The Dwelling Place of Light, V2
by Winston Churchill
At certain moments during the days that followed the degree of
tension her relationship with Ditmar had achieved tested the limits of
Janet's ingenuity and powers of resistance. Yet the sense of mastery
at being able to hold such a man in leash was by no means
unpleasurable to a young woman of her vitality and spirit. There was
always the excitement that the leash might break--and then what? Here
was a situation, she knew instinctively, that could not last, one
fraught with all sorts of possibilities, intoxicating or abhorrent to
contemplate; and for that very reason fascinating. When she was away
from Ditmar and tried to think about it she fell into an abject
perplexity, so full was it of anomalies and contradictions, of
conflicting impulses; so far beyond her knowledge and experience. For
Janet had been born in an age which is rapidly discarding blanket
morality and taboos, which has as yet to achieve the morality of
scientific knowledge, of the individual instance. Tradition,
convention, the awful examples portrayed for gain in the movies, even
her mother's pessimistic attitude in regard to the freedom with which
the sexes mingle to-day were powerless to influence her. The thought,
however, that she might fundamentally resemble her sister Lise,
despite a fancied superiority, did occasionally shake her and bring
about a revulsion against Ditmar. Janet's problem was in truth,
though she failed so to specialize it, the supreme problem of our
time: what is the path to self-realization? how achieve emancipation
from the commonplace?
Was she in love with Ditmar? The question was distasteful, she
avoided it, for enough of the tatters of orthodox Christianity clung
to her to cause her to feel shame when she contemplated the feelings
he aroused in her. It was when she asked herself what his intentions
were that her resentment burned, pride and a sense of her own value
convinced her that he had deeply insulted her in not offering
marriage. Plainly, he did not intend to offer marriage; on the other
hand, if he had done so, a profound, self-respecting and moral
instinct in her would, in her present mood, have led her to refuse.
She felt a fine scorn for the woman who, under the circumstances,
would insist upon a bond and all a man's worldly goods in return for
that which it was her privilege to give freely; while the notion of
servility, of economic dependence--though she did not so phrase
it--repelled her far more than the possibility of social ruin.
This she did not contemplate at all; her impulse to leave Hampton
and Ditmar had nothing to do with that....
Away from Ditmar, this war of inclinations possessed her waking
mind, invaded her dreams. When she likened herself to the other
exploited beings he drove to run his mills and fill his orders,--of
whom Mr. Siddons had spoken--her resolution to leave Hampton gained
such definite ascendancy that her departure seemed only a matter of
In this perspective Ditmar appeared so ruthless, his purpose to use
her and fling her away so palpable, that she despised herself for
having hesitated. A longing for retaliation consumed her; she wished
to hurt him before she left. At such times, however, unforeseen
events invariably intruded to complicate her feelings and alter her
plans. One evening at supper, for instance, when she seemed at last
to have achieved the comparative peace of mind that follows a decision
after struggle, she gradually became aware of an outburst from Hannah
concerning the stove, the condition of which for many months had been
a menace to the welfare of the family. Edward, it appeared, had
remarked mildly on the absence of beans.
"Beans!" Hannah cried. "You're lucky to have any supper at all. I
just wish I could get you to take a look at that oven--there's a hole
you can put your hand through, if you've a mind to. I've done my
best, I've made out to patch it from time to time, and to-day I had
Mr. Tiernan in. He says it's a miracle I've been able to bake
anything. A new one'll cost thirty dollars, and I don't know where
the money's coming from to buy it. And the fire-box is most worn
"Well, mother, we'll see what we can do," said Edward.
"You're always seeing what you can do, but I notice you never do
anything," retorted Hannah; and Edward had the wisdom not to reply.
Beside his place lay a lengthy, close-written letter, and from time to
time, as he ate his canned pears, his hand turned over one of its many
"It's from Eben Wheeler, says he's been considerably troubled with
asthma," he observed presently. "His mother was a Bumpus, a daughter
of Caleb-descended from Robert, who went from Dolton to Tewksbury in
1816, and fought in the war of 1812. I've told you about him. This
Caleb was born in '53, and he's living now with his daughter's family
in Detroit.... Son-in-law's named Nott, doing well with a
construction company. Now I never could find out before what became
of Robert's descendants. He married Sarah Styles" (reading painfully)
"`and they had issue, John, Robert, Anne, Susan, Eliphalet. John went
to Middlebury, Vermont, and married '"
Hannah, gathering up the plates, clattered them together noisily.
"A lot of good it does us to have all that information about Eben
Wheeler's asthma!" she complained. "It'll buy us a new stove, I
guess. Him and his old Bumpus papers! If the house burned down over
our heads that's all he'd think of."
As she passed to and fro from the dining-room to the kitchen
Hannah's lamentations continued, grew more and more querulous.
Accustomed as Janet was to these frequent arraignments of her
father's inefficiency, it was gradually borne in upon her now--despite
a preoccupation with her own fate--that the affair thus plaintively
voiced by her mother was in effect a family crisis of the first
magnitude. She was stirred anew to anger and revolt against a life so
precarious and sordid as to be threatened in its continuity by the
absurd failure of a stove, when, glancing at her sister, she felt a
sharp pang of self-conviction, of self-disgust. Was she, also, like
that, indifferent and self-absorbed? Lise, in her evening finery,
looking occasionally at the clock, was awaiting the hour set for a
rendezvous, whiling away the time with the Boston evening sheet whose
glaring red headlines stretched across the page. When the newspaper
fell to her lap a dreamy expression clouded Lise's eyes. She was
thinking of some man! Quickly Janet looked away, at her father, only
to be repelled anew by the expression, almost of fatuity, she
discovered on his face as he bent over the letter once more. Suddenly
she experienced an overwhelming realization of the desperation of
Hannah's plight,--the destiny of spending one's days, without
sympathy, toiling in the confinement of these rooms to supply their
bodily needs. Never had a destiny seemed so appalling. And yet Janet
resented that pity. The effect of it was to fetter and inhibit; from
the moment of its intrusion she was no longer a free agent, to leave
Hampton and Ditmar when she chose. Without her, this family was
helpless. She rose, and picked up some of the dishes. Hannah
snatched them from her hands.
"Leave 'em alone, Janet!" she said with unaccustomed sharpness. "I
guess I ain't too feeble to handle 'em yet."
And a flash of new understanding came to Janet. The dishes were
vicarious, a substitute for that greater destiny out of which Hannah
had been cheated by fate. A substitute, yes, and perhaps become
something of a mania, like her father's Bumpus papers.... Janet left
the room swiftly, entered the bedroom, put on her coat and hat, and
went out. Across the street the light in Mr. Tiernan's shop was still
burning, and through the window she perceived Mr. Tiernan himself
tilted back in his chair, his feet on the table, the tip of his nose
pointed straight at the ceiling. When the bell betrayed the opening
of the door he let down his chair on the floor with a bang.
"Why, it's Miss Janet!" he exclaimed. "How are you this evening,
now? I was just hoping some one would pay me a call."
Twinkling at her, he managed, somewhat magically, to dispel her
temper of pessimism, and she was moved to reply:--
"You know you were having a beautiful time, all by yourself."
"A beautiful time, is it? Maybe it's because I was dreaming of
some young lady a-coming to pay me a visit."
"Well, dreams never come up to expectations, do they?"
"Then it's dreaming I am, still," retorted Mr. Tiernan, quickly.
Janet laughed. His tone, though bantering, was respectful. One of
the secrets of Mr. Tiernan's very human success was due to his ability
to estimate his fellow creatures. His manner of treating Janet, for
instance, was quite different from that he employed in dealing with
Lise. In the course of one interview he had conveyed to Lise, without
arousing her antagonism, the conviction that it was wiser to trust him
than to attempt to pull wool over his eyes. Janet had the
intelligence to trust him; and to-night, as she faced him, the fact
was brought home to her with peculiar force that this wiry-haired
little man was the person above all others of her immediate
acquaintance to seek in time of trouble. It was his great quality.
Moreover, Mr. Tiernan, even in his morning greetings as she passed,
always contrived to convey to her, in some unaccountable fashion, the
admiration and regard in which he held her, and the effect of her
contact with him was invariably to give her a certain objective image
of herself, an increased self-confidence and self-respect. For
instance, by the light dancing in Mr. Tiernan's eyes as he regarded
her, she saw herself now as the mainstay of the helpless family in the
clay-yellow flat across the street. And there was nothing, she was
convinced, Mr. Tiernan did not know about that family. So she said:--
"I've come to see about the stove."
"Sure," he replied, as much as to say that the visit was not
unexpected. "Well, I've been thinking about it, Miss Janet. I've got
a stove here I know'll suit your mother. It's a Reading, it's almost
new. Ye'd better be having a look at it yourself."
He led her into a chaos of stoves, grates, and pipes at the back of
"It's in need of a little polish," he added, as he turned on a
light, "but it's sound, and a good baker, and economical with coal."
He opened the oven and took off the lids.
"I'm afraid I don't know much about stoves," she told him. "But
I'll trust your judgment. How much is it?" she inquired hesitatingly.
He ran his hand through his corkscrewed hair, his familiar gesture.
"Well, I'm willing to let ye have it for twenty-five dollars. If
that's too much--mebbe we can find another."
"Can you put it in to-morrow morning?" she asked.
"I can that," he said. She drew out her purse. "Ye needn't be
paying for it all at once," he protested, laying a hand on her arm.
"You won't be running away."
"Oh, I'd rather--I have the money," she declared hurriedly; and she
turned her back that he might not perceive, when she had extracted the
bills, how little was left in her purse.
"I'll wager ye won't be wanting another soon," he said, as he
escorted her to the door. And he held it open, politely, looking
after her, until she had crossed the street, calling out a cheerful
"Goodnight" that had in it something of a benediction. She avoided
the dining-room and went straight to bed, in a strange medley of
feelings. The self-sacrifice had brought a certain self-satisfaction
not wholly unpleasant. She had been equal to the situation, and a
part of her being approved of this,--a part which had been suppressed
in another mood wherein she had become convinced that self-realization
lay elsewhere. Life was indeed a bewildering thing....
The next morning, at breakfast, though her mother's complaints
continued, Janet was silent as to her purchase, and she lingered on
her return home in the evening because she now felt a reluctance to
appear in the role of protector and preserver of the family. She
would have preferred, if possible, to give the stove anonymously. Not
that the expression of Hannah's gratitude was maudlin; she glared at
Janet when she entered the dining-room and exclaimed: "You hadn't
ought to have gone and done it!"
And Janet retorted, with almost equal vehemence:--
"Somebody had to do it--didn't they? Who else was there?"
"It's a shame for you to spend your money on such things. You'd
ought to save it you'll need it," Hannah continued illogically.
"It's lucky I had the money," said Janet.
Both Janet and Hannah knew that these recriminations, from the
other, were the explosive expressions of deep feeling. Janet knew
that her mother was profoundly moved by her sacrifice. She herself
was moved by Hannah's plight, but tenderness and pity were complicated
by a renewed sense of rebellion against an existence that exacted such
"I hope the stove's all right, mother," she said. "Mr. Tiernan
seemed to think it was a good one."
"It's a different thing," declared Hannah. "I was just wondering
this evening, before you came in, how I ever made out to cook anything
on the other. Come and see how nice it looks."
Janet followed her into the kitchen. As they stood close together
gazing at the new purchase Janet was uncomfortably aware of drops that
ran a little way in the furrows of Hannah's cheeks, stopped, and ran
on again. She seized her apron and clapped it to her face.
"You hadn't ought to be made to do it!" she sobbed.
And Janet was suddenly impelled to commit an act rare in their
intercourse. She kissed her, swiftly, on the cheek, and fled from the
Supper was an ordeal. Janet did not relish her enthronement as a
heroine, she deplored and even resented her mother's attitude toward
her father, which puzzled her; for the studied cruelty of it seemed to
belie her affection for him. Every act and gesture and speech of
Hannah's took on the complexion of an invidious reference to her
reliability as compared with Edward's worthlessness as a provider; and
she contrived in some sort to make the meal a sacrament in
commemoration of her elder daughter's act.
"I guess you notice the difference in that pork," she would
exclaim, and when he praised it and attributed its excellence to
Janet's gift Hannah observed: "As long as you ain't got a son, you're
lucky to have a daughter like her!"
Janet squirmed. Her father's acceptance of his comparative
worthlessness was so abject that her pity was transferred to him,
though she scorned him, as on former occasions, for the
self-depreciation that made him powerless before her mother's
reproaches. After the meal was over he sat listlessly on the sofa,
like a visitor whose presence is endured, pathetically refraining from
that occupation in which his soul found refreshment and peace, the
compilation of the Bumpus genealogy. That evening the papers remained
under the lid of the desk in the corner, untouched.
What troubled Janet above all, however, was the attitude of Lise,
who also came in for her share of implied reproach. Of late Lise had
become an increased source of anxiety to Hannah, who was unwisely
resolved to make this occasion an object lesson. And though parental
tenderness had often moved her to excuse and defend Lise for an
increasing remissness in failing to contribute to the household
expenses, she was now quite relentless in her efforts to wring from
Lise an acknowledgment of the nobility of her sister's act, of
qualities in Janet that she, Lise, might do well to cultivate. Lise
was equally determined to withhold any such acknowledgment; in her
face grew that familiar mutinous look that Hannah invariably failed to
recognize as a danger signal; and with it another-- the sophisticated
expression of one who knows life and ridicules the lack of such
knowledge in others. Its implication was made certain when the two
girls were alone in their bedroom after supper. Lise, feverishly
occupied with her toilet, on her departure broke the silence there by
"Say, if I had your easy money, I might buy a stove, too. How much
does Ditmar give you, sweetheart?"
Janet, infuriated, flew at her sister. Lise struggled to escape.
"Leave me go" she whimpered in genuine alarm, and when at length
she was released she went to the mirror and began straightening her
hat, which had flopped to one side of her head. "I didn't mean
nothin', I was only kiddie' you--what's the use of gettin' nutty over
"I'm not like-you," said Janet.
"I was only kiddin', I tell you," insisted Lise, with a hat pin in
her mouth. "Forget it."
When Lise had gone out Janet sat down in the rocking-chair and
began to rock agitatedly. What had really made her angry, she began
to perceive, was the realization of a certain amount of truth in her
sister's intimation concerning Ditmar. Why should she have, in Lise,
continually before her eyes a degraded caricature of her own
aspirations and ideals? or was Lise a mirror--somewhat tarnished,
indeed--in which she read the truth about herself? For some time
Janet had more than suspected that her sister possessed a new lover--a
lover whom she refrained from discussing; an ominous sign, since it
had been her habit to dangle her conquests before Janet's eyes, to
discuss their merits and demerits with an engaging though cynical
freedom. Although the existence of this gentleman was based on
evidence purely circumstantial, Janet was inclined to believe him of a
type wholly different from his predecessors; and the fact that his
attentions were curiously intermittent and irregular inclined her to
the theory that he was not a resident of Hampton. What was he like?
It revolted her to reflect that he might in some ways possibly
resemble Ditmar. Thus he became the object of a morbid speculation,
especially at such times as this, when Lise attired herself in her new
winter finery and went forth to meet him. Janet, also, had recently
been self-convicted of sharing with Lise the same questionable
tendency toward self-adornment to please the eye of man. The very
next Saturday night after she had indulged in that mad extravagance of
the blue suit, Lise had brought home from the window of The Paris in
Faber Street a hat that had excited the cupidity and admiration of
Miss Schuler and herself, and in front of which they had stood
languishing on three successive evenings. In its acquisition Lise had
expended almost the whole of a week's salary. Its colour was purple,
on three sides were massed drooping lilac feathers, but over the left
ear the wide brim was caught up and held by a crescent of brilliant
paste stones. Shortly after this purchase--the next week, in
fact,--The Paris had alluringly and craftily displayed, for the
tempting sum of $6.29, the very cloak ordained by providence to "go"
with the hat. Miss Schuler declared it would be a crime to fail to
take advantage of such an opportunity but the trouble was that Lise
had had to wait for two more pay-days and endure the suspense arising
from the possibility that some young lady of taste and means might
meanwhile become its happy proprietor. Had not the saleslady been
obdurate, Lise would have had it on credit; but she did succeed, by an
initial payment the ensuing Saturday, in having it withdrawn from
public gaze. The second Saturday Lise triumphantly brought the cloak
home; a velvet cloak,--if the eyes could be believed,-- velvet
bordering on plush, with a dark purple ground delicately and
artistically spotted with a lilac to match the hat feathers, and edged
with a material which--if not too impudently examined and no questions
asked--might be mistaken, by the uninitiated male, for the fur of a
white fox. Both investments had been made, needless to say, on the
strength of Janet's increased salary; and Lise, when Janet had
surprised her before the bureau rapturously surveying the combination,
justified herself with a defiant apology.
"I just had to have something--what with winter coming on," she
declared, seizing the hand mirror in order to view the back. "You
might as well get your clothes chick, while you're about it--and I
didn't have to dig up twenty bones, neither--nor anything like it--" a
reflection on Janet's moest blue suit and her abnormal extravagance.
For it was Lise's habit to carry the war into the enemy's country.
"Sadie's dippy about it--says it puts her in mind of one of the
swells snapshotted in last Sunday's supplement. Well, dearie, how
does the effect get you?" and she wheeled around for her sister's
"If you take my advice, you'll be careful not to be caught out in
"What's chewin' you now?" demanded Lise. She was not lacking in
imagination of a certain sort, and Janet's remark did not fail in its
purpose of summoning up a somwhat abject image of herself in wet
velvet and bedraggled feathers--an image suggestive of a certain
hunted type of woman Lise and her kind held in peculiar horror. And
she was the more resentful because she felt, instinctively, that the
memory of this suggestion would never be completely eradicated: it
would persist, like a canker, to mar the completeness of her enjoyment
of these clothes. She swung on Janet furiously.
"I get you, all right!" she cried. "I guess I know what's eatin'
you! You've got money to burn and you're sore because I spend mine to
buy what I need. You don't know how to dress yourself any more than
one of them Polak girls in the mills, and you don't want anybody else
to look nice."
And Janet was impelled to make a retort of almost equal crudity:--
"If I were a man and saw you in those clothes I wouldn't wait for
an introduction. You asked me what I thought. I don't care about the
money!" she exclaimed passionately. "I've often told you you were
pretty enough without having to wear that kind of thing--to make men
stare at you."
"I want to know if I don't always look like a lady! And there's no
man living would try to pick me up more than once." The nasal note in
Lise's voice had grown higher and shriller, she was almost weeping
with anger. "You want me to go 'round lookin' like a floorwasher."
"I'd rather look like a floorwasher than--than another kind of
woman," Janet declared.
"Well, you've got your wish, sweetheart," said Lise. "You needn't
be scared anybody will pick you up."
"I'm not," said Janet....
This quarrel had taken place a week or so before Janet's purchase
of the stove. Hannah, too, was outraged by Lise's costume, and had
also been moved to protest; futile protest. Its only effect on Lise
was to convince her of the existence of a prearranged plan of
persecution, to make her more secretive and sullen than ever before.
"Sometimes I just can't believe she's my daughter," Hannah said
dejectedly to Janet when they were alone together in the kitchen after
Lise had gone out. "I'm fond of her because she's my own flesh and
blood--I'm ashamed of it, but I can't help it. I guess it's what the
minister in Dolton used to call a visitation. I suppose I deserve it,
but sometimes I think maybe if your father had been different he might
have been able to put a stop to the way she's going on. She ain't
like any of the Wenches, nor any of the Bumpuses, so far's I'm able to
find out. She just don't seem to have any notion about right and
wrong. Well, the world has got all jumbled up--it beats me."
Hannah wrung out the mop viciously and hung it over the sink.
"I used to hope some respectable man would come along, but I've
quit hopin'. I don't know as any respectable man would want Lise, or
that I could honestly wish him to have her."
"Mother!" protested Janet. Sometimes, in those conversations, she
was somewhat paradoxically impelled to defend her sister.
"Well, I don't," insisted Hannah, "that's a fact. I'll tell you
what she looks like in that hat and cloak--a bad woman. I don't say
she is--I don't know what I'd do if I thought she was, but I never
expected my daughter to look like one."
"Oh, Lise can take care of herself," Janet said, in spite of
certain recent misgivings.
"This town's Sodom and Gomorrah rolled into one," declared Hannah
who, from early habit, was occasionally prone to use scriptural
parallels. And after a moment's silence she inquired: "Who's this man
that's payin' her attention now?"
"I don't know," replied Janet, "I don't know that there's anybody."
"I guess there is," said Hannah. "I used to think that that Wiley
was low enough, but I could see him. It was some satisfaction. I
could know the worst, anyhow.... I guess it's about time for another
This talk had left Janet in one of these introspective states so
frequent in her recent experience. Her mother had used the words
"right" and "wrong." But what was "right," or "wrong?" There was no
use asking Hannah, who--she perceived--was as confused and bewildered
as herself. Did she refuse to encourage Mr. Ditmar because it was
wrong? because, if she acceded to his desires, and what were often
her own, she would be punished in an after life? She was not at all
sure whether she believed in an after life,--a lack of faith that had,
of late, sorely troubled her friend Eda Rawle, who had "got religion"
from an itinerant evangelist and was now working off, in a "live"
church, some of the emotional idealism which is the result of a balked
sex instinct in young unmarried women of a certain mentality and
unendowed with good looks. This was not, of course, Janet's
explanation of the change in her friend, of whom she now saw less and
less. They had had arguments, in which neither gained any ground.
For the first time in their intercourse, ideas had come between them,
Eda having developed a surprising self-assertion when her new
convictions were attacked, a dogged loyalty to a scheme of salvation
that Janet found neither inspiring nor convincing. She resented being
prayed for, and an Eda fervent in good works bored her more than ever.
Eda was deeply pained by Janet's increasing avoidance of her company,
yet her heroine-worship persisted. Her continued regard for her
friend might possibly be compared to the attitude of an orthodox
Baptist who has developed a hobby, let us say, for Napoleon Bonaparte.
Janet was not wholly without remorse. She valued Eda's devotion,
she sincerely regretted the fact, on Eda's account as well as her own,
that it was a devotion of no use to her in the present crisis nor
indeed in any crisis likely to confront her in life: she had felt
instinctively from the first that the friendship was not founded on,
mental harmony, and now it was brought home to her that Eda's solution
could never be hers. Eda would have been thrilled on learning of
Ditmar's attentions, would have advocated the adoption of a campaign
leading up to matrimony. In matrimony, for Eda, the soul was safe.
Eda would have been horrified that Janet should have dallied with any
other relationship; God would punish her. Janet, in her conflict
between alternate longing and repugnance, was not concerned with the
laws and retributions of God. She felt, indeed, the need of counsel,
and knew not where to turn for it,-- the modern need for other than
supernatural sanctions. She did not resist her desire for Ditmar
because she believed, in the orthodox sense, that it was wrong, but
because it involved a loss of self-respect, a surrender of the
personality from the very contemplation of which she shrank. She was
a true daughter of her time.
On Friday afternoon, shortly after Ditmar had begun to dictate his
correspondence, Mr. Holster, the agent of the Clarendon Mill, arrived
and interrupted him. Janet had taken advantage of the opportunity to
file away some answered letters when her attention was distracted from
her work by the conversation, which had gradually grown louder. The
two men were standing by the window, facing one another, in an
attitude that struck her as dramatic. Both were vital figures,
dominant types which had survived and prevailed in that upper world of
unrelenting struggle for supremacy into which, through her relation to
Ditmar, she had been projected, and the significance of which she had
now begun to realize. She surveyed Holster critically. He was short,
heavily built, with an almost grotesque width of shoulder, a muddy
complexion, thick lips, and kinky, greasy black hair that glistened in
the sun. His nasal voice was complaining, yet distinctly aggressive,
and he emphasized his words by gestures. The veins stood out on his
forehead. She wondered what his history had been. She compared him
to Ditmar, on whose dust-grey face she was quick to detect a look she
had seen before--a contraction of the eyes, a tightening of the
muscles of the jaw. That look, and the peculiarly set attitude of the
body accompanying it, aroused in her a responsive sense of
"All right, Ditmar," she heard the other exclaim. "I tell you
again you'll never be able to pull it off."
Ditmar's laugh was short, defiant.
"Why not?" he asked.
"Why not! Because the fifty-four hour law goes into effect in
"What's that got to do with it?" Ditmar demanded.
"You'll see--you'll remember what I told you fellows at the
conference after that bill went through and that damned demagogue of a
governor insisted on signing it. I said, if we tried to cut wages
down to a fifty-four hour basis we'd have a strike on our hands in
every mill in Hampton,--didn't I? I said it would cost us millions of
dollars, and make all the other strikes we've had here look like fifty
cents. Didn't I say that? Hammond, our president, backed me up, and
Rogers of the wool people. You remember? You were the man who stood
out against it, and they listened to you, they voted to cut down the
pay and say nothing about it. Wait until those first pay envelopes
are opened after that law goes into effect. You'll see what'll
happen! You'll never be able to fill that Bradlaugh order in God's
"Oh hell," retorted Ditmar, contemptuously. "You're always for
lying down, Holster. Why don't you hand over your mill to the unions
and go to work on a farm? You might as well, if you're going to let
the unions run the state. Why not have socialism right now, and cut
out the agony? When they got the politicians to make the last cut from
fifty-six to fifty-four and we kept on payin' 'em for fifty-six,
against my advice, what happened? Did they thank us? I guess not.
Were they contented? Not on your life. They went right on agitating,
throwing scares into the party conventions and into the House and
Senate Committees,--and now it's fifty-four hours. It'll be fifty in
a couple of years, and then we'll have to scrap our machinery and turn
over the trade to the South and donate our mills to the state for
"No, if we handle this thing right, we'll have the public on our
side. They're getting sick of the unions now."
Ditmar went to the desk for a cigar, bit it off, and lighted it.
"The public!" he exclaimed contemptuously. "A whole lot of good
they'll do us."
Holster approached him, menacingly, until the two men stood almost
touching, and for a moment it seemed to Janet as if the agent of the
Clarendon were ready to strike Ditmar. She held her breath, her blood
ran faster,--the conflict between these two made an elemental appeal.
"All right--remember what I say--wait and see where you come out
with that order." Holster's voice trembled with anger. He hesitated,
and left the office abruptly. Ditmar stood gazing after him for a
moment and then, taking his cigar from his mouth, turned and smiled at
Janet and seated himself in his chair. His eyes, still narrowed, had
in them a gleam of triumph that thrilled her. Combat seemed to
stimulate and energize him.
"He thought he could bluff me into splitting that Bradlaugh order
with the Clarendon," Ditmar exclaimed. "Well, he'll have to guess
again. I've got his number." He began to turn over his letters.
