The Awakening of
by Lloyd Osbourne
George Raymond's father had been a rich man, rich in those days
before the word millionaire had been invented, and when a modest
hundred thousand, lent out at an interest varying from ten to fifteen
per cent, brought in an income that placed its possessor on the lower
steps of affluence. He was the banker of a small New Jersey town, a
man of portentous respectability, who proffered two fingers to his
poorer clients and spoke about the weather as though it belonged to
him. When the school-children read of Croesus in their mythology, it
was Jacob Raymond they saw in their mind's eye; such expressions as
"rich beyond the dreams of avarice" suggested him as inevitably as
pumpkin did pie; they wondered doubtfully about him in church when
that unfortunate matter of the camel was brought up with its attendant
difficulties for the wealthy. Even Captain Kidd's treasure, in those
times so actively sought for along the whole stretch of the New
England coast, conjured up a small brick building with "Jacob Raymond,
Banker" in gilt letters above the lintel of the door.
But there came a day when that door stayed locked and a hundred
white faces gathered about it, blocking the village street and
talking in whispers though the noonday sun was shining. Raymond's
bank was insolvent, and the banker himself, a fugitive in tarry sea
clothes, was hauling ropes on a vessel outward bound for Callao. He
might have stayed in Middleborough and braved it out, for he had
robbed no man and his personal honour was untarnished, having
succumbed without dishonesty to primitive methods and lack of capital.
But he chose instead the meaner course of flight. Of all the
reproachful faces he left behind him his wife's was the one he felt
himself the least able to confront; and thus, abandoning everything,
with hardly a dozen dollars in his pocket, he slipped away to sea,
never to be seen or heard of again.
Mrs. Raymond was a woman of forty-five, a New Englander to her
finger-tips, proud, arrogant, and fiercely honest; a woman who never
forgot, never forgave, and who practised her narrow Christianity with
the unrelentingness of an Indian. She lived up to an austere standard
herself, and woe betide those who fell one whit behind her. She was
one of those just persons who would have cast the first stone at the
dictates of conscience and with a sort of holy joy in her own fitness
to do so. For years she had been the richest woman in Middleborough,
the head of everything charitable and religious, the mainstay of
ministers, the court of final appeal in the case of sinners and
backsliders. Now, in a moment, through no fault of her own, the whole
fabric of her life had crumbled. Again had the mighty fallen.
She had not a spark of pity for her husband. To owe what you could
not pay was to her the height of dishonour. It was theft, and she had
no compunction in giving it the name, however it might be disguised or
palliated. She could see no mitigating circumstances in Raymond's
disgrace, and the fact that she was innocently involved in his
downfall filled her with exasperation. The big old corner house was
her own. She had been born in it. It had been her marriage portion
from her father. She put it straightway under the hammer; her canal
stock with it; her furniture and linen; a row of five little cottages
on the outskirts of the town where five poor families had found not
only that their bodies, but the welfare of their souls, had been
confided to her grim keeping. She stripped herself of everything, and
when all had been made over to the creditors there still remained a
deficit of seventeen hundred dollars. This debt which was not a debt,
for she was under no legal compulsion to pay a penny of it, would
willingly have been condoned by men already grateful for her
generosity; but she would hear of no such compromise, not even that
her notes be free of interest, and she gave them at five per cent,
resolute that in time she would redeem them to the uttermost farthing.
Under these sudden changes of fortune it is seldom that the
sufferer remains amid the ruins of past prosperity. The human
instinct is to fly and hide. The wound heals more readily amongst
strangers. The material evils of life are never so intolerable as the
public loss of caste. It may be said that it is people, not things,
which cause most of the world's unhappiness. Mrs. Raymond came to New
York, where she had not a friend except the son she brought with her,
there to set herself with an undaunted heart to earn the seventeen
hundred dollars she had voluntarily taken on her shoulders to repay.
George Raymond, her son, was then a boy of fifteen. High-strung,
high-spirited, with all the seriousness of a youngster who had
prematurely learned to think for himself, he had arrived at the age
when ineffaceable impressions are made and the tendencies of a
lifetime decided. Passionately attached to his father, he had lost
him in a way that would have made death seem preferable. He saw his
mother, so shortly before the great lady of a little town, working out
like a servant in other people's houses. The tragedy of it all ate
into his soul and overcame him with a sense of hopelessness and
despair. It would not have been so hard could he have helped, even in
a small way, towards the recovery of their fortunes; but his mother,
faithful even in direst poverty to her New England blood, sent him to
school, determined that at any sacrifice he should finish his
education. But by degrees Mrs. Raymond drifted into another class of
work. She became a nurse, and, in a situation where her
conscientiousness was invaluable, slowly established a connection that
in time kept her constantly busy. She won the regard of an important
physician, and not only won it but kept it, and thus little by little
found her way into good houses, where she was highly paid and treated
Had it not been for the seventeen hundred dollars and the five per
cent interest upon it, she could have earned enough to keep herself
and her son very comfortable in the three rooms they occupied on
Seventh Street. But this debt, ever present in the minds of both
mother and son, hung over them like a cloud and took every penny there
was to spare. Those two years from fifteen to seventeen were the most
terrible in Raymond's life. At an age when he possessed neither
philosophy nor knowledge and yet the fullest capacity to suffer, he
had to bear, with what courage he could muster, the crudest buffets of
an adverse fate.
Raymond drudged at his books, passed from class to class and
returned at night to the empty rooms he called home, where he cooked
his own meals and sat solitary beside the candle until it was the hour
for bed. His mother was seldom there to greet him. As a nurse she was
kept prisoner, for weeks at a time, in the houses where she was
engaged. It meant much to the boy to find a note from her lying on the
table when he returned at night; more still to wait at street corners
in his shabby overcoat for those appointments she often made with him.
When she took infectious cases and dared neither write nor speak to
him, they had an hour planned beforehand when she would smile at him
from an open window and wave her hand.
But she was not invariably busy. There were intervals between her
engagements when she remained at home; when those rooms, ordinarily
so lonely and still, took on a wonderful brightness with her presence;
when Raymond, coming back from school late in the afternoon, ran along
the streets singing, as he thought of his mother awaiting him. This
stern woman, the harsh daughter of a harsh race, had but a single
streak of tenderness in her withered heart. To her son she gave
transcendent love, and the whole of her starved nature went out to him
in immeasurable devotion. Their poverty, the absence of all friends,
the burden of debt, the unacknowledged disgrace, and (harder still to
bear) the long and enforced separations from each other, all served to
draw the pair into the closest intimacy. Raymond grew towards manhood
without ever having met a girl of his own age; without ever having had
a chum; without knowing the least thing of youth save much of its
green-sickness and longing.
