The Rich Mrs. Burgoyne
by Kathleen Norris
TO KATHLEEN MARY THOMPSON
Lover of books, who never fails to find
Some good in every book, your namesake sends
This book to you, knowing you always kind
To small things, timid and in need of friends.
O friend! I know not which way I must look
For comfort, being, as I am, opprest,
To think that now our life is only drest
For show; mean handy-work of craftsman, cook,
Or groom!—We must run glittering like a brook
In the open sunshine, or we are unblest;
The wealthiest man among us is the best:
No grandeur now in nature or in book
Delights us. Rapine, avarice, expense,
This is idolatry; and these we adore:
Plain living and high thinking are no more:
The homely beauty of the good old cause
Is gone; our peace, our fearful innocence.
And pure religion breathing household laws.
"Annie, what are you doing? Polishing the ramekins? Oh, that's
right. Did the extra ramekins come from Mrs. Brown? Didn't! Then as
soon as the children come back I'll send for them; I wish you'd
remind me. Did Mrs. Binney come? and Lizzie? Oh, that's good. Where
are they? Down in the cellar! Oh, did the extra ice come? Will you
find out, Annie? Those can wait. If it didn't, the mousse is ruined,
that's all! No, wait, Annie, I'll go out and see Celia myself."
Little Mrs. George Carew, flushed and excited, crossed the pantry
as she spoke, and pushed open the swinging door that connected it with
the kitchen. She was a pretty woman, even now when her hair, already
dressed, was hidden under snugly pinned veils and her trim little
figure lost under a flying kimono. Mrs. Carew was expecting the
twenty-eight members of the Santa Paloma Bridge Club on this
particular evening, and now, at three o'clock on a beautiful April
afternoon, she was almost frantic with fatigue and nervousness. The
house had been cleaned thoroughly the day before, rugs shaken,
mirrors polished, floors oiled; the grand piano had been closed, and
pushed against the wall; the reading-table had been cleared, and
wheeled out under the turn of the stairway; the pretty drawing-room
and square big entrance hall had been emptied to make room for the
seven little card-tables that were already set up, and for the
twenty-eight straight-back chairs that Mrs. Carew had collected from
the dining-room, the bedrooms, the halls, and even the nursery, for
the occasion. All this had been done the day before, and Mrs. Carew,
awakening early in the morning to uneasy anticipations of a full day,
had yet felt that the main work of preparation was out of the way.
But now, in mid-afternoon, nothing seemed done. There were flowers
still to arrange; there was the mild punch that Santa Paloma affected
at card parties to be finished; there was candy to be put about on the
tables, in little silver dishes; and new packs of cards, and pencils
and score-cards to be scattered about. And in the kitchen—But Mrs.
Carew's heart failed at the thought. True, her own two maids were
being helped out to-day by Mrs. Binney from the village, a tower of
strength in an emergency, and by Lizzie Binney, a worthy daughter of
her mother; but there had been so many stupid delays. And plates, and
glasses, and punch-cups, and silver, and napkins for twenty-eight
meant such a lot of counting and sorting and polishing! And somehow
George and the children must have dinner, and the Binneys and Celia
and Annie must eat, too.
"Well," thought Mrs. Carew, with a desperate glance at the kitchen
clock, "it will all be over pretty soon, thank goodness!"
A pleasant stir of preparation pervaded the kitchen. Mrs. Binney,
enormous, good-natured, capable, was opening crabs at one end of the
table, her sleeves rolled up, and her gingham dress, in the last
stage of age and thinness, protected by a new stiff white apron;
Celia, Mrs. Carew's cook, was sitting opposite her, dismembering two
cold roasted fowls; Lizzie Binney, as trim and pretty as her mother
was shapeless and plain, was filling silver bonbon-dishes with salted
"How is everything going, Celia?" said Mrs. Carew, sampling a nut.
"Fine," said Celia placidly. "He didn't bring but two bunches of
sullery, so I don't know will I have enough for the salad. They sent
the cherries. And Mrs. Binney wants you should taste the punch."
"It's sweet now," said Mrs. Binney, as Mrs. Carew picked up the big
mixing-spoon, "but there's the ice to go in."
"Delicious! not one bit too sweet," Mrs. Carew pronounced. "You
know that's to be passed around in the little glasses, Lizzie, while
we're playing; and a cherry and a piece of pineapple in every glass.
Did Annie find the doilies for the big trays? Yes. I got the bowl
down; Annie's going to wash it. Oh, the cakes came, didn't they?
That's good. And the cream for coffee; that ought to go right on ice.
I'll telephone for more celery."
"There's some of these napkins so mussed, laying in the drawer,"
said Lizzie, "I thought I'd put a couple of irons on and press them
"If you have time, I wish you would," Mrs. Carew said, touching the
frosted top of an angel-cake with a tentative finger. "I may have to
play to-night, Celia," she went on, to her own cook, "but you girls
can manage everything, can't you? Dinner really doesn't matter—
scrambled eggs and baked potatoes, something like that, and you'll
have to serve it on the side porch."
"Oh, yes'm, we'll manage!" Celia assured her confidently. "We'll
clear up here pretty soon, and then there's nothing but the
sandwiches to do."
Mrs. Carew went on her way comforted. Celia was not a fancy cook,
she reflected, passing through the darkened dining-room, where the
long table had been already set with a shining cloth, and where
silver and glass gleamed in the darkness, but Celia was reliable. And
for a woman with three children, a large house, and but one other
maid, Celia was a treasure.
She telephoned the grocer, her eyes roving critically over the hall
as she did so. The buttercups, in a great bowl on the table, were
already dropping their varnished yellow leaves; Annie must brush
those up the very last thing.
"So far, so good!" said Mrs. Carew, straightening the rug at the
door with a small heel and dropping wearily into a porch rocker.
"There must be one thousand things I ought to be doing," she said,
resting her head and shutting her eyes.
It was a warm, delicious afternoon. The little California town lay
asleep under a haze of golden sunshine. The Carews' pretty house,
with its lawn and garden, was almost the last on River Street, and
stood on the slope of a hill that commanded all Santa Paloma Valley.
Below it, the wide tree-shaded street descended between other
unfenced lawns and other handsome homes.
This was the aristocratic part of the town. The Willard Whites'
immense colonial mansion was here; and the Whites, rich, handsome,
childless, clever, and nearing the forties, were quite the most
prominent people of Santa Paloma. The Wayne Adamses, charming,
extravagant young people, lived near; and the Parker Lloyds, who were
suspected of hiding rather serious money troubles under their reckless
hospitality and unfailing gaiety, were just across the street. On
River Street, too, lived dignified, aristocratic old Mrs. Apostleman
and nervous, timid Anne Pratt and her brother Walter, whose gloomy,
stately old mansion was one of the finest in town. Up at the end of
the street were the Carews, and the shabby comfortable home of Dr. and
Mrs. Brown, and the neglected white cottage where Barry Valentine and
his little son Billy and a studious young Japanese servant led a
rather shiftless existence. And although there were other pretty
streets in town, and other pleasant well-to- do women who were members
of church and club, River Street was unquestionably THE street, and
its residents unquestionably THE people of Santa Paloma.
Beyond these homes lay the business part of the town, the railway
station, and post-office, the library, and the women's clubhouse,
with its red geraniums, red-tiled roof, and plaster arches.
And beyond again were blocks of business buildings, handsome and
modern, with metal-sheathed elevators, and tiled vestibules, and
heavy, plate-glass windows on the street. There was a drug store
quite modern enough to be facing upon Forty-second Street and
Broadway, instead of the tree-shaded peace of Santa Paloma's main
street. At its cool and glittering fountain indeed, a hundred drinks
could be mixed of which Broadway never even heard. And on Broadway,
three thousand miles away, the women who shopped were buying the same
boxed powders, the same bottled toilet waters, the same patented soaps
and brushes and candies that were to be found here. And in the immense
grocery store nearby there were beautifully spacious departments
worthy of any great city, devoted to rare fruits, and coffees and
teas, and every pickle that ever came in a glass bottle, and every
little spiced fish that ever came in a gay tin. A white-clad young man
"demonstrated" a cake-mixer, a blue-clad young woman "demonstrated"
Nearby were the one or two big dry-goods stores, with lovely gowns
in their windows, and milliners' shops, with French hats in their
smart Paris boxes—there was even a very tiny, very elegant little
shop where pastes and powders and shampooing were the attraction; a
shop that had a French name "et Cie" over the door.
In short, there were modern women, and rich women, in Santa Paloma,
as these things unmistakably indicated. Where sixty years ago there
had been but a lonely outpost on a Spanish sheep-ranch, and where
thirty years after that there was only a "general store" at a
crossroads, now every luxury in the world might be had for the
All this part of the town lay northeast of the sleepy little Lobos
River, which cut Santa Paloma in two. It was a pretty river, a
boiling yellow torrent in winter, but low enough in the summer-time
for the children to wade across the shallows, and shaded all along
its course by overhanging maples, and willows, and oaktrees, and an
undergrowth of wild currant and hazel bushes and blackberry vines.
Across the river was Old Paloma, where dust from the cannery chimneys
and soot from the railway sheds powdered an ugly shabby settlement of
shanties and cheap lodging-houses. Old Paloma was peppered thick with
saloons, and flavored by them, and by the odor of frying grease, and
by an ashy waste known as the "dump." Over all other odors lay the
sweet, cloying smell of crushed grapes from the winery and the pungent
odor from the tannery of White Company. The men, and boys, and girls
of the settlement all worked in one or another of these places, and
the women gossiped in their untidy doorways. Above the Carew house
and Doctor Brown's, opposite, River Street came perforce to an end,
for it was crossed at this point by an old-fashioned wooden fence of
slender, rounded pickets. In the middle of the fence was a wide
carriage gate, with a smaller gate for foot passengers at each side,
and beyond it the shabby, neglected garden and the tangle of pepper,
and eucalyptus, and weeping willow trees that half hid the old Holly
mansion. Once this had been the great house of the village, but now it
was empty and forlorn. Captain Holly had been dead for five or six
years, and the last of the sons and daughters had gone away into the
world. The house, furnished just as they had left it, was for sale,
but the years went by, and no buyer appeared; and meantime the garden
flowers ran wild, the lawns were dry and brown, and the fence was
smothered in coarse rose vines and rampant wild blackberry vines. Dry
grass and yarrow and hollow milkweed grew high in the gateways, and
when the village children went through them to prowl, as children love
to prowl, about the neglected house and orchard, they left long, dusty
wakes in the crushed weeds. Further up than the children usually
ventured, there was an old bridge across the Lobos, Captain Holly's
private road to the mill town; but it was boarded across now, and
hundreds of chipmunks nested in it, and whisked about it undisturbed.
The great stables and barns stood empty; the fountains were long gone
dry. Only the orchard continued to bear heavily.
The Holly estate ran up into the hill behind it, one of the wooded
foothills that encircled all Santa Paloma, as they encircle so many
California towns. Already turning brown, and crowned with dense, low
groves of oak, and bay, and madrona trees, they shut off the world
outside; although sometimes on a still day the solemn booming of the
ocean could be heard beyond them, and a hundred times a year the
Pacific fogs came creeping over them long before dawn, and Santa
Paloma awakened in an enveloping cloud of soft mist. Here and there
the slopes of these hills were checkered with the sharp oblongs and
angles of young vineyards, and hidden by the thickening green of
peach and apple orchards. A few low, brown dairy ranch-houses were
perched high on the ridges; the red-brown moving stream of the cattle
home-coming in mid-afternoon could be seen from the village on a clear
day. And over hill and valley, on this wonderful afternoon in late
spring, the most generous sunlight in the world lay warm and golden,
and across them the shadows of high clouds—for there had been rain in
the night—traveled slowly.
"I declare," said little Mrs. Carew lazily, "I could go to sleep!"
A moment later when a tall man came up the path and dropped on the
top porch step with an air of being entirely at home, Mrs. Carew was
still dreaming, half-awake and half-asleep.
"Hello, Jeanette!" said the newcomer. "What's new with thee, coz?"
"Don't smoke there, Barry, and get things mussy!" said Mrs. Carew
in return, smiling to soften the command, and to show Barry Valentine
that he was welcome.
Barry was usually welcome everywhere, although not at all approved
in many cases, and criticised even by the people who liked him best.
He was a sort of fourth cousin of Mrs. Carew, who sometimes felt
herself called to the difficult task of defending him because of the
distant kinship. He was very handsome, lean, and dark, with a sleepy
smile and with eyes that all children loved; and he was clever, or,
at least, everyone believed him to be so; and he had charm—a charm
of sheer sweetness, for he never seemed to be particularly anxious to
please. Barry was very gallant, in an impersonal sort of way: he took
a keen, elder-brotherly sort of interest in every pretty girl in the
village, and liked to discuss their own love affairs with them, with a
seriousness quite paternal. He never singled any girl out for
particular attention, or escorted one unless asked, but he was
flatteringly attentive to all the middle-aged people of his
acquaintance and his big helpful hand was always ready for stumbling
old women on the church steps, or tearful waifs in the street—he
always had time to listen to other people's troubles. Barry—
everyone admitted—had his points. But after all—
After all, he was lazy, and shiftless, and unambitious: he was
content to be assistant editor of the Mail; content to be bullied and
belittled by old Rogers; content to go on his own idle, sunny way,
playing with his small, chubby son, foraging the woods with a dozen
small boys at his heels, working patiently over a broken gopher-trap
or a rusty shotgun, for some small admirer. Worst of all, Barry had
been intemperate, years ago, and there were people who believed that
his occasional visits to San Francisco, now, were merely excuses for
revels with his old newspaper friends there.
And yet, he had been such a brilliant, such a fiery and ambitious
boy! All Santa Paloma had taken pride in the fact that Barry
Valentine, only twenty, had been offered the editorship of the one
newspaper of Plumas, a little town some twelve miles away, and had
prophesied a triumphant progress for him, to the newspapers of San
Francisco, of Chicago, of New York! But Barry had not been long in
Plumas when he suddenly married Miss Hetty Scott of that town, and in
the twelve years that had passed since then the golden dreams for his
future had vanished one by one, until to-day found him with no one to
believe in him—not even himself.
Hetty Scott was but seventeen when Barry met her, and already the
winner in two village contests for beauty and popularity. After their
marriage she and Barry went to San Francisco, and shrewd, little,
beautiful Hetty found herself more admired than ever, and began to
talk of the stage. After that, Santa Paloma heard only occasional
rumors: Barry had a position on a New York paper, and Hetty was
studying in a dramatic school; there was a baby; there were financial
troubles, and Barry was drinking again; then Hetty was dead, and
Barry, fearing the severe eastern winters for the delicate baby, was
coming back to Santa Paloma. So back they came, and there had been no
indication since, that the restless, ambitious Barry of years ago was
not dead forever.
"No smoking?" said Barry now, good-naturedly. "That's so; you've
got some sort of 'High Jinks' on for to-night, haven't you? I brought
up those hinges for your mixing table, Jen," he went on, "but any time
will do. I suppose the kitchen is right on the fault, as it were."
"The kitchen DOES look earthquakey," admitted Mrs. Carew with a
laugh, "but the girls would be glad to have the extra table; so go
right ahead. I'll take you out in a second. I have been on the GO,"
she added wearily, "since seven this morning: my feet are like balls
of fire. You don't know what the details are. Why, just tying up the
prizes takes a good HOUR!"
"Anything go wrong?" asked the man sympathetically.
"Oh, no; nothing particular. But you know how a house has to LOOK!
Even the bathrooms, and our room, and the spare room—the children do
get things so mussed. It all sounds so simple; but it takes such a
"Well, Annie—doesn't she do these things?"
"Oh, ordinarily she does! But she was sweeping all morning, we
moved things about so last night, and there was china, and glasses to
get down, and the porches—"
"But, Jeanette," said Barry Valentine patiently, "don't you keep
this house clean enough ordinarily without these orgies of cleaning
the minute anybody comes in? I never knew such a house for women to
open windows, and tie up curtains, and put towels over their hair,
and run around with buckets of cold suds. Why this extra fuss?"
"Well, it's not all cleaning," said Mrs. Carew, a little annoyed.
"It's largely supper; and I'm not giving anything LIKE the suppers
Mrs. White and Mrs. Adams give."
"Why don't they eat at home?" said Mr. Valentine hospitably. "What
do they come for anyway? To see the house or each other's clothes, or
to eat? Women are funny at a card party," he went on, always ready to
expand an argument comfortably. "It takes them an hour to settle down
and see how everyone else looks, and whether there happens to be a
streak of dust under the piano; and then when the game is just well
started, a maid is nudging you in the elbow to take a plate of hot
chicken, and another, on the other side, is holding out sandwiches,
and all the women are running to look at the prizes. Now when men play
"Oh, Barry, don't get started!" his cousin impatiently implored.
"I'm too tired to listen. Come out and fix the table."
"Wish I could really help you," said Barry, as they crossed the
hall; and as a further attempt to soothe her ruffled feelings, he
added amiably, "The place looks fine. The buttercups came up, didn't
"Beautifully! You were a dear to get them," said Mrs. Carew, quite
Welcomed openly by all four maids, Barry was soon contentedly busy
with screws and molding-board, in a corner of the sunny kitchen. He
and Mrs. Binney immediately entered upon a spirited discussion of
equal suffrage, to the intense amusement of the others, who kept him
supplied with sandwiches, cake and various other dainties. The little
piece of work was presently finished to the entire satisfaction of
everyone, and Barry had pocketed his tools, and was ready to go, when
Mrs. Carew returned to the kitchen wide-eyed with news.
"Barry," said she, closing the door behind her, "George is here!"
"Well, George has a right here," said Barry, as the lady cast a
cautious glance over her shoulder.
"But listen," his cousin said excitedly; "he thinks he has sold the
"Gee whiz!" said Barry simply.
"To a Mrs. Burgoyne," rushed on Mrs. Carew. "She's out there with
George on the porch now; a widow, with two children, and she looks so
sweet. She knows the Hollys. Oh, Barry, if she only takes it; such a
dandy commission for George! He's terribly excited himself. I can tell
by the calm, bored way she's talking about it."
"Who is she? Where'd she come from?" demanded Barry.
"From New York. Her father died last year, in Washington, I think
she said, and she wants to live quietly somewhere with the children.
Barry, will you be an angel?"
"Eventually, I hope to," said Mr. Valentine, grinning, but she did
not hear him.
"Could you, WOULD you, take her over the place this afternoon,
Barry? She seems sure she wants it, and George feels he must get back
to the office to see Tilden. You know he's going to sign for a whole
floor of the Pratt Building to-day. George can't keep Tilden waiting,
and it won't be a bit hard for you, Barry. George says to promise her
anything. She just wants to see about bathrooms, and so on. Will you,
"Sure I will," said the obliging Barry. And when Mrs. Carew asked
him if he would like to go upstairs and brush up a little, he
accepted the delicate reflection upon the state of his hair and
hands, and said "sure" again.
Mrs. Burgoyne was a sweet-faced, fresh-looking woman about thirty-
two or-three years old, with a quick smile, like a child's, and blue
eyes, set far apart, with a little lift at the corners, that, under
level heavy brows, gave a suggestion of something almost Oriental to
her face. She was dressed simply in black, and a transparent black
veil, falling from her wide hat and flung back, framed her face most
becomingly in square crisp folds.
She and Barry presently walked up River Street in the mellow
afternoon sunlight, and through the old wooden gates of the Holly
grounds. On every side were great high-flung sprays of overgrown
roses, dusty and choked with weeds, ragged pepper tassels dragged in
the grass, and where the path lay under the eucalyptus trees it was
slippery with the dry, crescent-shaped leaves. Bees hummed over rank
poppies and tangled honeysuckle; once or twice a hummingbird came
through the garden on some swift, whizzing journey, and there were
other birds in the trees, little shy brown birds, silent but busy in
the late afternoon. Close to the house an old garden faucet dripped
and dripped, and a noisy, changing group of the brown birds were
bathing and flashing about it. The old Hall stood on a rise of
ground, clear of the trees, and bathed in sunshine. It was an ugly
house, following as it did the fashion of the late seventies; but it
was not undignified, with its big door flanked by bay-windows and its
narrow porch bounded by a fat wooden balustrade and heavy columns. The
porch and steps were weather-stained and faded, and littered now with
fallen leaves and twigs.
Barry opened the front door with some difficulty, and they stepped
into the musty emptiness of the big main hall. There was a stairway
at the back of the house with a colored glass window on the landing,
and through it the sunlight streamed, showing the old velvet carpet
in the hall below, and the carved heavy walnut chairs and tables, and
the old engravings in their frames of oak and walnut mosaic. The
visitors peeped into the old library, odorous of unopened books, and
with great curtains of green rep shutting out the light, and into the
music room behind it, cold even on this warm day, with a muffled grand
piano drawn free of the walls, and near it two piano-stools,
upholstered in blue-fringed rep, to match the curtains and chairs.
They went across the hall to the long, dim drawing room, where there
was another velvet carpet, dulled to a red pink by time, and muffled
pompous sofas and chairs, and great mirrors, and "sets" of
candlesticks and vases on the mantels and what-nots. The windows were
shuttered here, the air lifeless. Barry, in George Carew's interest,
felt bound to say that "they would clear all this up, you know; a lot
of this stuff could be stored."
"Oh, why store it? It's perfectly good," the lady answered
Presently they went out to the more cheerful dining-room, which ran
straight across the house, and was low-ceiled, with pleasant square-
paned windows on two sides.
"This was the old house," explained Barry; "they added on the front
part. You could do a lot with this room."
"Do you still smell spice, and apples, and cider here?" said Mrs.
Burgoyne, turning from an investigation of the china-closet, with a
radiant face. A moment later she caught her breath suddenly, and
walked across the room to stand, resting her hands on a chair back,
before a large portrait that hung above the fireplace. She stood so,
gazing at the picture—the portrait of a woman—for a full minute,
and when she turned again to Barry, her eyes were bright with tears.
"That's Mrs. Holly," said she. "Emily said that picture was here."
And turning back to the canvas, she added under her breath, "You
"Did you know her?" Barry asked, surprised.
"Did I know her!" Mrs. Burgoyne echoed softly, without turning.
"Yes, I knew her," she added, almost musingly. And then suddenly she
said, "Come, let's look upstairs," and led the way by the twisted
sunny back stairway, which had a window on every landing and Crimson
Rambler roses pressing against every window. They looked into several
bedrooms, all dusty, close, sunshiny. In the largest of these, a big
front corner room, carpeted in dark red, with a black marble fireplace
and an immense walnut bed, Mrs. Burgoyne, looking through a window
that she had opened upon the lovely panorama of river and woods, said
"This must be my room, it was hers. She was the best friend, in one
way, that I ever had—Mrs. Holly. How happy I was here!"
"Here?" Barry echoed.
At his tone she turned, and looked keenly at him, a little smile
playing about her lips. Then her face suddenly brightened.
"Barry, of course!" she exclaimed. "I KNEW I knew you, but the 'Mr.
Valentine' confused me." And facing him radiantly, she demanded, "Who
Barry shook his head slowly, his puzzled, smiling eyes on hers. For
a moment they faced each other; then his look cleared as hers had
done, and their hands met as he said boyishly:
"Well, I will be hanged! Jappy Frothingham!"
"Jappy Frothingham!" she echoed joyously. "But I haven't heard that
name for twenty years. And you're the boy whose father was a doctor,
and who helped us build our Indian camp, and who had the frog, and
fell off the roof, and killed the rattlesnake."
"And you're the girl from Washington who could speak French, and
who put that stuff on my freckles and wouldn't let 'em drown the
"Oh, yes, yes!" she said, and, their hands still joined, they
laughed like happy children together.
Presently, more gravely, she told him a little of herself, of the
early marriage, and the diplomat husband whose career was so cruelly
cut short by years of hopeless invalidism. Then had come her father's
illness, and years of travel with him, and now she and the little
girls were alone. And in return Barry sketched his own life, told her
a little of Hetty, and his unhappy days in New York, and of the boy,
and finally of the Mail. Her absorbed attention followed him from
point to point.
"And you say that this Rogers owns the newspaper?" she asked
thoughtfully, when the Mail was under discussion.
"Rogers owns it; that's the trouble. Nothing goes into it without
the old man's consent." Barry tested the spring of a roller shade,
with a scowl. "Barnes, the assistant editor he had before me, threw
up his job because he wouldn't stand having his stuff cut all to
pieces and changed to suit Rogers' policies," he went on, as Mrs.
Burgoyne's eyes demanded more detail. "And that's what I'll do some
day. In the six years since the old man bought it, the circulation
has fallen off about half; we don't get any 'ads'; we're not paying
expenses. It's a crime too, for it's a good paper. Even Rogers is
sick of it now; he'd sell for a song. I'd borrow the money and buy it
if it weren't for the presses; I'd have to have new presses.
Everything here is in pretty good shape," he finished, with an air of
changing the subject.
"And what would new presses cost?" Sidney Burgoyne persisted,
pausing on the big main stairway, as they were leaving the house a
few minutes later.
"Oh, I don't know." Barry opened the front door again, and they
stepped out to the porch. "Altogether," he said vaguely, snapping
dead twigs from the heavy unpruned growth of the rose vines,
"altogether, I wouldn't go into it without ten thousand. Five for the
new presses, say, and four to Rogers for the business and good- will,
and something to run on—although," Barry interrupted himself with a
vehemence that surprised her, "although I'll bet that the old Mail
would be paying her own rent and salaries within two months. The
Dispatch doesn't amount to much, and the Star is a regular back
number!" He stood staring gloomily down at the roofs of the village;
Mrs. Burgoyne, a little tired, had seated herself on the top step.
"I wish, in all seriousness, you'd tell me about it," she said. "I
am really interested. If I buy this place, it will mean that we come
here to stay for years perhaps, and I have some money I want to
invest here. I had thought of real estate, but it needn't necessarily
be that. It sounds to me as if you really ought to make an effort to
buy the paper, Barry, Have you thought of getting anyone to go into it
The man laughed, perhaps a little embarrassed.