"Let's see, where were we? Tell Caldwell not to let in any more
idiots, and shut the door."
Janet obeyed, and when she returned Ditmar was making notes with a
pencil on a pad. The conversation with Holter had given her a new
idea of Ditmar's daring in attempting to fill the Bradlaugh order with
the Chippering Mills alone, had aroused in her more strongly than ever
that hot loyalty to the mills with which he had inspired her; and that
strange surge of sympathy, of fellow-feeling for the operatives she
had experienced after the interview with Mr. Siddons, of rebellion
against him, the conviction that she also was one of the slaves he
exploited, had wholly disappeared. Ditmar was the Chippering Mills,
and she, somehow, enlisted once again on his side.
"By the way," he said abruptly, "you won't mention this--I know."
"Won't mention what?" she asked.
"This matter about the pay envelopes--that we don't intend to
continue giving the operatives fifty-six hours' pay for fifty-four
when this law goes into effect. They're like animals, most of 'em,
they don't reason, and it might make trouble if it got out now. You
understand. They'd have time to brood over it, to get the agitators
started. When the time comes they may kick a little, but they'll
quiet down. And it'll teach 'em a lesson."
"I never mention anything I hear in this office," she told him.
"I know you don't," he assured her, apologetically. "I oughtn't to
have said that--it was only to put you on your guard, in case you
heard it spoken of. You see how important it is, how much trouble an
agitator might make by getting them stirred up? You can see what it
means to me, with this order on my hands. I've staked everything on
"But--when the law goes into effect? when the operatives find out
that they are not receiving their full wages--as Mr. Holster said?"
"Why, they may grumble a little--but I'll be on the lookout for any
move. I'll see to that. I'll teach 'em a lesson as to how far they
can push this business of shorter hours and equal pay. It's the
unskilled workers who are mostly affected, you understand, and they're
not organized. If we can keep out the agitators, we're all right.
Even then, I'll show 'em they can't come in here and exploit my
In the mood in which she found herself his self-confidence, his
aggressiveness continued to inspire and even to agitate her, to compel
her to accept his point of view.
"Why," he continued, "I trust you as I never trusted anybody else.
I've told you that before. Ever since you've been here you've made
life a different thing for me--just by your being here. I don't know
what I'd do without you. You've got so much sense about things--about
people,-- and I sometimes think you've got almost the same feeling
about these mills that I have. You didn't tell me you went through
the mills with Caldwell the other day," he added, accusingly.
"I--I forgot," said Janet. "Why should I tell--you?" She knew
that all thought of Holster had already slipped from his mind. She
did not look up. "If you're not going to finish your letters," she
said, a little faintly, "I've got some copying to do."
"You're a deep one," he said. And as he turned to the pile of
correspondence she heard him sigh. He began to dictate. She took
down his sentences automatically, scarcely knowing what she was
writing; he was making love to her as intensely as though his words
had been the absolute expression of his desire instead of the
commonplace mediums of commercial intercourse. Presently he stopped
and began fumbling in one of the drawers of his desk.
"Where is the memorandum I made last week for Percy and Company?"
"Isn't it there?" she asked.
But he continued to fumble, running through the papers and
disarranging them until she could stand it no longer.
"You never know where to find anything," she declared, rising and
darting around the desk and bending over the drawer, her deft fingers
rapidly separating the papers. She drew forth the memorandum
"There!" she exclaimed. "It was right before your eyes."
As she thrust it at him his hand closed over hers. She felt him
drawing her, irresistibly.
"Janet!" he said. "For God's sake--you're killing me--don't you
know it? I can't stand it any longer!"
"Don't!" she whispered, terror-stricken, straining away from him.
"Mr. Ditmar--let me go!"
A silent struggle ensued, she resisting him with all the aroused
strength and fierceness of her nature. He kissed her hair, her
neck,--she had never imagined such a force as this, she felt herself
weakening, welcoming the annihilation of his embrace.
"Mr. Ditmar!" she cried. "Somebody will come in."
Her fingers sank into his neck, she tried to hurt him and by a
final effort flung herself free and fled to the other side of the
"You little--wildcat!" she heard him exclaim, saw him put his
handkerchief to his neck where her fingers had been, saw a red stain
on it. "I'll have you yet!"
But even then, as she stood leaning against the wall, motionless
save for the surging of her breast, there was about her the same
strange, feral inscrutableness. He was baffled, he could not tell
what she was thinking. She seemed, unconquered, to triumph over her
disarray and the agitation of her body. Then, with an involuntary
gesture she raised her hands to her hair, smoothing it, and without
seeming haste left the room, not so much as glancing at him, closing
the door behind her.
She reached her table in the outer office and sat down, gazing out
of the window. The face of the world--the river, the mills, and the
bridge--was changed, tinged with a new and unreal quality. She, too,
must be changed. She wasn't, couldn't be the same person who had
entered that room of Ditmar's earlier in the afternoon! Mr. Caldwell
made a commonplace remark, she heard herself answer him. Her mind was
numb, only her body seemed swept by fire, by emotions--emotions of
fear, of anger, of desire so intense as to make her helpless. And
when at length she reached out for a sheet of carbon paper her hand
trembled so she could scarcely hold it. Only by degrees was she able
to get sufficient control of herself to begin her copying, when she
found a certain relief in action--her hands flying over the keys,
tearing off the finished sheets, and replacing them with others. She
did not want to think, to decide, and yet she knew--something was
trying to tell her that the moment for decision had come. She must
leave, now. If she stayed on, this tremendous adventure she longed
for and dreaded was inevitable. Fear and fascination battled within
her. To run away was to deny life; to remain, to taste and savour it.
She had tasted it--was it sweet?-- that sense of being swept away,
engulfed by an elemental power beyond them both, yet in them both?
She felt him drawing her to him, and she struggling yet inwardly
longing to yield. And the scarlet stain on his handkerchief--when she
thought of that her blood throbbed, her face burned.
At last the door of the inner office opened, and Ditmar came out
and stood by the rail. His voice was queer, scarcely recognizable.
"Miss Bumpus--would you mind coming into my room a moment, before
you leave?" he said.
She rose instantly and followed him, closing the door behind her,
but standing at bay against it, her hand on the knob.
"I'm not going to touch you--you needn't be afraid," he said.
Reassured by the unsteadiness of his voice she raised her eyes to
perceive that his face was ashy, his manner nervous, apprehensive,
conciliatory,--a Ditmar she had difficulty in recognizing. "I didn't
mean to frighten, to offend you," he went on. "Something got hold of
me. I was crazy, I couldn't help it--I won't do it again, if you'll
stay. I give you my word."
She did not reply. After a pause he began again, repeating
"I didn't mean to do it. I was carried away--it all happened
before I knew. I--I wouldn't frighten you that way for anything in
Still she was silent.
"For God's sake, speak to me!" he cried. "Say you forgive me--give
me another chance!"
But she continued to gaze at him with widened, enigmatic
eyes--whether of reproach or contempt or anger he could not say. The
situation transcended his experience. He took an uncertain step
toward her, as though half expecting her to flee, and stopped.
"Listen!" he pleaded. "I can't talk to you here. Won't you give
me a chance to explain--to put myself right? You know what I think of
you, how I respect and--admire you. If you'll only let me see you
somewhere-- anywhere, outside of the office, for a little while, I
can't tell you how much I'd appreciate it. I'm sure you don't
understand how I feel--I couldn't bear to lose you. I'll be down by
the canal--near the bridge-- at eight o'clock to-night. I'll wait for
you. You'll come? Say you'll come, and give me another chance!"
"Aren't you going to finish your letters?" she asked.
He stared at her in sheer perplexity. "Letters!" he exclaimed.
"Damn the letters! Do you think I could write any letters now?"
As a faint ray in dark waters, a gleam seemed to dance in the
shadows of her eyes, yet was gone so swiftly that he could not be sure
of having seen it. Had she smiled?
"I'll be there," he cried. "I'll wait for you "
She turned from him, opened the door, and went out.
That evening, as Janet was wiping the dishes handed her by her
mother, she was repeating to herself "Shall I go--or shan't I?"--just
as if the matter were in doubt. But in her heart she was convinced of
its predetermination by some power other than her own volition. With
this feeling, that she really had no choice, that she was being guided
and impelled, she went to her bedroom after finishing her task. The
hands of the old dining-room clock pointed to quarter of eight, and
Lise had already made her toilet and departed. Janet opened the
wardrobe, looked at the new blue suit hanging so neatly on its wire
holder, hesitated, and closed the door again. Here, at any rate,
seemed a choice. She would not wear that, to-night. She tidied her
hair, put on her hat and coat, and went out; but once in the street
she did not hurry, though she knew the calmness she apparently
experienced to be false: the calmness of fatality, because she was
obeying a complicated impulse stronger than herself--an impulse that
at times seemed mere curiosity. Somewhere, removed from her immediate
consciousness, a storm was raging; she was aware of a disturbance that
reached her faintly, like the distant throbbing of the looms she heard
when she turned from Faber into West Street She had not been able to
eat any supper. That throbbing of the looms in the night! As it grew
louder and louder the tension within her increased, broke its bounds,
set her heart to throbbing too--throbbing wildly. She halted, and
went on again, precipitately, but once more slowed her steps as she
came to West Street and the glare of light at the end of the bridge;
at a little distance, under the chequered shadows of the bare
branches, she saw something move--a man, Ditmar. She stood motionless
as he hurried toward her.
"You've come! You've forgiven me?" he asked.
"Why were you--down there?" she asked.
"Why? Because I thought--I thought you wouldn't want anybody to
It was quite natural that he should not wish to be seen; although
she had no feeling of guilt, she herself did not wish their meeting
known. She resented the subterfuge in him, but she made no comment
because his perplexity, his embarrassment were gratifying to her
resentment, were restoring her self-possession, giving her a sense of
"We can't stay here," he went on, after a moment. "Let's take a
little walk--I've got a lot to say to you. I want to put myself
right." He tried to take her arm, but she avoided him. They started
along the canal in the direction of the Stanley Street bridge. "Don't
you care for me a little?" he demanded.
"Why should I?" she parried.
"Then--why did you come?"
"To hear what you had to say."
"You mean--about this afternoon?"
"Partly," said Janet.
"Well--we'll talk it all over. I wanted to explain about this
afternoon, especially. I'm sorry--"
"Sorry!" she exclaimed.
The vehemence of her rebuke--for he recognized it as such--took him
completely aback. Thus she was wont, at the most unexpected moments,
to betray the passion within her, the passion that made him sick with
desire. How was he to conquer a woman of this type, who never took
refuge in the conventional tactics of her sex, as he had known them?
"I didn't mean that," he explained desperately. "My God--to feel
you, to have you in my arms--! I was sorry because I frightened you.
But when you came near me that way I just couldn't help it. You
drove me to it."
"Drove you to it!"
"You don't understand, you don't know how--how wonderful you are.
You make me crazy. I love you, I want you as I've never wanted any
woman before--in a different way. I can't explain it. I've got so
that I can't live without you." He flung his arm toward the lights of
the mills. "That--that used to be everything to me, I lived for it.
I don't say I've been a saint--but I never really cared anything
about any woman until I knew you, until that day I went through the
office and saw you what you were. You don't understand, I tell you.
I'm sorry for what I did to-day because it offended you--but you
drove me to it. Most of the time you seem cold, you're like an
iceberg, you make me think you hate me, and then all of a sudden
you'll be kind, as you were the other night, as you seemed this
afternoon--you make me think I've got a chance, and then, when you
came near me, when you touched my hand--why, I didn't know what I was
doing. I just had to have you. A man like me can't stand it."
"Then I'd better go away," she said. "I ought to have gone long
"Why?" he cried. "Why? What's your reason? Why do you want to
ruin my life? You've--you've woven yourself into it--you're a part of
it. I never knew what it was to care for a woman before, I tell you.
There's that mill," he repeated, naively. "I've made it the best
mill in the country, I've got the biggest order that ever came to any
mill--if you went away I wouldn't care a continental about it. If you
went away I wouldn't have any ambition left. Because you're a part of
it, don't you see? You--you sort of stand for it now, in my mind.
I'm not literary, I can't express what I'd like to say, but sometimes
I used to think of that mill as a woman--and now you've come along--"
Ditmar stopped, for lack of adequate eloquence.
She smiled in the darkness at his boyish fervour,--one of the
aspects of the successful Ditmar, the Ditmar of great affairs, that
appealed to her most strongly. She was softened, touched; she felt,
too, a responsive thrill to such a desire as his. Yet she did not
reply. She could not. She was learning that emotion is never simple.
And some inhibition, the identity of which was temporarily obscured
still persisted, pervading her consciousness....
They were crossing the bridge at Stanley Street, now deserted, and
by common consent they paused in the middle of it, leaning on the
rail. The hideous chocolate factory on the point was concealed by the
night,--only the lights were there, trembling on the surface of the
river. Against the flushed sky above the city were silhouetted the
high chimneys of the power plant. Ditmar's shoulder touched hers. He
was still pleading, but she seemed rather to be listening to the
symphony of the unseen waters falling over the dam. His words were
like that, suggestive of a torrent into which she longed to fling
herself, yet refrained, without knowing why. Her hands tightened on
the rail; suddenly she let it go, and led the way toward the
unfrequented district of the south side. It was the road to
Silliston, but she had forgotten that. Ditmar, regaining her side,
continued his pleading. He spoke of his loneliness, which he had
never realized. He needed her. And she experienced an answering
pang. It still seemed incredible that he, too, who had so much, should
feel that gnawing need for human sympathy and understanding that had
so often made her unhappy. And because of the response his need
aroused in her she did not reflect whether he could fulfil her own
need, whether he could ever understand her; whether, at any time, she
could unreservedly pour herself out to him.
"I don't see why you want me," she interrupted him at last. "I've
never had any advantages, I don't know anything. I've never had a
chance to learn. I've told you that before."
"What difference does that make? You've got more sense than any
woman I ever saw," he declared.
"It makes a great deal of difference to me," she insisted--and the
sound of these words on her own lips was like a summons arousing her
from a dream. The sordidness of her life, its cruel lack of
opportunity in contrast with the gifts she felt to be hers, and on
which he had dwelt, was swept back into her mind. Self-pity, dignity,
and inherent self- respect struggled against her woman's desire to
give; an inherited racial pride whispered that she was worthy of the
best, but because she had lacked the chance, he refrained from
offering her what he would have laid at the feet of another woman.
"I'll give you advantages--there's nothing I wouldn't give you.
Why won't you come to me? I'll take care of you."
"Do you think I want to be taken care of?" She wheeled on him so
swiftly that he started back. "Is that what you think I want?"
"No, no," he protested, when he recovered his speech.
"Do you think I'm after--what you can give me?" she shot at him. "
What you can buy for me?"
To tell the truth, he had not thought anything about it, that was
the trouble. And her question, instead of enlightening him, only
added to his confusion and bewilderment.
"I'm always getting in wrong with you," he told her, pathetically.
"There isn't anything I'd stop at to make you happy, Janet, that's
what I'm trying to say. I'd go the limit."
"Your limit!" she exclaimed.
"What do you mean?" he demanded. But she had become inarticulate--
cryptic, to him. He could get nothing more out of her.
"You don't understand me--you never will!" she cried, and burst
into tears--tears of rage she tried in vain to control. The world was
black with his ignorance. She hated herself, she hated him. Her sobs
shook her convulsively, and she scarcely heard him as he walked beside
her along the empty road, pleading and clumsily seeking to comfort
her. Once or twice she felt his hand on her shoulders.... And then,
unlooked for and unbidden, pity began to invade her. Absurd to pity
him! She fought against it, but the thought of Ditmar reduced to
abjectness gained ground. After all, he had tried to be generous, he
had done his best, he loved her, he needed her--the words rang in her
heart. After all, he did not realize how could she expect him to
realize? and her imagination conjured up the situation in a new
perspective. Her sobs gradually ceased, and presently she stopped in
the middle of the road and regarded him. He seemed utterly miserable,
like a hurt child whom she longed to comfort. But what she said
"I ought to be going home."
"Not yet!" he begged. "It's early. You say I don't understand
you, Janet--my God, I wish I did! It breaks me all up to see you cry
"I'm sorry," she said, after a moment. "I--I can'tmmake you
understand. I guess I'm not like anybody else I'm queer--I can't help
it. You must let me go, I only make you unhappy."
"Let you go!" he cried--and then in utter self-forgetfulness she
yielded her lips to his. A sound penetrated the night, she drew back
from his arms and stood silhouetted against the glare of the
approaching headlight of a trolley car, and as it came roaring down on
them she hailed it. Ditmar seized her arm.
"You're not going--now?" he said hoarsely.
"I must," she whispered. "I want to be alone--I want to think.
You must let me."
"I'll see you to-morrow?"
"I don't know--I want to think. I'm--I'm tired."
The brakes screamed as the car came joltingly to a stop. She flew
up the steps, glancing around to see whether Ditmar had followed her,
and saw him still standing in the road. The car was empty of
passengers, but the conductor must have seen her leaving a man in this
lonely spot. She glanced at his face, white and pinched and
apathetic--he must have seen hundreds of similar episodes in the
course of his nightly duties. He was unmoved as he took her fare.
Nevertheless, at the thought that these other episodes might resemble
hers, her face flamed--she grew hot all over. What should she do now?
She could not think. Confused with her shame was the memory of a
delirious joy, yet no sooner would she give herself up, trembling, to
this memory when in turn it was penetrated by qualms of resentment,
defiling its purity. Was Ditmar ashamed of her?... When she reached
home and had got into bed she wept a little, but her tears were
neither of joy nor sorrow. Her capacity for both was exhausted. In
this strange mood she fell asleep nor did she waken when, at midnight,
Lise stealthily crept in beside her.
Ditmar stood staring after the trolley car that bore Janet away
until it became a tiny speck of light in the distance. Then he
started to walk toward Hampton; in the unwonted exercise was an outlet
for the pent-up energy her departure had thwarted; and presently his
body was warm with a physical heat that found its counterpart in a
delicious, emotional glow of anticipation, of exultant satisfaction.
After all, he could not expect to travel too fast with her. Had he
not at least gained a signal victory? When he remembered her
lips--which she had indubitably given him!--he increased his stride,
and in what seemed an incredibly brief time he had recrossed the
bridge, covered the long residential blocks of Warren Street, and
gained his own door.
The house was quiet, the children having gone to bed, and he groped
his way through the dark parlour to his den, turning on the electric
switch, sinking into an armchair, and lighting a cigar. He liked this
room of his, which still retained something of that flavour of a
refuge and sanctuary it had so eminently possessed in the now
forgotten days of matrimonial conflict. One of the few elements of
agreement he had held in common with the late Mrs. Ditmar was a
similarity of taste in household decoration, and they had gone
together to a great emporium in Boston to choose the furniture and
fittings. The lamp in the centre of the table was a bronze column
supporting a hemisphere of heavy red and emerald glass, the colours
woven into an intricate and bizarre design, after the manner of the
art nouveau--so the zealous salesman had informed them. Cora Ditmar,
when exhibiting this lamp to admiring visitors, had remembered the
phrase, though her pronunciation of it, according to the standard of
the Sorbonne, left something to be desired. The table and chairs, of
heavy, shiny oak marvellously and precisely carved by machines,
matched the big panels of the wainscot. The windows were high in the
wall, thus preventing any intrusion from the clothes-yard on which
they looked. The bookcases, protected by leaded panes, held countless
volumes of the fiction from which Cora Ditmar had derived her
knowledge of the great world outside of Hampton, together with certain
sets she had bought, not only as ornaments, but with a praiseworthy
view to future culture,--such as Whitmarsh's Library of the Best
Literature. These volumes, alas, were still uncut; but some of the
pages of the novels--if one cared to open them--were stained with
chocolate. The steam radiator was a decoration in itself, the
fireplace set in the red and yellow tiles that made the hearth. Above
the oak mantel, in a gold frame, was a large coloured print of a
Magdalen, doubled up in grief, with a glory of loose, Titian hair,
chosen by Ditmar himself as expressing the nearest possible artistic
representation of his ideal of the female form. Cora Ditmar's
objections on the score of voluptuousness and of insufficient clothing
had been vain. She had recognized no immorality of sentimentality in
the art itself; what she felt, and with some justice, was that this
particular Magdalen was unrepentant, and that Ditmar knew it. And the
picture remained an offence to her as long as she lived. Formerly he
had enjoyed the contemplation of this figure, reminding him, as it
did, of mellowed moments in conquests of the past; suggesting also
possibilities of the future. For he had been quick to discount the
attitude of bowed despair, the sop flung by a sensuous artist to
Christian orthodoxy. He had been sceptical about despair--feminine
despair, which could always be cured by gifts and baubles. But
to-night, as he raised his eyes, he felt a queer sensation marring the
ecstatic perfection of his mood. That quality in the picture which so
long had satisfied and entranced him had now become repellent, an ugly
significant reflection of something-- something in himself he was
suddenly eager to repudiate and deny. It was with a certain amazement
that he found himself on his feet with the picture in his hand, gazing
at the empty space where it had hung. For he had had no apparent
intention of obeying that impulse. What should he do with it? Light
the fire and burn it--frame and all? The frame was an integral part
of it. What would his housekeeper say? But now that he had actually
removed it from the wall he could not replace it, so he opened the
closet door and thrust it into a corner among relics which had found
refuge there. He had put his past in the closet; yet the relief he
felt was mingled with the peculiar qualm that follows the discovery of
symptoms never before remarked. Why should this woman have this
extraordinary effect of making him dissatisfied with himself? He sat
down again and tried to review the affair from that first day when he
had surprised in her eyes the flame dwelling in her. She had
completely upset his life, increasingly distracted his mind until now
he could imagine no peace unless he possessed her. Hitherto he had
recognized in his feeling for her nothing but that same desire he had
had for other women, intensified to a degree never before experienced.
But this sudden access of morality--he did not actually define it as
such--was disquieting. And in the feverish, semi-objective survey he
was now making of his emotional tract he was discovering the presence
of other disturbing symptoms such as an unwonted tenderness, a
consideration almost amounting to pity which at times he had vaguely
sensed yet never sought imaginatively to grasp. It bewildered him by
hampering a ruthlessness hitherto absolute. The fierceness of her
inflamed his passion, yet he recognized dimly behind this fierceness
an instinct of selfprotection--and he thought of her in this moment as
a struggling bird that fluttered out of his hands when they were ready
to close over her. So it had been to-night. He might have kept her,
prevented her from taking the car. Yet he had let her go! There came
again, utterly to blot this out, the memory of her lips.
Even then, there had been something sorrowful in that kiss, a
quality he resented as troubling, a flavour that came to him after the
wildness was spent. What was she struggling against? What was behind
her resistance? She loved him! It had never before occurred to him to
enter into the nature of her feelings, having been so preoccupied with
and tortured by his own. This realization, that she loved him, as it
persisted, began to make him uneasy, though it should, according to
all experience, have been a reason for sheer exultation. He began to
see that with her it involved complications, responsibilities,
disclosures, perhaps all of those things he had formerly avoided and
resented in woman. He thought of certain friends of his who had
become tangled up--of one in particular whose bank account had been
powerless to extricate him.... And he was ashamed of himself.
In view of the nature of his sex experience, of his habit of
applying his imagination solely to matters of business rather than to
affairs of the heart,--if his previous episodes may be so
designated,--his failure to surmise that a wish for marriage might be
at the back of her resistance is not so surprising as it may seem; he
laid down, half smoked, his third cigar. The suspicion followed
swiftly on his recalling to mind her vehement repudiation of his
proffered gifts did he think she wanted what he could buy for her!
She was not purchasable--that way. He ought to have known it, he
hadn't realized what he was saying. But marriage! Literally it had
never occurred to him to image her in a relation he himself associated
with shackles. One of the unconscious causes of his fascination was
just her emancipation from and innocence of that herd- convention to
which most women--even those who lack wedding rings--are slaves. The
force of such an appeal to a man of Ditmar's type must not be
underestimated. And the idea that she, too, might prefer the sanction
of the law, the gilded cage as a popular song which once had taken his
fancy illuminatingly expressed it--seemed utterly incongruous with the
freedom and daring of her spirit, was a sobering shock. Was he
prepared to marry her, if he could obtain her in no other way? The
question demanded a survey of his actual position of which he was at
the moment incapable. There were his children! He had never sought
to arrive at even an approximate estimate of the boy and girl as
factors in his life, to consider his feelings toward them; but now,
though he believed himself a man who gave no weight to social
considerations--he had scorned this tendency in his wife--he was to
realize the presence of ambitions for them. He was young, he was
astonishingly successful; he had reason to think, with his
opportunities and the investments he already had made, that he might
some day be moderately rich; and he had at times even imagined himself
in later life as the possessor of one of those elaborate country
places to be glimpsed from the high roads in certain localities, which
the sophisticated are able to recognize as the seats of the socially
ineligible, but which to Ditmar were outward and visible emblems of
success. He liked to think of George as the inheritor of such a
place, as the son of a millionaire, as a "college graduate," as an
influential man of affairs; he liked to imagine Amy as the wife of
such another. In short, Ditmar's wife had left him, as an unconscious
legacy, her aspirations for their children's social prestige....
The polished oak grandfather's clock in the hall had struck one
before he went to bed, mentally wearied by an unwonted problem
involving, in addition to self-interest, an element of ethics, of
affection not wholly compounded of desire.
He slept soundly, however. He was one of those fortunate beings
who come into the world with digestive organs and thyroid glands in
that condition which--so physiologists tell us--makes for a sanguine
temperament. And his course of action, though not decided upon, no
longer appeared as a problem; it differed from a business matter in
that it could wait. As sufficient proof of his liver having rescued
him from doubts and qualms he was able to whistle, as he dressed, and
without a tremor of agitation, the forgotten tune suggested to his
consciousness during the unpleasant reverie of the night
before,--"Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage!" It was Saturday. He ate a
hearty breakfast, joked with George and Amy, and refreshed, glowing
with an expectation mingled with just the right amount of delightful
uncertainty that made the great affairs of life a gamble, yet with the
confidence of the conqueror, he walked in sunlight to the mill. In
view of this firm and hopeful tone of his being he found it all the
more surprising, as he reached the canal, to be seized by a
trepidation strong enough to bring perspiration to his forehead. What
if she had gone! He had never thought of that, and he had to admit it
would be just like her. You never could tell what she would do.
Nodding at Simmons, the watchman, he hurried up the iron-shod
stairs, gained the outer once, and instantly perceived that her chair
beside the window was empty! Caldwell and Mr. Price stood with their
heads together bending over a sheet on which Mr. Price was making
"Hasn't Miss Bumpus come yet?" Ditmar demanded. He tried to speak
naturally, casually, but his own voice sounded strange, seemed to
strike the exact note of sickening apprehension that suddenly
possessed him. Both men turned and looked at him in some surprise.
