The Indifference of Juliet
by Grace S. Richmond
WITH A CHAPERON
IV.—THE COST OF
IX.—A BISHOP AND
BACHELOR BEGS A
APRIL STARS ARE
OF A KIND
ARE AT HOME
PAYS A CALL
[Illustration: The rich voice of the bishop was as impressive as it
had ever been. (See page 77)]
HORATIO MARCY, an elderly New Englander of some wealth.
ANTHONY ROBESON, the last young male representative of the Kentucky
ROBESONS, now making his own way in Massachusetts.
WAYNE CAREY, Robeson's former college chum, an office clerk on a
DR. ROGER WILLIAMS BARNES, a surgeon.
LOUIS LOCKWOOD, an attorney-at-law.
STEVENS CATHCART, an architect.
MRS. DINGLEY, sister of Horatio Marcy.
JULIET MARCY, daughter of Horatio Marcy.
JUDITH DEARBORN, Juliet's friend since school-days.
SUZANNE GERARD, MARIE DRESSER, other friends of Juliet.
RACHEL REDDING, a poor country girlof education.
MARY MCKAIMin the background, but valuable.
THE INDIFFERENCE OF JULIET
I.AN AUDACIOUS PROPOSITION
Anthony Robeson glanced about him in a satisfied way at the shaded
nook under the low-hanging boughs into which he had guided the boat.
Then he drew in his oars and let the little craft drift.
This is an ideal spot, said he, looking into his friend's face,
in which to tell you a rather interesting piece of news.
Oh, fine! cried his friend, settling herself among the cushions in
the stern and tilting back her parasol so that the light through its
white expanse framed her health-tinted face in a sort of glory. Tell
me at once. I suspected you came with something on your mind. There
couldn't be a lovelier place on the river than this for confidences.
But I can guess yours. Tony, you've found 'her'!
And you'll be my friend just the same? questioned Anthony
anxiously. My chummy confidante?
Oh, well, Tony, that's absurd, declared Juliet Marcy severely. As
if she would allow it!
She's three thousand miles away.
I'm ashamed of you!
Just in the interval, then, pleaded Anthony. I need you now worse
than ever. For I've a tremendous responsibility on my hands.
Thetheyou knowis to come off in September, and this is Juneand
I've a house to furnish. Will you help me do it, Juliet?
Anthony Robeson! she said explosively under her breath,
with a laugh. Then she sat up and leaned forward with a commanding
gesture. Tell me all about it. What is her name and who is she? Where
did you meet her? Are you very much
Would I marry a girl if I were not 'very much'? demanded Anthony.
WellI'll tell yousince you insist on these non-essentials before
you really come down to business. Her name is Eleanor Langham, and she
lives in San Francisco. Her family is old, aristocratic, wealthyyet
she condescends to me.
He looked up keenly into her eyes, and her brown lashes fell for an
instant before something in his glance, but she said quickly: Go on.
When theaffairis over I want to bring my bride straight home,
Anthony proceeded, with a tinge of colour in his smooth, clear cheek.
I shall have no vacation to speak of at that time of year, and no time
to spend in furnishing a house. Yet I want it all ready for her. So you
see I need a friend. I shall have two weeks to spare in July, and if
you would help me
But, Tony, she interrupted, how could I? Ifif we were seen
No, we couldn't go shopping together in New York without being
liable to run into a wondering crowd of friends, of coursenot in the
places where you would want to go. But here you are only a couple of
hours from Boston; you will be here all summer; you and Mrs. Dingley
and I could run into Boston for a day at a time without anybody's being
the wiser. I knowthat isI'm confident Mrs. Dingley would do it for
Oh, of course. Did Auntie ever deny you anything since the days
when she used to give you jam as often as you came across to play with
Have you her photograph? inquired Miss Marcy with an
emphasis which left no possible doubt as to whose photograph she meant.
I expected that, said Anthony gravely. I expected it even sooner.
But I am prepared.
She sat watching him curiously as he slowly drew from his
breast-pocket a tiny leather case, and gazed at it precisely as a lover
might be expected to gaze at his lady's image before jealously
surrendering it into other hands. She had never seen Anthony Robeson
look at any photograph except her own with just that expression. She
had often wondered if he ever would. She had recommended this course of
procedure to him many times, usually after once more gently refusing to
marry him. She had begun at last to doubt whether it would ever be
possible to divert Tony's mind from its long-sought object. But that
trip to San Francisco, and the months he had spent there in the
interests of the firm he served, had evidently brought about the
desired change. She had not seen him since his return until to-day,
when he had run up into the country where was the Marcy summer home, to
tell her, as she now understood, his news and to make his somewhat
She accepted the photograph with a smile, and studied it with
Oh, but isn't she pretty? she cried warmlyand generously, for
she was thinking as she looked how much prettier was Miss Langham than
Isn't she? agreed Anthony with enthusiasm.
Lovely. What eyes! And what a dear mouth!
She looks clever, too.
How tall is she?
About up to my shoulder.
She's little, then.
Well, I don't know, objected Anthony, surveying his own stalwart
length of limb. A girl doesn't have to be a dwarf not to be on a level
with me. I should say she must be somewhere near your height.
What a magnificent dresser!
Is she? She never irritates one with the fact.
Oh, but I can see. And she's going to marry you. Tony, what can you
A little box of a house, one maidservant, an occasional trip into
town, four new frocks a yearmoderate ones, you know, in keeping with
her circumstancesand my name, replied Anthony composedly.
You won't let her live in town, then?
Let her! Good heavens, what sort of a place could I give her in
town on my salary? Now, in the very rural suburb I've picked out she
can live in the greatest comfort, and we can have a real
homesomething I haven't had since Dad died and the old home and the
money and all the rest of it went.
His face was grave now, and he was staring down into the water as if
he saw there both what he had lost and what he hoped to gain.
Yes, said Juliet sympathetically, though she did not know how to
imagine the girl whose photograph she held in the surroundings Anthony
suggested. Presently she went on in her gentlest tone: I'm not saying
that the name isn't a proud one to offer her, Tonyand if she is
willing to share your altered fortunes I've no doubt she will be happy.
Along with your name you'll give her a heart worth having.
Thank you, said Anthony without looking up.
Miss Marcy coloured slightly, and hastened to supplement this speech
The question issince the home is to be herswhy not let her
furnish it? Her tastes and mine might not agree. Besides
Whyyou know, Tony, explained Juliet in some confusion, I
shouldn't know how to be economical.
I'm aware that you haven't been brought up on the most economical
basis, Anthony acknowledged frankly. But I'll take care of my funds,
no matter how extravagant you are inclined to be. If I should hand you
five dollars and say, 'Buy a dining-table,' you could do it, couldn't
you? You couldn't satisfy your ideals, of course, but you could give me
the benefit of your discriminating choice within the five-dollar
Juliet laughed, but in her eyes there grew nevertheless a look of
doubt. Tony, she demanded, how much have you to spend on the
furnishing of that house?
Just five hundred dollars, said Anthony concisely. And that must
cover the repairing and painting of the outside. Really, Juliet,
haven't I done fairly well to save up that and the cost of the house
and lotfor a fellow who till five years ago never did a thing for
himself and never expected to need to? Yes, I knowthe piano in your
music-room cost twice that, and so did the horses you drive, and a very
few of your pretty gowns would swallow another five. But Mrs. Anthony
Robeson will have to chasten her ideas a trifle. Do you know, JulietI
think she willfor love of me?
He was smiling at his own audacious confidence. Juliet attempted no
reply to this very unanswerable statement. She studied the photograph
in silence, and he lay watching her. In her blue-and-white boating suit
she was a pleasant object to look at.
Will you help me? he asked again at length. I'm more anxious than
I can tell you to have everything ready.
I shouldn't like to fail you, Tony, since you really wish it,
though I'm very sure you'll find me a poor adviser. But you haven't
been a brother to me since the mud-pie days for nothing, and if I can
help you with suggestions as to colour and style I'll be glad to.
Though I shall all the while be trying to live up to this photograph,
and that will be a little hard on the five-dollar-dining-table scale.
You've only to look out that everything is in good taste, said
Anthony quietly, and that you can't help doing. My wife will thank
you, and the new home will be sweet to her because of you. It surely
will to me.
It was on the first day of Robeson's two-weeks' July vacation that
he came to take Juliet Marcy and her aunt, Mrs. Dingley, who had long
stood to her in the place of the mother she had early lost, to see the
home he had bought in a remote suburb of a great city. It was a
three-hours' journey from the Marcy country place, but he had insisted
that Juliet could not furnish the house intelligently until she had
studied it in detail.
So at eleven o'clock of a hot July morning Miss Marcy found herself
surveying from the roadway a small, old-fashioned white house, with
green blinds shading its odd, small-paned windows; a very box of a
house, as Anthony had said, set well back from the quiet street and
surrounded by untrimmed trees and overgrown shrubbery. The whole place
had a neglected appearance. Even the luxuriant climbing-rose, which did
its best to hide the worn white paint of the house-front, served to
intensify the look of decay.
Charming, isn't it? asked Robeson with the air of the delighted
proprietor. Of course everything looks gone to seed, but paint and a
lawn-mower and a few other things will make another place of it. It's
good old colonial, that's sure, and only needs a bit of fixing up to be
quite correct, architecturally, small as it is.
He led the way up the weedy path, Mrs. Dingley and Juliet exchanging
amused glances behind his back. He opened the doors with a flourish and
waved the ladies in. They entered with close-held skirts and noses
involuntarily sniffing at the musty air. Anthony ran around opening
windows and explaining the points of the house. When they had been
over it Mrs. Dingley, warm and weary, subsided upon the door-step,
while Juliet and Anthony fell to discussing the possibilities of the
You see, said Anthony, mopping his heated brow, it isn't like
having big, high rooms to decorate. These little rooms,he put up his
hand and succeeded, from his fine height, in touching the ceiling of
the lower front room in which they stoodwon't stand anything but the
most simple treatment, and expensive papers and upholsteries would be
out of place. It will take only very small rugs to suit the floors. The
main thing for you to think of will be colours and effects. You'll find
five hundred dollars will go a long way, even after the repairs and
outside painting are disposed of.
He looked so appealing that Juliet could but answer heartily: Yes,
I'm sure of it. And now, Tony, don't you think you'd better draw a plan
of the house, putting in all the measurements, so we shall know just
how to go to work? And I will go around and dream a while in each room.
Give me the photograph, you devoted lover, so I can plan things to suit
Anthony laughed and put his hand into his breast-pocket. But he drew
it out empty.
WhyI've left it behind, he admitted in some embarrassment. I
really thought I had it.
Oh, Tony! And on this very trip when we needed it most! How could
you leave it behind? Don't you always carry it next your heart?
Is that the prescribed place?
Certainly. I should doubt a man's love if he did not constantly
wear my likeness right where it could feel his heart beating for me.
Now I never supposed, remarked Anthony, considering her
attentively, that you had so much romance about you. Do you realise
that for an extremely practical young person such as you
havemostlyappeared to be, that is a particularly sentimental
suggestion? Ershould you wear his in the same way, may I inquire?
Of course, returned Juliet with defiance in her eyes, whose
lashes, when they fell at length before his steadily interested gaze,
swept a daintily colouring cheek.
Have you ever worn one? inquired this hardy young man, nothing
daunted by these signs of righteous indignation. But all he got for
answer was a vigorous:
You absurd boy! Now go to work at your measurements. I'm going
upstairs. There's one room up there, the one with the gable corners and
the little bits of windows, that's perfectly fascinating. It must be
done in Delft blue and white. Since I haven't the photographshe
turned on the threshold to smile roguishly back at himmemory must
serve. Beautiful dark hair; eyes like a Madonna's; a perfect nose; the
dearest mouth in the worldoh, yes
She vanished around the corner only to put her head in again with
the air of one who fires a parting shot at a discomfited enemy: But,
Tonydo you honestly think the house is large enough for such a queen
of a woman? Won't her throne take up the whole of the first floor?
Then she was gone up the diminutive staircase, and her light
footsteps could be heard on the bare floors overhead. Left alone,
Anthony Robeson stood still for a moment looking fixedly at the door by
which she had gone. The smile with which he had answered her gay fling
had faded; his eyes had grown dark with a singular fire; his hands were
clenched. Suddenly he strode across the floor and stopped by the door.
He was looking down at the quaint old latch which served instead of a
knob. Then, with a glance at the unconscious back of Mrs. Dingley,
sitting sleepily on the little porch outside, he stooped and pressed
his lips upon the iron where Juliet's hand had lain.
III.SHOPPING WITH A CHAPERON
Five hundred dollars, mused Miss Marcy, on the Boston train next
morning. Six roomsliving-room, dining-room, kitchen, and three
You forget, warned Anthony Robeson from the seat where he faced
Juliet and Mrs. Dingley. That must cover the outside painting and
repairs. You can't figure on having more than three hundred dollars
left for the inside.
Dear me, yes, frowned Juliet. She held Anthony's plan in her hand,
and her tablets and pencil lay in her lap. Well, I can spend fifty
dollars on each roomonly some will need more than others. The
living-room will take the mostno, the dining-room.
The kitchen will take the most, suggested Mrs. Dingley. Your
range will use up the most of your fifty. And kitchen utensils count up
It will be a very small range, Anthony said. A little toy stove
would be more practical for ourthe kitchen. How big is it, Juliet?
'Ten by fourteen,' read Juliet. From the centre of the room you
can hit all the side walls with the broom. Speaking of walls,
Tonythose must be our first consideration. If we get our colour
scheme right everything else will follow. I have it all in my head.
So it proved. But it also proved, when they had been hard at work
for an hour at a well-known decorator's, that the tints and designs for
which Miss Marcy asked were not readily to be found in the low-priced
wall-papers to which Anthony rigidly held her.
I must have the softest, most restful greens for the living-room,
she announced. Therethat
But that is a dollar a roll, whispered Anthony.
But for that little room, Tony
Twenty-five cents a roll is all we can allow, insisted Anthony
firmly. And less than that everywhere else.
The salesman was very obliging, and showed the best things possible
for the money. It was impossible to resist the appeal in the eyes of
this critical but restricted young buyer.
There, that will do, I think, said Juliet at length, with a long
breath. The green for the living-room and for the bit of a hallNo,
no, Tony; I've just thought! You must take away that little partition
and let the stairs go up out of the living-room. That will improve the
apparent size of things wonderfully.
All right, agreed Anthony obediently.
Then we'll put that rich red in the dining-room. For upstairs there
is the tiny rose pattern, and the Delft blue, and that little pale
yellow and white stripe. In the kitchen we'll have the tile pattern. We
won't have a border anywherethe rooms are too low; just those
simplest mouldings, and the ivory white on the ceilings. The woodwork
must all be white. There now, that's settled. Next come the floors.
There could be no doubt that Juliet was becoming interested in her
task. Though the July heat was intense she led the way with rapid steps
to the place where she meant to select her rugs. Here the three spent a
trying two hours. It was hard to please Miss Marcy with Japanese jute
rugs, satisfactory in colouring though many of them were, when she
longed to buy Persian pieces of distinction. If Juliet had a special
weakness it was for choice antique rugs.
She cornered Anthony at last, while Mrs. Dingley and the salesman
were politely but unequivocally disputing over the quality of a certain
piece of Chinese weaving.
Tony, she begged, please let me get that one dear Turkish square
for the living-room. It will give character to the whole room, and the
colours are perfectly exquisite. I simply can't get one of those cheap
things to go in front of that beautiful old fireplace. Imagine the
firelight on that square; it would make you want to spend your evenings
at home. Please!
Do you imagine that I shall ever want to spend them anywhere else?
asked Tony softly, looking down into her appealing face. Why, chum,
I'd like to get that Tabriz you admire so much, if it would please you,
in spite of the fact that we should have to pull the whole house up
forty notches to match it. But even the Turkish square is out of the
But, TonyJuliet was whispering now with her head a little bent
and her eyes on the lapel of his coatwon't you let me do it as
mymy contribution? I'd like to put something of my own into your
You dear little girl, Anthony answeredand possibly for her own
peace of mind it was fortunate that Miss Langham, of California, could
not see the look with which he regarded Miss Marcy, of
MassachusettsI'm sure you would. And you are putting into it just
what is priceless to meyour individuality and your perfect taste. But
I can't let even you help furnish that house. Shemust take what
Iand only Ican give her.
You're perfectly ridiculous, murmured Juliet, turning away with an
expression of deep displeasure. As if she wouldn't bring all sorts of
elegant stuff with her, and make your cheap things look insignificant.
I don't think she will, returned Anthony with conviction. She'll
bring nothing out of keeping with the house.
I thought you told me she was of a wealthy family.
She is. But if she marries me she leaves all that behind. I'll have
no wife on any other basis.
Wellfor a son of the Robesons of Kentucky you are absolutely the
most absurd boy anybody ever heard of, declared the girl hotly under
her breath. Then she walked over and ordered a certain inexpensive rug
for the living-room with the air of a princess and the cheeks of a
IV.THE COST OF FROCKS
It may have been that Miss Marcy was piqued into trying to see how
little she could spend, but certain it was that from the time she left
the carpet shop she begged for no exceptions to Mr. Robeson's rule of
strict economy. She selected simple, delicate muslins for the windows,
one and all, without a glance at finer draperies; bought denims and
printed stuffs as if she had never heard of costlier upholsteries; and
turned away from seductive pieces of Turkish and Indian embroideries
offered for her inspection with a demure, No, I don't care to look at
those now, which more than once brought a covert smile to Anthony's
lips and a twinkle to the eyes of the salesman. It was so very evident
that the fair buyer did not pass them by for lack of interest.
Altogether, it was an interesting week these three people spentfor
a week it took. Anthony began to protest after the first two days, and
said he could not ask so much of his friends. But Juliet would not be
hindered from taking infinite pains, and Mrs. Dingley good humouredly
lent the two her chaperonage and her occasional counsel, such as only
the gray-haired matron of long housewifely experience can furnish.
The selection of the furniture took perhaps the most time, and was
the hardest, because of the difficulty of finding good styles in
keeping with the limited purse. Anthony possessed a number of good
pieces of antique character, but beyond these everything was to be
purchased. Juliet turned in despair from one shop after another, and
when it came to the fitting of the dining-room she grew distinctly
It's a perfect shame, she said, that they can't offer really good
designs in the cheap things. Did you ever see anything so hideous?
Tony, if I were you I'd rather eat my breakfast off one of those white
She broke off suddenly, rushed away down the long room to a group of
chastely elegant dining-room furniture and came back after a little
with a face of great eagerness to drag her companions away with her.
She took them to survey a set of the costliest of all.
Have you gone crazy? Anthony inquired.
Not at all. Tony, just study that table. It's massive, but it's
simplesimple as beauty always is. Look at those perfectly straight
legswhat clever cabinet maker couldn't copy that inin ash, Tony?
Then there are stainsI've heard of themthat rub into wood and then
finish in some way so it's smooth and satiny. You could do thatI'm
sure you could. Then you'd get the lovely big top you want. And the
chairsdo you see the plain, solid-looking things? I know they could
be made this way. Then the dining-room would be simply dear!
* * * * *
Juliet, you're coming on, declared Anthony with satisfaction that
evening as the two, back at the Marcy country place, strolled slowly
over the lawn toward the river edge. At this rate you'll do for a poor
man's wife yourself some day. That frock you have on nowisn't that a
sort of concession to the humble company you're in?
In what way? Juliet glanced down at the pale-green gown whose
delicate skirts she was daintily lifting, and in which she looked like
a flower in its calyx. She had rejoiced to exchange the dusty dress in
which she had come home from town for this, which suggested coolness in
each fresh fold.
Why, it strikes me as about the simplest dress I ever saw you wear.
Isn't it reallywellthe least expensive thing you have had in that
line in some time?
The amused laugh with which this observation was greeted might have
been disconcerting to anybody but Anthony Robeson, but he maintained
his ground with calmness.
How many of these do you think you can furnish Mrs. Anthony with in
a year? Juliet inquired, her lips forcing themselves to soberness, but
the laughter lingering in her eyes.
Several, as girlishly demure as that, I fancy, asserted the young
man with confidence.
But Juliet's momentary gravity broke down. Oh, you clever boy! she
said. I shall advise Mrs. Anthony to send you shopping for her when
she needs a new frock. You will order home just what she wants without
stopping to ask the price, you will be so confident that you know a
cheap thing when you see it. Afterward you will pay the billand then
the awful frown on your brow! You will have to live on bread and milk
for a month to get your accounts straightened out. Oh, Tony!No, I
shouldn't do for a poor man's wifenot judging by this 'girlishly
demure' gown, you poor lamb.But, Tony, with a swift change of
manner, I do think the little house will be very charming indeed. I
can hardly wait to know that the painting and papering are done, so
that we can go down and get things in order. I long to arrange those
fascinating new tin things in that bit of a cupboard. Tonyturning to
him solemnlydoes she know how to cook?
I think she is learning now, he assured her. Seems to me she
mentioned it in to-day's He fumbled in his breast-pocket and
brought out a letter.
Juliet stole an interested glance at it. She observed that there
were three closely written sheets of the heavy linen paper, and that
the handwriting was one suggestive of a pleasing individuality.
Anthony, in the dim twilight, was scanning page after page in a lover's
absorbed way. Juliet walked along by his side in silence. She was
thinking of the face in the photograph, and wondering if Miss Eleanor
Langham really loved Anthony Robeson as he deserved to be loved.
For he is a dear, dear fellow, she said to herself, and if she
could just see him planning so enthusiastically for her comfort, even
if he does have to economise, she'd
No, it's not in this letter, observed Anthony, putting the sheets
together with a lingering touch which did not escape his companion's
quick eyes. It must have been in yesterday's.
Does she write every day?
Did you ever hear of an engaged pair who didn't write every day?
It must take a good deal of your time, she remarked. But, of
course, she can cook. Every sane girl takes a cooking-school course
nowadays. It's as essential as French.
You did, then?
Of course. Don't you remember when I used to edify you with new and
wonderful dishes every time you dropped in to luncheon?
But did you learn the more important things?
I paid especial attention to soups, sir, laughed Juliet. Now, if
Mrs. Anthony has done that you can live very economically.
I'll suggest it to her, said Anthony gravely.
V.MUSLINS AND TACKHAMMERS
It took several trips to the small house, and a great deal of
hemming and ruffling of muslin on the part of Juliet and the Marcy
sewing-woman, to say nothing of many days of Anthony's hard labour, to
get everything in place. But it was all done at length, and the hour
arrived to close the new home and leave it to wait the oncoming day in
September when it should be permanently opened.
I'll just go over it once more, said Juliet to Mrs. Dingley. The
latter lady was lying in a hammock out under the apple trees, waiting
for train time and her final release from duties which were becoming
decidedly wearisome. It was the first day of August, and the evening
was a warm one. Anthony had gone off upon a last errand of some sort.
Mrs. Dingley was too exhausted to offer to accompany her niece, and
Juliet ran back into the house alone. She wandered slowly through the
rooms, looking about to see if there might be any perfecting touch
which she could add.
It was a charming place; even a daughter of the house of Marcy could
but own to that. Under her skilful management the little rooms had
blossomed into a fresh, satisfying beauty that needed only the addition
of the personal adornment which Anthony's bride would be sure to bring,
to become a homethe home not only of a poor man but of a refined and
cultured one as well. Restricted though she had been to the most
inexpensive means of bringing about this happy result, Juliet had made
them all tell toward an effect of great harmony and beauty. Perhaps to
nobody was this more of a revelation than to the girl herself.
She was very proud of the living-room, as she looked about it. The
partition between it and the tiny hall had been removed, according to
her suggestion, and the straight staircase altered by means of a
landing and an abrupt turn which transformed it into picturesqueness.
With its low, broad steps, its slender spindles and odd posts, it added
much to the character of the room.
Like most old New England houses, this one's chief glory was its
great central chimney, with big fireplaces opening both into the
living-room and the dining-room. In the former, between the fireplace
and the staircase, and forming a suggestion of an inglenook, Juliet had
contrived a high, wide seat, cushioned in dull green, and boasting a
number of pretty pillows. It must be confessed that she had
surreptitiously added a little to these in the matter of certain
modestly rich bits of material, and she contemplated the result with
great satisfaction. It may be remarked, with no comment whatever, that
in spite of their beauty there was not a pillow of all those scattered
about the house which a weary man might not tuck under his head without
fear of ruining a creation too delicate for any use but to be admired.
Having seized upon the idea of staining cheap material, she had
carried it out in a set of low bookcases across the end and one side of
the room. These awaited the coming of the several hundreds of choice
books which Anthony had saved from his father's library. Two fine old
portraits, dear to the hearts of many generations of the Robesons of
Kentucky, lent distinction to the home of their young descendant.
Altogether the room was both quaint and artistic, and with its few
plain chairs and tables, mostly heirlooms, and all of good old colonial
design, was a room in which one could readily imagine one's self
sitting down to a winter evening of cosy comfort, such as is not always
to be had in far finer abiding-places.
The dining-room was a study in its reds and browns, and its
home-made furniture was an astonishing successif one were not too
severely critical. As she surveyed it Juliet seemed to see the future
master and mistress of this little home sitting down opposite each
other in the fireglow, and smiling across.
The coming Mrs. Robeson, if one might judge by her photograph, was a
woman to lend grace and dignity to her surroundings, whatever they
might be. Juliet could imagine her pretty, stately way of presiding at
such small feasts as the room was destined to see, making her guests
quite forget that she was not mistress of a mansion equal to any in the
land. Would she be happy? Could she be happy here, after all that she
had had of another and very different sort of life? For some reason, as
Juliet stood and looked and thought, her face grew very sober, and a
long-drawn breath escaped her lips.
The little kitchen was an exceedingly alluring place, gay in the
bravery of fresh paint and spotless, shining utensils. There were even
crisp curtainsat eight cents a yardtied back at the high,
wide-silled, triple window with its diminutive panes. It needed only a
pot or two of growing plants in the window, and a neat-handed Phyllis
in a figured gown, to be the old-time kitchen of one's dreams.
But it was upon the rooms on the upper floor that Juliet had
exhausted her imagination and effort. Nothing could have been conceived
of more dainty than they. Here her denims and muslins had run riot. Low
dressing-tables clad in ruffled hangings, their padded tops delicate
with the breath of orris; beds valanced with similar stuffs;
high-backed chairs, their seats cushioned into comforteverything was
done in the cleverest imitation of the ancient styles in keeping with
the old-fashioned house. It all made one think of the patter of
high-heeled, buckled slippers, and stiff, rustling, brocaded gowns, and
powdered hair, and the odours of long ago. Anthony would never know
what his friendly home-maker had put into these rooms of sentiment and
VI.A QUESTION OF IDENTITY
At the door of the blue-and-white room, the one upon which the girl
had lavished her most tender fancies, she stood at length, looking in.
And as she looked something swam before her eyes. A sob rose in her
throat. She choked it back; she brushed her hand across her face. Then
she tried to laugh. Oh, what a goose I am! she said sternly to
herself. And then she ran across the room, sank upon her knees before
the window-seat with its blue and white cushions, and burying her face
in one of them cried her wretched, jealous, longing heart out.
Anthony, coming in hastily but softly through the small kitchen,
heard the rush of footsteps overhead, and stopped. He waited a moment,
listening eagerly; then he came noiselessly into the living-room and
stood still. His face, always strong and somewhat stern in its repose,
had in it to-night a certain unusual intensity. He looked at his watch
and saw that there was an hour before train time. Then he sat down
where he could see the top of the staircase and waited.
By and by light footsteps crossed the floor above and came through
the little hall. From where he sat Anthony caught the gleam of Juliet's
crisp linen skirt. Presently she came slowly down. As she turned upon
the landing she met Anthony's eyes looking up. In a fashion quite
unusual to the straightforward gaze of his friend her eyes fell. He saw
that her cheeks were pale. He rose to meet her.
Come and rest, he said. You are tired. You have worked too hard.
Such a helper a man never had before. And you have made a wonderful
success. Juliet, I can't thank you. It's beyond that.
But she would not be led to the cosy corner by the window. She found
something needing her attention in the curtain of the bookcase in the
dimmest corner of the room, and began solicitously to pull it in
various ways, as if there were something wrong with it. He watched her,
standing with his arm on the high chimney-piece.
I think you enjoyed it just a little bit yourself, though, he
observed. Didn't you, chum?
Yes, indeed, said Juliet.
Her back was toward him, her head bent down, but his quick ear
detected a peculiar quality in her voice. He questioned her again
You're not sorry you did it?
Oh, no, said Juliet.
Now there is not much in two such simple replies as these to
indicate the state of one's mind and heart; but when a girl has been
crying stormily and uninterruptedly for a half-hour, and is only not
crying still because she is holding back the torrent of her unhappiness
by sheer force of will, it is radically impossible to say so much as
four words in a perfectly natural way. Anthony understood in a breath
that the unfamiliar note in his friend's voice was that of tears. And,
strange to say, into his face there flashed a look of triumph. But he
only said very gently:
Come here a minutewill you, Juliet?
She bent lower over the curtain. Then she stood up, without looking
at him, and moved toward the door.
I believe I'm rather tired, she said in a low tone. It has been
so warm all day, and II have a headache.
In three steps he came after her, stopping her with his hand
grasping hers as she would have left the room.
Come backplease, he urged. Your aunt is asleep out there, I
think. I wanted to go over the house once more with you, if you would.
But you're too tired for that. Just come back and sit down in this nook
of yours, and let's talk a little.
She could not well refuse, and he put her into a nest of cushions,
arranging them carefully behind her back and head, and sat down facing
her. He had placed her just where the waning light from the western sky
fell full on her face; his own was in the shadow. He was watching her
unmercifullyshe felt that, and desperately turned her face aside,
burying in a friendly pillow the cheek which was colouring under his
Is the headache so bad? he asked softly. I never knew Juliet
Marcy to have a headache before. Poor little girldear little
girlwho has worked so hard to please her old friend. He leaned
forward and she felt his hand upon her hair. The tenderness in his
voice and touch were carrying away all her defences. But he went on
without giving her respite.
Do you think she will be happy here, chum? Will it take the
place of the old life for a few years, till I can give her more? She'll
have nothing here, you know, outside of this little home, but my love.
That wouldn't be enough for any ordinary woman, would it?
She was not looking at him, but she could see him as plainly as if
she were. Always she had thought him the strongest, best fellow she
knew. He had been her devoted friend so long; she had not realised in
the least until lately how it was going to seem to get on without him.
But she knew now.
