Seven Miles to Arden
by Ruth Sawyer
SEVEN MILES TO ARDEN
Author of The Primrose Ring
Harper &Brothers Publishers New York &London
SEVEN MILES TO ARDEN
Copyright, 1915, 1916, by The Curtis Publishing Company Copyright,
by Harper &Brothers Printed in the United States of America
Published April, 1916
* * * * *
BOOKS BY RUTH SAWYER
SEVEN MILES TO ARDEN. Illustrated. Post 8vo
THE PRIMROSE RING. Illustrated. Post 8vo
HARPER &BROTHERS, NEW YORK
* * * * *
[Illustration: (See page 220)
Where twin oaks rustle in the wind
There waits a lad for Rosalind"]
It leads away, at the ring o' day,
On to the beckoning hills;
And the throstles sing by the holy spring
Which the Blessed Virgin fills.
White is the road and light is the load,
For the burden we bear together.
Our feet beat time on the upward climb
That ends in the purpling heather.
There is spring in the air and everywhere
The throb of a life new-born,
In mating thrush and blossoming brush,
In the hush o' the glowing morn.
Our hearts bound free as the open sea;
Where now is our dole o' sorrow?
The winds have swept the tears we've wept
And promise a braver morrow.
But this I pray as we go our way:
To find the Hills o' Heather,
And, at hush o' night, in peace to light
Our roadside fire together.
I. THE WAY OF IT 1
II. A SIGN-POST POINTS TO AN ADVENTURE 12
III. PATSY PLAYS A PART 25
IV. THE OCCUPANT OF A BALMACAAN COAT 39
V. A TINKER POINTS THE ROAD 48
VI. AT DAY'S END 64
VII. THE TINKER PLAYS A PART 85
VIII. WHEN TWO WERE NOT COMPANY 106
IX. PATSY ACQUIRES SOME INFORMATION 121
X. JOSEPH JOURNEYS TO A FAR COUNTRY 139
XI. AND CHANCE STAGES MELODRAMA INSTEAD OF
XII. A CHANGE OF NATIONALITY 165
XIII. A MESSAGE AND A MAP 191
XIV. ENTER KING MIDAS 202
XV. ARDEN 216
XVI. THE ROAD BEGINS ALL OVER AGAIN 231
SEVEN MILES TO ARDEN
I. THE WAY OF IT
Patsy O'Connell sat on the edge of her cot in the women's free ward
of the City Hospital. She was pulling on a vagabond pair of gloves
while she mentally gathered up a somewhat doubtful, ragged lot of
prospects and stood them in a row before her for contemplation,
comparison, and a final choice. They strongly resembled the contents of
her steamer trunk, held at a respectable boarding-house in University
Square by a certain Miss Gibb for unpaid board, for these were made up
of a jumble of priceless and worthless belongings, unmarketable because
of their extremes.
She had time a-plenty for contemplation; the staff wished to see her
before she left, and the staff at that moment was consulting at the
other end of the hospital.
Properly speaking, Patsy was Patricia O'Connell, but no one had ever
been known to refer to her in that cold-blooded manner, save on the
programs of the Irish National Playsand in the City Hospital's
register. What the City Hospital knew of Patsy was precisely what the
American public and press knew, what the National Players knew, what
the world at large knewprecisely what Patricia O'Connell had chosen
to tellnothing more, nothing less. They had accepted her on her own
scanty terms and believed in her implicitly. There was one thing
undeniably true about herher reality. Having established this fact
beyond a doubt, it was a simple matter to like her and trust her.
No one had ever thought it necessary to question Patsy about her
nationality; it was too obvious. Concerning her past and her family she
answered every one alike: Sure, I was born without either. I was found
by accident, just, one morning hanging on to the thorn of a Killarney
rose-bush that happened to be growing by the Brittany coast. They say I
was found by the Physician to the King, who was traveling past, and
that's how it comes I can speak French and King's English equally pure;
although I'm not denying I prefer them both with a bit of brogue. She
always thought in Irishstraight, Donegal Irishwith a dropping of
final g's, a bur to the r's, and a ye for a you. Invariably this
was her manner of speech with those she loved, or toward whom she felt
the kinship of sympathetic understanding.
To those who pushed their inquisitiveness about ancestry to the
breaking-point Patsy blinked a pair of steely-blue eyes while she
wrinkled her forehead into a speculative frown: Faith! I can hearken
back to Adam the same as yourselves; but if it's some one more modern
you're asking forthere's that rascal, Dan O'Connell. He's too long
dead to deny any claim I might put on him, so devil a word will I be
saying. Onlyif ye should find by chance, any time, that I'd rather
fight with my wits than my fists, ye can lay that to Dan's door; along
with the stubbornness of a tinker's ass.
People had been known to pry into her religion; and on these Patsy
smiled indulgently as one does sometimes on overcurious children.
Sure, I believe in every oneand as for a church, there's not a place
that goes by the namesynagogue, meeting-house, or cathedralthat I
can't be finding a wee bit of God waiting inside for me. But I'll own
to it, honestly, that when I'm out seeking Him, I find Him easiest on
some hilltop, with the wind blowing hard from the sea and never a human
soul in sight.
This was approximately all the world and the press knew of Patsy
O'Connell, barring the fact that she was neighboring in the twenties,
was fresh, unspoiled, and charming, and that she had played the ingénue
parts with the National Players, revealing an art that promised a good
future, should luck bring the chance. Unfortunately this chance was not
numbered among the prospects Patsy reviewed from the edge of her
hospital cot that day.
The interest of the press and the public approval of the National
Irish Players had not proved sufficient to propitiate that iron-hearted
monster, Financial Success. The company went into bankruptcy before
they had played half their bookings. Their final curtain went down on a
bit of serio-comic drama staged, impromptu, on a North River dock, with
barely enough cash in hand to pay the company's home passage. On this
occasion Patsy had missed her cue for the first time. She had been left
in the wings, so to speak; and that night she filled the only vacant
bed in the women's free ward of the City Hospital.
It was pneumonia. Patsy had tossed about and moaned with the racking
pain of it, raving deliriously through her score or more of rôles. She
had gone dancing off with the Faery Child to the Land of Heart's
Desire; she had sat beside the bier in The Riders to the Sea; she had
laughed through The Full o' Moon, and played the Fool while the Wise
Man died. The nurses and doctors had listened with open-eyed wonder and
secret enjoyment; she had allowed them to peep into a new world too
full of charm and lure to be denied; and then of a sudden she had
settled down to a silent, grim tussle with the Gray Brother.
This was all weeks past. It was early June now; the theatrical
season was closed for two months, with no prospects in the booking
agencies until August. In the mean time she had eight dollars,
seventy-six cents, and a crooked sixpence as available collateral; and
an unpaid board bill.
Patsy felt sorry for Miss Gibb, but she felt no shame.
Boarding-house keepers, dressmakers, bootmakers, and the like must take
the risk along with the players themselves in the matter of getting
paid for their services. If the publicwho paid two dollars a seat for
a performancefailed to appear, and box-office receipts failed to
margin their salaries, it was their misfortune, not their fault; and
others had to suffer along with them. But these debts of circumstance
never troubled Patsy. She paid them when she could, and when she could
notthere was always her trunk.
The City Hospital happened to know the extent of Patsy's property;
it is their business to find out these little private matters
concerning their free patients. They had also drawn certain conclusions
from the facts that no one had come to see Patsy and that no
communications had reached her from anywhere. It looked to them as if
Patsy were down and out, to state it baldly. Now the Patsys that come
to free wards of city hospitals are very rare; and the superintendent
and staff and nurses were interested beyond the usual limits set by
their time and work and the professional hardening of their cardiac
She's not to leave here until we find out just who she's got to
look after her until she gets on her feet again, understandand the
old doctor tapped the palm of his left hand with his right forefinger,
a sign of important emphasis.
Therefore the day nurse had gone to summon the staff while Patsy
still sat obediently on the edge of her cot, pulling on her vagabond
gloves, reviewing her prospects, and waiting.
My! but we'll miss you! came the voice from the woman in the next
bed, who had been watching her regretfully for some time.
It's my noise ye'll be missing. And Patsy smiled back at her a
winning, comrade sort of smile.
You kind o' got us all acquainted with one another and thinkin'
about somethin' else but pains and troubles. It'll seem awful lonesome
with you gone, and the woman beyond heaved a prodigious sigh.
Don't ye believe it, said Patsy, with conviction. They'll be
fetching in some one a good bit better to fill my placeye see, just.
No, they won't; 'twill be another dago, likely
Whist! Patsy raised a silencing finger and looked fearsomely over
her shoulder to the bed back of her.
Its inmate lay covered to the cheek, but one could catch a glimpse
of tangled black hair and a swarthy skin. Patsy rose and went softly
over to the bed; her movement disturbed the woman, who opened dumb,
I'll be gone in a minute, dear; I want just to tell you how sorry I
am. ButsureMother Mary has it safeand she's keeping it for ye.
She stooped and brushed the forehead with her lips, as the staff and
two of the nurses appeared.
Faith! is it a delegation or a constabulary? And Patsy laughed the
laugh that had made her famous from Dublin to Duluth, where the
bankruptcy had occurred.
It's a self-appointed committee to find out just where you're going
after you leave here, said the young doctor.
Patsy eyed him quizzically. That's not manners to ask personal
questions. But I don't mind telling ye all, confidentially, that I
haven't my mind made yet betweena reception at the Vincent
Wanderlusts'or a musicale at the Ritz-Carlton.
Look here, lassiethe old doctor ruffled his beard and threw out
his chest like a mammoth pouter pigeonyou'll have to give us a
sensible answer before we let you go one step. You know you can't
expect to get very far with thatin this city, and he tapped the bag
on her wrist significantly.
Patsy flushed crimson. For the first time in her life, to her
knowledge, the world had discovered more about her than she had
intended. Those humiliating eight dollars, seventy-six cents, and the
crooked sixpence seemed to be scorching their way through the leather
that held them. But she met the eyes looking into hers with a flinty
Sure, 'twould carry me a long way, I'm thinking, if I spent it by
the ha'penny bit. Then she laughed in spite of herself. If ye don't
look for all the world like a parcel of old mother hens that have just
hatched out a brood o' wild turkeys! She suddenly checked her
Irishit was apt to lead her into compromising situations with
Anglo-Saxon folk, if she did not leash her tongueand slid into
English. You see, I really know quite a number of people hererather
Why haven't they come to see you, then? asked the day nurse,
Patsy eyed her with admiration. You'd never make a press agentor
a doctor, I'm afraid; you're too truthful.
You see, explained the old doctor, these friends of yours are
what we professional people term hypothetical cases. We'd like to be
sure of something real.
One of Patsy's vagabond gloves closed over the doctor's hand. Bless
you all for your goodness! but the people are more real than you think.
Everybody believes I went back with the company and I never bothered
them with the truth, you see. I've more than one good friend among the
theatrical crowd right here; butwell, you know how it is; if you are
a bit down on your luck you keep away from your own world, if you can.
There is a girljust about my own agein society here. We did a lot
for her in the way of giving her a good time when she was in Dublin,
and I've seen her quite a bit over here. I'm going to her to get
something to do before the season begins. She may need a secretary or a
governessor acook. Holy Saint Martin! but I can cook! And Patsy
clasped her hands in an ecstatic appreciation of her culinary art; it
was the only one of which she was boastful.
I'll tell you what, said the old doctor, gruffly, we will let you
go if you will promise to come back ifif no one's at home. It's
against rules, but I'll see the superintendent keeps your bed for you
Thank you, said Patsy. She waved a farewell to the staff and the
ward as she went through the door. I don't know where I'm going or
what I shall be finding, but if it's anything worth sharing I'll send
some back to you all.
The staff watched her down the corridor to the elevator.
Gee! exclaimed the youngest doctor, his admiration working out to
the surface. When she's made her name I'm going to marry her.
Oh, are you? The voice of the old doctor took on its habitual
tartness. Acute touch of philanthropy, whateh?
Patricia O'Connell swung the hospital door behind her and stepped
out into a blaze of June sunshine. Holy Saint Patrick! but it feels
good. Now if I could be an alley cat for two months I could get along
She cast a backward look toward the granite front of the City
Hospital and her eyes grew as blue and soft as the waters of Killarney.
Sure, cat or human, the world's a grand place to be alive in.
II. A SIGN-POST POINTS TO AN
Marjorie Schuyler sat in her own snug little den, her toy ruby
spaniel on a cushion at her feet, her lap full of samples of white,
shimmering crêpes and satins. She fingered them absent-mindedly, her
mind caught in a maze of wedding intricacies and dates, and whirled
between an ultimate choice between October and June of the following
The world knew all there was to know about Marjorie Schuyler. It
could tell to a nicety who her paternal and maternal grandparents were,
back to old Peter Schuyler's time and the settling of the Virginian
Berkeleys. It could figure her income down to a paltry hundred of the
actual amount. It knew her age to the month and day. In fact, it had
kept her calendar faithfully, from her coming-out party, through the
periods of mourning for her parents and her subsequent returns to
society, through the rumors of her engagements to half a dozen young
leaders at home and abroad, down to her latest conquest.
The last date on her calendar was the authorized announcement of her
engagement to young Burgeman. Hence the shimmering samples and the
relative values of October and June for a wedding journey.
And the world knew more than these things concerning Marjorie
Schuyler. It knew that she was beautiful, of regal bearing and
distinguished manner. An aunt lived with her, to lend dignity and
chaperonage to her position; but she managed her own affairs, social
and financial, for herself. If the world had been asked to choose a
modern prototype for the young, independent American girl of the
leisure class, it is reasonably safe to assume it would have named
As for young Burgeman, the world knew him as the Rich Man's Son.
That was the best and worst it could say of him.
I think, Toto, said Marjorie Schuyler to her toy ruby spaniel, it
will be June. There is only one thing you can do with Octobera church
wedding, chrysanthemums, and oak leaves. But June offers so many
possible variations. Besides, that gives us both one last, untrammeled
season in town. Yes, June it is; and we'll not have to think about
these yet awhile. Whereupon she dropped the shimmering samples into
A maid pushed aside the hangings that curtained her den from the
great Schuyler library. There's a young person giving the name of
O'Connell, asking to see you. Shall I say you are out?
O'Connell? Marjorie Schuyler raised a pair of interrogatory
eyebrows. Whyit can't be. The entire company went back weeks ago.
What is she likesmall and brown, with very pink cheeks and very blue
The maid nodded ambiguously.
Bring her up. I know it can't be, but
But it was. The next moment Marjorie Schuyler was taking a firm grip
of Patsy's shoulders while she looked down with mock disapproval at the
girl who reached barely to her shoulder.
Patsy O'Connell! Why didn't you go home with the othersand what
have you done to your cheeks?
Patsy attacked them with two merciless fists. Sure, they're after
needing a pinch of north-of-Ireland wind, that's all. How's yourself?
Marjorie Schuyler pushed her gently into a great chair, while she
herself took a carved baronial seat opposite. The nearness of anything
so exquisitely perfect as Marjorie Schuyler, and the comparison it was
bound to suggest, would have been a conscious ordeal for almost any
other girl. But Patsy was oblivious of the comparisonoblivious of the
fact that she looked like a wood-thrush neighboring with a bird of
paradise. Her brown Norfolk suit was a shabby affairpositively
clamoring for a successor; the boyish brown beaverlacking feather or
flowerwas pulled down rakishly over her mass of brown curls, and the
vagabond gloves gave a consistent finish to the picture. And yet there
was that about Patsy which defied comparison even with Marjorie
Schuyler; moreovera thrush sings.
Now tell me, said Marjorie Schuyler, where have you been all
Patsy considered. WellI've been taking up hospital training.