"Good-morning, Mr. Ditmar," Caldwell said. "Why, yes, she's in
"Oh!" said Ditmar.
"The Boston office has just been calling you--they want to know if
you can't take the nine twenty-two," Caldwell went on. "It's about
that lawsuit. It comes into court Monday morning, and Mr. Sprole is
there, and they say they have to see you. Miss Bumpus has the
Ditmar looked at his watch.
"Damn it, why didn't they let me know yesterday?" he exclaimed. "I
won't see anybody, Caldwell--not even Orcutt--just now. You
understand. I've got to have a little time to do some letters. I
won't be disturbed--by any one--for half an hour."
"All right, Mr. Ditmar."
Ditmar went into his office, closing the door behind him. She was
occupied as usual, cutting open the letters and laying them in a pile
with the deftness and rapidity that characterized all she did.
"Janet!" he exclaimed.
"There's a message for you from Boston. I've made a note of it,"
"I know--Caldwell told me. But I wanted to see you before I
went--I had to see you. I sat up half the night thinking of you, I
woke up thinking of you. Aren't you glad to see me?"
She dropped the letter opener and stood silent, motionless,
awaiting his approach--a pose so eloquent of the sense of fatality
strong in her as to strike him with apprehension, unused though he was
to the appraisal of inner values. He read, darkly, something of this
mystery in her eyes as they were slowly raised to his, he felt afraid;
he was swept again by those unwonted emotions of pity and
tenderness--but when she turned away her head and he saw the bright
spot of colour growing in her cheek, spreading to her temple,
suffusing her throat, when he touched the soft contour of her arm, his
passion conquered.... Still he was acutely conscious of a resistance
within her--not as before, physically directed against him, but
repudiating her own desire. She became limp in his arms, though
making no attempt to escape, and he knew that the essential self of
her he craved still evaded and defied him. And he clung to her the
more desperately--as though by crushing her peradventure he might
"You're hurting me," she said at last, and he let her go, standing
by helplessly while she went through the movements of readjustment
instinctive to women. Even in these he read the existence of the
reservation he was loth to acknowledge.
"Don't you love me?" he said.
"I don't know."
"You do!" he said. "You--you proved it--I know it."
She went a little away from him, picking up the paper cutter, but
it lay idle in her hand.
"For God's sake, tell me what's the matter!" he exclaimed. "I
can't stand this. Janet, aren't you happy?"
She shook her head.
"Why not? I love you. I--I've never been so happy in my life as I
was this morning. Why aren't you happy--when we love each other?"
"Because I'm not."
"Why not? There's nothing I wouldn't do to make you happy--you
know that. Tell me!"
"You wouldn't understand. I couldn't make you understand."
"Is it something I've done?"
"You don't love me," she said. "You only want me. I'm not made
that way, I'm not generous enough, I guess. I've got to have work to
"Work to do! But you'll share my work--it's nothing without you."
She shook her head. "I knew you couldn't understand. You don't
realize how impossible it is. I don't blame you--I suppose a man
She was not upbraiding him, she spoke quietly, in a tone almost
lifeless, yet the emotional effect of it was tremendous.
"But," he began, and stopped, and was swept on again by an impulse
that drowned all caution, all reason. "But you can help me--when we
"Married!" she repeated. "You want to marry me?"
"Yes, yes--I need you." He took her hands, he felt them tremble in
his, her breath came quickly, but her gaze was so intent as seemingly
to penetrate to the depths of him. And despite his man's amazement at
her hesitation now that he had offered her his all, he was moved,
disturbed, ashamed as he had never been in his life. At length, when
he could stand no longer the suspense of this inquisition, he
stammered out: "I want you to be my wife."
"You've wanted to marry me all along?" she asked.
"I didn't think, Janet. I was mad about you. I didn't know you."
"Do you know me now?"
"That's just it," he cried, with a flash of clairvoyance, "I never
will know you--it's what makes you different from any woman I've ever
seen. You'll marry me?"
"I'm afraid," she said. "Oh, I've thought over it, and you
haven't. A woman has to think, a man doesn't, so much. And now
you're willing to marry me, if you can't get me any other way." Her
hand touched his coat, checking his protest. "It isn't that I want
marriage--what you can give me--I'm not like that, I've told you so
before. But I couldn't live as your--mistress."
The word on her lips shocked him a little--but her courage and
candour thrilled him.
"If I stayed here, it would be found out. I wouldn't let you keep
me. I'd have to have work, you see, or I'd lose my self-respect--it's
all I've got--I'd kill myself." She spoke as calmly as though she
were reviewing the situation objectively. "And then, I've thought
that you might come to believe you really wanted to marry me--you
wouldn't realize what you were doing, or what might happen if we were
married. I've tried to tell you that, too, only you didn't seem to
understand what I was saying. My father's only a gatekeeper, we're
poor--poorer than some of the operatives in the mill, and the people
you know here in Hampton wouldn't understand. Perhaps you think you
wouldn't care, but--" she spoke with more effort, "there are your
children. When I've thought of them, it all seems impossible. I'd
make you unhappy--I couldn't bear it, I wouldn't stay with you. You
see, I ought to have gone away long ago."
Believing, as he did, that marriage was the goal of all women, even
of the best, the immediate capitulation he had expected would have
made matters far less difficult. But these scruples of hers, so
startlingly his own, her disquieting insight into his entire mental
process had a momentary checking effect, summoned up the vague presage
of a future that might become extremely troublesome and complicated.
His very reluctance to discuss with her the problem she had raised
warned him that he had been swept into deep waters. On the other
hand, her splendid resistance appealed to him, enhanced her value.
And accustomed as he had been to a lifelong self-gratification, the
thought of being balked in this supreme desire was not to be borne.
Such were the shades of his feeling as he listened to her.
"That's nonsense!" he exclaimed, when she had finished. "You're a
lady-- I know all about your family, I remember hearing about it when
your father came here--it's as good as any in New England. What do
you suppose I care, Janet? We love each other--I've got to have you.
We'll be married in the spring, when the rush is over."
He drew her to him once more, and suddenly, in the ardour of that
embrace, he felt her tenseness suddenly relax--as though, against her
will--and her passion, as she gave her lips, vied with his own. Her
lithe body trembled convulsively, her cheeks were wet as she clung to
him and hid her face in his shoulder. His sensations in the presence
of this thing he had summoned up in her were incomprehensible,
surpassing any he had ever known. It was no longer a woman he held in
his arms, the woman he craved, but something greater, more fearful,
the mystery of sorrow and suffering, of creation and life--of the
"Janet--aren't you happy?" he said again.
She released herself and smiled at him wistfully through her tears.
"I don't know. What I feel doesn't seem like happiness. I can't
believe in it, somehow."
"You must believe in it," he said.
"I can't,--perhaps I may, later. You'd better go now," she begged.
"You'll miss your train."
He glanced at the office clock. "Confound it, I have to. Listen!
I'll be back this evening, and I'll get that little car of mine--"
"No, not to-night--I don't want to go--to-night."
"Not to-night," she repeated.
Well then, to-morrow. To-morrow's Sunday. Do you know where the
Boat Club is on the River Boulevard? I'll be there, to-morrow morning
at ten. I'd come for you, to your house," he added quickly, "but we
don't want any one to know, yet--do we?"
She shook her head.
"We must keep it secret for a while," he said. "Wear your new
dress--the blue one. Good-bye--sweetheart."
He kissed her again and hurried out of the office.... Boarding the
train just as it was about to start, he settled himself in the back
seat of the smoker, lit a cigar, inhaling deep breaths of the smoke
and scarcely noticing an acquaintance who greeted him from the aisle.
Well, he had done it! He was amazed. He had not intended to propose
marriage, and when he tried to review the circumstances that had led
to this he became confused. But when he asked himself whether indeed
he were willing to pay such a price, to face the revolution
marriage--and this marriage in particular--would mean in his life, the
tumult in his blood beat down his incipient anxieties. Besides, he
possessed the kind of mind able to throw off the consideration of
possible consequences, and by the time the train had slowed down in
the darkness of the North Station in Boston all traces of worry had
disappeared. The future would take care of itself.
For the Bumpus family, supper that evening was an unusually
harmonious meal. Hannah's satisfaction over the new stove had by no
means subsided, and Edward ventured, without reproof, to praise the
restored quality of the pie crust. And in contrast to her usual
moroseness and self- absorption, even Lise was gay--largely because
her pet aversion, the dignified and allegedly amorous Mr. Waiters,
floor-walker at the Bagatelle, had fallen down the length of the
narrow stairway leading from the cashier's cage. She became almost
hysterical with glee as she pictured him lying prone beneath the
counter dedicated to lingerie, draped with various garments from the
pile that toppled over on him. "Ruby Nash picked a brassiere off his
whiskers!" Lise shrieked. "She gave the pile a shove when he landed.
He's got her number all right. But say, it was worth the price of
admission to see that old mutt when he got up, he looked like Santa
Claus. All the girls in the floor were there we nearly split trying
to keep from giving him the ha-ha. And Ruby says, sympathetic, as she
brushed him off, `I hope you ain't hurt, Mr. Waiters.' He was sore!
He went around all afternoon with a bunch on his coco as big as a
potato." So vivid was Lise's account of this affair which apparently
she regarded as compensation for many days of drudgery- that even
Hannah laughed, though deploring a choice of language symbolic of a
world she feared and detested.
"If I talked like you," said Lise, "they wouldn't understand me."
Janet, too, was momentarily amused, drawn out of that reverie in
which she had dwelt all day, ever since Ditmar had left for Boston.
Now she began to wonder what would happen if she were suddenly to
announce "I'm going to marry Mr. Ditmar." After the first shock of
amazement, she could imagine her father's complete and complacent
acceptance of the news as a vindication of au inherent quality in the
Bumpus blood. He would begin to talk about the family. For, despite
what might have been deemed a somewhat disillusionizing experience, in
the depths of his being he still believed in the Providence who had
presided over the perilous voyage of the Mayflower and the birth of
Peregrine White, whose omniscient mind was peculiarly concerned with
the family trees of Puritans. And what could be a more striking proof
of the existence of this Providence, or a more fitting acknowledgment
on his part of the Bumpus virtues, than that Janet should become the
wife of the agent of the Chippering Mills? Janet smiled. She was
amused, too, by the thought that Lise's envy would be modified by the
prospect of a heightened social status; since Lise, it will be
remembered, had her Providence likewise. Hannah's god was not a
Providence, but one deeply skilled in persecution, in ingenious
methods of torture; one who would not hesitate to dangle baubles
before the eyes of his children--only to snatch them away again.
Hannah's pessimism would persist as far as the altar, and beyond!
On the whole, such was Janet's notion of the Deity, though deep
within her there may have existed a hope that he might be outwitted;
that, by dint of energy and brains, the fair things of life might be
obtained despite a malicious opposition. And she loved Ditmar. This
must be love she felt, this impatience to see him again, this desire
to be with him, this agitation possessing her so utterly that all day
long she had dwelt in an unwonted state like a somnambulism: it must
be love, though not resembling in the least the generally accepted,
virginal ideal. She saw him as he was, crude, powerful, relentless in
his desire; his very faults appealed. His passion had overcome his
prudence, he had not intended to propose, but any shame she felt on
this score was put to flight by a fierce exultation over the fact that
she had brought him to her feet, that he wanted her enough to marry
her. It was wonderful to be wanted like that! But she could not
achieve the mental picture of herself as Ditmar's wife--especially
when, later in the evening, she walked up Warren Street and stood
gazing at his house from the opposite pavement. She simply could not
imagine herself living in that house as its mistress. Notwithstanding
the testimony of the movies, such a Cinderella-like transition was not
within the realm of probable facts; things just didn't happen that
She recalled the awed exclamation of Eda when they had walked
together along Warren Street on that evening in summer: "How would you
like to live there!"--and hot with sudden embarrassment and resentment
she had dragged her friend onward, to the corner. In spite of its
size, of the spaciousness of existence it suggested, the house had not
appealed to her then. Janet did not herself realize or estimate the
innate if undeveloped sense of form she possessed, the artist-instinct
that made her breathless on first beholding Silliston Common. And
then the vision of Silliston had still been bright; but now the light
of a slender moon was as a gossamer silver veil through which she
beheld the house, as in a stage setting, softening and obscuring its
lines, lending it qualities of dignity and glamour that made it seem
remote, unreal, unattainable. And she felt a sudden, overwhelming
longing, as though her breast would burst....
Through the drawn blinds the lights in the second storey gleamed
yellow. A dim lamp burned in the deep vestibule, as in a sanctuary.
And then, as though some supernaturally penetrating ray had pierced a
square hole in the lower walls, a glimpse of the interior was revealed
to her, of the living room at the north end of the house. Two figures
chased one another around the centre table--Ditmar's children! Was
Ditmar there? Impelled irresistibly by a curiosity overcoming
repugnance and fear, she went forward slowly across the street, gained
the farther pavement, stepped over the concrete coping, and stood,
shivering violently, on the lawn, feeling like an interloper and a
thief, yet held by morbid fascination. The children continued to
romp. The boy was strong and swift, the girl stout and ungainly in
her movements, not mistress of her body; he caught her and twisted her
arm, roughly--Janet could hear her cries through the window-=when an
elderly woman entered, seized him, struggling with him. He put out
his tongue at her, but presently released his sister, who stood
rubbing her arm, her lips moving in evident recrimination and
complaint. The faces of the two were plain now; the boy resembled
Ditmar, but the features of the girl, heavy and stamped with
self-indulgence, were evidently reminiscent of the woman who had been
his wife. Then the shade was pulled down, abruptly; and Janet,
overcome by a sense of horror at her position, took to flight....
When, after covering the space of a block she slowed down and tried
to imagine herself as established in that house, the stepmother of
those children, she found it impossible. Despite the fact that her
attention had been focussed so strongly on them, the fringe of her
vision had included their surroundings, the costly furniture, the
piano against the farther wall, the music rack. Evidently the girl
was learning to play. She felt a renewed, intenser bitterness against
her own lot: she was aware of something within her better and finer
than the girl, than the woman who had been her mother had
possessed--that in her, Janet, had lacked the advantages of
development. Could it--could it ever be developed now? Had this love
which had come to her brought her any nearer to the unknown realm of
light she craved?...
Though December had come, Sunday was like an April day before whose
sunlight the night-mists of scruples and morbid fears were scattered
and dispersed. And Janet, as she fared forth from the Fillmore Street
flat, felt resurging in her the divine recklessness that is the very
sap of life. The future, save of the immediate hours to come, lost
its power over her. The blue and white beauty of the sky proclaimed
all things possible for the strong; and the air was vibrant with the
sweet music of bells, calling her to happiness. She was going to meet
happiness, to meet love--to meet Ditmar! The trolley which she took
in Faber Street, though lagging in its mission, seemed an agent of
that happiness as it left the city behind it and wound along the
heights beside the tarvia roadway above the river, bright glimpses of
which she caught through the openings in the woods. And when she
looked out of the window on her right she beheld on a little forested
rise a succession of tiny "camps" built by residents of Hampton whose
modest incomes could not afford more elaborate summer places; camps of
all descriptions and colours, with queer names that made her smile:
"The Cranny," "The Nook," "Snug Harbour," "Buena Vista,"--of
course,--which she thought pretty, though she did not know its
meaning; and another, in German, equally perplexing, "Klein aber
Mein." Though the windows of these places were now boarded up, though
the mosquito netting still clung rather dismally to the porches, they
were mutely suggestive of contentment and domestic joy.
Scarcely had she alighted from the car at the rendezvous he had
mentioned, beside the now deserted boathouse where in the warm weather
the members of the Hampton Rowing Club disported themselves, when she
saw an automobile approaching--and recognized it as the gay "roadster"
Ditmar had exhibited to her that summer afternoon by the canal; and
immediately Ditmar himself, bringing it to a stop and leaping from it,
stood before her in the sunlight, radiating, as it seemed, more
sunlight still. With his clipped, blond moustache and his
straw-coloured hair--as yet but slightly grey at the temples--he
looked a veritable conquering berserker in his huge coat of golden
fur. Never had he appeared to better advantage.
"I was waiting for you," he said, "I saw you in the car." Turning
to the automobile, he stripped the tissue paper from a cluster of dark
red roses with the priceless long stems of which Lise used to rave
when she worked in the flower store. And he held the flowers against
her suit her new suit she had worn for this meeting.
"Oh," she cried, taking a deep, intoxicating breath of their
fragrance. "You brought these--for me?"
"From Boston--my beauty!"
"But I can't wear all of them!"
"Why not?" he demanded. "Haven't you a pin?"
She produced one, attaching them with a gesture that seemed
habitual, though the thought of their valuerevealing in some degree
her own worth in his eyes-unnerved her. She was warmly conscious of
his gaze. Then he turned, and opening a compartment at the back of
the car drew from it a bright tweed motor coat warmly lined.
"Oh, no!" she protested, drawing back. "I'll--I'll be warm
enough." But laughingly, triumphantly, he seized her and thrust her
arms in the sleeves, his fingers pressing against her. Overcome by
shyness, she drew away from him.
"I made a pretty good guess at the size--didn't I, Janet?" he
cried, delightedly surveying her. "I couldn't forget it!" His glance
grew more concentrated, warmer, penetrating.
"You mustn't look at me like that!" she pleaded with lowered eyes.
"Why not--you're mine--aren't you? You're mine, now."
"I don't know. There are lots of things I want to talk about," she
replied, but her protest sounded feeble, unconvincing, even to
herself. He fairly lifted her into the automobile--it was a caress,
only tempered by the semipublicity of the place. He was giving her no
time to think-- but she did not want to, think. Starting the engine,
he got in and leaned toward her.
"Not here!" she exclaimed.
"All right--I'll wait," he agreed, tucking the robe about her
deftly, solicitously, and she sank back against the seat, surrendering
herself to the luxury, the wonder of being cherished, the caressing
and sheltering warmth she felt of security and love, the sense of
emancipation from discontent and sordidness and struggle. For a
moment she closed her eyes, but opened them again to behold the
transformed image of herself reflected in the windshield to confirm
the illusion--if indeed it were one! The tweed coat seemed
startlingly white in the sunlight, and the woman she saw, yet
recognized as herself, was one of the fortunately placed of the earth
with power and beauty at her command! And she could no longer imagine
herself as the same person who the night before had stood in front of
the house in Warren Street. The car was speeding over the smooth
surface of the boulevard; the swift motion, which seemed to her like
that of flying, the sparkling air, the brightness of the day, the
pressure of Ditmar's shoulder against hers, thrilled her. She
marvelled at his sure command over the machine, that responded like a
live thing to his touch. On the wide, straight stretches it went at a
mad pace that took her breath, and again, in turning a corner or
passing another car, it slowed down, purring in meek obedience. Once
she gasped: "Not so fast! I can't stand it."
He laughed and obeyed her. They glided between river and sky
across the delicate fabric of a bridge which but a moment before she
had seen in the distance. Running through the little village on the
farther bank, they left the river.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"Oh, for a little spin," he answered indulgently, turning into a
side road that wound through the woods and suddenly stopping. "Janet,
we've got this day--this whole day to ourselves." He seized and drew
her to him, and she yielded dizzily, repaying the passion of his kiss,
forgetful of past and future while he held her, whispering brokenly
"You'll ruin my roses," she protested breathlessly, at last, when
it seemed that she could no longer bear this embrace, nor the pressure
of his lips. "There! you see you're crushing them!" She undid them,
and buttoning the coat, held them to her face. Their odour made her
faint: her eyes were clouded.
"Listen, Claude!" she said at last,--it was the first time she had
called him so--getting free. "You must be sensible! some one might
"I'll never get enough of you!" he said. "I can't believe it yet."
And added irrelevantly: "Pin the roses outside."
She shook her head. Something in her protested against this too
public advertisement of their love.
"I'd rather hold them," she answered. "Let's go on." He started
the car again. "Listen, I want to talk to you, seriously. I've been
"Don't I know you've been thinking!" he told her exuberantly. "If
I could only find out what's always going on in that little head of
yours! If you keep on thinking you'll dry up, like a New England
school-marm. And now do you know what you are? One of those dusky red
roses just ready to bloom. Some day I'll buy enough to smother you in
"Listen!" she repeated, making a great effort to calm herself, to
regain something of that frame of mind in which their love had assumed
the proportions of folly and madness, to summon up the scruples which,
before she had left home that morning, she had resolved to lay before
him, which she knew would return when she could be alone again. "I
have to think-- you won't," she exclaimed, with a fleeting smile.
"Well, what is it?" he assented. "You might as well get it off
And it took all her strength to say: "I don't see how I can marry
you. I've told you the reasons. You're rich, and you have friends who
wouldn't understand--and your children--they wouldn't understand.
I--I'm nothing, I know it isn't right, I know you wouldn't be happy.
I've never lived--in the kind of house you live in and known the kind
of people you know, I shouldn't know what to do."
He took his eyes off the road and glanced down at her curiously.
His smile was self-confident, exultant.
"Now do you feel better--you little Puritan?" he said.
And perforce she smiled in return, a pucker appearing between her
"I mean it," she said. "I came out to tell you so. I know--it
just isn't possible."
"I'd marry you to-day if I could get a license," he declared.
"Why, you're worth any woman in America, I don't care who she is, or
how much money she has."
In spite of herself she was absurdly pleased.
"Now that is over, we won't discuss it again, do you understand?
I've got you," he said, "and I mean to hold on to you."
She sighed. He was driving slowly now along the sandy road, and
with his hand on hers she simply could not think. The spell of his
nearness, of his touch, which all nature that morning conspired to
deepen, was too powerful to be broken, and something was calling to
her, "Take this day, take this day," drowning out the other voice
demanding an accounting. She was living--what did it all matter? She
yielded herself to the witchery of the hour, the sheer delight of
forthfaring into the unknown.
They turned away from the river, crossing the hills of a rolling
country now open, now wooded, passing white farmhouses and red barns,
and ancient, weather-beaten dwellings with hipped roofs and "lean-tos"
which had been there in colonial days when the road was a bridle-path.
Cows and horses stood gazing at them from warm paddocks, where the
rich, black mud glistened, melted by the sun; chickens scratched and
clucked in the barnyards or flew frantically across the road,
sometimes within an ace of destruction. Janet flinched, but Ditmar
would laugh, gleefully, boyishly.
"We nearly got that one!" he would exclaim. And then he had to
assure her that he wouldn't run over them.
"I haven't run over one yet,--have I?" he would demand.
"No, but you will, it's only luck."
"Luck!" he cried derisively. "Skill! I wish I had a dollar for
every one I got when I was learning to drive. There was a farmer over
here in Chester--" and he proceeded to relate how he had had to pay
for two turkeys. "He got my number, the old hayseed, he was laying
for me, and the next time I went back that way he held me up for five
dollars. I can remember the time when a man in a motor was an easy
mark for every reuben in the county. They got rich on us."
She responded to his mood, which was wholly irresponsible,
exuberant, and they laughed together like children, every little
incident assuming an aspect irresistibly humorous. Once he stopped to
ask an old man standing in his dooryard how far it was to Kingsbury.
"Wal, mebbe it's two mile, they mostly call it two," said the
patriarch, after due reflection, gathering his beard in his band.
"Mebbe it's more." His upper lip was blue, shaven, prehensile.
"What did you ask him for, when you know?" said Janet, mirthfully,
when they had gone on, and Ditmar was imitating him. Ditmar's reply
was to wink at her. Presently they saw another figure on the road.
"Let's see what he'll say," Ditmar proposed. This man was young,
the colour of mahogany, with glistening black hair and glistening
black eyes that regarded the too palpable joyousness of their holiday
humour in mute surprise.
"I no know--stranger," he said.
"No speaka Portugueso?" inquired Ditmar, gravely.
"The country is getting filthy with foreigners," he observed, when
he had started the car. "I went down to Plymouth last summer to see
the old rock, and by George, it seemed as if there wasn't anybody
could speak American on the whole cape. All the Portuguese islands
are dumped there- -cranberry pickers, you know."
"I didn't know that," said Janet.
"Sure thing!" he exclaimed. "And when I got there, what do you
think? there was hardly enough of the old stone left to stand on, and
that had a fence around it like an exhibit in an exposition. It had
all been chipped away by souvenir hunters."
She gazed at him incredulously.
"You don't believe me! I'll take you down there sometime. And
another thing, the rock's high and dry--up on the land. I said to
Charlie Crane, who was with me, that it must have been a peach of a
jump for old Miles Standish and Priscilla what's her name."
"How I'd love to see the ocean again!" Janet exclaimed.
"Why, I'll take you--as often as you like," he promised. "We'll go
out on it in summer, up to Maine, or down to the Cape."
Her enchantment was now so great that nothing seemed impossible.
"And we'll go down to Plymouth, too, some Sunday soon, if this
weather keeps up. If we start early enough we can get there for
lunch, easy. We'll see the rock. I guess some of your ancestors must
have come over with that Mayflower outfit--first cabin, eh? You look
Janet laughed. "It's a joke on them, if they did. I wonder what
they'd think of Hampton, if they could see it now. I counted up once,
just to tease father--he's the seventh generation from Ebenezer
Bumpus, who came to Dolton. Well, I proved to him he might have one
hundred and twenty- six other ancestors besides Ebenezer and his
"That must have jarred him some," was Ditmar's comment. "Great old
man, your father. I've talked to him--he's a regular historical
society all by himself. Well, there must be something in it, this
family business. Now, you can tell he comes from fine old American
stock-he looks it."
Janet flushed. "A lot of good it does!" she exclaimed.
"I don't know," said Ditmar. "It's something to fall back on--a
good deal. And he hasn't got any of that nonsense in his head about
labour unions--he's a straight American. And you look the part," he
added. "You remind me--I never thought of it until now--you remind me
of a picture of Priscilla I saw once in a book of poems Longfellow's,
you know. I'm not much on literature, but I remember that, and I
remember thinking she could have me. Funny isn't it, that you should
have come along? But you've got more ginger than the woman in that
picture. I'm the only man that ever guessed it isn't that so?" he
"You're wonderful!" retorted Janet, daringly.
"You just bet I am, or I couldn't have landed you," he asserted.
"You're chock full of ginger, but it's been all corked up. You're so
prim-so Priscilla." He was immensely pleased with the adjective he
had coined, repeating it. "It's a great combination. When I think of
it, I want to shake you, to squeeze you until you scream."
"Then please don't think of it," she said.
"That's easy!" he exclaimed, mockingly.
