The Dominant Strain
by Anna Chapin Ray
THE DOMINANT STRAIN
[Illustration: 'Beatrix?' he said"]
ANNA CHAPIN RAY
AUTHOR OF TEDDY, HER BOOK, PHEBE, HER PROFESSION,
TEDDY, HER DAUGHTER, NATHALIE'S CHUM,
EACH LIFE UNFULFILLED
HARRY C. EDWARDS
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY.
All rights reserved
Published May, 1903
UNIVERSITY PRESS · JOHN WILSON
AND SON · CAMBRIDGE, U. S. A.
FROM DRAWINGS IN COLOR BY HARRY C. EDWARDS
'Beatrix?' he said Frontispiece
'Can't you make any sort of an excuse for yourself, Sidney?' she
demanded Page 123
It was so that Thayer liked best to think of her 205
Beatrix still sat at the disordered table 245
'I believe I might as well ask you now' 339
THE DOMINANT STRAIN
Beatrix smiled a little wearily. Intimate friends are sometimes
cloying, and she felt a certain irritation rising within her, as she
watched Sally's bright face under her French toque, and listened to the
easy stream of chatter which issued from Sally's lips. Sally had never
faced such a crisis as the one confronting Beatrix, that day. Moreover,
she had dimples, and it was impossible to believe in the sympathy of a
person whose dimples insisted upon coming into sight, even in the midst
of serious discussion.
If he hasn't already, Sally persisted; he is bound to do it
before the season is over. Then what shall you tell him?
Aren't you rushing things a little? Beatrix inquired languidly.
Please do remember that I only met Mr. Lorimer at the Horse Show, and
that it is three weeks to Lent.
That's nothing, Sally replied flatly, but flippantly. You
subjugated Eric Stanford in half that time, and his gray matter has
been in a pulpy condition ever since.
I didn't know it.
About his gray matter?
Oh, that is congenital trouble. I mean I didn't know that I had
subjugated him. Besides, that is different. He was Bobby Dane's chum,
and we took him into the family.
Took him in all over, Sally drawled.
Beatrix's eyes flashed. There were things she would not say to
Sally; there were also things which Sally could not say to her.
I am so sorry, she said, as she rose; but I must get ready for
Mrs. Stanley's recital. How does it happen you aren't going?
For the most ignominious of reasons. I'm not bidden. Mrs. Stanley
and I were on a committee together, once upon a time. We squabbled over
some amateur theatricals, and she has cut my acquaintance ever since. I
always did say that there is nothing like amateur theatricals for
bringing out all the worst vices of humanity. If a Shakespearian
revival ever reaches the heavenly host, Gabriel and Michael will have
to play Othello and Iago turn and turn about, to prevent ill-feeling.
What do you honestly think of Mr. Lorimer?
Beatrix hesitated. Then she faced her friend.
That he is the most interesting man we have met, this season.
That's not saying any too much. Still, it is an admission. Are you
going to marry him?
He hasn't asked me.
But he will.
How do you know?
I do know.
I'm not so sure of it. Beatrix laughed nervously.
But if he does?
II'm not so sure of that, either.
Beatrix! Why not?
Beatrix untied the long ribbons which belted her gown, and stood
drawing them slowly through and through her fingers. Sally leaned back
in her deep chair and watched her friend keenly, mercilessly. She and
Beatrix had fenced long enough; it was time for the direct thrust.
Sidney Lorimer was the most available man on that winter's carpet.
Moreover, for weeks he had been a patient follower in the wake of
Beatrix Dane. Beatrix might be as impenetrable as she chose; but Sally
knew that, during the past week, she had been reading the headings of
certain suppressed chapters in Lorimer's history, and that they had
changed her whole attitude towards the man. The signs were slight, too
slight for him to have recognized them as yet; but Sally's curious,
pitiless eyes had discerned them. She had discerned and disapproved,
and she had resolved that no squeamish delicacy should keep her from
preventing Beatrix's playing the part of a prude.
He is the best-looking man of the season, and the best dancer. He
took honors at Göttingen. He has any quantity of money. Sally ticked
off the points on the tips of her gray glove. And most of all, she
tapped her thumb conclusively, he is very much in love with Miss
Beatrix Dane, and I want him to marry her.
Oh, Sally, do be sensible! Beatrix burst out impatiently. Then she
pulled herself up sharply and turned to bay. What about the Forbes
supper? she demanded.
Sally shrugged her shoulders, as she fastened her fur collar.
Oh, Beatrix, you prig! Are there any men of our set who haven't
been a little frisky?
Frisky! That is a milder word than I should use, Sally. The Forbes
affair transcends friskiness and becomes the beginning of the pace that
kills. It was intolerable; I can't forgive it.
Her face flushed; then it paled and hardened with the rigidity of
self-control. Sally peered out at her through lowered lashes, and
judged that it was time for her to remove herself. She had known
Beatrix from their childhood, and this was the first time she had seen
her jarred from her self-possession. She fastened the last hook with a
jerk. Then she rose and went to her friend's side.
I didn't mean to tease you, dear, she said penitently. I know
this has been worrying you; but don't let it get on your nerves and
influence you too much. All men make slips at times. Mr. Lorimer is a
good fellow, even if he has been a little fast. He would drop all that
as soon as he wassettled. Besides, this isn't nearly as bad as ever
so many of the stories we hear.
No, Beatrix assented drearily; but it is bad enough.
Then you do care?
Care! She laughed a little harshly. Sally, truly I must send you
off. It is time I was dressing, for I promised to go. I am sorry,
I am used to being dismissed; I shall come again. There was no
hint of rancor in Sally's tone, yet she went away fully convinced that
her own system of measurement could never reach the heights and the
depths of her friend's mood.
Left to herself, Beatrix forgot her need for haste. She dropped down
into a chair, and sat for many moments brooding over the fire. Her hand
shielded her face; yet it could not conceal the anxious lines above her
eyes nor the drooping lips. Lorimer had asked permission to call upon
her, that evening, and she knew by instinct what the evening was
holding in store for her. Confronted with the final decision, she was
at a loss which course to take. Should she close her eyes to the
plague-spot which might one day spread and spread until it tainted her
whole life? The present was very tempting. Why not take it, and ignore
the future? Most girls would wink at the suspicion which, during the
past week, had been clouding her dream of perfect content. How far was
she accountable for the future?
She dressed hurriedly; but when she reached Mrs. Stanley's house,
the recital had already begun, and she dropped into a seat outside the
music-room door. The artist was a new star upon the horizon. She had
supposed him to be only one of the vast milky way which helped to shed
a dim light upon Mrs. Stanley, as that good lady clambered slowly up
the social ladder. Instead of that, Beatrix entirely forgot Mrs.
Stanley's antics, in watching for the star itself. She even dismissed
Lorimer from her mind, as she bent forward in eager listening to the
Great fellow, Schubert! her cousin observed, sauntering up to her
side as soon as the recital was ended. They say that this Thayer is
daft upon the subject of him. Anyway, he manages to interpret him
fairly well. What did you think?
She pulled herself out of her absorption and laughed.
Don't expect me to analyze him, Bobby. He is past that.
Bad or good?
Good, if making havoc of my nerve centres is any test.
Then you really liked him? I thought you didn't want to come.
I didn't. Nothing but a stern sense of duty brought me; but it also
brought its own reward. One hears such a voice only once a decade.
Bobby Dane eyed her askance.
Sure this is yourself, Beatrix? I thought you scoffed at all
baritones, and only delighted in maudlin tenors and anticking sopranos.
I have hopes of you yet; but whence comes your conversion?
From this man, Mr. . She referred to the programme in her
Thayer, her cousin prompted. Cotton Mather Thayer.
Bobby! What a name for an artist!
For a punster, you'd better say; but at least one can't doubt its
genuineness. If he had been going to assume a stage name, he would have
chosen something more romantic.
Who is he, and where did Mrs. Stanley accumulate him?
Bobby rolled his eyes expressively towards the portly, satin-clad
figure of his hostess.
Mrs. Stanley hunts every lion that comes to Manhattan Island. As a
rule, she catches only cubs; this is the exception which proves the
I haven't heard the name before.
No; Thayer is a brand-new lion, but fully grown. Of course, with
that name, his family tree sprouted in Massachusetts; but he has been
in Germany and Italy for years. He only landed, the third, and is to
make his formal début at the Lloyd Avalons's on the twentieth. Don't
you want to meet him?
Nno. I am afraid it would be anticlimax.
Not a bit of it. He doesn't indulge in speckled neckties and an
imperial. He is a man, as well as a singer.
You know him, then?
Yes, as one knows any number of people. Lorimer has had him at the
club occasionally, and I have met him there.
Lorimer knew him well in Germany. Come and help burn incense before
him, and do try to say something rational. Those fellows must get
deadly sick of the inanities people talk when they are being
introduced. If you make a good impression, perhaps I'll bring him
around, some Monday.
Wait till you see what impression he makes, Bobby. I'm not Mrs.
Stanley, you know, and I'm not stalking any lions.
Even while he laughed at the sudden hauteur of her tone, he allowed
his glance to wander over her with manifest approval.
Good for you, Beatrix! But Thayer is a gentleman first of all, then
an artist. A cad always shows himself at a strange club; but Thayer
passed muster at The Critic, where even Lorimer isn't altogether
Why not? she demanded sharply.
Difference in taste in jokes, her cousin replied evasively. I
only spoke of it to show you that you were safe enough in knowing
Thayer. Lorimer is a good fellow; even good fellows have their foes.
But if Mr. Thayer hasn't
Thayer hasn't been here long enough to get them. Give him time,
Beatrix. Inside of six weeks, he will have every singer in New York
slandering him. There's nothing more lovable than the way musicians
stand by one another, when it's a case of fighting a successful rival.
She laughed suddenly.
How do you know, Bobby? You're not a musician.
Heaven forfend! If I were, I should spend half my time on The
Island, doing sentence for battery and breach of the peace. I have
known a few musicians in my time, Beatrix, and I know their pleasant
They had joined the large group gathered at the head of the
music-room, and were slowly working their way from the outer fringe to
the focal point. As they waited, now advancing a step, then halting
again, Beatrix listened in some scorn to the fugue of praise which rose
about her, a fugue composed chiefly of adjectives heaped in confusion
about the single, magical noun temperament. She shot a
mischievous glance up at her tall cousin.
Fancy any man having to live up to this sort of thing, Bobby!
Divine and perfectly elegant do not suggest the same set of
attributes, and I don't see how he can strike the golden mean between
them. Somebody really ought to coin a new word for such emergencies as
Before her cousin could answer, the woman just ahead of them had
buried the singer's hand in her own pudgy clasp.
Oh, Mr. Thayer, that was such a pretty piece you sang last! It was
a German piece; wasn't it? It was just sweet!
And it was after such a prelude that Beatrix bowed in recognition of
her cousin's introduction. Even as she bowed, there came a swift
realization that she was facing no anticlimax. And yet the man before
her was in no wise the typical musician. Tall, so tall that Bobby Dane,
five feet ten in his stockings, seemed short beside him, well-dressed,
well-groomed, he looked far more like a prosperous, alert man of
affairs than an artist or a dreamer. Moreover, in spite of certain
lines in his face, he was absurdly boyish to have sung those great
songs. He could know nothing of the real issues of fate with which he
had been juggling, could have no real conception of either hope or
disappointment. Doubtless he had developed his Weltschmerz
mechanically, imitatively, at so many marks or lire an hour.
Beatrix had always been distressed by the flatness of her
one-syllabled name. It gained a new roundness now; and she raised her
eyes, as Thayer spoke it, to meet the gray ones above her. They were
clear and steady eyes, smiling, yet with a look in their depths which
to her mind accounted for the insistent, troubled note in his singing.
The lines about his shaven lips were firm, but mobile.
Bobby eyed the two of them quizzically. Then he broke in upon the
tentative conversation which follows an introduction.
Pass, Beatrix! That's quite original. I told my cousin, Thayer,
that if she could hail you with a new adjective, I should present you
as a candidate for a dish of tea, some Monday.
As usually happened with Bobby Dane's remarks, this proved the end
of any serious talk, and Beatrix laughed, as she responded,
Please come alone, Mr. Thayer. My cousin monopolizes all the
conversation, when he is present.
And Miss Dane always demands a good listener. Like a conspirator,
she relies upon your silence, Thayer.
What a restful hostess! Thayer answered lightly. Then, turning, he
laid a kindly hand on the arm of his accompanist. Otto, I wish you to
meet Mr. Dane. Miss Dane, may I introduce my friend, Mr. Arlt?
It was done simply; but the boy blushed with sudden shyness before
the stately girl, whose fur collar alone had cost far more than his
whole year's expenses. Beatrix met him cordially, for she had seen him
standing ignored in his corner by the piano, and she liked the friendly
way in which the singer had included him in the trivial talk. It was
not until afterwards that she suddenly recalled the fact that she
herself and her cousin were apparently the only ones to whom Thayer had
introduced his companion. She pondered over the reason for this until,
as she slowly mounted the steps to her own door, she abruptly recurred
to the unanswered question which had been driven from her mind by the
The old butler met her in the hall.
Mr. Lorimer has just telephoned to you, Miss Beatrix. He can't
come, to-night, he says. His horse stumbled and threw him just now, and
his ankle is sprained. It will be a few days before he can go out.
And with utter thankfulness Beatrix accepted even this brief
Cast your bread upon the waters, and it will come floating back to
you in time to be fed out to the next man.
Bad for the next man's digestion, though! Bobby Dane commented, as
he set down his empty cup. You needn't offer me any of your
second-hand pabulum, Beatrix.
You probably will be in such dire straits that I shall offer you
the first chance at it, Bobby, she retorted.
Another cup of tea, and two pieces of lemon, please, Sally
demanded. What is the particular appositeness of your remarks,
Mr. Arlt and Mrs. Stanley. Also the conservation of philanthropic
Sally stirred her tea with a protesting clatter of the spoon.
Beatrix, I am glad I didn't go to college. Your mind is appalling;
your language is more so. May I ask whether you are going into
For the family credit, I must draw the line at the Salvation Army,
Bobby adjured her. A poke bonnet and a tambourine wouldn't be a proper
fruitage for our family tree.
What are you going to do, Beatrix? Sally repeated. It is
something uncanny, I know. I felt it in the air, and that was the
reason I stayed until everybody else had gone. I knew you wished to
But I didn't.
Not even to ease your conscience?
My conscience is perfectly easy.
But you said it was worse than slumming.
It is. Slumming is aristocratic and conservative; I am about to be
Don't tell me it is spectacles and statistics, Bobby pleaded. I
abhor statistical women; they are so absorbed in collating material
that they never listen to the point of even your best stories.
Not a statistic, I promise you, Bobby.
Nor a poke bonnet?
No; my choice is for toques, not pokes. Do you know Mr. Arlt?
Never heard of the gentleman. Bobby's tone expressed cheery
indifference, as he bent over to prod the fire.
But you met him, Bobby.
It was in a crowd, then, and it doesn't signify that I've heard of
him. Who is he, Sally?
With the freedom born of intimacy, Sally was eating up her lemon
rind, and there was a momentary pause, while she shook her head.
Beatrix answered the question.
He is Mr. Thayer's accompanist, that little German who was with him
at Mrs. Stanley's.
Have you heard Thayer yet, Sally? Bobby asked parenthetically.
No. I have heard about him till I am weary of his name, though, and
such a name! Cotton Mather Thayer!
Did it ever occur to you the handicap of going through life as
Bobby? inquired the owner of that name. It is a handicap; but it is
also a distinct advantage. Nobody ever expects me to amount to
anything. No matter how much I fizzle, they'll say 'Oh, but it's only
Bobby Dane!' Now, Cotton Mather Thayer is bound to fill a niche in
Lofty cathedral of fame reared by the ages. Sally helped him out
of his rhetorical abyss.
Thanks awfully; yes. And then Beatrix will scatter her water-soaked
breadcrumbs around him to coax the little sparrows to make their nests
in the crown of his hat and get free music lessons for their young in
exchange for keeping his head warm.
Beatrix frowned; then she laughed. Bobby was incorrigible, and there
was no use in expecting seriousness from him. He and Sally were alike;
Beatrix was cast in a different mould. She could suffer and enjoy with
an intensity unknown to either of the others; yet she was close kin to
her cousin in her appreciation of his irresponsible fun, even though it
would never have occurred to her to originate it. Moreover, even if it
had occurred to her, it is doubtful whether she could have accomplished
Who gets first bite at your bread, Beatrix? Bobby asked
encouragingly. Granted that Arlt, whoever he is, gets second nibble,
who comes in ahead?
Mrs. Stanley. In spite of herself, Beatrix laughed at the logical
application of her metaphor. Stout, energetic Mrs. Stanley was so like
a greedy young turkey snapping up the crumbs dropped from the hands of
Sally raised her brows.
Knowing Mrs. Stanley's appetite, I only wonder that any of the
loaves and fishes should be left over, she drawled maliciously.
Mrs. Stanley has her good points, Sally.
Not a point. She is all built in parabolic curves. Why can't you be
accurate, Beatrix, as befits your higher education? You took conic
sections a year before I did.
All the more reason I should forget them sooner. Besides, haven't I
begged you not to allude to the fact that I am a year older than you?
But is Mr. Thayer as great a singer as they say? Sally asked, with
Greater. He is almost perfectly satisfactory.
Not yet; he will be, some day, if he can only have an unhappy love
affair, Beatrix answered placidly, as she rose from the tea table and
crossed to the open fire.
That is an humane speech.
Artistic, though. He needs just that to develop him. He strikes
every note but tenderness.
Tenderness is generally located at C in Alt, Beatrix. A
baritone can't soar to that height; you should be content when he
growls defiance and moans resignation.
Besides, Sally suggested; it is quite within the limits of
possibility that Mr. Thayer might have a happy love affair. Would that
answer your purpose, Beatrix?
Not in the least. It is his minor key that needs developing.
Never mind, Bobby added. Artists are scheduled for the unhappy
loves. Therein lies the advantage of being merely a newspaper man.
Sally looked up inquiringly.
Just what is it that you do, Bobby? I know you have a desk and a
salary; but I've never been able to find out that you did anything but
put your heels on one and your fingers on the other.
That's because you aren't there to see.
No; but I have heard. Do you ever work, really work?
Of course I work. I earn the jam to eat on my daily bread. I boxed
the devil's ears, this morning.
Luther redivivus! You and Beatrix will soon be great moral
forces in the metropolis. Beatrix, is he really presentable?
Bobby, or the devil?
Neither. Mr. Th
Mr. Thayer, the old butler announced imperturbably, and the
subject of discussion came slowly across the great dusky room towards
the circle of light around the table.
Even while she was suppressing her gasp of sheer embarrassment,
Sally admitted to herself that he was presentable, very presentable.
His manner was altogether free from the self-conscious graciousness of
an artist off-duty; moreover, he was very big, very comely, very much
stamped with the hall-mark of her own class. His eyes were steady; his
shoulders were broad, but his hands were slim. As for Sally Van Osdel,
she had one attribute of a great general; she knew how to beat a
dignified retreat from an awkward situation, and she it was who broke
in upon the little pause which followed the introductions.
Your entrance was most dramatic, Mr. Thayer, for your name was just
trembling upon our lips. Miss Dane has been asking us if we knew your
accompanist, Mr. Arlt.
He turned to Beatrix.
Otto? What about him, Miss Dane?
Only good. Miss Gannion was speaking to me about him, last night.
You know Miss Gannion?
He laughed silently from between his close-shut teeth.
That can be interpreted in two senses.
Not if you know Miss Gannion. She is of the salt of the earth.
I am glad to hear you say so. She is the one person in the city to
whom I brought an introduction. She was out when I called, so I am
still a good deal at sea in regard to her.
A direct question would have been unpardonable; but Beatrix could
see no offence in the note of interrogation in his voice.
She is a dear little spinster of fifty, with endless interests and
not a hobby to her name, the most downright, practical person I have
ever known, and the most helpful to strangers and pilgrims in the city.
It is quite incidental that she is uncommonly rich and uncommonly
homely. Nobody ever stops to think about either fact.
And she has heard of Arlt?
Yes, she hears of everybody. She has a great talent for putting
young men on their feet and teaching them to walk alone. In fact, she
is a perfect employment bureau for meritorious youth. Somebody wrote to
her that Mr. Arlt has genius and grit, and not a guinea to his name,
and she is trying to get him some engagements.
She asked you to help him?
Yes. At least, she spoke about him, and asked me to keep my eyes
open and to say a good word for him, when I can. What does he want, Mr.
Whatever he can get.
What does he need, then?
Everything. Thayer's tone was grave.
At least, that is comprehensive, Beatrix, her cousin assured her.
He may even be starved into eating your chloride of manna.
She ignored the interruption.
And you have known him for some time, Mr. Thayer?
Long enough to have no hesitation in vouching for him, both as a
man and as an artist. His tone was not unfriendly, yet it was of
Then why the deuce hasn't the fellow arrived? Bobby rose, as he
spoke, and planted his feet accurately on the middle pothook of the
Chiefly because art is long, and we are all too busy to wait for it
to display itself. Give him time, Sally suggested idly, for she was
becoming a little bored by the discussion.
Time is money, though. Perhaps a pension would do just as well.
Thayer frowned involuntarily. To him, his art was too sacred to
admit of any flippancy in discussing it. He turned still more directly
Arlt is a thoroughly good fellow, one you are safe in introducing
anywhere. He is only a boy, barely twenty; but he is one of the most
satisfactory pianists I have ever heard. I don't mean I haven't heard
better ones; but never one who has been more satisfying to my mood,
whatever it is. His technique is not perfect, and he lacks maturity;
but he has a trick of making people dissatisfied with other pianists
and anxious to hear him play the same programme.
And he will accompany?
I spare your modesty, Mr. Thayer. I think I understand. But really
I haven't much influence. If I can help him, though, you can count on
my doing it.
All he needs is a little start. As Miss Van Osdel says, New York is
moving too fast to wait for strangers to fall into step with the
He is a stranger, then?
He came over with me. Thayer hesitated. I may as well tell you a
bit about him, he went on. It can't do any harm, and it may
supplement Miss Gannion's story. He is that unhappy being, the youngest
son of a younger son, and he has more ancestors than money. His father
ran away to escape army service, and forgot to provide for his wife and
children. The children died, all but two, Otto and a sister eight years
older. He was half through his musical training, when she had a fall
that crippled her, and the boy had to give up study and take to
teaching. For two years, he fought a losing fight, giving lessons to
stolid youngsters, playing at cheap concerts wherever he could get an
engagement, and all the time slowly dropping deeper and deeper into
debt. One night, he fainted in the middle of the accompaniment to
The Erl-King, and it looked as if the King had claimed him. There
were a couple of Americans in the hall who had been watching him for
weeks, and they began to investigate the case. Arlt, it seems, hadn't
eaten anything for two days; and, just as he had started for the
concert, he had received legal notice that the next day his mother and
sister would be turned into the street, because the rent was unpaid.
And then? Sally queried, as Thayer came to a full stop.
Then they took him out to supper, he replied prosaically.
And then? Sally persisted.
Thayer spoke with some reluctance.
Then they found him an engagement that paid a better salary, and
they bullied him into accepting a little loan, until the first week's
payday came around.
That was so good of you! Beatrix said impulsively.
He raised his brows.
I wasn't the only American in Berlin at the time, Miss Dane.
No; you said there were two of you. But there is no use in your
denying that you were the one who sang The Erl-King.
Circumstantial evidence convicts you, Thayer, Bobby said, coming
to the support of his cousin. You sang; you also fed him. Likewise,
you brought him to America. Then wherefore deny?
There's no reason I should deny. I like Arlt, and for weeks I had
been trying to get him as accompanist, so I gained by the affair. The
other fellow didn't, though. He was no musician; but the case
interested him. He not only backed Arlt financially, but he hunted up
the mother and sister and did no end of nice things for them, the
things that count: rolling chairs and extract of beef and all that
stuff. He had nothing to make by the transaction.
Were they properly grateful? Bobby inquired.
Yes, to the point of enthusiasm. The mother insisted upon doing his
mending all the next winter, and the sister embroidered him a pair of
huge antimacassars and a smoking-cap. It sounds funny; but it was grim,
earnest tragedy mixed with pathos. He did it all with such tact that
the poor creatures never half realized how for a fact they never came
into the middle of his life at all. Arlt realizes it, though. That is
one of the most pathetic phases of the whole situation. By the way,
Dane, you know the fellow, I think.
I wish I did. Beatrix spoke impetuously. Plenty of people will
give generously, but not many of them are willing to give humanely.
Old Frau Arlt used to call him her Lieber Sohn, and fuss
over him as if he were in dire need of her motherly care. He took it
just as it was given. The two women lived too quietly to have heard of
him. Otto never told them the truth; but outside the house his
deference made up for the familiarity at home. It has been a pretty
story to watch, and it has meant a comfortable life for two
Who was the man? Bobby asked idly.
Lorimer. Sidney Lorimer.
Of course, as Bobby Dane had said, with such a name, Thayer's family
tree had sprouted in Massachusetts. His Puritanism was hereditary and
strong; it tempered the artistic side of his nature, but it could not
destroy it. In the musical sense of the word, Cotton Mather Thayer
possessed Temperament; but his Temperament was the battle-field where
two warring temperaments were at constant strife.
In the year of grace sixteen hundred and thirty-five, Richard
Thayer, freeman, landed in America. From Plymouth Rock, he strode
straight towards a position of colonial fame. His children and his
children's children kept up the family tradition and name until one of
them, of a more theological bent than his cousins had been, annulled
the custom of his ancestors and named his oldest son for the grim
divine, Cotton Mather Thayer, and during the next one hundred and fifty
years, Cotton Mathers and Richards had flourished side by side among
the Thayers of eastern Massachusetts. They were strong men, one and
all, quiet and self-contained in years of peace, grim fighters in
seasons of war, and prominent citizens at all times, a godly, gritty,
and prosperous race. Of such is the greatness of New England.
Their records, like the records of all good things, were slightly
monotonous. They were born into orderly nurseries; they were graduated
from the vicissitudes of teething and mumps into orderly, peaceful
adolescence. They invariably married the most suitable damsel of their
own class, and they passed from an orderly old age through an orderly
churchyard into a heaven which the imagination of their surviving kin
peopled with orderly ranks of angels, playing gilt harps in perfect
accord. Their artistic ideals were bounded by Coronation and the
pictures in The New England Primer and Godey. Blackberry
shrub, to their minds, was the medium of riotous dissipation.
Under such fostering conditions, ancestral traits strengthened from
generation to generation, until the race of Puritan Thayers culminated
in one Cotton Mather who was born in the early decades of the last
century, a grim deacon, a shrewd lawyer, and the owner of two or three
ships which sailed from his own seaport town. Shrewd as he was,
however, his logic failed him at one point. When his first child,
Cotton Mather Thayer, was a tiny boy, the youngster was allowed and
even invited to toddle about the wharves, clinging to the paternal
thumb. On the other hand, when the boy Cotton was fourteen, he received
a round dozen of canings for lounging about among the shipping. The
thirteenth caning was one too many. It was more severe than the others,
and it cracked the long-strained situation. The caning occurred in his
father's office, after hours, one June night. The Thankful was
booked to sail, the next morning at eight. When, at eight-ten, it
slipped down the harbor, it bore away as cabin-boy and general drudge
the stiff and sore, but unrepentant sinner, Cotton Mather Thayer, age
His later adventures have little concern with the story of his son's
life. He sailed over many seas, he visited many lands, mellowing by
contact with many peoples the unyielding temper of his race. The
possibility of failure never once entered into his mind. The Thayers
always had succeeded, for they always had worked. In consequence, he
took it quite as a matter of course that, at twenty-three, he should be
commander of the Presidenta, stationed in the Baltic for a year
of chilly inaction. St. Petersburg was near, and St. Petersburg, as the
young commander found, held for him the focal point of the world, in
the person of the pretty daughter of one of the court musicians. Twelve
years later, while the Presidenta was stationed in the
Mediterranean, its young captain died, leaving behind him in Russia a
fragile wife and a little son who had inherited the name and character
of the Thayers, curiously mingled with the artistic, emotional
temperament and the rare musical ability of his mother's race.
It was no common combination. Russian art and Puritan morals are
equally grim; yet the one yields to every passing emotion, the other is
girded up by unyielding strength. Throughout his little boyhood, the
child's nature seemed borne hither and thither by these two counter
currents in his blood, now passing days of quiet, sturdy self-control,
now swept by black gusts of passion which carried all things before
them. Then, four years after his father's death, there came two events
into his life: his mother's death, and the discovery that he had a
voice. The one taught him the meaning of utter, absolute loneliness,
for the alien blood of the Thayers had never been able to win many
friends in the land of his mother's kin. The other proved to be at once
a rudder to guide him over the uncharted future of his life, and an
outlet for the pent-up passion within him. His voice was totally
untrained, and as yet it broke into all manner of distressing falsetto
fragments. Nevertheless, it gave him a cause for living, and it enabled
him, the descendant of a taciturn race, to give utterance to the doubts
and questionings which accompanied his growth to manhood. Bereft of his
mother and without his voice, he might easily have become an ascetic or
To a boy of sixteen, trained to a life of strict economy, his slight
income from his father's investments seemed enough for his needs, and
he felt a boyish disgust when, one day, word came to him that his
grandfather had died, leaving him the only heir to the large property
laid up by eight generations of Thayers. His grandfather had refused to
become reconciled to his son; then why should he assume post-mortem
friendship with his son's son? However, by the time he was launched
into German student-life, dividing his time fitfully between his
university and his music, young Cotton Mather was forced to admit that
an ancestral fortune was no despicable addition to the stock in trade
of a man starting in life. He only needed to watch the grinding
existences of some of his comrades to realize the value of money in
shaping a broad artistic career. Instead of wasting his gray matter
over details of ways and means, he could let that side of life take
care of itself, while he gave his whole attention to developing the
best that was in his mind and his voice.
Of course, he was extravagant; of course, he learned, among other
things, some of the blacker lessons of the student world. However, the
Puritanism of his ancestors stood him in good stead. It enabled him to
come into close contact with the seamy side of life; but it decreed
that the friction should never leave a sore spot behind it. It only
hardened the fibre. When he ended his studies, he knew the world at its
best and at its worst, but with this distinction: the best was an
integral part of his life; the worst was an alien, a foe to be
recognized and downed, however often it should face him.
From Göttingen, where he had met Lorimer casually, Thayer went to
Berlin to devote his time entirely to music. Lorimer joined him there,
more because he had nothing to call him back to America than because he
had anything to call him to Berlin. During the next winter, the two
men, as unlike as men could be, had shared a bachelor apartment, the
one working industriously, the other playing just as industriously. It
was during this winter that Lorimer had come into contact with the
Arlts. It was during this winter also that Thayer finally decided to
give up his other plans and make his profession centre in his voice. He
had battled against the idea with the fervor of a race to whom the
stage offered no distinction between vaudeville and grand opera, but
inclined to the characteristics of the one and the scope of the other.
For years, he had fought against the temptation; he yielded, one night,
during the second act of Faust, and, in after time, he could
always identify the chord which had punctuated his decision. Three
hours later, he was studying that fraction of Baedeker which concerns
itself with Italy.
He was in Italy for two years. Then he went back to Berlin for
another year of grinding work, of passing discouragements, and of
ultimate success. There had been many and many a day when his pluck had
failed him, when he had questioned whether his voice was really good,
whether, after all, it were possible to make an artist out of gritty
Puritan stock; whether, in fact, he was not a thing of fibre, rather
than a man of temperament. His progress was great; but his ideals kept
pace with it.
It was one dazzling June morning when he took his final lesson. He
had gone onward and upward until, for months, he had been in the hands
of the maestro universally acknowledged to be the dean of his
art. The maestro was an old man and chary of his words; yet even
he was stirred to enthusiasm.
My son, it is time for you to go, he said, as he rose from the
piano and took Thayer's hands into his own fragile, elderly fingers. I
can teach you nothing more. It is now for you to work out your own
reputation. Not much more of life is left in me; but, before it is
ended, I shall hear your name spoken, both often and with praise. While
I live, my house will hold a welcome to you. Auf wiedersehen!
As Thayer went out into the sunshine, the glitter and the brightness
of it all, of the day and of the future, dazzled him and made him
afraid. Then of a sudden the blood of the Thayers, in abeyance during
those mad, sad, glad years of study and of striving, asserted itself
again. Obeying its behest, he turned abruptly from the street where he
was seeking the impresario to whom his master had sent him. In that
instant, he turned his back for many a long month upon opera and upon
all that followed in its train.
One clean, cold night in mid-February, Thayer came down the steps of
his club, where he had been dining with Bobby Dane. At the foot of the
steps he halted long enough to button his coat to the chin and pull his
hat over his eyes, preparatory to facing the cutting wind. Then,
turning southward, he went striding away down the Avenue with the
vigorous, alert tread of the well-fed, contented man. It was still
early, so early that the pavements were dotted with theatre-going
groups. He strode through and beyond them, along the lower end of the
Avenue, and came under the arch, standing in chill, austere dignity at
the edge of the wind-swept square. Over its fretted surface the
electric lights shone coldly, and the deserted benches beyond brought
to Thayer, fresh from the glow and good-fellowship of the club, a
sudden depressing sense of his own aloofness from his kind. The club
and Bobby were incidental points of contact, pleasant, but not
permanent. Like the arch, he was alone, outside the rushing life of the
busy town, something to be watched and commented upon, but never
destined to be really in the heart of things. Bobby was a part of it,
and Bobby had held out to him a welcoming hand. He had taken the hand,
and had dropped it again. It was of no use. He did not belong. The
sensation was not a new one to him. He had met it before and in many
places. It came to him suddenly and unbidden, and it lay, a chilly
weight, over all his consciousness. It always left him wondering
whether he would ever become fully adjusted to his environment, whether
it would ever be possible for him to come into perfect contact with his
As if the depression had brought with it a physical chill, he shook
his broad shoulders and plunged his hands into the side pockets of his
overcoat. Then, facing westward, he went on for a block or two and
stopped at the door of a shabby boarding-house.
Mr. Arlt? he said to the maid, in brief interrogation.
She nodded and stood aside to let him pass. Thayer's tread on the
dim stairway showed his familiarity with the place, as did the prompt
calling of his name which answered his knock.
Without laying down his pipe, Arlt rose to greet his guest.
You were so late that I was afraid you were not coming.
Thayer took off his fur-lined coat and tossed it into a chair.
Haven't you learned that I always get around? he asked. I was
dining with a friend, and we took things lazily.
And now you expect to sing? Arlt's accent was rebuking.
Yes. I walked down here to get myself into condition. How is it?
Are you feeling nervous over the prospect?
Arlt had seated himself at the grand piano which completely filled
one end of the dreary room. Now he drew a protesting arpeggio from the
black keys and shook his head.
Oh, that is a terrible woman, that Mrs. Lloyd Avalons! She was here
again, to-day, to tell me about the programme. What does she know of
music? She refuses the Haydn Variations and demands a Liszt Rhapsodie.
If you are not firm with her, she will end by making you sing The
Holy City with a flute obligato.
Thayer laughed unfeelingly.
She is a Vandal, Arlt; but the world will be at her musicale, they
tell me; and you will find it a good place to make your bow to an
American public. Mrs. Dana told me, over in Berlin, that Mrs. Lloyd
Avalons gave the best private recitals in New York.
What does she know about music? Arlt grumbled.
Nothing, apparently; but the new-rich must have some sort of a fad,
if they are to make themselves count for anything, and people will go
to hear good music, even when they know it is a mere social bribe.
Hofman could fill a Bowery dance-hall with the elect; you only have to
lead them to the latest architectural vagary on Fifth Avenue. They are
bound to be there, for, even while they scoff, they like to keep an eye
on Mrs. Lloyd Avalons for fear she may prove to be worth knowing after
they have snubbed her; so play your best. It may lead to other
engagements to come.
And the Liszt Rhapsodie? he asked mournfully.
Bad, I admit.
It is detestable. The Rhapsodies are the forlorn hope of artists
who have failed on Beethoven.
Not so bad as that. Still, there's a way of escape. Announce to
your audience that, by request, you are changing the number from Liszt
to Haydn. I do request it most earnestly.
The boy looked up in admiring relief.
How is it that such ideas come to you, Mr. Thayer?
My Yankee blood, Arlt. Now shall we run over my songs?
It was characteristic of Thayer that, in consenting to make his
American début at the recital of Mrs. Lloyd Avalons, he had insisted
upon the condition that he should choose his own assisting artist. How
Mrs. Lloyd Avalons had heard of him in the first place was a mystery
which he had made no effort to solve. From the testimony of several
members of the American colony in Berlin, it appeared that all New York
and half of Boston had heard of Mrs. Lloyd Avalons, who, for three or
four seasons past, had been using her really choice musicales as a
species of knocker upon the portal of New York society. By this time,
she had passed the portal and was disporting herself in the vestibule,
with one toe resting upon the sacred threshold. Socially, she was as
yet impossible; but her recitals had won the reputation of being among
the choicest tidbits of the season's musical feast, for she made up in
money what she lacked in artistic sense, and, thanks to her agent, she
had been able to discover certain new stars before they rose above the
horizon. For this reason it was a distinct honor, Thayer was told, to
be bidden to sing for Mrs. Lloyd Avalons, and therefore Thayer had
promptly made up his mind that Arlt also should have a hearing upon
this occasion. The boy already had decided to come to America. Thayer
realized with regret how cold a welcome the country of his own
ancestors was accustomed to extend to struggling young musicians. Arlt
had genius; but he lacked both influence and initiative. The fight
would be a long one, and Arlt's conquest would be at the expense of
many a wound. Teutons are not necessarily pachyderms, and Arlt was
sensitive to a rare degree.
As Arlt's fingers dropped from the keys at the close of
Valentine's song of farewell, Thayer laughed suddenly.
It is rather contrary to custom to be accompanied by the star of
the evening, Arlt. I suppose I ought to have hunted up somebody else;
but these other fellows make frightful work of my accompaniments. They
hurry till they get me out of breath, and then they take advantage of
the moment to drown me out. I'd like a baton, only I should beat the
accompanist with it, before I was half through a programme.
The boy's color came.
When another man accompanies you, I shall be dead, or incapable,
he returned briefly. I do not forget.
Nor I. But do you also remember the last time we did this in
At my home? To Katarina?
It is my song, you know. I am superstitious about it.
Mr. Lorimer was there, that night.
Oh, that reminds me, Arlt, I heard, to-night, that Lorimer was
Yes, to a Miss Dane. It is only just announced, to-day. I was
dining with her cousin and he told me.
She must be good. I hope she is also strong of character, the boy
said, with a curiously deliberate accent which seemed characteristic of
him. He is a good man and a kind one; but he needs a steadying hand. I
shall write to the mother and Katarina.
Will they like the news?
Why not? Mr. Lorimer is their friend, and they will be glad of any
happiness which shall come to him. To the mother, he is like a son, for
she is simple-hearted and knows nothing of the world. To Katarina, he
is like a god.
But gods don't usually marry, Thayer suggested whimsically, as he
took up his coat.
However, Arlt was ready for him.
Zeus did, and Homer tells us how he quarrelled with his wife.'
Lorimer never will quarrel; he is too easy-going. By the way, you
met Miss Dane at the Stanley recital. Do you remember her?
Arlt's lips straightened thoughtfully.
A tall lady in brown furs, who knew how to praise without making a
fool of herself? he queried.
That is the one. I should judge that Lorimer has been making a
systematic campaign ever since he met her, three months ago, and that,
after all, it came suddenly in the end. Dane was noncommittal; but I
think he doesn't like Lorimer any too well. Good-night, Arlt. We'll
rehearse again, Wednesday morning; meanwhile, stick to your Haydn. And
Thayer went away, out into the cold, crisp air, which greeted him now
with all its tonic force.