Oh, how splendid! Are you going over with the new Red Cross
Patsy shook her head. You see, they only kept me until they had
demonstrated all they knew about lung disordersand fresh-air
treatment, and then they dismissed me. I'm fearsome they were after
finding out I hadn't the making of a nurse.
That's too bad! What are you going to do now?
An amused little smile twitched at the corners of Patsy's mouth; it
acted as if it wanted to run loose all over her face. Sure, I haven't
my mind madequite. And yourself?
OhI? Marjorie Schuyler leaned forward a trifle. Did you know I
Betrothed? Holy Saint Bridget bless ye! And the vagabond gloves
clasped the slender hands of the American prototype and gave them a
hard little squeeze. Who's himself?
It's Billy Burgeman, son of the Burgeman.
Old King Midas?
That's a new name for him.
It has fitted him years enough. Patsy's face sobered. Oh, why
does money always have to mate with money? Why couldn't you have
married a poor great mana poet, a painter, a thinker, a dreamersome
one who ought not to be bound down by his heels to the earth for
bread-gathering or shelter-building? You could have cut the thongs and
sent him soaringgiven the world another 'Prometheus Unbound.' As for
Billy Burgemanhe could have marriedme, and Patsy spread her hands
in mock petition.
Marjorie Schuyler laughed. You! That is too beautifully delicious!
Why, Patsy O'Connell, William Burgeman is the most conventional young
gentleman I have ever met in my life. You would shock him into a
semi-comatose condition in an afternoonand, pray, what would you do
Sure, I'd make a man of him, that's what. His father's son might
need it, I'm thinking.
Marjorie Schuyler's face became perfectly blank for a second, then
she leaned against the baronial arms on the back of her seat, tilted
her head, and mused aloud: I wonder just what Billy Burgeman does
lack? Sometimes I've wondered if it was not having a mother, or growing
up without brothers or sisters, or living all alone with his father in
that great, gloomy, walled-in, half-closed house. It is not a lack of
manhoodI'm sure of that; and it's not lack of caring, for he can care
a lot about some things. But what is it? I would give a great deal to
If the tales about old King Midas have a thruppence worth of truth
in them, it might be his father's meanness that's ailing him.
Marjorie Schuyler shook her head. No; Billy's almost a prodigal.
His father says he hasn't the slightest idea of the value of money;
it's just so much beans or shells or knives or trading pelf with him;
something to exchange for what he calls the real things of life. Why,
when he was a boyin fact, until he was almost grownhis father
couldn't trust Billy with a cent.
Who said thatBilly or the king?
His father, of course. That's why he has never taken Billy into
business with him. He is making Billy win his spurson his own merits;
and he's not going to let him into the firm until he's worth at least
five thousand a year to some other firm. Oh, Mr. Burgeman has excellent
ideas about bringing up a son! Billy ought to amount to a great deal.
Meaning money or character? inquired Patsy.
Marjorie Schuyler looked at her sharply. Are you laughing?
Faith, I'm closer to weeping; 'twould be a lonesome, hard rearing
that would come to a son of King Midas, I'm thinking. I'd far rather be
the son of his gooseherd, if I had the choosing.
She leaned forward impulsively and gathered up the hands of the girl
opposite in the warm, friendly compass of those vagabond gloves. Do ye
really love him, cailin a'sthore? And this time it was her look
that was sharp.
Why, of course I love him! What a foolish question! Why should I be
marrying him if I didn't love him? Why do you ask?
Becausethe son of King Midas with no mother, with no one at all
but the king, growing up all alone in a gloomy old castle, with no one
trusting him, would need a great deal of lovea great, great deal
That's all right, Ellen. I'll find her for myself. It was a man's
voice, pitched overhigh; it came from somewhere beyond and below the
inclosing curtains and cut off the last of Patsy's speech.
That's funny, said Marjorie Schuyler, rising. There's Billy now.
I'll bring him in and let you see for yourself that he's not at all an
object of sympathyor pity.
She disappeared into the library, leaving Patsy speculating
recklessly. They must have met just the other side of the closed
hangings, for to Patsy their voices sounded very near and close
Listen, Marjorie; if a girl loves a man she ought to be willing to
trust him over a dreadful bungle until he could straighten things out
and make good againthat's true, isn't it?
Billy Burgeman! What do you mean?
Just answer my question. If a girl loves a man she'll trust him,
I suppose so.
You know she would, dear. What would the man do if she didn't?
The voice sounded strained and unnatural in its intensity and
appeal. Patsy rose, troubled in mind, and tiptoed to the only other
door in the den.
'Tis a grand situation for a play, she remarked, dryly, but 'tis
a mortial poor one in real life, and I'm best out of it. She turned
the knob with eager fingers and pulled the door toward her. It opened
on a dumbwaiter shaft, empty and impressive. Patsy's expression would
have scored a hit in farce comedy. Unfortunately there was no audience
present to appreciate it here, and the prompter forgot to ring down the
curtain just then, so that Patsy stood helpless, forced to go on
hearing all that Marjorie and her leading man wished to improvise in
the way of lines.
... I told you, forged
Patsy was tempted to put her fingers in her ears to shut out the
sound of his voice and what he was saying, but she knew even then she
would go on hearing; his voice was too vibrant, too insistent, to be
... my father's name for ten thousand. I took the check to the bank
myself, and cashed it; father's vice-president.... Of course the
cashier knew me.... I tell you I can't explainnot now. I've got to
get away and stay away until I've squared the thing and paid father
Billy Burgeman, did you forge that check yourself?
What does that matterwhether I forged it or had it forged or saw
it forged? I tell you I cashed it, knowing it was forged. Don't you
Yes; but if you didn't forge it, you could easily prove it; people
wouldn't have to know the restthey are hushing up things of that kind
A silence dropped on the three like a choking, blinding fog. The two
outside the hangings must have been staring at each other, too
bewildered or shocked to speak. The one inside clutched her throat,
muttering, If my heart keeps up this thumping, faith, he'll think it's
the police and run.
At last the voice of the man came, hushed but strained almost to
breaking. To Patsy it sounded as if he were staking his very soul in
the words, uncertain of the balance. Marjorie, you don't understand! I
cashed that check becausebecause I want to take the responsibility of
it and whatever penalty comes along with it. I don't believe father
will ever tell. He's too proud; it would strike back at him too hard.
But you would have to know; he'd tell you; and I wanted to tell you
first myself. I want to go away knowing you believe and trust me, no
matter what father says about me, no matter what every one thinks about
me. I want to hear you say itthat you will be waitingjust like
thisfor me to come back to when I've squared it all off and can
explain.... Why, MarjorieMarjorie!
Patsy waited in an agony of dread, hope, prayerwaited for the
answer she, the girl he loved, would make. It came at last, slowly,
deliberately, as if spoken, impersonally, by the foreman of a jury:
I don't believe in you, Billy. I'm sorry, but I don't believe I
could ever trust you again. Your father has always said you couldn't
take care of money; this simply means you have got yourself into some
wretched hole, and forging your father's name was the only way out of
it. I suppose you think the circumstances, whatever they may be, have
warranted the act; but that act puts a stigma on your name which makes
it unfit for any woman to bear; and if you have any spark of manhood
left, you'll unwish the wishyou will unthink the thoughtthat I
would waitor even want youeverto come back.
A crya startled, frightened cryrang through the rooms. It did
not come from either Marjorie or her leading man. Patsy stood with a
vagabond glove pressed hard over her mouthquite unconscious that the
cry had escaped and that there was no longer need of muzzlingthen
plunged headlong through the hangings into the library. Marjorie
Schuyler was standing alone.
Where is heyour man?
He's goneand please don't call himthat!
Go after himhurrydon't let him go! Don't ye understand? He
mustn't go away with no one believing in him. Tell him it's a mistake;
tell him anythingonly go!
While Patsy's tongue burred out its Irish brogue she pushed at the
tall figure in front of herpushed with all her might. Are ye nailed
to the floor? What's happened to your feet? For Heaven's sake, lift
them and let them take ye after him. Don't ye hear? There's the front
door slamming behind him. He'll be gone past your calling in another
minute. Dear heart alive, ye can't be meaning to let him gothis way!
But Marjorie Schuyler stood immovable and deaf to her pleading.
Incredulity, bewilderment, pity, and despair swept over Patsy's face
like clouds scudding over the surface of a clear lake. Then scorn
settled in her eyes.
I'm sorry for ye, sorry for any woman that fails the man who loves
her. I don't know this son of old King Midas; I never saw him in my
life, and all I know about him is what ye told me this day and scraps
of what he had to say for himself; but I believe in him. I know he
never forged that checkor used the money for any mean use of his own.
I'd wager he's shielding some one, some one weaker than he, too afeared
to step up and say so. Why, I'd trust him across the world and back
again; and, holy Saint Patrick! I'm going after him to tell him so.
For the second time within a few seconds Marjorie Schuyler listened
and heard the front door slam; then the goddess came to life. She
walked slowly, regally, across the library and passed between the
hangings which curtained her den. Her eyes, probably by pure chance,
glanced over the shimmering contents of the waste-basket. A little cold
smile crept to the corners of her mouth, while her chin stiffened.
I think, Toto, she said, addressing the toy ruby spaniel, that it
will not be even a June wedding, and she laughed a crisp, dry little
III. PATSY PLAYS A PART
Patsy ran down the steps of the Schuyler house, jumping the last
four. As her feet struck the pavement she looked up and down the street
for what she sought. There it wasthe back of a fast-retreating man in
a Balmacaan coat of Scotch tweed and a round, plush hat, turning the
corner to Madison Avenue. Patsy groaned inwardly when she saw the
outlines of the figure; they were so conventional, so disappointing;
they lacked simplicity and directnesstwo salient life principles with
Pshaw! What's in a back? muttered Patsy. He may be a man, for all
his clothes; and she took to her heels after him.
As she reached the corner he jumped on a passing car going south.
Tracking for the railroad station, was her mental comment, and she
looked north for the next car following; there was none. As far as eye
could see there was an unbroken stretch of trackfate seemed strangely
averse to aiding and abetting her deed.
When in doubt, take a taxi, suggested Patsy's inner consciousness,
and she accepted the advice without argument.
She raced down two blocks and found one. Grand Centraland
drivelike the devil!
As the door clicked behind her her eye caught the jumping indicator,
and she smiled a grim smile. Faith, in two-shilling jumps like that
I'll be bankrupt afore I've my hand on the tails of that coat. And
with a tired little sigh she leaned back in the corner, closed her
eyes, and relaxed her grip on mind and will and body.
A series of jerks and a final stop shook her into a thinking, acting
consciousness again; she was out of the taxi in a twinklingwith the
man paid and her eyes on the back of a Balmacaan coat and plush hat
disappearing through a doorway. She could not follow it as fast as she
had reckoned. She balanced corners with a stout, indeterminate old
gentleman who blocked her way and insisted on wavering in her direction
each time she tried to dodge him. In her haste to make up for those
precious lost seconds she upset a pair of twins belonging to an already
overburdened mother. These she righted and went dashing on her way.
Groups waylaid her; people with time to kill sauntered in front of her;
wandering, indecisive people tried to stop her for information; and she
reached the gate just as it was closing. Through it she could seedown
a discouraging length of platforma Balmacaaned figure disappearing
into a car.
Too late, lady; train's leaving.
It was well for Patsy that she was ignorant of the law governing
closing gates and departing trains, for the foolish and the ignorant
can sometimes achieve the impossible. She confronted the guard with a
look of unconquerable determination. No, 'tisn't; the train guard is
still on the platform. You've got to let me through.
She emphasized the importance of it with two tight fists placed not
overgently in the center of the guard's rotundity, and accompanied by a
shove. In some miraculous fashion this accomplished it. The gate
clanged at Patsy's back instead of in her face, as she had expected. A
bell rang, a whistle tooted, and Patsy's feet clattered like mad down
A good-natured brakeman picked her up and lifted her to the rear
platform of the last car as it drew out. That saved the day for Patsy,
for her strength and breath had gone past summoning.
Thank you, she said, feebly, with a vagabond glove held out in
proffered fellowship. That's the kindest thing any one has done for me
since I came over.
Irishsame as yourself.
How did ye know?
Sure, who but an Irishman would have had his wits and his heart
working at the same time? And with a laugh Patsy left him and went
Her eye ran systematically down the rows of seats. Billy Burgeman
was not there. She passed through to the next car, and a second, and a
third. Still there was no back she could identify as belonging to the
man she was pursuing.
She was crossing a fourth platform when she ran into the conductor,
who barred her way. Smoking-car ahead, lady; this is the last of the
Patsy had it on the end of her tongue to say she preferred
smoking-cars, intending to duck simultaneously under the conductor's
arm and enter, willy-nilly. But the words rolled no farther than the
tongue's edge. She turned obediently back, re-entering the car and
taking the first seat by the door. For this her memory was responsible.
It had spun the day's events before her like a roulette wheel, stopping
precisely at the remark of Marjorie Schuyler's concerning William
Burgeman: He's the most conventional young gentleman I ever saw in my
life. Why, you would shock
A strange young woman doling out consolation to him in a smoking-car
would be anything but a dramatic success; Patsy felt this all too
keenly. He was decidedly not of her world or the men and women she
knew, who gave help when the need came regardless of time, place,
acquaintanceship, or sex.
Faith, he's the kind that will expect an introduction first, and a
month or two of tangoing, tea-drinking, and tennis-playing; after
which, if I ask his permission, he might consider it proper Patsy
groaned. Oh, I hate the man already!
Ticket? What for?
What for? Do you think this is a joy ride? The conductor radiated
Patsy crimsoned. I haven't mine. II was tomeet myauntwho
had the ticketandshe must have missed the train.
Where are you going?
IIWhy, I was tellingMy aunt had the tickets. How would I know
where I was going without the tickets?
The conductor snorted.
Patsy looked hard at him and knew the time had come for witsgood,
sharp O'Connell wits. She smiled coaxingly. It sounds so stupid, but,
you see, I haven't an idea where I am going. I was to meet my aunt and
go down with her to her summer place. II can't remember the name.
Her mouth drooped for the fraction of a second, then she brightened all
over. I know what I can dovery probably she missed the train because
she expects to be at the station to meet meI can look out each time
the train stops, and when I see her I can get off. That makes it all
right, doesn't it? And she smiled in open confidence as a sacrificial
maiden might have propitiated the dragon.
But it was not reciprocated. He eyed her scornfully. And who pays
for the ticket?
Oh! Patsy caught her breath; then she sent it bubbling forth in a
contagious laugh. I doof course. I'll take a ticket tojust name
over the stations, please?
The conductor growled them forth: Hampden, Forestview, Hainsville,
Dartmouth, Hudson, Arden, Brambleside, Mayberry, Greyfriars
What's that lastGreyfriars? I'll take a ticket to Greyfriars.
She said it after the same fashion she might have used in ordering a
mutton chop at a restaurant, and handed the conductor a bill.
When he had given her the change and passed on, still disgruntled,
Patsy allowed herself what she called a temporary attack of private
Idiot! she groaned in self-address. Ye are the biggest fool in
two continents; and the Lord knows what Dan would be thinking of ye if
he were topside o' green earth to hear. Whereupon she gripped one
vagabond glove with the otherin fellow misery; and for the second
time that afternoon her eyes closed with sheer exhaustion.
* * * * *
The train rumbled on. Each time it stopped Patsy watched the doorway
and the window beside her for sight of her quarry; each time it started
again she sighed inwardly with relief, glad of another furlough from a
mission which was fast growing appalling. She had long since ceased to
be interested in Billy Burgeman as an individual. He had shrunk into an
abstract sense of duty, and as such failed to appeal or convince. But
as her interest waned, her determination waxed; she would get him and
tell him what she had come for, if it took a year and a day and shocked
him into complete oblivion.
