Women by Gouverneur Morris
They engaged themselves to be married when they were so young they
couldn't tell anybody about it for fear of being laughed at; and if I
mentioned their years to you, you would laugh at me. They thought they
were full-grown, but they weren't even that. When they were finally
married they couldn't either of them have worn the clothes they got
engaged in. The day they got engaged they wore suits made of white
woollen blankets, white knitted toques, and white knitted sashes. It
was because they were dressed exactly alike that they first got excited
about each other. And Cynthia said: You look just like a snowman. And
G. G.which was his strange namesaid: You look just like a
G. G. was in Saranac for his health. Cynthia had come up for the
holidays to skate and to skee and to coast, and to get herself engaged
before she was full-grown to a boy who was so delicate that climate was
more important for him than education. They met first at the rink. And
it developed that if you crossed hands with G. G. and skated with him
you skated almost as well as he did. He could teach a girl to waltz in
five minutes; and he had a radiant laugh that almost moved you to tears
when you went to bed at night and got thinking about it. Cynthia had
never seen a boy with such a beautiful round head and such beautiful
white teeth and such bright red cheeks. She always said that she loved
him long before he loved her. As a matter of fact, it happened to them
both right away. As one baby, unabashed and determined, embraces a
strange babyand is embracedso, from their first meeting in the
great cold stillness of the North Woods, their young hearts snuggled
G. G. was different from other boys. To begin with, he had been born
at sea. Then he had lived abroad and learned the greatest quantity of
foreign languages and songs. Then he had tried a New England
boarding-school and had been hurt playing games he was too frail to
play. And doctors had stethoscoped him and shaken their heads over him.
And after that there was much naming of names which, instead of
frightening him, were magic to his earArizona, California,
Saranacbut, because G. G.'s father was a professional man and
perfectly square and honest, there wasn't enough money to send G. G.
far from New York and keep him there and visit him every now and then.
So Saranac was the place chosen for him to get well in; and it seemed a
little hard, because there was almost as much love of sunshine and
warmth and flowers and music in G. G. as there was patience and
The day they went skeeing togetherwhich was the day after they had
skated togetherhe told Cynthia all about himself, very simply and
naturally, as a gentleman farmer should say: This is the dairy; this
is the blacksmith shop; this is the chicken run. And the next day,
very early, when they stood knee-deep in snow, armed with shot-guns and
waiting for some dogs that thought they were hounds to drive rabbits
for them to shoot at, he told her that nothing mattered so long as you
were happy and knew that you were happy, because when these two stars
came into conjunction you were bound to get well.
A rabbit passed. And G. G. laid his mitten upon his lips and shook
his head; and he whispered:
I wouldn't shoot one for anything in the world.
And she said: Neither would I.
Then she said: If you don't shoot why did you come?
Oh, Miss Snowbird, he said, don't I look why I came? Do I have to
He looked and she looked. And their feet were getting colder every
moment and their hearts warmer. Then G. G. laughed aloudbright,
sudden music in the forest. Snow, balanced to the fineness of a hair,
fell from the bowed limbs of trees. Then there was such stillness as
may be in Paradise when souls go up to the throne to be forgiven. Then,
far off, one dog that thought he was a hound began to yap and thought
he was belling; but still G. G. looked into the snowbird's eyes and she
into his, deeper and deeper, until neither had any secret of soul from
the other. So, upon an altar cloth, two wax candles burn side by side,
with clear, pure light.
Cynthia had been well brought up, but she came of rich, impatient
stock, and never until the present moment had she thought very
seriously about God. Now, however, when she saw the tenderness there
was in G. G.'s eyes and the smile of serene joyousness that was upon
his lips, she remembered the saying that God has made manand boysin
His imageand understood what it meant.
She said: I know why you think you've come.
Think? he said. Think!
And then the middle ends of his eyebrows roseall tender and
quizzical; and with one mitten he clutched at his breastjust over his
heart. And he said:
If only I could get it out I would give it to you!
Cynthia, too, began to look melting tender and wondrous quizzical;
and she bent her right arm forward and plucked at its sleeve as if she
were looking for something. Then, in a voice of dismay:
Only three days ago it was still there, she said; and now it's
goneI've lost it.
Oh! said G. G. You don't suspect me of having purloined His
We're only kids, said Cynthia.
Yes, said he; but you're the dearest kid!
Since you've taken my heart, said she, you'll not want to give it
back, will you? I think that would break it.
I oughtn't to have taken it! said G. G.
And then on his face she saw the first shadow that ever he had let
her see of doubt and of misgiving.
Listen! he said. My darling! I think that I shall get well.... I
think that, once I am well, I shall be able to work very hard. I have
nothing. I love you so that I think even angels don't want to do right
more than I do. Is that anything to offer? Not very much.
Nobody in all the world, said she, will ever have the chance to
offer me anything elsejust because I'm a kid doesn't mean that I
don't know the look of forever when I see it.
Is it really forever? he said. For you too?
Ah, said he, what shall I think of to promise you?
His face was a flash of ecstasy.
You don't even have to promise that you will get well, she said.
