A Christmas Accident
And Other Stories
Annie Eliot Trumbull
Author of "White Birches," "A Masque
of Culture," etc.
A. S. Barnes and Company
By A. S. Barnes and Company.
John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A.
Of the stories included in this volume, the
first originally appeared in the Hartford Courant;
"After—the Deluge," in the Atlantic
Monthly; "Mary A. Twining," in the Home
Maker; "A Postlude" and "Her Neighbor's
Landmark," in the Outlook; "The 'Daily
Morning Chronicle,'" in The New England
Magazine; and "Hearts Unfortified," in
McClure's Magazine. To the courtesy of the
editors of these periodicals I am indebted for
permission to reprint them.
A. E. T.
|A Christmas Accident|
|Memoir of Mary Twining|
|The "Daily Morning Chronicle"|
|Her Neighbor's Landmark|
A Christmas Accident
AT first the two yards were as much
alike as the two houses, each house
being the exact copy of the other. They
were just two of those little red brick
dwellings that one is always seeing side
by side in the outskirts of a city, and
looking as if the occupants must be alike
too. But these two families were quite
different. Mr. Gilton, who lived in one,
was a pretty cross sort of man, and was
quite well-to-do, as cross people sometimes
are. He and his wife lived alone,
and they did not have much going out
and coming in, either. Mrs. Gilton
would have liked more of it, but she had
given up thinking about it, for her husband
had said so many times that it was
women's tomfoolery to want to have
people, whom you weren't anything to
and who weren't anything to you, ringing
your doorbell all the time and bothering
around in your dining-room,—which
of course it was; and she would have
believed it if a woman ever did believe
anything a man says a great many times.
In the other house there were five children,
and, as Mr. Gilton said, they made
too large a family, and they ought to have
gone somewhere else. Possibly they
would have gone had it not been for
the fence; but when Mr. Gilton put it up
and Mr. Bilton told him it was three
inches too far on his land, and Mr. Gilton
said he could go to law about it, expressing
the idea forcibly, Mr. Bilton was
foolish enough to take his advice. The
decision went against him, and a good deal
of his money went with it, for it was a
long, teasing lawsuit, and instead of being
three inches of made ground it might have
been three degrees of the Arctic Circle for
the trouble there was in getting at it. So
Mr. Bilton had to stay where he was.
It was then that the yards began to take
on those little differences that soon grew
to be very marked. Neither family would
plant any vines because they would have
been certain to heedlessly beautify the
other side, and consequently the fence, in
all its primitive boldness, stood out uncompromisingly,
and the one or two little
bits of trees grew carefully on the farther
side of the enclosure so as not to be mixed
up in the trouble at all. But Mr. Gilton's
grass was cut smoothly by the man who
made the fires, while Mr. Bilton only
found a chance to cut his himself once in
two weeks. Then, by and by, Mr. Gilton
bought a red garden bench and put it
under the tree that was nearest to the
fence. No one ever went out and sat on
it, to be sure, but to the Bilton children it
represented the visible flush of prosperity.
Particularly was Cora Cordelia wont to
peer through the fence and gaze upon that
red bench, thinking it a charming place in
which to play house, ignorant of the fact
that much of the red paint would have
come off on her back. Cora Cordelia was
the youngest of the five. All the rest had
very simple names,—John, Walter, Fanny,
and Susan,—but when it came to Cora
Cordelia, luxuries were beginning to get
very scarce in the Bilton family, and Mrs.
Bilton felt that she must make up for it
by being lavish, in one direction or another.
She had wished to name Fanny,
Cora, and Susan, Cordelia, but she had
yielded to her husband, and called one
after his mother and one after herself, and
then gave both her favorite names to the
youngest of all. Cora Cordelia was a
pretty little girl, prettier even than both
her names put together.
After the red bench came a quicksilver
ball, that was put in the middle of the
yard and reflected all the glory of its
owner, albeit in a somewhat distorted
form. This effort of human ingenuity
filled the Bilton children with admiration
bordering on awe; Cora Cordelia spent
hours gazing at it, until called in and
reproved by her mother for admiring so
much things she could not afford to have.
After this, she only admired it covertly.
Small distinctions like these barbed the
arrows of contrast and comparison and
kept the disadvantages of neighborhood
Then, it was a constant annoyance to
have their surnames so much alike. Matters
were made more unpleasant by mistakes
of the butcher, the grocer, and so
on,—Gilton, 79 Holmes Avenue, was so
much like Bilton, 77 Holmes Avenue.
Gilton changed his butcher every time
he sent his dinner to Bilton; and though
the mistakes were generally rectified, neither
of the two families ever forgot the time
the Biltons ate, positively ate, the Gilton
dinner, under a misapprehension. Mrs.
Bilton apologized, and Mrs. Gilton boldly
told her husband that she was glad they'd
had it, and she hoped they'd enjoyed it,
which only made matters worse; and altogether
it was a dark day, the only joy of
it being that fearful one snatched by John,
Walter, Susan, Fanny, and Cora Cordelia
from the undoubted excellence of the roast.
Of course there was an assortment of
minor difficulties. The smoke from the
Biltons' kitchen blew in through the windows
of the Giltons' sitting-room when the
wind was in one direction, and, when it was
in the other, many of the clothes from the
Giltons' clothesline were blown into the
Biltons' yard, and Fanny, Susan, or Cora
Cordelia had to be sent out to pick them
up and drop them over the fence again,
which Mrs. Bilton said was very wearing,
as of course it must have been. Things
like this were always happening, but
matters reached a climax when it came
to the dog. It wasn't a large dog, but
it was a tiresome one. It got up early
in the morning and barked. Now we all
know that early rising is a good thing and
honorable among all men, but it is something
that ought to be done quietly, out of
regard to the weaker vessels; and a dog
that barks between five and seven in the
morning, continuously, certainly ought to
be suppressed, even if it be necessary to
use force. Everybody agreed with the
Biltons about that,—everybody except
the Giltons themselves, who, by some one
of nature's freaks, didn't mind it. Mrs.
Bilton often said she wished Mrs. Gilton
could be a light sleeper for a week and
see what it was like. So, too, everybody
thought that Mr. Bilton had right on his
side when he complained that this same
dog came into his yard, being apparently
indifferent to any coolness between the
estate owners, and ran over a bed of
geraniums and one thing and another, that
was the small Bilton offset to the Gilton
bench and ball. But when one morning,
for the first time, that dog remained quiet
and restful, and was found cold and poisoned,
and Mr. Gilton was loud in his
accusations of the Bilton boys and their
father, public opinion wavered for a
moment. After that accident, no member
of either family spoke to any member
of the other. That was the way matters
stood the day before Christmas.
It was snowing hard, and the afternoon
grew dark rapidly, and the whirling flakes
pursued a blinding career. In spite of
that, everybody was out doing the last
thing. Mrs. Gilton was not, to be sure.
Of course they would have a big dinner,
but even that was all arranged for, although
the turkey hadn't come and her
husband was going to stop and see about
it on his way home. She shuddered as
the possibility of its having gone to the
Biltons occurred to her. But she didn't
believe it had,—they hadn't the same
butcher any longer. Meanwhile there
was so little to do. It was too dark to
read or sew, and she sat idly at the window
looking out at the passers and the
driving snow. Everybody else was in a
hurry. She wished she, too, had occasion
to hasten down for a last purchase, or to
light the lamp in order to finish a last bit
of dainty sewing, as she used to do when
she was a girl. She seemed to have so
few friends now with whom she exchanged
Christmas greetings. Was it then only
for children and youth, this Christmas
cheer? And must she necessarily have
left it behind her with her girlhood? No,
she knew better than that. She felt that
there was a deeper significance in the
Christmas-tide than can come home to
the hearts of children and unthoughtfulness,
and yet it had grown to be so painfully
like other days,—an occasion for a little
bigger dinner, that was about all. With
an unconscious sigh she looked across to
the Bilton house. Plenty of people over
there to make merry. Five stockings to
hang up. She wished she might have sent
something in. To be sure, there was the
dog, but that was some time ago. Very
likely the dog would have been dead now,
anyhow. She felt, herself, that this logic
was not irrefutable, but she wished she
could have sent some paper parcels just
the same. So strong had this impulse
been that she had said to her husband
somewhat timidly that morning,—
"There are a good many of those
Bilton children to get presents for."
"More fools they that get 'em presents,
then," he had pleasantly replied.
"I don't suppose he has much to buy
them with," she continued.
"He had enough to buy poison for my
dog," exclaimed her husband, giving his
newspaper an angry shake.
"I'd almost like to send them in some
cheap little toys."
"Well, as long as you don't quite like
to, it won't do any harm," he said with
some violence, laying down his newspaper,
and looking at her in a manner not to be
misunderstood. "But you see that the
liking doesn't get any farther."
"It's Christmas, you know," said his
"Oh, no, I don't know it!" he replied
gruffly. "I haven't fallen over forty
children a minute in the street with their
ridiculous parcels, and I haven't had
women drop brown-paper bundles that
come undone all over me when they
crowd into the horse car, and I haven't
found it impossible to get to the shirt-collar
counter on account of Christmas
novelties! Oh, no, I didn't know it
After that there was really not much to
be said, for we all know Christmas is
dreadfully annoying, and the last thing a
man in this sort of temper wants to hear
about is peace and good will.
Notwithstanding the fact that Mrs.
Gilton looked over to her neighbors' with
an envious feeling this dark afternoon,
their Christmas cheer was not so abounding
as it had been in more prosperous
times. There was not very much money
to be spent this year, and they were
obliged to give up something. Mr. and
Mrs. Bilton had decided that it should
be the Christmas dinner; they would
have a simple luncheon, and let all the
money that could be spared go for the
stockings. Each child had its own sum
to invest for others, and there was still
a small amount for the older members
of the family. That it was a small
amount Mrs. Bilton felt strongly, as
she went from shop to shop. But when
she reached home again she was somewhat
encouraged; there was such an air
of joyous expectation in the house, and
her purchases looked larger now that
they were away from the glittering counters.
Then each of the five children
came to her separately and confided to her
the nothing less than wonderful results of
judicious bargaining which had enabled
them to buy useful and beautiful presents
for each of the others out of the sums
intrusted to their care, ranging in amount
from the two dollars of John to the fifty
cents of Cora Cordelia. She felt sure
that there were further secrets yet; secrets
attended by brown paper and string,
which she had taken the greatest care for
the last two weeks not heedlessly to expose,—riddles
of which the solution lay
perilously near her eyes, which would be
revealed to her astonished gaze the next
She had reason to believe that even
Cora Cordelia was making something for
her, and though it was difficult for her to
ignore the fact that it was a knit washcloth,
she had hitherto avoided absolute
certainty on the subject. So that altogether
it was a pretty cheerful afternoon
at the Biltons'.
Meanwhile, down in the main street
of the city it was a confusing scene. It
was darker there than where the streets
were more open; and although there were
several daring spirits of that adventurous
turn of mind which leads people into
byways of discovery, who asserted that
the street lamps were lighted, it was
not generally believed. The snow was
blowing down and up and across, and
getting more and more unmanageable
under the feet of foot passengers every
moment. It was cold and windy and
blinding and crowded, and a good many
other disconcerting things, all of which
Mr. Gilton felt the full force of as he
stood on the corner where he had just
bought his turkey. It was a fine turkey,
and had been a good bargain, and though
he had to carry it home himself, there was
nothing derogatory in that. If it had been
anybody else he would have been thrilled
with a glow of satisfaction, but Mr. Gilton
was long past glows of satisfaction—it
was years since he had permitted himself
to have such things.
"Jour—our—nal! fi-i-i-ve cents!"
screamed an intermittent newsboy in his
"Get out!" replied Mr. Gilton, the
uncompromising nature of his language
being intensified by the fact that he
jumped nearly two feet from the suddenness
of the newsboy's attack. Even the
newsboy, inured to the short words of an
unfriendly world, and usually quite indifferent
thereto, was impressed by the asperity
of the suggestion and moved somewhat
hastily on. Possibly his cold, wet little
existence had been rendered morbidly susceptible
by the general good feeling of the
hour, one lady having even spontaneously
given him five cents.
After this exchange of amenities Mr.
Gilton stepped into his horse car. It
was crowded, of course, as horse cars
that are small and run once in half an
hour are apt to be, and he had to stand
up, and the turkey legs stuck out of
the brown paper in a very conspicuous
way. If Mr. Gilton had been anybody
else he would have been chaffed about his
turkey, because to make up for the conveniences
that the horse car line did not
furnish the public, the large-hearted public
furnished the horse car line with an unusual
amount of friendliness. There was
almost always something going on in these
horse cars. Their social privileges were
quite a feature. To-night they were in
unusual force on account of the season.
But nobody said anything to Mr. Gilton.
Only when he jerked the bell and stepped
off, one stout man with his overcoat collar
turned up to his ears said, without turning
"I supposed of course he was going to
give the turkey to the conductor."
Everybody laughed in that end of the
car except one small old lady in the corner,
who was a stranger and visiting, and who
was left with the impression that the gentleman
who got off must be a very kind
man. It was darker and blowier and
snowier than when he had left the corner,
and Mr. Gilton floundered through the
unbroken drifts up the little path to the
door with increasing grudges in his heart
against the difficulties of Christmas. The
lock was off, and he went in slamming
the door after him. There was no light
in the hall, and he murmured loudly
against the inconvenience.
"Confound it!" he said, "why didn't
they light the gas? I'm not one of those
confounded Biltons; I can afford to pay
for what I don't get;" and, without pausing
to take off his hat and coat, he strode
to the sitting-room door and flung it open.
That was an awful moment. The sudden
change from the cold and darkness almost
blinded him, and confirmed the impression
that he was the victim of an illusion. The
sound of many voices, and then the hush
of sudden consternation, was in his ears.
There was a lamp and there was a fire,
and there between them sat Mr. Bilton on
one side and Mrs. Bilton on the other,
and round about, in various unconventional
attitudes, sat four Bilton children. And
there in the very midst of them, in his
heavy overcoat, with snow melting on his
hat, his beard, and his shoulders, stood
Mr. Gilton. The unexpected scene, the
amazed faces gazing into his, rendered
him speechless; he wondered vaguely if
he were losing his reason. Then, in a
flush of enlightenment, he realized what
had happened; thanks to the storm outside,
he had come into the wrong house. Naturally
his first impulse was towards flight,
but as his bewildered gaze slipped about
the room it fell upon five stockings hung
against the mantelpiece, and stayed there
fascinated. Five foolish, limp, expressionless
stockings,—it was long since he had
seen such an unreasonable spectacle. Then
he recollected himself and looked around
him. Perhaps even then, if he had made
a dash for the door, he might have escaped
and matters have been none the
worse. But in that instant of hesitation
caused by the sudden sight of those five
stockings something dreadful occurred. It
must be premised that Cora Cordelia did
not know Mr. Gilton very well by sight,
being in the first place small and not noticing,
and in the second, filled with an
unreasoning fear that caused her to flee
whenever she had seen him approach. This
is the only excuse for what she did; for
while her mother was feebly murmuring,
as if in extenuation, "We thought it was
John coming in," Cora Cordelia clasped
her hands in delirious delight, and cried
aloud, "It's Santa Claus! Oh, it's Santa
Claus!" Could anything more awful
happen to a cross man, a very cross man,
than to be taken for Santa Claus!
Mr. Gilton looked at Cora Cordelia,
and wondered why she had not been
slaughtered in her cradle.
"And," exclaimed Susan Bilton, with
sudden communicative fervor, "he has
come and brought us a turkey for to-morrow's
The truth was that Susan had been
coming to the age that is sceptical about
Santa Claus, but she could not resist this
No one could appreciate the nonsense
of the whole situation better than Mr.
Gilton; and yet, strangely enough, together
with his annoyance was mingled a touch
of the strange feeling that had dawned
upon him first when he saw the stockings.
To be sure, it only added to his annoyance,
but it was there. By this time—it
was really a very short time—Mrs. Bilton
had recovered herself and risen, and
Mr. Bilton had risen too.
"Hush, children; it is not Santa Claus,"
she said, "it is Mr. Gilton. We are glad
to see you, Mr. Gilton;" and she held
out her hand to him. "Won't you sit
down?" She felt that he had come in
the Christmas spirit, and she was anxious
to meet him half-way.
"Yes," said her husband, coming forward,
and instantly taking his cue from his
wife,—for he was really a very nice man,—"we
are very glad." To be sure, in
his manner there was a certain stiffness,
for a man cannot always change completely
in a moment, as a woman can;
but Mr. Gilton was too perplexed to notice
this. In the incomprehensible way
that one's mind has of clinging to unimportant
things at great crises, while he was
fuming with rage and bothered with this
strange feeling which was not precisely
rage, he was wondering how in the world
he was going to sit down with that ridiculous
turkey, with its ridiculous legs, in his
arms, and not look more absurd than he
did now. In this moment of absentmindedness
he had mechanically taken
Mrs. Bilton's hand and shaken it, and
after that of course there was nothing to
do except to shake Mr. Bilton's. Then
he began to know it was all up. He had
not spoken yet, but now he made a frantic
effort to save what might be left besides
honor. "I came—" he began, "I came—came
to your house—" There he
paused a moment, and that unlucky child
with that tendency to be possessed by one
idea, which is characteristic of small and
trivial minds, and for which she should
have been shaken, burst in with, "And
did the reindeer bring you, and are they
He almost groaned, so overwhelmed
was he by this new idiocy. Reindeer!
If those overworked, struggling car-horses
could have heard that! Then Mrs.
Bilton, pitying his evident confusion,
came to his assistance.
"Don't mind the children, Mr. Gilton,"
she said, her cheeks flushing, and looking
very pretty with the excitement of the
unusual circumstances, "we are glad you
came, however you made your way here.
I think we may thank Christmas Eve for
it. Now do take off your overcoat and sit
Oh, mispraised woman's tact! What
complications you may produce! That
finished it, of course. He sat down. In
those few moments that strange feeling
had grown marvellously stronger. It
seemed to be made up of the most diverse
elements,—a mixture of green wreaths and
his own childhood, and his mother, and a
top he had not thought of for years, and
the wide fireplace at home, and a stable
with a child in it, and a picture, in a book
he used to read, of a lot of angels in the
sky, one particular one in the middle, and
underneath it some words—what were
the words? He'd forgotten they had anything
to do with Christmas, anyway.