At a quarter to one they entered a sleepy village reminiscent of a
New England of other days. The long street, deeply shaded in summer,
was bordered by decorous homes, some of which had stood there for a
century and a half; others were of the Mansard period. The high
school, of strawberry-coloured brick, had been the pride and glory of
the Kingsbury of the '70s: there were many churches, some graceful and
some hideous. At the end of the street they came upon a common,
surrounded by stone posts and a railing, with a monument in the middle
of it, and facing the common on the north side was a rambling edifice
with many white gables, in front of which, from an iron arm on a post,
swung a quaint sign, "Kingsbury Tavern." In revolutionary and
coaching days the place bad been a famous inn; and now, thanks to the
enterprise of a man who had foreseen the possibilities of an era of
automobiles, it had become even more famous. A score of these modern
vehicles were drawn up before it under the bare, ancient elms; there
was a scene of animation on the long porch, where guests strolled up
and down or sat in groups in the rocking- chairs which the mild
weather had brought forth again. Ditmar drew up in line with the
other motors, and stopped.
"Well, here we are!" he exclaimed, as he pulled off his gauntlets.
"I guess I could get along with something to eat. How about you?
They treat you as well here as any place I know of in New England."
He assumed their lunching together at a public place as a matter of
course to which there could not possibly be an objection, springing
out of the car, removing the laprobe from her knees, and helping her
to alight. She laid the roses on the seat.
"Aren't you going to bring them along?" he demanded.
"I'd rather not," she said. "Don't you think they'll be safe
"Oh, I guess so," he replied. She was always surprising him; but
her solicitation concerning them was a balm, and he found all such
instinctive acts refreshing.
"Afraid of putting up too much of a front, are you?" he asked
"I'd rather leave them here," she replied. As she walked beside
Ditmar to the door she was excited, unwontedly self-conscious,
painfully aware of inspection by the groups on the porch. She had
seen such people as these hurrying in automobiles through the ugliness
of Faber Street in Hampton toward just such delectable spots as this
village of Kingsbury-- people of that world of freedom and privilege
from which she was excluded; Ditmar's world. He was at home here.
But she? The delusion that she somehow had been miraculously
snatched up into it was marred by their glances. What were they
thinking of her? Her face was hot as she passed them and entered the
hall, where more people were gathered. But Ditmar's complacency, his
ease and self-confidence, his manner of owning the place, as it were,
somewhat reassured her. He went up to the desk, behind which, stood a
burly, red-complexioned man who greeted him effusively, yet with the
air of respect accorded the powerful.
"Hullo, Eddie," said Ditmar. "You've got a good crowd here to-day.
Any room for me?"
"Sure, Mr. Ditmar, we can always make room for you. Well, I
haven't laid eyes on you for a dog's age. Only last Sunday Mr. Crane
was here, and I was asking him where you'd been keeping yourself."
"Why, I've been busy, Eddie. I've landed the biggest order ever
heard of in Hampton. Some of us have to work, you know; all you've
got to do is to loaf around this place and smoke cigars and rake in
The proprietor of the Kingsbury Tavern smiled indulgently at this
"Let me present you to Miss Bumpus," said Ditmar. "This is my
friend, Eddie Hale," he added, for Janet's benefit. "And when you've
eaten his dinner you'll believe me when I say he's got all the other
hotel men beaten a mile."
Janet smiled and flushed. She had been aware of Mr. Hale's
"Pleased to meet you, Miss Bumpus," he said, with a somewhat
"Eddie," said Ditmar, "have you got a nice little table for us?"
"It's a pity I didn't know you was coming, but I'll do my best,"
declared Mr. Hale, opening the door in the counter.
"Oh, I guess you can fix us all right, if you want to, Eddie."
"Mr. Ditmar's a great josher," Mr. Hale told Janet confidentially
as he escorted them into the dining-room. And Ditmar, gazing around
over the heads of the diners, spied in an alcove by a window a little
table with tilted chairs.
"That one'll do," he said.
"I'm sorry, but it's engaged," apologized Mr. Hale.
"Forget it, Eddie--tell 'em they're late," said Ditmar, making his
way toward it.
The proprietor pulled out Janet's chair.
"Say," he remarked, "it's no wonder you get along in business."
"Well, this is cosy, isn't it?" - said Ditmar to Janet when they
were alone. He handed her the menu, and snapped his fingers for a
"Why didn't you tell me you were coming to this place?" she asked.
"I wanted to surprise you. Don't you like it?"
"Yes," she replied. "Only--"
"I wish you wouldn't look at me like that--here."
"All right. I'll try to be good until we get into the car again.
You watch me! I'll behave as if we'd been married ten years."
He snapped his fingers again, and the waitress hurried up to take
"Kingsbury's still dry, I guess," he said to the girl, who smiled
sympathetically, somewhat ruefully. When she had gone he began to
talk to Janet about the folly, in general, of prohibition, the fusel
oil distributed on the sly. "I'll bet I could go out and find half a
dozen rum shops within a mile of here!" he declared.
Janet did not doubt it. Ditmar's aplomb, his faculty of getting
what he wanted, had amused and distracted her. She was growing
calmer, able to scrutinize, at first covertly and then more boldly the
people at the other tables, only to discover that she and Ditmar were
not the objects of the universal curiosity she had feared. Once in a
while, indeed, she encountered and then avoided the glance of some
man, felt the admiration in it, was thrilled a little, and her sense
of exhilaration returned as she regained her poise. She must be nice
looking--more than that--in her new suit. On entering the tavern she
had taken off the tweed coat, which Ditmar had carried and laid on a
chair. This new and amazing adventure began to go to her head like
When luncheon was over they sat in a sunny corner of the porch
while Ditmar smoked his cigar. His digestion was good, his spirits
high, his love-making--on account of the public nature of the
place--surreptitious yet fervent. The glamour to which Janet had
yielded herself was on occasions slightly troubled by some new and
enigmatic element to be detected in his voice and glances suggestive
of intentions vaguely disquieting. At last she said:
"Oughtn't we to be going home?"
"Home!" he ridiculed the notion. "I'm going to take you to the
prettiest road you ever saw--around by French's Lower Falls. I only
wish it was summer."
"I must be home before dark," she told him. "You see, the family
don't know where I am. I haven't said anything to them about--about
"That's right," he said, after a moment's hesitation:
"I didn't think you would. There's plenty of time for that--after
things get settled a little--isn't there?"
She thought his look a little odd, but the impression passed as
they walked to the motor. He insisted now on her pinning the roses on
the tweed coat, and she humoured him. The winter sun had already
begun to drop, and with the levelling rays the bare hillsides, yellow
and brown in the higher light, were suffused with pink; little by
little, as the sun fell lower, imperceptible clouds whitened the blue
cambric of the sky, distant copses were stained lilac. And Janet, as
she gazed, wondered at a world that held at once so much beauty, so
much joy and sorrow,--such strange sorrow as began to invade her now,
not personal, but cosmic. At times it seemed almost to suffocate her;
she drew in deep breaths of air: it was the essence of all things--of
the man by her side, of herself, of the beauty so poignantly revealed
Gradually Ditmar became conscious of this detachment, this new
evidence of an extraordinary faculty of escaping him that seemed
unimpaired. Constantly he tried by leaning closer to her, by reaching
out his hand, to reassure himself that she was at least physically
present. And though she did not resent these tokens, submitting
passively, he grew perplexed and troubled; his optimistic atheism
concerning things unseen was actually shaken by the impression she
conveyed of beholding realities hidden from him. Shadows had begun to
gather in the forest, filmy mists to creep over the waters. He asked
if she were cold, and she shook her head and sighed as one coming out
of a trance, smiling at him.
"It's been a wonderful day!" she said.
"The greatest ever!" he agreed. And his ardour, mounting again,
swept away the unwonted mood of tenderness and awe she had inspired in
him, made him bold to suggest the plan which had been the subject of
an ecstatic contemplation.
"I'll tell you what we'll do," he said, "we'll take a little run
down to Boston and have dinner together. We'll be there in an hour,
and back by ten o'clock."
"To Boston!" she repeated. "Now?"
"Why not?" he said, stopping the car. "Here's the road--it's a
boulevard all the way."
It was not so much the proposal as the passion in his voice, in his
touch, the passion to which she felt herself responding that filled
her with apprehension and dismay, and yet aroused her pride and anger.
"I told you I had to be home," she said.
"I'll have you home by ten o'clock; I promise. We're going to be
married, Janet," he whispered.
"Oh, if you meant to marry me you wouldn't ask me to do this!" she
cried. "I want to go back to Hampton. If you won't take me, I'll
She had drawn away from him, and her hand was on the door. He
seized her arm.
"For God's sake, don't take it that way!" he cried, in genuine
alarm. "All I meant was--that we'd have a nice little dinner. I
couldn't bear to leave you, it'll be a whole week before we get
another day. Do you suppose I'd--I'd do anything to insult you,
With her fingers still tightened over the door-catch she turned and
looked at him.
"I don't know," she said slowly. "Sometimes I think you would.
Why shouldn't you? Why should you marry me? Why shouldn't you try
to do with me what you've done with other women? I don't know
anything about the world, about life. I'm nobody. Why shouldn't
"Because you're not like the other women--that's why. I love
you--won't you believe it?" He was beside himself with anxiety.
"Listen--I'll take you home if you want to go. You don't know how it
hurts me to have you think such things!"
"Well, then, take me home," she said. It was but gradually that
she became pacified. A struggle was going on within her between these
doubts of him he had stirred up again and other feelings aroused by
his pleadings. Night fell, and when they reached the Silliston road
the lights of Hampton shone below them in the darkness.
"You'd better let me out here," she said. "You can't drive me
He brought the car to a halt beside one of the small wooden
shelters built for the convenience of passengers.
"You forgive me--you understand, Janet?" he asked.
"Sometimes I don't know what to think," she said, and suddenly
clung to him. "I--I forgive you. I oughtn't to suspect such things,
but I'm like that. I'm horrid and I can't help it." She began to
unbutton the coat he had bought for her.
"Aren't you going to take it?" he said. "It's yours."
"And what do you suppose my family would say if I told them Mr.
Ditmar had given it to me?"
"Come on, I'll drive you home, I'll tell them I gave it to you,
that we're going to be married," he announced recklessly.
"Oh, no!" she exclaimed in consternation. "You couldn't. You said
so yourself--that you didn't want, any one to know, now. I'll get on
"And the roses?" he asked.
She pressed them to her face, and chose one. "I'll take this," she
said, laying the rest on the seat....
He waited until he saw her safely on the trolley car, and then
drove slowly homeward in a state of amazement. He had been on the
verge of announcing himself to the family in Fillmore Street as her
prospective husband! He tried to imagine what that household was
like; and again he found himself wondering why she had not consented
to his proposal. And the ever-recurring question presented itselfwas
he prepared to go that length? He didn't know. She was beyond him,
he had no clew to her, she was to him as mysterious as a symphony.
Certain strains of her moved him intensely--the rest was beyond his
grasp.... At supper, while his children talked and laughed
boisterously, he sat silent, restless, and in spite of their presence
the house seemed appallingly empty.
When Janet returned home she ran to her bedroom, and taking from
the wardrobe the tissue paper that had come with her new dress, and
which she had carefully folded, she wrapped the rose in it, and put it
away in the back of a drawer. Thus smothered, its fragrance stifled,
it seemed emblematic, somehow, of the clandestine nature of her
The weeks that immediately followed were strange ones. All the
elements of life that previously had been realities, trivial yet
fundamental, her work, her home, her intercourse with the family,
became fantastic. There was the mill to which she went every day: she
recognized it, yet it was not the same mill, nor was Fillmore Street
the Fillmore Street of old. Nor did the new and feverish existence
over whose borderland she had been transported seem real, save in
certain hours she spent in Ditmar's company, when he made her
forget--hers being a temperament to feel the weight of an unnatural
secrecy. She was aware, for instance, that her mother and even her
father thought her conduct odd, were anxious as to her absences on
certain nights and on Sundays. She offered no explanation. It was
impossible. She understood that the reason why they refrained from
questioning her was due to a faith in her integrity as well as to a
respect for her as a breadwinner who lead earned a right to
independence. And while her suspicion of Hannah's anxiety troubled
her, on the occasions when she thought of it, Lise's attitude
disturbed her even more. From Lise she had been prepared for
suspicion, arraignment, ridicule. What a vindication if it were
disclosed that she, Janet, had a lover--and that lover Ditmar! But
Lise said nothing. She was remote, self-absorbed. Hannah spoke about
it on the evenings Janet stayed at home.
She would not consent to meet Ditmar every evening. Yet, as the
days succeeded one another, Janet was often astonished by the fact
that their love remained apparently unsuspected by Mr. Price and
Caldwell and others in the office. They must have noticed, on some
occasions, the manner in which Ditmar looked at her; and in business
hours she had continually to caution him, to keep him in check.
Again, on the evening excursions to which she consented, though they
were careful to meet in unfrequented spots, someone might easily have
recognized him; and she did not like to ponder over the number of
young women in the other offices who knew her by sight. These
reflections weighed upon her, particularly when she seemed conscious
of curious glances. But what caused her the most concern was the
constantly recurring pressure to which Ditmar himself subjected her,
and which, as time went on, she found increasingly difficult to
resist. He tried to take her by storm, and when this method failed,
resorted to pleadings and supplications even harder to deny because of
the innate feminine pity she felt for him. To recount these affairs
would be a mere repetition of identical occurrences. On their second
Sunday excursion he had actually driven her, despite her opposition,
several miles on the Boston road; and her resistance only served to
inflame him the more. It seemed, afterwards, as she sat unnerved, a
miracle that she had stopped him. Then came reproaches: she would not
trust him; they could not be married at once; she must understand
that!--an argument so repugnant as to cause her to shake with sobs of
inarticulate anger. After this he would grow bewildered, then
repentant, then contrite. In contrition--had he known it--he was
nearest to victory.
As has been said, she did not intellectualize her reasons, but the
core of her resistance was the very essence of an individuality having
its roots in a self-respecting and self-controlling inheritance--an
element wanting in her sister Lise. It must have been largely the
thought of Lise, the spectacle of Lise--often perhaps unconsciously
present that dominated her conduct; yet reinforcing such an ancestral
sentiment was another, environmental and more complicated, the result
in our modern atmosphere of an undefined feminism apt to reveal itself
in many undesirable ways, but which in reality is a logical projection
of the American tradition of liberty. To submit was not only to lose
her liberty, to become a dependent, but also and inevitably, she
thought, to lose Ditmar's love....
No experience, however, is emotionally continuous, nor was their
intimacy by any means wholly on this plane of conflict. There were
hours when, Ditmar's passion leaving spent itself, they achieved
comradeship, in the office and out of it; revelations for Janet when
he talked of himself, relating the little incidents she found most
illuminating. And thus by degrees she was able to build up a new and
truer estimate of him. For example, she began to perceive that his
life outside of his interest in the mills, instead of being the
romance of privileged joys she had once imagined, had been almost as
empty as her own, without either unity or direction. Her perception
was none the less keen because definite terms were wanting for its
expression. The idea of him that first had captivated her was that of
an energized and focussed character controlling with a sure hand the
fortunes of a great organization; of a power in the city and state, of
a being who, in his leisure moments, dwelt in a delectable realm from
which she was excluded. She was still acutely conscious of his force,
but what she now felt was its lack of direction--save for the portion
that drove the Chippering Mills. The rest of it, like the river,
flowed away on the line of least resistance to the sea.
As was quite natural, this gradual discovery of what he was--or of
what he wasn't--this truer estimate, this partial disillusionment,
merely served to deepen and intensify the feeling he had aroused in
her; to heighten, likewise, the sense of her own value by confirming a
belief in her possession of certain qualities, of a kind of fibre he
needed in a helpmate. She dwelt with a woman's fascination upon the
prospect of exercising a creative influence--even while she
acknowledged the fearful possibility of his power in unguarded moments
to overwhelm and destroy her. Here was another incentive to resist
the gusts of his passion. She could guide and develop him by helping
and improving herself. Hope and ambition throbbed within her, she
felt a contempt for his wife, for the women who had been her
predecessors. He had not spoken of these, save once or twice by
implication, but with what may seem a surprising leniency she regarded
them as consequences of a life lacking in content. If only she could
keep her head, she might supply that content, and bring him happiness!
The thought of his children troubled her most, but she was quick to
perceive that he got nothing from them; and even though it were partly
his own fault, she was inclined to lay the heavier blame on the woman
who had been their mother. The triviality, the emptiness of his
existence outside of the walls of the mill made her heart beat with
pure pity. For she could understand it.
One of the many, and often humorous, incidents that served to bring
about this realization of a former aimlessness happened on their
second Sunday excursion. This time he had not chosen the Kingsbury
Tavern, but another automobilists' haunt, an enlightening indication
of established habits involving a wide choice of resorts. While he
was paying for luncheon and chatting with the proprietor, Ditmar
snatched from the change he had flung down on the counter a five
dollar gold coin.
"Now how in thunder did that get into my right-hand pocket? I
always keep it in my vest," he exclaimed; and the matter continued to
disturb him after they were in the automobile. "It's my lucky piece.
I guess I was so excited at the prospect of seeing you when I dressed
this morning I put it into my change. Just see what you do to me!"
"Does it bring you luck?" she inquired smilingly.
"How about you! I call you the biggest piece of luck I ever had."
"You'd better not be too sure," she warned him.
"Oh, I'm not worrying. I has that piece in my pocket the day I
went down to see old Stephen Chippering, when he made me agent, and
I've kept it ever since. And I'll tell you a funny thing--it's enough
to make any man believe in luck. Do you remember that day last summer
I was tinkering with the car by the canal and you came along?"
"The day you pretended to be tinkering," she corrected him.
He laughed. "So you were on to me?" he said. "You're a foxy one!"
"Anyone could see you were only pretending. It made me angry, when
I thought of it afterwards."
"I just had to do it--I wanted to talk to you. But listen to what
I'm going to tell you! It's a miracle, all right,--happening just at
that time--that very morning. I was coming back to Boston from New
York on the midnight, and when the train ran into Back Bay and I was
putting on my trousers the piece rolled out among the bed clothes. I
didn't know I'd lost it until I sat down in the Parker House to eat my
breakfast, and I suddenly felt in my pocket. It made me sick to think
it was gone. Well, I started to telephone the Pullman office, and then
I made up my mind I'd take a taxi and go down to the South Station
myself, and just as I got out of the cab there was the nigger porter,
all dressed up in his glad rags, coming out of the station! I knew
him, I'd been on his car lots of times. `Say, George,' I said, `I
didn't forget you this morning, did I?'
"`No, suh,' said George, 'you done give me a quarter.'
"`I guess you're mistaken, George,' says I, and I fished out a ten
dollar bill. You ought to have seen that nigger's eyes."
"`What's this for, Mister Ditmar?' says he.
"`For that lucky gold piece you found in lower seven,' I told him.
"`Was you in lower seven? --so you was!' says George. Well, he had
it all right--you bet he had it. Now wasn't that queer? The very day
you and I began to know each other!"
"Wonderful!" Janet agreed. "Why don't you put it on your watch
"Well, I've thought of that," he replied, with the air of having
considered all sides of the matter. "But I've got that charm of the
secret order I belong to--that's on my chain. I guess I'll keep it in
my vest pocket."
"I didn't know you were so superstitious," she mocked.
"Pretty nearly everybody's superstitious," he declared. And she
thought of Lise.
"I'm not. I believe if things are going to happen well, they're
going to happen. Nothing can prevent it."
"By thunder" he exclaimed, struck by her remark. "You are like
that You're different from any person I ever knew...."
From such anecdotes she pieced together her new Ditmar. He spoke
of a large world she had never seen, of New York and Washington and
Chicago, where he intended to take her. In the future he would never
travel alone. And he told her of his having been a delegate to the
last National Republican Convention, explaining what a delegate was.
He gloried in her innocence, and it was pleasant to dazzle her with
impressions of his cosmopolitanism. In this, perhaps, he was not
quite so successful as he imagined, but her eyes shone. She had never
even been in a sleeping car! For her delectation he launched into an
enthusiastic description of these vehicles, of palatial compartment
cars, of limited, transcontinental trains, where one had a
stenographer and a barber at one's disposal.
"Neither of them would do me any good," she complained.
"You could go to the manicure," he said.
There had been in Ditmar's life certain events which, in his
anecdotal moods, were magnified into matters of climacteric
importance; high, festal occasions on which it was sweet to reminisce,
such as his visit as Delegate at Large to that Chicago Convention. He
had travelled on a special train stocked with cigars and White Seal
champagne, in the company of senators and congressmen and
ex-governors, state treasurers, collectors of the port, mill owners,
and bankers to whom he referred, as the French say, in terms of their
"little" names. He dwelt on the magnificence of the huge hotel set on
the borders of a lake like an inland sea, and related such portions of
the festivities incidental to "the seeing of Chicago" as would bear
repetition. No women belonged to this realm; no women, at least, who
were to be regarded as persons. Ditmar did not mention them, but no
doubt they existed, along with the cigars and the White Seal
champagne, contributing to the amenities. And the excursion, to
Janet, took on the complexion of a sort of glorified picnic in the
course of which, incidentally, a President of the United States had
been chosen. In her innocence she had believed the voters to perform
this function. Ditmar laughed.
"Do you suppose we're going to let the mob run this country?" he
inquired. "Once in a while we can't get away with it as we'd like, we
have to take the best we can."
Thus was brought home to her more and more clearly that what men
strove and fought for were the joys of prominence, privilege, and
power. Everywhere, in the great world, they demanded and received
consideration. It was Ditmar's boast that if nobody else could get a
room in a crowded New York hotel, he could always obtain one. And she
was fain to concede- -she who had never known privilege--a certain
intoxicating quality to this eminence. If you could get the power,
and refused to take it, the more fool you! A topsy-turvy world, in
which the stupid toiled day by day, week by week, exhausting their
energies and craving joy, while others adroitly carried off the prize;
and virtue had apparently as little to do with the matter as fair hair
or a club foot. If Janet had ever read Darwin, she would have
recognized in her lover a creature rather wonderfully adapted to his
environment; and what puzzled her, perhaps, was the riddle that
presents itself to many better informed than herself--the utter
absence in this environment of the sign of any being who might be
called God. Her perplexities--for she did have them--took the form of
an instinctive sense of inadequacy, of persistently recurring though
inarticulate convictions of the existence of elements not included in
Ditmar's categories--of things that money could not buy; of things,
too, alas! that poverty was as powerless to grasp. Stored within her,
sometimes rising to the level of consciousness, was that experience at
Silliston in the May weather when she had had a glimpse--just a
glimpse! of a garden where strange and precious flowers were in bloom.
On the other hand, this mysterious perception by her of things unseen
and hitherto unguessed, of rays of delight in the spectrum of values
to which his senses were unattuned, was for Ditmar the supreme essence
of her fascination. At moments he was at once bewildered and
inebriated by the rare delicacy of fabric of the woman whom he had
somehow stumbled upon and possessed.
Then there were the hours when they worked together in the office.
Here she beheld Ditmar at his best. It cannot be said that his
infatuation for her was ever absent from his consciousness: he knew
she was there beside him, he betrayed it continually. But here she
was in the presence of what had been and what remained his ideal, the
Chippering Mill; here he acquired unity. All his energies were bent
toward the successful execution of the Bradlaugh order, which had to
be completed on the first of February. And as day after day went by
her realization of the magnitude of the task he had undertaken became
keener. Excitement was in the air. Ditmar seemed somehow to have
managed to infuse not only Orcutt, the superintendent, but the foremen
and second hands and even the workers with a common spirit of pride
and loyalty, of interest, of determination to carry off this matter
triumphantly. The mill seemed fairly to hum with effort. Janet's
increasing knowledge of its organization and processes only served to
heighten her admiration for the confidence Ditmar had shown from the
beginning. It was superb. And now, as the probability of the
successful execution of the task tended more and more toward
certainty, he sometimes gave vent to his boyish, exuberant spirits.
"I told Holster, I told all those croakers I'd do it, and by
thunder I will do it, with three days' margin, too! I'll get the last
shipment off on the twenty-eighth of January. Why, even George
Chippering was afraid I couldn't handle it. If the old man was alive
he wouldn't have had cold feet." Then Ditmar added, half jocularly,
half seriously, looking down on her as she sat with her note-book,
waiting for him to go on with his dictation: "I guess you've had your
share in it, too. You've been a wonder, the way you've caught on and
taken things off my shoulders. If Orcutt died I believe you could
step right into his shoes."
"I'm sure I could step into his shoes," she replied. "Only I hope
he won't die."
"I hope he won't, either," said Ditmar. "And as for you--"
"Never mind me, now," she said.
He bent over her.
"Janet, you're the greatest girl in the world."
Yes, she was happiest when she felt she was helping him, it gave
her confidence that she could do more, lead him into paths beyond
which they might explore together. She was useful. Sometimes,
however, he seemed to her oversanguine; though he had worked hard, his
success had come too easily, had been too uniform. His temper was
quick, the prospect of opposition often made him overbearing, yet on
occasions he listened with surprising patience to his subordinates
when they ventured to differ from his opinions. At other times Janet
had seen him overrule them ruthlessly; humiliate them. There were
days when things went wrong, when there were delays, complications,
more matters to attend to than usual. On one such day, after the
dinner hour, Mr. Orcutt entered the office. His long, lean face wore a
certain expression Janet had come to know, an expression that always
irritated Ditmar--the conscientious superintendent having the
unfortunate faculty of exaggerating annoyances by his very bearing.
Ditmar stopped in the midst of dictating a peculiarly difficult
letter, and looked up sharply.
"Well," he asked, "what's the trouble now?"
Orcutt seemed incapable of reading storm signals. When anything
happened, he had the air of declaring, "I told you so."
"You may remember I spoke to you once or twice, Mr. Ditmar, of the
talk over the fifty-four hour law that goes into effect in January."
"Yes, what of it?" Ditmar cut in. "The notices have been posted,
as the law requires."
"The hands have been grumbling, there are trouble makers among
them. A delegation came to me this noon and wanted to know whether we
intended to cut the pay to correspond to the shorter working hours."
"Of course it's going to be cut," said Ditmar. "What do they
suppose? That we're going to pay 'em for work they don't do? The
hands not paid by the piece are paid practically by the hour, not by
the day. And there's got to be some limit to this thing. If these
damned demagogues in the legislature keep on cutting down the hours of
women and children every three years or so--and we can't run the mill
without the women and children--we might as well shut down right now.
Three years ago, when they made it fifty-six hours, we were fools to
keep up the pay. I said so then, at the conference, but they wouldn't
listen to me. They listened this time. Holster and one or two others
croaked, but we shut 'em up. No, they won't get any more pay, not a
Orcutt had listened patiently, lugubriously.
"I told them that."
"What did they say?"
"They said they thought there'd be a strike."
