The Gay Rebellion
by Robert W. Chambers
THE GAY REBELLION
[Illustration: She looked at him almost insolently. . . .
'Presently,' she said.
By ROBERT W. CHAMBERS
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY NEW YORK AND LONDON: MCMXIII
COPYRIGHT, 1913, BY ROBERT W. CHAMBERS
Copyright, 1911, by the COLUMBIAN-STERLING PUBLISHING CO.
Printed in the United States of America
Though J. H. jeer
And Smith incline to frown,
I do not fear
To write these verses down
And publish them in town.
The solemn world knows well that I'm no poet;
So what care I if two gay scoffers know it?
Buck up, my Muse!
Wing high thy skyward way,
And don't refuse
To let me say my say
As bravely as I may.
To praise a lady fair I father verses,
Which Admiration cradles, Homage nurses.
For you, Suzanne,
Long since have won my heart;
You break it, too,
And leave the same to smart full sore
Whenever you depart for Baltimore.
You're charming;and in metre I endeavour
To say you are as winsome as you're clever.
Winsome and wise,
Subtle in maiden's lore,
With wondrous eyes
Alas for Baltimore,
That grows this rose no more!
As for Manhattan, that benign old vulture
Wins one more prize in fancy horticulture.
So now to you
I dedicate this tale;
It's neither new
Nor altogether stale,
Nor can completely fail,
For your bright name as sponsor for my story
Assures the author of reflected glory.
R. W. C.
THESE stories, mademoiselle, as your intuition tells you, are for
old-fashioned young people only; and should be read in the Golden
Future, some snowy evening by the fire after a home dinner à deux. Your
predestined husband, mademoiselle, is to extend his god-like figure
upon a sofa, with an ash-tray convenient. You are to do the reading,
curled up in the big velvet wing-chair, with the lamp at your left
elbow and the fender under your pretty feet. As for me, I shall venture
to smile at you now and then from the printed pagebut with
discretion, mademoiselle, not inconveniencing your party à deux. For,
to be rid of me, you have merely to close this book.
The attention of the civilized world is, at present, concentrated
upon The Science of Eugenics. The author sincerely trusts that this
important contribution to the data now being so earnestly nosed out and
gathered, may aid his fellow students, scientifically, politically and
* * * * *
Miris modis Di ludos faciunt hominibus!
R. W. C.
Facta canam; sed erunt qui me finxisse loquantur.OVID.
THE year had been, as everybody knows, a momentous and sinister year
for the masculine sex; marriages and births in the United States alone
had fallen off nearly eighty per cent.; the establishment of
Suffragette Unions in every city, town, and village of the country,
their obedience to the dictation of the Central National Female
Franchise Federation; the financial distress of the florists, caterers,
milliners and modistes incident to the almost total suspension of
social functions throughout the great cities of the land, threatened
eventually to paralyse the nation's business.
Clergymen were in a pitiable condition for lack of fees and teas;
the marriage license bureau was open only Mondays and Saturdays; the
social columns of the newspapers were abolished. All over the Union
young men were finding time hanging heavy on their hands after business
hours because there was little to do now that every town had its
Franchise Clubs magnificently fitted with every requisite that a
rapidly advancing sex could possibly demand.
The pressure upon the men of the Republic was becoming tremendous;
but, as everybody knows, they held out with a courage worthy, perhaps,
of a better cause, and women were still denied the franchise in the
face of impending national disaster.
But the Central Federation of Amalgamated Females was to deliver a
more deadly blow at man than any yet attempted, a blow that for cruelty
and audacity remains unparalleled in the annals of that restless sex.
As everybody now knows, this terrible policy was to be inaugurated
in secret; a trial was to be made of the idea in New York State;
neither the state nor federal governments had the faintest suspicion of
what impended; not a single newspaper had any inkling.
Even Augustus Melnor, owner and editor of that greatest of New York
daily newspapers, the Morning Star, continued to pay
overwhelming attention to his personal appearance, confident that the
great feminine revolt was on its last shapely legs, and that once more
womankind would be kind to any kind of mankind, and flirt and frivol
and marry, and provide progeny, and rock the cradle as in the good old
days of yore.
So it happened one raw, windy day in May, Mr. Melnor entered his
private office in the huge Morning Star building, in an
unusually cheerful frame of mind and sent for the city editor, Mr.
An exceedingly pretty girl smiled at me on my way down town,
Trinkle, he said exultantly. That begins to look as though the
backbone of this suffragette strike was broken. What?
You've got a dent in your derby; it may have been that, said Mr.
Mr. Melnor hastily removed his hat and punched out the dent.
I'm not so sure it was that, he said, flushing up.
Mr. Trinkle gazed gloomily out of the window.
For an hour they talked business; then Mr. Melnor was ready to go.
How are my nephews getting on? he asked.
Something rotten, replied Mr. Trinkle truthfully.
What's the matter with 'em?
Everythingexcept a talent for business.
You mean to say they exhibit no aptitude?
Not the slightest.
Mr. Melnor seized his overcoat from the hook.
Mr. Trinkle offered to hold it for him. The offer irritated the
wealthy owner of the Star, who suspected that the city editor
meant to intimate that he, Mr. Melnor, was too old to get into his own
overcoat without assistance.
Never mind! he said ungratefully. He fussed at the carnation in
his buttonhole, picked up his doggy walking stick, glanced over his
carefully pressed trousers and light coloured spats, strolled across to
the mirror, and leisurely drew on his new gloves.
Mr. Trinkle, he began more complacently, what I want you to
always bear in mind is that my pup nephews require a thorough grilling!
I want you to bully 'em! Suppress 'em! Squelch, nag, worry, sit on
I have, said the city editor with satisfaction. They loathe me.
Do it some more, then! I won't permit any nepotism in this office!
If you don't keep after 'em they'll turn into little beastly
journalists instead of into decent, self-respecting newspaper men! Have
either of my nephews attempted to write any more poetry for the
Young Sayre got away with some verses.
Wha' d'ye do with 'em? growled Mr. Melnor.
Printed them! Areyoucraz-y?
Don't worry. Sayre got no signature out of me.
But why did you print?
Because those verses were too devilish good to lose. You must have
read them. It was that poem Amourette.
Did he do that?
Yes; and the entire sentimental press of the country is now copying
it without credit.
My nephew wrote Amourette? repeated Mr. Melnor with mingled
He sure did. That poem seemed to deal a direct blow at this
suffragette strike. Several women subscribers sent in mash notes. I had
a mind to take advantage of one or two myself.
Pride and duty contended in the breast of Augustus Melnor; duty won.
That's what I told you! he snapped; those pups will begin to
write for the magazines if you don't look out!
Well I tell you that they've no nose for newsno
real instinctand they might as well write for the backs of the
They've got to acquire news instinct! Bang it into 'em, Trinkle!
Rub their noses in it! I'll have those pups understand that if ever
they expect to see any inheritance from me they'll have to prepare
themselves to step into my shoes! They'll have to know the whole
businessfrom window-washer to desk!and they've got to like it,
tooevery bit of it! You keep 'em at it if it kills 'em, Trinkle.
It'll kill more than those gifted young literary gentlemen, said
What do you mean by that?
It will kill a few dozen good stories. We're going to murder a big
one now. But it's your funeral.
That Adirondack story?
Exactly. It's as good as dead.
Trinkle! Listen to me. How are we going to make men of those pups
if we don't rouse their pride? I tell you a man grows to meet the
opportunity. The bigger the opportunity the bigger he growsor he
blows up! Put those boys up against the biggest job of the year and
it's worth five years' liberal education to them. That's my policy.
Isn't it a good one?
Mr. Trinkle said: It's your paper. I don't give a damn.
Mr. Melnor glared at him.
You do what I tell you, he growled. You start in and slam 'em
around the way they say Belasco slammed Leslie Carter! I'll have no
He went out by a private entrance, walking with the jaunty energy
that characterised him. Mr. Trinkle looked after him. Talk of
nepotism! he muttered, then struck the desk savagely.
To the overzealous young man who came in with an exuberant step he
Showemin! And don't you go volplaning around this office or I'll
A moment afterward the youthful nephews of the great Mr. Melnor
appeared. They closed and locked the door behind them as they were
tersely bidden, then stood in a row, politely and attentively
receptivewell-bred, pleasant-faced, expensive-looking young fellows,
typical of the metropolis. Mr. Trinkle eyed them with disfavour.
So at last you're ready to start, eh? he rasped out. I thought
perhaps you'd gone to Newport for the summer to think it over. You are
ready, are you not?
Yes, sir, we hope to
Well, dammit! 'yes' is enough! Cut out the 'we hope to'! And try
not to look at me patiently, Mr. Sayre. I don't want anybody to be
patient with me. I dislike it. I prefer to incite impatience in people.
Impatience is a form of energy. I like energy! Energy is important in
this business. The main thing is to get a move on; and then, first you
know, you'll begin to hustle. Try it for a change.
He continued to inspect them gloomily for a few moments; then:
To successfully cover this story, he continued, you both ought
to be expert woodsmen, thoroughly inured to hardship, conversant with
woodcraft and nature. Are you?
We've been reading up, began Langdon confidently; we have a dozen
pocket volumes to take into the woods with us.
Haven't I already warned you that every ounce of superfluous
luggage will weigh a ton in the woods? interrupted the city editor
scornfully. Are you two youthful guys under the impression that you
can stroll through the wilderness loaded down with a five-foot shelf of
Sayre arranged that, said Langdon. He has invented a wonderful
system, Mr. Trinkle. You know that thin, white stuff, which resembles
sheets of paper, that they give goldfish to eat. Well, Sayre and I
tasted it; and it wasn't very bad; so we had them make up twelve
thousand sheets of it, flavoured with vanilla, and then we got Dribble
&Co., the publishers, to print one set of their Nature Library on the
sheets and bind 'em up in edible cassava covers. As soon as we
thoroughly master a volume we can masticate it, pages, binding,
everything. William, show Mr. Trinkle your note-book, he added,
turning to Sayre, who hastily produced a pad and displayed it with
Made entirely of fish food, sugar, pemmican, and cassava, he said
modestly. Takes pencil, ink, stylograph, indelible pencil, crayon,
The city editor regarded the two young men and then the edible pad
What? he barked. Say it again!
It's made of perfectly good fish-wafer, Mr. Trinkle. We had it
analysed by Professor Smawl, and he says it is mildly nutritious. So we
added other ingredients
You mean to say that this pad is fit to eat?
Certainly, said Langdon. Bite into it, William, and show him.
Sayre bit out a page from the pad and began to masticate it. The
city editor regarded him with intense hostility.
Oh, very well, he said. I haven't any further suggestions to
offer. Your uncle has picked you for the job. But it's my private
opinion that here is where you make good or hunt another outlet for
your geniuseven if your uncle does own the Star.
Then he rose and laid his hands on their shoulders:
It's a wild and desolate region, he said, with an irony they did
not immediately perceive; nothing but woods and rocks and air and
earth and mountains and madly rushing torrents and weird, silent
lakesnothing but trails, macadam roads, and sign-posts and hotels and
camps and tourists, and telephones. If you find yourself in any very
terrible solitudes, abandon everything and make for the nearest
fashionable five-dollar-a-day igloo. It may be almost a mile away, but
try to reach it, and God bless you.
As the dawning suspicion that they were being trifled with became an
embarrassed certainty, the city editor's grim visage cracked into a
I don't think that you young gentlemen are cut out for a
newspaper career, but you do, and others higher up say to let
you try it. So you're going in to find at least one of those four men,
dead or alive. The police haven't been able to find them, but you will,
of course. The game-wardens, fire-wardens, guides, constables, farmers,
lumbermen, sheriffs, can't discover hair or hide of them; but no doubt
you can. The wild and dismal state forest is now full of detectives,
amateur and professional; it's full of hotel keepers, trout fishermen,
and private camps which are provided with elevators, electric light,
squash courts, modern plumbing, and footmen in knee-breeches; and all
of these dinky ginks are hunting for four young and wealthy men who
have, at regular intervals of one week each, suddenly and completely
disappeared from the face of nature and the awful solitudes of the
Adirondacks. I take it for granted that you have the necessary data
concerning their several and respective vanishings?
Yes, sir, said Langdon, who was becoming redder and redder under
the bland flow of the Desk's irony.
Suppose you run over the main points before you dash recklessly out
into the woods via Broadway.
William, said Langdon with boyish dignity, would you be kind
enough to run over your notes for Mr. Trinkle?
It will afford me much pleasure to do so, replied Sayre, also very
red and dignified.
Out of his pocket he drew what appeared to be an attenuated ham
sandwich. Opening it with a slight smile of triumph, as Mr. Trinkle's
eyes protruded, he turned a page of fish-wafer paper and read aloud the
May 1st, 1910.
Reginald Willett, a wealthy amateur, author of Rough Life
Photography, Snapshots at Trees, Hunting the Wild Bat
with the Camera, etc., etc., left his summer camp on the Gilded
Dome, taking with him his kodak for the purpose of securing photographs
of the wilder flowers of the wilderness.
He never returned. His butler and second man discovered his camera
in the trail.
No other trace of him has yet been discovered. He was young, well
built, handsome, and in excellent physical condition.
Sayre turned the page outward so that Mr. Trinkle could see it.
Here's his photograph, he said, and his dimensions.
Mr. Trinkle nodded: Go on, he said; and Sayre resumed, turning the
May 8th: James Carrick, a minor poet, young, well built, handsome,
and in excellent physical condition, disappeared from a boat on
Dingman's Pond. The boat was found. It contained a note-book in which
was neatly written the following graceful poem:
While gliding o'er thy fair expanse
And gazing at the shore beyond,
What simple joys the soul entrance
Evoked by rowing on Dingman's Pond.
The joy I here have found shall be
Dear to my heart till life forsake,
And often shall I think of thee,
Thou mildly beauteous Dingman's Lake.
Stop! said Mr. Trinkle, infuriated. Sayre looked up.
The poem gets the hook! he snarled. Go on!
The next, continued young Sayre, referring to his edible
note-book, is the case of De Lancy Smith. On May 16th he left his
camp, taking with him his rod with the intention of trying for some of
the larger, wilder, and more dangerous trout which it is feared still
infest the remoter streams of the State forest.
His luncheon, consisting of truffled patés and champagne, was found
by a searching party, but De Lancy Smith has never again been seen or
heard of. He was young, well built, handsome, and
In excellent physical condition! snapped Mr. Trinkle. That's the
third Adonis you've described. Quit it!
But that is the exact description of those three young men
Every one of 'em?
Every one. They all seem to have been exceptionally handsome and
Well, does that suggest any clue to you? Think! Use your mind. Do
you see any clue?
In the probably similar fate of so much masculine beauty?
The young men looked at him, perplexed, silent.
Mr. Trinkle waved his hands in desperation.
Wake up! he shouted. Doesn't it strike you as odd that every one
of them so far has been Gibsonian perfection itself? Doesn't that seem
funny? Doesn't it suggest some connection with the present Franchise
It is odd, said Langdon, thoughtfully.
You notice, bellowed Mr. Trinkle, that no young man disappears
who isn't a physical Adonis, do you? No thin-shanked, stoop-shouldered,
scant-haired highbrow has yet vanished. You notice that, don't you,
Sayre? Open your mouth and speak! Say anything! Say pip! if you
likeonly say something!
The young man nodded, bewildered, and his mouth remained open.
All right, all rightas long as you do notice it, yelled
the city editor, it looks safe for you; I guess you both will
come back, all rightin case any of these suffragettes have become
desperate and have started kidnapping operations.
Langdon was rather thin; he glanced sideways at Sayre, who wore
glasses and whose locks were prematurely scant.
Go on, William, he said, with a crisp precision of diction which
betrayed irritation and Harvard.
Sayre examined his notes, and presently read from them:
The fourth and last victim of the Adirondack wilderness disappeared
very recentlyMay 24th. His name was Alphonso W. Green, a wealthy
amateur artist. When last seen he was followed by his valet, who
carried a white umbrella, a folding stool, a box of colours, and
several canvases. After luncheon the valet went back to the Gilded Dome
Hotel to fetch some cigarettes. When he returned to where he had left
his master painting a picture of something, which he thinks was a tree,
but which may have been cows in bathing, Mr. Green had vanished. . . .
Humhum!ahem! He was young, well built, handsome, and
Kill it! thundered the city editor, purple with passion.
But it's the official descrip
I don't believe it! I won't! I can't! How the devil can a whole
bunch of perfect Apollos disappear that way? There are not four such
men in this State, anywayoutside of fiction and the stage
I'm only reading you the official
Mr. Trinkle gulped; the chewing muscles worked in his cheeks, then
calmness came, and his low and anxiously lined brow cleared.
All right, he said. Show me, that's all I ask. Go ahead and find
just one of these disappearing Apollos. That's all I ask.
He shook an inky finger at them impressively, timing its wagging to
his parting admonition:
We want two things, do you understand? We want a story, and we want
to print it before any other paper. Never mind reporting progress and
the natural scenery; never mind telegraphing the condition of the local
colour or the dialect of northern New York, or your adventures with
nature, or how you went up against big game, or any other kind of game.
I don't want to hear from you until you've got something to say. All
you're to do is to prowl and mouse and slink and lurk and hunt and
snoop and explore those woods until you find one or more of these
Adonises; and then get the story to us by chain-lightning, if, he
added indifferently, it breaks both your silly necks to do it.
They passed out with calm dignity, saying Good-bye, sir, in
haughtily modulated voices.
As they closed the door they heard him grunt a parting injury.
What an animal! observed Sayre. If it wasn't for the glory of
being on the N. Y. Star
Sure, said Langdon, it's a great paper; besides, we've got toif
we want to remain next to Uncle Augustus.
It was a great newspaper; for ethical authority its
editorials might be compared only to the Herald's; for
disinterested principle the Sun alone could compare with it; it
had all the lively enterprise and virile, restless energy of the
Tribune; all the gay, inconsequent, and frothy sparkle of the
Evening Post; all the risky popularity of the Outlook. It
was a very, very great New York daily. What on earth has become of it!
LANGDON, very greasy with fly ointment, very sleepy from a
mosquitoful night, squatted cross-legged by the camp fire, nodding
drowsily. Sayre fought off mosquitoes with one grimy hand; with the
other he turned flapjacks on the blade of his hunting-knife. All around
them lay the desolate Adirondack wilderness. The wire fence of a game
preserve obstructed their advance. It was almost three-quarters of a
mile to the nearest hotel. Here and there in the forest immense
boulders reared their prehistoric bulk. Many bore the inscription:
Votes for Women!
I tell you I did see her, repeated Sayre, setting the
coffee-pot on the ashes and inspecting the frying pork.
The chances are, yawned Langdon, rousing himself and feebly
sucking at his empty pipe, that you fell asleep waiting for a biteas
I did just now. Now I've got my bite and I'm awake. It was a horse-fly.
Aren't those flapjacks ready?
If you're so hungry, help yourself to a ream of fish-wafer,
snapped Sayre. I'm not a Hindoo god, so I can't cook everything at
Langdon waked up still more.
I want to tell you, he said fiercely, that I'd rather gnaw
circles in a daisy field than eat any more of your accursed fish-wafer.
Do you realise that I've already consumed six entire pads, one ledger,
and two note-books?
Sayre struck frantically at a mosquito.
I wonder, he said, whether it might help matters to fry it?
No, you idiot! A fish-wafer.
You'd better get busy and fry a few trout.
Where are they?
In some of these devilish brooks. It's up to you to catch a few.
Didn't I try? demanded Sayre; didn't I fish all the afternoon?
All I know about it is that you came back here last night with a
farthest north story and no fish. You're an explorer, all right.
Look here, Curtis! Don't you believe I saw her?
Sure. When I fall asleep I sometimes see the same kindall
I was not asleep!
You said yourself that you were dead tired of waiting for a trout
to become peevish and bite.
I was. But I didn't fall asleep. I did see that girl. I watched her
for several minutes. . . . Breakfast's ready.
Langdon looked mournfully at the flapjacks. He picked up one which
was only half scorched, buttered it, poured himself a cup of sickly
coffee, and began to eat with an effort.
You say, he began, that you first noticed her when you were
talking out loud to yourself to keep yourself awake?
While waiting for a trout to bite, said Sayre, swallowing a lump
of food violently. I was amusing myself by repeating aloud my poem,
Where is the girl of yesterday?
The kind that snuggled up?
In vain I walk along Broadway
Where is the girl of yesterday,
All right! Go on with the facts!
Well, that's what I was repeating, said Sayre, tartly, and it's
as good verse as you can do!
Langdon bit into another flapjack with resignation. Sayre swallowed
a cup of coffee, dodging an immersed June-beetle.
I was just repeating that poem aloud, he said, shuddering. The
woods were very stillexcept for the flies and mosquitoes; sunlight
lay warm and golden on the mossy tree-trunks
Cut it. You're not on space rates.
I was trying to give you a picture of the scene
You did; the local colour about the mosquitoes convinced me. Go on
about the girl.
An obstinate expression hardened Sayre's face; the breeze stirred a
lock on his handsome but prematurely bald forehead; he gazed menacingly
at his companion through his gold pince-nez.
I'll blue-pencil my own stuff, he said. If you want to hear how
it happened you'll listen to the literary part, too.
Go on, then, said Langdon, sullenly.
I will. . . . The sunlight fell softly upon the trees of the
ancient wood; bosky depths cast velvety shadows
What is a bosky depth? What is boskiness? By heaven, I've
waited years to ask; and now's my chance? You tell me what 'bosky' is,
Do you want to hear about that girl?
Then you fill your face full of flapjack and shut up.
Langdon bit rabidly at a flapjack and beat the earth with his heels.
The stream, continued Sayre, purled. He coldly watched the
literary effect upon Langdon, then went on:
Now, there's enough descriptive colour to give you a proper mental
picture. If you had left me alone I'd have finished it ten minutes ago.
The rest moves with accelerated rhythm. It begins with the cracking of
a stick in the forest. Hark! A sharp crack is
Every bum novel begins that way.
Well, the real thing did, too! And it startled me. How did I know
what it might have been? It might have been a bear
Or a cow.
You talk, said Sayre angrily, like William Dean Howells! Haven't
you any romance in you?
Not what you call romance. Pass the flapjacks.
Sayre passed them.
My attention, he said, instantly became riveted upon the bushes.
I strove to pierce them with a piercing glance. Suddenly
Sure! 'Suddenly' always comes next.
Suddenly the thicket stirred; the leaves were stealthily parted;
A naked savage in full war paint
Naked nothing! A young girl in full war paint and a perfectly
fitting gown stepped noiselessly out.
Out of what? you gink!
The bushes, dammit! She held in her hand a curious contrivance
which I could not absolutely identify. It might have been a hammock; it
might have been a fish-net.
Perhaps it was a combination, suggested Langdon cheerfully. Good
idea; she to help you catch a trout; you to help her sit in the
Sayre, absorbed in retrospection, squatted beside the fire, a burnt
flapjack suspended below his lips, which were slightly touched with a
tenderly reminiscent smile.
What are you smirking about now? demanded Langdon.
She was such a pretty girl, mused Sayre, dreamily.
Did you sit in the hammock with her?
No, I didn't. I'm not sure it was a hammock. I don't know what it
was. She remained in sight only a moment.
Didn't you speak to her?
No. . . . We just looked. She looked at me; I gazed at her. She was
so unusually pretty, Curtis; and her grave, grey eyes seemed to meet
mine and melt deep into me. Somehow
In plainer terms, suggested Langdon, she gave you the eye. What?
That's a peculiarly coarse observation.
Then tell it your own way.
I will. The sunlight fell softly upon the trees of the ancient
Woodn't that bark you! shouted Langdon, furious. Go on with the
dolly dialogue or I'll punch your head, you third-rate best seller!
But there was no dialogue, Curt. It began and ended in a duet of
silence, he added sentimentally.
Didn't you say anything? Didn't you try to make a date? Aren't you
going to see her again?
I don't know. I am not sure what sweet occult telepathy might have
passed between us, Curtis. . . . Somehow I believe that all is not yet
ended. . . . . Pass the pork! . . . I like to think that somehow, some
Stop that! You're ending it the way women end short stories in the
thirty-five-centers. What I want to know is, why you think that your
encounter with this girl has anything to do with our finding Reginald
There was a basin of warm water simmering on the ashes; Sayre used
it as a finger-bowl, dried his hands on his shirt, lighted his pipe,
and then slowly drew from his hip pocket a flat leather pocket-book.
Curt, he said, I'm not selfish. I'm perfectly willing to share glory
with you. You know that, don't you?
Sure, muttered Langdon. You're a bum cook, but otherwise moral
Sayre opened the pocket-book and produced a photograph.
Everybody who is searching for Willett, he said, examined the few
clues he left. Like hundreds of others, you and I, when we first
entered these woods, went to his camp on Gilded Dome, prowled all over
it, and examined the camera which had been picked up in the trail,
We did. It was a sad scenehis distracted old father
H'm! Did you see his distracted old father, Curt?
I? No, of course not. Like everybody else, I respected the grief of
that aged and stricken gentleman
Hey? Why, you yellow dingo
Curt, as I was snooping about the Italian Garden I happened to
glance up at the mansionI mean the campand I saw by the window a
rather jolly old buck with a waxed moustache and a monocle, smoking a
good cigar and perusing his after-breakfast newspaper. A gardener told
me that this tranquil old bird was Willett Senior, who had arrived the
evening before from Europe via New York. So I went straight into that
house and I disregarded the butler, second man, valet, and seven
assorted servants; and Mr. Willett Senior heard the noise and came to
the dining-room door. 'Well, what the devil's the matter?' he said. I
said: 'I only want to ask you one question, sir. Why are you not in a
state of terrible mental agitation over the tragic disappearance of
'Because,' he replied, coolly, 'I know my son, Reginald. If the
newspapers and the public will let him alone he'll come back when he
'Are you not alarmed?'
'Not in the least.'
'Then why did you return from Europe and hasten up here?'
'Too many newspaper men hanging around.' He glanced insultingly at
I let that go. 'Mr. Willett,' I said, 'they found your son's camera
on the trail. Your butler exhibits it to the police and reporters and
tells them a glib story. He told it to me, also. But what I want to
know is, why nobody has thought of developing the films.'
'My butler,' said Mr. Willett, eyeing me, 'did develop the films.'
'Was there anything on them?'
'May I see them?'
He scrutinised me.
'After you've seen them will you take your friend and go away and
remain?' he asked wearily.
'Yes,' I said.
He walked into the breakfast room, opened a silver box, and
returned with half a dozen photographs. The first five presented as
many views of foliage; I used a jeweller's glass on them, but
discovered nothing else.
Was there anything to jar you on the sixth photograph? inquired
Sayre made an impressive gesture; he was a trifle inclined toward
the picturesque and histrionic.
Curt, on the ground under a tree in the sixth photograph lay
something which, until last evening, did not seem to me important. He
Well, what was it? A bandersnatch? asked Langdon irritably.
Langdon took the photograph. It looks like aa hammock.
What that girl held in her hand last night resembled a hammock.
Sayre leaned over his shoulder and laid the stem of his pipe on the
extreme edge of the photograph.
If you look long enough and hard enough, he said, you will just
be able to make out the vague outline of a slender human hand among the
leaves, holding the end of the hammock. See it?