"But you did bring us the turkey, didn't
you?" said Cora Cordelia, helping her
To do the child justice,—for even Cora
Cordelia has a right to demand justice,—her
manners were corrupted by Christmas
"Cora Cordelia, I'm ashamed of you,"
said Mrs. Bilton.
"Yes," said Mr. Gilton, the words
wrung from his lips, while beads stood on
his forehead,—"yes, I brought you the
"Did you really?" exclaimed Mrs.
Bilton, who thought he had all the time.
"That was very kind of you."
"Will you please take it—take it
away?" he said, with that wish to have
something over which we associate with
the dentist. So Mrs. Bilton took the turkey
and thanked him, and gave it to Fanny,
who carried it out to the kitchen, and Mr.
Gilton gave one last look at its legs as it
went through the door, feeling that now
he must wake up from this nightmare.
But things only went farther and became
more incredible and upsetting, only that,
strangely enough, that feeling of horror
began to wear off, and that singular strain
of association with all sorts of Christmas
things to grow stronger. He himself could
hardly believe that it was no worse, when
he found himself seated by the littered
table, with Mrs. Bilton near and Mr.
Bilton over by the fire again, listening to
first one and then the other, and occasionally
letting fall a word himself, his conversational
powers seeming to thaw out along
with the snow on his greatcoat. These
words themselves were a surprise to him.
He was quite sure that he started them
with a creditable gruffness, but the Christmas
air mellowed them in a highly unsatisfactory
fashion, so that they fell on his
own ears quite otherwise than as he had
meant they should sound. Moreover the
general tenor of the conversation was exceedingly
perplexing. It was all about
how fine it was of him to come this
evening, and how they had often regretted
the hard feeling, and how things always
did get exaggerated. Of course he would
not have believed a word of it, if he had
been able to get any grip on the situation,
but he wasn't, and he just went on assenting
to it all as if it were true. There
came a time when Mr. Bilton cleared his
throat, hesitated a moment, and then said
"I think I ought to tell you, Mr. Gilton,
that I had nothing whatever to do with the
death of your dog." Mr. Gilton felt the
ground slipping away from under his very
feet. That dog had been his piece of
resistance, as it were. "I wouldn't have
poisoned him," went on Mr. Bilton, "for
a hundred dollars. But," he added, with
a queer little smile, "I wasn't going to
tell you so, you know."
"Of course you wasn't," exclaimed
Mr. Gilton, hurriedly, with a touch of that
unholy excitement that a lapse from grammar
"We wouldn't any of us," asserted
"No," said Susan, Fanny, and Cora
Then it came out that the whole family
had rather admired the dog than otherwise.
It was here that John did really come in,
his entrance sounding very much as had
Mr. Gilton's. He nearly fell over when
he saw the visitor, but he had time to pull
himself together, for Cora Cordelia had
snatched that moment for showing Mr.
Gilton her gifts for the family, and he
was bound hand and foot with helplessness.
Then they all came and showed
him their gifts. While he examined them
Mr. and Mrs. Bilton carefully averted
their eyes and gazed hard at the opposite
wall, while Cora Cordelia urged him, in
stage whispers, not to let them suspect.
It was pitiable the state to which he was
reduced. Of course resisting this Christmas
enthusiasm was out of the question.
To be sure it came over him once with
startling force, as she showed him a toy
water-wheel, that went by sand,—which
she had purchased for her father at a
phenomenally low rate because the wheel
could not be made to go,—that Cora Cordelia
was the very child that he had fallen
over as she came hastening out of a toy-shop
with a queerly shaped bundle, the day
before, and so been further imbittered
towards Christmas. Susan had purchased
a cup and ball for her mother, and as she
went out of the room for a moment, insisted
upon Mr. Gilton's trying to do it
and see what fun it was. If Mr. Gilton
lives to be a hundred he will never forget
the mingled feelings with which he
awkwardly tried to get that senseless ball
into that idiotic cup. At last he stood
up to go—it was after six o'clock—and
they went with him to the door,
and wished him Merry Christmas, and
sent Merry Christmas to Mrs. Gilton,
and said good-night several times, and he
stumbled on through the snow, this time
towards his own door. It had stopped
snowing as suddenly and quietly as it had
begun, and the stars had come out. He
gazed up at them,—something he very
rarely did. They seemed a part of Christmas.
Just before he turned in at his own
gate, he looked back at the Bilton house
and shook his fist at it, but the expression
on his face was such that the very same
newsboy who had accosted him earlier
failed utterly to recognize him and was
emboldened to offer him a paper. He
too was pushing his way home with
two papers left, in a somewhat dispirited
"I'll take 'em both," said this singular
customer. "Here's a quarter—never
mind the change. It's Christmas Eve, I
believe—" and this when he knew perfectly
well that a copy of that very same
journal was waiting for him on his
table. The boy looked at his quarter
and looked again at his customer, and
recognized him, and made up his mind
to buy a couple of hot sausages on the
corner, and went on his way feeling that
there was a new heaven and a new earth.
Mrs. Gilton was standing at the parlor
window, peering out anxiously as he
came up the path. She was in the hall
as he entered.
"Why, Reuben," she said, "I was afraid
something had happened."
Goodness gracious! As if something
hadn't happened! He turned away to
hang up his overcoat and tried to speak
"Well," he said, "I've lost my turkey.
"Never mind," said Mrs. Gilton,
quickly; "the other one came later, the
first one, you know—so—so the Biltons
didn't get it this time."
"They got the second one, though,"
said Reuben, hanging up his hat.
"Oh, dear, did they!" said Mrs. Gilton.
Then she went on, "Well, I don't care
if they did, so there! I guess they need
it for their Christmas dinner."
"No, they don't," said Reuben, turning
around and facing her, "because they
are going to eat part of ours. They are
coming in to-morrow to have dinner with
us,—every one of them!" he asserted
more loudly, on account of the expression
on his wife's face. "Bilton, and his wife,
and all the five children, down to Cora
Cordelia! So we'll have to have something
for them to eat."
If Mr. Gilton will never forget the cup
and ball, Mrs. Gilton will never forget
that moment. She went all over it in her
mind whether she could manage him herself
to-night, or whether to send Bridget
right away then for the doctor, and if she
hadn't better say a policeman too, and
whether he could be kept for the future in
a private house, or would have to be confined
in an asylum. She was inclining
towards the asylum when he, who was
going into the sitting-room before her,
turned round and laughed an odd little
laugh. She began to think then that a
private house would do.
The next day they all dined together,
which proved that it was not all a Christmas
Eve illusion. There is a report in
the neighborhood that the fence between
the houses is to be taken down to make
room for a tennis court for the Bilton
children, but of course this may not be true.
It would have to be done in the summer,
and if the effect of Christmas could be
depended upon to last into the summer this
would be a very different sort of world.
THE sombre tints of Grayhead were
slightly suffused by a pink light
sifting from the west through the clear air.
The yachts in the harbor lay idly beneath
the mellow influences of the passing of
the summer day,—idly as only sailboats
can lie, a bit of loose sail or cordage now
and then flapping inconsistently in a breath
of wind, which seemed to come out of
the west for no other purpose, and to retire
into the east afterward, its whole duty
done. On board, men were moving
about, hanging lanterns, making taut here,
setting free there, all with an air of utter
peace and repose such as is found only on
placid waterways beneath a setting sun.
Occasionally an oar dipped in the still
water, a hint of action, modified, softened
into repose. Along one of the quaint
streets of the irregular town, winding
where it would, climbing where it climbed,
hurried an angular figure,—that of a
woman of about fifty years, whose tense
expression suggested an unrest at variance
with the keen calmness of that
of the other faces about the streets and
doorways. Not that it was feverish in
its intensity; rather, it was an expression
of resolution, undeviating and persistent,
but not sure of sympathy or support.
"They've gone down yonder, t'other
side of the wharf, Mis' Pember," said a
middle-aged sea captain, whose interest in
his kind had not been obliterated by the
forced loneliness of northern voyages.
The woman paused and glanced doubtfully
down one of the byways that led
between small, weather-beaten houses and
around disconcerting abutments to the
water, and then forward, straight along
the way she had been travelling, which led
out of the town.
"I'd rather fixed on their going down
Point-ways this evening," she said.
"Well, they ain't," rejoined Captain
Phippeny, with that absence of mere rhetoric
characteristic of people whose solid
work is done otherwise than by speech.
Mrs. Pember nodded, at once in acknowledgment
and farewell, and, turning
about, followed the path he had indicated,
her gait acquiring a certain precipitancy
as she went down the rough, stony slope.
At the foot of the descent she paused
again, and looked to the right and left.
Captain Phippeny was watching her from
his vantage ground above. His figure
was one unmistakably of the seaboard.
His trousers were of a singular cut, probably
after a pattern evolved in all its
originality by Mrs. Phippeny, her active
imagination working towards practical effect.
In addition, he wore a yellow flannel
shirt ribbed with purple, which would
hopelessly have jaundiced a rose-leaf complexion,
but which, having exhausted its
malignancy without producing any particular
effect, ended by gently harmonizing
with the captain's sandy hair, reddish
beard, and tanned skin. His mouth was
like a badly made buttonhole, which gaped
a little when he smiled. He had a nose
like a parrot's beak, and his eyes were
blue, kindly, and wise in their straightforwardness.
When he would render his
costume absolutely de rigueur, he wore a
leathern jacket with manifold pockets,
from one to another of which trailed a
gold watch-chain with a dangling horseshoe
"I wonder the old woman don't take a
dog with her and trace 'em out, she spends
so much time on the hunt," he said to himself.
"I declare for't, it's a sing'lar thing
the way she everlastin' does get onto them
'prentices; ain't old enough to talk about
settin' sail by themselves."
His quid of tobacco again resumed its
claim to his undivided attention, and he
leaned back against the fence and waited
as idly as the drooping sails for a breath of
something stirring. By and by it appeared
in the shape of another old sailor, between
whom and himself there was the likeness
of two peas, save for a slight discrepancy
of feature useful for purposes of identification.
"You told her where they'd gone,
I reckon," he remarked, with a slight
chuckle, as he too leaned up against the
fence and looked out over the harbor.
"Yes, I did," replied Captain Phippeny.
"I didn't have no call to tell her a lie."
"Kinder hard on the young uns," observed
"They ain't ever anythin' as hard on
the young uns as on the old uns," asserted
Captain Phippeny, "because—well, because
they're young, I guess. That's
Chivy's yacht that came in just at sundown,
"Yare. They say she's seen dirty
weather since she was here last."
"Has? Well, you can't stay in harbor
allers, and git your livin' at the same time.
She's got toler'ble good men to handle
There was a pause. The soft twilight
was battening down the hatches of the
day, to drop into the parlance of the
"Well, I do suppose old Pember warn't
an easy shipmate, blow or no blow," observed
Captain Smart. He was a small,
keen-eyed, quickly moving old man, seasoned
"I reckon he warn't. And she thinks
she can keep that girl of hers out of the
same kind of discipline that she had to
take,—that's the truth of it."
"Cur'ous, ain't it?" ruminated Captain
Smart. "A woman's bound to take it one
way or 'nother; there seems to be more
sorts of belayin' pins to knock 'em over
with than they, any on 'em, kinder cal'late
on at first."
"So there be," assented Captain Phippeny.
Near the water, with its fading, rose-colored
reflections, not so far from the
anchored vessels but they might, had they
chosen, have spoken across to those on
board, the monotonous, austere, and yet
vaguely soft gray of the old town rising
behind them against the melting sky, sat
Mellony Pember and Ira Baldwin.
"If you'd only make up your mind,
Mellony," urged the young man.
"I can't, Ira; don't ask me." The
young girl's face, which was delicate in
outline, was troubled, and the sensitive
curves of her lips trembled. The faded
blue of her dress harmonized with the
soft tones of the scene; her hat lay beside
her, an uncurled, articulated ostrich feather
standing up in it like an exclamation point
of brilliant red.
The young man pulled his hat over his
eyes and looked over to the nearest boat.
Mellony glanced at him timidly.
"You see, I'm all she's got," she
"I ain't goin' to take you away from
her, unless you want to go," he replied,
without looking at her.
"She thinks I'll be happier if I don't—if
I don't marry."
"Happier!"—he paused in scorn—"and
she badgerin' you all the time if you
take a walk with me, and watchin' us as
if we were thieves! You ain't happy
now, are you?"
"No." Mellony's eyes filled, and a
sigh caught and became almost a sob.
"Well, I wish she'd give me a try at
makin' you happy, that's all." His
would-be sulkiness softened into a tender
sense of injury. Mellony twisted her
hands together, and looked over beyond
the vessels to the long, narrow neck of
land with its clustering houses, beyond
which again, unseen, were booming the
waves of the Atlantic.
"Oh, if I only knew what to do!"
she exclaimed,—"if I only knew what
"I'll tell you what to do, Mellony,"
"There's ma, now," she interrupted.
Ira turned quickly and looked over his
shoulder. Across the uneven ground,
straight towards them, came the figure
of Mrs. Pember. The tenseness of her
expression had further yielded to resolution,
which had in turn taken on a stolidity
which declared itself unassailable.
No one of the three spoke as she seated
herself on a bit of timber near them,
and, folding her hands, waited with the
immobility and the apparent impartiality
of Fate itself. At last Mellony spoke,
for of the three she was the most
acutely sensitive to the situation, and the
least capable of enduring it silently.
"Which way did you come, ma?" she
"I come down Rosaly's Lane," Mrs.
Pember answered. "I met Cap'n Phippeny,
and he told me you was down
"I'm obligated to Cap'n Phippeny,"
observed Ira, bitterly.
"I dono as he's partickler to have
you," remarked Mrs. Pember, imperturbably.
There was another silence. Mrs.
Pember's voice had a marked sweetness
when she spoke to her daughter, which
it lost entirely when she addressed her
daughter's companion, but always it was
penetrated by the timbre of a certain
The shadows grew deeper on the water,
the glow-worms of lanterns glimmered
more sharply, and the softness of the
night grew more palpable.
"I guess I may as well go back, ma,"
said Mellony, rising.
"I was wonderin' when you cal'lated
on going," remarked her mother, as
she rose too, more slowly and stiffly,
and straightened her decent black
"I suppose you was afraid Mellony
wouldn't get back safe without you came
after her," broke out Ira.
"I guess I can look after Mellony
better than anybody else can, and I count
on doing it, and doing it right along," she
"Come, ma," said Mellony, impatiently;
but she waited a moment and
let her mother pass her, while she looked
back at Ira, who stood, angry and helpless,
kicking at the rusted timbers.
"Are you coming, too, Ira?" she
asked in a low voice.
"No," he exclaimed, "I ain't coming!
I don't want to go along back with your
mother and you, as if we weren't old
enough to be out by ourselves. I might
as well be handcuffed, and so might you!
If you'll come round with me the way we
came, and let her go the way she came,
I'll go with you fast enough."
Mellony's eyes grew wet again, as
she looked from him to her mother, and
again at him. Mrs. Pember had paused,
also, and stood a little in advance of them.
Her stolidity showed no anxiety; she was
too sure of the result.
"No,"—Mellony's lips framed the
words with an accustomed but grievous
patience,—"I can't to-night, Ira; I
must go with ma."
"It's to-night that'll be the last chance
there'll be, maybe," he muttered, as he
flung himself off in the other direction.
The two women walked together up
the rough ascent, and turned into Rosaly's
Lane. Mellony walked wearily, her eyes
down, the red feather, in its uncurled, unlovely
assertiveness, looking more like the
oriflamme of a forlorn hope than ever.
But Mrs. Pember held herself erect, and
as if she were obliged carefully to repress
what might have been the signs of an ill-judged
Ira prolonged his walk beyond the limits
of the little gray town, goaded by the irritating
pricks of resentment. He would
bear it no longer, so he told himself.
Mellony could take him or leave him.
He would be a laughing-stock not another
week, not another day. If Mellony
would not assert herself against her tyrannical
old mother, he would go away and
leave her! And then he paused, as he had
paused so often in the flood of his anger,
faced by the realization that this was just
what Mrs. Pember wanted, just what
would satisfy her, what she had been
waiting for,—that he should go away
and leave Mellony alone. It was an exasperating
dilemma, his abdication and her
triumph, or his uncertainty and her anxiety.
Mellony and her mother passed Captain
Phippeny and Captain Smart, who still
stood talking in the summer evening, the
fence continuing to supply all the support
their stalwart frames needed in this their
hour of ease. Captain Smart nudged
Captain Phippeny as the two figures
turned the corner of Rosaly's Lane.
"So you found 'em, Mis' Pember,"
remarked Captain Phippeny. He spoke
to the mother, but he looked, not without
sympathy at the daughter.
"Yes, I found 'em."
"You reckoned on fetchin' only one of
'em home, I take it," said Captain Smart.
"I ain't responsible but for one of
'em," replied Mrs. Pember with some
grimness, but with her eyes averted from
Mellony's crimsoning face.
"Come, ma," said Mellony again, and
they passed on.
"Mis' Pember is likely enough lookin'
woman herself," observed Captain Smart;
"it's kind of cur'ous she should be so set
agen marryin,' just as marryin'."
"'Tis so," assented Captain Phippeny,
thoughtfully, looking after the two women.
Without speaking, Mellony and her
mother entered the little house where they
lived, and the young girl sank down in the
stiff, high-backed rocker, with its thin
calico-covered cushion tied with red braid,
that stood by the window. Outside, the
summer night buzzed and hummed, and
breathed sweet odors. Mrs. Pember moved
about the room, slightly altering its arrangements,
now and then looking at her daughter
half furtively, as if waiting for her to
speak; but Mellony's head was not turned
from the open window, and she was utterly
silent. At last this immobility had a sympathetic
effect upon the mother, and she
seated herself not far from the girl, her
hands, with their prominent knuckles and
shrunken flesh, folded in unaccustomed
idleness, and waited, while in the room dusk
grew to dark. To Mellony the hour was
filled with suggestions that emphasized
and defined her misery. In her not turbulent
or passionate nature, the acme of
its capacity for emotional suffering had been
reached. Hitherto this suffering had been
of the perplexed, patient, submissive kind;
to-night, the beauty of the softly descending
gloom, the gentle freedom of the placid
harbor, the revolt of her usually yielding
lover, deepened it into something more
"Mellony," said her mother, with a
touch of that timidity which appeared only
in her speech with her daughter, "did you
count on going over to the Neck to-morrow,
as you promised?"
