by Maud Wilder Goodwin
CHAPTER I. THE
DAY OF SMALL
CHAPTER III. OLD
CHAPTER IV. THE
CHAPTER V. THE
CHAPTER VI. THE
CHAPTER VII. ON
THE MARY ANN
CHAPTER IX. NORA
CHAPTER XI. THE
POINT OF VIEW
CHAPTER XIII. A
CHAPTER XIV. TWO
CHAPTER XV. A
CHAPTER XVI. YES
CHAPTER XVII. A
CHAPTER XVIII. A
CHAPTER XIX. A
CHAPTER XX. THE
CHAPTER I. THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS
Say not 'a small event.' Why 'small'?
Costs it more pain that this ye call
'A great event' should come to pass
Than that? Untwine me from the mass
Of deeds which make up life, one deed
Power should fall short in, or exceed.
The following chapter is an Extract from the Journal
of Miss Susan Standish, dated Nepaug, July 1, 189-.
We are a house-party.
To be sure we find pinned to our cushions on Saturday nights a
grayish slip of paper, uncertain of size and ragged of edge, stating
with characteristic New England brevity and conciseness the amount of
our indebtedness to our hostess; but what of that? The guests in those
stately villas whose lights twinkle at us on clear evenings from the
point along the coast, have their scores to settle likewise, and though
the account is rendered less regularly, it is settled less easily and
for my part, I prefer our Nepaug plan.
We are congenial.
I don't know why we should be, except that no one expects it of us.
We have no tie, sacred or secular, to bind our hearts in Christian
love. We have in fact few points in common, save good birth, good
breeding, and the ability to pay our board-bills as they fall due; but
nevertheless we coalesce admirably.
We are Bohemian.
That is, our souls are above the standards of fashion, and our
incomes below them, and of such is the kingdom of Bohemia. A life near
to Nature's heart, at eight dollars a week, appeals to us all alike.
We are cross.
Yes, there is no denying it. Not one of us has escaped the
irritation of temper naturally resulting from ten days experience of
the fog which has been clinging with suffocating affection to earth and
sea, putting an end to outdoor sport and indoor comfort, taking the
curl out of hair, the starch out of dresses, the sweetness out of
dispositions, and hanging like a pall over all efforts at jollity.
Irritation shows itself differently in each individual of our
community. As is the temperament, so is the temper.
Master Jimmy Anstice, aged twelve, spends his time in beating a
tattoo on the sofa-legs with the backs of his heels. His father says:
Stop that! at regular intervals with much sharpness of manner; but
lacks the persistent vitality to enforce his command.
My nephew, Ben Bradford, permanently a resident of Oldburyport, and
temporarily of Cambridge, sits in a grandfather's chair in the corner,
Civil Government in his lap, and Good-Bye, Sweetheart, in his hand.
Even this profound work cannot wholly absorb his attention; for he
fidgets, and looks up every few minutes as if he expected the sunshine
to walk in, and feared that he might miss its first appearance.
I, for occupation, have betaken myself to writing in this diary,
having caught myself cheating at solitaire,a deed I scorn when I am
at my best.
Doctor Cricket, his hands nervously clasped behind him, has been
walking up and down the room, now overlooking my game and remonstrating
against the liberties I was taking with the cards (as if I had not a
right to cheat myself if I like!) and then flying off to peer through
his gold-bowed spectacles at the hygrometer, which will not budge,
though he thrusts out his chin-whisker at it for the fortieth time.
The weather is in a nasty, chilly sweat, he says grumpily; if it
were my patient, I would roll it in a blanket, and put it to bed with
ten grains of quinine.
Not being your patient, and not being dosed with quinine, it may be
better to-morrow, Ben retorts saucily.
Ordinarily, the Doctor takes Ben's sallies with good-humored
contempt. To-day, he is in other mood. He smilesalways a bad sign
with him, as the natural expression of his truly benignant mood is a
fierce little terrier-like frown.
My poor boy! he says sympathetically. The brain is going fast, I
observe. Steep a love-story, and apply it over the affected part!
I see Ben wrestling with a retort; but before he has it to his mind,
something happens. The door opens and a girl enters. Ben's face lights
up. The sunshine has come.
There is something more than a suggestion of sunshine about Winifred
Anstice, even to those of us who are neither of the age nor the sex to
fall under the glamour of sentimental illusions. I have often
speculated on the precise nature of her charm, without being able to
satisfy myself. She is not so extraordinarily pretty, though her hair
ripples away from her forehead after the American classic fashion, to
which style also belongs the little nose, straight in itself, but set
on at an angle from the brow, which, to my thinking, forms a pleasing
variation from the heavier, antique type. The classic repose is wholly
lacking. The eyes are arch, bright, and a little daring; the mouth
always on the verge of laughter, which is not quite agreeable, for
sometimes when there is no visible cause for amusement, it gives one an
uncomfortable feeling that perhaps he is being laughed at unbeknown,
and a person need not be very stingy not to relish a joke at his
Perhaps this sounds as if Winifred were hard, which she is not, and
unsympathetic, which she never could be; but it is not that at all. It
comes, I think, of a kind of bubbling over of the fun and spirits which
belong to perfect physical condition and which few girls have nowadays.
I suppose I ought not to wonder if a little of this vigor clings to her
manner, making it not hoidenish exactly, but different from the manner
of Beacon Street girls, who, after all said and done, have certainly
the best breeding of any girls the world over. Ben doesn't admire
Boston young ladies; but then he hates girls who are what he calls
stiff, as much as I dislike those whom he commends as easy. Of
course he gets on admirably with Winifred, who accepts his adoration as
a matter of course, and rewards him with a semi-occasional smile, or a
friendly note in her voice.
After all, Winifred's chief charm lies in her voice. For myself, I
confess to a peculiar sensitiveness in the matter of voices,an
unfortunate peculiarity for one condemned to spend her life in a
sea-board town of the United States. Like Ulysses, I have endured
greatly, have suffered greatly; but when this girl speaks, I am repaid.
I often lose the sense of what she is saying, in the pure physical
pleasure of listening to her speech. It has in it a suggestion of joy,
and little delicate trills of hidden laughter which, after all, is not
laughter, but rather the mingling of a reminiscence and an anticipation
of mirth. I cannot conceive where she picked up such a voice, any more
than where she came by that carriage of the head, and that manner,
gracious, yet imperative like a young queen's. Professor Anstice is a
worthy man and a learned scholar; but the grand air is not acquired
How glum you all look! Winifred exclaims, as she looks in upon us.
At his daughter's entrance, the face of Professor Anstice relaxes by
a wrinkle or two; but he answers her words as academically as though
she had been one of his class in English.
Glum is hardly the word, my dear; it conveys the impression
Precisely, persists Mistress Winifred, not to be put down, that
is just the idea you all convey to me.
Why shouldn't we be unamiable, answers Ben, eager to get into the
conversation, when there is nothing to amuse us, and you go off
upstairs to write letters?
You should follow my example, and do something. When I went
upstairs Miss Standish was in a terrible temper, scowling at the ace of
spades as if it were her natural enemy; but since she has taken to
writing in that little green diary that she never will let me peep
into, she has a positively beatified, not to say sanctified,
expression. And there is Ellen Davitt hard at work too, and as cheerful
as a squirreljust listen to her!
With this the girl stands still, and we listen. The waitress in the
next room, apparently in the blithest of spirits, is setting the
tea-table to the accompaniment of her favorite tune, sung in a high,
sharp, nasal voice, and emphasized by the slapping down of plates.
Tell me one thingtell me trooly;
Tell me why you scorn me so.
Tell me why, when asked the question,
You will always answer 'No'
No, sir! No, sir! No-o-o, sirNo!
The voice is lost in the pantry. Smiles dawn upon all our faces.
A beautiful illustration of the power of imagination! says Dr.
Cricket. Ellen is contentedly doing the housework because she fancies
herself an heiress haughtily repulsing a host of suitors. It is the
same spirit which keeps the poet cheerful in his garret, or a young
Napoleon in his cellar, where he dines on a crust and fancies himself
Steep an illustration and apply it over the affected part! drawls
The Doctor prepares to be angry; but Winifred, scenting the battle
and eager to keep the peace, claps her hands and cries out,
Excellent! with that pretty enthusiasm which makes the author of a
remark feel that there must have been more in his observation than he
himself had discovered.
There, Ben, if you are wise you will act on this clever suggestion
of Dr. Cricket's, and travel off to the land of fancy, where you can
make the weather to suit yourself, where fogs never fall, and fish
always bite, and sails always fill with breezes from the right quarter,
and whiff about at a convenient moment when you want to come homeoh,
I say! she adds with a joyful upward inflection, there's the sun, and
I am going for the mail.
I'll go with you, volunteers Master Ben.
Thank you, but Mr. Marsden said that I might drive his colt in the
Not the colt! we all cry in chorus.
The colt, she answers with decision.
Not in the sulky?
Yes, in the sulky.
Surely, Professor Anstice I begin; but before I have time for
more, Winifred is out of the room, and reappears, after ten minutes,
strangely transformed by her short corduroy skirt and gaiters, her cap
and gauntleted gloves, to a Lady Gay Spanker. I do not like to see her
so; but then I am fifty years old, and I live in Massachusetts. Perhaps
my aversion to the sporting proclivities of the modern woman is only an
inheritance of the prejudices of my ancestors, who thought all worldly
amusements sinful, and worst of all in a woman. Even the Mayflower
saints and heroes had their cast-iron limitations, and we can't escape
from them, try as we will. We may throw over creed and catechism; but
inherited instinct remains. The shadow of Plymouth Rock is over us all.
Just here I look up to see Winifred spin along the road before the
house, seated in a yellow-wheeled sulky, behind the most unmanageable
colt on this side of the Mississippi, as I verily believe. Of course
Mr. Marsden is very glad to have the breaking process taken off his
hands; but if I were Professor Anstice I don't think I should like to
have my daughter take up the profession of a jockey. I must admit,
however, that she looks well in that tight-fitting jacket, with the bit
of scarlet at her throat, and her hair rippling up over the edges of
her gray cap.
I wonder why I chronicle all this small beer about Winifred Anstice
and old Marsden's colt. I suppose because nothing really worth noting
has occurred, and it is not for nothing that a diary is called a
commonplace book. I find that if I wait for clever thoughts and
important events, my journal shows portentous gaps at the end of the
week, and I promised myself that I would write something in it every
day while I was at Nepaug. For my part, I enjoy the old-fashioned
diary,a sort of almanac, confessional, receipt-book, and daily paper
rolled together; so I will just go on in my humdrum way. As it is only
for myself, I need not fear to be as garrulous and egotistical as I
please. Besides, a journal is such a good escape-valve for one's
feelings! Having written them out, one is so much less impelled to
confide them, and confidences are generally a mistakeyes, I am sure
of it. They only intensify feelings, and at my age that is not
desirable. At twenty, we put spurs into our emotions. At fifty, we put
poultices onto them.
CHAPTER II. MINGLED YARN
The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.
The road from the station at South East to Nepaug Beach was long and
dusty, tedious enough to the traveller at any time, but especially on
this July afternoon when the sun beat down pitilessly upon its arid
stretches, and the dust, stirred by passing wheels, rose in choking
Jonathan Flint, however, surveyed the uninteresting length of
highway with grim satisfaction. It was the inaccessibility and general
lack of popular attractions which had led him to select Nepaug as a
summering place. Mosquitoes and sand-fleas abounded; but one need not
say good-morning to mosquitoes and sand-fleas, it is true. The fare
at the inn was poor; but one was spared that exchange of inanities
which makes the average hotel appear a kindergarten for a lunatic
asylum; and, finally, the tediousness of the journey was a safeguard
against the far greater tedium resulting from the companionship of
nauseous intruders, striding in white duck, or simpering under
The horse which was drawing the ramshackle carryall in which Flint
sat, toiled on with sweating haunches, switching his tail, impatient of
the flies, and now and then shaking his head deprecatingly, as if in
remonstrance against the fate which destined him to work so hard for
the benefit of a lazy human being reclining at ease behind him.
Flint was, indeed, the image of slothful content, as he sat silent
by the side of old Marsden, who drove like a woman, with a rein in each
hand, twitching them uselessly from time to time, and clucking like a
hen to urge on his horse when the sand grew unusually deep and
Ignoring his companion, or dreading perhaps to let loose the floods
of his garrulity by making any gap in the dam of silence, Flint sat
idly inspecting his fishing-tackle, shutting it up, then drawing it
out, and finally topping it with the last, light, slender tip,
quivering like the outmost delicate twig of an aspen as he shook it
over the side of the carryall. In fancy, he saw it bending beneath the
weight of a black bass such as haunted the translucent depths of a
freshwater pond a mile or two away. In fancy, he could feel the twitch
at the end of the line, then the run, then the steady pull, growing
weaker and weaker as the strength of the fish was exhausted. Suddenly
into the idler's lotus-eating Paradise came a rushing sound. A sharp
swerve of the horse was followed by an exasperating crackle, and, lo!
the beloved fishing-rod was broken,yes, broken, and that delicate,
quivering, responsive, tapering end lay trailing in the dust which
whirled in eddies around a flying vehicle.
Flint saw flashing past him a racing sulky drawn by a half-tamed
colt, and driven by a girlif indeed it was a girl and not, as he was
at first inclined to think, a boy in petticoats.
The young woman took the situation jauntily. She reined in the colt,
adjusted her jockey-cap, and pulled her dog-skin gauntlets further over
I beg your pardon, she called out as Flint's wagon overtook her.
I'm awfully sorry to have broken your rod; but I saw that we had room
to pass, and I didn't see the pole hanging out. It never occurred to
me, she added with a dimpling smile, that any one would be fishing on
the Nepaug road.
Flint had labored hard to subdue the outburst of profanity which was
the first impulse of the natural man, and had almost achieved a passing
civility, but the smile and the jest put his good resolutions to
flight. The milk of human kindness curdled within him.
You could hardly, he answered, raising his hat, have been more
surprised than I was to see a horse-race.
A trace of resentment lingered in his tone. The mirth died out of
the girl's eyes. She returned his bow quietly, leaned forward and
touched the colt with the tassel of her whip. The creature reared and
Great Heavens! exclaimed Flint, preparing to jump out and go to
Let her alone! said Marsden, with unmoved calmness, shifting the
tobacco from one side of his mouth to the other. That girl don't need
no guardeen. She's been a-drivin' raound here all summer, and I reckon
she knows more about managin' that there colt'n you do. It's my colt,
and I wouldn't let her drive it ef she didn't.
I hope to thunder you won't again, at least while I'm about, unless
you intend to pay for damage to life and property, Flint answered
By this time colt and driver had been whirled away in a cloud,
Nice kind of a girl that! said Flint to himself with savage,
solitaire sarcasm. He felt that he had appeared like a fool; and it
must be a generous soul which can forgive one who has been both cause
and witness of such humiliation. To conquer his irritation, Flint
proceeded to take his injured rod to pieces, and repack it gloomily in
its bag of green felt. When he looked up again, all petty annoyances
faded out of his mind, for there ahead of him, behind the little patch
of pines, lay the great cool, cobalt stretch of ocean, unfathomably
deep, unutterably blue.
The young man felt a vague awe and exaltation tugging at his heart.
But the only outward expression they gained was a throwing back of the
head, and a deep indrawing of the breath, followed by the quite
uninspired exclamation, Holloa, there's the ocean!
Why shouldn't it be there? inquired the practical Marsden. You
didn't think it had got up and moved inland after you left, did you?
Well, I didn't know, Flint answered carelessly. I've seen it come
in a good two hundred feet while I was here, and I couldn't tell how
far it might have been carried, allowing for its swelling emotions over
my departure. But I'm glad to see it at the old stand still; and
there's the pond too, and the cross-roads and the Nepaug Inn. I
declare, Marsden, it is like its owner,grows better looking as it
gets old and gray.
Marsden's face assumed that grim New England smile which gives
notice that a compliment has been received and its contents noted, but
that the recipient does not commit himself to undue satisfaction
Yes, he responded, the old inn weathers the winters down here
pretty middlin' well; but it's gettin' kind o' broken down, and its
doors creak in a storm like bones that's got the rheumatiz. I wish I
could afford to give it a coat o' paint.
Ah! said Flint, with a shrug, I hope, for my part, you never can!
I can see it now as it would be if you had your wayspick and span in
odious, glaring freshness, insulting the gray old ocean. The only
respectable buildings in America are those which the owner is too poor
Marsden turned sulky. He did not more than half understand Flint's
remarks; but he had a dim impression that he was being lectured, and he
did not enjoy it; few of us do.
Flint, however, was wholly unconscious of having given offence. It
would have been difficult to make him understand what there was
objectionable in his remark, and indeed the offence lay more in the
tone than in the words. Flint's sympathies were imperfect, and he had
no gift for discerning the sensitiveness which lay outside his sphere
of vision. To all that came within that rather limited range, he was
kind and considerate; beyond, he saw nothing and therefore felt
Yet he himself was keenly sensitive, especially to anything
approaching ridicule. He had not yet forgiven his parents, for
instance, for naming him Jonathan Edwards. He was perpetually alive to
the absurdity of the contrast.
What if the great Jonathan was an ancestor! Why flaunt one's
degeneracy in the face of the public? As soon as he arrived at years
of discretion, he had proceeded to drop the Jonathan from his name; but
it was continually cropping up in unexpected places to annoy him. The
very trunk strapped onto the back of the carryall, that sole-leather
trunk which had travelled with him ever since he started off as a
freshman for the university, was marked, in odiously prominent letters,
Jonathan Edwards Flint.
It provoked him now as he reflected that that female Jehu must have
seen it as she drove by. Perhaps that accounted for the suspicion of a
smile on her face. He didn't care a fig what she thought, and he longed
to tell her so.
The most tedious road has an ending, and the Nepaug highway was no
exception, except that instead of a dignified and impressive ending, it
only narrowed to a grass-grown track, and finally pulled up in the
backyard of the Nepaug Inn. The inn had stood in this same spot since
the days of Washington, and there was a tradition that he had spent a
night beneath its roof, though it puzzled even legend-mongers to invent
an errand which could have taken him there, unless he was seized with a
sudden desire for salt-water bathing, and even then it must have been
of a peculiar kind, for the inn stood far back from the ocean, at the
head of a salt-water pond, shadeless and low-banked, a mere inlet of
This pond, however, was the great attraction of Nepaug to Flint, for
in one of its coves lay an ungainly boat of which he was the happy
owner. She was a bargain, and, like most bargains, had proved a dear
purchase. True, the hull had cost only five dollars and the sails ten;
but she yawed so badly that a new rudder had become a necessity, and
that article, being imported, cost almost more than hull and sails
together. When all was done, however, and a new coat of paint applied,
Flint vowed she was worth any sixty-dollar boat on the pond. Once
afloat in The Aquidneck (for so Flint had christened her, finding her
a veritable isle of peace to his tired nerves) he seemed to become a
boy again. The Jonathan in him got the upper hand. All the
super-subtleties of self-analysis which in other conditions paralyzed
his will, and congealed his manner, gave place here to the genial glow
of careless happiness.
It was his fate to be dominated alternately through life by the
differing strains in his blood: one, flowing through the veins of the
old Puritans, chilled by the creed of Calvin; the other, of a more
expansive strain perpetually mocking the strenuousness of its companion
mood. Flint's friends were wont to say, Flint will do something some
day. His enemies, or rather his indifferents, scoffingly asked, What
has Flint ever done anyway? Flint himself would have answered,
Nothing, my friends, less than nothing; but more than you, because he
is aware that he has done nothing.
The morning after Flint's arrival at Nepaug broke clear and
cloudless, yet he was in no haste to be up and actively enjoying it.
Instead, he lay a-bed, taking an indolent satisfaction in the thought
that no bustling duty beckoned him, and amusing himself by a leisurely
survey of the various corners of his bed-room.
It was scarcely eight feet in height, and the heavy, whitewashed
beams made it look still lower. In the narrow space between the ceiling
and wainscot, the wall was covered with an old-fashioned paper, florid
of design, and musty of odor. On the mantel-shelf stood two brass
candle-sticks with snuffer and extinguisher. As Flint stared idly at
them, wondering what varied scenes their candles had shone upon, his
eyes were drawn above them to a picture which, once having seen, he
wondered that he could ever have overlooked so long. It was a portrait
of great beauty. He propped himself on his elbows to study it more
It looks like a Copley, he said to himself, or perhaps a Gilbert
Stuart. How the devil could such a picture get here, and how could I
have failed to see it last year? I must have itof course I must! It
is absurd that it should be wasted here! I wonder if Marsden knows
anything of its value?
Here Flint fell back upon his pillow and found, to his disgust, that
his metaphysical conscience was already at work on the problem of the
equity of a bargain in which the seller is ignorant of facts known to
the buyer, and whether the buyer is in honor bound not to take
advantage of his professional training.
The picture which had given rise to this long and complicated train
of thought was the portrait of a young woman in Quaker dress, her hair
rolled back above a low and subtle brow, her lace kerchief demurely
folded over a white neck. Her head was bent a little to one side, and
rested upon her hand. At her breast sparkled a ruby,a spot of rich,
That is odd, thought Flint. I fancied Quakers never wore
jewelsconscientiously opposed to them, and all that sort of thing.
Perhaps this damsel was a renegade from the faith, or perhaps this was
some heirloom,a protest against the colorless limitations of the
creed. Queer thing the human soul. Can't be formulated, not even to
ourselves. Sometimes I've seen people show more of their real selves to
utter strangers at odd moments than their nearest and dearest get at in
This disjointed philosophy beguiled so much time, that Flint was
late to breakfast. His fellow-boarders, a pedler and a fisherman, had
gone about their business, and he sat down alone at the
oilcloth-covered table, and twirled the pewter caster while he waited
for his egg to be boiled. It was one of his beliefs that a merciful
Heaven had granted eggs and oranges to earth for the benefit of
fastidious travellers who could wreak their appetites in comparative
security, especially if they did their own cracking and peeling. At
length the breakfast appeared, and with it the innkeeper, who sat down
He had many weighty questions to put.
Should oakum or putty be used in the seams of The Aquidneck?
Should he pack the dinner-basket with beef or ham sandwiches?
Would Flint take lines for fishing, or a net for crabbing?
When all these were settled, Flint's thoughts drifted back to the
portrait in the bed-room overhead. He began his questioning somewhat
warily. I suppose you've lived in this house for some time?
Wall, ever since I wuz born.
And your father before you?
Yes, and my gran'father before him, and hisn fust.
Ah, I seean old homestead; and that portrait in my room is the
wife of 'hisn'?
Not exactlywe never had no womenfolks in our family ez looked
like thatstronger built is ourn, with more backbone, and none of that
lackadaisical look raound the eyes.
Pre-cisely, answered Flint. And how does it happen that this
lackadaisical-eyed portrait has hung so long without getting packed off
to the garret?
Wall, you see, began Marsden, slowly and with evident relish,
thet's quite a story about thet theer.
Yes? said Flint, with a rising inflection which invited further
Yes, indeed, answered Marsden, expanding still further and
stroking his chin-whisker as he proceeded. You see 't wuz this
wayCaptain Wagstaffhe wuz the portrait's unclewall, he wuz in
command of a fleet that lay in the harbor up yonder, in the
Revolutionary War. When he wuz ashore, he spent most of his time to
this haouse; and when his sister down to Philadelphy died, leavin' this
daughter and no one to take care on her, he brought her on here to live
with him. He'd been brought up a Quaker,'Friend,' he called
it,though he did fight for his country, and right enough, sez I.
Wall, this girl,Ruth, her name wuz,she came here and stopped
awhile; and then there wuz a fight off the shore between the Captain's
ship and a British cruiser. The cruiser wuz run down and sunk; but one
of the officers they picked up waounded and brought ashore, to this
house, and Miss Ruth she set to work takin' care on him.
Wall, what with cossettin' of him, and all sorts of philanderin',
she got kinder soft on him, and one day, fust any one knowed, she'd
jest run off with him.
And what did the Captain say to that? asked Flint, more interested
than he was wont to be in Marsden's narratives.
The Captain? Oh, they say he took on about it like thunder, and
swore he'd never forgive her. But Ruth, she sent him her marriage
lines, and wrote him what a good husband she'd got; and after the war
wuz over, she kep' a-beggin' the Captain to come over and live with
them. He wouldn't go; and I don't know ez I blame him any. Europe is so
fur off, and such a wicked placeseems onsafer ez you get old. New
England's the best place in the world to die in, and so he thought.
Howsumever, she kep' a-sendin' him money and things; and one day
ther came this here boxI've often heard my gran'mother tell how she
looked on when 't wuz opened, and this picter turned out. Gran'ma wuz
only a little thing, and she didn't know what to make of it all; for
the Cap'n, he cried like a baby when he seen it. He had it taken up
right away to his room (thet's whar you're a-sleepin') and hung over
the mantel jest whar he could see it from his bed. Thar it stayed ez
long ez he stayed on airth, and when he lay a-dyin',He died, you
know, in that very bed you're a-sleepin' inonly o' course the
mattress is newthe old one wuz a feather-bed. My gran'mother wuz with
him at the end, and she said he stretched out his arms to the pictur,
same ez ef 't ed been his niece herself; and he sort o' cried out, 'God
bless you, Ruth! I wish I'd 'a' understood you better!' Wuzn't that a
queer thing for him to say when he wuz a-dyin'?
Poor Ruth! murmured Flint, with that placid, mild melancholy born
of a sad story heard under comfortable circumstances. His fancy
travelled back to the damsel in her Quaker dress, and he fell to
wondering if the garb had been donned, with innocent hypocrisy, to
please her old uncle, or if she always wore it in her faraway new home.
When he had got so far in his musings, his host recalled him to the
present by continuing, I dunno ez we've a very good claim to the
pictur; but there ain't no heirs turned up, so ez the Cap'n wuz a
little behind in his board bills, we sort o' kep' it.
Flint sat drumming with his fingers on the table, while his host
still maundered on after the fashion of old age, which has so few
topics that it cannot drop them with the light touch-and-go of youth.
Flint had already firmly determined that he would be the possessor
of that portrait; but he was too shrewd to make any further advances
Instead, he turned again to the subject of The Aquidneck, and,
rising, made his way to the porch, where he almost walked over a
speckled hen so nearly a match for the floor that his near-sighted eyes
failed to perceive her, paying as little heed to her clucking and
fluttering as he bestowed upon the smiles of a girl who stood in the
doorway and moved, with conspicuous civility as he passed. He stalked
around to the corner of the porch where stood his long boots, for which
he exchanged his low ties of russet leather, and, picking up
fishing-tackle and crabbing nets, started off at a brisk pace for the
shore of the pond, leaving Marsden to follow with the pail of dinner.
When all these were stowed away in the locker of The Aquidneck,
together with a straw-covered flask and a volume of Omar Khayyam, Flint
bade a cheerful good-bye to Marsden, who stood rolling up his
shirt-sleeves, and giving copious advice. The amateur skipper cast off
from the little dock, lowered the centreboard, and stretched himself
lazily in the stern, with one hand on the tiller. Peace was in his
heart, and a pipe in his mouthwhat could man ask more of the gods?
The white sails of The Aquidneck fluttered in the light breeze as
if tremulous with the ecstasy of motion. The sea, beyond the low
grass-covered sand-bar which enclosed the pond, lay bright and smooth
to southward, its surface dotted with craft of various sizes. Here
skimmed a white-winged schooner; there panted and puffed a tug absurdly
inadequate to its tow of low-lying coal-barges. Far on the horizon, a
swelling island raised its bulk, purple as Capri, against the golden
Flint might have been a better sailor had he not been so good a
swimmer; but, having no fear of the consequences of a sudden bath, he
took all risks, sailed into the very apple of the eye of the wind, and
habitually fastened his sheet,a practice strongly reprehended by old
There's a new boat on the pond, said Flint to himself, as a
cat-rigged craft, white-hulled with a band of olive, shot out from
behind a point of rock. Her lines are rather good. A good sailor
aboard too, I should say, for she runs free and yet steady. I'd like to
try a race with the chap some day; maybe it would be hardly fair if
he's a new comer, for I know the pond likeDamn it! what's that?
That was a sunken rock which Flint, in his self-satisfied
musings, had failed to keep a lookout for. It had struck The
Aquidneck full (or vice versa, which amounts to the same
thing); and here was a pretty pickle. Navigation is like flirtation:
all goes smoothly till the shock comes, and then everything capsizes,
with no chance for explanation.
The Aquidneck began to fill, and then to sink so rapidly that
Flint, not caring to risk entanglement in the sheets, thought it
prudent to jump overboard, and struck out lustily for the shore.
Fortunately for Flint, the shore was near and the water shallow.
Unfortunately, the shore was at the end further from the inn, his
clothes were soaking, and his tobacco and whiskey flask in the locker,
already under water in the midst of mud and eel-grass.
Determined to make the best of a bad situation, Flint swam ashore,
calmly disposed his coat and knickerbockers over the bayberry bushes,
and seated himself, in his dripping under-garments, to dry in the sun
to consider his next move.
Certainly things couldn't be much nastier, he grumbled. Yes, they
could too, he added, as he heard a female voice calling from beyond
the screen of bayberry bushes.
Boat ahoy! What's the matter?
Flint's first impulse was to hide; but fearing the voice and its
owner might come ashore to investigate the extent of the calamity, he
hastily donned his outer clothing and emerged, like a dripping seal,
from his retreat. All right! he called out.
All wrong! I should say, the voice replied; and in an instant he
knew it for the voice which had called to him from the sulky on the
That girl is a hoodoo! he muttered.
Can I do anything for you? inquired the voice, with that
super-solemnity which results from the effort to conceal amusement,a
solemnity doubly insulting to its object, implying at once his
absurdity and his vanity.
Thank you! answered Flint, stiffly; if you will be kind enough to
send some one over to give me a lift, I will be greatly obliged.
Why not get in with us? Luff her in, Jim! With this the girl and
her companion, a boy of twelve years old, bare of leg and freckled of
face, brought the boat around, and Flint climbed aboard with rather a
To tell the truth, he was in a fit of the sulks. I admit that the
sulks are not heroic; but Homer permitted them to Achilles, and why
should I conceal the fact, unpleasing though it be, about my lesser
Doubtless his ancestor, Jonathan Edwards, would have felt a like
discomposure, had his pulpit given way under him in the presence of his
congregation; and even that other fiery orator, Patrick The Great,
might have lost his balance had his new peach-colored coat split up the
back, when he was hurling death and destruction upon tyrants and
pleading for liberty or death. To be ridiculous with equanimity is the
crowning achievement of philosophy.
The boy addressed as Jim stared at Flint with open-mouthed
You didn't fetch where you meant to, did you?
Why, Fred, what am I saying wrong now? You're always hushing me up.
I didn't mean to guy him, but he did look so jolly glum.
Seeing that intervention was vain in this quarter, his sister
essayed a change of topic, and, womanlike, rushed on to the one she had
most steadfastly promised herself to avoid.
Were you fishing when the accident happened? She stopped and
No, observed Flint, dryly. (His remarks were the only dry things
about him.) My fishing-rod happened to be broken. It is of no
consequence however, he hastened to add, seeing her blush deepen
painfully. The fish about here are not gamey enough to make fishing an
exciting sport. Do you find it so?
I never fish.
Ah, I am surprised.
I hate to see the poor things suffer
You are too tender-hearted?
Say rather too weak-nervedI should not care if every fish in the
sea died a violent death after prolonged suffering, provided I was not
obliged to watch the process.
But don't you know these cold-blooded creatures can't be made to
suffer? I dare say the keenest enjoyment a fish ever feels is when his
nervous system is gently stimulated by a hook in his mouth.
PerhapsI don't knowI tell you it is no question of sympathy. It
is simply physical repulsion; and then I loathe the soft slipperiness
of the bait.
That's so, put in the boy at the tiller. Fred groans every time I
put a worm on the hook, and squeals when the fish flop round in the
bottom of the boat, especially if they come anywhere near her skirts.
Fred, repeated Flint to himself, I might have known she would
have a boy's name Aloud, he said: I suppose, Master Jim, you have
found all the best fishing-grounds in the pond.
Jim softened visibly at this tribute to his skill.
Well, I know one good one over at Brightman's, and I'll show it to
you to-morrow, if you like.
His sister shot a warning glance from under her level eyebrows.
Don't make plans too far ahead, Jim. Sufficient unto the day, you
rememberand unless this gentleman gets dry and warm soon, I am afraid
he will spend some days to come under the doctor's care. Haven't you
some brandy or whiskey? she asked, turning more fully toward Flint,
and noticing for the first time that his lips were blue and his teeth
chattering in spite of his efforts at unconcerned conversation.
Yes, he answered; a flask full of excellent old whiskeyover
there, and he pointed disconsolately to the line of green water where
the tell-tale fluttered above the wrecks of The Aquidneck.
The young lady knit her brows in puzzled thought, What is in our
Bread and butter, cocoanut balls and ginger-ale.
Get out the ginger-ale.
But it is your luncheon, deprecated Flint.
No, it isn'tit is your medicine. Try it.
Flint pressed the iron spring, and poured down the spluttering
liquid, striving to conceal his wry face.
Bully, ain't it? exclaimed Jim, not without a tinge of regret for
lost joys in his tone.
Excellent! returned Flint, perjuring himself like a gentleman.
It is better than nothing, Miss Fred answered judicially. I will
send Jim up to the inn with some brandy; Marsden's stuff is rank
poison. I had some once this summer when I was ill, and straightway
sent off to town for a private supply. If you feel able to exercise, I
should advise you to let us put you off at this point, and make a run
across country to Marsden's.
I don't know how to thank you, Flint murmured as Jimmy pulled the
row-boat up, and the young man prepared to climb in after him.
There is no occasion for thanks. But if you insist on a debit and
credit account, please charge it off against the ruin of your
I am humiliated.
Yes; I must have been a model of incivility.
No; it was I who was in fault, rushing about the country like a
jockey riding down everything in sight.
Who except a fool would have had a fishing-rod trailing half-way
across the road?
Look here, grumbled Jim, I can't hold this dory bumping against
the side of the boat forever
Don't be impertinent, Jim. Besides apologies never last long. It is
only explanations which take time
Flint jumped from the gunwale of the sail-boat into the dory, and
took the oars. As he headed for shore, he turned his eyes once more to
the sail-boat, and the glimpse that he had of its skipper he carried
for long afterthe vision of her standing there in the stern, against
the stretch of blue water, her soft handkerchief of some red stuff
knotted about her throat above the gray jacket, her felt hat thrust up
in front above the waves of her hair, and her eyes smiling with frank
CHAPTER III. OLD FRIENDS
It's an ower-come sooth
For age and youth,
And it brooks wi' nae denial,
That the oldest friends
Are the dearest friends,
And the new are just on trial.
Flint was glad enough on reaching the inn to creep into bed. In
spite of his cross-country run he was chilled through. Little shivers
ran down his back, and his hands and feet seemed separated by spaces of
numbness from the warmth of his body. The brandy arrived, and he
swallowed some eagerly; but it had little effect on his chilly apathy.
The dinner-bell clanged below. Flint heard it, but he paid no heed to
the summons. He had forgotten what it was to desire food. A blur before
his eyes, and an iron band about his head, occupied his attention to
the exclusion of the outside world.
By three o'clock the headache-fiend had entered into full
possession, had perched itself in the centre of consciousness, and
seemed to Flint's excited nerves to be working its octopus claws in and
out among the folds of his brain.
Waves of pain vibrated outward to his ears and eyes. He watched the
shade against the blindless window flap to and fro. Each streak of
light admitted, struck the sufferer like a blow. He got up, went to the
washbasin and sopped a towel, which he bound about his head and lay
down againno relief. He could endure it no longer. He dropped his
boots one after the other on the floor, till at length Marsden heard
the signal of distress, came lumbering up the stairs, and thumped upon
Flint bade him come in and state in the fewest possible words
whether there was any doctor within reach.
How long would it take to fetch him?
About half an hour.
Let it be done.
Again Flint sank into a sort of stupor, from which he was awakened
by a knock, and the entrance of a nervous, little wiry gentleman whose
clothes of rusty black had the effect of having been purchased in a fit
of absence of mind.
The sufferer roused himself as the physician came in.
My name is Flint, and I sent for you to give me a dose of
My name, sir, is Cricket, and I'm damned if I do any such thing.
Why did they send for you then?
They sent for me to see what I thought you needednot to take your
orders for a drug. I am not an apothecary.
More's the pity! returned Flint, flouncing across to the inner
side of the bed, and turning his back unceremoniously upon his visitor.
Dr. Cricket received this demonstration with unconcern. He took out
his thermometer and shook it against his wrist. Then resting one knee
on the bed he thrust the thermometer into his recalcitrant patient's
mouth, saying: Don't crunch on it, unless you want your mouth full of
glass, and your belly full of mercury. Now for the pulse. Ah! too
fastI expected as much.
He took out the thermometer and held it to the light. Over one
hundredsee here, young man, it's well you sent for me when you did.
I wish I hadn't.
So do I, from a professional point of view. Nothing so good for
doctors' business as delay in sending for us. As it is, I fear I can't
conscientiously make more than two calls, or keep you in bed after
But what are you going to do for this accursed pain in the head?
Oh, that's of no consequenceonly a symptom. It's the fever that
Oh, it isis it? Well, it is the pain that worries me, and if you
don't do something about it, I'll fire your old bottles out of the
Very good. Then I will send back to Mrs. White's for more bottles
and a straight-jacket to boot
So you live at Mrs. White's, do you?
No, sir, I do not live anywhere in summerI board.
The doctor chuckled over his little joke as genially as if it had
never seen the light before; but humor does not appeal to a man with a
headache, and antique humor least of all.
That's where Miss Fred and that freckled-faced brother of hers
stayisn't it? Flint continued.
Ah, do you know the Anstices?
Not Ithat is, I never saw the young woman till yesterday; but to
the best of my belief she is not human at all, only an evil genius of
the region who goes about with incantations which cause fishing-rods to
break at the end, and boats to run onto rocks.
Soho! You were the skipper of 'The Aquidneck,' were you? Well,
well! no wonder you're laid up with a chill. We nearly burst our
blood-vessels, laughing over Miss Fred's account of you, rising up like
a ghost out of the eel-grass, and the topmast of your boat sticking up
out of the water like a dead man's finger.
Dr. Cricket's little black eyes twinkled with enjoyment as he
recalled the scene. The misguided man fancied he was helping to take
his patient's thoughts off himself, and, having measured out his
powders and potions, he took his departure, leaving Flint inwardly
To be made the butt of a boarding-house table! Really it was too
much; and this girl, of whom he had begun to think rather wellthis
girl doubtless mimicked his disconsolate tones and his chattering
teeth, and made all manner of fun of his sorry plight.
Folk with a headache see life quite out of focus; and at the moment
it really would have been a comfort to Flint to know that this mocking
maid had been drowned, or struck by lightning, or in any fashion
disabled from repeating the story of his discomfiture. He writhed and
twisted, and at last fell asleep, still alternately vowing never to
forgive, and never to give her another thought.
In the morning when he woke, free from pain and, except for a
certain languor, quite himself again, he wondered at his childishness
of the night before, though in spite of reason a certain sub-conscious
resentment lingered still.
At seven o'clock Matilda Marsden knocked at his door and gave
warning that the breakfast-hour drew near.
I say, he called in response, will you please send some one with
a pitcher of hot water? I'll have my breakfast in bed.
Flint knew perfectly well that she would bring the water herself;
but it was necessary to keep up the fiction of intermediate agency in
deference to her position.
From October until June she was Miss Marsden, in a shop of a small
New England town; and when from June to October she condescended to
become plain Tilly, and to lend her assistance to her parents at the
Nepaug Inn, she made it distinctly understood that she did so without
prejudice to her social claims.
She waited at the table to be sure; but she shaded her manner with
nice precision to meet the condition of the guest she served. To the
timid pedler, she was encouraging; to the encroaching commercial
traveller, she was haughty, and to Flint gently and insinuatingly
Flint, on his part, treated her with the deference which he accorded
to all women; but it never occurred to him to consider her as an
individual at all. To him she was simply an agency for procuring food
and towels; and when she lingered on the stairs, or at the doorway,
making little efforts at conversation, he cut her ruthlessly short.
The result of this mingling of courtesy and neglect was of course
that the girl fell promptly and deeply in love with the young man, cut
out from the current magazines every picture which bore the slightest
resemblance to his features, and went about sighing sighs and dreaming
dreams, in a fashion at once pathetic and ridiculous. Flint, meanwhile,
always obtuse on the side of sympathy, went his way wholly oblivious of
her state of mind. How should he know that his rolls were hotter and
his coffee stronger than those of his fellow-boarders, or that to him
alone was accorded the friendly advice as to the comparative merits of
Injun pudd'n and huckleberry pie, which constituted the staple of
desserts at the inn?
This morning, as usual, he was wholly unconscious of the effort to
beautify the tray set down outside his door. It meant nothing to him,
that the pitcher holding the hot water was of red and yellow majolica,
that the coarse napkin was embroidered with a wreath of impossible
roses, and the coffee-cup bore the legend Think of me in gilt
lettering. In fact the only thing which attracted his attention at all
was a pile of letters on the tray. He glanced hastily over the
envelopes, swallowed his breakfast, and returned to closer inspection
of the correspondence. The first letter which he opened was written by
the editor of an English Quarterly, informing him that his recent
critique on Balzac had found favor in high places, and that the
Quarterly would like to engage a series.
Flint tried not to seem, even to himself, as pleased as he felt.
The next note was of a different tone, a grieved rejoinder from a
young author whose book had been reviewed by Flint with more light than
sweetness. Less stoical to reproaches than to compliment, Flint kicked
vigorously at the bedclothes, as though they had been the offending
Great Heavens! he growled. Does the man think his budding genius
must be fed on sugar-plums? What I said about him and his book was
either true or false; and here he spends his whole sheet prating about
'sensitive feelings,' as if they had anything to do with the matter.
Oh, imperfect sympathies! How large a part you play in the
unhappiness of the world!
The third envelope on the tray was yellow, and contained a large,
careless scrawl on a half-sheet of business paper; but it seemed to
afford Flint unalloyed delight.
Brady coming to-day! he almost shouted aloud. That is what I call
jolly. I would like to see forty Dr. Crickets keep me in bed.
Brady and Flint had been college friends in the old days, at
Harvard, and after that for years had drifted apart. Flint betaking
himself to a German university, and Brady to a business career in
Bison, a flourishing town of the great Northwest, wherein he too had
flourished mightily, and whence he sent imploring messages to Flint,
begging him not to waste his life in the effete civilization of New
York, but to come out and get a view of real folks in the fresh new
world of the West.
To these messages Flint had replied with more candor than courtesy,
that the only fault he had to find with New York was its lack of
civilization, that he was saving every nickel in hopes of getting away
from it to eastward, and that if he were condemned to spend his life in
Bison, or any other prairie town, he would make short work of matters
with a derringer.
This slight difference of opinion had not at all interfered with the
attachment of the two; and few things would have roused Flint to such
enthusiasm as this expectation of a fortnighta leisurely, gossiping,
garrulous, quarrelsome fortnightwith his old friend. The prospect of
the visit was a better tonic than any contained in the little doctor's
black-box. Indeed it drove all thoughts of doctors and their medicines
so completely out of his head that he was quite surprised when, having
dressed and descended to the ground-floor, he saw Dr. Cricket standing
at the foot of the stairs, wiping the perspiration off his forehead
with a large silk handkerchief.
The Doctor looked fiercely at him from under his shaggy eyebrows.