"Never here, really. I went to Walter Pratt about it once," he
admitted, "but he said he was all tied up. Some of the fellows down
in San Francisco might have come in—but Lord! I don't want to settle
here; I hate this place."
"But why do you hate it?" Her honest eyes met his in surprise and
reproof. "I can't understand it, perhaps because I've thought of
Santa Paloma as a sort of Mecca for so many years myself. My visit
here was the sweetest and simplest experience I ever had in my life.
You see I had a wretchedly artificial childhood; I used to read of
country homes and big families and good times in books, but I was an
only child, and even then my life was spoiled by senseless
formalities and conventions. I've remembered all these years the
simple gowns Mrs. Holly used to wear here, and the way she played
with us, and the village women coming in for tea and sewing; it was
all so sane and so sweet!"
"Our coming here was the merest chance. My father and I were on our
way home from Japan, you know, and he suddenly remembered that the
Hollys were near San Francisco, and we came up here for a night.
That," said Mrs. Burgoyne in a lower tone, as if half to herself,
"that was twenty years ago; I was only twelve, but I've never
forgotten it. Fred and Oliver and Emily and I had our supper on the
side porch; and afterward they played in the garden, but I was shy—
I had never played—and Mrs. Holly kept me beside her on the porch,
and talked to me now and then, and finally she asked me if I would
like to spend the summer with her. Like to!—I wonder my heart didn't
burst with joy! Father said no; but after we children had gone to bed,
they discussed it again. How Emily and I PRAYED! And after a while
Fred tiptoed down to the landing, and came up jubilant. 'I heard
mother say that what clothes Sidney needed could be bought right
here,' he said. Emily began to laugh, and I to cry—!" She turned her
back on Barry, and he, catching a glimpse of her wet eyes, took up the
"I don't remember her very well," he said; "a boy wouldn't. She
died soon after that summer, and the boys went off to school."
"Yes, I know," the lady said thoughtfully. "I had the news in
Rome— a hot, bright, glaring day. It was nearly a month after her
death, then. And even then, I said to myself that I'd come back here,
some day. But it's not been possible until now; and now," her voice
was bright and steady again, "here I am. And I don't like to hear an
old friend abusing Santa Paloma."
"It's a nice enough place," Barry admitted, "but the people are—
well, you wait until you meet the women! Perhaps they're not much
worse than women everywhere else, but sometimes it doesn't seem as if
the women here had good sense. I don't mean the nice quiet ones who
live out on the ranches and are bringing up a houseful of children,
but this River Street crowd."
"Why, what's the matter with them?" asked Mrs. Burgoyne with
"Oh, I mean this business of playing bridge four afternoons a week,
and running to the club, and tearing around in motor-cars all day
Sunday, and entertaining the way they think people do it in New York,
and getting their dresses in San Francisco instead of up here," Barry
explained disgustedly. "Some of them would be nice enough if they
weren't trying to go each other one better all the time; when one gets
a thing the others have all got to have it, or have something nicer.
Take the Browns, now, your neighbors there—"
"In the shingled house, with the babies swinging on the gate as we
"Yes, that's it. They've got four little boys. Doctor Brown is a
king; everybody worships him, and she's a sweet little woman; but of
course she's got to strain and struggle like the rest of them.
There's a Mrs. Willard White in this town—that big gray-shingled
place down there is their garage—and she runs the whole place. She's
always letting the others know that hobbles are out, and everything's
got to hang from the shoulder—"
"Very good!" laughed Mrs. Burgoyne, "you've got that very nearly
"Willard White's a nice fellow," Barry went on, "except that he's a
little cracked about his Packard. They give motoring parties, and of
course they stop at hotels way up the country for lunch, and the
women have got to have veils and special hats and coats, and so on.
Wayne Adams told me it stood him in about thirty dollars every time
he went out with the Whites. Wayne's got his own car now; his wife
kept at him day and night to get it. But he can't run it, so it's in
the garage half the time."
"That's the worst of motoring," said the lady with a thoughtful
nod, "the people who sell them think they've answered you when they
say, 'But you don't run it economically. If you understood it, it
wouldn't cost you half so much!' And the alternative is, 'Get a man
at seventy-five dollars a month and save repairing and replacing
bills.' Nice for business, Barry, but very much overdone for
pleasure, I think. I myself hate those days spent with five people
you hardly know," she went on, "rushing over beautiful roads that you
hardly see, eating too much in strange hotels, and paying too much for
it. I sha'n't have a car. But tell me more about the people. Who are
the Adamses? Didn't you say Adams?"
"Wayne Adams; nice people, with two nice boys," he supplied; "but
she's like the rest. Wayne lies awake nights worrying about bills,
and she gives silver photograph-frames for bridge prizes. That white
stucco house where they're putting in an Italian garden, is the
Parker Lloyds. Mrs. Lloyd's a clever woman, and pretty too; but she
doesn't seem to have any sense. They've got a little girl, and she'll
tell you that Mabel never wore a stitch that wasn't hand-made in her
life. Lloyd had a nervous breakdown a few months ago—we all knew it
was nothing but money worry—but yesterday his wife said to me in all
good faith that he was too unselfish, he was wearing himself out. She
was trying to persuade him to put Mabel in school and go abroad for a
Mrs. Burgoyne laughed.
"That's like Jeanette Carew showing me her birthday present," Barry
went on with a grin. "It seems that George gave her a complete set of
bureau ivory—two or three dozen pieces in all, I guess. When I asked
her she admitted that she had silver, but she said she wanted ivory,
everybody has ivory now. Present!" he repeated with scorn, "why, she
just told George what she wanted, and went down and charged it to him!
She's worried to death about bills now, but she started right in
talking motor-cars; and they'll have one yet. I'd give a good deal,"
he finished disgustedly, "to know what they get out of it."
"I don't believe they're as bad as all that," said the lady. "There
used to be some lovely people here, and there was a whist club too,
and it was very nice. They played for a silver fork and spoon every
fortnight, and I remember that Mrs. Holly had nearly a dozen of the
forks. There was a darling Mrs. Apostleman, and Mrs. Pratt with two
shy pretty daughters—"
"Mrs. Apostleman's still here," he told her. "She's a fine old
lady. When a woman gets to be sixty, it doesn't seem to matter if she
wastes time. Mrs. Pratt is dead, and Lizzie is married and lives in
San Francisco, but Anne's still here. She and her brother live in
that vault of a gray house; you can see the chimneys. Anne's another,
"his tone was cynical again, "a shy, nervous woman, always getting new
dresses, and always on club reception committees, with white gloves
and a ribbon in her hair, frightened to death for fear she's not doing
the correct thing. They've just had a frieze of English tapestries put
in the drawing-room and hall,—English TAPESTRIES!"
"Perhaps you don't appreciate tapestries," said Mrs. Burgoyne, with
her twinkling smile. "You know there is a popular theory that such
things keep money in circulation."
"You know there's hardly any form of foolishness or vice of which
you can't say that," he reminded her soberly; and Mrs. Burgoyne,
serious in turn, answered quickly:
"Yes, you're quite right. It's too bad; we American women seem
somehow to have let go of everything real, in the last few
generations. But things are coming around again." She rose from the
steps, still facing the village. "Tell me, who is my nearest neighbor
there, in the white cottage?" she demanded.
"I am," Barry said unexpectedly. "So if you need—yeast is it, that
women always borrow?"
"Yeast," she assented laughing. "I will remember. And now tell me
about trains and things. Listen!" Her voice and look changed
suddenly: softened, brightened. "Is that children?" she asked,
And a moment later four children, tired, happy and laden with
orchard spoils, came around the corner of the house. Barry presented
them as the Carews—George and Jeanette, a bashful fourteen and a
self-possessed twelve, and Dick, who was seven—and his own small
dusty son, Billy Valentine, who put a fat confiding hand in the
strange lady's as they all went down to the gate together.
"You are my Joanna's age, Jeanette," said Mrs. Burgoyne, easily. "I
hope you will be friends."
"Who will I be friends with?" said little Billy, raising blue
expectant eyes. "And who will George?"
"Why, I hope you will be friends with me," she answered laughing;
"and I will be so relieved if George will come up sometimes and help
me with bonfires and about what ought to be done in the stable. You
see, I don't know much about those things." At this moment George,
hoarsely muttering that he wasn't much good, he guessed, but he had
some good tools, fell deeply a victim to her charms.
Mrs. Carew came out of her own gate as they came up, and there was
time for a little talk, and promises, and goodbyes. Then Barry took
Mrs. Burgoyne to the station, and lifted his hat to the bright face
at the window as the train pulled out in the dusk. He went slowly to
his office from the train and attacked the litter of papers and
clippings on his desk absent-mindedly. Once he said half aloud, his
big scissors arrested, his forehead furrowed by an unaccustomed
frown, "We were only kids then; and they all thought I was the one
who was going to do something big."
Barry appeared at Mrs. Carew's house a little after midnight to
find the card-players enjoying a successful supper, and the one topic
of conversation the possible sale of Holly Hall. Barry, suspected of
having news of it, was warmly welcomed by the tired, bright-eyed
women and the men in their somewhat rumpled evening clothes, and
supplied with salad and coffee.
"Is she really coming, Barry?" demanded Mrs. Lloyd eagerly. "And
how soon? We have been saying what WONDERS could be done for the Hall
with a little money."
"The price didn't seem to worry her," said George Carew.
"Oh, she's coming," Barry assured them; "you can consider it
"Good!" said old Mrs. Apostleman in her deep, emphatic voice.
"She'll have to make the house over, of course; but the stable ought
to make a very decent garage. Mark my words, me dears, ye'll see some
very startling changes up there, before the summer's out."
"The house could be made colonial," submitted Mrs. Adams, "or
mission, for that matter."
"No, you couldn't make it mission," Mrs. Willard White decided, and
several voices murmured, "No, you couldn't do that." "But colonial—
it would be charming," the authority went on. "Personally, I'd tear
the whole thing down and rebuild," said Mrs. White further; "but with
hardwood floors throughout, tapestry papers, or the new grass
papers—like Amy's library, Will—white paint on all the woodwork,
white and cream outside, some really good furniture, and the garden
made over—you wouldn't know the place."
"But that would take months," said Mrs. Carew ruefully.
"And cost like sixty," added Dr. Brown, at which there was a laugh.
"Well, she won't wait any six months, or six weeks either," Barry
predicted. "And don't you worry about the expense, Doctor. Do you
know who she IS?"
They all looked at him. "Who?" said ten voices together.
"Why, her father was Frothingham—Paul Frothingham, the inventor.
Her husband was Colonel John Burgoyne;—you all know the name. He was
quite a big man, too—a diplomat. Their wedding was one of those big
Washington affairs. A few years later Burgoyne had an accident, and he
was an invalid for about six years after that—until his death, in
fact. She traveled with him everywhere."
"Sidney Frothingham!" said Mrs. Carew. "I remember Emily Holly used
to have letters from her. She was presented at the English court when
she was quite young, I remember, and she used to visit at the White
House, too. So THAT'S who she is!"
"I remember the child's visit here perfectly," Mrs. Apostleman
said, "tall, lanky girl with very charming manners. Her husband was at
St. Petersburg for a while; then in London—was it? You ought to know,
Clara, me dear—I'm not sure—Even after his accident they went on
some sort of diplomatic mission to Madrid, or Stockholm, or
somewhere, remember it perfectly."
"Colonel Burgoyne must have had money," said Mrs. White,
"Some, I think," Barry answered; "but it was her father who was
rich, of course—"
"Certainly!" approved Mrs. Apostleman, fanning herself
majestically. "Rich as Croesus; multi-millionaire."
"Heavens alive!" said Mrs. Lloyd unaffectedly.
"Yes," Willard White eyed the tip of a cigar thoughtfully, "yes, I
remember he worked his own patents; had his own factories. Paul
Frothingham must have left something in the neighborhood of—well,
two or three millions—"
"Two or three!" echoed Mrs. Apostleman in regal scorn. "Make it
"Eight!" said Mrs. Brown faintly.
"Well, that would be about my estimate," Barry agreed.
"He was a big man, Frothingham," Dr. Brown said reflectively.
"Well, well, ladies, here's a chance for Santa Paloma to put her best
"What WON'T she do to the Hall!" Mrs. Adams remarked; Mrs. Carew
"It—it rather staggers one to think of trying to entertain a woman
worth eight millions, doesn't it?" said she.
From the moment of her arrival in Santa Paloma, when she stood on
the station platform with a brisk spring wind blowing her veil about
her face, and a small and chattering girl on each side of her, Mrs.
Burgoyne seemed inclined to meet the friendly overtures of her new
neighbors more than half-way. She remembered the baggage-agent's name
from her visit two weeks before—"thank Mr. Roberts for his trouble,
Ellen"—and met the aged driver of the one available carriage with a
ready "Good afternoon, Mr. Rivers!" Within a week she had her pew in
church, her box at the post-office, her membership in the library, and
a definite rumor was afloat to the effect that she had invested
several thousand dollars in the Mail, and that Barry Valentine had
bought the paper from old Rogers outright; and had ordered new rotary
presses, and was at last to have a free hand as managing editor. The
pretty young mistress of Holly Hall, with her two children dancing
beside her, and her ready pleased flush and greeting for new friends,
became a familiar figure in Santa Paloma's streets. She was even seen
once or twice across the river, in the mill colony, having, for some
mysterious reason, immediately opened the bridge that led from her own
grounds to that unsavory region.
She was not formal, not unapproachable, as it had been feared she
might be. On the contrary, she was curiously democratic. And, for a
woman straight from the shops of Paris and New York, her clothes
seemed to the women of Santa Paloma to be surprising, too. She and
her daughters wore plain ginghams for every day, with plain wide hats
and trim serge coats for foggy mornings. And on Sundays it was
certainly extraordinary to meet the Burgoynes, bound for church,
wearing the simplest of dimity or cross-barred muslin wash dresses,
with black stockings and shoes, and hats as plain—far plainer!—as
those of the smallest children. Except for the amazing emeralds that
blazed beside her wedding ring, and the diamonds she sometimes wore,
Mrs. Burgoyne might have been a trained nurse in uniform.
"It is a pose," said Mrs. Willard White, at the club, to a few
intimate friends. "She's probably imitating some English countess.
Englishwomen affect simplicity in the country. But wait until we see
her evening frocks."
It was felt that any formal calling upon Mrs. Burgoyne must wait
until the supposedly inevitable session with carpenters, painters,
paper-hangers, carpet-layers, upholsterers, decorators, furniture
dealers, and gardeners was over at the Hall. But although the old
house had been painted and the plumbing overhauled before the new
owner's arrival, and although all day long and every day two or three
Portuguese day-laborers chopped and pruned and shouted in the garden,
a week and then two weeks slipped by, and no further evidences of
renovation were to be seen.
So presently callers began to go up to the Hall; first Mrs.
Apostleman and Mrs. White, as was fitting, and then a score of other
women. Mrs. Apostleman had been the social leader in Santa Paloma
when Mrs. White was little Clara Peck, a pretty girl in the High
School, whose rich widowed mother dressed her exquisitely, and who
was studying French, and could play the violin. But Mrs. Apostleman
was an old woman now, and had been playing the game a long time, and
she was glad to put the sceptre into younger hands. And she could
have put it into none more competent than those of Mrs. Willard
Mrs. White was a handsome, clever woman, of perhaps six-or seven-
and-thirty. She had been married now for seventeen years, and for all
that time, and even before her marriage, she had been the most envied,
the most admired, and the most copied woman in the village. Her
mother, an insipid, spoiled, ambitious little woman, whose fondest
hope was realized when her dashing daughter made a financially
brilliant match, had lost no time in warning the bride that the
agonies of motherhood, and the long ensuing slavery, were avoidable,
and Clara had entirely agreed with her mother's ideas, and used to
laughingly assure the few old friends who touched upon this delicate
topic, that she herself "was baby enough for Will!" Robbed in this way
of her natural estate, and robbed by the size of her husband's income
from the exhilarating interest of making financial ends meet, Mrs.
White, for seventeen years, had led what she honestly considered an
enviable and carefree existence. She bought beautiful clothes for
herself, and beautiful things for her house, she gave her husband and
her mother very handsome gifts. She was a perfect hostess, although it
must be admitted that she never extended the hospitalities of her
handsome home to anyone who did not amuse her, who was not "worth
while". She ruled her servants well, made a fine president for the
local Women's Club, ran her own motor-car very skillfully, and played
an exceptionally good game of bridge. She was an authority upon
table-linens, fancy needlework, fashions in dress, new salads, new
methods in serving the table.
Willard White, as perfect a type in his own way as she was in hers,
was very proud of her, when he thought of her at all, which was
really much less often than their acquaintances supposed. He liked
his house to be nicely managed, spent his money freely upon it,
wanted his friends handsomely entertained, and his wine-cellar
stocked with every conceivable variety of liquid refreshment. If
Clara wanted more servants, let her have them, if she wanted
corkscrews by the gross, why, buy those, too. Only let a man feel
that there was a maid around to bring him a glass when he came in
from golfing or motoring, and a corkscrew with the glass!
As a matter of fact, his club and his office, and above all, his
motor-cars, absorbed him. His natural paternal instinct had been
diverted toward these latter, and, quite without his knowing it, his
cars were his nursery. Willard White had owned the first electric car
ever seen in Santa Paloma. Later, there had been half-a-dozen
machines, and he loved them all, and spoke of them as separate
entities. He spoke of the runs they had made, of the strains they had
triumphantly sustained, and he and his chauffeur held low-toned
conferences over any small breakage, with the same seriousness that
he might have used had Willard Junior—supposing there to have been
such a little person—developed croup, and made the presence of a
physician necessary. He liked to glance across his lawn at night to
the commodious garage, visible in the moonlight, and think of his
treasures, locked up, guarded, perfect in every detail, and safe.
He and Mrs. White always spoke of Santa Paloma as a "jay" town, and
compared it, to its unutterable disadvantage, to other and larger
cities, but still, business reasons would always keep them there for
the greater part of the year, and they were both glad to hear that a
fabulously wealthy widow, and a woman prominent in every other
respect as well, had come to live in Santa Paloma. Mrs. White
determined to play her game very carefully with Mrs. Burgoyne; there
should be no indecent hurry, there should be no sudden overtures at
friendship. "But, poor thing! She will certainly find our house an
oasis in the desert!" Mrs. White comfortably decided, putting on the
very handsomest of her afternoon gowns to go and call formally at the
Mrs. Burgoyne and the little girls were always most cordial to
visitors. They spent these first days deep in gardening, great heaps
of fragrant dying weeds about them, and raw vistas through the pruned
trees already beginning to show the gracious slopes of the land, and
the sleepy Lobos down beneath the willows. The Carew children and the
little Browns were often there, fascinated by the outdoor work, as
children always are, and little Billy Valentine squirmed daily through
his own particular gap in the hedge, and took his share of the fun
with a deep and silent happiness. Billy gave Mrs. Burgoyne many a
heartache, with his shock of bright, unbrushed hair, his neglected
grimed little hands, his boyish little face that was washed daily
according to his own small lights, with surrounding areas of neck and
ears wholly overlooked, and his deep eyes, sad when he was sad, and
somehow infinitely more pathetic when he was happy. Sometimes she
stealthily supplied Billy with new garters, or fastened the buttons on
his blue overalls, or even gave him a spoonful of "meddy" out of a big
bottle, at the mere sight of which Ellen shuddered sympathetically; a
dose which was always followed by two marshmallows, out of a tin box,
by way of consolation. But further than this she dared not go, except
in the matter of mugs of milk, gingerbread, saucer-pies, and motherly
kisses for any bump or bruise.
The village women, coming up to the Hall, in the pleasant summer
afternoons, were puzzled to find the old place almost unchanged. Why
any woman in her senses wanted to live among those early-Victorian
horrors, the women of Santa Paloma could not imagine. But Mrs.
Burgoyne never apologized for the old walnut chairs and tables, and
the old velvet carpets, and the hopelessly old-fashioned white lace
curtains and gilt-framed mirrors. Even Captain Holly's big clock—
"an impossibly hideous thing," Mrs. White called the frantic bronze
horses and the clinging tiger, on their onyx hillside—was serenely
ticking, and the pink china vases were filled with flowers. And there
was an air of such homely comfort, after all, about the big rooms,
such a fragrance of flowers, and flood of sunny fresh air, that the
whole effect was not half as bad as it might be imagined; indeed, when
Mammy Curry, the magnificent old negress who was supreme in the
kitchen and respected in the nursery as well, came in with her stiff
white apron and silver tea-tray, she seemed to fit into the picture,
and add a completing touch to the whole.
Very simply, very unpretentiously, the new mistress of Holly Hall
entered upon her new life. She was a woman of very quiet tastes,
devoted to her little girls, her music, her garden and her books.
With the negress, she had one other servant, a quiet little New
England girl, with terrified, childish eyes, and a passionate
devotion to her mistress and all that concerned her mistress. Fanny
had in charge a splendid, tawny-headed little boy of three, who
played happily by himself, about the kitchen door, and chased
chickens and kittens with shrieks of delight. Mrs. Burgoyne spoke of
him as "Fanny's little brother," and if the two had a history of any
sort, it was one at which she never hinted. She met an embarrassing
question with a readiness which rather amused Mrs. Brown, on a day
when the two younger ladies were having tea with Mrs. Apostleman, and
the conversation turned to the subject of maids.
"—but if your little girl Fanny has had her lesson, you'll have no
trouble keepin' her," said Mrs. Apostleman.
"Oh, I hope I shall keep Fanny," said Mrs. Burgoyne, "she comes of
such nice people, and she's such a sweet, good girl."
"Why, Lord save us!" said the old lady, repentantly, "and I was
almost ready to believe the child was hers!"
"If Peter was hers, she couldn't be fonder of him!" Mrs. Burgoyne
said mildly, and Mrs. Brown choked on her tea, and had to wipe her
In the matter of Fanny, and in a dozen other small matters, the
independence of the great lady was not slow in showing itself in Mrs.
Burgoyne. Santa Paloma might be annoyed at her, and puzzled by her,
but it had perforce to accept her as she stood, or ignore her, and she
was obviously not a person to ignore. She declined all invitations for
daytime festivities; she was "always busy in the daytime," she said.
No cards, no luncheons, no tea-parties could lure her away from the
Hall, although, if she and the small girls walked in for mail or were
down in the village for any other reason, they were very apt to stop
somewhere for a chat on their way home. But the children were allowed
to go nowhere alone, and not the smartest of children's parties could
boast of the presence of Joanna and Ellen Burgoyne.
Santa Paloma children were much given to parties, or rather their
parents were; and every separate party was a separate great event.
The little girls wore exquisite hand-made garments, silken hose and
white shoes. Professional entertainers, in fashionably darkened
rooms, kept the little people amused, and professional caterers
supplied the supper they ate, or perhaps the affair took the shape of
a box-party for a matinee, and a supper at the town's one really
pretty tea-room followed. These affairs were duly chronicled in the
daily and weekly papers, and perhaps more than one matron would have
liked the distinction of having Mrs. Burgoyne's little daughters
listed among her own child's guests. Joanna and Ellen were pretty
children, in a well-groomed, bright-eyed sort of way, and would have
been popular even without the added distinction of their ready French
and German and Italian, their charming manners, their naive references
to other countries and peoples, and their beautiful and distinguished
But in answer to all invitations, there came only polite, stilted
little letters of regret, in the children's round script. "Mother
would d'rather we shouldn't go to a sin-gul party until we are young
ladies!" Ellen would say cheerfully, if cross-examined on the
subject, leaving it to the more tactful Joanna to add, "But Mother
thanks you JUST as much." They were always close to their mother when
it was possible, and she only banished them from her side when the
conversation grew undeniably too old in tone for Joanna and Ellen, and
then liked to keep them in sight, have them come in with the tea-tray,
or wave to her occasionally from the river bank.
"We've been wondering what you would do with this magnificent
drawing-room," said Mrs. White, on her first visit. "The house ought
to take a colonial treatment wonderfully—there's a remarkable man in
San Francisco who simply made our house over for us last year!"
"It must have been a fearful upheaval," said Mrs. Burgoyne,
"Oh, we went away! Mr. White and I went east, and when we came back
it was all done."
"Well, fortunately," said the mistress of Holly Hall cheerfully, as
she sugared Mrs. Apostleman's cup of tea, "fortunately all these
things of Mrs. Holly's were in splendid condition, except for a
little cleaning and polishing. They used to make things so much more
solid, don't you think so? Why, there are years of wear left in these
carpets, and the chairs and tables are like rocks! Captain Holly
apparently got the very best of everything when he furnished this
place, and I reap the benefit. It's so nice to feel that one needn't
buy a chair or a bed for ten years or more, if one doesn't want to!"
"Dear, sweet people, the Hollys," said Mrs. White, pleasantly,
utterly at a loss. Did people of the nicer class speak of furniture
as if it were made merely to be useful? "But what a distinct period
these things belong to, don't they?" she asked, feeling her way.
"Yes, in a way it was an ugly period," said Mrs. Burgoyne,
placidly. "But very comfortable, fortunately. Fancy if he had selected
Louis Quinze chairs, for example!"
Mrs. White gave her a puzzled look, and smiled.
"Come now, Mrs. Burgoyne," said she, good-naturedly, "Confess that
you are going to give us all a surprise some day, and change all
this. One sees," said Mrs. White, elegantly, "such lovely effects in
"In those upper Fifth Avenue shops—ah, but don't you see lovely
things!" the other woman assented warmly. "Of course, one could be
always changing," she went on. "But I like associations with things-
-and changing takes so much time! Some day we may think all this
quite pretty," she finished, with a contented glance at the
comfortable ugliness of the drawing-room.