She was saying this to herself for the hundredth time, adding for
spiceand artistic finishAfter thatthe devil take him! when the
train pulled away from another station. She had already satisfied
herself that he was not among the leaving passengers. But suddenly
something familiar in a solitary figure standing at the far end of the
gravel embankment caught her eye; it was back toward her, and in the
quick passing and the gathering dusk she could make out dim outlines
only. But those outlines were unmistakable, unforgetable.
A million curses on the house of Burgeman! quoth Patsy. Well,
there's naught for it but to get off at the next station and go back.
The conductor watched her get off with a distinct feeling of relief.
He had very much feared she was not a responsible person and in no
mental position to be traveling alone. Her departure cleared him of all
uneasiness and obligation and he settled down to his business with an
unburdened mind. Not so Patsy. She blinked at the vanishing train and
then at her empty hands, with the nearest she had ever come in her life
to utter, abject despair. She had left her bag in the car!
When articulate thinking was possible she remarked, acridly, Ye
need a baby nurse to mind ye, Patricia O'Connell; and I'm not sure but
ye need a perambulator as well. She gave a tired little stretch to her
body and rubbed her eyes. I feel as if this was all a silly play and I
was cast for the part of an Irish simpleton; a low-comedy
burlesquethat ye'd swear never happened in real life outside of the
A headlight raced down the track toward her and the city, and she
gathered up what was left of her scattered wits. As the train slowed up
she stepped into the shadows, and her eye fell on the open baggage-car.
She smiled grimly. Faith! I have a notion I like brakemen and
baggagemen better than conductors.
And so it came to pass as the train started that the baggageman, who
happened to be standing in the doorway, was somewhat startled to see a
small figure come racing toward it out of the dusk and land sprawling
on the floor beside him.
A girl tramp! he ejaculated in amazement and disgust, and then, as
he helped her to her feet, Don't you know you're breaking the law?
She laughed. From the feelings, I thought it was something else.
She sobered and turned on him fiercely. I want ye to understand I've
paid my fare on the train out, which entitled me to one continuous
passagewith my trunk. Well, I'm returningas my trunk,
I'll take up no more room and I'll ask no more privileges.
That may sound sensible, but it's not law, and the man grinned
broadly. I'm sorry, miss, but off you go at the next station.
All right, agreed Patsy; only please don't argue. Sure, I'm sick
entirely of arguing.
She dropped down on a trunk and buried her face in her hands. The
baggageman watched her, hypnotized with curiosity and wonder. At the
next station he helped her to drop through the opening she had entered,
and called a shamefaced good-by after her in the dusk.
She hunted up the station-agent and received scanty encouragement:
Very likely he had seen such a man; there were many of that description
getting off every day. They generally went to the InnBrambleside Inn.
The season was just open and society people were beginning to come. No,
there was no conveyance. The Inn's 'buses did not meet any train after
the six-thirty from town, unless ordered especially by guests. Was she
Patsy was about to shake her head when a roadster swung around the
corner of the station and came to a dead stop in front of where she and
the station-master were standing.
The driver peered at her through his goggles in a questioning,
hesitating manner. Is thisare you Miss St. Regis? he finally asked.
Miriam St. Regis? Patsy intended it for a question, realizing even
as she spoke the absurdity of inquiring the name of an English actress
at such a place.
But the driver took it for a statement of identity. Yes, of course,
Miss Miriam St. Regis. Mr. Blake made a mistake and thought because
your box came from town you'd be coming that way. It wasn't until your
manager, Mr. Travis, telephoned half an hour ago that he realized you'd
be on that southbound train. Awfully sorry to have kept you waiting.
Step right in, please.
Whereupon the driver removed himself from the roadster, assisted her
to a seat, covered her with a rugfor early June evenings can be
rather sharpand the next moment Patsy found herself tearing down a
stretch of country road with the purr of a motor as music to her ears.
Sure, I don't know who wrote the play and starred me in it, she
mused, dreamily, but he certainly knows how to handle situations.
For the space of a few breaths she gave herself over completely to
the luxury of bodily comfort and mental inertia. It seemed as if she
would have been content to keep on whirling into an eternity of
darknesswith a destination so remote, and a mission so obscure, as
not to be of the slightest disturbance to her immediate consciousness.
All she asked of fate that moment was the blessedness of nothing; and
for answerher mind was jerked back ruthlessly to the curse of more
The lights of a large building in the distance reminded her there
was more work for her wits before her and no time to lose. I must
thinkthinkthink, and it grows harder every minute. If Miriam St.
Regis is coming here, it means, like as not, she's filling in between
seasons, entertaining. Well, until she comes, they're all hearty
welcome to the mistake they've made. And afterwardtroth! there'll be
a corner in her room for me the night, or Saint Michael's a sinner;
either way, 'tis all right.
The driver unbundled her and helped her out as courteously as he had
helped her in. He led the way across a broad veranda to the main
entrance, and there she fell behind him as he pushed open the great
Oh, that you, Masters? Did Miss St. Regis come?
Sure thing, sir; she's right here.
The next moment Patsy stood in a blaze of lights between a
personally conducting chauffeur and a pompous hotel manager, who looked
down upon her with distrustful scrutiny. She was wholly aware of every
inch of her appearancethe shabbiness of her brown Norfolk suit, the
rakishness of her boyish brown beaver hat, and the vagabond gloves. But
of what value is the precedent of having been found hanging on the
thorn of a Killarney rose-bush by the Physician to the King, of what
value is the knowledge of past kinship with a certain Dan O'Connell, if
one allows a little matter of clothes to spoil one's entrance and
murder one's lines?
The blood came flushing back into Patsy's cheeks, turning them the
color of thorn bloom, and her eyes deepened to the blue of Killarney,
sparkling as when the sun goes a-dancing. She smileda fresh, radiant,
witching smile upon that clay lump of commercialismuntil she saw his
appraisement of her treble its original figure.
Then she said, sweetly: I have had rather a hard time getting here,
Mr. Blake; making connections in your country is not always as simple
as one might expect. My room, please. And with an air of a grand
duchess Patsy O'Connell, late of the Irish National Players, Dublin,
and later of the women's free ward of the City Hospital, led the way
across one of the most brilliant summer hotel foyers in America.
As she entered the elevator a young man stepped outa young man
with a small, blond, persevering mustache, a rather thin, esthetic,
melancholy face, and a myopic squint. He wore a Balmacaan of Scotch
tweed and carried a round, plush hat.
Patsy turned to the bell-boy. Did that man arrive to-night?
Yes, miss; I took him up.
What is his namedo you know?
Can't say, miss. I'll find out, if you like.
There is no need. I rather think I know it myself. And under her
breath she ejaculated, Saint Peter deliver us!
IV. THE OCCUPANT OF A BALMACAAN COAT
Safe in her room, with the door closed and locked, Patsy stood
transfixed before a trunklikewise closed and locked.
Thank Heaven for many blessings! she said, fervently. Thank
Heaven Miriam St. Regis has worn wigs of every conceivable color and
style on the stage, so there is small chance of any one here knowing
the real color of her hair. Thank Heaven she's given to missing her
engagements and not wiring about it until the next day. Thank Heaven
I've played with her long enough to imitate her mannerisms, and know
her well enough to explain away the night, if the need ever comes.
Thank Heaven that George Travis is an old friend and can help out, if I
fail. Thank Heaven for all of these! But, holy Saint Patrick! how will
I ever be getting inside that box?
On the heels of her fervor came an inspiration. Off came her gloves
and hat, off came coat and skirt, blouse and shoes, and into the closet
they all went. For, whereas Patsy could carry off her shabbiness before
masculine eyes, she had neither the desire nor the fortitude to brave
the keener, more critical gaze of her own sex. It was always for the
women that Patsy dressed, and above all else did she stand in awe of
the opinion of the hotel chambermaid, going down in tottering
submission before it. Unlocking her door, she rang the bell; then crept
in between the covers of her bed, drawing them up about her.
The chambermaid came and Patsy ordered the housekeeper. The
housekeeper came and Patsy explained to her the loss of her bagthe
loss of the keys was only implied; it was a part of Patsy's creed of
life never to lie unless cornered. She further implied that she was
entertaining no worry, as a well-appointed hotel always carried a bunch
of skeleton trunk keys for the convenience of their guests.
Patsy's inspiration worked to perfection. In a few minutes the Inn
had proved itself a well-appointed hostelry, and the trunk stood open
before her. Alone again, she slipped out of bedto lock the door and
investigate. A wistaria lounging-robe was on in a twinkling, with
quilted slippers to match. Then Patsy's eager fingers drew forth a dark
emerald velvet, with bodice and panniers of gold lace, and she clasped
it ecstatically in her arms.
Miriam always had divine taste, but the faeries must have guided
her hand for the choosing of this. Sure, I'd be feeling like a king's
daughter if I wasn't so weak and heartsick. I feel more like a young
gosling that some one has coaxed out of its shell a day too soon. Is it
the effect of Billy Burgeman, I wonder, or the left-overs from the City
Hospital, or an overdose of foolishnessor hunger, just?
Miss St. Regis dined in her own room, and she dined like a king's
daughter, with an appetite whetted by weeks of convalescing, charity
fare. Even the possible appearance at any minute of her original self
offered no terrors for her in the presence of such a soul-satisfying,
* * * * *
At nine-thirty that evening, when the manager sent the hall-boy to
call her, she looked every inch the king's daughter she had dined. The
hall-boy, accustomed to creations, gave her a frank stare of
admiration, which Patsy noted out of the tail of her eye.
She was ravishing. The green and gold brought out the tawny red
glint of her hair, which was bound with two gold bands about the head,
ending in tiny emerald clasps over the barely discoverable tips of her
ears; little gold shoes twinkled in and out of the clinging green as
Faith! I feel like a whiff of Old Ireland herself, was Patsy
O'Connell's subconscious comment as Miss St. Regis crossed the stage;
and something of the feeling must have been wafted across the
footlights to the audience, for it drew in its breath with a little
gasp of genuine appreciation.
She heard it and was grateful for the few seconds it gave her to
look at the program the manager had handed her as she was entering. It
had never occurred to her that Miss St. Regis might arrange her program
beforehand, that the audience might be expecting something definite and
desired in the form of entertainment. It took all the control of a
well-ordered Irish head to keep her from bolting for the little stage
door after one glance at the paper. Her eye had caught the
impersonation of two American actresses she had never seen, the reading
of a Hawaiian love poem she had never heard of, and scenes from two
plays she had never read. It was all too deliciously, absurdly horrible
for words; and then Patsy O'Connell geared up her wits, as any true
kinswoman of Dan's should.
In a flash there came back to her what the company had done once
when they were playing one-night stands and the wrong scenery had come
for the play advertised. It was worth trying here.
Dear people, said Patsy O'Connell-St. Regis, smiling at the
audience as one friend to another, I have had so many requests from
among yousince I made out my programto give instead an evening of
old Irish tales, that I havecapitulated; you shall have your wish.
The almost unbelievable applause that greeted her tempted her to
further wickedness. Very few people seem ever to remember that I had
an Irish grandfather, Denis St. Regis, and that I like once in a while
to be getting back to the sod.
There was something so hypnotic in her intimacythis taking of
every one into her confidencethat one budding youth forgot himself
entirely and naïvely remarked, It's a long way to Tipperary.
That clinched her success. She might have chanted Old King Cole
and reaped a houseful of applause. As it was, she turned faery child
and led them all forth to the Land of Faerya world that neighbored so
close to the real with her that long ago she had acquired the habit of
carrying a good bit of it about with her wherever she went. It was
small wonder, therefore, that, at the end of the evening, when she
fixed upon a certain young man in the audiencea man with a
persevering mustache, an esthetic face, and a melancholy, myopic
squintand told the last tale to him direct, that he felt called upon
to go to her as she came down the steps into the ball-room and express
his abject, worshipful admiration.
That's all right, Patsy cut him short, butbutit would sound
so much nicer outside, somewhere in the moonlightaway from everybody.
Wouldn't it, now?
This sudden amending of matter-of-factness with arch coquetry would
have sounded highly amusing to ears less self-atuned than the erstwhile
wearer of the Balmacaan. But he heard in it only the flattering tribute
to a man chosen of men; and the hand that reached for Patsy's was
Oh, would you really? he asked, and he almost broke his melancholy
with a smile.
It must be my clothes, was her mental comment as he led her away;
they've gone to my own head; it's not altogether strange they've
touched his a bit. But for a man who's forged his father's name and
lost the girl he loved and then plunged into mortal despair, he's
convalescing terribly fast.
They had reached a quiet corner of the veranda. Patsy dropped into a
chair, while her companion leaned against a near-by railing and looked
down at her with something very like a soulful expression.
I might have known all along, Patsy was thinking, that a back
like that would have a front like this. Sure, ye couldn't get a real
man to dress in knee-length petticoats. And then, to settle all
doubts, she faced him with grim determination. I let you bring me here
because I had something to say to you. But first of all, did you come
down here to-night on that five-something train from New York?
The man nodded.
Did you get to the train by a Madison Avenue car, taken from the
corner of Seventy-seventh Street, maybe?
Why, how did you know? The melancholy was giving place to rather
How do I know! Patsy glared at him. I know because I've followed
you every inch of the wayfollowed you to tell you I believed in
youyouyou! and her voice broke with a groan.
Oh, I say, that was awfully good of you. This time the smile had
right of way, and such a flattered, self-conscious smile as it was!
You know everybody takes me rather as a joke.
Joke! Patsy's eyes blazed. Well, you're the most serious,
impossible joke I ever met this side of London. Why, a person would
have to dynamite his sense of humor to appreciate you.
I don't think I understand. He felt about in his waistcoat pocket
and drew forth a monocle, which he adjusted carefully. Would you mind
saying that again?
Patsy's hands dropped helplessly to her lap. I couldn'tonly,
after a woman has trailed a man she doesn't know across a country she
doesn't know to a place she doesn't knowand without a wardrobe trunk,
a letter of credit, or a maid, just to tell him she believes in him, he
becomes the most tragically serious thing that ever happened to her in
all her life.
Oh, I say, I always thought they were pretty good; but I never
thought any one would appreciate my poetry like that.
Poetry! Do youdo that, too?
That's all I do. I am devoting my life to it; that's why my family
take me a littleflippantly.
A faint streak of hope shot through Patsy's mind. Would you mind
telling me your name?
Why, I thought you knew. I thought you said that was why you wanted
totoHang it all! my name's Peterson-JonesWilfred Peterson-Jones.
Patsy was on her feet, clasping her hands in a shameless burst of
emotion while she dropped into her own tongue. Oh, that's a beautiful
namea grand name! Don't ye ever be changing it! And don't ye ever
give up writing poetry; it's a beautiful pastime for any man by that
name. But whatwhat, in the name of Saint Columkill, ever happened to
Billy Burgeman? Why, he came down on the train with me and went
back to Arden.
Patsy threw back her head and laughedlaughed until she almost
feared she could not stop laughing. And then she suddenly became
conscious of the pompous manager standing beside her, a yellow sheet of
paper in his hand.
Will you kindly explain what this means? and he slapped the paper
I'll try to, said Patsy; but will you tell me just one thing
first? How far is it to Arden?
Arden? It's seven miles to Arden. But what's that got to do with
this? This is a wire from Miss St. Regis, saying she is ill and will be
unable to fill her engagement here to-night! Now, who are you?
I? Why, I'm her understudy, of courseandI'mso happy
Whereupon Patricia O'Connell, late of the Irish National Players and
later of the women's free ward of the City Hospital, crumpled up on the
veranda floor in a dead faint.
V. A TINKER POINTS THE ROAD
The Brambleside Inn lost one of its guests at an inconceivably early
hour the morning after Patsy O'Connell unexpectedly filled Miss St.
Regis's engagement there. The guest departed by way of the second-floor
piazza and a fire-escape, and not even the night watchman saw her go.