Is this Mr. Flint? he asked, as if unable to believe the testimony
of his eyes.
It is, Flint answered with unconcern.
Why did you get up?
Because I formed the habit in my youth.
Didn't I tell you to lie in bed till I came?
I don't remember.
The Doctor quivered with rage.
I am an old man, sir, he said, and I've walked a mile in the heat
of this devilish sun, and all for a patient who is determined to kill
himself, and such a fool that it doesn't matter much whether he does or
Every man, you know, must be either a fool or a physician when he
reaches maturity. Some may be both. However, since you were kind enough
to come to my assistance last night, I cannot be induced to quarrel
with you this morning, and you ought to be the last man to find fault
with me for feeling the benefit of your medicine sooner than you
Dr. Cricket was as easy to be placated as to be stirred to anger;
and when Flint urged him to come into the stuffy little office and
partake of a lemonade with the addition of a stronger fluid from a
bottle in Flint's room, he forgot his wrath or drowned it in the
cooling drink, and at length parted in kindliness, only bidding his
patient wear cabbage-leaves in his hat, and be sure to take wraps in
case of a change in the weather, not forgetting to put on his gums if
he walked on the wet beach.
When he had gone, Flint found the Doctor's gold-bowed spectacles in
a chair. Brady and I will walk up with them this evening, he said to
himself. Perhaps I was not as civil to the old gentleman as I might
When Marsden learned that Flint was planning an expedition to South
East, he suggested that he would take it kindly if Flint could make
it convenient to bring down a few packages of groceries, as some of the
store supplies had run out, and the relays were not expected until the
Flint reproached himself for weakness in complying, and growled
still further when he saw the length of the list which Marsden handed
to him as he took his seat in the carryall.
What a cursed fool I am, he muttered as he drove off, to hire
this man's beast for the privilege of doing his errands!
The three-o'clock train puffed into the station at South East nearly
an hour behind time. The period of waiting in the intense mid-day heat
had not improved Flint's temper. For all his hearty greeting to Brady,
he could not shake off a sense of irritation, intensified by the fact
that he had no one on whom to wreak it.
Brady's trunk was strapped onto the carryall, the various bottles,
jugs, and packages which Flint, with such unusual urbanity, had
consented to bring down to the Beach for Marsden, were stowed away
under the seat, and nothing remained but the mail. To get this Flint
drew up at the post-office. The postmaster was a grouty old
store-keeper who, through political influence, retained his position in
spite of the efforts of the town's-folk to oust him. This afternoon a
line of wagons stood at the door, and a line of men stood at the little
window within. Seeing his own name in the list of those for whom there
were letters, Flint waited for the window to open, and took his place
in the line. When he reached the window, he asked for his letter.
No letter for you, growled the postmaster.
Flint stepped out of line and consulted the list. There was no
mistake. Again he presented himself before the window.
What cher want?
Ain't no letter, I told cher.
Perhaps you will be kind enough to look at the list.
The postman, in the worst of humors, went to a drawer of his desk,
and, after much hunting about and turning over of parcels, he found a
letter which he threw out at Flint without a remark. Flint took it also
in silence, turned away and resumed his place at the end of the line.
Again he returned to his old post before the little window. This time
the postman grew purple with rage.
Get out o' this you! What cher want now?
I simply wish, answered Flint, in his low, clear, gentlemanly
voice, to tell you that you have behaved like an insolent blackguard,
and deserve to be removed from office.
Flint's words were the signal for a storm of applause from the
loiterers, and he walked out a hero. He was in a more amiable frame of
mind when he climbed into the carryall. The old horse, feeling his head
turned homeward, needed less urging than usual, and the young men
lolled back, talking busily of old times and new.
Brady was a typical business-man of the West,cheerful, practical,
a bit boastful, square-shouldered, clear-eyed and ruddy-faced,
confident of himself, proud of his surroundings, sure that there were
no problems of earth or Heaven with which America in general, and
Philip Brady in particular, were not fitted to cope.
Before he had uttered a dozen sentences, Flint began to realize how
far apart they had drifted in the ten years since they had met. He
experienced a vaguely hopeless sense of complexity in the presence of
his friend's bustling frankness. He felt almost a hypocrite, and yet it
seemed to him that any attempt at self-revelation would be useless,
because the relative value, the chiaro-oscuro of life, was so
different to each. He took refuge, as we all do under such
circumstances, in objectivityasked heartily for the health of each
member of Brady's family, listened with polite interest to the
statistics of the growth of Bison, and then began to wonder what he
should talk about next. As he cast his eye downward, a very practical
subject suggested itself, for he saw with dismay that the cork was out
of the molasses jug, from which the sticky fluid had already oozed
forth, and was rapidly spreading itself over the floor of the carryall.
This is what comes of being obliging. Just look at this mess! What
in time are we going to do about it, Brady?
Brady, being a man of action, wasted no energy in discussion. He
jumped to the ground, pulled out first his overcoat and gripsack,
fortunately unharmed, then the paper parcels of oatmeal and hominy,
sticky and dripping. Swiftly corking the jug, he lifted it out of the
carryall, together with the oilcloth strip, and deftly stood both
against a fence by the roadside. Flint watched him with admiration. He
felt himself supremely helpless in the presence of the direful
calamity. How was he ever to get these bundles into condition to be put
back into the wagon? How cleanse the oilcloth and the fatal jug?
No house was in sight.
Flint stood gloomily gazing down at his boots covered with the oozy
brown fluid. Jupiter aid us! he exclaimed; and as if in answer to his
call, a daughter of the gods, divinely tall, rose on their sight,
coming towards them from over the ridge of the hill. She came on
swiftly, yet without hurry. She walked (a process little understood by
the feminine half of the world, hampered as they are by their stays and
tenpenny heels). This woman neither hobbled, nor waddled, nor tripped.
With the leg swinging out from the hip (no awkward knee-movement, yet
no stride), she swept down the hill as serenely as though she were
indeed a messenger sent by Jupiter to their assistance. Beside her
trotted a large dog who now and again excursionized in search of
tempting adventure, but as constantly returned to rub his head lovingly
against his mistress's skirt, and lick her hand, as if to assure her
that, in spite of his wandering propensities, his heart remained
The hoodoo! muttered Flint.
What a pretty girl! exclaimed Brady.
The object of these widely differing criticisms moved steadily
nearer. She wore a white gown. A basket was on her arm, and her
wide-brimmed straw hat was pulled low over her eyes to shield them from
the sun. She was close upon the scene of accident before she discerned
it. Catching at the same moment a look of annoyance on Flint's face,
she swerved a little, as if with intent to pass by, like the priest and
the Levite, on the other side; then, reassured by Brady's look of
half-comic despair, she set down her basket and paused.
You have met with an accident, I see, she observed, as casually as
though she had never before heard of any catastrophe in connection with
Flint. The molasses worked, I suppose. It will, sometimes, if it is
not tightly corked. It was stupid in the grocer not to warn you.
It is kind of you, said Brady, to lay the accusation of stupidity
so far off; but, wherever it lies, the results are the same, and we are
in a bad way.
What can we find to wipe these things off with? the good Samaritan
asked, making common cause in the misfortune.
Nothing, answered Flint, with extravagant gloom, striving as he
spoke to cleanse his shoes by rubbing them against the grass-grown
The girl put her finger to her lips,a characteristic gesture when
she was puzzled. Then, unfastening her basket with sudden energy, she
exclaimed: Why won't this do? Here is some sea-moss which I was taking
to an old woman who lives a little further down the road. She makes
some stuff which she calls farina out of it, and grieves bitterly that
she is no longer young and spry enough to gather it for herself along
the shore. My basket is full of this moss, and if we could wet it in
the brook down yonder, we might sponge off the things with it, and then
dry them with big leaves, backed up by those newspapers which I see you
have in your parcel of mail.
What a clever notion! Brady said, as he plunged down to the brook,
and came up again with the dripping moss. He and the Samaritan scrubbed
merrily away, while Flint stood by with an uncomfortable sense that he
was out of it all, and that no one but himself knew or cared.
When comparative cleanliness was restored, and the bundles returned
to the bottom of the wagon, the girl scrambled down to the brook, and,
pushing back her wide cuffs, knelt by the water, where she washed the
traces of sticky substance from her long slender fingers.
You have relieved us from a very awkward situation, said Flint, as
she rose; but your basket of moss is spoiled and your long walk
rendered futile. Surely you will permit us at least to drive you home.
Thank you, no. Mrs. Davitt will like to talk a while, and to know
that I have not forgotten her and her farina. So I will bid you 'good
That is the most charming girl I ever met, observed Brady, as he
stood watching her disappear around the turn of the road.
Did you ever meet one who was not? asked Flint.
The way she took hold was magnificent, continued Brady, unmoved by
his companion's raillery. And then when it was all over she was so
unself-conscious; and the best of all was her politeness in never
laughing at us, for really, you know, we must have looked rather
ridiculous, standing gawking there like two escaped imbeciles.
This allusion irritated Flint, as he remembered the last two
occasions, when she had borne herself less seriously. The recollection
colored his first remark, after they had clambered into the carryall,
and persuaded Dobbin to resume his leisurely trot.
I am afraid myself, inconsistent as it seems, I should have liked
her better if she had not taken hold in such a capable, mannish
fashion. There is a certain appealing dependence which is rather
becoming to a womanto my thinking, that isit is an old-fashioned
notion, I admit.
Well, I must say I don't think an attitude of appealing dependence
would have been very serviceable to us to-day; and as an habitual state
of mind, while it may be very attractive, it seems to imply having some
one at hand to appealingly depend upon. Our sex must have reciprocal
duties; but I don't notice that you have offered yourself as a support
for any of these clinging natures.
Nevertheless, answered Flint, if I ever did fall in love, it
would be with a woman of the clinging kind. But don't let us get to
talking like a couple of sentimental schoolgirls! Here we are, anyway,
at the last turn of the road, and there is Nepaug Beach. How does it
It reminds me, said Brady, smiling, of the Walrus and the
'They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand.
If this were only cleared away
They said it would be grand.'
Brady, you are a sentimentalist! You sigh for brooks and willows
and, for all I know, people.
Flint, you are a misanthrope! You have searched out this
God-forsaken stretch of sand just for the purpose of getting away from
your kind. Now I have hunted you to your lair, and I propose to stay
with you for a fortnight; but I am not to be dragooned into saying that
I think your resort is a scene of beauty, for I don't; but that is a
jolly, old, gray, tumbled-down building over therea barn, I suppose.
No, sir; that is the Nepaug Inn. As it has neither porters,
waiters, nor electric bells, you are expected to shoulder your own
luggage and march upstairssecond room to the right. Whoa, there! he
called out to the old horse a full minute after the animal had come to
a dead halt in front of the inn door. The noise, however, served its
purpose in bringing Marsden to the door, and loading the old inn-keeper
with imprecations for their unlucky experience with the molasses, Flint
left him to struggle with the contents of the wagon, while he himself
escorted Brady up the narrow, sagging stairs, and ensconced him in a
room next his own,a room whose windows looked out like his over the
purple stretch of ocean, now opalescent with reflection of the clouds.
Where do you take your bath? Brady asked, looking round somewhat
In there, you land-lubber! answered Flint, pointing out to sea;
isn't the tub big enough?
Brady laughed, a hearty, boyish, infectious laugh. All right, he
said, only it seems rather odd to come East for pioneering. Did you
know, by the way, that I am to be in New York this winter?
Yes. Our house is just establishing a branch office there, and I am
to be at the head of it.
Bison establishing a branch office in New York! The humor of the
thing delights me.
I don't see anything so very funny about it, answered Brady,
rather testily; but I have no stomach for a quarrel till I have had
some supperunless you sup out there, he added with a lordly
wave of his hand towards the ocean in imitation of Flint's gesture. I
hope, at any rate, our evening meal is not to be of farina. The
associations might be a little too strong even for my appetite.
CHAPTER IV. THE DAVITTS
The short and simple annals of the poor.
After taking leave of Flint and his companion in misfortune,
Winifred quickened her pace. The lengthening shadows warned her that if
she intended to return to the White House before supper was over, she
had no time to lose.
Come, Paddy! she said, laying her hand with a light, caressing
gesture on the shaggy red-brown head of the Irish setter, which had
kept closer guard than ever since the meeting with the strangers in the
road,come, Paddy! we must make a sprint for it.
The dog, glad enough to be allowed the luxury of a gallop, set off
pell-mell, and Winifred followed at a gait which soon brought her,
flushed and out of breath, before the unpainted house where the Davitt
family made their abode. It was not characterized by great order or
tidiness. Clothes-lines, hung with underwear of various shapes and
sizes, decorated the side-yard, and proclaimed Mrs. Davitt's calling. A
whole section of the front fence had taken itself off. The gate swung
aimlessly on one rusty hinge, and a brood of chickens wandered at will
over the unmown grass before the house: yet the place was not wholly
unattractive, for it bore evidences of human love and happiness; and,
after all, these are the objects for which the most orderly and elegant
mansions exist, if indeed they are so fortunate as to attain them.
These are the essence of a home.
An old dory filled with geranium and nasturtium brightened the
centre of the yard. Beneath the wide spreading maples, which lent their
unbought adornment to the shabby old house, hung a child's swing, and
near by stood a rickety express-cart, to which an unlucky goat was
tethered by a multi-colored harness made of rope, tape, and bits of
calico. The driver of this equipage, a tow-headed lad of some five
years old, stood with his thumb in his mouth, gazing with open-eyed
amazement at the young lady who thought it worth while to walk so fast.
Good afternoon, John! said Winifred, when she had regained her
breath. Is your mother at home?
The practice of answering questions is an acquired habit, and comes
only after long acquaintance with society. Children left in a state of
nature rarely think it necessary or even safe to commit themselves so
far. John Davitt only pulled his thumb out of his mouth, poked his pink
toes deeper into the grass, and gave a hitch at the single suspender
supporting the ragged knickerbockers which formed two-thirds of his
Oh! continued the visitor, not in the least disconcerted by the
lack of response to her advances, you don't want to leave your goat
long enough to go and ask about your mother, do you? Well, I should not
like to be asked to leave my colt if I were driving. People should do
their own errands, I think, and not be bothering other folks with their
business. You will not be afraid of my dog if I leave him here while I
go into the house, will you?
Whath hith name? asked John, discovering for the first time that
he had a tongue and knew its use.
Paddy, answered the visitor.
I uthed to have a brother Paddy. He died.
Then you must make friends with the dog for his sake. Would you
like to see how my Paddy can chase a stone? With this Winifred picked
up a large pebble, and threw it far down the road. Paddy, with a bark
of animated enjoyment, made after it, with wagging tail and ears laid
back against his head. John laughed loud, wrinkled up his little pug
nose and showed his white teeth.
Now when he brings it back, you throw it again, and I will go in
and try to find your mother; I think I see her now, she added, as she
turned the angle of the house and caught a glimpse of Mrs. Davitt,
seated in the wooden rocking-chair beside the kitchen-table, paring
To the casual glance she was only a homely old Irish woman who might
have been the original of The shape which shape had none. The only
semblance of waist was the line drawn by her gingham apron-string. Her
form bulged where it should have been straight, and was straight where
it should have curved. Her face, however, had a gentle motherliness,
and still bore traces of the comeliness which had marked it a quarter
of a century earlier, when, as Bridget O'Hara, she had set sail from
the owld counthry to try her fortune in the new.
After a few months' experience of city life over here, she had
drifted to South East, where she found employment in a thread factory
which stood on the bank of the tiniest stream that ever, outside of
England, called itself a river. Its current ran swiftly, however; its
mimic falls were forced into the service of trade; and the wheels of
the thread factory whirred busily, except when bad times brought wheels
and bobbins to a standstill.
For three years after her arrival in South East, Bridget O'Hara
stood beside her wheel, and fed her bobbin faithfully. Her blue Irish
eyes were bright in those days, and her cheeks red as the roses of
County Meath, where the thatched homestead of the O'Haras lifted its
humble head. More than one of the men working in the factory took
notice of the blue eyes and the red cheeks, and would have been glad to
secure their owner for a wife; but she was not for any of them. Before
she had been in the village six months, she had given her faithful
heart to Michael Davitt, the young New England fisherman whose boat lay
below the bridge which she crossed every morning on her way to her work
in the factory. Many a time on bright spring mornings she loitered on
the bridge, leaning over its wooden railing to watch Michael as he
washed out his boat, and made ready for the day's sail. Sometimes the
talk grew so absorbing that the factory bell sounded out its last
warning call before Bridget could tear herself away, and afterward,
through the long day, shut up among the whirring wheels, in the dust
and heat of the big dreary room, she kept the vision of the white
flapping sail, and of Michael Davitt standing by the tiller of the boat
under the bridge.
At last the fisherman asked her to marry him, and she accepted him
joyously, undismayed by the diminutive proportions of their united
Sure, Mike dear, Bridget had declared cheerfully, what's enough
for wan will be enough for two, and you'll never feel the bit I'll be
This specious theory of political economy has beguiled into
matrimony many a young couple who fail to take account of the important
difference that what is enough for two may not be enough for three, and
still less for three times three. So it fell out with the Davitts. For
the first year of their married life, Bridget went on working in the
factory, and kept her tiny tenement tidy, and Michael mended nets on
the doorstep, and sold fish in summer, and loafed in the winter in
contented assurance that life would continue to treat him well. But the
next year opened less prosperously. Bridget was compelled to give up
her work in the factory, and when, in the middle of a particularly
rigorous winter, a baby was born to the house of Davitt, the outlook
would have appeared discouraging to any one less optimistic than
Bridget. But she found much cause for satisfaction in the thought that
the baby had come at this particular time, when Michael could be at
home to help take care of the house; and above all in the reflection
that the baby was a boy, who'd not be thrubblin' any wan long, for
before we know it, Mike, me jewel, he'll be lookin' afther you and me.
Part of her self-congratulation had justified itself, for the baby
Leonard had grown up into one of those helpful, handy lads who
sometimes are sent to be the salvation of impecunious households. At an
incredibly early age, he began to feel the responsibilities of the
family on his manly little shoulders, and as the procession of small
Davitts entered the world, he took each one under his protecting care.
Dennis, Ellen, Maggie, Tommy, Katie, and John had found their way into
the family circle, and no one hinted that there was not place and
porridge for the last as well as the first.
As the years went on, Michael Davitt lost whatever alertness of
temperament he might once have possessed. New England seems to endow
some of her children with such a surplus of energy, that she is
compelled to subtract a corresponding amount from the share of others.
Michael Davitt was one of the others. His experiences as a fisherman
had persuaded him that it was useless to put forth effort, unless he
had wind and tide in his favor. Consequently, his life was spent in
waiting for encouragement from the forces of nature,encouragement
which never came; so that at last he gave up the struggle, and sat by
the chimney-corner all winter, as contentedly as he sat on the stern of
his boat all summer, ready to move if circumstances favored, but serene
under all conditions. His silence was as marked as his serenity. On
occasions, he could be moved to smiles, but seldom to speech. He sat
quiet and unmoved amid the family hubbub, his long limbs twisted
together, his arms folded above his somewhat hollow chest, and his
protruding tusks of teeth firmly fastened over his nether lip, as if
constraining it to silence.
Tommy might lift off the cover of the beehive, and rush into the
house shrieking with wrath and terror over the result; Maggie might
upset the milk, and John drag the kitten about the room by its
tail,no matter! the father of the family continued to sit unmoved as
Brahma. But when Leonard entered the door, some appearance of life
began to show itself in Michael. He untwisted his legs, moved a little
to make room on the settle, and even went so far as to make an entering
wedge of conversation with a Well, Leon!
Leonard Davitt was a boy to warm any father's heart,stout and
strong, hearty and frank, cheerful as the day was long, with the smile
and jest of his race ready for any chance comer. This light-heartedness
had made him a favorite not only in his own family, but among all the
youth and maidens who dwelt in the outlying farmhouses around South
East; but of late an unaccountable change had come over the lad. This
merry, careless happiness had deserted him. He had taken to going about
with hair unbrushed, and a dejected 'havior of his visage.
The noisy mirth of his little brothers and sisters irritated him,
and their noisier quarrels exasperated him. He kept away from them as
much as he could, and when he was not off in his boat, he sat on the
fence under the maples as taciturn as Michael himself. The children
wondered at him, and gradually began to draw away at his approach,
instead of rushing toward him as of old. Maggie, who was fifteen now,
and worked in the factory, suspected the cause of his trouble, and once
ventured to rally him on the girl that was so cool she'd give a man
the mitten in summer; but her pleasantry was ill-received. Leonard
scowled at her, and stalked away muttering to himself.
His mother saw him from her window, and she too knew what was the
trouble with her boy; but she only dropped a few tears among the
potato-parings, and resolved to make griddle-cakes for supper,as
though Leonard were still a child whose heart could be cheered through
his stomach. As Mrs. Davitt laid down her knife to wipe her eyes, she
heard the barking of a dog, and then a rapid double knock on the
Come in, Miss, she said, rising and wiping her hands on her
gingham apron. Come in and take the rocker. Don't be standin' when
sittin' down is chape enough, even for the poor. It's yourself hezn't
forgot me, nor me bit o' farina.
No, indeed, Mrs. Davitt, I did not forget you: but you won't get
your farina after all; for I met some poor men in distress, and I
handed over all the sea-moss to them.
Poor craytyurs! Wuz they that hungry they could ate it raw?
Hardly, answered Winifred, smiling at her remembrance of the
peculiarly well-fed looking recipients of her bounty, they were not
hungry at all; but they had come to grief with a molasses jug. The
carriage and everything in it was sticky, and I don't know what they
would have done to get it clean without your moss; but you shall surely
have some more to-morrow, and now tell me how you are feeling.
Is it meself? Thank ye kindly, me dear. I'm jest accordin' to the
common, save where I'm worse; me legs ache me nights, and I fale the
washin' in me back some days; but if me moind wuz right, it's little
I'd moind the thrubble in me bones.
Why, what is wrong, Mrs. Davitt? Winifred asked with sympathy in
her voice. The children all look well. John's cheeks are red as
apples, and Katie is as round as a butter-ball.
Oh, the childers is all right, answered Mrs. Davitt, with an air
of mystery, but evidently not unwilling to be pressed further as to the
source of her trouble.
Surely it is not your husband? He looked better than usual this
morning when he came around to the White House, and he had as fine a
catch of fish as I have seen this summer.
Yea, himself's all right.
Then it must be Leonard; but I am sure he is a boy of whom any
mother might be proud.
Proud? Yea, but many's the proud heart is the sore heart.
Tell me all about it, said her young visitor, laying her delicate
hand on the red fingers which still clasped the bone-handled steel
knife. Mrs. Davitt looked down for a moment in silence, playing with
the bent joint of her stiff third finger, then she broke out with a
fierceness in curious contrast to her usual gentle speech.
It's that Tilly Marsden. Bad luck to her for a bowld hussy! She's
put the insult on Leonard.
Yea, 'tis the same as an insult for all the neighbors to take
notice of, whin a gurrl ez hez been kapin' company with a man fur goin'
on two years, walks by him now with her nose in the air, lek wan wuz
too good to be shpakin' with the praste himself.
Don't be too hard on Tilly, Mrs. Davitt, remonstrated Winifred,
soothingly. Perhaps she is fond of Leonard still, but does not want
him to feel too sure of her. I dare say you were a little like that
yourself, when you were a girl.
Thrue fer ye, me dear! Mrs. Davitt answered, with that delightful
Irish readiness to be diverted from her woes to a more cheerful frame
of mind. Thrue fer ye! I'd never let Michael be sayin' me heart wuz
caught before ever he'd shpread the net.
Then, depend upon it, Tilly feels the same.
Mebbe it's the thruth you're afther findin' out; but I misthrust,
and it's meself will never fergive her if she breaks the heart of the
best by in the counthry.
The possibility was too much for the sorrowful mother. She threw her
apron over her head, and abandoned herself once more to despair,
swaying to and fro disconsolately in the black wooden chair from the
back of which the gilt had been half rubbed away by quarter of a
century of rocking.
Do you think it could possibly do any good for me to talk with
Leonard? Winifred ventured, quite dubious in her own mind of the
wisdom of the proceeding.
Ow, if yez would, 'twould like be the savin' o' the by. He'll not
bear any of us to shpake wid him at all at all.
Very well then, I will try to get him to talk about it. Only don't
be disappointed if I do not succeed! The chances are that he will not
listen to me.
Not listen to yoursilf, is it! cried Mrs. Davitt, once more
transported to the heights of hope. Sure, the saints in Hiven would
lay down their harps to hear your swate vice. Yes, and aven to look at
ye, as ye shtand there, in that white dhress, jist like what wan o'
thimsilves 'ud be wearin'! How becomin' ye are to your clothes!
Winifred smiled at the subtle flattery; but before she could muster
an appropriate acknowledgment, she caught sight of Leonard loitering at
There is Leon now; I will ask him to walk part way home with me. It
is growing dark, and you know, she added, laughing, how timid I am!
Mrs. Davitt smiled in answer to the laugh, for Winifred's daring was
the talk of the countryside. She dried her eyes, and peered over her
spectacles at her visitor as she picked her way among the chickens,
feathered and human, who thronged about the doorstep, to the spot where
Leonard stood, listlessly hanging over the gate gazing idly up and down
Mrs. Davitt's heart beat anxiously as she marked the girl stop to
speak to him, and when at last she saw him turn and walk beside her up
the road, followed suspiciously by Paddy with the basket in his mouth,
she burst out into a tearful torrent of joy and thanksgiving.
CHAPTER V. THE OLD SHOP
Ah! poor Real Life, which I love, can I make others share
the delight I find in thy foolish and insipid face?
The sun was already low in the west, when Flint and Brady, having
supped heartily on boiled lobster and corn bread, lighted their pipes
and strolled toward the door of the tiny shop which leaned up against
the inn as if for support. A bird, looking down upon it in his flight,
might have mistaken it for some great mud-turtle, so close did it
sprawl along the ground.
For some years it had served as a turkey-house on the farm; but as
Marsden had begun to discover possibilities of profit in a shop which
should both draw custom to the inn, and find customers in the chance
guests of the tavern, he had turned his attention to the work of
transforming the poultry-house into a village store, and had been
surprised to find how well it adapted itself to its new purpose. True,
the beams ran across only a few inches above Marsden's head; but that
was rather an advantage than otherwise, for they thus made an excellent
substitute for counters, and the wares were well displayed and within
easy reach. Along one beam hung a row of boots of every style and
size,from giant rubbers, reaching to the thighs, in which the Nepaug
farmers went wading for seaweed fertilizer, to the clumsy baby shoes,
jauntily set off with a scarlet tassel at the top, in that pathetic
effort of the poor to express in their children's dress the poetry so
scantily supplied in their own lives. Another beam was hung with wooden
pails, and a third gleamed with the reflections of bright-new tinware.
On the shelves opposite the door lay bright hued calicoes flanked by
jars of peppermint candies, some of which were rendered doubly
irresistible to youthful customers by being cut in heart-shape and
decorated with sentimental mottoes chiefly in verse.
Marsden fitted his shop so well, that he seemed little more than an
animated bundle of secondhand goods. His cowhide boots were the fellows
of those that dangled from the fourth beam. His gayly checked flannel
shirt harmonized delightfully with the carriage robes in the corner,
and the soft brown-felt hat toned æsthetically with the plug tobacco in
the case behind him.
When Flint and Brady looked in at the door, a girl was standing at
the counter, turning over the pile of calicoes. She had brought with
her a pailful of blueberries which she evidently wished to barter for a
remnant of the prints. She showed much disappointment when Marsden
declined to trade except upon a cash basis.
What might this be wuth? she asked at length, pointing to a red
and white calico on the second shelf. Marsden, Yankee-like, answered
her question by another. What'll ye give fur it? It's the end of the
piece, and I dunno but I'd as lives you'd hev it ez anybody.
Wall, answered the girl, cautiously, I wouldn't give no more'n
six cents a yard for it.
Take it along, said Marsden, wrapping it, as he spoke, in coarse
brown paper. As he handed it to her he said: I wuz goin' to
offer it to you for five cent.
The girl's face fell.
You see, whispered Flint to Brady, there never was a woman who
could really enjoy anything unless she thought she had paid less than
it was worth. It is my own belief that Eve bought the apple from the
Serpent as a bargain, and that Satan assured her that he would not have
sold it to Adam at double the price.
As the maiden withdrew, a buggy rattled up to the door of the little
shop. In the broad strip of light formed by the lamp opposite the door,
the creaking vehicle stopped short. A dumpy female in a nondescript
black garment took the reins, while her male companion descended
heavily, putting both feet upon the step, and cautiously lowering
himself to the ground close beside the spot where Flint and Brady
stood. Once assured that he had reached the ground in safety, he
proceeded to take off his wrinkled duster, fold it tenderly, and lay it
on the seat, from beneath which he pulled out a bulky bundle, securely
tied up in bed-ticking.
Flint watched the rustic with idle curiosity, as the old man entered
the store and deposited his bundle on the counter. Marsden sat on a
chair with no back, nursing his knee and assuming indifference to the
entrance of the new-comer.
Be thar any market naow for quilts, or be thar?
asked the old farmer, somewhat anxiously, while untying the knots of
I dunno ez thar be, and I dunno ez thar be, Marsden
Both parties seemed to understand each other perfectly. They
approached as warily as two foxes. When the roll was finally spread out
on the counter, the dim lamplight flickered over a patchwork quilt of
the familiar log-cabin pattern, gay with colors as varied as those of
What cher s'pose yer could give fur this? the new-comer asked with
a relapse into unwary eagerness, and an irrepressible pride in this
evidence of the household industry of his women folk.
Dunno, I'm sure, said Marsden, slowly, shifting his quid of
tobacco and spitting meditatively on the floor. Shop-keepin' 's all a
resk anyhow. I'll give yer seventy-five cents for it though, jest for a
gamble; but nobody has much use for quilts in this weather, except to
hide their heads under from the skeeters.
Truth will out, whispered Flint. Marsden always declares that
mosquitoes are unknown at Nepaug.
The owner of the quilt shook his head dubiously.
Couldn't you go a dollar on it? he queried. It took my wife a
month to make it, sewin' evenin's.
Yaas, 'n' it's made out of pieces of the children's clothes, and
some on 'em 's deadand associations ought to caount for somethin'.
Will it last? questioned the cautious Marsden, twitching it this
way and that, and testing the material with his thumb-nail, which he
kept long and sharp apparently for the purpose of detecting flaws in
Wall, assumed the other, somewhat nettled by the purchaser's
skepticism, I reckon it'll last ez long ez a dollar will.
Mebbe, said Marsden, quite impressed by the logic of this last
statement. Anyhaow I'll give you ninety cents, and that's my last
The man glanced furtively over his shoulder at the female in the
buggy, who sat twitching the reins impatiently, then he hitched up
closer to Marsden and held out a dime.
Take it, he whispered, 'n' give me the greenback. I promised I
wouldn't let it go fur less'n a dollar, 'n' I dassent.
The two men winked at each other like brothers in the freemasonry of
married life, and the knight of the duster disappeared in the gathering
dusk. His departure emptied the little shop, and Flint and Brady
entered and seated themselves on a couple of kegs on opposite sides of
Ef it's all the same, gentlemen, drawled Marsden. I'd recommend
you to take another seat with yore pipes, fur one of them kags is
filled with ile, and the other with gun-paowder.
Brady jumped up in haste, and felt of his coat-tails as though they
might even then be on fire.
Even Flint moved with greater alacrity than usual, quite concurring
in the wisdom of seeking another seat, especially as the new one
brought him opposite the low doorway, through which he could see the
sky, and watch the night drawing in over bay and cove.
On the fence-rail opposite, a flock of turkeys had composed
themselves to sleep. The crickets in the corn-field were tuning their
wings for their habitual evening concert. The night-moth flapped
heavily against the small, square window-pane.
It was a scene bare but tranquil; and Flint was possessed by its
dreary charm. The dim quiet of the twilight suited him; and it struck
him jarringly, like a false note in an orchestra, when there fell on
his ear a high, shrill voice, exclaiming,
Pa, ma wants to know if the yeast-cakes have come.
Tilly Marsden gave a little start of surprise, as she came down the
steps from the house-door, at the sight of Flint and Brady, who rose at
her entrance, and removed their pipes from their mouths.
Enter womanexit comfort, thought Flint.
I hope you're better, Mr. Flint, said Tilly, edging a little
nearer him while her father searched among the blue boxes for the
Wasn't the sun awful hot up to town?
But you didn't get sun-struck?
I'm awful glad. I says to ma this morning, 'I do hope,' says I,
'Mr. Flint has taken Pa's big white umbrella lined with green. You know
his head is so weak.'
Flint felt Brady's amused glance upon him. Thank you, he answered
stiffly, my head is quite well again. Come, Brady, he added, turning
to his friend, if you are ready, we'll get our stroll before we turn
Here, Tilly, said Marsden, at the same time, here's the
yeast-cake; but I don't see what ma wants with it, fur I gev her two
Tilly blushed, and looked furtively toward the doorway where the
young men stood. The girl had a kind of flimsy prettiness which
suggested a cotillon favor. Her hair was fluffy, and coquettishly
knotted at the back with blue ribbon. Her freshly ironed white dress
set off her hourglass figure, and the fingers on which she was
continually twisting the rings were white and slender. Her lips were
set in a somewhat simpering smile, and her voice was soft with a view
to effect. Brady watched her artless artfulness with some amusement.
When they had gone out, he hinted something to Flint in regard to the
conquest he appeared to have made; but found him so loftily unconscious
that his jest fell flat, and he dropped the subject to take up a more
serious theme as they strolled along the road, and at length seated
themselves where the turkeys had made their roost, on the gray
rail-fence in the moonlight.
I wonder, Flint, said Brady, if we shall be able to take up our
old association where we dropped it.
Of course not, Flint answered, don't imagine it for a moment!
I don't see why we should not.
No, I do not.
Well, that fact alone is enough to show the gap between us. I can
see it plainly enough. You have spent these last ten years in active,
quick decisions, accumulating energy, push, drivewhat you call
hustling; while I have been trying to see into things a little, trying
to find out what is worth hustling forwhether anything is. Now do you
suppose that two people with such opposite training are going to fit
together like a cup and ball, as they used to do when they were chums
in college, and had had no training at all?
I don't know, said Brady, more dubiously. Then he went on, with
the air of one who is not to be balked in speaking his mind, I am not
quite sure that I think your training has improved you.
Very likely not, said Flint, imperturbably puffing away at his
I suppose, continued Brady, that it is very cultivating, and
philosophical, and up-to-date to lie back like that, and let your soul
expand, to wonder whether anything is worth while, and smile at the
struggle of the dull people around you who are foolish enough to
believe that something is worth while; but I'll be hanged if I like it.
I would rather be the lowest of the warm-blooded animals than the
highest of the cold-blooded. I beg your pardon, he added a little
lamely, I did not mean to put it quite so strong as that.
You have made a very clear statement, my dear fellow. Don't weaken
it by apologies. What you say of me is as true as gospeltruer
perhaps. The only mistake you make is in ascribing to training what is
really to be attributed to temperament. What is bred in the bone, you
know But never mind, I detest talking of myself. Now you have had
experiences worth talking of; let us hear some of your doings out West,
Long and late that night the two friends sat together. Now that the
first strangeness had worn off, and with it the consciousness of the
divergence of the roads which they had travelled since the old days,
Flint began to find his liking springing up as strong as ever, only the
liking was of a different kind. It was after midnight when he came into
the house, and betook himself to his own room. As he was pulling off
his coat, he suddenly remembered his unopened letter. He smiled grimly,
as it recalled the scene at the post-office, the glowering official,
and the grinning bystanders. He was still smiling as he took the candle
from the mantel-shelf and set it on the bureau, to which he drew up his
one rickety chair. He sat down and scrutinized the letter again, and
The envelope was a large, square one, with the editorial address of
the Transcontinental Magazine in the left-hand corner. The writing
was in the large, loose scrawl of Brooke, the junior editor. He wrote
in haste as usual. All at the office was going well, new subscriptions
were coming in fast, and if Flint would keep away long enough, the
success of the Transcontinental would be secure. The letter which he
enclosed had been opened by mistake, being apparently a business
communication with no other address than To the Editor; but finding
it personal in character, he forwarded it unread, and remained as
always, Flint's faithful friend, C. Brooke.
The enclosed letter to which Brooke alluded presented a curious
contrast to his own. The handwriting was firm, but
I want to thank you, so the letter began, not only for accepting
my verses on 'A Thimble,' but also for the words of encouragement with
which you accompany the acceptance. You say that you are especially
glad to print the verses because they suggest a return to the type of
womanhood of an earlier day, for which you retain an old-fashioned
admiration. Now, I scarcely know whether my verses are very deceitful,
or whether it is the realest and truest side of my nature which finds
expression when I take my pen in hand.
I wonder if a bit of autobiography would bore you. I should feel
that it would most men; but I think of you as a genial, elderly
gentleman with a face like Thackeray's, and with a broad human interest
in all phases of life.
Flint grinned. So much, he said to himself, for the intuitions of
woman. Yet he felt a trifle vexed at being set down as elderly, and
secretly elated at the allusion to Thackeray,as if a wide mouth, a
turned-up nose, and eye-glasses carried with them fee-simple to Henry
Esmond and the Newcomes.
I am twenty-two years old! the letter went on. As a young girl I
knew nothing of city life. My father owned a sheep ranch in the
Northwest, and there I grew up, roaming about as freely as the sheep
themselves. I learned to ride and to shoot. Until I was a woman grown,
I never took a needle in my hand. Perhaps it may seem strange to you,
but out of this aloofness from feminine pursuits there grew up within
me a sort of reverence for the feminine ideal. I felt a vague awe, such
as I imagine strikes a man at sight of a rose-lined parasol, or a
thimble laid on a pile of stitchery. It is this sense of the poetry of
women's occupation which must give what little value they possess to my
verses; and perhaps you will not care for any more now that you know
they are no part of the real me, but only an ideal.
The letter was signed Amy Bell, and the only address given, a New
York post-office box.
A pretty name, said Flint to himself, as he studied it, a very
pretty name! Then he fell to musing on how this girl must look; and he
found himself making a likeness from the picture over the mantel, only
he would have the face a trifle rounder, with a dimple in either cheek,
and a hint more of tenderness in that firm under-lip, whose smile
savored of delicate irony. His thoughts unconsciously reverted to the
reflections of the morning, as he looked at the portrait.
How shy we all are of self-revelation! he murmured, as he folded
the letter slowly, and slid it into his vest-pocket; and then, when we
have gone about for years hedging ourselves in with barriers of ice,
suddenly some emotion thaws them, and out flow all the tides of feeling
which we have been damming up so long. Flint's musings ended in a
determination to answer this letter, and to answer it now while the
genial mood was on him. The writer had taken pains to give little clue
to her identity. Well, he would answer her from behind the same veil of
impersonality. She need never know how widely she had missed her guess
in her picture of him. She might keep her poor little illusionsyes,
elderly gentleman and all. He would speak to her, as one soul might
speak to another, unhampered by all the trammels of outward
circumstance. It was his to offer help, sympathy, encouragement, and he
dispensed it in no stinted measure.
As he drew pen and paper towards him, there swept over him a sense
of the oneness of humanity, and a vision of what the world might be, if
man were tenderer, and woman held the wider vision. Such a training as
hers, he wrote to Amy Bell, might give her something of both, might
grant her a standpoint from which she could see clearer than most
women, just because she saw life in larger outlines, undimmed by
detail,a life as different from that of the average woman as the
sweep of the garments of the Greek caryatides from the fussy, beruffled
gowns of the nineteenth-century women. The question, the vital pressing
question in her case, was how she would use this freedom. Should it
slip into the hardness of the new woman, on the one hand, or, on the
other, allow itself to be fettered to the dulness of every-day decorum,
her opportunity would be lost; but if she could hold the delicate
equilibrium where she stood,self-poised, and yet swaying to the
influences which must work on every soul for its highest development,
plastic yet firm,then he believed, firmly believed, that there might
lie in her a power for which the world would be the better and the
There! said he, as he blotted and sealed the letter. That, I
should say, is as prosy and didactic as a discourse of my venerated
ancestor. I wonder if the tendency to sermonize runs in the blood. I
dare say if I had the good fortune to have any religious convictions, I
should dogmatize over them in the pulpit, and pound the cushions as
vigorously as any itinerant evangelist. Well, well! heredity is a queer
thing. We think we get away from it, but it is always cropping up in
unexpected places. Our ancestors are like atra cura, and ride
behind every man's saddle.
The clock struck three as he finished his musings. He pushed away
his chair, and set back the lamp on the mantel. The light, flaring a
little in the draught from the open window, lent a startling look of
life to the portrait above it. Flint seemed almost to hear the voice of
the dying sea-captain whispering: God bless you, RuthI wish I had
understood you better!
Upon his exalted mood the morning voice of a barnyard cock broke
Pshaw! he exclaimed, what a fool I am!and at my age, too. I am
ashamed. And, by the way, we never took back Dr. Beetle'snoDr.
Cricket's spectacles. Well-to-morrow will answer as well.
CHAPTER VI. THE GLORIOUS FOURTH
Extract from the Journal of Miss Susan Standish. Nepaug, July 4,
A holiday, for some reason or other, is always longer than other
days, even for people like me who live a life of ease and comparative
idleness, and who can make every day a holiday by abstaining from
unnecessary and self-imposed work. It certainly is curious that this
morning we rose an hour later, by way of compliment to our ancestors,
who doubtless rose several hours earlier than usual on the day we
celebrate, and certainly did a hard day's work.
After breakfast Mr. Anstice read the Declaration of Independence
aloud, signatures and all. Then Jimmy recited part of a highly
patriotic address, beginning, Give up the Union? Never! He worked his
arm in the gestures with all the grace and agility of a pump-handle.
His voice, to be sure, came out very strong on the prepositions and
conjunctions, and sank to a whisper on the explosive climaxes; but we
all voted it a masterpiece of elocution, and his father really thought
so. When these exercises were over, Dr. Cricket and I played a game of
chess, in which he insisted that I should take the part of the British,
while he represented the Americans.
In spite of a severe struggle with my patriotic emotions, I felt
compelled to do justice to the side thus thrust upon me, and I
conducted my campaign with such vigor, that it was Washington who was
compelled to hand over his sword to Cornwallis, and I swept the last
American pawn triumphantly off the board as the dinner-bell rang.
The afternoon rather dragged. I came to the conclusion that the
secret of the length of a holiday lies in the severity of the effort to
enjoy one's self. At our age the truest happiness lies in absorption in
work,a kind of active and bustling Nirvana. Having come to this
conclusion, I pulled out the golf-stockings I am knitting for Ben, and
fell to work, with the result that it was tea-time before I knew it.
Winifred made quite a diversion by coming down dressed as Columbia,
in a white muslin with blue sashes and a big bunch of red roses. She
had made a helmet of card-board and covered it with gold paper. In one
hand she held a long lance of the same shiny stuff, and in the other a
big flag. We all laughed and sang and shouted, and had a fine
old-fashioned, emotional Fourth. It did me good.
After tea, I had a surprise in a call from Cousin John's son. In
fact, the call was a surprise on both sides. This is how it came about.
