For Mayme, Read Mary, by Samuel Hopkins Adams
From A Bench in Our
Mayme Mccartney was a bad little good girl. She inspired (I trust)
esteem for her goodness. But it was for her hardy and happy impudence,
her bent for ingenious mischief, her broad and catholic disrespect for
law, conventions, proprieties and persons, and the glint of the devil in
her black eyes that we really loved her. Such is the perversity of human
nature in Our Square. I am told that it is much the same elsewhere.
She first came into public notice by giving (unsolicited) a most
scandalous and spirited imitation of old Madame Tallafferr, aforetime of
the Southern aristocracy, in the act of rebuking her landlord, the
insecticidal Boggs ("Boggs Kills Bugs" in his patent of nobility), for
eating peanuts on his own front steps. She then (earnestly solicited by
a growing audience) put on impromptu sketches of the Little Red Doctor
diagnosing internal complications in a doodle-bug; of MacLachan (drunk)
singing "The Cork Leg" and MacLachan (sober) repenting thereof; of
Bartholomew Storrs offering samples of his mortuary poesy to a bereaved
second-cousin; and, having decked out her chin in cotton-batten whiskers
(limb of Satan!), of myself proffering sage counsel and pious
admonitions to Our Square at large. Having concluded, she sat down on a
bench and coughed. And the Little Red Doctor, who, from the shelter of a
shrub had observed her presentation of his little idiosyncrasies, drew
nearer and looked at her hard. For he disliked the sound of that cough.
He suspected that his old friend and opponent, Death, with whom he
fought an interminable campaign, was mocking him from ambush. It wasn't
quite fair play, either, for the foe to use the particular weapon
indicated by the cough on a mere child. With her lustrous hair loose and
floating, and her small, eager, flushed face, she looked far short of
the mature and self-reliant seventeen which was the tally of her
"Hello," greeted the Little Red Doctor, speaking with the brusque
informality of one assured of his place as a local celebrity. "I don't
know you, do I?"
Mayme lifted her eyes. "If you don't," she drawled, "it ain't for lack
of tryin'. Is your hat glued on?"
"Good Lord!" exclaimed the Little Red Doctor indignantly. "Do you think
I'm trying to flirt with you? Why, you're only a kid."
"Get up to date," advised Mayme. "I'm old enough to be your steady.
Only, I'm too lucky."
"That's a bad cough you've got," said the Little Red Doctor hastily.
"I've got a better one at home. Like to hear it some day?"
"Bring it over to my office and let's look at the thing," suggested the
Little Red Doctor, smiling.
As Mayme McCartney observed that smile with the shrewd judgment of men
which comes early, in self-protection, to girls of her environment, the
suspicion and impudence died out of her face, which became wistful.
"D'you think it means anything?" she asked.
"Any cough means something. I couldn't tell without examination."
"How much?" inquired the cautious Mayme.
The Little Red Doctor is a willing liar in a good cause. "No charge for
first consultation. Come over to my office."
When the test was finished, the Little Red Doctor looked professionally
non-committal. "Live with your parents?" he asked.
"No. With my aunt. 'Round in the Avenue."
"Where do you work?"
"The Emporium," answered the girl, naming the great and still
fashionable downtown department store, half a mile to the westward.
"You ought to quit. As soon as possible."
"And spoil my delicate digestion?"
"Who said anything about your digestion?"
"I did. If I quit workin', I quit eatin'. And that's bad for me. I tried
"I see," said the Little Red Doctor, recognizing a condition by no means
unprecedented in local practice. "Couldn't you get a job in some
"Where, for instance?"
"Well, if you knew any one in California."
"How's the walkin'?" asked Mayme.
"It's long," replied the Little Red Doctor, "seeing" again. "Anyway,
you've got to have fresh air."
"They serve it fresh, every morning, right here in Our Square," Mayme
"Good idea. Get up early and fill your lungs full of it for an hour
every day." He gave some further instructions.
Mayme produced a dollar, and delicately placed it on the mantel.
"Take it away," said the Little Red Doctor. "Didn't I tell you—"
"Go-wan!" said Mayme. "Whadda you think you are; Bellevue Hospital? I
pay as I go, Doc."
The Little Red Doctor frowned austerely.
"What's the matter? Face hurt you?" asked the solicitous Mayme.
"People don't call me 'Doc,'" began the offended practitioner in
"Oh, that's because they ain't on to you," she assured him. "I wouldn't
call you 'Doc' myself if I didn't know you was a good sport back of
The Little Red Doctor grinned, looking first at Mayme and then at the
dollar. "You aren't such a bad sport yourself," he admitted. "Well,
we'll call this a deal. But if I see you in the Square and give you a
tip about yourself now and again, that doesn't count. That's on the
She considered it gravely. "All right," she agreed at length. "Between
pals, yes? Shake, Doc."
So began the quaint friendship between our hard-worked, bluff,
knightly-hearted practitioner, and the impish and lovable little
store-girl. Also another of the innumerable tilts between him and his
old friend, Death.