She felt a dreadful choking in her throat again. It seemed to be
closely connected with another peculiar sensation, as if her heart had
turned into a lump of lead. In another minute she knew that she should
break down, which would be humiliating beyond words. She started up
from her cushions with a fierce attempt to keep a grip upon herself.
I know you're very happy, she breathed, and I'm very glad. But
really II'm not at all sentimental to-night. I'm afraid a headache
does not make one sympathetic.
But she could not get past him; Anthony's stalwart figure barred the
way. His strong hands put her gently back among the cushions. She
turned her head away, fighting hard for that thing she could not
Is it really a headache? asked the low voice in her ear. Just a
headache? Not by any chancea heartache, Juliet?
Anthony Robeson! she cried, but guardedly, lest the open window
betray her. What do you mean? You say very strange things. Why should
I have a heartache? Because you are marrying the girl you love? How
often have I begged you to go and find her? Do you think I would have
done all this for herand youif I had cared?
She tried to look defiantly into his eyesthose fine eyes of his
which were watching her so intentlytried to meet them steadily with
her own lovely, tear-stained onesand failed. Swiftly an intense
colour dyed her cheeks, and she dropped her head like a guilty child.
Of course I carethat is, in a way, she was somehow forced to
admit before the bar of his silence. Why shouldn't I hate to lose the
friend who used to carry my books to school, and fought the other boys
for my sake, and has been a brother to me all these years? Of course I
do. And when I am tired I cry for nothingjust nothing. I
It was certainly a brave attempt at eloquence, but perhaps it was
not wonderfully convincing. At all events it did not keep Anthony from
taking possession of one of her hands and interrupting her with a most
Juliet, do you remember telling me that you should expect a man who
loved you to carry your likeness always with him? And you asked me for
hersand I had to own I had left it behind. Yet I had one with me
thenit is always with meand that was why I forgot the other. Look.
He drew out a little silver case, and Juliet, reluctantly releasing
one eye from the shelter of the friendly sofa pillow, saw with a start
her own face look smiling back at her. It was a little picture of her
girlish self which she had given him long ago when he went away to
No, he said quickly, as he recognised the indignant question which
instantly showed in her eyes, I'm not disloyal to Eleanor Langham.
Becausedearthere is no such person.
With a little cry she flung herself away from him among the pillows,
hiding her face from sight. There was a moment's silence while Anthony
Robeson, his own face growing pale with the immensity of the stakes for
which he played, made his last venture.
The little home is only for you, Juliet. If you won't share it with
me it shall be closed and sold. Perhaps it was an audacious thing to
doit has come over me a great many times that it was too audacious
ever to be forgiven. But I couldn't help the hope that if you should
make the home yourself you might come to feel that life with a man who
had his way to make could be borne after allif you loved him enough.
It all depended on that. As I said, I didn't mean to be presumptuous,
but it was a desperate chance with me, dear. I couldn't give you up,
and I thought perhapsjust perhapsyou caredmore than you
knew. AnyhowI loved you soI had to risk it.
Juliet's charming brown head was buried so deep in the pillows that
only its back with the masses of waving, half-rumpled hair was visible.
But up from the depths came a smothered question:
Anthony's face lightened as if the sun had struck it, but he kept
his voice quiet. Borrowedit's my old friend Dennison's. I never even
saw the girlthough I ought to beg her pardon for the use I have made
of her face. She's married now, and lives abroad somewhere. Will you
He was standing over her, leaning down so that his cheek touched the
rumpled hair. How is it, Juliet? Could you live in the little
homewith loveand me?
It was a long time before he got any answer. But at last a flushed,
wet, radiant face came into view, an arm was reached out, and as with
an inarticulate, deep note of joy he drew her up into his embrace, a
voice, half tears, half laughter, cried:
Oh, Tonyyou dear, bad, darling, insolent boy! I did think I could
do without youbut I can't. Andoh, Tonyshe was sobbing in his
arms now, while he regarded the top of her head with laughing, exultant
eyesI'm so gladso gladso gladthere isn't any Eleanor
Langham! Oh, how I hated her!
Did you, sweetheart? he answered, laughing aloud now. Then
bending, with his lips close to herswell, to tell the truthto tell
the honest truth, little girlso did I!
VII.AN ARGUMENT WITHOUT LOGIC
I don't like it, repeated Mr. Horatio Marcy, obstinately, and
shook his head for the fifth time. I've not a word to say against
Anthony, my dearnot a word. He's a fine fellow and comes of a good
family, and I respect him and the start he has made since things went
to pieces, but
Juliet waited, her eyes downcast, her cheeks very much flushed, her
mouth in lines of mutiny.
But her father continued, settling back in his chair with an air
of decision, you will certainly make the mistake of your life if you
think you can be happy in the sort of existence he offers you. You're
not used to it. You've not been brought up to it. You can spend more
money in a forenoon than he can earn in a twelve-month. You don't know
how to adapt yourself to life on a basis of rigid economy. I
You don't forbid it, sir?
Forbid it?no. A man can't forbid a twenty-four year old woman to
do as she pleases. But I advise youI warn youI ask you seriously to
consider what it all means. You are used to very many habits of living
which will be entirely beyond Anthony's means for many years to come.
You are fond of travelof dressof social
Father dear, said his daughter, interrupting him gently by a
change of tactics. She came to him and sat upon the arm of his chair,
and rested her cheek lightly upon the top of his thick, iron-gray
locks.Let's drop all this for the present. Let's not discuss it. I
want you to do me a particular favour before we say another word about
it. Come with me down to see the house. It's only three hours away. We
can go after breakfast to-morrow and be back for dinner at seven. It's
all I ask. My arguments are all there. Please!Please!
So it came about that at eleven o'clock on a certain morning in
August, Mr. Horatio Marcy discovered himself to be eyeing with
critical, reluctant gaze a quaintly attractive, low-spreading white
house among trees and vines. He became aware at the same time of a
sudden close clasp on his arm.
Here it is, said a low voice in his ear. Does it look habitable?
Very pretty, very pretty, my dear, Mr. Marcy admitted. No sane man
could do otherwise. The little house might have been placed very
comfortably between the walls of the dining-room at the Marcy country
house, but there was an indefinable, undeniable air of gracious
hospitality and homelikeness about its aspect, and its surroundings
gave it an appearance of being ample for the accommodation of any two
people not anxious to get away from each other.
Juliet produced an antique door-key of a clumsy pattern, and opened
the door into the living-room. She ran across to the windows and threw
them open, then turned to see what expression might be at the moment
illumining Mr. Marcy's face. He was glancing about him with curious
eyes, which rested finally upon the portrait of a courtly gentleman in
ruffles and flowing hair, hanging above the fireplace. He adjusted a
pair of eyeglasses and gave the portrait the honour of his serious
That is an ancestor, Juliet explained. Doesn't he give
distinction to the room? And isn't the roomwelljust a little bit
distinguished-looking itself, in spite of its simplicity?because of
it, perhaps. The tables and most of the chairs are what Anthony found
left in the old Kentucky homestead after the sale last year, and bought
in withthe last of his money. Her eyes were very bright, but her
voice was quiet.
Mr. Marcy looked at the furniture in question, stared at the walls,
then at the rug on the polished floor. The rug held his attention for
two long minutes, then he glanced sharply at his daughter.
The colourings of that rug are very good, don't you think? she
asked with composure. It will last until Anthony can afford a better
Mr. Marcy turned significantly toward the door of the dining-room,
and Juliet led him through. He surveyed the room in silence, laying a
hand upon a chair back; then looked suddenly down at the chair and
brought his eyeglasses to bear upon it.
The furniture was made by a country cabinet-maker who charged
country prices for doing it. Tony rubbed in a very thin stain and
rubbed the wood in oil afterward till it got this soft polish.
The visitor looked incredulous, but he accepted the explanation with
a polite though exceedingly slight smile. Then he was taken to inspect
the kitchen. From here he was led through the pantry back to the
living-room, and so upstairs. He looked, still silently, in at the door
of each room, exquisite in its dainty readiness for occupancy. As he
studied the blue-and-white room his daughter observed that he retained
less of the air of the connoisseur than he had elsewhere exhibited. She
had shown him this place last with artful intent. No room in his own
homes of luxury could appeal to him with more of beauty than was
When Mr. Marcy reached the living-room again he found himself placed
gently but insistently in the easiest chair the room afforded, close by
an open window through which floated all the soft odours of country air
blowing lightly across apple orchards and gardens of old-fashioned
flowers. His daughter, bringing from the ingle seat a plump cushion,
dropped upon it at his feet. But instead of beginning any sort of
argument she laid her arm upon his knee, and her head down upon her
arm, and became as still as a kitten who has composed itself for sleep.
Only through the contact of the warm young arm, her father could feel
that she was alive and waiting for his speech.
When he spoke at last it was with grave quiet, in a gentler tone
than that which he had used the day before in his own library.
You helped Anthony furnish this house?
Do you mind telling me how much you had at your disposal?
Five hundred dollars. Juliet maintained her position without
moving, and her face was out of sight.
Did this include the repairs upon the place?
Yesbut you know wages are low just now and lumber is cheap.
Having no roof to the porch made it inexpensive. The painting Anthony
helped at himself. He worked every minute of his two weeks' vacation on
whatever would cost most to hire done.
Anthony worked at painting the house? There was astonishment in
Mr. Marcy's voice. He had known the Robesons of Kentucky all his life.
He had never seen one of them lift his hand to do manual labour. There
had been no need.
Yes, said Juliet, and the cheek which rested against her father's
knee began to grow warm.
You have obtained a somewhat extraordinary effect of harmony and
comfort inside the house, Mr. Marcy pursued. It is difficult to
understand just how you brought it about with so small an expenditure
It was quite impossible now for Juliet to keep her head down. She
looked up eagerly, but she still managed to speak quietly.
It is effect, father, and it is artnot money. The paper on
the wall cost twenty-five cents a roll, but it is the right paper for
the place, and the wrong paper at ten times that sum wouldn't give the
room such a background of soft restfulness. Then, you see, the old
white woodwork is in very good style, and the green walls bring it out.
The old floor was easily dressed to give that beautiful waxed finish.
They told me how to do that at the best decorator's in Boston. The rug
fits the colourings very well. Anthony's old furniture would give any
such room dignity. The portrait lends the finishing touch, I think. You
see, when you analyse it all there's nothing in the least wonderful.
But it looks like a homedoesn't it? And when the little things are in
which grow in a homethe photographs, a bowl of sweet-williams from
the garden, the lovely old copper lamp you gave me on my
birthdaycan't you think how dear it will all be?
Mr. Marcy glanced down keenly into his daughter's face.
There are a great many things of your own at home which would
naturally come into your married home, he said.
Juliet coloured richly. Yes, she answered with steady eyes, but
except for the lamp, and the photographs, and a few such very little
things, I should not bring them. Anthony is poor, but he is very proud.
I couldn't hurt him by furnishing his home with the overflow of mine.
BesidesI don't need those things. I don't want them. All I want out
of the old home isyour loveyour blessing, dear!
The sharp eyes meeting hers softened suddenly. Juliet drew herself
to her knees, and leaning forward across her father's lap, reached both
arms up and flung them about his neck. He held her close, her head upon
his shoulder, and all at once he found the slender figure in his arms
shaken with feeling. Juliet was not crying, but she was drawing long,
deep breaths like a child who tries to control itself.
You need have no doubt of either of those things, my little girl,
said her father in her ear. Both are ready. It is only your happiness
I want. I distrust the power of any poor man to give it to you. That is
all. Since I have seen this house the question looks less doubtful to
meI admit that gladly. But I still am anxious for the future. Even in
this attractive place there must be monotony, drudgery, lack of many
things you have always had and felt you must have. You have never
learned to do without them. I understand that Robeson will not accept
them at my hand, nor at yours. I don't know that I think the less of
him for thatbutyou will have to learn self-denial. I want you to be
very sure that you can do it, and that it will be worth while.
There was a little silence, then Juliet gently drew herself away and
rose to her feet. She stood looking down at the imposing figure of the
elderly man in the chair, and there was something in her face he had
never seen there before.
There's just one thing about it, sir, she said. I can't possibly
spare Anthony Robeson out of my life. I tried to do it, and I know. I
would rather live it out in this little homewith himthan share the
most promising future with any other man. But there's this you must
remember: A man who was brought up to do nothing but ride fine horses,
and shoot, and dance, must have something in him to go to work and
advance, and earn enough to buy even such a home as this, in five
years. He has a future of his own.
Mr. Marcy looked thoughtful. Yes, that may be true, he said. I
rather think it is.
And, father she bent to lay a roseleaf cheek against his
ownyou began with mother in a poorer home than this, and were so
happy! Don't I know that?
Yes, yes, dear, he sighed. That's true, too. But we were both
poorhad always been so. It was an advance for usnot a coming down.
It's no coming down for me. There was spirit and fire in the
girl's eyes now. Just to wear less costly clothesto walk instead of
driveto live on simpler foodwhat are those things? Look at these,
she pointed to the rows of books in the bookcases which lined two walls
of the room. I'm marrying a man of refinement, of family, of the sort
of blood that tells. He's an educated manhe loves the things those
books stand for. He's good and strong and fineand if I'm not safe
with him I'll never be safe with anybody. But besides all thatII
love him with all there is of me. Ohare you satisfied now?
Blushing furiously she turned away. Her father got to his feet,
stood looking after her a moment with something very tender coming into
his eyes, then took a step toward her and gathered her into his arms.
VIII.ON ACCOUNT OF THE TEA-KETTLE
This is the nineteenth day of August, observed Anthony Robeson.
We finished furnishing the house for my future bride on the third day
of the month. Over two weeks have gone by since then. The place must
He glanced casually at the figure in white which sat just above him
upon the step of the great porch at the back of the Marcy country
house. It was past twilight, the moon was not yet up, and only the glow
from a distant shaded lamp at the other end of the porch served to give
him a hint as to the expression upon his companion's face.
I'm beginning to lie awake nights, he continued, trying to
remember just how my little home looks. I can't recall whether we set
the tea-kettle on the stove or left it in the tin-closet. Can you
You put it on the stove yourself, said Juliet. You would have
filled it if Auntie Dingley hadn't told you it would rust.
Anthony swerved about upon the heavy oriental rug, which covered the
steps, until his back rested against the column; he clasped his arms
about one knee, and inclined his head at the precise angle which would
enable him to study continuously the shadowy outlines of the face above
him, shot across with a ruby ray from the lamp. I wish I could
recollect, he pursued, whether I left the porch awning up or down. It
has rained three times in the two weeks. It ought not to be down.
I'm sure it isn't, Juliet assured him. There was a hint of
laughter in her voice.
It was rather absurd to put up that awning at all, I suppose. But
when you can't afford a roof to your piazza, and compromise on an
awning instead, you naturally want to see how it is going to look, and
you rush it up. Besides, I think there was a strong impression on my
mind that only a few days intervened before our occupancy of the place.
It shows how misled one can be.
There was no reply to this observation, made in a depressed tone.
After a minute Anthony went on.
These cares of the householderthey absorb me. I'm always
wondering if the lawn needs mowing, and if the new roof leaks. I get
anxious about the blindsdo any of them work loose and swing around
and bang their lives out in the night? Have the neighbours' chickens
rooted up that row of hollyhock seeds? Then those books I placed on the
shelves so hurriedly. Are any of them by chance upside down? Is Volume
I. elbowed by Volume II. or by Volume VIII.? And I can't get away to
see. Coming up here every Saturday night and tearing back every Sunday
midnight takes all my time.
You might spend next Sunday in the new house.
Of course. You have so many cares they would keep you from getting
Anthony made no immediate answer to this suggestion, beyond laughing
up at his companion in the dim light for an instant, then growing
immediately sober again. But presently he began upon a new aspect of
Juliet, are we to be married in church?
Tony!I don't know.
But what do you think?
What! Do you mean that?
Of course you don't. Wellwhat about it?
I don't know.
Are we to have a big wedding?
Do you want one?
Ibut that's not the question. Do you want a big wedding?
She hesitated an instant. Then she answered softly, but with
Anthony drew a long breath. Thank the Lord! he said devoutly.
Why? she asked in some surprise.
I've never exactly understood why the boys I've been best man for
were so miserable over the prospect of a show weddingbut I know now.
A runaway marriage appeals to me now as it never did before. I want to
be marriedtremendouslybut I want to get it over.
A soft laugh answered him. We'll get it over.
Anthony sat up suddenly. Will we? he asked with eagerness. When?
I didn't say 'when'!
Julietwhen are you going to say it?
That's rightput in the 'dear,' he murmured. I've heard mighty
few of 'em yet, and they sound great to me
We've been engaged only two weeks
And two days
And the little house isn't spoiling, even though you're not sure
about the tea-kettle and the awning. Iyou don't want to hurry
If I'm very good and say 'Christmas'
Now see here he leaned forward and stared up at her, without
touching herhe was as yet allowed few of the lover's favours and
prized them the more for thatdo you think our case is just like
other people's? Here I've been waiting for you all my dayswaiting and
waiting, and tortured all the time by suspense. Then I lived that month
of July with my heart in my mouthyou'll never know what you put me
through those days, talking and jollying about 'Eleanor Langham,' and
never for one instant, until just that last day, giving me the smallest
pinch of hope that it was anything to you except just what it pretended
to be. ThenI've been a long time without a homeand the little
housesweetheartit looks like Heaven to me. Must I stay outside till
Christmaswhen everything's all ready? Confound itI don't want to
play the pathetic string, and the Lord knows I'm happy as a fellow can
be who's got the desire of his life. But
A warm hand came gently upon his hair, and for joy at the touch he
fell silent. Once he turned his head and put his lips against the white
sleeve as it fell near, and looked up an instant with eyes whose
expression the person above him felt rather than saw through the
subdued light. By and by she took up the conversation.
So you are rejoiced that I don't want a great wedding?
What would you like best?
I don't dare tell you.
Tell me what you would like, Julie.
Of course father would say the town house, even if it were a small
affair. Auntie Dingley would probably agree to having it hereif that
were what youwewantedthat is
Anthony looked up quickly. Even at Christmas?
Whyyes. We could come back. People do that sometimes.
Yes. Must we do what other people do?
Would you rather not?
Ten thousand times. It seems to me that the biggest mistake people
make is the way they do this thing. Julietthink of the little house.
We made ityou made it. For years, without doubt, it's to hold us and
our experiences. Do you know I'd like to give it this one to begin
with?I'm holding my breath!
Plainly she was holding hers. Her head was turned awayhe could
just see her profile outlined against the ruby light. And at the moment
there were footsteps inside a long French window near at hand which lay
open into the library. Mr. Horatio Marcy came out and stood still just
Anthony sprang to his feet, and came forward up the steps. The older
man greeted him cordially. Anthony pulled a big chair into position,
and Mr. Marcy sat down. He was smoking and wore an air of relaxation.
He and his guest fell to talking, the younger man entering into the
conversation with as much ease and spirit as if he were not fresh from
what was to him at this hour a much more interesting discussion. Juliet
sat quietly and listened.
It grew into an absorbing argument after a little, the two men
taking opposite sides of a great governmental question just then
claiming public interest. Mrs. Dingley came out and joined the group,
and she and Juliet listened with increasing delight in a contest of
brains such as was now offered them. Mr. Marcy himself, while he put
forth his arguments with conviction and with skill, was evidently
enjoying the keen wit and wisdom of his young opponent. The elder man
met objection with objection, set up men of straw to be knocked down,
and ended at last with a hearty laugh and a frankly appreciative:
Well, Anthonyyou have convinced me of one thing, certainly. There
are more sides to the question than I had understood. I will admit that
you've made a strong argument. But when I come back I'll down you with
fresh material. I shall have plenty of it.
Are you going away soon, sir? Anthony asked with some surprise.
Mr. Marcy was a frequent traveller, preferring to look after various
business interests in faraway ports himself rather than entrust them to
YesI shall be off in a few weeksand for a longer time than
usual. I haven't told these ladies of my household yetbut this is as
good a time as any. Juliet, little girlI may be gone all winter this
She came quickly to him without speaking, and gave him her regretful
When do you go, Horatio? Mrs. Dingley asked.
About the first of October. I hadn't fully decided till to-day. I
had thought of inviting you two to go with me.
He looked with a smile at his sister and his daughter, then somewhat
quizzically at Anthony. The latter was regarding him with an alert face
in which, as nearly as could be made out in the dim light, were no
signs of discomfiture.
Horatio, said Mrs. Dingley, I wish you would come into the
library for a few minutes. This reminds me of a letter I had to-day
from one of your old friends, asking when you were to be at home.
The French window closed on the two older people. Juliet, left
sitting on the arm of her father's chair, found Anthony behind her.
Do you want to go on a voyage to the Philippines? he was asking
over her shoulder.
I'm not sure just what I do want, she answered rather
The tea-kettle would rust while you were gone.
He got no reply.
The dust would grow inches deep on the dining-table we polished so
Juliet rose and walked slowly to the edge of the steps. Anthony
followed. Let's go and walk on the terrace, he proposed, and they ran
down to the smooth sward below. It was a warm night, with no dew, and
the short-shaven grass was dry. All the stars were out. Anthony walked
beside the figure in white, his hands clasped behind his back.
Do white ruffled curtains like those at our windows ever grow musty
from being shut up? he insinuated gently.
I don't know.
Will you write from every port you touch at? It will take a good
many letters to satisfy me.
I suppose so.
Suppose what? That you will write?
Juliet stood still. You're the greatest wheedler I ever saw, she
Is that a compliment?
It's not meant for one. What am I to do when I'm
Married to me?I don't know, poor child. I can only pity you. What
do you think the prospect is for me, never to be able to get the
smallest concession from you except by every art of coaxing? Yetif I
can get this thing I want, by any meansI warn you I shall not give up
until I've seen you sail.
You'll not see me sail.
He wheeled upon her. He had her hand in his grasp. And if you don't
She laughed irresistibly. How could I stay without you?
Will you marry me before your father goes?
Oh, Tony, Tony
We can't be married without his blessing, can we?
I'll tell you to-morrow, said she.
IX.A BISHOP AND A HAY-WAGON
Juliet Marcy's prospective maid-of-honour found Anthony Robeson's
best man at her elbow the moment she entered the waiting-room of the
big railway station. Now, although she greeted him with a charming
little conscious look, there was nothing either new or singular about
the quiet rush he had made across the waiting-room the instant he saw
her. The rest of the party of twenty people who were going down into
the country to the Marcy-Robeson wedding understood it perfectly,
although the engagement had not been announced and probably would not
be until Wayne Carey should have an income decidedly larger than he had
Judith Dearborn joined the group at once, and Carey reluctantly
followed her. Judith had a way of joining groups and of giving her
betrothed many impatient half-hours thereby.
Just think of this, she said to the others. When I knew Juliet
had really given in to Anthony Robeson at last I thought I should be
asked to assist at an impressive church wedding. But here we are going
down to what Tony describes as 'a box of a house' in the most rural of
suburbs. If it's really as small as he says even twenty people will be
a tight fit.
How in the world did they come to be married there? asked the
sister of the best man. Everybody had been summoned to this wedding so
hurriedly and so informally that nobody knew much about it.
The son of the Bishopwhose father was going down to perform the
Tony tells me its Juliet's own choice. You see they furnished the
house together, with her aunt, Mrs. Dingley; and Juliet fell so in love
with it that she must needs be married in it. What's occurred to that
girl I don't know. After the Robesons of Kentucky lost their money and
everything else but their social standing I thought it was all up with
Anthony. But he's plucky. He's made a way for himself, and he's won
Juliet somehow. He seems to be a late edition of that obstinate chap
who remarked 'I will find a way or make one.' By Jovehe must have
made one when he convinced Juliet Marcy that she could be happy in a
house where twenty people are a tight fit.
When the train stopped at the small station Judith Dearborn said in
Wayne Carey's ear, as he glanced wonderingly from the train: Is this
it? Juliet Marcy must be perfectly crazy!
She certainly must, admitted Robeson's best man. But he stifled a
sigh. If Juliet Marcy could do so crazy a thing as to marry Anthony
Robeson on the comparatively small salary that young manbrought up to
do nothing at allwas now earning, why must Wayne Carey wait for
several times that income before he could have Juliet's closest friend?
Was there really such a difference in girls?
But at the next instant he was shouting hilariously, and so was
everybody else except the Bishop and the Bishop's wife, who only smiled
indulgently. The rest of the party were young people, and their glee
brooked no repression. The moment they reached the little platform they
comprehended not only that they were coming to a most informal
weddingthey were also in for a decidedly novel lark.
Close to the edge of the platform stood a great hay-wagon, cushioned
with fragrant hay and garlanded with goldenrod and purple asters.
Standing erect on the front, one hand grasping the reins which reached
out over a four-in-hand of big, well-groomed, flower-bedecked farm
horses, the other waving a triumphant greeting to his friends, was
Anthony Robeson, in white from head to foot, his face alight with
happiness and fun. He looked like a young king; there could be no other
comparison for his splendid outlines as he towered there. And better
yet, he looked as he had ever looked, through prosperity and through
poverty, like a Robeson of Kentucky.
Below him, prettier than she had ever beenand that was saying
muchher eyes brilliant with the spirit of the day, laughing, dressed
also in white, a big white hat drooping over her brown curls, stood
In a storm of salutations and congratulations the guests rushed
toward this extraordinary equipage and the radiant pair who were its
charioteers. All regrets over the probable commonplaceness of a small
country wedding had vanished.
[Illustration: Standing erect ... one hand grasping the reins ...
was Anthony Robeson.]
Might have known they would do things up in shape somehow, grunted
the Bishop's son approvingly. This is the stuff. Conventionality be
tabooed. They're going to the other extreme, and that's the way to do.
If you don't want an altar and candles, and a high-mucky-muck at the
organ, have a hay-wagon. Gee!Let me get up here next to Ben
Hur and the lady!
Even the Bishop, sitting with clerical coat-tails carefully parted,
his handsome face beaming benevolently from under his round hat, and
Mrs. Bishop, granted by special dispensation a cushion upon the hay
seat, enjoyed that drive. Anthony, plying a long, beribboned lash,
aroused his heavy-footed steeds into an exhilarating trot, and the
hay-wagon, carrying safely its crew of young society people in their
gayest mood, swept over the half-mile from the station to the house
like a royal barge.
As they drew up a chorus of Oh's! not merely polite but sincerely
surprised and admiring, recognised the quaint beauty of the little
house. It was no commonplace country home now, though the changes
wrought had been comparatively slight. It looked as if it might have
stood for years in just this fashion, yet it was as far removed from
its primitive characterless condition as may be an artist's drawing of
a face upon which he has altered but a line.
Mrs. Dingley and Mr. Horatio Marcya pair whose presence anywhere
would have been a voucher for the decorum of the most unconventional
proceedingswelcomed the party upon the wide, uncovered porch.
We're going to be married very soon, to have it over, called
Anthony. But you may explore the house first, so your minds shall be
at rest during the crisis. Just don't wander too far away in examining
this ancestral mansion. There are six rooms. I should advise your going
in line, otherwise complications may occur in the upper hall. Please
don't all try to get into the kitchen at once; it can't be done. It
will hold Juliet and me at the same timeall the rooms have been
stretched to do thatthey had to be; but I'm not sure as to their
capacity for more. Now make yourselves absolutely at home. The place is
yoursfor a few hours. After that it's mineand Juliet's.
He glanced, laughing, at his bride, as he spoke from where he stood
in the doorway. She was on the little landing of the staircase, at the
opposite end of the living-room. She looked down and across at him, and
nearly everybody in the roomthey were thronging through at the
momentcaught that glance. She was smiling back at him, and her eyes
lingered only an instant after they met his, but her friends all saw.
There could be no question that the Juliet Marcy who, since she had
laid aside her pinafores, had kept many men at bay, had at last
surrendered. As for Anthony
Why, he's always been in love with her, said the Bishop's son in
the ear of the best man, as in accordance with their host's permission
they peeped admiringly in at the little kitchen, but any idiot can see
that he's fairly off his feet now. Ideal conditioneh? Say, this
dining-room's greatJove, it is. I'm going to get asked out here to
dinner as soon as they are back. Let's go upstairs. The girls are just
coming downhear 'em gurgling over what they saw?
Upstairs the best man looked in at the blue-and-white room with eyes
which one with penetration might have said were envious. Indeed, he
stared at everything with much the same expression. He was the soberest
man present. Ordinarily he could be counted on to enliven such
occasions, but to-day his fits of hilarity were only momentary, and
during the intervals he was observed by the Bishop's son to be gazing
somewhat yearningly into space with an abstraction new to him.
Nobody knew just how the moment for the ceremony arrived. But when
the survey of the house was over and everybody had instinctively come
back to the living-room, the affair was brought about most naturally.
The Bishop, at a word from the best man, took his place in the doorway
opening upon the porch, which had been set in a great nodding border of
goldenrod. Anthony, making his way among his guests, came with a quiet
face up to Juliet and, bending, said softly, Now, dear? A hush
followed instantly, and the guests fell back to places at the sides of
the room. Anthony's best man was at his elbow, and the two went over to
the Bishop, to stand by his side. Mr. Marcy moved quietly into his
place. Juliet, with Judith, who had kept beside her, walked across the
floor, and Anthony, meeting her, led her a step farther to face the
Bishop. It was but a suggestion of the usual convention, and Anthony,
in his white clothes, surrounded as he was by men in frock-coats, was
assuredly the most unconventional bridegroom that had ever been seen.
Juliet, too, wore the simplest of white gowns, with no other adornment
than that of her own beauty. Yet, somehow, as the guests, grown sober
in an instant, looked on and noted these things, there was not one who
felt that either grace or dignity was lacking. The rich voice of the
Bishop was as impressive as it had ever been in chancel or at altar;
the look on Anthony's face was one which fitted the tone in which he
spoke his vows; and Juliet, giving herself to the man whose altered
fortunes she was agreeing to share, bore a loveliness which made her a
bride one would remember longand envy.
There, that's done, said the Bishop's son with a gusty sigh of
relief, which brought the laugh so necessary to the relaxing of the
tension which accompanies such scenes. Jove, it's a good thing to see
a fellow like Robeson safely tied up at last. You never can tell where
these quixotic ideas about houses and hay-wagons and weddings may lead.
It's a terrible strain, though, to see people married. I always tremble
like a leafI weigh only a hundred and ninety-eight now, and these
things affect me. It's so frightful to think what might happen if they
should trip up on their specifications.
There was a simple wedding breakfast servedby whom nobody could
tell. It was eaten out in the orcharda pleasant place, for the
neglected grass had been close cut, and an old-fashioned garden at one
side perfumed the air with late September flowers. The trim little
country maids who brought the plates came from a willow-bordered path
which led presumably to the next house, some distance down the road.