Langdon looked long and steadily. Presently he fished out a
jeweller's glass, screwed it into his eye, and looked again.
Do you think that's a human hand?
It's a slim onea child's, or a young girl's.
It is. She had be-u-tiful hands.
That girl I saw last evening.
Langdon slowly turned and looked at Sayre.
Well, what do you make of it?
Nothing yetexcept a million different little romances.
Of course, you'd do that anyway. But what scientific inference do
you draw? Here's a thing that looks like a hammock lying on the ground.
One end seems to be lifted; perhaps that is a hand. Well, what
I'm going to find out.
Byfishing, said Sayre quietly, rising and picking up his rod.
You're going back there in hopes of
After a silence Langdon said: You say she was unusually pretty?
Shall Igo with you, William?
No, said Sayre coldly.
SAYRE had been fishing for some time with the usual result when the
slightest rustle of foliage caught his ear. He looked up. She was
standing directly behind him.
He got to his feet immediately and pulled off his cap. That was too
bad; he was better looking with it on his head.
I wondered whether you'd come again, he said, so simply and
naturally that the girl, whose grey eyes had become intent on his
scanty hair with a surprised and pained expression, looked directly
into his smiling and agreeable face.
Did you come to fish this pool? he asked. You are very welcome
to. I can't catch anything.
Why do you think that I am out fishing? she asked in a curiously
clear, still voicevery sweet and youngbut a voice that seemed to
grow out of the silence instead of to interrupt it.
You are fishing, are you not? or at least you came here to fish
last evening? he said.
Why do you think so?
You had a net.
He expected her to say that it was a hammock which she was trailing
through the woods in search of two convenient saplings on which to hang
She said: Yes, it was a net.
Did my being here drive you away from your favourite pool?
She looked at him candidly. You are not a sportsman, are you?
Nno, he admitted, turning red. Why?
People who take trout in nets are fined and imprisoned.
Oh! But you said you had a net.
It wasn't a fish net.
He waited. She offered no further explanation. Sometimes she looked
at him, rather gravely, he thought; sometimes she looked at the stream.
There was not the slightest hint of embarrassment in her manner as she
stood therea straight, tall, young thing, grey-eyed, red-lipped,
slim, with that fresh slender smoothness of youth; clad in grey wool,
hatless, thick burnished hair rippling into a heavy knot at the nape of
the whitest neck he had ever seen.
The stiller she stood, apparently wrapped in serious inward
contemplation, the stiller he remained, as though the spell of her
serene self-absorption consigned him to silence. Once he ventured,
stealthily, to smack a mosquito, but at the echoing whack there was, in
her slowly turned face, the calm surprise of a disturbed goddess; and
he felt like saying excuse me.
Do they bite you? she asked, lifting her divine eyebrows a trifle.
Bite me! Good heavens, don't they bite you? But I don't suppose
I didn't mean 'dare' exactly, he tried to explain, feeling his
ears turning a fiery red, and wondering why on earth he should have
made such a foolish remark.
What did you mean?
Nnothing. I don't know. I say things andand sometimes, he
added in a burst of confidence, they don't seem to mean
anything at all. To himself he groaned through ground teeth: What an
ass I am. What on earth is the matter with me?
She considered him in silence, candidly; and redder and redder grew
his ears as he saw that she was quietly inspecting him from head to
foot with an interest perfectly unembarrassed, innocently intent upon
Then, having finished him down to his feet, she lifted her eyes,
caught his, looked a moment straight into them, then sighed a little.
Do you know, she said, I ought not to have come here again.
Why? he asked, astonished.
There's no use in my telling you. There was no use in my coming.
Oh, I realise that perfectly well now. And I think I'd better go
She lingered a moment, glanced at the stream running gold in the
afternoon light, then turned away, bidding him good-bye in a low voice.
Are you g-going? he blurted out, not knowing exactly what he was
She moved on in silence. He looked after her. A perfectly illogical
feeling of despair overwhelmed him.
For Heaven's sake, don't go away! he said.
She moved on a pace, another, more slowly, hesitated, halted,
leisurely looked back over her shoulder.
What did you say? she asked.
I saidI saidI said but he began to stammer fearfully and
could get no farther.
Perhaps she thought he was threatened with some kind of seizure;
anyway, something about him apparently interested her enough to slowly
retrace her steps.
What is the matter, Mr. Sayre? she asked.
Why, that's funny! he said; you know my name?
Yes, I know your name.
Couldwouldshouldmight he could get no farther.
M-might Iwould it becould you
Are you trying to ask me what is my name?
Yes, he said; did you think I was reciting a lesson in grammar?
Suddenly the rare smile played delicately along the edges of her
No, she said, I knew you were embarrassed. It wasn't nice of me.
But, and her face grew grave, there is no use in my telling you my
Because we shall not meet again.
Won't you ever let megive me a chancebecauseyou know,
somehowseeing you yesterdayand to-daythis way
Yes, I know what you mean.
Yes. I came back, too, she said seriously.
A strange, inexplicable tingling pervaded him.
Yes. I should not have done it, because I saw you perfectly plainly
yesterday. Butsomehow I hopedsomehow
That there had been a mistake.
You thought you knew me?
Oh, no. I knew perfectly well I had never before seen you. That
made no difference. It wasn't that. But I thoughthopedI had made a
mistake. In fact, she said, with a slight effort, I was dishonest
with myself. I knew all the time that it was useless. And as soon as I
saw you with your cap off
W-what! he faltered.
A slight blush, perfectly distinct in her creamy skin, grew, then
I am sorry, she said. Of course, you do not understand what I am
saying; and I can not explain. . . . And I think I hadbettergo.
That is an added reason for my going.
Your saying 'please don't.'
He looked at her, bewildered, and slowly passed his hand across his
Somehow, he said, this is all like magic to me. Here in the
wilderness I hear a stick crack
I meant you to hear it. I could have moved without a sound.
And, looking up, I see the most beautifI seeyou. Then I dream
Every momentbetween mosquitoes! And then to-day I returned,
She lost a trifle of her colour.
T-t-to s-s-see you, he stammered.
I must go, she said under her breath, almost hurriedly;
this must stop now!
Won't youcan't youcouldn't I
No. NononoMr. Sayre.
He said: I've simply got to see you again. I know what I'm
b-b-but I can't help it.
Standing there facing him she slowly shook her head.
There is no use, she said. It is perfectly horrid of me to have
come back. I somehow was afraidfrom the expression of your face
Afraid of what?
She hesitated; then, lifting her grey eyes, fearlessly:
Afraid that you might wish to see me again. . . . Because I felt
the same way.
Do you mean, he cried, that Ithat youthat weOh, Lord! I'm
not eloquent, but every faltering, stuttering, stammering, fool of a
word I do say means a million things
Oh, I know it, Mr. Sayre. I know it. I have no business here; I
must not remain
If you go, you know I'll do some absurd thinglike poking my head
under water and holding it there, or walking backward off that ledge.
Do you knowif you should suddenly go away now, and if that ended
You know, he said.
She may have known, for she stood very still, with head lowered and
downcast eyes. As for Sayre, what common sense he possessed had gone.
The thrilling unreality of it allthe exquisite irrational, illogical
intoxication of the momenther beautythe mystery of herand of the
still, sunlit woods, had made of them both, and the forest world around
them, an enchanted dream which he was living, every breath a rapture,
every heart-beat an excited summons from the occult.
Mr. Sayre, she said, with an effort, I shall not tell you my
name; but if you ever again should happen to think of me, think of my
name as the name of the girl in that poem which I heard you reciting
Yes. That was the name of the poem and of the girl. You may call me
Amourettewhen you are thinking of me alone by yourself.
Did you like that poem?
Why do you ask?
BecauseI wrote it.
You! She lost a little of her colour.
Yes, he said, I wrote itAmourette.
Thenthen I had better go away as fast as I can, she murmured.
With an enraptured smile verging perilously upon the infatuated, if
not fatuous, he repeated her name aloud; and she looked at him out of
soft grey eyes that seemed at once fascinated and distressed.
Please let me go, she said.
He was not detaining her.
Won't you? she asked, pitifully.
No, I won't, said William Sayre, suddenly invaded by an instinct
that he possessed authority in the matter. We must talk this thing
Oh, but there isn't any usereally, truly there isn't! Won't you
No, he said as honestly as he could through the humming exaltation
that sang in him until, to himself, he sounded like a beehive.
There was a fallen log all over moss behind her.
We ought to be seated to properly consider this matter, he said.
I must not think of it! I must go instantly.
When they were seated, and he had nearly twisted his head off trying
to meet her downcast eyes, he resumed a normal and less parrot-like
posture, and folded his arms portentously.
To begin, he said, I came here fishing. I heard a stick
She looked up.
That was my fault. It was all my fault. I don't know how I
ever came to do it. I never did such a thing in my life. We merely
heard that you and Mr. Langdon were in the woods
We. Never mind the others. I'll say that I heard you were
here. Andand I took mymy net and came toto
Investigate what? Me?
Y-yes. I can't explain. But I came, honestly, naturally,
unsuspiciously. And as soon as I saw you I was quite sure that you were
not whatwhat certain people wanted, even if you were the author of
[Illustration: 'To begin,' he said, 'I came here fishing.']
I was not what you wanted? he repeated, bewildered.
I mean thatthat you were not whatwhat they required
They? Who are they? And what, in Heaven's name, did 'they'
I don't want to tell you, Mr. Sayre. All I shall say is that I knew
immediately that they didn't want you, because you are not up to
the University standard. And you won't understand that. I ought to have
gone quietly away. . . . I don't know why I didn't. I was so interested
in listening to you recite, and in looking at you. I loved your poem,
Amourette. . . . And two hours slipped by
You stood there in the bushes looking at me for two hours,
and listening to my poemand liking it?
Yes, I did. . . . I don't know why. . . . And then, somehow,
without any apparent reason, I wanted you to see me . . .
without any apparent reason . . . and so I stepped on a dry stick. . .
. And to-day I came back . . . without any apparent reason. . . . I
don't know what on earth has happened to make memake meforget
She looked up at him with clear grey eyes, a trifle daunted.
Forget everything except that Ilike you, Mr. Sayre.
He said: That is the sweetest and most fearless thing a woman ever
said. I am absurdly happy over it.
She waited, looking down at her linked fingers.
And, he said, for the first time in all my life I have cared more
for what a woman has said to me than I care for anything on earth.
There was a good deal of the poet in William Sayre.
Do you mean it? she asked, tremulously.
I mean more.
II think you had better not saymore.
Because of what I told you. There is no use in youryour finding
Are you married? he asked, so guilelessly that she blushed and
denied it with haste.
His head was spinning in a sea of pink clouds. Harps were playing
somewhere; it may have been the breeze in the pines.
Amourette, he repeated in a sort of divine daze.
I amgoing, she said, in a low voice.
Do you desire to render me miserable for life? he asked so
seriously that at first she scarcely realised what he had said. Then
blush and pallor came and went; she caught her breath, looked up at
Everything is wrong, she said in the ghost of a voice. Things are
hurrying metrying to drive me headlong. I must go. Let me go, now.
And she sat very still, and closed her eyes. A second later she
Why did you come? she asked almost fiercely. There was no use in
it! Why did you come into these woods for that foolish newspaper? By
this time the Associated Press, the police, and the families of the men
you are looking for have received letters from every one of the four
missing young men, saying that they are perfectly well and happy and
expect to returnafter their honeymoons.
Flushed, excited, beautiful in her animation, she faced the
astounded young man who stared at her wildly through his eye-glasses.
After a while he managed to ask whether she wished him to believe
that these four young men had each eloped with their soul mates.
She bit her lip. To be accurate, she said in a low voice,
somebody eloped with each one of them.
How? I don't understand!
I don't wish you to. . . . Good-bye.
You mean, he demanded, incredulously, that four girls ran away
with these four big, hulking young men?
That's ridiculous! Besides, it's impossible! Besideswomen don't
run men off like cattle rustlers. Man is the active agent in
elopements, woman the passive agent.
She did not answer.
She made no reply.
He said: Amourette, shall I illustrate what I meanwith you as the
The girl bent over a little, then with a sudden movement she dropped
her head in her hands. A moment later he saw a single tear fall between
He looked east, west, north, south, and finally up into the sky.
Seeing nobody, the silly expression left his otherwise interesting
face; a graver, gentler light grew in his eyes. And he put one arm
around her supple waist.
Something is dreadfully wrong, he said; all this must be
explainedour strange encounter, our speaking, our talking at cross
purposes, our candid interest in each otherthe sudden, swift,
unfeigned friendship that was born the instant that our eyes
I know it. It was born. Oh, I know it. I know it, and
I could not help itsomehowsomehow
Itit was almost likelikelove at first sight, he whispered.
It wassomething like itI am afraid
Do you think it was love?
I don't know. . . . Do you?
I don't know. . . . You mustn't cry. Put your head downhere. You
mustn't be distressed.
I am, dreadfully.
You mustn't be.
I can't help itnow.
Could you help it if youloved me?
Oh, no! Oh, no! It would distress me beyond measure toto love
you. Oh, it must not beit must not happen to me
It is already happening to me.
Don't let it! Don't let it happen to either of us!
Butit is happening all the while, Amourette.
She drew a swift, startled sigh.
Is that what it is that is happening to me, too, Mr. Sayre?
Yes. I think so.
Oh, oh, oh! she sobbed, hiding her face closer to his
Amourette! Darling! Dea
L-listen. Because now I've got to tell you all about the
disappearance of those perfectly horrid young specimens of physical
perfection. And after that you will abhor me!
Abhor you! Dearestdearest and most divine of women!
Wait! she sobbed. I've got myself and you into the most awful
scrape you ever dreamed of by falling in love with you at first sight!
And she turned her face closer to his shoulder and slipped one
desperate little hand into his.
ABOUT two o'clock that afternoon Sayre rushed into camp with his
scanty hair on end.
Langdon, who had been attempting to boil a blank-book for dinner,
gazed at him in consternation.
What is it? Bears, William? he asked fearfully. D-d-don't be
f-f-frightened; I'll stand by you.
It isn't bears, you simp! I've just unearthed the most colossal
conspiracy of the century! Curtis, things are happening in these woods
that are incredible, abominable, horrible
What is happening? faltered Langdon, turning paler.
Worse! They've got Willett and the others! She admitted it to
Willett and Carrick and the others! shouted Sayre, gesticulating.
They've caught 'em all! She said so! I
They? She? Who's caught what? Who's 'they'? What it is? Who's
'she'? What are you talking about, anyway?
Amourette told me
Amourette? Who the deuce is Amourette?
I don't know. Shut up! My head's spinning like a gyroscope. All I
know is that I want to marry her and she won't let meand I believe
she would if I had a reliable hair-restorer and wasn't
near-sightedbut she ran away and got inside the fence and locked the
Are you drunk? demanded Langdon, or merely frolicsome?
I don't know. I guess I am. I'm about everything else. What
do I know about anything anyway? Nothing!
He began to run around in circles; Langdon, having seen similar
symptoms in demented cats, regarded him with growing alarm.
I tell you it's an outrageous social condition which tolerates such
doings! shouted Sayre. It's a perfectly monstrous state of things!
Nine handsome men out of ten are fatheads! I told her so! I tried to
point out to herbut she wouldn't listenshe wouldn't listen!
Langdon stared at him, jaw agape. Then:
Quit that ghost-dancing and talk sense, he ventured.
Do you think that men are going to stand for it? yelled Sayre,
waving his hands, ordinary, decent, God-fearing, everyday young men
like you and me? If this cataclysmic cult gains ground among American
womenif these exasperating suffragettes really intend to carry out
any such programme, everybody on earth will resemble everybody
elselike those wax figures marked 'neat,' 'imported,' and 'nobby'!
And I told Amourette that, too; but she wouldn't listenshe wouldn't
lisMy God! Why am I bald?
He swung his arms like a pair of flails and advanced distractedly
upon Langdon, who immediately retreated.
Come back here, he said. I want to picture to you the horrors
that are going on in your native land! You ought to know. You've got to
Certainly, old man, quavered Langdon, keeping a tree between them.
But don't come any closer or I'll scream.
Do you think I'm nutty?
Oh, not at allnot at all, said Langdon soothingly.
Probably the wafers disagreed with you.
Curtis, wouldn't it rock any man's equilibrium to fall head over
heels in love with a girl inside of ten minutes? I merely ask you, man
It sure would, dear friend
And then to see that divine girl almost ready to love you in
returnsee it perfectly, plainly? And have her tell you that she could
learn to care for you if your hair wasn't so thin and you didn't wear
eye-glasses? By Jinks! That was too much! I'll leave it to you
Langdon swallowed hard and watched his friend fixedly.
And then, continued Sayre, grinding his teeth, then she
told me about Willett!
Oh, the whole thing is knocked in the head from a newspaper
standpoint. They've all written home. They're marriedor on the point
But that isn't what bothers me. What do I care about this job, or
any other job, since I've seen the only girl on earth that I could ever
stay home nights for! And to think that she ran away from me and I'm
never to see her again because I'm near-sighted and partly bald!
He waved his arms distractedly.
But, by the gods and demons! he cried, I'm not going to stand for
her going hunting with that man-net! If she catches any insufferable
pup in it I'll go insane!
Langdon's eyes rolled and he breathed heavily.
Old man, he ventured, kindly, don't you think you'd better lie
down and try to take a nice little nap
Sayre instantly chased him around the tree and caught him.
Curt, he said savagely, get over the idea that there's anything
the matter with me mentally except love and righteous indignation. I
am in love; and it hurts. I'm indignant, because those people are
treating my sex with an outrageous and high-handed effrontery that
would bring the blush of impotent rage to any masculine cheek!
What people? said the other warily. You needn't answer till you
get your wits back.
They're back, Curt; that twelve-foot fence of heavy elephant-proof
wire which we noticed in the forest day before yesterday isn't the
fencing to a game park. It encloses a thousand acres belonging to the
New Race University. Did you know that?
What's The New Race University? asked Langdon, astonished.
You won't believe itbut, Curtis, it's a reservation for thethe
p-p-propagation of a new and s-s-symmetrically p-p-proportioned race of
g-g-god-like human beings! It's a deliberate attempt at cold-blooded
scientific selectionan insult to every bald-headed, near-sighted,
thin-shanked young man in the United States!
William, said the other, coaxingly, you had better lie down and
let me make some wafer soup for you.
You listen to me. I'm getting calmer now. I want to tell you about
these New Race women and their University and Amourette and Reginald
Willett and the whole devilish business.
Is thereis there really such a thing, William? You would not tell
me a bind like that just to make a goat of me, would you?
No, I wouldn't. There is such a thing.
Did you see it?
How do you know?
Amourette told meshamelessly, defiantly, adorably! It was
organised in secret out of the most advanced and determined as well as
the most healthy, vigorous, and physically beautiful of all the
suffragettes in North America. One of their number happened to own a
thousand acres here before the State took the rest for its park. And
here they have come, dozens and dozens of themto attend the first
summer session of the New Race University.
Isis there actually a University in these woods?
Buildings? demanded Langdon, amazed.
No, burrows. Isn't that the limit? Curt, believe me, they live in
caves. It's their idea of being vigorous and simple and primitive.
Their cult is the cave woman. They have classes; they study and recite
and exercise and cook and play auction bridge. Their object is to
hasten not only political enfranchisement, but the era of a physical
and intellectual equality which will permit them to mate as they choose
and people this republic with perfect progeny. Every girl there is
pledged to mate only with the very pick of physical masculine
perfection. Their pledge is to build up a new, god-like race on earth,
which ultimately will dominate, crush out, survive, and replace all
humanity which has become degenerate. Nothing mentally or physically or
politically imperfect is permitted inside that wire fence. My
eye-glasses bar me out; your shanks exclude youalso your politics,
because you're a democrat.
That's monstrous! exclaimed Langdon, indignantly.
More monstrous still, these disciples of the New Race movement are
militant! Their audacity is unbelievable! Certain ones among them,
adepts in woodcraft, have now begun to range this forest with nets.
What do you think of that! And when they encounter a young fellow who
agrees with the remorseless standard of perfection set up by the
University, they stalk him and net him! They've got four so far. And
now it's Amourette's turn to go out!
Langdon's teeth chattered.
W-w-what are they g-going to do with their captures?
Willett? And Carrick and
Yes. Isn't it awful, Curt?
Was she the girl with the net in the photo? I mean, was that her
No; that was a friend of her's who bagged Willett. Amourette
started out yesterday for the first time afterwell, I suppose you'd
call it 'big game.' She saw me, stalked me, got near enough to see my
glasses, and let me go. And to-day, thinking that she might have been
mistaken and that perhaps I only wore sun-glasses, she came back. But I
was ass enough to take off my cap to her, and she saw my hairsaw
where it wasn'tand that settled it.
What a mortifying thing to happen to you, William.
I should think so. There's nothing unusual the matter with me.
Cæsar was bald. It's idiotic to bar a man out because he has fewer
hairs than the next man. And the exasperating part of it is that I
believe I could win her if I had half a chance.
Of course you could. If she's any good as a sport, she'd rather
have you, hairless myopiac that you are, than a tailor's dummy.
Sayre said: Isn't it a terrible thing, Curtis, to think of that
sweet, lovely young girl pledged to a scientific life like that?
P-pledged to p-p-propagate p-p-perfection?
What a mean-spirited creature that fellow Willett must be,
observed Langdon in disgust; and the other threeUgh!
To tamely submit to being kidnapped and woo'd and wed that
wayendure the degradation of a captivity among all those young
Sayre said: Would you call for help if kidnapped?
Langdon gazed into space: I wonder, he murmured.
Sayre looked at him searchingly.
I don't believe you'd make the welkin ring with your yelps. It's
probably the same with those four men.
I don't suppose those suffragettes of the New Race University
really require any fence there to keep those men in.
No; only to keep the rest of us out.
The chances are that Willett and that poet Carrick and De Lancy
Smith and Alphonso W. Green couldn't be chased out of that University.
Those are the chances. How I hate those four men. It's
curious, William, that no man can ever tolerate the idea of any other
man ever getting solid with any looker. I always did dislike to see
another man with a pretty girl. . . . William?
Think of the concentrated beauty in that University! Think of that
rich round-up of creamy dreams! Consider that mellifluous marmalade!
Andwe can't have anybecause you are slightly bald and
near-sighted and I am thin and scholarly! He ran at the
camp-kettle and kicked it.
After a painful silence Sayre said timidly: Don't laugh, but is
there any known substance which will bring in hair?
You mean bring it out?
Well, dammit, grow it! Is there?
There are too many bald monarchs and millionaires to prove the
contrary. Nor is there anything that can make my thin shanks fatter.
I'd be willing to go about without glasses, said Sayre humbly.
I told her so.
Couldn't you deceive her with a wig? It wouldn't matter afterward.
After you're once married let her shriek.
Amourette saw my head. And he hung it in bitter dejection.
Come on, said Langdon cheerily. Let's peek through their fence
and see what happens. Much has been done with a merry eye in this world
of haughty ladies.
As they turned away into the woods Sayre clenched his fists.
I'd like to knock the collective blocks off those four young men
inside that fence. Andto thinkto think of Amourette going
out again to-morrow, man hunting, with her net! I can't endure it,
CurtI simply can't.
Langdon looked at his friend in deep commiseration.
I wish I could help you, Williambut I don't
seeIdon'texactlysee He hesitated. Of course I could
go to Utica and pay a wig-maker and costumer to make me up into the
kind of Charlie-Gussie they're looking for at that University. . . .
And when your best girl goes out hunting, she'll see me and net me, and
you can be in hiding near by, and rush out and net her.
In their excitement they seized each other and danced.
Why not? exclaimed Langdon. Shall I try? Trust me to come back a
specimen of sickening symmetrythe kind of man women write about and
draw pictures ofpink and white and silky-whiskered! Shall I? And I'll
bring you a net to catch her in! Is it a go, William?
Sayre broke down and began to cry.
Heaven bless you, friend, he sobbed. And if ever I get that girl
inside a net she'll learn something about natural selection that they
p-p-probably forgot to teach in their accursed New Race University!
ONE week later Curtis Langdon sat on the banks of a trout stream
fishing, apparently deeply absorbed in his business; but he was
listening so hard that his ears hurt him.
A few yards away, ambushed behind a rock on which was painted Votes
for Women, lurked William Sayre. A net lay on the ground beside him,
fashioned with ring and detachable handle like a gigantic butterfly
He, too, tremendously excited, was listening and watching the human
baitLangdon being cast for the bait.
Perfect and nauseating beauty now marked that young gentleman.
Features and figure were symmetrical; his eyebrows had been pencilled
into exact arcs, his mouth was a Cupid's bow, his cheeks were softly
rosy, and a silky and sickly moustache shadowed his rosy lips. Under
his fashionable outing shirt he wore a rubber chest improver; his
cunningly padded shoulders recalled the exquisite sartorial creations
of Mart, Haffner, and Sharx; his patent puttees gave him a calf to
which his personal shanks had never aspired; thick, golden-brown hair,
false as a woman's vows, was tossed carelessly from a brow, snowy with
pearl powder. And he wore a lilac-edged handkerchief in his left cuff.
Both young men truly felt that if any undergraduate of the New Race
University was out stalking she'd have at least one try at such a bait.
Nothing feminine and earnest could resist that glutinous agglomeration
But they had now been there since before dawn; nothing had broken
the sun-lit quiet of forest and water, not even a trout; and they
listened in vain for the snapping of the classical twig.
Lunch time came; they ate a pad apiece. Neither dared to smoke,
Sayre because it might reveal his hiding place, Langdon because smoking
might be considered an imperfection in the University.
Sunlight fell warm on the banks of the stream, the leaves rustled,
big white clouds floated in the blue above. Nothing came near Langdon
except a few mosquitoes, who couldn't bite through the make-up; and a
small and inquisitive bird that inspected him with disdain and said,
cheepche-ep! so many times that Langdon took it as a personal
comment and almost blushed.
He thought to himself: If it wasn't that William is actually
becoming ill over his unhappy love affair I'm damned if I'd let even a
dicky-bird see me in this rig. Ugh! What a head of hair! The average
girl's ideal is what every healthy man wants to kick. I wouldn't blame
any decent fellow for booting me into the brook on sight.
He bit into his pad and sat chewing reflectively and dabbling his
line in the water.
Poor old William, he mused. This business is likely to end us
both. If we stay here we lose our jobs; if we go back William is likely
to increase the nut crop. I never supposed men took love as seriously
as that. I've heard that it sometimes occurredwhat is it Shakespeare
says: 'How Love doth make nuts of us all!'
He chewed his pad and swung his feet, philosophically.
Why the devil doesn't some girl come and try to steal a kiss? he
muttered. It might perhaps be well to call their attention to my
helpless presence and unguarded condition.
So he sang for a while, swinging his legs: Somebody's watching and
waiting for me! munching his luncheon between verses; and, as nobody
came, he bawled louder and louder the refrain: Somebody's darling,
darling, dah-ling! until a hoarse voice from behind the rock silenced
Shut up that hurdy-gurdy voice of yours! A defect like that will
count ten points against you! Can it!
Oh, very well, said Langdon, offended; but everybody doesn't feel
the way you do about music.
