A Postlude by Annie Eliot Trumbull

IT was almost time for the train to leave the station, and the seats were filling rapidly. The Irishwoman, with four children so near of a size that they seemed to be distinguished only by the variety of eatable each one was consuming, had entered the car and deposited her large newspaper bundle just inside the door, and driven her flock all into the little end seat, where they were stowed uncomfortably, one on top of another, gazing stolidly about the car. The young girl from the country who had been spending Sunday in town, and who was, consequently, somewhat overdressed for Monday morning, was wandering elegantly up and down the aisle, losing each possible place for a prospective better one, which became impossible before she reached it. The woman with a bag too large for her to carry, rested it on the arm of an occupied seat while she gazed vaguely about, indifferent to the fact that a crowd of impatient travellers of more concrete intentions were being delayed by her indecision. Meanwhile, among these disturbers of travel the man with a large bag passed rapidly along, found a place, put the bag in the rack, seated himself, and took out his newspaper. There is something in a man's management of a large travelling-bag in a railway train that leads the most unwilling to grudgingly yield him a certain superiority of sex.

An exchange of good-bys, low-voiced but with a decided note of hilarity, took place at the door, and two women entered the car, one looking back and nodding a final smiling farewell before she gave her mind to the matter in hand. They were attractive women, of late middle age, perhaps, not yet to be called old. One was large, with fine curves, gray bands of hair under her autumnal bonnet, and a dignity of bearing which suited her ample figure and melodious, rather deep voice; the other was paler, more fragile, her light hair only streaked with gray, and her blue eyes still shaded with a half-wistful uncertainty of what might be before her, which the years had not been able to turn altogether into self-confidence.

"You go on, Lucy," said the former, in her full, decided tones, pausing at the first vacant seat, "and see if there's a place for us to sit together farther down. I'll hold this for one of us. You take up less room than I do, you know, and it's easier for you to slip about;" and she laughed a little. There was a suggestion of laughter in the eyes and around the mouth of each of them. It indicated a subdued exhilaration unusual in the setting forth of women of their years and dignity. Lucy hesitated a moment, and then moved on somewhat timidly; but she had taken only a step when the man near whom they stood rose, and, lifting his hat, said: "Allow me, madam, to give you this seat for yourself and your friend. I can easily find another."

"Thank you; you are very good," replied the larger of the two women, her kindly gray eyes meeting his with an expression that led him to pause and put their umbrellas in the rack and depart, wondering what it was about some women that made a man always glad to do anything for them,—and it didn't make any difference how old they were, either.

"How nice people are!" said the one who had already spoken as they settled themselves. "That man, now—there wasn't any need of his doing that."

"He seemed to really want to," rejoined Lucy. "People always like to do things for you, Mary Leonard, I believe," she added, looking at her companion with affectionate admiration.

"I like to hear you talk," returned Mary Leonard, laughing. "If there ever was anybody that just went through the world having people do things for 'em, it's you, Lucy Eastman, and you know it."

"Oh, but I know so few people," said the other, hastily. "I'm not ungrateful—I'm sure I've no call to be; but I know so few people, and they've known me all my life; it's not like strangers."

"That hasn't anything to do with it," affirmed Mary Leonard, stoutly; "if there were more, it would be the same way. But I will say," she went on, "that I never could see why a woman travelling alone should ever have any trouble—officials and everybody are so polite about telling you the same thing over. I don't know why it is, but I always seem to expect the next one I ask to tell me something different about a train; and then everybody you meet seems just as pleasant as can be."

"Yes," assented Lucy Eastman, "like that baggageman. Did you notice how polite the baggageman was?"

"Notice it! Why, of course I did. And our trunks were late, and it was my fault, and so I told him, and he just hurried to pull them around and check them, and I was so confused, you know, that I made him check the wrong ones twice."

"Well, they were just like ours," said Lucy Eastman, sympathetically.

"Well, they were, weren't they? But of course I ought to have known. And he never swore at all. I was dreadfully afraid he'd swear, Lucy."

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Lucy Eastman, distressed, "what would you have done if he'd sworn?"

"I'm sure I don't know," asserted Mary Leonard, with conviction, "but fortunately he didn't."

"He got very warm," said Lucy, reminiscently. "I saw him wiping his brow as we came away."