Arlt's simple, boyish loyalty and lack of self-analysis always put
him into good-humor. It was as infectious as the jovial temper of Bobby
Dane, Thayer reflected enviously, with a sudden memory of the idle talk
over their dinner. Strange what had put him on his nerves afterwards!
Then his thoughts flew to Lorimer, and he wondered how his old chum
would bear the harness of domestic living. Perhaps it was just as well
that no idea crossed his mind of how far his story told to Beatrix
Dane, the Monday before, had had a share in shaping the decision which
was to change the whole character of her life.
The question of one's accountability for others is rarely an
edifying subject of meditation.
It isn't so easy to say airy nothings to an artist, when you know
him behind the scenes, Beatrix said, suddenly shifting the talk back
to the point of departure.
Talk philosophy, then, Bobby returned.
But I must say something to him, after he gets through singing; and
now that I have seen him, three or four times, I can't launch into a
sea of platitudes.
I thought women could always go to sea in a platitude. It is as
leaky as a sieve, and not half so likely to upset and leave one
floating without any support at all.
Sally laughed outright.
Beware of Bobby, when he turns metaphorical! He suggests a
second-hand curio shop.
Lorimer glanced up at her, with a whimsical smile twisting his lips.
Your own rhetoric isn't above reproach, Miss Van Osdel. But has it
ever occurred to you that Young America has abandoned its sieve for a
man of war? I met a callow junior from Harvard, the other day, and by
way of making polite conversation, I asked him to suggest a clever
subject for a debate. He promptly told me that at his eating club they
had been discussing the origins of morality.
Bobby whistled, to the huge delight of the butler. That factotum
revelled in the pranks of Master Bobby who had upset his dignity at
least once a week for the past fifteen years.
In our time we took our pleasures less sadly, Lorimer. What are we
all coming to?
To congenital senility.
That is nothing more nor less than the frugal trick of making both
ends meet, Sally interpolated.
But what shall I say to Mr. Thayer? Beatrix reiterated.
That it is a pleasant evening.
That you hope he isn't very tired with singing so much, Bobby and
Sally suggested in the same breath.
Beatrix made a little gesture of scorn.
It is your turn, Mr. Lorimer. You know him better than the rest of
us. What shall you say to him?
I know him so well that I rarely talk to him about his singing,
Lorimer replied, with sudden gravity. Thayer is too large a man to
smack his lips over sugar-plums. He knows exactly what I think of his
voice, that it is one of the best baritone voices I have ever heard. He
also knows that I am perfectly aware of the fact when he sings
unusually badly or unusually well. Under those conditions, there is no
especial need of our discussing the matter. One can have reservations
with one's friends, you know. As he spoke, his eyes met those of
Beatrix, and a smile lighted his gravity.
At a first glance, Sidney Lorimer produced the impression of being a
remarkably handsome man. The second glance, while it strengthened the
impression, nevertheless set one wondering what had created it. His
figure, his features, his coloring were all good, yet they were in no
way remarkable. A wiry, nervous, clean-cut man, with brown hair and
eyes, a slim, straight nose, and a well-set head, he would have
commanded little attention had it not been for the nameless stamp set
upon him by his training at an English public-school. It is impossible
to analyze this stamp, yet it exists and insists upon recognition.
Political life had called the elder Lorimer to England, and he had
judged it better to take his only child with him and drop him into Eton
than to leave him in America and send him to St. Paul's. He did it as a
matter of convenience, not of theory; but when his boy was ready for a
Yale diploma, the father confessed to himself that he was pleased with
the result of the experiment. Young Lorimer would never be an important
factor in the world's development; but he was an uncommonly attractive
fellow, and could hold his own in any position where chance would be
likely to place him. Only his lower lip betrayed the fact that his
mother had been a woman of uncurbed nerves.
It was the evening of the twentieth, and Lorimer was distinctly
nervous. He liked Arlt and was anxious for his success; but his anxiety
for Arlt was as nothing in comparison with that which he felt for
Thayer, to whom he gave the adoration that a weak man sometimes offers
to one immeasurably his superior. Probably Lorimer's whole life would
contain no better year than the one he had spent with Thayer in Berlin.
Thayer's influence was strongly good, and Lorimer was of plastic
material. It is doubtful whether Lorimer realized this influence; yet
he was genuinely delighted to have Thayer within easy reach once more,
genuinely wishful to have Thayer's American début such an unqualified
success that hereafter he would regard New York as his professional
Lorimer rarely was garrulous; he was unusually silent during the
long drive to the Lloyd Avalons's. It was his first introduction to the
pseudo-fashionable world, for his own family had been of conservative
stock, and Beatrix and Bobby had been the first of the Danes to break
down the barriers of their own exclusive set. To be sure, he realized
that in a city like New York it was quite possible for circles of equal
choiceness to exist tangent to each other, yet in mutual ignorance of
one another; but his years abroad in slower-moving countries had not
prepared him for the countless agile performers clambering up and down
over the social trapeze. In his father's day, society had stood on an
elevated platform and watched the performers as they played leap-frog
on the ground. The performers had been as agile then as now; but their
agility had been free from any danger of a tumble. Between the ground
and the platform, there is no place of permanent rest. One must keep
moving, or else be pushed to the ground.
As a rule, people forgot that there was a Mr. Lloyd Avalons. He was
a little man with an imperial, and a total incapacity for telling the
truth. In that, he was inferior to his wife in point of social
evolution, for she had learned, from certain episodes which still
filled her with mortification, that fibbing was bad form. To Mrs. Lloyd
Avalons, her husband was a mere cipher. Placed before her, he added
nothing to her value; placed after and in the background, he multiplied
her importance tenfold. There were certain privileges accruing to a
woman with a husband, certain immunities that followed in the train of
matrimony. Mrs. Lloyd Avalons was quite willing to include the word
obey in the marriage service; she had a distinct choice in regard
to whom it should refer.
To-night, Lloyd Avalons stood slightly in the rear of the elbow of
his wife who, resplendent in pale gray velvet and emeralds, was
welcoming her guests on the threshold of the music-room. Her gray eyes
were shining with a greenish light that matched the emeralds, for her
lips were set in a conventional smile, and there must be some escape
for her delight, as she counted over the tale of guests and recognized
individuals of many a named species from the garden of society. All in
all, this was the best success she had as yet attained.
She greeted Beatrix effusively, and cast a coy glance at Lorimer
while she murmured a few words of congratulation. Then she fell a
victim to one of Bobby's quibbles, and while she was struggling to see
the point of his joke, the others made their escape.
At least, the architect knew what he was about, Lorimer remarked
to Beatrix, as they took their seats. Thayer can't complain of the
acoustic effects of the place.
When have you seen him?
Just before dinner. He was in superb voice then, and a fairly good
Isn't he always? she questioned idly, as she nodded to an
acquaintance in the next row of chairs.
Not always. As a rule, he is the best-tempered fellow in the world.
Once in a while, though, he wraps himself up in his dignity and stalks
about like an Indian brave in his best Navajo blanket. Nobody ever
knows what is the reason, nor when he will go off into a Mood. It makes
him an uncertain quantity. For my part, I would rather a man would
swear and get it over with. Lorimer spoke easily. Unlike Thayer, he
never collided with the angles of his own temperament.
What does it do to his singing?
Depends on one's taste. I like it, myself, as I like a
high-flavored cheese. People who pin their faith to Mendelssohn might
be a little over-powered. Fact is, there is a strange streak in
Thayer's make-up. I can't account for him at all.
What is the use of trying? Aren't one's friends immune from
I don't care to try. I don't want to account for him; he is too
large for that. I wish you might know him; but you never will. He's not
a woman's man in the least.
Beatrix was silent for a moment. Involuntarily she was making a
swift comparison of the way in which the two men spoke of each other.
Lorimer's praise had been full of half-suppressed reservations. Thayer
had made no reservations, he had scarcely uttered a word of praise, yet
his hastily-drawn picture of Lorimer's connection with the Arlts had
proved a determining factor in her life. It had been a new phase of
Lorimer's character which Thayer had presented. It had revealed him in
a new light and one infinitely more likable than any she had yet known.
The Lorimer she had met, had been fascinating and a bit snobbish. The
friend of the Arlts was altogether lovable. It takes greater tact and
staying power to make friends outside one's social grade than in it.
People suspect the motives of those who are crossing the boundaries
between caste and caste; yet the Arlts had trusted Lorimer completely.
Beatrix had remained thoughtful for some time after Thayer's
departure. Lorimer had called, that same night. His coming had been
unexpected; it had taken Beatrix off her guard. She had been
unfeignedly glad to see him, for his ten-days' absence from her life
had been unprecedented in their acquaintance. The world is wide, yet,
owing to some strange law of attraction, one invariably seems to meet
the same people everywhere. Beatrix had greeted Lorimer more eagerly
than she had been aware. She had tried in vain to keep the fact of the
Forbes supper uppermost in her mind. Instead, it slid into the
background, and its place had been taken by the thought of Lorimer's
probable feelings when he received the smoking cap from the hands of
Katarina Arlt. And the evening had hurried away from her. When it had
gone, she had realized with a sudden shock that her girlhood was ended.
She was the plighted bride of Sidney Lorimer, and, distrustful of her
own mental grasp of the fact, she had ruthlessly waked up her mother to
tell her what had occurred. Later, she had not understood the motive
which had led her to her mother's room. As a rule, she was
self-reliant, and adjusted herself to a crisis without caring to talk
it over. For the once, however, she felt the need of being strengthened
by the enthusiastic delight of Mrs. Dane whose sentimental hopes had
centered in Lorimer from the hour of his introduction to her only
All this had passed in review through Beatrix's mind, and it seemed
long to her since Lorimer's last words, when he said,
Don't think I am depreciating Thayer, Beatrix. He is one of the
finest fellows who ever came out of the Creator's hands. In his worst
moods, he is away ahead of most of the men one meets. Some day, I hope
you may know him for what he really is.
There was true generosity underlying Lorimer's frank words. He was
still smarting from his contact with Thayer, that afternoon, for Thayer
had heard of a dinner at the club, on the previous night, and had
spoken a quiet warning. It was only such a warning as he had given, a
dozen times before; he knew just how Lorimer would resent it, then
accept it, and it would have made no difference to him, could he have
foreseen that, in his resentment, Lorimer's words to Beatrix would be
slightly tinged with aloes. It is not certain that, foreseeing, he
would have cared. Beatrix was nothing to him; of Lorimer he was
Beatrix had felt some curiosity as to the effect Thayer's voice
might have upon her. Familiarity in all truth does breed contempt, and
a second hearing often proves a disappointment. For Lorimer's sake, she
was anxious to enjoy the recital, and she drew a quick, nervous breath
as Thayer, followed by Arlt, came striding out across the little stage
with the same unconscious ease with which he had crossed her parlor,
the week before. As he waited for Arlt to seat himself, he glanced
about the room, his practised eye measuring its size and the probable
nature of his audience. For an instant, his glance rested upon Beatrix
and Lorimer, and he gave a slight smile of recognition. Then his
shoulders straightened and he came to attention, as Arlt struck the
opening chord of his accompaniment.
He had chosen to begin his programme, that night, with the
Infelice for, in spite of its Verdiism, it had been a favorite of
his old master in Berlin. Before he had sung a dozen notes, Beatrix,
bending forward, was listening with parted lips and flushing cheeks. Of
Thayer as a man who had dallied with one of her cups of tea, she took
no account; but his voice, sweet and flexible, was tugging at her
nerves and setting them vibrating with its note of passionate sadness.
Then, gathering power and intensity, it swept its hearers along upon
its furious tempest; yet, as she listened, Beatrix felt herself
inspired for, underneath it all, there was the same throbbing,
insistent note which seemed to assure her that the singer had hoped and
lost and fought and conquered, that he knew all about it, himself.
Lorimer nodded contentedly at the stage, as Thayer ended his song.
That's all right; but they would better save their strength, for he
never gives an encore for the first number. What do you think of Thayer
She caught her breath sharply.
That I should be a better woman, if I could hear him sing often.
There's something in what you say. He makes me feel it, too. I
never have heard him sing better, though he always does that song well.
He told me once that he felt possessed with the spirit of his own
grandfather, whenever he started it. From all signs, his grandfather
must have been an intolerable old person to get on with, if he could
rage in that fashion.
Possibly he had occasion. Beatrix forced herself to speak lightly,
though it was an effort for her to resume the accent and manner which
befitted the place.
Perhaps. He was a Russian musician with a young wife. Now for the
Schubert group! Thayer's reputation is made, though; he can sing
through his nose now, and they will think it a beautiful manifestation
of individual genius. I only hope that Arlt will do one tenth as well.
It proved that Arlt did fully six tenths as well, and was applauded
to the echo. To the undiscerning ear, he won even more than his share
of applause; but Beatrix, her nerves still tense from The Erl-King, felt a difference in the quality of the welcome to the two musicians.
The critical few were impartial, and in the case of Arlt they led a
wavering fugue of the uncritical many. Arlt was young, small and
insignificant. His tailor was not an artist, and Arlt was too palpably
conscious that his coat tails demanded respectful care. Society
applauded Arlt with punctilious courtesy; but it promptly took Thayer
to its bosom and caressed him with enthusiasm.
Late in the evening, Beatrix brought her father to the corner where
Thayer, with Arlt beside him, was still holding a sort of court, and
the four of them were talking quietly when Mrs. Stanley came pushing
her way towards them.
I must add my word of congratulation, Mr. Thayer, she said, as she
graciously offered him a pudgy bundle of white kid fingers. You have
made a wonderful success, and it won't be long before you have New York
at your feet.
Thayer glanced down at his patent leather shoes.
It would be a good deal in the way, Mrs. Stanley. Let us hope it
will stay where it belongs, he answered gravely.
How ungrateful you artists are! But I shall always be so glad and
proud to think that your first song in New York was in my house.
But it wasn't.
Her face fell.
I thoughtWasn't that your first recital? I am sure you said
His smile went no further than his lips, for his clear gray eyes
appeared to be taking her mental and spiritual measure, with some
little disappointment at the result.
It was my first recital, Mrs. Stanley; but not my first song. I
sang German folk songs to Arlt's landlady, half the afternoon before.
You remember Mr. Arlt, I think.
She glanced around with a carelessness which ignored the hand that
the boy shyly extended towards her.
Oh, yes, very pleased, she said vaguely. Then, with a resumption
of her former manner, she turned back to Thayer. And I thought you
promised to drop in for a cup of tea, some Thursday, Mr. Thayer.
Beatrix was deaf to his answer. She had turned to Arlt who, scarlet
with hurt and anger, stood alone in his corner by the piano.
Mr. Arlt, she said gayly; it is very warm here, and I know where
they keep the frappé. Shall we leave my father here, and run off in
search of some goodies? You ought to be hungry, after playing for two
And Arlt, surprised at the sudden winning intonations which had
crept into her voice, dodged around the portly back of Mrs. Stanley and
followed Beatrix out of the room. For the moment, the haughty woman had
changed to a jovial, friendly girl, no more awe-inspiring than
Katarina, in spite of her wonderful gown and the fluffy white thing in
her hair; and the artist, in his turn, changed into a normal hungry
boy, as he followed her away.
So absorbed were they in each other that they failed to see Bobby
Dane who met them upon the threshold, on his way to join the group they
had just left.
Beg pardon, Thayer; but can I speak to you for a moment? he said
His uncle turned to Mrs. Stanley with old-fashioned pomposity.
May I have the pleasure of taking you to the dining-room? he
What is it, Dane? Thayer asked, as soon as they were alone, for
Bobby's face showed that something was amiss.
It's Lorimer in the smoking-room. That beast of a Lloyd Avalons has
opened a perfect bar in there, andand Lorimer is making a bit of a
cad of himself, Bobby confessed reluctantly. I tried to get him away;
but he wouldn't come, and I thought perhaps you could start him. It's
not that he is drunk, only he is talking rather too much, and I want to
get him off before Beatrix gets wind of it. You know girls
I know, Thayer assented gravely. I'll see what I can do with
You musicians make me deadly weary, Bobby proclaimed, from his
favorite rostrum of the hearthrug.
Is that the reason you are trying to sit on them, Bobby? his
cousin asked. You'll find an easy chair just as restful to you and a
good deal more so to the musician.
Bobby waved her remark aside.
Don't interrupt me, Beatrix. I have things I wish to say.
Very likely; but it is barely possible that somebody else also may
have things he wishes to say, and can't, because you talk so much.
Sally is busy eating bonbons, and Thayer would much better wait
till I get through his indictment. He'll need all his voice to defend
Sally glanced up.
Go on, Bobby, she said encouragingly. The sooner it is over, the
Thank you. Then I have the floor. Thayer, I never believe in
talking about people behind their backs, so I look you squarely in the
eye and ask you if you ever realize that you don't amount to much,
Who told you?
Nobody. I evolved it.
I didn't know you were a critic.
I'm not, nor yet an interpreting artist. I create.
What, I should like to know! This was from Sally.
Scareheads. I do them. If that's not creating, I should like to
know what is. They never have any connection with facts.
What is your grievance? Thayer asked languidly.
I was just getting to that. As I say, I create. You only interpret.
I don't know as it counts that you don't try to interpret my
scareheads, though some of them would make stunning fugues. Take the
last one, for instance: Billions at Stake: Potato Corner in Prospect. You could work up something fine from that, Thayer. Think of the chest
tones you could throw into the single word Potato!
Bobby, you are growing discursive, his cousin reminded him.
No; it is only my rhetorical method. I shall bring you up with a
round turn, before you know it. Well, granted that we represent the two
classes, the creative and the interpretive, which is the greater?
How can we tell, unless you stand back to back? Sally inquired.
But by this time, Bobby was fairly launched.
The fact is, you singers and players have a smug little fashion of
forgetting that there is a composer back of you. You don't sing
extempore, Thayer, make up the song as you go along. You're nothing
more than a species of elocutionist, you know, trying to show the
people who weren't on the spot what the composer really did when he
created the thing.
Animated phonograph records, in short? Thayer suggested.
Yes, if you choose to call it that. Of course you count for
something, else every composer could make a set of records and dispense
with his interpreting artist once for all. But you fellows honestly do
make an awful fuss about yourselves; now don't you?
Bobby! Beatrix protested.
Oh, yes; but I'm not meaning anything personal, Bobby responded
amicably. We know that Thayer's voice is beyond all odds the best we
have heard for a three years. How do you do it, Thayer? You look as
calm as a Dutch dolly; but you manage to tear us all to bits. Even I
felt sanctified at your recital, and Miss Van Osdel's lashes were
freighted with unshed tears.
That must be one of your next week's scareheads, she objected. I
never cry in public where there are electric lights, Mr. Thayer; it's
horribly unbecoming to most women. But I did have to say a nonsense
rhyme over to myself, to keep steady.
Yes, I taught you that trick, Beatrix asserted suddenly. Lear is
very soothing in an emotional crisis. The Rubáiyát for
gooseflesh and Lear for tears is my rule. The Jumblies carried
me safely through the fifth act of Cyrano. But go on, Bobby. We
are nearly ready to change the subject.
Now take that recital of yours, Bobby pursued meditatively. You
were there to interpret Schubert and Franz and those fellows; but
nobody is talking about Schubert and Franz, to-day. It is all Thayer,
Cotton Mather Thayer, Baritone. It's all right enough. You did them
awfully well; but there's the Them in the background, and it's not
decent to forget Them.
Thayer laughed good-naturedly. It was impossible to take offence at
the mock seriousness of Bobby's harangue. Furthermore, it held its own
grain of truth, even though the grain was buried in an infinite amount
I do occasionally remember that there was a composer, he
suggested; and, in case of the dead ones, you need somebody to sing
Ye-es, Bobby replied grudgingly; and in case of the live ones,
too, sometimes. I have an idea that you make a good deal better noise
out of it than most of these old duffers would do. It is only that you
take all the glory for the whole business. The newsboys on the street
corners have no right to take the credit for my scareheads.
They are a self-respecting race, Bobby; they don't want to.
How unkind of you, Sally! But the cases are analogous. And my final
point, aside from professional jealousy, is the economy of time. You
grub longer over learning to sing a song than it takes the composer to
write it, and, when you're through, you've only reproduced somebody
else's ideas. Why can't you be original? Next time you feel musically
inclined, just say to yourself, 'Go to, now! Let us create!' It won't
take a bit longer, and really it's not hard to do. I know, because, you
see, I do it.
Bravo, Bobby! I am delighted to hear that you ever do anything.
At the new voice, Bobby whirled around and bowed himself into a
right angle, while Beatrix rose and crossed the room to greet the
Miss Gannion! What joy to see you!
Thayer's Russian blood received swift impressions; his Puritanism
made him weigh and measure with careful deliberation. Now, as he bowed
in acknowledgment of the introduction, he was conscious that in
Margaret Gannion he was meeting a woman who would bear either test. She
seemed to him one of the most strongly individual women he had ever
met; yet at the same time he had a comfortable sense of an infinite
number of points of mental contact. Later, he was destined to learn
that this sense was not imparted to himself alone. Margaret Gannion was
tangent to many lives.
What is the discussion? she inquired, as she seated herself.
No discussion at all, Miss Gannion. Bobby is doing a monologue on
music, and the rest of us can't get a word in edgewise.
Have you joined the ranks of the musicians, Bobby?
Yes, or the angels, Sally responded for him. Nothing else could
have such a fatal facility for harping on one string.
I was so sorry to lose your recital, Mr. Thayer, Miss Gannion
said, after a while, as she turned her steady brown eyes on the young
man. I was in Boston, that week, and I am told that I missed one of
the treats of the season. When am I to have another chance of hearing
Thayer hesitated for a moment, while his gray eyes met the brown
ones that seemed to be taking his mental measure. Apparently both were
satisfied with what they saw, for they exchanged a smile of sudden
understanding. Then Thayer's face grew grave.
Whenever you wish, he replied quietly.
Does that mean you will sing to me, myself? I should never have
dared hope for that.
Why not? That is, if you will let me bring Arlt with me. I dislike
to force him upon people; but he is the only accompanist I really
Beatrix looked up with a laugh.
You never asked if you might bring him here, Mr. Thayer.
Suddenly he rose.
May I take that as a hint, Miss Dane? I can play a few
accompaniments after a fashion. And, without waiting for the response
which was sure to come, he crossed the room to the piano.
He sang Schubert's Haiden Röslein and an American song or
two. The hush over the room deepened, as the last words fell on the
Oh barren gain! Oh bitter loss!
I kiss each bead, and strive at last to learn
To kiss the cross
And, in the midst of the stillness, he rose and quietly returned to
his old place by the fire.
It was long before anyone spoke. Then even Miss Gannion's level
voice jarred upon the silence.
You have a wonderful gift in your keeping, Mr. Thayer, was all she
But Beatrix was silent, her eyes fixed on the glowing coals. At
length she roused herself with an effort. Reverie was not permissible
for a hostess on her reception day. She came out of hers, to find that
the conversation had broken into duets. At one side of the table, Bobby
and Sally were sparring vivaciously; at the other, Miss Gannion and
Thayer had fallen into quiet talk about certain common friends and
about the simplest method of helping Arlt to gain the professional
recognition he deserved and needed.
I'm not potent at all, Miss Gannion said regretfully. I only know
people who are, and they are not always receptive in their minds.
Still, I may be able to do something, and he made a good impression at
Mrs. Lloyd Avalons's recital. In the meantime, bring him to my home,
some evening soon. Friday is my day; but, if you don't mind
Thayer understood her.
Arlt will like it a great deal better, and so shall I. He is a shy
fellow, and he never shows at his best, when too many people are
Miss Gannion's face betrayed her relief. She had not meant to seem
inhospitable; neither had she desired apparently to be scheming for a
free recital. It was a precarious matter, this establishing social
relations with a really great artist who had just expressed his
willingness to sing in private life. Miss Gannion's acquaintance was
large and of many lines; but Thayer was a new species to her, and she
had felt somewhat at a loss how to treat him, as artist or as mere man.
Thayer's answer inclined her to the latter alternative.
What about Saturday, then? she asked. I shall be at home, that
Please ask me, Miss Gannion, Bobby entreated.
Miss Gannion shook her head.
No; you are too much in evidence, Bobby. You would distract my mind
from Mr. Arlt, and this is his party, you know. Even Mr. Thayer is
subordinate. But, Beatrix child, where is Mr. Lorimer? I thought surely
I should find him here, to-day. I've not congratulated him yet. That
was one thing that brought me here.
Beatrix flushed a little.
Mr. Lorimer was called to Washington, last Thursday, she answered
so evenly that no one would have suspected the wondering annoyance
which his hasty note of explanation had caused her.
Then he was here for your recital. Miss Gannion turned back to
Thayer once more. Didn't someone tell me you were old friends, Mr.
Thayer? It must have been a very exhilarating night for him, this
American début of yours.
For the space of a minute, out of her four hearers, three were
holding their breath. Under the promise of the strictest secrecy, Bobby
had confided to Sally the story of the scene in the smoking-room; and,
like two conspirators, they had spent a long evening in stealthy
discussion of the best way to keep the matter from the ears of Beatrix.
Sally liked Lorimer; Bobby detested him, yet to neither of them had the
matter seemed of quite sufficient importance to justify a broken
engagement, and they were too well acquainted with the strict code of
Beatrix Dane to doubt what would be the outcome of the affair, if the
facts were to reach her ears. Sally was less mature, less aware of the
danger inherent in the situation, less strong in her condemnation of
what she termed friskiness. Bobby, with a shrug of his shoulders,
admitted that a man should not be condemned for a first offence, that
there was plenty of time to watch for a repetition of the affair, to
warn Beatrix then and to allow her to take her own course as seemed
good to her. Meanwhile, there was no use in disturbing her for nothing.
It might be a single slip, such as all men are liable to make. Of
course, as Sally argued, Lorimer had been under strong excitement, that
evening, partly by reason of his own newly-announced engagement, partly
by reason of the brilliant success of his friend. Lloyd Avalons was
just the man to take advantage of such a situation, and to think it a
huge piece of humorous hospitality to throw Lorimer off his guard.
Lloyd Avalons had never joined the camp of the prohibitionists,
himself, and he saw no reason for staying the appetites of his guests.
To his mind, that Sidney Lorimer could drink too much wine in his house
presupposed a certain intimacy. At least, if the incident were to be
mentioned, their names were bound to be bracketed with each other. Like
his wife, Lloyd Avalons possessed his social ambitions.
In the most accurate use of the words, Lorimer had not been drunk,
only intoxicated. When Thayer, with Bobby at his side, had appeared in
the door of the smoking-room, Lorimer had been more flushed, more
garrulous than was his wont, more inclined to the French doctrine of
equality and fraternity. In some moods, he would not have tolerated the
arm of Lloyd Avalons which now rested across the back of his chair.
The scene lasted only for an instant. Thayer went into the room,
accepted a dozen hot hands whose owners were trying rather incoherently
to congratulate him upon his success, waved aside the wine offered him,
and, with a word of excuse, bent down and spoke quietly to Lorimer.
Beg pardon, Mr. Avalons, he said shortly; but I have a message
for Mr. Lorimer. He is needed on business, and I shall have to take him
away. Please give my good-night to Mrs. Avalons. My cab is waiting, and
I can set Lorimer down at his club. And, with a bow, he had left the
room, with Lorimer sullenly following at his heels.
In Lorimer's room, Thayer broke the silence which had lasted during
their drive along the brilliantly-lighted Avenue. He had watched his
companion's face keenly and with an understanding born of similar
scenes, and he knew it would not be well to use many words. However, as
he was leaving Lorimer, he turned back.
This is once too often, Lorimer, he said briefly. You've somebody
besides yourself to think of now. If I were in your place, I would have
important business call me to Washington, in the morning, and I would
stay down there for a few days. It will give you time to think things
over, and find out just where you stand.
Miss Gannion nestled luxuriously back into the depths of her easy
Do you know, Mr. Thayer, it is a very wonderful experience, this
having a species of court musician?
He laughed the silent laugh she liked so well. It came from between
close-shut teeth; but it lighted his whole face.
As wonderful as it is to have a good listener who always
understands and rarely praises? he asked.
Under her thin, middle-aged skin, the flush rose to her cheeks,
turning them to the dainty likeness of youth.
You say very pleasant things.
True ones. If this keeps on, I shall begin using you as critic for
all my new songs.
Like the fabled dog? I wish you would. But, truly, I am not joking.
You are quite spoiling me for my usual diet of recitals. Do you realize
that, for the past two months, you have sung to me on an average of two
hours a week?
Thayer smiled contentedly down at her, as he sat by the piano, with
one muscular arm thrown across the rack.
Well, what of it? he inquired.
Nothing, except that people say you are refusing engagements.
A fellow must have a little time to enjoy his friends, he returned
coolly. I can't be expected to sing, six nights a week.
Your logic betrays your artistic nature. You have sung at five
recitals, this week. This is the sixth night; but you've not been
You know you wanted to hear Faust sung again.
Yes, and so did Mrs. Stanley want you to sing at her house.
He looked up sharply.
Who told you?
Arlt shouldn't tell tales. But I had three good reasons for
refusing: I don't like Mrs. Stanley; she doesn't treat Arlt as well as
she treats her pug dog, and moreover you had asked me to dinner. I
never sing after a good dinner.
But you mustn't refuse engagements.
I didn't. I kept one.
Engagements to sing, I mean. You seem to forget that you are a
All the more reason I should stop twinkling now and then. I can't
be on duty, the whole time. Besides, Miss Gannion, he rose from the
piano and came forward to her side; we can't give out, all the time.
We must stop occasionally to take something in, else our mental fuel
runs low. I wonder if you realize that this is the one place in New
York City where I can be entirely off my guard, entirely at home. A
place like this means a good deal to an isolated man.
I am very glad, she said quietly.
Most people forget that a public singer has a private personality,
he went on thoughtfully. We are supposed to divide our time into even
thirds, practising, singing and receiving compliments. It gets to be a
positive delight to discuss the weather and the fashion in neckties.
And to sing by the hour for your friends? she inquired.
It is our easiest way of speaking to them.
But, on the other hand, you are demoralizing me completely. You
have no idea what empty, formal affairs recitals seem to me now; they
are so impersonal. I feel like grumbling, because I can't talk over
each item of the programme with the one who does it. I said something
of the sort to Miss Dane, the other day; but she told me she always
dreaded the sound of a speaking voice after one of your songs.
She might have a species of choral service evolved for social use,
Thayer suggested dryly. The Gregorian tones would lend dignity even to
conventionalities, and they are quite within the powers of any
There was an interval of silence which Miss Gannion employed in
bringing herself back to the physical world around her. Thayer's
singing always swayed her profoundly; it gave her the impression of the
ultimate satisfaction of a wish which had haunted her whole life.
During the past two months, she and Thayer had established relations of
cordial friendship. They had met frequently in the world which already
was clamorous for Thayer's appearing, and Thayer was a frequent guest
at Miss Gannion's home. He always sang to her; it had become so much a
matter of routine that now he never waited for an invitation. Once
seated at the piano, talking and singing by turns, she allowed him to
follow out the bent of his mood; but, wherever it led him, she was
always conscious of the insistent, throbbing note which told her that,
underneath his self-control, there pulsed a fiery nature which was
curbed, but not yet tamed, that the day might come when the Puritan
would meet the Russian face to face, and the Russian would be dominant,
if only for one brief hour. And then? Often as she asked herself the
question, Margaret Gannion never swerved from her original answer. In
the end, the Puritan would rule. No man could so dominate others and
fail to dominate himself.
Thayer, meanwhile, had risen and was thoughtfully pacing the room.
Miss Gannion shook off the last of her reverie and turned to watch him.
What is it, Mr. Thayer? she inquired suddenly.
He came back to the fire and, deliberately moving the trinkets on
the mantel, made a place for his elbow. Then he hesitated, with his
clear, deep-set eyes resting on her face.
I think I am going to ask your advice, he said slowly.
Or my approval. It amounts to the same thing in a man.
It was a direct challenge, and it was made with deliberate
intention. Accustomed as she was to the semi-imaginary mental crises of
struggling, strenuous youth, she yet shrank from the intentness of
He ignored the challenge.
No; it is advice whether to act at all. Later, when I have acted,
it will be time to demand your approval.
But you may not like my advice.
Very possibly. I am not binding myself to follow it.
Her color came again this time not altogether from pleasure.
Then why do you ask it?
Because I need fresh light on the subject. As often as I go over
it, I find myself in a mental blind alley, and I am hoping that, if I
talk it over with you, I shall clear up my ideas and perhaps get some
His tone was dispassionate, yet kindly. With a pang, Miss Gannion
admitted to herself the futility of her ever hoping to gain so
impersonal an attitude. She was intensely feminine, which is to say,
intensely subjective. Talking to Thayer in his present mood gave her
the feeling that unexpectedly she had collided with an iceberg.
Glittering coldness is an admirable surface to watch; but not an
altogether comfortable one upon which to rest. The touch set her to
stinging, although she realized that the sting was out of all
proportion to the touch. She was silent, and Thayer went on,
You know the people, one of them much better than I do.
Then it is not about yourself?
Thayer shook his head.
I rarely ask help in solving my own problems, he replied. Then, as
he saw her face, he suddenly realized that he had hurt her in some
unknown fashion. That sounds rather brutal, he added; but, if you
will think it over a bit, you will see it is wise. I don't believe in
wasting words, and there is no real use in talking some things over. A
man knows he can't state his own problem impartially to someone else,
so of course he isn't going to trust someone else's solution of the
Her smile came back again.
No, she assented; but there is a certain comfort in talking
Not for me. If I have anything to do, I grit my teeth and do it,
and waste as little thought upon it as possible. Iteration makes good
into a bore. It is best to let it alone. And of bad, the less said, the
better, that is, when it is a matter of one's own personality. But now
I want to talk about Miss Dane.
Yes. I have felt anxious about her lately, and I haven't known
whether to keep still, or to speak. It all seems a good deal like
meddling, and I really know her so little.
It was unlike his usual directness to wander on in this fashion, and
Miss Gannion wondered. She started to speak; then she thought better of
it and leaned back in her chair. The ticking of the clock and the
snapping of the fire mingled in a staccato duet. A stick burned in two
and fell apart, with tiny, torch-like flames dancing on its upturned
ends. Methodically Thayer bent over and piled up the embers. Then he
And so I thought I would speak to you about it. You have known Miss
Dane always, and you know New York and how it looks at such things. I
imagine you take it more seriously, here in America. It is serious, God
knows, and yet it may not amount to anything.
Margaret Gannion straightened up and spoke with a sudden assumption
of dignity which seemed to add inches to her moral and physical
To what are you referring, Mr. Thayer?
I beg your pardon. I thought you knew. I am talking about Lorimer.
What about him?
Man as he was, Thayer flinched under her keen eyes. All at once, he
realized that Margaret Gannion included among her friends Beatrix Dane,
and that it was Margaret Gannion's habit to fight for her friends.
I had hoped you would understand without my putting it into so many
words. Lorimer has been my friend for years, and it seems rather
beastly to begin talking him over; but
But? Miss Gannion's tone was as hard and ringing as steel.
But he sometimes takes a little more wine than is altogether wise,
Thayer replied, with brief directness.
Miss Gannion dropped back in her chair.
Doesdoes he getdrunk? she questioned sharply.
No. That is too strong a word. He is imprudent, foolish. Still, one
never knows what may come.
Poor Beatrix! Miss Gannion said softly.
Thayer faced her again.
Understand me, Miss Gannion; I am not doing this for love of
gossip. Miss Dane is nothing to me, and I like Lorimer immensely. But
there is a good deal at stake, and I am not sure how much I ought to
leave to chance. Lorimer is one of the most lovable fellows in the
world, generous and loyal; but he is weak. He was born so; I fancy it
is in the blood. If Miss Dane is strong enough and has tact, perhaps
she can hold him steady. He can't be driven an inch; but he can be led
a long way.
Miss Gannion brushed her hair away from her face with an odd,
Wait, she said breathlessly. I love Beatrix, and it makes me slow
to take this in. How long has it been going on?
Thayer's lips tightened.
Ever since I have known him, he answered reluctantly.
No, comparatively little.
Well The lengthening of the word told its own story.
Does it increase?
His expression answered her, and she took the answer in perfect
silence. It was a full minute before she spoke again; but when she did
speak, her voice had the old, level intonation.
Are you willing to tell me just how far the trouble has gone, Mr.
It is a hard matter to measure. Lorimer drinks less than a good
many men; but it takes less to upset him. In Germany, the students all
drink, and he was with them. As a rule, he stopped in time, but
occasionally he was a little silly. Once or twice it was worse.
How much worse? The question was almost masculine in its direct
I helped him to bed.
She compressed her lips. Then,
Go on, she said.
I can't tell what happened while I was in Italy, and Lorimer had
left Berlin before I went back there, so I didn't see him till I came
to New York. At first, I thought he had stopped all that sort of thing.
His color was better, his hand steadier. I knew the temptation was less
here, and I hoped he was so taken up with Miss Dane that he wouldn't
have time to get into the wrong set. The night of the Lloyd Avalons's
recital, he was not quite himself, and I advised him to go to
Washington while the matter blew over.
Strange I didn't hear of it, Miss Gannion said thoughtfully.
Dane and I saw to it that the story shouldn't get outside the walls
of the smoking-room. Dane is a good fellow, and no fool. He got wind of
the trouble and came for me, and we hurried Lorimer away as fast as
possible. The next day, I began to hear of a supper or two where
Lorimer had been making himself a bit conspicuous.
And since then?
But twice is more than enough.
It shows that the trouble is still there, that one can't count on
his promises, Thayer assented gravely.
He does promise?
Yes, like a child. That is the pitiful part of it, pitiful and yet
exasperating. He admits his own weakness, and is sorry and ashamed, as
soon as he comes to himself. For a time, he is a model of caution and
sobriety. Then he blunders into the way of temptation and makes a mess
of it all. Unconsciously Thayer's voice betrayed his dislike of a
weakness of which he had no comprehension. An instant later, he seemed
to realize his own self-betrayal and he pulled himself up sharply. I
wish you knew Lorimer better, Miss Gannion. Then you would understand
why I am telling you all this. He is so loyal, so generous to his
friends, so full of talent. At Göttingen, they called him the most
brilliant American who had ever studied there, and he was by all odds
the most popular fellow of his time. His very popularity increased the
danger. As if he had been pleading his own cause, Thayer's voice was
full of earnest eagerness. Even in the midst of her anxiety and pain,
Miss Gannion felt the power of its flexible modulation; and her
half-formulated condemnation of Lorimer stayed itself.
Thayer broke the silence which followed, and his accent was resonant
There's no especial use in thrashing over the past. The present is
none too good; but my question is simply in relation to the future.
And the question is? Miss Gannion asked.
Whether we ought to tell Miss Dane, he answered briefly.
It will kill her. The feminine in Margaret Gannion was uppermost
Such wounds are more likely to mangle than to kill. Thayer spoke
She does love him, then? I didn't see how she could help it.
Margaret Gannion's hands shut on a fold of her skirt.
She loves him better than she loves her life; but she loves right
better than either.
And what is right?
I am not sure, she confessed weakly. I can't seem to analyze it
at all. What do you think?
That she ought to be told.
What good will it do?
At least, it will put her on her guard.
Against what? From your own showing, it is like fighting an unseen
enemy. One never knows when or where it will come. She will only be put
under a terrible nervous strain, faced by a fear that will haunt her,
day and night. Besides, she might break the engagement. Have you
thought of that?