Silence resumed her classical occupation in the forest; the stream
continued to sparkle and make its own kind of music; the trout, having
become accustomed to the queer thing on the bank and the baited hook
among the pebbles, gathered in the ripples stemming the current with
A very young rabbit sat up in a fern patch and examined Langdon with
dark, moist eyes. He sat there for several minutes, and might have
remained for several more if a sound, unheard by Langdon and by Sayre,
had not set the bunch of whiskers on his restless nose twitching, and
sent him scurrying off over the moss.
The sound was no sound to human ears; Langdon heard it not; Sayre,
drowsy in the scented heat, dozed behind his rock.
A shadow fell across the moss; then another; two slim shapes moved
stealthily among the trees across the brook.
For ten minutes the foremost figure stood looking at Langdon.
Occasionally she used an opera glass, which, from time to time, she
passed back over her shoulder to her companion.
Ethra, she whispered at last, he seems to be practically
I'm wondering about those puttees, dearshanks in puttees are
Those are exquisite calves, said Amourette sadly. I'm sure
they'll measure up to regulation. And his chest seems up to proof.
What beautiful eyebrows, murmured Ethra.
But Amourette found no pleasure in them, nor in the golden-brown
hair, nor the bloom of youth and perfect health pervading their
unconscious quarry. Perhaps she was thinking of a certain near-sighted,
thin-haired young manand how she had slammed the gate of the wire
fence in his faceafter their first kiss.
She drew a deep, painful breath and lifted her head resolutely.
I suppose I'd better begin to stalk him, Ethra, she said.
Yes; he's a very good specimen. Be careful, dear. Strike a circle
and come up behind him. When you're ready, mew like a cat-bird and I'll
let him catch a glimpse of me. And as soon as he begins toto rubber,
she said, with a haughty glance at the unconscious angler, steal up
and net him, and I'll come across and help tie him up.
Amourette sighed, standing there irresolute. Then she straightened
her drooping shoulders, seized her net very firmly, and, with infinite
caution, began to stalk her quarry.
Once the stalking had fairly begun, the girl became absorbed in the
game. All memory of Sayre, if there indeed had been any to make her
falter in her purpose, now departed. She was a huntress pure and
simple, silent, furtive, adroit, intent upon her quarry. There came a
kind of fierceness into her concentration; the joy of the chase
thrilled her as she crept noiselessly through the woods, describing a
circle, crossing the stream far above the sleepy fisherman, gliding,
stealing nearer, nearer, until at length she stood in the thicket
For a moment she waited silently, freeing her net and gathering it
in her right hand ready for a deadly cast. Then, pursing up her red
lips, she mewed like a cat-bird, three times.
Instantly, across the stream, she saw Ethra step out of the willows
into plain view; saw Langdon wake up, stare, get up, and regard the
beautiful vision across the stream with concentrated and delighted
Then Amourette stole swiftly forward over the moss, swinging the
heavy silken net in her right hand, closer, closer. Suddenly the net
whistled in the air, glistened, lengthened, and fell, enmeshing
Langdon; and, at the same instant something behind her whistled and
fell slap; and she found herself struggling in the folds of an enormous
Ethra! Help! she cried, terrified, trying to keep her balance in
the web which enveloped her, striving to tear a way free through the
meshes; but she was only wrapped up the tighter; two brutal masculine
arms lifted her, held her cradled and entangled, freed the handle from
the net, and bore her swiftly away.
Darling, whispered William Sayre, d-don't kick.
You! she gasped, struggling frantically.
The real thing, dearest of women! The old-fashioned, original cave
man. Will you come quietly? There's a license bureau in the next
village. Or shall I be obliged to keep right on carrying you?
Oh, oh, oh! she sobbed; what disgrace! what humiliation;
what shame! Oh, Ethra! Ethra! What in the world am I to do?
That's where the mistake arose, said William gently; you
don't have to do anythingexcept put both arms around my neck andbe
careful not to knock off my glasses.
Glasses! Ethra! Ethra! Where are you? Don't you see what is
becoming of me? Youyou had b-better hurry, too, she added with a
sob, because the man who is carrying me off is the man I told you
about. Ethra! Where are you?
A convenient echo replied in similar terms. Meanwhile Sayre was
walking faster and faster through the woods.
For a while she lay motionless and silent, cradled in his arms. And
after a long, long time she tried feebly to adjust the disordered
ondulations on her hair.
Then a very small, still voice said:
She seemed to recognise this as her name.
Mr. Sayre, w-what are you going to do with me?
That is up to you, darling.
Against my will?
That also is up to you.
Andand my inclination?
No, not against that, Amourette.
Do you dare believe I love you?
I should worry.
Do you know you are hurting me, physically, spiritually, mentally?
I suppose I am.
Do you realise that you are a brute?
I sure do. We're all of us a little in that line, Amourette.
After a long silence she turned her face so that it rested against
his shouldernestled closer, and lay very still.
ALL over the United States conditions were becoming terrible,
hundreds and hundreds of thousands of militant women, wives, widows,
matrons, maidens, and stenographers had gone on strike. Non-intercourse
with man was to be the punishment for any longer withholding the
franchise; husbands, fathers, uncles, fiancés, bachelors, and authors
held frantic mass meetings to determine what course to pursue in the
imminence of rapidly impending industrial, political, and social
But, although men's sufferings threatened to be frightful; although
for months now nobody of the gentler sex had condescended to pay them
the slightest attention; although their wives replied to them only with
monosyllables and scornful smiles, and their sweethearts were never at
home to them, let it be remembered to their eternal credit that not one
thought of surrender ever entered their limited minds.
And so it was with young Langdon, who was left in a condition
neither dignified nor picturesquea martyr to friendship and a victim
to his own rather frivolous idea of practical humour.
Hopelessly entangled in the net which enveloped him from head to
foot, he flopped about among the dead leaves on the bank of the stream,
struggling and kicking like a fly in a cobweb. This he considered
The lithe figure across the brook continued to view his gyrations
with mingled emotions.
She was a boyish young thing with a full-lipped, sensitive mouth,
eyes like bluish-black velvet, and clipped hair of a dull gold colour
that curled thickly all over a small and beautifully shaped head in
little burnished boucles d'orwhich description ought to hold
the reader for a while.
She wore gray wool kilts, riding breeches laced in about the knee,
suede puttees and tan shoes; and she carried a Russian game pouch
beautifully embroidered across her right shoulder.
For a minute or two she watched the entangled young man, eyes still
wide with the excitement of the chase, full delicate lips softly
parted; and her intent and earnest face reflected modest triumph
charmingly modified by an involuntary sympathythe natural tribute of
a generous sportswoman to the quarry successfully stalked and bagged.
Cautiously, now, but without hesitation she advanced to the edge of
the stream, picked her way cleverly across it on the stones, and,
leaping lightly to the bank, stood looking down at Langdon, who had
ceased his contortions and now lay flat on his back, gazing skyward, a
grin on his otherwise attractive countenance.
He smiled up at her through the meshes of the net when he
encountered her curious eyes, expecting immediate release.
There was no answering smile from her as she coolly examined his
symmetrical features and perfect physical proportions through the folds
of the net.
No, there could be no longer any doubt in her mind that this young
man was what the New Race University required for breeding purposes.
No such specimen as this could hope to escape instant marriage. Here
were features so mathematically flawless that they became practically
featureless; here was bodily balance so ideal that the ultimate
standards of Greek perfection seemed lop-sided in comparison. No, there
could be no doubt about it; this young man was certainly required for
the purpose of scientific propagation; willy-nilly he was destined to
be one of the ancestors of that future and god-like race which must,
one day, people the earth to replace the bigoted and degenerate
population which at present encumbered it.
She regarded him without the slightest personal interest now. His
symmetry wearied her profoundly.
When are you going to let me out? he asked cheerfully.
She looked at him almost insolently under slightly lifted brows.
Presently, she said; and began to fumble in her satchel. In a few
moments she produced two bottles, a roll of antiseptic cotton, and a
Will you come with me voluntarily? she inquired, stepping nearer
and looking down at him, or must I use force?
He might have been humorously willing to go; he really desired to
see this amusing adventure to the finish. But man resents coercion.
Force? he repeated.
Exactly, she replied, displaying her pocket pharmacy.
What are those things you have in your hand? he asked, trying to
Chloroform and a hypodermic needle. If you do not wish to come with
me voluntarily you may take your choice.
He laughed long and loud and derisively.
That's ridiculous, he said. Be kind enough to undo this net. I
might have been willing to go with you and look 'em overyour friends,
you know; but I don't care for your idea of humour.
Your reply is typically man-like and tyrannical. For centuries man
has enjoyed and abused the option of doing what he pleased. Now men are
going to do what we please, whether or not it suits them.
So I've understood, he said, laughing; but this revolt has been
on for a year and I haven't noticed any men doing what they did not
wish to do.
We have four who are doing it. They are in training for their
honeymoons. You are to be the fifth to begin training, she said
He laughed again derisively, and lay watching her. She walked up
close beside him and seated herself on the rock marked Votes for
I suppose, she said, tauntingly, that you were rather astonished
to wake up from your fishing nap, and find yourself she considered
the effect of her words, gazing at him insolently from under slightly
lowered lashesfind yourself all balled up in a fish net.
He only grinned at her.
What are you laughing at? she demanded, unsmiling.
Lying here flat on my back, I am smiling at Woman! at every
individual woman on earth! at this ridiculous feminine uprising, this
suffragette revolutionat your National Female Federation Committee;
the thousands of local unions; this strike of your entire sex; this
general boycott of my sex! What has it accomplished? He tried to wave
You parade and make speeches in the streets, throw bricks, slap the
faces of a few State Congressmen, and finally proclaim a general strike
And what's the result? All social functions and ceremonies are
suspended; caterers, florists, confectioners, cabmen, ruined; theatres,
restaurants, department stores, novelists, milliners, in financial
throes; a falling off of over eighty per cent. in marriages and
birthsand you are no nearer a vote than you were before the great
strike paralysed the business of this Republic.
The young lady had been growing pinker and pinker.
Oh! . . . And is that why you are laughing? she asked.
Yes. It's the funniest strike that ever happened to a
serious-minded sex. Because you know your sex, as a sex, is a trifle
destitute of a sense of humour
That expression, she cut in with bitter satisfaction, definitely
determines your intellectual and social limits, Mr. Langdon. You
are what you appear to beone of those dreary bothers whose stock
phrase is 'a sense of humour'the kind of young man who has acquired a
florid imitation of cultivation, a sort of near-polish; the type of
person who uses the word 'brainy' for 'capable,' and 'mentality' for
'intelligence'; the dreadful kind of person who speaks of a subject as
'meaty' instead of properly employing the words 'substance' or
'material'; the sort of
Langdon, red and wrathful, sat up on the ground, peering at her
through the enveloping net.
Never in my life, he said, have I been spoken to in such terms of
feminine contempt. Stop it! Can't you appreciate a joke?
Mr. Langdon, the day is past when women will either countenance or
take part in any disrespectful witticisms, slurs, or jests at the
expense of their own sex. Onceand that not very long agothey did
it. Comic papers made my sex the subject of cartoons and witticisms;
the stage dared to spread the contemptible misinformation; women either
smiled or remained indifferent. The impression became general and fixed
that women were gallinaceous, that a hen-like philosophy characterised
the sex; that they were, at best, second-rate humans, tagging rather
gratefully at the heels of the Lords of Creation, unconcerned with the
greater and vital questions of the world.
Now your sex has discovered its mistake. After countless centuries
of intellectual and physical bondage Woman has calmly risen to assert
herselfnot as the peer of man, but as his superior!
What! exclaimed Langdon, angrily.
Certainly. Since prehistoric times man has attempted to govern and
shape the destinies of all things living on this earth. He has made of
his reign a miserable fizzle. It is our turn now to try our hands.
And so, at last, woman steps forward, tipping the symbols of
despotic powersceptre and crownfrom the nerveless hand and
dishonoured brow of her recent lord and master! And down he goes under
her feetwhere he belongs.
Langdon, unable to endure such language, attempted to sit up, but
the net interfered and he lay clawing at the meshes while the girl
The human race, as it is at present, is a disgrace to the world it
inhabits. We women have now decided to repeople the earth
scientifically with a race as wholesome in body as our instruction
shall render it in mind. Those among us women who are adjudged
physically and mentally perfect for this great and sacred work have
pledged ourselves to the sacrificepro bono publico.
We shall pick out, from your degenerate sex, such physically
perfect individuals as chance to remain; we shall regard our marriages
with them as purely scientific and cold-blooded affairs; we have begun,
for the purposes of re-populating the world by capturing four
symmetrical young men. You are the fifth. The Regents of the New Race
University will select for you several girls who, theoretically, are
best qualified to become the mothers of your
Stop! shouted Langdon, tearing violently at the net. I don't want
you to talk that way to me!
You know perfectly well, he retorted, blushing vividly. I won't
What a slave to prudery and smug convention you are, she observed
with amused contempt. Nobody in the University is going to shock your
Well, what are they going to do?
Turn you loose in the preserve after the Regents have inspected
Oh, I suppose two or three girls will be selected.
To do w-what?
To pay you marked attention.
Attention. Two or three girls will begin to court you.
Oh, the usual wayby sending you flowers and books and bon-bons,
and asking permission to call on you in your cave, she said
There was an embarrassed pause, then:
Will you be one of thosethose aspirants to my hand? he
She said indifferently: I hope not. I'm sure I don't desire to be
the mother of
Stop! I tell you to stop conversing on such topics! he yelled,
struggling and squirming and finally rolling over, all fours in the
I want to get up! he shouted. My position is undignified!
Anybody'd think I was a prize animal. I don't like this poultry talk!
I'm a man! I'm no bench-winner. And if ever I marry and
p-p-produce p-p-progeny, it will be somebody I select, not
somebody who selects me!
The girl looked at him sternly.
No, she said. For centuries man has mated from sentiment and
filled the earth with mental and physical degeneracy. Now woman steps
in. It is her turn. And she flings aside precedent, prejudice, and
sentimentfor the good of the human race! and joining hands with
Science marches forward inexorably toward the millennium!
The girl was so earnest, so naïve, so emotionally stirred by the
picture evoked that she enacted in pretty gestures the allegory of
womanhood trampling upon sentimental emotion and turning toward Science
with arms outstretched.
Langdon, who had managed to sit up, regarded her with terrified
Would you be amiable enough to remove this net? he asked,
I shall take you before the Board of Regents of the New Race
University. They will assign you a cave.
This joke has gone far enough, he said. Please take off this
No. I am going to show the Regents what I caught.
But, my poor child, he said, I am not what I seem. The joke is
entirely on womanpoor, derided, deluded, down-trodden, humourless
woman! Why, all this symmetry of mineall these endearing young
He hesitated, looked at her, reflected, wavered. She was so
prettysomehow he didn't want to tell her. He felt furtively of his
rubber chest improver, his flexible pneumatic calves, his golden brown
wig, his pencilled brows, silky moustache, and carefully fashioned
rosebud mouth. . . . A sudden and curious distaste for confessing to
her that all the beauties were unreal came over him.
Meanwhile, paying him no further attention for the moment, she was
trying hard to uncork the bottle of chloroform.
When she succeeded, she soaked the roll of antiseptic cotton, folded
it in a handkerchief, and re-corked the bottle. Then, eyeing him
coldly, holding the saturated handkerchief with one hand, her pretty
nose with the other, she said with nasal difficulty:
Dow, Bister Lagdod, bake up your bind dot to struggle
Are you actually going to do it? he asked, incredulously.
I ab! she replied firmly.
Nonsense! You are not accustomed to give chloroform!
Do; but I've read up od the subject
What! he exclaimed, horrified. Look out what you're doing, child!
Don't you dare try that on me!
I've got to, she insisted. Please dod bake be dervous or we bay
have ad accidend
Take that stuff away! he yelled. You'll give me too much and then
I won't wake up at all!
I'll be as careful as I cad, she promised him. Dow be still
But this is monstrous! he retorted, flopping about in the leaves
like a stranded fish and frantically endeavouring to dodge the wet and
Let go of my nose! Help! Hehehahhum! bz-z-z-z and he
suddenly relaxed and fell back a limp, loose-limbed mass among the
Pale and resolute the girl knelt beside him, freed him from the net,
and, bending nearer, gazed earnestly into his unconscious features.
Still gazing, she drew a postman's whistle from her satchel, set it to
her lips, and was about to summon the student on duty at the distant
gate to help bring in the quarry, when something about the features of
the recumbent young man arrested her attention.
The postman's whistle fell from her pretty lips; her startled eyes
widened as she bent closer to examine the perfections which had
captivated her from a scientific standpoint.
At that instant consciousness began to return; he gave a sudden
spasmodic and comprehensive flop; there was a report like a pistol. His
chest improver had exploded.
Terrified, trembling, she dropped on her knees beside him; never
before had she heard of a young man being blown to pieces by
chloroform. Then, almost hysterical, she ran to the stream, filled her
leather satchel with water, and, running back again, emptied it upon
his upturned countenance.
Horror on horror! His golden brown hairhis very scalp seemed to be
parting from his foreheadeyebrows, silky moustache, lipshis entire
face seemed to be coming off; and, as she shrieked and tottered to her
feet, he began to sputter and kick so violently that both pneumatic
calves blew up like the reports of a double-barreled shotgun.
And Ethra reeled back against a tree and cowered there, covering her
shocked eyes with shaking fingers.
IT is a surprising and trying moment for a girl who throws water
upon a young man's face to see that face begin to dissolve and come
off, feature by feature, in polychromatic splendour.
She did not faint; her intellect reeled for a moment; then she
dropped her hands from her eyes and saw him sitting up on the ground,
blinking at her gravely from a streaked and gaudy countenance. His wig
was tilted over one eye; rouge and pearl powder made his cheeks and
chin very gay; and his handsome, silky moustache hung by one corner
from his upper lip. It was too much. She sat down limply on a mossy log
His senses returned gradually; after a while he got up and walked
down to the edge of the brook with all the dignity that unsteady legs
Fascinated, she watched him at his ablutions where he squatted by
the water's edge, scrubbing away as industriously as a washer-racoon.
It did not occur to her to flee; curiosity dominatedan overpowering
desire to see what he really resembled in puris naturalibus.
After a while he stood up, hurled the damp wig into the woods, wiped
his hands on his knickerbockers and his face on his sleeve, and,
bending over, examined his collapsed calves.
And all the while, as the fumes of the chloroform disappeared and he
began to realise what had been done to him, he was becoming madder and
She recognised the wrath in his face as he swung on his heel and
came toward her.
It is your own fault! she said, resolutely, for playing a silly
trick like But she observed his advance very dubiously,
straightening up to her full slender height to confront him, but not
rising to her feet. Her knees were still very shaky.
He halted close in front of her. Something in the interrogative yet
fearless beauty of her upward gaze checked the torrent of indignant
eloquence under which he was labouring, and, presently, left him even
mentally mute, his lips parted stupidly.
She said: According to the old order of things a well-bred man
would ask my pardon. But a decently-bred man, in the first place,
wouldn't have done such a thing to me. So your apology would only be a
What! he exclaimed, stung into protest. Am I to understand that
after netting me and chloroforming me and nearly drowning me
My mistake was perfectly natural. Do you suppose that I would even
dream of trailing you as you really are?
He gazed at her bewildered; passed his unsteady hand over his
countenance, then sat down abruptly beside her on the mossy log and
buried his head in his hands.
She looked at him haughtily, sitting up very straight; he continued
beside her in silence, face in his hands as though overwhelmed. Nothing
was said for several minutesuntil the clear disdain of her gaze
changed, imperceptibly; and the rigidity of her spinal column relaxed.
I am very sorry this has happened, she said. There was, however,
no sympathy in her tone. He made no movement to speak.
I am sorry, she repeated after a moment. It is hard to suffer
Yes, he said, it is.
But you deserved it.
How? I didn't fashion my face and figure.
She mistook him: Somebody did.
Yes; my parents.
Oh, I don't mean that silly make-up, he said, raising his head.
What do you mean?
I mean my own face and figure. What you did to meyour netting me,
doping me, and all that wasn't a patch on what you said afterward.
What do you mean? What did I say?
You asked me if I supposed that you would dream of netting a man
with a face and f-figure like
You did! And can any man suffer any humiliation to compare with
words like those? I merely ask you.
With eyes dilated, breath coming quickly, she stared at him,
scarcely yet comprehending the blow which her words had dealt to one of
the lords of creation.
Mr. Langdon, she said, do you suppose that I am the sort of girl
to deliberately criticise either your features or your figure?
But you did.
I merely meant that you should infer
I inferred it all right, he said bitterly.
Perplexed, not knowing how to encounter such an unexpected reproach,
vaguely distressed by it, she instinctively attempted to clear herself.
Please listen. I hadn't any idea of mortifying you by explaining
that you are not qualified by nature to interest the modern woman
He turned a bright red.
Do you suppose such a condemnationsuch a total ostracismis
agreeable to a man? . . . Is there anything worse you can say about a
man than to inform him that no woman could possibly take the slightest
interest in him?
I didn't say that. I said the modern woman
You're all modern.
It is reported that there are still a few women sufficiently
They don't interest me. He looked up at her. What you've
said hassimplyand completelyspoiledmy life, he said slowly.
What I said?
What havewhat couldwhat Ihowwherewho is and she
checked herself, eyes on his.
Yes, he repeated with a curious sort of satisfaction, you have
spoiled my entire life for me.
What an utterlywhat a wildly absurd and impossible
And you know it! he insisted, with gloomy triumph.
That you've spoiled
Stop! Will you explain to me how
Is it necessary?
Necessary? Of course it is! You have made a most grave and serious
andand heartless charge against a woman
Yes, a heartless oneagainst you!
Cold, deliberate, cruel, unfeeling, merciless, remorseless
Didn't you practically tell me that no woman could endure the sight
of a face and figure like mine?
No, I did not. What aa cruel accusation!
What did you mean, then?
Thatthat you are not exactlyqualified toto become an ancestor
of the physically perfect race which
What is wrong with me, then?
She looked at him helplessly. What do you mean?
I mean where am I below proof? Where am I lacking? What points
count me out?
Her sensitive underlip began to tremble.
II don't want to criticise you she faltered.
Please do. I beg of you. There are beauty doctors in town, he
added earnestly. They can fix up a fellowand I can go to a
gymnasium, and take up deep-breathing and
But, Mr. Langdon, do you want toto becaptured
He looked into her bright and melting eyes.
Yes, he said. I'd like to give you another chance at me.
Me? After what I did to you?
Why, what a perfectly astonishing
Not very. Look me over and tell me what points count against me. I
know I'm not good-looking, but I'd like to go into training for the
Mr. Langdon, she said slowly, surely you would not care to
develop the featureless symmetry and thethe monotonous perfection
Yes, I would. I wish to become superficially monotonous. I'm too
varied; I realise that. I want to resemble that make-up I wore
That! Goodness! What a horrid idea
Horrid? Didn't you like it well enough to net me?
Ithere was nothing expressive of my personal taste in my
capturing youI mean the kind of a man you appeared to be. It was my
dutya purely scientific matter
I don't care what it was. You went after me. You wouldn't go after
me as I now appear. I want you to tell me what is lacking in me which
would prevent you going after me againfrom a purely scientific
She sat breathing irregularly, rather rapidly, pretty head bent,
apparently considering her hands, which lay idly in her lap. Then she
lifted her blue eyes and inspected him. And it was curious, too, that,
now when she came to examine him, she did not seem to discover any
My nose doesn't suit you, does it? he asked candidly.
Why, yes, she said innocently, it suits me.
That's funny, he reflected. How about my ears?
They seem to be all right, she admitted.
Do you think so?
They seem to me to be perfectly good ears.
That's odd. What is there queer about my face?
She looked in vain for imperfections.
Why, do you know, Mr. Langdon, I don't seem to notice anything that
is not entirely and agreeably classical.
Butmy legs are thin.
Aren't they too thin?
Not too thin. . . . Perhaps you might ride a bicycle for a
I will! he exclaimed with a boyish enthusiasm which lighted up his
face so attractively that she found it fascinating to watch.
Do you know, she said slowly, the chances are that I would have
netted you anyway. It just occurred to me.
Without my make-up? he asked, in delighted surprise.
I think so. Why not? she replied, looking at him with growing
interest. I don't see anything the matter with you.
My chest improver exploded, he ventured, being naturally honest.
I don't think you require it.
Don't you? That is the nicest thing you ever said to me.
It's only the truth, she said, flushing a trifle in her intense
interest. And, as far as your legs are concerned, I really do not
believe you need a bicycle or anything else. . . . In factin fact
I don't see why you shouldn't go with me to the University ifif
Mr. Langdon! Wh-what a perfectly odd thing to s-say to me!
I didn't mean it, he said with enthusiasm; I really didn't mean
it. What I meant wasyou knowdon't you?
She did not reply. She was absorbed in contemplating one small
I'm all ready to go, he ventured.
She said nothing.
She looked up, looked into his youthful eyes. After a moment she
rose, a trifle pale. And he followed beside her through the sun-lit
AT the gate of the New Race University and Masculine Beauty Preserve
the pretty gate-keeper on duty looked at Langdon, then at his fair
captor, in unfeigned astonishment.
Why, Ethra! she said, is that all you've brought home?
Did you think I was going to net a dozen? asked Ethra Leslie,
warmly. Please unlock the gate. Mr. Langdon is tired and hungry, and I
want the Regents to finish with him quickly so that he can have some
The gate-keeper, a distractingly pretty red-haired girl, regarded
Langdon with dubious hazel eyes.
He'll never pass the examination, she whispered to Ethra. What on
earth are you thinking of?
What are you thinking of, Marcella? You must be perfectly
blind not to see that he complies with every possible requisite! The
Regents' inspection is bound to be only a brief formality. Be good
enough to unbar the gates.
Marcella slowly drew the massive bolts; hostile criticism was in the
gaze with which she swept Langdon.
Well, of all the insignificant looking young men, she murmured to
herself as Ethra and her acquisition walked away along the path, side
THE collective and individual charms of the Board of Regents so
utterly over-powered Langdon that he scarcely realised what was
happening to him.
First, at their request, he sat cross-legged on the ground; and they
walked round and round him, inspecting him. Under such conditions no
man could be at his best; there was a silly expression on his otherwise
attractive face, which, as their attitude toward him seemed to waver
between indifference and disapproval, became unconsciously appealing.
Kindly rise, Mr. Langdon, said Miss Challis, chairman of the
Langdon got up, and his ears turned red with a sudden and burning
Please walk past us two or three times, varying your speed.
He walked in the various styles to which he had been accustomed,
changing speed at intervals and running the entire gamut between a
graceful boulevard saunter and a lost-dog sprint.
Now, said the beautiful chairman, be good enough to run past us
He complied and they studied his kangaroo-like action. Miss Vining
even bent over and felt of his ankles doubtfully, and to his vivid
confusion Miss Darrell strolled up, made him sit down on a log, placed
one soft, white finger on his mouth, and, opening it coolly, examined
the interior. Then they drew together, consulting in whispers, then
Miss Challis came with a stethoscope and listened to his pneumatic
machinery, while Miss Vining carelessly pinched his biceps and tried
his reflexes. After which Miss Darrell pushed a thermometer into his
mouth, measured his pulses and blood pressure, tested his sight and
hearing and his sense of smell. The latter was intensely keen, as he
was very hungry.