"I don't blame him the least in the world. I think he was a wonderfully nice baggageman, for men of that class are so apt to swear when they get very warm,—at least, so I've heard. And did you hear—"

"Tickets, ma'am," observed the conductor.

"There, I didn't mean to keep you waiting a minute;" and Mary Leonard opened her pocketbook, "but I forgot all about the tickets. Oh, Lucy, I gave you the tickets, and I took the checks."

"Yes, to be sure," said Lucy, opening her pocketbook.

"I'll put them in the seat for you, ladies, like this," said the conductor, smiling, "and then you won't have any more trouble."

"Oh, yes, thank you," said Lucy Eastman.

"What a nice conductor!" observed Mary Leonard.

"Did I hear what, Mary?—you were telling me something."

"Oh, about the baggageman. I heard him say to his assistant, 'Don't you ever git mad with women, Bobby. It ain't no use. If it was always the same woman and the same trunk, perhaps you could learn her sometime; but it ain't, and you've got to take 'em just as they come, and get rid of 'em the best way you can—they don't bear instruction.'"

Mary Leonard and Lucy Eastman threw back their heads and laughed; it was genuine, low, fresh laughter, and a good thing to hear. After that there was silence for a few moments as the train sped on its way.

"I declare," said Mary Leonard, at last, "I don't know when I've been in the cars before."

"I was just thinking I haven't been in the cars since Sister Eliza died, and we all went to the funeral," said Lucy Eastman.

"Why, that's—let me see—eight years ago, isn't it?"

"Eight and a half."

"Well, I'm glad you'll have a pleasanter trip to look back on after this."

"So am I; and I am enjoying this—every minute of it. Only there's so much to see. Just look at the people looking out of the windows of that manufactory! Shouldn't you think they'd roast?"

"Yes, they must be hotter than a fritter such a day as this."

"How long is it since you've been to Englefield, Mary?" asked Lucy Eastman, after another pause.

"Why, that's what I meant to tell you. Do you know, after I saw you, and we decided to go there for our holiday, I began to think it over, and I haven't been there since we went together the last time."

"Why, Mary Leonard! I had an idea you'd been there time and again, though you said you hadn't seen the old place for a long time."

"Well, I was surprised myself when I realized it. But the next year my cousins all moved away, and I've thought of it over and over, but I haven't been. I dare say if we'd lived in the same town we'd have gone together before this, but we haven't, and there it is."

"That's thirty-five years ago, Mary," said Lucy Eastman, thoughtfully.

"Thirty-five years! I declare, it still makes me jump to hear about thirty-five years—just as if I hadn't known all about 'em!" and Mary Leonard laughed her comfortable laugh again. "You don't say it's thirty-five years, Lucy! I guess you're right, though."

There was a moment's pause, and the laugh died away into a little sigh.

"We didn't think then—we didn't really think—we'd ever be talking about what happened thirty-five years ago, did we, Lucy? We didn't think we'd have interest enough to care."

"No," said Lucy, soberly, "we didn't."

"And I care just as much as I ever did about things," went on the other, thoughtfully, "only there seem more doors for satisfaction to come in at nowadays. It isn't quite the same sort of satisfaction, perhaps, that it used to be, not so pressed down and running over, but there's more of it, after all, and it doesn't slip out so easily."

"No, the bottom of things doesn't fall out at once, as it used to, and leave nothing in our empty hands."

"That sounds almost sad. Don't you be melancholy, Lucy Eastman."

"I'm not, Mary—I'm not a bit. I'm only remembering that I used to be."

"We used to go to the well with a sieve instead of a pitcher; that's really the difference," said Mary Leonard. "We've learned not to be wasteful, that's all."

"What fun we used to have," said Lucy, her eyes shining, "visiting your cousins!"

"It was fun!" said the other. "Do you remember the husking party at the Kendals' barn?"

"Of course I do, and the red ears that that Chickering girl was always finding! I think she picked them out on purpose, so that Tom Endover would kiss her. It was just like those Chickerings!" There was a gentle venom in Lucy Eastman's tones that made Mary Leonard laugh till the tears came into her eyes.

"Minnie Chickering wasn't the only girl that Tom Endover kissed, if I remember right," she said, with covert intention.