When the great debt had been paid off and the last of the notes
cancelled there came no corresponding alleviation of their straitened
circumstances. Raymond had graduated from the High School and was
taking the medical course at Columbia University. Every penny was put
by for the unavoidable expenses of his tuition. The mother, shrewd,
ambitious, and far-seeing, was staking everything against the future,
and was wise enough to sacrifice the present in order to launch her
son into a profession. In those days fresh air had not been
discovered. Athletics, then in their infancy, were regarded much as we
now do prize-fighting. The ideal student was a pale individual who
wore out the night with cold towels around his head, and who had a
bigger appetite for books than for meat. Docile, unquestioning,
knowing no law but his mother's wish; eager to earn her commendation
and to repay with usury the immense sacrifices she had made for him,
Raymond worked himself to a shadow with study, and at nineteen was a
tall, thin, narrow-shouldered young man with sunken cheeks and a
preternatural whiteness of complexion.
He was far from being a bad-looking fellow, however. He had
beautiful blue eyes, more like a girl's than a man's, and there was
something earnest and winning in his face that often got him a shy
glance on the street from passing women. His acquaintance in this
direction went no further. Many times when a college acquaintance
would have included him in some little party, his mother had
peremptorily refused to let him go. Her face would darken with
jealousy and anger, nor was she backward with a string of reasons for
her refusal. It would unsettle him; he had no money to waste on girls;
he would be shamed by his shabby clothes and ungloved hands; they
would laugh at him behind his back; was he tired, then, of his old
mother who had worked so hard to bring him up decently? And so on and
so on, until, without knowing exactly why, Raymond would feel himself
terribly in the wrong, and was glad enough at last to be forgiven on
the understanding that he would never propose such a reprehensible
In any other young man, brought up in the ordinary way, with the
ordinary advantages, such submission would have seemed mean-
spirited; but the bond between these two was riveted with memories of
penury and privation; any appeal to those black days brought Raymond
on his knees; it was intolerable to him that he should ever cause a
pang in his dear mother's breast. Thus, at the age when the heart is
hungriest for companionship; when for the first time a young man seems
to discover the existence of a hitherto unknown and unimportant sex;
when an inner voice urges him to take his place in the ranks and keep
step with the mighty army of his generation, Raymond was doomed to
walk alone, a wistful outcast, regarding his enviable companions from
He was in his second year at college when his studies were broken
off by his mother's illness. He was suddenly called home to find her
delirious in bed, struck down in the full tide of strength by the
disease she had taken from a patient. It was scarlet fever, and when
it had run its course the doctor took him to one side and told him
that his mother's nursing days were over. During her tedious
convalescence, as Raymond would sit beside her bed and read aloud to
her, their eyes were constantly meeting in unspoken apprehension. They
saw the ground, so solid a month before, now crumbling beneath their
feet; their struggles, their makeshifts, their starved and meagre life
had all been in vain. Their little savings were gone; the breadwinner,
tempting fate once too often, had received what was to her worse than
a mortal wound, for the means of livelihood had been taken from her.
"Could I have but died," she repeated to herself. "Oh, could I
have but died!"
Raymond laid his head against the coverlet and sobbed. He needed
no words to tell him what was in her mind; that her illness had used
up the little money there was to spare; that she, so long the support
of both, was now a helpless burden on his hands. Pity for her
outweighed every other consideration. His own loss seemed but little
in comparison to hers. It was the concluding tragedy of those five
tragic years. The battle, through no fault of theirs, had gone against
them. The dream of a professional career was over.
His mother grew better. The doctor ceased his visits. She was able
to get on her feet again. She took over their pinched housekeeping.
But her step was heavy; the gaunt, grim straight- backed woman, with
her thin grey hair and set mouth, was no more than a spectre of her
former self. The doctor was right. There was nothing before her but
Raymond found work; a place in the auditing department of a
railroad, with a salary to begin with of sixty dollars a month; in
ten years he might hope to get a hundred. But he was one of those
whose back bent easily to misfortune. Heaven knew, he had been
schooled long enough to take its blows with fortitude. His mother and
he could manage comfortably on sixty dollars a month; and when he laid
his first earnings in her hand he even smiled with satisfaction. She
took the money in silence, her heart too full to ask him whence it
came. She had hoped against hope until that moment; and the bills, as
she looked at them, seemed to sting her shrivelled hand.
One day, as she was cleaning her son's room, she opened a box that
stood in the corner, and was surprised to find it contain a package
done up in wrapping paper. She opened it with curiosity and the tears
sprang to her eyes as she saw the second-hand medical books George had
used at college. Here they were, in neat wrappers, laid by for ever.
Too precious to throw away, too articulate of unfulfilled ambitions to
stand exposed on shelves, they had been laid away in the grave of her
son's hopes. She did them up again with trembling fingers, and that
night when George returned to supper, he found his mother in the dark,
In the years from nineteen to forty-two most men have fulfilled
their destiny; those who have had within them the ability to rise
have risen; the weak, the wastrels, the mediocrities have shaken down
into their appointed places. Even the bummer has his own particular
bit of wall in front of the saloon and his own particular chair
within. Those who have something to do are busy doing it, whatever it
may be. In the human comedy everyone in time finds his role and must
play it to the end, happy indeed if he be cast in a part that at all
George Raymond at forty-two was still in the auditor's department
of the New York Central. Time had wrinkled his cheek, had turned his
brown hair to a crisp grey, had bowed his shoulders to the desk he had
used for twenty-two years. His eyes alone retained their boyish
brightness, and a sort of appealing look as of one who his whole life
long had been a dependent on other people. As an automaton, a mere cog
in a vast machine, he had won the praise of his superiors by his
complete self-effacement. He was never ill, never absent, never had
trouble with his subordinates, never talked back, never made
complaints, and, in the flattering language of the superintendent, "he
knew what he knew!"
In the office, as in every other aggregation of human beings,
there were coteries, cliques, friendships and hatreds, jealousies,
heart-burnings and vendettas. There was scarcely a man there without
friends or foes. Raymond alone had neither. To the others he was a
strange, silent, unknown creature whose very address was a matter of
conjecture; a man who did not drink, did not smoke, did not talk; who
ate four bananas for his lunch and invariably carried a book in the
pocket of his shabby coat. It was said of him that once, during a
terrible blizzard, he had been the only clerk to reach the office;
that he had worked there stark alone until one o'clock, when at the
stroke of the hour he had taken out his four bananas and his book!