There were several innovations in the various dishes, delicious to
taste. Altogether it was a little feast which everybody enjoyed with
unusual zest. And the life of the party was the bridegroom.
I never saw a fellow able to scintillate like that at his own
wedding, remarked the son of the Bishop to the best man's sister.
Usually they are so completely dashed by their own temerity in getting
into such an irretrievable situation that they sit with their ears
drooping and their eyes bleared. Do you suppose it's getting married in
tennis clothes that's done it?
Tennis clothes! cried the best man's sister with a merry laugh.
If you realised how much handsomer he looks than you men in your
frock-coats you would not make fun.
Make fun! repeated the Bishop's son solemnly. I joke only to keep
my head above water. I never in my life was so completely submerged in
the desire to get married instantly and live in a picturesque band-box.
Nothing can keep me from it longer than it takes to find the girl and
the band-box. Ifif his voice dropped to a whisper, and a hint of
redness crept into his face which belied his jesting words, you knew
of the girlIersayshould you mind living in a band-box?
The best man's sister was the sort of girl who can discern when even
an inveterate joker is daring to be somewhat more than half in earnest,
and she flushed so prettily that the son of the Bishop caught her hand
boyishly under the little table. He had hitherto been considered a
hopeless old bachelor, so it may readily be seen that, now the
contagion had caught him, his was quite a serious case.
X.ON A THRESHOLD
When it was all over Judith Dearborn went upstairs with Juliet to
help her dress for her going away. The maid-of-honour looked about the
blue-and-white room with thoughtful eyes.
This is certainly the dearest room I ever saw, she said. Oh,
Juliet, do you think you really will be happy here?
What do you think about it, dear? asked Juliet.
OhIwell, reallyI never imagined that a little old house like
this could be made so awfully attractive. But, Julietyouyou must be
very, very fond of Anthony to give up so many things. How well he
looked to-day. Seems to me he's grown gloriously in every way since
hesince his family came into so many misfortunes.
Juliet smiled, but answered nothing.
And you're so different, too. Never in my life would I have
imagined you having a wedding like thisand yet it's been absolutely
the prettiest one I ever saw. That's a sweet gown to go away inbut
it's the simplest thing you ever wore, I'm sure. Juliet, where are you
We are going to drive through the Berkshires in a cart.
'Robeson,' corrected Juliet with a little laugh, but in a tone
which it was a pity Anthony could not hear. Don't forget that. I'm so
proud of the name. And I think a drive through the Berkshires will be a
perfectly ideal trip.
Judith Dearborn was not assisting the bride at all. Instead she was
sitting in a chair, staring at Juliet with much the same abstraction of
manner observable in the best man throughout the day.
Of course you didn't need to live this way, observed Miss Dearborn
at length. You could have afforded to live much more expensively.
No, I couldn't, said Juliet with a flash in her eyes, though she
smiled; I couldn't have afforded to do one thing that would hurt
Tony's pride. Why, Judithhe's a 'Robeson of Kentucky.'
Well, he looks it, admitted Judith. And you're a Marcy of
Massachusetts. The two go well together. Juliet, do you
knowsomehowI thought it was a fearful sacrifice you were making,
even for such a man as Anthonybutthis blue-and-white room
Ah, this blue-and-white room repeated Juliet. Then she came
over and dropped on her knees by her friend in her impulsive way and
put both arms around her. The plain little going-away gown touched
folds with the one whose elegance was equalled only by its cost.
Anthony Robeson's wife looked straight up into the eyes of her
maid-of-honour and whispered:
Judith, don't put Wayneandyour blue-and-white room off too
long. You will not be any happier to waitif you love him.
* * * * *
Drawn up close to the door stood the cart. Beside it waited Anthony.
Around the cart crowded twenty people. When Juliet came through them to
say good-bye the son of the Bishop murmured:
Yes, Mr. Farnham said Juliet promptly, her delicate flush
answering the name, as it had answered it many times that day.
When are you going to be at home to your friends?
The fifteenth day of October, said Juliet. And from then on,
every day in the week, every week in the year. Come and see
useverybody. But don't expect any formal invitations.
I'll be down, declared the Bishop's son. I'll be down once a
Please don't stay long after we are gone, requested Anthony,
putting his bride into the cart and springing in beside her. He
gathered up the reins. Good-bye, he called. Take this next train
home. It goes in an hour. Lock the door, Carey, and hang the key up in
plain sight by the window there. We live in the country now, and that's
the way we do. Good-byegood-bye!
Then he drove rapidly away down the road.
And that pair, said the son of the Bishop gravely, looking after
them and speaking to the company in general, married, so to speak, in
a hay-wagon, and going for a wedding trip in a wheel-barrow through the
Berkshires, is Juliet Marcy and Anthony Robeson.
No, my son, said the Bishop slowlyand everybody always listened
when the Bishop spoke: It is Anthony and Juliet Robesonand that
makes all the difference. I think two happier young people I never
married. And may God be with them.
The best man said that he and the maid-of-honour would walk the
half-mile to the station. The son of the Bishop and the sister of the
best man had already taken this course without saying anything about
it. Nearly everybody murmured something about it being a lovely evening
and a glorious sunset and a charming road, and, pairing off advisedly,
adopted the same plan. The Bishop and Mrs. Bishop, Mrs. Dingley and Mr.
Marcy decided on being driven over to the station in a light surrey
provided for this anticipated emergency.
The best man and the maid-of-honour succeeded in dropping behind the
rest of the pedestrians. Their friends were used to that, and let them
Mighty pretty affair, observed Carey in a melancholy tone.
Yesin its way, admitted Judith Dearborn with apparent
Tony seemed happy.
Ecstatic. Judith's inflection was peculiar.
Nobody would have suspected Juliet of feeling blue about living off
She doesn't seem to.
What's made the difference?
Anthony Robeson, probably.
Must seem pretty good to him to have her care like that.
I presume so.
It isn't everybody that could inspire such anaffectionin such a
Carey looked intensely gloomy. The two walked on in silence, Miss
Dearborn studying the sunset, Carey studying Miss Dearborn. Suddenly he
Judith, do all our plans for the future seem as desirable to you as
they did this morning?
Apartment in the locality we've picked outlife in the style the
locality calls forand wait for it all until I'm gray
with a burst of tremendous energy. Good heavens, darling, what's
the use? Whyif I could have you and a little home like that
He bit his lip hard. The maid-of-honour walked on, her head turned
still farther away than before. They were nearing the station. Just
ahead lay a turn in the roadthe last turn. The rest of the party,
with a shout back at this dilatory pair, disappeared around it. From
the distance came the long, shrill whistle of the approaching train.
The maid-of-honour glanced behind: there was not a soul in sight;
ahead: and saw nothing to alarm a girl with an impulse in her heart. At
a point where great masses of reddening sumac hid a little dip in the
road from everything earthly she stopped suddenly, and turning, put out
both hands. She looked up into a face which warmed on the instant into
a half-incredulous joy and said very gently: You may.
* * * * *
The sun had been gone only two hours, and the soft early autumn
darkness had but lately settled down upon the silent little house,
waiting alone for its owners to come back some October day, when a
cart, driven slowly, rolled along the road. In front of the house it
Where are we? asked Juliet's voice. This is a private house. I
thought weWhy, Tonydo you see?We've come around in a circle
instead of going on to that little inn you spoke of. This ishome!
Is it? said Anthony's voice in a tone of great surprise. So it
is! He leaped out and came around to Juliet's side. What a fluke!
But the happy laugh in his voice betrayed him.
Anthony Robeson, cried Juliet softly, you need not pretend to be
surprised. You meant to do it.
Did I? He reached out both arms to take her down. Perhaps I did.
Do you mindMrs. Robeson? Shall we go on?
Juliet looked down at him. No, I don't think I mind, she said.
He swung her down, and they went slowly up the walk. Somehow, said
Anthony Robeson, looking up at the house, lying as if asleep in the
September night, when I thought of taking you to that little public
inn, and then remembered that we might have this insteadWe can go on
with our wedding journey to-morrow, dear-butto-night
He led her silently upon the porch. He found the key, where in jest
he had bade his best man put it, and unlocked the door and threw it
He stepped first upon the threshold, and, turning, held out his
Come, he said, smiling in the darkness.
XI.A BACHELOR AT DINNER
Hallo thereAnthony Robesondon't be in such a hurry you can't
notice a fellow.
The big figure rushing through the snow paused, wheeled, and thrust
out a hand of hearty greeting. That you, Carey? Hat over your eyes
like a train robberelectric lights all behind youand you expect me
to smile at you as I go by! How are you? How's Judith?
Infernally lonelyI mean I amJudith's off on a visit to her
mother. Say, Tonytake me home with youwill you? I want some decent
things to eat, so I'm holding you up on purpose.
Goodcome on. Train goes in a few minutes. Juliet will be
The two hurried on together into the station from which the suburban
trains were constantly leaving. As they entered they encountered a
mutual friend, at whom both flung themselves enthusiastically with
Rogerold fellowglad to see you back!
Patient safely landed?
Get a big fee?
Where you going?
Let's take him home with us, Tony The third man looked smiling
at Tony. I'll challenge you to, said he.
That's easycome on, responded Anthony Robeson with cordiality.
I'll just telephone Mrs. Robeson.
That's it, said Dr. Roger Barnes. You don't dare not to. I
understand. Go ahead. But if she's too much dashed let me know, will
Anthony turned, laughing, into a telephone closet, from which he
emerged in time to catch his train with his guests.
It's all right, he assured them. But it's only fair to let her
know a few minutes ahead. You like to understand, Roger, before you
start, don't you, whether your emergency case is a hip-fracture or a
cut lip, so you can tell whether to take your glue or your
By all means, said the bachelor of the party. And I suppose you
think Mrs. Juliet Marcy Robeson is now smiling happily to herself over
this little surprise. I'll lay you anything you please that if I can
make her own up she'll admit that she said 'Merciful heavens!'
into the telephone when she got your message.
Anthony shook his head. Evidently you don't know what guests in the
remote suburbs on a stormy February night mean to a poor girl whose
nearest neighbour is five hundred feet away. Your ideas of married life
need a little freshening, too. They're pretty antique.
It was a half-mile from the station to the housethe box of a
housewhich had been Anthony's home for five months, and toward which
he now led his friends with the air of a man about to show his most
treasured possessions. He strode through the deepening snow as if he
enjoyed the strenuous tramp, setting a pace which Wayne Carey, with his
office life, if not the doctor, more vigorously built and bred, found
difficult to maintain.
Here we are, called the leader, pointing toward windows glowing
with a ruddy light. The doctor looked up with interest. Carey was a
frequent visitor, but the busy surgeon, old school-and-college chum of
Anthony's though he was, was about to have his first introduction to a
place of which he had heard much, but of whose nearness to Paradise he
doubted with the strong skepticism of a man who has seen many a fair
beginning end in all unhappiness and desolation.
As they stamped upon the little porch the door flew open, the
brilliancy and comfort of a fire-and-lamplit room leaped out at them, a
delicious faint odour of cookery assailed their hungry nostrils, and
the welcome which makes all worth having met them on the threshold.
Wayne, said the rich young voice of the mistress of the house,
I'm so glad. Roger Barnes, this is just downright good of you; it's so
long you've promised us this. Tony
What she said to Tony must have been whispered in his ear if voiced
at all, for the two guests, looking on with laughing, envious eyes, saw
their hostess swept unceremoniously into a bearlike embrace, swung into
the air as one thrusts up a child, poised there an instant, laughing
and protesting, then slowly lowered to be kissed, and set down once
more lightly upon the floor.
It's all right. I didn't tumble your hair a bit, said Anthony
coolly. Excuse me, gentlemen, but Wayne understandsand Roger will
some day, I hopethat a man who has been thinking about it all the way
home can't put it off on account of a couple of idiots who stand and
stare instead of politely turning their backs. Oh, don't mention itit
doesn't disturb me at all; and Mrs. Robeson is becoming reconciled to
my impetuosity by degrees. Make yourselves at home, boys. Juliet
Take them upstairs, Tony, please. Of course we can't let them go
back to-night, now we have them. It's beginning to storm heavily, isn't
it? I thought so. Take them to the guest-room, Tonyand dinner will be
served as soon as you are down.
* * * * *
By Jupiter, I believe she means it, declared the doctor, with
approval, as the door of the bedroom closed on his host. I think I can
tell when a woman is shamming. She's improved, hasn't she,
tremendously? Pretty girl always, butwellbloomed now. Nice little
house. Believe I'll have to stay, though I ought notjust to take
observations on Tony. His enthusiasm has all the appearance of reality.
In fact, it strikes me he has rather
It was on his lips to say rather more than you have, but it
occurred to him in time that jokes on this ground are dangerous. Wayne
Carey had been married in November, was living in a somewhat
unpretentious way in a downtown boarding-house, and certainly had
to-night so much of a lost-dog air that it made the doctor pause. So he
substituted: rather more than I should have expected, even of a
fellow who has got the girl he has wanted all his life, and fell to
washing and brushing vigorously, eyeing meanwhile the little room with
a critical bachelor's appreciation of beauty and comfort in the
quarters he is to occupy. It was very simply furnished, certainly, but
it struck him as a place where his dreams were likely to be pleasant
for every reason in the world.
Downstairs, Juliet, in the dining-room, was surveying her table with
the hostess's satisfaction. Opposite her stood a tall and slender girl,
black-haired, black-eyed, with a face of great attractiveness.
I wish, Mrs. Robeson, she was saying eagerly, you would let me
serve you as your maid, and not make a guest of me. Really, I should
love to do it. I don't need to meet your friends, and I don't mind
seeming what I really amyour
Rachel Redding, Juliet interrupted, lifting an affectionate glance
across the table, if you want to seem what you really aremy
friendyou will let me do as I like.
My shabby clothes murmured the girl.
If I could look as much like a princess as you do in them
Mrs. Robeson, in that lovely dull red you're a queen
dowager, finished Juliet gayly. Well, I'll be proud of you, and
you can be proud of me, if you like, and together we'll make those
hungry men think there's nothing like us. The dinner's the thing. Isn't
it the luckiest chance in the world I sent for those oysters this
morning? Doctor Barnes is perfectly fine, but he never would believe in
the happiness of married life if the coffee were poor or the beefsteak
too much broiled. Doesn't the table look pretty? Those red geranium
blossoms you brought me give it just the gay touch it needed this
* * * * *
Three men, standing about the wide fireplace, warming cold hands at
its friendly blaze, turned expectantly as their youthful hostess came
in, followed by a graceful girl in gray. Juliet presented her guests
with the air of conferring upon them a favour, and they seemed quite
ready to accept it as such.
Anthony looked on with interest to see a person whom he had known
hitherto only as a pretty but poor young neighbour whom Juliet had
engaged to help her for a certain part of every day, introduced as his
wife's friend, and greeted by Doctor Barnes and Wayne Carey with quite
evident admiration and pleasure. He looked hard at her, as Carey seated
her, noticing for the first time that she was really worth
consideration, and remembering vaguely that Juliet had more than once
tried to impress him with the fact. If it had not been for the other
fellows, with whose eyes as their host he was now stimulated to observe
her, he might have been still some time longer in coming to the
realisation that Juliet had found somebody in whom her genuine interest
was not misplaced. But Anthony Robeson had all his life been singularly
blind to the fascinations of most other women than Juliet. As he turned
his keen gaze from Rachel Redding to the charming figure that sat on
the other side of the table the satisfaction in his eyes became so
pronounced that it could mean, Dr. Roger Barnes admitted to himself, as
he caught it, nothing less than a very real happiness.
It was not an elaborate dinner. It was not by any means the sort of
dinner Juliet might have prepared had she known that morning whom she
was to entertain. It was merely a dinner planned with affectionate care
to please and satisfy one hungry man who liked good things to eatand
amplified as much as possible in quantity after Anthony's message
reached her. And by that admirable collusion between hostess and
feminine friend which can sometimes be effected when the situation
demands it, the dinner prepared for three seemed ample for five.
[Illustration: Three men, standing about the wide fireplace ...
turned expectantly as their youthful hostess came in, followed by a
graceful girl in gray.]
Between them Juliet and Rachel Redding served the various dishes and
changed the plates which Anthony handed from his place. It was
gracefully done and so simply that the absence of a maid was a thing to
be enjoyed rather than regretted. When Juliet, in the softly sweeping
dull-red frock which made of her a warm picture for a winter's night,
slipped from her chair and moved about the room, or brought in from the
kitchen a steaming dish, she seemed the ideal hostess, herself
bestowing what her own hands had prepared. And when Rachel Redding
offered a man a cup of fragrant coffee, smiling down in the general
direction of his uplifted face without meeting his eyes, there was
certainly nothing lost from his enjoyment of the beverage.
Say, but this dinner has tasted just about right, was Wayne
Carey's satisfied observation as he leaned back in his chair at last,
after draining his third cup of coffeeand the pot itself, if he had
but known it.
Went to the spot? asked Anthony, leaning back also with the
expression of the friendly host. He was young to cultivate that
expression, but he appeared to find no difficulty about it.
It didevery last mouthful.
Good. Now, if you fellows will come back to the fire and have a
pipeful of talk we shall not be missed. In this house on ordinary
occasions we reverse the order of after-dinner privilegesthe men
retire to the atmosphere of the sofa-pillows, and the womenI'm not
allowed to tell what they do. But after remaining discreetly out of
sight for some little time, during which faint sounds as of the rattle
of china penetrate through closed doors, they reappear, pleasantly
flushed and full of a sort of relieved joy.
I know what I wish, said Roger Barnes, looking back from the
dining-room doorway at young Mrs. Robeson; I wish that when the dishes
are all ready you would let me know. I should like nothing better than
to have a dish-towel at them. I know all about itmy mother taught me
He looked so precisely as if he meant it, and the glance he sent
past Juliet at Rachel Redding was so suggestive of his dislike to be
separated for the coming hour from the feminine portion of the
household, that his hostess answered promptly: Of course you may. We
never refuse an offer like that. We will try youon promise of good
XII.THE BACHELOR BEGS A DISH-TOWEL
When the door closed on the three Juliet produced from somewhere two
apronsattractive affairs on the pinafore orderone of which she
slipped upon Rachel, the other donned herself.
These are my kitchen party-aprons, she said gayly, noting how the
pretty garment became the girl, calculated to impress the masculine
mind with the charm of domesticity in women. The doctor needs a little
illustrated lesson of the sort. Life in boarding-houses isn't adapted
to encourage a man in the belief that real comfort is to be found
anywhere outside of a bachelor's club.
Before he was called the doctor forsook a half-smoked cigar and the
seductive hollows of Anthony's easiest chair and marched briskly out to
You see I distrust you, he announced, putting in his head at the
door. I'm afraid you will get them all done without me.
Not a bit of it. Here you are, and Juliet tied a big white apron
about a large-sized waist. Here's your towel. No, don't touch the
glass; a man is too unconscious of his strength.
A surgeon? demurred Rachel softly, from over her steaming dishpan.
Thank you, Miss Redding, said the doctor, smiling.
Ah, how stupid of me, Juliet made amends swiftly. Miss Redding
remembers that when I got my telephone message to-night I told her that
the most distinguished young specialist in the city was coming here to
dinner. A hand trained to such delicate tasks as those of
surgeryhere, Dr. Roger Barnes, forgive me, and wipe my most precious
You'll have my nerves unsteady with such speeches as that, said
he, but he accepted the trust. He held the goblets and the other
daintily cut and engraved pieces of glass with evident pleasure in the
Meanwhile Juliet and Rachel made rapid work of the greater part of
the dishes, handling thin china with the dexterity of housewives who
love their workand their china. Talk and laughter flowed brightly
through it all, and when the doctor had finished his glass he looked
disappointed at seeing not much left to do. At the moment Rachel was
scrubbing and scraping a big baking-dish, portions of whose surface
strongly resisted her efforts, in spite of previous soaking. The
assistant, looking about him for new worlds to conquer, fell upon this
Here, here, said he, let me have it. I'll use on it some of the
unconscious strength Mrs. Robeson credits me with.
But Rachel clung to the dish. Proper housekeepers, she averred,
always say 'That's all, thank you,' as soon as the china is done, and
finish the pots and kettles after the guest has gone back to pleasanter
I see. Did you ever have a man for dish-wiper before?
Never a surgeon, admitted Miss Redding.
Then you don't appreciate the fact that a man likes to do big
things which make the most show and get the credit for them.
He took the dish away from her by a dexterous little twist in which
conscious strength certainly asserted itself. Rachel, laughing, with a
dash of colour in cheeks which were normally of dark ivory tints,
accepted the dish-towel he handed her.
* * * * *
Hallo, there, cried Wayne Carey's voice from the door. You're
having more fun out here than we are in there, and that's not fair. The
lord of the manor is getting so chesty over the delights of a country
home in a February snowbank that he's becoming heavy company.
No room for you here, returned the doctor, removing with a
flourish the last candied sugar lump from the bottom of the big dish,
and beginning to swash about vigorously in the hot water. We do
something besides talk out here; we work. Our kitchen is so small we
have to waste no time in steps; as we dry the things we chuck them
straight into their places.
Suiting the action to the word he caught up a shining cake-tin and
cast it straight at Carey. That gentleman dodged, but Anthony caught
it, performed upon it an imitation of the cymbals, then turned about
and laid it in a nest of similar tins upon a shelf in an open closet.
Ah, but I'm well trained, he boasted.
If you were you wouldn't put it away wet, observed Rachel slyly.
Anthony withdrew the tin, wiped it with much solicitude, and
These little technicalities are beyond me, he apologised. Your
real athlete in kitchen work is your scientific man. See him dry that
bean-pot with the glass-towel. Now, I know better than that.
Go away, all of you, commanded the mistress of the place. Go back
to the fire and we'll join you. If you are very good we'll bring you a
special treat by-and-by.
That settles it, said the doctor, and led the retreat, but not
without a backward glance at the little kitchen.
Juliet had gone into the dining-room with a trayful of glass and
silver. Rachel Redding was plunging half a dozen white towels into a
pan of steaming water. Barnes stood an instant, staring hard at the
slender figure in the white pinafore, the round young arms gleaming in
the lamplightthen he turned to follow the others. There are some
pictures which linger long in a man's memory; why, he can hardly tell.
With all his varied experiences Dr. Roger Barnes had never before
discovered how attractive a background a well-kept kitchen makes for a
beautiful woman, so that she be there mistress of the situation. Long
after he had gone back to the fire his absent eyes, while the others
talked, were studying theto himunaccustomed and singularly charming
scene he had just left in the kitchen.
When Juliet and Rachel came in at length they found a plan afoot for
their entertainment. Wayne Carey was standing at the window showing
cause why the whole party should go out and coast upon the hill near
You admit, he argued with Anthony, that you know where we can get
a pair of bobsand if you can't I'll bribe some of those youngsters
out there to let us have theirs. The storm has stopped; the boys have
swept off the whole hill, I should judge, by the way their track shines
again under the moonlight. I haven't had a good coast since I left
He turned to Juliet. Will you go? he asked coaxingly.
Of course we will, promised Juliet. Tony wants to gohe's just
enjoying making you tease. As for the doctor
If my right hand has not forgot her cunning, he agreed.
In ten minutes the party was off. A young matron of five months'
standing is not so materially changed from the girl she used to be that
she can fail to be the gayest of company, perhaps with the more zest
that the old good times seem a bit far away already and she is glad to
bring them back.
As for the real girl of the party, in this case it chanced to be a
country lass who had been away to school and half-way through college,
had been brought home by love and duty to some elderly people who
needed her, and had known many hours of stifled longing for the sort of
companionship with which she had grown happily familiar.
Matron and maidthey were a pair for whose sakes the men who were
with them gladly made slaves of themselves to give them an evening of
glorious outdoor funand at small sacrifice.
* * * * *
What a night! exulted the doctor, striding up the long hill beside
Rachel Redding breathing deep. I'm thanking all my lucky stars that
they led my path across Anthony Robeson's to-night. I've been intending
to come out here ever since he was marriedand might not have done it
for another six months if I hadn't got started. He'll have all he wants
of me now. It's the most delightful spot I've been in for many moons.
It is a dear little home, agreed Rachel warmly. Mrs. Robeson
would make the most commonplace house in the world one where everybody
would want to come.
That's evident. Yet, somehow, knowing her well as a girl, I never
should have suspected just those home-making qualities. You didn't know
her then, I suppose? She was a girl other girls liked heartily, and men
enthusiasticallyone of the 'I'll be a good friend, but don't come too
near' sort, you know. But she was very fond of travel and change, ready
for everything in the way of sportand, well, I certainly never saw
her before in anything resembling an apron of any description. What a
delightful article of attire an apron is, anyhow. I think I never
appreciated it before to-night.
That's because you never saw one of Mrs. Robeson's aprons. Hers are
not like other people's.
She makes hers poetic, does she?
She certainly doeseven the ones for baking and sweeping. Not
ruffled or beribboned, but cut with an eye to attractiveness, and
always of becoming colour.
I see. She's an artistthat was noticeable in the oystersif she
made the dish.
Of course she did.
The coffee was the best I ever drank.
You made that, then, remarked the doctor astutely.
I'm glad it was good, said Rachel demurely.
They had reached the top of the hill. Doctor Barnes insisted that
Anthony had been the best steerer of coasting parties known to the
juvenile world, and placed him at the helm. Next came Juliet, with both
arms clasped as far about her husband's stalwart frame as they would
go. Carey had wanted to be the end man, but Doctor Barnes would have
none of it. You have to take care of Mrs. Robeson, he said firmly,
and placed him next. This brought Miss Redding last, and Dr. Roger
Barnes, knowing man, as hanger-on behind upon bobs already fairly full.
The last man, as every coaster understands, has to be alert to help out
any possible bad steering, and so keeps a watchful head thrust half
over the shoulder in front.
The foregoing explanation will show how it came about that all down
the long, swift descent, Rachel, breathless with the unaccustomed
delight of the flight, felt upon her cheek a warm breath, and was
conscious of a most extraordinary nearness of the lips which kept
saying merry things into her ear. The ear itself grew warm before the
bottom of the track was reached.
That was a great coast, cried the doctor as they reached the end
of the long slide. Now for another. I'm a boy again. This beats the
best thing I could have had in town if I hadn't run across Anthony.
So they had anotherand anotherand one more. Then Rachel Redding,
stopping in front of a small house which lay at the foot of the hill,
said good-night to them and slipped away before Barnes had realised
what had happened.
* * * * *
Does she live there? he questioned Juliet, as the four who were
left moved on toward home. Anthony and Wayne were discussing a subject
on which they had differed at the top of the hill. Somehow, I got the
impression she lived with you.
Nobut she comes over a good deal. I couldn't get on without her.
As a friend?
Juliet looked up at him. I think it would be better that you should
know, Roger, she said, and I'm sure Miss Redding herself would prefer
itthat I pay her for several hours a day of regular work. You've only
to see her to understand that she does this simply because it's the
only thing open to her as long as her father and mother can't spare her
to go away. She gave up her college course in the middle because she
said they were pining to death for her. They are in very greatly
reduced circumstances, after a lifetime of prosperity. She's a rare
creatureI'm learning to appreciate her more every day. She's never
said a word about her loneliness here, but it shows in her eyes. It's a
perfect delight to me to have her with me, and I mean to give her all
the fun I can. For all that demure manner and her Madonna face she's as
full of mischief as a kitten when something starts her off.
Juliet, said the doctor soberly, turning to look searchingly down
at her in the moonlight, would you be willing to let me come often?
Juliet looked up quickly. So that you may see her? she asked
Yes. I won't pretend it's anything else. I can tell you honestly
that if there were no other reason I should want to come because of my
old friendship for you and Anthony, and because this evening in your
little home has given me a rare pleasure. I know of no place like it.
But I'll tell you squarely that I want the chance to meet your friend
often and at once. If I don't you will have other people coming out
Yes, said Juliet, and something in the way she said it made him
ask quickly: Has that already happened? Am I too late?
I don't know whether you're too late, but I know that we've
suddenly grown most attractive to another man from town. If you had
gone into Rachel's home the odour of violets would have met you at the
door. He sends them every few days.
Ah! said the doctor. It was not much of a comment, but it
spoke volumes. He had been keen beforehe was determined now.
Violetswell, there were rarer flowers than those.
XIII.SMOKE AND TALK
At the house there remained for the guests an hour before the fire,
where Juliet brought in something hot and sweet and sour and spicy,
which tasted delicious and brought her a shower of compliments while
they drank a friendly draught to her. When she had left them, standing
in an admiring group on the hearth-rug and wishing her happy dreams,
they settled into luxurious positions of ease before the firea fire
in the last stages of red comfort before it dies into a smoulder of
Anthony Robeson, said Wayne Carey, regarding the andirons fixedly
over his bed-time pipe, you're a happy man.
Anthony laughed contentedly. He had thrown himself down upon the
hearth-rug with his head on a pillow pulled from the settle, and lay
flat on his back with his hands clasped behind his neck. It was an
attitude deeply expressive of masculine comfort.
You're exactly right, said he. And you would be the same if you
would give up living in that infernal boarding-house. What do you want
to fool with your first year of married life like that for? You told me
that Judith was bowled over by our wedding, and was ready to go in for
this sort of thing with a will.
I know it, admitted Carey, buthe spoke hesitatinglywe
couldn't seem to find this sort of thing. You had corralled all there
You had. Everything we looked at was so old and mouldy, or so new
and inartistic, or so high-priced, or so far awaywell, we couldn't
seem to get at it, so we said we'd board a while and wait until we
could look around.
How does it work?
Why, I suppose it works very well, said Carey cautiously. Judith
seems contented. We have as good meals as the average in such houses,
and the people are rather a nice lot. We're invited around quite a good
deal, and Judith likes that. I ought to like it better than I do,
somehow. I'm so confoundedly tired when I get home nights I can't help
thinking of you and Juliet here in this jolly room. There's an
abominable blue and yellow wall-paper on our sitting-roomand it has a
way of appearing to turn seasick in the evening under the electrics.
Sometimes I think it's that that makes me feel
Seasick, too? inquired the doctor with his professional air. He
was standing with his arm on the chimney-piece, looking alternately
down on his friends and around the long, low room. It was a
jolly roomthe very essence of comfort and cosiness. It was a
beautiful room, too, in a simple way; one which satisfied his sense of
harmony in colours and fabricsa keen sense with him, as it is apt to
be with men of his profession.
Judith likes this, too, you know, Carey went on loyally. She
thinks it's great. But how to get it for ourselvesthat's another
matter. Somehow, you were lucky.