I know you will try your hardest. No matter what happenswe're
finaland I shall stick to you always, and nothing shall take you from
me, and nobody.... When I am of age I shall tell my papa about us and
then we shall be married to each other! And meanwhile you shall write
to me every day and I shall write to you three times every day! Her
breath came like white smoke between her parted lips and she stood
valiant and sturdy in the snowa strong, resolute girl, built like a
boyclean-cut, crystal-pure, and steel-true. A shot sounded and there
came to them presently the pungent, acid smell of burnt powder.
And we shall never hurt things or kill them, said G. G. And every
day when I've been good I shall kiss your feet and your hands.
And when I've been good, she said, you'll smile at me the way
you're smiling nowand it won't be necessary to die and go to Heaven
to see what the gentlemen angels look like.
But, cried G. G., whoever heard of going to Heaven? It comes to
people. It's here.
And for us, she said, it's come to stay.
All the young people came to the station to see Cynthia off and G.
G. had to content himself with looking things at her. And then he went
back to his room and undressed and went to bed. Because for a week he
had done all sorts of things that he shouldn't have done, just to be
with Cynthiaall the last day he had had fever and it had been very
hard for him to look like a joyous boy angelhe knew by experience
that he was in for a time. It is better that we leave him behind
closed doors with his doctors and his temperature. We may knock every
morning and ask how he is, and we shall be told that he is no better.
He was even delirious at times. And it is only worth while going into
this setback of G. G's because there are miracles connected with
ithis daily letter to Cynthia.
Each day she had his letterjoyous, loving, clearly writ, and full
of flights into silver-lined clouds and the plannings of Spanish
castles. Each day G. G. wrote his letter and each day he descended a
little farther into the Valley of the Shadow, until at last he came to
Death Gateand then rested, a voyager undecided whether to go on or to
go back. Who may know what it cost him to write his letter, sitting
there at the roadside!
His mother was with him. It was she who took the letter from his
hands when he sank back into his pillows; and they thought for a little
that he had gone from that placefor good and all. It was she who put
it into the envelope and who carried it with her own hands to the
post-office. Because G. G. had said: To get there, it must go by the
night's mail, Mumsey.
G. G.'s mother didn't read the letter; but you may be sure she noted
down the name and address in her heart of hearts, and that for the girl
who seemed to mean so much to G. G. she developed upon the spot a
heavenly tenderness, mixed with a heavenly jealousy.
One day there came to G. G., in convalescenceit was after his
mother had gone back to New Yorka great, thick package containing
photographs and a letter. I think the letter contained rougebecause
it made G. G.'s cheeks so red.
Cynthia had collected all the pictures she could find of herself in
her father's house and sent them to G. G. There were pictures of her in
the longest baby clothes and in the shortest. There were pictures posed
for occasions, pictures in fancy clothes, and a quart of kodaks. He had
her there on his kneesriding, driving, diving, skating, walking,
sitting on steps, playing with dogs, laughing, looking sad, talking,
dimpling, smiling. There were pictures that looked right at G. G., no
matter at what angle he held them. There were pictures so delicious of
her that he laughed aloud for delight.
All the stages of her life passed before his eyesover and
overall day long; and, instead of growing more and more tired, he
grew more and more refreshed. He made up his spotless mind to be worthy
of her and to make, for her to bear, a name of which nobody should be
able to say anything unkind.
If G. G. had had very little education he had made great friends
with some of the friendliest and most valuable books that had ever been
written. And he made up his mind, lying at full lengththe livelong
dayin the bright, cold airhis mittened hands plunged into deep
pockets full of photographsthat, for her sake and to hasten that time
when they might always be together, he would learn to write books,
taking infinite pains. And he determined that these books should be as
sweet and clean and honorable as he could make them. You see, G. G. had
been under the weather so much and had suffered so much all alone by
himself, with nobody to talk to, that his head was already full of
stories about make-believe places and people that were just dying to
get themselves written. So many things that are dead to most people had
always been alive to himleaves, flowers, fairies. He had always been
a busy maker of verses, which was because melody, rhythm, and harmony
had always been delicious to his ear. And he had had, as a little boy,
a soprano voice that was as true as truth and almost as agile as a
He decided, then, very deliberatelylying upon his back and healing
that traitor lung of histo be a writer. He didn't so decide entirely
because that was what he had always wanted to be, but for many reasons.
First place, he could say things to her through prose and verse that
could not be expressed in sculpture, music, painting, groceries, or
dry-goods. Second place, where she was, there his heart was sure to be;
and where the heart is, there the best work is done. And, third place,
he knew that the chances were against his ever living in dusty cities
or in the places of business thereof.
I am so young, he wrote to her, that I can begin at the beginning
and learn to be anythingin time to be it! And so every morning now
you shall think of G. G. out with his butterfly net, running after
winged words. That's nonsense. I've a little pad and a big pencil, and
a hot potato in my pocket for to warm the numb fingers at. And father's
got an old typewriter in his office that's to be put in order for me;
and nights I shall drum upon it and print off what was written down in
the morning, and study to see why it's all wrong. I think I'll never
write anything but tales about people who love each other. 'Cause a
fellow wants to stick to what he knows about....