"Pooh! Strike!" exclaimed Ditmar with contemptuous violence. "Do
you believe that? You're always borrowing trouble, you are. They may
have a strike at one mill, the Clarendon. I hope they do, I hope
Holster gets it in the neck--he don't know how to run a mill anyway.
We won't have any strike, our people understand when they're well
off, they've got all the work they can do, they're sending fortunes
back to the old country or piling them up in the banks. It's all
"There was a meeting of the English branch of the I. W. W. last
night. A committee was appointed," said Orcutt, who as usual took a
gloomy satisfaction in the prospect of disaster.
"The I. W. W.! My God, Orcutt, don't you know enough not to come
in here wasting my time talking about the I. W. W.? Those anarchists
haven't got any organization. Can't you get that through your head?"
"All right," replied Orcutt, and marched off. Janet felt rather
sorry for him, though she had to admit that his manner was
exasperating. But Ditmar's anger, instead of cooling, increased: it
all seemed directed against the unfortunate superintendent.
"Would you believe that a man who's been in this mill twenty-five
years could be such a fool?" he demanded. "The I. W. W.! Why not the
Ku Klux? He must think I haven't anything to do but chin. I don't
know why I keep him here, sometimes I think he'll drive me crazy."
His eyes seemed to have grown small and red, as was always the case
when his temper got the better of him. Janet did not reply, but sat
with her pencil poised over her book.
"Let's see, where was I?" he asked. "I can't finish that letter
now. Go out and do the others."
Mundane experience, like a badly mixed cake, has a tendency to run
in streaks, and on the day following the incident related above
Janet's heart was heavy. Ditmar betrayed an increased shortness of
temper and preoccupation; and the consciousness that her love had lent
her a clairvoyant power to trace the source of his humours though
these were often hidden from or unacknowledged by himself--was in this
instance small consolation. She saw clearly enough that the
apprehensions expressed by Mr. Orcutt, whom he had since denounced as
an idiotic old woman, had made an impression, aroused in him the
ever-abiding concern for the mill which was his life's passion and
which had been but temporarily displaced by his infatuation with her.
That other passion was paramount. What was she beside it? Would he
hesitate for a moment to sacrifice her if it came to a choice between
them? The tempestuousness of these thoughts, when they took
possession of her, hinting as they did of possibilities in her nature
hitherto unguessed and unrevealed, astonished and frightened her; she
sought to thrust them away, to reassure herself that his concern for
the successful delivery of the Bradlaugh order was natural. During
the morning, in the intervals between interviews with the
superintendents, he was self-absorbed, and she found herself
inconsistently resenting the absence of those expressions of
endearment--the glances and stolen caresses--for indulgence in which
she had hitherto rebuked him: and though pride came to her rescue,
fuel was added to her feeling by the fact that he did not seem to
notice her coolness. Since he failed to appear after lunch, she knew
he must be investigating the suspicions Orcutt had voiced; but at six
o'clock, when he had not returned, she closed up her desk and left the
office. An odour of cheap perfume pervading the corridor made her
aware of the presence of Miss Lottie Myers.
"Oh, it's you!" said that young woman, looking up from the landing
of the stairs. "I might have known it you never make a get-away until
after six, do you?"
"Oh, sometimes," said Janet.
"I stayed as a special favour to-night," Miss Myers declared. "But
I'm not so stuck on my job that I can't tear myself away from it."
"I don't suppose you are," said Janet.
For a moment Miss Myers looked as if she was about to be still more
impudent, but her eye met Janet's, and wavered. They crossed the
bridge in silence. "Well, ta-ta," she said. "If you like it, it's up
to you. Five o'clock for mine,"--and walked away, up the canal,
swinging her hips defiantly. And Janet, gazing after her, grew hot
with indignation and apprehension. Her relations with Ditmar were
suspected, after all, made the subject of the kind of comment indulged
in, sotto voce, by Lottie Myers and her friends at the luncheon hour.
She felt a mad, primitive desire to run after the girl, to spring
upon and strangle her and compel her to speak what was in her mind and
then retract it; and the motor impulse, inhibited, caused a sensation
of sickness, of unhappiness and degradation as she turned her steps
slowly homeward. Was it a misinterpretation, after all--what Lottie
Myers had implied and feared to say?...
In Fillnore Street supper was over, and Lise, her face contorted,
her body strained, was standing in front of the bureau "doing" her
hair, her glance now seeking the mirror, now falling again to consult
a model in one of those periodicals of froth and fashion that cause
such numberless heart burnings in every quarter of our democracy, and
which are filled with photographs of "prominent" persons at race
meetings, horse shows, and resorts, and with actresses, dancers,--and
mannequins. Janet's eyes fell on the open page to perceive that the
coiffure her sister so painfully imitated was worn by a young woman
with an insolent, vapid face and hard eyes, whose knees were crossed,
revealing considerably more than an ankle. The picture was labelled,
"A dance at Palm Beach--A flashlight of Mrs. 'Trudy'
Gascoigne-Schell,"--one of those mysterious, hybrid names which, in
connection with the thoughts of New York and the visible rakish image
of the lady herself, cause involuntary shudders down the spine of the
reflecting American provincial. Some such responsive quiver, akin to
disgust, Janet herself experienced.
"It's the very last scream," Lise was saying. "And say, if I owned
a ball dress like that I'd be somebody's Lulu all right! Can I have
the pleasure of the next maxixe, Miss Bumpus?" With deft and rapid
fingers she lead parted her hair far on the right side and pulled it
down over the left eyebrow, twisted it over her ear and tightly around
her head, inserting here and there a hairpin, seizing the hand mirror
with the cracked back, and holding it up behind her. Finally, when
the operation was finished to
her satisfaction she exclaimed, evidently to the paragon in the
picture, "I get you!" Whereupon, from the wardrobe, she produced a
hat. "You sure had my number when you guessed the feathers on that
other would get draggled," she observed in high good humour,
generously ignoring their former unpleasantness on the subject. When
she had pinned it on she bent mockingly over her sister, who sat on
the bed. "How d'you like my new toque? Peekaboo! That's the way the
guys rubberneck to see if you're good lookin'."
Lise was exalted, feverish, apparently possessed by some high
secret; her eyes shone, and when she crossed the room she whistled
bars of ragtime and executed mincing steps of the maxixe. Fumbling in
the upper drawer for a pair of white gloves (also new), she knocked
off the corner of the bureau her velvet bag; it opened as it struck
the floor, and out of it rolled a lilac vanity case and a yellow coin.
Casting a suspicious, lightning glance at Janet, she snatched up the
vanity case and covered the coin with her foot.
"Lock the doors!" she cried, with an hysteric giggle. Then
removing her foot she picked up the coin surreptitiously. To her
amazement her sister made no comment, did not seem to have taken in
the significance of the episode. Lise had expected a tempest of
indignant, searching questions, a "third degree," as she would have
put it. She snapped the bag together, drew on her gloves, and, when
she was ready to leave, with characteristic audacity crossed the room,
taking her sister's face between her hands and kissing her.
"Tell me your troubles, sweetheart!" she said--and did not wait to
Janet was incapable of speech--nor could she have brought herself
to ask Lise whether or not the money had been earned at the Bagatelle,
and remained miraculously unspent. It was possible, but highly
incredible. And then, the vanity case and the new hat were to be
accounted for! The sight of the gold piece, indeed, had suddenly
revived in Janet the queer feeling of faintness, almost of nausea she
had experienced after parting with Lottie Myers. And by some untoward
association she was reminded of a conversation she had had with Ditmar
on the Saturday afternoon following their first Sunday excursion,
when, on opening her pay envelope, she had found twenty dollars.
"Are you sure I'm worth it?" she had demanded--and he had been
quite sure. He had added that she was worth more, much more, but that
he could not give her as yet, without the risk of comment, a sum
commensurate with the value of her services.... But now she asked
herself again, was she worth it? or was it merely--part of her price?
Going to the wardrobe and opening a drawer at the bottom she searched
among her clothes until she discovered the piece of tissue paper in
which she had wrapped the rose rescued from the cluster he had given
her. The petals were dry, yet they gave forth, still, a faint,
reminiscent fragrance as she pressed them to her face. Janet wept....
The following morning as she was kneeling in a corner of the room
by the letter files, one of which she had placed on the floor, she
recognized his step in the outer office, heard him pause to joke with
young Caldwell, and needed not the visual proof--when after a moment
he halted on the threshold--of the fact that his usual, buoyant
spirits were restored. He held a cigar in his hand, and in his eyes
was the eager look with which she had become familiar, which indeed
she had learned to anticipate as they swept the room in search of her.
And when they fell on her he closed the door and came forward
impetuously. But her exclamation caused him to halt in bewilderment.
"Don't touch me!" she said.
And he stammered out, as he stood over her:--
"What's the matter?"
"Everything. You don't love me--I was a fool to believe you did."
"Don't love you!" he repeated. "My God, what's the trouble now?
What have I done?"
"Oh, it's nothing you've done, it's what you haven't done, it's
what you can't do. You don't really care for me--all you care for is
this mill-- when anything happens here you don't know I'm alive."
He stared at her, and then an expression of comprehension, of
intense desire grew in his eyes; and his laugh, as he flung his cigar
out of the open window and bent down to seize her, was almost brutal.
She fought him, she tried to hurt him, and suddenly, convulsively
pressed herself to him.
"You little tigress!" he said, as he held her. "You were
jealous--were you--jealous of the mill?" And he laughed again. "I'd
like to see you with something really to be jealous about. So you
love me like that, do you?"
She could feel his heart beating against her.
"I won't be neglected," she told him tensely. "I want all of
you--if I can't have all of you, I don't want any. Do you
"Do I understand? Well, I guess I do."
"You didn't yesterday," she reproached him, somewhat dazed by the
swiftness of her submission, and feeling still the traces of a
lingering resentment. She had not intended to surrender. "You forgot
all about me, you didn't know I was here, much less that I was hurt.
Oh, I was hurt! And you--I can tell at once when anything's wrong
with you--I know without your saying it."
He was amazed, he might indeed have been troubled and even alarmed
by this passion he had aroused had his own passion not been at the
flood. And as he wiped away her tears with his handkerchief he could
scarcely believe his senses that this was the woman whose resistance
had demanded all his force to overcome. Indeed, although he
recognized the symptoms she betrayed as feminine, as having been
registered--though feebly compared to this! by incidents in his past,
precisely his difficulty seemed to be in identifying this complex and
galvanic being as a woman, not as something almost fearful in her
significance, outside the bounds of experience....
Presently she ceased to tremble, and he drew her to the window.
The day was as mild as autumn, the winter sun like honey in its
mellowness; a soft haze blurred the outline of the upper bridge.
"Only two more days until Sunday," he whispered, caressingly,
It had been a strange year in Hampton, unfortunate for coal
merchants, welcome to the poor. But Sunday lacked the transforming
touch of sunshine. The weather was damp and cold as Janet set out
from Fillmore Street. Ditmar, she knew, would be waiting for her, he
counted on her, and she could not bear to disappoint him, to
disappoint herself. And all the doubts and fears that from time to
time had assailed her were banished by this impulse to go to him, to
be with him. He loved her! The words, as she sat in the trolley car,
ran in her head like the lilt of a song. What did the weather matter?
When she alighted at the lonely cross-roads snow had already begun
to fall. But she spied the automobile, with its top raised, some
distance down the lane, and in a moment she was in it, beside him,
wrapped in the coat she had now come to regard as her own. He
buttoned down the curtains and took her in his arms.
"What shall we do to-day," she asked, "if it snows?"
"Don't let that worry you, sweetheart," he said. "I have the
chains on, I can get through anything in this car."
He was in high, almost turbulent spirits as he turned the car and
drove it out of the rutty lane into the state road. The snow grew
thicker and thicker still, the world was blotted out by swiftly
whirling, feathery flakes that melted on the windshield, and through
the wet glass Janet caught distorted glimpses of black pines and
cedars beside the highway.
The ground was spread with fleece. Occasionally, and with
startling suddenness, other automobiles shot like dark phantoms out of
the whiteness, and like phantoms disappeared. Presently, through the
veil, she recognized Silliston--a very different Silliston from that
she had visited on the fragrant day in springtime, when the green on
the common had been embroidered with dandelions, and the great elms
whose bare branches were now fantastically traced against the flowing
veil of white- -heavy with leaf. Vignettes emerged--only to fade!--of
the old-world houses whose quaint beauty had fascinated and moved her.
And she found herself wondering what had become of the strange man
she had mistaken for a carpenter. All that seemed to have taken place
in a past life. She asked Ditmar where he was going.
"Boston," he told her. "There's no other place to go."
"But you'll never get back if it goes on snowing like this."
"Well, the trains are still running," he assured her, with a
quizzical smile. "How about it, little girl?" It was a term of
endearment derived, undoubtedly, from a theatrical source, in which he
She did not answer. Surprisingly, to-day, she did not care. All
she could think of, all she wanted was to go on and on beside him with
the world shut out--on and on forever. She was his--what did it
matter? They were on their way to Boston! She began, dreamily, to
think about Boston, to try to restore it in her imagination to the
exalted place it had held before she met Ditmar; to reconstruct it
from vague memories of childhood when, in two of the family
peregrinations, she had crossed it. Traces remained of
emotionally-toned impressions acquired when she had walked about the
city holding Edward's hand--of a long row of stately houses with
forbidding fronts, set on a hillside, of a wide, tree-covered space
where children were playing. And her childish verdict, persisting
to-day, was one of inaccessibility, impenetrability, of jealously
guarded wealth and beauty. Those houses, and the treasures she was
convinced they must contain, were not for her! Some of the panes of
glass in their windows were purple--she remembered a little thing like
that, and asking her father the reason! He hadn't known. This purple
quality had somehow steeped itself into her memory of Boston, and even
now the colour stood for the word, impenetrable. That was
extraordinary. Even now! Well, they were going to Boston; if Ditmar
had said they were going to Bagdad it would have been quite as
credible--and incredible. Wherever they were going, it was into the
larger, larger life, and walls were to crumble before them, walls
through which they would pass, even as they rent the white veil of the
storm, into regions of beauty....
And now the world seemed abandoned to them alone, so empty, so
still were the white villages flitting by; so empty, so still the
great parkway of the Fells stretching away and away like an enchanted
forest under the snow, like the domain of some sleeping king. And the
flakes melted silently into the black waters. And the wide avenue to
which they came led to a sleeping palace! No, it was a city,
Somerville, Ditmar told her, as they twisted in and out of streets,
past stores, churches and fire-engine houses, breasted the heights,
descended steeply on the far side into Cambridge, and crossed the long
bridge over the Charles. And here at last was Boston--Beacon Street,
the heart or funnel of it, as one chose. Ditmar, removing one of the
side curtains that she might see, with just a hint in his voice of a
reverence she was too excited to notice, pointed out the stern and
respectable facades of the twin Chippering mansions standing side by
side. Save for these shrines--for such in some sort they were to
him--the Back Bay in his eyes was nothing more than a collection of
houses inhabited by people whom money and social position made
unassailable. But to-day he, too, was excited. Never had he been more
keenly aware of her sensitiveness to experience; and he to whom it had
not occurred to wonder at Boston wondered at her, who seemed able to
summon forth a presiding, brooding spirit of the place from out of the
snow. Deep in her eyes, though they sparkled, was the reflection of
some mystic vision; her cheeks were flushed. And in her delight,
vicariously his own, he rejoiced; in his trembling hope of more
delight to come, which this mentorship would enhance,--despite the
fast deepening snow he drove her up one side of Commonwealth Avenue
and down the other, encircling the Common and the Public Garden;
stopping at the top of Park Street that she might gaze up at the State
House, whose golden dome, seen through the veil, was tinged with blue.
Boston! Why not Russia? Janet was speechless for sheer lack of
words to describe what she felt....
At length he brought the car to a halt opposite an imposing doorway
in front of which a glass roof extended over the pavement, and Janet
demanded where they were.
"Well, we've got to eat, haven't we?" Ditmar replied. She noticed
that he was shivering.
"Are you cold?" she inquired with concern.
"I guess I am, a little," he replied. "I don't know why I should
be, in a fur coat. But I'll be warm soon enough, now."
A man in blue livery hurried toward them across the sidewalk,
helping them to alight. And Ditmar, after driving the car a few paces
beyond the entrance, led her through the revolving doors into a long
corridor, paved with marble and lighted by bulbs glowing from the
ceiling, where benches were set against the wall, overspread by the
leaves of potted plants set in the intervals between them.
"Sit down a moment," he said to her. "I must telephone to have
somebody take that car, or it'll stay there the rest of the winter."
She sat down on one of the benches. The soft light, the warmth,
the exotic odour of the plants, the well-dressed people who trod
softly the strip of carpet set on the marble with the air of being at
home--all contributed to an excitement, intense yet benumbing. She
could not think. She didn't want to think--only to feel, to enjoy, to
wring the utmost flavour of enchantment from these new surroundings;
and her face wore the expression of one in a dream. Presently she saw
Ditmar returning followed by a boy in a blue uniform.
"All right," he said. At the end of the corridor was an elevator
in which they were shot to one of the upper floors; and the boy,
inserting a key in a heavy mahogany door, revealed a sitting-room.
Between its windows was a table covered with a long, white cloth
reaching to the floor, on which, amidst the silverware and glass, was
set a tall vase filled with dusky roses. Janet, drawing in a deep
breath of their fragrance, glanced around the room. The hangings, the
wall-paper, the carpet, the velvet upholstery of the mahogany chairs,
of the wide lounge in the corner were of a deep and restful green; the
marble mantelpiece, with its English coal grate, was copied--had she
known it--from a mansion of the Georgian period. The hands of a
delicate Georgian clock pointed to one. And in the large mirror
behind the clock she beheld an image she supposed, dreamily, to be
herself. The bell boy was taking off her coat, which he hung, with
Ditmar's, on a rack in a corner.
"Shall I light the fire, sir?" he asked.
"Sure," said Ditmar. "And tell them to hurry up with lunch."
The boy withdrew, closing the door silently behind him.
"We're going to have lunch here!" Janet exclaimed.
"Why not? I thought it would be nicer than a public dining-room,
and when I got up this morning and saw what the weather was I
telephoned." He placed two chairs before the fire, which had begun to
blaze. "Isn't it cosy?" he said, taking her hands and pulling her
toward him. His own hands trembled, the tips of his fingers were
"You are cold!" she said.
"Not now--not now," he replied. The queer vibrations were in his
voice that she had heard before. "Sweetheart! This is the best yet,
isn't it? And after that trip in the storm!"
"It's beautiful!" she murmured, gently drawing away from him and
looking around her once more. "I never was in a room like this."
"Well, you'll be in plenty more of them," he exulted. "Sit down
beside the fire, and get warm yourself."
She obeyed, and he took the chair at her side, his eyes on her
face. As usual, she was beyond him; and despite her exclamations of
surprise, of appreciation and pleasure she maintained the outward
poise, the inscrutability that summed up for him her uniqueness in the
world of woman. She sat as easily upright in the delicate Chippendale
chair as though she had been born to it. He made wild surmises as to
what she might be thinking. Was she, as she seemed, taking all this
as a matter of course? She imposed on him an impelling necessity to
speak, to say anything--it did not matter what--and he began to dwell
on the excellences of the hotel. She did not appear to hear him, her
eyes lingering on the room, until presently she asked:--
"What's the name of this hotel?"
He told her.
"I thought they only allowed married people to come, like this, in
a private room."
"Oh!" he began--and the sudden perception that she had made this
statement impartially added to his perplexity. "Well," he was able to
answer, "we're as good as married, aren't we, Janet?" He leaned
toward her, he put his hand on hers. "The manager here is an old
friend of mine. He knows we're as good as married."
"Another old friend!" she queried. And the touch of humour, in
spite of his taut nerves, delighted him.
"Yes, yes," he laughed, rather uproariously. "I've got 'em
everywhere, as thick as landmarks."
"You seem to," she said.
"I hope you're hungry," he said.
"Not very," she replied. "It's all so strange--this day, Claude.
It's like a fairy story, coming here to Boston in the snow, and this
place, and--and being with you."
"You still love me?" he cried, getting up.
"You must know that I do," she answered simply, raising her face to
his. And he stood gazing down into it, with an odd expression she had
never seen before...."What's the matter?" she asked.
"Nothing--nothing," he assured her, but continued to look at her.
"You're so--so wonderful," he whispered, "I just can't believe it."
"And if it's hard for you," she answered, "think what it must be
for me!" And she smiled up at him.
Ditmar had known a moment of awe.... Suddenly he took her face
between his hands and pressed his rough cheek against it, blindly.
His hands trembled, his body was shaken, as by a spasm.
"Why, you're still cold, Claude!" she cried anxiously.
And he stammered out: "I'm not--it's you--it's having you!"
Before she could reply to this strange exclamation, to which,
nevertheless, some fire in her leaped in response, there came a knock
at the door, and he drew away from her as he answered it. Two waiters
entered obsequiously, one bearing a serving table, the other holding
above his head a large tray containing covered dishes and glasses.
"I could do with a cocktail!" Ditmar exclaimed, and the waiter
smiled as he served them. "Here's how!" he said, giving her a glass
containing a yellow liquid.
She tasted it, made a grimace, and set it down hastily.
"What's the trouble?" he asked, laughing, as she hurried to the
table and took a drink of water.
"It's horrid!" she cried.
"Oh, you'll get over that idea," he told her. "You'll be crazy
"I never want to taste another," she declared.
He laughed again. He had taken his at a swallow, but almost
nullifying its effect was this confirmation--if indeed he had needed
it--of the extent of her inexperience. She was, in truth, untouched
by the world-- the world in which he had lived. He pulled out her
chair for her and she sat down, confronted by a series of knives,
forks, and spoons on either side of a plate of oysters. Oysters
served in this fashion, needless to say, had never formed part of the
menu in Fillmore Street, or in any Hampton restaurant where she had
lunched. But she saw that Ditmar had chosen a little fork with three
prongs, and she followed his example.
"You mustn't tell me you don't like Cotuits!" he exclaimed.
She touched one, delicately, with her fork.
"They're alive!" she exclaimed, though the custom of consuming them
thus was by no means unknown to her. Lise had often boasted of a
taste for oysters on the shell, though really preferring them
smothered with red catsup in a "cocktail."
"They're alive, but they don't know it. They won't eat you,"
Ditmar replied gleefully. "Squeeze a little lemon on one." Another
sort of woman, he reflected, would have feigned a familiarity with the
She obeyed him, put one in her mouth, gave a little shiver, and
swallowed it quickly.
"Well?" he said. "It isn't bad, is it?"
"It seems so queer to eat anything alive, and enjoy it," she said,
as she ate the rest of them.
"If you think they're good here you ought to taste them on the
Cape, right out of the water," he declared, and went on to relate how
he had once eaten a fabulous number in a contest with a friend of his,
and won a bet. He was fond of talking about wagers he had won.
Betting had lent a zest to his life. "We'll roll down there together
some day next summer, little girl. It's a great place. You can go in
swimming three times a day and never feel it. And talk about eating
oysters, you can't swallow 'em as fast as a fellow I know down there,
Joe Pusey, can open 'em. It's some trick to open 'em."
He described the process, but she--scarcely listened. She was
striving to adjust herself to the elements of a new and revolutionary
experience; to the waiters who came and went, softly, deferentially
putting hot plates before her, helping her to strange and delicious
things; a creamy soup, a fish with a yellow sauce whose ingredients
were artfully disguised, a breast of guinea fowl, a salad, an ice, and
a small cup of coffee. Instincts and tastes hitherto unsuspected and
ungratified were aroused in her. What would it be like always to be
daintily served, to eat one's meals in this leisurely and luxurious
manner? As her physical hunger was satisfied by the dainty food, even
as her starved senses drank in the caressing warmth and harmony of the
room, the gleaming fire, the heavy scent of the flowers, the rose glow
of the lights in contrast to the storm without,--so the storm flinging
itself against the windows, powerless to reach her, seemed to typify a
former existence of cold, black mornings and factory bells and harsh
sirens, of toil and limitations. Had her existence been like that?
or was it a dream, a nightmare from which she had awakened at last?
From time to time, deep within her, she felt persisting a conviction
that that was reality, this illusion, but she fought it down. She
wanted--oh, how she wanted to believe in the illusion!
Facing her was the agent, the genius, the Man who had snatched her
from that existence, who had at his command these delights to bestow.
She loved him, she belonged to him, he was to be her husband--yet
there were moments when the glamour of this oddly tended to dissolve,
when an objective vision intruded and she beheld herself, as though
removed from the body, lunching with a strange man in a strange place.
And once it crossed her mind--what would she think of another woman
who did this? What would she think if it were Lise? She could not
then achieve a sense of identity; it was as though she had partaken of
some philtre lulling her, inhibiting her power to grasp the fact in
its enormity. And little by little grew on her the realization of
what all along she had known, that the spell of these surroundings to
which she had surrendered was an expression of the man himself. He
was the source of it. More and more, as he talked, his eyes troubled
and stirred her; the touch of his hand, as he reached across the table
and laid it on hers, burned her. When the waiters had left them alone
she could stand the strain no longer, and she rose and strayed about
the room, examining the furniture, the curtains, the crystal pendants,
faintly pink, that softened and diffused the light; and she paused
before the grand piano in the corner.
"I'd like to be able to play!" she said.
"You can learn," he told her.
"I'm too old!"
He laughed. And as he sat smoking his eyes followed her
Above the sofa hung a large print of the Circus Maximus, with
crowded tiers mounting toward the sky, and awninged boxes where sat
the Vestal Virgins and the Emperor high above a motley, serried group
on the sand. At the mouth of a tunnel a lion stood motionless,
menacing, regarding them. The picture fascinated Janet.
"It's meant to be Rome, isn't it?" she asked.
"What? That? I guess so." He got up and came over to her.
"Sure," he said. "I'm not very strong on history, but I read a book
once, a novel, which told how those old fellows used to like to see
Christians thrown to the lions just as we like to see football games.
I'll get the book again--we'll read it together."
Janet shivered.... "Here's another picture," he said, turning to
the other side of the room. It was, apparently, an engraved copy of a
modern portrait, of a woman in evening dress with shapely arms and
throat and a small, aristocratic head. Around her neck was hung a
heavy rope of pearls.
"Isn't she beautiful!" Janet sighed.
"Beautiful!" He led her to the mirror. "Look!" he said. "I'll
buy you pearls, Janet, I want to see them gleaming against your skin.
She can't compare to you. I'll--I'll drape you with pearls."
"No, no," she cried. "I don't want them, Claude. I don't want
them. Please!" She scarcely knew what she was saying. And as she
drew away from him her hands went out, were pressed together with an
imploring, supplicating gesture. He seized them. His nearness was
suffocating her, she flung herself into his arms, and their lips met
in a long, swooning kiss. She began instinctively but vainly to
struggle, not against him-- but against a primal thing stronger than
herself, stronger than he, stronger than codes and conventions and
institutions, which yet she craved fiercely as her being's fulfilment.