Did you ever happen to see, asked Anthony, a photograph I took,
just for fun, of this house as it was when Juliet saw it first? No?
Well, just look in that box on the end of the farther bookcase, will
you? It's near the toptherethat's it.
He lay looking up through half-closed lashes at the two men as they
studied the photograph, the doctor leaning over Carey's shoulder.
On your word, man, did it look like that? cried Barnes.
Just like that.
Yes, I've heard it did, admitted Carey; but I never quite
believed it could have been as bad as that.
Who planned it all? the doctor asked, getting possession of the
photograph as Carey laid it down, and giving it careful scrutiny.
My little home-maker.
Joveare there any more like her?
They're pretty rare, I understand. Juliet has one in trainingone
with a good deal of native capacity, I should judge.
Let me know when her graduation day approaches, remarked the
* * * * *
When he fell asleep that night in the dainty guest-room Barnes was
wondering whether Mrs. Robeson got her own breakfasts, and hoping that
she certainly did not, at least when guests were in the house. He was
down half an hour earlier than necessary, and to his great satisfaction
found a slender figure brushing up ashes and setting the fireplace in
order for the morning fire. As he begged leave to help he noted the
satin smoothness of Miss Redding's heavy black hair and the trim
perfection of her attire. She reminded him of his hospital nurses in
their immaculate blue and white. When he saw the mistress of the house
and found her similarly dressed a certain skepticism grew in his mind.
When he went out to breakfast he murmured in Anthony's ear: Just
tell me, old fellowto satisfy the curiosity of a bachelordo these
girls of your household always look like this in the early morning? I
know it's meanbut you will know how to evade me if I'm too
Anthony glanced from Juliet, resembling a pink carnation in her wash
frockFebruary though it wasto Rachel Redding in dark blue and
white, and smiled mischievously. Mrs. Robesonand Miss Reddingyou
are challenged, he announced. Here's a fine old chump who has an
awful suspicion that maybe when there are no guests you come down in
calico wrappers with day-before-yesterday's aprons on.
Juliet gave the doctor a glance which made him pretend to shrink
behind Carey for protection. Will you please answer him, Tony? she
On my word and honour, Roger Barnes, then, said Anthony proudly,
they always look like this.
When the doctor left he was weighing carefully in his mind an urgent
problem: After waiting six months before making his first visit at the
Robesons, how soon could he decently come again?
Here are yer strawberries, ma'm.
Juliet, alone in her little kitchen, ran to the door in dismay. She
looked down at a freckle-faced boy carrying a big basket filled with
But my order was for next Wednesday, she said.
Well, Pa said he cal'lated you'd ruther have 'em when they was at
the best, an' that's now. This hot weather's a dryin' 'em up. May not
be any good ones by Wednesday.
Every housekeeper knows that if there is one thing particularly
liable to happen it is the arrival of fruit for preserving at the most
inopportune moment of the week. It matters little what the excuse of
the sender may bethere is always a sufficient reason why the original
date set by the buyer has been ignored. In this case the strawberries
had been engaged from a neighbour, and Juliet understood at once that
she must not refuse to take them.
She stood looking at the rows of baskets upon the table, when the
boy had placed them there and gone whistling away. She was in the midst
of a flurry of work. It was Saturday, and she was cooking and baking,
putting together various dishes to be used upon the morrow. Mr. Horatio
Marcy had lately returned from abroad. He and Mrs. Dingley were to
spend the coming Sabbath with Juliet and Anthonythe first occasion on
which Juliet's father should be entertained in the house. It was an
event of importance, and his daughter meant to show him several things
concerning her fitness for her present position.
Rachel Redding was not available upon this Saturday morning. Her
mother had been taken seriously ill the night before, and Rachel had
sent word that she could not leave her. Juliet had not minded much,
although it was a day when Rachel's help would have been especially
acceptable. As it was, she had reached a point where her housewifely
marshalling of the day's work was at a critical stage. A cake had been
put into the oven. A large bowl of soup stock had been brought from a
cool retreat to have the smooth coating of fat removed from its
surface. Various other dishes, in process of construction, awaited the
skilled touch of the cook.
I shall have to do them, I suppose, said Mrs. Robeson to herself,
regarding the strawberries with a disapproving eye. But why
they had to come to-day
She went at the strawberries, wishing she had ordered less. They
were fine berrieson top; by degrees, as the boxes lowered, they
became less fine. It seemed desirable to separate the superior from the
inferior and treat them differently. Only the best would do for the
delectable preserve which was to go into glasses and be served on
special occasions; the others could be made into jam less attractive to
the eye if hardly less acceptable to the palate. Juliet was obliged to
put down her berry-boxes every fifth minute to attend to one or other
of the various saucepans and double-boilers upon the little range. Her
cheeks grew flushed, for the day was hot and the kitchen hotter. It
must be admitted that her occasional glance out over the green fields
and the woods beyond was a longing one.
The better selection of the berries went into the clear syrup in the
preserving-kettle. Juliet flew to get her glass pots ready. She stopped
to stir something in a saucepan. She thrust some eggs into the small
ice-chest to cool them for the salad dressing soon to be made. She kept
one eye on the clock, for the strawberry preserve had to be timed to a
minuteten, no more, no less. It was a strenuous hour.
As she dipped up the fourth ladleful of crimson
richnesstranslucent as a church windowand filled the waiting jar, a
peculiar pungent odour drifted across the fragrance of the
strawberries. Juliet dropped her ladle and pulled open the oven door.
The delicate cake which she had compounded with especial care
because it was Mrs. Dingley's favourite, lay a blackened ruin. Some of
it had run over upon the oven bottom and become a mass of cinders.
Juliet jerked the cake-tin out into the daylight and shut the oven door
with a slam.
It was at this unpropitious moment that a figure appeared in the
doorwaya tall, slim figure, in crisp, cool, white linen. A charming
white hat surmounted Mrs. Wayne Carey's carefully ordered hair, a white
parasol in her hands completed a particularly chaste and appropriate
morning toilette for a young woman who had nothing to do with kitchens.
She was regarding with interest the young person at the range.
Juliet wore one of her characteristic working frocks, and the big
pinafore which enveloped it from head to foot was of an attractive
design. But the morning's flurry had set its signs upon her, and the
pinafore was not as immaculate as it had been three hours earlier. Her
hair, curling moistly about her flushed face, had been impatiently
pushed back more than once, and its disorder, while not unpicturesque,
was suggestive of a somewhat perturbed mind. Her hands were pink with
strawberry juice. She looked warm, tired, andif the truth must be
toldat the moment not a little out of temper. The smile with which
she welcomed her friend could hardly be said to be one of absolute
I'm afraid I've come at the wrong time, said Judith, regretfully.
Did you just burn something? Too bad. I suppose all young housekeepers
do that. Where's yourassistant?
She's not here to-day, said Juliet, ladling up strawberry preserve
with more haste than caution. Her fingers shook a little but she kept
her voice tranquil. It's all right. A number of things had to be done
at once, that's all. Please don't stay in this hot place. Take off your
hat and find a cool corner somewhere in the house. I'll be in
I mustn't bother you. I was going to stay for lunch with you, it
was so hot in town, but I mustn't think of it when you're so
Of course you'll stay, said Juliet with decision. What you see
before you is only the smoke of battle. It will soon clear away. Run
offand I'll be with you presently. You'll find the late magazines in
Her tone was intended to deceive and it was sufficiently successful.
Judith was anxious to stay. She was also interested in the situation.
She had heard much from Wayne in praise of Juliet's successful
housekeeping, and had seen enough of it herself to be curious about its
inner workings. For the first time she had happened upon a scene which
would seem to indicate that there were phases in this sort of domestic
life less ideal than she was asked to believe. She went back into the
coolness and quiet of the living-room with a full appreciation of the
fact that no hot kitchens ever threatened her own peace of mind.
Juliet finished her strawberry preserve, saw that everything liable
to burn was removed to safe quarters; then deliberately took off her
apron and stole out of the kitchen door. She went swiftly down through
the orchard to the willow-bordered path by the brook; then, out of
sight of everything human, ran several rods down it with a sweep of
skirts which put everything in the bird creation to flight. At a
certain pleasant spot among the willows, sheltered from all possible
observation, she paused and flung herself down upon the warm ground.
But not in any attitude of despair. Neither did she cry tears of
vexation and weariness. She was a healthy girl, with the perfect
physical being whose poise is not upset by so small a matter as a
fatiguing morning. Because a cake had burned, an extra amount of work
had had to be conquered and an unexpected guest had arrived, her nerves
were not worn to the rending point. But, having been reared in the
belief that a breath of outdoors is the great antidote for all physical
or mental discomforts born of confinement indoors, she had acquired a
habit of running away from her cares at any and all times of day in
precisely this fashionand many were the advantages she had reaped
from this somewhat unusual course of procedure.
Mrs. Anthony Robeson lay upon one side, her arm outstretched, her
cheek pillowed upon her arm. She was drawing long, deep breaths, and
looking lazily off at a stretch of blue sky cleft in the exact centre
by one great graceful elm tree. One would have thought she had
forgotten every care in the world, not to mention the guest from the
city waiting expectantly for her hostess to appear. After ten minutes
of this sort of indolence the figure in the blue and white print dress
sat up, clasped both arms about her knees and remained regarding with
half closed eyes the softly fluttering leaves of the willows along the
edge of the brook. The hot flush died out of her cheeks; the lips whose
expression a few minutes since had indicated self-control under a
combination of trying circumstances, relaxed into their natural
sweetness with a tendency toward mirth; and her whole aspect became
that merely of the young athlete resting from one encounter and
preparing herself for another.
At length she rose, shook out her skirts, and said aloud: Now,
Judith Dearborn Carey, I'm ready to upset your expectations. Since you
looked in at me this morning you've been thinking I wished I
hadn'thaven't you? Well, you may just understand that I don't wish
anything of the sort. And in five minutes more she had walked in upon
her guest by way of the front door, her pretty face serene, her hands
full of pink June roses which she threw in a fragrant mass of beauty
into her friend's lap.
Put those into bowls for me, will you? she requested. Arrange
them to suit yourself. Aren't they lovely? I suppose you're getting
hungry. In half an hour you shall be served with a very modest but, I
trust, not insufficient lunch. Would you like hot chocolate or iced
Iced tea, by all means, chose Judith, who, being used to the
privileges of selection from a variety of offered foods and beverages,
was apt to want what was not set before her, when at a private table.
Juliet understood this propensity of her friend and slyly took
advantage of it. As it happened, she knew that at the moment she was
quite out of chocolate, but she had counted advisedly upon Judith's
choice on a hot June day, and she smiled to herself as she chopped ice
and sliced lemon.
At the end of the half hour, Judith, who found the coolness of the
living-room too delightful to allow her to keep watch of her friend in
the hot kitchen, much as she was tempted to do so, was summoned to an
equally cool dining-room. Upon the bare table, daintily set out upon
some of the embroidered white doilies of Juliet's wedding linen, was a
simple lunch of a character which appealed to the guest's critical
appetite in a way which made her draw a long breath of satisfaction.
You certainly do have a trick of serving things to make them taste
better than other people's, she acknowledged, glancing from the little
platter of broiled chicken with its bit of parsley to the crisp fruit
salad made up of she knew not what, but presenting an appetising
appearancethen regarding fondly a dish of spinach, pleasingly flanked
by thin slices of boiled egg.
It's really too hot to eat anything very solid, agreed Juliet with
guile. Rachel and I have a way of planning our lunches a day or two
ahead, so that the leftovers we use up are not yesterday's but the day
before's, and we remember with surprise how good the original dish was
far back in the past. I wish Anthony could have his midday meal at
homethough perhaps if he did the dinners wouldn't strike him so
happily. Don't you think it's great fun to see a big, hearty man sit
down at a table and look at it with an expression of adoration? Women
may deride the fact as they will, but a healthy body does demand good
things to eat, and shouldn't be blamed for liking them.
Wayne hasn't much appetite, said Judith, eating away with relish.
He dislikes the people at our tablesometimes I think that's why he
bolts his food and gets off in such a hurry. By the way, Juliet, are
you and Tony coming in to the Reardons' to-night? Of course you are.
I suppose we must, admitted Juliet with reluctance. We have
refused a good many things since we've been here, but I did promise
Mrs. Reardon we would try to come to-night.
The little repast over, Judith offered, with well simulated warmth,
to help her friend with the after work. But Juliet would have none of
her. She sent her guest out into a hammock under the trees, and
despatched the business of putting the little kitchen to rights with
the celerity of one who means to have done with it.
In the middle of the June afternoon Judith awoke from a nap in the
hammock to find her hostess standing laughing beside her, fresh in a
thin gown of flowered dimity.
Well, yawned Judith, heavily, I must have gone off to sleep. I
was tiredI am tireder. This is a fatiguing sort of weatherdon't you
think so? But you don't look it. And after all that work I found you
in! Why aren't you used up? It kills me to do things in the
Juliet dropped a big blue denim pillow on the ground and sat down
upon it in a flutter of dimity. She lifted a smiling face and said with
Last summer I could walk miles over a golf course twice a day and
not mind it in the least. The year before I was most of the time on the
river, rowing till I was as strong as a girl could be. I've had
gymnasium work and fencing lessons and have been brought up to keep
myself in perfect trim by my baths and exercise. What frail thing am I
that a little housework should use me up?
YesI knowyou always did go in for that sort of thing,
reflected Judith, eyeing her companion's fresh colour and bright eyes.
I suppose I ought, but I never cared for itI don't mean the baths
and all thatof course any self-respecting woman adores warm baths. I
don't like the cold plunges and showers you always add on.
Then don't expect the results.
It isn't everybody who has your energetic temperament. I hate golf,
despise tennis, never rowed a stroke in my life, and could no more keep
house as you are doing than I could fly.
Let me see, said Juliet demurely, pretending to consider. What is
it that you do like to do?
You know well enough. And little enough of it I can get now with a
husband who never cares to stir. There was a suspicion of bitterness
in Judith's voice. But Juliet, ignoring it, went blithely on:
I've a strong conviction that one can't be happy without being
busy. Now that I can't keep up my athletic sports I should become a
pale hypochondriac without these housewifely affairs to employ me. I
don't like to embroider. I can't paint china. I'm not a musician. I
somehow don't care to begin to devote myself to clubs in town. I love
my books and the great outdoorsand plenty of action.
You're a strange girl, was Judith's verdict, getting languidly out
of the hammock, an hour later, after an animated discussion with her
friend on various matters touching on the lives of both. Either you're
a remarkable actress or you're as contented as you seem to be. I wish I
had your enthusiasm. Everything bores meLook at this frock, after
lying in a hammock! Isn't white linen the prettiest thing when you put
it on and the most used up when you take it off, of any fabric known to
It is, indeed. But if anybody can afford to wear it it's you, who
never sit recklessly about on banks and fences, but keep cool and
correct and stately and
discontented. I admit I've talked like a fractious child all day.
But I've had a good time and want to come oftener than I have. May I?
Of course you may. Must you go? I'll keep you to dinner and send
You're an angel, but I've an engagement for five o'clock, and
there's the Reardons' this evening. You won't forget that? You and
Anthony will be sure to come?
I'll not promise absolutely, but I'll see. Mrs. Reardon was so kind
as to leave it open. It's an informal affair, I believe?
Informal, but very gorgeous, just the same. She wouldn't give
anybody but you such an elastic invitation as that, and you should
appreciate her eagerness to get you, declared Judith, who cared very
much from whom her invitations came and could never understand her
friend's careless attitude toward the most impressive of them.
Juliet watched her guest go down the street, and waved an
affectionate hand at her as Judith looked back from her seat in the
trolley car. Poor old Judy, she said to herself. How glad you are
you're not I!And how very, very glad I am I'm not you!
An observation, it must be admitted, essentially feminine. No man is
ever heard to felicitate himself upon the fact that he is not some
XV.ANTHONY PLAYS MAID
After dinner that night, Juliet, having once more put things in
order and slipped off the big pinafore which had kept her spotless,
joined her husband in the garden up and down which he was comfortably
pacing, hands in pockets, pipe in mouth.
Jolly spot, isn't it? Come and perambulate, he suggested.
Just for a minute. Tony, are we going to the Reardons?
He stood still and considered. I don't know. Are we? Did you
On condition that you felt like it. I represented you as coming
home decidedly fagged these hot nights and not always caring to stir.
Wise schemer! I don't mind the aspersion on my physical being. She
urged, I suppose?
She did. I don't know why.
I do. Anthony smiled down at his wife. Everybody is a bit curious
about us these days. Your position, you see, is considered very
Nonsense, Tony. Shall we go?
Possibly we'd better, though it racks my soul to think of dressing.
The less I wear my festive garments the less I want to. For that very
reason, suppose we discipline ourselves and go. Do you mind?
Not at all. We'll have to dress at once, for it's nearly eight now,
and by the time we have caught a train and got to Hollyhurst
To be sure. Here goes, then.
Half an hour later Anthony, wrestling with a refractory cuff button,
looked up to see his wife at his elbow. She was very nearly a vision of
elegance and beauty; the lacking essential was explained to him by a
voice very much out of breath and a trifle petulant:
If you care anything for me, Tony, stop everything and hook me up.
I'm all mixed up, and I can't reach, and I'm sure I've torn that little
lace frill at the back.
All right. Where do I begin?
Under my left arm, I thinkI can't possibly see.
Neither can I. He was poking about under the lifted arm, among
folds of filmy stuff. Here we areno, we aren't. Does this top hook
go in this little pocket on the other side?
I suppose socan't you tell whether it does by the look?
It seems a bit blind to me, murmured Anthony, struggling.
It's meant to be blindit mustn't show when it's fastened.
It certainly doesn't now. Hold ondon't wriggle. I've got it now.
I've found the combination. Three turns to the right, five to the left,
clear around once, thenHullo! I've come out wrong. The thing doesn't
track at the bottom.
You've missed a hook.
Oh, no. I hung onto 'em all the way down.
Then you missed an eye. You'll have to unhook it all and begin
Anthony obeyed. I'm glad I don't have to get into my clothes around
the corner this way, he commented. Here you are. We stuck to the
schedule this time.
Wait, dear. You haven't fastened the shoulder. There are ever so
many little hooks along there and around the arm hole.
I should say there were. What's the good of so many?Where do they
begin? Look outwait a minuteJuliet, if you don't stop twisting
around so I never can do it. I can do great, heroic acts, it's the
little trials that floor meThereno!that doesn't look right.
Juliet ran to the mirror. It isn't right, she cried. Lookthat
corner shouldn't lap over like that. Oh, if I could only reach myself!
You can'tI've often tried it. The human anatomyStand still,
Julieyou're getting nervous.
If there's one thing that's trying murmured Juliet.
Why do you let your dressmakers build your frocks this way? Why not
get into 'em all in front, where you can see what you're doing?Now
I've got it. Isn't that right?
Yes. Wait, Tonyhere's the girdle. It fastens behind.
Anthony surveyed the incomprehensible affair of silk and velvet
ribbon she put into his hands. Looks like a head-stall to me, he
said. Juliet laughed and fitted it about her own waist. Anthony
attempted to make it join at the back of the points she held out to
It won't come together, he said.
Oh, yes, it will. Draw it tight.
I am drawing it tight. It's smaller than you are. You can't wear
Juliet laughed again. Anthony tugged.
Wait till I hold my breath, she said.
Great guns! he ejaculated, and by the exertion of much
force fastened the girdle. Then he stood off a step or two and looked
at his wife curiously. Flushed and laughing she returned his gaze.
Can you breathe? he asked solicitously.
Of course I can.
It is a little tight, of course, she admitted. This is one of my
trousseau dresses. I've grown a little stouter, I suppose. Never mind,
I can stand it for to-night. Thank you very much. You must hurry now,
I haven't had my pay for playing maid, he said, and came close. He
surveyed his wife's fair neck and shoulders, turned her around and
deliberately kissed the soft hollow where the firm white flesh of her
neck met the waving brown hair drawn lightly upwards.
That's the spot that tantalized me for about six years, he
Hunting hurriedly through various drawers and boxes in the
blue-and-white room, in search of gloves and fan, Juliet heard her
husband come in his turn to her open door.
Will you have the goodness to look at me? he requested, in a
melancholy voice. Juliet turned, gave him one glance, and broke into a
Oh, Tony!What's the matter? Have you been growing stouter, too?
It must be, he said solemnly.
His clawhammer coat was so tight across the shoulders that the
strain was evident. He was holding his arms in the exaggerated position
of the small boy who wears a last year's suit. Juliet revolved around
her husband's well built figure with interest.
It does look tight, she said. But have you grown heavier all at
once? It can't be long since you wore that coat before.
Don't believe I have for months. It's been altogether frock-coats
and informals. I haven't been to an evening affair with ladies for a
It doesn't look as it feels, I'm sure. It's getting very latewe
ought to be off, and Juliet gathered up her belongings and gave him a
long loose coat to hold for her which covered her finery completely.
Now's the hour when I regret that I haven't a carriage for you,
said Anthony, as they descended the stairs. He got into his outer coat
reluctantly. I shall split something around my back before the evening
is over, he prophesied resignedly.
Never mind. Remember how tight my girdle is. It grows tighter every
They got out upon the porch and Anthony locked the door. If I
should show that door-key to any man I know except Carey he would
howl, he remarked, holding up the queer old brass affair before he
slipped it into his pocket. He looked down at Juliet in the gathering
June twilight. Don't you wish we didn't have to go?
Yes, I do, she agreed frankly.
My dear boy! At this hour?
We could telephone.
Shouldn't you feel rather ashamed to, so late?
Not a bit. But of course we'll go if you say so.
She laughed, and he joined her boyishly. She hesitated.
If I see you looking faint in that girdle shall I throw a glass of
cold water over you?
Please do. If I hear a sound as of rending cloth shall I divert the
attention of the company?
By all means.
They were laughing like two children. Anthony sat down in one of the
porch chairs. He drew a long sigh. I never hated to leave my dear home
so since I came into it, he said gloomily.
Juliet pulled off her coat. If you'll do the telephoning I'll
stay, she said.
He jumped to his feet. Let me loosen that girdle for you. I haven't
been breathing below the fifth rib myself since you put it on, just in
sympathy, he declared.
The trouble is, said Anthony Robeson, shifting his position on the
step below Juliet so that he could rest his head against her knee, the
trouble is we're getting too popular.
Juliet laughed and ran her fingers through his thick locks, gently
tweaking them. The two were alone together in the warm darkness of a
July evening, upon their own little porch.
It's the first evening we've had to ourselves since the big
snowdrift under the front windows melted. That was about the date Roger
Barnes met Louis Lockwood here the first time. Ye godsbut they've
kept each other's footprints warm since then, haven't they? And now
Cathcart is giving indications of having contracted the fatal malady.
Can't Rachel Redding be incarcerated somewhere until the next moon is
past? I notice they all have worse symptoms each third quarter. That
girl looks innocent, butby heaven, Julie, I think she has it down
No, you don't, said Juliet persuasively. I should catch her at it
if she were deliberately trying to keep two such men as Roger and Louis
pitted against each other. They're doing it all themselves. I've known
her to run away when she saw one of them comingso that she couldn't
be found. But, Tony dear, I've a plan.
Good. I hope it's a duel between the two principals. If it is I'm
going to tamper with the weapons and see that each injures himself past
help. I'm getting a little weary of playing the hospitable host to a
trio of would-bes.
Listen. We'll entertain them all at once for a week, with some
extra girls, and Judith and Wayne, and then we'll announce that we're
not at home for a month.
All at oncea house-party? Anthony sat up and laughed
uproariously. I've tremendous faith in you, love, but where in the
name of all the French sardines that ever were dovetailed would you put
such a crowd?
I've a practical plan. Louis Lockwood belongs to a fishing club
that spends every August up in Canada. They have a big tent, twenty by
twenty-five, for he told me so the other day. He would get it for us;
we would put it out in the orchard, close to the river. You and Wayne,
and Roger and Louis, and Stevens Cathcart could sleep down there, and I
could easily take care of Judith and Suzanne Gerard and Marie Dresser,
here in the house. Rachel should stay here, too. And Auntie Dingley
would send down Mary McKaim to cook for us, I'm sure.
That's not so bad. But why Rachelwhen you have so little room?
Because I want her to have all the fun; because if I don't keep her
here she will be running away half the time; and because
Now comes the real reason, observed Anthony sagely.
I don't want the other girls thinking she has the unfair advantage
of taking a man away from the party every evening to walk down home
Wise little chaperon. I can see Roger and Louis now, glaring at
each other as the hour approaches for her departure.
What do you think of my plan? It's only a plan, you know,
Tonysubject to your approval.
Diplomat! murmured Anthony, reaching up one arm and drawing it
about her shoulders. You know you're safe to have my approval when you
put it in that tone. Well, provided you can figure out the
financesand I know you wouldn't propose it if you hadn't done that
alreadyI don't see any objection. On one condition, though, Julie,
mind youon one condition.
Of course, I can only be here evenings during your house party. So
my condition is that I have you and the home all to myself for my
vacation afterward. Not a wooer nor a chum admitted. No overdressed
women out from town, taking afternoon teano invitations to lonesome
husbands out to dinner. Just you and I. Did you ever imagine life in
the rural localities would be so gay, anyhow? I want to go fishing with
youtramping through the woods with yousitting out here on the porch
with youin short, have you all to myselfandhe turned completely
about, kneeling below her on the step, crushing her in both arms so
vigorously that he stopped her breatheatyouup!
What a prospect, she cried softly, when she found herself
partially released. Are you sure you need a vacation, just for that?
Certain of it. I've had to share you with other people all the
yearand now I've got to give you up to a jealous lovers' assemblage.
So after that, mind you, I have my satisfaction.
* * * * *
When Doctor Barnes was told of the plan he looked gloomy. Going to
ask Lockwood? he inquired at once.
Of course, assented Juliet promptly.
I don't see any 'of course' about it.
What would Marie Dresser do to me if I didn't invite him?
He doesn't care for her
Oh, yes, he does. Why, last winter he seemed to be on the point of
asking her to marry him. Everybody expected the announcement any day.
Last winter and this summer are two different propositions.
Marie doesn't think so.
She'll get mightily undeceived, then. Whom else are you asking?
The doctor groaned. Is this a dose you're fixing for me? I'm going
to be too busyI can't come.
Very well, said Juliet placidly. She was sewing, upon the porch,
and the doctor sat on the step.
He looked up with a grimace. I suppose you think I'll be out on the
next train after the rest arrive.
I certainly do, Dr. Roger Williams Barnes.
I presume you are inviting Suzanne? he queried.
No reason why not. Cathcart admires her immenselyor did, before
he began to cultivate this place.
Juliet laughed. Suzanne would never forgive you if she heard that.
By-the-way, said the doctor slowly, has she ever metMiss
He meditated for several minutes in silence, while Juliet sewed,
glancing from time to time at one of the most attractive masculine
profiles with which she was familiar. He was not as handsome a man as
Louis Lockwood, but every line of his face stood for strength, not
without some pretensions to good looks. He looked up at length and
straight at her.
Would you mind telling me, he began, just what you intend to
effect with this combination? I never gave you credit, you know,
Juliet, for wanting to manage Fate, and I don't believe it now.
No, I don't want to manage Fate, said Juliet, smiling over her
work, but I admit I want two things: I want you to see Rachel Redding
beside Suzanne Gerard, andI want Rachel to see you beside Louis
I see, said the doctor grimly. In other words, you want your
protégée to have fair play.
Just that, Juliet answered, more gravely now. I think lots of
you, Roger, and well of youyou know I doand yet
Let me guard my girl. She's not like the others, and you and Louis
are making it tremendously hard for her between you.
You seem to be planning to make it infinitely harder.
Juliet shook her head. Trust me, Roger, please.
All right, I will, promised the doctor. But just assure me that
you're on my side.
I'm on nobody's side, was all the comfort he got.
Juliet's invitations received delighted acceptances, though Wayne
Carey and Doctor Barnes would be able to come out only for the
nightsin time, however, for late and festive suppers outdoors. The
tent in the orchard, with its comfortable bunks, was accepted by all
the men with enthusiasm.
And to satisfy the men is the essential thing, you know, Tony,
Juliet had observed sagely when she saw their pleasure in their
quarters. The girls will accept any crowding together if they have a
mirror and room to tie a sash in, as long as devoted admirers are not
The moment Miss Dresser and Miss Gerard saw Miss Rachel Reddingto
quote Anthonythe fun began. Mrs. Wayne Carey had already met her, and
had been carefully coached by Juliet as to the bearing she must assume
toward Juliet's new friend. So when Marie and Suzanne began to inquire
of Judith the latter was prepared to answer them.
She's a beauty in her way, isn't she? Judith asserted. Juliet's
immensely fond of her, I should judge.
But who is she? demanded Suzanne.
A neighbour, a country girl, a school and college girl, a
comparatively poor girland a lucky girl, for Juliet likes her.
Have the men met her before?
Goodness, yes. Haven't you heard how they beg invitations home to
dinner of Anthony, just to see her? Judith was enjoying the situation.
This statement, however, was no part of Juliet's coaching.
I didn't see anything particularly attractive about her, said
Marie promptly. She's a demure thing. One wouldn't think she ever
lifted those long lashes to look at a manbut that's just the kind.
Awfully plainly dressed.
That's her style, said Suzanne. These poor, pretty girls are once
in a while just clever enough to make capital out of their poverty by
wearing simply fetching things in pale gray dimity and dark blue lawn
and sunbonnets. Stevens Cathcart would be just the kind to be carried
away with her. Roger Barnes wouldn't look at her twice.
Louis might pretend to admire her, to please Juliet, admitted
Marie. He has a way of making every girl think he is in love with
herand he is, to a certain extent. But it's never serious.
Whether it were serious in this instance Miss Dresser soon had
opportunity to judge.
After dinner that first night Anthony proposed taking all his guests
out upon the river in a big flat-boat he had rented. But when he made
up the party Rachel was not to be found.
I'm afraid she's gone home, said Juliet.
I'll run down and see, proposed Lockwood instantly, and was
suiting the action to the word when Cathcart got off ahead of him.
I'll have her back presently, he called as he dashed down the
road. You people go onwe'll catch you.
We'll wait for you, Lockwood shouted after him.
Why should we wait? demurred Marie, beginning to walk away toward
If we don't he's liable not to find it convenient to catch up with
us, Lockwood retorted.
If they prefer their own company why not let them have it? she
said over her shoulder.
Run along, Louis, murmured Doctor Barnes. One girl at a time.
He turned to Juliet. Shall we go? he said.
Anthony caught his glance, and, laughing, turned to Suzanne. Will
you console an old married man, Miss Gerard? he inquired.