Then Miss Challis came and stood behind him and examined,
phrenologically, the bumps on his head, while Miss Vining, seated at
his feet, read his palm, and Miss Darrell produced a dream book and a
pack of cards, and carefully cast his horoscope. But, except that it
transpired that he was going to take a journey, that somebody was going
to leave him money, and that a dark lady was coming over the sea to
trouble him, nothing particularly exciting was discovered concerning
Miss Challis, relinquishing his head, produced a crystal and gazed
into it. She did not say what she saw there. Miss Vining tried to
hypnotise him and came near hypnotising herself. Which scared and
irritated her; and she let him very carefully alone after that.
And all the while Ethra sat on a tree stump, hands tightly clasped
in her lap, looking on with pathetic eagerness and timidly searching
the pretty faces of the Board of Regents for any hopeful signs.
Presently the Board retired to a neighbouring cave to confer; and
Langdon drew a deep breath of relief.
Well, he said, smiling at Ethra, what do you think?
It will be horrid of them if they don't award you a blue ribbon,
Good heavens! he faltered, do they give ribbons?
Certainly, first, second, third, and honourable mention. It is the
scientific and proper method of classification.
Fury empurpled his visage.
That's the limit! he shouted, but she silenced him with a gesture,
nodding her head toward the surrounding woods; and among the trees he
caught sight of scores and scores of pretty girls furtively observing
Don't let them see you display any temper or you'll lose their good
will, Mr. Langdon. Please recollect that there is no sentiment in this
proceeding; it is a scientific matter to be scientifically
recordedpurely a matter of eugenics.
Langdon gazed around him at the distant and charming faces peeping
at him from behind trees and bushes. Everywhere bright eyes met his
mischievously, gaily. An immense sense of happiness began to invade
him. The enraptured and fatuous smile on his features now became almost
idiotic as here and there, among the trees, he caught glimpses of still
more young girls strolling about, arms interlacing one another's
waists. The prospect dazzled him; his wits spun like a humming top.
Areare many ladies likely to come andand court me? he asked
timidly of Ethra.
A quick little pang shot through her; but she said with a forced
smile: Why do you ask? Are you a coquette, Mr. Langdon?
Oh, no! But, for example, I wouldn't mind being rushed by that
willowy blonde over there. I'd also like to meet the svelte one with
store puffs and sorrel hair. She is a looker, isn't she?
She is certainly very pretty, said Ethra, biting her lips with
He gazed entranced at the distant throng for a while.
And that little grey-eyed rompthe very young and slim one, he
continued enthusiastically. Me for a hammock with her in the
goosy-goosy moonlight. . . . And I hope I'm going to meet a lot
moreevery one of 'em. . . . What on earth is that? he
exclaimed, changing countenance and leaning forward. By Jinks, it's a
Certainly. There are four men here. You knew that.
I forgot, he said, glowering at the unwelcome sight of his own
Ethra said: Oh, yes, there are those first four men we caughtMr.
Willett, Mr. Carrick, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Green. She added carelessly:
I have been paying rather marked attention to Alphonso W. Green.
To whom? he asked, with a disagreeable sensation drenching out the
sparks of joy in his bosom.
To Alphonso W. Green. . . . And I've jollied De Lancy Smith with
bon-bons a bit, too. They are having a lot of attention paid themand
they're rather spoiled. But, of course, any girl can marry any one of
them if she really wants to.
Langdon gazed miserably at her; she seemed to be pleasantly immersed
in her own reflections and paid no further heed to him. Then he cast a
scowling glance in the direction of the young man who was gathering
wild flowers and arranging them in a little basket.
Ethra, he beganand stopped short under the sudden and unexpected
unfriendliness of her glance. Miss Leslie, he resumed, reddening, I
wouldn't have come here unless I thoughthopedbelievedthat you
would pay me m-m-marked
Men do not assume the initiative here. They make no advances; they
wait until a girl pays them attentions so unmistakable that
Well, I did come here because of you! he blurted out
That is an exceedingly indelicate avowal! she retorted. If the
Regents hear you talk that way you won't be permitted to receive any
He gazed at her, bewildered; she stood a moment frowning and looking
in the direction of the cave whither the Board of Regents had retired.
They're calling me, she exclaimed as a figure appeared at the cave
entrance and beckoned her.
I won't be long, Mr. Langdon. I am perfectly confident that you
have passed the inspection! And she walked swiftly across to the edge
of the thicket where the three Regents stood outside their cave.
As she came up one of them put her arm around her.
My poor child, she said, that man will never do.
W-what! faltered the girl, turning pale.
Why, no. How in the world could you make such a mistake?
Ethra looked piteously from one to another.
What is the matter with him? she asked. I can't see anything the
matter with him. If his legs are a triflerefined in contoura
bicycle will help
But, Ethra, this is not a hospital, dear. This is not a sanitarium.
We don't want any imperfect living creature inside this preserve.
W-w-what is your decision? asked the girl; and her underlip began
to quiver, but she controlled it.
The first vote, said Miss Challis, was for his instant eviction,
Miss Vining dissenting. The second vote was for his expulsion with the
privilege of taking another examination in three monthsMiss Darrell
I think he's the limit, said Miss Darrell.
Why, Jessica! exclaimed Ethra, swallowing a sob.
The next vote, continued Betty Challis, was whether he might not
remain here a day or two for closer observation. Jessica hasn't voted
yet, but Phyllis Vining and I are willing
Oh, Jessica! pleaded Ethra, catching her hands and pressing them
to her own breast, II beg you will let him remainif only for a few
days! Please, please, dear. I know his calves will grow if
scientifically massaged; and if he is hygienically fed he will
Miss Darrell looked curiously at her; under her hands the girl's
heart was beating wildly.
Well, then, Betty, she said to Miss Challis, I vote we keep him
under observation for a day or two. Give him the yellow ribbon. And,
bending, she kissed Ethra lightly on the lips, whispering:
I'm afraid we won't be able to keep him, dear. But if you'd like to
have a little fun with him and jolly him along, whywhy, I was a flirt
myself in the old days of the old regime.
That is all I want, said Ethra, dimpling with delight. I want to
see how far I can go with him just for the fun of it.
Miss Darrell smiled tenderly at the girl and strolled off to join
the other Regents; and Ethra, her thoughtful eyes fixed on Langdon,
came slowly back, the yellow ribbon trailing in her hand.
Langdon leaped to his feet to meet her, gazing delightedly at the
I qualified, of course! he said joyously. When is it customary to
begin the courting?
You haven't qualified, said the girl, watching the effect of her
words on the young man. This is merely the probation ribbon.
An immense astonishment silenced him. She drew the big
orange-coloured ribbon through his button-hole, tied it into a bow,
patted it out into flamboyant smartness, and, stepping back, gazed at
him without any particular expression in her dark blue eyes.
Then, then I may be chased away at any moment? he asked
I am afraid so.
Thunderstruck, he stared at her: What on earth are we to do? he
You and I?
How does it concern me? asked the girl coldly.
She looked him calmly in the eye and shook her head.
No, Mr. Langdon. However, as you are to remain here for a day or
two under observation, no doubt you will receive some
Ethra! Isn't it possible that you might learn to care
Hush! That is no way to talk!
Wellwell, I can't wait for you to
You must wait! You have nothing to say about such things
until some girl asks you. And that isn't very likely. Those four
perfectly handsome young men have been here for weeks now, and,
although they have received lots of attention, not one girl has yet
made any of them an actual declaration. The girls here are having too
good a time to do anything more serious than a little fussingjust
enough to frisk a kiss now and then and keep the men amused
That is monstrous! said Langdon, very red. When a man's
really in love
Nonsense! Men are flirtsevery one of them!
She laughed, made him a little gesture of adieu, refused to let him
follow her, and coolly sauntered off among the trees, heedless of his
remonstrances at being left to himself.
He watched her until she disappeared, then, with misgivings, walked
toward a tennis court, where the four men were playing a rather
dawdling and indifferent game and keeping a lively eye out for the
advent of some girl.
They appeared to be rather good-looking fellows, not in any way
extraordinary, remarkable neither for symmetry of feature nor of limb.
Langdon stood at the edge of the court looking at them and secretly
comparing their beauty with such charms as he was shyly inclined to
attribute to himself. There could be no doubt that he compared
favourably with them. If he was some, they were not so much.
One, a tall young fellow with blond, closely clipped hair, nodded
pleasantly to him, and presently came over to speak to him.
I suppose you are a new recruit. Glad to see you. We're all anxious
to have enough men captured to get up two ball nines. My name is
Mine is Curtis Langdon.
Come over and meet the others, said Willett pleasantly.
Langdon followed him, and was presently on excellent terms with
James Carrick, De Lancy Smith, and Alphonso W. Green, amiable, clean
cut, everyday young fellows.
To them he related the circumstances of his capture, and they all
laughed heartily. Then he told them that he was here merely on
probation for a day or two, naïvely displaying the yellow ribbon.
Willett laughed. Oh, that's all right. They usually say that. We
all came in on probation; the Regents couldn't agree, and some girl
always swings the deciding vote as a special favour to herself.
You don't think they'll kick me out?
Not much! laughed Willett. First of all, your captor would
objectnot necessarily for sentimental reasons, but because she caught
you; you are hers, her game; she says to herself: 'A poor thing, but
mine own!' and hangs to you like grim death. Besides, no woman ever
lets any man loose voluntarily. And women haven't changed radically,
Mr. Langdon. Don't worry; you can stay, all right.
Here comes Betty Challis, said Carrick, glancing at Alphonso W.
Green. It's you for a stroll, I guess.
Mr. Green looked conscious; more conscious still when the pretty
Miss Challis strolled up, presented him with a bouquet, and stood for a
few moments conversing with everybody, perfectly at her ease. Other
girls came up and engaged the young men in lively conversation.
Presently Miss Challis made a play for hers:
Would you care to canoe, Mr. Green? she asked casually, turning to
him with a slight blush which she could not control.
Green blushed, too, and consented in a low voice.
As they were departing, Miss Vining rode up on horseback, leading
another horse, which De Lancy Smith, at her request, nimbly mounted;
and away they galloped down a cool forest road, everybody looking after
Miss Darrell cut out and roped Willett presently and took him to
walk in the direction of a pretty cascade.
A charming girl, a Miss Trenor, arrived with a hammock, book, and
bon-bons, and led Carrick away somewhere by virtue of a previous
agreement, and the remaining girls pretended not to care, and strolled
serenely off in pretty bunches, leaving Langdon standing, first on one
foot, then on the other, waiting to be spoken to.
Abandoned, he wandered about the tennis court, kicking the balls
moodily. Tiring of this, he sat down under a tree and twirled his
Once or twice some slender figure passed, glancing brightly at him,
and he looked as shyly receptive as he could, but to no purpose. Gloom
settled over him; hunger tormented him; he gazed disconsolately at the
yellow ribbon in his button-hole, and twiddled his thumbs.
And all the while, from the shadow of a distant cave, Ethra was
watching him with great content. She knew he was hungry; she let him
remain so. By absent treatment she was reducing him to a proper frame
The word had been passed that he was Ethra's quarry; mischievous
bright eyes glanced at him, but no lips unclosed to speak to him;
little feet strolled near him, even lingered a moment, but trotted on.
His sentiments varied from apathy to pathos, from self-pity to
mortification, from hungry despair to an indignation no longer
He had enough of itplenty. Anger overwhelmed him; hunger smothered
sentiment; he rose in wrath and stalked off toward a girl who was
strolling along, reading a treatise on eugenics.
Will you be good enough to tell me how to get out? he asked.
Out? she repeated. Have you a pass to go out?
No, I haven't. Where do I obtain one?
Only the girl who captured you can give you a pass, she said,
Very well; where can I find her?
Who was it netted you?
A Miss Leslie, he snapped.
Oh! Ethra Leslie's cave is over in those rocks, said the girl,
among those leafy ledges.
Thanks, he said briefly, and marched off, scowling.
Ethra saw him coming, and his stride and expression scared her. Not
knowing exactly what to do, and not anticipating such a frame of mind
in him, she turned over in her hammock and pretended to be asleep, as
his figure loomed up in the mouth of the cave.
Miss Leslie! His voice was stentorian.
She awoke languidly, and did it very well, making a charming picture
as she sat up in her hammock, a trifle confused, sweet blue eyes
scarcely yet unclosed.
Mr. Langdon! she exclaimed in soft surprise.
He looked her squarely, menacingly, in the eyes.
I suppose, he said, that all this is a grim parody on the past
when women did the waiting until it was men's pleasure to make the next
move. I suppose that my recent appraisement parallels the social
inspection of a debutantethat my present hunger is paying for the
wistful intellectual starvation to which men once doomed your sex; that
my isolation represents the isolation from all that was vital in the
times when women's opportunities were few and restricted; that my
probation among you symbolises the toleration of my sex for whatever
specimen of your sex they captured and set their mark on as belonging
to them, and on view to the world during good behaviour.
He stared at her flushed face, thoughtfully.
The allegory is all right, he said, but you've cast the wrong man
for the goat. I'm going.
Y-you can't go, she stammered, colouring painfully, unless I give
you a pass.
I see; it resembles divorce. My sex had to give yours a cause for
escape, or you couldn't escape. And in here you must give me a pass to
freedom, or I remain here and starve. Is that it?
She crimsoned to her hair, but said nothing.
Give me that pass, he said.
If I do every girl here will gossip
I don't care what they say. I'm going.
She sat very still in the hammock, eyes vacant, chin on hand,
considering. It was not turning out as she had planned. She had starved
him too long.
Mr. Langdon, she said in a low voice, if it is only because you
I'm not; I'm past mere hunger. You disciplined me because I took a
human and natural interest in the pretty inhabitants of this new world.
And I told you that I never would have entered it except for
you. But you made me pay for a perfectly harmless and happy curiosity.
Well, I've starved and paid. Now I want to go. . . . Either I go or
there'll be something doingbecause I won't remain here and go hungry
S-somethingdoing? she faltered.
Exactly. With the first
You can go if you wish, she said, flushing scarlet and springing
out of the hammock.
He waited, jaws set, while she seated herself at a table and wrote
out the pass.
Thank you, he said, in such a rage that he could scarcely control
She may not have heard him; she sat rigid at the table, looking very
hard into spacesat motionless as he took a curt leave of her, never
turning her headlistened to his tread as he strode off through the
ferns, then laid her brow between snowy hands which matched the face
that trembled in them.
As for him, he swung away along the path by which he had come,
unstrung by turns, by turns violently desiring her unhappiness, and
again anticipating approaching freedom with reckless satisfaction.
Then a strange buoyancy came over him as he arrived in sight of the
gate, where the red-haired girl sat on a camp stool, yawning and
knitting a silk necktiefor eventualities, perhaps; perhaps for
herself, Lord knows. She lifted her grey eyes as he came swinging
updeep, clear, grey eyes that met his and presently seemed ready to
answer his. So his eyes asked; and, after a long interval, came the
reply, as though she had unconsciously been waiting a long, long while
for the question.
I suppose you will wish to keep this, he said in a low voice,
offering her the pass. You will probably desire to preserve it under
lock and key.
She rose to her slender height, took it in her childish hands,
hesitated, then, looking up at him, slowly tore the pass to fragments
and loosed them from her palm into the current of the south wind
That does not matter, she said, if you are going to love me.
There was a moment's silence, then she held out her left hand. He
took it; with her right hand, standing on tiptoe, she reached up and
unbarred the gates. And they passed out together into the infernal
splendour of the sunset forest.
THE riots in London culminated in an episode so cataclysmic that it
sobered the civilised world. Young Lord Marque, replying to a question
in the House of Lords, said: As long as the British peerage can summon
muscular vigour sufficient to keep a monocle in its eye and extract
satisfaction from a cigarette, no human woman in the British Empire
shall ever cast a bally ballot for any bally purpose whatever. What!
And the House of Lords rose to its wavering legs and cheered him
with an enthusiasm almost loud enough to be heard above ordinary
But that unwise and youthful and masculine defiance was the young
man's swan-song. A male suffragette rushed with the news to Miss
Pondora Bottomly; Lord Marque was followed as he left the house; and
that very afternoon he was observed fleeing in a series of startled and
graceful bounds through Regent Park, closely pursued by several ladies
of birth, maturity, and fashion carrying solid silver hair-brushes.
The Queen, chronicling the somewhat intimate and exclusive
affair a week later, mentioned that: Among those present was the
lovely Lady Diana Guernsey wearing tweeds, leather spats, and waving a
Directoire Banner embroidered with the popular device, 'Votes for
Women,' in bright yellow and bottle green on an old rose ground; and
that she had far outdistanced the aged Marchioness of Dingledell, Lady
Spatterdash, the Hon. Miss Mousely, the Duchess of Rolinstone, Baroness
Mosscroppe, and others; and that, when last seen, she and the Earl of
Marque were headed westward. A week later no news of either pursuer or
pursued having been received, considerable uneasiness was manifested in
court and suffragette circles, and it was freely rumoured that Lady
Guernsey had made a rather rash but thoroughly characteristic vow that
she would never relinquish the trail until she had forced Lord Marque
to eat his own words, written in frosting upon a plum cake of her own
Marque may have heard of this vow, and perhaps entertained lively
doubts concerning Lady Diana's abilities as a pastry cook. At any rate,
he kept straight on westward in a series of kangaroo-like leaps until
darkness mercifully blotted out the picture.
Remaining in hiding under a hedge long enough to realise that London
was extremely unsafe for him, he decided to continue west as far as the
United States, consoling himself with the certainty that his creditors
would have forced his emigration anyway before very long, and that he
might as well take the present opportunity to pick out his dollar
princess while in exile.
But circumstances altered his views; the great popular feminine
upheaval in America was now in full swing; the eugenic principle had
been declared; all human infirmity and degenerate imperfections were to
be abolished through marriages based no longer upon sentiment and
personal inclination, but upon the scientific selection of mates for
the purpose of establishing the ideally flawless human race.
This was a pretty bad business for Lord Marque. The day after his
arrival he was a witness of the suffragette riots when the Mayor, the
Governor, and every symmetrical city, county, and State official was
captured and led blushing to the marriage license bureau. He had seen
the terrible panic in Long Acre, where thousands of handsome young men
were being chased in every direction by beautiful and swift-footed
suffragettes. From his window in the Hotel Astor he had gazed with
horror upon this bachelors' St. Bartholomew, and, distracted, had
retired under his bed for the balance of the evening, almost losing
consciousness when a bell-hop knocked at his door with a supply of
Only one thought comforted him; the ocean rolled majestically
between the Lady Diana, her pastry, and the last of the house of
Never should that terrible and athletic young woman discover his
whereabouts if he had to remain away from London forever; never, never
would he eat that pastry!
As he lay under his bed, stroking his short moustache and
occasionally sneezing, he remembered with a shudder his flight from
those solid silver hair-brushes through Regent's Park; he recalled how,
behind him, long after the heavier feminine aristocracy had given up
the chase, one youthful, fleet, supple, and fearsome girl had hung to
his traila tall, lithe, incarnation of her goddess namesake.
She had been too far away for him to distinguish her features; only
in Liverpool, where one dark night he ventured out to buy a copy of the
Queen and eagerly read the details of the function, did he learn
the name of his closest pursuer.
Later, furtively haunting the smoking room on the Caramania,
he learned from the gossip there of Lady Diana's vow that she would
never rest until Lord Marque had eaten her plum cake with its frosted
inscriptionthis inscription consisting of the flippant words of his
own rash speech delivered in the upper house of Parliament.
Now, lying on his back under the bed, while outside in Long Acre the
dreadful work was going on, he lighted a cigarette and pondered the
situation. He didn't believe that Lady Diana would attempt to trail him
to America. That was one comfort. But, in view of the suffragette
disturbances going on outside his windows, he saw little prospect of a
dollar princess for the present. Meanwhile, how was he to exist?
The vague and British convictions concerning the rapid accumulation
of wealth on a ranch of any kind comforted Marque. He also believed
And three months later he had managed to survive a personal
acquaintance with the following episodes:
First, one large revolver bullet through hat with request to answer
affably when addressed by white men.
Second, one infuriated cow.
Third, one indigestion incubated by cumulative series of pie and
complicated by attentions from one large centipede.
Fourth, one contusion from a Montana boot with suggestion concerning
Fifth, one 45-70 Winchester projectile severing string of monocle,
accompanied by laughter and Navajo blanket.
Sixth, comprehensive corporal casualties incident upon international
altercation concerning relative importance of Guy Fawkes and July 4th.
Seventh, physical debility due to excessive local popularity
following personal encounter with one rustler.
Eighth, complete prostration in consequence of frequent attempts to
render thanks for toasts offered him at banquet in celebration of his
impending departure for the East.
Ninth, general collapse following bump of coal and forcible ejection
from freight train near Albany, New York.
THE duties of young Lord Marque, the new man on the Willett estate
at Caranay, left him at leisure only after six o'clock, his day being
almost entirely occupied in driving a large lawn mower.
Life, for John Marqueas he now called himselfhad become
exquisitely simple; eating, sleeping, driving a lawn mowerthese three
manly sports so entirely occupied the twenty-four hours that he had
scarcely time to do much weedingand no time at all to sympathise with
himself because he was too busy by day and too sleepy at night.
Sundays he might have taken off for the purpose of condoling with
himself, had it not been for the new telephone operator.
She was a recent incumbent at the railroad stationa tall,
clear-skinned, yellow-haired girl of twenty-five who sat at her desk
all day saying in a low, prettily modulated voice,
hellohellohellohello to unseen creatures of whom John Marque
Three things concerning her he had noticed: She wore pink gingham;
she never seemed to see him when he came down to the little sunburnt
platform and seated himself on the edge, feet dangling over the rails;
he had never seen her except when she was seated at the pine table
which was ornamented by her instrument and switchboard. She had a
bed-room and kitchen in the rear. But he never saw her go into them or
emerge; never saw her except seated at her switchboard, either reading
or sewing, or, with the silvery and Greek-like band encircling her hair
and supporting the receiver close to her small ears, repeating in her
low, modulated voice: hellohellohellohello.
He wondered how tall she might be. He had never seen her standing or
walking. He wondered what her direct gaze might be like. Only her
profile had he yet behelda sweet, youthful, profile nobly outlined
under the gold of her hair; but under the partly lowered lashes as she
sat sewing or reading or summoning centrals from the vast expanses of
North America, he divined eyes of a soft lilac-blue. And he chewed his
pipe-stem and kicked his feet and thought about them.
Few trains stopped at Caranay except for water; the station, an
old-time farm house of small dimensions, overlooking the track and
Willow Brook, contained ticket office, telephone, and telegraph in
oneall presided over by the telephone operator. Sometimes as many as
two people in a week bought railroad tickets; sometimes a month would
pass without anybody either sending or receiving a telegram. Telephone
calls were a little more frequent.
So the girl had little to do there at her sunny open window, where
mignonette and heliotrope and nasturtiums bloomed in pots, and the big
bumble bees came buzzing and plundering the little window garden. And,
except on Sundays, Marque had little leisure to observe her, although
in the long late June evenings it was still light at eight o'clock, and
he had, without understanding how or why, formed the habit of coming
down to the deserted station platform to smoke his pipe and sometimes
to fish in the shallow waters of Willow Brook, and watch the ripples
turn from gold to purple, and listen to a certain bird that sat singing
every day at sunset on the tip of a fir-balsam across the streama
black and white bird with a rosy pink chest.
So lovely the evening song of this bird that Marque, often watching
the girl askance, wondered that the surprising beauty of the melody
never caused her to lift her head from book or sewing, or even rise
from the table and come out to the doorway to listen.
But she never did; and whether or not the bird's singing appealed to
her, he could not determine.
Nobody in the little gossiping hamlet of Caranay seemed to know more
than her name; he himself knew only a few peoplemen who, like
himself, worked on the Willett place with hoe and rake and spraying
cart and barrowcomrades of roller and mower and weed-fork and
mole-trapdull-witted cullers of dandelion and rose-beetle. And mostly
their names were Hiram.
These had their own kind in the female line to go withCaranay
being far from the metropolis, and as yet untroubled by the spreading
feminine revolution. Only stray echoes of the doings had as yet
penetrated to Caranay daisy fields; no untoward consequences had as yet
ensued except that old Si Dinglebat's wife, after reading the remains
of a New York paper found on the railroad track, had suddenly, and
apparently in a fit of mental aberration, attacked Si with a mop,
accompanying the onslaught with the reiterated inquiry: Air wimmen to
hev their rights?
That was the only manifestation of the welt-weh in Caranaythat and
the other welt on Si's dome-like and knobby forehead.
He encountered Marque that evening after supper as that young man,
in clean blue jeans, carrying a fish-pole and smoking his pipe, was
wandering in circles preparatory to a drift in the general direction of
the railroad station.
Evenin', neighbour! he said.
Good evening, said the young man.
Goin' sparkin'? inquired Si, overflowing with natural curiosity
Be you goin' a-sparkin'?
Nonsense! said Marque, reddening. I don't know any girls in
Waal, I cal'late you know that gal down to the depot, don't ye?
No, I don't.
Hey? I'm a leetle deef.
No! shouted Marque, I don't.
Don't know her, dammit!
Aw, quit yer cussin', said Si, with a gummy wink. Folks has been
talkin' ever since the fustest time you set onto that there platform
and that Eden gal fooled ye with her lookin' glass.
What are you talking about? said Marque impatiently.
Issy Eden and her pretendin' not to see nobodyan' her a lookin'
into the leetle glass behind her table and a seein' of ye all the time!
I know she kin see because she ketched Hi Orville's boy a-hookin'
apples outen the bar'l that
You mean she is able to see anybody on the platform, said
Marque, confused and astounded.
You bet she kin. I know because I peeked in the winder an' I seen
her a-lookin' at you when you was fishin'
But the young fellow had recovered himself: All right, he
interrupted; that isn't your business or mine. Who gave you that crack
on the lid?
By gum, he said, Hetty done it. I was that took! Forty year, and
she ain't never throwed s'much as a dish pan at me. I wa'n't lookin'
for no sech thing at my time o' life, young man. So when I come in to
wash up for supper, I sez to my woman, 'Hello, Het,' sez I, an' she up
an' screeched an' fetched me a clip.
'Lord a'mighty!' sez I. 'Look out what ye doin',' sez I. 'Air
wimmen to hev their rights?' sez she, makin' for me some more. 'Is
wimmen to be free?' she sez.
'Yew bet,' sez I, grabbin' onto her. 'I'll make free with ye,' sez
I. An' I up an' tuk an' spanked Hettythe first time in forty year,
young man! An' it done her good, I guess, for she ain't never cooked
like she cooked supper to-night. God a'mighty, what biscuits them was!
Marque listened indifferently, scarcely following the details of the
domestic episode because his mind was full of the girl at the station
and the amazing discovery that all these days she could have seen him
perfectly well at any moment if she had chosen to take the trouble,
without moving more than her dark, silky lashes. Had she ever taken
that trouble? He did not know, of course. He would like to have known.
He nodded absently to the hero of the welt-weh clash, and, pipe in
one hand, pole in the other, walked slowly down the road, crossed the
track, and seated himself on the platform's edge.
