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Title: Changeling and Other Stories
Author: Byrne, Donn
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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CHANGELING

AND OTHER STORIES


BY

DONN BYRNE

Author of "The Wind Bloweth," "Messer Marco Polo," etc.



_New York & London_

THE CENTURY CO.



Copyright, 1923, by

The Century Co.



PRINTED IN U. S. A.



DEDICATION

So you are going to bring out a book of your stories, said the Old Poet.

I think I am, sir, said I.

I'm sorry for it, said the Old Poet, for it won't have a friend in the
world.

When it comes to the publishing of books, people are always
pessimistic, and, in my case, always right.  Success, I am sufficient
of a heretic to believe, matters little, but friendship a great deal.
And I could as little think of sending a story friendless into the
world as I would of sending a child, or horse, or dog.  So "Changeling"
itself I will put under the friendly hand of the Right Honorable the
Lord Justice O'Connor, who will find law treated in it in a _dégagé_
manner that will surprise even him.  And "The Parliament at Thebes" I
dedicate to Addison and Josephine Hanan.

For Bulmer and Clare Hobson, near Three-Rock Mountain, is "Delilah, Now
It Was Dusk," and for Brinsley MacNamara, that splendid Irish novelist,
"Wisdom Buildeth Her House."  And "In Praise of Lady Margery Kyteler"
for Arthur Somers Roche, in memory of a chivalrous kindness.

"Reynardine" for Miss OEnone Somerville and in memory of Martin
Ross--their pens were one of the lost Irish glories.  "Irish" for
Jeffrey Farnol--none more than he loves and understands the Ring.  And
I am sorry there is not a story of war and its intricacies in the
collection to dedicate to my friend Lieutenant-General J. J. O'Connell.

I have not by hundreds come to the end of those whom I love to think my
friends; but so many of them are sportsmen that to dedicate stories to
them would be like giving a two-year-old racer to a maiden and
church-going lady, loading her with responsibility and embarrassment,
so that--

So that the rest of the stories can go out and make friends for
themselves, and if they can't, 't was surely a poor hand that wrote
them.

Donn Byrne.

By the Cinque Ports,
  England.  1923.



Contents


Changeling

The Barnacle Goose

Belfasters

The Keeper of the Bridge

In Praise of Lady Margery Kyteler

Reynardine

Dramatis Personæ

Wisdom Buildeth Her House

The Parliament at Thebes

Delilah, Now It Was Dusk

A Quatrain Of Ling Tai Fu's

"Irish"

By Ordeal of Justice



CHANGELING AND OTHER STORIES



CHANGELING

I

To outward appearance the whole of the courtroom scene was drab,
ordinary.  There was the stuffy rectangle of a room, half dark in the
January dusk, for all that the electric lights glowed with meager
incandescence.  There was the judge, in his robe, at the desk of the
court.  There were the jurymen, solemn as in church.  There the court
stenographers, bald, active as ants.  There the men of the daily
journals, more aloof, more judicial than the judge.  There the press of
morbid spectators, leaning forward like runners on the mark.  There the
policemen, court attendants, whatnot, relaxed of body, concentrated of
eye, jealous of the dignity of the court as a house-dog of its master's
home.  Through the windows of the court could be seen the bulk of the
Tombs, heavy, hopeless, horrible as the things whence it takes its
chilly name.

The case of the people _versus_ Anna Janssen for the murder of Alastair
de Vries droned on.

The district attorney, youngish, slim, lithe, a little sinister--the
impression of a hunting-dog all over him--was examining a witness, a
rat-faced man who had something of the old-time bartender or private
detective about him.

"It was your business, as attendant at the Oriental Garden, to see that
order was kept?"

"Yes, sir."

"There was no semblance of disorder at all until you heard the shot
fired?"

"No, sir."

"Mr. De Vries was at a table with a party?"

"Yes, sir."

"You heard the shot and you saw Mr. De Vries fall forward?"

"Yes, sir.  Crumpled up, sort of."

"Then you ran to him?"

"Yes, sir."

"You saw the woman Janssen back of the hall with a revolver?"

"Yes, sir."

"What was she doing?"

"She was laughing."

"Was she drunk?"

"The laugh sounded drunk."

"Was she very much under the influence of liquor?"

"She could n't have been, else she would n't have got away."

"You are certain that it was the prisoner?"

All eyes in the court-room were turned to the prisoner in the dock.
And there was in the sordid trial chamber a sense of great disturbance
in the air, though, from the minds and personalities of all gathered
there, there rose in gray tendrils a haze of doubt, of disbelief, of
mystery.

She sat in the dock, in the sordid court-room, among the unseemly
officers and the public, as a statue in some public square might stand
above the rabble.  Mature, magnificent, the prisoner seemed almost like
some goddess from a Norse mythology.

First, her strange coloring made all catch their breath.  Her face was
tanned to an absolutely golden hue, and out of this work of delicate
bronze there looked, calm and confident, two eyes that were blue as
sea-water.  Her eyebrows, her hair, were bleached by the sun until her
eyebrows were two half-moons of silver, until her hair was the pale,
beautiful gold of honey in dark lights and like vivid strands of live
silver when the light fell on it.  She had the strange, exotic
appearance of the women of Saba Isle, the ancient colony of Holland
sailors and Carib Indian belles, a small dot in the West Indies where
there is a town on the top of a mountain, and life is as in the garden
of the Hesperides.

It was not alone her coloring, her splendid face.  From her there came
such an aura of health, of spiritual strength, it seemed impossible
that this woman was the chorus girl Janssen who had been the cast-off
mistress of the rake and spendthrift De Vries, who had been drunk, who
attended cabarets with wine-merchants and Broadway belles.  This woman!
Impossible!  In her own calm eyes there seemed also a look that said
more: "This is ridiculous.  I can't have done this.  Why am I here?
Why don't they get up and let me go?"

Even the rat-faced witness was perturbed.

"The prisoner in the dock?" he said with a sense of puzzled wonder.
"The prisoner in the dock?"

"Well, don't mind the prisoner in the dock, then.  It was the woman
Janssen you saw."

"I am sure of that."

"You were well acquainted with her appearance.  You couldn't have been
mistaken?"

"No, sir, I could not have been mistaken.  She was often at the
Oriental with Mr. De Vries.  Sometimes every night for a week.  I could
not have been mistaken.  It was she shot Mr. De Vries."

The district attorney sat down, with a gesture of his hand toward
Howard Donegan, the prisoner's counsel.  With his massive body, with
his massive head, with his cruel jurist's face, Howard Donegan was as
much a part of the attraction for the public as was the prisoner, the
notoriety of the ten-year-old case, the romantic capture of Annette
Janssen.  The great Irish-American was the foremost criminal lawyer of
his day, all but invincible when defending a man or a woman with the
slightest chance of escape, and right on his side.  As a cross-examiner
he was dreaded as the plague.  The public would get the thrill of
seeing a superbly cruel and magnificent performance when Donegan arose.
Even now the rat-faced witness shook as with ague as Donegan turned
casually toward him, with hooded eyes.  But Donegan shook his head.  He
did not wish to cross-examine.

Even the judge was surprised.

"Did I hear aright?"  He leaned forward, his fine mystic's face in
lines of doubt and worry.  "The counsel for the prisoner does not wish
to cross-examine?"

"Your Honor heard aright.  I will not cross-examine."

Through the big chamber there was a buzz of comment, of doubt, of all
but horror.  Was there nothing to be done for this woman?  Even if she
did kill De Vries, give her a sporting chance for her life!  "What is
Donegan doing?" the public, the attendants, the newspaper reporters
asked themselves with mistrust.  Was he throwing her down?

There was a tensing in court, a tightening, as of drama.  Already there
was a sense in every one's chilled veins of the horrible harness of the
electric chair.  But Donegan only drowsed.

"You can step down," the Court told the witness.

The rat-faced man crept from the witness-box, white, shaking still with
the fear of Donegan's eye.  He tried to get a seat in the benches, but
none would make room for him.  And though he had only done his duty,
and that at command of the law, there was about him, as he slunk from
the room, the look there was about him who was surnamed Iscariot, as he
crept from the garden on the Mount of Olives, on the world's most
tragic dawn....  Like a story from some old book there unrolled before
the public the history of Anna Janssen of ten, or twelve, or fifteen
years before, in a New York we know no longer, so changed is it in that
brief space.  Then it was a riotous spendthrift, a glorious waster,
hell-roaring, somehow lovable, and now it is a burgess of standing,
with all the burgess virtues.

And the eyes of the court-room glistened as old names appeared like
Falstaffian ghosts.  The Poodle Dog, the German Village, the Holland
House, the Knickerbocker.  Gorgeous, blowsy, out of a dim past they
rose for an instant.  Baron Wilkins's and Nigger Mike's.  And there was
the thin clink of glasses across forgotten bars.  And at three o'clock
of a morning the flying wedge at Pat's was hurling some truculent guest
to the sidewalk.  And gunmen were gunmen then, not strike-breakers.

Old days, great days, and only a dozen years before.  And John
Barrymore was not _Richard III_ but the comedian of "Are You a Mason?"
And Mr. Chambers had written "The Danger Mark," and Lieutenant Becker
still patrolled the streets.  And Mannie Chappelle and Diamond Jim were
still alive and merry, who are now dust, God rest them!  And cops
grafted and politics were corrupt, after the old and pleasant
tradition.  And out of the side door of saloons came the old-fashioned
drunkard, who with the old-fashioned ghost-story and the old-fashioned
Christmas is laid to rest forevermore.  And the voice of Dr. Parkhurst
was heard through the land.

Ichabod!  Gone is glory!

The night life of Paris was hectic, hysterical.  The night life of
Berlin was heavy, somehow sinister.  But, lush, extravagant, now
joyous, now _macabre_, the foam of New-World liquor, the night life of
New York challenged the heavens with streaming rays, retiring only
before the chaste, armored dawn.  Like some Thousand and One Nights of
some writer of the people, it challenged the imagination, it intrigued,
it repelled.  Overdone not seldom, often in bad taste, but virile,
rude, and unabashed, it claimed recognition with brazen clamor.

And on this stage, and against this background, now leading woman to De
Vries, now being supported by a caste of wasters, brokers, men about
town, there moved Anna Janssen, the Swedish Beauty.  Cast in the form
and figure of a Norse goddess, fit for great epics, she was a figurante
in a debauched side-show.  Her eyes, which were blue as the sea and
should have been pure and passionate as the sea, were drenched with
wine, and her mouth, with its clear-cut outlines as of a woman of the
painter Zorn's, which should have been firm as a budding flower, was
relaxed and wet from kissing.

A woman of Broadway, hungered after and yet despised, she might have
gone the accustomed path that leads from the chattering magnificence of
Broadway to the sinister silence of Potter's Field.  Down the old
beaten decline toward sordid Death she could have gone, and none would
have tried to stay her, none to help.  And then the end.  And the only
result would have been a little chilling in the hearts of the newer
Beauties of Broadway, a ghost whispering in their hearts the most
terrible of epitaphs: The wages of sin is death.  For a moment only.
And some celebrity of Broadway might feel sad for an hour, with easy
sentiment: "Poor Anna!  And I knew her when she wore diamonds, and New
York was at her feet!"  Or some respectable citizen in his warm home
might treasure secret, ashamed memories, and never avow them.  And some
one might even seek out her grave to say a hurried prayer and make an
offering of flowers.  And the rest would be silence.

But that, in a mood of drunken pique, she shot and killed Alastair de
Vries!

Of her life there is little to be said.  It is a life that a thousand
girls have lived.  Admit the evidence which satisfied a judge in a
trial of murder and it boils down to this: The daughter of a Brooklyn
mechanic, she got a place in the chorus of a big musical comedy, and
was flattered and courted by the blades of Broadway.  And the one to
whom she fell victim was Alastair de Vries, who had forsaken Fifth
Avenue to travel westward to Broadway.  Of the old patroon stock which
had settled New Amsterdam and been lords of the manor along the Hudson
before the English came, bankers and traders, soldiers and explorers,
all there remained of them was one moneyed boy who saw adventure only
in ruining the daughters of tradesmen where his forebears had seen it
in hacking out the destiny of a New World.

Blond, rather chubby, not yet thirty, Alastair de Vries had already had
a large biography in the Sunday papers and weeklies of gossip in New
York.  Annette Janssen was one of perhaps twenty conquests and she was
not the last.  She was the all but last.

He took her from the chorus, gave her everything she desired, made her
for her brief life the semiannual queen of Broadway.

And then a small brunette came along, acclaimed as the Queen of the
Ponies, and, turning like a flash, De Vries hurried to conquer the new
arrival.  And Anna shot him, not because of jealousy, not because she
loved him, but just to make trouble.

There's her life for you.  There are what the dazzling facts of her
queendom of Broadway amount to.  There they are, without their glitter
and romance.  Through the black magic of Sinister Alley they shine like
fireflies, but, like fireflies, in the calm sanity of daytime they are
nothing but grubby crawling things we flick from our palms with a
_moue_ of distaste....


Day followed day, and witness witness, and item by item the sordid
chronicle was written.  Each fact attested and proved to the
satisfaction of the court, to the satisfaction of the public.  It was a
sort of journey toward a definite objective--a journey on which the
public was invited to see Justice hearken to the call of the people of
the State of New York.

There was no doubt about it.  Coldly, callously, for a whim, in a
moment of piqued vanity, a chorus girl had shot a gentleman.

And then in the mind of every one there loomed, as it approached nearer
until its horrible lines, its terrifying aura were visible, the
objective of the voyage--the dreadful electric chair.

"Why does n't Donegan do something?  Why?  Why?  Why does n't he put up
a fight at least?"

But Donegan drowsed on.  Only when the prisoner in the dock threw him a
swift look of appeal, as she did occasionally when some damning point
was raised, did he drop the granite mask.  Now and then her face would
blanch under the tan, and her mouth quiver.  And then would come a
miracle in Donegan.  Those harsh bulldog features would relax, the
glinting eyes open, and over the hated face would play the smile
of--oh, forty years ago--when he was just an innocent, likable Irish
boy, and not a great jurist, whom communion with the sinister qualities
of the law, and battles for life and liberty, and knowledge of strange
strata in the minds of men, which is good for none to know, had
transformed into a dark angel with a protective and flaming sword.

But the smile did n't reassure the public.

"Yes, he 's smiling.  He 's confident, all right.  But why does n't he
do something?"

Had the people in the court-room read of this trial in their
homes--read the bare facts, the testimony of witnesses, there was not
one who would have wasted a second thought on Anna Janssen.  Perhaps in
the hearts of one or two there would have lingered the feeling that it
was not right she should be strapped horribly in the chair.  But that
would have been chivalry, not justice.  One and all would have said:
"That is what the death penalty is for--to remove from human contact
one who has no right to God's sunshine, and who has arrogated to her
vile and puny self the right of the Creator, the disposal of human
life.  Muffle her up.  Hustle her away.  Throw on the current and hide
her in quicklime.  Life is not for such as she!"

But between the woman whom the witnesses had drawn in black, sinister
colors and the lady in the dock there was a continent of difference.
True, she was the same height, the same figure, but for a healthy
development of years.  True, such marks of identification as Anna
Janssen the chorus girl had, might be noted on the body of her who was
a prisoner at the bar.

But the body of Anna Janssen the chorus girl was soft and white and
made for sinister loving, while that of the woman in the dock was
healthy and hard and tanned, after the fashion of Eve, whom the Lord
God made in the garden.  And Anna Janssen's had swayed alluringly with
provocative sophistication, while the carriage of this woman was erect
and of great dignity.  And the eyes of the chorus girl had been full of
evil knowledge and unhealthy flame, but this woman's had wistfulness
and a strange mystery.

And in the heart of every one there rose a cry: "This is not the same
woman.  This is a good woman!"

There is a theory of an old medical school whose name--not that it
matters--I regret to have forgotten.  And it is this: that every seven
years the human body changes.  We have not the same bones, nor the same
skin, the same muscles at thirty-five that we had at twenty-eight.
They are worn out and are eliminated, and new tissue takes their place.
It may be wrong, but it is a very taking theory.  It explains to us how
the track athlete of some years ago becomes the paunchy, bald-headed,
repulsive man of to-day.  It explains how the well-fed man of the world
may turn into a harsh-faced monk.  It explains to us how the soft,
succubine chorus girl of a dozen years before became the splendid
amazon that Anna Janssen is to-day.

And yet this may be wrong about the body.  But about the mind (and
there you have the inner person) there is one thing certain, not a
theory but a fact--that people change completely.  Like a child's
slate, the mind is, on which a thousand things are written.  The young
take so much for granted; the old know.  And gallantly they write this
for a fact, that for a falsehood.  But day by day they live and learn,
as the old saw goes.  And simple equations become quadratic.  And the
writing on the slate is altered month by month, as new factors of life
are realized.  All is a correction, a readjustment.

This is gradual, but occasionally, very occasionally, by some mental or
spiritual cataclysm all on the slate is sponged clear.  And a new and
startling departure takes its place.  As we see in the inner
personality of Anna Janssen the change from the petty arithmetic of
Broadway, the venal crooked sums of Sinister Street, to the gigantic
calculus of life as the Lord God conceived it, when He formed man of
the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of
life; and man became a living soul....


The district attorney turned from his last witness to the twelve men in
the box.  "Gentlemen," he said, in the manner of a workman well
satisfied with the progress of the job in hand, "I have proved the
crime and proved the perpetrator, the circumstances, the setting, the
motive.  There is but one more thing to be done to clinch this case
home like a nail in a horse's shoe.  It is now ten years between the
time this murder was committed and the bringing of the prisoner to the
bar of justice.  There is but one more thing to do to remove the
smallest iota of doubt that the prisoner at the bar and Anna Janssen,
Alastair de Vries's mistress, are one and the same person.  And to
prove this I shall call to the witness-stand the detective who arrested
Anna Janssen in Tahiti, and in whose custody the prisoner has been from
that day until she was brought to justice here--a period of nine years
and four months in all."

"Officer Thomas McCarthy!"

"Officer Thomas McCarthy to the stand."

The public craned forward, and with that strange shifting sound that
betokens an immensity of interest they settled themselves in their
seats for the recital of the detective.  Here was the great attraction
of the trial--the story of McCarthy and Anna Janssen alone on a desert
island, a murderess and the officer who arrested her.  More than the
morbid interest of the killing of De Vries, more than the realistic
tale of old New York that was, more than the spectacle of a woman
dicing for her life, more than the prospect of watching Donegan, the
greatest of criminal lawyers, harass the court, and pound the battered
witnesses, and at last possibly and probably carry off the prisoner as
in an old-time rescue from Tyburn, was the promised recital of the
adventure in the lonely Southern sea.  There had been one romantic
story of it in one day of the papers, and then no more, for the matter
would have called forth intense comment from the papers, arousing
sympathy or hatred, and the case was _sub judice_.

But that one story stirred the imagination of the public.  And the
sordid tale told of a woman killing her fickle lover in an attack of
offended vanity faded into a golden haze of romance.  The scented smell
of the tropics came to their nostrils, and their eyes saw golden sands
and phosphorescent seas.  And here the palms murmured with a rustle as
of exotic silks, and the Bird of Paradise winged its iridescent flight
through the opaque Marquesan dusk.  And the spirits of strange gods
moved upon the face of the waters....

Here was a setting for Scheherazade and here characters for a master
writer: a patrolman of New York, young, athletic, unspoiled, canny with
the knowledge of his native city, brave as only his kind is brave; and
here a woman from the sloughs of the Tenderloin, an admitted beauty, a
proven murderess.

What drama had happened in that isle of dreams, in that immense act of
nine rolling years?  And did she love him, or did she hate him?  And
had he succumbed to her, as Adam to Lilith in Eden, before Eve was?  Or
had he resisted her as Anthony of Egypt resisted the succuba in the
desert near Fayum?  And did she wheedle him with words sweeter than
honey?  Or did she curse him with strange black blasphemies?  Or was it
just one long, dumb vigil of hatred?  Or had they become friends,
hunter and hunted, marooned now on the islands of strange dead gods?

In God's name, what?

At any rate they would soon know.

"Officer Thomas McCarthy, this way!"

Then, of a sudden, up rose Howard Donegan.  The judge on his bench, the
jurymen, the prosecuting attorney, the court, the prisoner herself, all
looked at him with a hesitant surprise.  Somehow his action was
surprisingly dramatic.  He stood up slowly and said nothing, but looked
around.  Into the drama of crime and romance, there was injected a new
element, powerful, sluggish, but immensely sure.

"If it please the Court," went his heavy, significant voice, "may I say
a few words?"

"It is hardly regular, at this period, Mr. Donegan," the judge said,
puzzled.  "Surely you will have an opportunity later on."

"The opportunity is opportune only now."  Like some strange gargoyle in
an old cathedral the great animal appeared.  His eyes, under their
threatening hoods, were black and beady like the eyes of some
malevolent creature of the jungle.  His mouth, a wide, thin slit,
pouted like the mouth of a fish.  His sedentary body was massive and
grotesque like some monster of a mad artist's drawing.  His voice
creaked like unoiled machinery.  But--God!--what power was there!

"Your Honor, men of the jury, and Mr. District Attorney, at any point I
could have obstructed the course of this trial until all of you were
weary in your chairs.  I could have obfuscated facts and motives and
testimony until you were as uncertain of truth as Pilate.  The woman
Wilkins--I could have shown that her word was no more to be depended on
than the word of the village idiot.  Mr. Howland Christy, De Vries's
relative--I could have shaken him on the stand until he would have been
uncertain of his testimony, for he is an honest man.  And the usher of
the cabaret--if I had concentrated on him, I could have made that
whisky-sodden brain, that broken will, contradict everything he had
said.

"But I did none of these things.  I made no haze of doubt out of honest
facts.  For why?  Because these facts are true.  I grant them freely!"

There were a rustle and a murmur in the room.  The public was suddenly
aghast.  What was this from Donegan?  Treachery?  Who ever heard of a
counsel granting things like that?  Good Lord! what was the man doing?
The murmuring went on in spite of the judge's gavel, the attendants'
cries.

Donegan swept the room with his black, minatory glance, and the
murmuring died.

"Your Honor, Mr. District Attorney, men of the jury, a crime is not an
instantaneous action.  What goes before a crime is important, and not
less important is what follows it.  Has the affair been brooded over,
or has it been the result of momentary passion, and has the deed been
regarded with smug satisfaction, or with quaking horror?

"And what effect has this had on the prisoner, on the world, on its
time?  So many things have to be taken into consideration when we are
adjudging the crime.

"Gentlemen, the law and legal procedure are as easy to comprehend as a
child's primer.  The office of the district attorney is to see that a
malefactor is brought to justice.  The office of the jury is to decide
whether that action was or was not done.  The object of the judge is to
weigh, decide, and in the name of the people say what shall be done
with a member of the community who has hurt the interests of the
community by his or her action.  The duty of the counsel for the
prisoner is to see that his client is not traduced by false witnesses,
nor his or her liberty endangered by unfacts.

"But the object of all in the court-room is to see that justice is
done, though the heavens crumble.

"I have examined no witnesses.  I shall examine none.  But I ask this
in the latitude of the Court, and in the name of that Justice whose
servants we one and all are, as much myself, advocate for the prisoner,
as the district attorney for the people of the State of New York, as
the jury in the box, as the judge on his bench: that the next witness,
Thomas McCarthy, shall be allowed to tell his own story in his own way,
relating facts which may not seem germane to the case, but which I
claim are as pertinent as the pistol with which the crime was committed
or the _corpus delicti_ itself.  I ask this of the Court and I request
the Court so to direct."

"This is hardly regular, Mr. Donegan."

"I ask this in the name of Justice!"

"This is a court of Justice, Mr. Donegan."  The judge's manner had a
slight rebuke.  "But if the district attorney is agreeable--"

The district attorney, a little nettled, but rather awed before the
tremendous purpose of Donegan, shrugged his shoulders.

"Very well, Mr. Donegan," the judge nodded.  "The district attorney--"
Donegan addressed the jury--"is calling Thomas McCarthy to prove the
identity of Anna Janssen.  He is an officer of the City of New York, a
witness for the State of New York.  The attorney has called him to
prove that the prisoner in the dock is Anna Janssen.  I shall not
examine him.  But when he has given his testimony for the district
attorney he will have given his testimony for me.

"And I shall have proven that the chorus girl who killed Alastair de
Vries is not the woman who stands in the dock!"

There was an instant's sighing from the courtroom, a momentary
relaxation.  So Donegan had fought and won his first fight, and now
they were going to hear the History of the Spicy Isles.  Now all the
mystery would be lifted that had been hanging about the court-room like
a necromancer's mist.

"Call Thomas McCarthy!" Donegan barked from the side of his mouth.

"Officer Thomas McCarthy."

"Thomas McCarthy to the stand!"

As he stood in the witness-box, McCarthy seemed to bulk tremendously in
the room.  As Anna Janssen seemed to fill the court spiritually, so he
seemed to fill it physically.  Emanations of strength, emanations of
power came from him like current from a battery.  He was not six feet
tall, but so erect did he stand, so free was his carriage that he
seemed to tower above all in the court-room.  He was not a big man, but
he suggested tremendous strength, so easily with the smallest movement
did the sinews ripple beneath his coat.  Brown as copper, his face had
not the strange mystery of Anna Janssen's, because his eyes and hair
were black, where hers were fair.  Yet he was strange.

It was principally that he was out of place in his city clothes.  One
could have imagined him easily as some young athlete in the Olympic
games, hurling the discus possibly, or flinging himself over the high
jump.  Or one might have suffered him in the clothes of summer in the
country, soft rolling collar and roomy sport coat.  But in the
"business suit" of some department-store, he seemed like an actor some
inept stage manager had dressed.  Grotesquely, a police badge was
pinned to the lapel of his coat.

As he entered the box, Anna Janssen turned toward him with a swift
outpouring of her eyes.  It might have been interest, but it was warmer
than interest.  It might have been appeal, but it was more confident
than appeal.

"You are plain-clothes officer Thomas McCarthy?" the district attorney
examined.

"Yes, sir.  Number eight thousand nine hundred and seventeen."

"Attached to police headquarters?"

"Yes, sir."

"Tell us the circumstances under which you arrested the prisoner."

"The Commissioner--the Commissioner--"  McCarthy began, faltered,
suddenly stopped.

"Yes, the Commissioner."

But McCarthy seemed struck by sudden panic.

"Yes, yes!" the district attorney became irritable.  "The
Commissioner--"  He rapped the table.

Donegan rose.

"McCarthy," he explained gently, "has had no one to talk to for seven
years but my client.  He finds it hard to get his words right.  Take
your time, McCarthy," he told the witness.  "Close your eyes.  Say it
as if you were saying it to yourself."

The prisoner threw him a look of gratitude.

"I was on the vice squad under Inspector O'Gara."  The witness found
words at last.  "One morning the Commissioner sends for me.  It was
when the trouble was on about the graft in the Raines-law hotels.  The
Commissioner looks at me kind of hard.

"'Are you on the square, McCarthy?' he says.

"'Yes, Commissioner, I 'm on the square,' I tells him.

"'It's news to me they 's any one on the square,' the Commissioner
laughs kind o' mean.

"'Tell me, McCarthy, were you ever mixed up with a woman?'  I gets
chilled all over, because I thinks some one's trying to frame me.

"'No, sir.  Never,' I answers.

"'Then why were n't you?'

"'I don't know,' I says, 'except it was my people were from Ireland and
brought me up their own way.  When I was a kid, Commissioner, I could
go to confession without holding out, and I guess I can do it to-day.'

"'Oh, you 're one of them good Irish cops,' he sneers.  'I heard tell
on them, but I never met one before.'

"'Well, you meet him now.'  I looks him cold in the eye.  And then I 'm
sorry, because I sees he means nothing.  He 's just sore.

"'Well, square cop,' he says, 'I got a job for you.  Anna Janssen,' he
says, 'is found.  A rich guy hides her and brings her to Tahiti on his
yacht.  She's there now.  The French authorities,' he says, 'have made
a pinch.  Go get her.'

"'All right,' I says, and turns to go.

"'Just a moment, McCarthy,' he says.  'I said: "Get her."  You
understand?  Get her.  And keep her.  Was a man to try and escape on
you, what would you do?'

"'I 'd shoot,' I says.  'I 'd bring him in, alive or dead.'

"'Well, shoot her.'

"'Oh, gee, Chief!' I says.  'I can't shoot a woman.'

"'Well, then, shoot yourself,' he says.  'At any rate, if you come home
alone, come home cold storage.  I 'll pay the freight.  And that 'll be
all,' he says.

"I goes to Paris, and from Paris to Marseilles--"

"That's all right, McCarthy," the district attorney waived.  "It does
n't matter how you went.  Tell us what happened at Tahiti."

"In Tahiti something tells me all is not right.  The steamer I come on
docks in the morning and leaves that afternoon, and I hopes to make it
with Janssen.  Maybe it's because I can't get their French and our
consul is not a well man, but they delay me until the steamer goes and
then I 'm left flat.  The extradition papers must be in order, they
say.  But there is too much of this belle-prisoner stuff.

"Well, all's finished and they takes me to her.  'Well, Janssen,' I
says, 'we got you.'  'Now that you got me, what are you going to do
with me?' she laughs; and every one laughs.  Right away I see they 're
all rooting for her, and they like me like a souse likes water.

"Honest, Judge, I don't blame them.  They's few white women in that
place and, such as they are, they 're not lookers.  And the Kanaka
girls, for all they are pretty as a picture, they ain't human and they
_ain't_ healthy, you know, as we white people think.  Anna certainly
had the looks, and was white, and had the pep, and they were all crazy
about her.  The Frenchmen are daffy about women, and they don't think
nothing about a woman shooting a man--nothing at all.

"So they smiles at me and they says, 'You must see our beautiful island
before you sail away with the belle prisoner!'

"'Your island is fine,' I tells them, 'and, no offense meant, but it's
got nothing on Manhattan Island.  And as for the belle prisoner,' I
says, 'ain't you folks forgetting something?  This dame is as nifty a
little murderess as ever I sees.'

"'It was a crime passional,' they says, and they shrugs their shoulders.

"'Tell that to the judge,' I says.  'I 'm only the copper.'

"'Well,' they say, 'unfortunately Monsieur will have to enjoy our
island for three weeks.  The next liner will not be here until then.'

"'Oh, is that so?' I laughs.  'Well, let me tell you something.  While
you guys was examining the papers for your belle prisoner, I was doing
a little scouting around the harbor.  And they's a schooner leaving
to-night for San Francisco.  I guess that 'll do us all right.'

"'Impossible!'  They go wild.  'A lady cannot travel--'

"'Cut the lady stuff,' I says.  'She's my prisoner.'

"She was a trading schooner, dealing in copra, oranges, cotton,
mother-of-pearl, and such like, but once she must have been a fine
yacht.  There were state-rooms still aboard her, though now they were
filled with junk for trading, but I made a deal with the captain and he
cleans one out and fixes it up for Janssen.  And then I takes Janssen
down to the docks.

"Judge, you'd 'a' thought she'd saved the country instead of killing De
Vries, the way they acted about that woman.  They lined up on the docks
of Papeete, all the men and a good many women, too.  And they sang and
they danced and they said good-by.  'When you get off, come back,' they
says to her.  They got on my nerves so much, I had all I could do not
to laugh dirty, when they says that about getting off.

"Janssen looks at the boat, and looks at the people.  And she goes
crazy-mad.  'Damn you, damn you!'  She turns on me.  'Only for you, I
'd not be going back!'

"'Yeh, only for me,' I says, 'you would n't have killed De Vries.  It's
all my fault, hey?  Now, listen to me, Janssen.  You 're my prisoner,
and my prisoner you 'll remain.  You had the game; now pay up, and stop
hollering.  You and I are from the same town, and I know you.  You
ought to know me a little better.  I would n't have been sent for you
if I had n't been able to take care of myself.  All your French friends
won't save you from a New York cop, once he 's out to get you.  You 're
beat, Janssen,' I tells her; 'you might as well give in.'

"She looks at me a long time.

"'I 'm not beat yet,' she says.

"The captain tells us he's going to stop at Nukahivo and a few other
islands to take cargo aboard.  He 's an old guy and sensible, and
Janssen plays up to him to beat the band, so I takes no risks and keeps
close.  Even if he is an old guy and has n't any ambition, still and
all, nobody likes a copper, and every one hates to see a prisoner taken
home, especially if it's a woman.  So I give Janssen and him no chance
for private conversation.  Once clear of the islands, I think, and all
will be well.  Janssen sees my game.

"'You don't give me much chance with the old fellow.'

"'No, ma'am,' I laughs.  'That's your business.  I give you no chance.
You 're beat, Janssen.  What's the use of fooling yourself?'

"'Oh, I 've still got an ace in the hole.  I 'm not beat yet!'

"She turns in early.  'I suppose you 're going to lock the door?' she
asks me.

"'What's the use?  They's other keys.  The islands are near at hand,
and they could put you off in a boat.  I 'm not going to lock the
door,' I tells her, 'but I 'm going to sleep outside it, up against it.
It opens out, and the smallest movement will wake me up.  You 're beat.'

"'All right!  I 'm beat,' she says, and she turns in.

"I puts myself against the door, and falls asleep on the deck.  It
might have been ten minutes after it, but it was really hours, the door
opens.  It's the middle of the night, for the stars are high, and there
's nothing to be seen, and the waves keep lapping the bow of the
schooner and she dips pretty like a cantering horse.  And suddenly I 'm
awake and lonely and wet with dew.  I looks up and there 's Janssen
above me, big and handsome and her eyes like the stars.

"'You 're not comfortable there, McCarthy,' she whispers.

"'I can't say as I 'm on a bed of roses,' I tells her.

"'Why don't you come inside?'

"'I don't know what you mean,' I says.

"'Never mind what I mean,' she laughs.  'Come on in.'

"'I think I 'll stay where I am,' I says kind of short.

"'I 'm not accustomed to having invitations like this refused.'  There
was a kind of jar in her voice.

"'They 's lots of things you 're not accustomed to, you better get
accustomed to right away,' I says.  'You 're accustomed to fine hotels.
Now you got to get used to the Tombs.  You 're accustomed to lying down
on couches.  Now you got to get accustomed to sitting up, very
straight, in a chair at Sing Sing.'  I did n't want to be brutal toward
her, Judge, but I did n't want her to be making passes like that at me.

"What she says to me then I could n't tell, Judge.  But she closes the
door with a slam and leaves me be.

"I notices the wind is getting kind o' high, and that when the schooner
pitches she sort of jars, and that under the green light on the
starboard sight of the boat the water is rushing past very quick.  The
boat is lying over and the sailors pass me quick as lightning and in
the cordage the air is whining like a broken fiddle-string, but over it
all I can hear Janssen cursing in her cabin, cursing just like the
girls cursed in the old days when a pinch was made in the Tenderloin,
cursing me because I would n't fall for her."


II

As Officer McCarthy paused for an instant in his story the eyes of the
court-room seemed by common consent to turn to Anna Janssen in the
dock.  The jury looked at her with knitted brows; the spectators with
puzzled glances.  It seemed impossible that this calm, majestic figure
could once have acted the siren of the streets to the officer bringing
her from her Tahitian sanctuary.  Immobile, somehow immaculate, with
strange superhuman dignity, she did not blush, she did not smile.  Only
a genre shadow of pain was about her eyes, such as creeps about the
eyes of some one who remembers old, all-but-forgotten painful things of
phases of life long by.

Out of those firm lips like a rose in bloom could blasphemy have flowed
in a sluggish lecherous stream?  Out of that glorious bronze throat,
fit for Magnificats?  It seemed impossible, was impossible.

The judge looked at her with moved, understanding eyes.  The district
attorney cast at her puzzled glances.  Donegan looked neither at her,
nor at anything.  He just drowsed like a dog....

"All next day," McCarthy went on, "the blow grew worse.  They reefed
down sail until we were flying along under top and foresails.  The
funny thing was that here and there the sky was blue.  You 'd have
thought all was going to get fair in an hour or two, but it did n't.
And the captain stood by the man at the wheel and looked worried.

"You had to shout to make yourself heard.  'Ain't it going to calm
down, Captain?' I says.

"'I don't know,' he says.  'I wish to God I was out of these islands,'
he says.  'If I was all alone in the middle of the Pacific, I would n't
give a damn, but these here coral insects,' he says, 'they 're always
building, and they sure do bother me.  And these charts of the
Marquesas,' he says, 'they ain't worth a damn.  I wish I was out of
these islands,' he says; 'I sure do.'

"'Oh, you 'll be all right, Cap,' I says.

"'You get for'a'd out o' here,' he barks at me.

"'I 'll talk to you later about that,' I says, but I goes off, because
I see he 's worried.

"All we get to eat that day is a cup of coffee and a sandwich.  And
night comes and we 're still plunging on.

"And then we hear thunder.

"Janssen won't turn in.  She 's scared, she says, and she sticks by me.
And the thunder keeps up, and comes closer, and it gets very dark.

"'What's that?' Janssen says.

"'It strikes me it is n't thunder at all.  It's some boat in distress
firing a gun,' I tells her.  'It's too bad we can't do anything for
them.  But I don't think we can.'

"'I 'm afraid, McCarthy,' Janssen says.  'That's no gun.'

"'Maybe it's a lot of guns,' I says.  'Maybe it's the French navy
practising.  They take a funny night for it,' I says.

"'I 'm scared, McCarthy,' she whimpers, and comes close.

"'We 'll be all right,' I tells her.

"'I 'm scared,' she cries.  'Put your arms around me, McCarthy, please.'

"'Oh, come off!' I tells her.  That game don't go, Janssen.  What's the
use?'

"'I 'm scared, honest.  They's something going to happen.'  The boat
does a little jazz step, and the guns is right in our ears.  And
overhead, Judge, the stars were out.  'Please take me in your arms,
McCarthy--just like I was your sister.'

"'Well, you ain't just like you was my sister.  And they 's been too
many arms around you for me to put mine.  But you can hold on to me,' I
says.

"And then my teeth come together with a jar and my spine is near driven
through my skull, and something hits me on the head.  And all the water
in the world comes over me.  And I know nothing."


The witness, it seemed, here underwent a strange dramatic
transformation.  Until now in his recital, his story had been a story
all could understand, a policeman's story, told in a policeman's voice,
in a policeman's words.  To the court-room he was a figure within their
ken, a person to warm the hearts of burgesses.  Honest, homely,
speaking in dialect, he stood in their eyes for the typical and honored
defender of city families and city homes.  Great figures, those men!
They make heroism casual.  We may call the New York police grafters; we
may call them brutes and tyrants; we may call them the scum of Ireland.
We can never call them cowards.

There is on record the case of--shall I say O'Kelly?  A homicidal
maniac, armed to the teeth, took refuge in a cellar.  "And then what?"
"I goes down into the cellar and I gets him out."  "Good God!  You went
down alone into that dark hole after--"  "Oh, that was not'in'; he was
easy!"

You can have your great regiments--your Old Guard at Waterloo; your
Rough Riders of San Juan Hill, your Black Watch, your Bashi-Bazouks;
your Bersaglieri.  Give me the New York police!

Up to now McCarthy had been only a New York policeman, telling in a dry
way the facts of a case.  But a new dignity arose in him of a sudden.
He was no longer dealing with the processes of his profession but with
big human phenomena.  Until now he had been deferential to court and
officers, a cog in the legal machine.  Suddenly he assumed
individuality, poise, dignity.  He became bigger than the personnel of
the case, as big as the woman in the dock.  And curiously his language
changed to fit the newer individuality, turning from the idioms of the
sidewalks of New York to what we term, in that archaic phrase which has
so much of dignity, the King's English.

"I came to," he resumed.  "At first it was blackness and a terrible
headache, and the thought in my brain: 'Where is Janssen?  I've lost
Janssen.'  And then my head cleared, and my eyes opened.  And I was
lying on the sand in the dawn, and Janssen was bathing my head.

"'So there you are!' I said.

"And then it struck me.  Where 's the ship?

"I got up on my elbow and looked around.  We were on a strand, with
trees behind us and a bay in front and the sun just coming up, bright
as a golden eagle.  In front of us was a sort of bay where the water
was still and sparkling, like wine sparkles.  And then I look out
further.  And there 's a sort of wall of crags between the bay and the
sea, and on the other side of it the sea is pounding, pounding,
pounding, like a man crazy with anger.  _Swish!  Crash!  Boom!_  And
then I notice pieces of timber, a bale, a piece of cloth in the lagoon.

"The schooner 's gone, I understand.  There 's been a wreck.

"'Where are the rest?' I ask Janssen.

"'There are no rest.'  She throws her arms out.  'Just you and I!'

"Then after a while I said: 'We 're in a pretty bad way
here--shipwrecked; without anything to eat; with a very small chance of
rescue.  We 're up against it.  There is n't even water.'

"But she only laughed.

"'We 're not so bad as you 'd think,' she says.  'There 's water.  I
found it when I looked for something to bathe that cut on your head.
And as for food, I 'd been in these islands a while before they put me
in the--place--at Papeete.  There 's bananas, and there 's cocoanuts,
and there 's breadfruit.  And that cove is full of fish.'

"'You can't eat fish raw,' I tell her.

"I 'm turning out my pockets then, leaving things in the sun to dry--my
gun, with the shells out in a row; my watch; my knife; my pocketbook.
She points at the watch.

"'You can make a fire with the crystal of that,' she says.  'Your
bananas 'll do for the present.  I 'll go off and get some.  You need
n't worry,' she says as she notices me looking at her.  'I can't get
off the island.'

"After a while she comes back and sits down.

"'Do you know how you got ashore, McCarthy?'

"'I don't,' I answer.  'I know nothing.'

"'When the boat struck,' she tells me, 'you and I were washed over the
reef.  Something hit you on the head.  But I pulled you in, McCarthy.
You went down.  You were out cold.  I had a job, too,' she laughs
nervously.  'Your hair is awfully short.'

"'Well, I got to thank you,' I said.

"'Don't mind thanking me,' she said.  'Tell me this!'  She 's awfully
serious.  'Don't you think a life is worth a life?'

"I say nothing to that.

"'Don't you, McCarthy?' she pleads.

"'I 'm sorry,' I tell her.  'I 'm awfully, awfully sorry, but I 've got
to bring you in.'

"'You 're a hard man, McCarthy.'

"'I 'm not a hard man.  I 'm just a man sworn in to do my job.  I 'm
just a man a big trust's been put in, and I can't fall down.  Sis, you
missed your chance,' I told her.  'You ought to have let me go down,
when you saw me going.  Then you 'd have been free.  You ought to have
stood clear and let me drown.'

"'Oh, I could n't do that!' she says.

"'Neither could I let you go!'

"In the afternoon I go around the island to see where we are.  But from
no point can I see land or a sail or anything.  We are just on one of
those Pacific atolls, as they call them, away from the line of
everything but sailing-ships trading from isle to isle.  I look
everywhere--north, east, south, and west--and there is nothing but
boiling sea, white, muddy, with birds fluttering, or floating in the
air.

"The island itself is not more than ten miles square and there are
rocks everywhere about it except around the cove where we landed, and
that has a coral breakwater.  The sand is bright and yellow like new
gold, and on the island itself there is greenness that is nearly black.
And you can see cocoanut-trees and banana-trees and oranges.  And while
I 'm standing there a little pig breaks through the underbrush and
looks at me, and then flies off with a squeal.  And for a moment my
heart goes pit-a-pat because I think there are people on this island.
A pig is a human thing.  It's always been so near humans, it's nearly
human itself.  But a moment later something in me tells me there 's no
one here.  It's been put ashore, it and others, by some of the old
whaling-ships that are gone now.

"I look around and I see the island, the sand like gold, the clean
wind, the water in the cove as transparent as water in a glass; the
fish in the water and the animals on the island, and the fruit on the
trees.  And the sun is bright and warm and full of life, and in the
distance I can see Janssen.  She has let her hair down and it covers
her to the knees in a great shining cloak, like some wonderful fur
cloak.

"And I think: There's many 's the old cop in New York--there 's many 's
the millionaire, even--would like to finish his life alone in this
paradise island, away from all trouble and worry and having everything
he needs in sunshine that's more like wine than light, and with Janssen
with him, when she has let down her hair.

"But I says to myself: You needn't think that way.  You 're not old,
nor disappointed.  You 've got no reason to idle your life away.  You
've got a job on hand.  You 're a detective officer, and you 've got a
prisoner, and you 're going to bring her home!

"I return to where Janssen is by the cove and I look for my knife and
watch and gun.  But my gun is n't there.

"'Do you know where my gun is?'

"She wheels around on me suddenly and points it at my head.

"'McCarthy,' she says, 'your word's good with me.  Either tell me now
you 'll let me go when we 're rescued or I 'll kill you.'

"'I can't,' I said.  'I won't.  Now give me my gun and be sensible.'

"'I mean it,' she said.  'Let me off or I 'll kill you.'

"'I would n't be the first.'

"'Will you?'

"'No!' I says.

"I 'm watching the gun, to grab it if I can.  Then I see a spat of fire
like a match lighting.  Then something burns my ear like red-hot iron.
I hear the shot.  I 'm sprung halfway round.

"I face up again.

"'You made a better job with De Vries,' I says, stupid-like.

"I 'm expecting the finisher, but she walks up to me and hands me the
gun.  She just looks at me, and her throat works, and then suddenly
from her eyes run two big tears down to the corners of her mouth and I
turn away.

"'I 'm going to fix you a bed of banana-leaves, and then I 'm going to
light a fire.  Forget your troubles for a while.  Think of this as a
picnic.'

"But the tears still run down her face and she says nothing.  I go off
and get busy because I can't stand the sight of It.  I 'm not feeling
any too like a comedy, myself.

"'We 're sitting that night at a fire on the beach, and the thin new
moon is up.  A light breeze is in shore.  Suddenly she turns to me.

"'You 're religious, McCarthy,' she says to me.

"'I 'm not exactly religious,' I say.  'I 'm like every one, I guess.'

"'You believe in God, McCarthy?'

"Nobody likes to talk much about things of that kind.  You think about
them, but you don't say them.  And particularly you don't talk about
them to a prisoner who 's up for murder, unless you 're one of those
Holy Willie boys.

"'Who does n't?' I spars.

"'You believe--' her voice is serious--'that God takes care of you on
this island?'

"That's what they say.'

"'Do you believe, McCarthy, that He knows me, takes care of me, cares
for me?'

"I say nothing--because I can't see it.  She 's too far out of the
pale.  I 'd like to tell her 'yes.'  But I can't.

"'You don't believe, then, McCarthy--' her voice is just a husky
whisper--'that there is any caring for me, anywhere.'

"'Oh, what's the use of bothering about that?'

"'You don't, then,' she said.  'You think I 'm too bad for--even--that.'

"I get up and shake myself.  'Maybe there's nothing to it, after all,'
I tell her.  But all of a sudden she is crying, her face down to the
sand, as though her heart would break.

"I move away, because I 'm no good to her, and go down the strand a
bit.  The water laps the strand, and whispers in the trees, but I can
hear Janssen crying still.

"I walk on and on.  I hear the sea rumble on the rocks, and the whisper
of the trees is louder.  A turtle pluds into the water, and a cocoanut
falls with a thud, but over it all I still can hear the voice of
Janssen crying, little tearing cries, as though pieces of silk were
being ripped from the main fabric with shrill protesting tragedy.  It
struck me that she herself was flaying her heart with brutal knout-like
strokes, and that every red shred was moaning in protest: 'Don't,
don't, don't!'...


"The new moon became the full moon, and waned and died," McCarthy went
on.  "But no help came.

"There was nothing to do but wait, and a policeman does n't mind
waiting.  All his life is waiting, except for a hint of action now and
then.  But I worried about Janssen.

"Janssen gave me no trouble.  We talked just as friendly strangers
might talk, waiting on a railroad platform.  She got the bananas and
the cocoanuts and the breadfruit, gathering them as they fell.  I
managed to kill a suckling pig now and then, and I rigged up a
fishing-line from a piece of rope I unraveled that had come ashore from
the wreck of the boat, and a pin Janssen gave me.

"There 's nothing I like to do better than fish, and I sit there and
fish and think all the time.  And little things come to me of the life
in New York, and I worry over them.  I never was a grafter.  I never
took a penny from any one when I was on the vice squad, in the way of
protection, but there 's little things that worry me.  As, for
instance, when I go into a saloon for a drink, they never take my
money.  When an arrest is made, sometimes I find a bailsman for the
prisoner, and they give me something as a favor.  Or I sell tickets for
this benefit or another, and nobody wants them, but nobody dares
refuse.  And I sit there in a few acres of coral in the Pacific Ocean
and the sun rises in the east way over New York, and the moon sets in
the west down China way.  And the winds blow south from Japan or north
from the edge of the world.  And I think: It's very small.  It's not
worth a man's while.

"And while I 'm thinking Janssen is thinking, too.  But what she 's
thinking about, I can't figure.  She 's very silent.  And at times her
mouth is n't hard at all, nor her eyes, either.  And when she speaks
her eyes are on the ground and she 's very serious.

"'What are you thinking about, Janssen?' I ask.

"'McCarthy,' she says, 'did you ever, after a hard day's work,
disappointed, clogged with dirt, come in and turn on a cold shower and
suddenly feel better and cleaner--and be happy again?'

"'That's the only thing to do, on a day like that.'

"'Well, I feel,' she said, 'as if this island were that bath after the
awful day of my life,' she said.

"At times I think, myself, that it must be getting on her nerves, this
place.  She 'll want the lights, the gaiety, the people, if only for a
little space, before she faces her trial.  Even the chair must be
better for her than this waiting, I think.

"'Are n't you getting lonely, Janssen?' I ask.  'Does n't this get on
your nerves--having nobody to talk to?'  We never speak any more about
the murder or the trial.

"'Why, no, McCarthy!'

"'I should have thought,' I say, 'that after the gaiety you knew you 'd
find this a terrible trial.'

"'McCarthy,' she said suddenly, 'were you ever at Saranac?'

"'I 've passed through it.'

"'Did you ever see the poor people there, quiet, waiting, glad to be
alive, just being healed?  Well, I 'm like those.'

"I don't notice for a while the change that is coming over Janssen.  I
see things on the outside of people.  I don't see them on the inside.
I 'm a detective.  I just think maybe she 's got the blues, Maybe she's
worried.  But one afternoon she comes to me and springs a new one.

"'McCarthy,' she says, 'would you mind every afternoon keeping away for
an hour or so from the cove?'

"'What's the idea?' I says.

"'Well, I used to be a good swimmer,' she says, 'and I 'm going to
practise, and I have n't got any bathing-suit,' she says, 'not even
tights.  So you 'd better keep away.'

"I think to myself: 'This is a queer thing for any one as tough as they
tell me Janssen is, to come out with.'  And I wonder if she means
exactly the opposite of what she says.  She wants me, I half figure, to
hang around.  And maybe she thinks I 'll fall for her.  And if I do,
she has me, I say to myself.

"And then I look up at her, and I see her eyes, and I never was so
ashamed before or since.

"'All right, Janssen,' I say.

"'Thanks, McCarthy!'

"A week later she borrows my knife.

"'My clothes are in rags, McCarthy,' she says, 'so it's back to the
Garden of Eden for me.  I got to dress up like these wahinies down
here.  Don't laugh at me, McCarthy; promise me you won't.'

"'Not too much Garden of Eden, now,' I warn her.

"'Don't worry!' she laughs.  And next morning you could have knocked me
down with a straw, as they say.  She has strung together big green
banana-leaves with fiber, and made a knee-length skirt of them.  And
under her arms and about her is a little closed jacket of leaves, and
that great golden cloak of her hair falls around, rippling and
shimmering.

"'How do I look, McCarthy?'

"'You look fine,' I tell her.  'You look like a picture, you sure do.
You might be in a stage play,' I tell her, 'only you 're so fine and
modest.'  She blushes pretty as a girl of sixteen, until it was a shock
to me to remember that she was my prisoner for the crime of murder.
And I look at myself, feel my chin, see how my suit is going.  'You
make me feel like a bum.'

"The months pass and two sails go by.

"One I see in the early evening.  A few very fleecy clouds shuttle in
and out before the sun, and the great sea is purple, and the sand takes
on a deep hue like the color of a gold coin that's been in circulation
for years, mellow and reddish-like.  And the green of the trees is so
green you can feel it.  And on the horizon is a native boat with a
lateen sail that is orange-colored.

"I see it.  I make no effort.  I can do nothing.  But it seems to me
that it is unreal.  It is not there.  It is just a dream.  It is unreal
as the island is to me, unreal as my old life is to me, unreal as
everything is--except Janssen.

"But a week later another boat comes, and this time it is n't unreal.
Squat and bulky, it is a tramp steamer headed down New Zealand way.  It
passes not more than three miles off, and very ugly it is upon the sea,
its funnel belching out black smoke that is like an insult to the
shining seas.  I have a bonfire ready-made and go to it with my
burning-glass.  And Janssen stands by and looks at me.

"'Do I have to go back, McCarthy?' she asks.

"'You got to go back and face the music, Janssen.'  And I lights the
fire.

"I get everything ready to board, but the steamer pays no attention.
They go straight ahead.  Maybe they think it's just natives, but at any
rate they don't put about or anything.  I go to the edge of the water
and shout to them.  I go into it up to my waist and whistle and snap my
fingers and call to it, as I would to a dog, but they pay no attention.
And then I give up.

"'I 'm sorry, McCarthy,' Janssen says.

"'What are you sorry for?' I asks her.  'You ought to be glad.'

"'I am glad,' she says.  'I 'm glad for myself, but I 'm sorry for your
sake, McCarthy.  I 'm really sorry.'

"One night we 're setting by the fire in the moonlight, and I 'm trying
to figure out how the natives build their huts, because I want to build
one for Janssen.  There 's a queer sort of rain in these islands.
Sometimes in a bright sky a cloud will pass, very high, very quick, and
the rain comes down like bullets.  You can hear it thunder in the
leaves, and rattle over the sea like pistol shots.  And it's not so
pleasant after a while.  It's over in a minute or so, but Janssen ought
to have some place when it comes.

"And Janssen is sitting there as quiet as anything, making figures in
the sand and saying nothing.  She turns to me.

"'McCarthy,' she says, 'did I really kill Alec de Vries?'

"'You killed him dead.'

"'It seems like a dream to me, a bad dream in the night.'

"'If you had waited and looked at that corpse, you 'd have known it was
no dream.'

"'And because I killed a man that was no use to any one I 've got to go
back.'

"'You 've got to go back, all right,' I tell her.

"'Well, do you know, it's only fair,' she says.  'You 've called the
tune, and danced it, and you 've got to pay the fiddler.  But I 'm
scared, McCarthy.  I 'm terribly scared.  It would be very easy for me
to jump in the water or borrow your gun some night.  Think of it.  They
put metal on your legs and strap you into a chair, and they put a cap
over your head.  And, then a man, as human as yourself, pushes a
switch, and just as if he were putting out a light, he puts out the
light of your life, the same light that's in himself....  And all in
the cold gray morning....'

