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Title: The Bird in the Box
Author: Mears, Mary M. (Mary Martha)
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 "The Bird in the Box" ***

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  THE BIRD IN
  THE BOX


  BY MARY MEARS


  Author of "The Breath of The Runners"



  TORONTO
  WILLIAM BRIGGS



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

  Copyright, 1910, by
  FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY

  October, 1910



To

THE MEMORY OF MY MOTHER

"NELLY WILDWOOD"

THIS BOOK IS DEVOTEDLY INSCRIBED



AUTHOR'S PREFACE

The soul of man at birth is immured in a prison.  It is like a bird
singing in a cage, heedless of the bars that confine it.  But later the
soul knows its bondage.

Panting with a desire for liberty, man tries in two ways to attain it,
through his ability to labour, through his capacity to feel.

He has need of freedom, hence the poem, the ship, the engine, the
thousand cunning and gigantic structures for annihilating space, for
chaining the forces of nature.

He has need of freedom, hence the universal outpouring of his
affections, the glory and the emancipation of his highest love.

June, 1910



  CONTENTS


  BOOK I

  CHAPTER

  I The Long Journey and the Longer One
  II The Waiting of Women
  III The Sun
  IV Amid Bleak Surroundings
  V The Barnacle
  VI The Figure-head Gains an Admirer
  VII Concerning Alexander Emil St. Ives
  VIII In the Cause of Science
  IX The Old Fascination
  X In Which a Kiss Is Given and Regretted
  XI At the Old Burying Point
  XII The Migratory Instinct


  BOOK II

  I The Street of Masts
  II Emily Short--Toy-Maker
  III Simon Hart to the Rescue
  IV The Unexpected Happens
  V Showing that Sacrifices Are not Always Appreciated
  VI Despair and Desolation
  VII Stop--Look--Listen
  VIII A Woman's Caprice; A Father's Repentance;
       A Lover's Self-Conquest; A Girl's Pity
  IX Rachel--Simon
  X The Bird in the Box


  BOOK III

  I The House in Washington Square
  II Continuation of the History of a Genius
  III The Confession
  IV How is it Possible to Stop Loving
  V Love by the Sea
  VI The Insistent Past
  VII In Which John Smith Unburdens His Conscience
  VIII The Place of the Statues
  IX The Energy of Being
  X In the Garden
  XI Flames
  XII Love Confronts Despair
  XIII The Escape



BOOK I



THE BIRD IN THE BOX



CHAPTER I

THE LONG JOURNEY AND THE LONGER ONE

The new vessel, gay with swelling scarves of bunting, ornamented from
stem to stern with floating flags that kissed the breeze, rested easily
on the stocks.  The ways under her had been greased, the space before
her in the river cleared.  High on the prow her name _Merida_ shone in
gold letters.  Every eye was upon her.

Grimy faces looked from shop windows.  The windows of the bending-shed,
the blackboard-shed, the pipe-cutting shop, the sheet-iron shop, the
joiner-shop, the brass-foundry,--all were filled with countenances
blackened by labour.  Similar countenances peered from the masts of
vessels still in the slips, and from the heights of the immense
travelling cranes and floating derricks.  These gigantic and uncouth
machines seemed to await the launch with an eagerness of their own.
Had not each, in its own way, helped to fashion her--this marvel of a
new ship?

The contrivances for drilling, chipping, caulking, blowing
rivet-heating fires seemed to hold their breath, so unwonted was their
stillness at this hour; while the mammoth pontoon, whose duty was still
to be performed,--that of transporting the eighty-ton boiler a distance
of one hundred feet and depositing it, a living heart, within the
vessel,--the pontoon seemed to be lost in speculation.

The stocks gave no sign.  Amid all the excitement of the yard, these
great mother-arms of wood awaited stoically the instant when they must
release their burden.  All the morning a swarm of workmen had been busy
loosening their tenacious hold on the new vessel.

"She'll go out at the turn of the tide," remarked a reporter; "that
chap over there with an eyeglass will give the signal.  He's launched
over a hundred vessels, and never a hitch."

The newspaper artist to whom these remarks were addressed, scarcely
heeded them.  He was busy with his sketch.  But an old man, standing
near, caught the words and shivered ecstatically.

"She's a Ward liner to be used in the fruit trade between New York and
Havana," continued the reporter.  "Look, there comes the launching
party now," he cried.  "The messenger boy has the flowers,--and that's
the girl who's to do the christening!  She's the granddaughter of the
owner.  Rather good looking, don't you think?"

The old man turned squarely about.  His stick shook in his hand.
Excitement gripped him by the throat.  He smiled broadly.  The girl,
accompanied by a bevy of friends, came forward.  She was a slight
thing, dressed in grey, and had about her neck a white feather boa,
which fluttered in the breeze.  Escorted by a man wearing a high hat,
who helped her over the obstructions, she approached the new vessel,
lifting blue eyes to the imposing height.  A platform, reached by a
slant of stairway and bright with red, white and blue bunting, had been
built against the boat's bow.  The girl's slim fingers grasped the
railing, and followed by the rest of the party, she lightly ascended
the steps.

Immediately there was a commotion.  A score or more workmen, like
elves, swarmed beneath the immense swelling sides of the boat, and with
rhythmical strokes of sledge hammers, drove in wedges and removed the
long pieces of timber placed in a slanting position against the ship.
Thus lifted, the _Merida_ rested completely on the greased ways.  Only
one log now restrained the six hundred feet of her impatient length.
Was it the mother's lingering hold?

Red below the water-line, black above, her new anchor turned to silver
in the sunlight, the _Merida_ was without blemish, save for the spots
left when the shores were hauled down; and these spots workmen,
carrying long-handled brushes, touched rapidly with paint.  At last all
was in readiness and the dull sound of a saw passing through wood could
be heard.  The silence grew so deep that the word given by the man
wearing the eyeglass was heard by the spectators.  He spoke quietly;
the saw passed through the log.  The girl with the fluttering boa was
seen to raise her hand; there was a shattering of glass, and with one
plunge, one impulse of superb motion, the new ship slid down the ways.
Swiftly, smoothly, she glided forward and the laughing water seemed to
rise to meet her.

Instantly from an hundred throats a shout went up.  The boats watching
from the river began to whistle, the locomotives on the surrounding
railroads shrieked shrilly.  The workmen threw their caps into the air
and followed as fast as they could along the line of the deserted
stocks.  The girl in the white boa waved her handkerchief.  But the
boats on the river had their own way.  Shrilly, loudly, continuously,
they tooted; while those still in the slips,--double-turreted monitors
and squat battleships,--without bells, without whistles, without
cannon,--by the very eagerness with which they seemed to await their
turn, added mystically to the commotion.

_Free_!  This was the one thought expressed on every side.  It was as
if man, by the intensity of his craving to escape bonds, communicated
this desire to the objects of his creation.  The impulse of the
launching had carried the new ship to the middle of the stream, and
there, hailed by the enthusiasm of the shore and the river, she
floated, half-turning as if looking back coquettishly at the land;
while over her a flock of birds, little specks in air, circled in an
abandonment of freedom.

Amid all the tumult only one figure had remained without stirring.  The
old man with the stick in his hand was a stranger; until that day he
had never been seen in the place.  Yet, at the moment of the launch, he
alone reached the highest pitch of exultation of which the human spirit
is capable.

No longer conscious of his body, he laughed while great tears rolled
down his cheeks and lost themselves in his beard.  Suddenly, however,
he looked at the ways covered with tallow which lay in folds
now,--wrinkled like the flesh of the very old,--at the stocks lifting
empty arms to the sky; and a change came over him.  The sparkles died
in his eyes, the eyes themselves seemed to sink back in his head.  He
lifted his hand.  Then, after a wavering second, the hand fell.

"Ships," he quavered, speaking half to himself, half, it would seem, to
the deserted stocks, "ships is like sons.  There's no use clutchin' 'em
or hangin' on to 'em.  It's their nature to go exploitin' over the
world.  All we can say is, the Lord bless 'em, the Lord reveal his
mighty wonders to 'em.  Amen."

After this quaint speech, his spirit, which was the eternal youth
within him, revived.  Chuckling to himself, old David Beckett started
on his homeward journey to Pemoquod Point on the Maine coast, a day's
and a night's travel, by water and rail.  His pilgrimage to
Philadelphia, from every point of view but his own, had proved
unsuccessful.

Five months before, David's son, Thomas Beckett, had disappeared from
the Point and had gone to Philadelphia to work in the shipyards.
Beyond the bald statement of this fact, which he left scrawled on the
back of an envelope, young Thomas had never written a word home, though
once he had sent a draft for a small sum of money.  His was an
impatient, gloomy spirit, easily depressed and easily excited.  Life,
indeed, either blazed in him like a devouring flame, or died down to a
flicker which left him frozen and taciturn, with never a word on his
thick, handsome lips, and no feeling in his heart, save, apparently,
that of a fierce caged thing.  In this mood when at home he had been
wont to go about for weeks, leaving the care of the lobster pots
entirely to his father, while he nursed his insensate wrath.  Then,
suddenly, the light would come.  He would set about his work with
savage joy, and with painful eagerness would read every book that came
to his hand, from the Bible to a ten cent translation of a French
novel.  He would sing, he would lay plans.  It was in this mood that he
had gone to Philadelphia.  When, however, his father followed him,
bearing urgent news concerning the young fellow's wife, Thomas had
again disappeared.  Two weeks before, so old David learned, he had
shipped as a sailor on an out-going vessel he had helped to build.  But
the father understood.

"I tell ye, Zary," he proclaimed the following evening in Old Harbour,
as he clambered into the cart of his friend Zarah Patch, blandly
ignoring the question in the other's face, "Philadelphy's changed since
the days when I used to work in the car shops at t'other end of the
town.  There wa'n't any sech vessels built then.  Double-turreted
monitors and iron-clad battleships and cruisers that blaze with lights
at night jest like floating hotels, all gilt furniture and white paint.
Times has changed.  Why some of them ships, when they was finished,
they told me, would have as many as four engines apiece a-beatin'
inside of 'em, to say nothin' of cylinders and twin-screws; and the
fightin' ships would jest bristle with breach-loading rifles and
Gatling guns.  Think of the commotion they'll make when they're once
finished, all them ships!" he concluded gleefully.  "Yet there they
stood, each in its stocks, quiet as lambs, helpless as babes unborn."

As David uttered the last words, Zarah gave him a sidelong glance,
though he made no comment other than the sharp flap he gave the reins
on the mare's back.  He was not given to speech.  Zarah owned a bit of
ground on which he raised vegetables which he delivered to the summer
hotel.  He also carried what travellers there were from Old Harbour
dock to Pemoquod.  To-night David, the lobsterman, was his one
passenger.

It was about seven o'clock of an evening in late summer, and across
that bleak, barren bit of land the sun was just setting.  As they drove
along, it sparkled on the window panes of the houses and lit up the
cross on the Catholic church; beyond the village it seemed to confine
itself to the rocks by the wayside.  It turned them a dull soft gold.
A strong salt breeze was blowing.

Bony with boulders, the land reached like an eager arm into the sea, as
if it would obtain somewhat.  But beyond the dories of the lobstermen
clinging close in shore and visible as the road ascended to a slight
eminence, nothing told of any garnering whatsoever.  On every side were
wastes of long brownish grass, low shrubs and clumps of pines, that
stood up stark by the roadside.  Beneath the dark shade of the trees
mushrooms and little clumps of shell were embedded in moss.

Of farms, strictly speaking, there were none, though the houses that
revealed themselves occasionally as the road dipped and turned, had
each its poor attempt at a garden.  It was frankly a land of bleak
striving, bordering closely on want, of roistering storms and sweet,
enveloping fogs.

As David Beckett talked he raised his voice to a piping treble.  Ships
and the building of ships, this was his theme.  And exalted beyond time
and reality, he gave himself up to it, so that at last even Zarah was
influenced.  Its poetry began to work in his slower brain and his lips
relaxed into a smile.

As the sun neared the horizon, the wind increased, and in every
direction the shrubs bent before it with a writhing movement; and as
far as the eye could see, an agitation ran through the coarse grass.
From the sea came the steady moaning of the surf.  It was as if the
earth emitted heavy sighs; but for these two ancient men the burdens
that weigh upon human life had ceased to exist.

The house before which they presently stopped was a gaunt frame
structure with scarcely a trace of whitewash remaining upon its
clapboards.  Cold and exposed it turned its front door away from the
road with New England reserve.  A lilac bush grew under one of the
windows.  With every breath of wind it sawed against the sill.  As
David possessed himself of his carpet-bag and turned in at the gate
with a wave of the hand, the sun, which until that moment had shone
full upon this window, disappeared.  Shadows and the old man entered
the house together.

Flushed like Ulysses returned from his adventures, old David deposited
his grip-sack in the entry and then cautiously approached his
daughter-in-law's room.  She lay there in a great bed with four posts,
and in her thin fingers, she held a leaf of the lilac bush--a leaf like
a green heart.

The old man peered in at her, pursing up his lips.  He thought that his
story would "liven Laviny up," and he was enjoying the prospect of
relating it, when she turned toward him.  She half lifted herself on
her elbow.  Her face was ghastly, her eyes shining.  She looked past
him; then fixed her eyes wildly on his face.  But he shook his head at
her and began speaking with soft jocularity.

"No, I didn't bring him, I couldn't; let me tell you how it was;" and
he advanced smiling into the room.  "Day after day as Thomas seen that
ship he was at work on, grow up taller in the stocks; as he fitted them
pieces of red tin unto her sides,--for Thomas was what they call a
'fitter-up', Laviny,--he had his thoughts.  And you an' me, knowin'
him, we know pretty well what those thoughts were.  The long and short
of it was, he couldn't stand bein' tied by the leg no longer.  He
thought how she would glide through the water, that great ship, of the
lands she'd visit, of--Laviny!" he cried sharply, as with a gasp, she
fell back on the pillow.

"You hadn't ought to act so," he expostulated; "you know he wa'n't
marked the way he was fer nothin' with that little spot on his left
cheek under the eye.  His mother marked him that way before ever he was
born, and we often spoke of its bein' jest the shape of the continent
of Africky; and it's to Africky--"

A hoarse rattle drowned his words.  He peered more closely at her with
his aged eyes.  And at that moment a faint thin wail came up from the
other side of the bed.

He seized her arm while his tears fell on her wrist, which never
quivered under their hot touch.  "Laviny!" he cried, "Oh, he hadn't
ought to have done it!  Don't leave me alone with _it_--the little
one!" he shrieked.  "Why didn't you tell me it was here?  Oh, Laviny,
Laviny girl!"

But Lavina Beckett paid no heed.  She had embarked for a stranger port
and over stormier seas than any her husband had dared.  The sound of
the old man's sobs brought a woman to the door.  Her figure surged with
fat.  One of her teeth projected when her face was in repose.  She
hastily approached the bed, but even she was awed.

"Don't make sech a noise," she said finally.  "It ain't no use.  You
can't call her back now.  If you could've managed to bring _him_, it
would've been different likely.  But you didn't.  You never did manage,
I guess, to do anything you set out to."

But the old man paid no heed.  He sat with his hands on his knees, his
head dropped forward, inefficient, old, broken down by grief, and a
thin low wail for the second time broke the silence.



CHAPTER II

THE WAITING OF WOMEN

Lavina Beckett lay in the front room of the old house, and people
passing glanced askance at the closed blinds.  Recent death inhabits a
place more completely than life, and Lavina's personality seemed to
lurk in the panels of the grey door, in the branches of the lilac bush,
and even extended to the road.

All through the day neighbours came to offer condolences.  Then,
shrewd-faced, with the marks of child-bearing, hard work and a harsh
climate in every line, these respectable wives of lobstermen took their
way home in little groups.  In the house they had borne themselves
somewhat awkwardly, and once outside, their pity for the dead woman
appeared tinged with resentment.  Little was known about her at the
Point.

It was after nightfall when a woman wearing a shawl over her head,
knocked timidly at old David's door.  A boy of six years clung to her
skirts.  When she was admitted, she slipped furtively into the room of
death, and the boy, with difficulty restraining his tears, waited for
her in the kitchen.  He was afraid of the fat woman with her face bound
round with a handkerchief, who was washing dishes at the sink.  She
made a great clatter.  When she stepped to a cupboard, the candle threw
an exaggerated portrait of her on the opposite wall.  The ends of the
cloth around her face stood up in two points, like horns; from between
her flabby cheeks, projected a nose like a beak.  A fork in her hand
became, to his gaze, the size of a pitchfork.  Once, when she passed
near him, she held back her skirts, muttering under her breath; and he
saw the same aversion in her eyes that he knew to be in his own, save
that in her look there was a mingling of scorn and in his, a mingling
of fright.  It was a strange look to be directed toward a child, but it
was one with which the boy was familiar.  Presently his mother
reappeared and they went out again.  She walked very rapidly and now
and then she wiped her eyes with a corner of her apron.  The boy had to
run to keep up with her.  When they struck into a rugged path leading
to the lighthouse, he paused and looked back.

Under the light of a full moon the Beckett house shone with a quite
peculiar radiance.  And yes, there it was! as they had said.  It stood
near the tumble-down cow-shed.  The funeral was to take place in a
village some miles distant, and an early start in the morning was
necessary.  The undertaker had gone, but the driver, with the hearse,
would remain the night.  He was eating his supper now, waited upon by
the ugly woman.  Meanwhile it stood out in the yard and the moonlight
glinted on the four sable urns that decorated its corners, and sparkled
on its glass sides and peeped between the black hangings without
hindrance.  The moon, indeed, to the child's thought, seemed to be as
curious as he.  Beads of perspiration started to his forehead, and,
grasping his mother's skirt, he stumbled on at her side.

As the boy had pictured, in the Beckett kitchen the driver of the
hearse was eating his supper, washing it down with a drink of whiskey.
Then he disposed himself as best he could on two chairs, and fell
asleep.  Nora Gage finished the preserves the man had left on his
plate, ate a quarter of a pie and went to bed in a room conveniently
near the pantry.  By eleven o'clock old David was alone.

He entered the front room, and very softly approached the coffin.  The
light from a candle wavered over the dead face.  Leaning his elbow on
the coffin lid and his chin in his hand, old David inspected the face.
The first shock past, he wondered that he did not feel more poignant
sorrow, but there was something almost impersonal in Lavina's
expression.  There were violet shadows under the eyes, and the lashes,
as they rested on the cheek, were somewhat separated.  The small mouth
was closed rigidly, the cheeks showed hollows.  Young as she was, her
delicate feminine countenance already bore upon it the world-old
legend--_The waiting of women_.  The look did not belong to her
individually--twenty years of life could not have branded it there.  It
was inherited from the first woman who had loved,--the first mother.
It was the woman-look, and David recognized it.  But he was almost
seventy years old, and he sank into a chair and was soon nodding.

The candle spluttered, and the faint significance of the woman's days
on earth for the last time blended confusedly with the silence, the
night, the wind blowing in the moonlit sedge-grass.  When we bury the
body we cut off the last light of a jewel already dimmed by death.

In life Lavina had borne about her a faint suggestion of learning; it
was said that on arriving at the Point she had brought with her a box
of books.  Some of the neighbours believed that she had been a
schoolteacher; others that she had been reared by a relative who dealt
in books, since the volumes she brought were all new.  But Lavina never
told them anything, and nothing was known about her, save that she came
from a village thirty miles distant, which was on no railroad.

A gust of wind flickered the flame of the candle and a drop of tallow
fell on the coffin.

Was it this supposed learning that had attracted Thomas Beckett, or the
coiled braids of hair, or the nose, the nostrils of which used to
expand slightly, as is the way with people who feel things keenly; or
was it, perhaps, the sensitive hands, crossed now so patiently?  In any
case, whatever the attraction, it had ceased to hold Thomas after the
third month; and once more in the grip of his black mood, he had been
seen striding over the rocks, with the hair clinging to his forehead
and his eye glowing as if from drink; and finally came the night when
the old man and the young woman, both sleeping now so quietly, knew
that they were deserted.

Again the draught from the window reduced the light of the candle to a
mere blue tongue, and a shadow fell across the woman's face.  It
blotted out the lips which had been on the point of revealing their
tender secret when the blow fell; it still further shrouded the eyes,
which through the succeeding weary months gazing from the windows of
the alien house, had noted the rags of mist that went floating by and
vanished--like human hopes.  It blotted out the hands, eloquent of
agony, heavy with ungiven caresses.  For an instant the shadows
obliterated the whole slight frame that until recently had carried
beneath its heart another life.  Suddenly the candle flame brightened,
and simultaneously a cry, small, sharp, almost impudent, broke the
silence.

The old man started from his sleep.  The cry was repeated.  A smile so
triumphant that it was sly, spread itself across his wrinkled visage.
Seizing the candle which lit the room of death, he trotted into the
room of the creature just born.

Outside, the hearse stood in the moonlight.  And over yonder at the
lighthouse a boy tossed restlessly on the bed beside his mother.  In
his imagination he still saw the hearse and it filled him with dull
questioning.  Lifting himself, he laid a hand on the shoulder of his
drowsing parent.

'Why were they going to take the woman away?' he asked.

'Because--why because it was necessary.'

'Were they going to put her in the ground?

'Yes, that also was necessary.'

'But wasn't it dark under the ground, and wouldn't she be afraid?'

The mother sighed in her sleep.

The boy regarded her for an instant.  Then propping his head on his
hand, he fell to listening to the beat of the surf.  Gradually his
fears ceased, for each silver-lipped wave seemed to be speaking not
alone to him, but to the dead woman.

"_Rest, rest,_" they seemed to say, "_rest, rest._"



CHAPTER III

THE SUN

Old David Beckett, though he never spoke on the subject, was haunted by
memories of a childhood passed amid scenes of refinement and wealth.
He had a hazy impression that his father had been a gentleman of local
distinction in a Canadian town.  However, with his father's death had
come a change in the fortunes of the family.  Its members had drifted
apart, and David himself, at the time scarcely more than a child, had
gone to Philadelphia.  Year after year he had worked in the car shops
until the lead in the paint had affected his health.  This break-down
had occurred after his wife's death, in his fiftieth year.  Reduced in
strength he had come to the Point where one of the owners of the shops,
in recognition of his long and faithful service, had given him a little
house and a bit of land.  This change David had welcomed, but it had
engendered in his son Thomas a brooding discontent which had increased
with the years.

Brought up in Philadelphia until his tenth year, Thomas Beckett had
received a rudimentary training in the public schools, and this
training, after coming to the Point, he had managed to eke out with
haphazard reading.  But the cheerless surroundings had fostered in him
a tendency to indulge fits of melancholy.  Without visible cause, he
would become taciturn.  When he was twenty-one his father urged him to
marry and settle down, but domestic life had small attraction for
Thomas, and it was a surprise to the old man when he finally acted on
the suggestion.  At the time of his marriage the young lobsterman was
thirty years old, tall and broad shouldered, with bold intelligent eyes
gazing out from beneath heavy brows, and a moustached lip that, as he
spoke, lifted slightly, showing the tips of the white teeth.  One raw
day he had sailed away from the Point with a cargo of lobsters, and a
fortnight later had returned with the meek and fragile Lavina.

During the short period of her wedded life the young wife had
contributed to the house of the father and son an air of comfort.
Geraniums had bloomed at the windows and the curtains of the front room
had been kept white; all the beds had been covered with bright
patch-work quilts and the dishes had been washed as soon as used and
arranged in gleaming rows in the cupboard.  But from the hour of
Thomas's desertion, Lavina had relaxed her care of the house.  Now,
after her death, the change in it was complete.  The curtains were
dingy, the plants dead, fish-heads from the dog's dish littered the
kitchen floor and flies buzzed about the rich messes Nora Gage was
constantly preparing for her own consumption.  The deterioration in the
home suggested a picture by Hogarth.

David Beckett was bewildered.  He would have preferred absolute
solitude to the presence of Nora Gage, but the fat woman had
established herself with the intention of remaining and he was too old
and too ineffectual to know how to get rid of her.  Often, from a
distance, he would stare at the house with a look of indecision, then,
with an oath, he would start on a rapid trot for the kitchen.  But once
in the presence of the woman, his courage forsook him.  With one glance
from her little crevice eyes, Nora dominated him.

However, she had one virtue.  Though she ignored the appeal of hanging
buttons and refused to patch his clothes, she fed him.  For that
matter, it was her custom to feed every living thing that came under
her notice, the dog, the chickens, even flies.  For the flies she had
been known to scatter sugar grains, leaning heavily on a substantial
elbow to watch the progress of the tiny meal.  To old David's food she
gave especial attention.  His teeth suggested isolated stumps in a
clearing; therefore she prepared soft foods for him, porridges and
soups, and, while he ate, she was wont to watch him.  Her jaws would
move in sympathy and in profound contemplation she would even lick her
lips.

On Sundays Nora rolled out of bed at an early hour, and, with her
prayer book clasped in her pudgy fingers and her too plump bust visibly
undulating, she proceeded by slow stages to Old Harbour, where she
attended both early mass and vespers in the ancient Catholic church.
This church was none too well thought of by the majority of the
townspeople, who in the latter years had turned Protestant.  Though
placed solemnly in the very centre of the town, the edifice was
entirely nautical in character, and many were the sympathetic
quiverings of its bell when there was a storm off Pemoquod.  It seemed
to be sounding a requiem for its invisible congregation of sailormen of
every port and clime.  Perhaps it was the sight of an occasional
sea-faring stranger with a bold look in his eyes that attracted Nora.
Or perhaps it was the nearness of a certain little eating-house in a
side street, owned by a friend, Katherine Fry.

The hours not occupied in divine worship, Nora was accustomed to spend
with Katherine in a room curtained off from the public gaze.  There,
the one buttressed with unwholesome fat, the eyes playing in her
countenance the part of little, gleaming, deep-driven nails, the other,
lank as a skeleton, in a shawl the fringe of which suggested her own
cookery, the friends were wont to regale themselves, Nora with rich
cakes and pastry, Katherine with the quarters and dimes her customer
unwillingly relinquished to her.  Quarrels were frequent, for each had
a spiteful understanding of the other's vice; but greed united them.

"I tell ye," old David would remark when of a Sunday he had undisputed
possession of his lonely grey old house and with Zarah Patch could
enjoy to the full the pleasures of a pipe before the kitchen ingle--a
pleasure denied him during the week--"I tell ye, Zary, I thank the Lord
Nora has religious inclinations!  As for me," he would add, hanging his
head with a sudden change of mood, "I'm old and filled with wickedness;
the wickedness of the world has got to the very marrow of my bones.  I
ain't fit to bring up no child, Zary."

However, he did bring up the infant literally by hand.  Puny, touching,
defenceless, the tiny creature, surrounded from the moment of its birth
with these oddly unfavourable conditions, asserted at once its
independence.  It screamed and squirmed every time Nora Gage took it
up, so that the care of it devolved entirely upon the grandfather.  But
far from complaining, he was secretly flattered by this preference.
"She feels the tie of blood," he would explain, "but don't you mind,
Nora, she'll outgrow these little ways."  The woman, however, laughed
straight in his face.  She was not particularly anxious that the baby
should outgrow them.

The infant early became a tyrant.  She was not a very pretty child.
From beneath a high rounded forehead peered forth two eyes dark and
restless.  They had the furtive look seen in the eyes of some animals,
save that the pupils had a way of expanding suddenly with inquiry.
Even before she could speak, her crowing had a strong note of
interrogation.  "Eee?" she would pipe, raising imperceptible eyebrows,
and the old man, as well as he could for chuckling, would answer in the
same cryptic language.  She had, moreover, a very amusing and energetic
way of creeping.

When the times for her feeding arrived, she was always close beside the
door; and there old David found her when, big silver watch in hand, he
came hastening up from the dory.  He carried the odour of the lobsters,
and before he could do anything else he must wash his hands.  Then the
bottle must be scalded and rinsed and the milk warmed.  All the
wrinkles of his face drew together, such was the care with which he
performed these operations; and eager-eyed, occasionally fretting if he
were late or particularly slow, the infant watched him from her place
on the floor.  Presently he lifted her; then what a picture of peace!

With both hands she clutched the bottle and a soft gurgling, similar to
the purring of a cat, filled the room.  She laughed, and the look of
rapturous content which filled her face was reflected in the
countenance of the grandfather.  They looked oddly, touchingly alike.
Occasionally it was necessary for him to draw the bottle away in order
that she might take breath, and at such times she either pursued it
with her rosy, clinging mouth, or, being partially satisfied, turned to
thrust her fingers between his lips or to pull his beard.  Weary as he
was from the labour that had occupied him since four in the morning,
nothing could have prevailed upon him to relinquish these ministrations
to his granddaughter.

When she was nine months old, he had her christened in the Catholic
church before a figure of St. Anthony, which seemed to his anxious mind
to be of a friendly mien.  But it was with no idea of turning her over
to the church.  Her religion when she grew up should be a thing of her
own choosing.  Meanwhile he hearkened to the persuasions of Nora Gage,
and the child was baptized Rachel Beckett in honour of his dead wife.
After that event, however, the housekeeper lapsed into her former state
of indifference; and, neglected on the one hand, and foolishly indulged
on the other, the child's life flowed on until her fifth year.  When
she was five years old a change dawned for her.  In the care of the boy
from the lighthouse she went to the district school, where she was
enrolled as a pupil.

Lizzie Goodenough never abbreviated her son's name.  She called him
boldly André Garins.  But when he gave this name at school, the older
boys put tongue in cheek.  He was an exceedingly handsome lad, with a
woodsy grace.  Moreover, his ears were slightly pointed like a fawn's;
nor did the likeness end there, for his eyes under the thick mat of
hair had a wild and impenetrable look and his soft arched lips seemed
formed for other speech than that of human beings.  When addressed, he
would either twist his fingers in a kind of wordless agony, or take
fleetly to his heels.  He was considered an "innocent" by the folk of
the Point.

He led Rachel to the school, her tiny cold hand resting noncommittally
in his, and left her stranded before the teacher's desk.  But that
brisk person frightened the child and she became as restless as a
little trapped animal.  She refused to learn her letters, she refused
to learn to count; André Garins, stealthily on the watch, was ashamed
of her.  But one day she heard the teacher explaining a point in
geography by means of a map on the wall and her eyes suddenly dilated.
All at once those monotonous recitations, to which she was wont to shut
her ears, those garbled descriptions of mountains, oceans, and
climates, assumed a startling significance.  In that map grimed by
smoke and the breath of generations of children, in that square of
painted canvas, with its spots of blue for the water, its spots of
yellow and pink for the land, its black veins for rivers, and its fuzzy
lines, like caterpillars, for the mountains, she beheld what was an
actual vision of the actual world.  And this brilliancy of the
imagination, this power to touch with life and colour any fact that
penetrated her brain at all, proved to be a special gift.  But she was
too young to understand the liberation that comes through books.

The schoolroom seemed to her the one point of stagnation in an active
world.  She longed to the point of tears for the sight of trees of
which she was temporarily deprived, and for the smell of the outdoor
air.  The teacher finally in despair left her alone.  With something
disconcerting in her extraordinarily intelligent eyes, she gazed about
her at the other pupils as if she dimly recognised herself as belonging
to a distinct and lonely species.  Perhaps some subtle power of
reasoning underneath the dark hair which grew in a point on her
forehead, revealed to her that their needs were not her needs.  As
instinctively as a plant, she selected from the atmosphere surrounding
her what she most required for growth; and idleness offered opportunity
for observations, shrewd, penetrating, constant.

Lizzie Goodenough's son was the one child admitted to her friendship.
In winter she permitted him to drag her to and from school on his sled,
and in summer she allowed him to string thimble-berries for her on a
long grass, which could be smuggled under the desk out of sight of the
teacher and eaten at odd moments, when one stood in such dire need of
refreshment in the dry country of learning.  But, strictly speaking,
she had no companions.

For her grandfather a warm strong love beat in her little heart.  Often
she would clasp him about the neck with one thin arm, and with the
other hand against his cheek, would gaze intently upon him until a
simultaneous gleam of laughter shot into both their faces.  Then she
would nestle to him, quivering with a divine mirth which was the mask
of diviner tears.

For Nora Gage, Rachel entertained a silent dislike that expressed
itself in manoeuvres to keep out of her way.  If Nora entered a room,
Rachel, if possible, left it.  If the housekeeper, in her flapping
slippers, shuffled out into the yard and cast herself down on the seat
beneath the apple tree, where Rachel was playing, the child immediately
gathered up her pebbles and shells and gravely sought another place.
She spoke no oftener to the housekeeper than was necessary, and when
she did speak, a weight of scorn trembled in her voice as if some
feeling were silently gathering power.  Nora Gage looked upon her with
her little eyes, which were shrewd and meditative, exactly as a pig's
are shrewd and meditative, and was apparently indifferent.  But it was
inconceivable that she did not hate her.

A part of a battered wreck and a figure-head were, in the truest sense,
Rachel's companions.  Both were rooted fast where they had come ashore,
but before they had reached that expanse of sand, the sea had had its
way with them.  They were by no means parts of the same craft, but
torn, hurled, gnawed, they had been brought, by the rollicking mood of
the ocean, past the fierce skirting of rocks outside and dashed there
together on the shore of the bay, to become the playmates of a little
child.

Timber by timber the wreck had been washed small, and sometimes after a
storm streams of rusty water that resembled blood trickled from its
various bolts.  Rachel, climbing out upon the wreck, sometimes felt the
shallow water sucking between its timbers urging it to put to sea
again; and, conscious of the tremble of eagerness in the poor maimed
thing, she would pat the beams in passionate sympathy, and lay her
cheek to them.  Often she tried to dislodge the great hulk by placing
her shoulder against it, and once, when the sea sucked off a plank and
the tide flung it on the shore several rods away, she spent the
following morning in hauling the dissevered portion back to the wreck
and trying to hammer it into position.  There was in her a curious
susceptibility to the pathos of things.

Here and there about the wreck vestiges of paint appeared, and a faint
assemblage of letters formed the name _Defender_ on what had been the
prow.  This paint Rachel brought to temporary brightness by rubbing it
with a corner of her apron dipped in sea water.  The sand that clogged
the ribs of the wreck she removed daily with a shovel.  In brief, no
waning sovereign, already in the clutch of death could have been waited
upon by a trusty handmaiden with more patience and love.  In her day
she had sailed many a stormy sea, that ship, and without doubt had made
many a difficult port; but now in the days of her nothingness to be
loved with a love passing that of sailor or captain (for in such
affection there is ever something of the seaman's pride in the
capabilities of his craft), to be loved, forsooth, with a deep feminine
tenderness,--surely, if comfort were possible to those broken bolts and
spars, the wreck was comforted.  And, testifying to the gallantry
inherent in every timber, all that remained of her responded to the
thrill of the child's spirit.  It was as if the wreck heard commands
summoning her to deeds of spiritual daring.  The stumps of her masts
she lifted to the sky with an air of defiance, she resisted the
encroachments of the sand; and in the upward sweep of her lines toward
her broken bow, there was indomitable courage and pride invincible.
Valour answered valour and the sun shone gently on the incongruous
playmates, on the wreck whose earthly voyages were over, and on the
child whose life's journey had scarcely begun.

For the figure-head, Rachel entertained a somewhat different sentiment.
It was evidently a bit of German carving, and represented a robust
goddess with face lifted to the sky.  Full waves of hair blew back from
the face; the chin was gone, the nose was gone, but in the gaze of the
eyes was blank, unquestioning triumph.  She was clad in swirling
drapery and a breastplate of overlapping scales, and in the one arm
that remained to her she carried a sceptre tipped with a diminutive
crown.  Rachel admired the way the figure-head stood proudly erect,
even strained backwards, and sometimes grasping a stick, she paced the
sands in grotesque imitation of the wooden woman.  But more often she
sat before her lost in silent contemplation.  She saw her fastened to
the prow of a vessel, "great-kneed, deep-breasted," with lips and eyes
stung by the spray; she saw her bowing deep into the trough of a wave,
her gaze as she sank still intrepidly lifted to heaven; and she saw her
rise again, dripping, all gilded by the light of the sun.  The
exhilaration of life and hope were still in the figure-head, wrought
into her with the carving, it would seem, and these qualities her later
experience in the brine had heightened to a kind of glory, so that now,
unmindful that she was stranded, she stared out at the dawns and the
evenings and the far-away twinkling stars with the same undaunted look
of conquest.

This look, branded upon the figure-head and smitten into her round
staring pupils, had its effect upon the child.  Often and often when
there was a storm off Pemoquod and the green water ran fifty feet high
with the spray twice as high, grinding and pounding over the rocks and
even entering the bay, until its strong death-fingers reached her very
feet, Rachel stared at the waters while a fierce exultation swelled her
little heart.

Persistent in her childish desires, imperious when they were crossed,
at all other times gentle and tractable, Rachel up to her ninth year
comprehended no force superior to that of which she was conscious in
herself.  Her grandfather she could sway by a word, and there were ways
she knew of compelling Nora Gage; as for André, he was a slave, to be
ruled by kindness for the most part and blows when necessary, blows
aimed straight at his wild dark face.  In her domain she tolerated no
insubordination.  But one night the pettiness of this domain and its
purely human limits were revealed to her.

When whiskey got the better of Captain Daniels at the lighthouse, and
this happened occasionally, Lizzie Goodenough, with a strong arm, could
draw the oil and tend the beacon.  If truth were told, it was because
he had recognised her possibilities for usefulness in this direction,
that the captain, sixteen years before, had taken pity on the girl and
her newly-born infant.  At the time he was just recovering from what he
termed "a bad spell," and Lizzie appealed to him as capable and sturdy;
moreover, she was very handsome, with a frown set squarely between her
brows and an ominous light in her glance.  He had never married her.
Now that her boy had grown large enough to go on watch at a pinch, the
arrangement was even more advantageous.

On the night in question, Rachel, after much worrying of her
grandfather and Lizzie, obtained their consent to go on watch with
André.  She mounted with him to the lantern.

The immense corrugated lenses flashed diamond tints of inconceivable
brilliancy.  There, in rims of living colour, in circles of crystal,
that white gush of light that flooded the rocks below, was born.  There
was the glitter and clash of its nightly cradle.  The tower creaked and
the sea thundered like cannon, ghostly finger-tips tapped now and then
on the glass; a night bird, allured by the radiance, beat out its
brains on the costal.

Presently André descended to the whitewashed room just below the
lantern and Rachel stumbled after him.

"The plunger won't need windin' again till morning," he told her; "we
can rest now."

But Rachel, squeezing her hands together, sat bolt upright, given over
to a mighty, new, inspiring sensation.  She was intoxicated with a
sense of the power of man.  Finally she laughed aloud; then she glanced
at André.  But, forgetful of all responsibility, the lad sat with his
head against the wall, while the breath passed peacefully between his
lips.  Instantly Rachel was on her feet.  She trembled all over.  How
about the ships at sea now!  He could just talk big about the
lighthouse, but he couldn't keep it,--not he!  Then on a sudden she
craned toward him, and from the vital, virile, little face the gleam of
anger disappeared, for on the lad's forehead, beneath his mat of hair,
and on the chin where it jutted in below the mouth, she saw that look
of helplessness with which a relentless Fate sometimes brands her
children.

Actuated by an almost maternal impulse, Rachel divested herself of her
bit of shawl and laid it over the shoulders of the sleeping boy.  Then
she resumed the watch, and with every hour ticked forth by the clock on
the wall, her sense of responsibility increased till the flame in the
lantern was duplicated by another flame alight in a little human heart.

It was toward daylight when she stepped out on the balcony which
encircled the tower just below the lantern.  But the world she looked
out upon was no longer the world with which she was familiar.  At that
hour a mysterious, quiet influence was abroad.  Far below to the
northward she descried her grandfather's house, grey, closed, silent;
and she saw the silver loop of the bay.  Inland the pine trees were
arranged in dark, meditative groups, and the rocks, no longer
formidable, in that wan half-light appeared like cattle that had
trooped down to the water to drink.  Here and there, perched on the
loftiest crags, were the sentinel crows.  These, solitary, motionless,
accentuated the universal air of waiting.

All at once she held her breath.  Across the clear blue of the sky lay,
like lines of smoke, two or three filmy clouds.  From a light pink
these were turning to rose.  Gradually the stars, one by one,
paled--went out.  Then an abrupt happening.  A curve of crimson
appeared above the horizon; this widened until it resembled an eye;
then a full glowing countenance swung clear of the ocean and rays
sprang from it.  The whole sky began to blush.  The ocean, a moment
before a dull grey, flushed, and tiny ripples covered its surface;
ships, hitherto invisible, appeared on its gently agitated bosom.  And
this infusion of vitality reached inland, quivering to gold in the
tree-tops, trembling to crimson in the coarse grass, invading with
radiance the most secret recess of the tiniest shell on the sand.  The
whole shore was illumined with the lavender and gold of the dawn; and
simultaneously, from every quarter, rose the crows with their raucous
_caw caw_ in greeting to the oncoming day.

Suddenly through the weary frame of the child surged tides of
exultation; it was as if, after the dreary watch, the sun rose in her.
She stretched out her arms, and, for an instant, the sun and the child
stared at each other.  Then its fierce glow overpowered her, its fiery
shafts blinded her; and covering her eyes, she stumbled below,
whimpering, conscious of a dull ache, a shame, a sullen fear which she
could not comprehend.  Something hitherto unconquered was vanquished in
her heart, so that never afterwards did she move with quite the same
feeling of supremacy.



CHAPTER IV

AMID BLEAK SURROUNDINGS

Pemoquod lighthouse is on a point projecting into the ocean.  Standing
in the lantern of the lighthouse and looking toward the east, one
beholds the ocean with nothing between him and Europe except an
inconsiderable island or two; looking toward the west, one beholds
John's Bay.  On the ocean side of the Point is a long line of broken
cliffs ranged for a certain distance in tiers, like the seats in a vast
amphitheatre.  Then abruptly this formation ends and the cliffs tower
up into separate crags,--monsters that forever contemplate the sea with
rage.  There between the water and the rocks is a constant contest.
The rocks are like giant animals; the sinuous waves, leaping and
roaring, like unearthly reptiles.  Between the rock-beasts and the
wave-reptiles is unabating feud.  After each conflict the waves seem to
hiss with fury, the rocks to drip with gore by reason of the masses of
red seaweed with which they are covered over.

It is curious to rise from a seat in the amphitheatre where you have
been lulled by the light touch of the wind and the soft lapping of the
waves, to contemplate two or three rods beyond this scene of mighty
wrath.  It is more curious still to stroll through expanses of
sedgegrass to the other side of the Point and behold the bay.  A quiet
little bay it seems, with its diversified edge of sandy beach and
tumble of small rocks, with its lobstermen's sheds clinging to the
shore and further inland the houses.  From the bay only the blank walls
of these houses can be seen, for the women, with reason, regard the sea
as an enemy to be ignored during peaceful indoor hours, and hardly a
window of the modest dwellings looks toward the water.

During the summer and part of the winter, the bay is sprinkled far and
wide with the sails of fishing dories.  Into this pocket of the sea,
always conveniently open, nature brings food for man in the form of
marine creatures,--lobsters, crabs, and a clutter of fish.  The bay,
with its air of mild domesticity, is man's domain; the sea outside,
God's alone.

Never the less the region in winter is harsh and unfavoured.  The wind
pipes down the chimneys and clamours on the crags and fairly howls in
giant witch-fashion on the ocean.  The people go about their duties
with shoulders shrugged up, with purple noses and freezing toes.  In
the houses, they can scarcely hear one another speak on the windiest
days, and conversation is impossible anywhere near the Point; this life
fosters in them a solitariness of the soul.

With motley garments, sometimes quilts and shawls, strapped and buckled
around them, the few who pursue lobster-fishing as a vocation fuss
around their pounds or, out on the bay, haul their pots and swear.
Their oaths mingle with the gale and the dashing waters and even freeze
in mid air to come to land later and form icicles.  At least, this was
Rachel's fancy, and when she saw the bits of ice at the window ledges,
she reached forth an arm and plucking them, dissolved them in her soft
warm mouth, as if she would dissolve at the same time her grandfather's
probable wrath.  This wrath, being so justified, however, had something
righteous in it, which Rachel was not slow to admit.  Certainly it was
not right that a man's living should be so hard a thing to win, and
what was there for it but to exorcise these demons of wind and tide
with language harsh enough to fit the occasion?

David Beckett, despite his gentleness, was a prodigious oath maker;
indeed, some of his oaths were so picturesque as to have come into
general circulation, a fact which afforded Rachel not a little
satisfaction.  To be able to invent such oaths, she felt instinctively,
required an imagination of no uncertain order.

In winter her cheeks grew ruddy from the wind, tears caused by the cold
sometimes stood in her eyes and the skin on the backs of her hands
cracked until the knuckles bled.  But she was very hardy and healthy.
She had a fondness for mingling the impressions of form and colour and
scent which bespoke a very sensuous temperament.

The old man's delight in her was boundless.  Whenever she approached
him a wonderful tenderness illuminated his face; his blue eyes sparkled
and a set of wrinkles, entirely new, shot out from their corners like
rockets.  On her part the child returned his feeling with a depth of
affection, startling and almost tragic in one so young.  She seemed to
give the old man something of the vigour of childhood, while into her
passed a little of the seriousness of age.

They were constant companions.  Sometimes in order not to be separated
from her, David took her out in the dory.  There, while the boat rose
and sank and rose again, and Zarah Patch's nephew phlegmatically set or
hauled the pots, the old man sought to answer her numerous questions,
suggested for the most part, by her chance study of the family Bible.

"Does God raise up the lobsters?" she asked one day, "the lobsters we
kill."

The old man grinned.  "No, I never heard that he did," he answered;
"lobsters ain't much 'count save as they feed man, I guess," he added.

The child relapsed into a sulky silence.  After that she began putting
back into the sea half-dead fish that she found on the shore and
patiently straightening out the legs of flies discovered in webs.
"It's man alone that's saved," she thought with a pang.



CHAPTER V

THE BARNACLE

When she was ten years old Rachel left the country school, and when she
was eighteen she graduated from the High School in Old Harbour.  Her
course of study in that institution had been protracted by reason of
the frequent spells of bad weather which, for weeks together, had kept
her a prisoner at the Point.  These interruptions she had accepted
philosophically, for she had preferred to gain knowledge in an
unhampered fashion, to look about her, to ask questions, to read the
books of her own choosing.  She was an exceedingly headstrong creature
and had anyone wished to manage her he would have experienced great
difficulty.  However, apparently, no one had such an unreasonable wish.

Her lean little face was charming.  With its broad forehead and high
cheek bones it suggested a type of the Renaissance.  The expression in
her eyes was candid and thoughtful.  Her nose was straight, her upper
lip short, her mouth full and handsome in line, though, in meaning,
asleep.  Activity of the mind gives character to the eye, activity of
the emotions individuality to the lips, and Rachel Beckett had not
lived emotionally.  She was still chained heavily by her youth, for
youth has its shackles as well as age.

It was about this time that André Garins approached her with an
important proposition.  He came leaping down the path from the
lighthouse and found her seated in the lobsterman's door.  In the
kitchen Nora could be heard scolding.  Occasionally the words were
drowned in guttural sobs.

"It's her pork pie," Rachel explained.  "I got to reading and the fat
just bubbled up before I knew.  Now I'm going to Old Harbour to get her
another," she added in a louder voice, "Want to come along?"

André nodded.  He had attained his full height without losing the
slimness of adolescence.  "There's something I want to talk to you
about," he said shyly.

But he did not broach the subject at once; instead he said tentatively
as the two breasted the high wind which was all alive with the tang of
the sea, and in which the girl's garments rattled like the rigging of a
ship, "It's good of you to get her another pork pie; why do you do it?"

"Because," Rachel answered with spirit, "people once in a while ought
to have what they want--if it's only pork pie."

André regarded her beautiful face with dull curiosity.  "Then you're
not doing it because you're sorry for her?" he asked.

"No," she answered shortly; "principle."

But the abstract had no meaning for André; he always thought in
straight lines and his thoughts were convertible into actions.  Now he
took up the matter which had brought him to her.

"Mother thinks you and I could set up shop together," he said.  "She
thinks I can paint what are called 'souvenirs'; you know I paint very
well, and you could take charge of the candy and fruit.  She thinks we
might get quite a little trade from the hotel people all about here, if
we opened a shop in that unused barn of Shattuck's."

The proposition appealed to Rachel mightily.  Now that the schooldays
were past she found herself much too frequently in the presence of Nora
Gage and quarrels were constant.  If the young girl had had her way she
would have bundled the so-called housekeeper out of the door and have
done the work herself, but old David was fastidious in the matter of
her hands and cherished the idea of one day seeing her a "lady."
André's plan seemed to offer scope for her energy, she hailed it
joyfully.  A week later the youthful shop keepers were established in
their odd quarters.

The situation of the unused barn was magnificent.  It stood on the top
of a high turfy hill which overlooked both the ocean and the bay.  On
going around it a narrow path, almost hidden by the tall grass, was
discovered, and this path led directly to that bit of the bay shore
where were the figure-head and the wreck.  The door of the barn
commanded the road.  There was something in the bleakness of the
situation that took hold on the fancy.  The barn had long been an
object of popular interest.  It was toned by the weather to the
beautiful grey of a dove's wing.  It leaned lightly to one side.  Its
two front windows were like empty eye-sockets.  As one approached it,
climbing around the crumbling foundation of what years before had been
a house, he imagined it the retreat of birds of prey.

The only steeds housed here were the horses of the wind, in the pauses
of the storms that swept the Point.  The barn was supposed to be
haunted.  Therefore the scene that greeted the first curious visitors,
struck pleasantly on their sight.

A bit of sail-cloth bearing the inscription: _Souvenirs And
Confectionery_ appeared over one window, and a little trail of smoke
issued from the other.  Just inside the door was Rachel.  She stood
behind an improvised counter of new boards on which was ranged a file
of golden oranges.  Oranges and girl, how they lit the gloom!  When not
engaged in waiting on a customer, and her duties in this direction were
of the lightest, Rachel made a pretence of sewing, though oftener than
not the sewing was abandoned for a book.  The range of her reading at
this time was remarkable.  Like her father, she read everything that
came her way with a kind of tragic eagerness.  Frequently closing the
book and leaning her elbows on the counter, she would gaze straight
ahead, while the questioning look deepened in her eyes.  In the
background where a ray of light fell André painted the lighthouse in
garish colours on the bosom of a heaven-tinted shell.

What a pair they were, to be sure!  What a bouquet of innocence, youth
and utterly worthless endeavour!

The enterprise brought in little, though during July and August people
came from the Ocean View House and even from remoter hotels on outlying
islands.  At this André laughed in his heart, but after the novelty had
worn off, Rachel was less pleased.  The money that she earned bought
her a new dress and hat; but it was not sufficient to lighten the
burden on her grandfather's shoulders.  Unable longer to bear the
hardships of lobster-fishing, old David had sold his pots.  Taking part
of his scant savings he had bought four cows.  He now peddled milk from
one end of the Point to the other.  Rachel sometimes looked at him with
sudden fear, though their poverty she realized but vaguely, never
having known anything different.  She mended his clothes and lavished
upon him every care.  She opened her heart to him, and in spirit he
dwelt there as in a wide, sunny room.  But, though he knew her heart,
neither he nor anyone else, knew what was passing in her mind.
Sometimes with a vigorous motion she would clasp her hands behind her
head while she stared through the doorway of the barn; then she would
slip away, taking the winding path to the bay, and remain there for
hours.

The groups of rocks on the bay shore differed from those fronting the
ocean.  They were more sad than threatening in form and were covered
thickly with seaweed, like enormous heads with hair.  In this hair
sparkled iridescent drops left by the receding tide; these drops
resembled jewels.  The rocks, indeed, were decked like the heads of
women, and by reason of the long tresses of seaweed that trailed from
them and that undulated on the surface of the water, an uneasy
restlessness seemed to pervade them.

Rachel would eye them gloomily: then, flinging herself down, she would
observe the various forms of life in the little pools of water where
floated crabs and jellyfish.  In the prominent eyes of the crab she saw
the desire for its prey.  Looking upward, attracted by the sinister
screech of gulls, she saw them fluttering about the nest of a
sanderling which they pillaged of its eggs.  Letting her glance fall
again she studied the little bell-shaped barnacles, like tiny huts,
which everywhere adhered to the rocks in settlements.  As the water
approached, one after another of the doors of these wee huts opened and
a hand, vaporish, white as light, reached forth and gathered in the
necessary provender.  Everywhere, everything received what it needed to
sustain life.  She alone was starved.

With these thoughts surging in her brain, Rachel would make her way
back to the barn.  There, with cheeks puffed out, stooping over his
work, she would find André.  One day when she entered the barn he
greeted her with a gleeful announcement: he had sold five little shells
and one big one during her absence.  She turned away.  She had often
watched the faces of the summer people: they bought the shells out of
pity for André, or perhaps, because they admired his handsome face.  As
art, she suspected, the shells were nothing.  Why could he not see?

"You have no ambition," she said surlily, "there are schools where one
can learn to do this sort of thing, I suppose.  You ought to want to
get away and study."

Amazed, he looked up at her.  "But the shells sell all right," he
remarked.  "I paint well enough for that."

She made no answer and sparks of some sort glowed in her eyes.  She
shook her head at him.

"You're just like a barnacle," she cried passionately, "_it_ clings to
a rock, _it_ lives in a corner; everyday when the tide comes in, _it_
opens its door and gathers in food.  In the same way every morning you
wait for the city people.  You open your door, you reach out your
hand--like this, and you take in the pennies.  Bah! is that enough for
you?"

"Well, isn't it?" he asked, and in his eyes, as he looked at her,
dawned a certain yearning softness.

But she turned away.  "Then stay on your rock," she flashed out; "I
want more."

He came up to her and laid his hand on her arm.

"What do you want?" he asked.

She looked at him and seeing tears in his eyes, she turned away
sullenly.  "I don't know," she answered, "but I want life--more'n what
the sea brings me."

Then suddenly she broke from him and darted into the twilight.



CHAPTER VI

THE FIGURE-HEAD GAINS AN ADMIRER

The field where old David put the cows to pasture lay a comparatively
short distance from the house, in the direction of the bay.  But
Rachel, leading a large white cow by a rope, had elected to go round by
"the barn."

"Come along, Betty," she cried, as she turned into the main road
dragging the surprised animal after her.

A dense fog obscured every landmark.  Looking backward, she could just
discern the placid light of the cow's eyes below the sickle of its
horns; looking downward, she could make out her own feet and the stalks
of grass and flowers beside the road.  Moisture clung to the grass in
pendant beads, and there was a fugitive flash of colour here and there
close to the ground.  All else was sheeted in the white pall.  Groups
of firs looked like spectres, the bushes covered with fluffs of mist
looked like phantoms; Rachel herself appeared like a ghost.

The sea hurled itself against the cliffs.  Now and again when it
suspended its roar, the moaning of the fog bell could be heard.  In
these intervals of comparative quiet the surging fury in the girl's
heart gave way to waves of melancholy.  She had quarrelled with Nora
Gage that morning and the colour was still high in her cheeks.
Presently she came to a pause, stamping on the ground; the next moment,
however, she was moved to laughter.  In a sty beside the road a group
of pigs was nozzling in a trough.  One sat up and looked at her with
Nora's eyes.

