?"

But Margaret spoke before Mrs. Leitzel could reply.  "_I'll_ make up
the guest bed.  It won't take me ten minutes.  Mother"--she patted Mrs.
Leitzel's shoulder--"I'll be right downstairs again in ten minutes."

But Mrs. Leitzel clung to her hand.  "Don't let me alone with--stay by
me, Margaret----" she pitifully pleaded.

"You shall come upstairs with me, then, to my room," Margaret said,
helping her, now, to rise to her feet.

"No, Margaret, Mom's to go back on the five o'clock train," affirmed
Jennie peremptorily.  "Our Danny give her the money to go back.  It
ain't for _you_ to be using our clean linens to make up the spare bed.
Come on, Mom."

Jennie laid an ungentle grasp upon her step-mother's arm, but Margaret,
her face suddenly ablaze with indignation, confronted her.

"Jennie!  This is my husband's home, and his feeble mother shall be his
guest and mine until to-morrow morning."

"She ain't his mother, she ain't even a blood relation.  And what right
have _you_, I'd like to know, to meddle in our family affairs?" Jennie
fiercely demanded.  "It's just your con_tra_riness that makes you want
to do everything that you see will spite us; for what other reason
would a person like you have for taking up with an uneducated old woman
like Mom?  You wouldn't _look_ at a person like her if it was not to
spite us!"

"What right have I?  The right of the humane to protect the helpless
from brutality, under any and all circumstances, without exception.
She shall not leave this house to-day!"

"Now, Mom," Sadie turned on her step-mother, "you see what you make by
coming here like this, without leaving us know!  Ain't you worrying us
enough all the time, without raising more trouble between us and
Danny's wife yet?"

"Yes, yes, I'll go.  Please, my dear"--she turned to Margaret,--"leave
me go.  I'd rather die on the way home than stay and make it unhappy
for you, Margaret!  Danny will take up for them, you know, so I can't
stay and make trouble.  Leave me go, my dear!"

"But if you don't make your mother welcome here," Margaret addressed
both Jennie and Sadie, "I shall have to go with her.  I can take her to
Catherine Hamilton's for the night.  Or," she added with sudden
inspiration, "to Mrs. Ocksreider's, and ask _her_ if she won't give her
a bed until the morning.  She shall not take that journey to-night!"

Jennie glared in baffled fury, while Sadie turned white with dismay.

"Danny won't leave you do such an outrageous thing!" the elder sister
said hoarsely.

"Daniel can't stop me.  Come, mother."

"You don't mean to say you'd do as mean a thing as that--take _Mom_ to
_Mrs. Ocksreider's_!"

"But I am so sure that Mrs. Ocksreider is the very person who would be
very glad to receive her for the night."

"You up and tell me to my face you'd disgrace us like that!"

"But where would the _disgrace_ come in?" asked Margaret innocently.

"Where would the disgrace come in?" repeated Jennie hotly.  "_Don't_
you see any disgrace in telling Mrs. Ocksreider that we won't leave our
mother (even if she is our step-mother) sleep at our place over night?"

"Then you admit that you _are_ acting disgracefully in turning her out?"

"You wait till Danny comes home and he'll show you if you can go
against me like this in his house!" Jennie violently threatened, more
furious than ever at being trapped by her own words.  "Now you leave
Mom be till I take her out to the car!"

"No, Jennie, if she goes I go with her--to our friend, Mrs. Ocksreider.
Therefore, it behooves you----"

But it was just at this instant that the sitting-room door opened and
Daniel walked into their midst.

"Margaret!  I've got an automobile at the door.  Get your hat----"

He stopped short in astonishment at sight of his step-mother, at
Margaret's attitude of shielding her against the evidently furious
antagonism of Jennie and the cold disapproval of Sadie.

"Well?" he demanded testily.  "What's up?  How did you get up _here_,
mother?"

"Yes, how did she, when you gave her the money to go home yet?" scolded
Sadie.

Margaret, leaving the statement of the situation to Jennie, remained
silent.

"Who brought you up here?" Daniel inquired of the old woman.

"I come by myself, Danny.  I wanted to see your wife and the twinses,
and I conceited I'd be gone before the girls got home.  But I'll go
right aways now.  I'm sorry I come.  I didn't want to make no
trouble--I----"

She made a movement from Margaret's side, but the latter clasped her
firmly.

"Margaret," commanded Daniel, "let her go."

"I have invited her to spend the night here, Daniel.  She is not able
to go home to-night."

"I'll take care of that--this is not your affair.  Let her alone!  Take
your hands off her!"

"Will you let her spend the night here?"

"I said I would take care of that.  Take your hands off her."

Margaret obeyed.

"Now come here, mother."

Mrs. Leitzel walked feebly toward him, but Margaret walked beside her.

"Now, you see, Danny, how con_tra_ry she acts!" Jennie broke forth.  "I
wanted to take Mom out to the trolley car and Margaret would not leave
her come along, when Mom said she _wanted_ to come, too!"

"Well, _I'm_ here now," returned Daniel grimly.  "I'll take you to the
station, mother," he pronounced conclusively, taking the old woman's
arm.

"Daniel!  Your mother can't go home alone this evening!  It will be
cruel of you to send her!"

Daniel, ignoring her, led his mother to the hall.

"I tell you I'm going to stop this cruelty!" cried Margaret, darting
upstairs to get her wraps.

She was down again almost immediately, her coat over her arm, but when
she reached the sidewalk the automobile containing her husband and his
mother was beyond her reach.

"I may be able to get to the station before that five o'clock train!"
she thought, starting almost on a run to go the length of the town to
the depot, putting on her coat and gloves as she went.  "I believe his
mother will die on the way if she goes, and has to walk that half-mile
alone in the dark, after being subjected to all this horrible scene!
Oh, my God!  What people they are!"

She realized, on her way, that her purse was empty, her monthly
allowance having been spent, and that she had not even money for
trolley car fares--a serious handicap in her efforts to help Mrs.
Leitzel.

When, panting for breath, a sharp pain in her side, she reached the
station, the train to Martz was just pulling out.

Daniel, smiling blandly, came toward her along the platform.

"God help me!" was the cry of her heart, "that I cannot even hate
him--he is too utterly pitiable!  If I could hate him, there might be
some hope for us!"

"Want to take a little ride, my dear?" he inquired, waving his hand to
the waiting automobile.

"Take me home," she returned weakly, feeling suddenly collapsed and
helpless.

"You know," he said as he helped her into the car, "you ought not to
excite yourself like this--it's bad for Daniel Junior's milk--about
something, too, that is no concern of yours.  And I want to warn you
also," he added, lowering his voice so that the chauffeur might not
hear him, as the car turned into the street, "that you've _got_ to
refrain from offending Jennie and Sadie so constantly.  They have a
_lot_ of money to leave to our children.  Keep on offending them as you
are doing and they'll will all they have to Hiram's children!" said
Daniel in a tone that expressed all the horror that such a possibility
contained for him.

Margaret did not reply.

"You get me?" Daniel inquired.

"Considerations like that, Daniel, have never entered into my
philosophy of life, thank God!"

"Margaret, you really must break yourself of this dreadful habit of
swearing!  It's so unladylike!  And so unchristian!"

"Oh, my good Lord, Daniel!  Don't dare to talk to me about anything's
being 'unchristian,' when you have just done a cruel, _cruel_ thing to
your aged, helpless mother!  I don't profess and loudly flaunt _my_
'Christian principles,' but I do believe in the Golden Rule.  Evidently
you don't.  Don't _speak_ to me!"

"Hoity-toity!  Cut out these tantrums, Margaret; they're bad for the
boy, you know."

"Why don't you tell the Y.W.C.A. about your smart 'deal' with your
tenant, George Trout, and your treatment of your step-mother?  Maybe
they'd send you another congratulatory letter that you could have
published in the _Intelligencer_."

"You heed my warning about offending Jennie and Sadie," was Daniel's
reply.

"At the time of your father's death was the title of the farm at Martz
vested absolutely in him?"

Margaret had the satisfaction of seeing Daniel start and turn red at
her question, as he turned abruptly and looked at her.

"What makes you ask that?" he nervously demanded.

"Was it?" she repeated.

"Why do you wish to know?"

"It was," she affirmed.

"_How_ do you know?" he sharply questioned.

"That same old Woman's Intuition."

"I insist on your answering me intelligibly!  What do you know of
business matters like that anyhow?"

"Not much, but a little."

"Understand, Margaret, once and for all, that my business affairs and
that of my folks are no least concern of yours!"

"_Yours_ are."

"They are not!"

"Oh, yes, they are, Daniel.  You and I are life partners and I am the
mother of your heirs.  Therefore, I have _every_thing to do with your
business.  Neither I nor my children shall live on stolen money."

"Stolen money!  You talk to _me_ of 'stolen money,' when I stand in
this community as the one honest, upright, Christian lawyer!  Gracious,
Margaret, I certainly expected that after the children were born I'd
have back again the sweet girl I married!  I'm beginning to feel that
I've been awfully taken in!"

Margaret leaned back in the automobile, closed her eyes, and did not
answer.  During the remainder of the ride the silence between them was
unbroken.



XXIV

Immediately after dinner Margaret went to her room, got into a negligé,
and sitting down to her writing-desk, began a letter to Walter.

She stated the case of the Leitzel coal lands under the guise of
Western gold mines and asked her brother-in-law to give her all
possible light on the legality of the case for the benefit of the
"grandmother."

"If the laws governing such a case differ greatly in the different
states," she wrote, "please give me all the _general_ information on
the subject that you can.  This is a very important matter to me,
Walter, though I can't tell you _why_; nor can I explain to you why I
consult you rather than Daniel on a question of law.  The fact is, I am
preparing a little surprise for Daniel."

At this point in her letter she paused, resting her elbow on her desk
and her head on her hand.  "Walter will see right through my disguises
and subterfuges," she reflected.  "He will understand _perfectly_ what
the surprise is that I am preparing for Daniel.  And in his reply he
will undoubtedly tell me what the law of _Pennsylvania_ is governing
such a case as I've outlined.  Well," she drearily sighed, "I can't
help it if he does see through it, I can't be a party to defrauding
that old woman, as I _would_ be if I consented to live here on money
that ought to be hers."

She took up her pen again and dipped it into her ink, but the bedroom
door opened and Daniel entered.

She looked so pretty in the dainty pink negligé which she wore, and
with her abundant dark hair hanging in two heavy braids down her back,
that Daniel, despite the coldness which had prevailed at dinner, came
to her side, put his bony arm about her shoulders and patted her bare
arm.

"Writing to Walter, I see," he remarked; and quickly she covered her
letter with a blotter.

"Yes," she answered.

"Glad you are.  I've not _yet_ got an answer out of him.  Are you, my
dear, repenting of your unwifely behaviour and writing to him what I
want you to?"