But when Cathcart reappeared, which he did very soon, Rachel was not
with him. She said she had to stay with her mother, he explained in a
tone which so closely resembled a growl that everybody laughed.
Bear up, Stevie, boy, chaffed Wayne Carey. I'm confident she
likes you, but she may not like you all the time, you know. They seldom
XVII.RACHEL CAUSES ANXIETY
In spite of all Juliet's efforts to bring about Rachel's presence as
one of her guests she found herself unable to accomplish it. Whenever
she was needed for help Rachel was never absent, but the moment she was
free the girl was off, and that quite without the appearance of running
away. The men of the party followed her, but they were not allowed to
remain. The girls, confident that her disappearances were part of a
very deep game, begged her to stay; it was useless. Rachel's excuses
were ready, her manner charmingly regretful in a quiet way, but stay
she would not.
Dr. Roger Barnes waylaid her one evening as she was vanishing down
the willow-bordered path by the brook, leading to her own home.
Here you go again, he began discontentedly. I wish I knew why.
Rachel paused. It was difficult to do otherwise with a large and
determined figure blocking a very narrow path.
I have ever so many things waiting at home for me to do.
At nine o'clock in the evening?
At whatever hour I am through at Mrs. Robeson's.
I wish I could imagine something of what they are. It might relieve
my mind a little.
Why, I will tell you, said Rachel with great appearance of
frankness. I have to do some mending for mother, read the evening
paper for father, and set the bread. Then the clothes must be sprinkled
for ironing in the morning.
The doctor studied her face in the dimming light. Who washed the
clothes? he asked bluntly.
Do you think you ought to ask? said Rachel.
Yes. I'm in the habit of asking questions.
Of everybody I care for. You don't have to answer, but if you don't
I shall know who did the washing.
Yes, I did it, said Rachel steadily. It is easily done.
And then you came over here and got breakfast?
Not at all. I helped Mrs. Robeson and Mary McKaim get it. Doctor
Barnes, do you know that you are standing directly in my path?
Certainly, said the doctor. It's what I'm here for.
Then I shall have to go back and take the road home.
If you do you will evade me only to encounter another man.
Lockwood's keeping a ferret's eye on the Robeson house door; and I
think Cathcart is already patrolling the road in front of your house.
The girl turned. You are making me feel very absurd, she said. I
want to go home, Doctor Barnes. Please let me pass you.
May I go with you?
I would rather not.
Well, that's frank, he said, amusement and chagrin struggling for
the uppermost. I wonder I don't stalk angrily away
I wish you would.
Roger Barnes threw back his head and laughed. I wish you would give
some other girls a leaf out of your book, he said. The more you turn
me down the more ardently I long to be with you; while the opposite
sort of thingI'll tell you, Miss Redding, if you want to be rid of me
try these tactics: Say with a languishing smile, 'Oh, Doctor Barnes,
won't you take me a little way down this lovely path?' Perhaps that
will accomplish your ends. I've often felt an instant desire not to do
the thing I'm begged to.
'Oh, Doctor Barnes,' said Rachel Reddingand he caught the
mischief in her toneeven Rachel could be mischievous, as Juliet had
said'won't you take me a little way down this lovely path?'
With the greatest pleasure in the world, replied the doctor
promptly, and stood aside to let her pass him. Whereupon she slipped by
him, and before he could realise that she had gone was running fleetly
away in the twilight down the winding, willow-hung path. With an
exclamation he was off after her, but though he dashed at the pace of a
hunter through the intricacies of the way he presently discovered that
he was following nothing but the summer breeze rustling the willow
leaves and wafting into his face the breath of new-cut hay, the
aftermath of late July. He stopped at length and stared about him,
baffled and half angry.
There never was a girl like you, he muttered. If you are
deliberately trying to make men mad to get you you are succeeding
infuriatingly well. If I catch you to-night it will be your fault if I
tell you what I think of you. I'll tell you now, for I suppose you are
hiding somewhere in this undergrowth till I give it up and you can get
away home. You shall listen to me if you are here, for you can't help
He was speaking in a low, even tone, walking slowly along the path
and peering sharply into the bushes on both sides. Suddenly he stood
still. He had detected a spot beside a low-hanging willow which showed
nearly white in the deepening darkness. Rachel was wearing white
to-night, he remembered. His heart quickened its paces and he paused an
instant to get past a certain tightening in his throat.
Then he bent forward and whispered: If that's not you there I can
say what I like, and there'll be some satisfaction in that. If you'll
speak now you may save yourself, but if you don't I've no reason to
think it's you, and so I can say
There was a sharply perceptible noise farther down the path toward
the Redding home. Barnes turned quickly and stood up straight, waiting.
Footsteps came rapidly along the pathno footsteps of hers, evidently.
A man's voice humming a tune grew momentarily plainerthen the voice
stopped humming and began to sing in a subdued but clear and fine
Down through the lane
Come I again
Seeking, my love, for you;
Run to me, dear,
Losing all fear,
The voice stopped. Two men's figures confronted each other in an
extremely narrow path. It was not too dark yet for each to be plainly
recognisable to the other.
Hallothat you, Lockwood?
Hi there, Roger Barnes; what you doing here? Fishing?
Looking for something I've lost.
Getting pretty dark to find it. Something valuable?
Rather. Think I'll give it up for to-night.
Too bad. Nice night. Lockwood was hastening toward the end of the
path which came out near Anthony's house. Barnes looked after him
That voice of yours, young man, he thought, handicaps me from the
start. Now, if I could just warble my emotions that way
He turned and peered again at the white place by the tree. He moved
stealthily toward it, and ascertained presently that it was not what it
seemed. He rose to his feet and walked rapidly down the path to the
Redding house. When he came in sight of it he saw that the kitchen
windows were lighted and that a man stood with his arm on the sill of
one of them. Silhouetted against the light were the familiar outlines
of Stevens Cathcart. As Barnes stood staring amazedly at this, a
slender figure in white came to the window, and in the stillness he
could hear the quiet voice:
Please let me close the window, Mr. Cathcart. Thank younoand
'Three Men in a Boat,' by Rachel Redding, murmured the doctor to
himself, and slipped back to the willow path, from which he at length
emerged to join the group upon the porchwhich then, it may be
observed, held for the first time that night its full complement of
Three big Chinese lanterns shed a softly pleasant light upon the
porch and the lawn at its foot. Suzanne Gerard and Marie Dresser made a
most attractive picture, one in a low chair, the other upon a pile of
cushions on the step. Suzanne lightly picked a mandolin. Marie was
Down through the lane
Come I again
Seeking, my love, for you;
Run to me, dear,
Losing all fear,
Love and my life will be true.
It was one of the songs of the summerfoolish words, seductive
musiceverybody hummed it half the time. Roger Barnes smiled to
himself, remembering where he had heard it last.
Come here and give account, commanded Suzanne the instant he
appeared. Every unmarried man vanished the moment twilight fell. You
are the last to show your face. I challenge you, one and all, to swear
that you have not been within sight of a certain small brown house at
the foot of the hill since supper.
Her voice was music; in her eyes was laughter. Marie sang on,
pointing her words with smiles at one and another of the culprits.
From his seat on the threshold of the door, where his head rested
against Juliet's knee as she sat behind him, Anthony laughed to
himself. Then he turned his head and whispered to his wife: Feel the
claws through the velvet? Poor boys, they have my sympathy.
XVIII.AN UNKNOWN QUANTITY
Rachel, said Juliet decisively, next morning, to-night is the
last of my house party, and I refuse to let you off. I'm asking ten or
twelve more people out from town. You must spend this evening with my
guests, or forfeit my friendship.
She was smiling as she said it, but her tone was not to be denied.
If that is the alternative, Rachel answered, returning the smile
with an affectionate look of a sort which neither Louis Lockwood nor
Stevens Cathcart nor Dr. Roger Barnes had ever seen on her facethough
they had dreamed of itof course I shall stay. But I'll tell you
frankly I would rather not.
Why not, Rachel?
I think you know why not, Mrs. Robeson, Rachel answered.
Yes, I know why not, admitted Juliet. Girls are queer things,
Ray. They defeat their own ends all the timelots of them. Suzanne and
Marie are dear girls, with ever so many nice things about them, but
they don'tthey don't know enough not to pursue, chase, run down, the
object of their desires. And, of course, the object, being run down
panting, into a corner, dodges, evades, gets out and runs away. Rachel,
dear, what are you going to wear to-night?
My best frock, said Rachel, smiling.
Cut out at the neck?
Short in the sleeves?
To the elbows. It was my sophomore evening dress.
It will be all right, I know. Rachel, wear a white rose in those
low black braids of yourswill you?
No, I think I won't, refused Rachel.
Rachel did not answer. Into her cool cheek crept a tinge of
rebellious, telltale colour.
Juliet studied her a minute in silence, then came up to her and
laying both hands on her shoulders looked up into her eyes.
You try to 'play fair,' don't you, dear? she said heartily,
whatever the rest may do. And whatever they may do, Rachel Redding,
don't you care. It's not your fault that they are as jealous of you as
girls can be and keep sweet outside. I'd be jealous of you myself
if She paused, laughing.
When you grow jealous, said Rachel, it will be because you have
grown blind. If anybody ever wore his heart on his sleeveno, not
therebut beating sturdily in the right place for one woman in the
Right you are, said Anthony Robeson, coming up behind them, and I
hope you may convince her of it. She has no confidence in her own
Rachel stood looking at them a moment, her dark eyes very bright.
To see you two, she said slowly at length, is to believe it all.
The evening promised to be a gay one. The men of the party had sent
to town for many lanterns, flags and decorations of the sort, and had
made the porch and lawn the setting for a brilliant scene. A dozen
young people had been asked out, and came enthusiastically.
We'll wind up with a flourish, said Anthony in his wife's ear as
they descended the stairs together, and then we'll send them all off
to-morrow where they'll cease from troubling. I think it was the best
plan in the world, but I'll be glad to prowl about my beloved home
without observing Cathcart scowling at Lockwood, Roger Barnes evading
Suzanne, or even my good boy Wayne with that eternal wonder on his face
as to why his flat does not look like our Eden.
Hushand don't look too happy to-morrow, Tony. Oh, here comes
Rachel. Isn't she lovely?
Now, watch, murmured Anthony, his face full of amusement. It's as
good as the best comedy I ever saw. See Suzanne. She never looked
toward Rachel, but don't tell me she wasn't aware of the very instant
Rachel came upon the porch. I believe she read it in Roger Barnes's
face. I'll wager ten to one his pulse isn't countable at the present
I don't blame him, Juliet answered, smiling at her guests. She's
my ideal of a girl who won't hold out a finger to the men.
Yes, she's your sort, admitted Anthony. I know what it ispoor
fellowsI've been through it. Your cold shoulder used to warm up my
heart hotter than any other girl's kindness. Look at the boys now. They
can't jump and run away from the other girls, but they'd like to. And
they're all deadly anxious for fear the others will get the start. Say,
Julie, you ought not to have asked those new youngsters down from town.
They'll catch it, sure as fate; they're at the susceptible age. I see
five of them now, all staring at Rachel.
You positively mustn't stay here with me any longer, whispered
Juliet. Go and devote yourself to her and keep them off for a little.
Not on your life, Anthony returned She can take care of herself.
If I mix up in this fray you're likely to be husbandless. Lockwood and
Roger are getting dangerous, and I'm going to keep on the outskirts
where it's safe.
They were all upon the lawnRachel, unable to help herself,
according to Anthony's intimation, the centre of a group of men who
would not give each other a chancewhen a stranger appeared upon the
edge of the circle of light. He stood watching the scene for a
momenta tall, slender fellow, with a pale face and deep-set eyes.
Then he asked somebody to tell Miss Redding that Mr. Huntington would
like to speak with her. Rachel, thus summoned, rose, looked about her,
caught sight of the stranger, and went swiftly down the lawn. A dozen
people, among them all the men who had been the guests of the week, saw
the meeting. They observed that the newcomer put out both hands, that
his smile was very bright, and that he stood looking down into Miss
Redding's face as if at sight of it he had instantly forgotten
everything else in the world.
Rachel, leaving him, came back up the lawn to find her hostess. As
she passed it became evident to a good many pairs of sharp eyes that
her beauty had received a keen accession from the sweeping over her
cheeks of a burning blushso unusual that they could not fail to take
note of it.
Juliet came back down the lawn with Rachel, who presented Mr.
Huntington; and presently, without a word of leave-taking to any one
else, the two went away down the road.
Now, who under the heavens was that? grunted Louis Lockwood in
Anthony's ear, catching his host around the corner of the house.
Just a messenger, maybe?
Give it up.
She blushed like anything.
Did she? Man she is going to marry, probably.
Oh, that can't be!
The lady looks marriageable to me, observed Anthony, strolling
He ran into Cathcart.
Say, who was that fellow, Tony? began Stevens.
Don't ask me.
He looked confoundedly as if he meant to embrace her on the spot.
So he did, agreed Anthony soothingly. Don't blame him, do you? He
may not have seen her for a month. What condition do you suppose you'd
be in if a week should get away from you out of her vicinity?
Bother you, Tonydon't you know who he was?
Intimate friend, I should judge.
She turned pink as a carnation.
Say hollyhock, suggested Anthony, or peony. Only a vivid colour
could do justice to it.
That's right, groaned Cathcart. She never looked like that for
any of us.
Never, said Anthony promptly, and got away, chuckling.
Hold on, there, Robeson, man, said the voice of Dr. Roger Barnes,
and Anthony found himself again held up.
Come on, old Roger boy, said his host pleasantly. We'll amble
down the road a bit and give you a chance to get a grip on yourself.
No, I don't know who he is. I'm all worn out assuring Louis and Steve
of that. She did turn red, she did look upsetwith joy, I infer. That
girl has made more havoc in one short weekplaying off all the while,
toothan Suzanne and Marie have accomplished in the biggest season
they ever knew. And I believe, Roger boy, you're about the hardest hit
of any of them.
The doctor did not answer. The two had walked away from the house
and were marching arm in arm at a good pace down the road.
She's as poor as a church mouse, suggested Anthony.
There was no reply.
She has a dead weight of a helpless father and mother.
The doctor put match to a cigar.
Juliet says her brother died of dissipation in a gambling-house.
Doctor Barnes began to chew hard on a cigar that he had failed to
But she's a mighty sweet girl, said Anthony softly.
See here, Tony, the doctor burst out.Oh, hang it all
I see, said his friend, with a hand on his shoulder. Go ahead,
Roger Barnesthere's nothing in life like it; and the good Lord have
mercy on you, for the sort of girl worth caring for doesn't know the
meaning of the word.
* * * * *
All gone, little girl, said Anthony jubilantly, as he turned back
into the house the next evening, after watching out of sight the big
touring-car of Lockwood's which had carried all his house-party away at
once. They are mighty fine people and I like them all
immenselybutI have enjoyed to the full this speeding the parting
guest. And now for my vacation. It begins to-morrow.
What shall we do? asked Juliet, allowing him to draw her into his
favourite settle corner.
Go fishing. If you'll put up a jolly littleI mean a jolly
biglunch, and array yourself in unspoilable attire, I'll give you a
day's great sport, whether we catch any fish or not. There's one fish
you're sure ofhe's always on the end of your line: hooked fast, and
resigned to his fate. Juliet, are they really all gone?
I'm sure they are.
Good Mary McKaimpeace be to her ashes, for she never gets any on
the toasthas she gone, too?
Rachel safe at home with her presumable fiancé?
He can't be her fiancé, Tony
That's what Lockwood saidbut I suppose he can, just the same.
Rachel away, do you say?
Yes. She didn't come over to-day at all, you know.
I noticed itby the gloom on three stalwart men's faces. Well, if
everybody's safely out of the way I'm going to commit myself.
To what, Tony?
She was laughing, for he had risen, looked all about him with great
anxiety, tiptoed to each door and listened at it, and was now come back
to stand before her, smiling down at her and holding out his arms.
To the statement, he said, gathering her close and speaking into
her upturned rosy face, that without doubt this is the dearest home in
the world, and that you are the sweetest woman who ever has stood or
ever will stand here in it.
XIX.ALL THE APRIL STARS ARE OUT
It was an April nightbalmy with the breath of an exceptionally
early spring. All the April stars were out as Anthony came to the door
of the little house, and opening it flung himself out upon the porch,
drawing great breaths. He looked up into the sky and clasped his arms
tightly over his breast.
O God, he said aloud, take care of her
He went back into the house after a minute, and paced the floor back
and forth, back and forth, stopping at each turn to listen at the foot
of the stairs; then took up his stride again, his lips set, his eyes
dark with anxiety. Over and over he went to the open door to look up at
the stars, as if somehow he could bear his ordeal best outdoors.
When half the night had gone Mrs. Dingley came downstairs. Anthony
met her at the foot. She smiled reassuringly into his face.
This is hard for you, dear boy, she said. But they think by
Morning! he cried.
Everything is going well
It's only two o'clock. Morning!
She says tell you she's going to be very happy soon.
But at that Anthony turned away, where his face could not be seen,
and stood by the open door. Mrs. Dingley laid an affectionate hand on
Don't worry, Tony, she said gently.
I can't help it.
This is new to you. Juliet is young and strongand full of
In the morning you'll both be very happy.
I hope so.
Why, Anthony, dear, said the kindly little woman, I never knew
you to be so faint of heart.
Anthony faced around again. If my strength could do her any good
I'd be a lion for her, he said. But when all I can do is to waitand
think what I'd do if
He was gone suddenly into the night. With a tender smile on her lips
Mrs. Dingley went on upon the errand which had brought her downstairs.
It's worth something to a woman to be able to make a man's heart ache
like that, she said to herself with a little sigh. Anthony would not
have understood, but even in this hour the older woman, in her wisdom,
was envying Juliet.
Morning came at last, as mornings do. With the first streaks of the
gray dawn Anthony heard a little, high-keyed, strange crynew to his
ears. He leaped up the stairs, four at a time, and paused, breathless,
by the closed door of the blue-and-white room. After what seemed to him
an interminable time Mrs. Dingley came out. At sight of Anthony her
face broke into smiles, and at the same moment tears filled her eyes.
It's a splendid boy, Tony, she said. I meant to come to you the
first minute, but I waited to be perfectly sure. He didn't breathe well
But Anthony pushed this news aside impatiently. Juliet? he
She's all right, you poor man, Mrs. Dingley assured him. You
shall see her presently, just for a minute. The first thing she said
was, 'Tell Tony.' Go down nowI'll call you soon.
Anthony stole away downstairs to the outer door again. This time he
ran out upon the porch and down the lawn and orchard, in the early
half-light, to the willow path by the brook. He dashed along this path
to its end and back again, as if he must in some way give expression to
his relief from the tension of the night. But he was back and waiting
impatiently long before he received his summons to his wife's room.
On his way up he wrung the friendly hand of Dr. Joseph Wilberforce,
the best man in the city at times like these, and thanked him in a few
uneven words. Then he came to the door of the blue-and-white room.
Don't be afraid, Tony, said a very sweet, clear voice; we're ever
so wellAnthony Robeson, Junior, and I.
Anthony Robeson, Senior, walked across the room in a dim, gray fog
which obscured nearly everything except the sight of a pair of eyes
which were shining upon him brightly enough to penetrate any fog. At
the bedside he dropped upon his knees.
I suppose I'm an awful chump, he murmured, but nothing ever broke
me up so in all my life.
Juliet laughed. It was not a sentimental greeting, but she
understood all it meant. But I'm so happy, dear, she said.
Are you? Somehow I can't seem to beyet. I'm too badly scared.
He's such a beautiful big boy.
I suppose I shall be devoted to him some time, but all I can think
of now is to make sure I've got you.
The pleasant-faced nurse in her white cap came softly in and glanced
at Tony meaningly.
If you'll come in here you may see your son, Mr. Robeson, she
said, and went out again.
Anthony bent over his wife. Little mother, he whispered,
with a kiss, and obediently went.
Across the hall he stood looking dazedly down at the round, warm
bundle the nurse laid in his arms.
My son, he said; how odd that sounds.
Then he hastily gave the bundle back to the nurse and got away
downstairs, wiping the perspiration from his brow.
Never dreamed it was going to knock me over like this, he was
saying to himself. I can't look at her; I can't look at him; I feel
like a big boy who has seen a little fellow take his thrashing for
And in this humblealbeit most sincerely thankfulframe of mind he
absently drank his breakfast coffee, and never realised that in her
confusion of spirit good Mary McKaim, who was here again in time of
need, had brewed him instead a powerful cup of tea.
XX.A PRIOR CLAIM
Come up, come upyou're just the people we want, cried Anthony
heartily from his own porch. Thought you'd be getting out to see us
some of these fine August nights. Sit downJuliet will be out in a
Baby asleep? asked Judith Carey, as she and Wayne settled
comfortably into two of the deep bamboo chairs with which the porch was
To be sure he's asleep at this hour, Anthony assured her proudly;
been asleep for two hours. Regular as a clock, that youngster. Nurse
trained him right at the beginning, and Juliet has kept it up. Four
months old now, and sleeps from six at night till four in the morning
without waking. How's that?
I suppose it's remarkable, agreed Wayne meekly, but I don't know
anything about it. He might sleep twenty-three hours out of
twenty-fourI shouldn't understand whether to call him a prodigy or an
Why, yes, you would, Judith interposed with spirit. Think of that
baby on the floor above us. They're walking the floor half the night
Girl babies may be different, Carey suggested diffidently, at
which Anthony shouted. I don't careall the girls I ever knew wanted
to sit up nights, Carey insisted with a feeble grin.
Juliet came out, welcoming her friends with the cordiality for which
she was famous. It's so hot in town, she condoled with them. You
should get out into our delicious air oftener. Somehow, with our
breezes we don't mind the heat.
It's heaven here, anyhow, sighed Carey, stretching back in his
chair with a long breath. Judith looked sober.
You say it's heaven, commented Anthony, staring hard at his
friend, and you profess to admire everything we do, and eat, and say,
but you continue to pay good money every week for a lot of extremely
dubious comfortsfrom my point of view.
It's one of the very best places in that part of the city,
Anthony eyed her keenly. Yes; if that's what you're paying for
you've got it, I admit. If it's a consolation to you to know that the
address you give when you go shopping is one that you're not ashamed
ofwhy, you're all right. But I reckon Juliet here doesn't blush when
she orders things sent home to the country.
Oh, Juliet began Judith; she doesn't need an address to make
all the salespeople pay her their most respectful attention. She
I understand, said Anthony. That sweetly imperious way of hers
when she shopsI remember it the first time I ever went shopping with
Juliet gave him a laughing glance. If I remember, she said, it
wasn't I who did all the dictating on that historic expedition when we
furnished this house.
We've got to go shopping again, Anthony informed them. We're
planning to put a little wing on the house, opening from under the
stairs in the living-room, for a nursery and a den.
Going to put the two together? asked a new voice from the dimness
of the lawn.
Ohhullo, Roger Barnes, M.D., F.R.C.S.come up. No, I think we'll
have a partition between. But I want a room below stairs for Tony,
Junior, so his mother won't wear herself out carrying him up and down.
That youngster weighs seventeen pounds and a fraction already.
I was confident I'd get some statistics if I came out, said the
doctor, settling himself near Julietwith a purpose, as she instantly
recognised. It seemed to me I couldn't wait longer to learn how much
he had gained since I met Tony day before yesterday. It was seventeen
without the fraction then.
That's rightguy me, returned Anthony comfortably. I don't
mindI've the boy.
* * * * *
I want a talk with you, said the doctor softly to Juliet, as the
others fell to discussing the project of the enlarged house. I've got
to have it, tooor go off my head.
Juliet nodded, understanding him. Presently she rose. I have an
errand to do, she said. Will you walk over to the Evanstons' with me,
Now, tell me, began the doctor the instant they were off, is she
going to persist in this awful sacrifice?
Poor Rachel, breathed Juliet. So many loversand so unhappy.
Is she unhappy? begged the doctor. Is she? If I only were sure of
What girl wouldn't be unhappyto be making even one man out of two
as miserable as you?
But you know what I mean. Is she going to marry Huntington out of
love as well as pityor only pity?
RogerJuliet stood still in the road, regarding him in the dim
light with kind eyesif I knew I wouldn't tell you. That's Rachel's
secret. But I don't know. She's as loyal as a magnet, and as reserved
asyou would want her to be if you were Mr. Huntington.
She's everything she ought to be. I'm a dastard for saying it, but
I could forgive her for being disloyal enough to him to show me just a
corner of her heart. Even if she loves him it's what I called itan
awful sacrificea man dying with consumption. If she doesn'texcept
as the friend of her early girlhood, when she didn't know men or her
own heartJuliet, it's impious.
Roger, dear, keep hold of yourself, Juliet replied. You're too
strong and fine to want to come between her and her own decisionif
she has made it.
If you were a man, said he hotly, would you let a woman marry
Yes, answered Juliet stoutly, if she insisted.
Women are capable of saying anything in an argument, he growled.
I say it's outrageous to let her do it. She doesn't love himshe does
love me, he blurted.
Juliet turned to him anxiously. Roger, do you know what you are
Yes, I do. I've got to tell somebody, and there's nobody but
youyou perfect woman. If ever a man knew a thing without its being
put into words I know that. It was only a look, weeks ago, but I'm as
sure of it as I am of myself. I've had nothing but coolness from her
since, but that's in self-defense. And the thought that, loving me,
she's going to give herself to hima wreckdo you wonder it's driving
You ought not to have told me this, said Juliet, tears in her
voice. If Rachel is doing this it's because she's sure she ought
Of course she is. And that's why I tell you. You have more
influence with her than any one. Can't you show her that duty, the most
urgent in the world, never requires a thing like that? Let her be his
friend to the lastthe sort of friend she knows how to be, with a warm
hand in his cold one. But never his
The doctor grew choky with his vehemence, and stopped short. Juliet
was silent, full of distress. She thought of the two menHuntington, a
frail ghost, in the grip of a deadly illness, yet fighting it
desperately, and desperately clinging to the girl he loved: a clever
fellow, educated as a mining engineer, successful, even beginning to be
distinguished in his work until his health gave out; Barnes, the
embodiment of strength, standing high in his profession, life and the
world before him, a fit mate for the girl who deserved the best there
could be for herJuliet thought of them both and found her heart
aching for themand for Rachel Redding.
They were slowly approaching the brown house at the foot of the
hill, the errand at the Evanstons' forgotten, when suddenly a familiar
figure in white came toward them from the doorway. The doctor started
at sight of it, and Juliet grew breathless all at once.
I thought it was you two, said Rachel. This rising moon struck
you full just now, and I could see you plainly. I've wanted to see you
bothand this is my last chance. I am going away to-morrow.
There was an instant's silence, while Roger Barnes tried to choose
which of all the things he wanted to say to her should come first.
Juliet broke the stillness.
Walk back up the road with us, dear, she said, and tell us how
and where you go.
I have but a minute to spare, said Rachel. Let me say good-bye to
you both here
No, by heaven, you shall not, burst out the doctor in a suppressed
voice of fire which startled Juliet. You owe me ten minutes, in place
of the last letter you haven't answered. There are a score of them, you
knowbut the last has to be answered somehow.
Rachel hesitated. Very well, she said at length, but only with
Can't you trust me? He was angry now.
Yesbut not myself, she answered, so low he barely caught the
words. He seized her hand.
Then trust me for us both, he said, so instantly gentle and tender
that Juliet found it possible to say what a moment before she had
thought unwise enough: Go with him, Ray, dear. I think it is his
So presently she found herself crossing her own lawn alone, while
the two who had just left her went slowly on up the road together. Her
heart was beating hard and painfully, for she loved them both, and
foresaw for them only the hardest interview of their lives.
* * * * *
At the end of half an hour Rachel Redding stood again upon her own
porch, and Roger Barnes looked up at her from the walk below with heavy
At least, he said, you have done what I never would have believed
even you could doconvinced me against my will that you are right. You
love himhe worships you. There is a promise of life for him in
Arizonawith you. I can't forbid the bans. But I shall always believe,
what you dare not dispute, that if I had come firstyou
She held out her hand. That you must not say, she said. But there
is one thing you may saythat you are my best friend, whom I can count
As long as there is life left in me, he answered fervently. He
wrung her hand in both his, looked long and steadily up into her face
as if his eyes could never leave the lovely outlines showing clear in
the light from the windows, then turned away and strode off toward the
station without a look behind.
XXI.EVERYBODY GIVES ADVICE
I should do it in brown leather, said Cathcart decidedly, looking
He stood in the centre of Anthony's den. The carpenters had gone,
the plasterers had finished their work, and the floor had just been
You're all right as far as you go, observed Anthony, who stood at
his elbow, but you don't go far enough. If you want me to hang these
walls with brown leather you'll have to put up the money. I may be
sufficiently prosperous to afford the addition to my house, but I
haven't reached the stage of covering the walls with cloth-of-gold.
Burlap would be the thing, Tony, Judith suggested.
Anthony was surrounded by peoplethe room was half full of them,
elbowing each other about.
Paint the walls, advised Lockwood.
There are imitation-leather papers, said Cathcart, with the air of
one condescending to lower a high standard for the sake of those who
could not live up to it.
I suppose so, admitted Anthony, at four dollars a roll. I saw a
simple thing on that order that struck me the other day at Heminways'.
I thought it might be about forty cents a roll. It was a dollar a
square yard. I told them I would think it over. I haven't got through
thinking it over yet.
You want a plate-rail, said Wayne Carey.
Why, to put plates, and steins, and things on.
Haven't a plateor a stein. Baby has a silver mug. Would that do?
Cathcart smiled in a superior way. You had a lot of mighty fine
stuff in your Yale days, he remarked. Pity you let it all go.
I shouldn't have cared for that truck now, Anthony declared
easily, though he deceived nobody by it. Most of them remembered, if
Cathcart had forgotten, how the college boy had sacrificed all his
treasures at a blow when the news of his family's misfortunes had come.
It had yielded little enough, after all, to throw into the abyss of
their sudden poverty, but the act had proved the spirit of the elder
son of the house.
You certainly will want plenty of rugs and hangings of the right
sort, Cathcart pursued.
Anthony looked at him good-humouredly. I can see that you have got
to be suppressed, he said, with a hand on Stevens's collar. I can
tell you in a breath just what's going into this room at present. The
floor is to have a matting, one of those heavy, cloth-like mattings.
Auntie Dingley has presented me with one fine old Persian rug from the
Marcy library, which she insists is out of key with the rest of the
stuff. I'm glad it isit'll furnish the key to my decorations. Then
I've a splendid old desk I picked up in a place where they temporarily
forgot themselves in setting a price on it. That's going by the window.