The day before yesterday, Dr. Cricket, who is a good creature, though
self-opinionated and always differing from me, was called to see a
patient over at the inn; and yesterday, making his second call, he left
his gold-bowed glasses, and spent the afternoon bewailing his loss, for
he fancied they had slipped out of his pocket when he sat down on the
beach to rest. The patient, who is a young man (of some pretensions to
gentility, I understand, although a New Yorker), discovered them in the
office (otherwise bar-room) of the inn, and walked over to bring them
this evening. With him was Philip Brady, whom I have not seen these ten
years; but I should have known him in a moment from his likeness to
Cousin John. He is a fine young man, and does credit to the family. I
think Winifred will like him.
Dr. Cricket was on the porch when they came; and when he saw the
glasses, he was ready to fall upon the young men's necks while they
were yet a long way off. He really was quite ridiculous with his Bless
my soul! Very kind upon my honor! Now Richard is himself again!
and I don't know what more, hopping about meanwhile like the cricket,
who was no doubt his ancestor in pre-historic times, and pulling up
chairs for men twenty years younger than himself. I have no patience
with too much vivacity in middle-aged people; when we turn fifty,
dignity is all we have left, and we'd better make the most of it.
When the Doctor had thanked his visitors five times over for what
was really a small matter for two able-bodied young men, he insisted on
their sitting down, and turned round to me,I hate being dragged into
a situation,Miss Standish, said he, I want you to know Mr.
umahFlint, I believe? and his friend, Mr. umahWhat is the name,
may I ask?
I can tell you, said I, coming forward and really looking up for
the first time (for I am trying to train myself not to stare and peer
as some of my age do when their sight is failing)I can tell you and
save your visitor the trouble. His name is Philip Brady, and his father
is my cousin.
Dr. Cricket looked thoroughly taken aback. This I rather enjoyed,
for he is always prying into affairs and saying, I rather suspect so
and so, with his nose held out as if he got at his intuitions by the
sense of smell.
You don't say so, was all he could get out this time; and
meanwhile Philip called out, in his hearty voice, Holloa, Cousin
Susan! and kissed me a little louder than I liked; but that is the
difference between Bison and Boston. Perhaps I am hard to suit, for his
companion's manner seemed to me as much too repressed as Philip's was
too exuberant. He had the air of holding his mental hands behind him
and warning off social intruders with a Let us not enter upon too
familiar a basis of mutual acquaintance, and yet he was not brought up
on Beacon Street, and I was, which makes it all the worse. He is a
handsome man,that is, his features are regular, his teeth are fine,
and the little tuft of white hair above the temple gives a marked air
of distinction. Altogether, he has a peculiarly well-groomed effect;
but his face is like a mask,one does not get any inkling of what is
going on behind it. The eye-glasses too seem to take all expression out
of the eyes, and leave them mere inquisitors for discovering the
sentiments revealed by those who don't wear similar shields. I notice
the same thing about Dr. Cricket. I can always get the best of him in
argument unless he has his spectacles on. Then I become confused,
forget my point, and the Doctor comes off triumphant.
Of course, when the Doctor urged the young men to stay, they sat
down, and Philip began at once to ask about the people in Oldburyport,
whom he remembered very well, except their names. Everything was
pleasant until Jimmy Anstice came along, as he always does when not
especially wanted, and began to tease about having the fire-works set
off. Nothing could be allowed to go on until they were brought out. If
he had been my child, he should have been soundly punished and sent to
bed for whining and pulling at his father's coat-tails; but Mr. Anstice
is amiable to the verge of inanity where Jimmy is concerned, and after
saying, My dear! and Yes, in a minute, he allowed himself to be
fairly pulled out of his chair and into the house, from which he
shortly emerged with Jimmy, bearing between them an oblong pine box
filled with packages of every shape and size, and smelling
objectionably of gunpowder.
Of course this put an end to all rational conversation. Philip
jumped up to inspect the crackers and pin-wheels. To my surprise, Mr.
Flint showed no annoyance, but began to poke about among the Roman
candles and rockets, as if he rather liked it. Jimmy has taken a great
fancy to him, it seems. I must admit that it is in a man's favor to be
liked by boys and dogs. So they drove stakes into the grass, and set up
inclined planes for the rockets; and, when it grew dark enough, Jimmy
set off his first pin-wheel, amid a chorus of shouts of that
artificially enthusiastic sort common among older people at a junior
The shouts brought Winifred out to the porch. She had taken off her
helmet, for which I was sorry, as it was very becoming. I introduced
Philip, who said, with a smile, that he thought they had met before;
but Winifred did not seem to remember it. Now, if Winifred has a
failing, it is thinking she knows just how everything ought to be done;
and after fidgeting about in her chair for a minute or two, she called
out: Why don't you set the rocket against that stone? and down she
ran to arrange it herself.
The rocket did go better in her way, but she was not satisfied even
then. She must show them how to hold the Roman candles, which was very
imprudent with the loose sleeves of her muslin dress. Mr. Flint called
out: Hold it out away from you! Further away! but instead of paying
any heed, she held it straight up in the air. She had forgotten herself
entirely; and we were all watching the little fountain of fire sending
out its red, white, and blue colored balls when, all of a sudden, I saw
a line of fire creeping up Winifred's sleeve. She threw away the
candle, which lay sputtering on the ground; but that line of fire on
her arm seemed to grow and grow, and I watched it in helpless
agitation. I suppose the thing was over in two minutes, though they
seemed hours to me. The instant Flint saw the accident, he stripped off
his coat, and, rushing up to Winifred, bound it tightly about her. Dr.
Cricket brought out his bandages and liniments, and the arm was bound
up and in a sling before the girl really knew what had happened.
She was quite bewildered, and looked about like a little child, from
one to the other. Then she turned to Mr. Flint, with a smile which
seemed to me not so very far from tears, and said:
This time, it was your turn.
This time, it was my fault.
Yes; it was stupid, my letting you hold it so. I knew it was
Winifred shook her head, in a wilful little way of hers which always
reminds me of a Shetland pony.
Pardon me, but I think I should have done it whether you had let me
or not. I should have had to pay pretty dearly for my venture though,
if you had not been so quick, and as for the poor coat Here she
picked it up from the floor where it had fallen. What a pity it should
have a hole right in front!but Miss Standish will make it as good as
new, though. You never saw any one who can darn like Miss Standish
(which is quite true).
Papa, she added, turning to her father, who had been utterly
unnerved by the accident, and was now walking up and down with a vain
pretence of calmness. Papa, you can lend Mr. Flint a coat for
to-night, can't you?
Oh, certainly, certainly! what will he havea dressing-gown or a
Thank you, said Flint, with gravity; but, if the etiquette of
Nepaug will not be violated by a shirt-sleeve costume, I can go as I
am, though indeed I do not like giving Miss Standish so much trouble,
and the coat is a veteran anyway, only promoted to the Nepaug station
after long service elsewhere.
Veterans always command my respect, I answered, and deserve at
least repairs at the hands of their country.
All very fine, said Dr. Cricket; but I advise you to wear your
coat home to-night, even if you send it back to-morrow. It is easier to
mend coats than constitutions.
And cheaper, I suggested.
I'll tell you, Winifred broke in, seeing Dr. Cricket glowering at
me. He shall neither risk a cold by going home in this night air
without his coat, nor tear the sleeves out of papa's, which would
surely be half-a-dozen sizes too small. He shall wear my golf cape. Go
up to my closet and get it, Jimmy!the blue one lined with red.
Jimmy, who having once been relieved of anxiety as to his sister's
life, had spent his time in maligning her as the cause of stopping his
fire-works exhibition, turned somewhat sulkily to obey her command; as
he went he fired a parting shot: This is what comes of girls meddling
with things they don't understand.
When Mr. Anstice says James, he is not to be trifled with;
and his son ventured no further remarks, only emphasized his feelings
by a vicious stamp on each separate stair as he ascended. While he was
prosecuting his search for the cloak, his sister sat in the big chair
by the fireside, her head thrown back a little against the angle formed
by the back and the side, which curves out like a great ear. I saw
Philip and Mr. Flint looking at her as the firelight climbed over her
dress and touched her cheek, and I wondered what they thought of her.
To me, her face is one of the most interesting I have ever seen. It
evades description, and yet I feel tempted to try to describe it again
and again, and to analyze its charms for myself. It is full of
distinction, though the only really beautiful feature in it is the
brow, broad and low, from which her hair rolls back in that long, full
sweep. About her lips, there is the fulness that Leonardo gave his Mona
Lisa, and the lips have the same subtle curves, with a smile whose
meaning is often of dubious interpretation, and tempts the eyes of her
companion to return to them again and again to confirm his last
As for her character, I do not yet feel sure of it, though I have
known her for years. Dr. Cricket says he understands her perfectly.
Ben says he and she agree in everything. Poor boy! The fact is, that
the girl has one of those curious natures, absolutely unmoved and
unmovable at the centre, but on the surface reflecting every one and
everything that comes in her way.
Many men have loved her. I don't think she has ever cared for any
one. The Mona Lisa smile comes over her lips when I question her about
this one or that.
Tell me now, I said the other day, did you never love any one?
Yes, and I do now.
Excellent. At last we shall have confidences.
And you like confidences?
I dobut no diversionswho is the youth?
I did not say it was a youth.
Well, it is not a dotard, I trust; but who is the man?
I did not say it was a man.
But you said
I said I loved somebody, and that somebody is you, dear Miss
Standish. Indeed I do, and I am ready to fight a duel, if necessary,
with Dr. Cricket to prove that my affection is deeper and loftier, and
generally better worth having, than his.
What can one do with a girl like that, who winds up with a little
mocking laugh and goes off whistling?
I wish she would not whistle. It is one of those mannish tricks of
hers which give a wrong impression. Her father ought to stop it; but he
is so fond of the girl, and thinks her so altogether perfect and beyond
cavil, that he lets everything go. She needs to have some one stronger
than herself come into her life. I wonder if he ever will.
It took Jimmy Anstice a long while to find that cloak. When he
returned with it, he was still sulky.
I don't see why I should have to go on Fred's errands, when she
spoiled my fire-works.
Ah! said Flint, it was a pity about those fire-works. Suppose you
bring them down to the inn to-morrow night, and we will set them off
Jimmy brightened up; but his sister rather resented the suggestion.
You need not be afraid to do it here, she said; I promise not to
Mr. Flint ought to have said something civil; but he only turned to
Jimmy and proposed that they go out and gather up the rockets before
the dampness spoiled the powder.
Here, are you going without the cloak after all?
Oh, thank you! answered Flint, with sufficient graciousness, as he
took it from Professor Anstice's hand.
To reach the door, he passed near Winifred's chair. As he did so he
bent over and spoke to her. I could not hear what he said; but I saw an
angry color come into her cheeks, and she answered:
Yes, as you say, we seem fated to bring each other ill luck. Let us
hope we shall not meet often.
I never heard Winifred make so rude a speech before. But, to my
surprise, it seemed to develop an unsuspected amiability in Mr. Flint.
That might be the worst luck of all, he answered, still in that
provoking half-tone of his, and, waiting no answer, he followed Jimmy
out of doors. It seemed to me that Philip Brady would have liked to
take advantage of the general stir to get in a word with Winifred; but
I saw that the girl was really suffering with the burn on her arm, so I
told him, without ceremony, that it was time he went home.
Dr. Cricket, who seems to feel personally responsible for these
young men, evidently thought my behavior ungracious and inhospitable.
To make amends, he followed Philip to the door, and called out after
him and Mr. Flint:
Oh, by the way, we're going up to Flying Point for a clam-bake some
evening this week. Would you care to go too?
By all means, if you will be good enough to take us into the
party, Philip answered heartily. If his friend said anything, it was
lost in the fog which was rolling in thick from the ocean.
I never take prejudices; but I often have an instinct about people
before I know them, and this instinct tells me that I am not going to
like this Mr. Flint. He is so self-sufficient,not conceited, but
completely satisfied with his own judgments. When he asks any one's
opinion, he does it as if it were a mere matter of curiosity how such a
person might feel, not with any idea of being influenced. I can stand
this from a person with strong convictions; but this young man seems to
have none. He actually smiled when I quoted Dr. Channing.
Perhaps you never heard of him, I said, a little irritated by that
supercilious smile of his.
Oh, yes, he answered; but he was at such pains to set himself up
in opposition to my ancestors, that family pride compels me to resent
it, though my personal prejudices may be in his favor.
I cannot abide such trifling. It seems to make it ridiculous in any
one to be in earnest.
P. S.Dr. Cricket asked me to-day if I would marry him. I told him
he was an old fool; but I could not make him believe it.
CHAPTER VII. ON THE BEACH
The curving land, with its cool white sand,
Lies like a sickle beside the sea.
The next morning dawned cloudless. Nature, radiant in her bountiful
splendor, seemed to give herself to man, who, in response, thrilled
with something of the primal impulse which stirred his pulses in the
golden days before he had separated himself from the beneficent
currents of the Earth Mother's vitality to shut himself up within brick
walls with artificial heat, artificial light, and artificial
On such a day, it is good to be alive. Flint felt the sunshine in
his blood as he stepped out into the fresh, open air. For a while he
hesitated as to the use to which he should put the morning in order to
secure the utmost of its bounty. Then he bethought him of his duty in
returning the blue golf cape which he reproached himself as an idiot
for having taken. Brady had gone crabbing with Marsden, so Flint could
not delegate the duty to him, as he had intended. Accordingly, slinging
the wrap over his shoulder, in the middle of the morning, he started on
the path which ran along among the scrub-oak and blueberry patches, to
lose itself on the curving stretch of beach which lay between the inn
and Captain's Point, where stood the Whites' house known in the region
of Nepaug as The White-House.
The Point stretched along at the mouth of the little harbor, one
side thrust boldly out cliffwise into the ocean, the other sliding by
soft degrees to the margin of the salt-water lagoon. On the crest of
the cliff, and commanding a fine view of both sea and shore, rose the
White-House, originally owned and built by a sea-captain who could not
live without the sea, even when he had ceased to live on it. For years
the Captain took his daily walk on the little platform railed in from
the slanting roof, and scanned the horizon with his glass, taking note
of every sail, till at length he walked and gazed no more, and his
grave was made in the little hollow that dips behind the house. The
places which had known him knew him no more, and the house was let to
The Point, however, retained his name; and the white railing around
the Captain's walk gleamed in the sunlight from the crest of the cliff
as bright as when he leaned upon it to sweep the face of the waters
with his glass.
Flint did the Captain the honor to bestow a passing thought on him
this morning, to be vaguely sorry for him, and to reflect that it was
really a fine thing to be above ground when the sun was shining like
this. To be sure, life had its vexations; but they were so brief, and
there was so much time in which to be dead!
Flint had not gone many paces along the beach before he saw Jimmy
Anstice digging clams out on the oozy flats left bare by the receding
tides, his knickerbockers rolled well up on his legs, and a great pail
set on the mud beside him.
The boy's hat was pushed far back on his head, and the sun fell full
on his face. Even at this distance, the resemblance to his sister was
so marked as to be almost comical. The eyes were the same. The nose,
with its unmistakable upward turn, a burlesque on the short, straight
one which lent piquancy to Winifred's face. The soft, subtle curve of
her cheek developed in Jimmy to a hardened rotundity inevitably
suggesting the desire to pinch it, which one feels toward the tomato
pin-cushions on exhibition at church fairs.
Nevertheless, despite freckles bestowed by nature, and grime
artificially acquired, Jimmy Anstice was a well-looking lad, and added
a distinct note of human interest to the barren flats, as he stood,
spade in hand, staring at Flint.
Come out here! he called.
No, thank you, answered Flint. Not with my boots on. What are you
about? Clamming, I suppose.
Oh, nofishing! answered Jimmy, with fine sarcasm. Come and help
me pull in the mackerel, can't you? Then he turned his back and began
his digging once more. At the same moment Flint caught a glimpse of a
red hat against a seaweed covered rock. Obeying an impulse which was
rather a surprise to himself, he directed his course toward it. He
found, as he surmised, that it belonged to Winifred Anstice, who sat
reading, comfortably ensconced with her back against the low sandbank,
and her feet stretched out in front of her. She looked up at Flint's
approach, but made no change in her attitude as he came and stood over
her. He found it a little harder than he had expected to make a
conversational beginning. After a second's hesitation he asked:
How is the wrist?
Better, thanks! but still in close confinement, Winifred answered,
throwing back her shawl and revealing the bandaged arm.
You had a narrow escape.
I hope you have not felt the need of the cape you were kind enough
to lend me. I was just on my way to carry it home.
And, having found the owner, you need not pursue your journey any
Flint felt inwardly chagrined. This, then, was her interpretation of
his stopping to speak to her,that he might be rid of his trouble.
Thank you, he said stiffly; but unless you need it, I prefer to
take it back to the house.
Very well, said his companion, as you please. Then, moved
evidently by a prick of conscience, Perhaps you will rest awhile
before climbing the hill.
As she spoke, she moved a little that he might share the shadow of
Don't move on my account, Flint said.
Oh, answered Winifred, smiling, I owe you a decent civility,
since you saved my life last night.
Don't mention it. Actions should be judged by what they cost, not
what they come to; and mine cost nothing but the hole in my coat, which
I don't doubt is already better than repaired under Miss Standish's
skilful handiwork, so pray dismiss the subject from your thoughts.
There are few, I fancy, who find it so hard as you to accept anything
at the hand of another. It vexes you not to be the one always to give
aid and comfort. If I knew you better, I might venture to hint that it
smacks of spiritual pride.
You generalize widely after an acquaintance of four days.
One sees character more clearly sometimes by the flashlight of a
first meeting, than when the perception is blurred by more frequent
Again the smile, inscrutable and mocking; the eyes looked into his
with a gay defiance.
Perhaps you will be good enough to give me the benefit of these
first impressions of my character. They are as comprehensive, no doubt,
as those of the British traveller in America. Tell on, as the children
Pardon me, I have said too much already, under the circumstances.
Praise would be impertinence, and criticism insolence.
You shall have absolution in advance. Begin then! she added, with
a little nod of command. What is the most striking trait of my
character on first acquaintance?
Well, if you will have it, I should say it was a restlessness which
you probably call energy; but it is a different thing. Energy is
absorbed in the object which it seeks to attain. Restlessness is
absorbed in the attaining.
Hm! what next?
Next? Next, comes a quality almost invariably allied to such
restlessness as yours,ambition. You may have all sorts of fine
theories about equality and that kind of thing; but you want
powerpower over the lives with which you come in contactpower for
good of course; but it must be yours and wielded by you. It is not
enough that things should get along somehow. They must go right in your
Ah! you say that because I wanted to show you how to set off a
rocket last night.
I should say you showed us quite satisfactorily how not to
set off a rocket last night.
Don't let us revert to that episode, about which we shall probably
not agree. But go on. Let me hear more of your impressions. They are
No more. I dare not presume further upon my advance absolution.
Rather let me ask you to return candor for candor, and give me your
impressions of me and my character, or lack of it.
I have formed none.
Is that quite true?
No, said Winifred, looking up, it is not true at all. I formed
impressions within the first ten minutes after I had seen you, only I
called them, more modestly, prejudices.
Prejudices? They were unfavorable then. Good! Let us have them!
and Flint settled himself more comfortably, bracing his head against
his clasped hands; and, leaning back against the bank of sand, he sat
watching the little tufts of coarse grass springing up close beside
him. Still Winifred was silent. At last Flint began himself:
You thought me rude and churlish, I suppose?
I certainly did not think you were Bayard and Sidney rolled
together; but I admit you had some provocation, she answered lightly,
at least in our first meeting. When I demolished your new fishing-rod,
I think you might have accepted my apologies more gracefully; and I
think you need not have been so particularly uncivil when Jimmy and I
tried to come to your assistance on the pond. I have not yet recovered
from the reproof conveyed on that occasion by your manner, which
plainly indicated that, in your opinion, it would have been more
tactful for us to sail by, and ignore your disaster, or treat it as an
episode which did not call for explanation or remark. I should have
felt duly humiliated, no doubt; but I have become hardened to rebuffs,
since I have been at Nepaug, for I meet with many, as I go about like a
beggar from door to door in South East.
Distributing tracts? Flint asked, with eyebrows raised a little.
Collecting statistics, perhaps?
Not at all; my errand is neither philanthropic nor scientific.
Private and personal, that is, and not to be farther pursued by
Oh, I have no objection to telling you, since you are not a native.
I am searching for my great-great-grandmother.
Flint looked at his companion uneasily. She smiled.
No, I have not lost my senses. Such as they are, I have them all. I
do not expect to find this ancestress of mine in the flesh, nor sitting
in any one of the splint rockers behind the checkered window-panes of
the old South East houses. It is only her portrait for which I am
searching as for hid treasure.
Yes, her portrait. I feel certain it is hidden away somewhere in
How very odd!
Odd? Not at all, as you will say when you come to hear the story of
the original. But perhaps it would bore you to listen?
Go on; I am all attention.
Well, to begin with, my great-great-grandmother was a very pretty
I can believe it.
Winifred looked quickly round, but her companion's eyes were fixed
upon the horizon with an abstracted gaze which lent an air of
impersonality to his words. So she began again:
Yes, she was a young Quakeress, born, I believe, in Philadelphia;
but her father and mother died, and she came to South East, to live
with her uncle, when she was about eighteen. The story of her girlhood
is rather vague; but somehow she fell in love with an English officer,
and made a runaway match which turned out better than such affairs
usually do; for his relatives received her favorably, and she made her
home with them at Temple Court in Yorkshiredoesn't that sound like a
book? Well, her uncle died, and she never came back to this country;
but her grandson came in the early part of the century, and, following
the traditions of his race, fell in love with an American girl. They
were married and settled in Massachusetts. But once, when they were
visiting at the old home, my grandmother saw a portrait of her
husband's grandmother hanging in the great hall at Temple Court. She
was fascinated by its beauty; and when she heard the story of the
runaway bride, who was an American like herself, she determined to have
a copy of the portrait, and talked of engaging one of the London
artists to make it for her. An old servant told my grandfather that he
remembered seeing another, painted at the same time and sent over to
this uncle in America. The man was sure that the address of the uncle
was South East. Many a time I have heard my grandmother tell the story,
which so fired my youthful fancy that I dreamed of it for years, and at
last I persuaded papa to come down here this summer, and let me hunt
for the picture. But I am tiring you, I am afraid.
Flint pulled his hat lower over his eyes.
Pray go on; I am immensely interested.
Thank you. Well, the desire for the recovery of the portrait is no
longer a sentiment with me,it is a passion. My daily occupation now
is driving about and asking for a drink of water, or inquiring about
early vegetables, chickens, goslings,anything which will afford a
plausible excuse for penetrating into the dark halls or stuffy
fore-rooms. Of course I rule out the modern houses. I have even tried
the tavern here at the beach; but the only decorations of the walls
were 'Wide Awake' and 'Fast Asleep,' and other chromos of the same
pronounced and distressing variety.
Flint took off his eye-glasses, and began to wipe them tenderly with
his delicate handkerchief.
Perhaps, he began, when he was interrupted by a wild whoop just
above. It was from Jimmy Anstice, who shared the delusion, common to
his age and sex, that nothing is so amusing as a sudden and unexpected
Oh, Jimmy! his sister exclaimed.
Oh, Jimmy! mocked the boy. I am glad to find that you are alive.
I've been watching you two these ten minutes, and you've sat as still
as if Mrs. Jarley hadn't wound you up yet.
She hasn't, said Winifred, somewhat inconsequently. Have you
finished digging your clams? What time is it?
I've dug all the clams I'm going to; don't intend to get all the
food for the boarding-house, answered Jimmy, somewhat sulkily, leaving
Flint to answer the last question.
It is ten minutes after twelve, he said, looking at his watch.
Dear me! ejaculated Winifred, I had no idea it was so late. I
promised Dr. Cricket to play chess with him at twelve.
She rose as she spoke, and stretched out her hand for the golf cape;
but Flint kept it quietly, and started on by her side.
Are you going all the way to the house? Jimmy asked.
If your sister permits.
Oh, then, you might as well take the other handle of this basket.
Jimmy! exclaimed Winifred, I'm ashamed of you.
Well, you needn't be. You'd better be ashamed of yourself, saying
one thing to a fellow's face, and another behind his back. Sitting
there for an hour talking with Mr. Flint, as if he were your best
friend, when only last night you said
Jim, how near the shore should you say that sloop lay? Flint
inquired in even tones.
'T ain't a sloop at all; it's a schooner, returned Jim,
Why, to be sure, so it is. How stupid in me! I suppose all my
nautical learning went down in 'The Aquidneck.' By the way, Mr. Brady
and I are talking of going up to the wreck soon to try what can be got
out of her by diving. Wouldn't you like to go along?
Wouldn't I! responded Jimmy, con brio. Don't you forget
His sister gave a dubious glance over the boy's head at Flint; but
he only smiled in return. This smile so transformed his face that the
girl beside him fell secretly to wondering whether her instinct of
character-reading, upon which she prided herself, had not played her
false in the case of this man, and whether she might not be called upon
for a complete reversal of judgment,so apt we are to mistake the
momentary mood for the index of character.
They walked on in silence along the margin of the bank, Flint with
the cape thrown over one arm, while he and Jimmy carried the basket,
heavy with clams, between them. The blue water shoaled into emerald at
their feet; a single white gull soared and swooped above their heads.
The long sunburned grasses swayed in the summer wind, and the clouds
floated tranquilly over all.
How tiny the three human figures seemed in the wide setting of
earth, sea, and sky!
As they passed the bluff on the other side of the cove from
Captain's Hill, Jimmy suddenly dropped his side of the basket of clams.
Hi! he exclaimed. Why can't we go up into the light-house, now Mr.
Flint is with us?
Not to-day, answered his sister, repressively. Mr. Flint may have
other engagements, and then, you know, Dr. Cricket is waiting for his
game of chess.
As for me, said Flint, I was never more at leisure; and as for
your appointment with the Doctor, I advise you to adopt my motto:
'Better never than late.'
Oh, come on! persisted her small brother. Don't be a chump, Fred.
You never used to be.
Lead on, answered his sister; rather than be considered anything
so ignominious, I would scale more alarming heights than those of the
light-house, though I confess its winding staircase is not without its
The path to the light-house led through a patch of bayberry bushes.
Winifred stooped, as she passed, and gathered a handful, which she
crushed in both hands, taking in a deep breath of their spicy aroma.
Are they so good? Flint asked, smiling at her childish enjoyment.
Try and see! she answered, holding them out to him in the cup of
her joined hands.
Flint bent his face over them for an instant. Then Winifred suddenly
dropped her hands and shook the fragrant leaves to the four winds.
Flint smiled again, for her gesture said as plainly as words: Here I
am being friendly with this man, to whom I intended to be as frigid as
Flint responded as if she had spoken.
Do you never forgive? he asked.
No, answered Winifred, impetuously. I never forgive; but I have a
horrid facility for forgetting.
Cherish it! exclaimed her companion. It is the foundation of many
of the Christian graces.
As they drew nearer the light-house, they felt the salt sea-wind
strong in their faces. The bluff was so gale-swept that the trees, few,
small, and scrubby, had caught a slant to westward, and the scanty
vegetation clung timidly to the ground, like some tiny state whose
existence depends upon its humility. From the edge of the bluff rose
the light-house,a round stone building, dazzling in its coat of
whitewash. Far up in the air its plate-glass windows gleamed in the
The keeper was standing in the open door, and cheerfully consented
to show the visitors over the premises. Loneliness is a great promoter
As they peeped into the tiny kitchen, with its shining brasses and
its white deal floor, Winifred exclaimed at the exquisite neatness of
It is a man's, you see, Flint commented with pride. No doubt we
shall drive you from the domestic field yet.
I should think the position of light-house-keeper would suit you
excellently, Winifred replied, oblivious of the slant at her sex.
Your desire for solitude would surely find its full satisfaction
There might be much worse occupations certainly, Flint began; but
he saw that Winifred's attention had been diverted by the keeper, who
had already begun to mount the stairs, talking, as he moved, with a
fluency which denoted a long restrained flow of sociability. Winifred
was glad to be saved the trouble of replying, for the unceasing
climbing put her out of breath, and she felt that she might have been
dizzy, but for the railing under her left hand.
At last they arrived in the little room with its giant reflectors of
silvered copper, and its great lamp set on a circular table. Outside,
ran a narrow balcony with iron railing. Winifred stepped out onto the
ledge, clinging nervously to Jimmy, who professed a great desire to sit
on the railing. The wind here was so strong that it gave one a feeling
that the building was swaying, though it stood firm as a cliff of
Flint leaned over the railing. See! he said, there is a great
white gull which has beaten itself to death against the light, and
fallen there, close to that fringy line of mottled seaweed on the
Don't! exclaimed Winifred, turning pale, and leaning further back
against the light-house wall.
Flint saw in an instant that she was feeling dizzy, but thought it
best for her to ignore the fact.
Come, he said, we must be going down now, unless Dr. Cricket is
to lose his game entirely. You go first, Jim! I will come next.
Jimmy started down, whooping as he went, for the pleasure of hearing
his voice echo and re-echo from the bare walls.
Flint glanced somewhat anxiously at Winifred. He saw her put her
foot upon the first stair and then draw back. At the same instant he
caught the cause of her terror. Her bandaged wrist prevented her
grasping the balustrade, or getting any better support than the smooth
wall to which to cling.
Put your hand on my shoulder, and count the steps aloud as you go.
He spoke like one who does not question obedience; and, somewhat to her
own surprise, Winifred found herself meekly doing as she was bid.
The last part of his advice was even better than the first, for it
occupied her mind, and also gave her the encouragement of feeling that
at each step she had lessened the distance between her and terra
firma by one.
Flint felt the hand upon his shoulder tremble like a leaf; but he
never turned his head, only moved steadily onward and downward, with a
regularity and solidity which soon told upon Winifred's nervous
When she reached the ground, and stood once more in the sunlight of
the open doorway, she looked at him with a little tremulous smile. A
hundred and seventeen! she exclaimed. I am sure I shall never forget
how many steps there are leading to the Bug Light.
What a fool you are, Fred! Jimmy remarked, with family frankness.
I am, admitted Winifred. No one knows it better than I, except,
perhaps, Mr. Flint.
I know nothing of the kind, her companion answered with unwonted
cordiality. Any one may be subject to a fit of dizziness, and to be
minus an arm under such circumstances makes the situation really
uncomfortable. We must try it again some day, to give you an
opportunity to prove to yourself that it was only an affair of the
Dear me! thought Winifred to herself, why can't he always be nice
like that! He seems to be a queer kind of stratified rock; you never
know what you are going to strike next.
Aloud, she said, I fancy, Jim, it must be past the White-House
dinner hour, and papa has grown worried and sent out scouts to look for
you and me. See, here is Ben Bradford!
Looking down the road, Flint saw approaching them a tall,
long-legged youth whom he dimly remembered among the group on the porch
of the White-House the night before. His hair was parted in the middle,
and thickly pomaded to restrain its natural inclination towards
curling. His ears were large, and set on at right angles to his face.
His nose was Roman, and its prominence had rendered it peculiarly
sensitive to sunburn. His manners were too frank to be polished. As he
joined them now, he succeeded in making it evident at once that Flint's
further presence was entirely superfluous. This juvenile candor would
have had no effect, had not Winifred supplemented it by saying:
Mr. Bradford will take charge of me and my cape, Mr. Flint; I
really cannot consent to trouble you further.
Her manner was equivalent to a dismissal. Flint handed over the
cape, as she bade him, to young Bradford's eager grasp, bowed, and
turned his steps homeward. As he strolled along, he felt a curiously
sudden change of mood, from the elation of the morning to a depression
half physical, half mental.
I wonder, he said to himself, if this is not another phase of my
inheritance from Dr. Jonathan. I remember the old gentleman used to
complain that his constitution was an unhappy one from birth, attended
with 'flaccid solids, sizy and scarce fluids, and a low tide of
spirits.' The description amused me in my youth; but I begin to have an
uncomfortably sympathetic sense of his state of mind and body. I
wonder, by the way, what he would have done about that portrait.
I never heard that he or any other Puritan gave away his property to
any extent; and this portrait I regard as virtually mine. To be sure, I
have not paid for it; but I had fully determined to purchase it,
andYes, to all intents and purposes, it belongs to me. Now, to be
expected to give it up, just because I happen to hear of some one else
who wants it too, is asking a little too much. If I had avoided the
girl, as I intended, I should never have heard of her search for her
beloved great-grandmother. No, my mind is made up; I shall keep that
pictureof course I shall. I am glad I put it into the closet before
CHAPTER VIII. THE MARY ANN
Our deeds are like children that are born to us:
they live and act apart from one's own will.
The weather of the morning, with its golden clearness, was too
beautiful to last. By noon the gold had paled. The high wind which had
prevailed earlier in the day subsided; but the swelling waves, which
broke with thud after thud upon the shelving beach, gave evidence of a
gale still whirling somewhere off the coast. The clear-cut lines of the
distant cliffs faded to dim, quiet masses. Far out on the horizon rose
a line of phantom hills,a line which, as night drew in, moved slowly
shoreward, rising as it came, shutting out sail after sail, point after
point, till at last it met the land and shut out the sea itself. There
is something weird and uncanny about the approach of a fog, stealing
thus unperceived out of the heart of sunshine and blue weather. It has
in it a hint of death.
Flint felt the weight of it. His mind was shut in upon its own
resources, and did not find them altogether satisfactory. Brady added
little to the gayety of nations. He came in from his day on the water
sunburned, tired, and as nearly cross as it lay in his genial
disposition to be. He swallowed his supper, and made haste to stow
himself away in bed, leaving Flint to choose between a conversation
with Marsden and the self-communion which was his least congenial
For an hour or so, he loitered in the little shop, listening idly to
the yarns which Marsden rolled as sweet morsels under his tongue: of
the whale which the fishermen had caught off the beach, a sea-monster
of untold length, breadth, and thickness, which had been sold for a
thousand dollars; of the marvellous experiences of his father, as
captain of a trading-vessel in the East Injies; and finally of the
fire-ship which he himself had seen hanging between sea and sky, out
yonder between the island and the mainland.
You say you saw it yourself? Flint asked, partly from listless
curiosity, and partly with an eye to the society of psychical research.
True as yo' 're a settin' thar. 'Twas one night nigh onto fifteen
years ago,good deal such a night as this heer. The old cow wuz sick
that night, and as I wuz out to the barn, puttin' hot cloths on her
till past midnight. Ez I wuz comin' into the house, I looked out, and
there, jest where the mist was breakin' away, hung a ship, lookin' like
a light under a cloud.
Did you call any one? queried Flint.
Call any one? Lord! I was too scared to move hand or foot; I jest
stood gapin' at her till she faded clean out o' sight.
Mirage, I suppose, Flint murmured to himself, unless the old
fellow is lying out and out, which is not likely. Then, aloud, as he
rose, stretching himself lazily, If you ever see the fire-ship again,
while I am here, let me know. I have always wanted to see a wreck, and
a phantom wreck is better than none.
Don't go to talkin' too much about it, said Marsden, mysteriously.
They say it brings bad luck.
Apparently it brings bad luck for anybody but you to do the
talking. Well, I think I will leave you before I am tempted to a
loquaciousness which might bring down a curse on the house of Marsden.
Smiling to himself over the old man's superstition, Flint climbed
the stairs to his own room, as softly as possible, lest Brady's wrath
at being waked descend upon him. Having closed his door cautiously, he
sat down by the open window, enjoying the soothing dampness of the fog
as it came rolling in laden with the pungent fragrance of the salt
He sat a long while in the darkness. Even the Bug Light, which shone
on ordinary nights from the tip end of Bluff Point, this evening formed
only a paler shade in the universal grayness.
His thoughts turned to the scene of the morning. He remembered the
wide-stretching purple of the sea, the yellow shell-strewn sand, the
patch of coarse grass on the bank against which Winifred Anstice
leaned. He remembered to have noted how perfectly her dun-colored dress
had harmonized with the environment, so much so, that, but for the
patch of red in her hat, he might have passed her as a part of the
inanimate nature of the beach. He remembered, too, the touch of her
hand on his shoulder there in the light-house, and the sound of her
voice as she counted the steps, Onetwothreefour. Then he fell
to thinking more closely than he had yet done of the girl
herself,that curious blending of subtlety and simplicity, of reserve
and frankness; he had never seen anything quite like it. What a queer
coincidence that she should be a descendant of this Ruth, in the room
behind him! Now she spoke of it, there was a suggestion of resemblance,
faint, but haunting. This must have been the secret of his desire to
study her face again, and yet again, that day on the pond, to determine
the source of the sense of familiarity which even their first meeting
had given him.
How charming her frankness about the portrait had been! Ah, there
the recollection ceased to be altogether agreeable! He twisted a little
in his chair, and screwed the end of his moustache into his mouth, as
he recalled his own lack of response when the portrait was mentioned.
Had he been deceitful? No, certainly not that, for he had conveyed no
false impression by word or gesture. Disingenuous? Perhaps, but after
all he was in nowise pledged to equal frankness, because his companion
chose to be confidential. Suppose, though, Winifred Anstice should come
to the inn; should hear from old Marsden of the portrait; should learn
that it was hanging in his room, and he had made no sign!
The train of thought was perplexing, and not altogether pleasing.
Flint was not sorry to have it interrupted by a call upon his attention
in the appearance of two figures below, looming dim and ghostlike in
the fog. Just beneath his window, they paused in their walk, and their
voices came up to him first indistinctly, then with more and more
clearness. The tones Flint recognized at once as belonging to Tilly
Marsden and to Leonard Davitt, the young fisherman whose scarlet shirt
was often to be seen on the clamming grounds, and whose rich baritone
voice came ringing over the pond as he sat in his boat hauling in his
To-night, it was subdued, and at first scarcely rose above a murmur;
at length Flint caught the words:
I shall never ask you again.
I hope to goodness you won't! answered the shriller tones of the
That isn't a very nice way to speak, Tilly.
Well, it's my way, and my name isn't 'Tilly;' it is Matilda
Marsden, and very polite folks call me 'Miss.'
Some day you'll find out that it isn't the politest folks that's
the trustiest, or sticks to you the faithfullest. Don't you remember
two years ago, Tilly, when I was going to the Banks, how you kissed me
good-bye, and how you promised
Never mind what I promised. I was only a child anyway.
Well, you didn't think so then, and neither did I. Mebbe, the time
will come when you'll think you acted wiser then, than you're a-doin'
Oh, you needn't take the trouble to warn me, Mr. Leonard, about my
being foolish to give you up. You're not the only man in the world.
Oh, yes, responded Leonard, nettled at last, I knew very well
that was the trouble; and I know who the other man is; and all I can
Hush, cried Tilly, with a little turning of her head, and quickly
laying her hand on Leonard's arm. Don't you say another word, Leonard
Davitt, if you ever want me to speak to you again.
At this, Flint's conscience got the better of him, and he rose and
closed the window noisily enough to startle the speakers below, as he
perceived with some amusement.
What a little minx that girl is! he said to himself as he turned
to light the lamps. I have half a mind to devote myself to convincing
Leonard that she would make his life miserable if she married him, and
that he is worth ten of her; but I don't suppose he could be made to
believe either. Men are such fools when they are in love! By Jove! that
portrait is like Miss Anstice!
This last ejaculation escaped him as he held the lamp above the
mantel where all his books were piled in heterogeneous confusion. One
by one he scanned their covers, with the half intention of the idler
who reads for pure diversion, and at length he drew out a volume of
Dumas. He set his lampa large one with double burnerson the table
by the window; and tilting his chair on the back legs, resting his
shoulders against the wall, he plunged into the mysteries of The
In a few minutes he was absorbed, as only Dumas has power to absorb
his readers. The man of action in that great romancer exercised a sort
of hypnotic power over Flint. The robust virility passed into the sinew
of his soul. The romance possessed him utterly, and left him without
even the power to criticise. It was he himself who stood in Queen
Catherine's box, and watched the spouting of Salcide's blood, as he was
drawn by the horses in the arena beneath. He sat secreted beside Chicot
in the great arm-chair in the King's bed-room. He took part in the
serenade beneath the balcony of the mysterious lady in the Rue des
Augustines. He joined the hunting of the wolf in Navarre; and finally
he had plunged into the fight between the French and Flemings, with
such intensity of reality that it scarcely surprised him to hear the
booming of a gun.
It is those rascally Flemings! he thought for a moment. Up and at
them, Joyeuse! Then suddenly he rubbed his head like one striving to
recall wandering wits. His chair came down with a crash. He took out
his watch. It marked three. Again the gun! He threw up the window. The
fog was breaking fast, and lights were visible too far out for the the
land, too near for a vessel at sea; unless, Great Heavens! it was, it
must be, a ship grounded off the Point. For an instant, the thought of
Marsden's fire-ship flashed across his mind; but his head was too clear
to be fooled in such fashion.
Banging on Brady's door, he shouted:
A wreck off the Point! I'm going down to the shore!
Hold on! Wait for me, can't you? called Brady, still half asleep.
No; there's no time to lose. I may be of use. Come on as fast as
As Flint rushed downstairs, he met Marsden coming out of his room,
lantern in hand. The old man's face was ashen gray, and his fingers
fumbled at the buttons of his coat.
Did you hear it? he said in a trembling, shaken voice. It's the
gun of a ship in distress. Many's the time I've laid awake a-listenin'
for it when the wind was wild and the sea lashin' up over the rocks;
and now it's come on a night as ca'm as a prayer-meetin'. I told you no
good would come of our talk this evenin'.
Is there any life-saving station near? Flint asked, as they
stumbled along the road in the dark.
No, not near as you might say. Ten miles away is as bad as a
Once out of doors, they started on a run down the road which led to
the shore. The booming of the gun grew louder in their ears; and dimly
through the mist they caught sight of a vessel lying keeled over on her
side well in shore. Flint was conscious of a not wholly unpleasing
excitement as he watched her. As yet his mind had found no room for
thoughts of individual suffering. It was a wreck, and he had always
wished to see a wreck.
The thoughts passing through his mind did not delay his footsteps,
and he made such good speed that, half way to the shore, he had left
Marsden far behind, and struggled on alone through the last few rods of
When he reached the beach, several people were gathered there
already: Ben Bradford and Dr. Cricket, with that dishevelled air which
always marks a midnight alarm; Michael and Leonard Davitt, who slept in
their fisherman's hut by the pond, in order to get an early morning
start, and were therefore first at the scene of excitement.
Michael felt all the importance of his position as first witness,
and with unusual loquacity was giving an account of the catastrophe to
the group around.
I can't nohow account for it, he said; that captain must be an
escaped idjit to go on a lee-shore a night like this.
Had the fog lifted when she struck? queried Marsden.
Well, it was jest a-waverin', breakin' up like, and then shuttin'
down agin. The idjit must er thought he was off the Bug Light, where
the water's deep right up close in; but why should he a-thought
so?that's the question.
Well, it is a question that can wait, I should think, said Brady,
who had come up panting from his run. The most important question is,
what are you going to do about it? There's not much danger, I suppose,
as long as the night is as calm as this; though there's such a ground
swell on it looks as if there must have been a big storm at sea. See
how she pounds on the reef out there! She is likely to go to pieces
before many hours, I should say, and if a wind springs up, as it's
pretty sure to do with morning, it would be an ugly lookout.
Is there a life-boat anywhere? asked Flint.
Yes, said Leonard, somewhat scornfully, in the pond. (He
pronounced it pawnd.)
They must have boats on the ship, said Marsden; seems to me I see
'em launchin' one now. At this the men on shore huddled closer
together, as though four could see farther than one.
Yes, there was no doubt of it. The misty dawn showed forms standing
on the slanting deck of the ship, and a boat hoisted, held out, and
then dropped into the waves, which were already rising with the rising
They'd best make haste, muttered Michael, uneasily; if the sea
gets up, they'll go down.