"Well, he put the red ear into my hands himself, and I just husked it without thinking anything about it," retorted Lucy Eastman, with spirit.

"Of course you did, of course you did," asseverated Mary Leonard, whereupon the other laughed too, but with reservation.

"And do you remember old Miss Pinsett's, where we used to go to act charades?"

"Yes, indeed, in the old white house at the foot of the hill, with a cupola. She seemed so old; I wonder how old she was?"

"Perhaps we shouldn't think her so old to-day. People used to wear caps earlier then than they do now. I think when they were disappointed in love they put on caps! Miss Pinsett had been disappointed in love, so they said."

"They will have old maids disappointed in love," said Lucy, with some asperity. "They will have me—some people—and I never was."

"I know you weren't. But I don't think it's as usual as it was to say that about old maids. It's more the fashion now to be disappointed in marriage."

There had been several stops at the stations along the road. The day was wearing on. Suddenly Lucy Eastman turned to her companion.

"Mary," she said, "let's play we were girls again, and going to Englefield just as we used to go—thirty-five years ago. Let's pretend that we're going to do the same things and see the same people and have the same fun. We're off by ourselves, just you and I, and why shouldn't we? We're the same girls, after all," and she smiled apologetically.

"Of course we are. We'll do it," said Mary Leonard, decidedly; "let's pretend."

But, having made the agreement, it was not so easy to begin. The stream of reminiscence had been checked, and a chasm of thirty-five years is not instantly bridged, even in thought.

"I hope they won't meet us at the station," said Mary Leonard, after a while, in a matter-of-fact voice. "We know the way so well there is no need of it."

"I hope not. I feel just like walking up myself," answered Lucy. "We can send our trunks by the man that comes from the hotel, just as usual, and it'll be cool walking toward evening."

"I'm glad we put off coming till the fall. The country's beautiful, and there isn't so much dust in case we"—she hesitated a moment—"in case we go on a picnic."

"Yes," replied Lucy, readily; "to the old fort. I hope we'll have a picnic to the old fort. I guess all the girls will like to go. It's just the time to take that drive over the hill."

"If we go," said Mary Leonard, slowly and impressively, "you'll have to drive with Samuel Hatt."

"Oh, I went with him last time," broke in Lucy, apprehensively. "It's your turn."

"But you know I just won't," said Mary Leonard, her eyes sparkling, and the dimples that, like Miss Jessie Brown, she had not left off, appearing and disappearing. "And somebody has to go with him."

"Perhaps they won't ask him."

"Oh, but they will. They always do, on account of his horses. It wouldn't be a picnic without Samuel Hatt."

Just then the train drew up at a small station. Lucy Eastman started as she read the name of the place as it passed before her eyes.

"Mary," said she, "this is where Mr. Hatt always used to get on the train. There are the Hatt Mills, and he goes up and down every day,—don't you remember? And how we were—we are—always afraid we'll meet him on the train."

"Of course," said Mary Leonard, leaning forward and scanning the platform with its row of idlers and its few travellers. "Well, he isn't here now. We are going to escape him this time. But my heart was in my mouth! I don't want Samuel Hatt to be the first Englefield person we meet."

They looked up with careless curiosity at the people who entered the train. There was a little girl with a bunch of common garden flowers following close behind a tired-looking woman, who had been, obviously, "spending the day;" a florid old gentleman with gold spectacles, who revealed a bald head as he removed his hat and used it for a fan,—they had seen him hurrying to the platform just before the train moved out; a commercial traveller, and a schoolboy.

"No," said Mary Leonard, "he isn't here this time."

The florid old gentleman took a seat in front of them and continued to fan himself. The conductor came through the car.

"Warm spell we're having for October, Mr. Hatt," he said, as he punched the commutation-ticket that was offered him.

Mary Leonard and Lucy Eastman gazed spellbound at the back of Mr. Hatt's bald head. They were too amazed to look away from it at each other.

"It—it must be his father," gasped Lucy Eastman. "He looks—a little—like him."

"Then it's his father come back!" returned Mary in an impatient whisper. "His father died before we ever went to Englefield; and, don't you remember, he was always fanning himself?"

Their fascinated gaze left the shiny pink surface of Samuel Hatt's head, and their eyes met.