There were other stories about him of the same kind, not all of them
true to fate, but essentially true of the man's nature and of his
rigid adherence to routine. He had risen, place by place, to a
position that gave him a hundred and fifty dollars a month, and one so
responsible that his death or absence would have dislocated the office
for half a day.
"A first-class man and an authority on pro ratas!"
Such might have been the inscription on George Raymond's tomb!
His mother was still alive. She had never entirely regained her
health or her strength, and it took all the little she had of either
to do the necessary housekeeping for herself and her son. Thin to
emaciation, sharp-tongued, a tyrant to her finger-tips, her
indomitable spirit remained as uncowed as ever and she ruled her son
with a rod of iron. To her, Georgie, as she always called him, was
still a child. As far as she was concerned he had never grown up. She
took his month's salary, told him when to buy new shirts, ordered his
clothes herself, doled out warningly the few dollars for his
necessaries, and saved, saved, continually saved. The old woman
dreaded poverty with a horror not to be expressed in words. It had
ruined her own life; it had crushed her son under its merciless
wheels; in the words of the proverb, she was the coward who died a
thousand deaths in the agonies of apprehension. She was one of those
not uncommon misers, who hoard, not for love of money, but through
fear. She had managed, with penurious thrift and a self-denial almost
sublime in its austerity, to set aside eight thousand dollars. Eight
thousand dollars from an income that began at sixty and rose to a
little under three times that amount! Eight thousand dollars, wrung
from their lives at the price of every joy, every alleviation,
everything that could make the world barely tolerable.
Every summer Raymond had a two-weeks' holiday, which he spent at
Middleborough with some relatives of his father's. He had the
pronounced love of the sea that is usual with those born and bred in
seaport towns. His earliest memories went back to great deep- water
ships, their jib-booms poking into the second-story windows of the
city front, their decks hoarsely melodious with the yo- heave-yo of
straining seamen. The smell of tar, the sight of enormous anchors
impending above the narrow street, the lofty masts piercing the sky in
a tangle of ropes and blocks, the exotic cargoes mountains high—all
moved him like a poem. He knew no pleasure like that of sailing his
cousin's sloop; he loved every plank of her dainty hull; it was to him
a privilege to lay his hand to any task appertaining to her, however
humble or hard. To calk, to paint, to polish brasswork; to pump out
bilge; to set up the rigging; to sit cross-legged and patch sails;
and, best of all, to put her lee rail under in a spanking breeze and
race her seaward against the mimic fleet—Ah, how swiftly those bright
days passed, how bitter was the parting and the return, all too soon,
to the dingy offices of the railroad.
It never occurred to him to think his own lot hard, or to contrast
himself with other men of his age, who at forty-two were mostly
substantial members of society, with interests, obligations,
responsibilities, to which he himself was an utter stranger. Under
the iron bondage of his mother he had remained a child. To displease
her seemed the worst thing that could befall him; to win her
commendation filled him with content. But there were times, guiltily
remembered and put by with shame, when he longed for something more
from life; when the sight of a beautiful woman on the street reminded
him of his own loneliness and isolation; when he was overcome with a
sudden surging sense that he was an outsider in the midst of these
teeming thousands, unloved and old, without friends or hope or future
to look forward to. He would reproach himself for such lawless
repining, for such disloyalty to his mother. Was not her case worse
than his? Did she not lecture him on the duty of cheerfulness, she the
invalid, racked with pains, with nerves, who practised so pitifully
what she preached? The tears would come to his eyes. No, he would not
ask the impossible; he would go his way, brave and uncomplaining, and
let the empty years roll over his head without a murmur against fate.
But the years, apparently so void, were screening a strange and
undreamed-of part for him to play. The Spaniards, a vague, almost
legendary people, as remote from Raymond's life as the Assamese or
the cliff-dwellers of New Mexico, began to take on a concrete
character, and were suddenly discovered to be the enemies of the
human race. Raymond grew accustomed to the sight of Cuban flags, at
first so unfamiliar, and then, later, so touching in their
significance. Newspaper pictures of Gomez and Garcia were tacked on
the homely walls of barber-shops, in railroad shops, in grubby offices
and cargo elevators, and with them savage caricatures of a person
called Weyler, and referring bitterly to other persons (who seemed in
a bad way) called the reconcentrados. Raymond wondered what it was all
about; bought books to elucidate the matter; took fire with
indignation and resentment. Then came the Maine affair; the suspense
of seventy million people eager to avenge their dead; the decision of
the court of inquiry; the emergency vote; the preparation for war.
Raymond watched it all with a curious detachment. He never realised
that it could have anything personally to do with him. The long days
in the auditor's department went on undisturbed for all that the
country was arming and the State governors were calling out their
quotas of men. Two of his associates quitted their desks and changed
their black coats for army blue. Raymond admired them; envied them;
but it never occurred to him to ask why they should go and he should
stay. It was natural for him to stay; it was inevitable; he was as
much a part of the office as the office floor.
One afternoon, going home on the Elevated, he overheard two men
"I don't know what we'll do," said one.
"Oh, there are lots of men," said the other.
"Men, yes—but no sailors," said the first.
"That's right," said the other.
"We are at our wits' end to man the new ships," said the first.
"What did you total up to-day?" said the other.
His companion shrugged his shoulders.
"Eighty applicants, and seven taken," he said.
"And those foreigners?"
"All but two!"
"There's danger in that kind of thing!"
"Yes, indeed, but what can you do?"
The words rang in Raymond's head. That night he hardly slept. He
was in the throes of making a tremendous resolution, he who, for
forty years, had been tied to his mother's apron string. Making it of
his own volition, unprompted, at the behest of no one save, perhaps,
the man in the car, asserting at last his manhood in defiance of the
subjection that had never come home to him until that moment. He rose
in the morning, pale and determined. He felt a hypocrite through and
through as his mother commented on his looks and grew anxious as he
pushed away his untasted breakfast. It came over him afresh how good
she was, how tender. He did not love her less because his great
purpose had been taken. He knew how she would suffer, and the thought
of it racked his heart; he was tempted to take her into his
confidence, but dared not, distrusting his own powers of resistance
were she to say no. So he kissed her instead, with greater warmth than
usual, and left the house with misty eyes.