It was of that I was thinking. She ought to have the facts, and be
allowed to face the alternatives before it is too late. Miss Gannion,
he turned upon her sharply; can't you realize the pain it is to me to
be saying this? I love Lorimer, love him as one man rarely loves
another. Perhaps I love him all the more for his lack of strength. But
that is no reason I should let him make havoc of a girl's whole life,
perhaps of other lives to come. Miss Dane loves him; moreover, she is
very proud. She is bound to suffer keenly on both scores.
Then you think
That the trouble is likely to increase.
And, if she breaks her engagement to him?
That it will increase all the faster. She has a strong hold on
And you would run the risk of loosing this hold, when you know the
danger to your friend?
Yes, when I see the danger to Miss Dane.
Miss Gannion's hands unclasped, and she looked up at him with the
pitiful, drooping lips of a frightened child. Like Thayer, she too
It is terrible, Mr. Thayer. I can see no way out of the trouble; it
stands on either side of the path. But do you think she could hold him,
if she were to try?
It is an open question. Lorimer is weak; but I am not sure how
strong she is, nor how patient. If she could steady him and forgive him
ninety-nine times, it is possible that, on the hundredth, she would
have nothing to forgive. But that is asking too much of a woman, that
she should sacrifice her pride and her hope to her loyalty and her
I think Beatrix would do it.
Perhaps. At least, though, she ought to have the right to choose
Once more Miss Gannion mastered herself.
I am not sure. You make the alternatives certain ruin and possible
salvation. I should cling to the chance.
And take the responsibility of silence?
It is a responsibility; but I should assume it for the present.
What we should say to her could never be unsaid. It might do good; it
might do terrible harm. It is possible that the truth may come to her
in some other way. I should certainly prefer that it might.
He bent over the fire for a moment. Then he straightened up and
threw back his shoulders, like a man relieved of the burden of a heavy
Then that is your final advice? he asked slowly.
She made answer just as slowly,
Mr. Thayer, I am growing older than I used to be, and things don't
look quite so plain to me as they did once. Motives mix themselves
more, and I am not so ready to put my finger on my neighbor's nerve. If
I were in your place, Irather think I should say my prayers, and then
I believe I should hate to have Mr. Thayer fall in love with me,
Sally observed thoughtfully.
I wouldn't worry about it yet, Bobby said unkindly. He yawned
twice, last night, while he was talking to you.
Sally's answer was prompt.
Yes, we were discussing you.
Why didn't you call me over to give you some points? It is the only
subject upon which I can speak with authority. But just think what a
lover Thayer would make, troubadouring around under windows!
Sally counted swiftly.
There are nineteen families in our hotel, Bobby, and thirteen of
them have marriageable daughters. Imagine the creaking of casements,
when Mr. Thayer warbled, 'Open the window to me, Love!' Troubadours
will do for the country; in town, one can heed only the impersonal
strains of the hurdy-gurdy. But really
Yes? Bobby's accent was encouraging.
If Mr. Thayer should fall in love and get engaged, what could the
girl call him? His name doesn't lend itself easily to endearments.
His mother ought to have thought of that, when she named him.
It is a case of visiting the father's sins upon the child of the
sixth generation. He is only Volume Seven in the series of Cotton
Bobby plunged his fists into his pockets.
That is a respectable custom; but a mighty stupid one. A fellow
oughtn't to be labelled like one of a class. Might as well catalogue
children, and done with it, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and so on through the
list of Thayers. Then, when he came to years of discretion, he could
pick for himself. Do you suppose I would have been Bobby, if I had been
What then? Beatrix asked, pausing in her talk with Lorimer.
Demosthenes Alphonso, of course. That's something worth while.
Demosthenes Alphonso Dane. D. A. D. Sally commented irrepressibly.
Then she swept across the room and, parting the curtains, peeped out
between them. Beatrix, the Philistines be upon you! Here comes Mrs.
Lloyd Avalons. Oh, why was I the first to come? As a rule, I believe in
the rotation of callers as implicitly as I do in the rotation of crops.
Bobby, you came next. How long do you mean to stay?
Till the almonds are gone, or till Beatrix turns me out, he
All right. Give me five minutes' warning. You can twirl your
thumbs, when it is time for me to start; but I am bound to see some of
Now, children, you must be good, Beatrix implored them hurriedly.
Bobby, do try to talk about something she can understand.
If you want to condemn me to the conversational limits of a mummy,
say so in plain Saxon, he retorted. How can I talk about something
that doesn't exist?
Bobby! Sally's tone was full of warning, as Beatrix rose to meet
Mrs. Lloyd Avalons had gained one distinct point in her social
training. She had learned to cross a room as if she were doing her
hostess a favor by appearing. Even Beatrix was impressed by the swift,
dainty sweep with which she came forward, and she cast a hasty thought
to the quality of her tea. Bobby, meanwhile, was taking mental stock of
Mrs. Lloyd Avalons's tailor and deciding that he could give points to
his own fellow. For a person who professed to ignore all such detail,
Bobby Dane was singularly critical of feminine dress, as Beatrix had
learned to her cost.
Seated by the tea-table, balancing a Sèvres cup in her hand, Mrs.
Lloyd Avalons appeared to be casting about in her mind for a subject of
conversation. Bobby came to her relief.
When you appeared, Mrs. Avalons, we were just speaking of mummies.
Have you seen the latest importation at the Metropolitan?
Mr. Dane! she remonstrated hastily. Do you suppose I
Certainly, Bobby assured her gravely. I often spend an hour
looking at them, and I always feel the better for the time passed in
their society. They remind me of the futility of earthly things, and
inspire me to higher aims.
Mrs. Lloyd Avalons smiled faintly.
You literary people have strange thoughts, she observed,
addressing the room at large. I have often thought I should like to
write, if I only had the time.
Why don't you? Bobby inquired blandly. The result would be sure
to be interesting.
But Beatrix interposed.
Are you as busy as ever, Mrs. Avalons?
Busier. It is such a bore to be in this perpetual rush; but I can't
seem to help it. Lent didn't bring me any rest, this year; and, now
that Easter is over, it seems to me that we are more gay than ever.
That is the penalty of having an early Easter, Sally suggested.
We had to stop for Lent in the middle of the season, and now we are
finishing up the sins of which we have already repented.
Ohyes, Mrs. Lloyd Avalons responded blankly.
Can you get all your arrears of penitence done up in six weeks,
Sally? Bobby asked, as he passed her the almonds.
Yes, if I've not seen too much of you, she returned. Mrs.
Avalons, when are you going to give us another recital?
Mrs. Lloyd Avalons rose to the cast.
Wasn't that a success? Mr. Thayer quite covered himself with
His mantle fell over some of the rest of us, and we gained lustre
from his glory. Sally's tone was slightly malicious.
He is certainly a great artist, and I am proud to have discovered
But I thought Mrs. Stanley discovered him. He sang for her first.
Mrs. Lloyd Avalons straightened in her chair. She had no intention
of allowing to Mrs. Stanley the prestige which belonged to herself.
Mrs. Stanley was several rounds farther up the social ladder than she
was, herself; but Mrs. Stanley lacked initiative and was rapidly losing
her start. In the seasons to come, she would find herself playing the
part of understudy to Mrs. Lloyd Avalons.
Oh, Mrs. Stanley heard he was to sing for me, and she cabled across
to him to take an earlier steamer and sing for her first. It was a
little tricky. What is it you call it in the business world, Mr. Dane?
A corner in Cotton, Bobby replied gravely.
Mrs. Lloyd Avalons thought she could see that the point of this joke
was directed against Mrs. Stanley, and she laughed rather more heartily
than good breeding required. In her mirth, she even bent forward in her
chair, writhing slightly to and fro, while her silken linings hissed
like angry snakes. Suddenly she realized that she had prolonged her
mirth beyond the limits of the others, and she straightened her face
But I am so glad the subject has come up, Miss Dane, she went on.
I was meaning to ask you whether you thought I could get Mr. Thayer to
sing for our Fresh Air Fund.
Really, I have no idea of Mr. Thayer's engagements, Beatrix said
But I thought you knew him so well.
Beatrix's face expressed her surprise.
I know him as I know any number of people, Mrs. Avalons. That
doesn't mean that Mr. Thayer consults me in regard to his plans.
Oh, no, Mrs. Lloyd Avalons responded vivaciously. But couldn't
you just say a good word for us?
I am afraid it wouldn't count for much.
Mrs. Lloyd Avalons raised her brows and made a delicate, pushing
gesture with her outspread palms.
You are too modest, Miss Dane. We all know your powers of
persuasion, and we are counting on you.
Who are we? Sally inquired, in flat curiosity.
Mrs. Van Bleeker and Mrs. Knickerbocker and I. We are the
committee, this year, and we are trying to have an uncommonly good
It must be very hard for you to work on a music committee with Mrs.
Van Bleeker, Bobby suggested. She doesn't know a fugue from a bass
viol, and she never hesitates to say so.
Therein she differs from most unmusical people, Sally responded,
in a swift aside. Even truthful people will fib valiantly, where music
is concerned, and go into raptures, when they have hard work to
suppress their yawns. It was a sorry day for music, when it became the
How droll you are, Miss Van Osdel! Mrs. Lloyd Avalons was nothing,
if not direct, in her personal comments. Then she answered Bobby. Even
if Mrs. Van Bleeker isn't really musical, it is a delight to work with
her, she is so very charming and so business-like. Strange as it may
seem, I actually take pleasure in our committee meetings, Mr. Dane.
I haven't the slightest doubt of it, Bobby responded, with
When is the concert to be, Mrs. Avalons? Beatrix asked hastily,
with a frown at her cousin who stared blandly back at her.
The first week in May, if we can possibly be ready for it. There
was so much, just before Lent, that we postponed it until after Easter.
Now we are no better off, for every day is full, so we are delaying it
again. We want to make it a large affair, don't you know, something
that will attract the swell set and the musical people, too.
If Bobby Dane hated one word in the language, that word was swell. Accordingly, he glared haughtily across the table at Mrs. Lloyd
Avalons, noting, as he did so, the scornful cadence of her voice over
the final phrase.
The two sets rarely mingle, Mrs. Avalons. Which is under your
Lorimer interposed hurriedly, for he felt the hostility in Bobby's
tone, and he was ignorant of the thickness of Mrs. Lloyd Avalons's
Both, I should say from the make-up of your recital, Mrs. Avalons.
Society and art both spelled themselves with capital letters, that
I am sure it is very kind of you to say so, she answered, while
her pleasure brought the first sincere note into her voice. I tried to
have something really good. But about this concert; we are to have a
soprano from the Metropolitan Opera House, and possibly a violinist,
and we want Mr. Thayer so much. Do you suppose we could get him?
It might depend a little upon the state of your finances, Bobby
Oh; but it is for charity, you know.
Yes, charity is supposed to be like molasses, sweet and cheap. It
isn't very nourishing to a professional man, though.
But Mr. Thayer is not poor.
That doesn't signify that he can give all his time for nothing,
Bobby answered rather warmly, considering that the question was utterly
impersonal. If he sang every day, all winter, for some charity or
other, he couldn't begin to get round in ten years. There ought to be a
new mission started, a Society for the Protection of Over-begged
But I am only asking him for one charity.
That's all anybody is supposed to do. The time hasn't come yet when
you syndicate the job, though I suppose it is only a matter of time.
Mrs. Lloyd Avalons looked at him distrustfully for a moment; then
she laughed with a dainty vagueness.
You are so amusing, Mr. Dane! One never really knows whether you're
in earnest or not. How many tickets did you say you would take?
One and a half, Sally advised, while Bobby stared at Mrs. Lloyd
Avalons in speechless disgust. He will go, and take me with him; but
newspaper men are always admitted at half-rates.
And you really think Mr. Thayer will sing for us? Mrs. Lloyd
Avalons went on, turning back to Beatrix. It will be an advantage to
him, in a way, to have sung under the auspices of our committee.
This time, even Beatrix felt herself antagonized. Thayer belonged to
her own class, and her class was scarcely of the type to need the
official social sanction of Mrs. Lloyd Avalons.
I have no idea at all in regard to the matter, she answered a
little coldly. Mr. Thayer appears to me to be able to hold his own,
without the backing of any committee. It simply depends upon his
But it is such a worthy object. And don't you think we could get
that little Arlt to fill in with?
From, by, in, or with charity, and to or for a charity? Bobby
Oh, of course, we couldn't pay him. There was a falling inflection
of the last word.
Then I should advise him to decline charity altogether, Bobby
It would be an advantage to him to play on such a programme, Mrs.
Lloyd Avalons asserted, as she set down her cup.
It would also be an advantage to him to get a little money, now and
Mrs. Lloyd Avalons raised her brows. They were daintily-marked
brows, and the expression suited her pretty, empty little face.
I think it is something for a man of no reputation at all to have a
chance to be heard in such a connection, she replied a little tartly.
Ye-es. Bobby rose with provoking deliberation. And it is also
possible, Mrs. Avalons, that when we are thankful even to be charted in
Woodlawn, Mr. Arlt's name may be a good deal better known than it is
now. Sally, we are due at the Stuyvesants', and I think we must tear
Out in the hall, he addressed himself to Sally.
For social pulleys, give me three: music, cheek, and charity, but
the greatest of these is ch
Charity, amended Sally promptly.
Bobby gloomily pulled himself into his overcoat.
Sally, I abhor that woman, he said.
If you once begin, there'll be no end to it, Bobby warned Thayer,
when he announced his intention of singing for the Fresh Air Fund.
I never yet found anything I couldn't end, when I tried, Thayer
Bobby eyed him askance.
Ever tackled Mrs. Lloyd Avalons's idiocy? he queried.
She is not the only one.
No; worse luck! But what makes you do it?
I approve the charity, and I happened to have a free night.
Moreover, it will give Arlt a chance to accompany.
But she won't pay him.
No, but I generally manage to pay my own accompanist.
Do you think he will gain from such a thing?
Crossing his knees comfortably, Thayer lighted the pipe he had been
filling, and took a tentative puff or two.
I don't know, he said dubiously. He ought to, but I can't seem to
discover the way to get on in this precious country of ours. Arlt is a
musician to the tips of his fingers; I have yet to hear a pianist in
the city to compare with him. And still, nobody manifests the least
interest in him.
Bobby contemplated the tip of his own cigar, bending his brows and
frowning as much from his optical angle as from his mental one.
He lacks the two P's, he said slowly; pull and personality.
Impatiently Thayer uncrossed his knees and crossed them in the
Do you mean that nothing else counts here? he demanded.
Precious little. A fellow has got to have good lungs for blowing
his own horn, else he is drowned in the general chorus. That's the
worst of music as a profession; personality is everything. You must be
perfect or peculiar. The latter alternative is the greater help. If
Arlt would grow a head of hair, or wear a dinner napkin instead of a
necktie, it would improve his chances wonderfully.
But, if the right people would take him up? Thayer suggested.
They won't; or, if they do, they'll drop him as a monkey drops a
hot chestnut. Arlt plays like an artist; but he blushes, and he forgets
to keep his cuffs in sight. He is as unworldly as he is conventional.
Society doesn't care to fuss with him.
Thayer looked grave.
I am having my own share of good times, Dane. It seems as if I
ought to be able
Bobby interrupted him.
You can't. No man can hoist his brother into success. It is bound
to be every man for himself. You can work over Arlt till the crack of
doom, and that's all the good it will do him. People will say 'How
noble of Mr. Thayer!' and they will burn moral tapers about your feet;
and meanwhile they'll leave Arlt sitting on the floor alone in the
Nevertheless, I think I shall keep on with the experiment, Thayer
Good luck go with you! But it won't. You can't make the next man's
reputation; he must do it for himself. All art is bound to be a bit
selfish; but music is the worst of the lot. I don't mean composing, of
course, but the interpreting end of it. It's such beastly personal
work; all the nooks and corners of your individuality show up across
the footlights. They are commented upon, and they have to pass muster.
Artistically, you and Arlt are as alike as two peas; personally, you
are positive, he is negative.'
There was a pause. Then Thayer said quietly,I think I shall sing
the Damrosch Danny Deever. It has a stunning accompaniment.
The committee of the Fresh Air Fund concert showed themselves a
potent trio, and their concert became recognized as the official finale
of the musical season. Their meetings had been fraught with interest,
for time, place and programme all came under detailed discussion. It
must be at a time neither too soon after Easter to collide with it, nor
too late to have a place in the season's gayety. The place must be
lofty enough to lure the world of fashion; yet not so lofty as to deter
the simpler folk to whom the white and gold of the Waldorf ballroom was
a mere name, as remote from their lives as the Petit Trianon.
The programme must be classic enough to satisfy the critic; yet tuneful
enough not to bore the amateur, and accordingly it roamed from Brahms
to Molloy, and included that first Slavonic Dance of Dvorák which sets
the pulses of Pagan and Philistine alike to tingling with a barbarous
joy in the mere consciousness of living. Thayer alone had refused to
accept dictation at the hands of the committee.
If I consent to sing, I must choose my own songs, he had said
quietly to Mrs. Lloyd Avalons, when she had suggested a modern French
love song in place of the Händel aria he had selected.
Oh, but it is so late in the season, and everybody is tired, she
had urged gayly. If we give them too heavy things on a warm night,
they may go to sleep.
Then I shall proceed to wake them up, he replied. And, for the
second number, the Danny Deever, I think.
Mr. Thayer! That grewsome thing! Why don't you sing My Desire, if you are so anxious for an American song?
I think Danny will be better. Then we will consider it
settled. And it was not until she was out on the stairs that Mrs.
Lloyd Avalons realized she had been defeated and then dismissed by the
man whose patroness she was assuming to be.
No matter, she reflected; we've got to pay Signora Cantabella,
and we can insist upon her singing something a little more digestible.
Mr. Thayer is cranky; but we get him and that little Arlt for nothing,
so I suppose we mustn't be too critical.
For once, Mrs. Lloyd Avalons showed her good sense. In all truth,
beggars should not be choosers, whether the alms be of bread crusts or
of high art.
Lorimer dined with Beatrix, that night. Contrary to the custom of
the Danes, they did not linger over the meal; and, as soon as they left
the table, Beatrix and Lorimer strolled away to the conservatory at the
back of the house. The yellow sunset light was still gilding the place,
and through the wide-open windows the night breeze crept in, softly
stirring the heavy palm leaves and scattering the scent of a few late
violets over all the air.
Refusing the seat which Lorimer silently pointed out to her, Beatrix
paced restlessly up and down the broad middle walk.
I think I am nervous, to-night, she said, with an odd little
laugh. I have been feeling, all day long, as if things were going to
Things generally do happen, Lorimer said lightly, as he sauntered
along by her side.
Yes; but something unusual, something uncanny.
Lorimer threw back his head and laughed.
I thought you derided presentiments, Beatrix.
She bit her lip.
I do, she said, after a pause. I know it is foolish, and I am
ashamed of myself; but I dread this recital, to-night, and I dread that
hateful Lloyd Avalons supper after it. Let's not go, Sidney.
Oh, but we must. Why not?
They are such impossible people.
I know; but everyone will understand that it is on Thayer's account
that we go, Beatrix. And he made such a point of it.
She drew a long breath.
If we mustBut I dread it. Do keep Mr. Avalons away from me,
As he looked down at the brown head which scarcely rose above his
lips, Lorimer's smile ceased to be whimsical and became inexpressibly
tender and winning.
Count on me, dear girl. He is a brute; but I won't let him go near
Impulsively she turned and faced him.
Sidney, she said, with a breathless catch in her voice; Sidney
Then, while she hesitated, she raised her hands and rested them on his
broad shoulders. Sidney dearest, do you know what it is to love as I
love you? It would kill me to have anything come in between us.
Startled by her overwrought nerves, he put his arm around her and
drew her head against his shoulder.
I know only one thing, Beatrix, he said gravely; nothing now can
come between us but death.
Diamond aigrettes and critical ears both were at the concert, that
night, mingled with a fair sprinkling of those to whom the charity
appealed far more than did the mere musical and worldly phases of the
affair. The little folded programmes were in a way typical of the whole
situation: one page containing the modest announcement of the Fresh Air
Fund concert, the next one the simple statement of the numbers of the
programme, while the third, in full-faced type bore the majestic list
of patronesses. Between his German and Italian fellow artists and his
polysyllabic Dutch sponsors, Thayer's name stood out in all the
aggressiveness of Puritan simplicity.
As a whole, the concert was as frothy as was the audience. The songs
glittered like the diamonds, and the orchestra played the Valkyries'
Ride with a cheerful abandonment of mirth.
Thayer is the only dignified member of the company, Bobby growled
into Sally's ears, as the last note of his aria died away. The rest of
them are doing tricks like a set of vaudeville artists. I expected that
violinist to play cadenzas with his violin held in the air above his
head. You don't catch Thayer dropping into such trick work.
He doesn't need to; he can 'scorn such a foe' to his heart's
content, for he is getting the applause of the evening. Does he sing
The very last number. It is an unusual place, to wind up a
programme after the orchestra is through; but I think he is equal to
Beatrix felt every nerve in her body tingling and throbbing, when
Thayer came out on the stage for the second time. As a whole, the
concert had not been inspiring to her; it had been too obviously
popular. Yet, at least, it had tended to relax her strained nerves.
Gade concertos are a species of mental gruel, easy to assimilate and
none too stimulating; but all the innate barbarism of humanity, all of
her nervous force responded to the clashing rhythm of the Slavonic
Dance, and the swift color came into her face and focussed itself in a
tiny circle in either cheek, as she listened. For the moment, she was
as fiercely defiant of fate as a Valkyrie flying forth to battle.
The mood was still upon her, as Thayer came striding out across the
stage. Arlt was beside him, for Thayer had refused an orchestral
accompaniment and had left Danny Deever in the hands of a
pianist. His choice had been a wise one for Arlt. The two of them had
spent hours over the song, and the young German surpassed himself in
the swift changes of motif until, as he left Danny's soul
freeing itself from the swinging body and took up the cheery theme of
the quickstep once more, even Thayer was relegated momentarily to the
background, as a mere librettist to the passionate fury of the
Again and again the applause broke out; again and again Thayer
insisted upon leading Arlt before the audience to make his bow; but
still the audience refused to be satisfied. Even the most graceful of
bows is not enough, when one is thoroughly aroused.
Play something, Arlt, Thayer ordered him at last.
Arlt shook his head.
It is for you they are calling.
Nonsense. This is your success; not mine.
Arlt demurred; but in the end he yielded and played one or two
numbers of Schumann's Papillon, played them like a true artist.
As he listened, Thayer held his breath. At last, Arlt's chance had
come, and he was making the most of it. The furore of a moment before
had been for Arlt more than for himself. Sad experience had taught him
the futility of Danny, unless it were adequately accompanied,
and the audience were discerning enough to give honor to whom honor was
due. Standing in the wings, Thayer exulted in each note which fell from
the boy's fingers, round and mellow and weighted with passionate
meaning. Arlt was betraying his hopes and fears more than he realized,
just then, and Thayer grew impatient for his closing phrase, that he
might hear the storm of applause which was bound to follow. He had not
counted upon the veering wind of popular interest which scattered the
storm, leaving only the gentle patter of a summer shower. The critics
applauded; but society applied its lorgnette to its eye and discovered
that, in his excitement, Arlt had neglected to make sure that his tie
was mathematically straight. The patter died away into silence. Then
the wind veered again and the storm broke out afresh, mingled with
cries of Thayer's name.
Arlt's lips worked nervously, as he joined Thayer in the wings.
It was you they wanted, after all, he said, with a pitiful attempt
at a smile.
Then they are damned fools, Thayer replied savagely; but his hand
was gentle, as he rested it on Arlt's shoulder.
The boy braced himself at the touch.
We must go back, he said.
Thayer hesitated, while his thoughts worked swiftly. There would be
a certain cruelty, to his mind, in forcing Arlt to appear again before
the audience which had just cut him so mercilessly. On the other hand,
it would be the part of childish pique for him to refuse to show
himself. Nevertheless, he needed Arlt's support. He disliked to play
his own accompaniments, and he felt that, in doing so, he risked
possible disaster. The hesitation lasted only for a moment. Then his
It's all right, Arlt, he said briefly. I am going to accompany
myself, this time.
As he crossed the stage, he glanced hastily from Bobby to Bobby's
cousin. Bobby was glowering at the audience and grumbling into Sally's
ear. Four rows in front of them, Beatrix sat silent at Lorimer's side.
The color had left her face again, and her eyes drooped heavily. It was
as if, in watching Arlt's overthrow, her old prescience of impending
disaster had come back upon her in fourfold measure, heightened by the
intensity of her exhilaration of a few moments before. When a quiet
woman is stirred from her usual poise, the pendulum of her nerves
swings in a long arc. The Dvorák dance had not deepened Sally's color;
the Damrosch song had not caused her to draw her white ostrich boa more
closely about her throat.
Thayer struck a vigorous major chord or two; then, with a sudden
memory of the dry glitter in Arlt's eyes, he modulated thoughtfully.
His own eyes rested again upon Beatrix during the few notes of the
introduction, and his mind went swiftly back to the day when he had
sung the same little song in her parlor. Half absently, his eyes were
still upon her face, as he came again to the closing words,
I kiss each bead, and strive at last to learn
To kiss the cross, sweetheart, to kiss the cross.
Unconsciously, uncontrollably, his eyes held hers, and he could see
the two great drops gather there, as she listened, her lips parted with
her deep, swift breathing. Then their eyes dropped apart, and the color
rushed into her cheeks while, with a sudden, impulsive gesture, she
slipped her hand into Lorimer's arm and pressed it until she felt the
returning, reassuring pressure.
Lorimer looked down at her with a smile.
Spooky again, dear girl? he asked, under cover of the applause
which had broken out madly once more. He is singing superbly,
to-night; but this last was wonderful. Something has rubbed him the
wrong way; I know that set of his jaw, and it always means that he will
be inspired to do his best. Queer thing; isn't it? If I were angry or
hurt, I should go to pieces completely; but it brings Thayer to his
feet, every time.
What do you think was the reason? Beatrix asked, with as great a
show of interest as she could command. The first lesson Mrs. Dane had
taught her child in preparation for her coming-out tea had been the
simple and obvious one that men were rarely minded to sympathize with
feminine moods; but that under all conditions a woman who seeks to
please, must adapt herself to the mental vagaries of her masculine
companion. Even Lorimer, tender and loving as he invariably showed
himself, was no exception to the rule.
It was Arlt's snubbing, Lorimer returned, as he rose. It was a
beastly thing to do. Arlt played superbly, and they might have treated
him with common courtesy. But there is no accounting for tastes. Thayer
is the hero of the evening, and people are too busy applauding him, to
have any time for lesser lights.
Do you think Mr. Arlt will ever succeed? she asked anxiously for,
through Thayer's efforts to bring them together, she had become
genuinely interested in the boy.
God knows, Lorimer answered, with a sudden gravity that became him
Later, that evening, Thayer joined Lorimer and Beatrix in a corner
of the Lloyd Avalons's music-room. Beatrix greeted him half shyly.
It was a new experience, she said, with an effort to speak
lightly. I thought I had learned to know your voice long ago; but I
have decided that I never really knew it, until to-night.
He stood looking down at her with a grave smile.
My voice isn't always reliable, Miss Dane. Once in a while, it
seems to run away with me. To-night, it took the bits in its teeth.
She felt compelled to raise her eyes to meet his.
I hope it won't do it too often. It is wonderful; but Then she
pulled herself together with a little laugh. It must be rather amusing
to you, Mr. Thayer, to watch your effect on your audience, and to know
that you can make them shiver or cry whenever you choose.
He refused to be won into the laugh for which she hoped.
It isn't whenever I choose, he responded, with unexpected
literalness. Sometimes I feel as if I were the victim of a sort of
possession. I believe I have a demon that inhabits my vocal cords upon
occasion. If he does get hold of me, I am merely a machine in his
hands. When I become my own manager again, I am never quite sure what I
may have been doing.
Something very good, to-night. But where is Mr. Arlt?
Thayer's face darkened.
Mrs. Lloyd Avalons neglected to invite him, he replied quietly.
Lorimer's lip curled.
If that isn't beyond the dreams of snobbishness, Thayer! Why did
you come to her old party, then?
Because I thought it would be too petty to stay away.
I would be petty, then. But, as far as that goes, Arlt's ancestors
were gentlemen, when hers were shovelling gravel for a dollar a day.
American democracy runs in strange grooves. Thayer, I am going to leave
Beatrix in your care for a few minutes. I promised Ned Carpenter I
would see him in the smoking-room, to make a date for his yachting
Thayer looked after him with a certain anxiety which clouded his
gray eyes and found a reflection in the face of his companion. The
cloud remained, although their talk went on as if nothing were amiss.
In fact, nothing was amiss; it was only that their nerves, jarred by
Arlt's failure, were looking for disaster upon every hand. For the time
being, each bead seemed tipped with its cross. Both felt it; both were
loath to acknowledge the feeling by so much as a look.
Suddenly Thayer roused himself.
Lorimer has been detained, Miss Dane, and we both are growing
hungry. May I take you to the dining-room?
Side by side, they crossed the floor, now almost deserted, and
reached the door of the dining-room whence came a confused noise of
buzzing tongues and clattering dishes. Then, above all else, Lorimer's
voice met their ears, a merry, laughing voice, but strangely thick as
regarded its consonants.
An' so, 's I was shayin', we wen' to Mory's, one ni', an' there was
Some unaccountable impulse made him raise his eyes just then. They
fell full upon Beatrix standing in the doorway, with Thayer at her
Beatrix's library was full of women, when Lorimer put in a tardy
appearance, the day after the Fresh Air Fund concert. A dozen little
tables littered with cards were pushed together in one corner, and the
tinkling of china and the hum of conversation betrayed the fact that
whist had given place to a more congenial method of passing the time.
Modern womanhood plays whist almost without ceasing; but it should be
noted that she frowns over the whist and reserves her smiles for her
more garrulous interludes.
Lorimer, as he stepped across the threshold, felt a sudden longing
to retreat. He had forgotten both the whist and the interlude, that
afternoon, and he felt no inclination to exchange verbal inanities with
a group of women of whom several had been at the Lloyd Avalons supper,
the night before. All of them, he was convinced, had heard of the
incident, and were covertly eying Beatrix to see whether she looked as
if she had slept well. His theory was justified by the fact that, for
the first time that season, not a substitute had been present.
Beatrix rose from the tea table, as he crossed the room towards her.
Her manner was a shade more alert than usual; but her eyes,
half-circled in heavy shadows, drooped before his eyes, as she gave him
her hand. He felt her fingers shake a little, and he could see the
color die out of her cheeks. Otherwise, there was nothing to mark their
meeting as in any way differing from any other meeting in the past. He
greeted the other women, accepted his cup of tea and took up his share
of the burden of conversation with apparent nonchalance.
The nonchalance was only apparent, however. Lorimer had sought
Beatrix, that day, much in the mood in which the naughty boy turns his
back to receive his allotted caning. The bad half-hour was bound to
come; it was best to have it over as soon as possible. Lorimer had gone
to bed, the night before, in a state of maudlin cheeriness. He had
wakened, that morning, feeling a heavy weight in his head and a heavier
one on his conscience. He had an unnecessarily clear recollection of
Beatrix's face as it had looked to him, the one sharply-outlined fact
across a misty distance peopled with vague shadows. The eyes had been
hurt and angry; but the lips showed only loving disappointment. All the
morning long, he had pondered upon the matter; but by noon he had made
his decision. The meeting was inevitable, so what was the use of trying
to put it off?
Well, Sidney? Beatrix said steadily, as soon as the last guest had
made her nervous, chattering exit.
With some degree of care, he had prepared his defensive argument;
but it had lost all its force and fervor by reason of the half-hour
spent in the roomful of women. Now he made a hasty effort to
reconstruct it, and failed.
I am sorry, he said, with simple humility.
Unconsciously, each had taken the best method to disarm the other.
Before scornful, angry denunciation, he could have burst out into
voluble explanation and defence which, in its turn, would have
antagonized Beatrix beyond any possibility of relenting. For the
unpardonable sin, forgiveness must be a free gift. Confronted by
excuses, Beatrix would have been unyielding. In the face of his
humility, she hesitated to speak the final condemnation, and instinct
taught her that feminine reproaches were worse than futile in the face
of a real crisis.
[Illustration: 'Can't you make any sort of an excuse for yourself,
Sidney?' she demanded"]
How did you happen to do it, Sidney? she asked quietly, as she
seated herself again beside the deserted tea table and began absently
setting the disordered cups into straight rows.
He raised his eyes from the carpet.
Because I was a brute, he said briefly.
Methodically she sorted out the spoons in two little piles. Then,
pushing them together into a disorderly heap, she started to her feet
and faced him.
Can't you make any sort of an excuse for yourself, Sidney? she
demanded, and there was a desperate ring to her words.
He shook his head.
I can't see any, he replied, after an interval. Suddenly he
laughed harshly. Unless you count total depravity, he added.
She ignored the laugh.
I suppose you know, then, what this means, she said slowly, so
slowly that it seemed as if each word caught in her throat.
His face whitened and he started to speak; but his voice failed him.
He bowed in silence.
I am sorry, she went on, while the cords in her clasped hands
stood out like bits of rattan; perhaps I am more sorry than you are;
but there seems to be nothing else that I can do. Last night was the
tragedy of my life; to-day is the hardest, the longest day I have ever
Bending forward, he took up one of the spoons from the table and
looked at it intently for a moment. Under his mustache his lips worked
nervously, and Beatrix saw the moisture gather in great drops upon his
forehead. Fortunately she could not see his eyes, for their long lashes
veiled them. It was better so; she could hold herself more steady.
There was a certain mercilessness in the way she waited for him to
break the silence.
Is it final? he asked at length. I wish you would give me another
I have given you too many, as it is, she replied sadly.
He looked up at her, too much startled now to care whether or not
she saw the tell-tale tears.
How do you mean?
That last night only confirmed what I have been suspecting and
dreading. This time, there came the scornful note he had so feared.
He dropped his eyes again, and accepted the condemnation in silence.
If she knew the whole truth, there was no need of arguing with her over
the details. The spoon snapped in two in his hands. He rose and tossed
the fragments into the fire.
Where are you going? Beatrix asked.
Straight to the devil. His accent was hard, but perfectly quiet,
the accent of a desperate man, not of a reckless boy.
Up to the last moment, she had expected that he would seek to
justify himself, would ask her to explain her decision and to modify
it. This grim, silent acceptance of his fate terrified her. It seemed
to throw upon her shoulders all the responsibility of an action which
in itself was right, yet possibly burdened with consequences dangerous
to another. For herself, for the killing of her own great love, Beatrix
never wavered. It was her own affair and concerned herself alone. But
she knew that Lorimer loved her, and all at once she realized that her
sudden rejection of his love was bound to bring forth bitter fruit.
During the time it took him to cross the floor, she was swiftly
weighing her duty to herself against her duty to her neighbor. She was
bound to send him away; but was she equally bound to send him away like
a beaten dog, without a word of explanation or of pity?
He had reached the door; but, at her call, he hesitated and looked
You understand why I am doing this?
Yes, he said bitterly; I understand only too well.
And you think I am justified?
He faced about squarely.
Good God, Beatrix, when you have stabbed a man to death, don't
grind the knife round and round, and ask him if he feels it! Let him
make as plucky an exit as he can.
His words broke the strain she had put upon herself.
I didn't meanI didn't suppose she faltered. Then she dropped
into a chair and covered her face with her hands.
Lorimer turned to the door again, halted irresolutely, then went
back to her side.
I can't go away and leave you like this, dear girl, he said, as he
bent over her. It isn't going to be easy for either of us; it is bound
to leave a terrible scar on our lives. But, if it is the only thing you
can do: at least, can't we say a decent good-by to each other?
She took down her hands, drew a long breath and looked up at him;
but she was unable to meet the look in his eyes, the loving, hungry
look which she had learned to know so well.
We have loved each other, dear girl. I have been better and
stronger for your love. I only wish it might have lasted, for in time
it might have made me quite steady. But I am glad I have had so much.
Whatever the future has for me, at least I have had something in the
The hardness had left his tone, and the passionate, bitter ring.
There was nothing now but the note of utter sadness. Beatrix trembled
for herself, for the fate of her resolve, as she heard it.
But I couldn't hold you, Sidney.
No, dear; perhaps not. But you held me more than you knew. You only
saw the times I slipped; you never had any idea of the times I nearly
went under, and pulled myself up again for your sake. If it hadn't been
for you and Thayer, for Thayer before I ever saw you, dear, I should
have gone under long ago. Now Thayer will have it all to do.
There was no reproach in his voice. He seemed to be merely stating
the fact, not entirely for her ears, but as if he were trying to
accustom himself to the thought of all which it implied. Suddenly his
shoulders straightened; his tone grew resonant; his words came more
It is in my blood, Beatrix. My mother was weak, and I am weaker
still. I know the danger; I see it and I tell myself that I must fight
shy of it. For a while I do fight shy of it, till I get off my guard
and think I am quite safe. The next thing I know, it has cropped out
again, and I haven't the nerve to face it and knock it over. It knocks
me over, instead, and each knock is just a little harder than the one
before it has been. I realize it, and I try to down it; but that's all
the good it does. I am weak, Beatrix, weak and selfish. I honestly
think it is harder for me to keep steady than it would be for Thayer,
or even for Bobby. The taint is in me. I don't mean that it is any
excuse for my making a brute of myself; but, if there is any pity in
God, he must give a little bit of it to us fellows, born weak,
realizing our weakness and truly meaning to fight it, and yet giving in
to it again and again.
There is pity in God, Sidney, she said drearily; but pity can't
do any good in a case like this. You need help, not pity.
The help of man? he asked bitterly. Who will give it? They are
too busy saving themselves.
There is only one man who can help you.
No; yourself. Sidney, I hate to discuss this thing, for it has come
between us and spoiled life for us both; but you have no right to
depend on Mr. Thayer as you do. You aren't a child, and you can fight
your own way out of this.
What's the use now?
Use! Everything. Your whole manhood.
But in the end? What does it all amount to?
Surely, you aren't child enough to need a bribe? she asked in
Her scorn stung him to rapid speech.
Beatrix, ever since I turned into manhood, I have known this danger
of mine, and I have tried to fight it for the sake of the woman I might
love, some day. Laugh, if you will. Perhaps it is funny; but it has a
certain pitiful side to it, this trying to keep one's self clean for
the sake of the woman one has never yet seen. Then, last fall, I did
see her. Since then, the fight has been easier; perhaps I've not lost
so many battles. It all seemed more worth while. And now
And now? Her voice was almost inaudible.
Now I have had it all and lost it, lost it through my own fault,
and there doesn't seem to be anything left worth fighting for.
There was a long silence. At length, Beatrix rose.
Sidney, she said, as she slowly held out both hands to him; shall
we fight side by side for a little longer?
I've manufactured a new definition of happiness, Sally said to
Bobby Dane, six months later.
Think with the mob.
Who has rubbed you the wrong way, this time? Bobby queried
Everybody. I am so tired of hearing people praise Beatrix for
marrying Sidney Lorimer.
Bobby halted and shook hands with her, to the manifest wonder of the
post-ecclesiastical Fifth Avenue throng.
That's where even your head is level, Sally, he said, as he
resumed his stroll. Do you want to know what I think of her?
If you agree with me; not otherwise. I hate arguments, and,
besides, it is bad form to condemn one's dearest friend. But keeping
still so long has nearly driven me to
Tetanus, Bobby suggested. Well, my impression of Beatrix is that
she is a bally idiot. I don't know just what bally means; but
our English brethren apply it in critical cases, and so it is sure to
be right. Yes, I think Beatrix is very bally indeed.
Then you don't approve, either?
Me? I? I have hated Lorimer from the start.
I haven't, Sally said, after a thoughtful interval. I liked him
You never saw him at the club, Bobby returned briefly.
What did he do there?