But it was not until she had put a mile or more of open country between
herself and the Inn that Patsy indulged in the freedom of a long
After this I'll keep away from inns and such like; 'tis too
wit-racking to make it anyways comfortable. I feel now as if I'd been
caught lifting the crown jewels, instead of giving a hundred-guinea
performance for the price of a night's bed and board and coming away as
poor as a tinker's ass.
A smile caught at the corners of her moutha twitching, memory
smile. She was thinking of the note she had left folded in with the
green-and-gold gown in Miriam St. Regis's trunk. In it she had stated
her payment of one Irish grandfather by the name of Denisin return
for the loan of the dressand had hoped that Miriam would find him
handy on future public occasions. Patsy could not forbear chuckling
outrightthe picture of anything so unmitigatedly British as Miriam
St. Regis with an Irish ancestor trailing after her for the rest of her
career was too entrancing.
An early morning wind was blowing fresh from the clover-fields,
rose-gardens, and new-leafed black birch and sassafras. Such a
well-kept, clean world of open country it looked to Patsy as her eye
followed the road before her, on to the greening meadows and wooded
slopes, that her heart joined the chorus of song-sparrow and
meadow-lark, who sang from the sheer gladness of being a live part of
She sighed, not knowing it. Faith! I'm wishing 'twas more nor seven
miles to Arden. I'd like to be following the road for days and days,
and keeping the length of it between Billy Burgeman and myself.
Starting before the country was astir, she had met no one of whom
she could inquire the way. A less adventuresome soul than Patsy might
have sat herself down and waited for direction; but that would have
meant wasting minutesprecious minutes before the dawn should break
and she should be no longer sole possessor of the road and the world
that bounded it. So Patsy chose the way for herselfcontent that it
would lead her to her destination in the end. The joy of true
vagabondage was rampant within her: there was the road, urging her like
an impatient comrade to be gone; there was her errand of good-will
giving purpose to her journey; and the facts that she was homeless,
penniless, breakfastless, a stranger in a strange country, mattered not
a whit. So thoroughly had she always believed in good fortune that
somehow she always managed to find it; and out of this she had evolved
her philosophy of life.
Ye see, 'tis this way, she would say; the world is much like a
great catwith claws to hide or use, as the notion takes it. If ye
kick and slap at it, 'twill hump its back and scratch at yesure as
fate; but if ye are wise and a bit patient ye can have it coaxed and
smoothed down till it's purring to make room for ye at any hearthside.
And there's another thing it's well to rememberthat folks are folks
the world over, whether they are wearing your dress and speaking your
tongue or another's.
And as Patsy was blessed in the matter of philosophyso was she
blessed in the matter of possessions. She did not have to own things to
There was no doubt but that Patsy had a larger share of the world
than many who could reckon their estates in acreage or who owned so
many miles of fenced-off property. She held a mortgage on every inch of
free roadway, rugged hilltop, or virgin forest her feet crossed. She
claimed squatters' rights on every bit of shaded pasture, or sunlit
glade, or singing brook her heart rejoiced in. In other words,
everything outside of walls and fences belonged to her by virtue of her
vagabondage; and she had often found herself pitying the narrow folk
who possessed only what their deeds or titles allotted to them.
And yet never in Patsy's life had she felt quite so sure about it as
she did this morning, probably because she had never before set forth
on a self-appointed adventure so heedless of means and consequences.
Sure, there are enough wise people in the world, she mused as she
tramped along; it needs a few foolish ones to keep things happening.
And could a foolish adventuring body be bound for a better place than
She rounded a bend in the road and came upon a stretch of old stump
fencing. From one of the stumps appeared to be hanging a grotesque
figure of some remarkable cut; it looked both ancient and romantic,
sharply silhouetted against the iridescence of the dawn.
Patsy eyed it curiously. It comes natural for me to be partial to
anything hanging to a thorn, or a stump; butbarring thatit still
As she came abreast it she saw it was not hanging, however. It was
perched on a lower prong of a root and it was a man, clothed in the
most absolute garment of rags Patsy had ever seen off the legitimate
From an artistic standpoint they are perfect, was Patsy's mental
tribute. Wouldn't Willie Fay give his Sunday dinner if he could gather
him in as he is, justto play the tinker! Faith! those rags are so
real I wager he keeps them together only by the grace of God.
As she stopped in front of the figure he turned his head slowly and
gazed at her with an expression as far away and bewildered as a lost
In the half-light of the coming day he looked supernaturala
strange spirit from under the earth or above the earth, but not of the
earth. This was borne in upon Patsy's consciousness, and it set her
Celtic blood tingling and her eyes a-sparkling.
He looks as half-witted as those back in the Old Country who have
the second sight and see the faeries. Aye, and he's as young and
handsome as a king's son. Poor lad! And then she called aloud, 'Tis a
brave day, this.
Hmm! was the response, rendered impartially.
Patsy's alert eyes spied a nondescript kit flung down in the grass
at the man's feet and they set a-dancing. Then ye are a
Hmm! was again the answer. It conveyed an impression of hesitant
doubt, as if the speaker would have avoided, if he could, the
responsibility of being anything at all, even a tinker.
That's grand, encouraged Patsy. I like tinkers, and, what's more,
I'm a bit of a vagabond myself. I'll grant ye that of late years the
tinkers are treated none too hearty about Ireland; but there was a
time Patsy's mind trailed off into the far past, into a maze of
legend and folk-tale wherein tinkers were figures of romance and
mystery. It was good luck then to fall in with such company; and Patsy,
being more a product of past romance than present civilization, was
pleased to read into this meeting the promise of a fair road and
success to her quest.
Moreover, there was another appealthe apparent helpless
bewilderment of the man himself and his unreality. He was certainly not
in possession of all his senses, from whatever world he might have
dropped; and helplessness in man or beast was a blood bond with Patsy,
making instant claim on her own abundant sympathies and wits.
She held the tinker with a smile of open comradeship while her voice
took on an alluring hint of suggestion. Ye can't be thinking of
hanging onto that stump all daynow what road might ye be takingthe
one to Arden?
For some minutes the tinker considered her and her question with an
exaggerated gravity; then he nodded his head in a final agreement.
Grand! I'm bound that way myself; maybe ye know Arden?
And how far might it be?
Patsy wrinkled her forehead. That's strange; 'twas seven miles last
night, and I've tramped half the distance already, I'm thinking. Never
mind! What's behind won't trouble me, and the rest of the way will soon
pass in good company. Come on, and she beckoned her head in
Once again he considered her slowly. Then, as if satisfied, he swung
himself down from his perch on the stump fence, gathered up his kit,
and in another minute had fallen into step with her; and the two were
contentedly tramping along the road.
The man who's writing this play, mused Patsy, is trying to match
wits with Willie Shakespeare. If any one finds him out they'll have him
up for plagiarizing.
She chuckled aloud, which caused the tinker to cast an uneasy glance
in her direction.
Poor lad! The half-wits are always suspicious of others' wits. He
thinks I'm fey. And then aloud: Maybe ye are not knowing it, but
anything at all is likely to happen to ye to-dayon the road to Arden.
According to Willie Shakespearewhom ye are not likely to be
acquainted withit's a place where philosophers and banished dukes and
peasants and love-sick youths and lions and serpents all live happily
together under the 'Greenwood Tree.' Now, I'm the banished duke's own
daughteronly no one knows it; and yesure, ye can take your choice
between playing the younger brotheror the fool.
The fool, said the tinker, solemnly; and then of a sudden he threw
back his head and laughed.
Patsy stopped still on the road and considered him narrowly.
Couldn't ye laugh again? she suggested when the laugh was ended. It
improves ye wonderfully. An afterthought flashed in her mind. After
all's said and done, the fool is the best part in the whole play.
After this they tramped along in silence. The tinker kept a little
in advance, his head erect, his hands swinging loosely at his sides,
his eyes on nothing at all. He seemed oblivious of what lay back of him
or before himand only half conscious of the companion at his side.
But Patsy's fancy was busy with a hundred things, while her eyes went
afield for every scrap of prettiness the country held. There were
meadows of brilliant daisies, broken by clumps of silver poplars, white
birches, and a solitary sentinel pine; and there was the roadside
tangle with its constant surprises of meadowsweet and columbine, white
violetsin the swampy placesand once in a while an early wild rose.
In Ireland, she mused, the gorse would be out, fringing the
pastures, and on the roadside would be heartsease and faery thimbles,
and perhaps a few late primroses; and the meadow would be green with
corn. A faint wisp of a sigh escaped her at the thought, and the
tinker looked across at her questioningly. Sure, it's my heart
hungering a bit for the bogland and a whiff of the turf smoke. This
exile idea is a grand one for a play, but it gets lonesome at times in
real life. Maybe ye are Irish yourself?
It was Patsy's turn to glance across at the tinker, but all she saw
was the far-away, wondering look that she had seen first in his face.
Poor lad! Like as not he finds it hard remembering where he's from;
they all do. I'll not pester him again.
He looked up and caught her eyes upon him and smiled foolishly.
Patsy smiled back. Do ye know, lad, I've not had a morsel of
breakfast this day. Have ye any money with ye, by chance?
The tinker stopped, put down his kit, and hunted about in his rags
where the pocket places might be; but all he drew forth were his two
empty hands. He looked down the stretch of road they had come with an
odd twist to his mouth, then he burst forth into another laugh.
Have ye been playing the pigeon, and some one plucked ye? she
asked, and went on without waiting for his answer. Never mind! We'll
sharpen up our wits afresh and earn a breakfast. Are ye handy at
You bet I am! said the tinker. It was the longest speech he had
* * * * *
At the next farm Patsy turned in, with a warning to the tinker to do
as he was told and to hold his tongue. It was a thoroughly
well-kept-looking farm, and she picked out what she decided must be the
side door, and knocked. A kindly-faced, middle-aged woman opened it,
and Patsy smiled with the good promise of her looks.
We are twodown on our luck, and strangers hereabouts. Have ye got
any tinkering jobs for my man there? He's a bit odd and says little;
but he can solder a broken pot or mend a machine with the best. And
we'll take out our pay in a good, hearty meal.
There be a pile of dishes in the pantry I've put by till we was
goin' to townhandles off and holes in the bottom. He can mend them
out on the stoop, if he likes. I've got to help with berry-pickin';
we're short-handed this season.
Are ye, just? Then I'm thinking I'll come in handy. Patsy smiled
her smile of winning comradeship as she stooped and picked up a tray of
empty berry-boxes that stood by the door; while the woman's smile
deepened with honest appreciation.
My! but you are willing folks; they're sometimes scarce 'round
Faith, we're hungry folksso ye best set us quickly to work.
They left the tinker on the stoop, surrounded by a heterogeneous
collection of household goods. Patsy cast an anxious backward glance at
him, but saw that he was rolling up the rags that served for sleeves,
thereby baring a pair of brawny, capable-looking arms, while he spread
his tools before him after the manner of a man who knows his business.
Fine! commented Patsy, with an inner satisfaction. He may be
foolish, but I bet he can tinker.
They picked berries for an hour or more, and then Patsy turned too
and helped the woman get dinner. They bustled about in silence to the
accompanying pounding and scraping of the tinker, who worked
unceasingly. When they sat down to dinner at last there was a
tablefulthe woman and her husband, Patsy, the tinker, and the
hands, and before them was spread the very best the farm could give.
It was as if the woman wished to pay their free-will gift of service
with her unstinted bounty.
We always ask a blessin', said the farmer, simply, folding his
hands on the table, about to begin. Then he looked at Patsy, and, with
that natural courtesy that is common to the true man of the soil, he
added, We'd be pleased if you'd ask it.
Patsy bowed her head. A little whimsical smile crept to her lips,
but her voice rang deep with feeling: For food and fellowship, good
Lord, we thank Thee. Amen! And she added under her breath, And take a
good grip of the Rich Man's son till we get him.
* * * * *
The late afternoon found them back on the road once more. They
parted from the farmer and his wife as friend parts with friend. The
woman slipped a bundle of foodbread, cheese, and meat left from the
dinner, with a box of berriesinto Patsy's hand, while the man gave
the tinker a half-dollar and wished him luck.
Patsy thanked them for both; but it was not until they were well out
of earshot that she spoke to the tinker: They are good folk, but
they'd never understand in a thousand years how we came to be traveling
along together. What folks don't know can't hurt them, and 'tis often
easier holding your tongue than trying to explain what will never get
through another's brain. Now put that lunch into your kit; it may come
in handywho knows? And God's blessing on all kind hearts!
Whereupon the tinker nodded solemnly.
They had tramped for a mile or more when they came to a cross-roads
marked by a little white church. From the moment they sighted it
Patsy's feet began to lag; and by the time they reached the crossing of
the ways she had stopped altogether and was gazing up at the little
gold cross with an odd expression of whimsical earnestness.
Do ye know, she said, slowly, clasping the hands long shorn of the
vagabond glovesdo ye know I've told so many lies these last two days
I think I'll bide yonder for a bit, and see can Saint Anthony lift the
sins from me. 'Twould make the rest o' the road less burdensomedon't
The tinker looked uncomfortably confused, as though this sudden
question of ethics or religion was too much for his scattered wits. He
dug the toe of his boot in the gravel of the church path and removed
his cap to aid the labor of his thinking. Maybe he agreed at last.
An' will I be waitin' for youor keepin' on?
Ye'll wait, of course, commanded Patsy.
She had barely disappeared through the little white door, and the
tinker thrown himself down with his back to the sign-post which marked
the roads, when a sorrel mare and a runabout came racing down the road
over which they had just come. There were two men in the runabout, both
of them tense and alert, their heads craned far in advance of the rest
of them, their eyes scanning the diverging roads.
I cal'ate she's gone that way. The driver swung the whip,
indicating the road that ran south.
WallI cal'ate so, too, agreed the other. But then againshe
They reined in and discovered the tinker. Some one passed this way
sence you been settin' there? they inquired almost in unison.
I don't knowthe tinker's fingers passed hurriedly across his
eyes and forehead, by way of seeking misplaced witssome one might be
almost any one, he smiled, cheerfully.
Look here, young feller, if you're tryin' to be smart the driver
began, angrily; but his companion silenced him with a nudge and a
finger tapped significantly on the crown of his hat. He moderated his
We're after a girl in a brown suit and hatundersized girl. She
was asking the way to Arden. Seen any one of that description?
What do you want with her?
Never mind, growled the first man.
But the second volunteered meager information, She's a suspect.
Stayed last night in the Inn and this morning a couple of thousand
dollars' worth of diamonds is missin'; that's what we want her for.
The tinker brightened perceptibly. Guess she went by in a wagon
half an hour agothat way. I think I saw her, and as the men turned
southward down the road marked Arden he called after them, Better
hurry, if you want to catch her; the wagon was going at a right smart
He waited for their backs to be turned and for the crack of the whip
that lifted the heels of the sorrel above the dashboard before she
plunged, then, with amazing speed, of mind as well as of body, he
wrenched every sign from the post and pitched them out of sight behind
a neighboring stone wall.
The dust from departing wheels still filled the air when Patsy
stepped out of the cross-roads church, peacefully radiant, and found
the tinker sitting quietly with his back against the post.
So ye are still here. I thought ye might have grown tired of my
company, after all, and gone on. Patsy laughed happily. Now do ye
know which road goes to Arden?
Sure, and the tinker joined in her laugh, while he pointed to the
straight road ahead, the road that ran west, at right angles to the one
the runabout had taken.
Come on, then, said Patsy; we ought to be there by sundown. She
stopped and looked him over for the space of a second. Ye are
improving wonderfully. Mind! ye mustn't be getting too keen-witted or
we'll have to be parting company.
That's the why! And with this satisfactory explanation she led the
way down the road the tinker had pointed.