"I hope he won't see us," giggled Lucy.

"I hope not. Let's look the other way."

In a few minutes Mr. Hatt rose slowly and portentously, and, turning, made a solemn but wavering way down the car to greet a man who sat just across the aisle from Mary Leonard. Both the women avoided his eyes, blushing a little and with the fear of untimely mirth about their lips.

As he talked with their neighbor, however, they ventured to look at him, and as he turned to go back his slow, deliberate glance fell upon them, rested a moment, and, without a flicker of recognition, passed on, and he resumed his place.

There was almost a shadow in the eyes that met again, as the women turned towards one another.

"I—I know it's funny," said Lucy, a little tremulously, "but I don't quite like it that we look to him just as he does to us."

"We have hair on our heads," said Mary Leonard. "But," she added, less aggressively, "we needn't have worried about his speaking to us."

"Englefield," shouted the brakeman, and the train rumbled into a covered station. Mary Leonard started to her feet, and then paused and looked down at her companion. This Englefield! This the quiet little place where the man from the hotel consented to look after their trunks while their cousins drove them up in the wagon—this noisy station with two or three hotel stages and shouting drivers of public carriages!

"Lucy," said she, sitting down again in momentary despair, "we've gone back thirty-five years, but we forgot to take Englefield with us!"

It did not take long, however, to adapt themselves to the new conditions. They arranged to stay at the inn that was farthest from the centre of things, and the drive out restored some of the former look of the place. It was near sunset; the road looked pink before them as they left the city. The boys had set fire to little piles of early fallen leaves along the sides of the streets, and a faint, pungent smoke hung about and melted into the twilight, and the flame leaped forth vividly now and then from the dusky heaps. As they left the paved city for the old inn which modern travel and enterprise had left on the outskirts, the sky showed lavender through a mistiness that was hardly palpable enough for haze. The browns and reds of the patches of woods in the near distance seemed the paler, steadier reproduction of the flames behind them. Low on the horizon the clouds lay in purple waves, deepening and darkening into brown.

"Mary," said Lucy Eastman, in a low tone, laying her hand on her companion's arm, "it's just the way it looked when we came the first time of all; do you remember?"

"Remember? It's as if it were yesterday! Oh, Lucy, I don't know about a new heaven, but I'm glad, I'm glad it isn't a 'new earth' quite yet!" There was a mistiness in the eyes of the women that none of the changes they had marked had brought there. They were moved by the sudden sweet recognition that seemed sadder than any change.

The next morning they left the house early, that they might have long hours in which to hunt up old haunts and renew former associations. Again the familiar look of things departed as they wandered about the wider, gayer streets. The house in which Mary Leonard's cousins had lived had been long in other hands, and the occupants had cut down the finest of the old trees to make room for an addition, and a woman whose face seemed provokingly foreign to the scene came out with the air of a proprietor and entered her carriage as they passed.

At another place which they used to visit on summer afternoons, and which had been approached by a little lane, making it seem isolated and distant, the beautiful turf had been removed to prepare a bald and barren tennis court, and they reached it by an electric car. Even the little candy-shop had become a hardware store.

"Of course, when one thinks of the Gibraltars and Jackson balls, it does not seem such a revolution," said Mary Leonard; but she spoke forlornly, and did not care much for her own joke. It looked almost as if their holiday was to be turned into a day of mourning; there was depression in the air of the busy, bustling active streets, through which the gray-haired women wandered, handsome, alert, attentive, but haunted by the sense of familiarity that made things unfamiliar and the knowledge of every turn and direction that yet was not knowledge, but ignorance.

"Look here, Lucy Eastman," said Mary Leonard at last, stopping decisively in front of what used to be the Baptist Church, but which was now a business block and a drug-store where you could get peach phosphate, "we can't stand this any longer. Let's get into a carriage right away and go to the old fort; that can't have changed much; it used to be dismantled, and I don't believe they've had time, with all they've done here, to—to mantle it again."

They moved towards a cab-stand—of course it was an added grievance that there was a cab-stand—but the wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way.

"Mary," said Lucy Eastman, detaining her, "wait a minute. Do you think we might—it's a lovely day—and—there's a grocer right there—and dinner is late at the hotel"—She checked her incoherence and looked wistfully at Mary Leonard.