Somewhat improved in humour, she went on up the road.  When she came
opposite the barn, she clambered around the ruined cellar foundation,
and after tying the cow, entered the little shop.  A fire had been
lighted in the battered stove and sent forth a cheerful flicker.  Early
as it was, André was already at work; he was decorating a smooth
egg-shaped stone from which he had first removed its wrapping of
seaweed.  He glanced up and a light leaped to his eyes.  He looked at
Rachel with smiling intentness as if to satisfy himself that she had
not changed in any way over night.  Finally he spoke:

"If you'd come a little sooner, Rachel, you'd have seen something."

She spread her fingers above the stove and turned her neck from side to
side with a slow and graceful movement as the heat rushed into her face.

"What would I have seen?"

Jumping from his stool, André poured some coffee from a pot into a cup;
then he offered the cup to her.

"You look cold," he said, gazing directly into her eyes; "are you
cold?"  And taking her shawl, he shook the moisture from it.  There was
always in his attitude toward her a kind of awe.

"What would I have seen?" she repeated without glancing at him.

"Why, a stranger was here.  He'd been making a sketch of the
figure-head; he showed it to me."

"I don't see what right he had to draw it without my permission," she
murmured jealously.  "Was it a good picture, André?"

The lad looked doubtful.  "It was all little scratchy lines," he said.

Rachel brooded for some minutes over the stove; then she rose.  "There
won't be anyone here this morning," she announced, "so I sha'n't come
back.  I've got to take Betty to pasture.  Buttercup--all the
others--got hold of some sorrel; they're sick."

She went to the door.  The fog was so thick that it looked like cotton.
The wild roses that bloomed here and there made delicate pink patterns
on this white.  From the barn the sea no longer could be heard, the
complaint of the fog bell could be caught only faintly.  Overhead,
through the mysterious whiteness, could just be discerned the pale disc
of the sun.  The girl made her way through the mist as through a
tangible substance.  She took the path to the beach and the cow
followed her placidly, the tall wet grass striking against its sides
and its udder swinging like a pendulum.  Rachel slipped along the wet
path and climbed stealthily to the top of the first rock.

There, sitting on the wreck near the figure-head, was the stranger; but
he was not sketching.  Instead, his head, from which the cap had
fallen, was bent forward and he was carefully burying in the sand what
appeared to be the scraps of a letter.  When he had finished this
operation a kind of humorous relief was manifest all over him.  A
passenger boat steamed down the bay; a line of smoke followed it.  The
vessel was invisible, but the smoke lay in the fog a trail of black.
The young man turned his head to observe it, and at that instant Rachel
started and the cow behind her made a movement.

He looked up.

Poised on the summit of the rock, with the horns of the cow up-curving
about her feet, with the fog clinging to her dress of faded blue and
undulating about her in clouds, she resembled a figure of the Virgin in
a crescent moon.

The pupils of the stranger's eyes, which were of a living, magnetic
black dashed with fiery sparks, dilated; and two perpendicular lines,
which started from the root of his nose, deepened to grooves on his
forehead.  He got to his feet, his massive head with its hair thrown
back upraised toward her.  Touched all over with a subjugating power, a
grace more penetrating than beauty, he stared, a sort of animal.

As for Rachel, something of his excitement was communicated to her.
For another instant she paused, held there by the mere force of his
gaze.  Then she turned and descending from the rock, led the cow round
into the open space.  A close observer might have seen that she wavered
slightly, like one who tastes of wine for the first time.

The spell, however, was broken for the stranger.  Unconsciously, with
his lightning glance, he saw that there was a scratch on the back of
one of her hands, that their flesh was rough and that there were
freckles across her nose.  She was just a strong, healthy, handsome
lass; and, with the fickleness of a child, he abruptly turned his
attention elsewhere.  With excessive care he moved a small box, to
which a telephone was attached, to a position of greater safety.

Rachel watched him warily.  Growing within her was an odd sense of
defiance, and this feeling triumphed finally over her natural shyness.

"Did you sketch the figure-head?" she asked all in a breath.  Then a
wave of colour rose in her cheeks.  She stood before him in a trance of
noble embarrassment.

"Why yes, I did," he returned.  He took a book from his pocket, opened
it to a certain page and presented it to her.  The book was filled, all
but that page, with drawings of little instruments.

She slowly approached leading the cow.  He turned to her his face,
framed in its curling beard.  "I'm a pretty poor excuse for an artist,"
he began.

"That figure-head belongs to me," she interrupted, handing the book
back.

A second time he fixed his attention upon her and two tiny stars of
laughter shot into his eyes.  "Does it, indeed?" he remarked; there was
almost a caress in the words.

"Yes, my grandfather saved it and set it up here," she affirmed.  She
breathed quickly and every moment her shyness and her anger deepened.

"It appears to be an interesting bit of carving."  Stealing over this
great giant as he frankly studied her was something of the air of a
lazy lion.  "I should say someone carved it who loved to carve," he
added.  Then, with an idea of giving her a chance to recover
countenance, he considerately turned his gaze in the direction of the
bay.

"What--what are you doing now?" she asked quickly; for her spirit was
roused and it behooved her to recover dignity.

"Well, I hoped to be able to get some of those fishermen to take me out
in a boat for a certain purpose, but they can't see my signal and the
fog doesn't lift."

He seated himself on the wreck and began to touch up his drawing of the
figure-head, then he fell to making a tentative sketch of the
indistinct figures in the dories out on the water.

Had he made the slightest effort to detain her in conversation, Rachel
certainly would have turned on her heel; as it was, drawn on by her
curiosity, she moored the cow with a stone on the rope, and came nearer.

"All this is out of my line," he explained, "but I like to try my hand
at it once in a way."  And, indeed, he looked hugely pleased with his
effort, as he held the paper at arm's length to study the effect.

Rachel watched him and now and then her eyes travelled to his face with
the clear dispassionate gaze of a child.  His cap lay on the sand at
his feet and his dishevelled locks moved in the wind above a face that
was simple and bold.  His finger-tips were stained with acid, his
clothing was a bit careless; a spray of Prince's Feather, freshly
picked, trailed from the button-hole of his coat.  About them was
complete silence except for the plashing of the waves and an occasional
muffled cry from the almost invisible lobstermen.  The fog wrapped them
round.

Presently he reached a point beyond which he was unable to carry his
sketch, and, abandoning it, he began turning the pages of the book at
first slowly, then with increased attention.  At last he paused.  His
eyes narrowed and the perpendicular wrinkle on his forehead deepened.
He read over some notes.  He struck out a word here, inserted another
there; then commenced to write rapidly on the margin of the page and
for several minutes the scratching of his pencil continued.  It was
apparent that like a hunter he was running down his quarry, and leaping
over many a ditch and rock in his excitement; it was apparent, too,
that he had entered a world in which woman was unknown.

Finally, Rachel's interest expressed itself in an involuntary sigh, and
he raised his head with a dawning consciousness of her presence.  Tiny
drops of moisture, like diamond dust, glittered in her hair.  He
studied them; then met the brightness of her oval-shaped eye.

In his turn embarrassed, he hitched his shoulders and laughed.

"I forgot that you were here," he said.

Until that moment she had not resented his indifference, but now, when
he voiced it, she felt a hot sense of chagrin.  He had, she considered,
been pointedly lacking in courtesy.  Moving away, she took up the rope
of the cow.

He got to his feet.  "By Jove, I don't see how it happened," he said
simply.

It was the touch required.  She halted and stood playing with the rope.

"I got to thinking of this," he continued, and he laid his hand on the
box to which the telephone receiver was attached.  "It's something I've
been working out.  I want to test it.  It's a fine coast for the
purpose.  Plenty of submerged rocks, I should say," and he gazed about
him.

She also swept the rolling leagues of misty emptiness, but with the
glance of one who is familiar with them, then her eyes, wistful and
unutterably intense, went to his.  There was something about the life
and mentality of this man that startled and stirred her, something in
his appearance that seemed to speak of a nature unshackled, gigantic.

"I asked that boy at the old barn up the road where I could get hold of
a boat and someone to row," he continued, "but he didn't tell me."

She turned from him.  "I'll take you," she volunteered, "this
afternoon."

At this the stranger showed a row of brilliant teeth.  "Why
that--that's fine," he said.  Once more his manner was gentle, almost
caressing.

To demonstrate his gratitude he tore from the book the sketch of the
figure-head and presented it to her.

She took it without exhibiting any emotion.  Then, leading the cow, she
disappeared around a boulder.  A moment later, however, she appeared on
its summit, and the cow pushed up behind her so that his first
miraculous impression was repeated.

"What time," she asked, "do you want to go?"

He moved his lips without speaking; a magical light had dawned on his
world.

"Why, about three o'clock," he answered,--pausing between the words.

And the next moment she was no longer there.  The fog had closed over
the spot of the vision.



CHAPTER VII

CONCERNING ALEXANDER EMIL ST. IVES

In the make-up of this Alexander Emil St. Ives, who carried his name
like a flaunting feather, his father played small part.  During the
life of the elder St. Ives, the family had lived on a farm in Rhode
Island and the father, a dour, narrow man, had laid his commands upon
the soil and had tilled it with his will as with an agricultural
implement; in bad seasons often he had been the one farmer in the
neighbourhood who harvested crops.

There were two sons.  The elder boy, Edgar, resembled the father,
though built on smaller, neater lines, with a face shaped like an egg.
He had much of the father's obstinate force united to a faculty for
grasping and retaining what seemed to him worth while.  The younger son
resembled the mother.

Mrs. St. Ives, timid, valiant creature, was incapable of not loving.
For her first-born she entertained an affection purely maternal; for
Emil, however, she harboured a feeling almost worshipful.  The fact
that she had borne him was to her a miracle ever new.  He woke heaven
in her heart and his love opened her soul as the sun's ray opens the
flower.  Neither husband nor elder son ever suspected the exquisite
quality of her nature.

Edgar was a lad of fifteen when Emil was born.  From the first he
turned a cold face on the mite, and as time went on grew jealous of him
up to the eyes.  There was something august about Emil even in his
ugly, defenceless childhood.  He was of a singularly inquiring turn of
mind and years afterward his mother delighted to relate how, when he
was two years old, he had crawled a mile and a half from home, lured
forward by the curiosity that later became his salient characteristic.
His energies spent, he had rested on a flat rock.  While his tiny body
grew warm in the sun, his infant mind had lost itself in inarticulate
reverie.  If he could go on quite to the end of everything, even to
that hazy, far-away point where blue met green, what should he find?
It was this speculative tendency that gave his hair its wild aspect;
that kindled in his eyes their roving, searching glance; that already,
young as he was, made him look at life with an air of keen astonishment.

When he was eleven years old, his father died and the reins of
management fell into Edgar's hands.  That young man, being in no sense
a typical farmer, immediately exchanged the farm, which the elder St.
Ives had bequeathed him, for a large country store.  By dint of shrewd
management, he soon became a successful merchant.  So rapidly did he
rise that by the end of the second year, he had built himself a house
and installed in it a shrewish wife who lost no time in presenting him
with a swarm of children.  He also placed in the house his mother, and
the poor lady dwelt there under the lash of the wife's tongue, like a
servant in constant fear of dismissal.  In righteous mood, Edgar even
went so far as to extend the protection of his roof to his young
brother.  In a tiny chamber over the kitchen the lad's first tentative
inventions saw the light.

But between these two natures a gulf was fixed.  If truth were told,
they had not a trait in common.  Edgar was provident and saving, Emil
the reverse.  Long ere he had obtained his majority, he had wheedled
from his mother the little money she held in trust for him from his
grudging and disapproving father.  To be sure, the sum was very meagre
and could not be stretched, by any calculation, to cover the technical
training the lad coveted; therefore he had expended a part of it for
scientific books and the rest had gone little by little into materials
for his constant experimenting.

For the precious little inventions which cluttered Emil's chamber and
sometimes found their unwelcome way into other parts of the house,
Edgar had a withering contempt.  He never missed an opportunity to have
a fling at them and his scornful words entered the mother's heart like
barbed arrows.  However, in his nineteenth year Emil produced an
apparatus for freshening sea water which it seemed must prove of
inestimable value to all sea-faring folk.  The mother in a flutter of
excitement and even with tears, besought him to take his brother into
his confidence.  In fact this was necessary, if he wished to secure the
use of an abandoned and much coveted granary for a shop.  But the lad
held back.  The apparatus, despite its undoubted usefulness, seemed to
him of trifling importance.  The mother, however, foreseeing fortune
ahead of him, urged the step and at length the boy consented.  True to
her prediction, after his first scornful inspection of the contrivance,
Edgar admitted that it might have possibilities.  Like most of the
boy's experiments, this device was beyond his comprehension, but he
could grasp the fact that sailors and fishermen, with the chance of
shipwreck forever staring them in the face, might have use for it.  He
therefore offered to get it patented, then took steps to secure the
patent--in his own name.  As it chanced, the papers, bearing his
signature but otherwise carefully copied from those which Emil had
submitted for his inspection fell under the boy's eye.

The night following this discovery, a light appeared in the granary.
Edgar, peering from his chamber window, perceived a demoniacal figure,
smashing and demolishing everything the little shop contained.  Even as
he looked, it lifted a small instrument, which represented months of
patient labour, and threw it with a crash to the floor.  Instantly
Edgar was out of the house.  He scampered across the yard, his night
gear fluttering in the light of the pale moon.  Emil at that moment
caught up the sea-water device and sent it crashing through the
doorway.  Being made largely of glass, the instrument shivered into a
million minute fragments.  Edgar and his wife and children, who had
flocked to his side, covered their eyes.  When they looked again,
through the dust that still hung in the air, they beheld a bent figure,
lit up by the gleam of the lantern, still moving in a whirl of rubbish.

Edgar in his scant raiment danced up and down.

"Thief!" he hissed.

For an instant the boy paused in his diabolical work:

"Thief!"  He burst into terrifying laughter.

With one final wrench he brought down the work-bench and flung it
across the pile; then kneeling, he applied a match to the mass.
Crackling flames leaped upward.  He got to his feet and stood with his
figure silhouetted against the red glow.  In that hour he had destroyed
something more precious than his inventions, his books and all his
little workmen's kit in which he had taken such pride.  That which had
gone down in flames hotter than those which raged around him, was the
essential quality which is youth.  Such searing emotions are the death
of adolescence.  He was visibly trembling.  The hair was matted above
the eyes which he lifted.  Without a word he darted past them and
disappeared into the night.

A quarter of a mile from the house he met his mother.  She was waiting
for him in the darkness.  Quivering all over she took him in her long
arms.  But his anger had already subsided and he felt stealing over him
a new and gratifying sense of release.

"Don't, Mother," he whispered hoarsely, "it was bound to come,--and
you'll see--I'll soon send for you."

Her tears distressed him.  For this cheated, baffled, frail and
suffering mother who asked but one thing, that his ambition be
gratified, Emil's feeling was fiercely paternal.  It was the solitary
oasis in a nature devoid of all other affections.

He caressed her with his hands, but presently he held them up before
her.  "With these," he whispered, "and with this," and he touched his
forehead, "I'll do something.  You'll see.  The world needs me," he
cried.

The world needed him!  At that moment he felt that he could grasp the
universe, instinct with unknown laws, and plunging his mind into it
could drag forth some hitherto undiscovered force.

The world needed him!  Poor, foolish, misguided, highly-gifted youth!
Certainly he was more valuable to Society than its rickety children who
would never grow up, its infirm old men, sick with alcoholism, its base
and unworthy charges; yet for all these, he soon discovered, the great
New York, glancing indifferently from her million windows, provided
asylums; but for him, who had in his head that which should bring the
world to his feet--for him nothing.

In turn he worked for a photographer, a printer, and an engraver, but
as he failed to pay attention to his duties and urged upon his irate
employers devices for improving the processes used in their work, he
remained only a short time in each situation.  By the third year,
however, he drifted into a place that promised to be permanent.

The conservative lithographing establishment of Benjamin Just and
Richard Lawless was in need of an apprentice.  Being by this time much
reduced in health and spirits, with all the fiery currents of his being
at low ebb, Emil accepted this berth.  For upwards of a year he worked
with commendable sobriety; in fact, became no more than a pivot, a
screw, a tiny whirling wheel in the life of the factory.  But at the
end of a twelvemonth his old fever broke out in aggravated form; the
trivial bit of mechanism became a madman or a genius over night.

Waving some papers above his head, laughing naïvely and applauding
himself, Emil approached the head draughtsman one day and exhibited a
little model.  But the draughtsman into whose hands all the choice work
of the establishment fell, swore at him.  'The art of lithography,' he
gave him to understand, 'was an old and honourable one; and as for
cheapening the work, heaven knew, enough had been done in that line!'
And he briefly consigned the young fool and his new-fangled process to
hell.

Thereupon, Emil, nothing daunted, approached the two owners.  Trembling
all over with eagerness, he fixed them with his eyes in which a flame
seemed to be leaping up and down.

"Just a thin flexible sheet, that is what I propose," he cried;--"a
sheet which has all the qualities of the finest of your lithographic
stones, but which is superior because cheaper and lighter and the
possible supply unlimited.  How's that?  A sheet, which after one
preparation for printing, will continue to yield clean proofs without
dampening or resetting for a much longer time than the best of your
lithographic stones," he continued.

"But how do you print from this precious sheet of yours?" inquired Mr.
Lawless, a fat red man, who tried to look scornful and only succeeded
in looking ridiculous.  If truth were told, the partners, while
appearing to have little faith in the scheme, felt in the pits of their
stomachs an excited feeling similar to that produced by high swinging;
indeed, their phlegmatic pulses beat to the same excited measure as the
young inventor's.

"With a specially constructed cylinder press, that's now I'll print,"
answered Emil.

As a result of the conference, the owners, although professing
scepticism, consented to give him a small room in which to perfect his
invention and, in their generosity, even guaranteed to continue the
payment of his former meagre salary.

From that day, Emil began to live a particular and intensely nervous
life.

He was now one of a large army, consisting of press men, lithographers,
zinc men, clerks, artists, stenographers, bookkeepers.  The majority of
these men did their work methodically and as a matter of duty.  When
they quitted the factory at night, they forgot the labour that had
occupied them during the day.  With Emil, however, it was otherwise.

In a tiny room, reeking with heat and dust and clamorous with the
rumble of the presses, he worked, scarcely taking note of the passing
of one day and the birth of another.  Often he sought the factory at
night.  The general manager, a man with a forceful presence and a
shrewd eye, scornfully shrugged his shoulders.  He distrusted such
enthusiasm; but the owners were more hopeful.  At night they had a door
left open for the erratic inventor.

Unconscious that he was observed, Emil hurried through the streets and
bounded up the steps to his den.  Then how he caressed his invention,
how he stared straight before him with eyes that saw nothing, while his
brain drew from the surrounding ether a crowd of images wonderful for
their reality and vigour.  Sometimes in these nights of limpid
contemplation, he became as beautiful as an angel.  At other times,
inspiration was capricious and the particular idea that he sought must
be pursued.  At such times he would crack his fingers at the joints,
wave backward and forward like a tree in a storm, rock like a ship on
an angry sea.  Somehow, he would wrest his idea from the vast Unknown.
And when he had succeeded in fixing it, smiling peacefully, he would go
to sleep like a child; go to sleep and dream of some far land where
invention was not torture.  Before his work-bench, exhausted, he was
often discovered in the early dawn by Ding Dong when he came to sweep
out.

Half-witted, deaf and dumb, with a face so hideous that caricature
could not exaggerate it, Ding Dong had received his nick-name from some
bookish artist or other.  With a fat tongue useless in his wide mouth
and ears like sails, though they served to convey no sound to his
meagre brain, Ding Dong ate habitually of the food thrown away by
saloons, drank the dregs left in whiskey glasses, and, with the agility
of a little cat, accepted the stumps of cigarettes which the clerks
good naturedly threw him.

Between him and Emil, existed a peculiar friendship, and many were the
novel breakfast parties held in the little workroom at the hour when
New York was just waking to life.

Ding Dong procured rolls and made coffee; then three partook of the
meal, for there were always three, the inventor, Ding Dong and, to
furnish the feminine element, Lulu, a tiny South American monkey.
Pinched and sad Lulu seemingly was not devoid of coquetry, for she
wrapped herself in a bit of bright flannel which she held together
beneath her chin with one small black hand, while she peeped out from
between the folds with her little mournful eyes.

Of all the prisoners in the great building, none was more miserable
than this little monkey.  A present to the wife of one of the partners,
who detested her, she had been brought down to the factory where she
led a truly miserable life.  In order to be out of reach of the furnace
man, who had once treated her cruelly, she ran up among the
asbestos-covered pipes, and there remained, save when she suffered
herself to be lured down by Ding Dong.  It was as if these two touching
creatures, the one so nearly bestial and the other so nearly human,
strove to lessen each other's profound loneliness.

As Emil pulled at his long pipe, resting after his exertions of the
night, something of his serenity stole over his companions and wrapped
in the same mood of abstracted dreaminess, they watched the dawn
together.

When the department overseer appeared, a shudder ran through the
building.  The presses rumbled and boys began to feed them with great
sheets of paper.  The band of pale, dispirited youths in the art
department etched their designs.  With dust, sweat, oaths, grinding
muscles, shriek and thunder of machinery,--the day began.  Hour after
hour the passionate clamour increased to a poem, a hymn, a pæan to the
God of Work.

At twelve o'clock the tension relaxed.  Men from the different
departments poured into the streets and sought the cafes and
restaurants of the neighbourhood.  A few, however, always remained in
the building.  For that hour they were no longer slaves.  The head
bookkeeper, an old man, stretched his legs, glad to get down from his
high stool; one of the stenographers, with flying fingers resumed her
work on a little red jacket for Lulu.  Even Emil was affected by the
sudden contagion of idleness that swept the building.  Leaving the
model of his press, he took time to stare from the windows at the roofs
of New York.  But despite his interest in his work these surroundings
were beginning to tell upon him.  One day in July, unable to bear the
heat, he staggered out into the passage to get a drink from a pail of
water that stood there.  He was lifting the dripping dipper to his
lips, when a pair of eyes met his with a sort of shock.  When he
stumbled back into the little den, Annie Lawless, springing up from a
chair in her father's office, followed him.

"What's the matter?" she cried sharply, as he sank down with his head
bowed on the work-bench.  She started to summon someone, but a second
glance at his pale face with tiny beads of perspiration around the
nostrils, caused her to change her mind.  She passed swiftly to the
door and closed it.  Then, detaching a jewelled smelling-bottle from
her belt, she held it under his nose with her little shaking hand.
When Emil came to himself, he saw bending over him a delicate face
shaped like a pear, the cheeks white almost as his own.  This face was
furnished with soft open lips, like an infant's, and, by contradiction,
with two blue eyes which, for the moment, looked into his with an
almost maternal solicitude.

"Are you better?"  The question was blended with the odour of violets,
subtle and overpowering, with the gleam of diamonds, with the touch of
a soft fabric, warm with life, beneath his cheek.

The next instant he sat up, flushing all over.  And Annie Lawless
blushed too.

"Yes, I'm all right, perfectly right," he muttered, and tried to laugh.
"It's only this infernal heat," supporting his head in a strange
fashion as if he feared it would drop off.

"Yes, it is awfully hot," Annie answered.  "Is that the model for the
cylinder press?" she asked presently.  "I've heard Father speak of your
inventions."

Emil, whose head was still giddy, had a childish wish that she would
come near him again and put those hands, covered with rings, on his
brow.  He looked at her as she stood speaking.  When she turned
sidewise he noticed dreamily how small her waist was, he believed he
could span it with his two hands; and her nose was slightly hooked,
which combined with her quick movements, gave her somewhat of the
appearance of a bird.

"I've heard Papa say that he thinks your press is going to be a big
thing," she continued, "but I should think he ought to give you a
better place to work in."

At these words Emil roused himself.  He had not known before that Mr.
Lawless believed in the press.  "Why yes, if I had a decent place to
work in--" he began.

"Papa ought to pay you more money," she said with conviction.  "Why, he
used to have a man who invented things and he gave him special rooms
and a fine salary besides.  Papa says a man with the inventive bee in
his bonnet isn't fit to look after himself.  But that man was," she
concluded, "for he left Papa one day in the lurch and went to inventing
things on his own account, and since then he has made a pile of money.
You'll do that too if they aren't careful."

The upshot of the matter was that she began making plans for the relief
of the stranger who, with his extraordinary air, seemed more
interesting to her than anyone she had ever known.

"It may take a little time, but I'll manage it somehow," she told him
as she left.

And she did manage it.

She saw Emil several times, arousing a perfect furor of gossip among
the artists by the temerity of her visits.  When she knew that her
father and his partner were out of the building, she slipped in to see
Emil, and, more than once as the summer advanced, she met him at an
appointed place on his homeward walk.

Finally, acting on her advice, he sent in a written protest to his
employers, stating that it was impossible for him to complete the work
at his present salary and setting forth his desire for a more fully
equipped workroom.  In conclusion, he intimated that if his requests
were not acceded to, in view of the services he had already rendered
them, he should feel free to quit their employ.

The day following this step, Annie appeared with triumph written all
over her face.

"It's all settled," she announced.  "Mr. Just and the general manager
were at our house last night.  They talked about you and I listened at
the library door.  Papa made Mr. Wakefield admit that he'd been wrong
in his estimate of you.  And then Papa went on to say that he thought
they might as well, first as last, offer to grub stake you.  Do you
know what that means?" she cried, laughing.  "It means that they will
pay all your expenses and give you rooms somewhere like that Mr.
Pennyworth I told you about.  He said already, by the different
improvements you'd made on this and that machine, you'd saved the firm
thousands of dollars.  You didn't know that, I guess.  He said you were
too valuable a man to lose.  And that's not all," she went on to cover
her embarrassment, for Emil was staring at her, "you're to have a few
weeks somewhere in the country if you want them, and I'm sure you need
a vacation badly enough."

"How did you manage it?" he asked, speaking with difficulty.

"Oh, I just kept Papa thinking about you by the things I said.  One day
I said that the factory was horribly stuffy and I should think the
artists, and you particularly, would just die.  And then I asked him
carelessly if he thought your press was going to be any good, and he
said, 'Good!--well, if he can be got to finish it, that's all we want.
The man's a genius!'  And I laughed and told him he'd better look out
or his genius would have sunstroke.  I explained to him that you were
probably so worn out that you couldn't finish it.  I said a thing here
and a thing there, mere nothings, but I made him uneasy, and then came
your letter throwing up the whole scheme before it was completed.  Oh I
knew he'd do it, if it was managed all right!" she exclaimed gleefully.
And then changing her tone: "Are you glad?" and she wrinkled her brow
into anxious furrows beneath her light summer hat.

Emil took one of her little hands timidly.  He turned a ring round and
round on her tiny finger, staring at her, endeavouring to find words.
Suddenly two arms were laid about his neck and all quivering in the
storm of her own emotions, like a bird seeking shelter, she fluttered
against his breast.  Her hat had slipped to her shoulders.  He felt
that she was sobbing violently, and scarcely knowing what he did, he
clasped her closely in his arms and muttering unintelligible words
which he himself did not understand, he pressed his lips again and
again to her small blond head.

But the plum that tumbles into our lap without the asking is seldom as
fine as the fruit we climb for, strain for, spend hours in thirsting
after.  Three weeks--and this fierce agitation of the senses had
subsided.  It was an excitement, a fever, which at the time had been
augmented by so many equivocal influences; by the noise of the presses
which had seemed to keep time to his pulses, by the gleam of the girl's
jewels, by the softness of her attire, by the fact, more than all else,
that she was his chief's daughter.

A whiff of sea air and Emil looked back on the affair with utter
weariness.  Without a conscience, he was accustomed to follow simply
the dictates of his own nature.  The memory of the girl irked him,
therefore with heavy sighs like a weary horse, he destroyed her
letters.  However, the phantom of love had passed very close, and it
was not in vain that all the electric currents of his being had been
set in motion.  He was awake now to another world than that in which he
had hitherto dwelt,--awake, with his great inquisitive eyes, attentive.

It was at this juncture that Rachel Beckett dawned on his horizon.
When she came round the rock leading the cow, a novel sensation
convulsed that strange uncultivated heart of his.  A man's heart is a
garden in which, before the coming of death, many flowers of emotion
bloom; and the history of these flowers is the history of his life.



CHAPTER VIII

IN THE CAUSE OF SCIENCE

Since the night of Emil's departure, which had brought such terror to
her heart, a divine serenity had fallen upon Mrs. St. Ives.  His
frequent letters, filled with the vitality of his genius and all
radiant with love, were to her a second baptism of youth.  Palpitating
with enthusiasm, she carried them to her room where she read and reread
them.  Sometimes she wept over them, and for days after the receipt of
one, she went about with an expression of utter peace.  But when, for
some reason, a letter failed to arrive, then in that house far removed
from the scenes among which he dwelt, she would clasp her hands in
silent agony, she would be given over to anxiety, glancing about her,
more nervous than any bird; she would rebuke the teasing grandchildren
and fiercely demand the letter which, she imagined, her daughter-in-law
kept from her.  Then became evident in her no longer the triumph of
youth but the tragedy of age.

Without doing anything to deserve her special affection, both Edgar and
his wife were jealous of her absorbing love for Emil.  They ridiculed
this worship.  And no one except the singular object of her devotion
comprehended the extent of her suffering.  Vague and unsatisfactory as
he was in all other relations, where she was concerned he was gifted
with an insight that might have done credit to a woman.  Full well he
comprehended that she was living her life in his, and, for that reason,
he strove to make it gorgeous for her.  Poor devil of an inventor, with
his toes all but through his boots and his head in the clouds!  He
would often brood over her situation with tears in his eyes.  He
cherished the hope of one day having her with him, and, in the event of
her coming, planned like a lover, to greet her royally.  But once
plunged in his work, it must be confessed that for days together he
incontinently forgot all about her.  Then, perhaps, a feeble scrawl
would arrive, announcing a headache or some trifling woman's worry, and
contrition would be rampant in him.  Rousing himself, he would write
her one of his long, characteristic letters, fairly pouring out his
life on the page.

As may be conjectured, his being sent to Old Harbour to rest and,
incidentally, to add the finishing touches to the metal plate and
cylinder press, was subject matter for a glowing epistle, which brought
to the mother a wealth of happiness and sent her to bed night after
night with touching prayers of gratitude on her lips.  Once settled in
the hotel at Old Harbour, however, Emil abandoned the work in hand and
fell to making a _depth indicator_.  How think of anything else with
the sea out there waiting to be plumbed?  In vain Annie Lawless hinted
that her father was anxious to install the press and counselled haste,
as has been related, Emil destroyed her letters and went feverishly
forward with his self-appointed task.

On the afternoon of the day of his meeting with Rachel he was in fine
feather.  The presence of the girl and the prospect of testing his
invention filled him with animation.  At moments, as he tinkered at the
boat's rim, he whistled so shrilly that the sea gulls paused in their
wheeling to listen; and this complicated energy, this unusual virility,
was as much a tribute to her who sat in the grey nest of boulders, as a
testimony of interest in the work.  And so she understood it.

With her slight figure relieved against the skyline, she waited for him
to complete his preparations.  Now and then her eyes travelled, with
unerring directness, to the mound of sand where he had that morning
buried the letter.  What did those hard-packed grains of sand conceal?
Instinctively she played with the question and its import sat deep in
her eye.  As if by a stroke of art, she had placed herself in direct
line with the figure-head, so that no one glancing that way could fail
to be struck by the dissimilarity between image and maid.  Mobility and
an ardent capacity for a rich and varied existence were written all
over her; that something which is the potency of womanhood itself
seemed to have awakened suddenly from the torpor of youth in that
little heart and to have come abroad for the first time experimentally.
There she sat, and whenever he turned his head, he was struck anew with
her, so that he must needs look again and yet again.

She had covered her feet with her skirts and her hands were clasped
decorously in her lap.  Her brow had a male gravity, as distinguished
from her chin which was softly-turned and exceeding feminine.  Her hair
was parted and trained in two shining unbroken portions and tucked away
behind her ears, something as a curtain is looped back from a window.
The sphinx-like mystery of Leonardo's _La Gioconda_ was alive in her
eyes.

Even while the girl, in her essential self, remained superlatively
innocent and unconscious, there looked out from her little virgin
countenance at Emil, gravely selecting him, the 'Genius of the
Species.'  Her glance proclaimed sex and intellectual detachment.

Presently Emil turned his face over his shoulder and beckoned to her;
and his laugh was repeated by the water coursing up the beach and
curling round the boat in white-lipped waves.  The fog had disappeared
and the sun was now shining joyously.

Rachel grasped the oars, rowing with long even strokes, and Emil sat in
the bow.  To one side of the boat and projecting into the water, he had
attached a bell, which gave out when struck a special, sharp, short
note; and on the other side of the boat he had placed a telephone
receiver connected with a small box.

"And inside that box is another still smaller of metal," he told her,
"and that contains the secret of the whole device.  Did you ever hear
of the microphone?"

She shook her head.

"Well, it's a tiny affair no larger than a pea, and will so magnify
sound in connection with an electric current and a telephone receiver,
such as I have here, that the footsteps of a fly on a sheet of paper
sound about like the tramping of an army.  It's so powerful," he
continued, "that if I were to place it in the end of a tube and point
the tube, say, toward that island out there, any noise going on---a
wagon rattling along the road or a child naming--I should be able to
hear on this side, provided I had arranged the microphone so as to shut
out all intervening noises.  For instance, this microphone here is
sensitive to no sound but that of the bell and the vibrations that I
hope may be reflected back from the sea bottom.  But we'll soon know
whether it will work," he cried.  "Row about twenty rods farther and
then I'll tell you not only the depth of the water at that point, but
the character of the bottom and whether it will be safe for our big
liner to advance."

He was trembling all over and Rachel reflected his interest.  She sent
the boat forward a few strokes, then rested on the dripping oars.
Nature, it seemed, was in her most approachable mood and at a hint of
coaxing would reveal her secrets; yet the girl was conscious of
something in the phenomena of the sea implacable and resistant to the
efforts of man.  Concealed promontories, hidden shoals, submerged
headlands, treacherous peaks, drowned under the ceaseless rushing of
waters--would the Voice come back bearing tale of all this?--or, if
mud, weeds, fish, incrustations of shell--would the Voice proclaim
safety, and the inventor know the very thickness of that rolling,
beauteous mantle of mystery?

Nothing of the poetic significance of the test was lost on the girl,
and she felt the hand of pity at her throat when she witnessed Emil's
disappointment manifest all over him like a blight.  Then she gloried
when she saw him repeat the test.

Come what might, it was clear he had faith in himself.

Tenaciously he passed from one test to another.  He contorted himself,
stooping in the bottom of the boat, his eyes bright with the steady
flame of his determination.  He took off his coat and, flinging back
his hair, listened with the receiver at one ear while he covered the
other with his free hand.  At last he was able to hear: first, the
muffled stroke of the bell, then the extremely feeble sound vibrations
reflected from the sea bottom through the microphone-telephone; and by
the period of time which elapsed between the bell stroke and the return
impulse, he was able, after innumerable experiments, to estimate
closely the distance which the sound travelled before being sent back.

The afternoon advanced and waned, twilight approached, and, by his
complete absorption, he revealed to Rachel the toil, the cautious
experiments, the days and nights of labour expended for such meagre,
very meagre results.  He became, all at once, in her imagination, a
figure exalted and pathetic.  But it was plain that the unsatisfactory
test had consumed a portion of his existence.  At last, with an abrupt
gesture, he directed her to put back to the shore.

The darkness had fallen and the waves wetted the beach indefatigably,
the ocean murmured incomprehensibly, and from the heavens poured the
imperturbable light of the stars.  The stars threw their calm radiance
over the figure that, silent and absorbed, leaped out of the boat and
without a word made off around the rocks.

A shadowy presence, which immediately disclosed itself as a boy,
emerged from among the boulders and scowled after the retreating form.
"The next time he's for rowing round in such crazy fashion, I'll take
him."  And with his strong arms, André helped Rachel beach the boat.

She flung down the end of rope and faced him.  "You'll do nothing of
the sort," she cried; "you'll mind your business, do you understand?"

These words, spit out upon him, made him open his eyes in astonishment,
but before he could find speech, she likewise had disappeared in the
gloom.



CHAPTER IX

THE OLD FASCINATION

In spite of André's interference and her grandfather's mild
questionings, in spite, even, of Nora Gage's curious and sly looks,
Rachel continued to take Emil out in the boat every day.  But on the
fifth day when she went to the beach, he did not appear.  For a time
she waited in acute loneliness, then, with a magnificent effort, she
returned to the house, deliberately donned her best dress, and,
haughtily, under Nora's little inquisitive eyes, started for Old
Harbour.  Some powerful law of existence was at work driving her
blindly forward to realize a distant idea in the face of the challenges
of her maidenhood.

She walked rapidly until she gained the main street of the little
village.  Then her steps flagged, and with her head turning idly from
side to side, she noticed, as if for the first time, the names over the
doors of the storm-beaten shops:--"Old Harbour Yacht Yard," "Ship
Chandlery and Hardware," "Paint, Cordage and Boat Trimmings."

In her dainty trappings, with the shadow from her hat in her eyes and
folds of her crisp muslin dress in one sunburnt hand to keep it from
the soil of the road, she might have been a stranger on a first stroll
through the curious little town that smelled rankly of fish, instead of
a maid born and bred in those parts.  Finally she paused before a
window where yellow oilskin coats were grotesquely displayed, together
with lanterns and canvas pails and other objects of signal interest to
one of her sex and age; and at that instant Emil, lounging in the door
of the hotel opposite with a pipe planted between his lips, spied her.

For two blocks she walked rapidly, and when she did permit him to
overtake her, she scarcely gave answer to his greeting.  As if by
mutual consent they turned their steps in the direction of the old
Burying Point, a rocky promontory at the town's edge where for two
centuries Old Harbour had persistently discovered graves for its dead
among the boulders.  Rocks and bones of men disputed the place, and
yet, what more fit than that they should be laid to rest there, those
staunch old captains and brave wives, whose very spirits had more in
common with rocks than with flowers?  Yet flowers bloomed there in
scanty elegance, and sprays of 'lady's ear-drop' and 'Queen Anne's
lace,' testifying to some feminine grace hidden away in neighbouring
graves, caught and clung to Rachel's dress as she passed.

Emil, who was frankly pleased to see her, kept laughing loudly as he
switched off the heads of the tall grass: but Rachel turned away her
face and bit her lip; now that she saw him, she was indifferent to him.
She was not thoroughly aware of her own actions until they were
accomplished.  Constantly something vast fought within her.  Indeed, in
this scrap of a girl was manifest one of the greatest desires, the
greatest volitions of the universe.

Reaching the edge of the cemetery where it ran out in a jutting cliff
that commanded a view of extended range and beauty, she sank down on an
old seat and cast a challenging glance at Emil.

"Is the _depth indicator_ complete?" she asked.  "I did not know that
you considered it finished."

"Yes, it's practically finished," he answered; "anyhow, I shan't be
able to do anything more to it for the present.  I've got to finish my
lithographic outfit.  They're hurrying me.  I'm heartily sick of it,
but there's nothing else to be done."

"Of course you must finish it," she agreed quickly, and the last little
cloud vanished from her eyes.

With instinctive tact she began making more attractive to him the duty
that lay before him.  She made him explain the salient features of the
lithographic improvement and she nodded her head sagely at each point
as if she understood.  Then she praised its ingenuity.  Finally, having
divined his feeling for his mother, she hinted at her pleasure in his
success.

"Your mother must be excited these days," she said, "and proud, too."

The glow in his glance had been deepening, and pride was visible all
over him, but at the mention of his mother his expression changed.

"Yes, it must go through for her sake," he said soberly.  "Oh, I'm a
queer devil," he continued, hitching his shoulders in some impatience;
"I've a brain exactly like one of the monkeys in the Zoo--attracted
first by this thing, then by that, just like one of the monkeys in the
Zoo.  I say, you're coming to-morrow?" he asked, as she rose.  "If I'm
to finish in time, someone's got to bring me to account."

He stood smiling at her, the sun lighting up his rough locks and
causing him to half close his questioning, eager eyes in which there
was a touch of anxiety.

She lifted toward him her sensitive and responsive face.

"Will you come?" he insisted.  His eyes held hers.

Her brows rose ingenuously, her lips parted, though no word passed
them.  Then, with a mute gesture of assent, she turned away.

Reaching home, she deemed it expedient to conceal her towering spirits.
But even so, it seemed extraordinary that her grandfather did not
surprise the thought that informed her cheeks, her eyes and every curve
of her body with witchery.  In Emil's presence her bearing had not been
what she could have wished, but now it was that of a queen.

At bedtime, before her mirror, she arranged her hair after a new
fashion.  She stared into her bright soft face.  Standing in her
nightgown she hugged closely to her breast her happiness that was young
and young and once again young.

Borne forward in obedience to an irresistible command of nature, she
continued to meet St. Ives.  In spite of tears and passionate revolts
and innumerable petty hypocrisies by which she strove to put another
face on her actions, that was awake in her which would not be gainsaid.
And, thanks to her sex which so readily can blind itself, her movements
for the most part remained superbly instinctive and unconscious.

When she set out of an afternoon for Old Harbour she caught and held
every eye, like something bright and sparkling.  Nora Gage observed her
and malignity appeared to deepen the creases of her fat; while Lizzie
Goodenough longed for the temerity to give warning to the motherless
slip.  All unmindful of them, Rachel, with such bravery of raiment as
she could command, pursued her course.  And her accoutrement, which was
always the same, was by no means inconsiderable.  The dress was of
yellow barred-muslin and the skirt swayed as she walked like the
corolla of a drooping flower.  The waist fitted her closely, save at
the bosom where there was an over-lapping fulness and in this surplice
front was pinned carelessly, surely with the height of art, a cluster
of evening primroses.  These frail flowers, constantly agitated by the
mad beating of her heart, drooped finally, as if in sheer delight at
their enviable position.  Fastened beneath her chin was the ribbon of
her flower-decked hat.  This ribbon, passing round that little smooth
face and seeming to hold it in a dainty embrace, was a triumph of
coquetry: it had life and spoke, calling attention to the down on the
cheek, to the lift of the upper lip, finally to the eyes, innocent as a
stag's--eyes that never the less revealed in this ardent, complex,
highly-spiritual creature intense aspirations towards a fuller
existence.

One afternoon on arriving at the cemetery she seated herself on a
certain flat-topped tomb, and there some minutes later Emil joined her.
The look from under his rough mane came at her diagonally, as with head
lowered on his hand, he sat beside her.  His eyes shed on her
admiration; his moustache leaped against his cheek as he smiled.

"It's good to be near you."

Rachel glanced at him askance, and one little hand trembled so on the
other that she had to intertwine their fingers strongly.  Though she
drank in these words like wine, she did not know how to prolong the
moment.  Instead,--O perverse instinct that frequently dominates
helpless youth!--she inquired about his work.  For interminable hours
she had longed for this very moment, yet here she was shortening it!

Emil rose joyously to her question.  Not only did he reply to it, but
he amplified his explanation and finally launched into a detailed
description of the instrument on which he was then engaged.

Once started on the subject, she knew he would not abandon it until she
rose as a signal that the interview must end.

Happiness was diminished, but for an instant only.  Disappointment was
drowned in pride.  It was something to have demonstrated to her her
value as a confidante.  To her imagination this stranger dropped by
Fate at her feet, was all that the childish André was not.  He appealed
to her by reason of his stronger magnetism and his greater mind.  Not
only did he seem to her to possess every quality of the ideal lover,
but,--and the discovery completed her subjugation and was essential to
it,--he was the eternal child of genius whom she longed to protect.

The moment came when they had to part.  Sometimes they separated at the
gate of the cemetery; sometimes, if dusk had overtaken them, Emil
walked home with her.  Frequently, at the moment of parting, he caught
her hand and looked fixedly at her eyes and mouth.  Though judging from
the expression of both eyes and mouth, the permission he sought was not
absolutely withheld, the firm, round face fronting his in the evening
light seemed to mask a host of imperious possibilities.  Its look, on
the whole, was equivocal.  Scarcely aware of what restrained him, he
pressed her trusting little fingers and let her go.  Rachel was one of
those fortunate maidens who are never treated with levity by men.

After the young girl had disappeared in the house, the spell she had
cast over Emil's restless heart was in a measure dissipated.  He
straightened his cap, thrust his hands into his pockets and swung away,
his thoughts once more on his work.

But for Rachel there existed no such opposing interest.  Each day,
through the hours of separation, she lived on the exhaustless, ardent
vitality absorbed during their last interview.  But it was not long ere
the glory of her dream was partially eclipsed.  The guileless disturber
of her bliss was a certain Lottie Loveburg who caught up with her one
afternoon as she was striking into the road for Pemoquod Point.  As she
had parted from Emil some minutes earlier, Rachel was not averse to
Lottie's company.

"I'm going your way, at least as far as Mr. Patch's," Lottie announced
with a panting breath.  "Mother wants me to get a mess of pease for
supper.  Bliss and Mason are all sold out."

The two girls went on side by side.

Lottie was a few years older than Rachel.  In school she had been
considered an out-and-out stupid, but once released from school she was
acknowledged a belle.  She was a large full-bosomed lass with a head of
heavy blond hair.  The one misfortune of her face was the slight
crossing of the blue eyes.  As far as possible, she remedied the defect
by a frequent lowering of the lids, though the precaution was one which
she did not trouble herself to take when walking, as at present, with
one of her own kind.  From this big lazy girl there issued a compelling
and entirely innocent charm that attacked the opposite sex.  To the
absorbed and dreamy Rachel she was as cornet to flute, when both blow
the same ravishing air.

For a space the pair followed the road in silence.  Had any observer
been present, he might well have asked himself how much of the hope
depicted on the countenances of these two young creatures was destined
to be fulfilled.  Were they destined to be mothers of sons and
daughters who, in turn, would inhabit this desolate coast?--or was it
written that something of their superabundance of dream and romance be
realized?  It was significant that they set their faces toward the
immense infinite ocean, suggestive that their skirts, whipped to the
side by the breeze, seemed waving a farewell to the rude life of the
land.

Though their shoulders touched, for sometime each seemed unconscious of
the other.  Lottie was the first to speak.

"Well," she cried, "here we are at Mr. Patch's and I haven't said a
word of what's weighing on my mind."

Rachel started and glanced sideways at her.  She feared some allusion
to her meetings with Emil.

But Lottie was too much engrossed in her own affairs to give a thought
to her companion's.  "Yes, I think I must tell you," she continued with
a sigh that was a frank announcement of vanity.  "Well then, Mr.
Forebush intends to fight Jim Wright.  He's going to follow Jim as he
goes along home past the cemetery, and when they reach a lonely place,
he's going to drag Jim in behind the wall and settle things."

"The cemetery?" cried Rachel sharply.  The cemetery was her territory.

"They won't be disturbed there--that's all Mr. Forebush is thinking of.
He travels for a New York shoe firm, you know, and he says he's sick of
finding Jim hanging round our house every time he comes to town."

"Then does Mr. Forebush--does he like you?" Rachel questioned.  Though
she made free use of a warmer term in her meditations, she hesitated to
pronounce it.

But the more experienced Lottie had no such scruple.  "Like me!"  She
threw her hands apart with an expansive motion.  "Why he loves me!"
And to cover her embarrassment she burst into laughter.

Rachel crimsoned.  "Yes, but how do you know he does?" she persisted.

Lottie continued laughing.  "Oh, you queer child!  You understand
nothing!"  Then, as the other darted an angry look at her,--"Why,
doesn't the fight prove it, even if he hadn't said it?  But he has said
it.  I wouldn't take stock in him if he hadn't.  No looks and kisses
without words for me!  But I'm leaving you here.  Wonder if Mr. Patch
is at home."  Then, as she was passing in at the gate she added with a
return of the sentimental manner, "I'm sure I hope Jim won't hurt Mr.
Forebush; he's some bigger, you know."

Rachel did not remain to discuss this possibility.  Instead, she threw
over her shoulder a curt "good-bye" and pursued her course.

When she was with Emil what did he talk about?  Try as she would she
could recall no topic on which he dwelt save his own work.  Ideas for
new inventions, for wonderful instruments jostled each other on his
lips.  He explained them with fire;--plans, details, he mapped them all
out before her.  "Fine to do!" he would cry, and while the words came
forth in the most ringing tones of his voice and his eyes constantly
sought hers, conscious that he revived in her presence his courage and
light-heartedness, she herself was tricked into contentment.  But now
she questioned the extent of her power over him.

Until she had covered the distance from Zarah Patch's to "the barn,"
her feeling was nicely balanced between dejection and hope.  But from
"the barn" onward to her grandfather's house, hope flagged.  Presently,
in the privacy of her own room, she succumbed to despair:

"It may be that I'm not good-looking enough!"

This was the thought that caused her the most exquisite pang.  If she
failed on that score, as well yield up all hope at once.  And in fancy
she ranged herself beside this spinster and that of her acquaintance
until the consciousness of the contrast between eighteen and fifty
brought a smile flickering to her lips.  But did she fail in the matter
of looks?  When dressed in her best, didn't she look as well as Lottie
Loveburg?  To be sure Lottie had a rope of hair as big as your arm, but
then, there were her eyes!

To glance in the mirror over her bureau at her own resources of face
and figure was a natural action for a young thing in such harassing
doubt.  At present, however on the subject of her looks, Rachel had all
of a child's ignorance.  She was no more capable of appreciating the
sensitive changeful beauty of her colouring and expression than a
canary bird is of appreciating the beauty of its yellow plumage.

Turning from the mirror to a window, she lost herself in reverie.  Her
thoughts returned again and again to the vision of two eyes that
entered audaciously into hers,--two eyes with a mind in them,--two good
lips laughing and talking from the covert of a curling beard; and as
she studied the exciting vision, the gloom lifted from her face.  It
was indeed a great honour to be the confidante of such a man, she
assured herself; and once more was isolated by the realization on a
dizzy eminence above all her girl companions.



CHAPTER X

IN WHICH A KISS IS GIVEN AND REGRETTED

Unconscious of the grim humour that lurked in the fact of their having
selected it as a place to foregather, Emil and Rachel continued to meet
at the old Burying Point.  No other lovers came there, and as deaths
were infrequent in Old Harbour and a funeral pageant an event, they
were practically secure from interruption.  There, where the wind bent
the grass above the graves with a sound that struck pleasantly on the
ear and the insect world was all abroad on busy wings, they found the
isolation their spirits craved.  The place was, at most, but a setting
for their two selves, for their sweet, intoxicating emotions.

Emil would look at Rachel pensively, almost appealingly.  She stirred
in him depths of tenderness and often he would have been tempted into
some indiscretion had not her Arcadian innocence disconcerted him.
With a shrug of the shoulders and a sigh, he would turn away from her
as if offended at something.  Though neither of them guessed it, what
raised the level of the situation and decreased its dangers, was the
unflagging interest she exhibited in his work.  A woman's interest in
his achievement is always fruitful for a man.  For the exuberant and
egotistic inventor, it was as fuel to flame.  It immensely increased
his powers.

Had anyone, prompted by curiosity, troubled himself to spy on the pair,
he would have discovered an enthusiastic young fellow ranting on
matters scientific and a slip of a girl sitting nearby with delight and
despair depicted on her mobile countenance.  The delight, he would have
remarked, was a fluctuating emotion; the despair in danger of becoming
a lasting one.

The two had been meeting in this way for upwards of three weeks and the
lithographic sheets and press were all but ready for triumphant
shipment, when Rachel's patience came unexpectedly to an end.  Her
change of front was due directly to the weather.  The temperature of
Pemoquod on a particular afternoon in late August made the wearing of
the muslin dress seem out of the question, for the day, while bright,
was distinctly chilly and by the time she quitted the cemetery
according to all reasonable calculations, the air would be cold.  She
therefore made no change in her dress at all, but in her every-day
frock, with an old drab silk shawl, which had belonged to her mother,
over her shoulders and a book from the circulating library under her
arm, she took her way to Old Harbour, her prospects for a pleasant
interview considerably damaged.  In this dull attire she would forego
Emil's lightning glances of pleasure, "For he might as well look at a
rock or a stump," she told herself disconsolately, "as look at me the
way I am to-day."

The weather beside the sea is nothing if not capricious, and by the
time she reached the cemetery, the air had become warm.  It was between
four and five o'clock and the sun was sending long level shafts between
the graves, as if looking for something, when Rachel took her
accustomed place on the flat-topped tomb and let the shawl slip down
her back till it lay about her in a semicircle of rippling folds.

"Just my bad luck!" she soliloquized.  "It's warm enough for a gauze
dress if one had such a thing.  But I'd like to know what's the sense
of all this?" she resumed indignantly.  "It isn't fair that he should
judge me by my clothes entirely and I'll not have it.  I've a mind as
well as he!"

Now there was no evidence that Emil had judged her as lacking this
particular endowment, but she was in no mood to adhere closely to
facts.  She began turning the pages of her book at random.  She was
engaged in reading, with most imperfect attention it must be confessed,
a glowing description of the sphinx, when he arrived.

From a distance he spied her and she appeared to him to light up with
her grace the whole desolate place.  For eight hours he had devoted
himself solely to work; now like one who receives but his just reward,
he drew near with a jovial smile on his lips.  Rachel, though she was
conscious of his approach in every fibre of her being, was all for
concealing the fact.  Partly through resentment, partly through
coquetry, she kept her eyes to her page.  Suddenly Emil halted.  Of a
truth, there was material enough in the picture she made, perched there
on the old table-tomb, for twenty conquests.

Dressed in the famous muslin, the rarest quality of her beauty, a
certain lurking mystery, was lost amid furbelows which simply
emphasized her youth.  Now clothed in a sober little frock that
appeared to be as much part of her as its smooth bark is part of a
sapling, there was nothing to divert attention from her actual self.
There she sat with her book open on her lap, a kind of sibyl, while
about her hummed and buzzed and fluttered tribes of nimble-bodied
insects.  Great blundering bees pilfered rude kisses from the willing
lips of some pink phlox swaying at her knee, a butterfly came to rest
on the tomb and even crawled with curious, quivering antennae toward
the hand outspread on the stone.  A thrush poured out its heart from a
little whip of a tree over her head.  In the midst of this place of
death, she spoke compellingly of life.

"I've come!"

Emil's voice trembled.  The blood beat in his temples.

"How long have you been here?" he questioned, as he opened his hand
grudgingly and released her fingers.  "How much have I missed of you?"

She ignored the form of the question.  "Oh, I've not been here long, I
think," with disconcerting calmness, "though when I have a book I lose
all track of time."

At this unexpectedly repressing manner, he moved a few paces off.

"What is your book?" he inquired after a pause.

"'Impressions of the Nile Country,'" and she made a motion as if to
hand him the volume.  But he kept his face away.  Thereupon she plucked
a spear of grass and placed it carefully between the pages, while a
peculiarly significant and feminine expression played about her mouth.

"Oh," she sighed with sudden fervour, "how I should like to travel!
particularly how I should love to travel in Egypt."

"But why Egypt?" and he swung round.

"The sphinx;" she explained briefly. "It sits there gazing before it
forever and forever, and it never reveals the secret of the hands that
fashioned it, while the sun scorches it and the sands blow over it and
will finally throttle it, I suppose, but it will never tell."

With her arms crossed on her lap, she was staring at a near-by shrub.
It was a starved old rose-bush which had long since ceased to bear, but
she seemed to see in it a vision, for a smile unclosed her lips and
narrowed her eyes.  She looked up at him and her bosom lifted.