It seemed an age to the little waiting group before the boat put off
from the ship. The wind had begun to blow in cold and strong. Flint
buttoned his coat tight to his chin, and still he shivered. On the
little boat came, now dipping almost out of sight in the hollow of the
big green waves, now rising like a cork upon their crest.
Hurrah! cried Brady, they're almost in.
Hm! said Michael, not yet, by a long sight! The danger comes when
they git into the breakers.
Flint was enough of a sailor to know that the fisherman spoke truth.
A little later, he saw the white, combing foam break over the boat. He
drew his breath quicker, and caught his under-lip between his teeth.
There's four men in her, said Marsden, making a telescope of his
Five, said Leonard,five, and one of 'em is a woman!
Flint unbuttoned his coat and threw it off.
What are you about? asked Brady. You'll get your death of cold.
Flint made no answer, but, stooping, unfastened his boots, and
kicked them off. Rapidly as he undressed, he was too slow; for, as the
boat reached the tenth breaker, a great wave struck her a little on the
side, and over she went, spilling out her contents as heedlessly as
though they had been iron or lead in place of flesh and blood. In an
instant, Flint was in the surf, and striking out for the spot where he
had seen a woman's shawl.
Curse it! cried Leonard, why can't I swim, and me a sailor!
I'd orter a-learned yer, Leon, and thet's a fact. Look at him! He's
got her. He's a pullin' of her in. Make a line, men! Make a line! Quick
as thunder, and the last man grab 'em when they come within reach!
In answer to Michael's words, the men hastily formed in line, and
moved out till Brady stood chest-deep in water. It was a wise
precaution, for Flint, though a good swimmer, found his task too hard
for him. He felt like a man in a nightmare with a weight of lead upon
his chest; and arms that must move, and could not move, and yet must
Dimly, a sense of possible escape for himself came over him. Why
should two drown in place of one? He had but to let go this weight and
strike out. Why not?
Why not indeed? This man held to no altruistic creed. His doctrines,
had he expounded them quite coolly, would have claimed that
self-preservation was the first law of Nature, and that Nature was the
best guide. But now, with no time for reason, by the flashlight of
instinct, intuition, inheritance,call it what you will,he found
himself absolutely physically unable to let his load slip. With this
stranger he would live or die, most likely die!
With the last thought, he felt a numbness creep over him. The limbs
refused to obey the will. The will itself was paralyzed. Blank darkness
fell around; the end had come.
He awoke to consciousness with a painful gasp, to find himself
stretched out on the sand, and to hear Dr. Cricket's voice sounding far
away, saying: He'll be all right soon. Keep on working his arms, Ben!
Here comes Marsden with the brandy and warm blankets. Then followed a
vague sensation of swallowing fire, and a blissful warmth creeping
along his veins as though Nature had taken him to her heart once more.
Languidly, he unclosed his eyes. What did it all mean: the waves
roaring close at hand; the driftwood fire burning hard by; the circle
of anxious faces? Through his dim senses ran the lines long familiar,
never till now fully realized:
The tall masts flickered as they lay afloat
The crowds, the temples wavered, and the shore.
What made everything wobble about like that? Was he dying? What had
brought him here, anyhow? Then, with a rush, it all came back. Raising
himself on one elbow, he looked about inquiringly. Where is she? he
asked, and fell back exhausted by the effort of speech.
Here and safe, answered a woman's voice which he recognized as
that of Winifred Anstice. The captain and crew are saved too.
Could they all swim? Flint questioned feebly.
Hold your tongue! cried Dr. Cricket, with more good sense than
good manners. Your business now is to save your strength. Leave
questions for later in the day. If that coffee is done, Ben, pass it
round. We will all have a pull at it.
The commonplace of the daily routine is a blessed relief after the
overstrained excitement of a great catastrophe. We eat and drink, and
life seems real once more. Even Dr. Cricket was drawn for a moment from
his patient's side to the circle gathered about Ben Bradford, who stood
with the steaming coffee-pot in one hand, and a tin dipper in the
other. Nectar and ambrosia, served from jewelled plate, could not have
offered more temptation to the appetite of the weary group. Flint,
lying a little apart, was conscious that Leonard Davitt was standing
beside him, staring down into his face. As the young fisherman turned
away, Flint heard him say, below his breath: Damn him!
CHAPTER IX. NORA COSTELLO
We pass through life separated from many people as by a wall of
We see them, we are conscious of their presence; but we never
The evening following the wreck of The Mary Ann found the friends
in council, who included most of the summer population of Nepaug,
gathered around the White-House hearth, on which blazed a hospitable
fire, doubly cheering in its radiant contrast to the gathering darkness
without. The wind, which had risen to half a gale, rattled at the
window panes and roared down the chimney. The sound of the booming
surf, as the great waves hurled themselves against the dunes, made
itself heard, even through the heavy pine doors and shutters. The foam,
which yesterday curved in lines of delicate spray below the headland,
was now lashed into a lather of white terror. Above it through the
twilight rose, dim and ghostlike, the masts of the wrecked vessel.
The dreariness outside lent an added charm to the snug and cheerful
cosiness within the little parlor, the inmates of which drew closer
than usual, as they talked in somewhat subdued voices.
Jimmy Anstice lay on his back upon the hearth-rug, his head pillowed
upon Paddy, and his knees braced one on top of the other. Ben Bradford
sat on a chair tipped back against the wall, with his thumbs thrust
through the armholes of his corduroy vest. Winifred lounged upon the
haircloth sofa with one foot surreptitiously tucked under her. Every
one's attitude suggested a degree of comfort rare in society. A
wonderful sense of intimacy is imparted by perils undergone together,
or profound experiences shared. They seem to sweep away, as with a
whirlwind breath, that thick veil of convention and commonplace which
shroud many acquaintances from beginning to end. At these times the
real nature has shown itself, as it does only in the great crises of
life; and, once revealed, it can never wholly conceal itself again.
At the White-House that evening, the wreck was discussed over and
over from every point of view. Each person wished to describe the
moment when he awoke to the apprehension of the calamity,what he said
and did, thought and planned. Such conversations lead one to believe
that the chief pleasure of the resurrection will lie in the comparison
of post-mortem experiences on first awakening.
Dr. Cricket said that when he first heard the booming of guns,
half-asleep as he was, he dreamed that the statue of William Penn was
falling off the dome of the Philadelphia city hall.
Miss Standisth said that she was broad awake; but had happened not
to catch any sound till she heard the commotion of people moving about
downstairs. This she took to mean that breakfast-time had arrived, and
that this was destined to be another dark day like the freak of nature
famous in the colonial annals.
I heard Fred call out Jimmy Anstice began; but his sister
interrupted, Please, Jimmy, leave me out. You know Papa forbade you to
talk about me in company.
My dear, remonstrated her father, mildly, don't speak so abruptly
to your little brother.
Thus, in one shape and another, every one said his say.
Flint alone, of the entire group, was silent, almost surly. He
submitted without comment to being ensconced in the great
chintz-covered chair. He even swallowed, under protest, the various
pills and potions which Dr. Cricket presented to him at intervals; but
the most adroit questioning on the part of Miss Standish failed to
elicit any information as to his sensations or emotions, past or
present. Brady, who understood his friend better than all the rest,
strove to shelter him by talking longer and laughing louder than usual;
but this Miss Standish resented as much as Flint's silence, and set it
down to flippancy. Her ethical training impelled her to strive to
improve the occasion to these young people. She shook her gray curls,
and cleared her throat several times before her conversational opening
I hope, Mr. Flint, she said at last, that you feel as strongly as
that poor girl upstairs, the mercy of the divine Providence which
brought you to the rescue at that critical moment, and enabled you to
save a life.
Something in Miss Standish's tone irritated Flint.
If, for 'divine Providence,' you will substitute 'lucky accident,'
I will agree to it as heartily as either you or she. If you persist in
dragging in Providence, I must really beg leave to inquire where
Providence was when the ship struck.
The silence which reigned in the room was like the space cleared for
a sparring-match. The old combative instinct of the primitive man
arises in the most civilized, and makes him delight in a fight. Brady
looked amused; Winifred a little apprehensive; Mr. Anstice preserved a
dignified neutrality; and Miss Standish fumbled with her cameo brooch,
and smoothed the folds of her skirt, as if to make sure that all was in
order before entering upon a possibly ruffling contest.
I suppose she began; but old Marsden, who sat on the other side
of the fire, and who was no respecter of persons, broke in: I've heerd
a deal about how you all felt, and what you all thought; but what I'd
like to know is what really happened. The men at the inn wont talk
without their captain gives them leave; and Dr. Cricket has got him and
his sister shut up in their rooms, to git over the shawk. Now perhaps
the Doctor can tell us how it wuz thet thet air ship went aground on a
sandy coast, in a ca'm night like the last.
Captain Costello says it was the light in the tavern-window which
he mistook for the Bug Light off the point; but how could that have
been, when it was past two o'clock, and I'll answer for it that no one
at Nepaug was ever found awake after nine?
Dr. Cricket questioned with the inflection of a man who neither
expects nor desires an answer. Indeed, he had only paused for breath,
when Flint, from his easy chair on the other side of the fireplace,
So I am to blame for the whole thing.
You don't say so!
Was the light yours?
What on earth were you doing at that hour?
Not quite so many questions at once, friends, if you please. My
brain is still a little waterlogged, and my thoughts work slowly. I
only remember sitting down about ten o'clock to read a novel, and the
first thing that roused me was the gun, which for the moment I took for
the attack of the enemy of whom I was reading. I rushed out, half
expecting to find the tavern surrounded, and to have to risk my life in
its defence, and instead
Instead, put in Winifred Anstice, very quietly, you risked your
life to save some one else,Nora Costello, the Captain's sister, spent
the whole morning in tears, because Dr. Cricket would not let her leave
her room to go and tell you how grateful she was.
Hysterical, I suppose, said Flint.
Winifred, who had opened her lips to say something more, shut them
closely again, and sat back with the air of a person determined to have
no further share in the conversation.
Dr. Cricket hastened to occupy the floor. A charming girlupon my
word, a charming girlif she is a Hallelujah lassie.
A what? ejaculated Brady.
A Hallelujah lassieFeminine of Salvation Soldier, don't you know!
Why, she had one of the coal-scuttle bonnets hanging by its draggled
strings round her neck when Flint pulled her in, and a number of 'The
War Cry' was in the pocket of her dress, when we stripped it off.
Oh, said Brady, with a touch of disappointment in his tone, I
took her for a different sort of a person; she looked quite the lady.
So she is, young man, answered Dr. Cricket, with his fierce little
frown. There is no doubt of that. She told me her story this morning.
I wanted her to rest; but the poor thing was so nervous I thought it
would hurt her less to talk than to keep still.
Flint smiled sardonically. The Doctor's little foible of curiosity
had not escaped his observant eye.
You would have done much better to shut her up; but what did she
say? queried Miss Standish.
Flint smiled again. But the Doctor began briskly:
Why, it seems that the Costellos are the children of a Scotch
minister; though, from his name, I should guess that he had a drop more
or less of Irish blood in his veins, and their looks show it too. They
were brought up in a manse on one of those brown and bare Scotch moors.
The boy was to be educated for the church, like his father; but when he
was seventeen, he grew restive under the strictness of his training,
turned wild, and ran away. For ten years they had no word of him. The
father reproached himself for having been too hard on the boy; and he
never stopped loving and praying for him. On his death-bed, he charged
Norathat's the girl's name you knowto sell all the things in the
manse, and start out into the world to find her brother, and never to
give up the search as long as she lived.
That is always the way, said Flint, with a shrug: the reward of
virtue is to be appointed trustee of viceno assetsassume all the
Hm! wide, of the mark this time, Mr. Flint. The very day after her
father's death, Nora Costello received a letter from her brother,
saying that he was ashamed to come home without first securing
forgiveness, and asking his sister to intercede for him, and to meet
him in London with the news of his pardon.
Exactly, resumed Flint with irritating calmness. Prodigal son
sends postal card stating that he is prepared to receive overtures
looking to a resumption of family relations. No questions asked.
He has not seen Captain Costello, has he, Dr. Cricket? or he would
be more sparing of his jibes.
Never mind, Miss Winifred, Mr. Flint is ashamed of having played
the humanitarian this morning, so he is trying to atone by double
cynicism this evening; but don't let him interrupt my story again,
under pain of being sent back to the tavern, instead of taken care of
in Mrs. White's best bed-room, under the charge of the best doctor
(though I do say it) in Philadelphia.
Well, as I was about to say, Nora Costello came up to London; and
there she found her brother, a brown and bearded man in command of a
schooner, 'The Mary Ann,' plying between New York and Nova Scotia. He
had been looking forward joyfully to his homecoming; but when he
learned of his father's death, he was all broken up, and talked about
its being a judgment of God on himself.
Rather severe on his father, grumbled Flint; but no one heeded
him, and the Doctor continued:
Costello felt so awfully cut up, that one night he came near
drowning himself; and after that his sister did not dare leave him
alone, but went about everywhere with him; and one night they came upon
a Salvation Army meeting, with drums and torches and things, in the
streets of the East End. General Booth was there; and, my soul! to hear
that girl talk, you would think he was the archangel Gabriel, with the
sword of the Lord in his hand.
It was Michael who carried the sword, came from Flint's corner,
exasperating even Brady beyond endurance.
Come, Flint, you're too bad. Hold your tongue, can't you, and let
the rest of us hear the story! That girl is a trump.
You 're right, sir, echoed the Doctor, cordially, a trump she
was, and her brother too, for that matter. General Booth preached that
day, as it happened, about remnants, and argued how a man might make
the most of the remnants of a life, as well as of a meal, even if the
best part was gone. Well, the talk sort of heartened up Angus Costello;
and, after the meeting, he and his sister went up to the General, and
Nora asked to be taken into the Army. She went in as a private; and
when Angus came back to Nova Scotia, Nora came with him, and was
assigned to duty, first in Montreal, and then in New York. She has
risen already to be an officer, and, I judge, a valuable one. She was
off this month on sick-leave for her brother's ship, taking a vacation
from overwork, I suspect.
What is her work? asked Brady, leaning forward with his square
chin propped on his hands, which, in their turn, were supported by his
knees,an attitude to which he was prone when self-forgetful.
Her work? Oh, I don't know! Everything I suppose. Taking care of
sick people in tenements, talking, and singing, and selling copies of
the 'War Cry,' in offices and liquor-saloons.
Brady frowned. I don't like it, he said. She's too pretty, with
those little curly rings of hair round her pale face, and with those
big blue eyes. Why don't they send some old maid on such errands?
Because they want to sell their papers, answered Miss Standish,
The talk around the fire had gone on so eagerly that the attention
of the group was utterly absorbed; and every one started as if an
apparition had appeared in their midst, when a slim figure in a dark
dress, against which her face looked doubly white, glided noiselessly
into the room. With eyes fixed in almost trance-like far-sightedness,
she moved towards Brady, and laid her hand upon his sleeve.
My brother, she said, it is you have risked your life to save
mine. God gave you back both. What will you be doing with your share?
III'm awfully sorry, don't you know! stammered Brady, terribly
embarrassed; but it wasn't I who did it.
Here is the man, Miss Costello, to whom you owe your life, said
the Doctor, who dearly loved a situation, turning as he spoke, with a
little flourish, to the place where Flint had stood; but that gentleman
had taken advantage of the mistake to bolt into the bed-room behind
him. He would have bolted into the pond, rather than submit to be
thanked publicly in this fashion.
He's gone! exclaimed Dr. Cricket, in disappointment.
Ah! said Nora Costello, with a quick, sympathetic smile, it's
verra natural. He did not wish to be thanked. Perhaps he is right.
After all, it is to the good God himsel' that our thanks are owing.
She knelt on the rug, as simply as she would have taken an offered
chair, and spoke to some invisible presence, as naturally as she would
have spoken to any of those in the room. Brady was shocked at first, at
the conversational tone. It was so realistic that he opened his eyes,
half expecting to see the Someonethe Somethingso evidently apparent
to the girl herself.
Having once opened his eyes, he forgot to close them again. The
actual so pursued him, that he ceased to seek the spiritual presence.
The firelight, playing over the girl's face, threw strange lights, and
shadows half unearthly. She seemed a spirit, of whom no ordinary
restraints of the familiar social life were to be expected.
When her prayer was finished, she rose as simply as she had knelt,
though now two large tears stood on the long fringe of her eyes.
Good-night, friends! she said with a confiding glance around. I
think I shall be able to get the sleep now. God bless you all!
When she was gone, the hush was unbroken for several minutes. At
last Winifred spoke.
I don't know how the rest of you feel, but somehow I have a
sensation of being a lay figure in the shop-window of life, and having
all of a sudden seen a real woman go by.
Jove! what eyes she has! said Brady, continuing thoughts of his
own, rather than answering Winifred's speech.
Really, said Ben Bradford, it wasn't unpleasant at all.
Unpleasant! exclaimed his aunt. Well, I should say not, unless
heaven is unpleasant, and angels, and the Judgment Day, which I daresay
it will be for you, Ben Bradford, unless you mend your ways.
Good-night! I'm going up to see that the child has a hot-water bag to
her feet, and a mustard plaster on her chest. The Salvation Army needs
an efficient ambulance corps.
Hm! said Dr. Cricket, as Miss Standish disappeared. Mary may have
chosen the better part; but I pity the household that's all Marys. Give
me a Martha in mine every time!
That reminds me, he added briskly, that I must look after my
patient, and not let him pitch himself into that bed, which has not
been aired for a week; and nobody in this house knows the difference
between damp sheets and dry ones. Do you know, Mr. Brady, he
continued, as he rose from his chair with a little rheumatic hitch, I
have taken a great shine to that queer friend of yours. I don't know
how it is, but I suspect it is because he is such a contrast to most
folks. It's a comfort to meet a man who keeps his best foot back.
Oh, Flint is a brick! said Brady, with enthusiasm. I have known
him to do the nicest things. There was a fellow once in collegehe was
rather pushing socially, and nobody liked himbut he was 'a dig,' and
he got sick from studying too much. None of the rest of us ever fell
ill of that trouble; but he did, and he was so poor he didn't want to
let any one know about it, for fear he would be obliged to send for a
doctor. It was found out though; and one day a doctor and nurse turned
up at the fellow's room,said they'd been asked not to say who sent
them; but they stayed and pulled him through. He never knew who his
benefactor was; but I did, and you may judge of my surprise, when the
fellow got about, to see Flint cut him on the street.
'What in thunder did you do that for?' I asked, for I was
dumfounded to see him do it.
'Because the fellow is a cad, and would be taking all sorts of
advantages. Better ignore the acquaintance at the start.'
'Then why did you do what you did for him?'
'I don't know, I'm sure!' Flint answered.
That's just the sort of fellow Flint is. He may seem crusty, but in
any emergency he is a man to tie to.
If life were a series of emergencies, said Winifred, reflectively,
Mr. Flint would be invaluable; but in every-day existence, one does
not quite know what to do with him.
I can put up with a great deal, said Ben Bradford, from a chap
like that, who shows real sand and pluck when a crisis comes. I mean to
tell Mr. Flint to-morrow that I think he's a daisy, and go down on my
marrow bones for the things I have thought and said about him before.
I wouldn't, if I were you, Ben, observed Winifred, with an amused
smile; for I doubt if Mr. Flint has ever had the dimmest idea that you
have not been thinking well of him all along.
CHAPTER X. FLYING POINT
We'll maybe return to Lochaber no more.
Far up the pond, at no great distance from the spot where The
Aquidneck had met her untimely and ignominious end, Flying Point
thrust out its tongue of land into the rippling water, which stole in
and out between its tiny coves so gently that scarcely a murmur could
be heard, except when a northeaster lashed the pond into a mimic sea;
and then the teapot tempest was so outdone by the giant waves outside
the bar, that it passed unnoticed, like the fury of a child beside the
rage of a grown man.
The Point took its name from the flights of ducks which passed over
it in vast numbers in the spring and autumn, their dark, irregular
squadrons black against the intense blue of sea and sky. Its low bluff
of gleaming sand was crowned by a grove of tall pines, through which
purled a tiny brook perpetually prattling to the sea of its little
inland life. Below the bank, stretched out a rod or more of level beach
where fires might be lighted and cloths spread by those who wished to
return to the gypsy habits of their forebears and sit down as Nature's
guests, to simple fare of their own cooking and serving.
A midsummer pilgrimage to Flying Point was a regular feature of the
season with the dwellers at the White-House; and it was a point of
honor for the old-timers to declare that last year's expedition was in
every way more successful than that of the present season. Newcomers
endured this superiority in silence, consoled by the prospect of
enjoying the same triumph themselves next summer.
Several times the date of this year's expedition had been set, and
as often changed. The last date had been fixed for the eighth of July;
but the excitement of the wreck, and the reaction of lassitude which
followed that catastrophe, put to flight, for a time, all thoughts of
amusement, and a fortnight elapsed without an apparent ripple on the
calm of existence at Nepaug.
On the second day after the wreck, Angus Costello and his sister
took their departure for New York,he to collect the insurance on the
ill-fated Mary Ann, she to report again for duty in the Army. With
the going of the Costellos, quiet settled down once more; but the
dwellers on the Point found themselves impatient of the very repose for
which they had sought Nepaug. Rest had turned to inanimation, quiet to
dulness, peace to stagnation.
Flint, usually unaffected by environment, found himself incapable of
any intellectual or physical exertion. He could not work. He could not
even loaf alone. Brady was an indifferent companion, subject to fits of
absence of mind,more unsocial than absence of body.
There was only one resource left; the young men betook themselves to
the White-House. Life there could not be wholly dull, while a perpetual
sparring match was going on between Miss Standish and Dr. Cricket,
while Professor Anstice smoked his pipe serenely on the corner of the
piazza, and Ben Bradford openly adored Winifred, heedless of outside
observation or amusement.
Ben himself was an endless source of entertainment to Flint, so
vividly did his demeanor recall the rapidly receding days of his own
youth, when he too had felt the constraint which is born of the
assurance that all the world is fixing its gaze upon us and our
Ben never dreamed that he could be taken humorously. He regarded
himself with a deep seriousness, and planned innocent little
hypocrisies with a view to their effect on the public. He was anxious
to be supposed to handle a large correspondence, and took pains to sort
his mail in public, fingering a number of letters in his leather case
with a reflective air, as if he were considering what replies they
demanded, although their worn envelopes revealed them to the most
casual observation as at least a fortnight old.
He had the sensitiveness of youth, and spent much useless effort in
the endeavor to discover what people meant by their words and deeds;
when, nine times out of ten, they meant nothing at all, but were only
striving to fill up the gaps of life with idle observations or
diversions. He himself was fond of side remarks, intended to be
satirical, but falling rather flat, if dragged out into the prosaic
light of general conversation, as sometimes happened when Miss Standish
caught a word or two and exclaimed aloud: What was that, Ben? Won't
you give us all the benefit of that last observation?
Ben loved his aunt; but he did not like her.
She interfered sadly with his pose as a man of the world, by
relating anecdotes of his infancy, and stating the precise number of
years which had elapsed since the occurrence.
On the occasion of one of the daily visits of Flint and Brady, they
were made aware of unmistakable signs of a domestic unpleasantness.
They were no sooner seated, than Ben picked up again the grievance
which their arrival had compelled him to drop.
You have told that story four times already this summer, Aunt
Susan, he remarked truculently; and I don't think it is of great
interest to the public at any time to know that I took a bite out of
each one of the Thanksgiving pies when I was five years old.
I have not told it before, and you were six when it
happened, which was fourteen years ago next November, Miss Standish
Winifred Anstice, foreseeing a battle, made haste to the rescue. She
called out from her hammock:
When are we going to Flying Point? I think we all need change of
air for ourahem!nerves.
Woe to the person who undertakes to divert the lightning from
meeting thunder-clouds; unless he be well insulated, he is sure to fall
victim to his own well meant efforts.
Winifred, my dear, sniffed Miss Standish, you may remember that
it was only this morning when I asked when we were going to
Flying Point that you answered, 'Never, I hopeI detest picnics.'
Did I? laughed Winifred; well, it's true, and I cannot deny it.
I must agree with you there, said Ben. A picnic is an occasion
when all the food is picked and all the china nicked.
A picnic, said Winifred, is a place where you can accumulate an
indigestion without incurring an obligation. In this, it is an advance
upon a tea-party.
Picnicking with people you know is a bore, Picnicking with people
you don't know is a feat of endurance, echoed Flint.
Professionally, I am in favor of them, threw in Dr. Cricket. I
often feel like saying, with the old Roman, 'This day's work shall
Oh, come now! said Brady, you're all trying to be clever. This is
only talk. I think a picnic is great fun, especially a tea-picnic,
where you boil coffee, and light a camp-fire, and perch about on the
rocks over the water. You would appreciate that last privilege, if you
lived out on the prairies, where there is no water, and the rocks are
Bully for you! shouted Jimmy Anstice, who had been sitting by with
his hands clasped over the knees of his stockings to conceal the holes
from his sister's observant eye, but none the less eagerly following
the conversation. You're a peach; and why can't we go to-night?
That boy is all right, said Brady, smiling. He knows enough to
take the current when it serves. Off with you, Jim, while the tide is
out, and dig your basket of clams! Come on, Flint, and we will join
them at the Point! How will you go, and when?
I think we'd better go up in the Whites' sail-boat. There'll be
room for one of you, said Miss Standish, looking meaningly at her
nephew, for she had not yet forgiven Flint's indifference.
That's good, Flint said cheerfully. You take Brady. He's better
ballast; and I'll row up in my dory.
A good excuse for coming late and leaving early, said Winifred,
Flint bowed and smiled imperturbably, without troubling himself to
offer a contradiction.
Miss Standish swept past him with her Plymouth Rock manner. I will
go and look after the supper, she remarked, and added, as she reached
the door, however much people may sniff, there's nobody, so far as I
know, who is superior to food.
Nepaug picnic suppers had been reduced to scientific principles
under Miss Standish's rule. There was a picnic coffee-pot and a
picnic-dipper, a set of wooden plates and a pile of Japanese paper
napkins. All these went into one basket, together with cups and glasses
and knives and forks. Another, still more capacious, held the
sandwiches and biscuit, the cake and coffee, the pepper and salt,
beside the jar of orange marmalade, and the pies surreptitiously
borrowed from the pantry, where they were reposing upon the larder
shelf, tranquilly awaiting the morrow's dessert. Everything was neatly
stowed away,no crowding, no crumbling. Miss Standish was willing to
take any amount of trouble; all she asked was to be appreciated.
Flint certainly did not appreciate her. Her particularity he found
fussiness, her energy annoyed him, and her well-meant interest in
others appeared to him insufferable busy-bodyism. More than once that
afternoon he remembered her with a sense of irritation. A confounded
old maid, he called her to himself as he pushed off his dory from the
beach below the inn.
But no matter how irritable the frame of mind in which he started,
he could not help being soothed by the tranquillity of the scene around
him as he went on. The west was one sheet of orange. The brilliancy of
the sunset had faded to a tenderer tone. The spikes of the pointed firs
on the mainland stood dark against it. Over in the east, the moon was
rising, pale and spectral, with all her ribs showing like a skeleton
leaf. Jupiter shone out more clearly as the darkness deepened and the
shadows fell more heavily along the strip of shore.
The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon, large and low,
Flint quoted to himself. What is it that comes next? Something
'A mile of warm sea-scented beach.'
Must have been curiously like this. Where is Flying Point anyhow?
Oh, yes; there's the camp-fire.
Here comes Flint, cried Brady, as he heard the grating of the prow
of the dory on the gravel.
I should think it was time, grumbled Miss Standish, who had been
making great sacrifices to keep the coffee hot. For some inscrutable
reason, all the people with whom Flint came in contact felt impelled to
do their best for him, let their opinion of him be what it would.
Well, we thought you must be lost! called Brady from the height of
the rocks. We have all had supper; but we have kept some for you.
Thanks, answered Flint, from below, I am sorry you had the
trouble, for I took mine at the tavern before I started.
This was more than the descendant of Miles Standish could bear. With
a bang, she emptied the coffee-pot and knocked out the grounds, as her
ancestor had shaken the arrows out of the snake-skin to replace them
with bullets. Henceforth, she was implacable; and yet Flint never
dreamed that he had given offence. Imperfect sympathies again!
Winifred Anstice, whose misfortune it was to be peculiarly sensitive
to disturbances in the atmosphere, jumped up from under the pine where
she had been sitting with Brady. Come, she said, let's all sit down
around the fire. I want Leonard to recite for us. Will you, Leon?
Flattered, yet embarrassed, the young fisherman rose from his
occupation of tying up the baskets, and drew nearer. As he stood in
front of the fire, Flint looked at him with a thrill of æsthetic
admiration. His red shirt, open at the throat, showed a splendid chest
and a neck on which his head was firmly and strongly poised. His hair,
curling tightly, revealed the well-shaped outline of the skull, and the
profile was classic in its regularity. And that little fool doesn't
know enough to fall in love with him! thought Flint.
What'll you have, Miss Fred? asked Leonard.
Whatever you like.
Wal, then, ef you'd jes ez lief, I'll say 'Marmion.' I was learned
it at school. Throwing off his cap and striking a dramatic pose, he
The Douglas round him drew his cloak.
It is marvellous, the power of strong feeling to communicate itself
through all barriers. True emotion is the X-ray which can penetrate all
matter,yes, and all spirit too.
The hackneyed words burned again with the freshness of their primal
enthusiasm. Again Douglas spurned, and Marmion flung him back scorn for
scorn. It was not acting. Leonard Davitt could never have thrown fire
into a rôle which did not appeal to him; but this lived. He put his
soul into it, and he drew out the soul from his audience.
I must go now, he said, when he had finished, having ducked his
head shyly in response to the applause, and picked up his cap. I'm
goin' off at sunrise.
Where are you going, Leon? queried Winifred Anstice, coming up to
him where he stood not far off from the spot where Flint, in dead
shadow, leaned against the trunk of a giant pine.
Goin' off bars-fishin' for a week with the men from the Pint,
Leonard answered, and then added in a lower tone, you won't forget
your promise, Miss Fred.
No, I will not forget; but you must try not to cherish hard
Oh, I don't say it's his fault. Mebbe it's hers.
Perhaps it's nobody's, and perhaps there's no harm done after
all,at any rate, none that can't be undone.
Yes, there is, Leonard answered gloomily. The past can't never
come back, and things won't never be the same.
Oh, cheer up! Winifred answered more hopefully. Your going away
is the best thing under the circumstances, and I'll do what I can for
you; but I wish it were anything else.
Thank you, marm, and good-bye! With another shy duck, Leonard let
himself down over the rocks and sculled out into the strip of rippling
moonlight which stretched across the bay.
The moonlight fell also upon Winifred Anstice's face as she stood
looking after him, and showed a pathetic little quiver about the mouth.
An instant later, she dashed the back of her hand across her eyes, and
exclaimed, half aloud, It's too bad; I've no patience with him.
What a clear night it is! said Flint, stepping out from the
Winifred started a little. I thought you were sitting by the fire,
she said rather abruptly.
Indeed, Flint answered. It was one of his peculiarities never to
be drawn on to the explanations to which most people are driven by the
mere necessity of saying something. After all, he had as good a right
to the place where he was as Miss Anstice herself. Miss Anstice perhaps
was thinking the same thought, for she made no response, only stood
twisting and untwisting a bit of lawn handkerchief which bade fair to
be worn out before it reached home. At length, with the air of one
nerving herself to a difficult task, she turned about and faced Flint.
Lifting her clear gray eyes full to his, she began hesitatingly:
Yes, Miss Anstice.
Will you do me a favor?
No, not an 'assuredly' favor, but a real favor.
If I can.
Will you do it blindly?
No, I will do it with my eyes open.
The girl shifted her eyes from his face to the path of moon beams in
which Leonard's boat floated far off like a dark speck against the
ripples of light. When she went on, it was in a lower tone, with a note
in her voice which Flint had never heard there before,the note of
I am going to ask you a very strange thing, she said; I would not
ask it if I could see any other way.
Surely, Miss Anstice, you cannot doubt my willingness to oblige you
in any way. You have only to command me.
But it is not to oblige me. It isoh, dear! I can't explain, but I
want you to go away.
Flint rose instantly.
No, no, not away from this spot, but from Nepaug. That's it, she
went on insistently; I want you to leave Nepaug.
Flint stared at her for a moment, as if in doubt whether to question
her sanity or her seriousness. The latter he could not doubt, as he
looked at her eager attitude, her hands tightly interlaced, her head
bent a little forward, and a spot of deep red sharply outlined on
either cheek. Suddenly the meaning of her conversation with Leonard
flashed across his mind; but it brought only further puzzlement. He
motioned Winifred to sit down upon the great tree which lay its length
on the earth, overthrown by the last storm, and with stones and
upturned dirt still clinging to its branching roots.
Are you sure, he said gravely, as he took a seat beside her,are
you sure that you are doing right to keep me in the dark?
I think so; I hope so.
Of course I know you would not ask such a thing if there were not
something serious back of it all; and since it so nearly concerns me,
it seems to me I have a right to know it.
Dead silence reigned for some minutes. Then Winifred said, speaking
low and hurriedly:
Yes, you are right; I ought to tell you,I know I ought; but it is
so hard. Why isn't it Mr. Brady! He would understand.
Perhaps if you would explain, Flint began with unusual patience.
Well, then, it is about Tilly Marsden, who has been engaged these
two years to Leonard Davitt; and now she refuses to marry him, and he
thinks it is because she is in love with someone else. Surely
you understand now.
No, upon my soul, I don't. You can't mean that the little
shop-girlthe maid-of-all-work at the innisthinks she is in love
With you; exactly.
But I have hardly spoken to her.
The silence which followed implied that the situation was none the
less likely on that account. The implication tinged Flint's manner with
I suppose I am very dull; but I confess I don't understand these
Have you ever tried to understand them? returned Winifred, with a
sudden outburst of the indignation which had long been gathering in her
heart against the man before her.
Haven't you always thought of them only as they ministered to your
comfort, like the other farm animals? Is it really anything to you that
this narrow-minded girl has conceived a very silly, but none the less
unhappy, sentiment for you?
I began Flint, but the flood would have its way.
Oh, yes, it annoys you, I dare say. You feel your dignity a little
touched by it; but does it move your pity, your chivalry? If it
doesOh, go away!
Flint would have given much to feel a fever heat of anger, to flame
out against the audacity of the girl with an indignation overtopping
her own; but he only felt himself growing more cold and rigid. He told
himself that she had misunderstood him hopelessly, utterly. There was a
certain aggrieved satisfaction in the thought. He had risen, and stood
leaning against a tree. Winifred wondered at her own courage, as she
saw him standing there stiff and haughty.
I shall go, of course, he said at length. My absence seems to be
the only sure method of producing universal content. But let me ask you
one question before I go. Do you consider me to blame in this unlucky
Winifred parried the question by another.
Why should I tell you, when you don't care in the least what I
If I did not, I should not ask you, and I think I have a right to
demand an answer.
I can hardly answer you fairly. Is ice to blame for being ice and
not sun? We cannot say. We only know that we are chilled. I always have
the feeling that with those you consider your equals, you might be
genial and responsive; but the joys and sorrows of the great world of
uninteresting, commonplace people about you have no power to touch your
sympathies. Of course, in a way, it is not your fault that you never
noticed Tilly Marsden's manner
I am not a cad who goes about investigating the sentiments ofof
women like that. But you have your impressions of my character fully
formed, and I shall not be guilty of the folly of trying to change
them. To-morrow, I shall relieve Nepaug of my objectionable presence,
and, I hope, you will cease to fear me as a disturbing element when I
am far away at my office-desk.
You are going back to New York? echoed Winifred, uncertainly,
realizing all of a sudden what it was that she was sending him away
from, and to what she was consigning him.
Yes, of course, Flint answered a little impatiently.
I am sorry, the girl began lamely. It was just dawning upon her
that it was not so easy to control the destinies of other people, as
she had fancied.
Oh, that is all right! her companion responded more cheerfully;
New York in summer is not half so bad as you people who never stay
there probably imagine.
I don't know, said Winifred; to me it seems dreadful to be shut
up inside brick walls, or walking on hot paving-stones, when one might
be sitting under green trees, or by rolling waves, breathing in the
fresh country air. But I suppose I feel so because while I was growing
up I never lived in a large city.
Indeed! How was that? I should think your father's profession would
have kept him in the city.
Oh, it does now, of course; but for years after my mother's death
he was so broken down that he could not bear to mix with people at all,
and he chose to bury himself out on a Western ranch, and there I grew
up with no more training than the little Indian girls who used to come
to the house with beads and things to sell. It was a queer life for a
girl; but it was great sport.
Winifred had almost forgotten her companion for the moment in her
thoughts of the past; but as he rubbed his hand across his forehead in
the effort to recall something, she mistook the gesture for a sign of
weariness, and reproached herself for her egotistical garrulity.
I do wish, she said hastily, that there were some way out of this
unlucky matter,some way which would not send you back so
Never mind that, Flint answered; my vacation was almost at an
end, anyway. I am really needed now at the office of the
The 'Trans-Continental'? echoed Winifred. Do you work on that
Yes, I do a little writing for it occasionally.
Then perhaps you know the editorthe chief editor, I mean.
Yes, he is a friend of mine.
I envy you the privilege of calling such a man your friend. Oh, you
may smile if you choose, but perhaps, after all, you do not know him as
well as I do. I have never seen him, I don't even know his name, and
yet I have a clear picture of him in my mind. And he has been so
kindso good to me. His letters have helped me more than he will ever
know. Here a sudden thought seemed to strike the girl, and she lifted
beseeching eyes to his face.
You won't try to make him dislike me, will you? I know you never
did like me. I saw it the first time we met, when I was driving that
wretched colt, and we ran over your fishing-rod, and then, the next day
on the pond, and ever since, things have steadily kept going wrong
between us. So, of course, it would be quite natural for you to talk
about it all to him; and then he would never like me any more, and I do
want him to.
For an instant Flint felt a mad desire to keep up the illusion; but
he himself was too much shaken to have played his part if he would.
Miss Anstice, he said, I am the editor of the
Without another word, he swung himself down by the pine-bough to the
gravelly beach, and, pushing off the dory, slipped out over the same
moonlit course which Leonard had travelled. Winifred watched him till
his boat had rounded the Point; then she turned back to the camp-fire
in a daze. Do what she would, she could not shake off the spell of
those last words: I am the editor of the 'Trans-Continental.'
CHAPTER XI. THE POINT OF VIEW
Extract from the Journal of Miss Susan Standish. Nepaug, August
[From which it will appear that contemporary
journals are not always trustworthy.]
This August weather is really unbearable. Nobody but flies can be
happy in it, and they are part of the general misery. I sleep with a
handkerchief over my face to keep off the pests; but I invariably wake
to find one perching on every unprotected spot, and the others buzzing
about my ears, and making such a noise that I can't sleep a wink after
It is a very long time between five o'clock and breakfast. It would
be a sufficient incentive to a blameless life, to know beforehand that
you were to be condemned to think over your past for three mortal hours
This is what I do; and though I suppose I have been as respectable
as most people, I find cold shivers running down my back when I
remember some things, and the blushes of a girl of sixteen mounting to
my wrinkled forehead, when I think of others. On the whole, the silly
things are the worst. I think at the Judgment Day I would rather answer
up to my sins than my sillinessesespecially if my relatives were
waiting round. The only way I can turn my thoughts out of the
uncomfortable reminiscent channel which they make for themselves at
five o'clock in the morning, is to think as hard as I can about
somebody else. Lately, I don't find this so difficult; for our
household here at Nepaug includes some interesting people, and,
moreover, some very queer things have happened lately, I thank Heaven,
I have none of Dr. Cricket's curiosity; but I should be ashamed if I
were so indifferent to those about me as not to take an interest in
their concerns. This interest has led me of late to ponder on recent
events, and speculate as to their causes.
When I asked some very simple and natural questions of Winifred
Anstice, she snapped at me like a snapping-turtle; but I did not
discontinue my investigation on that account. On the contrary, I
resolved to be all the more watchful; and when it comes to putting two
and two together, there are few who have a more mathematical mind than
On Friday evening, we had a picnic supper at Eagle Rock.
Mr. Flint (superior as usual) preferred to go in the only society
which interests him, and therefore set off alone in his dory.
His absence did not have any visibly depressing effect on the party in
the sail-boat. Winifred was at her very best; and Philip Brady seemed
to appreciate her. If I were a matchmaker, I should have tried to throw
them together, for they do seem just cut out for each other; in spite
of all my efforts to give them opportunities of making each other's
acquaintance on intimate terms, they never appeared to take advantage
of them. But on Friday it was different. In the first place, anything
more warm-blooded than an oyster must have fallen in love with Winifred
at first sight on that evening. She wore a white flannel
yachting-dress, and a red-felt hat cocked up on one side, and as she
stood against the sail in the sunset, she wasWell, I'm too old to be
silly; but really that girl is something worth looking at when she is
nice. To-day, she looked like a frump, and talked like a fury.
The wind on Friday died out soon after we started; and at one time I
was afraid Mr. Flint would have the satisfaction of getting to the
Point before us; but, providentially, it sprang up again and, indeed, I
need not have worried, for it seemed he was afraid of being bored, and
did not start till six o'clock. Brady says he was always like that,
even in college; that when they were invited anywhere, Flint would
always put off the start, and would say, Your coming away depends on
your hostess; but your going depends upon yourself.
If it had been my house, said I, his staying away
would have depended on his hostess. I have no patience with a rude
Flint rude? said Philip.
Most decidedly rude, I should say.
Oh, but he is not rude. He is only indifferent.
Indifference is rudeness.
Then I'm afraid, Miss Standish, broke in Winifred, we must all be
rude to most of the world. That is, unless we belong to the Salvation
Army, like Nora Costello, and take an interest in everybody or rather
Very remarkable girl, that Nora Costello, said Philip. I don't
quite know what it was that made her so interesting.
I know, answered Winifred, with a little laugh; it was her
Or her manner, suggested Philip.
Oh, her manner without her looks would not have carried at all.
Manners are only thunder. It is looks that strike.
You should know, Philip said quite low. Just at this moment Jimmy
Anstice, with that exasperatingly inopportune way of his, called out:
Look, Fred! Did you see that fish jump? Gracious! He must have gone
up two feet! What makes a fish jump? Papa, Papa, do you hear me? What
makes a fish jump?
I don't know, my dear; I suppose to get food, or because he wants
Then why doesn't he jump oftener?
It has always been one of Professor Anstice's pet theories that a
child's mental development is promoted by the stimulation of
intellectual curiosity. As a result, Jimmy has been encouraged to ask
questions to an extent which the world at large finds somewhat
tiresome. For my part, I think one of the most useful accomplishments
connected with the tongue is the art of holding it; and I believe in
its early acquirement by the young.
After Jimmy's curiosity in regard to the habits of fish had expended
itself, there was no more tête-à-tête. Everybody was shouting
this way and that; and then the boat brought up at the rocks, and those
of us who could jump, jumped out, and those who couldn't, clambered
out; and Jimmy Anstice flopped into the water above his knees, as
usual, and had to sit by the fire getting dry, when he should have been
running errands and making himself useful. Small boys, being neither
ornamental nor interesting, should be either useful or absent.
Winifred and Brady started off after driftwood. I invited Ben to
help me with the coffee; but he said, Presently, and made off after
the other two. Really, that boy may come to something if he selects his
profession with care. He can't see when he's not wanted, which may make
him a success in the ministry.