"'Tell you something, kid--'  I had this on my mind for a while.  'I
don't think they 'll burn you.  We 'll get you a good lawyer when we go
back and you 'll get off with a long stretch up the river.'

"'But don't you see, McCarthy,' she laughs nervously, 'that that's
worse still?  A person does something, as I 've done, because his mind
and his--his self--are full of nooks and crannies, dust and cobwebs,
bad feelings, passions.  And he flies away.  And maybe in the desert or
the mountains a great wind comes and cleanses him.  And he mends the
shattered self together.

"'But the silly judge and the silly police go after him, and they send
him to prison, and he sits there in the darkness and the wheels of his
head go around.  And the cobwebs collect again, and the grime from the
other people comes off on him.  And in the end he is worse than he was
in the beginning.

"'I 'd rather die, McCarthy--die, all in the cold gray morning.'

"A month after this Janssen falls ill.  Perhaps it's a gust of rain
that's made her ill.  Perhaps it's some of the berries or the fish or
something.  But at any rate, there she lies, white and near dead, all
the life gone from her.  There 's nothing I can do for her much but try
to cheer her up and move her when she 's tired of lying in one position.

"'You 've got to get well, Janssen,' I say to her.  'You 've got to
make an effort.'

"'But why?' she asks.  'Why shouldn't I die?'

"'That's no way to talk.'

"'What has life got for me?' she asks bitterly.  'The electric chair?'

"'You 've got nothing to worry about,' I say.  'It 'll be only a few
years up the river and then out again, and the good old days.'

"'I won't live for that,' she says.

"'Well, listen,' I joke with her.  'You 're not going to make me come
all the way across the world for you, and then not bring you home.  You
're not going to throw me down, kid; be game.'

"'I 'd like to oblige you, McCarthy,' she smiles; 'but even for that I
won't stay alive.  Can't you think of any other reason?'

"'It would be awful lonely, if you were to go,' I say; and I mean it.
'Awful, awful lonely.  I 'm getting very fond of you, Janssen.'

"'That's better,' she says, and pats my hand.  And she turns her head.
'Don't worry, McCarthy.  I 'll--I 'll live.'"


III

Without, the gray January dusk had crept into the cañons of New York
and given the narrow streets, the crenelated buildings, the moving
trucks, the pedestrians a semblance of unreality, as though they were
being seen through a mist raised by some necromancer at the call of a
wretched man.  Through the windows of the court-room the Tombs were
still evident, but the building had become unreal.  It was like some
ogre's castle in a fairy-tale for children, very terrible, but not
really there.

The judge, the jury, the attendants, all the court had somehow lost
entity as a court.  It was no more a court than a house in a play is a
house.  It was just a formula embracing a hundred or so human beings.
And one felt also that this was not in New York.  There was no
atmosphere of New York.  New York might be a cloak and a disguise, but
the minds and personalities of all were on a golden island on shining
seas.

And they didn't see McCarthy in the witness-box, nor Janssen in the
dock, but by the cove where the water was so translucent that one could
see, fathom on fathom deep, the rainbow fish below....

"She gets better day by day, and I 'm so glad I could sing," continued
the officer, speaking more easily as practice came after his seven
years of silence.  "She sits on the beach and health comes to her with
the wind, and little by little the flush comes in her cheek, and life
ferments, and her hair that has become dank ripples and flows, as a
still sea stirs up with a breeze.  And soon she 's swimming again.  But
there 's little of the old Janssen left.  All her movements are grave.
At times she sits thinking, and her brow is working with thought.  At
other times she smiles.  Just a dignified little smile.

"And soon after she gets well, she saves my life a second time.

"This is how it happens.  I 'm fishing one day and my line and hook get
caught down in the coral.  And I don't want to lose that hook.  Hooks
are n't easy to make.  So I says: 'I 'll go down after that hook.'

"I shoot in and go swimming down through the water, and I hang on to
the coral with one hand, and unloose the hook with the other.  I 'm
about ready to come up when in the water between me and the sun I can
see a shadow like a boat.  For a moment I think it's a boat, and come
up with a rush.  But half-way up I know it's no boat.  And in the warm
water I go cold as ice.

"I 'm more than half-way up, and I have no chance of shouting,
splashing, making a noise, the way you frighten them off.  And suddenly
I know the big fellow sees me.  I can feel the vibration of his swirl
in the water as he turns off to a point where he can come rushing at me.

"'It's good-by, McCarthy!' I say to myself, and turn to face him.  And
then I hear a _plung-h_ into the water the moment he's ready to turn
over and come at me.  And Janssen comes shooting down.

"She has a stone or something in her hand drawn back and lets him have
it just on the soft point of the nose, the only place you can hurt
those fellows.  One crack!  And the big coward turns and slinks off
just like a dog that's been kicked.

"When we get ashore I 'm just as mad as I can be.  The idea of her
taking a chance like that!

"'Haven't you got any sense at all?' I bawl her out.  'What do you
mean, taking a chance like that?  What do you think a shark is?  A
mackerel?  Maybe you think he wouldn't touch you?  Maybe you think he's
a gentleman?  He's not.  If brains were money,' I say, 'I don't think
you could buy a subway ticket.  Never do that, or anything like that
again.  Mind your own business!'

"But she 's crying and laughing together.  She walks off, now sobbing,
now laughing.  I run after her.

"'Not that from the bottom of my heart I 'm not grateful to you, but
you must never again--'

"But she laughs and she sobs:

"'Go away, McCarthy.  Go away.  Please go away!'


"All this time I know I 'm very fond of Janssen, and something tells me
Janssen is of me, though God knows why.  But we say nothing.  At times
it's hard to talk.  And I look at her and think.  If things were only
different, how I could love that girl!  But here she is, a prisoner,
and I 'm her keeper.  It's a pity.  It's a pity, even, she's changed.
It makes it awful hard for me.

"But I can't keep my eyes off her.  She stands on the beach, the wind
rustling her green garment, and rippling her hair.  Very beautiful.
And a little butterfly, from God knows where, is fluttering about her.
Now it's in her hair, now about her throat.  And curiously it comes to
light on her lips.

"'You look awfully pretty, Janssen,' I say, 'with that butterfly.'

"She smiles at me, kind of queerly.

"'You 're a brave man, McCarthy,' she says, 'the bravest man I ever
knew.  You 're strong.  You 're tremendous.  Yes, you 're brave.  But
this little butterfly, that in all its body has n't the strength of one
single hair of your head, whose brief life is but a single day, is
braver than you, McCarthy, braver far than you.'

"'I don't understand you, Janssen.'

"But I understand her all right.


"And the days roll by, roll by, and nothing changes, nothing comes to
us.  Once or twice we see sails.  Once a full-rigged ship under bare
poles runs before a gale.  And once in the distance we see a schooner
heeling to the breeze.

"We are not speaking much to each other.  There is a feeling of
strangeness in the air.  And at night I 'm worried-like.  The trees
rustle.  The waves lap.  There is great darkness.  And for all we are
the only two people in that island, yet I feel at night somehow we are
not alone.  Unseen, shadowy people are about us, in the sea, in the
air.  Once there were millions on these islands and now there are few.
Once they were a great strong race, and now they are a timid handful.
And I imagine that in the dark of the moon the brown tribes reassemble
and put to sea in their war-canoes, and walk on the beaches that are so
like Paradise.

"And there are great temples on these islands, but their gods are no
more.  And may they not too walk in the night-time with terrible,
silent stride?

"The Cross of Christ is between me and all harm.  I believe that, and I
know it, and I am not afraid.  But I am unquiet, nevertheless.

"And if I am unquiet, what of Janssen, wide-eyed through the night?

"At last one night I take my courage in both hands.  Janssen is sitting
in the moonlight by the cove, and for the first time I ever heard her
she is singing a little something.  Her voice is somehow like a boy's.

"'Janssen!'  I stand and look at her.

"'Yes, McCarthy.'  She turns and looks at me.

"'Janssen, when we go back,' I say, 'and when what has to be will be
done, and when all is over, the morning you are free, I 'll be waiting
at the gate for you.  I 'll want you to marry me and come to me.'

"'You love me, McCarthy?'

"'Yes,' I said, 'I love you, Janssen.'

"'I love you, too, McCarthy.  I suppose you know.'

"All this time she never looks at me, but out on the moonlit cove.

"'But if we never get off this island,' she says after a little while,
'we never get married.'

"'How can we?' I say.  'There is none to marry us.'

"She is speaking slowly, seriously, in the moonlight, and every word
she says has the weight of sincerity.

"'Do you believe, McCarthy, that the church and all the people there
and the organ and the rice make a marriage?  Are all these necessary,
McCarthy?  Tell me, please.'

"'No.'  I think it out.  'The only one necessary is the clergyman.'

"'Because he is the representative of--God?'

"'Yes,' I say in a minute or so, 'because he is there for--God.'

"'And yet God is everywhere?  Knows all?  Sees everything?  Reads the
inside of our hearts as easily as the clergyman reads our faces?'

"'That is what they say, Janssen.  That is--what--we believe--'

"There is silence.  Then she sinks to her knees in the sand in the
moonlight.

"'Kneel down, McCarthy, and give me your hands.'  I kneel and give her
my hands without protest--her voice is so commanding, so sincere.  And
there is a strange thing between us now.  All the time before if I
touch her I feel strength flowing from me to her, but to-night when I
hold her hands there is an even level.

"'If God wishes to hear us to-night, then we are married.'

"'But,' I say, 'Janssen, how do we know if He hears us, gives His
consent?'

"Her eyes wander over the island, over the sea.  She points suddenly to
the lagoon.

"'See, McCarthy.  See, under the moon there, that big turtle.  He is
uncertain where to go.'  I look and I see the little black head like a
dot on the water and the widening ripple as he swims around.  'See the
boatswain bird's rock.'  I saw the flat square surface in the cove.
'If he swims to and mounts that rock, then it will be a sign we have
been heard and--He has given His consent.'

"'But he will never come to the rock, dear Janssen,' I say.  'He is
going out with the tide.'

"'McCarthy,' she says a little scornfully, 'you are the good man, the
untarnished one, the one who was brought up to believe, and you do not.
And I, the bad woman, the murderess, the worse than Magdalen because I
never loved until now, I believe.  I believe and know.'

"And then her belief came to me and I turned to see the great turtle.
He swam around and around and the moon shot the little ripples in
gleaming silk.  And at last I could bear it no longer, and I lowered my
head; but Janssen still watched with her head high.  And I could feel
her hands tremble, and then crisp, and then tremble, and suddenly grow
firm and fine and powerful.

"'Look, McCarthy, look!'  Her voice rang like a bell.  'He is come
to--he is on the rock.'"

"And I raised my head, too, and I saw the Miracle of the Turtle....

"And so we were married, and dwelt as happy as we could be, until the
brig _Angela Scofield_ put in for water and rescued us, and I brought
Janssen back to the bar of justice, as I was bound under oath to do."

Here McCarthy stopped, and all knew he would say no more.  Indeed, it
seemed as if he could physically say no more, for the man seemed
overcome.  All the tenseness of him was gone and the prisoner and he
looked at each other in a strange, pathetic, and trusting way, smiling
with dry mouths and wet eyes.  All in the court-room felt suddenly
abashed, as a cynic might feel before the eyes of a child.

And suddenly in every one's mind there were translated his simple
words, "And so we were married, and dwelt as happy as we could be,"
into pictures that were not pictures but chords, harmony and
counterpoint, not for the mind's eye but for the heart's feeling.
There they had been by a cove on Paradise Island, loving each other not
joyously but simply and sincerely and with great strength.

They could see them, strong and fine, by the translucent water of the
cove, under the golden sun on the golden sands, in a place as beautiful
as the garden the Lord God planted in Eden.  And as over that first
garden, so over this one did a storm brood like an owl.

What terror she must have gone through, with the prison gate
continually before her!  What temptations must he have undergone with
his wife by him, and the thought in his head that one day he must bring
her back to stand trial for the killing of a man!

In God's name, what was the use to them of shining seas and golden
sands, trees green as green banners, moons of Paradise and scented
tropic winds, while tragedy was in the air, electric as a storm?

"You can step down, McCarthy," the district attorney said.  And turning
to the court he spread out his hands.

"The case of the people rests."

"The case for Anna Janssen rests," countered Howard Donegan.

For a long time there was a pause, that was accentuated into
uncomfortable drama by the ticking of the court clock.  It was as
though an angel of silence were passing.  The jury looked
uncomfortable.  The district attorney bit his nails.  The spectators
looked at one another in mental disorientation.  It might have been the
first bar of justice with no precedent to follow, no set of rules, so
suddenly had all the machinery stalled.  Only Howard Donegan drowsed
an....

The judge was the first to come to himself.  He rustled papers.  He
rapped for order.  He turned to the jury.

"Gentlemen," he began, "the case for the people rests and the counsel
for the prisoner rests his case also.  It has now arrived to make a
decision.

"You jurymen have only one duty to perform, and a bounden duty it is.
You have got to decide one fact.  Did Anna Janssen kill Alastair de
Vries?

"Were Anna Janssen before you, the lowest of the low, gutter-soiled,
evil, a menace to the community, and did not kill De Vries, then you
would have to bring in a verdict of 'not guilty,' no matter how much
enmity you felt to her.  No matter what she is before you now, no
matter what sympathy you feel for her, you must bring in a verdict of
'guilty' if you are certain she killed De Vries.

"Now, gentlemen, there can be no reasonable doubt of this.  Even the
prisoner herself admits it.  So I must instruct you to bring in a
verdict of guilty."

The jury looked at one another, amazed, a little scared.  They turned
to the foreman, a fine, florid personage, with a fan-shaped red beard,
a man who ought to be equal to every occasion, so it seemed.  They
turned to him as a sheep turns to a bellwether.  He rose to his feet.

"But this woman is changed," he objected.  "She is not the same--"

"That is not germane to your offices," the judge answered severely.
"You weigh facts.  I weigh justice, Your affair is between Alastair de
Vries and Anna Janssen.  De Vries is now in the hands of his God.
Janssen is in mine.  Though I am the arbiter of legal form, yet also I
am the personation of Equity.  God has judged De Vries; I, with the
voice of God, shall judge Anna Janssen.  Consider your verdict."

"If we bring in a verdict of 'not guilty--'" the foreman suggested.

"If you do--" the judge was cold as steel--"you have done an
unpardonable thing.  You have betrayed the people of New York, whose
representatives you are.  You have brought into disrepute the law of
your city.  And women will kill men with the hope of obtaining lax
verdicts.  Moreover, on legal grounds, I shall declare this no trial.
And the prisoner will go through the ordeal again."

"Well, if that's the way--"  The foreman looked around embarrassedly at
the jury.  The jury seemed to put implicit faith in him.  "We will not
have to leave the box!"

"Clerk of the Court," called the judge....

"Prisoner, look on the jury.  Jury, look on the prisoner.  What say ye,
have ye arrived at a verdict?"

"We have."

"What say ye: is the prisoner guilty or not guilty?"

"Well, this woman killed De Vries, but--"

"Guilty or not guilty?" judge demanded.

"Guilty!"

"Prisoner--" the judge turned to Janssen--"you have committed a murder.
You have been adjudged guilty of it by a jury of your peers.

"It is now my duty to sentence you to a punishment not fitting the
crime of murder but fitting such circumstances before and after as come
within the scope of the foresight of Equity.  You have taken a life and
your life is hostage to the law.

"It now rests with me to decide what I shall do with this life that is
in my hands and forfeit to the justice of the community; not only what
is the best thing for the community, but what is the best thing for
you.  Shall I extinguish it, that it shall be no longer a danger to
living men, a danger to your own immortal soul?  Or shall I dispose of
it otherwise, as my inspiration directs?

"Prisoner, I give you back that life, but I sentence you to
imprisonment for its natural term."

There was a moment's pregnant silence in the court.  Then a quick
bourdon hum of anger.  Suddenly came riot.  The prisoner wilted.  The
jury stood up in protest.  The spectators rose on threatening feet.

The judge raised his hand.  He was suddenly clothed in the majesty of
Solomon.

"Prisoner, I have made inquiries and there is owing to your husband his
salary for ten years, which he will collect.  He will then take you and
have this marriage made legal.  He will then take you from the place
where you now are to the place whence you came, to your island down the
Pacific, and you will live there, happy ever after, is the wish of this
court of justice."

There came suddenly from the throats of all a mighty cheering.  For an
instant the attendants sought to keep order, but they soon desisted,
themselves to join the joyous clamor.  The sound bellied from the
court-room and into the street.  Pedestrians stopped and horses
started.  All looked at one another in amazement.  Out of the
court-room of tragedy had issued springtime carnival.  One expected at
any moment to hear chiming bells.



THE BARNACLE GOOSE

I

He might have been a hundred years away, he thought, as he sped along
the road on the jaunting-car; he might have been a hundred years away
instead of a meager dozen, so strange did everything appear to him.
Every turn of the way, every stone, every smoking farm-house, every
green field, was new.  Even the sea to the right of him, beside which
he had played for nineteen years, was dramatically unexpected.  Faintly
the whole landscape came back to him; hazily, as though he were seeing
for the first time a scene that had been inadequately described in a
book.

First, there was the road itself, broad, undulating, rising and
falling, like an artist's fancy.  Then, right and left, fields of
delicate blue-green corn, soft as no carpet could be; and great meadows
of hay, sprinkled with white and red clover; long stretches of potatoes
with delicate pink and mauve flowers; and here and there a gnarled
apple orchard.  Huge chestnut trees lined the way, and mellow
farm-houses showed cozily, with their dun thatched roofs.  Cows grazed
in the distance--shining, mottled Jerseys and stocky Kerrys, black as
ink.

In the background the purple Mourne Mountains loomed like strange
giants; and beside him the sea plashed musically, with a sound
reminiscent of the chiming of bells.  It was all surprisingly mellow,
surprisingly rich, like the land which the spies of Joshua reported to
lie past the Jordan's banks.  Grant's eyebrows raised in puzzlement.

The brick-faced driver looked at him with a horseman's shrewd eyes.

"I knew you the first time I put eyes on you," he said in his clipped
Ulster accent.  "You 're Thomas Grant's son--Willie John--that went
away to America twelve years ago last March.  And why should n't I know
you?  Many 's the time I drove you when you were that high."  He gave
the dapper little mare a flick of the whip.  "I suppose you 'll be
settling down and staying at home now?" he asked.

"No; I don't think I will," Grant answered; and he smiled as he heard
his voice slip into the musical singsong it had n't known for many
years.  "I 'll be going back in a month or so."

They whipped along past the sea for another mile, the little mare's
hoofs striking the white road as true and as staccato as drumsticks.  A
strip of salt-marsh spun toward them.  Eastward, over the sea, a flock
of birds hove.  Their wings flapped wearily, and as they flew landward
they uttered faint whimpering cries.

"The wild geese."  The driver pointed them out with his whip.  "They're
coming back to the marsh.  They 're queer birds."

Grant watched them as they came.  Their cries came sharp and
complaining through the air, high-pitched, querulous, turbulent.  And
still there seemed to be something satisfied in them, like the sobbing
of a child who has received what he wants but cannot stop for a moment.

"I often heard my grandfather say--and it's little he did n't know
about birds," the driver went on "that there is n't a queerer bird in
the world than the barnacle goose.  The moment they can fly they 'll
leave the country.  My grandfather saw them in Egypt, and he saw them
in France, traveling all the time; but they can never get the taste of
the Irish marshes out of their mouths, and they come back.  The young
ones go and the old ones stay.  Even a bird does n't get sense until
it's taught."

They swept from the highway into a narrower road, and Grant's heart
jumped a little, for he recognized it, broader though it was, and
greener its hedges and smoother its surface than he had thought it.
The sun was going down and a soft bronze twilight was beginning to
settle.  A little river ran past to the sea through the lush
meadowland, and for an instant he saw the shimmer of a trout as it
leaped for a fly.  And from everywhere came the scent of clover.

They had turned, almost before he noticed it, into the yard of the
farm-house, and again the sense of surprise struck Grant like a blow.
Of course he remembered everything now--the long white-washed
farm-house, thatched with golden straw, with the sweet-pea and ivy
clustering about its walls; the massive slated stable and byre; the
barn to the rear of that, in the orchard; the white dairy near the big
iron gates with its cinder churning table; the giant ricks of hay back
of it all; the dogs running in the yard--sheep-dog and setter and
greyhound--the two farm-hands stopping to look at him solemnly as he
came through the gates; the thick servant-girl hurrying out of the
front door as she heard the grinding of wheels.  It was so different
from what he had thought it was that he caught his breath in shamed
embarrassment.

A tall young fellow with red hair and a humorous twist to his mouth
came strolling from the stables.  He wore a tweed coat and
riding-breeches and boots.  He stopped short and looked at the car.

"It's Willie John!" he shouted.

He swung across the yard like a flash and grasped Grant's hand in
something that felt like a vise.  He slammed his returned brother a
terrific blow on the shoulder.

"Willie John!  I 'm glad to see you!"

Grant's father came out of the house, a spare Titan of a man, hair shot
through with gray and a great bronzed hawk's face.  He pushed Joe aside
and caught Grant by the shoulders.  He was inarticulate for a moment.

"You 're back again, Willie John," he said simply and quietly; but
behind the simple words Grant felt there was a wealth of welcome and of
pleasure that David could not psalm.  The elder Grant looked round
toward the house.  "Sarah Ann," he called, "here 's Willie John!"

She came out through the door with a quick, trembling step, a very
little woman to be the mother of two such powerful men and the wife of
a giant--a little woman of fifty, with the face of a russet apple, with
fine lacework about the corners of her eyes, hair a delicate gray, like
rich silk, and a girl's mouth and eyes.  She had Grant in her arms in
an instant, as though he were no more than a boy.  Slowly she looked at
him.  "My son!  Willie John!" she murmured.

They took him into the house, and they looked at him again; and they
talked to him for hours, the mother with her eyes shining like stars,
the father with that steadfast, proud expression on his face, the
brother Joe in his riotous, loud-voiced way.

It was a welcome that overwhelmed Grant; that took him off his feet,
like a great wave, and sent him spinning; that warmed him with a flame,
setting his heart alight.

But there was something disappointing and strange about it all.  They
were just content and happy to have him.  He had come back to their
hearts after twelve years.  They did n't care where he had been or how
he had prospered.  He might have just come from the next townland.  He
might have come back a pauper.  Their welcome would have been the same
warm, hearty thing.

And he had imagined something so very different!  He had pictured the
land he was returning to as a thriftless waste.  His own home he had
never thought of as the richly comfortable place it was.  He had seen
himself returning in triumph from beyond the seas, laden with treasure,
like Columbus returning with the wealth of Borinquen, or like the
legendary Irish lad who married the Spanish king's daughter and
returned to his impoverished people in a coach-and-four.

He had imagined himself telling them of the wonders of New York,--tales
as marvelous as any of the thousand and one told in Oriental
bazaars,--of the buildings that tower as high as the Irish mountains;
of the river of light that is Broadway; of the shop windows on Fifth
Avenue, each of which holds a king's ransom; of the motley throngs in
New York, greater in number than all Ireland holds; of the struggle and
competition in which he, their son and brother, had won a sound
business worth ten thousand dollars.

He wanted to tell them of his own epic.  He wanted to be questioned; to
be admired.  And they did none of that.  They were only glad to have
him back.  And he was disappointed!


II

It was after the March fairs, twelve years ago, that he had gone to
America.  He had taken over a drove of cattle to Liverpool for his
father and uncles, had delivered them and received the purchase money.
There was one small venture of his own among the lot--a calf that he
had raised to be a personable heifer, and that brought him in nine
pounds.  Along the docks he saw a liner bound for New York, a great
leviathan, like a city.  The thing hypnotized him by its vastness.

"I 'm going to America," he said out loud on the pier; and in a great
glow he took his passage and sent home the purchase money for the
cattle.

He did not know at the time what the impulse was that sent him abroad,
and he did not trouble to analyze it.  Later he found a motive, and it
was a false one.  He might have asked his father, who had gone in an
ancient high moment to fight as a Papal Zouave against the onrush of
the Neapolitan cohorts on Rome.  He might have asked his red- and
curly-headed brother Joe, who had once shipped from Newry to Iceland,
and to Archangel, in Russia, and to Vladivostok, coming home by way of
the China Seas.  And, again, he might have asked the downy young of the
barnacle goose, who wing their way down southward when the first black
frost comes.  All these could have told him.

He had very little difficulty in finding something to do in New York,
for a stocky, healthy man, with honesty written all over a clean-cut
face and looking unabashed from clear gray eyes, is an acquisition to
any employer.  They put him to work on a street-car, conducting and
taking in the fares with assiduous honesty.  The ten or twelve dollars
a week he made, and what he got for them, compared very unfavorably
with the healthful comfort and clean sea air of home.  But the
adventure of the New World held his attention until home became an
affectionate and dull memory.  And letters to and from Ireland were
rare.

He stood, in his stocking feet, as fine a specimen of strength and
health as there is outside the ranks of professional athletes; he was
good-looking in an impersonal way; to doubt his honesty was impossible
against the evidence of those gray eyes; but he had been allotted no
more than the usual share of brains.  Wherefore, it took three years
for the New York idea to get home, which was to put money in his purse.
He went about it in the way one should expect of him.  He sought a
position that gave reasonable promise of advancement.  A great chain of
grocery stores gave him an assistantship in one of its shops.

"Hard work, and saving your money," he said to himself, "that's the way
you get on in the world."

And he got on, with his dogged persistence.  Six years of that, with
the money he had saved, and he had set himself up in business on his
own account, in an out-of-the-way avenue, on the road to Coney
Island--a squat two-story building with an apartment upstairs and his
shop below.  A long, bare street, newly bedded, with grayish-white
apartment-houses on each hand, so new that the mortar still lay in ugly
flecks about the sidewalk.

Opposite him a newly fitted chemist's shop showed garishly with its
green and red lights.  A valet's store was beside him, and here and
there in the avenue gaps showed where the real-estate men had not yet
found capitalists to erect stores or flats.  It was very bleak and new,
and somehow lonely; but in his own store he was happy and busy all day
long.  He had had his name put on the glass window--William J.
Grant--in angular gold letters; and inside he and his assistant, a
sallow Scotch boy, attended customers, a lean but constant string.
They took loaves from the glass case on the counter, or dug butter from
the cool, moist vat, or ground coffee in the red mill that suggested a
ceremonial vessel in a Hindu temple.  He wished the people in Ireland
could see him now.

"Ay!" he would say.  "I think this would open their eyes."

He had heard much about Ireland and talked much about it since he came
to America--a great deal more than he had ever heard or talked about it
at home.  And in his eyes now it had taken on a dim, distorted shape
and spirit.  The physical contours of it he had forgotten--the lush
green hillsides, the fruitful orchards, the kine heavy with fat, the
dim, warm houses--all these were to him as though they had never been.
Instead of them, he saw a frail, worn country, with a vague spiritual
light emanating from it, like the light from the face of a man who
knows that death is near him and is resigned to it.  The people about
him mentioned it with sympathetic voices.  They spoke of the poverty of
it, with a sort of contemptuous affection.  And little by little Grant
came to think of it in that way, too, as one thinks of a poor but
worthy relative.

"There 's no doubt to it," he would say to himself; "a man doesn't get
a chance there.  He has to come over here."  And he would look about
his store with proud satisfaction.

He began to think even of his own home as a place that the poisonous
finger of poverty had touched; and for a year now, and more, he had
thought of returning to see it.  Maybe he could do something for the
people at home.  A few pounds would come in useful.  And, apart from
that, he could tell them some things that would help them along.  He
would make them "get a move on," as the New York phrase went.  Perhaps
he would take Joe, his brother, out and give him a chance to show what
he had in him.  Perhaps they might all come out with him--the father
and mother too.

"Ay!  Why not!" he would argue.  "Why shouldn't they?  What's there for
them in Ireland?"

He ruminated over the idea every day as he came from work to the brown
stone boarding-house where he lived, in Schermerhorn Street, a dingy,
unpalatable sort of place that had become a home to him.  There were
employees of department-stores there; and an occasional theatrical
couple stayed a week in it, a week electric with criticism.  In the
summer evenings the boarders sat on the stoop, and in the winter they
congregated inside to be played to in insufficient light on a tinkling
piano.  For Grant the place had a metropolitan quality that others
sought in the great hotels.

And, with the same care he had used in mapping out his business career,
he watched for somebody to marry.

He found her in the boarding-house--a trim and rather pale girl, who
acted as though she were twenty and looked twenty-eight, but whom the
Vital Statistics Bureau had registered as having been born thirty years
before.  Her hair was black and glossy, and her eyes were big and black
and lustrous; her face, outside those features, was the face of a
hundred others.  But what captivated Grant about her was her chicness,
her quality of being up-to-the-minute in dress and deed and word.
Grant liked the flare of her wide skirts and the gray suede shoes
lacing up the sides.  He liked the faint powder on her face, and her
carefully cultured eyebrows.  He liked her talk of skating and of the
new theatrical pieces, and her ability to do the latest twirls in the
one-step.  Her name was Miss Levine--Ada Levine.

"It's not every man could have a wife like that!" he told himself; and
he thought of the awe in which his people in Ireland would behold her.

She talked to him interestedly of his prospects and the trend of
business in his direction; and that pleased him, for, what with that
interest and with the training she received in the department-store
where she worked, she would be exactly what he needed to get on in the
world.  He told her of his intention of going back home for a month, of
putting the store in the care of a friend of his from the old business
where he had worked.

"And when I come back," he said, "I 'd like to say something to you."
She sat on the steps quietly and lowered her eyes demurely.  "That is,"
he continued, "if nobody gets there before me."

She looked up at him and smiled.

"That's a date," she agreed.

His heart expanded blithely.  Everything was settled now.  Life showed
in front of him like a straight line.  A wife like that!  And his
thriving business!  Now he would go back to Ireland and show them
something!


III

He had been home for a month and he had made no move toward
returning--not that it was ever out of his mind for an instant, but it
pleased him to stay there and savor the ripe mellow ness of everything
as he might savor a fruit.  Summer was fairly in and the yellow
blossoms had fallen from the gorse, but roses were blooming in every
garden, great creamy ones and others with the vivid red of an autumn
sunset.

The horse-chestnuts were heavy with balloons of white flowers, and
every evening the bees returned drowsy from the heather of the purple
mountains.  There was something in it all that he had missed for years
and that he was greedy for.

At first he had gone about, a splendid figure, in the clothes he had
brought with him from America: suits of fine broadcloth, and buttoned
shoes, and a watch that was held in place by a fob.  But nobody seemed
impressed by this splendor and a few were covertly amused; and suddenly
he had discarded it in a sort of shame, returning to the rich tweeds of
his own people.  He had helped a little about the farm, finding again a
lost aptitude in milking a cow and in handling a horse in a dog-cart.
He had gone to the fairs and put in a shrewd word here and there on the
price of a colt.  He had gaped in wonder at the antics of the
Punch-and-Judy show and had listened to the croon of the ballad-singer.
He lost sixpences with the trick-of-the-loop man and with the artist of
the three cards.  All through it he tried to keep in his mind and on
his face the attitude of a grown-up who is playing a child's game, a
patronizing superiority.

"If they could only see this at Coney Island," he thought, "they would
laugh their heads off."

And he tried to remember as enjoyable the days he had spent there in
search of amusement, returning in the evening a battered and limp and
irritated rag.

It was the evening of the Newry Fair when he began to think seriously
of returning.  They were all sitting in the great stone-flagged kitchen
of the farm-house.  From the long deal table in the middle of the room
a huge lamp filled the space with creamy light, and in the lighted
fireplace a kettle purred, hanging from its crane.  The kitchen rafters
were black and amber from the smoke of four generations, and below them
hung at intervals long flitches of bacon.  Over the mantel were the
guns he remembered from his boyhood--his father's double-barreled
fowling-piece with the long, true barrels; his grandfather's old
musket; and the flintlock his great-grandfather had borne when he went
out with Lord Edward in '98.

His father sat by the table, reading a paper diligently, and he was
surprised to see how hale the old man looked; he was sixty now and
looked fifteen years younger.  His mother fussed about with a pannikin
of milk, followed by three mewing kittens, while in a corner of the
room Joe was binding whipcord about the handle of a fishing-rod,
occasionally making it swish through the air with a keen sibilant sound
like the hiss of a snake.

"I think I 'll be going back soon," Grant said suddenly.  "I think I 'd
better be getting along."

His mother looked at him sharply, but said nothing.  Joe lowered his
rod.  His father raised his eyes from his paper.

"And what would you be doing that for?" he asked slowly.  "Sure, I
thought you were going to stay with us."

"I can't be doing that," Grant answered easily.  "I 've got my business
over there.  And I 've got to be making my way in the world."

"And why can't you stay and do it here?" the old man went on.

"Ah, sure, what would I be doing here?" Grant began impatiently.
"There 's nothing for a man here.  On the other side I 've got a place
of my own, made by my own hands in twelve years.  That's something, is
n't it?"

"There 's no use talking to you," his father said resignedly.  "If you
must go, you must go.  But if you were wise, Willie John, you would
take whatever money you 've made in America and buy that place of Peter
McKenna's down the road.  You 'd get it cheap now.  And after I 'm gone
the farm goes to you and Joe.  If you have n't got enough money I 'll
lend it to you."

"No, thank you," Grant replied a little surlily.  "I 'll get back to my
own place."

"Ah, well--" his father turned back to his paper--"have it your own
way."

Joe sent the rod swishing through the air a couple of times.  He turned
to Grant with a quick smile.

"It's not back to your business you want to be getting, Willie John,"
he laughed.  "You want to be getting back to where the good times are.
In a week or two you 'll be walking up Broadway, looking at the big
buildings you do be telling about.  Or going down Fifth Avenue, maybe,
riding in a motor-car.  Or hanging round all day drinking highballs
with the millionaires.  That's what you will be after.  Business!"

Grant turned on him with a sudden gust of anger.

"I want to tell you something, Joe," he whipped back: "I'm up in the
morning at half-past six.  I 've got the place open by eight.  It's
seldom I 'm through before ten at night--and twelve of a Saturday
night.  Do you know, this is the first holiday I 've had for twelve
years, barring Sundays and bank holidays!  And on them I 'm too tired
to do anything.  I 'm as hard worked as you are."

"I 'm afraid you 're worse," the brother replied.  He looked keenly at
the hitch of the whipcord to the haft of the rod.  "It's seldom we
can't get a day off when there 's a fair on, or a good horse-race, or a
coursing-match.  What would life be if we couldn't?"  He swished the
rod through the air again.  "And as for your father--" he took a
sidelong smiling look at the old man--"he 's hardly ever at home now
since they elected him to the County Council."

"To get on in the world," Grant said sententiously, "you 've got to
work night, noon, and morning.  There's no time for flying round to
places of amusement, and chucking away hard-earned money.  That's
what's wrong with all this country."

Joe looked up at the rafters heavy with flitches of bacon; at the
kettle purring on its crane.  He glanced through the window to where
the full haggard lay.  His ever-ready smile crept about his eyes.

"Oh, I hardly think we 'll starve for a while," he laughed.  "Will we,
mother?"

The little old lady with the kittens smiled and shook her head.

"I 'm not saying anything," she said.

There was the sound of a gate clanging and the chime of voices.  A dog
growled and then broke into a bark of welcome.  The voices came nearer
to the door.  Joe rose to open it.  The mother put her head on one side
to listen.

"Do you know who that is, Willie John?" she asked.

"No," Grant answered, "I do not."

"It 's Eunice Doran," she said.  She waited an instant.  A smile crept
over her face.  "Larry Doran's daughter, from beyond the hill."

"Oh, to be sure; I remember her," Grant smiled back.

Of course he did--a lank, gray-eyed girl, with a habit of staring you
out of countenance.  The last time he had seen her she was fifteen,
with long arms and legs that seemed eternally in the way; and he
recalled, with a smile, how in those days he had been a little in love
with her, and they had passed many queer, awkward moments together.

A funny, pathetic thing!  And as he thought of it a shutter in his mind
opened and he saw again the girl he had left on the stoop in
Schermerhorn Street, with her chic way and flashing eyes.

He wondered what she would think if she knew he had once had a boyish
affair with this simple thing from his own townland; and he blushed in
imagining her teasing laughter.

He warmed with a glow of pride as he thought of her,--of Miss Levine,
as he somehow always called her to himself,--of her marvelous clothes,
of her manicured hands and wonderful eyebrows, of her appreciation of
the latest effort of a cinematograph comedian, and her up-to-dateness
with the last flivver joke.  He smiled, too, as he thought of the
wonder with which this poor country girl would regard the metropolitan
divinity.

She came into the room slowly; and, though he could distinguish little
of her features or form, he felt a sense of shock, for somehow he had
expected a lanky, overgrown girl with arms and hands like the awkward
legs of a foal--and what he saw was a tall woman, as tall as he, who
moved with the slow dignity of a queen.

She threw her cloak off and Joe took it from her, and as it fell Grant
caught one instantaneous glimpse of her that effectually wiped the
Brooklyn girl from his mind, like a sponge passing over a chalked
slate.  He saw first the great mass of black hair knotted at the back
of her head, which seemed less like hair than a splash of dim, vivid
color; and from a side view he saw the small nose, with the sensitive
nostrils, as clearly cut as the nose on an intaglio; and the line of
chin sweeping down, as it were, in one soft, firm stroke.  That was all
he saw for a minute--that and the flush on her cheeks.

"How are you?" she said to his mother.  "And how are you, Mr. Grant?
And Joe?"  She turned to Grant, looked at him for an instant and put
out her hand.  "And this is Willie John," she said.  "You 've been a
long time away, Willie John."

He saw, as he looked at her, how very gray her eyes were, and how very
deep--like orifices through which light shone--and how very steady.  He
noticed that her mouth was firm, and that she seemed to have lived each
instant of her twenty-seven years; and still she was a woman with the
first flush of beauty on her.  She turned away to talk to his mother
and he saw for the first time that her servant-girl was with her.  So
engrossed had he been with her entry, and so shocked by seeing her
beauty, that he had seen only her.

"I 'm going to have the flax pulled on the ten-acre," she was
saying--and Grant felt every syllable of her low contralto strike him
clear and compelling--"so I 'm asking the neighbors fair and early.  My
father 's dead, Willie John--" she turned to Grant for a moment--"and I
've the place on my hands."

"Ay; I heard that, Eunice," he said.  "I was sorry to hear it."

"You 'll be going back soon?" she asked.

"I 'll be going back very soon now," he said.  "In a couple of weeks at
most."

"I 've been wanting him to stay and settle down," his father broke in;
"but there 's no use talking to him."

"Ah, there's nothing for a man here," he answered disgustedly.  "It's
on the other side a man gets his chance--ay, and a woman, too, for that
matter."

"Is that so?" Eunice uttered; and she caught him with her serious gray
eyes.

"There was Joe Carragher's daughter, from Balleek," he instanced; "you
knew her well.  She went over six years ago and now she 's a lady's
maid in one of the big houses on Fifth Avenue.  A grand position!"

"Is that so?" she repeated; her eyes had narrowed a little and she was
studying him intently.

"Then there was Patrick Hagan, the brother of the captain in the Dublin
Fusiliers.  He 's got a saloon on Third Avenue and does a grand
business."

"That's the devil's business, Willie John," his mother said quietly.

It was the first time since he came back that he had seen her without a
smile on her lips.

"It's different on the other side, I tell you," Grant commented with
asperity.  "And there's Barney Doyle, that went over before me; he 's
head waiter in one of the big places on Broadway.  Do you know that
fellow makes as much as seventy dollars a week in tips?  Seventy
dollars!  Fourteen pounds!"

"His father was a great lawyer."  Old Grant shook his head.  "God be
good to him!  They called him the Star of the North."

"Fourteen pounds a week--in tips!"

Grant thought he could detect a chill, contemptuous tone in the Doran
girl's voice; but he put the thought out of his head, for why should
she be contemptuous?  She drew her blue cloak about her.

"I think I 'll be going," she said.

"I 'll leave you a bit of the road," Grant offered.

They went out and down the loaning.  Overhead a great white moon
showed, a great silver plate of a thing whose beams scintillated in
minute gossamer threads.  Before them the road ran, as white as the
moon, and everything showed in a faint purple--trees, fields, the
singing river on the left of them, and the hill that rose between them
and the sea.  A little breeze was stirring and they could hear a soft
soughing from the trees and a murmur from the beach.  Somewhere behind
them, on the Yellow Road probably, a corn-crake was venting its
harmoniously raucous cry.

They stopped and looked about them.  Beneath them the great plain of
Louth lay, which Maeve of Connaught had once raided at the head of a
hundred thousand men.  And as Grant looked at it in the subtle
moonlight the memory of forgotten legends came to him in vague
uncoördinated fragments.  There was Slieve Gullion behind him, where
Cuala, the great artificer, hammered on his magic anvil night and day,
and up whose slopes Finn MacCool had pursued the white deer without
horns.

And in front of him was the sea, where for thrice three hundred years
the Children of Lir had mourned in the guise of white swans.  And on
the hill beside him was the fortress of Bricriu of the poisoned tongue,
whose satires killed men and withered the leaves on the green trees.
Suddenly he heard Eunice's voice addressing him.

"I suppose you 've done well for yourself, Willie John?" she asked.

"Ay; I 've done well," he told her.  "I 've got a business over there
worth ten thousand dollars.  And I 've built it up in twelve years."

"Ten thousand dollars!" she mused.  "Two thousand pounds; that's a good
deal.  That's half as much as your brother Joe made, and it's a great
deal more than I have myself."

"Brother Joe made!" he muttered in a tone of amazement.

"Yes--your brother Joe made," she answered naïvely.  "He 's made as
much as four thousand pounds trading in cattle between here and
England, and buying horses for the Italian Government."

"Twenty thousand dollars!" Grant said, dumb-founded.  "Brother Joe!"

"And you 've more than I have," she continued mercilessly.  "The Cliff
Farm is worth only eighteen hundred pounds.  That's only nine thousand
of your dollars."

He answered nothing, for a quick sense of shame suddenly suffused him
when he remembered how much he had talked, and the others keeping so
dumb.  Something began tumbling very fast about him.  They went up the
hill and suddenly the sea stretched before them, sheer through to
England, a vast surface of shimmering ripples, where the moon touched,
and here and there white curling waves.  And beneath them it murmured
on the beach in a steady crooning.  The breeze blew landward and
pressed about them firmly in a cool, even motion.  To the right the
Cliff Farm lay, softly white, and a faint scent came down from its
orchard.  The servant-girl passed through the gate and up toward the
house.

"America 's a great country!" Grant said aloud.

He did not know why he said it.  Perhaps it was because he could find
nothing else to say, and perhaps it was a sort of incantation,
conjuring away the doubts that were rising in his mind.

Eunice made no answer.  And as he looked at her, standing there in the
moonlight and the breeze, the old affection he had for her a dozen
years ago rose within him, and he wondered whether he should n't put
his arm about her and kiss her for old times' sake.  But the idea left
him as soon as it came, for the thought of trifling with her seemed a
desecration.

"It's a great place!" he said again lamely.

She swung around upon him suddenly, savagely, her head tilted, her eyes
flashing.  The cloak behind her stood backward with the breeze; and as
he watched her, amazed, petrified almost, the thought of dead ancient
Irish women flashed through his brain--Maeve, the fighting queen of
Connaught; and Deirdre, who dashed herself dead against a rock; and
Grainne, the king's daughter, who fled to follow Diarmuid of the Spears.

"Then why don't you stay there?" she uttered passionately.

"Why don't I stay there?" he repeated blankly.

"Why don't you stay there?" she said again.  "You come back here--you
and your like--with a smile on your mouth and a sneer in your eye.  You
come back here in your fine clothes, that you 've sweated day and night
for, and taken charity to get--ay, charity!  What's tips but
charity?--And you lord it round for a while and tell us what fools we
are--and patronize us.  Patronize us!"

She swung round and fronted the low-lying land with the faint blue heat
haze of summer over it, touched into silver in the June moon.  The
muscles of her throat were throbbing.  She was poised on her feet like
a bird ready for flight.

"Look down there at your father's farm," she told him.  Her hand
stretched toward it and her gray eyes blazed in his face.  "Look at it
well!  Look at the corn that's green, and the rye ripening, and the
stacked haggard.  Look at the trees in the orchard and the fruit
hanging from them, and the river alive with trout, and the mountain
with its grouse and hares.  And then go back to your grand business and
fumble the halfpence in your greasy till!"

He said nothing.  Mechanically his eyes followed her hand where it
pointed, and every word ate its meaning into his brain as if etched by
strong acid.

"Ay!" he said dully.

"Have you eyes to see, man?"  She bent toward him with her hands
outstretched and her face aflame with anger.  "Or have you ears to
hear?  Or has groping for coppers made you blind like a mole?  Or the
tinkle of tuppences deafened you the like of a bat?"

"I 've got eyes," he answered sullenly.

"Use them, then!" she snapped.  "And when you go back to your grand
business, stop making a poor mouth about Ireland.  Don't whine the like
of a beggar in the street.  Stop your talk about poverty-stricken
Ireland, and oppressed Ireland and lazy Ireland.  We 've got money here
as well as you, for all your grand business; and we've got pride; and
we 've got strength.  And we don't want anybody talking about our
sorrows, and the nations pitying us in the four corners of the earth."

He said nothing, but his face had gone white; and every now and then he
winced, as though he had been caught by a whip.  He wished to Heaven
she would stop; and still, back in him, something had awakened that
yearned to be lashed into life.

"I heard you wanted your father and mother to go back to America with
you and partake of the grand business.  Look at that farm-house again.
Your grandfather built that with granite hewn from his own quarry.  And
you want them to leave that and to go off with you and grub in a
huckster's booth!  God's glory and the blue sky over us!"

There was the rapid flapping of wings and they saw a wedge of birds in
the moonlight.  Suddenly they caught the shrill clamor of the barnacle
goose.

"Even the birds," she uttered with scorn, "even the birds have sense.
They 're happy when they get back from roving.  Not like you and your
like, Willie John.  If you want to go, go!  And God go with you!  If
you want to stay, stay--and you're welcome.  But don't come back for a
while, croaking like a magpie chattering over a ruined hearth."

She turned to him, and the agitation and passion seemed to leave her by
a great effort of will.  Her hands unclenched and her voice grew calm,
with even a queer crooning melody in it; but her bosom heaved
tumultuously.

"I liked you once, Willie John," she said.  "I thought there was the
makings of a big man in you.  I mind the time at the football, and you
running down the field like a hare, and no one to catch or trip you.
And at the fairs I mind you putting the horses through their paces like
a jockey born.  And at throwing the weight there was no one of your
size or years that could best you.  Ay!  I mind you, and your dogs
following you, and your head high up in the air.  I thought well of you
that time, Willie John.  I thought there was no one like you."  She
raised herself to her full height and looked at him squarely.  "But
now," she said, "I 'd rather have a stray tinker that does be traveling
the roads."

And scornfully she left him.


IV

He came into the kitchen, two evenings later, from the parlor.  His
father sat by the table, reading his paper.  His mother pottered about
the turf fire, teasing it into flame.  In a corner Joe sat, polishing
the barrel of a breech-loading fowling-piece with an old rag.  His
father caught the glimpse of paper in his hand.

"Were you writing, Willie John?"

"Ay," Grant answered; "I was writing a letter to America."

He moved toward the fireplace and turned slowly about again to his
father.

"You were saying," he asked, "that that place of McKenna's was for
sale.  I wonder how much he 'd want for it."

"He 'd take four thousand pounds," his father answered.  "Maybe less."

"I 'm afraid I have n't got that much."  Grant shook his head.  "I 've
only two thousand."

"We can lend you the difference, Willie John," Joe broke in.  He
squinted down the barrel of the rifle.  "Can't we, Dad?"

"Ay sure!" his father answered.

"I 'm much obliged to both of you," Grant said.

He reached for his hat.

"Are you going out, Willie John?" his mother asked.

"I thought I 'd go up and call on Eunice Doran," Grant answered her.
"I might as well be neighborly."

He went out, and there was silence in the kitchen for a few minutes.
Joe clicked the lock of the gun.

"Do you mind that wild gander I put a ring on three years ago?" he
asked his father.  "It's back again.  I saw it over the marshes to-day."

"It 'll take a mate and settle down in the marsh now."  His father
nodded.  "It took it three years to find out that home is a good place.
It's a queer, silly bird--the barnacle goose."

A little ripple of laughter came from the mother's lips as she stood
over and poked the turf.  The elder Grant looked up, astonished.

"What are you laughing at, Sarah Ann?" he inquired.

"I was thinking," she answered.

"What was it you were thinking about?" he pursued.

"Oh nothing!" she parried.  "I was just thinking."

And she went on teasing the fire, while a subtle, affectionate smile
played about the corners of her eyes.



BELFASTERS

"Oh, I'll go down unto Belfast to see that seaport gay."--A COUNTRY
POET.


To him the whole conversation, the whole setting, the whole event, was
unreal as ghosts are unreal, or objects on a foggy night.  Here was
this woman, who had been so nigh to him, and to whom he had been so
much, talking of leaving him, in as matter-of-fact a manner as though
she were speaking of taking a street-car.  Here was the murk of a
February evening in Belfast, the minute rain yellowing the
street-lamps; the cable-cars rushing by brusquely and short-temperedly,
a "get out of the way and be damned to you!" in their crashing, abrupt
passage.  She was thinking of leaving him, she was thinking of leaving
him for good, all because of a strike, mind you! just for nothing more
than a strike!

"Well, I 'd best be going," she said.

"Well--"  He shifted from one foot to the other.  "I think it's very
foolish of you," he said.

She smiled, as he looked at her, that strange secret smile of hers that
meant she had drawn into herself.  He knew every expression on her
face--for a year now.

"What is it you want me to do?" he asked for the fourth time.

"Give the workers in the mill what they want.  They ask only bare
justice.  A couple o' shillings a week!  What is it to you?"

"I will not."  He shook his head.  His great red beard shook too.

"You 're a hard man, Aleck," she said softly.  "You 're no' exactly
human.  And you 're getting on, Aleck.  You 're no' young any more.  Be
a wee bit soft, man.  It's no shame."

"I will not."

"Ah, well!"  She stepped toward the curb, ready to signal a car.  He
followed her with his look.  Of all the women in his life she had been
most to him:--she, just a working-girl!  He was fond of her.  He was
more than in love with her.  His feeling towards her was no phenomenon
but an accepted fact.  He admired her, too, which was more than he did
any woman, though she had been more to him than any but a wife should
be.  He admired her for that too--she had gone into the relation so
calmly, so open-mindedly, so fearlessly.  He admired her; in her was no
slight, common blood.

"But, Jennie, I can't leave you like that."

She turned to face him.  He was abashed by her steadfast brown eyes.

"Why for no'?" she asked.  "Aleck, I 'm no lassie that's been fooled.
What is between us, Aleck, is because I liked you and I knew you liked
me.  Don't let that bother your head.  I 've done you no hurt, Aleck,
nor you me.  That's our own affair."

"But why break like this?  What for?"

"For this, Aleck.  You 're the owner and the master.  I 'm a worker.  I
've always been a worker.  You mind I 've never taken a thing from you,
Aleck.  I 'm one of the people you 're fighting, Aleck, and I stick by
my folks.  While this fight's on, Aleck, you and I are finished.
That's the way I feel, Aleck.  I can't change it."

"You're foolish!"

"I don't think I am."  This time she signaled the car.  It stopped with
its ill-tempered, hurried air.

"When'll I see you again?"

"When you do what my folks ask in justice, Aleck, and not before."  And
she was gone.

He stood for a few minutes in the rain.  A touch of panic seized him.
For a year he had not been so lonely.  He felt he was on the verge of
doing a foolish thing.

"I will not!" he said doggedly.

He turned down the road sullenly.  A great desire was on him to catch
the next car and intercept her at a changing-station.

"Stop making a fool o' yourself," he said to himself.  "You 'll do no
such thing."

He plugged on steadily, unmindful of where he was going.  He was aboil
with perturbation.

"I ha'e gi'en them a couple o' raises this year a'ready!"

He was blind to everything but the action of the workers of his mill,
of his father's mill, of his grandfather's mill, defying him openly and
stubbornly.  And now they had to take Jeanie Lindsay from him, the only
woman he had liked wholly in all his days.

"To hell with them!" he said savagely.  His red beard bristled.

He stopped suddenly.  He shook his fist at an arc-lamp.

"I 'll close the mill," he muttered aloud.  "I 'll close down.  I will
so.  I 've just had enough o' it.  They ha'e no softie in Aleck
Robe'son.  I 'll close it.  Be damned but I will!  I will!  I will so!"

From Aleck Robertson's earliest infancy he had been bred to the mill,
as his father had been by his father before him.  It is a small,
compact building, off the Falls Road, the Robertson mill is, harboring
not more than four hundred employees.  But their fame is not in Belfast
alone.  Many the royal house in Europe before the war had its bride's
linen from the Robertson factory.  It is a small mill, as it should be,
with a small door, and on a by-street is the lintel with the name
"Robert Robertson & His Son, Founded 1803."

A queer family, these Robertsons of Belfast, very solid, very stubborn.
In five generations there has been but one son to the family, and no
daughters.  "The Scottish weaver-bird, laying but one egg," some dry
doctor dubbed them.  So they be.  They are a tall, solid dynasty,
marrying toward middle age a bride solid as themselves.  Young Aleck,
red-bearded and rangy, could remember his father, as tall and rangy as
he, and bearded, too, as his grandfather was, both silent, speculative
men, students of the Shorter Catechism, and shrewd observers of life,
possessors of the trust of glossy linen.  They had their duties: to
mind their own business; to take care of the mill, and to make fine
cloth.

"They can see the linen in the flax, they Robertsons!" a workman of
theirs once boasted, and it was true.

At Portrush golf-club you may hear about him.  "The championship of
Ireland," they tell me, "Captain Macneill got it then and he held it
for three years and then your Uncle Simon for a year, and then Mr.
Campbell o' Kilkee, and then--who was it, then?--the linen man of
Belfast--what the deuce is his name?  Robson?  Robinson?  Robertson,
that's it!  You'd hardly remember him; he was not a showy player, not
an affable man, but sound!  Ah, damned sound!"

At his school they have difficulty in recalling him.  The president
remembers him vaguely as a solemn youth with freckles and gigantic
hands.