Though G. G. was not to see Cynthia again for a whole year he didn't
find any trouble in loving her a little more every day. To his mind's
eye she was almost as vivid as if she had been standing right there in
front of him. And as for her voice, that dwelt ever in his ear, like
those lovely airs which, once heard, are only put aside with death. You
may have heard your grandmother lilting to herself, over her mending,
some song of men and maidens and violets that she had listened to in
her girlhood and could never forget.
And then, of course, everything that G. G. did was a reminder of
Cynthia. With the help of one of Doctor Trudeau's assistants, who came
every day to see how he was getting on, he succeeded in understanding
very well what was the matter with him and under just what conditions a
consumptive lung heals and becomes whole. To live according to the
letter and spirit of the doctor's advice became almost a religion with
For six hours of every day he sat on the porch of the house where he
had rooms, writing on his little pad and making friends with the keen,
clean, healing air. Every night the windows of his bedroom stood wide
open, so that in the morning the water in his pitcher was a solid
block. And he ate just the things he was told toand willed himself to
like milk and sugar, and snow and cold, and short days!
In his writing he began to see progress. He was like a musical
person beginning to learn an instrument; for, just as surely as there
are scales to be run upon the piano before your virtuoso can weave
music, binding the gallery gods with delicious meshes of sound, so in
prose-writing there must be scales run, fingerings worked out, and
harmonies mastered. For in a page of lo bello stile you will
find trills and arpeggios, turns, grace notes, a main theme, a sub
theme, thorough-bass, counterpoint, and form.
Music is an easier art than prose, however. It comes to men as a
more direct and concrete gift of those gods who delight in sound and
the co-ordination of parts. The harmonies are more quickly grasped by
the well-tuned ear. We can imagine the boy Mozart discoursing lovely
music at the age of five; but we cannot imagine any one of such tender
years compiling even a fifth-rate paragraph of prose.
Those men who have mastered lo bello stile in music can tell
us pretty clearly how the thing is done. There be rules. But your prose
masters either cannot formulate what they have learnedor will not.
G. G. was very patient; and there were times when the putting
together of words was fascinating, like the putting together of those
picture puzzles which were such a fad the other day. And such reading
as he did was all in one bookthe dictionary. For hours, guided by his
nice ear for sound, he applied himself to learning the derivatives and
exact meanings of new wordsor he looked up old words and found that
they were new.
As for his actual compositions, he had only the ambition to make
them as workmanlike as he could. He made little landscapes; he drew
little interiors. He tried to get people up and down stairs in the
fewest words that would make the picture. And when he thought that he
had scored a little success he would count the number of words he had
used and determine to achieve the same effect with the use of only half
Well, G. G.'s lung healed again; and this time he was very careful
not to overdo. He had gained nine pounds, he wrote to Cynthiasaved
them was the way he put it; and he was determined that this new
tissue, worth more than its weight in gold, should go to bank and earn
interest for himand compound interest.
Shall I get well? he asked that great dreamer who dreamed that
there was hope for people who had never hoped beforeand who has lived
to see his dream come true; and the great dreamer smiled and said:
G. G., if growing boys are good boys and do what they are told, and
have any luck at allthey always get well!
Then G. G. blushed.
And when I am well can I live where I pleaseandand get
marriedand all that sort of thing?
You can live where you please, marry and have children; and if you
aren't a good husband and a good father I dare say you'll live to be
hanged at ninety. But if I were you, G. G., I'd stick by the
Adirondacks until you're old enough toknow better.
And G. G. went back to his rooms in great glee and typewrote a story
that he had finished as well as he could, and sent it to a magazine.
And six days later it came back to him, with a little note from the
editor, who said:
There's nothing wrong with your story except youth. If you say so
we'll print it. We like it. But, personally, and believing that I have
your best interests at heart, I advise you to wait, to throw this story
into your scrap basket, and to study and to labor until your mind and
your talent are mature. For the rest, I think you are going to do some
fine things. This present story isn't thatit's not fine. At the same
time, it is so very good in some ways that we are willing to leave its
publication or its destruction to your discretion.
G. G. threw his story into the scrap basket and went to bed with a
brand-new notion of editors.
Why, said he to the cold darknessand his voice was full of awe
Cynthia couldn't get at G. G. and she made up her mind that she must
get at something that belonged to himor die. She had his letter, of
course, and his kodaks; and these spoke the most eloquent language to
herno matter what they said or how they lookedbut she wanted
somehow or other to worm herself deeper into G. G.'s life. To find
somebody, for instance, who knew all about him and would enjoy talking
about him by the hour. Now there are never but two people who enjoy
sitting by the hour and saying nice things about any manand these, of
course, are the woman who bore him and the woman who loves him. Fathers
like their sons well enoughsometimesand will sometimes talk about
them and praise them; but not always. So it seemed to Cynthia that the
one and only thing worth doing, under the circumstances, was to make
friends with G. G.'s mother. To that end, Cynthia donned a warm coat of
pony-skin and drove in a taxicab to G. G.'s mother's address, which she
had long since looked up in the telephone book.