"I'm doing what I consider my wifely duty, yes."

"Good!  I knew I'd get my sweet girl back again!  Let me see what
you've written.  All this!" he exclaimed, reaching across the desk to
pick up her letter; but Margaret, looking at him in startled amazement,
held him off.

"I haven't said you could read my letter, Daniel."

"Do you have secrets from me, Margaret?"

"Do you have any from me, Daniel?"

"That's neither here nor there.  Come, let me see your letter, my dear!"

"I don't wish to.  Why do you want to?"

"You are writing something to your brother-in-law you don't want me to
know about?" he accused her, his narrow gaze piercing her.

Margaret quickly decided to resort to guile.

"Daniel," she smiled upon him, "I'm preparing a little surprise for
you."

"A surprise?" he repeated suspiciously.

"Yes.  Now, while I am finishing my letter, I want you to do something
for me.  Will you?"

"What?"

"Is there any way of finding out by telephone or telegraph," she asked,
her eyes big and sad, her lips drooping, "whether your poor mother is
by this time safe at home?  I shan't sleep a wink to-night from
worrying over that half-mile walk she had to take after dark!"

"She didn't have to take the half-mile walk.  I arranged for that.  I
gave her a quarter to pay for a 'bus ride from the station to her house
and I 'phoned to Abe Schwenck to meet her train with the 'bus.  Could I
have done _more_?"

"You really did all that?" she asked, her face lighting up with relief.

"I did all that.  So you see I'm not 'cruel' and hard-hearted.  I did
all that for one who is no relation to me and has no claim on me."

"The claim of gratitude?" Margaret suggested; "or of mere humanity?"

"As for gratitude, haven't we repaid her for her ten years' service for
us by our thirty years of taking care of her?"

"Taking care of her?"

"We've never charged her a cent of rent for the only home she has had
for thirty years."

"_Why_ wouldn't you let her stay here to-night?"

"Because we don't want to start that kind of thing, or she'd be here on
our hands _all_ the time.  Once we take her in, we'll never be able to
shake her off, and we don't want her."

"I see."

"Of course you see.  Now give me a kiss, and promise me you will turn
over a new leaf and not be so stubborn about the care of the babies and
about Catherine Hamilton and about all the other little matters in
which you tease me so that I've got indigestion!" he said fretfully.

"I act only as I must, Daniel," said Margaret sadly.  "It gives me
worse than indigestion!"

"Look at Hiram's Lizzie!  _She_ never antagonizes the girls the way you
do!" he complained, genuine anxiety in his voice.

"She doesn't live with them."

"Well, but don't you see that's where we have the advantage over Hiram?
They'll get more attached to our children because they'll see more of
them.  If you acted toward my sisters as you should, as your duty to me
and to your children requires that you should, they might leave nearly
all they have to our children, giving Hiram's children merely small
bequests."

"If I should let them have their way with our babies, they certainly
would leave all their money to Hiram's children, for there wouldn't
_be_ any babies in this house.  They'd kill them off with slow torture."

"Hiram's children haven't died and Lizzie does with them as Jennie and
Sadie have always advised her to do."

"Exceptions to every rule," Margaret briefly replied, perfectly willing
to shield Lizzie.

"Well," said Daniel emphatically, "you keep up your present injudicious
course, and the day will come when your children themselves will
reproach you for having deprived them, by your sheer perversity, of
what was justly their due."

"I hope to bring them up too well for that."

"And I hope to bring them up to have a little more judgment about money
than you have, my dear!  Well, I should say so! or they would be
ill-prepared to take care of all they will inherit!"

"They will inherit a great deal, will they?" Margaret casually inquired.

"Enough to need some common sense in the management of it."

"Couldn't you spare a little from what they'll inherit to keep that
dear old step-mother of yours for her remaining years?"

"Margaret!" said Daniel curtly, "I tell you again I want no
interference from you in my family affairs!"

"Well, then, can you, or can you not, _afford_ to give me more than ten
dollars a month for pocket money?  I find it embarrassing to be out of
money so often as I am.  It is my right to know what you can afford to
let me have."

"If you would keep an account and submit it to me, I could judge better
of the justice of your request for more.  Ten dollars a month seems to
me considerable money for a woman to spend on _nothing_, for you are
not expected to buy your clothing and food with your allowance!"

Margaret, toying with her pen, her eyes downcast, did not answer.

"If I did increase your allowance, it would be just like you to pass it
on to my step-mother!  Positively, I believe that's what you do want to
do with it!"

"You are giving me credit I don't deserve.  I was asking for the money
for myself.  I am so often embarrassed for lack of money.  I had to
borrow a dollar from Catherine Hamilton yesterday to pay Mrs. Raub for
washing my hair.  Catherine said she'd collect it from you."

"Jennie and Sadie wash their own heads."

"My hair is so thick I can't dry it myself and, you know, it would be
bad for the baby's food if I took cold."

"Adopt the rule which helped to make my success, Margaret: never let
yourself get entirely out of money.  And, my dear, if you'd do what I
ask you to--give me power of attorney--you'd have a little income of
your very own.  Why, don't you feel under some obligation to do
something for me, in return for all I do for you?"

"Have I done nothing for you?  I have given you a son and a daughter.
Can anything you ever have or ever will do for me cover _that_ debt?"

"Well," Daniel smiled, patting her neck, "you did pretty well by me in
that instance, I must admit; and I promise you this: when you can
persuade Walter Eastman to do what's fair by you as to Berkeley Hill, I
will increase your allowance."

Margaret lifted her eyes, grave and melancholy, to Daniel's face bent
smilingly above her.  "Catherine Hamilton mentioned yesterday, Daniel,
when I was obliged to borrow a dollar from her, that she felt safe in
lending it to me as you were a millionaire and your income was twenty
times (or fifty, I forget her figures) more than you spent."

"She has no business discussing my finances!"

"She didn't discuss them.  She quite casually dropped the remark (which
I confess I found rather startling in view of some things) that you
were a millionaire and could not begin to spend even a small part of
your enormous income.  Yet you let your old step-mother suffer and
subject me to the embarrassment of borrowing money to pay a
hairdresser!"

"It's your own bad management that obliges you to borrow at any time,"
Daniel coolly returned, not at all disturbed.  "And your constant
disregard of my wishes, my dear, would justify my cutting off your
allowance altogether!  But I don't do it, do I?  As for Miss Hamilton,
she's not the excellent clerk I took her for!  She has no sort of
business to discuss my income and my expenditures."

"I envy her!" Margaret suddenly cried out passionately.  "She is at
least independent, self-supporting, not a miserable parasite!  I wish I
were in her place, working honestly for wages that you would have to
pay me, instead of being in the degrading position of having to ask you
for money which you refuse me!  I'd better have gone and worked in a
factory than have done what I did!"

Her face fell on her arms and wild sobs shook her.

"Margaret!" Daniel cried in alarm and distress, his arm about her.  "My
dear!  You'll injure yourself and Daniel Junior, if you do so!  _Stop_
going on so!  Oh!" he exclaimed, "you've waked the babies with your
noise!"

A little cry from the adjoining nursery brought Margaret to her feet.
Daniel, infatuated quite humanly with his beautiful babies, followed
her eagerly, as, forgetful instantly of her own troubles, she went to
minister to her children.



XXV

In reply to her letter to her brother-in-law, Margaret received from
him, a week later, a telegram that puzzled her greatly.


_Charleston, S.C._

Important Berkeley estate business brings me to New Munich Thursday,
February tenth.

WALTER.


She had ten days before his coming to anticipate with some uneasiness
the shock he would certainly get in making the acquaintance of her
husband's sisters and in seeing the kind of home she lived in.

"If only I could dispose of that navy blue owl on the sideboard!" she
worried.  "And of all that imitation onyx in the parlour!  And the
'oil-paintings' in the sitting-room!  As for Jennie and Sadie
themselves----  Oh, what can Walter be coming here for?  I don't
suppose they've discovered coal on _our_ estate.  I hope not, such a
dirty mess as it would make!  More like _our_ luck to discover we
don't, after all, own the place."

But she found, when she announced her brother-in-law's prospective
visit, that she herself had not yet got all the shocks and surprises
the Leitzels were capable of affording her.  Her Southern sentiment of
hospitality received another unexpected blow in discovering that Jennie
and Sadie quite seriously objected to entertaining her brother-in-law
at their home.

"We ain't used to comp'ny stopping here," Jennie explained to her.
"Danny's business acquaintances always go to the _ho_tel.  It wouldn't
suit me just so well.  We ain't so young as we used to be, and it would
certainly be a worry to me to have company stopping here.  You'd best
not begin that kind of thing, Margaret.  If your brother-in-law slep'
and eat here, it would mebby give our Sadie the headache."

That New Munich hospitality, instead of being a condition of daily life
as with Southerners, was so specialized an occasion as to cause the
upsetting of a household and the expenditure of the nervous energy of a
whole family, Margaret had come to recognize.  People did not "keep
open house"; they "entertained."  But how was she to spring such a
thing upon Walter, who knew no other standard of hospitality than that
of the open Southern home?  How explain to him upon his arrival that
her home and her husband's was not open to him, and that he must stop
at a hotel?

She had not at all solved the problem when in a wholly unlooked-for way
it was solved for her.  Confined to bed one day with a violent
headache, and quite helpless to protect her babies from Jennie's
hygienic theories, the twins were kept by their aunt in a hot, airtight
room such as Jennie considered their proper environment, with the
result that they cried all day; and the next day had heavy colds--their
first disorder of any kind since their birth.  But when Margaret,
herself recovered, insisted upon taking them, suffering from influenza
as they were, out into the chill air of a cold day in January, Jennie's
thwarted will, thwarted affection, and wild anxiety for these babies of
Danny's whom she loved almost fiercely, broke all bounds, and she gave
Margaret her ultimatum.

"Or either you keep those children in the house till they're well
already, or either I and Sadie leave this house where we have to look
on at such croolities, and go to keep house by ourselves!  Yes, this
very day we go!"

Margaret paused in the strenuous work of getting little Daniel's arms
into his coat sleeves, preparatory to his outing, and gazed up at
Jennie with such a light of joyful hope in her eyes that Jennie, had
she not been too blindly furious to see it, would certainly have
withdrawn this proffered happiness from her now heartily detested
sister-in-law.

"If Danny wasn't in Philadelphia to-day, I'd 'phone to his office and
have him _make_ you keep them in!" she raged frantically.  "They'll get
pneumonia, so they will!"

"Daniel couldn't make me, Jennie.  I act under the doctor's orders.
Daniel's a lawyer, not a physician.  I'm taking the babies out to
_save_ them from having pneumonia."