They seem to have gone through life, he and his mill, with one object
in the world--to produce linen that is the pride of Ulster.  They have
each their worthy, definite place in the world.  On him there rests the
mill, a legacy as important and dynastic in its way as one of the
former German principalities.  He toured Ireland studying flax.  He saw
it raise its bluish green stems in spring, soft as down.  He saw it
rise and the wind ruffle and bend it, like still water.  He saw the
strange blue flower break out on it, as blue as a near star.  It was
plucked from the ground in summer time, acres and acres of it plucked
carefully by a numerous population, and stacked like corn.  And the
nights after the flax-pulling there would be great joy-making in the
villages, dancing and singing and drinking and love-making under the
inscrutable Irish stars.  It was taken then to the dikes and left
rotting in the water, while mephitic gases rolled over the
country-side.  It was then scutched in the scutch-mills, where wheels
run by water, by men with querulous dispositions and hacking
consumptive coughs.  To him and his like it came then, in soft, glossy,
whitish strands, like the hair of Scandinavian women.  He turned it
over to his operatives, weavers and throwsters and pickers, men
hunchbacked from bending over their looms, and women very free in their
ways and not often pretty.  Now it covered the stubborn hills of Ulster
and soon it covered the groaning tables of kings.

"It's an unco thing, the flax!" his Scots-Irish workmen used to say.
Aleck Robertson had the same thought, when he considered, though he
never phrased it, that the prosperity and good fame and management of
his linen-mill was his religion.

Life for him flowed by in a groove as regular and as well fitting as
one of the bands on his own looms.  Since his father died, ten years
ago, he had been following the same routine, getting up in the morning,
in the club where he stayed, and going to work, taking a
street-car--though the Robertson firm was famous, it was not
rich--attending to the work, and coming back in the evenings to spend
the time with a few friends over a tumbler of Scotch.

"Why for do you no' take a wife and settle down, Aleck?" an occasional
friend asked him.

"Och, I 'm all right as I am," he would answer.

Life at thirty-eight had become for Aleck Robertson a succession of
minor hedonisms.  He liked the sting of the shower-bath in the morning,
the goodly taste of breakfast.  He liked to hear the bustle and rumble
of the works as he entered.  He liked his lunch.  He enjoyed his game
of golf, and his occasional holidays in Scotland, or France, where he
patronized the bathing-beaches, and played for small stakes at _petits
chevaux_.  Every week he attended a music-hall, and occasionally he was
seen as escort to a minor actress.

"Aleck!" some of his cronies said.  "He's a card!"

He had, for such girls as were not frightened by his beard and his
position, a queer, provocative glint in his eye, which they would savor
and giggle at.

"He 's a pleasant fellow, Mr. Robertson," they agreed.  "He could be
fine and pleasant to a girl he liked, I 'll warrant you!  They do
say--" and here some immaterial scandal was told.

It was strange how he ran across Jean Lindsay, for he made it a rule to
have nothing to do socially--if one could call it socially--with the
girls in the mill.  He had noticed her a few times about the place--a
stately sort of girl with calm brow and eyes.  He admired the fine
figure she had--the shapely arms and rich bosom.  A woman, that!  None
of your fragile dolls!  And twice he had seen her leave the works at
quitting time, a figure in a Paisley shawl and skirt and blouse, none
of the cheap finery of the mill worker.

"Yon 's a fine girl!" he thought, and forgot her.

It was one night on Cave Hill he discovered her again, a soft June
night with a half-moon in the sky.  He had been out for a tramp and sat
down to watch the city beneath him.  He heard a rustle in the heather
beside him.  He got up immediately.

"I beg your pardon."  He noticed suddenly a girl looking at him, seated
not ten yards away.  "I did n't know there was any one here."

"It's all right, Mr. Robertson."  The voice was calm and self-possessed
as that of any woman of the great world.  He had to look a few instants
before he recognized her.

"You 've seen me at the works," she explained.

"Why, of course I have," he remembered.  "What are you doing here all
alone?"

"Oh, I like to come up of an evening among the heather," she told him.
"It's a bonny wee flower.  I don't wonder the bees love it.  The
Danes," she added slowly, "used to make a heather ale, but that's gone
now.  It must have tasted fine."

"It's a queer hour to come here."

"It's a lot of other time I have," she replied, "and I tending your
weavers from all but dawn until the fall o' day!  I like it this time,
though, for you see things now you would n't see in the daytime.  You
can hear the plover at night, calling like children.  And just now a
badger passed me, gray as a gaffer.  I bees waiting, too," she said,
and she smiled, "when the moon comes up to see the fairies dancing on
the hillside.  There must be a lot o' the child in me," she explained,
"because I do be thinking long."

"There's not many girls come up here their lonesome."

"There 's none think me beauty enough to come with."

"Thon 's a town of blind men."  And they both laughed.

"Maybe I 'm not missing much."

"By God!  You are!"  And he leaned forward and kissed her.

That night when he went home, thinking over the kissing and the
laughing and the gentle caresses, the thing that impressed him most was
how natural it all had been.  She had received it all, and he had given
it, as though it were just like the scented heather, and the wind and
the moon.  He met her another night by careful chance, and again there
was all of the child in her, eagerness and pensiveness and artless
kissing and bubbling laughter.  He could feel her eyes laugh.

He met her a third time on the great hill above the town, and this time
it was by appointment.  She had become a great pleasantness to him, a
greater pleasantness than he could ever have imagined before, there was
something so apart from the world.  The thought of meeting that night
made his great chest heave involuntarily.

That night he sensed, when he met her, she was all woman, not child
alone.  He kissed her and they sat down in the springy heather bells.
She was silent.

"It's been a long day," she said at length, "a long, long day."  She
looked at him and smiled.

He turned to catch her up to him.  She held him at the length of her
arm.

"What is your name?" she asked.  "Your first name?"

"Aleck."

"Do you mean true, Aleck?"  Not only her mouth, but her eyes, her whole
being was questioning.  "Aleck, do you mean true?"

"Ay!  I mean true."

And he had became her lover, her secret lover.

For one whole year she was a delight and a mystery to him.  There was
not in him, though, the whirling passion that makes for love epics.  It
was just good for him to know her.  Had he been twenty he would have
married her, nor been content until he had her bound by candle, book,
and bell.  But he was in his thirties now, and steady and solid and
wise.  She asked nothing of him.  She accompanied him here and there,
to Bangor, to Antrim Glens, dressed in modest decency.  Their relation
she accepted with dignity.  She was not possessive, as a commoner woman
might be.  She was not fulsome in her affection for him.  It was very
restrained.

"I like you well, Aleck," was all she uttered.  "I like you fine, my
big red man."

At the works she never noticed him, nor he her.  Once, indeed, he had
wanted her to leave and take a little house somewhere, but her eyes had
flashed terribly at the first words.

"I 'm sorry, Jeanie," he faltered.  "I 'm queer and sorry."

"You hurt me," she confessed.  "You did so."  She relented at his
distress.  "Ah, sure, don't take on about it.  A wee word--it comes out
so easy.  I should not have looked so fierce.  But I know you did n't
mean to belittle me, Aleck."

He could never quite understand her.  No woman in his life had ever
acted so.  There had been venal women, and foolish women, and women
whom other women would instinctively recognize as evil.  But Jean was a
mixture of the opposites of these things, and she was also Jean.

He loved to stand and watch her.  She reminded him of a picture he had
once seen--one of a series of four depicting the seasons; and Jean
resembled the one called "Autumn," a figure of a woman in a purple
Grecian robe walking through a wood of falling leaves, a mature woman,
with kindliness and wisdom in her eyes, and a certain proud grace to
her.  Jean often looked like that.

She thought, too, in a simple way.  Her opinions were definite as rocks.

"It's no' right, Aleck!"  She would raise her brown eyes calmly and
fearlessly to him, discussing a manner of trading or a phase of
municipal politics.

She had only one fault to find with him.  She would pat his head and
say:

"There 's only one thing about you, Aleck, you 're not exactly human.
There 's a wee thing missing somewhere, red fellow.  They workers of
yours, they 're no more in your eye than the machinery they handle.  I
'd like to have you a wee bit softer, Aleck.  I would so."

"I 'm soft enough toward you," he would object.

"It's no' the same thing, mannie.  You 're soft toward me because I 'm
close to you.  But outside that you 're hard.  You don't see people.
You must n't think with the head, Aleck.  You must think a wee bit wi'
the heart.  Na, na!  Toward every one, I mean."

He often regretted, in his club at night, after leaving her, that she
was not the sort of person he could marry.  It would be so pleasant to
have a house with her in it, the fine big woman, with the wise head and
the warm heart, with the temperament rich as wine.  She would go well
in a house of her own, fitting in it naturally, as some fine old clock
would, or some mellow furniture of long ago.  And to be greeted by her
in the evening--

"It would be queer and pleasant," he thought in his stilted Belfast
idiom.  "Och, ay!  It would that!"

But she was not the manner of woman the Robertsons married.  His dead
fathers would turn in their graves were he to pick a wife from out the
mill-hands.

The august and chaste and cold assembly of the Robertson wives had no
room in it for anything as warm and handsome and as plebeian as Jean.
The wives the Robertsons chose were of their own rank, meager spinsters
with a little money, with the accomplishments of gentlewomen, the
playing of certain tunes on the piano, the knitting of afghans, the
speaking of a prim English instead of Belfast Scots--an acidulous
gentility.

Ay!  If it hadn't been so!


The interview with the foreman had been stormy.  It became furious.  It
had ended disastrously, so disastrously he did n't care a tinker's
curse.

"I ha'e gi'en you two raises a'ready, and here you 're back for more.
Be damned to it, men, is it the king's mint you take me for?"

"Ay, you ha' gi'en us the raises, Mister Aleck, but the rents ha'
raised again.  There 's no place to flit to tha' 's cheaper.  The price
o' food is unchristian--"

"Is that my fault?"

"Na!  Na!  It's no' your fault.  It's just the times.  And there 's
childer comin'--"

"Is that my fault?"

"Ah, Mister Aleck, be reasonable!  We got to live.  Down at
Richardson's mill they 're gi'en the third raise.  And at the United--"

"Now, listen to me, men," he roared like a maddened bull.  "You 've got
to make a choice.  Either get on with what you have, or I 'll close the
mill.  I swear to my God I 'll close the mill."

"We 've got to live," the men said sullenly.  An old workman stepped
out.

"Mister Aleck," he pleaded, "I 've worked for your da all my life, and
I was a wee nipper when your grandfa'er was here.  I mind him well.
You 've got neither chick nor child, and if you have n't, the mill goes
wi' you--"

Good God!  So it did.  He had never thought of that.

"--so it is n't as though you wanted the money--"

"I will not!"  One part of his brain formulated the reply and his lips
uttered it.  The other part was busy on this new discovery, that with
him the mills died.  Of course they did.

"Well, then, be damned to you!  Close your mill!"

"Be damned to the whole lot of you!  Take your week's notice from the
day.  Saturday week the mill closes, and I swear to my God it never
opens again."

Why should it, he asked himself when they were gone, why should it?

He sat back after they had left him and for an instant the magnitude of
the thought that there would be no successor shook him physically, left
him all of a tremble.  He had never thought of it before, incredible as
that may seem.

"No!  There'll be no other.  I'm the last."  He lighted a match to put
to his pipe, but he let it go out.  "I 'm the last."

All his life, at this moment, seemed shattered--the comfortable running
order of it junked into a grotesque and cold puzzle, as a complicated
engine will be ruined by a thunderbolt.  The mills were gone, for he
would not give in to any raise, and Jeanie Lindsay too--she was so much
to him, so much that she obtruded herself on every thought he had.

For the first time in his existence, sitting on the ruin, it occurred
to him after all what a poor thing this complicated mechanism had been.
He could remember his boyhood, a drear Sabbatical term of years, spent
with a bearded father and a thin, acidulous mother.  At school he had
not been liked.

"It was no' so pleasant, now that I come to think of it."

And he was supposed to approach a strict spinster in marriage, that the
destiny of the Robertsons should be accomplished; to be intimate with a
frigid stranger, that another lonely and not-liked boy would be brought
into the world, between a dour father and a mother of marked gentility,
in a house that was cold no matter how warm the summer, and dark though
the sun shone.

"I will not!"

The face of the Lindsay girl came between him and the tepid vision he
had conjured, as in some motion-picture device.  And he saw her warmth
and bonniness, her slow laughter, her calm eyes.  Why, under God's
name, must she be born in a region where the Robertson tradition did
not pick?  Why must she be so desirable, and eligible wives so insipid?

"Ah, be damned to her!" he snapped viciously.  "The whole thing can go
to the de'il.  It's a dog's life, that's what it is, and I 'm through.
Ay, I am so."

For a year he wandered across Europe, and to and fro in it.  He saw
Denmark and Jutland, and though he had sworn good-by to linen, he could
not help examining the quality of the flax grown there, and he did n't
think much of it--as no good Belfast man should.  He visited Holland
and approved the industrious population, but adjudged them "o'er
pleased wi' themsel's."  Paris he knew before, but it palled on him
now.  One of his old dreams had been to go there with Jeanie Lindsay.
"It's kind o' empty," he thought.  England rather irritated him.
People there, knowing he came from Ireland, wished to know what he
thought of Home Rule and were shocked when they heard it.  He went
north to Scotland for golf, and the flat Scot accent made him homesick
for Belfast.

"I think I 'll just run over to see how the old town 's getting on."
The truth was, though he would n't acknowledge it to himself, he wanted
to get news of Jeanie Lindsay.  How was she?  And was she the same as
ever?  And was she--the thought stabbed him strangely--laughing her
slow laugh and looking her calm look for some other than he?

News he got of her quickly and with a vengeance.  Going across Donegal
Place he was tapped on the arm.

"I 'd like a wee word wi' you, Mr. Aleck Robertson."

He saw beside him a compact figure with a set jaw and savage eyes.  He
was mostly cognizant of the eyes.  They blazed at him with unconcealed
hatred.

"And who may you be?"

"You 'll know me fine afore I 'm through with you, Aleck Robertson.  I
'm Tom Lindsay, Jeanie Lindsay's brother."

Robertson forgot the eyes in the question that jumped to his lips.  He
held out his hand.

"I ha'e heard her speak o' you.  You 're the one that went to
Newcastle, to the shipbuilding.  And how 's Jean?"

Lindsay struck the proffered hand down.

"She 's the way you left her, wi' this difference: There 's a bastard
o' yours on her arm this four months.  And do you know what I 'm going
to do to you for that, Aleck Robertson?  I 'm going to kill you!"

"Wi' a baby!"

"Wi' a baby o' yours!"

"Wi' a baby o' mine!"  Robertson was plainly dazed.

"You were no' expecting that, maybe?"

"No!  I was no' expecting that."  The big man tried to pull his
faculties together.

"And where is she now?  She 's no' gone away, is she?"

"No!  She 's no' gone away.  And she 's not where she might be, for all
you did--in the poor-house!  Nor tramping the streets, selling matches!
No!  She 's at home.  In her father's house--"

"At home, you say?"

"She 's at home."  Tom Lindsay put himself in Robertson's way.  "And,
now, listen to me--"

The red-bearded man shoved Tom aside as though he were a troublesome
bush in the path.

"Will you get to hell out o' my way," he roared, "afore I gi'e you a
clout on the lug?"

He started at breakneck speed down the street.  The brother looked
after him silently, his jaw loose with wonder.


He pushed aside the little gate in front of the garden and though he
knocked at the door, he tried it, so impatient was he for entry, and
finding it on the latch, he opened it as a gust of wind might.  In the
hall he met her coming to answer the knock, and suddenly as he saw her,
all the bluster and the heartiness went out of him, and his knees
turned to water and there was a great catch in his throat.  He wanted
to see her only, but the baby she had on her arm was she also, both of
them one.  It suddenly occurred to him that he too was a part of her,
all three of them one.  And he felt suddenly as Saul must have felt
when, going toward Damascus, he was stricken to the earth.

She smiled at his perturbation.  "I 'm glad to see you, Aleck."  Calmly
she shifted the child to her left arm.  She put out her hand to him and
he caught it and held on to it as a foundering sailor hangs on to a
thrown line.  She led him to the parlor.

"Have you no word," she smiled, "for me and this wee fellow o' yours?"

He looked at the both of them, she more like Ceres, the autumn spirit,
than ever, buxom and wise and calmly happy, and the little thing of
down and fluttering life in her arms, soft as a newly hatched chick, he
sensed.

"When," he asked, and his voice in his own ears was hoarse as the
cawing of a rook, "when are you going to marry me?"

"I 'm no' so sure," she said calmly, "that I 'm going to marry you at
all."

"You 're going to marry me, Jeanie, and I 'll start the mill again, and
we 'll all be fine--"

"And you 'll gi'e the working people the raises they're entitled to?"

"I will not," he flashed out suddenly, as of old.  "They 're entitled
to nothing."

"Then I'll ha' nothing to do wi' you."  She looked at him calmly.  "Nor
will this wee fellow.  I 'm a working-woman, Aleck, and he 's a
working-woman's son.  We 're no' your kind."

He saw the baby's face now, crumpled with sleep.  Very like an old
man's face it seemed to him, and yet there was something indefinably
pulling about it.

"The wee workin'-fellow!"  There was such a pathetic touch to the idea.

"By God!" he blurted suddenly.  "I'll gi'e them the mill!"

She smiled again.  "The wee thing then was missing in you, Aleck--I
think you got it now.  And I 'll marry you, Aleck, just when you say.
It's no' too soon," she added simply.

For a minute he was sunk in abstraction while she patted his hand with
the old, familiar gesture.  He raised his head and spoke with
conviction.

"You know, Jeanie, you know, it's queer to think that an hour ago I had
no idea of all this.  You and thon wee fellow, and the mill's working
again and a' right between me and the men.  I had made an end, and now
there 'll be no end.  You know, it seems ordained in a manner of
speaking.  Ay, as it were, ordained.  It does," he said.  "It does
that.  Ay, indeed.  It does so."



THE KEEPER OF THE BRIDGE

I

Every time he came back, after a brief visit in the South American
capital, to the gorge where he was building the great bridge, Lovat's
heart would throb and his throat swell with pride as he looked at the
great stone structure spanning the Andean chasm.  First the little
train would come puffing and straining up the grade, on the iron path
between the lavish tropic greenery.  Then there were the peaks of
mountains, daring the sky, their tops lightly muffled with snow.
_Nevada_, went the Spanish word, soft as the snow itself.  Then,
imminent, one felt, was the drop of the gorge, a dramatic descent that
stopped the heart in its rhythmic beating.  "Here is the end!" one
said.  And then the bridge!

Soaring, splendid, slender, strong, its arches spanning the tumbling
river beneath, the great bridge ran like a rainbow from mountain to
mountain.  Lovat thought of it, with its lightness, its perfection, its
spurning of the ground, as a spirit that crossed with winged unwetted
feet the challenging river beneath.  It suggested, somehow, Artemis in
the dusk, with a tongue of fire above her proud brow.

The wonder and the miracle of it never failed to thrill him.  All the
harsh practical details of his work, details of thrust and strain, of
fitting springer to pier, and voussoir to springer, of the curve of
intrados, of the strength of abutments, never took away from him the
sense that he had done, was doing, a great and practical thing.  These
mountains, that composition of jungle, that smashing drop to the
turbulent river, the snarling waters themselves--all these were the
work of the Great Mason, the detail of his Divine Hand.  So they were
when and so they had remained since the heavens and the earth were
finished and all the host of them, and He rested on the seventh day
from all the work which He had made.

But a day would come, the Master of the Masons knew and had ordained,
when the welter of passionate nature would subside, and the small race
of mankind He had fashioned would reach a place of progress in their
journey when this would have to be bridged.  Then one of His prentice
men would do it.  And Lovat experienced a sense of holiness that he had
been the chosen one.

Lovat looked at the bridge with wonder and with pride each time he
returned, but each time he returned he felt somehow that the bridge had
been jealous of his absence, resented it, became temperamental as a
woman.  Whilst he was there everything was right.  There were
accidents, of course, but they were the recognized risks of a great
venture, the ordinary failure of the human factor in a Titanic
equation.  But when he was away strange things happened.  Now an
unaccountable error in laying this or that, now a sudden collapse of
machinery, now a terrible accident to the native workmen.  But when he
was there, all was well.  It seemed as if the bridge demanded all his
time, all his talent, all his attention.

It occurred to him there was a sort of contest between him and the
bridge, a sort of quiet, deadly fight, as between a man and a spirited
horse he is riding in a steeplechase.  He felt, too, that all the
strange things about him knew it--the surly river, the whispering
jungle, the majestic mountains, the cold observant stars.  These could
tell him what it was, for they had observed all things, seeing history
begin and peoples fade and nations rise.  They had seen great
prehistoric animals flap wings terrible and dark as a demon's.  They
had seen these things die and be forgotten.  They were of nature and
knew humanity, and they could tell him, if they wished.

But they told nothing.  They observed the cruel law of silence, which
all nature knows and dead men learn.  The business was his and the
bridge's.  Let the twain fight it out.

"I 'm getting morbid, up here in the mountains," Lovat complained, and
he turned abruptly to think of a month from now, when Cecily would come
south from New York to marry him in Cartagena, and to be with him for
the last days before the bridge was opened.  Her dark, serious eyes and
cloudy hair and serious smiling mouth were before him, but the shadow
of the bridge rose between him and the vision of her like a barred
door....


II

There were two mysteries in Simon Lovat's life.  One was how he, a poor
Highland Scots-born boy, reared in abject poverty, had ever come to be
the great architect he was.  And the other was how he had become
engaged to Cecily Stanford, Gamaliel Stanford's only daughter, and
Gamaliel Stanford was a millionaire.

He hated to think of his infancy in the little Argyle town where he was
born.  He hated even to think of his boyhood in New York.  People, he
felt, would n't understand it.  They might talk of being hungry, but
did they know what hunger for years was, abject hunger, malnutrition?
Did these well-fed men who talked of hardship know, could they conceive
of a family to whom for years a nickel meant the difference between
butter on bread and dry bread?  They talked of slums, and dirt, and
poverty, but he kept his mouth closed.  Were he to tell them what he
knew of these--he himself--might they not draw back from him as they
would draw back with a shudder from a man who had been close to lepers?
Fine words mean so little in this world.

All his life until seven years ago, when he was twenty-five, had been a
succession of cold ill-fed days, relieved by the magic thrill of
bridges.

There had been a viaduct here, a railroad span there, an Egyptian arch
somewhere else in Argyle that would vibrate some chord within him.  A
rainbow would flush him with sudden beauty.  And in New York the wonder
of the bridges made up for heartburnings and disappointments.  The
gossamer span to Brooklyn affected him like a long note on a
hunting-horn.  At times human weaknesses would boil within him, as when
he thought with rage that other boys and men must be uplifted by the
prizes and scholarships they won, feeling the pride of combat and of
victory, but to him they meant only the wherewithal to live for himself
and his mother and sisters.  Other boys were welcomed with feastings
when they had achieved success, but success meant to him only the
filling of famished hands--not that he grudged it, God knows! but one
hungers for a little praise, a little recognition, as one hungers for
food.  And then had come the days of obscurity, working for others
until Gamaliel Stanford, the big, bluff builder, had recognized his
genius and given him his chance.  He did fine work for Stanford.

Stanford, the self-made millionaire, wished after the fashion of his
kind to patronize the genius he had found, and so he brought him here,
brought him there, to his club, to golf-links, to his house.  And there
Lovat met Cecily, Stanford's daughter....


III

At thirty-one Lovat met people with ease, for they meant little to him,
men or women.  Men, outside his own profession, were mere figures to
him.  They did n't count.  He spoke to them in the chit-chat of the
day, and when they mentioned architecture, he changed the subject
deftly.  The alembication of engineering and art they could n't
understand, so why talk of it?  Women he didn't mind so much.  They had
a soft place in his heart, because they had been good to him as a boy
and child whom there had been few to care for....  And he had had his
little love-affairs, natural as the phases of the moon--calf-love,
sentiment, adoration, passion.  They had loitered, knocked, passed by.
None had ever touched that inmost self of him to whom God had once
called and said seriously: "You are to build bridges."

And then he saw Cecily Stanford coming toward him with her serious
shining eyes.


IV

She did not say to him the ordinary, obvious things a woman says when
she meets a man.  She held his hand for an instant and looked at him.

"When I saw the bridge you built at Indian Ford," she told him, "I was
afraid to meet you.  Afraid I might be disappointed in what you were.
You might have been a chunky, merry man who treats his genius as a
favorite, halloing to it when needed, proud of it, patronizingly
modest.  Or you might have been an angular, unsure man, jealous of his
talent's fame, comparing it as one compares horses.  But you are just
you, Simon Lovat, and your bridge is you, and you are your bridge.  I
'm blessed to see you this day."

As he watched her he seemed to be watching not a woman but some fine
spirit that struck a silver note in its movement.  Like a silver flame
in the dusk she appeared to him.  There was so much spirit to her that
nothing else really mattered.  The strain of Highland mysticism in him
gave him an uncanny power of seeing people as they were, not as they
seemed to the outward eye.  He could look at a certain man and say to
himself with certainty, "At death that man dies," or at some
sweet-faced woman, repressed, waiting, and know, "At death this woman's
life begins."  He saw Cecily Stanford and said: "This woman endures
forever.  She lives now and she will live always."

And then from the spirit within his eyes went to the body without, as
one might look first at some gracious womanhood and be all eyes for her
presence, forgetting for the nonce the queenly satins that clothed it.
He saw her hair, like a blue cloud.  Her eyes he knew.  He saw the
skilful symmetry of face, a little, longish face with lips half open,
eagerly.  He sensed the littleness of her figure, the long, firm line
from knee to ankle, the small bosom, the loveliness of arms.  He saw
the firm, sensitive hands.

And yet she might have been nothing to him but a gracious memory, as of
some splendid day, but that she was whole-heartedly interested in and
understood the importance of bridges.  Some generous arch, or some line
of a writer's might have turned her heart that way once, and set her on
that broad masonic road the charm of which endures a lifetime.  A book
may trouble or a picture inspire one, but those are of the spirit.  But
a bridge is of spirit and body.  One sees the architect, one sees the
art, one sees the courage and grandeur and beauty.  A history of
bridges is a history of the world, of its wars, its commerce, its
progress.  And the thoughts about it are without end.

And she could speak of all that to him.  She understood the mystic
errand of the builder of bridges, which is to be the servant of unborn
men.  Old wisdom that had been lost was reborn in her.  She could feel
why the heads of a great religion should call themselves proudly
sovereign pontiffs--pontiff, _pontifex_, builder of bridges.  She could
understand the reverence that stirred in Highlanders when they crossed
a bridge and removed their bonnets.  "God bless the builder of the
bridge!" their prayer went.

She could understand the ideals of an ancient age, when a community of
monks called themselves the Pontist Brothers, the _Frères Pontifes_.
Modest, white-robed, they built bridges of great fame, they operated
ferry-boats, they fed and housed pilgrims.  But their greatest care was
the building and upkeep of bridges.  Before Pius II suppressed them,
they built the Pont Saint-Esprit over the Rhone, one of the largest
stone bridges in the world; a thousand meters long, it is, with
twenty-six great arches.  Surely their spirits guard it still!

She could understand the arrogant cry of the Roman architect when he
finished the great Alcantare over the Tagus.  "_Pontem perpetui
mansurum in saecula mundi_," Lacer smiled.  "It shall see the end of
the world."  The Saracen trampled and Charles V rebuilt it.
Wellington's troops blew it up, and the Carlists fought on its Titanic
arches.  All these causes are forgotten now.  But the bridge, the
bridge remains.

And because she understood these things, she understood Simon Lovat,
and got close to his heart, which none had ever been near.


V

Lovat told her his fear that never again would great stone bridges be
built.  The days of beauty in bridges were past, like the days of
chivalry.  Long steel suspension bridges, with their infinity of metal
triangles, or marvels of carpentry, such as the Portage Bridge over the
Genesee.  But never again would they build bridges such as the Romans
did, like the dreadful Pont du Gard at Nîmes.

"They will, Simon," she told him.  "You will build like that."

"Never, Cecily.  Never again!"

"Yes, Simon.  I know."

"All those days are gone, Cecily."

"Not for you."  The conviction would shine from her eyes.  "I know it
here--" she touched her head--"and here--" she touched her bosom.

And he was persuaded somehow that she was right, though his head told
him she could not be, for cement and steel are cheaper and quicker, and
only cheapness and rapidity obtain now that people no longer dream of
to-morrow.  And the soldier's honor and the sailor's courage, and the
writer's fire and the builder's genius--yes, and the dreams of great
merchants, too, Lovat grimaced--are curbed and roweled by the
huckster's purse.  Impossible!  But somehow because she believed it,
the thought took form and substance in his heart, that one day he would
build a great bridge--of stone.

How they came so close to each other, neither knew.  It was just as
natural as a tree growing out of the green ground.  They came so close
that they could be silent, each with the other, for a long time, each
knowing, feeling what the other thought.  Then they would smile at each
other with a strange seriousness....

One afternoon, in the December dusk, his heart opened suddenly, and
all, all the horror of his early years came rushing like a flood from a
broken dam.  Why he told her he didn't know.  He didn't believe it
possible to tell any one.  Yet here he was, standing by the window of
the drawing-room, looking out at the street glistening with fog, while
she sat huddled in a great arm-chair by the log fire.  And out of his
lips in harsh staccato sentences came the sordidness of his infant
days....

"... We were pleased when we found it.  And Joan took it under a shawl
and went out.  But we had forgotten that the pawnbroker closed at six.
So there was nothing to eat until he should open in the morning....  We
all cried...."

He was interrupted by her terrible fit of sobbing.  Suddenly he came
out of his tragic vision.

"I 'm sorry I should have horrified you," he said, aghast.  "I don't
know what came over me to tell such things.  I 'll go."

But she was in his arms, weeping bitterly.  "To think that you and I
should have been in the same city!  And I had everything, and you
nothing.  You hungry!  Cold!  Oh, Simon!  Simon!"  Though they were as
close as this, as close as birds in a nest are, yet there had never
been between them any talk of marriage, any talk of life other than
they were leading that week.  He knew he loved her tremendously, but
fear of refusal and Scots pride because he was poor kept the question
in his heart.  And she, because she was modest as she was brave, never
said anything, though she knew, she knew...

At last the miracle happened.  Two South American commonwealths, with
the hearts of children and the bravery of men, decided to span the
Andes with an immense bridge.  They saw only peaceful progress in front
of them, not war.  The bridge was to be of stone, because stone was
plentiful and labor cheap, and to bring steel up the mountain gorge
would be a wasteful undertaking.  First a German architect was to have
the work, for they had the foothold there, and then an Englishman
stepped in confidently.  But old Gamaliel Stanford had his friends in
New York, heads of great fruit companies and immense
agricultural-machinery syndicates, and banks powerful as nations.  So
Simon Lovat was chosen.

When he and Cecily were told, he was dumb.  She said nothing, but her
shining eyes spoke, and she sat and watched the proud throw of his head
as he thought of arches as powerful as the Romans', of great spans one
hundred and fifty feet in width, of voussoirs weighing each eighty tons
of stone.  Suddenly he knew her eyes were showering him with joy and
confidence, and he put out his hand fearfully.

"When this is done, Cecily--" he was red as a school-boy--"would
you--could you--will you marry me?"

"Whom else could I marry, dearest one?" she answered simply.


VI

Now they were married and moved into their house, a cool bungalow on
the green hills.  Love and passion abode with them, silent and strong
and clean as the winds on the great bridge below.  Above them of nights
was the immense mosaic of the stars--the stars of the North, and the
stars Northerners knew not; the Southern Cross, the false cross and the
True, and an infinity of little worlds to southward yet unnamed, and
which mariners had marked with quaint Greek letters in their charts.
When the moon arose it was tremendously near, as near as Africa, so
they could distinguish the immense blue mountains and the dips and
whorls of her to whom poets had given fanciful, colorful names: the Bay
of Rainbows, the Green Lagoon.  And all about them at night were
movement and mystery,--the screeching of parakeets, the chattering and
whistling of monkeys,--and in the dark green jungle there was rustling,
as of pied serpents, and crackling, as of jaguars with limbs of flame.

And then the dawn would come, and the earth, a mysterious womanhood by
night, would enter with the sun as a gracious lady.  Clothed in
glistening green, and jeweled with humming-birds and the sheen of
parrots, she was like some barbaric princess of ancient days, such as
Balkis, Queen of Sheba, must have been when she went forth from Arabia
Felix to view the magnificence of Solomon the king.

There was mystery at night and there was majesty in the daytime, and
that all of nature, and then a little path of the mountainside, a
little turn, a pace a big man could make, and there arose suddenly
concentration and genius, the bridge.  One felt stunned at seeing it; a
man might catch his breath and swear, a woman might cry, so great was
its drama.  Arch by white arch it spanned the tropic gulf, and above
it, straight as an arrow, ran the line of roadway.  Superb and splendid
and slender, it joined the green-clad mountains, as the web of a master
spider joins two branches of a tree.  Very high it was, "so high that
it was dreadful," the words of Ezekiel came to one's mind, and beneath
it now swirled, now weltered the tropic river, on its way to join the
Amazon, greatest of waters.

And yet somehow the bridge loitered, refused to be finished, brooded,
sulked.  So much did it fight against him that had it not been for his
wife Cecily, time and time again Lovat would have lost heart.

But she was there with him, and in some hidden mystical way she had to
do with the bridge.  One look at her, one touch of her, and he regained
courage and patience.  Silently and strong she moved by his side, by
day in her man's breeches and gaiters and sport coat, by night in her
dark-blue garment with its rolling collar of white, somehow like a
monk's but of line and beauty.  Very like a flower she was, a Northern
flower, straight and slender and supple and velvety, and strong.  Yes,
she had to do with the bridge, for he had only to look into her serious
smiling eyes, and to him, through her, out of somewhere, flowed
strength and wisdom.

Yes, she had to do with the bridge, he knew.  Her being here was not
fortuitous.  That she was a young bride on her honeymoon in an
enchanted land, was not, as it is to most women, the only thing in the
world.  They were two lovers, but they were oblivious of all things,
sympathized with by all things.  The bridge was there.  And between him
and her and the bridge there existed some strange link of destiny.
There were three of them.  Two of them were happy, but the bridge was
sullen.  Two of them were uncertain, but the bridge was sure.


VII

Out of dumb rock and lifeless iron the bridge arose.  First these were
only amorphous objects, and then through the fire of genius was evoked
an entity.  The bridge had a personality strong as a man's, as houses
have personalities, and some trees.  It rose there strong and slim and
beautiful and of use to men, but terrible as an army with banners.  And
though Simon Lovat and his wife Cecily said nothing to each other about
it, yet there arose in both their minds that the bridge demanded and
needed something.  And ancient lore of bridges came to them in
lightning flashes of memory--old stories of terror that told of human
sacrifice before a bridge would stand.  What ancient mysticism made the
priests of the Pons Sublicius of olden Rome throw dummies of human
beings into the Tiber on festal days?  What horror of old made British
Vortigern build his castle over the dead body of a murdered boy?  Even
in China of to-day, a pig was thrown into the river in times of flood,
that the bridge should hold.  And gnarled old masons told tales....

Old wives' tales!  Ancient vile superstition!  And yet, what wisdom had
departed from the world since ancient days!  Not spiritual wisdom alone
but material wisdom.  How were the great blocks of the pyramids raised?
We were n't certain of that!  The mighty things of Easter Island, yes,
and the great stone legacies of the Incas!  We did n't know.  And the
progress of the world was not spiritual.  It was material.  And we were
n't even certain of material things.

Why did they do it, Lovat pondered!  Was it a sacrifice to the bridge
itself?  A tribute to the idol they had made with their own hands?
Hardly!  For that would be the idea of barbarians, and barbarians never
built great bridges.  Was it a sacrifice to the cruelty of the great
elements that might endanger the bridge?  Possibly.  And yet storm was
so powerful and so cruel when it felt that way that nothing would
hinder it.  What was it?  He did n't know.

And yet the bridge demanded, needed something.

Cecily felt it,, too, he knew, for she spoke one evening in the
lamplight, with averted eyes.

"Dearest one, it sounds a silly question, but why are you building the
bridge?"

"Because it's my work, Cecily, to build bridges."  He felt what she
meant.

"Dearest one, if the bridge were to fall, you would be heartbroken,
would n't you?"

"I 'm afraid I should, Cecily."

"Why, dearest one?  Is it because you are proud of your bridge?  That
you want generations to remember you by your bridge?"

"No, Cecily," he thought seriously, "it is n't that.  I--I 'm just a
helper of the Master Mason, and if the bridge were to fall, I should
feel I was a poor, an unworthy helper.  That's how I feel, Cecily.
That's why I should be heart-broken."

She put down the sewing work she was doing, and came to him, her eyes
misty.  She took his hands.  She knelt by his side.

"I know, my lover," she whispered, a little huskily, "but your bridge
will never fall.  Believe it, dearest one.  Believe it night and day."

But the bridge bothered him.  And all her wise courage could not still
its silent clamor.  He could watch the ant-like battalions of men as
they laid stone on stone, chanting in the guttural Chibcha as the
bridge-builders of Persia chanted when they built the Perl-i-Khaju at
Ispahan.  But above their voices came the silent voice of the bridge,
loud as thunder.  Until he could stand it no longer.

"What is it you want?  In God's name what do you want?"

"You know."

"I don't know."

"Ta-wak knew when he builded the great wall of China."

"I don't know."

"King Cheops knew when he builded his great pyramid at Ghizeh."

"But I don't know."

"The Romans knew when they raised the bridges of Gaul.  You know,
building me."

"I don't know.  I won't know."  Lovat broke from the place, his
forehead damp with perspiration.  And as he went toward his cottage, it
seemed to him that the jungle and the mountains and all the creatures
of the wilds were watching with their inhuman apathetic eyes the
Titanic struggle between himself and the thing he had conceived into
being, out of lifeless iron and dumb stone.


VIII

For two days in the South American city Lovat now raged like a madman,
now was limp and gray as if all life had left.  The storm crashed like
artillery.  The wind swirled in terrific outshoots of uncontrolled
power.  Rain whorled like a water-burst.  And all the time there ran
through Lovat's head the unending, pounding rhythm: "The bridge!  The
bridge is down!  Is down!  The bridge!  The bridge is down!"  Statesmen
and ministers looked at him in pity, forgetting the country's loss in
the great grief of the artist.

Cecily he was n't worried about.  He knew she was all right.  There was
an army to take care of her there, and their home was solid, would last
against the deluge.

Three days ago and no warning of this cataclysm.

And now, to-day!  To-day was like the Day of Judgment.  To be sure, a
half-crazy astronomer had predicted the end of the world, and sane
scientists had pooh-poohed it, saying that there might be bad weather
from the stellar conjunctions, but outside of that--nothing.  And then,
suddenly, this immensity of flood.  Down in the lowlands, on the shore
of the Caribbees, there had been havoc past imagining.  Whole towns
were swept away.  There had been no chance of getting in touch with the
bridge.  All telegraph wires were down.

Now it was Wednesday, and on Sunday he had left to discuss some details
of the opening with the ministry and he had asked Cecily to come with
him, but she would not go.

"Lover, no," she had said; "I would rather stay here by the bridge."

"But, Cecily, you have n't been away from here in two months.  Would
n't you like to come to the city?  There 'll be clothes to buy and
people to see, and an opera from Madrid.  Come, Cecily."

"Dearest one, no!" she had refused.  She smiled.  "One of us must stay
by the bridge."

"But, Cecily--"

"No!  No!"

She loved the bridge as much as he.

On the little platform of the working railroad station he had said
good-by to her.  The train started and she ran alongside.

"Stop the train!" she cried.

He pulled the emergency cord.

"What is it, Cecily?  Changing your mind?"

"Dearest one, I just want to kiss you again before you go.  Just once
more.  I 'm a silly woman."

"Come with me, Cecily.  Come as you are.  We can get you clothes in
town."

"No, lover.  I must stay and take care of your bridge.  I don't mind
who 's looking, lover.  Just--kiss me again."

Had she some premonition of the disaster?  Did that spiritual wisdom
which we call intuition, tell her of ruin that was hovering like a
hawk?  Poor Cecily!  How heartbroken she'd be.  Her eyes, her poor
eyes, would be burnt with crying.  Poor Cecily!  Perhaps he could make
her believe it did n't matter.  Nothing mattered so long as he had her.
Ah, but it did!  He would never build another bridge.  He might do
mighty structures of iron and cement, immense feats of engineering, but
never a great stone bridge again.  Never again!...  Poor Cecily!


IX

He had steeled himself to see it all, and on Saturday when the storm
had subsided, and the little train started up the mountainside, his
face was a gray mask, and the nearer the top he came, the more
impassive, the grayer was his face.  A little turn of a boulder and he
knew he 'd see the ruin.  A few piles and the welter of the swollen
river attacking them.  His eyes were open, but he saw nothing.  The
official beside him suddenly screamed.

"My God!  Excellency!  The bridge!"

"Yes, I know.  The bridge is down."

"The bridge is there.  Excellency, the bridge is there!"

All Lovat could do was to laugh, a vacant laugh.  Yes, it was there.
But it was so impossible.  The sun suddenly flashed behind it, and he
saw the arrogant white structure soar like a bird, joining green hill
to green hill.  Beneath it rolled an unknown river, not the tumbling,
snarling river of a week before, but a brown concave current, become
gigantic, flying northward to the greatest of waters and carrying on
its thewed back death and desolation.  There was something that looked
like a man and then an ox.  And here was the wreckage of a homestead.
And there was a jaguar and here was a great serpent of the jungle, and
now a horse and here a gigantic tree.  But the bridge spurned the
river, floated on it like a swan.  Lovat jumped off on the platform.

"It holds!  It stays!" he cried exultantly.  He rushed toward the
house.  "Cecily, it holds!"

But he felt, as he flung open the door, that the house was empty.

"Cecily!  Where are you, Cecily?"

There was no one there but a weeping, terrified maid.

"Where is Madame?  Where is your señora?"

But she only wept and wrung her hands.  Lovat, half crazy, yanked her
to her feet, and shook her.

"Where is Madame?

"Cecily!  Cecily!"

He ran outside.  It suddenly occurred to him that all his men had made
way for him from the station, with silent pitying eyes.  Why, they
should have been cheering, too, but for something--

"Cecily!  Cecily!"  He ran around the little house.

One of the big Inca foreman detached himself from a standing group, and
stood in front of the frenzied man.

"Excellency," he said, "there's no good calling Madame.  Madame has
left us."

"Left us?  What do you mean?"

"Excellency--" the big Indian threw his hands toward the river--"the
bridge is there, but Madame has left us.  Don't you understand?"

With numbing force the blow descended on Lovat.

"The bridge took her, you mean."

"No, señor.  She left us."

Lovat suddenly straightened up.

"Mason, what do you mean?"

"Señor, when the wind came and the flood, the men quit.  The wind
shrieked through the arches.  The river rose and attacked the piers.
And the bridge groaned, and we left.  It was the will of God, we
thought.  He did n't want this chasm joined.

"And I came up toward your house, señor, to see if everything was right
there.  I met Madame on the path.  She had her big black cloak on.

"'You had better go back, señora,' I said.

"'I am going to the bridge,' she said.

"'But it is growing black as night, señora; you had better go back.'

"'Stand aside, Vicente,' was all she said.  And there was something in
her eyes that made me give way.  She went on.

"Excellency, I loved Madame, as did every one here.  And she liked me.
And I was your man.  I followed her down the path.  I caught up to her
at the bridge.  It was blue dark, like twilight.  The bridge was
quivering.  I caught the edge of her cape.

"'What are you going to do, señora?'

"'Stand aside, Vicente.'

"'You are crazy, señora!' I cried out.

"'No, Vicente, I am wise.'

"'You must n't, señora!'

"'I must, Vicente.'

"'Let me, señora,' I pleaded.

"'Vicente,' she said, 'you 've done your work on the bridge.  Now I
must do mine.'

"I could n't stop her, Excellency.  Something in the face, in the
eyes--I don't know--I dropped on my knees.  She moved over the bridge.

"Excellency, from the time she was on it the bridge stopped quivering,
the wind hushed.  I saw her drop her cloak as she stood in the center.
I saw her step forward, sure, unafraid.  And for an instant I saw her,
like a blossom in the wind....

"And so, Excellency, the bridge stands, will always stand...."


X

So there it was, all finished, all done, and for the last time Lovat
looked at it, saw the green mountains, the tumbling river, the white
span of the bridge.  But the bridge and he were finished now.  His work
was done.

The little Latin-American official touched his elbow deferentially.

"Excellency, the train!"

"Yes, the train," Lovat repeated mechanically.  His companion looked at
him with grave sympathy.  Only three months ago Lovat was a young and
happy bridegroom.  To-day the builder was a grave gray-haired man.

Yes, the bridge was done, Lovat knew.  A little while ago it was just
the product of his hand and genius and will, a thing of himself.  But
now it was a fulfilled entity, with its own duties, its own uses, its
own destiny.  Over it went trains joining country to country and sea to
sea.  Over it went the loping Latin people.  Over it went the little
patient burros, pannier-laden.  In confidence all went over it.

"It will stand."  Lovat knew.  "It will always stand."

But there was no high note of proud achievement in his thought.  It
would not stand because of skill in building or strength in masonry.
But because there guarded it one whose pleading sacrificial fingers
would unclench the angry hand of God.  Flood and thunder and immense
winds would spare it because of that guardian like a white flame, to
whose unselfishness selfish nature must do reverence.

The official ventured to recall him:

"Excellency!"

"Just one more moment!"

He had a vision of her for the moment, and his throat quivered and his
eyes were uncertain.  He saw her in her white, billowing gown, with her
dark head and face like a flower.  Two brown shy little children were
standing fearful of the bridge, and she knelt to them.  "Come,
darlings," he could hear the deep remembered voice.  She led them
confidently across his bridge, and as she led them she smiled to him.

Well, he must go.  There was other work to be done, other bridges to
build, until the time the Master of the Masons told him to rest.  He
must be about his work.

"All our life is work," he said to himself as he boarded the train.
"All our love is comradeship."

Well, there was work to be done, and there was comradeship.  She would
always be with him now, being dead....



IN PRAISE OF LADY MARGERY KYTELER

I

All those things I dreamed about, and I thousands of miles away, are
there still: the house, half farm-house and half castle, at one end an
ancient military tower, at the other a thatched cottage; all the
trees--the ash, the elms, the chestnut with the dark-green foliage and
the prickly bulb containing the polished mahogany fruit, the
rowan-trees with the gallant red berries, bitter as death, the copper
beech with the foliage of lace and the fuzzy brown nuts, the apple- and
pear-trees, and the trees of cherries that the birds do be ever after.

The lawns that were once shaven so closely are now rectangles of high
sweet grass where the bees are seeking.  And the tennis-courts, where
once was the laughter of young girls--those, too, are knee-high in
grass, swaying in the soft Irish wind.  And here and there is a gallant
yew-tree, blackly green.  Roses still cling to the wall, and around all
the walls are riots of flowers.

The low greenhouses are still there, under whose glass roofs grew great
purple grapes, and where row on row of exotic flowers grew and delicate
ferns whose names are unknown to me, so much closer are men and horses
to me than flowers and ferns.  Ivy is on the walls, soft-looking as
velvet, and the winds and rains have been kind to the lodge and the
stables.  The walls are still white and a little moss is on the slates
of them, and a soft and gentle grass is between the cobbled stones.

And the deep well is there.  And everywhere are birds and bees.  The
bees are wild now, who once lived in skips of yellow straw, and their
nests are in the long grass, and there, too, is the meadowlark, and
under the eaves the swallows flit.  And here the robin is safe with his
impudent eye, and the blackbird of the yellow bill.  And everywhere the
throaty murmur of the wood-pigeons, the thrum of their wings.

Eh!  There it is all still, at the foot of the soft and purple
mountains--the Sugarloaves, the Big Sugarloaf and the Little, and the
hill called Kitty Gallagher's, and the Scalp with its slender tower and
the sweet shoulder of Three Rock Mountain.  And below--one could pitch
a stone nearly--is Dublin, the abiding city.  There the Liffey,
rippling gently to the sea.  And one can almost see St. Patrick's,
where great Swift was Dean, and Trinity, where poor Goldsmith and
fearless Burke were students.  The broad streets, the princely squares.
And there Robert Emmet was hanged for treason against our Sovereign
Lord the King, His Crown and Majesty, and Lord Edward, the rebel
Geraldine, was stabbed.  And there is Clontarf, where Brian the High
King fought the red Danes, fought and died, but fought and conquered.
And there Howth, where Iseult, the Dublin princess, sailed to marry
Mark in rugged Cornwall, sailed with Tristram....

Eh!  There from Mount Kyteler one can see it all--the soft dreaming
mountains, the sad weeping city.  And here where was once the laughter
of young women, the barking of dogs, the neighing of horses, the
shouting of lads--here is silence, but for the husky note of the
wood-pigeon, the little thunder of his wings, and the droning of the
seeking bees.  All, all are dead, but here is no desolation.  There is
the sweet gentleness of remembered twilights, and the copper beech
rustles, and the rowan nods, and the apple-trees murmur with their
antique boughs: "Is it yourself is in it, Ronnie?  Is it yourself, long
lad?  And it is long you've stayed away from us in foreign lands and
bitter seas.  And it's Lady Margery you 're looking for?  And Paddy the
Pipes?  You mind him, do you so?  And Jacky Sullivan--ah, the great
lad!  Sure, they 've just left this minute, laughing fellow.  Gone to
see the old earl, they have.  Sure, you'll be following them, and
seeing them all soon.  Over the mountains they went, a wee ways.  You
'll see them all soon, very soon, a wheen of years...."

Not for long will be this sweet silence, this soft, dim loneliness.
Soon will be business of courts, justices sitting in wig and gown.  And
Mount Kyteler will die, and its name be forgotten.  Sad history will
pass and affairs proceed in their inexorable ordinance.  And where once
great Norman fighters charged in mail, and Elizabethan nobles ruffled,
and the old red-faced earl swore when the gout was on him, and of late
Lady Margery moved over lawns and walks with her sweet, sad-faced
dignity, will be three or four little farms, their smoke blue against
the purple of Three Rock Mountain.  And the lawns will turn to fields
of blue corn, and fat cattle will graze where once was a maze of
flowers.

And all the crops will prosper there.  And the children that are born
of the farmer folk will be happy as the birds in the trees.  There will
be no blight on the milk the cows give, and there will be great luck on
the stock of the kindly land.  Always will there be prodigal bees and
the dancing of swallows.

There are houses and lands that are kindly, and places that are
sinister, fields that are surly, meadows that are sweetly generous.
Old things, if we watch them, have a very human quality, and that is
because they have been intimately connected with people who have these
qualities themselves.  One influences one's surroundings so much.
Whirling sparks of personality fall from us and charge what we have
usually by us.  On all the estate came such a current of sweetness that
even the thieving wood-pigeons grew generous, leaving the young trees
alone.

Will she ever come back here when Mount Kyteler is gone, and the little
whitewashed farmhouses are an outpost against the heather of Three Rock
Mountain?  I think she will.  She will have so much beauty to know, now
she is dead, that she will not begrudge the loss of the flower gardens
and the courts where tennis was played.  Apple-trees and flowers will
be hers wherever she is, and perhaps the same ones--who can say no?
Yet I can see her come to visit the whitewashed houses in the hushed
summer twilight, when the daisies have tucked in their modest heads and
only the great foam of the hawthorn billows over the country-side.  On
some warm little breeze from Three Rock Mountain she will come.  And
horses in their stalls will know her, and the kine will turn their
heads to her, lowing gently, and the dogs will bark joyously, and some
little child on the floor will stand up suddenly and run forward, its
arms outstretched, bubbles of laughter beating from the tiny lips....


II

Now when the last Lord Kyteler died, there was very little fuss made.
Another poverty-stricken Irish peer gone.  He had n't been rich enough
to own an estate large enough for tenants to squabble on.  A few farms
here and there through the country, Mount Kyteler itself, not worth a
tremendous amount.  He was the last lord of one of these very, very old
families who had been lost in the back-wash of Irish history.  Once
Kytelers had fought in the Holy Land under Richard the Lion-Hearted and
had fought later under Irish viceroys against the O'Bernes and O'Tooles
and O'Moores of the Wicklow hills; and antiquarians remembered that
Dame Alice Kyteler was the most sinister witch of all Ireland, and was
burned at the stake in Kilkenny many centuries before.  But it was a
matter of politics more than demonology, though undoubtedly Dame Alice
was second only to Gilles de Rais, murderer and Marshal of France, in
worship of evil idols and in sinister sacrifice....

It was one of these old names that should have died out, when the
medieval chivalry of Europe died, Knights Templar and sporting Norman
bishops and morbid medieval ladies.  But it existed, as many things
exist in Ireland and are forgotten in Europe and never known in
America,--strange Christian customs, strange pagan beliefs,--and "It"
the most horrible of all horrible ghosts.

They were a poor family, as poor is understood in Ireland.  That is,
they had money enough for all necessities and many luxuries.  They had
money enough for food, for clothes, for a few good horses for
conveyance and hunting, and they could go to the viceregal court at
Dublin Castle and be decent figures there.  But they could not keep
racehorses, which is really a great hardship if you are Irish, and they
could not afford to live in London as an Irish nobleman should live,
which should be as a very great nobleman indeed.  They were as well off
as a rich farmer, and they had a title, and they were not intolerably
proud.

If you were to meet a very red-faced man in tweeds and with a heavy
stick, at the Curragh races, betting modest sovereigns, and were told
that he was the Earl of Mount Kyteler, you would feel that there was
something wrong.  He had not that terrible courtesy of the earls and
better sort of dukes which makes you feel like a clodhopper, no matter
from which particular Irish king you claim direct descent.  He was too
human, too decent an old skate; you chuckled when you thought of a
coronet cocked rakishly over that red, weather-beaten face.

Oh, but Lady Margery! that was different!

Her appearance I could describe to you: the close-bound black hair, the
face like some rain-washed flower, the dark luminous eyes and laughing
lips, the balanced neck, the body that was half boy's and half young
woman's.  All that means nothing, but if I say that when she appeared
there was a chime like an old silver bell, such antique sweetness came
upon the air ... the feet that never seemed to touch the ground, her
long, white, quiet hands.  How that old-world title fitted her,
described her!  Not demure miss, not buxom mistress, but the Lady
Margery Kyteler.

How important it is for me to bring her back, to have her real for an
instant in the clear air!  But not as a necromancer under the
glittering stars, with circle and acolyte, fire, sword, and crown,
saying terrible words--Here be the symbols of secret things, the flags
and banners of God the Conqueror, the weapons to compel the aerial
potencies--and have that sweet face come white and fearful in the gray
dawn.  I would have her seen with her merry smile, her feet that moved
lightly, as to hidden music, her long quiet hands.  For all her boyish
strong body, there was such harmony and light, one knew that beyond the
body was something that would not die with the years--no more than the
sun dies when it drops into the sea, or the sweet, friendly moon.  To
see her was more than miracles; she convinced better than the fathers
of the church.

Very unconsciously she did all this.  And very embarrassed she would
have been and a little mad she would have thought one, had she been
told she was an argument for eternity.  Know her to be eternal, but see
her playing with a terrier, pulling its tail, its ears, and clipping it
deftly under the jaw as it snapped playfully.  Or stroking the sleek
neck of a horse, and talking to it as horses love to be talked to, or
kneeling to comfort some crying child of the people, and wooing it back
to happiness by being very happy herself....