I don't know. He just wasn't right.
Sally paced along meditatively at his side.
Bobby, you are a critical being, she observed at length.
Mayhap. But the event justifies me. I never have liked Lorimer, and
I never shall.
What are you going to do about it?
Bobby opened his hands and turned them palm downwards.
There's nothing to be done. I hate to see Beatrix throw herself
away; but I can't help it.
I wonder what her idea is, Sally said thoughtfully. She has
always been so down upon any fastness that I supposed she would cut his
acquaintance entirely, after that Lloyd Avalons supper.
He acted an awful cad, that night. Bobby's tone was disdainful. I
helped get him home and, before he was fairly out of the dining-room,
he was bragging about his family, and his money, and the Lord knows
Yes, I heard him. Beatrix heard some of it, too, before Mr. Thayer
took her away. I was at her house, the next afternoon, when Mr. Lorimer
called, and I was sure she would break her engagement there and then.
Put not your faith in the principles of a woman in love.
Confound her principles! That's what is the matter with her, Bobby
growled. I had always supposed that Beatrix was a reasonable girl; but
no girl in her senses would tackle the job of marrying Sidney Lorimer
to reform him.
When I do it, I'll reverse things and reform the man to marry him,
Sally returned shrewdly.
Bobby raised his brows.
The first time you've ever warned me that I was on probation,
I said a man, not a boy, she replied unkindly. But, after all,
Mr. Lorimer has been perfectly steady, all summer long.
Mmyes, after a fashion. Of course, he would do his best, for I
will do him the justice to admit that he loves Beatrix with all the
manhood there is in him. To be sure, that's not saying much.
You aren't quite fair to him, Bobby. He must have some manhood in
him, to have steadied down as much as he has done, this summer.
Bobby shrugged his shoulders.
He is playing for high stakes, Sally, and he can afford to be
careful. Any slip now would prove to be the losing of the whole game.
Wait a year and see.
Then you think
That his reform is skin deep, and that, like all other serpents, he
sloughs his skin once a year.
Don't make fun of me because I was named for a spinster aunt. I
can't help my name.
No; it's past help. I'd change it, if I were you. Just think how it
would sound at the altar, while the alteration was going on! 'I, Sarah
Maria, take thee'
Sally interposed hurriedly.
But, to go back to Beatrix, if you feel in this way about Mr.
Lorimer, why don't you do something about it?
Do what, for example?
Speak to her father, or something.
Bobby's answer had an accent of utter gravity which somehow belied
the frivolous form of his words.
Sally, I'll give you a new proverb, one I have found useful at
times. Put not thy finger into thy neighbor's pie, lest it get stuck
For the next few blocks, the silence between them was unbroken.
Sally nodded to an occasional acquaintance, and Bobby, without lifting
his eyes from the ground, seconded her salute with the mechanical
raising of his hat which good breeding demands. Few conventions are
more exasperatingly impersonal than the bow and smile of the average
But I love Beatrix, Sally said inconsequently, after an interval.
For the moment, both voices had lost their customary tone of light
banter. Bobby broke the next pause.
Couldn't you say something, Sally?
I wish I could; but it is no use. Beatrix hasn't the least respect
for my opinion. She thinks I am only a child, and, moreover, once upon
a time, I urged her to marry Mr. Lorimer. Of course, that was before
any of this came out about him; but I hate to go into details with her,
and, if I don't she will think it's nothing but a whim.
What do you care what she thinks?
Sally shifted her eyes from the apartment houses on Eighth Avenue to
Bobby, I am afraid of Beatrix, she confessed. She is built on a
larger frame than I am, and we both of us are quite aware of the fact.
It may be a part of her capacious frame to risk her life in
marrying Sidney Lorimer, Bobby grumbled; but, for my part, I prefer
Sally faced him suddenly.
Bobby! You don't mean you think he will kill her sometime when he
No such luck! In the intervals, he will adore her and treat her
like a princess; but he won't spare her the anxiety and the shame of
knowing he is liable to take too much at any reception to which they
may send an acceptance. You haven't seen men as I have, Sally; you
don't know how far they can make babbling fools of themselves, without
being absolutely drunk. To a girl like Beatrix, the shame of it when it
does occur, and the fear of the shame, when it doesn't, would be worse
than sudden death. That gets over and done with; the other hangs on and
grows worse and worse to an endless end.
And you think there's no cure?
Once more Bobby shrugged his shoulders.
I wouldn't take any chances.
You think Beatrix can't hold him?
She can for a time; but there's no knowing how long the time will
last. Any medicine loses its effect, if it is repeated often enough.
What about Mr. Thayer?
He has more power over Lorimer than anyone else; but he has his own
professional life before him, and it won't be long before New York has
a small share of his time. He isn't going to give up a grand success
for the sake of playing keeper to Sidney Lorimer.
I think he is fully capable of the sacrifice.
Capable, yes. But it would be a sin to allow it; it would be
spoiling a saint to patch up a sinner. Thayer's future is too broad to
be limited by a futile creature like Lorimer. If he turns Quixotic,
I'll poison him. At least, that will ensure his dying in the full tide
of professional success.
Ye-es, Sally answered thoughtfully; but, do you know, Mr. Thayer
is so perfectly organized that I have an idea he could swallow a
certain amount of poison and come out of it unharmed, if his will were
really bent upon accomplishing some definite end.
There was another interval. It was Sally's turn to break it.
Bobby, does it occur to you that we are just exactly where we
started? We both hate Mr. Lorimer; we hate the idea of his marrying
Beatrix, and neither one of us dares interfere. Let's go and talk to
What's the use?
To clear out our mental ganglia. At least, by the time we have been
over it with her, we shall know what we think, and there's a certain
satisfaction in that.
I know just what I think about it now.
What do you think?
Damn, Bobby replied concisely.
They found Miss Gannion alone before the fire. She threw down her
book and welcomed them cordially.
I had an indolent fit, to-day, she said, as she drew some chairs
up before the hearth. Once in a while, I prefer to dismiss my clerical
adviser and settle my problems to suit myself. To be sure, I am quite
likely to settle them wrongly; but that renews my confidence in
churchly methods, so some good is gained, after all.
Bobby deliberately placed himself in the chair which long experience
of Miss Gannion's house had taught him best fitted the angles of his
We came to have you settle a problem for us, he said; so we are
glad your hand is in.
And the problem, Sally added; is Beatrix.
What about Beatrix? Miss Gannion asked.
She is going to marry Sidney Lorimer, and she mustn't. Please tell
us how we are going to prevent it.
Miss Gannion sat still for a moment, with her clear eyes fixed on
the glowing embers.
Are you sure that it would be best to prevent it? she asked then.
Bobby started to his feet, faced about, and stood looking down at
the little figure of his hostess.
Miss Gannion, Beatrix and I have been chums ever since we could go
alone. In fact, we learned to go alone by hanging on to each other's
hands. I love her as a fellow without any sisters is bound to love a
girl cousin; and I'll be blest if I can keep quiet and see her throw
Have you spoken to her about it?
I don't dare, Bobby returned bluntly. I know I should end by
losing my temper and saying things about Lorimer. I wouldn't hurt
Beatrix for the world, and I believe she honestly thinks she is doing
the Lord's own work in not throwing Lorimer over.
Perhaps she may be, Miss Gannion said gently.
Miss Gannion! Well, if she is, I shall have to revise my notions of
the Lord, Bobby responded hotly.
Miss Gannion's smile never wavered. She knew Bobby Dane too well to
resent his occasional outbursts.
Bobby, my dear boy, she said, with the maternal accent she assumed
at times; this isn't too easy a problem for any of us; but the hardest
part of its solution is coming on Beatrix. It's not an easy place to
put a woman with a conscience. The old-fashioned idea was to marry a
man to reform him; the new-fashioned practice is to wash your hands of
him altogether, as soon as he makes a single slip. The middle course is
the most difficult one to take and the most thankless. Any good woman
is sure to have a strong hold on the man who loves her; and, in times
of real danger, she is afraid to let go that hold.
Bobby shook his head.
That's Beatrix all over, Miss Gannion. But it will take a mighty
strong grip to haul Lorimer across to firm ground.
I realize that.
But the question is, does Beatrix realize it, too, Sally said
Better than we can. I think she has measured both the danger and
her own strength.
Bobby took a turn or two up and down the room. Then he came back to
She can't do it, he said conclusively. The odds are all against
her. Lorimer can't pull her down, of course; but he can tug and tug
till he has used up all her strength and she has to let him go. And
then what? Miss Gannion, do you honestly think it worth the while?
No; I do not, she said reluctantly.
Then why the deuce do you argue for it? he asked, with a
recurrence of his former temper. I beg your pardon, Miss Gannion; but
this maddens me, and I came here to have you help me find a way out.
Instead, you are in favor of Beatrix's signing her own death warrant.
No, she said slowly. Down in my heart of hearts, I think it is
all a mistake, a terrible mistake; and I have tried in vain to find a
way to prevent it. Then, each time I think it over, I am afraid to
prevent it, because it seems to me that Beatrix's mistake is just a
little bit nobler than the safe course which we ourselves would take.
Have you heard Mr. Thayer say what he thinks about it? Sally
Sally's eyes were under less subjection than her tongue, and Miss
Gannion answered the question they so plainly asked.
Long ago, before the night of the concert, even, Mr. Thayer spoke
of the matter to me. Since then he has never mentioned it.
I wish you would ask him what he thinks now, Sally said bluntly.
He knows Mr. Lorimer better than any of us do, and he should be able
to judge what we ought to do about it.
The honest fact is, Bobby broke in thoughtfully; we can't one of
us do a solitary thing about it, but get together and grumble. Beatrix
hasn't a clinging, confiding nature; she makes up her own mind and she
doesn't change it easily. If she has decided to marry Lorimer, we can
kneel in a ring at her feet and shed tears by the pint, and all the
good it will do us will be the chance of making her die of pneumonia
caused by the surrounding dampness. But it's a beastly shame! I'd
rather she married Arlt and done with it. If you've got to form a
character, it's better to start in while the character is young.
Miss Gannion caught at the opportunity for a digression.
Mr. Arlt is coming to lunch, she observed.
To-day? I didn't know he was back in town.
He came last night.
Was Mr. Thayer with him?
No; Mr. Thayer sings in Boston, last night and to-night. He sent me
a note, saying I might expect him to dinner on Tuesday.
I wonder what success Mr. Arlt has had.
Mr. Thayer sent me some criticisms. They were very enthusiastic, as
far as they went; but that was only a few lines.
And the rest of the criticism probably concerned itself with
Thayer, and was discreetly cut away, Bobby said, as he dropped back
into his chair. Miss Gannion, Arlt is on the steps, and you have not
invited us to stay to lunch, so we must take a reluctant departure.
Before I go, though, I'd like to ask one favor. When Thayer comes,
Tuesday night, are you willing to talk the whole matter over with him
and see what he thinks about it now? There would be a certain
consolation to me in knowing that he disapproved the affair, and he may
possibly suggest some way of breaking it off.
Possibly, Miss Gannion assented; unless it is already too late.
The words were still ringing in the air, when Arlt came into the
room. They were still ringing in Bobby's ears, ten minutes later, when
he and Sally took their leave.
My mental ganglia are cleared, Bobby said disconsolately, as they
went down the steps. I now see that there is precisely one thing for
us to do, and only one.
What is that?
To grin and bear it.
Beatrix's principles extended even to the point of observing her day
at home. Society was bidden, the next afternoon, to a tea at Mrs.
Stanley's, and Beatrix was absolutely certain that none of her friends
would cross the intervening forty blocks in order to look in upon her,
going or coming. In her secret heart, she longed to follow society;
instead, she was sitting in solitude, when Thayer was announced.
She rose to greet him with a cordial friendliness, for the past six
months had made a great change in their outward relations. They had
liked each other from the day of Mrs. Stanley's recital, and the liking
had increased with each subsequent meeting. During the next few weeks,
they had met often. Lorimer insisted upon going to every recital at
which Thayer was to sing, and under his guidance Beatrix had gained a
fair idea of what went on behind the scenes. Thayer, meanwhile, had
swiftly assumed his own place in society, and discerning hostesses
generally found it well to put him near to Beatrix at dinner. Owing to
his many evening engagements, Thayer usually ate but sparingly, so it
was all the more necessary that he should be placed within range of
someone with whom he cared to talk. He rarely lent himself to the usual
run of social badinage; but retired into his shell whenever it became
the dominant note of the conversation. A man of his bulk and prominence
and potential boredom was an object of hospitable consideration. He
could always talk to Beatrix, for she never chattered. Therefore he was
generally to be found somewhere within the conversational radius of
The tea table of Beatrix, moreover, had become one of the focal
points of his New York life. He liked the cheery, informal atmosphere
of the house whose old-fashioned austerity was tempered with a dash of
modern frivolity; he liked the people he met there, people too assured
of their own social position to be touchy upon slight points of social
precedence. Most of all, he liked Beatrix Dane, herself. In the gay,
chattering multitude among whom she moved, her own steadfast quietness
stood out in bold relief, and it answered to certain traits of his own
Puritanism. It was not that she was dull, or overfreighted with
conscience. She frisked with the others of her kind; but her friskiness
was intermittent and never frivolous. To Beatrix Dane, pleasure was an
interlude, never the sole end and aim of life. And, on her own side,
Beatrix felt a thorough admiration for the clean-minded, clean-bodied
singer, a thorough reliance upon his judgment and upon his loyalty to
anyone to whom he vouchsafed his friendship.
This had been the relation between them, on the evening of the
concert for the Fresh Air Fund, a relation whose cordial
matter-of-factness was in no way disturbed by the potent spell of
Thayer's voice. Beatrix had spent much of her life in the open air; she
was too healthy to be given to self-analysis. She admitted to herself
the wonderful power of Thayer's voice, the passionate appeal of certain
of his songs; but she made a curiously sharp distinction between the
man and the voice. The one might be a strong guiding force in the
current of her life; the other was a rising tide that swept her from
her moorings and left her drifting to and fro over stormy seas. On the
night of the Fresh Air Fund concert, for the first time in her
experience, these two personalities had become inextricably
intermingled. As she had said, she had never before realized the
possibilities of either Thayer or his voice.
Everything had conspired to produce the impression. All day long,
she had been haunted by a nervous, nameless dread. The vague hints and
signs of the past months had suddenly gathered to a nucleus of anxiety
and alarm, and, in spite of her rigid self-control, she had been
terrified into giving the one outcry, partly to satisfy her feminine
need for sympathy, partly with the hope of putting Lorimer upon his
guard. The sympathy had come, prompt and loving; the warning had been
Music ought to be taken with fasting and prayer. Quiet nerves and a
full stomach are deaf to its deepest meaning. To most of the audience,
Honor and Arms stood as a superb piece of vocal gymnastics; to
Beatrix, Thayer was like a live wire, pulsing with a virile scorn of
any but uneven contests, defiant only of those mightier than himself.
To her mind, he was ready to court heavy odds, bound to conquer them,
one and all; and her own pulses beat faster in time to the
half-barbarous outburst which ends the great aria. The Gade concerto,
instead of soothing her, had only exasperated her. She longed to get
behind the violinist and the orchestra and even the composer himself,
and goad them into some tenseness of emotion. But the Slavonic Dance
had set her heart bounding once more, until her very finger tips
tingled with the blood racing through them, and the clashing cymbals
had seemed scarcely louder than the ringing of her own ears. The rest
had been only the natural sequel; Danny and Arlt's failure had
led inevitably up to the finale when Thayer's eyes, burning with that
new, strange light, had held her own eyes captive while he had sounded
the tragic note which dominates all human love.
And the finale had not been final, after all. She had had a vague
presentiment that the cross might be at the end; she had been totally
unprepared to find it pressed to her lips, that selfsame night.
With a swift excuse, Thayer had hurried her back into the
music-room; but he had not been able to prevent that one instant when
Beatrix had found herself face to face with a Lorimer she had never
known till then. Though her eyes had betrayed her horror of the scene,
she had kept her voice steady as she asked Thayer to call her carriage
and to say her farewells to her hostess.
Thayer went with her to her own door. Neither of them spoke until
they stood on the steps; then Thayer cleared his throat, but even then
his voice was husky.
It may not be as bad as you think, Miss Dane, he said slowly.
As if with a physical effort, she raised her eyes to his.
Perhaps not, she assented; but I can think of nothing worse.
It took Thayer two weeks to gather together his courage to see her
again. He too had been shaken by the events of the evening. His Slav
blood, kindled by the Dvorák dance, fired by his anger for Arlt, had
blazed up into a fury of scorn and hatred against the man who would so
allow his own weakness to stab another's strength. Lorimer, in Bobby
Dane's cab and under the lash of Bobby's energetic tongue, was out of
Thayer's way; but, as Thayer stood looking down at the face, whiter
than the fluffy white fur of her cloak, he had felt a momentary longing
to take Beatrix into his arms and, holding her there, to protect her
from Lorimer and from the danger that was threatening her whole
happiness. The moment passed and with it the longing; but, unknown to
himself, it had done its work. It had broken out the beginning of a new
channel; it had prepared the way for a new trend of thought.
Bobby Dane told him what had actually passed between himself and
Lorimer on the way home, what had probably occurred, the next day,
between Lorimer and Beatrix. Thayer waited before calling until he
hoped the memory of what had passed was so remote that neither he nor
Beatrix would think of it again. Nevertheless, though Beatrix was
surrounded by callers and upon her guard, the eyes of both drooped
before the sudden consciousness of having faced a crisis side by side.
According to their annual custom, the Danes went to their cottage at
Monomoy, the first of July, and Lorimer took up his quarters at the
hotel, less than a mile away. Two weeks later, Thayer and Arlt joined
him there. Lorimer had been urgent for Thayer's coming, and Thayer,
upon thinking the matter over, could see no valid reason for refusal.
Miss Gannion was on the way to Alaska, that summer, and, next to her,
the Danes were the closest friends he had made during his first season
in New York. It was only natural that he should arrange his plans in
order to be near them. Moreover, the idle life on the island sounded
attractive, and he was fully aware of the fact that his constant
companionship would be a strong hold upon Lorimer. All in all, he
decided to go.
He took Arlt with him, on the plea of requiring an accompanist for
the new songs he was studying. The boy needed the change. The stress of
New York life was wearing upon him; the consciousness of comparative
failure had disheartened him. He needed the tonic of sea air and of
idleness and of contact with inartistic, care-free humanity.
Furthermore, Thayer felt that he himself might need the tonic of the
simple-hearted affection of the young German. The world about him was
too complex. There were days when the most conventional of incidents
seemed weighted with a hidden meaning, burdened with a consciousness of
their own future import.
The summer days passed swiftly and with a certain monotony. During
the mornings while Thayer was practising, Lorimer and Beatrix idled
away the hours together. Later in the day, Thayer always appeared at
Monomoy, sometimes with Lorimer, sometimes alone. Occasionally Beatrix
forsook them both, and went off for long walks with Arlt or floated
lazily about the harbor with him, leaving her mother to entertain the
young men with garrulous recollections of her own childhood.
One subject was forever sealed between Beatrix and Thayer, to one
evening's events they neither of them ever alluded. Now and then, at
some careless turn of the conversation, one or the other of them would
stealthily raise his eyes to find the other furtively watching him; and
their eyes would drop apart again swiftly. It was obvious to Thayer
that Beatrix was carrying a heavy care, that summer. If Lorimer were
tardy in appearing, she was absent and restless; if he came upon her
suddenly, she started; if he talked or laughed more than usual, she
invented an excuse to take him away from the group, apart from the
general conversation. Occasionally, it was evident to Thayer that she
was trying to take him, himself, off his guard, seeking to make him
betray himself, in case he was sharing in her watchfulness. Upon such
occasions, Thayer's mental armor became as impenetrable as a corselet
of steel. If he were keeping guard over Lorimer, amusing him and
circumventing him in a thousand different ways, it was not only for
Lorimer's sake, but for that of Beatrix as well, and it was imperative
that Beatrix should never know. The day had passed forever when he
could look into Miss Gannion's clear eyes and declare with perfect
truthfulness that Beatrix was nothing in the world to him. He admitted
this to himself; he also admitted that there are an infinite number of
gradations between the opposite poles, nothing and something. There was
no especial need of deciding which one of them marked his present
This Monday afternoon was the first time he had seen Beatrix since
early September. He had left the others at Monomoy and, in company with
Arlt, had gone back to the city to put himself in training for some
autumn festivals at which he had been engaged to sing. By the time
Beatrix was back in town once more, he had started upon what was
destined to be a triumphal progress through New England. To some men,
the mere professional success would have been enough in itself; but
Thayer was of too large calibre to find a steady diet of applause and
adjectives, both in the superlative degree of comparison, either a
satisfactory or a stimulating meal. Often and often, as he bowed across
the footlights preparatory to shouldering and lugging off his ponderous
wreath of laurels, he would have given all the evening's triumph for
the sake of one quiet hour upon the Monomoy beach.
The evening before had been the climax of his empty successes. It
had been Boston's first oratorio of the season, and the wreath had been
an unusually ponderous one. It had met him promptly at the end of his
first number, and it had impressed him as a curious bit of irony,
following as it did upon the closing phrases of Spe modo Vivitur. Were his crowns to be only the thornless, characterless ones that went
with his profession? He bowed low, nevertheless, before the storm of
applause, set up his trophy against the steadiest of the music racks of
the second violins, and lost himself so completely in wondering how
Lorimer was holding out without him that he went through his part in
the quartette, three numbers later, in perfect unconsciousness of the
hostile glances which the soprano had been casting at him during the
Est tibi Laurea. Her flowers had been carnations, and only two
dozen of them, at that.
The next afternoon, Thayer found himself in the familiar room, with
Beatrix's hand in his own.
Only ten weeks, measured by time, he answered her greeting; but
it seems half a decade since we were killing time on the beach at
Killing crabs, you would better say, she returned, with a smile.
I think you and Sidney must have exterminated the race for all time.
Can you destroy the future for a race that habitually goes
backwards? he questioned, with a boyish gayety which she had never
seen in him before. How is Lorimer?
No one else but Thayer would have noted the slight hesitation that
punctuated her reply.
Thayer's momentary gayety left him, and he glanced at her sharply.
And you? he asked.
I am always in rude health, just now the better for having you
invade my loneliness. Do you still take only one lump? Her tone was
Only one. How does it happen that I have the good luck to find you
Everybody is at Mrs. Stanley's. She has captured a new lion, and
has bidden the world to come and inspect her prey.
What is he, this time?
Not he at all; it is a full-fledged Japanese princess whose husband
does lectures on some sort of theosophy before all the universities.
Your lustre is totally eclipsed by this new comet. There was a short
silence; then Beatrix added inconsequently, We all of us have been so
delighted at your success, Mr. Thayer.
He did not take the trouble to discount the fact; but merely
How did you know about it?
We have followed you in the papers. Bobby had some, and I think
Sidney must have bought tons of them. He even talked of subscribing to
a clipping bureau. He has read them aloud to us, every night; and we
all have tried to act as if it were nothing so very unusual to have one
of our friends winning laurels by the wholesale.
They were very concrete laurels, too, Miss Dane, he returned
indifferently, though his face had lighted at her eager accent. Some
of the wreaths must have been four feet across, and I invariably
tripped over the ribbons, when I carried them off the stage. I did wish
they would furnish a dray; garlands are horribly in the way in a
And then what became of them?
Thayer shrugged his shoulders.
Ask the chambermaids along the route. I don't mean to be
unappreciative; but not even the most trusting of publics could expect
me to bear my trophies away in my arms, next morning. I came to wish I
could ship them back to the florist, to be presented to some other
baritone, the next night.
But you enjoyed the trip?
After a fashion. I enjoyed the summer more, though.
There is a certain satisfaction in dropping off the social harness
now and then, and we were comparatively primitive at Monomoy, she
assented. The whole summer would have been worth while, just for the
sake of seeing Mr. Arlt enjoy it. Has he come back yet?
Yes, two days ago. The trip has meant a good deal to him, and
already he is engaged for two festivals in the spring. I am hoping that
a taste of success will give him more self-reliance. He needs it, if
ever he is to impose himself upon the dear public. Even the critics are
prone to take a man at his own valuation, and one of the best American
musicians is working in a corner, to-day, because he finds it a good
deal more interesting to work towards future successes than to exploit
his past ones in the eyes of the world.
Beatrix smiled, half in assent, half in amusement at his sudden
Mr. Arlt will succeed in time; he is only a boy yet. But, with
genius and energy and his real love for his art, there can be no doubt
of his future.
That is as fate may decree, Thayer answered.
Or Providence, she corrected him.
He shook his head.
Miss Dane, the more I know of life, I am learning to write fate in
capitals, and to spell Providence with a little p. Things are
pretty well cut out for us.
She glanced at him with sudden intentness.
Then I hope the scissors are sharp, and that Moira carries a steady
hand. We have to put up with our own indecisions; those of other people
Doesn't that depend upon what the decision finally proves to be?
Her eyes had gone back to the fire, and her face was very grave.
No; I would rather know where I am going. Anything is better than
drifting; it is a comfort to look steadily forward to the best or to
the worst. Suddenly she roused herself. Mr. Thayer, do you realize
that it is two months since I have heard you sing?
He roused himself quite as suddenly. In the slight pause which had
broken her speech, he had been making a swift, but futile effort to
chart the future. He knew that Lorimer was drifting carelessly,
thoughtlessly; he also knew that Beatrix was allowing herself to drift
idly in his wake. And how about himself? And would they all make the
same port in the end? If not, where would the diverging currents be
waiting for them?
His brain was working intently; but his voice was quite
conventional, as he rose.
I hoped you would ask me. After a month or two of singing to
strangers, I begin to feel the need of something a little more
personal. Will you have the new songs, or the old?
The old, of course, she answered unhesitatingly.
He improvised for a moment; then he began to sing,
The hours I spent with thee, dear heart,
Are as a string of pearls to me.
I count them over one by
Abruptly he stopped singing and struck a dozen resonant major
What a disgustingly sentimental thing that is! he said sharply.
After our summer at Monomoy in the sea air, we need an atmosphere of
ozone, not of laughing gas.
And he played the prelude of Die Beiden Grenadieren.
Arlt dropped in at Thayer's rooms, the next afternoon, and sat
looking on while his friend put himself into his evening clothes,
preparatory to dining with Miss Gannion.
I walked up here with Mr. Dane, he observed, after a thoughtful
interval. What an American he is!
Yes. No other country but yours can produce such people. France
tries it, and fails. A Frenchman takes his frivolity in earnest. Mr.
Dane is like that little Scherzo by Faulkes, the one that frisks
on and on, and all of a sudden comes to an end with a loud Ha ha
over its own absurdity. Mr. Dane delights in his own talk, just as you
delight in your singing.
He is not self-conscious, Thayer objected quickly.
Neither are you. Each of you has a gift, and you each delight in
using it. That is not saying that you either of you regard it as the
only gift in the world. Instead, having it, you make the most of it, to
let it grow and to put it in the way of giving pleasure to other
Thayer smiled, in spite of himself.
To paraphrase you, Arlt, what a German you are! Nobody else would
attempt to philosophize concerning Bobby Dane.
Why not? He is worth it, for he has other gifts than his wit.
Did he say anything about Lorimer? Thayer asked abruptly.
He spoke of him once or twice.
There had been a slight hesitation. The next instant, Arlt felt
Thayer's keen eyes upon him.
Is anything wrong with Lorimer?
What should there be?
Nothing should be. I asked if anything is.
Mr. Dane would hardly discuss his friends with me. Arlt's tone was
Now, see here, Arlt, don't get obstinate. We both know Lorimer's
failing. Have you heard anything new about him?
Arlt stared hard at the carpet.
Mr. Lorimer was very good to the mother and Katarina, he said, in
his slow, deliberate English.
That may be. Mr. Lorimer has been good to a great many people, and
we aren't going to forget it. That doesn't keep us from knowing his
No, Arlt said simply; but it might keep us from discussing it.
Thayer's lips shut closely for an instant. He felt a rebuke which
Arlt would never have dared to intend.
It might; but it does not. We both know it, and there is no harm in
our talking it over. Lorimer is weak and foolish; he isn't nearly so
bad as many men we know. The taint is in his blood, and he is too
easy-going to fight it out.
But he did fight, last summer, Arlt urged.
Thayer's thoughts flew backwards to one night, in Lorimer's room at
the hotel. It seemed to him he could still see Lorimer's flushed face,
still hear against the background of noises that marred the stillness
of the August moonlight outside the window, the high-pitched, insistent
voice of the man who sat on the edge of the bed, arguing about the
necessity of unlacing his shoes before taking them off. The next
morning, Beatrix had received a note from Thayer, apologizing for
carrying Lorimer off for a day's fishing. Cotton Mather himself might
well have envied the grim fervor of the sermon preached by his
namesake, that sunshiny summer day. The old-time hell gave place to a
more modern theory of retribution; but the terrors were painted with a
black-tipped brush, and Lorimer had shuddered, as he listened. For the
once, Thayer had made no effort to avoid rousing his antagonism.
Lorimer had been more angry than ever before in his life; then the
inevitable reaction had come, and it had been a penitent, hopeful
sinner who had walked up the pier at Thayer's side, late in the
afternoon. But Arlt, who had been playing Chopin at Monomoy, all the
previous evening, was quite at a loss to understand how a single day's
fishing could so completely exhaust a strong man like Thayer.
Arlt changed his phrase to the direct question.
Don't you think he fought with the best that was in him?
And Thayer assented with perfect truthfulness,
Then we ought to ask for nothing more.
If he stood alone. Unfortunately he doesn't.
Arlt raised his brows.
But the risk is hers.
Thayer untied his necktie with a long, deliberate pull, and made a
second attempt to arrange it to his liking. At length he turned from
the mirror and faced Arlt.
Would you be willing to allow Katarina to take such a risk?
No, Arlt answered honestly, after an interval.
Neither man spoke for some time. Arlt was unwilling to continue the
subject, and Thayer knew from experience the uselessness of trying to
force him to talk when he was minded to keep silence. It was Arlt,
however, who finally broke the silence, and his subject was one utterly
remote from Lorimer.
I have heard from the mother, to-day, he said suddenly.
Good news, I hope. Thayer's tone was as hearty as if he had felt
no passing annoyance at the boy's stubborn reticence.
The best that can be for them. An old cousin has died, and they are
Good! Is it much?
Enough so they can live in comfort, whatever happens to me.
And enough so that you can live in comfort, without anxiety for
them, Thayer supplemented kindly.
Without anxiety; I can do without the comfort, Arlt replied. I
have worried sometimes.
Crossing the room, Thayer laid his hand on the boy's shoulder.
And you have borne the worry very pluckily, too, Arlt. It has been
hard for you, this first year in America, with the double care for them
and for yourself. I hope things are going to be easier now.
It will be a help in my work, he assented. Then he added, with a
sudden effort which showed how dear the subject was to his heart, I
think I shall now have a few more lessons in counterpoint.
More? Thayer said interrogatively.
Yes; I had already studied for two years.
And you want to compose?
When I know enough. Not till then.
It takes something besides the knowing, to make a composer, Arlt,
Thayer said warningly.
I know. But I think I have something to say, when I am ready, the
boy answered, with simple directness.
But, if you wanted to study counterpoint, why didn't you say so?
You knew I would lend you the money.
Yes, you would give me everything; but I could never accept this.
Arlt looked up, and even Thayer, well as he knew him, was surprised
at the sudden concentration of character in the boy's face.
One will be helped in the small things, never in accomplishing the
real purpose of his life. Each one of us must work that out for
himself. Then, if he succeeds or fails, at least the result is of his
Dismissing four or five importunate cab drivers with a brief shake
of his head, Thayer went striding away up the Avenue towards Miss
Gannion's house. As he went, he was half-consciously applying Arlt's
words to the question of his own future. It was true enough that he
must work out his own real purpose for himself; and, in one sense the
unsuccessful boy was happier by far than the successful man. Arlt's
purpose was single. Thayer's was two-fold, and as yet he could not
determine which of them would prove to be the dominant impulse of his
Really, it does seem very good to drop back into the old ways,
Miss Gannion said contentedly, two hours later.
The loitering, lingering dinner was over; the servants had been
instructed to admit no other guests, and Miss Gannion was snuggled back
in her deep chair, gazing up at Thayer who stood on the rug with his
hands idly locked behind his back. In this room which showed so plainly
its feminine occupancy, he seemed uncommonly virile, and Miss Gannion,
watching him, felt a momentary exultation in his virility. Most of the
men whom she knew, put on a feminine languor as an adjunct to their
evening clothes. Thayer looked down upon her with manifest approval.
After months of separation, it was good to find himself in the presence
of this woman to whom he was allowed to speak freely his real opinion.
Miss Gannion by no means always agreed with him; but she usually
understood his point of view and was willing to admit its weight.
Moreover, she was able to discuss without losing her temper, and she
belonged to that species of good listener who understands that an
occasional word of comprehension is worth more than hours of mere
It is refreshing to get back to a place where my personality counts
for something, Thayer assured her. The past two months have left me
feeling as if I had not a friend in the world, nothing but audiences.
What an ingrate you are! Most of us would be willing to have that
kind of impersonality.
No, she said candidly. I'm not large enough for that.
It wouldn't have occurred to me that it was any indication of
To be able to resign your own individuality, for the sake of the
pleasure you can give other people? That seems to me rather large.
It depends. I think I would rather concentrate my efforts, person
on person, instead of spreading myself out like a vast impersonal
She laughed a little, though her eyes were very grave.
You might apply your theory here and now. Go and sing to me, not a
new song, but one of the old favorites.
Obediently he crossed the room to the piano where he sat for an
hour, now singing, now stopping to comment on a song or to relate some
of his experiences of the past two months. Later that night, when Miss
Gannion was thinking over the talk of the evening, it suddenly occurred
to her that he had made no reference at all to the summer. At length he
rose to return to the fire.
No, she objected. There is one song still lacking. You've not
sung The Rosary yet.
His stride across the room never hesitated, although duller ears
than his own could not have mistaken the wish in her voice.
I have worn out The Rosary, he said briefly. I shall have
to let it rest for a while.
I am sorry. I loved it.
He laughed mirthlessly.
It is the weakest kind of sentimentality, Miss Gannion. The song
itself amounts to very little; it is merely a question of the key.
I am sorry, she repeated, still a little sadly. I have cared a
good deal for the song.
Thayer made no answer, and she sat looking up at him with a steady
wishfulness which made him uneasy. Her next words, though chosen by
chance, increased his uneasiness.
Have you seen Miss Dane, since you came back?
I was there, yesterday.
How did she seem to you?
His steady eyes met hers without wavering.
I don't quite understand what you mean by the question.
Miss Gannion varied the form of her words.
Did you think she looked well?
And yet, I don't think Beatrix is happy, Miss Gannion said, half
How can she be? Beatrix is not dense. She thinks things, and she
must know the uncertainty of the future.
But I thought it was quite certain. There was a level monotony in
You think Mr. Lorimer has really reformed and is out of danger?
Miss Gannion asked quickly.
I wish he had, Thayer answered half involuntarily.
Then there is still trouble?
But already Thayer was once more upon his guard.
I have heard of nothing since I came home.
Have you seen Mr. Lorimer?
There was a curt brevity in his manner which was new to Miss
Gannion. In spite of herself, it set her to wondering whether
prosperity had been good for her friend, whether the consciousness of
his own importance were making him indifferent to the interests of
others. Perhaps, after all, it was true that he was becoming
impersonal. He might be growing larger; he was certainly growing more
remote from her life. Miss Gannion cared for Thayer. Now, while she
watched him, her eyes were lighted with an almost fierce affection,
even though her disappointment made her voice take on a hard, metallic
ring, as she asked,
Are you turning your back upon the problem of your old friend, Mr.
No, he answered; but I thought we had solved it, in this very
She raised her brows interrogatively.
'To say our prayers, and wait,' he quoted.
Her momentary distrust of him weakened, and her face lighted, as she
heard him quoting her own words, spoken so long ago.
Yes; but Iwe allthink it is timethink it may be a mistake.
He lifted his eyes from the fire, looked at her steadily for a
minute, and then stared into the fire again. She grew restless with the
And we thought perhaps you could say something.
To? he asked, without raising his eyes.
To Mr. Lorimer.
What could I say?
Something to break it off.
In spite of himself, he laughed outright.
Would you advise threats or bribery, Miss Gannion? I really can't
imagine any argument that would lead Lorimer to give up Miss Dane of
his own accord.
Couldn't you put it to him strongly that he has no moral right to
hold her to her promise?
I could; but he would probably put it to me just as strongly that I
have no moral right to interfere in his concerns.
Miss Gannion sat up straight, bracing her elbows against the sides
of her chair.
Mr. Thayer, have you any idea that Mr. Lorimer will ever give up
drinking, drinking more than is good for him?
I have not.
Have you any idea that Beatrix, if she marries him, can escape
years of anxiety and wretchedness?
I have not, he answered again.
Oh, how cold you are! she cried, in passionate revolt against his
even tone. Don't you care anything at all for Beatrix?
If he flinched at her question, he rallied again too quickly for her
to discover it. Then he looked her squarely in the eye.
I would do anything in my power to protect Miss Dane; but this is a
case where I have no right to speak to her. I have spoken to Lorimer
again and again, urging him to control himself for her sake. Beyond
that, I have no right to go.
But you said once that you thought she ought to be told.
That was months ago. She found out, without being told.
But, if she knew all about it, all that you know, Beatrix Dane
would never marry Sidney Lorimer.
Very likely not.
Then you ought to tell her. What right have you to suppress facts
that would change her whole point of view? You have it in your power to
save Beatrix Dane. Once you were willing to do it. She had risen and
stood on the rug, facing him. Stung by his coldness and by her
disappointment in him, she allowed a sudden note of hostility to creep
into her voice, and it cut Thayer like the edge of a steel knife.
I am sorry, he said, after a pause; but it is too late for that
now, Miss Gannion.
His words were more true than he realized. When, after a half-hour
of uncomfortable, disjointed talk, he said good-night and went away, he
found Lorimer waiting for him in his own rooms. Thayer's greeting was
curt, for he was still smarting from the memory of his talk with Miss
Gannion. He had been impenetrable to her questions, but not to her
sharpness, and he was hurt by the disapproval she had shown. It was the
first time he had heard the curious icy tone in her voice; it had
struck a jarring note in their friendship. For the time being, Miss
Gannion had distrusted him; but at least she had gained no idea of the
cause of his changed attitude. For so much, he was thankful. He had
saved his own respect at the risk of forfeiting that of Miss Gannion.
Lorimer met him excitedly; but Thayer's experienced eye saw that the
excitement had no alcoholic basis.
Congratulations, old fellow! Everything is settled at last, and we
are to be married, early in January. I came straight to you, for I knew
you would be delighted. Of course, I shall count on you as best man.
It would never have occurred to Thayer that there was need to brace
himself against any possible shock. For a minute, the droplight on the
table seemed to be dancing a Russian trépac. Then, just as it
was ready to fall, he heard his own voice saying, with exactly the
proper degree of cordiality,
I do congratulate you, Lorimer, and I am delighted that it is
Later on, he knew that he had spoken the truth.
And you will be best man? Lorimer questioned eagerly.
Yes. Who else has better claim? The conventional note was still
there; Thayer felt its aloofness far more than Lorimer, absorbed in his
own joy, was able to do. The silence was short; then Thayer mastered
himself again. Lorimer, he said quietly; I certainly do congratulate
you, for you have been able to gain one of the noblest women in the
world. Your happiness ought to be great; but you have taken a fearful
responsibility along with it. At your best you can be worthy of her;
but, if you fall one inch below your best level, you will deserve to be
flayed alive. You have gone into this with your eyes open. You know
that you can make Beatrix Dane's life a heaven or a hell. You and I
both know the danger; we know that she is running a terrible risk in
marrying you, and that you yourself are the only person who can save
her from shame and sorrow. For God's sake, Lorimer, do all you can to
make yourself live up to the best that is in you.