"Yes," she repeated softly, "I should like mightily to see the sphinx."

He was regarding her with a strange, fixed attention.  Now he thrust
his hands into the pockets of his jacket with a convulsive movement.

"You're something by way of being a sphinx yourself," he said
unsteadily.

Reaching behind her she slowly drew up the shawl until straight folds
of the material fell about her face.  Then she extended a hand on
either knee and gazed before her.  The imitation was admirable.  Not a
feature or limb stirred.  The sun penetrated the worn silken shawl and
vaguely defined her round little form.  It gilded her forehead and chin
and traced a line of humid light along the lids of the eyes the pupils
of which were so obstinately contemplating Eternity.  But what that
celestial body could not accomplish with its bold steady gaze, was
given to a mortal to achieve with a single glance.  St. Ives bent over
her.

The sphinx was lost in the woman.

Throbbing with delicious dread, Rachel gave him her eyes.  She returned
look for look, while her breathing ceased and her little hands, still
stretched along her knees, trembled.  Lower and lower he bent his head,
higher and higher she lifted hers, to the length of its delicate,
palpitating throat.  At the very brink--an ecstatic, troubled, reeling
pause, then--their lids sank, their lips met.

About them the insects continued their aggressive activity.  A bee,
greedy for the last drop of honey, lit on a purple aster and the whole
light spray of blossoms swayed to his weight.  The butterfly that had
lately visited Rachel's hand, joined its mate high up in the thin blue
air.  From the branch of a sapling the thrush swelled its throat once
more in a joyful song.  Ignorant that those two motionless heads
announced creatures differing in aught from themselves, the host of
creeping and winged things enrolled them for the nonce in their lists.

Rachel was the first to recoil from the caress.  She drew
back,--sweetly ashamed, shyly-radiant, with that in her eyes a man
would have died rather than lessen.

But on Emil the shock of the caress had a contrary effect.

"In Heaven's name!" he cried, without looking at her, "forgive me."
The words leaped forth from his very heart.  He wasn't half worthy that
kiss and he had the astonishing grace to know it.

As though any apology were necessary, however, as though events could
have happened otherwise!  The kiss had been as sure to come as the
imminent meeting of evening with deep dark night.  And so Rachel, by
her manner, seemed to say.  In an anguish of expectancy she looked up
at him--ready to be assured, or ready to be stricken in her pride as
never maid was stricken before.

Before Emil could answer, Zarah Patch appeared round a turn of the
roadway.  Concealed by hedges and clumps of shrubbery, his approach had
been unnoticed by the pair.  Now he brought the white mare to a halt
while he shot a look at the girl.  Some inkling of the gossip
concerning his friend's young granddaughter had reached even his old
ears.

"I'm going back to the Point directly, Rachel," he called, "be ye
inclined to come along?"

She sent a mute, tremulous question to Emil.  His eyes were rivetted on
the ground.  A powerful struggle was taking place within him.  A desire
for love had flamed in his heart and, with his lips on hers, for one
brief fiery instant he had tasted the sweetness of his power over her.
None the less, what he now experienced was an intolerable sense of
shame.  It set the seal of dignity on his ardour, if she had but
understood.  But she totally misread him.

Pride sent up its secret cry: Perhaps he regretted the kiss, perhaps he
had no right to kiss her?

"Want to come along?" urged Zarah.  "I've been hauling sod and the cart
is some muddied, but if yer'e keerful gittin' in, ye won't hurt yer
dress none."

Rachel suddenly signified her assent.

Emil raised his head in a singular and wild fashion.  He made an
imploring gesture.  But it was too late.

Under cover of a manner of perfect nonchalance she rose to the supposed
situation.  Haughtily, under his fiercely-miserable eyes and the
curious eyes of the old man, she proceeded to the cart.

Emil strode forward.  He looked passionate.  But she ignored his
proffered hand and accepted Zarah's assistance into the cart.  Once
perched on the high seat, she nodded proudly in the direction of him
whom she had so lately kissed.

Like many another woman if she could have erased the tender incident
from the scroll of her days, if she even could have told herself with
honesty that Emil had been the only moved one, she would willingly have
given half her life.

"But I kissed him back--I did!  I did! and there's no use pretending
otherwise," she confessed in helpless stony abasement.

And throughout the night, in intervals of sleeplessness, she continued
to sigh because of the torturing memory.



CHAPTER XI

AT THE OLD BURYING POINT

By the next morning the incident just recorded had taken on to Rachel a
somewhat different tinge.  Her sense of humiliation had so far abated
as to admit of her entertaining a feeling of pity for Emil.  He
certainly had appeared a disconsolate and astounded figure as he stood
there gazing after her as she drove away.  She wished now that she had
not left so precipitately, or, at least, that she had not declined his
proffered assistance when mounting into the cart.

By an altered reasoning the apology which had offended her yesterday,
now gratified her.  As a gentleman who had been guilty of the grave
misdemeanour of kissing a lady, he could not have acted differently;
for she now thrust the entire blame of the incident on his masculine
shoulders.  "It certainly was his fault in the first place," she
argued.  And, having shifted the ground of resentment from the apology
for the kiss to the kiss itself, she resolved to forgive the wrong-doer.

The greater part of the day she spent in wandering on the shore of the
bay.  Whenever she went there, instinctively she glanced at the mound
of sand where, on the occasion of their first meeting, she had seen
Emil bury the torn scraps of a letter.  Not that she would have touched
the mound for the world, but the strictest would not censure a glance
of curiosity in that direction.  Owing to its protection from the wind,
the little grave, strangely enough, had remained intact.  But this
morning a scrap of paper appeared on the beach bearing, in what was
incontestably a woman's handwriting, the single word "Dearest."

Scarcely cognizant of what she did, Rachel, like a feminine Crusoe,
hovered over this bit of evidence on the sand.  Like the legendary hero
her consciousness of being alone was destroyed, but with different
effect, for instead of an expression of surprise not unmixed with fear,
her look was one of suspicious misery.

"That letter was never from his mother," flashed through her mind.
"Old ladies don't make D's that way, so big and round,--but small and
trembly.  No, whoever she is, she's young.  Of course," reason
suggested, "the letter may have been written by some relative--by a
cousin, perhaps."  The supposition was barely tenable.

With the keen brightness of eye that betokens jealousy, she remained
poised for the briefest fraction of time above the tantalizing find,
then she turned and pranced away.  The instant devoted to the scrutiny
had been so short as to admit of scarcely more than half a heart-throb,
so short as scarcely to be termed a look at all, yet a sense of
dishonour was not lacking in her suffering.

She walked, stopped to think, shed a tear or two, and eventually grew
calm.  What comforted her was the thought that Emil cared so little for
its writer that he had torn the letter into bits.

By afternoon her anxiety to forgive him for the misdemeanour of the day
previous had grown to such proportions as to drive her to the place of
meeting much earlier than usual; and waiting there still further
increased the feeling.  When she saw him coming, she rose.  Her arms,
hanging down her sides, trembled.  She was all languor, all expectancy;
she was the desire for reconciliation incarnate.  Yet even from a
distance, she knew that something was wrong.  She turned upon him a
look of inquiry as he drew near with his hands sunk in his pockets and
his head lowered.

His face was clouded, his moustache curved downward, though when he
lifted his eyes to hers, into them flashed a warm and intensely
grateful smile.  But the expression was succeeded by a gloomy one.

"Well, it's all over," he announced.  "No need for me to have slaved
so.  I'm thrown aside and someone else goes ahead and reaps the
profits."

"What do you mean?" she gasped.

"Mean?  Why I mean that my delightful employers have stolen the press,
the sheets, the whole scheme.  I wasn't quick enough and they got
someone else to finish the thing and applied for the patent."

"How do you know?"

"Oh, I've been informed all right," he said and from his pocket he drew
a letter.

Involuntarily Rachel extended her hand; then her face went white.  On
the sheet that fluttered in his fingers she beheld the same childish
chirography that had appeared on the scrap of paper on the beach.  Her
hand dropped.

"It's always the same," he went on, without noticing the change that
had come over her.  And seating himself on the tomb, he took out his
pipe.  Having filled it, he commenced to smoke, his eyes widely opened,
full of profound thought, fixed on vacancy.

"Not that it makes any difference," he continued philosophically after
a pause.  "The world gets the benefit of the invention; as for me, I've
plenty of other things in my head.  I'm not crying over spilt milk,"
and he looked up at her and laughed while the shining returned to his
glance.  Reaching out toward her he tried to take her hand.  This
movement, while bold, was not destitute of an appealing grace.  It was
a mute reference to the kiss, to their changed relations; it was also a
demand for sympathy.

At any other time Rachel would not have resisted it, but now she
stepped out of his reach.  "Who is it that informs you?"  Her voice was
implacable.

He hesitated.  "The daughter of one of my employers," he said in a low
tone.  "She's stood by me from the first," he admitted.  "She's been in
fact a--little trump."  And then he sighed.

Rachel turned away her head.  "I should think you'd go to her at once,"
she said.  "I don't see why you wait here.  There's a train at six."

Disconcerted, he got to his feet.  Their eyes locked.  He glowered upon
her.

"You might be able to protect your rights," she continued in a stinging
voice.  "Then I should think, on _her_ account, if not on your
mother's, you'd make the attempt."

She saw the visible pang the mention of his mother occasioned.

"I will," he cried, "I'll go."  And he held out his hand.

She saw that he shook from head to foot, and she knew that she had hurt
him mortally.  But every force of her passionate nature had become
negative to all appeal from him.  She could but stand with an impassive
face and bid him go, lest he court worldly failure instead of success.

And so they parted like strangers.

When he had passed from her sight, Rachel sank in a little heap on the
tomb.  She bent her face on her knees.  She felt as if a
sounding-instrument had gone to the very depths of her heart and
explored there among ambiguous weeds and mud, and as she listened to
the message that came back, she rocked backward and forward in a very
ecstasy of barren grief and shame.  It seemed to her that she had
reached the burying point of life, and her sobs, quick with the agony
of youthful living, sounded small and piteous in that quiet place of
the dead.



CHAPTER XII

THE MIGRATORY INSTINCT

During the first weeks succeeding Emil's departure, Rachel looked
feverishly for a letter.  It seemed to her the intensity of her longing
must cause one to appear.  But none came, and finally she realized that
none would come.  She went about with a curled lip and a scornful eye.
Nora Gage might run the house as she chose and cook as many savory
dishes as she pleased, the girl did not care; she was indifferent even
to her grandfather; but let the one or the other cross her will, and
her anger blazed forth.  These violent outbursts were nature's defence.

In the painful upheaval that separated her dream from the reality, that
which was the very centre of her higher life, suffered to such an
extent that she must have become inert, had it not been for the
responsibility felt by all the ruder faculties of her hardy young
being.  She had sought love, struggling albeit unconsciously, toward a
supposed freedom; and driven back on herself, she would have become
like a prisoner at the bottom of a cellar--bleeding, discouraged,
without further hope--had it not been for the nerves that proved
insurrectionary, for the temper that refused to be thwarted.  The
activity of these rescuers gradually amazed the girl herself and drew
her from the contemplation of her trouble.  But the experience, long
after the actual pain of it had given place to a general
dissatisfaction with existence, left its trace upon her face; and this
tempestuous beauty, wrought from within, played around her lips in a
smile of tragic comprehension and increased the range of her youthful
and expressive eye.

At home Nora dragged her slippers over the kitchen floor with a
flapping sound, and at "the barn," where even the occasional customer
had ceased to appear, André played wild airs upon his fiddle.  Both
these sounds were intolerable to Rachel and, to escape them, she fled
to the cliffs.  There, even as the cold weather came on, she sat for
hours, with her chin buried in her hands and her eyes on the ocean--the
ocean which, unfathomable and perpetually active, built itself into
gigantic walls that broke against the rocks with a reverberating report
and were sucked back emitting long murmurs.

Old David, thinking that he discovered in this preoccupation with the
sea a likeness to her father, approached Zarah Patch on the subject and
from a distance, screwing up their eyes in the sunlight, the two
ancient men observed her.

"It's her father's blood," explained old David, "often and often I seen
him look the same way."

"It's jest female feelings," Zarah affirmed, "she ain't rightly found
her rudder yet, and she's young.  It's always so with women;"--a remark
of unusual length and penetration for Zarah.

Finally old David hit on a plan for diverting her, a plan, however,
which was destined to increase her malady rather than to cure it.  In
the Old Harbour paper that once a week found its way to the Point,
there appeared an account of a private car fresh from the shops which,
for the purpose of conveying his family and friends to their home in
the city, had been brought to Old Harbour by a wealthy summer resident.
The car was stalled on a side track, and old David proposed to his
granddaughter that they go and see it.

It was a fine clear afternoon, and as the visit was in the nature of a
pleasure expedition, they drove beside Zarah Patch in his cart.  As
they bowled along the road, the ruts of which were slightly stiffened
by the frost, old David talked continuously and Rachel found herself
listening.

"You know I used to work in the car shops at Philadelphy when I was a
young chap," he explained.  "It was an immense sky-lighted place
covered with tracks and filled from one end to t'other with cars, some
old to be repainted and some entirely new.  Winter was the time when
the old ones used to come troopin' back to us all faded and
travel-stained; they used to seem like old women whose finery was a
little gone-by, who came back to see how young and spruce they could be
made to look.  And in the summer we fitted out the new ones, and they
of course was like young things jest preparin' fer their first venture
into the world.

"I tell ye," he continued, "I used to feel about them jest as if they
were human creatures.  The men who worked there was called 'liners,'
'sign-writers,' 'hardwood-finishers,' 'decorators,' and 'rubbers-down.'
The 'rubbers-down' worked with emery-cloth and water, and oh my, didn't
they have to be careful about savin' the gold paint on the old cars,
though!  For the letters and lines of gold on a car are always left to
stand, bein' as you might say, her jewellery," he added, with a
cackling laugh.

But when the little party descended at the station, the magnificence of
the new coach dazzled old David.  He had never seen anything like it,
though this fact he strove to conceal.

"They used to decorate 'em more," he said, "they used to paint scrolls
along the sides, and between the winders they put on yaller tulips; and
to my mind, the cars was handsomer."

The ticket agent ran across the tracks to open the new coach and the
old man, to demonstrate his knowledge of the subject, began enumerating
the different classes of common cars.  "'P.K.' is the best of 'em," he
proclaimed," "'P.K.  Wide Vestibule'.  But of course this car is
something a little extry."

When, however, the ticket agent had left them and they once more stood
looking up at the coach, he broke forth into lyric praise of it.

"'Tain't hardly been on the tracks, remember," he cried, "but think of
the miles and miles it has to run, through what different kinds of
country.  It'll be like a good soldier followin' the leader!  But the
engine!  Oh, that's the master of 'em all!" he continued; "great,
shinin', pantin' master, that's what the engine is, the master."

Rachel looked at the car as at a traveller who is about to start on a
long journey.  Once she had seen the wife of the owner with a party of
friends, and she began filling the seats of the new coach with these
people.  Oh, the ladies, the softly-turned heads; the nicely-dressed
children--no common folk were to ride in this car!  And she imagined
how they would be carried forward, the rolling of the wheels growing
ever swifter and swifter; and then how they would arrive at that spot,
glimmering with a million lights, tumultuous and confused, the city
containing great homes.

On the drive back to the Point, she closed her eyes the better to
pursue her thoughts, and her grandfather's words mingled with them like
something heard in a dream.

"Sometimes, not often, I used to paint station signs," he said, "and
after I'd finished the name of a place--maybe it was Kingston, or maybe
it was only Smithville,--I used to think how the sign would be hung at
the end of a long platform or perhaps jest posted against a little shed
of a buildin' in the midst of a great prairie, and I used to think of
the rain and the snow that'd blow against it, and most blot out the
letters, and the little birds that would perch on it; and somehow I
felt as if I had been to the places jest through paintin' of the signs."

Rachel pictured the earth webbed with tracks like veins, and she saw
the ships following certain appointed routes over seas; and again, as
in the past, it appeared to her that she was the one stagnant thing in
an active creation.

"But the signs I liked to paint best," resumed her grandfather's
tremulous voice, "were the _Stop-Look-Listen_ signs, and the
_Railroad-Crossin'--Look Out For The Engine_.  They are made of cast
steel now and the letters are raised, but in my time they was of wood,
tall white posts with a pointin' arm, like ghosts givin' warnin'."


It seemed to the girl that at all costs she must set herself free and
become a part of a moving and active world.  But how transgress the law
that had placed her there on the Maine coast, without experience and
without outlet for all the various capacities of her being?  From that
time she began to coax her grandfather to leave Pemoquod.

"The president of the car shops who gave you this house," she began one
evening, winding her arms about his neck, "if you looked him up--"

"Nicholas Hart ain't in Philadelphy no longer," objected the old man.
"I seen in the papers years ago about the car shops failin' when he had
'em, and then about his movin' to New York City."

"Yes, I know that," she assented, "now if you looked him up, he'd
probably get you a nice easy position in New York.  But I don't intend
you shall work much longer," she continued, "and that's just the point;
I ought to be doing something to support us both.  But what can I do
here?"

In vain old David protested that he did not wish her to work, she
overruled him, the more easily because his ever-youthful heart was
pleased with the idea of a change.  Then, too, he was lapsing into his
second childhood and as time went on he allowed himself to be guided
more and more by her.

Nora Gage was no match for the pair.  She had conceived a fondness for
the kitchen, for the stove, for the very pots and pans; moreover, the
food that she was able to get in this house was to her liking,
especially now, when secure from observation, she fried, stirred and
seasoned to her heart's content.  No longer driven to eat these
supplementary luncheons in the privacy of her own chamber, surrounded
by her mice like St. Francis by his birds, she ate when and where she
chose, even under the eyes of the abstracted girl.  It must not be
concluded that she was ignorant of any detail of the plan that was on
foot.  No one knew, better than she, through listening at the cracks of
doors, what was going forward.  And anon she would be servile before
Rachel, through sheer apprehension, and again would rage inwardly to
think that the coming change in her fortunes was due to a brat of a
girl.  The grandfather, by the force of that will which existed in the
depths of her being like a seldom-used sword in a scabbard, Nora could
have managed; but Rachel was beyond the range of her power.  However,
when the announcement of the great news was finally made to her, her
plea was ready.

"And what's to become of me, miss?" she demanded.  "For more years than
ye've lived I've served yer grandfather faithful, and now at a word
from ye I'm turned off with no place to go."

Rachel, sitting on the arm of her grandfather's chair, regarded the
housekeeper coldly.  "Why can't you go back in the meat-market with
your cousin?" she asked; "grandfather says you used to be there."

"Yes, but his son's growed up now and he don't need me," and Nora began
to turn a corner of her apron over one stodgy finger.  "It was jest as
my friends warned me," she whimpered, "they said I'd be sorry if I
stayed on here after yer mother died.  I've sacrificed everything for
ye two and ye don't seem to know it."  She ended with a guttural sob.

Rachel scanned her with a swift glance from head to foot.  "What have
you sacrificed for us?" she asked.  "Haven't you been paid?"

"Yes, but there's some things that can't be paid for," Nora muttered.
"A woman can't stay in a man's house the way I have without its costing
her dear."

The girl stared, then the clear colour stained her face.  "Nonsense!"
she cried.

"It may seem nonsense to you, miss," Nora retorted, "I can well
understand that it do--actin' as you did awhile back.  But it ain't
nonsense to the world.  I might as well be like that poor thing at the
lighthouse 'stead of the decent woman I am, as far as the world knows.
I've give up everything for ye two, that's what I have, and this is the
way I git treated," and she began sobbing in earnest.

The old man gazed from one to the other in bewilderment.  He saw his
granddaughter rise and heard her draw a sharp breath, and he saw the
housekeeper cower and drop her eyes.

Rachel passed to a window and stood there for some seconds; then a
whiff of cookery from the kitchen stirred in her a kind of pity.
Through a crack of the door was revealed that for which Nora struggled
and schemed.  To have food in plenty, greasy, rich food, this was the
one desire of Nora's life.

"Grandfather," she said softly and a little wearily, without looking at
the woman, "if you are willing, we'll take Nora with us."

Of all this interesting parley which betrayed itself in the
late-burning lamp at the Beckett house, André Garins caught not an
inkling.  He slept above in the lighthouse, or, when chance favoured,
below in his bed; and cut off as he was from news, he remained ignorant
of the proposed flight.

Occasionally, after he had polished the crystal lenses and the brass
trimmings of the lantern, his duties over for the day, he tapped at the
Beckett door; but Rachel was too busy to see him: and to escape the
belligerent eyes of Captain Daniels who drank secretly but heavily as
the cold weather came on, he betook himself to the deserted barn.

Blown upon by all the winds of heaven, with whisperings at every crack
and meanings in its loosened timbers, "the barn" was André's retreat.
Far from finding it dismal, he had only to light a fire in the cracked
stove and whip out his fiddle; and henceforth, it became a cheerful and
friendly abode.  He was too close to nature to be rendered unhappy by
mere loneliness.  The booming of the sea against the cliffs and the
sighing of the wind in the vastnesses of the sedgegrass, but lit in him
a fiercer gayety.

Up to this time André had resembled one of those unobtrusive plants
which encumber the highway, but which are apt to escape notice until
the flowering season.  He was as handsome as an animal, a child or any
other natural thing, and of the primitive soul at the bottom of him,
his large and rolling eye revealed little.  But the hour comes when the
humble flower arrests our attention, if only for the fraction of a
moment, by opening a corolla of exquisite perfection.

It was on a day in late autumn after the first snow had vanished from
the earth, leaving it wistful and half-chastened, that Rachel sought
out André.  It was to be expected that her schoolfellow would feel
sharp regret at her news, and for this reason she had delayed
enlightening him until the last moment.  They stood some distance from
"the barn" in the pale sunlight and as she began to speak, he looked
straight into her eyes with a kind of uncomprehending terror.  Scarcely
had she finished when he sank to the ground as if felled by a blow.

"Say you didn't mean it," he moaned, and at her dress she felt his
clinging hands while his forehead rested hot against her feet.

She lifted his head and saw his mouth twisting like a child's, while
from his eyes poured two steady streams of tears.

"Why André!" she cried, and with a movement of almost maternal
compassion, she put her arms about him.  Thus drawn against the sky,
the young pair vaguely suggested the group of Niobe and her child.

"Say you won't leave me," he moaned, "say we'll be married and you'll
never, never leave me."

Softly she stroked his hair while gazing straight before her.  Through
a sort of prescience she knew that this humble and suppliant love was
sweeter and more fathomless than anything that would come to her again.

"No, André dear," she said finally, "I can't stay just living on day
after day, and all the days just alike; I can't because there's
something _here_," and she touched her heart, "that won't let me.  All
the same," she continued, "I'm not sure that you're not wiser.  You'll
stay here patiently, and, after a fashion, you'll be happy, I suppose.
But it won't be that way with me," she added, with a prophetic shake of
the head; "I shall not be patient and so--"

But André comprehended nothing save the fact that the innermost hope of
his being was in ruins.  He was sobbing now with even more abandon and
through the texture of her dress Rachel felt the pure warmth of his
tears.

"Look, André," she said, "do you see that they are burning wrecks down
there--the lumber of those fishing boats that came ashore last spring.
Why are they doing it?"

He raised his wet eyes and followed the direction of her pointing
finger.

"It's because they want to use the iron bolts that screw them
together," she continued.  "In just the same way, life treats us--like
wrecked barks, and the flames sweep over us, so that at last all that
is left is the iron strength of us."  She finished almost in a whisper,
as if she had forgotten him.

It was clear that André's soul would continue to cling to her soul like
the lichen to the wood, the ivy to the tree.  And this he knew, even
while he mourned the material separation.

Presently more matter-of-fact words brought him to himself.  He ceased
weeping, and rising, stood at her bidding.

"You'll see about the trunk lock," she said, "right away; and you'll
meet grandfather and go with him to buy the tickets.  I'll see you
again in the morning, but this is the real goodbye."

His face was as calm as hers now, even the longing in it had died.
Seeing him thus--being no Spartan, but soft woman every inch--her arms
went about his neck and her lips met his.  While the two young
creatures stood thus the sun, faintly pink, sank into the sea and a
cold wind blew over the land.

Rachel had disappeared but André had gone scarcely a hundred yards when
he flung himself face downward.  With his hands knotted among the
sedgegrass, he wept without sound.  A locust that had been lured from
its retreat by the warmth of the day, looked at him from the stalk of a
plantain, then changed its location to less violently agitated
quarters; only the shaking of some denuded stalks marked where the boy
lay.

Because of the insubmission, bravery and perseverance of a young girl,
the old weather-beaten house of the former lobsterman was forsaken.  No
more would its rooms echo to the sound of voices, and footsteps would
no more pass its thresholds; its doors were closed.  The sunlight would
penetrate into its unused rooms and trace the accustomed pattern on
floor and wall; no one would know.  And on roof and steps the rain
would beat its old friendly reveille.  Sagging in roof and beam under
the drifted snow of winter, denuded in summer of shutter and shingle,
gradually the abandoned house would disappear from the landscape;
little by little it would vanish like a nest that the birds have
forsaken.

When the hour for the departure arrived, several of the good wives of
the Point appeared.  They formed a little group around Rachel.  One of
them straightened her hat, another retied the scarf around her neck;
then they shook hands with her gravely, looking at her with dimmed
eyes.  Rachel strained her gaze in the direction of the lighthouse and
saw Lizzie Goodenough standing with a parcel in her hands.  Instantly
the girl darted up the rocky path and the two embraced, while the
others exchanged glances.

Old David, all eagerness to be off, had clambered into the cart in
which a quantity of household gear had been packed, and sat there
holding the reins; while Zarah Patch helped André bring out the one
trunk and several bags and boxes.  At last all was in readiness, when
Nora Gage discovered an important item of luncheon unprepared for
transportation.  Several baskets were offered, and in the confusion,
Rachel made her escape.

Arrived at the bay shore, flushed and panting, she stooped with a
graceful movement and laid her cheek against the wreck, while with her
hand she patted that shadowy collection of letters that still in washed
out reds and blues formed a name no wind nor tide could efface.
_Defender_!  Warped, dislocated, destroyed, its tarry timbers pierced
with innumerable holes, its dismal hulk filled with the last lamentable
cargo of seawrack and sand, the wreck lifted its broken ribs like arms
toward the girl.  From what would it restrain her?  From what did it
seek to defend her?

Rising, she approached and stood before the figure-head, and the
figure-head looked back at her and, as it were, over and beyond her.
With a timid movement, Rachel kissed this old comrade also.  Then she
ran away, and a moment later she looked back, and there she saw
her--that "great-kneed, deep-breasted" Goddess of Hope--with her face
set toward the Unknown,--valiant, free!



BOOK II



CHAPTER I

THE STREET OF MASTS

"He saw you in the shop that time long ago, Grandfather, and understood
that the paint had affected you?"

"Yes, it were the lead in the white paint that poisoned me," agreed
David; "I'd been paintin' cattle cars pretty stiddy, which was a job
most on 'em tried to skip."

"I see, and the superintendent told Mr. Hart how faithfully you'd
worked and the result was that he sent you this letter with a deed for
the house at the Point.  It shows that he thought a great deal of you;
and even if we shouldn't be able to find him," she continued with a
shade of apprehension, "it seems to me this letter, old as it is, ought
to help in getting you some sort of a position, just temporarily."

"But it ain't _some_ sort of a position I'm wantin'," the other
objected, "it's a railroad position; and though railroad corporations
is one thing," he continued, "and car shops is another, still they do
business together constant; and I guess we'll find the Big Middletown
people know all about Nicholas Hart when we ask 'em."

And so these two, the one so lately emerged from childhood and the
other just reëntering it, started on their quest, and from their eyes
looked out the same innocence, ignorance and unquenchable hope.

"I'll feel safer about Grandfather when he's occupied," thought the
girl, "but it must be light work, I'll insist upon that; and then
directly I'll find something to do myself."

Since their arrival in the city a fortnight before, old David had
manifested a growing irresponsibility.  Deprived of his accustomed
occupations and transferred to the streets of the metropolis, he had
become like a ship without a rudder.  So far, his driftings had been as
pleasant as they were aimless, but more than once he had been lost,
more than once, following the lead of his errant curiosity, had barely
escaped serious accident.  And there was no telling how soon the
threatening dangers of the new existence might overwhelm him.
Insensibly, in the midst of his delight, he looked to the young girl
for guidance.  She it was who had settled them in their present
quarters, three small rooms at the top of an old building in lower New
York, rooms selected because of their cheapness and because two windows
overlooked a wharf at which foreign ships were tethered while a third
window looked toward the west.  She it was who had added to their
meagre stock of house plenishings at push-carts and cheap shops.
Indeed, she it was who had assumed entire responsibility for the
undertaking.

Nora Gage, who now received a lower wage than formerly, and in
consequence performed only such duties as she chose, grumbled
constantly.  The poor fare on which Rachel and the old man subsisted
filled her with disgust, and she would have gratified her gastronomic
preferences out of her savings of twenty years, had it not been that
the queer foreign foods, in which the markets of the neighbourhood
abounded, were not to her taste.  Even old David at moments was
inclined to be fractious, and Rachel, who had wilfully played the part
of Fate to these two, was forced to listen as patiently as she could to
their criticisms.

On the afternoon in question when she emerged from the house with her
grandfather, the old man scowled; for the street was dank with mist and
clamorous with the roar of the nearby "elevated."

"This ain't a nice street," he complained, "I don't like the smell on
it, and with everything swallowed up in the fog so, we can't see the
only thing worth seein'--the ships."

"But perhaps we can later; when we come back the fog may be gone,"
Rachel comforted him.  However, a touch of the cold and damp seemed to
threaten her own heart.

By dint of timid inquiries, at the end of two hours' weary searching,
the bewildered pair found themselves in a Broadway office of the
Middletown road.  But the clerk to whom they made known their quest,
shook his small, well-combed head at them.

"It's to Philadelphia you ought to have gone, Uncle," he said, while a
smile wrinkled the flesh beneath his prominent eyes.  "We know nothing
about your car shops here.  As for this letter, it's a bit ancient,"
and he handed it back.

Rachel flushed.  "My grandfather wishes to obtain work in New York,"
she said.  "We showed you the letter merely as a credential, thinking
perhaps you might know Mr. Nicholas Hart--if he is still living," she
added with a pang of fear.

The man glanced at the handsome girl and the boldness, the
indestructible animation of sex, flashed in his pale eyes.  "I'm
sorry," he said in a voice which he strove to make respectful, "but I
do not know him.  However, I've no doubt if you go--"

"Is it Nicholas Hart you're speaking of?" interrupted an older clerk
who had been an interested listener to the conversation.  "Yes, he's
still living, I think.  Years ago he used to be one of the owners of
the car shops in Philadelphia; that's right.  If I'm not mistaken he's
living now with his son Simon Hart who is a jeweller in some street in
the Thirties.  Here, I'll look him up for you.  The residence is near
Washington Arch," he added, returning after a moment; "I've written the
address on this card."

Rachel thanked him and, ignoring the younger clerk who ran officiously
to open the door for them, she passed out, followed by old David.

"Now wasn't that the slickest thing ye ever saw," he exulted, "I told
ye how folks, especially the older ones, would know all about Nicholas
Hart.  We can walk there, can't we, Rachel?"

"We can walk part of the way," she responded with a sigh.

From childhood she had been taught to look upon Nicholas Hart as a
benefactor and in her dreams it had been to him that she had seen
herself appealing for advice.  Now the fact that Nicholas Hart, in case
they were fortunate enough to find him, would be an old man, entered
her mind for the first time.

Young and serious, she walked on lost in meditation, merely keeping a
restraining hand upon her grandfather, who threatened every moment to
quit her side.  His eyes under his white tufted eyebrows shone like
sapphires and an innocent and childlike delight radiated from him.
More than one jaded pedestrian turned to look after the refreshing pair
who, in that crowded Broadway, suggested a hooded violet and a slightly
withered buttercup blowing in the sun.

When they reached the space in front of the Herald building, old David
planted himself on the walk and insisted on waiting until the two
bronze figures above the clock struck the hour; but when they reached
the Farragut statue he sank down on the architectural seat.

"These pavements don't give none," he said plaintively.

"We'll just rest a minute," Rachel soothed him.

With a tender movement she placed the end of her worn scarf around his
neck and forced him to lean his head on her shoulder.  Almost at once
he fell into the light slumber which is nature's most beneficent gift
to infancy and old age.

Under the rays of the February sun the mist had disappeared and in the
air there was a springlike warmth.  Rachel, turning her head, read the
words of the inscription traced on the back of the seat; then her eyes
travelled upward to the Admiral, who, by his staunch and determined
air, seemed to convert the stone base into the deck of a vessel.  And
immediately the city ceased to terrify her and bravery rose in her in a
flood.

The Hart house had once been a cheerful mansion, but its home-like
aspect had long since given place to an air of cold and pathetic
reserve.

The knock was answered by a smartly-dressed maid with a crafty yet
heedless air.  On Rachel's inquiring for Mr. Nicholas Hart, the girl
eyed them with sharp suspicion.

"Mr. Hart don't ever see anyone," she said.

"He once showed my grandfather a great kindness," Rachel explained,
"and I thought perhaps he might remember--"

"He don't remember much," interrupted the other; "but I suppose you can
go along up," she admitted, after a further scrutiny of the pair from
whom, it was clear, there was nothing to fear.  "He remembers faces
sometimes; you'll have to climb the stairs though," she added
maliciously.

Rachel helped her grandfather up the three flights of stairs and the
servant rapped on the attic door.

"Come in," piped a voice which sounded like the note of a cracked
flute.  And old David and Rachel entered.

The attic was wide and sunny and in the recess of a gable window stood
a very little old man with a face fair and pink as a child's and with a
skull cap on the back of his white head.  He turned with one delicate
hand resting on the barrel of a microscope.  On perceiving the servant
his eyes grew round with fury.

"Get out of here!" he shrilled, and, ignoring the strangers, he flew
straight at the maid, skipping over the floor with remarkable
briskness, his coat-tails moving like the wings of a maddened bird.
The girl retreated with a laugh.

Old David presented his letter.  In the presence of his host, who was
as airy and, seemingly as fragile-lived as a figure traced upon a
window-pane of a frosty morning, old David appeared endowed with the
sturdiness of youth.  "Years ago when I was a paintin' of cars," he
began; but Nicholas Hart sent the letter, from which he had not removed
the envelope, whirling across the floor.

"Cars," he cried, "run on wheels, but look at these wings,--" and with
a finger shaking with excitement he pointed to the microscope.  "Don't
they beat all the wheels in creation?" he demanded.

In answer to his gesture, old David peeped timidly into the instrument;
then he straightened himself and the face which he turned toward the
other expressed a world of simple wonderment.

"Eh, what did I tell you?" exclaimed Nicholas exultingly.  "And look
here! and here!" he cried, placing one slide after another under the
lens.

Finding herself forgotten, Rachel left the absorbed pair and went
downstairs to wait for her grandfather.  Her glimpse of Nicholas Hart
had convinced her that no help could be expected from him.

"I told you he wasn't used to seeing folks," commented the maid who
appeared in the hall.  "He's touched here," and she indicated her head.
"He thinks I mean to destroy a book he's writing about the house-fly,
because once I mixed up his papers.  Your grandfather's all right that
way, is he?" she asked.

"Certainly he is," responded Rachel, and after a few further remarks
that elicited no reply, the servant retreated.  But from the dining
room, where she rather obviously engaged herself with some sewing, she
kept strict watch over the stranger.

Rachel, seated on a low settle, threw an indifferent glance about her.
Then, almost insensibly her attitude changed.  She was seized with an
indefinable feeling.  This house, with its purely masculine
furnishings, for some reason suggested to her mind the image of a life
darkened and repressed.  The hall, the drawing-room, the dining room
were like a succession of gloomy thoughts.  Portieres, rich in texture
but indeterminate in hue, outlined the doors with their dismal folds;
and the drawing-room chairs and armchairs were upholstered in rep of
the same shade.

In the drawing-room the mantel-piece was adorned with an ill-assorted
collection of candle-sticks, match-safes, inlaid boxes; and in the
centre was an elaborate clock of an elegant modern design, violently at
odds with the homely daguerreotype of a woman which flanked it on one
side and a vase of an ugly pattern on the other.  A nude figure,
atrociously modelled, supported the vase in the form of a flower and
might have been kissing a hand to the patient becapped countenance in
the daguerreotype; otherwise the various objects bore no closer
relation one to another than the articles on the counter in a shop.  On
the floor, before a pier-glass, was a plate on a support of twisted
wire.  Household gods were present in abundance, but chilly, silent,
they imparted no charm of life to the vastness of the apartment.

In the dining room, however, this effect was slightly modified.  It was
the room apparently where the master spent most of his time when at
home; and, as if in preparation for his arrival, a discreet fire had
been started in the grate.  Unlike the more material accessories, the
fire did all that it could to impart its own peculiar charm to the
room.  It leaped as high as possible; its beams were reflected in the
polished case of the pianola, its rays were caught by the glass doors
of the cupboard which contained the records, its gleams were imprisoned
in tangled rainbows in the cut glass and silver of the sideboard.  The
laughing light, indeed, like an impolite guest, seemed, in the absence
of the host, to occupy the table laid staidly for one, and delicately
to help itself to the wine, to the fruit, to all that the board held,
with rosy, caressing, immaterial fingers.

Toward this distant point of comparative cheer Rachel turned her eyes
with troubled interest.  To the finely organized there are in life few,
if any, absolutely unheralded events.  Now she hung over the problem of
the personality suggested by these surroundings with a tremour of
premonition--a fact which she recalled later with amazement.

Presently a latch key grated in the lock and the street door was opened
with extreme caution.  A gentleman entered wrapped in a long overcoat.
He did not immediately perceive Rachel.  Divesting himself of the coat,
he blew imaginary particles of dust from its sable collar and hung it
on the rack; then he removed his hat and disclosed a long head, bare on
top, and trimmed with a sparse fringe of hair.  This hair he proceeded
to smooth into place with quick motions of his hands; he even drew his
fingers through it.  Then he turned round.

Her scrutiny was older than his, and the prophetic, vague apprehension
had mounted, mounted.  She glanced aside; he could not.

There are moments when surprise stirs a mind like a stick thrust into a
pool.  The ordinarily clear surface of the water reveals sodden leaves,
mud, perhaps even shrinking plants; the eye usually enigmatic,
unfathomable, reveals hidden weaknesses, sins, temerities.  When he
beheld her, a young girl, seated in his hall, in Simon Hart's hollow
cheek the blood slowly mantled.  He was as clean-shaven as a monk, save
for the barely indicated line of a moustache above the narrow lips.
His nose was handsome, though pointed; his chin was cleft.  One ear was
a little higher than the other.

After a perceptible pause he passed her, bowing slightly, and proceeded
through the drawing-room with his soft tread.  His legs were short, but
his shoulders and head were imposing.  He was like a building begun by
a carpenter and finished by an architect.

In the dining room he approached the sideboard and poured some liquor
from a decanter.  He did not, however, drink the liquor, but stood
holding the glass.  And this vision of him was reflected in the dining
room mirror, caught again in the small mirror above the hall-rack and
repeated indefinitely in the bevellings.  Rachel was unfamiliar with
Piranesi's series of engravings in which the artist is represented
climbing an everlasting staircase, or this multiplied vision of Simon
Hart, continued through one room after another, until he disappeared
with his glass in the border of the last mirror, might have suggested
to her a similar allegory.  She directed toward him a second glance,
wistful, unconsciously searching, and at that moment her grandfather
descended the stairs and the servant appeared to show them out.  In the
open Rachel straightway forgot all presentiments and the meeting wore
in her memory an aspect ordinary enough.

Old David was elated.  "I tell ye, I never see anything like what he's
got up there," he cried.  "There's butterfly wings all sparklin' with
jewels, and mosquito legs--"

Rachel taking his arm, guided him toward a car.  Not an allusion to the
real object of the call fell from the old man's lips.  All memory of
their purpose had apparently escaped him on the instant of his
introduction into that sphere of ideal beauties.  His face shone like a
child's.  Looking at him Rachel smiled a little sadly.  How absolutely
irresponsible he was, and how she had erred when she had withdrawn him
from the simple duties which had acted as an anchor for his fantastic
mind.  Yet was not that which he expressed the highest poetry?  The
essence of an abstract delight was in him and shone through him,
transforming his aged frame as an elixir transforms the delicate goblet
that contains it.  His eyes blazed, his lips were wreathed in smiles,
and suddenly he no longer seemed to her an old man entering the drear
regions of second childhood, but a seer, a bard, a singing poet,
chanting a chant of Beauty, which is immortal.  And because she was
spirit of his spirit as well as flesh of his flesh, she nestled to him;
and, seated side by side, they were conveyed rapidly through the city
which resounded with the unparalleled bustle and confusion that
precedes the subsidence and comparative silence of the night.

When they descended from the elevated station and turned into the
"Street of Masts," as old David termed the alley in which they lived,
he paused, "Jest--look a there!" he said, and extended a finger.

The sun shone on the muddy pools beside the road and into the
inexpressibly weary eyes of horses.  It glinted on the hair of the
ragged children swarming in the doorways and put an added blush on the
cheeks of apples swinging by the stems at the doors of tiny fruit shops
and on stands.  It made the outlines of factory stacks indistinct,
enveloped in a haze.  The sun, shining through streaks and trails and
plumes of smoke, made the city appear to be waving flags of glory--the
glory of a dream.

"And the ships--let's go and see what they've brought in," whispered
the old man, and, in a kind of awe, the two approached the wharf where
were ranged those patient, graceful visitors from foreign ports.

Their masts towering against the sky, the ships suggested a fantastic
forest, or a chimerical orchard, for the undulations of the water
imparted to them a gentle motion, so that they seemed to be in the act
of shedding their gracious and varied fruits on the wharf.  There were
skins of mountain goats from Switzerland, and elephant tusks from
Egypt; there was oil golden with the sunlight of Italy and there were
winecasks bursting with the purple sweetness of her vineyards.  There
were bales of textile fabrics from China, there were strange-leaved
plants, with their roots bound tightly in canvas, from the isles of
Bermuda.  It seemed to Rachel that all these fruits from every land and
clime were treasures poured bounteously into the lap of a mystical
city; and the last vestige of that fear, so foreign to her nature and
so little to be harboured there in all the coming years, vanished from
her heart.  Were they not, she asked herself, in the land of
fulfilment, in the city of realized dreams?



CHAPTER II

EMILY SHORT--TOY-MAKER

When the bells of St. Joseph trembled into motion, Emily Short opened
her eyes; when those inverted cups of bronze began to move faster,
flinging their summons over the roofs, tossing it in at open windows,
emptying it into narrow courts, she arose.  When the parish father,
still half asleep, donned his robes and straightened his stole, she put
the last pin in her collar and tied on her apron.  When he began to say
mass, she began to hum a tune; and as the high-sounding Latin escaped
through the trefoiled windows, her artless warble escaped through the
attic casement, and together the two strains, the one from the heart of
the Church and the other from the heart of a woman, ascended straight
to the throne of the good God and who shall say they were not equally
acceptable?

Outwardly Emily was no friend of the church.  Its frequent services,
she declared, were disturbing, and a room on the other side of the
house with a view of the ships and the wharfage would have been a deal
more to her mind. However, it was noticeable that whenever one of these
rooms fell vacant she held her peace and abode in her attic as tightly
as a limpet in its shell when danger is toward.  It must be confessed
that she clung to the church very much as a limpet clings to its chosen
rock.  For forty years she had lived close to the church, for forty
years been keenly alive to its spirit of consolation.  Though
unencumbered with a creed, Emily was a staunch reformer and the church
represented a strong ally.

On a summer morning, by merely craning her neck, she could peer down
through an open window and learn who were present of her special
following.  If she spied the old charwoman, whose honesty was not above
suspicion, or Dan, who stole grain on the wharves, she nodded her head
with satisfaction.  It was more than possible, she considered, even if
the priest's exhortations were lost on their befuddled minds, that the
pure strong notes of the organ might reach their consciences, the
beautiful colours of the windows cause some expansion of their dwarfed
souls.  So she completed her survey like an inquiring angel, then
settled to her work of the day.

Emily trimmed hats, furnishing them for a Division Street milliner, and
earned a very comfortable livelihood; for she trimmed with an abandon,
a daring, a freedom that no other trimmer could equal.  That she might
have full scope for the expression of her individuality, she was
granted the privilege of working at home instead of under the eye of
her employer.  She was regarded as an artist, and more than once her
creations had changed the prevailing styles in that section.  If Emily,
canny soul, had her own ideas about the beauty of her hats, she kept
them to herself and it is not for me to reveal them.  It was sufficient
that the hats suited the heads they were intended to adorn.  Humming
under her breath, she curled and looped and tied and twisted with such
swiftness that the room was filled with the shimmer of satin, the
flutter of laces, the darting of wings, the bursting of flowers; and so
unremitting was her industry that by night the wire frames, delivered
to her in the morning, had been converted into veritable traps for the
captivation of men's hearts.

Working away through the long hours, all the vanity that had never
found expression in her own life, flew into her needle; she placed
feathers at an irresistible angle, sewed buckles and bows in telling
positions.  When she fared along the streets, quiet and demure,
carrying her great pile of boxes, who would have guessed that she was a
great matchmaker?  Yet such was the case.  And when she met one of her
creations, brave and flaunting as youth itself, accompanied by a male
hat, she knew that her work was succeeding.  When the hats proclaimed a
maid and a lad, her spirits rose; but when they proclaimed an errant
wife and her admirer, her spirits clouded.

For once they had left her hands with all their potency for good or
evil, Emily had no more control over her hats than a parent over the
children that have quitted the hearth.  Sometimes her pangs were so
sharp at what she witnessed that for days she trimmed with a sobriety,
a propriety that was the despair of her employers.  Indeed, she fairly
sewed a sermon into the hats until a protest of loud-voiced dismay
stayed her hand.  Thereupon the full tide of her remorse was diverted
into another channel.

All who came to her she helped, as was her custom, with money, with
food, with influence; but her lectures, always forcible, now became
inspired.  She rated them eloquently, and such an admiration did she
exhibit for virtue, and such detestation for evil, that the indigent,
the drunken, the lazy, went away not only consoled but strengthened in
the "inner man."

Emily's philosophy was comprehended in one word.  Work for brain and
hand, body and soul,--work was the world's salvation, she declared; and
right staunchly, in her own life, did she demonstrate the truth of this
theory.  Nor did her labours cease with the hours of daylight.

The setting of the sun witnessed a change in her occupation.  With the
lighting of the gas all the hats that had not been delivered, went to
roost, like an array of tropical birds, behind a curtain; and from a
corner where it had stood neglected all day, came forth her little
work-bench.  Forthwith Emily began the practice of the cunning craft
that was to her the highest of the arts.  Between the fine ardour of
the youthful Cellini, as he approached his delicate metals after an
irksome day in his father's shop, and Emily's grave exaltation as she
seated herself at the bench, there was not the difference of a jot.
The thing that we create matters nothing, the divine desire to create
is all; and whether we design a medal for a pontiff's honour or a toy
for a child's delight, the object is but a little door through which
the soul wings to freedom.

Emily had a dream, an ambition.  Her ambition was to make toys and one
day to see a whole army of them performing on the walks of the popular
uptown districts where shoppers throng.  To this end she twisted wires
with her claw-like fingers, and, as she lacked the proper tools, her
fingers were often bruised; to this end she soldered together and
hammered into shape.  And right fairly did her toys represent her, for,
disgusted with the laziness of humanity, Emily endowed her race of tiny
men and women with a perfect passion for industry.  They seemed
obsessed with the notion, and though the work that engaged them would
still be unfinished when the spring of their life ran down, was not
this the crowning fact in the history of all brave effort?  So Emily
continued to announce her theory even through her toys.

On a certain sultry morning she had barely settled herself near the
window and carefully threaded her first needle, when she dropped the
work in her lap.

"There, I haven't made the acquaintance of that child yet," she
murmured.  "Judging from the smell of cooking they have enough to eat.
But something's amiss and I must get her to tell me what it is."

Chance favoured Emily, for that evening as she was starting forth with
a load of bright-coloured bandboxes, she encountered her youthful
neighbour.  The girl was mounting the stairs languidly.  The warm
weather had sapped her vitality, already undermined by the air of the
city.  Emily nodded cheerily, and purposely let fall one of the boxes.
Rachel turned.

"Here, I'll pick it up for you," she cried; then, after a moment,
"Won't you let me help you with them?  I can do it as well as not."

Together they emerged into the lighted street.

Though she looked about her with a kind of wistful wonderment, the
sordidness of the scenes through which they passed, did not seem really
to touch Rachel.  Emily kept glancing at her and marked how her
childish passionateness was mingled with a suggestive reticence.  It
was clear that some saddening experience had already come to her.
"Poor lamb!" muttered Emily.  When a man with a lurching gait passed
too close to Rachel, Emily nudged him savagely with the boxes; and when
they turned into Division Street, not one of the crew of strident women
who solicit trade for the shops, dared to accost her young charge.  Not
a few of these poor creatures, recognizing Emily, ceased long enough in
their chant of "Nice hats! pretty hats!" to give the popular trimmer
"good-evening."

Joseph Stedenthal's "Emporium" boasted a millinery department, of which
his wife had charge, and a general merchandise and furniture department
over which he himself presided.  Everything the push-carts furnished,
he furnished a little cheaper--at least a penny cheaper; and this
stock, as proclaimed by his advertisement, was "displayed to invite the
refined mind."

Joseph Stedenthal, staunchly backed by his wife and daughter, expressed
a profound scorn for the push-carts and for all who bought and sold
therefrom, and never in the bosom of his family was it hinted that he
himself, in a not too remote past, had prospered finely as the owner of
a cart.  Now he had a dignified air of superiority, and only women who
did not go bare-headed, came to his shop, women who made some pretence
to style.  His was the "exclusive" shop of the street.

Mrs. Stedenthal was in her husband's part of the shop when Emily and
Rachel entered the "millinery section."  Emily seated herself on a high
stool and motioned Rachel to do the same.  Joseph Stedenthal's voice
came to them from a distance.  He was thundering with wrath.

"Shame upon you, talking mit the salesmen!  Go you up-stairs, I tell
you!"

A young girl with flaming cheeks flashed by the door and ascended the
stairs.

"I ain't talking to him.  I just asked him how much he sold it for,"
she screamed back.

"You were talking mit the salesmen!  All times you talk mit them.  And
that I will not--I shall not have!"

His tirade was interrupted by the teasing voice of a woman.

"There, there, Joseph, give me one little kiss!  You know how much you
lofe me."

There was an explosion of wrath and a woman, rolling in flesh, shaking
with laughter, entered the millinery shop.  She nodded to Emily, still
smiling; but in spite of the merriment that convulsed her, she examined
the hats attentively and counted the money very carefully into the
other's hand.  One of the hats she declined to pay for until the
trimming was changed.

"All times you make 'em too dark, Miss Short,--too dark, like a
hearse," she remonstrated affably; "put a little more red on it."

When Rachel, following Emily, once more gained the street, her tender
face was clouded.

Men, women, children; hats, socks, coats; candles, worn-out books;
dirt, dirt, dirt!  Men, men, men, bearded, unkempt, bedraggled,
saddened, stupid, hungry!  Under each coat, each gown was a living
heart, struggling to keep its life.  In every eye was a demand; in too
few hands were the coppers to buy--not the pears, the grapes, the
oranges that grow in Hester Street as in an orchard--but the great
black loaves of bread, round, twisted, covered with a strange kind of
seed.  Coppers were lacking to buy milk for the starving, anemic baby,
dirty-faced, struggling over the floor of the tenement; lacking for the
shoes,--thirty pennies enough--for the shoes of little Johnnie that he
might go to school: pennies lacking for the whiskey and the
beer,--pennies that must be cheated for, thieved for, murdered
for,--the all-necessary pennies for the drink.

Separated from the life about her, Rachel was yet united to it, she was
a part of it, and she drew her breath sharply.  But should she be less
brave than these others?  Emily, who divined what was passing within
her, came to a decision.

"You've been a great help with the boxes, Miss Beckett," she said
cheerfully when they reached the house and mounted the stairs; "now you
come along in for a cup of tea."

To the lonely girl the little toy-maker's room wore a grateful air of
comfort.  Emily placed her in a rocking-chair where she could see the
windows of the church; then she bustled about preparing the tea.  She
had just handed a cup to Rachel when there came a rap on the door;
before Emily could open it a pretty light-haired girl stood on the
threshold.  She was dressed in a starched waist and a plaid skirt and
the eyes under her smart hat showed red rims.

"It's all over," she cried, ignoring Rachel's presence.  "I've got to
leave my position, Miss Short.  It's all along of Tom.  The president
called me into his office to-day and said right out, either I could
stop letting his son come to see me, or I could leave.  He gave me my
choice.  And you better believe I wasn't long choosing.  I told him I'd
see whom I pleased, and if Mr. Colby liked to come and call on me
perfectly proper, like any other gentleman, I shouldn't stop him.  So I
got notice."

The girl blazed with defiance, but, in spite of her bravado, she was
once more on the brink of tears.  Her bosom rose and sank tumultuously,
her full red lips gathered into a pout, her little hands, dimpled like
an infant's, rested on her hips.  She was a child too soon imprisoned
in the rich envelope of womanhood.  On every lineament of her pretty,
pathetic, excited face potential weakness was stamped.

Emily scrutinized her for a moment in silence.  Still without
expressing an opinion, she replaced the kettle on the gas stove; then
she looked at the new-comer gravely:

"Miss Beckett, this is Miss Holden.  Have you anything else to turn to,
Betty?" she asked.

The other shook her head.  "I haven't, but I'm going to an agency
to-morrow.  I thought I'd just stop in and tell you.  No, thanks, I
won't wait for tea.  Tom's coming this very evening," she added with an
audacious smile.

When she had gone, Emily poured Rachel another cup of tea; then taking
a chair directly in front of her, she looked at her shrewdly:

"Have you got any work?"

Rachel raised an anxious face.  She had been seeking work for many
months.

"Can you do anything special?" Emily demanded.

Rachel was dubious.  "Unless it was to trim hats," she ventured.

But Emily shook her head.  "There's no chance in that line," she said
decidedly.  "Did you ever paint any?"

"No, but I could do it.  I've seen it done--that is, little things,
like roses and lighthouses."

Emily gave the other's hand two or three approving taps.  "To-morrow
I'll bring you the materials from a place I know."

The next day she appeared with a supply of silk and paints and
patterns.  Rachel's work was to paint garlands of roses on
candle-shades, but as she lacked even a rudimentary knowledge of colour
and drawing, for a time the work went ill.  Even Emily, when she
compared Rachel's copy with the pattern, was less optimistic.

"It's a knack, though, they say," she encouraged her; "and one can
learn to do most anything if one goes about it firmly enough."

A week later, Emily, in a state of repressed excitement, summoned
Rachel to her room to see a mechanical toy she had devised.  Rowing his
tiny boat over the waters of a tub was a wee figure dressed in sailor
costume.

In Emily's cheeks was a spot of crimson and in her eyes, which
ordinarily resembled little dark berries, was a peculiar brightness.

As she looked at Emily the colour even left Rachel's face with the
strength of her longing.  When she returned to the garlands, the roses
blossomed under her fingers.  "So much for work!" she thought, and
there arose in her a new and virile sensation of pride and joy.