"He's got the jump on me, Dominie," complained the Little Red Doctor to
me. "But, at that, we're going to give him a fight. She's clear grit,
that youngster is. She's got a philosophy of life, too. I don't know
where she got it, or just what it is, but it's there. Oh, she's worth
"If I hadn't reason to think you safeguarded, my young friend," said I,
"I'd give you solemn warning."
"Why, she's an infant!" returned the Little Red Doctor scornfully. "A
poor, little, monkey-faced child. Besides—" He stopped and sighed.
"Yes; I know," I assented. There was at that time a "Besides" in the
Little Red Doctor's sorrowful heart which bulked too large to admit of
any rivalry. "Nevertheless," I added, "you needn't be so scornful about
the simian type in woman. It's a concentrated peril to mankind. I've
seen trouble caused in this world by kitten faces, by pure, classic
faces, by ox-eyed-Juno faces, by vivid blond faces, by dreamy, poetic
faces, by passionate Southern faces, but for real power of catastrophe,
for earthquake and eclipse, for red ruin and the breaking up of laws,
commend me to the humanized, feminized monkey face. I'll wager that when
Antony first set eyes on Cleopatra, he said, 'And which cocoa palm did
she fall out of?' Phryne was of the beautified baboon cast of features,
and as for Helen of Troy, the best authorities now lean to the belief
that the face that launched a thousand ships and fired the topless
towers of Ilium was a reversion to the arboreal. I tell you, man that is
born of woman cannot resist it. Give little Mayme three more years—"
"I wish to God I could," said the Little Red Doctor.
"Can't you?" I asked, startled. "Is it as bad as that?"
"It isn't much better. How's your insomnia, Dominie?"
"Insomnia," said I, "is a scientific quibble for unlaid memories. I take
mine out for the early morning air at times, if that's what you mean."
"It is. Keep an eye on the kid, and do what you can to prevent that busy
little mind of hers from brooding."
In that way Mayme McCartney and I became early morning friends. She
adopted for her special own a bench some rods from mine under the lilac
near the fountain. After her walk, taken with her thin shoulders flung
back and the chest filling with deep, slow breaths, she would pay me a
call or await one from me and we would exchange theories and opinions
and argue about this and other worlds. Seventy against seventeen. Fair
exchange, for, if mine were the riper creed, hers was the more vivid and
adventurous. Who shall say which was the sounder?
On the morning of the astonishing Trespass, I was late, being
discouraged by a light rain. As she approached her bench, she found it
occupied by an individual who appeared to be playing a contributory part
in the general lamentation of nature. The interloper was young and quite
exquisite of raiment, which alone would have marked him for an
outlander. His elbows were propped on his knees, his fists supported his
cheekbones, his whole figure was in a slump of misery. Scrutinizing him
with surprise, Mayme was shocked to see a glistening drop, detached from
his drooping countenance, fall to the pavement, followed by another. At
the same time she heard an unmistakable and melancholic sound.
The benches in Our Square have seen more life than most. They have
cradled weariness of body and spirit; they have assuaged grief and given
refuge to shaking terror, and been visited by Death. They have shivered
to the passion of cursing men and weeping women. But never before had
any of their ilk heard grown young manhood blubber. Neither had Mayme
McCartney. It inspired her with mingled emotions, the most immediate of
which was a desire to laugh.
Accordingly she laughed. The intruder lifted a woeful face, gave her one
vague look, and reverted to his former posture. Mayme stopped laughing.
She advanced and put a friendly hand on one of the humped shoulders.
"Cheer up, Buddy," she said. "It ain't as bad as you think it is."
"It's worse," gulped a choky voice. Then the head lifted again. "Who are
you?" it demanded.
"I'm your big sister," said Mayme reassuringly. "Tell a feller about
The response was neither polite nor explanatory. "D—-n sisters!" said
"Oh, tutt-tutt and naughty-naughty!" rebuked Mayme. "Somebody's sister
been puttin' somethin' over on poor little Willy?"
"My own sister has." He was in that state of semi-hysterical exhaustion
in which revelation of one's intimate troubles to the first comer seems
natural. "She's gone and got arrested," he wailed.
Mayme's face became grave and practical.
"That's different," said she. "What's her lay?"
"Lay? I don't know—"
"What's her line? What's she done to get pinched?"
"Shoplifting. At the special night sale of the Emporium."
"You're tellin' me! In the silks, huh?"
"What do you know about it? My God! Is it in the papers already?"
"Keep your hair on, Buddy. I work there, and I heard about that pinch.
Swell young married lady. Say," she added, after a thoughtful pause:
"has she got somethin' comin'?"
"Something coming? How? What?"
"Don't be dumb. A kid."
He stared. She was looking at him with unabashed frankness. Those who
live in the close, rough intimacy of the slums do not cherish false
shame about the major facts of life.
"Suppose she has?" queried the youth sulkily.
"Why, that'll be all right, you poor boob," returned the kindly Mayme.
"The judge'll let her off with a warning."
"How do you know?"
"They always do. Those cases are common. Dolan ought to be canned for
makin' a pinch of a lady in the fam'ly way."