He got an extension of the noon hour and hurried down to the naval
recruiting office. It was doing a brisk business in turning away
applicants, and from the bottom of the line Raymond was not kept
waiting long before he attained the top; and from thence in his turn
was led into an inner office. He was briefly examined as to his sea
experience. Could he box the compass? He could. Could he make a long
splice? He could. What was meant by the monkey-gaff of a full-rigged
ship? He told them. What was his reason in wanting to join the Navy?
Because he thought he'd like to do something for his country. Very
good; turn him over to the doctor; next! Then the doctor weighed him,
looked at his teeth, hit him in the chest, listened to his heart,
thumped and questioned him, and then passed him on to a third person
to be enrolled.
When George Raymond emerged into the open air it was as a full A B
in the service of the United States
This announcement at the office made an extraordinary sensation.
Men he hardly knew shook hands with him and clapped him on the back.
He was taken upstairs to be impressively informed that his position
would be held open for him. On every side he saw kindling faces,
smiling glances of approbation, the quick passing of the news in
whispers. He had suddenly risen from obscurity to become part of the
War; the heir of a wonderful and possibly tragic future; a patriot; a
hero! It was a bewildering experience and not without its charm. He
was surprised to find himself still the same man.
The scene at home was less enthusiastic. It was even mortifying,
and Georgie, as his mother invariably called him, had to endure a
storm of sarcasm and reproaches. The old woman's ardent patriotism
stopped short at giving up her son. It was the duty of others to
fight, Georgie's to stay at home with his mother. He let her talk
herself out, saying little, but regarding her with a grave, kind
obstinacy. Then she broke down, weeping and clinging to him. Somehow,
though he could hardly explain it to himself, the relation between the
two underwent a change. He left that house the unquestioned master of
himself, the acknowledged head of that tiny household; he had won, and
his victory instead of abating by a hair's-breadth his mother's love
for him had drawn the pair closer to each other than ever before.
Though she had no articulate conception of it Georgie had risen
enormously in his mother's respect. The woman had given way to the
man, and the eternal fitness of things had been vindicated.
Her tenderness and devotion were redoubled. Never had there been
such a son in the history of the world. She relaxed her economies in
order to buy him little delicacies, such as sardines and pickles; and
when soon after his enlistment his uniform came home she spread it on
her bed and cried, and then sank on her knees, passionately kissing
the coarse serge. In the limitation of her horizon she could see but a
single figure. It was Georgie's country, Georgie's President,
Georgie's fleet, Georgie's righteous quarrel in the cause of stifled
freedom. To her, it was Georgie's war with Spain.
He was drafted aboard the Dixie, where, within a week of his
joining, he was promoted to be one of the four quartermasters. So
much older than the majority of his comrades, quick, alert, obedient,
and responsible, he was naturally amongst the first chosen for what
are called leading seamen. Never was a man more in his element than
George Raymond. He shook down into naval life like one born to it. The
sea was in his blood, and his translation from the auditor's
department to the deck of a fighting ship seemed to him like one of
those happy dreams when one pinches himself to try and confirm the
impossible. Metaphorically speaking, he was always pinching himself
and contrasting the monotonous past with the glorious and animated
present. The change told in his manner, in the tilt of his head, in
his fearless eyes and straighter back. It comes natural to heroes to
protrude their chests and walk upon air; and it is pardonable, indeed,
in war time, when each feels himself responsible for a fraction of his
"Georgie, you are positively becoming handsome," said his mother.
Amongst Raymond's comrades on the Dixie was a youngster of twenty-
one, named Howard Quintan. Something attracted him in the boy, and he
went out of his way to make things smooth for him aboard. The liking
was no less cordially returned, and the two became fast friends. One
day, when they were both given liberty together, Howard insisted on
taking him to his own home.
"The folks want to know you," he said. "They naturally think a
heap of you because I do, and I've told them how good you've been and
"Oh, rubbish!" said Raymond, though he was inwardly pleased. At
the time they were walking up Fifth Avenue, both in uniform, with
their caps on one side, sailor fashion, and their wide trousers
flapping about their ankles. People looked at them kindly as they
passed, for the shadow of the war lay on everyone and all hearts went
out to the men who were to uphold the flag. Raymond was flattered and
yet somewhat overcome by the attention his companion and he excited.
"Let's get out of this, Quint," he said. "I can't walk straight
when people look at me like that. Don't you feel kind of givey- givey
at the knees with all those pretty girls loving us in advance?"
"Oh, that's what I like!" said Quintan. "I never got a glance when
I used to sport a silk hat. Besides, here we are at the old stand!"
Raymond regarded him with blank surprise as they turned aside and
up the steps of one of the houses.
"Land's sake!" he exclaimed; "you don't mean to say you live in a
place like this? Here?" he added, with an intonation that caused
Howard to burst out laughing.
The young fellow pushed by the footman that admitted them and ran
up the stairs three steps at a time. Raymond followed more slowly,
dazed by the splendour he saw about him, and feeling horribly
embarrassed and deserted. He halted on the stairs as he saw Quintan
throw his arms about a tall, stately, magnificently dressed woman and
kiss her boisterously; and he was in two minds whether or not to slink
down again and disappear, when his companion called out to him to
"Mother, this is Mr. Raymond," he said. "He's the best friend I
have on the Dixie, and you're to be awfully good to him!"
Mrs. Quintan graciously gave him her hand and said something about
his kindness to her boy. Raymond was too stricken to speak and was
thankful for the semi-darkness that hid his face. Mrs. Quintan
continued softly, in the same sweet and overpowering manner, to purr
her gratitude and try to put him at his ease. Raymond would have been
a happy man could he have sunk though the parquetry floor. He trembled
as he was led into the drawing-room, where another gracious and
overpowering creature rose to receive them.
"My aunt, Miss Christine Latimer," said Howard.
She was younger than Mrs. Quintan; a tall, fair woman of middle
age, with a fine figure, hair streaked with grey, and the remains of
what had once been extreme beauty. Her voice was the sweetest Raymond
had ever listened to, and his shyness and agitation wore off as she
began to speak to him. He was left a long while alone with her, for
Howard and his mother withdrew, excusing themselves on the score of
private matters. Christine Latimer was touched by the forlorn
quartermaster, who, in his nervousness, gripped his chair with
clenched hands and started when he was asked a question. She soon got
him past this stage of their acquaintance, and, leading him on by
gentle gradations to talk about himself, even learned his whole story,
and that in so unobtrusive a fashion that he was hardly aware of his
having told it to her.