She was at her desk, reading. And the young man felt himself turning
red as he realised that, if she had chosen, she could have seen him
sitting here every evening with his eyes fixedyes, sentimentally
fixed upon the back of her head and her pretty white neck and the
lovely contour of her delicately curved cheek.
All by himself he sat there and blushed, head lowered, apparently
fussing with his line and hook and trying to keep his eyes off her,
without much success.
His angling methods were simple; he crossed the grass-grown track,
set his pole in position, and returned to seat himself on the
platform's edge, where he could see his floating cork andher. Then,
as usual, he relapsed into meditation.
If only just once she had ever betrayed the slightest knowledge of
his presence in her vicinity he might, little by little, cautiously,
and by degrees, have ventured to speak to her.
But she never had evinced the slightest shadow of interest in
anything as far as he had noticed.
Now, as he sat there, the burnt out pipe between his teeth, watching
alternately his rod and his divinity, the rose-breasted grosbeak began
to sing in the pink light of sunset. Clear, pure, sweet, the song rang
joyously from the tip of the balsam's silver-green spire. He rested his
head on one hand and listened.
The song of this bird, the odour of heliotrope, the ruddy sunlight
netting the ripplesthese, for him, must forever suggest her.
He had curious fancies about her and himself. He knew that, if she
ever did turn and look at him out of those lilac-tinted eyes, he must
fall in love with her, irrevocably. He admitted to himself that already
he was in love with all he could see of herthe white neck and dull
gold hair, the fair cheek's curve, the glimpse of her hand as she
deliberately turned a page in the book she was reading.
But that evening passed as had the others; night came; she lowered
her curtain; a faint tracery of lamplight glimmered around the edges;
and, as always, he lighted his pipe and took his fish, and shouldered
his pole and went home to die the little death we call sleep until the
sun of toil should glitter above the eastern hills once more.
A few days later he decided to make an ass of himself, having been
sent with a wagon to Moss Centre, a neighbouring metropolis.
First he sent a telegram to himself at Caranay, signing it William
Smith. Then he went to the drug store telephone, and called up Caranay.
Hello! What number, please? came a far, sweet voice; and Marque
trembled: No number. I want to speak to Mr. MarqueMr. John Marque.
He isn't here.
Are you sure?
Perfectly. I saw him driving one of Mr. Willett's wagons across the
track this morning.
Oh, that's too bad. Could Imight Iask a little information of
What sort of a fellow is this John Marque? He doesn't amount to
much I understand.
What do you mean?
Well, I might want to employ him, but I don't believe he is the
sort of man to trust
You are mistaken! she said crisply.
You mean he is all right?
Unquestionably! she said indignantly.
Are you sure?
How do you know?
I have means of information which I am not at liberty to disclose.
Who is this speaking?
William Smith of Minnow Hollow.
Are you going to take Mr. Marque to Minnow Hollow?
You can't. Mr. Willett employs him.
Suppose I offer him better wages
He is perfectly satisfied here.
No! Mr. Marque does not care to leave Caranay.
I am sorry. It is useless to even suggest it to him. Good-bye!
With cheeks flushed and a slightly worried expression she resumed
her sewing through the golden stillness of the afternoon. Now and then
the clank of wagon wheels crossing the metals caused her to glance
swiftly into her mirror to see what was going on behind her. And at
last she saw Marque drive up, cross the track, then, giving the reins
to the boy who sat beside him, turn and walk directly toward the
station. And her heart gave a bound.
For the first time he came directly to her window; she saw and heard
him, knew he was waiting behind the mignonette and heliotrope, and went
on serenely sewing.
She waited another momenttime enough to place her sewing leisurely
on the table. Then, very slowly she turned in her chair and looked at
him out of her dark lilac-hued eyes.
He heard himself saying, as in a dream:
Is there a telegram for me?
And, as her delicate lifted brows questioned him:
I am John Marque, he said.
She picked up the telegram which lay on her table and handed it to
Thank you, he said. After he had gone she realised that she had
WHENEVER he went to Moss Centre with the wagon he telephoned and
telegraphed to himself, and about a month after he had begun this idiot
performance he ventured to speak to her.
It occurred late in July, just before sunset. He had placed his rod,
lighted his pipe, and seated himself on the platform's edge, when, all
of a sudden, and without any apparent reason, a dizzy sort of
recklessness seized him, and he got up and walked over to her window.
Good evening, he said.
She looked around leisurely.
Good evening, she said in a low voice.
I was wondering, he went on, scared almost to death, whether you
would mind if I spoke to you?
After a few seconds she said:
Well? Have you decided?
Badly frightened, he managed to find voice enough to express his
Why did you care to speak to me? she asked.
Iweyou and he stuck fast.
Had you anything to say to me? she asked in a lowerand he
thought a gentlervoice.
I've a lot to say to you, he said, finding his voice again.
Really? What about?
He looked at her so appealingly, so miserably, that the faintest
possible smile touched her lips.
Can I do anything for you, Mr. Marque?
Ifif you'd only let me speak to you
But I am letting you.
I meanto-morrow, too
To-morrow? To-morrow is a very, very long way off. It is somewhere
beyond those eastern hillsbut a very, very long way off!as far as
the East is from the West. No; I know nothing about to-morrow, so how
can I promise anything to anybody?
Will your promise cover to-day?
Yes. . . . The sun has nearly set, Mr. Marque.
Then perhaps when to-morrow is to-day you will be able to
Perhaps. Have you caught any fish?
After a moment he said: How did you know I was fishing? You didn't
turn to look.
She said coolly: How did you know I didn't?
You never do.
She said nothing.
At her window, elbows on the sill, the blossoms in her window-box
brushing his sunburnt face, he stood, legs crossed, pipe in hand, the
sunset wind stirring the curly hair at his temples.
Did you hear the bird this evening? he asked.
Yes. Isn't he a perfect darling!
Her sudden unbending was so gracious, so sweet that, bewildered, he
remained silent for a while, recovering his breath. And finally:
I never knew whether or not you noticed his singing, he said.
How could you suppose any woman indifferent to such music? she
asked indignantly. She was beginning to realise how her silence had
starved her all these months, and the sheer happiness of speech was
exciting her. Into her face came a faint glow like a reflection from
the pink clouds above the West.
That little bird, she said, sings me awake every morning. I can
hear his happy, delicious song above the rushing chorus of dawn from
every thicket. He dominates the cheery confusion by the clear,
crystalline purity of his voice.
It scarcely surprised him to find himself conversing with a
cultivated womanscarcely found it unexpected that, in her, speech
matched beauty, making for him a charming and slightly bewildering
Her slim hands lay in her lap sometimes; sometimes, restless, they
touched her bright hair or caressed the polished instruments on the
table before her. But, happy miracle! her face and body remained turned
toward him where he stood leaning on her window-sill.
There is a fish nibbling your hook, I think, she said.
He regarded his bobbing cork vaguely, then went across the track and
secured the plump perch. At intervals during their conversation he
caught three more.
Now, she said, I think I had better say good-night.
Would you let me give you my fish?
She replied, hesitating: I will let you give me two if you really
Will you bring a pan?
No, she said hastily; just leave them under my window when you
Neither spoke again for a few moments, until he said with an effort:
I have wanted to talk to you ever since I first saw you. Do you
mind my saying so?
She shook her head uncertainly.
He lingered a moment longer, then took his leave. Far away into the
dusk she watched him until the trees across the bridge hid him. Then
the faint smile died on her lips and in her eyes; her mouth drooped a
little; she rested one hand on the table, rose with a slight effort,
and lowered the shade. Listening intently, and hearing no sound, she
bent over and groped on the floor for something. Then she straightened
herself to her full height and, leaning on her rubber-tipped cane,
walked to the door.
HE came every day; and every day, at sundown, she sat sewing by the
window behind her heliotrope and mignonette waiting.
Sometimes he caught perch and dace and chub, and she accepted half,
never more. Sometimes he caught nothing; and then her clear, humorous
eyes bantered him, and sometimes she even rallied him. For it had come
to pass in these sunset moments that she was learning to permit herself
a friendliness and a confidence for him which was very pleasant to her
while it lasted, but, after he had gone, left her with soft lips
drooping and gaze remote.
Because matters with her, with them both, she feared, were not
tending in the right direction. It was not well for her to see him
every daywell enough for him, perhaps, but not for her.
Some daysome sunset evening, with the West flecked gold and the
zenith stained with pink, and the pink-throated bird singing of
Paradise, and the brook talking in golden tones to its pebblessome
such moment at the end of day she would end all of their days for them
bothall of their days for all time.
But not just yet; she had been silent so long, waiting, hoping,
trusting, biding her time, that to her his voice and her own at
eventide was a happiness yet too new to destroy.
That evening, as he stood at her window, the barrier of mignonette
fragrant between them, he said rather abruptly:
Are you ill?
No, she said startled.
Oh, I am relieved.
Why did you ask?
Because every Tuesday I have seen the doctor from Moss Centre come
In flushed silence she turned to her table and, folding her hands,
gazed steadily at nothing.
Marque looked at her, then looked away. The big, handsome young
physician from Moss Centre had been worrying him for a long while now,
but he repeated, half to himself: I am very much relieved. I was
becoming a little anxioushe came so regularly.
He is a friend, she said, not looking at him.
He forced a smile. Well, then, there is no reason for me to worry
There never was any reasonwas there?
No, no reason.
You don't say it cheerfully, Mr. Marque. You speak as though it
might have been a pleasure for you to worry over my general health and
I think of little else, he said.
There was a silence. Between them, along the barrier of heliotrope
and mignonette, the little dusk moths came hovering on misty wings; the
sun had set, but the zenith was bright crimson. Perhaps it was the
reflection from that high radiance that seemed to tint her face with a
She looked out into the West across the stream, thinking now that
for them both the end of things was drawing very near. And, to meet
fate half way with serenitynay, to greet destiny while still far off,
with a smile, she unconsciously straightened in her chair and lifted
her proud little head.
Lord Marque, she said quietly, why do you not go back to
For a moment what she had said held no meaning for him. Then
comprehension smote him like lightning; and, thunderstruck, he remained
as he was without moving a muscle, still resting against her
window-sill, his lean, sun-browned face illuminated under the zenith's
Who are you? he said, under his breath.
Only an English girl who happened to have seen you in London.
She turned deliberately and, resting one arm across the back of her
chair, looked him steadily in the eyes.
I am twenty-five. Since I was twenty your face has been familiar to
They exchanged a long and intent gaze.
I never before saw you, he said.
Who can know what a fashionable young man really looks atthrough
I don't wear it any more. I lost it out West, he said, reddening.
You lost your top hat once, too, she said.
He grew red as fire.
So you've heard of that, too?
I saw it.
You! Saw me attacked? he demanded angrily, while the shame burnt
hotter on his cheeks.
Yes. You ran like the devil.
For a moment he remained mute and furious; then shrugged: What was
I to do?
Run, she admitted. It was the only way.
He managed to smile. And you were a witness to that?
She nodded, eyes remote, her teeth nipping at the velvet of her
underlip. He, too, remained lost in gloomy retrospection for a while,
but finally looked up with a more genuine smile.
I wonder whatever became of that fleet-footed girl who hung to my
heels long after the more solidly constructed aristocracy gave up?
Lady Diana Guernsey?
That's the one. What became of her?
Why do you ask?
Because she gave me the run of my life. She was a good sport, that
girl. I couldn't shake her off; I took to a taxi and she after me in
another; my taxi broke down in the suburbs and I started across
country, she after me. And the last I saw of her was just after I
leaped a hedge and she was coming over it after mea wonderful
athletic young figure in midair silhouetted against the sky line. . . .
That was the last I saw of her. I fancy she must have pulled up dead
beator perhaps she came a cropper.
She did, said the girl in a low voice.
Is that so? he said, interested. Hope it didn't damage her.
She broke her thigh.
Oh, that's too bad! he exclaimed. If I'd guessed any such thing
I'd have come back. . . . The poor little thing! I mean that, though
she was nearly six feet, I seem to think of her as littleand, of
course, I'm sixtwo and a half. . . . Good little sport, that Diana
girl! She got over it all right, I hope.
It lamed her for life, Lord Marque.
Shocked, for a moment he could find no words to characterise his
Oh, dammitall! I say, it's a rotten shame, isn't it? And all on
account of methat superb young thing taking hedges like a hunter! Oh,
come now, you know Iit hurts me all the way through. I wish I'd let
her catch me! What would she have done to me? I wouldn't mind being
pulled about a bitor anythingif it would have prevented her injury.
By gad, you know, I'd even have eaten her plum cake, frosting and all,
to have saved her such a fate.
The girl's eyes searched his. That was not the most tragic part of
it, Lord Marque.
God bless us! Was there anything more?
Yes. . . . She was in love with you.
Withwith me? he repeated, bewildered.
Yes. As a young, romantic girl she fell in love with you. She was a
curious childlike all the Guernseys, a strange mixture of impulse and
constancy, of romance and determination. If she had fallen in love with
Satan she would have remained constant. But she only fell in love with
young Marque. . . . And she loves him to this day.
Thatthat's utterly impossible! he stammered. Didn't she become
a suffragette and carry a banner and chase me and vow to make me eat my
own words frosted on a terrible plum cake?
Yes. And all the while she went on loving you.
How do you know? he demanded, incredulously.
She confided in me.
I knew her well, Lord Marque. . . . Not as well as I thought I did,
perhaps; yet, perhaps better thanmanyperhaps better than anybody. .
. . We were brought up together.
You were her governess?
Iattempted to act in a similar capacity. . . . She was difficult
to teachvery, very difficult to govern. . . . I am afraid I did not
do my best with her.
Why did you leave her to come here? he asked.
She made no reply.
Where is she now?
She looked out into the cinders of the West, making no answer.
He gazed at her in silence for a long time; then:
Is she really lame?
It is hip disease.
Butbut that can be cured! he exclaimed. It is now perfectly
curable. Why doesn't she go to Vienna or to New York
She is going.
She ought to lose no time!
She is going. She only learned the nature of her trouble very
You mean she has been lame all this time and didn't know what
She wastoo busy to ask. Finally, because she did not get well,
she called in a physician. But she is a very determined girl; she
refused to believe what the physician told heruntilvery
See here, he said, are you in constant communication with her?
Then tell her you know me. Tell her how terribly sorry I am.
Telltell her that I'll do anything tototell her, he burst out
excitedly, that I'll eat her plum cake if that will do her any
goodor amuse heror anything! Tell her to bake it and frost it and
fill it full of glue, for all I careand express it to you; and I'll
eat every crumb of that silly speech I made
Wait! she exclaimed. Do you realise what you're saying? Do you
realise what you're offering to do for a girla lame girlwho is
already in love with you?
His youthful face fell.
By gad, he said, do you think I ought to marry her? How on earth
can I when I'mI'm dead in love withsomebody myself?
Youin love? she said faintly.
He gazed across the brook at the darkening foliage.
Oh, yes, he said with a pleasant sort of hopelessness, but I
fancy she cares for another man.
W-why do you think so?
He comes to see her.
Is that a reason?
She won't talk about him.
When a woman won't talk about a man is it always because she cares
for him in that way?
They had lifted their heads now, facing each other in the violet
dusk. Between them the scent of heliotrope grew sweeter. He said:
I've been all kinds of a fool. For all I know women have as many
rights on earth as men have. All I wish is that the plucky girl who
took that hedge, banner in hand, were well and happy and married to a
really decent fellow.
Butshe loves you.
And Ihe looked up, encountering her blue eyesam already
hopelessly in love. What shall I do?
She said under her breath: God knows. . . . I can not blame you for
not wishing to marry a lame girl
It isn't that!
But you wouldn't anyhow
I would if I loved her!
You couldn'tlove aa cripple! It would not be love; it
would be pity
He said slowly: I wish that you were that lame girl. Then
you'd understand me.
For a while she sat bolt upright, clasped hands tightening in her
lap. Then, turning slowly toward him, she said:
I am going to say good-night. . . . And thank youfor Diana's
sake. . . . And I am going to say moreI am going to say good-bye.
Good-bye! Where are you going?
To New York.
Before I see you again.
There is no train until
I shall drive to Moss Centre.
Where thatthat doctor lives
Yes. I am going to New York with him, Lord Marque.
He stood as though stunned for a moment; then set his teeth,
clenched his hands, and pulled himself together.
I think I understand, he said quietly. AndI wish
She stretched out her hand to him above the heliotrope.
Iwish itto you suddenly her voice broke; again her teeth
caught at her underlip like a child who struggles with emotion. You
don't understand, she said. Wait a little while before youcome
After a moment she made a slight effort to disengage her
handanotherthen turned in her chair and dropped her head on the
table, her right hand still remaining in his. Presently he released it;
and she placed both hands on the edge of the table and her forehead
I am coming in, he said.
She straightened up swiftly at his words.
Please don't! she said in a startled voice, still tremulous.
But he was gone from the dark window, and, frightened, she bent
over, caught up her walking stick, and took one impulsive step toward
the door. And stood stock still in the middle of the floor as he
His eyes met hers, fell on the supporting cane; and she covered her
face with her left arm, standing there motionless.
Good God! he breathed. You!
She began to cry like a child.
I didn't want you to know, she wailed. Oh, I didn't want you to
know. I thought there was no useno hopeuntil yesterday. . . .
Iwanted to go to New York with the doctor and be made all sound and
well again b-beforebefore I let you love me
Oh, DianaDiana! he whispered, with his arms around her. Oh,
DianaDianamy little girl Diana!
Which was silly enough, she being six feetalmost as tall as he.
Turn your back, she whispered. I want to go to my deskand I
can't bear to have you see me walk.
No, no, no! Please let them cure me first. . . . Turn your back.
He kissed her hands, held her at arm's length a second, then turned
on his heel and stood motionless.
He heard her move almost noiselessly away; heard a desk open and
close; heard the chair by the window move as she seated herself.
Come here, she said in a curious, choked voice.
He turned, went swiftly to her side.
Great heavens! he said. When did you bake that cake?
B-because I was going away to New York and would never perhaps see
you again unless I was entirely cured. And I meant to leave this for
youso you would know that I had followed you even hereso you would
know I had made a plucky try at youthrough all these months
D-do you really mean it?
Mean it! I tell you, Diana, you women put it all over the lords of
creationor any lord ever created! Mean it! You bet I do, sweetness!
I'll take back everything I ever said about women. They're the
real thing in the world! And the best thing for the world is to let
them run it!
Butdear she faltered, lifting her beautiful eyes to him, if
men are going to feel that way about it, we won't want to run
anything at all. . . . It was only because you wouldn't let us that we
He said in impassioned tones:
Let the bally world run itself, Diana. What do we careyou and I?
No, she said, we don't care now.
Then that rash and infatuated young man, losing his head entirely,
drew from his jeans a large jack-knife, and, before she could prevent
him, he had sliced off an enormous hunk of plum cake heavily frosted
with his own words.
Don't, dear! she begged him. I couldn't ask that of
I will! he said, and bit into it.
Don't! she begged him; please don't! I haven't had much
experience with pastry. It may give you dreadful dreams!
Let it! he said. What do I care for dreams while you remain real!
DianaDianahuntress of bigger game than ever fled through the age of
And he bolted a section of frosting and began to chew vigorously
upon another, while she slipped both hands into his, regarding him with
Have no fears for me, dearest, he said indistinctly; fortified by
months of pie I dread no food ever prepared by youth and beauty. Even
the secret dishes of the Medici
After allI don't cook so badly.
So, in the gloaming, he swallowed the last crumb and gathered her
into his strong young arms, and drew her golden head down close to his.
Take it from me, he whispered, relapsing into the noble idioms of
his adopted country, you're all to the mustard, Diana; your eats were
bully and I liked 'em fine!
THE situation in Great Britain was becoming deplorable; the Home
Secretary had been chased into the Serpentine; the Prime Minister and a
dozen members of Parliament had taken permanent refuge in the vaults of
the Bank of England; a vast army of suffragettes was parading the
streets of London, singing, cheering, and eating bon-bons. Statues,
monuments, palaces were defaced with the words Votes for Women, and
it was not an uncommon sight to see some handsome young man rushing
distractedly through Piccadilly pursued by scores of fleet-footed
suffragettes of the eugenic wing of their party, intent on his capture
for the purposes of scientific propagation.
No young man who conformed to the standard of masculine beauty set
by the eugenist suffragettes was safe any longer. Scientific marriage
between perfectly healthy people was now a firmly established principle
of the suffragette propaganda; they began to chase attractive young men
on sight with the avowed determination of marrying them to physically
qualified individuals of their own sex and party, irrespective of
social or educational suitability.
This had already entailed much hardship; the young Marquis of Putney
was chased through Cadogan Place, caught, taken away in a taxi, and
married willy-nilly to a big, handsome, strapping girl who sold
dumb-bells in the new American department store. No matter who the man
might be professionally and socially, if he was young and well-built
and athletic he was chased on sight and, if captured, married to some
wholesome and athletic young suffragette in spite of his piteous
We will found, cried Mrs. Blinkerly Dank-some-Hankly triumphantly,
a perfect human race and teach it the immortal principles of woman's
rights. So, if we can't persuade Parliament to come out for us, we'll
take Parliament by the slack of its degraded trousers, some day, and
throw it out!
This terrible menace delivered in Trafalgar Square was cabled to the
Outlook, which instantly issued its first extra; and New York,
already in the preliminary throes of a feminine revolution, went wild.
That day the handsome young Governor of New York, attended by his
ornamental young Military Secretary in full uniform, had arrived at the
Waldorf-Astoria to confer with the attractive young Mayor of the
metropolis concerning a bill to be introduced into the legislature,
permitting the franchise to women under certain conditions. And on the
same day a monster suffragette parade was scheduled.
Some provisions of the proposed measure, somehow or other, had
become known to the National Federation of Women; and as the Governor,
his Military Secretary, and the Mayor sat in earnest conference in a
private room at the Waldorf, the most terrible riot that New York ever
saw began on Fifth Avenue just as the head of the parade, led by the
suffragette band of 100 pieces, arrived at the hotel.
The Governor, Mayor, and Secretary rushed to the windows; acres of
banners waved wildly below; cheer after cheer rent the raw March
atmosphere; in every direction handsome young men were fleeing, pursued
by eugenists. Under their very windows the shocked politicians beheld
an exceedingly good-looking youth seized by several vigorous and
beautiful suffragettes, dragged into a taxi, and hurried away toward a
scientific marriage, kicking and struggling. This was nothing new,
alas. More than one attractive young man had already been followed and
spoken to in Manhattan.
Mr. Dill, president of the Board of Aldermen, and the handsomest
incumbent of the office that the city ever beheld, had been courted so
persistently that, fearful of being picked up, he remained in hiding
disguised as a Broadway fortune teller, where the Mayor came at
intervals to consult him on pretense of having his palms read.
But now the suffragettes threw off all restraint; men, frightened
and confused, were being not only spoken to on Fifth Avenue, but were
being seized and forcibly conducted in taxicabs toward the marriage
It was a very St. Bartholomew for bachelors.
John, said the Governor to his capable young Military Secretary,
take off that uniform. I'm going to flee in disguise.
What does your excellency expect me to flee indishabille?
stammered the Military Secretary.
I don't care what you flee in, said the Governor bluntly; but I
will not have it said that the Governor of the great State of New York
was seized by a dozen buxom eugenists and hurried away to become the
founder of a physically and politically perfect race of politicians.
Get out of those gold-laced jeans!
I'll flee disguised as a chambermaid, muttered the handsome,
rosy-cheeked young Mayor. And he rang for one.
While the Governor and his Secretary were exchanging clothes they
heard the Mayor in the hallway arguing with a large German chambermaid
in an earnest and fatherly manner, punctuated by coy screams from the
By and by he came back to the room, perspiring.
I bought her clothes, he said; she'll throw them over the
The clothing arrived presently by way of the transom; the Governor
and the Secretary tried to aid the Mayor to get into the various
sections of clothing, but as they all were bachelors and young they
naturally were not aware of the functions of the various objects
scattered over the floor.
The Governor picked up a bunch of curls attached to a cup-shaped
Good heavens! he said. The girl has scalped herself for your
I bought that, too, said the Mayor, sullenly. Do you know which
way it goes on, George?
They fixed it so that two curls fell down and dangled on either side
of his Honour's nose.
Meanwhile the unfortunate Military Secretary had dressed in the top
hat and cutaway of the Governor.
He said huskily, If I can't outrun them they'll catch me and try to
start raising statesmen.
It's your duty to defend me, observed the Governor.
Yes, with my life, but not with my p-progeny
Then you'd better run faster than you've ever run in all your
life, said the Governor coldly.
At that moment there came a telephone call.
Lady at the desk to speak to the Governor, came a voice.
Hello, who is it? asked his excellency coyly.
Professor Elizabeth Challis! came a very sweet but determined
At the terrible name of the new President of the National Federation
of American Women the Governor jumped with nervousness. Anonymous
letters had warned him that she was after him for eugenic purposes.
What do you want? he asked tremulously.
In the name of the Federation I demand that you instantly destroy
the draft of that infamous bill which you are preparing to rush through
I won't, said the Governor.
If you don't, she said, the committee on eugenics will seize
Let 'em catch me first, he replied, boldly; and rang off.
Now, John, he said briskly, as soon as they catch sight of you in
my top hat and cutaway they'll start for you. And I advise you to leg
it if you want to remain single.
The unfortunate Military Secretary gulped with fright, buttoned his
cutaway coat, crammed his top hat over his ears, and gazed fearfully
out of the window, where in the avenue below the riot was still in
lively progress. Terrified young men fled in every direction, pursued
by vigorous and youthful beauty, while the suffragette band played and
thousands of suffragettes cheered wildly.
Isn't it awful! groaned the Mayor, arranging the lace cap on his
turban-swirl and shaking out his skirts. The police are no use. The
suffragettes kidnap the good-looking ones. Are you ready for the
The Governor in the handsome uniform of his Military Secretary
adjusted his sword and put on the gold-laced cap. Then, thrusting the
draft of the obnoxious bill into the bosom of his tunic, he strode from
the room, followed by his Secretary and the unfortunate Mayor, who
attempted in vain to avoid treading on his own trailing skirts.
George, said the Mayor, spitting out a curl that kept persistently
getting into his mouth every time he opened it, I'll be in a pickle
unless I can reach Dill's rooms. . . . Wait! There's a pin sticking
Too late, said the Governor; it will spur you to run all the
faster. . . . Where is Dill's?
The Mayor whispered the directions, spitting out his curl at
intervals when it incommoded him; the Governor walked faster to escape.
Down in the elevator they went, gazed at by terror-stricken
bell-hops and scared porters.
As the cheering and band playing grew louder and more distinct the
Secretary quailed, but the Governor admonished him:
You've simply got to save me, he said. Pro bono
publico! Come on now. Make a dash for a taxi and the single life!
The next moment the Secretary's top hat was carried away by a brick;
the Mayor's turban-swirl went the same way, amid showers of confetti
and a yell of fury from a thousand suffragettes who saw in his piteous
attempt to disguise himself, by aid of a turban-swirl, an insult to
womanhood the world over.
A perfect blizzard of missiles rained on the terrified politicians;
the Secretary and the Mayor burst into a frantic canter up
Thirty-fourth Street, pursued by a thousand strikingly handsome women.
The Governor ran west.