"What if they do let her off?" lamented the youth. "It'll be in all the
papers and I'll be ruined. My life's spoiled. I might as well leave
"Ah, don't do a mean trick like that to the old town!" besought the
sardonic Mayme. "Where do you come in to get hurt?"
He burst into the hectic grievances of the pampered and spoiled child.
His family was just getting a foothold in Society (with an almost holy
emphasis on the word) and now they were disgraced. All was up. Their
new, precariously held acquaintances would drop them. In his petulant
grief he did an amazing thing; he produced a bunch of clippings from the
local society columns, setting forth, in the printed company of the
Shining Ones, the doings (mostly charitable) of Mrs. Samuel Berthelin,
her daughter, Mrs. Harris, and her son, David, referred to glowingly as
"the scion of the wealth and position of the late lamented financier."
Mayme was impressed. Like most shop-girls she was a fervent reader of
society news. (If shop-girls did not read this fine flower of American
democracy, nobody would, except those who wait eagerly and anxiously for
their names to appear.) She perceived—not knowing that the advertising
leverage of the Berthelin Loan Agency had forced those insecure portals
of print for the entry of Mrs. Berthelin and her progeny—that she was
in the presence of the Great. Capacity for awe was not in Mayme's
independent soul. But she was interested and sympathetic. Here was a
career worth saving!
"Let's go over to the station-house," said she. "I know some of the
To the white building with the green lanterns they went. The shoplifting
case, it appeared, had already been bailed out. Furthermore, everything
would be all right and there was little fear of publicity; the store
itself would see to that. Vastly relieved and refreshed in spirit, David
Berthelin began to take stock of his companion with growing interest.
She was decidedly not pretty. Just as decidedly she was quaint and
piquant and quite new to his jejune but also somewhat bored experience.
From the opening passage of their first conversation he deduced, lacking
the insight to discriminate between honest frankness and immodesty, that
she was a "fly kid." On that theory he invited her to breakfast with
him. Mayme accepted. They went to Thomson's Élite Restaurant, on the
corner, where David roused mingled awe and misgivings in the breast of
Polyglot Elsa, the cashier, by ordering champagne, and Mayme reassured
her by declining it.
Thus began an acquaintanceship which swiftly ripened into a queer sort
of intimacy, more than a little disturbing to us of Our Square who were
interested in Mayme. Young Berthelin's over-ornate roadster lingered in
our quiet precincts more often than appeared to us suitable or safe, and
black-eyed Mayme, looking demure and a little exalted, was whirled away
to unknown worlds, always returning, however, at respectable hours. When
the Little Red Doctor remonstrated with her ostensibly on the score of
her health, she reminded him in one breath that he hadn't been invited
to censor her behavior which was entirely her own affair, and in the
next—with his hand caught between hers and her voice low and
caressing—declared that he was the best little old Doc in the world and
there was nothing to worry about, either as to health or conduct.
Indeed, her condition seemed to be improving. I dare say young Mr.
Berthelin's expensive food was one of the things she needed.
Furthermore, she ceased to be the raggle-taggle, hoydenishly clad Mayme
of the cash department, and, having been promoted to saleswoman, quite
went in for dress. On this point she sought the advice of the Bonnie
Lassie. The result went far to justify my prophecy that Mayme's queer
little face might yet make its share of trouble in an impressionable
world. But the Bonnie Lassie shook her bonnie head privately and said
that the fine-feathers development was a bad sign, and that if young
Berthelin would obligingly run his seventeen-jeweled roadster off the
Williamsburgh Bridge, with himself in it, much trouble might be saved
for all concerned.
If little Mayme were headed for trouble, she went to meet it with a
smiling face. Never had she seemed so joyous, so filled with the desire
of life. This much was to be counted on the credit side, the Little Red
Doctor said. On the debit side—well, to me was deputed the unwelcome
task of conveying the solemn, and, as it were, official protest and
warning of Our Square. Of course I did it at the worst possible moment.
It was early one morning, when Mayme, on her bench, was looking a little
hollow-eyed and disillusioned. I essayed the light and jocular approach
to the subject:
"Well, Mayme; how is the ardent swain?"
She turned to me with the old flash in her big, shadowed eyes: "Did you
say swain or swine, Dominie?"
"Ah!" said I. "Has he changed his rôle?"
"He's given himself away, if that's what you mean."
"I thought that would come."
"He—he wanted me to take a trip to Boston with him."
I considered this bit of information, which was not as surprising or
unexpected as Mayme appeared to deem it. "Have you told the Little
"Doc'd kill him," said Mayme simply.
"What better reason for telling?"
"Oh, the poor kid: he don't know any better."
"Doesn't he? In any case I trust that you know better, after this, than
to have anything more to do with him."
"Yep. I've cut him out," replied Mayme listlessly. "I figured you and
Doc were right, Dominie. It's no good, his kind of game. Not for girls
like me." She looked up at me with limpid eyes, in which there was
courage and determination and suffering.
"My dear," I murmured, "I hope it isn't going to be too hard."
"He's so pretty," said Mayme McCartney wistfully.