Well, at last, we got our two fires started, and the tablecloth
spread; and the coffee tasted so good I just hoped Mr. Flint would come
to have some, because he made some disagreeable remarks in the morning
on the subject of picnics. Some people are never satisfied unless they
can spoil the enjoyment of others.
While we were eating, everybody was jolly and all went well, except
that Philip would tell stories,Western stories about commercial
gents and drummer hotels and such things. He tells a story very
well; but he also tells it very long. With the tact upon which I justly
pride myself, I tried to shut him up or draw him off; but each time
Winifred would bring him right back, with What was it you were just
going to tell, Mr. Brady? or As you were saying when Miss Standish
began, I was a good deal annoyed, for I couldn't quite make out
whether she was really interested, or whether she was making fun of us
both. Now I have a very keen sense of humor; but I don't like a joke at
my expense. At last Philip offered to give us a comic poem from the
Bison Spike; but that I couldn't stand; and I pretended
that the coffee was boiling over, and Winifred jumped up to attend to
it. Philip, of course, went to her assistance, and afterward, as he
stood before the fire with Winifred beside him, I could not help
thinking what a fine looking couple they would make. His golf suit
brought out the fine proportions of his stalwart figure. The firelight
played over his firm chin, his broad, square forehead, and his frank,
kind eyes. He would make a good husband for any girl; and a judicious
wife could soon break him of his habit of telling stories.
I dare say they would have had an interesting talk, if Ben Bradford
had not come up with his hands full of stone chips, which he calls
arrowheads. That ridiculous boy walks the furrows of old Marsden's
potato-fields for hours together, with the sun blistering the back of
his neck, quite contented if he brings home a dirty bit of stone, which
his imagination fits out with points and grooves. At Flying Point, he
had apparently reaped a rich harvest of these treasures. His companions
inspected them with civil but languid curiosity. While they were
turning them this way and that, and striving hard to be convinced that
the bulkiest had undoubtedly been employed by the Indians as a pestle
for corn-grinding, we heard the grating of a boat on the beach. Of
course it was Mr. Flint.
Ben called out to him to hurry up and have some coffee before it was
cold; to which he coolly answered that he had had supper before he
started; and there I had put off ours half an hour for him, and then
kept the coffee boiling another half hour! I would have liked to shake
Winifred saw that I was justly indignant; and though she can be as
peppery as anybody over her own quarrels, she is always bent on
smoothing down other people; so she called out:
Well, fortunately, Mr. Flint, you are not too late for 'the feast
of reason and the flow of soul;' and I am sure you did not get that all
alone there at the inn. I wondered if he appreciated that rather neat
little stab. Winifred does those things well, with a demure manner
which leaves people in doubt whether her remarks are vicious or simply
blundering. Come, Leon, she added, turning to young Davitt, you know
you promised to recite something for us.
Leonard stood up like a boy at school, and recited the speech from
Marmion where he and Douglas give it to each other like Dr. Cricket
and a hom[oe]opathic physician. Then he bobbed his head, just like a
schoolboy again, and said he must go. Winifred followed him, and spoke
to him, almost in a whisper. What they were talking about I could not
catch; but I heard her say, I will do it for you, Leon; but I wish to
goodness it were anything else. Then Leonard answered, just as if she
had given him some great thing: Oh, thank you, thank you! and then he
disappeared. At the same moment Mr. Flint took his place by her side.
Instead of joining us all, and making a jolly party, what does he do
but stand in the shadow of the three big pines talking to Winifred in
that insultingly low voice which seems to imply that people are
listening. I did, however, catch one or two things. I distinctly heard
Winifred say: Oh, do go away! and I heard him say: I hope you will
cease to fear me when There I lost it again; but what could it mean?
Winifred fear him!fear him! She, who never feared the
face of clay! There is only one explanation, and yet that is too wildly
I never saw any one more unlikely to inspire an affection. Flint by
name and Flint by nature,cold and hard as rock itself; and for a girl
like Winifred! It never could be!and yet, I confess, I don't know
what to think.
After they had talked together for some time, he swung himself down
the bank, pushed off the dory, and we saw him pulling rapidly into the
middle of the bay.
Well, if that doesn't beat the Dutch! said Dr. Cricket.
Hi, there! cried Ben; and Brady, standing up, waved his hat, and
hallooed through his hand with a volume of voice that could be heard
all the way to Nepaug. But though Flint hallooed in return, he never
changed his course, nor slackened his speed.
When Winifred came back to us, a color like flame burned in her
cheeks, and her eyes were bright with unshed tears. No one but me
noticed it. Every one fell upon her with questions.
What's the matter?
Why did he leave so suddenly?
Why did he come at all?
What did he have to say for himself?
Was this rude, or only indifferent?
Don't bury me under such an avalanche of inquiry, said Winifred,
with a little artificial laugh. There really is nothing very
mysterious about Mr. Flint's departure. He is not a flying Dutchman. I
don't think he wanted to come at all; but he was afraid we might think
something had happened if he failed to appear. Ben, the fire needs
another log. Mr. Brady, did you bring your banjo, as you promised?
This was a master-stroke,divert and conquer,presto, Ben was off
after wood, and Philip tuning up for alleged melodies; but I was not
so easily put off the track.
It took him some time to make his excuses, I said to her aside.
She looked up quickly.
You are too shrewd to be put off like the others, Miss Standish;
but don't say anything more,I'm so awfully tired.
The poor girl did look used up, and I knew she was longing to get
home, so I coughed violently, and asked Dr. Cricket for my shawl.
You are taking cold, said he.
Oh, don't mention it, I answered.
But I will mention it, persisted the dear old goose. You mustn't
stay out in this damp air.
Don't let me break up the party.
The party is all ready to break up, and it's time it did.
Oh, yes, added Winifred in a tone of relief. Do let us be going.
So that was the end of our Flying Point expedition. I might have
forgotten the episode in the shadow of the three pines, or at any rate
have come to the conclusion that I had failed to catch the true meaning
of the words I heard; but for the sequel.
The next morning Mr. Flint appeared on the porch as usual, but
instead of the cap and flannel shirt, the knickerbockers and canvas
shoes which formed his familiar Nepaug costume, he was attired in
ordinary citizen's dress. I must admit that the straw hat, linen
collar, and close-fitting blue suit were decidedly becoming; and,
bitter as I felt against him on Winifred's account (she came down to
breakfast confessing that she had not slept a wink), I was forced to
admit that Mr. Flint was a gentleman,even a gentleman with a certain
Yes, he answered to the chorus of questions which met him, I am
going back to town to-day. Yes, as you say, Mr. Anstice, quite
unexpected; but business men can't expect the vacations that fall to
the lot of college professors. Dr. Cricket, I believe you said you were
going on to New York to-night. I shall be glad if you will drop in and
have breakfast with me to-morrow morning at 'The Chancellor.' That will
give me the latest budget of news from Nepaug. Have you any
commissions, Miss Standish? What, none? I assure you, my eye for
matching silks is quite trustworthy. Now you, Jim, have more confidence
in me,what can I send you from town?
Flint and Winifred Anstice turned and looked at each other. What it
meant, I don't know; but I saw her color up to her hair. The others had
turned away for a moment to watch a schooner which had just come in
sight round the Point. Flint went up close to Winifred and said: And
youwhat will you have?
That you cannot have, for you don't need it. Will you take my
You are too generous.
With thanks?that is easy. They are 'the exchequer of the poor.'
I trust, Mr. Flint, said Professor Anstice, who, having withdrawn
his attention from the schooner, could now bring it to bear nearer
home,I trust we may not altogether lose sight of you after these
pleasant days together, I shall be glad
Yes, my dear, I know you should be included. My daughter and I will
be glad to see you at our house on Stuyvesant Square. With this he
pulled out a card, but, discovering in time that it contained the
address of his typewriter, he returned it to his pocket and substituted
I thank you, said Flint, with more of human heartiness in his
voice than I had ever heard before,I thank you, and I shall not fail
to avail myself of the privilege. Here comes the carryall! Good-bye!
A moment later he was gone. Dr. Cricket goes by the night boat this
evening, and Philip Brady leaves on Monday. How dull we shall be!
CHAPTER XII. PIPPA PASSES
The train for New York came along duly, and Flint clambered into it
as quickly as the impediment of his luggage permitted. He stowed away
his belongings in the car-rack,his bag, umbrella, and the overcoat
which seemed a sarcasm upon the torrid heat of the car. A flat, square
package which formed part of his luggage he treated with more
respectful courtesy, giving it the window-seat, and watching with care
lest it slip from the position in which he had propped it.
When the engine ceased to puff, and the bell to ring, when the
wheels began to revolve and the landscape to move slowly out of sight,
Flint leaned out of the window for one more glance at the dull little
cluster of houses, beautiful only for what it connoted; then he drew in
his head, and settled himself against the cushions of wool plush to
which railroad companies treat their passengers in August.
He was not in an enviable frame of mind. He felt like a fool who had
been masquerading as a martyr. He had given up two weeks of vacation,
of rest and comfort and health-giving breezes fresh from the
uncontaminable ocean, to go back to the noisy pavements, the clanging
car-bells, the noisome odors of the city,and all for what? Simply
because a jealous fisherman and a hysterically sympathetic young woman
chose to foist it upon him as his duty.
Duty? Why was it his duty? What was duty after all? Did it not
include doing to yourself as others would have you do unto them?
Decidedly, he had been a fool. As for Tilly Marsdenhere a vague
andshall I confess it?not wholly uncomplacent pang smote him, as he
remembered her red eyes, and the trembling of her hand as she set the
doughnuts before him this morning. There was one who would for a day or
two, at least, genuinely regret his departure. Let that be set off
against the aggressive benevolence of Miss Standish's parting,
indicating, as it did, unalloyed satisfaction.
From Miss Standish, his thoughts wandered to the other inmates of
the White-House. Ben Bradford at this hour would be lounging over the
golf field, driver in hand, making himself believe that he was taking
exercise. Dr. Cricket, no doubt, was playing chess with Miss Standish
(beating her, he hoped); and Winifred Ansticewhat was she doing?
Leaning back, perhaps, in the hammock, as he had seen her so often
lately, with one arm thrown over her head, pillowed against the mass of
cardinal cushions. Was she feeling a little remorseful, and bestowing a
regretful thought upon the man whom she was driving away from all the
coolness and comfort which she was experiencing? If he could be sure of
that, he could forgive her; but, as likely as not, she was driving
cheerfully about the country behind Marsden's colt, smiling, perhaps,
as she recalled the series of misadventures which had marked her
acquaintance with the supercilious stranger whose civility she and her
colt had put to rout.
Flint's morbid musings had taken more time than he realized, for at
this point, to his surprise, the conductor thrust his head in at the
door shouting, New London, as if the passengers were likely to
mistake it for the older city on the other Thames. Here a boy came
aboard the train with a basket laden with oranges, scalloped
gingerbread, and papers of popcorn labelled, Take some home.
The misguided youth tried to insinuate a package into Flint's lap,
but was met with an abrupt demand to remove it with haste. His
successor, bearing a load of New York afternoon papers, fared better.
Flint selected an Evening Post, and, leaning back in his corner,
strove to find oblivion from the wriggling of the small child in front,
and the wailing of the infant in the rear of the car.
Hotter and hotter, the blistering sun beat upon the station; and, as
though the misery were not already great enough, an engine, panting
apparently with the heat, must needs draw up close beside Flint's
In vain did he try to concentrate his attention upon the Condition
of the Finances, the Great Strike in Pittsburg, or the Latest Dynamite
Plot in Russia. Between him and the printed page rose the vision of
cool, translucent waves crawling up the long reach of damp sand to
break at last upon the little shelf of slippery stones. Could it be
that only yesterday he was tumbling about in that surf, and to-day
here? He thought vaguely what a good moral the contrast would have
pointed to the sixteenthly of one of his great ancestor's sermons; then
he fell to wondering if the old gentleman's theology would have stood
the strain of an experience like this. Fancy even this carful doomed to
an eternal August journey! Ah, the car is moving again! Thank Heaven
for that! Purgatory after Hell approaches Paradise.
On and on the train jogs, over flat marshes, past white-spired
churches, and factory chimneys belching forth their quota of heat and
smoke. The twin rocks, which guard New Haven, loom in view at last; and
Flint feels that he is drawing towards home. If it were not for the
square, flat package, he would get out and stretch his legs by a walk
on the platform. As it is, he picks up the package tenderly, and
transports it to the smoking-car. The air here, although filled with
smoke, seems more bearable. The leather seats, too, are more tolerable,
as his hand falls on them, and, best of all, he can light his pipe
here. With the first puff dawns a serenity with which neither faith nor
philosophy had been able to endue the journey hitherto.
After all, what are two weeks?a mere trifle; and he can make it up
by a run down to the Virginia Springs in October. This will give a good
quiet time too, for the foreign Review critiques. The libraries are
empty at this time of year, and he can study in peace. Of course there
will be a pile of letters waiting for him.
With that reflection, came, irresistibly, the thought of Winifred
Anstice, and their curious, mutually deceptive correspondence. In the
swiftly thronging events of the last twenty-four hours, he had scarcely
had time to let his mind dwell upon that strange clearing up between
them last night. He smiled, unconsciously, as he remembered the look of
utter bewilderment in those great eyes of hers.
Candy, sir, peanuts, oranges, and gingerbread! Popcorn in papers!
Take some home? With this the train-boy, quite oblivious that this was
the same person who had met his advances so cavalierly in the other
car, again held out an olive branch, this time a cornucopia marked
Ridley, best broken candy.
To his own surprise, Flint felt himself fingering in his pocket for
a dime, and heard himself say, That's all right, I don't want the
stuff. Take it in to that little chap in a striped suit, in the next
car,dirty little beggar, wriggled like an eel all day. This will
probably make him wriggle all night. Never mind, serves him right.
The boy grinned.
A passenger in the next seat turned round.
It is pleasant, he said with a smile, to see such kindness of
heart survive on a day like this.
Sir, answered Flint, don't mistake me for a philanthropist. I
make a small, but honest livelihood at a different calling.
The man's smile died out in a little disappointment; and he turned
again to his paper. Imperfect sympathies! Flint took up his paper also,
and read until the sudden shutting off of light warned him that the
train had entered the tunnel. Through the checkered darkness, he made
his way back; his flat, square package under his arm, to the other car,
where all was in the confusion of preparation for arrival. The pale
little mother of the wriggling boy looked up, as he entered.
Thank you, sir, she began; it was very kind in you
Not at all, madam; the boy would have been much better without it,
Flint answered. The art of being thanked gracefully is a difficult one,
and Flint had never acquired it.
The train came to a standstill with a jerk which, but for Flint's
hand put out to steady her, would have thrown the pale little woman to
the floor. He stopped at the car-steps, lifted her and her bundles, her
boy and her bird-cage, to the platform, then, touching his hat
hurriedly, as if in nervous fear of being thanked again, he made off at
full speed to the outlet, where his ears were greeted with the familiar
Cab, sir? Cab? Cab? Have a cab? which sounded like the chorus of a
Chinese opera. No, I won't have a cab, unless you intend to treat me
to a free ride, Flint remarked, ironically, to the nearest applicant,
and then swung himself aboard the yellow car at the corner.
As it made its way downtown, he was struck with the strangeness
which the city had assumed, after so short an absence. It did not look
like New York at all; and he could not remember noticing before how
large a part of the population lived on the street. It reminded him of
Naples. He was forced to admit, too, that it had a certain charm of its
own,a charm which deepened as he reached The Chancellor, the
bachelor apartment-house which did duty for a home to a score of
unmarried men. He was met by the janitor with a cordiality born of the
remembrance of many past gratuities. Yes, his telegram (wire, the man
in uniform called it) had been received, and his rooms were in order.
He pulled out his latch-key and turned it in the lock. The door opened
on an interior pleasantly familiar, yet piquantly removed from the
dulness of every-day acquaintance. The matting was agreeable to his
foot. The green bronze Narcissus in the corner beckoned invitingly;
above all, the porcelain tub in the bath-room beyond, with its
unlimited supply of water, and sybaritic variety of towels, appealed to
him irresistibly. Into it he plunged with all despatch, and emerged
more cheerful, as well as less begrimed.
An hour later, clad in fresh linen, white vest, and thin summer
suit, he sallied forth in search of dinner. He felt that he had earned
a good one, and did not intend to scrimp himself. After a moment's
deliberation, he turned into Fifth Avenue, and, at Twenty-sixth Street,
made his way through the open door of Delmonico's. He saw with pleasure
that his favorite table (the second from the corner on the street, not
too conspicuous, and yet commanding the avenue) was vacant. He slipped
into the chair which the waiter drew out for him, and took up the bill
of fare. With the sight of the menu, he felt his flickering appetite
revive; but it was still capricious, and would not brook the thought of
meat. Little-Neck clams, of course. They seemed to convey a delicate
intimation to the waiting stomach of favors to come. Soup? No, too hot
for soup. Frogs' legs à la McVickar? Yes, he would have those, though
he did not exactly know what à la McVickar indicated, and felt that
he should lose caste with the waiter by inquiring. When that
functionary recommended a bite of broiled tenderloin, prepared with
Madeira sauce, and the addition of fresh mushrooms and a small
sweetbread, he allowed himself to be persuaded. An English snipe, with
chicory salad and some cheese, with coffee, completed his order. Oh,
and a pint of Rudesheimer with it!
The waiter departed; and Flint, not hungry enough to be impatient,
settled back in his chair with the damp evening paper unopened beside
him. The sigh he gave was one of satisfaction, rather than regret. His
gastronomic taste was to some extent feminine. He cared as much for the
service as for the thing served, and found a carnal gratification in
the shining glass and the table linen, smoothed to the verge of
slipperiness. Really, he wondered how he could have endured the Nepaug
Inn so long.
A hand laid upon his shoulder caused him to turn his head quickly.
Halloa, Graham! You here?
Yes, we sail on the 'Etruria' to-morrow,only in town over night.
Beastly hot, isn't it? My wife is here. Come over, won't you, and let
me present you?
Now Mr. Jonas Harrington Graham, though one of the most fashionable,
was by no means the best beloved of Flint's acquaintance; and it was
with an inward conviction of perjury that he murmured, Most happy, I'm
sure, and made his way to the table by the centre window which the
Grahams had selected. The lady already seated there was sleek and well
appointed. Flint noticed that the people at the other tables did her
the honor to prolong their casual glance to an instant's critical
inspection. The women studied her costume of black with white lace as
if wondering whether the confection of a Parisian artist might not be
successfully duplicated by a domestic dressmaker (as it never can,
ladies). The men's gaze generalized more, but had in it a hint of
approbation which Flint found offensive. He did not relish the idea of
making one of a restaurant party which challenged observation; but he
perceived at once that it was unavoidable. Mrs. Graham was very
gracious, and insisted, with much emphasis, that he should take his
dinner with them.
You must come and dine with us at our table. You look so
lonely over there, she remarked. I have some sympathy with bachelors.
My husband was one once.
Yes, answered Flint; I knew him in those pre-madamite days.
This allusion was too occult for Mrs. Graham. She smiled the smile
of assent without apprehension, and asked if Flint had been at Bar
Harbor this summer. He should have been; it was so pleasant. The
young man felt a wild desire to set forth the rival charms of Nepaug,
and urge her to try it next season. The thought of her and her husband
settled at the inn made him smile as he saw her lift a roll in her
delicately ringed fingers, and smooth back the lace of her cuffs. What
would happen, he wondered, if she were seated before a Nepaug dinner,
with a Nepaug tablecloth and napkin?
I have not been so far afield as Mount Desert, he answered, with
an irrepressible smile at his own thoughts. I stayed in town till
July, and then I went to Nepaug. Perhaps you never heard of that
delightful summer resort?
Nepaug? Nepaug? repeated Mrs. Graham, with as near an approach to
reflection as she ever permitted herself. Why, that's where Winifred
Anstice was going! Do you know Winifred Anstice?
Do you know her? Flint questioned in his turn, in some
Oh, dear, yes; we met her one summer when we were travelling in the
West. We were visiting on the same ranch. Mr. Graham quite lost his
head over her; didn't you, dear?
Well, I was a little touched. She showed up uncommonly well out
there,rode a broncho, and beat all the men firing a pistol.
Yes, his wife added, and then so cleverso frightfully
clever. Why, I've seen her reading before breakfast, and not a
novel either. You and she must have enjoyed each other; for Mr. Graham
tells me you are
Frightfully clever, too? Don't believe any such slander, I beg of
you, Mrs. Graham! It is not fair to blast a man's reputation like that
at the very outset. What chance would there be for me in society, if
such a rumor got abroad?
Well, responded Mrs. Graham, there's a great deal of truth in
what you say. It's very nice of course to be lively and good company,
and all that; but when it comes to right down cleverness, and
particularly bookish cleverness, it does stand in a man's way socially.
At the smartest houses, they don't want to be talked down, and still
less to be written up afterward. I don't feel so myself. I just dote
on literary people; but then I am called positively blue.
What was there to do at Nepaug? asked Mr. Graham, who had not
followed the intricacies of his wife's remarks. Any good shooting?
I'm afraid not, unless you rode a cow and shot at a goat, Flint
answered, and was rather relieved to have the conversation drift away
on to the comparative merits, as hunting-grounds, of the different
sections of the country. The subject was not specially exciting to
Flint; but it was at least impersonal, and he felt an unaccountable
aversion to hearing any further discussion of Winifred Anstice.
The diners had advanced to the meat course,Graham having
complimented Flint so far as to duplicate his order, with the addition
of an ice for Mrs. Graham and Pommery Sec for the party,when a noise
was heard further up the avenue. The sound drew nearer, and the notes
of a brass band tooted a lively tune which re-echoed from the walls of
the Brunswick, and drew a crowd from the benches of the square. Several
people in the restaurant left their places, and came to the window to
investigate the commotion. Flint himself rose, napkin in hand, and
stood under the blaze of the lights, looking out.
Oh! exclaimed Mrs. Graham, raising her lorgnon as the procession
came in sight, it's that horrid Salvation Army!
Bless me! so it is, assented her husband, adjusting his eye-glass.
Pretty girl, though, thatin the front row with the tambourine.
Flint's eyes followed his companion's, and saw Nora Costello walking
a few paces in advance of her comrades, the electric light from the
northern edge of the square falling on her pale face and rings of dark,
The tambourines jangled discordantly; the brass instruments were out
of tune; the rag-tag crowd surged about, some jeering, some
cheering,everything in the environment was repellent, but in the
midst shone that pale face like a star.
Attracted by the brilliant lights within, or perhaps impelled by
that curious psychic law which arrests the attention of one closely
watched, the girl turned her head as she passed their corner, and her
eyes met those of Flint; she smiled gravely, and he bowed.
Graham saw the interchange of glances, and looked at the man beside
him, with the raised eyebrows of amused comprehension. Flint could have
I don't see, said Mrs. Graham, returning to her venison, why they
let those creatures go about like that, making everybody uncomfortable.
They are very annoying.
Yes, very. So were the early Christians, murmured Flint, as he
helped himself to the mushrooms.
I never studied church history, said Mrs. Graham, a little
repressively. She felt that the conversation was bordering on
blasphemy, and sought to turn it into safer channels. She begged Flint,
whom, she looked upon, in spite of his denials, as alarmingly
cultivated, to recommend a course of reading for the steamer, so that
she might be up on the associations of the English lakes.
You know, she said, I just adore Wordsworth. I think 'Lucy
Grey' and 'Peter Bell' are too sweet for anything, and the
'Picnic'no, I mean the 'Excursion' is my favorite of them all. So
light and cheerful; I'm glad the dear man did take a day off once in a
Flint gravely promised a Life of Wordsworth, to be sent to the
Etruria to-morrow, and then, bidding his companions adieu, he passed
out into the night.
His mood, as he strolled up the avenue, was far from complacent. He
felt a contempt for himself, as the sport of every passing impression.
It was not enough, it seemed, that he should have cut short a summer
vacation, and come hurrying back to the city at Winifred Anstice's
behest. He must vibrate to every whim about him. He had found, with
inward disgust, that he was raising his elbow to shake hands with the
Grahams, instead of holding his hand at the customary, self-respecting
angle; and that he might be still further convicted of weak mindedness,
he had a sense of being in some inexplicable fashion dominated by the
vision of Nora Costello and her comrades. Not that he experienced any
sudden drawing to the Salvation Army; he felt, to the core, its
crudeness, its limitations, its social dangers. His reason assured him
that its methods threatened socialism and anarchy. He could have
demolished all General Booth's pet theories by an appeal to the
simplest logical processes, but that it seemed absurd to apply logic to
so crude a scheme. Nevertheless, said conscience, these people are
striving, however blunderingly, to better the condition of the forlorn,
the wicked, and the wretched. What are you doing about it? He
had almost framed a defence, when it suddenly occurred to him that he
was under no accusations, except from his own soul, and such thoughts
and impulses as had arisen at sight of Nora Costello, moving in the
world outside the social wall behind which he had intrenched himself.
I suppose, he said to himself, with a shrug, if I were living in
the Massachusetts of a hundred years ago, I should be considered in a
hopeful way to conversion. Now, we have learned just how far we may
indulge an emotion, without allowing it to eventuate in action.
Yet the passing of Nora Costello, like the passing of Pippa in the
poem, had left its light, ineffaceable touch on at least one life that
CHAPTER XIII. A SOLDIER
'T was August, and the fierce sun overhead
Smote on the squalid streets of Bethnal Green;
And the pale weaver, through his windows seen
In Spitalfields, look'd thrice dispirited.
I met a preacher there I knew, and said:
'Ill and o'erworked, how fare you in this scene?'
'Bravely!' he said; 'for I of late have been
Much cheered with thoughts of Christ, the living bread.'
Nora Costello was even more moved than Flint by their chance
meeting, if meeting it could be called, under the white light of the
lamps of Madison Square. On leaving Nepaug, she had resolutely shut out
of her mental horizon the acquaintances that she had made in her few
days there. She felt instinctively that any further continuance of the
associations would be fraught with embarrassing complications, if not
actual perils. These people belonged to a world to which she was as
dead as though she had taken the black veil in a convent.
As the daughter of the manse, in her young girlhood she had come in
contact with people of refinement and some wealth; people of keen
perceptions if somewhat pronounced limitations; and she realized that
in enlisting in the Salvation Army, she had not only shocked their
prejudices beyond repair, but had wrenched herself out of their
sympathies in a degree which could not have been exceeded by an actual
crime on her part.
Time had in some measure healed the sensitiveness which had been
sorely wounded by the withdrawal and disapproval of these early
friends; but she seemed to feel all reflected and renewed in her brief
acquaintance with the strangers at Nepaug, especially in her
intercourse with Miss Standish. There is a curious resemblance, which
lies deeper than outward circumstances, between New England and
Scotland. The same outward environment of frugal poverty, the same
inward experience of intense religious exaltation, continued from
generation to generation, produced in early New England a type closely
allied to the Scotch Covenanters, and many resemblances still linger
among their descendants, widely as they may be removed from the
primitive conditions which formed their ancestors.
Miss Standish's manner was marked by all the old Covenanters'
directness, and in spite of her prepossession in Nora Costello's favor,
showed clearly that she looked upon her as an extremist, if not a
What took you into that Salvation Army? she had asked, as she sat
by Nora's bedside in the upper front chamber of the White-House.
A divine call, I hope, Nora had answered.
Couldn't you have done just as much good in some of the churches?
Very likely, but there's many will be doing that work, and there's
no over-crowding among us highway-and-hedgers.
Nora remembered a curious little look on Miss Standish's face, as if
she thought the answer savored of sarcasm. This expression had led her
on to further explanation:
I know just how folk will be feeling about the Army. I know how I
felt myself before I signed the Articles of War,as if it was much
like joining a circus-troop, going about so with a brass band.
Well, isn't it? asked Miss Standish, bluntly.
Nora colored, but answered amiably: No, it does not look so to me
now,whiles there's things in the Army work for which I've no liking
myself, the noise and a'; but such things are not for you and me. We
can get our spiritual aid and comfort somewhere else; but these are
like a snare spread for the souls we are hunting, and when you see the
rough men come round us like those in the London streets, it's fair
wonderfu' how they be taken wi' the drums and torches.
Humph! sniffed Miss Standish, it is as easy to gather converts
with a drum as to collect flies round a lump of sugar,men will always
come buzzing about where there is any excitement. The question is, Have
you got the fly-paper to make 'em stick?
At Nepaug Nora had smiled at Miss Standish's blunt questions; but
here, in the depression of spirits caused by overwork and the deadened
atmosphere, the words came back to her with overwhelming force. When
she rose on the morning after seeing Flint standing in the window at
Delmonico's, she found more than one importunate question arising in
her mind. Was it worth while after allthe sacrifice she was making,
the work, the worry, and above all the contact with so much that
offended her taste and judgment?
Were not those people behind the curtains, with their purple and
fine linen, more nearly right than she? They at least found and gave
pleasure for the momentwhile she? Then there swept over her the
recollection of the drunkard who had shouted loudest in the hallelujah
chorus and reeled home drunk after the meeting, of the penitent girl
whom she had seen one night dissolved in tears, the next out on the
streets again at her old calling,Yes, she admitted sadly, Miss
Standish is right. It is one thing to catch them, but another to keep
them. If it had been only the sinners, she would not have minded so
much, but there were some things about her fellow-officersHere she
stopped, for her loyalty would not allow her to go on, even in thought.
This mood of depression was not an uncommon thing in Nora Costello's
life, but she sought the antidote in prayer and work.
After her morning devotions, she spent an hour in setting her room
to rights; watering the plants on the window-sill, feeding the bird in
the cage, and then, after a breakfast of the most frugal sort, she
started on her way to her post. Although it was not yet eight o'clock
when she emerged from the door of the tenement-house where she lodged,
a haze of heat hung over the city like a pall, the sun was already
beating with a sickening glare upon the sidewalk, which still showed
signs of having been made a sleeping place by those who found their
crowded quarters within too suffocating for endurance. On the doorstep,
worn with the feet of the frequent passers, sat a weary woman, nursing
her baby. Nora's heart sank as she noticed the deathly pallor of the
little thing. She stopped, bent over, and listened to its breathing.
Then she lifted the eyelid streaked with blue, and looked into the fast
That bairn needs a doctor, she said to the mother. Come with me;
there is a dispensary on the next block.
Rising stupidly, with her infant in her arms, the woman in dull
obedience followed her down the sun-baked block to the door marked:
PATIENTS TREATED FREE FROM TEN TO TWELVE O'CLOCK.
Nora looked at the sign in discouragement; instinct told her that
two hours of delay would be fatal. The child was evidently nearing a
state of collapse. Turning about entirely baffled, Nora's eyes fell
upon an elderly man coming down the street at a brisk trot, a
travelling bag in one hand and a large white umbrella in the other. He
was evidently a gentleman,which was strange, for gentlemen did not
often appear in Bayard Street. What was stranger still, he looked up at
the numbers of the houses as if he were seeking a friend, and,
strangest of all, at the sight of herself he took off his hat, and her
astonished gaze rested upon Dr. Cricket.
Well, well, Captain, the little Doctor cried, peering at her with
his near-sighted frown. I am in luck. I came down on the night
boat, and hurried over here right away; but we were so late I was
afraid you might have got off to headquarters to report for duty. I
promised Miss Standish when I left Nepaug that I would surely see you
on my way through New York. She felt so worried about your coming back
so soon to this town, which is like a bake-oven,or would be if it
All this the good Doctor poured forth so rapidly that Nora could not
get in a word edgewise. When at length she found space to utter a
reply, she cried out, Oh, Doctor, never mind me, but take pity on this
bairn! It's in an awfu' way.
Pooh, Pooh, nothing of the sort! answered the Doctor, with
professional cheerfulness, before he had fairly glanced at the child.
Then aside to Nora: We must get into the dispensary somehow. Water,
hot and cold, are what the child needs. It is near a convulsion.
At this juncture, as eight o'clock was striking, the dispensary
clerk arrived, key in hand, and, seeing the emergency, put all the
resources of the building at the disposal of Dr. Cricket, who soon
brought a better color to the little face, and handing the child,
rolled in a blanket, to the mother, bade her keep it cool. The woman
looked blankly at the rising wave of heat outside; Dr. Cricket too
looked out, and felt the shadow of her hopelessness fall on himself.
Here, he said suddenly, pressing a bill into her hand, take that;
get your baby dressed and onto the Coney Island boat as quick as you
The woman took the bill and crumpled it in her fingers; but she
turned away without uttering either thanks or protest.
You must na mind the ongraciousness o' the puir mither, Nora said,
as they turned away. She is too fashed and clear worn out to have any
sense o' gratitude left. In her excitement the girl dropped into a
nearer approach to dialect than marked her ordinary speech.
My dear young lady, said the Doctor, do you suppose I hold you
responsible for the manners of Bayard Street? You won't be here to be
held responsible for anything long if this heat lasts. I wish to the
devil (excuse me!) I could get you out of the hole. We need just such a
person as you at our Sanatorium in Germantown. What do you say to
coming to try it for two months at least?
The offer chimed in so with her morning thoughts that it seemed to
Nora a direct temptation of the devil, and she thrust it away almost
Never be speaking o' such a thing! Do you think I would desert now
when the war is raging?
I don't know anything about your Salvation Army jargon, answered
the Doctor, with equal brusqueness; if it's the war with sin you're
talking about, you needn't be afraid of lack of fighting wherever you
goI'll wager Philadelphia can furnish as lively service as New York.
Nora laughed, showing her white teeth in genuine amusement.
Well, I'm fearing you're richt, Doctor, and you must na fancy I
dinna recognise your kindness in wanting to get me out of 'this hole;'
but I'm called to work right here, and I must 'stay by the stuff,' like
the men in the Bible.
Then my taking the trouble to come here without any breakfast goes
for nothing, said the Doctor, a little crossly. He liked his own way,
and he liked to help people, and this girl was balking him in both
Good for nothing! cried Nora. You must na say so. You dare na say
so, when God put it into your hands to save a life! Dinna ye remember
the story of Abdallah, and how the golden leaf of his clover, the most
precious leaf he found on earth, was the life which it was given to him
Nora stopped in her words, as in her walk, for they had reached the
corner where her division headquarters stood. Dr. Cricket made no
answer to her little sermononly put out his hands in response to
hers, and gave her a grip like a freemason's. Maybe you're right after
all, he said, and I like your pluck, right or wrong. Only remember,
if you want help, or think better of my offer, just drop a line to Dr.
Alonzo Cricket at the Sanatorium.
When the good-byes were said, Nora stood a moment watching the
Doctor's little figure moving jerkily down the street under its white
umbrella. I believe he was sent, she said to herself. I must try to
be to some other puir soul what he has been to me this day.
At her desk at headquarters Nora found a memorandum of four letters
to be written,three to men in the prison at Sing-Sing. These she
despatched speedily, with the aid of a typewriter; but the fourth she
wrote with her own hand, for it was in answer to one from an orphan
girl who was coming to New York in search of work, and who desired to
be put in the way of finding a safe boarding-place. Nora's heart was
touched by a peculiar sympathy at the thought of the girl's loneliness,
so closely allied to her own, and she wanted her to feel that it was a
friend, and not merely an officer of the Army, who responded to her
appeal, and held out the right hand of fellowship.
It was eleven o'clock when the letters were written, and Nora ran
downstairs to vary her industry by cutting out baby-clothes in the
workroom. Just as she was taking the shears in hand, however, news was
brought in of an accident to a factory-girl who had crushed her foot in
the machinery, and had been brought home to her lodgings in the house
on the next corner.
To this house Nora went, and found the girl alone, and weeping more
from loneliness than suffering. The doctor had left, promising to come
again, and to send an ambulance later in the day, to take the sufferer
to the hospital. Nora knocked gently at the chamber door.
Come in! a voice from within answered wearily.
The visitor, standing in the doorway, was impressed by the
dreariness of disorder which reigned inside. Such a room would have
been impossible to Nora herself while hands and knees and a
scrubbing-brush were left to her. In one sweeping glance she took in
the hastily dumped clothing on the floor, the bureau heaped with mussy
finery, the fly-specked window-pane, and soiled bed-spread.
Who are you? asked the girl, raising her head from the pillow.
Oh, one of those Salvation Army women, she added, as she caught sight
of the dark bonnet.
Yes, answered Nora, I heard of your accident and that you were
all alone. I have come to try to help you.
You can't. Nobody can help me. I wish I was dead. With this the
girl buried her face in the pillow and resumed her half-hysterical
Nora wisely wasted no words in trying to prove her ability to help,
but began quietly to hang up the clothes, to slip the soiled lace and
brass chains from the top of the bureau into the drawer, to close the
blinds, and fold a towel over a basin on the chair within reach of the
There, she said, maybe if you could wash you'd feel a bit more
comfortable, and I'll run round to my lodgingsthey're not far
offand back in no time.
When she reappeared, it was with a snowy white dimity spread taken
from her own bed, a pitcher of ice-water, and a large palm-leaf fan.
When the bed was re-made, the self-appointed nurse seated herself by
the bedside of the sick girl, promising to stay until the coming of the
ambulance, and settling down to listen to all the details of the
accident, which seemed to give the victim a grewsome satisfaction in
When the ambulance arrived, and the patient departed, the nurse
began to realize that it was three o'clock, and that she had had no
food since seven. As the Bible-reading was at four, she had time only
for a hastily swallowed cup of tea, and a slice of bread and butter,
with a bit of cold meat, before the reading, after which she went home,
bathed, rested, and supped, before presenting herself again at
headquarters for the night duty, which called her to patrol the streets
with a companion officer (a dull, rather coarse woman, who exhorted
and sang through her nose) until after midnight.
Then she went home and to bed, inwardly thanking Heaven for her
happy day. She felt, as she would have said, that she had been awfu'
CHAPTER XIV. TWO SOUL-SIDES
Thanks to God, the meanest of his creatures
Boasts two soul-sidesone to face the world with,
One to show a woman when he loves her.
A man's character is like the body of a child,it grows unequally
and in sections. Certain qualities in Flint had lain throughout these
thirty-three years wholly undeveloped and unaffected by the culture of
other characteristics. In his case the dormancy of the sympathetic side
of his nature was no doubt largely due to the absence of those close
family ties which call out in most of us our first sense of the kinship
of the race.
Flint had no recollection of either father or mother, and he was an
only child. On his mother's death, he was sent to the home of an uncle
and aunt in Syracuse. They received him without enthusiasm, and only
because it was inevitable that the child should be cared for, and there
was no one else to undertake the task. Flint sometimes recalled, with a
feeling of bitterness against Fate, those early years of repression,
when silence and self-obliteration were the only merits or attractions
asked for in the orphan boy.
Those formative years might have proved a much drearier period but
for the circumstance that his uncle's house was provided with a
library, made up of books of all grades and qualities. To these volumes
young Jonathan was at liberty to help himself without let or hindrance,
provided he handled them with care.
Mr. Mullett Flint was a collector of books, but not a reader.
Elzevirs and Aldines and first editions bound by Rivière pleased him as
so much pottery might have pleased him, and he took great pride in
relating how the value of his purchases had increased on his hands. His
guidance in the paths of literature would not have been of great
benefit to his nephew had he been disposed to offer it; but, in fact,
he wasted little thought either on the contents of books or on his
nephew's mental progress. His tastes, interests, and ambitions lay
wholly in the business world, in the making of money, and the handling
of mercantile affairs of magnitude. Had Jonathan, as he grew older,
shown more sharpness and sagacity, some bond of sympathy, if not
attachment, might have formed itself between the two. As it was, they
drifted farther and farther apart. The uncle looked with a shrug of his
shoulders at the boy curled up in one of the library arm-chairs on a
Saturday morning, poring over a volume of the Waverley Novels, when he
himself was briskly making ready to betake himself to business.
I wish that boy had any enterprise. I'd rather see him breaking
windows or shooting cats out the back door than dawdling like that, he
said once to his wife.
Yes, answered that worthy lady,and he wears out the furniture
Mrs. Mullett Flint was one of those heavy, apathetic women who seem
to have a special attraction for brisk, energetic men of Mr. Flint's
type. If he ever made the discovery that apathy and amiability are not
identical, he never revealed his disappointment to the world,perhaps
for the same reason that he kept silence over the failure of other
investments, lest the rumor should injure his reputation for shrewdness
as a business-man.
From the beginning Mrs. Mullett Flint had taken one of her apathetic
dislikes to the little Jonathan. He was no kindred of hers, and she
thought it rather hard at her time of life to have her housekeeping put
about by a boy whose feet were always muddy and who had a reprehensible
habit of tucking them under him when he sat down, as he did with utter
lack of discrimination in the matter of relative values in furniture.
Her manner toward the child was not intentionally unkind, but it was
wholly devoid of the tenderness which is as necessary to the growth of
a child as air and sunshine to a plant. She always called him by his
full name, which sounded strangely prim and formal applied to the
little kilted figure with its thatch of black hair. He recalled
distinctly once going up to the long pier-glass between the two windows
and stroking his own hair as he had seen a mother across the street do
for her boy at the window opposite, and then saying softly, in
imitation of supposed maternal tones, Johnny! Dear little Johnny!
Such moods of sentiment were exceedingly rare in Flint's earliest
infancy, and grew rarer as he advanced in life. At twelve he was sent
to boarding-school, and thence to college, with scarcely an interval of
home life. In college he formed several friendships; but in each he was
and felt himself the superior, whereby he lost the inestimable
privilege of looking up.
There had been a decided difference of opinion between Mr. Mullett
Flint and his nephew in regard to the choice of a college. Mr. Flint
strongly urged that the family traditions should be preserved, and that
Jonathan should pursue his education under the shadow of old Nassau,
where giant Edwards stamped his iron heel. The nephew was as strongly
prejudiced against Princeton as the uncle in its favor. He declared
that the educative effect of living for four years within sight of his
venerated ancestor's grave in President's Row was more than offset by
other considerations, and that if the influence of the departed still
lingered about the college halls he was as likely to fall under the
spell of Aaron Burr as under that of Jonathan Edwards. With all the
headstrong will of youth he determined to go to Harvard, and carried
his point, though not without a degree of friction, which alienated him
still farther from his uncle.
It was, therefore, with immense surprise that, on Mr. Flint's death,
which occurred in Jonathan's junior year at college, the young man
learned that his uncle had left him his library and a substantial share
of his fortune. The terms of the will were not flattering. To my
nephew, Jonathan Edwards Flint, so it ran, I leave this amount,
realizing that the money left him by his father is inadequate for his
support, and that he will never have the energy to make a living for
The widow wrote a conventional note of combined self-condolence and
congratulation for Jonathan over his inheritance. Between the lines
Flint quite easily read that her latent aversion to him was augmented
by her husband's bequest.
I have decided, she wrote, to go at once to London, where I shall
probably reside for some years. I shall therefore strip my house of
furniture preparatory to renting. I will pack up the books which now
belong to you, and await your instructions as to the address to which
you would like them forwarded. Should we not meet againand I presume
you will agree with me that it is hardly worth while to interrupt your
studies at Cambridge for a trip to New York before the steamer
sailspray accept my best wishes for your future happiness and
With this cool leave-taking Flint's association with his aunt had
come to an end. The books, which were his earliest friends, followed
him about from place to place, until at length they had found a home on
the walls of his study in The Chancellor.
The work of his first solitary evening after his return from Nepaug
was to pull off the sheets and newspapers with which the caretaker of
his room had vainly striven to protect them against the all-pervading
dust of summer. He sat in his easy-chair, running over the titles with
the endeared eye of long familiarity.