CHAPTER III

SIMON HART TO THE RESCUE

As the summer advanced she refused to accept the dealer's verdict that
the demand for all sorts of hand-painted trifles languished in the
summer; painting was her one means of support, and with magnificent
courage, if with small practical sense, she continued to paint.  But
when she carried her work to the dealer, though he admired it, he
refused to buy it, and she came home again and again as empty of pocket
as when she had started out.

She said nothing to Emily Short about her difficulties.  Barring a
glimpse which she caught of her now and then she seldom saw the little
toy-maker, for during the hot weather Emily was unusually busy.

Emily was a famous nurse, and during the season when sickness was
rampant among the children of the slums, she put aside her toys and
hats and fought bravely for the little lives.  She scrubbed faces and
cleaned floors and administered doses of medicine, and more than once
Rachel had met her at the edge of evening, bringing home an infant in
her arms.  To see her depositing it where the breeze came in through
the open window, cooing to it, directing its wandering attention to the
sights and sounds of the church, was enough to bring tears to the eyes.
Fate, so prone to interfere with the plans of nature, wins at best but
a superficial victory when she attempts to extinguish the motherhood in
certain women.  Deny them offspring she may, but dam up the love in
their hearts, she cannot.  Fate makes spinsters, but God makes mothers.
And what is a mother but a being that looks with tenderness on all that
is weak, with delight on all that is young?  To such a being, an infant
is ever a bud of promise to which she longs to be the sun.  In the most
radiant and satisfying sense, Emily Short was a mother, and not a waif
in the quarter but knew it.  Those who could walk, flocked after her on
their little bare feet, clinging to the folds of her dress with their
grimy fingers; and those who were too small to walk, looked at her with
fixed, unwinking eyes, apparently beholding nothing, while in reality
still seeing the something beyond this nothing, their state being one
of celestial preoccupation rather than one of dormant thought.

Rachel, aware of the burden Emily carried, hesitated to add to its
weight.  If truth be told, as long as old David did not lack for
food,--and so far he had not gone hungry--as long as the rent was paid
for a week ahead, a subject more tyrannical than poverty engrossed her
thoughts.  In some women the love that has once stirred them, never
becomes extinct; it is a flame that never completely dies, a fire of
which some sparks always linger among the dead ashes.  At a breath from
that far-off source of all existence, a breath that quickens alike
grain and fruit and human hearts, this spark leaps to renewed life in
the sensitive, wounded and restless soul.

With the disingenuousness of a woman in love, with the timidity of a
little mouse, Rachel had established herself under the eaves of an
obscure garret in lower New York.  For a time, following the change,
her heart had beat more tranquilly, for now the same sky covered her
that covered that egoistic remarkable being who had once played so
important a role in her life.

But gradually the sombreness of a storm was created within her; though
when she thought of the inventor she experienced little of the chagrin
of a woman whom a lover has deserted.  Rather, what she felt was a
surprised resentment of soul.  Emil St. Ives was ordained to understand
her, and behold he had forsaken her!  With eyes as clear as a child's,
though shadowed by indefinable emotions, she often watched from the
window the pigeons circling on pointed wings over the house-tops, and
they seemed to her like a flurry of white letters tossed by a derisive
hand through the sky.

"Why had he never written her?"

At the thought her melancholy was crossed by anger; but at other
moments she remembered that it was she herself who had sent him away.
Oh, if he had only looked at her with his mind as well as his eyes!
But, enlivened continually by the astonished happy perception of the
inventor's mastery of the expedients he employs in his tests, joyful
with the joy of a creator, Emil had never really seen her.  His love
for his mother carried him backward into the past, his love for his
work carried him forward into the future, until it actually seemed to
her he had no present, no to-day.

And she reflected that under one of those million roofs he was working
on some foolish instrument for which the world, as yet, did not
recognize its own need.  The world, therefore, in all probability, was
leaving him alone, to live if he could, to starve if he must.
Meanwhile, the sound of his drilling, his hammering, above all, his
loud-voiced singing, was doubtless causing a commotion among the stars
where the important is recorded before it is heralded on this
commonplace earth.

Although she did not wish to remember the inventor, the thought of him
constantly returned and gradually she began to extract a kind of
pleasure from this involuntary analysis which she carried on for hours
together.  Then roused by some sound from the street, with the languor
which results from power held in abeyance, she would resume work on the
shades.

One heavy morning toward the end of August, Rachel made the unpleasant
discovery that there was scarcely money enough in the house to cover
the needs of the day.  To increase her dismay her grandfather, leaning
his head on his hand, refused his breakfast.  Even the newspaper with
its sensational headlines failed to arouse him.  She brought him a
glass of water, but with a weak gesture he motioned her away.
Thoroughly frightened, Rachel flung her arm about him and coaxed him to
return to his bed.  Old David grew first red, then white, but gradually
the natural look returned to his face and he fell into a sound sleep.

Instructing Nora Gage to keep a close watch over him, Rachel started
for the shop where she had formerly disposed of her wares.  She was
intoxicated with her own resolution.  Though it was the third time
within a fortnight that she had made her appearance there, she spread
the shades on the counter with confident movements; then she looked up.

The clerk with his delicate salesmen's hand swept them toward her.  "I
have told you that we have no call for these things," he said and
impatiently turned on his heel.

For some moments she seemed not to comprehend these words; presently
his voice, bland and seductive, reached her from another part of the
shop.  Then she gathered up the shades, returned them to her handbag,
and walked slowly to the door.  She made a movement to open it, but at
that instant she heard a step behind her.

When he lifted his hat, she recognized Simon Hart.  He was looking at
her attentively with his weary, enigmatic eyes.

The salesman had followed him in a little rush.

"Perhaps you'd better leave the shades after all, Miss Beckett," he
began, "this gentleman--"

"I will give the young lady the order," the other said.  And he held
the door open for Rachel.

Once in the street, she looked at her companion in surprise.  She
thought she detected in his face covert satisfaction.

"I beg your pardon, but you called to see my father several weeks
ago--Miss Beckett?  Thank you.  The maid wasn't certain of the name.
Well, Miss Beckett," he continued in an embarrassed voice, enunciating
his words with distinctness, "it happens that I have just been
requested by a relative to get her some candle shades," and in a few
words he explained the commission, even producing from his pocket a
sample of the silk from which the shades were to be made.  It was
essential that they should be finished in three days.

"And when you deliver them to Miss Burgdorf," he said, scribbling an
address on a card which he took from his pocket, "you might speak to
her in a general way of your work, if you care to do so.  For my part,"
he concluded, "I'm very glad to know of someone who does this kind of
thing."

Before he left Rachel, he inquired where she and her grandfather were
living and the odd look of gratification deepened on his face.

"I needn't have told him, I suppose," she thought regretfully as she
walked home; "he may come there."



CHAPTER IV

THE UNEXPECTED HAPPENS

A pompous-looking butler escorted Rachel through a vestibule, and
pointed her to a seat in the dining room.  It was evident from his
manner that she should have applied at the basement entrance.

A group of workmen were busy setting up an immense table.  They kept
pushing the sections together and drawing them apart.  The polished
surfaces of the wood filled the room with reflected light.  A maid who
stood by looked appealingly at the butler.

"It isn't the table that was ordered," she moaned.  She glanced at a
clock which seemed, with its fluted columns and Gothic spires, a
sardonic spirit in that rich and disordered room.  Its monotonous
tick-tock, tick-lock, scattered confusion, bewilderment, madness.

"Eleven!" she cried in tones of deepest tragedy, "and not a flower!"

Other servants entered bearing silver and glass.  A footman came in
with a great palm, and bending, with shoulders on the strain, placed it
directly in the path of a hurrying maid.  Some one dropped a goblet;
that showered into a million minute particles like shining tears.
Every movable object was shifted countless times and remained,
according to its nature, glittering, wavering, quivering for some
instants thereafter.  A bronze Narcissus exhibited his grace at an
unusual angle.  In such a time of rearrangement who has not observed
how art objects gain in beauty?

"Miss Burgdorf will see you now.  Please step this way."

Rachel followed the servant up the staircase.  The woman lifted long
strings of motley-hued beads strung in such a manner as to form a
semi-transparent curtain, passed through a sitting room and tapped on a
door.  Julia Burgdorf was seated before her dressing-table in a robe of
flowing silk.  She was having her face manipulated by a slim masseuse
in a long apron.  The faces of the two women, as they rolled their eyes
inquiringly toward the door, were exceedingly feminine.  Woman is ever
most natural when engaged in making herself artificial.

Julia Burgdorf extended her hand with an imperious gesture.  "Let me
see the shades," she cried.

She was a powerful, dark-skinned, handsome woman, with her mind in her
eyes.  Forty years of life had polished and embellished her until now
she resembled a jewel of many facets.  Her throat suggested a singing
bird's, her shoulders were beautifully curved, her hands and arms
perfect.  She scarcely glanced at Rachel but examined the shades
intently.  Then once more she yielded her face to the masseuse.

"Thank goodness, child!" she sighed, "they're lovely! and I'd just
given you up.  All these lights will be very hot, but they'll look like
a forest of tropical blossoms; that's what I wanted.  Here, give me
that purse."

She counted out thirty dollars in bills, and handed them to Rachel and
then rang for the butler.

"Has the sherbet come?--Bring this young lady some.  Here, sit down,"
she added, "you look tired."

Rachel seated herself on a brocaded divan, still holding in her fingers
a shade which had been slightly crushed and which she had repaired.
She held the shade like a flower, and her face above it was severe and
pale.

"Heavens, child! someone ought to catch your pose just as you sit now.
She doesn't need any of your cream, does she, Henley?"

The masseuse looked at Rachel and her face quaked into an hundred
little wrinkles.  These played round her eyes like forked lightning,
then instantly and miraculously disappeared, leaving the skin like an
infant's.

"It wouldn't do her any harm, Miss Burgdorf," she said, bridling.  "Our
cream is such a preservative.  Sister and I think ladies can't begin
too early."

Her voice and manner suggested lotions; and this persistent artificial
youthfulness, superadded to the tiny creature's evident acumen, was not
without charm.  In her long apron, tied behind with strings like a
pinafore, she would have passed very well for a child had it not been
for the lightning.

Julia Burgdorf rose and stretched her arms above her head, then let
them drop heavily while she stood for an instant in a listening
attitude.  Though no word was brought to her of the perturbed state of
affairs below stairs, there was knowledge of it in the very air.

"The butler has broken the last cup," she declared with conviction,
"and the cook has gone off in a rage.  I can see everything.  Oh, what
a fool I was to leave the cool country and bother with that club of
cackling women at this season of the year!  But charity before comfort.
Leave your address, please.  My cousin, Mr. Hart," she went on, with a
droll screwing of the lips "wrote me about you.  I may be able to get
you more orders."  And with these words she passed on to her bath.

Now that the work which had engaged her for three days and a night was
finished, Rachel felt disinclined to move.  She lingered over the
sherbet the butler had brought her and watched the masseuse putting
away the little delicate instruments of coquetry.  All at once it
seemed to her that through the cool silence she heard the malicious
ticking of the great clock in the dining-room, and she recognized the
timepiece as a remorseless tyrant dominating not only the servants, but
the beautiful mistress of the house.  Though instinctively conscious of
Julia Burgdorf's fear of age, Rachel was too young to experience any
real sympathy for her.  Instead, what she did feel was a keen sense of
her own triumphant youth.  A miniature of a young man stood on a
dressing-table.  "He looks like Emil," she thought; and, to quiet her
agitation she fixed her attention on the masseuse, who, with a little
silver pencil, was marking the date on an illuminated calendar.  Rachel
stared at this calendar, and the blood slowly left her cheek.

Nothing so conclusively proves the existence of an intelligent, if
somewhat perverse Fate, acting in the affairs of human beings, as these
potent stirrings of the memory, which she causes by the simplest means.
Does a woman require a bit of information?  Incidentally Fate
enlightens her at the most opportune moment.  Rachel attempted to avert
her eyes from the bit of cardboard, but the two names which were almost
lost in the design of the border and which certainly would have escaped
the casual glance of another, in a moment had evoked all the sweet and
irritating scenes of her past:

"_Benjamin Just & Richard Lawless, Art Lithographers, Lafayette
Street._"

Symbolizing all the events of her meagre romance, these names, with all
the accompanying address of which she had hitherto been ignorant, had
the effect of maturing in Rachel all that is most imperious in human
love.  How little is required to move a woman's heart.  The longing to
see Emil took possession of Rachel like a fever.

The one o'clock whistle sounded a last melancholy note, and she
inspected eagerly every figure that entered the factory.  Why had she
assumed that Emil was still employed there?  As the stream of men grew
less and presently ceased, the curve of her mouth became scornful.
"How idiotic!" she whispered.  She was turning away when a young girl
emerged from a side door over which appeared the word "_Office_."  She
came out impetuously.  The fact that she was weeping arrested Rachel's
attention.  Her slight frame shook with sobs.  She took a few steps,
then paused to extract a handkerchief from a bag she wore at her belt.
She pulled out the handkerchief and a letter fell from the reticule,
but in the excess of her grief she went on without perceiving her loss.

Rachel crossed the street and as she picked up the letter, she
involuntarily noticed its superscription.  Written carelessly on the
blue envelope was the name "Mrs. E. A. St. Ives."  She
faltered--staring at it.  She stood still and something seemed to
strike her in the breast.  Yet she was conscious that surprise had no
part in her feeling.  After a few seconds, she forced herself to walk
on.  At the next corner she overtook the girl.

"Is this yours?" she asked.  And her voice sounded strange in her ears.

The girl wheeled, showing a face disfigured with tears.  "Oh, yes," she
said, "it's mine!  Did I drop it?"

Rachel continued to look at her without stirring.  She passed her hand
once or twice across her forehead.  "You are Mrs. Emil St. Ives?"

"Why yes, I'm Mrs. St. Ives."  The other was now gazing at her with
curiosity.

So this was the girl who had helped Emil in the past, who helped him
now,--the girl he preferred to her.  Disdainful, she swept round.  As
she moved, she lifted her shoulders as if she would rid herself of
something, but the action spoke forlornness.

"Why do you ask?" questioned the other, pursuing.

Rachel paused.  "Nothing made me ask," she said, "only the name was
familiar."

She was walking on when the girl caught her arm.

"Perhaps you know my husband?" she persisted.  "Do you?"

Once more Rachel stood still.  "Yes I know him--slightly."

"I knew you did," and a note of incipient jealousy sounded in the
other's voice.  "When did you know him?" she asked, and she fixed sharp
eyes on Rachel's face.

"It was last summer in Maine," Rachel answered.  "I took him out a few
times in a boat to make some experiments.  When I saw the name I
recognized it."  Her indifference, the sudden cold and remote
expression of her eye, which was like a thrust of the arm, deceived her
questioner.

"Oh, I see," she said, meekly.  "Was it the _depth indicator_!  Oh I
know it was," and at the mention of this instrument, she returned to
her original grievance.  "It's that _depth indicator_ that's been at
the bottom of all our troubles," she explained; "if it hadn't been for
that, Alexander would have finished the lithographing press and then
everything would have come out different.  But now Father--Oh, I can
talk to you, can't I?" she interpolated.  "I must talk to someone.
I've been treated so--you don't know!" and she began to sob again in a
helpless, childish fashion, with the unrestrained grief of a nature,
hysterical, feverish.

But one thought burned in Rachel: Emil's marriage.  Her pain, however,
was not new; she felt that she had lived through it before, for it is a
characteristic of suffering that it never comes as a novel experience
and herein it differs from joy.  The disconnected explanations of her
companion, mingled with the repeated request to be allowed to confide
in her, gradually roused Rachel.  Her eyes travelled over Annie.  She
noticed the once tasteful dress, which was now badly worn, the little
pear-shaped face with its peaked nose and babyish eyes.

She was about to reply haughtily, then, moved by Annie's beseeching
look, altered her intention.

"Yes, you can tell me if you want to," she answered softly and dully.

Involuntarily the two girls turned their steps in the direction of a
square, a triangular breathing place in this densely populated section.
They seated themselves on one of the benches and Annie poured out her
story.  But her words scarcely penetrated Rachel's brain.  She stared
at some clothing drying on a fire-escape, and it struck her that the
antics of the clothing fastened to a line were no more grotesque and
absurd than the antics of human creatures fastened to life.  Inwardly
she rocked on the wide sea of misery.

The dramatic features of her situation were not lost on Emil's wife.
As she described her life in her parent's home, contrasting it with her
present mode of existence, it was clear that Annie viewed herself in a
romantic light.  Never the less her misery was real, and more than once
she had recourse to her small damp handkerchief.

"When once we were married I felt sure Father would forgive us," she
concluded, "but he says I shall never, never come home until I leave
Alexander.  Father's terrible when he's angry.  All the same, this
isn't the first time I've been to him," she explained.  "At first he
wouldn't see me, and when he did, he wouldn't listen to a word.  He
said Alexander was utterly irresponsible and the lithographing press
and the rest of it had been as good as made over on an entirely
different principle.  But finally when I teased and teased he said if
Alexander wanted to accept the position of expert examiner with the
firm, they'd take him back at a salary.  Not a very big salary, but
still something regular.  And I was so pleased," she added, "I felt
there was a chance for him if he worked hard and didn't make trouble; I
thought he'd soon rise to something better.  But what do you think?
Alexander refused!  He roared like a madman when I told him.  He said
he wanted to do independent work, and never again would he sell his
brain, his soul, his very life-blood to my father.  And I went to the
factory this afternoon to tell Father, and though I toned down
Alexander's words and explained just how he felt as tactfully as I
could, Father not only refused to make him another offer, but he threw
open the door and pointed for me to go."  And at the memory of the
indignity, she covered her face with her hands.  "Oh, whatever is going
to become of us?" she wailed.

Rachel said nothing, and this continued silence quieted the other.
Presently with an air of finality she lifted her head.

Opening her bag she returned the handkerchief to its depths.

"But I promised to stand by Alexander and I'm going to," she said in a
low voice.  "Somehow, he makes you feel that you want to stand by him."

Still Rachel said nothing.

"I must go now," Annie cried, tipping her face back, "see, it's going
to storm, and I'm so afraid of lightning."

And indeed black, threatening clouds were coming up rapidly.

"I'd ask you to come and see us," she added as they fled from the
square, "only the place is so horrid.  You see, Alexander not only
works there, but we live there, too," she continued, while they stood
waiting for a car with the wind whipping their dresses about them.
"Alexander has a workshop, that's all he cares for, and I have a room
about three feet square; and then he has a horrid deaf and dumb
creature who helps him.  Oh, if I'd known he was going to have _him_
live with us!" and her voice broke.  "You've been so good to let me go
on in this way," she cried, as the car stopped.  "I'll tell my husband
I met you.  What name shall I say?"

But Rachel did not answer.  She merely nodded as the other, in a
tremour of fright, stepped on the car.

"You'll get caught in the rain!" Annie called after her.

Rachel smiled grimly.

The rain descended at first thin and fine as if poured through a sieve;
then it increased in volume till the gutters ran yellow torrents, till
the sordid brick buildings looked like drenched, warty frogs of a giant
growth, till the slender trees in the squares fairly bent to the
ground.  But Rachel was caught in the vortex of a storm even wilder.

It was two hours later when she slowly climbed the steps of the
tenement house.  Emily Short's voice reached her from an upper landing:

"There, don't you go looking him up again, will you, Betty?  There
ain't a man in the world worth running after."

Rachel halted and a fierce denunciatory light flamed in her eyes.  Then
she pulled herself together.

When she opened the door of the outer room Simon Hart rose to greet
her.  He felt that he had taken her by surprise and, in embarrassment,
smoothed his hair.

"It's going to clear," he said and glanced toward the window which let
into the tiny room the slowly increasing light.

Rachel swept a look in the same direction.  "Yes," she repeated,
"it's--clearing."

In the sky, visible beyond the clutter of wet roofs, appeared a strange
arrangement of gold bars, and above the bars huddled the thunder clouds
like a herd of newly-tamed animals.



CHAPTER V

SHOWING THAT SACRIFICES ARE NOT ALWAYS APPRECIATED

To cast a glance backward,--it was with a mixture of surprise, chagrin
and growing indignation, that Emil St. Ives took his way from the Maine
coast to tumultuous, brain-inspiring New York.  In the hotel at Old
Harbour he lingered over his packing, confident until the last moment,
that some word would arrive from Rachel.  She surely would not allow
him to go without seeking to effect a reconciliation.  No word came
and, once seated in the train, he stared out at the landscape with
sullen fierceness.  But there, in scraggy rocks, stumps of trees,
water, meadows, salt marshes, wind with a tang in it, gold beams poured
from rifted clouds, mist, storm, rolling fog--there was Rachel, the
girl herself.  She was dancing, scudding on ahead of the train, wrapped
in a veil.  Now he saw the gleam of her eyes; now her serious mouth!
now the curve of a wrist; now a fleeing ankle!  Remaining behind, she
yet went with him!  Deuce take it, he felt her breath on his face!

He was conscious of an immense weight of sadness in his breast, but it
lessened neither his pique nor his astonishment.  Full of mastership,
his ideas of womankind were based chiefly on the devotion accorded him
by his mother, by Annie Lawless, and, until then, by Rachel herself.
Such whole-souled devotion he accepted as his rightful due.  Therefore
Rachel's downright and uncompromising attitude astounded him.  Her
anger, when she learned that another young lady was interested in his
affairs, was justified, he admitted.  He had not been open with her.
What he could not overlook, however, was her allusion to his mother's
disappointment if his plans with the lithographers failed to
materialize.  If she had cared for him, she would have spared him that
barbed thrust which even in memory caused his nerves to tingle.  If she
had cared for him she would have prevented his going.  But she had
allowed him to go without a hope of ever seeing him again.

He began to laugh bitterly; presently lifting his long frame out of the
car seat, he went for a drink of water.  He stood with the cup in his
hand, forgetting to drink.  He could not endure that a woman should
scorn and repudiate him.  The quarrel with Rachel shook him all the
more violently, as, with his habits of mind, he was unaccustomed to
such tempests.  He returned to his seat and fixed his eyes once more on
the flying landscape.

She had shone upon him like sunlight, and passion had awakened--passion
and interest and something besides.  She had stormed at him like a
tempest and finally had mystified him with a fog, best proof of all
that hers was the womanhood for his manhood.  But did he understand?
The pebble rolling down a hill has as much comprehension of the force
that summons it--indeed it has more, for the pebble obeys the force and
Emil St. Ives did not obey.  Instead he set himself squarely about and
took his way back to New York with a smouldering eye; but a fierce,
surprised bird whose pinions had been clipped might have worn just such
a look, and he kept ruffling the feathers of his vanity, for the wings
of his egotism drooped.

Presently he produced paper and pencil, but still boiling, it was
sometime before he could control his thoughts.  Finally, he began to
sketch roughly a plan for an instrument; the next day his humiliation
had so far abated as to permit of his working steadily on the scheme;
and when he reached New York his complacency was practically restored.
On alighting from the train he found awaiting him a little eager,
flushing, paling being in the shape of a woman.

When Emil saw Annie Lawless peering at him from the midst of the crowd
on the platform, a certain new sensation, strong, sweet, but somehow
malign, sprang to life within him.  At least Annie was not indifferent
to him.  His chagrin disappeared and a desperate hardihood took its
place.  It is soothing, as most people will agree, when a golden apple
has been denied us, to have offered for our acceptance a little rosy
plum.  Is it amazing then, that Emil stood ready hand and mouth for the
plum, all the more as he reckoned its flavour, on the whole, rather
pleasant?  With his worn suit-case in one hand and his precious
_depth-indicator_ in the other, he swung down the platform, and Annie,
followed by the ungainly figure of Ding Dong, advanced to meet him.
Then Emil set down the suit-case and the _depth-indicator_ and received
Annie's timid anxious glance in his own dark orbs.  In it plunged, that
little maiden look, and the earth for Annie rocked, though for Emil it
merely oscillated very slightly,--no more than when one has taken a sip
of wine, piquant and a little heady.

Ding Dong gathered up the traps and fell submissively behind the young
couple, and Annie pressed against Emil and clung to him.  What more
natural than that, finding himself unencumbered, he should bend down
and encircle her little figure with his arm?  A rosy plum, a sip of
wine, a little bit of a woman with no wits at all and her heart in her
face, such was Annie.

As for that puzzling mid-region between mind and heart, which was the
region affected in Emil, one might as well attempt to mark out paths in
a wilderness as to set up guideposts there.  Every thought is tinged
with feeling, every feeling is sullied with thought, and the ways are
hopelessly mixed.  But it is a region which stands in no need of
description, for in the range of emotional experience, few people ken
anything beyond this vast temperate zone.  And yet they declare, at the
last, that they have lived!  Pathetic misapprehension!  Nothing is more
uncommon, more unspeakably rare, than a life actually lived.  Only a
person who is at once an intrepid explorer and an inexhaustible artist,
appreciating ever the value of extremes and of contrasts, in short a
genius on every side, is capable of life.

Though Emil had a measure of this capacity, he was hopelessly adrift in
a maze of stupidity; for men, save at exceptional moments, are such a
very small part of themselves.  So he encircled Annie with his arm and,
bringing his face close to hers, kissed her.  And Annie did not utter a
reproach.  She forgot the words that would have formed it.  She forgot
every word in her vocabulary, except one little word that all but
escaped from the hot panting region of her heart.

But she had formed a plan which she remembered.  Dragging Emil into the
waiting room, she indicated two chairs in a quiet corner.  When they
were seated, she put one little gloved hand for a moment over his and
pressed it down hard in order to hold his attention, though this
manoeuvre was not in the least necessary, for she was far from
unpleasing to look upon.  The colour kept chasing the white on her
cheek, for she was frightened by what she had to say and at a loss how
to say it; the sweet peas, pinned in a bunch on the breast of her
jacket, threatened to fly away like a bevy of butterflies with her
tumultuous breathing, and a fascinating little pulse fluttered in her
neck just above the lace of her collar, and Emil, watching it, knew
that it indicated the wild movements of her heart.

What wonder that he almost recovered his wonted spirits in the air of
adoration that breathed from these two humble people?  For Ding Dong,
with his ears like huge excrescences and his legs that seemed to bend
under the weight of his squat body so that he resembled nothing so much
as a grotesque from a cathedral niche,--Ding Dong hung on his look with
exactly as much attention as Annie.  Despite the feeling of sadness
that lurked far down in the depths of his being, Emil perceived afresh
that it was a very good sort of world and that New York was a
marvellous city.  And his egotism began to spread its wings and his
eyes to flash good humouredly.  Being now well beyond the larva stage,
admiration was necessary to him,--it was an air without which he was
unable to exist.

"But how did you know that I would come on this train?" he asked
gently; and, clasping his hands about his knees, he stared at Annie
with a peculiar concentrated interest.

She looked up at him with a faint suggestion of reproach.  "I didn't
know; though I was prepared to wait until you did come," she said.
"The fact is, Alexander," she continued, "what Father has done is
shameful.  It isn't right, and as he's my father, it's only just--well,
I hope you won't take it wrong--but I have a little money which was
left me by an aunt to do with just as I choose.  I've got it all here,
see, in this bag," and she opened the drawstrings.  "It isn't much,
only a thousand dollars, but I thought perhaps--perhaps you would take
it until you could invent something."

To save his life Emil could not prevent the joy that flashed in his
eyes.  To be free to invent, even for a brief space!  It was an
unexpected glimpse straight into Paradise.  He peeped in--just one
peep; then greatly to his credit, considering how little of an ordinary
man he was and how much of a genius,--who resembles a bird of heaven in
his freedom from a sense of obligations,--he shut the door on the
Paradise forcibly.

He bent forward and took both of Annie's hands in his.  Slowly, very
slowly, he shook his head.

"Oh, please!" she supplicated, and her face puckered.  As she looked
straight into his eyes with her own, he saw them suffuse with tears.
The sight of these tears perturbed him so that he was no longer master
of himself.

"But see here, I can't!" he said, and the blood darkened his cheek, "I
can't take money from you; you're mad!"

"Oh, if that's the way you consider me--just like a stranger!"  And
Annie turned sharply aside and buried her face in a scrap of a
handkerchief from which ascended an odour of subtle feminine appeal.

In their excitement both had risen and Emil spread his massive bulk to
screen her distress from the few people who were seated in the
waiting-room.  Never had he been driven into such a net by his own
emotions.

"See here," he cried, bending over her and breathing the words into her
ear, "I consider you my only friend"; and his ardour was augmented by
his remembrance of Rachel.

This was devotion, this!

"Friend?" she repeated, lifting her head and gazing at him through her
tears.  "I'm more than that.  There isn't anything I wouldn't do for
you, and I thought--I thought--"

For an instant Emil saw her judicially.  "So that's it?" he reflected,
but the next instant the male in him was completely glamoured.

For the last time some positive seduction in Annie overcame him.  Love
will polish even a plain woman to something approaching brilliancy, and
Annie was by no means plain.  Her hair gave out a delicate odour; the
pupils of her eyes, usually small, spilled their black over the blue of
the irises; her little mouth emitted a whole troop of sighs; the stuff
of her waist crackled, as if, though it fitted her body, it compressed
her heart.  In truth, that which was the heart in her, the soul in her,
was striving mightily to come to him, and being a man he did not refuse
it.

"Do--do you mean that you would marry me?" he hazarded unsteadily,
"without prospects--nothing?  You can see for yourself, everything I
put my hand to turns out wrong," he added argumentatively.

She nodded.  A look of ecstasy overspread her face.

What he experienced chiefly was a profound astonishment.

He moved back a step in order to study her.  That she felt in this way
toward him was no news, but that she was ready to take the decisive
step now, when his whole outlook was altered....  In his gaze there
grew a peculiar gentleness and simplicity.

"Yes, but what about your father, what will he say?" he inquired,
dallying dreamily with the consideration.

"Father, oh, he'll bluster at first, but he'll forgive us.  I know him.
Besides, hasn't he stolen your invention?"

"So it's only fair I should steal his daughter; is that it?"  This
question, like the other, was an idle playing with the subject, as
though, for the moment, his will went in leash to hers.

Annie lifted her face with a laugh which stirred him strangely.  Her
eyes rested questioningly upon him and he was conscious of an ambiguous
emotion of pleasure and confusion.  He had a desire to say tender words
to her, to touch her hair; none the less he sighed heavily.

And Annie all at once took his attitude for granted.  Timid, yet with
that potency of appeal which belongs often to the weakest women, she
clasped his hand, glancing up at him in such a way that he felt all
resistance expiring within him.

"That poor fellow over there," she went on happily after a moment,
during which she pressed his fingers once or twice, "every time I'd go
to the factory, he'd make the strangest signs, and at first I couldn't
understand what he wanted.  But after a little, I made out that he was
asking about you.  And when Father got in that new man to work on your
machine, Ding Dong, as they call him, just went wild and raged.  He
tried to stand guard over the machine and he locked the door of your
shop.  But finally they got in and he acted so, they had to get rid of
him."

Emil, who had been admiring the vivacity of her face, caught only the
last words of this speech.

"Ding Dong you say!  Yes, a fine fellow," he agreed with a sparkling
smile.

"Well, between us we've got everything planned," Annie continued.
"We've found a little apartment--"

He started.

"Where you can work and invent," she added in a voice scarcely above a
whisper.

"Invent," he murmured, for she sidled and slunk closer to him so that
with difficulty he resisted an impulse to seize her to his breast.

Explain it who can: in one short hour all the judgments of this man
were reversed.  Though he was influenced by selfish motives, he did not
recognize them.  Annie was his friend, the one most necessary to him
and to whom he was necessary.  It was really downright amazing how much
she cared for him, and seeing her through a mist of gratitude which he
mistook for love, he compared her to the cold Rachel to the latter's
disadvantage.  In love consciously with neither the one nor the other
of these two women and only obscurely aware that his feeling for Rachel
was capable of assuming the character of a dominating passion, he was
really concerned in but one object, his work.  He therefore yielded
himself readily to gratified vanity, egotism, enthralled senses, those
potent agents for the smothering of the masculine will.

They were on their way to the office of the Mayor when abruptly Emil
ordered the driver of the cab to halt, while he questioned Annie
anxiously.  Did she think it wise--what they were doing?  Had she
sufficiently considered?

For answer she put her hands on his shoulders and drew his head to her
breast so vehemently that he had difficulty in breathing.

After that he spoke no more until their destination was reached, but
stared out intently at the people, who passed in carriages and on foot,
with a smile in which there was an uneasy melancholy.


A week later any scales he might have had over his eyes had vanished.
Memories of Rachel obtruded themselves and he turned from them with
stifled sighs.  He was ill at ease and his conscience troubled him.  He
was penitent before Annie and redoubled his caresses.  But she was not
essential to him, and as time went on he buried himself in his work.

In the choice of the apartment the young girl betrayed the fundamental
practicality of her nature.  The rooms were inexpensive and at the same
time attractive and homelike; but at the end of a month, Emil
discovered a sky-lighted loft in the lower part of the city into which
he wished to move.  The place would be a more convenient one for his
work.  Thither Ding Dong, in the capacity of assistant to the inventor,
accompanied the pair.  With him he brought the monkey Lulu.

Largely because of his affection for her, though partly because of his
hatred of his former employers on whom he thought absurdly to revenge
himself, Ding Dong had stolen the little creature from the factory.  He
made her a cage, which she seldom occupied, her favourite station being
the sill of the window where Emil had his work-bench.  There she
crouched among the tools with her little, worried, half-human face
turned to the inventor, and now and then she reached out a black hand
and laid it questioningly on his sleeve.  Seeing his pet thus safely
cared for, Ding Dong was free to spend himself in the service of his
new master.  He ran errands, bustled about in a flurry of often useless
activity, and even fitted up the tiny room set apart for Annie.  At
first the young wife agreed to everything.

Crushed by a stormy interview with her father in which he had forbidden
her to cross his threshold, in the early days of her marriage Annie
accepted the privations of her new mode of life without a word.  She
thought to endear herself to her husband.  But Emil, far from
sympathizing with her position, was honestly unconscious of it.
Carried away by the interest of his work, he forgot her.  When made
aware of her, bitterness filled his soul.  He felt himself guilty
toward her.  Never the less, her tears, her letters to her mother,
which he was forced to read and approve, her constant efforts on his
behalf with her father, above all, her insistence that he go back and
accept the situation of expert examiner, which was finally grudgingly
offered him,--all this irked him in the extreme.

"Go back there--after the way he's treated me?" he cried,--"you ask it?"

"I thought--I thought--" murmured Annie, "we are very miserable."

"Well?"  His significant tone seemed to imply, "Who's to blame?"

He now perceived clearly that she hampered him, that he could have got
on very much better without her.

"You are not interested in my work," he cried, blaming her; "a woman is
always like that.  No detachment with them is possible.  I ought to
have understood this."

Then Annie broke down, and contrition overcame him.  He took her in his
arms where she cuddled like a little kitten.

"I'm no one for you," he whispered, while a fierce sigh rent him.

But convinced that he suffered by the arrangement more than she did, he
cherished a grudge against her because she interfered with him.
Fearing to disquiet his mother, he allowed several months to pass
before he wrote to her of his marriage.  Viewing it coldly, he felt
much cause for shame in the situation.

Quarrels were constant, and as the sight of Annie disquieted him, he
shut himself off from her more and more.  He worked, slept and ate in
his shop, and Annie inhabited her lonely little room, weeping and
staring out over the house-tops in acute disgust.  As Emil had said,
devotion to an abstract ideal was impossible to her and she was jealous
now of his work as of a rival, so that they had no topic about which
they could talk when together.  Everything furnished a subject for
dispute, even Ding Dong and his pet.  Ding Dong disgusted her by his
outlandish appearance, and the monkey, she declared, made her nervous.

The day following her meeting with Rachel, Annie spoke of the encounter.

"I met someone you know yesterday," she said; "a girl from Maine."

Wrinkling up his brow, Emil paused in his work.

Something in his expression excited and angered his wife.

"Well," she cried sharply, "do you remember her?  What's her name?"

But Emil, despite his desire to know more, resumed his work without
answering, and the eyes he cast down held the look of a child that
dimly perceives in its suffering the result of its own act.



CHAPTER VI

DESPAIR AND DESOLATION

As she stood in the attic room with its sloping roof and dormer
windows, her little dark head almost touched the ceiling.  Old David
surveyed her with pride; then cast a glance at Simon Hart.  The driving
rain had modelled the stuff of her dress to her arms and shoulders in
winding folds.  As she lifted her hands to remove her hat, from which
drooped the straight lines of a veil, she resembled a Tanagra figurine.
But there was no antique serenity in her expression.

Convinced that she was disconcerted by his presence, Simon Hart began
to explain that he had brought her another order for candle shades.
Then, as her lack of sophistication grew upon him, he ended by inviting
her and her grandfather to dine with him.

But Rachel looked at him with vague, unseeing eyes, until David nudged
her elbow.

"We'll like to go very much, won't we, Rachel?" he said in a voice
which quavered with delight.

Then she understood and forced a smile to her lips.

"But don't ye forgit to say something to Miss Short, will ye?" the old
man reminded her.  "You see," he added, turning to the visitor, "Miss
Short expected to go somewhere with us to-night for a little
celebration, because of that order--the first one you got, Rachel--and
it's most kind of you, too, to take such an interest."

The other waved these last words aside.  "Now about this celebration,"
he said, "what do you say to asking Miss Short to go with us?"

Again Rachel forced herself to express pleasure.

When Simon Hart went out to call a carriage, she entered the inner room.

After ridding herself of her wet dress, she sat down before the cracked
looking-glass and began arranging her hair.  But almost immediately she
folded her arms on the bureau, bowed her head upon them and fell to
weeping.  In the depths of her soul she felt that nothing could alter
her despair.  Henceforth the knowledge of Emil's marriage would lodge
there like a rock heaved into the midst of a stream, and the current of
her life would eddy around it.  The approach of Nora Gage caused her to
lift her face and continue coiling her hair.

Simon Hart was not a worldly man.  He confined himself closely to the
supervision of his business--the manufacture and sale of jewellery.  At
night he returned to his austere house in Washington Square.  Of a
painfully reticent disposition, he made few friends, his fastidious and
slightly ironical manner effectually cutting him off from companionship.

The only beings who played any sustained part in his life were the
gaunt mysterious female who served his meals and arranged his
drawing-room as she chose, his old father who moved optical instruments
over the floor of the attic; and, at the shop, Victor Mudge, who
designed special settings for gems.  For Victor Mudge, Simon
entertained a particular regard, though he felt sensitively that the
goldsmith disapproved of him.  The truth was, these two friendless
men,--the one living in his well-nigh empty house, the other in his
hall bedroom,--criticized each the other's lonely condition.

The diversion created in the jeweller's life by the persons just named
was no more than the gnawing of a bevy of mice in an otherwise quiet
cellar.  Painfully aware of this, he attempted to enrich his existence
by extending the scope of his intellectual pursuits.  He took up the
study of social economics and pursued it diligently.  In the same way,
during the season, he forced himself to attend the opera with
conscientious regularity, although he had no real musical taste and
much that he saw and heard was in reality distasteful to him.  He felt
a constant need to check in himself a tendency to indulge feelings that
were deeper than those apparently experienced by other men.

Only once had a person penetrated his reserve.  Several years before he
had made the acquaintance of a scholarly lady who brought to his shop
for suitable setting an Egyptian scarab.  In the course of filling this
simple order Simon had called upon her several times.  Subsequent
developments, however, had revealed the fact that the scholarly lady
had a husband, and the acquaintance had languished; though for some
time after the incident he had kept her photograph on his pianola where
he had been in the habit of studying it while he had pedalled evenly.
This photograph had fallen behind a stationary bookcase, and at present
the one brightness in his life was the gleam of the gold and the jewels
in his shop.

Now he stood helpless at the corner of the street.  Trusting to her
unique charm to atone for any discrepancy in her dress, he would have
risked Rachel's appearance in one of the more fashionable restaurants.
But the others?  He shook his head.

More keenly sensitive to observation than a man of wider social
experience, he shrank from the attention the group would be likely to
attract.  Presently he came to a decision.  He would take his guests to
a restaurant in the vicinity of his house, where he made a practice of
dining when the weather was particularly oppressive.

As they quitted the tenement rooms, Nora Gage padded softly out on the
landing in her heelless slippers.  Her enormous bust undulated more
than usual and her hands at her waist disappeared beneath overhanging
folds of fat.  "Well, I hope you'll have something good to eat," she
remarked meaningly.  Rachel, her head high, ignored these words; but
old David nodded with smiles and gestures toward his pocket.

Like a child he expressed his delight openly.  His white locks moved in
the air, fine as cobwebs, and his face was wreathed in continual smiles
which prolonged the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes and deepened
the lines about his mouth to quivering crescents of laughter defining
the rosy hillocks of his cheeks.  With a shaking finger he pointed out
the sights in the streets to Emily, who nodded decorously the plumes of
her elaborately-trimmed hat.  The hat was destined for one of Mrs.
Stedenthal's customers, but Emily had borrowed it for the evening.  The
very novelty of the situation diverted Rachel; she became aware of a
dual consciousness--a self that suffered and a self that was vaguely
amused.

In the restaurant the waiter uncorked a bottle of champagne and Simon
begged the young girl to taste it.  She lifted it to her lips, then
played with the glass.

Simon watched the slim thumb and finger that encircled the fragile stem
of crystal.  With unostentatious movements he repeatedly filled his own
glass.  Occasionally he ventured to lift a glance to Rachel's face.

She wore a skirt of dark silk, and a little flowered scarf over a waist
of sheer muslin.  The brim of her drooping hat, whenever she leaned
forward, cast its shadow over her shoulders and her scarcely-indicated
breast.  When she straightened up, however, it was as if a cloud lifted
and revealed the glow of her cheeks, the line of her lips, the depths
of her eyes where some gloomy thought constantly hovered; for, strive
as she would, summoning to her aid all her furious pride, she could not
conceal the misery and despair that were consuming her heart.  From her
round wrists her sleeves fell back in ample folds and the pale yellow
of her scarf repeated the colour of the champagne.

As the dinner progressed Simon refrained more and more from looking at
her.  He did not ask himself what was troubling this young girl, he did
not wish to know; perhaps he shrank from anything so absolutely
youthful as her despair.  On the other hand, the costume she wore, in
that it was probably of her own fashioning, filled him with a kind of
tenderness.  Many trifling peculiarities of people, scarcely noticeable
movements, awakened in him this feeling.  It was a kind of pitifulness
in his nature, though he had rarely been moved to the same degree by so
slight a detail.

Life takes on to most men, who by middle age have attained any measure
of success, the character of a long meal of many courses.  But to Simon
Hart it seemed like the meal which the traveller takes in a gloomy way
station.  Now Rachel appealed to him like the unexpected nuts of a
dessert, the unlooked for "riddle in ribbons," for he was keen enough
to suspect the riddle hidden in this little smooth-skinned girl.

The thoughts engendered in Emily Short, as she quietly observed the
pair, were as foreign to her mind as the food was to her palate.  In
the pauses between the courses she wove a shining romance about Rachel
and her companion and finally installed them in a castle similar in
architecture to that which decorated the china of the service.  Old
David, remembering Nora, occupied the moments while the waiter's back
was turned, in secreting various tidbits in the pocket of his coat.  So
slyly did he do this that no one observed his manoeuvres, and he tucked
away crackers, olives and finally a portion of ice-cream which was
served in a little box.

Meanwhile the waiters, bearing steaming viands, hurried to and fro.
They lifted silver dish covers, which reflected the light, and revealed
the red claws of lobsters surrounded by green garnishings, and fowls
steaming in gravy.  Leaning between the shoulders of the diners, they
poured out water and wine; and every moment, as they skilfully avoided
trampling the dresses of the ladies, which flowed in rippling folds
around their chairs, or cleared with heavy platters balanced on their
hands the black shoulders of the men,--they cried, "Your pardon,
madam!--In just a moment, sir!" and nothing could equal their dexterity
or the softness of their cat-like tread.  Through the restaurant
swelled the penetrating, complicated music of the orchestra.  At one
moment a shower of gay notes seemed to be falling, falling everywhere,
and the people broke in upon it with the loud clapping of hands.  At
another moment waves of melody, unnoticed, mounted insidiously like a
tide and finally bore with them, like spume and tangled seaweed,
something of the emotion from each overcharged heart.

Turning her head aside, Rachel felt on her cheek the cool freshness of
the night which entered over some plants in a window-box.  For moments
together as she listened, it seemed to her that her misery was
expressed poignantly by the music.  Then as the _motif_ altered,
insensibly her mood changed.  She thought of André from whom she had
received a letter the week before.  Captain Daniels, whose animosity
toward the lad increased with the years, in a fit of drunken temper had
broken André's fiddle.  She resolved, as soon as she could, to send him
another.  Then Zarah Patch sent word that Buttercup, the cow he had
purchased from David, mistaking the moaning of the fog bell for the
crying of her calf, had floundered into the bay and been drowned.
"Poor Buttercup!" she thought; then--"Poor André!"  And, across the
miles of space that separated them, she seemed to hear again the
breathless words in which the boy had told her of his love.

The orchestra was now executing a fantasy composed entirely of runs
with the repetition of one bass note, and suddenly, without warning,
her agony was once more upon her.  Once more, distraught, breathless,
she held that horrible envelope in her hand;--she read its
superscription.  The men in the orchestra, puffing at their horns,
fingering their flutes, drawing their fiddle bows, were executing that
final wild movement, not on their instruments, but on her heart.

She looked up and encountered Simon Hart's eyes.  Instantly averting
his gaze, he proposed that they leave the restaurant; when they were
outside, he suggested that they walk through the square which perfumed
the air with the odour of its great trees.  But no sooner had they
entered the square, than old David evinced a distaste for locomotion.

"I don't feel jest like myself somehow," he confided in a whisper to
Emily Short.  "Let's jest sit down here a minute."  And the little
toy-maker, who had her own reasons for wishing to leave the couple to
themselves, readily complied.

Simon and Rachel walked on.  At last, they also seated themselves on
one of the benches.  It was after ten o'clock and the square was
deserted.  The moon, in its first quarter, caused Washington arch to
throw a black shadow athwart the path; and now and again the swaying
branches of the trees brought out traceries of leaves on Rachel's white
shoulders and on her sleeves.  With his arms folded across his knees so
that his head was on a level with hers, Simon began telling her about a
recently published history of jewels that partly covered the field of a
work he had long been engaged upon.  As he spoke she noticed that since
dinner his eyes had lost something of then weary look and that his
nervousness had abated.  He spoke with the masculine deliberation which
women ordinarily find so irritating, but which, owing to the state of
her nerves, calmed Rachel.

"However, my book," he explained, "deals almost exclusively with the
legends connected with jewels.  My aim is first and foremost, to
restore to them their lost poetical significance.  Plato, for instance,
and the Egyptians, for that matter, believed that they were veritable
beings produced by a sort of fermentation which was the result of a
vivifying spirit descending from the stars.  Look up there," he
exclaimed, pointing to the sky, "then look at this, and tell me if it
doesn't resemble star-gold condensed into a transparent mass;" and from
his finger he drew a ring and placed it in her palm.

She was more and more comforted.  As he enlarged on the theme, which
was evidently a favourite one with him, she watched the gyrations of
the fountain.  Outlined to her vision, she beheld a life which seemed
to her infinitely more tranquil than her own.

On their return to the Street of Masts, Emily assisted old David up the
stairs and Rachel remained in the doorway waiting for Simon Hart to
finish an interminable sentence.  Weighty, carefully worded, laborious,
his peroration, for the most part, fell on deaf ears.  Never the less
she was conscious of an involuntary attraction to him.  When at last he
extended his hand, she felt that he was stirred by some emotion he
wished to conceal.

"Now that we have celebrated our newly-formed friendship," he said with
an attempt at gallantry, "I shall expect you to call upon me should any
matter come up in which I can serve you.  Will you promise?"

The kindness was unexpected, her state forlorn.  Her lips worked
sensitively.  "Yes," she said.

He lifted her hand to his lips; at once something penetrating and
tender enveloped them.

At that moment the voice of Emily Short reached them from the upper
landing.  "Miss Beckett--Rachel!" she called, "come--come right up
here!  Your grandfather--something's wrong!"

In the room under the roof the flaring gas showed old David half
sitting, half lying upon the couch.

Rachel darted to him.  "Grandfather--what is it?" she shrieked; and
winding her arms about him, she tried to centre his wild and wandering
glances on herself.

But moaning incessantly, incoherently, he pushed her away with one hand
while clutching her tightly with the other.  Constantly his eyes
questioned her--only to reject all help that she or any other could
give him.

To her tortured sense it seemed an eternity before those half-human
cries of his were silenced.  In reality scarcely ten minutes elapsed
before Simon Hart returned with a doctor.

Without hesitation the physician pronounced old David's attack a
paralytic shock affecting both the lower limbs, though the disease, he
said, might shift at anytime.

When they removed the old man's clothing, from the pocket of his coat
rolled a few nuts and a little box of half-melted ice-cream.



CHAPTER VII

STOP--LOOK--LISTEN

Old David was going to die.  The sunshine knew it and danced over him
caressingly, touching his hands, his face, his hair each day, as if for
the last time.  It spilled pretty pools of gold on the floor and
painted the walls with golden patches.  And the plants at the window
ledge knew it, two primroses and a pot of yellow jonquils, and for that
reason they bloomed constantly, perfuming the air with a delicate
freshness.

Old David was going to die, but because those who watched him practised
an art of cheerful concealment, it was a very happy time for him, quite
the happiest time he had known since boyhood.

Propped up in bed, he watched all that went on about him, and he looked
at the flowers in the window.  He knew who had sent the flowers and,
when he appeared, Simon Hart had to bear the scrutiny of a pair of old
eyes that surveyed him unwaveringly from the pillow.  When Rachel
brought the visitor around to the bedside, a look of sly satisfaction
radiated from the old man's features.  Interest and an eager zest for
life still flourished in him; though Death held him hand and foot he
was too true a poet to heed the approach of so material a guest.  The
last days of his life were enveloped in ineffable peace.  Wrapped about
in comforts, he had no knowledge of the tragedy of Rachel's existence,
but rested in the serene belief that Heaven itself provided him with
doctors, medicines, luxuries.  His poor darkened brain worked with
incredible slowness, and it was touching to behold him enjoying a
dainty meal that Rachel had contrived to provide for him.  Smiling and
fresh, with a napkin tucked under his chin, he would point out such
food on the tray as appealed to his fancy; then she would lift it to
his lips, feeding him as one feeds a bird.  And often the poor child's
face was far paler than his and her hands trembled with hunger.

Only her absorbing, desperate love for him sustained her.  For this
grandfather, who in the enthusiasm of his heart was so like a little
child, Rachel willingly would have laid down her life.  No sacrifice
was beyond her; and as the old man's soul was enveloped in that
atmosphere of rare and delicate perceptions that heralds the final
liberation, her soul, through its love, was permitted entrance into the
same region of mysterious joys; so that up to the last moment they bore
each other company.

Sometimes, troubled by the thickness of his speech, old David looked at
his young companion with piteous eyes; but the condition was the result
of weakness, she assured him; later the words would come.  To amuse him
she searched the papers for humorous anecdotes and even invented funny
little stories of her own.  Then how they laughed together!  The room
reëchoed with such merry peals it seemed Death took the hint and kept
at a distance.  Indeed, the old man entering that world of which we
know nothing, and the young girl surrounded by the evils of this, by
their very innocence and helplessness held at bay all the menacing
powers of darkness, and under that attic roof, in the midst of a sordid
city, they lived a life more profound and universal than its thousands
of passionate men and women thronging the streets below.

When Simon Hart called, as he did every evening, it seemed to him that
all the needs of the sick man were met.  He sent flowers and fruit for
old David, but a sense of delicacy kept him from offering Rachel
financial assistance.  Though he had disliked particularly asking a
favour of his cousin, Julia Burgdorf, through her influence he was able
to obtain for the young girl piece-work in an establishment that made a
specialty of hand-painted trifles.  This appealed to him as the most
considerate way of helping her.  Little did he realize that nursing
left Rachel scant opportunity for the painting which required
concentration.  But by forcing herself to do without rest and almost
without food, by employing every spare moment in doing all sorts of
simple, ill-paid work that could be carried on at home, such as the
directing of circulars and envelopes, mending and sewing for the
neighbours, the impossible thing was accomplished.  In quarters,
half-dollars, dollars, the necessary money was swept together to cover
the needs of the sick man.  It was one of those prodigious, superhuman
struggles constantly attempted by love.  But of this struggle, though
he came daily to the apartment, Simon Hart realized little.  With the
instinctive dread that characterizes persons of supersensitive nature,
he had trained himself not to see to the bottom of things, not to
investigate hearts too deeply.  While watching Rachel with melancholy,
ambiguous eyes, he was practically blind to the difficulty of her
situation.

His sense of loneliness, always painful, was aggravated now, and in her
presence he was tormented by an inexpressible need of intimate
companionship.  He could not bear to have her leave the room; he was
jealous of the doctor and Emily Short, since they took something of her
from him.  And how little he received!--a word when he came and when he
left and now and then a smile.  When Rachel cast on him a smile from
swiftly-parted tremulous lips, a smile that vanished ere it had scarce
taken form, Simon's restlessness increased and his desire for affection
became a feverish demand.  Fortunate for her that it was himself rather
than another who saw her placed as she was.  And reflecting that many a
man of the ravening-wolf type, in his place would have sought to take
advantage of her poverty, of her unprotected state, he grew hot with
anger.  But she stood small chance of meeting such a one, and after all
Emily Short was a defence.  Then the idea of marrying the girl
presented itself, looming mirage-like on the horizon of his mind, and
he felt that he was becoming ridiculous.  He saw himself with the eyes
of that world in which Julia Burgdorf and his business associates were
the chief figures.  The victim of a little unknown waif--not merely her
victim, her slave.  In order to break the spell he forbade himself to
go to see her, and, that he might keep to the resolution, he started
without warning on a trip to Bermuda.

At first Nora Gage, influenced by shrewd calculations, acted in an
unexpected fashion.  During the fortnight that old David lay between
life and death, Nora each day doled out a little money to Rachel.  But
later, as the invalid began to improve, she stole into his room a
hundred times a day and noted the gathering life in his face with eyes
as watchful as a snake's.  Sometimes she even extended a hand and
tested his pulse.  Devotion to comfort was the ruling motive of Nora's
life, and, foreseeing a future wherein comfort was threatened, fear
seized upon her very vitals; and an agitation spread outward through
the whole bulk of her flesh.  Nor was her situation undeserving of
sympathy.  In vain Emily Short promised to reimburse her for all
expenditures on old David's account when the fall trade in hats should
open; Nora was sceptical of the security, as she was sceptical,
finally, of Simon Hart's intentions.

"He don't mean a thing, I'm sure of it," she muttered.  "The idea of
thinking he'd marry her!  I've been a fool."  And Nora sighed heavily
as the alluring vision of the permanent home she had intended to demand
in Simon Hart's house, in return for the assistance she had rendered
old David, vanished in thin air.

Her generosity came abruptly to an end.  The doctor might order new
medicines and old David, with the innocent egotism of the sick, demand
the comforts to which he had become accustomed, Nora was unmoved.
Gloating, she waited for Rachel to make an appeal.  But the other,
aware of the nature with which she had to deal, was silent.