"I am speaking to you as though I had known you all my life," he
said in an artless compliment. "I hope it is not very forward of me.
It is your fault for being so kind and good."
He was ecstatic when he left the house with Quintan.
"I didn't know there were such women in the world," he said. "So
noble, so winning and high-bred. It makes you understand history to
meet people like that. Mary Queen of Scots, Marie Antoinette and all
those, you know—they must have been like that. I—I could understand
a man dying for Miss Latimer!"
"Oh, she's all right, my aunt!" said Quintan. "She was a
tremendous beauty once, and even now she's what I'd call a devilish
handsome woman. And the grand manner, it isn't everybody that likes
it, but I do. It's a little old-fashioned nowadays, but, by Jove, it
"I wonder that such a splendid woman should have remained
unmarried," said Raymond. He stuck an instant on the word unmarried.
It seemed almost common to apply to such a princess.
"She had an early love affair that turned out badly," said
Quintan. "I don't know what went wrong, but anyway it didn't work.
Then, when my father died, she came to live with us and help bring us
up—you see there are two more of us in the family—and I am told she
refused some good matches just on account of us kids. It makes me feel
guilty sometimes to think of it."
"Why guilty?" asked Raymond.
"Because none of us were worth it, old chap," said Quintan.
"I'm sure she never thought so," observed Raymond.
"My aunt's rather an unusual woman," said Quintan. "She has
voluntarily played second fiddle all her life; and, between you and
me, you know, my mother's a bit of a tyrant, and not always easy to
get along with—so it wasn't so simple a game as it looks."
Raymond was shocked at this way of putting the matter.
"You mean she sacrificed the best years of her life for you," he
"Women are like that—good women," said Quintan. "Catch a man being
such a fool—looking at it generally, you know—me apart. She had a
tidy little fortune from her father, and might have had a yard of her
own to play in, but our little baby hands held her tight."
Raymond regarded his companion's hands. They were large and red,
and rough with the hard work on board the Dixie; regarded them
respectfully, almost with awe, for had they not restrained that
glorious being in the full tide of her youth and beauty!
"Now it's too late," said Quintan.
"What do you mean by too late?" asked the quartermaster.
"Well, she's passed forty," said Quintan. "The babies have grown
up, and the selfish beasts are striking out for themselves. Her
occupation's gone, and she's left plante la. Worse than that, my
mother, who never bothered two cents about us then, now loves us to
distraction. And, when all's said, you know, it's natural to like your
"Too bad!" ejaculated Raymond.
"I call it deuced hard luck," said Quintan. "My mother really
neglected us shamefully, and it was Aunt Christine who brought us up
and blew our noses and rubbed us with goose-grease when we had croup,
and all that kind of thing. Then, when we grew up, my mother suddenly
discovered her long-lost children and began to think a heap of
us—after having scamped the whole business for fifteen years—and my
aunt, who was the real nigger in the hedge, got kind of let out, you
Raymond did not see, and he was indignant, besides, at the
coarseness of his companion's expressions. So he walked along and
"And, as I said before, it's now too late," said Quintan.
"Too late for what?" demanded Raymond, who was deeply interested.
"For her to take up with anybody else," said Quintan. "To marry,
you know. She sacrificed all her opportunities for us; and now, in
the inevitable course of things, we are kind of abandoning her when
she is old and faded and lonely."
"I consider your aunt one of the most beautiful women in the
world," protested Raymond.
"But you can't put back the clock, old fellow," said Quintan.
"What has the world to offer to an old maid of forty-two? There she
is in the empty nest, and not her own nest at that, with all her
little nestlings flying over the hills and far away, and the genuine
mother-bird varying the monotony by occasionally pecking her eyes
Raymond did not know what to answer. He could not be so rude as to
make any reflection on Mrs. Quintan, though he was stirred with
resentment against her. This noble, angelic, saintly woman, who in
every gesture reminded him of dead queens and historic personages! It
went to his heart to think of her, bereft and lonely, in that splendid
house he had so lately quitted. He recognised, in the unmistakable
accord between him and her, the fellowship of a pair who, in different
ways and in different stations, had yet fought and suffered and
endured for what they judged their duty. Forty- two years old!
Singular coincidence, in itself almost a bond between them, that he,
too, was of an identical age. Forty-two! Why, it was called the prime
of life. He inhaled a deep breath of air; it was the prime of life;
until then no one had really begun to live!
"Why don't you say something?" said Quintan.
"I was just thinking how mistaken you were," returned Raymond.
"There must be hundreds of men who would be proud to win her
slightest regard; who, instead of considering her faded or old, would
choose her out of a thousand of younger women and would be happy for
ever if she would take—" He was going to say them, but that sounded
improper, and he changed it, at the cost of grammar, to "him."
Quintan laughed at his companion's vehemence, and the subject
passed and gave way to another about shrapnel. But he did not fail,
later on, to carry a humorous report of the conversation to his aunt.
"What have you been doing to my old quartermaster?" he said.
"Hasn't the poor fellow enough troubles as it is, without falling in
love with you! He can't talk of anything else, and blushes like a girl
when he mentions your name. He told me yesterday he was willing to die
for a woman like you."
"I think he's a dear, nice fellow," said Miss Latimer, "and if he
wants to love me he can. It will keep him out of mischief!"
Raymond saw a great deal of Miss Latimer in the month before they
sailed south. Quintan took him constantly to the house, where, in his
capacity of humble and devoted comrade, the tall quartermaster was
always welcome and made much of. Mrs. Quintan was alive to the value
of this attached follower, who might be trusted to guard her son in
the perils that lay before him. She treated him as a sort of
combination of valet, nurse, and poor relation, asking him all sorts
of intimate questions about Howard's socks and underclothing, and
holding him altogether responsible for the boy's welfare. Her tone was
one of anxious patronage, touching at times on a deeper emotion when
she often broke down and cried. The quartermaster was greatly moved by
her trust in him. The tears would come to his own eyes, and he would
try in his clumsy way to comfort her, promising that, so far as it lay
with him, Howard should return safe and sound. In his self-abnegation
it never occurred to him that his own life was as valuable as Howard
Quintan's. He acquiesced in the understanding that it was his
business to get Howard through the war unscratched, at whatever risk
or jeopardy to himself.