There stood a set of Edwards's treatises, in eight ponderous
volumes; their leaves yellow with age, and cut only here and there at
irregular intervals. Freedom of the Will and The Nature of Virtue
jostled Original Sin; and The History of Redemption leaned up
against God's Last End in the Creation of the World.
On the same shelf, as if with sarcastic attempt to mark the logical
sequence, Flint had placed a black-clad row of John Stuart Mill's
essays, while Hume and Hobbes looked out above and below. It amused
Flint, as he sat there alone, to fancy these polemical gentlemen
issuing from their bindings and sitting down together around his
evening lamp, to talk things over. Probably, he mused, with that idle
pensiveness which is the lazy man's apology to himself for not
thinking, the thing which would surprise them most would be to see how
much they held in common. If they could get rid of the cant of theology
and the jargon of metaphysics, they would find that they were not so
far apart after all. But I don't know that that would gratify them so
much,certainly not the old parson, for he belonged to the Church
Militant if ever any one did, and dearly loved to belabor his enemies
with the spiritual weapons too heavy for any but him to handle. Well,
it was a temptation to let something fly, be it Bible or
brickbat, at the head of the average dullard. How was it that some
people did not find the average man dull? There was Winifred Anstice,
for instance,she seemed to find something interesting in every one
she met. Perhaps because she did not try to approach them on the
intellectual side at all, but took them into her sympathies and soothed
their troubles, as he remembered that mother across the way from his
uncle's house soothing the little son and wiping away his tears.
Perhaps, after all, she was right and he was wrong. It was
almost the first time in Flint's life that he had ever definitely
formulated a confession that his attitude towards life in general was
not what it might be. Once formulated, it began to grow upon him
curiously. He found himself reviewing whole courses of conduct, and
testing them by new rules and standards.
At first these rules and standards were cold and rigid abstractions;
but gradually they took on a faint echo of personality, and he found
himself speculating on what Winifred Anstice would have done or said,
on occasions when he felt himself to have been harsh and hard. This
haunting influence was intensified by the presence of the portrait
which he had brought away from Nepaug; the picture of the gray-robed
Quakeress, with the soft dark eyes, and the white lace, and the point
of flame at her breast.
He had lost all appreciation of its artistic qualities. The mottled
softness of the curtained background against the folds of the woollen
stuff gave him no pleasure now,at least, he never thought of it. His
whole attention was absorbed in that faint hint of resemblance to
Winifred Anstice which lay chiefly in the full eyelids and the subtle,
shadowy, evanescent smile which said at once so much and so little.
He could not tell how it fell out, but at last the time came when he
admitted the source of its charm. He recalled the time sharply long
after, and how he had risen hastily, and paced the floor with his hands
thrust deep into his pockets. That it should come to thishe, Jonathan
Flint, a man whose gray hairshere he stepped before the mirror and
studied the tuft of prematurely white locks upon his foreheadwhose
gray hairs ought to have brought with them wisdom, or at least common
sense,that he should fall to sitting for hours in front of a picture
like any schoolboy of eighteen! Really, it was too absurd!
He would send off the portrait to the cleaner to-morrow, and then
when it was properly framed, it should be sent to Miss Anstice with his
compliments, and so an end of the whole matter. He would never see it
Nor the original?
This query was so insistent that it seemed to come from outside his
consciousness, and to demand an answer. He stopped short in his walk as
it struck him. Then, alone as he was, he colored to the temples, and
gave a little gasp. Like an overwhelming tidal wave there swept over
him the realization that his will was mastered by a power above it,
mightier than itself; that his seeing Winifred Anstice again was hardly
a question of volition any longer, any more than breathing was a matter
of willthat he must see herthat the chief question of his
future was whether she cared to see him.
This train of thought did not tend to anything very cheerful. One
after another he recalled their interviews, on the road, in the boat,
on the beach, and again at Flying Point. Her manner on each of these
occasions had been sufficiently pronounced to leave him in no doubt of
her opinion; and at the last two meetings her words had been even more
explicit. She had called him a man of ice. She had taxed him with the
narrow limits of his sympathies. Well, said Reason, did you not give
her cause for all she said and more? Weren't you an odious, crabbed,
Flint took a savage satisfaction in admitting every accusation which
he could bring against himself, in recalling the light irony with which
Winifred Anstice had witnessed his blunders, and the direct, downright
anger with which she had dealt out her judgments there at the Point.
Only one drop of comfort could Flint extract from the memory of that
interview, and he smiled cynically as he remembered the warmth which
marked her description of her friend, the editor of the
Trans-Continental. When the surprises of the sudden enlightenment and
the emotion of the moment had passed away, which feeling, he asked
himself, would remain in her mind,the liking for the ideal or the
disliking of the experienced? For both there was not room, yet each was
intense. It was a curious psychological problem. At a further remove it
would have afforded him a keen intellectual pleasure to speculate upon
the probable working of a woman's heart under such conditions. As it
was, he found himself incapable either of solving the problem or of
letting it alone. His mind dwelt upon it continuously. He was almost
inclined, like Eugene Aram, to tell his story disguised to strangers,
and listen to their idle speculations. Brady was a comfort at this
time. He was so responsive in his sympathies and so obtuse in his
perceptions. It was possible to talk all round a subject to him with no
fear that his imagination would travel a step farther than it was led.
It needed no urging, either, for he appeared to have a sentiment of his
own for Nepaug and all its associations, and drew towards it as
naturally as a moth to a flame or a woman to a mirror.
Indeed, Brady often dwelt spontaneously upon the various episodes of
the days at the beach,the fireworks, the shipwreck, the evening at
Flying Point. He was a capital mimic, and loved to imitate Dr. Cricket
striding up and down the room, with his hands clasping his elbows
behind his back and his chin-whiskers thrust out before as a herald of
his approach. Then casting aside all the scruples which should have
been raised within him by ties of blood, he would give a burlesque of
Miss Standish peering out from beneath her little gray curls at the
world, and rapping out her opinion of those around her in good set
After her came Mr. Anstice, looking busily in every corner for the
book he had in his hand. This the mimic followed by a representation of
Ben Bradford, with hand propped on knee and chin on hand, glooming from
his corner upon Winifred Anstice, when she ventured to address some one
I cannot do Miss Anstice, Brady confessed one evening. It was
October then, and the two friends were sitting together in Flint's
room. She has too much humor. The more humor there is in an original
poem, for instance, the harder it is to parody, and so with people. The
grand, gloomy, and peculiar are easy enough, let them be ever so
august; but the light, delicately ironical manner is a difficult thing
Yes, assented Flint, the heaviness of touch necessary to
caricature spoils the effect.
Precisely, said Brady, and it is as difficult to take off her
looks as her manner. Her expression is too changeable to leave any
characteristic fixed in the mind. The fact is, Miss Anstice is almost a
beauty at times.
You think so? responded Flint, with half-closed eyes.
Yes, I do reallyin a waynot like that Madonna-type of Nora
No, certainly not like her.
But still she has a style of her own.
Oh, yes, quite soas you say, she has a style of her own.
You are very cool on the subject; but you should have heard a man
at the club go on about her, when he heard that we had spent our
vacation at Nepaug.
I should scarcely think, said Flint, opening and closing his
match-box with a quick, nervous movement, that you would have allowed
her name to come up at the club.
Oh, hang it, Flint, that is going pretty far! I don't know that
Miss Anstice's name is too sacred to be mentioned in general society;
and as for the club,why, if it is not made up of gentlemen, what did
you put me up for?
It was seldom that Brady got off so much of a speech, and he felt a
little elated by seeing his friend without an answer for the moment.
Besides, he continued, nothing was said, except about what a
stunning girl she was. 'Handsomer than ever,' Livingston said, 'since
she came home.'
So the Anstices are at home?
Yes, and Cousin Susan is coming down next week to visit them. She
wrote me to be sure to call.
I shall try to go before Miss Standish arrives.
You and Cousin Susan never did hit it off very well.
Excuse me, I think she hit me off very well; the fact is, the
femme sole after fifty becomes either pious or pugnacious. Miss
Standish is both.
You are prejudiced, as usual, and malicious, too, under the guise
of impartiality. Miss Standish is a benevolent woman, with an
irresistible bent towards doing people good even against their will.
Flint groaned assent. Alas, yes, he muttered.
She is a fine woman, continued Brady, and a fine-looking one too,
as Dr. Cricket will testify, for on my soul I think the old duffer
wants to marry her.
I wish he would, and rid the world of an officious old maid.
'Old maid' is an opprobrious term. Miss Standist is a
well-preserved single woman.
Hold there, Brady! She is really not sugary enough for a preserve;
I should say rather well canned. But never mind, I can forgive her some
acidity toward myself, in consideration of her sweetness to Nora
Costello. She has really been good to that girl.
Who could help it! exclaimed Brady, unguardedly. Then he cleared
his throat with a nervous little cough, and began again with would-be
unconcern: By the way, I don't know whether I told you, that the day
after you left Nepaug, Jimmy Anstice picked up a gold brooch on the
beach, just where you came ashore after the wreck. It was a homely,
old-fashioned thing, with a gold-stone centre big enough for a
tombstone; but Jim brought it to me with all the pride of a discoverer.
I turned it over, and on the back I saw engraved in the gold, 'To Nora
from her Mother, on her birthday, November tenth,' Of course I knew in
an instant that it belonged to Nora Costello. Then it came to me how
the girl spent most of the day while she was at Nepaug wandering up and
down on the beach. Of course she was looking for her brooch; but she
was afraid, if she said anything, it would look like accusing somebody;
and besides, very likely with her queer ideas she felt that she ought
not to have kept any piece of jewelry, even if it was her mother's.
You seem to have studied her feelings rather closely.
Why, of course, when one meets a pretty girl like thatand really
you know she is the prettiest I ever saw
How long is it since you said the same of Miss Anstice?
Ah! that was before I met Nora Costello. 'Time's noblest offspring
is his last.' But if you will keep still and listen, instead of
interrupting all the time, you will hear something about the little
plot which Miss Anstice and Cousin Susan and I have laid among us.
I should say it was well. Just you wait and see. Cousin Susan is to
write to Nora.
Nora? commented Flint, with raised eyebrows.
Yes, Nora, repeated Brady, somewhat defiantly. If I said Captain
Costello you would not know whether I was talking of her or her
Oh, yes, I should, said Flint, for you never talk of him at all;
but never mind thatgo on with your revelations of this deep
You don't deserve to hear; but as it gives me pleasure to tell you,
I will. Cousin Susan writes to the Costellos to come to the Anstices'
house on the evening of November tenth. They arrive. We are there
already. Tableauold Nepaug minus Dr. Cricket and Ben Bradfordand a
bouquet for Mistress Nora, with her brooch hanging from it in a little
bag which Miss Standish was manufacturing when I came away. Now isn't
that a scheme?
The tenth of November, responded Flint, as though the latter part
of the sentence had escaped himand am I to be invited?
Why, of course! exclaimed Brady, impatiently. Weren't you the one
to save her life? Worse luck to you for having the honor fall to your
Then, said Flint, with that curious obliviousness of the important
parts of his companion's remarks,then in common civility I ought to
call there beforehand.
Ah! Flint, I'm glad to see you waking up to some decent sense of
What time is it? asked his friend, absently, oblivious of the
watch in his pocket.
Quarter before eight, Brady answered.
Then out of my room with you, for I have just time to dress and get
down there. If one must do these things, the sooner they are out of the
way the better.
CHAPTER XV. A BIRTHDAY
An Extract from the Journal of Miss Susan
Standish, New York, November 12.
It is nearly two weeks since I left Oldburyport, and in spite of the
Anstices' hospitality I have been homesick ever since. When we reach
middle age nothing suits us so well as village life. The small events
occupy and divert our minds without wearying them with the bewildering
whirl of the city. The interest of our neighbors in us and our affairs,
which is annoying in youth, becomes more grateful as life goes on, and
we discover how little real thoughtfulness and interest in others the
world contains. As for the narrowing influences of village life, I
don't see that people in Oldburyport are any more provincial or
prejudiced than they are in New York,not so much so, I really think,
for they are forced by the very smallness of their circle to find their
interests in the affairs of the great world, and the lack of social
excitements gives them so much more time for reading. To be sure, when
people are unhappy there is less to divert their minds, and when they
are irritable they feel more at liberty to vent their tempers, because
they know folks cannot get away from them so easily. I confess I was
not sorry to take leave of Cousin John, though I did feel sorry for
him, as he sat there all alone with his gouty foot up on the chair in
front of the Franklin stove in the sitting-room. He is not satisfied
with Philip, and seems to hold me responsible. He would like to have
Phil come home to live and be cashier of the bank.
Cousin John thinks the world revolves round the Oldbury bank; and I
suppose it is natural he should, seeing how long he has been president,
and what a fine reputation it has the country round.
Of course Philip does not see it in the same light, and it seems he
made some ill-advised speech,said he would rather turn sexton and
bury other people than be buried alive himself in a hole like that,
which was not a nice thing for him to say to his father,but that was
no reason why Cousin John should swear at him, and tell him he was sick
of his capitalist airs, and he for one should not be surprised if he
came some day to beg for aid from the bank he thought too insignificant
to be worthy of his attention.
Philip was furious. Bankrupt I may be some day, he answered, but
I promise you I will go to the poorhouse before ever I ask help of you
and your infernal bank.
This was the state of mind in which they parted, when Philip had
come home for his first visit in years. I could have shaken them both
for their obstinacy and lack of common sense; but it is always so when
men live alone. They need a woman about the house to accustom them to
being contradicted. Now if Philip married a girl like Winifred, she
would soon straighten things out. I can see now how Cousin John would
dote on her and pretend not to care very much, and scold sometimes when
he had the gout; but all the while be her slave and spend his life
trying to give her pleasure. That is what ought to happen, so of course
it won't. Instead, Philip will go and marry some uncomfortable sort of
person with a mission. Oh, dear! what if it should be? There, I will
not allow my mind to turn in that direction. I have a sort of
superstition that thinking too much about any unfortunate thing helps
to bring it about. I think it must be this city life which makes me
feel so blue and discouraged. The fact is, I do not like New York. In
the first place, because it is not Boston; and in the second place,
because it is New York. There is too much of everything
heretoo much money, too much show, too many lamps, and sofa-pillows,
and courses at dinner. Then everybody seems to be everlastingly at work
getting ready to live. Here is Winifred, for instance, tearing up and
down for hours after upholsterers and paper-hangers, toiling about from
shop to shop, and from Broadway to Sixth Avenue, matching samples and
trying æsthetic effects which no one but herself cares anything for
when they are accomplished. And by the end of the day she is so tired
that she falls asleep when I read aloud to her in the evening.
Why do you fuss so about everything? I asked her the other day.
We don't fuss in Boston.
That accounts, she answered,which was not very civil, I thought.
She has certainly grown very queer this fall. She told me this morning
that she thought the Unitarians were as bigoted as anybody. Now she
never would have said a thing like that this summer when she was living
in the open air. It's my opinion that two things are telling upon
her,furnace heat and the influence of that Mr. Flintespecially the
last. Why, it just seems to me as if she were trying to make herself
over into the kind of woman he would be likely to like. She has dropped
her old hoidenish ways and goes about as prim as a Puritan. She says
she is always like that in the city, and that her Nepaug ways are only
a reaction; but I don't believe it. He comes here a great deal, that is
certain; and I don't think it is very gentlemanly, after her begging
him, as I heard her with my own ears, to go away. But he is too selfish
to care what any one wants but himself. For some reason or other it
suits his plans just now to try to please Winifred.
The first night I was here Winifred was telling him about Maria
Polonati, the little Italian girl who sells flowers at the corner of
the Square, and how she had made friends with her, and learned all
about her padre and her madre and the playmates she had left behind
her in the bella Napoli. Winifred knows how to tell a thing so it
seems to stand right out like the old Dutch women in the pictures, and
I could see that Mr. Flint was taking it all in, for all he said so
little; and so he was, for the next time he came he walked right up to
Winifred's chair and dropped a great bunch of violets into her lap.
The little girl at the corner sent you these, he said; and
Winifred smiled as if it were the most natural thing in the world for
that cross-grained egotist to do a thing like that. He did it rather
gracefully, I admit; but a Boston man would have done it just as well,
if he had only thought of it.
Of late Mr. Flint has taken to dropping in once or twice a week of
an evening to play whist,he and Winifred against her father and me.
Now I like to beat as well as any one; but I do like some show of
organized resistance, and this young man's playing is what I call
impertinently poor, as if he did not think it worth while to try.
Winifred seems just as well satisfied to be beaten as to beat, and the
Professor takes a guileless and childlike satisfaction in his triumph
which is quite pitiable. I take pains to let Mr. Flint see that I at
least am not taken in; but he only smiles in that exasperatingly
non-committal way of his, as if it mattered little enough to him what I
thought one way or the other. After the game is over he gets a chance
for a few minutes' talk with Winifred while I am hunting up my knitting
and her father his pipe, and it is my belief that it's just those few
minutes that he looks forward to all the evening, while he is ignoring
his partner's trump-signal and leading from his weak suit.
Winifred has caught a very annoying trick of turning to him on all
occasions, as if waiting to know what he thought before making up her
mind. Altogether I don't like the look of things at all.
Of course there was no getting out of inviting Mr. Flint to the
little birthday party which we were planning for Nora Costello. To tell
the truth, nobody but me seemed to want to get out of it. Professor
Anstice says he is the most agreeable man that comes to the house, and
when I confided to him that I was afraid Winifred would fall in love
with him, he answered: She might do worse. She might do much worse.
That was all the consolation I got in that quarter, and with Winifred
herself it was as bad. I thought it might do good to recall some of her
early impressions, which seem to have changed so mightily of late.
Don't you remember, I said, how you called him a refrigerator?
Did I? she said with a little laugh. Well, he was rather frigid
in those days.
Yes, and you said how disagreeable his manners were, and how
thoughtless he was of every one but himself.
At this Winifred colored up as if they hadn't been her own very
words. If I said it, she answered with a little toss of her head, or
if anybody else said it, it was a stupid slander, which grows stupider
every time it is repeated.
I was a little nettled myself at her answering me like that. You
didn't think so, I said, when you begged him to go away from Nepaug.
At this Winifred jumped straight up from her chair, running her hand
through her hair in a way she has when she is excitedDid you hear
that? Then you must have been listening, she cried out, as if she were
accusing me of chicken-stealing.
If you think that of me, Winifred, the sooner my trunk is packed
the better, I answered, as stiff as the Captain's monument on Duxbury
In an instant Winifred was on her knees by my side, and had thrown
her arms around my neck.
No, no, dear Miss Standish, I do not think it, and I ought not to
have said it. It only made me feel so badly to think of any one's
having overheard my secret, which after all was not my own.
Now here was my chance to find out the very thing which had been
bothering my old head all these weeks. I had only to pretend to know
and I should hear it all, for Winifred was in one of her rare
confidential moods. But that inconvenient New England conscience of
mine not only would not let me pretend, but it pricked me a little with
Winifred's accusation of having listened. Perhaps if my ears had not
been strained just a trifle, I should not have caught as much as I did
of the conversation at Flying Point. Anyway, I felt bound to confess
I did not hear anything but just your asking him to go away, and
his answering rather reluctantly that he did not want to, but he
Then, said Winifred, you are bound to take my word for the
meaning of the snatch of talk you heard, and I tell you that he acted
like a gentleman and a very honorable gentleman; moreover, that from
that good hour I began to be ashamed of my rash estimate of him (I
always do jump in overhead in my judgments) and am only waiting for a
chance to tell him so frankly, and to ask him to forget all my rude
After this there was no more to be said. I only pray to be kept from
arguing. The habit of making comments has brought me into more trouble
than all my other vices put together. Well, this time grace was given
me to hold my tongue. When I saw a note addressed in Winifred's hand to
J. Edwards Flint, Esq., I did not even observe that it would have
been as well to let her father write it, nor did I say what I
think,that I hate to see a man chop off his first name with a capital
and write his middle name in full. It always looks like an alias. The
man who does it is either trying to attract attention or trying to get
rid of it.
Everything else about the birthday scheme ran as smooth as a ribbon
from Jordan &Marsh's. I begged leave to make the cake, and it came out
of the oven done to a turn, white as snow inside and a golden brown on
the crust. Nora Costello and her brother came at eight o'clock just as
they had promised, with unfashionable promptness. They looked somewhat
surprised to see the house so lighted up, and Nora gave a timid little
glance at Winifred's rose-colored waist (a woman doesn't forget how
clothes look just because she joins the Salvation Army); but she
herself was a picture in spite of her dressperhaps because of it, for
the close-fitting blue gown, with its plain band at the neck and
sleeves, set off her fine features and the noble carriage of her head.
The chief decoration of her dress was a scarlet ribbon coming
diagonally from the shoulder to the belt, marked Jesus is My Helper.
I did wish she had not felt called to make a guy of herself with that
thing; but she seemed so unconscious of it herself that I should have
forgotten it too if Mr. Flint had not been coming; but I hate to see a
scoffer like him get hold of anything ridiculous in religion. Now we
Unitarians stand midway between scepticism and superstition. I wonder
everybody can't see it as we do.
I am bound to say, however, that Mr. Flint behaved exceedingly well.
A thorough acquaintance with the world seems to give pleasanter manners
sometimes than a religious nature. Anyway, he came forward and greeted
her very handsomely. He handed her a little volume of Thomas à Kempis,
For those leisure hours which you never have, he said. The girl
looked mightily pleased but a little bewildered, and still more so when
Philip Brady followed with a great bunch of the reddest of red roses
(trust men for always picking out red flowersI don't believe they
know there is any other color). Tied by a satin ribbon to the flowers
was the little blue bag which I made at Nepaug, and inside it lay the
lost brooch. I never saw any such delight as shone on Nora Costello's
face when she drew out the pin. She looked from one to another of us,
then at the pin in her hand, which she turned about and about, crying
over it softly. At length she brushed away her tears and smiled a real
child's smile of pure pleasure. Look, Angus! she exclaimed, holding
out her treasure to her brother, the lost is found. Do you mind the
day Mither gave it me, and how she bade me have a care, for that I was
a heedless lass and like to lose it?
Ay, I mind it, answered her brother, a flush of gratified pride
and affection mounting to his high cheekbones. How can we thank these
How indeed! echoed Nora. Oh, how good it is to have it back! she
exclaimed, fondling the brooch as though it had life and could feel.
But where did you find it, and whyAh! I see, she added, as she
turned it in her handyou dear, good folksand here it was only this
morning I thought the Lord had clean forgot 't was my birthday.
I wish I could recall on paper the little foreign accent of the
Scotch girl which seemed to add so much to the charm of her simple
speech. Her big drooping eyes were wet with tears, and the little
homesick note in her voice made an irresistible appeal to the hearts of
those who heard it,at least it did to mine, and I sneaked away behind
the lid of the grand piano, which was open, to get out my pocket
handkerchief, for I did not choose to make a spectacle of myself, and I
don't know how to cry prettily, like Nora Costello. My nose gets red,
and my eyes look as if I were addicted to the use of intoxicating
When I emerged from behind the screen of the piano, I saw Philip
Brady standing over Nora Costello, and looking down at her in a way
that made my heart jump. She is a sweet girl, and a good girl, and a
beautiful girl; but really this wouldn't do at all. Fancy Cousin John's
son going round with a drum, keeping company with a tambourine. Shades
of Dr. Charming forbid! Now why couldn't it have been Mr. Flint? That
would have been poetic justice. Conversion of an atheistmarriage on
the platform in presence of the Army. She is too good for him; but
still I would have given my blessingbut here everything is snarled up
and getting worse all the time.
The surprises of the evening were not over yet, for the most
remarkable remains to tell. While we were all sitting at table
(Winifred did look startlingly handsome under the pink candle-shades)
the bell rang, and a messenger boy appeared.
Could he not leave the package? Professor Anstice asked, when he had
signed the ticket the boy took out of his hat, where for some
inscrutable reason New York messengers carry everything.
No, he was ordered to give it to Miss Anstice herself.
Very well, said Winifred, bring it in by all means. Perhaps some
one has mixed things a little, and fancies that it is my
birthday that we are celebrating.
So in came the package, and with it a great bunch of violets, and a
card which said, The little girl at the corner sends you these.
I saw Winifred's hands tremble as she untied the ends of the
package. The wrappings fell off and she saw a picture.
Whatwho is it? Winifred asked, turning from one to another of us
with bewilderment in her eyes.
A relative of yours, I believe, Mr. Flint answered quietly. Her
name is Ruth. She formed the habit of eloping in her youth, and had not
the heart to refuse my entreaties to run away with me when I left
Then in an instant it flashed across Winifred and all of us that
this was the portrait for which she had been searching all summer (any
one might have recognized it, for the resemblance to Winifred about the
eyes and mouth is unmistakable), and she knew of course that Mr. Flint
had been the one to find it. Her way of taking the affair was very
characteristic. There was no tearful tremulous gratitude like Nora
Costello's, but a great overflow of pride and gladness. Rising, with
her just filled wine glass in her hand, and her head thrown back a
little as if in a pride which had a shade of defiance in it, she called
out, A health!a health! Here's to my great-great-grandmother, the
runaway bride, and to the generous man who restored her to the bosom of
Every one looked bewildered, but all laughed and drank the toast (I
noticed that the Costellos drank theirs in water), and then began to
ask questions as fast as they could talk. The health broke up the
feast, and every one crowded about the portrait. As Winifred and Mr.
Flint stood close behind me, I overheard, this time without intention,
upon my honor, an exchange of remarks between them.
You have shown yourself very generous, Mr. Flint, Winifred
remarked. You will not surely be so un_generous as not to let us
make some little return for your gift. I am not ignorant that such a
portrait has a value besides that of sentiment.
You touch me there on a sore point, Miss Anstice, Mr. Flint
answered. I am afraid the person to whom you are really indebted is
old Marsden, for I knew if I offered him anything like the real value
of the picture, he would hold it for the price of a Raphael. So I made
him set his own price, which the sly old dog thought a staggering one,
and which I found so absurdly low that I shall feel bound to remember
him handsomely at Christmas.
You are jesting, Winifred answered, speaking lower; but I am in
earnest. Can we not persuade you to let us pay for this picture? For
the pleasure you have given us we never could repay you.
If it is a question of payment, said Mr. Flint, sinking his voice
still lower, I am so deep in your debt that it would bankrupt me to
straighten our accounts. If it is a question of generosity, and I
should come to you some day and ask
Did you say it was a Copley?
This question from Philip broke in upon Mr. Flint's aside. He
answered with some asperity, No, it was painted in England before
Copley's time. It is unsigned, but the artist, I should say, was
After this response Mr. Flint turned his head in an instant; but the
charm was snapped. Winifred had slipped away, and the company was
breaking up. How the man would hate me if he knew that it was I who set
Brady on to ask that question!
Winifred is tired to-day, and took her breakfast in bed. I
wonderPshaw, what good does it do to wonder?
CHAPTER XVI. YES OR NO
A man's homage may be delightful until he asks straight for
love, by which a woman renders homage.
The Anstices' house stood on the sunny side of Stuyvesant Square. It
belonged to the type common in the lower part of the city fifty years
ago,a type borrowed from Beacon Street, as Miss Standish was fond of
pointing out, and never improved upon for comfort. Its red-brick front
swelled outward, not in the awkward proportions of the modern
bay-window, which suggests some uncomfortable protuberance; but with a
gracious sweep from the front door to the limits of the next property.
In front ran a balcony with a finely wrought iron balustrade, over
which clambered a wistaria vine hung with purple clusters in the
spring, and green with foliage throughout the summer.
The front door was framed by glass side-lights set in delicate oval
mouldings, and above, the colonial fan-light lined with silk fluted in
a rising-sun pattern, gave additional cheerfulness to the hall within.
This hall was of generous proportions, and suggestive of land sold
by the foot rather than by the inch. At the back a white staircase
railed with mahogany wound its way to the second story, and at the
right a broad silver-knobbed mahogany door opened invitingly into the
The charm of the Anstice drawing-room lay in its being no
drawing-room at all, but just a living-room, reflecting the taste and
habits of the people who occupied it. Jim's parrot usurped the window,
where he chattered in the sun all day, and flew about at his will, much
to the injury of the curtains. Between the windows and the white casing
of the mahogany door, stood an old desk strewn with papers in some
confusion; for Professor Anstice was fond of bringing his writing from
the study on the upper floor to Winifred's domain. The piano occupied
the opposite side of the room, the coffin-like gloom of its polished
rosewood enlivened by a tall vase brilliant now with the chrysanthemums
which autumn had brought. A shaded lamp glowed on a table loaded with
books and drawn cosily to the side of a deep couch, and on the other
side of the fire, which shot out little hisses of heat on this chilly
afternoon, stood the tea-table, with its delicate old-fashioned silver,
its transparent china cups, and the plates of hot toasted muffins and
ethereally thin bread-and-butter sandwiches which McGregor brought in
punctually at five every day.
The old butler was the one extravagance of the Anstice ménage, and
as Winifred said, she saved his wages out of the china that he didn't
break,which was one way of looking at it,and then, McGregor was so
much more than a butler! He was housekeeper and parent's assistant and
family counsellor all in one. He advised Professor Anstice as to the
weight of overcoat called for by the temperature outside. He reminded
Jimmy of his mittens and rubbers, and his respectful but significant
glances informed Winifred of the exact estimation in which he held her
Flint was a special favorite, and the bow he accorded him was
equivalent to a benediction.
Yes, sir, he said this afternoon, Miss Anstice is in the parlor.
I am just taking in the tea. Having relieved the visitor of his hat
and coat, he ushered him in with the air of a protector, and then,
after drawing the curtains and lighting the alcohol lamp under the
silver kettle, he withdrew noiselessly and deferentially.
What a treasure that man is! said Flint, looking after him as he
disappeared. He is better than forty coats of arms as a guarantee of
respectability, and the welcome which he extends to callers is a
perpetual testimonial to the hospitality of the household.
Ah, Winifred answered, smiling, you say that because you belong
to the most favored nations. You might not think him so genial if you
saw the frigidity with which he receives some of our guests.
Then I suppose I have only to be thankful that McGregor has not yet
caught a hint of my real character, as set forth last summer so vividly
by his mistress, and I think I have one more friend in the household;
what do you say to that, Paddy?
The dog had risen from his comfortable doze in front of the fire,
and stood stretching himself, with two shaggy paws thrust out in front.
When he heard his name called he wagged his tail and came up to Flint's
chair, by which he squatted, laying his tawny head cosily across the
Come here, Paddy; don't make yourself a nuisance!
The dog listened calmly to his mistress's invitation, wagged his
tail again, and winked his sleepy eyes, but made no motion to obey.
Flint patted the dog's head.
This is too bad! Winifred exclaimed, in assumed indignation.
Jimmy has already learned to oppose my opinions by quotations from
what Mr. Flint thinks and says; but I will not have Paddy taught to
defy my authority.
Go, Paddy! said Flint, moving his chair further back. Your
mistress regards me as a dangerous character, and considers it her
solemn duty to remove every one in her charge from the risk of the
injurious effects of my society.
In spite of Flint's jesting tone there was a hint of bitterness in
his voice. The dog, in some surprise at the sudden withdrawal of his
head-rest, stood up, looking from one to the other, apparently in doubt
as to the rival claims. At length old habits of allegiance asserted
themselves, and he seated himself in the angle between the tea-table
and his mistress's chair.
Winifred's mood suddenly seemed to have changed from gay to grave.
She sat for a moment or two in silence, her hand softly playing with
Paddy's long ear, and her head bent ever so little to one side.
Mr. Flint, she said at last, somewhat abruptly, I want to tell
you a little story; but first let me make your tea. Do you take lemon?
Yes, if you please.
One lumpno, thanksno more.
Try this brown-bread sandwich. Now, lean back in your chair and
listen. Once there was a girl
Yes, there was, and she was a very stupid girl, and all the
stupider that she thought herself rather clever. She fancied that she
was very acute in reading character, and she trusted a great deal to
instinct, and first impressions, and all that sort of rubbish by which
women excuse themselves from taking the trouble to use their reason.
Well, once upon a time, this girl met a man whom she did not like. Her
vanity was touched, in the first place, because he disapproved of her
and showed his disapproval.
What a cad he must have been! Flint put in.
Now you are no better than the girl I am telling you aboutgoing
off like that on insufficient evidence. The girl made up her mind at
once that the man must be at fault, since he failed to appreciate
her,all our estimates are based on vanity, you see in the last
analysis,so she proceeded to fit him out with a character to match
her ideal of him. He was to be selfish and cold, and regardless of
everybody but himself, and supercilious and domineering, and endowed
with all the other agreeable qualities which go with those engaging
epithets. This answered very well for a while, and I am bound to admit
that at first youI mean heseemed to play the part which she had
assigned to him very satisfactorily; but presently little things began
to come to her knowledge which refused to fit into the picture she had
made of him. He had a friend who let slip stories of inconsistently
kind things he had done for a man whom he had known in college,
pooh-poohing them all the time as folly.
Exactly what the girl said. They didn't go with the character of
the kind of man that she had made up her mind this was to be, so she
would not believe them, and kept repeating every disagreeable thing she
had ever heard him say as an antidote against any change of impression.
But stupid as she was, she was not quite dishonest, even with herself,
and when gradually her eyes were opened to the wrong which she had done
him in her own mind, she longed for an opportunity to make him some
amends; but all the opportunities came to him, and the coals of fire
were heaped on her head till she began to feel them quite too hot for
comfort. So at last she resolved, on the first occasion when she saw
him alone, to ask his pardon very humbly for all her misdoings and
misthinkings. Now, if she did, what do you think the man would say?
Flint had set down his tea untasted, and sat staring steadily into
the fire, yet no detail of Winifred's dress or attitude escaped him. He
noted the glint of the firelight playing on the buckle of her little
slipper; he watched it climb over the sheen of the gray-silk dress,
higher, higher, till it reached the bare throat, and flushed the
already flushed cheek to a deeper carnation. He felt the appeal in the
girl's attitude as she leaned ever so little towards him. He caught the
tremulous note in her voice. His own was less steady than its wont as
How do you know that the girl was not right in her first estimate?
For my part, I think a man who presumed to show the disapproval you
speak of, and to say disagreeable things on slight acquaintance, fully
justified her opinion of him; and if he seemed to change later, I
should think it probable that something in her had shamed him out of
his coldness and his selfishness. As for the superciliousness, I should
be inclined to set down the appearance of that to the charge of an
unconquerable shyness masquerading in the guise of self-assertion,I
have known men like that,but the other qualities I believe were
there. I suspect it was a reversal of the old story of Pygmalion and
Galatea, as if he were slowly turning from stone to flesh, yet still
held back by the old chill of stony habit,an imprisonment which could
only be broken by a word from her. Is there any chance that you will
ever speak itWinifred?
Oh, nono! the girl answered brokenly. Don't say anything more!
I love you, Flint continued, as if the statement were necessary to
Oh, but why do you tell me?
Because I choose to have you know,because I must tell it. I love
you. I love you. He repeated the words with a persistence not to be
put aside. Winifred was inwardly furious with herself for her own
stupidity in giving him such an opening; but then, as she told herself,
who could have foreseen it, with this man of all men! The shock of the
surprise took her breath away, and robbed her of her usual
self-command. She still strove to take the situation lightly, to treat
it picturesquely, like a love-scene on a Watteau fan.
Here is another proof of your generosity, she said, with a half
tremulous, wholly adorable little smile. I asked for pardon and you
Flint would not be put off so. Ah, but I ask for so much more than
I offer, he said.
Andif I cannot give it?
Why, then, he answered steadily, I shall still carry with me
through life something you cannot take away if you would,the ideal
which these weeks have held up before me. If it is not for your best
happiness to marry me, loving you as I do, I would not have you do it.
The matter is in your handsa simple 'Yes' or 'No' is all I ask.
But life is too complicated to be settled by a word like that. It
could not be 'Yes'but what if it is 'No'?
She paused a moment, and then, hurried on by a tidal wave of
feeling, she burst out: Oh, I don't suppose you can understand it; but
much as I like you,and I do like you now,I feel as though if I
promised to marry you, I might absolutely hate you.
Oh, yes, Flint answered quietly, I can quite understand it; I
think I should feel in the same way if I were not perfectly sure I
loved a person.
Winifred felt herself touched by his quick response and perfect
comprehension of her state of mind; but her feeling was too intense,
too direct and too importunate, to be stayed in its utterance.
I cannot marry you. I never could promise. I am sure of it. Forgive
Flint rose and stood by the mantel, toying absently with a bronze
model of the Praxiteles Faun which rested on its shelf.
It is all right, he said, and I shall always thank you for it
all, and say God bless you, whatever happens; only for a while I must
go away and make my life over a bit in the light of all this.
Why must you go away?
Because Here Flint paused, and began to walk the floor
impatiently. Oh, if you can ask that, I could not make you understand.
It is useless to go on talking.
No, said Winifred, now with fuller command of herself, it is not
useless; it is necessary. We must make each other understand. If we
cannot do it now, how much less afterward! It always seems to me as if
it were selfish folly in men and women to act as if their love were the
only reality in the world, so that they forget everything that they owe
to other people. Yes, she added, gathering strength as she went on, I
think it would be selfish in you to consider only yourself, or even
yourself and me, in this matter, and I think it would be foolish ifif
you really care for me, as you say you do, to throw away all my
interest and regard and sympathy just because I do not consent to marry
you. If you would only put that idea out of your head, I think I could
be of some service to you. I know you could be of great service to me.
As Winifred uttered these words she sat looking up at him with
wide-open, childlike eyes, a hint of pathetic appeal in her voice.
Flint paused a moment, as one who counted the cost of his words.
Then he said slowly: It shall be as you wish; but on your own head lie
the risks. When a man has once said, 'I love you,' the woman to whom he
says it sees it in his eyes and hears it in his voice forever after. I
tell you, he went on, setting down the faun hard on the mantel, love
is like the spirit which the Arabian fisherman let out of the shell. It
can never be shut up againnevernevernever!
Winifred stirred a little, but did not lift her eyes.
You shall try this precious scheme of friendship, Flint continued
hotly. It is not a new experiment. It is well worn, and so far in the
world's history it has not proved a great success; but try it if you
will, only you shall make me one return. I shall never ask you again
for your love. It is not a plaything to be teased for in such childish
fashion. You tell me you will not give it to me. Well and good. But if
ever here he paused and shut his eyes for an instant, as if upon
some inward vision,if ever you should come to feel differently, I
demand it as my right that you shall tell me so honestly. You know me
too well to think I could ever change.
I accept the risk, Winifred answered steadily. You shall never
regret this concession, and by-and-by, when we both grow old, you will
look back and see that such a friendship is the best thing that could
befall you and me.
The girl spoke with quick decision of manner. It was characteristic
of her not to question for a moment the wisdom of her decision, the
infallibility of her own judgment, or her power to regulate the life
and destiny of those around her.
Flint smiled, as one smiles at the eager illusions of a child. He
was going to speak further; but the ringing of the door-bell warned him
that the interview was at an end.
So be it! he said, coming over to the side of the fireplace where
Winifred stood,for she too had risen. Since it is not to be
good-bye, then, I will bid you good-night.
He took the hand which she extended, and raised its slender
finger-tips to his lips. That is for friendship, he murmured; then
turning it, he laid a swift kiss upon the delicate pink palm,and
that is for love, he whispered, and was gone.
On his way out he passed Miss Standish, who had just come in from a
concert. She gave a little nod of scant civility, suggestive of
disapproval, and instead of turning in at the parlor door, made her way
directly to her room.
As the hall door closed after Flint, Winifred Anstice felt as if
some door had closed also in her life. She sat for some time in her low
chair, leaning forward, with her hands clasped about her knees, and her
pretty brows knit, gazing into the embers. At length, with a little
vexed shake of the head, she rose, and paced the long room; but the
whirl and rush of thought were too importunate for her present mood,
and she paused in her walk at last, and betook herself to the table,
with its litter of new books and magazines. She picked up the
Fortnightly Review, and opened mechanically where a silver book-mark
pointed to an article on Balzac and his Followers marked with
emphatic notes of assent or protest. It was another reminder. She
impatiently shut the covers sharply together and returned to her vigils
before the fire.
There is no woman living who is not somewhat shaken by a proposal of
marriage. It is a peremptory challenge, which forces her, for the
moment at least, to consider a certain man not as one of a class,as a
member of the conventional, calling, smiling, chaffing circle,but as
an individual, passing suddenly from all this surface trifling to a
life and death realitysaying as Jonathan Flint had said this night:
Give me all or nothing. I will have no half loaves. Let us have an end
of pretences and evasions. For once at least you shall listen, and be
told the truth flowing at lava heat out of a man's heart. It was by no
means a new experience to Winifred Anstice. As a younger girl, although
no coquette, she had found a certain charm of romance in finding
herself the heroine of a love-affair in real life; but as she grew
older she felt more and more shrinking from such sentimental crises,
and a more and more genuine regret as she saw the candid comradeship of
one friendship after another sacrificed to the absorbing egotism of
One by one she had let these lovers slip out of her life, and
acknowledged to herself that it was better so; but when it came to
Jonathan Flint, she had found herself impelled to the impetuous protest
for which she already half blamed herself in her heart. But in
self-exculpation she argued with the embers, which seemed to wink at
her from the hearth, that there were more considerations than one in
the matter; that as she had told Mr. Flint, modern life was too complex
to be compressed into a Yes or No.
As she was pondering, her eyes fell upon the portrait,Ruth's
portrait, hanging there over the mantel.
I wish you were here, Grandmamma, Winifred exclaimed, looking up
at it, to help me clear up the muddle in my mind! I have a kind of
feeling that you would understand.
The girl's sentimental musings were rudely interrupted by a race
between Jimmy and Paddy, who came rushing through the room, regardless
of tea-tables or rugs.
Jump for it, Paddy! cried Jim, snatching a piece of cake from the
tray, and holding it high in air.
Don't, Jimmy! You will upset the table.
Come on then, Paddy, we'll jump in the hall, where there is no girl
to be nervousI hate nervous people.
Whose cane is that, McGregor? he asked, as he saw an unfamiliar
walking-stick on the hall table.
It belongs to Mr. Flinthe must have forgot it, the butler
I say, Fred, has Mr. Flint been here? Jimmy called out from the
baluster, over which he was leaning at imminent risk to life and limb.
He has, Winifred answered repressively.
Did he say anything about seats for the football game on
He did not.
Then I think I'd better sit right down and write to him, for he
told me not to let him forget about it, and all the best seats will be
taken if he does not attend to it soon.
Papa, appealed Winifred to her father, who had come in and was
taking off his coat in the hall, you won't let Jimmy write to Mr.
Flint, will you?
I will write, said the voice from the stairs, and I'll
tell him how cross you are. I did once, and he only laughed.
Yes, I did. It was that day when you would not let me go fishing
with him. I told him you were quite nice sometimes, but you could be
horrid to people when they did things that didn't suit you, and he said
that was just the way you struck him.
Papa! cried Winifred, now thoroughly out of temper, will you
forbid Jimmy to talk me over with strangers? It is really too much, the
way that boy's tongue runs on.
You understand him, don't you? the Professor asked mildly, looking
over his gold-bowed spectacles.
Yes, but other people don't.
Are they so much less clear-sighted than you? With this gentle
sarcasm her father slowly mounted the stairs, leaving Jimmy making
faces of triumph through the open door.
It is often a curious experience in the contrasts of life for a girl
to see herself from the family point of view, after catching the
rose-colored reflections which the admiration of an outsider throws
upon her character.