It was sweeping them dizzily --whither? The sheer sweetness and
terror of it!
"Don't, don't!" she murmured desperately. "You mustn't!"
"Janet--we're going to be married, sweetheart,--just as soon as we
can. Won't you trust me? For God's sake, don't be cruel. You're my
His voice seemed to come from a great distance. And from a great
distance, too, her own in reply, drowned as by falling waters.
"Do you love me? --will you love me always--always?"
And he answered hoarsely, "Yes--always--I swear it, Janet." He had
found her lips again, he was pulling her toward a door on the far side
of the room, and suddenly, as he opened it, her resistance ceased....
The snow made automobiling impossible, and at half past nine that
evening Ditmar had escorted Janet to the station in a cab, and she had
taken the train for Hampton. For a while she sat as in a trance. She
knew that something had happened, something portentous, cataclysmic,
which had irrevocably changed her from the Janet Bumpus who had left
Hampton that same morning--an age ago. But she was unable to realize
the metamorphosis. In the course of a single day she had lived a
lifetime, exhausted the range of human experience, until now she was
powerless to feel any more. The car was filled with all sorts and
conditions of people returning to homes scattered through the suburbs
and smaller cities north of Boston--a mixed, Sunday-night crowd; and
presently she began, in a detached way, to observe them. Their
aspects, their speech and manners had the queer effect of penetrating
her consciousness without arousing the emotional judgments of approval
or disapproval which normally should have followed. Ordinarily she
might have felt a certain sympathy for the fragile young man on the
seat beside her who sat moodily staring through his glasses at the
floor: and the group across the aisle would surely have moved her to
disgust. Two couples were seated vis-a- vis, the men apparently
making fun of a "pony" coat one of the girls was wearing. In spite of
her shrieks, which drew general attention, they pulled it from her
back--an operation regarded by the conductor himself with tolerant
amusement. Whereupon her companion, a big, blond Teuton with an inane
guffaw, boldly thrust an arm about her waist and held her while he
presented the tickets. Janet beheld all this as one sees dancers
through a glass, without hearing the music.
Behind her two men fell into conversation.
"I guess there's well over a foot of snow. I thought we'd have an
open winter, too."
"Look out for them when they start in mild!"
"I was afraid this darned road would be tied up if I waited until
morning. I'm in real estate, and there's a deal on in my town I've
got to watch every minute...."
Even the talk between two slouch-hatted millhands, foreigners,
failed at the time to strike Janet as having any significance. They
were discussing with some heat the prospect of having their pay
reduced by the fifty-four hour law which was to come into effect on
Monday. They denounced the mill owners.
"They speed up the machine and make work harder," said one. "I
think we goin' to have a strike sure."
"Bad sisson too to have strike," replied the second
pessimistically. "It will be cold winter, now."
Across the black square of the window drifted the stray lights of
the countryside, and from time to time, when the train stopped, she
gazed out, unheeding, at the figures moving along the dim station
platforms. Suddenly, without premeditation or effort, she began to
live over again the day, beginning with the wonders, half revealed,
half hidden, of that journey through the whiteness to Boston....
Awakened, listening, she heard beating louder and louder on the
shores of consciousness the waves of the storm which had swept her
away--waves like crashing chords of music. She breathed deeply, she
turned her face to the window, seeming to behold reflected there, as
in a crystal, all her experiences, little and great, great and little.
She was seated once more leaning back in the corner of the carriage
on her way to the station, she felt Ditmar's hand working in her own,
and she heard his voice pleading forgiveness-- for her silence alarmed
him. And she heard herself saying:--
"It was my fault as much as yours."
And his vehement reply:--
"It wasn't anybody's fault--it was natural, it was wonderful,
Janet. I can't bear to see you sad."
To see her sad! Twice, during the afternoon and evening, he had
spoken those words--or was it three times? Was there a time she had
forgotten? And each time she had answered: "I'm not sad." What she
had felt indeed was not sadness,--but how could she describe it to him
when she herself was amazed and dwarfed by it? Could he not feel it,
too? Were men so different?... In the cab his solicitation, his
tenderness were only to be compared with his bewilderment, his
apparent awe of the feeling he himself had raised up in her, and which
awed her, likewise. She had actually felt that bewilderment of his
when, just before they had reached the station, she had responded
passionately to his last embrace. Even as he returned her caresses,
it had been conveyed to her amazingly by the quality of his touch.
Was it a lack all women felt in men? and were these, even in supreme
moments, merely the perplexed transmitters of life?--not life itself?
Her thoughts did not gain this clarity, though she divined the
secret. And yet she loved him--loved him with a fierceness that
frightened her, with a tenderness that unnerved her....
At the Hampton station she took the trolley, alighting at the
Common, following the narrow path made by pedestrians in the heavy
snow to Fillmore Street. She climbed the dark stairs, opened the
dining-room door, and paused on the threshold. Hannah and Edward sat
there under the lamp, Hannah scanning through her spectacles the pages
of a Sunday newspaper. On perceiving Janet she dropped it hastily in
"Well, I was concerned about you, in all this storm!" she
exclaimed. "Thank goodness you're home, anyway. You haven't seen
Lise, have you?"
"Lise?" Janet repeated. "Hasn't she been home?"
"Your father and I have been alone all day long. Not that it is so
uncommon for Lise to be gone. I wish it wasn't! But you! When you
didn't come home for supper I was considerably worried."
Janet sat down between her mother and father and began to draw off
"I'm going to marry Mr. Ditmar," she announced.
For a few moments the silence was broken only by the ticking of the
old- fashioned clock.
"Mr. Ditmar!" said Hannah, at length. "You're going to marry Mr.
Edward was still inarticulate. His face twitched, his eyes watered
as he stared at her.
"Not right away," said Janet.
Well, I must say you take it rather cool," declared Hannah, almost
resentfully. "You come in and tell us you're going to marry Mr.
Ditmar just like you were talking about the weather."
Hannah's eyes filled with tears. There had been indeed an
unconscious lack of consideration in Janet's abrupt announcement,
which had fallen like a spark on the dry tinder of Hannah's hope. The
result was a suffocating flame. Janet, whom love had quickened, had a
swift perception of this. She rose quickly and took Hannah in her
arms and kissed her. It was as though the relation between them were
reversed, and the daughter had now become the mother and the
"I always knew something like this would happen!" said Edward. His
words incited Hannah to protest.
"You didn't anything of the kind, Edward Bumpus," she exclaimed.
"Just to think of Janet livin' in that big house up in Warren
Street!" he went on, unheeding, jubilant. "You'll drop in and see the
old people once in a while, Janet, you won't forget us?"
"I wish you wouldn't talk like that, father," said Janet.
"Well, he's a fine man, Claude Ditmar, I always said that. The way
he stops and talks to me when he passes the gate--"
"That doesn't make him a good man," Hannah declared, and added: "If
he wasn't a good man, Janet wouldn't be marrying him."
"I don't know whether he's good or not," said Janet.
"That's so, too," observed Hannah, approvingly. "We can't any of
us tell till we've tried 'em, and then it's too late to change. I'd
like to see him, but I guess he wouldn't care to come down here to
Fillmore Street." The difference between Ditmar's social and economic
standing and their own suggested appalling complications to her mind.
"I suppose I won't get a sight of him till after you're married, and
not much then."
"There's plenty of time to think about that, mother," answered
"I'd want to have everything decent and regular," Hannah insisted.
"We may be poor, but we come of good stock, as your father says."
"It'll be all right--Mr. Ditmar will behave like a gentleman,"
Edward assured her.
"I thought I ought to tell you about it," Janet said, "but you
mustn't mention it, yet, not even to Lise. Lise will talk. Mr.
Ditmar's very busy now,--he hasn't made any plans."
"I wish Lise could get married!" exclaimed Hannah, irrelevantly.
"She's been acting so queer lately, she's not been herself at all."
"Now there you go, borrowing trouble, mother," Edward exclaimed.
He could not take his eyes from Janet, but continued to regard her
with benevolence. "Lise'll get married some day. I don't suppose we
can expect another Mr. Ditmar...."
"Well," said Hannah, presently, "there's no use sitting up all
night." She rose and kissed Janet again. "I just can't believe it,"
she declared, "but I guess it's so if you say it is."
"Of course it's so," said Edward.
"I so want you should be happy, Janet," said Hannah....
Was it so? Her mother and father, the dwarfed and ugly
surroundings of Fillmore Street made it seem incredible once more.
And--what would they say if they knew what had happened to her this
day? When she had reached her room, Janet began to wonder why she had
told her parents. Had it not been in order to relieve their
anxiety--especially her mother's--on the score of her recent absences
from home? Yes, that was it, and because the news would make them
happy. And then the mere assertion to them that she was to marry
Ditmar helped to make it more real to herself. But, now that reality
was fading again, she was unable to bring it within the scope of her
imagination, her mind refused to hold one remembered circumstance long
enough to coordinate it with another: she realized that she was
tired--too tired to think any more. But despite her exhaustion there
remained within her, possessing her, as it were overshadowing her,
unrelated to future or past, the presence of the man who had awakened
her to an intensity of life hitherto unconceived. When her head
touched the pillow she fell asleep....
When the bells and the undulating scream of the siren awoke her,
she lay awhile groping in the darkness. Where was she? Who was she?
The discovery of the fact that the nail of the middle finger on her
right hand was broken, gave her a clew. She had broken that nail in
reaching out to save something--a vase of roses--that was it!--a vase
of roses on a table with a white cloth. Ditmar had tipped it over.
The sudden flaring up of this trivial incident served to re-establish
her identity, to light a fuse along which her mind began to run like
fire, illuminating redly all the events of the day before. It was
sweet to lie thus, to possess, as her very own, these precious,
passionate memories of life lived at last to fulness, to feel that she
had irrevocably given herself and taken--all. A longing to see Ditmar
again invaded her: he would take an early train, he would be at the
office by nine. How could she wait until then?
With a movement that had become habitual, subconscious, she reached
out her hand to arouse her sister. The coldness of the sheets on the
right side of the bed sent a shiver through her--a shiver of fear.
"Lise!" she called. But there was no answer from the darkness.
And Janet, trembling, her heart beating wildly, sprang from the bed,
searched for the matches, and lit the gas. There was no sign of Lise;
her clothes, which she had the habit of flinging across the chairs,
were nowhere to be seen. Janet's eyes fell on the bureau, marked the
absence of several knick-knacks, including a comb and brush, and with
a sudden sickness of apprehension she darted to the wardrobe and flung
open the doors. In the bottom were a few odd garments, above was the
hat with the purple feather, now shabby and discarded, on the hooks a
skirt and jacket Lise wore to work at the Bagatelle in bad weather.
That was all.... Janet sank down in the rocking-chair, her hands
clasped together, overwhelmed by the sudden apprehension of the
tragedy that had lurked, all unsuspected, in the darkness: a tragedy,
not of Lise alone, but in which she herself was somehow involved.
Just why this was so, she could not for the moment declare. The room
was cold, she was clad only in a nightdress, but surges of heat ran
through her body. What should she do? She must think. But thought
was impossible. She got up and closed the window and began to dress
with feverish rapidity, pausing now and again to stand motionless. In
one such moment there entered her mind an incident that oddly had made
little impression at the time of its occurrence because she, Janet,
had been blinded by the prospect of her own happiness--that happiness
which, a few minutes ago, had seemed so real and vital a thing! And
it was the memory of this incident that suddenly threw a glaring, evil
light on all of Lise's conduct during the past months--her accidental
dropping of the vanity case and the gold coin! Now she knew'for a
certainty what had happened to her sister.
Having dressed herself, she entered the kitchen, which was warm,
filled with the smell of frying meat. Streaks of grease smoke floated
fantastically beneath the low ceiling, and Hannah, with the fryingpan
in one hand and a fork in the other, was bending over the stove.
Wisps of her scant, whitening hair escaped from the ridiculous,
tightly drawn knot at the back of her head; in the light of the
flickering gas-jet she looked so old and worn that a sudden pity smote
Janet and made her dumb-- pity for her mother, pity for herself, pity
for Lise; pity that lent a staggering insight into life itself.
Hannah had once been young, desirable, perhaps, swayed by those
forces which had swayed her. Janet wondered why she had never guessed
this before, and why she had guessed it now. But it was Hannah who,
looking up and catching sight of Janet's face, was quick to divine the
presage in it and gave voice to the foreboding that had weighed on her
for many weeks.
And Janet could not answer. She shook her head. Hannah dropped
the fork, the handle of the frying pan and crossed the room swiftly,
seizing Janet by the shoulders.
"Is she gone? I knew it, I felt it all along. I thought she'd
done something she was afraid to tell about--I tried to ask her, but I
couldn't--I couldn't! And now she's gone. Oh, my God, I'll never
The unaccustomed sight of her mother's grief was terrible. For an
instant only she clung to Janet, then becoming mute, she sat down in
the kitchen chair and stared with dry, unseeing eyes at the wall. Her
face twitched. Janet could not bear to look at it, to see the torture
in her mother's eyes. She, Janet, seemed suddenly to have grown old
herself, to have lived through ages of misery and tragedy.... She was
aware of a pungent odour, went to the stove, picked up the fork, and
turned the steak. Now and then she glanced at Hannah. Grief seemed
to have frozen her. Then, from the dining-room she heard footsteps,
and Edward stood in the doorway.
"Well, what's the matter with breakfast?" he asked. From where he
stood he could not see Hannah's face, but gradually his eyes were
drawn to her figure. His intuition was not quick, and some moments
passed before the rigidity of the pose impressed itself upon him.
"Is mother sick?" he asked falteringly.
Janet went to him. But it was Hannah who spoke.
"Lise has gone," she said.
"Lise--gone," Edward repeated. "Gone where?"
"She's run away--she's disgraced us," Hannah replied, in a
monotonous, dulled voice.
Edward did not seem to understand, and presently Janet felt
impelled to break the silence.
"She didn't come home last night, father."
"Didn't come home? Mebbe she spent the night with a friend," he
It seemed incredible, at such a moment, that he could still be
"No, she's gone, I tell you, she's lost, we'll never lay eyes on
her again. My God, I never thought she'd come to this, but I might
have guessed it. Lise! Lise! To think it's my Lise!"
Hannah's voice echoed pitifully through the silence of the flat.
So appealing, so heartbroken was the cry one might have thought that
Lise, wherever she was, would have heard it. Edward was dazed by the
shock, his lower lip quivered and fell. He walked over to Hannah's
chair and put his hand on her shoulder.
"There, there, mother," he pleaded. "If she's gone, we'll find
her, we'll bring her back to you."
Hannah shook her head. She pushed back her chair abruptly and
going over to the stove took the fork from Janet's hand and put the
steak on the dish.
"Go in there and set down, Edward," she said. "I guess we've got
to have breakfast just the same, whether she's gone or not."
It was terrible to see Hannah, with that look on her face, going
about her tasks automatically. And Edward, too, seemed suddenly to
have become aged and broken; his trust in the world, so amazingly
preserved through many vicissitudes, shattered at last. He spilled
his coffee when he tried to drink, and presently he got up and
wandered about the room, searching for his overcoat. It was Janet who
found it and helped him on with it. He tried to say something, but
failing, departed heavily for the mill. Janet began to remove the
dishes from the table.
"You've got to eat something, too, before you go to work," said
"I've had all I want," Janet replied.
Hannah followed her into the kitchen. The scarcely touched food
was laid aside, the coffee-pot emptied, Hannah put the cups in the
basin in the sink and let the water run. She turned to Janet and
seized her hands convulsively.
"Let me do this, mother," said Janet. She knew her mother was
thinking of the newly-found joy that Lise's disgrace had marred, but
she released her hands, gently, and took the mop from the nail on
which it hung.
"You sit down, mother," she said.
Hannah would not. They finished the dishes together in silence
while the light of the new day stole in through the windows. Janet
went into her room, set it in order, made up the bed, put on her coat
and hat and rubbers. Then she returned to Hannah, who seized her.
"It ain't going to spoil your happiness?"
But Janet could not answer. She kissed her mother, and went out,
down the stairs into the street. The day was sharp and cold and
bracing, and out of an azure sky the sun shone with dazzling
brightness on the snow, which the west wind was whirling into little
eddies of white smoke, leaving on the drifts delicate scalloped
designs like those printed by waves on the sands of the sea. They
seemed to Janet that morning hatefully beautiful. In front of his tin
shop, whistling cheerfully and labouring energetically with a shovel
to clean his sidewalk, was Johnny Tiernan, the tip of his pointed nose
made very red by the wind.
"Good morning, Miss Bumpus," he said. "Now, if you'd only waited
awhile, I'd have had it as clean as a parlour. It's fine weather for
"Can I see you a moment, Mr. Tiernan?"
Johnny looked at her.
"Why sure," he said. Leaning his shovel against the wall, he
gallantly opened the door that she might pass in before him and then
led the way to the back of the shop where the stove was glowing
hospitably. He placed a chair for her. "Now what can I be doing to
serve you?" he asked.
"It's about my sister," said Janet.
"I thought you might know what man she's been going with lately,"
Mr. Tiernan had often wondered how much Janet knew about her
sister. In spite of a momentary embarrassment most unusual in him,
the courage of her question made a strong appeal, and his quick
sympathies suspected the tragedy behind her apparent calmness. He met
"Why," he said, "I have seen Miss Lise with a fellow named
Duval--Howard Duval--when he's been in town. He travels for a Boston
shoe house, Humphrey and Gillmount."
"I'm afraid Lise has gone away with him," said Janet. "I thought
you might be able to find out something about him, and--whether any
one had seen them. She left home yesterday morning."
For an instant Mr. Tiernan stood silent before her, his legs apart,
his fingers running through his bristly hair.
"Well, ye did right to come straight to me, Miss Janet. It's me
that can find out, if anybody can, and it's glad I am to help you.
Just you stay here--make yourself at home while I run down and see
some of the boys. I'll not be long--and don't be afraid I'll let on
He seized his overcoat and departed. Presently the sun, glinting
on the sheets of tin, started Janet's glance straying around the shop,
noting its disorderly details, the heaped-up stovepipes, the littered
work-bench with the shears lying across the vise. Once she thought of
Ditmar arriving at the office and wondering what had happened to
her.... The sound of a bell made her jump. Mr. Tiernan had returned.
"She's gone with him," said Janet, not as a question, but as one
stating a fact.
Mr. Tiernan nodded.
"They took the nine-thirty-six for Boston yesterday morning. Eddy
Colahan was at the depot."
Janet rose. "Thank you," she said simply.
"What are you going to do?" he asked.
"I'm going to Boston," she answered. "I'm going to find out where
"Then it's me that's going with you," he announced.
"Oh no, Mr. Tiernan!" she protested. "I couldn't let you do that."
"And why not?" he demanded. "I've got a little business there
myself. I'm proud to go with you. It's your sister you want, isn't
"Well, what would you be doing by yourself--a young lady? How will
you find your sister?"
"Do you think you can find her?"
"Sure I can find her," he proclaimed, confidently. He had
evidently made up his mind that casual treatment was what the affair
demanded. "Haven't I good friends in Boston?" By friendship he
swayed his world: nor was he completely unknown--though he did not say
so--to certain influential members of his race of the Boston police
department. Pulling out a large nickel watch and observing that they
had just time to catch the train, he locked up his shop, and they set
out together for the station. Mr. Tiernan led the way, for the path
was narrow. The dry snow squeaked under his feet.
After escorting her to a seat on the train, he tactfully retired to
the smoking car, not to rejoin her until they were on the trestle
spanning the Charles River by the North Station. All the way to
Boston she had sat gazing out of the window at the blinding whiteness
of the fields, incapable of rousing herself to the necessity of
thought, to a degree of feeling commensurate with the situation. She
did not know what she would say to Lise if she should find her; and in
spite of Mr. Tiernan's expressed confidence, the chances of success
seemed remote. When the train began to thread the crowded suburbs,
the city, spreading out over its hills, instead of thrilling her, as
yesterday, with a sense of dignity and power, of opportunity and
emancipation, seemed a labyrinth with many warrens where vice and
crime and sorrow could hide. In front of the station the traffic was
already crushing the snow into filth. They passed the spot where, the
night before, the carriage had stopped, where Ditmar had bidden her
good-bye. Something stirred within her, became a shooting pain....
She asked Mr. Tiernan what he intended to do.
"I'm going right after the man, if he's here in the city," he told
her. And they boarded a street car, which almost immediately shot into
the darkness of the subway. Emerging at Scollay Square, and walking a
few blocks, they came to a window where guns, revolvers, and fishing
tackle were displayed, and on which was painted the name, "Timothy
Mulally." Mr. Tiernan entered.
"Is Tim in?" he inquired of one of the clerks, who nodded his head
towards the rear of the store, where a middle-aged, grey-haired
Irishman was seated at a desk under a drop light.
"Is it you, Johnny?" he exclaimed, looking up.
"It's meself," said Mr. Tiernan. "And this is Miss Bumpus, a young
lady friend of mine from Hampton."
Mr. Mulally rose and bowed.
"How do ye do, ma'am," he said.
"I've got a little business to do for her," Mr. Tiernan continued.
"I thought you might offer her a chair and let her stay here, quiet,
while I was gone."
"With pleasure, ma'am," Mr. Mulally replied, pulling forward a
chair with alacrity. "Just sit there comfortable--no one will disturb
When, in the course of half an hour, Mr. Tiernan returned, there
was a grim yet triumphant look in his little blue eyes, but it was not
until Janet had thanked Mr. Mulally for his hospitality and they had
reached the sidewalk that he announced the result of his quest.
"Well, I caught him. It's lucky we came when we did--he was just
going out on the road again, up to Maine. I know where Miss Lise is."
"He told you!" exclaimed Janet.
"He told me indeed, but it wasn't any joy to him. He was all for
bluffing at first. It's easy to scare the likes of him. He was as
white as his collar before I was done with him. He knows who I am,
all right he's heard of me in Hampton," Mr. Tiernan added, with a
pardonable touch of pride.
"What did you say?" inquired Janet, curiously.
"Say?" repeated Mr. Tiernan. "It's not much I had to say, Miss
Janet. I was all ready to go to Mr. Gillmount, his boss. I'm
guessing he won't take much pleasure on this trip."
She asked for no more details.
Once more Janet and Mr. Tiernan descended into the subway, taking a
car going to the south and west, which finally came out of the tunnel
into a broad avenue lined with shabby shops, hotels and saloons, and
long rows of boarding--and rooming-houses. They alighted at a certain
corner, walked a little way along a street unkempt and dreary, Mr.
Tiernan scrutinizing the numbers until he paused in front of a house
with a basement kitchen and snow-covered, sandstone steps. Climbing
these, he pulled the bell, and they stood waiting in the twilight of a
half-closed vestibule until presently shuffling steps were heard
within; the door was cautiously opened, not more than a foot, but
enough to reveal a woman in a loose wrapper, with an untidy mass of
bleached hair and a puffy face like a fungus grown in darkness.
"I want to see Miss Lise Bumpus," Mr. Tiernan demanded.
"You've got the wrong place. There ain't no one of that name
here," said the woman.
"There ain't! All right," he insisted aggressively, pushing open
the door in spite of her. "If you don't let this young lady see her
quick, there's trouble coming to you."
"Who are you?" asked the woman, impudently, yet showing signs of
"Never mind who I am," Mr. Tiernan declared. "I know all about
you, and I know all about Duval. If you don't want any trouble you
won't make any, and you'll take this young lady to her sister. I'll
wait here for you, Miss Janet," he added.
"I don't know nothing about her--she rented my room that's all I
know," the woman replied sullenly. "If you mean that couple that came
She turned and led the way upstairs, mounting slowly, and Janet
followed, nauseated and almost overcome by the foul odours of dead
cigarette smoke which, mingling with the smell of cooking cabbage
rising from below, seemed the very essence and reek of hitherto
unimagined evil. A terror seized her such as she had never known
before, an almost overwhelming impulse to turn and regain the air and
sunlight of the day. In the dark hallway of the second story the
woman knocked at the door of a front room.
"She's in there, unless she's gone out." And indeed a voice was
heard petulantly demanding what was wanted--Lise's voice! Janet
hesitated, her hand on the knob, her body fallen against the panels.
Then, as she pushed open the door, the smell of cigarette smoke grew
stronger, and she found herself in a large bedroom, the details of
which were instantly photographed on her mind--the dingy claret-red
walls, the crayon over the mantel of a buxom lady in a decollete
costume of the '90's, the outspread fan concealing the fireplace, the
soiled lace curtains. The bed was unmade, and on the table beside two
empty beer bottles and glasses and the remains of a box of
candy--suggestive of a Sunday purchase at a drug store--she recognized
Lise's vanity case. The effect of all this, integrated at a glance,
was a paralyzing horror. Janet could not speak. She remained gazing
at Lise, who paid no attention to her entrance, but stood with her
back turned before an old-fashioned bureau with a marble top and
raised sides. She was dressed, and engaged in adjusting her hat. It
was not until Janet pronounced her name that she turned swiftly.
"You!" she exclaimed. "What the--what brought you here?"
"Oh, Lise!" Janet repeated.
"How did you get here?" Lise demanded, coming toward her. "Who
told you where I was? What business have you got sleuthing 'round
after me like this?"
For a moment Janet was speechless once more, astounded that Lise
could preserve her effrontery in such an atmosphere, could be
insensible to the evils lurking in this house--evils so real to Janet
that she seemed actually to feel them brushing against her.
"Lise, come away from here," she pleaded, "come home with me!"
"Home!" said Lise, defiantly, and laughed. "What do you take me
for? Why would I be going home when I've been trying to break away for
two years? I ain't so dippy as that--not me! Go home like a good
little girl and march back to the Bagatelle and ask 'em to give me
another show standing behind a counter all day. Nix! No home sweet
home for me! I'm all for easy street when it comes to a home like
Heartless, terrific as the repudiation was, it struck a
self-convicting, almost sympathetic note in Janet. She herself had
revolted against the monotony and sordidness of that existence She
herself ! She dared not complete the thought, now.
"But this!" she exclaimed.
"What's the matter with it?" Lise demanded. "It ain't Commonwealth
Avenue, but it's got Fillmore Street beat a mile. There ain't no
whistles hereto get you out of bed at six a.m., for one thing. There
ain't no geezers, like Walters, to nag you 'round all day long.
What's the matter with it?"
Something in Lise's voice roused Janet's spirit to battle.
"What's the matter with it?" she cried. "It's hell--that's the
matter with it. Can't you see it? Can't you feel it? You don't know
what it means, or you'd come home with me."