If she isn't alone, said Cynthia, I shan't know what to say or
what to do.
And she hesitated, with her thumb hovering about the front-door
bellas a humming-bird hovers at a flower.
Then she said: What does it matter? Nobody's going to eat me. And
she rang the bell.
G. G.'s mother was at home. She was alone. She was sitting in G.
G.'s father's library, where she always did sit when she was alone. It
was where she kept most of her pictures of G. G.'s father and of G. G.,
though she had others in her bedroom; and in her dressing-room she had
a dapple-gray horse of wood that G. G. had galloped about on when he
was little. She had a sweet face, full of courage and affection. And
everything in her house was fresh and pretty, though there wasn't
anything that could have cost very much. G. G.'s father was a lawyer.
He was more interested in leaving a stainless name behind him than a
pot of money. And, somehow, fruit doesn't tumble off your neighbor's
tree and fall into your own lapunless you climb the tree when nobody
is looking and give the tree a sound shaking. I might have said of G.
G., in the very beginning, that he was born of poor and honest
parents. It would have saved all this explanation.
G. G.'s mother didn't make things hard for Cynthia. One glance was
enough to tell her that dropping into the little library out of the
blue sky was not a pretty girl but a blessed angelnot a rich man's
daughter but a treasure. It wasn't enough to give one hand to such a
maiden. G. G.'s mother gave her two. But she didn't kiss her. She felt
things too deeply to kiss easily.
I've come to talk about G. G., said Cynthia. I couldn't help it.
I think he's the dearest boy!
She finished quite breathlessand if there had been any Jacqueminot
roses present they might have hung their lovely heads in shame and left
G. G. has shown me pictures of you, said his mother. And once,
when we thought we were going to lose him, he used his last strength to
write to you. I mailed the letter. That is a long time ago. Nearly two
And I didn't know that he'd been ill in all that time, said
Cynthia; he never told me.
He would have cut off his hand sooner than make you anxious. That
was why he would write his daily letter to you. That one must
have been almost as hard to write as cutting off a hand.
He writes to me every day, said Cynthia, and I write to him; but
I haven't seen him for a year and I don't feel as if I could stand it
much longer. When he gets well we're going to be married. And if he
doesn't get well pretty soon we're going to be married anyway.
Oh, my dear! exclaimed G. G.'s mother. You know that wouldn't be
I don't know, said Cynthia; and if anybody thinks I'm going to be
tricked out of the man I love by a lot of silly little germs they are
very much mistaken!
But, my dear, said G. G.'s mother, G. G. can't support a
wifenot for a long time anyway. We have nothing to give him. And, of
course, he can't work nowand perhaps can't for years.
I, too, said Cynthiawith proper pridehave parents. Mine are
rolling in money. Whenever I ask them for anything they always give it
to me without question.
You have never asked them, said G. G.'s mother, for a sick,
But I shall, said Cynthia, the moment G. G.'s welland maybe
There was a little silence.
Then G. G.'s mother leaned forward and took both of Cynthia's hands
I don't wonder at him, she saidI don't. I was ever so jealous
of you, but I'm not any more. I think you're the dearest girl!
Oh! cried Cynthia. I am so glad! But will G. G.'s father like me
He has never yet failed, said G. G.'s mother, to like with his
whole heart anything that was stainless and beautiful.
Is he like G. G.?
He has the same beautiful round head, but he has a rugged look that
G. G. will never have. He has a lion look. He might have been a
terrible tyrant if he hadn't happened, instead, to be a saint.
And she showed Cynthia, side by side, pictures of the father and the
They have such valiant eyes! said Cynthia.
There is nothing base in my young men, said G. G.'s mother.
Then the two women got right down to business and began an
interminable conversation of praise. And sometimes G. G.'s mother's
eyes cried a little while the rest of her face smiled and she prattled
like a brook. And the meeting ended with a great hug, in which G. G.'s
mother's tiny feet almost parted company with the floor.
And it was arranged that they two should fly up to Saranac and be
with G. G. for a day.
It wasn't from shame that G. G. signed another name than his own to
the stories that he was making at the rate of one every two months. He
judged calmly and dispassionately that they were going to be pretty
good some day, and that it would never be necessary for him to live in
a city. He signed his stories with an assumed name because he was full
of dramatic instinct. He wanted to be ablejust the minute he was
wellto say to Cynthia:
Let us be married! Then she was to say: Of course, G. G.; but
what are we going to live on? And G. G. was going to say: Ever hear
CYNTHIA: Goodness gracious! Sakes alive! Yes; I should think I had!
And, except for you, darlingest G. G., I think he's the very greatest
man in all the world!
G. G.: Goosey-Gander, know that he and I are one and the same
personand that we've saved seventeen hundred dollars to get married
(Tableau not to be seen by the audience.)
So far as keeping Cynthia and his father and mother in ignorance of
the fledgling wings he was beginning to flap, G. G. succeeded
admirably; but it might have been better to have told them all in the
Now G. G.'s seventeen hundred dollars was a huge myth. He was
writing short stories at the rate of six a year and he had picked out
to do business with one of the most dignified magazines in the world.