"Proud--proud to the end!  Well, let her starve," Nora soliloquized,
and took herself to the public parks,--anywhere to escape the
atmosphere of gloom and terror that for her pervaded the apartment.

Simon Hart's continued absence awoke in Rachel a troubled amazement,
the more, as her grandfather constantly asked for him and she had to
invent excuses for his non-appearance; but she had little time for
reflection as the household in the Street of Masts was now put to sad
shifts.  Poor folk are ever separated from want by the meagrest of
protections.  They are like soldiers cowering behind a crumbling
embankment.  Time, bringing the ever recurrent needs, is their
indefatigable enemy, and when these needs are multiplied, as in
sickness, with small chance for patching the wall, they can ill
withstand the siege.  Finally there came an evening when Emily Short,
with a look of shame on her open countenance, repaired to a certain
shop around the corner, and thereafter no day passed when old David
lacked for any comfort, as no day passed when some article was not
missing from the bare little rooms.

"Let me go just this once," Rachel besought one evening early in
February, confronting the toy-maker, who was preparing to go out.  "If
you wait to go around there--you know where I mean--you'll be late at
Madame Stedenthal's.  You know she said eight o'clock; and you wouldn't
want to miss getting that order."

"But I don't like to have you," Emily protested.

Rachel motioned toward the room: "Run along.  Grandfather's asleep;
I'll slip out and be back before he 'wakes." ...

She quitted the shop, pressing a hand to her burning cheeks.  Then,
thrilled by the consciousness of the silver in her pocket, she hurried
forward.  She had gone only a few steps when someone touched her arm.
She turned and saw Simon Hart.

Manifestly he had been following her: on his face was stamped a look of
commiseration and embarrassment.

At once her old imperious pride was alive.  Shrinking fiercely from the
observation and sympathy of this man, she spoke curtly:

"I'm very glad to have met you.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'll say
good-night; Grandfather is alone."

She swung round so that he could no longer see her deeply wounded face;
he saw only her hat and part of her veil and her long shabby cloak.

"Miss Beckett--Rachel!" he exclaimed, in a note of despairing appeal.
"May I not go up to see your grandfather?  I have been away--I have
just returned.  I did not wait; I was so anxious," he concluded.  And
he looked anxious.

She paused.  After all, her grandfather would be pleased to see him.
Already her short-lived resentment that he had witnessed her
humiliation was merged in bodily languor.

They mounted the stairs and as he saw how she clung to the railing with
her hand, Simon Hart was seized afresh with surprise and horror.  The
pencilings of fatigue under her eyes accentuated her pallor and this
morbid diminution in her beauty, lent her a poignant charm.  She laid a
hand on the door.

Amazed at the change in the dismantled room, which was no less than the
change in her, he stood rooted to the threshold.  Then he dropped his
head in his hands.

Rachel, who suffered a faint return of embarrassment, refrained from
looking at him.

"There," she said nervously, laying aside her wraps, "now I'll go and
see if Grandfather's awake."

He was beside her: "Rachel, why--why didn't you let me know?"

"Let you know what?" and she stood back against the wall, striving to
repell him with her eyes.

"That you were in want--in need.  You could have written--" he
floundered helplessly; then swept on almost in tears--"Didn't you know
that I would help you gladly--thankfully?  Oh where were my eyes!  And
you have been struggling!--Oh God, forgive me."  He drew her bended
wrist against his breast, and the shudders of his frame went to hers.

She tried to withdraw the hand.  "I don't understand."

"So thin--" he continued, perusing her face, "so thin; almost starved.
And no one to help you--not anyone.  And I left you; I didn't even
write--"

He did not finish the sentence.  He was on his knees, kissing the hem
of her dress.

She stared at him in a trance of amazement and at that moment a voice
sounded from the room across the passage.

"Rachel, be that ye?  Why don't ye come in here?"

Simon Hart rose to his feet.  "Let me help you, Rachel."

She moved her lips, though no sound passed them.  He threw his hands on
her shoulders and his eyes into the depths of hers.  "I ask nothing
that you cannot give," he said with mournful softness.  "I know that
you do not--love me--but later, if you became my wife--"

She shook her head, trying to twist free.

"If you were my future wife," he amended, "I could give your
grandfather every care."

He had struck the right note.

Perceiving it, desperately he followed up his advantage.  Later he
would feel shame, but not now with her frightened breath on his face
and her lips so close.  His gentleness was transformed into boldness.
Love wrought madness in him who had never before known its mystery or
its power.--"He should lack for nothing."

At that moment her grandfather's voice, high-pitched, querulous,
sounded from the other room.

"I hear ye, Rachel--both of ye; why don't ye come in here?"

Slowly her frozen look gave place to one of tense questioning.  "He
shall lack for nothing? you promise it?"

Simon Hart bowed his head: "I promise."

"Very well, then;" and all the life and youth dropped from her voice.

"Shall I go in to him?" he asked, stunned by his victory.

She nodded.

He moved to the door.  Then retracing his steps, he passed his arms
about her and pressed her to him.  "You shall never regret this,
Rachel.  Oh, how I love you!" he muttered, with his lips on her head.

Pushing the hair back from her temples as if its weight annoyed her, in
the silent room she paced restlessly.  Presently she paused and looked
her problem in the face.  She was alone, powerless, penniless.  But for
herself she was not afraid!--and she folded her arms on her
breast,--but for him who was dying?

Her arms fell.

The doctor had said that he might linger months, even years.  And oh
the relief, the unspeakable happiness, of being able to give him every
luxury!  She smiled; then sickened.  The very blood in her veins
repudiated the sacrifice.  It was long since she had thought of Emil
St. Ives as she had been accustomed to think of him during the blissful
time at Pemoquod Point.  Now the memory of him suddenly beat all over
her weakened frame.  She belonged to her love as the wood belongs to
the flame.  Wringing her hands together, she cast herself on the couch.
And over and over her in a flood waves of pain, of joy, of despair, of
triumph, of agony, of gladness, of self-immolation, of selfishness
rolled and rolled.

Out of her ordeal she emerged, brought to a sense of the immediate
present by hearing her name called.  She stood up.  But even through
her misery she was conscious of the amazing strength of her
grandfather's voice.

She ran to him.

A magnetic current of happiness had penetrated his paralyzed frame, for
when she leaned over him, he addressed her with a tongue no longer
trammelled.

"I told ye he'd come back," he exulted.  "I heared ye when ye both come
in and I knew it was him.  Now ain't ye got anything to tell me,
Rachel?"  And he smiled up at her slyly.

"I don't know what you mean, Grandfather," she said.

"I mean--What have ye two been talkin' about in t'other room?" he broke
off.  "I know it was about somethin' important; and he don't deny it,"
with a gesture toward Simon.

Simon Hart stood with one hand resting on the table.  Rachel avoided
his glance.

"He said perhaps you'd tell me," urged the old man.  "Now, what is it?"

She was silent.

"What is it?" he repeated.  "Did he ask you to marry him?" and he
plucked at her hand.

"Yes, he did."

"I knew it--I knew it," he cried excitedly.  "And you said you would,
didn't you, Rachel?" he asked, peering at her anxiously.  "Somehow I
should like to feel as if it was settled," he added wistfully.

Then she understood.  In spite of his cheerfulness, old David knew
quite well that he was going to die; and so great was his love for her,
it had triumphed over the barriers imposed by his disease.  With his
poor clouded faculties he was trying to make provision for her.

Unable to stand, she rested her forehead on the pillow.  He touched her
hair and suddenly her heart expanded.  All her thought was for him now.
The danger that had threatened him was averted.  They could not take
him away from her, they could not carry him away and place him in a
spotless, terrible ward, on a little bed, to die among strangers.
Instead, she would be able to care for him until the end came.  It was
enough.  What more could she ask?  And tightening her grip on his
sleeve, she wept the tears which the constant, torturing thought of
weeks, the unwearying, ceaseless attempts to earn money, had not wrung
from her.  In an ecstasy of tenderness, she received the old man back
from the verge of a lonely, unattended death.

Simon Hart had dropped into a chair.  His elbow was among the medicine
vials; his hand over his face.  Old David looked doubtfully from one to
the other; after an instant, exerting himself, he caught at Simon's
free hand and placed Rachel's in it.  "There!" he sighed, and while
they watched him, he settled back on the pillows, his lids drooping.
Exhausted, he fell asleep, his parted lips giving to his face the aloof
expression of death.

It was as if he had been waiting the consummation of this one hope, for
after that he sank rapidly.  During the anguished days that followed,
Rachel never permitted herself to question the step she had taken.  She
expected to fulfil her promise, meanwhile she preferred not to
calculate the price of her sacrifice.  She thought only of her
grandfather, and if she had been told to die in order to save him, she
would have been dead.

Simon Hart had lost standing in his own eyes.  He tried to view the
situation complacently, to find in it cause for self-justification.
Then came the conviction that he must release her.  For the present,
however, let the engagement stand.  It quieted the old man's fears and
left Rachel free to receive at his hands the assistance she otherwise
would have hesitated to accept.

Upon his advice a trained nurse was secured and lodgings in the
neighbourhood were found for Nora Gage.  As the last hours of old
David's existence approached, Simon began to nourish timid hopes, for
Rachel appeared to regain confidence in him.  In spite of the part he
had played, she relied on him, and drew comfort from his eyes in which
she detected so much sympathy.

The physician had made his last visit; her grandfather would scarcely
last until dawn.  His eyes, partly concealed by their flaccid lids,
held that look which is not to be misunderstood; his head on its
strained and swollen neck lay twisted to the side on the pillow; the
fingers of one hand, already cold, plucked constantly at the coverlid
with that melancholy, mechanical movement of the dying, as if his
spirit, longing to be free, would fain rid itself of all encumbrances.
The left side, instead of the right, was now stricken.

A few minutes before sunrise, there came a change.  He had lain so
quiet for many hours that they thought he slept, but suddenly Rachel
perceived that his eyes were wide open and that he was listening
intently to the wind whistling in the space between the houses.  Its
rushing passage produced a last flicker in the fantastic mind.

"The cars!  We're whirlin'--"  His mouth opened in astonishment.
"Stop, look, listen!" he muttered faintly, turning his eyes to hers.
Then the air ceased to undulate, grew quiet, above his still and amazed
face.

The first golden beams of the sun peeped in at the windows as old
David's soul, in the majesty of its innocence, passed from earth.



CHAPTER VIII

  A WOMAN'S CAPRICE--A FATHER'S REPENTANCE--A
  LOVER'S SELF-CONQUEST--A GIRL'S PITY

When Simon Hart agreed to his cousin's plan, and Rachel, despite her
protests, was conveyed from the hospital to Julia Burgdorf's house, he
did not experience the unpleasantness he had anticipated.  The
personality of his cousin was not agreeable to him.  He had never liked
her; partly, because he was jealous of a social prestige which he
himself had never been able to attain; partly, because he disapproved
of her dropping her family name, for Julia, when a child, had adopted
the cognomen of a distant relative from whom she had inherited a
fortune.  But the fundamental reason for his disapprobation lay deeper,
concealed in the current of their common blood.

Though diametrically opposed to Julia in character, Simon was able to
comprehend in her traits which he especially disliked.  They were like
two compounds containing different proportions of the same ingredient.
In Simon the strain of their common ancestry had been fused with a
widely alien current.  From his mother, a pale-featured, down-looking
woman, much given to keeping her own counsel, he had inherited his air
of secrecy, his pallor, as well as his capacity for profound and
delicate feeling.  But in Julia the original current of the Hart blood
retained all its primitive strength; plainly, she was one whose
forefathers had loved "wine and women and wild boars," and in every
trait she was more closely related to old Nicholas than was Simon.
Though Nicholas now quaveringly sought the beauties of a butterfly's
wing, time was when he had pursued woman's glances with the same
ardour; in fact, he had been in his day a cup of lusty life.  It was
the very irony of fate that this legacy of the Hart spirit had passed
his own son and descended in all its troubled richness on his sister's
child.  The only difference between uncle and niece was that which is
accounted for by sex.  Julia, being no fool, accepted the restraints
that hamper the existence of a conventional woman.  Like Nicholas she
had slight sympathy with Simon.  The antagonism of the cousins was
mutual.  In speaking of Julia, Simon habitually employed an ironical
tone; while Julia treated Simon with condescension, and, behind his
back, with ridicule.  But now one subject united them.

Immediately after the death of old David, Rachel, exhausted and
ill-nurtured, was conveyed to a private hospital, a victim of typhoid
fever.  For a time the outcome of the struggle appeared dubious, but
three weeks after the fever declared itself, she rallied.  Then it was
that Simon went to Julia with the general points of her story and a
hesitating request.

The girl was absolutely alone, without relatives or friends.  Would
Julia visit her?  The picture was a pathetic one, and marvelling at
Simon's newly developed powers of eloquence, she consented.  At sight
of the invalid, her curiosity, already lively, increased to a point
that assured decisive action.  Moreover, she conceived for the young
girl, with her forlorn face, one of those superficial attachments with
which such women sometimes seek to fill their empty lives.

As soon as Rachel was convalescent Julia insisted, nay, commanded, that
she be transferred to her own house.  A visit of a few days in novel
and comfortable surroundings, she argued, would tend to hasten her
recovery.  The fact was, Julia desired further opportunity to study the
girl who had made a conquest of her cousin.  Simon's ill-concealed
interest in her afforded Julia delicious amusement.  She had never
deemed him capable of falling in love.  When he announced that he hoped
sometime to marry Miss Beckett, Julia's amazement was complete.  Hoped!
She gasped, then shrugged.  What did he mean by taking that tone, a man
of his position?  It was mock humility--hypocrisy more disgusting than
any of which she had dreamed him capable.  But she soon discovered that
his lack of assurance was justified.

At first she doubted.  The "young person" (for it was thus Julia in
thought designated Rachel) but cherished deep-laid plans, holding Simon
the more securely by appearing not to desire to hold him.  It was
clever acting, and notwithstanding that she felt bound to oppose the
ridiculous match, Julia could but admire the fair schemer who used her
weakness and illness as additional bait for hooking such a fine fish.
Then this theory exploded and she saw the situation in its piquancy:

Rachel was actually indifferent to the entire question of the marriage.

Having made the astonishing discovery, Julia renounced her worldliness
for the time.  Had the circumstances been other than just what they
were, had the stranger been as eager for the marriage as Simon himself,
Julia assuredly would have employed every means to frustrate their
plans, and would have taken a malicious pleasure in her own manoeuvring
because of rooted antipathy to Simon.  As matters stood, however, she
resolved to do the ignorant and unambitious young thing a service in
spite of herself.  Instead of a few days, Julia begged to keep the
invalid indefinitely, and it was owing to her entreaties, rather than
to Simon's arguments, that Rachel finally consented to remain a
fortnight.

Then Julia applied herself, with the utmost discretion, to furthering
the romance.  She attempted to prick the girl to interest by discreetly
praising Simon.  He was very much looked up to by members of the
Jewellers' Association of which he was the president; as a business
man, as a member of society at large, he was irreproachable: and she
made these statements without a curl of the lip.  Rachel listened in
silence.  Then Julia employed other tactics.  She waxed spiteful in her
remarks about her cousin; she even laughed at his peculiarities.  An
oyster was not more secretive, and save for his trick of running his
fingers through his hair in moments of agitation or excitement, one
would never dream that he knew an emotion.  At that, the other raised
resentful eyes.  She saw nothing ridiculous about Mr. Hart; on the
contrary, his manner was unusually dignified.  In justice to him she
avowed the fact, then would say no more.

As yet Rachel was too weak to consider her situation.  Grief had
excluded every other emotion; even memory of Emil had flagged.  Ill at
ease and oppressed by the luxury around her, she strove to conceal
every sign of her desperate sorrow and it was only at night that she
relaxed command over herself.  Then, convulsed with sobs, she lay in
the darkness and, stretching out her hands, whispered, "Grandfather,
are you there?"  Her despair was the deeper because of the fantastic
conceit that old David's simple soul was kept away by the richness of
her surroundings.  Had she remained in the poor rooms of the tenement,
his spirit could have found her readily, descending out of that patch
of pure sky visible through the dormer windows, even as the souls of
saints and angels descend out of the blue in old pictures.

These woful imaginings, incident to physical weakness, for a time
oppressed her; but later, as her strength came, she turned from them.
She began to look at life with apprehensive eyes, though she still said
little.

Simon felt that she was reading him and agonized under her gaze.
Vainly he tried to speak the word that honour, pity, decency demanded.
Could he have beheld her existing without masculine companionship, he
would have released her, but the possibility of an unknown rival in the
shrouded future, a rival whose love she would return, sealed his lips.
Out of her presence the tension of the situation was relieved.  When no
longer confronted by her helpless and mutely accusing youth, it was a
simple matter for him to convince himself that the step he had
contemplated was unnecessary.  Girls as young as she were material
easily moulded; if she did not love him now, she would later.
Meanwhile the situation was ambiguous, and for that reason, if for no
other, an early marriage was advisable.

Despite these arguments, he began to show the effect of mental torture.
The man was passing through fire.  At last even Julia was moved by his
look.  As Rachel was the cause of the unnatural, strained situation,
she proposed that something be done to rouse her spirits.

"Give her a taste of pleasure," Julia advised, "She's a little frozen
ghost now, but I've yet to see the girl whose gloom won't yield to
amusement and excitement."

With an eagerness almost pathetic, Simon agreed to this proposal.  But
just what could they do?

The answer came promptly: "Dress her properly and carry her off to some
gay resort for the early spring.  I will take her in charge, if you say
so?"

But before they had developed a plan, the problem was unexpectedly
solved.  Emily Short was the curative agent.

It was a cold morning in March, and Emily, barring the interruption of
the doctor's visit, had been with Rachel for an hour when Simon
arrived.  As he entered his cousin's hall he met the physician who was
just getting into his great-coat.  Simon paused to consult him.

"These women are certainly astonishing creatures," the physician
remarked, settling his muffler.  "The more experience I have in the
medical profession, the more I feel that, owing to their nervous
vitality, their recuperative power is prodigious.  Miss Beckett has
just had some news, I gather," he explained, "and it's done more for
her than any amount of tonics.  I imagine she knows very clearly what
she wants to do, and my advice is, don't oppose her.  Good morning, Mr.
Hart."  And the doctor passed out through the door which was opened for
him by the obsequious butler.

Simon felt a sense of gnawing irritation.

"Now does that mean that he advises allowing her to return to that
unsanitary tenement, if that chances to be her wish," he asked himself,
"or has Julia set something on foot without consulting me?"

It was not without a struggle that Simon had brought himself to trust
his cousin; and now, in spite of her continued kindness and avowed
interest in his plans, he constantly dreaded her interference.

It being the usual hour for his visit, he did not have himself
announced, but proceeded directly to Julia's sitting room where Rachel
usually spent the morning.  As he went toward the door, the thick
carpet deadened his footsteps and he heard Rachel speaking in a voice
wrought to a high pitch:

"I never imagined things happened this way outside of novels.  But is
Father alive?  What do you say?"

"I should hardly say that he is," replied Emily.  "If he were merely
sending the money to you by this person, who is so afraid of telling
his name, he'd have been apt to write and explain things."

"Yes, of course.  But I must do what I can to find this John Smith.
Oh, I shall get well now!  And isn't it providential, all this money,
and from my own Father?  I can pay my debts now."  The tone was
jubilant.

Simon Hart, with a sensation of fear and guilt, did not wait to hear
more.  Pushing aside the strings of beads, the rattling of which jarred
intolerably on his nerves, he entered the coquettish apartment.  As he
approached Rachel, avoiding collision with the divers chairs, screens,
tables with which the place was littered, his face revealed little of
what he was feeling.

On perceiving him, she half rose.  Her breath grew short--or did he
imagine it?--her eyes narrowed, then filled once more with the
irradiating light of happiness.  As their hands met he observed that
her cheeks were glowing.  Only her extreme slenderness and her cropped
head told the story of recent illness.

"Oh, such news!" she cried, striving to repress her excitement.  "Here,
sit down," indicating a chair beside her own, "and Emily, you tell
him."  And as the little toy-maker took up the tale, Rachel looked into
his face.  But hardly had Emily opened her lips than she was silenced.

"No, no, I'll tell him myself.  What do you think!  _I've heard from my
Father_!  He has never seen me, I have never seen him, but suddenly he
sends some money."  Here Rachel's eyes shot a question--or again, did
he imagine it?

"But you haven't exactly heard from him," Emily Short interrupted; "you
don't know anything positively."

At these words, to Simon's relief, Rachel turned from him.  "But I tell
you I do know something positively, and that's enough," with a gesture
of pride, "if I never hear anything more.  He sent this money to my
mother.  Do you suppose that explains nothing to me?"

All at once she was the incarnation of tenderness and defiance.  She
had retained from childhood a picture of her father limned in the
quaint language of old David.  Now she in turn presented the portrait
to these strangers.  In the light of that mystical tribunal, buttressed
so strongly by love and imagination, Thomas Beckett stood forth a
figure vastly human, passionate and compelling; and she defied them to
judge him otherwise.

But all at once she ceased twisting the tassels which adorned her
girdle and dropped her chin in the cup of her hand.

"Sometimes I feel that it was all owing to the sea," she continued;
"had we lived further inland I believe Father wouldn't have left us.
For the land is stationary, even the trees are tied to it by the foot;
while the sea--every drop is free.  It can dash and gnaw its way
through the hardest substances.  But man is not like the sea.  He may
hurl himself upon life, yes--"  The sentence concluded in a sigh.

At the beginning of this agitated speech Simon had gazed at her with
anxious curiosity; then he grew jealous of this father who drew her
thoughts so far afield from all he knew or sympathized with.  He began
to congratulate her.

She did not heed him.

"So you can see how it came about, can't you?" and she looked first at
him and then at Emily.  "Restless, dissatisfied, tormented, that's what
Father was.  He asked something of life which life didn't give him, and
when the new ship he had helped to build was finished, he simply sailed
away in her."

This defence was painful to Simon, and Rachel all at once felt his
attitude.

"See," she said in an altered voice, "all this gold; seven hundred
dollars of it," and she indicated a box on the table.  "It came from a
place in Massachusetts.  Read this," thrusting into his hand a card on
which were printed the words:

"To Mrs. Lavina Beckett from her husband Thomas Beckett."

"And there was no letter of explanation?  Do you mean to say that you
have no clue as to who forwarded the money?" Simon asked the question
because it seemed to be demanded of him.  In reality he was not curious.

"Yes, we have a clue, but there was no letter except one which André
Garins, my old school friend, said was written to the postmaster at Old
Harbour by a man signing himself John Smith.  This man asked if my
mother was still living there, but the postmaster is new to the place,
and doesn't know much about the people at the Point anyway; so he wrote
back that Mother was dead and that André Garins at Pemoquod could
probably give him information about the daughter, that is, about me."

"Yes; and just as soon as he gets this letter, that John Smith, or
whatever his rightful name is, sends his box of gold post-haste to your
friend, and directs on the outside that it be forwarded to you.  I tell
Rachel that the man, whoever he may be, isn't anxious to have her get
in touch with him," added Emily, addressing herself to Simon.  "It's my
opinion he's keeping back part of the money her father gave him, and I
think it's foolish for her to go and get all keyed up."

Simon was saved the necessity of answering.

"But why, if he's dishonest, did he send any money at all?  But that's
not the point," Rachel went on; "I shan't rest until I've been to that
town in Massachusetts to see what I can learn about Father.  Why do you
both try to discourage me?  Oh, you don't understand!"  And suddenly
the tears were streaming.  She was too weak to combat them further.

Simon could not endure the sight of suffering; even the constant and to
a degree superficial tragedies of the lower animals and insects
tortured him; for that reason he never went near his father's room
where flies, still living, impaled on pins, seemed appealing to him for
the help he dared not give.  Now his face twitched.

"But I assure you I do understand," he protested, "and I will either go
myself and make the necessary investigation, or I will accompany you
when you are sufficiently strong."

At these words she pressed his fingers warmly, though she shook her
head: "No, I should prefer--I should rather go alone."

"Rachel!" he cried, and looked his pain.

"Or I will take Emily."

She rose and pausing beside the table turned over a gold piece; then
she passed to a window where she stood.

"Grandfather always said that we should hear from Father sometime," she
exulted, "and I've a feeling that he knows _now_" and she glanced round
at them with a bright, almost crafty expression.

Simon drummed fingers on a knee.  What effect would this wind-fall have
on their relationship?  That she intended to free herself from her
financial obligation he gathered from the words he had chanced to
overhear.  But as their interests would soon be identical, why did she
not ignore so small a matter?  unless--  He threw an examining,
wretched look toward her and took her decision from the independent
bearing of her pretty shoulders.

At this point his reflections were interrupted.  Julia had just
returned from an early round of the most fashionable shops.  She came
in, briskly ungloving her hands; then stood still.  Rachel sprang
toward her.  The girl flushed, talked with her hands, laughed.  At last
she had no unenthusiastic listener.  Unaccustomed to the sight of gold,
Emily Short, ever since the opening of the box, had been fairly awed.
To think that she had left it under the bed the night before, and that
morning had conveyed it openly through the streets!  Happiness at
Rachel's good fortune surged high, none the less her impulse was to
temper the other's excitement.  Julia was wiser.  She smothered Rachel
in an embrace.  Pushing up her veil she kissed her on both cheeks and
even shed a few tears over her.  At that moment, despite his dejection,
Simon warmed to something like affection for his cousin.

After much argument Rachel was allowed to follow her own course.
Accompanied by Emily Short she departed for the mill town from which
John Smith had written.  She spent a week in a vain search, then giving
the matter into the hands of a local detective, she returned to New
York.

Simon met the two women at the station.  The greetings over, he
possessed himself of Rachel's bag and led the way to a cab.  She
touched his arm.

"Not to Miss Burgdorf's--to Emily's, please."

Each paled.  Her eyes as ever read right in.

When she was seated in the cab, she leaned forward: "And you will come
this evening?"

He bowed, stiff as a ramrod, strained about the lips.

During the days of Rachel's absence his soul had been a field of
conflict.  He had written her letters only to destroy them.  Why be so
certain of her attitude?  Women were inexplicable; he might be
mistaken.  He postponed the decision.  Now he must release her; now
when the issue was forced, when there was no semblance of generosity in
the act.  And he despaired of making her believe what he strove to make
himself believe, as a last stay to self-respect, that the circumstance
of her illness had alone delayed the step.  The make-shift engagement
had rested on her dire need of money, on his ability to supply it.  Why
blink the fact?

When the cab containing Rachel and her companion rolled away, he walked
toward Fifth Avenue, without realizing what he was doing, stunned as if
he had received a blow.  For an hour he walked in a sort of stupour.
Then he entered a cafe.  As the blood circulated sluggishly in his
veins, he had fallen into the habit of drinking moderate but constantly
repeated quantities of liquor; the stimulant was no more manifest
through the pallor of his countenance than wine that is poured into an
opaque vessel, but it seemed to quicken his faculties.  Summoning an
attendant, he gave an order.  He remained in the cafe until evening.

When he entered Emily Short's room, Rachel stood near the table well in
the light of the lamp.  She greeted him with a touch of constraint.
More than usual her eyes kept a watch on him.  Her whole countenance
announced subtly and triumphantly that she had it in her power to
redeem her debt: then, perhaps he would release her!  This thought
seemed to flash even from her hands.

He looked swiftly at her hands.  She was fingering a small packet of
which his misery divined the nature.  She had wrapped it in tissue
paper.  This girlish device to render the thing she planned to do less
distressful, struck a blow at his heart.

"One word--listen to me!" he cried, keeping an agonized gaze on the
packet, "I no longer wish--I realize that to unite your life with
mine--I know the very thought is painful--"

Lifting his eyes, he saw an expression like a darting of light.

Conscious that he was not speaking as he had intended to speak, he drew
his fingers through his hair.  "You are free," he stammered, "it was
never my intention to hold you to your promise.  But it is impossible
that you should comprehend my struggle--"

He broke off, striving for his usual calm, and this effort to place a
mask over his anguish produced on her much the same effect as the
concealing piece of paper had produced on him.

Caught in a tide of emotion, she extended a hand: "But I can--I do
understand.  Haven't you shown your feeling for me constantly?  You
have been kind--kind!"

He shook his head.  "No, no," he muttered, "not kind; helpless.  I
tried more than once to release you; I beg you to believe this.  But I
loved you too much."  His face expressed acute suffering; his lower lip
trembling so that he could scarcely pronounce the words.

"Can you forgive me?"

No concealment now.  A naked, humble, imploring, despairing soul looked
from his eyes.

It was not in her to resist such an appeal.  Her heart flamed with
pity, pity that annihilated all selfish exultation.  "There is nothing
to forgive."

"But you do forgive me?" he insisted.

"I thank you--I thank you from the bottom of my soul."

Again he shook his head disowning his right to gratitude.  His eyes
once more watched what she held.

All at once, reading his look, the discrepancy between the nature of
her indebtedness and the sordid return she had planned, struck her.
She laid the packet on the table.

He looked up, questioningly.

So repugnant did the action she had contemplated now appear to her that
she hung her head.

"I no longer wish to give it to you," she said in a stifled voice.
"Grandfather's happiness, my own life--can money pay for such things?"

He took her by the hand.

It was some moments before he could regain command of himself.  Then he
said:

"I am always your friend, Rachel."

She nodded.

For some moments longer they stood, their hands joined.  Presently he
touched her forehead with his lips.  "Good-bye."

She stood as he had left her, her bosom rising and falling softly and
heavily, her eyes betraying all that was passing within her.  Never did
countenance more plainly announce a struggle.  By this final act, he
had erased from the scroll any charge against him of dishonour and
selfishness.  Her instinctive trust of him, persisting in the face of
his weakness, was vindicated.  The flame of her liking leapt higher.
Open-lipped, open-eyed, open-eared, she listened to his retreating
steps.

Momentarily the consciousness of her debt to him increased.  She was
allowing him to go--this man who had aided her in the blackest hour of
her life; who loved her, who offered her all a man can offer a woman.
She placed him high, herself low.  She saw him noble, herself craven.
To receive so much and to give nothing!  It was contrary to her nature.
But one return she could make!  Above waves of confusion the thought
flashed and flashed.

Was she capable of the sacrifice?  Deeply she sounded her heart.  Her
life was empty, irretrievably, permanently empty and desolate, she told
herself with the sureness of the tragic young.  To what better use put
its fruitless days?  The idea assumed the brightness of a star above
troubled deeps.  She sprang to the door, calling.

He did not answer, though his step was still faintly distinguishable in
the hall.

Bending over the well of the staircase, she repeated her call.

The footsteps halted: then from the darkness below she heard him
ascending.



CHAPTER IX

RACHEL--SIMON

Her heroism was of the youthful, purblind, impetuous order.  She had
reasoned falsely and acted generously.  But she was not one to sink
wittingly to a lower level.  Later, when she suspected the truth, she
did not admit it to her own heart--least of all to her own heart.  She
was very glad of what she had done.

But she delayed the marriage; there were preparations to make.  For no
reason that anyone could fathom, she insisted on remaining in the
Street of Masts.  One concession she made: at Simon's urgent request
she consented to retain Nora Gage.  The two occupied the old rooms
across the hallway from Emily Short.

The money received from her father was sufficient to supply Rachel's
needs and even permitted the preparation of a simple wardrobe.  Under
Emily's supervision she planned and cut out and sewed feverishly for
days together.  Then abruptly she would abandon her needle.  She bought
books and endeavoured to teach herself French.  She was never idle.

"You are overdoing," Simon remonstrated.  "You will make yourself ill
with these things."

She shook her head.  Activity was good for her.

With the success of his suit, Simon had recovered poise.  His manner
was dignified and somewhat stiff.  He spoke slowly and in a
well-modulated voice.  To the world he was as he had been formerly; but
Rachel read deeper.

She knew that he desired to be gallant, even witty.  And this effort to
be all that she wished him to be touched her profoundly.  Constantly he
was bringing gifts.  Offering them to her, he would watch her face to
see if he had selected wisely.  She perfectly understood this desire to
offer something that would afford pleasure.  Had she not experienced
the same impulse? though she had not been able to gratify it.  When she
met Emil St. Ives in the cemetery at Old Harbour--how long ago it
seemed now--instead of gifts she had been able to give him only an
earnest, unswerving attention.  This listening on the part of a girl to
his long, often technical explanations, had he valued it, as she valued
Simon's presents?  But these reflections were checked by a prompt
warning from within.  Danger lay that way.  Memory would prove a
scourge if indulged and she did not want to feel.

Notwithstanding the approaching realization of what he had desired so
long, Simon Hart still had moments when he suffered.  The Street of
Masts had always been an obnoxious quarter in his eyes, though for a
short period, the fact that Rachel dwelt in it had somewhat modified
its objectionable features.  But that was before their engagement.  Now
the entire section stirred in him a positive repugnance.  That she, his
future wife, should elect to remain in a sordid setting when she might
have been surrounded by every luxury, filled him with a dull sense of
anger and chagrin.  But he was unequal to the task of remonstrating.
Whenever he thought of speaking strongly to her on the matter, timidity
overcame him.  Knowing what her feeling was for him, he shrank from the
appearance of urging any claim.  Julia Burgdorf by her attitude
increased his discomfort.

Ever since Rachel's refusal to return to her house when she had
expected her, Julia, with the childish pique of a woman accustomed to
having every whim gratified, had washed her hands of her.  Whenever she
saw Simon she bantered him on the subject of his prolonged engagement.

"Is the happy day fixed yet?" she would cry, with eye and shoulder
play.  "No?  Is it possible!  The headstrong young person hesitates to
renounce her freedom?  Even the prospect of escaping life in an attic
does not influence her?  Extraordinary!"

Whenever he went to see Rachel, Simon was beset by the dread that he
might meet one of his business acquaintances.  What if by chance it
became known that he intended to marry a young woman who lived on the
lower East side?  Things like that easily leaked out.  Finally his
sensitiveness increased to the point where he shrank even from the
frank gaze of the children in the street, a gaze which singled him out
because of his clothes, his gait, his strangeness to their world.  More
than all else he feared the curiosity of members of his own household.
The maid who had admitted Rachel and her grandfather when they called
at the house had left his service.  When Rachel came there as his bride
nothing of her history would be known to the servants.  None the less
he felt that Theresa Walker, his housekeeper, eyed him shrewdly.  Not
only this, he was convinced that she had communicated her suspicions to
Peter, the coachman.  Otherwise, why should Peter, who was old and
stupid, wear such a significant look because he, Simon, failed to use
the horses, as formerly, for a short time every evening?

However, though he suffered for the reasons just related, he was, on
the whole, very tranquil.  Nor was his engagement his only cause for
satisfaction.  He was about to bring out his book on gems.  It was a
voluminous work, weighty, carefully prepared, extensively illustrated.
He awaited its appearance with eagerness.  When the first copy arrived
from the publisher he took it the same evening to Rachel.

She had had a trying day.  Her modest preparations could not be
indefinitely prolonged.  Even Emily Short, who had been a most exacting
and untiring assistant, acknowledged that three days would see the
completion of the wardrobe.  Rachel listened and acquiesced.  Emotion,
out of the depths of her, still sent up momentary, lurid flashes, but
Reason smothered the flashes with impetuous arguments.  Finally Reason
hurled Honour and Duty, a combined extinguisher, on the flame.  Though
triumphant in her virtuous decision to give Simon the information he
had awaited so patiently, she was in an exasperated mood when he
arrived.  Her mood demanded a tangible grievance and he found her with
anger-crimsoned cheeks inspecting a dress.

"I ought never to have trusted it to that ignorant seamstress," she
cried.  "I ought to have given it to that woman whose address your
cousin sent me.  It's my own fault that it's ruined."

"But what's wrong with it?" he asked, taking a fold of the material
between a thumb and finger.

She frowned.  "Everything's wrong.  It doesn't fit for one thing; and
it's too long for another.  But it doesn't matter.  Let us talk no more
about it."  And seating herself beside the lamp, she took up a bit of
hemstitching.  She drew the needle through the dainty material, still,
however, exhibiting strong signs of annoyance.  Everything excited her
now.

"Emily and I have accomplished a tremendous amount this week," she said
by way of preface to her important announcement.  "We're getting ahead
finely."

"Ah, that's good," he said.  "But remember not to overshoot the mark,
Rachel; there'd be no wisdom in that.  And now to prove that I've not
been idle while you've been slaving with your pretty fingers, I have
brought this.  You know I told you that before long I hoped to be able
to complete the work."

She did not at once comprehend to what he referred, but she saw that he
wished to tell her something flattering to himself, and by means of
questions she led him on.

With a smile, he drew the book from its wrappings.

Her needle-work slipped to the floor and she received the volume in
both hands.  "Oh, Simon!"

"Do you like it?"

"How handsome it is!  And how fine these coloured plates are!  Oh what
it must mean to you to see this work at last in definite shape."  For
she suddenly appreciated all the joy that lay for him, the author,
between those stiff new pages.  The last vestige of her ill nature
vanished and she looked up at him eagerly.

"And the indications are that it is going to be well received," he told
her, with an air of satisfaction.  "I've seen some of the advance
notices.  They could scarcely be more complimentary."

Like most women Rachel adored in a man power to achieve distinction.
She counted it an additional proof of strength.  She had been drawn to
Emil partly because of his genius which had compelled her to look up.
But thus far, though she appreciated his essential worth, she had not
been successful in encouraging her imagination to dwell on Simon and
invest him with uncommon attributes.  A little shiver of excitement ran
through her.

The consciousness of shining had called forth a look on Simon's face.

"The _Courier_ says it's a work which is bound to attract attention,
relating as it does all the old legends connected with gems, besides
giving solid facts of their history."

She had no reason for thinking the book was not what he believed it to
be, a work of merit, possibly of unique value.  She nodded, so anxious
to see him burnished, that she saw him burnished.

"Even the reviewer of the _Messenger_, usually cynical, speaks well of
it."

"I am very, very glad."  Her voice thrilled with gratification.

"I knew you would be," he returned feelingly.  "This copy is for you."

She put out her hand.

He grasped it, folding it against his cheek.  "You know how you can
best thank me, don't you?" he said.  He was not a lover to be
inconsiderately treated by any woman.  At the moment he was singularly
handsome.

With her free hand she turned the pages of the book.  An involuntary
sigh lifted her breast.

"Can't you tell me to-night, Rachel?" he urged.  "I've waited so long
to know?"

She had let her head drop lower.  In reality she was impatient that she
still had to struggle with herself.  At his last words she lifted her
face.  "I was going to tell you to-night," she said.  "Will two weeks
from Wednesday do?"



CHAPTER X

THE BIRD IN THE BOX

It was mid-winter, season of the early-lighted lamp.  The mortal part
of old David had lain in the grave for a twelvemonth.  It was as if
Heaven itself sought to do honour to his innocence.  Contributing flake
after flake of snow with the aid of that great artisan the wind, it had
built up a gleaming monument to his memory.

But in the city the office of the angels was performed with greater
difficulty.  Patiently they flung a mantle of snow over the island.
They spread it smoothly in the streets, festooned it over the arches of
the bridges, tucked it cunningly away in the bell towers of the
churches.  They mounted to the tops of the tallest buildings, laying
delicate ridges at the window ledges; stooped to the dingiest basement
doorways, carpeting them with white.  Constantly the mantle was
displaced, shovelled aside, melted away; and the city, despite her
glitter of lights, was revealed.  About every chimney-pot appeared a
circle of dampness, along every roof edge hung a row of tears; from end
to end of the city was the sound of dull dripping.  Manhattan, like a
woman of pleasure, wept her sins, and the angels, the angels tried in
vain to render her seemly in the eyes of the good God.

The clock on the Grand Central tower was hard on five when the train
bearing Simon Hart and his bride drew in at the station.  They were
returning from their prolonged wedding journey.  Rachel adjusted her
veil.  Though her lips were steady, her eyes were full of tears.
Within the hour they had whirled past the cemetery where her
grandfather was buried.

Simon assisted her from the train; then, with his heavy and dignified
gait, he led the way through the waiting-room.

"I wired my man to meet us.  Ah, there he is!" he exclaimed, as they
reached the drifted pavement, and he expanded his chest with
complacency.

Peter with difficulty brought the horses to the curb and Simon, after
Rachel had taken her place in the carriage, climbed in himself.  Then
he thrust his head through the door and ordered the man to drive home,
but Rachel plucked his sleeve.

"No, no," she coaxed, "tell him to drive to the shop first."

Simon, though he altered the direction, when he settled himself at her
side, looked at her with a slightly mocking expression.

"I want to get that fiddle from Mr. Mudge," she explained.  "In his
last letter he said he'd found one and I want Nora to take it to André
when she goes.  She's starting for Old Harbour at once and will call
for the fiddle as soon as I let her know we're here.  Then, too," with
a side glance, "I'm anxious, if you must know, to learn from Mr. Mudge
how that heat-measurer turned out."

"That is, you wish to learn whether he has heard anything from your
enterprising inventor?"

"Well yes," she admitted; and they both laughed.

A few days before their marriage, Simon had chanced to remark that an
instrument for measuring heat in the furnace in which metals were
melted would be an important acquisition to the manufacturing jeweller.
Thereupon Rachel had begged him to submit the problem to Emil St. Ives.
To please her he had carried out her wish.  Bearing a note from her to
the inventor (a note in which she incidentally announced her
matrimonial plans) Simon had sought out Emil whom he located readily
through the lithographing firm of Just and Lawless.  Emil without
hesitation had promised the instrument within a week.  Now three months
had elapsed without a word from him and at any mention of the subject,
Simon was wont to adopt a tone of raillery.

"Better give up your expectations along that line, my dear," he advised
now; "that instrument will never materialize; St. Ives, judging by his
look, is no more to be depended upon than the wild man from Borneo.
Besides, if we stop at the shop, we'll miss the overture of the opera,
and in Faust the overture is a consideration.  Can't you restrain your
eagerness until morning?"

But Rachel was not to be swayed: "Tell the man to drive faster."

Since her marriage her restlessness had disappeared; she was calmer,
happier, and whenever she looked at her husband, whenever she surprised
in his eyes an expression of doubt and longing, affection rose in her
heart.  The fact that he did not seek to interfere with her strange
friendships filled her with gratitude.

The carriage stopped before the jewellery establishment and the door
was opened to them by a boy in uniform.  In the shop the electric bulbs
were shedding a soft radiance on the glass cases filled with gems.
Rachel had been there several times, but this was her first visit since
her marriage.  Now she experienced a thrill of pleasure as she gazed
about her with the curiosity that animates a woman in such a place.
The quiet and subdued elegance of the accessories charmed her, and she
cast a glance at her husband.  The star sapphires, the black opals, the
diamonds, arranged on squares of black velvet, lent him something of
their own lustre.

A clerk took the news of their arrival to Victor Mudge and a moment
later they were ushered into the workshop in the rear of the elaborate
showrooms.  Here were machines for drilling holes through pearls, a
sink for washing the finished jewellery, a little forge where gold was
melted in crucibles.  All the workmen had gone home except Victor who
often remained until late.  Now he hobbled forward with a string of
seed pearls and a needle in his hands.

One of Victor's legs was shorter than the other by reason of a fall,
and as he walked he swayed like a little dry tree creaking in a breeze;
one felt he had no leaves.  He was secretly well-pleased by his
employer's marriage, but it was a peculiarity of his seldom to address
him and to observe toward him a critical manner.  Now, after greeting
the couple, he looked at Rachel exclusively.

The old goldsmith, besides being something of a musician was an
excellent judge of a violin, and at Simon's request he had obtained for
Rachel the instrument she wished to give André.

"It's not just what I wanted," he explained, "but neither is it bad."
And thereupon he drew the bow across the violin.

"Oh, how well you play!" she murmured, and then fell silent.  She
regretted that she had withheld from André news of her marriage; she
should have told him at once.  Now she planned to send him the violin
as a sign of her unalterable affection.  When Victor handed the
instrument to Simon she aroused herself.

"And how is the _pyrometer_ coming on, Mr. Mudge?" she demanded with
animation.  "Have you heard anything yet from Mr. St. Ives?"

Victor shrugging his shoulders, once more took into his fingers the
string of seed pearls and the needle.  "He was in here about a week ago
and left a drawing; and yesterday I received a letter from him saying
he'd be in this evening to test something at the furnace.  I'm waiting
his pleasure now."

Rachel suddenly laughed.

When she and Simon left the shop, when they were once more in the
carriage, she leaned to him impulsively and pressed her lips to his
cheek.

That evening she heard her first opera.  In order to justify Simon's
pride in her and also to gratify her own innate sense of coquetry, she
had arrayed herself to great advantage.  Whence came this knowledge of
the requirements of her new position, whence the pretty dignity of her
bearing?  Perhaps from her Canadian great-grandfather and his English
wife; or this manner of hers may have been a free gift of the gods.

Excited by the strains of music that ascended from the orchestra, she
deepened and increased in beauty and in the immediate neighbourhood of
her husband's box became the centre of attention.  But of this she was
only imperfectly aware.  If, by chance, she did intercept an admiring
glance, she took it as a tribute to her dress of white satin, cunningly
embroidered in a design of gold flowers, to her coiffure, her fan, her
bouquet, to everything and anything but her own youthful countenance to
which the force of her emotions was adding an indefinable attraction.
She made a charming picture; her eyes half hidden by their lashes; her
face, her shoulders, even her round arms and her hands radiant with a
childlike happiness like sunshine.

Julia Burgdorf, who sat beside her, turning her head, looked at the
girl with a half-curious, half-wistful smile in her magnificent eyes;
while a man who was leaning on the back of her chair, an architect with
a pointed beard and ridiculously small hands and feet, watched Rachel
far more than he watched the stage.  Simon Hart alone of those near
her, seemed unaware of her triumph.  Holding his opera glass in his
gloved hands, he stared straight ahead of him with his weary,
unreadable gaze; and whenever his young wife addressed a word to him,
he leaned toward her sidewise without turning his head.

On the stage Farrar, as Marguerite, had just appeared at the window of
her cottage after her farewell to Faust.  Then as the light faded
rapidly over the canvas trees, the spinning-wheel, the garden
seat,--Faust in doublet and cloak, with a long feather in his cap,
approached the casement, and there followed the poetic and sensuous
fever of the inimitable duet, in which two voices, a man's and a
woman's, sigh together those phrases of adoration, rapture
supplication, of surprise, terror, yielding.  When finally Marguerite's
blond head sank on Faust's shoulder, the breath of their kiss seemed to
pass over the entire house.

Rachel's hand, incased in its long glove, closed nervously on the edge
of the box.  She wore a look of troubled amazement; presently she began
plucking at the flowers of her bouquet.  After the "garden" scene,
however, ashamed of her emotion and desiring to escape it, she ceased
following closely what went on upon the stage and gave herself up to
inspecting the audience.

The sight of the jewels on the heads and breasts of some ladies near
her, chained her shy glances.  She remembered Victor Mudge and the
scene before the glowing forge.  It was his cunning workmanship and the
workmanship of others like him that made such marvels possible.  And
she rejoiced in the thought that her husband had an intimate knowledge
of such treasures and had even written a book about them.

A sense of that which is artificial in life was diffused everywhere,
and by and by, in that atmosphere of unreality she grew calmer.  But
when at the conclusion of the performance, she found herself emerging
from the crowded auditorium, a part of a variegated stream of jewelled
heads, bare shoulders and black coats, she was conscious once more that
the irresistible mystery of the music had kindled in her nerves a
poetic fever.  Suddenly she experienced a fresh impulse of affection
for Simon.  "I owe all this to him," she thought; and from under the
hood of her opera cloak she glanced at his pale profile as he guided
her through the richly-dressed crowd.

In the foyer she discovered that she had dropped a little gold pin from
her hair and Simon retraced his steps to search for it.  They had
parted some moments before from Julia Burgdorf and her companion.  Now
Rachel strove to remain where Simon had left her inside the great
doors, but the surge of the crowd rendered this impossible. Jostled and
carried forward by the moving throng, she presently found herself
outside where the confusion was even greater.

From the sky the snow still drifted imperturbably.  It glistened on the
shining backs of the horses, on the black tops of the carriages, on the
oilskin coats of the drivers, as, with a flourish of whips, they
brought their carriages opposite the brilliantly-lighted entrance and
received their precious loads.

Constantly the mellow stillness of the snowy night was disturbed by the
ringing voices of the porters as they cried out the numbers of the
carriages: "Two hundred and thirty-three!"  "Three hundred and
forty-eight!"  (The voices were urgent, brutal, quarrelsome.)  "Four
hundred and forty-five!"  All at once Rachel was startled by the call:
"Mr. Hart's carriage!"  And simultaneously a tall figure approached
her. Lifting a cap from his rough locks the man looked closely into her
face.

There was snow in his beard, on his hair, on his shoulders. He was
smiling in a questioning fashion, and in his eyes, beneath their
overhanging brows, was an inconceivable life and vitality.

A look of joy flashed into Rachel's face and she extended a hand which
he took in both his. For a space, overwhelmed as two children, they
could do nothing but look each at the other.

Then the harsh cry of a porter broke the spell.  "Here, drive on, you,"
he cried angrily to the Harts' coachman.

But Emil St. Ives raised his voice.  "Wait a moment!" he called out;
then to Rachel,--"I'll keep a lookout for Mr. Hart;" and offering her
his arm he conducted her to the carriage.

When she had taken her place in it, the coachman left the line of
waiting vehicles and drove a few paces down the street.  Emil followed.
As he approached, Rachel succeeded in letting down the glass of the
carriage door.  She leaned with both arms on the ledge.  Her cheeks
showed a heightened colour, and her lips, parting in smiles, displayed
her little teeth.

"I never expected--" she began unsteadily, "I didn't know that you
cared for the opera."

Emil looked at her boldly and joyously, though at the same time with a
hint of submission in his eyes.  He had waited for her to speak, and at
her words he drew a deep breath.

"The opera?" he repeated a little hoarsely.  Then he shrugged his
shoulders.  "That old fellow in your--your husband's establishment, Mr.
Mudge, told me that you were to be here to-night, and when I found
after testing the heat-measuring device that it worked all right, I
thought I'd just stroll round here."

"Then you have been successful?"

He smiled with a touch of the egotism she remembered.  "You must see it
to judge.  You _will_ come and see it?" he demanded quickly.

She looked at him for some time without replying; she could not keep
the delight out of her eyes.  Suddenly she plucked her gaze away.
"There's my husband; he doesn't see us.  Signal to him, please," she
cried.

When Simon Hart saw Emil St. Ives standing in the snow beside his
wife's carriage, he approached, looking straight at Rachel.  At Emil he
scarcely glanced, though when the inventor opened the carriage door for
him, he thanked him with a slight inclination of the head.  When he was
seated, Rachel put a hand on his arm.

"Simon, you know Mr. St. Ives, I believe?" she said.  Her voice was
unusually soft and she had gone a little pale.  "He has come to tell us
that the heat-measurer--the _pyrometer_, I should say," she corrected
herself, "works perfectly."

"Ah it works, does it?" Simon repeated, and he looked coldly at Emil
St. Ives.  "I'm delighted to hear it," he added after a moment.  "But
I'll see you to-morrow at the factory and will talk over the matter
then."

Rachel leaned in front of her husband impulsively.  "I'll come too,"
she said, "for I'm going to claim half the credit of the invention.
And then," she went on, "I want to hear all about your other
work--everything.  You know I met your wife one day.  Please remember
me to her," she called as the horses started.

"Well I found your pin," Simon said to her, and he handed her the tiny
jewelled ornament.

"I'm glad of that;" then, while she replaced it in her hair, "why
didn't you show more interest in that heat-measuring instrument?" she
asked, looking at him from under her raised arms.

"Why his coming to notify us of the fact that he has succeeded with the
device--if you'll excuse my saying so," with an ironical smile, "struck
me as lacking in dignity, as a childish action, in fact."

"Of course it was childish," she cried, "but he's an inventor.  And
just think how hard he's worked to please you," she continued.  "He's
been weeks and weeks and rejected ever so many attempts; and when he
told you--you were so lukewarm.  'I'll see you at the factory
to-morrow'--that's what you said to him, just as if he were a little
boy to be pushed aside.  It wasn't kind of you," she finished.

A shadow passed over Simon Hart's face.  "I think you exaggerate," he
began, speaking in the slow distinct manner that was habitual with him.
"However," he continued, "I'll endeavour to make up for my
_lukewarmness_ to-morrow."  He tried to pronounce the word in a jesting
tone, but his whole aspect was serious.  In a moment he leaned forward
and taking one of her reluctant hands, breathing heavily, he held it
against his lips.

The principal gift which he had intended for Rachel, he had ordered
from Geneva, and it had arrived during their absence on the wedding
journey.  Now immediately on reaching the house, without giving her
time to lay aside her wraps and stopping only to remove his own fur
coat, he conducted her through the sombre hallway to the more
lugubrious drawing-room.

"There, my dear," he said, pointing to a small object on the table,
"that is for you."  For he was anxious to bestow the gift as a
peace-offering.

Rachel approached the table, which was constructed of solid mahogany in
a heavy ugly pattern, and took the leather case in her hands.

"Open it, my love," he urged.

She sank down in a chair and opened the case.

It contained a Swiss watch set in the front of a small onyx box
ornamented with garlands of wrought gold.  Anything frailer, daintier,
more coquettish than this little time-piece, fit property for a
princess it would be difficult to imagine.  It was a triumph of
frivolity, a little bit of elegance in inlaid work and jewels.  For
wind the charming plaything and immediately, from beneath a gold shell
on the cover, up sprang a tiny, buoyant bird, with ruby eyes and
mother-of-pearl bill.  Turning this way and that with flutterings of
its variegated plumage, it trilled forth a song,--silver, clear,
crystalline.

Grasping Simon's hand, Rachel dropped her head on his arm.  And for
some reason she clung to him vehemently and he felt that her whole body
was trembling.

Congratulating himself that their reconciliation was complete, he
caressed her hair.  "It's a Swiss novelty," he explained when she
looked up.

He had been leaning over the back of her chair, now he straightened his
shoulders and took the morocco case in his hands.

"I used to know this Gellaine of Geneva," he marked.  "He is one of the
cleverest watchmakers in the world.  And now, my dear," he added, "if
you'll excuse me, I'll go and prepare myself a toddy; those boxes are
such draughty places."

As he moved to the door Rachel followed him with a glance which seemed
to beseech him not to leave her.  Then, when the door had closed on
him, as if she would rid herself of some importunate thought, she
examined the little timepiece.  The bird had disappeared from view
beneath the golden shell.  Turning the key twice she replaced the box
on the table, and leaning on her elbows, stared at it.  But her sight
was turned inward.

The unexpected meeting with Emil had plunged her once more into chaos.
One glance of his eyes and the curtains of her mind rolled upward.  One
intense, burning pressure of his hand laid to hers, and she knew life
again in its fulness.

Like a lost thing, from out a prison-house, her soul reviewed its past.
Across the deep, tragic abyss that yawned between Then and Now, she saw
Emil as in the old blissful time at Pemoquod Point.  In the effulgence
of his courage, his ardour, his genius, he had been the sun and the
light of her world.  Her heart had called him "Master."  And she had
matched him for bravery as steel matches steel that has been tempered
by the same heat in the forming.

"Together!" her heart had sung, pointing its flight to the farthest
star of bliss.

And now.