"I guess I know what it means as well as you do," said Lise,
sullenly. "We've all got to croak sometime, and I'd rather croak this
way than be smothered up in Hampton. I'll get a run for my money,
"No, you don't know what it means," Janet repeated, "or you
wouldn't talk like that. Do you think this man will support you,
stick to you? He won't, he'll desert you, and you'll have to go on
A dangerous light grew in Lise's eyes.
"He's as good as any other man, he's as good as Ditmar," she said.
"They're all the same, to girls like us."
Janet's heart caught, it seemed to stop beating. Was this a hazard
on Lise's part, or did she speak from knowledge? And yet what did it
matter whether Lise knew or only suspected, if her words were true, if
men were all alike? Had she been a dupe as well as Lise? and was the
only difference between them now the fact that Lise was able, without
illusion, to see things as they were, to accept the consequences,
while she, Janet, had beheld visions and dreamed dreams? was there any
real choice between the luxurious hotel to which Ditmar had taken her
and this detestable house? Suddenly, seemingly by chance, her eyes
fell on the box of drug-store candy from which the cheap red ribbon
had been torn, and by some odd association of ideas it suggested and
epitomized Lise's Sunday excursion with a mama hideous travesty on the
journey of wonders she herself had taken. Had that been heaven, and
this of Lise's, hell?... And was. Lise's ambition to be supported in
idleness and luxury to be condemned because she had believed her own
to be higher? Did not both lead to destruction? The weight that had
lain on her breast since the siren had awakened her that morning and
she had reached out and touched the chilled, empty sheets now grew
"It's true," said Janet, "all men are the same."
Lise was staring at her.
"My God!" she exclaimed. "You?"
"Yes-me," cried Janet.--"And what are you going to do about it?
Stay here with him in this filthy place until he gets tired of you
and throws you out on the street? Before I'd let any man do that to
me I'd kill him."
Lise began to whimper, and suddenly buried her face in the pillow.
But a new emotion had begun to take possession of Janet--an emotion
so strong as to give her an unlookedfor sense of detachment. And the
words Lise had spoken between her sobs at first conveyed no meaning.
"I'm going to have a baby...."
Lise was going to have a child! Why hadn't she guessed it? A
child! Perhaps she, Janet, would have a child! This enlightenment as
to Lise's condition and the possibility it suggested in regard to
herself brought with it an overwhelming sympathy which at first she
fiercely resented then yielded to. The bond between them, instead of
snapping, had inexplicably strengthened. And Lise, despite her
degradation, was more than ever her sister! Forgetting her repugnance
to the bed, Janet sat down beside Lise and put an arm around her.
"He said he'd marry me, he swore he was rich--and he was a spender
all right. And then some guy came up to me one night at Gruber's and
told me he was married already."
"What?" Janet exclaimed.
"Sure! He's got a wife and two kids here in Boston. That was a
twenty- one round knockout! Maybe I didn't have something to tell him
when he blew into Hampton last Friday! But he said he couldn't help
it--he loved me." Lise sat up, seemingly finding relief in the
relation of her wrongs, dabbing her eyes with a cheap lace
handkerchief. "Well, while he'd been away--this thing came. I didn't
know what was the matter at first, and when I found out I was scared
to death, I was ready to kill myself. When I told him he was scared
too, and then he said he'd fix it. Say, I was a goat to think he'd
marry me!" Lise laughed hysterically.
"And then--" Janet spoke with difficulty, "and then you came down
"I told him he'd have to see me through, I'd start something if he
didn't. Say, he almost got down on his knees, right there in
Gruber's! But he came back inside of ten seconds--he's a jollier, for
sure, he was right there with the goods, it was because he loved me,
he couldn't help himself, I was his cutie, and all that kind of baby
Lise's objective manner of speaking about her seducer amazed Janet.
"Do you love him?" she asked.
"Say, what is love?" Lise demanded. "Do you ever run into it
outside of the movies? Do I love him? Well, he's a good looker and a
fancy dresser, he ain't a tight wad, and he can start a laugh every
minute. If he hadn't put it over on me I wouldn't have been so sore.
I don't know he ain't so bad. He's weak, that's the trouble with
This was the climax! Lise's mental processes, her tendency to pass
from wild despair to impersonal comment, her inability, her
courtesan's temperament that prevented her from realizing tragedy for
more than a moment at a time--even though the tragedy were her
own--were incomprehensible to Janet.
"Get on to this," Lise adjured her. "When I first was acquainted
with him he handed me a fairy tale that he was taking five thousand a
year from Humphrey and Gillmount, he was going into the firm. He had
me razzle-dazzled. He's some hypnotizes as a salesman, too, they say.
Nothing was too good for me; I saw myself with a house on the avenue
shopping in a limousine. Well, he blew up, but I can't help liking
"Liking him!" cried Janet passionately. "I'd kill him that's what
Lise regarded her with unwilling admiration.
"That's where you and me is different," she declared. "I wish I
was like that, but I ain't. And where would I come in? Now you're
wise why I can't go back to Hampton. Even if I was stuck on the burg
and cryin' my eyes out for the Bagatelle I couldn't go back."
"What are you going to do?" Janet demanded.
"Well," said Lise, "he's come across--I'll say that for him. Maybe
it's because he's scared, but he's stuck on me, too. When you dropped
in I was just going down town to get a pair of patent leathers, these
are all wore out," she explained, twisting her foot, "they ain't fit
for Boston. And I thought of lookin' at blouses--there's a sale on I
was reading about in the paper. Say, it's great to be on easy street,
to be able to stay in bed until you're good and ready to get up and go
shopping, to gaze at the girls behind the counter and ask the price of
things. I'm going to Walling's and give the salesladies the
ha-ha--that's what I'm going to do."
"But--?" Janet found words inadequate.
Lise understood her.
"Oh, I'm due at the doctor's this afternoon."
"The doctor's. Don't you get me?--it's a private hospital." Lise
gave a slight shudder at the word, but instantly recovered her
sang-froid. "Howard fixed it up yesterday--and they say it ain't very
bad if you take it early."
For a space Janet was too profoundly shocked to reply.
"Lise! That's a crime!" she cried.
"Crime, nothing!" retorted Lise, and immediately became indignant.
"Say, I sometimes wonder how you could have lived all these years
without catching on to a few things! What do you take me for! What'd
I do with a baby?"
What indeed! The thought came like an avalanche, stripping away
the veneer of beauty from the face of the world, revealing the scarred
rock and crushed soil beneath. This was reality! What right had
society to compel a child to be born to degradation and prostitution?
to beget, perhaps, other children of suffering? Were not she and Lise
of the exploited, of those duped and tempted by the fair things the
more fortunate enjoyed unscathed? And now, for their natural
cravings, their family must be disgraced, they must pay the penalty of
outcasts! Neither Lise nor she had had a chance. She saw that, now.
The scorching revelation of life's injustice lighted within her the
fires of anarchy and revenge. Lise, other women might submit tamely
to be crushed, might be lulled and drugged by bribes: she would not.
A wild desire seized her to get back to Hampton.
"Give me the address of the hospital," she said.
"Come off!" cried Lise, in angry bravado. "Do you think I'm going
to let you butt into this? I guess you've got enough to do to look
out for your own business."
Janet produced a pencil from her bag, and going to the table tore
off a piece of the paper in which had been wrapped the candy box.
"Give me the address," she insisted.
"Say, what are you going to do?"
"I want to know where you are, in case anything happens to you."
"Anything happens! What do you mean?" Janet's words had
frightened Lise, the withdrawal of Janet's opposition bewildered her.
But above all, she was cowed by the sudden change in Janet herself,
by the attitude of steely determination eloquent of an animus persons
of Lise's type are incapable of feeling, and which to them is
therefore incomprehensible. "Nothing's going to happen to me," she
whined. "The place is all right-- he'd be scared to send me there if
it wasn't. It costs something, too. Say, you ain't going to tell 'em
at home?" she cried with a fresh access of alarm.
"If you do as I say, I won't tell anybody," Janet replied, in that
odd, impersonal tone her voice had acquired. "You must write me as
soon--as soon as it is over. Do you understand?"
"Honest to God I will," Lise assured her.
"And you mustn't come back to a house like this."
"Where'll I go?" Lise asked.
"I don't know. We'll find out when the time comes," said Janet,
"You've seen him!" Lise exclaimed.
"No," said Janet, "and I don't want to see him unless I have to.
Mr. Tiernan has seen him. Mr. Tiernan is downstairs now, waiting for
"Johnny Tiernan! Is Johnny Tiernan downstairs?"
Janet wrote the address, and thrust the slip of paper in her bag.
"Good-bye, Lise," she said. "I'll come down again I'll come down
whenever you want me." Lise suddenly seized her and clung to her,
sobbing. For a while Janet submitted, and then, kissing her, gently
detached herself. She felt, indeed, pity for Lise, but something
within her seemed to have hardened--something that pity could not
melt, possessing her and thrusting heron to action. She knew not what
action. So strong was this thing that it overcame and drove off the
evil spirits of that darkened house as she descended the stairs to
join Mr. Tiernan, who opened the door for her to pass out. Once in
the street, she breathed deeply of the sunlit air. Nor did she
observe Mr. Tiernan's glance of comprehension.... When they arrived
at the North Station he said:--
"You'll be wanting a bite of dinner, Miss Janet," and as she shook
her head he did not press her to eat. He told her that a train for
Hampton left in ten minutes. "I think I'll stay in Boston the rest of
the day, as long as I'm here," he added.
She remembered that she had not thanked him, she took his hand, but
he cut her short.
"It's glad I was to help you," he assured her. "And if there's
anything more I can do, Miss Janet, you'll be letting me know--you'll
call on Johnny Tiernan, won't you?"
He left her at the gate. He had intruded with no advice, he had
offered no comment that she had come downstairs alone, without Lise.
His confidence in her seemed never to have wavered. He had
respected, perhaps partly imagined her feelings, and in spite of these
now a sense of gratitude to him stole over her, mitigating the
intensity of their bitterness. Mr. Tiernan alone seemed stable in a
chaotic world. He was a man.
No sooner was she in the train, however, than she forgot Mr.
Tiernan utterly. Up to the present the mental process of dwelling
upon her own experience of the last three months had been unbearable,
but now she was able to take a fearful satisfaction in the evolving of
parallels between her case and Lise's. Despite the fact that the
memories she had cherished were now become hideous things, she sought
to drag them forth and compare them, ruthlessly, with what must have
been the treasures of Lise. Were her own any less tawdry? Only she,
Janet, had been the greater fool of the two, the greater dupe because
she had allowed herself to dream, to believe that what she had done
had been for love, for light! because she had not listened to the
warning voice within her! It had always been on the little,
unpremeditated acts of Ditmar that she had loved to linger, and now,
in the light of Lise's testimony, of Lise's experience, she saw them
all as false. It seemed incredible, now, that she had ever deceived
herself into thinking that Ditmar meant to marry her, that he loved
her enough to make her his wife. Nor was it necessary to summon and
marshal incidents to support this view, they came of themselves,
crowding one another, a cumulative and appalling array of evidence,
before which she stood bitterly amazed at her former stupidity. And in
the events of yesterday, which she pitilessly reviewed, she beheld a
deliberate and prearranged plan for her betrayal. Had he not
telephoned to Boston for the rooms, rehearsed in his own mind every
detail of what had subsequently happened? Was there any essential
difference between the methods of Ditmar and Duval? Both were skilled
in the same art, and Ditmar was the cleverer of the two. It had only
needed her meeting with Lise, in that house, to reveal how he had
betrayed her faith and her love, sullied and besmirched them. And
then came the odd reflection,--how strange that that same Sunday had
been so fateful for herself and Lise!
The agony of these thoughts was mitigated by the scorehing hatred
that had replaced her love, the desire for retaliation, revenge.
Occasionally, however, that stream of consciousness was broken by the
recollection of what she had permitted and even advised her sister to
do; and though the idea of the place to which Lise was going sickened
her, though she achieved a certain objective amazement at the
transformation in herself enabling her to endorse such a course, she
was glad of having endorsed it, she rejoiced that Lise's child would
not be born into a world that had seemed--so falsely--fair and sweet,
and in reality was black and detestable. Her acceptance of the
act--for Lise--was a function of the hatred consuming her, a hatred
which, growing in bigness, had made Ditmar merely the personification
of that world. From time to time her hands clenched, her brow
furrowed, powerful waves of heat ran through her, the craving for
action became so intense she could scarcely refrain from rising in her
By some odd whim of the weather the wind had backed around into the
east, gathering the clouds once more. The brilliancy of the morning
had given place to greyness, the high slits of windows seemed dirtier
than ever as the train pulled into the station at Hampton, shrouded in
Gothic gloom. As she left the car Janet was aware of the presence on
the platform of an unusual number of people; she wondered vaguely, as
she pushed her way through them, why they were there, what they were
talking about? One determination possessed her, to go to the
Chippering Mill, to Ditmar. Emerging from the street, she began to
walk rapidly, the change from inaction to exercise bringing a certain
relief, starting the working of her mind, arousing in her a
realization of the necessity of being prepared for the meeting.
Therefore, instead of turning at Faber Street, she crossed it. But
at the corner of the Common she halted, her glance drawn by a dark
mass of people filling the end of Hawthorne Street, where it was
blocked by the brick-coloured facade of the Clarendon Mill. In the
middle distance men and boys were running to join this crowd. A girl,
evidently an Irish-American mill hand of the higher paid sort, hurried
toward her from the direction of the mill itself. Janet accosted her.
"It's the strike," she explained excitedly, evidently surprised at
the question. "The Polaks and the Dagoes and a lot of other
foreigners quit when they got their envelopes--stopped their looms and
started through the mill, and when they came into our room I left. I
didn't want no trouble with 'em. It's the fifty-four hour law--their
pay's cut two hours. You've heard about it, I guess."
"They had a big mass meeting last night in Maxwell Hall," the girl
continued, "the foreigners--not the skilled workers. And they voted
to strike. They tell me they're walking out over at the Patuxent,
"And the Chippering?" asked Janet, eagerly.
"I don't know--I guess it'll spread to all of 'em, the way these
foreigners are going on--they're crazy. But say," the girl added, "it
ain't right to cut our pay, either, is it? They never done it two
years ago when the law came down to fifty-six."
Janet did not wait to reply. While listening to this explanation,
excitement had been growing in her again, and some fearful,
overpowering force of attraction emanating from that swarm in the
distance drew her until she yielded, fairly running past the rows of
Italian tenements in their strange setting of snow, not to pause until
she reached the fruit shop where she and Eda had eaten the olives.
Now she was on the outskirts of the crowd that packed itself against
the gates of the Clarendon. It spread over the width of East Street,
growing larger every minute, until presently she was hemmed in. Here
and there hoarse shouts of approval and cheers arose in response to
invisible orators haranging their audiences in weird, foreign tongues;
tiny American flags were waved; and suddenly, in one of those
unforeseen and incomprehensible movements to which mobs are subject, a
trolley car standing at the end of the Hawthorne Street track was
surrounded, the desperate clanging of its bell keeping pace with the
beating of Janet's heart. A dark Sicilian, holding aloft the green,
red, and white flag of Italy, leaped on the rear platform and began to
speak, the Slav conductor regarding him stupidly, pulling the bellcord
the while. Three or four policemen fought their way to the spot,
striving to clear the tracks, bewildered and impotent in the face of
the alien horde momentarily growing more and more conscious of power.
Janet pushed her way deeper and deeper into the crowd. She wanted
to savour to the full its wrath and danger, to surrender herself to be
played upon by these sallow, stubbybearded exhorters, whose menacing
tones and passionate gestures made a grateful appeal, whose wild,
musical words, just because they were uncomprehended, aroused in her
dim suggestions of a race-experience not her own, but in which she was
now somehow summoned to share. That these were the intruders whom
she, as a native American, had once resented and despised did not
occur to her. The racial sense so strong in her was drowned in a sense
of fellowship. Their anger seemed to embody and express, as nothing
else could have done, the revolt that had been rising, rising within
her soul; and the babel to which she listened was not a confusion of
tongues, but one voice lifted up to proclaim the wrongs of all the
duped, of all the exploited and oppressed. She was fused with them,
their cause was her cause, their betrayers her betrayers.
Suddenly was heard the cry for which she had been tensely but
unconsciously awaiting. Another cry like that had rung out in another
mob across the seas more than a century before. "Ala Bastille!"
became "To the Chippering!" Some man shouted it out in shrill
English, hundreds repeated it; the Sicilian leaped from the trolley
car, and his path could be followed by the agitated progress of the
alien banner he bore. "To the Chippering!" It rang in Janet's ears
like a call to battle. Was she shouting it, too? A galvanic thrill
ran through the crowd, an impulse that turned their faces and started
their steps down East Street toward the canal, and Janet was
irresistibly carried along. Nay, it seemed as if the force that
second by second gained momentum was in her, that she herself had
released and was guiding it! Her feet were wet as she ploughed
through the trampled snow, but she gave no thought to that. The odour
of humanity was in her nostrils. On the left a gaunt Jew pressed
against her, on the right a solid Ruthenian woman, one hand clasping
her shawl, the other holding aloft a miniature emblem of New World
liberty. Her eyes were fixed on the grey skies, and from time to time
her lips were parted in some strange, ancestral chant that could be
heard above the shouting. All about Janet were dark, awakening
It chanced that an American, a college graduate, stood gazing down
from a point of vantage upon this scene. He was ignorant of
anthropology, psychology, and the phenomena of environment; but bits
of "knowledge"-- which he embodied in a newspaper article composed
that evening stuck wax- like in his brain. Not thus, he deplored, was
the Anglo-Saxon wont to conduct his rebellions. These Czechs and
Slavs, Hebrews and Latins and Huns might have appropriately been clad
in the skins worn by the hordes of Attila. Had they not been drawn
hither by the renown of the Republic's wealth? And how essentially
did they differ from those other barbarians before whose bewildered,
lustful gaze had risen the glittering palaces on the hills of the
Tiber? The spoils of Rome! The spoils of America! They appeared to
him ferocious, atavistic beasts as they broke into the lumberyard
beneath his window to tear the cord-wood from the piles and rush out
again, armed with billets....
Janet, in the main stream sweeping irresistibly down the middle of
the street, was carried beyond the lumberyard into the narrow roadway
beside the canal--presently to find herself packed in the congested
mass in front of the bridge that led to the gates of the Chippering
Mill. Across the water, above the angry hum of human voices could be
heard the whirring of the looms, rousing the mob to a higher pitch of
fury. The halt was for a moment only. The bridge rocked beneath the
weight of their charge, they battered at the great gates, they ran
along the snow- filled tracks by the wall of the mill. Some, in a
frenzy of passion, hurled their logs against the windows; others
paused, seemingly to measure the distance and force of the stroke,
thus lending to their act a more terrible and deliberate significance.
A shout of triumph announced that the gates, like a broken dam, had
given way, and the torrent poured in between the posts, flooding the
yard, pressing up the towered stairways and spreading through the
compartments of the mill. More ominous than the tumult seemed the
comparative silence that followed this absorption of the angry spirits
of the mob. Little by little, as the power was shut off, the
antiphonal throbbing of the looms was stilled. Pinioned against the
parapet above the canal--almost on that very spot where, the first
evening, she had met Ditmar--Janet awaited her chance to cross. Every
crashing window, every resounding blow on the panels gave her a fierce
throb of joy. She had not expected the gates to yield--her father
must have insecurely fastened them. Gaining the farther side of the
canal, she perceived him flattened against the wall of the gatehouse
shaking his fist in the faces of the intruders, who rushed past him
unheeding. His look arrested her. His face was livid, his eyes were
red with anger, he stood transformed by a passion she had not believed
him to possess. She had indeed heard him give vent to a mitigated
indignation against foreigners in general, but now the old-school
Americanism in which he had been bred, the Americanism of individual
rights, of respect for the convention of property, had suddenly sprung
into flame. He was ready to fight for it, to die for it. The curses
he hurled at these people sounded blasphemous in Janet's ears.
"Father!" she cried. "Father!"
He looked at her uncomprehendingly, seemingly failing to recognize
"What are you doing here?" he demanded, seizing her and attempting
to draw her to the wall beside him. But she resisted. There sprang
from her lips an unpremeditated question: "Where is Mr. Ditmar?" She
was, indeed, amazed at having spoken it.
"I don't know," Edward replied distractedly. "We've been looking
for him everywhere. My God, to think that this should happen with me
at the gates!" he lamented. "Go home, Janet. You can't tell what'll
happen, what these fiends will do, you may get hurt. You've got no
business here." Catching sight of a belated and breathless policeman,
he turned from her in desperation. "Get 'em out! Far God's sake,
can't you get 'em out before they ruin the machines?"
But Janet waited no longer. Pushing her way frantically through
the people filling the yard she climbed the tower stairs and made her
way into one of the spinning rooms. The frames were stilled, the
overseer and second hands, thrust aside, looked on helplessly while
the intruders harangued, cajoled or threatened the operatives, some of
whom were cowed and already departing; others, sullen and resentful,
remained standing in the aisles; and still others seemed to have
caught the contagion of the strike. Suddenly, with reverberating
strokes, the mill bells rang out, the electric gongs chattered, the
siren screeched, drowning the voices. Janet did not pause, but hurried
from room to room until, in passing through an open doorway in the
weaving department she ran into Mr. Caldwell. He halted a moment, in
surprise at finding her there, calling her by name. She clung to his
sleeve, and again she asked the question:--
"Where's Mr. Ditmar?"
Caldwell shook his head. His answer was the same as Edward's. "I
don't know," he shouted excitedly above the noise. "We've got to get
this mob out before they do any damage."
He tore himself away, she saw him expostulating with the overseer,
and then she went on. These tower stairs, she remembered, led to a
yard communicating by a little gate with the office entrance. The
door of the vestibule was closed, but the watchman, Simmons,
recognizing her, permitted her to enter. The offices were deserted,
silent, for the bells and the siren had ceased their clamour; the
stenographers and clerks had gone. The short day was drawing to a
close, shadows were gathering in the corners of Ditmar's room as she
reached the threshold and gazed about her at the objects there so
poignantly familiar. She took off her coat. His desk was littered
with books and papers, and she started, mechanically, to set it in
order, replacing the schedule books on the shelves, sorting out the
letters and putting them in the basket. She could not herself have
told why she should take up again these trivial tasks as though no
cataclysmic events had intervened to divide forever the world of
yesterday from that of to-morrow. With a movement suggestive of
tenderness she was picking up Ditmar's pen to set it in the glass rack
when her ear caught the sound of voices, and she stood transfixed,
listening intently. There were footsteps in the corridor, the voices
came nearer; one, loud and angered, she detected above the others. It
was Ditmar's! Nothing had happened to him! Dropping the pen, she
went over to the window, staring out over the grey waters, trembling
so violently that she could scarcely stand.
She did not look around when they entered the room Ditmar,
Caldwell, Orcutt, and evidently a few watchmen and overseers. Some
one turned on the electric switch, darkening the scene without.
Ditmar continued to speak in vehement tones of uncontrolled rage.
"Why in hell weren't those gates bolted tight?" he demanded.
"That's what I want to know! There was plenty of time after they
turned the corner of East Street. You might have guessed what they
would do. But instead of that you let 'em into the mill to shut off
the power and intimidate our own people." He called the strikers an
unprintable name, and though Janet stood, with her back turned,
directly before him, he gave no sign of being aware of her presence.
"It wasn't the gatekeeper's fault," she heard Orcutt reply in a
tone quivering with excitement and apprehension. "They really didn't
give us a chance--that's the truth. They were down Canal Street and
over the bridge before we knew it."
"It's just as I've said a hundred times," Ditmar retorted. "I
can't afford to leave this mill a minute, I can't trust anybody --"
and he broke out in another tirade against the intruders. "By God,
I'll fix 'em for this--I'll crush 'em. And if any operatives try to
walkout here I'll see that they starve before they get back--after all
I've done for 'em, kept the mill going in slack times just to give 'em
work. If they desert me now, when I've got this Bradlaugh order on my
hands--" Speech became an inadequate expression of his feelings, and
suddenly his eye fell on Janet. She had turned, but her look made no
impression on him. "Call up the Chief of Police," he said.
Automatically she obeyed, getting the connection and handing him
the receiver, standing by while he denounced the incompetence of the
department for permitting the mob to gather in East Street and
demanded deputies. The veins of his forehead were swollen as he cut
short the explanations of the official and asked for the City Hall.
In making an appointment with the Mayor he reflected on the
management of the city government. And when Janet by his command
obtained the Boston office, he gave the mill treasurer a heated
account of the afternoon's occurrences, explaining circumstantially
how, in his absence at a conference in the Patuxent Mill, the mob had
gathered in East Street and attacked the Chippering; and he urged the
treasurer to waste no time in obtaining a force of detectives, in
securing in Boston and New York all the operatives that could be
hired, in order to break the impending strike. Save for this untimely
and unreasonable revolt he was bent on stamping out, for Ditmar the
world to-day was precisely the same world it had been the day before.
It seemed incredible to Janet that he could so regard it, could still
be blind to the fact that these workers whom he was determined to
starve and crush if they dared to upset his plans and oppose his will
were human beings with wills and passions and grievances of their own.
Until to-day her eyes had been sealed. In agony they had been opened
to the panorama of sorrow and suffering, of passion and evil; and what
she beheld now as life was a vast and terrible cruelty. She had
needed only this final proof to be convinced that in his eyes she also
was but one of those brought into the world to minister to his
pleasure and profit. He had taken from her, as his weed, the most
precious thing a woman has to give, and now that she was here again at
his side, by some impulse incomprehensible to herself--in spite of the
wrong he had done her!--had sought him out in danger, he had no
thought of her, no word for her, no use save a menial one: he cared
nothing for any help she might be able to give, he had no perception
of the new light which had broken within her soul.... The telephoning
seemed interminable, yet she waited with a strange patience while he
talked with Mr. George Chippering and two of the most influential
directors. These conversations had covered the space of an hour or
more. And perhaps as a result of self- suggestion, of his repeated
assurances to Mr. Semple, to Mr. Chippering, and the directors of his
ability to control the situation, Ditmar's habitual self-confidence
was gradually restored. And when at last he hung up the instrument
and turned to her, though still furious against the strikers, his
voice betrayed the joy of battle, the assurance of victory.
"They can't bluff me, they'll have to guess again. It's that
damned Holster--he hasn't any guts--he'd give in to 'em right now if
I'd let him. It's the limit the way he turned the Clarendon over to
them. I'll show him how to put a crimp in 'em if they don't turn up
here to-morrow morning."
He was so magnificently sure of her sympathy! She did, not reply,
but picked up her coat from the chair where she had laid it.
"Where are you going?" he demanded. And she replied laconically,
"Wait a minute," he said, rising and taking a step toward her.