So he was, now that I came to think of it. With his clear, dark color,
his wavy hair, his languishing brown eyes, his almost girlishly graceful
figure, and his beautiful clothes, he was pretty enough to fascinate any
inexperienced imagination. But I cannot say that he looked pretty when,
a few days later, he invaded Our Square in search of a Mayme who had
vanished beyond his ken (she had kept her tenement domicile a secret
from him), and, addressing me as "you white-whiskered old goat," accused
me of having come between him and the girl upon whom he had deigned to
bestow his lordly favor. Unfortunately for him, the Little Red Doctor
chanced along just then and inquired, none too deferentially, what the
Scion of Wealth and Position was doing in that quarter.
"What business is it of yours, Red-Head?" countered the offended
He then listened with distaste, but perforce (for what else could he do
in the grasp of a man of twice his power?), to a brilliant and
convincing summary of his character, terminating in a withering sketch
of his personal and sartorial appearance.
"I didn't mean the kid any harm," argued the Scion suavely. "I—I came
back to apologize."
"Let me catch you snooping around here again and I'll break every bone
in your body," the Little Red Doctor answered him.
"I guess this Square's free to everybody. I guess you don't own it,"
said the youth, retreating to his car.
Notwithstanding the unimpeachable exactitude of this surmise, he was
seen no more in that locality. Judge, then, of our dismay, locally, at
learning, not a fortnight later, from a fellow employee of Mayme's, that
she had been met at closing time by a swell young guy in a
cherry-colored rattler, who took her away to dine with him. Catechized
upon the point, later on, by a self-appointed committee of two
consisting of the Little Red Doctor and myself, Mayme said vaguely that
it was all right; we didn't understand. This is, I believe, the usual
formula. The last half of it at least, was true.
About that time we, in common with the rest of the Nation, took that
upon our minds which was even more important than Mayme McCartney's love
affair. War loomed imminently before us. It was only a question of the
fitting time to strike; and Our Square was feverishly reckoning up its
military capacity. The great day of the declaration came. The Nation had
drawn the sword. In the week following, Our Square was invaded.
She descended upon us from the somber sumptuousness of a gigantic
limousine, the majestic, the imposing, the formidable, the authoritative
Mrs. S. Berthelin. We knew at once who she was, because she led, by the
ear, as it were, her hopeful progeny, young David. I do not mean that
she had an actual auricular grip on him, but the effect upon his
woe-begone and brow-beaten person was the same. He suggested vividly a
spoiled and pretty lapdog being sternly conveyed to a detested bath. She
suggested a vivified bouquet of artificial flowers. We hastily rallied
our forces to meet her; the Little Red Doctor, the Bonnie Lassie, and
myself. Mrs. Berthelin opened her exordium in a tone of high philippic,
not even awaiting the formalities of introduction. But when I insisted
upon these, and she learned that the Bonnie Lassie was Mrs. Cyrus
Staten, she cringed. Despite a desire to keep out of the society columns
quite as genuine as that of Mrs. Berthelin's to get in, the Cyrus
Statens frequently figure among the Shining Ones, a fact almost
painfully appreciated by our visitor. After that it was easy to get her
into the Bonnie Lassie's house, where her eloquence could not draw a
crowd. To get young David there was not quite so easy. He made one
well-timed and almost successful effort to bolt, and even evinced signs
of balking on the steps.
His punishment was awaiting him. No sooner were we all settled in the
Bonnie Lassie's studio than the mother proceeded to regale us with a
history and forecast of his career, beginning with his precocious infant
lispings and terminating with his projected, though wholly indefinite,
marriage into the Highest Social Circles. To do David justice,
"Have you got him a job as a general in the army yet, ma'am?" inquired
the Little Red Doctor suavely.
It was quite lost upon Mrs. Berthelin. She informed us that a commission
as Captain in the Quartermaster's Department was arranged for, and she
expected to have the young officer assigned to New York so that he could
live at home in the comfort and luxury suitable to his wealth and
condition. And what she wanted us to understand clearly was that no
designing little gutter-snipe was to be allowed to compromise David's
future. She concluded with an imaginative and most unflattering estimate
of Mayme McCartney's character, manners, and morals, in the midst of
which I heard a gasp.
It came from Mayme, standing, wide-eyed and white, in the doorway. The
front door had been left ajar, and, seeing the Berthelins' monogrammed
car outside, she had come in. The oratress turned and stared.
"That's a lie," said Mayme McCartney steadily. "I'm as straight a girl
as your own daughter. Ask him."
She pointed to the stricken David. Pointing may not be ladylike, but it
can be extremely effective. David's head dropped into his hands.
"Oh, Ma!" he groaned.
"Don't call me 'Ma,'" snapped the goaded Mrs. Berthelin. "And this is
the girl?" She looked Mayme up and down. Mayme did the same by her and
did it better.
"I could give you a lorny-yette and beat you at the frozen-stare trick,"
said the irrepressible Mayme at the conclusion of the duel which ended
in her favor.
The Little Red Doctor gurgled. I saw the Bonnie Lassie's eyelids quiver,
but her face was cold and impassive as she turned to the visitor.
"Mrs. Berthelin," said she, "you have made some very damaging
statements, before witnesses, about Miss McCartney's character. What
proof have you?"