"Daniel couldn't make you, couldn't he?  Well, I can!  Yes, and I mean
what I say!  You take these babies out on a day like this when they're
sick, and I and Sadie _move out this very day_!" she harshly
reiterated, under the delusion that Margaret would never put her to the
test: for not only was Jennie incapable of realizing Margaret's utter
indifference to the economic advantage of their joint housekeeping, but
it also seemed to her wholly incredible that her sister-in-law could
subject her devoted and indulgent husband to the suffering he would
certainly undergo if deprived of his sisters' constant ministrations to
his comforts.

"And when Danny comes home from Philadelphia to-night and finds us
_gone_ and our half of the furniture being moved out, what do you think
he'll say to _you_ for driving us out?"

Margaret, realizing that she must conceal the heaven opened up by this
unexpected ultimatum, quickly cast down her eyes, that her tormentor
might not see her quivering eagerness.

"I'll _goad_ her to moving out!" she desperately resolved.  "Oh! if
only I can make it impossible for her to back down from her threat."

She suddenly raised her eyes again and laughed sarcastically.  "Oh, you
can't scare me with your threats!  _You'll_ not go!"

"You'll see whether we won't!  You just dare to take those sick
children outside this house, and you won't find I and Sadie here when
you come home!"

"That won't worry me.  You'll be back soon enough.  Catch _you_ leaving
your brother's house!  Oh, no, my dear, you don't fool me for one
minute.  Why, where on earth would you go?"

"Maybe you don't know," put in Sadie triumphantly, "that Jennie and me
_own_ the nice empty house at the corner that the tenants moved out of
because we wouldn't repaper!"

"Yes," exclaimed Jennie, "we own it and it's empty; and it's all been
cleaned only last week a'ready.  So then you _see_ if we couldn't move
out of here perfectly convenient!"

Margaret's hopes rose higher, while at the same time she suffered
fearful misgivings lest by any inadvertency on her part they be dashed.

"Ha!" she laughed derisively and most artificially.  "You'd never move
in there and lose the rent of that house!  You can't fool me!  _I'm_
not scared.  Come, baby dear, other little arm now!" she said, tugging
at Daniel Junior's coat.  "_Fancy_ your moving out!  Ha!"

Her utterly unnatural tone of taunting sarcasm ought not to have
deceived even so slow a mind as Jennie Leitzel's, but the woman's rage
dulled what penetration she ordinarily had and she was completely
misled.

"I'm not _trying_ to fool you!" she almost screamed.  "I tell you that
sure as you go out the door with those two twins, my brother, when he
comes home this evening, will find us and our furniture _gone_, never
to come back!  I'll prove it to you, I'll _prove_ it!  And we'll take
Emmy along, and there'll be no dinner _for_ my poor brother when he
comes home!"

"Oh, yes, there will," Margaret laughed quite sardonically.  "There
will be dinner and there will be two dear, devoted sisters.  If you do
take your departure, you'll be _back_ soon enough!"  Her unnatural
tones kept it up, every phrase carefully calculated to force the
consummation she so devoutly wished, though inwardly her very soul was
sick at the part she played; for deep down in her heart there was an
undercurrent of pity for these poor creatures so limited in their
capacity for happiness and yet capable of fiercely loving the babies so
dear to them all and the brother they had cherished from babyhood.

"You'll _see_, then, if we'll come back again!" Jennie hoarsely harked
back at her.  "Yes, you'll see!  And you'll see what Danny'll----"

Margaret having tucked the babies warmly into their coach, laughed
again devilishly as she wheeled them out to the porch.

"_You'll_ be back!  Bye-bye until I _see_ you again!"  And with a peal
of mocking laughter, so cleverly melodramatic that she marvelled at her
own hitherto unsuspected histrionic talent, she disappeared.

And so it transpired that the marriage of Daniel Leitzel afforded one
more sensation to New Munich's not yet surfeited taste for gossip
concerning their notable townsman; for when Daniel got home that
evening at seven o'clock he found a dismantled and disordered house, no
dinner, no cook, no sisters; only two sweetly sleeping babies in the
nursery and a wife with a face uplifted with a new-born happiness and
peace.  So deep was the serenity that had settled upon her and upon the
servantless, dismantled, and disordered household, that Daniel's rage
and grief, his bitter reproaches, his lamentations over the extra
expense his home would now be to him passed over her head as though it
were nothing more than the somewhat irritating cackle of an old hen.

Daniel, after a call on his sisters at their new home down at the
corner and a long and painful interview with them, in which they
affirmed that unless he exercised his marital and scriptural authority
to make Margaret apologize and promise that in the future she would
treat them and their wishes with the consideration which was their due,
they would not return to his house, though from this close proximity to
him they could and would continue to see after his comforts--after this
most unsatisfactory and upsetting conversation with his sisters, Daniel
went to his bed very late that night, feeling, for the first time in
his life, that he was abused of Fate; but Margaret lay awake long,
revelling ecstatically in the realization that now at last she had a
home of her very own; two lovely babies on whom she could expend the
pent-up riches of her heart and in whom her own highest ideals might
perhaps be wrought out; a friend who deeply shared her life and whom
now she could freely bring into the sanctum of her own home.  Oh, life
was full and rich!  She was young, she was strong, she was happy.

The husband asleep at her side was a negligible quantity in her
estimate of her blessings; he was a responsibility she had incurred and
to which she certainly meant to be faithful.  It was not in his power
to make her very unhappy.

But Margaret was, in fact, rejoicing a little too soon.  Jennie and
Sadie had gone out from her home, but they had not yet gone out of her
life, as she was to realize later.

Daniel's anger was not modified when, next morning, he was obliged, for
the first time in his life, to get up and attend to the furnace and the
kitchen range.  Margaret judiciously repressed her amusement at his
plight.

"Oh, well, dear, you are not the only one.  It's the first time in my
life I ever had to get up and get breakfast," she offered what seemed
to him most irrelevant consolation.

"Marriage," she reflected philosophically when, without kissing her
good-bye, he left her to go to his office, "must be an adjusting of
one's self to, and acceptance of, the inevitable, Daniel being the
Inevitable!"

She decided, as she called up the Employment Office, that she needed
three servants, but she did not have the temerity to engage more than
one.  For here was a point at which Daniel held the whip-hand: he could
refuse to pay the wages of those he considered superfluous, and she had
no money of her own.

"As Jennie and Sadie paid half of Emmy's wages," she reflected, "it
will go hard with Daniel to have to pay the maid entirely himself.
Anyway," she rejoiced, "I shan't now have to send Walter to a hotel."



XXVI

Margaret bent all her energies to readjusting the household--_her_
household now--in preparation for Walter's visit, to which she could,
under these changed conditions, look forward with eager pleasure.  But
here again she ran upon a snag.

"Every cloud has a silver lining," Daniel sentimentally remarked,
preparatory to the discussion of the new furniture necessary to replace
what his sisters had removed.  "You can now have your own things sent
up from the Berkeley Hill home.  Half of all that old mahogany, silver,
rugs, books, and pictures.  I couldn't afford to _buy_ such valuable
furniture as you've got there.  And solid silver, too."

"Strip Berkeley Hill, my sister's home! and bring those things into
this house!" Margaret almost gasped.  "But don't you see, Daniel, this
isn't the sort of house for old colonial furniture?  It would be
incongruous.  What this house needs is early Victorian."

"The freightage on your things won't come to nearly so much as new
furniture would cost, even though we bought the grade of stuff the
girls had here.  And you can tell your sister Harriet that _I'll_ pay
for the crating and packing.  It isn't right that I should, for they've
had the use of your things all this time, but you can tell her I'm
perfectly willing to do that.  Or, never mind writing to her; we can
arrange it with Walter when he comes."

So strong was Margaret's sentiment for Berkeley Hill that it would have
hurt her as much to see its familiar furnishings in this alien setting
in New Munich as it would have hurt Harriet to strip her home.  She did
not, however, pursue the discussion with Daniel.  Walter would be
privately informed as to her wishes in the matter; and the places left
bare by Jennie's and Sadie's departure would remain bare until Daniel
saw fit to buy furniture to fill them.

Meantime, she managed, though with difficulty, to prepare, with what
furniture she had, a comfortable room for her brother-in-law.

"If Daniel were poor, I'd feel I _ought_ to help him out, painful as it
would be to me to see any part of Berkeley Hill installed here.  But he
doesn't need to be helped out.  Far from it!"

Daniel assumed Walter's visit to mean that at last this slow-moving
Southerner had got round to the point of noticing his insistent demands
for a settlement of Margaret's share in Berkeley Hill.  So he awaited
his arrival with much complacency.

Walter Eastman reached New Munich at ten o'clock one Wednesday morning
and Margaret met him at the station.  By the time Daniel came home to
luncheon at one o'clock the "important Berkeley Hill business" of which
Walter had telegraphed was entirely concluded between him and Margaret,
as were also a few other items of importance.

"For the present, Walter, I prefer not to tell Daniel about this news
you have brought me," she suggested at the end of their interview,
which, by the way, found her rather white and agitated.

"But of course you understand, my dear," returned Walter, "that you
can't keep him in ignorance of it long?"

"Of course not.  Just a few days.  Perhaps not so long."

"Any special reason for deferring such a pleasant announcement?"

"I want to spring it on him as a palliative, a sort of compensation,
for something else which won't prove so pleasant."

"Ah, by the way," said Walter with apparent irrelevancy, crossing his
long legs as they sat together on a sofa of the now very bare
sitting-room, "what was the meaning, Margaret, of all that bluff you
put up on me about Western gold mines owned by a friend of yours who
thought perhaps his step-mother had a legal claim, and so forth.  Quite
a case you made out!"

"It's a true case.  I'm much interested in it.  And Daniel's clerk
happened to know that the land was vested in the step-mother's husband
at the time of his death and that he died without a will.  What I want
you to tell me now is this: can any power on earth keep that widow from
her one third interest in those coal--gold mines, if she claim her
share?"

"No, if she has never signed away her rights."

"She hasn't done that."

"You say your husband's clerk was working on the case?  Then it's the
case of a client of his?"

"Yes, the case of a client of his."

"And a friend of yours, you said?"

"Yes.  His clerk wasn't exactly working on it; she simply told me, when
I asked her, that she knew the mining land to have been vested
absolutely in the husband."

"And you wrote me that the step-mother has not had her share because
she's too ignorant to claim it, and that she's in want.  That right?"

"Yes."

"I should say, then, no mercy should be shown those who have defrauded
her.  They should be made to pay up, especially as it was this old
woman's hard labour and self-sacrifice in the first place (so you
wrote) that saved the home and land for the family."

"Tell me, Walter, dear, _how_ shall the old woman set about getting her
dues?"

"Simply hire a lawyer to bring suit."

"But her religion forbids her to go to law."

"Then you're stumped.  Nothing to be done."

"But I've learned that sometimes the New Mennonites allow some one else
to bring suit _for_ them."

"Aha!" laughed Walter.  "All right.  Let her have her lawyer bring suit
for her."