"Oh, do you suppose we shall REALLY!" Mrs. White gave a little
incredulous laugh. She was going pretty far, and she knew it, but as
a matter of fact, she was entirely unable to believe that there was a
woman in the world who could afford to have what was fashionable and
expensive in household furnishings or apparel, and who deliberately
preferred not to have it. That her own pretty things were no sooner
established than they began to lose their charm for her, never
occurred to Mrs. White: she was a woman of conventional type,
perfectly satisfied to spend her whole life in acquiring things
essentially invaluable, and to use a naturally shrewd and quick
intelligence in copying fashions of all sorts, small and large, as
fast as advanced merchants and magazines presented them to her. She
was one of the great army of women who help to send the sale of an
immoral book well up into the hundreds of thousands; she liked to
spend long afternoons with a box of chocolates and a book unfit for
the touch of any woman; a book that she would review for the benefit
of her friends later, with a shocked wonder that "they dare print such
things!" She liked to tell a man's story, and the other women could
not but laugh at her, for she was undeniably good company, and nobody
ever questioned the taste of anything she ever said or did. She was a
famous gossip, for like all women, she found the private affairs of
other people full of fascination, and, having no legitimate
occupation, she was always at liberty to discuss them.
Yet Mrs. White was not at all an unusual woman, and, like her
associates, she tacitly assumed herself to be the very flower of
American womanhood. She quoted her distinguished relatives on all
occasions, the White family, in all its ramifications, supplied the
correct precedent for all the world; there was no social emergency to
which some cousin or aunt of Mrs. White's had not been more than
equal. Having no children of her own, she still could silence and
shame many a good mother with references to Cousin Ethel Langstroth's
"kiddies", or to Aunt Grace Thurston's wonderful governess.
Personally, Mrs. White vaguely felt that there was something
innately indecent about children anyway, the smaller they were the
less mentionable she found them. The little emergencies, of nose-
bleeds and torn garments and spilled porridge, that were constantly
arising in the neighborhood of children, made her genuinely sick and
faint. And she had so humorous and so assured an air of saying
"Disgusting!" or "Disgraceful!" when the family of some other woman
began to present itself with reasonable promptness, that other women
found themselves laughing and saying "Disgusting!" too.
Mrs. Burgoyne, like Mrs. White, was a born leader. Whether she made
any particular effort to influence her neighbors or not, they could
not but feel the difference in her attitude toward all the various
tangible things that make a woman's life. She was essentially
maternal, wanted to mother all the little living and growing things
in the world, wanted to be with children, and talk of them and study
them. And she was simple and honest in her tastes, and entirely
without affectation in her manner, and she was too great a lady to be
either laughed at or ignored. So Santa Paloma began to ask itself why
she did this or that, and finding her ways all made for economy and
comfort and simplicity, almost unconsciously copied them.
When Mrs. Apostleman invited several of her friends to a formal
dinner given especially for Mrs. Burgoyne everyone realized that the
newcomer was accepted, and the event was one of several in which the
women of Santa Paloma tried with more than ordinary eagerness to
outshine each other. Mrs. Apostleman herself never entered into
competition with the younger matrons, nor did they expect it of her.
She gave heavy, rich, old-fashioned dinners in her own way, in which
her servants were perfectly trained. It was a standing joke among her
friends that they always ate too much at Mrs. Apostleman's house,
there were always seven or eight substantial courses, and she liked to
have the plates come back for more lobster salad or roast turkey. In
this, as in all things, she was a law unto herself.
But for the other women, Mrs. White set the pace, and difficult to
keep they often found it. But they never questioned it. They admired
the richer woman's perfect house-furnishing, and struggled blindly to
accumulate the same number and variety of napkins and fingerbowls,
ramekins and glasses and candlesticks and special forks and special
knives. The first of the month with its bills, became a horror to
them, and they were continually promising their husbands, in all good
faith, that expenses should positively be cut down.
But what use were good resolves; when one might find, the very next
day, that there were no more cherries for the grapefruit, that one
had not a pair of presentable white gloves for the club, or that the
motor-picnic that the children were planning was to cost them five
dollars apiece? To serve grapefruit without cherries, to wear colored
gloves, or no gloves at all to the club, and to substitute some
inexpensive pleasure for the ride was a course that never occurred to
Mrs. Carew, that never occurred to any of her friends. Mrs. Carew
might have a very vague idea of her daughter's spiritual needs, she
might be an entire stranger to the delicately adjusted and exquisitely
susceptible entity that was the real Jeanette, but she would have gone
hungry rather than have Jeanette unable to wear white shoes to Sunday
School, rather than tie Jeanette's braids with ribbons that were not
stiff and new. She was so entirely absorbed in pursuit of the "correct
thing," so anxious to read what was "being read," to own what was
"right", that she never stopped to seriously consider her own or her
daughter's place in the universe. She was glad, of course when the
children "liked their teacher," just as she had been glad years before
when they "liked their nurse." The reasons for such likings or
dislikings she never investigated; she had taken care of the children
herself during the nurse's regular days "off", but she always regarded
these occasions as so much lost time. Mrs. Carew kept her children, as
she kept her house, well- groomed, and she gave about as much thought
to the spiritual needs of the one as the other. She had been brought
up to believe that the best things in life are to be had for money,
and that earthly happiness or unhappiness falls in exact ratio with
the possession or non-possession of money. She met the growing demands
of her family as well as she could, and practised all sorts of
harassing private economies so that, in the eyes of the world, the
family might seem to be spending a great deal more money than was
actually the case. Mrs. Carew's was not an analytical mind, but
sometimes she found herself genuinely puzzled by the financial state
"I don't know where the money GOES to!" she said, in a confidential
moment, to Mrs. Lloyd. They had met in the market, where Mrs. Carew
was consulting a long list of necessary groceries.
"Oh, don't speak of it!" said Mrs. Lloyd, feelingly. "That's so,
your dinner is tomorrow night, isn't it?" she added with interest.
"Are you going to have Lizzie?"
"Oh, dear me, yes! For eight, you know. Shan't you have her?" For
Mrs. Lloyd's turn to entertain Mrs. Burgoyne followed Mrs. Carew's by
only a few days.
"Lizzie and her mother, too," said the other woman. "I don't know
what's the matter with maids in these days," she went on, "they
simply can't do things, as my mother's maids used to, for example.
Now the four of them will be working all day over Thursday's dinner,
and, dear me! it's a simple enough dinner."
"Well, you have to serve so much with a dinner, nowadays," Mrs.
Carew said, in a mildly martyred tone. "Crackers and everything else
with oysters—I'm going to have cucumber sandwiches with the soup—"
"Delicious!" said Mrs. Lloyd.
"'Cucumbers, olives, salted nuts, currant jelly'", Mrs. Carew was
reading her list, "'ginger chutney, saltines, bar-le-duc, cream
cheese', those are for the salad, you know, 'dinner rolls, sandwich
bread, fancy cakes, Maraschino cherries, maple sugar,' that's to go
hot on the ice, I'm going to serve it in melons, and 'candy'—just
pink and green wafers, I think. All that before it comes to the
actual dinner at all, and it's all so fussy!"
"Don't say one word!" said Mrs. Lloyd, sympathetically. "But it
sounds dee-licious!" she added consolingly, and little Mrs. Carew
went contentedly home to a hot and furious session in her kitchen;
hours of baking, boiling and frying, chopping and whipping and
frosting, creaming and seasoning, freezing and straining.
"I don't mind the work, if only everything goes right!" Mrs. Carew
would say gallantly to herself, and it must be said to her credit
that usually everything did "go right" at her house, although even
the maids in the kitchen, heroically attacking pyramids of sticky
plates, were not so tired as she was, when the dinner was well over.
But there was a certain stimulus in the mere thought of
entertaining Mrs. Burgoyne, and there was the exhilarating
consciousness that one of these days she would entertain in turn; so
the Santa Paloma housewives exerted themselves to the utmost of their
endurance, and one delightful dinner party followed another.
But a dispassionate onlooker from another planet might have found
it curious to notice, in contrast to this uniformity, that no two
women dressed alike on these occasions, and no woman who could help it
wore the same gown twice. Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Carew, to be sure, wore
their "little old silks" more than once, but each was secretly
consoled by the thought that a really "smart" new gown awaited Mrs.
White's dinner; which was naturally the climax of all the affairs.
Only the wearers and their dress-makers knew what hours had been
spent upon these costumes, what discouraged debates attended their
making, what muscular agonies their fitting. Only they could have
estimated, and they never did estimate—the time lost over pattern
books, the nervous strain of placing this bit of spangled net or that
square inch of lace, the hurried trips downtown for samples and
linings, for fringes and embroideries and braids and ribbons. The
gown that she wore to her own dinner, Mrs. White had had fitted in
the Maison Dernier Mot, in Paris;—it was an enchanting frock of
embroidered white illusion, over pink illusion, over black illusion,
under a short heavy tunic of silver spangles and threads. The yoke
was of wonderful old lace, and there was a girdle of heavy pink
cords, and silver clasps, to match the aigrette that was held by pink
and silver cords in Mrs. White's beautifully arranged hair.
Mrs. Burgoyne's gowns, or rather gown, for she wore exactly the
same costume to every dinner, could hardly have been more startling
than Santa Paloma found it, had it gone to any unbecoming extreme. Yet
it was the simplest of black summer silks, soft and full in the skirt,
short-sleeved, and with a touch of lace at the square-cut neck. She
arranged her hair in a becoming loose knot, and somehow managed to
look noticeably lovely and distinguished, in the gay assemblies. To
brighten the black gown she wore a rope of pearls, looped twice about
her white throat, and hanging far below her waist; pearls, as Mrs.
Adams remarked in discouragement later, that "just made you feel
what's the use! She could wear a kitchen apron with those pearls if
she wanted to, everyone would know she could afford cloth of gold and
With this erratic and inexplicable simplicity of dress she combined
the finish of manner, the poise, the ready sympathies of a truly
cultivated and intelligent woman. She could talk, not only of her own
personal experiences, but of the political, and literary, and
scientific movements of the day. Certain proposed state legislation
happened to be interesting the men of Santa Paloma at this time, and
she seemed to understand it, and spoke readily of it.
"But, George," said Mrs. Carew, walking home in the summer night,
after the Adams dinner, "you have often said you hated women to talk
about things they didn't understand."
"But she does understand, dearie. That's just the point."
"Yes; but you differed with her, George!"
"Well, but that's different, Jen. She knew what she was talking
"I suppose she has friends in Washington who keep her informed,"
said Mrs. Carew, a little discontentedly, after a silence. And there
was another pause before she said, "Where do men get their
"Papers, dear. And talking, I suppose. They're interested, you
"Yes, but—" little Mrs. Carew burst out resentfully, "I never can
make head or tail of the papers! They say 'Aldrich Resigns,' or
'Heavy Blow to Interests,' or 'Tammany Scores Triumph,' and _I_ don't
know what it's about!"
George Carew's big laugh rang out in the night, and he put his arm
about her, and said, "You're great, Jen!"
Shortly after Mrs. White's dinner a certain distinguished old
artist from New York, and his son, came to stay a night or two at
Holly Hall, on their way home from the Orient, and Mrs. Burgoyne took
this occasion to invite a score of her new friends to two small
dinners, planned for the two nights of the great Karl von Praag's stay
in Santa Paloma.
"I don't see how she's going to handle two dinners for ten people
each, with just that colored cook of hers and one waitress," said
Mrs. Willard White, late one evening, when Mr. White was finishing a
book and a cigar in their handsome bedroom, and she was at her
"Caterers," submitted Mr. White, turning a page.
"I suppose so," his wife agreed. After a thoughtful silence she
added, "Sue Adams says that she supposes that when a woman has as
much money as that she loses all interest in spending it! Personally,
I don't see how she can entertain a great big man like Von Praag in
that old-fashioned house. She never seems to think of it at all, she
never apologizes for it, and she talks as if nobody ever bought new
things until the old were worn out!"
Her eyes went about her own big bedroom as she spoke. Nothing old-
fashioned here! Even eighteen years ago, when the Whites were
married, their home had been furnished in a manner to make the Holly
Hall of to-day look out of date. Mrs. White shuddered now at the mere
memory of what she as a bride had thought so beautiful: the pale green
carpet, the green satin curtains, the white-and-gold chairs and tables
and bed, the easels, the gilded frames! Seven or eight years later she
had changed all this for a heavy brass bedstead, and dark rugs on a
polished floor, and bird's-eye maple chests and chairs, and all
feminine Santa Paloma talked of the Whites' new things. Six or seven
years after that again, two mahogany beds replaced the brass one, and
heavy mahogany bureaus with glass knobs had their day, with plain net
curtains and old- fashioned woven rugs. But all these were in the
guest-rooms now, and in her own bedroom Mrs. White had a complete set
of Circassian walnut, heavily carved, and ornamented with cunningly
inset panels of rattan. On the beds were covers of Oriental cottons,
and the window-curtains showed the same elementary designs in pinks
"She dresses very prettily, I thought," observed Mr. White, apropos
of his wife's last remark.
"Dresses!" echoed his wife. "She dresses as your mother might!"
"Very pretty, very pretty!" said the man absently, over his book.
There was a silence. Then:
"That just shows how much men notice," Mrs. White confided to her
ivory-backed brush. "I believe they LIKE women to look like frumps!"
These were busy days in the once quiet and sleepy office of the
Santa Paloma Morning Mail. A wave of energy and vigor swept over the
place, affecting everybody from the fat, spoiled office cat, who
found himself pushed out of chairs, and bounced off of folded coats
with small courtesy, to the new editor-manager and the lady whose
timely investment had brought this pleasant change about. Old Kelly,
the proof-reader, night clerk, Associated Press manager, and
assistant editor, shouted and swore with a vim unknown of late years;
Miss Watson, who "covered" social events, clubs, public dinners,
"dramatic," and "hotels," cleaned out her desk, and took her
fancy-work home, and "Fergy," a freckled youth who delighted in
calling himself a "cub," although he did little more than run errands
and carry copy to the press-room, might even be seen batting madly at
an unused typewriter when actual duties failed, so inspiring was the
Mrs. Burgoyne had a desk and a corner of her own, where her trim
figure might be seen daily for an hour or two, from ten o'clock until
the small girls came in to pick her up on their way home from school
for luncheon. Barry found her brimming with ideas. She instituted the
"Women's Page," the old familiar page of answered questions, and
formulas for ginger-bread, and brief romances, and scraps of poetry,
and she offered through its columns a weekly cash prize for
contributions on household topics. An exquisite doll appeared in the
window of the Mail office, a doll with a flower- wreathed hat, and a
ruffled dress, and a little parasol to match the dress, and loitering
little girls, drawn from all over the village to study this dream of
beauty, learned that they had only to enter a loaf of bread of their
own making in the Mail contest, to stand a chance of carrying the
little lady home. Beside the doll stood a rifle, no toy, but a genuine
twenty-two Marlin. for the boy whose plans for a vegetable garden
seemed the best and most practical, Mrs. Burgoyne herself talked to
the children when they came shyly in to investigate. "She seems to
want to know every child in the county, the darling!" said Miss Watson
The Valentines, father and son, came into the Mail office one warm
June morning, to find the editor of the "Women's Page" busy at her
desk, with the sunlight lying in a bright bar across her uncovered
hair, and a vista of waving green boughs showing through the open
window behind her.
"What are you two doing here at this hour?" said Sidney, laying
down her pen and leaning back in her chair as if glad of a moment's
rest. "Why, Billy!" she added in admiring tones, "let me see you! How
very, VERY nice you look!"
For the little fellow was dressed in a new sailor suit that was a
full size too large for him, his wild mop had been cut far too close,
and a large new hat and new shoes were much in evidence.
"D'you think he looks all right?" said Barry with an anxious
wistfulness that went straight to her heart. "He looks better,
doesn't he? I've been fixing him up."
"And free sailor waists, and stockings, and nighties," supplemented
Billy, also anxious for her approval.
"He looks lovely!" said Sidney, enthusiastically, even while she
was mentally raising the collar of his waist, and taking an inch or
two off the trousers. She lifted the child up to sit on his father's
desk, and kissed the top of his little cropped head.
"We may not express ourselves very fluently," said Barry, who was
seated in his own revolving chair and busily opening and shutting the
drawers of his desk, "but we appreciate the interest beautiful ladies
take in our manners and morals, and the new tooth-brushes they buy
"My dear!" protested Mrs. Burgoyne, between laughter and tears,
"Ellen used his old one up, cleaning out their paint-boxes!" And she
put her warm hand on his shoulder, and said, "Don't be a goose,
Barry!" as unselfconsciously as a sister might. "Where are you two
boys going, Billy?" she asked, going back to her own desk.
"'Cool," Billy said.
"He's going over to the kindergarten. I've got some work I ought to
finish here," Barry supplemented." I'll take you across the street,
Infant, I'll be right back, Sidney."
"But, Barry, why are you working now?" asked the lady a few minutes
later when he took his place at his desk.
"Oh, don't you worry," he answered, smiling; "I love it. The
thought of old Rogers' face when he opens his paper every morning does
me good, I'm writing this appeal for the new reservoir now, and I've
got to play up the Flower Festival."
"I'm not interested in the Flower Festival," said Mrs. Burgoyne
good-naturedly, "and the minute it's over I'm going to start a
crusade for a girls' clubhouse in Old Paloma. Conditions over there
for the girls are something hideous. But I suppose we'll have to go
on with the Festival for the present. It's a great occasion, I
"Oh, tremendous! The Governor's coming, and thousands of visitors
always pour into town. We'll have nearly a hundred carriages in the
parade, simply covered with flowers, you know. It's lovely! You wait
until things get fairly started!"
"That'll be Fourth of July," Sidney said thoughtfully, turning back
to her exchanges, "I'll begin my clubhouse crusade on the fifth!" she
For a long time there was silence in the office, except for the
rustling of paper and the scratch of pens. From the sunny world out-
of-doors came a pleasant blending of many noises, passing wagons, the
low talk of chickens, the slamming of gates, and now and then the not
unmusical note of a fish-horn. Footsteps and laughing voices went by,
and died into silence. The clock from Town Hall Square struck eleven
"This is darned pleasant," said Barry presently, over his work.
"Isn't it?" said the editor of the "Women's Page," and again there
After a while Barry said "Finished!" with a great breath, and,
leaning back in his chair, wheeled about to find the lady quietly
"Barry, are you working too hard?" said she, quite unembarrassed.
"Am I? Lord, not I wish the days were twice as long. I"—Barry
rumpled his thick hair with a gesture that was familiar to Sidney
now—"I guess work agrees with me. By George, I hate to eat, and I
hate to sleep; I want to be down here all the time, or else rustling
up subscriptions and 'ads.',"
"And I thought you were lazy," said Sidney, finding herself, for
the first time in their friendship, curiously inclined to keep the
conversation personal, this warm June morning. It was a thing
extremely difficult to do, with Barry. "You certainly gave me that
impression," she said.
"Yes; but that was two months ago," said Barry, off guard. A second
later he changed the topic abruptly by asking, "Did your roses come?"
"All of them," answered Sidney pleasantly. And vaguely conscious of
mischief in the air, but led on by some inexplicable whim, she
pursued, "Do you mean that it makes such a difference to you, Rogers
Barry trimmed the four sides of a clipping with four clips of his
"Exactly," said he briefly. He banged a drawer shut, closed a book
and laid it aside, and stuck the brush into his glue-pot. "Getting
enough of dinner parties?" he asked then, cheerfully.
"Too much," said Sidney, wondering why she felt like a reprimanded
child. "And that reminds me: I am giving two dinners for the Von
Praags, you know. I can't manage everybody at once; I hate more than
ten people at a dinner. And you are asked to the first."
"I don't go much to dinners," Barry said.
"I know you don't; but I want you to come to this one," said
Sidney. "You'll love old Mr. von Praag. And Richard, the son, is a
dear! I really want you."
"He's an artist, too, isn't he?" said Barry without enthusiasm.
"Who, Richard?" she asked, something in his manner putting her a
little at a loss. "Yes; and he's very clever, and so nice! He's like
a brother to me."
Barry did not answer, but after a moment he said, scowling a
little, and not looking up:
"A fellow like that has pretty smooth sailing. Rich, the son of a
big man, traveling all he wants to, studio in New York, clubs—"
"Oh, Richard has his troubles," Sidney said. "His wife is very
delicate, and they lost their little girl... Are you angry with me
about anything, Barry?" she broke off, puzzled and distressed, for
this unresponsive almost sullen manner was unlike anything she had
ever seen in him.
But a moment later he turned toward her with his familiar sunny
"Why didn't you say so before?" he said sheepishly.
"Say—?" she echoed bewilderedly. Then, with a sudden rush of
enlightenment, "Why, Barry, you're not JEALOUS?"
A second later she would have given much to have the words unsaid.
They faced each other in silence, the color mounting steadily in
"I didn't mean of ME," she stammered uncomfortably; "I meant of
everything. I thought—but it was a silly thing to say. It sounded—
I didn't think—"
"I don't know why you shouldn't have thought it, since I was fool
enough to show it," said Barry after a moment, coming over to her
desk and facing her squarely. Sidney stood up, opposite him, her
heart beating wildly. "And I don't know why I shouldn't be jealous,"
he went on steadily, "at the idea that some old friend might come in
here and take you away from Santa Paloma. You asked me if it was old
Rogers' going that made a difference to me—"
"I know," interrupted Sidney, scarlet-cheeked. "PLEASE"—
"But you know better than that," Barry went on, his voice rising a
little. "You know what you have done for me. If ever I try to speak
of it, you say, as you said about the kid just now, 'My dear boy, I
like to do it.' But I'm going to say what I mean now, once and for
all. You loaned me money, and it was through your lending it that I
got credit to borrow more; you gave me a chance to be my own master;
you showed you had faith in me; you reminded me of the ambition I had
as a kid, before Hetty and all that trouble had crushed it out of me;
you came down here to the office and talked and planned, and took it
for granted that I was going to pull myself together and stop idling,
and kicking, and fooling away my time; and all through these six weeks
of rough sailing, you've let me go up there to the Hall and tell you
everything—and then you wonder if I could ever be jealous!" His tone,
which had risen almost to violence, fell suddenly. He went back to his
desk and began to straighten the papers there, not seeing what he did.
"I never can say anything more to you, Sidney, I've said too much
now," he said a little huskily; "but I'm glad to have you know how I
Sidney stood quite still, her breath coming and going quickly. She
was fundamentally too honest a woman to meet the situation with one
of the hundred insincerities that suggested themselves to her. She
knew she was to blame, and she longed to undo the mischief, and put
their friendship back where it had been only an hour ago. But the
right words did not suggest themselves, and she could only stand
silently watching him. Barry had opened a book, and, holding it in
both hands, was apparently absorbed in its contents.
Neither had spoken or moved, and Sidney was meditating a sudden,
wordless departure, when Ellen Burgoyne burst noisily into the room.
Ellen was a square, splendid child, always conversationally inclined,
and never at a loss for a subject.
"You look as if you wanted to cry, Mother," said she. "Perhaps you
didn't hear the whistle; school's out. We've been waiting ever so
long. Mother, I know you said you hoped Heaven would not send any
more dogs our way for a long while, but Jo and Jeanette and I found
one by the school fence. Mother, you will say it has the most
pathetic face you ever saw when you see it. Its ear was bloody, and
it licked Jo's hand so GENTLY, and it's such a lit-tul dog! Jo has it
wrapped up in her coat. Mother, may we have it? Please, PLEASE—"
Barry wheeled about with his hearty laugh, and Mrs. Burgoyne,
laughing too, stopped the eager little mouth with a kiss.
"It sounds as if we must certainly have him, Baby!" said she.
The new mistress of the Hall, in her vigorous young interest in all
things, included naturally a keen enjoyment of the village love
affairs, she liked to hear the histories of the old families all
about, she wanted to know the occupants of every shabby old surrey
that drew up at the post-office while the mail was being "sorted."
But if the conversation turned to mere idle talk and speculation, she
was conspicuously silent. And upon an occasion when Mrs. Adams
casually referred to a favorite little piece of scandal, Mrs.
Burgoyne gave the conversation a sudden twist that, as Mrs. White,
who was present, said later, "made you afraid to call your soul your
"Do you tell me that that pretty little Thorne girl is actually
meeting this young man, whoever he is, while her mother thinks she is
taking a music lesson?" demanded Mrs. Burgoyne, suddenly entering into
the conversation. "There's nothing against him, I suppose? She COULD
see him at home."
"Oh, no, he's a nice enough little fellow," Mrs. White said, "but
she's a silly little thing, and I imagine her people are very severe
with her; she never goes to dances or seems to have any fun."
"I wonder if we couldn't go see the mother, and hint that there is
beginning to be a little talk about Katherine," mused Mrs. Burgoyne.
"Don't you think so, Mrs. Adams?"
"Oh, my goodness!" Mrs. Adams said nervously, "I don't KNOW
anything about it! I wouldn't for the world—I never dreamed—one
would hate to start trouble—Mr. Adams is very fond of the Thornes—"
"But we ought to save her if we can, we married women who know how
mischievous that sort of thing is," Mrs. Burgoyne urged.
"Why, probably they've not met but once or twice!" Mrs. White said,
annoyed, but with a comfortable air of closing the subject, and no
more was said at the time. But both she and Mrs. Adams were a little
uneasy two or three days later, when, returning from a motor trip,
they saw Mrs. Burgoyne standing at the Thornes' gate, in laughing
conversation with pretty little Katherine and her angular, tall
"And there is nothing in that story at all," said Mrs. Burgoyne
later, to Mrs. Carew.
"I suppose you walked up and said, 'If you are Miss Thorne, you are
clandestinely meeting Joe Turner down by the old mill every week!'"
laughed Mrs. Carew,
"I managed it very nicely," Mrs. Burgoyne said, "I admired their
yellow rose one day, as I passed the gate. Mrs. Thorne was standing
there, and I asked if it wasn't a Banksia. Then the little girl came
out of the house, and she happened to know who I am—"
"Astonishingly bright child!" said Mrs. Carew.
"Well, and then we talked roses, and the father came home—a nice
old man. And I asked him if he'd lend me Miss Thorne now and then to
play duets—and he agreed. So the child's been up to the Hall once or
twice, and she's a nice little thing. She doesn't care tuppence for
the Turner boy, but he's musical, and she's quite music-mad, and now
and then they 'accidentally' meet. Her father won't let anyone see her
at the house. She wants to study abroad, but they can't afford it, I
imagine, so I've written to see if I can interest a friend of mine in
Berlin—But why do you smile?" she broke off to ask innocently.