CHAPTER XVII. A LITTLE DINNER
Wreathe the bowl with flowers of soul.
The suppressed excitement of the afternoon lent an added flush and
sparkle to Winifred's face as she entered the study where her father
and Miss Standish were playing chess together after the family dinner.
Self-absorbed as she was at the moment, she found leisure to be struck
with the picture of the two sitting there; her father's head, with its
austere profile outlined against the green curtain, which cast softened
reflections over his white hair, and Miss Standish, crisp and dainty as
a sprig of dried lavender, her gray curls quivering with the
excitement, and her white hands hovering anxiously over rooks and
Miss Standish looked up as Winifred came in, radiant in her new
evening gown, for she was to dine with the Hartington Grahams, who had
recently returned from England and opened their town house for the
I thought it was to be a little dinner, said Miss Standish,
looking with some disapproval at the bare shoulders rising above the
billowy ruffles of rose-colored chiffon.
It is'just a small affair,' Mrs. Graham wrote me. Besides, it is
too early in the season for anything formal. In fact, she would hardly
ask her most fashionable friends at this time of year. But she must get
round somehow, Winifred finished with a little laugh.
In Boston, said Miss Standish, you would be overdoing it to wear
that kind of a gown to such an affair, but here people seem to have no
sense of gradation. They take literally Longfellow's advice to the
young poet seeking success: 'Do your best every time.'
I don't see, said Winifred, why the advice is not just as good
for dress as for poetry,except that gowns wear out and poems don't.
Is the carriage there, McGregor, and Maria ready? Well, good-night,
Papa; look out for your queen, and don't let Miss Standish checkmate
you with any of her Boston tricks!
I think, Jimmy called out after her from the corner of the big
sofa, where he lay curled up like a dormouse, if you would do your
best on my dress, instead of making me wear this old suit, it
would strike a better average in the family.
As McGregor closed the carriage door, Winifred was conscious of a
certain satisfaction that she was not to spend the evening at home with
the family. Her restlessness craved a vent, and she wanted to postpone
=all= opportunity for reflection.
There was something about the Grahams which always appealed to the
girl. Their environment suited her æsthetically. For themselves,why,
one could not have everythingand then they were never alone.
The carriage stopped before Mrs. Graham's house, and the door opened
almost before she had mounted the steps.
As she passed along the hall, a wave of fragrance from lavishly
disposed flowers floated out to her through the drawn portières, and
she caught a glimpse of the softened light of many lamps-shaded to the
eye but festive to the fancy. Decidedly, thought Winifred, it is
agreeable to be rich, and next to being rich one's self, the best thing
is to associate with rich people. Money is such a smoother of rough
ways! and then the vast opportunities of being nice to other people
that come of a purse at leisure from itself to soothe and sympathize.
She smiled to herself at her bold adaptation of the poet's sentiments,
and mounted the stairs with a quickened step, reflecting suddenly that
she had not marked the time accurately and might be late. Her glance in
at the door of the dressing-room reassured her. At least she was not
the last, for in front of the mirror stood a portly, bediamonded dame,
gazing intently into the glass and putting the last touches to her
toilet with stolid equanimity.
Want to come here? she asked, pausing in her elaboration of her
water-waves, and nodding affably to Winifred.
No, =I= thank you, Winifred answered, seating herself in the low
easy-chair, while the maid pulled off her velvet overshoes.
Chilly to-night, isn't it? the lady continued pleasantly, desirous
of putting the new-comer at her ease.
Winifred acquiesced in the views of the weather expressed, and a
hint of the chilliness seemed to have crept into the interior. Her
agreeable anticipations of the evening were vaguely dampened, and she
could not quite forgive the innocent cause. Why will women with red
necks wear light blue and diamonds! she wondered, and what can
reconcile her to looking in the glass?
With a little shake of the head to make sure that her hairpins were
firmly anchored, and a futile effort to smooth the rebellious curls at
her neck, Winifred glided past the lady in front of the mirror, who
seemed no nearer the completion of her toilet than when she had
entered. At the door of the rear room stood a short, bald-headed man
with a patient expression on his face, as of one who had spent a large
share of his life waiting for his wife. He glanced with some surprise
at the swift reappearance of the girl whom he had watched as she came
up the stairs so short a time before.
That girl beats the ticker, he said to himself as she passed him;
she'll make some man happy if she keeps it up.
The clock was striking eight as Winifred entered the drawing-room.
It is quite a feat to be on time in this city of long distances, said
How delightful to be appreciated! responded Winifred, with a
brilliant smile. I was just pluming myself on being so prompt, but I
see the others are still more so. Here she swept a rapid glance over a
seated group at the other end of the room.
I suppose it is hardly more prompt to be too early than too late,
so you are still entitled to the palm.
The voice which came from close beside her drew the blood to her
cheek; but as the words went on, her nervous tremor subdued itself, for
the tone said to her as clearly as words, Everything is to be ignored.
We are on the social stage, and must play our parts. You may trust me.
Winifred felt a wave of relief sweep over her. She thanked the
speaker with her eyes. To her hostess she said lightly, Mr. Flint is
as much of a purist as everno; don't leave us together. He and I have
been quarrelling over the tea-cups this afternoon. I will let you take
up the defence, while I go over to speak to your sister, Miss Wabash,
in the cornerand isn't that Captain Blathwayt with her?
Yes, he crossed with us on the 'Lucania'; remembered meeting you in
Cheyenne or some other outlandish Western townthinks you the most
charming American he ever met.
How clever of you! said Winifred over her shoulder, as she moved
away. Reflected flattery is the most alluring kind.
As Mrs. Graham turned to greet two newcomers, Flint was left alone,
with no hindrance to the occupation of watching Winifred Anstice. She
stood with her back toward him and her head slightly turned, so that
his eye took in the delicate line of cheek and chin, broken by the
shadows of a dimple, the curve of the neck, and the soft little curls
that nestled at the base of the hair. A woman is always much handsomer
or much plainer than usual in evening dress.
As Flint looked at Winifred, he felt an absurd jealousy of the
monocled Englishman who presumed to show his admiration so plainly. His
reflections were ended for the time being by the voice of his hostess
saying, Will you take my sister in to dinner? As he moved across the
room, Winifred and Captain Blathwayt passed out together, just ahead of
Miss Wabash and himself. He scarcely knew whether to feel regret or
relief to find that the width of the table was to be between him and
Winifred. It certainly had the advantage of shutting off all necessity
for the conversation farcie of the conventional dinner, which he
felt would be an impossibility between him and her to-night.
With Miss Wabash the vol-au-vent of talk seemed the most
natural thing; and Flint dashed at once into a jesting, somewhat daring
tone, which she took quite in good part, and when her attention was
claimed by the bald-headed broker on the other side, his neighbor on
the left, a double-chinned dowager, with a pearl necklace half hidden
in the creases of her neck and a diamond aigrette in her hair, proved
no less garrulous if somewhat less sprightly.
She had much to tell of the loss of her diamonds by a burglary last
week, and of their recovery through the agency of detectives whose
charges were exorbitant. She acquainted Flint with every detail of the
conduct of the family and the servants, the police and the detectives.
As she went on, people began to listen, and the talk around the table,
which had lagged a little, started up more briskly than before.
I have noticed, said Winifred to Captain Blathwayt, that there
are two subjects which will make even dull people lively,burglaries
Aw, I don't know much about burglaries,never had one in the
family; but I think a lot about mind-cure and all that sort of thing.
Confirmation of my theory! said Winifred, with an impertinence
which felt safe in banking on the lack of perception in the person
whose dignity was assailed.
Do you believe in the mind-cure? asked Miss Wabash, who had caught
the phrase across the table.
It depends on the mind, Flint answered.
Oh, no, it doesn't; not at all. That's the first principle of the
science. You only need to resign yourself and let the influence flow
Does it make any difference whose influence it is?
Oh, I suppose so. It must be trained influence, and it seems to
work better when it is paid for.
Most things do, observed Flint.
My cousin says
Flint never knew exactly what Miss Wabash's cousin did say, for at
that point in the conversation his attention was irresistibly attracted
by the talk of his opposite neighbors.
Now there's a lot in it, I'm sure, the man of the monocle was
saying, bending toward Winifred with what Flint considered
objectionable propinquity,telepathy, don't you know, andand all
that sort of thing. I had no idea I was to meet you to-night, but as I
was standing on the doorstep I remembered how you looked at that dinner
out in Cheyenne, and a remark you made to medo you recollect?
The dinner, perfectly; the remark, not at all.
Well, I sha'n't repeat it, for it was deucedly severe on the
English. Really, you know, we're not half bad; but you don't care for
your cousins over the water, I am afraid. Do you?
I think the cousins over the water are much like those on this
side,the relationship is simply an opportunity for intimate
acquaintance. Some Englishmen are the most charming of their sex;
others arewell, quite the reverse.
To which do I belong? asked the Captain, turning toward her
more openly and leaving his terrapin untasted, which meant much with
Can you doubt? Winifred responded with a radiant but wholly
non-committal smile. Self-possessed as she was outwardly, however, she
felt Flint's eyes upon her, and experienced a sense of annoyance at the
attitude of both men.
Her host on the other side came to her relief at the moment.
Blathwayt, he said, leaning over, you must try this wine. It is
some my wine-merchant in Paris sent over ten years ago,a special
vintage,and don't let the terrapin go by, for there's nothing else
worth while before the canvas-backs. I'll let you into the secret too,
Miss Anstice, he added with an expression closely approaching a wink.
Thanks, said Winifred, rather wearily, I am not an epicure.
Oh, but you can be trained to be! Graham answered encouragingly.
It is mainly a question of practice, though I must say that I was born
with the taste,inherited from my father, I believe; and I've heard
him tell how once when I was five years old I scolded the butler for
sending up the Burgundy iced.
How precocious! murmured Winifred.
Well, of course, that was unusual; but if children were taken young
and had half the attention paid to their palates that folks give to
their eyes and ears, with their fool drawing-teachers and music-masters
in the attempt to enable them to bore somebody with their twopenny
accomplishments, we should soon have a race of gourmets; and gourmets
make cooks. No chef can do his best without appreciation. For the
matter of that, a cook must be born,he must have the feeling for his
business. Now there was a fellow in EnglandMy dear, he called out to
his wife at the other end of the table, was it Windermere or Grassmere
where we had those excellent breaded trout?
I forget, Mrs. Graham answered; but I know it was the one where
Wordsworth lived. Which was that, Mr. Flint?
Now don't interrupt us, Miss Wabash said in her loud, unshaded
tones; Mr. Flint has just consented to let me tell his fortune by his
Flint looked rather foolish. He was in that awkward position where
it seemed equally fatuous to assent or decline; but deciding on the
former course, he held out his hand, saying, Spare my character as far
as you conscientiously can, Miss Wabash, and remember in extenuation of
my shortcomings that I did not have the advantage of being brought up
All tête-à-tête conversation now ceased, and the attention of the
company was riveted upon Flint and his neighbor. Winifred felt herself
growing intensely nervous. She had no fear of Miss Wabash's
extraordinary power of divination, but she had still less confidence in
the delicacy of her perceptions, and she dreaded some remark which
would embarrass her through Flint's embarrassment.
In her present high-strung condition, her apprehension made her a
little faint for a moment. The centrepiece of orchids and roses seemed
a vague mass of rather oppressive color and perfume. The women's faces
and necks looked like reddish blobs with flashes of light where the
jewels came. The broad white expanse of the men's shirt fronts alone
retained a certain steadiness. Hastily she grasped her glass of
champagne and drained it dry. It was the first wine she had tasted that
night, and it braced her nerves at once. Fortunately no one observed
her paleness, for everybody's attention was fixed upon Miss Wabash as
she bent over Flint's open palm.
A surprising hand! that young lady was saying; really in some
ways quite the most interesting I ever came across. I must report it to
Chiro. The fingers very pointedthat ought to indicate idealism, but
the knots on the joints imply practical critical sense. It looks as
though the mind were always grasping at some ideal and were held back
by the critical faculty.
Don't blink your points, Mamie! called out the host, facetiously.
At this allusion to sporting reminiscences, all the men laughed, but
the women rather resented the interruption, as a frivolous treatment of
a serious subject.
You have learned your profession thoroughly, said Flint, coloring
a little in spite of himself. I shall begin to be afraid of you in
earnest, if you are so discerning.
Oh, I have only begun! answered Miss Wabash, kindled by success to
greater vivacity. That thumb shows marked firmness (see, I can
scarcely bend it back at all); perhaps, if I knew you better, I should
Every one laughed.
The fingers, she went on, show more sensitiveness; and the
moundsoh, those mean a great deal! Mars is firm and prominentwhat
you undertake you will carry through, if it kills you and everybody
What a fellow to buy on margin! said the broker.
He doesn't seem to have succeeded in getting married for all his
perseverance, laughed Mr. Graham.
Winifred, in spite of her emotion, found time to reflect on the
vulgarity of the phrase, and shivered a little. Flint colored, though
he held his hand quite steady.
Perhaps he'll buy her sixty, chuckled the broker, pleased with his
He'd better hurry up, said Miss Wabash, for his life-line is
short. He's had experiences though. May I tell them, Mr. Flint?
I give you permission.
Well, then, you were in love once a long time ago, but there were
reasons why you couldn't marry, and so you gave up the affair and have
never really cared for any one since; but two or three women have been
desperately in love with you.
Mademoiselle, respect the seal of the confessional! said Flint,
smiling, but drawing away his hand with a quick instinctive motion
which did not escape Winifred.
Ho! ho! called out Graham, perhaps there is more in palmistry
than I thought. Go on, Mamie, and give us the history of the Salvation
Army episode and the Hallelujah lassie!
Flint cursed inwardly, cursed everything and almost everybody,
himself most of all. What was he here for? What if Graham was
the chief stockholder in the Trans-Continental, he was a
coarse-grained sensualist, with whom no gentleman should associate.
(This estimate by no means did Graham justice, but Flint was not in a
judicial mood.) Then this crack-brained girl with her foolish fake of a
theoryand he had been idiot enough to fall into this trap, and now
Winifred would think he had boasted of Nora Costello as a conquest,
perhaps bragged about saving her life. Oh, the whole thing was past
endurance! Meanwhile everything around moved on mechanically. He heard
his host say impatiently, My dear, if you keep that épigramme of lamb
waiting much longer, we'd better give up dining and take to holding
hands all round.
At this there was a general taking up of forks and a subdued buzz of
conversation. It was rather a relief when the candle-shade took fire
and Flint had an excuse for rising to seize it before the butler could
The dinner ended at last, though it seemed as if it never would. As
he held aside the velvet curtains for the ladies to pass, Flint strove
to catch Winifred's eyes, to judge, if he might, what impression
Graham's remark had made; but Blathwayt held her in talk till the
threshold was reached, and the curtain dropped behind her without a
glance in Flint's direction.
She held her head a little higher than usual as she moved beside
Mrs. Graham into the music-room. A wave of contempt was sweeping over
her, as she reviewed the dinner, its gilding, its gluttony, and its
unspeakable dulness, and she felt that she had sold her birthright of
self-respect for a mess of pottage.
Miss Wabash sat down at the piano and sang Oh, Promise Me, and one
or two other gems from DeKoven's latest opera, and then the ladies
adjourned once more to the library.
The Grahams' library was a large square room, diversified by two
shallow bay-windows such as only a corner house permits. It was ceiled
and finished in heavy Flemish oak, and the walls above the low
bookcases were hung with tapestry. Easy-chairs and softly upholstered
divans filled every nook and corner. It was really, Winifred decided,
an ideal library,or would have been if there had been any books
behind the silk curtains hung over the shelves.
As they entered the room Miss Wabash drew Winifred to a seat near
herself on the sofa.
Green mint or Chartreuse? the hostess asked, as the little
ice-filled glasses were set on the low table by her side.
Winifred declined the cordials, but sat sipping the coffee out of
the tiny Dresden cup, while she listened to the wearisome platitudes of
Mrs. Graham and her guests. From time to time her eye was caught by the
flashing of the jewelled pendulum of the clock on the mantel, in the
drawing-room across the hall, and her mind dwelt ironically on some
lines she had read somewhere:
Ah! who with clear account remarks
The ebbing of Time's glass,
When all his sands are diamond sparks
That dazzle as they pass!
She smiled a derisive little smile, all to herself, as she thought
how small a power lay in jewelled pendulums to make a brilliant
evening, and she felt a certain thrill of pride at the thought that her
associations lay in a world removed from all this smothering
materialism. The lavish sumptuousness which till now had appealed to
her rather strongly, seemed suddenly tainted with vulgarity, and her
thoughts wandered half unconsciously to the bare little room where she
had gone to see Nora Costello. The name brought a slight quickening of
her pulses, and she wanted time to think over things alone.
As the men came in from the dining-room Miss Anstice's carriage was
announced, and she rose to bid her hostess good-night.
Must you run away so early, my dear?
Thank you, yes; I promised Papa to come home early. He likes to see
me before he goes to bed, and to hear an account of my evening.
You will be at home at five to-morrow, and I may bring Captain
Any friend of yours, of course, murmured Winifred, in a tone which
could hardly have proved encouraging to the vanity or incipient
sentiment of the guardsman.
If you will permit me, said Flint to Graham as Winifred came down
the stairs, I will put Miss Anstice into her carriage, and then come
back for that last cigar.
Never in his life had Flint so raved against his own lack of
readiness as now, when he felt the passing moments slipping by, and
could find no words to set himself right in the eyes of the woman he
loved,the woman whose little gloved hand rested on his arm. Judge
then of his feeling when, smiling up into his eyes with perfect
friendliness, Winifred said under her breath, Why do we go thereyou
and I? They really aren't our kind at all.
The remark carried with it full assurance that no words uttered by
Hartington Graham had power to shake for an instant her faith in the
man whom she had called her friend; but beyond that her confident use
of the word our, as if their interests and associations were the
same, thrilled him with a sort of intoxication.
Oh, thank you! was all that he could find to say to express his
complicated state of mind.
I do not deserve any thanks at all, Winifred answered. I ought to
be well scolded for speaking slightingly of people whom I have just
been visiting. I do not often do such ill-mannered things, and I should
not have said it to any one but you.
Again Flint thrilled at the unconscious flattery.
Will you come in to-morrow afternoon? she asked, as he shut the
To meet Captain Blathwayt? No, thank you.
The day after then.
So be ittill then, farewell!
Flint re-entered the house with his heart beating like a
CHAPTER XVIII. A MAIDEN'S VOW
A maiden's vow, old Calham spoke,
Is lightly made and lightly broke.
As the cab rattled down the avenue, Winifred sank back against the
cushions. She sat in the corner in a sort of daze, marking the glimmer
of the electric lights, which seemed so many milestones in her life, as
she passed them one after another. After all, it is experience which
marks time, and in this day Winifred Anstice had tasted more of life
than in many a year before. Crashing into her world of calm commonplace
had fallen the dynamite bomb of an overwhelming emotion. Her present,
with all its preoccupying trifles, lay in wrecks about her. For the
futureit was too tumultuous to be faced.
She was like a person who has been walking in the darkness along a
familiar road, and suddenly feels himself plunging over an unsuspected
precipice. She was conscious of nothing but a gasping sense of
dizzinessall control of herself and her life seemed passing out of
her hands into those of another, and she scarcely knew whether to be
glad or sorry. Was it only this afternoon that she had looked upon a
marriage with Jonathan Flint as impossible? If she had thought so a few
hours ago, why not now? Nothing had occurred since. No transcendent
change had come over him or herwhy should it all look so different to
her now? Perhaps, she told herself, this mood too would pass like its
precursor. She dared not feel sure of anythingshe who had swung round
the whole compass of feeling like a weather-vane before a
These introspective reflections brought back irresistibly the
feelings with which she had read Flint's letter, little dreaming that
it was his,the letter so full of wise and friendly counsel. She
remembered how, as she read, she had been filled with a yearning desire
to rise to the ideal her unknown counsellor had set before her, and
filled too with a longing that Fate might send it in her way, to be
something to him, to return in some measure the spiritual aid and
comfort which she had received at his hands.
Well, she told herself gloomily, the opportunity had come, and
this was how she had used itnot only by denying his petition,that,
of course, was inevitable, feeling as she did,but by accusing him of
selfishness, by insisting that he should accept her terms of
friendship. Friendship, bah!how stale and flat it sounded!
Could she not have devised some newer way of wounding an honorable man
who had offered her his heart?
It seemed to her excited consciousness that she must appear to him a
vain and empty coquette, eager to retain a homage for which she
intended no return. When once he awoke to that view, his love would die
out, for he was not a man to continue devotion where he had lost
respect; and so it was all over, or as good as over, between her and
The cab lurched sharply across the tracks at Twenty-Third Street,
jostling Winifred's flowers and fan out of her lap. The maid stooped to
pick them up. As she returned them she caught a glimpse of the set look
in the face of her mistress.
Are you feelin' bad? she asked.
No, no, I am quite well, Maria, only a little tiredare we near
Yes'm, we've passed Gramercy Park, and there's the steeples of St.
George's that you see from your windows.
Yes, yes, I see. Here we are close at home. You may go to bed,
Maria, after you have lighted the lamp in my room. I shall not need you
Well, well, thought the maid, something's the matter sure. I
never knew no one more fussy about the unhooking of her gown. She can't
do much herself, but she does know how things ought to be done, and
that's what I calls a real lady.
Winifred, my dear, is that you? Professor Anstice called, as the
rustle of his daughter's dress caught his ear on the stair.
Oh, Papa, are you awake still?
Still! Why it is not so very late! said her father, as
Winifred entered the study and threw herself into the deep upholstered
chair beside the fire, which was just graying into ashes in the grate.
Her father was sitting in his cane-seated study-chair with a
conglomeration of volumes piled about the table. His face, perhaps from
the reflection of the green-shaded student-lamp, looked pale and worn.
His shoulders, too, seemed to Winifred's abnormally quickened
perception to have caught a new stoop. The fact forced itself upon her
consciousness with a sudden, swift pang, that her father was growing
old. She had never thought of age in connection with him before. To her
he had been simply and sufficiently my father, without thought of
other relations or conditions; but now it rushed upon her with a wave
of insistent remorse, that his life was slipping by, while she was
doing so little for his happiness. A rather bare and dreary life it
seemed to her now, as she contemplated its monotony; for Winifred had
no appreciation of the still air of delightful studies. Her world was
peopled with live, active figures, always pushing forward, seeking,
striving, loving. And her father had loved once. Yes, that too struck
her now, almost with a shock of surprise. He, too, had asked for some
one's love as ardently, perhaps, as Jonathan Flint for hers. More than
that, he had won the love he sought. Won it and lost it again. Could it
ever come to that for her? The thought smote her with an intolerable
Mr. Anstice was a strange man to be the parent and guardian of such
a girl as Winifred. The world for him was bounded by the walls of his
study. Even his teaching seemed an interruption to the real business of
his life, and he turned his back upon his class-room with a sensation
He was not a popular professor among the body of the students; but
the unfailing courtesy of his manner, and the solidity of his
scholarship, won the respect of the many, and the esteem and warm
admiration of the few.
His bearing, in spite of the scholar's stoop, was marked by a
certain distinction, and the lines of his worn face curiously suggested
the fresh curves which marked his daughter's brow and cheek. The beauty
of youth is an ivorytype; the beauty of age is an etching, bitten out
by the burin and acid of thought, experience, and sorrow.
The prevailing mood with James Anstice was one of gentle weariness.
He felt that his life was ended, and that the years were going on in a
sort of monotonous anti-climax. Yet, in spite of this undertone of
depression, his manner was responsive, genial, even gay at times, and
he lived much in the reflected light of Winifred's youth and energy.
If it caused him some surprise that any one should want anything as
much as Winifred wanted everything for which she cared at all, he
treated her enthusiasms with amused toleration, and made as much effort
to secure for her the successive desires of her heart as though they
had assumed the same importance in his own mind as in hers.
To-night he forced himself away from his own train of thought with
an effort, to throw himself into Winifred's evening experiences. He
watched her for some time as she sat in silence, with head bent forward
and gloved hands clasped about her knee.
Well, little girl, he said at last, you seem to have fallen into
a brown study. Was the dinner so dull?
No, Papa, not dull exactly; rather brilliant in some ways.
I understandbrilliant materially, dull spiritually, like the
mantles those fellows wore in the Infernogilt on the outside, and
lead within. 'Oh, everlastingly fatiguing mantle!' I am gladder than
ever that I stayed at home.
I am glad too, for I think you would have been bored, and when you
are bored you make no concealment of the fact.
Of course not,why should I? If I seemed to be having a good time,
I should be compelled to go through it again. No, society is organized
for people under twenty-five. They really enjoy it. For the rest of the
world it is a sham.
Winifred smiled absently.
Who was there? Professor Anstice asked at length, pushing away his
books as if bidding them a reluctant good-night.
Oh, no one whom you know, I think, except Mr. Flint.
Flint? Does he go to such things?
Yes, and appears to find them sufficiently entertaining, though I
fancy he must be decidedly over twenty-five. By the way, she added,
with an elaborately careless aside, what do you think of Mr. Flint, on
I think, for a clever man, he plays the worst game of whist I ever
Yes, yes, admitted Winifred, with light mockery in her tone; but
what do you think of him in lesser matters,general character, for
The Professor looked at his daughter with a little quizzical sadness
in his faded gray eyes. He began to perceive the drift of her banter.
It would be difficult to state exactly what I think of him when you
put it so broadly as that, he answered. Flint's character is complex.
He has in him the making of a fine man; but the question is, will it
ever be made? He seems to me abnormally lacking in personal
ambition,does not seem to care whether he is heard of or not,has a
sort of contempt for the little neighborhood notorieties which give
most men pleasure. It is as if he were taking a bird's-eye view of
himself, and every one else, and they all looked so small that the
trifling variations in prominence did not matter.
Winifred looked at her father in silent surprise. She had no idea
that he had made such a study of the younger man. He paused for a
moment; but meeting his daughter's absorbed gaze, he continued: The
thing which gives me most hope of Flint is his genuine devotion to
truth. Positive or negative truthit is all the same to him. Now, many
a man is loyal to his convictions; but very few are loyal to their
doubts. He will 'come into port greatly or sail with God the seas.'
Fine line that, isn't it? The sound is quite majestic if you say it
over aloud'Come into port'
But, Papa, interrupted Winifred a little impatiently, you were
talking of Mr. Flint.
To be sure, so we were,at least I was; but I should like to hear
a little of your opinion of him. A woman's estimate of a man is always
worth having, though not always worth heeding. You see too much in high
lights and deep shadows, not enough by clear daylight; still, I should
like to know how Flint strikes you. I remember at first you found him
But of late you have seemed to change your mind, or at least to
feel less prejudice against him.
A silence fell between them after this. At length Winifred rose and
turned down the lights. Then she drew a low stool to the side of her
father's chair, and sitting down by his knee began to rub her hand
gently up and down over the broadcloth.
Papa, she said after a while, I haven't been very nice to you;
Nonsense, child,what put such an idea into your head? As if I had
had any happiness in all these years sincesince your mother
diedexcept through my children!
Oh, yes, I know you have found your happiness in taking care of us,
but I have found my happiness in being taken care of; and I have
enjoyed having my own way and doing the things I liked, and now I would
giveoh, so much!if I had been different.
What does this mean? exclaimed Professor Anstice, anxiously
fumbling about Winifred's wrist in the vain effort to find her pulse.
Are you ill? You have not had a hemorrhage or anything, have you?
Don't worry about me, dear! I shall live to plague you for many a
year yet. I'm as well as can be, except for the mind ache. Here she
gave a nervous little laugh. The Professor looked down at her, sitting
there on the stool, her head drooping to the side as he remembered to
have seen it years ago when she was a little chidden child. The waving
hair hid her face from his sight,all but the delicate oval of the
cheek and the curve of the full, rounded chin.
Winifred, he said gently, I think you have something to tell me.
Yes, I have, only I don't know how to begin.
Is it, perhaps, about Mr. Flint?
Yes, about Mr. Flint, Winifred admitted.
He has been asking you to marry him?
Yes, asking me to marry him, Winifred repeated, still like a child
reciting her catechism.
And you promised.
No, I did not, Winifred answered with sudden energy; I told him I
never could, would, or should marry him,that I would go on being
friends with him as long as he liked, but on condition that he gave up
the other idea entirely.
Professor Anstice reached out his thin white scholarly fingers and
stroked the rebellious waves of his daughter's hair.
Winifred, he said, you are always acting on impulse. You never
take time to consider anything, but jump and plunge like a broncho. Now
let us talk this matter over calmly: I am afraid you have made a
mistakea serious mistake, my dear, though it may not be too late to
There is nothing to remedy, said Winifred, with a tremulous
attempt at cheerfulness; he asked me and I said 'No,' and he said he
should never ask me again, and I said I hoped he wouldn't, or something
like that, and so the matter ended; and I am always going to live with
you and be good to you,and you won't be sorry for that, will you?
I should be very sorry if it came about so. Listen, Winifred.
Because you see me a delver in dusty old books, you think perhaps that
I don't know what love is; but I tell you as I grow older it comes to
fill a larger and larger part of the horizon, to seem perhaps the only
reality. I don't mean just the love of a man for a woman, but the great
throbbing bond of human affection and sympathy; and of all the kinds of
affection, there is none that has the strength and toughness that
belong to the love of husband and wife. I wish you to marry,
Winifred,I have always wished it,only let it be to a true man, my
dear,let it be to a true man!
Father, he is a true man, said Winifred, speaking low and
with a timidity wholly new to her.
I think so,I earnestly believe it. He seems to me to have more
ability, more strength, and more tenderness than he has shown yet. Some
wrong ideas have twisted themselves persistently among the very fibres
of his life and warped it; but it is not yet too late to tear them
Some one else may do it, said Winifred, in exaggerated
discouragement, I let the opportunity slip by. He will never ask me
again, and as for medo you think I will ever go to any man with the
offer of my love? Not if my heart broke for him!
He said he would never ask you again?
Yes, Papa; he said it twice.
Well, if he said it twice fifty times, it was a lie, or would have
been if he had not believed it himself at the time. Never fear but you
will have a chance to tell him that you have changed your mind, and
without any wound to your pride either.
Oh, Papa! cried Winifred, rising and throwing her arms about his
neck, you are such a comfort!
The old clock on the landing of the stairway struck one.
There, it is morning already, said her father. Off to bed with
you, else I shall have no one to pour out my cup of coffee to-morrow.
As he spoke, he gently unclasped her arms from about his neck, but she
would not go quite yet.
Ififall this should ever come about, are you quite sure you
would be willing to have me leave you?
Quite sure, my dear. It is the natural thing, and what is natural
must be right. Now, good-night.
Winifred wiped away the tears which had been hanging on the fringe
of her eyelashes, and after a parting hug gathered up her wraps and
swept away to her room. Her father watched her tenderly till the last
trace of her gown had vanished up the stairs; then he closed the door
softly, took a miniature from its case in the drawer, laid it on the
table, and bowed his head on both arms above it.
'Father and Mother both.' Yes, that was what I promised, and that
is what I must be so far as I can, and may God help me! he murmured.
CHAPTER XIX. A SLUM POST
Sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.
Despair fells; suspense tortures. The forty odd hours which lay
between the ending of the Grahams' dinner and the promised interview
with Winifred Anstice stretched out into an eternity to the impatience
of Flint. By turns he tried occupation and diversion; yet his ear
caught every tick of the clock, which seemed to his exaggerated fancy
to have retarded its movement. He found it so impossible to work at his
office that he packed up his papers and started for home.
What! going so early? called Brooke from his desk.
Yes, a man cannot do any work here with this everlasting
You are growing too sensitive for this world, Flint. We shall have
to build you a padded room, like Carlyle's, on top of the building.
Flint vouchsafed no answer. He posted out and up Broadway as if he
were in mad haste. Then suddenly recollecting that his chief purpose
was to kill time, he moderated his stramming gait to a stroll. At a
jeweller's on Union Square he paused, and turned in, ostensibly to
order some cards; but passing out he stopped surreptitiously before the
case of jewels. The rubies interested him most. How well they would
look against a certain gray-silk gown! Should he ever dareHe caught a
meaning smile on the face of the clerk, and bolted out of the door.
He paused again at a fashionable florist's shop tucked deftly in
among the theatres of central Broadway. The men at the counter were
busily engaged over curiously incongruous tasks,one binding up a
cross of lilies, another a wreath for a baby's coffin, and a third
preparing a beribboned basket, gay with chrysanthemums, for a
dinner-table. Heedless, like us all, of every one's experiences but his
own, Flint stood by, waiting impatiently for the clerk who was putting
the last lily in the cross. From the great heaps of roses which stood
about he selected an overflowing boxful of the longest-stemmed and most
fragrant. The clerk smiled as he watched his recklessness. I've seen
'em like that, he said to himself, and two or three years after
they'll come in and ask for carnations, and say it doesn't matter if
they were brought in yesterday.
Unconscious of the florist's cynical reflections, Flint tossed him
his card, and emerged once more to add one to the moving mass of
humanity on the street. At Madison Square he dropped in at the club and
looked over the latest numbers of Life and Punch.
Still time hung heavy on his hands. He looked at his watch; it was
just five o'clock,exactly the time when that objectionable Blathwayt
was to call in Stuyvesant Square. Still two hours before dinner.
He left the club, crossed over to Broadway, and jumped onto the
platform of the moving cable-car at imminent peril to life and limb. He
rode on in a sort of daze, till he was roused by a sudden jerk and the
conductor's call of: Central Parkall out here! Moving with the
moving stream of passengers, he stepped out of the car, and refusing a
green transfer ticket he crossed the street and entered the park at the
Seventh Avenue gate, where the path makes a sudden dip from the level
of the street. The sun was near its setting, and the chilly wind had
swept the walks clear of tricycles and baby carriages. The gray-coated
guardian of the peace blinked at him from his sentry box. Otherwise he
had the park to himself, and found an intense pleasure in the solitude,
the keen air, and the sharp outlines of the dreary autumn branches
against the gorgeous sky.
The west had that peculiar brilliancy which the dwellers on
Manhattan would recognize as characteristic of their island in
November, if there were not so few who ever get a peep at the sky
except perpendicularly at noonday, as they emerge from rows of
brownstone houses or overshadowing buildings of fabulous height. Flint
was in no mood to sentimentalize over sunsets. The intensely human
interests before him drove Nature far away, as a cold abstraction akin
to death; yet half unconsciously the scene imprinted itself upon his
senses, and long afterward he recalled distinctly the pale grayish-blue
of the zenith shading into the rare, cold tint of green, and that again
barred over with light gossamer clouds, beneath which lay the glowing
bands of orange, red, and violet.
As the sun dropped, the temperature followed it. The wind whistled
more keenly through the bare branches. Flint turned up the collar of
his overcoat, thrust his hands into his pockets, and quickened his
The relief of rapid motion told upon his overstrained condition. By
the time he had rounded the lakes he was calmer. The ascent of the
steep, rock-hewn steps of the ramble rested his nerves as much as it
taxed his wind, and as he came stramming down the mall, his mind was
sufficiently detached from its own hopes and fears to be able to
realize that the overhanging elms recalled agreeably the long walk at
Oxford, and that the Cathedral spires were fine in the gathering dusk,
as one emerged from the Fifth Avenue entrance. The return to the world
of men stimulated him, and the long undulating waves of electric lights
seemed to beckon to him hopefully as he went on.
The afternoon was gone. That was one comfort, he said, as he reached
his own room. It would take half-an-hour to dress for dinner, and that
meal might be prolonged to cover another hour; but the evening still
stretched onward, seeming interminable to his restless fancy. It was a
relief when Brady came in and suggested that they drop in at a meeting
of the Salvation Army to be held at a slum post in a region of the city
known as Berry Hill.
Will I go? he said, echoing the question of his friend, who stood
looking out of the window with an appearance of indifference, which
deceived no one. Yes, I will; but I want you to understand that I
don't go as you do, out of pure emotional piety, but only to see and
hear Nora Costello.
Well, she is worth it, isn't she? Brady responded.
Worth a trip down-town? Without doubt; but that is not the question
that is lying down in the depths of the locality you are pleased to
call your heart. Come, now, he added, walking across to the window and
throwing his arm over Brady's shoulder with one of his rare exhibitions
of affection,come; make a clean breast of it, and let us talk the
thing out from A to Z. Imprimis, you are in love with Nora
Brady started and moved away a trifle, but made no effort at denial
till after a minute, when he said rather weakly, What makes you think
Think so! Why, man, I must be deaf, dumb, and blind not to
know it. Do you suppose I believed that a man at your time of life,
brought up as you have been, had suddenly gone daft on this Salvation
It's a 'business', as you call it, that does more good than all the
churches put together, answered Brady, hotly.
Hear him! echoed Flint, mockingly.
Hear this son of New England actually declaring that there may be a
way to heaven which does not lie between church-pews or start from a
Flint, you are a scoffer.
What do I scoff at?
Pardon me, but I do not.
Well, theology, anyway.
Ah, that is a different matter.
You call yourself an agnostic.
No, I don't. 'Agnostic' is too long and too pretentious a word. I
prefer to translate it and call myself a know-nothing.
Don't you believe in God and a future lifeandand all that sort
of thing? Brady ended rather disjointedly.
Don't you believe Mars is inhabited? and that the lines on its
surface are canals for irrigation?
I don't know, answered Brady, whose mental processes were simple.
Neither do I, said Flint; and what is more, neither does any man,
any more than he knows about God and a future life; and so why should
we go to making up creeds and breaking the heads of people who don't
agree with us when we are all just guessers, and probably all of us
Then you would take away faith out of the world?
Not I,at least not unless I could see something to take its
place, which at present I don't; and as for these poor devils who are
consoling themselves for their hard lot in this world by the
expectation of a soft thing in the next, I would not be such a brute as
to shake their confidence if I could, and I don't blame them much if in
addition to their heaven they set up a hell where, in imagination at
least, they can put the folks who have been having a too good time here
while they were grunting and sweating under their weary load.
Then I wonder you have not more sympathy with an organization like
the Salvation Army, which is doing its best to lighten the burden of
the grunters and sweaters.
Ah, answered Flint, I had forgotten the Salvation Army,it seems
so small a branch of a big subject. I am glad you brought me back. But
let us go a little further back still, for you know it was not the Army
at all that we started to discuss, but only one of its officers, with a
slender little figure and a pale face and a big pair of rather mournful
Oh! said Brady, taken somewhat off his guard, but you should see
her when she is pleased! They light up just as if a torch had been
kindled in them.
Oh, they do, do they? said Flint, with genial raillery; well, you
see I never saw her so pleased as that.
Why, don't you remember on her birthday, when I gave her back the
I remember the occasion; but I had precious little chance to see
how her eyes looked, for you stood so close to her that nobody else
could catch a glimpse. I did see something, though.
I saw you, and any one more palpably sentimental I never did
Well, what of it? It isn't a crime, I suppose
That depends, Flint answered dryly.
Brady shook off his hand. What do you mean by that? he asked
I mean, said Flint, folding his arms and looking at his friend
steadily, that you have come to the cross-roads. You cannot go on as
you are. You must either give up hanging about Nora Costello, or you
must make up your mind to marry her.
And why not, pray, if I could induce her to accept me?
Great Heavens! cried Flint; has it gone so far as that?
Yes, it has, answered Brady, as defiantly as though Flint had
represented his whole family circle; and if she will marry me I shall
be a proud and happy man.
And your relatives,the Bradfords and Standishes and all?
Plymouth Rock may fall on them for all I care, exclaimed Brady.
And how about the tambourines and torches?
Brady colored a little, but he stood his ground manfully.
I shall never presume to dictate, he answered. I will go my way
and she shall go hers; and if I can lend a helping hand to any of the
poor wretches she is trying to save, I shall do it, if I have to take
off my kid gloves and get down into the gutter, as many a better man
has done before me.
Well, answered Flint, if that is the way you take it I have
nothing more to say. But if you don't object I would like to be present
when you announce the engagement to Miss Standish.
Miss Standish be hanged! cried Brady. It is a question of Miss
Costello, I tell you. My only anxiety lies right there. If you had ever
been in love you would know how it feels.
I can imagine, Flint answered, taking up his pipe and looking
scrutinizingly into the bowl; I have read about it in books. But come!
if we are going to the rally we must be about it. It is nearly eight by
my watch. How long is the confounded thingexcuse meI mean the
If you are going to make fun of it, Flint, you would better stay at
home, said Brady, stiffly.
No, no, forgive me, Brady! I meant nothing of the kind; it is my
accursed habit of joking when I am in earnest, and being so solemn when
I try to be funny that I am never in harmony with the occasion. Go on;
I will close the door. I ought not to go, for I half expect Brooke of
the Magazine. No matter; I will leave word for him.
As they passed the janitor, Flint said, I shall be back by ten. If
any one comes to see me you have the key of my rooms, and let any
visitor come in and wait.
All right, sir!
And see that the fire is kept up.
Flint shivered as he passed out of the warm, heavily carpeted halls
into the chilly night of late November.
To-morrow will be Thanksgiving, won't it? Brady observed.
Yes, and judging by the number of turkeys on this avenue there will
be no family without one. I heard last year of a poor widow who had
six sent her by different charitable institutions. That is what I
call a pressure of subsistence on population.
Something in Flint's manner jarred upon his companion. It seemed
like a determined opposition to any undue influence of sentiment or
emotion. Brady could not have defined the attitude of his friend's
mind; but he felt it, and resented it to the extent of keeping silence
after they had taken their seats in the car of the elevated road.
There were few other passengers, and the car smelled of lamp-oil.
All surrounding influences tended to depress Brady's ordinarily buoyant
spirits, and he wished he had stayed at home, or at any rate had left
Flint behind. Meanwhile his companion, apparently wholly oblivious of
the frigidity of his companion's manner, sat with his hat pulled over
his eyes, and his face as undecipherable as the riddle of the Sphinx.
As the cars stopped at a station half-way between the up-town
residences and the downtown offices, in the slum belt of the city,
Brady buttoned up his overcoat and rose, saying shortly, We get out
He has been here more than once, was Flint's inward comment; but
he made no reply, only followed in Brady's footsteps down the iron
stairs, and under the shadow of the elevated track for a block or two,
when Brady made a sharp wheel to eastward.
Is this our street? asked Flint, speaking for the first time.
Yes, this is our street. Turn to the rightthere where you see the
red lantern hanging out from the second story.
Ah, you know the neighborhood well, I see. Lead on, and I will
follow. How dark it is down here!
Yes, electric lights are reserved for the quarters where you rich
You rich people! Flint smiled to himself. Pretty soon, he
thought, Brady will be classing me among the greedy capitalists who
are battening on the sorrows of the poor. He was almost conscious of a
feeling of guilt as he recalled the fresh, pure air of the park and
contrasted it with this atmosphere. The name of Berry Hill seemed
curiously inappropriate for the level streets lined with tumble-down
tenements; and its suggestion of the long-ago days when vine-clad
uplands swelled between the narrowing rivers, and little children
steeped their fingers in nothing more harmful than the blood of
berries, lent an added pathos to the gloom of the contrasting present.
The slum post was a forlorn wooden building which had quite
forgotten, if it had ever owned, a coat of paint. The windows of the
lower story were guarded by a wire netting, behind which reposed the
treasures of the poor under the temporary guardianship of the
pawnbroker. On one side lay bits of finery, tawdry rings of plate and
silver set with sham diamonds and pearls, which if the product of
nature, would have bankrupted a Rothschild. In among them were infants'
rattles and spoons marked for life with the impress of baby teeth.