III

Now by the ordinance of time and nature the old earl was quietly
gathered to his forbears--to Gilles de Kyteler, who came over to
Ireland with Strongbow; to Piers Kyteler, who could run against a horse
for five miles; to Dame Alice Kyteler, whose name is still used to
frighten little children; to Fulke, or the bastard Kyteler, who joined
with Silken Thomas in rebellion; Hugh, who lost the family money in the
South Sea Bubble; to another Pierce, who backed Boxer Donelly, the
Irishman, against the English champion, Cooper, for a thousand
pounds--and won!--to Hugh, who grew rare tulips, and to Patrick, of
whom it was said he was the stupidest man in Ireland.  Some one has
written a book about the family; possibly it's worth reading, probably
not.

And now of the family of the Earls of Mount Kyteler there was only one
left, the Lady Margery Kyteler, and she was alone in the world.

Except for the ordinary natural grief for the old earl, whom she loved
and liked, she did n't mind being alone.  Mount Kyteler had now only
seven servants, an ancient cook and two equally ancient maids, a
gardener so ancient as to need an assistant, who was himself so verging
on the ancient that it was a puzzle as to what assistance he could
give.  There were a couple of lads in the stable, lads of fifty, a
groom, and a coachman, the coachman assuming the livery of butler on
great occasions, such as in Horse Show Week.  Ancient grumbling people
they all were, who were united only in this, that they loved her.
Among themselves there were always ancient grudges, present fights.
And instead of her ruling them, they ruled her with a terrible tyranny.

The old cook below-stairs was forever complaining of the great work to
be done, and refusing to have any help given her.

"Is it bringing in another you 'd be and me here child and woman for
fifty years?  Twelve years old I was when they brought me into the
pantry and set me to cleaning knives, and now it's on top of me you 'd
be bringing some streel you 'd be getting out of a register's office, a
woman does be following the tinkers to the Country Wicklow, mad with
love.  Och, to think of the insult put on me this day!  _Wirra, is
thrue_!"

"Sure, it 's only to help you, Peggy."

"And what help would I be needing, me that's the fine, supple woman, in
the prime o' my years!  Ne'er a day over sixty I am, and thirty hard
years' work in me still."

"But you were complaining, Peggy."

"Sure, 't was only to keep my mind active I was."

The old gardener could be terrible, with his face like an apple and his
bent back.  He watched her as he might watch a thieving boy.

"Now, if it's a thing you 'd be wanting chrysanthemums, my lady, would
n't it be the right and proper thing for you to be coming to me, that's
the head gardener of this garden, and if it's a thing there 's
chrysanthemums in it, you 'll get them, and if it's a thing there 's no
chrysanthemums in it, you won't."

"I thought I 'd save you trouble, Darby."

"And what trouble would you be saving me, my Lady, by destroying the
symmetry of the design?  All the work that 's on me, and ne'er a hand's
turn do I get from the young fellow that's the assistant.  Devil the
hand's turn he 's done in all the forty-three years he 's been here,
barring playing the bagpipes in the greenhouse and talking about the
good ould times.  I mind the time your grandfather was in it, my
Lady--a real gentleman him.  He would n't put a hand on an apple, or a
gooseberry itself, without asking the head gardener's permission."

Also were the two ancient maids problems in their way.  They were
forever sniffing at each other, and complaining of each other to
Margery.

"If your Ladyship would be so kind as to give Rose Ann a tip about her
conduct, 't would be a mercy so.  For the queer way she does be acting
with the postman is no credit to this house at all.  New ribbons in her
cap, indeed, looking for love, when she ought to be making her peace
with God and man."

But Rose Ann had the same story.

"If your Ladyship pleases, a wee word to Ellen would not be out of the
way.  'T is the postman, your Ladyship, has been complaining bitterly.
'Ma'am,' says he to me, 'would you be telling a secret?'  'If so be as
I know it,' says I, 'I will.'  'Is that one,' says he, 'right in her
head?'  'Is it Ellen you mean?' says I.  ''T is that same,' says he.
''T is that has been puzzling myself, but why do you ask?' say I.  ''T
is the dirty look she has in her eye,' says he, 'and the queer
conversation is at her.  "'T is the world's wonder you never married,"
she does be telling me, "and you the fine lad you are."'  Your Ladyship
should speak to her.  You should so."

"I will, Rose Ann."

But worst of all were the quarrels between the coachman and the groom.
The coachman was a fine, florid man, and the groom was a wizened little
troll who had once been a jockey.  The coachman was always in decent
black, the groom in corduroys.  They were forever arguing on
everything, from politics to horses.  Once Lady Margery had come into
the yard to see the groom stepping around like a bantam boxer, his
hands up, his feet tapping the ground like a dancer's.

"Put up your hands!" he was shouting.  "Put up your hands!"

"Go 'way t' the divil out o' that!"

"Come on if you 're fit!  Come on if you 're man enough!  I 'll give
you a beating you 've been spoiling for for the last thirty years."

"Go 'way t' the divil out o' that!"

"I will not go 'way out o' that.  It's fight I want.  I 'm boiling mad
for one clout at your ugly gob."

"Will you whisht!"  The coachman had seen Lady Margery.

"I will not whisht.  Put up your hands!  I 'll not stop till I 'm dug
out of ye!"

"Kelleher, Brady, what's this?"

The groom dropped his fighting attitude and pulled off his cap.

"'T is just a foolish wee argument we were having, m'lady.  I was
telling this bloody old cod--begging your pardon, m'lady, for giving
him his right name--that Lynchehaun the murderer was by rights a cousin
to my mother's people, and he said that it was n't in either side of my
family to produce a fine murdering man like the same Lynchehaun.  So I
up and gives him a tip about himself and his drunken old mother...."

"Kelleher!"

"Not that I know anything about her, m'lady, but I just thought that if
he had any pride, it would cut him to the quick!"


IV

Nobody in the world but herself, she thought often, could have kept
them.  But if she sent them away, where would they go?  The old
gardener--could he last away from the soil he had tended with the care
of parents?

And the maids would be lost in a modern world.  And for all that the
two men in the stable fought, they loved each other in a strange way.
She couldn't pension them off; and, also, they got their work done in a
surprisingly efficient manner.

And, besides, she could not see new servants in the old house.  The
maids were as much part of the place as the portraits of dead Kytelers
on the walls.  They had blended into a mellow composition.  They all
loved her in their queer selfish way, depended on her for vitality.
She could hardly go on visits any more, so much did they grumble.
"Sure, it is n't to England you 'd be going, my lady, and the grand
house you have of your own!"  And not only the servants but the old
drowsing dog, Sheila, the little Scottie bitch, who was drawing on
fourteen years old and nearly blind, and the foxhound puppies, who
waited for her when she was n't there, and ancient Fenian, the old
steeplechaser, who was near ending his days.  All these laid imploring
hands on her.

Her mother she had not known, the countess dying when Margery was not
yet two; and the earl had never married again.  But the house had been
a mother to her.  The deep drawing-room, the heavy formal dining-room,
the little sitting-room so bright.  There was no place in the world so
comfortable as the drawing-room of Mount Kyteler in the winter
evenings, with the portraits blinking in the light of candles in their
silver sticks and the glimmer of the sea-coal in the grate.  And her
own room at night, on moonlight nights, whence she could see Dublin Bay
shine silver and the dark trees bending in the breeze from Three Rock
Mountain.

Every tree she knew; every tree had for her a personality.  The copper
beech was friendly and kindly, the rowan-trees aloof but kindly, the
oaks majestic but clumsily kindly; the apple-trees were smiling.  All
the flowers she knew, all the shrubs.  They had seen her stumble as a
child of two, they had seen her rollick as a child of seven, they had
seen her dream at ten, and grow ugly at twelve, and grow pretty in her
late teens, and at twenty beautiful, and now beautiful and assured.

In no other country than Ireland, in no other city than Dublin could
such beauty and grace exist alone in an old house.  They would have
fêted her, made merry with her, married her.  A young beauty in an
ancient house with grizzled servants.  But in Ireland a great beauty
has so many competitors for the songs of the poets, the passion of the
young men.  There is the biting excitement of treason, politics charged
with lightning.  There are the far places of the world calling to Irish
adventurers.  There are careers calling for vitality and ambition.  And
what young woman dare presume to bother poets when there are great
purple mountains to enthrall them, and wooded glens and the crashing
sea?  And winds like wine.  The crooning of great romantic ghosts.  And
an Irish poet is not a pale man to be comforted by women, but a lithe,
muscular man with a sword.

Also, in Ireland is little marriage or giving in marriage, if we except
the peasantry and the very poor.  The young men spread their wings to
go abroad, and when they return it is usually with a foreign bride, so
that there are convents innumerable in that country, also many mad
women at large, as in politics.  Unless a girl is very rich she has
little chance of a happy marriage.  A title may help her, curates and
captains in the army having a belief that the daughters of earls will
help them to preferment; also, it sounds well, they think--the Reverend
Septimus and Lady Jones, Captain and Lady Plantagenet Murphy.  There
are sadder things in Ireland than the weeping skies.

But though the right of marriage may be often denied them, young Irish
girls have always their inalienable right of dreams.  Soft winds and
nodding flowers and sun going down on the western hills, and with the
twilight comes always a love.  Out of the blue twilight and soft wind
they weave a magical life of love that will be always young, of a world
that will be ever kind, of little dark children and loyal friends, of
the pageantry of foreign cities, of triumphs for their own beauty and
the lover's ability.  The skies are always blue in their dreams, and
tragedies there are none, nor any sordidness.  And they grow old so
peacefully in their dreams, so gracefully, and death comes so gently,
so kindly--the lover always by, always young, always loving....  Out of
the blue twilight and soft wind they dream their dreams, and they never
notice that the blue of the twilight has become a threatening black,
and the soft wind has withdrawn in itself with the set sun, as a flower
does, and all of a sudden it has grown cold, damp, and lonely and cold.

The dream of Margery was around Mount Kyteler.  It seemed to her that
the house, and the garden and the trees, and the old servants, and the
drowsing dogs, and the ancient steeplechaser out to grass were all part
of the French nursery, "_La Belle au Bois Dormant_," "The Beauty in the
Sleeping Wood."  And one day the princely lover would come, breaking
through the hedge of Irish stillness, and Mount Kyteler would bloom
again.  The backs of the gardeners would straighten and the maids
become young again.  And by some strange magical process the
steeplechaser would again win races, and the old dog win ribbons, and
children would stumble under the tall trees, as she had stumbled twenty
years before.  All this would happen with the coming of the prince, all
this she could see, but his features she could not plainly see.  Only
she knew this, that his face would be shining with love and smiles.


V

So that when she met him she did not recognize him at first, nor for
many days afterward.  On his face were puzzlement and a frown.  A
clean-cut, red-headed man, he was standing in the road on a frosty
November morning, when she was out walking a brace of foxhound puppies.
The puppies seemed delighted at the sight of him, all but tearing the
leash from her hand.

"Could you tell me," he asked, "where Tallaght is?"  He pulled the ears
of the foxhound puppies.

"You 're in Tallaght," she said.

He looked incredulously at the scattered houses.

"Is this--"

"Yes.  Is there any place in particular you 're looking for?"

"No," he said, "just Tallaght."

"Well, you have Tallaght."  She laughed a little at his rueful
expression.  "You seem surprised."

"I am," he laughed.  "For many years, when I was a child, I have been
hearing about Tallaght, until it had assumed tremendous proportions for
me, and now--"

"Abroad?"

"Yes."

"Australia?"

"No.  America."

"What are you looking for?  The old homestead?"

"No," he said; "I don't think there ever was an old homestead.  There
might have been a little cabin somewhere, but it was n't here."  He
laughed.  "I 'll tell you.  My father was an old Fenian, and he was at
Tallaght when they gathered to descend on Dublin, but for some reason
or other the battle was not fought, nor the enemy driven into the sea,
nor anything.  And my father, with a lot of others, fled to America.
But I had an impression of a mountain pass and camp fires and great
guns."

"It rained all night, did n't it?  Did your father say?"

"No, he never mentioned the rain."

She liked this man, she told herself directly.  The big, clean look of
him, his gray eyes and red hair, his splendid teeth.  Also there was
something about him so easy.  He was Irish; no mistaking that.  But
pleasant, fine Irish.  It was not always you met them pleasant and
sincere.  And this man was sincere.  This man was not inimical.  They
would make a nice pair, she thought simply, he big and clear-eyed and
red, herself slim and dark.

"Could I bother you again?" he asked.  "How do I get to the railway
station?"

"I 'm going that way, if you care to come."

There was a nice chivalry about him; she felt that as they walked
together.  Was that American? she wondered.

"May I ask you something?  Are most Americans like you?"

"Yes," he said, "of course."

She was puzzled.  She had an impression that all Americans were called
"Silas" and twanged, "I guess."  Also, they chewed gum.  There was
something wrong.

"You are n't called Silas, are you?"

"No; Richard.  Did you think all Americans were called Silas?"

"Something like that," she admitted.  And they looked at each other and
laughed.  She had a joyous feeling that the maids at home would
disapprove of this strongly.  And that the old gardeners would tremble
with rage.  But the dogs approved.

"What sort of time are you having in Ireland?"

"Not so good," he admitted.  "I 've been here a week, and the only
friends I 've made are cab-drivers.  Also, I have a bowing acquaintance
with a head waiter."

"Cab-drivers are good fun," she ruminated.

They were at the station now.

"Look here," she said suddenly as she was leaving: "if you are having a
rotten time like that in Dublin, and know nobody, it must be lonely!  I
wonder--"  She looked at him fearlessly.  "Look here: if you 'd care
to, come out and see me at Mount Kyteler--my name 's Kyteler.  There
are dogs and horses and an old house you might like to see."

"May I?  Thanks.  My name's O'Conor.  I 'll come, then, Miss Kyteler."

"Lady Margery Kyteler."

"Do I call you all that?  Lady Margery Kyteler?"

"No.  Just Lady Margery."

"Lady Margery!  That's nice."

When he came, he came with a great armful of flowers, which Margery
received with a smile and courtesy, and turned over to Rose Ann.  He
seemed scrubbed, so glistening was he.  How like an old friend he was,
with his firm handshake and  laughing eyes.

"Now," he said, "I 'd like the worst over."

"What is the worst?"

"Oh, meeting people.  Your relatives.  The Lady This and the Lady That,
and the countess, and the duke.  Above all, the duke."

"There are none," she said.  "I live here by myself."

"All by yourself, in this big house?"

"Yes."

"Might I ask, are you married?"

"No-o-o," she pondered.  "Um, no."

He looked at her incredulously.  He had never in his life seen any one
so beautiful, he thought.  The small face, the soft and sweet and
smiling dark eyes, the hair like a perfumed dark cap on a head whose
sweet shape he could imagine.  And the supple figure in the frock that
was close in the bosom and belled like a dancer's from the waist down.

"Well, that beats--" he murmured.

"Beats hell, doesn't it?"  She finished for him.

"These old pictures, some of them are good."  She smiled.  "That's
Gilles de Kyteler--not the one who came with Strongbow but a later one.
And that's Fulke Kyteler, who rebelled with Silken Thomas, and tried to
burn the Archbishop of Cashel in his own cathedral.  They were very
disappointed when they found the archbishop had slipped out.  And
that--" she pointed to a polished oval of black stone, framed in
antique silver--"is Dame Alice Kyteler's magical mirror.  She was the
greatest of the Irish witches."

She gave him tea and listened to him talk of America and of his work
there.  He was some sort of engineer, building bridges.  She got an
impression of him standing on an artifice of some kind, with plans in
his hand, directing a whole crowd of workmen.  He had been in Brazil
and in China.

"You must be a good engineer," she said in her direct way.

"I 'm supposed to be a very good engineer," he laughed.

"Do you make a great deal of money?"

"A good deal.  Not a great deal."

"I 'm glad," she said.  He looked at her in surprise.  She was dusting
her fingers daintily, but her eyes smiled.  She was really glad.  And
he said to himself, "My soul! we 're friends."

She took him into the garden, and he laughed.

"And I brought you flowers."  There was a little shade of
disappointment in his laugh.

"Indeed and indeed--" she looked him in the eyes and lied
sweetly--"'Twas I needed them, for it's the devil and all for me to get
any flowers out of my own garden.  My two old gardeners are that mean!
Darby 'd begrudge me a daisy for fear it 'd leave an unsightly gap in
the grass.  There he is, watching me for fear I 'll pull a leaf.
Darby, this is Mr. O'Conor, and I 'm showing him the garden."

"If he 'd come fifteen years ago, your Ladyship, or even ten years ago,
he 'd have seen the like would have made his heart glad.  But in the
latter years, with the bad weather that's in it, now too much rain and
now not enough rain at all, and the wind that nothing is a shelter
against, and the soil that's growing poor, for all the time that's
spent on it, till it's hard to rear anything, even a head o' cabbage
itself--m'lady, will you for God's sake leave off pulling at that
hedge?"

She took him to see old Fenian in the paddock, and she liked the way he
pulled the jumper's ears, ran his firm hand down the fetlocks.

"Was he a great horse?"

"Nearly the greatest of his day," she answered.  "He never won a Grand
National, but was third twice and second once.  He had a great heart.
No horse tried harder.  The people loved him....  Kelleher, this is Mr.
O'Conor, from America."

"From America, is it, your Ladyship?  Oh, sure, they 've fine horses
over there.  But they 've got to come to us for the hunters.  Begging
your Ladyship's pardon, but was your Honor ever in Kansas City?"

"I was."

"D' your Honor ever meet a man named Hannigan out there?  Red Hannigan,
they called him, a holy terror for bloody murder, the same man was."

"I don't think so."

"He was n't as red as your Honor--begging your pardon--but sandy like.
And he carried his head on one side on account of a belt in the gob he
got in a wee argument out at the Lamb Doyle's."

"He must have gone when I got there."

"He must have, your Honor, or you 'd have met him.  A genius for
horses, the same Red.  'T was he cured Colonel Nolan's charger of
biting.  'Roast a leg of lamb,' he told them, 'and take it out of the
oven mad hot, and when he offers to bite,' says he, let him bite into
that.  By God! he 'll never bite again.'  And he never did."

Came at last the time for leaving.

"I wonder," he ventured, "I wonder if I could get you to come in and
have dinner and go to the theater.  I don't know what kind of a theater
it is, but would you?"

How like a flower she herself was, he thought--the white stalk of her
dress, the sweet face, the dark head!  She frowned.  His heart sank.

"I don't see how I could," she said.  "I 've got to get back here.  I
usually take the dinners and theaters in a quarterly debauch of one
week.  No, I don't see how ..."

His heart sank a little farther.  Was this definitely good-by?

"No, but I 'll tell you what you could do, if you 'd care to.  Come out
on Saturday and take me to the Leopardstown races.  I 'm sick of going
alone."

His heart rose.

"And come back and have dinner with me instead."

His heart sang.

Came now a day of wonder.  Day of Leopardstown, frosty morning and road
glistening like pewter, and the grass crackling underfoot, stiff with
hoar.  The little race-course at the foot of the mountains.  Crowds
stamping in the friendly cold.  The horses jibbing, curving under their
jockeys at the starting-wire.  Flash of jockeys' colors, gold and
green, red and white, all sorts of blue--sky, sea, St. Patrick's.  The
drop of the flag.  The flying wedge of stretching mounts and huddled
riders.  Thunder of hoofs coming to jumps, hurdling, lightning spring
and over, larruping canter toward the next, smack of crop, over, by
Heaven!  The hedge now and the five-barred gate, and the stretch toward
the judges' stand.  A mad cheering and the clanging of a great bell.
The favorite 's won!

A little hush, a rush to the ring to see the horses for the next race.
She wore a great frieze coat, like a man's, and a riding-hat, like a
man's too.  At a little distance she seemed like a boy in clothes too
big for him, and as one came nearer, one noticed, between the collar
and the brim of the hat, the sweet narrow neck and the hair gathered up
like some very little girl's.  There was something heart-pulling in it,
like a child's curled fingers.  And then she turned, and her face
showed, pointed like a cub fox's.  The cheeks flushed with the cold,
the lips with a merry smile, her eyes with a deeper smile--there were
so many there who knew her, and to whom O'Conor was presented,
including an Irish duchess, with a voice like a saw, who rasped; "H' a'
yo?" and then wailed, "My God!  D' yo' ever see such a God-forsaken
bunch o' mokes in all your life?"  And a tall, thin baronet who asked
him was he one of the O'Conors of Baltimore, to which he replied, no,
that he was one of the O'Conors of Forty-seventh Street and Seventh
Avenue.  "Ah, yes!  Ah, yes!"  There was a French cavalry officer
buying horses in Ireland, a dark, thin man with a heavy mustache, who
looked more like a New York plain-clothes policeman than a hero of
Algiers.  Also, there was Mr. Kelly.

Margery had noticed a great rangy gelding in the ring.  He looked to
have the power of a steam-engine.

"See?"

O'Conor nodded.

"Flying Fish."

A large red-faced man with a stout ash plant was passing.

"Oh, Mr. Kelly!"

"Ah, sure, Lady Margery!"

"Do you know anything of Flying Fish?"  She lowered her voice.  "Is he
a good horse?"

"He is.  And he is n't."

"Might he win this race?"

"He might.  And he might n't."

"You 're not telling me much."

"I am," he looked wise, "and I am n't," he looked wiser.

"Good enough," she said.  "Come," she told O'Conor.

Bookies crying raucously in the little ring.  Signaling of touts.
Milling of people.

"I 'll lay two to one the field," a booky was shouting.  His eyes were
all but out of his cheeks.  His shoulders hunched with effort.  His
voice exploded as though thrown against a wall, and he atomized a fine
spray before him.  "I 'll lay three to one bar one; I'll lay four to
one bar two.  I'll lay even money Munster Pride.  Even money Irish
Dragoon.  Four to one Little Dorrit.  Seven to two Carnation.  Here,
four to one Carnation.  Eight to one Murderer's Pet.  Twelve to one
Irish Gentility.  I 'll lay twenty to one--twenty to one Thunderbolt.
Twenty-five to one Flying Fish--"

"How much, Joe Jack?"

"Is it you, Lady Margery?  God love you.  I'll lay you thirty to one
Flying Fish.  How much will you take?"

"Ten pounds' worth."

"Three hundred and ten pounds Flying Fish, Lady Margery Kyteler.  I
hope you win, m'lady.  I do so there I 'll lay two to one the field.  I
'll lay three to one bar one.  I 'll lay four to one bar two--"

Dropping of flag and clatter of bell.  There they were in the distance,
flying down the regulation.  They rise to the ditch, three abreast.
Canter again--the water jump.  The lump becomes a line.  And who's
ahead?  Can you see?  Carnation!  Ah, my jewel Carnation!  And now the
bank.  There's a horse down.  Thunderbolt!  Ah, be damned to the same
Thunderbolt!  Is that the gray ahead?  It is so!  Is it Flying Fish is
in it?  Flying Fish it is, and he running like a hare!  'T is win in a
canter he will.  They 're coming to the hedge.  Ah! what is it, Mister?
Flying Fish it is, and he stopping dead.  A dead stop he 's made, and
the jockey pasting the ribs out of him.  Ah, he 's on now, but in the
heel of the hunt he is!  Carnation wins.  Carnation--ah, my sweet wee
lady!

They passed the post, Flying Fish bringing up the rear with a
supercilious arrogance.

"Fish!"  Margery wrinkled her nose in disgust.  "Fish was good."

And "There goes my new hat!" she wailed.  And who should pass by but
Mr. Kelly.  Out of his red face peered an inquisitive gray eye.

"You didn't?" he said.

"I did."

"How much?"

"Ten pounds."

"Ah, well," he decided cruelly; "It'll teach you."  And he passed on.

"Well, the devil scald you!" she called after him, "and your thick
ignorance!"

Last race and the end of the day.  He swung her lightly to the
side-car.  Firm elbows, rounded arms, and how light she was, elastic!
A woman in a shawl and a battered sailor-hat stood with folded arms and
began a street ballad:

  "Bold Robert Emmet, the darling of Ireland!
  Bold Robert Emmet, he died with a smile!
  Farewell, my company-ions both loyal and loving!
  A hero I 'll die for the Emerald Isle."


Margery was grinning above the press of the people, O'Conor turned and
dug his hand in his pocket.  Threw the woman a large silver coin.

"Well, may God keep and preserve you, my fine noble red-headed man!
And the sweet lady beside you--may God bless her!  And may you live
comfortable and die happy, the both of you, and leave behind you a
dozen of the finest children."

"Drive on!  Drive on!" O'Conor implored.

"Is it over the heads of the decent people you 'd have me drive, then?"
asked the jarvey, in abrupt horror.

"And of the twelve may six of them be like yourself, fine and
red-headed, and six like herself, sweet and dark.  Ah, 't is the fine
man you have, my sweet mistress!"

O'Conor saw the scarlet of her face against the black hair.  Eh, Lord,
how beautiful she was!


VI

The click of the wicket-gate and he was gone, and down the frosty road
his firm step was echoing.  She stood at the long drawing-room window
and listened.  Eh, what a moon!  And to-night the hare would be out on
Three Rock Mountain, and the red fox pad toward the chicken-coops--the
rogue of the world!  And on the mountain lakes southward there would be
a lid of mist hovering, blue mist and dark mountains and the white moon!

And under the moon her own garden, her own house lay so quietly
sleeping.  Crisp lawn and the graveled paths and the high wall and the
greenhouses glistening, and the yew-trees against the wall.  And the
bigger trees of the garden, the oak and ash, and the rowan-trees--the
mountain-ash, they called it in England--all the trees that were silent
now, even the wind being still.  The low dining-room that spread out at
right angles, and was thatched like an old-time cottage--how sweet it
seemed from here!  And the stables, where the horses were in their
stalls, and the coachman and groom slept.  The little lodge where the
gardeners were, a huddle of ivy.  Oh, the sweet domain!

It seemed to her, when the old place and the servants slept, and the
dogs were curled up sleeping, and the horses in their stalls, that she
somehow was the guardian and protector of all this.  The old servants
were not afraid because a Kyteler still lived, and they knew they would
be cared for, their whimsies understood.  There being no strong man to
stand against the encroachments of the world, what was better than her
own sweet virginity?  She could conceive of nothing harming the place
or people when she was there.  Even the spirits of the hills would pass
it by gently; the dark Irish things that frighten folk in their sleep,
the rumble of the death-coach, the wailing banshee, the thud of the
Pooka's terrible hooves--none of them had power while she was there.

Would she always protect it--or would there be some one else? she
mused.  A big man.  She turned from the window and went toward the
fire.  The face she had seen all day in reality was with her now in
vision of the fire--the face with the strong jaw, the gray eyes,
bronzed head, and red curls.  How every one had looked at him, she
remembered proudly, at the race-course to-day!  How fine he was!  How
strong, too!  She had been a feather to him when he swung her up on the
car.  And when his hands had caught her elbows and her feet left the
ground, her heart jumped, fluttered....

And how nice he was!  When the old rip of a battered singer had wished
them a multitude of children, he had blushed like a girl.

And when he had lifted her from the car, he had held her for the
fraction of a second in the air.  He had thought she did n't notice
it--and she had been afraid he would hear her heart beating, so loudly
did it hammer in her breast.  When she had turned him over to Rose Ann,
to take to her father's old room and turned and gone into her own, she
had closed her door and leaned against it, and said to herself,
"Margery, this man 's in love with you!" and then, in a lower, hushed
tone, "And, Margery, you 're in love with him!"

And all by herself she had blushed terribly and felt in a wild panic.
"He will see it," she said; "he will know."  But then she said, "No, he
will not; I won't let him."  And a song had come into her heart.  A
great pride and wonder filled her.  She felt she should be dressed in
soft scarlet robes, in some symbolic vestment of wonder and joy.  But
she came down to dinner in a demure white frock, her hair done very
demurely, her eyes demure.  And all the time her heart was bubbling
with sweet, low laughter, and saying, "Do you know, Margery, this man
's in love with you, and he does n't know you know it.  And you 're in
love with him, and he does n't know that either.  And we won't tell
him, Margery, will we?  We 'll let him find out for himself."

All through dinner and after, she got him to talk of where he had
been--Brazil and China--and of New York, where he was born and which he
loved.  She watched him over the sullen saffron candlelight, and she
thought, "He 's got a noble head," and again irrelevently, "You could
n't muss that hair of his, no matter how much you tried.  Those short
red curls would spring back.  I 'd like to try."  And again she
wondered, "Will he try to kiss me when he says good night?  And what
shall I do?  Shall I kiss him back, or give him a piece of my mind?
And if I give him a piece of my mind he may never come again.  And if I
kiss him he 'll think very little of me.  It's awfully hard."  And
again, "Ah, he won't try," she said.  "He would n't in my own house.
And, besides, he 's really in love.  I know it."

And he had only shaken hands with her, and said he was going soon, and
might he come to see her before he went?  And her heart sank, and she
said, yes, she 'd be very sorry if he did n't.  And he said, When?  And
she pondered over a possible engagement that did n't matter at all, and
said, Tuesday, then, and her heart murmured disconsolately.  Two long
days.

Through dinner and after she thought she had only been thinking of his
strong, eager face, but now he was gone, all he had said she
remembered.  And she thought of hot China, and the sun-baked South, and
the yellow rivers.  And of Brazil with all its forests, and the
speckled snakes, and the whistling monkeys, and the egrets standing by
the fountains, and the little armadillo lumbering across the roads.
And of New York, the vital city, with its houses challenging the
thunder of summer skies, its explosion of light when evening came, its
hurrying myriads, keen-eyed, alert.  Against all these backgrounds she
could see his clean-cut, gray-eyed face, and she could see herself
small and slight, looking up at him in wonder and pride.

"I could go with him anywhere," she whispered.

And then something seemed to call: "Margery!"

She looked up.  There was nothing there, but the dimmed loved room
obtruded itself upon her, and through the moonlit window she could see
the antique trees, and the silver glint to the greenhouses, and in a
clairvoyant instant she could see the old men sleeping after the day's
work, and the ancient maids, and Fenian in his paddock, and poor
Sheila, and the foxhounds.  She knew what called.

"Margery!"

"Yes, dears."

"Oh, Lady Margery!"

"Hush, now.  It's all right."

She had thought that to-night she would sleep as a child sleeps, and
try to recapture the magic day in dreams.  And be so happy.  But the
voice of the trees, and the murmur of the old house, and the pleading
eyes of dog and horse, and the wailing tyranny of the sleeping aging
folk shocked her into the knowledge that there was a sterner thing than
dreaming before her.  To-night she would not sleep.

"Margery!  Lady Margery!"

"Yes.  Yes."

"You couldn't, little mistress, you couldn't.'

"Hush, hearts, hush.  I will not go away."


VII

He was very handsome, very erect, very noble there, standing by the old
fireplace.  He was not merry to-night, so he was going to ask her to
marry him, she knew.  And in the black and white of evening things,
bronzed face and curling hair, he looked the equal of any old Kyteler
on the wall.  And he had more than they had, she felt--abounding
energy.  She was very pretty herself to-night, too, she knew, and
stately a little.

He was hurting, hurting her badly, for he was speaking now of South
Africa, where he was going.  And he was carefully telling her how
wonderful he had heard that country was: the mass of Table Mountain and
the rolling hills, the great acres of grapes, the miles of veldt with
the white Boer farmhouses, the sun forever shining, hunting such as she
had never dreamed of, great, majestic storms.

"You 'd like it; you 'd like it ever so much."

"Oh, I don't know," she lied.  "Ireland is a lot to me."

He was telling her clumsily, shamefacedly of another thing--of a lucky
chance he had had in Brazil many years ago, a chance he had taken
laughingly, and that had made him indecently rich, and he still a very
young man.  She understood.

She moved away, and began hunting for a piece of music, so that her
back was to him.

"Did you ever think," she said, "of settling down in Ireland?  You 're
Irish, you know.

"And it's not a bad place," she went on before he answered.  "It's a
sort of sportsman's paradise.  Fishing and hunting and race-courses.
And sailing.  And if you get tired you can run over to London, or
Paris, or Madrid.

"Oh, damn!" she said, "I can't find that thing at all!"  She was
trembling from head to heel.  "Why don't you marry some nice Irish girl
and settle down?"

"Oh, I could n't settle down in Ireland."

"No?"

"There 's my work to do."

"But you just said you were rich."

"That's no excuse for not working."

"I thought--I don't know."

"No, I 'd be a very poor sort," he laughed, "if I stopped work because
I was rich.  I 'd have no self-respect--"

"No?" she said dully.  The trembling had passed now.  She was just
numb, numb and dead.

"But as to marrying an Irish girl, Lady Margery--Margery--"

She stood up and turned about.  She was smiling quizzically.

"You 're not proposing to marry me, are you?"

"Yes."

"Don't.  Don't, O'Conor," she said.  "Please don't."

"Why?"

"Because of this--" she looked at him squarely--"I like you.  I like
you immensely.  To me you 're everything a man should be, but just--I
don't seem to see you that way.  I don't love--do you see?  And I don't
think I ever could.  No.  I never could."

"Well, that's straight.  Thanks."

"Are we friends still?"

"Of course, but--"  He smiled.  "Do you mind if I go?"

"I 'll see you out myself.

"O'Conor," she half whispered in the hall, "I'm an awful son of a gun.
I should love you--you 're so fine, so decent, so--so everything--but I
don't.  I 'm sure I could never love any one.  I 'm a very selfish
woman, I sometimes think.  It wouldn't have been worth while marrying
me."

"You're not selfish, and you're very sweet, Margery."

"No, no!  Shall I see you again?"

"I 'm afraid not.  To-morrow I go to London, and from there to Africa."

"O'Conor, will you do something for me because we are friends?"

"Yes."

"Will you send me pictures of South Africa, and an occasional one of
you, because we are friends?"

"Yes, Margery."

"And, O'Conor, if twenty years from now you want to settle down, come
to me and let me find you a nice girl to marry--oh! the nicest girl in
the world--or if you are sick or crippled, come."

He smiled.

"Promise me."

"All right, Margery.  I will."  He put out his hand.

"O'Conor," she said.  Again she was trembling, but her voice--thank
God!--her voice was all right.  "I know you 're disappointed,
and--O'Conor, would it help if you kissed me?"

"No," he said, "I 'm afraid it would hurt more.  So I won't."

"I suppose it would hurt more."  She stepped forward and put out her
hand.  "I am always your friend, O'Conor, your assured friend.  And
good-by now, O'Conor, and God bless you wherever you go!"

"And you too, Margery."

"You 'll come back, O'Conor, if you 're sick or hurt, or want to settle
down, and talk to me about it--your friend, O'Conor, your little Irish
friend.  You won't forget?"

"I 'll never forget."

He walked down the path under the cloud-touched moon.  Would he look
back?  No, he would n't.  He did n't.  Oh, there went a man!


VIII

She heard the wicket-gate close, and in her heart she knew that she
would never again see him.  No gray eyes any more, nor curly hair.  Her
face had become now a white and quivering mask.  She snatched a cloak
up and, wrapping it round her, she went blindly into the garden.

She began to shake with great silent sobs.  Her face was wet now, and
she could n't see.  She sank at the roots of the mountain-ash.

"Rowan-tree, rowan-tree!" she cried, "I shall never see him any more!"

And as she sobbed, a little breeze came from the Three Rock Mountain,
and all the trees in the garden murmured gently.  The great ash unbent,
the elm swayed, and the little apple-trees nodded with compassion.  All
the shrubs in the garden rustled.

_Hush--hush!  Hush--hush!  Hush--hush!_

"Oh, rowan-tree! rowan-tree!"

_Hush--hush!  Hush--hush!_

The moon came gently from behind a great saffron-edged cloud and seemed
to bend toward her.  Its rays poured sweetly toward the dark head.  A
rabbit had come somehow into the garden and sat up near her, its ears
lop, its pink nose twitching.

_See--see!  See--see!  See--see!_  The trees were like kindly muses.
The sobbing ceased as she watched, as a child's sobbing might.

It scampered off now, for in the kennel the foxhound puppies had
wakened--her step or some cry of hers, maybe--and were snuffling and
whining to get at her.  And from the stables came the rap-rap of
Fenian's hoofs, uneasy in his stall.

"I must go in," she said.

Her hand patted the bark of the rowan-tree, and she turned to go into
the old house that had been there so many centuries and was there
still, sheltering the complement of aging, tyrannous servants in their
peaceful sleep, and was beckoning her, she felt, beckoning her to its
wide lap....



REYNARDINE

I

The big gray hunter caracoled under him, and with a vicious twitch of
curb and snaffle Morgan brought him to stand.  He smacked the croup and
touched the gelding's fore thigh with the toe of his riding boot until
the great hunter stood like a horse in an illustration.  Then Morgan
turned around.

About him was the cold gray of an Irish morning in November.  Woolly,
dull, frost on the roads and a touch of easting to the wind--a perfect
day for hunting.  Forward of him a hundred and fifty yards the hounds
were circling around the copse, while the leaders were inside, raising
the red fox.  Through the gray branches of the wood, gaunt as witches'
arms, the pink of the whipper-in's coat showed like a Hallowe'en candle
back of a screen.  And here and there were knots of the hunt, talking
to one another as neighbors talk.  There were the women's fluting
voices; there was the men's deep laughter.  All were friendly, toward
one another, toward the world, toward the red fox himself, friendly
toward every one except Morgan.  Well, to blazes with them, Morgan
swore to himself.  What the blazes did he care about them--a crowd of
country squires and young army men, of stray farmers, and an occasional
doctor or parson.  What did they amount to, anyway? he 'd like to know.

And yet, he had thought they would be different.  It had all been
twenty years ago, and he 'd been away all that time, and he 'd been
only two days back.  But they 'd never forgotten.  What haters they
were, these Irish!  What implacable enemies!  What brought him back,
anyhow?  He could have been happy in America.  Or hunting in England.
What he 'd come back for was the red Irish fox.

"Steady, blast you!" he warned the big hunter.

"There he goes!" some woman cried, and "No, Janet, no!" a friend
laughed.  Janet!  That would be Janet Conyers.  And Janet Conyers must
be forty now, and here she was still riding to hounds.  Yes, he
recognized a full dozen of them.  Good Lord!  Did people live as long
as that?  There was old Sir John Burroughs, spare as a lance, and old
McGinty, who owned the Mill Farm.  Yes, and the Master of Munsterbeg
was there, red-faced, hale, all of sixty.  And that Grecian
profile--was n't that Di Connors, who was now Baroness Rothlin?  And
the big gaunt man with the hook nose, was n't that Ian More Campbell of
the Antrim glens?  Poet and soldier and horseman.  Morgan felt a tremor
of fear before the great Ulster Scot.

There was the yelp of a foxhound and a roar of anger.  The thundering
master of the hounds was turning on an inoffensive stranger.

"What the--what the--what the blazes do you mean, sir, riding over
hounds in that manner?  What hunt do you belong to, anyhow?"

"I don't belong to any hunt."

"Well, what the--what did you come out here for, anyhow?"

"My medical man told me I needed fresh air and exercise, and I
thought--"

"You thought!  You thought!  Why in blazes don't you buy a bellows and
stick it up your nose?  You 'd get all the fresh air and exercise you
want, but--"

There was a roar of laughter from the field, and above it rose Morgan's
deep basso, like the bourdon note of an organ.  But the instant the
field noted his laughter, their laughter died.

Morgan smothered a curse and moved fifty yards down where he could get
a flying start away from the rush of hunting.  How they hated him,
resented him, he felt, and yet he had killed no man, stolen no money,
betrayed no woman.  They hated him as much as they had loved and
admired his wife Reynardine.  Queer!  Queer!  He was the one they
should love and she was the one they should have felt aloof toward.
For he was the steeplechaser, the horseman, the hunter of foxes, and
she was of a family whose tradition it was never to hunt or harry a
fox, but to protect and aid it.  You would have thought it would be the
other way around; that they would have liked him and been cool or
indifferent toward Reynardine, these hunting women, these sporting men.
But no!

And that was twenty years ago, and they hated still.  Twenty years!
War and famine and pestilence had raged through the world.  But they
remained the same, these Irish gentlefolk.  Yes, it was all of twenty
years, nearly to a day, since he had left for foreign parts, and
Reynardine, his wife, had died.


II

"Cop forard away!" went the ringing formula of the huntsmen.  "Cop
forard away!"  A long wail on the horn.  The covert had been drawn
blank.

Two sharp notes and a halloing.  "Yo ho, Tinker!  Yo ho!  Tim!  Forard,
hounds, forard!"  And the pack of hounds began to move like a slow wave
toward the distant woodland.  The hunt followed at a slow trot....

Her name had been Petronilla, but through the country-side she was
known as Reynardine, partly because of the Irish folk-song she could
sing so well, with its haunting minors, its suggestion of superhuman
music.  He could see her slight form still, spiritual, virginal in the
Irish twilight.  He could hear her pulsating contralto voice:

  "If by chance you look for me
    Perhaps you 'll not me find,
  For I 'll be in my castle--
    Enquire for Reynardine."


No, he would n't look for her, though he knew where she was.  She was
in her castle, for sure!  Her deep and narrow castle in the ancient,
disused Cistercian monastery where the Fitzpauls buried their dead.
Tier on tier the old Norman-Irish family lay, with their strange names,
Fulke and Gilles, Milo, Tortulf, Bertran.  There they lay with their
carved effigies, dogs at their feet and swords at their side--old
Crusaders.  There they lay, ancient harriers of the Irish clans, Arnold
and Eudo.  There they lay, old peers of the Irish parliament, Robert,
Gerald and Byssak.  There lay the newer landlords, Jenico and Maurice.
There they lay, dead as their tradition.  There they lay, and be damned
to them, Morgan thought!  All there was left of them now was one
daughter, his and Reynardine's, whom he had seen only once, in
swaddling-clothes, and whom, he trusted, he would never see again.

"If by chance you look for me," her song had gone.  "Look for you,"
Morgan sneered.  "I 'll be in my castle!"  "Well, you can stay there,
wife!" he sneered.

He 'd never look for her, even though he could see the monastery where
she slept from where he sat on his horse's back....

They had come to a woodland upwind and the hunt had slowed down to a
walk.  The hounds were being urged in by the pink-coated huntsman.  He
heard the short note of the huntsman to wake the fox, saw the pack pour
in like a stream....


III

He had come out this morning, his second morning in the country, to
hunt, to kill the fox, to enjoy the sport he loved with what had become
a mania.  And now his day was being spoiled by old black memories.
Perhaps it was the Abbey where Reynardine slept that nudged him with
ghostly concentration, perhaps it was the field that ignored him as
though he did not exist, perhaps it was the proximity of the fox
itself--he had n't seen or hunted an Irish fox for twenty years.  But
he was troubled as a man is troubled by imminent disaster.  He wished
they 'd get on.

"Wind him, boys.  Wind him.  Yooi, get him out.  Joyous!  Tinker!
Marvan!  Leu in!"

But there was naught but the crash of whins, and the whirring of
pheasants as they rose.  There rose the huntsman's clear call:

"Yo hote back.  Yooi over try back!"  And the blast of the horn as he
turned to draw the woodland again.

Twenty years ago!  Could it have been only twenty years ago that he had
met and married and parted from Reynardine?  It was so misty, so vague,
he had come to think of it as centuries before.  He had come north from
Dublin, a boy of twenty-two, just out of Trinity, son of old Jasper
Morgan who had made a half-dozen fortunes in remounts for the South
African War, grandson of Ed Morgan who had been ostler and stableman
and later livery-keeper at Kingstown.  And because he rode hard and
well he was admitted everywhere.  There is no democracy as open as that
of the Ulster clans.  A baron from William the Conqueror's invasion, or
an Irish chieftain whose ancestors were Druidists yields precedence to
any man who can do a thing better than he....  At a hunt ball young
Morgan met Petronilla Fitzpaul, who was known through the country as
Reynardine.

She was just at the momentous instant when a girl turns woman, that
strange first of three tides in a woman's life.  And the first tide
breathlessly waited, curled, flowed in as he came.  Very slight, very
dark-haired, very deep-eyed, she was spared the ancestral Norman
traits.  She had n't the eagle beak of her brothers, or their intent
scowling brows.  She was a little thing of kindliness and deep
emotions.  One felt it in the face, somehow like a pansy, one felt it
in her eyes, one felt it in her hands....

She liked him.  He was new to her.  She liked his dash.  She liked, as
gentlewomen will, the faint flavor of vulgarity in him.  It was new to
her.  She liked the dash of his clothes.  His assurance overcame her.
She liked him.  And she was at the mystic tide of her life.  She
thought she loved him.

And what intrigued Morgan was the spirit within.  Some faint conception
of her beauty and mystery penetrated to him.  No man is interested in a
woman bodily, no matter how much he thinks he is.  He is interested in
cosmic womanhood, or in the one spiritual entity that actuates the
body.  And before Morgan was a thread of flame that might lead him now
down a formal garden, rhythmic with the murmur of bees, now through a
woodland where the thrush sang in the branches, now through a Roman
crypt, mysterious and sanctified.  He was like a barbarian who has
found a great jewel, topaz or opal or sapphire, the light of which
enthralls him, but of whose value and use he is ignorant....

Her brothers and her father were not inclined to view a marriage
between them with favor.  It was not because of his lack of lineage,
but because the points of view were so different.  They saw a gulf.
But Reynardine dissuaded them.

"Brothers dear and my father, cannot I, cannot we all--" she put her
hands out toward them--"make him see our way, take our things to his
heart?"

They were all great hulking men, her father and her brothers, Ulick,
Garrett, Gilchrist, Kevin, and she was the only woman of them--her
mother had died so long ago!--and she was so little, so pleading!  They
were as wax in her hands.

"You know, dears--" she hung her head--"I love this man."

"Do what your heart says, Reynardine," they gave her the precept they
obeyed themselves with such success and chivalry.  And they frowned the
family frown.  "If she can do so much with us, what can't she do with
him!" they reasoned in their simple way.  Alas! poor gentlemen!

There was an immensity of pride in Morgan's heart, apart from pride in
his young wife, to be allied to a family such as the Fitzpauls.  Twice
they had refused duchies.  They were so old they went back into the
mists of Norman tradition.  They had the quaint customs of their sort,
and strange superstitions, such as all Irish families
have--superstitions being but ancient mystic conceptions of nature, and
customs observed so often through the centuries that their shadows
became facts.

But of all quaint customs, their friendship to the fox was strangest of
all.  Their crest was a fox courant, and over no square foot of their
lands could a fox be hunted.  Great horsemen they were, but none had
ever followed the hounds in a hunt.  Perhaps some old Fitzpaul, seeing
all people concentrated on ridding the land of the fox, had pitied the
little red hunted one, and given it protection.  Perhaps by some
accident of border warfare a fox had deflected the chase from a hunted
Fitzpaul and so earned the family gratitude.  Perhaps this.  Perhaps
that.  What did it matter?

Yes, a quaint observance, this trait of the Fitzpauls.  An
idiosyncrasy, a person might put it, such as a woman's objection to
mice, or the energy of Henry Bergh--God rest him!--who fought that the
law should protect horses from maltreatment.  But what was queerer
still, was their power over the foxes.  Foxes greeted a Fitzpaul
joyously, barking and wagging their tails like dogs--foxes, the most
suspicious of all animals of the field.  The Fitzpauls had some strange
rhythmic power over foxes, as some people have over dogs.  And yet,
though this was mysterious, it was not so immensely mysterious.  Some
trainers are born with power over man-eating tigers, some men can
handle snakes, some can sooth stampeding cattle.  Morgan remembered
hearing his father speak of Whistler Sullivan, who was called in when
all hope of breaking a horse was gone.  A mean, ferret-faced man, he
would steal into the stall where a man-eating horse was tied and
hackled, closing the door behind him, and a half-hour later he would
bring the horse out.  The horse would be coved and dripping with sweat,
and never afterward would it balk or bolt or rear.  And the Whistler
had never laid a hand on him.  He had only talked or hissed.  People
were afraid of the Whistler; the peasantry declared he had bargained
his soul with the devil; but he had only power over horses, as the
Fitzpauls had over the foxes of the field.

Well, that was all explicable, within the range of human knowledge.  It
was extraordinary, but that was all.  But there was an eerier thing yet
about that family.  Other families had their banshees, their ghostly
pipes, their drummers on battlements to portend or announce approaching
death.  But when a Fitzpaul died,--so went the tradition, so it had
been attested by living men, so it had happened within a wheen of
years,--the lawns were peopled with foxes at the dusk of day.  Not
spectral things, but foxes of the field and wood who gathered to bid
their protectors God-speed on their strange, strange journey.  They
knew of death as bee-keepers say bees know.  They made no sound but for
the rustle of the grass and the faint thudding of their pads.  But they
were there.  And a passing peasant might see them and raise his hat.

"God be good to the Fitzpauls," he would pray.  "'T is they are good to
the poor!"

A strange thing that of the foxes, a thing not understood.  How little,
after all did we know of animals!  But to blazes with that!  Morgan
swore.  Animals were n't here to be understood.  Animals were here to
be used, a horse to be ridden; a hound to hunt with; a fox to be chased
to the death--as he was here to ride and hunt and chase to-day; as he
had done always; as he had done when Reynardine, his wife, lived....

A bird rose shrieking from the copse, and suddenly a hound gave tongue,
and then another, and then the pack cried as one dog.  There was a
blast of the horn.

"Gone away!" came the cheer of the huntsman.  "Away!  Away!"

Then fifty horses thundered.


IV

First there was the minute red flash of the fox, slipping through the
furze like a serpent, then the dappled flood of hounds, tails up,
giving tongue like bells, then the master of the hunt on his great
brown steeplechaser, then the huntsman, gay in pink, leather-faced with
puckered eyes, on his little black mare.  Then came the bunched hunt,
the crash of ditches, the crackle of brambles, the thunder over turf,
the _splosh-splosh_ over plowed land.  There was the cheering of the
country-side.

There a woman was down at a fence and men stopped to help her.  There a
riderless horse went by, mane tossing, stirrups flying.  Now a groan,
now a curse.  The country-side flew by as in a motion picture.  Patch
of brown, patch of green, patch of gray, like a crazy-quilt.  The crack
of hunting crops, the _ppk_ of spurs.  "Tally-ho, boys! tally-ho!  On
hounds!  On!"

Morgan with certainty crept ahead of the field, not a hundred yards
behind master and huntsman.  Beneath him the great gray moved like a
steam-engine.  A little steadying forward, a rush and a thud, and they
were over.  Now a ditch was taken with a clatter, now a fence cleared
nicely, now through a blackthorn hedge, Morgan's arm up to protect his
eyes.  Five minutes!  Seven.  Eight minutes!  Nine.  Ten, by the Lord
Harry!  And suddenly they were at Kyle na Maroo--Dead Men's Wood.  And
the hounds were sniffing, wailing, at check.

An old earth-stopper, wizened, purple-lipped, like a grave-digger of
"Hamlet," appeared like a troll.

"Into the wood he went, your Honor," he addressed the master.  "Into
the wood the Red One went, your Honor, like a man diving into his own
house."

"Are all the holes stopped, Mickey Dan?"

"Stopped is it, your Honor.  Sure they 're stopped as if they were the
burrows of the devil himself and the saints to be out hunting him on
the judgment-day.  Stopped is it?  Sure, a worm itself could n't get in
or out of them the way I 'm after stopping them with interest and grand
care--"

"All right, Mickey Dan!" The master interrupted.  "Hoick in!"  He
ordered the huntsmen.

"Leu in, boys, leu in.  Tinker!  David!  Dermot!  Ranger!  Tally in,
beauties!  Tally in!"

Morgan pulled up his hunter and turned around to watch the field come
up, no longer bunched, but straggling now.  The burst to check had been
too much for them.  His horse was still fresh, his seat easy.  He had
done a notable thing, following so closely on the master's mount--the
great racer that had won the Grand National--and the huntsman's mare,
fleet as a greyhound, with so little weight up.  Morgan desired a word
of commendation, even a look of envy.  But they took no notice of him.
He might have been some old fox-hunter, invisible, long dead, riding a
specter horse, over some well-remembered run, for all the attention
they paid him.  To them he was n't there; he did n't exist.

And because of Reynardine.

And what had he done to Reynardine?  It was n't his fault.  It was
hers.  She was in love with him, and then she turned and was not.  Was
it his fault that a woman was fickle?

Yes, she was in love with him.  He could even yet see her dark
murmuring eyes in the golden light of the candles, as she set there in
her white frock and sang to him, her beautifully cut ivory hands
plucking haunting melody from a pianoforte as from some old-time
clavichord.

  "Sun and dark I followed her,
    Her eyes did brightly shine:
  She took me o'er the mountains,
    Did my sweet Reynardine.
  If by chance you look for me
    Perhaps you'll not me find--"


Oh, damn!  What did she ever come into his life for, anyway!  She
didn't want a man.  She wanted a poet.  Crazy!  That's what she was,
crazy as a coot.  He supposed her daughter--their daughter--was as
crazy as she!

First of all there 'd been the trouble about the hunting.  She never
said a word about it, but her face had blanched the first morning he
saddled up for the Lonth.  She had expected him, he laughed, to have
the same crazy notions as her family.  And her face had been drawn with
pain when he came back in the evening.  And she had said nothing.  Too
proud.  Too damn crazy and too proud!

That evening he had asked her to play "Reynardine"--not that he liked
the tune; he'd rather have had something popular, something with body
to it, none of your blasted wailing folk-songs.  But he just thought it
might please her to have him ask.  She shook her head, and plunged into
Chopin.

"I don't think I could play--'Reynardine'--to-night," she said.

And she had never played or sung "Reynardine" to him again.

She and her folk had such darn queer notions.  They thought more of a
horse under them than themselves.  They went to infinite pains and
immense time to train a green horse or break in a dog where another
person with a flick of spurs or, a crack of the whip could do it in
half the time.  True, they did it well.  But, after all, you did n't
make human friendships with animals.  You made them do what you wanted
to; or if they did n't--  That was a man's way.

But people are queer, some of them.  One man is proud that his horse
whinnies in the stall when he hears the beloved footstep.  And some men
give friendship to dogs they never give to women, and their hearts
break when a hound dies.  And to some folk the birds of the air will
come and eat out of their hand, so confident are the birds.  And the
death of a rabbit is a great tragedy to children.  There is a virgin
glade in nearly all folks' hearts where neither blood nor marriage
wander, but the love of animals possesses.  It is some mystic link in
the chain of creation.

But he never had it.  Never could understand it, Morgan thought.  After
all, man is the lord of creation, Morgan decided--that's true isn't
it?--and all living things were for him to use.  He had all rights over
them, even to life and death.  That was how some folks looked at
it--not crazy people like the Fitzpauls.