"I'll never count on doing anything
again," said Mellony, in a voice she tried
to make cold and even, but which vibrated
notwithstanding,—"never, so long as I
live. I'll never think, or plan, or—or
speak, if I can help it—of what I mean
to do. I'll never do anything but just
work and shut my eyes and—and live, if
I've got to!" Her voice broke, and she
turned her head away from the open window
and looked straight before her into the
shadowed room. Her mother moved uneasily,
and her knotted hands grasped the
arms of the stiff chair in which she sat.
"Mellony," she said again, "you've no
call to talk so."
"I've no call to talk at all. I've no
place anywhere. I'm not anybody. I
haven't any life of my own." The keen
brutality of the thoughtlessness of youth,
and its ignoring of all claims but those of
its own happiness, came oddly from the
lips of submissive Mellony. Mrs. Pember
quivered under it.
"You know you're my girl, Mellony,"
she answered gently. "You're all I've
"Yes," the other answered indifferently,
"that's all I am,—Mellony Pember, Mrs. Pember's
"Ain't that enough? Ain't that something
to be,—all I plan for and work
for? Ain't that enough for a girl to be?"
Mellony turned her eyes from emptiness,
and fixed them upon her mother's
face, dimly outlined in the vagueness.
"Is that all you've been," she asked,
"just somebody's daughter?"
It was as if a heavy weight fell from
her lips and settled upon her mother's
heart. There was a silence. Mellony's
eyes, though she could not see them,
seemed to Mrs. Pember to demand an
answer in an imperative fashion unlike
their usual mildness.
"It's because I've been,—it's because
I'd save you from what I have been that
I—do as I do. You know that," she
"I don't want to be saved," returned
the other, quickly and sharply.
The older woman was faced by a situation
she had never dreamed of,—a
demand to be allowed to suffer! The
guardian had not expected this from her
carefully shielded charge.
"I want you to have a happy life," she
"A happy life!" flashed the girl. "And
you're keeping me from any life at all!
That's what I want,—life, my own life,
not what anybody else gives me of theirs.
Why shouldn't I have what they have,
even if it's bad now and then? Don't
save me in spite of myself! Nobody likes
to be saved in spite of themselves."
It was a long speech for Mellony. A
large moon had risen, and from the low
horizon sent golden shafts of light almost
into the room; it was as if the placidity
of the night were suddenly penetrated by
something more glowing. Mellony stood
looking down at her mother, like a judge.
Mrs. Pember gazed at her steadily.
"I'm going to save you, Mellony,"
she said, her indomitable will making her
voice harsher than it had been, "whether
you want to be saved or not. I'm not
going to have you marry, and be sworn at
and cuffed." Mellony moved to protest,
but her strength was futility beside her
mother's at a time like this. "I'm not
going to have you slave and grub, and get
blows for your pains. I'm going to follow
you about and set wherever you be,
whenever you go off with Ira Baldwin, if
that'll stop it; and if that won't, I'll try
some other way,—I know other ways.
I'm not going to have you marry! I'm
going to have you stay along with me!"
With a slight gesture of despair, Mellony
turned away. The flash had burned
itself out. The stronger nature had reasserted
itself. Silently, feeling her helplessness,
frightened at her own rebellion
now that it was over, she went out of the
room to her own smaller one, and closed
Mrs. Pember sat silent in her turn, reviewing
her daughter's resentment, but
the matter admitted no modifications in
her mind; her duty was clear, and her
determination had been taken long ago.
Neither did she fear anything like persistent
opposition; she knew her daughter's
submissive nature well.
Brought up in a country village, an earnest
and somewhat apprehensive member
of the church, Mrs. Pember had married
the captain early in life, under what she
had since grown to consider a systematic
illusion conceived and maintained by the
Evil One, but which was, perhaps, more
logically due to the disconcerting good
looks and decorously restrained impetuosity
of Captain Pember himself. Possibly he
had been the victim of an illusion too, not
believing that austerity of principle could
exist with such bright eyes and red cheeks
as charmed him in the country girl. At
least, he never hesitated subsequently, not
only to imply, but to state baldly, a sense
of the existence of injury. Captain Phippeny
was one of those sailors whom the
change of scene, the wide knowledge of
men and of things, the hardships and dangers
of a sea life, broaden and render tolerant
and somewhat wise. Pember had
been brutalized by these same things.
The inhabitants of Grayhead were distinguished
by the breadth and suggestiveness
of their profanity, and Captain Pember
had been a past master of the accomplishment.
Praise from Sir Hubert Stanley
could have been no more discriminating
than the local acknowledgment of his
proficiency in this line. No wonder Mrs.
Pember looked back at the ten years of
her married life with a shudder. With
the rigid training of her somewhat dogmatic
communion still potent, she listened
in a horrified expectancy, rather actual
than figurative, for the heavens to strike
or the earth to swallow up her nonchalant
husband. Nor was this all. The weakness
for grog, unfortunately supposed to
be inherent in a nautical existence, was
carried by Captain Pember to an extent
inconsiderate even in the eyes of a seafaring
public; and when, under its genial
influence, he knocked his wife down and
tormented Mellony, the opinion of this
same public declared itself on the side of
the victims with a unanimity which is not
always to be counted upon in such cases.
In fact, her married life had, as it were,
formalized many hitherto somewhat vague
details of Mrs. Pember's conception of the
place of future punishment; and when
her husband died in an appropriate and indecorous
fashion as the result of a brawl,
he continued to mitigate the relief of the
event by leaving in his wife's heart a
haunting fear, begotten of New England
conscientiousness, that perhaps she ought
not to be so unmistakably glad of it. It
was thus that, with Mellony's growth
from childhood to womanhood, the burning
regret for her former unmarried state,
whose difficulties had been mainly theological,
had become a no less burning resolve
that her child should never suffer as she
had suffered, but should be guarded from
matrimony as from death. That she
failed to distinguish between individuals,
that she failed to see that young Baldwin
was destitute of those traits which her
sharpened vision would now have detected
in Pember's youth, was both the fault of
her perceptive qualities and the fruit of
her impregnable resolve. She had been
hurt by Mellony's rebellion, but not influenced
by so much as a hair's-breadth.
Early one morning, two or three days
later, Mrs. Pember, lying awake waiting
for the light to grow brighter that she
might begin her day, heard a slight sound
outside, of a certain incisiveness out of
proportion to its volume. With an idleness
that visited her only at early day-break,
she wondered what it was. It was
repeated, and this time, moved by an insistent
curiosity blended with the recognition
of its probable cause, she rose and
looked out of the window which was close
to the head of her bed. A little pier was
a stone's throw from the house on that
side, at which were moored several boats
belonging to the fishermen about. It was
as she thought; a stooping figure, dim and
hazy in the morning fog, which blurred
the nearest outlines and veiled the more
distant, was untying one of the boats, and
had slipped the oars into the rowlocks.
"Going fishing early," she said to herself.
"I wonder which of 'em it is.
They are all alike in this light."
Then she stood and looked out upon
the morning world. It would soon be
sunrise. Meanwhile, the earth was silent,
save for the soft rippling of the untired
waves that scarcely rose and fell in this
sheltered harbor; the land had been at
rest through the short night, but they had
climbed and lapsed again steadily through
its hours; the paling stars would soon
have faded into the haze. The expectation
of the creature waited for the
Softly the boat floated away from its
moorings. It seemed propelled without
effort, so quietly it slipped through the
water. In the bottom lay the sail and the
nets, a shadowy mass; the boat itself was
little more than a shadow, as it glided on
into the thicker fog which received and
enveloped it, as into an unknown vague
future which concealed and yet held
promise and welcome.
Mrs. Pember glanced at the clock. It
was very early, but to go back to bed
was hardly worth while. The sun was
already beginning to glint through the
fog. She dressed, and, passing softly the
door of the room where Mellony slept,—rather
fitfully of late,—began to make
The morning broadened and blazed
into the day, and the whole town was
making ready for its breakfast. Mellony
was later than usual,—her mother did not
hear her moving about, even; but she
was unwilling to disturb her; she would
wait a while longer before calling her.
At last, however, the conviction of the
immorality of late rising could no longer
be ignored, and she turned the knob of
Mellony's door and stepped into the
She had been mistaken in supposing
that Mellony was asleep; the girl must
have risen early and slipped out, for the
room was empty, and Mrs. Pember
paused, surprised that she had not heard
her go. It must have been while she was
getting kindling-wood in the yard that
Mellony had left by the street door. And
what could she have wanted so early in
the village?—for to the village she must
have gone; she was nowhere about the
little place, whose flatness dropped, treeless,
to the shore. Her mother went
again to the kitchen, and glanced up and
down the waterside. There was no one
on the little wooden pier, and the boats
swung gently by its side, their own among
them, so Mellony had not gone out in
that. Yes, she must have gone to the
village, and Mrs. Pember opened the front
door and scanned the wandering little
street. It was almost empty; the early
morning activity of the place was in other
With the vague uneasiness that unaccustomed
and unexplained absence always
produces, but with no actual apprehension,
Mrs. Pember went back to her work.
Mellony had certain mild whims of her
own, but it was surprising that she should
have left her room in disorder, the bed
unmade; that was not like her studious
neatness. With a certain grimness Mrs.
Pember ate her breakfast alone. Of
course no harm had come to Mellony, but
where was she? Unacknowledged, the
shadow of Ira Baldwin fell across her
wonder. Had Mellony cared so much for
him that her disappointment had driven
her to something wild and fatal? She did
not ask the question, but her lips grew
white and stiff at the faintest suggestion
of it. Several times she went to the door,
meaning to go out, and up the street to
look for her daughter, but each time something
withheld her. Instead, with that
determination that distinguished her, she
busied herself with trifling duties. It was
quite nine o'clock when she saw Captain
Phippeny coming up the street. She
stood still and watched him approach.
His gait was more rolling than ever, as he
came slowly towards her, and he glanced
furtively ahead at her house, and then
dropped his eyes and pretended not to
have seen her. She grew impatient to
have him reach her, but she only pressed
her lips together and stood the more rigidly
still. At last he stood in front of
her doorstone, his hat in his hand. The
yellow shirt and the leathern jacket were
more succinctly audacious than ever, but
doubt and irresolution in every turn of
his blue eyes and line of his weather-beaten
face had taken the place of the
"It's a warm mornin', Mis' Pember,"
he observed, more disconcerted than ever
by her unsmiling alertness.
"You came a good ways to tell me
that, Captain Phippeny."
"Yes, I did. Leastways I didn't," he
responded. "I come to tell you about—about
"What about Mellony, Captain Phippeny?"
she demanded, pale, but uncompromising.
"What have you got to tell
me about Mellony Pember?" she reiterated
as he paused.
"Not Mellony Pember," gasped the
captain, a three-cornered smile trying to
make headway against his embarrassment
as he recalled the ancient tale of breaking
the news to the Widow Smith; "Mellony
"Mellony Baldwin!" repeated Mrs.
Pember, stonily, not yet fully comprehending.
The captain grew more and more
"Yes," he proceeded, with the haste of
despair, "yes. Mis' Pember, you see Mellony—Mellony's
"Mellony married!" Strangely enough
she had not thought of that. She grasped
the doorpost for support.
"Yes, she up and married him," went
on the captain more blithely. "I hardly
thought it of Mellony," he added in not
unpleasurable reflection, "nor yet of Ira."
"Nor I either." Mrs. Pember's lips
moved with difficulty. Mellony married!
The structure reared with tears and
prayers, the structure of Mellony's happiness,
seemed to crumble before her eyes.
"And I was to give you this;" and
from the lining of his hat the captain drew
forth a folded paper.
"Then you knew about it?" said Mrs.
Pember, in a flash of cold wrath.
"No, no, I didn't. My daughter's
boy brought this to me, and I was to tell
you they was married. And why they
set the job onto me the Lord he only
knows!" and Captain Phippeny wiped his
heated forehead with feeling; "but that's
all I know."
Slowly, her fingers trembling, she unfolded
"I have married Ira, mother," she read.
"He took me away in a boat early this
morning. It was the only way. I will
come back when you want me. If I am
to be unhappy, I'd rather be unhappy this
way. I can't be unhappy your way any
longer. I'm sorry to go against you,
mother; but it's my life, after all, not
As Mrs. Pember's hands fell to her side
and the note slipped from her fingers, the
daily tragedy of her married life seemed to
pass before her eyes. She saw Captain
Pember reel into the house, she shuddered
at his blasphemy, she felt the sting of the
first blow he had given her, she cowered
as he roughly shook Mellony's little frame
by her childish arm.
"She'd better be dead!" she murmured.
"I wish she was dead."
Captain Phippeny pulled himself together.
"No, she hadn't,—no, you
don't, Mis' Pember," he declared stoutly.
"You're making a mistake. You don't
want to see Mellony dead any more'n I
do. She's only got married, when all's
said and done, and there's a sight of folks
gets married and none the worse for it.
Ira Baldwin ain't any great shakes,—I
dono as he is; he's kinder light complected
and soft spoken,—but he ain't a
born fool, and that's a good deal, Mis'
Pember." He paused impressively, but
she did not speak. "And he ain't goin'
to beat Mellony, either; he ain't that
sort. I guess Mellony could tackle him,
if it came to that, anyhow. I tell you,
Mis' Pember, there's one thing you don't
take no reckonin' on,—there's a difference
in husbands, there's a ter'ble difference
in 'em!" Mrs. Pember looked at
him vaguely. Why did he go on talking?
Mellony was married. "Mellony's got
one kind, and you—well," he went on,
with cautious delicacy, "somehow you got
another. I tell you it's husbands as
makes the difference to a woman when it
comes to marryin'."
Mrs. Pember stooped, picked up the
note, turned and walked into the living-room
and sat down. She looked about
her with that sense of unreality that visits
us at times. There was the chair in which
Mellony sat the night of her rebellious
outbreak,—Mellony, her daughter, her
married daughter. Other women talked
about their "married daughters" easily
enough, and she had pitied them; now she
would have to talk so, too. She felt unutterably
lonely. Her household, like her
hope, was shattered. She looked up and
saw that Captain Phippeny had followed
her in and was standing before her, turning
his hat in his brown, tattooed hands.
"Mis' Pember," he said, "I thought,
mebbe, now Mellony was married, you'd
be thinkin' of matrimony yourself agen."
As Mrs. Pember gazed at him dumbly it
seemed as if she must all at once have
become another person. Matrimony had
suddenly become domesticated, as it were.
Her eyes travelled over the horseshoe
charm and the long gold chain, as she listened,
and from pocket to pocket. "And
so I wanted to say that I'd like to have
you think of me, if you was making out
the papers for another v'yage. The first
mate I sailed with, she says to me when
she died, 'You've been a good husband,
Phippeny,' says she. I wouldn't say
anythin' to you, I wouldn't take the resk,
if she hadn't said that to me. Mis'
Pember, and I'm tellin' it to you now
because there's such a difference; and I
feel kinder encouraged by it to ask you
to try me. I'd like to have you marry
me, Mis' Pember."
It was a long speech, and the captain
was near to suffocation when it was finished,
but he watched her with anxious
keenness as he waited for her to reply.
The stern lines of her mouth relaxed
slowly. A brilliant red geranium in the
window glowed in the sunlight which had
just reached it. The world was not all
dark. The room seemed less lonely with
the captain in it, as she glanced around it
a second time. She scanned his face: the
buttonhole of a mouth had a kindly twist;
he did not look in the least like handsome
Dick Pember. Mellony had married, and
her world was in fragments, and something
must come after.
"I never heard as you weren't a good
husband to Mis' Phippeny," she said
calmly, "and I dono as anybody'll make any
objection if I marry you, Captain Phippeny."
Memoir of Mary Twining
THE other day I spent several hours
in looking over a lot of dusty volumes
which had fallen to me in the way
of inheritance. In the somewhat heterogeneous
collection I came upon a brief
memoir which, after a glance within, I
laid aside as worthy, at least, of perusal.
The other books were of little value of
any sort—an orthodox commentary, an
odd volume of a county history, one or
two cook-books, a worn and broken set
of certain standard British authors,—the
usual assortment to be found in a country
farmhouse, whose occupants soon ceased
to keep up with the times. But this
little book seemed to me unusual,—an
opinion subsequently confirmed by examination.
I had long ago discovered the
fallacy of that tradition of early youth
that a memoir is, of necessity, dull, and I
was in nowise unfavorably affected by
the title, "Memoir of Mary Twining."
There proved to be something to me singularly
quaint and charming in this little
sketch, something fresh and new in this
voice from bygone years. The subject
of the memoir attracted me powerfully,
both from the simplicity and naturalness
of her own words, and the freedom
and occasional depth of both thought and
expression, in a day when freedom and
thinking for one's self were less the fashion
of New England maidens than they have
since become. Or, it may be that the
Editor, notwithstanding an occasional stiffness
and apparent want of sympathy,
has so well done his work, has understood
so well what to give us and what
to keep from us, that the reader's interest
is skilfully fostered from the start. Be
this as it may, I have not been able to
resist the temptation to write, myself, a
little of this memoir and its subject, to
make a little wider, if I may, the public who
have been told the story of this life. Not
that it was an exciting or an eventful one,
though lived in stirring times, but as I have
already said, it seems to have a certain
charm which should not be left forgotten
in country garrets or unnoticed in second-hand
bookstores. With no further apology
for this review of it, I shall let the book,
as far as possible, speak for itself.
Mary Twining was born in Middleport,
Massachusetts, June 27, 1757.