She leaned forward, her head sunk between her outspread fingers, her
gaze riveted on Simon's gift.  Intently she watched the wee songster
and listened to its tinkling song.

"The--bird--in--the--box!"  She said the words slowly.  Then repeated
them; "_The bird in the box_!"

She lifted clenched hands to her throat.

Suddenly, as if crushed by something she had tried to evade, she put
her head down on her arms.


Outside the snow continued to fall.  It fell steadily, monotonously, as
if seeking to cover with a white mantle something it were better to
hide.



BOOK III



CHAPTER I

THE HOUSE IN WASHINGTON SQUARE

A rainy night was followed by a rainy morning.  Between the looped
curtains of the alcove window the ground of the square could be seen
soggy and wet.  The marble of Washington Arch showed dark streaks of
moisture.  Rachel leaned an arm on the dining room mantel.  The
housekeeper had been complaining of a litter of kittens in the basement
which she could get no one to destroy.

"Bring them in here, Theresa," Rachel ordered peremptorily; then with a
sigh she cast herself in a chair.

The woman disappeared but presently returned bearing in her hands a
basket containing three white and grey kittens.  The mother cat, a
handsome sleek animal with a plume-like tail and round golden eyes,
followed at her heels, alternately mewing anxiously and purring
contentedly.

"I didn't know that you were fond of cats, ma'am," murmured the
housekeeper in an ingratiating tone.  "I suppose they are all well
enough for those who likes 'em."

Before proceeding to study the kittens, Rachel drew a small flask from
the pocket of her morning-gown.  "If there isn't any more whiskey in
the house, Theresa, send out before breakfast and get some at the
nearest drugstore.  Then refill this and take it up to Mr. Hart," she
added without looking at the other.

The housekeeper, a tall angular woman--whose flat bust and prominent
shoulder-blades suggested the awful idea that her head was put on the
wrong way--paused on the threshold.  The bosom of her gown bristled
with needles and bits of embroidery cotton clung to her black silk
apron.  In spite of her unattractive person there was something smart
and pretentious about Theresa.  She carried her head, covered with its
glossy hair, as if it were decorated with an aigrette.

"Shall I take up his breakfast at the same time?" she asked, and lifted
eyes of innocence.

"Mr. Hart will come downstairs for breakfast," Rachel answered shortly;
then, sinking on the rug, she began fondling the kittens.

She lifted them out of the basket one at a time, and holding them at a
distance, looked at their faces, which, three-cornered and mottled
light and dark, suggested pansies; at their paws, soft as velvet and
harmless as yet; at their short frisky tails and little red mouths
which they opened wide as they mewed straight at her.  During this
pretty play the mother cat sat by the fender and washed her face.  But
presently, at an especially distressed mew, she crossed the room and
laid a remonstrative paw on Rachel's arm.  But the girl held the kitten
still higher so that the cat was obliged to rear herself on her hind
feet in order to reach it.  At that instant Simon Hart entered the room.

"Isn't that rather cruel of you?" he asked, stooping to pat the cat
that arched its back under his hand.

"Let her reach it then," Rachel answered.

After several trials, the mother cat succeeded in taking the kitten by
the nape of its limp neck, and then hopped nimbly with it into the
basket.  Rachel looked at her gravely as she began rather roughly to
lick the kittens with her little scarlet tongue, covered with tiny
cones.

Simon extended his hand, but Rachel made no move to rise.  Instead,
turning her head which she rested on her palm, she looked at him and
across her face flitted a variety of emotions.  He would have assisted
her to her feet, but she would have none of him.  Then another glance
and her mood changed completely.  Self-contained and enigmatic as he
was on ordinary occasions, he showed now an embarrassment that struck
to her heart.  She put up her hands, and with a sudden violence of
emotion, he lifted her in his arms.

A moment later, she had forced him to release her, and, pale and
thoughtful, she left the room.

"We'll have breakfast in a moment," she said, reappearing.  "I gave
Theresa your flask; she is sending out," she added in a lower voice.

Already Simon had assumed his usual equivocal and aloof manner.  At
these words, he lowered his eyes.

"That was kind of you," he said, "I required merely a drop and I found
what I needed.  My cold," he continued, "is no worse; on the contrary,
I shall go to the shop to-day."

Since the night of the opera, three weeks before, Simon had been
confined to the house by his dread enemy, the influenza.  During this
illness he had consumed a great quantity of liquor.  If he went without
it for any number of hours, he showed the effect.  That morning Rachel
had been moved by his pale and wretched look.

During the meal he read to her part of a paper he expected to deliver
before the Jewellers' Association.  But she crumbled her bread, her
thoughts wandering.  As he was preparing to leave the house, she
lingered about in his vicinity.

"Do you know," she ventured, following him to the door, "I'm not half
satisfied with what you did about Mr. St. Ives?" and she gave him a
direct, almost accusing glance.

"But I sent him a check, certainly liberal in the circumstances, since
he is free to go on and manufacture--" Simon began, and he wrinkled his
brow.

Rachel shrugged her shoulders in impatience.  "You sent him a check;
yes, you even advised him to go on and manufacture that instrument.
But he isn't capable of making a practical move.  Now if you'd shown
any real interest--"  She stayed her words, silenced by contrition.

After Simon had gone, she established herself with a bit of sewing in
the dining room.  It was the only room that did not weigh on her
spirits.  But she had discovered at once that this house, lonely,
silent, forbidding, suited Simon as it was; therefore she had confined
herself merely to refitting and converting into a sitting room an
unused chamber on the second floor; and to making more comfortable the
quarters of old Nicholas Hart.  There her efforts had ended.  An entire
remodelling of the mansion would have been necessary to disperse the
atmosphere of depression that, tangible as dampness, emanated from its
walls.

It had sheltered in its time, apparently, a goodly number of
soft-moving, mirthless people.  Its inner doors of dark polished wood,
never emitted a squeak; and the occasional sounds that penetrated the
plaster of its ceilings, suggested a company of rats that went about
their business in hushed, apologetic groups, instead of in scampering
hordes.  The house had never become reconciled to Simon's pianola, and
when he seated himself before the instrument, as he did with
conscientious regularity every day after dinner, Rachel often fancied
that the house lifted shoulders of aversion.

And the legitimate inmates, she decided, were in keeping with the
house.  Simon and his housekeeper, Theresa Walker, could have desired
nothing different in the way of a dwelling.  As for old Nicholas and
herself, not to mention the various maids who succeeded one another
rapidly (for Theresa was difficult to suit in the matter of assistants)
they were merely interlopers.

The housekeeper inspired Rachel with a kind of horror.  She had somehow
gleaned the knowledge that this woman, with her crafty smile but
undeniable capacity for work, when well launched in middle life, had
seized upon the idea of marrying her cousin, a certain Jeremiah Foggs,
when the cousin's wife, a forlorn, feckless, half-witted creature,
should die.  As the wife was little more than a troublesome charge on
Jeremiah's hands and he feared leaving her to herself in their village
home, he always brought her with him on the occasions of his visits to
Theresa.  During the premature courting of the hard-grained pair, the
poor daft thing sat by the cheek of the chimney with frightened eyes
and a shaking chin.  Rachel had a theory that with kind treatment, her
wits might have returned.  But no kindness was ever shown her; on the
contrary, Jeremiah and Theresa waited impatiently for the creeping
disease to make way with her.  Meanwhile Theresa employed the time of
waiting to good advantage.

Packed away in a chest in her room was a great quantity of hemstitched
linen, doilies, spreads, embroidered curtains and what not.  Indeed, it
was a question whether Theresa's means of attraction did not repose
solely in her needle; for these products of her skill, which she
displayed on every visit of Jeremiah, certainly had a killing effect
upon the fellow, with his bullet head.  And Theresa, destitute of every
feminine grace, gave herself airs on her handiwork as if it had been
beauty of person and feature.  They were a right curious pair; each
with the same air of eager avidity, as if tormented by a keen desire to
gain something, each with the same oily and ingratiating manner.
Rachel detested Theresa even more than she had detested Nora Gage, and
only consented to retain her because Simon seemed to desire it.  In
truth, Theresa worked in this house as smoothly and briskly as a
shuttle in a well-oiled machine.

For a time Rachel pursued her work, but presently her interest flagged
and she dressed herself for the street.  She was of two minds.  Instead
of going out immediately she ascended to the top story to take a peep
at Nicholas.  At her suggestion the old man's workroom was now on the
third floor and it was no longer necessary for him to descend a flight
of steps to his chamber.  Also, his meals were all served to him in his
workroom.  Without comprehending the cause of his greater comfort, the
old fellow cherished a whimsical and flighty affection for Rachel;
while Simon was humbly grateful to her for this interest in his erratic
parent.  Now the only time Nicholas was obliged to attempt the stairs
was when he went for an airing.  On certain days of the week, if the
weather were fine, a man nurse appeared and conveyed him to the street
and remained with him in the Square.  From these excursions Nicholas
never returned without some token for Rachel.  Now it was a cornucopia
of popcorn which he had bought from a vender; later, as the spring
advanced and grass began to show along the paths, it was a cluster of
leaves and buds; not infrequently it happened that he treasured up and
presented to her particularly handsome specimens of insects mounted on
pins.

If truth were told, little and lithe and still spry, this old
reprobate, with his eagerness regarding the habits of the house-fly,
his raptures and his rages, came nearer than any other person in the
house to being keyed to the same pitch as Rachel herself.  If rumour
could be trusted, a number of discreditable experiences had made up
Nicholas's life.  He had gamed and drunk, driven fast horses, followed
fast women.  He had conducted one thriving business after another, and
among them, the car shops that had employed old David.  He had made
fortunes with ease and lost them with equal facility.  Now, in his last
years, he was penniless and Simon was engaged in patiently paying the
debts Nicholas had contracted; but for this, be it understood, he
received scorn rather than gratitude.

As a result of his evil ways Nicholas, in the early years of his
marriage, had broken his wife's heart.  Her patience had annoyed him,
and, had she shown more spirit, her fate might have been a happier one.
As it was, she had slipped out of life, mown down with grief as grass
is mown with the scythe.  And Nicholas had made scant pretence of
regretting her, just as he made scant pretence of approving his son.
Simon had early betrayed a lack of zest for life--a trait his father
could ill tolerate.  Therefore, with taunts and gibes, he had made
Simon's life miserable through boyhood and early manhood.  At first, it
may be, he thought by this method to kindle some spirit in the lad, but
failing to strike a spark--for Simon remained through all pale and
silent, a human riddle to the father,--Nicholas had continued his jeers
for sheer malicious joy in the practice.  Even now his wit kindled at
the thought of Simon, and sure of an appreciative listener, he would
make clever satirical remarks about him to his niece, Julia Burgdorf,
whenever she put in an appearance.  And Julia would match these
sallies.  To this joking Rachel, in a storm of anger, had endeavoured
to put a stop.  Now when the pair exchanged their witticisms, it was
out of her hearing.

Though this old man bore not the slightest resemblance to old David,
his age and animation endeared him to Rachel.  Then he had once helped
her grandfather, a thing she never forgot.

Now his voice, which leaped constantly to a childish treble, reached
her before she gained the stair's head.  A stuttering of the words of
his ditty, decided her to postpone her call.  Owing to his excitable
heart and his years, liquor was forbidden the old man.  Resolving to
take the housemaid sharply to task for giving Nicholas whiskey, Rachel
descended the stairs.  Through delicacy she never spoke to Simon of his
own or his father's failing.  When moved to disapproval of her husband,
as she had been that morning, her only reproach was a look.  A
childhood passed among fishermen had taught her tolerance for this
particular weakness.

When Simon returned at lunch time, she was nowhere about and he was
forced to sit down to the table without her.  But she entered before he
had finished the first course, and taking her place opposite him, began
slowly unfastening her jacket.  Wishing to please her, he launched into
a description of St. Ives's _pyrometer_.

"We melt up different alloys to get the different colour effects," he
concluded, "and the colour and intensity of the light bear certain
definite relations--"

Rachel opened her eyes: "Then it's a success, is it?"

Simon avoided her gaze.  "Why yes, certainly.  In fact," he added,
"it's a very ingenious device.  A trifling thing, you understand; but
it is an instrument for which there is a definite need, and for that
reason I should judge he might possibly be able to do something with
it."

Rachel nodded.  "I see.  Now Simon, I'll tell you what I've done; I've
just been out and sent notes by messenger to Mr. St. Ives and his wife,
and to Emily Short, asking them to come this afternoon and stay to
dinner.  Tell me, did I do right?"

Without visible effect Simon had tried to shape her to more
conventional standards.  Rachel exhibited as much independence as
before their marriage.  Now he replied a little wearily:

"Why of course, though I should have considered that the case scarcely
required anything as complimentary, in a social sense, as an invitation
to dinner."

"And why not?" she flashed back hotly.  "Though when it comes to that,
I don't wish to compliment Emil St. Ives; I wish to _help_ him.  Heaven
knows, he's egotistic enough.  But you don't realize," she pursued in a
softer tone, "how helpless he is.  He needs someone to advise him, or
he'll spend himself in a thousand useless ways; someone to take an
intelligent interest in him."

"He has a wife, hasn't he?"

"I said _intelligent_ interest."

"But I assure you, my love," he began, "that I'm by no means the proper
person--"

However, before he left the house he had promised to return earlier
than was his custom in order to further his wife's plan.

In the course of the afternoon Rachel received a note from Emily Short
explaining that she could not be present at the dinner.  The note
concluded: "You may remember Betty Holden.  I think you were with me
one evening when she came in.  Poor child!  Fortunately her baby never
drew breath.  She's to be taken this afternoon to Bellevue and I've
promised to go with her.  I shan't get away early for she's in a great
taking and no wonder.  The landlady at the place where she boarded
threatened to put her into the street.  Poor soft defenceless things,
besieged both from within and without, there's small chance for the
Betty Holdens."  This news at any other time would have stirred Rachel,
but now she had no time for reflection.

Emil and his wife arrived promptly at five o'clock.  Enlivened by hope,
Annie was looking especially pretty.  She had arrayed herself in a gown
she had so far held in reserve, and had donned her rings which
glistened like dew on her thin fingers.  But Rachel gave small heed to
Annie.  She had counted on turning her over to Emily, telling herself
that the toy-maker's companionship would benefit the lackadaisical
girl.  But now this plan was frustrated.  Conducting her guests into
the chamber which she had converted into a sitting room, Rachel
established Annie in a corner and furnished her with several books of
engraving.  And thereafter, with undisguised eagerness, she gave her
own attention to Emil.

She had weathered a tempest.

In youth the blood flows warm, and the unexpected meeting with her
former friend when she was off guard, when she was excited by her first
opera, had produced a storm.  But the storm had passed, the last gleam
of lightning and rumble of thunder had ceased and the air was clearer
than before.  So she was convinced.  She denounced herself as an
inflammable creature, and turned with renewed allegiance to her
husband, dwelling desperately on her gratitude and esteem.  Finally,
sure of herself and luxuriating in a sense of renewed activity, she
fancied she could serve Emil as simply as she would serve another
friend.  Nor did she see in the attempt Love in one of its
multitudinous disguises.

The room, which was long and shadowy, overlooked the Square.  She led
the way to a divan under a window and motioned Emil to a place at her
side.

"Now," she said, "I want to know just where you stand with your work?
Tell me what you have done--what you intend doing--all," with an
expansive gesture.

He followed it closely; then glued his eyes to her fingers.  For some
reason he was displeased at this abrupt buckling to a subject that
ordinarily would have received his ready endorsement.

"But are there not other things to talk about--first?" he suggested.

"Not of so much importance."

"No?"

"No."

The gentle rebuke only incited his dominating nature: "But I should
like to ask--  For one thing, you know you treated me shamefully,
Rachel, when I left Pemoquod."  He dropped his head to a level with
hers.  Into his voice had crept the old dangerous and caressing tone.

Amazed at the double temerity of the use of her name and the allusion
to the Past, she returned his look, flushing uncontrollably.

"Why did you do that?" he pursued, enjoying her embarrassment.

"I--I do not recall it," she said and flamed yet more to the lie.  "And
hereafter, please remember I am Mrs. Hart."

She had a grip on the reins and he must heed the sharp tug, though he
still chafed under the restraint like a restive horse.  "And now we'll
speak of another matter--your work;" she continued.

"It's two years since we've seen each other," he remonstrated sulkily.

"It's nearer three," she might have answered, but checked the words.
Instead, severely: "You ought to have something to show for that length
of time."

"I have something."

"So I supposed.  Now tell me."

And gradually with those arts known to woman, she subdued the quondam
lover and roused the genius.  Yielding to the flattery of her attitude,
which was one of keen interest in his work, he was soon discoursing
enthusiastically on the subject she had prescribed.  A fish in the
water or a bird in the air could not have been more at home than was he
in her presence.

Thus they talked till twilight fell and the maid came in to light the
gas: and they were still deeply absorbed when Simon appeared.

He stood for a space, his face a blur of white in the doorway; then he
came forward into the circle of light.

Instantly three heads were raised, Rachel's and Emil's abstractedly,
Annie's with a distinct expression of relief.  She had soon wearied of
the books of engravings with which Rachel had thoughtfully supplied
her, and the volumes were piled on the floor beside her chair; all save
one, which she still held listlessly in her lap.  She was pleased at
the interest Mrs. Hart exhibited in her husband's work, for a word
which she caught now and then, had convinced her of the topic of their
conversation, and her jealousy had not been aroused.  But she was weary
and she now stood up with a pretty air of welcome for Simon.

He shook hands with her cordially.  Then crossing the room, he shook
hands with the inventor.

But Emil scarcely waited to answer his few studied words of greeting;
instead, he settled himself immediately at Rachel's side, and rumpling
his heavy mane with his fingers, he stared dreamily.  "The next thing I
completed was the _electrometer_," he said, and Simon noticed that
Rachel wrote the word "electrometer" on a tablet she held on her knees.

He returned to Annie and until dinner was announced, he talked to her
in his low even tones.

Dinner brought the party into no closer harmony.  Rachel, with a
carnation blazing in her hair and her dark intelligent eyes speaking
more swiftly than her lips, still talked to Emil; and Simon, concealing
every trace of annoyance if he felt any, devoted himself to Annie.
After the meal, he even proposed playing to her on the pianola, and
Rachel, knowing that he was very fond of performing on the instrument,
allowed him to go through two pieces in his usual faithful uninspired
manner.  Then she approached him.

"Come Simon," she said, laying hold of his hands.  "You know why I
asked them here," she added in an urgent whisper as he made no move to
rise.  "He is the inventor of all these instruments," and she displayed
a list.  "But he hasn't the remotest idea what steps to take in order
to get the right people interested.  Now can't you give him letters to
different men, Simon?  Come--you can think up some plan if you try!"

Simon Hart had not the slightest interest in Alexander Emil St. Ives;
moreover, in general, he was ignorant of the matters upon which the
other required advice.  However, he yielded; subsequently he was
influenced to the point of going several times to visit the inventor;
later, he organized The St. Ives and Hart Company of which he himself
was the president.  All this he did because of the imperious, and at
the same time, pleading look in a pair of dark clear eyes.

By the end of the year the house in Washington Square had undergone a
change.  This change had nothing to do with the renewing of bricks or
mortar, or the altering of any outward feature; materially the
residence remained the same.  Never the less, it was now connected with
a certain loft in John Street by a subtle, tenuous web.  In this web,
love,--unacknowledged, innocent, strong as death, thrown out from a
woman's heart and returning ever to it,--was the solitary thread.



CHAPTER II

CONTINUATION OF THE HISTORY OF A GENIUS

As might have been foreseen, even after the formation of The St. Ives
and Hart Company, the world continued in ignorance of Emil St. Ives.  A
few devices composed of shining brass, crystal, and wood occupied a
modest amount of space in one of Simon Hart's shop windows, and
occasionally men of science, attracted by their ingenuity, made
inquiries about them; oftener than not, they returned to watch them in
operation, again and yet again.  But the great public took no interest
and never made inquiries; the great public was interested in improved
stove-handles and door-locks and the rescue of discarded tin cans, and
gave not a thought to Emil St. Ives's little instruments.

But in heaven, or more properly speaking, the world of complete
objectivity which lies close about this and which only gifted minds
prematurely penetrate, there was excitement after excitement, all
produced by the childlike monster, Emil St. Ives.  He had to his credit
an instrument for recording colours in the atmosphere, another little
instrument for recording the vibrations of the air occasioned by sound,
and numerous temporarily useless devices which were calculated to
delight those who came after him, but which were entirely unappreciated
and unapprehended by the age in which he lived.  None the less, his
happiness was extreme.

The John Street loft, to which he and Annie had removed on the first
hint of improvement in his fortunes, was spacious; and here, under a
sky-light which glistened beneath the sun in pleasant weather and was
befogged by rain and snow when the weather was inclement, he lived and
worked.  He ate irregularly and slept little.  When he slept, in order
not to waste time he was in the habit of entrusting the problem upon
which he was engaged to his subconscious mind.  Then after a sleep of a
few hours' duration, he would wake, and on first opening his large,
speculative eyes, would oftener than not see in mid-air the completed
instrument working perfectly.

The loft, which chanced to be singularly habitable, was divided by
partitions into four rooms.  In order to be removed as far as possible
from the sound of the pounding and drilling, Annie had taken up her
abode in the rear room, which, besides the bay in the ceiling, had a
large window looking upon a court.  Below, in that scrap of earth, a
maple tree had taken root and flourished to such a degree that its
topmost branches came opposite the window.  In the branches of the
tree, a robin had built its nest.  But Annie paid little attention to
the tree or the robin.  Though she wept less than in the past, she
complained more; her lips drooped and her tongue had acquired
sharpness.  When with her hands resting on her slight hips, she
remonstrated with Emil, her scolding sounded exactly like the chatter
of an enraged bird; indeed, she looked more than ever like a bird.
Though she occasionally might have managed to buy herself something
new, Annie no longer troubled herself about her clothes.  What was the
use, she argued, since Alexander persisted in living in an attic; and
in any case, was it not wiser to save every penny toward the rent,
since he was so erratic in his methods of work, and insisted on making
impractical things for which he used up all his salary?  So Annie, a
greater part of the time, lay on a sofa and sulked.  In her inactivity,
she was a contrast to Emil.

The corner of the loft in which the inventor spent most of his time was
furnished, in addition to a workbench, with a cot upon which he slept,
a disreputable-looking chair in which he rested when he was not pacing
the floor, second-hand bookcases in which he kept his inventions and
his library, a basket for the monkey, and a three-legged stool upon
which Ding Dong could perch himself when so minded.

But Ding Dong, day or night, seldom had time to rest; and where he
slept was a question; sometimes, without doubt, on a square of carpet
outside his master's door.  Willing, devoted, pathetic in his
resemblance to a dumb brute, Ding Dong was an extra pair of hands and
feet for Emil.  He could scrub and sweep and make coffee, he could lift
heavy machines in his sinewy arms, he could pack boxes and run errands;
but he could not drill or hammer or saw with any accuracy.  Though the
field of his usefulness was limited, he was invaluable to the inventor.

The atmosphere of unparalleled devotion which this humble creature
threw around him was agreeable to Emil; and the same could be said of
Annie's love.  Whenever he observed it, his wife's faithful affection,
contributing to his egotism, helped him to work the harder.  And so
again with Rachel Hart's intelligent and unwavering interest in his
progress; her interest so stirred in him the creative impulse that he
sped ahead like a fiery steed under the plaudits of the arena.  On the
whole, Emil received much from the people surrounding him; and yet, in
the last analysis, their devotion was not essential to the "un-named,
seeing, acting, produced being" that constituted his genius.

When at work, in the depths of his eye lurked the consciousness of a
world; but in his mouth and chin was something less perfect and more
human; they looked as if they had been slighted by the sculptor who
fashioned him.  For the rest, an almost supernatural serenity marked
his manner, despite the often convulsive manifestations of his energy.
It was as if a god drove the chariot of his forces.  If allowed to
emerge gently from this state, he was unfailingly good natured; but if
broken in upon abruptly, "care, genius, and hell" distorted and
illuminated his face.  Pausing on the threshold of that narrow gateway
between the world of thought and the world of materiality, Emil St.
Ives was a demon.  Annie, bent upon some trifling business of her own,
had one day ventured so to interrupt him; the offence had never been
repeated.

As has been hinted, conscience played no part in him.  For Annie, for
Ding Dong, even for his employers, when the mood for work was upon him,
Emil showed not the slightest consideration.  Nor was Rachel, in this
respect, an exception.  Whatever his attitude was toward her--and he
bore himself in her presence at moments with a strange humility, at
other times with an ill-concealed turbulent admiration that threatened
to break all bounds--her influence at this period had well defined
limits.  His mother alone had uninterrupted power over him.  At a word
from her, even though he were on the eve of inspiration, he would drop
everything to fulfil her slightest whim.

Small wonder then that the mother adored him,--that she saw in him a
gifted creature not to be approached by the common run of humanity.  It
had come to be Emil's custom to visit his mother at least once in a
fortnight, and, from the moment that they met, those thin hands of hers
had power in their caresses to transform him.  Under their gentle
touch, the fire of his mind dwindled, the warmth of his heart grew; the
genius of a world was submerged in the son of a mother.  And on Mrs.
St. Ives their companionship had an opposite effect.  Questioning him
about his work, her brain in his presence acquiring something of the
agility of youth, she lit herself at the flame that was in her son.

Naturally the neglected Annie was jealous of this love.  She never
missed an opportunity to pick a quarrel with her husband on the subject
of his devotion to his mother, but it was seldom she could provoke a
retort.  Emil bore her reproaches indifferently.  One morning in May
matters reached a decisive point.

At midnight Emil was off, bound for the village that drew him like a
magnet, and some hours later Annie sat over breakfast.  She sat in one
of the interior rooms, which was fitted up with a gas-stove and a few
household necessities.  Being left by herself frightened Annie.  The
janitress of the building, a good motherly soul, had orders to look out
for her in Emil's absence; but the woman had gone about her duties some
time earlier.  Now, except for Ding Dong and the little chattering
monkey, Annie was alone.  Ding Dong, who had taken upon himself the
duties of cook in this establishment, tried to tempt her with choice
bits of food and Lulu made constant timid advances toward her
friendship; Annie would look at neither of them.  She saw in them a
summing-up of the unusual, wretched and ridiculous situation.

Now tears rolled down her face.  Why had she left home?  Why had she
married Alexander?  This was the constant refrain that beat in her
brain.  All things considered, the imperturbable inventor could
scarcely have chosen a more unlucky moment to appear.  The door opened
and there he stood.

Smiling, he entered the room, and at the account he gave of his
movements, Annie's eyes gleamed with anger and the muscles of one cheek
twitched.

"Well," he explained, tossing aside his hat, "Mother was all right.  I
saw her through the window, and then I managed to get the next train
back.  You see, it was raining when I got in this morning," he went on,
"and had I let Mother know I was there, she'd have been out to meet me,
if she got her death for it.  So I took only a look at her.  There she
was with the tiresome brats tumbling all over her, enough to wear her
out, but she looked as cheerful as could be.  Only six o'clock, and the
whole lot of them waiting for breakfast!  By Jove, but Edgar's family
get up betimes! it's part of his confounded thrift.  Breakfast and
lunch at one sitting is more to my mind," and Emil approached the table
to pour himself a cup of coffee.

But Annie was quicker.  Seizing the coffee-pot, she held it behind her
at imminent risk of spilling the contents.

"No, you shan't have it," she cried.  "I'm sick of your performances,
and I'll not put up with them.  You say you went to your brother's?  If
you did, why didn't you go in openly?  Edgar's not a wolf, I suppose.
From all you tell me, he lives decently in a house, which is more than
we do; and they have nice things.  He's a wealthy man and your meeting
might have led to something--instead of that, you take an expensive
trip, just for the sake of peeping through a window at your mother,
when you saw her only a few days ago.  And then you come back here,
thinking only of her, always of her--and you expect to go on eating and
drinking--"

Emil viewed his wife in troubled astonishment:

"And why shouldn't I eat and drink?"

"At my expense;" she finished; "for you owe everything to me.  If it
hadn't been for me, you wouldn't have even what you've got.  And now
when I've nothing more to give--"  Dashing the coffee-pot on the table
and huddling her hands over her face, Annie escaped from the room.

For a few minutes Emil remained without stirring.  The look of
amazement in his peculiar eyes was succeeded by a slight darkening of
his whole face.  But he was never actually reached by Annie's flashes
of anger.  They seemed to him like little storms taking place at a
great distance.  Now with a shrug of the shoulders he began tranquilly
to eat his breakfast.

He could not remain insensible to his brother's continued antipathy;
therefore, that he might not be reminded of it, he never put himself in
the way of seeing Edgar.  What would have been the use?  Between the
now flourishing merchant and himself, there was even less in common
than formerly.  They would not have found a word to say to each other.
And his mother, who had at first sought feverishly to bring about a
reconciliation between them, now did all she could to prevent their
meeting.  Had not Edgar told her that he would never receive him, Emil?
Had he not warned her that if she tried to foist Emil's presence upon
him, he would insult him to his face?

At times Emil was tempted to urge his mother to leave his brother's
house and cast in her lot with his own, but remembering his
uncomfortable quarters and the openly hostile Annie, he was driven to
silence.  The one thing that consoled him was the thought that at least
his mother was comfortably housed where she was; at least she was happy
in her grandchildren.  So the pair, kept apart by poverty, continued to
meet like lovers.  Anything prettier than the eagerness with which the
little old woman went to a rendezvous with her favourite son, it would
be impossible to imagine.  In vain, actuated by a wish to torment her,
Edgar's wife and even the children, put obstacles in the way of the
meetings.  Now it was a jacket to be mended which was brought to Mrs.
St. Ives at the exact moment of her setting forth; it was a sheet to be
hemmed, or a stocking to be darned.  With every faculty alert, she
always circumvented her annoyers, never failing to meet Emil at the
appointed spot.  This slyness, which is a part of love, brought back
her youth.

Had the conditions of her own life been other than just what they were,
Annie might have found in Mrs. St. Ives a staunch friend.  Now she
hated her mother-in-law.

For a time after her angry outburst, she lay face downward upon the
bed.  But presently, having wept herself into a repentant mood, she was
all for running to Emil and putting up her tear-stained face for a
kiss.  In fancy she pictured him still sitting discomfited; and,
trembling with a desire to make peace, she slipped into the passageway.
But Emil had quitted the scene of the breakfast, and a glance at the
table revealed the fact that he had eaten his fill.  Annie passed on to
his workroom and, at what she saw through the door, rage, bitter and
stifling, once more filled her breast.

Annie had never said a word to Rachel of Emil's constant shortcomings
in relation to his company; "But I'll tell her now, I will tell her!"
she whispered.  She was convinced that Rachel's belief in Emil could
not be shaken; therefore she would gratify her desire to expose his
faults without further result than putting him to shame.  So she
argued.  But as usual, where her husband was concerned, she reasoned
wildly.  As sensibly expect a bird of the air to drop its eyes in
acknowledgement of a fault, as expect the inventor to show
embarrassment for what he had done amiss or failed to do at all.

As it chanced Rachel put in an appearance that afternoon and Annie flew
to her.  She caught the other by the hand and drew her into her own
room.  Then she subsided on the sofa and burst into tears.

"What is it, Annie?" Rachel asked.  She had never been greatly drawn to
Annie, perhaps for some reason she would have died rather than admit.

Annie was nettled.

"Nothing's the matter.  Did you bring any message from Mr. Hart?" she
asked, drying her eyes with an assumption of dignity.

"Yes; the telephone at the shop is out of order, and I told him I'd
come round and deliver this note.  See here, Annie," Rachel interrupted
herself, "tell me what's bothering you."

"Oh--it's just Alexander!" returned Annie, and without more persuasion
unburdened herself.  "You see what my life is here?" she wailed.  "And
we might live so differently if Alexander wished--if he cared--if he
even did the things he ought to do in connection with the Company; if
he wasn't a fool, in short.  Now take that _radiometer_," she went on,
"you know as well as I do that it's considered wonderful.  Well, only
yesterday, your husband sent someone from Columbia University to
inspect it; the college thought of getting one.  Emil was out, so I
showed the gentleman the old model, for the new one isn't done, and I
was just thinking what we'd make on the sale, when in comes Alexander.
'Oh, that's trash!' he cries.  'That ought to go in the junk heap!
Don't take that; I have something else on hand that will put that in
the shade completely.'  So," she finished in a tone between tragedy and
disgust, "the sale was ruined.  And if that kind of thing has happened
once, it's happened dozens of times."

"But the college will get the instrument eventually?" Rachel asked;
and, as she looked at Annie, in spite of her sympathy, she was
conscious of an inclination to laugh.

"Possibly, but we'll likely as not be dead, for Alexander goes on
perfecting a thing and perfecting it and the people can wait an
eternity and he doesn't care.  Sometimes," she concluded, "I'm tempted
to give it all up."

As she reviewed the situation, Rachel also for the moment was forced
into depression.  Similar complaints reached her from every side.
Scarcely a day passed when Simon was not moved to anger by some
shortcoming on the part of the inventor.  Now it was his failure to be
on hand at a critical moment to sign necessary papers; again it was his
mysterious disappearance from the city.  In fact, his unbusiness-like
methods placed the struggling company in many an embarrassing
situation.  More than once Simon had threatened to withdraw from the
enterprise and it was only her own persuasions that restrained him.
His faith in the inventor, never of the strongest, was clearly on the
wane.

"And you mustn't think it's just one thing," resumed Annie, putting
renewed pathos in her voice, "it's a whole succession of things.  Take
that Washington matter.  You never heard the rights of that, I'll be
bound.  And I'm going to tell you.  You remember, don't you, that time
a month or two ago when the Government showed such interest in that
_colour wave_ device, and the Company were so encouraged?  Well, your
husband thought it would be a good plan for them to send Alexander to
Washington instead of anyone else because Alexander could explain the
thing eloquently.  And he did explain it--to the wrong official.  He
went there, as I found out afterward from a letter, and demonstrated it
to the wrong man.  Then he returned home, blandly satisfied with
himself, and of course nothing came of the matter on which the Company
had built such hopes.  But I never said a word to explain it; I was so
ashamed."

Looking at Annie's little woe-begone visage, Rachel burst out laughing.

The other, however, stared at her angrily.

"I don't see anything to laugh at.  Alexander is enough to try the
patience of a saint; and I guess if you were married to him, you'd know
it."

Rachel's mirth vanished and the colour flew over her face.

After an uncomfortable pause, she took Annie's hand.

"You look too much on the dark side, try to be patient awhile longer.
Things may straighten themselves."  She pressed Annie's fingers.  "Now
tell me, shall I slip this note under his door, or shall I hand it to
him.  It's important."

"Oh, you needn't slip it under the door, you can just go right in and
put it where he'll see it; the door will be open fast enough.  A lot of
good that special lock does," Annie finished in a burst of scorn.  "Mr.
Mudge thought we'd better have it put on to protect Alexander from
dishonest people who come in and get him talking and then steal his
ideas.  But do you suppose he leaves the door closed?  Not a bit of it.
Why only yesterday he had the lock tied back with a string while he
poured all he knew into the ear of a man from that screw company across
the street.  A word of flattery and he forgets everything."

"Don't--don't tell me any more, please;" and as Rachel turned away
smiles rippled over her face.  Why could not Annie, Simon, Victor
Mudge, everyone, see that the inventor lived in another world and hence
was not amenable to the laws of this.  Nodding to Annie, who refused to
be won from her dejected mood, Rachel traversed the passageway, and
paused at the door of Emil's eyrie.

As Annie had pictured, the patent lock was out of commission and the
door stood wide open.  Placing her note on the corner of a desk where
he could not fail to see it, Rachel lingered on the threshold.  Had he
observed her, she could not have remained, but he kept steadily forward
with his work.

It was a rich pleasure to note every detail of the room--the sagging
couch, the shabby coat hanging against the wall, the table laden with
dust, bottles and tobacco boxes, the long bench, on the lower shelf of
which was ranged, with astonishing order, a multitude of tools.  She
drew a contented sigh.

The sun poured through the skylight and twinkled on the brass-work of
his darling inventions, enthroned behind the glass of an old bookcase.
Even while he slept, they peered out at him, these children of his
active brain.  And in every corner some mechanism was revealed, some
cunning, complicated thing of joints and prisms.

Rachel completed her inventory, then her brows suddenly rose and her
eyes with involuntary devotion fixed themselves upon Emil.  It was as
if she had saved him until the last for a closer inspection, like a
little girl who reserves her chief treasure for a leisurely examination.

Seated on a high stool, before a bench, he was at work, from his head
covered with its thick mane, the eyes burning beneath like coals, down
to his big feet, planted against a convenient shelf.  These feet hinted
at a force in him that urged him to make a rift in the wall of the
Unknown.

She remained for a long time motionless.  Then with a smile,
unfathomable in its freshness, its terror, its confusion, she turned
away.


There, rises a mountain peak--in silence, clouds, eternal snows!  The
sun beats on the snow and the sparkling snow responds to the light.
There is the laboratory of genius!

From the mountain roll downward, sometimes small streamlets, sometimes
mighty rivers.  These streamlets and rivers nourish the valley below
and even the cities out on the plain, these rivers nourish the world.

Yet the trees and shrubs at the base of the mountain suffer, for
sometimes instead of refreshing streamlets, avalanches of snow come
down.  At such times the bushes and trees cling together; with their
twisted branches and denuded roots, they whisper and moan execrations
on the mountain.

Close to the summit--in order to observe what is taking place
there--its foot in the snow and its head in the clouds, pushes that
imperturbable and daring little flower, the edelweiss.

Rachel climbed close to heaven in order to have sight of her love.



CHAPTER III

THE CONFESSION

One June morning in the second year of the existence of The St. Ives
and Hart Company, Emil entered his wife's room.

In order to be in range of the draught from the window, Annie had
pulled forward a couch.  Clothed in a shabby wrapper, open at the neck,
she was curled up languidly with her head on a cushion.  Emil gazed at
her while something like compunction blazed up in his eyes.  He amazed
her by sitting down by her side and drawing her to his breast.  Holding
her two tiny hands in one of his own, he caressed her hair and even
drew a pitying finger over the prominent cords of her poor little
throat.  Then he strained her to him, sighing as if from a full heart.

Annie burst into tears at this unexpected tenderness.  Twisting herself
around, she rested her cheek against his.

"You--you leave me to myself all the time, Alexander," she sobbed, "and
I've no one at all but you."

"Yes, yes, I know," he responded mournfully.

"And you don't talk to me about your work as you do to Mrs. Hart; and I
could understand as well as she if you would take the trouble to
explain to me."

"Well, don't cry, little kitten," he said, "I've come to explain
something to you now and I hope it will please you."

"How please me?" she asked.

"Well, I have an idea at last which I think will strike your fancy.  I
mean it's practical," he explained, "--has commercial possibilities."

"Are you sure?" she demanded doubtfully: "you aren't a very good judge,
you know."

"Never the less, I can't help knowing that anything in the line of a
novel improvement of a musical instrument like the organ,--in fact, an
innovation,--in these days is almost certain to succeed."

"Oh, Alexander, tell me!  Tell me what you have in mind!" and raising
her head from his shoulder she laid hold of his hand.

"What an excitable little creature it is," he said tenderly.  "Well,
it's a scheme for increasing the capacity for emotional expression in
an organ.  I shall manage to combine the vibrations of strings with
those of pipes by incorporating in the organ a complete piano action.
Do you understand?"

She nodded.

He laughed.  "A pile you do!  I shall combine them in such a way, that
by a separate keyboard the strings can be used for piano accompaniment,
and also can be coupled with the organ keys so that when they are
depressed, the corresponding dampers in the piano are lifted from the
strings to admit of their free sympathetic vibration."

"Oh!" said Annie, on a long breath.  "And you think it might mean a big
thing?"

"In a commercial sense, yes; in fact I think it's about certain to be
popular.  But in order to carry out the scheme I shall have to have
every chance for experimenting, you know," and he looked pleadingly
into her face.

"Of course;" she agreed, "but this place suits you, Alexander--you
always said that it did?"

"Yes, the place is all right," he answered, hesitating, "but I need an
instrument, you see.  So I--I've bought one," he added softly.

"Not a pipe organ, Alexander?"

He nodded.  "A second-hand one, very small, naturally, only two
manuals.  But even so, I shall have to pull out one of the partitions
before it can be set up."

"How much did it cost?" she cried, and her eyes and her mouth assumed
the appearance in her countenance of three little round holes of horror.

"Well, by paying cash for it to the church committee who put it up at
auction," he said in a low voice, "I got it for eight hundred dollars."

At these words Annie crossed to the further side of the room and
dropping into a chair, leaned her forehead against the wall.

Alexander looked at her with miserable eyes.  Her action was a thousand
times more disquieting than the volley of reproaches he had expected.

"They've come now, I think," he said after a pause.  "They're going to
hoist part of it up from the outside, and I hear them on the roof.
Don't feel that way about it," he implored.  "The scheme really is a
good one, Annie, and I'll make a success of it, I promise you.  I'll
get the eight hundred dollars back and any amount besides."

But Annie continued motionless and he approached her chair.  "I suppose
it does seem like a lot for us to put into it," he continued with
unwonted tenderness, "but it was a tempting bargain and as I couldn't
develop my scheme without it--  See here," he interrupted himself,
"haven't you told me often enough that I ought to invent something that
would prove to be a success; that I ought to do it to justify the
Company's belief in me, and especially Mrs. Hart's belief?"

Then Annie turned on him.  She even rose from her chair, the back of
which she grasped with a shaking hand.  "And it's to justify _her_
belief in you, is it? that you spent all that we'd managed to save?
Very thoughtful, I am sure.  _Her_ interest indeed!  I wish you'd never
seen her.  I hate her, I do, I hate her!"

"Annie!" he exclaimed, for her little visage was twisted out of all
semblance to itself.

"I do, I hate her!" she repeated.  "As for buying that organ because
you needed it, don't you suppose I know you've always hung around organ
lofts and even followed hurdy-gurdies on the street?  You bought the
organ because you wanted it.  Alexander, you--you leave me!" she
finished hysterically.

Abashed, Emil stared at her; then relieved at this outburst, which was
what he had looked for, he went to superintend the installing of his
luckless possession.  Since concluding the purchase of the organ the
wisdom of the step had appeared dubious to his unpractical mind.  Now,
had it been possible for him to transfer the burden of ownership, he
would gladly have transferred it.  But the organ, to another, would
have been an undesirable acquisition.  It was wheezy of tone and sadly
out of order, but this very condition was what had recommended it to
him, and he looked forward with exultant joy to restoring it to a sense
of perfection.

As no retreat was possible, between ruefulness and pride he lifted the
blue and gold pipes from the long coffin-shaped box in which they had
been packed.  Other parts of the organ, being less liable to damage,
were hoisted through the window.

When Annie emerged half an hour later, dressed for the street, the
passageway and the two workrooms presented a scene of indescribable
confusion.  Had she glanced in at the door of the larger room, she
might have seen the uncouth monster minus the ornamental front it
usually turned to an audience.  But she looked neither to the right nor
the left.  Despite the warmth of the day she had a veil tied over her
face.  The only signs of her distress were the damp blotches in the
material over the regions of mouth and eyes.  She had decided to carry
her story straight to Simon Hart.

When Annie reached the house in Washington Square, Rachel was mounting
the steps.  Simon had only just returned for luncheon and Rachel
conducted the visitor to his study, a cool dark room on the second
floor, and then stood by to listen to what the other had to say.

And Annie poured forth her tale.  Perched on the extreme edge of a huge
armchair, she was too carried away by her trouble to heed the presence
of Rachel, and as she finished, Simon, with a look of annoyance, was
about to express his sympathy when his wife laid her hand forcibly on
his arm.

"And why shouldn't he buy an organ?" she demanded, turning on Annie,
and it was evident from the light in her eyes that she was angry.  "You
are insane to look at the matter as you do.  Of course he had to have
the organ," she declared.  "May not an inventor be allowed the
necessary materials for his work?  And if the thing should prove a
success, as he thinks it may, and as I can see that it may, even from
Annie's hazy description, why then you two will be glad enough that he
got the organ."  And she glanced from one to the other triumphantly.

"But, my dear," her husband interposed, "you heard what Mrs. St. Ives
said; the whole point is that they are not in a position to afford it."

"But the Company is," Rachel answered and looked him directly in the
eyes.  The next instant she was a prey to shame, bitter and scorching.

With a glance of icy disapproval, he turned away from her, and she
hurriedly crossed to a window and began nervously to remove the rings
from her fingers.

Not a day passed but she thus surprised herself.  For the same emotion,
ever new, ever unlooked for, ever commencing afresh, constantly tempted
her into enthusiastic championship of Emil's cause.  Far from wishing
to disguise the feeling, however, now that she herself realized the
force of it, Rachel had often desired to speak of it to Simon; and only
the fact that he definitely and obstinately avoided the subject kept
her silent.

As a result of Annie's visit, the complexion of affairs in John Street
took a more favourable colour, while those in Washington Square assumed
a more tragic hue.  Annie, despite her bitter words about Rachel, was
not actively jealous of her.  Now she was comforted by Simon's
sympathy, which she felt; for between these two unhappy souls there was
a bond of shy understanding.  Also, Rachel's ill-considered words
produced a certain lightness in Annie and she concluded that they would
not be allowed to suffer because of Emil's extravagance.

Upon Rachel, the result of the interview was otherwise.  Seldom had she
experienced a more desperate mood than that which assailed her after
Annie had quitted the house.

More than once she went to Simon's study determined to speak her mind,
but the door remained steadfastly closed against her.

As it was Saturday, Simon did not return to the shop in the afternoon,
nor did he emerge from the study at dinner time, and Theresa, with a
sly rolling of the eye in her mistress's direction, prepared a tray for
him.  Simon always expressed his anger by an increase of coldness and
silence and by shutting himself up in this way.  "He's in there,"
Rachel reflected, "thinking and drinking."  And she preferred the
liquor, the effect of which she had often noted, to his thoughts, the
effect of which she could not calculate.  Until a late hour she heard
him walking backward and forward with irregular steps over the echoing
floor, and it was after midnight when his door opened and he descended
the stairs.  This was an old-fashioned house with a cellar and there
the wine was kept.  It was to the cellar she knew he had gone.
Determined to seize the opportunity of speaking to him, she threw a
wrapper over her nightdress and hurried after him through the darkened
house.  He had turned on the light in the hanging electric bulb, and
when she came upon him he was standing before a table on which was
placed a case of wine.  In all probability he had been drinking brandy
and was finishing with claret.  To her surprise, as if actuated by mere
thirsty impatience, she saw him strike off the neck of a bottle.  This
action in a man of his fastidious habits was big with meaning.  He
lifted the bottle to his lips, his head flung back.  He did not see her
until she touched his arm.

"Simon," she cried, "this can't go on!"

Thinking she referred to the liquor, he set down the bottle and
regarded her with an abashed and amazed look.  His long face, without
its usual mask, was fairly pitiful.  Later he would not be able to
forgive her for surprising him in this way.  But she was bent solely on
making her confession.

"Simon," she cried, laying hold of the sleeve of his coat, "I was wrong
in what I said this afternoon.  I own I was wrong; and I ask you to
forgive me.  But there should be no secrets between us and I have no
wish to disguise anything.  Simon"--and her eyes, usually serious and a
little sulky, flew to his face and clung there brilliant with
appeal--"you must know that my feeling for Mr. St. Ives existed before
I ever knew you; it is a part of myself.  I can't explain it; but it
does you no wrong.  And never could do you any wrong."

During this explanation Simon had grown paler than was his wont.
Pushing aside her hands and standing off from her, he had begun by
drawing his fingers nervously through his fringe of hair; but as she
proceeded, he became absolutely motionless and his face assumed the
lines of a tragic mask.

"I would not have things different even if I could," she went on; "I am
content with you and you know it.  But oh,"--and she threw, out both
hands in a gesture exceedingly simple and genuine,--"please do not
misconstrue what you cannot, perhaps, understand!"

But at this point he interrupted her with a violent movement that threw
the bottle of wine to the stone floor where the contents spilled in a
red flood.  "Once and for all," he cried, articulating the words with
difficulty, "I want you to know that I will not listen to your
analysis.  I may deplore your interest in--in St. Ives--I do deplore
it, but I do not wish to hear anything of it."

He had put a special accent on the word _interest_ and Rachel once more
closely examined his face.  Was it possible that he purposely
misconstrued the situation and chose to close his eyes to what he
believed--or had he understood her?  "For it is possible for a woman,
as well as a man," she told herself vehemently, "to love two, and to
love each differently."  Gallant, courageous little heart!  Thus did
she disguise the truth even from herself.

The wine pouring from the bottle had splashed the bedroom slippers of
light felt which she had slipped over her bare feet.  Now with a
movement, wholly womanly, she bent and tried to remove the spots by
rubbing them with her hand, while the loosened mass of her hair,
dropping forward, half enveloped her like a veil.

Simon's eyes gleamed, but he instantly averted his gaze.

"What do you mean by coming down here?" he said harshly.  "It is too
damp for you.  Go upstairs."

Rachel lifted herself and made a trembling movement toward him.  He
tried to ignore her; then seizing her arm, from which the loose sleeve
fell back, he pressed his lips to it once and pushed her from him.  "Go
upstairs;" he repeated in a voice which she scarcely recognized, and as
he turned away she saw that tears were forcing themselves from beneath
his tightly-closed lids and running down his convulsed face.

His repulse of her had been so violent that the hand which she flung
out to save herself was cut against the rough masonry of the wall.  In
silence she looked at the wound, and an infinite tenderness and pity
replaced the stern and mournful expression on her face.  Without a word
she mounted the stairs.



CHAPTER IV

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO STOP LOVING

For six weeks she kept steadfastly away from the place in John Street.
When by herself, she would often clasp her hands very tightly and raise
them above her head while sounds between sighs and sobs escaped from
her breast.  But from Simon she carefully concealed every sign of her
misery.  She strove to exhibit more interest in all that interested him.

Julia Burgdorf dropped in one evening and finding them together at the
pianola, pronounced them a model couple.  Julia had come to offer them
her country house on Long Island during her own absence in Europe that
summer.

"Gray Arches is a lonely, remote, romantic spot,--in fact, just the
place for a pair of lovers like you two," she declared looking from one
to the other with sarcastic amusement.

The place, which consisted of a large house, gardener's cottage, and
stables, had fallen but recently into her hands, she went on to
explain, and she had learned through her agent that it was somewhat out
of repair as it had not been occupied for three years.

"You can understand, Simon, that I don't want to bother about putting
it in shape this year," she concluded, "and as Mr. Gunther assures me
that the house can be occupied as it stands, I shall count it a favour
if you and Rachel will go and live in it as it is."

But Simon had no wish to be under obligation to Julia, and the matter
was settled by his agreeing to rent the place, an arrangement that
nettled her.  When she rose to go her cheeks were flushed.

Rachel accompanied her to the hall and, as she was leaving, Julia
turned and laid her hands on the other's shoulders.

"You _are_ a model couple, aren't you?" she insisted, with an
enigmatical smile in her handsome, dark, heavy-lidded eyes.

This smile, which gave her face a resemblance to Simon's, caused the
young wife to colour deeply.

Rachel's confession produced no change in Simon's attitude toward her.
He remained as attentive and considerate, and yet as restrained in his
manner as before, with the difference that he now made a point of
keeping her informed of Emil's progress.  The new organ attachment
promised so well that the Company were hopeful and the inventor was
supplied with every facility for proceeding with his work.  By
vibrating the strings of a piano by means of electrical induction,
rather than by striking them with hammers, a strange and ethereal
result was obtained, and these tones combined with those of a pipe
organ produced an effect absolutely novel in musical expression.

As Rachel listened to Simon's attempted description of the complicated
contrivance, she was obliged to bend her head over whatever work she
held, to conceal the joyous expression of her face.  Until Emil should
justify the interest shown in him, she could not help feeling
responsible, not alone to her husband but to all the other members of
the Company which had been incorporated without sufficient capital.

"St. Ives is even growing businesslike in his treatment of us," Simon
remarked one morning in a voice from which he carefully excluded all
trace of personal feeling.  "He telephoned very early to say that he is
called out of town by the illness of his mother.  If he finds that her
condition is serious, he may be gone some days.  So I think, my dear,"
he concluded, "you had better go round and see Mrs. St. Ives.  It must
be lonely for her there, and you might take her to drive."

An hour later Rachel showed herself in John Street.  Walking along the
passage she glanced into Emil's workroom where the organ now occupied
half the available space.  It was deserted except for Lulu.  Crouched
on the window ledge, she was pensively cherishing a maple leaf someone
had given her.  She had removed the substance of the leaf from between
the veins, now only its framework remained, and this she held closely
to her breast.  At Rachel's step she looked over her shoulder and an
inscrutable sadness appeared in her little eyes.

Rachel tapped at Annie's door, which was thrown open to her with
startling suddenness.  Annie was all ready for the street and a
suit-case stood on the floor.  The room exhibited the utmost confusion.

"Where are you going?" Rachel cried.

"To my father's.  He's written me several times saying that I may come
home if I'll leave Alexander; and I'm going to leave him and I'm never
coming back either."  A sob caught Annie's breath as she strove to
button her glove.

Rachel took the wrist and fastened the glove.  "But you're not going to
leave him now when he's in such trouble about his mother, are you?"

"Yes I am.  I offered to go with him this morning when he got word of
her illness, but he wouldn't let me.  He said I'd always been hateful
about her and I shouldn't trouble her now she was dying.  He insulted
me;" and stooping, Annie picked up the suit-case.  "Please let me
pass," she said with dismal dignity.  "You don't know what you're
talking about when you advise me to stay with him.  I'm no use to him,
he shows that every day; and why shouldn't I live comfortable?
Besides," she added, and she glanced about her apprehensively, "I'm
afraid here."

Hastening down the passageway, she entered Emil's workroom and pointed
through the skylight:

"They've been spying down here with a telescope ever since Alexander
left early this morning to see what he's working on."

The neighbouring office building was very tall and in one of the upper
windows the round eye of a telescope was to be seen.

"They manufacture organs themselves," Annie explained, "and first one
and then another of them has been hanging around here for a long time.
Now it's a fair-haired man with a pock-marked face and sometimes it's a
little black Jew.  They always have some excuse; but I've warned
Alexander."

"Why don't you cover up things?" Rachel interrupted her, and divesting
the couch of its Bagdad covering, she threw it over the metal plate,
strings and sounding-board of the piano which stood on the floor.

Annie cast a glance over her shoulder.  "You'd better cover up those
wires that pass through the wall," she said, "they're connected with
the battery and that's what they're crazy to find out about."

Rachel adjusted the covering; then she ran after Annie, who had gained
the outer door.  She caught her by the shoulders and twitched her
about.  "But why didn't you do it yourself?" she cried.  "What do you
_mean_ by not doing it, you--you little coward?  Your husband's a
genius; but that's all you care!"

Annie with difficulty rid herself of the other's grasp and backed off.
"I don't care if he's a genius a thousand times over," she cried
hysterically, "I guess he isn't the only one to be thought of!  Oh, he
had no right to leave me this way with the janitress and everyone
gone!"  Sobs rose in her throat.

Turning to the door, she ran out upon the landing; but Rachel's voice,
keyed to a pitch of indignation, pursued her.

"You would leave this place all alone, would you?  You are not even
going to close the windows but leave everything open?"