"Lucy, I think we might do anything, if you don't lose your mind first. What is it, for pity's sake, that you want to do?"

"Take our luncheon; we always used to, you know. And we can have a hot dinner at the hotel when we come back."

Without replying, Mary Leonard led the way to the grocer's, and they bought lavish supplies there and at the bakery opposite. Then they called the cab.

"Do you remember, Lucy, we used to have to think twice about calling a cab, when we used to travel together, on account of the expense," said Mary Leonard, as they waited for it to draw up at the curbstone.

"Yes," answered Lucy; "we don't have to now." And then they both sighed a little.

But their smiles returned as they drove into the enclosure of the old fort. There they lay in the peaceful sun—the gray stones, the few cannon-balls, sunk in the caressing grass, with here and there a rusty gun, like a once grim, sharp-tongued, cruel man who has fallen somehow into an amiable senility.

"I read an article in one of the magazines about our coast defences," said Lucy Eastman, breathlessly; "how they ought to be strengthened and repaired and all, and I was quite excited about it and wanted to give a little money towards it, but I wouldn't for anything now, enemy or no enemy."

"Nor I, either," said Mary Leonard, after she had dismissed the driver with orders to call for them later in the day. They walked on over the crisp dry grass, and seated themselves on a bit of the fallen masonry. The reaches of the placid river lay before them, and the hum of the alert cricket was in their ears. Now and then a bird flew surreptitiously from one bush to another, with the stealthy, swift motion of flight in autumn, so different from the heedless, fluttering, hither-and-yon vagaries of the spring and early summer. The time for frivolity is over; the flashes of wings have a purpose now; the possibility of cold is in the air, and what is to be done must be done quickly.

"We almost always used to come in summer," said Lucy Eastman, "but I think it's every bit as pretty in the fall."

"So do I," assented Mary Leonard, as she looked down into a hollow where the purple asters grew so thick that in the half-dusk of the shadow they looked like magnified snowflakes powdered thickly on the sward. "And it hasn't changed an atom," she went on, as her eyes roamed over the unevenness of this combination of man's and nature's handiwork. "It's just as quiet and disorderly and upset and peaceful as it was then."

"Yes, look up there;" and Lucy Eastman pointed to the higher ramparts, on the edge of which the long grass wavered in the wind with the glancing uncertainty of a conflagration. "The last time I was here I remember saying that that looked like a fire."

After they had eaten their luncheon, which brought with it echoes of the laughter which had accompanied the picnic supper eaten in that very corner years ago, they seated themselves in a sheltered spot to wait. It really seemed as if the old gray walls retained some of the spirit of those earlier days, so gentle, so mirth-inspiring was the sunshine that warmed them.

"I'm so glad we came," said Mary,—they had both said it before,—as the sunny peace penetrated their very souls.

Four o'clock brought the cab, and they drove down the long hills, looking back often for a final glimpse of the waving grass and the gray stones. As they turned a sharp corner and lost sight of the old fort, Mary Leonard glanced furtively at her companion. Her own eyes for the second time that day were not quite clear, and she was not sorry to detect an added wistfulness in Lucy Eastman's gaze.

"Lucy," said she, and her voice shook a little, "I'm tired."

"So am I," murmured Lucy.

"And I don't ever remember to have been tired after a picnic at the old fort before."

"No more do I," said Lucy; and it was a moment before their sadness, as usual, trembled into laughter.

"Lucy Eastman," said Mary Leonard, suddenly, "this is the street that old Miss Pinsett used to live on—lives on, I mean. What do you say? Shall we stop and see Miss Pinsett?" The dimples had come back again, and her eyes danced.

Lucy caught her breath.

"Oh, Mary, if only she—" her sentence was left unfinished.

"I'll find out," said Mary Leonard, and put her head out of the window. "Driver," she called out, "stop at Miss Pinsett's."

The driver nodded and drove on, and she sank back pleased with her own temerity.

The cab stopped in front of the same square white house, with the cupola, and the same great trees in the front yard. Mary Leonard and Lucy Eastman clasped each other's hands in silent delight as they walked up the box-bordered path.