"Can he surely recover her share?"

"Surely, if all the facts you've given me are correct, her share can be
reclaimed without a struggle."

"I'm certain that all the facts I've given you are correct."

"You seem to be certain of a good deal about these far-distant
acquaintances of whom I never heard, Margaret."

Margaret cast down her eyes, her face flushing; but after an instant:
"Thank you, Walter," she said.  "I'm very much indebted to you.  One
more favour: kindly refrain from mentioning this case of the silver
mines to Daniel."

"'Silver' mines?"

"Gold mines.  Ah, here he comes now!  And not a word, remember, of the
news you've brought me!"

"All right, my dear."

"And as for the furnishings of Berkeley Hill; sit tight and don't
argue.  Daniel always comes round to my way in the end, but it takes a
bit of time and diplomacy."

"Poor Daniel, he's like the rest of us, henpecked lot that we are!"
Walter teased her.  "He comes round to your way because he's got to; no
escape!  But if I know your Pennsylvania Dutch Daniel, Margaret, and
his letters to me have been very self-revealing, he wishes sometimes
that the good old wife-beating days were with us yet!"

"No, Daniel isn't like that; he isn't a bit _brutal_--at least in the
sense of rough.  He's very gentle, really."

Daniel, now knowing his brother-in-law to be an impecunious and, by
Leitzel standards, rather an incapable, unimportant sort of a man,
manifested in his curt greeting of him the small esteem he felt for him.

But he found, during his noon hour of respite, that his repeated
efforts to talk business with this discounted individual were very
skilfully parried.

"We have a pretty big bill, Eastman, against that South Carolina
estate," he began over his soup.  "A whole year's rent, you know, for
Margaret's half of the house, land, and furniture.  But Margaret is
willing to waive that, in fact, _quite_ willing, and I concur in her
willingness.  We shan't press that.  We'll let that go, especially now
that you've come to settle up.  If you'd waited much longer, we might
not have been so willing to waive the year's rent.  Eh, Margaret?"

"_Please_, Daniel!" Margaret murmured, hot with shame as she saw
Walter's crimson embarrassment and rising anger.

"Well, of course, I don't mean," said Daniel, who considered himself a
remarkably tactful man, "that Margaret would have gone so far as to
bring suit.  Not against her own sister, certainly.  Nor would _I_,
either, sanction such an extreme measure.  But right is right, you
know, and law is law."

"I've got a case on my hands," retorted Walter, avoiding Margaret's
eye, "of a widow who for over thirty years has received no rent for her
third share of some mines--oh, silver mines."

"You ought to draw a big fee for a case like that!" exclaimed Daniel,
his eyes gleaming.  "A regular big haul; enough to set you up for life!
Silver mines!  Well, I should say!"

"I don't expect to get much out of it."

"You'll never get much out of anything," grumbled Daniel, "the way
_you_ do business!"

"Sometimes, however, business men are so extremely devoted to their own
interests, to the exclusion of all human appeal and all natural ties,
that their 'vaulting ambition o'erleaps itself.'"

"Ah, Shakespeare!" nodded Daniel.  "Very aptly quoted.  Yes, but the
prudent, astute business man looks ahead and on all sides before he
'vaults.'  I've never taken one hasty, ill-considered step in my life.
And look at the result!  I've a--a very comfortable living," he
concluded, with a furtive glance at his wife.

"The modern rule for getting rich," Walter, having quite recovered his
equanimity, casually remarked, "seems to be to skin other people."

"Ah, but you go about it too clumsily, my friend!" returned Daniel,
grinning.  "Don't try to skin people who have all the law and, I may
say, all the brains on their side!"

Walter stared.  "_I_ try to skin people!"

"Well, it wouldn't be very civil of me, would it, when you are my guest
at my own table, to accuse you of trying to skin my wife and me of her
half of Berkeley Hill?  I hope I am a man of too much tact to commit a
breach of hospitality and etiquette like that!  But this I will say----"

Margaret, however, seeing her husband to-day with Walter's eyes, was so
swept with shame that she could not endure it.  "Daniel!" she
interposed, fearing that Walter, with Southern heat, would rise and
slay her husband, "do let me enjoy Walter for one day without bothering
about business, won't you?  Wait until to-night to talk things out."

"As I'm obliged to get back to the office by two o'clock, I suppose I
shall have to wait until this evening.  But I've already waited over a
year!" said Daniel, glancing at Walter to note the embarrassment he
expected his brother-in-law to feel at this thrust.

But Walter was, by this time, beyond feeling anything but wonder and
amusement at Leitzel's conversation, with, also, a sense of
consternation at his fresh realization of poor Margaret's fate in being
saddled to a "mate" like this, who, apparently, let her have none of
the compensations which his huge wealth might have afforded her.

"But you know," he trivially replied to Daniel's thrust, "'all things
come to him who waits.'  You waited pretty long for a wife, didn't you,
Mr. Leitzel, and now you've _got_ one--very much so!--a hotheaded
little Southerner, with ideals of chivalry and honour and honesty which
I fear must make your hair stand up sometimes, you bloated capitalist!
Yes, in these days, when a man marries, he finds himself very _much_
married, eh, Leitzel?" he inquired with a lightness which Daniel
thought extremely unbecoming under the circumstances.

"Well," he retorted irritably, "I'll admit that sometimes I do think
I'm a little too much married!"

"I'm afraid we've lost the art of keeping them within their 'true
sphere'; they've got rather beyond us in these days, haven't they?"

"They're not nearly so womanly as they used to be!" said Daniel
sullenly.

"But what are we going to do about it, poor shrimps that we are?
Suppose, for instance, that a man's wife has a quixotic idea of honour,
eccentric scruples about using money she thinks was not come by in
quite an ideal way, what's a corporation lawyer going to _do_ about it,
if she sets up her will, eh?"

"There are the quite easy divorce courts," said Daniel darkly.

"But there is also alimony."

"The marriage laws of our land," affirmed Daniel, "ought to be revised."

"They will be, as soon as women get the vote," said Walter.  "And
then----"

But Margaret, fearing the lengths to which her brother-in-law might go
in this reckless mood, brought the talk abruptly to an end.

"It's a quarter to two, Daniel.  You'll be late to your office.  I'll
have dessert brought in at once.  And you know it always takes you
fifteen minutes to say good-bye to the children.  It feels so grand,
Walter, to refer to 'the children!'  In the plural!  I can't yet
believe or realize it!  And as for Daniel--well, he's a Comic
Supplement, you know, about those twins," she rattled on, keeping the
talk, during the remainder of the luncheon, away from thin ice.  So
that at last, when Daniel rose to go away, the suspicion roused by his
brother-in-law's remarks had been brushed aside and lost sight of; for
the time being, at least.



XXVII

Daniel Leitzel's marriage had revealed to him a trait in himself of
which he had never before been conscious, a trait which no
circumstances of his life, hitherto, had roused into action; he
discovered, through his love for Margaret, that he could be intensely
jealous.  Any least bit of her bestowed otherwhere than upon himself
was sure to arouse in his heart this most painful emotion.  He was
jealous of her passion for books; of her friendship for Catherine
Hamilton; of her devotion to the twins; and now, to-day, of her
evidently chummy relation with her brother-in-law.  It was, then, not
only his eagerness to get down to real business with Walter Eastman
that made him hurry through his office work and get home an hour
earlier than usual, but it was also the uncomfortable jealousy he felt
for Eastman, together with a return, during the afternoon, of the vague
suspicion Eastman's rambling, enigmatical remarks at luncheon had
roused in his mind, that goaded him.

The fact was that some things Walter had said, as they kept recurring
to Daniel, were coming to have a sinister significance.

To his keen disappointment and chagrin, however, he found, when he got
home, that neither his wife nor their guest was in the house.

Seeking out the very capable maid Margaret had succeeded in securing,
he discovered her in a state of sulky indignation that would scarcely
vouchsafe to him a civil or intelligible answer to his inquiries.

"Where is Mrs. Leitzel, Amanda?"

"I don't know where your wife's at.  She went out with that fellah,"
the girl crossly replied.

"'Fellah?'" repeated Daniel, indignant in his turn at what, even in a
New Munich servant, seemed very rude familiarity.

"The fellah you're eatin' and sleepin' here," elucidated Amanda.

"Did she take the twins with her?"

"No, sir, she did _not_; she left 'em in _my_ charge!"

"Why, then, are you not with them?" Daniel asked in quick anxiety.

"I _was_ with 'em till them two women come in here interferin'!"

"Two women?  Ah, my sisters!  Are they here?  Where are they?"

"Out there on the porch wakin' up them two babies your wife left
asleep, with me in _charge_ of 'em!  If them women hadn't of been two
of them to one of me, they wouldn't of got the chanct to wake up them
twinses, you bet you!"

Daniel banged the kitchen door spitefully and started for his sisters,
his sore and lacerated soul crying out for the sympathy, the
consolation their own aggrieved spirits would offer to his wrongs and
worries at the hands of a wife who, owing him everything, seemed to
find her chief occupation in irritating and thwarting him.

He found Jennie and Sadie bending solicitously over the twins, who,
roused from their regular sleep, were wailing fretfully.

"Yes, Danny, no wonder your poor babies cry!" Jennie exclaimed as he
appeared.  "All alone out here in the cold, on a day like this yet!
Yes, this is where we found 'em when we come in!  This is where you can
find 'em most any time!"

"We saw Margaret start out walking with a strange young man, Danny,"
Sadie explained, "and we come right over to see whatever had she done
with these poor babies; and this is where we found them--alone out here
in the cold."

"They wasn't alone, no such a thing!" Amanda shouted from the doorway
whither she had followed Daniel.  "I was right in here with my eye on
'em every minute, like Missus give me my orders before she went out
a'ready!  I'm a trustworthy person, I'd like you to know, if I am a
poor workin' girl, and I ain't takin' no in_sults_!"

"Nobody is blaming _you_," Daniel snapped back at her.

"Yes, they are, too!  These here two women come in here and begun
orderin' me round like as if _they_ was hirin' me!  I take my orders
from _one_ Missus, not from three!"

"We told her to bring the coach indoors and she flatly refused!" cried
Jennie.

"My orders," said Amanda, folding her arms and standing at defiance,
"was to leave 'em out.  When Missus tells me to bring 'em in, I'll
bring 'em in.  Not _till_."

"Amanda," said Daniel impressively, "these ladies are my sisters and
when they tell you to do a thing, you must do it."

"Do they hire me and pay me my wages?"

"_I_ hire you and pay you your wages."

"Then have I got _four_ bosses yet at this here place?  Not if I know
it!"

"Take this coach into the house!" ordered Daniel.

"When Missus tells me to.  See?"

"Danny," Sadie offered a suggestion, "leave me take the babies over to
our house while their mother is away.  The idea of her going off like
this and leaving these poor infant twins in the care of a hired girl
that she ain't had but a week and don't know anything about!  Don't it
beat all!"