"Why, he wants to marry her!" almost yelled the mother. "She's trapped
"That's another lie," said Mayme.
"He told me himself that he was going to marry you."
"Did he? Then he's wrong. I wouldn't marry him with a brass ring,"
"You wouldn't mar—You wouldn't what?" demanded the mother, outraged
"You heard me. He knows it, too. I don't like the family—what I've seen
of them," observed Mayme judicially. "Besides, he's yellow."
David's shamed face emerged into view. "I'm not," he gulped. "She—she
"Captain!" said Mayme with a searing scorn in her voice.
"Quartermaster's Department! Safety first! When half the little
fifteen-per tape-snippers in the Emporium are breakin' their
fourteen-inch necks volunteerin' early and often to get where the
David Berthelin stood on his feet, and his pretty face wore an ugly
"Let me out of here," he growled.
"David!" said his mother. "Where are you going?"
"Davey!" It was a shriek. "You shan't."
"I won't let you."
"You can go to—"
"Buddy!" Mayme's voice, magically softened, broke in. "Cut out the rough
stuff. You better go home and think it over. Bein' a private is no
"I'd rather see a son of mine dead than a common soldier!" cried Mrs.
The Bonnie Lassie, very white, rose. "You must leave this house," she
said. "At once. Think yourself fortunate that I cannot bring myself to
betray a guest. Otherwise I should report you to the authorities."
Young David addressed Mayme in the words and tone of a misunderstood and
aggrieved pet. "You think I'm no good. I'll show you, Mayme. Wait till I
come back—if I ever do come back—and you'll be sorry."
"Hero stuff," commented the Little Red Doctor. "It'll all have oozed out
of his fingertips this time to-morrow."
"Will you show me a place to enlist?" challenged the boy. "And," he
added with a malicious grin, "will you enlist with me?"
"Sure!" said the Little Red Doctor. "I'll show you. But they won't take
me." He bestowed a bitter glance on his twisted foot. "Come along."
They went off together, while Mrs. Berthelin scandalized Our Square by
an exhibition of hysterics involving language not at all in accord with
the rich respectability of her apparel and her limousine.
We waited at the Bonnie Lassie's for the Little Red Doctor's return. He
came back alone. I thought that I detected a pathetic little gleam of
disappointment in Mayme's deep eyes.
"He's done it," said the Little Red Doctor. And I was sorry for him, so
much was there of tragic envy in his face.
"Did you give him your blessing?" I asked.
"I did. He shook hands like a man. There's maybe something in that boy,
if it weren't for the old hell-cat of a mother. However, she won't have
much chance. He's off to-morrow."
"Will he write?" said Mayme in a curious, strained voice.
"He will. He'll report to me from time to time."
"Didn't he—wasn't there any message?"
"Just good-bye and good luck," answered the Little Red Doctor, censoring
The Bonnie Lassie went over and put her arms around Mayme McCartney.
"My dear," she said softly. "It wouldn't do. It really wouldn't. He
isn't worth it. You're going to forget him."
"All right." Suddenly Mayme looked like a very helpless and sorrowful
little girl. "Only, it—it isn't goin' to be as easy as you think. He
was so pretty," said Mayme McCartney wistfully.
Summer was smiting Our Square with white-hot bolts of sun-fire, from
which one could scarcely find refuge beneath the scraggly shelter of
parched shrubbery, when one morning the Bonnie Lassie approached my
bench with a fell and purposeful smile.
"Dominie, you're a dear old thing," she began in her most insinuating
"I won't do it," I said determinedly, foreboding something serious.
The Bonnie Lassie raised her eyebrows at me, affecting aggrieved
innocence. "Won't do what?" she inquired.
"Whatever it is that you're trying to wheedle me into."
The eyebrows resumed their normal arch, and a dimple flickered in the
corner of the soft lips. By this I knew that the case was hopeless. "Oh,
but you've already done it," she said.
"Help! Tell me the worst and get it over with."
"It must be lovely to be rich," said the Bonnie Lassie meditatively.
"And so generous!"
"How much is it? What do you want it for? I haven't got that much," I
"And to keep it an absolute secret from everybody. Even from Mayme
"Go on. Don't mind me," I murmured.
"The Little Red Doctor has found the place. It's in New Mexico. And in
the fall she's going on to the Coast. He's almost willing to guarantee
that a year of it will make her as strong as ever. And the hundred
dollars a month you allow her besides her traveling expenses will be
plenty. You are a good old thing, Dominie!"
"What you mean is that I'm an old good-thing. How shall I look," I
demanded bitterly, "when Mayme comes to thank me?"
"No foolisher than you do now, trying to raise unreasonable objections
to our perfectly good plans," retorted the Bonnie Lassie. "Besides, she
won't. She knows that your way is to do good by stealth and blush to
find it fame, and she's under pledge to pretend to know nothing
"Where did the Little Red Doctor raise it?" I queried.
"There are times, Dominie, when your mind has real penetrative power.
Think it over."
"The Weeping Scion of Wealth and Position!" I cried. "Did our medical
friend blackmail him?"