"At the thought of your friend in Berlin!" said Mrs. Carew
audaciously. For she was not at all awed by Mrs. Burgoyne now.
Indeed, she and Mrs. Brown were growing genuinely fond of their new
neighbor, and the occupants of the Hall supplied them with constant
amusement and interest. Great lady and great heiress Sidney Burgoyne
might be, but she lived a life far simpler than their own, and loved
to have them come in for a few minutes' talk even if she were cutting
out cookies, with Joanna and Ellen leaning on the table, or feeding
the chickens whose individual careers interested her so deeply. She
walked with the little girls to school every morning, and met them
near the school at one o'clock. In the meantime she made a visit to
the Mail office, and perhaps spent an hour or two there, or in the
markets; but at least three times a week she wandered over to Old
Paloma, and spent the forenoon in the dingy streets across the river.
What she did there, perhaps no one but Doctor Brown, who came to have
a real affection and respect for her, fully appreciated. Mrs. Burgoyne
would tell him, when they met in some hour of life or death, that she
was "making friends." It was quite true. She was the type of woman who
cannot pass a small child in the street. She must stop, and ask
questions, decide disputes and give advice. And through the children
she won the big brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers of Old
Paloma. Even a deep-rooted prejudice against the women of her class
and their method of dealing with the less fortunate could not prevail
against her disarming, friendly manner, her simple gown and hat, her
eagerness to get the new baby into her arms; all these told in her
favor, and she became very popular in the shabby little settlement
across the bridge. She would sit at a sewing-machine and show old Mrs.
Goodspeed how to turn a certain hem, she would prescribe barley-water
and whey for the Barnes baby, she would explain to Mrs. Ryan the
French manner of cooking tough meat, it is true; but, on the other
hand, she let pale little discouraged Mrs. Weber, of the Bakery, show
her how to make a German potato pie, and when Mrs. Ryan's mother, old
Mrs. Lynch, knitted her a shawl, with clean, thin old work-worn hands,
the tears came into her bright eyes as she accepted the gift. So it
was no more than a neighborly give-and-take after all. Mrs. Burgoyne
would fall into step beside a factory girl, walking home at sunset.
"How was it today, Nellie? Did you speak to the foreman about an
opening for your sister?" the rich, interested voice would ask. Or
perhaps some factory lad would find her facing him in a lane. "Tell
me, Joe, what's all this talk of trouble between you and the Lacy boys
at the rink?"
"I'm a widow, too," she reminded poor little Mrs. Peevy, one day,
"I understand." "Do let me send you the port wine I used to take after
Ellen was born," she begged one little sickly mother, and when she
loaned George Manning four hundred dollars to finish his new house,
and get his wife and babies up from San Francisco, the transaction
was made palatable to George by her encouraging: "Everyone borrows
money for building, I assure you. I know my father did repeatedly."
When more subtle means were required, she was still equal to the
occasion. It was while Viola Peet was in the hospital for a burned
wrist that Mrs. Burgoyne made a final and effective attempt to move
poor little Mrs. Peet out of the bedroom where she had lain
complaining, ever since the accident that had crippled her and killed
her husband five years before. Mrs. Burgoyne put it as a "surprise for
Viola," and Mrs. Peet, whose one surviving spark of interest in life
centred in her three children, finally permitted carpenters to come
and build a porch outside her dining-room, and was actually
transferred, one warm June afternoon, to the wide, delicious
hammock-bed that Mrs. Burgoyne had hung there. Her eyes, dulled with
staring at a chocolate wall-paper, and a closet door, for five years,
roved almost angrily over the stretch of village street visible from
the porch; the perspective of tree-smothered roofs and feathery elm
and locust trees.
"'Tisn't a bit more than I'd do for you if I was rich and you
poor," said Mrs. Peet, rebelliously.
"Oh, I know that!" said Mrs. Burgoyne, busily punching pillows.
"An', as you say, Viola deserves all I c'n do for her," pursued the
invalid. "But remember, every cent of this you git back."
"Every cent, just as soon as Lyman is old enough to take a job,"
agreed Mrs. Burgoyne. "There, how's that? That's the way Colonel
Burgoyne liked to be fixed."
"You're to make a note of just what it costs," persisted Mrs. Peet,
"this wrapper, and the pillers, and all."
"Oh, let the wrapper be my present to you, Mrs. Peet!"
"No, MA'AM!" said Mrs. Peet, firmly. And she told the neighbors,
later, in the delightfully exciting afternoon and evening that
followed her installation on the porch, that she wasn't an object of
charity, and she and Mrs. Burgoyne both knew it. Mrs. Burgoyne would
not stay to see Viola's face, when she came home from the hospital to
find her mother watching the summer stars prick through the warm
darkness, but Viola came up to the Hall that same evening, and tried
to thank Mrs. Burgoyne, and laughed and cried at once, and had to be
consoled with cookies and milk until the smiles had the upper hand,
and she could go home, with occasional reminiscent sobs still shaking
her bony little chest.
"What are you trying to do over there?" asked Dr. Brown, coming in
with his wife for a rubber of bridge, as Viola departed. "Whereever I
go, I come across your trail. Are we nursing a socialist in our
"No-o-o, I don't think I'm that," said Sidney laughing, and pushing
the porch-chairs into comfortable relation. "Let's sit out here until
Mr. Valentine comes. No, I'm not a socialist. But I can't help feeling
that there's SOME solution for a wretched problem like that over
there," a wave of the hand indicated Old Paloma, "and perhaps,
dabbling aimlessly about in all sorts of places, one of us may hit
"But I thought the modern theory was against dabbling," said Mrs.
Brown, a little timidly, for she held a theory that she was not
"smart." "I thought everything was being done by institutions, and by
"Nothing will ever be done by legislation, to my thinking at
least," Mrs. Burgoyne said. "A few years ago we legislated some
thousands of new babies into magnificent institutions. Nurses mixed
their bottles, doctors inspected them, nurses turned them and washed
them and watched them. Do you know what percentage survived?"
"Doesn't work very well," said the doctor, shaking a thoughtful
head over his pipe.
"Just one hundred per cent didn't survive!" said Mrs. Burgoyne.
"Now they take a foundling or an otherwise unfortunate baby, and give
it to a real live mother. She nurses it if she can, she keeps near to
it and cuddles it, and loves it. And so it lives. In all the asylums,
it's the same way. Groups are getting smaller and smaller, a dozen
girls with a matron in a cottage, and hundreds of girls 'farmed out'
with good, responsible women, instead of enormous refectories and
dormitories and schoolrooms. And the ideal solution will be when every
individual woman in the world extends her mothering to include every
young thing she comes in contact with; one doll for her own child and
another doll for the ashman's little girl, one dimity for her own
debutante, and another just as dainty for the seventeen-year-old who
brings home the laundry every week."
"Yes, but that's puttering here and there," asserted Mrs. Brown,
"wouldn't laws for a working wage do all that, and more, too?"
"In the first place, a working wage doesn't solve it," Mrs.
Burgoyne answered vigorously, "because in fully half the mismanaged
and dirty homes, the working people HAVE a working wage, have an
amount of money that would amaze you! Who buys the willow plumes, and
the phonographs, and the enlarged pictures, and the hair combs and the
white shoes that are sold by the million every year? The poor people,
girls in shops, and women whose babies are always dirty, and always
broken out with skin trouble, and whose homes are hot and dirty and
miserable and mismanaged."
"Well, make some laws to educate 'em then, if it's education they
all need," suggested the doctor, who had been auditing every clause
of the last remark with a thoughtful nod.
"No, wages aren't the question," Mrs. Burgoyne reiterated. "Why, I
knew a little Swedish woman once, who raised three children on three
hundred dollars a year."
"She COULDN'T!" ejaculated Mrs. Brown.
"Oh, but she did! She paid one dollar a week for rent, too. One son
is a civil engineer, now, and the daughter is a nurse. The youngest
is studying medicine."
"But what did they EAT, do you suppose?"
"Oh, I don't know. Potatoes, I suppose, and oatmeal and baked
cabbage, and soup. I know she got a quart of buttermilk every day,
for three cents. They were beautiful children. They went to free
schools, and lectures, and galleries, and park concerts, and free
dispensaries, when they needed them. Laws could do no more for her,
she knew her business."
"Well, education WOULD solve it then," concluded Mrs. Brown.
"I don't know." Mrs. Burgoyne answered, reflectively, "Book
education won't certainly. But example might, I believe example
"You mean for people of a better class to go and live among them?"
suggested the doctor.
"No, but I mean for people of a better class to show them that what
they are striving for isn't vital, after all. I mean for us to so
order our lives that they will begin to value cleanliness, and
simplicity, and the comforts they can afford. You know, Mary Brown,"
said Mrs. Burgoyne, turning suddenly to the doctor's wife, with her
gay, characteristic vehemence, "it's all our fault, all the misery
and suffering and sin of it, everywhere!"
"Our fault! You and me!" cried Mrs. Brown, aghast.
"No, all the fault of women, I mean!" Mrs. Burgoyne laughed too as
Mrs. Brown settled back in her chair with a relieved sigh. "We
women," she went on vigorously, "have mismanaged every separate work
that was ever put into our hands! We ought to be ashamed to live. We
"Here!" said the doctor, smiling in lazy comfort over his pipe,
"that's heresy! I refuse to listen to it. My wife is a woman, my
mother, unless I am misinformed, was another—"
"Don't mind him!" said Mrs. Brown, "but go on! What have we all
done? We manage our houses, and dress our children, and feed our
husbands, it seems to me."
"Well, there's the big business of motherhood," began Mrs.
Burgoyne, "the holiest and highest thing God ever let a mortal do. We
evade it and ignore it to such an extent that the nation—and other
nations— grows actually alarmed, and men begin to frame laws to coax
us back to the bearing of children. Then, if we have them, we turn the
entire responsibility over to other people. A raw little foreigner of
some sort answers the first questions our boys and girls ask, until
they are old enough to be put under some nice, inexperienced young
girl just out of normal school, who has fifty or sixty of them to
manage, and of whose ideas upon the big questions of life we know
absolutely nothing. We say lightheartedly that 'girls always go
through a trying age,' and that we suppose boys 'have to come in
contact with things,' and we let it go at that! We 'suppose there has
always been vice, and always will be,' but we never stop to think that
we ourselves are setting the poor girls of the other world such an
example in the clothes we wear, and the pleasures we take, that they
will sell even themselves for pretty gowns and theatre suppers. We
regret sweat-shops, even while we patronize the stores that support
them, and we bemoan child-labor, although I suppose the simplest thing
in the world would be to find out where the cotton goes that is worked
by babies, and refuse to buy those brands of cotton, and make our
merchants tell us where they DO get their supply! We have managed our
household problem so badly that we simply can't get help—"
"You CANNOT do your own work, with children," said Mrs. Brown
"Of course you can't. But why is it that our nice young American
girls won't come into our homes? Why do we have to depend upon the
most ignorant and untrained of our foreign people? Our girls pour
into the factories, although our husbands don't have any trouble in
getting their brothers for office positions. There is always a line
of boys waiting for a possible job at five dollars a week."
"Because they can sleep at home," submitted the doctor.
"You know that, other things being equal, young people would much
rather not sleep at home," said Mrs. Burgoyne, "it's the migrating
age. They love the novelty of being away at night."
"Well, when a boy comes into my office," the doctor reasoned
slowly, "he knows that he has certain unimportant things to do, but he
sees me taking all the real responsibility, he knows that I work
harder than he does."
"Exactly," said Mrs. Burgoyne. "Men do their own work, with help.
We don't do ours. Not only that, but every improvement that comes to
ours comes from men. They invent our conveniences, they design our
stoves and arrange our sinks. Not because they know anything about
it, but because we're not interested."
"One would think you had done your own work for twenty years!" said
"I never did it," Mrs. Burgoyne answered smiling, "but I sometimes
wish I could. I sometimes envy those busy women who have small
houses, new babies, money cares—it must be glorious to rise to fresh
emergencies every hour of your life. A person like myself is
handicapped. I can't demonstrate that I believe what I say. Everyone
thinks me merely a little affected about it. If I were such a woman,
I'd glory in clipping my life of everything but the things I needed,
and living like one of my own children, as simply as a lot of
"And no one would ever be any the wiser," said Mrs. Brown.
"I don't know. Quiet little isolated lives have a funny way of
getting out into the light. There was that little peasant girl at
Domremy, for instance; there was that gentle saint who preached
poverty to the birds; there was Eugenie Guerin, and the Cure of Ars,
and the few obscure little English weavers—and there was the
President who split—"
"I thought we'd come to him!" chuckled the doctor.
"Well," Mrs. Burgoyne smiled, a little confused at having betrayed
hero-worship. "Well, and there was one more, the greatest of all, who
didn't found any asylums, or lead any crusade—" She paused.
"Surely," said the doctor, quietly. "Surely. I suppose that curing
the lame here, and the blind there, and giving the people their fill
of wine one day, and of bread and fishes the next, might be called
'dabbling' in these days. But the love that went with those things is
warming the world yet!"
"Well, but what can we DO?" demanded Mrs. Brown after a short
"That's for us to find out," said Mrs. Burgoyne, cheerfully.
"A correct diagnosis is half a cure," ended the doctor, hopefully.
Barry was the last guest to reach Holly Hall on the evening of Mrs.
Burgoyne's first dinner-party, and came in to find the great painter
who was her guest the centre of a laughing and talking group in the
long drawing-room. Mrs. Apostleman, with an open book of
reproductions from Whistler on her broad, brocade lap, had the
armchair next to the guest of honor, and Barry's quick look for his
hostess discovered her on a low hassock at the painter's knee,
looking very young and fresh, in her white frock, with a LaMarque
rose at her belt and another in her dark hair. She greeted him very
gravely, almost timidly, and in the new self-consciousness that had
suddenly come to them both it was with difficulty that even the
commonplace words of greeting were accomplished, and it was with
evident relief that she turned from him to ask her guests to come
into the dining-room.
Warm daylight was still pouring into the drawing-room at seven
o'clock, and in the pleasant dining-room, too, there was no other
light. The windows here were wide open, and garden scents drifted in
from the recently watered flower-beds. The long table, simply set,
was ornamented only by low bowls of the lovely San Rafael roses.
Guided and stimulated by the hostess, the conversation ran in a
gay, unbroken stream, for the painter liked to talk, and Santa Paloma
enjoyed him. But under it all the women guests were aware of an
almost resentful amazement at the simplicity of the dinner. When,
after nine o'clock, the ladies went into the drawing-room and settled
about a snapping wood fire, Mrs. Lloyd could not resist whispering to
Mrs. Apostleman, "For a COMPANY dinner!" Mrs. Adams was entirely
absorbed in deciding just what position she would take when Mrs. White
alluded to the affair the next day; but Mrs. White had come primed for
special business this evening, and she took immediate advantage of the
absence of the men to speak to Mrs. Burgoyne.
"As president of our little club," said she, when they were all
seated, "I am authorized to ask you if I may put your name up for
membership, Mrs. Burgoyne. We are all members here, and in this quiet
place our meetings are a real pleasure, and I hope an education as
"Oh, really—!" Mrs. Burgoyne began, but the other went on
"I brought one of our yearly programs, we have just got them out,
and I'm going to leave it with you. I think Mr. White left it here on
the table. Yes; here it is. You see," she opened a dainty little book
and flattened it with a white, jeweled hand, "our work is all laid
out, up to the president's breakfast in March. I go out then, and a
week later we inaugurate the new president. Let me just run over this
for you, for I KNOW it will interest you. Now here, Tuesdays. Tuesday
is our regular meeting day. We have a program, music, and books
suggested for the week, reports, business, and one good paper—the
topics vary; here's 'Old Thanksgiving Customs,' in November, then a
debate, 'What is Friendship,' then 'Christmas Spirit,' and then our
regular Christmas Tree and Jinks. Once a month, on Tuesday, we have
some really fine speaker from the city, and we often have fine
singers, and so on. Then we have a monthly reception for our visitors,
and a supper; usually we just have tea and bread-and-butter after the
meetings. Then, first Monday, Directors' Meeting; that doesn't matter.
Every other Wednesday the Literary Section meets, they are doing
wonderful work; Miss Foster has that; she makes it very interesting.
'What English Literature Owes to Meredith,' 'Rossetti, the Man,'—you
see I'm just skimming, to give you some idea. Then the Dramatic
Section, every other Thursday; they give a play once a year; that's
great fun! 'Ibsen— Did he Understand Women?' 'Please Explain—Mr.
Shaw?'—Mrs. Moore makes that very amusing. Then alternate Thursdays
the Civic and Political Section—"
"Ah! What does that do?" said Mrs. Burgoyne.
"Why," said Mrs. White hesitating, "I haven't been—however, I
think they took up the sanitation of the schools; Miss Jewett, from
Sacramento, read a splendid paper about it. There's a committee to
look into that, and then last year that section planted a hundred
trees. And then there's parliamentary drill."
"Which we all need," said Mrs. Adams, and there was laughter.
"Then there's the Art Department once a month," resumed Mrs. White,
"Founders' Day, Old-Timers' Day, and, in February, we think Judge
Lindsey may address us—"
"Oh, are you doing any juvenile-court work?" said the hostess.
"We wanted his suggestions about it," Mrs. White said. "We feel
that if we COULD get some of the ladies interested—! Then here's the
French class once a week; German, Spanish, and the bridge club on
"Gracious! You use your clubhouse," said Mrs. Burgoyne.
"Nearly every day. So come on Tuesday," said the president
winningly, "and be our guest. A Miss Carroll is to sing, and
Professor Noyesmith, of Berkeley, will read a paper on: 'The City
Beautiful.' Keep that year-book; I butchered it, running through it
"Well, just now," Mrs. Burgoyne began a little hesitatingly, "I'm
rather busy. I am at the Mail office while the girls are in school,
you know, and we have laid out an enormous lot of gardening for
afternoons. They never tire of gardening if I'm with them, but, of
course, no children will do that sort of thing alone; and it's doing
them both so much good that I don't want to stop it. Then they study
German and Italian with me, and on Saturday have a cooking lesson.
You see, my time is pretty full."
"But a good governess would take every bit of that off your hands,
me dear," said Mrs. Apostleman.
"Oh, but I love to do it!" protested Mrs. Burgoyne with her wide-
eyed, childish look. "You can't really buy for them what you can do
yourself, do you think so? And now the other children are beginning
to come in, and it's such fun! But that isn't all. I have editorial
work to do, besides the Mail, you know. I manage the 'Answers to
Mothers' column in a little eastern magazine. I daresay you've never
seen it; it is quite unpretentious, but it has a large circulation.
And these mothers write me, some of them factory-workers, or mothers
of child-workers even, or lonely women on some isolated ranch; you've
no idea how interesting it is! Of course they don't know who I am, but
we become good friends, just the same. I have the best reference books
about babies and sickness, and I give them the best advice I can.
Sometimes it's a boy's text-book that is wanted, or a second-hand
crib, or some dear old mother to get into a home, and they are so
self-respecting about it, and so afraid they aren't paying fair—I
love that work! But, of course, it takes time. Then I've been hunting
up a music-teacher for the girls. I can't teach them that—"
"I meant to speak to you of that," Mrs. White said. "There's a
Monsieur Posti, Emil Posti, he studied with Leschetizky, you know,
who comes up from San Francisco every other week, and we all take
from him. In between times—"
"Oh, but I've engaged a nice little Miss Davids from Old Paloma,"
said Mrs. Burgoyne.
"From Old Paloma!" echoed three women together. And Mrs. Apostleman
added heavily, "Never heard of her!"
"I got a good little Swedish sewing-woman over there," the hostess
explained, "and she told me of this girl. She's a sweet girl; no
mother, and a little sister to bring up. She was quite pleased."
"But, good heavens! What does she know? What's her method?"
demanded Mrs. White in puzzled disapproval.
"She has a pretty touch," Mrs. Burgoyne said mildly, "and she's
bristling with ambition and ideas. She's not a genius, perhaps; but,
then, neither is either of the girls. I just want them to play for
their own pleasure, read accompaniments; something of that sort.
Don't you know how popular the girl who can play college songs always
is at a house-party?"
"Well, really—" Mrs. White began, almost annoyed; but she broke
her sentence off abruptly, and Mrs. Apostleman filled the pause.
"Whatever made ye go over there for a dress-maker?" she demanded.
"We never think of going there. There's a very good woman here, in
the Bank Building—"
"Madame Sorrel," supplemented Mrs. Adams.
"She's fearfully independent," Mrs. Lloyd contributed; "but she's
good. She made your pink, didn't she, Sue? Wayne said she did."
Mrs. Adams turned pink herself; the others laughed suddenly.
"Oh, you naughty girl!" Mrs. White said. "Did you tell Wayne you
got that frock in Santa Paloma?"
"What Wayne doesn't know won't hurt him," said his wife. "Sh! Here
they come!" And the conversation terminated abruptly, with much
Mrs. Burgoyne's dinner-party dispersed shortly after ten o'clock,
so much earlier than was the custom in Santa Paloma that none of the
ordered motor-cars were in waiting. The guests walked home together,
absorbed in an animated conversation; for the gentlemen, who were
delighted to be getting home early, delighted with a dinner that, as
Wayne Adams remarked, "really stood for something to eat, not just
things passed to you, or put down in dabs before you," and delighted
with the pleasant informality of sitting down in daylight, were
enthusiastic in their praise of Mrs. Burgoyne. The ladies differed
"She knows how to do things," said Parker Lloyd. "Old Von Praag
himself said that she was a famous dinner-giver."
"I don't know what you'd say, Wayne," said Mrs. Adams patiently,
"if _I_ asked people to sit down to the dinner we had to-night! Of
course we haven't eight millions, but I would be ashamed to serve a
cocktail, a soup—I frankly admit it was delicious—steaks, plain
lettuce salad, and fruit. I don't count coffee and cheese. No wines,
no entrees; I think it was decidedly QUEER."
"I wish some of you others would try it," said Willard White
unexpectedly. "I never get dinners like that, except at the club,
down in town. The cocktail was a rare sherry, the steaks were broiled
to a turn, and the salad dressing was a wonder. She had her cheese
just ripe enough, and samovar coffee to wind up with—what more do you
want? I serve wine myself, but champagne keeps you thirsty all night,
and other wines put me to sleep. I don't miss wine! I call it a
bang-up dinner, don't you, Parker?"
Parker Lloyd, with his wife on his arm, felt discretion his part.
"Well," he said innocently selecting the one argument most
distasteful to the ladies, "it was a man's dinner, Will. It was just
what a man likes, served the way he likes it. But if the girls like
flummery and fuss, I don't see why they shouldn't have it."
"Really!" said Mrs. White with a laugh that showed a trace of
something not hilarious, "really, you are all too absurd! We are a
long way from the authorities here, but I think we will find out
pretty soon that simple dinners have become the fad in Washington, or
Paris, and that your marvelous Mrs. Burgoyne is simply following the
fashion like all the rest of us."
Barry had murmured something about "rush of work at the office"
when he came in a few minutes late for Mrs. Burgoyne's dinner, but as
the evening wore on, he seemed in no hurry to depart. Sidney was
delighted to see him really in his element with the Von Praags,
father and son, the awakened expression that was so becoming to him
on his face, and his curiously complex arguments stirring the old man
over and over again to laughter. She had been vexed at herself for
feeling a little shyness when he first came in; the unfamiliar evening
dress and the gravity of his handsome face had made him seem almost a
stranger, but this wore off, and after the other guests had gone these
four still sat laughing and talking like the best of old friends
When the Von Praags had gone upstairs, she walked with him to the
porch, and they stood at the top of the steps for a moment, the rich
scent of the climbing LaMarque and Banksia roses heavy about them,
and the dark starry arch of the sky above. Sidney, a little tired,
but pleased with her dinner and her guests, and ready for a breath of
the sweet summer night before going upstairs, was confused by having
her heart suddenly begin to thump again. She looked at Barry, his
figure lost in the shadow, only his face dimly visible in the
starlight, and some feeling, new, young, terrifying, and yet
infinitely delicious, rushed over her. She might have been a girl of
seventeen instead of a sober woman fifteen years older, with
wifehood, and motherhood, and widowhood all behind her.
"A wonderful night!" said Barry, looking down at the dark mass of
tree-tops that almost hid the town, and at the rising circle of
shadows that was the hills.
"And a good place to be, Santa Paloma," Sidney added, contentedly.
"It's my captured dream, my own home and garden!" With her head
resting against one of the pillars of the porch, her eyes dreamily
moving from the hills to the sky and over the quiet woods, she went
on thoughtfully: "You know I never had a home, Barry; and when I
visited here, I began to realize what I was missing. How I longed for
Santa Paloma, the creek, and the woods, and my little sunny room after
I went away! But even when I was eighteen, and we took a house in
Washington, what could I do? I 'came out,' you know. I loved gowns and
parties then, as I hope the girls will some day; but I knew all the
while it wasn't living." She paused, but Barry did not speak. "And,
then, before I was twenty, I was married," Sidney went on presently,
"and we started off for St. Petersburg. And after that, for years and
years, I posed for dressmakers; I went the round of jewelers, and
milliners, and manicures; I wrote notes and paid calls. I let one
strange woman come in every day and wash my hands for me, and another
wash my hair, and a third dress me! I let men— who were in the
business simply to make money, and who knew how to do it!—tell me
that my furs must be recut, or changed, and my jewels reset, and my
wardrobe restocked and my furniture carried away and replaced. And in
the cities we lived in it's horrifying to see how women slave, and
toil, and worry to keep up. Half the women I knew were sick over debts
and the necessity for more debts. I felt like saying, with Carlyle,
'Your chaos-ships must excuse me'; I'm going back to Santa Paloma, to
wear my things as long as they are whole and comfortable, and do what
I want to do with my spare time!"