And Reynardine did n't like the way he broke horses.  Reynardine did
n't like the way he shot pheasants.  She was a queer girl,
but--God!--she was very beautiful!

Well, that was the whole story of it; they did n't get on.  There grew
a gulf between them, and was that his fault? he asked.  Was it his
fault he was n't insane?  Was it his fault he was too much of a man for
her?

And when she was to have a child, she expected so much of him.  She
never asked of course--oh, no!  She would never ask for anything, but
she followed him with dumb eyes.  What did she expect, anyhow?  It was
no man's job to hang around a gravid woman all the time, holding her
hand.  A million women in the world were bearing children.  What was
there to it, after all?  Every one did it.

And then she had run home.  Let her run.  Crazy coot!

And when she was dying and sent for him, did he refuse to go and see
her, as many a man would have done?  No, he went.  He remembered well
the soft April twilight; the dim white figure in the great bed, with
the haunting eyes.  And her four big brothers standing around with set,
grim faces.

"My husband," she had said, "for anything I did to you here, for any
way I hurt, will you please forgive me?"

"That's all right, Reynardine," he said.  "We were just not suited.
And I forgive you."  Then, awkwardly: "I'm sorry to see you this way,
Reynardine."

A light had gone out of her face:

"Then--good-by!"  Her hand unclasped from his.

"Good-by!" he had said uncomfortably, and turned to go.  He noticed
three of the brothers look at the senior, Gilchrist, meaningly.
Gilchrist turned to go after him.  A cold shiver had gone down Morgan's
spine.  His knees trembled.  And then came the very soft voice:

"Gilchrist, and brothers dear, in a minute maybe I 'll have gone with
the twilight, and I shall not be able to talk to you again, ever again,
with these human lips.  And I 'm going to ask you just one more favor,
brothers dear, my brothers.  Please do it for your sister.  Let my--let
this man go!"

Then Gilchrist threw open the door.

"This is no place for you," he had said.  "Go!"

A crazy breed!  He had never heard from them again.  Never had they
asked him to see or support his daughter.  He had even forgotten her
name.  But he did n't want to see her.  He wanted to see no more of the
Fitzpaul blood.  She was living in the old place, he understood, which
was hers now.

Well, let her--

But--funny!  He could never get out of his mind's eye the vision of his
wife sitting by the great piano, plucking out the ancient melody:

  "If by chance you look for me
    Perhaps you 'll not me find,
  For I 'll be in my castle--"


The hounds shifted, grew keen.  "Ay!  Ay!" came the tongue of the
finder.  Scent was picked up again.  "Ay!  Ay!  Ay!" went the pack,
heads up, tails straight.  There was a red flash ahead in the grassy
field.

"Come up, Finn!" the master shoved his great horse onward.

"Ay!  Ay!  Ay!"  They were off.  "Ay!  Ay!  Ay!" Seventy hounds and
forty horsemen.  "Ay!  Ay!  Ay!"  And one red fox running for his life.
"Ay!  Ay!"  A dead fox or a broken neck!  "Ay!  Ay!  Ay!"


V

For years he had been looking forward to this first fox-hunt in
Ireland, and now with the red speck ahead of him, and the flood of
hounds following it, and the great gray between his knees, it occurred
to him that he was not enjoying it.  Never was a morning better for
hunting, never a keener scent, never a better pack; never had he pushed
as powerful, as sure-footed a horse at a fence.  Behind him the field
fell, was blown, dropped out, until there were hardly a half-dozen
left.  And he was close on the master of the hunt, close on the
huntsman, close on the pack.  Yet there was something in it that took
the thrill away and left a leaden depression instead.

She would n't go out of his mind, would Reynardine.  What was that
daughter of hers--and his--like?  Like her mother, he 'd be bound,
every inch of her a Fitzpaul.  Hardly any of his blood there.  His only
were the mechanics of procreation; she was not his daughter.  Nothing
lifeful of him had fused with the soul of Reynardine to perform the
ineffable miracle.  No, she would be all her mother--all Fitzpaul.

God! how he hated that name of Fitzpaul!  How he hated Reynardine, who
had made him feel like a cur, though he wouldn't admit it!  How he had
hated those four big brothers, who had made him feel afraid--an
unforgivable thing!

Well, they were dead, he laughed, all dead.  Gilchrist had died on
Nevison's expedition to the pole, and he lay somewhere in the
immaculate Arctic snows with the inscription his comrades had written
on a simple cross: "Here lies a very gallant Irish gentleman."  And
Kevin had died fighting the Turks in Asia.  And Ulick!  Ulick was
somewhere in the depths of the Irish sea, where he went out with the
coast-guards to rescue a vessel in distress.  And Garrett was funniest
of all.  He was killed defending a woman of the people from her drunken
husband in a Dublin slum.  All dead!  Serve them right, too.  They were
always doing something that never got them anywhere.  Fools!

He had hated them in life, and he hated them in death.  But now their
bodies were in dissolution, there was nothing concrete to hate, and, by
some strange symbolism, he had come to hate what in his mind was most
closely allied to the family, the fox that was their crest, the fox
that had their protection.  He hated it.  He hunted it.  He wanted to
kill it.  The day on which a fox was killed was to him a red-letter
day.  He felt somehow that he had killed a Fitzpaul.

Foxes took on for him now a strange, sinister entity.  By thinking much
of them, he had come to think of them as a quasi-human, supernormal
race.  There was something strange about them, anyway.  Cleverest of
all the beasts of the field, with their cunning they outwitted men.
They were strange in their likes and dislikes.  Their only friend was
the dull-witted badger, a dark personality, too, whose burrows they
used, with whom they often lived.  They would eat fruit and shellfish.
And though they killed birds, they would not touch a dead bird of prey.
They had tabus as strict as a Maori's.  Strange, mystical laws.

Very sinister they seemed to Morgan.  Once in America he had seen Michi
Itow, the Japanese, dance his dance of the fox.  And there was
something terrible in it, something so mysteriously awful that he all
but rose in his seat, the cry of the pack ringing from his throat: "Ay!
Ay!  Ay! ... Ay!  Ay!"

And he had a dreadful waking dream, of an acre of foxes watching him in
the twilight, never moving, still on their pads.  Just their pointed
muzzles, their baleful, luminous eyes....

He had hunted foxes everywhere since he left Ireland.  In Canada, where
he had many a good kill.  In England, where the sport was too ladida,
too much of a social gathering to please.  In America, in Maryland,
where they hunted the gray fox, with hounds stag crossed with fox, but
seldom killed.  He could n't stand their way of hunting.  The
Marylanders did n't care to kill, and they had dubbed their favorite
foxes with endearing nicknames.  No!  That was ridiculous!  What he
wanted was an Irish hunt--fine horses and good riders, and keen hounds,
and a dead fox at the end of the day.

He looked up from the pack as they swung through a plowed field.  The
fox had swung in a circle and was running to where it had started.
There was Cashelshane, King John's castle.  There was Owana Ma ach Meg,
the river of the little trout!  There was Crock Na Mero, the hill of
the querns!  There was--there was the abbey where the Fitzpauls, where
Reynardine slept.

  "If by chance you look for me
    Perhaps you 'll not me find,
  For I 'll be in my castle--"


A great castle that, he laughed, six feet underground....  Damn it!
Were those hounds checked again?


VI

A piece of bog in process of reclamation--there the fox had taken
refuge.  He might be lying in some clump of grass.  He might have
slipped into one of the many drains the strong farmer had made in his
attempt to make arable land of what was morass.  Here and there were
green patches, still dangerous, where a whole hunt might be engulfed.
Neither the master nor the huntsman cared to chance their mounts in
that treacherous sward.  They halloed the hounds to and fro.

"Leu in, lads, leu in!  Ranger, Rambler, Tinker, Tim!  On to him,
beauties, on to him!"

But the hounds were at fault, utterly.  They howled with baffled
desire.  They went to and fro, sterns twitching, noses aground.  Two or
three beaten hunters turned up, their horses gone, their fire quenched,
sitting dully in the saddle, thankful for the respite of check.

"We 've overrun," the huntsman grumbled.

"I 'm afraid so, Willie John," the master nodded.  But some secondary
sense told Morgan the fox was there.  He had gone to ground and the
hounds had failed to mark him.

"Try a short up-wind cast," the master directed.

The hounds were halloed out, and as they swung to the left, Morgan
noticed the red shadow flit along a ditch, slip through a hedge.  He
spurred his horse in excitement.

"Yoi doit!" Morgan called.  "View halloo!"  But some trick of wind
muffled his voice.  Behind him three hundred yards away the hounds were
following the huntsman about, heads up.

The fox was tired, his brush heavy with mud and dragging as he ran.
Behind him Morgan thundered alone.  He damned the huntsman.  He damned
the hounds.

"They 're going to miss, blast their stupid heads!"  But he kept on.
His hope was that the fox would turn, and the huntsman and hounds see
him, and coming up, finish the day's work.

But the fox kept onward.  Now across a plowed field, now across fallow
land.  Here a fence, here a ditch, here a hedge.  What was the use of
following him, with no hounds?  But a mania arose in Morgan's brain,
and he could n't bear to drop the chase now, so near to completion.  A
vast anger arose in him.  He felt he had been betrayed.  Never was a
huntsman so stupid.  Never hounds so bad.

The fox ahead of him put on a new spurt, and Morgan dug his heels into
his horse's flanks.  Where was it heading for?

He looked up for a moment and saw the four-foot crumbling wall of the
old abbey.  So there 's where it thought sanctuary might be found.  The
fox sought the protection of the Fitzpauls, even now they were dead.

A sinister grin passed over Morgan's face.  Of a sudden he felt
diabolical.  Others might respect that sanctuary, but not he!  He was
n't crazy with sentiment.  A hunter, he!  He 'd hunt it over the
legions of dead Fitzpauls.  He 'd hunt it over Reynardine's grave, by
God!  How would she like that?  Eh?  He 'd kill that fox if he had to
run it blind and throttle it with his bare hands.

"I 'll get you," he laughed.

The fox gathered itself for a last effort.  He saw the whirl of its
brush, saw it leap, disappear....

Morgan steadied his hunter for an instant.  Suddenly gave it reins and
spurs.  Looked up, as it flew toward the wall.

From his height he could see within and his hair rose in a dreadful
chill.  For standing there was a white figure, with a book in her hand.
Against the white dress the red fox cowered.  The face was the face of
Reynardine.  The years were the years of Reynardine.  The eyes were the
eyes of Reynardine, black, deep, dilated with fear.

"Reynardine!  Reynardine!"  A cry of terror broke from him.

An immense panic seized him, and his hands checked the horse as it rose
to the jump--a savage jerk on curb and snaffle.  The gray was already
in the air.  Its hind legs came down uncertain.  Its great bulk fell
backward.  Fear flooded him like cold water.  In an instant he knew his
neck would be broken like a dry twig.  Christ!  There it went!  Snap!


VII

"Dark childeen, what is wrong with you?  What is wrong?  There was a
wing in my heart until I saw you coming."

"Nurse Ellen, there 's a man dead at the abbey.  I saw him die, with my
two eyes."

"_O alanna veg_!  Is it any one we know?  It isn't the master, is it,
or Sir Maurice?"

"No, Nurse Ellen, no!  It's no one I know.  I was sitting reading by
Mother's grave, and a wee red fox, a wee hunted fox, ran up to me for
help.  And then the man came jumping the wall, and his horse reared and
he was killed.  I never saw him before, but we know him, Nurse Ellen.
I know we do."

"Why dotey child?  Why do you say so?"

"He saw me and he took me for Mother, Nurse Ellen.  He called,
'Reynardine!'"

"Was he a dour, black man, child of grace?  Would you be afraid of him,
and he alive?"

"Yes, that's he, Nurse Ellen.  Who is it we know?"

"It's no one we know, _a lanna_.  No one at all."

"But he called, 'Reynardine!'"

"You only think so, dark childeen, you trembling there and standing by
your mother's grave.  A trick your mind played you, _machree dheelish_.
He was no one you know, or nothing to you.  Only a strange man was it,
a strange bad man."



DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

I

It must be for the thousandth time now he was sitting down at the neat
table looking out on the little lawn, and trying to get his ideas
together, trying to get something new, something startling, that would
awaken these hard-boiled men who had control of theaters, magazines,
publishing houses to the sense that he was alive, worth while,
valuable.  If he could only think up a new detective, or--or something.

Any other than he would have given up the game long ago, but he knew he
had talent--he would n't go quite so far as to say genius, but great
talent.  It was no use their turning him down all the time.  He was
certain they never read the stuff.

He was certain, too, there was some trick, some knack he had n't
discovered.  Just some little trick.  These men of national,
international fame--he could see from their faces they had no especial
brains, any more than he had.

But just some little trick he could n't get.

He had taken courses in writing, gone to schools of journalism, and
here were all his manuscripts with neat rejection slips; here was what
he thought the great American novel battered and dog-eared, a study of
the temptations of a girl in the great city; and here was his crook
drama, that some filthy reader had marked with the rim of a coffee cup.
It was enough to make a man quit.

But he would n't quit.  He 'd be as big as the biggest of them.  He,
too, would have his pictures in the papers, not gaunt and bitter as
most of them seemed, but pleasant, dignified, literary.  And his
picture would look like an author's, with its well-marked features, its
masculine little mustache, its intellectual glasses.  And he, too,
would be interviewed.  And he, too, would sign contracts involving
great sums of money.  And there would be gossip about him, too, in the
papers, where in Florida he was spending the winter vacation, what he
was doing in summer.

He would n't quit.  Had n't they all said at school and college he was
cut out to be a writer?  Had n't he gone to Europe for six months?
And, what was more, had n't he the money his father, the hardware man,
had left him?  Had n't he his home?  He could stick it out.

His home!  His wife!  If instead of these few trees, this lawn, the
outlook of the quiet sound, if instead of here he lived somewhere in
the welter of affairs, wouldn't he be better?  Somewhere things
changed, where one did not have to go three quarters of an hour in a
train to the theater.  Down town in New York.  Only trees and grass and
water and sky here.  Nothing to write about.

And his wife, Berenice--oh, she was a sweet girl, a nice girl,
but--hadn't he perhaps made a mistake?  She was so good and wholesome!
Too much?  Would n't it have been better to be married to--to an
actress, or a sculptress, or--or something.  Some one who could feel
things; who would n't smile, and be nice.  Berenice was all right, but--

And his mother.  She was a nice, darling person, but--she did n't just
understand.  She was just a mother, like anybody's mother: If she could
feel the great complex things!  But she was just loving, and everything
he did was right.

Berenice, and his mother ... the trees, the water ... essential
barrenness of life ... nothing to write about ... so unfair.


II

Because Barry had hinted it annoyed him to have her in the house while
he was trying to write, Berenice had decided to go out for an hour or
so, to give the poor lad a chance.  And for a few minutes it bothered
her to be idling, whereas there were so many little things that needed
her attention.  A house became so weary.  It needed a flick of the hand
here and there, a touch to flowers.  But the white road, and the
arching blue-green trees, and the drift of the dogwood--a cloud, not a
flower, did it seem, so delicately balanced was it in the May air--all
these took her eyes, and the immense miracle of spring drew her
thoughts from the gracious artifice of the house.  How gently, how
imperceptibly it came, a little curling wave of the west wind, and the
clearly pitched note of an adventuring bird!  It was like the moon,
spring was; a clear thin line of silver in the gray sky, like the
minute green of the waking willow-tree, and it grew ... under your eyes
was its sweet benevolence.  And it was hard to go to sleep at night, so
much was being accomplished, for fear you would miss some phase of the
return of beauty.  Oh, the little birds ... so fussy, so intense about
their nests.  The showers like great sheets of silver; and after each
the slim trees were more like pretty ladies, and the great thick trees
like pleasant stalwart men.  And the flowers came shyly, demurely, just
as young girls might come; just as she herself, Berenice, felt, acted
when she was fifteen, and was brought into a roomful of strange people.

And she stopped for an instant at the dark pool where the little
turtles were busy, swimming to and fro, a clear-cut, fine line on the
dusky water, a minute head with crystalline beads of eyes, just showing
... and if they thought you were watching them they dived--a flick and
they were gone--and if you saw clearly enough you could notice their
flippers waggle slowly as they made for the downy bed of the pool.  And
some kept fearfully quiet, sitting on stones, or on logs, and at any
quick movement you made, they plumped like stones.  And the great trees
around so much alive, so patient...  She could understand how poets of
an older, simpler age saw dryads in them.  Pan she could not
understand, nor satyrs, but dryads were sib to her, young shy women in
garments of apple-green.  You could tell a good picture of a tree from
a bad one that way: some had dryads in them and some were only wood.

So many thoughts were in her, so keenly did she feel a kinship with the
trees, with the singing birds, with the west wind that cleared the air,
that she wished she had some one to speak to about it.  But a great
shyness...  And perhaps, even, it could n't be said in words, perhaps
music.  Well, hardly even that.  She had tried to speak to Barry about
it.  But Barry had kissed her and thought her a moonstruck kid, as he
said.  Poor Barry!  Directors of periodicals were so hard on him!  It
was dreadful to hurt him that way.  Though she confessed the treason
with a shock to herself, she found it hard, well-nigh impossible, to
read what he wrote.  It was hard for her to understand artificial women
and noble men.  All she knew was nature, and that was not artificial.
Nor was it noble, either, she thought; it had just a sweet, harmonious
kindliness.  There could be nobility only where ignominy existed
too--and in nature was no ignominy.  She wished she knew more about men
and women, for Barry's sake, to understand these matters he wrote of,
passion and crime.  But dramatic passion seemed so needless in her
eyes, and crime was so sickly; she just felt a pity for it, a sense
that they, poor people, must be crazy to do such things.  Oh, she
wished she understood--could help him!  She remembered when, over a
year ago, a little periodical had decided to print one of his writings,
the letter came as the first snowflakes fell.  And she could not feel
excited with him, because in her heart, beyond her control, was some
strange rhythm.  The snow, the soft and harmonious snow ... and in her
head was a picture of nursery days, of pine-trees under a delicate
white weight, and old Saint Nicholas, whom little children called Santa
Claus, driving through a fleecy world ... his red cheeks, his white
beard, his reindeer with the silver tinkling bells.  And reindeer
brought the thought to her of squat, hairy Laplanders, fishing solemnly
near the Pole, through a little hole they had cut in the ice, while
away in the background ambled a great polar bear.  A very terrible
animal it must be, but one always thought of it as gentle as some big
old dog.

Oh, she wished she were a better woman, a woman who had her husband's
interests at heart!  People said a woman could make a man.  She
wondered how.  And it was said of some that their husbands owed their
careers all to them.  How?  But how?  And even if she knew, her
terrible shyness...  She could be intimate with dogs, and horses, and
solemn, aloof kine.  But words did n't come to her somehow.  It was
such a drawback!

And when he was disappointed, she stood there, dumb as a stone.
Nothing would formulate.  All she could think of was to lift his hand
and kiss it quietly, and oftentimes a tear would come because he was
hurt.  But she could say nothing that would make things seem easy.  All
she could think of would be to take him out in the dusky night, and
look in silence at the stars.  All the immensity of gleaming worlds ...
so scattered, so varied, and not one ugliness.  And one felt drawn out
of oneself toward the beautiful, terrific heavens, and all the worries
and troubles seemed of less consequence than the droning of a bee.  A
little sum of money lost, a petty ambition frustrated, a cheap man's
jibe, those hurt for a moment, but how little they mattered under the
clouds of stars!

And if she could take him out and be silent with him, while the
crickets sang and the little frogs croaked their funny dissonant
harmony, and earth rolled along eastward under the arching heavens...
But maybe he was right--she was only a funny dreaming kid.

She had come to the sound now, and quiet as a lake the broad stretch of
water was before her.  And here and there was a steamer, and southward
a spluttering tug pulling a line of barges rigged with square auxiliary
sails.  Her mind leaped forward to eight weeks from then, when the
regattas would begin, and from all parts of the sound, from north of
it, Marblehead even, the boats would come with white curving sails to
fight for supremacy.  Great forty-footers, and the smaller thirties,
and the fast P-boats with their immense Bermuda rigs, and little
handicap sloops, and cat-boats manned by boys in bathing-suits, all
scurrying, swishing, all in turn jibing, coming about, jockeying to go
over the line with the gun.

And then, too, soon the great blind porpoises would come gamboling,
shining like negroes, follow-my-leader.  And the bluefish would run.
And on the rocks the querulous bird population would screech and
chatter.  And one would look out for the boats going to New Bedford and
to Fall River ... their calm progress like a steady horse's, and their
lights.  And the great lumber schooners would come down from Nova
Scotia, with their blue-eyed, taciturn sailors, to anchor at City
Island.

A little quiver underneath her heart reminded her.  How should she tell
Barry she was going to have a little baby?  When should she tell him,
and what should she say?  She must be careful.  She must n't disturb
his work.  And would he be happy about it?  Or would he--would he--she
bit her lips suddenly--would he not be pleased?


III

It seemed to her that it was all one with the coming of the springtime,
the budding of the flowers, and the westward wind--the miracle of the
baby.  One was first one's own sentient self, bending to the wind with
the trees, breasting the curling waves of summer, and patiently
listening to the song of some ambitious bird, and, before you knew how,
a little thing had come nestling under your wing.  The flowers had made
you sister, and the wind protected you, and the grass was careful lest
your foot should touch a stone.  Whence did it come, the little life
that was delicate as the petal of the apple-blossom, soft as a little
bird asleep in a nest?  In summer one felt it had come over the bending
grasses and between the gentle rains, and the robins did it reverence.
And in spring it was borne on the first generous, delicate wind, and
the trees nodded their highest, newest boughs.  And in autumn the Brown
Woman of the Woods brought it, while the little chipmunks stared.  In
winter it came with a shaft of the loud, aggressive sun.  However?
Wherever?  But one moment you were yourself, alone, with only your own
problems.  And suddenly you had been trusted with something softer than
flowers, more precious than diamonds, a little molecule of life itself.
Such a trust!

Every woman had a little dream about her child.  A woman of the
tenements might see in a little parcel of flesh and blood a one-day
president of her great republic.  And another might see in him a
minister of God bearing a light to thousands.  And a third would see in
a little daughter a voice that would gush forth in immense harmony.
And some who knew the bitter tooth of want would dream of their
children as powerful merchants, with great cars and yachts.  Such rosy
stories do women think in their heads.

But all Berenice could imagine was the little daughter of fair tresses
in her small bed at the close of day, when the short Occidental
twilight hovered like a bird, and night came trudging westward with dun
feet.  Below in their drawing-room people would be assembled for dinner
or for the playing of cards, laughter and candle-light, and the glow of
an open hearth, and tobacco sending up bluish-gray smoke from little
tubes.  But Berenice would be alone with the fair child in the dim
nursery, putting her to sleep and teaching her the rhyme that is a
child's first prayer and, at the same time, a charm against evil
spirits; against great bulks in the darkness that make little children
scream; against strange gray women who take small humans from the warm
beds mothers put them in and whisk them to deep, underground burrows
where trolls and misshapen demons are, replacing them with wizened,
ill-natured changelings.  Against all the powers of darkness the little
prayer was potent:

  "Now I lay me down to sleep,
  I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
  And if I die before I wake,
  I pray the Lord my soul to take!"


And then, reverently:

  "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
  Guard the bed that I lie on!"


And when the small eyes were closed and the minute mouth had taken on
the sweet smile of sleeping, and the hands had relaxed into white,
starry flowers, she would steal downstairs to her guests, to the
gracious room where sleek, well-bred women and kindly, burly men were
gathered to dine in company or to play cards, where the bluish smoke
rose in whorls from the white tubes of tobacco, and there was soft
candle-light and tinkling glass.  And she would feel happy there,
secure.  There would be no apprehension in her.  For above, at the four
corners of the bed where the minute humanity slept were four figures of
great power, four lumbering grizzled fisherman--Matthew, Mark, Luke,
and John!


IV

The old lady watched Berenice walk down the road, pausing for a moment
in her beautiful needlework to admire her young daughter-in-law's slim,
willowy figure, the eager pose of her head, her brown, beautifully
plaited hair.  The apple-green of her dress and the blue-green of the
trees--she made such a beautiful picture, and the old lady shook her
head and sighed.

And one might imagine the old lady saying: When I was young I was as
lissome as that, as pretty, had as eager a head.  Time flies, and we
grow old.  Ah, the fine days of young womanhood!

But that was not in her mind at all: she shook her head because she
knew the heartaches, the difficulties, the terrors the young girl must
go through before she attained to the reward of women--wisdom and peace.

For they all came to that in the latter end, the old lady thought--the
girls who started out dancing, and the girls whose eyes were troubled
with thought, and the girls deep as rivers, and the shallow girls who
angled for a honeyed word.  And life, like some deft schoolmistress,
caught them and taught them and put wisdom in their heads, and in their
hearts little modest flowers, like forget-me-nots.  And the sad girls
learned laughter from little children on the floor, and the wayward
ones learned loyalty from trouble, and great emotional currents put
depths into the shallow ones.  And life seemed so hard, the present so
brutal, the future terrible as an army with banners--but one day it was
gone.  All was past.  And in retrospect it seemed so little pain to
have had, to learn such a great lesson, to come to such a sweet place!
If one came through it, it was so much worth while.

The hazards one made so much of ... Oh!  Did n't she know!

It seemed to her as she looked back now very strange that all the
little tragedies of her life appeared to have faded and all the
happiness intensified; and this was peculiar, for at the time the pain
seemed so poignant and the happiness so diverse, so hard to grasp.  A
night at a theater, for instance, twenty years ago, and a dinner before
it, and a supper afterward--how queer one could remember all that!
Even the tunes the orchestra played, the clothes one wore, what this
man said, how this woman looked.  And one thought of the night young
Barry, below, writing, was so near to death; and the utter terror, the
tragedy of that time had faded.  And one remembered only how pretty he
looked, how kind the doctor was, how Mr. Valance, her husband, had put
his hand on her shoulder in his big, kindly way.

If young people knew how these things came out, they would n't worry so
much, but there was no use telling them.  They would have to find out
for themselves.

She had never been one to admire nature, had the old lady, but one
thing she did know: she knew people and she knew life.  Berenice was
all right, a very fine girl for all her romantic thoughts, but Barry
worried her occasionally.  He was so intense about his career of
writing.  And she felt in her heart that if was not going to be a
success.  One knew, somehow.  For instance this: she could tell whether
or not a novice was going to be a great pianist, because she could see
him as a master, if he were ever to arrive; his power, his aloofness,
his concentration.  She could see a merchant.  She supposed it was a
gift, just feeling what people were.

And her son Barry below--she could not see him.  And she was n't going
to tell him, either.  Men were queer.  They bore grudges, even to their
mothers.  It was better to let him fight himself out, and be conquered,
drop; and then pick himself up, and think it over, and go to something
else, with a pang and more wisdom.  And month by month the
disappointment would pass, until the ramping of his early days was no
more to him than a quaint gesture.  And years later he would meet some
great author for a moment, and be very courteous, a little shy with
him.  But he would never tell him of the struggle on his own account,
never mention a word--ah, she knew, she knew!

Barry would be all right.  Only--only he must be broken.  All humans
must be broken, as Mr. Valance, her husband, had said horses are.  And
some horses are great race-horses, and some are hacks, and some
hunters, and some just simply for use.  But all have to be broken.  And
they are nearly all kind, nearly all good, as human beings are.  For
nearly all men and women are good, the old lady thought.  One had to
know their hearts,--their appearance, their gestures meant
nothing,--and their hearts ought to have a chance to grow.  And then
they would all be good.  Those who were n't had had the growth of their
hearts stunted somehow.  And they were n't to be hated, but pitied,
poor things.

If any one, any young person, were to know what her thoughts were--the
old lady smiled--she would say she had known no trouble in life, was
shallow, did not understand the tragedy of things.

Well, she had had her share of life; her troubles as well as the rest
of them.  She had been a very sensitive girl.  When she married Mr.
Valance, her husband, she had hardly known him,--for such was the
custom in her day, that he should satisfy her parents of his affection
rather than herself,--and when the day came to leave her father and
mother and her four brothers and her sisters, to leave the house she
had known since she was born, to leave her own virginal room, and go
away with a strange, terrifying, fascinating man--why, it was like
jumping into the sea without knowing how to swim.  In those days young
girls did not know, were scared.  And yet everything had been all
right.  She loved Mr. Valance, her husband.  No two could ever have
been closer than she and he.  And she smiled at the terror of her
leaving the home.

And before Barry was born--oh, the ghastly nights, the ghastly, ghastly
nights, of lying awake and fearing, fearing, and the hideous
unimaginable dreams!  And the birth itself, the surge of pain like some
cruel, driving knife, and strength ebbing in a fast flood!  And came
kind unconsciousness, and when she woke there was a sort of white peace
in her, and the little dark-haired boy, by some beneficent magic, was
on the nurse's broad lap.  And the strange miracle of how she had
forgotten all the pain so soon ... how little it seemed, how natural!
And how ready she would have been again.  A little daughter, she had
thought--how nice it would be!  But it was n't to be.

And when Mr. Valance, her husband, had died, for her had come, she
thought, the end of the world.  Yet now all she could remember were the
peace and trust in his quiet face, when all had gone.  And into the
room where she was alone with him there came the quiet message that all
was well.  And the hearts of people were so warm.  The doctor himself,
who had seen so many die one would have thought he would have become
callous, was so unaffectedly kind.  Even people one had thought were
enemies--or not enemies but just careless of one--showed a warmth, an
understanding.

And she had thought it impossible for her ever to be on the world
alone; but somewhence strength had come to her, and poise; and all the
fears she had when Mr. Valance, her husband, was alive, were dead now,
she a widow.  Lonely and down in grief at times, but afraid never!

And she thought to herself, with a queer little smile, of the times
when in the dark of the night, by the eerie Long Island waters, she had
gone out, crying in a little misery, praying, wishing that Mr. Valance,
her husband, would appear to her, that she might once more hear the
beloved voice, sense the big dignity, perhaps feel the kindly hand upon
her shoulder.  But she waited in vain.  Nothing came to her cries, her
prayers, her wishes.  But when she came in again, she felt she had
emptied her heart of longing and loneliness, and all the familiar
furnishings of her rooms spoke to her tactfully and friendly.

She smiled, because now she recognized--however she did it she did not
know--that what she wanted could not possibly be granted.  Just for her
alone an exception could not be made against the seemingly cruel,
tremendously wise law that the dead should be silent.  Everything was
so wise, so ordered.  And if one were to know exactly, the merchant
would leave his shop, the seamstress her broidery, the workman his
lathe.  So it was kept a curtain of mystery, with a little hedge of
terror before it.

All was well.  Life and death, all in good hands.

She had often thought to herself, sitting there, as an old person
might, that things did not seem as well as they were in her young days.
But on second thoughts she discovered they were just the same.  Life
was a constant, as Mr. Valance, her husband used to say of things.
Oftentimes while she sat in a corner and heard young people talk, she
was amused, for they seemed to think she knew nothing of modern life.
And life could not be modern or ancient.  Life was a constant, as Mr.
Valance, her husband, used to say.  They had only manufactured new
terms, discovered new angles.  She smiled as she thought of their talks
of psychoanalysis; of how one was very complex; and how one must get
rid of obsessions by discovering them and talking about them to a
specialist.  One did the same in her day.  One called the obsessions
troubles, and on one's knees one poured one's heart out to God.  And
their talk of psychic things--why, when she was a grown woman, did n't
they have the queer Eddys in Vermont, and that strange Russian woman,
Madame Blavatsky, and Home, the medium, who floated through a window,
feet first!  And she was sure that when she was young there was just as
intricate card games as bridge.  And their talk of Socialism and man's
rights!  Did they forget that Lincoln freed the slaves?  Ah, the young!

She remembered a man saying--an old man--that what was wrong with the
new generation was this: they left nothing to God.  They wanted to do
everything their own way.  Fifty years ago, he said, every one was
cognizant of God.

But were they? pondered the old lady.  Yes, they went to church.  But
did n't they go just because one went, as nowadays one goes to the
movies?  A habit.  And did the rounded sentences of the ministers mean
anything to the young?  No.  And the hymns--they were just melodies.
One sang them, as young boys sang college songs.  It was only when one
was grown, man or woman tall, and the great wolves of the world harried
one, harried until one could sense their white teeth, their red
slavering mouths, and there was a blank wall and no escape--it was only
then one felt the Immense Hand.  And rarely afterward did one speak of
it.  It seemed like a strange secret order, being initiated to God.
She was sure that it was like that to-day, as it was fifty years ago,
as it must ever have been, as it must ever be.

Looking up from her sewing an instant, she saw Berenice coming toward
the house.  It must be later than she thought.  It must be lunch-time.
They must make Barry, poor boy, stop now.  Brain work was so fatiguing
and he should n't overdo it.

She paused for a breath, watching the brown head, the apple-green
dress.  She knew the girl's secret, though Berenice had never said
anything, hinted at all about a baby.  But the little exalted look in
the eyes--

"I must say a prayer to-night," thought the old lady.


He got up from the desk.  No! it was no use.  Nothing would come
to-day.  Another fruitless morning.  If he could only find the trick
those fellows had!

Yes, but they all had something to write about, and he had nothing:
this wretched urban setting, this calm, uninteresting sound.  And he
knew nobody.  There was no encouragement, no inspiration.  His mother,
dear old lady--she knew nothing, could tell him nothing.  And his
wife--she was a dear girl, and he loved her, but--  Oh, there was
nothing to write about; no drama; no people of drama.



WISDOM BUILDETH HER HOUSE

I

Whilst her great train was picking its way carefully from the
mountain-tops of Abyssinia, eight thousand treacherous feet of height,
to the littoral of the Red Sea, the slim brown queen had experienced
only impatience.  In the cool quietness of her mountain home it had
seemed the most natural thing in the world to arise and visit the young
king of the Jews.  On every step of the long journey downhill it had
seemed natural.  In her own country it seemed right she should do as
she had chosen.  But now they had left Abyssinia, left the great
tropical forests with the gigantic candelabra trees, left the arid
cactus-covered plains, left the pleasant green valleys where water
trilled and the boxwood trees and wild roses and water cress grew, and
had come to arid Ailet by the Red Sea.  And here were great stretches
of sand and mimosa, here half-naked, cunning black men, here a heat
like a pall, here the brooding mystery of Egypt, that knows all things
and is silent to questioning.

A different world, and in the different atmosphere there came a
faltering, a waver into the heart of Balkis.  Was she a fool?  For two
miles her royal train stretched.  First, the fighting men in their
short white robes, graceful, powerful as cats; then the line of laden
camels with tinkling bells; then the great black elephants with their
gleaming black skin, their gleaming white tusks, their painted
trappings; then the litters of her women; then her own litter; a welter
of attendants, bearing the provisions of the journey and the present
she was bringing to Solomon, the young king of the Jews: spices; and
gold of Ophir; and large diamonds from the Abyssinian mines;
apes--great red-faced baboons that had the strength of ten men, and
delicate blue monkeys, pretty as birds; and peacocks that outdid
precious stones in the shimmer of their colors; and tusks of ivory,
large as the branches of great trees....  Her heart wavered, and for an
instant it occurred to her in panic to go back.  But if she returned
now, she would be dissatisfied all her life, and grow inward, and
become maybe hard as a stone, and that was against nature, for all
things grow outward, as a tree grows outward, to fill up the empty
spaces of Death....

"No! no!  I shall go on."

Up in the cool mountains decision had seemed so natural, action so
easy.  But below in humid Egypt subtleties of thought seemed native to
the weak Nilotic breeze, and she could see herself as though she were
another woman.  She could see her orphaned childhood, when the care of
all her counselors was to have her gracious and kind, and sweet as a
small bird's song.  They had instructed her that queens are not made by
crowns, but by graciousness and strength and courtesy, so that any
beholder might know she was a queen were she dressed in the garments of
her humblest slave.  And she had grown older into young maidenhood, and
wise old heads had helped her govern and take care of her wild mountain
folk, and came a few years more and she was twenty-two, and the
counselors were too old to counsel, being either querulous old men or
dotards, living in forgotten days, and Balkis herself had to rule,
being queen.  To be queen alone would have been simple.

But being queen, she was lonely, and being gracious and just, she was
wise, and being wise, questions arose in her like a spring of well
water.  Thought rose like a hawk and swept in widening gyres, but
arrived nowhere.  Thought and emotion were with her in the red Afric
dawn.  Thought and emotion were with her like the flickering lightning
and terrible thunder of the Abyssinian hills.  Thought and emotion came
with blue mountainy twilight.  And there was none to share them.  None
to ask.  None to satisfy.  Being a queen, there was none she might
consort with but kings and queens, and the kings of the states about
her were shrewd political men, who could not understand what a young
girl felt, and her young womanhood quivering like the jessamy bough....
Their eyes would be on the riches of Ethiopia; so they were out....
And the queens of Africa, outside herself, were not queens, but tribal
chieftainesses, half priestess and half prostitute, Amazonian,
untutored....  She could not talk to them.

And so she had decided there was nothing for her to do but to govern
justly, to grow old gracefully, to weep a little in private, to find it
hard to go asleep of nights, to look forward to death as a sentry
awaits the dawn, until a swart Egyptian trader had brought word of the
new king of the Jews, now David was gone.  A boy he was, they said, a
strange dreaming boy, with none of his father's delight in war, and
with a gift of strange inspired wisdom.  She was told the story of two
women, that were harlots, and how they each claimed a certain child as
theirs, and of Solomon's judgment.

"And how old is the young king of the Jews?" Sheba asked.

"Twenty-three or twenty-four."

"A year or so older than I."

And she was told how Hiram, King of Tyre, that shrewd man, was a friend
to the young prince, and how the arrogant Pharaoh of Egypt conceived it
worth his while to make a treaty with him.

"And is he married?"

"No, Sheba, he is not married," the trader vouched....


II

The girl in her said: "Go back.  They will think you are seeking love.
They will think that with your white teeth, your sloe-black eyes, your
color of fine bronze, your body, lithe and sleek and graceful as a
cat's, you want love from the king of the Jews."  And all her face
flushed at that thought, and she debated whether she should send for
the captain general of the fighting men and tell him to face his troops
about and return to her Ethiopia.  But the queen in her rose and said:
"What care I what they say?  Does Sheba need the love of any lowland
king, or plead for alliance?  Sheba is Sheba, and what Sheba does is
Sheba's business."  And the woman of her brooded softly: "I will go on.
Somewhere there is an answer to all the questions, and if he does n't
know the answer, perhaps he can help me to find them."

"And perhaps he has questions of his own," she said, "and I can help
him answer those."  A sad boyhood, she had heard his was, with his
father David droning psalms in his latter days, busy at his prayers as
a potter at his lathe, calling for mercy for his own soul....  And his
mother, the queen, who had once been wife to Uriah the Hittite, a
strange, mad old woman who walked about the palace, gibbering to
herself, her face and fingers twisting, all the white beauty that had
dazzled David upon the roof of the king's house turned now to an
awesome gray rugosity....  A house of fear, Sheba thought, a house of
silence, and she understood how Solomon could have become so wise, for
wisdom comes with the quiet tongue....

Wisdom he had, according to all reporters, but the wisdom she had heard
about was wisdom of the head and of the body.  Had he wisdom of the
heart?  Did he understand why one was now quiet as a well, now
turbulent as the sea?  Did he understand why peace should come in a
soft blue garment, and suddenly irritation rise in angry red?  Did he
understand what it was that dragged at the heart so, pulling it, it
seemed, toward the furtherest star?  And could he resolve her what she
was to do with herself?  Govern she must and govern wisely, but outside
of that was she always to be so lonely--she who was so young and strong
and beautiful?  The slave girl with the fatherless baby had more than
she, the queen.  The housewife grinding the family corn.  Each could
escape into some one else, had a refuge--all but Sheba, the queen....

"I must go on."

And so her great and gorgeous train went on through the desert, crunch
of camels' pads, shuffle of marching men, thud of lumbering elephants,
screaming of peacocks, chattering of apes....  They passed the
shimmering sands, and came to the black high rocks.  They passed
sluggish Nile, and came to the roaring cataracts.  They came to the
city of hawks and the city of Venus and the city of sacred crocodiles.
They came to Thebes with its gigantic figures, each of a single stone.
They came into the desert again, steering at night by the stars as
mariners do.  They came to the great Lake Moeris, which the Egyptians
control by locks.  They came to Memphis.  They passed the giant
labyrinth.  They passed the three great pyramids.  They passed the
Sphinx.  They came to the Great Delta.  They crossed to Ais.  They came
to Joppa.  They wended toward Jerusalem in the cool of the dawn....


III

She was in no wise impressed, somehow, by his ceremonial officers.
They lacked dignity and were familiar.  Nor did Solomon's great
captains please her.  They were not fighters; they were strategists.
They played with companies as the Persians played chess with pawns.
Her own men were her ideal of soldiers, copper-colored, muscled like
panthers; they would crash into an opposing army like their native
lightning, or they would die doggedly, their backs to the wall, their
heads broken, the blood streaming into their eyes....  Nor did all the
magnificence of the king's house please her....  There was too much,
too quickly acquired, and jumbled, no composition.  The Egyptians had
more magnificent things, and grouped them better.  Her eyes flickered
from the hall to the pale young king on his throne.  Beside him,
standing, was Nathan, the principal officer, and the king's friend, a
great frame of a man, fanatical.  And there was silence.

"I am Balkis, Queen of Sheba," she said and threw back her veil.
Solomon cast an uneasy glance at the prophet by his side.

"She is come to prove you with hard questions," Nathan spoke.

For an instant Balkis all but laughed.  Behind her stood her fighting
men, in exact ranks, rather contemptuous.  Around the hall the men of
Judah and Israel fluttered.  Winked at, nudged one another.  "From
Abyssinia she comes, to ask him questions.  See what a king we have!  A
great people, we!"  It was so like a showman with a marvel to exhibit!
"Ask him, ask him anything you like.  Go on.  Ask him."  The cadaverous
prophet!  The white, young king.  A swift stab of pathos went into
Sheba's heart.  Poor lad!  Poor king!  Poor mummer!

She smiled in the corner of her veil.  She was supposed to ask
questions, he to answer them.  Well, let the mummery go on!

"O King," her voice rang out, "what is sweeter than honey?"

"The love of pious children."

"O King, what is sharper than poison?"

"The tongue."

"O King, what is the pleasantest of days?"

"The day of profit on merchandise."

"O King, what is the debt the most stubborn debtor denies not?"

"The debt is death."

"O King, what is death in life?"

"It is poverty."

"O King, what is the disease that may not be healed?"

"It is evil nature."

She was rather ashamed for herself and for him, and her great
Ethiopians were puzzled.  But it was so evident that the poor white
king's hold on his people was this trick of wisdom.  She must help him.
She remembered quickly what history she knew of his folk.

"O King," she asked, "what woman was born of man alone?"

"Eve was born of Adam."

"O King, what spot of lowland is it upon which the sun shone once, but
will never again shine until judgment-day?"

"The bottom of the Red Sea, which clave asunder for Moses.  Then the
sun shone on the bottom and will never again shine until judgment-day."

"O King, what thing was it whose first state was wood and whose last
life?"

"The rod of Aaron, which became a writhing serpent."

She spread her slim copper hands, she bowed her sleek black head, as in
homage.

"It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of
thy wisdom.

"Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came and mine eyes had seen
it, and behold the half was not told me; thy wisdom and prosperity
exceedeth the fame which I heard.

"Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants which stand
continually before thee and that hear thy wisdom!"

And all through the king's hall went the flutter of his subjects: "Did
n't I tell you?  Did n't we say so?  A fine king we 've got.  All the
way from Abyssinia she came to prove him.  And he answered her
everything.  A great king!  A fine king!  Make no mistake!"

She moved toward the troubled young king with a smile.

"I would now commune with you on what is in my heart, great Solomon.
Let us commune alone."

His eyes probed her.  He saw her kindliness to him.  A fleeting little
smile answered her smile.  He rose to meet her.  The giant prophet
caught him by the wrist.

"My son, attend unto my wisdom," he whispered fiercely....

"The lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb, and her mouth is
smoother than oil.

"But her end is bitter as wormwood--"

She caught his whispered words, and her proud head went up, her
sloe-black eyes flashed.

"I am Balkis, Queen of Sheba."

For an instant they regarded each other with hatred in their eyes.
Sheba turned.

"Men," she called to her bodyguard.

The slim brown Ethiopes tensed their statue-like pose.  There was a
_swish_ as the short Abyssinian swords came from the oxhide scabbards.

"But I said nothing of you, great Balkis," Nathan suddenly fawned.  "I
spoke only of bad women.  You are a good woman, Balkis, a virtuous
woman.  And a virtuous woman is like a crown, great Balkis, of gold,
yea of fine gold--"

"So!"


IV

They went out alone into the garden of the figs and pomegranates.  The
bright sun of early noon came down like a shower of gold.  The doves
made their faint thunder.  The locust span his tiny wheel.  From afar
off, where the temple was a-building, came the clink of hammer on
stone, the thud of ax on wood, the yo-hoing, the grunts, the curses of
the workmen as they hoisted a beam into place....  And Solomon was shy
as a girl....

"You are wondering why I came," Balkis said.  "Will you sit down with
me?"  They sat under a great cedar-tree.  The pigeons thundered.  The
bees droned among the apricots.  The lizard flashed upon the wall.  "I
wonder myself....  But you can tell me, Solomon.  You are so wise."

"Am I?"  There was a little note of bitterness in his voice.

"Are n't you?"

"I don't know," he said.  "I--I don't know."

"But all the questions that are put, you answer them.  All the matters
of judgment you pass on.  Of course you are wise, Solomon."

"It is easy, Balkis, very easy, that sort of wisdom, for Nathan, as far
back as I can remember, has been dinning precepts and examples into my
ears.  And at times, when things are difficult, comes a little
inspiration, like a little unpremeditated bar on a musician's psaltery.
And the tricks of reading a riddle are no more than the mason's tricks
of arranging stones.  If the clouds be full of rain, they empty
themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south or
toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall
be.  And if that is wisdom, then I have wisdom.  But I know not what is
the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her
that is with child."

"Poor Solomon!"

"O Balkis, I wanted to go out with the young men, and to understand
what they all understand and I do not understand: the way of an eagle
in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; to hunt and fish with
them and know the way of a ship in the midst of the sea.  But I never
could, Balkis, for while still a boy Nathan made of me a man, an old
wise man.  Woe to thee, O land, he prophesied, when thy king is a
child, and thy princes eat in the morning!  So I 've always been a man,
Balkis, a wise old man."

"Dear, poor Solomon!  Never were young."

"Never, dear Balkis, never.  I must never be young, never do a wild
boyish thing.  Dead flies cause the ointment of an apothecary to send
forth a stinking savor; so doth a little folly him that is in
reputation for wisdom and honor.  O Balkis, the long wise days!"

"Poor Solomon!  Poor dear Solomon!"

"O Balkis," he cried suddenly, "you came from afar to hear my wisdom,
and you heard a little mouse-like noise.  And you wanted to commune
with me on what was in your heart, and I 've shown you my own heart,
that is like a troubled pool.  Madness is in my heart while I live, and
after that I go to the dead.  O Balkis, all is vanity and vexation of
spirit."

"Hush! hush dear Solomon!"

And very suddenly his body broke in sobs, and his dark head fell on her
leaning shoulder.  There was a mist in her Arab eyes as she held him,
as she patted him:

"Hush, dear Solomon!"


V

And in the dusk of day, when the master masons and their helpers had
gone, he brought her to the temple he was building to his god, the
great temple that Hiram, the trader king of Tyre, was embellishing for
the reward of twenty cities in the land of Galilee.  And Balkis's eyes
flashed with anger at the cunning of the Phoenician king.  It was such
a shame to take advantage of the boy!  Poor wise-foolish king!  He was
like a child showing his toys.

"See these brass bases, Balkis, with the borders of lions and oxen and
cherubim.  And the brazen wheels at each base.  They say there are
cunning brass-workers in India, but surely there is no more beautiful
work than this.  Surely they cannot beat this."

"Of course not, my dearest.  Of course not."

"And come with me, Balkis, to where the watchmen are, and I will show
you marvels such as you never saw before: an altar of gold and a table
of gold and ten candlesticks of pure gold with the flowers and the
lamps and the tongs of gold; and bowls and snuffers and basins and the
spoons and the censers of pure gold.  Come."

They went toward the king's house.  On the way Solomon stopped suddenly
and looked at his temple.

"O Balkis," he asked, "you have come through Egypt.  How much bigger is
my temple than the pyramids and labyrinth?  I 've heard so much of
them."

"Bigger?"

"Yes, how much bigger?"

She looked at the little building, twenty cubits broad, sixty cubits
long.  Twelve paces one way, forty another.  For an instant laughter
bubbled in her, but gave way to pathos, and her sloe-black eyes were
wet again.  O poor lad!

"Is it very much bigger than the pyramids, Balkis?" he asked eagerly.

"Oh, lots bigger.  Much."

"Why, Balkis, you are crying.  Are you lonely?"

"Yes, a little homesick," she lied again.

He came toward her and kissed her, in kindness, but the touch of lips
fired, startled them both, sent their blood pounding in the soft Syrian
gloom.

"O Balkis!" his voice trembled.  "O Balkis!"

"Solomon!" she uttered softly.  "Dear Solomon!"


VI

Around the king's house the little winds of springtime hovered, the
little moon of May was in the air.  Came the rustle of the grasses, and
the minor of the frogs, and the barking of cub foxes.  All the
constellations hung in a cloud and the sickled moon was in the
west--stars and moon and purple night sky, like some rude mosaic.  And
from the king's room came the pale gold of candles and the murmur of
voices in exaltation.  And beneath the king's casement Nathan writhed
in fear and anger and pain.

"O Balkis," came Solomon's voice, "you are wonderful.  You are like a
company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.

"Your cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, your neck with chains of
gold."

"O Solomon," her voice half whispered, half chanted, "a bundle of myrrh
are you unto me.  My well beloved!  He shall lie all night betwixt my
breasts.

"My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of
Engadi."

"Balkis, you are fair, my beloved; behold, you are fair, you have
dove's eyes ... fair, yea, pleasant...."

"As the apple-trees among the trees of the wood, Solomon, so are you
among the sons of man.  I sat down under your shadow with great
delight, and your fruit was sweet to my taste.  O dear Solomon, your
eyes are closing.  You are drowsy.  Sleep, heart.  O ye daughters of
Jerusalem, I charge you by the roes and by the hinds of the field, that
ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please."

"I am not sleepy, Balkis; I am only thinking.  O beloved, if we could
only go away from here.  Go away together--rise up, my love, my fair
one, and come away.

"For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;

"The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is
come; and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

"The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the
tender grape give a good smell.  Arise my love, my fair one and come
away."

"O Solomon, if you only would," came Balkis's voice, pleading.
"Listen, my beloved.  In Africa I have a great kingdom, and it could be
greater did I want it so.  It is on a high mountain and its
fortifications are the lightnings on the hills.  And from the hills my
men can sweep down on all Africa.  And there is reverence for me from
the giant Ethiops and from the pygmies of the warm forests.  Come with
me, Solomon, come with me to a cooler, fairer kingdom.  In the lowlands
there are vineyards, and the vines flourish, and the tender grapes
appear, and the pomegranates put forth; there will I give thee my loves.

"And the mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of
pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my
beloved.

"O Solomon, come to Africa.  Come to Africa with Sheba."

"O Balkis, what of my people, my poor people?"

"They can come, too, Solomon.  There is welcome for them.  They crossed
the Red Sea once; they can cross it again."

"But my temple, Balkis?"

"O Solomon, listen.  I will set the Abyssinian millions against the
Pharaoh of Egypt, and they will make Egypt a waste land, as they did
once before.  And they will bring back the Egyptians in bondage, and
the Egyptians will build you a temple, Solomon, a temple worthy of you,
for the Egyptians are cunning builders.  They will exceed their
pyramids.  For you I will conquer Egypt, Solomon.

"O Balkis, you are beautiful as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem.  But you
are terrible, Balkis, terrible as an army with banners."

"That is nothing, Solomon.  That is the smallest gage of love.  O
Solomon, I have found something in my heart.  I have found love.  Many
waters cannot quench it, neither can the floods drown love; if a man
would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be
contemned.

"Come with me, Solomon.  Make haste, my beloved.  Be like to a roe or a
young hart on the mountains of spices.  Come to Africa."

He arose and paced the floor.  Without, Nathan could hear the troubled
footsteps.

"I am afraid, Balkis.  I am afraid."

"Of what, dearest one?"

"Afraid, just, Balkis.  Afraid of Nathan, afraid of the new strange
land.  Afraid for the temple.  Afraid of God."

"Afraid?  Do not be afraid, Solomon.  Awake, O north wind," she
chanted, "and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices
thereof may flow out.  Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his
pleasant fruits."

Solomon stood by the window in distress, eager, afraid.

"Hiram, King of Tyre, will be angry."

"The King of Tyre," Sheba laughed, "will not be angry with me.  Hiram
is shrewd.  He is a trader, not a fighting man."

"Are you sure, Sheba?"

"Yes, certain."

"Then I will--then I will--"

The voice of Nathan rose under him in an angry whisper:

"There was a young man void of understanding, ... and there met him a
woman subtle of heart.

"And she caught him and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto
him:

"'I have peace offerings with me....

"'I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works,
with fine linen of Egypt.

"'I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon....'

"With her fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of
her lips she forced him.

"He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as
a fool to the correction of the stocks.

"Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare,
and knoweth not it is for his life...."

"O Balkis, do you hear anything?  Do you hear anything without the
window?  Do you hear a hissing as of a serpent aroused?"

"I hear nothing, Solomon.  I hear nothing but the little murmur of the
trees.  Come from the window.  Come over here and kiss me with the
kisses of your mouth, for your love is better than wine.  Put your left
hand under my head, Solomon, and let your right embrace me--"

"Don't you hear anything, Balkis?  Are you sure?"

"There is nothing, Solomon, O white and ruddy, O chiefest among ten
thousand."

"No, there is nothing.  I thought for a moment--"

Again the voice of Nathan came like the strokes of a sword:

"... O King, attend to the words of my mouth.

"Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.

"For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been
slain by her.

"Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death."

"Oh!" went a long shudder from the king.

"What is it, Solomon?  Does anything affright you?"

"No, no, Balkis."

"Then come over to me, Solomon.  Come where I can see your face.  Your
countenance is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.  Come."

"Remember your father, David," came the voice beneath the window, "son
of Jesse, turned from wisdom.  Remember how his chiefest joy, Absalom
his son, died.  Remember how he stood against God, the prophet of the
Lord, and the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even
to the time appointed, three days' time; and there died of the people
from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.

"And the angel of the Lord stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to
destroy it....  Remember!"

"Oh!"

"What is it, dearest?  What is wrong?  Have I done anything to offend
you, to hurt you?"

"Remember Samson, judge of Israel, and how he loved a woman in the
valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah, and he told her all his heart.