Dignified people do not squander money. The magazine in question paid
G. G. from sixty to seventy dollars apiece for his stories and was much
too dignified to inform him that plenty of other magazinesvery
frivolous and not in the least dignifiedwould have been ashamed to
pay so little for anything but the poems, which all magazines use to
fill up blank spaces. So, even in his own ambitious and courageous
mind, a married living seemed a very long way off.
He refused to be discouraged, however. His health was too good for
that. The doctor pointed to him with pride as a patient who followed
instructions to the letter and was not going to die of the disease
which had brought him to Saranac. And they wrote to G. G's fatherwho
was finding life very expensivethat, if he could keep G. G. at
Saranac, or almost anywhere out of New York, for another year or two,
they guaranteedas much as human doctors canthat G. G. would then be
as sound as a bell and fit to live anywhere.
This pronouncement was altogether too much of a good thing for Fate.
As G. G's father walked up-town from his office, Fate raised a dust in
his face which, in addition to the usual ingredients of city dust,
contained at least one thoroughly compatible pair of pneumonia germs.
These went for their honey-moon on a pleasant, warm journey up G. G's
father's left nostril and to house-keeping in his lungs. In a few hours
they raised a family of several hundred thousand bouncing baby germs;
and these grew up in a few minutes and began to set up establishments
of their own right and left.
G. G.'s father admitted that he had a heavy cold on the chest. It
was such a heavy cold that he became delirious, and doctors came and
sent for nurses; and there was laid in the home of G. G.'s father the
corner-stone of a large edifice of financial disaster.
He had never had a partner. His practice came to a dead halt. The
doctors whom G. G.'s mother called in were, of course, the best she had
ever heard of. They would have been leaders of society if their persons
had been as fashionable as their prices. The corner drug store made its
modest little profit of three or four hundred per cent on the drugs
which were telephoned for daily. The day nurse rolled up twenty-five
dollars a week and the night nurse thirty-five. The servant's wages
continued as usual. The price of beef, eggs, vegetables, etc., rose.
The interest on the mortgage fell due. And it is a wonder, considering
how much he worried, that G. G.'s father ever lived to face his
Cynthia, meanwhile, having heard that G. G. was surely going to get
well, was so happy that she couldn't contain the news. And she
proceeded to divulge it to her father.
Papa, she said, I think I ought to tell you that years ago, at
Saranacthat Christmas when I went up with the AndersonsI met the
man that I am going to marry. He was a boy then; but now we're both
grown up and we feel just the same about each other.
And she told her father G. G.'s name and that he had been very
delicate, but that he was surely going to get well. Cynthia's father,
who had always given her everything she asked for until now, was not at
I can't prevent your marrying any one you determine to marry,
Cynthia, he said. Can this young man support a wife?
How could he! she exclaimedliving at Saranac and not being able
to work, and not having any money to begin with! But surely, if the way
we live is any criterion, you could spare us some moneycouldn't
You wish me to say that I will support a delicate son-in-law whom I
have never seen? Consult your intelligence, Cynthia.
I have my allowance, she said, her lips curling.
Yes, said her father, while you live at home and do as you're
Now, papa, don't tell me that you're going to behave like a
lugubrious parent in a novel! Don't tell me that you are going to cut
me off with a shilling!
I shan't do that, he said gravely; it will be without a
shilling. But he tempered this savage statement with a faint smile.
Papa, dear, is this quite definite? Are you talking in your right
mind and do you really mean what you say?
Suppose you talk the matter over with your mothershe's always
indulged you in every way. See what she says.
It developed that neither of Cynthia's parents was enthusiastic at
the prospect of her marrying a nameless young manshe had told them
his name, but that was all she got for her painswho hadn't a penny
and who had had consumption, and might or might not be sound again.
Personally they did not believe that consumption can be cured. It can
be arrested for a time, they admitted, but it always comes back.
Cynthia's mother even made a physiological attack on Cynthia's
understanding, with the result that Cynthia turned indignantly pink and
left the room, saying:
If the doctor thinks it's perfectly right and proper for us to
marry I don't see the least point in listening to the opinions of
excited and prejudiced amateurs.
The ultimatum that she had from her parents was distinct, final, and
Marry him if you like. We will neither forgive you nor support
They were perfectly calm with hercool, affectionate, sensible, and
worldly, as it is right and proper for parents to be. She told them
they were wrong-headed, old-fashioned, and unintelligent; but as long
as they hadn't made scenes and talked loud she found that she couldn't
help loving them almost as much as she always had; but she loved G. G.
very much more. And having definitely decided to defy her family, to
marry G. G. and live happily ever afterward, she consulted her
check-book and discovered that her available munition of war was
something less than five hundred dollarsmost of it owed to her
Well, well! she said; she's always had plenty of money from me;
she can afford to wait.
And Cynthia wrote to her dress-maker, who was also her friend!
MY DEAR CELESTE: I have decided that you will have to afford to
wait for your money. I have an enterprise in view which calls
all the available capital I have. Please write me a nice note
say that you don't mind a bit. Otherwise we shall stop being
friends and I shall always get my clothes from somebody else.
me know when the new models come....