VI. AT DAY'S END
Their road went the way of the setting sun, and Patsy and the tinker
traveled it leisurelyafter the fashion of those born to the road, who
find their joy in the wandering, not in the making of a distance or the
reaching of a destination. Since they had left the cross-roads church
behind Patsy had marked the tinker casting furtive glances along the
way they had come; and each time she marked, as well, the flash of a
smile that lightened his face for an instant when he saw that the road
still remained empty of aught but themselves.
It's odd, she mused; he hasn't the look of a knave who might fear
a trailing of constables at his heels; and yetand yet his wits have
him pestered about something that lies back of him.
Once it was otherwise. There was a rising of dust showing on one of
the hills they had climbed a good half-hour before. When the tinker saw
it he reached of a sudden for Patsy's hand while he pointed excitedly
beyond pasture bars ahead to a brownish field that lay some distance
from the road.
See, lass, that's sorrel. If you'll break the road along with me
I'll show you where wild strawberries grow, lots of 'em!
Her answer was to take the pasture bars at a run as easily as any
country-bred urchin. The tinker swung himself after her, an odd wisp of
a smile twisting the corners of his mouth, just such a smile as the
fool might wear on the road to Arden. The two raced for the
sorrel-topsthe tinker winning.
When Patsy caught up he was on his knees, his head bare, his eyes
sparkling riotously, running his fingers exultantly through the green
leaves that carpeted the ground. See, he chuckled, the tinker knows
somethin' more 'n solder and pots.
Patsy's eyes danced. There they weremillions of the tiny red
berries, as thick and luscious as if they had been planted in Elysian
fields for Arcadian folk to gather. The wee, bonnie things! she
laughed. Now, how were ye afther knowing they were here?
The tinker cocked his head wisely. I know more 'n that; I know
where to find yellow lady's-slippers 'n' the yewberries 'n'
She looked at him joyfully; he was turning out more and more to her
liking. Could ye be showing them to me, lad? she asked.
The tinker eyed her bashfully. Would youcare, then?
Sure, and I would; and with that she was flat on the ground beside
him, her fingers flying in search of strawberries.
So close they lay to the earth, so hidden by the waving sorrel and
neighboring timothy, that had a whole county full of constables been
abroad they could have passed within earshot and never seen them there.
With silence between them they ate until their lips were red and the
cloud of dust on the hill back of them had whirled past, attendant on a
sorrel mare and runabout. They ate until the road was quite empty once
more; and then the tinker pulled Patsy to her feet by way of reminding
her that Arden still lay beyond them.
Do ye know, said Patsy, after another silence and they were once
more afoot, I'm a bit doubtful if the banished duke's daughter ever
tasted anything half as sweet as those berries on her road to Arden;
or, for that matter, if she found her fool half as wise. I'm mortial
glad ye didn't fall off that stump this morning afore I came by to
fetch ye off.
The tinker doffed his battered cap unexpectedly and swept her an
Holy Saint Christopher! ejaculated Patsy. Ye'll be telling me ye
know Willie Shakespeare next.
But the tinker answered with a blank stare, while the far-away,
bewildered look of fear came back to his eyes. Who's he? Does he live
'round here? he asked, dully.
Patsy wrinkled a perplexed forehead. Lad, lad, ye have me bursting
with wonderment! Ye are a rare combination, even for an Irish tinker;
but if ye are a fair sample of what they are over here, sure the States
have the Old Country beaten entirely.
And the tinker laughed as he had laughed once before that daythe
free, untrammeled laugh of youth, while he saucily mimicked her Irish
brogue. Sure, 'tis the road to Arden, ye were sayin', and anythin' at
all can happen on the way.
The girl laughed with him. And ye'll be telling me next that this
is three hundred years ago, and romance and Willie Shakespeare are
still alive. Her mind went racing back to the once-upon-a-time days,
the days when chivalry walked abroadbefore it took up its permanent
residence between the covers of story-bookswhen poets and saints,
kings' sons andtinkers journeyed afar to prove their manhood in deeds
instead of inheritances; when it was no shame to live by one's wits or
ask hospitality at any strange door. Ahthose were the days! And
yetand yetcould not those days be given back to the world again?
And would not the world be made a merrier, sweeter place because of
them? If Patsy could have had her way she would have gone forth at the
ring of each new day like the angel in the folk tale, and with her
shears cut the nets that bound humanity down to petty differences in
creed or birth or tongue.
Faith, it makes one sick, she thought. We tell our children the
tales of the Red Branch Knightsof King Arthur and the Knights of the
Grailand rejoice afresh over the beauty and wonder of them; we stand
by the hour worshiping at the pictures of the saintssimple men and
women who just went about doing kindness; and we read the Holy
Bookthe tales of Christ with his fishermen, wandering about, looking
for some good deed to do, some helpfulness to give, some word of good
cheer to speak; and we pray, 'Father, make us goodeven as Thou wert.'
And what does it all mean? We hurry through the streets afeared to stop
on the corner and succor a stranger, or ashamed to speak a friendly
word to a troubled soul in a tram-car; and we go home at night and lock
our doors so that the beggar who asked for a bit of bread at noon can't
come round after dark and steal the silver. Patsy sighed
regretfullyif only this were olden times she would not be dreading to
find Arden now and the man she was seeking there.
The tinker caught the sigh and looked over at her with a puzzled
frown. Tired? he asked, laconically.
Aye, a bit heart-tired, she agreed, and I'm wishing Arden was
still a good seven miles away.
Whereupon the tinker turned his head and grinned sheepishly toward
* * * * *
The far-away hills had gathered in the last of the sun unto
themselves when the two turned down the main street of a village. It
was unquestionably a self-respecting village. The well-tarred
sidewalks, the freshly painted meeting-house neighboring the
engine-house No. 1, the homes with their well-mowed lawns in front
and the tidily kept yards behindall spoke of a decency and lawfulness
that might easily have set the hearts of the most righteous of
Patsy looked it carefully over. Sure, Arden's no name for it at
all. They'd better have called it Gospel Centeror New Canaan. 'Twould
be a grand place, though, to shut in all the Wilfred Peterson-Joneses,
to keep them off the county's nervesand the rich men's sons, to keep
them off the public sympathy. But 'tis no place for us, lad.
The tinker shifted his kit from one shoulder to the other and held
Their entrance was what Patsy might have termed fit. The dogs of
the village were on hand; that self-appointed escort of all doubtful
characters barked them down the street with a lusty chorus of growls
and snarls and sharp, staccato yaps. There were the children, too, of
course; the older ones followed hot-foot after the dogs; the smaller
ones came, a stumbling vanguard, sucking speculative thumbs or
forefingers, as the choice might be. The hurly-burly brought the
grown-ups to windows and doors.
'Hark! hark! the dogs do bark, the beggars are coming to town,'
quoted Patsy, with a grim little smile, and glanced across at the
tinker. He was blushing fiercely. Never mind, lad. 'Tis better being
barked into a town than bitten out of it.
For answer the tinker stopped and folded his arms sullenly. I'm not
such a fool I can't feel somethin'. Don't you reckon I know the shame
it is to be keepin' a decent woman company with these ragsand no
If I've not misplaced my memory, 'twas myself that chose the
company, and 'twas largely on account of those very things, I'm
thinking. Do ye guess for a minute that if ye had been a rich man's son
in grand clothesand manners to matchI'd ever have tramped a
millimeter with ye? She smiled coaxingly. Faith! there's naught the
matter with those rags; a king's son might be proud o' them. As for
foolishness, I've known worse faults in a man.
The tinker winced imperceptibly, and all unconsciously Patsy went
on: 'Tis the heart of a man that measures him, after all, and not the
wits that crowd his brain or the gold that lines his pockets. Oh, what
do the folks who sit snug by their warm hearthsides, knitting their
lives into comfortables to wrap around their real feelings and human
impulses, ever know about their neighbors who come in to drink tea with
them? And what do the neighbors in turn know about them? If I had my
way, I'd tumble the whole sit-by-the-fire-and-gossip world out of doors
and set them tramping the road to somewhere; 'tis the surest way of
getting them acquainted with themselves and the neighbors. For that
matter, all of us need itjust once in so often. And soto the road,
say I, with a fair greeting to all alike, be they king's son or beggar,
for the road may prove the one's the other afore the journey's done.
Amen! said the tinker, devoutly, and Patsy laughed.
They had stopped in the middle of the street, midway between the
church and the engine-house, Patsy so absorbed in her theories, the
tinker so absorbed in Patsy, that neither was aware of the changed
disposition of their circling escort until a cold, inquisitive nose and
a warm, friendly tongue brought them to themselves. Greetings were
returned in kind; heads were patted, backs stroked, ears
scratchedonly the children stood aloof and unconvinced. That is ever
the way of it; it is the dogs who can better tell glorious vagabondage
from inglorious rascality.
Sure, ye can't fool dogs; I'd be taking the word of a dog before a
man's anywhere when it comes to judging human beings. Patsy looked
over her shoulder at the children. Ye have the creatures won over
entirely; 'tis myself might try what I could do with the wee ones. If
we had the dogs and the childther to say a good word for usfaith! the
grown-ups might forget how terribly respectable they were and make us
welcome for one night. A sudden thought caught her memory. I was
almost forgetting why I had come. Hunt up a shop for me, lad, will ye?
There must be one down the street a bit; and if ye'll loan me some of
that half-crown the good man paid for your tinkering, I'd like to be
having a New York Newsif they have onealong with the fixings for a
letter I have to be writing. While ye are gone I'll bewitch the
And she did.
When the tinker returned she was sitting on the church steps, the
children huddled so close about her that she was barely distinguishable
in the encircling mass of shingled heads, bobby curls, pigtails and
hair-ribbons. Deaf little ears were being turned to parental calls for
suppera state of affairs unprecedented and unbelievable; while Patsy
was bringing to an end the tale of Jack, the Irish hero of a thousand
and one adventures.
And he married the king's daughterand they lived happier than ye
can tell meand twice as happy as I can tell yein a castle that had
a window for every day in the year.
That would make a fine endin' for any lad's story, said the
tinker, soberly. 'A window for every day in the year' would mean a
whole lot of cheerfulness and sunshine, wouldn't it?
Patsy nodded. But don't those who take to the road fetch that
castle along with them? Sure, there it isand her hand swept toward
the skyline an encompassing circle about themwith the sun flooding
it from dawn to day's end. She turned to the eager faces about her,
waiting for more. Are ye still there? Faith! what have I been hearing
this half-hour but hungry childther being called for tea. 'Twas
'Joseph' from the house across the way, and 'Rebecca' from off yonder,
and 'Susie May' from somewhere else. Away with yez all to your
mothers! And Patsy scattered them as if they had been a flock of young
sheep, scampering helter-skelter in all directions.
But one there was who lagged behind, a little boy with an old, old
face, who watched the others go and then crept closer, held by the
spell of the tale. He pulled at Patsy's sleeve to gain attention.
I'mI'm Joseph. Was it truemost of it?
She nodded a reply as solemn as his question, Aye, as true as youth
and the world itself.
And would it come true for another boyany boywho went
a-tramping off like that? Would he findwhatever he was wishin' for?
And even as he spoke his eyes left hers and went searching for the
far-away hillsand what might lie beyond.
Come here, little lad. Patsy drew him to her and put two steadying
hands on his shoulders. She knew that he, too, had heard the call of
the road and the longing to be goneto be one with it, journeying to
meet the mysterious unknownwas upon him. Hearken to me: 'Tis only
safe for a little lad to be going when he has three things to fetch
with himthe wish to find something worth the bringing home, the
knowledge of what makes good company along the way, and trust in
himself. When ye are sure of these, go; but ye'll no longer be a little
lad, I'm thinking. And remember first to get the mother's blessing and
'God-speed,' same as Jack; a lad's journey ends nowhere that begins
He went without a word, but content; and his eyes brimmed with
Patsy watched him tenderly. Who knowshe may find greatness on his
road. Who knows?
The tinker dropped the bundle he had brought back from the store
into her lap, but she scarcely heeded him. Her eyes were looking out
into the gathering dusk while her voice sank almost to a whisper.
Ochone! but I've always envied that piper fellow from
Hamelin town. Think of being able to gather up all the childther
hereabouts, eager, hungry-hearted childther with mothers too busy or
deaf to heed them, and leading them away to find their fortunes!
Wouldn't that be wonderful, just?
What kind of fortunes? asked the tinker.
What but the best kind! Patsy thought for a moment, and smiled
whimsically while her eyes grew strangely starry in that early
twilight. Wouldn't I like to be choosing those fortunes, and wouldn't
they be an odd lot, entirely! There'd be singing hearts that had
learned to sing above trouble; there'd be true fellowshipthe kind
that finds brotherhood in beggars as well asas prime ministers;
there'd be peace of soulnot the kind that naps by the fire, content
that the wind doesn't be blowing down his chimney, but the kind that
fights above fighting and keeps neighbor from harrying neighbor. Troth,
the world is in mortial need of fortunes like the last.
And wouldn't you be choosin' gold for a fortune? asked the tinker.
Patsy shook her head vehemently.
That's the why! Suddenly Patsy clenched her hands and shook two
menacing fists against the gathering dark. I hate gold, along with the
meanness and the lying and the thieving and the false judgment it
brings into the world.
But the world can't get along without it, reminded the tinker,
Aye, but it can. It can get along without the hoarded gold, the
inherited gold, the cheating, bribing, starving goldthat's the kind I
mean, the kind that gets into a man's heart and veins until his fingers
itch to gild everything he touches, like the rich man in the city
What rich man? I thought theI thought the city was full o' rich
Maybe; but there's just one I'm thinking of now; and God pity
himand his son.
The tinker eyed her stupidly. How d'you know he has a son?
Patsy laughed. I guessedmaybe. Then she looked down in her lap.
And here's the newswith no light left to read it by; and I'm as
hungry as an alley catand as tired as two. Ye'd never dream, to hear
me talking, that I'd never had much more than a crooked sixpence to my
name since I was born; and here I am, with that gone and not a slither
to buy me bed or board for the night.
The tinker looked down at her with an altogether strange expression,
very different from anything Patsy had seen on his face all day. Had
she chanced to catch it before it flickered out, it might have puzzled
even her O'Connell wits to fathom the meaning of it. For it was as if
the two had unexpectedly changed places, and the tender pity and
protectiveness that had belonged to her had suddenly become his.
Never mind, lass; there's board in the kit for to-nightwhat the
farm wife put up; and there's this left, and I'llI'll He did not
finish; instead he dropped a few coins in her hand, the change from the
half-dollar. Then he set about sweeping the dust from the step with his
battered cap and spreading their meager meal before her.
They ate in silence, so deep in the business of dulling their
appetites that they never noticed a small figure crossing the street
with two goblets and a pitcher hugged tight in his arms. They never
looked up until the things were set down beside them and a voice
announced at their elbow, Mother said I could bring it; it's better 'n
It was Joseph; and the pitcher held milk, still foamy from a late
milking. He looked at Patsy a moment longingly, as if there was more he
wanted to ask; but, overcome with a sudden bashful confusion, he took
to his heels and disappeared around the corner of the meeting-house
before they had time even to give thanks.
The tinker poured the goblets full, handed Patsy's to her with
another grave bow, and, touching his to hers, said, soberly, Here's to
a friendly lassthe first I ever knew, I reckon.
For an instant she watched him, puzzled and amused; then she raised
her glass slowly in reply. And here's to tinkersthe world over!
When everything but the crumbs were eaten she left him to scatter
these and return Joseph's pitcher while she went to get the loan of a
light from the shopkeeper, and hunt up the news.
* * * * *
The store was store, post-office, and general news center combined.