"Not necessarily. He only dropped a hint that Mayme's chance here was
rather poorer than a soldier's going to war, unless something could be
done and the Weeping Scion fairly begged to be allowed to do it. 'Do you
think she'd take it from you?' said the Little Red Doctor, 'after what
your mother called her?' 'Don't let her know,' says our ornamental young
weeper. 'Tell her somebody else is doing it. Tell her it's from that
white-whiskered old—from the elderly and handsome gentleman with the
"Yes: I know," I broke in. "Very good. I'm the goat. Lying, hypocrisy,
false pretense, fake charity; it's all one to a sin-seared old reprobate
like me. After it's over I'll go around the corner and steal what
pennies I can find in Blind Simon's cup, just to make me feel
comparatively respectable and decent again."
It was no easier than I expected it to be, especially when little Mayme,
having come to say good-bye, put her lips close to my ear and tried to
whisper something, and cried and kissed me instead.
Our Square was a dimmer and duller place after she left. But her letters
helped. They were so exactly like herself! Even at the first, when
things seemed to be going ill with her, they were all courage, and
quaint humor and determination to get well and come back to Our Square,
which was the dearest and best place in the world with the dearest and
best people in it. Homesickness! Poor little, lonely Mayme. She was
reading—she wrote the Bonnie Lassie—all the books that the Dominie had
listed for her, and she was being tutored by a school-teacher with blue
goggles and a weak heart who lived at the same resort. "Why grow up a
Boob," wrote the philosophic Mayme, "when the lil old world is full of
wise guys just aking to spill their wiseness?"
Contemporaneously the Weeping Scion of Wealth was writing back his views
on life and the emptiness thereof, in better orthography, but with
distinctly less of spirit.
"It appears," reported the Little Red Doctor, "that every man in his own
company has licked our young friend and now the other companies of the
regiment are beginning to show interest, and he doesn't like it. I
believe he'd desert if it weren't that he's afraid of what Mayme
"Still on his mind, is she?" I asked.
The Little Red Doctor produced a letter with a camp postmark from the
South and read a passage:
"You were right when you guessed that I never wanted anything very much
before, without having it handed to me. Perhaps you are right about its
being good for me. But it comes hard. The promise goes, of course. I'm
going to show you and her that I'm not yellow. [So that was still
rankling; salutary, if bitter dose!] But if this war ever finishes, all
bets are off and I'm coming back to find her. And don't you forget your
part of the bargain, to write and let me know how she is getting on."
The Little Red Doctor was able to send progressively encouraging news.
When the cold weather came, Mayme moved westward to Southern California,
and found herself on the edge of one of the strange, tumultuous,
semi-insane moving-picture colonies of that region. Thence issued,
presently, stirring tidings.
"What do you think?" wrote our exile. "They've got my funny little
monkey mug in the movies. Five per and steady work. The director likes
me and says he will give me a real chance one of these days. But, as the
Dominie would say, this is a hell of a place. [Graceless imp!] I would
not say it myself, because I am a perfect lady. You have to be, out
here. That reminds me: I have cut out the Mayme. Every fresh little
frizzle in the colony with a false front and a pneumatic figure calls
herself Mayme or Daisye or Tootsye. Not for me! I am keeping up my
lessons and trying to make my head good for something besides carrying a
switch. Tell the Little Red Doctor that it is so long since I coughed I
have forgotten how. And I love you all so hard that it hurts.
"P.S. I am going to be Marie Courtenay when I get my name up in the
pictures. Put that in the Directory and see how it looks.
"P.S.2. How is my soldier boy getting along? Poor kid! I expect he is
finding it a lot different from Broadway with money in your pocket."
About this time the Weeping Scion was finding things very different,
indeed, from Broadway, having been shifted to a specially wet and muddy
section of France; and was taking them as he found them. That is to say,
he had learned the prime lesson of war.
"And he's been made corporal," announced the Little Red Doctor with
"That sounds encouraging," remarked the Bonnie Lassie. "How did it
"He went over on one of the 'flu ships,' and when the epidemic began to
mow 'em down there was a kind of panic. From what I can make out, the
Scion kept his head and his nerve, and made good. A corporal's stripes
aren't much, but they're something."
Better was to come. There was high triumph in the Little Red Doctor's
expression when he came to my bench with the glad tidings of young
David's promotion to a sergeantcy.
"While it's very gratifying," I remarked, "it doesn't seem to me an
"Doesn't it!" retorted my friend. "That's because of your abysmal
military ignorance, Dominie. Let me tell you how it is in our army. A
fellow can get himself made a captain by pull, or a major by luck, or a
colonel by desk-work, or a general by having a fine martial figure, but
to get yourself made a sergeant, by Gosh, you've got to show the
stuff. You've got to be a man. You've got to have—"
"Are you going to tell her?" interrupted the Bonnie Lassie who had been
sent for to share the news.
The Little Red Doctor fell suddenly grave. "She's another matter," he
said. "I don't think I shall."
Matters were going forward with Mayme—beg her pardon, Mary McCartney,
"Better and more of it," she wrote the Bonnie Lassie. "They rang me in
on one of their local Red Cross shows to do a monologue. Was I a hit?