I've a little Dürer engraving, and a few good foreign photographs
Juliet has put under glass for me. For the rest I havewhat I like
bestclear space, pipe-and-hearth room, the bamboo chairs off the
porch with some winter cushions in, my booksand that.
He pointed to the windows, outside which lay a long country vista
stretching away over fields and river to the woods in the distance,
turning rich autumn tints now under the late October frosts.
It's enough, said Carey, with the suppressed sigh which usually
accompanied any allusion of his to Anthony's environment. Dens are too
stuffy, as a rule. Fellows try to see how much useless lumber they can
accumulate in altogether inadequate space.
But you ought to have a couch, said Judith.
Oh, yes, I'm going to have a couch, assented Anthony, laughing
across her head at Juliet. A gem of a couchwe're making it
ourselves. You're not to see it till it's done. It'll be no brickbat
couch, eitherit'll be a flowery bed of easeor, if not flowery,
invitingly covered with some stunning stuff Juliet has fished out of a
Now, come and see the nursery, Juliet proposed, and the party
crowded through the door into the living-room, around to the one by its
side which opened into an attractive room behind the den, all air and
I refuse to suggest, said Cathcart instantly, the decorations for
That's good, remarked Anthony cheerfully. So much verbiage out of
It'll be pink and white, I suppose, said Judith. Pink is the
colour for boys, I'm told.
Behind all their backs Anthony glanced at his wife, affection and
amusement in his face. She read the look and smiled back. It was no
part of their plan to let the boy grow up alone. And as a mother she
seemed to him far more beautiful than she had ever been.
We are going to have a little paper with nursery-rhyme pictures all
over it, explained Juliet. There are all sorts of softly harmonising
colours in it. And just a matting on the floor with a rug to play on,
his white crib, and some gay little curtains at the windows.
Have you made the partition double-thick, old man? asked Lockwood.
This den-nursery combination strikes me as a little dubious.
It's no use explaining to a fiendish old bachelor, said Anthony,
leading the way out of the place, that I'd think I was missing a good
deal if I should get so far away that I couldn't hear little Tony
laughor cry. Julie, where's the boy? May I bring him down?
He disappeared upstairs, whence sounds of hilarity were at once
heard. Presently he reappeared on the stairs, bearing aloft upon his
shoulder a rosy cherub of a baby, smiling and waving a chubby fist at
the company. The beauty in his face was an exquisite mixture of that
belonging to both father and mother. Anthony and his son together made
a picture worth seeing.
Once more Wayne Carey smothered a sigh. But Judith hardened her
heart. Since Baby Anthony had come Wayne had been difficult to manage.
* * * * *
Lockwood stayed after the others had gone. Sitting smoking before
the fire with Anthony after Juliet had left them alone he brought the
conversation around to a point which Anthony had expected.
What do you hear of that man Huntington? he asked, as
indifferently as a man is ever able to ask a question which means much
Huntington? Why, the last was that he was improving a little, I
believe. Arizona is a great place for that sort of thing.
Good deal of a sacrifice for her people to go with her way out
She couldn't leave them behind. Father half-blindmother a
cripple. I understand that Arizona air is bracing them, too.
The fellow's own mother was one of the party, wasn't she?
I believe so. He's all she has.
I don't see, with all those people to chaperon her, why she
couldn't have gone along with him without marrying him, observed
Lockwood in a gruff tone.
Anthony smiled. That would have been a Tantalus draught indeed, he
remarked. I imagine poor Huntington will need all the concessions he
can get if he keeps on breathing even Arizona air.
Anthony, said Lockwood, after a silence of some minutes, during
which he had puffed away with his eyes intent on the fire, do you
fancy Rachel Redding cared enough for that man to immolate herself like
Looks very much like it.
I know it looks like it; but if I read that girl right she was the
sort to stick to anything she'd said she'd do, if it took the breath
out of her body. How long had she known himany idea?
A good while, I believe.
I thought so. Early engagement, you seeought never to have
If you'd been Huntington you'd probably have had the unreasonable
notion that it should.
She's a magnificent girl, said Lockwood, blowing a great volume of
smoke into the air with head elevated and half-shut eyes. She made
those two who were here with her last summer seem like thirty cents
beside her. Nice girls, toofine girlselegant dressers; I don't know
what the matter was. Neither did they. He chuckled a little. They
couldn't believe their own eyes when they saw three of us going daft
over a girl they wouldn't have staked a copper on in a free-for-all
with themselves. They took it gamely, I'll say that for them. Marie
won't have me back.
I don't blame her.
Neither do I. Haven't got to the want-to-be-taken-back
stagesometimes think I never shall. One experience like that spoils a
man for the average girl. The truth is, Tony, the most of
themeroverdo the meet-you-half-way act. I want a girl to keep me
guessing till the last minute.
Tell that to the girl, advised Anthony.
I wish I could. Yet there were a good many times when I thought if
Rachel Redding would just look my way I shouldn't take it ill of her. I
wonder if she'd have been like that if she hadn't been engaged to
Probably. Anthony got up and stretched himself. He was growing
weary of other men's confidences.
You're right she would. She's built that way. Yet when you get to
fancying what she'd be if she just let herself go and show she
Look here, my young friend, said Anthony, I advise you to go home
and go to bed. Sitting here dreaming over Mrs. Alexander Huntington
isn't good for you. What you want to be doing is to forget her.
Huntington's going to get well, and they're going to live happily ever
after, and you fellows out here can look up other girls. Plenty of 'em.
Only, for the love of heaven, see if you can avoid all setting your
affections on the same girl next time. It's too rough on your friends!
XXII.ROGER BARNES PROVES
Time went swinging on, and by and by it came to be Tony Robeson,
Junior's, second Christmas day. He rode down to breakfast on his
father's shoulder, crowing loudly on a gorgeous brown and scarlet
rooster, which he had found on his Christmas tree the evening before.
He had been put to bed immediately thereafter and had gone to sleep
with the rooster in his arms. The fowl had a charmingly realistic crow,
operated by a pneumatic device upon which the baby had promptly learned
to blow. He performed upon it uninterruptedly throughout breakfast.
See here, my son, said Anthony, hurriedly finishing his coffee,
let's see if you can't appreciate some of your less voiceful toys.
Here's a rabbit with fine soft ears for you to pull. There's a train of
cars. Let me wind it for you. Your Grandfather Marcy must have expended
several good dollars on thatyou want to show up an interest in it
when he comes out to see you to-day. And here's Auntie Dingley's
pickaninny boy-dollwell, I don't blame you for failing to embrace
that. Auntie Dingley was born in Massachusetts.
[Illustration: Toys which can be relied upon to please a twenty
months old infant.]
The boy cast an indifferently polite eye on these gifts as their
charms were exhibited to him, and clasped the brown and scarlet rooster
to his breast. There were moments, half hours even, when he became
sufficiently diverted from his fowl to cease from making it crow, but
at intervals throughout the day the family were given to understand
once for all that it is not the most expensive and ornate toys which
can be relied upon to please a twenty-months-old infant. Even the
automobile presented by Dr. Roger Barnes, and warranted to go three
times around the room without stopping, was a tame affair to the
recipient compared with the rooster's shrill salute.
Remember, Tony, Juliet had said, a month before Christmas, you
are not to give me any expensive personal gift this year. I care for
nothing half so much as for making the home complete. Ififyou cared
to give me something toward the bathroom fund
All right, said Anthony promptly, for he had learned by this time
to know his wife well. The bathroom fund was dear to her heart. The
small room at the front of the house upstairs, which had been left
unfurnished, had been temporarily fitted up as a bathroom by sundry
ingenious devices in the way of a tin bath and a hot and cold water
connection, but a full equipment of the best sort was to be put in as
soon as practicable, and there was a growing fund therefor.
On Christmas morning, nevertheless, in addition to a generous
addition to the fund, Juliet found beside her plate an exceedingly
personal gift in the shape of a little pearl-and-turquoise brooch of
rare design, bearing the stamp of a superior maker.
Must I scold you? she asked, smiling up at him as he stood beside
her, watching her face flush with pleasure.
Kiss me, instead, he answered promptly. And don't expect me to
give up making you now and then a real present, even though it has to
be a small one. It's too much fun.
Beside his own plate he found her gift, a set of histories he had
long wanted. It was a beautiful edition, and he would have looked
reproachfully at the giver if she had not forestalled him by running
around the table to say softly in his ear, both arms about his neck:
Just at Christmas time, dearest, let me have my way.
The day was a happy one. Mr. Horatio Marcy and Mrs. Dingley arrived
on the morning train and stayed until evening. At the Christmas dinner
Judith and Wayne Carey and Dr. Roger Barnes were the additional guests,
and Mary McKaim was in the kitchen. Dinner over, everybody sat about
the fireplace talking, when Juliet came in to carry little Tony off to
Five minutes more, begged Dr. Barnes, on whose knee the child sat,
a willing captive to the arts of his entertainer. His eyes, bright with
the excitement of this great day, were fixed upon the doctor's face.
And soBarnes continued the story he had begunthe rooster
climbed right up the man's legthe toy obeyed his command and scaled
the eminence from the floor where it had been hiding behind a Noah's
arkand perched on his knee, and criedthe rooster crowed lustily
and little Tony laughed ecstatically. Then the rooster flew up on the
man's shoulder and flapped his wings, and all at once he fell right
over backwards and tumbled on his head on the floor.Got to go to bed,
Tony? Shall the rooster go too? All right. May I carry him up for you,
Juliet? Anthony's deep in that discussion. Get on my back, old
manthat's the way!
Everybody looked after the two as the doctor mounted the stairs.
That rooster has captivated the child more than all the mechanical
toys he has had to-day, said Mrs. Dingley.
What a handsome fellow he is, said Carey, his eyes following
little Tony till he disappeared. I never saw a healthier, happier
child. How sturdy he is on his legshave you noticed? He's saying a
good many words, too. It was as good as a play to see him imitate that
Juliet's father and Mrs. Dingley left on an early evening train, and
only the three younger guests remained when Juliet came downstairs
after putting her boy to bed. She set about gathering up the toys
scattered over the floor, and Barnes helped her. In the midst of this
labour, during which they all made merry with some of the more
elaborate mechanical affairs, Juliet suddenly said What's that? and
went to the bottom of the stairs.
Let me go, offered Anthony. He's probably too excited to get to
sleep easily after all this dissipation.Hullo!he's crowing with the
But Juliet went up, and he followed her, saying from the landing to
his guests, Excuse me for a little. I'll get the boy quiet, and let
his mother come down. I've a fine talent for that sort of thing. That
rooster will have to be given some soothing syruphe's too lively a
I never saw a man fonder of his youngster than Tony, Carey
The child is a particularly fine specimen, the doctor said. I
think I never saw a more ideal development than he shows.
He began to tell an incident in which little Tony had been involved,
when he was interrupted.
Barnes!called Anthony's voice from the top of the stairs. Come
up here, please.
There was something in the imperative quality of this summons which
made the doctor run up the stairs, two at a time. Judith and Wayne
listened. The rooster could still be heard crowing, faintly but
Perhaps he's grown too excited over it, Judith suggested. They
ought to take it away.
Carey went to the bottom of the stairs and listened. There were
rapid movements overhead. The doctor's voice could be heard giving
directions through which sounded the steady crowing of the toy. Hold
him sonow move him that way as I thumpnow the other
Carey turned pale. He's got that rooster in his throat, he said
solemnly. The rooster was nearly life-size, but the incongruity of this
suggestion did not strike him. Judith hastily rose from her chair and
went to him.
Had we better go up? he whispered.
Heavensno! Judith clutched his arm. We couldn't do any good.
The doctor's there. Such things make me ill. They ought not to have let
him have the toy to take to bed with him. How could it get into his
throat? Perhaps they are making it crow to divert him. Perhaps he's
hurt himself somehow.
He's got the crow part of that thing in his throat, Carey
persisted in an anxious whisper. The manufacturers ought to be
prosecuted for making a toy that will come apart like that.
Don't stand there, protested his wife. Maybe it's nothing. Come
here and sit down.
But Carey stood still. Presently Anthony came to the head of the
Wayne, said he rapidly, telephone Roger's office. Ask the trained
nurse, Miss Hughes, to send a messenger with the doctor's emergency
surgical case by the first trainhe can catch the 9:40 if he's quick.
Tell Miss Hughes to follow as soon as she can get ready, prepared to
stay all night.
Then he disappeared. His voice had been steady and quiet, but his
eyes had showed his friend that the order was given under tension.
Carey sprang to the telephone, and his hand shook as he took down the
Upstairs Roger Barnes, in command, was giving cool, concise orders,
his eyes on his little patient. When he had despatched Juliet for
various things, including boiling water which she must get downstairs,
he said to Anthony in a conversational tone:
It will probably not be safe to wait till my instruments get here,
and there's no surgeon near enough to call. I'm not going to take any
chances on this boy. If I see the necessity I'm going to get into that
throat and give him air. I shall want you and Carey to hold him. Juliet
must be downstairs.
Anthony nodded. He did not quite understand; but a few minutes
later, when Juliet had brought the boiling water, he suddenly perceived
what his friend meant.
Alcohol, now, please, said the doctor. When Juliet had disappeared
again Barnes drew from his pocket a pearl-handled pocket-knife and
tried its blades. It's a fortunate thing somebody made me a present of
such a good one to-day, he observed, but it needs sharpening a bit.
Have you an oil-stone handy?
With tightly shut lips Anthony watched the doctor put a bright edge
on his smallest blade, then, satisfied, drop the open knife into the
water bubbling over a spirit-lamp. Anthony turned his head away for an
instant from the struggling little figure on the bed. Barnes eyed him
You're game, of course? he said.
Anthony's eyes met his and flashed fire. Don't you know me better
All right, and the young surgeon smiled. But I've seen a medical
man himself go to pieces over his own child. This is a simple matter,
he went on lightly. Luckily, boiling water is a more potent antiseptic
than all the drugs on the marketand alcohol's another. I shall want a
new hairpin or twoif Juliet has a wire one.That the alcohol? Thank
you. Now if you've the hairpins, Julietaha silver oneall the
This also he dropped into the boiling water. Then he spoke very
quietly to Tony's mother, as she bent over her child, fighting for his
It's a bit tough to watch, he said, but we'll have him all right
presently. Suppose you go and get his crib ready for him. You might
fill some hot-water bags and bottles and have things warm and
The telephone-bell rang below. After a minute Carey dashed upstairs.
He looked into the room and spoke anxiously. The messenger just missed
the 9:40. He and the nurse will come on the 10:15.
All right, said the doctor, as if the delay were of small
consequence. We're going to want your help presently, Carey, I think.
Just ask Mrs. Carey to keep Mrs. Robeson with her for a few minutes, if
Carey went down and gave his wife the message, then he hurried back
and stood waiting just outside the door. And all at once the summons
came. In a breath the doctor had changed his rôle. He spoke sharply:
Now, Robesonnow, Careywe've waited up to the limit. Keep
coolhold him like a rock
* * * * *
Wayne Carey came down to his wife, ten minutes later, smiled
tremulously, sank into a chair, and fell to crying like a babysoftly,
so that he could not be heard.
But Juliet says he'll be all right, murmured Judith unsteadily.
Yes, yes Carey wiped his eyes and blew his nose. I'm just a
little unnerved, that's all. Lordand he's dropped off to sleep as
quiet as a lambwith Barnes holding the gash in his throat open with a
hairpin to let the air in. When it comes to emergency surgery I tell
you it's a lucky thing to have an expert in the house. Completely worn
outthe little chap. When the nurse comes they'll get out the whistle
and sew the place up. She ought to be hereI'll go meet that train.
He sprang to his feet and hurried out of the house. Presently he was
back, followed by an erect young woman who wore a long coat over the
uniform she had not taken time to change. Carey carried the long black
bag she had brought with her.
By and by Anthony and Roger Barnes came down. The former was pale,
but as quietly composed as ever; the latter nonchalant, yet wearing
that gleam of satisfaction in his eye which is ever the badge of the
Well, Mrs. Carey, said the doctor, smiling, why not relax that
tension a bit? The youngster is right as a trivet.
I suppose that's your idea of being right as a trivet, Judith
retorted. In bed, with a trained nurse watching you, and a doctor
staying all night to make sure.
Bless youwhat better would you have? If it were any other boy the
doctor would have been home and in bed an hour ago, I assure you.
Careyif you don't stop acting like a great fool I'll put you to bed
For Carey was wringing Barnes' hand, and the tears were running
unashamed down his cheeks. I gave him that rooster myself, he said,
Upstairs all was quiet. The little life was safe, rescued at the
crucial moment when interference became necessary, by the skill and
daring which do not hesitate to use the means at hand when the
authorized tools can not be had. Every precaution had been taken
against harm from these same unconventional means, and the doctor, when
he left his patient in the hands of his nurse, felt small anxiety for
the ultimate outcome.
He said this very positively to the boy's father and mother, holding
a hand of each and bidding them go peacefully to sleep. He would have
slipped away then, but they would not let him go. There were no tears,
no fuss; but Juliet said, her eyes with their heavy shadows of past
suspense meeting his steadily, Roger, nothing can ever tell you what I
feel about this, and Anthony, gripping his friend's hand with a grip
of steel, added: We shall never thank the Lord enough for having you
on hand, Roger Barnes.
But when the young surgeon had gone, warm with pleasure over the
service he had done those he loved this night, the ones he had left
behind found their self-control had reached the ragged edge. Turning to
her husband Juliet flung herself into his arms, and met there the
tenderest reception she had ever known. So does a common anxiety knit
hearts which had thought they could be no tighter bound.
* * * * *
Judith and Wayne Carey, walking along silent streets in the early
dawn of the day after Christmas on their way to take their train home,
had little to say. Only once Judith ventured an observation to her
Surely, such a scene as you went through last night must diminish a
trifle that envy you are always possessed with, when you're at that
But Wayne, staring up at the wintry sky, answered, more roughly than
his wife had ever heard him speak: NoGod knows I envy them
even at a time like this!
XXIII.TWO NOT OF A KIND
Yes, they are very pleasant rooms, Juliet admitted, with the air
of one endeavouring to be polite. She sat upon a many-hued divan, and
glanced from the blue-and-yellow wall-paper to the green velvet chairs,
the dull-red carpet and the stiff lace curtains. You get the
afternoon sun, and the view opposite isn't bad. The vestibule seemed to
be well kept, and I rang only three times before I made you hear.
The janitor promised to fix that bell, said Judith hastily. Oh, I
know the colour combinations are dreadful, but one can't help that in
rented rooms. Of course our things look badly with the ones that belong
here. But as soon as we can we are going to move into a still better
Going to keep house?
No-o, not just yet. Judith hesitated. You seem to think there's
nothing in the world to do but to keep house.
I'm sure of it.
I can't see why. A girl doesn't need to assume all the cares of
life the minute she marries. Why can't she keep young and fresh for a
Juliet glanced toward a mirror opposite. How old and haggard I must
be looking, she observed, withit must be confesseda touch of
complacency. The woman who could have seen that image reflected as her
own without complacency must have been indifferent, indeed.
Of course, you manage it somehowI suppose because Anthony takes
such care of you. But you wait till five years more have gone over your
head, and see if you're not tired of it.
If I'm as tired of it as you are began Juliet, and stopped. But
seriously, Judith, is it nothing to you to please Wayne?
Why, of course. Judith flushed. But Wayne is satisfied.
Are you sure of it?
Certainly. Oh, sometimes, when we go to see you, and you make
things so pleasant with your big fire and your good things to eat, he
gets a spasm of wishing we were by ourselves, but
Juliet shook her head. Wayne doesn't say a word, she said, and
he's as devoted to you as a man can be. But, Judith, if I know the
symptoms, that husband of yours is starving for a home, anddo I dare
Judith was staring out of the window at the ugly walls opposite. It
was her bedroom window, and the opposite walls were not six feet away.
I suppose you dare say anything, she answered, looking as if she
were about to cry. I'm sure I envy you, you're so supremely contented.
I don't think I was made to care for children.
That might come, said Juliet softly. I'm sure it would, Judith.
As for Wayne, if you could see the look on his face I've surprised
there more than once, when he had little Anthony, and he thought nobody
noticed, it would make your heart ache, dear. Don't deny himor
yourselfthe best thing that can happen to either of you. At least,
don't deny it for lack of a home. I'm sure I can't imagine Tony,
Junior, in these rooms of yours. They don't look, she explained,
smiling, exactly babyish.
She rose to go. She looked so young and fair and sweet as she spoke
her gentle homily that Judith, half doubting, half believing, admitted
to herself that of one thing there could be no question: Mrs. Anthony
Robeson envied nobody upon the face of the earth.
The visits of the Robesons to the various apartments which were in
rotation occupied by the Careys were few. Somehow it seemed much easier
and simpler for the pair who had no children, and no housekeeping to
hamper them, to run out into the suburbs than for their friends to get
into town. So the Careys came with ever increasing frequency, always
warmly welcomed, and enjoyed the hours within the little house so
thoroughly that in time the influence of the content they saw so often
began to have its inevitable effect.
I've great news for you, said Anthony, coming home one March day,
when little Tony was nearing his second birthday. It's about the
They are going to housekeeping.
How did you know?
I didn't know, but Judith told me weeks ago she supposed she should
have to come to it. Have they found a house?
Carey thinks he has. Judith doesn't like the place, for about fifty
good and sufficient reasonsto her. He's trying to persuade her. He
has an option on it for ten days. He wants us to come out and look at
it with them.
Where is it?
About as far east of the city as we are north. If to-morrow is a
good day I promised we would run out with them on the ten-fifteen. I
suspect they need us badly. Wayne looks like a man distracted. The
great trouble, I fancy, is going to be that Judith Dearborn Carey is
still too much of a Dearborn to be able to make a home out of anything.
And Carey can't do it alone.
Indeed he can't, poor fellow. I never saw a man in my life who
wanted a home as badly as Wayne does. Let's do our best to help them.
We will. But the only way to do it thoroughly is to make Judith
over. Even you can't accomplish that.
There's hope, if she has agreed at all to trying the experiment,
Juliet declared, and thought about her friends all the rest of the day.
It was but five minutes' walk, from the suburban station where the
party got off next morning, to the house which Carey eagerly pointed
out as the four approached.
There it is, he said. Don't tell me what you think of it till
you've seen the whole thing. I know it doesn't look promising as yet,
but I keep remembering the photographs of your home, Robeson, before
you went at it. I'm inclined to think this can be made right, too.
Anthony and Juliet studied Carey's choice with interest. Judith
looked on dubiously. It was plain that if she should consent it would
be against her will.
It looks so commonplace and ugly, she said aside to Juliet, as the
four completed the tour around the house and prepared to enter. Your
home is old-fashioned enough to be interesting, but this is just modern
enough to be ugly. Look at that big window in front with the cheap
coloured glass across the top. What could you do with that?
Several things, said her friend promptly. You might put in a row
of narrow casement windows across the front, with diamond panes.
Nothe porch isn't attractive with all that gingerbread work, but you
could take it away and have something plain and simple. The general
lines of the house are not bad. It has been an old-fashioned house,
Judith, but somebody who didn't know how has altered it and spoiled it.
People are always doing that. There must have been a fanlight over this
door. You could restore it. And do you see that quaint round window in
the gable? Probably they looked at that and longed to do away with it,
but happily for you didn't know how.
Carey glanced curiously at his friend's wife, then anxiously at his
own. Juliet's face was alight with interest; Judith's heavy with
dissatisfaction. He wondered for the thousandth time what made the
difference. He would have given a year's salary to see Judith look
interested in this desire of his heart. It was hard to push a thing
like this against the will of the only person whose help he could not
do without. Carey was determined to have the home. Even Judith
acknowledged that she had not been happy in any of the seven apartments
they had tried during the less than four years of their married life.
Carey believed with all his heart that their only chance for happiness
lay in getting away from a manner of living which was using up every
penny he could earn without giving them either satisfaction or comfort.
His salary would not permit him to rent the sort of thing in the sort
of neighbourhood which Judith longed for. And if it should, he did not
believe his wife would find such environments any more congenial than
the present one. Carey had a theory that a woman, like a man, must be
busy to be contented. He meant to try it with his handsome,
Oh, what a pretty hall! cried Mrs. Robeson, with enthusiasm. How
lucky that the vandals who made the house over didn't lay their
desecrating hands on that staircase.
The hall looks gloomy to me, said Mrs. Carey, with a disapproving
glance at the walls.
Of coursewith that dingy brown paper and the woodwork stained
that hideous imitation of oak. You can scrape all that off, paint it
white, put on a warm, rich paper, restore your fanlight, and you'll
have a particularly attractive hall.
I wish I could see things that are not visible, as you seem to be
able to, sighed Judith, looking unconvinced. I never did like a long,
straight staircase like that. And there's not room to make a turn.
You don't want to, do you? It's so wide and low it doesn't need to
turn, and the posts and rails are extremely good. How about this front
She stood in the center of the front room, and the two men, watching
her vivid face as it glowed above her furs, noting the capable, womanly
way she had of looking at the best side of everything and discerning in
a flash of imagination and intuition what could be done with
unpromising material, appreciated her with that full masculine
appreciation which it is so well worth the trouble of any woman to win.
Judith was not blind; she saw little by little as Juliet went from
room to roomseizing in each upon its possibilities, ignoring its
poorer features except to suggest their betterment, giving her
whole-hearted, friendly counsel in a way which continually took the
prospective homemakers into considerationthat she herself was losing
something immeasurably valuable in not attempting to cultivate these
same winning characteristics. And in the same breath Judith was forced
to admit to herself that she did not know how to begin.
There is really a very pretty view from the dining-room, she said,
as a first effort at seeing something to admire. Both Juliet and
Anthony agreed to this statement with a cordiality which came very near
suggesting that it was a relief to find Mrs. Carey on the optimistic
side of the discussion even in this small detail. As for Carey, he
looked so surprised and grateful that Judith's heart smote her with a
vigour to which she was unaccustomed.
I suppose you could use this room as a sort of den? she was
prompted to suggest to her husband; and such a delighted smile
illumined Carey's face that the sight of it was almost pathetic to his
friends, who understood his situation rather better than he did
himself. In his pleasure Carey put his arm about his wife's shoulders.
Couldn't I, though? he agreed enthusiastically. And you could use
it for a retreat while I was away for the day.
A retreat from what? Too much excitement? began Judith, the old
habit of scorn of everything which was not of the city returning upon
her irresistibly. But it chanced that she caught Juliet's eyes,
unconsciously wearing such an expression of solicitude to see her
friend complaisant in this matter which meant so much, that Judith
hurriedly followed her ironic question with the more kindly supplement:
But doubtless I should have plenty, and be glad to get away.
You certainly would, asserted Anthony. We never guessed how much
there would be to occupy us in the country, but there seems hardly time
to write letters. Nobody can believe, till he tries, how much pleasure
there is in wheedling a garden into growing, nor how well the labour
makes him sleep o' nights.
YesI think I could sleep here, said Carey, and passed a hand
over a brow which was aching at that very moment. I haven't done that
satisfactorily for six months.
You'll do it here, Anthony prophesied confidently. It's a fine
air with a good breath of the salt sea in it, which we don't get. Your
sleeping rooms are all well aired and lighteda thing you don't always
find in more pretentious houses. And when the paint and paper go on
you'll own yourselves surprised at the transformation. I was never so
astonished in my life as I was at the change in the little bedroom in
our house which has that pale yellow-and-white stripe on the wall. It
was a north room, and the old wall was a forlorn slate, like a
thundercloud. My little artist here, with her eye for colours,
instantly announced that she would get the sunshine into that room. And
so she didwith no more potent a charm than that fifteen-cent paper
and a fresh coat of white paint.
Carey looked at Juliet with longing in his eye. He wanted to ask her
to supervise the alterations in his purchase, if he should make it. But
he remembered other occasions when he had held the sayings and doings
of Mrs. Robeson before the eyes of Mrs. Carey with disastrous result,
and he dared not make the suggestion. He hoped, however, that Judith
might be inclined to ask the assistance of her friend, and himself
hinted at it, cautiously. But Judith, beyond inquiring what Juliet
thought of certain possible changes, seemed inclined to shoulder her
Anthony left his wife upon the home-bound train, to return to his
work; the Careys accompanied him, so that he had no chance to talk
things over until he came home to dinner at night. But when he saw
Juliet again almost her first words showed him where her thoughts were.
Tony, I can't get those people off my mind. Do you suppose they
will ever make a home out of anything?
They haven't much genius for utilizing raw material, I'm very much
afraid, Anthony responded thoughtfully. Carey has the will, and he
can furnish a moderate amount of funds, but whether Judith can furnish
anything but objections and contrariety I don't dare to predict. If her
heart were in it I should have more hope of her. There's one thing I
can tell her. If she doesn't set her soul to the giving the old boy a
taste of peace and rest she'll have him worn out before his time. A
fellow who doesn't know how it feels to sleep soundly, and whose head
bothers him half the time, needs looking after. He's a slave to his
office desk, and needs far more than an active chap like me to get out
of the city as much as he can.
Yes, he's worried and restless, Tony. He's so devoted to Judith and
so anxious to make her happy, her dissatisfaction rests on him like a
weight. Don't you see that every time you see them together?
Every timeand more plainly. What's the matter with her anyhow,
Julie? She seemed promising enough as a girl. You certainly found
enough in her to make you two congenial. She's no more like you
thanelectric light is like sunshine, said Anthony, picking up the
simile with a laugh and a glance of appreciation.
Judith shines in the surroundings she was born and brought up in,
misses them, and doesn't know how to adapt herself to any others. She
ought to have been the wife of some high officialshe could entertain
royally and have everybody at her feet.
Magnificent characteristics, but mighty unavailable in the present
circumstances. It carries out my electric-light comparison. I prefer
the sunlightand I have it.Poor Carey!
We'll hope, said Juliet. And if we have the smallest chance to
help, we'll do it.
But, as Anthony had anticipated, there was small chance to help.
Meeting Carey a fortnight later, Anthony inquired after the new home,
and Carey replied with apparent lack of enthusiasm that the house had
been leased for a term of three years, with refusal of the purchase at
the expiration of the time. He explained that Judith had been unwilling
to burn her bridges by buying the place outright, and that he thought
perhaps the present plan was the better oneunder these conditions.
But the fact that the house was not their own made it seem unwise to
expend very much upon alterations beyond those of paint and paper. With
the prospect of a sale the owner had unwillingly consented to replace
the gingerbread porch with one in better style, but refused to do more.