THE Governor of the great State of New York was now running up
Broadway with his borrowed sword between his legs and his borrowed
uniform covered with confettifooting it as earnestly as though he
were running behind his ticket with New York County yet to hear from.
After him sped bricks, vegetables, spot-eggs, and several
exceedingly fashionable suffragettes, their perfectly gloved hands full
of horsewhips, banners, and farm produce.
But his excellency was now running strongly; one by one his eager
and beautiful pursuers gave up the chase and fell out, panting and
flushed from the exciting and exhilarating sport, until, at
Forty-second Street, only one fleet-footed young girl remained at his
The order of precedence then shifted as follows: First, the young
and handsome Governor running like a lost dog at a fair and clutching
the draft of the obnoxious bill to his gold-laced bosom; second, one
distractingly lovely young girl, big, wholesome-looking, athletic, and
pink of cheeks, swinging a ci-devant cat by the tail as menacingly as
David balanced the loaded sling; third, several agitated policemen
whistling and rapping for assistance; fourth, the hoi polloi of the Via
Blanca; fifth, a small polychromatic dog; sixth, the idle wind toying
carelessly with the dust and refuse and hats and skirts of all
[Illustration: Only one fleet-footed young girl remained at his
This municipal dust storm, mingling with the brooding metropolitan
gasoline fog, produced a sirocco of which no Libyan desert needed to be
ashamed; and it alternately blotted out and revealed the interesting
Marathonian procession, until one capricious and suffocating flurry,
full of whirling newspapers and derbies, completely blotted out the
Governor and the young lady at his heels.
And when, a moment later, the miniature tornado had subsided into a
series of playful sidewalk eddys, only the policemen, the hoi polloi,
and the dog were still going; the Governor and the beautiful
suffragette had completely disappeared.
They had, it is true, chosen a very good time and place for such an
occult performance; Long Acre at its busiest.
Several mounted policemen had now joined in the frantic festivities.
They galloped hurriedly in every direction. The crowd cheered and
pursued the police, the small dog barked in eddying circles till he
resembled an expiring pinwheel.
Meanwhile a curious thing had occurred; the youthful Governor was
now chasing the suffragette. It occurred abruptly, and in the following
No sooner had the dust cloud spread a momentary fog around the
radiant young manlike a hurricane eclipse of the sunthan he darted
into the narrow and dark hallway of an old-fashioned office building
devoted to theatrical agencies, all-night lawyers, and astrologists,
and started up the stairs. But his unaccustomed sword tripped him up,
and as he fell flat with a startling outcrash of accoutrements, there
came a flurry of delicately perfumed skirts, the type-written papers
were snatched from his gloved hands, and the perfumed skirts went
scurrying away through the dusky corridor which ought to have opened on
the next cross street. And didn't.
After her ran the Governor, now goaded to courage by the loss of his
papers, and she, finding herself in a cul-de-sac, turned at bay,
launched the cat at his head, and attempted to spring past him. But he
caught the whirling feline in one white-gloved hand and barred her way
with the other; and she turned once more in desperation to seek an
egress which did not exist.
A flight of precipitate and rickety stairs led upward into an
obscurity rendered deeper by a single gas jet burning low on the
Up this she sprang, two at a time, the young man at her heels; up,
up, passing floor after floor, until a dirty skylight overhead warned
her that the race was ending.
On the top corridor there was a door ajar; she sprang for it, opened
it, tried to slam and lock it behind her, then, exhausted, she shrank
backward into the room and sank into a red velvet chair, holding the
bunch of papers tightly to her heaving breast.
There was another chaira gilt one. Into it fell his excellency,
gasping, speechless, his spurred and booted legs trailing, his borrowed
uniform all over confetti and dust from his tumble on the stairs.
Minute after minute elapsed as they lay there, fighting for breath,
watching each other.
She was the first to stir; and instantly he dragged himself to his
feet, staggered over to the door, locked it, dropped the key into his
pocket, returned to his chair, and collapsed once more.
After a few moments he glanced down at the cat which he was still
clutching. A slight shiver passed over him, then, as he inspected it
more closely, over his features crept an ironical smile.
For the cat was not even a ci-devant cat; it had never been a cat;
it was only an imitation of a defunct one made out of floss and
chenille, like a teddy-bear; and he smiled at her scornfully and
dangled it by its black and white tail.
Pooh, he panted; I suppose even your bricks and vegetables and
eggs were cotillion favours full of confetti.
They were, she admitted defiantly. Which did not prevent their
serving their purposes.
Symbols? he retorted in derision.
Yes, symbols! The three most ancient symbols of an insulted
people's furythe egg, the turnip, and the cat.
Mala gallina, malum ovum, he laughed, adjusting his sword
and picking several streamers of confetti from his tunic. Did they
hurl spot-eggs in ancient Rome, fair maid?
They did; and catsex necessitate rei, she observed with
Ex nihilo felis fita cat-fit for nothing, he retorted,
Half disdainfully she straightened out the slight disorder of her
own apparel, still breathing fast, and keeping tight hold of the bundle
How soon are you going to let me have them? he asked
I can't permit you to leave this room until you hand them to me.
Then I shall never leave this room.
You certainly shall not leave it until I have those papers.
Then I'll remain here all my life! she said defiantly.
What do you expect to do when the people who live here return?
She shrugged her pretty shoulders, and presently cast an involuntary
and uneasy glance around the room.
It was not a place to reassure any girl; gilt stars were pasted all
over walls and ceilings, where also a tinsel sun and moon appeared. The
constellations were interspersed with bats.
The remaining decorations consisted of a cozy corner, some
pasteboard trophies, red cotton velvet hangings, several plaster casts
of human hands, and a frieze of half-burnt cigarettes along the
Are you going to give me those papers? he repeated, secretly
What do you expect to do with them?
Deliver them to Professor Elizabeth Challis, President of the
National Federation of Independent Women of America.
Is this a private enterprise of yours, he asked curiously, or
just aa playful impulse, or the militant fruition of a vast and
She smiled slightly.
I suppose you mean to be impertinent, but I shall not evade
answering you, Captain Jones. I am acting under orders.
Betty's? he inquired, flippantly.
The orders of Professor Elizabeth Challis, she said, with
Exactly. It is a conspiracy, then, complicated by riot,
assault, disorderly conduct, and highway robberyisn't it?
You may call it what you choose.
Oh, I'll leave that to the courts.
She said disdainfully: We recognize no laws in the making of which
we have had no part.
There's no use in discussing that, said the Governor blandly; but
I'd like to know what you suffragettes find so distasteful in that
proposed bill which the Mayor andand the Governor of New York have
It is reactionarya miserable subterfugea treacherous attempt to
return to the old order of things! A conspiracy to re-shackle,
re-enslave American womanhood with the sordid chains of domestic cares!
To drive her back into the kitchen, the laundry, the nurseryback into
the dark ages of dependence and acquiescence and non-resistanceback
into the degraded epochs of sentimental relations with the tyrant man!
She leaned forward in her excitement and her sable boa slid back as
she made a gesture with her expensive muff.
Once, she said, woman was so ignorant that she married for love!
Now the national revolt has come. Neither sentiment nor impulse nor
emotion shall ever again play any part in our relations with man!
He said, trying to speak ironically: That's a gay outlook, isn't
The outlook, Captain Jones, is straight into a glorious millennium.
Marriage, in the future, is to mean the regeneration of the human race
through cold-blooded selection in mating. Only the physically and
mentally perfect will hereafter be selected as specimens for scientific
propagation. All others must remain unmatedpro bono publico
and so ultimately human imperfection shall utterly disappear from this
Her pretty enthusiasm, her earnestness, the delicious colour in her
cheeks, began to fascinate him. Then uneasiness returned.
Do you know, he said cautiously, that the Governor of New York
has received anonymous letters informing him that Professor Elizabeth
Challis considers him a proper specimen for thethe t-t-terrible
purposes of s-s-scientific p-p-propagation?
Some traitor in our camp, she said, wrote those letters.
Itit isn't true, then, is it?
What isn't true?
That the Governor of the great State of New York is in any danger
of being seized for any such purpose?
She looked at him with a curious veiled expression in her pretty
eyes, as though she were near-sighted.
I think, she said, Professor Challis means to seize him.
The Governor gazed at her, horrified for a moment, then his
political craft came to his aid, and he laughed.
What does she look like? he inquired. Is she rather a tough old
No; she's young andathletic.
Oh, she's as tall as the Governor isabout six feet, I believe.
Nonsense! he exclaimed, paling.
Six feet, she repeated carelessly; rowed stroke at Vassar;
carried off the standing long jump, pole vault, and ten-mile
Thisthis is terrible, murmured the young man, passing one gloved
hand over his dampening brow. Then, with a desperate attempt at a
smile, he leaned forward and said confidentially:
As a matter of fact, just between you and me, the Governor is an
Impossible! she retorted, her clear blue eyes on his.
Alas! It is only too true. He's got a very, very rare disease,
said the young man sadly. Promise you won't tell?
Y-yes, said the girl. Her face had lost some of its colour.
Then I will confide in you, said the young man impressively. The
Governor is threatened with a serious cardiac affection, known as
She looked down, remained silent for a moment, then lifted her pure
gaze to him.
Is that trueCaptain Jones?
As true as that I am his Military Secretary.
Her features remained expressionless, but the colour came back as
though the worst of the shock were over.
I see, she said seriously. Professor Challis ought to know of
this sad condition of affairs. I have heard of Lamour's disease.
Indeed, she ought to be told at once, he said, delighted. You'll
inform her, won't you?
If you wish.
Thank you! Thank you! he said fervently. You are certainly
the most charmingly reasonable of your delightful sex. The Governor
will be tremendously obliged to you
Is the Governorare hishis affectionsto use an obsolete
expressionfixed upon any particular
Oh, no! he said, smiling; the Governor isn't in
loveexceptergenerally. He's a gay bird. The Governor never, in
all his career, saw a single specimen of your sex whichwell, which
interested him as muchwell, for example, he added in a burst of
confidence, as much even as you interest me!
Which, of course, is not at all, she said, laughing.
Oh, nono, not at all he hesitated, biting his moustache and
looking at her.
I'll tell you one thing, he said; if the Governor ever did get
entirely wellerrecoveredyou know what I mean?
Cured of his cardiac trouble?this disease known as Lamour's
Exactly. If he ever did recover, heI'm quite sure he would
be and here he hesitated, gazing at her in silence. As for her,
she had turned her head and was gazing out of the window.
I wonder what your name is? he said, so naïvely that the colour
tinted even the tip of the small ear turned toward him.
My name, she said, is Mary Smith. Like you, I am Militant
Secretary to Professor Elizabeth Challis, President of the Federation
of American Women.
I hope we will remain on pleasant terms, he ventured.
I hope so, Captain Jones.
I trust so.
She bent her distractingly pretty head in acquiescence.
Then you'll give me back the papers?
Sorry for taking them?
No, sorry for keeping them.
You don't mean to say that you are going to keep them, Miss Smith?
I'm afraid I must. My duty forces me to deliver them to Professor
But why does this terrible and strapping young lady desire to swipe
the draft of this bill?
Because it contains the evidence of a wicked conspiracy between the
Governor of New York, the Mayor of this city, and an abandoned
legislature. The women of America ought to know what threatens them
before this bill is perfected and introduced. And before they will
permit it to be debated and passed they are determined to march on
Albany, half a million strong, as did the heroines of Versailles!
She stretched out her white gloved hand with an excited but graceful
gesture; he eyed her moodily, swinging the chenille cat by its fluffy
What do they suspect is in that bill? he said at last.
We are not yet perfectly sure. We believe it is an insidious
attempt to sow dissension in the ranks of our sexa bill cunningly
devised to create jealousy and unworthy distrust among usan ingenious
and inhuman conspiracy to disorganize the National Federation of Free
and Independent Women.
Nonsense, he said. The bill, when perfected, is designed to give
you what you want.
Certainly; votes for women.
On what terms? she asked, incredulously.
Terms? Oh, no particular terms. I wouldn't call them 'terms,' he
said craftily; that sounds like masculine dictation.
It certainly does.
Of course. There are no terms in it. It's aa sort of a civil
service ideaa kind of a qualification for the franchise
Yes, he continued pleasantly, it aersuggests that a vote be
accorded to any woman who, in competition with others of that election
district, passes the examinations
He twirled the cat carelessly.
Oh, the examination papers are on various subjects. One is
Yesthat part of organic chemistry which includes the scientific
Her eyes flashed; he twirled the cat absently.
Yes, he said, chemistry is one of the subjects. Physics is
Oh, thethe proposition that nature abhors a vacuum. You're to
prove ityou're given a certain areasay a bed-room full of dust.
Then you apply to it
I see, she said; you mean we apply to it a vacuum cleaner, don't
Or, he admitted courteously, you may solve it through the science
Of courseusing a broom. Her eyes were beautiful but frosty.
Do you know, he said, as pleasantly as he dared, that you, for
instance, would be sure to pass.
Because I'm intelligent enough to comprehend the subtleties of
Exactly. He swung the cat in a circle.
Thank you. And what else do these examination papers contain?
Physics mostlythe properties of solid bodies. For example, you
choose a buttonany ordinary button, he explained frankly, as though
taking her into his confidence; say, for instance, the plain bone
button of commerce
And sew it onto some masculine shirt, she nodded as he sank back
apparently overcome with admiration at her intelligence. And that,
she added, no doubt is intended to illustrate the phenomenon of
You are perfectly correct, he said with enthusiasm.
What else is there? she asked.
Oh, nothingnothing very much. A few experiments in
Sterilizing nursing bottles?
How on earth did you ever guess? he cried, overwhelmed, but
perfectly alert to the kindling anger in her blue eyes. Why, of course
that is it. It is included in the science of embryotics
Embryotics. For instance, you take an embryo of any kindsay aa
baby. Then you show exactly how to dress, undress, wash, feed, and
finally bring that baby to triumphant maturity. It's interesting, isn't
it, Miss Smith?
She said nothing. He twirled the cat furiously until its tail gave
way and it flew into a corner.
Captain Jones, she said, as I understand it, this bill is a
codified conspiracy to turn every woman of this State into aa washer
of clothes, a cleaner of floors, a bearer of childrenand a
II would not put it that way, he protested.
And her reward, she went on, not noticing his interruption, is
permission to voteto use the inalienable liberty with which already
Heaven has endowed her.
Tears flashed in her eyes; she held her small head proudly and not
Captain Jones, she said, do you realize what centuries of
suppression are doing to my sex? Do you understand that woman is
degenerating into an immobilityan inertiaa molluskular condition of
receptive passivity which is rendering us, year by year, more unfitted
to either think or act for ourselves? Even in the matter of marriage we
are not permitted by custom to assume the initiative. We may only shake
our heads until the man we are inclined toward asks us, when he is
entirely ready to ask. Then, like a row of Chinese dolls, we nod our
heads. I tell you, she said, tremulously, we are becoming like that
horrid, degenerate, wingless moth which is born, mates, and dies in one
spota living mechanical incubatora poor, deformed, senseless thing
that has through generations lost not only the use, but even the
rudiments of the wings which she once possessed. But the male moth
flies more strongly and frivolously than ever. There is nothing the
matter with the development of his wings, Captain Jones.
IT was now growing rather dark in the room.
I'm terribly sorry you feel this way, he said.
She had averted her eyes and was now seated, chin in hand, looking
out of the window.
Do you know, he said, this is a rotten condition of affairs.
What do you mean? she asked.
This attitude of women.
Is it more odious than the attitude of men?
After all, he said, man is born with the biceps. He was made to
do the fighting.
Not all of the intellectual fighting.
No, of course not. Butyou don't want him to rock the cradle, do
Cradles are no longer rocked, Captain Jones. I don't think you
would be qualified to pass this examination with which you menace us.
He began to be interested. She turned from the window, saw he was
interested, hesitated, then:
I wish I could talk to youto such a man as you seem to
besensibly, without rancour, without personal enmity or
Why, yes. I can. ButI am not sure what your
It is friendly, he said, looking at her. I am perfectly hapI
mean willing to listen to you. Only, sooner or later, you must return
to me those papers.
The Governor entrusted them to me officially
She said smiling: But youyour Governor I meancan frame another
I'm a soldier in uniform, he said dramatically. My duty is to
guard those papers with my life!
I am a soldier, too, she said proudly, in the Army of Human
Very well, he said, if you regard it that way.
I do. Only brute violence can deprive me of these papers.
That, he said, is out of the question.
It is no more shameful than the mental violence to which you have
subjected us through centuries. Anyway, you're not strong enough to get
them from me.
Do you expect me to seize you and twist your arm until you drop
You can never have them otherwise. Try it!
He sat silent for a while, alternately twisting his moustache and
the cat's tail. Presently he flung the latter away, rose, inspected the
stars on the wall, and then began to pace to and fro, his gloved hands
behind his back, spurs and sword clanking.
It's getting late, he said as he passed her. Continuing his
promenade he added as he passed her again. I've had no luncheon. Have
He poked around the room, examining the fantastic furnishings in all
their magnificence of cotton velvet and red cheesecloth.
If this is Dill's room it's a horrible place, he thought to
himself, sitting down by a table and shuffling a pack of cards.
Shall I cast your horoscope? he asked amiably. Here's a chart.
No, thank you.
Presently he said: It's getting beastly cold in this room.
Really! she murmured.
He came back and sat down in the gilded chair. It was now so dusky
in the room that he couldn't see her very plainly.
So he folded his arms and abandoned himself to gloomy patience until
the room became very dark. Then he got up, struck a match, and lighted
By Jupiter! he muttered, I'm hungry.
For nearly five minutes she let the remark go apparently unnoticed.
But the complaint he had made is the one general and comprehensive
appeal that no woman ever born can altogether ignore. In the depths of
her something always responds, however faintly. And in the soul of this
young girl it was answering nowthe subtle, occult response of woman
to the eternal and endless need of manhunger of one kind or another.
I'm sorry, she said, so sincerely that the sweetness in her voice
Whywhy, do you know I believe you really are! he said in
I am a great many things that you have no idea I am, she said,
What is one of them?
I'm afraid I'm aa fool.
She came forward and stood looking at him.
I've been thinking, she said, that I can do you no kinder service
than to destroy those papers and let you go home.
For a moment he thought she was joking, then something in her
expression changed his opinion and he took a step forward, eyes fixed
on her face.
Yes, he said, it would be the kindest thing you can do for me.
Shall I tell you why? It's because I'm hopelessly near-sighted. I wear
glasses when I'm alone in my study, where nobody can see me.
What in the world has that to do with my leaving you? she
asked, colouring up.
Suffragettes would never marry a near-sighted man, would they?
They ought not to.
You wouldn't, would you?
Why do you asksuch a thing?
I want to know.
But how does your myopia concern me? she said faintly.
Couldn't itever? he asked, reddening.
No, she said, turning pale.
Then we'd better not stay here; and I'm going to be as generous as
you are, he said, advancing toward her. I'm going to let you go
She backed away, thrusting the papers behind her; his arm slipped
around her, after them, strove to grasp them, to hold and restrain her,
but there was a strength in her tall, firm young body which matched his
own; she resisted, turned, twisted, confronted him with high colour,
and lips compressed, and they came to a deadlock, breathing fast and
Again, coolly, dexterously, he pitted his adroitness, then his sheer
strength against hers; and it came again to a deadlock.
Suddenly she crook'd one smooth knee inside of his; her arms slid
around him like lightning; he felt himself rising into the air,
descendingthere came a crash, a magnificent display of ocular
fireworks, and nothing further concerned him until he discovered
himself lying flat on the floor and heard somebody sobbing
incoherencies beside him.
He was mean enough to keep his eyes shut while she, on her knees
beside him, slopped water on his forehead and begged him to speak to
her, and told him her heart was broken and she desired to die and
repose in mortuary simplicity beside him forever.
Certain terms she employed in addressing what she feared were only
his mortal remains caused him to prick up his ears. He certainly was
one of the meanest of men.
Dear, she sobbed, II have l-loved you ever since your
lithographs were displayed during the election! Only speak to me! Only
open those beloved eyes! I don't care whether they are near-sighted!
Oh, please, please wake up! she cried brokenly. I'll give you back
your papers. What do I care about that old bill? I'm p-perfectly
willing to do all those things! Oh, oh, oh! How conscience does make
Haus-fraus of us all!
His meanness now became contemptible; he felt her trembling hands on
his brow; the fragrant, tearful face nearer, nearer, until her hot,
flushed cheeks and quivering lips touched his. And yet, incredible as
it seems, and to the everlasting shame of all his sex, he kept eyes and
mouth shut until a lively knocking on the door brought him bolt
She uttered a little cry and shrank away from him on her knees, the
tears glimmering in her startled and wide open eyes.
Good heavens, darling! he said seriously; how on earth are we
going to explain this?
They scrambled hastily to their feet and gazed at each other while
kicks and blows began to rain on the door.
I believe it's Dill, he whispered; and I seem to hear the Mayor's
Help! Help! For heaven's sake! screamed the Mayor, let us in,
George! There's a mob of suffragettes coming up the stairs!
The Governor unlocked the door and jerked it open, just as several
unusually beautiful girls seized Mr. Dill and the Military Secretary.
The Mayor, however, rushed blindly into the room, his turban-swirl
was over one eye, his skirt was missing, his apron hung by one pin.
He ran headlong for a sofa and tried to scramble under it, but
lovely and vigorous arms seized his shins and drew him triumphantly
Hurrah! they cried delightedly, we have carried the entire
Hurrah! echoed a sweet but tremulous voice, and a firm young arm
was slipped through the Governor's.
He turned to meet her beautiful, level gaze.
Check! she said.
Make it check-mate, he said steadily.
She bent her superb head a moment, then lifted her splendid eyes to
Of course I will, she said, as steadily as her quickening heart
permitted. Why do you suppose I ran after you?
Why? whispered that infatuated man.
Because, she said, naïvely, I was afraid some other girl would
get you. . . . A girl never can be sure what another girl might do to a
man. . . . And I wanted you for myself.
Thank God, he said, that six-foot Professor Challis will never
get me, anyway.
She bent her adorable face close to his.
Your excellency, she murmured, I am Professor Challis!
At that instant a pretty and excited suffragette dashed up the
stairs and saluted.
Professor, she cried, all over the city desirable young men are
being pursued and married by the thousands! We have swept the State,
with Brooklyn and West Point yet to hear from! Her glance fell upon
the Governor; she laughed glee-fully.
Shall I call a taxi, Professor? she asked.
An exquisite and modest pride transformed the features of Professor
Betty Challis to a beauty almost celestial.
Let George do it, she said tenderly.
A FEW minutes later, amid a hideous scene of riot, where young men
were fleeing distractedly in every direction, where excited young girls
were dragging them, struggling and screaming, into cabs, where even the
police were rushing hither and thither in desperate search for a place
to hide in, the Governor of New York and Professor Elizabeth Challis
might have been seen whirling downtown in a taxicab toward the marriage
Her golden head lay close to his; his moustache rested against her
delicately flushed cheek. A moment later she sat up straight in dire
Oh, those papers! The draft of the bill! she exclaimed. Where is
Did you want it, Betty? he asked, surprised.
Whywhy, no. Didn't you want it, George?
I? Not at all.
Then why on earth did you keep me imprisoned in that room so long
if you didn't want those papers?
He said slowly: Why didn't you give them up to me if you
didn't really want them, Betty?
She shook her pretty head. I don't know. . . . But I'm afraid it
was only partly obstinacy.
It was only partly that with me, he said.
I just wanted to detain you, I suppose, he admitted.
George, you wouldn't expect me to match that horrid
No, I wouldn't ask it of you.
He laid his cheek against hers and whispered: Darling, do you think
our great love justifies our concealing my myopia?
George, she murmured, I think it does. . . . Besides, I'm
dreadfully near-sighted myself.
Dear, every one of us has got something the matter with her.
Miss Vining, who caught the Mayor, wears a rat herself. . . . Do you
mean to say that men believe there ever was a perfect woman?
He kissed her slowly. I believe it, he said.
AS the extremes of fashionable feminine costume appear first on
Fifth Avenue in late November, and in early December are imitated in
Harlem, and finally in January pervade the metropolitan purlieus, so
all the great cities of the Union, writhing in the throes of a
fashionable suffragette revolution, presently inoculated the towns; and
the towns infected the villages, and the villages the hamlets, and the
hamlets passed the contagion along into the open country, where
isolated farms and dicky-birds alone remained uninfected and receptive.
It was even asserted by enthusiastic suffragettes that flocks of
feminine dicky-birds had begun to assault masculine birds of the same
variety; and that the American landscape was full of agitated male
birds, lacking rear plumage, flying distractedly in every direction or
squatting disconsolately in lonely trees, counting their tail feathers.
Mr. Borroughs and our late great President were excitedly inclined
to believe it, but the most famous and calm of explorers, who had
recently returned from exile to his camp on top of Mt. McKinley, warned
the scientific world on a type-writer not to credit anything that
anybody said until he had corroborated it in the magazines. And he left
that week for another trip to the pole to find out what the attitude of
the polecats might be concerning the matter in question.
Meanwhile the cities were full of trouble and forcibly selected
bridegrooms. From 60,000 marriages recorded in New York City for the
twelve months of the previous year, in the few months of the eugenic
revolution the number of weddings had reached the enormous figures of
180,000, not including Flatbush.
Thousands and thousands of marriageable young men were hiding in
their clubs or in the shrubbery of Central Park, waiting for a chance
to make their escape to the country and remain incognito in hay lofts
until the eugenic revolution had ended itself in a dazzling display of
Westchester, the Catskills, and even the country farther north were
full of young business men and professional men fleeing headlong from
their jobs in Wall Street, Broadway, and Fifth Avenue, and hiring out
to farmers and boarding house keepers under assumed names. One could
jump a young man out of almost any likely thicket north of the Bronx;
they were as plentiful and as shy as deer in the Catskills; corn field,
scrub, marsh, and almost any patch of woods in the State, if carefully
beaten up, would have yielded at least one or two flocks of skulking
Now, as there was no close season, and marriageable youths in New
York City became scarcer, those militant suffragettes devoted to
eugenic principles began to make excursions into the suburbs in search
of bevies and singleswhich had escaped the exciting days of the great
Long Acre drive and the bachelors' St. Bartholomew. And, as the April
days turned into May days, and the May days into June days, parties of
pretty, laughing, athletic girls penetrated farther and farther into
the country, joyously rummaging the woods and routing out and
scattering into flight the lurking denizens. For every den had its
denizen, and Diana roamed the earth once more.
There was excellent sport to be had along the Hudson. Some young
ladies went in automobiles; some in yachts; some by train, to points
north, where the landscape looked more promising and wilderbut
probably not as wild as the startled masculine countenances peering
furtively from hillside thickets as some gay camping party of
distractingly pretty girls appeared, carrying as excess baggage one
clergywoman and a bundle of marriage licenses, with the bridegroom's
name represented only by a question mark.
It was on an unusually beautiful day in early June that two
briar-mangled and weather-beaten young men, bearing every evidence of
Wall Street and excessive fright, might have been seen sitting up like
a brace of startled rabbits in a patch of ferns which grew along the
edges of a brook at the foot of a charmingly wooded slope among the
Westchester hills. In every direction stretched hills, woods, and
Italians. The calm remote sky was blue and unvexed by anything except
factory smoke; not a sound was visible, not a noise was to be seen.