"I'd thank you not to pass no insinyations against my moral character!"
Amanda retorted.  "If them twinses own mother could trust 'em to me, I
guess it's nobody else's business to come in here interferin'.  I
wasn't told, when I took this place, that I'd be up against a bunch
like _this_, tryin' to order me round and passin' in_sults_ at me!"

"That will do, Amanda," said Daniel with dignity.  "Go out to your
kitchen."

Amanda flounced away, as Sadie wheeled the baby-coach down the paved
garden path to the sidewalk, followed by anxious cautions from Jennie
to "go slow" and not strain her back pushing that heavy coach.

"You poor Danny!" Jennie commiserated with him as they together entered
the parlour.  "The way Margaret uses you, it most makes me sick!  Even
her hired girl she teaches to disrespect you!  Ain't?"

"My life with Margaret is not exactly a 'flowery bed of ease,'" Daniel
ruefully admitted.

"If only you hadn't of been so hasty to get married already, Danny!
You could of done so much better than what you did!"

"But with all Margaret's faults," Daniel retorted, his pride of
possession pricked by the form of Jennie's criticism, "she's the most
aristocratic lady I ever met."

"Oh, well, but I don't know about that either, Danny.  It seems to me
she has some wonderful common ways.  I never told you how one day when
our hired girl was crying with a headache, Margaret went and _put her
arm around her_ yet and called her 'my dear,' and made her lay down
till she rubbed her head for her!  I told her afterward, she could be
good to Emmy without making herself _that_ common with her."

"And what did she say?"

"Och, she just laughed.  You know how easy she can laugh.  At most
anything she can fetch a silly laugh."

Jennie walked into the sitting-room as she talked, inspecting
Margaret's makeshift arrangements to conceal the gapes caused by the
removal of the furniture which was hers and Sadie's.

"I'm awful sorry, Danny, that you'll have the expense of new furniture,
when if Margaret had treated us right, we never would have left you.
And the very day you can make her pass her promise that she'll act
right to us, we'll be right back."

"I'll never get her to," Daniel pouted.  "She's too glad you're gone."

"'Glad!'" echoed Jennie, horrified at the idea that her act of
vengeance in her sudden departure with her things an act so fearfully
expensive and inconvenient to her and Sadie, should be affording joy to
her enemy.

"She was working you all the time to get you to go.  She's half crazy
with delight at keeping house by herself.  I certainly can't get her to
promise anything that would bring you _back_."

"Oh!" Jennie gasped, her face almost gray from her deep sense of
defeat.  "But look how we took all the care of housekeeping off of her!
And how it saved _expense_ for us to live together and----"

"She never thinks of the _expense_ of anything!"

"And to think," said Jennie, her voice choked, "she feels _glad_ to put
you to all that exter expense and she with not a dollar of her own!
Och, Danny, I don't know how you take it so good-natured off of her!  I
can't bear to see you used so!  And to think that you'll have to spend
for furniture if she keeps on being too stubborn-headed to apologize to
us!"

"Well, as to the furniture, Jennie, her brother-in-law is here, and I'm
going to have him ship to us the furniture that belongs to Margaret
from her old home.  It's very handsome and expensive furniture.  Much
more expense than I could afford to buy.  It's the handsomest furniture
I ever saw."

"But I didn't know she had _any_thing!" Jennie exclaimed in surprise.

"She has nothing but a half interest in a tumbledown old country place."

"And look at how lordly she wants to act to you, and to us yet, that
have our own independent incomes!"

They had reached the dining-room in their inspection of the house, and
Jennie noticed at once that the navy blue owl which for ten years had
stood on the sideboard was not there.

"Oh!" she cried in a tragic voice, "is the owl broke?"

"No.  Margaret won't have it on the sideboard."

"Won't have it on the sideboard!  And haven't _you_ something to say if
that owl shall stand on the sideboard or no?"

"I told her you and Sadie wouldn't like it when you found she had taken
it off."

"Danny!" Jennie said in a sepulchral tone, "mebby she's fooling you:
mebby her dopplig (awkward) hired girl broke the owl, or either
Margaret broke it herself, and is afraid to tell you.  Do you _think_
mebby?"

"No, it's up in the garret.  She told Amanda to put it clear out of
sight in the garret."

"Garret!  The blue owl pitcher!  But _why_ don't she want it here?"
Jennie demanded in mingled anger and wonder.

"Margaret don't like that owl, Jennie."

"To spite _you_ does she say she don't like it and put it in the
garret."

"I told her I would miss it.  I'm so used to it."

"And don't she care if you want it on the sideboard setting, Danny?"

"She said she'd save up and buy me a cut-glass pitcher to take its
place."

"Well, to think you haven't the dare to have your own owl on the
sideboard setting when you want it, Danny!  We'll see once if you
can't!"

She suddenly strode to the door leading into the kitchen and pulled it
open.

"Amanda, go up to the garret and fetch down the blue owl pitcher you
took up there."

"When Missus sends me."

"Danny!" Jennie appealed to her brother, "do you hear the impudence she
give me?"

"Amanda," Daniel commanded, stepping to the door, "go up to the garret
and fetch down that blue glass pitcher as my sister tells you to do."

"Missus told me to pack it away in the garret and I done it.  When she
tells me to unpack it, I'll unpack it.  Not till."

"Amanda," said Daniel, looking white and obstinate, "you'll go upstairs
and bring down that owl, or you'll pack your things and leave this
house."

"I'll leave this here house when Missus sends me!  I like the place and
I'm stayin' till I'm fired by _her_.  Not till."

"If you're not out of here in half an hour"--Daniel took out his watch
and glanced at it--"I'll send for the police and have you ejected."

Amanda glared for an instant.  "Well, my goodness!" she exclaimed at
length, "to think of my gettin' up against a common bunch like this
here, when I thought (judgin' by Missus) that I was gettin' into a
_swell_ family, the kind I'm used to!  All right!  Suits _me_ to go.  I
never worked anyhow at a house where they kep' only one maid.  I'm used
to livin' with _aristocrats_!" she flung her parting shaft as she cast
off her white apron, stamped out of the kitchen and upstairs to her
room.

"Now," Jennie triumphed as she and Daniel went back to the
sitting-room, "when Margaret comes home, she'll find out how nice it is
to have no hired girl and _us_ not here to cook, and her with company
to supper, and the babies over at our place where _she--can't--come_!"
she said with a cold-blooded incisiveness.  "Mebby, after all, Danny,
she will wish she had us back here to keep care of things for her."

"I'd like to know," Daniel pouted, "why she stays out so long with
Walter Eastman!  I came home early on purpose to talk business with
him.  I have several things of importance to settle up with him.  I
want to get through with it and see him off, for I'm in a hurry to get
Margaret's furniture here, and to see what can be done with her
property down there.  I'm sure _I_ can make it worth something.  I'll
get Eastman's wife to give me a mortgage on it and then I'll----"

The banging of the front door checked him.  "They are back at last," he
said.

"No, it's that sassy hired girl going," said Jennie with satisfaction
as she glanced from the window and saw the girl departing with a heavy
suit-case.

"I guess," said Daniel, "I'll have to eat my supper over at your house,
Jennie, if you'll invite me.  It looks as if there wouldn't be any
supper here.  Or, if there is, it will be late.  And you know how I
like to have my meal on time."

"Of course you do.  You come right along home with me, Danny, and get
your nice, warm supper at the time you're used to it!  Emmy's making
waffles for supper this evening."

"I'll leave a note for Margaret," said Daniel, going to a desk in a
corner of the room.  "She might be frightened if she came in and found
us all gone and no explanation."

"Leave her _be_ frightened; she _needs_ to worry about you, Danny!"

"Yes, but it would be bad for Daniel Junior's milk to have her get
frightened."

Jennie turned away primly.  The frankness of speech upon ordinarily
unmentionable topics, which had seemed unavoidable since the advent of
the twins, was a severe strain upon her virgin sense of propriety.

"Come on, Danny, it's five o'clock and we eat at half-past.  I want for
you to have your nice, hot waffles right off the stove."

As they left the house, Daniel saw, a few pavements off, Margaret and
Walter coming leisurely toward home, Margaret talking with eager
animation and Walter laughing in evidently keen enjoyment.

Daniel set his teeth as he whirled about and moved at his sister's side
in the opposite direction.

"All right!" he determined resentfully, looking like an angry bantam,
"I won't come home with the babies to-night until I'm _good and ready_."



XXVIII

When again, the next morning, Daniel was obliged to arise betimes and
start up the fires, he felt a little regretfully that perhaps he had
been a bit hasty in discharging the capable, if impertinent, Amanda.

"She was never impertinent to _me_," Margaret replied to his reason for
sending away her excellent maid.  "And of course she did perfectly
right in refusing to take orders from Jennie that were directly
contrary to mine."

"But from me?"

"But you say you told her she must obey your sisters even when that
meant disobeying me.  But there!  I won't discuss it!  Be sure,
however, that I shall take steps to protect myself against an
interference with my affairs that upsets my household.  I shall
instruct my next maid that when Jennie and Sadie appear, she's to stand
by her job and 'phone for the police!"

After breakfast that morning Daniel decided that he would not depart
for his office until he had "had it out" with his brother-in-law.

But Walter's ideas as to the obligations of hospitality differed rather
widely from Daniel's.  As a guest in Daniel's house, he could not
transact the business he meant that day to put through.  So he declined
emphatically his host's invitation to come with him to the sitting-room
to "talk business."

"At your office, Mr. Leitzel."

Daniel's insistence that it suited him better to have it over right
here, "without any further procrastination," did not move Walter from
his persistent refusal to discuss their affairs under this roof.  He
felt rather sure that in any business discussion he might have with
Daniel Leitzel he would be tempted to use language which a gentleman
cannot use to his host.  After the interview, he intended to take his
suit-case and go to the Cocalico Hotel.

Arrived at Leitzel's private office (Daniel feeling not at all amiable
at being forced to this second futile postponement of the adjustment
which surely Eastman must realize was inevitable) Walter stretched
himself out lazily in a comfortable chair by the window, lit a cigar,
and waited complacently for Daniel to open up fire.

So Daniel, feeling strong in the righteousness of his cause, outlined
elaborately his plan to improve Berkeley Hill and rent it for the
benefit of the joint owners; or, if Walter and Harriet preferred, he
would take a mortgage against Harriet's half of the estate.

Walter heard him through without a word of comment.

"I wish," Daniel finally concluded, "to begin work on the place at once
to make it marketable.  Can you give me the names and addresses of any
reliable contractors of Charleston?"

"Plenty of them."

"Good," said Daniel, taking from his pocket a notebook and pencil.
"Well?"