Those were wonderful days for him. To be an intimate of that
splendid household, to drive behind spanking bays with Miss Latimer
by his side, to take tea at the Waldorf with her and other semi-divine
beings—what a dazzling experience for the ex-clerk, whose lines so
recently had lain in such different places. Innately a gentleman, he
bore himself with dignity in this new position, with a fine simplicity
and self-effacement that was not lost on some of his friends. His
respect for them all was unbounded. For the mother, so majestic, so
awe-inspiring; for Howard, that handsome boy whose exuberant
Americanism was untouched by any feeling of caste; for Melton and
Hubert Henry, his brothers, those lordly striplings of a lordly race;
for Miss Latimer, who in his heart of hearts he dared not call
Christine, and who to him was the embodiment of everything adorable in
women. Yes, he loved her; confessed to himself that he loved her;
humbly and without hope, with no anticipation of anything more between
them, overcome indeed that his presumption should go thus far.
He did not attempt to hide his feelings for her, and though too
shy for any expression of it, and withheld besides by the utter
impossibility of such a suit, he betrayed himself to her in a
thousand artless ways. He asked for no higher happiness than to sit
by her side, looking into her face and listening to her mellow voice.
He was thrice happy were he privileged to touch her hand in passing a
teacup. Her gentleness and courtesy, her evident consideration, the
little peeps she gave him into a nature gracious and refined beyond
anything he had ever known, all transported him with unreasoning
delight. She, on her part, so accustomed to play a minor role herself
in her sister's household, was yet too much a woman not to like an
admirer of her own. She took more pains with her dress, looked at
herself more often in the glass than she had done in years. It was
laughable; it was absurd; and she joined as readily as anyone in the
mirth that Raymond's devotion excited in the family, but, deep down
within her, she was pleased. At the least it showed she had not grown
too old to make men love her; it was the vindication of the mounting
years; the time, then, had not yet come when she had ceased altogether
to count. She had lost her nephews, who were growing to be men; the
love she put by so readily when it was in her reach seemed now more
precious as she beheld her faded and diminished beauty, the
crow's-feet about her eyes, her hair turning from brown to grey. A
smothered voice within her said: "Why not?"
She analysed Raymond narrowly in the long tete-a-tetes they had
together. She drew him out, encouraging and pressing him to tell her
everything about himself. She was always apprehending a jarring note,
the inevitable sign of the man's coarser clay, of his commoner
upbringing, the clash of his caste on hers. But she was struck instead
by his inherent refinement, by his unformulated instincts of
well-doing and honour. He was hazy about the use of oyster-forks, had
never seen a finger-bowl, committed to her eyes a dozen little
solecisms which he hastened to correct by frankly asking her
assistance; but in the true essentials she never had to feel any shame
for him. Clumsy, grotesquely ignorant of the social amenities, he was
yet a gentleman.
The night before they were to sail, he came to say good-bye. The
war had at last begun in earnest; men were falling, and the Spaniards
were expected to make a desperate and bloody resistance. It was a
sobering moment for everyone, and, in all voices, however hard they
tried to make them brave and gay, there ran an undercurrent of
solemnity. Howard and Raymond were to be actors in that terrible drama
not yet played; stripped and powder-blackened at their guns, they were
perhaps doomed to go down with their ship and find their graves in the
Caribbean. Before them lay untold possibilities of wounds and
mutilation, of disease, suffering, and horror. What woman that knew
them could look on unmoved at the sight of these men, so grave and
earnest, so quietly resolute, so deprecatory of anything like
braggadocio or over-confidence? It filled Christine Latimer with a
fierce pride in herself and them; in a race that could breed men so
gentle and so brave; in a country that was founded so surely on the
devoted hearts of its citizens.
She was crying as Raymond came to her later on the same evening,
and found her sitting in the far end of the drawing-room with the
lights turned low. They were alone together, for the quartermaster
had left Howard with his mother and his brothers gathered in a
farewell group about the library fire. Miss Latimer took both of
Raymond's hands, and, with no attempt to disguise her sorrow, drew
him close beside her on the divan. She was overflowing with pity for
this poor fellow, whose life had been so hard, in which until now
there had neither been love nor friends, whose only human tie was to
his mother and to her. Had he known it, he might have put his arms
about her and kissed her tear-swollen eyes and drawn her head against
his breast. She was filled with a pent-up tenderness for him; a word,
and she would have discovered what was until then inarticulate in her
bosom. But the tall quartermaster was withheld from such incredible
presumption. Her beautiful gown against his common serge typified, as
it were, the gulf between them. Her distress, her agitation, were in
his mind due to her concern for Howard Quintan; and he told her again
and again, with manly sincerity, that he would take good care of her
She knew he loved her. It had been plain to her for weeks past.
She knew every thought in his head as he sat there beside her,
thrilled with the touch of her hands, and in the throes of a
respectful rapture. Again and again the avowal was on his lips; he
longed to tell her how dear she was to him; it would be hard to die
with that unsaid, were he to be amongst those who never returned. It
never occurred to him that she might return his love. A woman like
her! A queen!
She could easily have helped him out. More than once she was on
the point of doing so. But the woman in her rebelled at the thought
of taking what was the man's place. She had something of the
exaggerated delicacy of an old maid. It was for him to ask, for her to
answer; and the precious moments slipped away. At last, greatly
daring, he managed to blurt out the fact that he wanted to ask a
"A favour?" she said.
"Won't you give me something," he said timidly, "some little thing
to take with me to remember you by?"
She replied she would with pleasure. She wanted him to remember
her. What was it that he would like?
"There is nothing I could refuse you," she said, smiling.
Raymond was overcome with embarrassment. She saw him looking at
her hair; her hair which was her greatest beauty, and which when
undone was luxuriant enough to reach below her waist. He had often
expressed his admiration for it.
"What would you like?" she asked again.
"Oh, anything," he faltered. "A—a book!"
She could not restrain her laughter. A book! She laughed and
laughed. She seemed carried away by an extraordinary merriment.
Raymond thought he had never heard a woman laugh like that before. It
made him feel very badly. He wondered what it was that had made his
request so ridiculous. He thanked his stars that he had held his
tongue about the other thing. Ah, what a fool he had been! He could
not have borne it, had the other been received with the same derision.
"I shall give you my prayer-book," she said at last, wiping her
eyes and looking less amused than he had expected. "I've had it many
years and value it dearly. It is prettily bound in Russia, and if you
carry it on the proper place romance will see that it stops a
bullet—though a Bible, I believe, is the more correct."
Somehow her tone sounded less cordial. She had withdrawn her
hands, and her humour, at such a moment, jarred on him. In spite of
his good resolutions he had managed to put his foot into it after all.