Annie made a helpless gesture as she descended the stairs.  "It won't
be alone; Ding Dong will be along in a few minutes and he'll attend to
everything."

Rachel remained staring after her for a moment; then, her eyes blazing
with disdain, she closed the door.  Pride kept her from bolting it.
Returning to the workroom she sat down beside the bench and
occasionally she glanced up at the telescope.  Though she told herself
that Annie had imagined the whole situation, she was relieved to find
that the watcher had forsaken his post.  As for the quarrel, it must
have been of a more serious nature than usual.  However, Annie would
not remain away for any length of time.

This was the noon hour and owing to a slight diminution in the roar of
the city the ticking of a clock could be heard through the room.  For a
time Rachel's face wore the scornful look it had worn in Annie's
presence, but gradually this expression gave place to undisguised
enthusiasm.  Taking the tools one by one into her hands, she examined
them, wondering about their use.  A radiometer on which Emil was
engaged in making improvements, stood at her elbow; drawing this to her
with both hands, she began patting it after the fashion of a mother
caressing the head of a child.  Finally she rested her hot cheek
against the polished surface and closed her eyes.  Lulu, who had been
observing her intently from the loftiest pipe of the organ, crept to a
position at her shoulder.  There, crouched amid a clutter of tools and
instruments, she continued to cherish the maple leaf.  Had an observer
been present, the two might have suggested to his mind a group by
Albrecht Dürer; for the sentimental look in the face of the little
animal was a droll reflection of the devotion in the face of the woman.
Presently a tear stole down Rachel's cheek.  She had just lifted her
hand to brush it away when she heard a step in the passage.  Thinking
Ding Dong had come, she turned to the door; but a large light-haired
man with a pock-marked face stood before her.

Both started.  The stranger instantly recovered himself.

"Good afternoon, madam," he said, removing his hat with a flourish;
"can you tell me if Mr. St. Ives is in?"

Rachel stood up; one of her hands rested on the piano sounding-board.
"No, he is not."

"Mrs. St. Ives, then?"

She made no reply.

The man stared at her uneasily.  "That is unfortunate," he said after a
moment, as if she had replied to his question.  "However, it doesn't
matter," with a smile, showing two rows of strong yellow teeth; "I'm an
expert mechanic and Mr. St. Ives asked me to step round and take a look
at a model he's at work on.  It's a piano attachment, and there's some
ticklish point about which he wanted my advice.  If you'll excuse me,"
he added blandly, "that is the model just behind you, I think.  I'll
examine it and make my report to him."

He advanced but Rachel did not alter her position.  The colour had fled
her cheek, but in her dark eyes a spark had kindled and this grew
steadily larger.  Until he was within a foot of her, she looked fixedly
at the dirty tie that encircled his throat; then as his hand moved to
twitch the drapery from the sounding-board, she suddenly lifted a
glance in which there was a menacing fury.

His arm dropped and a tremour passed over him similar to the quivering
that agitates the hide of an animal unexpectedly checked in a spring.
For a perceptible space, while the clock ticked monotonously through
the quiet room, measuring off the silence, he stood with his chin
thrust forward.  Then an ugly expression crossed his face and the veins
swelled in his forehead.

"I don't want to touch a lady, of course," he said in an under voice,
"but I came to examine that model and I'm going to examine it.  As for
you," and it was as if an oath spilled with the words, "you stand out
of the way.  Won't eh?" he exclaimed.

He shot out a hand.

But at that moment he was seized from behind by a pair of powerful
arms.  Fairly growling with rage, Ding Dong dragged the intruder to his
knees and the two rolled on the floor.  The confusion caused by the
scuffle was terrific.  Lulu, scudding to the top of the organ, uttered
shriek after shriek as she grasped frantically at her breast with both
hands.  Skirting the heaving forms, Rachel fled down to the street.

But one idea stood out in her mind.  As it chanced, an officer was
lounging near the doorway and she plucked his sleeve.  "Go--go up
there!" she cried, "St. Ives's workroom--a thief has just entered!"

Before she had finished the officer was mounting the stairs.

Her first impulse was to get into her carriage, which, with Peter on
the box, was waiting beside the curb.  Then reflecting that Ding Dong
could not speak a word to the officer, she returned to the scene of the
conflict.

Attracted by the sight of the officer, men and boys, scenting
excitement, flocked up the stairs from the other floors.  When Rachel
gained the door of the workroom the intruder was clearing the blood
from his face, and the officer, who evidently had accepted a bribe, was
swinging his club and ordering the onlookers to depart.  Still perched
on the organ, the monkey, to the delight of the spectators, continued
to chatter with fright.  Rachel looked at the officer.

"Arrest that man.  Why do you not arrest him?"

The officer ceased smiling.  "On what charge, madam?  He says he came
here to do some work; well, that's all right!"

"He came here to steal the idea of an invention."

"An idea?  I've searched him without finding anything of the kind."

At this fine piece of wit, the spectators, most of them beardless boys,
snickered.

"However, madam," the officer continued, "I'm willing to haul them both
to the station if you say the word, and I take it you're willing to
press the charge, that is, appear against him?"

"No,--I shall not do that," she said, pausing between her words, for
the light in which Simon would view the matter came to her.  "Is there
no other way?"

"None that I ever heard of.  If you want a man put in jail,--well, you
have to appear and tell why you want it."


She was in her carriage.  Sinking into the corner, she ordered the man
to drive home.  "And Peter, perhaps you'd better hurry," she added
after a moment.  With that small portion of her brain which was not
seething with anger and which persisted in considering that
insignificant feature of the affair, it seemed to her that the man who
had overtaken her and wished to question her, was in all likelihood a
reporter.

And when she reached home, in spite of her gloomy fury at the
frustration of her act of vengeance, the small apprehension persisted.
The newspaper man, when he learned of her identity from the bystanders,
would of course appear to interview her; and however justifiable her
action might be, she knew that Simon would not forgive her if any
publicity were given the affair.  To avert trouble, she decided to take
the afternoon train to Julia Burgdorf's country house on Long Island.
She had been there twice with Simon and a telegram to the woman in
charge would be sufficient.  Going to the telephone, she called up the
shop; but Simon was absent, and she urged Victor Mudge to have a
watchman sent to John Street.  Then leaving a note for her husband, she
started at once.

It was late in the afternoon when she arrived at Gray Arches and the
sun was nearing the horizon.  After dinner, which was set out for her
in a glass-enclosed corner of one of the arched porches that gave the
house its name, she went to the beach.

The ocean spread out before her with its salt, fresh scent; its
vivifying breath blowing upon the beach, piled up little hillocks of
sand.  Sitting on the sand, propped up on both arms, Rachel steadfastly
regarded the ocean and her mind returned to Emil.  The next day, being
Sunday, Simon would, no doubt, follow her.  Perhaps he would have
received further news of Emil's mother.  If she died, how would Emil
bear it?  As he had no philosophy, a great grief might wreck him.  And
what could he hold to?  Not Annie,--Annie was a broken reed;--not
herself,--Simon would not permit it.

Love was the powerful, mysterious, secret influence at work everywhere.
Undermining, building up, overthrowing, replacing,--it was like a
mighty sea penned in each fragile human breast.  Locking her hands
about her knees, Rachel watched the waves.  And the waves approached,
grew mighty, curled over, disappeared; approached, grew mighty, curled
over, disappeared.

It was about midnight when she rose.

"No, no, it isn't necessary, and I cannot.  I cannot!" she repeated,
lifting her face to the stars which seemed to rain down upon her a
beneficent and vital influence.

She was awakened early the following morning by a tap at her door:
"Madam, Mr. Hart is here.  As soon as it is convenient, he would like
to see you."

Rachel hastily dressed herself.  She believed she thoroughly knew her
husband, but she was amazed at the expression of his face when she ran
down the stairs.  He was standing in the little glass-enclosed end of
the porch, where breakfast was laid, and through the small panes she
saw the flowers nodding brightly.  He was looking toward the ocean
without seeing it, his brows contracted, his clean-shaven jaw and cleft
chin twitching slightly.  In his hand he held a newspaper.

She approached.  Another woman might have tried the effect of a warm
greeting, for it was a question whether, even in his present state, he
would have been able to resist her.  But Rachel scorned to make the
attempt.

"What is it, Simon?" she asked quietly.

For answer, still with averted eyes, he handed her the paper.

It was folded in such a manner as to exhibit an article surrounded by a
blue line.  The article was a short amusing account of the incident of
the day before, and in it the frightened monkey and all the odd
paraphernalia of the inventor's workshop played an important part.
Barring the headline "Jeweller's Wife hastens to protect Invention of
Young Genius," there was nothing even remotely offensive in it.

"Well?" she remarked, after running her eye over the article; then she
returned the paper.

For answer he twisted it into a ball and flung it from him.  "I will
ask you to remember hereafter," he said, speaking so rapidly that he
stammered, "the dignity of the name you bear.  I do not relish having
it exploited in this way."

"But what else could I do, Simon?  Should I have sat there calmly and
allowed that man to steal Emil's idea?"

"_Emil!_" he repeated, flushing with indignation.  "Is the protection
of that--that device of more importance to you than the protection of
my dignity?  You considered St. Ives, I grant that: that was to be
expected.  But you did not consider me."

"I considered you all---Emil, the Company, you, everyone; and what I
did was absolutely right, _absolutely_!  I insist upon it."

"For a lady your action was an unbecoming one," he declared icily.

She gazed upon him with flashing eyes from under contorted brows.

"You say this; you believe it? Very well then, misconstrue what I did
if you choose, torture me, doubt me!" she began fiercely.  But suddenly
her thoughts of the evening before returned to her.  Something
oppressive filled her breast and rose in her throat.

"But I do not doubt you," he said, checked by the intensity of anguish
her features exhibited.  He even put out his hand.

But seizing her head in both hands, she pushed by him and rushed
upstairs.

Her door was not opened until the next morning; then Rachel, all wild
and staring, threw it wide.  A low fever had set in.  Emily Short
arrived with her fund of common sense and her knitting work (she was
knitting comforters for her special charges among the children)--and
stationed herself at the bedside.

What surprised them all was Rachel's prostration which continued long
after the fever had left her.  Turning her face to the wall, she seldom
spoke.  When her husband entered the room, she looked at him sometimes
entreatingly, sometimes pityingly; one day, drawing his head down on
her breast, she wept over him.  Then she put him gently from her, and
for a long time after, lay like one dead.

Often in the night, when Emily Short, thinking that at last she slept,
bent over her, she discovered her lying rigid and still, with her face
bathed in tears.  One night in the third week of her illness, when
Emily came to the bedside, Rachel looked up at her.

"How is it possible--" she whispered.

Emily bent lower, "How is what possible, dear?"

In the silence of the room the words were breathed rather than spoken,
"--to stop loving?"

Emily gave a little start, she scratched her head with her crochet
needle; then the work slipped to the floor and she hid her worn face.

Rachel, folding her arms on her breast, stared with the dumb intensity
of despair at the circle of light which flickered on the ceiling.



CHAPTER V

LOVE BY THE SEA

The road to Gray Arches runs for part of the way past smart summer
cottages, but soon the spaces between the cottages grow longer, until
the road, ambling on through that bright seaside country, suggests a
string from which many beads are missing.  In fact for quite five miles
the road resembles a little empty, dust-coloured ribbon almost hidden
in the lush marsh grass.  But suddenly Gray Arches appears, the pendant
of the ornament of which the railroad station is the clasp.  However,
the pendant is no match for the clasp; for the station fairly shines
with paint whereas Gray Arches is as dull as a piece of old silver; the
windows of the station gleam like imitation diamonds, whereas those of
Gray Arches are the turbid green of clouded emeralds.  None the less,
the pendant is a handsome thing of princely value--a real mansion,
though an ancient one in a sad state of neglect.

Under a sky littered with huge cumulus clouds fleecy as cotton, the
house, in its wide lawn, seemed asleep.  But something besides the sea
out there, running up in little rippling waves to kiss the curve of the
sandy beach, for all the world like children clambering a mother's
knees,--something besides the sea was astir.  With his pale and
somewhat stealthy look Simon appeared in the glass door.  Then he
stepped out on the gravel path, and with his dignified and careful
tread, he began pacing up and down.  Up and down beneath the luxuriant,
low-hanging boughs of the evergreen trees that still wore their mantle
of dew, he walked.  Despite his deliberate movements, a half-concealed
eagerness showed itself in his eyes as he glanced from time to time at
an upper window shaded by a striped awning.  Presently he paused and
stooping, picked up a shell.  Holding it delicately between his thumb
and forefinger, Simon studied it as he would have studied a jewel.  But
the next moment he tossed it aside.  One watching him would scarcely
have judged that a singular happiness pervaded his meditations on this
particular morning, for his thoughts were written in cipher on his long
pale face.  He had some news for Rachel and was anticipating her
pleasure in it.

Simon's jealousy of St. Ives was now at an end, or so he believed.  He
had never felt that Rachel really cared for Emil, and now he told
himself with a sigh of thankfulness, that his hatred of the inventor no
longer existed.  During Rachel's illness, for which he looked upon
himself as in a measure responsible, the agony of contrition he had
experienced had obliterated the other torture.  St. Ives he had never
liked, nor did he like him now; but when he learned that the building
in which Emil's workshops were located was to be extensively altered
during the summer, and that these repairs would make it an
inconvenient, if not an impossible place in which to carry on important
work, he had acted at once.

In his present state of mind it had been a simple, even a gratifying
thing for him to arrange to have Emil and all that pertained to the
organ attachment, transferred temporarily to the gardener's cottage on
this country estate.  This action, defining his own position as nothing
else could, had brought with it an immeasurable sense of relief.
Morbidly constituted as he was, his own position in the matter was of
paramount importance to Simon, and so engrossed was he in this supposed
release from jealousy that Emil and Annie figured as scarcely more than
the necessary factors for carrying out a course of conduct he had
outlined.  That his mood was overstrained; that it was one of those
misleading, reactionary impulses to which sensitive peaceful natures
are particularly prone, he never suspected.  For the sake of
maintaining his present lofty attitude, Simon was capable of blinding
himself for a time to anything that might again threaten his repose.

By taking down a partition in the gardener's cottage, the organ had
been installed, and Emil and Annie were living there now in great
comfort.  Filled with reproaches and recriminations, the visit which
Annie had paid to her parents had been a mistake, but this the young
girl did not acknowledge; nor did she confess that, despite her
unhappiness with her husband, she was not able to live without him.
When Mrs. St. Ives had recovered from the illness which had attacked
her, Annie had rejoined Emil very simply; now in these new conditions
she was even growing fresh and pretty.  Simon, who had not been
unmindful of the young wife when he decided to make the arrangement,
could not help seeing that Annie was happier; and, for that matter,
that Emil was happier, too.  The inventor whistled shrilly over his
work, and whenever he heard him, Simon was conscious of the expansive
feeling that accompanies a generous action.

Presently there was the grating of a wheeled chair passing over gravel.
The chair had been left by a former occupant of the house and Emily had
found it, covered with dust, in one of the chambers.  Rachel's face was
as wan as the face of a martyr in a mediæval picture, though her cheeks
caught a tinge from the pink "cloud" wrapped around her head.  Her eyes
under their slender brows, held the old vivid passionate look, and her
mouth resembled a little bit of pale crumpled velvet in which gleamed,
all at once, the fascinating white of her teeth.

Simon approached; then, with a glance at Emily, he kissed his wife's
little, white, blue-veined hand which dropped so supplely from its
wrist.

"Take me down the path," she commanded.  "Oh, how heavenly this air
is!--and the sea!  Do you know, Simon, illness gives one a new pair of
eyes?"

Emily Short looked after the couple uneasily.  She had said what she
could to Simon to prevent his carrying out his absurd scheme relative
to St. Ives; she had objected as strongly as she dared on various
pretexts.  But Simon, bent on making clear to Rachel how completely he
renounced his former attitude toward the inventor, had turned a deaf
ear.  Now Emily imagined that he was announcing the step he had taken,
for from where she stood, she saw Rachel lift her head with a swift,
frightened air.  Then it slowly sank as though a weight had forced it
to her breast.

Standing in the keen sunlight, a little, lean, homely figure with a
worn face, Emily sighed.  She herself had never known love, yet she
sighed and knotted her fingers tightly together beneath her apron.

It was evident that Rachel did not wish to go in the direction of the
gardener's cottage, for they turned into another path.  Half an hour
later when she knew Simon had left his wife in order to catch his train
for the city, Emily went in search of the invalid.  She found her drawn
up in the shelter of a small, half-ruinous summer-house overrun with
vines which stood at one corner of the grounds.  As Emily approached,
she saw Rachel crane forward, with her hands gripping the arms of the
wheeled chair.  A wonderful unrestrained tenderness beamed in her face.

Passing not twenty feet away and visible through the intricacies of the
wall of leaves was Emil St. Ives.  The stuff of his shirt rippled in
the breeze and the material clung to his muscular shoulders; his hair
was in a tousle, his lips, surrounded by their curling beard, emitted a
gay shrillness of sound; he was whistling as a bird sings.  Abruptly
Rachel dropped back in the chair.  Without looking at Emily, she
signified a desire to return to the house.

Emily pushed the chair into the sunlight and the little group crept up
the path; while, all unconscious, Emil went leaping down the sands to
bathe in the sea.

During her illness, Rachel had been besieged by feverish thoughts.  Not
a phase of the situation but she had gone over innumerable times.
Finally her resolution was taken: she would see Emil no more.  The
decision was an arduous one and she raged to make it.  Love for one
man, overmastering love, as Nature wills it, was in conflict with
unswerving loyalty to another; and this latter feeling likewise had its
roots in the very foundation of her character, so that her woman's
heart had been for a season a disputed field, and the conflict had
protracted her illness.

But when she rose at last, pitiful tender, heroic,--all woman in that
she dreamed she had immolated the feeling that threatened the peace of
her husband--lo, the situation awaiting her put her plans to confusion.
Her husband's unexpected move had made her course a difficult if not an
impossible one.

For more than three weeks by employing every stratagem, she succeeded
in avoiding the inventor, and when the housemaid brought word, as she
did on several occasions, that both Emil and Annie had come over to
call on her, she pleaded weariness and refused to see them.  But as her
strength returned, this excuse failed, and she spent many hours with
Emily, who had been persuaded to remain and carry on her trade of
toy-making in an unused room of the house.  Had Simon permitted it,
Rachel would have returned to the city, but both her husband and the
doctor opposed the move on the ground of her recent illness.

It was a state of things which could not endure.

One morning Emil came upon Rachel sitting on the sand.  Worn out by her
efforts to avoid him, beyond turning her face obstinately in the other
direction, she made no attempt to escape.

As he advanced he examined her with his laughing eyes.  "So I've found
you at last!" he cried joyously.

After a moment, because there was nothing else to do, she turned her
face to his.

"But you're not much of an invalid, are you?" he cried an surprise, and
seated himself not far off.  "You look," he said, indicating the sea,
"as strong as those waves."

Hot blushes were uncommon with her, but now the unreasoning colour
mounted full tide beneath her tanned skin.  "Yes," she assented coldly,
"I'm quite myself now;" and she began taking the sand into her hands
and letting it trickle between her fingers.

"Well, why haven't you been over to see my new workroom?" he demanded
in a different tone, as he followed these movements.  "You don't take
much interest in your neighbours, it strikes me."

She steadily regarded the sea.  "So far I haven't done anything," she
said in a low voice, and then added, as if the words were forced from
her, "I shall go back to the city when the doctor will allow it."

"What would be the sense of that?" he demanded in amazement.  "Why it's
fine here!  Just the place for you.  Is it possible you don't like it?"

Rachel's lip curled slightly.  "Where's Annie?" she asked after a
moment's pause.

Emil turned his head.  "Why she's somewhere about; she came down on the
beach a little while ago."

"Won't you find her?  I should like to see her."

Nonplussed, he lifted himself from the sand.  After staring about, he
struck off in search of his wife.  But when Annie appeared by his side,
wrinkling up her face in the sunlight and holding out her hand, Rachel
had little to say.  Immediately afterward she left them.

A few days later as she was crossing the lawn, Rachel met Emil and he
accosted her.  This time there was umbrage in his tone.

"I say," he cried, and he placed himself directly in her path, "why
don't you ever come over and let me show you that organ attachment?  I
can play for you now, in a sort of way; in fact I'm quite a musician."

Again she avoided his look and attempted to put him off.  "I have
promised to drive over to the station this afternoon and meet Mr.
Hart," she said, "but I will come--sometime."

"But when?" he demanded, scowling at her, and his countenance was no
longer good natured but fierce and aggressive.  "You used to show some
interest in my work, but now you withdraw it all of a sudden--just like
a woman.  And I tell you, I can't finish the thing without it," he
concluded angrily.  "I can't go on alone--you've accustomed me to
something else."

A shiver ran through her like that which takes a young bird that feels
the air for the first time beneath its tentatively fluttering wings.
Her impulse was to sail away in the atmosphere of love his crude
unconscious confession breathed about her.  She dared not raise her
eyes because of the involuntary joy that filled them.

"I'll come over this evening with Simon," she said, softly.  And
everything about himself and about herself she loved passionately.

Life, by all of us, is felt vaguely to be a tapestry of which we see
the under side.  But now in a flash Rachel saw the pattern that Fate
was weaving imperturbably; a pattern premeditated from the beginning;
and well she knew that nothing she could do or he could do, could stay
that weaving hand.  Though no word of love was ever spoken, the design
in all its beauty was complete, for words and acts are human lumber,
unessential to the accomplishment of the spiritual miracle; present,
they follow the design inaccurately; absent, the design is seen the
clearer because of no gross accompaniment.  And Rachel wondered if Emil
saw at last what she saw; if he did not now, he would see,--he would!
And neither was any more responsible for the fact that filled the world
with new meaning than he was responsible for the fact of life.  From
these meditations she roused herself, emerging as from an enchanted
mist.

"I'll come over this evening with Simon," she repeated, and Emil, who
had been staring at her, drew himself up and reluctantly accepted the
promise.

When he moved away from her, his face wore an expression of
astonishment.

As Ding Dong had gone to the city on an errand for Emil and did not
return on the usual train in the evening, there was no one at the
cottage to pump the organ, for Simon evidently considered it beneath
his dignity to perform so menial a service.  He sat in a rocking-chair
near a window, and from time to time with a meditative eye, he scanned
the walls of the room which were decorated with mottoes and lithographs
in colours.  He was estimating the probable cost of replacing the
partition when Emil should have finished with the cottage.

The inventor, restless and keenly disappointed, went again and again to
the outer door, where he remained straining his eyes through the salty
darkness, though there was no chance now that Ding Dong would appear
until morning.  Rachel sat by a little table turning over the leaves of
a current magazine with her long fingers; she was impatient with her
husband and whenever Emil entered the room, she looked at him, and her
face between the loopings of her hair, had a faint, remote, mysterious
smile.

Annie issued from the kitchen and going up to Emil leaned against his
shoulder, and he nonchalantly encircled her little figure.  Instantly,
Rachel grew hot all over with a violent jealousy such as she had never
before experienced.

All the way home while she walked by Simon's side and felt beneath her
elbow his thin fingers supporting her, her hands beneath her cloak were
pressed against her heart.  Oh, the intensity of her love and the
paleness of his!  She had a picture of Life irrevocably linked to
Death.  With the vision came such a sense of desolation that, turning
her face aside, she sobbed under her breath.

The miracle was rapidly accomplishing; she was passing out of
herself,--out of her scruples, her pity, her fears.


She was wandering on the sands and knew not where she went, save that
the need for movement was imperative.  She had left Gray Arches far
behind.  What matter that from the dun-coloured clouds a slant of rain
descended, straight and fine as the locks a princess engaged in combing
her hair?  Secretly, noiselessly, the rain touched the sands, save at
intervals when a land breeze seized it; then these liquid tresses were
torn and tangled into drifting masses as by the hand of a rude lover
who violently seizes the locks of his mistress.  And the rain hissed as
it met the sands and ran away in little curling, twisting rivulets like
serpents.

Enjoying the caress of the moisture on her face, Rachel walked on.  The
vigour of her childhood was in her limbs, the spirit of it in her
heart, and she remembered her old turbulent longing for freedom.  But
love was the supreme liberator.  And in an ecstasy, she drew herself
together and her craving for this supposed liberation of the spirit was
so intense and penetrating, that she wavered uncertainly as if about to
fall.

At that instant, a voice, muffled by the falling of the rain and the
soft plash of the waves on the beach, reached her.  It came to her out
of the distance; but the space that separated her from him who called
was so great and the curtain of rain that divided them, at the moment,
so dense, that she could not see him.  Yet that voice in which no words
were distinguishable, quickened and reanimated her.  For an instant
with her arms curved fearfully above her head, she looked back.

A spot on that barren coast was growing larger, it was moving toward
her; and all at once the breeze brought her the message above the wash
of the waves.

"W-a-i-t!  W-a-i-t!"

Emil was hallooing, he was calling to her with his hand to his lips.
Suddenly he broke into a run, and the impulse of flight was
communicated to her.

With bated breath she sped before him, and she was conscious that he
took up the chase after a momentary pause of amazement.

Across those sands pitted by rain, once more the old race was run, the
exciting elemental pursuit of woman by man.  And as if in joy the waves
lapped the beach with a sound of applause, and the rain, as if
delighted at this return of happy antique life, now baffled and pelted
and blinded the pair, and now, in a lull, revealed them each to the
other.

Rachel's hair, escaping its bonds, streamed behind her; her skirts
impeded her movements; yet wildly, excitedly, across that expanse of
sand, she ran.  And the blood beat exultantly in her veins and she felt
that the goal toward which she was making was that fugitive band of
colour that persisted, despite the drifting mist, at the end of the
beach.  Through this uncertain band of colour, the sky, elsewhere dull
and scattered with clouds, appeared to be smiling with huge, mobile,
kindly lips.  Ah, if she could but bathe in the light of that
understanding smile which the sky cast over the beach!  A piece of
driftwood brought her precipitately to a halt, but instantly she was up
and away like a sea-bird.

He who followed with long strides was gaining on her, plainly he was
gaining on her.  With her skirts and her shorter stature, she was no
match for him.  Finally, with both hands clasped beneath her bosom, she
sank to her knees.  Her sight swam, she gasped for breath.  They had
traversed in this way a distance of a quarter of a mile.  The only
object in sight was an old fishing-boat, drawn up on the sands.  On
this boat her glance rested.  The next moment she saw Emil.  As he ran,
something emanated from him.

Instantly she was up; and straight and slim and fleet, she darted
across his path and was into the old fishing boat.  There was but one
oar, and, as she pushed off, a burst of fresh laughter gurgled in her
throat and illuminated her face.  The tide, in tantalizing fashion,
carried her beyond his reach and she saw him stop.  Then his eyes,
imperative and gleaming, like two fierce lights, sought hers.  After
that look he waded into the water; then swam.

Two or three strokes and he was beside the skiff.  When he grasped its
edge with his dripping fingers, that shone out white and strong in the
steadily increasing light, Rachel laid hold of his clothing.

Their heads were on a level--they exchanged a look.

Wild, flashing, dominating, it leapt from his face, all pale and
streaming with water, to hers; and all the secret of her woman's heart
mounted to her eyes; they were no longer mysterious, but frank as
daylight, revealing.

The sun which, like a curious watcher, had cleared the cloud-bank, beat
upon the sea in joyous fashion, and the waves beat upon the sand; and
all along the beach and in the air and in the waters under the boat,
there was a murmur as if Nature, the great mother, sighed in the
fulness of her content.



CHAPTER VI

THE INSISTENT PAST

As in death there takes place a loosening, a lifting, a withdrawing of
the spiritual part, so, too, in love.  The soul, made daring through
love, seeks to support a separate existence; but the attempt is
pitiful, doomed to frustration; for clamorous and insistent, the
ordinary conditions of life make themselves felt.  The descent in
Rachel's case to the normal state, wherein duties and scruples play
their part, was realized at the moment Emil climbed into the boat.

Before starting for the beach she had put on her head a travelling cap
that belonged to Simon.  It had been almost made way with by the wind;
but, still held by its long pin, it had slipped to her shoulders with
the mass of her hair.  Now, with the oscillation of the skiff caused by
Emil's movements as he drew himself from the water, the cap dropped to
the seat beside her, and thence was carried by a puff of wind to the
floor of the boat.  Not a garment of Simon's but closely resembled him;
this cap of hunter's green with a tiny stripe of red in the flannel,
was instinct with his personality.  As it lay before her, Rachel
shuddered and the expression that filled her eyes kept Emil from any
indiscretion into which the situation might otherwise have betrayed
him.  Before the mute appeal of her look he was powerless.

She crouched in the end of the boat and with a motion of the hand
indicated that he was to put back to the land.  Before obeying, he
wrung the water from the sleeves of his coat.  He was trembling and as
she perceived the power of his love, perceived the amazing and
terrifying force leaping out upon her from under his scowling brows,--a
sudden pity took her; and she dared not look upon him because of that
tenderness which is more disarming to a woman than her fear.

"Well, that was a race!" he remarked unsteadily.  "Are you tired?"

"Not very--a little."

"I'll row you home."

"With one oar?"

"There's another on the beach that you didn't see."

"I didn't take the time to look."

As the boat had drifted with the tide, the return to the shore was
accomplished with difficulty.  When he was once more seated opposite
her, rowing with even strokes, he noticed that she shivered and a
gentleness softened his face.

"You are very cold, aren't you?"

"The air has changed."

"Here, take my coat; it's soaking, but your dress is soaking too."

"It's--very heavy.  I don't see how you ever swam in it; it's weighted
down,--" and from the pockets she drew forth first a coil of wire, then
a wrench, then several drills.

He watched her and delight shone in his face.

"I could have swum the Atlantic in armour to reach you.  Do you know,
you look like a mermaid with your hair hanging down that way."  He was
laughing now and the old lazy fondness sounded in his voice.  Leaning
toward her he rested on the oars.  "Rachel, why did you run away from
me like that?" he asked, smiling confidentially, and suddenly one of
his hands went out to hers.

She drew back and for a moment enveloped herself in taciturnity, but
all at once, as if compelled, she brought a defiant glance around to
meet his.

"Why because you started to run--and I ran, too."

"Well, it's useless; you can never elude me again.  Do you know," he
continued, "it seems to me that this crazy race has been going on ever
since the first time I saw you in the mist?  Do you remember the day?
You were perched on a rock, I recollect, and the cow--you were leading
a cow--pushed up behind you in such a way that her horns curved up
about your feet for all the world like a little crescent moon.  I swear
it had that look.  Lord, but you made a picture!  Do you remember the
day?"

"Yes, I remember the time, but I didn't know I looked like that."

She opened her eyes very wide and her lips parted with the movement of
an expanding flower.  Vanity kindled in her face as light kindles in a
jewel.  There is in a woman's inner nature a sensitive something that
constitutes the very essence of her charm, that informs her physical
features with vivacity, with seduction.  The craving to have this
secret attribute recognized, causes her to discover in every compliment
a spiritual significance; causes her to wrap herself in its fancied
meaning, as in a shawl; causes her to live in it, breathe it in--in
short to discover in it an atmosphere of inspiration in which she
manages to exist for the briefest fraction of time.  Indeed, the
longing for the caress of words addressed to her very soul, is as
natural to an imaginative and ardent woman, as the longing for the
caress of light is to a flower.  And with Rachel, as with many another
young girl of New England traditions, the craving had never been
gratified.  Now Emil's praise of her was so alluring that she was
trapped into listening; had he paused for a word, involuntarily she
would have supplied it.

But he required no urging to finish his speech which dropped from his
lips with all the precipitancy of fruit from an overladen branch.

"You were just like a figure from some church altar," he told her
fervently.  "Your dress was blue, and the fog rolled about you in
clouds.  All the same, you know, your expression wasn't exactly
saintly; it was too--"

"Too what?" she whispered.

"Well, just what it is now," and with that he looked at her until she
was obliged to avert her eyes.

"I mean that your face is very innocent," he explained, "and at the
same time, it is all alive with--well, with a sort of curiosity.  But
to-day you were Diana of the Chase with your skirts all ruffling around
your feet and blowing to the side in folds.  However I'm not up in
mythology; all I know is, my own, you'll never succeed in fencing
yourself off from me again.  But don't look at me like that!"  And with
an indefinable glance at her as she sat, suddenly converted to
sternness, he took up the oars.

She observed complete silence, and for some moments all that was heard
about them was the ripple of the water as it met the sides of the boat.
The waves like a lover approached the boat, touching it lightly,
tentatively and timidly caressing it with eager lips.  But occasionally
waves larger than the rest seized the skiff and upbore it as in the
powerful embrace of arms, dipped and sank with it; while a sound of
multiplied kisses ran over the surface of the glancing ocean, which was
tremulous as a breast heaving with love.  And the influence of that
universal caress mounted to the air, which was like a stinging breath
crossed with tears of spray; even reached the low-stooping western
heavens where sailed largely great cloud masses, like huge embarrassed
lovers, that never the less, with a sudden darting of colour along
their edges, strange and fiery smiles, approached--melted softly and
completely into one.

The sea was a theatre and the play enacted on that broad expanse, in
the swiftly falling twilight, for the bewilderment of that pair of
human mites,--the play was Love.  For Nature, the great scene shifter,
who causes the mists to rise above swamps that she may bring about the
love and mating of midges, is the artist incomparable when she sets out
to glamour and bend to her will the least significant of these
struggling, valiant creatures called men, these creatures that dare,
with a law opposed to hers, to defy her.

Rachel had crept to the extreme end of the skiff and when the water
rose to the edge it often dashed across her knees.  Her head was flung
back, but for all that, she saw nothing.  She was holding her emotions
well in leash and the effort drew from her now and then a sigh.  Where
the fingers of one hand met the back of the other, for she had them
tight clasped, there were white marks on the flesh.  She sat before him
with the impassive countenance of an image, though internally she was
consumed with flames.

Time passed imperceptibly, but all at once she pointed to the shore.

"Emil," she said, in a muffled voice, "there's Gray Arches among the
trees.  The lamps are lighted.  Make haste."

He had been doubling on his course, and, unnoticed by her, even
striking out to sea, with the object of delaying the moment of landing.
Now the dusk, which had descended insidiously, was close about them.

At her words, he headed the boat for the shore.  But after an instant
he leaned forward.  "Before I take you in, I want you to tell me when
I'm to see you again."

She drew herself up: "I don't know when you'll see me--never, I think."
She spoke in a throbbing, suppressed way, exactly as if she were
forcing back from the edge of her lips and to the depths of her heart,
some secret.  "There is the pier; don't you see it?"

The young man nodded.  "Yes, I see it all right.  Rachel, I'm going to
Barbieri Brothers to-morrow to see how that marble-cutting device of
mine works.  Come there in the afternoon and see the machine with me,
won't you?"

She shook her head.

"Very well then," and he began paddling out to sea.

"You think you'll frighten me or annoy me," she cried, moved to scorn,
"but you won't succeed.  I can swim as well as you."

He laughed and the boat, quivering in a bewildered sort of way, once
more approached the land, noisily cleaving the water.

"Rachel, you'll come and see that machine, won't you?  I'll never ask
you again.  But it's an interesting thing, really it is, and they're
cutting the figures for the Century Library with it.  Can't you
understand that I'd like to have you see my work?  It isn't much that I
ask, and you can get the five o'clock train out here if you like.
Promise me you'll come."

Through the gloom on the pier she saw a lonely figure intent on the
antics of the boat.  She looked at Emil and the impulse of her
tenderness carried her beyond the barrier imposed by her will.  In one
instant she had passed beyond the outworks of her usual self.  When she
answered him in low, vibrant tones, it was a message, if he had but
understood, from the very depths of her heart:

"Yes, I'll come--you've no business to ask me, and I've no business to
promise; I'll come, but there must be no more of this; it's ended."
These words were at once an appeal and a command.

But Emil, ignoring the nervous shrinking that came over her, caught her
hand under cover of the gloom and held it to his cheek--his lips.  Then
cleverly, easily, he brought the boat to the pier.

The next instant Rachel was confronted by her husband.  Giving Emil his
coat, she stepped from the boat, refusing assistance.  As she swayed on
gaining the pier, Simon took hold of her arm; then passed his hand over
her shoulders.

"Why you're wet--you're wet through," he exclaimed, and as he turned to
Emil she noticed that he spoke in a manner unusually cordial and
spontaneous.  "So you were caught in the rain?  If you'll just step to
the house, St. Ives, I'll give you something to ward off a chill; a nip
of whiskey wouldn't come amiss."

But Emil, muttering something about returning the fisherman's boat,
disappeared in the twilight and Rachel, stumbling like one who walks in
a dream, accompanied Simon to the house.

"The rain won't harm you, my love," he was saying as they gained the
porch, "if you change your clothing at once.  It's remaining in damp
garments that's the imprudent thing."

As they crossed the threshold Rachel caught his hand.  "Simon, I--I
want to speak to you."  And half dragging, half pushing him, she urged
him into the front room.

This room was large and shadowy, with a row of French windows
commanding a view of the sea.  The shades were drawn and the light from
a small fire on the hearth sparkled on a glass dome beneath which were
placed specimens of sea moss and shells.  The dome stood at one end of
a long table and a candelabrum hung with glass prisms at the other end;
above one candle hung a red spark,--the wick needed snuffing.  The room
was damp.  As she spoke Rachel, passing her arm behind her, clasped the
glass knob of the door.

"Simon--I don't want to stay here any longer."

He confronted her in surprise: "Not stay here any longer?  Why, Rachel,
you astonish me; I thought you loved the sea."

"So I do--but this coast--it oppresses me.  Simon, I want to go back to
the city at once, do you understand,--at once; can't we move to-morrow?"

"But you're irrational, my dear.  In fact the doctor whom I saw only
yesterday, counselled just the opposite course.  He said to me,
speaking of you, 'the sea air is what she needs; she grew up in such a
climate.  You keep her on the shore until late fall!"

For a moment Rachel dropped her head against the panels of the door and
closed her eyes; then raising her head, she looked intently at her
husband:

"Simon, you asked Mr. St. Ives to come here; you asked him without
consulting me and now--I want to go away."

For an instant he studied her, then he crossed to her side and took her
hand.

"My dear Rachel," he said, "I thought perhaps you understood without
anything being said.  Rachel, believe me, I have not the feeling now
about your friendship with St. Ives that I once had.  That feeling of
jealousy,--for it was jealousy--I do not deny it--was degrading to us
both, but particularly it was insulting to you.  And during your
illness it left me; thank Heaven, it left me," he repeated.  "And now
be generous--don't take from me the happiness I feel.  You think I
objected to your being out with him, but when I saw you in the boat, I
was conscious only of a serene friendship for St. Ives."

A flash of firelight illumined his face and she saw to her surprise
that his usually enigmatic eyes held a look that completely transformed
him.  The explanation she had intended to make died on her lips.  With
a bewildered gesture she turned as if to leave the room; and at that
moment they were interrupted.  There was a knock, and the caretaker
questioningly opened the door.

"If you please, Mrs. Hart," she began, "there's a strange young man
down in the kitchen who is asking to see you."

"A young man?"

"Yes, a lad.  My husband thinks he ain't just right, he's so sort of
wild looking; but the boy says he's from your old home and nothing for
it but he must see you."

"Why it's André!" Rachel cried in amazement, and, before the woman had
finished speaking, she darted from the room.

Simon's voice pursued her: "Your clothing, change it first, I beg of
you."

Rachel had vanished.

The next moment she was standing before André.  Catching him by the
arms, she shook him; then pressed her head to his shoulder.  "Oh,
André," she whispered, "Is it you--is it really?"  And passing her arms
about him, she clung to him.

The young fellow suffered the embrace and his hands hung motionless at
his sides, though in his great eyes a spark kindled as he looked down
at her.

"Tell me," she asked breathlessly, "how did you ever manage to find
me--and what brings you, André dear?  Explain--tell me everything, but
not here," catching sight of the caretaker who had reëntered the
kitchen.  "Come to the front room where there is a fire.--Simon, this
is André," she cried as they encountered her husband on his way through
the hall.  And taking the young fellow's hand, she placed it in Simon's.

"Yes, I'm going now," she added.  "I'm dying of curiosity, but I'll
change my dress first.  And do you make André comfortable.  I'll be
back in a minute," she cried.

Rachel's welcome of her childhood's friend was all the more eager
because she looked to him to save her from the difficulties of her
situation and from herself.  While she dressed, she thought only of
André and as she drew on a pair of dry shoes and tightened the crossed
lacings with excited jerks, she said his name over and over like a
child bubbling with joy.

"Now for the news?" she cried, entering the front room; and seating
herself beside André, she took his hand.  "Something special brought
you, I know it.  Now tell me."

The story at any other time would have held her spellbound, but in her
present mood she had difficulty in grasping it.  Constantly her
thoughts wandered, now to Emil, now to André.  She drew such profound
comfort from the touch of André's strong young fingers.

The facts as he related them were as follows: A man in the last stage
of consumption and calling himself, "John Smith" had made his
appearance in Old Harbour a few days before.  Desiring news of Lavina
Beckett's daughter, he had asked to be directed to André.  When he
learned from André that Rachel was living in New York city, he had
burst into tears.  He had declared he must see her before he died.  He
had persuaded André to accompany him to the city as he feared to travel
farther alone.  But before leaving Old Harbour he had deposited a sum
of money in the bank and had written a long letter which he addressed
to Rachel.  On the journey he had read and reread this epistle.  He was
very weak and when they reached their destination, collapsed in the
great bustling station.  After much parley over the telephone, a
station attendant had arranged for his reception at a hospital.
Thither he had been taken.  The physician who attended him assured him
he would be much stronger after a few hours' rest, and on hearing this,
John Smith had begged André to find Rachel and bring her to the
hospital the following day.  "Afternoon's always my best time, bring
her then," he had implored.

"I understand; it's poor Father's friend," Rachel whispered dreamily,
when André concluded; "he didn't send all the money Father gave him
that time, and now he wants to give me the rest.  That's the whole sad
story.  But André, I can't seem to think about it," she murmured after
a moment.  "I'll go to the hospital without fail, but now let's talk
about you.  Do you know, I think you managed splendidly to ferret me
out in this way.  You went to the house, first, of course, and Theresa
told you where I was."

While André's voice ran on detailing the news: how his mother and he
now performed every duty about the lighthouse as the Captain was in his
cups most of the time (Oh, but the Captain, he was a clever one at
concealing the state of things!) how Nora Gage had gone into the shop
with Katherine Fry, how Zarah Patch had increased the size of his
vegetable garden, and Lottie Loveburg had taken up with Jim Wright
after all--Rachel scarcely listened to him.  A danger confronted her,
and, try as she would, she could think of nothing but the decisive
interview of the morrow,--that battle that must be waged in spite of
her own deadly weakness and overwhelming love.

She asked herself a question.  Why at this time, rather than any other,
were the facts relating to her father's life to be revealed to her?
And, as she sat by André's side, she was conscious of a mysterious
influence, like a warning, reaching her from the insistent past.



CHAPTER VII

IN WHICH JOHN SMITH UNBURDENS HIS CONSCIENCE

Rachel's mouth was now perfectly formed to express her emotions, as it
had not been in early youth.  There had come a little added fulness in
the curves of the upper lip, a little added sensitiveness in the line
of the lower.  With its well-defined corners, melting, when she smiled,
into a pair of will-o'-the-wisp dimples, this mouth of hers was worthy
to form the lure for many an exciting escapade on the part of her
lovers.  In her intelligent, sometimes perfervid, often gloomy face, it
suggested a series of grace-notes introduced wilfully into a bit of
serious music.  It destroyed the general harmony of her face and
increased its fascination.  On the morning following the primitive race
across the sands, the grace-notes dominated the more serious expression
of her personality.

In the depths of her there was plenty of sadness, but the joy which is
inseparable from any confession of love, even the love which battles
against insurmountable barriers, glowed through her and informed every
fibre of her with sparkling animation.  She laughed frequently for no
apparent cause.

The wide lawns about Gray Arches still glistened with dew and birds
sang in the branches of the trees.  The notes mingled with the plash of
the waves on the distant beach, and with that infinite murmur of sounds
that came out of the sunshine, out of the grass, out of the shimmering
distances of that smiling country, checkered in light open fields and
in dark variegated woods.  All around, everywhere, was vivid
palpitating life.

Rachel with a huge pair of shears that flashed in the sun, was snipping
dead roses from a bush of the late-blooming variety.  Brown and
withered, they fell on the gravel path--mere ghosts of flowers; and, at
every onslaught, all the green leaves of the bush shook and all its
fresh blossoms trembled and poured forth an intoxicating perfume as if
to thank her for the service.  Beside her, seated on the grass, André
was making the flowers they had gathered into a bouquet.  He held in
his brown hands nasturtiums, gladioli and dahlias.  Occasionally,
unable to resist an unusually perfect one, Rachel flung him still
another rose.

"There," she said, "that's enough; if I cut any more, I shan't be able
to carry them, and the hospital nurse may not let John Smith have them
anyway."

A thorn had scratched her wrist, and she lifted the hand to her lips.

André regarded her with a vigorous gaze.  "Do you know," he said at
last, "you look like a rose yourself."

She threw him the shadow of a glance from between half-closed lids.  In
her morning dress of delicate pink muslin, beneath a shade hat with a
flapping brim, she did look like a rose; and a wide collar, turned up
over her throat to protect it from the sun, heightened the illusion.
Against its colour her cheeks had taken a richer tinge and her eyes,
between their curling lashes, were unusually deep and liquid.  She was
amazingly beautiful with a superadded beauty, with that fleeting and
ethereal grace, which, independent of features or contours, touches any
woman when she realizes that she is loved where she herself loves.
Now, as if anxious to divert André's too curious gaze, she began
speaking rapidly and almost at random.  The air and the sunlight
appeared to intoxicate her.

"Have you ever noticed, André," she cried, "the boastfulness of Nature
when she has anything worth displaying?  She is for all the world like
a woman who takes particular pride in showing off her children, like
that Mrs. Polestacker we both knew who was always calling attention to
her Katie's teeth and curls.  Take that rose bush," she continued, "it
fairly swaggers with pride now that it is covered so finely with roses,
but once the flowering season is over, and see how meekly it will
obliterate itself; it will retire into the background like an old maid
at a dance.  For who notices the larkspur when its time is past, or the
raspberry bush when it is no longer hung with its little crimson lamps?
It is the energy that a growing, living thing puts forth that it would
flaunt before us, saying, 'See here, _I_ produced these flowers--these
berries!' and it is that energy which attracts us--the immense energy
of being."  And throwing back her head, her neck on the strain, her
arms falling at her sides, with the shears in one hand, she gazed into
the deep blue of the sky which, bending down over the earth, was like
an inverted sea.

Unconsciously, as in the old days, she spoke her thoughts aloud to
André.  He did not reply; if truth were told, he was in the dark as to
her meaning, but that only increased the enchantment.

André was Rachel's senior by six years, but owing to his mind in which
the impressions were deep but few, he still looked a youth, almost a
child.  His beauty, agile, simple, unsettled, with admirable
disposition of colouring, was that of a child.  High on the cheek
bones, under the eyes, the blood came and went with his emotions, and
his arched lips under his tiny moustache stood a little open, which
gave him an innocent expression.  He was difficult to resist, just as a
child is difficult to resist.  Rachel's feeling for him was almost
maternal; but for all that, her comprehension of him failed at one
point.

When he had first received word of her marriage, André had cast himself
on the ground, and the earth had seemed to respond with deep tremours
to his grief.  He had told himself that he would never see her again.
As for her husband, he felt that it would be impossible for him to ever
meet Simon Hart without yielding to the desire to fly straight at his
throat.  Yet, he had met him and experienced no emotion of the sort.
Something told him that Rachel was not in love with her husband.  Still
there was that in her eyes which bewildered him.  Now with his hands
clasped behind his head and his back against a tree, he regarded her
with a devotion, a tenderness, a desperation of which none but a pure
and youthful soul is capable, and the old agony began to stir again in
the depths of his breast.

Ceasing from her ecstatic contemplation of the sky, Rachel looked over
at the gardener's cottage.  As she did so, all her outlines went to
deeper softness.  André, sensitively, felt the thrill through her of
some ineffable emotion.

"What are you thinking about, Rachel?" he demanded.

She started and the colour mounted.

"Thinking?"

"Yes; just now, when you turned and looked over yonder?"

"Oh! ... I was thinking of Mr. St. Ives's improvement of the organ.
It's really extraordinary what he has accomplished, André; and by such
simple means.  You must see it.  He's carrying on his work over there
in the gardener's cottage.  And I was comparing his invention and his
natural pride in it, to the rose bush and its roses, I suppose."

"St. Ives?" André was sitting upright and rigid.  "Is he--is he the one
who came to Pemoquod that time?"

"Yes.  My husband formed a company to represent his inventions.  I
always felt Mr. St. Ives had great promise," she went on as frankly as
she could, "and I persuaded Simon to get up a company.  Now he's glad
he did."

André was wretched.  "And he's here?

"Yes; for a few weeks.  Mr. Hart was anxious that the work shouldn't be
delayed, so he came here while the shop is being altered."

André said no more.  And Rachel exerted herself to dispel his gloom.
So contagious was the vitality of her mood that he apparently forgot
the incident.

Presently, bidding him gather up the withered roses that littered the
path, and taking into her own hands the bunch of fresh blossoms, she
led the way to the house and André followed.  His old dream, in all its
simplicity, once more possessed his heart.

When Rachel arrived at the hospital, John Smith was expecting her.  In
a clean shirt with his grey hair neatly brushed and his gaunt frame
arranged under a spotless sheet, he was eagerly awaiting her.  The
floor nurse warned her that the interview must be a brief one; the
patient could not live more than a day or two.

John Smith's story was substantially what Rachel had surmised it would
be, and as he told it with frequent interruptions when the cough racked
him, she had difficulty in fixing her thoughts upon him.  The vital
moment of her own life called her, and try as she would, she could give
but a divided attention.

"The fact is, I ain't done just the straight thing by you," he rambled
on, "and I'm glad you're as well fixed as you are.  It ain't quite the
same as if I'd found you in want.  However, I've suffered for putting
this time off; I've been hectored in ways you wouldn't dream of.
Needn't tell me the dead don't take their revenge if you pass over
their wishes!  I don't mean that they come back or anything of that
sort," he interrupted himself, in response to a questioning glance,
"but they stick in your mind somehow--you can't forgit how they looked
when they told you to do such and such a thing, and you don't do it.
But I'll say this much for myself, I meant as much as could be to give
you that money when I reached America seventeen years ago, a month or
two after your father's death; but I had a hard run of luck, and I used
some of it, and then I used more, until it was about all gone.  And it
was only when I got this cough about three years and a half ago, that I
began to think a good bit about Thomas Beckett.  Funny too, so long
after his death; but I'd see him when I was droppin' off to sleep, and
he'd look at me so!  But your father didn't do the straight thing
either," he broke off with sudden resentment, "for he left your mother,
as far as I could gather, to shift for herself.

"As I was saying, perhaps it was my low state of health, but he gave me
no rest; seemed as if he was tryin' to say that you needed that money.
And finally the thought come to me that perhaps I ought to give your
mother at least part of what was owin' her; so I wrote to Old Harbour
and you know the rest.  You see," he concluded, "when I learned that
your mother had been dead more'n twenty years, I was afraid to make
myself known.  I was fearful some relative or friend'd get after me on
your part.  So I sent seven hundred dollars along, it was all I'd
saved, to that friend of yours whose name the postmaster gave me, and
then I left.  I went away from the town in Massachusetts where I'd been
workin' and I found a job as foreman in a mill in another town.  And I
thought everything'd be all right then; but do you know, I still
dreamed of your father, and the upshot was, that I went to a priest and
made a clean breast of the story; and as he told me to do, I worked
hard and paid it all up.  Yes, I've paid it all up," he finished, "for
the balance, the eight hundred dollars that was comin' to you, I
deposited in your name in the bank at Old Harbour;" and fumbling in the
pocket of his shirt, he handed her a sealed envelope.  "There's the
deposit slip, and the whole story written out ready to be mailed to you
in case I didn't manage to see you," he explained.

His face had grown brighter, had regained a faint expression of health,
as the load that had long oppressed his conscience was lifted.

Rachel left the invalid holding admiringly in his bony fingers her
bunch of flowers.  She reached the door of the ward; then, with a
sudden eagerness, she retraced her steps.

"Was my Father a happy man?" she asked, "or did he seem to regret all
along what he had done in leaving my Mother?"  She waited his answer
with bated breath.

But relief was manifest all over John Smith.  Had he not triumphantly
passed through the ordeal of his confession?  At her question his eyes
glistened; he laughed a weak, irresponsible laugh.

"No, I don't think he worried much about it till he come to die.  It
was far-away questions that touched your father more; he was always
reading and sometimes he'd argue and git angry.  But barring those
times, he was pretty jolly as far as I can recollect.  It was only when
he seen the last port just ahead, that same as me, he seemed to think
things over.  But, I've done the right thing, and I'm going to git
well," he proclaimed.

The same nurse she had seen on coming, met her in the corridor.  Rachel
directed her to have John Smith moved to a private room with special
attendant; then she left the hospital.

For some reason she was relieved that her father had not regretted his
course sooner, that he had remained, almost to the last, a true
vagabond.  As to her one-time hot defence of him on the score of his
loyalty to her mother, the point had lost significance.

All that was mettlesome in her character was aroused.  Having promised
Emil to go to the marble works, she was going there, in the face of
fancied influences from the past; in the face, too, of the vigorous
warning of her own conscience.  The coming interview was absolutely
necessary that she might, once and for all, make clear to him her
position.  In this juggling with conscience most women are adept.
Rachel played the game so well as to be almost self-deceived.  However,
as the moment of the meeting drew near, she grew faint and a tide of
irrepressible joy mingled with and almost dominated her misery.  When
she quitted the hospital she was pale with determination, like a
soldier before battle, but her eyes, overflowing with light, were the
eyes of a woman in love.  Her mind was too full of its own matter to
allow her to care about anything else.  Does not the surge of passion
in one's own breast drown the echo of death and despair from another's
heart?

She stopped at one of the large shops where delicacies were for sale,
and ordered a basket of fruits and jellies sent to John Smith; then,
hailing a cab, she drove to the marble works, which lay in the
direction of the Bronx on the outskirts of the city.



CHAPTER VIII

THE PLACE OF THE STATUES

"Is Mr. St. Ives here?"

The question fell into the silence of an office where Barbieri, the
proprietor, was writing at a desk.

"Mr. St. Ives?  I will send for him.  Julian,"--to a boy, who in the
doorway was burying his naked feet in the fine white marble dust like
snow,--"Mr. St. Ives,--a lady."

"I have come to see the new machine."

"Ah, the new machine?  It is very wonderful; it not only points the
marble, but cuts it, following the model; and no man touches it.  Never
anything like it in this country; in France, yes, there is something of
the sort, but not perfect like this one."

"As wonderful as that?"

"_Si, si_,--yes, madam, wonderful."

"And will you show me how it works?  I want to see it in operation."

"In operation?  Ah, I regret, but to-day, madam, to-day is Saturday;
there is no power, no electricity, you understand, no men."

"Then why did he have me come?" she murmured, and caught her lip
between her teeth, a trick with her when angry or perplexed.

"Why did you have me come?" she said, addressing the inventor, who with
impetuous strides was advancing to meet her.

He paused in his tracks: "I had forgotten that they closed down."