"But it is quite useless for you to write to a contractor," said
Walter, blowing a long line of smoke from his mouth: "first, because
Mrs. Eastman would not consent to mortgage away her half of Berkeley
Hill; secondly, neither Margaret nor my wife would consent to such
alterations as you propose, which would indeed quite ruin the place;
thirdly, Margaret wishes her sister to continue to live at Berkeley
Hill."

The cool effrontery of this latter made Daniel stare.

"And you," he sharply demanded, "wouldn't you feel a little more
comfortable if you paid _rent_ for the house you live in?"

"But why," smiled Walter, "should my 'feeling' in the matter interest
_you_?"

"Bluff and impudence won't carry you through when I'm on the job,
Eastman!  You'll have to come to terms or get into trouble.  We'll
seize your wife's half of the estate for back rent, and then you'll
have nothing, whereas as I propose to work this thing----"

"Your methods of 'working' business deals, Leitzel, are perfectly
familiar to me and I prefer to have nothing to do with them."

"You prefer to continue to live in Margaret's house without in any way
compensating her?  Well, I warn you, I don't intend to stand for it.
Since you take the stand you do, I'll make you pay rent for the past
year and a half!"

"Margaret didn't tell me she had given you power of attorney over her
property.  I happen to know that she and my wife have a perfectly good
understanding as to Berkeley Hill.  It isn't at all necessary for you
and me to discuss it."

"Oh, yes, it is, unless you want me to----"

"There is a much more important matter," Walter interposed, "that we
need to discuss."

Daniel's sharp little eyes bored into his like two gimlets.  "Eh?
What?"

"The case of your step-mother's right to one third of her husband's
estate."

"What do you mean?"

"Your wife's conscience, which you will of course think quixotic, but
which I, being of her own class and kind and country, quite understand,
will not permit her to live on money gotten by the defrauding of a
helpless and ignorant old woman; nor will she consent to her children's
inheriting such dishonest money.  I must tell you this morning, Mr.
Leitzel, that you and your sisters and brother must at once restore to
your step-mother what is her own, or I will bring suit for her."

Daniel, though looking white, nevertheless answered quite steadily: "My
step-mother is a New Mennonite; they do not sue at the law."

"But get others to sue for them."

"Did Margaret send for you to come up North for _this_?" Daniel
demanded, a steel coldness in his voice and look.

"She did not send for me at all.  I came to see her on quite another
matter--connected with the Berkeley Hill estate."

"Indeed?  But she has given you these data which you are using as
blackmail, has she, as to my father's widow, her religion, her rights,
her wrongs, her ignorance, and so forth?"

"Margaret has not once mentioned to me your father's widow."

"Then what do you mean?  How do you know Margaret objects to the source
of my wealth?  And what's your authority for all the rest of your
bluff?"

"I know she objects to the source of your wealth because I know _her_,
as you, Leitzel, could not know her if you lived with her through three
lifetimes, since you are not, as I've already intimated, of her race or
class or country.  I learned all the facts--the _facts_, notice--as to
the illegal withholding from your step-mother of her share of her
husband's estate entirely through surmise."

"'Surmise?'  You surmised them!  How extraordinarily perspicuous!  It's
rather surprising so sharp a lawyer has not made more of a success of
himself, eh?"

"Your idea of success and mine would differ as widely as does your
understanding and mine of your wife.  To get down to business, Mr.
Leitzel, you must at once restore to your step-mother her share in her
husband's estate, or we bring suit."

"'We?'  Who?"

"I, for the old woman."

"And what," Daniel asked, his lips stiff, "do you think you are going
to _get_ out of this?"

"A reasonable fee."

"Margaret authorizes you to say all this to me?"

"She doesn't know I'm saying it.  Has no least idea I meant to say it."

"Oh, so you are acting independently, as a counterstroke to save
yourself from being forced to pay rent for the good home you and your
family enjoy?".

"I am acting independently of Margaret anyway," returned Walter, quite
unruffled.

"Margaret will forbid it!"

"If I were not taking up this case with you this morning, Leitzel,
Margaret would herself, I am confident, put it into the hands of
another lawyer, who might not be so interested as I am in keeping it
out of the newspapers.  Margaret would probably bungle the thing and
get herself into a mess of trouble, so I've decided I'd better do it
for her and do it with a minimum of fuss and worry for her."

"She has told you she was going to put it into a lawyer's hands?"

"She has told me nothing; at least she _thinks_ she has told me
nothing."

"What do you mean by that--that she _thinks_ she has told you nothing?"

"I've said that I've _surmised_ the facts I hold."

"Well, your 'surmises' are all wrong!  Margaret would not set a lawyer
to bringing suit against me!  She's not quite a fool!  She wouldn't
deliberately disgrace the father of her children!"

"She would consider, rather, her children's shame in inheriting tainted
money."

"I'll have her down here"--Daniel rose suddenly, though his knees shook
under him--"and put it to her, and you'll _see_ whether she is loyal to
her husband or not!"

"Wait!"  Walter checked him.  "You will have her here of course if you
like, but don't you think she's been subjected to about enough
unpleasantness and nervous strain since yesterday afternoon?  I can
give you the answer she'd have for you: you will restore to your
step-mother her third, or she will first institute a suit to make you
do it and then (as so drastic a measure as that will make your living
together rather unendurable) she will come home to Charleston with me."

"And the twins?"

"Would of course come with her."

"And _you'd_ support them?" sneered Daniel.

"Margaret would be amply able to support them.  She wanted to postpone
telling you what it was that brought me North to see her just at this
time, but I persuaded her this morning to let me tell you at once.  It
was this: a later will of her Uncle Osmond's has been found, in a
volume of Kant's 'Critique,' giving Margaret an annual income of five
thousand dollars.  As the trustees of the estate had not yet begun the
work of founding their free-thought college, the matter was easily
adjusted.  Uncle Osmond's change of heart, he states in a note, was
brought about by a talk he had with Margaret one night in which he
discussed his will with her and she pointed out to him that having
given to him those years of her life in which a girl might prepare
herself for a career, or at least for self-support, she would, if he
left her dowerless, be stranded high and dry.  So the old curmudgeon
drew up a new will giving her a comfortable income, had it witnessed by
two psychologists from two Western universities who called on him one
day, stuck it into a damned old work on philosophy that no one would
ever dream of looking into except by accident, and so two years and a
half passed by before it was discovered."

Under the double shock of being threatened in one moment with a lawsuit
that would rob him and his sisters and brother of a large part of their
income from their coal lands, and in the next moment learning the
joyful news that his wife was heiress to an annual income of five
thousand dollars, Daniel felt weak, almost helpless.

He rallied after a few moments sufficiently to suggest feebly that he
would compromise in the case of his step-mother: give her a comfortable
income for the rest of her life.

"For you see," he reasoned, "after all, the land was my own mother's,
and my step-mother has no moral right to it."

"No use for you and me to discuss the _moral_ values of anything,
Leitzel," said Walter; "our points of view, as I've said before, being
too widely different.  So we'll stick to the legal aspect, please."

"Well, then, look at the matter practically.  My step-mother would have
no _use_ for the large income she would receive from one third of the
estate.  Her needs are too simple.  It would simply be wasted."

"That's a question for her, not for her lawyer.  The more she has, the
better her sons and daughters will treat her, I guess, human nature
being what it is!"

"What's more," argued Daniel, "she'd be under the necessity of making a
will, and at her time of life and in her state of health, that would
worry and tax her, and quite unnecessarily.  I can settle a nice income
upon her that will more than cover all her simple, modest needs."

"And hold it over her constantly that she is beholden to your
generosity!  Your tender consideration that she shall not be worried
with the making of a will does credit to your heart!  But you've let
her be worried for the past decade with impending starvation or the
poorhouse!"

"And you want to tell me," Daniel burst out, "that Margaret hasn't
talked to you!"

"Of 'a friend' of hers 'out West.'  Of course I saw right through that."

"So that," said Daniel bitterly, "was what that long letter was about
that I saw her writing to you one night, when she threw dust in my eyes
by saying she had 'a little surprise' for me up her sleeve!"

"Aha!" laughed Walter.  "Margaret always was cute!"

"'Cute!'  You call it 'cute,' to be underhanded with her own husband;
to plot to rob her own children of a large part of their inheritance;
to act in every possible way she can devise against my interests and
those of my family!  And don't you see," he tackled another line of
argument, "that it will be extremely difficult to avert a public
scandal if we actually make over to my step-mother all this money?
Whereas a compromise----"

"The only rule I know for averting scandals," said Walter, "is to live
honestly.  Yes, it may cause comment, but not so much as a lawsuit
would cause."

"You won't consider a compromise?"

"Not for an instant.  Except this," Walter added, lifting his hand; "we
will waive a claim for the accrued profits of past years."

There was a long silence between them, Daniel nervously tapping his
foot on the fender before which he sat, and Walter lounging back in his
chair, looking so lazy and indifferent, it was difficult for Daniel to
believe that this man held in his hands the power to force a man like
himself, rich, influential, secure, to give up a large part of his
annual income.

Well, there seemed to be no use in prolonging the present interview;
Daniel rose slowly to bring it to an end.

"There seems nothing more to be said, Mr. Eastman."

"But I must see this thing through, Mr. Leitzel, before I return to the
South, and I've got to return soon, so you must let me have my answer
not later than to-morrow.  That will give you time to see your brother
and sisters."

"Also time to see my step-mother, who, I happen to know, will not
_permit_ you to bring suit.  She will consent to a compromise, and an
easy one."

"You think so?"  Walter smiled confidently, though on this point he did
not feel confident.  "But whatever your step-mother may consent to,
your wife will _not_ consent to a compromise.  She hasn't the sort of
conscience that compromises.  And she considers this _her_ concern and
her children's.  I am quite sure that if you don't make full
restitution to your step-mother, Margaret will go home with me, which,
from what I have witnessed of her life here, I think may be the best
thing she can do."

"Her life here," said Daniel coldly, "is none of your business."

He turned away abruptly, as though unable to bear more, and walked
quickly from the room.

"And from beginning to end," said Walter to himself as he yawned and
stretched himself, "I was guessing!  Wasn't absolutely sure that the
case _was_ Leitzel's step-mother's!  Well," he concluded as he rose
lazily and strolled out of the building, "I'm enjoying my visit up here
quite a lot!"

But as he went through the streets to the Cocalico Hotel, his face was
very sober.

"To think of a woman like Margaret being tied up for life to a little
spider like that!  Why didn't I _see_ it when he came a-courting her!
Ah, well," he drew a long breath, "I'll do my darndest to make it up to
her!  I'll see the poor old Leitzel woman myself this morning, and I'll
get in _my_ good strokes _there_ before Dan Leitzel gets near her."