"You missed your playtime," Barry said; "now you make the most of
"Oh, no!" she answered, giving him a glimpse of serious eyes in the
half-dark, "playtime doesn't come back. But, at least, I know what I
want to do, and it will be more fun than any play. One of the wisest
men I ever knew set me thinking of these things. He's a sculptor, a
great sculptor, and he lives in an olive garden in Italy, and eats
what his peasants eat, and befriends them, and stands for their
babies in baptism, and sits with them when they're dying. My father
and I visited him about two years ago, and one day when he and I were
taking a tramp, I suddenly burst out that I envied him. I wanted to
live in an olive garden, too, and wear faded blue clothes, and eat
grapes, and tramp about the hills. He said very simply that he had
worked for twenty years to do it. 'You see, I'm a rich man,' he said,
'and it seems that one must be rich in this world before one dare be
poor from choice. I couldn't do this if people didn't know that I
could have an apartment in Paris, and servants, and motor-cars, and
all the rest of it. It would hurt my daughters and distress my
friends. There are hundreds and thousands of unhappy people in the
world who can't afford to be poor, and if ever you get a chance, you
try it. You'll never be rich again.' So I wrote him about a month ago
that I had found MY olive garden," finished Sidney contentedly, "and
was enjoying it."
"Captain Burgoyne was older than you, Sid?" Barry questioned.
"Wouldn't he have loved this sort of life?"
"Twenty years older, yes; but he wouldn't have lived here for one
DAY!" she answered vivaciously. "He was a diplomat, a courtier to his
finger-tips. He was born to the atmosphere of hothouse flowers, and
salons, and delightful little drawing-room plots and gossip. He loved
politics, and power, and women in full dress, and men with orders. Of
course I was very new to it all, but he liked to spoil me, draw me
out. If it hadn't been for his accident, I never would have grown up
at all, I dare say. As it was, I was more like his mother. We went to
Washington for the season, New York for the opera, England for autumn
visits, Paris for the spring: I loved to make him happy, Barry, and he
wasn't happy except when we were going, going, going. He was
exceptionally popular; he had exceptional friends, and he couldn't go
anywhere without me. My babies were with his mother—"
She paused, turning a white rose between her fingers. "And
afterwards," she said presently, "there was Father. And Father never
would spend two nights in the same place if he could help it,"
"I wasn't drawn back here as you were," said Barry thoughtfully, "I
liked New York; I could have made good there if I'd had a chance. It
made me sick to give it up, then; but lately I've been feeling
differently. A newspaper's a pretty influential thing, wherever it
is. I've been thinking about that clubhouse plan of yours; I wish to
the Lord that we could do something for those poor kids over there.
You're right. Those girls have rotten homes. The whole family gathers
in the parlor right after dinner. Pa takes his shoes off, and props
his socks up before the stove; Ma begins to hear a kid his spelling;
and other kids start the graphophone, and Aggie is expected to ask her
young man to walk right in. So after that she meets him in the street,
and the girls begin to talk about Aggie."
"Oh, Barry, I'm so glad you're interested!" Standing a step above
him, Sidney's ardent face was very close to his own. "Of course we
can do it," she said.
"We!" he echoed almost bitterly. "YOU'LL do it; you're the one—"
He broke off with a short, embarrassed laugh. "I was going to cut that
sort of thing out," he said gruffly, "but all roads lead to Rome, it
seems. I can't talk to you five minutes without—and I've got to go.
I said I'd look in at the office."
"You seem to be afraid to be friendly lately, Barry," said Mrs.
Burgoyne in a hurt voice, flinging away the rose she had been
holding, "but don't you think our friendship means something to me,
too? I don't like you to talk as if I did all the giving and you all
the taking. I don't know how the girls and I would get along without
your advice and help here at the Hall. I think," her voice broke into
a troubled laugh, "I think you forget that the quality of friendship
is not strained."
"Sidney," he said with sudden resolution, turning to face her
bravely, "I can't be just friends with you. You're so much the
finest, so much the best—" He left the sentence unfinished, and
began again: "You have a hundred men friends; you can't realize what
you mean to me. You—but you know what you are, and I'm the editor of
a mortgaged country paper, a man who has made a mess of things, who
can't take care of his kid, or himself, on his job without help- -"
"Barry—" she began breathlessly, but he interrupted her.
"Listen to me," he said huskily, taking both her warm hands in his,
"I want to tell you something. Say that I WAS weak enough to forget
all that, your money and my poverty, your life and my life,
everything that puts you as far above me as the moon and stars; say
that I could do that—although I hope it's not true—even then—even
then I'm not free, Sidney. There is Hetty, you know; there is Billy's
There was a silence. Sidney slowly freed her hands, laid one upon
her heart as unconsciously as a hurt child, and the other upon his
shoulder. Her troubled eyes searched his face.
"Barry," she said with a little effort, "have I been mistaken in
thinking Billy's mother was dead?"
"Everyone thinks so," he answered with a quick rush of words that
showed how great the relief of speech was. "Even up in Hetty's home
town, Plumas, they think so. I wrote home that Hetty had left me, and
they drew their own conclusions. It was natural enough; she was never
strong. She was always restless and unhappy, wanted to go on the
stage. She did go on the stage, you know; her mother advised it, and
she—just left me. We were in New York, then; Bill was a little
shaver; I was having a hard time with a new job. It was an awful
time! After a few months I brought Bill back here—he wasn't very
well—and then I found that everyone thought Hetty was dead. Then her
mother wrote me, and said that Hetty had taken a stage-name, and
begged me to let people go on thinking she was dead, and, more for
the kid's sake than Hetty's, I let things stand. But Hetty's in
California now; she and her mother live in San Francisco; she is
still studying singing, I believe. She gets the rent from two flats I
have there. But she never writes. And that," he finished grimly, "is
the last chapter of my history."
Sidney still stood close to him, earnest, fragrant, lovely, in her
white gown. And even above the troubled tumult of his thoughts Barry
had time to think how honest, how unaffected she was, to stand so,
making no attempt to disguise the confusion in her own mind. For a
long time there was no sound but the vague stir of the night about
them, the faint breath of some wandering breeze, the rustling flight
of some small animal in the dark, the far-hushed, village sounds.
"Thank you, Barry," Sidney said at length. "I'm sorry. I am glad
you told me. Good-night."
"Good-night," he said almost inaudibly. He ran down the steps and
plunged into the dark avenue without a backward look. Sidney turned
slowly, and slowly entered the dimly lighted hall, and shut the door.
"Come down here—we're down by the river!" called Mrs. Burgoyne,
from the shade of the river bank, where she and Mrs. Lloyd were busy
with their sewing. "The American History section is entertaining the
"You look studious!" laughed Mrs. Brown, coming across the grass,
to put the Brown baby upon his own sturdy legs from her tired arms,
and sink into a deep lawn chair. The June afternoon was warm, but it
was delightfully cool by the water. "Is that the club?" she asked,
waving toward the group of children who were wading and splashing in
the shallows of the loitering river.
"That's the American History Club," responded Mrs. Burgoyne, as she
flung her sewing aside and snatched the baby. "Paul," said she,
kissing his warm, moist neck, "do you truly love me a little bit?"
"Boy ge' down," said Paul, struggling violently.
"Yes, you shall, darling. But listen, do you want to hear the tick-
tock? Oh, Paul, sit still just one minute!"
"Awn ge' DOWN," said Paul, distinctly, every fibre of his small
being headed, as it were, for the pebbly shingle where it was daily
his delight to dig.
"But say 'deck' first, sweetheart, say 'Deck, I love you,'"
besought the mistress of the Hall.
"Deck!" shouted Paul obediently, eyes on the river.
"And a sweet kiss!" further stipulated Mrs. Burgoyne, and grabbed
it from his small, red, unresponsive mouth before she let him toddle
away. "Yes," she resumed, going on with the tucking of a small skirt,
"Joanna and Jeanette and the Adams boy have to write an essay this
week about the Battle of Bunker Hill, so I read them Holmes' poem, and
they acted it all out. You never saw anything so delicious. Mrs. Lloyd
came up just in time to see Mabel limping about as the old Corporal!
The cherry tree was the steeple, of course, and both your sons, you'll
be ashamed to hear, were redcoats. Next week they expect to do Paul
Revere, and I daresay we'll have the entire war, before we're through.
You are both cordially invited."
"I'll come," said the doctor's wife, smiling. "I love this garden.
And to take care of the boys and have a good time myself is more than
I ever thought I'd do in this life!"
"I live on this bank," said Mrs. Burgoyne, leaning back luxuriously
in her big chair, to stare idly up through the apple-tree to the blue
sky. "I'm going to teach the children all their history and poetry and
myths, out here. It makes it so real to them, to act it. Jo and Ellen
and I read Barbara Frietchie out here a few weeks ago, and they've
wanted it every day or two, since."
"We won't leave anything for the schools to do," said little Mrs.
"All the better," Mrs. Burgoyne said, cheerfully.
"Well, excuse me!" Mrs. Lloyd, holding the linen cuff she was
embroidering at arm's length, and studying it between half-closed
lids. "I am only too glad to turn Mabel over to somebody else part of
the time. You don't know what she is when she begins to ask
"I don't know anything more tiring than being with children day in
and day out," said Mrs. Brown, "it gets frightfully on your nerves!"
"Oh, I'd like about twelve!" said Mrs. Burgoyne.
"Oh, Mrs. Burgoyne! You WOULDN'T!"
"Yes, I would, granted a moderately secure income, and a rather
roomy country home. Although," added Mrs. Burgoyne, temperately, "I
do honestly think twelve children is too big a family. However, one
may be greedy in wishes!"
"Would you want a child of yours to go without proper advantages,"
said Mrs. Lloyd, a little severely, "would you want more than one or
two, if you honestly felt you couldn't give them all that other
children have? Would you be perfectly willing to have your children
feel at a disadvantage with all the children of your friends? I
wouldn't," she answered herself positively, "I want to do the best by
Mabel, I want her to have everything, as she grows up, that a girl
ought to have. That's why all this nonsense about the size of the
American family makes me so tired! What's the use of bringing a lot of
children into the world that are going to suffer all sorts of
privations when they get here?"
"Privations wouldn't hurt them," said Mrs. Burgoyne, sturdily, "if
it was only a question of patched boots and made-over clothes and
plain food. They could even have everything in the world that's worth
"How do you mean?" said Mrs. Lloyd, promptly defensive.
"I'd gather them about me," mused Sidney Burgoyne, dreamily, her
eyes on the sky, a whimsical smile playing about her mouth, "I'd
gather all seven together—"
"Oh, you've come down to seven?" chuckled Mrs. Brown.
"Well, seven's a good Biblical number," Mrs. Burgoyne said
serenely, "—and I'd say 'Children, all music is yours, all art is
yours, all literature is yours, all history and all philosophy is
waiting to prove to you that in starting poor, healthy, and born of
intelligent and devoted parents, you have a long head-start in the
race of life. All life is ahead of you, friendships, work, play,
tramps through the green country in the spring, fires in winter,
nights under the summer stars. Choose what you like, and work for it,
your father and I can keep you warm and fed through your childhoods,
and after that, nothing can stop you if you are willing to work and
"And then suppose your son asks you why he can't go camping with
the other boys in summer school, and your daughter wants to join the
cotillion?" asked Mrs. Lloyd.
"Why, it wouldn't hurt them to hear me say no," said Mrs. Burgoyne,
in surprise. "I never can understand why parents, who practise every
imaginable self-denial themselves, are always afraid the first
renunciation will kill their child. Sooner or later they are going to
learn what life is. I know a little girl whose parents are multi-
millionaires, and who is going to be told some day soon that her two
older sisters aren't living abroad, as she thinks, but shut up for
life, within a few miles of her. What worse blow could life give to
the poorest girl?"
"Horrors!" murmured Mrs. Brown.
"And those are common cases," Mrs. Burgoyne said eagerly, "I knew
of so many! Pretty little girls at European watering-places whose
mothers are spending thousands, and hundreds of thousands of dollars
to get out of their blood what no earthly power can do away with.
Sons of rich fathers whose valets themselves wouldn't change places
with them! And then the fine, clean, industrious middle-classes—or
upper classes, really, for the blood in their veins is the finest in
the world—are afraid to bring children into the world because of
dancing cotillions and motor-cars!"
"Well, of course I have only four," said Mrs. Brown, "but I've been
married only seven years—"
Mrs. Burgoyne laughed, came to a full stop, and reddened a little
as she went back busily to her sewing.
"Why do you let me run on at such a rate; you know my hobbies now!"
she reproached them. "I am not quite sane on the subject of what
ought to be done—and isn't—in that good old institution called
"That sounds vaguely familiar," said Mrs. Lloyd.
"Woman's sphere? Yes, we hate the sound of it," said Mrs. Burgoyne,
"just as a man who has left his family hates to talk of home ties,
and just as a deserter hates the conversation to come around to the
army. But it's true. Our business is children, and kitchens, and
husbands, and meals, and we detest it all—"
"I like my husband a little," said Mrs. Brown, in a meek little
They all laughed. Then said Mrs. Lloyd, gazing sentimentally toward
the river bank, where her small daughter's twisted curls were tossing
madly in a game of "tag":
"I shall henceforth regard Mabel as a possible Joan of Arc."
"One of those boys MAY be a Lincoln, or a Thomas Edison, or a Mark
Twain," Sidney Burgoyne added, half-laughing, "and then we'll feel
just a little ashamed for having turned him complacently over to a
nurse or a boarding school. Of course, it leaves us free to go to the
club and hear a paper on the childhood of Napoleon, carefully compiled
years after his death. Why, men take heavy chances in their work, they
follow up the slightest opening, but we women throw away opportunities
to be great, every day of our lives! Scientists and theorists are
spending years of their lives pondering over every separate phase of
the development of children, but we, who have the actual material in
our hands, turn it over to nursemaids!"
"Yes, but lots of children disappoint their parents bitterly," said
Mrs. Brown, "and lots of good mothers have bad children!"
"I never knew a good mother to have a bad child—" began Mrs.
"Well, I have. Thousands," Mrs. Lloyd said promptly.
"Oh, no! Not a BAD child," her hostess said, quickly. "A
disappointing child perhaps, or a strong-willed child, you mean. But
no good mother—and that doesn't mean merely a good woman, or a
church-going woman!—could possibly have a really bad child. 'By
their fruits,' you know. And then of course we haven't a perfect
system of nursery training yet; we expect angels. We judge by little,
inessential things, we're exacting about unimportant trifles. We don't
want our sons to marry little fluffy-headed dolls, although the dolls
may make them very good wives. We don't want them to make a success of
real estate, if the tradition of the house is for the bar or the
practice of medicine. And we lose heart at the first suspicion of bad
company, or of drinking; although the best men in the world had those
temptations to fight! But, anyway, I would rather try at that and
fail, than do anything else in the world. My failures at least might
save some other woman's children. And it's just that much more done
for the world than guarding the valuable life of a Pomeranian, or
going to New York for new furs!" They all laughed, for Mrs. Willard
White's latest announcement of her plans had awakened some comment
"Mother, am I interrupting you?" said a patient voice at this
point. Ellen Burgoyne, rosy, dishevelled, panting, stood some ten feet
away, waiting patiently a chance to enter the conversation.
"No, my darling." Her mother held out a welcoming hand. "Oh, I
see," she added, glancing at her watch. "It's half-past four. Yes, you
can go up for the gingerbread now. You mustn't carry the milk, you
"Mother," said Ellen, flashing into radiance at the slightest
encouragement, "have you told them about our Flower Festibul plans?"
"Oh, not yet!" Mrs. Burgoyne heaved a great sigh. "I'm afraid I've
committed myself to an entry for the parade," she told the others
"Oh, don't tell me you're going to compete!" exclaimed Mrs. Brown.
"Well, we're rather afraid we are!" Mrs. Burgoyne's voice, if
fearful, was hopeful too, for Ellen's face was a study. "Why, is it
such a terrible effort?"
"Oh, yes, it's an appalling amount of struggle and fuss, there's
all sorts of red tape, and the flowers are so messy," answered the
doctor's wife warningly, "and this year will be worse than ever. The
Women's Club of Apple Creek is going to enter a carriage, and you
know our club is to have the White's motor; it will be perfectly
exquisite! It's to be all pink carnations, and Mr. White's nephew, a
Berkeley boy, and some of his friends, all in white flannels, are
going to run it. Doctor says there'll be a hundred entries this
"Well, I'm afraid I'm in for it," said Mrs. Burgoyne, with a sigh.
"I haven't the least idea in the world what I'm going to do. It isn't
as if we even had a surrey. But I really was involved before I had
time to think. You know I've been trying, with some of my spare time,"
her eyes twinkled, "to get hold of these little factory and cannery
girls over in Old Paloma."
"You told me," said Mrs. Brown, "but I don't see how that—"
"Well, you see, their ringleader has been particularly ungracious
to me. A fine, superb, big creature she is, named Alice Carter. This
Alice came up to the children and me in the street the other day, and
told me, in the gruffest manner, that she was interested in a little
crippled girl over there, and had promised to take her to see the
Flower Festival. But it seems the child's mother was afraid to trust
her to Alice in the crowd and heat. Quite simply she asked me if I
could manage it. I was tremendously touched, and we went to see the
child. She's a poor, brave little scrap—twelve years old, did she
"Going on thirteen," said Ellen rapidly; "and her father is dead,
and her mother works, and she takes care of such a fat baby, and she
is very gen-tul with him, isn't she, Mother? And she cried when
Mother gave her books, and she can't eat her lunch because her back
aches, but she gave the baby his lunch, and Mother asked her if she
would let a doctor fix her back, and she said, 'Oh, no!'—didn't she,
Mother? She just twisted and twisted her hands, and said, 'I can't.'
And Mother said, 'Mary, if you will be a brave girl about the doctor,
I will make you a pink dress and a wreath of roses, and you shall ride
with the others in the Flower Festibul!' And she just said,
'Oo-oo!'—didn't she, Mother? And she said she thought God sent you,
didn't she, Mother?"
"She did." Mrs. Burgoyne smiled through wet lashes. Mrs. Brown
wiped her own eyes against the baby's fluffy mop. "She's a most
pathetic little creature, this Mary Scott," went on the other woman
when Ellen had dashed away, "and I'm afraid she's not the only one.
There's my Miss Davids' little sister; if I took her in, Miss Davids
would be free for the day; and there's a little deaf-mute whose
mother runs the bakery. And I told Mary we'd manage the baby, too,
and that if she knew any other children who positively couldn't come
any other way, she must let me know. Of course the school children
are cared for, they will have seats right near the grand stand, and
sing, and so on. But I am really terrified about it, you'll have to
help me out."
"I'll do anything," Mrs. Brown promised.
"I'll do anything I CAN," said Mrs. Lloyd, modestly, "I loathe and
abominate children unless they're decently dressed and smell of
soap—but I'll run a machine, if some one'll see that they don't
swarm over me."
"I'll put a barbed wire fence around you!" promised Mrs. Burgoyne,
Mrs. Carew, coming up, as she expressed it, "to gather up some
children," was decidedly optimistic about the plan. "Nobody ever uses
hydrangeas, because you can't make artificial ones to fill in with,"
she said, "so you can get barrels of them." Mrs. Burgoyne was
enthusiastic over hydrangeas, "But it's not the fancy touches that
scare me," she confessed; "it's the awful practical side."
"What does Barry think?" Mrs. Carew presently asked innocently.
Mrs. Burgoyne's suddenly rosy face was not unobserved by any of the
"I haven't seen him for several days, not since the night of my
dinner," she admitted; "I've been lazy, sending my work down to the
office. But I will see him right away."
"He's the one really to have ideas," Mrs. Brown assured her.
So Barry was invited up to the Hall to dinner, and found himself so
instantly swept into the plan that he had no time to be self-
conscious. Dinner was served on the side porch, and the sunlight
filtered across the white cloth, and turned the garden into a place
of enchantment. When Billy and the small girls had seized two cookies
and two peaches apiece, and retired to the lawn to enjoy them, he and
Sidney sat talking on in the pleasant dusk.
"You've asked eight, so far," he said, as she was departing for the
office an hour or so after dinner was finished, "but do you think
"Oh, it positively must be!" Sidney said virtuously, but there was
a wicked gleam in her eye that prepared him for her sudden descent
upon the office two days later, with the startling news that now she
had positively STOPPED, but fourteen children had been asked!
Barry, rather to her surprise, remained calm.
"Well, I've got an idea," he said presently, "that will make that
all right, fourteen children or twenty, it won't make any difference.
Only, it may not appeal to you."
"Oh, it will—and you are an angel!" said the lady fervently.
"I've got a friend up the country here in a lumber-mill," Barry
explained, "Joe Painter—he hauls logs down from the forest to the
river, with a team of eight oxen. Now, if he'd lend them, and you got
a hay-wagon from Old Paloma, you wouldn't have any trouble at all."
"Oh, but Barry," she gasped, her face radiant, "would he lend
"I think he would; he'd have to come too, you know, and drive them.
I'll ride up and see, anyway."
"Oxen," mused Mrs. Burgoyne, "how perfectly glorious! The children
will go wild with joy. And, you see, my Indian boys—"
"I didn't mention them," said Sidney serenely, "because they'll
walk alongside, and won't count in the load. But, you see, some of
those nice little mill-boys who don't go to school heard the girls
talking about it, and one of them asked me—so wistfully!—if there
was anything THEY could do. I immediately thought of Indian costumes."
"But how the deuce will you get the costumes made?" said Barry,
drawing a sheet of paper toward him, and beginning some calculations,
with an anxious eye.
"Why, it's just cheese-cloth for the girls. Mrs. Brown and I have
our machines up in the barn, and Mrs. Carew and Mrs. Adams will come
up and help, there's not much to THAT! Barry, if you will really get
us this—this ox-man—nothing else will worry me at all."
"You'll have to put the beasts up in your barn."
"Oh, surely! Ask him what they eat. Oh, Barry, we MUST have them!
Think how picturesque they'll be! I've been thinking my entry would
be a disgrace to the parade, but I don't believe it will be so bad.
Barry, when will we know about it?"
"You can count on it, I guess. Joe won't refuse," Barry said, with
his lazy smile.
"Oh, you're an angel! I'm going shopping this instant. Barry, there
will be room now for my Ellen, and Billy, and Dicky Carew, won't
there? It seems their hearts are bursting with the desire. Bunting,"
murmured Sidney, beginning a list, "cheese-cloth, pink, blue, and
cream, bolts of it; twine, beads, leather, feathers; some big white
hats; ice-cream, extra milk—"
"Hold on! What for?"
"Why, they have to have something to eat afterward," she reproached
him. "We're going to have a picnic up at the Hall. Then those that
can will join their people for the fireworks, and the others will be
taken home to Old Paloma. The little Scott girl will stay with Ellen
and Jo overnight; Mammy Currey will look after them, and they'll
watch the fireworks from my porch. I've written to ask Doctor Young-
-he's the best in San Francisco—to come up from the city next day to
see what he thinks can be done for Mary Scott."
"You get a lot of fun out of your money, don't you, Sidney?" said
Barry, watching her amusedly, as she tucked the list into her purse
and arose with a great air of business.
"More than any one woman deserves," she answered soberly.
"Walter," said Anne Pratt to her brother, one evening about this
time, as she decorously filled his plate from the silver tureen,
"have you heard that Mrs. Burgoyne has gathered up about twenty
children in Old Paloma—cripples, and orphans, and I don't know what
all!—and is getting up a wagon for the Flower Festival? I was up at
the Hall to-day, and they're working like beavers."
"Carew said something about it," said Walter Pratt. "Seems a good
idea. Those poor little kids over there don't have much fun."
"You never said so before, Walter," his sister returned almost
"I don't know why I shouldn't have," said Walter literally. "It's
"If we did anything for any children, it ought to be Lizzie's,"
said Miss Pratt uncomfortably, after a pause.
"I wish to the Lord we COULD do something for Lizzie's kids," her
brother observed suddenly. "I suppose it would kill you to have 'em
"Kill me!" Miss Anne echoed with painful eagerness, and with a
sudden tremble of her thin, long hand. "I don't know why it should;
there never were better behaved children born. I don't like Lizzie's
husband, and never shall;" she rushed on, "but seeing those children
up at the Hall to-day made me think of Betty, and Hope, and Davy,
cooped up down there in town. They'd love the Flower Festival, and I
could take them up to the Hall, and Nanny would be wild with joy to
have Lizzie's children here; she'd bake cookies and gingerbread—" A
flush had come into her faded, cool cheek. "Wouldn't they be in your
way? You really wouldn't mind—you won't change your mind about it,
Walt?" she said timidly.
"Change my mind! Why, I'll love to have them running round here,"
he answered warmly. "Write Lizzie to-night, and tell her I've got to
go down Tuesday, and I'll bring 'em up,"
"I'll tell her that just the things they have will be quite good
enough," said Miss Pratt. "The Burgoyne children just wear play-
ginghams—I'll get them anything else they need!"
"It won't interfere with your club work, Anne?"
"Not in the least!" She was sure of that, "And anyway," she went on
decidedly, "I'm not going to the club so much this summer. Mary Brown
and I went yesterday, and there was—well, I suppose it was a good
paper on 'The Mind of the Child,' by Miss Sarah Rich. But it seemed so
flat. And Mary Brown said, coming away, 'I think Doctor and I will
still come to the monthly receptions, but I believe I won't listen to
any more papers like that. They're all very well for people who have
"Well, by Tuesday night you'll have three!" said Walter, with what
was for him great gaiety of manner.
"Walter," his sister suggested nervously, "you'll be awfully
affectionate with Lizzie, won't you? Be sure to tell her that we WANT
them; and tell her that they'll be playing up at the Hall all summer,
as we used to. You know, I've been thinking, Walter," went on the poor
lady, with her nose suddenly growing red and her eyes watering, "that
I've not been a very good sister to Lizzie. She's the youngest, and
Mother—Mother wasn't here to advise her about her marriage, and—and
now I don't write her; and she wrote me that Betty had a cough, and
Davy was so noisy indoors in wet weather—and I just go to the Club to
hear papers upon 'Napoleon' and 'The Mind of the Child.'" And Miss
Anne, beginning to cry outright, leaned back in her chair, and covered
her face with her handkerchief.