Late March found Thayer just completing a long circle. He had gone
to Chicago by way of Washington; he was coming back by way of Canada
and New England. Oratorio societies were rampant, that Lent, and he had
been the popular baritone of the season, completely ousting from public
favor the bass who had monopolized the applause for six or seven years
previous. He had fainted under Elijah's juniper tree times without
number, until he had learned to watch with cynical interest for the
phrase which never failed to draw forth the tears. He had even taken
part in one grand operatic rendition of the work, when the audience had
been half strangled by the too realistic fumes from the altar, and the
chorus, huddled at the back of the stage, had sung the Rain Chorus
off the key, to the accompaniment of the torrent which poured down in a
thin sheet just back of the curtain, raining neither on the just nor on
the unjust, but falling accurately into the groove for the footlights
between them. He had sung The Messiah and Arminius until
they were a weariness to his flesh, and Hiawatha's call to
Gitche Manito, the Mighty had become second nature to his tongue.
He had moments of acute longing to astound his audience with a German
student song, and, upon his off nights, he fell into the vaudeville
habit. Not even his Puritanism could enjoy an unlimited diet of
At first there had been some question of his giving a number of
recitals at different points on his journey; but he had renounced the
idea. Arlt was grinding away at counterpoint under the best master to
be found in New York, and Arlt was the only accompanist with whom
Thayer cared to sing. The boy had no notion that Thayer needed him;
neither did he have any idea of the discrepancy between his own
payments and the actual fees of the great musician with whom Thayer had
advised him to study. Week by week, he brought his few dollars, without
once suspecting that Thayer's monthly checks were really paying for the
Arlt had fallen to work with the eagerness born of long and enforced
abstinence. Certain musical themes had been haunting him for the past
two years; yet he had known that he lacked the training which should
enable him to develop them properly, and, with rare self-denial, rather
than spoil them he had turned his back upon them and tried to forget
them. Now, however, his work was beginning to tell upon him, and his
teacher was more and more encouraging, while the old themes came back
to him, grown and enriched by their season of lying fallow. Spurred on
by the consciousness of all this, Arlt was hard at work upon an
overture with which he hoped to greet Thayer on his return to the city.
Day by day, the overture was growing. It was boyish; yet it was
dignified and original.
On the last morning of his trip, Thayer came down the steps of his
hotel, halted to stare about him at the streets of the leisurely little
city, and then sauntered away towards the hall where the rehearsal was
to take place. It was still early; nevertheless, as he came within
sight of the building, he found the street filled with the members of
the orchestra who, thriftily refusing cabs, had marched up from the
station in a solid phalanx, laden with all manner of strange-looking
bags and cases. Thayer nodded to them with a certain eagerness. After
two months of wandering, it was good to find himself once more within
the New York radius. He had sung with these men often; they knew every
trick of his voice, and he could count upon them not to break into a
galloping rhythm in the midst of a minor andante. His face
lighted, and his tongue fell into his beloved German idioms, as he went
up the stairs with a bass viol and a bassoon on either hand.
The director of the chorus was also a New York man, and Thayer shook
hands with him cordially, wondering, meanwhile, how it chanced that one
short year had made him feel that New York was home to him. The
director knew Arlt's teacher, too. He had heard of the young German's
promise, and it was with some regret that Thayer heard him break off
from these congenial themes, for the sake of introducing him to the
officers of the society who were unduly agitated by the consciousness
that they had captured both Thayer and the latest English tenor who had
landed only the week before and was to make his American début, that
Meanwhile, the hall was filling fast. The chorus, chattering with
the nervous vivacity which always heralds a concert, were crowding into
the fraction of space allotted to them; and, in the open floor beyond,
the musicians of the orchestra were gathered into little groups,
unpacking their instruments, unfolding their racks and eying the chorus
with metropolitan disdain. Here and there a violinist, his violin at
his shoulder, sauntered up and down the floor, alternately drawing his
bow across the strings and lowering it again, while he tightened them.
Then, in answer to the call from the oboe, the whole place grew filled
with their din, discordant at first, but slowly coming into more and
more perfect harmony, uniting upon the single note, breaking again into
countless changing tones, only to yield once more to the single A, caught, dropped during an instant's pause, then caught again and held
in long-drawn, jubilant sonority.
On the heels of the other soloists, Thayer picked his way up the
narrow aisle at the right of the tenors, and took his seat upon the
little stage. As he did so, he discovered a diminutive gallery directly
over the main entrance to the hall. Side by side in the gallery sat two
men, the president of the chorus and Bobby Dane.
Bobby was beaming down at him placidly, and Thayer's face lighted at
the unexpected sight of his friend. Bobby nodded occasionally, to mark
his approval of the music; then, at the end of Thayer's first solo, he
laid his score on the gallery rail and led off a volley of applause
which, echoing back from the chorus, roused Bobby to such a pitch of
enthusiasm that he knocked the score off the rail and sent it tumbling
down among the rear ranks of the altos.
Why the unmentionable mischief do you waste your energies, singing
like that at a rehearsal? he demanded abruptly of Thayer, as he joined
him on the stairs.
Where the unmentionable mischief did you come from? Thayer
responded, seizing Bobby's hand in his own firm clasp.
New York. Just came up, this morning. I'm doing the concert,
Oh! I was under the impression that I was going to do a part of it,
Musically. I represent the power of the Press.
How long since?
To-day. The regular critic is busy with a domestic funeral, his
grandmother, or step-mother, or something, and it lay between the devil
and me to take his place. Strange to say, the Chief chose me; but he
was morose enough to say the old lady shouldn't have died, just when
all the other papers in town were sending up their best critics.
But how do you expect to get up a criticism?
Bobby smiled up at him in smug satisfaction over his own wiliness.
By caressing the mammon of unrighteousness. I know you; likewise
the president of this chorus was in my prep. school. I happened to hear
of him, last week, and I am banking on the fact for all it is worth.
Therefore I have two strings to my bow. That's more than one of your
second violins did. To my certain knowledge, he wrecked two strings in
the overture and one in the prelude of your first solo. After that, I
got interested and lost count.
Do you expect us to dictate our own praises?
Not much. I am too canny for that. Besides, don't be too sure they
will be praises. No; I have asked the president, in strict confidence,
just what he thinks of you, and his answer was properly garrulous. His
originality was startling, too. He observed that you have temperament.
Now I am proceeding to ask you, also in strict confidence, what you
think of the chorus.
That it has intemperament, Thayer responded promptly. Dane, I
abhor that word.
Is that the reason you coined its negative?
No; but it gets on my nerves. When it started out into service, it
meant something; but now it is used to express everything, from real
artistic feeling down to the way a man rolls up his eyes when he sings
love songs. I wish you newspaper men would bring out something new to
take its place. You can do it; you generally set the fashion in words.
I'll ask Lee, when he gets over his funeral, Bobby suggested. It
is out of my line. I am a greater artist than he is, a typographical
song without words. I do scareheads, and buffet the devil. Thayer?
Do you honestly enjoy this sort of thing?
Thayer glanced down at the muddy crossing where they stood waiting
for a car to pass.
No. I prefer an occasional street-cleaning episode; but what can
you expect in a March thaw?
I don't mean that, Bobby said impatiently. I'm not joking now.
Beg pardon, Thayer returned briefly. What do you mean, Dane?
I mean all this tramping round the country, singing to strange
people, getting applause at night and reading about yourself, next day.
Doesn't it get a frightful bore, after the dozenth time you've been
The applause and the audience and the criticisms, yes. The singing,
no, Thayer said, after an interval.
And you're willing to put up with one for the sake of the other?
Bobby dodged a shower of mud from a passing cab.
Well, tastes differ, then. In New York, we've been going on the
same old routine, and yet no two days have been alike, except in the
minor detail of missing you at places. You have been in twenty
different cities, and I'd be willing to bet that your routine hasn't
varied: sleeper, hotel, rehearsal, concert, applause, wreath, supper,
hotel, bed, and so on around the circuit again and again. And you say
the singing pays for it. It does pay us; but you can't hear yourself,
Thayer, not to get any good of it. If it isn't the applause and such
stuff, what do you do it for?
Thayer glanced down at the man beside him. He liked Bobby Dane, and,
for the moment, he felt moved to discard his customary reticence in
regard to his art.
For the sake of feeling myself picked up and carried along by
something quite outside myself, something I am powerless to analyze, or
to master; yet something that I can help to express, he answered.
Bobby accepted the lesson in silence. Then of a sudden his whimsical
fun reasserted itself.
Must feel a good deal like getting drunk, he commented gravely.
And à propos des bottes, Beatrix is at home again.
Thayer's shoulders straightened, his step grew rhythmic once more.
When did she come?
She landed, ten days ago, and they went right to the new house. She
is going to send out cards for Mondays in May; but, meanwhile, we are
coming in for an earlier event. There's a note at your rooms now,
asking you to dine with them, next Monday.
How do you know?
Because, like a coy maiden, I named the day. It is a sort of
post-nuptial event, the maid of honor, the best man, and the master of
ceremonies, meaning myself. She wasn't going to ask me, because it
would spoil the number; but I told her I would make a point of being
there, and that Monday was my most convenient day. It will give us our
first chance to talk over the wedding.
How does sheMrs. Lorimer look?
She Mrs. Lorimer looks very natural, Bobby replied gravely. As a
rule, we only say a person looks natural after his demise; but I assure
you that Beatrix is very much alive.
And happy? Thayer asked involuntarily.
Bobby gave him a swift, sharp glance. Then he resumed his former
As happy as one always is at landing after five days of acute
sea-sickness. They pursued a storm, all the way home. They didn't catch
it, though, except in the figurative sense of our remote childhood. I
never saw Beatrix look so happy in her life as when she planted her
second foot safely on the pier.
What about Lorimer?
Bobby shook his broad shoulders, with the air of a man shaking off a
Oh, he's all right, he said shortly.
Together the two men idled away the afternoon. Bobby would fain have
introduced Thayer to his own brother craftsmen who infested the hotel
in the hope of getting speech with the artists; but Thayer had little
liking for being interviewed, and preferred to divide his time between
his own room and the streets. He and Bobby had an apparently limitless
fund of talk, and their conversation wandered at will over the events
of the past two months. However, as all roads lead to Rome, so all
subjects led to Beatrix. When they came around to her in their
discussion, Thayer invariably changed the subject; yet even a few words
on a constantly recurring theme can end by illuminating that theme
perfectly, provided only that it recurs often enough. By the time
Thayer was dressing for the concert, that night, he was in full
possession of all Bobby Dane's facts concerning his cousin, and he was
convinced that all was not well with Lorimer.
With a commendable spirit of originality, the officers of the chorus
had broken away from the established rule which proclaimed it an
Elijah season, and had chosen to give St. Paul, that night.
Thayer liked the oratorio. It seemed to him more original, more
inspired, infinitely more human than the other. Moreover, it would be
restful to keep silent and let the tenor warble himself to a lingering
death. Even fiery chariots become monotonous in time, and an indignant
mob affords a welcome variety. He had not heard the tenor since they
had sung together in Berlin, two years before, and he was looking
forward to the evening with a good deal of pleasure.
To his surprise and annoyance, he found the music stopping short at
his tympani, powerless to enter his brain. When he jolted himself out
of his train of subconscious thought, he was aware that the orchestra
was superb, that his old friend, the tenor, had added many cubits to
his artistic stature, during the past two years, that he himself,
Cotton Mather Thayer, would have to use his best efforts if he did not
wish to occupy an entirely subordinate place upon the programme. Then
he recurred to his thought of Beatrix and Lorimer. If Lorimer had not
kept a straight course during his honeymoon, what hope was there for
either himself or Beatrix in the many, many moons to come?
The strings and the wind took up the Allegro, and Thayer
rose. Lorimer, if he had been present, would have known what to expect
from the straightening of his shoulders and the sudden squaring of his
jaw; but Bobby Dane, who had been watching the apathy in which his
friend was buried, was distinctly nervous. Then, at the first note, his
nervousness vanished, leaving in its place only wondering admiration.
Bobby had supposed he knew what Thayer could do; but he was totally
unprepared for the furious dignity with which the singer rendered his
Consume them all,
Pour out Thine indignation, and let them feel Thy power.
The applause did not wait for the orchestra to slide comfortably
back to the tonic. It broke out promptly upon the final note, and it
satisfied even Bobby. Thayer bowed his acknowledgments, and then
returned to his reverie; but he roused himself again at the Adagio
which announced his second aria.
Then it was, in Paul's outcry for mercy, for the blotting out of his
transgressions, that Bobby Dane understood what Thayer had meant, that
noon, when he had spoken of being carried along by something outside of
himself. Bobby knew Thayer as a quiet, self-contained man of the world;
the Thayer who was singing that great aria was on fire with a
passionate madness, tingling with unfulfilled longing, striving against
his whole temperament for peace and for pardon. Bobby knew all this; he
dimly realized, moreover, that the singer was fired by love for the
wife of his friend, burning with the surety that his friend was
unworthy of her, and struggling with all the manhood there was in him
to face that love and that surety with the stoic calm of one of his
Puritan ancestors, to quench the fire and to cover the ashes.
Bobby joined him in the wings, at the close of the concert. Even in
the dim light, he could see that Thayer looked whiter than his wont,
and that the veins in his temples stood out like knotted cords.
What business have you to be doing oratorio? Bobby demanded, as
soon as they could struggle a little apart from the gossiping, gushing
ranks of the chorus which surrounded them, pulling surreptitious bits
from Thayer's mammoth wreath of laurel.
Why not? Thayer asked calmly.
Because you are throwing away the best of yourself. Putting you
into oratorio is like icing tea. You belong in grand opera.
Thayer raised his brows dissentingly.
I wish I could think so, Dane; but I am afraid I should only
disappoint you, he answered, and his tone was not altogether jovial,
as he said it.
I don't expect to be consistent, Sally retorted. I'm only an
ill-assorted snarl of threads ravelled out from my different
That's dodging the responsibility, Miss Van Osdel.
Bobby lifted an oyster and held it up to view.
I never did approve of shunting off our sins on the shoulders of
our ancestors, he observed. They sin; we get the come-uppance. You
might as well say that the grandfather of this oyster is directly
responsible for his being eaten alive.
No man's sin is wholly his own doing, Lorimer said half bitterly.
There was a sudden pause, as they all came to a realizing sense that
Sally's idle words had sent them sliding out upon thin ice. Bobby was
the first to rally.
True for you, Lorimer! he assented cheerily. That is one of the
doctrines I have spent my life trying to impress on the governor. I
wish he felt it more borne in upon him. But, as you were saying, Sally,
you're not expecting to become consistent. I'm glad, for you won't be
disappointed. The brightest jewel in your crown will have to be of
What color is consistency, Bobby? his cousin asked.
Green, of course, reflected from the jealous eyes of the ninety and
nine sinners who haven't the virtue.
I'm not at all certain that I wish to be consistent, Sally
So glad for your sake! Bobby returned quickly.
Thayer looked up inquiringly.
Because consistent people are such bores, Miss Van Osdel?
So you are a heretic, too? And then they are so smug.
But there's consistency and consistency, Bobby argued. There's
mashed potato and frappé, for instance, equally hard, equally
homogeneous, yet totally different. To my mind, there is a distinct
choice between them, and I prefer
Cherries in your frappé. Sally capped his sentence for him. In
other words, we all like a consistent person with lumps of
inconsistency. That's myself, and one of my lumps is a dislike of
having Mrs. Lloyd Avalons on our tenement committee.
But, if you are slumming
That is ignoble of you, Beatrix. The committee doesn't slum within
its own confines.
Oh, I didn't mean that at all, Beatrix protested hastily. Really,
though. I can't see why you and Mrs. Lloyd Avalons can't unite in
working for somebody quite outside either of your worlds.
Sally raised her brows in saucy imitation of Mrs. Lloyd Avalons's
pet expression. Then she pushed Beatrix's words aside with daintily
Can't you? she said coolly, as she ended her little pantomime.
Well, I can. To adopt Bobby's choice illustration, it would be like
mixing potato and frappé. The potato would melt the frappé, and then
the frappé wouldwell, would render the potato unpalatable. In other
words, if we work together, I shall pulverize Mrs. Lloyd Avalons, and
then the dust of her individuality will get in among my nerves and clog
If you can't be consistent, Miss Van Osdel, please do try to be
concrete, Thayer urged. I confess that I find it a little difficult
to follow you.
Not at all, Bobby interposed. She isn't going anywhere. Sally's
mental processes always remind me of the way we used to play cars in a
row of easy chairs. We were extremely energetic, and we pretended that
we were going somewhere; but in reality we didn't budge an inch. Sally,
what is the reason you don't like Mrs. Lloyd Avalons?
Because she is utterly preposterous, Sally replied concisely.
And yet, she is bound to arrive, some day, Lorimer said
Then I hope it may not be until after I have left, Sally retorted.
I don't care to have her making connections with me.
Sally, you are uncharitable, Beatrix said rebukingly; but Bobby
That's more than you can say of Mrs. Lloyd Avalons. She is on half
the charity committees in town.
How did she get there? Thayer asked, with unfeigned curiosity.
By toiling upward, day and night. That's where she scores ahead of
the great men. According to the poet, they only belonged to the night
shift. Mrs. Lloyd Avalons sleeps with the Blue Book under her pillow
and dreams social combinations.
She probably has a chess board always at her elbow, Sally
suggested. I can fancy the game, the white queen and her pawn against
the whole black force, each man neatly tagged with his name and social
She is marching straight into the king-row, though, Bobby added.
Beatrix called them to order.
Does it strike you that this is perilously near to being gossip?
But Sally had the last word.
It's not gossip to talk over the possibilities of the lower
classes, she remarked imperturbably. It is social science.
Lorimer went back to the original question which had started the
As I said before, there is a certain inconsistency in the idea of a
given number of women setting themselves to work to better the
condition of the masses, and then coming to wreck and ruin because one
of their number is of a slightly different set.
Slightly inferior, Sally corrected him.
Lorimer accepted the amendment.
Inferior, then, if you choose. But we are talking of the theory in
the abstract, not of any particular case. One hardly expects to find
snobbishness in slumming.
Then that's where one gets left, Bobby commented, by way of
But if you are all stooping?
Yes; but the alignment is better, if we all stoop at the same
angle, Sally protested.
What I wish to know, Thayer said thoughtfully; is where the
deadline of propriety exists. Take the case of Mrs. Lloyd Avalons, for
instance. Why does she take Patsey Keefe to her heart and home, and
snub Arlt upon all occasions?
Because she wishes to maintain a proper perspective, Sally
replied. Everyone knows that Patsey and she are chums from choice;
with Mr. Arlt, there might be a question. Legitimate slumming
presupposes two willing parties, the slummer and the slummed.
In other words, Bobby added; it is socially possible to
foregather with the slum in the next ward; it is death to speak to the
undesirable neighbor in the back alley. The fact is ordained; but it
will take several generations of social scientists to ferret out the
Sally addressed the table at large.
For my part, I like Mr. Arlt, she said flatly. What's more, I am
going with him to the Kneisel concert, to-morrow night; and, if any of
you are there and choose to eye me askance, you are welcome.
Later, that evening, Thayer found himself with Beatrix and a little
apart from the others. The dinner had been utterly informal, and it had
been tacitly understood that the guests should linger afterwards. It
was only ten days since the Lorimers had landed from their European
honeymoon, and as yet they felt themselves privileged to hold
themselves a little aloof from the social treadmill. Though the
breakfast table, each morning, was littered with cards and notes of
invitation, yet the season was in their favor. Lent had entered upon
its last week, and even the largest functions clothed themselves in
penitential and becoming shades of violet. Accordingly, it had been a
source of little self-denial for Bobby and Sally to give up their other
engagements for the evening. As for Thayer, he invariably went his own
way, invited everywhere and appearing only in the places which suited
his mood of the hour. It was the one professional luxury that he
To his keen eye, Beatrix looked as if she were carrying a heavy
burden of care. She was as alert as ever; her social training was bound
to ensure that. But between her conversational sallies, her face
settled into certain fixed lines that were new to Thayer. Even during
the past two months, her lips had grown firmer; but her lids drooped
more often, as if to hide some secret which otherwise might be betrayed
by her eyes. Up to this time, Thayer had never called her especially
pretty. She was handsome, perhaps; but her face was too cold, too
austere. Now, however, it seemed to him full of possibilities for
beauty, softer, infinitely more loving. In the old days, the curve of
her lips had been haughty; to-night, their firmer lines appeared to him
like a mask worn to conceal the gentler womanhood within. She was
thinner, too; but browned by her sea voyage, and she carried herself
with the nameless dignity which comes to a woman upon her bridal day.
Lorimer appeared to be in the pink of condition. He was more
handsome than ever, more graciously winning. His voice had all the old
caressing intonations which Thayer recalled so well, together with many
new ones that crept into his tone whenever he addressed his wife. By
look and word and gesture, he referred and deferred to her constantly;
and his eyes never failed to light, when they rested upon her own. No
man could have been more frankly and openly in love with his own wife.
Then I take it for granted that the trip has been a success,
Thayer said, as he joined her.
Indeed it has. Mr. Lorimer took me to all his old haunts and, in
Berlin, to all of yours that he could find. We went to your old
lodgings, and we heard a concert in the hall where you made your début
and, the last day we were there, Sidney insisted upon hunting up your
Thayer looked up suddenly.
The dear old Maestro! Did he remember me? he asked, with a
boyish enthusiasm which sat well upon him.
Certainly he did, if remember is the right word, for his
knowledge of you was not all in the past tense. He has followed you
closely, and he knows just what you have done. Mr. Thayer, she added
abruptly; why have you never sung in opera?
Why should I?
Because he said that there was your especial talent, only he called
it by a stronger name. He jeers at the work you are doing.
I am sorry. I thought it was good work.
So it is, as far as it goes. But the other goes farther.
Perhaps, he assented. But do you think it is asas
Good form? she queried, laughing. Yes, if you choose to have it
so. It depends something upon the individual. With your training and
traditions, you would scarcely elect to sing comic opera in English.
Heaven forbid! he said hastily. But there are grades and grades,
even of the other. Not many mortals reach the top round of the ladder.
No; and, even if they did, they would be a good deal in your way,
for the space up there is limited. It will be merely a question of your
own will whether or not you occupy a part of it.
He was surprised at the turn the conversation had taken. No woman,
not even Miss Gannion, had ever dared question to him the wisdom of his
choice, or imply to him that there were laurels which he had not yet
plucked. Strange to say, he rather enjoyed the frank fashion in which
Beatrix was taking him to task. Nevertheless, he fenced a little.
I have always preferred a moderate success to an immoderate
failure, he answered her.
She shook her head.
That sounds specious; but you know it is a quibble. I had never
supposed that your ambition was so limited.
But it is not the mark of limitation to know where my success
Perhaps not. For my part, though, I don't want to rest on any
success. If I succeed in one thing, that is over and done with, and I
want to try for something else.
And if you fail?
Then, as soon as I am quite sure it is a failure and that no power
of mine can beat it into a success, I try to turn my back upon it, and
face another problem, she replied, with a quiet dignity which ignored
the flush that rose in both their faces at the careless question.
Thayer, too, had seen the flush in her cheeks which had answered to
his own rising color. For an instant, he questioned whether it were an
unwitting acknowledgment that her power over Lorimer was more limited
than she had supposed. Then he dismissed the suspicion. Her poise was
too perfect to make such a supposition possible. It was only that he,
knowing the truth, sought for confirmation upon all sides.
You are a good fighter, he responded quietly. What would be the
concrete application of your theory to my practice?
That you should try to fulfil the ambition your old master has for
you, she returned. Why don't you try it? You can't gain any more
glory in your present field; you stand at the head of concert and
oratorio singers in America. You have nothing to lose; and, over there
in Berlin, there is an old man who boasts that he made your voice, and
says that he can never sing his Nunc Dimittis until you have
entered upon your right path.
Thayer's face softened.
Did he say that?
Yes, and he extorted a promise from me that I would tell you his
very words. That is the reason I have made bold to speak about the
What do you think about it, yourself, Mrs. Lorimer?
That he knows your possibilities much better than I, she answered
But you have an opinion, he urged.
Yes, I have, she replied frankly. From what he told me, and from
what I have heard of your singing, I know that you can do broader work
than any you have attempted. Your voice will do for either thing, opera
or oratorio; but on a few times she hesitated; then she went on
without flinching; on the night of the Fresh Air Fund concert, for
instance, you showed a dramatic power that is wasted in your present
work. Suddenly she laughed at her own earnestness. What am I, that I
should advise the star of the season? Do excuse my frankness, Mr.
I asked you.
That's no reason I should bore you with all my theories upon a
subject of which I know practically nothing. And, meanwhile, I am
forgetting to tell you that we went to see Frau Arlt.
His face showed his pleasure and his approval, his pleasure that he
had found something in Lorimer to which he could give his unreserved
I am glad you saw her. It was like Lorimer to hunt her up. Does
Otto know about it?
He came to dinner, a day or two after we landed. Mr. Lorimer had
written him a note to tell him we were at home, and you should have
seen the boy's delight over the box of funny little odds and ends his
mother had sent him. Sidney is always so thoughtful, and he suggested
to the old lady that we had room in our trunks for a package. I really
think that the boy was happier with his home-made gifts than I was with
the things Mr. Lorimer gave me in Paris.
[Illustration: It was so that Thayer liked best to think of her"]
He has been a very brave, but a very homesick little German,
Thayer answered, while his eyes rested thoughtfully on her face. It
brightened now, as she spoke of Lorimer, and a half-tender, half-amused
smile was playing around her lips. All in all, Thayer was broad enough
to like it better so.
Suddenly she rose, as if to end their conversation; but she turned
back again to add,
Of all my wedding gifts, Mr. Thayer, the sweetest was the blessing
of good old Frau Arlt. She will never forget Mr. Lorimer, and her story
of his kindness in their darkest days, her good wishes to me, and her
happiness in seeing us will always stand out as an unforgettable
picture. You knew all about it, of course; but I had no idea how good
to them Sidney had been, nor how full of tact.
The smile still lingered about her lips, and her cheeks were flushed
a little, as she turned away in answer to her husband's call. For long
months to come, it was so that Thayer liked best to think of her.
Beatrix raised her eyes from her letters. Mother wants us to come
to dinner, to-night, Sidney.
But you are scheduled for something else; aren't you? he answered,
without looking up from his paper.
For nothing that I can't break. There are some teas and the
theatre. I had thought I might have to hurry our dinner, to get through
in time. What if we give up the theatre? The Andersons won't mind, if
we telephone them so early.
Just as well, he responded indifferently, as he turned his paper
inside out and ran his eye down the columns.
Then shall I telephone mother that we will be there?
You can go, Beatrix. I sha'n't be able to be there.
Why not, Sidney?
Because Dudley is giving a dinner at the club, to-night, and I am
booked for that.
Oh, Sidney! She checked herself abruptly.
Lowering his paper, he looked at her in surprise.
What is it, dear? he asked.
Nothing, onlyI wouldn't go.
But I can't get out of it. Dudley made a point of my being there,
and I told him to count on me.
I am sorry, she said quietly. I don't like Mr. Dudley.
Neither do I especially. Still, I saw a good deal of him at one
time, and, to-night, he wants to get together the old set. It's sort of
a farewell spread, for he starts for Nome, next week.
But you had promised the Andersons.
Yes, I told Anderson that I would get around in time to mingle my
tears with yours over the fifth act. Anderson is such a bore that I
couldn't stand a whole evening of him.
Then I shall certainly refuse to go, Beatrix said decidedly.
Lorimer raised his brows inquiringly.
For any especial reason?
She had risen from the table, and now she stood looking down at him,
a world of disappointed love showing in her dark eyes. She forced
herself to smile a little, as her eyes met his.
I am old-fashioned, Sidney. I don't like going to the theatre with
other men than my husband, four months after my wedding day.
He dropped his paper hastily, and, rising, linked his arm in hers.
Why, Beatrix dear, I didn't suppose
No, she said quietly; but I wish you had supposed. Still, as long
as I found it out in time, there is no great harm done.
But with older people like the Andersons, he urged. And I should
have been there to come home with you.
She was silent, and he went on, after a pause,
I didn't think of your minding, dear girl. You know that I wouldn't
be discourteous to you for anything.
Never mind about it now, Sidney. I can telephone to Mrs. Anderson,
and it will be all right, she answered more gently, for she felt the
contrition in his tone and it softened her momentary resentment at his
calm way of adjusting her convenience and happiness to his plans.
Mother said Bobby is coming, and possibly Sally Van Osdel. She wanted
the four of us to go there for an impromptu dinner such as we used to
I am sorry, dear. There was a real note of regret in Lorimer's
voice. She should have telephoned us earlier.
She waited for Bobby's decision. He is the only one of us, you
know, who makes even a pretence of being busy. Besides, as late in the
season as this, it is generally safe to count on people.
Apparently not, Lorimer returned lightly. At least, I seem to be
the unlucky exception that proves the rule. I am sorry, for I know your
mother's dinners of old. I would break most engagements for them.
Why not this? she urged.
Impossible. I promised, a week ago.
Her face flushed.
How does it happen you haven't mentioned it?
His answering laugh was frank and free from any taint of bitterness.
Because I knew you didn't like Dudley, dear girl, and I didn't see
any use in discussing a matter on which we were bound to differ. He
evidently had had no intention of saying more; but, as he saw her
downcast face, he went on, Truly, Beatrix, I couldn't decently refuse
the fellow, without any good reason.
She raised her eyes to his face a little haughtily.
But it seems to me you had a good reason.
Lorimer laughed again. It was plain that he was determined not to be
jarred out of his genial mood.
A good reason; but not one that was very tellable. You really don't
want me saying to a man that I can't eat his dinner because my wife
Lorimer had no notion that his words could sting his wife, and he
was surprised at her heightened color and at the sudden aggressive
poise of her head. Then swiftly she controlled herself.
Next time, you can concoct some more specious reason, she
answered, with forced lightness.
In his turn, Lorimer felt himself irritated by her calm feminine
assumption that his acceptance or refusal of invitations in future was
to be bounded by her dislikes.
Next time, we will hope you will have annulled the reason, he
retorted. Dudley isn't a bad fellow. Moreover, he has the saving grace
of knowing how to order a good dinner and get together a good crowd.
She felt the half-veiled hostility of his tone, and it cut her. She
had received similar cuts before, during the past three or four months.
Instead of rendering her callous, they had left a sore sensitiveness in
their scars. She battled against the soreness bravely. The Danes were a
race with level nerves, trained by generations of self-control to look
upon moods and lack of breeding as synonymous terms; and Beatrix had
had no conception of the swift alternations of feeling which marked and
marred the temperament of Lorimer. Often as they had been together
during their rather long engagement, he had been able to maintain a
moderately even mood whenever Beatrix was within reach. On one or two
occasions, he had betrayed the fact that he was gloomy and depressed;
but it was not until they came into the every-day and all-day contact
which follows upon the heels of the marriage ceremony that she had
supposed he could be either irritable or petulant. By the time they had
come home from Europe, she was quite aware of both characteristics; yet
they were alternated with hours of passionate devotion, of a tender
chivalry which took away much of their sting. Lorimer loved his wife
loyally; nevertheless, the very traits which most won the admiration of
his better hours, were the first ones to antagonize him when his
moments of irritation were upon him.
If Beatrix had been of the same temper, the danger for the future
would have been infinitely less. Flash would have answered to flash;
and then the quiet current would have run on as if the perfect contact
had never been broken. Instead of that, her quieter, better-controlled
nature received his flashes and made no outward sign of the shock. In
the end, she remained painfully sensitive to his petulance, while his
real love for her left her unbelieving, cold and apathetic. She had
proof of the one; the other was mainly negative, in so far as practical
results were concerned.
Who are to be there? she asked, as soon as she could trust her
voice to be properly inexpressive.
Austin, and Tom Forbes, and Lloyd Avalons, and two or three men you
don't know, and Thayer.
Mr. Thayer? Her accent was incredulous.
Certainly. Why not?
I didn't know that he ever had anything to do with Mr. Dudley, and
I really can't imagine his caring to make a table companion of Lloyd
Lorimer's answering laugh was slightly bitter.
What a social Philistine you are, Beatrix! Thayer is not so
Does that mean I am narrow? she asked resentfully.
Yes, for a woman who frowned disapproval upon Sally Van Osdel's
Sally was talking of Mrs. Lloyd Avalons. Mrs. Lloyd Avalons is not
bad, only foolish: Mr. Lloyd Avalons is both. She drew a long breath,
as she paused with her teeth shut upon her lower lip. Suddenly her chin
began to quiver, and two heavy tears slid down her cheeks. Then she
rallied swiftly, for she knew that all men hate domestic tears.
Sidney, she said slowly and with an evident effort towards
steadiness; let's not discuss this any more. I will go to mother's,
and you may come for me there, after your dinner is over. I wish you
could go with me; but never mind. Only, Sidney,next time, please tell
me a little sooner when you make a dinner engagement, and then I shall
know just how to fit my plans into yours. And? She raised her eyes
to meet his squarely.
Yes, dear girl, I will be careful, he said, as he drew her to his
For a moment, she stood there, passive. Then she went away out of
Thayer was the last guest to arrive, that night, and when he entered
the room, he found that both host and chef were anxiously
awaiting his coming. He had spent the past two hours with Arlt,
listening to scraps of the completed overture, suggesting, praising,
criticising it with an acumen which surprised even the young composer,
though he was fast learning to attribute omniscience to his friend.
After the shabby room with its half-light, after the intent earnestness
of Arlt, Thayer felt a passing dislike of the gorgeousness and glare
and frivolity of the dinner. He was the last man to assert that good
art can only associate itself with homely origins, that prosperity is a
deadly foe to its growth. Nevertheless, he was fully conscious that
Arlt in his meagre surroundings was much nearer to his own ideals than
were the immaculate guests of the evening. Thayer loved luxury; but it
must not be accompanied by empty-headedness.
Thayer had had a definite purpose in accepting his invitation, that
night, a purpose which was quite alien to his mental estimate of his
host. Dudley, to his mind, was in some respects a shade or two better
than Lloyd Avalons, yet many shades worse in that his caddishness came
from deliberate choice, not from lack of training. In any case, Thayer
prayed that he might be remote from either of them, at table.
He quickly discovered that his prayer had been unavailing. He found
himself at the host's right hand, with Lorimer directly opposite. Lloyd
Avalons was next to Lorimer, and, as the dinner progressed by easy
stages, Thayer became aware that his purpose in coming was about to be
put to the test. The dinner was good and abundant; the wines were
better and yet more abundant, and Lloyd Avalons, who appeared to be
constructed of some material which alcohol was powerless to attack, saw
to it that Lorimer's glass was filled as often as his own. The result
was inevitable. Before Lloyd Avalons felt the slightest exhilaration,
Lorimer's brown cheeks were stained with red, and his voice was
mounting by semitones, then by whole tones, while his accent took on a
curiously insistent note which was quite foreign to the trivial
subjects of discussion.
How did it happen that you were at Eton, Lorimer? Dudley asked, at
the end of an unnecessarily long story.
My father took me over. He was at St. James, you know, and he
thought I would find more fellows of my own class at Eton than up here
That's modest of you, Lorimer, someone called, from the foot of
the table. But please remember that I'm an Andover man.
And even then wouldn't they accept you for the ministry? Lorimer
The man laughed with perfect good-temper. Already he was two glasses
ahead of Lorimer; but no outward sign betrayed the fact.
I am willing to bet that they kept you more strict at Eton than the
Doctor kept us.
Lorimer set down his glass and gave a knowing wink which, at another
time, he would have been swift to condemn in his left-hand neighbor.
They tried; but they couldn' do much about it. Besides, there was
college, you know.
We all have experienced university discipline, Dudley suggested.
It is swift and powerful, and nobody ever knows where it will hit
Lorimer appeared to be pondering the matter. Then he turned to Lloyd
D' you ever 'sperience university discipline? he demanded, with
Lloyd Avalons flushed angrily, and Thayer judged that it was time to
University discipline is more a matter of theory than of fact, he
said lightly. If you want real discipline, you'd better go through a
course of voice training. How much was my allowance, the last of the
time in Berlin, Lorimer? My salamanders were mere tadpoles.
Lorimer caught at the familiar word.
Ein! Zwei! Drei! Salamander! Salamander! Salamander! he
cried gayly. It makesh me homesick for the good ol' days in Berlin.
You were over, in January; weren't you? Lloyd Avalons asked.
Yes, aft' a fashion; but 't wasn' the ol' fashion. A studen' an' a
married man's two differen' things. I took Mrs. Lorimer everywhere an'
to show her grat'tude she took me in han'. And Lorimer's own laugh
rang out merrily at what seemed to him a superlatively good joke.
The next moment, Thayer's level voice, low, yet so perfectly trained
that it reached the farthest corner of the room, broke in upon
Lorimer's mirth and quenched it. There was no bitterness in his voice,
no excitement; he spoke as quietly as if he had been wishing his friend
It's a pity she isn't here to take you in hand now, Lorimer, he
said, with a smile. As long as she isn't, I think perhaps I'll do it,
The deliberate, even tone steadied Lorimer somewhat. He pulled
himself together and stared haughtily at Thayer.
What do you mean? he demanded. I don't understand you.
There was a short silence while it pleased Lorimer to imagine that
he was measuring his puny strength against the power of the other.
Then, before Thayer's gray eyes, his own eyes drooped.
I think you do understand, Lorimer, Thayer said calmly. If not,
we can talk it over outside. You know we are due at Mrs. Dane's at ten,
and it is almost that, now. Dudley, I am sorry that this is good-by for
so long. Don't let us break up the party. And, rising, he nodded to
the other guests and took his departure without a backward glance.
He had reckoned accurately, for experience had taught him to know
his man. Lorimer sat still for a moment, then hesitated, and rose. He
bade an over-cordial good-night to Dudley and Lloyd Avalons, exchanged
with the others a jesting word or two of which the humor was obviously
forced; then he sullenly followed Thayer out of the room and out of the
Once safely in the street, Thayer freed his mind, forcibly and
tersely according to his wont.
It's bad enough to fall into temptation, Lorimer; but the fellow
who deliberately canters into it comes mighty near not being worth the
saving. Some day, you'll wake up to find the truth of that fact; and
then Heaven help you, for there may not be anyone else willing to take
Slowly and by almost imperceptible stages, spring had crept into
summer and summer had crawled sluggishly into autumn. Rose color had
turned to green, green to gold, and then all colors had faded to the
uniform gray of November. To Beatrix it seemed that nature's change
typified that of her life; to Thayer and Arlt the rose color and the
gold were still glowing. For the time being, the problems of their
professional lives were absorbing them both, to the exclusion of more
human interests. Such epochs are bound to come to every man. However
broad and generous-minded he may be, there are hours when it seems to
him that the rising of the sun and the going down of the same are
functions of nature ordained merely for the sake of giving
chronological record of his own professional advancement. November
brought them both to this mood and, while it lasted, each found the
other his only satisfactory companion.
To Thayer the summer had been a matter of personal mathematics, the
solving of simultaneous personal equations. He had refused the
Lorimers' urgent invitation to join them at Monomoy. He had felt
unequal to prolong the double strain he had endured, those last weeks
in town before society broke up for the summer. It was almost
unbearable to him to be within daily reach of Beatrix, to be forced to
face her with the unvarying conventional smile of mere social
acquaintance. It was infinitely worse to be forced to look on and watch
the gradual wrecking of her hopes, to know that she was unhappy,
discouraged and full of fear for the future, and to realize that
another man was carelessly bringing upon her all this from which he
would have given his own life to shield her. Yet bad and worse were
subordinated to worst. The worst, the most unbearable phase of the
whole situation lay in the knowledge, again and again brought to the
proof, that he himself was the only living person who had the ability
to hold Lorimer even approximately steady, that in a way the thread of
his destiny was knotted together with that of Beatrix. He loved her
absolutely, and the only proof of his love for her must lie in his
strange power to make more tolerable for her the galling yoke of her
marriage to another man.