XXIX

Again New Munich was shaken to its foundations by another startling
episode in the chronicles of the Leitzels--the resurrection, as it
were, of their New Mennonite step-mother, who took up her residence in
a pretty little old stone house a few doors from Daniel's gaudy
mansion; the most expensive location in the town, with the trained
nurse, who had taken care of Mrs. Danny Leitzel when the twins were
born, established in charge of the old woman's cozy small home, as her
companion and housekeeper.

"What would we do without you Leitzels to keep us interested, not to
say excited?" Mrs. Ocksreider remarked to Margaret one day when she met
her on the street.  "_I_ never knew they _had_ a step-mother."

"She has always lived out in the country at their old home," said
Margaret, "but we all thought she ought to be nearer to us now that she
is getting so feeble and helpless; so we brought her in town."

"You mean _you_ brought her in?"

"Mr. Leitzel and I, of course."

"Did she tell you I had called on her?" Mrs. Ocksreider inquired rather
defiantly, not wholly free from an uncomfortable sense of embarrassment
at the blatant curiosity that had taken her there.

"No, but I saw your card there with a number of others," said Margaret.

"You are with the old lady a great deal, aren't you?  It is so nice of
you!"

"I am very fond of Mrs. Leitzel," Margaret replied.

"Well, she _is_ a dear," said Mrs. Ocksreider heartily; "one of the
sweetest little women I ever met.  How prettily and cozily you have
fixed up her house!  She told me you had done it all!"

"I did enjoy getting her settled near me," Margaret smiled.  "She's the
greatest comfort and blessing to me--to _any_ one who has the good
fortune to come into contact with her.  I have known few people in my
life so guileless, so kindly disposed toward every one!  The world
needs more of such souls, doesn't it, as a little leaven in the
hardness and sordidness all about us?"

"Indeed we do!" Mrs. Ocksreider piously agreed.  "And the dear old lady
is equally fond of you, my dear," she assured Margaret, patting her
arm.  "She seems so _grateful_ to you," she added, putting out a feeler.

"Yes?" said Margaret noncommittally.

"I see Miss Jennie and Miss Sadie going in to see her very often, too,"
said Mrs. Ocksreider tentatively.

"Oh, yes, every day.  They are very attentive to their mother,"
Margaret replied quite soberly.

"Are they so fond of her, too?" Mrs. Ocksreider asked, curiosity fairly
radiating from her ample countenance.  "I had never in all these years
of my acquaintance with them heard them so much as refer to their
step-mother."

"But you were never more than very formally acquainted with them,"
Margaret returned in a tone of dismissing the discussion.  "Has Miss
Ocksreider got back from New York?"

"No, I expect her to-night.  Come in to see her, Mrs. Leitzel--she
adores you!  And so few of us see anything of you at all since your
babies came.  You don't go anywhere any more, do you?  Society
certainly does miss you."

"You are very kind to say that.  I am very much tied down, of course."

"If you could get a good, capable nurse," suggested Mrs. Ocksreider,
again tentatively.  Margaret did not know that the town was agog at the
fact, that, rich as Danny Leitzel was, his wife kept no child's nurse
for her babies.

"I am trying to get one, Mrs. Ocksreider."

"If I hear of one, I'll send her to you.  Of course you were at the
luncheon yesterday, however?  _Every_ one was at _that_."

"What luncheon?" asked Margaret vaguely.

"_What_ luncheon?  She asks what luncheon!" exclaimed Mrs. Ocksreider,
casting up her eyes in horror.  "The Missionary Jubilee Luncheon of
course!"

"Oh!" cried Margaret, blushing, for this Missionary Jubilee Luncheon
had been an orgy of religious sentimentality in which the entire town
had united and nothing else had been talked of for weeks.  "I had
forgotten all about it.  I wasn't out of the house yesterday," she
added apologetically.

"But didn't Miss Jennie and Miss Sadie tell you?  I remember seeing
_them_ in the throngs."

"They didn't speak of it," replied Margaret, not adding the information
for which Mrs. Ocksreider yearned, that they did not, these days, tell
her anything, since they "did not speak as they passed by."

"But Mrs. Leitzel," pursued Mrs. Ocksreider, "how _could_ you 'forget'
a thing like our Missionary Jubilee, unless you were deaf, dumb, and
blind?"

"Miss Hamilton never spoke of it to me, and I don't see many other
people.  The truth is," Margaret owned up, "she and I were not
specially interested in it."

"Oh!  Why not?"

"Well, I'm inclined to think that the so-called 'heathen' religions
are, in most cases, as good as, or better than, the substitute offered
by the half-educated missionaries."

"'Half-educated!'  Oh, but our missionaries are not half-educated, Mrs.
Leitzel!" exclaimed Mrs. Ocksreider, shocked.  "Do you know, sometimes
I think you are not religious!  And one of the women missionaries said
yesterday that a woman without religion was like a flower without
fragrance, or a landscape without atmosphere."

"Epigrammatic," nodded Margaret, undisturbed.  "I doubt whether she
thought that up herself."

"Oh, but she was a beautiful speaker!  I only just wish you had heard
her!  You believe at least in a Supreme Being, don't you, Mrs. Leitzel?"

The absurdity of such discussion on the sidewalk was too much for
Margaret's gravity and she helplessly laughed.  But Mrs. Ocksreider
looked so grieved over her that she sobered up and answered, "I hope I
have a religion."

"What _is_ your religion, Mrs. Leitzel?"

"Well, I have ideals.  Any one with ideals is religious."

"Is _that_ all the religion you have?"

"It's more than I can manage to live up to, and we'd better not have
_very_ much more religion than we can live out, do you think so?"

This was rather too deep water for Mrs. Ocksreider and she changed the
subject.  "Oh, well, every one has to settle these questions her own
way.  I should think," she quickly added, evidently not willing to miss
her chance of clearing up a matter that was in her mind, "that Miss
Jennie and Miss Sadie would be rather jealous of their mother's
devotion to you.  She talks so much of you and she never speaks of
them."

"I'm new, you see," said Margaret, starting to move on as she felt the
ice getting thin.  How these New Munich women could pry!  "Good-bye,"
she nodded as she hurried away before she could be further sounded.

"I don't wonder, though," she thought on her way home, "that people are
curious and suspicious.  How Jennie and Sadie can have the face, after
years of cruel neglect of their mother, to lavish upon her, now that
she has a fortune to will away, such obsequious and constant attention
and devotion--oh, it's nauseating!  And their mother isn't a fool; she
is not taken in by it for one minute, I can see that."

It was only that morning that, when she had run in to see Mrs. Leitzel
for a minute, she had found her just concluding a strictly private
interview with her New Mennonite preacher and a young lawyer of the
town whom Margaret knew by sight.

"Don't tell Danny what you seen here, my dear, will you?" the old woman
nervously asked when they were alone.  "Danny would take it hard that I
got another lawyer to tend to my business.  But you see, Margaret, I
have afraid Danny would lawyer my money all off of me if he got at it."

"I'll not say a word to him," Margaret had reassured her.

"Jennie and Sadie, and Hiram when he comes to see me, now, once a week,
worries me so to make my will," she continued in a distressed voice.
"Hiram he tells me Danny's got so much more'n what he has and you got
more'n what his Lizzie has, so I had ought to leave what I got to _his_
children.  And Jennie and Sadie says they can't hardly get along since
they had to give up so much to me and I had ought to leave it to them
when I die, because Danny's got a-plenty to do with a'ready and a rich
wife yet, and Hiram lives so tight he don't _need_ more'n what he's
got.  'And, anyway,' Jennie says to me, 'of course I and Sadie would
will all _we_ had to Danny's and Hiram's children.  You could even make
your will so's we'd _have_ to, Mom.'  And then Danny he comes in and he
says, 'You know, mother, it was my wife that has been so kind and
generous to you, persuading us all that even if the coal lands did
belong, in the first place, to my own mother, we ought to give you your
share.  It was _Margaret_ that wouldn't leave us put you in a home,
where Hiram and Jennie and Sadie were all for puttin' you.  And I
listened on Margaret, mother, and wouldn't do it; so I don't think it
would be more'n right for you to leave your share of my mother's estate
to _me_, seeing that it was through my wife that you got any of it.'
Well, Margaret, they all kep' worryin' me so that now to-day I did make
my will oncet.  Now I can say to 'em when they ast me about it, that my
will is made a'ready."

"It is too bad that you should be worried about it so!" said Margaret
sympathetically.

"Even Hiram's Lizzie comes to see me and asks me about my will, for all
I think it's Hiram puts her up to it; she don't _want_ to do it.  I
took notice a'ready, my dear, you are the only one of 'em all that
never spoke nothin' to me yet how I was a-goin' to will away my money.

"We have more interesting things to talk about, haven't we?  I've run
in this morning to tell you that Mary Louise has beat Sonny cutting
teeth--she has _two_, and he hasn't one, the lazy fellow!  I'll wager,
grossmutter, she'll keep ahead of him straight through life!"

"But Sonny's anyhow fatter'n sister," maintained the proud grandmother,
between whom and Margaret there was kept up a constant play of
favouritism as to the babies.

"Jennie says I'm letting Sonny get too fat and that it's dreadfully
unwholesome."

"Sonny ain't too fat!" the jealous grandmother retorted indignantly;
"he's wery _neat_!"

"If he would only draw the line at being 'neat,' but he's getting a
tummy like an alderman's!" Margaret anxiously declared.

They laughed together over the joke and the old woman looked up fondly
into the bright, sweet face at her side.

"You always cheer me up, dearie, when you come.  The others never talk
to me about _nothin'_ except how I'm a-goin' to make my will, and how
I'm spendin' so much of my income, and how extravagant _you_ fitted up
this house for me with money that was rightly _theirn_; and oh, my
dear, I got so tired of hearin' about the money off of 'em!  The only
other thing they ever want to talk about----"

She stopped short and closed her lips.

"Is the wicked, designing Jezebel that Danny has for a wife!  Oh, yes,
I know.  It's too bad, my dear, that they should fret you so!  But
perhaps now that you can tell them your will is made, they'll stop
teasing you.  I'm going to bring the babies in to see you this
afternoon.  I must run along now; I have to go downtown and get Sonny
some new booties; he chewed up the last pair and they didn't agree with
him."

Again the old woman laughed delightedly.  Margaret could not realize
what a refreshment and comfort she was to her.

"But before you go, Margaret, I want to ast you what Hiram means by
this here postal card I got off of him this morning in the mail."

Margaret took the card offered to her and read:


"D. V. will come to see you Saturday to read the Scriptures with you
and have prayer with you.

  "In haste, your affectionate son,
      "REV. HIRAM LEITZEL."


"I don't know who this D. V. _is_ that's coming," said Mrs. Leitzel
anxiously.  "Do you, my dear?  And I haven't the dare to hear religious
services with a world's preacher; it's against the rules of meeting."

"'D. V.' stands for two Latin words, '_Deo volente_,' 'God willing.'
Hiram means _he_ will be here, God willing.  I hope for your sake, God
won't be willing!"