Say, I got more flowers than a hearse! You've got to remember, though,
that they deliver flowers by the car-load out here. And the local stock
company has made me an offer. Ingenue parts. There is not the money that
I might get in the pictures, but the chance is better. So Marie
Courtenay moves on to the legit.—I mean the spoken drama. Look out for
me on Broadway later!"
In the correspondence from Sergeant Berthelin there came a long hiatus
followed by a curt bit of official information: "Seriously wounded." The
Little Red Doctor brought the news to me, with a queer expression on
"It doesn't look good, Dominie," he said. "You know, my old friend,
Death, is a shrewd picker. He's got an eye for men." He mused, rubbing
his tousled, brickish locks with a nervous hand. "I was getting to kind
of like that young pup," he muttered moodily.
The saying that no news is good news was surely concocted by some one
who never chafed through day after lengthening day for that which does
not come. But in the end it did come, in the form of a scrawl from the
Weeping Scion himself. He was mending, but very slowly, and they said it
would be a long time—months, perhaps—before he could get back to the
front. Meantime, they were still picking odds and ends, chiefly
metallic, out of various parts of his system.
"I'm one of the guys you read about that came over here to collect
souvenirs," he commented. "Well, I've got all I need of 'em. They can
have the rest. All I want now is to get back and present a few to
Fritzie before the show is over."
Thereafter the Little Red Doctor exhibited, but read to us only in small
parts, quite bulky communications from overseas. Some of them, it became
known, he was forwarding to our little Mary, out in the Far West. With
her answer came the solution.
"Some of the 'Grass and Asphalt' sketches are wonders; some not so good.
I am going to try out 'Doggy' if I can find a poodle with enough
intelligence to support me. But you need not have been so mysterious,
Doc, about your 'young amateur writer who seems to have some talent.'
Did you think I would not know it was David? Why, bless your dear, silly
heart, I told him some of those stories myself. But how does he get a
chance to write them? Is he back on this side? Or is he invalided? Or
what? Tell me. I want to know about him. You do not have to worry about
my—well, my infatuation for him, any more. He was a pretty boy, though,
wasn't he? But I have seen too many of that kind in the picture game.
I'm spoiled for them. How I would love to smear some of their pretty,
smirky faces! They give me a queer feeling in my breakfast. Excuse me: I
forgot I was a lady. But don't say 'pretty' to me any more. I'm through.
At that, you were all wrong about Buddy. He was a lot decenter than you
thought: only he was brought up wrong. Give him my love as one pal to
another. I hope he don't come back a He-ro. I'm offen he-roes, too.
Wars and exiles alike come to an end in time. And in time our two
wanderers returned, but Mary first, David having been sent into Germany
with the Army of Occupation. Modest announcements in the theatrical
columns informed an indifferent theater-going world that Miss Marie
Courtenay, an actress new to Broadway, was to play the ingenue part in
the latest comedy by a highly popular dramatist. Immediately upon the
production, the theater-going world ceased to be indifferent to the new
actress; in fact, it went into one of its occasional furores about her.
Not that she was in any way a great genius, but she had a certain
indefinable and winningly individual quality. The critics discussed it
gravely and at length, differing argumentatively as to its nature and
constitution. I could have given them a hint. My predictions regarding
the ancestral potencies of the monkey-face were being abundantly
No announcements, even of the most modest description, heralded the
arrival of Sergeant Major (if you please!) David Berthelin upon his
native shores. He came at once to Our Square and tackled the Little
"Where is she?" he asked.
The Little Red Doctor assumed an air of incredulous surprise. "Have you
still got that bee in your bonnet?" said he.
"Where is she?" repeated the Weeping Scion.
Maneuvering for time and counsel, the Little Red Doctor took him to see
the Bonnie Lassie and they sent for me. We beheld a new and
reconstituted David. He was no longer pretty. The soft brown eyes were
less soft and more alert, and there were little wrinkles at their
corners. He had broadened a foot or so. That pinky-delicate complexion
by which he had, in earlier and easier days, set obvious store, was
brownish and looked hardened. The Cupid's-bow of his mouth had
straightened out. High on one cheekbone was a not unsightly scar. His
manner was unassertive, but eminently self-respecting, and me, whom
aforetime he had stigmatized as a "white-whiskered old goat," he now
addressed as "Sir."
"Perhaps you'll tell me where she is, sir," said he patiently.
"Leave it to me," said the Bonnie Lassie, who has an unquenchable thirst
for the dramatic in real life. "And keep next Sunday night open."
She arranged with Mary McCartney to give a reading on that evening, at
her studio, of David's "Doggy" from the "Grass and Asphalt" sketches
which he had written in hospital. It was a quaint, pathetic little
conceit, the bewildered philosophy of a waif of the streets, as
expressed to his waif of a dog. For the supporting part we borrowed
Willy Woolly from the House of Silvery Voices, and admirably he played
it, barking accurately and with true histrionic fervor in the right
places (besides promptly falling in love with the star at the first and
only rehearsal). After the try-out, Mary came over to my bench with a
check for a rather dazzling sum in her hand, and said that now was the
time to settle accounts, but she never could repay—and so forth and so
on; all put so sweetly and genuinely that I heartily wished I might
accept the thanks if not the check. Instead of which I blurted out
"Oh, Dominie!" said the girl, with such reproach that my heart sank
within me. "Do you think that was fair? Don't you know that I never
could have taken the money?"