Even in these few short months, it had become evident to the world
that the yoke was a galling one. Beatrix wore it bravely, even
haughtily. Nevertheless, it was chafing her until she was raw. Like a
horse surprised by the discovery of its own power, from occasional
friskiness, Lorimer was settling into a steadily increasing pace.
During the months of probation, he had held himself fairly steady,
rather than lose the chance of winning Beatrix for his wife. Now that
she was won, he snapped the check he had put upon himself, and yielded
to the acquired momentum gained during his self-imposed repression. By
the time he came home from Europe, Bobby and Thayer both realized that
something was amiss. By the first of June, it was an open secret that
all was not well with Lorimer's soul.
Lorimer still loved Beatrix with all the fervor of his nature. To
him, she was the one and only woman in the world, someone to be
caressed and indulged and played with, the comrade of his domestic
hours. But, when the other mood was upon him, he acknowledged no right
upon her part to offer advice or warning. He treated her as one treats
a spoiled child, fondling her until her presence bored him or
interfered with his other plans, then quietly setting her aside and
going his own way alone. As far as any woman could have held him,
Beatrix could have done so; but in Lorimer's life feminine influence
was finite. When he was moved to take the bits in his teeth, only a
man, and but one man at that, was able to check him. That man was
Cotton Mather Thayer.
On a few occasions, Beatrix had endeavored to hold her husband, not
from temptation itself, but from the first steps towards it. She might
as well have tried to bar the rising tide with a pint sieve. At such
times, it seemed to her that Lorimer deliberately made up his mind to
have a revel, that he set himself to work to carry out his desires to a
satisfactory conclusion. These periods came at irregular intervals;
but, all in all, the intervals were shortening and the revels were
increasing. Beatrix learned their symptoms far too quickly; she learned
to know the depression and irritability which greeted her every effort
to rouse and to please him. It was at such times that Lorimer made
bitter revolt against what he termed her narrowness and prejudice, or
burst into occasional angry petulance, if she tried to urge him to cut
loose from the club and from the constantly-growing influence of Lloyd
Avalons who was discerning enough to discover that Lorimers appetite
was a possible lever by which he himself might pry himself up into a
more stable position in society. In this matter, however, Lloyd Avalons
was not quite so unprincipled as he seemed. To his mind, there was
nothing so very bad about a little matter of social intoxication. The
evil of drink was an affair bounded by purely geographical lines, and
he encouraged in Lorimer the very thing for which he would have been
prompt to dismiss the man who cleaned the snow off his sidewalk.
Afterwards, when the depression had ended in the revel, when they
both had ended in penitence, Lorimer temporarily came back again to the
old ways. The caressing intonations returned to his voice, as he talked
to Beatrix; his eyes followed her with loving pride, as she moved about
the room; for days at a time he devoted himself to her wishes, serving
her with a tireless chivalry which made her long to forget all that had
gone before. However, Beatrix could not forget certain facts; certain
episodes were so fixed in her memory that they seemed branded upon the
very tissue of her life. In some respects, these intervening days were
the hardest ones she had to bear. Lorimer seemed totally unable to
grasp the fact that any permanent barrier was rising between them, that
there was any real reason why they should not meet on precisely the old
ground. To his mind, half an hour of impulsive penitence could wipe out
half a night of deliberate sin, and Beatrix dared not explain to him
that it was otherwise. Her hold over him, that hold which once she had
deemed so strong, was growing slighter with every passing month. Any
hasty or ill-considered word from her might have the effect of
destroying it altogether. For the present, the most she could do, was
to avoid antagonizing him; and even that was no easy task. She was
quite unable to decide whether it took more self-control to accept in
silence his petulance or his caresses. Meanwhile, she was thankful for
the apparently growing friendship between Thayer and her husband.
During late May and all of June, Thayer was with Lorimer almost daily,
and Lorimer came nearest to his old, winning self on the days when he
had been longest in company with Thayer.
With the general scattering of people which heralds the coming of
summer, it seemed to Thayer that, for the time being, Lorimer's danger
was over, and it was with a sigh of utter relief that he saw Lorimer
and Beatrix starting for Monomoy. Strong as he was, Thayer had felt the
strain of the past six weeks; and it was good to hide himself with Arlt
in a Canadian fishing village, dismiss his responsibilities to his
neighbor, and give himself up to absolute idleness and much good music.
He had planned to spend August and September in Germany; but fate
willed otherwise. Less than a week before he was to sail, he received a
laconic epistle from Bobby Dane, dated at the hotel where he himself
had spent the previous summer.
DEAR THAYER,Wish you could come down here for August.
raising the deuce, and I can't do much with him. Besides, I am
ordered back, next week. I suppose the devil needs my
ministrations. I'll see to one, if you'll tackle the other.
R. F. DANE.
Thayer hesitated for three minutes. Then he wrote two telegrams. One
was to the office of the steamship company. The other was to the hotel
The reaction which followed, was a natural one. Late in September,
Thayer returned to New York, preparatory to a concert tour through New
England. Exhausted by the long strain of mastering both himself and
Lorimer, he threw himself into his work with a feverish intensity which
astounded Arlt and roused his audiences to the highest pitch of
enthusiasm. Thayer took his new honors quietly, however. In his secret
heart, he knew that this had been the simplest way to work off his
stored-up emotions, and he reached New York, early in November, with a
greater reputation and steadier nerves than he had even dared to hope.
The tour had been a prosperous one for Arlt, as well. Upon several
occasions, he had met with marked favor, and the little touch of
success had reacted upon his personality, rendering him more at ease,
more masterful with his audience. To be popular, art must be modest;
but woe betide it, if it be in the least deprecating! However, Arlt was
learning to face his public with a fairly good grace, and his public
showed itself willing to smile back at him in a thoroughly friendly
Arlt's overture was to have its first hearing, the week before
Thanksgiving. The matter had been arranged through the influence of his
teacher, and Arlt had been invited to conduct the orchestra for the
event. However, in spite of his added ease, Arlt had judged such an
ordeal too great for his courage. Accordingly, the teacher and Thayer
had taken council together, with the result that Thayer was engaged as
soloist for the evening, and that Thayer insisted upon singing one
group of songs with a piano accompaniment. To this minor detail, Arlt
had been forced to submit, although he was shrewd enough to see that it
was merely a ruse on the part of his teacher to bring him in person
before his audience.
The arrangement of these details, the orchestral rehearsals of the
overture and his own rehearsals with Arlt were engrossing Thayer
completely. Heart and soul, he was working for the boy's success, for
he realized that into this simple overture Arlt had put the very best
of himself, that the young composer's happiness was bound up in the
success or failure of his maiden effort. The creative power had come
upon him; he had worked to the utmost limit with the material ready to
his brain. Now he was waiting to have the world pass judgment whether
his work was worth the doing, whether he should keep on, or turn his
back upon his chosen path. Thayer's own plans, too, were maturing. In
the watching them develop, in the helping Arlt to pass the time of
waiting, he almost succeeded in forgetting the Lorimers. Almost; but
not quite. The forgetting was a little too intentional to be entirely
complete. He met them rarely. Society had not yet organized its winter
campaign, and it was still possible for a man to go his own individual
way. Just now, Thayer's own individual way led him almost daily in the
direction of Washington Square.
He was in Arlt's room, one evening, less than a week before the
concert. He had been dining with Miss Gannion; but he had left her
early, in order to impress upon Arlt that he must accept his bidding to
the supper which the Lorimers were to give after the concert. The
invitations had been noncommittal, and Arlt had announced his intention
of declining his own, on the plea of being too tired with his overture
to care to do anything more, that night. Miss Gannion had told Thayer
what he already half suspected, that Beatrix was really giving this
supper in Arlt's honor and that it was to be the first large affair of
the season, in the hope of focussing public attention upon the boy at
the very moment of his having proved his real genius as composer.
Thayer appreciated to the full the gracious kindliness of the plan, and
he had excused himself to Miss Gannion and hurried away in search of
Arlt, devoutly praying, as he went, that the note of regret might not
be already on its way.
He was but just in time. The sealed note lay on the table, and Arlt
was shrugging himself into his overcoat, when Thayer entered the room.
Ten minutes later, they were still arguing the matter, when they heard
an unfamiliar step coming up the stairs.
Mr. Arlt? A strange voice followed the knock.
Arlt opened the door hospitably. The dim light in the hallway showed
him a figure known to every opera singer in America and half of Europe.
Will you come in? he asked, in some surprise.
Is Mr. Thayer here?
I am. Thayer stepped into the lighted doorway. You wished me?
Yes. What is more, I need you. We know each other well by sight, so
I suppose there is no call for us to waste time on introductions. Mr.
Thayer, Principali, one of my best baritones, is ill and is forced to
cancel his engagements. Will you take his place?
Thayer meditated swiftly, during a moment of silence.
What are the operas?
Wagner, Faust of course, andoh, the usual run of extras.
What reason have you to think that I am fitted for your vacancy?
Thayer asked directly.
The impresario smiled.
Your old master in Berlin is one of my most intimate friends. He
gave you a letter of introduction to me, I think? The accent was
interrogative, although it was plain that only one answer was expected.
He did, Thayer assented quietly.
Yes, and I have been waiting for more than a year in the hope that
you would present it. Since you will not come to me, I am at last
driven to go in search of you.
Thayer bowed gravely in recognition of the implied compliment. He
realized that he was suddenly facing a question which might affect his
whole after life, and he was too much in earnest to waste words on mere
conventional phrases. He liked the old man, and he felt a swift,
burning longing to accept his offer. It had come unsought, unexpected.
Was not fate in it; and was not a man always justified in following out
his fate? To accept it would be in a great measure to cut himself off
from his present social life. An operatic engagement would engross him
completely. All in all, it might be better so. And yet, there was
something to be said upon the other side. Was he justified in working
out his own professional salvation at the certain cost of the damnation
of another soul? That was what it amounted to in the long run. If he
went into opera, he must separate himself from all connection with
Sidney Lorimer. He could not take the time to visit Lorimer's world; it
would be sure and swift destruction to Lorimer, if he were to set foot
within the new world which Thayer was preparing to enter. Thayer
realized that the horns of his dilemma were long and curving. The offer
tempted him sorely; yet, for some unaccountable reason, he shrank from
turning his back upon Lorimer. And, besides, if Beatrix
How long would you need me?
The entire season.
In Faust, on the tenth of next month.
The impresario saw that Thayer was hesitating. The idea of Faust
plainly attracted him, and the impresario hastily followed up the
Yes, we want you for Valentine.
My favorite part, Thayer said, half to himself.
The impresario smiled serenely. He felt no question now as to the
outcome of his errand.
Calvé will sing Marguerite; it will be a good cast. After
that, we shall need you, two or three times a week, and the salary
Impatiently Thayer brushed his words aside.
How soon must you have my answer?
Very well. Then, no.
The impresario straightened up in his chair.
Mr. Thayer! he remonstrated.
It is impossible for me to bind myself for an entire season,
without more time to think the matter over, Thayer said quietly.
But it is important that I should know, in order to make my other
Then you would better consider it settled in the negative, Thayer
The impresario wavered.
How much time do you need? he asked a little impatiently.
I must have a week.
Very well, then. But I thank you for the honor you have done me in
asking me to fill the place.
Thayer rose with an air of decision, and the impresario could do
nothing else than follow his example. At the door, he turned back.
Mr. Thayer, there is no use in my trying to conceal the fact that I
want you badly. If I will wait until a week from to-night, will you
give me your answer then?
I will, Thayer replied imperturbably.
And sign the contracts on the spot?
I will, Thayer repeated; but remember this: in the meantime, I am
binding myself to nothing. Good-night.
He went down the stairs with the impresario. When he returned to
Arlt's room, a moment later, he took up the conversation at the precise
point where they had dropped it; but, even in the dusky room, Arlt
could see that Thayer's eyes were blazing as he had never seen them
till then. Not long afterwards, Thayer glanced down at his own strong,
slim hand that rested on the table beside him. The fingers were moving
restlessly and, on the back, the cords twitched a little now and then.
Thayer watched it curiously for a moment. Then he clasped his hands on
his knee and held them there, motionless.
Above the murmur of talk of his guests, Lorimer's voice rose, high
and clear, merry as the voice of a happy child.
It's a great night for you, Arlt, the night of your life. Ladies
and ge'men, le's drink to Mr. Arlt.
You've done it once, Lorimer, Thayer interposed. Arlt will be
getting more than is good for him.
And so will you, he might have added; but there seemed to him a
certain impossibility in imposing a check upon a man in his own house
and in the presence of his own guests.
Lorimer laughed out blithely.
Ne' mind. Arlt can stand it; his head is level. B'sides, las' time,
I drank to Arlt the composer. This time, it's to Arlt the accompanist.
He hasn' any business to play a double rôle, if he can' stan' the
double applause. To the success of Mr. Otto Arlt!
Thayer raised his glass and set it down again, untasted. As he
glanced across at Arlt with an explanatory smile, he caught the eyes of
Beatrix fixed upon him imploringly. It was evident that she was putting
her hope in him to end the scene; but for the once Thayer was ready to
confess himself beaten. The house and the champagne both were
Lorimer's. Under these conditions, he was powerless to act. Moreover,
he felt a sudden impatience with Beatrix for allowing the champagne in
her own home, when she had learned from months of bitter experience
that a single glass could render Lorimer totally untrustworthy. If this
were the measure of her influence for good, she might as well have
married Lorimer in the first place, without insisting upon those long
months of probation. As he had watched the progress of that merry
supper in Arlt's honor, Thayer had been distressed about Lorimer and
about the scene which must inevitably follow; but his distress had been
as nothing in comparison with his disappointment in Beatrix.
In reality, Beatrix had had no responsibility in the matter.
I don't see any need of our having champagne, Sidney, she had
said, on the morning that they had first discussed the detail of the
Lorimer had been in one of his old-time moods. Now he laughed a
What a Puritan you are, Beatrix! he said, as he bent caressingly
over her shoulder to read the completed list of guests.
Not a Puritan, she urged; but I would rather not have the
champagne, Sidney. It isn't at all necessary; we can get on perfectly
well without it.
And a good deal better with it, he retorted, laughing. Well,
never mind it now, dear girl. But what about a florist?
And Beatrix, delighted at her easy victory, had allowed herself to
be led off into a consideration of the decorations for the table. She
could not be expected to foresee that, in giving the final orders for
the supper, Lorimer would include a generous allowance of champagne.
Neither could she have foreseen that one of the invitations would find
its way into the hands of Lloyd Avalons. Confronted suddenly by both
the champagne and Lloyd Avalons, Beatrix had faltered only for a
moment. Then she had rallied to meet the inevitable crisis so swiftly
that no one but Bobby Dane at her elbow had been aware of her momentary
weakness. Thayer had been at the other end of the room, and had missed
the instant of hesitation. By the time he had discovered the situation,
Beatrix had forced herself to meet it as a matter of course. She
faltered a second time, however, as she met the questioning glance
which Thayer gave her. She had learned to care for his good opinion;
she knew that now she was in danger of forfeiting it. Nevertheless, her
loyalty to her husband was paramount. Never by a spoken word had she
implied to Thayer that Lorimer was falling below her ideals. To-night,
hurt as she was by his deception, anxious as she was in regard to the
outcome of the episode, nevertheless she remained true to her usual
careful reticence. To a woman of Beatrix Lorimer's temper it was easier
to bear unjust blame than to demand just pity. And yet, as she
recognized that the facts were apparently all against her, she could
not help hoping that Thayer would suspend judgment until he had talked
with Bobby Dane. Bobby had seen the memoranda for the supper, and had
advised her in regard to some of the details. Not only was he the one
person besides herself and Lorimer who knew the whole truth; but he
could invariably be relied upon to tell the truth in its entirety.
As Lorimer had said, it was a great night for Arlt. His work had
scored a complete success, and he had been called twice before the
audience to receive in person his applause. Something in the simple
overture had caught the fancy of the orchestra, and they had played it
with an enthusiasm, had interpreted it with a dainty accuracy to Arlt's
own mood which would have won prompt recognition for a work of far less
merit. The critics were warm in their praises; but the audience, upon
whom a popular success depends far more than upon the professional
leaders of opinion, was in a mood to be expressed by no such temperate
phrase. As he lingered in the Lorimers' box, watching the young German
come forward to the footlights, Thayer was ready to predict a fair
measure of lasting popularity to his friend. The audience was most
hospitable to him. It now remained for the Lorimers' supper to set upon
him the seal of social approval. For Arlt's sake, Thayer devoutly hoped
that the supper would be a success. Under other conditions, he might
have had his doubts. This was the first time he had seen Lorimer for
weeks; but the stories which had drifted to his ears had not been
reassuring. In Lorimer's own house, however, there could be no danger.
He felt that he could count upon Beatrix to forestall that.
In the weeks since they had met, it seemed to him that Beatrix must
have grown more beautiful with each passing day. Beneath the perfect
poise of her manner, he could see an increasing gentleness, a sadness
which was under absolute control. She was as strong as ever, but less
self-reliant. Experience had taught her that she was powerless to fight
alone. In her worst battles, she had learned that she must rely upon
another; and Thayer, as he watched her, rejoiced that that other was
himself. His weeks of separation from her, of enforced forgetfulness,
had taught him a lesson which he had been loath to learn. Rather than
be outside her world, rather than be upon the same footing as all the
other inhabitants of that world, he would gladly endure a strain like
that of the past summer, would accept the place where fate had put him,
as the one man who could make more tolerable her own life with her
husband. It was not a dignified position; yet, for her sake, he
believed that he could fill it in a way which would add dignity to the
lives of them both. At least, he would do the best that was in him. He
took no account of the possibility that, within an hour, he would be
balked in his efforts by certain uninfringible laws of hospitality.
Moreover, Lorimer went on, still in that unwonted high, clear
voice; le's drink to Arlt's mother an' sister, Frau Arlt an' Frãulein
The sudden angry color blazed up in Arlt's cheeks, and he
straightened in his chair. Then he caught Thayer's eye, and with an
effort he controlled himself. The instant's by-play had caused Thayer
to lose the next words of his host; but Lorimer's laugh was ringing out
with such infectious mirth that the guests were laughing with him,
although with obvious reluctance to show their merriment.
Lorimer babbled on discursively.
I knew 'em well. They were having har' times to get on, an' Arlt
here could n' begin to carry the load. It was killing him, an' so
Thayer an' I
Let the rest go, Lorimer, Thayer broke in hastily, for now two
appealing faces were looking to him for help. We know all about it.
Lorimer turned to him with an air of grave rebuke.
You know, Thayer, for you were there. But the res' do' know. How
could they? They were n' there. He paused long enough to empty the
glass before him. Then he braced one hand against the edge of the table
and raised the other, as if to add emphasis to his words. I was there,
an' you were there, an' Arlt was there. Nobody else was there. If they
had been, they'd know 'bout it, to-night. Plucky fellow, Arlt, an' he
d'serves his success. If 't had n' been for you an' me, Thayer, Arlt
would have gone under, though. No wond' Frau Arlt calls me Lieb Sohn. If it had n' been for me, she would n' have had any sohn 't
all. With me, there's pair of us.
He delivered himself of this long speech with an air of portentous
gravity. Then he turned away from Thayer and smiled benignly up the
table. Side by side at the farther end, Arlt and Beatrix seemed
powerless to take their eyes from his face. Lorimer caught the eye of
Beatrix and instantly his face lighted, as he kissed his hand to her.
Supper's a gran' success, dear girl, he called gayly. Ought to
be, cost 'nough, an' has been no end trouble; but it pays. People will
know wha' we think of Arlt now. He's geniush, 'n no mishtake; are n'
Bobby, Sally whispered; I must go away, I can't bear this for
Bobby nodded comprehendingly.
Slip out, the next time he begins on Thayer. I think you can do it,
and you oughtn't to stay. I wish the others would go, too.
They may follow me. I would break it up, if I dared; butBobby,
So am I, Bobby growled through his shut teeth. Come back in the
morning, Sally. Beatrix may need you. I'd go with you now; but I dare
not leave things.
But Lorimer's eye was upon them.
Wha' now, Sally? he asked jovially. Bobby been making a bad pun,
that you look so savage?
Sally hesitated. For one instant, she eyed her host as if he had
been a scorpion that had crawled across her path. Then she controlled
herself, and her voice took on its customary mocking drawl.
No; I only feel savage because I know you must have set the clocks
ahead. Just see! It is high time we all were going home, and you know I
always hate to start.
Lorimer glanced at the clock on the mantel. Then he turned to the
man behind his chair.
Stop tha' clock! he commanded. We can' have anybody talk 'bout
going home yet. Night's only jus' begun, an' there's quarts more
champagne. Beatrix did n' wan' us to have any; but I don' believe in
Sally had already risen, and one or two other women, casting
furtive, apologetic glances towards Beatrix, were hurriedly following
Sally's example. In the slight confusion, it seemed to Thayer that his
chance had come, and he took it. Unfortunately, however, for the once
he had reckoned without his man. He had kept careful count of the
glasses which Lorimer had emptied since he had sat down at the table,
and he knew that the danger limit was not far distant. In fact, the
danger limit was already passed. Thayer had had no means of taking into
account the glasses which Lorimer had slyly emptied, during his short
absence from the room before they had gone to the table. The mischief
was already done. The slightest shock which could disturb Lorimer's
present mood would be sufficient to destroy his whole mental balance
past any possibility of restoration. Thayer's error in judgment
promptly furnished the shock.
Lorimer had turned again to the butler at the back of his chair.
Fill thish up, he demanded, as he pointed to his glass.
With a swift gesture, Thayer caught the man's attention, and shook
his head. The man hesitated, halting between two masters. The one paid
him his wages; the other commanded his entire respect, and it was not
easy for him to choose the one whom he should obey.
Fill thish up, I shay! Lorimer's voice was thicker, his accent
Swiftly the old butler glanced at Thayer as if for instructions, and
Thayer again shook his head. This time, Lorimer saw the signal. The
next instant, his empty glass was flying straight in the direction of
There was a frightened outcry from the women; but Thayer swerved
slightly to one side, and the glass crashed harmlessly against the
mantel. There followed the tinkle of the falling pieces, then a
stillness so profound that from one end to the other of the long room
Lorimer's heavy breathing was distinctly audible. The impending crisis
seemed to paralyze the guests. Those who had risen, stood motionless in
their places; the others made no effort to rise. They remained there
together, silent, passive, tense, with Lorimer facing them all, like a
savage beast at bay.
[Illustration: Beatrix still sat at the disordered table"]
The interval, seemingly so endless, lasted only for a moment. Then,
with a beast-like snarl, Lorimer sprang up, overturning his chair, and
hurled himself straight upon Thayer. Strong as he was, Thayer tottered
before the blow, for the strength of Lorimer just then was far beyond
the human. Drink-crazed and brutalized, he had the fierce power of a
maddened brute. There was a swift, sharp struggle, broken by strange,
inarticulate cries, making the women hide their faces and cram their
fingers into their ears to shut out sight and sound. Then the struggle
grew still again, and they heard Thayer's steady voice saying,
I think he is quiet now. Dane, will you help me to carry him to his
One by one, the terrified guests slank away. There were no
good-nights scarcely a whispered word in the dressing-rooms upstairs.
At length, they were all gone, and the house was still. The lights from
the open windows glared out across the night, and the rooms inside were
heavy with the fragrance of roses and the smell of champagne. Upstairs
in Lorimer's room, Thayer and Bobby Dane were watching the lethargic
sleep which had fallen upon their host, and counting the moments until
Arlt could bring the doctor back with him. Downstairs, alone in the
abandoned dining-room, Beatrix still sat at the disordered table, with
her head bowed forward upon her clasped hands.
It's a devilish mess, do what you will, Bobby said grimly, the
The punishment seems a good deal out of proportion to the cause,
Thayer replied briefly.
Hh! Bobby grunted. I think he did well to get off without a
genuine case of D. T.
I was speaking of your cousin, not of Lorimer.
Bobby stared at him in astonishment.
Really, Thayer, I can't see any cause that was of Beatrix's
making, he returned haughtily.
It was mistaken judgment, to say the least, to have champagne in
the house, Thayer answered.
Beatrix had nothing to do with that, Bobby blazed forth angrily.
It was that brute of a Lorimer, and he deserves all he got, and more,
too. I saw the order to the caterer, made out in Beatrix's handwriting,
and there wasn't a pint of champagne on it. Lorimer sent in the order
afterwards, just as he invited that serpent of a Lloyd Avalons. Beatrix
couldn't help herself.
She could have countermanded the order.
She didn't know it till the guests were there. I was with her when
she discovered it, and she took it like a heroine. She was perfectly
helpless. She couldn't make a scene in her own house, and she couldn't
reasonably be expected to send her guests home. She knew exactly what
was bound to happen, what she couldn't help happening, and she kept her
head steady and faced the thing as boldly as she could. I never thought
you would be the one to go back on her, Thayer.
Thayer started to speak. Then he squared his jaw, and was silent.
After a long interval, he said humbly,
I have wronged your cousin, Dane. I am very sorry.
So am I, Bobby returned flatly. Beatrix has come to where she
needs every friend she owns in the world to stand by her. By to-night,
the story of that supper will have spread from the Battery to
Poughkeepsie bridge. It will be garbled and twisted into all manner of
shapes, and it will come boomeranging back at her from every quarter of
the town. When it comes to gossip, we find Manhattan Island is a mighty
small place; but I suppose Australia is just as bad.
Thayer interrupted his meditations ruthlessly.
How is Lorimer, this morning? You've been to the house, I suppose.
Yes, I've just come from there. Lorimer is convalescent, which
means he is a blamed sight better than he deserves to be. I didn't care
to see him; but they assured me he was sitting up and regaling himself
on raw oysters and chicken broth. He is probably an edifying spectacle
by this time, a mush of maudlin penitence. I've seen him before this in
his next-morning mood. Put not your trust in a moral jellyfish! And
Bobby, his fists in his pockets, stamped up and down the room to ease
his resentment. The next move is to be a radical one, he continued,
after a pause. They are going into the Adirondacks.
Thayer looked up sharply.
Beatrix and Lorimer.
Safety; taking to the woods, and all that.
What do you mean, Dane? Thayer asked sternly. This is no time for
joking. Do speak out.
I beg your pardon, Thayer. The fact is, I am utterly reckless, this
morning, and I don't know nor care what I am saying. If you loved
Beatrix as I do
Yes, Thayer returned quietly. I understand.
No; you don't. You can't. We've been such chums. What hurts her,
hurts me; and, to my dying day, I shall never forget her as we found
her in the dining-room, last night. She knew then it was all over.
Bobby's voice broke upon the last words; then he pulled himself up
sharply. This morning, we had a council of war, Mrs. Dane and Beatrix
and the doctor and I. The doctor says that Beatrix isn't well, and that
another such scene would kill her, or worse. I was for shutting Lorimer
up in an inebriate asylum; but Beatrix opposed the idea. She was so
excited about it that the doctor finally took sides with her, and said
that she and Lorimer would better not be separated, at least, not until
something else comes up. Do you grasp the pleasant state of things?
Lorimer is to be left with her till something does come up; when the
something does come, it may kill her. That's what they call an
alternative, I suppose.
But the Adirondacks? Thayer reminded him. It was unlike Bobby Dane
to go off like this into conversational blind alleys. Thayer, as he
listened and looked at his friend's haggard face, realized suddenly
that Bobby was far less superficial than was generally supposed.
The doctor ordered them both out of town. It is the only way to
keep Lorimer out of mischief, get him into the wilderness to live on
venison and bromides. We chose the Adirondacks because it was near and
safe, and because we could tell people that Beatrix needed the air. Of
course, they'll know we are lying; but we may as well lie valiantly and
plausibly, while we are about it.
When do they go?
They hire a cottage, and take enough servants to run it. Then there
will be a man for Lorimer. The doctor insisted upon that.
Beatrix and Lorimer.
And Mrs. Dane?
No; no one else.
You don't mean that Mrs. Lorimer is going up into that wilderness
Alone with her liege lord, Bobby said bitterly.
But she mustn't. It's not safe.
Who can go? Mrs. Dane is not strong; she would only be an extra
care for Beatrix.
Mr. Dane, then.
He's no use. I would go, myself; but I can't well get off. Besides,
Lorimer hates me, and my being there would only make it harder for
Beatrix. Do you really think she ought to have someone? Bobby's voice
For nine days, no; for the tenth, yes, Thayer said decidedly. We
both know that, some time or other, Lorimer is bound to go on another
spree. No; there's no use in being too hard on him. The time has
passed, if it ever existed, when he was as responsible as you would be,
or I. It's in his blood, and he has lost all his nerve to fight it out.
But, when that spree comes, if it comes while they are up there, Mrs.
Lorimer must have someone to stand back of her. Who is there?
Bobby shook his head.
I don't know, he confessed. I would go, if I could; but I can't.
There was a long silence between the two men. Thayer, sitting at his
desk, was absently measuring his blotting pad with a letter, so many
envelopes' length this way, so many that. The letter was from the
impresario, reminding him that his decision was due, that night, and
urging him to accept the offer. At length, Thayer turned around away
from the desk, and faced Bobby.
Is there a hotel near there? he asked.
Half a mile away.
Open at this season?
Yes, there are always cranks and consumptives, you know.
Thayer faced back again and measured the blotter anew. Then he
tossed the letter aside and, rising, walked across to the mantel.
I think I'll go up there for a little while, he said briefly.
Thayer! You can't.
Because you mustn't. It's impossible.
Thayer mistook his meaning.
I can't see the impossibility, Dane. Lorimer wasis my friend. I
knew him long before I ever heard of Mrs. Lorimer. I was their guest at
Monomoy for a month, last summer, too. We both of us know that I can
hold Lorimer, when nobody else can. I don't pretend to understand it,
myself; but the fact remains. All in all, I think I am the best
possible person to go.
His voice was quiet, yet its every accent was final and
uncompromising. Before its dignity, Bobby felt like a rebuked child. He
hastened to justify himself.
I wasn't thinking of that at all, Thayer. The idea would have been
an insult both to you and to Beatrix. I know that Beatrix feels she can
rely on you to manage Lorimer; but nevertheless it is absolutely out of
the question for you to go.
Your engagements for the winter.
I have made no engagements yet.
Is that a fact?
As a general rule, I tell the truth, Thayer answered dryly.
Well, you are sure to make some.
Perhaps. When I do, it will be time enough for me to keep them.
But your reputation! Bobby urged.
What of it?
How is it going to stand your burying yourself in the wilderness,
just when you have the city at your feet?
It will have to stand it. It will, if it is worth anything at all.
Thayer, you sha'n't! Bobby protested. It's Quixotic and idiotic.
You sha'n't spoil your own good life for the sake of Lorimer's bad one.
He isn't worth it.
Thayer straightened his shoulders and threw back his head.
What about Mrs. Lorimer? he asked steadily.
The clock marked the passing seconds until hundreds of them had gone
away, never to return. Then Bobby crossed the room and laid his hand on
Thayer, he said slowly; you are a fool, an utterly asinine fool;
but I can't help wishing that there were a few more fools in the world
just like you.
And in that instant, it flashed into Bobby Dane's mind that, ever
since he had first come to know Cotton Mather Thayer, he had been
expecting and awaiting just such a scene.
Late that same afternoon, Miss Gannion's card was brought to
Beatrix. All that day, she had denied herself to callers; not even
Sally Van Osdel had been admitted. Ten minutes before Miss Gannion
came, Beatrix would have said that she too must be sent away; but, as
she read the name on the card, she felt a sudden impulsive longing to
see her old-time friend.
Miss Gannion wasted no words on conventional greeting.
You dear child! she said quietly. I know a little about what has
happened; but it is all I need to know. Talk about it or not, just as
Urged or repressed, Beatrix would have held herself steady,
reticent. All day long, she had kept herself quiet, going through her
usual domestic routine, answering notes of invitation and then
methodically sorting out the clothing she would need during her absence
from town. She had refused her mother's help and she had sent away her
maid; it was a relief to her to keep busy. Left to herself and idle,
the future easily could have occupied her whole attention; but as yet
she was not strong enough to face it. Strange to say, there had been no
benumbing effect of her sorrow. From the first hour, she had been able
to grasp with dreary clearness all its details, all its effect upon the
present and upon the future which now to her was freighted with a
double burden of anxiety and alarm.
All day long until late afternoon, she had forced this quiet upon
herself; but it could not go on indefinitely. Already the tug and
wrench upon her nerves was slackening, and Miss Gannion's words brought
the swift revulsion. The older woman shrank before the storm of
passionate sorrow. Then she braced herself to bear it, for she realized
that it was the flood which must inevitably follow the breaking down of
the dykes that for months had pent in the seas of a daily and hourly
agony such as a weaker soul than that of Beatrix could never know.
It was long before Beatrix dared trust her voice to speak, and then
Miss Gannion was startled at the utter dreariness of her tone.
It has all been a horrible mistake, she said slowly. I thought I
was stronger. I did believe that I could hold him, Miss Gannion. I
didn't rush into it carelessly, as most girls do. I knew all the
danger. I thought about it, and measured it against my strength and
against the strength of his love. I truly thought I could hold him.
I know, dear, Miss Gannion said gently. I thought so, too.
But I couldn't. I did try, try my best. But it was no use. And yet,
he did love me, just as I did love him.
Did love? Miss Gannion questioned, for Beatrix had paused, as if
Yes, did love. My love is dead, Miss Gannion.
But it may come back.
Never. It never can. He has killed it utterly. I am sorry. I don't
know why I am telling you, for no one else must know it, not even
Sidney himself. He doesn't suspect it at all now, and I mean that he
never shall. If I made the mistake in the first place, I ought to be
the one to suffer for it, not he.
But he loves you now, Miss Gannion said unsteadily.
To-day. Yesterday, he forgot me entirely; to-day, he cares for me
just as he always has done, no more, no less. I wish I could care for
him; but I can't. I feel perfectly cold, as if nothing more could ever
But, in timeafter you have forgotten last night
Beatrix shook her head.
My love for Sidney did not die, last night. It was too strong, too
much alive, to be killed by the facts of one single night. No; it had
been ailing for months; but it finally died, six weeks ago, and nothing
now can ever make it live again. Miss Gannion, I have been very
I don't think so, Beatrix.
But Beatrix gently drew herself out of Miss Gannion's arms, rose and
stood looking down at her friend. In that moment, confronted by
Beatrix's sad, calm face and luminous eyes, the little gray-haired
woman suddenly realized that, notwithstanding the difference in their
years, Beatrix was looking into mysteries which were far beyond her
Yes, I was selfish, Beatrix went on steadily. I loved Sidney; I
was happy in his love, and I believed that, through both our loves, I
could be strong enough to save him from himself. I knew it was a risk,
a terrible risk, but I took it for granted that the risk would come
only on myself, and, for both our sakes, I was willing to assume it. I
was nothing but a child, for all I felt so wise, and I stopped there,
without looking ahead. I was wrong, woefully, sinfully wrong. I was
selfish, for I thought of nothing beyond myself. Now that it is too
late, I am beginning to realize what it all may mean to the next
O the long and dreary Winter!
O the cold and cruel Winter!
Thayer's voice was wonderfully rich and mellow, as he stood at the
window softly singing over to himself that haunting, tragic Famine
Theme from The Death of Minnehaha. Fresh from its weeks of
resting, low, yet suggesting an immeasurable reserve power, it had all
its old throbbing magnetism; but a new quality had been added to it. It
had always had moments of passionate appeal; now it had gained a
sadness, a depth of melancholy which in the past it had been powerless
to express. A year before, Thayer could strike the tragic note, never
Nevertheless, the pathos was apparently merely a matter of the vocal
cords. The tall, alert, well-groomed man who stood at the snow-veiled
window in no way suggested being a candidate for sympathy. His eyes
were clear, his brows unfurrowed. Moreover, one could never dream of
condoling with the owner of such a voice. Taken quite by itself, its
possession would outweigh an almost infinite number of human woes.
Ever thicker, thicker, thicker
Froze the ice on lake and river,
Ever deeper, deeper, deeper
Fell the snow
Hiawatha's wigwam might well have been just beyond the spruce
thicket, Thayer reflected. The description was too accurate to be
artistic; it amounted to mere photography. As far as his own eyes could
see, the earth lay buried in a deep, soft blanket of snow, and the air
above was misty with flakes which neither fell nor scurried before the
wind, but hung apparently motionless in the still, cold air. All
through the preceding night, however, the wind had blown fiercely. The
snow lay heaped in heavy, irregular drifts across the open plain; but
under the trees it was rolled up into soft waves whose tops curled over
as daintily as the waves had curled over on the moonlit beach of
Monomoy. The lake was frozen over and snow-covered; but the creek that
came rushing down to meet it was too swift to be overtaken by the
frost, and it showed, an inky-dark, sinuous line of open water, winding
away and away among the trees, now losing itself in a thicket of
alders, now drawing a straight black mark across an open stretch of
meadow where the frost-flowers on its banks offered a delicate
substitute for their summer kin.
Half a mile away to the south, the mountain rose abruptly, its face
of sheer rock making a dark scar on the winter landscape, a scar
crossed with long white bands and bars of ice which, glacier-wise, were
creeping over the edge of the cliff as if seeking to veil its sinister
face. Against the base of the mountain, close to the inky creek,
another patch of darkness stood out in bold relief. This patch was the
In spite of the haunting melancholy of his song, Thayer looked out
at the cottage and at the storm with a feeling of supreme content.
Lorimer hated storms with a catlike fervor; it was an old-time
peculiarity of his, dating from their student days in Göttingen. There
was no likelihood of his leaving the cottage, that day; and, inside the
cottage with his man to look out for him, Thayer felt that he was
beyond the possibility of danger. It was seven weeks since they had
buried themselves in that wilderness, seven weeks that Thayer had
voluntarily kept himself under the daily and hourly strain of constant
intimate association with the woman he loved, of knowing that she
gained strength and courage from her reliance upon him, and of forcing
himself to treat her with an offhand good-fellowship which defied
analysis for the mere reason that it challenged none.
A weaker man than Thayer would have yielded to the strain, or else
have grown fretful under its chafing. Thayer did neither. He felt the
chafing, galling burden which he bore; but he kept the scars out of
sight of others, and moreover, he conscientiously refrained from
looking at them, himself. Self-pity is the surest, yet the most
insidious foe to self-poise. When the original Cotton Mather Thayer had
stuck a splinter of wood into the palm of his hand, he had pulled out
the splinter with his teeth and then, punching his hand into his
pocket, he had continued his discussion of the latest election to the
General Court. His namesake was proving himself true to the traditions
of his blood.
Twice only had Thayer sought outlet for his mood. Twice the almost
deserted hotel had vibrated with such singing as it was destined never
to have heard, before or since. The piano was passable and, shut up
alone in the barren parlor, Thayer had sung to the empty chairs as he
had never yet sung to any crowded audience. Out in the halls, the
people of the house gathered in listening, whispering groups; but
Thayer never heeded them. It is not certain that, heeding, he would
have cared. Relief he must have at any cost, and this was the one means
at his command. His own voice, laden with passionate sadness, came
echoing back to him from the unresponsive walls, and in time the echo
checked his outcry. It taught him anew the lesson which already he had
conned again and again, the lesson that his bitterest plaint fell on no
one else's ears with half the compelling fervor with which it reached
his own, that his cry for help came beaten back to the one person who
could help him, that washimself. But at least, there was some relief
in having made his cry.