Perhaps she had begun to suspect his secret and was displeased. He
departed feeling utterly wretched and out of heart, and got very scant
comfort from his book, for it only reminded him of how seriously he
had compromised himself. He was in two minds whether or not to send it
back, but decided not to do so in fear lest he might give fresh
offence. The next day at dawn the Dixie sailed for the scene of war.
Then followed the historic days of the blockade; the first landing
on Cuba; the suspense and triumph attending Cervera's capture; El
Caney; San Juan Hill; Santiago; and the end of the war. Howard
Quintan fell ill with fever and was early invalided home; but Raymond
stayed to the finish, an obscure spectator, often an obscure actor, in
that world-drama of fleets and armies. Tried in the fire, his
character underwent some noted changes. He developed unexpected
aptitudes, became a marksman of big guns, showed resource and skill in
boat-work, earned the repeated commendations of his superiors. He put
his resolutions to the test, and emerged, surprised, thankful, and
satisfied, to find that he was a brave man. He rose in his own esteem;
it was borne in on him that he had qualities that others often lacked;
it was inspiriting to win a reputation for daring, fearlessness, and
He wrote when he could to his mother and Miss Latimer, and at rare
intervals was sometimes fortunate enough to hear in turn from them.
His mother was ill; the strain of his absence and danger was telling
on her enfeebled constitution; she said she could not have got along
at all had it not been for Miss Latimer's great kindness. It seemed
that the old maid was her constant visitor, bringing her flowers,
taking her drives, comforting her in the dark hours when her courage
was nigh spent. "A good and noble woman," wrote the old lady, "and
very much in love with my boy."
That line rang in Raymond's head long afterwards. He read it again
and again, bewildered, tempted and yet afraid to believe it true,
moved to the depths of his nature, at once happy and unhappy in the
gamut of his doubts. It could not be possible. No, it could not be
possible. Standing at the breech of his gun, his eyes on a Spanish
gunboat they had driven under the shelter of a fort, he found himself
repeating: "And very much in love with my boy. And very much in love
with my boy." And then, suddenly becoming intent again on the matter
in hand, he slammed the breech-mechanism shut and gave the enemy a
Then there came the news of his mother's death. As much a victim
of the war as any stricken soldier or sailor at the front, she was
numbered on the roll of the fallen. The war had killed her as
certainly, as surely, as any Mauser bullet sped from a tropic
thicket. Raymond had only the consolation of knowing that Miss
Latimer had been with her at the last and that she had followed his
mother to the grave. Her letter, tender and pitiful, filled him with
an inexpressible emotion. His little world now held but her.
This was the last letter he was destined to receive from her. The
others, if there were others, all went astray in the chaotic
confusion attendant on active service. The poor quartermaster, when
the ship was so lucky as to take a mail aboard, grew accustomed to be
told that there was nothing for him. He lost heart and stopped writing
himself. What was the use, he asked himself? Had she not abandoned
him? The critical days of the war were over; peace was assured; the
victory won, the country was already growing forgetful of the victors.
Such were his moody reflections as he paced the deck, hungry for the
word that never came. Yes, he was forgotten. There could be no other
explanation of that long silence. He was forgotten!
He returned in due course to New York and was paid off and
mustered out of the service. It was dusk when he boarded an uptown
car and stood holding to a strap, jostled and pushed about by the
unheeding crowd. Already jealous of his uniform, he felt a little
bitterness to see it regarded with such scant respect. He looked out
of the windows at the lighted streets and wondered whether any of
those hurrying thousands cared a jot for the men that had fought and
died for them. The air, so sharp and chill after the tropics, served
still further to dispirit him and add the concluding note of
depression to his home-coming. He got off the car and walked down to
Fifth Avenue, holding his breath as he drew near the Quintans' house.
He rang the bell: waited and rang again. Then at last the door was
unlocked and opened by an old woman.
"Is Miss—Mrs. Quintan at home?" he asked.
"Gone to Europe," said the old woman.
"But Miss Latimer?" he persisted.
"Gone to Europe," said the old woman.
"Mr. Howard Quintan?"
"Gone to Europe!"
He walked slowly down the steps, not even waiting to ask for their
address abroad nor when they might be expected to return. They had
faded into the immeasurable distance. What more was there to be said
or hoped, and his dejected heart gave back the answer: nothing. He
slept that night in a cheap hotel. The next day he bought a suit of
civilian clothes and sought the office of the auditor's department.
Here he received something more like a welcome. Many of the clerks,
with whom he had scarcely been on nodding terms, now came up and shook
him warmly by the hand. The superintendent sent for him and told him
that his place had been held open, hinting, in the exuberance of the
moment, at a slight increase of salary. The assistant superintendent
made much of him and invited him out to lunch. The old darkey
door-keeper greeted him like a long-lost parent. Raymond went back to
his desk, and resumed with a sort of melancholy satisfaction the
interrupted routine of twenty years. In a week he could hardly believe
he had ever quitted his desk. He would shut his eyes and wonder
whether the war had not been all a dream. He looked at his hands and
asked himself whether they indeed had pulled the lanyards of cannon,
lifted loaded projectiles, had held the spokes of the leaping wheel.
His eyes, now intent on figures, had they in truth ever searched the
manned decks of the enemy or trained the sights that had blown Spanish
blockhouses to the four winds of heaven? Had it been he or his ghost
who had stood behind the Nordenfeldt shields with the bullets
pattering against the steel and stinging the air overhead? He or his
ghost, barefoot in the sand that sopped the blood of fallen comrades,
the ship shaking with the detonation of her guns, the hoarse cheering
of her crew re-echoing in his half- deafened ears? A dream, yes;
tragic and wonderful in the retrospect, filled with wild, bright
pictures; incredible, yet true!
He was restless and lonely. He dreaded his evenings, which he knew
not how to spend; dreaded the recurring Sunday, interminable in
duration, whose leaden hours seemed never to reach their end. His
only solace was in his work, which took him out of himself and
prevented him from thinking. He made a weekly pilgrimage past the
Quintans' house. The blinds were always drawn. It was as dead as one
of those Cuban mills, standing in the desolation of burned fields.
Once, greatly daring, and impelled by a sudden impulse, he went to the
door and requested the address of his vanished friends:
"Grand Hotel, Vevey, Switzerland." He repeated the words to
himself as he went back to his boarding-house, repeated them again
and again like a child going on an errand, "Grand Hotel, Vevey,
Switzerland," in a sort of panic lest he might forget them. He tossed
that night in his bed in a torment of indecision. Ought he to write?