"Well, Anne—well, Anne," her brother said huskily, "we'll make it
up now. Where are you going to put them?" he presently added, with an
Miss Pratt straightened up, blew her nose, wiped her eyes, and rang
for the maid.
"Betty and Hope in the big front room—" she began happily.
Another brief conversation, this time between George Carew and his
wife, was indicative of a certain change of view-point that was
affecting the women of Santa Paloma in these days. Mr. Carew, coming
home one evening, found a very demure and charming figure seated on
the porch. Mrs. Carew's gown was simplicity itself: a thin, dotted,
dark blue silk, with a deep childish lace collar and cuffs.
"You look terribly sweet, Jen," said Mr. Carew; "you look out of
sight." And when he came downstairs again, and they were at dinner,
he returned to the subject with, "Jen, I haven't seen you look so
sweet for a long time. What is that, a new dress? Is that for the
reception on the Fourth? Jen, didn't you have a dress like that when
we were first married?"
"Sorrel made this, and it only cost sixty dollars," said Mrs.
"Well, get her to make you another," her husband said approvingly.
At which Mrs. Carew laughed a little shakily, and came around the
table, and put her arms about him and said:
"Oh, George, you dear old BAT! Miss Pomeroy made this, upstairs
here, in three days, and the silk cost nine dollars. I DID have a
dress like this in my trousseau—my first silk—and I thought it was
wonderful; and I think you're a darling to remember it; and I AM
going to wear this on the Fourth. It's nice enough, isn't it?"
"Nice enough! You'll be the prettiest woman there," stated Mr.
The earliest daylight of July Fourth found Santa Paloma already
astir. Dew was heavy on the ropes of flowers and greens, and the
flags and bunting that made brilliant all the line of the day's
march; and long scarfs of fog lingered on the hills, but for all
that, and despite the delicious fragrant chill of the morning air,
nobody doubted that the day would be hot and cloudless, and the
evening perfect for fireworks. Lawn-sprinklers began to whir busily
in the sweet shaded gardens long before the sunlight reached them;
windows and doors were flung open to the air; women, sweeping
garden-paths and sidewalks with gay energy, called greetings up and
down the street to one another. Chairs were dragged out-of-doors;
limp flags began to stir in the sunny air; other flags squeakily
mounted their poles. At every window bunting showed; the schoolhouse
was half-hidden in red, white, and blue; the women's clubhouse was
festooned with evergreens and Japanese lanterns; and the Mail office,
the grand stand opposite, the shops, and the bank, all fluttered with
gay colors. Children shouted and scampered everywhere; gathered in
fascinated groups about the ice-cream and candy and popcorn booths
that sprang up at every corner; met arriving cousins and aunts at the
train; ran on last-minute errands. Occasionally a whole package of
exploding firecrackers smote the warm still air.
By half-past ten every window on the line of march, every dooryard
and porch, had its group of watchers. Wagons and motor-cars, from the
surrounding villages and ranches, blocked the side streets. It was
very warm, and fans and lemonade had a lively sale.
From the two available windows of the Mail office, three persons,
as eager as the most eager child, watched the gathering crowds, and
waited for the Flower Parade. They were Mrs. Apostleman, stately in
black lace, and regally fanning, Sidney Burgoyne, looking her very
prettiest in crisp white, with a scarlet scarf over her arm, and
Barry Valentine, who looked unusually festive himself in white
flannels. All three were in wild spirits.
"Hark, here they come!" said Sidney at last, drawing her head in
from a long inspection of the street. She had been waving and calling
greetings in every direction for a pleasant half-hour. Now eleven had
boomed from the town-hall clock, and a general restlessness and
wiltedness began to affect the waiting crowds.
Barry immediately dangled almost his entire length across the
window sill, and screwed his person about for a look.
"H'yar dey come, li'l miss, sho's yo' bawn!" he announced joyfully.
"There's the band!"
Here they came, sure enough, under the flags and garlands, through
the noonday heat. Only vague brassy notes and the general craning of
necks indicated their approach now; but in another five minutes the
uniformed band was actually in view, and the National Guard after it,
tremendously popular, and the Native Sons, with another band, and the
veterans, thin, silver-headed old men in half a dozen carriages, and
more open carriages. One held the Governor and his wife, the former
bowing and smiling right and left, and saluted by the rising school
children, when he seated himself in the judges' stand, with the
shrill, thrilling notes of the national anthem.
And then another band, and—at last!—the slow-moving, flower-
covered carriages and motors, a long, wonderful, brilliant line of
them. White-clad children in rose-smothered pony-carts, pretty girls
in a setting of scarlet carnations, more pretty girls half-hidden in
bobbing and nodding daisies—every one more charming than the last.
There were white horses as dazzling as soap and powder could make
them; horses whose black flanks glistened as dark as coal, and there
was a tandem of cream-colored horses that tossed rosettes of pink
Shirley poppies in their ears. The Whites' motor-car, covered with
pink carnations, and filled with good-looking lads flying the colors
of the Women's Club and the nation's flag, won a special round of
applause. Mrs. Burgoyne and Barry loyally clapped for the Pratt
motor-car, from which Joanna Burgoyne and Lizzie Pratt's children
were beaming upon the world.
"But what are they halting for, and what are they clapping?" Sidney
presently demanded, when a break in the line and a sudden outburst of
cheering and applause interrupted the parade. Barry again hung at a
dangerous angle from the window. Presently he sat back, his face one
"It's us," he remarked simply. "Wait until you see us; we're the
cream of the whole show!"
Too excited to speak, Sidney knelt breathless at the sill, her eyes
fixed upon the spot where the cause of the excitement must appear.
She was perhaps the only one of all the watchers who did not applaud,
as the eight powerful oxen came slowly down the sunshiny street,
guided by the tall, lean driver who walked beside them, and dragging
the great wagon and its freight of rapturous children.
Only an old hay-wagon, after all; only a team of shabby oxen, such
as a thousand lumber-camps in California might supply; only a score
or more of the ill-nourished, untrained children of the very poor;
but what an enchantment of love and hope and summer-time had been
flung over them all! The body of the wagon was entirely hidden by
exquisite hydrangeas; the wheels were moving disks of the pale pink
and blue blossoms; the oxen, their horns gilded, their polished hoofs
twinkling as they moved, wore yokes that seemed solidly made of the
flowers, and great ropes of blossoms hid the swinging chains. Over
each animal a brilliant cover had been flung; and at the head of each
a young Indian boy, magnificent in wampum and fringed leather,
feathers and beads, walked sedately. The children were grouped,
pyramid-fashion, on the wagon, in a nest of hydrangea blooms, the
pink, and cream, and blue of their gowns blending with the flowers all
about them, the sunlight shining full in their happy eyes. Over their
shoulders were garlands of poppies, roses, sweet- peas, daisies,
carnations, lilies, or other blossoms; their hands were full of
flowers. But it was the radiance of their faces that shone brightest,
after all. It was the little consumptive's ecstatic smile, as she sat
resting against an invisible support; it was the joy in Mary Scott's
thin eager face, framed now in her loosened dark hair, and with the
shadow, like her crutch, laid aside for a while, that somehow brought
tears to the eyes that watched. Santa Paloma cheered and applauded
these forgotten children of hers; and the children laughed and waved
their hands in return.
Youth and happiness and summer-time incarnate, the vision went on
its way, down the bright street; and other carriages followed it, and
were praised as those that had gone before had been. But no entry in
any flower parade that Santa Paloma had ever known, was as much
discussed as this one. Indeed, it began a new era; but that was later
on. When Mrs. Burgoyne's plain white frock appeared among the
elaborate gowns worn at the club luncheon that afternoon, she was
quite overwhelmed by congratulations. She went away very early, to
superintend the children's luncheon at the Hall, and then Mrs. White
had a chance to tell the distinguished guests who she was, and that
she could well afford to play Lady Bountiful to the Santa Paloma
"One wouldn't imagine it, she seems absolutely simple and
unspoiled," said Mrs. Governor.
"She is!" said Mrs. Lloyd unexpectedly.
"I told her how scared most of us had been at the mere idea of her
coming here, Parker," Mrs. Lloyd told her husband later, "and how
friendly she is, and that she always wears little wash dresses, and
that the other girls are beginning to wear checked aprons and things,
because her girls do! Of course, I said it sort of laughingly, you
know, but I don't think Clara White liked it ONE BIT, and I don't
care! Clara is rather mad at me, anyway," she went on, musingly,
"because yesterday she telephoned that she was going to send that
Armenian peddler over here, with some Madeira lunch cloths. They WERE
beauties, and only twenty-three dollars; you'd pay fifty for them at
Raphael Weil's—they're smuggled, I suppose! But I simply said,
'Clara, I can't afford it!' and let it go at that. She laughed—quite
cattily, Parker!—and said, 'Oh, that's rather funny!' But I don't
care whether Clara White thinks I'm copying Mrs. Burgoyne or not! I
might as well copy her as somebody else!"
Mrs. Burgoyne and Barry Valentine went down-town on the evening of
the great day, to see the fireworks and the crowds, and to hear the
announcements of prize-winners. Santa Paloma was in holiday mood, and
the two entered into the spirit of the hour like irresponsible
children. It was a warm, wonderful summer night; the sky was close
and thickly spangled with stars. Main Street bobbed with Japanese
lanterns, rang with happy voices and laughter. The jostling, pushing
currents of men in summer suits, and joyous girls in thin gowns, were
all good-natured. Sidney found friends on all sides, and laughed and
called her greetings as gaily as anyone.
Barry had a rare opportunity to watch her unobserved, as she went
her happy way; the earnest happy brightness in her eyes, when some
shabby little woman from Old Paloma laid a timid hand on her arm, her
adoring interest in the fat babies that slumbered heavily on paternal
shoulders, her ready use of names, "Isn't this fun, Agnes?"—"You
haven't lost Harry, have you, Mrs. O'Brien?"—"Don't you and your
friend want to come and have some ice-cream with us, Josie?"
"But we mustn't waste too much time here, Barry," she would say now
and then; for at eight o'clock a "grand concert program and
distribution of prizes" was scheduled to take place at the town hall,
and Sidney was anxious not to miss an instant of it. "Don't worry,
I'll get you there!" Barry would answer reassuringly, amused at her
And true to his word, he stopped her at the wide doorway of the
concert hall, fully five minutes before the hour, and they found
themselves joining the slow stream of men and women and children that
was pouring up the wide, dingy stairway. Everyone was trying, in all
good humor, to press ahead of everyone else, inspired with the sudden
agonizing conviction that in the next two minutes every desirable seat
would certainly be gone. Even Sidney, familiar as she was with every
grand opera house in the world, felt the infection, and asked rather
nervously if any of the seats were reserved.
"Don't worry; we'll get seats," said the imperturbable Barry, and
several children in their neighborhood laughed out in sudden
Seats indeed there were, although the front rows were filling fast,
and all the aisle-chairs were taken by squirming, restless small
children. Mrs. Burgoyne sat down, and studied the hall with delighted
eyes. It was ordinarily only a shabby, enormous, high- ceiled room,
filled with rows of chairs, and with an elevated stage at the far end.
But, like all Santa Paloma, it was in holiday trim to-night. All the
windows—wide open to the summer darkness—were framed in bunting and
drooping flowers, and on the stage were potted palms and crossed
flags. Great masses of bamboo and California ferns were tied with red,
white and blue streamers between the windows, and, beside these
decorations, which were new for the occasion, were purple and yellow
banners, left from the night of the Native Sons' Grand Ball and
Reception, a month ago, and, arched above the stage the single word
"Welcome" in letters two feet high, which dated back to the Ladies of
Saint Rose's Parish Annual Fair and Entertainment, in May. If the
combined effect of these was not wholly artistic, at least it was very
gay, and the murmur of voices and laughter all over the hall was gay,
too, and gay almost to intoxication it was to hear the musicians
tentatively and subduedly trying their instruments up by the piano,
with their sleek heads close together.
Presently every chair in the house had its occupant, and the
younger element began a spasmodic sort of clapping, as a delicate hint
to the agitated managers, who were behind the scenes, running blindly
about with worn scraps of scribbled paper in their hands, desperately
attempting to call the roll of their performers. When Joe, the
janitor, came out onto the stage, he was royally applauded, although
he did no more than move a tin stand on which there were numbered
cards, from one side of the stage to the other, and change the number
in view from "18" to "1."
Fathers and mothers, perspiring, clean and good-natured, smiled
upon youthful impatience and impertinence to-night, as they sat
fanning and discussing the newcomers, or leaned forward or backward
for hilarious scraps of conversation with their neighbors. Lovers, as
always oblivious of time, sat entirely indifferent to the rise or
fall of the curtain, the girls with demurely dropped lashes, the men
deep in low monotones, their faces close to the lovely faces so near,
their arms flung, in all absent-mindedness, across the backs of the
ladies' chairs. And any motherly heart might have been stirred with an
aching sort of tenderness, as Sidney Burgoyne's was, at the sight of
so much awkward, budding manliness, so many shining pompadours, and
carefully polished shoes and outrageous cravats—so many silky,
filleted little heads, and innocent young bosoms half- hidden by all
sorts of dainty little conspiracies of lace and lawn. Youth,
enchanting, self-absorbed, important, had coolly taken possession of
the hall, as it does of everything, for its own happy plans, and
something of the gossamer beauty of it seemed to be clouding older and
wiser eyes to-night. Sidney found her eyes resting upon Barry's big,
shapely hand, as he leaned forward, deep in conversation with Dr.
Brown, in the chair ahead, and she was conscious that she wanted to
sit back and shut her eyes, and draw a deep breath of sheer irrational
happiness because this WAS Barry next to her, and that he liked to be
Presently the hall thrilled to see two modest-looking and obviously
embarrassed men come out to seat themselves in the half-circle of
chairs that lined the stage, and a moment later applause broke out
for the Mayor and his wife, and the members of the Flower Parade
Committee of Arrangements, and for the nondescript persons who
invariably fill in such a group, and for the kindly, smiling
Governor, and the ladies of his party, and for the Willard Whites,
who, with the easiest manners in the world, were in actual
conversation with the great people as they came upon the stage.
At the sight of them, Mrs. Carew, still vigorously clapping, leaned
over to say to Mrs. Burgoyne:
"Look at Clara White! And we were wondering why they didn't come
in! Wouldn't she make you TIRED!"
"You might kiss her hand, when you go up to get your prize, Mrs.
Burgoyne," suggested Barry, and a general giggle went the rounds.
"If I get a prize," said Sidney, in alarm, "you've got to go up, I
"We'll see—" Barry began, his voice drowned by the opening crash
of the band.
There followed what the three papers of Santa Paloma were unanimous
the next day in describing as the most brilliant and enjoyable
concert ever given in Santa Paloma. It was received with immense
enthusiasm, entirely unaffected by the fact that everyone present had
heard Miss Emelie Jeanne Foster sing "Twickenham Ferry" before, with
"Dawn" as an encore, and was familiar also with the selections of the
Stringed Instrument Club, and had listened to young Doctor Perry's
impassioned tenor many times. As for George O'Connor, with his
irresistible laughing song, and the song about the train that went to
Morro to-day, he was more popular every time he appeared, and was
greeted now by mad applause, and shouts of "There's George!" and
And the Home Boys' Quartette from Emville was quite new, and
various solo singers and a "lady elocutionist" from San Francisco were
heard for the first time. The latter, who was on the program merely
for a "Recitation—Selected," was so successful with "Pauline
Pavlovna," and "Seein' Things at Night" that it was nearly ten o'clock
before the Governor was introduced.
However, he was at last duly presented to the applauding hundreds,
and came forward to the footlights to address them, and made everyone
laugh and feel friendly by saying immediately that he knew they hadn't
come out that evening to hear an old man make a long speech.
He said he didn't believe in speechmaking much, he believed in
DOING things; there were always a lot of people to stand around and
make speeches, like himself—and there was more laughter.
He said that he knew the business of the evening was the giving out
of these prizes here—he didn't know what was in these boxes—he
indicated the daintily wrapped and tied packages that stood on the
little table in the middle of the stage—but he thought every lady in
the hall would know before she went home, and perhaps some one of them
would tell him—and there was more laughter. He said he hoped that
there was something mighty nice in the largest box, because he
understood that it was to go to a fairy-godmother; he didn't know
whether the good people in the hall believed in fairies or not, but
he knew that some of the children in Old Paloma did, and he had seen
and heard enough that day to make him believe in 'em too! He'd heard
of a fairy years ago who made a coach-and-four out of a pumpkin, but
he didn't think that was any harder than to make a coach-and-six out
of a hay-wagon, and put twenty Cinderellas into it instead of one. He
said it gave him great pride and pleasure to announce that the first
prize for to-day's beautiful contest had been unanimously awarded to—
Sidney Burgoyne, watching him with fascinated eyes, her breath
coming fast and unevenly, her color brightening and fading, heard
only so much, and then, with a desperate impulse to get away, half
rose to her feet.
But she was too late. Long before the Governor reached her name, a
sudden outburst of laughter and clapping shook the hall, there was a
friendly stir and murmur about her; a hundred voices came to her
ears, "It's Mrs. Burgoyne, of course!—She's got it! She's got the
first prize!—Go on up, Mrs. Burgoyne! You've got it!—Isn't that
GREAT,—she's got it! Go up and get it!"
"You've got first prize, I guess. You'll have to go up for it,"
Barry urged her.
"He didn't say so!" Sidney protested nervously. But she let herself
be half-pushed into the aisle, and somehow reached the three little
steps that led up to the platform, and found herself facing His
Excellency, in an uproar of applause.
The Governor said a few smiling words as he put a large box into
her hands; Sidney knew this because she saw his lips move, but the
house had gone quite mad by this time, and not a word was audible.
Everyone in the hall knew that a tall loving-cup was in the box, for
it had been on exhibition in the window of Postag's jewelry store for
three weeks. It was of silver, and lined with gold, both metals
shining with an unearthly and flawless radiance; and there was
"Awarded—as a First Prize—in the Twelfth Floral Parade—of Santa
Paloma, California" cut beautifully into one side, and a scroll all
ready, on the other side, to be engraved with the lucky winner's
She had been joking for two or three weeks about the possibility of
this very occurrence, had been half-expecting it all day, but now
suddenly all the joke seemed gone out of it, and she was only
curiously stirred and shaken. She looked confusedly down at the sea
of faces below her, smiles were everywhere, the eyes that were upon
her were full of all affection and pride—She had done so little
after all, she said to herself, with sudden humility, almost with
shame. And it was so poignantly sweet to realize that they loved her,
that she was one of themselves, they were glad she had won, she who
had been a stranger to all of them only a few months ago!
Her eyes full of sudden tears, her lip shaking, she could only bow
and bow again, and then, just as her smile threatened to become
entirely eclipsed, she managed a husky "Thank you all so much!" and
descended the steps rapidly, to slip into her chair between Barry and
"You know, you oughtn't to make a long tedious speech like that on
an occasion like this, Sid," Barry said, when she had somewhat
recovered her equilibrium, and the silver loving cup was unwrapped,
and was being passed admiringly from hand to hand.
"Don't!" she said warningly, "or you'll have me weeping on your
Instead of which she was her gayest self, and accepted endless
congratulations with joyous composure, as the audience streamed out
into the reviving festivity of Main Street. The tide was turning in
one direction now, for there were to be "fireworks and a stupendous
band concert" immediately following the concert, in a vacant lot not
And presently they all found themselves seated on the fragrant
grass, under the stars. George Carew, at Sidney's feet, solemnly
wrapped sections of molasses popcorn in oiled paper, and passed them
to the ladies. Barry's coat made a comfortable seat for Mrs. Burgoyne
and little Mrs. Brown; Barry himself was just behind, and Mrs. Carew
and her big son beside them. All about, in the darkness, were other
groups: mothers and fathers and alert, chattering children. Alice
Carter, the big mill-girl, radiant now, and with a hoarse,
inarticulate, adoring young plumber in tow, went by them, and stooped
to whisper something to Mrs. Burgoyne. "I wish you WOULD come, Alice!"
the lady answered eagerly, as they went on.
Then the rockets began to hiss up toward the stars, each falling
shower of light greeted with a long rapturous "Ah-h-h!" Catherine-
wheels sputtered nearer the ground; red lights made eerie great spots
of illumination here and there, against which dark little figures
"I don't know that I ever had a happier day in my life!" said
More happy days followed; for Santa Paloma, after the Fourth of
July, felt only friendliness for the new owner of the Hall, and Mrs.
Burgoyne's informal teas on the river bank began to prove a powerful
attraction, even rivaling the club in feminine favor. Sometimes the
hostess enlisted all their sympathies for a newly arrived Old Paloma
baby, and they tore lengths of flannel, and busily stitched at tiny
garments, under the shade of the willow and pepper trees. Sometimes
she had in her care one or more older babies whose busy mother was
taking a day's rest, or whose father was perhaps ill, needing all the
wife's care. Always there was something to read and discuss; an
editorial in some eastern magazine that made them all indignant or
enthusiastic, or a short story worth reading aloud. And almost always
the children were within call, digging great holes in the pebbly
shallows of the river, only to fill them up again, toiling over
bridges and dams, climbing out to the perilous length of the branches
that hung above the water. Little Mary Scott, released from the fear
of an "op'ration," and facing all unconsciously a far longer journey
than the dreaded one to a San Francisco hospital, had her own
cushioned chair near the bank, where she could hear and see, and laugh
at everything that went on, and revel in consolation and bandages when
the inevitable accidents made them necessary. Mary had no cares now,
no responsibility more serious than to be sure her feet didn't get
cold, and to tell Mrs. Burgoyne the minute her head ached; there was
to be nothing but rest and comfort and laughter for her in life now.
"I don't know why we should pity her," little Mrs. Brown said
thoughtfully, one day, as they watched her with the other children;
"we can't ever hope to feel that any of our children are as safe as
Mrs. Burgoyne's method of entertaining the children was simple. She
always made them work as hard as possible. One day they begged her to
let them build a "truly dam" that would really stop the Lobos in its
placid course. She consulted gravely with George Carew: should they
attempt it? George, after serious consideration, thought they should.
As a result, twenty children panted and toiled through a warm
Saturday afternoon, George and the Adams boys shouting directions as
they handled planks and stones; everybody wet, happy, and excited.
Not the least glorious moment was when the dam was broken at five
o'clock, just before refreshments were served.
"We'll do that better next Saturday," said George. But a week later
they wanted to clean the barn and organize a club. Mrs. Burgoyne was
sure they couldn't. All that space, she said, and those bins, and the
little rooms, and all? Very well, then, they could try. Later they
longed for a picnic supper in the woods, with an open fire, and
potatoes, and singing. Their hostess was dubious: entreated them to
consider the WORK involved, dragging stones for the fire, and
carrying potatoes and bacon and jam and all the rest of it 'way up
there'. This was at two o'clock, and at six she was formally asked to
come up and inspect the cleared camping ground, and the fireplace with
its broilers, and the mammoth stack of fuel prepared.
"I knew you'd do it!" said the lady delightedly. "Now we'll really
have a fine supper!" And a memorable supper they had, and Indian
stories, and singing, and they went home well after dusk, to end the
"They like this sort of thing much better than white dresses, and a
professional entertainer, and dancing, and too much ice-cream," said
Mrs. Burgoyne to Mrs. Adams.
"Of course they do," said Mrs. Adams, who had her own reasons for
turning rather red and speaking somewhat faintly. "And it's much less
work, and much less expense," she added.
"Now it is, when they can be out-of-doors," said Mrs. Burgoyne;
"but in winter they do make awful work indoors. However, there is
tramping for dry weather, and I mean to have a stove set up in the
old billiard-room down-stairs and turn them all loose in there when
it's wet. Theatricals, and pasting things, and singing, and now and
then candy-making, is all fun. And one knows that they're safe, and
piling up happy memories of their home."
"You make a sort of profession of motherhood," said Mrs. White
"It IS my profession," said the hostess, with her happy laugh.
But her happiness had a sudden check in mid-August; Sidney found
herself no more immune from heartache than any other woman, no more
philosophical over a hurt. It was, she told herself, only a trifle,
after all. She was absurd to let it cloud the bright day for her and
keep her restless and wakeful at night. It was nothing. Only—
Only it was the first time that Barry had failed her. He was gone.
Gone without a word of explanation to anyone, leaving his work at the
Mail unfinished, leaving even Billy, his usual confidant, quite in the
dark. Sidney had noticed for days a certain moodiness and
unresponsiveness about him; had tried rather timidly to win him from
it; had got up uneasily half a dozen times in the night just past to
look across the garden to his house, and wonder why Barry's light
burned on and on.
She had meant to send for him in the morning, but Billy, artlessly
appearing when the waffles came on at breakfast, remarked that Dad
was gone to San Francisco.
"To the city, Billy?" Sidney asked. "Didn't he say why?"
"He didn't even say goodbye," Billy replied cheerfully. "He just
left a note for Hayashi. It said he didn't know how long he would be
Sidney tried with small success to deceive herself into thinking
that it was the mere mysteriousness of this that cut her. She
presently went down to see Mrs. Carew, and was fretted because that
lady would for some time discuss nothing but the successful treatment
of insects on the rose-bushes.
"Barry seems to have disappeared," said Sidney finally, in a casual
Mrs. Carew straightened up, forgot hellebore and tobacco juice for
"Did I tell you what Silva told me?" she asked.
"Silva?" echoed Sidney, at a loss.
"The milkman. He told me that when he came up at five o'clock this
morning, Barry came out of the gate, and that he looked AWFULLY. He
said he was pale, and that his eyes looked badly, and that he hardly
seemed to know what he was doing. And oh, my dear, I'm afraid that
he's drinking again! I'm sure of it. It's two years now since he has
done this. I think it's too bad. But you know he used to go down to
town every little while for a regular TIME with those newspaper men.
He doesn't like Santa Paloma, you know. He gets very bored here.
He'll be back in a day or two, thoroughly ashamed of himself."
Sidney did not answer, because she could not. Resentment and
loyalty, shame and heartache, kept her lips dumb. She walked to and
fro in the garden, alone in the sweet early darkness, for an hour.