He had never allowed himself to regret his answer to the impresario.
Day by day, he realized more and more keenly that his presence there
was imperative. Beatrix seemed to him far from well. Her nerves had
been less steady since the shock of that last supper in New York; she
was totally unable to adjust herself to Lorimer's swift alternations of
mood, his hours of demonstrative affection, his times of black
depression and irritability. Thayer saw that she did her best, that she
bravely sought to play a loyal part in the work of reformation. The
failure was in no sense that of will, but of mere nervous strength. But
there were hours and hours when Thayer stood between them, trying by
his sympathy for Lorimer to atone for Beatrix's coldness, trying by his
chivalry to Beatrix to make amends for the fractiousness of Lorimer.
There were hours when he mourned acutely for his work. They
invariably followed upon the heels of a letter from Arlt and they
invariably ended in his going to the cottage and dragging Lorimer out
for a tramp in the stinging air. The doctor had ordered much exercise,
and Lorimer, who refused to go beyond his door in the society of his
man, made long expeditions at Thayer's side, returning weary of body,
but of placid mood and healthy appetite, to spend a short evening and a
long and restful night.
The day before, they had been out since early morning. The
deep-packed snow had lain, hard and solid and tempting, and the sun
glittered coldly back into the windless air. Lorimer had been in high
spirits. One of his old gay, infectious moods was upon him, and, for
the passing hour, Thayer let himself yield to it until he forgot
Beatrix, forgot the tragedy which overhung them all, forgot even the
number of miles they had come. At noon, they had found a wood-choppers'
camp and, sitting around the blazing fire, they had mingled their
daintily-packed lunch with the cruder fare of their temporary hosts.
Lorimer had been the life of the party, and the good-bys had been
spoken with real regret. At the top of the hill above the camp, Lorimer
had turned back again to wave his cap in boyish farewell. Then the
episode had ended, ended more completely than Thayer as yet could
Lorimer's mood changed on the way home. He grumbled about the
softening snow, about the gathering dusk, about the length of the road.
His exasperation reached its height when, ignoring Thayer's advice in
regard to the path, he struck out across an open snowfield, only to go
crashing down through its insecure foundation of baby spruces whose
lusty little branches bore up the snow like myriad arms. When Lorimer
emerged from the shallow caverns beneath, his temper was of the
blackest, and, all the rest of the way home, he had stalked along in
gloomy silence, ten feet in the rear of his companion's heels.
Thayer had judged that it would he well to invite himself to stay to
dinner at the cottage. Lorimer had been in one of his worst moods, and
even Thayer had found it wellnigh impossible to keep the talk brisk and
amicable. He had remained until he had seen that Lorimer was at last
yielding to the inevitable drowsiness of his long day in the open air;
then he had started back to the hotel. Once outside the cottage,
however, he had squared his shoulders and drawn a deep breath of
relief. He needed mental ozone; but even physical ozone was better than
mental nitrous oxide.
And now he was standing at the snow-veiled window, looking across at
the cottage while he hummed to himself the recurring, haunting Famine
O the famine and the fever!
O the wasting of the famine!
O the blasting of the fever!
He had no notion of the truth of his words. Had he done so, the
cottage, not the hotel, would have held him, that day, and the tragedy,
so long averted, might have been warded off a little longer. But fate
willed otherwise. To Thayer's mind, Lorimer, storm-bound and weary from
his tramp of the day before, would spend the day, drowsing, novel in
hand, before the open fire. Thayer, in his own absolute integrity,
could never imagine the truth: that Lorimer's trusty attendant had at
last yielded to the temptation of the oft-repeated bribe and had given
into Lorimer's hands the bottle from which he was used to measure out,
medicine-wise, the daily lessening allowance of brandy. He could not
know how often, all that day, Beatrix went to the window and looked out
across the storm in the hope of seeing him come striding to her through
the snow. Had it been possible, she would have sent for him; but it was
a day when women are safest inside a house, and she dared not remove
either Lorimer's man or the old butler from their close guard over her
husband. She had been utterly opposed to bringing the faithful old
butler with them; but now she was glad that she had yielded to his
begging. He had been with her father since her childhood, and had
insisted upon following Miss Beatrix into her new home. Without him
now, she would have been absolutely, hopelessly alone.
Thayer spent a quiet, contented day. For the time being, he had
dismissed Lorimer from his mind, and he gave himself up to the luxury
of taking thought for no one but himself. The sensation was very
luxurious from its very novelty. He wrote a long letter to Arlt,
responded to a dozen notes of invitation which had pursued him from the
city, loitered about the office and ended the day with a novel which
had reached him when the mail came in, that noon. It was still early
when he went to bed. As he drew the shades, from sheer force of habit
he glanced across at the cottage. Its lights were burning brightly,
their quiet steadiness giving no hint of the hideous carnival within.
No healthy man can go to bed, two hours before his usual time, and
expect to sleep peacefully till dawn. At four o'clock, Thayer waked
suddenly, with the firm belief that his slumber must have reached quite
around the clock. He struck a match and looked at his watch.
Restlessly he rose and began to walk up and down the room. The storm
had increased during the night. He could hear the snow sifting against
the windows and, far off at a distant corner of the house, a loosened
blind was beating to and fro in the wind. The sound echoed drearily
through the almost deserted barracks, and added infinitely to the
loneliness of the wilderness, and of the night, and of the storm.
Thayer paused at the window, raised the shade and peered out into
the night. At first, he could see only the darkness, no longer black,
but gray with the swirling snow. The ceaseless, pitiless fall of the
flakes fascinated him, and he stood long, watching them take shape in
the distance, come whirling against the glass and slide aimlessly down
the pane, as so many had fallen before them. Then, as the storm lost
something of its fury, he glanced up and out across the night. The next
instant, his face was pressed against the pane, while his clasped
fingers shielded his eyes from the light within the room. In the
Lorimers' cottage, half a mile away, the lights were still burning. On
such a night and at such an hour, those lights meant trouble: illness,
or perhaps something infinitely worse.
He had stood at the window longer than he had realized, and the
clock in the office struck five as Thayer, fully dressed, stepped out
into the hall. With the waning of the night, the storm was increasing
again and, strong man as he was, Thayer faltered as he opened the door
and went out into the darkness.
Four times he tried to beat his way against the wind, to force a
path through the wet, heavy drifts. Four times, buffeted and almost
spent, he was driven back to the shelter of the veranda. The office
clock struck six, as he went inside the house to find a shivering
servant sweeping out the office.
Get me some snowshoes, he ordered briefly. The lights have burned
all night in Mr. Lorimer's cottage; I am afraid they may be ill and in
need of help. I thought I could get to them; but in this storm it is
impossible, unless I can have some shoes.
By some trick of the brain, anxious and impatient as he was, the
Famine Theme recurred to his mind, and the servant, coming back with
the shoes, found him singing it softly to himself. The words died away
into inarticulate humming, as Thayer bent over to fasten the straps.
Then, buttoning his coat closely and pulling his cap down over his
eyes, Thayer opened the door for the second time and went striding away
across the gray, tempestuous darkness which had shut down again
impenetrably between himself and those steady, ominous lights.
It has all been a hideous mistake!
Abruptly, defiantly Beatrix threw out the words at Thayer, as he
entered. Then her head dropped on her arms which rested on the table
Breathless from his struggle with the storm and astounded at her
greeting, Thayer halted just across the threshold and looked at her in
silence. The silence grew irksome to her. She changed the form of her
I couldn't help it. I have tried. The defiance in her voice
suddenly gave place to desperation. She pushed back her chair, rose and
crossed the room to the fire. There she turned and stood facing Thayer,
her head erect, her cheeks scarlet, her hands, palms downward, tightly
clasped. I have tried my best and failed. It is a total, absolute
failure, she went on fiercely. I know it, and you know it, too. You
have watched it coming on, growing and overpowering me. We may as well
admit it; I made a mistake when I married Sidney Lorimer.
Thayer met her eyes steadily, rallying all his forces to face her in
this new mood. This sudden change in her baffled his powers of
comprehension. Weakened and torn and shaken by her endless hours alone
in the whistling, roaring storm, listening moment by moment to the
hideous noises of delirium coming from the next room, the level nerves
of Beatrix had at last given way completely. The noises had stopped
now, and an ominous stillness lay over the room; but in Beatrix's ears
they still were ringing, beating a terrible accompaniment to the
crowding measures of her thoughts. Hour after hour as she had sat
alone, her fingers in her ears, her eyes fixed on the snow-draped
landscape outside the window, her mind had worked ceaselessly,
arbitrarily. For the time being, she had felt herself unable to control
the direction of her thoughts, and the direction had been fraught with
She went back to her first meeting with Lorimer. She went over each
detail of their friendship and of their married life. She tried in vain
to connect the genial, fascinating man she had first known with the man
whose ravings found their way under her fingers pressed against her
ears. She recalled his old-time devotion and chivalry; she contrasted
it with his moodiness and the brutal petulance which of late had marked
his manner to her. At no one point had there been a sudden change in
him. The transition had been slow, insidious. At last she had wakened
to it in all its bald reality.
Now and then she rose and went to the window in the hope of seeing
Thayer's familiar figure coming towards her through the storm. Each
time she did so, her thoughts lingered a little upon him, upon his
power to hold Lorimer, upon his constant thoughtfulness for her. Each
time she thought of him, her mind rested there longer, until she found
herself going over their acquaintance much as, a few hours earlier, she
had gone over her life with Lorimer. Then, all at once, she dropped her
head on the table with a little moan. Her will was powerless longer to
blind her to the truth. Her loyalty to Lorimer, her traditions, her
training had made her fight for months, a fight no less bitter because
it was subconscious. Now her fighting strength was gone. The truth had
asserted itself at the instant when her nervous force was at its
weakest. It had asserted itself, and it had mastered her.
She was still in the passive stage of defeat, when Thayer entered
the room, hours later. Struggling to her through the storm, he had been
urged on by a fierce passion of anxiety for the woman he loved. A
strange fire had flashed up within him, and, had he found Beatrix in
her usual mood, he might have lost his power to quench it. Met by a
passion equal to his own, he instinctively pulled himself together. Two
such storms must inevitably have landed them upon hidden rocks and
wrecked them pitilessly and in mid-career. He realized the danger. It
took all his manhood to face it; but two lives were trembling in the
balance, with nothing but his own past character and half of his
inherited tendencies to act as a fulcrum.
I am afraid I don't quite understand you, he said.
Then what are you doing here? she returned sharply.
Thayer faltered. Then,
I thought perhaps you might be in need of help, he said quietly.
Her lip curled, and her slender wrists grew tense with the strain
For what? John and Patrick can take care of my husband. Mr. Lorimer
isvery ill; but we are quite capable of taking care of him. Why
should I need help? She watched him in silent hostility. Then, as she
saw the sudden drawing of his lips, her mood changed. This was her
friend, the only friend who was near her and loyal to her. She must not
hurt him with her bitterness, lest he too should fail her, just as
Lorimer already had done. For months, she had unconsciously depended
upon his loyalty. Now she sought it consciously. What is the use of
keeping up the pretence any longer? she went on drearily. You have
been with us day after day; you know how things are going; you know how
my husband hasthat he has not always been himself. Even in her
desperation, she still chose her words guardedly. Do you think I ever
could have held him?
Slowly Thayer shook his head.
No, he said in a low voice. No; you never could have held him. It
Then why didn't you warn me? she burst out hotly.
He looked her straight in the eye.
How could I?
Her face flushed with the sudden understanding. Then the old dreary
note came back into her voice.
And you have known from the first that it was all a mistake?
And you have let me suffer for it?
You are not the only one, he said, almost involuntarily.
Their eyes met, held each other, then dropped apart. Thayer drew a
long, slow breath.
She checked him with a gesture.
Wait! You don't know it all, you can't know. You never knew Sidney
Lorimer as I did, for my Sidney Lorimer never really existed. I
idealized him, half-deified him. The Sidney Lorimer to whom I gave my
love, my very life, was one man; the Sidney Lorimer I married was quite
another. A woman can't love two men totally unlike each other, and yet
I am bound to him, bound down to the day of my death, or of his. We
both come of a long-lived race, and this must go on for years. I have
tried to prevent it, this gradual change in him; but it was impossible.
Then I tried not to see it; but I had to see it. It insisted on itself
and on being seen. I have been watching it, dreading the time when I
must admit it in so many words. I have tried to be loyal to him, God
knows! She spoke rapidly. Then she checked herself, and the dreary
note came again. But what is done, is done. I loved one man; I am
married to another. Nothing now can bring back to me the man I used to
know, the man I used to imagine him. Then what will the future amount
to? We shall go on together to the end, two prisoners bound by a chain
which only holds us the tighter and galls us the more, the looser it
grows between us. One doesn't mind the dying; it's the limitless,
unchanging years ahead, the black, blank years that frighten me. How
can I escape them?
In presence of a woman's passionate pain, every man must stand back,
baffled and powerless to help. Thayer had supposed he understood
Beatrix Lorimer as no other man had ever understood her. To his eyes,
her character seemed crystal clear; yet now, in her supreme crisis, the
crystal grew cloudy before his eyes. For long hours, she had gone into
the deep places of her life, had stirred up from its very source the
spring of her being, and the superficial clearness had grown turgid
with the dregs that had lain undisturbed and unsuspected there. Hatred
and black despair were boiling in the heart which Thayer had thought so
calm and cool, so peaceful in its dainty whiteness. Before it, he stood
silent. Was this the true Beatrix Lorimer? The woman he had fancied her
was a spotless white lily. The heart of this one was banded with bars
of flame and gold. The other grew colorless and cold by comparison, and
his hands twitched to pluck this fiery, vivid thing before him and
carry it away out of reach of Lorimer's sodden, defiling touch. What
had Sidney Lorimer, drunkard, profligate that he was, to do with this
high-bred, high-spirited, heart-broken woman? Why not rather he, Cotton
Mather ThayerHe thrust his hands into his pockets and lowered his
eyes to hide the light burning in them.
It seemed to him hours since he had entered the house. In reality,
the time was short. As he had crossed the threshold, Beatrix had raised
her head and looked at him dully. Then her reaction had come. Like the
ebb and flow of the waves, excitement had followed apathy; and, as she
had met his eyes, the wave had risen again and swept her away upon its
tossing crest. Thayer was here at last. He never forgot her, never
forsook her. He had come to her in this moment of her bitterest need,
even as he had come to her many a time in the past. With him, there
could be no need for explanation or preface. Straight from the heart of
her reverie, Beatrix Lorimer had cast her words at him,
It has all been a hideous mistake!
And now she was following them up with the question which, in
Thayer's ears, sounded the dominant note of the temptation that had
been pursuing him during all those months of rigid self-restraint,
The black, blank years, how can I escape them?
For the second time in his life, Thayer grew dizzy with the tingle
of his nerves answering to the shock to his brain. The blood was
pounding across his temples, and his ears rang loudly. Then he lifted
his eyes deliberately and looked Beatrix full in the face. For an
instant, he held her eyes; then she drew away from him. This was not
the quiet, self-contained man upon whom she had leaned for months. This
man's eyes were glowing, his lips quivering, his hands outstretched to
meet her own. No need to tell her what flame had kindled him into such
fierce and burning life. Their eyes met. She drew away; but her glance
never wavered. Without a spoken word, they had come to the pitiless,
naked truth. Wish had answered to wish, and henceforth there could be
no concealments between them. She took a step forward, and for a moment
her fingers rested in the hot hollow of his hand.
It was only for a moment. However, for Thayer that moment had
sufficed to review a lifetime, to dwell in detail, even, upon the
events of the last fourteen months. In the past, he had done his best
to bear himself as an honest man and a gentleman; and, seen in the
light of that past, the future turned to ashes before him. At best, it
was void of honor; at worst, it was unthinkable. It had not been easy
for him to swim against the tide, to strive, at the expense of his own
plans, to rescue Lorimer from drunkenness and shame. At least, now that
for so long a time he had succeeded in keeping his head above water, he
would not wilfully cast himself upon the first jagged rock in his
course. He would not save Lorimer's honor for the sake of Lorimer's
wife, and then deliberately seek to bring dishonor and shame upon the
wife herself. He veiled his eyes and let his palm drop out from under
the pressure of the cold little fingers.
It's not necessarily a question of years, he said, after a silence
in which it seemed to him that she must be able to count his
heart-throbs. Dane told me what the doctor said. He hopes this place
will work a complete cure, and it may not be long before your husband
pulls himself together again.
He had turned a little away from her; but he knew she was still
looking at him. He could feel the pathetic appeal in her eyes, yet he
never wavered. However brutal he might seem to her now, he knew that
the hour would come when she would be grateful to him.
With an effort, she steadied herself.
I am afraid it is impossible. He has gone too far; the pull now is
What about your hold on him? Thayer asked quietly.
Beatrix started, as if he had laid a clumsy thumb on an exposed
My hold! she said, with a sudden fierceness. Do you think that
there is no limit to the help which I must give him? Then her voice
dropped. No; I have let go. It is no use. I have done all I can, and
now I can only wait till the play is over and the curtain drops.
Perhaps it may not be so very long, after all. It spoils any tragedy,
if the last acts drag.
He had been fired by her passion; but he had resisted it. Now her
despair unmanned him. It was only the old, old situation: the guiltless
one must suffer for the guilty. The fact in general terms he accepted
as a necessary evil; the particular instance was unbearable. Once more,
and for the last time, the balance wavered; then slowly, steadily it
dipped into position. The tragedy would be no less a tragedy, because a
new hero took the stage for the final acts. He tried to find words to
say; but they refused to come at his bidding. He could only stand mute
and look down at her, as she sat in her old place by the table, with
her head buried in her arms.
The seconds passed and lengthened into minutes. Little by little,
the cold, gray light of the snowy morning was creeping into the room,
dimming the lamplight to pale yellow streaks and filling the place with
a chill, forbidding gloom. The stillness was so absolute that Thayer
could hear his watch ticking in his pocket, could hear the beating of
his own heart. Neither one of them moved, or spoke. In the next room,
there was a faint sound; but they never heeded it. Beatrix's face was
hidden in her arms; Thayer's eyes, turned now to the window, were fixed
upon the pitiless storm outside, while mechanically he sought to adjust
the regular ticking of his watch to the broken rhythm of the Famine
Theme which once more was haunting his brain.
Neither one of them faced the open door; neither one of them saw the
crawling, slinking figure, the pale, fear-stricken face, and the
staring eyes which appeared in the doorway, clung there for a moment
and then vanished again as noiselessly as they had come. Neither of
them, had they seen, could have imagined the fearful interpretation
which the delirium-stricken brain had put upon the silent scene.
The stir in the next room came again. Then it increased until the
cottage echoed with the tumult of struggle and of inarticulate crying.
Above it all, Lorimer's maddened voice rang out in piteous terror,
Let me go! I saw him! It's Thayer, and he will kill Beatrix! She is
afraid of him, and she is begging for mercy! He is killing my wife, my
Beatrix! Let me go! Beatrix! Beatrix! Dear girl, I'm coming!
Beatrix sprang to her feet, as Thayer rushed to the inner room where
the words had ended in a fury of inarticulate shrieks. There was the
sound of a heavy struggle, when it seemed to her that the cottage
rocked with the rocking, writhing bodies of the men just beyond her
sight. She dared not face the scene in all its horror. She stood, erect
and alone, in the middle of the floor, while the struggle slowly died
away and the shrieks sank to the piteous low whimpering of an animal in
pain. Then all was still.
Weak by inheritance, weaker still by dissipation, Lorimer's heart
had yielded to the shock of his imaginary fear; but the last coherent
thought of his distracted brain had been that of protecting love for
In the gray, cold light, through the silent cottage, the old butler
came to Beatrix's side and gently touched her arm.
It is over, Miss Beatrix, he said gravely; and may the good God
be pitiful to us all!
It was mid-afternoon when Thayer once more entered the hotel. The
proprietor met him at the door.
This message was just telephoned in, Mr. Thayer. The boy is getting
ready to carry it to the cottage.
Thayer tore open the envelope indifferently. Exhausted by the
struggle and the shock through which he had been passing, for the time
being he felt little interest in any word which could come to him from
the outside world. His entire life seemed to him limited to one short
hour in one small room, apart from the world and its concerns. That
brief episode was too recent and too personal to allow him at once to
cast off its impression. In his present mood, it appeared to be the
focal point of his entire life, the arena upon which the two warring
strains in his blood had met to fight to a finish. The fight had been
sharp and fierce; already he was beginning to rejoice that the Puritan
had conquered the Slav. Beyond that point, as yet, he was powerless to
go. Later, his rejoicing would be increased by the knowledge that in
his own words and deeds he had never swerved from a certain loyalty
Mr. Lorimer is the proprietor was beginning vaguely.
Thayer's nod was more curt than he realized.
Mr. Lorimer is dead.
You don't mean it! When? The man was visibly startled.
This morning, between seven and eight o'clock.
It must have been very sudden? The accent was plainly
Yes, at the last. He had been quite ill for twenty-four hours. He
was overtired with his walk of the day before, and then ate something
that disagreed with him. He suffered terribly, and, at the last, heart
failure developed. Thayer ended his fable with a deep breath of
But they had no doctor, the man objected.
Thayer raised his eyes and looked at him steadily for an instant.
No, he said quietly. Mr. Lorimer has had a number of such
attacks, and Mrs. Lorimer had all the proper remedies. Until within a
few moments of the end, there was no indication that this attack was
any more serious than the others had been, and there had never before
been any tendency to heart failure. He paused for a moment,
deliberately challenging another question. Then he added, If your
telephone is not in use, I must send word to Mrs. Lorimer's friends.
And he walked away to the telephone closet in the corner of the office.
He called up three numbers in New York. The first one was Mr. Dane's
office, and to him Thayer announced the bare fact of Lorimer's death
and of Beatrix's need for her parents. His talk with Bobby Dane was
longer, and at intervals it became interjectional in its terseness. To
Bobby, Thayer went over the story in all its detail, yet in such
guarded phrases that no one else, listening, could have gained an
inkling of the true cause of Lorimer's death. After the first shock was
over, Thayer and Beatrix had discussed the matter fully and in all its
bearings. The attendant had his own reasons for wishing to keep the
secret, and the butler could be relied upon implicitly. Accordingly,
they had decided that there was no need of acquainting the world with
the true version of the case, and they had agreed that Bobby should be
the one person to be put in possession of all the facts. He was just;
he had no sentimental ideals to be dispelled in regard to Lorimer, and
he was utterly trustworthy.
Thayer's third message was the shortest of all.
Not in? Very well. I am Mr. Thayer. Tell him that I will be in his
office at ten o'clock on Saturday morning.
It was then late on Thursday afternoon. Thayer had calculated that
the Danes would come in, the next day, and that the sleigh which
brought them in would also carry him out in season for the night train
to New York. There was another illness in the opera company. Faust
was to be sung on the following Wednesday night, and Thayer, in sending
that last message, had given his tacit consent to singing the part of
Valentine. Even in the midst of his trouble, he smiled grimly to
himself, as he thought back to that far-off night in Berlin when the
chord which closes Valentine's cavatina also closed his long
indecision and left him sitting with his face definitely turned towards
the artist's life. It had seemed to him then that the decision was
threatening to undermine his Puritanism; nevertheless, he had
temporized with that Puritanism. In resolving to become an artist, in
so far as the possibility of art lay in his keeping, he had likewise
resolved to hold himself a man, virile and of steady nerve. To his
young enthusiasm, the two ideals had not seemed incompatible. To his
maturer judgment, they had appeared in no sense to be at war, yet
together they had been by no means easy of attainment. All in all, he
had preferred to leave to the recording angel the balancing of his
psychological accounts. He had lacked the time and the perspective to
do it for himself. But, meanwhile, he believed he recognized the hand
of fate in this second summons to sing the part of Valentine.
Fate and his old maestro both had declared themselves for opera.
Their united will should be done.
That evening was the longest he had ever spent, so long that in
reality it lasted until the gray dawn. The eastern sky was tinging
itself with yellow when he roused himself from the reverie which had
held him since he had left the dinner table. Rising to his feet, he
drew himself to the full of his towering height and took a slow, full
breath. Then deliberately he pushed his trunk into the middle of the
floor and began packing it, with the quiet method which characterized
all his personal arrangements. At first, he worked in grim silence;
then, by almost imperceptible degrees, his face lighted and he fell to
humming over to himself the familiar song,
Even bravest heart may swell
In the moment of farewell
Little by little, the humming rose and filled the room, at first the
one phrase repeated over and over again; then all at once, deep and
resonant, Thayer's full voice came leaping out in the rich Italian
Là sul campo nel dì della pugna,
Ah! si, Fra le file primiero saro.
The past was already the past. Blithe as a knight in his bridal
array, Thayer was echoing the call of his future destiny. Because he
had won a single battle, there was no reason he should lay down his
Careless what fate may befall me,
When Glory shall call me.
He sang it boldly, joyously. He was not forgetful, only hopeful. He
would leave to the choice of fate the field in which his mastery should
lie. Master he would be at any cost.
Careless what fate may befall me,
When Glory shall call me.
For the last time, that little room was echoing with his voice.
His own rooms in New York were echoing with the same song, when
Bobby Dane entered them, the next Saturday night.
Well, at least, you don't sound broken-hearted, he observed, as he
took off his coat.
The sight of you would go far to cure me, if I were, Thayer
retorted. His words were light; but his face and his grip on Bobby's
two hands contradicted his tone.
Glad of it, Bobby said flatly. But tell me about Beatrix. How did
the poor girl stand it?
Like herself, Thayer answered. It was enough to shake the nerves
of the Winged Victory; but Mrs. Lorimer went through it like a
It was D.T.?
It was better that you kept the secret, Bobby said thoughtfully,
as he dropped into a chair by the piano. He sat silent for a moment
while, bending forward, he idly picked out the first few notes of the
cavatina on the lowest octave of the bass. Then he added, I don't see
how you managed it, Thayer; but it is a good deed done. Was there any
trouble about the certificate?
No. It was heart failure, true enough, and there was no need to go
into secondary causes.
I am glad the doctor was a man of sense. If he had been a martinet,
it would have been worse for us all. Of course, there is no telling how
far people will accept the story; but we may as well try to act as if
it were true. There was a pause. Then Bobby inquired, Well, and now
what are you going to do next?
Valentine in Faust, Thayer replied briefly.
The deuce you are! When?
Bobby's face fell.
Oh, I wanted you, myself, for that day. Isn't it rather sudden?
So sudden that I didn't half realize it, till I found myself at
rehearsal, this morning. It is to be announced in to-morrow's papers, I
suppose. Not even Arlt knows it yet.
Bobby meditated for the space of several seconds.
Thayer, I am delighted, he said then. I was so afraid your
stopping now might mean a permanent break-up in your work. Now you are
going into your right field at last. You've been too large for
oratorio; you fill altogether too much space, and crowd out the chorus.
You need a whole stage to ramp around in. Moreover, if I have any idea
what Gounod meant, he had your voice in mind, when he created the part.
Go in, and you are sure to win; and not a soul in the city will be
gladder of it than I.
Thayers face softened. His life, successful as it was, had been
singularly barren of endearments, and Bobby's words touched him keenly.
Heretofore, only Arlt had manifested any personal interest in his
successes, and Arlt was a true German, chary of his words. Thayer held
out his hand to Bobby.
Thank you, Dane. I believe you, he said.
There was a short silence. Then Thayer added suddenly,
What did you want of me for Wednesday?
Again Bobby's face clouded, and he laughed uneasily.
Something you can't and must not do, Thayer. I oughtn't to have
spoken of it.
What was it? Then a new idea crossed Thayer's mind. Something
Yes, I may as well tell you. We have been telephoning back and
forth, all day. They'll be down, Monday night, and the funeral is to be
on Wednesday afternoon. Beatrix is leaving all the plans to my uncle;
and my aunt, who is a sentimental soul and has no idea of the real
state of the case, is insisting that the poor old chap shall be buried
with all manner of social honors. It is to be a real function, and she
thought it would be the most suitable thing in the world, if you were
to sing at the funeral. I knew you wouldn't enjoy doing it, all things
considered; but I couldn't say so to my uncle. All in all, it is a
relief to have this other affair knock it in the head.
To Bobby, the pause was scarcely perceptible. To Thayer, it sufficed
to review the years between his meeting Lorimer in Göttingen and that
last gray dawn in the cottage.
But it doesn't, Thayer said then.
You don't mean?
I will sing. We rehearse in the morning, and I have nothing
afterwards until evening. What time is the service?
Bobby Dane's call left Thayer feeling once more at war with himself.
Worn out with the long strain of watching over Lorimer, exhausted with
the agony of that hour in the cottage, it had been a relief to him, now
that his work was ended, to throw himself wholly into the preparations
for Faust. The needed rehearsals and the inevitable details of
costuming had been sufficient to occupy his tired mind completely, and
he had held firmly to his resolve to forget the past two months. He had
been able to accomplish this only by getting a strong grip upon his own
mind and holding on tightly and steadily; but he had accomplished it.
Bobby left him with it all to do over again. In spite of himself,
Beatrix's desperate question for the black, blank years, drowned the
familiar words of his cavatina and set themselves in their place,
Even black, blank years shall pass.
Impatiently he shut the piano and, sitting down at his desk, began
studying aloud the list of stage directions which outlined his acting;
but, in the intervals of turning a page, he asked himself over and over
again whether any other life could hold a grimmer contrast than the one
confronting him, that coming Wednesday afternoon and evening.
Wednesday came at last. Thayer had left his card at the Lorimers'
house, the day before; but he had felt no surprise that Beatrix had
refused to see him. He caught no glimpse of her until the hour for the
funeral, and he felt that it was better so. For the present, their
lives must lie in different paths.
As Bobby had predicted, Sidney Lorimer's funeral was a function.
Everything about it was above criticism, with the minor exception of
the manner in which Lorimer had met his end. Society, black-clothed and
sombre-faced, was present, partly from respect to the Danes, partly
from a real liking for Lorimer as they had known him at first, partly
from curiosity to see whether there were any foundation for the rumors
which already were flying abroad. The rumors embraced everything from
meningitis to suicide, everything except the truth. And meanwhile, the
Lorimers' rooms were transformed into a species of flower show, and, in
the midst of the flowers, Lorimer lay asleep, his cheek resting on his
hand, his lips curving into the old winning smile they knew so well.
For him, as for Thayer, the past was passed and done. For him, too, the
future might still be full of promise. Thayer, as he stood beside the
man who had been his old-time friend, admitted as much to himself, and
all at once the intoning of the solemn ritual ceased to jar upon his
ears. For Lorimer, as for himself, the fight was still on. The arena
had changed; that was all. Perhaps in the new battle, Lorimer would arm
himself with stronger weapons.
Then the intoning stopped, and some one made a signal to Thayer.
Simply as a boy, and with a boyish tenderness, he sang the little hymn
they had chosen for him. Each man and woman who listened, felt gentler
and nobler for his song; but only Beatrix, shut decorously in the room
upstairs, away from her dead, realized that, for the passing hour,
Thayer had annulled the passion and the pain of those last weeks, and
had gone back again to the old, pitiful, protecting love which for
years had marked his attitude towards Lorimer.
From Lorimer's funeral, society went home to rest and gossip and
exchange its sombre clothing for its most brilliant plumage. Nearly two
years before, society had taken Cotton Mather Thayer to its bosom. Now
it was making ready to burn much incense in his honor, and its first
step in the process was to make his opening night of opera one of the
most brilliant events of the winter. With this laudable end in view,
the house was packed, and the women present had drawn heavily upon
their reserve fund of brand-new gowns which they had been hoarding for
the final gayeties of the season.
Thayer, with Arlt at his side, lingered idly in the wings, while the
audience listened with ill-concealed impatience to the melodious
bargaining between Faust and Mephistopheles. Then the
attention quickened, as every bar of the Kermess chorus brought them
nearer to the moment for Valentine's coming.
Charm in hand, he came at last, and the applause, caught up to the
galleries and tossed back to the floor, echoed again and again through
the great opera house. He accepted it quietly, almost indifferently,
and stood waiting for the storm to die away, while his keen eyes,
sweeping the house, recognized here and there among the jewelled,
bare-shouldered women before him the faces of the black-gowned mourners
to whom he had sung in the afternoon. The sight brought Beatrix to his
mind. He wondered how she was passing the evening, whether, from under
the benumbing effects of the blow she had suffered, she were still
sending a thought, a hope for success in his direction. Unconsciously
to himself, his pulses were tingling and throbbing with the music, and
the throb and tingle brought back to him the memory of the pounding of
his pulses, that morning in the cottage, only a week before. He had
almost yielded to their sway; then he had rallied. He had gone through
the shock of Lorimer's death, through the hasty discussion of
arrangements which had followed, through the saying good-by, with a
calmness that had steadied Beatrix and had been a surprise, even to
himself. It was moreHe roused himself abruptly to the consciousness
that mechanically he had been going through the scene with Wagner, and that the moment for his cavatina had come.
Instinctively he squared his shoulders and raised his eyes. As he
did so, he caught sight of Bobby Dane, and the sight recalled to him
the half-dismissed thought of Beatrix. During the one measure of
introduction, Beatrix and Marguerite, the cottage and the
Kermess went whirling together through Thayer's brain, turning and
twisting, intermingling and separating again like the visions of
delirium. For that one measure, his operatic fate was trembling in the
balance. Then the artist triumphed. Steady and clear, yet burdened with
infinite sadness, his voice rang out, filling the wide spaces of the
great house, filling the smallest heart within it with its throbbing,
Yet the bravest heart may swell
In the moment of farewell.
The house was rocking and ringing with applause, as the song died
away; but Thayer heard it with unheeding ears. His old destiny had
fulfilled itself. The chord which closed his cavatina had sealed his
fame in opera; but his fame was to him as ashes in his mouth. With that
same chord, he had wilfully bidden farewell, not to Marguerite,
his sister, but to Beatrix, the wife of his friend, Sidney Lorimer.
And, as the chord died away, with its death there also died his
passionate love. Who could foretell what its resurrection would be? Or
when? Or where?
Otto, how does it feel to be a celebrity? Miss Gannion asked
abruptly, one afternoon in late May.
The young German smiled.
How should I know?
From experience, of course. Your artistic probation appears to be
over. Your winning the prize for the suite has settled it for all time,
and now I am doing my best to readjust myself to the idea that my boy
friend Otto is the new composer Arlt about whom the critics are waging
What is the use? he inquired, as he crossed the room and sat down
at the piano.
Because I really must begin to face the fact that you are destined
to be one of the immortals, and treat you with proper respect. Her
tone was full of lazy amusement and content. Hereafter, I shall never
dare tell you when your necktie is askew, and as for training you in
the management of your cuffs! She paused expressively, and they both
It was a blow to me to find that reputation depends upon such
things, Arlt said, after a thoughtful pause.
Not reputation; success. The two things don't necessarily touch
each other. One is a matter of brains, the other of fashion. Her
accent was almost bitter. You have deserved one; you are beginning to
have the other thrust upon you. How does it make you feel?
As if I owed a great deal to you.
The girlish pink flush rose in Miss Gannion's cheeks.
Thank you, dear boy. But really I have done nothing.
Arlt turned his back to the piano and, clasping his hands over his
knees, spoke with simple gravity.
Miss Gannion, here in America, I have had three good friends, Mr.
Thayer, you, and Miss Van Osdel. Everybody knows what Mr. Thayer has
done to help me; I am the only one who knows about you and Miss Van
Osdel, and I know it better and better, the more I learn to understand
your American ways. It was not always easy for a woman in society to
accept as her friend a stranger musician without reputation and without
social backing, to acknowledge him in public and to insist that her
friends should acknowledge him. At first I took it as a matter of
course. I know better now, and I know that you and Miss Van Osdel must
have given up some things for the sake of helping me along.
Miss Gannion paused, before she answered.
Otto, she said at length; I am a lonely woman, and my life has
been broader for knowing you. I mean that you in the plural, for
there have been a good many of you. Some have been successful, some
have not; a few have become famous, just as you are doing. Some of them
have been sent to me; some have come of their own accord. We have been
close friends for a while, and then they have gone on their ways. Every
going has left its scar. I was a woman, sitting still in my place by
the fire; they were marching with the procession, stopping only for a
little while and then going on out of my sight. It has made me feel so
futile. But, of them all, you are the only one who has suggested that
the vivandière may be a useful element on the march. It was all
I could do, and I did it. I am glad if it counted for anything.
Everything in this world counts but cipher, naught, or zero, Bobby
observed suddenly, as he came strolling into the room at Sally's side.
You aren't a cipher, Miss Gannion. They're either evanescent or tubby,
according to whether you look at their moral or their physical
proportions. You don't fit either measurement. Therefore you aren't a
cipher. Therefore you count. How do, Arlt? No; don't get up from the
piano. You owe me a sonata, at least, to pay for the stunning headlines
I gave you, yesterday.
Was that your work, Bobby? Sally asked, while she shook hands with
Arlt. I thought it must have come from the bake-shop where they do all
the other pi. Did you see it, Miss Gannion? It reminded me of A was
an Apple Pie: Arlt's Art Analyzed. Properly, the second line should
have been: By Bobby Bunkum; but I suppose his ideas ran low,
when he reached that point.
I say, Arlt, Bobby suggested; why don't you write a series of
articles on How to Get on in the World?
They would only take one line: Know Miss Gannion and Miss Van
Osdel, Arlt retorted, with unwonted quickness.
Bobby shook his head.
No go, Arlt. I've known them for years, known them intimately; and
look at me! I haven't budged an inch in the upward march. The fact is,
I have just budged downward. My new underling is a boy of seventy and
afraid of a draught, so in common humanity I have had to make over to
him my warm corner at the editorial board, and remove myself to the
chilly places below the salt. To be sure, it gives me extra good
purchase on the devil, as my present desk is just in his pathway to the
Chief, and I can smite him as he goes by.
Does he turn the other cheek? Sally queried. One lump, Miss
Gannion. I am still keeping up my Lenten penance, for I acquired the
taste for it, and I can't bring myself back to the old extravagant
ways. Next Lent, probably I shall mortify the flesh by taking two
Bobby handed her the cup.
The other cheek, he answered. Which do you mean? He's all cheek,
all over himself, and it offers itself, whichever way he turns. Have
you seen Thayer lately, Arlt?
Yesterday afternoon. He came down to my room to rehearse the songs
he is to sing, next Saturday.
What is Saturday? You fellows are going ahead at such a rate that I
can't keep track of you, unless I have an engagement book for your
Bobby! Sally expostulated. Mr. Arlt's suite is to be played,
Saturday, and Mr. Thayer is to be the soloist for the concert. You
oughtn't to have forgotten that, especially when you asked me to go
Oh, yes; I do remember now, Bobby replied serenely. I knew I had
some duty on hand for Saturday, just when I wanted to run up to
Englewood for a little golf. What makes you do music in pleasant
weather, Arlt? It's mean to keep a fellow in-doors at this season.
It is our last appearance, Arlt answered.
Bobby raised his brows in feigned terror.
Nothing mortal, I hope.
No. We are going abroad, early in June.
Just the other fellow's luck! I wish I were a genius, to go
frisking about Europe instead of inking my fingers at home.
Arlt shook his head.
No frisking for us. We are going to study.
With characteristic promptitude, Bobby dragged out his hobby,
mounted it and was off at a gallop.
That's always the way with you musicians! You work till you are
tired of it; then you go off and shirk, and call it studying. I used to
think you were the elect of the earth. Now I doubt it.
Have some more tea, Bobby, Miss Gannion suggested.
Bobby waved her aside.