"Tell Miss Pinsett that Lucy Eastman and—and Mary Greenleaf have come to see her," they said to the elderly respectable maid. Then they went into the dim shaded parlor and waited. There were the old piano and the Japanese vases, and the picture of Washington which they had always laughed at because he looked as if he were on stilts and could step right across the Delaware, and they could hear their hearts beat, for there was a rustle outside the door—old Miss Pinsett's gowns always rustled—and it opened.

"Why, girls!" exclaimed old Miss Pinsett as she glided into the room.

Mary Leonard and Lucy Eastman declared, then and afterward, that she wasn't a day older than when they said good-by to her thirty-five years ago. She wore the same gray curls and the same kind of cap. Also, they both declared that this was the climax, and that they should have wept aloud if it had not been so evident that to Miss Pinsett there was nothing in the meeting but happiness and good fortune, so they did not.

"Why, girls," said old Miss Pinsett again, clasping both their hands, "how glad I am to see you, and how well you are both looking!"

Then she insisted on their laying off their things, and they laid them off because they always had when she asked them.

"You've grown stout, Mary Greenleaf," said old Miss Pinsett.

"I know I have," she answered, "and I'm not Mary Greenleaf, though I sent that name up to you—I'm Mary Leonard."

"I wondered if neither of you were married."

"I'm a widow, Miss Pinsett," said Mary Leonard, soberly. "My husband only lived three years."

"Poor girl, poor girl!" said Miss Pinsett, patting her hand, and then she looked at the other.

"I'm Lucy Eastman still," she said; "just the same Lucy Eastman."

"And a very good thing to be, too," said Miss Pinsett, nodding her delicate old head kindly. "But," and she scanned her face, "but, now that I look at you, not quite the same Lucy Eastman—not quite the same."

"Older and plainer," she sighed.

"Of all the nonsense!" exclaimed old Miss Pinsett. "You're not quite so shy, that's all, my dear."

"I'm shy now," asserted Lucy.

"Very likely, but not quite so shy as you were, for all that. Don't tell me! I've a quick eye for changes, and so I can see changes in you two when it may be another wouldn't."

Before the excitement of her welcome had been subdued into mere gladness, there was a discreet tap at the door, and the respectable maid came in with a tray of sherry-glasses and cake. Mary Leonard and Lucy Eastman looked at each other brimming over with smiles. It was the same kind of cake, and might have been cut off the same loaf.

"Never any cake like yours," said Mary Leonard.

"I remember you like my cake," said old Miss Pinsett, smiling; "take a bigger piece, child."

They wanted to know many things about the people and the town, all of which Miss Pinsett could tell them.

The shadows grew longer, the room dimmer, and Miss Pinsett had the maid throw open the blinds to let in the western sunlight. A shaft of illumination fell across one of the Japanese vases, and a dragon blinked, and the smooth round head of a mandarin gleamed. There was an old-fashioned trumpet-creeper outside the window.

"But we must go," exclaimed Mary Leonard at last, rising and taking up her bonnet. "Oh, no, thank you, we must not stay. Miss Pinsett; we are going to-morrow, and we are tired with all the pleasure of to-day, and we have so much—so much to talk over. We shall talk all night, as we used to, I am afraid."

"But before you go, girls," said Miss Pinsett, laying a fragile, white slender hand on each, "you must sing for me some of the songs you used to sing—you know some very pretty duets."

Mary Leonard and Lucy Eastman paused, amazed, and looked into each other's faces in dismay. Sing?—had they ever sung duets? They had not sung a note for years, except in church.

"But I don't know any songs, Miss Pinsett," stammered Mary Leonard.

"I have forgotten all I ever knew," echoed Lucy Eastman.

"No excuses, now—no excuses! You were always great for excuses, but you would always sing for me. I want 'County Guy,' to begin with."

By a common impulse the visitors moved slowly towards the piano; they would try, at least, since Miss Pinsett wanted them to. Lucy seated herself and struck a few uncertain chords. Possibly the once familiar room, Mary Leonard at her side, Miss Pinsett listening in her own high-backed chair, the scent of the mignonette in the blue bowl—possibly one or all of these things brought back the old tune.

"Ah, County Guy,
The hour is nigh,
The sun has left the lea."