Her father fought with Colonel Washington
in the French and Indian War, and
subsequently under General Washington
in a later disturbance. Her mother was a
granddaughter of one of the early colonial
governors. Mary seems to have come
naturally enough by fine impulses and
"It is not," says the conscientious
biographer, "from any vain Partiality for
high-sounding names, or any poor Pretense
of good blood, which were most out of
place in this our Republic, made so by the
Genius and enduring Fortitude of all
classes of Men, that I claim for Mary
Twining stately Lineage, but that when
such Accidents fall in the lives of Human
Beings, it is not a thing to make light of,
but worthy of study in its Results. Besides
which is General Washington none
the less a Good Soldier in that he is a
I suspect the traditions of a loyal Englishman
had not been wholly eradicated
from the mind of this biographer by a few
years of plebeian institutions. With equal
truth he goes on, however, to say that
what was "of an Importance swallowing
up the Lesser Matter of Lineage and Station,
Richard Twining was an upright and
a God-fearing man, and Mary, his wife,
patterned in all things after the Behaviour
of her godly Ancestor." Either Richard
or Mary, his wife, must have something
"patterned" after a liberal and occasionally
self-willed model, else whence came
the spice of independence in the little
Mary's character? She was an only child,
and only children were probably in the
middle of the eighteenth very much what
they are in the close of the nineteenth
century,—little beings allowed greater liberties,
and burdened with heavier accountabilities,
than where there are more to divide
both. There are several incidents told of
her childhood, not particularly remarkable,
perhaps, but showing that her mind and
her imagination were alive. She was not
by any means a precocious child; her
mind was but little, if at all, in advance of
her years. If one may judge from detached
anecdotes and descriptions, she
showed no more than the receptivity and
quickness natural to a bright and somewhat
unusually clear intellect. Through
all these anecdotes there runs a vein denoting
what is less common in childhood
than a certain precocity,—a keen sense of
justice. She appears to have reasoned of
many things, usually taken by childhood
for granted, and assented to their results
only if they seemed to her childishness just.
If after life showed her that the affairs of
this life can be but seldom regulated according
to the ideas of finite justice, she never
seems to have lost a certain fairness of
judgment and opinion, which is rare in one
of her sex and circumstances. When five
years old, her mother, wishing her to give
up a pet doll to a little crippled friend,
told her that sympathy should suggest her
doing it; that it was a privilege to make
another happy; that it was selfishness to
prefer her own pleasure of possession to
that of another. But Mary listened unmoved
to these arguments. Nevertheless
the struggle was not a long one. With a
good grace, after a few moments of silence,
she carried the doll to her unfortunate
friend. "Mamma," she said soberly,
"she shall have it, for it is right that she
should. I feel it. I shall have many
things that she can never have."
For the logic of five years it was no
small thing to have settled this question in
this way. It would take too much time
and too much space to dwell on the anecdotes
of her childhood. Indeed, the
biographer does not linger on them long
"It is meet," he says, "to speak of
these early Years, not from a desire to
show that there was aught in the Childhood
of Mary Twining remarkable or
unnatural, that should be the Cause of
Wonder or Admiration. But the rather
that there may be evinced the Presence,
even in the Germ, of certain Qualities of
Soundness of Judgment and of Thoughtfulness
unusual in a Female, which grew
with her Growth, and which were in later
Years, developed into stronger Traits by
no unnatural means."
In 1773 she was sent away to a school
in which she remained three years, varied
by occasional visits at home. She made
several friends here, and here, for the first
time, kept a methodical and somewhat
extended diary. From this diary her biographer
makes copious extracts. In fact,
from this period the memoir is chiefly made
up from her several journals, in whose continuity
there are now and then large gaps,
with occasional notes. I shall make less
copious extracts, principally those bearing
upon that matter of which we always,
more or less consciously, seek traces in
the lives of individuals, distinguished or
obscure, the love story. But first for her
school life, into which few whispers of
sentiment penetrated. It was no fashionable
boarding-school to which she was sent,
attended by young ladies whose dreams of
what they will soon be doing in society
monopolize the hours nominally devoted
to literature and the sciences. An old
friend of her mother opened her house to
a few representatives of those families with
whom she was acquainted, where, under
the best teachers the country afforded, they
were trained in such acquirements as were
prescribed by the canons of the day. On
the fifteenth of September she says:—
"I have been something more than a
week at the good School which my kind
Parents have chosen for me. There seems,
after all, to be little doing here. The few
exercises in Mathematics, and the selections
from the works of the most Highly
Endowed of the Authors of England appear
to me to be the most Profitable. As
for the matter of Embroidery, I worked
with Patience, ten years ago, a Sampler
which was not considered discreditable, and
it seems to me that of the multiplying of
Stitches there is no end, and it were, perhaps,
as well to go no farther. My daily
Practice on the Spinet, may, perhaps, be
the means of giving Pleasure at some
Future Time, but it is the Occasion of but
little Benefit in the Present, and of the
Future can we be never certain."
The question of profitableness of a good
many of her employments was often in her
mind during these three years. She cannot
help feeling that there are times when
it is hard to contentedly fold the hands
over even the worsted marvels of a "not
discreditable" sampler. A year later, she
"More Practice and more Embroidery
this afternoon. There are those of my
Companions who ask nothing better than
such unvarying Exercises. In them they
find room for the employing of their Imagination
and their Spirit. I wonder if it be
so great a Fault in me, that I find them
wearying. It is not that they are in themselves
so distasteful, as it is that there
seemeth much work waiting to be done,
which a woman's Hands might well do,
were it not reckoned somewhat unseemly."
"Her's was a somewhat restless Soul,"
says her biographer, "perplexing itself with
Questions which it was not for her to
Yes, with questions with which many a
restless woman's soul has since perplexed
itself, and which are now only beginning
to attain solution. It is pleasant to find,
in these early times, when we fancy New
England maidens well content with their
spinning and bread-making, hints that there
were enterprising spirits who thought the
prescribed round a too narrow one.
She finds some fault with one of her
teachers for being too lenient with her.
"I received no Reproof," she says,
"to-day when I most Richly deserved
it. A Disturbance in the Hour for Study
was entirely of my own making, but the
Person who is Master at that Hour refused,
with Persistence, to see it. I made
it most evident, but he remarked, with a
frown for a less Offender, that he should
hold Mistress Twining excused. I shall
find Occasion to address him on this Subject,
for if I receive due Credit for that
which I do that is Well Done, I shall show
no unwillingness to bear the Brunt of my
Superior's Displeasure for what is Ill Done.
Moreover, I will not have it otherwise."
"It were better," is the brief comment,
"it were better had Mary Twining shown
more Regret for what she herself confesses
was ill done, rather than that she should
take upon herself to correct the Faults of
those towards whom she was somewhat
lacking in Reverence." But it is droll
enough to fancy the scene—the pretty
schoolgirl gravely rebuking her delinquent
master for the too great partiality her own
bright eyes had won for her. Poor man!
His was no sinecure. To hold rule over
a parcel of unruly girls, with the graces
of one so tugging at his heartstrings! His
path might at least have been spared the
thorn of having his fault denounced by the
very voice that had done the mischief.
During the last year of her stay she
writes less. Did the objectlessness of this
education of hers pall upon the energy of
her nature more and more? Or was her
woman's heart preparing the way for the
answer to this restless questioning? It is
only now and then that we catch a glimpse
of this development, which was singularly
mature and singularly free from restriction.
"I have read many Tales," she says,
"how true, in my small Experience, I
know not, of the aptitude of Women, particularly
those young women whose characters
are in a state of most Imperfect
Development, to yield in matters essential
to their best Happiness to the Opposing
Wishes of Parents and Guardians. I speak
of those Matters, perhaps not the most
fitting for the Speculations of a but Partially-schooled
Maiden—Love, and the
Choosing of a Husband. While in these
matters, as in all others, the Wishes of
Wise and Fond Parents and Guardians
are the only safe Guides for a young and
Untrained Spirit, there are other Cases
where Injustice and a Desire to Rule are
but slender Grounds for the exercise of
Authority. I know that my Boldness in
this Opinion cannot pass even my own
mind unchallenged, but when I read of
Unwilling Maids forced to the very Church
Door or Languishing under unmerited
sternness, and Yielding up their own Happiness,
and that of another (though he be
a Man) into the Hands of an unwise
Judge through inability to resist such unloving
Pressure, my Nature rebels against
it. It would seem to me cause for a
Glad and an Unfaltering Resistance. For
a Husband is, after all, a Matter for a
Maid's own choosing."
"The beaten path," says the biographer,
"had ever but little attraction for Mary
Twining. It had been well had she been
less fain to seek Opportunity for a Lawful
Resistance to Bonds. It seemeth ever
to the Young that such opportunities are
not long in coming."
It was not only from the consciences
of the colonial fathers that the stirrings
of independence went forth. Apparently
there was a spirit abroad that breathed
now and then from the lips of but partially-schooled
maidens. Still, it is not
unruliness, this protest of a young and
independent spirit against the slavishness
now and then upheld in certain forms of
literature. There is little revolutionary,
after all, in Mary's sentiment that "a
Husband is a matter for a Maid's own
But we must pass over the last few
notes of her school life. At nineteen she
left school forever.
"I am about to leave this little Life of
School," she writes, "for a larger Life of
Home, and mayhap a Taste of that Life
which is called of the World. And if I
be not now, at the age of Nineteen years,
equipped for the change and able to comport
myself with a becoming Discretion
and Dignity, then such equipment is not
to be found within these Four Walls or in
daily Practice of Music and Mathematics.
Which, though I be filled with no over-weening
Distrust of my own Capabilities,
seemeth to my eyes of some Doubt and
Difference of Opinion."
"On a certain day of June," her biographer
goes on to state, "Mistress Mary
Twining was placed in the Coach which
should take her a Two Days' Journey to
her Father's House. She was in Company
with an old and Reverend Gentleman of
friendly Disposition, who was well known
to her Father and held in excellent esteem
of him. The Fairness of a Maid is but a
vain Toy, but," declares this most staid
biographer, with a refreshing candor, "as
it is a matter which is not without its
effect on the Fortunes of many, it is not
always to be passed over in the Silence
which would befit a Sober Pen. Mary
Twining's Hair was of a golden Colour and
wound itself in small, and not always tidy,
Rings about her Neck and Forehead. Her
eyes were of a darker appearance than is
common, and her Mouth, though not without
a certain Winsomeness, gave Promise
of a Firmness of Opinion and an Independence
which was perhaps but a Sign of the
Times, which her small and shrewdly-set
Nose did not deny."
I more than suspect that, disclaim it as
he may, our discreet biographer was in
nowise loath to dwell a little on this vain
toy of Mary's personal appearance. I even
fancy that he was tempted to employ
greater latitude of expression, which only
his stern sense of his responsibilities led
him to reject, in the description of that
uncompromising mouth, not to mention
the spice of naughtiness involved in that
nose so "shrewdly set."
Not an unattractive picture in the coach
window, this June day, is this of Mary
Twining, in her big poke bonnet, white
kerchief and short-waisted gown. And
who is this, who, coming at the last
moment, springs into a vacant place at her
side, under the very eyes of the reverend
old gentleman, her father's friend? The
three-cornered hat which he doffs with
ceremonious courtesy to the fair vision
before him, the powdered queue, the high
boots with jingling spurs, the sword at
his side, are not unpicturesque items in
our nineteenth-century eyes. Were they
likely to be so in the eyes of this nineteen-year-old
maiden just out of boarding-school?
"As it happened," says the biographer,
"there went down the same day, and by
the same Coach, one of the young Aids of
our General. He was a personable Youth,
and the Arrangement of the many Fripperies
of the Costume of a young Gallant
did naught to take away from the Face and
Figure which Providence had accorded him.
It were better had he or Mary Twining
chosen another Time for the Journey."
Neither, probably, did a natural timidity
of disposition do aught to lessen the impression
which a personable young man
has it in his power in any century to make
upon a fair and observing girl. Mary
"There rode down with us a young
gallant of most holiday Appearance, but
not ignorant withal of the working days
of a Soldier. It was not long before he
had entered into Conversation with Mr.
Edwards, who had knowledge of the
young Man's Parents, from which Conversation
I learned something of himself,
though most modestly told. He would
fain have opened the Way for me to join
in my Guardian's Questioning, but I bore in
Mind the Unseemliness of an unwarranted
Acquaintanceship, and sought rather to
avoid than to court the Glances which he
was not over cautious in sending in my
"A Maid's avoidance," observes the
biographer, "of a Youth's Glances, is not
of that Nature that is the Cutting off of all
And Fortune, too, was not of so perverse
a disposition in this June weather as
she is sometimes. For, on the second
day, when probably glances, so conscientiously
evaded, had become but the accompaniment
of spoken words, there was an
accident. The coach, as coaches are apt
to do, was upset, and its occupants "made
haste rather as they could than as they
would," to leave it. In the confusion and
tumbling about of heavy boxes Mary might
have been badly hurt, had not the young
gallant, quickly springing to his feet, caught
her as she was thrown forward by a second
lurch of the unwieldy thing, and, lifting her
up, carried her out of the way of falling
luggage and struggling horses to a place of
"He lifted me as though I had been
but a Feather's weight, showing a Strength
which is indeed Goodly in the Sons of
Men," says Mary demurely, "and which
was most grateful in the Stress and Confusion,
and in its display most Timely, though
perhaps," she adds, with delicious frankness,
"he was not over ready to put me
down that he might hasten back to be of
"My Bonnet was awry," she continues,
"my Hair in sad confusion, and my Face a
Milkmaid Red, so that I said with but little
Grace, 'Sir, I fear you have found me a
grievous Weight.' Whereupon he answered
me that so light was my weight,
that his Heart was the Heavier for the
Putting of me down, which was a Conceit
not reasonable but most kindly intended.
Whereon I thanked him, and he vowed
such a Burden would he gladly carry to
the World's End had he but Leave
Another picture not unpleasant to the
mind's eye, the overturned coach, the
esteemed guardian of the youthful beauty
delaying a little in its immediate neighborhood,
perhaps to secure the safety of
some precious package, the farm laborers
in the green adjacent fields dropping their
tools and running forward to help, the
outcry and confusion, and apart, in the
summer sunshine, the handsome fellow
with the flashing sword by his side, listening
with bent head and admiring eyes to
the thanks which Mistress Mary, with
her untidy hair and lifted eyes, was tendering
with "but little Grace."
"Such chance meeting of the Sexes,"
says our astute commentator, "where appear
what is most commanding in the One
and most dependent in the Other, are but
ill advised. The Uttering of such vain
proffers as the carrying the Burden of
Mary Twining to the World's End, and
other Foolishness, hath then a Savour of
Reality which concealeth the vain Delusion."
We have delayed too long over these
extracts, and though I am tempted to delay
yet longer, so quaint is the contrast
between Mary Twining's youthful and
feminine pen and that of her critical
biographer, I pass on to a time some
months after her arrival home. Indeed,
she writes little in the interval. The
coming into a new and wider circle, the
adapting herself to new conditions, leave
her scant time for writing. There is a
rapid noting of events, for it was an
eventful time,—the mention of a few distinguished
names, and that is all. But in
order to follow the thread of Mary Twining's
romance, we must pause at the account
of a ball given to one of General
Washington's regiments at a time before
the rigor of war had quenched all thoughts
of merry-making. It was not her first
ball. She had mixed freely in society,
and had measured herself with the men
and women about her,—always an interesting
experience to the free, unprejudiced
and thoughtful girl.
"It was a joyous Scene enough," she
writes, "but I myself not quite in the
Humour for such Junketing. I had a
gloomy Fancy that Reason would not dismiss,
that in these Troublous Times there
were Things outside of the Ball room
Door, striving to enter, which having
done, they would have proved of singular
Inappositeness. None the less I danced
with those who solicited me in due Form,
and gave Heed to little else than the manner
of the Solicitation. Not that there
was Lack of Goodly Partners, but I was
mindful of nothing beyond the Observance
of the Courtesies of the Occasion.
The only Annoyance of which I was
sensible was the marked Attention of my
Cousin Eustace Fleming, who is but recently
come into this our Part of the
Country, and claimeth Relationship. He
is a most excellent Young Gentleman, but
one who is likely to weary me with his
over Appreciation of my own Qualities.
It is but a Sign of my Stubbornness and
Unregeneracy of Heart that, in that he is
most approved and commended of my
Parents, he wearieth me the more. I was
fain to tell him, when he asked me a third
Time to join the Dance, that there were
fairer Maidens in the Hall who would be
less loth to accord him the Favour, but as
this would but have drawn from him a
laboured compliment to my own Person, I
It was in the weariness of this very
encounter that, looking up, she saw approaching
her the hero of her adventure
in the coach, the impulsive youth whose
former foolishness had won for him the
semi-disapproval of our commentator. It
seems possible that the gloomy fancies of
shadowy things outside lightened a little,
and the war ceased to be a background
only for shapes of evil.
"It required not the space of a moment
for me to recognize him, though his Attire
had changed with the Circumstance, but
as my Father's Friend, Mr. Edwards, had
not deemed it of sufficient Importance to
mention our former Rencontre, it now
seemed to me useless to publicly recall
that Incident. Particularly as being now
duly presented to me in the Presence of
my Parents, and with due Vouchers of
his Credit, our Acquaintance could make
such Progress as we should mutually consider
Prudent Mistress Mary and delinquent
"After the Cotillion for which he had
asked the Honour of my Hand, he led me
to my Seat, but by a somewhat indirect
Route. Upon my remarking upon which,
he found Occasion to say that all Ways
were short to him now after traversing
the long and difficult one which he had
followed that he might gain Admission to
my Presence. I, laughing, said that my
Presence were hardly worth such effort in
Gaining, and that it was generally attained
with more Ease, and he, replying with a
Grace of Manner it were impossible not
to remark, said hastily that he was well
aware that he had found it easier to enter
than he should to again forsake it."
"And so on with such Vanities," says
the biographer, "as pass Current with
young Men and Maidens in their shortsighted
Enjoyment of the moment, and
with which Mary Twining was but too
fain to dally."
Yes, and so on, the old story. For
there follow the frequent meetings, known
and not unapproved of by the watchful
parents, the half confessions, the vague
wonderment, and at last the pledge given
and received, and Mary Twining became
the affianced wife of the handsome young
officer. All this we trace in her journal,
with satiric comments, now and then, of
the Editor; but it is all so familiar that we
will not dwell on it, pretty as it is. Only
one shadow seems to have fallen on the lovers,—that
of Mr. Eustace Fleming, the
worthy cousin, whose importunities in the
ball-room so tired the patience of Mistress
Mary. The parentally favored candidate
for Mary's hand, he finds it, evidently,
too hard to give it up without a struggle.
With a lack of that wisdom unfortunate
lovers find it so hard to supply, he disturbed
their interviews, forced himself on
Mary's society, yet with no insolence and
no self-betrayal that could lead to an outbreak.
He is apparently a self-contained,
and not a bad man, who finds it impossible
to see that he is beaten. Of this period
I make one or two extracts from Mary's
journal, and then go on to the end.