"And remember his end, how the Lord was departed from him, and the
Philistines took him and put out his eyes--"

"O-o-o-o-h!"

"--and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass--"

"A-a-a-a-h!"

"Solomon, dearest Solomon, why do you cry?"

"--and he did grind in the prison house ... and make them sport...."

With a loud cry the young king burst from the room and fled down the
corridors, his, feet pattering like the feet of foxes on the run, his
heart crying out in sudden terror.  "Where are you going, Solomon?
Where are you gone?" came the voice of the young queen.  "O head of
most fine gold, O eyes of doves, O cheeks as a bed of spices, whither
are you gone?  O lips like lilies, O hands as gold rings, why do you
leave me?"  So all night long she cried, and wandered aimlessly.  "You
called me your sister, your spouse, your love, your dove, your
undefiled," she wept piteously, "and now you are gone."  She went
through the garden, while Nathan crouched in the undergrowth.  "You
were like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with
all the powders of the merchant, and now you are gone."  She wandered
through the dark streets.  "O locks that are curly and black as a
raven, where are you now?"  And the dawn broke and the shadows fled
away, and still she cried: "O Solomon, where are you, Solomon?  Make
haste, my beloved!"  But he never came.  "Saw ye him whom my soul
loveth?" she asked the watchman.  But they drove her away.  "O ye
daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, tell him, that I am sick
of love..."  But he never came.


VII

Without, there were the grunts of her men as they strapped the packs of
the elephants, the snarl of camels as they rose to their pads and
turned to bite at their loads, the shuffle of the troops as they lined
for the long night march, the quick gruff orders of the captains, the
canter of horses.  Within, Sheba stood very erect in the great hall.
The poor white king writhed on his throne.  Nathan stood by his side,
erect and afraid.

"And I said--" Sheba's voice was quiet--"oh, you who were as my
brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find you
without, I would kiss you, I would not be despised.

"For I thought I was set as a seal upon your arm, and that your love
was as strong as death.

"I rose and went about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I
sought you, whom I thought my soul loved, but I found you not.

"The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they
wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veils from me--

"Me, Sheba!"  Her eyes flashed.  Solomon quailed in his seat.  The
prophet made a propitiatory gesture.

"Oh, do not fear, Nathan."  Sheba smiled.  "I came not to conquer, but
to find wisdom.  I found it."

She paused an instant.

"Before I go, let me give you, Solomon, called the wise, some wisdom of
the heart.  And you, Nathan the prophet, let me prophesy.  You might
have had one woman, Solomon, to love you all your life, but the day
will come when you will seek my face among a thousand women, and never
have me.  You might have a temple that would have made the pyramids
seem like outhouses, but one day your temple will be a little broken
wall.  And your people might have been the conquerors of Africa, but
one day they will be helots in the Babylonian land.  You have the
wisdom of the shrewd and pious, Solomon, that can never meet the
generous hand with the grateful heart."

She turned and swept out of the hall.  At the gates she stopped and
bowed mockingly.

"O King, live forever!"


VIII

All afternoon the east wind had been blowing, cold, bitter as aloes,
and a great cloud-bank raced after the sun westward, until only a
little space in the western horizon was clear where the sun went down.
The voices of the land were stilled, the minute thunder of the pigeons,
the whirring of crickets.  Nor had the leaves of the trees their lively
murmur, but stood fast and flat, like set sails.  One could hardly
believe that the winter was past and summer coming, for all was dreary,
dreary....

Against the great red mushroom of the setting sun, the last of the
homing caravan of Sheba showed.  In the mind's eyes of the young king
and the old prophet as they stood by the unbeauty of stone and brick
and gray mortar that was the unfinished temple, they could see the
angry camels, the lumbering elephants, the dancing horses, the swinging
men, and the brown comeliness of the young queen's handmaidens, the
straight backs of her fighting men.  And the wind from the east blew
through the land, blew through the heart of Solomon....  In a minute
now they would disappear over the desert's edge.  All seemed somehow
tragical, like sailors leaving a great stricken ship, or glory passing
from the land of its abiding....

"Oh, Nathan," pleaded the young king, "tell me she lied.  Tell me I
shall not have a thousand women and be a bitter, loose old man."

"O King, you shall find a virtuous woman.  And her price will be far
above rubies."

"Will she be as kind as Sheba was?"

"She will arise while it is yet night, and give meat to her household,
and a portion to her maidens....  She will consider a field and buy it:
with the fruit of her hands she will plant a vineyard."

"Will she be as well-favored, as beautiful as--as Sheba was?"

"Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the
Lord, she shall be praised."

"I suppose so.  I suppose--you are right, Nathan, but--"  The last of
the caravan disappeared over the edge of the desert, and as though it
were accompanying them, being a friend to them, the sun disappeared,
too.  A great coldness and darkness and dreariness came over the land,
so that Solomon looked up in surprise.  There was no moon....



THE PARLIAMENT AT THEBES

All around us, now, is the occult night of Egypt, and we sense that we
are in a place we have known in dreams and desires, and perhaps seen a
drawing of in some childhood's book.  Before us we sense--we do not
see, so little light does the moon behind the rolling clouds give
us--an immensity of sand.  In some places there are little hills; and
in others billows as of the sea, and here a rude terrace, and there a
minute cliff.  Everywhere is the sand; live sand, not dead.  And
westward, we know, it rolls onward like the sea, through the width of
Africa, through the Sahara, reaches Timbuktu, the secret city, and the
jungle takes up the land, and rolls to the Gold Coast, where the
Atlantic booms in great, curling surf.

And south of us is Africa, too, the crags of Abyssinia, the great belt
of Rhodesia, and the plains where Kaffirs dig for diamonds, and the
great veldts the Boers have tamed, and Table Mountain, that old
navigators know, and the cape they have called Good Hope.  And
southward and eastward is the pearly haze of Madagascar.

And north of us the desert slopes away to where Alexandria was, to
where the still Mediterranean is, which has no tides, and Tyre and
Sidon flourished, that now are dead; and Carthage of the Phoenicians
was, whence black Hannibal set forth against the eagles of Rome--and
was conquered and yet lives, so great his name is.  And here was the
empire of the Moors, the slim bronze people who struck Spain in a great
shattering wave, and from whom Charlemagne got glory in battle.

All these are dead now, and the moon shines over dead cities, dead
heroes, and great empires that are dead, and buried under shifting
silver sands.  But the land we are in is not dead; eternal Africa,
eternal Egypt.

And where we are now, it is old, the events of history being like the
trivialities of a summer day.  We sense that Egypt is older than
Mohammed, whose revelation is law there now, and older than the Little
Lord who fled hither from Palestine with Joseph and Mary, older than
the painted kings who sleep in pyramids; older than the pyramids
themselves; older than the Hebrews who helped build them; older than
Moses, who revolted and used black magic against the Pharaoh of his
time; older than the tradition of yellow shaven priests; older than
Isis and Osiris whom they worshiped with polished ritual--older, and
younger, than this; eternal.

Above our heads now there is an occasional beam of the moon, and in
front of us the plain of sand that extends to the little hillocks and
minute cliffs the wind has made.  And back of us is the broad and
shallow Nile, where we hear an occasional lap of a little wave, and a
splash as of some small fish jumping.  And here and there are isolated
palm-trees.

And there are no men, anywhere, but there is a sense of men.  We know
there are men in the cities to the north of us, men and women dancing
in great blazing hotels, men on great liners going eastward through the
canal De Lesseps made, men south of us at camp fires in the jungle, men
west of us on caravans to Timbuktu.  But here, and near here, men there
are none.

There is a pocket of clearness in the clouds for a second and the moon
shines through, and we see on the plain before us such assembly of life
as only Noah saw when he took the creatures of the world in seven by
seven and two by two, on board his great ship.  In a great orderly
gathering they are there, patient, silent.  The bears are there, the
brown bear, and the little black bear.  And the moorland ponies, and
the deer are there, great elks with horns like sails, and the little
deer of parks, and they of the cat tribe, with sleek furs and green
eyes, and the fox with his brush, and the lanky, wide-eyed hare, and
the rabbit children do be loving.  They are all gathered there.

And the kine of the field are there, patient, stupid-looking.  And the
great monster of the river, the hippopotamus, and the armored creature
that has the horn on its nose.  And the last of the buffaloes.  And the
great springing thing of Australia that carries its young in a pouch,
it is there.  And the solemn sheep.

And back of that is an infinity of little creatures, the furry little
creatures of the woods, who run when approached.  They are there.  All,
all are silent, patient, a little puzzled, one fancies.

In front of this gathering, forward and a little apart, is a manner of
deputation.  The lion, who pads around a little, and in whose eyes
there is anger.  The great black and amber tiger, who is still but for
the significant movement of the immense tail, and the elephant, that
seems like some gigantic carven thing.  And the crocodile lies in the
sand, like some black sea-beaten log.  And the polar bear is there with
black dots for eyes.  And the horse is still as in a stall.  And next
to the elephant the dog sits.

And they are all there, gathered for some occult reason, in the night
of Egypt, under the thin twilight of the clouded moon.

And another beam of moonlight comes, and we see that the Angel of the
Lord has appeared somewhence and stands before them.

As we see the Angel of the Lord, one of the illusions of our childhood
vanishes.  He is not a shining figure armed with terror and majesty.
True, he has wings and a sword and a white robe, and is of stature
above mortal.  But, on the other hand, he has a great red beard, and
his fingers are gnarled.  There is something shy in his appearance, and
kindly.  And about him there is something of disappointment.  One gets
the impression that once he was a very great angel indeed, but in
latter centuries he has drifted into a sort of back-water.

If he were a man and not an angel, with his red beard and gnarled
fingers and shy ways, he might be an old-fashioned farmer who cared
more for his land than for the price of corn, and who would allow no
tractors or mechanical appliances on his place, still having faith in
the firm hands of workmen, and the strength and canniness of horses.
He is evidently embarrassed, and not quite at home, and it is easily
seen that he is more accustomed to looking at the crack in a horse's
frog, and tending sick ewes, and herding homeless dogs, than facing
emotional tension such as seems to be present.

He comes forward shyly, his brow wrinkled in an embarrassed smile.  And
the dog smiles back at him, opening a laughing mouth and wagging its
tail.  And the horse gives a little whinny.  But the rest are silent.
The elephant regarding him with a sort of kindly contempt, and the
crocodile watching him with ophidian distrust.  But the lion is warm
with anger and the tiger dangerously cold with it.  The great white
bear is serious.

The Angel of the Lord speaks.  His voice is soft and his speech
halting.  And we have a sudden chill of horror as we recognize his
accent as Irish.  Not quite Southern Irish, and not distinguishably
Northern Irish--neutral Irish.

"Well, now, this is an unusual thing, an out-of-the-way thing, I might
say....  I ... I hope I see you all well?"

There is a rustle of the little creatures back of the deputation.  And
in the circle before the angel the dog is wagging his tail, and the
horse throwing up his head.  But silence.

"I take it there is something on all your minds, so!  Well, let you
speak up, now, and let me hear what it is.  It isn't the weather:
that's elegant.  And it can't be the crops.  I was talking to the Angel
of the Crops last night, and devil a better season has he seen since
the night of the big wind."

He gets no answer.

"It's queer and shy you 've got all of a sudden.  And why should you be
shy with me?  Sure there 's never anything come between us since I was
put over you.  And have n't I always been your friend?  Let one of you
speak up, now.  How about yourself?"  He turns to the lion.  "The king
of beasts, they call you.  Let you be speaking, now, for the crowd."

All around us now is the occult night of Egypt.  Live sand and the
little wind among the hillocks, and back of us the antique Nile.  Here
first was magic.  And here first the half-gods were worshiped under the
guise of beasts; of the cat and of the crocodile, and of others.  And
here is the monument of the half-god, the Sphinx, that is woman and
animal, beauty and terror.

And as we listen, the beasts speak, and to our human mechanics the deep
vibrations are translated into human sounds, and the voice of the lion
is as the voice of some great one of our race speaking in anger.  And
in the deep rumble we can hear thunder:

"In the place where I live by the great lake there is lately come a
man."  So the lion!  "He is a trading man.  His legs are bandy.  He is
rarely shaven.  In the morning his eyes are bleary.  He blinks at the
green light of dawn.

"And in the green glade where he is come he has builded a house.  He
has littered the ground with mangled boughs of trees, with papers, with
tin cans which are emptied of his food.  And the winds cannot clean
that place, nor the rains wash the obscenity away.

"And all day long this man sits behind his counter in the little shop
and barters with the black man, giving knives and beads and cloth for
the skins of the animals whom it is allotted to the black man to kill.
And giving him white man's liquor.

"And the white man drinks his own liquor, and when his heart is high
with it, he takes his rifle and comes to seek me--for he has to seek
me; I and all the clean things of the land avoid him, so little kin is
he to us.

"And if he kills me for his sport, my lioness will come and he will
kill her, too, and what shall become of our little tawny cubs?

"Why should this man come into our clean land, and make unbeautiful the
dells, and stalk me that he may boast to other drinking men: 'I have
killed the king of beasts'?"

"Ay!  Ay!"  The angel is disturbed.  "He does make the place look bad.
And true for you, he does go after you.  I understand.  I understand
fully, but--"

And now the tiger has arisen, and his speech comes sibilant, with a
little snarl:

"They who come up the Hooghly are not unshaved but clean.  They are
precise, languid men.  They come for gain in the country.  They do not
barter in shops, but gain comes to them.  They govern, and for being
governed the brown men of India pay tribute and tax.

"And when the languid men from over the sea grow tired of governing,
they go out to seek adventure.  They send out the brown Indian men on
foot to rouse me from the jungle sleep.  And they follow with guns on
our brother the elephant, and when I am driven into the open, and stand
there dazed with the sun, they shoot at me from the back of our brother
the elephant.

"And was it for this I was made, given great emerald eyes, given amber
skin with great black stripes, given silken muscles, and claws like
knives, to be driven out of my warm green jungle into the blinding sun,
and be killed by languid men?"

"Well, now, you know what they say; if they did n't kill you, you 'd
kill them."

"How many have I killed, except in defense?  Is it sport for me to
leave the cool, moonlit glades, and come to the hot cities to kill men?
If I want fighting, are there not the wild boar and my brother the
elephant?  And if I want food, is man as succulent as the young kid?"

"Ay, there 's a lot in that.  And what is your complaint?"  He turned
to the great carven elephant.

"I am the wisest, the strongest, the most dignified of all.  I live on
the shoots of young trees, and raid sometimes the crops, but I kill
nothing except in terror or defense.  And once they sought me out in
the secret places for great ivory teeth, and there was great danger.
And it was either kill or be killed.

"And now they trap me with cunning.  Now there are helot elephants
trained to decoy the brethren of the warm woods, and traps to hold us.
And when they have made us fast they starve us cruelly.  And they bring
us across waters and exhibit us, and the clown and the yokel pay their
copper pennies to gaze at the wise and strong in captivity.  And some
greasy man pouches the wages of our prison.  Was it for this we were
made wise and kindly and strong?"

The angel is embarrassed.  He looks right and left.  He turns in relief
to the great white bear:

"Sure, now, what complaint can you have?  There 's nobody going to
shoot at you from the back of the elephant.  And there's no man going
to open a shop where you are.  Begor, 't is few customers he 'd have
barring the sea-gulls.  And whenever you get killed, 't is your own
fault.  It's your curiosity brings you to where they can get a shot at
you.  If you 'd stick around your icebergs you 'd be better off.  Sure,
you lead the life of a lord's lady.  What brings you here at all?"

"I come for the little seals, and our sister the whale.  They cannot
walk.  And they are in great trouble."

"I know.  I know.  Sure, my heart's just in chains for them."

"The seals huddle on the rocks with their young.  They huddle and
tremble, and each sinister boat in the Arctic seas is a menace.  And
the seas are wide, and the patrols are few."

"I know.  I know."

"The black boats come, and the men with rifles."

"Ah, now, don't be talking!  Don't I know!"

"And our sister the whale skulks in black seas--she who once greeted
the sun in the morning.  And now seldom appears--who once loved to bask
like a cat.  She is haunted in her own ocean until she cannot show her
steaming fountains.  And as a people, she is a slender people, and will
soon die."

"A great and terrible loss, surely.  Sure, I 'm trying to forget, and
you 're reminding me.  And you?"

"I have no complaint," uttered the crocodile.  "They rarely kill me
with guns.  They seldom capture me.  And there are always small black
children bathing in the Nile.  And boats get upset often.  I have no
complaint," he leered.

"Do you know--" the angel is severe--"I never liked you.  And what use
you are on this earth is more than I can see.  Do you know," he said,
"I 've half a mind to hoof you back into the river.  I have so.  Now,
here 's one has a complaint."  He turned to the horse.  But the horse
shook its head.

"No complaint, and you the hardest-worked of them all!  And the rest of
these lazy devils doing nothing but lolling around in the sun.  And
you, my darling?"

The dog uttered a joyous bark.

"You have no complaints, either."

"Except," the dog pleaded, "that they should n't muzzle me in the heat
of the day."

"Well, now, boys--" the angel was awkward with his hands--"I take it
you 've all got a complaint to make against man.  You object, I infer,
to his shooting at you with guns, except, as he is entitled to, in
self-defense.  And I take it our friend the elephant also objects to
being exhibited.  On the whole, you object to the present attitude of
man.  Now, what do you want me to do?"

"We want you," the lion said, "to have God make man stop attacking us."

"Well, now--" the angel shifts from one foot to the other--"well, now,
you 've touched on a very delicate situation.  On all subjects, of
course, you 'll find God kind--I might say, to a degree.  But the
subject of Man is just a wee bit touchy.

"God, you know, is very much interested in Man.  He thinks a lot of
man, and He is very much inclined to let man have his own way.

"So whether He 'd listen to a complaint against man or not, I don't
rightly know.  Personally, between me and you, I think it might be
dangerous to put it that way.

"But I 'll tell you what I 'll do.  I 'll wait until some fine day when
they tell me He 's in good humor, when He's pleased about Man having
thought out some new fine scheme, or made a discovery, and then I 'll
tackle Him, nice and easy.

"Yes, I 'll take it up some day, and I 'll see what I can do.  I 'm
sure if I can get Him in a good humor, I can do something.  Will that
satisfy you?"

"It will not," said the animals.

"Well, then, what do you want me to do?"

"We want you," the tiger's sibilant purr came, "to go from us to God
now, to-night."

"Och! have sense!  You don't know what you 're asking.  I suppose you
think I 've only got to knock at the door and ask God to come out and
talk it over, and offer Him a pinch of snuff, maybe, and ask Him how
the weather 's agreeing with Him.  Do you know this wee earth is only
one of a million?  Of course you can't comprehend that, being only
animals and having no reason."

There is something like a snort from the elephant.  The Angel of the
Lord ventures a timid glance in that direction, but says nothing.  The
angel is rather in awe of the elephant, as a mother might be of a
genius child.  He switches to a different point:

"Besides, I suppose you think there are only a few angels of us in
it--myself and the Angel of the Changing Seasons, and the Angel of the
Growing Crops, and the Angel of the Rivers and Streams, and the Angel
of the Five Oceans.  Well, let me tell you, there's archangels, and
there's powers and dominions, and cherubim and seraphim, and God knows
what else.  And there's angels you never heard of: there's the Angel of
the Progress of Education, and there 's the Angel of Economic
Conditions, and the Angel of Atomic Energy.  All very clever
fellows--geniuses, you might say.  And there 's the Angel of Arts and
Crafts, a sloppy-looking lad I would n't be caught talking to.

"And there 's English angels, all very superior, and Italian angels,
slick as be-damned; and Russian angels are always sighing and groaning
and drinking tea; and American angels, brisk lads would convince a
dying man he was the devil and all for strength and energy.  And me
nothing but a poor sort of fellow that knows nothing but animals; you
see, I 'd better be keeping my mouth shut in that kind of assembly.

"I 'll tell you what I will do.  I 'll get through my work early, and
contrive to hang around the squares and gardens of heaven, and any one
of these days the Grand Man Himself will be passing by and He 'll see
the glint of my old red whiskers, and He 'll stop the archangels and
the powers and dominions, and come over, so kindly He is."

"'Where have you been hiding yourself, Michael John?' He 'll say.  'And
how's all your care?'

"'They 're fine, Sir.  They 're grand,' I 'll say.  'Sure, 't is to the
queen's taste they are--barring a wee bit of trouble that's not worth
mentioning.'

"'And, sure, what's troubling you, my poor lad?'

"''T is not worth troubling your Deity about.  'T is not so!'

"'Out with it now, Michael John!' Himself will say.

"''T is that my little people, Sir, do be worrying hard that man is
after them a bit strong, and if Yourself would just direct him to be a
wee bit easy'--and I 'll tell Him what you all say.

"Is n't that the jewel of a plan?  Is n't that the great scheme
entirely?"

"We think it's rotten!" champed the crocodile.

"Well, that's all I can do," the angel told them.  "If you 've got a
better plan--"

"We have decided," the lion rumbled, "that if you could do nothing, we
could.  We can stalk man as he stalks us.  We will not wait for him to
come out; we will descend upon him.  We will lie in wait for him in the
way.  I shall come to the villages with my kind and the spotted
leopards that purr like the rumbling of drums, and the striped hissing
snakes; and the rhinoceros shall lumber through the streets, and the
great river-horse shall no longer avoid his frail boats but seek them."

"And my brother the elephant will crush him beneath his terrible
knees," the tiger snarled, "and trample his little houses.  And the
wild boar with tusks like knives will strike at him from the ground.
And from the jungle I will come forth with the moon, and when dawn
comes there will be wailing, if any are left to wail, and the small
winged things of the jungle will assault him night and day, and there
will be terror through the land."

"And there will be terror through the sea," the white bear prophesied.
"Our sister the whale will no longer flee but fight, and the sails of
ships will quiver and the bulwarks give.  And we will push icebergs in
the paths of iron ships.  The millions and millions of herring and cod
will help.  And the swordfish will founder the life-boats.  And out of
the gray-green depths of the sea the devil-fish will arise, his long,
seeking tentacles over the gunnels--"

"Oh, childer, childer dear!" the angel implored.

"And our cousins the birds will help us," the lion took up the litany.
"The eagle and the hawk in their strength, and even the little sparrows
in their number.  They will buffet with wings, they will peck with
their sharp beaks, the innumerable folk of the air."

"And from the North," the tiger promised, "the wolves will come out
with their red eyes, their slavering fangs, and the fox will revolt,
with his teeth sharp as a dog's."

"And the things of the field will revolt," the bear went on, "the
patient kine, the sheep and goats, and the vibrations of battle will
put panic on the horse so that he will smash his traces with his hoofs,
and smash men's heads.  And the turmoil will craze the dog, so that he
will attack those he loves."

"For God's sake, children dear, will you stop breaking my heart!"

"Death and terror on the land!" prophesied the lion.

"Death and terror on the sea!" promised the great white bear.

"My dears, will you let me put sense at you?  Will you listen to me a
moment?" the angel pleaded.  "'T is for your own sakes I ask.  Will you
just listen?

"What will become of you if you do all this?

"Don't you know that man will come against you with all his weapons and
mechanical contrivances, his poison gas and his torpedoes, and wipe you
off the face of your own earth?  Childer dear, you have no idea of the
terrible fellow he is at all.  Myself, angel and all as I am, when I
see some of those fellows coming hell-for-leather in their motor-cars,
I leap like a hare out of their way, I do so.  And oftentimes I 'm
shaking in the legs for hours after it.  I don't mind telling you.  He
'll kill you surely, childer dear."

"He 'll kill us anyway," fluted the elephant.  "What matter to-day or
to-morrow or a century from now?  We die.  What of the Irish elk, with
horns like banners, so proud in his green pastures?  What of the great
buffalo, lord of the plains?--where is he?  If we die, let us die
together, fighting shoulder to shoulder!"

"Besides, maybe it's worse than man you 'd have."

"What is worse than man?"

"Maybe God Himself would come down against you, maybe," the angel's
voice falls to a sacred whisper; "maybe He will uncover His face!"

There is a movement of awe, or terror among the animals.  The silent
multitude back of the speakers rustles like leaves.  The lion speaks:

"Even that we will brave, if we cannot have justice."

For a little while they look at one another in awed tension.  The
animals are frightened, the angel is frightened.  One would think they
were terrified by their temerity, and were awaiting the avenging
thunder of God.  The angel plucks up courage.  He gives a little
nervous laugh.

"Now, here we are, my dear little people, making fools of ourselves as
usual; letting our feelings run away with us.  You 'd think it was at a
political meeting you were, with you giving out manifestos and
ultimatums, and wanting to die.

"Let us get down, now, to facts.  Let us examine what material we have,
and draw deductions.

"We were all agreed that we are here by the wisdom of God, and being
here in that wise, are subject to his wishes in every way.  Even old
Go-by-the-ground--" he looks at the crocodile--"knows that."

"Now, from what I 've heard from the angels who are higher up,--from
them, let me tell you, that are absolutely on the inside,--God designs
to make out of man the perfect being.  He intends to combine your
bravery--" he turns to the lion--"and your wisdom--" to the
elephant--"with your beauty"; he is addressing the tiger.

"What about me?" champs the crocodile.

"Och, be damned to you!  Man," he goes on didactically, "is essentially
a creature of progress.  He is the only being that builds houses--"

From the background comes a shrill squeak from the beaver.

"I mean houses with rooms--"

There is the angry droning of bees.

"What I mean is this: houses with fireplaces and pots and pans and what
not.  None of us will deny," he finishes lamely, "the enormous progress
of man."

"I deny it," the lion stormed.  "Can I forget the great black armies of
the South, the glistening men with the silver armlets and the short
keen spears?  Not even of me were they afraid, those!  Their drums
resounded through veldt and plain, They asked only of the earth what
they needed for their good.  And when they hunted they hunted fair.
They matched their strength against our speed.  And their knowledge
against our knowledge.  And at night they sang and they danced beneath
the moon.

"And now they are farm servants to the men who come overseas.  They are
not clean, as they once were.  Their bodies that once were naked and
glistening are caked with mud and covered with rags.  And some of them
are driven into the bowels of the earth, and the sunlight and the
moonlight they were born to is kept from them.  And they dig diamonds
for men who are not satisfied with the luster of stars.  And they who
once fought me in the open with a spear now skulk with a gun."

"I remember an India that was," the tiger snarled, "a land of rajahs
and temples, of brown dancing girls and men who played little flutes.
They grew the green sugar-cane, and cotton they might spin on great
wooden wheels.  And their smiths hammered brass into strange antique
shapes.  And they worshiped God with singing and dancing in cool
temples.

"What are the rajahs now, that once were the wonder of the earth, but
little helot princes?  And the ranees--the cinnamon-colored queens with
the minute silver bells upon their bud-like toes--but despised native
women?  Are the bazaars filled with the quaint work of smiths?  No, but
with the meretricious trinkets of the West.  And black-coated men seek
to turn them from native immemorial gods.  And the machine that throws
pictures the mummers make, fights against the music and the dancing and
the temple bells.

"The beauty I stand for is passing away."

"In Burma, whence I come," said the elephant, "there are jungles deeper
than the jungle of Africa, or the Indian jungles.  Great mossy trees,
and painted flowers, and great brown rivers rolling to the sea.  And
the men there are beautiful as women, and the women beautiful as
flowers.

"And once they paddled down the great brown river in glistening black
canoes.  They wore great gaudy sashes and had a flower in their teeth
or a flower in their hair.  Under the shadow of the great trees they
paddled.  And when they saw me they made reverence, saying, 'Our lord,
the elephant!'  On little reeds they made sweet, plaintive music.

"And now the great ancient trees are being cut down, and floated on the
bosom of the hurt brown rivers.  And the peace of the jungle is
disturbed with the cough of the motor-boat, and oil is heavy on the
warm jungle smells.  And the men, beautiful as women, are clothed in
soiled white garments; the rounded child-like bodies of the brown women
chafe under a huddle of clothes.  And when I am observed, the white man
asks, demands, the help of the little brown men to hunt me, to whom
they once did reverence, and I seem to hear no more sweet, plaintive
music.

"From the quiet river I have seen the painted barges of the Pharaohs
move along under the sweeps of the negro slaves.  Color and majesty and
dignity.  And the shaven priests chanted their litanies at the change
of the moon.  And from the Sahara the desert tribes brought tribute and
treasure to Egypt, the men with the white horses and the black tents.
And the nodding dromedaries and camels and their tinkling bells.  And
the kings raised their pyramids, and the multitude of men like ants
listened at sunrise to the great masonic prayer.  And they left the
Sphinx to denote their mystery.  And Cleopatra, who was Lilith reborn,
played with Rome for a doll.

"All these things have I seen: the magic of great Moses, and the flight
of the Little God of Galilee; the perfumed Pharaohs; the sinister
yellow priests; the gnarled masons at their secret prayers; and
Cleopatra brown as a berry, magnificent as jewels, venomous as a snake;
and the sculptor at work on the Sphinx.

"And now tourists unwrap the great kings, and hucksters chaffer where
once the trains of the prince-merchants of Tyre passed, and we shall
never see a Cleopatra any more.

"But I am not complaining.  Men do not swim as well as in the elder
days, nor handle a boat as surely."

"I know nothing of painted Pharaohs," said the great white bear, "nor
anything of Indian queens.  In the North are neither kings nor masons,
but day and night and ice, and a little people.  In summer is the great
sun, white light, and grass that is green for a little, and the thunder
of breaking bergs, and in winter no sun but the flaming aurora and the
white illimitable miles!

"And the swarthy little people were happy then.  In the long nights
they sang, and they bowed to the gods in boulder and stream, and set
out in the little kayaks on the Arctic seas to hunt the great solemn
walrus, or they set off in sledges through the pathless wastes.  They
were a brave people, a healthy people.

"And came the boats hunting our sister the whale, and the whales taught
the little swarthy people progress, and everywhere now they are cunning
and degraded and crusted with sin, and a great plague makes them spit
blood, and waste to nothingness, and die."

They all looked at the horse, but the horse was silent.

"Look back in the folds of your memory," the lion prompted.  "Look back
well!  Can you not remember the great races in the Roman circus?
Listen a little!  Can you not hear the trumpets of Agincourt?"

"And you, little brother--" the bear swung his ponderous head toward
the dog--"was there not a time when you lay before a fire in a
rush-strewn hall?  And now the houses are too little.  They tell me--I
do not know.  And did you not once run barking joyously beside man on
his horse?  And now horses are out of fashion, are they not, little
comrade?  And the cars are too fast for your short legs."

There is another silence, and the angel looks at them piteously.

"I wish to my God I had some of them clever fellows here could argue
with you.  I never was much good in an argument, anyway, never having
had the education.  But let me tell you there 's angels could prove to
you you 're all wrong.  I wish they 'd come here and talk to you, but I
don't suppose they 'd care much about us and our wee affairs.  But--but
how about music," he hazarded, "and poetry?  Ay, and poetry."

"As to music--" the elephant threw up his trunk in a sneer--"what music
can he make comparable to the birds of summer--the sun going down, and
each bird with its separate song, blending into a gently-colored
symphony, and the chime of the waves with it, and the rustle of the
branches in the sundown breeze?"

"Ay, but poetry."

"It will need poetry," thundered the lion, "more poetry than can be
ever written, to equalize the making ugly of earth.  The great cliffs
shamed by mean houses, and the splendid glades ruined that a train may
pass.  And the mouths of rivers spoiled by the slag of mills.  And
great noble trees hacked down.  How many an epic to pay for a great
forest dying, shepherd?  How many a lyric for a tree where little
trusting birds had their home?"

The angel throws out his hands abruptly.

"You have me," he says.  "You have me!"

He braces with decision, rises to his full height, and suddenly there
is nobleness.

"Well, which is it to be?" he asked.  "Will you follow my plan, or do
you insist I go immediately?"

"We insist."

He pauses an instant.

"Very well.  I 'll go," he says.  "I 'll go."

He looks all around the gathering.  In spite of his decision, and his
bracing, there is a great emotion brewing in him.

"Now, before I go, let me tell some of you something.  Do you,
Philip--" he turns to the bear--"be getting back North as fast as you
can.  You poor fellow, you must be murdered with the heat entirely, and
you with the Arctic furs on.  You 'll catch your death here.  And as
for you," he warns the crocodile, "don't be obstinate, there 's a good
fellow!  Keep to the water, and you 'll be all right.  It's only when
you get out, they can get after you.  And my little friends the
beavers--where are they?  Childer, can you hear me?"

"But what's all this about?" asks the elephant.

"It's just for fear I 'm not coming back."

"But why aren't you coming back?" the lion growls.

"Och, it's just a notion.  Are the beavers there at all, at all?"

"No, just a moment!"  The tiger is on his feet.  "I want to hear more
of this.  What do you mean by notion?  You aren't thinking of leaving
us?"

There is a quick commotion, a little shudder among all the animals in
the background.

"Well, now--" the angel is embarrassed--"it's a hard errand I have
before me, and what will be at the end of the chapter no one knows.  I
to be arguing with the Great Man, and demanding your rights, and He to
be losing His temper with me--there 's no knowing.  So to be on the
safe side, I 'll just say good-by to you now.  Many 's the pleasant
hour we 've known and springtime coming, and many's the little day we
've spent together and winter roaring through the chilly air."

"But He never loses His temper, does he?  He 's always mild."

"Oh, childer dear, ye little know!  You all know the Black Man, and
when you get the cold wind of his coming you scurry away.  He was an
angel once, the greatest of them all.  Lucifer, they called him, so I
've heard old angels say, and the Hebrew or something for Him who does
be bearing light, such a gorgeous angel he was.  But one day he and
some of his lads began to argue with the Great Man, and before the
words were half out of their mouths they were tumbling through the blue
spaces of the stars, condemned to eternal hell-fire.  Sure, you see
them yourselves on Hallowe'en, and them roaring up and down the world,
and screeching fit to split the sky."

A moan of terror ran through the massed animals.  The dog raised his
head and howled.

"And the wee half-god we all know, him with the horns of the goat, that
does the piping in the valleys of spring--sure, he was an angel once.
But something went contrary on him, and now he dare n't show his face
on heaven or earth, but hides in the branches as wild as a squirrel."

And a little shudder of pity arose.

"Ay, and there was others.  There was a crowd of reckless fellows in
the days before the flood--or after it; I don't know which--and they
came from heaven to court the daughters of men, such grand women they
had in those days.  And the Lord God heard of it, and He stood up and
looked at them, and he said just one word.  They 've never been heard
of since.  One minute they were there, and the next was emptiness.

"Mind you, I 'm not saying anything like that will happen to me, for
Himself has always been kindness to me.  It's always 'How are you,
Michael John?' and 'Don't you ever take a rest at all?' and 'Sometime I
'll have to take a day and come down and see yourself and the wee
ones!'  But just, if I don't come back, don't think I 've taken a
better job.  Sure, I 'd never desert you, my wee darlings.  It's just
maybe I 'm getting a wee bit of discipline."

"I think--" the elephant seemed husky in the throat--"your own plan
might be best--to wait for an opportunity and just suggest."

"Better say nothing at all," growled the lion.

"No, childer dear; I 'd better just go ahead.  I will confess it was
timid of me not to go in the first place.  It was thinking of my old
skin I was, and I should be ashamed of myself.  Sure, there 's no
disgrace in asking for fair play, and you 've been sorely tried.  I 'll
go."

"No, no, no!" wailed the animals.

"No, your own plan was wise," the elephant insisted.  "If anything
happened to you, what would become of us?"

"Yes, what would become of us?" the little ones wailed.

"Do you honestly think my own plan's wiser?  You 're not saying that to
save me from trouble?"

"We're not," the lion said.  And "Of course not," added the tiger.

"Just slip in a word when you can," from the elephant.

"Honestly, now, it would be best."  The angel was relieved.  "I can
talk about your loyalty; and, sure, I can remind him of the kine that
gave shelter to the Wee Relative in Bethlehem, and the donkey that was
proud to carry His weight; and I 'll remind Him, too, that I 've never
asked a favor yet, and if He could just see His way--"

"Well," the elephant thought aloud, "I 've got to be getting back to
Burma."

"I 'm going your way," said the tiger.

"There 's nothing to keep me up further," said the lion.

"I 'm very much obliged to you all--" the angel was abashed with
emotion--"for not insisting.  And it's lucky I am," said he, "to have
decent beasts to deal with and not man.  For man would have insisted I
'd go, and not given a tinker's curse what would have happened me."

"Ay, man!" sneers the great white bear.

"For God's sake Philip, will you be getting home out of this, before I
have you sick on my hands!  And as for you, Go-by-the-Ground, get back
to the river or I 'll sink my foot in your tail.  Go on now!  Be off
with you!"

There is a _shuff-shuff-shuff_ over the sand as the beasts scatter,
going east, north, west, and south.  The angel stands watching them as
they go.  Only the horse and the dog remain, the horse nudges him on
the shoulder with its mouth, the dog puts a cold nose into his hand.

"Och, my darlings!"



DELILAH, NOW IT WAS DUSK

I

Beneath her balcony, in the delicate spring night, the life of Gaza
flowed gently as a calm river.  Eastward the green hills of Canaan
were, Delilah knew, and in imagination she could see the soft blue down
of the budding corn, the clouds of flowers, the piping green of the
vines, the darkness of the olive-trees.  And in the west a little moon
was, while as yet the sun had not gone down, a little blade of silver,
like one sweet note on a flute.  It made one wish to be young again, to
be a child....

The lamps of Gaza were not lighted.  None was eager to go within, and
below there was still the jingle of camel bells, the padding of
donkeys, the nervous clatter of some horse's hoofs as a desert rider
sought to guide his mount in the filled streets.  Languid, supercilious
Egyptians strolled in the provincial ways; desert men, their eyes
suspicious as hawk's, moved warily hither and thither; her own
countrymen, the squat, cheerful Philistines, half townsman and half
mariner, walked briskly; mysterious, aloof Phoenicians; an occasional
strange seaman from Gaul, come eastward with his ship for a cargo from
Asia Minor; and now came the "Hough-hough!  Hough-hough!" of herdsmen,
and dappled kine went by, belabored with sticks, and as she looked,
Delilah saw the group of Israelites who owned them.

From the street they saw her, and their eyes blazed fury.  They pointed
her out to one another, with quick, wide gestures, and she could hear
the gutturals of their denunciation....  Oh, yes, they remembered
Samson, after twenty years!  Remembered him almost as well as she!


II

She had been thinking of him only that minute, too.  It was strange,
but at this time, each year, his memory, his image came to her, so that
she could say in winter, "On the second moon of spring there will be
flowers, and an air like wine, and the Mediterranean fishers will
overhaul their gear, and I shall think of Samson," and she was the only
person in Philistia who could remember him clearly.

Some old magistrate perhaps, or captain of civic guard might, their
memory jogged, recall the Hebrew rebel, and say: "Wasn't there a Samson
once, a great red-bearded man, who was supposed to have killed a lion
with his bare hands?  Or perhaps I am thinking of some of the black
African giants, wrestlers or circus men.  I don't know.  But I seem to
recall the name."

And about him, among his own people, had arisen a great myth, as will
arise among desert peoples and they telling stories by the fire.  The
old guerilla captain had become a national hero to them, and they had
magnified his raids out of all proportion to reality.

And when they thought in the desert tents of the destiny of their
people, and longed for the day when the then rich southwestern country
would be theirs by either conquest or penetration, they said, "If
Samson had lived...  If Samson had n't gone wrong..."

And Delilah they cursed bitterly, even after twenty years, and they saw
her not as Samson's wife, but as some strange perfumed woman who had
enticed him and sold him to his enemies.  Even the little children were
taught to curse her.  And all she had done was to adore him, and love
him, and to care for and pity him when he had grown old and blind and
astray in the head.

Oh well, what did it matter what they said!

Three men there had been in her life: her childhood's sweetheart in her
native valley of Sorek, the slim lad who was to have married her and
settled down in the valley to lead the idyllic life of country lovers.
But he had gone to Egypt, and been infested with ambition, and they had
grown apart and never married.  And now in Egypt he was a suave
administrator, very close to the Pharoah, a great man.

And there had been Samson.

And there was her present husband, small, hawk-eyed, taciturn, the
greatest of the Oriental sea-captains, who knew the Mediterranean as
other men knew the lake of Galilee, who had passed through the straits
known to the Greeks as the pillars of Hercules, and been north to
Ibernia, the land of forests and savage, hairy Celts, and bearded druid
priests with sinister eyes, and to other lands where the Phoenicians
had great tin mines.  A quiet, efficient man, he!

To her husband she gave admiration and a fond devotion.  To the boy of
her youth she had given her heart in a burst of virginal music.  But to
the rough Hebrew rebel, a stranger to her race, in religion, in every
mode of life, she had given an immensity of love....


III

In her face now, that once had a proud, singing beauty, were dignity
and power and wisdom.  Strands of gray in her hair and shadows near her
eyes.  In all Gaza, in all Philistia, there was not one to refuse her
reverence, excepting, of course, the strange gipsy people who contended
she had ruined their champion and lord.

A queer people, they!  A strange, inimical folk, who had come into
Canaan out of Egypt, headed by magicians who had cloven the Red Sea--so
they claimed--and their hand was against the dwellers in Canaan.  For
centuries now they had been an irritating minor political problem, and
when the question of relations with Egypt sagged, or there was a lull
in the discussion of the great trade route to the East, the matter of
the Israelites always arose.  Here they had harried a town; there
squatted on a public common.  And war on a large scale was impossible
against them.  Send armies to subdue them, and they became separate
desert units, like any other tribes.  And before the armies had
returned to their garrisons, the Israelites were back.  The
Philistines, with their suave Egyptian tolerance, could only smile.
What could one do against a people of that kind?

For centuries now, they had remained turbulent, cunning, breakers of
the peace, with Philistia rather contemptuous of them, rather proud,
not unaffectionate.  No nation in the world had a problem quite like
them.  And the more kindly, more tolerant Philistia became, the greater
the hatred of the Israelites.  For years they would dwell at peace in
Philistine cities, then a strange national pique would come on them,
and they would march out into the desert chanting to their harsh God,
blaming themselves cruelly for having lived in comfort, and prophets
would arise among them who said bitter things, lashing them with a
white fury, and agitators would preach war, and it was then Philistia
had to be careful and send troops out, for one never knew the moment
that the young men would make a raid on a township or an estate of
vineyards.  A sharp clash, a little guerilla warfare, and all would be
over.  Wise old politicians claimed that every time the Israelites were
defeated, they gained a little more ground, but politicians were always
pessimists.  And, also, what matter if they did?

Delilah remembered that as a child in her father's house in the valley
Sorek she had been brought up to the belief that all Israelites were
riotous, dissatisfied.  They were splendid herdsmen, but beyond that
they had no virtues.  And the little Hebrew children were looked down
upon, because they were so poor.  Oh! the cruel snobbishness of little
children!  A race apart, an inferior race, Delilah thought in her
youth, and had smiled at the thought of their crude, melodramatic god,
of whom they walked in fear.  Their god was so limited, so concrete.
None of the symbolism of Daigon, half man and half fish, whom the
Mediterranean sailors thanked when the great silver draughts weighed
down their nets; none of Baal, god of the sun, the fecund divinity who
increased the herds of kine, and whose rays nurtured the soil and
brought forth the sweet blue grass; none of the grace of Ashtoreth, the
goddess of the dusky night, the terror and the delight and the mystery,
the goddess of the ripe breasts and great passionate eyes....

So Delilah viewed them with little interest and not a little contempt,
a turbulent, annoying, ignorant, clever people; their quaint folk-songs
and dances, their peculiar religious revivals, their passionate
hatreds...  Undependable--that is what they were.

Came her youth and her growing into womanhood....  She wondered
sometimes if he of her young days, for all his closeness to the Pharaoh
of Egypt, his Egyptian palace, his Egyptian wife, ever remembered the
warm green days of Sorek, and how they had grown together from fifteen
to twenty-three.

Nothing had ever been said between them of marriage, but it was
accepted by them that they would marry, as it was accepted that the sun
shines, and with night come the stars.  They might have been two girls
together, or they might have been two boys, so sweet was the friendship
between them.

The adventure of life unclosing itself came to them together--all the
beauty of the world, the wild smiling flowers, the sun dropping over
the hills, the clamor of birds in spring as they raided the seeded
fields, the little fish that jumped in the pools when the winds stilled
and evening came--all that was a tremendous bond.  Even now when she
thought of places in the valley of her childhood she could picture them
only as background for his calm young face.  They seemed natural, the
blossoming of apple-trees and her young lover's face.

And Delilah's dreams--five years of dreaming, of the governing of a
house, and the regiment of maid-servants, of little children.  Five
years dreaming!  And he had gone into Egypt and had never come back.
Only stories returned, of his success, of his offices, of his wife....

She had thought, being a young woman then, that what was killed with
such a tremendous shock was her love, but she knew now, now that she
was nine-and-forty years, that what had died was a dream.  She had been
shocked, disoriented, and her life, which had been so carefully
planned, suddenly had no more meaning.

It had made a woman of her, though, and made her proud.  She must have
something to do, to think about.  Love and all thoughts of love she put
aside.  In order to escape from herself she began to study people,
questions of the day, this, that.  It was probably the woman loving the
underdog that turned her eyes on the question of the poor Hebrew,
rather than to the glory of Egypt, or the power of the merchant cities.

She became their friend, and they came to know her.  Probably they
robbed her a little, but the cost was so small compared to the luxury
of escape....  All her friends smiled at her hobby and spoke of the
Israelites as "Delilah's Hebrews," and they wondered how a woman of her
looks and standing should bother with these things.  Why did n't she
get married, they asked?  Or was she becoming queer?  One of these
strange women who took more interest in public affairs than a home.  So
many of them were becoming that way.

But Delilah only smiled.  They were her anodyne.  She liked their
strange folk-dances; their wailing, nostalgic songs.  And their
legends--there was about them a quaintness and simplicity she
loved--Adam and Eve in the garden; the story of Noah and his ark; the
naïve legend of Babel; and the newer history of the leader who had been
found by the Egyptian princess in the bulrushes--what was his name?
Moses!  That was it....  How simple they were, how refreshingly simple,
the dear things!


IV

It had often seemed to her a strange thing, as she sat thinking, how
all one labors to learn passes easily away, and what one feels remains,
welcome or no.  All the book-learning of her early years had gone, but
there would never go the memory of her first blushing kiss, and though
it was six-and-twenty years since he had gone from her life, yet the
thought of the Philistine boy who was now a grandee of Egypt--that
remained.

So, likewise, all she had learned of the Hebrews was gone; now a
legend, now a saying would come back to her, some proverb or a piece of
ritual, but like a bar from a tune one has forgotten.  But everything
she felt, everything she had known of great Samson remained with her.
One learns things and one lives things.  The things written in the head
fade out and die, but the words on the heart bite deeper and deeper....
She could remember every kiss he had given, the immense madness he had
evoked....  O God, was it possible that she, so calm now, so respected,
so wise, had once shaken like a leaf at his voice?  Her knees had
trembled; her heart had fought in her breast like a caged bird; her
throat had gone dry....

Before she met him, she knew him by repute, a huge, turbulent man of
immense strength, who had often been in trouble with the Philistine
authorities....  In the tribal troubles, some years before, his name
had been very prominent.  He had married a Philistine girl in Timnath,
and there had been a riot at the wedding, over a question of dowry, or
something of the kind, and some of the girl's Philistine relations had
been killed.  A sort of vendetta had arisen and Samson had declared war
against the nation.  He had proceeded to burn the corn stacked in the
fields; there was a strange rumor that he had captured an immensity of
foxes and, tying burning brands to their tails, had loosed them among
the harvest.

Then, of course, from a family quarrel it had become a national affair
and Samson was proscribed.  Prodigious stories were told of his
strength and valor, of his defeating patrols single-handed, and
refuging on the rocks of Etom.  The Hebrews were asked to give him up
to authority, and brought him to Lehi bound.  But there he burst his
cords, such immense strength had he, and escaped after slaying twenty
men in a hand-to-hand fight.  Then he had become a bandit of the hills
on whose head a price was set.

Around him a romance grew, as will about all mountain chiefs, to which
Samson lived up most gallantly.  Careless of disguise, careless of
danger, he had come, with his great red beard and his hair floating to
his hips, into Gaza itself once, to see a woman.  The watchmen were
told, and the city gates were locked while they searched for him, but
he crashed through the gates with his terrific shoulders and made his
way to Hebron.  It was said he carried parts of the ironwork with him
to make weapons.

All this had happened years before, and all the border warfare was
over, and Samson was no longer a proscribed bandit but a great man of
the Hebrews, leaping suddenly into fame and holding fame and power as
such men will.  He no longer raided harvests and kine, nor came to Gaza
secretly, but now he walked like a conqueror.  It was said that it
irked him that everything was so peaceful and quiet, and he regretted
the old roaming days.  To the Hebrews he was a great figure, a champion.

Delilah had never understood how they made a champion out of this
guerilla fighter, but when she saw him for the first time she
understood.  He came to thank her for the interest she had taken in his
race.

"You have been good to my people," his voice thundered.  "I thank you."

Herself, a tall woman, had to look up like a child to him, and herself,
no small woman, felt a reed beside that vast muscular bulk.  She had
two impressions of him, his immense masculine quality, and his
tremendously arrogant manner.  For everything Philistine he seemed to
hold a tremendous contempt.  He had beaten the Philistines, and
physically he thought little enough of them.

It seemed a little flaunting to her, at first, that great cape of red
hair, of which he was so very proud, so very careful.  In a smaller man
it would have been effeminate, but in him it was a trait of virility,
like a lion's mane.  Beside him his followers, his clansmen, seemed so
frail, so puny.  No wonder they watched him with those adoring eyes.
No wonder they exhibited him, so proud they were.

To Delilah, it was a wonder and an irritation that she should be so
moved, so thrown off her axis mentally and emotionally by the presence
of this great hairy man.  All her senses were jangled suddenly.  One
part of her, the Philistine lady, smiled in a little patronizing
contempt for the unconcealed boastfulness of his words, for his
insulting glance at the passers-by.

But another, a strange Delilah clamored:

"No matter what he says, let him speak on.  My heart opens at his
voice....  Let him contemn all men with his arrogant eye, but let him
not contemn me!"

The Philistine lady had a little disgust for the way he laid his hand
on the heads and the shoulders of his followers, pawing them clumsily.
But the new Delilah clamored:

"If he lays his hand on me, I shall faint to the ground and die!"  And
a burning shame rose in her, and her face reddened.  And she said to
herself, "God!  God!  I have suddenly gone mad!"

All her culture, her tradition, all the fine conventions of her life,
seemed suddenly to vanish, become nothing, before this immense male.
All the men of her life, friends, her young false lover, relatives
seemed like puppets beside him--their shaven faces, their polished
speech, their carefulness of dress and demeanor.  The rufous giant had
appeared, and "Away," he seemed to have cried, and they had whirled
off, like blown feathers.

If she were troubled, he was troubled too.  The directness of him read
her perturbation.  A great desire rose in the turbulent hillsman to be
near her, to know her body and soul.  He was accustomed to women, to
love women, but never had he known a woman such as this--a beautiful
groomed lady who possessed all that was a wonder to him, riches and
foreign breeding and a strange, sweet culture.  His wife of Timneth had
been only a country girl, and his sweethearts of the hills had been
tribeswomen, agile, angry as cats, like some hard, harsh fruit, and the
women he had known in Gaza were venal women, for every man.  But this
was a great lady--and she loved him.  A great pride, and a great
wonder, and desire rose in him.  He was stupefied as she.

They looked at each other, each reading the other's thought, until
their throats became dry, and all words were just trivial sounds,
meaning nothing.  Dumb and wondrous he was, and she dumb and bowing
with shame.  How they parted was to her a mystery, but that their hands
touched, and at the touch all her bone and flesh seemed to go liquid,
and her knees trembled as with an immensity of fear.  And nothing
seemed stable in the world but his great hot hand, that trembled too....

Bowed with shame she was, troubled, blind in purpose, all the familiar
things of her house and lands were now unfamiliar, unimportant.  The
long day dragged, and in her heart was a storm, like a hot wind from
the desert.  She refuged in her inner rooms, in the coolness of her
inner rooms, but that brought no relief, and restlessly she must come
out again.  The Asian sun crept slowly from east to west, but Delilah
remained in a dull maze.  "Am I ill?" she asked.  "Am I stricken with
some strange disease?"  But no.  "I am insane," she thought.  "I must
put it out of my head.  I must n't think."  Slowly, slowly the day
wheeled by; but out of her head it would not go.  And her face went
white and slowly she whispered to herself: "I am a bad woman.  I never
knew before.  Oh, shame, shame and woe!  I am an evil woman!"

The Asian sun dropped into the hissing sea, and came the soft Syrian
dusk, and the swift coolth of the night.  The heat of mind and body
went with the heat of the day.  There remained only a deep longing,
that seemed to be a nostalgia of the infinite.  Without, the night was
blue, there was only a little wind among the apple-trees, and all the
flowers had closed until dawn should come, but the birds were unsilent
and the earth itself was restless, now spring was here.

The night wind cooled her sweet brow and ruffled the dark perfumed hair
at her temples.  The cool night wind, like cool water.  Then arose in
Delilah a desire for it, and she wandered out among the vines and
apple-trees, touching them, as she passed, in sympathy, for it seemed
to her that they must share her yearning.  Though all was darkness, yet
all was not rest.  Somewhere the sheep were grazing, and she could
imagine the gods of the nearer East walking the earth, the passionate,
seeking gods, the ever-young ones; they walked beside her, their slim,
brown, beautiful bodies, their liquid eyes.  All the longing of the
night came to her lips in a little song--an air, and faltering,
unthought words.

"O Spring, which begins now," went the throbbing contralto.

There was a rustle among the trees.  Her heart stopped beating.

"Is some one there?  Who is there?  Who?"  But she knew well who was
there.

"Who is it?  Who is it?"

She saw the great bulk in the blue night, like a giant, like some great
giant of the earth.

"It is I--Samson."

"What--how--"  Words would not come to her.  Nor would words mean
anything.  "Why--"

She put out her hands--she knew not for what reason, perhaps to thrust
him away--her slim white hands in the dusk.  He seized them.  Once
again she throbbed from head to foot, and her knees became weak, and
all of her melted.  And she fell forward, will having left her, on the
great bearded chest.

"I am dying," she murmured.  "O my God, I die!"


V

Now they were married; and he had come to live in her house, the low,
pleasant house in the valley of Sorek, the white and cool house....
Without, the Syrian flowers grew in the garden, the white and blue and
little red flowers, the bees droned....  Cool dairies and enclosures
with great stacks of corn; and in the meadows the dappled kine grazed,
and on the hillsides the heavy-fleeced sheep.  Within, her hand maidens
tended the whirring spinning-wheels, and all the graciousness of a
great house was there, cool water-jars that Persian potters had made,
and stuffs from Damascus, and rugs on the walls from cunning Eastern
looms, and furniture fashioned by the proud Syrian craftsmen.  Her
house had been a house loved by all, the young Philistine poets and
elder statesmen and calm, subtle priests.  And the strain and weariness
of affairs had come on them, they would say: "Let us go out to
Delilah's house at Sorek, and rest in the orchard of the bees." ... But
now, now Samson was there, and things were different.