The big window, with its abominable topping of cheap coloured glass,
was to remain for the present.
And I think this whole arrangement is bound to defeat my purpose,
said Carey unhappily. The very changes we can't afford to make in a
rented house are the ones Judith needs to have made to reconcile her to
the experiment. She says she feels ill every time she comes to the
house and sees that window. She wants a porcelain sink in the kitchen.
She would like speaking-tubes and a system of electric bells. We're to
have a servantif we can find her. We've put green paper on all the
downstairs rooms, and it turns out the wrong green. I wanted a sort of
corn-colour that looked more cheerful, but it seems green is the only
thing. I don't know what's the matter with me. Perhaps I'm bilious.
Green seems to be all right in your house, but in mine it makes me want
to go outdoors.
That's precisely what you should do, Anthony advised cheerfully.
Get outdoors all you can. Start your garden. Mow your lawn yourself.
Make over that gravel path to your front door.
I've only evenings, objected Carey. And we're not settled yet.
The paper's only just on. We haven't moved. We're buying furniture. We
bought a sideboard yesterday. It cost so much we had to get a cheaper
range for the kitchen than seemed desirable, but Judith liked the
sideboard so well I was glad to buy it. I don't know when we shall get
to living there permanently. This furnishing business knocks me out. We
don't seem to know what we want. I'd like he hesitatedI hoped
Mrs. Robeson might be able to give us the advantage of her experience,
but it turns out that Judith has a sort of pride in doing it herself,
and of courseI presume you made some mistakes yourselves, eh? He
suggested this with eagerness.
Oh, of course, agreed Anthony readily, though he wondered what
they were, and inwardly begged Juliet's pardon for this answer, given
out of masculine sympathy with his friend's helplessness. You'll come
out all right, he hastily assured Carey. Once you are living in the
new place things will adjust themselves. Keep up your courage. Your
daily walk to and from the train will do wonders. Lack of exercise will
make a rainbow look gloomy to a fellow. I think you've great cause for
rejoicing that Judith has agreed to try the experiment at all. And as
with all experiments, you must be patient while it works itself out.
That's so, agreed Carey, a gleam of hope in his eyes; and Anthony
got away. But by himself the happier man shook his head doubtfully.
Where everything depends on the woman, he said to himself, and
you've married one that her Maker never fashioned for domestic joys,
you're certainly up against a mighty difficult proposition!
XXIV.THE CAREYS ARE AT HOME
Wayne and Judith Carey had been keeping house for two months before
Judith was willing to accede to her husband's often repeated request
that they entertain the Robesons.
We've been there, together and separately, till it's a wonder their
hospitality doesn't freeze up, he urged. Let's have them out
to-morrow night, and keep them over till next day, at least. I'd like
to have them sleep under this roof. They'd bring us good luck.
One would think the Robesons were the only people worth knowing,
said Judith, with a petulance of which she had the grace, as her
husband stared at her, to be ashamed.
They're the truest friends we have in the world, he said, with a
dignity of manner unusual with him. Sometimes I think they are the
only people worth knowingout of all those on your calling list.
We differ about that. Your ideas of who are worth knowing are very
peculiar. Heaven knows I'm fond of Juliet, but I get decidedly tired of
having her held up as a model. And I haven't been anxious to entertain
her until we were in order.
We're certainly as much in order now as we shall be for some time.
Let's have them out. You'll find they'll see everything there is to
praise. It's their way.
So Anthony and Juliet were asked, and came. Wayne's prophecy was
proven a true oneeven Judith grew complacent as her friends admired
the result of her house-furnishing. And in truth there was much to
admire. Judith was a young woman of taste and more or less discretion,
and if she could have had full sway in her purchasing the result might
have been admirable. As it was, the unspoken criticism in the minds of
both the guests, as they followed their hosts about the house, was that
Judith had struck a key-note in her construction of a home a little too
ambitious to be wholly satisfactory.
I believe in buying the best of everything as far as you go, she
said, indicating a particularly costly lounging chair in a corner of
the living-room. Of course that was very expensive, but it will always
be right, and we can get others to go with it. The bookcases were
another high-priced purchase, but they give an air to the room worth
I've only one objection to this room, said Wayne with some
hesitation. As Judith says, the things in it seem to be all right, and
it certainly looks in good taste, if I'm any judge, butI don't know
just how to explain it he hesitated again, and smiled
deprecatingly at his wife.
Speak out, said Judith. She was in a very good humour, for her
guests had shown so fine a tact in their commendation that she was in
quite a glow of satisfaction, and for the first time felt the pleasure
of the hostess in an attractive home. It can't be a serious objection,
for you've liked every single thing we've put into it.
Indeed I have, agreed Carey, eagerly glancing about the
brilliantly lit room. I like it all awfully wellespecially in the
daylight. The corner by the window is a famous place for reading. But,
you see, I'm so little here in the daytime, except on Sundays. Of
course I know we lack the fireplace that makes your living-room jolly,
but it seems as if we lack something besides that we might have, and
for the life of me I can't tell what it is.
Anthony knew by a certain curve in the corner of his wife's mouth
that she longed to tell him what it was. For himself, he could not
discover. He studied the room searchingly and was unable to determine
why, attractive as it really was, it certainly did, upon this cool May
evening, lack the look of warm comfort and hospitality of which his own
home was so full.
Possibly it's because everything is so new, he ventured. Rooms
come to have a look of home, you know, just by living in them and
leaving things about. It's a pretty room, all right, and I fancy it
will take on the friendly expression you want when you get to strewing
your books and magazines around a little more, and laying your pipe
down on the corner of the mantel-piece, you knowand all that. I can
upset things for you in half a minute if you'll give me leave.
You have my full permission, said Judith, laughing. I fancy it's
just as you say: Wayne isn't used to it yet. He always likes his old
slippers better than the handsomest new ones I can buy him.
Comedinner has been served for five minutes. No more artistic
suggestions till afterward.
The dinner was perfect. It should have been so, for a caterer was in
the kitchen, and a hired waitress served the viands without disaster.
As a delectable meal it was a success; as an exhibition of Mrs. Carey's
capacity for home making, it was something of a failure. It certainly
did not for a moment deceive the guests. For the life of her, as Juliet
tasted course after course of the elaborate meal, she could not help
reckoning up what it had cost. Neither could she refrain from wondering
what sort of a repast Judith would have produced without help.
After dinner, as Wayne and Anthony smoked in front of the fireless
mantel-piece in the den, each in a more luxurious chair than was to be
found in Anthony's whole house, Judith took Juliet to task.
You may try to disguise it, she complained, but I've known you
too long not to be able to read you. You would rather have had me cook
that dinner myself and bring it in, all red and blistered from being
over the stove.
As long as the dinner wasn't red and blistered you wouldn't have
been unhappy, Juliet returned lightly. But you mustn't think that she
who entertains may read my ingenuous face, my dear. It isn't necessary
that I attempt to convert the world to my way of thinking. And I
haven't told you that when Auntie Dingley goes abroad with father again
this winter I'm to have Mary McKaim for eight whole months. I can
assure you I know how to appreciate the comfort of having a competent
cook in the kitchen.
She got up and crossed the room. Judith, what an exquisite lamp,
she observed. I'd forgotten that you had it. Was it one of your
Judith followed her to where she stood examining an imposing,
foreign-looking lamp, with jeweled inlets in the hand-wrought metal
shade. Yes, she said carelessly, it's pretty enough. I don't care
much for lamps.
Not to read by?
It's bright enough for anybody but a blind man to read, here.
Judith glanced at the ornate chandelier of electric lights in the
centre of the ceiling. The rooms aren't so high that the lights are
out of reach for reading.
But this is beautiful. Have you never used it?
It might be used with an electric connection, I suppose. No, I've
never used it as an oil lamp. I hate kerosene oil.
But you have some in the house?
Oh, yes, I think so. Wayne insisted on getting some little
hand-lamps. Something's always happening to the wires out here. That's
one of the numerous joys of living in the suburbs.
Let's fill this and try it, Juliet suggested, turning a pair of
very bright eyes upon her friend. If you've never lit it I don't
believe you've half appreciated it. You're neglecting one of the
prettiest sources of decoration you have in the house. Out of sympathy
for the giver, whoever he was, you ought to let his gift have a chance
to show you its beauty.
Stevens Cathcart gave it to us, I believe, said Judith. Here, let
me have it. I'll fill it, since you insist. But I never thought very
much of it. It was put away in a closet until we came here. It took up
so much room I never found a place for it.
Mr. Cathcart gave it to you? That proves my point, that it's worth
admiring. If there's a connoisseur in things of this sort, it's he. He
probably picked it up in some out-of-the-ordinary European shop.
Smiling to herself, as if something gave her satisfaction, Juliet
awaited the return of her hostess. She understood, from the manner of
Judith's exit with the lamp, that the free and easy familiarity with
which guests invaded every portion of Anthony's little home, was not to
be made a precedent for the same sort of thing in Judith's.
The lamp reappeared, accompanied by a lamentation over the
disagreeable qualities of kerosene oil for any use whatever.
You can put electricity into this and use it as a drop-light, if
you prefer, said Juliet, as she lit it and adjusted the shade. May I
set it on the big table over here? Right in the center, please, if you
don't mind moving that bowl of carnations. There!Of course you can
send it back to oblivion over there on the bookcase if you really don't
like it.But you do like itdon't you?
It's handsomer than I thought it was, Judith admitted without
enthusiasm. Juliet glanced up at the blazing chandelier overhead.
May I turn off some of this light? she asked. You won't get the
full beauty of your lamp till you give it a chance by itself.
Judith assented. Juliet snapped off three out of the four lights,
and smiled mischievously at her friend. Then she extinguished the
fourth, so that the only luminary left in the room was the lamp. Judith
Maybe you like a gloomy room like this. I don't. Look at it. I can
hardly see anything in the corners.
Wait a little bit. You're so used to the glare your eyes are not
good for seeing what I mean. Study the lamp itself a minute. Did you
ever see anything so fascinating as the gleam through those jewels? An
electric bulb inside would add to the brilliancy, though it's not so
soft a light to read by, and the effect in the room isn't so warm.
Observe those carnations under the lamplight, honey? Come over here to
the doorway and look at your whole room under these new conditions.
Isn't it charming?enticing?Let's draw that lovely Morris chair up
close to the table, as if you were expecting Wayne to come in and read
the evening paper by the lamp. There!
Juliet softly clapped her hands, her face shining with friendly
enthusiasm. There could be no question that the whole room, as she had
said, had taken on a new look of homelike comfort and cheer which it
had lacked before. Even Judith was forced to see it.
It looks very well, she admitted. But I should have more light
from above. I like plenty of light.
So do I, if you manage it well. Whereupon the guest, having gained
her point and made sufficient demonstration of it, turned the
conversation into other channels. But the lamp was not yet through with
its position of reformer. The two men, having finished their cigars,
and hearing sounds of merriment from the adjoining room, came strolling
in. Anthony, comprehending at a glance the change which had come over
the aspect of the room and the cause thereof, advanced, smiling. But
Carey came to a standstill upon the threshold, his lips drawn into an
What's happened? he ejaculated, and stood staring.
Do you like it? asked his wife.
I should say I did. But what's done it? What makes the room look so
different? It lookswhy it looks like your rooms! he cried, gazing at
He can say nothing more flattering than that, said Judith,
evidently not altogether pleased. It's the highest compliment he
Carey stared at the lamp. I didn't know we had that, he said. Is
it that that does it?
I fancy it is, said Anthony. I never understood it till I was
taught, but it seems to be a fact that a low light in a room gives it a
more homelike effect than a high one. I don't know why. It's one of my
wife's pet theories.
Well, I must say this is a pretty convincing demonstration of it,
Carey agreed, sitting down in a chair in a corner, his hands in his
pockets, still studying this, to him, remarkable transformation. It
certainly does look like a happy home now. Before, it was a place to
receive calls in. He turned, smiling contentedly, to his wife.
Something about the glance which she returned warned him that further
admiration was unnecessary. The contented smile faded a little. He got
up and came over to the table. Now, let's have a good four-handed
talk, he proposed.
Two hours later, in the seclusion of the guest-room upstairs,
Anthony said under his breath:
They're coming on, aren't they? Don't you see glimmerings of hope
that some day this will resemble a home, in a sort of far-off way?
Isn't Judith becoming domesticated a trifle? She didn't get up that
Juliet turned upon him a smiling face, and laid her finger on her
lip. Don't tempt me to discuss it, she warned him. My feelings might
run away with me, and that would never do under their very roof.
Exemplary little guest! May I say as much as this, then? I'd give a
good deal to see Wayne speak his mind once in a way, without a side
glance to see if Her Royal Majesty approves.
But Juliet shook her head. Don't tempt me, she begged again.
There's something inside of me that boils and boils with rage, and if
I should just take the cover off
Might I get scalded? All rightI'll leave the cover on. Just one
observation more. When I get inside our own four walls again I'm going
to give a tremendous whoop of joy and satisfaction that'll raise the
roof right off the house!
XXV.THE ROBESON WILL
When people are busy and happy the years may go by like a dream. So
the months rolled around and brought little Tony past the third
anniversary of his birth, and into another summer of lusty development.
Except to the growing child, however, time seemed to bring slight
changes to the little home under whose roof he grew. The mistress
thereof lost no charm either for her husband or her friendsAnthony
indeed insisted that she grew younger; certainly, as time taught her
new lessons without laying hands upon her beauty, she gained
attractiveness in every way.
You look as much like a girl as ever, Anthony said to her one
morning, as dressed for a trip into town she came out upon the porch
where he and little Tony were frolicing together.
You had ever a sweetly blarneying tongue, said she, and bestowed a
parting caress impartially upon both the persons before her. I feel a
bit guilty at making a nursemaid of you for even one morning of your
That's all right. Do your errands with an easy conscience. I'll
enjoy looking after the boy, and am rather glad your usual little maid
is away. That's one thing my vacation is forto get upon a basis of
mutual understanding and confidence with my son. We see too little of
So Juliet caught the early car, and left the two male Robesons
together, father and son, waving good-bye to her from the porch. When
she was out of sight the elder Robeson turned to the younger.
Now, son, he said, I'm going to mow the lawn. What are you going
I is going to mow lawn, too, announced Tony, Junior, with
All right, sir. Here we are. Get in front of me and mind you push
hard. That's the stuff!
All went joyously for ten minutes. Then little Tony wriggled out
from between his father's arms and went over to the porch step. He sat
down and crossed two fat legs. He leaned his head upon his hand, his
elbow on his knee, and watched with serious eyes the progress of the
lawn-mower three times across before he said wistfully:
Favver, I wis' you'd p'ay wiv me.
When I get this job done perhaps I will, said Anthony, and made
the grass fly merrily. Presently he put away the lawn-mower, and stood
looking down at the sturdy little figure in the blue Russian blouse.
What do you want to play? he asked. Tony's face lit up.
Le's play fire-endjun, he proposed enthusiastically.
Where shall we play the fire is?
Le's have weal fire, said Tony eagerly.
Real fire? Well, I don't know about that, son, his father
responded doubtfully. Young persons of three are not considered old
enough to play with the real thing. Won't make believe do just as
No, noweal fire, repeated the child. Le's put it out wiv sqi'yt
watto. P'ease, favverp'ease!
Sqi'wt watto, repeated Anthony, laughing. What do you mean
by? Oh, I see as Tony demonstrated his meaning by running to
the garden hose which remained attached to a hydrant behind the house.
Well, sonif I let you have a real fire and put it out with real
water, will you promise me never to try anything of that sort by
Tony walked over to his father and laid a little brown fist in
Anthony's. Aw wight, he said solemnly. Anthony looked down at the
clasped hands and smiled at the serious uplifted face. Is that the way
mother teaches you to promise her? he asked, with interest.
Tony nodded. Aw wight, he said. Come on. Le's make fire!
The fire was made, out of a packing-box brought up from the cellar.
It burned realistically down by the orchard, and was only discovered by
chance when Anthony Robeson, Junior, happened to glance that way.
Fire!fire! he shouted, and alarmed the fire company, who,
as fire companies should be, were ready to start on the instant. The
hose-cart, propelled by a pair of stout legs, made a gallant dash down
the edge of the garden, followed by the hook-and-ladder company, their
equipment just three feet long. It took energetic and skilful work to
quench the conflagration, which raged furiously and made plenty of good
black smoke. The fire chief rushed dramatically about, ordering his men
with ringing commands. Once he stubbed his bare toe and fell, and for a
moment it looked as though he must cry, but like the brave fellow that
he was he smothered his pain behind an uplifted elbow, and in a moment
was again in the thick of the fray. His men obeyed him with admirable
promptitude, although, contrary to the usual custom of fire chiefs, he
himself took hold of the hose and poured its volume upon the blazing
When the fire was out the chief, breathless, his blue blouse bearing
the marks of the encounter with flood and flame, sat down upon the
overturned hose-cart and beamed upon his company.
Vat was awful nice fire, he said. Le's have anuver.
Another? Oh, no, protested the company, hastily. No more of that
just now. Pick up your hook-and-ladder wagon and put it back where it
belongs. I'll see to the hose.
Anthony gently displaced the fire chief and rolled away the hose.
Then he looked back down the garden and saw his son poking among the
ruins of the fire. Come here, Tony, he called, and bring the
Tony came slowly, but without the toy wagon. Anthony stood still.
When the boy reached him he said, Why didn't you bring the
'Cause I'm ve chief, Tony responded gravely. My mens'll bring ve
Your men aren't there. You'll have to bring it yourself.
Tony shook his head. I'm ve chief, he repeated, and looked his
father in the eye. Anthony understood. It was not the first time. There
were moments in one's experience with Anthony Robeson, Junior, when one
seemed to encounter a deadlock in the child's will. Reasoning and
commands were apt at such times to be alike futile. The odd thing about
it was that it was impossible to predict when these moments were at
hand. They arose without warning, when the boy was apparently in the
best of tempers, and they did not seem to be the result of any previous
mismanagement on the part of those in authority over him.
Of one point Anthony, Senior, was sure. The child, like all
children, and possibly more than most, possessed a vivid imagination.
When he announced himself to be a fire chief, there could be no
question that he believed himself to be for the time that which he
pretended to be. His father understood, therefore, that to make
progress with the boy it was necessary to get back to the standpoint of
reality before commands could be expected to take hold. So he sat down
on a rustic seat near Juliet's roses and spoke in a pleasantly
Yes, you've been a fire chief, son, and a good one. That was a
great game. But the game is over now, and you're not a fire chief any
more. You're Tony Robeson, and the little hook-and-ladder cart is your
plaything. Father wants you to bring it here and put it in its place in
the house. It looks a little bit like rain, and the cart mustn't be
left out to get wet. See?
But Tony still shook his head. My men'll put it in, he said, with
You haven't any men. You played there were some, but the play is
over and there aren't any men. If you don't put the cart in it may get
I'm ve chief, said little Tony. Chiefs don't draw carts.
When they've turned back to little boys they do. You've turned back
to a little boy.
No, I hasn't, said Tony, and his eyes met his father's
unflinchingly. I's going to be a chief all ve time.
The argument seemed unanswerable. Anthony considered swiftly what to
do. He studied the grave brown eyes an instant in silence, their beauty
and the inflexibility in their depths appealing to him with equal
force. He loved the tough little will. He recognised it as his ownthe
same powerful quality which had brought him thus far on the road to
fortune after being landed at the furthermost end from the goal. He
would not for worlds deal with his son's will in any but the way which
should seem to him wisest.
He rose from his seat. He spoke quietly but with force. Very well,
he said. If you're still a fire chief, of course you're too big to
play. I'm much obliged to you for putting out my fire. But now that
it's out I don't want your hook-and-ladder in my garden any longer.
When your men take it away I shall be glad. But of course we can't play
any more till you stop being a fire chief and the hook-and-ladder is
back in its corner in the nursery. Good-bye. When you are ready to be
Tony Robeson again, you'll find me in my den.
He smiled at his son and walked away. Tony watched him go. Tony's
hands were clasped behind his back, his legs planted wide apart.
Anthony, Senior, found it difficult to remain in the den. He was
obliged to keep track of a small figure in a blue blouse from whichever
of the various windows commanded the doings of that young person. He
perceived that the fire chief was still holding dominion over the
At the end of an hour small footsteps were heard approaching.
Anthony looked up from the letter he was attempting to write. Favver,
may I have a bread and butter? asked a pleasant voice. Anthony turned
about in his chair.
Is the hook-and-ladder in the nursery? he inquired gravely.
Tony shook his head.
Oh, then you are still the fire chief. Fire chiefs go to the hotel
for their bread and butter. I haven't any bread and butter for the fire
He turned back to his desk. The small figure in the doorway stood
still a moment, then the footsteps were heard retreating. Five minutes
later, Anthony, looking out, saw Tony careering about the garden on a
Obstinate little duffer, he said affectionately to himself. He's
playing go to the hotel, I suppose. Perhaps when that imagination of
his gets to work at hypothetical bread and butter he'll find the
reality preferable to the fancy.
In a short time Anthony again reconnoitred. The garden was empty. He
looked out at the front of the house. No small figure in blue was to be
seen. He went out and took a turn about the place. He called the boy;
there was no response. From past experience and from the statements of
Juliet and the young girls of the neighbourhood, whom, at various
times, she was in the habit of engaging to assist her in the oversight
of the child at his play, he knew that Tony had a trick of getting
himself out of sight in an incredibly brief space of time.
As a fire chief he may consider himself free to do what he
pleases, said Anthony to himself, and set about a thorough search of
the place, having no doubt that at any moment he should come upon the
boy carrying out the details of his imaginary vocation. After a time he
went back into the house and scoured it from top to bottom. And when,
even here, there was to be discovered no trace of the child, he began
to feel a slight uneasiness.
There was no source of immediate danger to a stray child in the
neighbourhood, of which he was aware, except the electric line, and
little Tony had never manifested the slightest inclination to approach
this by himself. There were no open ponds, no traps of any kind for the
incautious feet of a three-year-old. Everybody knew Tony, and everybody
admired and loved him, so that, as Anthony took up his hat and started
upon a more extended search, he had no doubt whatever of finding the
runaway without delay.
In a very short time it became a rousing of the neighbourhood. It
was Saturday, and all the children who knew Tony were at hand. They
were soon eagerly searching for him near and far, without finding the
slightest trace of his passing. Anthony, now thoroughly alarmed,
telephoned in every direction, warned every police station in the city,
and took every possible step for the discovery of the child. It
occurred to him with tremendous force that the boy might have been
stolen. Such things did happen. It seemed almost the only way to
account for such a sudden and mysterious disappearance.
Before it seemed possible two hours had slipped past. And now, on
every car which whirled by the corner, Anthony began to expect Juliet.
He dreaded yet longed to see her. He turned cold at the thought of
telling her the situation, yet at the same time he felt as if she might
have some sort of a solution ready which nobody else had thought of.
And while, still searching over and over the entire ground, he kept
watch of the arriving cars, he saw his wife suddenly appear. He went to
What is it? she said, the instant her eye met his.
I think it's all right, dear, he told her, as quietly as he could,
but somehow we can't find Tony. He disappeared during five minutes
when I was in the housetoo short a time for him to have got very far
away, butwe can't find him. Do you think he may be hiding? Does he
ever hide himself so effectually as that?
The bright colour in her face had slipped out of it on the instant,
for he could not keep the anxiety out of his voice. But she said no
word of reproach, nor did she lose command of herself in any way.
How long has he been gone? she asked, going straight toward the
house, Anthony close behind her.
I thinkI am afraidnearly two hours. I will tell you what
happened. It is possible something I said is responsible for all this,
though I don't know.
She was going swiftly about the house, as he told her the story of
his attempt to teach the boy a lesson, and she was listening closely to
every word as she examined for herself each nook and corner. She
disclosed several possible hiding places of which Anthony had not
thought, explaining that Tony knew them all and sometimes betook
himself to them in the course of various games. The two came out upon
the porch, and Juliet stood still, thinking.
You have done everything to intercept him, if he should really
havegot far away?
Everything I can think of, except start out myself. I am ready to
do that, if you think best.
Not until I have gone over the neighbourhood myself. I don't
believe he is far awayI believe he is near. He may have heard every
call you and the children have made, and wouldn't answer. If by any
chance his pride has been a little hurt, he is very likely to do this
sort of thing. Waithave you lookedI wonder if the children
She was off without stopping to explain, through the garden and down
the old willow-bordered path by the brook. Anthony followed. I've been
down here a dozen times, he called. The brook is too shallow to hurt
him, and he's certainly not anywhere on it within a mile. The children
have been all over the ground.
But Juliet did not pause. She ran along the path for some distance,
then turned abruptly at a point where an abandoned lot filled with
stumps joined the area by the brook. She made her swift way among these
stumps, Anthony following, his hope rising as he noted the directness
of his wife's aim. At the biggest stump she came to a standstill,
carefully swung out-ward like a door a great slab of bark, and
disclosed a hollow. The sunlight streamed in upon a little heap of
blue, and a tangled brown mass of hair. Anthony Robeson, Junior, lay
fast asleep in his cunningly devised retreat.
Without a word his father stood looking down at the boy's flushed
cheeks. Then he turned to Juliet, standing beside him, smiling through
the tears which had not come until the anxiety was past. His own eyes
That was a bad scare, he said softly. Thank God it's over.
Then he stooped and gently lifted the fire chief and carried him
home without waking him. Twenty children flocked joyfully from all
about to see, and hushed their shouts of congratulation at Juliet's
Anthony went alone down the garden to the place where the
hook-and-ladder cart had stood. It was still there. He stood and looked
at it, his eyes very tender but his lips firm. The little chap didn't
give in, he said to himself. It's going to be hard to make him, but
for the sake of the Robeson will I think we'll have to take up the job
where we left it. I'd mightily like to flunk the whole business now,
but I should be a pretty weak sort of a beggar if I did.
When little Tony had wakened from his nap, and had been washed and
brushed and fed, and made fresh in a clean frock, his mother brought
him to his father.
Is this Tony Robeson? Anthony asked soberly. Tony considered for a
moment, then shook his head.
I's ve fire chief, he said, with polite stubbornness.
Have your men put away the hook-and-ladder cart?
Are they going to do it?
I didn't tell vem to.
Didn't want to.
Listen, son, said Anthony. I could make the fire chief put away
the cart. I'm stronger than he is, you know. I could make him walk out
to where it lies in the garden, and I could make his hands pick it up
and carry it into the house, and then it would be done.Don't you
think I could?
Tony considered. Es, I fink 'ou could, he admitted. Evidently the
question was one he could reflect upon from the standpoint of the
But I don't want to do that. I want Tony Robeson to put the cart
away because his father asks him to do it. Don't you think he ought to
I isn't Tony Robeson, I'se ve fire chief.
Were you the fire chief when you woke up, and mother washed you and
dressed you and gave you your lunch? I don't think she thought you
were. If you had been the fire chief she would have left you to take
care of yourself.
Tony thought about it. I dess I'se Tony wiv muvver, he said.
Then you aren't Tony with me?
The thick locks shook vehemently in the sir with the negative
response. I said I was ve fire chief, and I'se got to be ve
fire chief, he reiterated.
Without question it was a battle of wills. But Anthony's mind was
made up. For lack of time to deal with them previous similar issues had
been dodged in various ways, compromises had been effected. It was
plain that argument and reasoning, the wiles of the affectionately wise
adversary who does not want to bring the matter to a direct conflict,
had been tried. Anthony could see no way out except to dominate the
child by the force of his own resolute character. It was not the way by
which he wanted to obtain the mastery, but it was becoming plain to him
that, in this case, at least, it was the only way left.
His face grew stern all at once, his eyes, though still kind, met
his son's with determination. Tony, he said very gravelyand there
was a new quality in his tone to which the child was not
accustomedYou are not the fire chief now. You are Tony Robeson. I
shall not let you be the fire chief any longer. Do you understand?
There was no threat in the words, only a decisiveness of the sort
before which men give way, because they see that there is no
alternative. Tony stared into his father's eyes curiously. His own grew
big with wonder, with something which was not alarm, but akin to it. He
gazed and gazed, as if fascinated. Anthony's look held his; the man's
powerful eyes did not flinchneither did the boy's. It is possible
that both pulses quickened a beat.
Little Tony drew his eyes away at last, turned and started for the
door. Silently Anthony watched him as he reached for the knob, turned
again, and looked back at his father. On the very threshold the child
stood still and stared back. His brown eyes filled, his red lips
quivered. The stern face which watched his melted into a winning smile,
and Anthony held out his arms. An instant longer, and his son had run
across the floor and flung himself into them.
When the childish storm of tears had quieted, and several big hugs
had been exchanged, Anthony set the boy down upon the floor and took
his hand. Silently the two walked out of the house and down the garden.
The hook-and-ladder cart stood patiently waiting, just where it had
waited all day. Little Tony ran to it and picked it up. Over his
exquisite face broke the first smile that had been seen there since the
earliest disregarded command of the morning.
Ve fire chief's gone, he said. He was a bad fire chief.
So together the man and the boy escorted the hook-and-ladder cart to
the nursery, and backed it carefully into its stall, between the milk
wagon and the automobile. Then the child went to his play. But the man
drew a long breath.
I would rather manage a hundred striking workmen, he said to
himself with emphasis.
While little Tony had been growing, waxing strong and sturdy: while
Juliet had been tending and training him, learning, as every mother
does, more than she could impart: Anthony, in his place, had not stood
still. The strength and determination he had from the first hour put
into his daily work had begun to tell. His position in a great
mercantile establishment had steadily advanced as he had made himself
more and more indispensable to its heads.
Cathcart, the successful architect, began to talk about a new home
for the man into whose hands Henderson and Henderson were putting large
interests to manage for them, and whose salary, he asserted, must now
justify, indeed call for, life under more ideal surroundings than the
little home in the unfashionable suburb which poverty had at first made
Let me draw some plans for you, urged Cathcart, one evening in
June, when he had run out to see his friend. Juliet was by chance away,
and Cathcart took advantage of this to call Anthony's attention, in a
politely frank fashion, to the shortcomings of his present residence.
It's all right in its way, he said, standing upon a corner of the
lawn with Anthony, and surveying the house critically. Mrs. Robeson
certainly deserves full credit for the admirable way in which she
restored the old house and added just the changes in keeping with its
possibilities. I've always said it couldn't have been better done, with
the means you've told me you were able to put at her disposal. But the
place is too small for you now.