On her way down-town Cynthia stopped to see G. G.'s mother and found
the whole household in the throes occasioned by its head's pneumonia.
Why haven't you let me know? exclaimed Cynthia. There must be so
many little things that I could have done to help you.
Though the sick man couldn't have heard them if they had shouted,
the two women talked in whispers, with their heads very close together.
He's better, said G. G.'s mother, but yesterday they wanted me to
send for G. G. 'No,' I said. 'You may have given him up, but I haven't.
If I send for my boy it would look as if I had surrendered,' And almost
at once, if you'll believe it, he seemed to shake off something that
was trying to strangle him and took a turn for the better; and now they
say that, barring some long names, he will get well.... It does look,
my dear, as if death had seen that there was no use facing a thoroughly
At this point, because she was very much overwrought, G. G.'s mother
had a mild little attack of hysteria; and Cynthia beat her on the back
and shook her and kissed her until she was over it. Then G. G.'s mother
told Cynthia about her financial troubles.
It isn't us that matters, she said, but that G. G. ought to have
one more year in a first-rate climate; and it isn't going to be
possible to give it to him. They say that he's well, my dear,
absolutely well; but that now he should have a chance to build up and
become strong and heavy, so that he can do a man's work in the world.
As it is, we shall have to take him home to live; and you know what New
York dust and climate can do to people who have been very, very ill and
are still delicate and high-strung.
There's only one thing to do for the present, said
Cynthiaanybody with the least notion of business knows thatwe must
keep him at Saranac just as long as our credit holds out, mustn't
we?until the woman where he boards begins to act ugly and threatens
to turn him out in the snow.
Oh, but that would be dreadful! said G. G.'s mother. Cynthia
smiled in a superior way.
I don't believe, she said, that you understand the first thing
about business. Even my father, who is a prude about bills, says that
all the business of the country is done on credit.... Now you're not
going to be silly, are you?and make G. G. come to New York before he
It will have to be pretty soon, I'm afraid, said G. G.'s mother.
Sooner than run such risks with any boy of mine, said Cynthia,
with a high color, I'd beg, I'd borrow, I'd forge, I'd lieI'd
Don't I know you would! exclaimed G. G.'s mother. My darling
girl, you've got the noblest characterit's just shining in your
There's another thing, said Cynthia: I have to go down-town now
on business, but you must telephone me around five o'clock and tell me
how G. G.'s father is. And you must spend all your time between now and
then trying to think up something really useful that I can do to help
you. Andhere Cynthia became very mysteriousI forbid you to worry
about money until I tell you to!
Cynthia had a cousin in Wall Street; his name was Jarrocks Bell. He
was twenty years older than Cynthia and he had been fond of her ever
since she was born. He was a great, big, good-looking man, gruff
without and tender within. Clever people, who hadn't made successful
brokers, wondered how in the face of what they called his obvious
stupidity Jarrocks Bell had managed to grow rich in Wall Street. The
answer was obvious enough to any one who knew him intimately. To begin
with, his stupidity was superficial. In the second place, he had
studied bonds and stocks until he knew a great deal about them. Then,
though a drinking man, he had a head like iron and was never moved by
exhilaration to mention his own or anybody else's affairs. Furthermore,
he was unscrupulously honest. He was so honest and blunt that people
thought him brutal at times. Last and not least among the elements of
his success was the fact that he himself never speculated.
When the big men found out that there was in Wall Street a broker
who didn't speculate himself, who didn't drink to excess, who was
absolutely honest, and who never opened his mouth when it was better
shut, they began to patronize that man's firm. In short, the moment
Jarrocks Bell's qualities were discovered, Jarrocks Bell was made. So
that now, in speculative years, his profits were enormous.
Cynthia had always been fond of her big, blunt cousin, as he of her;
and in her present trouble her thoughts flew to him as straight as a
homing aeroplane to the landing-stage.
Even a respectable broker's office is a noisome, embarrassing place,
and among the clients are men whose eyes have become popped from
staring at paper-tapes and pretty girls; but Cynthia had no more fear
of men than a farmer's daughter has of cows, and she flashed through
Jarrocks's outer officepreceded by a very small boywith her color
unchanged and only her head a little higher than usual.
Jarrocks must have wondered to the point of vulgar curiosity what
the deuce had brought Cynthia to see him in the busiest hour of a very
busy day; but he said Hello, Cynthia! as naturally as if they two had
been visiting in the same house and he had come face to face with her
for the third or fourth time that morning.
I suppose, said Cynthia, that you are dreadfully busy; but,
Jarrocks dear, my affairs are so much more important to me than yours
can possibly be to youdo you mind?
May I smoke?
Then I don't mind. What's your affair, Cynthiamoney or the
Both, Jarrocks. And she told him pretty much what the reader has
already learned. As for Jarrocks's listening, he was a perfect study of
himself. He laughed gruffly when he ought to have cried; and when
Cynthia tried to be a little humorous he looked very solemn and not
unlike the big bronze Buddha of the Japanese. Inside, however, his big
heart was full of compassion and tenderness for his favorite girl in
all the world. Nobody will ever know just how fond Jarrocks was of
Cynthia. It was one of those matters on whichowing, perhaps, to his
being her senior by twenty yearshe had always thought it best to keep
his mouth shut.