"If I once marvelled at the yielding of
those weak Women who find it easier to
relinquish the Happiness that they find in
the Love of Those bound to them by
mutual attraction, than to contest the
matter with all Dignity, Forbearance,
Firmness and Patience, how much the
more do I marvel now at their Shortsightedness!
Were he, whom I gladly
call my Betrothed, to be the Victim of
Oppression or of Malice, it would seem
to me but the throwing down of the
Glove—a challenge to Battle, rather
than a demand for Submission. Methinks
it were not as a Suppliant that I should
stoop to pick it up. But why talk of
fighting, who am a peaceful Maid, who
would labour, were it but Honourable
towards her dear Country, to remove the
Sound of Battle far from her Lover. For
indeed he is more ready to fight than am I
to have him. He would see an Opportunity
to strike a Blow in my Cause
where is none, so anxious is he to draw
his Sword in my Behalf. Indeed so excellent
an Opinion doth he entertain of
my Person and my Mind and my Conditions,
that he would not be long in finding
one who should most justly contest
the same. Heaven send that he may hold
to the Opinion and forget the Wish to
"It would seem that some men were
created but as a sort of Makeweight, who,
without active Hindrance, make it more
difficult to row one's Boat up the Stream
of Life. Of such kind is my Cousin
Eustace Fleming. His most mistaken
Admiration of me (for that in him is a
Mistake which in Another is but a most
fitting and a most reverenced Creed) serves
but to make a Let and Hindrance where
my satisfaction is concerned. I would
that he could more easily learn the Lesson
I have been at such Pains to mark out for
"It were vain," is the comment on the
last passage, "to expect a Recognition of
sober worth in the Day of Love and Ambition.
And Mistress Twining, after the
manner of her kind, pays but little Heed
to lasting Affection before the Time comes
when it shall be of Use to Her."
The wedding day approaches. Mary
Twining does not lose her independence,
though, woman like, she seems to enjoy
losing herself in the love lavished upon
her. Here and there are passages which
show that in the warmth of her romance
she thinks and judges and acts for herself,
as she did in her school days. Mary
Twining will never merge her individuality
in that of another, however dear to her.
The entries grow briefer and more infrequent,
as the month fixed upon for the
marriage draws near. It is to be in June,—two
years from that June when she rode
down by coach, in the care of her father's
"The day is fixed for the twenty-seventh
of June," is the last entry but
two in her journal. "Two years ago,
Fate gave my Life into his Hands. At
least, in giving it to him a second Time,
Fate and I are at one."
The next entry is a month later. It is
simply the statement,—
"May 24th. I have done my Cousin
Eustace wrong." Then on—
"July 27th. And I am but twenty-one!"
And June comes and goes, and there is
no word on her bridal day, no breathings
of her new happiness from her ready pen.
Is the book closed? Yes, but her biographer
has a word to say.
"On the twenty-seventh of June, Mary
A. Twining became the wife of her Cousin
Eustace Fleming. Their Betrothal was
but a short one, but in the eyes of her
judicious Parents, there was no unseemly
Haste. It had long been a cherished wish
of their Hearts, and Eustace Fleming was
a young man of Promise and of rare Discretion."
There it ends. The record of Mary
Twining is finished. With Mary Fleming
he has nothing to do. But where is the
girl of ripened understanding, of freedom
of thought, of directness of purpose?
We do not know, for our biographer does
not tell us. Was there a tragedy, and
were the details too heart-breaking for
even the stoical Editor to maintain his
Where is the gallant cavalier with his
picturesque devotion, and his vain toys of
pretty speech and gesture and his fiery
and over-weening love and admiration for
Mistress Mary Twining? He seemed to
me a brave and loyal sort of young fellow
enough. I cannot tell. Put the quaint
old book back on the shelf, and let her
romance rest again. But notwithstanding
her husband of such promise and rare
discretion, I cannot help sighing, "Poor
Fate and she had a difference, after all.
And she was but twenty-one!
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"I'll put them in the seat for you,
ladies, like this," said the conductor, smiling,
"and then you won't have any more
"Oh, yes, thank you," said Lucy
"What a nice conductor!" observed
"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
"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
"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
"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.
think then—we didn't
really think—we'd ever be talking about
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
"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
"It was fun!" said the other. "Do
you remember the husking party at the
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"I hope not. Let's look the other
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? 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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"I remember you like my cake," said
old Miss Pinsett, smiling; "take a bigger
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
"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
"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
"You were always coming in and
breaking up the singing, Tom Endover,"
The two women left the piano and
"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
"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
"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
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
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
"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.
The "Daily Morning Chronicle"
THE village lay still and silent under
the observant sun. The village
street stretched in one direction down the
hill to the two-miles-off railway station,
and in the other to the large white house
with pillared portico, from which there was
a fine view of the sunset, and beyond which
it still continued, purposeful but lonely,
until it came suddenly upon half a dozen
houses which turned out to be another
Not a man, woman, or child crossed
from one house to another; not a dog or
a cat wandered about in the sunshine.
The white houses looked as if no one
lived in them; the white church, with its
sloping approach, looked as if no one ever
preached in it and no one ever came to
it to listen. It seemed to Lucyet Stevens,
as she sat at the little window of the post-office,
behind which her official face
looked so much more important than it
ever did anywhere else, as if the village
street itself were listening for the arrival of
the noon mail. For it was nearly time for
the daily period of almost feverish activity.
By and by from the station would come
Truman Hanks with the leather bag which,
in village and city alike, is the outward and
visible sign of the fidelity of the government.
It is probable that he will bring it
up in a single carriage, for though sometimes
he takes the two-seated one, in
case there should be a human arrival who
would like to be driven up, this possibility
was so slight a one at this time of year
that it was hardly worth considering.
Then the village will awake; the two
little girls who live down below the saw-mill
will come up together, confiding
on the way a secret or two, for which the
past twenty-four hours would seem to have
afforded slender material. Then old John
Thomas will come limping across from his
small house back of the church, to see if
there is a letter for "her,"—she being
his wife, and in occasional communication
with their daughter in the city. Then
the good-looking, roughly clad young
farmer who takes care of the fine place
with the pillared portico on the hill will
saunter down to see if "the folks have
sent any word about coming up for the
summer." Then Miss Granger, who
lives almost next door, will throw a shawl
over her head and run in to see who has
letters and, incidentally, if she has any
herself; and then one or two wagons will
draw up in front of the little store, and
the men will come in for their daily
As Lucyet came around to the daily
papers she flushed and looked impatiently
out of the door down the street. Not
that the thought of the daily paper had not
been all the time in the background of her
mind, but having allowed her fancy to
wander towards the attitude of the village
and its prospective disturbance, she returned
to the imminence of the daily paper
again with a thrill of emotion. It was
not one of the metropolitan journals which,
as a body, the village subscribed for, nor
was it one of the more widely known of
those issued in smaller cities; it was an
unpretentious sheet, neither very ably
edited nor extensively circulated,—the
chief spokesman of the nearest county
town. But with all its limitations, its
readers represented to Lucyet the great
harsh, unknowing, and yet irresistibly
It was not the first time that she had
thus watched for it with mute excitement.
Such episodes, though infrequent, had
marked her otherwise uneventful existence
at irregular intervals for more than a year.
It would be more correct to say that they
had altered its entire course; that such
episodes had given to her life a double
character,—one side of calmness, secrecy,
indifference, and the other of delight,
absorption, thrilled with a breathless excitement
and uncertainty. But this time there
was a greater than ordinary interest. The
verses that she had sent last were more
ambitious in conception; they had description
in them, and mental analysis, and
several other things which very likely she
would not have called by their right names,
though she felt their presence: her other
contributions had belonged rather to the
poetry of comment. She was sure, almost
sure, that they had accepted these.
Unsophisticated Lucyet never dreamed
of enclosing postage for return, so she
could only breathlessly search the printed
page to discover whether her lines were
there or in the waste-basket. Friday's
edition of the "Daily Morning Chronicle"
was more or less given over to the feeble
claims of general literature. To-day was
Friday. Lucyet glanced through her little
window—the tastefully disposed corner
of which was dedicated to the postal service—at
the tin of animal crackers, the
jar of prunes, the suspended bacon, and
the box of Spanish licorice, and pondered,
half contemptuously, half pitifully, on what
had been her life before she had written
poems and sent them to the "Daily Morning
Chronicle." Then her outlook had
seemed scarcely wider than that of the
animal crackers with their counterfeit vitality;
now it seemed extended to the
horizon of all humanity.
There was the sound of horses' feet
coming over the hill. Was it the mail
wagon? No, it was a heavier vehicle;
and the voice of the farmer, slow and
lumbering as the animals it encouraged,
sounded down the village street. Over
the crest of the hill appeared the summit
of a load of hay going to the scales in
front of the tavern to be weighed. So
silent were the place and the hour, that
it was like a commotion when the cart
drew up, and the horses were unhitched
and weighed, and then the load driven
on, and the owner and the hotel-keeper
exchanged observations of a genial nature.
Finally the horses and the wagon
creaked along the hot street down the road
which led by the pillared white house, and
again the village was at peace. Lucyet
glanced at the clock. Was the mail going
to be late this morning? No. The creaking
of the hay wagon had but just lost
itself in the silence, when her quick ear
caught the rattle of the lighter carriage.
Her first impulse was to step to the door
and wait for it there, but she did not yield
to it; she would do just as usual, neither
more nor less. She would not for worlds
have Truman Hanks suspect any special
interest on her part. He might try to
find out its cause; and a hot blush enveloped
Lucyet as she contemplated the
possibility of his assigning it to the true
one. Only one person in all the village
knew that Lucyet Stevens wrote poetry.
"Most time for the mail to be gittin'
heavy," said Truman, as he handed over
the limp receptacle; "the summer boarders
'll be along now, before long."
"Yes, I s'pose they will," answered
Lucyet, her fingers trembling as they unlocked
"It's a backward season, though," he
went on, watching her.
"Yes, it is uncommon backward; the
apple blossoms aren't but just beginning
to come out."
It seemed to her that there was suspicion
in his observation. He leaned
lazily over the counter, while she took out
the mail within the little office with its
front of letter-boxes.
"This hot spell 'll bring 'em out. It's
the first hot spell we've had."
"Yes," she assented, blushing again,
She had spoken of the tardy apple
blossoms in her poem,—it was entitled
"Spring." Two or three people, having
seen the mail go by, dropped in and disposed
themselves in various attitudes to
wait for it to be distributed. She hurried
through the work, her fingers tingling to
open each copy of the newspaper as she
laid it in its place. At last it was done;
the little window which had been shut to
produce official seclusion was reopened;
and the people came up, one by one, without
much haste, and received the papers
and now and then a letter. It did not
take long; and afterward they stood about
and talked and traded a little, their papers
unopened in their hands. It was not
likely that the news from outside was
going to affect any one of them very
much; they could wait for it; and reading
matter was for careful attention at home,
not for skimming over in public places.
Lucyet found their indifference phenomenal;
they did not know what might be
waiting for them in the first column of
the third page. Was it waiting for them?
The suspense was almost overwhelming;
and yet she did not like to open the copy
which lay at her disposal until the store
was empty; she had a nervous feeling that
they would all know what she was looking
for. Slowly the group melted away, till
there was no one left except the proprietor,
who had gone into the back room to look
after some seed corn, and Silas, the young
farmer, who had thrown himself down into
a chair to read his paper at his leisure, and
was not noticing Lucyet. Eagerly she
opened the printed sheet. She caught her
breath in the joy of assurance. There it
was—"Spring." It stood out as if it
were printed all in capitals. After a furtive
look out at the quiet street, where, in
a rusty wagon, an old man was just picking
up his reins and preparing to jog away
from the post-office door, and a side glance
at Silas's broad back over by the farther
window, Lucyet read over her own lines.
How different they looked from the copy
in her own distinct, formal little handwriting!
They had gained something,—but
they had lost something too. They
seemed unabashed, almost declamatory, in
their sentiment. They had
and positive importance; it was as if the
assertions they made had all at once become
truths, had ceased to be tentative.
She read them over again. No, they did
not tell it all, all that she meant to say;
but they brought back the day, and she was
glad she had written them,—glad with an
agitated, inexpressible gladness. She would
like to know what people said of them; for
a moment it seemed to her that she would
not mind if they knew that she wrote them.
"Well," said Silas, laying down his
paper and standing up, "there isn't a
blamed thing in that paper!"
Lucyet looked up at him startled. Had
she heard aright? Then the color slowly
receded from her face and left it pale.
Silas was quite unconscious of having
made an unusual statement.
"Well, Lucyet," he went on, "going
to the Christian Endeavor to-night?"
"I don't know," she stammered.
"No," she added suddenly, "I am not."
All endeavor was a mockery to her stunned
"I dunno as I will either," he observed
carelessly as he lounged out.
It was nothing to her whether he went
or not, though once it might have been.
She sat still for some minutes after he had
gone, looking blankly at the paper. The
page which a few minutes ago had seemed
fairly to glow with interest had become
mere columns of print concerning trivial
things; for an instant she saw it with
Silas's eyes. John Thomas came limping
for his mail. He had been detained on
the way, he explained, and was late. She
handed him his paper through the window,
dully, indifferently. She was suffering a
measure of that disappointment which
comes with what we have grown to believe
attainment, and is so much more bitter
than that of failure. But the revolt against
this unnatural state of mind came before
long. The elasticity of her own enthusiasm
reasserted itself. It could not be
that there was nothing in her poem. She
read the lines over again. Two or three
were not quite what they ought to be,
somehow; but the rest of them the world
would lay hold of,—that big sympathetic
world which knew so much more than
When the hour came to close the office
at noon, she locked the drawer and passed
out of the door to the footpath with a
sense of triumph under the habitual shyness
of her manner. She still shrank from
the publicity she had achieved, but she
was conscious of an undercurrent of desire
that her achievement, since it was real,
should be recognized.
When the old postmaster died, leaving
Lucyet, his only child, alone in the world,
and interest in official quarters had procured
for her the appointment in her
father's place, a home had also been offered
her at Miss Flood's; and it was thither
that Lucyet now went for her noonday
meal. Miss Delia Flood was of most
kindly disposition and literary tastes.
That these tastes were somewhat prescribed
in their manifestation was no
witness against their genuineness. It
must be confessed that Miss Delia's
preference was for the sentimental,—though
she would have modestly shrunk
from hearing it thus baldly stated,—and,
naturally, for poetry above prose. The
modern respect for "strength" in literature
would have impressed her most painfully
had she known of it. The mind turns
aside from the contemplation of the effect
that a story or two of Kipling's would
have produced upon her could she have
grasped their vocabulary; she would
probably have taken to her bed in sheer
fright, as she did in a thunderstorm.
Poetry of the heart and emotions, which
never verged, even most distantly, upon
what her traditions and her susceptibilities
told her was the indecorous, satisfied her
highest demands, and the less said about
nature, except by way of an occasional
willow, or the sad, sweet scent of a
jasmine flower, the better. Miss Delia
had fostered Lucyet's love for literature;
and it was to Miss Delia that Lucyet
hastened with the great news of the publication
of her poem. It was for this acute
pleasure that she had hitherto kept the
knowledge of her attempt from her,—and,
too, that her joy might be full, and that
she would not have to suffer the alternating
phases of hope and fear through which
Lucyet herself had passed.
As she entered the room where dinner
stood on the table and Miss Delia waited
to eat it with her, she suppressed the
trembling excitement which threatened to
make itself visible in her manner now
that the words were upon her very lips.
They seated themselves at the table.
Miss Delia was small and wiry and grave,
and never spilled anything on the tablecloth
"Miss Delia," said Lucyet, "I've
written a poem."
Her companion looked at her and
smiled a shrewd little smile. "I've
guessed as much before now," she said.
"But," said Lucyet, laying down her
knife and fork, "it has been printed."
"Printed, child!" exclaimed Miss
Delia, almost dropping hers. At last
the cup of satisfaction was at Lucyet's
lips; at least she had not overestimated
the purport of the event to one human
"Printed," repeated Lucyet, smiling
softly. "Here it is in the paper."
Miss Delia pushed aside her plate,
seized the paper, and, opening it, searched
its columns. She had not to look long;
there was but one poem. Lucyet watched
with shining eyes. This is what it meant;
this was the realization of her dreams—to
see the reader pass over the rest of the
page as trivial, to be arrested with spellbound
interest at the word "Spring," to
know that the words that held that absorbed
attention were her words—her own.
As Miss Delia read, gradually her expression
changed; from eagerness it faded
into perplexity. Lucyet watched her
breathlessly, her hands clasped, her thin
arms and somewhat angular elbows resting
on the coarse tablecloth. From perplexity
Miss Delia's look was chilled into
what the observant girl recognized, with
a dull pain at her heart, as disappointment.
Lucyet averted her gaze to a dish
of ill-shaped boiled potatoes; there was no
need of watching longer the face opposite.
Miss Delia read it all through again,
dwelling on certain lines, which she indicated
by her forefinger, with special attention;
then she looked up timidly.
She met Lucyet's unsmiling eyes for a
moment; then she, too, looked away,
hurriedly, helplessly, to the dish of boiled
"I'm sure it is very nice—very nice
indeed, Lucyet," she said.
"But you don't like it," said Lucyet.
"Oh, yes, I do," poor Miss Delia hastened
to say. "I do like it; the rhymes
are in the right places, and all, and it looks
so nice in the
she pulled her plate back again, and Lucyet
did the same. "I'm proud of you,
Lucyet," she went on with a forced little
smile, "that you can write real poetry like
"But what if it isn't real poetry?"
The doubt was wrung from her by the
overwhelming bitterness of her disappointment.
A rush of tears was smarting behind
her rather inexpressive eyes; but she
held them back. Miss Delia was thoroughly
distressed. She put aside her own
"But it must be," she argued eagerly,
"or they wouldn't have printed it."
Lucyet shook her head as she forced
herself to eat a morsel of bread. How
unconvincing sounded the argument from
another's lips! and yet she knew now that
secretly it had carried with it more weight
than she had realized. Miss Delia glanced
apprehensively at the folded paper as it lay
on the table. She herself was disappointed,
deeply disappointed; she had expected
much, and this,—why, this was,
most of it, just what any one could find
out for herself. But she must say something
more. Lucyet's patient silence as
she went on with her dinner, never raising
the eyes which had so shone when she first
spoke, demanded speech from her more
urgently than louder claims.