The news was at that very moment in process of circulation among the
boysa shirt-sleeved quorum from the patriarchs of the town circling
the molasses-kegthe storekeeper himself topped it. They looked up as
Patsy entered and acknowledged her Good evening with that perfect
indifference, the provincial cloak in habitual use for concealing the
most absolute curiosity. The storekeeper graciously laid the
hospitality of his stool and counter and kerosene-lamp at her feet; in
other words, he cal'ated she was welcome to make herself t' home. All
of which Patsy accepted. She spread out the newspaper on the counter in
front of her; she unwrapped a series of small bundlesink, pen,
stamped envelope, letter-pad, and pen-holder, and eyed them with
The tinker's a wonder entirely, she said to herself; but I would
like to be knowing, did he or did the shopkeeper do the choosing? Then
she remembered the thing above all others that she needed to know, and
swung about on the stool to address the quorum. I saycan you tell me
where I'd be likely to find aperson by the name of BilWilliam
That rich feller's boy?
Patsy nodded. Have you seen him?
The quorum thumbed the armholes of their vests and shook an emphatic
negative. Nope, volunteered the storekeeper; too early for him or
his sort to be diggin' out o' winter quarters.
Are you sure? Do you know him?
Wall, can't say exactly ef I know him; but I'd know ef he'd been
hangin' round, sartin. Hain't been nothin' like him loose in these
parts. Has there, boys?
The quorum confirmed the statement.
Patsy wrinkled up a perplexed forehead. That's odd. You see, he
should have been here last night, to-day at the latest. I had it from
somebody who knew, that he was coming to Arden.
Mebby he was, drawled the storekeeper, while the quorum cackled in
appreciation; but this here is a good seven miles from Arden.
Patsy's arms fell limp across the counter, her head followed, and
she sat there a crumpled-up, dejected little heap.
By Jack-a-diamonds! swore the storekeeper. She 'ain't swoomed,
has she, boys?
The quorum were on the verge of investigating when she denied the
factin person. Where am I? In the name of Saint Peter, what place is
This? Why, this is Lebanon.
She smiled weakly. Lebanon! Sounds more like it, anyhow. Thank
She turned about and settled down to the paper while the boys
reverted to their original topic of discussion. There were two items of
news that interested her: Burgeman, senior, was critically ill; he had
been ill for some time, but there had been no cause for apprehension
until the last twenty-four hours; and Marjorie Schuyler had left for
San Franciscoon the way to China. She was to be gone indefinitely.
The heathen idols and the laundrymen are welcome to her, growled
Patsy, maliciously. If they'd only fix her with the evil eye, or wish
such a homesickness and lovesickness on her that 'twould last for a
year and a day, I'd forgive her for what she's made me wish on myself.
Having relieved her mind somewhat, she was able to attend to the
business of the letter with less inward discomfort. The letter was
written to George Travis, already known as the manager of Miss St.
Regis. He was the head of a well-known theatrical managerial firm in
New York, and an old friend and well-wisher of Patsy's. In it she
explained, partly, her continued sojourn in America, and frankly
confessed to her financial needs. If he had anything anywhere that she
could do until the fall bookings with her own company, she would be
most humbly grateful. He might address her at Arden; she had great
hopes of reaching theresome day. There was a postscript added in
good, pure Donegal:
And don't ye be afeared of hurting my pride by offering
anything too small. Just at present I'm like old Granny
Donoghue's lean pighungry for scrapings.
As she sealed the envelope a shadow fell athwart the counter. Patsy
looked up to find the tinker peering at her sharply.
You look clean tuckered out, he announced, baldly; then he laid a
coaxing hand on her arm. I want you to come along with me. Will you,
lass? I've found a place for youa nice place. I've been talkin' to
Joseph's mother, an' she's goin' to look after you for the night.
Patsy's face crinkled up all over; the tinker could not have
toldeven if he had been in possession of all his senseswhether she
was going to laugh or cry. As it turned out, she did neither; she just
sighed, a tired, contented little sigh, slipping off the stool and
dropping the letter into the post-box.
When she faced the tinker again her eyes were misty, and for all her
courage she could not keep the quivering from her lips. She reached up
impulsive, trusting hands to his shoulders: Ladladhow were ye ever
guessing that I'd reached the end o' my wits and was needing some one
to think for me? Holy Saint Michael! but won't I be mortial glad to be
feeling a respectable, Lebanon feather-bed under me!
* * * * *
As the tinker led her out of the store the quorum eyed her silently
for a moment. For a brief space there was a scraping of chairs and
clearing of throats, indicative of some important comment.
What sort of a lookin' gal did that Green County sheriff say he was
after? inquired the storekeeper at last.
Small, warn't it? suggested one of the quorum.
Yep, guess it was. And what sort o' clothes did he say she wore?
Brown! chorused the quorum.
Wall, boysthe storekeeper wagged an accusing thumb in the
direction of the recently vacated stoolshe was small, warn't she?
An' she's got brown clothes, hain't she? An' she acts queer, doan't
The quorum nodded in solemn agreement.
But she doan't look like no thief, interceded the youngest of the
boys. He couldn't have been a day over seventy, and it was more than
likely that he was still susceptible to youth and beauty!
The rest glowered at him with plain disapproval, while the
storekeeper shifted the course of his thumb and wagged it at him
instead. Si Perkins, that's not for you to saynor me, neither.
That's up to Green County; an' I cal'ate I'll 'phone over to the
sheriff, come mornin', an' tell him our suspicions. By Jack-a-diamonds!
I've got to square my conscience.
The quorum invested their thumbs again and cleared their throats.
VII. THE TINKER PLAYS A PART
There is little of the day's happenings that escapes the ears of a
country boy. Every small item of local interest is so much grist for
his mill; and there is no more reliable method for a stranger to
collect news than a sociable game of peg interspersed with a few
casual but diplomatic questions. The tinker played peg the night
after he and Patsy reached Lebanonon the barn floor by the light of a
bleary-eyed lantern with Joseph and his brethren, and thereby learned
of the visit of the sheriff.
Afterward he sawed and split the apportioned wood which was to pay
for Patsy's lodging, and went to sleep on the hay in a state of
complete exhaustion. But, for all that, Patsy was wakened an hour
before sun-up by a shower of pebbles on the tin roof of the porch, just
under her window. Looking out, she spied him below, a silencing finger
against his lips, while he waved a beckoning arm toward the road. Patsy
dressed and slipped out without a sound.
What has happened ye? she whispered, anxiously, looking him well
over for some symptoms of sickness or trouble.
His only reply was a mysterious shake of the head as he led the way
down the village street, his rags flapping grotesquely in the dawn
There was nothing for Patsy to do except to follow as fast as she
could after his long, swinging strides. Lebanon still slept,
close-wrapped in its peaceful respectability; even the dogs failed to
give them a speeding bark. They stole away as silently as shadows, and
as shadows went forth upon the open road to meet the coming day.
A mile beyond the township stone the tinker stopped to let Patsy
catch up with him; it was a very breathless, disgruntled Patsy.
Now, by Saint Brendan, what ails ye, lad, to be waking a body up at
this time of day? Do ye think it's good morals or good manners to be
trailing us off on a bare stomach like thisas if a county full of
constables was at our heels? What's the meaning of it? And what will
the good folk who cared for us the night think to find us gone with
never a word of thanks or explanation?
The tinker scratched his chin meditatively; it was marked by a day's
more growth than on the previous morning, which did not enhance his
comeliness or lessen his state of vagabondage. There was something
about his appearance that made him out less a fool and more an uncouth
rascal; one might easily have trusted him as well as pitied him
yesterdaybut to-dayPatsy's gaze was critical and not
He saw her look and met it, eye for eye, only he still fumbled his
chin ineffectually. Have you forgot? he asked, a bit sheepishly.
There were the lady's-slippers; you said as how you cared about
findin' 'em; and they're not near so pretty an' bright if they're left
standin' too long after the dew dries.
Patsy pulled a wry little smile. Is that so? And ye've been after
making me trade a feather-bed and a good breakfast forfor the best
color of lady's-slippers. Well, if I was Dan instead of myself,
standing here, I'd be likely to tell ye to go to the devilaye, an'
help ye there with my two fists. Her cheeks were flushed and all the
comradeship faded quickly from her eyes.
The tinker said never a word, only his lips parted in a coaxing
smile which seemed to say, Please go on believing in me, and his eyes
still held hers unwaveringly.
And the tinker's smile won. Bit by bit Patsy's rigid attitude of
condemnation relaxed; the comradeship crept back in her eyes, the smile
to her lips. Heigho! 'Tis a bad bargain ye can't make the best of. But
mind one thing, Master Touchstone! Ye'll find the right road to Arden
this time or ye and the duke's daughter will part companyfor all
Willie Shakespeare wrote it otherwise.
He nodded. We can ask the way 's we go. But first we'll be gettin'
the lady's-slippers and some breakfast. You'll seeI'll find them both
for you, lass; and he set off with his swinging stride straight across
country, wagging his head wisely. Patsy fell in behind him, and the
road was soon out of sight and earshot.
* * * * *
It was just about this time that the storekeeper at Lebanon got the
Green County sheriff on the 'phone, and squared his conscience. I
cal'ate she's the guilty party, were his closing remarks. She'd never
ha' lighted out o' this 'ere town afore Christian folks were out o' bed
ef she hadn't had somethin' takin' her. And what's more, she's keepin'
And so it came about that all the time the sorrel mare was being
harnessed into the runabout the tinker was leading Patsy farther
afield. And so it came to pass that when the mare's heels were raising
the dust on the road between Lebanon and Arden, they were following a
forest brook, deeper and deeper, into the woods.
They found it the most cheery, neighborly, and comfortable kind of a
brook, the quiet and well-contained sort that one could step at will
from bank to bank, and see with half an eye what a prime favorite it
was among its neighbors. Patsy and the tinker marked how close things
huddled to it, even creeping on to cover stones and gravel stretches;
there were moss and ferns and little, clinging things, like
baby's-breath and linnea. The major part of the bird population was
bathing in the sunnier pools, soberly or with wild hilarity, according
The tinker knew them all, calling to them in friendly fashion, at
which they always answered back. Patsy listened silently, wrapped in
the delight and beauty of it. On went the brookdancing here in a
broken patch of sunshinequieting there between the banks of rock-fern
and columbine, to better paint their prettiness; and all the while
singing one farther and farther into the woods. She was just wondering
if there could be anything lovelier than this when the tinker stopped,
still and tense as a pointer. She craned her head and looked beyond
himlooked to where the woods broke, leaving for a few feet a thinly
shaded growth of beech and maple. The sunlight sifted through in great,
unbroken patches of gold, falling on the beds of fern and moss
andyes, there they were, the promised lady's-slippers.
A little, indrawn sigh of ecstasy from Patsy caused the tinker to
turn about. Then you're not hatin' gold when you find it growin' green
that-a-way? he chuckled.
Patsy shook her head with vehemence. Never! And wouldn't it be
grand if nature could be gathering it all up from everywhere and
spinning it over again into the likes of those! In the name o' Saint
Francis, do ye suppose if the English poets had laid their two eyes to
anything so beautiful as what's yonder they'd ever have gone so daffy
They never would, agreed the tinker.
Patsy studied him with a sharp little look. And what do ye know
about English poets, pray?
His lower jaw dropped in a dull, foolish fashion. Nothin'; but I
know daff'dils, he explained at last.
And at that moment the call of a thrush came to them from just
across the glade. Patsy listened spellbound while he sang his bubbling
song of gladness through half a score of times.
Is it the flowers singing? she asked at last, her eyes dancing
It might be the souls o' the dead ones. The tinker considered
thoughtfully a moment. Maybe the souls o' flowers become birds, same
as ours becomes angelswouldn't be such a deal o' differenceboth
takin' to wings and singin'. He chuckled again. Anyhow, that's the
bellbird; and I sent him word yesterday by one o' them tattlin' finches
to be on hand just about this time.
Ye didn't order a breakfast the same way, did ye?
The tinker threw back his head and laughed. I did, then, and,
before Patsy could strip her tongue of its next teasing remark, he had
vanished as quickly and completely as if magic had had a hand in it.
A crescendo of snapping twigs and rustling leaves marked his going,
however; and Patsy leaped the brook and settled herself, tailor
fashion, in the midst of the sunshine and the lady's-slippers. She
unpinned the rakish beaver and tossed it from her; off came the Norfolk
jacket, and followed the beaver. She eyed the rest of her costume
askance; she would have sorely liked to part with that, too, had she
but the Lord's assurance that He would do as well by her as he had by
the lilies of the field or the lady's-slippers.
'Tis surprising how wearisome the same clothes can grow when on the
back of a human beingyet a flower can wear them for a thousand years
or more and ye never go tired of them. I'm not knowing why,
butsomehowI'd like to be looking gladsometo-day.
She stretched her arms wide for a minute, in a gesture of intense
longing; then the glory of the woods claimed her again and she gave
herself over completely to the wonder and enjoyment of them. Her eyes
roamed about her unceasingly for every bit of prettiness, her ears
caught the symphony of bird and brook and soughing wind. So still did
she sit that the tinker, returning, thought for a moment that she had
gone, and stood, knee-deep in the brakes, laden to the chin and covered
with the misery of poignant disappointment. For him all the music of
the place had turned to laughing discorduntil he spied her.
I thoughthis tongue stumbledI was thinkin' you had
gonesudden-likesame as you camedown the road yesterday. He
paused a moment. You wouldn't go off by yourself and leave a lad
without you said somethin' about it first, would you?
I'll not leave ye till we get to Arden.
An'an' what then?
The road must end for me there, lad. What I came to do will be
done, and there'll be no excuse for lingering. But I'll not forget to
wish ye 'God-speed' along your way before I go.
A sly look came into the tinker's eyes. Patsy never saw it, for he
was bending close over the huge basket he had brought; she only caught
a tinge of exultation in his voice as he said, Then that's a'right, if
you'll promise your comp'ny till we fetch up in Arden.
With that he went busily about preparations for breakfast, Patsy
watching him, plainly astonished. He gathered bark and brush and
kindled a fire on a large flat rock which he had moved against a
near-by boulder. About it he fastened a tripod of green saplings, from
which he hung a coffee-pot, filled from the brook.
I'm praying there's more nor water in it, murmured Patsy. And a
moment later, as the tinker shook out a small white table-cloth from
the basket and spread it at her feet, she clasped her hands and
repeated with perfect faith, 'Little goat bleat, table get set'; I
smell the coffee.
Out of the basket came little green dishes, a pat of butter, a jug
of cream, a bowl of berries, a plate of biscuits. Riz, was the
tinker's comment as he put down the last named; and then followed what
appeared to Patsy to be round, brown, sugared buns with holes in them.
These he passed twice under her nose with a triumphant flourish.
And what might they be? Her curiosity was reaching the
breaking-point. If ye bring out another thing from that basket I'll
believe ye're in league with Bodh Dearg himself, or ye've stolen the
faeries' trencher of plenty.
For reply the tinker dived once more beneath the cover and brought
out a frying-pan full of bacon, and four white eggs. Think whatever
you're mind to, I'm going to fry these. But after he had raked over
the embers to his complete satisfaction and placed the pan on them, he
came back and, picking up one of the brown buns, slipped it over
Patsy's forefinger. This is a wishin'-ring, he announced, soberly,
though most folks calls 'em somethin' different. Now if you wish a
wishand eat itall but the hole, you'll have what you've been
wishin' for all your life.
How soon will ye be having it?
In as many days as there are bites.
So Patsy bit while the tinker checked them off on his fingers. One,
two, three, four, five, six. You'll get your wish by the seventh day,
sure, or I'm no tinker.
[Illustration: If you wish a wish and eat itall but the hole,
you'll have what you've been wishin' for all your life.]
But are ye? Patsy shook the de-ringed finger at him accusingly.
I'm beginning to have my doubts as to whether ye're a tinker at all.