Then she went indoors, and tried to amuse herself at the piano.
Suddenly her face twisted, she laid her arm along the rack, and her
face on her arm; but it was only for a moment; then she straightened
up resolutely, piled the music, closed the piano, and went upstairs.
"But perhaps I'm not old enough yet for an olive garden," she told
the stars from her window an hour later.
Another day went by, and still there was no news from Barry. The
early autumn weather was exquisite, and Sidney, with the additional
work for the Mail that the editor's absence left for her, found
herself very busy. But life seemed suddenly to taste flat and
uninteresting to her. The sunlight was glaring, the afternoons dusty
and windy, and under all the day's duties and pleasures—the meeting
of neighbors, the children's confidences, her busy coming and going
up and down the village streets—ran a sick undercurrent of
disappointment and heartache. She went to the post-office twice, in
that first long day, for the arriving mail, and Miss Potter, pleased
at these glimpses of the lady from the Hall, chatted blithely as she
pushed Italian letters, London letters, letters from Washington and
New York, through the little wicket.
But there was not a line from Barry. On the second day Sidney began
to think of sending him a note; it might be chanced to the Bohemian
But no, she wouldn't do that. If he did not care enough to write
her, she certainly wouldn't write him.
She began to realize how different Santa Paloma was without his big
figure, his laughter, his joyous comment upon people and things. She
had taken his comradeship for granted, taken it as just one more
element of the old childish days regained, never thought of its rude
interruption or ending.
Now she felt ashamed and sore, she had been playing with fire, she
told herself severely; she had perhaps hurt him; she had certainly
given herself needless heartache. No romantic girl of seventeen ever
suffered a more unreasoning pang than did Sidney when she came upon
Barry's shabby, tobacco-scented office coat, hanging behind his desk,
or found in her own desk one of the careless notes he so frequently
used to leave there at night for her to find in the morning.
However, in the curious way that things utterly unrelated sometimes
play upon each other in this life, these days of bewilderment and
chagrin bore certain good fruit. Sidney had for some weeks been
planning an attack upon the sympathies of the Santa Paloma Women's
Club, but had shrunk from beginning it, because life was running very
smoothly and happily, and she was growing too genuinely fond of her
new neighbors to risk jeopardizing their affection for her by a move
she suspected would be unpopular.
But now she was unhappy, and, with the curious stoicism that is
born of unhappiness, she plunged straight into the matter. On the
third day after Barry's disappearance she appeared at the regular
meeting of the club as Mrs. Carew's guest.
"I hope this means that you are coming to your senses, ye bad
girl!" said Mrs. Apostleman, drawing her to the next chair with a fat
"Perhaps it does," Sidney answered, with a rather nervous smile.
She sat attentive and appreciative, through the reading of a paper
entitled "Some Glimpses of the Real Burns," and seemed immensely to
enjoy the four songs—Burns's poems set to music—and the clever
recitation of several selections from Burns that followed.
Then the chairman announced that Mrs. Burgoyne, "whom I'm sure we
all know, although she isn't one of us yet (laughter), has asked
permission to address the club at the conclusion of the regular
program." There was a little applause, and Sidney, very rosy, walked
rapidly forward, to stand just below the platform. She was nervous,
obviously, and spoke hurriedly and in a rather unnatural voice.
"Your chairman and president," she began, with a little inclination
toward each, "have given me permission to speak to you today for five
minutes, because I want to ask the Santa Paloma Women's Club a
favor—a great favor, in fact. I won't say how much I hope the club
will decide to grant it, but just tell you what it is. It has to do
with the factory girls across the river. I've become interested in
some of them; partly I suppose because some friends of mine are
working for just such girls, only under infinitely harder
circumstances, in some of the eastern cities, I feel, we all feel, I
know, that the atmosphere of Old Paloma is a dangerous one for girls.
Every year certain ones among them 'go wrong,' as the expression is;
and when a girl once does that, she is apt to go very wrong indeed
before she stops. She doesn't care what she does, in fact, and her own
people only make it harder, practically drive her away. Or even if she
marries decently, and tries to live down all the past it comes up
between her and her neighbors, between her and her children, perhaps,
and embitters her whole life. And so finally she goes to join that
terrible army of women that we others try to pretend we never see or
hear of at all. These girls work hard all day, and their homes aren't
the right sort of homes, with hot dirty rooms,—full of quarreling and
crowding; and so they slip out at night and meet their friends in the
dancehalls, and the moving- picture shows. And we—we can't blame
them." Her voice had grown less diffident, and rang with sudden
longing and appeal. "They want only what we all wanted a few years
ago," she said. "They want good times, lights and music, and pretty
gowns, something to look forward to in the long, hot
afternoons—dances, theatricals, harmless meetings of all sorts. If we
could give them safe clean fun—not patronizingly, and not too
obviously instructive—they'd be willing to wait for it; they'd talk
about it instead of more dangerous things; they'd give up dangerous
things for it. They are very nice girls, some of them, and their
friends are very nice fellows, for the most part, and they are—they
are so very young.
"However, about the club—I am wondering if it could be borrowed
for a temporary meeting-place for them, if we form a sort of club
among them. I say temporary, because I hope we will build them a
clubhouse of their own some day. But meantime there is only the Grand
Opera House, which all the traveling theatrical companies rent;
Hansen's Hall, which is over a saloon, so that won't do; and the
Concert Hall, which costs twenty-five dollars a night. We would, of
course, see that the club was cleaned after every meeting, and pay for
the lights. I—I think that's about all," finished Sidney, feeling
that she had put her case rather ineloquently, and coming to a full
stop. She sat down, her eyes nowhere, her cheeks very red.
There was the silence of utter surprise in the room. After a pause,
Mrs. White raised a gloved hand. Permission from the chair was given
Mrs. White to speak.
"Your idea would be to give the Old Paloma girls a dance here, Mrs.
"Regular dances, yes," said Sidney, standing up. "To let them use
the clubhouse, say, two nights a week. Reading, and singing, and
sewing one night, perhaps, and a dance another. Or we could get good
moving-picture films, or have a concert or play, and ask the mothers
and fathers now and then; charades and Morris dances, something like
"Dancing and moving-pictures—oh, dear, dear!" said Mrs. White,
with a whimsical smile and a shake of her head, and there was
"All those things take costuming, and that takes money," said the
chairman, after a silence, rather hesitatingly.
"Money isn't the problem," Mrs. Burgoyne rejoined eagerly; "you'll
find that they spend a good deal now, even for the wretched pleasures
There was another silence. Then Mrs. White again gained permission
to speak, and rose to do so.
"I think perhaps Mrs. Burgoyne, being a newcomer here, doesn't
quite understand our feeling toward our little club," she said very
pleasantly. "We built it," she went on, with a slight touch of
emotion, "as a little refuge from everything jarring and unpleasant;
we meant it to stand for something a little BETTER and FINER than the
things of everyday life can possibly be. Perhaps we felt that there
are already too many dances and too many moving-picture shows in the
world; perhaps we felt that if we COULD forget those things for a
little while—I don't mean," said Mrs. White smilingly reasonable,
"that the reform of wayward girls isn't a splendid and ennobling
thing; I believe heartily in the work institutions and schools are
doing along those lines, but—" and with a pretty little gesture of
helplessness she flung out her hands—"but we can't have a Hull House
in every little town, you know, and I'm afraid we shouldn't find very
many Jane Addamses if we did! Good girls don't need this sort of
thing, and bad girls—well, unfortunately, the world has always had
bad girls and always will have! We would merely turn our lovely
clubhouse over to a lot of little romping hoydens."
"But—" began Mrs. Burgoyne eagerly.
"Just ONE moment," said the President, sweetly, and Mrs. Burgoyne
sat down with blazing cheeks. "I only want to say that I think this
is outside the purpose for which the club was formed," added Mrs.
White. "If the club would care to vote on this, it seems to me that
would be the wisest way of settling the matter; but perhaps we could
hear from a few more members first?"
There was a little rustle of applause at this, and Sidney felt her
heart give a sick plunge, and raged within herself because her own
act had placed her at so great a disadvantage. In another moment,
however, general attention was directed to a tall, plainly dressed,
gentle woman, who rose and said rather shyly:
"Since you suggested our discussing this a little, Mrs. President,
I would like to say that I like this idea very much myself. I've often
felt that we weren't doing very much good, just uplifting ourselves,
as it were, and I hope Mrs. Burgoyne will let me help her in any way
I can, whether the club votes for or against this plan. I—I have
four girls and boys of my own at home, as you know, and I find that
even with plenty of music, and all the library books and company they
want, it's hard enough to keep those children happy at night. And,
ladies, there must be plenty of mothers over there in Old Paloma who
worry about it as we do, and yet have no way of helping themselves. It
seems to me we couldn't put our clubhouse to better use, or our time
either, for that matter. I would vote decidedly 'yes' to such a plan.
I've often felt that we—well, that we rather wasted some of our time
here," she ended mildly.
"Thank you, Mrs. Moore," said Mrs. White politely.
"I hope it is part of your idea to let our own children have a part
in the entertainments you propose," briskly added another woman, a
clergyman's wife, rising immediately. "I think Doctor Babcock would
thoroughly approve of the plan, and I am sure I do. Every little
while," she went on smilingly, "my husband asks me what GOOD the club
is doing, and I never can answer—"
"Men's clubs do so much good!" said some loud, cheerful voice at
the back of the hall, and there was laughter.
"A great many of them do good and have side issues, like this one,
that are all for good," the clergyman's wife responded quickly, "and
personally I would thank God to be able to save even ten—to save
even one—of those Old Paloma girls from a life of shame and
suffering. I wish we had begun before. Mrs. Burgoyne may propose to
build them their own clubhouse entirely herself; but if not, I hope
we can all help in that too, when the time comes."
"Thank you, Mrs. Babcock," said the President coldly. "What do you
think, Miss Pratt?"
"Oh, Mrs. Carew, and Mrs. Brown, and I all feel as Mrs. Burgoyne
does," admitted Anne Pratt innocently, a little fluttered.
It was Mrs. White's turn to color.
"I didn't know that the matter had been discussed," she said
"Only generally; not in reference to the club," Mrs. Burgoyne
"I myself will propose an affirmative vote," said Mrs. Apostleman's
rich old voice. Mrs. Apostleman was entirely indifferent to
parliamentary law, and was never in order. "How d'ye do it? The ayes
rise, is that it?"
She pulled herself magnificently erect by the chair-back in front
of her, and with clapping and laughter the entire club rose to its
"This is entirely out of order," said Mrs. White, very rosy.
Everyone sat down suddenly, and the chairman gave two emphatic raps
of her gavel.
The President then asked permission to speak, and moved, with great
dignity, that the matter be laid before the board of directors at the
next meeting, and, if approved, submitted in due order to the vote of
The motion was briskly seconded, and a few minutes later Sidney
found herself freed from the babel of voices and walking home with
nervous rapidity. "Well, that's over!" she said once or twice aloud.
"Thank Heaven, it's over!"
"Is your head better, Mother?" said Joanna, who had been hanging on
the Hall gate waiting for her mother, and who put an affectionate arm
about her as they walked up the path. "You LOOK better."
"Jo," said Mrs. Burgoyne seriously, "there's one sure cure for the
blues in this world. I recommend it to you, for it's safer than
cocaine, and just as sure. Go and do something you don't want to—
for somebody else."
It was no pleasant prospect of a reunion at the club, or an evening
with his old friends, that had taken Barry Valentine so suddenly to
San Francisco, but a letter from his wife—or, rather, from his
wife's mother, for Hetty herself never wrote—which had stirred a
vague distrust and discomfort in his mind. Mrs. Scott, his mother-
in-law, was a worldly, shrewd little person, but good-hearted, and as
easily moved or stirred as a child. This was one of her characteristic
letters, disconnected, ill-spelled, and scrawled upon scented lavender
paper. She wrote that she and Hetty were sick of San Francisco, and
they wanted Barry's permission to sell the Mission Street flats that
afforded them a living, and go away once and for all. Het, her mother
wrote, had had a fine offer for the houses; Barry's signature only was
needed to close the deal.
All this might be true; it sounded reasonable enough; but, somehow,
Barry fancied that it was not true, or at least that it was only
partly so. What did Hetty want the money for, he wondered. Why should
her mother reiterate so many times that if Barry for any possible
reason disapproved, he was not to give the matter another thought;
they most especially wanted only his simple yes or no. Why this
consideration? Hetty had always been persistent enough about the
things she wanted before. "I know you would consent if you could see
how our hearts are set on this," wrote Mrs. Scott, "but if you say
'no,' that ends it."
"Sure, I'll sell," Barry said, putting the letter in his pocket.
But it came persistently between him and his work. What mischief was
Hetty in, he wondered. Had some get-rich-quick shark got hold of her;
it was extremely likely. He could not shake the thought of her from
his mind, her voice, her pretty, sullen little face, rose again and
haunted him. What a child she had been, and what a boy he was, and how
mistaken the whole bitter experience!
Walking home late at night, the memory of old days rode him like a
hateful nightmare. He saw the little untidy flat they had had in New
York; the white winter outside, and a deeper chill within; little
Billy coughing and restless; Hetty practising her scales, and he,
Barry, trying to write at one end of the dining-room table. He
remembered how disappointment and restless ambition had blotted out
her fresh, babyish beauty; how thin and sharp her voice had grown as
the months went on.
Barry tried to read, but the book became mere printed words. He
went softly into Billy's room, and sat down by the tumbled bed and the
small warm sleeper. Billy, even asleep, snuggled his hand
appreciatively into his father's, and brought its little fellow to
lie there too, and pushed his head up against Barry's arm.
And there the father sat motionless, while the clock outside in the
hall struck two, and three, and four. This was Hetty's baby, and
where was Hetty? Alone with her little fretful mother, moving from
boarding-house to boarding-house. Pretty no longer, buoyed up by the
hope of an operatic career no longer, pinched—as they must be
pinched—in money matters.
The thought came to him suddenly that he must see her; and though
he fought it as unwelcome and distasteful, it grew rapidly into a
conviction. He must see her again, must have a long talk with her,
must ascertain that nothing he could do for the woman who had been
his wife was left undone. He was no longer the exacting, unsuccessful
boy she had left so unceremoniously; he was a man now, standing on his
own feet, and with a recognized position in the community. The little
fretful baby was a well-brushed young person who attended kindergarten
and Sunday School. A new era of respectability and prosperity had set
in. Hetty, his newly awakened sense of justice and his newly aroused
ambition told him, must somehow share it. Not that there could ever be
a complete reconciliation between them, but there could be good-will,
there could be a readjustment and a friendlier understanding.
The thought of Sidney came suddenly upon his idle musings with a
shock that made his heart sick. Gracious, beautiful, and fresh,
although she was older than Hetty, how far she was removed from this
sordid story of his, this darker side of his life! Perhaps months
from now, his troubled thoughts ran on, he would tell her of his
visit to Hetty. For he had determined to visit her.
Just at dawn he left the house and went out of his own gate. His
face was pale, his eyes deeply ringed and his head ached furiously,
but it was with a sort of content that he took his seat in the early
train for San Francisco. He sank into a reverie, head propped on
hand, that lasted until his journey was almost over; but once in the
city, his old dread of seeing his wife came over him again, and it
was only after a leisurely luncheon at the club that Barry took a
Turk Street car to the dingy region where Hetty lived.
The row of dirty bay-windowed houses on either side of the street,
and the dust and papers blowing about in the hot afternoon wind,
somehow reminded him forcibly of old days and ways. With a sinking
heart he went up one of the flights of wooden steps and asked at the
door for Mrs. Valentine. A Japanese boy in his shirt-sleeves ushered
him into a front room. This was evidently the "parlor"; hot sunlight
streamed through the bay windows; there was an upright piano against
the closed folding doors, and a graphophone on a dusty cherry table;
wind whined at the window-casing; one or two big flies buzzed against
After a while Mrs. Smiley, the widow who conducted this little
boarding-house, who was a cousin of Hetty and whom Barry had known
years ago, came in. She was a tall, angular blonde, cheerlessly
resigned to a cheerless existence. With her came a keen-faced,
freckled boy of fourteen or fifteen, with his finger still marking a
place in the book he had been reading aloud.
Hetty and her mother were out, it appeared. Mrs. Smiley didn't
think they would be back to dinner; in fact, she reiterated nervously,
she was sure they wouldn't. She was extremely and maddeningly non-
committal. No, she didn't know why they wanted to sell the Mission
Street flats. She had warned them it was a silly thing to bother
Barry about it. No, she didn't know when he could see them tomorrow;
she guessed, almost any time.
Barry went away full of uneasy suspicions, and more than ever
convinced that something was wrong. He went back again the next
morning, but nobody but the Japanese boy appeared to be at home. But
a visit in the late afternoon was more successful, for he found Mrs.
Smiley and the tall son again.
"Hetty IS here, isn't she?" he burst out suddenly, in the middle of
a meaningless conversation. Mrs. Smiley turned pale and tried to
"Where else would she be?" she demanded, and she went back to her
interrupted dissertation upon the unpleasantness of several specified
boarders then under her roof.
"It is funny," Barry mused. "What did she say when she went out?"
"Why—" Mrs. Smiley began uncomfortably, "But, my gracious, I wish
you would ask Aunt Ide, Barry!" she interrupted herself
uncomfortably. "She'll tell you. She's the one to ask." Aunt Ide was
"Tell me WHAT?" he persisted. "You tell me, Lulu; that's a dear."
"Auntie 'll tell you," she repeated, adding suddenly, to the boy,
"Russy, wasn't Aunt Ide in her room when you went up? You run up and
"Nome," said Russell positively; but nevertheless he went.
"Nice kid, Lulu," said Barry in his idle way, "but he looks thin."
"He's the finest little feller God ever sent a woman," the mother
answered with sudden passionate pride. Color leaped to her sallow
cheeks. "But this house is no place for him to be cooped up reading
all day," she went on in a worried tone, after a moment, "and I can't
let him run with the boys around here; it's a regular gang. I don't
know what I AM going to do with him. 'Tisn't as if he had a father."
"He wouldn't like to come up to me, and get broken on the Mail?"
Barry queried in his interested way. "He'd get lots of fresh air, and
he could sleep at my house. I'll keep an eye on him, if you say so."
"Go on the newspaper! I think he'd go crazy with joy," his mother
said. Tears came into her faded eyes. "Barry, you're real good-
hearted to offer it," she said gratefully. "Of all things in the
world, that's the one Russ wants to do. But won't he be in your way?"
"He'll fit right in," Barry said. "Pack him up and send him along.
If he doesn't like it, I guess his mother'll let him come home."
"Like it!" she echoed. Then in a lower tone she added, "You don't
know what a load you're taking off my mind, Barry." She paused,
colored again, and, to his surprise, continued rapidly, with a quick
glance at the door, "Barry, I never did a thing like this before in
my life, and I can't do it now. You know how much I owe Aunt Ide: she
took me in, and did for me just as she did for Het, when I was a baby;
she made my wedding dress, and she came right to me when Gus died, but
I can't let you go back to Santa Paloma not knowing."
"Not knowing what?" Barry said, close upon the mystery at last.
"You know what Aunt Ide is," Mrs. Smiley said pleadingly. "There's
not a mite of harm in her, but she just—You know she'd been signing
Hetty's checks for a long time, Barry—" "Go on," Barry said, as she
"And she just went on—" Mrs. Smiley continued simply.
"Went on WHAT?" Barry demanded.
"After Het—went. Barry," the woman interrupted herself, "I
oughtn't be the one to tell you, but don't you see—Don't you see
"Dead," Barry heard his own voice say heavily. The cheap little
room seemed to be closing in about him, he gripped the back of the
chair by which he was standing. Mrs. Smiley began to cry quietly. They
stood so for a long time.
After a while he sat down, and she told him about it, with that
faithfulness to inessential detail that marks her class. Barry
listened like a man in a dream. Mrs. Smiley begged him to stay to
dinner to see "Aunt Ide," but he refused, and in the gritty dusk he
found himself walking down the street, alone in silence at last. He
took a car to the ocean beach, and far into the night sat on the
rocks watching the dark play of the rolling Pacific, and listening to
the steady rush and fall of the water.
The next day he saw his wife's mother, and at the sight of her
frightened, fat little face, and the sound of the high voice he knew
so well, the last shred of his anger and disgust vanished, and he
could only pity her. He remembered how welcome she had made him to
the little cottage in Plumas, those long years ago; how she had
laughed at his youthful appreciation of her Sunday fried chicken and
cherry pie, and the honest tears she had shed when he went, with the
dimpled Hetty beside him, to tell her her daughter was won. She was
Billy's grandmother, after all, and she had at least seen that Hetty
was protected all through her misguided little career from the breath
of scandal, and that Hetty's last days were made comfortable and
serene. He assured her gruffly that it was "all right," and she
presently brightened, and told him through tears that he was a
"king," when it was finally arranged that she should go on drawing
the rents of the Mission Street property for the rest of her life.
She and Mrs. Smiley persuaded him to dine with them, and he thought
it quite characteristic of "Aunt Ide" to make a little occasion of
it, and take them to a certain favored little French restaurant for
the meal. But Mrs. Smiley was tremulous with gratitude and relief,
Russell's face was radiant, his adoring eyes all for Barry, and
Barry, always willing to accept a situation gracefully, really
enjoyed his dinner.
He stayed in San Francisco another day and went to Hetty's grave,
high up in the Piedmont Hills, and took a long lonely tramp above the
college town afterward. Early the next morning he started for home,
fresh from a bath and a good breakfast, and feeling now, for the first
time, that he was free, and that it was good to be free— free to work
and to plan his life, and free, his innermost consciousness exulted to
realize, to go to her some day, the Lady of his Heart's Desire, and
take her, with all the fragrance and beauty that were part of her,
into his arms. And oh, the happy years ahead; he seemed to feel the
sweetness of spring winds blowing across them, and the glow of winter
fires making them bright! What of her fabulous wealth, after all, if
he could support her as she chose to live, a simple country
gentle-woman, in a little country town?
Barry stared out at the morning fields and hills, where fog and
sunshine were holding their daily battle, and his heart sang within
Fog held the field at Santa Paloma when he reached it, the station
building dripped somberly. Main Street was but a line of vague shapes
in the mist. No grown person was in sight, but Barry was not ten feet
from the train before a screaming horde of small boys was upon him,
with shouted news in which he recognized the one word, over and over:
It took him a few minutes to get the sense of what they said. He
stared at them dully. But when he first repeated it to himself aloud,
it seemed already old news; he felt as if he had known it for a very
long time: "The MAIL office caught fire yesterday, and the whole thing
is burned to the ground."
"Caught fire yesterday, and the whole thing is burned to the
ground: yes, of course," Barry said. He was not conscious of starting
for the scene, he was simply there. A fringe of idle watchers,
obscured in the fog, stood about the sunken ruins of what had been the
MAIL building. Barry joined them.
He did not answer when a dozen sympathetic murmurs addressed him,
because he was not conscious of hearing a single voice. He stood
silently, looking down at the twisted great knots of metal that had
been the new presses, the great wave of soaked and half-burned
newspapers that had been the last issue of the MAIL. The fire had
been twenty-four hours ago, but the ruins were still smoking. Lengths
of charred woodwork, giving forth a sickening odor, dripped water
still; here and there brave little spurts of flame still sucked
noisily. A twisted typewriter stood erect in steaming ashes; a
lunch-basket, with a red, fringed napkin in it, had somehow escaped
with only a wetting. Barry noticed that the walls of the German bakery
next door were badly singed, that one show-window was cracked across,
and that the frosted wedding-cake inside stood in a pool of dirty
He was presently aware that someone was telling him that nobody was
to blame. Details were volunteered, and he listened quietly, like a
dispassionate onlooker. "Hits you pretty hard, Barry," sympathetic
"Ruins me," he answered briefly.
And it dawned upon him sickly and certainly that it was true. He
was ruined now. All his hopes had been rooted here, in what was now
this mass of wet ashes steaming up into the fog. Here had been his
chance for a livelihood, and a name; his chance to stand before the
community for what was good, and strong, and helpful. He had been
proud because his editorials were beginning to be quoted here and
there; he had been keenly ambitious for Sidney's plans, her hopes for
Old Paloma. How vain it all was now, and how preposterous it seemed
that only an hour ago he had let his thoughts of the future include
her—always so far above him, and now so infinitely removed!
She would be sympathetic, he knew; she would be all kindness and
generosity. And perhaps, six months ago, he would have accepted more
generosity from her; but Barry had found himself now, and he knew
that she had done for him all he would let her do.
He smiled suddenly and grimly as he remembered another bridge, just
burned behind him. If he had not promised Hetty's mother that her
income should go on uninterruptedly, he might have pulled something
out of this wreckage, after all. For a moment he speculated: he COULD
sell the Mission Street property now; he might even revive the MAIL,
after a while—
But no, what was promised was promised, after all, and poor little
Mrs. Scott must be left to what peace and pleasure the certainty of
an income gave her. And he must begin again, somehow, somewhere,
burdened with a debt, burdened with a heartache, burdened with—His
heart turned with sudden warmth to the thought of Billy; Billy at
least, staunch little partner of so many dark days, and bright,
should not be counted a burden.
Even as he thought of his son, a small warm hand slid into his with
a reassuring pressure, and lie looked down to see the little figure
beside him. Moment after moment went by, timid shafts of gold
sunshine were beginning to conquer the mist now, and still father and
son stood silent, hand in hand.
The mischief was done; no use to stand there by the smoking ruins
of what had been his one real hope for himself and his life. After a
while Barry roused himself. There seemed to be nothing to do at the
moment, no more to be said. He and Billy walked up River Street to
their own gate, but when they reached it, Barry, obeying an
irresistible impulse, merely left his coat and suit-case there, and
went on through the Hall gateway, and up to the house.
The sun was coming out bravely now, and already he felt its warmth
in the garden. Everywhere the fog was rising, was fading against the
green of the trees. He followed a delicious odor of wood smoke and
the sound of voices, to the barnyard, and here found the lady of the
house, with her inevitable accompaniment of interested children.