Through all Philistia the news had gone, that Delilah had become
infatuated with and married the guerilla leader, and the young men
stormed.  Was she mad?  Or what had he done to her?  And an immense
disgust arose in them.  Delilah, to marry that!  Delilah, of all women!
Delilah, beautiful, gifted, with all her tradition, to be bound to this
ragamuffin warrior!  This fatuous boaster, with his red hair of comedy,
and yokel whiskers!  How disgusting, how degrading!  And they had
offered her all their hearts and poetry, and she had chosen this.  O
Delilah!  Delilah!

Older men and women said nothing.  Some of them understood.  The
freakish and terrible lightning that passion is, and how it strikes.
In some women that is what strong drink is to men, a mocker and a
raging thing.  A pity, though, Delilah...  And the priests shook their
heads.  It will not last, they said, and her heart will be broken.

Though it was pain to them, still they came to see her, to let her know
that nothing mattered, she was their friend always....  They had to
suffer seeing the great red one at the head of the table, hearing his
jokes and reminiscences.  And solemnly he would speak of his birth, and
claim supernatural happenings at it, angels appearing and going up in
pillars of fire....  And the company made awkward comments, and Delilah
lowered her eyes....

Sometimes a great rage against the Philistines would take him, and he
would give vent to it by telling at the table of his fight at
Ramath-leki when he had annihilated the Philistine patrol with the
first weapon to hand, a great bone he had found in the desert sands.
After many years and much telling he had exaggerated the deed out of
all proportion, until from ten it had become a thousand men.

"And do you know what that bone was?"  He would put his immense hands
on the table and lean forward.

"The jawbone of an ass," he roared with the thunderous laughter.  "Ho!
ho!  The jawbone of an ass.  With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon
heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men."

But worse than his rage and boasting was his good humor.  When they
spoke to Delilah of some new poet in Tyre, or of some subtle new
writings of the Egyptians he would break in with his terrible question:
"Did they know any riddles?"  And without waiting for an answer he
would tell them of the sinister conundrum he had propounded on the
occasion of his first marriage.  It seems, as he told it, that when he
was courting his first wife, who they all knew "had turned out no
good," he explained as he patted Delilah's hand, he met a young lion at
Timnath, and it roared at him, and he caught it up and rent it, "and I
had nothing but my two hands."  He transacted his business, and went
home, and when he was coming for the wedding, he looked to see if the
lion's carcass was there where he had thrown it, and it was still
there, and a swarm of bees and honey were in it, and the honey was
good.  "Fine eating," he told them.

At the marriage feast he proposed a riddle, wagering thirty fine linen
sheets and thirty changes of garments that the guests would not answer
in seven days.  "And if you can't find it out, you pay me thirty sheets
and thirty changes of garments," he laughed.  "They were all
Philistines, and all thought themselves clever fellows.

"So I said: 'Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong
came forth sweetness.  Expound me that,' said I, 'or pay up.  Or pay
up,' said I."

And he looked around the table, silent, a great grin under his red
beard.

"And did they expound it?"  Some one asked at length.

"They did.  'What is sweeter than honey?' they answered, with a smile
on their faces, 'and what is stronger than a lion?'  They got around
the wife, do you see, and she gave them the answer.'  I told them that,
too.  'If you had not plowed with my heifer,' said I, 'you had not
found out my riddle.'  So I lost the wager."

"And did you pay up?"

"I did.  And that's funnier than the riddle.  I went down to Ashkelon,
and killed thirty men there, and took their belongings, and gave the
thirty changes of garments to them that found out the riddle.  So it
cost me nothing, do you see, and I kept my word.

"But I never looked at the wife after.  I could n't.  I took a kind of
hate against her.  She married another fellow."

A great embarrassment arose among all the company, so full of shame
were they for their hostess; but over her fine, sweet face no shadow
passed.  She might have been married to a king, so calm and dignified
she was.  A great lady, she!

She understood now, looking back, how pathetic a figure the red giant
was, had she only had the eyes, the wisdom to see then.  He was so lost
among the suave, sophisticated Philistines, who could hurt more with a
word than he could with his great brawny hands.  Beneath his swelling
thews he was only a child.  He wanted to be as important as the guests
in her house.  Feeling they despised him for his origin, and his
manners, his boastfulness and his arrogance were only a defense.

Little by little now Delilah's friends disappeared, and she was glad of
it, for she hated to see Samson despised, disliked and their pitying
looks for her hurt her terribly.  And the days of peace were dreadful
to him; his, too, the tragedy of the soldier now that war was over, and
no more exhilaration, keenness, importance.  The tolerance of his old
enemies was an insult to him.  On their hatred he had thriven.  Their
hatred made him important.  If their hatred went, he would no longer be
the great Samson, he would only be a giant of the hills.

He could n't believe they did n't hate him--how could they do
otherwise, he having killed so many?--and a great suspicion arose in
him.  They were a noted race for stratagems, these Philistines, and
might they not now be planning something against him?  Delilah, for
instance!  It was strange, he thought, how a woman of her standing
should marry him like that.  He could n't understand.  He must watch
her.

He was forever, also, meeting his old tribesmen, seeing them more now
than ever, for he would run to them when oppressed by the Philistine
atmosphere.  And the Philistines as a whole they regarded as deadly
enemies.  They never believed in their peaceful intentions.  Though
they were in a way proud of Samson's great marriage, yet they
distrusted it.  And by hint and innuendo they sought to put him on his
guard.  He nodded importantly.  He did n't need to be told about the
Philistines, he said; he'd keep his eye on them.  "Had anything...?"
they crowded around him.  Well, he wasn't saying, but he was watching;
he smiled.  His wife?  Let them not worry; he did n't trust women very
far.

And relieved, and once more raised in importance and self-esteem, he
would swagger back to the house.

Sometimes, too, in Delilah's place, he would be seized with a great
desire to make friends with the young Philistines; and when Delilah
wasn't there, he would show off his immense strength, felling an ox
with one blow of his fist.  Once he had himself bound with seven green
withes, stouter than rope, stronger than chains, and with a cruel burst
of strength stood free, snapping them as though they were threads.  And
once he had his arms bound with new rope, breaking the bond without any
effort.  But his greatest triumph was having his hair woven into a
great spinning-wheel and fastened to the pin, and walking away took
with him the pin of the beam, and the web.  But the Philistines had
seen more intricate and showy feats of strength by the Egyptians' black
slaves.  And it did not impress them over-much.  No matter what he did,
he could not get into sympathy with them.  He was a stranger in his
wife's house.  Also he could not understand why she should seem
humiliated by these displays.  Did not a woman love a strong man?
Shouldn't she be proud?  Well, why was n't she?

Somehow the story of these trials of strength reached the Hebrew
settlements, and they construed it that the Philistines were seeking to
take him.  When he came among them, magniloquent, magnificent, they
questioned him and he gave no answer, letting them believe that his old
enemies were spreading nets for him.  A great terror arose in them.
And they tried to persuade him to come back to them.  But he would n't.
He was equal to all their stratagems, he hinted.  "But the women!" they
said, "nothing passes the cunning of a woman.  Better leave her,
Samson; better leave her now."

"The woman pleases me well."  And he would n't be moved.

The woman pleased him, but he did n't love her; and he displeased her,
but she loved him.  In Delilah's heart was so much aching love for him,
such depth of passion, that at times she was ashamed.  It seemed to her
that she had given everything in her to this man.  No matter how
displeased she was, no matter how humiliated by his boastings, by his
circus tricks, when night came, and he put out his hand to her, all the
irritation of the day passed, and her being sang.

She had chosen her husband, and what she had chosen was her own
business.  No matter how queer he was, she could n't have him laughed
at....  So they stayed away, and she was glad of it and little by
little the great wonder of her marriage provoked no more passion, no
more discussion.  Only when a stranger appeared, or some old friend,
and asked in the public assemblies of Delilah, and the incongruous
marriage was once more brought up and discussed.  Shoulders shrugged.

"And is she happy?"

"We don't know.  We don't see much of her any more."

A new strange element came up in this isolation: Samson did n't like
being left alone by the Philistines.  Somewhere in his mind arose the
theory that it was a new insult, a new harm.  He grew short with his
wife; became irritable; nothing pleased him.  He was not a farmer, a
warrior he! he complained.  He was entitled to relaxation, amusement,
conversation.  He was no vegetable--

"Then, Samson, you would like people here?"

He did n't like to be left alone, as though he had the plague, or
treated as though he were nobody, by God!

"Then they shall come, Samson."

But ah! there was something, he objected.  He did n't like this damned
superciliousness, this accursed Philistine superiority--

"You imagine it, Samson.  You are too sensitive, my big lover."

"Then they are not superior? are not better than I?"

"Of course not, great Samson.  In every way you are as good as they,
the same as they.  You would look the same as they, only
better-looking, more magnificent, if only--"

"If only what?"

"Oh, don't be angry with me, lover, if I tell you.  There is only one
thing remarkable about you; one thing they can criticize.  If only your
hair--"

"Ha! my hair!"

"O Lover, without it, you would look so great and splendid, and
dignified.  There would be nothing to criticize."

"But Delilah, my strength is in my hair."

"O lover, lover, don't be silly!"

"Also, my parents took a vow--"

"But darling, your parents never knew you were to be such a great man,
and that you would have to command respect from the nation--"

"Of course, of course.  But, Delilah, if my strength goes--"

"Dearest, it won't go.  How could it?"

"And they won't have anything to criticize then!  Ha!  Then off it
comes!"

She was so happy, the tears came into her eyes.  This strange desire to
wear his hair long as a woman's had been a bugbear to her.  This
foppishness, freakishness, superstition, whatever it was, it made him
remarkable.  She could n't suffer to have men smile at him.

"If you only knew how happy you make me!"

He was ludicrously nervous as she shore off the great red braids.  He
was more, he was frightened.  The burden gone, he strolled casually
around, picked up a little bar of iron at the fireplace, twisted it to
form a loop, was satisfied.  Glanced at himself in the long metal
mirror, smiled.

"I think it suits me well."

A thrill of delight came to Delilah, a new, a younger Samson had
appeared.  Her heart went pit-a-pat....  A great dignity sat on him
now, and he weighed his words at the table.  Gone with his hair was his
old arrogance, and seemingly his race hatred....  The Philistines spoke
among themselves, wondering how she had done it.  This quiet,
well-groomed man, remarkable only for his size and height, could this
be the same red rebel whom they had known a few short months ago?  A
wonderful woman.

But when the Hebrews heard of it, a great chill fell on their hearts,
and they wrung their hands.  "They have cut off our Samson's hair.  Oh,
woe!" they cried.  "The woman enticed him, and he a Nazarite unto God
from his mother's womb.  Oh, woe!  Oh, woe!  Gone is his strength now,
and gone is glory!"  But the red one, all agog with his new
worldliness, paid no heed to them, went never near them.

For some brief weeks Delilah knew happiness such as she never believed
possible in earth or heaven....  So fine, so strong he looked, so
greatly he acted, so--so fully he loved....  Of course it could n't
have lasted, she knew now.  How fast catastrophe!

Quietly he said one day: "How soon it gets dark!  Night falls faster
than it used.  An hour ago the sun was shining, and now it is dark."

She felt as if some cruel fingers had seized her heart, her throat.
She froze to the ground.

"What did you say?"

"I say, why don't the maidens bring lights?"

"Not yet, dear heart....  Let us stay in the warm dusk.  Wait, I take
your hand."

A few days later he stumbled and all but fell, was clumsy.  She flew to
his side.

"My eyes," he said, "a touch of sun.  Nothing particular."  But she
sent for a physician.

"It's nothing," Samson said.  "Something I 've eaten.  I 'll go to
sleep."

"Dear Samson, to please me."  The physician examined his eyes.

"Well?"  Delilah drew him aside.

"The early days in the desert....  He is going blind."

"Is there no hope, no cure?"

"None."

A little laugh of agony came from her.  Great Samson blind!  The little
lover blind!...  Oh, God!...

"Shall we tell him?"

"No, no!" she burst out.  Maybe there was some mistake!  "No.  We
sha'n't tell him."

A few days later came a great bellow from the garden!

"The sun has gone out of the sky," she heard him exalt.  "The day of
wrath is on us.  The God of the Hebrews will judge the just and the
unjust.  O Philistines, your day has come.  The sun has gone out of the
sky."

She flew to him, her feet hardly touching the grass.

"The sun has gone out of the sky," he chanted; "now is silence, but
soon the mountains will rend, the cliffs fall, and the Lord God of
Hosts will appear in thunder!"

"Oh, Samson, Samson!"  Her face was a wet mask of tears.  Her arms went
quickly about him.  "Listen, Samson!"

"Delilah, the sun has gone out of the sky!"

"Samson, Samson, you are great, you are big, you are brave.  Be brave
now, heart of hearts--"

"The Day of Days is here.  The sun has gone out of the sky."

"Worse, my darling, worse.  Worse than that the sun should be gone from
the sky.  The sun, Samson, the sun--the sun has gone out of your eyes!"


VI

"Then I am blind," he said quietly, after a little while.

"Dearest, I shall be eyes for you, watching, wary.  Oh, poor, poor
Samson, put your head on my shoulder, your eyes close to my heart.  You
shall see with my heart.  I give it to you to see with....  Cry,
Samson, if you must, cry on my shoulder."  She sought to draw him
closer to the haven of her breast.  But he had stiffened, and his great
hand and arm had stiffened.  He just moved her ponderously aside....
He raised his head to the autumn sky, and a great bellow came from his
chest.

"The Philistines are upon me.  They have put out my eyes."

"Samson!  Dear heart, listen--"

"They have shaven the seven locks of my head.  They have taken my
strength from me.  They have put out my eyes."

"Samson, Samson, listen.  It is I, Delilah.  Don't you know me?"

His great roar had brought out the household, and men from the
hillside, and stopped folk on the road.  And they all came running now
thinking some murder was being done.

"I know you, Delilah.  I know you well.  The Lords of the Philistines
gave you silver to entice me.  I knew you, and the Lord departed from
me."

"Samson, don't!  Don't, Samson!"

"Away, harlot!"  And he struck at her blindly.  Only the tips of his
fingers touched her shoulder, but the force of them sent her to the
ground.  Her household crouched to spring.

"For God's sake, no!" she almost screamed at them.

"The Philistines are upon me.  They have put out my eyes!" he roared.
He went stumbling piteously through the orchard, the trunks of the
trees hurtling him, the branches striking his defenseless face.
Somehow he gained the road: "Delilah, the great whore, enticed me, and
the Lords of the Philistines put out my eyes--" his piteous bellow was
like the crying of some stricken animal.  Delilah called a serving-lad.

"Go after my lord Samson," she said, "and lead him whithersoever he
wishes."

All afternoon and evening, and late into the night she sat white and
stricken, waiting for his step, waiting for news of him.  In the
darkness a horse galloped up.  An officer of the Philistines sought her.

"Have you news of Samson?"

"Yes, Delilah.  He is in Gaza, in the prison-house."

"In the prison-house!  What has he done?"

"He has done nothing, Delilah, he is--he is mad and blind, and would
come in.  We tried to send him home to you, but he wouldn't come.  And
he would n't go to the Hebrews.  We were afraid of something happening
to him, so we took him in....  What shall we do, Delilah?"

"Would you--would you let him stay?"

"If you wish it, Delilah."

"He will be least unhappy there."

She knew somehow, in her heart, that never again would she lie in his
arms, never again be wife to the husband in him.  She would take him
back, take him back gladly.  Though no longer had she great passion for
him--that had died when he struck and insulted her before her servants.
She had a great pity and affection for the poor driven man.  She was
the only one who understood him.  "Ah, poor man! poor man!" she cried.
And in some ways he was only a child.

In a few days she went down to the prison house.  The officials brought
her to where he was grinding corn in the yard.

"We put him at it, Delilah, to keep his mind off his trouble."  She
nodded.

"Samson," she called.  He moved his head slightly.

"Don't you know me, Samson?"

"I know you.  You are the harlot Delilah, who enticed me, and gave me
into the hands of the Lords of the Philistines.  Delilah, I know you
well."

"Samson, will you come home to my house?  Let me make you comfortable
there."

"You would put out my tongue, Delilah, and burn off my hands, as you
put out my eyes.  I know you, Delilah!"

"Then will you go to the Hebrews?"

"No!" he replied sullenly.

A sudden rush of tears to her eyes made her go out.  She could no
longer bear to look upon him.  He had been so strong once, so
courageous.  He had looked in the sun's eye.  And now, blind and
broken--oh, poor dear! ... She stumbled as she went.

At the door of the prison house the governor shuffled uncomfortably:
"We shall be very good to him, Delilah, as kind as we know how," he
uttered.

There was a great lump in her throat, so she could say nothing.  But he
got his thanks from her twisted smile, her wet eyes....


VII

And now she was alone in her house, and to her mute surprise,
everything went on: grasses grew, cows lowed at the milking hour, the
fleece grew on sheep and had to be sheared, the grapes ripened on the
vines.  And she lived, still.  Her hair did not become gray, nor her
face take on any mark of tragedy, only a new sweetness, and strength.
And her love and her marriage was now nothing but a strange story of a
strange woman and a strange man.  Not quite a story, even, but a
collection of incidents that might be important and again might not.
And the great love she had experienced had become nebulous, was
drifting away, so that she could hardly believe she had not seen it in
others, but for its intimacy, its great intimacy....  And he was more
nebulous to her than if he were dead....

She heard of him.  She heard that from the prison walls he harangued
his white-faced, scared tribesmen, reviling his hosts, and above all
reviling her, telling the secrets of her love as the machinations of
some evil woman, and referring to her visit, saying that her heart was
merry and that she had come to have him make her sport....  But after a
little while none paid attention to him, so stale become miracles,
except his own tribesmen.  It was only the chatter of some crazed
religious patriot; people shrugged their shoulders, and forgot soon who
Delilah was, never imagining the great lady of Sorek as having been
wife and lover to this poor crazed giant, though they had known it to
be true.  Everything strange grows commonplace with days, and with more
days grows negligible.

So passed a year....

Just when she had become reconciled to this strange situation, herself
honored and in luxury, her husband mad and blind and insisting on being
a prisoner of the Philistines, just when she had striven to make and
succeeded in making this seem a normal, a usual thing, a courier from
Gaza came....  What his business was she never imagined.

"Delilah, Samson is dead!"

"Samson!"  It never even chilled her, so ridiculous did such a
statement seem.  "Samson is in Gaza."

"I come from Gaza, Delilah, and Samson is dead."

"Samson dead?"  That turbulent temperament, that immense vitality, that
gigantic frame,--surely there was one whom Death could not touch, at
least for nearly a century, when he would be old and weak and tired.
But not now!  No!  "What do you mean?"

"Delilah, Samson was wandering through the town.  He had asked the
master of the prison-house if he might go to see the new temple of
Daigon.  Though he could n't see, he wanted to feel it, its pillars and
stone.  A little lad brought him.  And there was a scaffolding in front
on which three men were working, and he knocked against it, and felt
the pillars, and stopped....

"And he put his hands on two of the pillars of the scaffolding, and
listened to the workmen above, and then called out: 'O Lord God,
remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this
once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my
eyes.'

"And he took hold of the two middle pillars of the scaffolding--"

"Oh!" Delilah's voice came in a long moan.  "Oh! my poor love! my poor
lord! oh! ... The workmen," she asked, "were they--killed?"

"One was lamed and one bruised and one had a shoulder smashed, but only
Samson, Delilah, is dead."

"Samson is dead!" she said dully.  And then she quickened.  "Are you
sure that he isn't only stunned?"

"No, Delilah; Samson is dead."

"I shall go with you...."

They had taken him into a cool corner of the temple, and when she saw
him there was no longer doubt in her, or--or hope.  He lay there with a
great dignity, a new majesty, all the pain and baffledness had gone
from his face and the poor empty eyes were closed....

And she sank to her knees, and took his head on them, she saw with a
little glad wringing of the heart that once more the great golden cloak
of hair had grown ...

"Delilah, where is he to--stay?"  The captain of the guards leaned
toward her.

"Not with us, kinsman.  He might n't rest.  He will sleep with his own."

"Then shall I tell his brethren, and the house of his father to come?"

"Do, kinsman," she said.  She turned her head to the shadows.  "Tell
them to come and take him," she said.

She was like a woman in stone but for her strained voice, and for the
fingers twisting, twisting, twisting under the red-gold cloak of hair.
"Go now and tell them," she said.  "Tell them, but don't let them
come," she said, "for--for just a little while...."

And now night had come, and the little lamps of Gaza burned clear in
the blue softness.  The sun had gone down in the west, and the silver
blade of the moon had all but followed.  Delilah felt cold and stiff,
and there were tears in her heart that would not come to her eyes for
relief.  The heaviness of an old sorrow, it never went, and she did n't
know if she wanted it to go....  She rose to go within.

"Delilah, the great harlot," a raucous voice accused her from the
blackness of the street.  "She enticed our lord Samson and made him
sleep on her knees--and she pressed him daily with her words and urged
him, so that his soul was vexed unto death--"

She stopped and listened.  Venom was sprayed against her from the
street.  Hatred arose like a pillar.  Suddenly the tears came, the
welcome tears, and gratitude went in a white shaft from her to the
bitter men in the streets, for this: that after so many years great
Samson was not forgotten, that he lived in their mind and hearts still,
as in hers.



A QUATRAIN OF LING TAI FU'S

Because of his perfect, or nearly perfect, English there were many who
believed that Li Sin was only masquerading as a Chinaman.  Because of
the slightly slit Mongol eyes, and the swarthy color of his skin, there
were others who explained his enigma by guessing he was a half-breed.
It never occurred to either party that Li Sin had been sent to Eton, in
England, at the age of thirteen, and that from Eton he had gone to
Oxford.  They would not have believed it if you told them.  There is a
dogma abroad to the effect that every Chinaman must of necessity speak
English like a Cantonese laundryman or like an attendant at a chop-suey
restaurant.

It never occurred to them, either, that Li Sin was a Manchu duke, with
a genealogy that extended back to the days of Tang.  It never occurred
to them that the slant-eyed Manchu was as big a physician as any of the
high-priced practitioners on the Avenue.  To the descendants of
fur-peddlers and deck-scrubbers who graced the Social Register, or to
the millionaires of Long Island who had soared into the financial
heavens on an accidental oil-spout or who had amassed their fortunes by
the less reputable forms of mine-grabbing--to these, and to their wives
and daughters, Li Sin was merely a tradesman or shopkeeper.  It did not
particularly matter to them that his shop on Fifth Avenue was filled
with little gold Buddhas whose eyes were fine emeralds, with pieces of
lacquer which it had taken an artist his lifetime to do, with peachblow
vases transparent as a hand against the sun, with porcelains sheer as
fine silks, with cloisonne jars that made staid experts rave like men
in liquor.  But the strictures of the ignorant did not worry Li Sin in
the least.  He would only raise his eyebrows and smile his bland,
inscrutable smile.

Li Sin has left Fifth Avenue now, and in his store, which was in those
days a temple of truth as well as a temple of beauty, a very lying and
exceedingly dishonest Armenian reigns.  In his own city of Tientsin the
Manchu lives in stately leisure.  He has reverted to his own name,
Hsien Po, which is great in Manchu annals.  He has reverted to his
Manchu dress of brocaded blouse and silken trousers, to his mandarin's
cap with its mandarin's button.  He is very proud of his pear gardens,
and he divides his time between walking in them, reading the analects
of Confucius, and giving the benefit of his marvelous medical knowledge
gratuitously to the poor.  He is happy, I hope, for if ever a man
deserved to be happy, it is he.

He is gone now, is Li Sin, but I can see him as plainly as though he
were standing beside me.  A rather squat sort of man, with a squarish
face and high cheek-bones.  His shining black hair was parted smoothly
at the side, and there was a look of health in the transparent quality
of his brown skin and in the whites of his slanting eyes.  There was
always a quiet smile on his lips, and he wore the tweed and broadcloth
of America with as much ease as the blouse and silken trousers of his
own land.  The only Oriental hint in his clothes was the suppressed
gorgeousness of his neckties.  He roamed about the great store, passing
an occasional word with the attendants or stopping to greet a favorite
customer, which was an honor.  The customers were much in awe of Li
Sin.  There were incidents that had taught them to respect him.

There was the incident of the amateur pottery expert who happened to be
also a millionaire.  He noticed a vase of delicate blue jade.

"Oh, Li Sin," he said, "I want that.  That's a wonderful piece of Ming."

"It's not Ming," the Manchu told him.

"I tell you it is Ming!" the young millionaire insisted.  "I 'll buy
it."

"I 'm afraid you won't, Mr. Rensselaer," the Manchu answered blandly.
"I won't sell it to you."

"Then you 'll sell me nothing, ever again," Rensselaer decreed in a
passion.

"Oh, very well," Li Sin smiled.

To Morganstern, the munitions magnate, he was much shorter.  The bulky
financier rushed into the store rolling a cigar about his fat lips.  He
wanted a rug, he said, an expensive one, the best in the store.  Li Sin
smiled a trifle cynically and pointed out something on the wall.

"A Persian thirteenth-century," he explained curtly.  "Used to belong
to a shah of Persia.  It costs seventeen thousand dollars."

"I 'll take it," Morganstern nodded.  "I want something for the bedroom
floor."

"But, dear sir," Li Sin expostulated, "one does n't put that on the
floor.  One hangs it on a wall."

"I don't care a damn."  The munitions man drew out his check-book.
"Anything good enough for the shah of Persia's wall is good enough for
my feet."

"My good sir--" Li Sin's voice was as bland as ever--"you are making a
mistake.  There are several grass-rug emporiums on Second Avenue.  Go
into the next drug store and look one up in a telephone-book.  Take a
trolley across Fifty-ninth Street.  They 'll sell you one, and you can
carry it home beneath your arm."  And abruptly he left Morganstern.

These things created a legend about Li Sin that will never die on the
Avenue.  Cynics say that it was good advertising, and brought people
who liked to be insulted.  But we, who knew the Manchu, were certain
that was the last thing he had in mind.  Peculiar as Li Sin's business
habits were, more peculiar still were his friends.  Among them might be
counted a European ambassador in Washington, a great heavy-weight
wrestler, a little Roman Catholic priest, a head waiter in a
restaurant.  All of these people he liked for some quality that his
shrewd eyes had discovered.  And last but not least was Irene Johns.

She had come into the store one soft spring morning, looking for a
birthday present for her mother, something inexpensive, she said, about
two dollars, all--she laughed merrily--she could afford.  Perhaps it
was that gurgling laugh of hers, that limpid, hurried, harmonious
scale, that drew Li Sin's attention.  But he came forward with a
suggestion when she and the salesman became nonplused at the problem of
finding something pretty, good and worth two dollars.

"Perhaps I can help," he smiled.

She impressed him with her appearance as much as with her laugh.  There
was something so ethereal about her that she seemed less a being of
flesh and blood than the disembodied spirit of spring.  Her fair hair,
her starlit purple eyes, her eager, half-closed small mouth with its
glint of little teeth, her slim neck stood out against her heather
costume and black, sweeping hat like a softly modulated light.  She was
so little, so slender, that she seemed as delicate as a snowflake.  She
moved with the lightness of a feather stirring along the ground.  And
yet, Li Sin saw with his physician's eye, she was not fragile.  She was
as healthy as an athlete.

"I think I can find you something," he said.

He did.  In the rear of the store he discovered a roughly hammered
silver brooch from Bokhara, a marvel of intricacy and sweeping lines;
he had bought it in Bokhara himself for two rubles.  The thing had
interested him.

"But this must be more than two dollars!" She spoke in wonder.

"I paid one dollar for it in Bokhara, and I am exacting a dollar profit
for it, which is not too little," the Manchu answered gravely.

By what peculiar, invisible steps their friendship ripened it would be
impossible to detail; but ripen it did.  The fresh, fair American
beauty, slim and beautiful as a Tanagra figurine, and the squat,
middle-aged Mongol liked each other, came to appreciate each other.
She had an inborn love for beautiful things, and he was never weary of
showing her the treasures of his store.  He showed her strange, exotic
jewels, collected by dead kings and queens--chrysoberyls that were at
times the strange green of olives and at other times red like a setting
sun, topazes with the yellow of aged wine, sunstones that glowed with a
tremulous golden red, carbuncles that flashed into explosive stars of
scarlet, peridots and milky moonstones, a ruby that the King of Ceylon
had owned, and an emerald that had once belonged to the unhappy Queen
of Scots.  Irene Johns would gasp at the sight of these things.

"They 're so beautiful!" she would say.  "They make the tears come to
my eyes!"

That was enough for Li Sin, that gasp of appreciation.  He loved the
things so much himself.  He had hunted his treasures up and down the
earth and to and fro in it, and he wanted them to be gazed on with the
appreciative eye rather than with the cold look of barter and exchange.
He liked this little twenty-year-old woman, because she had the spirit
of beauty within her, and because she seemed so fair and fresh and
unprotected.  And she liked the swarthy Mongol, not for his strange,
exotic setting, but for the sheer kindliness of him, the great,
expansive benevolence and his consummate courtesy, which after all was
nothing but the birthright of a Manchu prince.

There could be no question of love between them, for many reasons, and
never a thought of it passed their minds.  She might have been
something like a niece to him, and he her benevolent uncle.  They never
met outside his store.

He drew from her the story of what of life she had known, carefully,
gently, like the skilled surgeon extracting a splinter from flesh.  The
daughter of a naval surgeon who had died while she was still
young,--and who, Li Sin shrewdly guessed, had been somewhat of a
blackguard,--she lived poorly with her mother, on a meager pension.
She had been brought up decently, educated well, at what must have been
a terrible expense to the mother.  She had not been married, beautiful
as she was, because she had not mixed with people who were to be
regarded as beneath her in social rank.  The people of her own station
were too poor to marry offhand--but there was a young ensign she
mentioned as having met once or twice, and there was a faint blush on
her cheeks as she spoke of it.  For the illustrious and the moneyed she
had either too little fortune or too little lineage.  And that was all.

"Too bad!" Li Sin murmured to himself, and his thoughts would have done
credit to the most adroit of schatchen.  "Too bad!"

She would breeze in, if such a word may be used of her who was as
gentle as a zephyr, bringing always with her the sweetness of spring.

"Good morning!" she would greet him eagerly.  "I wonder if we could
find something--I want a clasp for my hair, for evening wear--something
frightfully inexpensive."

"I think we might find it."  Li Sin would smile, and he would find it.
He took her money, and gave her the article at a just profit on what he
had paid for it.  The only thing gratuitous he gave her was the travel
and the adventure necessary to pick his wonderful trifles up.  Of this
he said nothing, and she was none the wiser.

There came the day when she entered a little excited, a little afraid,
a little nervous.  She wanted something more expensive than usual.  She
was going out that night, she explained, with somebody.

"I am going to be married soon," she blurted out.  "I am engaged."

"To whom?" Li Sin asked quietly.

"A friend of my father's," she answered blushingly.  "Roderick
Dreghorn, the ivory-hunter."

"I wonder if I might ask you to do something," Li Sin said slowly, "and
that is: will you bring your fiancé here some day so that I may
congratulate him?"

"I should love to," she said; and she left him, excitedly happy, Li Sin
saw; but he also noticed that she seemed a little terrified, a little
aghast.

I have told the story of Li Sin to many people, now that he is gone to
his own home and is happy there with his poor and his pear-trees, and
some of them have believed me because they know China and the manner of
man Li Sin is, and some of them have believed me because they know I
abhor lies as I abhor the devil.  But many cannot understand it.  They
cannot see why a Manchu duke should become a merchant on Fifth Avenue.

"And if he is as great a doctor as you say--" they object.

There is a passage in Isaiah, I believe, which speaks of Tyre, "whose
merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honorable of the
earth."  Marco Polo, that ancient Venetian, says of Cathay, that there,
of all professions the most esteemed is that of merchant.  It is above
arms, he says, above learning.  And what obtained in the Yellow Empire
when Hoang-ti led his people across the desert in the misty dawn of
time obtains to-day, from the outer sea to the confines of Mongolia.
An ancient and honorable thing it is, a fit profession for princes, a
thing pregnant with ideals of honesty and fair dealing, a clean thing.
There is nothing anomalous to the eye in Li Sin, a Manchu duke,
unearthing the treasures of forgotten days for the New World, and
exacting a just profit for the work.

As for the medicine, that was another matter.  I could no more imagine
Li Sin accepting money for his healing art than I can imagine him
stealing alms from a blind beggar.  The thing was far too holy for him.
There in that glass-topped studio in his house on Fifth Avenue, above
the great treasure-store, he studied his science with the enthusiasm of
an amateur pursuing a hobby.  A queer place it was, with its retorts
and vials, its glinting instruments, its Rontgen-ray apparatus, its
tubes of deadly serum and of healing drugs.  And beside these were the
quaint adjuncts of Oriental healing: the twisted tubes of herbs,
instruments that seemed like an alchemist's dream, medicines of black,
occult art as well as of benevolence, secret, untraceable poisons,
liquids which, it is whispered, would bring the dead to life for
minutes, which would drive men mad.

Ask the taciturn Lee Fong, on Mott Street, that slant-eyed millionaire.
Ask the leaders of the Hip Sing.  At the Five Companies of San
Francisco, inquire.  They will speak of Li Sin as a demigod of medicine.

One has n't to go as far as that to find out.  There is a
tenement-house on Hudson Street, where the Bracalellos live.  There is
a romping child there called Beata.  For years she was an object of
research to physicians in hospitals, because of her twisted spine.
Nothing could be done, they decided.  They were wrong.  Li Sin saw the
white-cheeked child carried in the subway on a horrible metal
stretcher, strapped to it.  It hurt him--the illnesses of children
always hurt him.  He took charge of her.  She romps about now as other
children do.  There are many cases of that kind.

But above all in my mind there is the tragic case of Mrs. Madge Eaton,
who is now happy as a woman farmer on Long Island.  Li Sin discovered
her creeping up an alleyway to die from hunger, shame, and heartbreak.
Against all protestation he took her home.  Her story was tragic and
very sordid.  She had married John Eaton, a man who had come up to
Maine for a holiday.  He had brought her to New York.  In a month he
had sent her out to work.  She fell ill.  Eaton deserted her, taking
with him all her jewelry, all her money, all her clothes.  When she was
discovered, she was sent to a hospital, and when she emerged from
there, she found herself without courage to kill herself and without
the wherewithal to live.  The police sent her to jail two weeks later.
When she came out, Li Sin found her, broken, hungry, terrified, wanting
to die and yet without courage to face the river.

He cured her.  He brought her back to life and hope and strength.  By
some means he instilled into that frail and timid heart the courage of
a lioness.  But he did one thing, unknown to her, of which she might
not have approved.

There was a tripartite function of Li Sin's: Firstly there was that of
the merchant, whose duty it was to discover and barter rare and costly
things.  Secondly came the physician's, to heal body and mind.  Thirdly
came that of the Manchu prince, to dispense justice.

He called Hong Kop, his body-servant, to him--that subtle and
inscrutable Cantonese.  He looked at the card on which he had scribbled
an address, an address he had extracted from Mrs. Eaton.

"Hong Kop, you will go at once to Colon, in Panama," he announced.

The Cantonese nodded.

"You will go to this address--a gambling-house--and there you will pick
up the trail of John Eaton.  You will pick up the trail and follow it
until you find him.  And when you do find him--"

He paused for an instant.  Again the Cantonese bowed.

"You will kill him, Hong Kop."


Six feet tall, spare as a lance, tanned to a deep brown, hatchet-faced
and yet handsome in some daredevil, hypnotic way, with eyes that
glinted with the vindictive sheen of a rifle-barrel, mouth twisted
slightly,--enough to show the cruelty hidden within--Roderick Dreghorn
lounged into the store with Irene Johns.  There was an amused smile on
his powerful face, as though it pleased him whimsically to accompany
his fiancée on a shopping expedition, to meet her queer friends.

"Li Sin," she said, "this is the man I am going to marry."

The Manchu smiled gravely.  Dreghorn watched him with an amused,
contemptuous glance.

"There is no need to wish felicity," said Li Sin, courteously, "to the
future husband of Miss Johns."  And Dreghorn nodded in an offhand way.
The hunter turned to the girl.

"Didn't you want to get something here?" he asked, "some silk or
something?"  Li Sin noted beneath the man's soft tones the concealed
edge that could cut on occasion like a rawhide whip.  Rapidly Li Sin
was summing the man up in his mind: forty-five, he decided, a man of
the world, a gentleman born, an utter blackguard, a man who had done
and seen evil things.  He had money, too--witness the plain but
expensive cut of his brown tweeds.  Li Sin noted quickly a faint scar
on the temple that he knew to be an old bullet-wound, and a weal across
the fingers of the right hand that only a long knife could have made.

"Would you care to come and help Miss Johns select the silk?" Li Sin
asked.  Dreghorn smiled, and there was a lift to the left corner of his
mouth that showed the teeth.  It was like a dog's threatening snarl.

"I don't think so," he drawled.  "I am not interested in any products
of the yellow or black countries."

"Indeed!" Li Sin murmured.

Excitedly, at the end of the store, Irene Johns told her story.
Dreghorn--in a moment of boredom, Li Sin judged--had dropped in to see
the family of the man he had known fifteen years before in Hongkong.
He had heard of Mrs. Johns and her daughter from some casual
acquaintance.  Li Sin smiled; the casual acquaintance had spoken of the
daughter's beauty, most probably.  Mr. Dreghorn had been so kind to all
of them!  He had taken them out, had showered presents on them, had in
the end asked her to marry him.

"Indeed!" Li Sin thought, and he encouraged her to go on.

He was so big, so powerful, she hinted.  He had done big things, had
had great adventures.  She seemed a little aghast as she mentioned
that.  He was so compelling, she said.

"She is not in love," thought Li Sin.  "She is hypnotized."

He was going on one more expedition, she told the Manchu.  After that,
he was coming home to settle down.  They would have a house in the
country, a farm.

"Agh!" Li Sin exclaimed to himself.  So that was it.  The old, old
story, as old as Cain: the rake, the scoundrel, after sucking the world
dry of wickedness, wanted a wife, home, and children.  Li Sin could
understand how the girl's purity, her lightness, her youth, had
appealed to the world-worn rascal.  He could understand the visions the
man had--the sweet, hawthorn-scented dreams.  It was like a murderer
seeking to wash the blood from his hands with God's pure water.

They left.  Li Sin escorted them courteously to the door.

"Good-by!" he wished them.

"Good-by, my yellow friend," Dreghorn answered contemptuously.  Irene
Johns did not hear it.

Li Sin went above to his apartment.  He clapped his hands for Hong Kop.

"You will go down to where you know, Hong Kop, to the house of Ling Wah
Lee--"

The Cantonese made his eternal bow.

"And you will have him find out for me, Hong Kop, all there is to be
known about Roderick Dreghorn, hunter of ivory, with a bullet-mark on
the forehead and a weal on the right hand, the weal of a Burmese knife."

There is a doctrine in one of the faiths that man is born in original
sin, and that unless he is cleansed by sacrament he is until the end of
time the property of the evil one.  There is an article of dogma in the
same faith that one may become possessed of demons.  If this is true,
then never a sacrament was said over Dreghorn, nor ever was he
confronted with the exorcist's mystic and terrible formula.  Hell
seemed to have employed him all his life and to have made him its brain
and hand.  The first of the story was bad enough, with its record of
treachery, of gainful crimes in the dark lands, of murders concealed
and never explained.  Even Li Sin's worldly-wise mind was shocked by
Hong Kop's report.  There was the incident in the Belgian Congo when
Dreghorn, allied with a corrupt Belgian official, burned a village with
all the inhabitants, shooting down those who tried to escape from the
flames.  They had not produced enough ivory.

"Even madness will not explain that!"  Li Sin shook his head.

There was the incident during the period of the Boxer chaos in
Yuen-Lau, when Dreghorn and an associate had tortured an old mandarin,
hoping to make him unearth treasure.  They had given him the torture of
the bowstring, and the water torture, and the torture of red metal at
his feet.

"And he an old man," Li Sin thought, "four-score and five!"

There was the incident in Mombasaland when the fiendish natives had
captured a lone hunter of ivory, had crucified him on the ground,
smeared with honey for the ants, delirious under the smashing sun.
Dreghorn could have rescued him, for he was well armed and had a large
party of natives.  But he contented himself with stealing the man's
ivory and leaving him there to die.

"That is one thing for which there is no punishment," Li Sin thought.
"No punishment is equal in horror."

Li Sin read another incident, and he read no farther.  It was the story
of Marie Tirlemont, called _Flancs-de-neige_, whom Dreghorn had brought
with him from Maxim's in Paris, down to the Congo.  She had ceased to
amuse Dreghorn a hundred miles south of Leopoldville, and he had
abandoned her alone, in a village of black beasts.

And now Dreghorn, Li Sin mused, wanted to marry.  He wanted to marry
this fair little American girl, pure and delicate as the petal of a
primrose, light and shimmering and gay as iridescence on water--to make
a home with her, to have her bear children.

He called for Hong Kop.

"What is the profit of crime, Hong Kop?" he asked.

The Cantonese thought for a moment.

"The profit of crime is death," he answered.

"Death is a sweet and gentle thing, Hong Kop," his master mused.  "It
comes to the old like a gentle and sweet-scented sleep.  It comes to
the suffering like a grateful anodyne.  On others it falls so quickly
and surely that there is no pain.  It is not the profit of crime, Hong
Kop, except for those who wish much to live."

He mused again, joining his finger-tips together and knitting his brows.

"Unless, instead of being a sweet sleep, it is a nightmare, Hong Kop!
Unless, instead of being an anodyne, it is a horror!  Unless it comes
accompanied by a huge and monstrous fear, a terror that clutches the
heartstrings, a fear that kills!"

He was going away on the morrow, Dreghorn said.  He would be away for
six months, and then he would return, and they would be married.  He
wanted to buy her something before he left, a ring or a bracelet.

"But she wanted to buy it here," he sneered at Li Sin.


"I wanted to buy it here," she replied warmly, "because here I can get
the most beautiful things in the world."

"If you care for that yellow junk," Dreghorn laughed shortly.

"Roderick!" she protested quickly.  She was pained through and through.
Li Sin smiled reassuringly at her.  But Dreghorn wandered on.

"Anything you want," he told Irene; "anything that pleases you."

As he watched him, Li Sin became convinced that the man was in love,
head over heels in, as a boy might be.  The hunter became garrulous,
under his feelings, as under the influence of a drug.

"She spoke of getting the house at Huntingdon decorated in some
Oriental style," Dreghorn laughed.  "She can have it if she wants it.
But I don't see why she could n't have it done in honest white style."

Li Sin smiled blandly as ever.  He might have been receiving a
compliment.

"You don't seem to have a high opinion of Asia or Africa," he remarked
casually.

"I have no use for any color except white," Dreghorn answered brutally.
"Black, yellow, brown, or red."

"It is a harsh thing," Li Sin reproved him.  Irene Johns stood by,
pale, nervous, and hurt.  "It is a grievous thing to wound the body,
but it is a more grievous thing to wound the soul.  And to wound it
unjustly is more grievous still."

"I deal in facts," Dreghorn laughed.

"May I show you a fact?" Li Sin went on.  "You have been in China, and
if I mistake not, you read Chinese."

"Among my many accomplishments," Dreghorn sneered, "is the reading of
Chinese."

Irene looked at him with a sort of fearful agony in her eyes.  She had
never seen his brutality creep out before, and she was shocked at the
sight of him lolling across the counter and striving his utmost to hurt
the smiling Manchu.  Li Sin took up a book from behind him, a broad,
thin book, the stiff parchment pages of which were edged with gold.  He
opened it carefully.  The leaves had the stiffness of steel.

"These are the verses of Ling Tai Fu, of Tientsin," the Manchu said, "a
poet of the last century who had traveled into Russia.  He complains
bitterly of the same prejudice, and he deals with facts, which you deal
with.  Here is his poem 'The Return.'  Perhaps you will translate it."

Dreghorn looked down the page smilingly.

  "They have laughed at me, they of the North--me, of the race of Chang!
  Because of my skin like an autumn leaf, because of my slitted eyes,
  Because they were white as the sun, they said, white as light!
  And yet--whiter than white is the leper.

  White is the hibiscus tree with fluttering blossoms, white as they!
  But whiter than it is the snow which numbs its roots in the ground!
  White are the men of the North as the sun, white as light!
  And yet--whiter than white is the leper."


Dreghorn laughed easily.  Irene shivered with a shock of horror.  Li
Sin smiled.

"Those are facts," the Manchu said.

"Is there any more of this?" the hunter asked.  He turned over the leaf.

"No more," Li Sin answered.  "I should have warned you about those
leaves.  You have cut your hand."

Dreghorn looked at his left thumb.  The edge of the book-leaf had
sheared into it as sharp and as painlessly as the edge of a razor.  A
few minute drops of blood showed on the skin.

"You had better have a little peroxide," Li Sin suggested.

"I 'm not a child," Dreghorn laughed.  "It is n't anything.  Come on,
Irene."

They left the store together, and, as was his wont with favored
customers, Li Sin saw them to the door.  The girl was flushed deep with
mortification, and she shot the Manchu a mute appeal of apology.
Dreghorn smiled again.

"_Au revoir_, my poetical friend," he laughed.

"Good-by!" answered Li Sin, gravely.

Li Sin saw little of Irene Johns for the next six weeks.  Once she came
into the store, but she was nervous and flushed, as though she thought
the Manchu would hold against her the insults Dreghorn had offered him.
But he took pains to show her that he and she were as close friends as
ever.  She was silently grateful, but still nervous.

"Mr. Dreghorn will be back in six months?" the Manchu said.

"In six months," she answered listlessly.  "He is gone to Abyssinia."

"And you will be married soon after?"

"Immediately he comes back, he insists," she said.

The glamour and hypnotism and force of the man's presence no longer
enthralled her, Li Sin could see.  She was fearful of the step she was
taking.  But she was certain it was going to take place.  Once Dreghorn
returned, the quality of his masterfulness would grind down all
opposition, even were she to show any.

"I want you to come in soon," Li Sin told her.  "I have some things
coming from Peking that I want you to see."

But she did not come in.  In place of her there entered the store, six
weeks after Dreghorn had sailed, a tall, heavily built young man with a
tanned face, heavy jaw, and gray eyes.  He asked for Mr. Sin.

"I am Li Sin," the Manchu told him.

"My name is Gray, surgeon on the Cunarder Hibernia, between New York
and Algiers.  Miss Johns asked me to tell you something, and she would
like to see you, if it is not asking too much.  She is prostrated at
home.  Her fiancé is dead."

"Mr. Dreghorn is dead!" Li Sin commented simply.  "How?"

"He came out of the smoking-room one night, after talking to me about
his intended," the surgeon went on glibly.  He seemed to be repeating
something he had rehearsed.  "We were off Algiers, and though the night
was fine, a cross-sea was running.  He said he would not turn in for a
half-hour yet, and the last I saw of him he was leaning against the
starboard rail of the boat-deck.  We never saw anything more of him.
There can be no doubt that he fell overboard."

Li Sin studied him for a few minutes silently.

"Dr. Gray," he said simply, "you will pardon a man who is twenty years
older than you, and who has seen much of the world and much of life,
but--that is not what happened.  Dr. Gray, how did Dreghorn die?"

He continued looking at the young surgeon.  The man was evidently under
a great strain.

"I know Miss Johns," Li Sin went on, "and I knew Dreghorn."

"If you know Miss Johns," the young surgeon blurted out suddenly, "you
know the best and most beautiful woman I have ever seen; and if you
knew Dreghorn, you knew the damnedest scoundrel unhanged."

"That, too, I know," said Li Sin.

He waited an instant.  The surgeon was uncomfortably silent.

"Dr. Gray," the Manchu insisted, "of what did Dreghorn die?"

"If you want to know, and have the right to know," Gray burst out
savagely, "the man died because he had contracted the most virulent
case of leprosy I have ever seen in the tropics.  How he did it, God
only knows.  He was quite well when he left New York except for a rash
on his left hand.  He must have been impregnated with some horrible
virus.  In a few days I had to manacle him in his cabin.  For a week
the man was a shrieking maniac.  I thought something might be done when
we got to port.  There was no chance.  In Algiers they would have put
him in the leper colony.  So one night I took him up to the boat-deck
and let him go overboard."

There was an instant's silence.

"I knew of the man," the doctor said bitterly, "and I can't even pray
to God for his soul!"

"But I must!" said Li Sin.

"You will go up and see Miss Johns," the surgeon reminded him.  "She
will get over it."

"She will get over it, and be happy, and marry a good man," the Manchu
told him.  "I will go to see her."  And they parted.

He went upstairs to his apartment, very slowly, very calmly.  He sat
down and thought for a while.  Softly he clapped his hands.  The silent
Cantonese came.

"Hong Kop," he asked, "tell me, Hong Kop, you who are young, how does
love come?"

In fluting, sibilant Cantonese the servant answered:

"There is beauty," he said, "and it calls to manliness with the call of
cymbals.  They meet and wing upward, as Chung Tzu wrote, 'like a hymn
recited softly at the death of day.'"

"There is beauty, and there is manliness!" the Manchu mused.  "There is
Irene Johns, and there is--"  He smiled an instant, and became as grave
as ever again.  "You will go to Brooklyn, to the Navy Yard, Hong Kop,
and you will find for me an ensign called Nelson.  You will find where
he is, Hong Kop....

"I am getting old, Hong Kop, I am getting old.  The pear gardens of
Tientsin are bursting into silver and mauve.  Birds from the outer sea
are winging northward.  Again with the spring the musicians tune their
lutes of jade.  The throbbing chords do not awaken me, Hong Kop.  Hong
Kop, I am old."

He rose wearily.

"Call the gray limousine, Hong Kop," he directed, "and then go on your
errand."

He stretched his arms out for his fur coat, but suddenly he remembered
something.  He went upstairs to the glass-roofed laboratory; taking a
parcel from a bronze chest, and unwrapping the antiseptic-soaked
coverings, he brought out a book, a broad, thin book, the stiff
parchment pages of which were edged with gold.  Carefully he lighted
the muffle-furnace, and carefully he placed the volume in it.  And
while he waited for the volume to be consumed, softly he began to
recite a quatrain from it, a quatrain of Ling Tai Fu's:

  "White is the hibiscus tree with fluttering blossoms, white as they!
  But whiter than it is the snow which numbs its roots in the ground!
  White are the men of the North as the sun, white as light!
  And yet--whiter than white is the leper."



"IRISH"

Eastward the line of Twenty-fourth Street flowed evenly like a sluggish
river, hazy, dim, antique, mottled by the lights of the little shops,
of blotches and shafts of yellow illumination from the glass panels of
the old houses, iron railings, and small scrofulous gardens.  Past the
old houses, at the juncture of Seventh Avenue and the street, came an
irregular blaze, a sort of ocher ray from a cellar where an Italian had
a coal, ice, and wood business; the glare of the cigar store; the thin
ray of the news-stand kept by the fat, rather dirty old German woman;
the pale, sinister windows of the Chinese restaurant, and the arrogant
blaze from Slavin's saloon.

At no time did the street appear so well as it did now, in the dusk of
the early New York spring.  The darkness, which was not full darkness
but a sort of blue mantle, threw a veil of illusion over it, and
through the veil the lights came softly.  Before the dusk it was crude
realism, and when night fell there would be sinister shadows.  But now
it had a little beauty.  It was like a picture a painter might have
done some centuries ago, an unimportant and rather brutal picture, and
time and grime and proper lighting had given it such value that one
would pause before it for an instant, not knowing why the charm.

The old man sitting in the doorway of one of the little houses with the
yellowish patch of grass surrounded by a warped iron railing hated the
street, with the dull, cold hatred of old men.  Yet he could n't get
away from it.  Often his son had suggested, and his wife when she was
alive had suggested that they move to the country.  "Yerra, do ye call
that country?" he had snarled at the mention of Westchester, and Long
and Staten islands; and that had killed the suggestion and they had
tried to have him move up-town, to Harlem, but, "Yerra, what would I be
doing up there?" he had rasped.  The son had spoken of the pleasant
places in Brooklyn, out Flatbush way.  "Yerra, is it Brooklyn?"  What
impression he had of that worthy borough is hard to imagine, but he
spoke with devastating contempt.

The truth was, the old man was wedded to Twenty-fourth Street.  He was
like some of his race who have ancient, uncomely wives whom they
despise and hate but without whom they cannot live.  There was the
place it was fated for him to be.  There was the shop where he got
shaved every morning.  There was the saloon where he had his three
drinks a day, regular as the clock--one before lunch, one before
dinner, and one before he went to bed.  There was the news-stand where
he snapped the daily paper from the hands of the old German woman.  If
an elevated train on Seventh Avenue were late, he would notice it.  He
had decided to be there, and there he remained.

To the eye the old man was a forbidding, a cold figure.  It was more
this forbidding and cold quality that made him old, rather than years.
He could not have been much over fifty.  But this fixity of habit, this
impression of being a monument, had endowed him with antiquity.  He was
not a big man, but he gave the impression of size, of importance.  His
hair was gray, and that gave him dignity.  His eye was of a colorless,
aloof blue, the blue of ice.  His gaunt, clean-shaven face had
something ecclesiastical about it.  His clothes were always a decent
and expensive black, and a heavy gold watch-chain spanned his vest.  He
had always a stick by his side.  His shoes were good and roomy, and
somewhat old-fashioned.  His hat was of black, hard felt, not a derby,
nor yet a high hat, but one of those things that suggest property and
respectability, and somehow land.  His name was Mr. McCann.

The social standing of Mr. McCann on Twenty-fourth Street was something
of a phenomenon.  Every one accorded him a sort of a terrified respect.
The Italian coal-and-wood man; the German newsdealer; the man in the
cigar store where he indulged in his only vulgarity, plug tobacco,
which he cut with a penknife and crumbled in the palm of his hand; the
bartender in Slavin's who fixed his drinks to a nicety and had a cheery
and respectful "Well, Mr. McCann?" for his each entry.  The street
recognized he was of them, but immensely superior.  He was not a
gentleman, so the respect was not from caste to caste but something
much more real.  None ever became familiar with him, nor would any sane
man think of insulting him.  Aloof and stern, with terrible dignity, he
moved through the street.  Even the children hushed as he drew near.

None in the street ever examined their hearts or minds as to why he was
paid their tribute of respect.  If they had they would have found no
reason for it, but they would have paid it to him all the same.  He was
Mr. McCann.

And this was all the more strange because he was father of Irish Mike
McCann, between whom and the middle-weight boxing championship of the
world there stood only two men.  Irish they loved; were proud of.  But
it was n't to the father of Irish that the respect was paid.  It was to
Mr. McCann.