Ye are foolish one minute, and ye've more wits than I have the next;
I've caught ye looking too lonesome and helpless to be allowed beyond
reach of our mother's kerchief-end, and yet last night and the day
ye've taken care of me as if ye'd been hired out to tend babies since
ye were one yourself. As for your language, ye never speak twice the
The tinker grinned. That bacon's burnin'; Ical'ate I'd better
turn it, hadn't I?
Ical'ate you had, and Patsy grinned back at him derisively.
The tinker was master of ceremonies, and he served her as any
courtier might have served his liege lady. He shook out the diminutive
serviette he had brought for her and spread it across her lap; he
poured her coffee and sweetened it according to direction; he even
buttered her riz biscuits and poured the cream on her berries.
Are ye laboring under the delusion that the duke's daughter was
helpless, entirely? she asked, at length.
The tinker shook an emphatic negative. I was just thinkin' she
might like things a mite decentonct in a while.
Ladladwho in the wide world are ye! Patsy checked her outburst
with a warning hand: Nodon't ye be telling me. Ye couldn't turn out
anything better nor a tinkerand I'd rather keep ye as I found ye. So
if ye have a secretmind it well; and don't ye be letting it loose to
scare the two of us into over-wise, conventional folk. We'll play
Willie Shakespeare comedy to the end of the roadplease God!
Amen! agreed the tinker, devoutly, as he threw her portion of
fried eggs neatly out of the pan into her plate.
It was not until she was served that he looked after his own wants;
then they ate in silence, both too hungry and too full of their own
thoughts to loosen their tongues.
Once the tinker broke the silence. Your wishwhat was it? he
That's telling, said Patsy. But if ye'll confess to where ye came
by this heavenly meal, I might confess to the wish.
He rubbed his chin solemnly for an instant; then he beamed. I'll
tell ye. I picked it off o' the fern-tops and brambles as I came
Of course ye did, agreed Patsy, with fine sarcasm, and for my
wishI was after thinking I'd marry the king's son.
They looked at each other with the teasing, saucy stare of two
children; then they laughed as care-free and as merrily.
Maybe you'll get your wish, he suggested, soberly.
Maybe I will, agreed Patsy, with mock solemnity.
A look of shrewdness sprang into the tinker's face. But you said
you hated gold. You couldn't marry a king's son 'thout havin'
goldlots of it.
Ayebut I could! Couldn't I be making him throw it away before
ever I'd marry him? And Patsy clapped her hands triumphantly.
An' you'd marry himpoor? The tinker's eyes kindled suddenly, as
he asked itfor all the world as if her answer might have a meaning
Patsy never noticed. She was looking past himinto the
indistinguishable wood-tangle beyond. Sure, we wouldn't be poor. We'd
be blessed with nothingthat's all!
For those golden moments of romancing Patsy's quest was forgotten;
they might have reached Arden and despatched her errand, for all the
worriment their loitering caused her. As for the tinker, if he had
either a mission or a destination he gave no sign for her to reckon by.
They dallied over the breakfast; they dallied over the aftermath of
picking up and putting away and stamping out the charred twigs and
embers; and then they dallied over the memory of it all. Patsy spun a
hundred threads of fancy into tales about the forest, while the tinker
called the thickets about them full of birds, and whistled their songs
antiphonally with them.
Do ye know, said Patsy, with a deep sigh, I'm happier than ye can
tell me, and twice as happy as I can tell ye.
An' this, hereabouts, wouldn't make a bad castle, suggested the
What Patsy might have answered is not recorded, for they both
happened to look up for the first time in a long space and saw that the
sky above their heads had grown a dull, leaden color. They were no
longer sitting in the midst of sunlight; the lady's-slippers had lost
their golden radiance; the brook sounded plaintive and melancholy, and
from the woods fringing the open came the call of the bob-white.
He's singin' for rain. Won't hurt a mite if we make toward some
shelter. The tinker pulled Patsy to her feet and gathered up the
basket and left-overs.
Hurry, said Patsy, with a strange, little, twisted smile on her
lips. Of course I was knowing, like all faery tales, it had to have an
ending; but I want to remember it, just as we found it firstsprinkled
with sunshine and not turning dull and gray like this.
She started plunging through the woods, and the tinker was obliged
to turn her about and set her going right, with the final instruction
to follow her nose and he would catch up with her before she had caught
up with it. She had reached the road, however, and thunder was
grumbling uncomfortably near when the tinker joined her.
It's goin' to be a soaker, he announced, cheerfully.
Then we'd better tramp fast as we can and ask the first person we
pass, are we on the right road to Arden.
They tramped, but they passed no one. The road was surprisingly
barren of shelters, and, strangely enough, of the two houses they saw
one was temporarily deserted and the other unoccupied. The wind came
with the breaking of the stormthat cold, piercing wind that often
comes in June as a reminder that winter has not passed by so very long
before. It whipped the rain across their faces and cut down their
headway until it seemed to Patsy as if they barely crawled. They came
to a tumble-down barn, but she was too cold and wet to stop where there
was no fire.
Any place that's warm, she shouted across to the tinker; and he
shouted back, as they rounded the bend of the road.
See, there it is at last!
The sight of a house ahead, whose active chimney gave good evidence
of a fire within, spurred Patsy's lagging steps. But in response to
their knocking, the door was opened just wide enough to frame the
narrow face of a timid-eyed, nervous woman who bade them be gone even
before they had gathered breath enough to ask for shelter.
Faith, 'tis a reminder that we are no longer living three hundred
years ago, Patsy murmured between tightening lips. How long in, do ye
think, the fashion has beento shut doors on poor wanderers?
At the next house, a half-mile beyond, they fared no better. The
woman's voice was curter, and the uninviting muzzle of a bull-terrier
was thrust out between the door and the woman's skirts. As they turned
away Patsy's teeth were chattering; the chill and wet had crept into
her bones and blood, turning her lips blue and her cheeks ashen; even
the cutting wind failed to color them.
Curse them! muttered the tinker, fiercely. If I only had a coat
to put around youanything to break the wind. Curse them warm and dry
inside there! and he shook his fist at the forbidden door.
Patsy tried to smile, but failed. Faith! I haven't the breath to
curse them; but God pity them, that's all.
Before she had finished the tinker had a firm grip of her arm. Hang
it! If no one will take us in, we'll break in. Cheer up, lass; I'll
have you by a crackling good fire if I have to steal the wood.
He hurried her alongsomewhere. Weariness and bodily depression
closed her eyes; and she let him lead herwhither she neither wondered
nor cared. Time and distance ceased to exist for her; she stumbled
along, conscious of but two thingsa fear that she would be ill again
with no one to tend her, and a gigantic craving for heatheat!
When she opened her eyes again they had stopped and were standing
under a shuttered window at what appeared to be the back of a summer
cottage; the tinker was prying a rock out of the mud at their feet. In
a most business-like manner he used it to smash the fastening of the
shutters, and, when these were removed, to break the small, leaded pane
of glass nearest the window-fastening. It was only a matter of seconds
then before the window was opened and Patsy boosted over the sill into
the kitchen beyond.
Ye'd best stand me in the sink and wring me out, or I'll flood the
house, Patsy managed to gasp. I'd do it myself, but I know, if I once
let go of my hands, I'll shake to death.
The tinker followed her advice, working the water out of her
dripping garments in much the same fashion that he would have employed
had she been a half-drowned cat. In spite of her numbness Patsy saw the
grim humor of it all and came perilously near to a hysterical laugh.
The tinker unconsciously forestalled it by shouldering her, as if she
had been a whole bag of water-soaked cats, and carrying her up the
stairs. After looking into three rooms he deposited her on the
threshold of a fourth.
It has the look of women folks; you're sure to find some
left-behind clothes o' theirs hanging up somewhere. Come down when
you're dry an' I'll have that fire waiting for you.
What followed was all a dream to Patsy's benumbed senses: the search
in drawers and closets for things to put on, and the finding of them;
the insistent aching of fingers and arms in trying to adjust them, and
the persistent refusal of brain to direct them with any degree of
intelligence. She came down the stairs a few minutes later, dragging a
bundle of wet clothes after her, and found the tinker kneeling by the
hearth, still in his dripping rags, and heaping more logs on the
already blazing fire.
He rose as she came toward him, took the clothes from her and
dropped them on the hearth. He seemed decidedly hazy and remote as he
brought a steamer rug from somewhere and wrapped it about her; his
voice, as he coaxed her over to the couch, apparently came from miles
away. As Patsy sank down, too weary to speak, the figure above her took
upon itself once more that suggestion of unearthliness that it had worn
when she had discovered it at dawnhanging to the stump fencing. For
an instant the glow of the fire threw the profile into the same shadowy
outlines that the rising sun had first marked for her; and the image
lingered even after her eyes had closed.
Sure, he's fading away like Oisiu, Gearoidh Iarla, and all of them
in the old tales, she thought, drowsily. Like as not, when I open my
eyes again he'll be clear gone. This was where the dream ended and
complete oblivion began.
* * * * *
How long it lasted she could not have told; she only knew she was
awake at last and acutely conscious of everything about her; and that
she was warmwarmwarm! The room was dark except for the firelight;
but whether it was evening or night or midnight, she could not have
guessed. She found herself speculating in a hazy fashion where she was,
whose house they had broken into, and what the tinker had done with
himself. She had a vague, far-away feeling that she ought to be
disturbed over somethingher complete isolation with a strange
companion on a night like this; but the physical contentment, the
reaction from bodily torture, drugged her sensibilities. She closed her
eyes lazily again and listened to the wind howling outside with the
never-ceasing accompaniment of beating rain. She was content to revel
in that feeling of luxury that only the snugly housed can know.
A sound in the room roused her. She opened her eyes as lazily as she
had closed them, expecting to find the tinker there replenishing the
fire; insteadShe sat up with a jerk, speechless, rubbing her eyes
with two excited fists, intent on proving the unreality of what she had
seen; but when she looked again there it wasthe clean-cut figure of a
man immaculate in white summer flannels.
The blood rushed to Patsy's face; mortification, dread, sank into
her very soul; the drug of physical contentment had lost its power. For
the first time in her life she was dominated by the dictates of
convention. She cursed her irresponsible love of vagabondage along with
her freedom of speech and manner and her lack of conservative judgment.
These had played her false and shamed her womanhood.
The Patsys of this world are not given to trading on their charm or
powers of attraction to win men to themit is against their creed of
true womanhood. Moreover, a man counts no more than a woman in their
sum total of daily pleasure, and when they choose a comrade it is for
human qualities, not sexualities. And because of this, this particular
Patsy felt the more intensely the humiliation and challenge of the
moment. She hated herself; she hated the man, whoever he might be; she
hated the tinker for his share in it all.
Anger loosened her tongue at last. Who, in the name of Saint
Bridget, are ye? she demanded.
And the man in white flannels threw back his head and laughed.
VIII. WHEN TWO WERE NOT COMPANY
The laughter would have proved contagious to any except one in
Patsy's humor; and, as laughing alone is sorry business, the man soon
sobered and looked over at Patsy with the merriment lingering only in
By Willie Shakespeare, it's the duke's daughter in truth!
The words made little impression on her; it was the laugh and voice
that puzzled her; they were unmistakably the tinker's. But there was
nothing familiar about face, figure, or expression, although Patsy
studied them hard to find some trace of the man she had been journeying
With a final bewildered shake of the head her eyes met his coldly,
mockingly. My name is Patricia O'Connellher voice was crisp and
tart; it's the Irish for a short temper and a hot one. Now maybe you
will have the grace to favor me with yours.
Just the tinker, he complied, amiably, and very much at your
service. This was accompanied by a sweeping bow.
Patsy had marked that bow on two previous occasions, and it
testified undeniably to the man's identity. Yet Patsy's mind balked at
accepting it; it was too galling to her pride, too slanderous of her
past judgment and perceptibilities. A sudden rush of anger brought her
to her feet, and, coming over to the opposite side of the hearth, she
faced him, flushed, determined, and very dignified. It is to be doubted
if Patsy could have sustained the latter with any degree of conviction
if she could have seen herself. Straying strands of still damp hair
curled bewitchingly about her face, bringing out the roundness of cheek
and chin and the curious, guileless expression of her eyes. Moreover,
the coquettish gown she wore was entrancing; it was a light blue, tunic
affair with wide baby collar and cuffs, and a Roman girdle; and she had
found stockings to match, with white buckskin pumps. It had been blind
chance on her partthis making of a toilet, but the effect was none
the less adorableand condemning to dignity.
This was evidently appreciated by the tinker, for his face was an
odd mixture of grotesque solemnity and keen enjoyment. Patsy was
altogether too flustered to diagnose his expression, but it added
considerably to the temperature of the O'Connell temper. In view of the
civilized surroundings and her state of dignity Patsy had taken to
King's English with barely a hint of her native brogue.
If you are the tinkerand I presume you areI should very much
appreciate an explanation. Would you mind telling me how you happened
to be hanging onto that stump, in rags, and looking half-witted when
Iwhen I came by?
Whyjust because I was a tinker, he laughed.
Then what are you now?
Once a tinker, always a tinker. I'm just a good-for-nothing; good
to mend other people's broken pots, and little else; knowing more about
birds than human beings, and poor company for any one saving the very
Patsy stamped her foot. Why can't you play fair? Isn't it only
decent to tell who you are and what you were doing on the road when I
You know as well as I what I was doinghanging onto the stump and
trying to gather my wits. And don't you think it would be nicer if you
talked Irish? It doesn't make a lad feel half as comfortable or as much
at home when he is addressed in such perfect English.
Patsy snorted. In a minute I'll not be addressing you at all. Do
you think, if I had known you were what you are, I would ever have been
soso brazen as to ask for your company and tramp along with you for
two daysor be here, now? Oh! she finished, with a groan and a
fierce clenching of her fists.
No, I don't think so. That's why I didn't hurry about gathering up
the wits; it seemed more sociable without them. I wouldn't have
bothered with them now, only I couldn't stay in those rags any longer;
it wouldn't have been kind to the furniture or the people who own it.
These togs were the only things that came anywhere near to fitting me;
and, somehow, a three-days' beard didn't match them. Lucky for me,
Heaven blessed the house with a good razor, and, presto! when the beard
and the rags were gone the wits came back. I'm awfully sorry if you
don't like themthe wits, I mean.
Sure, ye must be! Unconsciously Patsy had stepped back onto her
native sod and her tongue fairly dripped with irony. So ye thought
ye'd have a morsel o' fun at the expense of a strange lass, while ye
laughed up your sleeve at how clever ye were.
See here! don't be too hard, please! That foolishness was real
enough; I had just been knocked over the head by the kind gentleman
from whom I borrowed the rags. I paid him a tidy sum for the use of
them, and evidently he thought it was a shame to leave me burdened with
the balance of my money. Arguing wouldn't have done any good, so he
took the simplest wayjust sandbagged me and
Was it much money?
Mercy, no! Just a few dollars, hardly worth the anæsthesia.
And ye werehalf-witted, then?
Half? A bare sixteenth! It wasn't until afternoonuntil we reached
the church at the cross-roadsthat I really came into full
possession The sentence trailed off into an inexplicable grin.
And after that, 'twas I played the fool. Patsy's eyes kindled.
The tinker grew serious; he dug his hands deep into his capacious
white flannels as if he were very much in earnest. Can't you
understand? If I hadn't played foolish you would never have let me
wander with youyou just said so. I knew that, and I was selfish,
lonelyand I didn't want to give you up. You can't blame me. When a
man meets with genuine comradeship for the first time in his lifethe
kind he has always wanted, but has grown to believe doesn't existhe's
bound to win a crumb of it for himself, it costs no more than a trick
of foolishness. Surely you understand?
Oh, I understand! I'm understanding more and more every
minute'tis the gift of your tongue, I'm thinkingand I'm wondering
which of us will be finding it the pleasantest. She flashed a look of
unutterable scorn upon him. If ye were not half-witted, would ye mind
telling me how we came to be taking the wrong road at the church?