Bacon was frying unctuously in a pan on the coals beside them; their
suit-cases lay near. They sat up in the fern patch, coffee cups
suspended, eyes wild, listening intently.
Brown, whispered Vance, did you hear anything except the hum of
I sure did, nodded Brown, craning his neck like a turkey in a
briar-patch and glaring around.
Ifif they've got dogs, said Vance, they'll flush us
beforehark! Great guns! Look at that bench show!
Brown's hair rose on end. They have got dogs, he whispered,
a toy bull, a Mexican, a Chow, two Pommsand, by Jupiter! they've got
a marmoset! Look at 'em! Hark! You can hear those unnatural girls
laughing! Me for a quick getaway. Come on!
Theythey may come from some college, faltered Vance; they may
run us down. Shall we trust to our protective colouring and squat
Do you want to stay here until that miserable Chow comes poking his
orange-coloured head into the ferns and laughs at us with his blue
Vance wrung his hands, hurling coffee all over Brown in his agonised
Good heavens! he moaned. I don't want to be married! I
can't afford it! Do you think those girls can outrun us?
If they can, said Brown, they'll want me more than I want my
liberty. Look out! There's their bat-eared bull! See him sniff! The
wretched mutt has winded the bacon! We've got to make a break for it
now! Come on! Beat it, son!
Up out of the covert crashed the two young fellows, and went
prancing away through the woods, suit-cases in hand. A chorus of
excited yelps and barks greeted the racket they made in their flight; a
shrill whistle rang out, then a pretty and excited voice:
Mark! Quick, Gladys! There are two of them! Mark left!
Are they any good? cried Gladys. Oh, where are they, dear?
I only caught a glimpse of them. They looked like fine ones, in
splendid condition. Millicent! Quick, where are you?
Here! came a third voice. Oh, Constance! one is too perfectly
splendid for anything! Chow-Chow is at his heels! Look out! Mark
Run! panted Constance, leaping a fallen log.
The lovely June woodland was now echoing with the happy cries of the
chase, the ki-yi of excited lap-dogs, the breathless voices of the
young girls, the heavy crashing racket of stampeding young men rushing
headlong through bramble and thicket with a noise like a hurricane amid
Vance's legs, terror weakened, wobbled as he fled; and after ten
minutes he took to a tree with a despairing scream.
Brown, looking back from the edge of a mountain pasture, saw the
dogs leaping frantically at his friend's legs as he shinned rapidly up
the trunk, and disappeared into the clustering foliage; saw three
flushed young girls come running up with cries of innocent delight; saw
one of them release a slender, black, furry, spidery thing which
immediately ran up the tree; heard distracted yells from Vance:
For heaven's sake, take away that marmoset! I can't bear 'emI
hate 'em, ladies! Ouch! He's all over me! He's trying to get into my
pocket! Take him away, for the love of Mike, and I'll come down!
But Brown waited to hear no more. Horror now lent him her infernal
wings; he fairly fluttered across the mountain side, sailed down the
farther slope, and into a lonely country road. Along this he cantered,
observed only by surprised cattle, until, exhausted, he slackened his
pace to a walk.
Rickety fences and the remains of old stone walls flanked him on
either hand; the clearings were few, the cultivated patches fewer. He
encountered no houses. On a distant hillside stood a weather-beaten
barn, the sky shining blue through its roof rafters.
Beyond this the road forked; one branch narrowed to a grassy cattle
path and presently ended at a pair of bars. Inside the bars was a stone
barn; beside the barn a house of the century before lasta low, square
stone house, half stripped of its ancient stucco skin, a high-roofed
one-story affair, with sagging dormers peering from the slates and
little oblong loop-holes under the eaves, from which the straw of
birds' nests fluttered in the breeze.
Surely this ancient place, even if inhabitedas he saw it wasmust
be sufficiently remote from the outer world to insure his safety. For
here the mountain road ended at the barn-yard bars; here the low wooded
hills walled in this little world of house, barn, and orchard, making a
silent, sunny place under the blue sky, sweet with late lilac bloom and
the hum of bees. No factory smoke was visible, no Italians.
He looked at the aged house. A black cat sat on the porch
thoughtfully polishing her countenance with the back of one paw. Three
diminutive parti-coloured kittens frisked and rolled and toddled around
her; and occasionally she seized one and washed it energetically
against the grain.
Brown looked at the door with its iron knocker, at the delicately
spread fan-light over it, at the side-lights, at the half-pillars with
their Ionic capitals, at the ancient clumps of lilacs flanking the
stone stepgreat, heavy-stemmed and gnarled old bushes now all hung
with perfumed clusters of palest lavender bloom.
Leaning there on the picket fence he inhaled their freshness, gazing
up into the sunny foliage of the ancient trees, elms, maples, and one
oak so aged and so magnificent that, awed, his eyes turned uneasily
again toward the house to reassure himself that it was still inhabited.
Cat and kittens were comfortable evidence, also a hen or two
loitering near, and the pleasant sound from a dozen bee-hives, and a
wild rose in a china bowl, dimly visible on an inner window-sill.
There were two characters he might assume; he might go to the back
door and request a job; he might bang on the front door with that iron
knocker, shaped like a mermaid, and ask for country board.
Of one thing, somehow or other, he was convincing himself; this
crumbling house and its occupants knew as much about the recent
high-jinks in New York as did the man who built it in the days when
loop-holes were an essential part of local architecture, and the
painted Sagamore passed like a spectre through the flanking forests.
So Brown, carrying his suit-case, opened the gate, walked up the
path, seized the knocker, and announced himself with resolution.
WHILE he waited the cat looked up at him, curiously but pleasantly.
Hello, old lady, he said; and she arched her back and rubbed lightly
against his nigh leg while the kittens tumbled over his shoes and
played frantically with the frayed bottoms of his trousers.
This preliminary welcome seemed to comfort him out of all proportion
to its significance; he gazed complacently about at the trees and
flowers, drew in deep breaths of the lilac's fragrance, and waited,
listening contentedly for the coming foot-fall.
He had not heard it when the door opened and a young girl appeared
on the threshold, standing with one hand resting on the inner knob; the
other touching the pocket of her apron, in which was a ball of yarn
stuck through with two needles.
She was slim and red-haired and slightly freckled, and her mouth was
perhaps a shade large, and it curled slightly at the corners; and her
eyes were quite perfectly made, except that one was hazel-brown and the
Hat in hand, Brown bowed; and then she did a thing which interested
him; she lifted the edges of her apron between slender white thumbs and
forefingers and dropped him the prettiest courtesy he had ever seen off
I came to inquire, he said, whether you ever take summer
What are boarders? she asked. I never heard of them except in
Thank heaven, he thought; this is remote, all right; and I have
discovered pristine innocence in the nest.
Modern boarders, he explained politely, are unpleasant people who
come from the city to enjoy the country, and who, having no real homes,
pay farmers to lodge and feed them for a few days of vacation and
You mean is this a tavern? she asked, unsmiling.
No, I don't. I mean, will you let me live here a little while as
though I were a guest, and then permit me to settle my reckoning in
accordance with your own views upon the subject?
She hesitated as though perplexed.
Suppose you ask your father or mother, he suggested.
They are absent.
Will they return this morning?
I don't know exactly when they expect to return.
Well, couldn't you assume the responsibility? he asked, smiling.
She looked at him for a few moments, and it seemed to him as though,
in the fearless gravity of her regard, somehow, somewhere, perhaps in
the curled corners of her lips, perhaps in her pretty and unusual eyes,
there lurked a little demon of laughter. Yet it could not be so; there
were only serenity and a child's direct sweetness in the gaze.
What is your name? she asked.
John Brown 4th.
Mine is Elizabeth Tennant. Where do you live?
InNew York, he admitted, watching her furtively.
I was there onceat a ballmany years ago, she observed.
Not very many years ago, I imagine, he said, smiling at her
Many, many years ago, she said thoughtfully. I shall go again
Of course, he murmured politely, it's a thing to do and get
donelike going abroad.
She looked up at him quickly.
Years ago I knew a boywith your easy humour and your trick of
speech. He resembled you otherwise; and he wore your name becomingly.
He tried to recall knowing her in his extreme youth, but made no
You wouldn't remember, she said gravely; but I think I know you
now. Who is your father?
My father? he repeated, surprised and smiling. My father is John
And his father?
My grandfather? he asked, very much amused. Oh, he was John Brown
2nd. And his father was Captain John Brown of Westchester; but I
don't want to talk D. A. R. talk to you about my great grandfather
He fought at Pound Ridge, said the girl, slowly.
Yes, said Brown, astonished.
Tarleton's cavalrythe brutal hussars of the legionkilled him on
the Stamford Road, she said; and he lay there in the field all day
with one dead arm over his face and his broken pistol in his hand, and
the terrible galloping fight drove past down the stony New Canaan
roadand the smoke from the meeting house afire rolled blacker and
blacker and redder and redder
With a quickly drawn breath she covered her face with both hands and
stood a moment silent; and Brown stared at her, astonished, doubting
his eyes and ears.
The next moment she dropped her hands and looked at him with a
What in the world can you be thinking of me? she said. Alone in
this old house, here among the remoter hills of Westchester. I live so
vividly in the past that these almost forgotten tragedies seem very
real to me and touch me closely. To me the present is only a shadow;
the past is life itself. Can you understand?
I see, he said, intensely relieved concerning her mental
stability; you are a Daughter of the American Revolution or a Society
of Colonial Wars orersomething equallyerinteresting and
I am a Daughter of the American Revolution, she said proudly.
Exactly, he smiled with an inward shudder. Aa very
interestingerandexceedinglyandall that sort of thing, he
nodded amiably. Don't take much interest in it myselfbeing a broker
and rather busy
I am sorry.
He looked up quickly and met her strange eyes, one hazel-grey, one
II'll be delighted to take an interest in anything
youinerthis Revolutionary business if youif you don't mind
telling me about it, he stammered. Evenings, now, if you have time to
She smiled, opened the door wider, and looked humorously down at him
where he stood fidgeting on the step.
Will you come in? she asked serenely.
HE went, first depositing his suit-case on the step outside by the
cats, and followed her into a large, comfortable sitting room.
By jove, he said, you know this is really mighty pretty! What a
corking collection of old furniture! Where in the world did you
findor perhaps this is the original furniture of the place?
She said, looking around the room as though slightly perplexed:
This furniture was made to order for me in Boston.
Then it isn't genuine, he said, disappointed. But it's a very
clever imitation of antique colonial. It is really a wonderful copy.
I don't think it is a copy.
It certainly doesn't look like it; but it must be if it was made in
Boston for you. They're ingenious fellows, these modern makers of
colonial furniture. Every antique shop in New York is loaded up with
excellent copies of this sortonly not nearly as well done.
She assented, apparently with no very clear understanding of what he
What a charming setting this old house makes for such things, he
She nodded, looking doubtfully at the rag carpet.
The Manor House was much finer, she observed. Come to the window
and I'll show you where it stood. They were fine folk, the Lockwoods,
Hunts, and Fanchers.
They rose and she laid one pretty hand on his sleeve and guided him
into a corner of the window, where he could see.
Hello, he said uneasily, there is a main travelled road! I
thought that here we were at the very ends of civilisation!
That is the Bedford road, she said. Over there, beyond those
chestnuts, is the Stamford road. Can you see those tall old poplars?
Beyond the elms I meantherewhere the crows are flying?
Yes. Eight tall poplars.
The Manor House stood there. Tarleton burnt itset it afire with
all its beautiful furniture and silver and linen! His hussars ran
through it, setting it afire and shooting at the mirrors and slashing
the silks and pictures! And when the Major's young wife entered the
smoking doorway to try to save a pitiful little trinket or two, an
officernever mind who, for his descendants may be living to-day in
Englandstruck her with the flat of his sword and cut her and struck
her to her knees! That is the truth!
He said politely: You are intensely interested inercolonial and
Yes. What else have I to think ofhere?
I suppose many interesting memories of those times cluster around
this old place, he said, violently stifling a yawn. He had risen early
and run far. Hunger and slumber contended for his mastery.
Many, she said simply. Just by the gate yonder they captured
young Alsop Hunt and sent him away to the Provost Prison in New York.
In the road below John Buckhout, one of our dragoons, was trying to get
away from one of Tarleton's dragoons of the 17th Regiment; and the
British trooper shouted, 'Surrender, you damned rebel, or I'll blow
your brains out!' and the next moment he fired a bullet through
Buckhout's helmet. 'There,' said the dragoon, 'you damned rebel, a
little more and I should have blown your brains out!' 'Yes, damn you,'
replied John, 'and a little more and you wouldn't have touched me!'
Brown looked at her amused and astonished to hear such free words
slip so eagerly from a mouth which, as he looked at it, seemed to him
the sweet mouth of a child.
Where did you ever hear such details? he asked.
People told me. Besides, the house is full of New York newspapers.
You may read them if you wish. I often do. Many details of the fight
Reading such things out of old newspapers published at the time
certainly must bring those events very vividly before you.
Yes. . . . It is painful, too. The surprise and rout of Sheldon's
2nd dragoonsthe loss of their standard; the capture, wounding, and
death of more than two scoreandoh! that young death there in the
wheat! the boy lying in the sun with one arm across his face and the
broken pistol in his hand! and his wifethe wife of a monthdragging
him back to this housewith the sunset light on his dead face!
To this house?
She dropped her hand lightly on his shoulder and pointed.
Tarleton's troopers came stamping and cursing in by that very door
after they had burned Judge Lockwood's and the meeting housebut they
left her alone with her dead, here on the floor where you and I are
standing. . . . She was only seventeen; she died a few months later in
child-birth. God dealt very gently with her.
He looked around him in the pleasant light of the room, striving to
comprehend that such things had happened in such a sleepy, peaceful
place. Sunlight fell through the curtains, casting the wild roses'
shadow across the sill; the scent of lilacs filled the silence.
It's curiousand sad, he said in a low voice. How odd that I
should come here to the very spot where that old ancestor of mine
He was only twenty when he died, she interrupted.
I know. But somehow a fellow seems to think of any ancestor as a
snuffy old codger
He was very handsome, she said, flushing up.
There was a silence; then she looked around at him with a glint of
humour in her pretty eyesone hazel-brown, one hazel tinged with grey;
and the delicious mouth no longer drooped.
Can't you imagine him as young as you are? gay, humorous, full of
mischievous life, and the love of life? something of a dandy in his
uniformand his queue tied smartly à la Française!gallantoh,
gallant and brave in the dragoon's helmet and jack-boots of Sheldon's
Horse! Why, he used to come jingling and clattering into this room and
catch his young wife and plague and banter and caress her till she fled
for refuge, and he after her, like a pair of school children
releasedthrough the bed-rooms, out by the kitchen, and into the
garden, till he caught her again in the orchard yonder and held her
tight and made her press her palms together and recite:
I love thee
I love thee
Through all the week and Sunday
until for laughing and follyIthey
To his amazement her voice broke; into her strange eyes sprang
tears, and she turned swiftly away and went and stood by the curtained
Well, by gad! he thought, of all morbid little things! affected
to tears by what happened to somebody else a hundred and thirty odd
years ago! Women are sure the limit!
And in more suitable terms he asked her why she should make herself
She said: I am happy. It is only when I am here that I am
lonely and the dead past lives again among these wooded hills.
Are you notusuallyhere? he asked, surprised. I thought you
No. I live elsewhere, usually. I am too unhappy here. I never
remain very long.
Then why do you ever come here? he asked, amused.
I don't know. I am very happy elsewhere. ButI come. Women do such
I don't exactly understand why.
A woman's thoughts return eternally to one place and one person.
One memory is her ruling passion.
What is that memory?
The Place and the Man.
I don't know what you mean.
I mean that a woman, in spirit, journeys eternally to the old, old
rendezvous with love; makes, with her soul, the eternal pilgrimage back
to the spot where Love and she were first acquainted. And, moreover, a
woman may even leave the man with whom she is happy to go all alone for
a while back to the spot where first she knew happiness because of him.
. . . You don't understand, do you?
Brown was a broker. He did not understand.
She looked at him, smiling, sighing a littleand, in spite of her
fresh and slender youthand she was certainly not yet twentyhe felt
curiously young and crude under the gentle mockery of her unmatched
eyesone hazel-brown, one hazel tinged with grey.
Then, still smiling wisely, intimately to herself, she went away
into an inner room; and through the doorway he saw her slim young
figure moving hither and thither, busy at shelf and cupboard. Presently
she came back carrying an old silver tray on which stood a decanter and
a plate of curious little cakes. He took it from her and placed it on a
tip-table. Then she seated herself on the ancient sofa, and summoned
him to a place beside her.
Currant wine, she said laughingly; and old-fashioned cake. Will
you acceptunder this roof of mine?
He was dreadfully hungry; the wine was mild and delicious, the crisp
cakes heavenly, and he ate and ate in a kind of ecstasy, not perfectly
certain what was thrilling him most deeply, the wine or the cakes or
this slender maid's fresh young beauty.
On one rounded cheek a bar of sunlight lay, gilding the delicate
skin and turning the curling strands of hair to coils of fire.
He thought to himself, with his mouth a trifle fuller than
convention expects, that he would not wish to resist falling in love
with a girl like this. She would never have to chase him very
far. . . . In fact, he was perfectly ready to be captured and led
blushing to the altar.
Once, as he munched away, he remembered the miserable fate of his
late companion Vance, and shuddered; but, looking around at the young
girl beside him, his fascinated eyes became happily enthralled, and
matrimony no longer resembled doom.
What are these strange happenings in New York of which I hear vague
rumours? she enquired, folding her hands in her lap and looking
innocently at him.
His jaw fell.
Have you heard aboutwhat is going on in town? he asked.
I thought you didn't know.
They say that the women there are ambitious to govern the country
and are even resolved to choose their own husbands.
Something of that sort, he muttered uneasily.
That is a very strange condition of affairs, she murmured,
brooding eyes remote.
It's a darned sight worse than strange! he blurted outthen asked
pardon for his inelegant vehemence; but she only smiled dreamily and
sipped her currant wine in the sunshine.
Shall we talk of something pleasanter? he said, still uneasy,
erabout those jolly old colonial days. . . . That's rather an odd
gown you wearerpretty you knowbutis it not in the style
oferthose days ofof yoreand all that?
It was made then.
A genuine antique! he exclaimed. I suppose you found it in the
garret. There must be a lot of interesting things up there behind those
Chests full, she nodded. We save everything.
He said: You look wonderfully charming in the costume of those
days. It suits you so perfectly thatas a matter of fact, I didn't
even notice your dress when I first saw youbut it's a wonder!
Men seldom notice women's clothes, do they?
That is true. Still, it's curious I didn't notice such a gown as
Is it very gay and fine? she asked, colouring deliciously.
I love these clothes.
They are the garments of perfectionrobing it!
Oh, what a gallant thing to say to me. . . . Do you truly find me
Agreeable! YouI don't think I'd better say it
Oh, I beg you!
[Illustration: 'Pray, observe my unmatched eyes.']
Her cheeks and lips were brilliant, her eyes sparkling; she leaned a
trifle toward him, frail glass in hand.
May not a pretty woman listen without offense if a gallant man
praises her beauty?
You are exactly thata beauty! he said excitedly. The
most bewitching, exquisite, matchless
Oh, I beg of you, be moderate, she laughedand picked up a fan
from somewhere and spread it, laughing at him over its painted edge.
Pray, observe my unmatched eyes before you speak again of me as
Your eyes are matchlessly beautiful!more wonderfully
beautiful than any others in all the world! he cried.
Yet the currant wine was very, very mild.
Such eyes, he continued excitedly, are the most strangely lovely
eyes I ever saw or ever shall see. Nobody in all the world, except you,
has such eyes. II am going quite mad about themabout youabout
everything. . . . Ithe plain fact is that I lovesuch eyesandand
every harmonious and lovely feature thatthat b-b-belongs to themand
She closed her painted fan slowly, slowly left her seat, took from
the blue bowl on the window-sill the wild rose blooming there, turned
and looked back at him, half smiling, waiting.
He sprang to his feet, scarcely knowing now what he was about; she
waited, tall, slender, and fresh as the lovely flower she held.
Then, as he came close to her, she drew the wild rose through the
lapel of his coat, and he bent his head and touched his lips to the
When she and youand Loveshall meet at last, you will first know
her by her eyes, she began; and the next instant the smile froze on
her face and she caught his arm in both hands and clung there, white to
LISTEN! she whispered; did you hear that?
What? he asked, dazed.
On the Bedford road! do you hear the horses? Do you hear them
Tarleton's! she gasped, pressing her white face between her hands.
Can't you hear their iron scabbards rattle? Can't you hear their bugle
horn? Where is Jack? Where is Jack?
A flurry of mellow music burst out among the trees, followed by a
Oh, God! she whispered, the British!
Brown stared at her.
Why, that's only an automobile hornand their tire just blew out,
he began, astonished.
But she sprang past him, calling, Jack! Jack! Where are you? and
he heard the door fly open and her childish cry of terror outside in
The next second he followed her, running through the hall and out
through the door to the porch; and at the same moment a big red touring
car came to a standstill before the house; the chauffeur descended to
put on a new tire, and a young girl in motor duster and hood sprang
lightly from the tonneau to the tangled grass. As she turned to look at
the house she caught sight of him.
Brown took an uncertain step forward; and she came straight toward
Neither spoke as they met face to face. He looked at her, passed his
hand over his eyes, bewildered, and looked again.
She was slim and red-haired and slightly freckled, and her mouth was
perhaps a shade large, and it curled slightly at the corners, and her
eyes were quite perfectly made except that one was hazel-brown and the
other a hazel-grey.
She looked at him, and it seemed to him as though, in the fearless
gravity of her regard, somewhere, somehowperhaps in the curled
corners of her lips, perhaps in her pretty and unusual eyesthere
lurked a little demon of laughter. Yet it could not be sothere were
only serenity and a child's direct sweetness in her gaze.
I suppose you have come to look at this old-time place? she said.
People often come. You are perfectly welcome.
And, as he made no answer:
If you care to see the inside of the house I will be very glad to
show it to you, she added pleasantly.
Isis it yours? he managed to say, oror your sister's?
She smiled. You mistake me for somebody else. I have no sister.
This is the old Brown placea very, very old house. It belonged to my
great grandmother. If you are interested I will be glad to show you the
interior. I brought the key with me.
But peoplerelatives of yoursare living there now, he
Oh, no, she said, smiling, the house is empty. We are thinking of
putting it in shape again. If you care to come in I can show you the
quaint old fireplaces and wainscotingif you don't mind dust.
She mounted the step lightly and, fitting the key and unlocking the
doorwhich he thought he had left openentered.
Come in, she called to him in a friendly manner.
He crossed the threshold to her side and halted, stunned. An empty
house, silent, shadowy, desolate, confronted him.
The girl beside him shook out her skirts and glanced at her dusty
A vacuum cleaner is what this place requires, she said. But
isn't it a quaint old house?
He pressed his shaking hands to his closed eyes, then forced them to
open upon the terrible desolation where she had stood a moment
sinceand saw bare boards under foot, bare walls, cobwebs, dust.
The girl was tiptoeing around the four walls examining the condition
of the woodwork.
It only needs electric lights and a furnace in the cellar and some
kalsomine and pretty wall paper
She turned to glance back at him, and stood so, regarding him with
amused curiosityfor he had dropped on his knees in the dust, groping
in an odd blind way for a flower that had just fallen from his coat.
There are millions of them by the roadside, she said as he
stumbled to his feet and drew the frail blossom through his buttonhole
with unsteady fingers.
Yes, he said, there are other roses in the world. Then he drew a
deep, quiet breath and smiled at her.
She smiled, too.
This was her room, she explained, the room where she first met
her husband, the room into which she came a bride, the room where she
died, poor thing. Oh, I forgot that you don't know who she was!
Elizabeth Tennant, he answered calmly.
Whyhow did you know?
God knows, he said; and bent his head, touching the petals of the
wild rose with his lips. Then he looked up straight into her eyesone
was hazel-brown, one hazel tinged with grey.
AS they left the house an hour later, walking down the path slowly,
shoulder to shoulder, she said:
Mr. Brown, I want you to like that house.
A sudden and subtly hideous idea glided into his brain.
You don't believe in suffragettes, do you? he said, forcing
a hollow laugh.
Why, I am one. Didn't you know it?
Certainly. Goodness! how you did run! But, she added with innocent
satisfaction, I think I have secured every bit as good a one as the
one Gladys chased out of a tree with her horrid marmoset.
THE Eugenic Revolution might fairly be said to have begun with the
ignominious weddings of Messrs. Reginald Willett, James Carrick, De
Lancy Smith, and Alphonso W. Green.
Its crisis culminated in the Long Acre riots. But the great
suffragette revolution was now coming to its abrupt and predestined
end; the reaction, already long overdue, gathered force with incredible
rapidity and exploded from Yonkers to Coney Island, in a furious
counter-revolution. The revolt of the Unfit was on at last.
Mobs of maddened spinsters paraded the streets of the five boroughs
demanding spouses. Maidens of uncertain age and attractions who, in the
hysterical enthusiasm of the eugenic revolution, had offered themselves
the pleasures of martyrdom by vowing celibacy and by standing aside
while physically perfect sister suffragettes pounced upon and married
all flawless specimens of the opposite sex, now began to demand for
themselves the leavings among the mature, thin-shanked, and
In vain their beautiful comrades attempted to explain the eugenistic
principlesto point out that the very essence of the entire cult lay
in non-reproduction by the physically unfit, and in the ultimate
extinction of the thin, bald, and meagre among the human race.
But thousands and thousands of the love-maddened rose up and
denounced the Beauty Trust, demanded a return to the former conditions
of fair competition in the open shop of matrimony.
They were timidly encouraged by thousands of middle-aged gentlemen
who denied that either excessive meagreness or baldness was hereditary;
they even dared to assert that the suffragette revolution had been a
mistake, and pointed out that only an average of one in every hundred
women had taken the trouble to exercise her privilege at the polls in
the recent election, and that ninety per cent. of those who voted
marked their ballots wrong or forgot to mark them at all, or else
invalidated them by writing suggestions to the candidates on the backs
of the ballots.
A week of terrible confusion ensued, and, in the very midst of it,
news came from London that Miss Pondora Bottomly, who, after throwing
bricks all day through the back windows of Windsor Castle, had been
arrested by a very thin Scotch policeman, had suddenly seized the
policeman and married him in spite of his terrified cries.
A shout of protest arose from every human man in the civilised
world; a groan of dismay burst from every human woman. It was the
beginning of the end; the old order of things was already in sight;
men, long hidden, reappeared in public places; wives shyly began to
respond to the cautious good-mornings of their long ignored husbands,
the wealthy and socially desirable but otherwise unattractive plucked
up spirits; florists, caterers, modistes, ministers came out of
seclusion and began to prowl around the débris of their ruined
professions with a view to starting out again in business; and here and
there the forgotten art of flirting was furtively resurrected and
resumed in the awaking metropolis.
Perfection, said America's greatest orator on the floor of the
Senate, is endurable only because unattainable. The only things on
earth that make this world interesting are its sporting chances, its
misfortunes, and its mutts!