"You have an appointment with the Mayor," she reminded him.
"I know," he said, glancing at the clock over the door. " Where
have you been? --where were you this morning? I was worried about
you, I--I was afraid you might be sick."
"Were you?" she said. "I'm all right. I had business in Boston."
"Why didn't you telephone me? In Boston?" he repeated.
She nodded. He started forward again, but she avoided him.
"What's the matter?" he cried. "I've been worried about you all
day-- until this damned strike broke loose. I was afraid something
"You might have asked my father," she said.
"For God's sake, tell me what's the matter!"
His desire for her mounted as his conviction grew more acute that
something had happened to disturb a relationship which, he had
congratulated himself, after many vicissitudes and anxieties had at
last been established. He was conscious, however, of irritation
because this whimsical and unanticipated grievance of hers should have
developed at the moment when the caprice of his operatives threatened
to interfere with his cherished plans--for Ditmar measured the
inconsistencies of humanity by the yardstick of his desires. Her
question as to why he had not made inquiries of her father added a new
element to his disquietude. As he stood thus, worried, exasperated,
and perplexed, the fact that there was in her attitude something
ominous, dangerous, was slow to dawn on him. His faculties were
wholly unprepared for the blow she struck him.
"I hate you!" she said. She did not raise her voice, but the
deliberate, concentrated conviction she put into the sentence gave it
the dynamic quality of a bullet. And save for the impact of
it--before which he physically recoiled--its import was momentarily
"What?" he exclaimed, stupidly.
"I might have known you never meant to marry me," she went on. Her
hands were busy with the buttons of her coat.
"All you want is to use me, to enjoy me and turn me out when you
get tired of me--the way you've done with other women. It's just the
same with these mill hands, they're not human beings to you,
they're--they're cattle. If they don't do as you like, you turn them
out; you say they can starve for all you care."
"For God's sake, what do you mean?" he demanded. "What have I done
to you, Janet? I love you, I need you!"
"Love me!" she repeated. "I know how men of your sort love--I've
seen it--I know. As long as I give you what you want and don't bother
you, you love me. And I know how these workers feel," she cried, with
sudden, passionate vehemence. "I never knew before, but I know now.
I've been with them, I marched up here with them from the Clarendon
when they battered in the gates and smashed your windows--and I wanted
to smash your windows, too, to blow up your mill."
"What are you saying? You came here with the strikers? you were
with that mob?" asked Ditmar, astoundedly.
"Yes, I was in that mob. I belong there, with them, I tell you--I
don't belong here, with you. But I was a fool even then, I was afraid
they'd hurt you, I came into the mill to find you, and you--and you
you acted as if you'd never seen me before. I was a fool, but I'm
glad I came--I'm glad I had a chance to tell you this."
"My God--won't you trust me?" he begged, with a tremendous effort
to collect himself. "You trusted me yesterday. What's happened to
change you? Won't you tell me? It's nothing I've done--I swear. And
what do you mean when you say you were in that mob? I was almost
crazy when I came back and found they'd been here in this mill--can't
you understand? It wasn't that I didn't think of you. I'd been
worrying about you all day. Look at this thing sensibly. I love you,
I can't get along without you--I'll marry you. I said I would, I
meant it I'll marry you just as soon as I can clean up this mess of a
strike. It won't take long."
"Don't touch me!" she commanded, and he recoiled again. "I'll tell
you where I've been, if you want to know,--I've been to see my sister
in--in a house, in Boston. I guess you know what kind of a house I
mean, you've been in them, you've brought women to them,--just like
the man that brought her there. Would you marry me now--with my
sister there? And am I any different from her? You you've made me
just like her." Her voice had broken, now, into furious, uncontrolled
weeping--to which she paid no heed.
Ditmar was stunned; he could only stare at her.
"If I have a child," she said, "I'll--I'll kill you--I'll kill
And before he could reply--if indeed he had been able to reply--she
had left the office and was running down the stairs....
What was happening to Hampton? Some hundreds of ignorant
foreigners, dissatisfied with the money in their pay envelopes, had
marched out of the Clarendon Mill and attacked the Chippering and
behold, the revered structure of American Government had quivered and
tumbled down like a pack of cards! Despite the feverish assurances in
the Banner "extra" that the disturbance was merely local and
temporary, solid citizens became panicky, vaguely apprehending the
release of elemental forces hitherto unrecognized and unknown. Who
was to tell these solid, educated business men that the crazy
industrial Babel they had helped to rear, and in which they
unconsciously dwelt, was no longer the simple edifice they thought it?
that Authority, spelled with a capital, was a thing of the past? that
human instincts suppressed become explosives to displace the strata of
civilization and change the face of the world? that conventions and
institutions, laws and decrees crumble before the whirlwind of human
passions? that their city was not of special, but of universal
significance? And how were these, who still believed themselves to be
dwelling under the old dispensation, to comprehend that environments
change, and changing demand new and terrible Philosophies? When night
fell on that fateful Tuesday the voice of Syndicalism had been raised
in a temple dedicated to ordered, Anglo-Saxon liberty--the Hampton
Only for a night and a day did the rebellion lack both a leader and
a philosophy. Meanwhile, in obedience to the unerring instinct for
drama peculiar to great metropolitan dailies, newspaper correspondents
were alighting from every train, interviewing officials and members of
labour unions and mill agents: interviewing Claude Ditmar, the
strongest man in Hampton that day. He at least knew what ought to be
done, and even before his siren broke the silence of the morning hours
in vigorous and emphatic terms he had informed the Mayor and Council
of their obvious duty. These strikers were helots, unorganized scum;
the regular unions-- by comparison respectable--held aloof from them.
Here, in effect, was his argument: a strong show of force was
imperative; if the police and deputies were inadequate, request the
Governor to call out the local militia; but above all, waste no time,
arrest the ringleaders, the plotters, break up all gatherings, keep
the streets clear. He demanded from the law protection of his
property, protection for those whose right to continue at work was
inalienable. He was listened to with sympathy and respect--but
nothing was done! The world had turned upside down indeed if the City
Government of Hampton refused to take the advice of the agent of the
Chippering Mill! American institutions were a failure! But such was
the fact. Some unnamed fear, outweighing their dread of the
retributions of Capital, possessed these men, made them supine,
derelict in the face of their obvious duty.
By the faint grey light of that bitter January morning Ditmar made
his way to the mill. In Faber Street dark figures flitted silently
across the ghostly whiteness of the snow, and gathered in groups on
the corners; seeking to avoid these, other figures hurried along the
sidewalks close to the buildings, to be halted, accosted, pleaded
with--threatened, perhaps. Picketing had already begun! The effect
of this pantomime of the eternal struggle for survivals which he at
first beheld from a distance, was to exaggerate appallingly the
emptiness of the wide street, to emphasize the absence of shoppers and
vehicles; and a bluish darkness lurked in the stores, whose plate
glass windows were frosted in quaint designs. Where were the police?
It was not fear that Ditmar felt, he was galvanized and dominated by
anger, by an overwhelming desire for action; physical combat would
have brought him relief, and as he quickened his steps he itched to
seize with his own hands these foreigners who had dared to interfere
with his cherished plans, who had had the audacity to challenge the
principles of his government which welcomed them to its shores. He
would have liked to wring their necks. His philosophy, too, was
environmental. And beneath this wrath, stimulating and energizing it
the more, was the ache in his soul from the loss for which he held
these enemies responsible. Two days ago happiness and achievement had
both been within his grasp. The only woman--so now it seemed--he had
ever really wanted! What had become of her? What obscure and
passionate impulse had led her suddenly to defy and desert him, to
cast in her lot with these insensate aliens? A hundred times during
the restless, inactive hours of a sleepless night this question had
intruded itself in the midst of his scheming to break the strike, as
he reviewed, word by word, act by act, that almost incomprehensible
revolt of hers which had followed so swiftly--a final, vindictive blow
of fate--on that other revolt of the workers. At moments he became
confused, unable to separate the two. He saw her fire in that
other.... Her sister, she had said, had been disgraced; she had defied
him to marry her in the face of that degradation--and this suddenly
had sickened him. He had let her go. What a fool he had been to let
her go! Had she herself been--! He did not finish this thought.
Throughout the long night he had known, for a certainty, that this
woman was a vital part of him, flame of his flame. Had he never seen
her he would have fought these strikers to their knees, but now the
force of this incentive was doubled. He would never yield until he
had crushed them, until he had reconquered her.
He was approaching one of the groups of strikers, and unconsciously
he slowed his steps. The whites of his eyes reddened. The great coat
of golden fur he wore gave to his aspect an added quality of
formidableness. There were some who scattered as he drew near, and of
the less timorous spirits that remained only a few raised dark, sullen
glances to encounter his, which was unflinching, passionately
contemptuous. Throughout the countless generations that lay behind
them the instinct of submission had played its dominant, phylogenetic
role. He was the Master. The journey across the seas had not changed
that. A few shivered--not alone because they were thinly clad. He
walked on, slowly, past other groups, turned the corner of West
Street, where the groups were more numerous, while the number of those
running the gantlet had increased. And he heard, twice or thrice, the
word "Scab!" cried out menacingly. His eyes grew redder still as he
spied a policeman standing idly in a doorway.
"Why in hell don't you do your duty?" he demanded. "What do you
mean by letting them interfere with these workers?"
The man flinched. He was apologetic. "So long as they're
peaceable, Mr. Ditmar--those are my orders. I do try to keep 'em
"Your orders? You're a lot of damned cowards," Ditmar replied, and
went on. There were mutterings here; herded together, these slaves
were bolder; and hunger and cold, discouragement at not being able to
stop the flow toward the mills were having their effect. By the
frozen canal, the scene of the onslaught of yesterday, the crowd had
grown comparatively thick, and at the corner of the lodginghouse row
Ditmar halted a moment, unnoticed save by a few who nudged one another
and murmured. He gave them no attention, he was trying to form an
estimate of the effect of the picketing on his own operatives. Some
came with timid steps; others, mostly women, fairly ran; still others
were self-possessed, almost defiant--and such he marked. There were
those who, when the picketers held them by the sleeve, broke
precipitately from their annoyers, and those who hesitated, listening
with troubled faces, with feelings torn between dread of hunger for
themselves and their children and sympathy with the revolt. A small
number joined the ranks of the picketers. Ditmar towered above these
foreigners, who were mostly undersized: a student of human nature and
civilization, free from industrial complexes, would from that point of
vantage have had much to gather from the expressions coming within his
view, but to Ditmar humanity was a means to an end. Suddenly, from
the cupolas above the battlement of the mill, the bells shattered the
early morning air, the remnant of the workers hastened across the
canal and through the guarded gates, which were instantly closed.
Ditmar was left alone among the strikers. As he moved toward the
bridge they made a lane for him to pass; one or two he thrust out of
his way. But there were mutterings, and from the sidewalk he heard a
man curse him.
Perhaps we shall understand some day that the social body, also, is
subject to the operation of cause and effect. It was not what an
ingenuous orthodoxy, keeping alive the fate of the ancient city from
which Lot fled, would call the wrath of heaven that visited Hampton,
although a sermon on these lines was delivered from more than one of
her pulpits on the following Sunday. Let us surmise, rather, that a
decrepit social system in a moment of lowered vitality becomes an easy
prey to certain diseases which respectable communities are not
supposed to have. The germ of a philosophy evolved in decadent Europe
flies across the sea to prey upon a youthful and vigorous America,
lodging as host wherever industrial strife has made congenial soil.
In four and twenty hours Hampton had "caught" Syndicalism. All day
Tuesday, before the true nature of the affection was developed,
prominent citizens were outraged and appalled by the supineness of
their municipal phagocytes. Property, that sacred fabric of
government, had been attacked and destroyed, law had been defied, and
yet the City Hall, the sanctuary of American tradition, was turned
over to the alien mob for a continuous series of mass meetings. All
day long that edifice, hitherto chastely familiar with American
doctrine alone, with patriotic oratory, with perorations that dwelt
upon the wrongs and woes of Ireland--part of our national
propaganda--all day long that edifice rang with strange, exotic
speech, sometimes guttural, often musical, but always impassioned,
weirdly cadenced and intoned. From the raised platform, in place of
the shrewd, matter-of-fact New England politician alive to the
vote--getting powers of Fourth of July patriotism, in place of the
vehement but fun-loving son of Erin, men with wild, dark faces, with
burning black eyes and unkempt hair, unshaven, flannel skirted--made
more alien, paradoxically, by their conventional, ready-made American
clothes--gave tongue to the inarticulate aspirations of the peasant
drudge of Europe. From lands long steeped in blood they came, from
low countries by misty northern seas, from fair and ancient plains of
Lombardy, from Guelph and Ghibelline hamlets in the Apennines, from
vine-covered slopes in Sicily and Greece; from the Balkans, from
Caucasus and Carpathia, from the mountains of Lebanon, whose cedars
lined the palaces of kings; and from villages beside swollen rivers
that cross the dreary steppes. Each peasant listened to a recital in
his own tongue--the tongue in which the folklore, the cradle sayings
of his race had been preserved--of the common wrongs of all, of misery
still present, of happiness still unachieved in this land of liberty
and opportunity they had found a mockery; to appeals to endure and
suffer for a common cause. But who was to weld together this medley
of races and traditions, to give them the creed for which their
passions were prepared, to lead into battle these ignorant and
unskilled from whom organized labour held aloof? Even as dusk was
falling, even as the Mayor, the Hon. Michael McGrath, was making from
the platform an eloquent plea for order and peace, promising a
Committee of Arbitration and thinking about soldiers, the leader and
the philosophy were landing in Hampton.
The "five o'clock" edition of the Banner announced him, Antonio
Antonelli, of the Industrial Workers of the World! An ominous name,
an ominous title,--compared by a wellknown publicist to the sound of a
fire- bell in the night. The Industrial Workers, not of America, but
of the World! No wonder it sent shivers down the spine of Hampton!
The writer of the article in the Banner was unfamiliar with the words
"syndicalism" and "sabotage," or the phrase "direct action," he was
too young to know the history of the Knights, he had never heard of a
philosophy of labour, or of Sorel or Pouget, but the West he had heard
of,--the home of lawlessness, of bloodshed, rape, and murder. For
obvious reasons he did not betray this opinion, but for him the I.W.W.
was born in the West, where it had ravaged and wrecked communities.
His article was guardedly respectful, but he ventured to remind his
readers that Mr. Antonelli had been a leader in some of these titanic
struggles between crude labour and capital--catastrophes that hitherto
had seemed to the citizens of Hampton as remote as Kansas cyclones....
Some of the less timorous of the older inhabitants, curious to
learn what doctrine this interloper had to proclaim, thrust their way
that evening into the City Hall, which was crowded, as the papers
said, "to suffocation." Not prepossessing, this modern Robespierre;
younger than he looked, for life had put its mark on him; once, in the
days of severe work in the mines, his body had been hard, and now had
grown stout. In the eyes of a complacent, arm-chair historian he must
have appeared one of the, strange and terrifying creatures which, in
times of upheaval, are thrust from the depths of democracies to the
surface, with gifts to voice the longings and passions of those below.
He did not blink in the light; he was sure of himself, he had a creed
and believed in it; he gazed around him with the leonine stare of the
conqueror, and a hush came over the hall as he arose. His speech was
taken down verbatim, to be submitted to the sharpest of legal eyes,
when was discovered the possession of a power--rare among
agitators--to pour forth in torrents apparently unpremeditated
appeals, to skirt the border of sedition and never transgress it, to
weigh his phrases before he gave them birth, and to remember them. If
he said an incendiary thing one moment he qualified it the next; he
justified violence only to deprecate it; and months later, when on
trial for his life and certain remarks were quoted against him, he
confounded his prosecutors by demanding the contexts. Skilfully,
always within the limits of their intelligence, he outlined to his
hearers his philosophy and proclaimed it as that of the world's
oppressed. Their cause was his--the cause of human progress; he
universalized, it. The world belonged to the "producer," if only he
had the courage to take possession of his own....
Suddenly the inspirer was transformed into the man of affairs who
calmly proposed the organization of a strike committee, three members
of which were to be chosen by each nationality. And the resolution,
translated into many tongues, was adopted amidst an uproar of
enthusiasm. Until that moment the revolt had been personal, local,
founded on a particular grievance which had to do with wages and the
material struggle for existence. Now all was changed; now they were
convinced that the deprivation and suffering to which they had pledged
themselves were not for selfish ends alone, but also vicarious,
dedicated to the liberation of all the downtrodden of the earth.
Antonelli became a saviour; they reached out to touch him as he
passed; they trooped into the snowy street, young men and old, and
girls, and women holding children in their arms, their faces alight
with something never known or felt before.
Such was Antonelli to the strikers. But to those staid residents
of Hampton who had thought themselves still to be living in the old
New England tradition, he was the genius of an evil dream. Hard on
his heels came a nightmare troop, whose coming brought to the
remembrance of the imaginative the old nursery rhyme:--
"Hark! Hark! The dogs do bark, The beggars are come to town."
It has, indeed, a knell-like ring. Do philosophies tend also to
cast those who adopt them into a mould? These were of the self-same
breed, indubitably the followers of Antonelli. The men wore their
hair long, affected, like their leader, soft felt hats and loose black
ties that fell over the lapels of their coats. Loose morals and loose
ties! The projection of these against a Puritan background ties
symbolical of everything the Anglo-Saxon shudders at and abhors; of
anarchy and mob rule, of bohemia and vagabondia, of sedition and
murder, of Latin revolutions and reigns of terror; of sex
irregularity--not of the clandestine sort to be found in decent
communities--but of free love that flaunts itself in the face of an
outraged public. For there were women in the band. All this, and
more, the invaders suggested--atheism, unfamiliarity with soap and
water, and, more vaguely, an exotic poetry and art that to the virile
of American descent is saturated with something indefinable yet
abhorrent. Such things are felt. Few of the older citizens of
Hampton were able to explain why something rose in their gorges, why
they experienced a new and clammy quality of fear and repulsion when,
on the day following Antonelli's advent, these strangers arrived from
nowhere to install themselves--with no baggage to speak of-- in
Hampton's more modest but hitherto respectable hostelries. And no
sooner had the city been rudely awakened to the perilous presence, in
overwhelming numbers, of ignorant and inflammable foreigners than
these turned up and presumed to lead the revolt, to make capital out
of it, to interpret it in terms of an exotic and degenerate creed.
Hampton would take care of itself--or else the sovereign state within
whose borders it was would take care of it. And his Honour the Mayor,
who had proclamed his faith in the reasonableness of the strikers, who
had scorned the suggestions of indignant inhabitants that the Governor
be asked for soldiers, twenty-four hours too late arranged for the
assembly of three companies of local militia in the armory, and swore
in a hundred extra police.
The hideous stillness of Fillmore Street was driving Janet mad.
What she burned to do was to go to Boston and take a train for
somewhere in the West, to lose herself, never to see Hampton again.
But--there was her mother. She could not leave Hannah in these empty
rooms, alone; and Edward was to remain at the mill, to eat and sleep
there, until the danger of the strike had passed. A messenger had
come to fetch his clothes. After leaving Ditmar in the office of the
mill, Janet crept up the dark stairs to the flat and halted in the
hallway. Through the open doorway of the dining-room she saw Hannah
seated on the horsehair sofa-- for the first time within memory idle
at this hour of the day. Nothing else could have brought home to her
like this the sheer tragedy of their plight. Until then Janet had
been sustained by anger and excitement, by physical action. She
thought Hannah was staring at her; after a moment it seemed that the
widened pupils were fixed in fascination on something beyond, on the
Thing that had come to dwell here with them forever.
Janet entered the room. She sat down on the sofa and took her
mother's hand in hers. And Hannah submitted passively. Janet could
not speak. A minute might have passed, and the silence, which neither
had broken, acquired an intensity that to Janet became unbearable.
Never had the room been so still! Her glance, raised instinctively
to the face of the picture-clock, saw the hands pointing to ten.
Every Monday morning, as far back as she could recall, her father had
wound it before going to work--and to-day he had forgotten. Getting
up, she opened the glass door, and stood trying to estimate the hour:
it must be, she thought, about six. She set the hands, took the key
from the nail above the shelf, wound up the weight, and started the
pendulum. And the sound of familiar ticking was a relief, releasing
at last her inhibited powers of speech.
"Mother," she said, "I'll get some supper for you."
On Hannah, these simple words had a seemingly magical effect.
Habit reasserted itself. She started, and rose almost briskly.
"No you won't," she said, "I'll get it. I'd ought to have thought
of it before. You must be tired and hungry."
Her voice was odd and thin. Janet hesitated a moment, and ceded.
"Well, I'll set the dishes on the table, anyway."
Janet had sought refuge, wistfully, in the commonplace. And when
the meal was ready she strove to eat, though food had become
"You must take something, mother," she said.
"I don't feel as if I ever wanted to eat anything again," she
"I know," said Janet, "but you've got to." And she put some of the
cold meat, left over from Sunday's dinner, on Hannah's plate. Hannah
took up a fork, and laid it down again. Suddenly she said:--
"You saw Lise?"
"Yes," said Janet.
"Where is she?"
"In a house--in Boston."
"One of--those houses?"
"I--I don't know," said Janet. "I think so."
"You went there?"
"Mr. Tiernan went with me."
"She wouldn't come home?"
"Not--not just now, mother."
"You left her there, in that place? You didn't make her come
The sudden vehemence of this question, the shrill note of reproach
in Hannah's voice that revealed, even more than the terrible inertia
from which she had emerged, the extent of her suffering, for the
instant left Janet utterly dismayed. "Oh mother!" she exclaimed. "I
Hannah pushed back her chair.
"I'll go to her, I'll make her come. She's disgraced us, but I'll
make her. Where is she? Where is the house?"
Janet, terrified, seized her mother's arm. Then she said:--
"Lise isn't there any more--she's gone away."
"Away and you let her go away? You let your sister go away and be
a--a woman of the town? You never loved her--you never had any pity
Tears sprang into Janet's eyes--tears of pity mingled with anger.
The situation had grown intolerable! Yet how could she tell Hannah
where Lise was!
"You haven't any right to say that, mother!" she cried. "I did my
best. She wouldn't come. I--I can't tell you where she's gone, but
she promised to write, to send me her address."
"Lise" Hannah's cry seemed like the uncomprehending whimper of a
stricken child, and then a hidden cadence made itself felt, a cadence
revealing to Janet with an eloquence never before achieved the mystery
of mother love, and by some magic of tone was evoked a new image of
Lise--of Lise as she must be to Hannah. No waywardness, no
degradation or disgrace could efface it. The infant whom Hannah had
clutched to her breast, the woman, her sister, whom Janet had seen
that day were one--immutably one. This, then, was what it meant to be
a mother! All the years of deadening hope had not availed to kill the
craving--even in this withered body it was still alive and quick. The
agony of that revelation was scarcely to be borne. And it seemed that
Lise, even in the place where she was, must have heard that cry and
heeded it. And yet--the revelation of Lise's whereabouts, of Lise's
contemplated act Janet had nearly been goaded into making, died on her
lips. She could not tell Hannah! And Lise's child must not come into
a world like this. Even now the conviction remained, fierce,
exultant, final. But if Janet had spoken now Hannah would not have
heard her. Under the storm she had begun to rock, weeping
convulsively.... But gradually her weeping ceased. And to Janet,
helplessly watching, this process of congealment was more terrible
even than the release that only an unmitigated violence of grief had
been able to produce. In silence Hannah resumed her shrunken duties,
and when these were finished sat awhile, before going to bed, her
hands lying listless in her lap. She seemed to have lived for
centuries, to have exhausted the gamut of suffering which, save for
that one wild outburst, had been the fruit of commonplace, passive,
sordid tragedy that knows no touch of fire....
The next morning Janet was awakened by the siren. Never, even in
the days when life had been routine and commonplace, had that sound
failed to arouse in her a certain tremor of fear; with its first
penetrating shriek, terror invaded her: then, by degrees, overcoming
her numbness, came an agonizing realization of tragedy to be faced.
The siren blew and blew insistently, as though it never meant to
stop; and now for the first time she seemed to detect in it a note of
futility. There were those who would dare to defy it. She, for one,
would defy it. In that reflection she found a certain fierce joy.
And she might lie in bed if she wished-- how often had she longed to!
But she could not. The room was cold, appallingly empty and silent
as she hurried into her clothes. The dining-room lamp was lighted,
the table set, her mother was bending over the stove when she reached
the kitchen. After the pretence of breakfast was gone through Janet
sought relief in housework, making her bed, tidying her room. It was
odd, this morning, how her notice of little, familiar things had the
power to add to her pain, brought to mind memories become excruciating
as she filled the water pitcher from the kitchen tap she found herself
staring at the nick broken out of it when Lise had upset it. She
recalled Lise's characteristically flippant remark. And there was the
streak in the wall-paper caused one night by the rain leaking through
the roof. After the bed was made and the room swept she stood a
moment, motionless, and then, opening the drawer in the wardrobe took
from it the rose which she had wrapped in tissue paper and hidden
there, and with a perverse desire as it were to increase the
bitterness consuming her, to steep herself in pain, she undid the
parcel and held the withered flower to her face. Even now a
fragrance, faint yet poignant, clung to it.... She wrapped it up
again, walked to the window, hesitated, and then with a sudden
determination to destroy this sole relic of her happiness went to the
kitchen and flung it into the stove. Hannah, lingering over her
morning task of cleaning, did not seem to notice the act. Janet
turned to her.
"I think I'll go out for a while, mother," she said.
"You'd ought to," Hannah replied. "There's no use settin' around
The silence of the flat was no longer to be endured. And Janet,
putting on her coat and hat, descended the stairs. Not once that
morning had her mother mentioned Lise; nor had she asked about her own
plans--about Ditmar. This at least was a relief; it was the question
she had feared most. In the street she met the postman.
"I have a letter for you, Miss Janet," he said. And on the pink
envelope he handed her, in purple ink, she recognized the unformed,
childish handwriting of Lise. "There's great doings down at the City
Hall," the postman added "the foreigners are holding mass meetings
there." Janet scarcely heard him as she tore open the envelope. "Dear
Janet," the letter ran. "The doctor told me I had a false alarm,
there was nothing to it. Wouldn't that jar you? Boston's a slow
burg, and there's no use of my staying here now. I'm going to New
York, and maybe I'll come back when I've had a look at the great white
way. I've got the coin, and I gave him the mit to-night. If you
haven't anything better to do, drop in at the Bagatelle and give
Walters my love, and tell them not to worry at home. There's no use
trying to trail me. Your affectionate sister Lise."
Janet thrust the letter in her pocket. Then she walked rapidly
westward until she came to the liver-coloured faeade of the City Hall,
opposite the Common. Pushing through the crowd of operatives
lingering on the pavement in front of it, she entered the building....