The sweet, slender voice floated through the room, and Mary Leonard's deeper contralto joined and strengthened it.

"Now, I will have 'Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,'" said Miss Pinsett, quite as if it were a matter of course. And they sang "Flow Gently, Sweet Afton." It was during the last verse that the parlor door opened softly, and a tall, fine-looking man, erect, with beautiful silver curling hair, and firm lines about the handsome, clean-shaven mouth, appeared on the threshold and stood waiting. As the singing finished, Miss Pinsett shook her head at him.

"You were always coming in and breaking up the singing, Tom Endover," she said.

The two women left the piano and came forward.

"You used to know Mary Greenleaf,—she's Mrs. Leonard now,—and Lucy Eastman, Tom," she went on.

Apparently Mr. Endover was not heeding the introduction, but was coming towards them with instant recognition and outstretched hand. They often discussed afterward if he would have known them without Miss Pinsett. Mary Leonard thought he would, but Lucy Eastman did not always agree with her.

"You don't have to tell me who they are," he said, grasping their hands cordially. "Telling Tom Endover who Mary Greenleaf and Lucy Eastman are, indeed!" There was a mingling of courteous deference and frank, not to be repressed, good comradeship in his manner which was delightful. Mary Leonard's dimples came and went, and delicate waves of color flowed and ebbed in Lucy Eastman's soft cheeks.

"I'm too old always to remember that there's no telling a United States senator anything," retorted Miss Pinsett, with a keen glance from her dimmed but penetrating eyes.

"As to that, I don't believe I'd ever have been a United States senator if it wasn't for what you've told me, Miss Pinsett," laughed Endover. "I'm always coming here to be taken down, Mary," he went on; "she does it just as she used to."

Mary Leonard caught her breath a little at the sound of her Christian name, but "I didn't know there was any taking you down, Tom Endover," she retorted before she thought; and they all laughed.

They found many things to say in the few minutes longer that they stayed, before Mr. Endover took them out and put them in their cab. He insisted upon coming the next morning to take them to the station in his own carriage, and regretted very much that his wife was out of town, so that she could not have the pleasure of meeting his old friends.

"He's just the same, isn't he?" exclaimed Mary Leonard, delightedly, as they drove away.

"Yes," assented Lucy Eastman, slowly; "I think he is; and yet he's different."

"Oh, yes, he's different," replied Mary Leonard, readily. Both were quite unconscious of any discrepancy in their statements as they silently thought over the impression he had made. He was the same handsome, confident Tom Endover, but there was something gone,—and was there not something in its place? Had that gay courtesy, that debonair good fellowship, changed into something more finished, but harder and more conscious? Was there a suggestion that his old careless charm had become a calculated and a clearly appreciated facility? Lucy Eastman did not formulate the question, and it did not even vaguely present itself to Mary Leonard, so it troubled the pleasure of neither.

"What a day we have had!" they sighed in concert as they drove up again to the entrance of the inn.

"Lucy," called Mary Leonard, a little later, from one of their connecting rooms to the other, "I'm going to put on my best black net, because Tom Endover may call to-night." Then she paused to catch Lucy Eastman's prompt reply.

"And I shall put on my lavender lawn, but it'll be just our luck to have it Samuel Hatt."

The next morning Mr. Endover called for them, and they were driven to the station in his brougham.

He put them on the train, and bought the magazines for them, and waved his hand to the car window.

"You know, Lucy," said Mary Leonard, as the train pulled out, "Tom Endover always used to come to see us off."

"Of course he did," said Lucy.

"Do you know, I'm rather glad his wife was out of town," went on Mary Leonard, after a pause. "I should like to have seen her well enough, but you know she wasn't an Englefield girl."

"What can she know about old Englefield!" said Lucy, with mild contempt. "I'm very glad she was out of town."

As they left the city behind them, the early morning sun shone forth with vivid brilliancy. Against the western sky the buildings stood out with a peculiar distinctness, as if the yellow light shining upon them was an illumination inherent in themselves, singling them out of the landscape, and leaving untouched the cold gray behind them. The lines of brick and stone had the clearness and precision of a photograph, and yet were idealized, so that in the yellow, mellow, transparent light a tall, smoke-begrimed chimney of a distant furnace looked airy and delicate as an Italian tower.