I don't think we feel it so, said Anthony tentatively, strolling
beside Cathcart along the edge of the lawn, his hands in his pockets,
lifting friendly eyes at the little house. Since we put in the
bathroomthat small room off the upper hall, you knowand added the
nursery and den, we're very comfortable. The furnace keeps us warm as
toast, and we're soon to have the water system out here, so we won't
have to depend upon our present expedients. I'm fond of the place, and
I'm confident Mrs. Robeson is devoted to it.
I can understand that, agreed Cathcart. Of course, the spot where
you began life together will always have its charm for you bothin
fact the sentiment of the matter may blind you to the real inadequacies
of the place for a man in your position.
My position isn't so stable that I want to build a marble palace on
it yet, said Anthony, a humorous twinkle in his eye. He enjoyed
watching another man manoeuvre for his favourable hearing of a scheme.
It was an art in which he was himself accomplished; it was one of the
points of his value to Henderson and Henderson.
Everybody knows that you're in a fair way to become head man with
the Hendersons, said Cathcart, and everybody also knows that you
might as well have struck a gold-mine. It's superb, the way you have
come into the confidence of those old conservatives.
That's all well enough; but I don't see that it entails upon me the
duty of laying out all I've saved on a new house. I know what you
fellows arewhen you begin to draw plans your love of the ideal runs
away with the other man's pocketbook.
Not at all, declared Cathcart. Particularly when he's a friend
and you understand just what he can afford to do.
Why don't you talk about enlarging the old house? That's much more
likely to appeal to my desires.
The two had reached the back of the house and were close by the
kitchen windows. Cathcart reached up and took hold of a sill. With a
strong hand he wrenched and pounded about the window, until he
succeeded in showing that it was old and uncertain.
That's why, he said, dusting his hand with his handkerchief. The
house is oldfairly rotten in places. The minute you began to enlarge
it in any ambitious way you'd find it would be cheaper to tear it down
and begin again. But the site, Robesonthe site isn't desirable. The
place is respectable enough, but it has no future. The good building is
all going south, not north, of the city. You don't want to spend a lot
of money hereyou couldn't sell out except at a loss.
Your arguments are good, very good, admitted Anthony; so good
that I'd like to put you on your mettle to draw me a set of plans for
just the sort of thing you think I ought to haveor Mrs. Robeson ought
to have, for she's the one to be considered. Anything will do for me.
I'll let you do thison one condition.
That you also do your level best to demonstrate to me what a clever
man and an artist of your proportions could make out of this house,
provided he really wanted to show the extent of his ability. Now,
that's fair. If you really care to convince me you won't fool with this
proposition, you'll make a study of the one problem as thoroughly as
you do of the other, and let me decide the case on its merits. If I
thought you weren't giving the old house a fair chance I should take up
its cause out of pure affection.
He smiled at Cathcart's discontented face with so brilliant a good
humour that the architect cleared up.
By Jove, Robeson, he said, I think I see what endears you to the
Hendersons. I wouldn't have said you could have induced me to try my
hand at the old house, but I'll be hanged if I don't follow your
instructions to the letterand win out, too.
Good, said Anthony. And don't mention it to my wife. We'll keep
it for a surprise; and I promise you when the time comes I won't
prejudice her in any way.
Cathcart drew out a notebook and pencil and entered some memoranda
on the spot, while Anthony, coming up on the piazza of the dining-room,
laid upon the old Dutch house-door a hand which seemed to caress it. He
was wondering if by any possible magic Cathcart could create, in the
rarest abode in the world, a new door which he should ever care to
enter as he now cared to enter this.
* * * * *
I think, said Juliet decidedly, you're wrong about it.
And I know, returned Anthony with emphasis, that you are.
The two faced each other. They were walking through a short stretch
of woodland, which lay as yet untouched by the hand of suburban
property owners. It was a favourite ground for the diversions of the
Robesons, when they had not time to spend in getting farther away. They
had been strolling through it now, in the early June evening,
discussing a matter relative to the investment of a certain moderate
sum of money which had come into Anthony's hands. It developed that
their ideas about it differed radically.
It's not safe to do as you propose, said Juliet.
To do what you propose would be only one better than tying it up in
an old stockingor putting it away in the coffee pot. It's essentially
a woman's planno man would do it the honour of considering it a
Juliet flushed brilliantly. Even in Anthony's cheek the colour rose
a little. Their eyes met with a challenge.
Very well, said Juliet proudly. I'll offer no more woman's plans.
Invest the money as you like. Then, when you've lost it
Anthony's eyes flashed. When I've lost it he began, and turned
away with a gesture of impatience. Then he stopped short. That isn't
like you, he said.
Juliet stared at him an instant. Then she shut her lips together and
walked on in silence. Anthony shut his lips together also. It was not
their habit to indulge in sharp altercation. While both had decided
ideas about things, both were also much too well bred to be willing to
allow differences of opinionwhich must arise as inevitably as two
human beings live under the same roofto degenerate into the
deplorable thing commonly referred to as a quarrel.
When they had proceeded a few rods Juliet turned abruptly off from
the path and picked up from the ground a slender straight stick,
evidently cut and trimmed by some boy and then thrown aside. She looked
about her and after some search found another, of similar size,
untrimmed. She held out the latter to Anthony. He accepted it with a
look of surprise. Then she walked into the path in front of him, stood
stiff and straight, her small heels together, and made him the fencer's
salute. On guard! she cried.
His lips relaxing, Anthony grasped his stick and fell into position.
A moment more and two accomplished fencers were engaged in close
Juliet happened to be wearing a trim linen skirt of short walking
length, which impeded her movements as slightly as anything not
strictly adapted to the exercise could do. Although her fencing lessons
were some years past, the paraphernalia belonging both to herself and
Anthony were in the house, and an occasional bout with the masks and
foils was a means of exercise and diversion which both thoroughly
enjoyed. Although Juliet was no match for the superior skill and
endurance of her husband, she was nevertheless no mean antagonist, and
her alertness of eye and hand usually gave him sufficient to do to make
the encounter a stimulating one.
On the present occasion Anthony, challenged to combat with his coat
and cuffs on, and wielding the more awkward weapon of the two impromptu
foils, found himself distinctly at a disadvantage. Moreover, he was at
the moment not precisely in the mood for fun, and he began to defend
himself with a somewhat lazy indifference. After a minute or two,
however, he discovered that his adversary's slightly ruffled temper was
inspiring her hand and wrist to distinctly effective work, and he found
himself forced to look to his methods.
Attack and parade, disengagement and thrustthe battle was waged
over the uneven ground of the wood. And presently Anthony discovered
that the richly glowing face opposite his was a smiling one. The
absurdity of the match struck him irresistibly and he smiled in return.
He tripped a little over an obtruding oak-root, and Juliet took
advantage of her opportunity to press him hard. He fended off the
attack and himself assumed the aggressive. An instant more and he had
disarmed her and had thrown his own stick flying after hers. Both were
laughing heartily enough.
Forgive the trick, cried Anthony. A man must disarm his wife when
she becomes his enemy.
Breathless, Juliet sank upon a small knoll, her hand at her side.
If I'd been dressed for it she panted.
You need coaching on your time thrusts, but you gave me plenty to
do as it was, Anthony admitted. More than that, you've presented me
with a chance to recover my equilibrium. I was hot inside before. Now
it's all on the outside.
He looked down at her affectionately. She smiled back. I was
crosser than sticks, she said. I really can't imagine why, now. I
So do I. He threw himself down on the ground at her feet, lay flat
on his back, his clasped hands behind his head, and gazed up into the
I'll take your advice into careful consideration, said he.
I know you won't do anything rash, said she, and they both laughed
How much more diplomatic that sort of talk is, he observed. Why
do we ever allow ourselves to use any other?
Because we are human, I suppose. Juliet was putting a mass of
waving brown hair, disordered by the fight, into shape again. It isn't
nice. We don't do it often. To-night you came home tired, and found a
wife who had been entertaining people from town all the afternoon. But
it's all right now, isn't it?
She bent forward, and Anthony took her outstretched hand in his own
and gave it a grip which made it sting. He began to whistle cheerfully.
Should we be happier if we never disagreed? she asked
The whistle stopped. Jupiter, no! I want a thinking being to talk
things over with, not a mental pincushion.
Thank you.Isn't it lovely here?
Delightful.Julie, do you know we'll have been married five years
It doesn't seem possible.
I shouldn't know it, to look at you, he observed. He rolled upon
his left side and regarded her from under intent brows. You haven't
grown a day older.
I'm not sure that's a compliment.
It's meant for one. Do you know you're a beauty?
I never was one and never shall be, she answered laughing, but she
could not object to the obvious sincerity of his opinion as he
You're near enough to satisfy me. I'd rather have your good looks
than all theWell, I sat in front of a newly married pair on the way
home to-nightthat fellow Scrivener and his bride. She's what
people call a raving beauty, I suppose. I wouldn't have her in the
house at a dollar an hour. She's a whiner. Had him doing something to
satisfy her whim every minute. I heard him trying to tell her about
something that interested him, but she couldn't take time from herself
to listen. His voice had a note of fatigue in it, already, or I'm not
Robeson. I tell you, Julietthat's the sort of thing that makes a
bachelor vow to stay single, and he can't be blamed.
Suppose a bachelor had overheard us half an hour ago?
I'm glad none didbut if he had it wouldn't have disgusted him the
way the other sort of thing did me to-day. A brisk little altercation
is nothing, with unlimited hours of friendliness and understanding
before and after. But a perpetual drizzle of fault finding and
exactionswould make a fellow go hang himself. Mrs. Robeson, do you
know, you're a very exceptional young person?
In what way, sir?
Whatever you do, you never nag. I've an awful suspicion that Judith
Carey nags. You know how to let a man alone when he's in the mood for
being alone. She never does. Carey had me out there not long ago, for
what he called a quiet, confidential talk on some business matters. We
went into what is supposed to be his private room and shut the door.
Probably she came to that door not less than twelve times during that
two hours. She called Carey away on every sort of pretext. Once she got
him to do a stroke of work for her that took up at least ten minutes
neither of us could spare. And she looked like a thundercloud every
time I caught a glimpse of her face. Cæsar!think of having to live
with that sort of person. No wonder Carey looks old before his time.
It's certainly unfortunate. But I'm not an exception, Tony. There
are plenty of women who know when to keep out of the way.
Well, then, they're erratic on some other line, that's all. You're
absolutely the only thoroughly sweet and sane woman I know.
My dear boy! Remember how snappish I was just this evening.
I was grouchy enough to match it. I tell you, Juliethe women who
don't talk you to death on every subject, important or trivial, bore
you with idiotic questions or impertinence about your affairs. How do I
know so much about 'em? My dear, dozens of them come into the office
every day, and Mr. Henderson has acquired a habit lately of turning
them all over to me. I earn a double salary every hour I spend that
waywish I could put in a demand for it. Speaking of salaries,
dearAnthony suddenly sat upI've no right to be grouchy, for I'm
promised another advance next month.
Splendid! She put out her hand, and the two shook hands vigorously
again, like the pair of comrades they were.
Juliet, said her husband, watching her face closely. It's been a
happy five years, hasn't it?
A happy five years, Tony.
Do you mean it? He smiled at her. You've never been sorry? Then
he got to his feet and held out his hand again to help her up. The
mortal combat we engaged in gave you a magnificent colour, he
commented, and passed affectionate fingers across the smooth cheek near
his shoulder. Sweetheart he drew her into his armsI may fence
with you once in a while with sharp words for weapons, butdo you know
how I love you?
I wonder why?
It's strange, isn't it?after all these years. To be really
up-to-date, we should long since have become interested each in some
A hand came gently but effectually upon his mouth. He kissed the
hand. No, I won't say it. It's a cynical philosophy, and I'll not take
its language on my lipsnot with my wife in my arms, giving the lie to
that sort of thing. Julie, we're not sentimentalists because we still
Who thinks we are?
Plenty of envious skeptics, I'll wager. I see it in their
green-eyed glances. They can't believe it's genuine. Dearis it
genuine? Look up, and tell me.
She looked up, and seeing his heart in his eyes, met his deep caress
with a tenderness which told him more than she could have put into the
words she suddenly found it impossible to speak.
XXVII.LOCKWOOD PAYS A CALL
Did you know Roger Barnes was back? asked Wayne Carey of Anthony
Robeson, on the evening of the twenty-fifth of June, as the two met on
the street corner from which Anthony was to take his car. Electrics ran
within a few rods of his home now, but they ran only at fifteen-minute
intervals and were difficult to catch.
No. To stay this time, I hope?
Off again to-morrow. Never saw such a fellowrestless as a fish.
Been working all winter in Viennaoff to-morrow on the Overland
Limited to sail Saturday for Hongkong. Goes to do a special operation
on the Emperor's brother or some swell of the sort. He's been doing
some mighty slick operating, according to the medical review I ran
across in a throat specialist's office.
I must see him. Where is he?
At your house now, more than likely. Said he'd got to see you, and
if you haven't seen him yet you're sure to before he goes to-morrow
night. By the way, Anthony, do you know what we heard lately about
Rachel ReddingHuntington? That she wasn't married to Huntington till
the night he died, almost three years ago.
Guess it's straight, too, pursued Carey. Queer she should have
kept it all this time. Didn't Juliet hear from her at all?
Only once or twice, I believe.
Her father and mother both died last winter.
Are you sure?
The man who told me was a traveller. Said she and Huntington's
mother were coming back to live East again. He was an Eastern man
himselfknew Huntington, and got interested when he heard the name out
in Arizona. 'Alexander Huntington's' rather an uncommon name, you know.
But what could have been her motive for keeping everything so still?
I've no idea, said Anthony, and let Carey talk on by himself till
the car came. He was unwilling to discuss Rachel Redding's affairs on a
street corner even with Wayne Carey, because she was Juliet's friend.
But he had an idea as to why Rachel had been so reserved about herself.
There were three men in the East whose interest in Huntington's life or
death had not been an altogether unbiased one. He could understand that
the girl would not be eager to declare herself free to them, though the
fact of Huntington's death had reached them soon after its occurrence.
But this other factthat she had married him only at the last
momentit was obvious that the sort of girl Rachel Redding was would
never make capital out of that strange occurrence, whatever its
explanation might be. That Roger Barnes knew nothing of it he was quite
He missed Juliet from the corner where she and the boy usually met
him, and hurrying on to the house came upon his wife just as she was
Oh, I didn't realise I was late, dear, she said, while Anthony
swung his little son up to his shoulder, eliciting triumphant shouts as
a reward. Tony, Rachel is here.
Hushyes; she's upstairs, and her window is open. Walk down the
orchard with me and I'll tell you. Her coming, an hour ago, was what
made me forget the time.
Carey was talking about her this afternoon, said Anthony,
strolling by her side and carrying on a frolic with the boy at the same
time. He'd just heard a singular thingthat she wasn't married to
Huntington till the very night he died.
She told me. She's going away to-night, she insists; but I shall
not let her. No, Mr. Huntington wouldn't let her marry him. After they
went away he said he wouldn't take her unless he got well. Tony, he was
a fine character; in our sympathy for Roger Barnes we haven't
appreciated him. It was only at the last that he let her do it. She
found out how happy it would make him then, and she would have it so.
I'm glad she didpoor fellow. Juliet, Roger Barnes is in town.
Really? Juliet stopped, her breath catching. Oh, Tony
Came day before yesterdayleaves to-morrow night for Hongkong.
Anthony looked down at her, smiling. There's a situation for you.
Can you be expected to keep your friendly hands off that possibility?
He won't go away without coming to see us?
Most certainly not.
Then he will naturally come to-night.
It's more than probable.
Tony, I won't be trying to manage fatethat's what the doctor
calls itif I keep Rachel here until after
Until after the Overland Limited leaves for San Francisco? Well,
fate needs a little assistance once in a while. I think you may
legitimately persuade Rachel to stay, if you can. What is her hurry,
I can't find out, except that I imagine she's afraid of meeting one
of the men she most assuredly would meet if they knew she had come. She
thinks Roger Barnes is in Vienna still.
She does? Ye gods! I think my knees will begin to tremble if I see
their meeting imminent. Come, son, let's try a race to the house. I'll
give you to the big, crooked apple tree. Onetwothreego!
Juliet followed more slowly, thinking busily. Rachel had been very
decided about going back into the city that night. Mrs. Huntington,
Senior, was with friends, who had begged her daughter's acceptance of
their hospitality, and for the elder woman's sake she had acquiesced.
Rachel was a keeper of promises, Juliet knew. And to tell her of the
probability of the doctor's appearance would be a doubtful means of
securing her detention. But if, for any reason, the doctor should fail
to appearJuliet made up her mind that she would give fate her chance
until nine o'clock that night. If by that time Barnes had not come
* * * * *
Juliet looked on eagerly while Anthony greeted Rachel. Her friend
had never seemed to her so lovely as now, in her simple black gown,
accentuating, as it did, the deep tone of her hair and eyes. Her face
had gained in colour and contour in the Arizona climateits tints were
richer. The delicacy of her features was not changed, but their beauty
You've lived much outdoors, I see, said Anthony, when dinner was
over and the three had gone out upon the porch, and it's been good for
I've even slept outdoors, Rachel told them, fully half the year;
and ridden horseback every day. I can't quite think how the electrics
are going to seem in place of my gallop on Scot. The people on the
ranch where we were have simply made me do the things they did. The
owner was a dear old gentleman; he gave me Scot. He wanted to send him
after me; but nurses have small use for horses, I believe, she ended,
That's the plan, is it?
Yes. It's what I can do best, I think. I am to enter the
training-school the first of July, at the Larchmont Memorial Hospital.
I'll wager tremendous odds you don't, thought Anthony, in spite
of that confident tone. If Roger Barnes looks in to-night it's all up
with your plansor make a bigger fight than even you can do. A man who
can't stay in his own town because you are out of it
He was sittingpurposelywhere he faced the road. He had
considerately offered Rachel a chair with her back to the highway.
Juliet was swinging lightly in the hammock behind the vines. Anthony,
talking on about Arizona and the Larchmont Memorial, kept an eye on the
approach to the house from the corner where visitors always left the
car. His watch was rewarded at length by the sight of a figure rapidly
turning the corner and making straight for the house.
Now we're in for it, he thought. From now on the question with
Juliet and me will be how we can most gracefully efface ourselves
without seeming to do it. If I remember this young person correctly
she's a little difficult to leave unchaperoned against her will.
Out of the corner of his eye he kept track of the approaching
figure. It was coming on at a great pace, and in the twilight could be
seen looming taller and taller as it crossed the road and turned in
across the lawn, making a short cut according to Barnes's own fashion,
so that the coming footsteps were noiseless, even to the moment when
the figure reached the porch itself.
Now for it, thought Anthony, feeling as if the curtain were about
to ascend on the fourth act of a play, when the third had ended amidst
all possible excitement.
I found the roses blooming just as they used to do, at the side of
the houseRachel's warm, contralto voice was answering a question
from Julietonly so untended. I think I shall have to come out again
before I begin my work, to look after them.
Anthony did not turn as the step he had been watching for sounded
upon the porch. To save his life he could not help keeping his eyes
upon Rachel's face. Rachel herself looked up with the air of the
visitor who does not know the guests of the house, and the expression
Anthony saw upon her face showed only the slightest possible
surprisecertainly no other feeling.
Juliet rose. Ah, Mr. Lockwood, she said, with a cordiality,
sincere little person though she was, Anthony knew for once she did not
feel. In the dusk I couldn't be quite sure.
Lockwood's eyes instantly turned to Rachel. That he had known in
some way whom he was to see was evident from a most unusual agitation
in his manner.
Mrs.Huntington, he got out somehow, taking her hand, and staring
eagerly down into her face, I heard you were home, and I hoped to find
you here. Iyou areI am extremely glad
* * * * *
Half an hour later Anthony came upon his wife in the darkness of the
dining-room. Oh, you shouldn't have left them when I was away, she
said. Little Tony cried out and I had to go. I know Rachel doesn't
want to be left with him to-night.
Angels and chaperons defend us, muttered Anthony. I can't stand
it forever to feel a man wanting to kill me for staying by him through
a meeting like this, after three years. I didn't know but Lockwood
would attempt to throw me off my own porch. Give him a chancehe
hasn't any, anyhow.
It's after nine, whispered Juliet.
I know it. Roger's taking a terrible risk.
He doesn't know she's here. But I thought he cared enough for us
That's what I've been so sure of. He's probably been detained by
some case. He's getting so distinguished, the minute he sets foot in
town now the folks with things the matter with them begin to block his
path. I hope she knows what she throws over her shoulder if she refuses
I don't see that she's going to have a chance to refuse him,
mourned Juliet. Do you think he'd ever forgive us if we let him get
away without knowing she was here?
Lockwood found it out, somehow. Carey's safe to tell him if he sees
himand he's pretty sure to, at Roger's club.
You couldn't telephone?
Where? If he can he'll come here, if only to get news of her. She's
never let him write to her, has she?
He told me she hadn't when he was here last fall. And she didn't
know where he was.
Fellow-conspirator, whispered Anthony, we'll give fate her chance
to-night. If she bungles the game we'll take it into our own hands
to-morrow. But I've a feeling I'd like to let it happen by itself, if
When Lockwood had gonewhich was not until eleven o'clock, in spite
of the way his hosts remained in his vicinityRachel stood still upon
the porch smiling a little wearily at Juliet.
My staying all night has been settled for me, she said. There was
no way to go.
Luckily for us, Juliet answered. Sit here a little longer, dear.
It's such a perfect night, and I know we shall see little enough of you
when you get at work.
Rachel dropped into the hammock. I should like to lie here all
night, she said, and watch the stars until I go to sleep. I've done
that so many, many nights from under a tent flap.
All at once she looked up, her eyes widening. Upon the porch step
stood a strong figureas unlike Lockwood's gracefully slender one as
possible. A man's eyes were gazing steadily down into hersdetermined
gray eyes, with a light in them. The two faces were plainly visible to
each other in the radiance from the open door.
XXVIII.A HIGH-HANDED AFFAIR
If she had not been standing in the doorway Juliet would have run
away, but she had to welcome Dr. Roger Barnes, a traveler whom she had
not seen for almost a year. Her presence, however, after one glad
greeting, seemed not to bother him much. He turned from her to Rachel,
who had risen, and took her outstretched hand in both his.
It's been rather a long evening, he said, wandering around and
around this place, waiting for the other man to go. I explored the
orchard and the willow path, and every familiar haunt. I had to refresh
myself occasionally by stealing up for a glimpse of your face between
the vines. But, somehow, that only made it harder to wait. I had to
march myself off again with my fists gripped tight in my pockets to
keep them off that fellow, eating you up with his eyesconfound
himyou, who belong only to me.
He did not smile as he said the last words, but stood looking
eagerly at her with a gaze that never faltered. She tried to draw her
hands away; it was useless. Juliet slipped off, knowing that neither of
them would see her go.
Come down on the lawn with me, he said, but she resisted.
Please stay here, Doctor Barnes, she said, and please let me have
my hand. I can't talk so.
You needn't talkfor a while, he answered. He sat down facing
her. At six o'clock I found out you were here. At eightas soon as I
could get awayI came out. I told you how I spent the evening. If I
had needed anything to sharpen my longing for you that would have done
itbut I think I had reached about the limit of what I could bear in
that line already. It has been one constant augmenting thirst for a
draught that was out of my reach. I shouldn't have kept my promise not
to write you another day after I had been here this time and
heardwhat I have heard, Rachel.
She did not answer. Her face was turned away; she was very still.
Only a slightly quickened breathing, of which he was barely conscious,
betrayed to him that this was not listening of an ordinary sort.
I shouldn't have said anything could make any difference with my
feeling, to strengthen it, he went on very quietly, after a while,
but I find it has. I don't try to explain it to myself, except by the
one thing I am sure ofthat Alexander Huntington was the noblest and
most heroic of men, and deserved to the full those last few hours of
knowledge that you had taken his name. And I can understand your
loyalty to him in wishing to wear it these three years. But, Rachel, I
can't let you wear it any longer.
She turned her face a shade farther away.
I am leaving to-morrow night for another year's absence. He spoke
as simply as if he were discussing the most ordinary of subjects. So I
can see but one thing to do, and that is
He got up and came around behind her, standing in the shadow of the
vines, where the light did not touch himand that is, to take you
He had not said it doubtfully, although his inflection was very
gentle. She moved quickly, startled.
Yes, I'm ready for them. You can't raise an objection that I'm not
ready for, not one that I can't meetexcept one. And that you can't
She was silent, the words upon her lips held in check by this last
You see you can't, being truthful, he said, smiling a little. If
I seem too confident, forgive me; but I've carried with me all these
years that one look, when you forgot to veil your eyes away from me as
you always hadand always have since then. When I get that look from
you again He paused, drawing a long breath. I don't dare dream of
it. Rachel, will you go?
She tried to glance at him, and managed it, but no higher than his
I am engaged to take the training for nurses at the Larchmont
Memorial she began.
But he interrupted her joyfully. You don't say, 'I don't love
you'it's only, 'I was intending to be a nurse.' I told you you
couldn't say it, because it isn't true. You do love me, Rachel. Tell me
Her hurried breathing was plainly perceptible now. She rose quickly,
as if she could not bear the telltale lamplight upon her face any
longer, and went hurriedly across the porch and down upon the lawn,
into the starlight. He followed her, his pulses bounding.
Oh, give up to me, he said in her ear, his own breath coming fast.
You've been fighting it four years nowit's no use. We were made for
each other, and we've known it from the first. You stood heroically by
your first promiseyou gave him all you could; but that's all over.
You don't have to be true to anything or anybody now but me. Give up,
dear, and let me know what it feels like to have you pull a man toward
you instead of pushing him away.
They had reached the edge of the orchardin deep shadow; and she
I don't know what I came down here for, she said, in confusion.
I do; you were running away. It's your instinct to run awayI love
you for itit's what first made me want to follow. But I can't stand
your running away much longer. Look, Rachel, can you see? I'm holding
out my arms. RachelI can't wait
For an instant longer she held out, while he stood silent, holding
himself that he might have the long-dreamed-of joy of receiving her
surrender. Then, all at once, he realised that it had been worth all
his days of patient and impatient waiting, for turning to him at last
she gave herself, with the abandon such natures are capable of showing
when they yield after long resistance, into the arms which closed
hungrily around her.
* * * * *
If anybody could have told what happened during the next twenty-four
hours it would have been Juliet, for it was she who took the helm of
affairs. She lay awake half the night, or what there was left of it
after the doctor had come back with Rachel and told his friends what
had happened and what was yet to happen, planning to make the hasty
wedding as ideal as might be. She was a wonderful planner, and a most
energetic and enthusiastic young matron as well, so by five in the
afternoon she had accomplished all that had seemed to her good.
Rachel's part was only to see that her trunk was packed, her
explanations offered and good-byes said, and her choice made of several
exquisite white gowns which Juliet had had sent out from town.
But I can't be married in white, Mrs. Robeson, she had said
protestingly when Juliet had opened the boxes.
Yes, you canand must. This is your only bridal, dear. The
otheryou know that was only what the doctor said of it once'your
hand in his to the last'the hand of a friend. But thisisn't this
Rachel had turned away her face. Yes, this is different, she had
He asked me to beg you for him to have it so, Juliet urged, and
Rachel was silent. So the simplest of the white frocks it was, and in
it Rachel looked as Juliet had meant she should.
Only Judith and Wayne Carey were asked down to see them married. To
humour the doctor the ceremony was performed in the orchard, near the
entrance to the willow path. The time afterward was short, and before
she knew it Juliet was bidding the two good-bye.
I've got her, said the doctor, looking from Juliet to Rachel, who
stood at his side. She's mineall mine. I have to keep saying it over
and over to make sure.
For your comfort, answered Juliet, smiling at them both, I'll
tell you that she looks as if she were yours.
Does she? he cried, laughing happily. How does she look? He
turned and surveyed her. She looks very proud and sweet and
stillshe's always been those thingsand very beautifulmore
beautiful than ever before. But do you think she really looks as if she
were mine? Tell me how.
Juliet turned from him, big and eager like a boy, to his bride,
proud and sweet and still, as he had said. I've never seen Rachel
look absolutely happy before, she told him. There's always been a bit
of a shadow. But nowlook down into her eyes, Roger; there's no shadow
But when he would have looked Rachel's lashes fell. Not yet?
By-and-by then, Rachel, he whispered. Then he turned to Julietand
Anthony, who had come up to stand beside her.
If it hadn't been for you and your home-making this day would never
have come for me, he said. You have been good friends and true, to us
both. Let us keep you soand good-bye.
XXIX.JULIET PROVES HERSELF STILL
On a July evening, a month later, Cathcart and a great roll of
architects' paper arrived on the Robeson porch. For an hour Juliet
looked and listened, while Anthony, as he had promised, said not a word
to bias her decision. Cathcart laid before her plans for a new house
which wereeven Anthony could but admit to himself beyond praise. From
every standpointthe artistic, the domestic, the practical, even the
economical, so far as the modern architect understands the meaning of
the wordthe plans were ideal. Juliet studied them absorbedly, showing
plainly her appreciation of them.
It would be a beautiful home, she said at length. I can think of
nothing more perfect than such a house.
Cathcart looked triumphant. Without glancing at Anthony he produced
another set of plans.
Just to please myself, Mrs. Robeson, he announced, I have spent
some interesting hours in trying to show what could be done with this
old house, should any one care to lay out a reasonable sum upon it.
Frankly, old houses never repay much expenditure of money, yet there is
a certain satisfaction in working out the details of restoration and
improvement which makes interesting study. Purely as a matter of that
sort I have fancied such extensions as these.
He laid the plans before her. Juliet looked, bent over them, cried
out with delight, and called upon Anthony to join her.
Oh, Mr. Cathcart, she said eagerly, before you proved yourself an
exceedingly fine architect; but now you show yourself a master. To make
this of the old housewhy, it's far the higher art.
Anthony glanced, laughing, across at Cathcart, whose face had fallen
so pronouncedly that Juliet would have seen it if she had been
observing. But she was too absorbed in the new plans.
If we could do this, she was saying, it would satisfy my best
ideals of a permanent home.
But, my dear Mrs. Robeson, stammered the man of castles, consider
the locationthe neighbourhoodthe rural character of the
I do, she answered, still studying the plans. I love them
alland the old home most of all. Ever since I knewhow had she
known? they wonderedthat a change of houses was a possible thing for
us I have been homesick in anticipation of a change I couldn't bear to
think of. Yet I wondered if we ought to go. But if you can make this of
the old home
She lifted to her husband an enthusiastic face. His eyes met hers in
a long look in which each read deep into the mind of the other. Then
Anthony Robeson, like a man who hears precisely what he most wants to
hear, turned smiling to Cathcart.
I think you've lost, Steve, he said.
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