Ought he to take the risk of a reply, courteous and cold, that he felt
himself without the courage to endure? Or was it not better to put an
end to it altogether and accept like a man the inevitable "no" of her
He rose at dawn, and, lighting the gas, went back to bed with what
paper he could lay his hands on. He had no pen, no ink, only the stub
of a pencil he carried in his pocket. How it flew over the ragged
sheets under the fierce spell of his determination! All the misery and
longing of months went out in that letter. Inarticulate no longer, he
found the expression of a passionate and despairing eloquence. He
could not live without her; he loved her; he had always loved her;
before he had been daunted by the inequality between them, but now he
must speak or die. At the end he asked her, in set old-fashioned
terms, whether or not she would marry him.
He mailed it as it was, in odd sheets and under the cover of an
official envelope of the railroad company. He dropped it into the box
and walked away, wondering whether he wasn't the biggest fool on earth
and the most audacious, and yet stirred and trembling with a strange
satisfaction. After all he was a man; he had lived as a man should,
honorably and straightforwardly; he had the right to ask such a
question of any woman and the right to an honest and considerate
answer. Be it yes or no, he could reproach himself no longer with
perhaps having let his happiness slip past him. The matter would be
put beyond a doubt for ever, and if it went against him, as in the
bottom of his heart he felt assured it would, he would try to bear it
with what fortitude he might. She would know that he loved her. There
was always that to comfort him. She would know that he loved her.
He got a postal guide and studied out the mails. He learned the
names of the various steamers, the date of their sailing and
arriving, the distance of Vevey from the sea. Were she to write on
the same day she received his letter, he might hear from her by the
Touraine. Were she to wait a day, her answer would be delayed for the
Normandie. All this, if the schedule was followed to the letter and
bad weather or accident did not intervene. The shipping page of the
New York Herald became the only part of it he read. He scanned it
daily with anxiety. Did it not tell him of his letter speeding over
seas? For him no news was good news, telling him that all was well. He
kept himself informed of the temperature of Paris, the temperature of
Nice, and worried over the floods in Belgium. From the gloomy offices
of the railroad he held all Europe under the closest scrutiny.
Then came the time when his letter was calculated to arrive. In
his mind's eye he saw the Grand Hotel at Vevey, a Waldorf-Astoria set
in snowy mountains with attendant Swiss yodelling on inaccessible
summits, or getting marvels of melody out of little hand-bells, or
making cuckoo clocks in top-swollen chalets. The letter would be
brought to her on a silver salver, exciting perhaps the stately
curiosity of Mrs. Quintan and questions embarrassing to answer. It was
a pity he used that railroad envelope! Or would it lie beside her
plate at breakfast, as clumsy and unrefined as himself, amid a heap of
scented notes from members of the nobility? Ah, if he could but see
her face and read his fate in her blue eyes!
When he returned home that night there was a singular-looking
telegram awaiting him on the hall table. His hands shook as he took
it up for it suddenly came over him that it was a cable. It had never
occurred to him that she might do that; that there was anything more
expeditious than the mail.
"Sailing by Touraine arriving sixth Christine Latimer."
He read and re-read it until the type grew blurred. What did it
mean? He asked himself that a thousand times. What did it mean? He
sought his room and locked the door, striding up and down with
agitation, the cablegram clenched in his hand. He was beside himself,
triumphant and yet in a fever of misgiving. Was it not perhaps a
coincidence—not an answer to his own letter, but one of those
extraordinary instances of what is called telepathy? Her words would
bear either interpretation. Possibly the whole family was returning
with her. Possibly she had never seen his letter at all. Possibly it
was following her back to America, unopened and undelivered.
"Sailing by Touraine arriving sixth." Was that an answer? Perhaps
indeed it was. Perhaps it was a woman's way of saying "yes"; it might
even be, in her surpassing kindness, that she was coming to break her
refusal as gently as she might, too considerate of his feelings to
write it baldly on paper. At least, amid all these doubts, it assured
him of one thing, her regard; that he was not forgotten; that he had
been mistaken in thinking himself ignored.
He spent the next eight days in a cruel and heart-breaking
suspense. He could hardly eat or sleep. He grew thin and started at a
sound. He paid a dollar to have the Touraine's arrival telegraphed to
the office; another dollar to have it telegraphed to the
boarding-house; he was fearful that one or the other might miscarry,
and repeatedly warned the landlady of a possible message for him in
the middle of the night.
"It means a great deal to me," he said. "It means everything to
me. I don't know what I'd do if I missed the Touraine!"
Of course he did not miss the Touraine. He was on the wharf hours
before her coming. He exasperated everyone with his questions. He was
turned out of all kinds of barriers; he earned the distrust of the
detectives; he became a marked man. He was certainly there for no
good, that tall guy in the slouch hat, his lean hands fidgeting for a
surreptitious pearl-necklace or an innocent-looking umbrella full of
diamonds—one who, in their language, was a guy that would bear
The steamer came alongside, and Raymond gazed up at the tier upon
tier of faces. At length, with a catch in his heart, he caught sight
of Miss Latimer, who smiled and waved her hand to him. He scanned her
narrowly for an answer to his doubts; and these increased the more he
gazed at her. It seemed a bad sign to see her so calm, so composed;
worse still to see her occasionally in animated conversation with some
of her fellow-passengers. He thought her smiles had even a perfunctory
friendliness, and he had to share them besides with others. It was
plain she had never received his letter. No woman could bear herself
like that who had received such a letter. Then too she appeared so
handsome, so high-bred, so charming and noticeable a figure in the
little company about her that Raymond felt a peremptory sense of his
own humbleness and of the impassable void between them. How had he
ever dared aspire to this beautiful woman, and the thought of his
effrontery took him by the throat.
He stood by the gangway as the passengers came off, an
interminable throng, slow moving, teetering on the slats, a gush of
funnelled humanity, hampered with bags, hat-boxes, rolls of rugs,
dressing-cases, golf-sticks, and children. At last Miss Latimer was
carried into the eddy, her maid behind her carrying her things, lost
to view save by the bright feather in her travelling bonnet. The
seconds were like hours as Raymond waited. He had a peep of her,
smiling and patient, talking over her shoulder to a big Englishman
behind her. Then, as the slow stream brought her down, she stepped
lightly on the wharf, turned to Raymond, and, before he could so much
as stammer out a word, flung her arms round his neck and kissed him.
"Did you really want me?" she said; and then, "You gave me but two
hours to catch the old Touraine!"