"Precisely. And we had to find a way to make you take it. We couldn't
have you dying on the premises," I argued with a feeble attempt at
"But from him!" she said. "After what had happened—And his mother.
How could you let me do it!"
"I thought you would have gotten over that feeling by this time," I
"Oh, there's none of the old feeling left," she answered, so simply that
I knew she believed her own statement. "But to have lived on his
money—Where is he?" she asked abruptly.
I told her that also and about Sunday night; the whole thing. The Bonnie
Lassie would have slain me. But I couldn't help it. I was feeling
Sunday night came, and with it Miss Marie Courtenay, escorted by an
"ace" covered with decorations, whose name is a household word and who
was only too obviously her adoring slave. Already there had been hints
of their engagement. Had I been that ace, I should have felt no small
discomposure at the sight of the girl's face when she first saw the
changed and matured Weeping Scion of three years before. After the first
flash of recognition she had developed on that expressive face of hers a
look of wonder and almost pathetic questioning, and, I thought, who knew
and loved the child, already something deeper and sweeter. Young David,
after greeting the star of the evening, took a modest rear seat as
befitted his rank. But when the Bonnie Lassie announced "Doggy," it was
his face that was the study.
Of that performance I shall say nothing. It is now famous and familiar
to thousands of theater-goers. But if ever mortal man spent twenty
minutes in fairyland, it was David, while Mary was playing the work of
his fancy. At the close, he disappeared. I suppose he did not dare trust
himself to join in the congratulations with which she was overwhelmed. I
found him, as I rather expected, on the bench where he had sat when
Mayme McCartney first found him. And when the crowd had departed from
the studio, I told the girl. Without even stopping to put on her hat she
went out to him.
He was sitting with his elbows on his knees and his fists supporting his
cheekbones. But this time he was not weeping. He was thinking. Just as
of old she put a hand on his humped shoulder. Startled, he looked up,
and jumped to his feet. She was holding something out to him.
"What's that?" he said.
"A check. For what I owe you."
"Who told you? The Little Red Doctor promised—"
"He's kept his promise. The Dominie told me."
"Oh! I suppose," he said slowly, "I've got to take this. You
wouldn't—no, of course you wouldn't," he sighed.
"I've tried to keep strict account," she said.
David adopted a matter-of-fact tone. "I can't deny that it'll come in
handy, just now," he remarked. "At the present price of clothing, and
with my personal exchequer in its depleted state—"
"Why," she broke in, "has anything happened? Your mother—?"
"Cut off," said David briefly.
"She's cut you off? On my account? Oh—"
"No. I've cut her off. Temporarily. She doesn't want me to work. I'm
working. On a newspaper."
"That's good," said the girl warmly. "Let's sit down."
They sat down. Each, however, found it curiously hard to begin again.
Mary was aching to thank him, but had a dreadful fear that if she tried
to, she would cry. She didn't want to cry. She had a feeling that crying
would be a highly unstrategic procedure leading to possible alarming
developments. Why didn't David say something? Finally he did make a
"No: not 'Mayme' any more."
He flushed to his temples. "I beg your pardon, Miss Courtenay."
"Nonsense!" she said softly. "Mary. I've discarded the 'Mayme' long
"Mary," he repeated in a tone of musing content.
He caught his breath. "A few thousand of the best guys in the world," he
said, "call a fellow that. And every time they said it, it made my heart
ache with longing to hear it in your voice."
"You're a queer Buddy," returned the girl, not quite steadily. "Did you
bring me home a German helmet for a souvenir?"
He shook his head. "I didn't bring home much of anything, except some
experience and the discovery of the fact that when I had to stand on my
own feet, I wasn't much."
"You got your stripes, didn't you?" suggested the girl.
"That's all I did get," he returned jealously. "I didn't get any medal,
or palms or decorations or crosses of war: I didn't get anything except
an occasional calling down and a few scratches. If I'd had the luck to
get into aviation or some of the fancy branches—" David checked
himself. "There I go," he said in self-disgust. "Beefing again."
It was quite in the old, spoiled-child tone; an echo of indestructible
personality, the Weeping Scion of other days; and it went straight to
Mary's swelling, bewildered, groping heart. She began to laugh and a sob
tangled itself in the laughter, and she choked and said:
He turned toward her.
"Don't be dumb, Buddy," she said, in the words of their unforgotten
first talk. "You've—you've got me—if you still want me."
She put out a tremulous hand to him, and it slipped over his shoulder
and around his neck, and she was drawn close into his arms.
"The Little Red Doctor," remarked David after an interlude, in the
shaken tone of one who has had undeserved miracles thrust upon him,
"said that to want something more than anything in the world and not get
it was good for my soul, besides serving me right."
"The Little Red Doctor," retorted Mary McCartney, with the reckless
ingratitude of a woman in love, "is a dear little red idiot. What does
he know about Us!"