A very strange thing about Mr. McCann was this: that he could only know
time and space and circumstances in relation to himself.  As thus:
Seventh Avenue was not Seventh Avenue to him, a muscular, grimy street
that plodded for a space on the west side of Manhattan, crashed
northward through the Twenties, galloped toward Forty-second, crossed
Broadway recklessly, and at Fifty-ninth met the armed front of the
park, died.  To Mr. McCann it was only an artery that crossed his
street.  Also, winter was not winter, not the keenness of frost, the
tumbling, swirling miracle of the snow, but just the time when he put
on his overcoat.  Nor did summer mean the blossoming of the boughs to
him nor the happy population on the river and the beach, and the little
Italians with their ice-cream carts, nor children crooning over great
segments of watermelon, but just a time when it was oppressively hot.
And great national events only marked points in his life.  He would not
say, for instance, that he was married about the time of the war with
Spain, but that the Maine was sunk about the time he was married.

All his life was under his eyes, like a map one knows perfectly--a
rectangular pattern.  There were no whorls, no arabesques.  There were
no delicate shadings, no great purple splash, but precise black and
white.  There were no gaps he had jumped, to be a mystery in his latter
years.  All was evident.

He could see himself in his boyhood on the Irish hills, among the plain
farmer family he was born of.  He could place his father, plain old
tiller of the soil, always smoking a clay pipe; his mother,
warm-hearted, bustling, a great one for baking bread; his brothers and
sisters, honest clods.  But he himself seemed to have been born
superior, was superior.  There was no mystery.  It was a fact.  He
accepted it.  And from him his mother accepted it.

And by his mother it was impressed on the whole family that their son
and brother Dennis was superior.  For him better clothes, easier work,
and when he decided that farm life was not for him, no objection was
made to the sending of him to college in Cork.  But after a couple of
years there he had made no progress with studies, and it seemed to him
that the studies were not worth while.  And he returned home.

They had tried to get a government office for him then, a very small
one.  But that also required examinations, which he did not seem able
to pass.  So that a great contempt for books grew up within him.  And
then he grew convinced that Ireland had not enough opportunity for him.
And the family got the money to send him to America.

The years at the college in Cork had intensified his sense of
superiority so that when he came to America he felt that the Irish he
met there were a very inferior people.  And nothing about the city
pleased him; everything was much better in Ireland, he decided, and he
said Ireland was a wonderful country--the only thing wrong with it was
the people.  And the queer thing about it was that the Irish in New
York agreed with him.  His few years at Cork gave them the impression
he had accumulated learning, and the race has a medieval respect for
books and writing.

"True for you, Mr. McCann, true for you," they would answer his remarks
on the inferiority of the Irish Irish.  "But what can you expect and
the centuries of oppression they have been under?"

"If they had independence enough, there would have been no oppression."
"Ay, there 's a lot in what you say, Mr. McCann."

His superiority disarmed them, cowed them.  If one of themselves, or a
foreigner had uttered the words, I can imagine the rush, the dull thud,
the door being taken from its hinges, the mournful procession to the
widow's house.

This aloofness, this superiority helped him, or, rather, made him, in
the business he had chosen--life-insurance.  The wisdom he uttered
about life and death to a race who considers life only as the
antechamber of eternity impressed his hearers, and they were afraid,
too, not to take out policies from this superior, frigid, and evidently
authoritative young man.

His superiority also brought him a wife, a timid, warm-hearted girl who
brought a tidy sum of money as a fortune, which he spent upon himself.

She was terrified of him and very much in love with him for years.  And
then the love went and the terror remained.  She bore him three
children, two sons and a daughter.  And in due time she died.  But not
until life had run pleasantly and respectfully for her husband, for all
that he despised it, not as vanity and affliction of spirit but as
inferiority and irritation.

And one son died, and a while after her mother's death Moyra, the
daughter, ran away, contracting a very inferior marriage with a
brakeman on the Pennsylvania Railroad.  And the time came when the old
man had to retire from the field of insurance, new methods, new
companies coming in.  The native Irish died of consumption and
pneumonia, and the Irish-Americans cared not a tinker's curse for
superiority.  So his kingdom vanished.  And Poles, and French, and
Italians, and the folk who came from Palestine by way of Russia, and
even Chinese, jostled him.  And he was left with a great sense of
superiority and a growing sense of futility and one son, "the brilliant
Irish-American middle-weight, contender for the world's championship,
'Irish' Mike McCann!"

All that was needed now, the old man felt, to crown a useful and
superior life was a material reward.  Money he did n't care for--he had
all he wanted, decent clothes, a house, tobacco, his three drinks a
day; and "The Advocate," an Irish weekly, he read for news of people in
Cork, puzzling out this genealogy and that.  As, for instance, he would
read of a Patrick Murphy fined for drunkenness at Youghal, and he would
say: "I wonder now, would that be a son of ould James Murphy of
Ballinure.  Sure, I would n't put it past him.  A damned drunken family
they always were."  Or a name in litigation would strike him.  "Them
Hamiltons were always the ones for going to law.  A dirty connection!"
If a pier or a piece of public property were being builded, his comment
was: "I wonder who's getting the money out of that."  If a political
speech were reported he would sneer: "Yerra, John Redmond and them
fellows ought to be ashamed of themselves, and them plundering the
people, with their tongue in their cheek."  "The Advocate" was a great
comfort to him.

He often thought, as he was reading it, of how much he would like to
return to Ireland and show the ignorant the fruits of a superior life
led in hard work and wisdom.  But for that he would have to show
something tangible--even money would not be enough, so queer those
people were.  To impress them at all he would have to have a title of
some kind: Alderman, or Judge, or Sheriff, "the Honorable Dennis
McCann," and to have that he would need to have gone into politics, and
that was not a career for him.  To succeed there he would have to be
able to mix with the common people, drink with them, be
hail-fellow-well-met with a crowd of the dirtiest kind of Irish.  No,
he could never have done that.

No, but his son might have.  Sure, why could n't he?  Wasn't he reared
right among them?  And though he came from a superior house, sure, that
would only be an advantage.  They would look up to him as well as be
friends with him.  And with the brains he ought to have, considering
his father, there was no office in the land for which he could n't be
fitted.  Surrogate, or mayor, or governor, even!  What was to prevent
him if he 'd been the sort of child he ought to have been?

And if he had been that, there would have been a monument for the old
man.  There would have been a justification for his life--not that he
felt he needed any, but just to show.  And people would have recognized
how much the young one owed to the old one.  Then he could have gone
back to Ireland for a visit; he would n't have stayed there; it was a
good country to come from, as he always said.  But even the ignorant
common people would have given him credit.  He could hear them now
talking to his son: "Ah, sure, if your Honor's father had had the
chances you had, sure it is n't Mayor of New York he 'd be, but
President of America."  "Yerra, 't is easy to see where you got the
brains, my lad.  A chip of the ould block."  "Dennis McCann's son and
him governor of the Empire State.  Well, you can thank God for your
father, my bould boyo."

There would have been an evidence for him, an evidence he was entitled
to.

And look you the dirty trick had been played on him.  Instead of the
son who would crown his gray hairs with honor, who would justify him,
he was father to a common prize-fighter, a man who was not looked on
with respect by any.  The idol, perhaps, of the New York Irish, but of
the ignorant Irish.  True, he was a good boy; he didn't drink.  But
neither did his father except in reason.  He was generous with his
money, but, after all, what was money?  Always smiling, always
laughing.  "Sonny" they called him and "Irish"; that was no way to
attain dignity.  Even the Italian coal-ice-and-wood man called him
"Irish."  The old man would like to see any one call himself "Irish."

And he could n't listen to any reason.  The old man had an opening for
him in business up-town.  A friend of his, an undertaker, a very
superior man, who only did the best kind of trade, had offered young
Michael a chance.  But the prize-fighter had laughed.

"In a way I 'm in that line of business myself.  Why change?"

The old man had shaken with rage.

"Get out of my sight, you impertinent pup!"

What were they thinking of him in Ireland at all, at all?  Some one, of
course, would write home and tell all about it.  And if his name, that
should be treated with respect, came up, some one would laugh: "Ould
Dennis McCann!  Ah, sure, what's he, anyway?  Sure, his son's only a
common fighter."

He could never get away from it; was never let get away from it.  Why,
even to-night now, not a half-mile away at Madison Square Garden,
Michael was fighting.  And a great fuss they were making about it, too.
Some Italian he was fighting, and if he won he was to get a fight with
the champion.  He 'd probably win--he always did--and beat the
champion, too.  And the end of it would be the honorable name would be
dragged more through the dirt of the newspapers.

"I wonder will he forget to bring home 'The Advocate,'" the old man
thought.  "He 'd better not."


Before the bell had gone for the first round, before the referee had
called them together for instructions, before even the gloves were
laced on him, "Irish" knew he was a beaten man.

Below him--he could see from his corner of the ring--the great garden
was packed, a yellowish gray foam of faces above the dark liquid of
bodies.  Above those the galleries were great ovals lined with faces.
And here and there were little tendrils of smoke.  And the red caps of
attendants.  And occasionally the flash of metal buttons as police and
firemen hovered in the aisles.

And at the shelf around the ringside reporters with their pencils and
paper, and telegraphers with their clicking instruments.  The
timekeeper, fingering watch and gong.  In another corner of the ring
the thin, lugubrious referee--himself once a famous lightweight.  And
everywhere lights, that in a minute or so would go out, and there would
be only a great blue one over the ring.  And over the house was the
rippling hush that at any instant would burst into a great volume of
cheers; a deep roar as of gunnery.

Across the ring, in his corner, the Italian middle-weight lolled,
chatting with his seconds.  Irish could occasionally glimpse the olive
body; the dark hair and eyes; the even, grim face, unmarked save for
the marred left ear and the minute flattening of the nose.

"... between the leading contenders of the world's middleweight
championship, Nick Chip [so they had Americanized Niccolo Chiapetta] of
Buffalo, and Irish Mike McCann...." and the sentence was lost in the
roar of the Garden.

As he came to the center of the ring for the referee's instructions, to
hear the interpretation of the rules of hitting while holding and about
what was and what was not a clinch, he studied the alert, smiling
Italian.  Yes, Chip was far and away the best man he had ever met; too
good for him, much too good.  If he had only waited a year, waited six
months, even; five or six months more of stiff, good fighting and he
could have taken the Italian easily.  A little more experience and a
little more confidence if he could only have waited.

But he could n't wait; he could n't afford to.  Neither he nor the old
man could afford to.

They shook hands and returned to their corners.  The whistle blew,
ordering the seconds out.

"Don't box him, Irish.  Stay with him.  Get in close, and when you get
him open, bam!  See, just bam!" Old Maher, his trainer, whispered as he
ducked out.  "See, no fancy stuff.  Just sock him.  How are you
feeling, Irish?"

"Fine."

"At 'a baby!"

_Bong-g-h!_  He turned and walked to the center of the ring.

The Italian had dropped into his usual unorthodox pose.  His open right
glove fiddling gently at the air, his left arm crooked, the glove
resting against his left thigh.  He moved around the ring gently, like
a good woman dancer.  About him was an immense economy of movement.  He
seemed wide open--a mark for any boxer's left hand.  But Irish knew
better.  The Latin would sway back from the punch and counter like
lightning.  The old champion was wise to lie low and not to fight this
man until he was compelled to.

If he could only spar him into a corner and rush him there, taking the
punches on the chance of smashing him on the ropes....  But the Italian
glided around like a ghost.  He might have been some sort of a wraith
for shadow-boxing, except for the confident, concentrated eyes.

A minute's fiddling, shifting of position, light sparring.  The
creaking of the boards the _shuff-shuff-shuff_ of feet.

"Ah, why don't you walk in and kill him, Irish?  He's only a Guinea!"
came a voice from the gallery.

"He 's a yellow.  He 's a yellow, da Irish," an Italian supporter
jeered.

"Irish" could wait no longer.  He feinted with his left, feinted again.
The left shot out, missed the jaw, came home high on the head.  The
right missed the ribs and crashed on the Latin's back.  A punch jarred
Irish on the jaw.  An uppercut ripped home under his heart.  At close
quarters the Italian was slippery as an eel.  The garden roared delight
at the Irish lad's punches, but Irish knew they were not effective.
And the Italian had hurt him; slightly, but hurt him.

A spar, another pawing rush; light, smart blows on the ropes.  "Break!
break!" the cry of the referee.  Creaking of ropes and whining of
boards.  A patter of applause as the round came to an end.  A chatter
of voices as the light went up.  The clicking of telegraph instruments.

"At 'a boy!  Keep after him," Maher greeted.

As he sat down in his corner Irish was grim.  Yes, the Italian was too
good for him; he had been afraid of this: that the Italian would
outgeneral him into attacking all the time.  A little more experience,
the fights that mean a hundred times the theory, and he would have lain
back and forced Chip to stand up and face him instead of sniping him on
the run.  The confidence of six or seven more fights and it would n't
have mattered to him what the gallery was shouting, what the ringside
thought.  He could have made Chip stand up and fight, and in a round or
so the Garden would have been with him.

If he had only had a little more experience--if only he had been able
to wait!

Ah, well, what was the use of grousing!  He was here to fight.

"Can't you rough him up a little in the clinch, Irish?" Maher whispered.

"No, I 'll fight him fair."

"Just a little to get his goat."

"No."

The lights went out, leaving only the great glare of the ring.  The
whistle blew; clatter of buckets and bottles.  The seconds clambered
down.  The gong clashed shudderingly.  The second round.

He walked slowly forward over the white canvas under the bluish white
arc-light, to meet his man, and then suddenly from his walk he jumped,
as some jungle thing might jump.  He jumped without setting, without
any boxer's poise.  Right for the poised, alive body he jumped.  And
his hands hooked for drive and uppercut.  He could feel the sense of
shock as they both went home, but to unvital points.  The left hand
thudded on the neck.  The right crashed on the Italian's left arm.  He
was in close now, driving short lefts and rights to the body, but he
was handling something that bent and sprang back like a whalebone, that
moved, swayed with suppleness like some Spanish or Argentine dancer,
and soon elbows locked his arms subtly, and he could do nothing.

"Come on, break!"  The referee was trotting about the ring like a
working terrier.  Peering, moving from right to left.  "Break!  Break!"
His voice had the peculiar whine of a dog on a scent.

He stood back, sparred a moment.  Again Irish rushed.  He felt on
either side of his face sharp pains as of slaps with the open hand on
the cheeks.  Irritating things.  He could feel the Latin shake as the
left hand caught him flush on the ear.  A tattoo like taps of little
hammers played at his body.  Irish's right glove came full into the
Italian's ribs.  He could feel the rush of air through the Italian's
teeth.  He brought the hand up with a short chop on the Italian's neck.
A scuffle; a semi-wrestle.  And again his arms were locked.

"Come on, boys!  Come on!  Break quick!"

They stood apart, sparred.  Irish feinted with the left hand.  Feinted
with the right.  Changed feet quickly, right foot foremost now.
Pivoted home with the left hand--Joe Walcott's punch.  The Italian
side-stepped, and caught him on the ear as he swung to the ropes.
Irish turned quickly.  A flurry of gloves.  Light lead and counter.
Clinch.

"You're good, Nick!"

"Y 'ain't so bad yourself, Irish."

As the bell finished the round and he walked toward his corner, he was
surprised, looking down at himself, to find angry red welts on his body
where what he thought was a light tattoo had been beaten....

Yes, he thought between rounds, another little while, another pound of
experience, and for all his cunning, his generalship, he could have
beaten Nick.  And then between him and the championship there would
have been only the champion, and the old champion's day was past.  He
was getting fat, and satisfied, and drinking--and that was bad!  And
going around the country to Boston and New Orleans and Seattle, beating
third-raters and then mainly on points, and lying low, very low indeed,
whenever Nick Chip's name was mentioned, or even his, Irish Mike
McCann's.  Only another six months and he could have taken on the men
the champion had beaten: Paul Kennedy of Pittsburgh, and the clever
Jewish lad who went by the Irish name of Al Murphy--that fight would
have taught him a lot--and the Alabama Kid, the hunched Negro
middle-weight who hit like a flail, and Chicago Johnny Kelly--who
fought with his right hand first, a hard lad to reach, but he could
have beaten him.  Could have beaten them all.

He wanted to be champion--knew he could be, with time and experience.
And what there was for him in the championship was not personal glory
and not money, but a strange pride of ease that was hard to explain.
All he could do well was this athletic feat of fighting with gloves.
There was intuition, a sort of gift.  His body balanced right.  His
left hand moved easily.  His right was always in position.  All his
fights he had won easily.  But he had never been up against any one as
good as this Italian veteran.

It seemed to him only right that an Irishman--or an Irish-American,
which was better still--should hold the middle-weight and heavy-weight
championships.  Fighting--clean, hard struggle--was the destiny
apportioned to them.  He knew enough of the history of his race to
remember they had fought under every banner in Europe--the Irish
Brigade at Fontenoy, and the men who were in the Pope's Zouaves, and
Russia and Germany knew them, and the great regiments the English had,
Munsters and Leinsters and Enniskillen Dragoons, and in New York was
the beloved Sixty-ninth, the Fighting Sixty-ninth.

Vaguely in his mind there were thoughts which he could not translate
into words, it not being his craft, that there was some connection
between the men who fought in a padded ring with gloves and the men who
went gallantly into battle with two flags above their heads, the flag
they served faithfully and the little wisp of green they loved.  The
men in the ring stood for the green in the field, perhaps.  And we
should see in the Irish boxer what the cheering ranks of Irish going
into battle were.  Fight squarely in the ring, fight gallantly, fight
to the last drop, and win gallantly and lose gallantly.  And let no man
say: There is a dirty or mean fighter.  And let no man say: There is a
coward.

There were Irish names in the ring that made old men's hearts flutter
and young men wish they had been born years before.  Old John L.
Sullivan (God rest the gallant battered bones!) and Tom Sharkey of
Dundalk, who never knew when he was beaten, and old Peter Maher, who
was somewhere in the house.  And there was another name in the mist of
past days, the name of a middle-weight champion who had been greatest
and most gallant of them all, the elder Jack Dempsey, the Non-pareil.
None like him, none!  Irish of the Irish, most gallant of them all, he
sleeps in a green grave in the West somewhere, and in all men's hearts.

And Irish had thought humbly to fill the Non-pareil's shoes, to fight
as hard as he fought, to win as chivalrously, to lose as well, and in
his corner as he fought the ghost of the great Nonpareil would be.  And
the roar of the house as he would walk out at the referee's call, the
champion, Irish-American, in his tights of green, and around his waist
the starry Western flag.

Ah, well!

The shrill cut of the whistle, and the chief second leaned forward and
wiped his face.

"Fift' round, Irish.  Keep at him, boy!"

The gong, and the hushed house.

He noticed now that the Italian fighter was no longer resting his left
hand semi-casually on his hip, kept up no longer his poise of an
Argentine dancer.  The Buffalo man's left hand was extended like an
iron bar, his shoulder hunched to his jaw for a shield, his head sunk
low, as a turtle's head is half-drawn under its carapace; his feet well
apart.  The man's oily black hair was a tangled mop, and on his ribs
were red blotches.  His lips were set in a wide line.  His black,
ophidian eyes snapped and glowed.  His poised right hand flickered like
a snake's tongue.

And he was punching, punching as hard as he could, hitting squarely
with knuckles and every ounce of weight--careless of the economy of the
ring that tells a man to save his hands, for a boxer's hands are a
boxer's life, and every hurt sinew, every broken knuckle, every jarred
delicate bone counts in the long run.  The Italian was hitting, hitting
like a trip-hammer, hitting for his title.

They faced each other, the Italian poised, drawn like a bowstring,
aiming like a sharpshooter, Irish, jigging on his toes, careless of
guarding, feinting with the right hand, breaking ground, feinting with
the left, feinting with the right again, and then a sudden plunging
rush.  The jar to his neck as the Italian's straight left caught him
flush on the mouth, the whirling crash of infighting, the wrestling
clinch.  No longer the referee called, "Break! break!" but tore at them
with hysterical hands.  A tacit understanding grew between them to
protect at all times, and as they drew apart they hooked and
uppercutted, Irish with an insane mood of fighting, the Italian with a
quick deliberation: _Snap!  Snap!_ the punches.

Patter of feet, and creak of the boards, and little whine of the ropes.
The great blue light overhead, the click of the telegraph instruments
below.  The running feet of the referee and the nervous patting of his
hands, _clop! clop!_  The seconds with their eyes glued on the fighting
men, and their hands sparring in sympathy.  The mooing roar of the
crowd and their louder tense silence.  And the regular gong, the short
respite, hardly a second it seemed, though the interval was a
minute--and the gong again.

Once they were so carried away they paid no attention to it, but fought
on.  Only the referee parted them.  Irish held out his glove in apology
and they shook hands.  The garden seemed to shake to the cheering.


Whip of lead in the tenth round, crash of counter, deep sock of
infighting.  Clinch; break.  A half-second's inattention on the
Italian's part, and the left hand of Irish crashed home to the jaw.

Himself did not understand what had happened until he noticed the
crumpled figure on the boards and heard the referee:

"Get back, McCann.  Get back! ... One! ... two..."  An immense hysteria
of sound filled the house.  Men jumped on seats.  The telegraph
instruments clattered madly.  Somewhere near the ring was a fist fight.

"Three!"

The crumpled figure twitched.  At four it was dragging itself to its
hands.  The glazed eyes blinked.  Life returned.  The Italian shook his
head.  At seven he was on his hands and knees, his head clearing.  At
eight he was kneeling on one knee, one glove resting on boards.  God!
how long the seconds were, Irish thought.

"Nine!"  Slowly the Italian rose.

The Garden was no longer filled with human beings but with instruments
of baritone sound.  It hit the roof, rebounded, whirled, surged.  All
about Irish was sound, sound.  In front of him the Italian weak at the
knees.  The referee hunched like a bowler.  Irish jumped in, fists
swinging.  His fists met crossed arms, elbows, shoulders, but not jaw
or head.  And suddenly the Italian was clinging to him, as a terrified
cat will cling--he could n't tear himself loose.  It took the referee
and him to tear the Italian away.

Insane with the din, blind with excitement, he rushed again to meet the
beautiful diagonal coverup, left arm across heart and plexus, right
crooked about throat and jaw.  Again the clinging of the cat.  And he
felt the Italian growing stronger.  It was like a dead man coming to
life again.  Life was flowing slowly back to shoulders, from shoulders
to arms and hands, to hips and knees.

He stood back to consider this miracle, to think what to do next.  Two
shaking lefts caught him in the face.

And the gong rang and his chance was gone.

Yes another six months and he could have won.  He would have known how
to keep his head, how to finish the Italian crisply.  He had him out,
out clean.  Another punch would have finished it.  And he had n't
experience enough--another six months.

Well, what was the use of grousing!  It could n't be helped.  He could
n't pass the fight up when it was offered to him.  Right at home, and
so much money.

The money had been needed for the home and the old man.  It was funny
how much a home cost even on Twenty-fourth Street, and the old man was
used to a certain way of living.  He liked to have a cook, and a girl
to do the work around the house.  That was the way it was in Ireland.
And the old man needed his decent clothes and his spending money for
his little drink and his tobacco and papers, and things like that.  He
couldn't very well put the old man in lodgings.  He wasn't accustomed
to that.  He wanted his home and the cook and girl.  He always was
accustomed to it, and why should n't he have it?

But a house took an awful lot of money.  For what the house cost he and
the old man could have stayed at a swell hotel.  But the old man liked
to be by himself.  You could n't blame him; the old man was entitled to
a home.  He was a queer, crusty sort, the old man.  No harm in him, you
know, but just could n't get on.

And for all that people thought, a boxer's money was n't easy.  A
middle-weight did n't get the money light-weights and heavy-weights
got.  If he 'd won the championship--ah, that was all right!  Let it
go!  But when you split fifty-fifty with your manager, there was only
half of what you fought for; and there was expenses, too.  You had to
travel a lot, and be nice to people, too.  You had to spend a lot in
saloons, though you never drank yourself.  Keep your end up with the
crowd.  And there was always old fighters out of luck, and some of them
had families, too.  You could n't refuse them even if you 'd wanted to.
And who 's going to help out a fighter except a fighter?  And there was
always a lot of poor folks.

It seemed a pity, even for the money end, not to have waited.  If he 'd
waited he 'd have had the championship, and then he 'd have been fixed
for life.

If his old man had been a different kind of old man he 'd have gone to
him and said: "Hey, old timer, how about going easy on the jack for a
while, hey?  Just lay off a bit until I get things right.  Gi' me
another half-dozen fights under my belt, see, and I 'll drop this
Guinea cold.  And then the champion 'll have to give me a fight--the
papers 'll make him, and you know what he is.  He 's a bum.  So what do
you say we get us a couple o' rooms, hey, and go easy for a while?
What do you say?"

A different kind of old man would have said: "Sure.  We 'll take our
time, and we 'll knock this Guinea for a row of jam-jars.  And as for
the champion, it's a cinch."

But he was n't that kind of old man.  He did n't hold with this
fighting, nohow.  He had no use for it.  And he was n't the kind of old
guy you could talk to.  Irish thought he must have had a hard time in
his life.

Ah, well; he was entitled to a good time now.  Let him have his own
way.  Irish could always make money.  It did n't matter so much, after
all, did it?  The only thing that hurt him was that he would never draw
the Stars and Stripes through the green Irish tights....

And he could have, if he 'd had only six months.


Irish was aware now as he answered the bell that his bolt was shot.
The high pitch of concentration had gone.  With the dropping of the
Italian, and the Italian's escape, he had reached the high point of his
fighting, and now must go down.  His punch would be heavy still, but it
would lack the terrific speed, the speed of shock, that carries a
knock-out.  And the effect of the cumulation of blows from the Italian
sharpshooter was beginning to tell.  Through the bruises on his body
and neck and the puffiness of his face, energy was flowing out of him
like water from some pierced vessel.  The stinging lefts to his face
had made it hard for him to breathe, and his hands were swollen inside
his gloves, and all of a sudden his legs were tired.

Into ten rounds of whirlwind fighting he had foolishly put everything,
gambled energy and hands and brain.

And he sensed with a great sinking of his heart that Chip was drawing
ahead of him now, drawing away from him in the contest, with the
inevitableness of the winner drawing away from the beaten man, forging
ahead while the other plods hopelessly on....  With the quick telepathy
of the ring the Italian knew Irish had cracked, that he was gone.  And
now the energy he had saved by making his man come to him he could use,
he must use.  For that knock-down in the tenth was a high score of
points against him.  And he was afraid of a draw.  He would have to
fight Irish again.  Not again!  He must knock him out.

He met the futile rushes with stinging lefts.  At close quarters he
ripped home his hands mercilessly.  As they drew apart he stalked his
man.  _Smack!  Smack!_  It was no hard matter to avoid the rushing of
Irish.  God! what a glutton Irish was!  What he could take without
going down!

Mechanically, stolidly, dully, Irish boxed.  All about him now was the
hoarse murmur of speculation, and the din of it dazed him a little, and
the light.  And from a cut in his forehead the blood was running into
his eyes.

Four times the gong crashed, the end and opening of a round, and the
end and opening of another round.  Dully he went to his corner.  The
splash of water in his face did not revive him, nor the current from
the whipping towels, nor the slapping of his legs.

"Don't let him knock you out, Irish.  Hold him.  Only two more rounds.
Don't let him knock you out."  Maher's fierce whisper hit at his
ear-drums.  So it was as bad as that, hey?

"Hold on to him, kid.  Don't fight him.  Hold him."

The bell rang.  They pushed him to his seat.  Wearily he moved toward
the center of the ring.

"Look out!" some one called.

The Italian had sprung from his corner with the spring of a cat.  And
Irish felt surprisedly that he had been struck with two terrific
hammers on the jaw.  And as he wondered who had hit him his knees
buckled surprisingly, and he was on his hands and knees on the floor.

And he heard some one say: "... three ... four..."  He struggled to his
feet.  Somewhere Maher was shouting.  "Take the count, Irish."  Irish
dully wondered what he meant.

And now Chip was in front of him, concentrated, poised.  And once more
the hammer crashed on the jaw.  And he tumbled to the boards on his
side.

He was very dull, very dazed.  For a while he knew nothing.  And then
he understood; the referee pumping his hand up and down, and the roar
of the crowd.

"Eight!"

As he moved he felt the ropes, and blindly he groped for them, pulling
himself to his feet somehow.  About him the din surged.  The referee
stepped back.  The Italian was pawing at the referee's arm, protesting.
Irish understood.  Chip wanted the fight stopped, did n't want to hit
him any more.  Ah, he was a good kid, Chip was.

And then the ring slithered underneath him; the hand grasping the rope
grew lifeless, let go; and the lights went out for him; and Irish
crashed forward on his face.


The old man looked at the battered face above the blue serge suit.

"Well," he said, "it must have been a grand fight entirely!"

"It was a great fight," Irish grinned, "and a good man won."

"Meaning yourself?"

"No, meaning the Guinea."

"So you were beat, eh?" the old man jeered.  "I never thought you were
much good at it."

"Ah, I don't know."  And Irish grinned again.

"Tell me," the old man snapped, "did you bring me 'The Advocate'?"

"I did."  And Irish handed it over.

"'T is a wonder you remembered it," the old man snarled.  "And the fine
lacing you 're after taking!"

And Irish grinned again.  Wasn't he a queer, grumpy old man!



BY ORDEAL OF JUSTICE

Very much as though he were entering a disreputable place, Matthew
Kerrigan slipped furtively from the taxicab into the hallway of the old
New York mansion made over into an apartment-house.  He stood at the
door, portly, important, wrapped in his fur coat.  He pushed the button
marked "Mr. Sergius."  A young Russian butler admitted him.

"Just say a Mr. Smith," Kerrigan announced importantly.  Across the
Russian boy's harsh features there was the shadow of contempt.  He
reappeared in an instant and held open a door for Kerrigan.

Kerrigan had been expecting something of the dark, perfumed, cheap
interior of a palmist's studio; or the meretricious mystery of a
clairvoyant apartment with its crystal glass on faded velvet.  Even
Kerrigan's untrained Broadwayish mind was awe-struck by the huge,
somber living-room into which he was ushered.  He sensed, rather than
understood, the richness of the pictures and hangings, the beautiful
ceiling.  Only in books and papers had he seen anything like the great
white borzoi lying before the roaring fireplace like a patient cat.
The man he had come to see was sitting by the fire; dead-white features
against a black background.  Lean, emaciated, with his full black
beard, black cassock, and high black headdress of the Greek monk, he
seemed more spirit than body.  He looked at Kerrigan with the insolence
of a prince.

"Yes?"  He did not ask Kerrigan to sit down.

Kerrigan had planned a neat speech, somewhat humorous, cynical,
patronizing, but it had fled from his memory.  He felt a sort of vague
terror, as though this man were probing, uninvited, inside his soul and
mind.

"I heard--down-town--" he muttered.

"Yes!" the monk said impatiently.  "What do you want me to do?"

"I wondered, Mr.--ah, Mr.--"

"Brother Sergius!"

"I wondered, Brother Sergius, if it were possible to hold converse--or
see--or have some communication--some certain communication--with a
person who 's been dead some time, some fourteen years--"

The monk was looking at him keenly.  What had this well-fed business
man, with the sweeping mustache and obviously massaged face, to do with
the dim inhabitants of Death?

"How did this man die?" the monk Sergius asked.

"By accident," Matthew Kerrigan answered.  "He drowned himself."

"What interest have you in him?"

"They say he killed himself on account of me," Kerrigan's voice broke
out as though he were pleading to a judge.  "It's not true!"

"You don't know whether it's true or not?"  The Greek monk was studying
Kerrigan's terrified features.

"Can it be done?" Kerrigan was surprised at himself, so hoarse his
voice sounded, so sincere his tones.  "I must know about it.  Can it be
done?"

"It can be done."  The monk nodded.

"If there 's any fee--" Kerrigan suggested.

"There is no fee."  The monk laughed contemptuously.  "I act for the
good of souls, when it is necessary."  He watched Kerrigan intently for
some minutes.  "On Monday morning--at two in the morning--if the
weather is clear, I will send for you.  Leave your name and address
with the butler."  And he turned again to the book he was reading,
oblivious of Kerrigan, as a great lord might be of the peasant standing
awkward and awe-stricken in his presence.


Financial agents admire Matthew Kerrigan.  He is the sort of person who
gives them no trouble.  They are more cordial toward him than they are
toward great bankers or great Wall Street men.  For great
bank-presidents and stock-manipulators wage terrific and lyrical
battles on the terrain of commerce, and though there are great Leipzigs
and Jenas, there are also great Waterloos.  But Kerrigan is safe.  He
takes no chances.  His factories in Yonkers purr, day in, day out,
making by the million that simple fastening device for women's corsets
that has made him several fortunes.

"That's the way to make money," they will tell you.  "Just hit upon
something simple and necessary, like a hair-pin or a shoe-horn, that no
other person has thought of.  Make it and sell it to the public and
bank your money in gilt-edged securities.  Look at Matthew Kerrigan!
And not fifteen years ago he was a clerk in an accountant's office."

Along Broadway, too, he is known favorably, in that happy-go-easy
circle of minor actors, wine-merchants, and women aspirants for the
stage and movies.  Head waiters are deferential, and slightly
contemptuous toward him.  He is a good spender, and yet--  There is
something repulsive, unhealthy in the way he enjoys food and drink and
looks at women.

"Six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven, which are an abomination
unto him": and the first is haughty eyes.  I cannot conceive that as
denoting the light that shines from eyes lit from a sense of high and
noble lineage, of chivalrous ideals, of just power.  I translate it by
the eyes of Matthew Kerrigan--those gray, full orbs which look about a
room stating that there is no man present whose equal and superior
Kerrigan is now.  Eyes which tell you Kerrigan has money, and is
prepared to spend money for what he wants.  You know that man will get
good measure for his money--shrewdness and sophistication gleam from
them in a wary, reptilian way.

"They may call this the Rube City," Morgenthal, the little real-estate
broker, announced at the Elks' Club, "but, believe me, there 's one guy
in town they can't put anything over on, and that's Kerrigan.  He 's
wise.  I tell you, boy, he 's wise.  Did you hear about that baby at
the Winter Garden that tried to pull that hard-luck story on him?  You
didn't, eh?  Well, let me tell you something: She got hers...."

There is one other place you may collect facts about Matthew Kerrigan
and that is the down-town lunch-rooms of the financial
district--uncomfortable, clattering places where you eat on a high
stool at a counter and compute the price of your meal to the cashier as
you go out.  There is a race of clerks there, old men, natty but shabby
of dress, pinched in the face, gray-headed, stoop-shouldered.  Some of
them are bitter and many are garrulous.  They specialize in the early
histories of well-known men.

"I remember him when he was a bum in the street," they will tell you of
nearly all of them; "when he had n't got a nickle for a shoe-shine.
Did you ever hear how he got on his feet?"  And then will follow either
a sordid or a criminal story.  And from them you can learn the story of
Matthew Kerrigan and Leonard Holt.

An office friend had told Kerrigan of an eccentric inventor who lived
out in his home town of Englewood, a poor, poverty-stricken,
scatter-brained mechanic who plodded in a broken-down cottage on the
outskirts of Englewood at magnificent and foolish dreams, such as
aviation and perpetual motion.  When Kerrigan went out to see his
friend he was taken, on a rainy afternoon, to pass the dull hours, on a
visit to the man Holt.  Beyond an occasional dunning tradesman, who
sneered at him, and an occasional equally poor friend who remonstrated
with him and urged him to take a position in a factory, Holt saw no
one.  And when Kerrigan was introduced, he talked like a starved
fanatic.  Tall; loosely built, as though his jointures were precarious;
stooped; with great greasy hands; sandy-haired; with burning blue eyes
and a high forehead, and a listless mouth and chin--one might have been
pardoned for believing him an impractical fool.  He pointed out a large
system of wheels and pulleys, of weights and springs.  It was the
perpetual-motion model on which he was working.

"But I thought perpetual motion had been given up as impossible,"
Kerrigan objected.

"They have been making strides toward it," Holt answered.  "The
_Struttapparat_ was a great advance.  Of course a small quantity of
radium is necessary.  But, still, energy may be--it is just
possible--created mechanically.  They disprove perpetual motion by the
hypothesis of the conservation of energy, which is not proven--"

And so he went on at great length in his jerky sentences, while
Kerrigan listened, picking up things and dropping them boredly--a
Bunsen burner, a pair of pliers, a tripod--what not.  He lifted two
pieces of asbestos, clamped queerly together by two long pieces of
flexible metal.  As he toyed with it the thing came apart in his hands.
A snap, and it was together again.  Kerrigan looked up in interest.

"What's this for?"

"A little fastening trick.  Of no practical use--except, perhaps, for
women's corsets!"  Holt laughed.  Kerrigan was silent.

"Patented?" he suggested, after a while.

"Everything I have is patented," Holt said with a touch of pride.

"May I bring it along," Kerrigan asked, "to show it to a friend?"

"Why, certainly!" Holt nodded.  "Now, if you understand that the energy
develops in geometric progression--"

And very efficiently did Matthew Kerrigan show Holt's fastening device
to his friend--a prominent banker who had never heard of Kerrigan
before, but had always money to sink, at a price, in worthy
enterprises.  Kerrigan returned to Holt.

"There may be something in that little thing of yours.  Will you take a
hundred dollars for it outright?"

But that intuition which sometimes warns the unworldly minded, and that
mulish obstinacy which some men have, made Holt stand out for a share
of the profits, and unwillingly Kerrigan and his associate had to allow
it.

"It's a hold-up," they complained to each other bitterly, "but we can't
do anything about it!"

So Holt was admitted to the profits of his patent, and for a while he
dreamed dreams of wealth untellable; a wealth that would enable him to
send his motherless three-year-old daughter to boarding-school and
college and leave him in peace to work, with all appliances to
hand--_Stuttapparat_ and radium and everything--at the problem which
had baffled scientific dreamers since the dawn of intelligence.

"The model on a big scale," he figured, "would cost ten thousand
dollars--" and on his visions went, unhampered, unselfish, unpractical.
He wanted to benefit the world by his discovery--and to get a little
applause, a little credit.

I don't know how they do these things, but they do them, and they must
do them skilfully, for they evade the law, the iron law which insists
on justice for all men.  Kerrigan laid his hand feelingly on Holt's
shoulder.

"I 'm sorry, old man," he said with that sincere stop in his voice.
"We made a mistake.  It's not practical."

Holt had received many blows, and was nearly impervious to them.  He
smiled wistfully.

"Perhaps I can do something," Kerrigan continued.  "I might get a
little for your rights from some one who will take a chance.  I should
like you to get something for it.  I led you to believe so much in it--"

They were very generous, for they knew there were millions ahead of
them, so they gave Holt a thousand dollars, and he buckled to again at
his grotesque machine.  A few weeks later some well-intentioned
Christian told him the truth and commented fulsomely on what a fool
Holt was.  The last blow was the fatal one.  It split his heart in two.

Methodically he made arrangements for his child to be brought up in a
convent, and he left what money he had for the purpose.  He took the
train to New York and crossing on the ferry-boat he climbed to the
upper deck.  He sat huddled up in a corner, gray and shabby of clothes,
gray and shabby of face, until the boat was half-way over.  He stood up
on the seat and jumped, and the noise his jump made was drowned in the
clatter of the paddles.

Tall, lank, oblivious, unpractical--your economist will tell you that
the man was of no value to the community, and was better dead.  And
your religious person will tell you that the crime of suicide merits
hell-fire.  But somehow I feel that for these poor men with the light
heads and the light bodies, and the heavy, heavy hearts, there is
somewhere Understanding and Great Tenderness....

All this they will tell you, the garrulous and bitter old men, and
while they inveigh against Kerrigan, you see somewhere in their eyes a
glint of admiration and of envy.  The arena of Wall Street differs
little from the arena of Neronic Rome; _væ victis_ is the motto and the
rule of the game.  And before you can leave them in contemptuous horror
they will tap you on the knee, gloatingly dramatic.

"And now Kerrigan is going to marry Holt's daughter!  Can you beat it?
Can you beat that?"


He had gone--perhaps out of curiosity, perhaps out of the depths of
sentimentality that men of his type have somewhere in the bottom of
their hearts--with his cousin, the chubby little minister of religion,
to the prize-giving at the convent in Newark.  The bishop was there,
and a play of Dunsany's was given; a few poems recited, and a song or
two sung.

His eye had been attracted all through the exercises by a tall girl in
a white dress with a blue sash--a slim girl with hazel eyes and
light-brown hair who in the distance had the profile of a Saint
Cecilia--a Saint Cecilia with a somewhat broad, honest mouth and good
firm teeth.

"That's an attractive girl," he told his cousin.

The little cherubic minister, who worried in secret about his cousin's
soul, was delighted.  He dreamed often of having his cousin Matthew
reformed by the influence of some sweet woman.  A Dominican religious
brought her forward.

"Miss Holt, Miss Agnes Holt."  Kerrigan was introduced to her.  He
talked banalities to her for a half-hour, when she shyly took her leave
of him, blushing furiously under the glances of her schoolmates.  When
he was alone Kerrigan smiled queerly, with a distant look in his eyes.

At forty-five there comes always to a man of Kerrigan's type, with the
first gray hairs, the fear of age.  There will be an inevitable day
when he will no longer attract women, and when, in the bars and about
the clubs, he will be referred to as an old man of another generation,
and there arises in his mind the fear of loneliness in the fifties and
the sixties, with Death hurrying breathlessly toward him day by day.
The only thing to do then is to begin anew with a young wife, far away
from the swirl of the city.

"It's the only life," they say pathetically; "a wife and kiddies, a
little bit of land somewhere, away from all this stuff."  And they wave
their hands at the gleaming glasses and the pictures on the bar-room
walls.  "There's nothing to it," they aver; and they drink up and have
another one.

He met the religious as he was going away.

"That Miss Holt," he said, "is a very attractive girl."  It was the
only adjective he knew to fit her.

"Yes," the nun agreed.  "We all like her.  She 's been with us nearly
all her life.  Her father died when she was young.  He was an inventor;
Leonard Holt was his name."

"The name is familiar."  Kerrigan was shocked, but his self-restraint
was superb.  "Died after some business depression, if I remember
aright?"

"He was murdered!"  The little religious's eyes flashed magnificently.
"Murdered!  In the way of business!"

Kerrigan had heard that word used of Holt's end more than once.  But
the fourteen years had been full ones, and the matter had not troubled
him much--things like that happened so often.  And, besides, it was not
true.  A murder predicates a murderer, and he was no murderer.  It was
all a business arrangement.  And the man could n't stand the gaff.
That was all!

"All rotten foolishness!" he swore.  But somehow, this last time,
perhaps on account of the dramatic meeting with the daughter, it would
not go out of his head.

And no more would go out of his head the thought and picture of Agnes
Holt in her white dress and blue sash, with her Saint Cecilia profile.
She haunted him night and day.  At that period, peculiar in a man as
the late thirties are in women, he fell in love, or in what for him
would pass for love.  In all his selfish business career he had known
intimately no woman like her, and her aloof, unrifled virginity struck
him like a blinding flash of light.

"After all," he said, in the manner of his kind, "there is nothing on
God's earth like a sweet, pure woman!"

And for days he thought about her and about love, not as a young man
might, in a burning equation with factors of living flame, but in the
smoldering symbols of maturity, which are so long in the consuming and
so hard to quench.  He would go away from Broadway--"quit the whole
condemned shooting-match," as he weirdly termed it--and take a place in
Westchester or Long Island, a good, comfortable house with grounds to
it.  They would be glad to have him in such a community.  He would be
one of the village trustees; run for president.  And he would fashion a
new life there with a young and beautiful bride, whom everybody would
envy him.  There would be children, too.  Undoubtedly there would be
children.

"She 'll be glad to get away from the convent," he thought shrewdly.
And, after all, perhaps he had treated Holt a bit shabbily.  He would
make up for it in the way he would treat his daughter.  She should wear
diamonds.

"I 'm thinking of marrying and settling down, Father John," he told the
little clergyman one day.

"I 'm glad to hear of it, Cousin Matthew," he said, rubbing his plump
little hands, his cherub's face beaming benignantly.  "I 'm delighted.
I am so!"  He shook his finger waggishly.  "And I think I know the
young lady, too."

"It's the little Holt girl we met at the convent that day."

"You must come over and meet her again," Father John planned.  "I 'll
talk to the Mother Superior."

And so, with due chaperonage, Kerrigan met Agnes Holt several times,
and each time he became more impressed with her.  She would say little,
blushing mostly, and playing with something in her lap.  She understood
vaguely that this portly, mustached man was thinking of marrying her,
but that denoted nothing to her, so cloistered had her life been.

"Yes," or "No," or "Thank you," was nearly the limit of her
conversation, and she had difficulty in not adding "sir."  At times she
would accompany him, with Father John, to a matinée in New York to see
a carefully chosen family production, or to have tea at the
less-worldly restaurants.  Occasionally she would burst out with a
naïve exclamation.

"I once rode in a Fifth Avenue bus with Sister Mary Joseph," was the
sort of thing she would vouchsafe.

"If you were n't to marry her," Father John said, "she would enter the
convent as a lay sister."

More and more as he met her Kerrigan's mind was taken up by the idea of
her father.  The contour of her face; a certain look of her eye; a
light in her hair when the sun shone on it, would recall the inventor,
and immediately within him would rise a measure of uneasiness which he
could not get rid of.  He once asked her if she remembered him.

"He died when I was young, very young," she said.  "An accident in a
ferry-boat.  I have spent all my life with the sisters."

As he went to and from the convent, he often met the religious who had
spoken of Holt's death as murder.  And as often as he met her, so often
would his mind revert to that sinister word, and he would find himself
arguing about it internally, as though he were defending himself in a
court of law.  He would try to shake off the mood.

"Of all the blamed foolishness!" he would tell himself angrily.

But the idea would persist, and, growing morbid about it, he found
himself reading carefully the charges of judges in cases of homicide.
He went to the public library and conned upon the subject in
encyclopedias.  He read of the magnificent fair play in trial by jury.

"I guess that settles it," he told himself.  "There 's nothing to it."

He went on, however, and, reading farther, he came on the ancient
custom of trial by ordeal of justice--of the test of a man's innocence
by touching the dead body of a murdered man.  If the person suspected
were guilty, blood would exude from the corpse.  A couplet of
Shakespeare's was quoted--from the play of "Richard III":

  O, gentlemen, see, see! dead Henry's wounds
  Open their congeal'd mouths and bleed afresh!

The thing made his flesh creep.  He read of the grisly test of the dead
hand, and of the ordeal by fire and the ordeal by poison.

"There 's no sense to that!" he muttered angrily, and little beads of
perspiration gathered on his brow.  Even the innocent would waver under
such a test.  Trial by jury--that was the sensible way.

And then, one day, in a bleak sitting-room in the convent, he proposed
to Agnes Holt.

"Agnes--" he cleared his throat, and he was honestly husky--"I suppose
you have understood that my intentions toward you had a wedding in
view.  I can make you very happy."

"I must talk to the Mother Superior," she said, blushing furiously, her
voice low.

He took her hand, and, opening a case, put a ring on her finger.

"I have talked to the Mother Superior, myself," he told her, "and that
is all right."  He drew her toward him, trembling a little, and on her
forehead, with his mustached lips, he kissed her.  He was suddenly
still, and strangely cold.  The touch of that skin reminded him of his
last hand-shake with Leonard Holt.

"I must put an end to this obsession!" he told himself angrily, that
night at his hotel, and he poured himself stiff drinks of Bourbon.
Should he tell Father John?  No! he decided.  He knew Father John well
for a relative and a friend and a genial companion with lovable
peccadillos.  But he knew, too, that the little clergyman could thunder
with the thunder of Sinai.  Marry the daughter of a man in whose death
he was implicated!  Never would Father John consent.  The cleric would
not understand.  What could a priest know of business?

"It's no use going to him," Kerrigan decided.

He stopped a moment, thinking.  And, half-laughing and half-nervous, he
remembered a conversation with a friend of his, a great Wall Street
operator, who combined the shrewdness of his kind with his kind's
superstition, and had recourse in moments of tension to clairvoyants
and tarot cards.  He told Kerrigan of M. Sergius.

"He's a Greek monk--been expelled from Mount Athos for practising
magic.  What that man can tell you--"

"I suppose the next thing you 'll tell me is that he raises spirits."

"Listen!  You just ask Cabot Montgomery how they found that will of Van
Vleet's.  Just ask him."

"There's one born every minute," Kerrigan laughed, "and some of 'em
live."

"Listen, brother," Kerrigan was told, "this man does it for nothing.
Do you get me?  For nothing!  If it's important enough he 'll do it.
If not, outside.  This is none of your country-fair crystal-gazers."

In Kerrigan, too, was that strain of superstition that all men laugh at
and all men have.  And right now as he sat in a mental, spiritual
whirlwind, the memory of that conversation came to him as a preserver.
After all, if he put things to the test--  Of course it was foolish; it
was ridiculous, but still--  Nothing could come of it, by any manner of
means, and yet--

"What's the harm?" he laughed.

At his time of life, he smiled, to put himself in the hands of a
charlatan, to conjure up a spirit!  In this century, with the telephone
by his bedside, with the electric light overhead, to patronize a
mumming magician!  Nothing would, could happen.

But that nothing would be his answer.  It would mean that his life was
free forever, purged of the foolish innuendos, the lunatic accusations
of outsiders; the morbid worries of his own abnormal mind.  Free to go
ahead and be married, and to live happily ever after.


When the butler had come for him silently, in the big blue limousine,
one fine night of stars, he had gone with a little tremor in his veins.
What would Father John and the gentle nuns and his little betrothed
think of this mad excursion?  Well, he had thrown down a gauntlet to
Fate, and he would go through with it, regardless of the empty issue.
There was a witticism on his lips as he entered the apartment; but the
witticism froze.

Silently the butler ushered him into a dim room lighted by tapers.  In
a corner, silent, were Sergius and four young men.  In the middle of
the floor was a strange geometric design of circles and squares.

"Your butler just came for me--" Kerrigan felt the need of saying
something, no matter how banal.  In a sort of awe Kerrigan noted the
white garments of the former monk, and of his disciples; the white
shoes embroidered in red; the white crowns with the Hebrew letters.

"Do you still wish to go ahead with this?" the Russian asked him.

"Of course," Kerrigan uttered.  His own voice seemed strange in his
ears.

"You are to obey me in all things."  The ex-monk's voice had a terrible
hidden menace in it, "and if you move out of that circle you are worse
than a dead man!  Follow me."

They moved forward through an opening into the strange geometric
design, and behind them on silent feet came the four attendants.
Kerrigan noticed in a sort of daze the sword they carried, the trumpet,
the book, and the lighted taper.  About him, outside the circle, were
strange paper symbols that seemed to cut him off from the world of sane
and living men.  The Magus lit a circle of censers about the outer
square.  He closed the circle and lifted one on high.  He swung it
toward the four corners of the square.  An attendant handed him a
sword.  He stuck it in the ground.  Another handed him a trumpet.  He
blew it brazenly.

"O Lord!  Hear my prayer, and let my cry come unto Thee...."

Queer little whorls of smoke mounted through the air from the censers.
The attendants had retired to the four points of the compass.  The
Magus raised the bare sword.  His voice vibrated like an organ:

"O ye spirits!  Ye I conjure by the power, wisdom, and virtue of the
Spirit of God ... by the Holy Name of God Eheith ... by which Adam,
having invoked, acquired the knowledge of all created things ... by the
invisible name Yod, which had Abel invoked he would have escaped from
the hand of Cain, his brother...."

It seemed to Kerrigan, standing there that about this circle was
something that was not life, and that it was cut off from the security
of things without as an island is cut off by water.  About it the
incense rose in shadowy vapors.  The lights of the candles became
dulled to a pale, diaphanous gold.  There was something terrible about
it all.  He had imagined a grisly, morbid thing of quackery.  This he
could have stood smiling.  But cold, stern majesty of ritual made his
heart contract, as it might be oppressed in the nave of some great
cathedral.

"... By the Two Tables of the Law; by the Seven Burning Candlesticks;
by the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest may go..."

He wanted to raise his voice, to tell the man to stop this mummery.  He
wanted to walk to the door and slam it contemptuously, and to walk home
through the cool mundane air.  That would be an end for him of all this
morbidness.  But somehow he could not go.  It was as though he were
held by hypnosis to the spot.

"... That spirit who was known here as Leonard Holt, and with whom this
man, for a sufficient reason, would converse.  I conjure and invoke him
in the name of the Lord Adonai.  I conjure him in the name of the god
El, strong and powerful...."

Fear arose in Kerrigan like a cold marsh vapor.  He had come there in a
braggadocio test of fate, to something whose being and name he knew
not; to face it man to man, and to abide by the result.  But he seemed
now to be, as it were, in a dock, not to argue but to be judged, by
that vagueness against which he had thrown down the gauntlet.

The Magus had fallen to his knees.  Before him a disciple held an open
book and a taper.

"In the name of Him who hath made the heavens and the earth, and who
hath measured them in the hollow of His hand, enclosing the earth in
three of His fingers..."

Without those circles now, Kerrigan imagined, things were hovering with
a force as of a great wind.  Things hurtled themselves against the
mystic, powerful symbols like troopers against an impregnable
fortalice.  No longer was he certain that nothing could happen.  If in
a minute now, at any instant, the Thing that was being called would
come, not the vacuous, impractical body, but a terrible being armed
with the awful majesty of the dead, standing before him accusingly,
with terrible eyes--standing like a flaming weapon between Kerrigan and
the daughter who was flesh of him, who they said was murdered ... If!
If!  If!  If!  His skin contracted in a tense horripilation.  His
breath came shallow and panting, like that of a strained dog.

The Magus stood up.  Again the sword flashed in his hand.  He laid his
hand on his heart.  His voice rang vibrant with power.  The acolytes
bowed their heads.

"Here be the symbols of secret things--the standards, the banners, the
ensigns of God the Conqueror; the arms of the Almighty One to compel
the aerial potencies.  I command absolutely--"

Across Kerrigan's mind thoughts raced like skipping rabbits; like reels
of living pictures.  He was being tried!  His wrists shook as the blood
pulsed through.  Tried!  Tried by ordeal of justice!  By the terrible
thing that made a dead man's wounds open when you touched him.  By
ordeal of justice!  That was it.  He felt his face contract into a
horrible grimace.  By ordeal of justice!  There was a weight on his
chest of as huge granite blocks, very cold.  He could n't breathe.
Through his heart there ran a pain like a knife....

"... By their power and virtue that he come near to us, into our
presence from whatsoever part of the world he may be in--"

"Master!"  An acolyte stepped forward and touched the exorcist's white
samite sleeve.  He pointed to the crumpled figure in the circle.
"Master, this man is dead!"





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ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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