She scanned him with a swift glance.

"Forgive me," he said in an undertone, "really, I had forgotten,
Rachel, if I ever knew it.  But you must see the place now you are
here.--Mr. Barbieri," he added, "I am going to show Mrs. Hart over the
works," and he led the way across a narrow court to an adjoining
structure.

The marble shop covered an extensive area, and the white light that
fell through its glass roof inundated its farthest corner.  In this
bath of light, in this silence, unbroken by a single sound; in the
midst of casts, dust, artistic litter of all sorts, were the statues.
Some scarcely blocked from the rough stone, they rose on all sides.
They overtopped the miniature plaster models, like giants overtopping
pygmies; they elbowed the grotesque machines that are used for
enlarging purposes; they crowded the walls; they occupied every foot of
space not reserved for the workmen; some even, with their Titan tread,
had passed through the lofty doorway and stood among barrels and
rubbish in the garish sunlight of the yard.  On every side monoliths of
stone were being cut into human shape.  There was a torso with the
girth of a Colossus; over yonder a hand chiseled from a boulder; beyond
that, a monumental figure frowning like a tortured Atlas.  All in
sections--painful, writhing, some of the statues lacked a head, others
an arm or a foot, and others had their limbs still entangled in uncut
blocks of stone.

It was like a workshop of surgeons of stone men; like a manufactory of
the gods where were created marble monsters that suffered with the age
and immobility of stone, in which petty human qualities of Fortitude,
Justice, Fidelity were being stamped.  Hewn out of the womb of the
earth, the marble was tortured here to wear man's face, his form;
finally it would be set up under the sun to testify with the might of
marble limbs to the ideals that govern his heart.

As she viewed the stone population, no one could have told what was
passing in Rachel's stormy little breast, for if there was a spark in
her eyes that seemed to indicate subterranean depths of passion, the
rest of her features were astonishingly passive.  Her gloves hampered
her, and with nervous gestures she began taking them off.  Tense and
silent and acutely vital, she stood beside Emil, an expression of all
that is baffling and mysterious in woman.

Conscious of a dryness in his throat, he kept his eyes to the statues.

"They are said to be the largest figures ever cut," he murmured.  "They
are for the pediment of the new Century Library."

"How still they are!"

"Yes, and one rather expects them to speak and move."  Suddenly
swinging round, he looked her in the eyes.  "Oh, my own!" he cried.
With uncertain steps he moved toward her.

And swift and strong between them, Fate drew her thread of love; in
that electric net of hers, she caught their souls and drew them close
together.  She took the pair of them, as a fowler takes a bird.

His savage heart dominated by emotion, Emil trembled with a desire to
fall at her feet.  But she would not own her capture.

"Stop, Emil!" she cried in a suppressed voice; "stop right where you
are!  I'll not listen to your words!  I came here to tell you--"

He looked upon her intently: "You came because you had to come!"

The speech thrilled with the inspiration of conquest.

"Oh, my love," he cried, "haven't the years we've been separated been
dreary enough?  Haven't they been empty enough for us both?--For you,
on your side, you love me; I know it!"

Instead of answering she drew herself up.  But he ignored these signs
of rebellion.

"It was a misty day when I first saw you," he pursued, "and yesterday
also it was misty and wet, and all at once I understood that I had been
carrying the thought of you in my heart from the start.  Rachel, you
are my heart!" he cried, borne on by the lyric power of his own
utterance.  "And as I raced after you across that beach, I knew to a
certainty it was no one-sided thing.  Rachel, that kiss, _your_
kiss--it was not a childish impulse; and I dare to tell you so.  We
took possession of each other, love, at the first glance!  Can you deny
it?  _Do_ you deny it?" compressing her hands.  "No, no, you cannot!"
he concluded; "and that being true, it is beyond our own power or the
power of any creature, to part us now!  Oh, sweet!" and his tone
changed quickly as he saw that she shook from head to foot, "look
around you,--isn't the world beautiful? haven't we a right to
happiness?"

Dropping on his knees, he carried her hand to his throbbing breast.

"Happiness?" she repeated, "no, no, not happiness! but peace perhaps,
and that comes--it comes--"

He looked up into her face--up at the quivering bend of her lips, up
until his eyes found hers, drowned in tears and almost covered by their
fluttering lids--and into his glance flashed a subjugating power, an
irresistible force.

She attempted to follow the line of her argument, a moment before so
clear, but the word "renunciation" died away in a sigh.

She helplessly returned his look.

And the gigantic statues increased her bewilderment; for the one
thought that seemed to leap behind the statues' staring eyes, between
their huge and rigid lips, in the hollow of their stony breasts, was
the naturalness of loving wildly.

Emil dropped his lips on her wrist.

Releasing the hand, she sought to repulse him, but instead, she
clutched his hair with a tenderness almost convulsive.

"Oh, you are killing me!" she moaned.

Drawing himself up, he tried to take her in his arms; but with sudden
violence, she forced his head downward.

"Oh, you torture me!" she panted.

He grasped her hands;--and once more, before her drowning sight,
wavered the statues.  In a delirious flash she realized the similarity
of their fate.  Like them, she was destined to stand forth under an
open sky, testifying to a command contrary to nature, but which had
been laid upon her kind from time immemorial.

She pushed Emil from her, and pressing her hands to her breast, fled
head down from the place.

Instantly he was upon his feet:

"You are not going?" ......


Among the statues, quiet, watchful, the words trembled and died away;
then in sympathy the statues seemed to shudder at that cry of agony and
surprise.



CHAPTER IX

THE ENERGY OF BEING

Cabs were an infrequent phenomenon in that quarter and a crowd of small
boys,--eager, dirty, volatile, with thin bare little legs and miserable
little elbows, were gathered around the knock-kneed horse that
dejectedly hung its head.  They were feeding the animal with dusty
grass plucked from between the cobblestones of the pavement.  But at
Rachel's approach they fell away as if pushed away.  The driver in his
tall hat bent to receive her order.  She gave it without looking at him.

Mad, uncalculating love, too long repressed, struggled in her with a
vague sense of shame.  But at first the sense of shame was shadowy
indeed.  Carried out of every perception but the throbbing one of her
loss of self in Emil, for a time she heard only his words "my own."
"Yes, yours, yours always," the blood proclaimed, and the soul's
contradiction sounded small and faint.  Then, as the voice of
conscience grew stronger, she turned her head from side to side in
agony.  Chaste and fiercely proud, she told herself she was a
humiliated woman.  But not his the blame.  All that had happened she
had invited.  By her expression she seemed to be saying, "I will not
think."

None the less she did think.  She went over the scene from which she
had just issued, not once, but countless times, and at each repetition
she extracted from it the keenest misery, the most poignant bliss.  All
the mystery and domination of her passion were written on her face and
at intervals sighs escaped her, mingled with breathless,
half-articulated words:

"Oh,--he loves me--he loves me--and if it weren't for a certain thing
we could be happy."

She paused, again borne out of herself by an animating memory.  Once
more Emil stood before her with his glance, laughing, kindling,
melting.  Once more he spoke.  As she listened to all the mad, foolish,
electrifying things that fell from his lips, life seemed to break forth
in her in its plentitude.  His words were to her panting heart what
rain is to the parched earth.  She experienced a feeling at once
violent and divine.

And she had repulsed him.

The memory left her almost sobbing.  She moved her hands; she lifted
her face with its tremulous mouth breathing a caress.  For uncounted
instants she remained suspended in abysses of tenderness.  Then she
braced herself with resolution.

"No, no," she said aloud.  "It's settled."

The dead, expressionless words voiced finality.  Thus the will brought
the heart temporarily into subjection.

After innumerable involuntary returns to the scene of the marble works
she forced herself to give attention to her surroundings.  Feverishly
she stared about her with breath suspended and lips a little open like
a child after a violent fit of weeping.

As the cab rolled forward, with bare tracts, isolated houses and clumps
of trees revealing themselves on either side, to her superalert mind,
the city appeared a million-eyed, million-footed monster.  Excitedly
she nourished the grotesque fancy, seeking in it escape from deeper
realization.  With its great legs of brick and stone, with its
numberless eyes of glass, turbid and bleary, its voluminous, impure
breath of smoke, its voice of inconceivable uproar, the city was
encroaching on the innocent country.  It was devouring it field by
field; it was swallowing down the sweet cottages which disappeared from
the landscape with miraculous swiftness; swallowing the brooks, the
woods, glutting itself and growing big at the expense of the fresh
country that never could be restored in all its natural beauty.  "Yes,
yes, God made the country but man makes the city," she whispered.

As the cab rolled on over more crowded pavements, her consciousness of
the scene through which she had just passed was dulled briefly, as pain
is dulled in a patient suffering with delirium.

"Ah, how useless is all this bustle and confusion!" she thought
irritably.  "Surely man could live more simply.  But he is dedicated to
vanity, he must make a splurge.  What was that I said to André this
morning?  Oh yes--about the energy of being.  Man must make a show, if
not for his Creator's satisfaction at least for his own.  The Creator!"
she murmured bitterly, "He knows nothing of us!  We pine constantly for
a liberty fuller than any we have ever known, and that accounts for all
our unwearying expenditure of force.  Poor pygmies!  Persisting deep in
the soul of man, is a vague, undefined sense, 'I am the heritor of the
infinite.'  And so he works," she continued, "he produces marvels and
he thinks his immediate achievement embraces his entire object.  But it
isn't so.  And he opens his heart to passions; but his object is the
same.  For back of the least labour into which he throws himself, back
of the most depraved emotion in which he loses himself, is a vast,
mysterious, subconscious searching; and that," she declared, "accounts
for everything."

She was soaring now above herself, above the terror of her problem.
She was viewing the situation as the universal situation and her
thoughts were transfigured, rendered impersonal by the clearness of her
perception.  She saw life no longer with the eyes of an inexperienced
and impassioned woman, but with the eyes of one made wise through
extremity of anguish.

"It accounts for all the good that we do and for all the evil that we
do," she resumed.  "Each chooses a road of escape, perhaps many roads,
and follows them madly.  But," she concluded, "we never find that
larger freedom.  We are tormented by the feeling of its imminence, but
it retreats ever beyond us.  And finally we come face to face with the
eternal, basic fact of existence: _I am a prisoner_.  That's what we
discover.  We learn the truth.  I learned it that night after the
opera.  _I am the bird in the box!_"

For an instant she held her head erect, then shrank, a pained and
huddled form, against the cushions of the cab.

"Yes, I have my dream like the others," she whimpered.  "But it isn't a
dream.  Love _is_ a mode of escape.  It is.  It is.  And it's my road.
But do I follow it?"

The answer was a forlorn shake of the head.

"Emil, my Father, Simon, Emily Short, that girl Betty Holden, even Nora
Gage; all--all wiser than I.  They follow their instincts, creditable
or discreditable, they follow them and they glean at least some
satisfaction.  While I--"

The full tide of her misery, that which she had tried to evade,
inundated her.

"Fool, why am I like that?" she muttered, "for some scruple, which God,
if he knows, probably laughs at me for respecting.  As Emil said,
wasn't it God made us capable of love?"

The tears had not come before.  Now she checked them with her
handkerchief, but constantly they fell, constantly she gave long deep
sighs, heartrending, mournful.  Presently a flaming, defiant thought
stood out against the background of her misery.  There was relief in
action, even in the action that is called sin.

"Madam would like to have me get her ferry ticket?"

The greasy red face of the driver was peering down upon her; the cab
had come to a standstill.  She had entirely forgotten why she was there
and it was only by an effort that she understood what he was asking.

Once on the ferry boat, she leaned her elbows on the railing and, as
she listened to the talk of the water, she grew calmer.  For it was
strange, wise talk with a laugh under it.  The little choppy waves
seemed to be telling her that life was short and sweet.  Grey and blue
and dun colour, pink and rose red, the waves shouted and sang together.
And above the roofs of the receding city, wrapped in the mists of
evening and the ascending vapour of traffic, the dull and yet flaming
disk of the sun hung suspended.

A passenger disturbed her and she shifted her position.  Important
little tugs towing huge rafts, and the arms of derricks being convoyed
over the water, like helpless giants, came into view; and for a time
the ferry boat passed into the sheltering shadow of a great bridge.
Emerging from one confused and sparkling distance and disappearing into
another, the bridge appeared like a tangible bow of promise between the
two cities.  The sight of the cable cars and the tiny moving mites
that, like insects, slowly crawled over it, comforted her like a
friendly omen.

But when they gained the other shore and she entered the station, the
locomotives, emitting great volumes of smoke, recalled to her mind her
grandfather's fanciful description; and she remembered with a pang how
she used to behold the world in an innocent and beautiful fashion.  But
now she saw deeper, now she understood all.

The rest of the trip she ceased to think.  She had entered that land
known to every unhappy lover, that land in which the misery, longing
and fierce passion that consume his heart, constitute the one reality
in a universe otherwise cold and dead.



CHAPTER X

IN THE GARDEN

The sight of Annie, arrayed in a freshly-ironed white dress and sitting
in the carriage behind Peter, gave Rachel a disagreeable shock.

"Mr. Hart thought very likely you'd come on the Express, and he sent me
along for the drive," and Annie moved her starched flounces that Rachel
might sit beside her.  "Was it hot in the city?"

"Yes, very."

"And did you go to the marble works to see the new machine?  Alexander
said that he had asked you."

"Yes, I went there; but it was Saturday and they had closed down."

"Oh--then nothing came of your visit?"

Rachel shivered.

"All the same," the other continued, "it's very remarkable, that
machine; and the best of it is, though I don't suppose you'll think so,
Alexander is entitled to all he makes on it and he's going to make a
good deal.  You see, it's this way," she explained, "Mr. Watson, Mr.
Hart--none of the Company, in fact, took a bit of stock in that
marble-cutting scheme when Alexander outlined it for them.  They said:
'There's nothing in it; you go ahead with the organ attachment, don't
let anything come before that; and work out the marble-cutting machine
on the side and you're welcome to all you make on it.'  And Alexander
worked out the whole thing and even made the big model on three Sundays
and the Fourth of July, which came on Monday.  Those four days were
sufficient, and it's proved a triumph--really a great triumph.  But I
suppose he's told you.  He said he was going to; and I thought it would
be all right, for I knew you'd be on Alexander's side and would see
that what he's done is perfectly fair."

Rachel nodded.  "Perfectly fair," she murmured.

She had been asking herself while they had been driving along, what
Annie's mode of escape was.  Now she knew.  "It's the accumulation of
things," she told herself.  "Annie thinks if Emil can earn enough money
so that they can have _things_, she'll be more than she is now."

"If they pay him as much as they promised to, those Italians up there,"
Annie continued, "I don't see why we shouldn't have a little cottage in
the fall on the outskirts of the city somewhere, and Alexander could go
in to his work."

"Didn't I say so?" Rachel thought; and she was delighted at her own
astuteness.

The carriage lamps were lighted and by the aid of these and the shining
of the full moon, she could see her companion distinctly even to the
tiny freckles that covered the bridge of her nose.  Freckles and all,
however, Annie was looking undeniably pretty in a fresh and innocent,
if somewhat meaningless, way.  Annie's emotions were those of a child,
Rachel told herself, trying to lighten her burden of self-reproach and
shame.

They arrived at the gate of Gray Arches which was cut through an
evergreen hedge and guarded by two large ornamental lamps, that, being
rusty and out of order, were never lighted.  The carriage rolled over
the sand of the avenue, past some large bushes of rhododendron and
arrived before the steps of the glass-enclosed porch.  Simon hastened
out of the house and helped them to alight.

"So you caught the Express all right?" he cried; then added, in an
undertone as he took Rachel's arm, "I sent her to meet you, because I
knew she'd enjoy the drive.  St. Ives is in the city to-day and I asked
her to dine with us."

A few moments later Rachel stood at the window of her room.

Below in the garden Annie was standing beside Simon.  He had picked up
a pebble from the path.  "Do you know," she heard him say in the tone
he always assumed when communicating information, "I've noticed that a
great many of these pebbles are of the amethyst variety."

"It's curious," she thought, approaching the washstand, "what Simon
sees in Annie.  He can't do enough for her, apparently.  She's over
here all the time now."

She began drawing off her rings, but the wedding ring resisted and she
was obliged to hold the finger under a faucet.  Her face assumed a
moody, desperate expression.  The world had shrunk to the round of her
wedding ring.

She plunged her face into the cold water.  What should she put on?
Emil had called her beautiful.  Was it true that she was beautiful?
She put on a light dress trimmed with insertions of real lace, a dress
much too elaborate for the occasion, and went downstairs.

In the dining room the party was awaiting her, and Simon had lit the
wax candles in the large candelabra in honour of Annie's presence.  In
the shifting radiance which is a peculiarity of candle light, Rachel's
beauty shone forth triumphantly.  Annie in her freshly-starched frock,
with her smooth blond little head and her unimaginative glance, looked
like a daisy of the kind that grows by the thousand in the fields,
beside some rare flower that had opened its petals to their extreme
limit.  There was no mystery in Annie; but Rachel was all mystery, all
passion, all fire.  Something unusual escaped from the glances she
lifted, and from those she half-concealed.  Shadows teased the corners
of her mouth and sank into the slight hollow at the base of her throat.
Light bathed her brow.  Something that was at once the "joy of her
soul" and the grief of her soul trembled from between her parted lips.

André could not take his eyes from her; and, as he looked, an
immeasurable anguish mingled with his delight.

"I must catch the train in the morning, Rachel," Simon remarked as they
rose from the table, "a note from Theresa says Father is ailing.
Nothing serious, I infer, but I shall spend the day in town to-morrow,
lunch with him, and then I shall know all I wish.  Watch a man when
he's taking his food and you can judge fairly of his condition."

Rachel cast a scornful glance at her husband.  Everything he said
to-night annoyed her.  But his next words made her ashamed.

"I wish I could bring Father out here," he added, "but the doctor is
against it and perhaps he's right."

She turned impulsively with some idea of making amends for her
thoughts.  But when Simon, as they were leaving the dining room,
inclined his head toward hers, she sprang aside, giving him a strange
look in the face.

Of course she must tell him everything; but not to-night--to-night, she
thought, he seemed particularly contented.  He had gone now to get his
hat.  The clouds on the previous day had not emptied themselves.  Now
they once more drove through the heavens, though the moon, at present,
shone victoriously.  As Annie feared for her starched dress, Simon was
going to take her home at once.

When the door had closed upon them, Rachel went into the front room.
André was sitting before one of the long windows, the casement of which
lay back against the wall.  In one of the upper panes of glass,
swimming through a bank of wild clouds, the moon was reflected.  It was
as if the moon were in the room.  The heat had increased; lightning
played along the sky, and in the garden, the shrubbery, half shrouded
in a silvery mist, was motionless.

"Play something for me, André," Rachel said; and going to the window,
she stood with her hands clasped behind her neck.  How get through this
evening--how get through her entire life?

"I thought out a piece after you left Pemoquod.  I will play that for
you."  And passing to the mantel, André took down his fiddle.  "I call
it your piece," he added softly.

But Rachel, her eyes on the gleaming garden, did not hear him.

Presently, a mournful and plaintive air, like the voice of a child
giving way to grief, began to float through the room.  It was
instinctive playing, devoid of skill in the technical sense; none the
less the sound of the strings was wistful, heart-rending.  And suddenly
the song gained in force and rang out powerfully; the crude,
passionate, beseeching melody flowed from under the nervous,
swift-moving bow, and such tenderness and devotion mingled with its
flowing, such piercingly-sweet supplication, that Rachel, laying her
face on her arm, supported herself against the casement.

And André, his dark head bent, his cheek pressed to the violin,
conscious that she was there before him in her rich dress, played like
one in an ecstasy.  His body swayed, tears stood on his pale cheeks,
but his eyes were closed.

At last, unable to endure the constantly recurring love _motif_, which
was sweeter than the moon, more fathomless than the white moon drowned
in space, Rachel fled through the long window.  With a fierce movement
she lifted her arms above her head; then, as if broken, rested her face
against a tree.  Rising from the ground beneath her feet, floating
between the branches of the mist-hung trees, thrilling through all the
spaces of the still and waiting garden, ran the fire of that exquisite
melody, sounded those strains of pure and youthful love.

Presently a flowering shrub moved slightly.  Some branches that
overhung a path stirred; then everything was motionless.

She raised her head, her whole frame quivering like a tightly drawn bow.

Out of the shadows, running rather than walking, Emil was advancing.

With one movement she sprang to him and, uttering a low cry, he caught
her.

Each on the lips of the other, their souls were drowned in oblivion;
for if he kissed her, she as openly kissed him; and if her cheeks were
drenched with tears, they certainly were not all of her own shedding.
Tempestuous, tragic emotion overflowed the hearts of both.  In the
delicious anguish of their embrace, the memory of life with its pitiful
conventions dropped from them.  Loyalty was an empty word, pity a name.

Their clinging arms its walls, their shining eyes its stars, they stood
apart in a universe new-made.

And from the old, old sky the moon that watches over this paltry world
of man with his misery and his bliss,--the moon looked down on them.
Changing her position on her cloudbank, like a head lolling lazily on a
pillow, the moon bestowed on the pair of bewildered children the same
glance of remote indulgence she recently had bestowed on the lovers in
the Garden of Eden.  She threw her brightness over their clasping arms
and eloquent faces, and with her radiance mischievously deepened the
glamour of that supreme moment in their infinitesimal lives.  Then
sinking amid the down of her pillow, she temporarily disappeared.

"Rachel, what did you mean by leaving me the way you did this
afternoon?" Emil whispered, pausing long enough between his kisses to
hold back her head, while he looked down into her eyes with his own
which were fierce and wet; "Didn't you know it would be useless?"

His words roused her from the spell that had enwrapped her.  Freeing
herself with violence, she turned on him.  The crimson had dropped from
her cheek like the colours from a mast head.

"Emil, leave me!"

His eyes glowed with a peculiar brilliance:

"Leave you, my own?  I'll never leave you! and you'll never leave me
again; that couldn't happen more than once!"

And as she looked at him, she understood that he could conceive of
nothing strong enough to deter him from following the dictates of his
pagan and powerful nature.

"Go away, Emil," she said dully, "if you have any love for me--any pity
even."  Her brows drew together with hopeless obstinacy.  She turned.

With one stride he was beside her and had caught her hand.  "Listen to
me, love," he cried, and a curious mingling of command, entreaty and
supplication trembled in the words, "to-morrow is Sunday, there is a
train in the afternoon at six; I'll wait for you in that little grove
near the station.  Do you understand?"

"No;" and she stared back at him, all in a blaze.

"Oh, yes you do," he said gently; "I mean that we'll go off
somewhere--far, far away.  We'll have a cottage on a beach, something
like this one here; and we'll have a boat.  And there'll be nothing to
come between us any more.  All that is past.  We'll forget it, as if it
had never been, and we'll live for each other.  And perhaps, later, if
you are willing," he pursued, carried away by his visions, "we'll have
Mother join us; for you'll take to Mother, Rachel, and she'll take to
you.  Then, how I will work!  I'll astonish you; I'll astonish the
world.  I'll make you a proud and happy woman, but it will all be owing
to you."

"But Simon--Annie--what of them?" she broke in upon him hastily, for
she feared this last argument more than she feared death.

"Well, what of them?" he interrogated, purposely misinterpreting her.
"To be sure, Annie scarcely lets me out of her sight these days," he
added thoughtfully.  "She understands about as much as a humming-bird
how such a chap as I has to do his work, and she's eternally standing
at my elbow and egging me on.  It will be a little difficult to slip
away.  However, I'll tell her that I'm obliged to see those fellows in
the Bronx,--which is quite true," he finished with a brightening smile.
"And then another thing that will make my getting away easy, Annie
takes a nap now every afternoon, so it can be readily arranged.  We'll
simply walk away from this, Rachel--we'll leave it all."

She heard in these words the declaration of one who refuses to be
fettered by life; who, instead of being hampered by its conventions,
rises superior to them.  The simplicity of the point of view transfixed
her.

Ordinarily Emil would have been swift to note and follow up the
advantage he had gained; but, as he looked upon Rachel, the quality of
her resistance struck him for the first time; thereupon that primitive
something which in him took the place of conscience stirred ever so
slightly.  For a brief instant he saw the line of conduct he was
tracing so blithely for the pair of them, in a novel and uncomfortable
light.  A burning emotion rose from the depths of his soul, and in its
wake it carried new and troubling questions.  He waved his arms
vehemently as if to drive this brood of questions from him.  But the
new emotion persisted, and seemed to fill his breast.

"I don't pretend to know much about any question of right or wrong," he
murmured, all at once humble; "but it seems to me, love such as ours is
beyond all that.  As for Annie," he went on, his confidence in himself
restored, "she won't be sorry to be rid of me when she gets over the
first surprise.  Her parents are forever urging her to come home, and
you remember she did leave me a while ago.  Ours was a daft marriage if
there ever was one," he continued, "for two unliker people were never
yoked together.  And the life she'll lead with her parents will suit
Annie far better.  Poor kitten," he commented with unwonted softness,
"she was never made for hardships, and we'll be doing her no wrong.
The thing I'm striving after means less than nothing to Annie, and
there's where you are different, Rachel.  You'll be patient till I do
succeed; but I'll not keep you waiting long, sweet, for your presence
will brace me so that I can't fail.  Then take your husband," he
pursued, with a steady glance under her lids, "is he a fit mate for
you?  Ask yourself?  No, no, my own, my darling, we are the fit mates!"

Strongly, in spite of her swift denying, even with sobs, he drew her to
his breast.

And through the garden, André's song of love struck on their ears.  It
wrapped them round like the voice of their own passion.  It increased
perceptibly in volume as though the player were drawing near.  Then,
its strains which leapt on a sudden to those of triumph, ceased:--there
came a crash.

Rachel struggled to escape, and she did escape.  She retraced the few
steps of the path, she entered the house through the long window.
Something flashed past her and disappeared in the shrubbery.  On the
sill she stumbled over a dark object which gave out a faint discordant
sound.  It was André's violin with its strings still vibrating.



CHAPTER XI

FLAMES

Some hours later Rachel sat at a window of her room with her forehead
resting on her hands.  The clouds by this time covered the face of the
moon; and the darkness was enlivened by patches and scars of lightning,
as though the heavens were being laid open with a fiery whip.  Rain
fell.  A fine spray of moisture penetrated the ragged awning.  Rachel
never stirred.

A dull lethargy had descended on her.  She no longer thought of Emil or
of her husband.  She had but one sensation--the inevitable had
happened.  The fury of the storm brought her a sense of relief.  At
moments she felt herself being carried forward by a dark irresistible
current.  None the less her determination, like an anchor, held.  She
never faltered in her resolution to leave Gray Arches; she even heard
herself explaining the matter to Simon and she saw his face.  His
fingers trembled through his hair, his jaw fell, all the blood receded
from his cheek.  "But why disturb him?" she thought; "why should he be
made to suffer?"  No, plainly, she must invent some pretext for
leaving, then go at once.  She must not see Emil again.

Without realizing it, Rachel dropped at last into a troubled sleep,
from which she was aroused by a rap on the door.

"Oh, has he gone?" she cried, starting to her feet, and she pushed back
the hair from her face.  "Has Simon gone?"

The very possibility that her husband already had started for the city,
in view of her resolution, seemed to her a tragedy.

Emily, after a short, sharp inspection of her, laid a pile of
freshly-ironed linen on a chair.

"Yes," she answered, "he knocked at your door, but you gave no sign and
he didn't like to disturb you.  Peter was slow harnessing and Mr. Hart
was afraid he wouldn't make the train, but he must have made it or he'd
be back by now.  It is after eight o'clock."

Rachel sank into her chair with huddled knees.  She looked as if she
never intended to move again.

Emily took her wrist.  "Wouldn't you like your coffee here?"

Rachel looked up at her stupidly.

Emily repeated the question; she even broke into scolding as she
brought a loose gown to the other and insisted on her removing her
dress.  But once outside the door, Emily extended both hands as if
appealing to a protective Providence.  "A nice state of things!" she
muttered, with an expression of mingled pain, indignation and perfect
comprehension.

But when she appeared with the breakfast tray a few moments later she
was as stern of aspect as before.  After shaking out a table-cloth, she
placed the tray on a little stand at Rachel's elbow.

But Rachel turned away.  With her head propped on her two hands, she
stared in front of her; and nothing Emily could say served to draw her
from this state.

That morning the little toy-maker could not work as usual.  A tiny
parachute was very nearly ruined by an ill-directed movement of the
shears; and a piece of green satin for the aeronaut's coat was utterly
spoiled by tears, which she scorned to notice, falling upon it.  She
was so upset that more than once the utensils of her craft rolled on
the floor while her hands dropped to her knees.  To herself Emily
fiercely denied any attraction in Emil and she praised staunchly every
one of Simon Hart's qualities.

About one o'clock Rachel, after refusing luncheon, left the house for a
walk; and Emily, having satisfied herself that the other went to the
beach, lay down on her bed.  "Let her tire herself out; it is the best
thing she can do," Emily murmured, and dropped asleep, with a tear
standing in a furrow under one eye.

The caretaker, who served in the capacity of cook, in company with her
husband and the other servants, was spending the day with friends and
would not return until late; even Peter, the coachman, was away for the
afternoon.  Meanwhile, in this house far removed from the city, the
stillness which is peculiar to the Sabbath, deepened.

Rachel walked the beach.  She sat down, but immediately rose again.
Not only her own life, but all the life about her seemed suspended.

Emil was on his way to the station now; in her mind she could see him
swinging along the road: so robust and naïve was his egotism, he would
never question for a moment that she would come.  At the thought of his
disappointment, she began sobbing with her handkerchief to her lips.
All sorts of dark thoughts rose indistinctly from the depths of her
soul.  Simon, save for one failing, was hopelessly free of faults; he
was almost perfect.  Scarcely aware of what was passing in her mind,
she began picturing what would happen in case of his death.  But there
was Annie.  However, Annie could obtain a divorce; she could return, as
Emil had said, to her parents.  Rachel arranged every detail of the
situation; but these scarcely articulate plans, these involuntary
dreams, were accompanied by a physical sensation of shame--revulsion.

She shook herself free of the sorry brood and looked about her.  Had
she been there an hour, two hours, five minutes?  She did not know.
Presently a vesper bell from a distant village sounded intermittently
above the plashing of the waves.  With her hand pressed to her heart,
she listened.  Then she sped to the house.

In the hallway the old-fashioned clock marked a quarter past five.
Three quarters of an hour more!  There was still time to meet Emil!
And she pictured him waiting for her in the grove near the station,
impatiently scanning the road.  Reaching her room, she flung herself
into a chair and clung to its arms to prevent herself from answering
the summons.  Dumb, breathless, distraught, with her head hanging on
her breast, she listened to the measured ticking of the clock which
reached her from the hall.  She could still restrain her body, but she
could not control her mind.

"To-day decides my fate; either I go with Emil now, or I remain with
Simon forever.  To-day decides my fate."

She seemed to have a fondness for the phrase for she said it over and
over.

"If I remain with Simon, all will go on as before; but if I go with
Emil--"

She closed her eyes.  The walls of the room dropped away and she saw a
landscape.  Sedge grass bordered the road to the station.  In it she
sank repeatedly and its brown waves washed over her head.  But ever
before her was Emil.  Infinitely multiplied, he smiled at her from the
leaves, the grass, the dust.  The faces resolved themselves into one
face.  He drew near; she was penetrated by his presence.  All the love
in her, all the joy of which she was capable, was revealed.  She
clasped her hands about his neck, she laid her face on his breast, and
the past with its futile struggles, its anguish, like a bad dream,
receded from her.

Then she recognized the sunlight striking through the white shades of
the room.  It was tracing the usual pattern on the floor and glistening
indolently on the brass knobs of the dressing-table.

With a cry she started to her feet.  Maddened, she began to heap some
articles into a dressing-bag.  She was turning from her bureau to the
bag when John Smith's letter, which she had not yet read, caught her
eye.  It was propped against the frame of the mirror.  She put out a
hand.

With his closely-written pages which she passed over, there was a
little yellow note directed to her mother in a feeble scrawl.  Leaning
against the embrasure of the window, Rachel unfolded the note almost
against her will.  But the more she endeavoured to fix her attention
upon it, the more confused she became.

"My dear Lavina: I ought not to have left you--"

She stared at the words, which trailed off into an illegible run of
characters; and the note with its message for another heart, stilled
now these twenty years, slipped from her fingers.

Outside the sunlight danced on the multitudinous leaves and shimmered
on the gravel path.  Except for the sound of the sea all was silence.
A passing breeze fluttered the paper at her feet and the room was
filled with the subtle exhalation of that old regret.

She was on her knees.  She still saw Emil, heard his voice; and as if
grasping something, she opened her arms and carried them back against
her heart while her whole frame trembled.

Then the miracle held her spell-bound:

_She had been saved from the irretrievable step; she had been plucked
back from the rock's edge_.

Slowly, slowly the dry heart-flames subsided.  As mists rose from the
ground in summer after the heat and fever of the day, so something pure
as childhood, sweet as the aspirations of early youth, rose from the
depths of her soul.  All the treachery, all the longing of purely
selfish love was annihilated.  It was one of those crises when the
heart sets wide its doors; when the emotion that was personal becomes
universal.

The shrubbery was alive with insects, murmuring gently; and amid the
foliage of the trees, the birds were preparing to go to roost.  They
had reached those wistful days in late summer, which by the sea fade
away in evenings of gold and rose, which fade away into the sea itself.
A little wind set all the leaves astir.  As she looked toward the sea,
a wonderful serenity seemed to fall upon her from that radiant sunset
sky, seemed to light on her like a benediction from the dying day.

She turned her eyes in the direction of the gardener's cottage.  Owing
to a row of large trees and an intervening wall, barely more than its
red pointed roof was visible.  Buried in greenery, bathed in the calm
light, it had, at this distance, an ethereal, unreal aspect, like a
cottage seen in a picture.  About it nothing stirred.  But, as she
looked, a trail of smoke appeared above a rear gable.  This doubled
angrily upon itself, then spread out in the still air like a fan.  It
became in an instant an all-enveloping sable mass crossed by licking
tongues of red.  In the midst of the sweet country, the cottage in
utter silence was being destroyed, its burning but emphasizing the
surrounding peace.

Rachel's feet scarcely touched the stairs.  She was out of doors and
crossing the lawn without realizing her own movements.  As she ran, she
cried for help.  But she recollected that all the servants were away.
André had not been seen since the evening before; and, except for Emily
Short asleep in a distant wing, the place was deserted.  She had gone
but a few steps when a cry of horror burst from her.  _Annie_!  Where
was Annie?  When not engaged in hanging about Emil while he worked, she
was in the habit of visiting at the big house.  But that day Rachel had
not seen her.  Then she recollected Emil's words about his wife's habit
of taking a nap in the afternoon.

"Annie!--wake up!--Fire!"

Rachel's cries were confused.  She was breathless, almost falling; but
despite this excitement, the wonderful sense of peace that had come to
her remained in her heart like a dove in its nest.

She stumbled once as she crossed the lawn, and once her dress caught on
a branch.  She wrenched it free.  Beyond the wall the longer, coarser
grass impeded her steps and the rays of the setting sun, glancing
across the grass, seemed coming to meet her.

"Fire!  Annie, fire!" she called.

She was near enough to the cottage now to make out that its windows and
doors were closed.  She sprang up the path and the hot breath of flames
struck into her face.  She tried the door, it was locked; and she
divined what had happened.  Annie had feared to go to sleep with the
cottage open; when Emil had started for the station, she had locked
herself in.

In a frenzy, Rachel beat upon the door with her flattened palms.  The
vine over her head was fluttering in a keen breeze and all its leaves
were curling.  She wrenched open the nearest blind and the slat already
smoking, scorched her hands.  This house of old and seasoned timbers
was burning like paper.  she climbed over the sill.

Face down, with the skirt of her dress drawn over her head and across
her mouth, she groped her way to the chamber.  She felt along the bed;
it was empty.  Then out into the living room where the organ stood,
with lurid flashes playing over its keys, she stumbled.  And there,
lying across the threshold, was something that yielded to her touch yet
resisted it.  Gathering Annie in her arms, folding her in a spread
which she tore from a table, Rachel groped her way back to the window.
The walls of the cottage seemed drawing together like the fingers of a
hand about to close; but she scarcely felt the intense heat, was
scarcely aware of the suffocating smoke, because of that emotion which
was more than joy as it was more than peace.

As she half-dragged, half-carried her insensible burden to the window,
she felt the joy of that Freedom of which she had ever dreamed.

Annie's head fell back lifeless, and her arms hung inert; but a slight
shiver ran through her body, when, with a supreme effort, Rachel lifted
her to the sill.  For an instant she balanced her burden there; then,
not knowing what she did, blinded by the smoke, the flames that all at
once darted out upon her from every direction, she thrust the body
through the window.

She had a sense that it was received--that someone, in a frantic dear
and well-known voice, called her name.  She tried to follow, to
struggle into the sweet air, where beyond the smoke and the flames, she
knew the leaves were still dancing.  But something heavy, inflexible,
struck her head.

She fell back into the darkness.


Some minutes before the flames made their appearance above the
surrounding trees, a sombre scene took place on a slight rise of ground
at the rear of the cottage.

As Ding Dong, carrying a pail of milk he had secured at a neighbouring
farm, sauntered unsuspecting toward his master's dwelling, he felt
himself seized from behind by the waist and shoulders; his arms
grasped, bent, wrenched, his feet thrust from under him.  Dumfounded,
he sprawled on the ground with fingers of steel at his throat.  Athwart
a reddish haze he saw the livid countenance and bloodshot eyes of the
young man who had made his appearance at Gray Arches a day or two
before.

With writhings and twistings, Ding Dong tried to wrap his assailant in
sinewy arms, to close with him, to crush him in a mighty embrace; the
other fought with the strength of desperation.

Finally, pinning Ding Dong to the earth, André flung a look toward the
cottage.  The flames were now mounting above the trees.  A savage joy
distorted his face.

He laughed.

At the same instant Ding Dong, hurled him aside.  Seeing the flames,
the fellow started for the cottage with André after him, but he had
gone but a short distance, when he halted and lifted his arm.

A mournful procession was slowly crossing the open field in the light
of the waning day and André, rigid, his head advanced, caught the
flutter of a familiar dress, saw a deathlike face.

The locked doors and windows had deceived him.  Believing the cottage
deserted, he had sought to destroy the organ which, in his blindness,
he thought recommended the inventor to Rachel's favour; and he had
destroyed instead the object of his own devotion--his own love.

The flames leaping into the sky revealed all the impotence of that act
of jealousy and revenge.



CHAPTER XII

LOVE CONFRONTS DESPAIR

"No, we might disturb her, and she appears to be resting quietly.  In
her case it's a little natural exhaustion.  As for Mrs. Hart--the
spine, I'm afraid.  She rescued this one, I understand.  Well, she paid
the price.  As for the young man, he couldn't have been in the water
above half an hour.  Yes, a tragedy."

The steps, which had merely paused at the door, passed on.

Annie sat up in the bed.

It was true then; that strangled awakening, that battle with the smoke,
Rachel's voice faintly heard.  In her dream--or what she had been
striving to believe a dream--Rachel had saved her; and the dream was
truth.

The impatient, not quite friendly Rachel throwing her own life away to
save hers!  Annie's stunned mind failed to grasp the novel vision.  A
lamp stood on a chair.  Judging by the amount of oil remaining in the
glass receptacle, the lamp had been burning there for many hours.
Annie stared at the light; then, a little ball of misery and
bewilderment, she wept against the pillows.

Presently the instinct awoke in her to find the one who was her natural
comforter.

Slipping from the bed, she stood up on her feet.  At first she swayed
dizzily.  Then she managed to dress herself and quitted the room.

She reached the lighted passage.  The entire east wing of the house,
she discovered, was brightly illuminated.  She steadied herself against
the wall and peered in the direction whence came a muffled sobbing.
Outside Rachel's door Simon Hart stood with his face in his hands.

"Oh be careful!" he implored as she approached.

He had heard somewhere that in cases of injury to the spine the least
jar to the patient was sometimes fatal.  He looked at Annie without
recognizing her and the tears which he made no effort to conceal,
streamed down his face from his eyes which were filled with blank,
inconceivable despair.

At that moment the door of the chamber opened; a physician emerged.
Simon caught him by the arms.

"Is there no change, Doctor?"

"Not yet.  There--there, my poor fellow, have courage."

"But I may go in for a moment?  I don't ask to remain."

"Yes, if you will be calm."

"Oh, I will be calm, quite calm.  You can trust me for that.  But
wait--this trembling--"  And with his massive shoulders bent forward,
Simon stole into the room.

"What, you?"  And the physician caught Annie's elbow.

She looked at him.

He released her.

Between the muslin curtains, the night entered in its freshness.  Every
breeze bore tree odours, vine odours, flower odours.  In the subdued
light the bed gleamed an island of bluish white.

They had placed Rachel on a flat mattress, not venturing even to braid
her hair.  Instead, those rich and heavy locks that of late had
breathed so poignantly a youthful beauty and pride, were spread over
the linen where they framed the poor pallid cheeks.  As she lay on her
back, the lines of her mouth appeared slightly accentuated.  Her arms
were laid straight to her sides.  Never did Death more completely
express detachment.  At the bed's foot stood Emily Short, her apron to
her lips.  A nurse in a starched cap noiselessly altered the position
of a screen.

The thrilling brave act was apparent.  Annie stood a figure abashed and
small and unworthy.

Simon was unable to restrain his sobs.  The physician laid a hand on
his shoulder and he obeyed as unquestioningly as a child.  Bending over
Rachel he kissed her forehead; then followed the doctor out of the
chamber.  Annie kept at their heels.

The physician began to consult Simon about some matter and, unobserved,
Annie passed them.  She descended the stairs.  Under the door of the
front room there appeared a streak of light.  She rapped: there was no
answer; someone was in there who could not answer.

Filled with a confused memory, conjured terrors, she hastened down the
hall.  Very carefully and with great difficulty she opened the heavy
front door and stepped out on the porch.  In the light that streamed
from that east wing, she saw Emil.  He was standing with his shoulders
against a tree.  Her impulse was to run to him; she checked it.

Beneath his disordered mane his face was wild and haggard, and his
eyes, raised to a certain window, were filled with an agony no tears
had come to relieve.  Occasionally his chest lifted with a sigh.

Seized by the selfish anguish of love, Annie thrust out her chin.

_He did not belong to her, he belonged to Rachel_!  She had always
suspected.

The next instant, however, the memory of what was flashed before her
and like a flame for which there is no fuel, jealousy died in her
breast.  And what remained? A disconcerted self that wept under its own
examining eyes.

"I never could have done what Rachel did," she thought forlornly; "I
never could.  And Emil knew she was different from me, he knew she was
strong; and he loved her.  I don't blame him," with a low catch of the
breath,--"No, I don't blame him.  How could he help it?"

Hour after hour, sick and weak, she clung to a pillar of the porch
conscious only of an intensified confusion, a profound loneliness.
Gradually, as she listened to those long deep sighs, she ceased to
think of herself and longed to console Emil.  But henceforth he must
hate her as the cause of Rachel's death.  The realization sent her into
deeper shadow.

So they stood within a few yards of each other and only when dawn began
to show faintly over the water, did Annie enter the house.

She saw no one from that east wing but the doctor, who took her wrist,
feeling the pulse.

"Not the thing yet," he said, "though a decided improvement over
yesterday.  But you must show a better face than this."

She asked after Rachel.

He pretended to consult his watch.

She stepped in front of him, "Is there any chance for her, Doctor?"

He met her eyes then gravely.  "There is about one chance in a hundred
of her recovery; but go and get something to eat.  You will find the
servants about.  I am going to the city now; I shall be back again on
the noon train."

Annie went to the kitchen; she found the cook who gave her steaming
coffee.  She did not drink the coffee, but carried it through the house
and out into the garden.  She understood that Emil, fearing to betray
his grief, had moved away at the doctor's approach.  She went to the
tree by which he had been standing and placed the coffee on the grass.

A few moments later he returned.  He did not notice the cup until he
had upset it; then he stared at the stupidly rolling china, and
immediately struck off toward the beach.

Obscurely afraid of bringing shame on her who was dying, he shunned
everyone.  He remained on the beach, alternately watching the house
from a distance, and pacing up and down.

At noon Annie ventured in the direction he had taken.  He was no longer
in sight.  She went only a short way, then placed a basket of food
where it could not escape his eye.  Her preoccupation with her husband
kept her from dwelling on more tragic matters.

The next day, when she was taking his dinner to the shore, Emil spied
her.  She set down the basket hastily and started to run.  But he
beckoned to her and then called.

She went to him, lifting up a suppliant face.

His eyes as she drew near, held the look of an animal that consciously
awaits slaughter:

"How is she?"

As she did not answer at once, not knowing how to say what she must
say, he caught her shoulder in a grip that spoke the madness of
torture.  "_For God's sake, tell me!_" he almost shouted.

"There is one chance in a hundred, Alexander," she said; "but there is
one chance."

His head went up and his hand dropped.

Presently, with a convulsive breath:

"I've been a coward.  I've dodged the doctor--couldn't ask him."  His
hands clenched.  "Does she suffer?" he asked, and swung a look on her.

"No, she does not suffer," Annie answered.  "She lies there very still
as though she were asleep; and her husband stands outside the door and
will not let anyone move in that part of the house.  And in the front
room, that strange young man who came the other day is lying dead.  It
seems he was sort of unbalanced, and it was he who set the fire; Ding
Dong knows he did, for he tried to keep Ding Dong from giving the
alarm.  And then he drowned himself."

But her husband was interested in no one but Rachel.  Haggard and
unkempt, he stared at the water.

"I don't know anything about a God," he said slowly, "about a Creator,
but if He--if she lives," he amended, "I'll take my oath to give her up
as she plead with me to.  I'll never trouble her again though it tears
my heart out.  I ask only that she shall live."

"There is one chance, Alexander," Annie said bravely.

He looked around at her; then took her hand.

They sat down side by side and stared at the waves.



CHAPTER XIII

THE ESCAPE

Annie waved one hand aloft.  When she spied her husband on the beach,
she waved the other hand.  Her movement suggested flying.

"Conscious!" she cried, "she's conscious; she's going to get well!"

Emil gazed at her as at an apparition.  His knees bent, he dropped in a
heap on the sand.

Annie stooped to him: "It's life--life--life, Alexander!" she panted;
"not death--life!"

His arms went about his head.

Annie knelt and put an arm around his heaving shoulders.  She flung
back her hair, lifting her face.  "Life, life, life!" she whispered.

And it was life.

Early on the morning of the third day following the catastrophe, the
doctor spoke cautiously of an improvement in the patient; there was
unquestionably a favourable change.  But it was only when Rachel
followed the first vague opening of her eyes with a stirring of her
hands, that he spoke heartily of recovery.  No injury to the spine,
that was clear.  Merely a brain concussion, as he had hoped.  But any
excitement coming to her now--the doctor closed his medicine case with
a snap.

There was the difficulty.  How to keep his wife in a state of perfect
tranquillity, this was Simon's problem.  Hour after hour his vigilance
did duty in her chamber; but when they came, those questions of hers,
so weak he had to lean to catch them, yet charged with eagerness, he
knew not how to stem the tide.

Her first word was of Annie.  To Simon this question, after the long
stillness, was like a star trembling out of complete black night.  He
could have wept on hearing her.

"Is Annie safe?" she murmured, and followed the inquiry with a
beseeching glance; "is she well?"

Mindful of his task, he lifted an admonishing finger, while answering
her strongly in the affirmative.

"Annie," he said, "is safe and sound; she's as right as possible."

She smiled up at him, a picture of peace and thankfulness.  But a few
moments later anxiety spoke in a soft contraction of her brow:
"Emil--is he well?"

"Yes, he's well; we're all well, and all of us in high spirits because
of you, dear.  But you must obey the doctor."

Once more Rachel exhibited a face of repose; but almost immediately her
eyes flew wide.

"All?" she echoed, "you said all?"

Simon repeated his words stoutly.

"André too?"

He bent his head with a stifled "yes."

At something in his voice, she managed to lift herself, and as she
looked at him a colourless and piteous smile came upon her lips.

"Not André," she said.

"Why do you say that?" and, settling her on the pillows, he affected to
laugh at the fancy, but her changed aspect alarmed him.

"Because of your face, because I did not see André after--"  Her
features seemed hidden beneath a veil of dumb suffering.  Then her
whole countenance shut on a thought; an immense concentration chained
her.  Directly she felt for his hand.

"André is still here?" she asked.

"Yes."

"May I see him?"

Simon's look wavered and his eyes sank under hers.  His attempt to
deceive was manifest, plain as the Writing on the Wall.

"Oh not now," he said, striving for an air that should restore her
confidence, "you can't see anyone now, you know."

But her suspicions were past allaying, though she swerved swiftly to
another question.

"The fire," she demanded.  "Do they know what caused the fire?"

"Oh, some carelessness, doubtless.  Mrs. St. Ives may have dropped a
match."

Once more Rachel half lifted herself.  She shook her head, scanning him
fixedly.

"Annie was asleep--the cottage locked.  Simon, is it known who set that
fire?"

He gasped, unable to believe the astonishing thing: she was actually
taking the facts from his mind.  He opened his lips, but she needed no
answer.

"Oh," she whispered, on a long breath, "I understand.  And _now_--now
where is he?" and her fingers closed on his convulsively.  "_Now?_"
Her voice rose.

Helplessly Simon met her look and his jaw hung.

"He is dead," she said, and relaxed her hold.

Seeing that she had guessed all through the marvellous second-sight of
love, Simon told her the story briefly, striving, however, to lessen
its sadness by relating it in a voice soothing as the ripple of a
stream.

"And directions came to-day from the mother," he concluded, "so St.
Ives can start with the--the boy, to-morrow morning early.  There's a
milk train passes through here at five; it will be flagged.  In that
way St. Ives will make good connections.  As for Mrs. St. Ives--"
Simon might have been telling her any news, save that he hastened his
speech a little as he struck into this new subject--"she goes along
too.  She will stop in the city, however, for the John Street place is
all ready for occupancy and it seemed wisest--  My darling Rachel! my
own reasonable brave girl!" he cried.  "You know you always said the
lad was not quite right mentally and he certainly had that air; the
servants all remarked it."

From her closed eyes, over her white cheeks, her tears rolled steadily.
"Poor, poor André," she whispered.

She knew--she guessed all.  She remembered praising the organ
attachment to André.  And later he had witnessed that mad meeting
between her and Emil in the garden.  As she imagined the boy, lost,
wandering, inflamed with jealousy; remorse intolerable and overwhelming
filled her.  She had driven him to the desperate act.

Never the less Simon's gravest apprehensions were relieved.  Almost
with the first glimmer of returning consciousness she had divined the
truth and it had not wrecked her, for after that first rain of tears,
the strange and lofty look of peace returned to her face.  André had
been unhappy; now he was no longer so.  His need of her guidance had
been imperative; now that need no longer existed.  Dear heart, dear,
simple, clinging soul!  And the comforting comparison struck her of a
little lost child with its hand safely locked at last in the hand of
the All-Father.

She spoke no more until evening; then, as if pursuing a subject that
had just been mentioned:

"And Emil will go with him?  He will see André's mother?"

"Yes, dearest."

"And he will tell her the truth?  For you must explain to Emil, Simon,
that he need not hide the truth from Lizzie.  Any fiction about André
she'd see through: she's his mother.  And Emil is to say that I will
write and that soon I will come."

"Yes, he will tell her."

"And before they start, Emil and Annie,--they will come here?"

She was so bent on seeing them it seemed unwise to oppose her.

When Simon leaned over her bed in the morning, he knew from her
expression that she was alert to the muffled commotion below stairs--to
those sharp hammerings, those stealthy treads, those
silences--throbbingly alert, although there was no diminution in the
radiance of her eyes.

"They have come, dearest," he said, and left the room.

Emil and Annie came forward.  Never before at any time had they seen
Rachel as she appeared to them now.  The courage of her strong young
face was mingled with a look of unutterable sweetness.  She reached a
hand to each.

Instantly Annie was on her knees and Rachel had her head in the curve
of a feeble arm.  She pressed Annie's head to her breast with fingers
tremulous with blessing as a mother's.  They said nothing--no words
were needed.

Rising, Annie stole to a distant window.

Rachel had kept her hold on Emil.  Now once more she looked at him with
a smile that expressed more love than she had ever shown him before.
Such complete, such utter tenderness, he had never dreamed eyes could
hold.  And yet in those soft depths so earthly-sweet, he saw
renunciation shining through devotion.

He blanched.

In a voice in which there was a tremour she could not control, Rachel
spoke of his work and of herself as watching his progress with
eagerness.

"For I long, I long more than you can realize to have you make the best
possible use of your life.  I have set my hopes on you, such high
hopes, Emil; and you will not disappoint me."

Finally, panting a little but with electrical energy, with exquisite
passionateness, she spoke of the open vision of love.  "It is," she
said, letting her eyes dwell wistfully in his, "the forgetting of
ourselves and--and the abandonment of our self-seeking.  This is the
soul's way out.  And it is the only way out," she insisted.

At first he did not understand, but gradually as he listened, helpless
in his grief, her words opened out before him like a pathway that led
somewhere into peace.

He looked down at her, his eyes flaming as if all his life had
centralized and focused within them.  Then he bent and laid his
forehead on her arm.

What with weak souls requires time, even long years, powerful natures
achieve at once.  In the silence Emil's oath was fulfilled.

Summoning Annie, Rachel kissed her; and the other, with timid
impulsiveness, slipped a little hand in that of her husband.  So they
left Rachel.  But at the door they turned.  She was still gazing after
them with a mute, almost mystic concentration.  Meeting their look,
however, she suddenly smiled and in her eyes was the splendour of some
newly-discovered truth.

Something she had long wished for had been gained.  She felt a sense of
supreme restfulness and this sense deepened and increased even as she
lent an ear to the sound of the wheels on the gravel, those wheels that
were carrying from her, through the stillness of the morning world, the
two who had loved her wildly and whom she had loved.

When Simon returned, he found her leaning on her elbow.  The nurse had
carried out the night-lamp and the chamber was filled with a wan
half-light.

"The box, Simon, will you hand it to me?"

He did not know at first to what she referred; his brow flew up in
wrinkles: then he brought the little Swiss clock from its place on her
dressing-table.

"Now wind it," she said.

He wound the pretty plaything, and placed it on her raised knees.

Lying back on her pillows, her hands folded across her breast, Rachel
listened to the tiny bird, and as she listened, a little, tender,
understanding smile touched her lips.

When the golden shell had closed over the performer she looked up at
her husband:

"Its song is the song of freedom, isn't it?"

But for Simon these words had no meaning.  He had not slept for several
nights, and as he replaced the box in its former position, he stumbled.
He took a chair beside the bed and his head sank.  Lower and lower it
sank until it rested on the pillow beside hers.  She laid her hand on
it.

And ever the day waxed stronger.  Now as the mist began to lift, the
wild birds awoke in the garden.  Here and there from a tree sounded a
tentative chirp.  The air moved in currents of keener freshness.
Everything breathed of the dawn.  Rachel turned her eyes to the sea and
on her face was the light of her inner vision.

Thus Love solves all the problems that torture the soul of man; through
beauty and through silence, it speaks to the heart of a Freedom beyond
all its earthly dreams.



THE END





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