Behind the smaller articles hung a row of musical instruments, fifes
and fiddles sadly silent, and hinting of moody, mirth-robbed homes.
Behind these again, by the dim light within, Flint caught a glimpse of
miscellaneous piles of household articles wrung from the reluctant
owners who had already parted with vanity and mirth, and now must
banish comfort too.
The door on one side of the window stood open, and a rather dim
light within showed a bare hall-way with a worn shabby staircase
leading to the room above. Flint and Brady toiled up two flights. The
path to heaven is not to be made too easy, is it? said Flint, pausing
to take breath.
No; did you expect elevators? his friend asked with some asperity.
Flint's good humor was not to be shaken, however.
To heaven? Why, yes. Angels' wings I've always understood were to
be at our service. Here it seems not.
At the door Brady stopped to drop a quarter into the basket labelled
Silver contribution, held by a buxom and not unpleasing young woman
in the Army uniform.
They understand the first principles of the church, I see, Flint
whispered. They have dropped the communion, but they keep the
Brady did not attend to him. As the two men entered, several turned
to look at them. Clearly they were not of the class expected. Brady,
however, nodded to one or two, and he and his friend sat down on a
bench near the door, in the corner of the hall. Flint wished it were in
order to keep his hat on to shield his eyes from the unshaded gas,
which struck him full in the face. But he resigned himself to that, as
well as to the heat and the odor, and charged it off to the account of
a new experience.
The interior was bare and cheerless, colorless save for the torn red
shades above the high dormer windows, and the crudely painted mottoes
over the platform and around the wall. Berry Hill for God!
sprawled along one side, flanked by Remember Your Mother's Prayers!
and in front the sinner's trembling gaze was met by the depressing
suggestion, What if you Was to Die To-night?
The ceiling was low, and the air already over-heated and
over-breathed. Flint was an epicure in the matter of air. He looked
longingly at the door, which offered the only method of escape. But he
had come for the evening, and he made up his mind to endure to the end.
A Hindoo was speaking as they came in, shaking his white turban with
much vehemence, and waving his small delicate hands in the air as he
told of The General's work in India, and how he had been drawn by the
gospel (which he pronounced go-spell) to give up his rank in the
Brahmin caste, to wander over the world as an evangel.
Queer, muttered Flint, that every converted Hindoo was a Brahmin.
Booth seems to have had great luck with the aristocracy.
For a few moments the strangeness of the Hindoo's speech amused
Flint; then he grew bored, and finally irritated. He took out his
watch, looked at it conspicuously, then closed it with an audible
click. If there is a depressing sound on earth it is the click of a
watch to the ear of an orator. The speaker felt it, and looked round
deprecatingly, reflecting perhaps that however superior in morals,
Occidentals have something to learn of the Orientals in manners.
When the high-caste Hindoo sat down, there was much clapping of
hands and shaking of tambourines, and then to the tune of Daisy Bell
rose a chorus of,
Sinner, Sinner, give me your answer, do!
Flint felt a convulsive twitching at the corner of his mouth, but he
had sworn to himself that he would betray no levity. Brady looked so
uncomfortable that his friend pitied him. There is much which disturbs
us, chiefly through the sensibility of others. At the end of the
singing, a man rose to tell of what the Army had done for him in
rescuing him from the gutter; but his legs were so unsteady and his
speech so frequently interrupted by hiccoughs that an audible titter
ran around the room, and there was great propriety in the song
following his remarks.
If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try again.
The room grew hotter, the lights more trying, the bench harder. The
humor of the situation began to die out in Flint's mind, and gave way
to a wave of repulsion and of pity for his friend who was about to
condemn himself to these associations for life. His mind, which had
wandered from the scene around him, was recalled by the sound of a
voice, so different from the preceeding ones that it fell like angelic
tones upon a world far beneath.
My friends, said the voice, which was of course Nora Costello's,
you have listened this night to stories of sin and suffering, of
struggle, of victory, and sometimes of defeat.
Like the tipsy gent's, a man called out with a coarse laugh.
Yes, like his. Would you jeer and gibe if you saw a man sinking in
the waves time after time in spite o' rafts and life-preservers thrown
out to him from the ship?
A shamed silence showed that the question had struck; but the
speaker was not satisfied with silence. She went on driving the shaft
home. Would you laugh if you saw a man trying to climb out of a
burning building and beaten back time after time by the flames?
(Cries of No, no.)
Then why should you laugh over a poor wretch who is struggling with
worse flames and in danger of being dragged down to more terrible fires
of endless punishment?
Fire! Fire! cried some one in the hall. For a moment Flint took
this to be like the No, no of a moment before,only a running
comment on the speaker's words,but at the same instant his eye caught
the curling of a thin blue line of smoke in the corner, and he
remembered the furniture and flimsy flummery stored on the lower floor.
He measured the distance to the door. There was no one between him and
it. He would have little difficulty in escaping if he started on the
instantbut these others!
The place will go up like a rocket, he said to Brady, but a panic
is worse. Hold the door with me!
Take me, meester; I'm stronger nor him! said a broad-shouldered
coal-heaver, who had overheard their whisper.
With this the three men made a bolt for the door, and formed in line
in front of it, with their stout walking-sticks in hand.
Keep your seats. We will knock down the first man who moves.
There's no danger! Flint shouted. For an instant the crowd wavered. It
would have taken only one more impulse to turn it into a mob. Nora
Costello saw the danger, and seizing her tambourine she began on a
ringing Army chorus. The audience fell in with such energy that it
drowned the rattle of the fire engines.
Don't be alarmed, said a fireman, sticking his head in at the
door, the fire is out, and the danger over. Five minutes more,
though, he added in an undertone to Flint, would have done the
business, and then, I reckon, we might have spent a week looking for
bodies in the ashes.
Come, Brady, let us go; I want some fresh air, said Flint, when
the excitement had subsided and another convert had begun his sing-song
confession and adjuration.
Go, then, answered his friend; I shall wait to the end. I am
going to walk home with Miss Costello. Yes, he went on, in response to
his friend's questioning glance, it's to-night or never.
Then I won't wait, said Flint; only come in to-morrow and tell me
how you fared.
It was with a feeling of exultation that Flint found himself again
on the street. How grewsome it would have been, he thought, to be
carried off in a job lot like that! I can imagine nothing worse, except
perhaps to be killed in a crush at a bargain-counter.
CHAPTER XX. THE UNFORESEEN
C'est toujours l'imprévu qui arrive.
The ruling thought in Flint's mind as he emerged from the crowded
room and made his way down the shaky stairs to the outer door, was of
the physical delight of inhaling fresh air. He drew in two or three
deep, lung-filling breaths, then he opened his coat and shook it to the
air as he had seen doctors do after coming out of a sick-room.
Decidedly, he said to himself, slumming is not my vocation. If I
were drafted into the Salvation Army, I should plead to be permitted to
join the open-air brigade. My sympathy with the poor in general, and
drunkards in particular, is in inverse proportion to the nearness. Poor
Brady! I wonder how he will endure being unequally yoked together with
a believer. Suppose Nora Costello refuses him. No, he is safe enough,
if it is being safe to have her return his love. I saw her look up as
we came in, and though she never glanced in our direction again till
the cry of 'Fire!' came, I saw her look of appeal then, and his
response. Oh, there is no doubt about her accepting him; but the
question is, not how does she feel now, but how will she feel a year or
two years from now? As I grow older, I grow more conservative on these
things. There is such an amount of wear and tear in the ordinary strain
of married life that I hate to see cruel and unusual ones added. If
Winifred Anstice should ever or could everThere, I will not allow
myself even to think about it, for it would be so much harder to give
it up afterward if I am compelled to, and, after all, what chance is
there that a girl like Winifred would be willing to spend her whole
life with a man whose nature and character are so different from hers!
Flint had been walking rapidly, and his musings had so filled his
mind that he saw with surprise that he had reached the corner where the
Sixth Avenue elevated and surface cars curve together for their
straight-away race to the Park at the end of the course. He was
conscious of a certain added rush of spirits at finding himself once
more on the edge of a familiar world,a world where the sin was at
least conventionalized and the misery went about well dressed. Already
the scene at the slum post had taken on in his mind a distance which
enabled him to regard it humorously, and he amused himself in
rehearsing the scene as he would set it forth to Brooke when he reached
As he turned a corner, he noticed just in front of him in the side
street leading toward Fifth Avenue a young woman carrying a paper
parcel, and looking up a little nervously at one number after another.
She wore a Canada seal jacket, and a wide felt hat topped with nodding
plumes which made a large effect for the investment. Over the jacket
hung a gilt chain holding a coin purse, the latest fad of the
As Flint's footsteps quickened behind her, she turned her head a
little timorously. At last she stopped, and as he caught up with her
she began, Could you tell me Then she stopped short.
Miss Marsden! exclaimed Flint, in amazement. What in the world
brings you here?
To see New York, the girl began a little flippantly, but ended
more tremulously, and to see you.
But where are you staying?
Nowherethat is, I came down on the train this afternoon, and I
thought I'd go to a hotel, and then I meant to write you a note
to-morrow and ask you to come and see me; but a lady I met on the cars,
she was real kind, and she said she guessed I'd find it cost more 'n I
reckoned on to go to a hotel, and so she gave me this address where a
friend of hers lived. She said she was a perfect lady, and would take
good care of me. Not that I need anybody to do that!
This last with that curious mixture of innocence, ignorance, and
sophistication, incredible outside America, where the self-dependent
girl so early becomes sufficient for herself and too much for every one
Flint took the address from her hand, and studied it for a minute.
That will not do at all, he said quietly, as he threw the bit of
paper into the gutter. Then he took out his watch. Half-past nine. You
have just time to catch the night train for South East.
The girl's face fell. I'm not going to South East, she said
sullenly. I wrote Pa that I was going off for Thanksgiving, with a
friend from Boxbury.
Then why not go back to Boxbury? That's still an easier trip, and I
can let you have the money.
Flint's tone, which was always low, had dropped still deeper; but
the earnestness of his manner made itself felt, and a casual passer-by,
catching the word money, slowed up his walk, and turned his head for
an instant's inspection of the couple. Flint raged inwardly at the
vulgarity of the situation thus thrust upon him. To his companion,
however, the glance of the passer-by conveyed nothing more than a
recognition of her good looks, to which she was not averse. She stood
still a moment, rubbing her ringed and ungloved hand back and forward
over the sanded iron imitation brownstone fence by which she had
paused. Then, as Flint, feeling the conspicuousness of their stationary
attitude, made a movement to walk on, she broke out with a note of
It's no question of money. I came away because I couldn't stand it
any longer. I wanted so to see you and to tell you what a lot I cared
about you, and I thought perhaps
Don't go on! said Flint, a trifle sternly. You are a silly little
fool; but you ought to know better than to say things like that to a
man who never did and never could care anything for you.
Then you despise me and my love! said Tilly, with passion half
real, half premeditated for effect. She had rehearsed this scene many
times in her own mind.
Despise you? Not I, Flint answered; and as for your love, a real,
genuine affection is about the last thing in the world to be despised.
Whether it is returned or not, it does not matter; and besides, here
Flint paused a minute and then went on, in that I have much sympathy
with you, for I too love some one who has refused to marry me.
It was with a sense of inward surprise that Flint heard himself
revealing the secrets of his inmost heart to this tawdry young girl;
but Brady's words were ringing in his ears: I think I would try to
help save a soul, if I had to take off my kid gloves or even go down in
the gutter to do it.
Tilly Marsden had not enough nobleness of nature to take in the
spirit of his confidence. To her his words implied some hope for
Perhaps, she said brokenly, if you couldn't get her you might
take me. As she looked up at him pleadingly, with real tears standing
on her long eyelashes and the flush of a genuine emotion on her cheeks,
Flint was conscious that she was very, very pretty.
Her prettiness would not at any time have held any temptation for
him. The inherited austerity of his blood and a fastidiousness of
temperament beyond the appeal of this chromo beauty would have
prevented it in any case, but just now he was under the spell of an
exaltation which lifted him above even the possibility of such danger.
He had stood on the Mount of Transfiguration and looked into the eyes
of spiritual love. Its light still shone above and around him, and shed
its influence over the whole world. All dark thoughts, all basilar
instincts shrank back abashed before that white light. The old
monogamous instinct of the Anglo-Saxon race, which has kept it sound at
the core in spite of a thousand vices, held this man as true to the
woman whom he wished to marry as if she were indeed his wife.
Tempted he was not, but most wofully disturbed in mind he certainly
was. Having destroyed the dubious address, he felt himself to have
assumed in a measure a responsibility for this foolish girl's future,
her immediate future at least. His mind traversed rapidly all the
possible courses open to him. He must take her somewhere. Hotels and
boarding-houses were alike impossible. He thought of Nora Costello; but
he could not bring himself to ask her to share the narrow limits of her
one room with this be-furbelowed young person, and then it would
involve so many awkward explanations. There was only one person who
would understand. By a process of exclusion, his thoughts were driven
more and more insistently toward seeking aid from Winifred Anstice.
He felt to the full the delicacy and difficulty, not to say the
absurdity, of his position, in seeking to place the woman who loved him
under the protection of the woman he loved, but it was the only course
which seemed even possible.
Come, he said suddenly to Tilly, with an authority which the
girl's will was powerless to resist. Since you will not go home, you
must be cared for here. I will take you to a friend of mine, and you
must do as she tells you.
And what if I won't go? said the girl, with a feeble effort at
Then I will leave you here. Only never hold me responsible for the
ruin that lies before you clear as Hell.
The girl quailed before the energy of his words.
Cab, sir? called the driver of a hansom the lights of which had
twinkled from a judicious distance for some time past.
Flint raised his finger in acquiescence, and the hansom rattled up
to the curbstone. Flint handed Tilly Marsden into it with his habitual
deference, gave a street and number to the driver, and, jumping in
himself, slammed to the half doors with a clang which echoed along the
silent street. The driver cracked his whip over the horse's head as if
he were about to drive him at a desperate pace; but the animal,
familiar with the noisy demonstration and recognizing it as intended
for the encouragement of the passengers within the vehicle and not
conveying any special warning to himself, set off at his customary
A man who had been standing in the shadow of a house moved out and
stood a moment under the quivering nimbus of the electric light. His
brow darkened as he looked after the retreating cab.
Curse him! he muttered.
Flint and his companion drove on unwitting of the vengeance-breeding
wrath behind them. For a time they kept silence, each absorbed in his
own thoughts. Flint was unpleasantly conscious that the girl was crying
behind her veil, but realizing that he had no consolation to offer, he
wisely let her alone, and before many minutes the novelty of her
surroundings began to tell upon Tilly's grief.
Whose house is that? she asked in a broken voice, as they passed a
brilliantly lighted hotel. She had read so much of the palaces of the
millionnaires that a fourteen-story private dwelling did not strike her
as at all unexpected.
She will recover, Flint murmured cynically to himself. His mind
was working rapidly now. Like many contemplative men, once roused to
definite action he was capable of great energy and direct executive
ability. He planned every detail of the coming interview, met every
emergency, was prepared for every event.
As the cab drew up before the Anstice door, he noted with relief
that the lights above were bright and those on the parlor floor
subdued. No company, thank Heaven! and the family upstairs, was his
comment. What he most dreaded now was Winifred's being out. He wondered
if in that event he should have courage to ask for Miss Standish, and
had almost persuaded himself that he would, when McGregor, to the
comfort of his soul, admitted that Miss Anstice was at home and without
visitors. Flint felt a little cut by McGregor's glance of suspicion at
his companion. It seemed to connote the opinion of the world, and to
make his position more difficult than ever. He determined, however, to
carry things with a high hand.
Show this young woman into the dining-room, McGregor, and close the
doors. Then take this card to Miss Anstice, and ask if I may see her
for a moment on important business.
The old butler stumbled upstairs, murmuring, Well, it's a queer
business, and I can't make it out; but he's the right sort, he is.
As Flint waited in the drawing-room, he was dimly conscious of the
perfume from the roses in the jar on the piano, conscious too that he
was standing on the very spot where he had kissed Winifred's hand
yesterday. Was it really only yesterday? It seemed an age ago.
The spell was broken by the sound of a light step on the stair, and
the appearance of Winifred herself in the doorway,Winifred in her
gown of soft gray silk, with a bunch of his roses at her
belt,Winifred as he had never seen her before, with the gladness of
unrestrained welcome in her eyes, with shy words of love almost
trembling on her lips.
Flint started forward, then thought of the girl behind the closed
door, and hesitated. Surely they could postpone happiness for a time to
bind up the bruises of that foolish wayfarer who was none the less to
be pitied that her wounds were self-inflicted.
Winifred's quick perception took in at once the agitation of his
face and manner.
You are in trouble! she said, coming close to him with swift
Yes, in trouble and in perplexity. I have come to you for help.
I am glad you have come to me, the girl said simply, and stood
with uplifted eyes waiting for him to go on.
Don't look at me like that, Flint cried out; when you do I can
think of nothing but you, and to-night we must both think about some
Who is it? What is it? Tell me from the beginning.
Flint was profoundly moved by the instant putting aside of all
thoughts of self in the desire to be of service.
How dared I ask her to marry me? he thought. Aloud he said:
Listen, Winifred, and know that I am trying to tell you the white
truth without reserve or evasion. I come to you because you are the
only person who will need no explanation of the past, to unravel the
evil of the present. I went with Brady this evening to a meeting of the
Salvation Army at a slum post down on Berry Hill, where Nora Costello
was to speak
Oh, why didn't you let me go too?
You shall go if you like sometime; but I am glad you were not there
to-night, for there was a fire, and something near a panic
Winifred turned white and moved nearer to him.
Don't be alarmed! he said; nothing happened. The fire was soon
put out, and people settled back in their seats. But I grew restless,
and concluded not to wait for Brady; so I started to walk up alone
Alone? echoed Winifred, through that quarter! Why, Nora says it
is as bad as Whitechapel.
Perhaps, said Flint, with a nervous laugh; but my walk was
entirely uneventful till I reached our own highly respectable part of
the city. As I was turning into Fifth Avenue, out of one of the side
streets above Washington Square, I saw a girl looking up at the houses.
As I came along she stopped to speak to me, and to my amazement I found
it was Tilly Marsden.
Yes, she had come down to spend Thanksgiving here in the city. She
had been expecting, it seems, to go to a hotel; but a woman on the
train gave her the address of some friend, and she was looking up this
unknown landlady when I came along.
Little fool! said Winifred, with finely feminine exasperation.
She isbeyond a doubt she is; but still
But still, said Winifred, with a vanishing smile, you naturally
have more sympathy with her folly than I have. (At this moment
Winifred had forgotten the charge of lack of sympathy which she had
brought against the man before her three months ago.) The question is,
of course, what is to be done with her?
Flint felt an immense sense of relief at Winifred's practical words,
which seemed to remove the situation from the element of tragedy to
rather sordid commonplace.
That's it exactly, he said helplessly. I thought of taking her to
That would not do at all, said Winifred, positively. I am
disappointed in you. If you had trusted to my proffer of friendship
yesterday, you would have brought her to me.
II did, hesitated Flint; she is in the rear room there. But the
more I think of it, the more I feel as if I could not have her here
near you. She is
You need not tell me what Tilly Marsden is, Winifred interrupted.
I know her of old. She is silly and pert, and cheaply sensational; but
she is not vicious, and if she were, our duty would be the same. You
may leave her with Miss Standish and me. We will take care of her, and
try to make something of her.
I suppose I ought to say 'Good-by' to her?
By no means. Go, and leave her to me.
Have you no word for me at parting?
No, not now,all that can wait.
Good-night, then, since you will let me say nothing more.
Winifred answered with a farewell glance, full of confidence and of
love. Then the door closed after Flint, and Winifred threw open the
folding-doors into the dining-room.
How do you do, Miss Marsden? she said, taking Tilly's hand.
The girl looked at her, stupidly bewildered.
You do not recognize me, I see, but I remember you from seeing you
with Leonard Davitt down at Nepaug.
Tilly blushed painfully, but Winifred took no notice of her
Mr. Flint said you were belated in your trip to the city, so he
brought you to us for the night, Winifred continued, as if it were the
most natural episode in the world.
And did he tell you
He told me nothing else. He was in a hurry, I suppose.
Then he is gone?
Yes, he is gone, and I am glad, because it is time you went to bed
after you have had such a tiresome journey. Come upstairs. I am going
to give you the little room next Miss Standish's. You remember her
perhapsshe was at Nepaug too. To-morrow we will talk over anything
you wish to tell me. Come!
CHAPTER XXI. GOD'S PUPPETS
God's puppets best and worst are we,
There is no last or first.
The breakfast-hour in the Anstice household was regularly irregular.
A movable fast, Professor Anstice called it. On the morning of
Thanksgiving Day the hand of the old Dutch clock pointed to nine when
Winifred Anstice entered the dining-room.
A freshly lighted fire blazed on the hearth. The lamp beneath the
silver urn blazed on the table. Toasted muffins and delicate dishes of
honey and marmalade stood upon the buffet.
Will you wait for Mr. Anstice? McGregor asked as she entered.
No, McGregor, I am like time and tide, and wait for no man or woman
either; but you need not hurry, for I will look over my mail while the
eggs are boiling,just four minutes, remember. I don't want them
bullets, nor yet those odious slimy trickling things which seem only
held together by the shell.
McGregor smiled,a smile it had cost him twenty years of service in
the best families to acquire,a smile which expressed respectful
appreciation of the facetiousness intended without any personal share
in it. He never allowed himself to be more amused than a butler should
Winifred Anstice dropped into the chair which he held for her, and
took up, one by one, the letters which lay on the silver tray by her
side. They proved a strange medley, as the morning mail of a New York
woman always is,a dozen At Home cards, Receptions, Teas, days in
December, all put aside after a passing glance for future sorting; an
appeal for aid, by a widow who had done washing for the family twenty
years ago, and was sure for the sake of old times Miss Anstice would
lend her a small sum, to tide over the cruel winter when her son could
get no work; a note from Mrs. De Lancey Jones, stating that a few
excellent seats for a performance to be given for the benefit of the
Manhattan Appendicitis Hospital could be had from her; there was a
great rush for the tickets, but she wanted if possible to keep a few
for her friends, and would Miss Anstice kindly let her know at once if
she desired any?
Miss Anstice smiled a sceptical smile, which deepened into a laugh
when she picked up the next note, which stated that Mrs.
Brown-Livingston was also holding back a number of the same much-sought
tickets for her friends, but would part with a few to Miss Anstice if
informed at once.
What frauds these mortals be! exclaimed Winifred, laying both
requests aside to amuse her father later.
At the next envelope she colored hotly, for she recognized the
handwriting instantly. Indeed it was an easily recognizable
superscription and of very distinct individuality,a back-hand which
at first glance gave the impression that it must be held up to the
mirror to be read, but on closer scrutiny looked plainer than the
upright round hand of the copy-books. It did not need the F upon the
seal to tell Winifred Anstice from whom it came. She opened it, as she
opened all sealed documents, with a hairpin, though two paper-cutters
of silver and ivory lay at her hand on the tray.
The note was brief. It was dated University Club, Midnight, and
had no beginning, as if the writer could think of none befitting his
I am distracted, it began abruptly, with the contest of fears and
hopes, regret and satisfaction. If I seem to have unloaded upon you a
burden of responsibility which was justly mine, I beg you to believe
that I did it only because I could see no other way, and even then I
meant only to ask you to share it. In place of this, with
characteristic generosity you insisted upon assuming the whole. This
must not be. Pray name some hour when I may come to you, and let it be
to-morrow. You don't know how far off that seems.
Only that, and then the signature. It was a strange note from a
lover; but to Winifred Anstice it was full of the assurance that the
man to whom she had given her heart (for she admitted it to herself
now) was of a nature large enough to put himself and his own feelings
aside and to believe that she too was capable of the larger vision, the
renunciation of present happiness for pressing duty. The highest plane
upon which those who love can meet is this of united work and united
Winifred's eyes glistened as she read, and when she had finished,
she slipped the note into her pocket for a second reading. As she did
so, Miss Standish entered.
I declare, Winifred, you get more morning mail than a Congressman.
Yes, said Winifred, and my constituents make larger demands.
It seems to me, said Miss Standish, that you engage in too many
projects. You do not give yourself time to attend to your own needs at
Oh, never fear for that! answered Winifred. One's own needs pound
at the door; the needs of others only tap. How did you sleep last
Finely. I was so tired after that picture exhibition that I could
hardly keep my eyes open. I was glad enough to creep off to bed by nine
o'clock; but do you know I had a confused dream of voices in the room
next mine,the little one with the green and white hangings. I thought
I heard your voice, and then a stranger's, and I seemed to catch the
word 'Nepaug.' Isn't it curious how dreams come without any reason
H'm! Sometimes it is, as you say, very curious; but in this
particular instance there was nothing very miraculous about it, since
you did hear voices and you very likely caught the word 'Nepaug,' for
it was certainly mentioned.
How's that? questioned Miss Standish, sharply. She did not relish
the idea of having missed any unusual happenings.
Winifred was a little vexed by the note of curiosity in her voice,
and she answered without undue haste, Yes, it was I and Tilly Marsden;
you remember her, perhaps,the daughter of the inn-keeper.
There were two things most exasperating to Miss Standish,one to be
supposed to know what she did not and thereby to be cheated of
acquiring the information, the other to be suspected of not knowing
what she remembered perfectly.
Not know Tilly Marsden! Well, you must think I am losing my
faculties. I wish you would not waste your time in telling things I
know as well as you do; but what I would like to hear is how she came
to be in this house.
Mr. Flint brought her, answered Winifred, with unkind brevity.
Ah! commented Miss Standish, with an upward inflection, and did
he explain how it happened that she was under his protection?
I did not insult him by inquiring, flashed Winifred, and I will
not have him insulted in my presence.
Miss Standish looked at the girl over her glasses, as if she
suspected her of having lost her wits. We are all of us surprised by a
response which seems to us vehement beyond the proximate cause of the
present occasion; we fail to allow for the slow-gathering irritation,
the unseen sources of excitement which collect in the caverns of the
mind like fire-damp ready to explode at the naked flame of one
flickering candle. Winifred had the grace to be instantly ashamed of
her impulsive irritability. She had already set before herself the
standard of self-control which she saw and reverenced in Flint.
Excuse me, she said. I was awake almost all night, and am tired
and nervous. Mr. Flint met Tilly Marsden by accident in the street. She
did not know where to go, and so he brought her here. My father
approved, she added a little haughtily.
But why did she appeal to Mr. Flint? pursued Miss Standish, who
clung to her inquiries like a burr.
Because she was in love with him, blurted out Winifred, irritated
beyond the power of silence. Can't you see! This was why I
asked him to leave Nepaug last summer.
Tilly Marsden in love with Mr. Flint! echoed Miss Standish, amazed
beyond the desire to appear to have suspected it all along. I can't
I can, said Winifred; I can understand it perfectly. Poor girl! I
am heartily sorry for her.
Well, you needn't be, responded Miss Standish, with an asperity
born of impatience at her own lack of astuteness. For my part, I have
no doubt she has enjoyed the situation thoroughly from beginning to
end. No, don't talk to me. I know those hysterical people. All they
care about is making a sensation and being the centre of attention. It
is my opinion that she has made fools of you and Mr. Flint too. As for
her being in love with him, nonsense! She would have fallen in love
with a wax figure at the Eden Musée, if it wore better clothes than she
was accustomed to. It tickles her vanity to fancy herself in love with
a gentleman. It is the next best thing to having him in love with her.
Don't you think you're a little hard on her? asked Winifred, whose
feelings were unusually expansive this morning.
I think you are entirely too soft about her, Miss Standish
answered. It is sickly sentimentalism like yours which is filling the
hospitals with hysterical patients. Let 'em alone and they'll come
round fast enough.
How do you account for my sickly sentimentalism when I have no
heart, as you told me the other day? commented Winifred demurely, with
Most natural thing in the world, said Miss Standish, rising to an
argument like an old war-horse to the sound of a trumpet.
Tenderheartedness is touched by the sufferings of others.
Sentimentality is touched by your feeling for them, which is the most
enjoyable form of sadness.
At this point McGregor, who with admirable discretion had retreated
to the pantry, reappeared, served Miss Standish with coffee and eggs,
and again vanished, closing the door behind him.
Really, cried Winifred, half laughing, half vexed, you're as bad
as Mr. Flint, with your fine-spun differences.
There, Winifred, you've said enough. Whatever the provocation, you
could not have hit back harder,to say I am like Mr. Flint.
It was rather more than the truth warrants, answered
Winifred, with a little spot of color flaming up in her cheeks like a
I hope so, Miss Standish continued, oblivious of the red flag. I
must say, Winifred, I think you let him come here too much.
You don't like him?
No, I confess I don't.
Then you needn't like me, either, for I like him so much
that I am going to marry him.
Miss Standish laid down her egg-spoon, and sat staring at Winifred.
Well! she exclaimed at length, this does beat all.
Winifred opened her lips to reply, when her attention was called to
the maid who came hurrying into the room with her cheesecloth duster in
one hand and a folded piece of paper in the other.
The young woman, mum, as you said I was to call at nine,well, she
isn't in her room, and the bed doesn't look as if it had been slept in
at all, and I found this on the bureau.
Winifred caught at the paper and read it breathlessly. It was
addressed to herself.
Good-by, it said, and thank you for taking me in. I suppose I
ought to be very grateful. I came here because I could not help it, and
I am going away without taking a meal, or sleeping in your bed. I don't
like being taken on charity. If it had not been for you, Mr. Flint
might have cared for me, same as the hero did in 'The Unequal
Marriage.' I saw last night it was you he was talking about when he
said there was somebody he wanted to marry who wouldn't have him. My
heart is broken; but I mean to have some enjoyment, which I
couldn't, if I stayed here with you and that poky Miss Standish. I
think it was real mean of Mr. Flint to bring me here anyhow.
She tossed the letter across the table to Miss Standish, and touched
the bell under her foot.
McGregor, she said, as the man appeared, did you hear any one go
out of the house this morning?
I thought I did, Miss Winifred, about six o'clock, before
light,that is, I was justly sure I heard the front door shut; but
when I got there it was all right, except the outer door was unlocked,
and that often happens when your father is at the Club. He do forget
now and then.
Three hours' start! said Winifred to herself, then aloud:
McGregor, go at once to 'The Chancellor' and leave word for Mr. Flint
to come here. WaitI will send a note. Oh dear! why didn't I foresee
Come! said Miss Standish, who, even in her excitement, could
swallow the last of her cup of hot coffee,come, let us go upstairs
and see if the foolish girl has not left some clew!
As Winifred and Miss Standish passed out at the parlor door, Master
Jimmy entered from the hall, sleek and smiling in his holiday attire.
Great Scott! he ejaculated. What started Miss Standish off like
that? Our stairs make the old lady puff when she takes 'em on the slow,
and at this rate Fred will have to carry her half-way. Something's up,
that's evident. Never mind, I'm not in it. McGregor, he called, bring
on those griddle-cakes; I smell 'em cooking. Quick now, while there's
no one here to count how many I eat! Hurrah for Thanksgiving!
McGregor failed to appear at Master Jimmy's call, and when Maria
came, she said he had been sent out on an errand.
What's up? asked Jimmy, between mouthfuls.
Oh, nothingnothingI wonder will they have the police?
Cops! cried Jimmy, waking up for the first time to a genuine
interest in the family excitement. Has any one gone off with the
spoons? It would be just my luck to have had a burglar in the house
last night and me never got a pop at him with my air-gun loaded and
close by the bed.
It's no burglar, said the maid, with mystery in her tones.
Not McGregor drunk! shouted Jimmy, with a scream of delight. That
would be too good a joke.
McGregor drunk, indeed! sniffed Maria, indignantly. If every one
as came to this house was as good as McGregor, it would be a fine
thing; but when it comes to takin' in all sorts and making a Harbor of
Refuge out of a respectable homeI'm not surprised whatever may
Oh, hold your tongue, Maria. Don't be a fool! Get me some more
cakes, while I go up and ask Fred what's the matter. It won't take
her half an hour to get it out, I'll bet.
With this cheerful observation Jimmy vanished, and Maria disappeared
down the kitchen stairs, declaring that that boy was a perfect
When Flint entered the Anstices' drawing-room a little later,
Winifred was standing by the window, and though she turned away
quickly, it was evident that she had been watching for him.
The thought thrilled him.
What shall we do? Oh, what shall we do? she broke out, as he came
up to her.
He took her hands; they were burning hot.
First of all, I will tell you what not to do, Flint
answered. You are not to work yourself into a fever of distress over
this unfortunate business. The responsibility is not yours but mine,
and the burden of anxiety is to be mine and not yours.
Oh, never mind me! What about Tilly Marsden? It is dreadful to
think of her wandering about this great city entirely aloneand she
such a simpleton. Of course, it's hopeless to try to find her. Papa
Not so hopeless as you think, said Flint, with a trifle more
assurance than he felt in his inmost heart. New York stands for two
things to a girl like her,the shops and the theatres,her ideas of
the 'amusement' she speaks of in the note you sent me would be limited
to one of these. Now, as this is a holiday, none of the shops would be
open, and that limits it to the theatres. I shall have detectives at
the door of every theatre this afternoon.
How clever you are, murmured Winifred, how clever and how
sympathetic! You have such feeling for everybody in trouble.
This was too much for even Flint's sense of humor, which had
suffered somewhat, as every one's does, from the process of falling in
love. His lips twitched.
Then I am not more obtuse than any one you ever saw, when the
sufferings of others are involved?
Don't, pray, don't bring up the things I said that night! cried
Winifred, blushing rosy red.
This is no time for jesting, dear, I know, Flint answered, coming
close to her as she stood against the filmy lace curtain. No time
either for jesting or hoping; only your words did give me a gleam of
encouragement to think that perhaps a girl who changed her mind so much
in a few weeks might have wavered a little in a few days. Is it
possibleWinifred, before I go away, as I must at oncecould you find
it in your heart to say 'I love you'?
Winifred made him no answer, at least in words; but she came close
to him, and laid both hands on his arm with a touching gesture of
So absorbed were they in one another that they did not notice how
near they stood to the window, or that the curtain was too diaphanous
quite to conceal them from view. Suddenly into their world of ecstatic
oblivion came a crash, a sound of falling glass, a dull thud against
the wall opposite to the window.
Great Heavens! cried Flint, looking anxiously at Winifred. What
was that? Are you sure you're not hurt, my darling?
Even as he spoke, another report was heard outside, and, throwing
open the curtains, they saw a man on the other side of the street
stagger and fall. Flint rushed to the door, down the steps and across
the sidewalk. A crowd had already collected.
He is dead,stone dead, said one, kneeling with his hand over his
Queer, isn't iton Thanksgiving Day too? said another.
Who is he?a countryman by his looks, said a third. Fine-looking
chap, too, with that crop of curly hair and these broad shoulders.
Faith! murmured an old woman, it's some mother's heart 'ull bleed
this day. And pulling out her beads, she knelt on the sidewalk to say
a prayer over the parting soul.
The prostrate form lying along the pavement had a certain tragic
dignity, almost majesty, in its attitude. One arm was pressed to the
heart, the other thrown out in a gesture of abandonment to despair. The
revolver, which had dropped from the nerveless hand, lay still smoking
beside the still figure. From a wound in the left temple under the dark
curls the blood trickled in a red stream. Death was in his look. The
lips were turning blue, and the eyes glazing rapidly.
Flint came close to the dying man, and then shrank back with an
involuntary start of horror. Leonard Davitt! he murmured below his
breath. In an instant the whole situation was clear to him. By one of
those flashlights which the mind sometimes sheds on a scene before it,
making the hidden places clear and turning darkness to daylight, he
grasped the truth. He knew that by some unlucky chance Leonard had come
to New York, had seen him and Tilly Marsden in conversation, had seen
them come here together, had fancied that he was wronged. Then this
morning again he must have seen him with Winifred at the
window,Winifred mistaken for the girl he loved,and then jealousy
quite mastered the brooding brain, and the end was this.
As Flint stood over the boy's body, a great weight of sadness fell
upon him. He felt like one of the figures in a Greek tragedy, innocent
in intent, but drawn into a fatal entanglement of evil, and made an
instrument of woe to others as innocent as himself. The blue sky above
in its azure clearness seemed a type of the indifference of Heaven, the
chill of the pavement a symbol of the coldness of earth. These
thoughts, chasing each other through his brain with lightning rapidity,
still left it clear for action.
Stand away there, and give the man air! he cried, clearing a
little space. Go for a doctor, somebody,quick!
Oh, can it be Leonard Davitt! whispered Winifred under her breath,
as pale and trembling with emotion she drew near the edge of the crowd.
Poor boy! What shall we say to his mother?
Hush! Flint answered. May we carry him into the house?
Of courseof course. Oh, do hurry with the doctor. Perhaps he is
not dead, after all.
With that ready adaptiveness which in Americans so often supplies
the place of training, four of the men stepped forward, and lifting the
body gently bore it up the steps and through the open door into the
drawing-room, and laid it on the lounge just under the bullet-hole in
A doctor bustled in, box in hand. He made no effort to open his
case, however. One look was sufficient.
Death must have been instantaneous, he said. What a queer
thing,a suicide on Thanksgiving Day!
CHAPTER XXII. THE END
Extract from the Journal of Miss Susan
Standish, Oldburyport, December 1.
It is good to be at home again. I said it over to myself many a time
yesterday, as I was helping Mary to take the covers off the family
portraits, and sitting in front of the old andirons with the firelight
dancing in their great brass balls. I felt it when I sat down at my
mahogany table and laid my fingers on the ebony handle of the old
silver coffee-pot. Things come to have a distinct individuality, almost
a personality, and we unconsciously impute to them a response to our
feeling for them. It seemed to me that the old claw-foot sofa was as
glad to get me back as the cat herself, and the door swung wide with a
squeak of welcome. My desk too stood open with friendly invitation, and
on it lay a couple of letters. The first was from Ben Bradford. It was
so long since I had heard from the boy that I opened his letter first.
I wrote him last month, sending him some news and more good advice. I
counselled him to stop thinking about Winifred Anstice or any other
girl, and throw himself into his studies, to make a record which should
do credit to the Bradford name. He replies that the advice is
excellent; only one drawback,it cannot be done. He has tried throwing
himself into his studies, but they closed over him without a trace.
Talk about records,he will be glad enough if he gets through his
examinations without a dead flunk. As for not thinking about Winifred,
he says I have not helped him to the desired end by what I wrote about
Mr. Flint and his attentions. Of course, Ben says, he could not expect
that Winifred would wait for him. In these days no man could hope to
marry until he was white-headed like that Flint; but as for himself he
never did or should see any woman whom he could love except Winifred
To try to throw off his depression and discouragement, he had gone
around last evening to call on Fanny Winthrop, who was studying at
Radcliffe this year and staying on Mount Vernon Street. She sent her
love to her dear Miss Standish, and if I had any message to send in
return he would be happy to carry it, as he and she were to act in The
Loan of a Lover, and he was likely to see a good deal of her in the
course of the next week or two.
This letter has relieved my mind greatly. It is evident that Ben's
heart is built like a modern ship, in compartments, so that though one
bulkhead suffers wreck, the vessel may still come safe to a matrimonial
Fanny Winthrop is a plain little girl with a round face and the
traditional student spectacles; but a merry pair of dimples twinkling
with a fund of cheery humor, and thena Winthrop! That will please his
mother, I am sure. But I am no matchmaker. I never think of such things
unless they are forced upon me, as they have been lately.
The other letter on my desk was from Philip Brady. I had missed his
call that last evening in New York. He writes, as if it were a
surprising piece of information, that he is going to marry Nora
Costello, provided she can gain the consent of her superior officers,
and he delegates to me the pleasant duty of breaking the news to his
family circle. This, he says, will be easy for you who have known
Nora, and who were the first to discover her charm and the solid merit
which goes so much deeper than charm.
Here is a pretty state of things!
What am I to do? I can see Cousin John's face when he hears the
words Salvation Army. He has always scoffed and scolded and sworn at
the mere mention of the business, and his opinions are very sot, as
the Oldbury farmers say. He is, in fact, the only obstinate member of
our family; but I will let him know that he cannot talk down Susan
Standish. I mean to go right over to his house after dinner and have it
out with him. I shall tell him that Nora Costello is a daughter-in-law
to be proud of (as she is), and that I dare say, if he wishes it, she
will leave the Salvation Army (which she never will); that, at any
rate, he must send for the girl to come on to visit him; that if he
does not, I shall; and that I heartily approve the match.
I call myself a truthful woman, and the proof of it is that when I
do start out to tell a lie, it is a good honest one, not a deft little
evasion such as runs trippingly from the tongue of practised deceivers.
I suppose the news of Philip's engagement will be spread all over
town before night. I feel now as though I should not object to a little
of that indifference to the affairs of one's neighbors which I found so
depressing when I was in New York. Not that I am any less loyal to
Oldburyport; if anything, I have grown more loyal than ever.
I love the deep snow and the trees bare as they are, and the square
down the road a piece, and the post-office, and the trolley cars. Our
cars go fast, but not too fast,just fast enough, and they have no
dead man's curve. Folks in Oldburyport die a natural death. They are
not killed by the cable or run over by bicycles, or, what is quite as
bad, hurried and worried to death by the rush of life, as people are in
New York. I declare I felt as if I had lived an age in the month I was
there; but then, why shouldn't I, with so much happening and such
exciting and distressing things too! It seems as if everything went
crooked. Now, if my advice had been taken in the beginningbut nobody
ever will take advice except in Oldburyport.
It makes me wrathy to think of Winifred Anstice marrying that Mr.
Flint, who is so dangerously irreligious, and Philip Brady marrying
Nora Costello, who is so injudiciously religious, and then poor Leonard
Davitt throwing away his life for that pert, forward, foolish Tilly
Marsden, who has gone back to her shop-counter, pleased, for all I
know, with all the excitement she raised! If corporal punishment in
early youth were strictly adhered to, there would be fewer Tilly
Marsdens in the world. In Oldburyport, I am happy to say, we believe in
Poor Leonard! I have not got over his death yet. It was all so sad
and so unnecessary. But I am not sure that he is not better off as he
is than he would have been married to that girl. His mother took to her
bed when she heard the news, and the doctor thinks she will not live
long. So Tilly Marsden will have that death on her conscience, too, or
would if she had a conscience to have it on.
There might very easily have been a third, for they said the first
bullet which Leonard fired must have come within an inch of Jonathan
Flint's head. I should have supposed such an escape must have softened
even him. I thought it was a good time to impress the lesson, so I
pointed to the bullet buried in the wall.
Mr. Flint, said I, can you look at that and not believe in
Instead of being convinced, as I thought he would, he only pointed
to Leonard's body lying under it and said nothing.
I hate these people who are given to expressive silences. It takes
one at a disadvantage. Silence is the only argument to which there is
no answer. At the time I could not think of anything to say to him,
though, since I got home, I've thought of ever so many. It is easier to
think, I find, in Oldburyport.
Except for the last terrible days I had a beautiful time in the
city, and as I look over my diary I am quite overwhelmed to see how
many things Winifred did for me. She is a dear girl! I have promised to
embroider all the table linen for her wedding outfit. I console myself
by reflecting that Mr. Flint is a descendant of Jonathan Edwards, and
if she wants me to like him, I suppose I must try, though I may confess
right here to my diary that for years I have been wanting her to marry
Philip Brady. She ought to have done it, but we are all fools where
matrimony is concerned.
P. S. I have promised to marry Dr. Cricket.
* * * * * *