"I suppose I thought perhaps there
would be more about—about misfortune,
and scattered leaves, and dells,"—poor
Miss Delia smiled deprecatingly, while she
felt wildly about for more tangible reminiscences
of her favorite poets, that she
might respond to the unuttered questioning
of Lucyet,—"and"—she dropped her
"I don't know anything about dells
and lovers," said Lucyet, simply; "how
Miss Delia started a little. It had never
occurred to her that one must know about
things personally in order to write poetry
about them. If it had, she would never
have dreamed of mentioning lovers.
"No, of course not," she said hastily;
"but writing about a thing isn't like
knowing about it."
Lucyet was not experienced enough to
detect any fallacy in this, and she dumbly
"You have in all the grass and trees
and—and such things as you have in—very
nicely, I'm sure," went on Miss
Delia; "only next time"—and she
smiled brightly—"next time you must
put in what we don't see every day—like
islands and reefs and such things. I know
you could write a beautiful poem about a
reef—a coral reef."
Lucyet tried to smile hopefully in return,
but the attempt was a failure. She
had finished her dinner, and she longed to
get away; she was so hurt that she must
be alone to see how it was to be borne.
She helped Miss Delia clear the table and
wash the dishes, almost in silence. Two
or three times they exchanged words on
indifferent subjects; Miss Delia asked who
had had letters, and Lucyet told her, but
it was hard work for both. When it was
over, Lucyet paused in the doorway, putting
on her straw hat to go back to the
Miss Delia stood a moment irresolute,
and then stepped to her side. "Lucyet,"
she said, her voice trembling, "I don't
understand it exactly. It isn't like the
poetry I've been used to. There are
things in it that I don't know what they
mean. To be sure, that's so with all
poetry that we do like,"—the tears were
in her eyes; it is not an easy thing to disappoint
one's best friend and to be conscious
of it,—"but it isn't like what I
thought it was going to be, just about
what we see out of the window. But it's
my fault, just as likely as not,"—she laid
her hand on Lucyet's arm,—"that's what
I want to say; you mustn't take it to heart—just
's likely 's not, it's my fault."
Miss Delia did not believe a word of
what she was saying, which made it difficult
for her to articulate; but she was making
a brave effort in her sensitive loyalty.
"I know," said Lucyet, gently; "but I
guess it isn't your fault;" and she slipped
out to the road on her way to the post-office.
Miss Delia went back, picked up
the paper, and, seating herself at the window,
she read "Spring" all through again,
word by word; then she laid it aside again,
shaking her head sadly.
Lucyet went quietly behind her little
window. Her disappointment amounted
to actual physical pain. She found no
comfort, as a wiser person might have
done, in certain of Miss Delia's expressions;
she only realized that her best
friend and her most generous critic could
find nothing good in what she had done.
Her duty this afternoon was only to make
up the mail for the down train; then her
time was her own till the next mail train
came up at half-past five. At two o'clock
she closed the office again and started on a
long walk. She longed for the comfort of
the solitary hillsides, where warm patches
of sunlight lay at the foot of ragged stone
walls, and there were long stretches of
plain and meadow to be looked over, and
rolling hills to comfort the soul. As she
climbed a hill just before the place where
a weedy untravelled road turned off from
the highway leading between closely
growing underbrush and stone walls,
where now and then a shy bird rustled
suddenly and invisibly among last year's
dried leaves, she saw three countrymen
standing by the wayside and talking
with as near an approach to earnestness
as ever visits the colloquies of
the ordinary unemotional New Englander.
One of them held a copy of the "Daily
Chronicle," gesturing with it somewhat
jerkily as he spoke.
For a moment the hope that it is hard
to make away with revived in Lucyet's
breast. Were they talking of the poem,
she wondered, with a certain weary interest.
She dreaded a fresh disappointment
so keenly that it pained her to speculate
much on the chance of it. It was not
impossible that they were saying such
meaningless stuff ought never to have
been printed. As the pale girl drew near
with the plodding, patient step which so
often proclaims that walking is not a
pleasure, but a necessity, of country life,
the men did not lower their voices, which
she heard distinctly as she passed.
"Wal, I tell you, 't was that," said one
of them. "He didn't live more'n a little
time after he took it."
"Mebbe he wouldn't have lived anyhow."
"Wal, mebbe he wouldn't. 'T ain't
for me to say," responded the first speaker,
evincing a certain piety, which, however,
was not to be construed as at variance with
his first statement.
"Wal, 't wa'n't this he took, was it?"
demanded the man with the "Chronicle,"
waving it wildly.
"Wal, no, 't wa'n't," responded the
other, reasonably. The third member of
the party maintained an air of not being in
a position to judge, and regarded Lucyet
stolidly as she approached.
"Do, Lucyet?" he observed, unnoticed
of the other two.
"I tell you this'll cure him. It'll cure
anybody. Just read them testimonies,"—and
he pressed the paper into the other's
meagre hand. "Read that one, 'Rheumatiz
of thirty years' standin',—it'll
Lucyet went on up the hill, and turned
into the weedy road. She had not a keen
sense of the ridiculous. It did not strike
her as funny that they should have been
discussing a patent medicine instead of the
verses on "Spring;" but her shrinking
sense of defeat was deepened, and she
felt, with an unconscious resentment, that
most people cared very little about poetry.
She wondered, without bitterness, and with
a saddened distrust of her own power, if
she could write an advertisement. Once
within the precincts of the tangled road,
her disquieted soul rejoiced in the freedom
from observation. She felt as bruised and
sore from the unsympathetic contact of her
world as if it had been a larger one; and
with the depression had come a startled
sense of the irrevocableness of what she
had done. Those printed words seemed
so swift, so tangible. They would go so
far, and afford such opportunity for the
grasp of indifference, of ridicule! If she
could only have them again, spoken, perhaps,
Yet here, at least, where the enterprising
grass grew in the rugged cart track,
and the branches drooped impertinently
before the face of the wayfarer, no one but
herself need know that she was very near to
tears. And as she came out of the shut-in
portion of the road to a stretch of open
country, where the warm light lay on the
hillsides, and the air was sweetened by the
breath of pines, her depression gave way to
a keen sense of elation. She turned aside
and, crossing a bit of elastic, dry grass,
climbed to the top of the stone wall and
looked about her. Her heart throbbed
with confidence, doubly grateful for the
previous distrust. Her own lines came
back to her; it was this that somehow,
imperfectly, but somehow, she had put into
words. It was still spring, a late New
England spring, though the unseasonable
warmth of the day made it seem summer.
The landscape bore the coloring of autumn
rather than that of the earlier year. The
trees were red and brown and yellow in
their incipient leafage. Now and then,
among the sere fields, there was a streak
of vivid green, or a mound of rich brown,
freshly turned earth; but for the most part
they were bare. Here and there was the
crimson of a new maple; in the distance
were the reds and brown of new, not old,
life. Only the birds sang as they never
sing in autumn, a burst of clear, joyous
anticipation—the trill of the meadowlark,
the "sweet, sweet, piercing sweet"
of the flashing oriole, the call of the catbird,
and the melody of the white-bosomed
thrush. And here and there a fountain of
white bloom showed itself amid the sombreness
of the fields, a pear or cherry tree
decked from head to foot in bridal white,
like a bit of fleecy cloud dropped from the
floating masses above to the discouraged
earth; along the wayside the white stars
of the anemone, the wasteful profusion of
the eyebright, and the sweet blue of the
violet; and in solemn little clusters, the
curled up fronds of the ferns, uttering a
protest against longer imprisonment—let
wind and sun look out! they would uncurl
to-morrow! All these things set
the barely blossomed branches, the barely
clothed hillsides, at defiance. It was the
beginning, not the end, the promise, not
the regret—it was life, not death. Summer
was afoot, not winter.
It was worth a longer walk, that half
hour on the hillside; for it restored, in a
measure, her sense of enjoyment, and substituted
for the burden of defeat the exultation
of expression, however faulty and
however limited. But like other moods,
this one was temporary; and as she retraced
her steps and turned into the village
street, she felt again the lassitude which
follows the extinction of hope and the
inexorable narrowing of the horizon which
she had fancied extended.
It was usual for her at this hour to stop
at the tavern for the mail which might be
ready there, and herself take it to the post-office.
In midsummer this mail was quite
an important item, but at this time of year
it amounted to little; nevertheless, she
followed what had become the custom.
She found one of the daughters of
the house in the throes of composition.
"Oh, Lucyet," she exclaimed, "you
don't say that's you! I want this to go
to-night the worst way. Ain't you early?"
"Yes, I guess I am," said Lucyet, rather
"If you'll set on the piazzer and wait,
I'll finish up in just a minute. You see
we had to get dinner for two gentlemen as
came down to go fishin' to-morrer, and it
sorter put me back. I wish you'd wait."
"Well, I guess I can wait a few minutes,"
said Lucyet, the line between her
personal and her official capacity being
sometimes a difficult one to maintain
rigidly. She seated herself on the piazza,
not observing that she was just outside of
the window of the room within which the
two fishermen were smoking and talking
in a desultory fashion. Later their voices
fell idly on her ear, speaking a language
she only half understood, blending with
the few lazy sounds of the afternoon.
The conversation was really extremely
desultory, being chiefly maintained by the
younger man of the two, who lounged on
the sofa of unoriental luxury with a thorough-going
perversion of the maker's plan,—his
head being where his feet ought to
have been and his feet hanging over the
portion originally intended for the back of
his head. The other man wore the frown
of absorption as, a pencil in his hand, he
worried through some pages of manuscript.
"Oh, I say," observed the idler, "ain't
you 'most through slaughtering the innocents?
I want to take that walk."
"I told you half an hour ago that if I
could have a few uninterrupted minutes
I'd be with you," answered the other
man, without looking up. "They haven't
fallen in my way yet."
"It's pity that moves me to speech,"
rejoined the first speaker, rising and sauntering
to the window,—not that one outside
of which Lucyet was sitting,—"pity
for those young souls throbbing with the
consciousness of power who may have
forgotten to enclose a stamp for return. I
feel when I interrupt you as if I were
holding back the remorseless wheel of
His companion allowed this speculative
remark to pass without reply. The idler
sauntered back to the table.
"What'll you bet, now, before you go
any further, that it'll go into the waste-basket?"
"Stamped and addressed envelope enclosed,"
observed the patient editor, absently.
"Well, what odds will you give me of
its being not necessarily devoid of literary
merit, but unfitted for the special uses of
The other was still silent as he laid
aside another page.
"Half the time," continued the idler,
"to look at you, you wouldn't believe
that you speak the truth when you express
your thanks for the pleasure of reading
their manuscripts. It would seem that
that, too, was simulated."
The older man picked up a soft felt hat
and threw it across the room at his companion,
without taking his eyes from the
"Oh, well," went on the other, "I
can read the newspaper. I can read what
is printed, while you're reading what ought
to be. Of course you and I know the
things are never the same."
Picking up the paper, he resumed, approximately,
his former attitude, and applied
himself to its columns for a few moments
of silence. Outside Lucyet sat quietly,
her head resting against the white wooden
wall of the house; and the editor made a
mark or two.
"Now this is what the public want to
know," resumed the idler, with a gratuitous
air of having been pressed for his
opinion. "You editors have a ridiculous
way of talking about the public—"
"It strikes me that it is not I who have
been making myself ridiculous talking
"The public! You just tell the great
innocent public that you are giving them
the sort of thing they like, and half the
time they believe you, and half the time
they don't. Now this man"—and he
tapped the "Chronicle"—"knows an
"Which is more than you do," interpolated
the goaded man.
"'The frame for William Brown's
new house is up. William may be trusted
to finish as well as he has begun,'" read
the idler, imperturbably. "'Miss Sophie
Brown is visiting friends in Albany. The
boys will be glad to see her back.' 'Fruit
of all kinds will be scarce, though berries
will be abundant.'"
The older man stood up, his pencil in
his mouth. "Confound you, Richards!
Either you keep still or I go to my room
and lock the door."
"Oh, I'll keep still," said Richards, as
if it was the first time it had been suggested.
Again there was a silence.
The letter must be to Ada's young
man, who was doing a good business in
cash registers, it took so long to write it.
It was within five minutes of the time
Lucyet should be at the office. She
moved to leave the piazza, when a not
loud exclamation from Richards fell on
her ear with unusual distinctness.
"By Jove! I say, just listen to this."
The editor looked up threateningly, and
went back to his work again without a
"No, but really—it's quite in your
Lucyet had moved forward a step or
two, when she stood motionless. The
words that floated through the window
were her own. Richards had an unusually
sweet voice, and he was reading in a
way entirely different from that in which
he had rattled off the "personals."
There seemed a new sweetness in every
syllable; the warmth of the hillside,
the perfume of opening apple blossoms,
breathed between the lines. He read
slowly, and the words fell on the still air
that seemed waiting breathless to hear
them. When he finished, Lucyet was
leaning against the side of the house, her
hand on her heart, her eyes shining,—and
the editor was looking at the
"There," he concluded, "ain't there
something of the 'blackbird's tune and
the beanflower's boon' in that?"
"Copied, of course?" inquired the
"No. 'Written for the Daily Chronicle,'
and signed 'L.' Not bad, are they?
Of course I don't know," Richards
scoffed, "and the public wouldn't know
if it read them, but you know—"
"Read 'em again."
A second time, with increased expression,
half mischievous now in its fervor,
the lines on Spring fell in musical tones
from Richards's lips. Still Lucyet stood
breathless, her whole being thrilled with
an impulse of exultant, inexpressible delight,
listening as she had never listened
before. It was as if she stood in the
midst of a shining mist.
"She's got it in her, hasn't she?"
Richards added, after a pause.
"Yes," said his companion, slowly.
"She's got it in her fast enough;" and
he returned to his page of manuscript.
"Much good may it do her!" he added,
with weary cynicism.
Richards laughed, and pulled a pack of
cards out of his pocket. "I'll play solitaire,"
"Thank Heaven!" murmured the
Ada arrived breathless. "Here 'tis,"
said she. "Did you think I was never
comin'? You've got time enough; they
ain't very prompt. There ain't anythin'
the matter, is there?" she asked.
Lucyet took the letter mechanically.
"No," she said, "there isn't anything
As she went swiftly toward the little
post-office the rhythm of those lines was
in her ears; the assured, incisive tones of
that man's voice pulsed through her very
soul. She was conscious of no hope for
the future; she had no regret for the past;
the present was a glory. In that moment
Lucyet had taken a long, dizzying draught
from the cup of success.
THE observation train wound its way
in clumsy writhings along the bank
of the river, upon which the afternoon light
fell in modified brilliancy as the west
kindled towards the sunset. But if the
sheen and sparkle of the earlier day had
passed into something more subdued and
less exhilarating, the difference was made
up in the shifting action and color that
moved and glowed and flashed on, above
and beside the soft clearness of the stream.
The sunlight caught the turn of the wet
oars and outlined the brown muscular
backs of the young athletes who were
pulling the narrow shells. The Yale blue
spread itself in blocks and patches along
the train, and the Harvard crimson burned
in vivid stretches by its side, and all the blue
and crimson seemed instinct with animation
as they floated, quivered, and waved in the
thrilled interest of hundreds of men and
women who followed with eager eyes the
knife-blades of boats cleaving the water in
a quick, silent ripple of foam. The crowd
of launches, tugs, yachts, and steamers
pushed up the river, keeping their distance
with difficulty, and from them as well as
from the banks sounded the fluctuating
yet unbroken cheers of encouragement
and exhortation, rising and falling in
rhythmic measure, guided by public-spirited
enthusiasts, or breaking out in purely individual
tribute to the grand chorus of partisanship.
It had been a close start, and
the furor of excitement had spent itself,
somewhat, during the first seconds, and
now made itself felt more like the quick
heart-beats of restrained emotion as the
issue seemed to grow less doubtful, though
reaching now and then climaxes of renewed
"Alas for advancing age!" sighed a
woman into the ear of her neighbor, as
their eyes followed the crews, but without
that fevered intensity which marked some
"By all means," he answered. "But
why, particularly, just now? I was beginning
to fancy myself young under the
stress of present circumstances."
"Because even if one continues to keep
one's emotions creditably—effervescent—one
loses early the single-minded glow of
"A single-minded glow is a thing that
should be retained, even at considerable
"And what is worse yet, one grows
critical about language," she continued
calmly, "and gives free rein to a naturally
unpleasant disposition under cover of a
refined and sensitive taste."
Ellis Arnold smiled tolerantly.
"They are pretty sure to keep their lead
now," he said. "The other boat is more
than a length behind, and losing. They
are not pulling badly, either," he added.
"You were saying?"—and he turned
towards her for the first time since the
She was a handsome blonde-haired
woman, perfectly dressed, with the seal of
distinction set upon features, figure, and
"That was what I was saying," she
replied, "that the ones that are behind are
not pulling badly."
"More sphinx-like than ever," he murmured.
"I perceive that you speak in
Miss Normaine laughed a little. The
conversation was decidedly intermittent.
They dropped it entirely at times, and then
took it up as if there had been no pause.
It was after a brief silence that she went
on: "But you and I can see both boats—the
success, and the disappointment too.
And we can't, for the life of us, help feeling
that it's hard on those who have put
forth all their strength for defeat."
"But it isn't so bad as if it were our
boat that was behind," he said sensibly.
"Oh, no; of course not. But I maintain
that it injures the fine fleur of enjoyment
to remember that there are two
participants in a contest."
"I suppose it is useless to expect you to
"Quite. I know enough to be entirely
sure I'd rather be picturesque."
"But let me assure you, that in desiring
that there should be but one participant
in a contest, you are striking at the
very root of all successful athletic exhibitions."
She shrugged her shoulders a little.
"Oh, well, if you like to air your powers
of irony at the expense of such painful
"The exuberance of my style has been
pruned down to literalness by the relentless
shears of a cold world. With you,
of course,"—but he was interrupted by
the shouts of the crowd, as the winning
boat neared the goal. The former
enthusiasm had been the soft breathings
of approval compared to this outbreak of
the victorious. Flags, hats, handkerchiefs
rose in the air, and the university cheer
echoed, re-echoed, and began again.
Arnold cheered also, with an energy
not to be deduced from his hitherto calm
exterior, standing up on the seat and
shouting with undivided attention; and
Miss Normaine waved her silk handkerchief
and laughed in response to the
bursts of youthful joy from the seat in
front of her.