What's your plan? he asked. Where do I come in? I'll give you
anything I've got. Cynthia waived the offer; it was a little
I've got about five hundred dollars, she said, and I want to
speculate with it and make a lot of money, so that I can be independent
of papa and mamma.
Lots of people, said Jarrocks, come to Wall Street with five
hundred dollars, more or less, and they wish to be independent of papa
and mamma. They end up by going to live in the Mills Hotel.
I know, said Cynthia; but this is really important. If G. G.
could work it would be different.
Tell me one thing, said Jarrocks: If you weren't in love with G.
G. what would you think of him as a candidate for your very best
Cynthia counted ten before answering.
Jarrocks, dear, she saidand he turned away from the meltingness
of her lovely facehe's so pure, he's so straight, he's so gentle and
so brave, that I don't really think I can tell you what I think of
There was silence for a moment, then Jarrocks said gruffly:
That's a clean-enough bill of health. Guess you can bring him into
the family, Cynthia.
Then he drummed with his thick, stubby fingers on the arm of his
The idea, he said at last, is to turn five hundred dollars into a
fortune. You know I don't speculate.
But you make it easy for other people?
If you'd come a year ago, he said, I'd have sent you away. Just
at the present moment your proposition isn't the darn-fool thing it
I knew you'd agree with me, said Cynthia complacently. I knew
you'd put me into something that was going 'way up.
Prices are at about the highest level they've ever struck and money
was never more expensive. I think we're going to see such a tumble in
values as was never seen before. It almost tempts me to come out of my
shell and take a flyerif I lose your five hundred for you, you won't
Of course not.
Then I'll tell you what I think. There's nothing certain in this
business, but if ever there was a chance to turn five hundred dollars
into big money it's now. You've entered Wall Street, Cynthia, at what
looks to me like the psychological moment.
That's a good omen, said Cynthia. I believe we shall succeed. And
I leave everything to you.
Then she wrote him a check for all the money she had in the world.
He held it between his thumb and forefinger while the ink dried.
By the way, Cynthia, he said, do you want the account to stand in
your own name?
She thought a moment, then laughed and told him to put it in the
name of G. G.'s mother. But you must report to me how things go, she
Jarrocks called a clerk and gave him an order to sell something or
other. In three minutes the clerk reported that itjust some letter
of the alphabethad been sold at such and such a price.
For another five minutes Jarrocks denied himself to all visitors.
Then he called for another report on the stock which he had just caused
to be sold. It was selling off a half.
Well, Cynthia, said Jarrocks, you're fifty dollars richer than
when you came. Now I've got to tell you to go. I'll look out for your
interests as if they were my own.
And Jarrocks, looking rather stupid and bored, conducted Cynthia
through his outer offices and put her into an elevator going down.
Her face vanished and his heart continued to mumble and grumble, just
the way a tooth does when it is getting ready to ache.
Cynthia had entered Wall Street at an auspicious moment. Stocks were
at that high level from which they presently tumbled to the panic
quotations of nineteen-seven. And Jarrocks, whom the unsuccessful
thought so very stupid, had made a very shrewd guess as to what was
going to happen.
Two weeks later he wrote Cynthia that if she could use two or three
thousand dollars she could have them, without troubling her balance
I thought you had a chance, he wrote. I'm beginning to think it's
a sure thing! Keep a stiff upper lip and first thing you know you'll
have the laugh on mamma and papa. Give 'em my best regards.
If it is wicked to gamble Cynthia was wicked. If it is wicked to lie
Cynthia was wicked. If the money that comes out of Wall Street belonged
originally to widows and orphans, why, that is the kind of money which
she amassed for her own selfish purposes. Worst of all, on learning
from Jarrocks that the Rainbow's Footwhere the pot of gold iswas
almost in sight, this bad, wicked girl's sensations were those of
unmixed triumph and delight!
The panic of nineteen-seven is history now. Plenty of people who
lost their money during those exciting months can explain to you how
any fool, with the least luck, could have made buckets of it instead.
As a snowball rolling down a hill of damp snow swells to gigantic
proportions, so Cynthia's five hundred dollars descended the long
slopes of nineteen-seven, doubling itself at almost every turn. And
when, at last, values had so shrunk that it looked to Jarrocks as if
they could not shrink any more, he told her that her accountwhich
stood in the name of G. G.'s motherwas worth nearly four hundred
thousand dollars. And I think, he said, that, if you now buy stocks
outright and hold them as investments, your money will double again.
So they put their heads together and Cynthia bought some Union
Pacific at par and some Steel Common in the careless twenties, and
other standard securities that were begging, almost with tears in their
eyes, to be bought and cared for by somebody. She had the certificates
of what she bought made out in the name of G. G.'s mother. And she went
up-town and found G. G.'s mother alone, and said:
Oh, my dear! If anybody ever finds out you will catch it!
G. G.'s mother knew there was a joke of some kind preparing at her
expense, but she couldn't help looking a little puzzled and anxious.