And within a month after the delivery of this classic the American
nation had resumed its normal, haphazard aspect. The revolution, the
riots on Fifth Avenue and Long Acre, the bachelors' St. Bartholomew
were all forgotten; Tammany Hall and the Republican State Organization
yawned, stretched, rubbed their eyes, awoke, and sat up licking their
hungry chops; the gentlemen in charge of the Bureau of Special
Privileges opened the long-locked drawers of that piece of furniture,
and looked over the ledgers; trusts, monopolies, systems came out of
their cyclone cellars; turf associations dredged the dump-docks for
charters, whither a feminine municipal administration had consigned
them; all-night cafés, dance-halls, gambling houses reopened, and the
electric lights sparkled once more on painted cheeks and tinted lips.
The good old days of yore were returning fast on the heels of the
retreat of woman; capital shook hands with privilege; the prices of
staples soared; joints, dives, and hospitals were fast filling up;
jails and prisons and asylums looked forward to full houses. It was the
same old world againthe same dear old interesting, exciting,
grafting, murdering, diseased planet, spinning along through
spacejust as far as usual from other worlds and probably so arranged
in order that other worlds might not suffer from its aroma.
And over it its special, man-designed god was expected to keep watch
and deal out hell or paradise as the man-made regulations which
governed the deity and his abode required.
So once again the golden days of yore began; congregations
worshipped in Fifth Avenue churches and children starved on Avenue A;
splendid hospitals were erected, palatial villas were built in the
country; and department stores paid Mamie and Maud seven dollars a
weekbut competed in vain, sometimes, with smiling and considerate
individuals who offered them more, including enough to eat.
The world's god was back in his heaven; the world would, therefore,
go very well; and woman, at last, was returning to her own sphere to
mind her own businessand a gifted husband, especially created as her
physical and mental lord and master by a deity universally regarded as
masculine in sex.
SHE knew so little about the metropolis that, on her first visit, a
year before, she had asked the driver of the taxicab to recommend a
respectable hotel for a lady travelling alone; and he had driven her to
the Hotel Aurora Borealisthat great, gay palace of Indiana limestone
and plate glass towering above the maelstrom of Long Acre.
When, her business transacted, she returned to the Westchester farm,
still timid, perplexed, and partly stunned by the glitter and noise of
her recent metropolitan abode, she determined never again to stop at
But when the time came for her to go again the long list of hotels
confused her. She did not know one from the other; she shrank from
experimenting; and, at least, she knew something about the Aurora
Borealis and she would not feel like an utter stranger there.
That was the only reason she went back there that time. And
the next time she came to town that was the principal reason she
returned to the Aurora Borealis. But the next time, she made up her
mind to go elsewhere; and in the roaring street she turned coward, and
went to the only place she knew. And the time after that she fought a
fierce little combat with herself all the way down in the train; and,
with flushed cheeks, hating herself, ordered the cabman to take her to
the Hotel Aurora Borealis.
But it was not until several trips after that oneon a rainy
morning in Maythat she found courage to say to the maid at the
Who is that young man? I always see him in the lobby when I
The maid cast an intelligent glance toward a tall, well-built young
fellow who stood pulling on his gloves near the desk.
Huh! she sniffed; he ain't much.
What do you mean? asked the girl.
Why, he's a capper, mem.
A cappera gambler.
The girl flushed scarlet. The maid handed her a check for her
rain-coat and said: They hang around swell hotels, they do, and pick
up acquaintance with likely looking and lonely boobs. Then the first
thing the lonely boob knows he's had a good dinner with a new
acquaintance and is strolling into a quiet but elegant looking house in
the West Forties or Fifties. And the maid laughed, continuing her deft
offices in the dressing-room, and the girl looked into the glass at her
own crimson cheeks and sickened eyes.
At luncheon he sat at a little table by a window, alone, indolently
preoccupied with a newspaper and a fruit salad. She, across the room,
kept her troubled eyes away. Yet it was as though she saw himperhaps
the mental embodiment of him was the more vivid for her resolutely
Every detail of his appearance was painfully familiar to herhis
dark eyes, his smooth face which always seemed a trifle sun-tanned, the
fastidious and perfect taste of his dress in harmony with his boyish
charm and quiet distinctionand the youth of himthe wholesome and
self-possessed youththat seemed to her the most dreadful thing about
him in the new light of her knowledge. For he could scarcely be
Every movement he made had long since fascinated her; his
unconscious grace had been, to her, the unstudied assurance of a man of
the world bred to a social environment about which she knew only
Never had she seen him but straightway she began to wonder who and
what exalted person in the unknown metropolitan social circle he might
She had often wondered, speculated; sometimes dreamily she had
endowed him with name and positionwith qualities, tooideal
qualities suggested by his air of personal distinctiondelightful
qualities suggested by his dark, pleasant eyes, and by the slight
suspicion of humour lurking so often on the edges of his smoothly
He was so clean-looking, so niceand he had the shoulders and the
hands and the features of good breeding! And, after allafter all, he
was a gambler!a derelict whose sinister living was gained by his
wits; a trailer and haunter and bleeder of men! Worsea decoy sent out
She had little appetite for luncheon; he seemed to have less. But
she remembered that she had never seen him eat very muchand never
drink anything stronger than tea.
At least, she thought with a mental quiver, he has that to his
The quiver surprised her; she was scarcely prepared for any emotion
concerning him except the natural shock of disillusion and the natural
pity of a young girl for anything ignoble and hopelessly unworthy.
Hopelessly? She wondered. Was it possible that God could ever find
the means of grace for such a man? It could be done, of course;
it were a sin for her to doubt it. Yet she could not see how.
Still, he was young enough to have parents living somewhere;
unmarred enough to invite confidence if he cared to. . . . And suddenly
it struck her that to invite confidence was part of his business; his
charm part of his terrible equipment.
She sat there breathing faster, thinking.
His charm was part of his equipmentan infernal weapon! She
understood it now. Long since, innocently speculating, she had from the
very beginning and without even thinking, conceded to him her
confidence in his worthiness. Andthe man was a gambler!
For a few moments she hated him hotly. After a while there was more
sorrow than heat in her hatred, more contempt for his profession than
for him. . . . And somebody had led him astray; that was
certain, because no man of his ageand appearancecould have
deliberately and of his own initiative gone so dreadfully and cruelly
wrong in the world.
Would God pity him? Would some means be found for his salvation?
Would salvation come? It must; she could not doubt itafter she had
lifted her eyes once more and looked at him where he sat immersed in
his newspaper, a pleasant smile on his lips.
A bar of sunlight fell across his head, striping his shoulder; the
scarlet flowers on the table were becoming to him. And, oh! he seemed
so harmlessso delightfully decent; there where the sunlight fell
across his shoulder and spread in a golden net across the white cloth
under his elbows.
She rose, curiously weary; a lassitude lay upon her as she left the
room and went out into the city about her businesswhich was to see
her lawyer concerning the few remaining details of her inheritance.
The inheritance was the big, prosperous Westchester farm where she
livedhad always lived with her grandfather since her parents' death.
It was turning out to be very valuable because of the mania of the
wealthy for Westchester acreage and a revival in a hundred villages of
the magnificence of the old Patroons.
Outside of her own house and farm she had land to sell to the landed
and republican gentry; and she sold it and they bought it with an
avidity that placed her financial independence beyond doubt.
All the morning she transacted business downtown with the lawyer. In
the afternoon she went to a matinée all by herself, and would have had
a most blissful day had it not been for the unquiet memory of a young
man who, she had learned that morning, was fairly certain of eternal
That evening she went back to Westchester absent-minded and
IT was in early June when she arrived in town again. He was in the
lobby as usual; he lunched at the table by the window as usual. There
seemed to be nothing changed about him except that he was a handsomer
man than she had supposed him.
She ate very little luncheon. As usual, he glanced at her oncea
perfectly pleasant and inoffensive glanceand resumed his luncheon and
his newspaper. He was always quiet, always alone. There seemed to be a
curious sort of stillness which radiated from him, laying a spell upon
his environment for a few paces on every side of him. She had felt
this; she felt it now.
Downtown her business was finally transacted; she went to a matinée
all by herself, and found herself staring beyond the painted curtain
and the mummersbeyond the bedizened sceneryout into the world
somewhere and into two dark, boyish eyes that looked so pleasantly back
at her. And suddenly her own eyes filled; she bent her head and touched
them with her handkerchief.
No, she must never again come to the Hotel Aurora Borealis. There
were reasons. Besides, it was no longer necessary for her to come to
town at all. She must not come any more. . . . And yet, if she
could only know what became of himwhether salvation ever found
The curtain fell; she rose and pinned on her hat, gathered her
trifles, and moved out with the others into the afternoon sunshine of
That evening she dined in her room. She had brought no luggage.
About ten o'clock the cab was announced.
As she walked through the nearly deserted lobby she looked around
for him. He stood near the door, talking to the hotel detective.
Halting a moment to button her gloves, she heard the detective say:
Never mind the whys and whats! You fade away! Understand?
By what authority do you forbid me entrance to this hotel? asked
the young man coolly.
Well, it's good enough for you that I tell you to keep out!
I can not comply with your suggestion. I have an appointment here
in half an hour.
Now you go along quietly, said the detective. We've had our eyes
on you. We know all about you. And when the hotel gets wise to a guy
like you we tip him off and he beats it!
We can discuss that to-morrow; I tell you I have an
G'wan out o' here! growled the detective.
The young man quietly fell into step beside him, but on the sidewalk
he turned on him, white and desperate.
I tell you I've got to keep that appointment. He stood
aside as the girl passed him, head lowered, and halted to wait for her
cab. I tell you I've got to go back
Here, you! The detective seized his arm as he attempted to pass;
the young man wheeled and flung him aside, and the next instant reeled
back as the detective struck him again with his billy, knocking him
halfway into the street.
You damned dead-beat! he panted, I'll show you!
The young man stood swaying, his hands against his head; porters,
cabmen, and the detective saw him stagger and fall heavily. And the
next moment the girl was kneeling beside him.
Let him alone, lady, said somebody. That bum isn't hurt.
The bum, in fact, was getting to his feet, groping for some
support; and the girl's arm was offered and he leaned on it a moment,
clearing his eyes with a gloved hand. Suddenly he made a movement so
quick that she never understood how she wrenched the short, dull-blue
weapon from his hand.
Pick up your hat! she gasped. Do what I tell you!
He looked at her, dazed, then the blood blotted his dark eyes again.
She stooped swiftly, caught up his hat, and, holding tightly to his
arm, opened the other door of the taxicab.
They'll kill you here, she whispered. Come with me. I've got to
talk to you!
Ladyare you crazy? demanded the tall head-porter, aghast.
But she had got him into the cab. Drive on, she said through
clenched teeth. And the chauffeur laughed and started east.
In the swaying cab the man beside her sat bent over, his face in his
hands, blood striping the fingers of his gloves. With a shudder she
placed the automatic weapon on the cushion beside her and shrank back,
staring at him.
But his senses seemed to be returning, for presently he sat up,
found his handkerchief, staunched the rather insignificant abrasion,
and settled back into his corner. Without looking at her he said:
Would you mind if I thank you? You have been very kind.
She could not utter a word.
Presently he turned; and as he looked at her for the first time a
faint flicker of humour seemed to touch his eyes.
Where are we goingif you don't mind? he said pleasantly.
Then the breathless words came, haltingly.
I've got to tell you something; I've got to! I can't stand
asideI can't pass by on the other side!
Thank you, he said, smiling, but Lazarus is all right now.
I meansomething else! Her voice fell to a whisper. I must
He looked pleasantly perplexed, smiling.
Is there anythingexcept a broken headthat could possibly permit
me the opportunity of listening to you?
Ihave seen you before.
And I you.
She leaned against her window, head resting on her hand, her heart a
Where are you going whenwhen I leave you? she said.
He did not answer.
Where? She turned to look at him. Are you going back to that
hotel? And, as he made no reply: Do you wish to become a murderer,
too? she said tremulously. I have your pistol. I ask you not to go
After a moment he said: No, I won't go back. . . . Where is the
You shall not have it.
I think perhaps it would be safer with me.
AndII ask you to keep away from that man! She grew
unconsciously dramatic. I ask youif you have any memory which you
hold sacredto promise me on that memory not toto
I won't shoot him, he said, watching her curiously. Is that what
Then I promiseon my most sacred memorythe memory of a young
girl who saved me from committingwhat I meant to do. . . . And I
thank her very deeply.
She said: I did save you fromthat!
You didGod knows. He himself was trembling a little; his face
had turned very white.
Thenthen she forced her couragelifted her frightened eyes,
braving mockery and misconstructionthenis there a chance of
For a moment her flushed face and timid question perplexed him; then
the quick blood reddened his face, and he stared at her in silence.
II can't help it, she faltered. I believe in youand
insalvation. . . . Please don't say anything tohurt me.
No, he said, still staring, no, of course not. Andand thank
you. You are very kind. . . . You are very kind. . . . I suppose
you heard somebody saywhat I am.
Yes. . . . But that was long ago.
Oh, you knewyou have knownfor some time?
He sat thinking for a while.
Presently they both noticed that the cab had stoppedhad probably
been standing for some time in front of the station; and that several
red-capped porters were watching them.
My name is Lily Hollis, she said, and I live at Whitebrook Farm,
Westchester. . . . I am not coming to New York againand never again
to that hotel. . . . But I would like to talk to youa little.
He thought a moment.
Do you want a gambler to call on you, Miss Hollis?
Yes, she said.
Then he will do it. When?
He passed his hand over his marred young face.
Yes, he said quietly, to-morrow.
He looked up and met her eyes, smiled, opened the door, and stepped
to the sidewalk. Then he went with her to her train. She turned at the
gates and held out her hand to him; and, hat in hand, he bent his
battered head and touched her gloves with twitching lips.
She said, wistfully: May I trust in you?
Yes. Tell me that you trust me.
I trust you, she said; and laid the pistol in his hands.
His face altered subtly. I did not mean in that way, he said.
How could I trust you more?
That is alesser trust, she said faintly. It is for you that I
have been afraid.
He saw the colour deepen in her cheeks, looked, bit his lip in
To-morrow? she said under her breath.
Good-bye till then.
THE next day he didn't appear, but a letter did.
I merely lied to you, he wrote. All gamblers are liars. You
should have passed by on the other side.
Yes, that is what she should have done; she realised it now alone
there in the sunny parlour with his letter.
There was no chance for him; or, if there was, she had not been
chosen as the instrument of his salvation.
Slowly she turned her head and looked around her at her
preparationsthe pitiful little preparations for himthe childish
stage setting for the scene of his salvation.
The spotless parlour had been re-dusted, cleaned, rubbed to its
old-time polish. Bible and prayer-book on the mahogany centre-table had
been arranged and re-arranged so many times that she no longer knew
whether or not her art concealed art, and was innocently fearful that
he might suspect the mise-en-scène and fight shy of her preparations
for his regeneration.
Again and again she had re-arranged the flowers and books and
rumpled the un-read morning newspaper to give to the scene a careless
and casual every-day allure; again and again she had straightened the
rugs, then tried them in less symmetrical fashion. She let the kitten
in to give a more home-like air to the room, but it squalled to go out,
and she had to release it.
Also, from the best spare room she had brought Holman Hunt's Shadow
of the Crossand it had taxed her slender strength to hang it in
place of the old French mezzotint of Bacchus and Ariadne.
But the most difficult task was to disseminate among the stiff
pieces of furniture and the four duplicate sofa cushions an atmosphere
of pleasant and casual disorderas though guests had left them where
they wereas though the rigid chairs were accustomed to much and
But the effect troubled her; every formal bit of furniture seemed to
be arranged as for an ambuscade; the cushions on the carved sofa sat in
a row, like dwarfs waiting; the secretary watched, every diamond pane a
glittering eye. And on the wall the four portraits of her parents and
grand-parents were behaving strangely, for she seemed never to be out
of range of their unwinking painted eyes.
From other rooms she had brought in ornaments, books, little odds
and endsand the unaccustomed concentration of household gods caused
her much doubt and uncertainty, so fearful was she that his wise dark
eyes might smilingly detect her effort.
There had been much to do in the short time pending his arrivalthe
gravel path to be raked, the lawn to be rolled and cut, the carefully
weeded flower beds to be searched for the tiniest spear of green which
did not belong there, the veranda to be swept again, and all the potted
plants to be re-arranged and the dead leaves and blossoms to be
Then there were great sheafs of iris to gather; and that, and the
cutting of peonies and June roses, were matters to go about with
thought and discretion, so that no unsightly spaces in bloom and
foliage should be apparent to those dark, wise eyes of his that had
looked on so many things in lifeso many, many things of which she
Also she was to offer him tea; and the baking of old-fashioned
biscuits and sweets was a matter for prayerful consideration. And
Hetty, the hired girl, had spent all the morning on her grand-mother's
silver, and William Pillsbury, executor of chores, had washed the
doorstep and polished the windows and swept the maple-pods and poplar
silk from the roof-gutters, and was now down on his knees with shears,
trimming the grass under the picket-fence.
And he was not coming after all. He was never coming.
For a little while she failed to realise it; there was a numb
sensation in her breast, a dull confusion in her mind. She sat alone in
the parlour, in her pretty new gown, looking straight ahead of her,
seeing nothingnot even his letter in her hand.
And she sat there for a long while; the numbness became painful; the
tension a dull endurance. Fatigue came, too; she rested her head
wearily on the back of the chair and closed her eyes. But the tall
clocks ticking slowly became unendurableand the odour of the roses
Suddenly, through and through her shot a pang of fright; she had
just remembered that she had given him back his pistol.
On her feet now, startled as though listening, she stood, lips
slightly parted, and the soft colour gone from them. Then she went to
the window and looked down the road; and came back to stand by the
centre-table, her clasped hands resting on the Bible.
For a while fear had its way with her; the silent shock of it
whitened her face and left her with fair head bowed above her clasped
Once or twice she opened the Bible and tried to understand, choosing
what she cared for mostreading of Lazarus, too. And she read about
miraclesthose symbolic superfluities attributed to a life which in
itself was the greatest of all miracles.
And ever through the word of God glittered the memory of the pistol
till fear made her faint, and she rose, her hands against her breast,
and walked unsteadily out under the trees.
A bird or two had begun its sunset carol; the tree-trunks were
stained with the level crimson light. Far away her gaze rested on the
blue hills. Beyond them lay the accursed city.
The dull reiteration in her brain throbbed on unceasingly; she had
given him his pistol; he had lied to her; she had trusted him; he had
lied; and the accursed city lay beyond those hillsand he was
therewith his pistol; and he had lied to herlied! lied! God help
Across her clover fields the ruddy sunlight lay in broad undulating
bands, gilding blossom and curling trefoil. On every side of her the
farm stretched away over a rolling country set with woods; sweet came
the freshening air from the hills; she heard her collie barking at the
cattle along the pasture brook; a robin carolled loudly from the
orchard; orioles answered; gusts of twittering martins swept and soared
and circled the chimneys.
Erect, anguished hands clenched, she stood there, wide eyes seeing
nothing, and in her shrinking ears only the terrible reiteration of her
Then the level sun struck her body with a bar of light; all the
world around her smouldered rose and crimson. But after a little the
shadows fell through the fading light; and she turned her head,
shivering, and went back to the houseback to the room she had
prepared for him, and sat there watching the shapes of dusk invade it;
the vague grey ghosts that came crawling from corners and alcoves to
gather at her feet and wait and wait there with her for him who would
never come into her life again.
She lifted her head from the sofa cushion in the dark, dazzled by
the sudden lamp-light.
What is it? she asked, averting her face.
There's a gentleman says he'd like to see you
The girl turned, still dully confused; then, rigid, sat bolt
A gentlemansaid you don't know his name. Shall I show him in?
She managed to nod; her heart was beating so violently that she
pressed her hand over it.
He saw her sitting that way when he entered.
She did not rise; pain and happiness, mingled, confusing her for a
moment; and he was already seated near her, looking at her with an
intentness almost expressionless.
You see, he said, what the honour of a gambler is worth. I have
lied to you twice already.
His words brought her to her senses. She rose with an effort and, as
he stood up, she gave him her hand.
Don't think me rude, she said. I was restingnot expecting
youand the lamp andyour comingconfused me.
You were not expecting me, he said, retaining her hand an instant.
Then she withdrew it; they seated themselves.
I don't know, she said, perhaps I was expecting youand didn't
Had you thoughtmuch about it?
Yes, she said.
Then it seemed as though something sealed her lips, and that nothing
could ever again unseal them. All that she had to say to him vanished
from her mind; she could not recall a single phrase she had prepared to
lead up to all she must somehow say to him.
He talked quietly to her for a while about nothing in particular.
Once she saw him turn and look around the room; and a moment afterward
he spoke of the old-time charm of the place and the pretty setting such
a room made for the old-fashioned flowers.
He spoke about gardens as though he had known many; he spoke of
trees and of land and of stock; and, as he spoke in his pleasant, grave
young voice, he noticed the portraits on the wall; and he spoke of
pictures as though he had known many, and he spoke of foreign cities,
and of old-world scenes. And she listened in silence and in such
content that the happiness of it seemed to invade her utterly and leave
her physically numb.
From time to time his dark eyes wandered from her to the objects in
the room; they rested for a moment on the centre-table with its Book,
lingered, passed on. For a little while he did not look at heras
though first it were necessary to come to a conclusion. Whatever the
conclusion might have been, it seemed to make his eyes and mouth
alternately grave and amusedbut only very faintly amusedas though
the subject he was considering held him closely attentive.
And at last he looked up at her, gently, not all the curiosity yet
You are kind enough to wish to know about me; and too well bred to
asknow that the time is come. Shall I speak of myself?
Her voiceless lips found a word.
ThenIt began in collegeafter my uncle died and left
nothing for me to go on with. . . . I worked my way throughby my
wits. . . . Up to that time it was only luck and card-senseand luck
againthe ability to hold the best cards at the best timehold them
honestly, I mean. It happensI don't know why or what laws govern it.
Some men hold themalways hold themwith intervals of bad
fortunebut only intervals.
He gazed thoughtfully at the rag carpet, passed a well-shaped hand
over his forehead.
Yes, it is the truth. . . . And so, Fortune linked arms with me . .
. and I drifted into itgraduallynot all at once . . . loweralways
a little loweruntilwhat you saw occurred.
She would not meet his eyes, perhaps with an idea of sparing him.
He said: You know nothing of such things, of course. . . . I amon
a commission basis for doing whatthey threw me out of that hotel for
doing. . . . Of course, a man can fall lowerbut not much lower. . . .
The business from which I receive commissions is not honesta square
game, as they say. Some games may be square for a while; no games are
perfectly square all the time. . . . I have heard of honest gamblers; I
never saw one. . . . There may be some; but I'm afraid they're like
good Indians. . . . And that is the way in which Life and I are
After a while she managed to look at him.
Could you tell meare youyour circumstances
I am not in want, he said gently.
Then it is notnot necessity
No. It is easier and more interesting than for me to earn a decent
Is that the only reason?
Yes, I think so.
Have you noregrets?
Sometimes. . . . I am not immune to shame. . . . I wonder whether
you know what it cost me to come here.
A dull flush mounted to his forehead, but he faced her steadily
You saw me kicked out of a hotel by an Irish servant because I was
not fit to be tolerated among reputable people. . . . And you did not
pass by on the other side. . . . Under your clear eyes my spirit died a
thousand shameful deaths while I went with you to your destination. . .
. The contempt of the whole world burnt me; and your compassion drove
every flame into me He checked himself, swallowed, forced a smile,
and went on in his low, pleasant voice: I am afraid I have been
dramatic. . . . All I meant to say is that my humiliation, witnessed by
you, is a heavier price to paya more painful reckoning with Fate,
than I had really ever looked for.
II had no contempt for you, she faltered.
You could not escape it; but it is kind of you to say that.
You don't understand. I had no contempt. I wasitthe dread of
harm to youfrightened me. . . . And afterward I was only so sorry for
youand wanted toto help
He nodded. The larger charity, he said. You may read all about it
there in that Bible, butthe world takes it out in reading about it. .
. . I do not mean to speak bitterly. . . . There is nothing wrong with
me as far as the world goesI mean my world. . . . Onlyin the
other and real world there isyou. . . . You, who did not pass by on
the other side; and to whom the Scriptures there are merely the manual
which you practicefor the sake of Christ.
You think me betterfar better than I am.
I know what you are. I know what it cost you to even let me lean on
you, there in the glare of the electric lightthere where men stood
leering and sneering and misjudging you!and my blood on your pretty
OhI did not thinkcare about thator the men
You cared about them. It is a growing torture to you. Even in the
generous flush of mercy you thought of it; you said you would never go
back to that hotel. I knew why you said it. I knew what, even then, you
sufferedwhat of fear and shame and outraged modesty. I know what you
stood for, there in the street with a half-senseless crook hanging to
your armtugging for a weapon which would have sent two more mongrels
You shall not say that! she cried, white and trembling. You did
not know what you were doing
He interrupted: 'For they know not what they do.' . . . You are
right. . . . We don't really know, any of us. But few, except such as
you, believe itfew except such as youand the Master who taught you.
. . . And that is all, I think. . . . I can't thank you; I can't even
try. . . . It is too close to melodrama nownot on your side, dear
He turned unconsciously and looked through the windows into the
Iwant you to stay, she said.
He turned and bent toward her with his youthful and engaging manner.
It is sweet and good of you; but you know it is best that I go.
Becauseit might be that some of your friends would know me. . . .
It is for your sake I am going.
I wish you to stay.
I know it. It makes me wonderfully happy.
I must not.
What are you going to do in the city?
There was a silence; then: The same? she faltered.
I am afraid so.
What else is there?
Everything. . . . And Iask it of you.
He looked at her with troubled eyes.
I'm afraid you don't know what you are asking
I do know! I askyour soul of God!
For a long while he stood there as though turned to stone. Then, as
though rousing from a dream, he walked slowly to the window, looked
long into the south. At last he turned.
She sat on the edge of the sofa, her face in her hands, deathly
Tell me, she whispered, not looking up as he bent over her.
About that matter of a stray soul? he said pleasantly. It's all
rightif you care tobother with it. . . .
Her hands dropped, and when she looked up he saw the tears standing
in her grey eyes.
Do you mean it? she asked, trembling.
God knows what I mean, he said unsteadily; and I shall never know
unless you tell me.
And he sat down beside her, resting his elbows on his knees and his
head between his hands, wondering what he could do with life and with
the young soul already in his dark keeping. And, after a while, the
anxiety of responsibility, being totally new, wearied him; perplexed,
he lifted his head, seeking her eyes; and saw the compassion in her
face and the slow smile trembling on her lips. And suddenly he
understood which of them was better fitted for a keeper of souls.
Will you be patient? he said.
Can you ask?
He shook his head, looking vacantly at the lamp-light.
Because I've gone all wrong somehow . . . since I was a boy. . . .
You will be patient with mewon't you?
Yes, she said.
In all Romances
And poet's fancies
Where Cupid prances,
Embowered in flowers,
The tale advances
That check love's chances
Through tragic hours.
The reader's doleful now,
The lover's soulful now,
At least a bowlful now
Of tears are poured.
The villain makes a hit,
The reader throws a fit,
The author grins a bit
And draws his sword!
Strikes down Fate's lances,
And deftly cans his
'Mid ardent glances
And lover's trances
And wedding dances