"Oh, well," said Arnold, sitting down
again, "sport is sport for both sides,
whoever wins—or else it isn't sport at
"Ah, how many crimes have been committed
in thy name!" murmured Miss
"Katharine, I think you have turned
"No, it's age, I tell you. I'm thinking
more now of the accessories than I
am of the race. That's a sure sign of
age, to have time to notice the accessories."
"There's compensation in it, though.
If we lose a little of the drama of conflict
on these occasions, we gain something
in recognizing the style of presentation."
"Yes," and she glanced down at her
niece, whose pretty eyes were making
short work of the sunburned, broad-shouldered,
smooth-faced, handsome boy,
who was entirely willing to close the festivities
of Commencement week subjected
to the ravages of a grand, even if a hopeless,
From her she looked out upon the now
darkening river. There had been some
delay before the train could begin to move
back, and the summer twilight had fallen;
for the race had been at the last available
moment. Though it was far from quiet,
the relief from the tension of the previous
moments added to the placidity of the
scene. The opposite banks were dim and
shadowy, and the water was growing
vague; there were lights on some of the
craft; a star came out, and then another;
there were no hard suggestions, no sordid
reminders. It was a beautiful world, filled
with happy people, united in a common
healthy interest; the outlines of separation
were softened into ambiguity and the differences
veiled by good breeding.
"It is only a mimic struggle, after all,"
she said at last. "The stage is well set,
and now that the curtain is down, there is
no special bitterness at the way the play
"There you exaggerate, as usual," he
replied, "and of course in another direction
from that in which you exaggerated
"The pursuit of literature has made
you not only precise but didactic," she
"There is a good deal, if not of bitterness,
of very real disappointment, and
"Which will be all gone long before
the curtain goes up for the next performance."
"Ah, yes, to be sure; but nevertheless
you underrate the disappointments of
youth,—because they are not tragic you
think they are not bitter,—you have
always underrated them."
She met his eyes calmly, though he had
spoken with a certain emphasis.
"We are talking in a circle," she replied.
"That was what I said in the first
place—that as we grow older we have
more sympathy with defeat."
"You are incorrigible," he said, smiling;
"you will accept neither consolation
"Life brings enough of both," she answered;
"it does not need to be supplemented
by one's friends."
The train was moving very slowly;
people were laughing and talking gayly all
about them; more lights had come out on
the water, and a gentle breeze had suddenly
"Just what do you mean by that, I
wonder?" he said slowly.
"Not much," she answered lightly.
"But I do mean," she added, as he looked
away from her, "that, whether it be the
consequence of the altruism of the day,
or of advancing age, as I said at first, it
has grown to be provokingly difficult to
ignore those who lose more serious things
than a college championship. Verestchagin
and such people have spoiled history
for us. Who cares who won a great
battle now?—it is such a small thing to
our consciousness compared to the number
of people who were killed—and on one
side as well as the other."
"Except, of course, where there is a
great principle, not great possessions, at
"Yes," she assented, but somewhat
doubtfully, "yes, of course."
"But it shows a terrible dearth of interest
when we get down to principles."
"Yes," she said again, laughing.
Meanwhile Miss Normaine's niece was
pursuing her own ends with that directness
which, though lacking the evasive
subtlety of maturer years, is at once effective
"It was nothing but a box of chocolate
peppermints," she insisted. "I'd
never be so reckless as to wager anything
more without thinking it over. I have an
allowance, and I'm obliged to be careful
what I spend."
He looked her over with approval.
"You spend it well," he asserted.
"I have to," she returned, "or else
boys like you would never look at me
"I don't know about that." He spoke
as one who, though convinced, is not a
"It's fortunate that I do," she replied
decidedly. "I'm mortifyingly dependent
on my clothes. There's my Aunt Katharine
now,—she has an air in anything."
"I like you better than your aunt," he
"Of course you do. I've taken pains
to have you. But it was just as much as
ever that you looked at me twice last
"I was afraid of making you too conspicuous."
"A lot you were!" she retorted rudely.
"Who was that girl you danced with?"
He smiled wearily.
"Tommy Renwick's cousin from the
"She is pretty."
"Very good goods."
"Is she as nice as Tommy?"
"No. There are not many girls as
nearly right as Tommy."
"Well, perhaps, except you."
"But then, I'm not many."
"No, separate wrapper, only one in a
box," he admitted handsomely.
Miss Normaine's niece had dark eyes,
brown hair that curled in small inadvertent
rings, and a rich warm complexion through
which the crimson glowed in her round
cheeks. She was so pretty that she ought
to have been suppressed, and had a way
of speaking that made her charming all
"It was not chocolate peppermints, and
you know quite well it wasn't," he said,
with the finished boldness compatible with
hair parted exactly in the middle and a
wide experience. Miss Normaine's niece
opened her eyes wide.
"What was it?"
"Nothing but your heart."
She considered the matter seriously.
"Was it really?"
"It was really."
"And I've lost," she pondered aloud.
"And you've lost."
She raised her eyes with a glance in
which he could read perfect faith, glad
acknowledgment, and entire surrender.
"Do you want me to keep telling
you?" she demanded with adorable petulance.
"There is Henry Donald!" exclaimed
Miss Normaine. "I didn't see him before.
He has grown stout, hasn't he?"
"Yes, and bald."
"Isn't he young to be bald and stout
too? Do tell me that he is," urged Miss
Normaine with pathos. "He seems just
out of college to me, and I don't like to
think that I've lost all sense of proportion."
"Oh, no, you haven't," said Arnold,
consolingly. "It's only he that has lost
his. He doesn't take exercise enough.
He's coming this way to speak to you.
You had better think of something more
flattering to say."
"I never thought Harry Donald would
get stout and bald," went on Miss Normaine,
to herself. "There was a period
when I let my fancy play about him, most
of the time too, but I never thought of
"Who's that man squeezing through
the crowd to speak to Aunt Katharine?"
"That? Oh, that's one of the old
"I can see that for myself."
"He's a Judge Donald of Wisconsin.
He's pretty well on, but he's a Jim-dandy
after-dinner speaker. Made a smooth
speech at his class reunion."
"They still like to come to the race
and things, don't they?"
"Oh, yes, and they're right into it all
while they're here too."
Unhappily unconscious of the kindly
feeling being extended to him from the
bench in front, Judge Donald seated himself
by Katharine, just as they drew slowly
into the station.
"You haven't been on for some years,
have you?" she asked him.
"No," he answered, "I've been busy."
"Oh, we know you've been busy,"
she interpolated, smiling.
"You're the same Katharine Normaine,"
he rejoined. "I thought you
were, by the looks, and now I'm sure.
You don't really know that I've ever had
a case, but you make me feel that my
name echoes through two worlds at the
"And you are still Harry Donald, suspicious
of the gifts that are tossed into
your lap," and they both laughed.
"This is the man of the class," went
on Judge Donald, turning to Ellis, who
had taken a seat above them. "Your
books have gotten out to Wisconsin, and
that's fame enough for any man."
"Have they really?" said Arnold. "I
supposed they only wrote notices of them
in the papers."
"Oh, yes," murmured Miss Normaine.
"Ellis has turned out clever,—one never
"I guess they're good, too," went on
Donald; "I tell 'em I used to think you
wrote well in college."
"I thought I did, too," answered Arnold.
"I don't believe we're either of
us quite so sure I write well now."
They had delayed their steps to keep
out of the crowd, for the people were
leaving the train, some hurrying to catch
other trains, some stopping to greet friends
and acquaintances; there was a general
rushing to and fro, the clamor of well-bred
voices, the calling out of names in
surprised accost, the frou-frou of gowns
and the fragrance of flowers, in the bare
and untidy station.
At last the party of which Miss Normaine
was one left the car, and with the
two men she made her way down the platform,
through the midst of the hubbub,
which waxed more insistent every moment.
"It is with a somewhat fevered anxiety
that I am keeping my eye on Alice," she
"She is with a young man," said Judge
"That statement has not the merit of
affording information. She has been with
a young man ever since we left home."
"It isn't the same one, either," supplemented
"It never is the same one," said Miss
Normaine, somewhat impatiently. "I
am under no obligation to look after or
even differentiate the young men. I simply
have to see that the child doesn't get
lost with any one of them."
"She won't get lost with one," said
Arnold, reassuringly, as they were separated
by a cross-current of determined humanity.
"She has three now, and they
are all shaking hands at a terrible
Judge Donald departed on a tour of
investigation, and returned to say that
there was no chance just at present of
their getting away. It was a scene of
confusion which only patience and time
could elucidate. The omniscience of officials
had given place to a less satisfactory
if more human ignorance; last come was
first served, and a seat in a train seemed
by no means to insure transportation. It
was as well to wait for a while outside as
in; so with many others they strolled up
and down, until their car should be more
"Alice is an example of the profound
truths we have been enunciating, Ellis,"
said Miss Normaine. "She has an ardent
admirer on the defeated crew. At one
time I did not know but his devotion
might shake her lifelong allegiance to the
other university; but now that victory has
fairly perched, you observe she has small
thought for the bearers of captured banners.
We were saying, Mr. Arnold and
I," she explained to Donald, "that it is
at our time of life that people begin to
remember that when somebody beats,
there is somebody else beaten."
Donald grew grave,—as grave as a
man can be with the feathers of an unconscious
girl tickling one ear and a
fleeting chorus of the latest "catchy"
song penetrating the other.
"Arnold and I can appreciate it better
than you, I guess," he said, "because
there have been times when we thought
it highly probable we might get beaten
"Highly," assented Arnold.
"But you, Miss Normaine, you've
never had any difficulty in getting in on
the first floor," went on the other.
"You've quaffed the foam of the beaker
and eaten the peach from the sunniest side
of the wall right along—I'm quite sure
of it just to look at you."
"The Scripture moveth us in sundry
places," said Katharine, with a lightness
that did not entirely veil something serious,
"not to put too much faith in appearances.
Even I am not above learning a
lesson now and then."
He looked at her curiously.
"I'd like to know by what right you
haven't changed more," he said.
"Did you expect to find me in ruins,
after—let me see, how many years?"
she laughed. "The hand of Time is
heavy, but not necessarily obliterating.
What has become of Alice?"
"She can't have gone far," said Arnold.
"She was with us a moment ago."
"There she is with some of the rest of
your party—I caught a glimpse of her
just now," added Donald. "She's quite
Alice stood talking with a girl of her
own age and two or three undergraduates,
on the outskirts of the crowd. One of
the youths wore in his buttonhole the losing
color, but he bore himself with a
proud dignity that forbade casual condolences.
Alice's eyes were bright, and her
pretty laugh rippled forth with readily
communicated mirth, while the very roses
of her hat nodded with the spirit of unthinking
"There's the car that belongs to our
fellows," said, half to himself, the person
of sympathies alien to those of his present
companions. "They must be about—yes,
they're getting on," he added, as a
car which had been propelled from a
neighboring switch stopped at the farther
end of the station. Alice's head turned
with a swiftness of motion that set the
roses vibrating as if a sudden breeze had
ruffled their petals.
"The crew?" she asked.
"Yes," assented the young man.
She turned more definitely towards him,
away from the rest of the group, whose
attention was called in another direction.
"Will you do something for me, Mr.
"Why, of course."
Alice had not anticipated refusal, and
her directions were prompt and lucid.
"Please go into that car and ask Mr.
Herbert to come out to the platform, at
the other end, to speak to me. There
isn't much time to lose, so please be
As he lifted his hat and moved away,
she joined in the conversation of the
others, which seemed to be largely metaphorical.
"So he got it that time," one of the
young men was explaining, "where Katy
wore the beads."
"Well, it served him quite right," said
Alice, with the generosity of ignorance.
Her whole attention was apparently given
to the matter in hand, but she was standing
so that she could see the somewhat
vague vestibule of the brilliant but curtained
"Oh, yes, but it wasn't on the tintype
that the other fellow should have been
there at all."
"No, to be sure, but that made it all
the better," said Alice's friend, with sympathetic
"Why, there's Eugene Herbert!" exclaimed
Alice. "I really must go and
tell him that he pulled beautifully, if he
didn't win, and comforting things like
that! Don't go off without me."
Before comment could be framed upon
their lips, she had left her companions and
was slipping quickly down the platform.
"She knows him very well," said the
other girl; "she'll be back in a minute."
"She must have sharp eyes," said another
of the group, as he looked after her.
But too many people were about for fixed
attention to be bestowed upon a single
figure. There was but one light under
the roof of that part of the station where
a young man was standing, looking rather
sulkily up and down. Alice was a little
breathless with her rapid walk when she
"I thought Francis was giving me a
song and dance," he said, as he grasped
the hand she held out.
"No, I sent him," she explained hurriedly.
"And I wanted to say—" She
paused an instant as she looked up at him.
He was serious, and wore a look of
fatigue, in spite of the superb physical
health of his whole appearance. The
light fell across her face under the dark
brim of her hat, and touched its beauty
into something vividly apart from the
shadows and sordidness of the place, yet
paler than its sunlit brilliancy.
"I wanted to say," she went on bravely,
"that I've changed my mind. At least,
I didn't really have any mind at all. And
if you still want me to—" she paused
again, but something in his eyes reassured
her—"I will—I'd really like to, you
know, and please be quiet, there isn't but
a minute to say it in—and I'd never
have told you—at least not for years and
years—if you had won the race. Now
let go of my hand—there are hundreds of
people all about—and you can come and
see me to-morrow."
It was all over in a moment. She had
snatched her hand away, and was speeding
back with a clear-eyed look of conscious
rectitude, and he had responded to the
exhortations of divers occupants of the
car, backed by a disinterested brakeman,
and stepped aboard.
"Oh, well, there's another race next
year," he said to somebody who spoke to
him as he sat down in the end seat. It
was early for such optimism, and they
thought Herbert had a disgustingly cheerful
Alice returned just as Miss Normaine
and Arnold came up, and they all went
back together, collecting the rest of the
party as they went to their train. It was
a vivacious progress along the homeward
route. Pæans of victory and the flash of
Roman candles filled the air. At one
time, when some particular demonstration
was absorbing the attention of the men,
Miss Normaine found her niece at her side.
"Aunt Katharine, you know I've
always adored you," she said, with a repose
of manner that disguised a trifle of
"Yes, I know, Alice, but I really can't
promise to take you anywhere to-morrow.
"I don't want you to—I only want to
confide in you."
"Oh, dear, what have you been doing
"I think," replied Alice, while the chorus
of sound about them swelled almost
to sublimity, "that I've been getting engaged—to
Eugene Herbert, you know."
"Only to Eugene Herbert," breathed
Miss Normaine. "I'm glad it occurred
to you to mention it. But why didn't
you say so before?"
"It didn't—it wasn't—before," said
Alice, faltering an instant under the calmly
judicial eye of her aunt. "You see," she
went on quickly, "it was because they
lost the race. It wouldn't have been at
all—not anyway for a long time,"—and
again her mental glance swept the vista of
the years she had mentioned to Herbert
himself,—"if it hadn't been for that;
but I couldn't let him go back without
either the race or—or me," she concluded
Arnold had been talking with a man of
his own age, and hearing things that were
very pleasant to hear about his latest work,
and yet, as he leaned back in his chair
and looked across at Katharine Normaine,
whose own expression was a little pensive,
he sighed. It was a great deal—he told
himself it was nearly everything—to
have what he had now in the line of effort
which he loved and had chosen. It
was not so good as the work itself, of
course, but the recognition was grateful.
And as his eyes dwelt again upon the distinction
of Miss Normaine's profile, with
the knot of blonde hair at the back of her
well-held head, he sighed again, as he rose
and went over to her. She looked up at
him, and her eyes were not quite so calm
"I am sitting," she said, "among the
"Indeed?" he said. "Is there room
upon a fallen column or a broken plinth
"Oh, yes," she answered, "but it is
not for a successful man like you, whose
name is upon the public lips, to gaze with
me upon demolished theories."
"I have taken my time in gazing upon
them before now," he observed.
"Everybody is talking about your
book," she said.
"Oh, no, only a very few people. But
about your theories—which of them has
proved itself unable to bear the weight of
"You may remember I dwelt somewhat
at length upon the indifference of
happy youth to the stings of outrageous
fortune when supported by some one
"I remember. I regard it as the lesson
for the day."
"It's early to mention it, but I am
obliged to give you the evidence of my
error—honor demands it—and Alice will
not mind, even if she sees fit to contradict
it to-morrow;" and she told him what
had just been told her.
He smiled as she concluded her statement,
and she, meeting his glance in all
seriousness, broke down into a moment's
"'She does not know anything but that
her side is beating,'" he quoted meditatively.
"I thought my generosity in confession
might at least forestall sarcasm," she said
"It ought to do so," he admitted.
There was a moment's pause.
"Has youth itself changed with the
times, I wonder?" he speculated. "Certainly
you did not sympathize overmuch
with defeat at Alice's age."
She did not answer, and she was looking
away from him through the glass,
beyond which the darkness was pierced
now and then by a shaft of illumination.
The pensiveness that had rested on her
face, when he had looked across the
car at her, had deepened almost into
"And now," he went on, "you have
called me successful—which shuts me
out from your more mature sympathy."
Still she did not answer. He bent a
little nearer to her.
"Believe me, Katharine," he said,
"my success is not so very intoxicating
after all. I need sympathy of a certain
kind as much as I did twenty years
She glanced at him.
"Is that all you want?" she asked
with a swift smile.
"No," he returned boldly; and she
looked away again, out into the darkness
through which they were rushing.
"I had hoped," he went on, "that my
so-called success might be something to
offer you after all this time—something
you would care for—and now I find that
your ideals are all reversed. I have not
won much, but I have won a little, and
you tell me to-day that it is only extreme
youth that cares for the winners."
"And that I have found out that I was
mistaken." Her voice was low, but quite
clear. "Have I not told you that, too?"
"And about experience of life making
us care the more for those who fail in
everything?"—he waited a moment.
"You have not mentioned that that was a
mistake also. I wish you'd stop looking
out of that confounded window," he added
irritably, "and look at me. Heaven
knows I've failed in some things!"
She laughed a little at his tone, but she
did not follow his suggestion.
"Oh, no," she said, "you have succeeded."
"And that means—what?"
"I told you I was sitting among the
ruins of my theories," she said, while a
faint color, which he saw with sudden
pleasure, rose in her cheek.