It's bad enough to do what you have done, continued Cynthia; but
on top of it to be going to lie up and downthat does seem a little
What are you going to tell me? cried G. G.'s mother. I know
you've got some good news up your sleeve!
Gambler! cried Cynthiacold-blooded, reckless Wall Street
speculator! And the laughter that was pent up in her face burst its
bonds, accompanied by hugs and kisses.
Now listen! said Cynthia, as soon as she could. On such and such
a day, you took five hundred dollars to a Wall Street broker named
Jarrocks Bellyou thought that conditions were right for turning into
a Bear. You went short of the market. You kept it up for weeks and
months. Do you know what you did? You pyramided on the way down!
Mercy! exclaimed G. G.'s mother, her eyes shining with wonder and
First thing you knew, continued Cynthia, you were worth four
hundred thousand dollars!
G. G.'s mother gave a little scream, as if she had seen a mouse.
And you invested it, went on Cynthia, relenting, so that now you
stand to double your capital; and your annual income is between thirty
and forty thousand dollars!
After this Cynthia really did some explaining, until G. G.'s mother
really understood what had really happened. It must be recorded that,
at first, she was completely flabbergasted.
And you've gone and put it in my name! she said. But why?
Don't you see, said Cynthia, that if I came offering money to G.
G. and G. G.'s father they wouldn't even sniff at it? But if you've got
itwhy, they've just got to share with you. Isn't that so?
Y-e-e-s, admitted G. G.'s mother; but, my dear, I can't take it.
Even if I could, they would want to know where I'd gotten it and I'd
have nothing to say.
Not if you're the one woman in a million that I think you are,
said Cynthia. Tell me, isn't your husband at his wit's end to think
how to meet the bills for his illness and all and all? And wouldn't you
raise your finger to bring all his miserable worries to an end? Just
look at the matter from a business point of view! You must tell your
husband and G. G. that what has really happened to me happened to you;
that you were desperate; that you took the five hundred dollars to
speculate with, and that this is the result.
But that wouldn't be true, said G. G.'s mother.
For mercy's sake, said Cynthia, what has the truth got to do with
it! This isn't a matter of religion or martyrdom; it's a matter of
business! How to put an end to my husband's troubles and to enable my
son to marry the girl he loves?that's your problem; and the solution
islie! Whom can the money come from if not from you? Not from me
certainly. You must lie! You'd better begin in the dark, where your
husband can't see your facebecause I'm afraid you don't know how very
well. But after a time it will get easy; and when you've told him the
story two or three timeswith detailsyou'll end by believing it
yourself.... And, of course, she added, you must make over half of
the securities to G. G., so that he will have enough money to support a
For two hours Cynthia wrestled with G. G.'s mother's conscience;
but, when at last the struggling creature was thrown, the two women
literally took it by the hair and dragged it around the room and beat
it until it was deaf, dumb, and blind.
And when G. G.'s father came home G. G.'s mother met him in the hall
that was darkish, and hid her face against hisand lied to him! And as
she lied the years began to fall from the shoulders of G. G.'s
fatherto the number of ten.
Cynthia was also met in a front hallbut by her father.
I've been looking for you, Cynthia, he said gravely. I want to
talk to you and get your adviceno; the library is full of smokecome
He led her into the drawing-room, which neither of them could
remember ever having sat in before.
I've been talking with a young gentleman, said her father without
further preliminaries, who made himself immensely interesting to me.
To begin with, I never saw a handsomer, more engaging specimen of young
manhood; and, in the second place, he is the author of some stories
that I have enjoyed in the past year more than any one's except O.
Henry's. He doesn't write over his own namebut that's neither here
He came to me for advice. Why he selected me, a total stranger,
will appear presently. His family isn't well off; and, though he
expects to succeed in literatureand there's no doubt of it in my
mindhe feels that he ought to give it up and go into something in
which the financial prospects are brighter. I suggested a rich wife,
but that seemed to hurt his feelings. He said it would be bad enough to
marry a girl that had more than he had; but to marry a rich girl, when
he had only the few hundreds a year that he can make writing stories,
was an intolerable thought. And that's all the more creditable to him
because, from what I can gather, he is desperately in loveand the
girl is potentially rich.
But, said Cynthia, what have I to do with all this?
Her father laughed. This young fellow didn't come to me of his own
accord. I sent for him. And I must tell you that, contrary to my
expectations, I was charmed with him. If I had had a son I should wish
him to be just like this youngster.
Cynthia was very much puzzled.
He writes stories? she said.
Bully stories! But he takes so much pains that his output is
Well, said she, what did you tell him?
I told him to wait.
That's conservative advice.
As a small boy, said her father, he was very delicate; but now
he's as sound as a bell and he looks as strong as an elk.
Cynthia rose to her feet, trembling slightly.
What was the matter with himwhen he was delicate?
She became as it were tallerand vivid with beauty.
Where is he?
In the library.
Cynthia put her hands on her father's shoulders.
It's all right, she said; his family has come into quite a lot of
money. He doesn't know it yet. They're going to give him enough to
marry on. You still think he ought to marrydon't you?
Cynthia flew out of the room, across the hall, and into the library.