"Oh, but ain't you and Hiram got the grand education!" exclaimed Mrs.
Leitzel admiringly.  "Well, if he does come, I can't leave him have no
religious services with me.  Us New Mennonites, you know, we darsent
listen to no other preachers but our own, though I often did wish
a'ready I _could_ hear one of Hiram's grand sermons.  They do say he
can stand on the pulpit just elegant!"

Margaret kissed her, without comment upon Hiram's greatness as a
preacher, and came away.

She was sincerely sorry that Daniel's sisters must, in the nature of
things, continue to regard her with bitter antagonism.  She could have
borne it with perfect resignation if circumstances had not constantly
brought them together, for Jennie and Sadie came almost daily to her
home to see after their brother's little comforts and to fondle his
precious babies for an hour, though they never in their visits deigned
to recognize Margaret's existence.  They would sail past her in her own
front hall, without speaking to her, and go straight to the nursery, or
to Daniel in his "den."

Having been the means of depriving them of some of their income, she
was unwilling to take from them, also, the pleasure they had in the
babies; so beyond a mild suggestion to Daniel that he might tell them
they must treat her with decent courtesy in her own home, or else stay
away from it, she did not interfere with their visits, though she tried
to keep out of their way when they did come.

Daniel, on his part, was aghast at the bare suggestion of further
endangering his children's inheritance by telling his sisters they must
be civil to his wife in her own home or stay away.  He considered
Margaret's sense of values to be hopelessly distorted.

It was not surprising that Margaret and old Mrs. Leitzel turned with
infinite relief from the society of the rest of the Leitzels to find in
each other an escape from a materialism as deadly to the soul's true
life as ashes to the palate.  It was of the babies they talked mainly:
of their cunning ways; of Margaret's plans and ambitions for them; of
the new clothes she was making for them; of Daniel's devotion to and
pride in them.

Mrs. Leitzel also heard with delighted interest Margaret's anecdotes of
her sister's children: how little Walter had called up the family
doctor on the telephone to ask whether when you got chicken-pox you got
feathers, and the doctor had said, "Not only feathers, but you crow
every morning," and now little Walter prayed every night that he might
soon have chicken-pox; also, how three-year-old Margaret, after an
operation for a swollen gland in her neck, had informed some visitors,
"I had an operation on my neck and the doctors cut it out."

Mrs. Leitzel, in her turn, would relate to her by the hour anecdotes of
her past life, some of which proved very illuminating to Margaret as to
the Leitzel characteristics, and gave her much food for thought.

"I used to have so afraid to be all alone--I can't tell you what it is
to me to feel so safe like what I do now, with this here kind Miss
Wenreich takin' care of me; and not bein' afraid to take a second cup
of tea when I feel fur it; because _now_ when my tea is all, I kin buy
more; and havin' no fear of freezin' to death if my wood gets all fur
me and I not able to go out and chop more; and not being forced any
more to eat _only_ just what would keep me alive.  To have now full and
plenty and to feel safe and at peace--and to have you to love me!  And
the dear babies!

"One day, my dear, sich a sharper come to my house out there in the
country and he says, 'Where's your husband at?'  Well, he looked so
wicked (fur all, he was nice dressed) that I didn't say to him, 'I'm a
widow, my husband ain't livin'!'  I had so afraid if he knowed I was
alone, he might do me somepin.  So I sayed, 'You kin tell me your
business, I'm the same as Mister.'  'You run things and handle the
money, do you?' he ast me.  'Well, then, I want you to give some fur to
buy Bibles fur the poor.'  I said I didn't have no money to spare, but
I had an exter Bible I could give him.  I knowed well enough he was a
sharper, but I thought mebby my old Bible might do him some good.  So I
offered it to him.  But he said the Lord didn't want no second-hand
stuff fur His poor.  'You're not a Christian,' he said, 'if you won't
give any to buy _new_ Bibles fur the poor.'  And Margaret, he looked so
ugly, I had so afraid of him, I shook all over; but I purtended to call
Mister, and him dead near twenty years.  Well, but at that, the sharper
took hisself off!  Goodness knows what he might of done at me if I
hadn't of purtended to call Mister!  Ain't?  Well," she drew a long
sigh, "them worryin' days is all over now, thanks to you, my dear.
It's as Danny says: I'd be in the poorhouse if it hadn't of been fur
you."

Margaret often marvelled, as she found herself deriving the keenest
pleasure from old Mrs. Leitzel's happiness and deep content, how the
Leitzels could so blindly miss, in their selfish materialism, the true
sources of joy in life.



XXX

When a year after she had moved into town old Mrs. Leitzel died, it was
Margaret's private conviction that the Leitzels had worried her to
death trying to find out how she had made her will.  It is said that
people of mild temper are usually obstinate, and the fact stands that
no one of them ever succeeded in getting from the old woman the least
hint as to the disposition she had made of her large property.

"She would tell _you_," Daniel used to urge Margaret to find out the
coveted secret.

"But I don't care to know."

"I do.  Find out for _me_."

"Not for any consideration on earth or in heaven, my dear, would I lift
my finger about a matter which is so absolutely Mrs. Leitzel's own
private and personal concern and no one else's."

The suspense and impatience with which, after her death, they awaited
the reading of the will, seemed to let loose every primitive animal
instinct of covetousness, and scarcely could they restrain, within
decent bounds, their fierce suspicions of each other and their hawklike
greed for the prey at stake.

When it was found that after a bequest to the New Mennonite
denomination, and one to the nurse, Miss Wenreich, the entire remainder
of the fortune of the deceased was left unconditionally to Margaret,
the sensations and sentiments of the Leitzels were dynamic.  Even
Daniel was more chagrined than pleased.  An economically independent
wife, he had already found, was not the sort of whom Petruchio (who
expressed Daniel's idea exactly) could have said:

  "I will be master of what is mine own:
  She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house,
  My household stuff, my field, my barn,
  My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything;
  And here she stands, touch her whoever dares."


One couldn't maintain the Petruchio attitude, which was certainly the
true and orderly one, toward a wife who had a large income of her own
and was strangely lacking in a proper respect for her husband.

It was not until Daniel discovered that Margaret had scruples about
accepting the money that he found himself as fearful lest it should
pass out of his family into the hands of strangers as he had hitherto
been eager to get it into his own hands.  The pious and solemn
arguments he employed to convince her of her duty in the matter, far
from having any weight with her, rather confirmed her in her feeling
that, having forced the Leitzels to give up a third of their
possessions to their step-mother, it put her too much in the light of a
self-interested plotter to have the money come round eventually to her.

It was, however, Catherine Hamilton who convinced her that she could
justly keep it.

It was a trial to Catherine to be obliged, when speaking of the
Leitzels to Margaret, always to curb her tongue to a hypocritical form
of respect for them; for Margaret would not countenance any reflections
upon them.  So Catherine's remarks, in the present instance, though
clearly conveying her meaning, were veiled.

"Do you think, Margaret, that the Leitzels, _for their own spiritual
discipline_, ought to lose or get that money?  Was old Mrs. Leitzel
wise or wrong in willing it away from them?  Will you be wronging or
helping their immortal souls--if they have any," Catherine ventured
rather fearfully to add, "if you give it back to them?  Another thing:
you have already learned enough about married life to know that only in
economic independence can a woman have any moral or spiritual freedom;
can she be a personality in herself, distinct from her husband's.  With
all this money of your own, you will be free to control the education
of your children as you could not if your husband's money had to pay
for their education.  Of course, in most cases, I suppose mothers and
fathers have no difficulty in agreeing perfectly about their children's
education; but when they differ radically, what a boon to a
conscientious mother to have means at her command to do for her
children what she thinks essential for their welfare in life!  My dear,
it's the solution of the whole confounded 'woman movement' that women
shall be freed from an economic slavery which balks their efficiency as
mothers, as citizens, and even as wives.  Also, with all this money of
your own, think what you can do to help me capitalize and organize my
ideal school for girls!  Why, I can begin next week!"

"And we _will_ begin next week!  I've thought of another thing: I can
now use the money Uncle Osmond left me to help educate Hattie's
children.  She and Walter are the sort that will never be affluent.
They care too little about money ever to acquire any."

"And you can have an automobile of your own in which you will now and
then take my mother out for an airing to her great benefit!" added
Catherine.

"It shall be at her disposal," declared Margaret.

Another thing had occurred to her while Catherine had been speaking:
Daniel, she knew, would never allow her a just portion of his wealth
for the upkeep of their home and the rearing of their children.  Every
dollar of his that she spent would have to be discussed and argued
about.  This fortune which Mrs. Leitzel had left to her was really only
her fair share in her husband's possessions, which she could use freely
and quite independently of him.

When once she was convinced that she was justified in keeping the
money, the frenzied raging of the Leitzels affected her not at all,
though Hiram's fury and agony carried him to the length of telling her
to her face that she was stealing the money (his own mother's money)
from _his_ children to give it to her own son and daughter.

As for Daniel, his chagrin over his step-mother's will swung round, in
the end, to a chuckling glee over his wife's cleverness.

"After all, Margaret, you do have some business ability!  I declare you
outwitted us all with the cute way you managed to get things into your
own hands!  That wasn't a bad deal, my dear, not at all a bad deal, and
I shouldn't have supposed it was _in_ you!  You seemed to care so
little for money!  And to think that all the while you were working
such a clever scheme as this!  Well, I knew when I decided to marry you
that you weren't stupid.  I trust that Daniel Junior will inherit the
joint business acumen of his mother and father.  He'll be some business
man if he does, won't he?"

"God forbid!" was Margaret's reply, which Daniel thought quite
idiotically irrelevant.  But he was ceasing to try to understand what
seemed to him his wife's unexplainable inconsistencies.

He even came, in time, to submit, without fretting, to Margaret's ideas
of running a household; finding her innovations, which had at first
seemed to him madly extravagant, to be as necessary to his comfort and
convenience as to hers.  But he never did get so used to them as to
cease to feel an immense pride in what Jennie and Sadie called
"Margaret's tony ways."  He always covertly watched the faces of guests
in his home (for they had guests now) to note wonder and admiration at
the elegance of its appointments, the formal service at meals, the
dainty tea table brought into the parlour every day at five, and the
many other fastidious trifles introduced into their daily life.

It is to be noted that though the intimacy of Catherine and Margaret
continued throughout their lives, Catherine never once found courage to
put to her friend and confidante the question to which she could not,
in her knowledge of Margaret's character, find any answer: "What in the
world was it that ever induced you to marry Daniel Leitzel?"

It was only through motherhood, which was to Margaret her religion,
that she learned, among other great lessons, how mistaken she had been
in selling herself for a home.  And the paramount ideal which she
always held up to her boy and girl, as being the foundation of
everything that was worth while in life, was the highest conception of
mated love which she could possibly give them.



THE END





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