"That adverse theory—has that gone
"I have had enough of theories," she
declared softly. "What I really care for
Her Neighbors' Landmark
THE sun had not quite disappeared behind
the horizon, though the days
no longer extended themselves into the
long, murmurous twilight of summer; instead,
the evening fell with a certain definiteness,
precursor of the still later year.
On the step of the door that led directly
into the living-room of his rambling
house sat Reuben Granger, an old man,
bent with laborious seasons, and not untouched
by rheumatism. The wrinkles
on his face were many and curiously intertwined;
his weather-beaten straw hat
seemed to supply any festal deficiency indicated
by the shirt-sleeves; and his dim
eyes blinked with shrewdness upon the
dusty road, along which, at intervals, a
belated wagon passed, clattering. His
days of usefulness were not over, but he
had reached the age when one is willing
to spend more time looking on. He had
always been tired at this hour of the day,
but it was only of late that fatigue had
had a certain numbing effect, which disinclined
him to think of the tasks of
tomorrow. He came to this period of
repose rather earlier nowadays, and after
less sturdy labor—somehow, a great deal
of the sturdy labor got itself done without
him; and there was an acquiescence in
even this dispensation perceptible in the
fall of his knotted hands and the tranquil
gaze of his faded eyes.
About a dozen yards beyond him, on
the doorstep leading directly into the living-room
of a house which joined the
other, midway between two windows (the
union marked by a third doorway unused
and boarded up, around whose stone was
the growth of decades), sat Stephen Granger.
His weather-beaten straw hat shaded
eyes dim also, but still keen; and a network
of curious wrinkles wandered over
his tanned and sun-dried skin. Upon his
features, too, dwelt that look of patient
tolerance that is not indifference, that
only the "wise years" can bring; and
on his face as well as his brother's certain
lines about the puckered mouth went far
to contradict it. If one saw only one of
the old men, there was nothing grim in
the spectacle—that of a weary farmer
looking out upon the highroad from the
shelter of his own doorway; but the sight
of them both together took on suddenly a
forbidding air, a suggestion of sullenness,
of dogged resolution; they were so precisely
alike, and they sat so near one another
on thresholds of the same long, low
building, and they seemed so unconscious
the one of the other. It was impossible
not to believe the unconsciousness wilful
and deliberate. A heavily freighted and
loose-jointed wagon rattled noisily but
slowly along the road.
"Howaryer?" called out one of its
"'Are yer?" returned Stephen Granger.
Reuben had opened his mouth to speak,
but closed it in silence, while he gazed
straight before him, unseeing, apparently,
and unheeding. The leisurely driver
checked his horse, which responded instantly
to the welcome indication. Behind
him in the wagon two calves looked
somewhat perplexedly forth, their mild
eyes, with but slightly accentuated curiosity,
surveying the Grangers and the
landscape from the durance of the cart.
"Been tradin'?" asked Stephen.
"Wal, yes, I have," answered the
other, with that lingering intonation that
seems to modify even the most unconditional
"Got a good bargain?"
"Many folks down to the store this
"Ain't any news?"
"Not any as I know on."
Stephen nodded his acceptance of this
state of things. The other nodded, too.
There was a pause.
"G'long," said the trader, as if he
would have said it before if he had thought
of it. But the horse had taken but a few
steps when another voice greeted him.
"Howaryer, Monroe?" said Reuben
"Whoa," said Monroe. "Howaryer?"
"Been down to the Centre?" asked
"Got some calves in there, I see."
"Wal, yes; been doin' some tradin'."
Reuben nodded. "Ain't any news, I
"None in partickler." Another exchange
of nods followed.
"G'long," said Monroe, after a short
silence, during which the calves looked
more bored than usual. But the shaky
wheels had made but a few revolutions before
the owner of the wagon reined in again.
"Say," he called back, twisting himself
around and resting his hand on the bar
that confined the calves. "They've took
down the shed back of the meetin'-house.
Said 'twas fallin' to pieces. Might 'a'
come down on the heads of the hosses.
Goin' to put up a new one." Then, as
his steed recommenced its modest substitute
for a trot, unseen of the Grangers he
permitted himself an undemonstrative
chuckle. "They can sorter divide that
piece of news between 'em," he said to
his companion, who had been the silent
auditor of the conversation. A moment
of indecision on the part of the Grangers
had given him time to make this observation,
but it was not concluded when
Reuben's cracked voice sang out cheerfully,
"Ye don't say!" A slight contraction
passed over Stephen's face.
Much as he would have liked to mark the
bit of information for his own, now that
it had been appropriated by another, he
gave no further sign. The noise of the
wagon died along the road, and still Reuben
and Stephen Granger sat gazing
straight before them at the hill which
faced them from the other side of the
way, at the foot of which the darkness
was falling fast. By and by a lamp was
lighted in one half of the house, and a
moment later there was a flash through
the window of the other, and slowly and
stiffly the two old men rose and went
inside, each closing his door behind
"Them's the Granger twins," had said
the owner of the calves in answer to his
companion's question as soon as they were
out of hearing. "Yes, they be sort of
odd. Don't have nothin' to say to one
another, and they've lived next door to
each other ever since they haven't lived
with each other. It's goin' on thirty
years since they've spoke. Yes, they do
look alike—I don't see no partickler difference
myself, and it would make it
kinder awk'ard if they expected folks to
know which one he's talkin' to. But
they don't. They're kinder sensible about
that. They're real sensible 'bout some
things," he added tolerantly. "Oh, they
was powerful fond of each other at first—twins,
y' know. They was always
together, and when each of 'em set up
housekeepin', nothin' would do for it but
they should jine their houses and live side
by side—they knew enough not to live
together, seein' as how, though they was
twins, their wives wasn't. So they took
and added on to the old homestead, and
each of 'em took an end. Wal, I dunno
how it began—no, it wasn't their wives—it
don't seem hardly human natur', but
it wasn't their wives." The speaker
sighed a little. He was commonly supposed
to have gained more experience than
felicity through matrimony. "I've heard
it said that it was hoss-reddish that begun
it. You see, they used to eat together,
and Stephen he used to like a little hoss-reddish
along with his victuals in the
spring, and Reuben, he said 't was a pizen
weed. But there! you can never tell;
they're both of 'em just as sot as—as
erysipelas; and when that's so, somethin'
or other is sure to come. I know for a
fact that Reuben always wanted a taste
of molasses in his beans, and Stephen
couldn't abide anythin' but vinegar. So,
bymeby, they took to havin' their meals
separate. You know it ain't in human
natur' to see other folks puttin' things
in their mouths that don't taste good to
yours, and keep still about it."
His companion admitted the truth of
"Sometimes I think," went on Monroe,
musingly, "that if they'd begun by eatin'
separate they might have got along, 'cause
it's only His saints that the Lord has
made pleasant-tempered enough to stand
bein' pestered with three meals a day,
unless they're busy enough not to have
time to think about anythin' but swallerin'.
Hayin'-time most men is kinder pleasant
'bout their food—so long 's it's ready.
Wal, however it was, after they eat separate
there was other things. There was
the weather. They always read the
weather signs different. And each of 'em
had that way of speakin' 'bout the weather
as if it was a little contrivance of his
own, and he was the only person who
could give a hint how 'twas run, or had
any natural means of findin' out if 'twas
hot, or cold, or middlin', 'less he took hold
and told 'em. It's a powerful tryin' sort
of way, and finally it come so that, if
Reuben said we was in for a wet spell,
Stephen 'd start right off and begin to
mow his medder grass, and if Stephen
'lowed there was a sharp thunder-shower
comin' up, inside of ten minutes, Reuben'd
go and git his waterin'-pot and water
every blamed thing he had in his garden.
I dunno when it was they stopped speakin',
but that was about all there was to it—little
things like that. They didn't
either of 'em have any children; sometimes
I've thought if they had, the kids
might sort of brought 'em together—they
couldn't have kep' 'em apart without they
moved away, and of course they wouldn't
either of 'em give in to the other enough
to move away from the old farm. Then
their wives died 'bout a year from each
other. They kep' kind o' friendly to the
last, but they couldn't stir their husbands
no more'n if they was safes—it seems,
sometimes, as if husbands and wives was
sort o' too near one another, when it
comes to movin', to git any kind of a
purchase. When Reuben's wife died,
folks said they'd have to git reconciled
now; and when Stephen's died, there
didn't seem anythin' else for 'em to do;
but folks didn't know 'em. Stephen went
up country where his wife come from and
brought home a little gal, that was her
niece, to keep house for him; and then
what did Reuben do but go down to Zoar,
where his wife come from, and git her
half-sister—both of 'em young, scart
little things, and no kin to one another—and
they can't do nothin' even if they
wanted to. Bad-tempered? Wal, no.
I wouldn't say the Granger twins was
bad-tempered;" and the biographer dexterously
removed a fly from his horse's patient
back. "They're sot, of course, but
they ain't what they used to be—I guess
it's been a sort of discipline to 'em—livin'
next door and never takin' no kind
of notice. They're pleasant folks to
have dealin's with, and I've had both of
'em ask me if I cal'lated it was goin' to
rain, when I've been goin' by—different
times, o' course—but it 'most knocked
the wind out of me when they done it,
'stead of givin' me p'inters. Yes, you
never can speak to 'em both at once,
'cause the other one never hears if ye do;
but there! it ain't much trouble to say a
thing over twice—most of us say it
more'n that 'fore we can git it 'tended to;
and," he added, as he leaned forward and
dropped the whip into its socket preparatory
to turning into his own yard, "most
of us hears it more'n once."
"Monroe," called a voice from the
porch, "did you bring them calves?"
"Yare," said Monroe.
"I told you if you stopped to bring
'em, you wouldn't be home till after
"I told you 't would be dark and you'd
be late to supper."
"Wal?" and Monroe took down the
end of the wagon, and persuaded out the
The person who was Monroe's companion
and the recipient of his confidences
was a young woman who was an inmate
of his house for the present month
Confident and somewhat audacious in
her conduct of life, Cynthia Gardner had
felt that this September existence lacked a
motive for energy before it brought her
into contact with the Granger twins.
"They are so interesting," she said to
Monroe, a day or two later.
"Wal, I guess they be," answered
Monroe, amiably. The quality of being
interesting did not assume to his vision
the proportions it presented to Cynthia
Gardner's, but he saw no reason to deny
its existence. Cynthia cast a backward
glance from the wagon as she spoke, and
saw Reuben slowly and stiffly gathering
up dry stalks in his garden, while Stephen
propped up the declining side of a water-butt
in his adjoining domain, one man's
back carefully turned to the other.
She walked back from the Centre, and
stopped to talk with the twins in a casual
manner. But no careful inadvertence
drew them, at this or any later time when
their social relations had become firmly
established, into a triangular conversation.
They greeted her with cordiality, responded
to her advances, talked to her with the
tolerant and humorous shrewdness that
lurked in their dim eyes, but it was always
one at a time. If, with disarming naïveté,
she appealed to Stephen, Reuben turned
into a graven image; and if she chaffed
with Reuben, Stephen became as one who
having eyes seeth not, and having ears
heareth not. But she persisted with a
zeal which, if not according to knowledge,
was the result of a firm belief in
the possibility of a final adjustment of
differences. She did not know, herself,
what led her into such earnestness,—a
caprice, or the lingering pathos of two
lonely, barren lives.
Monroe watched her proceedings with
tolerant kindliness. It was not his business
to discourage her. He knew what
it was to be discouraged, and he felt that
there was quite enough discouragement
going about in life without his adding
"I tell you they would like to be reconciled,
Mr. Monroe," said Cynthia.
"They don't know they would like it,
but they would."
"Wal, mebbe they would. They're
gittin' to be old men. And when you
git along as far as that, you don't, perhaps,
worry so much about bein' reconciled,
but neither does it seem as worth
while not to. There's a good deal that's
sort of instructive about gittin' old," he
"It's very lonely for them both, I
think;" and Cynthia's voice fell into the
ready accents of youthful pity.
"Their quarrel's been kinder comp'ny
for 'em," suggested Monroe.
"It's overstayed its time," asserted
"Mebbe," answered Monroe.
The crisis—for Cynthia had been looking
for a crisis—came, after all, unexpectedly.
She had been for the mail, and
as she drove the amenable horse over the
homeward road she strained her eyes to
read the last page of an unusually absorbing
letter, for it was again sundown, and
the Granger twins again sat in their doorways.
There was a decided chill in the
air, this late afternoon. The old men,
though they were sturdy still, had put on
their coats, and from behind them the
comfortable glow of two stove doors
promised a later hour of warmth and comfort.
Their aspect was more melancholy
than usual, whether it were that the bleakness
of winter seemed pressing close upon
the bleakness of lonely age, or that there
was an added weariness in the droop of
the thin shoulders and the fixed eyes—it
was certain that the picture had gained a
shadow of depression.
For once, Cynthia was not thinking of
them as she drew near. The reins were
loose in her hand, and as she bent to catch
the waning light, an open newspaper,
which she had laid carelessly on the seat
beside her, was lifted by a transient gust
of wind and tossed almost over her horse's
head. No horse, of whatever serenity,
can be thus treated without resentment.
He jerked the reins from her heedless
hands, made a sharp turn to avoid the
white, wavering, inconsequent thing at his
feet, a wheel caught in a neighboring
boulder, and Cynthia was spilled out just
in front of the Granger house and midway
between the twins. In a common impulse
of fright the two old men started to
their feet. For an instant they paused to
judge of the situation, but it was no time
for fine distinctions. The accident had,
to all appearances, happened as near one
as the other, and meanwhile a young and
pretty woman lay unsuccored upon the
ground. It became a point of honor to
yield nothing to an ignored companion.
As speedily as their years allowed, Stephen
and Reuben marched to the rescue. The
horse, meanwhile, had dragged the overturned
wagon but a few yards, and had
stopped of his own reasonable accord.
As Cynthia raised herself rather confusedly
and quite convinced that she was
killed, her first impression was that the
angels were older than she had fancied,
and looked very much like the Granger
twins. But in a few seconds her balance
of mind was restored, she realized that
while there was life there was hope, and
that for the first time in her experience
the eyes of Reuben and Stephen were
fixed solicitously upon a common object,
that each of them had stretched out to
her a helping hand, and that two voices
with precisely the same anxious intonation
"Be ye hurt?"
It was a solemn moment, but Cynthia
Gardner was of the stuff that recognizes
opportunity. She laid a hand upon each
rugged arm, and steadied herself between
them; she perceived that they trembled
under her touch, and she felt that the instant
in which they stood side by side was
"I declare, 'twas too bad," said Reuben.
"'Twas too bad," said Stephen.
"Is the horse all right?" asked Cynthia,
"Yes, Johnny Allen got him," said
"Johnny Allen came along," said Reuben,
as if Stephen had not spoken, "and
he's got him."
"I can walk," she said, with not unconscious
pathos, "if you will walk with
me, but I must go in and rest a moment;"
and the three moved slowly straight forward.
A few steps brought them to the point
at which they must turn aside to reach
either entrance. Before them rose the
old boarded-up, dismal doorway, weather-beaten,
stained, repellent as bitterness.
There was another fateful pause. Cynthia
felt the quiver that ran through the
frames of the old men as for the first time
in long years they stood side by side before
the doorway about which as children
they had played, and through which as
boys they had rushed together. In Cynthia's
drooping head plans were rapidly
forming themselves, but she had time to
be thankful that she did not know which
was Reuben and which was Stephen—it
saved her the anxiety of decision; instinctively
she turned to the right, a small
brown hand clutching impartially either
rough and shabby sleeve.
The man on her right swerved in an
impulse of desertion, but her grasp did
"Is the judgment of Solomon to be
pronounced!" she said to herself, half
hysterically, for her nerves were a little
"Oh, I hope I sha'n't faint!" she exclaimed
Beneath Reuben's rustic exterior beat
the American heart that cannot desert an
elegant female in distress. He followed
the inclination of the other two to Stephen's
door, and in another never-to-be-forgotten
moment he stepped inside his
Stephen's deceased wife's niece was so
overcome by the spectacle that she retained
barely enough presence of mind to
drag forward a wooden chair upon which
Cynthia sank in a condition evidently bordering
upon syncope. It was a critical
moment; she must not give the intruder
an opportunity to escape. She knew the
intruder by that impulse of desertion, and
she clung the tighter to his arm when she
murmured pitifully, "If you could get me
some water, Mr. Granger."
Stephen hastened towards the kitchen
pump—the sight of Reuben in his side
of the house, after thirty years, set old
chords vibrating with a suddenness that
threatened to snap some disused string,
and his perceptions were not as clear as
usual. He seized the dipper, filled it, and
looked about him.
"Where's the tumbler, Jenny?" he
"It's right there," answered the girl,
with the explicitness of agitation.
"Whar?" he demanded with asperity.
"Settin' on the side—right back of
the molasses jug."
"Molasses jug!" he exclaimed. "Nice
place for the molasses jug!"
"We was goin' to have baked beans
for supper," said the trembling Jenny,
feeling that it was best to be tentative
about even a trifling matter within the
area of this convulsion, "and you always
want it handy."
It was a simple statement, but it laid a
finger upon the past and upon the future.
Cynthia, through her half-closed eyes, saw
one old man with disturbed features, standing
with his hand upon her chair, while
another old man shuffled toward her with
a glass of water, which spilled a little in
his shaking hand as he came across the
humble kitchen. Most inadequate dramatic
elements, yet they held the tragedy
of nearly a lifetime, and the comedy,
though more evident, was cast by it in
the shade, and she neither laughed nor
Within a few moments more she was
on her homeward way, a trifling break in
the harness tied up with twine, and Johnny
Allen in the seat beside her as guard of
The next evening the people, driving
home from the Centre, were saved from
some active demonstration only by the
repression of the New England temperament.
Some of them even, after driving
past, invented an errand to drive back
again, so as to make sure. For the
Granger twins sat side by side in front of
the disused doorway, and their straw hats
were turned sociably towards one another,
now and then, as they exchanged a syllable
or two, and there was a mild luminousness
of pleasure in the recesses of
their pale-blue eyes. The evening darkened
fast into night. The plaintive
half-chirp, half-whistle of a tree-toad
fell in monotonous repetition upon the
"Hear them little fellers!" said Stephen,
ruminantly. "I reckon they think
it's goin' to rain."
"Yare," said Reuben. "And," he
went on, pushing back his straw hat and
looking up into the sky, "I wouldn't
wonder if they was right."
"Mostly are," said Stephen.