Am I a child, to be diverted with soothing drinks? Never! I must
have my cry out, Miss Gannion. You and Sally can be talking about the
last fashion in peignoirs, if you wish. I don't know what they are; but
I did a scarehead about them for the Sunday fashion page, last week.
The woman who generally sees to it had mumps, and I substituted. I
thought I did it superbly: Death to Décolleté: Peignoirs Popular for
Suburban Suppers. That was the way I did it, and I was sure she
would be pleased; but she cut me dead on the stairs, the first day she
convalesced enough to be out. Arlt, musicians are second-rate beings,
I am sorry. Perhaps you can suggest a remedy, Arlt replied
Cast off your leading strings, and work out your own theories to
suit yourselves, Bobby answered unhesitatingly. Now look here, I used
to think that it was greater to create music than to evolve literature;
now I know more, I know it isn't. When a man writes a book, he goes
ahead and does it according to the light of nature and the sense that
is in him. Sometimes it is good; mostly it isn't, but at least he has
done it out of himself and by himself. When you write a symphony, you
do it out of yourself, but not by yourself. You do it by the exact
rules that somebody else before you has laid down. You can have just so
many themes and so many episodes, though it would puzzle the
Concertmeister of the heavenly choir to tell where the themes leave
off and the episodes begin. You know you have got those rules to hang
on to, and they are a great support in seasons of mental famine. Two
themes and a subsidiary, and a lot of episodes for padding: that's all
you need, and they are bound to come on in just a given order. Can you
imagine a novelist sitting down and fitting his work neatly into a box
measured off into compartments: one hero, one heroine, one extra, plus
episodic sunsets and moonbeams galore? Not much! He makes his rules as
he goes along. Sally, which is greater, to create a gown, or to cut it
out by a paper pattern?
To cut it out, of course, Sally answered unexpectedly. The
patterns never fit, and it is more work to bring them into the shape of
any human being than it is to start out with a free hand, in the first
But Miss Gannion challenged her.
Sally, did you ever make a gown?
Never; but that doesn't prevent my having theories, Sally replied
And I have had practice. I attempted once, when my years were less
and my zeal more, to clothe an orphan with the work of my own hands. I
thought I would operate free hand, as you call it, and I wish you could
have beheld the result. The orphan's own mother would never have
recognized her babe in the midst of the strange, polyangular bundle of
cloth. I suspect that the same might be said of a good many novelists,
and that a judicious trimming of the seams according to some
established pattern might improve their work.
Arlt nodded approvingly.
As usual, Miss Gannion has spoken wisely, he remarked.
Miss Gannion has only echoed my words, Sally objected.
Not at all. You said it was harder to work from a pattern; I merely
suggested that the results were more satisfactory.
Well, never mind, Sally returned promptly. I don't care about
that, so long as the vote goes against Bobby.
And then, this matter of studying, Bobby went on, disdaining her
interruption. Now, when you get hard up for ideas, Arlt, when you
actually can't get enough out of your gray matter to fill up your
pattern, you go off somewhere and study something. Now, if I
What have you to do with it, Bobby? Miss Gannion queried.
I represent literature, of course, just as Arlt represents music.
If I were to go off and study something, what would you all think?
That it was the best possible thing you could possibly do, Sally
You are so feminine and subjective, Sally. I suppose you can't help
it, though. But reallyArlt, for instance, has produced a prize
composition, while he is still studying. That's exactly what we used to
do in prep. school. Fancy a school for novelists, with night classes
for indigent poets! It would be a parallel case; but what would be the
effect upon literature?
Arlt rose deliberately and crossed the room to the empty chair at
Miss Gannion's side.
All in all, he answered quietly; from my slight knowledge of the
teeming millions who are standing in line before the portals of
American literature, I think the establishment of such a school ought
to be the first duty of a self-respecting American government.
Thayer, meanwhile, was preparing for a longer absence from America
than even Arlt was aware. The late winter and early spring had been for
him a season of perfect professional success. Faust had been the
first of many operas, for the illness of the regular baritone had taken
a sudden turn for the worse and had ended his work for the season, and
the manager had insisted that Thayer should fill his place. The event
had fully justified the prediction of the old maestro, and in
his operatic rôles Thayer was finding out where his real greatness lay.
His mental personality, as well as his huge figure, demanded room to
manifest itself. His acting was dramatic, yet full of control and
reserve power, and his voice, fresh from its weeks of rest, richer and
stronger than ever, was endowed with a new note of pathos, of longing
for something quite beyond his power of attainment. Measured by the
eye, Thayer held the world in the hollow of his hand. The ear alone
betrayed the fact that he found the world as hollow as the curve of his
encircling fingers. But when Thayer squared his jaw and threw back his
shoulders before one of his great arias, eye and ear united in saying
that the time would come when, by sheer might of his will, he would
fill up that world until the weight of its fulness should fit his
encircling hand with a contact as absolute as it would be lasting.
Meanwhile, he was biding his time.
Nominally, he was going to Germany for a little study and much rest.
In reality, he was considering an invitation to sing at Bayreuth, that
summer; and among his papers was an unsigned contract which would keep
him in European cities during the whole of the following winter. He was
leaving his plans undecided, until he could hear definite news from
Living within a block of her house, he had nevertheless seen her but
once since Lorimer's death. Once only, less than a week after the
funeral, she had received him when he called. The call had been an
uncomfortable one for them both. Neither had been able to forget that
morning together in the cottage. It had been impossible for them to
meet as if that hour had never been; neither could they accept the
truth which had revealed itself at that time, and face its
consequences. As yet, the time for that had not come. Nevertheless,
they both felt relieved when the call was ended. Living side by side in
the same social circle, they could not fail to meet, as time went on
and Beatrix resumed her old place in the world. Any change in their
attitude to each other would not pass unchallenged. They were bound to
meet; it was imperative that they should meet in precisely the old way.
They both were wise enough to feel that the sooner they met, the
better. Unbroken ice thickens most quickly. However, when Thayer, after
a half-hour of platitudes, went down the steps, Beatrix, locked into
her own room, paced the floor, to and fro, to and fro again, like a
caged panther, while Thayer walked the streets until time to dress for
the stage, and then sang the part of Valentine with a furious
madness of despair which merely added another stiff little leaf to his
garland of fame. The next day, the papers waxed enthusiastic over
Thayer's temperament, and Beatrix, alone in her room, read the papers
and smiled sadly to herself as she read. Thayer's fate was, in a sense,
less hard to bear than her own. He could find outlet for his sorrow.
She, perforce, was dumb.
Since that day, Thayer had caught no glimpse of Beatrix. She had
seen him repeatedly, however, when she had been driving; and once, at
Bobby's urgent pleading, hidden from view in the back of a box, she had
heard him sing Valentine. On the way home, she had decided that,
after all, perhaps his fate was no easier than hers to bear. His sorrow
had measured itself by the greatness of his personality.
As the May days passed by, rumors reached the ears of Thayer that
all was not well with Beatrix. In her strict retirement, he could get
no word from her; but at length, as the rumors increased, he sought out
Bobby Dane. When he came away from Bobby, his face was stern and seamed
with deep lines around his rigid lips, and he vouchsafed to Arlt no
reason for his sudden postponement of the date for their sailing.
The first of July will bring us there in season, he explained
briefly. I find I can't leave New York until after the twentieth.
So, in the first fierce heat of early June, the days dragged slowly
along. Day after day, Thayer sat long at his desk in the attitude of
passive waiting. Now and then he read over his unsigned contracts,
wondering, meanwhile, whether he would ever sign them. If Beatrix
lived, he had determined to spend the next year abroad. In the other
eventHe shook his head.
Nothing then could make much difference in his future.
During the second week in June, Beatrix's baby was born, and for
days afterward, the mother's life, so long in danger, now hung by a
thread. Then the good old fibre of the Danes reasserted itself, and
Beatrix came slowly upward from the verge of the River of Death.
Bobby's face cleared itself of its shadows, Thayer signed his contracts
and, the next week, he and Arlt finally sailed for Europe.
In the long days of her convalescence, Beatrix manifested an utter
indifference to the tidings from the outer world. She lay by the hour,
her baby on her arm, looking down at the fuzzy little head and the red
little face whose indeterminate features were fast taking the stamp of
those of their father. Strange to say, the fact caused Beatrix no
repulsion. The fires of her being seemed to have burned themselves out,
and even her feeling to Lorimer shared in her general apathy. In the
weeks which had followed his death, she had made up her mind that the
baby would be fashioned in his image; and she accepted the fact
philosophically, as a part of her life from which there was no appeal.
From the first, the baby was a quiet child. Apparently he shared his
mother's apathy towards all things, and he lay by the hour in a
sluggish drowse, leaving his mother free to allow her thoughts to
wander at will. They did wander, too. Lying there, passive, in her
luxurious room, Beatrix's mind scaled the heights of heaven, sounded
the depths of hell. The one had lain within her reach; but she had
never known it until too late. The other had crossed her path in the
past; it was opening before her future. Her baby boy, so plainly
created in the physical likeness of his father, could not have failed
to receive something of his moral nature. She quailed before the grim
promise of the future and, drawing the blanket over her face, she tried
to shut out the sight and the thought of her child. And, in the first
weeks of her wedded life, she had so longed for the time when a baby
head should cuddle into the curve of her arm! At the thought, she
pulled the blanket away again impetuously and, of its own accord, her
arm tightened around the little bundle of flannels. He was not entirely
Lorimer's child; he was her own, her very own. He must have inherited
something of the sturdy constitution, the steady nerves of the Danes.
The stronger, better blood was bound to triumph; and she would work
unceasingly to oust that other taint from his nature. He was her child;
she loved him, and she would give her life to the training which should
make him able to wipe out the stain upon his father's record.
July was burning the white asphalt streets, before Beatrix was
strong enough to be moved to Monomoy. Bobby dropped in to see her, the
afternoon before she left town.
Funny little beggar! he observed, as he sat down opposite Beatrix
and gravely inspected the baby in her arms.
What do you think of him? Beatrix asked, while she smoothed down
the wholly superfluous skirt and then, tilting the baby forward,
straightened the frills on the back of his little yoke.
Oh, he's not so bad as he might be, Bobby responded encouragingly,
as he snapped his fingers in the face of the child who stared back at
The mother's face flushed.
What do you mean, Bobby? she asked a little sharply.
Too late, Bobby saw his blunder. In his consternation, he blundered
I had no idea he would be half so presentable a boy. Just the
living image of Lorimer; isn't he?
You see it, too?
Bobby was at a loss to interpret the sudden incisive note in her
voice. No one had warned him that the baby's likeness to his father had
been a forbidden subject, and he could not know that Beatrix, in
brooding over the matter, had reached a point where she questioned
whether the resemblance might not exist solely in her own imagination.
Bobby's next words annulled that hope and confirmed her fears.
He's as like him as two peas, cunning as he can be. There, boy,
look at your Uncle Bobby! Bobby bent forward and with his forefinger
gently tilted the little face upward. Lorimer's eyes to perfection,
he observed. Then, as he met Beatrix's eyes, he suddenly understood
their wild appeal. Dropping the baby's chin, he laid his hand on his
cousin's shoulder. I wouldn't worry about that, Beatrix, he added
reassuringly. He probably will take it out in looking, and, for his
character, hark back to some remote Dane or other. Lorimer was a
handsome fellow, and the baby might do worse than look like him.
Otherwise, he may go off on a tangent. Suppose he should take after me,
Bobby spoke cheerily, hoping that Beatrix's laugh would follow his
words. Instead, she caught his hand with her disengaged one and pressed
it fiercely to her cheek.
Oh, Bobby, I wish he would! she cried.
Bobby looked rather abashed. He and Beatrix had been intimate from
their babyhood; yet neither one of them was prone to self-betrayal, and
this was the most demonstrative scene which had ever taken place
between the cousins. As a rule, they were too sure of each other to
feel the need for expressions of affection. For a minute, Bobby patted
Beatrix's cheek with clumsy gentleness. Then he returned to the baby.
Come here, old man! Come to your Uncle Bobby! he urged, holding
out his hands invitingly. Come along here. And before Beatrix could
utter a word of protesting caution, the baby was lying in the hollow of
Bobby's elbow and blinking up at his new nurse with round brown eyes.
Bobby stared down at him benignly.
Feels cunning; doesn't he, Beatrix? He seems to fit into one's grip
rather well. One can't help liking the little beggar. By the way,
what's his name?
Sidney, Beatrix responded quietly.
The deuce! In his surprise, Bobby almost dropped the baby.
Beatrix answered his unspoken thought.
Yes, I have decided that it is best. I must meet fate anyway, and I
may as well do it boldly, with a direct challenge. The name won't make
any difference to the baby, and it may help to make me more patient and
Gently Bobby laid the baby back into Beatrix's arms. Then he rose.
No, he said slowly; it won't make any difference, and it gives
the chance of bringing the name back to its old standing. You may take
lots of comfort with the boy, Beatrix. I hope so with all my heart, for
I know how you need it. Things have gone rather against you, these last
months; but perhaps the bad times are all over now. At the door, he
lingered and looked back. If you need me at Monomoy, Beatrix, don't
hesitate to send for me. Sometimes it is a comfort to have somebody of
one's own generation within hail.
Six weeks later, she realized the truth of his words when Bobby came
striding into the room, with the family doctor at his heels. For the
past forty-eight hours, Beatrix had watched convulsion after convulsion
rack the tiny frame, wear itself out and die away, only to be followed
by another and yet another. Under this new sorrow, the grandparents had
given way entirely. They were powerless to help, and Beatrix, pitying
their misery which she knew was more than half for her sake, had sent
them away from the room. For forty-eight hours, she and the nurse had
kept an unbroken vigil; and Beatrix had held herself steady until she
had caught sight of Bobby's strong, happy, pitiful face in the doorway.
When she came to herself once more, she was lying on the couch in
the hall, with Bobby beside her and Bobby's protecting arm around her
It may not be so bad, dear, he was saying soothingly. Schirmer
will pull him through, if anybody can, and he says it isn't at all
hopeless. Lots of youngsters have convulsions and come out of them,
jolly as grigs.
Beatrix saw no need for telling him the new fear which had tortured
her, during those endless hours of waiting after she had sent off her
telegram. Instead, she took his sympathy as it was given, with loving
optimism; but she nestled even more closely against her cousin's side,
as if for the hour she gained strength from the touch of his protecting
arm. It was her one spot of perfect restfulness.
Late that night, Bobby had a talk with the doctor. It left him glad
that already he had spoken with encouragement to Beatrix. The next two
days, he gave his time to her absolutely. Then his official summons
came, and reluctantly he returned to his desk.
By the time Beatrix was in town again, she was ready to admit to
herself that hopelessness might mean something worse than death. By the
end of the winter, the might had ceased to be potential and had
become actual. Since those August days at Monomoy, the convulsions had
recurred at irregular intervals. The physical constitution of the Danes
had refused to give way to them; the nervous instability of the
Lorimers had yielded to them utterly. Unless some miracle intervened,
the child must face a future of vigorous body and enfeebled brain; and
Beatrix, as she watched him, told herself the melancholy truth that the
day of miracles was irrevocably dead. It seemed to her that the years
were stretching out before her in an empty, unending trail, that she
must follow it alone, hand in hand with her child, bound forever to
watch for the signs of an intellect which never, never should appear.
And she was the one to blame. It was no less her own fault, because she
had assumed the responsibility in arrogant ignoring of its true import.
One afternoon in late May found her sitting by the open window with
the child in her arms, when Thayer was announced. She greeted him with
something of her old cordiality. Then she rang for the nurse to take
away the baby.
When did you get home again? she asked, when they were seated
This morning. I landed at ten, and I came directly to you.
She ignored the eagerness of his tone.
You have been wonderfully successful, I am told.
Well enough. It was nothing wonderful, though.
Bobby has kept me informed of your glories, she insisted, with a
slight smile; and Mr. Arlt has really enjoyed them as well as if they
had been his own.
That is characteristic of Arlt. His letters were noncommittal; but
Bobby says he has had his own fair share of honors. I am glad, for he
Indeed he does, she assented heartily. We all are so glad for
him; and it is a delight to watch the odd, boyish modesty with which he
accepts his own fame. He is the most unspoiled genius I have ever
There was a short silence. Thayer grew restless under it. He had not
hurried his return, left his luncheon untasted and escaped from a dozen
reporters, in order to sit and discuss Arlt with that black-gowned
woman the tip of whose finger outweighed for him the clumsy honors of
the earth. All the way over, he had paced the steamer's deck by the
hour, planning what words he should say to Beatrix when at last they
stood face to face, with only the long-buried dead between them. He had
supposed that lie had learned his lesson by heart. Nevertheless, now
that he was at last in her presence, his words fled from his mind.
Beatrix broke the silence.
You have seen Bobby, then?
He met me at the steamer.
She raised her eyes to his, half-appealingly, half-defiantly.
And he told you
He has told me everything, Thayer interrupted her. He rose
restlessly, crossed the room to the mantel and examined a vase with
unseeing eyes. Then, returning, he halted directly before her,
straightened his shoulders and drew a deep, full breath. Beatrix? he
She shrank from before the words she had been dreading for so long.
Don't! she begged him.
But I must. His voice was steady now. We both of us know the
truth, and the time has come when we can acknowledge it. I have waited
long, dear, long and patiently. For fifteen months, I have left you to
yourself and to the past. Now it is time for the future. I have come
home, Beatrix, to marry you at last.
Before the glad tenderness that thrilled in his tone, she sank back
in her deep chair and buried her face in her hands. Thayer waited
quietly, patiently. He had told his story; he could afford to wait for
her answer, since he never doubted what it was to be. The silence
between them lasted for moments. From upstairs in another part of the
house, there came a fretful childish cry. Then the stillness dropped
again. At length, Beatrix let her hands fall into her lap. There was an
instant of utter listlessness; then quietly she rose and stood facing
him, drawn to her full height. Her cheeks were white, her eyes
unstained by any tears, her voice quite level.
I am sorry, she said slowly; but what you ask is impossible.
He started, as if struck with a lash.
What do you mean?
That I cannot marry you.
He stared at her in amazement, while the color left his cheeks and
then rushed again to his temples where the veins stood out like knotted
cords. For the moment, he was angry, baffled by the shock of her
unexpected answer. Then he mastered himself.
Do you not love me any longer? he asked.
Any longer? Her tone sought to express haughty disdain; but her
eyes drooped before the fire in his own.
Never mind the words, he said sharply. In times like this, one
can't stop to pick for rhetorical effects. It is enough that I love you
with all the manhood there is in me, and that for months I have counted
upon winning your love in return. And now
She interrupted him.
And now you have found out your mistake, she said sadly.
Yes. There was a long interval of silence, before he added, And
is this final?
It is. Her stiffened lips could scarcely form the words.
He turned to go away. All the alertness which had marked his coming
had dropped away from him. He moved slowly and with drooping shoulders.
Already his face had grown haggard underneath the bronzing of his sea
voyage. Beatrix stood motionless, watching him, struggling to master
herself, to hold herself firmly to her resolve which had been taking
shape within her, during all that past winter and spring.
Halfway across the room, Thayer hesitated, turned and came back to
Beatrix, he said impetuously; we may as well face this thing
squarely. It won't be the first time. We didn't wreck the future then;
we mustn't do it now. The cases are different, though. This time, the
danger lies in half-truths. We must speak plainly.
She attempted to check him; but, for the once, she was powerless to
stem the tide of his words, and he hurried on,
We loved each other. There is no disloyalty to Lorimer in admitting
it now. He belonged to the past, and, in that past, you belonged to
him. The past is over and ended now, and, for the future, we must
belong to each other. It is for that that I am here.
She tried in vain to control her voice. Then she shook her head.
What has come between us? he demanded. You did love me. Look up,
Beatrix! Yes, your eyes tell the truth about it. You love me now; I am
here to prove it, and to marry you in spite of yourself.
Gently she put away his arms and faced him.
No. It is impossible.
He wavered before the finality of her tone.
But you love me, he urged.
She was silent, and stood with her eyes fixed on the floor at his
feet. Then, of a sudden, she raised her eyes to his, and Thayer was
dazzled by the light that was shining in them.
Yes, she answered, with a quiet dignity which he could not
gainsay. And that is the very reason that I will not marry you. I love
you too wellso well that I can never allow you to become the father
of Sidney Lorimer's child.
I believe my world is overcrowded, Sally said, one January
afternoon, two years later.
Arlt, why don't you take the hint? Bobby asked languidly. I am
too comfortable to stir, and she evidently wishes to get rid of
Possibly she means me; but I was the last to come, so I shall
outstay you both, Miss Gannion said, laughing. At least, Sally, your
hospitality does you credit.
With leisurely fingers, Sally was opening her teaball; but Bobby
I wouldn't make any tea for us, Sally. I know you are afraid it may
not hold out for your crowded universe, and we three have been here
often enough to have dispelled any illusions about the quality of your
cups. Two are cracked, and one has a nick exactly in the spot where we
drink. I suspect Arlt of having cut his wisdom teeth on it.
Only women cut their wisdom teeth on a teacup, Miss Gannion
observed. But really, Sally, I would save my tea until the crowd shows
Sally shook her head.
You interrupted me in the midst of my thesis.
Bobby interrupted again.
It is our only chance to get in a word. We have to insert its thin
edge at a comma, or else keep still. You never have any conversational
semicolons, to say nothing of periods.
As I was saying, Sally repeated pertinaciously; my world is
overcrowded. I have so many acquaintances that I never get time to
enjoy my friends.
What about now? Bobby queried. Here are we, and here is time.
Which is lacking: enjoyment, or friendship?
Oh, this is an interlude, and doesn't count. We shall just get into
the midst of a little rational conversation, though, and two or three
stupid people will come in and reduce us to talking about the weather.
You might send out cards, Arlt suggested, with the hesitating
accent which was so characteristic of him. Why not announce that on
Tuesdays you are at home to clever people and friends only?
Yes; but it is no subject for joking, Sally persisted. Last
Tuesday in all that storm, for the first time this winter, Mr. Thayer
came to see me. I know how busy he is, and I was just preparing to make
the most of his call, when Mrs. Stanley came swishing and creaking into
the room, and she babbled about her servants and her lumbago until Mr.
Thayer took his departure. I wanted to administer poison.
Try an anodyne, Bobby advised her. They say that stout people
yield easily to their influence. By the way, why is it polite to call a
woman stout, but rude in the extreme to dub her fat? That is one of the
problems I have never been able to solve. I used the wrong word in
regard to Mrs. Stanley, one night, and she overheard me. Since then,
she hauls in her latch-string hand over hand, whenever I turn the
Do you mind, Bobby? Sally inquired. The two most peaceful years
of my social life were the years immediately following the day I
advised Mrs. Stanley not to attempt Juliet in public. Lately, I
have wished that her memory were just a bit more retentive. Tell me,
has anybody seen Beatrix, this week?
She was at Carnegie Hall, last night.
Arlt's face brightened.
Yes, I coaxed her into going. You ought to feel honored, Arlt; it
is the first music she has heard, this season.
Hasn't she been to hear Mr. Thayer?
No; she hasn't heard him since his first season. I tell her she has
no idea how he has developed, nor how much she is losing; but she seems
to have lost her love for music.
Poor, dear girl! I don't wonder, Sally said impetuously.
But Arlt interposed.
Isn't there a certain comfort to be gained from it? he asked. I
hopedI had thought music was to inspire and help people, not to amuse
It does in theory, Bobby returned; only now and then it reminds
one of things, and upsets the whole scheme of inspiration. But I was
surprised that Beatrix went, last night.
What did she say? Arlt inquired, with a frankness which yet bore
no taint of egotism.
Not very much; but her face at the close of your Andante
told the story. You touched her on the raw, Arlt; but you roused her
pluck to bear it. I think she will send you a note, to-day.
I wonder if you realize what an event for your friends this
symphony was, Sally broke in.
Arlt smiled. With growing manhood, his gravity also had grown; but
his slow little smile caused his face to light wonderfully. Denied all
claim to beauty, there was a great charm in the simple, modest dignity
with which he bore himself. He answered Sally's last words with an
earnestness that became him well.
Without my friends, my symphony would have been left unwritten.
And it was a perfect success, Sally added.
Success is never perfect, he returned a little sadly. Its merit
must lie in its incompleteness, for that just urges us on to something
beyond. The success on which we rest, is no better than a failure. Some
day, I shall begin my ideal symphony; but, by the time I have reached
my final Maestoso, I shall have learned that my ideal has moved
on again beyond my reach.
In other words, a real genius is nothing but an artistic
butter-fingers, Bobby commented irreverently. Stop your German
philosophizing, Arlt, and help us enjoy the present by playing your
Scherzo. Thayer says it is by far the best thing you have ever
Obediently Arlt crossed to the piano. In his absorption in his
symphony, he had by no means allowed his skill as a pianist to rust for
want of use, and a little sigh of utter content went around the group,
as they heard the dainty, clashing notes answer to the touch of his
fingers. He was in the full rhythm of his Scherzo, playing,
humming, or whistling, according to his whim and to the demands of the
orchestral score, when Sally gave a sudden exclamation of warning.
Behold the crowd! Here endeth the interlude! Enter Mrs. Lloyd
What in thunder is that woman doing here, Sally? Bobby demanded,
as Arlt's fingers dropped from the keys in the very midst of a phrase.
Sally shrugged her shoulders with the petulant gesture of a naughty
How in thunder should I know, Bobby? I wish you'd ask her.
No use. She never takes a hint.
A sudden change came over the group, as Mrs. Lloyd Avalons tripped
daintily into the room. Miss Gannion straightened herself in her chair
and took refuge in her lorgnette; Arlt's artistic fire extinguished
itself, and he once more became the taciturn young German, while Sally
assumed certain of the characteristics of a frozen olive. Bobby,
however, continued to smile upon the room with unabated serenity.
What a delight to find you here! Mrs. Lloyd Avalons exclaimed, as
she took Sally's hand.
Miss Van Osdel has unsuspected depths to her nature, Bobby
observed gravely. Long as I have known her, Mrs. Avalons, I assure you
I have never succeeded in finding her out.
Ohyes. How like you that is, Mr. Dane! But I was including you
Taking us all in? Bobby queried.
Taking us just as you find us, Sally added. You also take tea, I
think, Mrs. Avalons?
You'd better, Bobby urged, with inadvertent pointedness. We were
just saying that Miss Van Osdel brews wisdom mingled with her tea.
Bobby! Sally adjured him, in a horrified whisper; but Mrs. Lloyd
Avalons had already turned to Arlt.
I am so glad to meet you here, Mr. Arlt. All your friends, to-day,
are eager to congratulate you on your wonderful symphony.
Yes. Arlt's tone was scarcely ingratiating, as he stirred his tea
Yes, it was beautiful, so sweet and harmonious. Really, you are
quite taking the city by storm. You must be very busy to do so much
writing. Don't you get very tired?
Sometimes. Arlt emptied his cup at a gulp.
Oh, you must! But it is worth tiring one's poor head, to achieve
such splendid results. But don't you ever rest? All winter long, I have
been hoping you would find time to drop in on me, some Thursday.
Thank you. Arlt attacked his extra lump of sugar with his spoon.
Eluding his touch, it flew across the room and landed at Bobby's feet.
Stooping down, Bobby rescued it and gravely handed it back to Arlt.
Try it again, old man, he said encouragingly. You'll get the
proper range in time.
But Mrs. Lloyd Avalons returned to the charge.
Well, as long as you won't come to me, I must seize my chance here,
if Miss Van Osdel will excuse me. We are getting up a concert for the
benefit of the Allied Day Nurseries, Mr. Arlt. It is to be very select
indeed, only artists of established reputation are to be invited to
take part, and we shall keep the price of the tickets up high enough to
shut out any undesirable people who might otherwise come. We are
counting on you for two numbers.
But I cannot play.
In other words, Mrs. Avalons, Bobby remarked: you'll have to
But we must have him, Mrs. Lloyd Avalons said, in real dismay. We
never thought of his refusing.
Arlt shook his head in grim silence.
Mrs. Lloyd Avalons took refuge in cajolery.
Oh, but you must! We can't spare you, Mr. Arlt. If you don't care
for the charity, you'll do it for me; won't you?
Deliberately Arlt packed the sugar and the spoon into his cup, and
set the cup down on the table. Then he turned to face Mrs. Lloyd
On the contrary, that is the very reason I cannot do it, Mrs. Lloyd
Avalons. When Miss Gannion introduced me to you as Mr. Thayer's
accompanist and a pianist who needed engagements, you wished to refuse
me a place on your programme. Now that others have been good enough to
listen to me, you can make room for two numbers by me. I am very sorry;
but I shall be unable to accept your invitation.
There was no underlying rancor in the slow, deliberate syllables;
they were merely the statement of an indisputable fact. Most women
would have accepted them in silence. Not so with Mrs. Lloyd Avalons.
But you played for Miss Van Osdel, last week, she persisted.
Arlt rose to his feet.
Yes, I played for Miss Van Osdel, last week, just as I hope to have
the pleasure of playing for her many times more in the future. However,
that is quite a different matter. Miss Van Osdel and I are very old
friends, and it will always be one of my very greatest pleasures to be
entirely at her service. He made a quaint little bow in Sally's
direction, and his face lighted with the friendly, humorous smile she
knew so well. Then he added, And now I must bid you all a very good
He bowed again and walked away, with his simple dignity unruffled to
the last. Society might bless him, or society might ban. Nevertheless,
it was by no means Arlt's intention to turn his art into a species of
lap-dog, to come trotting in at society's call, and then be dismissed
to the outer darkness again, so soon as the round of its tricks was
accomplished. Egotism Arlt had not; but his independence shrank at no
one of the corollaries of his creed of art.
Bobby lingered after the others had gone away.
I say, Sally, he remarked at length, apparently apropos of nothing
in particular; how does it happen that you have never married me?
[Illustration: 'I believe I might as well ask you now']
Probably for the very excellent reason that you have never asked
me, Sally responded frankly.
With his hands in his pockets, Bobby sauntered across to the sofa
where she was sitting. There he stood contemplating her for a moment.
Then he settled himself at her side.
Well, he said slowly; I believe I might as well ask you now.
I almost made a whole poem about you, Bobby said to Thayer, one
night. Thayer laughed.
How far did you get?
The last line.
Then you actually did make one.
Bobby shook his head.
Oh, no. I only made the next to the last line and the last. Then
the inspiration gave out.
What was it? Thayer asked idly.
The mirth left Bobby's face, and he looked up at his companion
Forget the things we cannot,
And face the things we must,
he said slowly.
The dark red leaped up into Thayer's face, as he looked at Bobby
How long have you known it?
Since the day I told you they had come home from abroad. You sang
St. Paul, that night, you may remember, and afterwards I advised
you to go into grand opera. A fellow with a voice like yours can't
expect to have any secrets of his own. Bobby paused; then he added
thoughtfully, Life is bound to be a good deal of a bluff for us all.
Thayer walked on in silence for seven or eight blocks.
What do you think about it? he asked then.
I think that I would almost delay my own wedding, for the sake of
being your best man.
And yet, she says it is impossible, Thayer said thoughtfully.
When was that?
Two years ago, when I came home from Europe.
Oh! Bobby said slowly, as the light dawned upon him. That was the
blow that floored you, that summer; was it? I never knew. What was the
trouble? The child?
Thayer's assent was rather curt in its brevity. Bobby's blunt,
kindly questions hurt him; yet, after all, there was a sort of comfort
in the hurt. After two years of silence, it was a relief to be able to
speak of his trouble. It had grown no more, no less with the passing
months; it was just what it had been, at the close of that warm May
Do you know, I rather like Beatrix for the stand she has taken,
Bobby said meditatively. She has the sense to know that, if she
married you and made you share the responsibility of that child, it
would knock your singing higher than a kite.
Thayer interrupted him impatiently.
How much does my singing amount to me in comparison with my love
for Beatrix? I would cancel my engagements, to-morrow, if she would say
But, thank the Lord, she won't, Bobby replied placidly. Don't be
an ass, Thayer. It is a popular fiction that an artist is expected to
give up his work for the sake of matrimony; but it's an immoral fable.
The gods have endowed you with a voice, and you have no business to
fling away the gift, when your keeping it can do so much good in the
world. You owe something to humanity, and a lot more back to the gods
who gave you the voice; you have no moral right to do anything that
will hinder your paying that debt. Beatrix knows this. She knows what
would be the inevitable effect of saddling you with the child, and she
is right in her decision.
Has she been talking the matter over with you? Thayer asked, with
Bobby laughed scornfully.
No need. I have eyes of my own, and I learned my Barbara
Celarent in junior year.
Another block was passed in silence. Then Thayer asked,
Do you see Mrs. Lorimer often?
Every day or so. I drop in there when I can, for she's not going
out much, and she needs to see more people.
How is she?
I don't know how to tell you, Bobby answered, while a note of
sadness crept into his voice. She is giving her life to that child;
and, unless you know the child, you can't imagine the wear and tear of
such an existence. I don't know which would be worse, the watching for
the intellect which never comes, or the waiting for the convulsions
What will be the end of it all? Thayer broke out impetuously.
Bobby shook his head.
God knows, he said drearily.
Bobby spoke truly, for already it seemed that the divine plan was
made to take the imperfect little life back into its keeping. A sudden
chill, a sudden cold, and then the grim word, pneumonia! For days,
Beatrix and the nurse hung over the child, struggling almost against
hope to conquer the disease. Then it was that Beatrix realized how
truly she had loved her little son, how she would miss even the
constant pain of his presence. He was her very own, the one being in
the world who belonged absolutely to her; and she fought for his life
with the fierceness of despair. Then, just as it seemed that she had
triumphed and the child was out of danger, the same insidious foe which
had ended Lorimer's life, attacked the life of his child.
Alone in the dusky room, Beatrix was sitting on the edge of the bed,
her arm around the boy who had just snuggled down for the night.
Drowsily his lids drooped; then he opened his eyes, met her eyes and
struggled up to reach her face.
Mamma, kiss! he begged.
That was all. Weakened by disease, the heart had been powerless to
bear the strain of the sudden motion, and the boy fell into his final
sleep, cradled in his mother's arms.
That night, Thayer sang The Flying Dutchman in the same city
where, four years before, he had sung St. Paul. He had not been
there, during the intervening time; but his public had been faithful to
his memory, and the little opera house was packed to its utmost limits
to do honor to its former favorite, as well as to its one-night opera
season. For some unaccountable reason, Thayer had liked the place. Both
the house and the audience had pleased him, and it had been at his own
request that the manager had put on The Flying Dutchman, for
During the last few months, The Dutchman had become Thayer's
favorite rôle. Even Valentine had palled upon him in time.
Lingering deaths become monotonous. When one dies them, four or five
times a week, he longs to hasten the course of events, to change the
Andante to a Prestissimo. To Thayer's later mood, it seemed
that, psychologically speaking, Valentine belonged to the ranks
of the tenors. His riper manhood demanded something a little more
Thayer never admitted to himself that his liking for The Dutchman
came from the personal interpretation which he put upon the story. In
some moods, he would have scoffed at the idea that there could be any
connection between himself, the successful artist whose single surname
on the bill boards could suffice to fill a house, and the wretched
Dutchman whose one defiance hurled at fate had condemned him to
life-long wandering over the face of the deep. Of course, he wandered,
too; but it was by easy stages and by means of Pullmans. The
parallelism failed utterly. Still, there was the possibility of
ultimate salvation gained through the faithful love of a woman.
Nevertheless, Thayer's analysis always brought him to the conclusion
that he liked the opera because his death scene was consummated in the
brief space of two measures.
Thayer was feeling uncommonly alert and content, that night, and,
moreover, he liked his audience. Accordingly, he gave them of his best.
Never had his voice been richer, never had it rung with more dramatic
power than when, in his aria of the first act, he had ended his lament
with the declaration of his inevitable release on the slow-coming
Judgment Day. Then he stood waiting, a huge, lonely, brooding figure,
square-shouldered, square-jawed, defiant of fate, while softly the
chorus of sailors in the hold below echoed the closing phrase of his
Even into Thayer's experience, no such ovation had ever come before.
At first, the audience sat breathless, as if stunned by the might of
his tragedy. Then the applause came crashing down from the galleries,
up from the floor, in from the boxes, focussing itself from all sides
upon that single, lonely, dominant figure before it. And Cotton Mather
Thayer, as he listened with a quiet, impassive face, felt his heart
leaping and bounding within him. He knew, by an instinct which he had
learned to trust completely, that in the years to come, he would never
reach a greater height of artistic success than he had done just then.
One such experience could justify many a year of halting indecision.
Puritan to the core, he yet had proved true to his Slavonic birthright.
As he left the stage with Senta at the end of the second act,
a messenger handed him a card.
The gentleman is waiting, he added. He said he must see you, and
that he was in a hurry.
Thayer glanced at the card.
Bring him to my dressing-room, he said.
He glanced up in surprise, as the door opened and Bobby Dane
entered. He had expected to see Bobby, immaculate in evening clothes,
come strolling lazily in to congratulate him, as he had so often done
before when Thayer had sung in cities near New York. Instead, Bobby was
still in morning dress, and his face and manner betokened some great
I only heard your duet, he said abruptly; but they are saying you
have outdone yourself. Will it break up your part, if I tell you some
Thayer paled suddenly.
No; but the boy died at six o'clock, this afternoon. I went to the
house; but I found there was nothing I could do, so I caught the seven
o'clock train and came up to tell you. Sure it won't upset your
Thayer shook his head impatiently.
I've borne worse shocks, Dane, and gone on warbling as if nothing
had happened. Did Beatrix send for me?
No. I only saw her for a minute. But I thought perhaps you would
like to go to her at once. She may need you.
Thayer held out his hand.
This is like you, Dane. Thank you, he said briefly, as his man
came to warn him that The Dutchman's crew had begun their
Bobby followed him into the wings.
There's a train down at two o'clock, he suggested. Shall we take
The sooner, the better.
I'll get the places, then, and meet you at the hotel afterwards.
And Bobby departed, just as the strings and wind gave out their
announcement of The Dutchman's presence.
In the years to come, Thayer never knew how he went through that
final scene. It was the automatic obedience of an artistic nature to
its years of careful training. He was conscious of hearing no note from
the orchestra, no sound from his own lips. His whole being was centred
in the thought that at last Beatrix was free; that, in her final
freedom, they must face the ultimate crisis of their destinies. Would
it be for weal, or for woe? His brain refused to give back answer to
the question. And, meanwhile, the close-packed audience was thrilling
with the passionate pain of his accepted doom.
The crash of the renewed applause aroused him from his absorption
and, hand in hand with Senta, he emerged from his watery grave
to bow his appreciation. But it was not enough. Even to his
dressing-room, he was pursued by the cries of his name. Yielding
reluctantly, he went out before the curtain once again. Then he hurried
back, and began tearing off his costume with a feverish haste which
took no account of the time before he could get a train back to New
As Thayer's cab turned into the familiar street and stopped at the
door of the Lorimers' house, the gray dawn was breaking. Before its wan
color, the street lamps turned to a sickly yellow, and the asphalt
street stretched away between them like a long chalky ruler bordered
with dots of luminous paint. Above him, the lights in the house glared
out across the sombre dawn, and something in their steady,
unsympathetic glow, in the gray dawn and in the yellowing lamps carried
Thayer's mind far back to that other winter morning when he had hurried
through the storm to be with Beatrix in her hour of need.
The old butler opened the door to him, and took his coat. Then he
pointed towards the library.
She is there, he said softly, with an odd little quaver in his
thin old voice. I think you may go to her.
Thayer crossed the hall, laid his hand on the door, then hesitated.
For an instant, he shrank from the scene that might be before him. Then
instinctively he drew himself up and pushed open the door.
Beatrix? he said.
The color rushed to her face, as she sprang up and held out her
Thank God, you have come!