Sidney was managing an immense brush fire with a long pole; her
gingham skirt pinned back trimly over a striped petticoat, her cheeks
flushed, her hair riotous under a gipsy hat.
At Barry's first word she dropped her pole, her whole face grew
radiant, and she came toward him holding out both her hands.
"Barry!" she said eagerly, her eyes trying to read his face, "how
glad I am you've come! We didn't know how to reach you. You've heard,
of course—! You've seen—?"
"The poor old MAIL? Yes, I'm just from there," he said soberly.
"Can we talk?"
"As long as you like," she answered briskly. And after some
directions to the children, she led him to the little garden seat
below the side porch, and they sat down. "Barry, you look tired," she
said then. "Do you know, I don't know where you've been all these
days, or what you went for? Was it to San Francisco?"
"San Francisco, yes," he assented, "I didn't dream I'd be there so
long." He rubbed his forehead with a weary hand. "I'll tell you all
about it presently," he said. "I had a letter from my wife's mother
that worried me, and I started off at half-cock, I got worrying—but
of course I should have written you—"
"Don't bother about that now, if it distresses you," she said
quickly and sympathetically. "Any time will do for that. I—I knew it
was something serious," she went on, relief in her voice, "or you
wouldn't have simply disappeared that way! I—I said so. Barry, are
He tried to laugh at the maternal attitude that was never long
absent in her, but the tears came into his eyes instead. After all
the strain and sleeplessness and despondency, it was too poignantly
sweet to find her so simply cheering and trustful, in her gipsy
dress, with the brightening sunlight and the sweet old garden about
her. Barry could have dropped on his knees to bury his face in her
skirts, and feel the motherly hands on his hair, but instead he
admitted honestly to hunger and fatigue.
Sidney vanished at once, and presently came back followed by her
black cook, both carrying a breakfast that Barry was to enjoy at once
under the rose vines. Sidney poured his coffee, and sat contentedly
nibbling toast while he fell upon the cold chicken and blackberries.
"Now," said her heartening voice, "we'll talk! What is to be done
first about the MAIL?"
"No insurance, you know," he began at once. "We never did carry any
in the old days and I suppose that's why I didn't. So that makes it a
dead loss. Worse than that—for I wasn't clear yet, you know. The safe
they carried out; so the books are all right, I suppose, although they
say we had better not open it for a few days. Then I can settle
everything up as far as possible. And after that—well, I've been
thinking that perhaps Barker, of the San Francisco TELEGRAM might give
me a start of some sort—" He rumpled his hair with a desperate
gesture. "The thing's come on me like such a thunderbolt that I really
haven't thought it out!" he ended apologetically.
"The thing's come on you like such a thunderbolt," she echoed
cheerfully, "that you aren't taking it like yourself at all! The
question, is if we work like Trojans from now on, can we get an issue
of the MAIL out tomorrow?"
"Get an issue out tomorrow!" he repeated, staring at her.
"Certainly. I would have done what I could about it," said Sidney
briskly, "but not knowing where you were, or when you were coming
back, my hands were absolutely tied. Now, Barry, LISTEN!" she broke
off, not reassured by his expression, "and don't jump at the
conclusion that it's impossible. What would it mean?"
"To get an issue of the MAIL out tomorrow? Why, great Scott, Sid,
you don't seem to realize that there's not a stick left standing!"
"I do realize. I was there until the fire was out," she said
calmly. And for a few minutes they talked of the fire. Then she said
abruptly: "Would Ferguson let you use the old STAR PRESS for a few
weeks, do you think?"
"I don't see why he should," Barry said perversely.
"I don't see why he shouldn't. I'll tell you something you don't
know. Night before last, Barry, while I was down in the office, old
Ferguson himself came in, and poked about, and asked various
questions. Finally he asked me what I thought the chances were of
your wanting to buy out the Star. What do you think at THAT?"
"He's sick of it, is he?" Barry said, with kindling eyes. "Well,
we've seen that coming, haven't we? I will be darned!" He shook his
head regretfully. "That would have been a big thing for the MAIL" he
said, "but it's all up now!"
"Not necessarily," the lady undauntedly rejoined. "I've been
thinking, Barry," she went on, "if you reordered the presses, they'd
give you plenty of time to pay for them, wouldn't they? Might even
take something off the price, under the circumstances?"
"I suppose they might." He made an impatient gesture. "But that's
"One item, I know. But it's the main item. Then you could rent the
office and loft over the old station, couldn't you? And move the old
Star press in there this afternoon."
"This afternoon," said Barry calmly.
"Well, we don't gain anything by waiting. You can write a manly and
affecting editorial,"—her always irrepressible laughter broke out,
"full of allusions to the phoenix, you know! And my regular Saturday
column is all done, and Miss Porter can send in something, and
there's any amount of stuff about the Folsom lawsuit. And Young,
Mason and Company ought to take at least a page to advertise their
premium day to-morrow. I'll come down as soon as you've moved—"
Barry reached for his hat.
"The thing can't be done," he announced firmly, "but, by George,
Sid, you would give a field mouse courage! And what a grandstand
play, if we COULD put it through! There's not a second to be lost,
though. But look here," and with sudden gravity he took both her
hands, "it'll take some more money, you know."
"I have some more money," she answered serenely.
"Well, I'll GET some!" he declared emphatically. "It won't be so
much, either, once we get started. And so old Ferguson wanted to
sell, did he?"
"He did. And we'll buy the STAR yet." They were on the path now.
"Telephone me when you can," she said, "and don't lose a minute now!
And Barry's great stride had taken him half-way down River Street,
his hands in his pockets, his mind awhirl with plans, before it
occurred to him that he had not told her the news of Hetty, after
On that same afternoon, several of the most influential members of
the Santa Paloma Woman's Club met informally at Mrs. Carew's house.
Some of the directors were there, Miss Pratt, Mrs. Lloyd and Mrs.
Adams, and of course Mrs. White, who had indeed been instrumental in
arranging the meeting. They had met to discuss Mrs. Burgoyne's plan
of using the clubhouse as a meeting place for the Old Paloma factory
girls. All these ladies were quite aware that their verdict, however
unofficial, would influence the rest of the club, and that what this
group of a dozen or fifteen decided upon to-day would practically
settle the matter.
Mrs. Willard White, hitherto serenely supreme in this little world,
was curiously upset about the whole thing, openly opposed to Mrs.
Burgoyne's suggestion, and surprised that her mere wish in the matter
was not sufficient to carry a negative vote. Her contention was that
the clubhouse had been built for very different purposes than those
Mrs. Burgoyne proposed, and that charity to the Old Paloma girls had
no part in the club's original reasons for being. She meant, in the
course of the argument, to hint that while so many of the actual
necessities of decent living were lacking in the factory settlement
homes, mere dancing and moving-pictures did not appeal to her as
reasonable or right; and although uneasily aware that she supported
the unpopular argument, still she was confident of an eventual
But despite the usual laughter, and the pleasantries and
compliments, there was an air of deadly earnestness about the
gathered club-women today that bespoke a deeper interest than was
common in the matter up for discussion. The President's color rose
and deepened steadily, as the afternoon wore on, and one voice after
another declared for the new plan, and her arguments became a little
less impersonal and a little more sharp. This was especially
noticeable when, as was inevitable, the name of Mrs. Burgoyne was
"I personally feel," said Mrs. White finally, "that perhaps we
Santa Paloma women are just a little bit undignified when we allow a
perfect stranger to come in among us, and influence our lives so
materially, JUST because she happens to be a multi-millionaire. Are
we so swayed by mere money? I hope not. I hope we all live our lives
as suits US best, not to please—or shall I say flatter, and perhaps
win favor with?—a rich woman. We—some of us, that is!"—her smile
was all lenience—"have suddenly decided we can dress more simply,
have suddenly decided to put our girls into gingham rompers, and
instead of giving them little dancing parties, let them play about
like boys! We wonder why we need spend our money on imported hats and
nice dinners and hand-embroidered underwear, and Oriental rugs,
although we thought these things very well worth having a few months
ago—and why? Just because we are easily led, I'm afraid, and not
quite conscious enough of our own dignity!"
There had been a decided heightening of color among the listening
women during this little speech, and, as the President finished, more
than one pair of eyes rested upon her with a slightly resentful
steadiness. There was a short silence, in which several women were
gathering their thoughts for speech, but Mrs. Brown, always popular
in Santa Paloma, from the days of her short braids and short dresses,
and quite the youngest among them to-day, was the first to speak.
"I daresay that is quite true, Mrs. White," said Mrs. Brown, with
dignity, "except that I don't think Mrs. Burgoyne's money influences
me, or any of us! I admit that she herself, quite apart from her
great fortune, has influenced me tremendously in lots of ways, but I
don't think she ever tried to do it, or realizes that she has. And as
far as copying goes, don't we women always copy somebody, anyway?
Aren't we always imitating the San Francisco women, and don't they
copy New York, and doesn't New York copy London or Paris? We read
what feathers are in, and how skirts are cut, and how coffee and
salads are served, and we all do it, or try to. And when Mrs.
Burgoyne came to the Hall, and never took one particle of interest in
that sort of thing, I just thought it over and wondered why I should
attempt to impress a woman who could buy this whole town and not miss
Laughter interrupted her, and some sympathetic clapping, but she
presently went on seriously:
"I took all the boys' white socks one day, and dyed them dark
brown. And I dyed all their white suits dark blue. I've gotten myself
some galatea dresses that nothing tears or spoils, and that come home
fresh and sweet from the wash every week. And, as a result, I
actually have some time to spare, for the first time since I was
married. We are going to try some educational experiments on the
children this winter, and, if that leaves any leisure, I am heart and
soul for this new plan. Doctor Brown feels as I do. Of course, he's a
doctor," said the loyal little wife, "and he KNOWS! And he says that
all those Old Paloma girls want is a little mothering, and that when
there are mothers enough to go round, there won't be any charity or
legislation needed in this world."
"I think you've said it all, for all of us, Mary!" Mrs. Carew said,
when some affectionate applause had subsided. "I think things were
probably different, a few generations ago," she went on, "but
nowadays when fashions are so arbitrary, and change so fast, really
and honestly, some of us, whose incomes are limited, will have to
stop somewhere. Why, the very children expect box-parties, and
motor-trips, and caterers' suppers, in these days. And one wouldn't
mind, if it left time for home life, and reading, and family
intercourse, but it doesn't. We don't know what our children are
studying, what they're thinking about, or what life means to them at
all, because we are too busy answering the telephone, and planning
clothes, and writing formal notes, and going to places we feel we
ought to be seen in. I'm having more fun than I had in years, helping
our children plan some abridged plays from Shakespeare, with the
Burgoyne girls, for this winter, and I'm perfectly astonished, even
though I'm their mother, at their enjoyment of it, and at my own. Mr.
Carew himself, who NEVER takes much interest in that sort of thing,
asked me why they couldn't give them for the Old Paloma Girls' Club,
if they get a club room. I didn't know he even knew anything about our
club plans. I said, 'George, are you willing to have Jeannette get
interested in that crowd?' and he said, 'Finest thing in the world for
her!' and I don't know," finished Mrs. Carew, thoughtfully, "but what
"I'm all for it," said breezy Mrs. Lloyd, "I don't imagine I'd be
any good at actually talking to them, but I would go to the dances,
and introduce people, and trot partners up to the wallflowers—"
There was more laughter, and then Mrs. Adams said briskly:
"Well, let's take an informal vote!"
"I don't think that's necessary, Sue," said Mrs. White, generously,
"I think I am the only one of us who believes in preserving the
tradition of the dear old club, and I must bow to the majority, of
course. Perhaps it will be a little hard to see strangers there; our
pretty floors ruined, and our pretty walls spotted, but—" an
eloquent shrug, and a gesture of her pretty hands finished the
sentence with the words, "isn't that the law?"
And upon whole-hearted applause for Mrs. White, Mrs. Carew
tactfully introduced the subject of tea.
They were all chatting amicably enough in the dining-room a few
minutes later when George Carew and Barry Valentine came in. Barry,
who seemed excited, exhilarated and tired, had come to borrow a
typewriter from the Carews. He responded to sympathetic inquiries,
that he had been working like a madman since noon, and that there
would be an issue of the Mail ready for them in the morning. He said,
"everyone had been simply corking about everything," and it began to
look like smooth sailing now. In the few minutes that he waited for
young George Carew to find the typewriter and bring it down to him, a
fresh interruption occurred in the entrance of old Mrs. Apostleman.
Mrs. Apostleman, between being out of breath from hurrying up the
hill in the late afternoon heat, and fearful that the gathering would
break up before she could say what she wanted to say, and entirely
unable to control her gasping and puffing, was a sight at once funny
and pitiable. As she sank into a comfortable chair she held up one fat
hand to command attention, and with the other laid forcible hold upon
Barry Valentine. Three or four of the younger women hurried to her
with fans and tea, and in a moment or two she really could manage
"Thanks, me dear. No, no cake. Just a mouthful of tea to—there,
that's better! I was afraid ye'd all be gone—that'll do, thank ye,
Susie! Well," she set down her tea-cup, "well! I've a little piece of
news for you all—don't go, Barry, you'll be interested in this, and I
couldn't wait to come up and tell ye!" She began to fumble in her bag,
and presently produced therefrom her eye-glasses and a letter. The
latter she opened with a great crackling of paper.
"This is from me brother, Alexander Wetherall," said she, with an
impressive glance over her glasses. "As ye know, he's a family lawyer
in New York, he has the histories of half the old families in the
country pigeon-holed away in those old offices of his. He doesn't
write me very often; his wife does now and then—stupid woman, but
nice. However, I wrote him in May, and told him Mrs. Burgoyne had
bought the Hall, and just asked him what he knew about her and her
people. Here—"marking a certain line with a pudgy, imperative finger,
she handed a page of the letter to Barry, "read from there on," she
commanded, "this is what he says."
Barry took the paper, but hesitated.
"It's all right!" said the old lady, impatiently, "nobody could say
anything that wasn't good about Sidney Burgoyne."
Thus reassured, Barry turned obediently to the indicated place.
"'You ask me about your new neighbor,'" he read, "'I suppose of
course you know that she is Paul Frothingham's only child by his
second marriage. Her mother died while she was a baby, and
Frothingham took her all over the world with him, wherever he went.
She married very young, Colonel John Burgoyne, of the Maryland
family, older than she, but a very fine fellow. As a girl and as his
wife she had an extraordinary opportunity for social success, she was
a great favorite in the diplomatic circle at Washington, and well
known in the best London set, and in the European capitals. She seems
to be quite a remarkable young woman, but you are all wrong about her
money; she is very far from rich. She—'"
Barry stopped short. Mrs. Apostleman cackled delightedly; no one
"'She got very little of Frothingham's money,'" Barry presently
read on, '"it came to him from his first wife, who was a widow with
two daughters when he married her. The money naturally reverted to her
girls, Mrs. Fred Senior and Mrs. Spencer Mack, both of this city.'"
"Ha! D'ye get that?" said Mrs. Apostleman. "Go on!"
"'Frothingham left his own daughter something considerably less
than a hundred thousand dollars,'" Barry presently resumed, "'not more
than seventy or eighty thousand, certainly. It is still invested in
the estate. It must pay her three or four thousand a year. And
besides that she has only Burgoyne's insurance, twenty or twenty-
five thousand, for those years of illness pretty well used up his own
money. I believe the stepsisters were very anxious to make her a more
generous arrangement, but she seems to have declined it. Alice says
they are quite devoted—'"
"Alice don't count!" said the old lady "that's his wife. That's
enough." She stopped the reader and refolded the letter, her
mischievous eyes dancing. "Well, what d'ye think of that?" she
Barry's bewildered, "Well, I will be darned!" set loose a babel of
tongues. Mrs. Apostleman had not counted in vain upon a sensation;
everyone talked at once. Mrs. White's high, merry laugh dominated all
the other voices.
"So there is a very much better reason for this simple-dinner-blue-
gingham existence than we supposed," said the President of the Santa
Paloma Women's Club amusedly when the first rush of comment died
away. "I think that is quite delicious! While all of us were feeling
how superior she was not to get a motor, and not to rebuild the Hall,
she was simply living within her income, and making the best of it!"
"I don't know that it makes her any less superior," Mrs. Carew said
thoughtfully. "It—it certainly makes her seem—NICER. I never
suspected her of—well, of preaching, exactly, but I have sometimes
thought that she really couldn't enter into our point of view, with
all that money! I think I'm going to like her more than ever!" she
"Why, it's the greatest relief in the world!" exclaimed Mrs. Adams.
"I've been rather holding back about going up there, and imitating
her, because I honestly didn't want to be influenced by eight
millions, and I was afraid. I WAS. Not a week ago Wayne asked me if I
thought she'd like him to donate a sewing machine to her Girls' Club
for them to run up their little costumes with—he has the agency, you
know—and I said, 'Oh, don't, Wayne, she can buy them a sewing machine
apiece if she wants to, and never know it!' But I'm going to make him
write her, TO-NIGHT," said Mrs. Adams, firmly, "and I declare I feel
as if a weight had dropped off my shoulders. It MEANS so much more
now, if we offer her the club. It means that we aren't merely giving a
Lady Bountiful her way, but that we're all working together like
neighbors, and trying to do some good in the world."
"And I don't think there's any question that she would live exactly
this way," Miss Pratt contributed shyly, "and play with the children,
and dress as she does, even if she had fifty millions! She's simply
found out what pays in this life, and what doesn't pay, and I think a
good many of us were living too hard and fast ever to stop and think
whether it was really worth while or not. She's the happiest woman I
ever knew; it makes one happy just to be with her, and no money can
"But it's curious she never has taken the trouble to undeceive us,"
said Mrs. White beginning to fit on an immaculate pair of white
gloves, finger by finger.
"Why—you'll see!—She never dreamed we thought she was anything
but one of ourselves." Mrs. Brown predicted. "Why should she? When did
she ever speak of money, or take the least interest in money? She
never speaks of it. She says 'I can't afford the time, or I can't
afford the effort,' that's what counts with her. Doesn't it, Barry?"
"Barry, do you really suppose—" Mrs. Carew was beginning, as she
turned to the doorway where he had been standing.
But Barry had gone.
Barry went straight up to the Hall, but Sidney was not there.
Joanna and Ellen, busily murmuring over "Flower Ladies" on the wide
terrace steps, told him that Mother was to be late to supper, and,
with obviously forced hospitality and one eye upon their little
families of inverted roses and hollyhocks, asked him to wait. Barry
thanked them, but couldn't wait.
He went like a man in a dream down River Street, past gardens that
glowed with fragrant beauty, and under the great trees and the warm,
sunset sky. And what a good world it seemed to be alive in, and what
a friendly village in which to find work and love and content. A
dozen returning householders, stopping at their gates, wanted the
news of his venture, a dozen freshly-clad, interested women, watering
lawns in the shade, called out to wish him good fortune. And always,
before his eyes, the thought of the vanished millions danced like a
star. She was not infinitely removed, she was not set apart by great
fortune, she was only the sweetest and best of women, to be wooed and
won like any other. He ran upstairs and flung open the door of the
little bare new office of the MAIL, like an impetuous boy. There was
no one there. But a wide white hat with a yellow rose pinned on it
hung above the new oak desk in the corner, and his heart rose at the
sight. His own desk had an improvised drop light hung over it; he
lowered the typewriter from his cramped arm upon a mass of clippings
and notes. Beyond this room was the great bare loft, where two or
three oily men were still toiling in the fading light over the
establishing of the old STAR press. Sashes had been taken from one of
the big windows to admit the entrance of the heavier parts; thick
pulley ropes dangled at the sill. Great unopened bundles of gray paper
filled the center of the floor, a slim amused youth was putting the
finishing touches to a telephone on the wall, and Sidney, bare-headed,
very business-like and keenly interested, was watching everybody and
making suggestions. She greeted Barry with a cheerful wave of the
"There you are!" she said, relievedly. "Come and see what you think
of this. Do you know this office is going to be much nicer than the
old one? How goes everything with you?"
"Like lightning!" he answered. "At this rate, there's nothing to it
at all. Have the press boys showed up yet?"
"They are over at the hotel, getting their dinners," she explained.
"And we have borrowed lamps from the hotel to use here this evening.
Did you hear that Martin, of the Press, you know, has offered to send
over the A.P. news as fast as it comes in? Isn't that very decent of
him? Here's Miss Porter's stuff."
She sat down, and began to assort papers on her desk, quite
absorbed in what she was doing. Barry, at his own desk, opened and
shut a drawer or two noisily, but he was really watching her, with a
thumping heart. Watching the bare brown head, the lowered lashes, the
mouth that moved occasionally in time with her busy thoughts—
Suddenly she looked up, and their eyes met.
Without the faintest consciousness of what he did, Barry crossed
the floor between them, and as, on an equally unconscious impulse, she
stood up, paling and breathless, he laid his hand over hers on the
littered desk, and they stood so, staring at each other, the desk
"Sidney," he said incoherently, "who—where—where did your
father's money go—who got it?"
She looked at him in utter bewilderment.
"Where did WHAT—father's money? Who got it? Are you crazy, Barry?"
"Ah, Sidney, tell me! Did it come to you?"
"Why—why—" She seemed suddenly to understand that there was some
reason for the question, and answered quite readily: "It belonged to
my father's first wife, Barry, most of it. And it went to her
daughters, my step-sisters, they are older than I and both married—
"Then you're NOT worth eight million dollars?"
"I—? Why, you know I'm not!" Her eyes were at their widest. "Who
ever said I was? _I_ never said so!"
"But everyone in town thinks so!" Barry's great sigh of relief came
from his very soul.
Sidney, pale before, grew very red. She freed her hands, and sat
"Well, they are very silly, then!" she said, almost crossly. And as
the thought expanded, she added, "But I don't see how anyone COULD!
They must have thought my letting them help me out with the Flower
Show and begging for the Old Paloma girls was a nice piece of
affectation! If I had eight million dollars, or one million, don't
you suppose I'd be DOING something, instead of puttering away with
just the beginning of things!" The annoyed color deepened. "I hope
you're mistaken, Barry," said she. "Why didn't you set them right?"
"I! Why, I thought so too!"
"Oh, Barry! What a hypocrite you must have thought me!" She buried
her rosy face in her hand for a moment. Presently she rushed on, half
indignantly, "—With all my talk about the sinfulness of American
women, who persistently attempt a scheme of living that is far beyond
their incomes! And talking of the needs of the poor all over the
world, with all that money lying idle!"
"I thought of it chiefly as an absolute and immovable barrier
between us," Barry said honestly, "and that was as far as my thinking
Her eyes met his with that curious courage she had when a difficult
moment had to be faced.
"There is a more serious barrier than that between us," she
reminded him gravely.
"Hetty!" he said stupidly. "But I TOLD you—"
But he stopped short, realizing that he had not yet told her, and
rather at a loss.
"You didn't tell me anything," she said, eyeing him steadily.
"Why," Barry's tone was much lower, "I meant to tell you first of
all, but—you know what a day I have had! It seems impossible that I
only left San Francisco this morning."
He brought his chair from his own desk, and sat opposite her, and,
while the summer twilight outside deepened into dusk, unmindful of
time, he went over the pitiful little story. Sidney listened, her
serious eyes never leaving his face, her fine hands locked idly
before her. The telephone boy and the movers had gone now, and there
was silence all about.
"You have suffered enough, Barry; thank God it is all over!" she
said, at the end, "and we know," she went on, with one of her rare
revelations of the spiritual deeps that lay so close to the surface
of her life, "we know that she is safe and satisfied at last, in His
care." For a moment her absent eyes seemed to fathom far spaces.
Barry abruptly broke the silence.
"For one year, Sidney," he said, in a purposeful, steady voice that
was new to her, and that brought her eyes, almost startled, to his
face, "for one year I'm going to show you what I can do. In that time
the Mail will be where it was before the fire, if all goes well. And
"Then—" she said, a little unsteadily, rising and gathering hat
and gloves together, "then you shall come to me and tell me anything
you like! But—but not now! All this is so new and so strange—"
"Ah, but Sidney!" he pleaded, taking her hands again, "mayn't I
speak of it just this one day, and then never again? Let me think for
this whole year that PERHAPS you will marry a country editor, and that
we shall spend the rest of our lives together, writing and planning,
and tramping through the woods, and picnicking with the kiddies on the
river, and giving Christmas parties for every little rag-tag and
bob-tail in Old Paloma!"
"But you don't want to settle down in this stupid village," she
laughed tremulously, tears on her lashes, "at the ugly old Hall, and
among these superficial empty-headed women?"
"Just here," he said, smiling at his own words, "in the sweetest
place in the world, among the best neighbors! I never want to go
anywhere else. Our friends are here, our work is here—"
"And we are here!" she finished it for him, laughing. Barry, with a
great rising breath, put his arms about the white figure, and crushed
her to him, and Sidney laid her hand on his shoulder, and raised her
face honestly for his first kiss.
"And now let me go home to my neglected girls," she said, after an
interval. "You have a busy night ahead of you, and your press boys
will be here any minute."
But first she took a sheet of yellow copy paper, and wrote on it,
"One year of silence. August thirtieth to August thirtieth." "Is this
inclusive?" she asked, looking up.
"Exclusive," said Barry, firmly.
"Exclusive," she echoed obediently. And when she had added the
word, she folded the sheet and gave it to Barry. "There is a little
reminder for you," said she.
Barry went down to the street door with her, to watch her start
homeward in the sweet summer darkness.
"Oh, one more thing I meant to say," she said, as they stood on the
platform of what had been the old station, "I don't know why I
haven't said it already, or why you haven't."
"And that is, Madam—?" he asked attentively.
"It's just this," she swayed a little nearer to him—her laughing
voice was no more than a whisper. "I love you, Barry!"
"Haven't I said that?" he asked a little hoarsely.
"Then I say it," he answered steadily, "I love you, my darling!"
"Oh, not here, Barry—in the street!" was Mrs. Burgoyne's next
But there was no moon, and no witnesses but the blank walls and
shuttered windows of neighboring storehouses. And the silent year had
not, after all, fairly begun.