The tinker choked.
Aye, I thought so. Ye lied to me.
No, not exactly; you see he floundered helplessly.
Faith! don't send a lie to mend a lie; 'tis poor business, I can
Well,the tinker's tone grew doggedwas it such a heinous sin,
after all, to want to keep you with me a little longer?
The fire in Patsy's eyes leaped forth at last. Sin, did ye say?
Faith! 'tis the wrong name ye've given it entirely. 'Twas amusement, ye
meant; the fun of trading on a girl's ignorance and simple-heartedness;
the trick of getting the good makings of a tale to tell afterward to
other fine gentlemen like yourself.
So you think
Aye, I think 'twas a joke with yefrom first to last. Maybe ye
made a wager with some oneor ye were dared to take to the road in
ragsor ye did it for copy; ye're not the first man who has done the
like for the sake of a new idea for a story. 'Twas a pity, though, ye
couldn't have got what ye wanted without making a girl pay with her
The tinker winced, reaching out a deprecatory hand. You are wrong;
no one has paid such a price. There are some natures so clear and fine
that chance and extremity can put them anywherein any
companywithout taking one whit from their fineness or leaving one
atom of smirch. Do you think I would have brought you here and risked
your trust and censorship of my honor if you had not beenwhat you
are? A decent man has as much self-respect as a decent woman, and the
same wish to keep it.
But Patsy's comprehension was strangely deaf.
'Tis easy enough trimming up poor actions with grand words. There'd
have been no need of risking anything if ye had set me on the right
road this morning; I would have been in Arden now, where I belong. But
that wasn't your way. 'Twas a grand scheme ye hadwhatever it might
be; and ye fetch me away afore the town is up and I can ask the road of
any one; and ye coax me across pastures and woods, a far cry from
passing folk and reliable information; and ye hold me, loitering the
day through, till ye have me forgetting entirely why I came, along with
the promise laid on me, and the other poor ladHeaven help him!
Oho! The tinker whistled unconsciously.
Oho! mimicked Patsy; and is there anything so wonderfully strange
in a lass looking after a lad? Sure, I'm hating myself for not minding
his need better; and, Holy Saint Michael, how I'm hating ye! She ran
out of the room and up the stairway.
The tinker was after her in a twinkling. He reached the foot of the
stairs before she was at the top. Pleaseplease wait a minute, he
pleaded. If there's anotherlad, a lad youlove, that I have kept
you fromthen I hate myself as much as you do. All I can say is that I
didn't thinkdidn't guess; and I'm no end sorry.
Patsy leaned over the banisters and looked down at him through eyes
unmistakably wet. What does it matter to ye if he's the lad I love or
not? And can't a body do a kindness for a lad without loving him?
Thank Heaven! she can. You have taught me that miracleand I don't
believe the other lad will grudge me these few hours, even if you do.
Who knows? My need may have been as great as his.
Patsy frowned. All ye needed was something soft to dull your wits
on; what he's needing is a fatherand motherand sweetheartand some
good 1915 bonds of human trust.
The tinker folded his arms over the newel-post and smiled. And do
you expect to be able to supply them all?
God forbid! Patsy laughed in spite of herself.
And the tinker, scoring a point, took courage and went on: Don't
you suppose I realize that you have given me the finest gift a stranger
can havethe gift of honest, unconditional friendship, asking no
questions, demanding no returns? It is a rare gift for any manand I
want to keep it as rare and beautiful as when it was given. So please
don't mar it for menow. Please! His hands went out in earnest
The anger was leaving Patsy's face; already the look of comradeship
was coming back in her eyes; her lips were beginning to curve in the
old, whimsical smile. And the tinker, seeing, doubled his courage.
Now, won't you please forgive me and come down and get some supper?
She hesitated and, seeing that her decision was hanging in the
balance, he recklessly tried his hand at tipping the scales in his
favor. I'm no end of a good forager, and I've rooted out lots of
things in tins and jars. You must be awfully hungry; remember, it's
hours since our magical breakfast with the lady's-slippers.
Patsy's fist banged the railing with a startling thud. I'll never
break fast with ye againnevernevernever! Ye've blighted the
greenest memory I ever had! And with that she was gone, slamming the
door after her by way of dramatic emphasis.
* * * * *
It was a forlorn and dejected tinker that returned alone to the
empty hearthside. The bright cheer of the fire had gone; the room had
become a place of shadows and haunting memories. For a long time he
stood, brutally kicking one of the fire-dogs and snapping his fingers
at his feelings; and then, being a man and requiring food, he went out
into the pantry where he had been busily preparing to set forth the
hospitality of the house when Patsy had wakened.
But before he ate he found a tray and covered it with the best the
pantry afforded. He mounted the stairs with it in rather a lagging
fashion, being wholly at sea concerning the temperature of his
reception. His conscience finally compromised with his courage, and he
put the tray down outside Patsy's door.
It was not until he was half-way down the stairs again that he
called out, bravely, OhI sayMissO'Connell; you'd better change
your mind and eat something.
He waited a good many minutes for an answer, but it came at last;
the voice sounded broken and wistful as a crying child's. Thankyou!
and then, Could ye be after telling me how far it is from here to
Let me seeaboutseven miles; and the tinker laughed; he could
not help it.
The next instant Patsy's door opened with a jerk and the tray was
precipitated down the stairs upon him. It was the conclusive evidence
of the O'Connell temper.
But the tinker never knew that Patsy wept herself remorsefully to
sleep; and Patsy never knew that the last thing the tinker did that
night was to cut a bedraggled brown coat and skirt and hat into strips
and burn them, bit by bit. It was not altogether a pleasant
ceremonythe smell of burning wool is not incense to one's nostrils;
and the tinker heaved a deep sigh of relief as the last flare died down
into a heap of black, smudgy embers.
That Green County sheriff will have a long way to go now if he's
still looking for a girl in a brown suit, he chuckled.
Sleep laid the O'Connell temper. When Patsy awoke her eyes were as
serene as the patches of June sky framed by her windows, and she felt
at peace with the world and all the tinkers in it.
'Twould be flattering the lad too much entirely to make up with him
before breakfast; but I'll be letting him tramp the road to Arden with
me, and we'll part there good friends. Troth, maybe he was a bit
lonesome, she added by way of concession.
She sprang out of bed with a glad little laugh; the day had a grand
beginning, spilling sunshine and bird-song into every corner of her
room, and to Patsy's optimistic soul a good beginning insured a better
ending. As she dressed she planned that ending to her own liking and
according to the most approved rules of dramatic construction: The
tinker should turn out a wandering genius, for in her heart she could
not believe the accusations she had hurled against him the night past;
when they reached Arden they would come upon the younger Burgeman,
contemplating immediate suicide; this would give her her cue, and she
would administer trust and a general bracer with one hand as she
removed the revolver with the other; in gratitude he would divulge the
truth about the forgeryhe did it to save the honor of some
ladyafter which the tinker would sponsor him, tramping him off on the
road to take the taste of gold out of his mouth and teach him the real
meaning of life.
Patsy had no difficulty with her construction until she came to the
final curtain; here she hesitated. She might trail off to find King
Midas and square Billy with him, orthe curtain might drop leaving her
right center, wishing both lads God-speed. Neither ending was
entirely satisfactory, however; the mental effect of the tinker going
off with some one elsealbeit it was another ladwas anything but
The house was strangely quiet. Patsy stopped frequently in her
playmaking to listen for some sounds of human occupancy other than her
own, but there was none.
Poor lad! Maybe I killed him last night when I kicked the
tea-things down the stairs after him; or, most likely, the O'Connell
temper has him stiffened out with fear so he daren't move hand or
A moment later she came down the stairs humming, Blow, blow, thou
winter wind, her eyes dancing riotously.
Now, by all rights, dramatic or otherwise, the tinker should have
been on hand, waiting her entrance. But tinker there was none; nothing
but emptinessand a breakfast-tray, spread and ready for her in the
Curiosity, uneasiness mastered her pride and she
calledoncetwiceseveral times. But there came no answering sound
save the quickening of her own heart-beats under the pressure of her
She was alone in the house.
A feeling of unutterable loneliness swept over Patsy. She came back
to the stairs and stood with her hands clasping the newel-postfor all
the world like a shipwrecked maiden clinging to the last spar of the
ship. No, she did not believe a shipwrecked person could feel more
desertedmore left behind than she did; moreover, it was an easier
task to face the inevitable when it took the form of blind, impersonal
disaster. When it was a matter of deliberate, intentional human
motivesit became well-nigh unbearable. Had the tinker gone to be rid
of her company and her temper? Had he decided that the road was a
better place without her? Maybe he had taken the matter of the other
lad too seriouslyand, thinking them sweethearts, had counted himself
an undesired third, and betaken himself out of their ways.
Ormaybehe was fearsome of constablesand had hurried away to cover
his trail and leave her safe.
Maybe a hundred things, moaned Patsy, disconsolately; maybe 'tis
all a dream and there's no road and no quest and no Rich Man's son and
no tinker, and no anything. MaybeI'll be waking up in another minute
and finding myself back in the hospital with the delirium still on me.
She closed her eyes, rubbed them hard with two mandatory fists, then
opened them to test the truth of her last remark; and it happened that
the first object they fell on was a photograph in a carved wooden frame
on the mantel-shelf in the room across the hall. It was plainly visible
from where Patsy stood by the stairsit was also plainly familiar.
With a run Patsy was over there in an instant, the photograph in her
Holy Saint Patrick, 'tis witchcraft! she cried under her breath.
How in the name of devilsor saintsdid he ever get this taken,
developed, printed, and framedbetween the middle of last night and
the beginning of this morning!
For Patsy was looking down at a picture of the tinker, in white
flannels, with head thrown back and laughing.
IX. PATSY ACQUIRES SOME INFORMATION
With the realization that the tinker was gone, the empty house
suddenly became oppressive. Patsy put down the photograph with a quick
little sigh, and hunted up the breakfast-tray he had left spread and
ready for her, carrying it out to the back porch. There in the open and
the sunshine she ate, according to her own tabulation, three mealsa
left-over supper, a breakfast, and the lunch which she was more than
likely to miss later, She was in the midst of the lunch when an idea
scuttled out of her inner consciousness and pulled at her immediate
attention. She rose hurriedly and went inside. Room after room she
searched, closet after closet.
In one she came upon a suit of familiar white flannels; and she
passed them slowlyso slowly that her hands brushed them with a
friendly little greeting. But the search was a barren one, and she
returned to the porch as empty-handed and as mystified as she had left
it; the heap of ashes on the hearth held no meaning for her, and
consequently told no tales.
'Tis plain enough what's happened, she said, soberly, to the
sparrows who were skirmishing for crumbs. Just as I said, he was
fearsome of those constables, after all, and he's escaped in my
The picture of the tinker's bulk trying to disguise itself behind
anything so scanty as her shrunken garments proved too irresistible for
her sense of humor; she burst into peal after peal of laughter which
left her weak and wet-eyed and dispelled her loneliness like fog before
a clearing wind.
Anyhow, if he hasn't worn them he's fetched them away as a wee
souvenir of an O'Connell; and if I'm to reach Arden in any degree of
decency 'twill have to be in stolen clothes.
But she did not go in the blue frock; the realization came to her
promptly that that was no attire for the road and an unprotected state;
she must go with dull plumage and no beguiling feathers. So she
searched again, and came upon a blue-and-white middy suit and a
dark-blue Norfolk. The exchange brought forth the veriest wisp of a
sigh, for a woman's a woman, on the road or off it; and what one has
not a marked preference for the more becoming frock?
Patsy proved herself a most lawful housebreaker. She tidied up and
put away everything; and the shutter having already been replaced over
the broken window by the runaway tinker, she turned the knob of the
Yale lock on the front door and put one foot over the threshold. It was
back again in an instant, however; and this time it was no lawful Patsy
that flew back through the hall to the mantel-shelf. With the deftness
and celerity of a true housebreaker she de-framed the tinker and
stuffed the photograph in the pocket of her stolen Norfolk.
Sure, he promised his company to Arden, she said, by way of
stilling her conscience. Then she crossed the threshold again; and this
time she closed the door behind her.
The sun was inconsiderately overhead. There was nothing to indicate
where it had risen or whither it intended to set; therefore there was
no way of Patsy's telling from what direction she had come or where
Arden was most likely to be found. She shook her fist at the sun
wrathfully. I'll be bound you're in league with the tinker; 'tis all a
conspiracy to keep me from ever making Arden, or else to keep me just
seven miles from it. That's a grand numberseven.
A glint of white on the grass caught her eye; she stooped and found
it to be a diminutive quill feather dropped by some passing pigeon. It
lay across her palm for a second, and thenthe whim taking hershe
shot it exultantly into the air. Where it fell she marked the way it
pointed, and that was the road she took.
It was beginning to seem years ago since she had sat in Marjorie
Schuyler's den listening to Billy Burgeman's confession of a crime for
which he had not sounded in the least responsible. That was on Tuesday.
It was now Fridaythree daysseventy-two hours later. She preferred
to think of it in terms of hoursit measured the time proportionally
nearer to the actual feeling of it. Strangely enough, it seemed half a
lifetime instead of half a week, and Patsy could not fathom the why of
it. But what puzzled her more was the present condition of Billy
Burgeman, himself. As far as she was concerned he had suddenly ceased
to exist, and she was pursuing a Balmacaan coat and plush hat that were
quite tenantless; orat mostthey were supported by the very haziest
suggestion of a personality. The harder she struggled to make a
flesh-and-blood man therefrom the more persistently did it elude
herslipping through her mental grasp like so much quicksilver. She
tried her best to picture him doing something, feeling somethingthe
simplest human emotionand the result was an absolute blank.
And all the while the shadow of a very real man followed her down
the roada shadow in grotesquely flapping rags, with head flung back.
A dozen times she caught herself listening for the tramp of his feet
beside hers, and flushed hotly at the nagging consciousness that
pointed out each time only the mocking echo of her own tread. Like the
left-behind cottage, the road became unexpectedly lonely and
The devil take them both! she sputtered at last. When one man
refuses to be real at all, and the other pesters ye with being too
real'tis time to quit their company and let them fetch up where and
how they like.
But an O'Connell is never a quitter; and deep down in Patsy's heart
was the determination to see the end of the road for all three of
themif fate only granted the chance.
She came to a cross-roads at length. She had spied it from afar and
hailed it as the end of her troubles; now she would learn the right way
to Arden. But Patsy reckoned without chanceor some one else. The
sign-boards had all been ripped from their respective places on a
central post and lay propped up against its base. There was little
information in them for Patsy as she read: Petersham, five miles;
Lebanon, twelve miles; Arden, seven miles
The last sign went spinning across the road, and Patsy dropped on a
near-by stone with the anguish of a great tragedian. Seven
milesseven miles! I'm as near to it and I know as much about it as
when I started three days ago. Sure, I feel like a mule, just, on a
treadmill, with Billy Burgeman in the hopper.
A feeling of utter helplessness took possession of her; it was as if
her experiences, her actions, her very words and emotions, were
controlled by an unseen power. Impulse might have precipitated her into
the adventure, but since her feet had trod the first stretch of the
road to Arden chance had sat somewhere, chuckling at his own
comedymaking, while he pulled her hither and yon, like a marionette
on a wire. Verily chance was still chuckling at the incongruity of his
stage setting: A girl pursuing a strange man, and a strange sheriff
pursuing the girl, and neither having an inkling of the pursuit or the
reason for it.
On one thing her mind clinched fast, however: she would at least sit
where she was until some one came by who could put her right, once and
for all; rich man, poor man, beggar-man, thiefshe would stop whoever
The arpeggio of an automobile horn brought her to her feet; the next
moment the machine careened into sight and Patsy flagged it from the
middle of the road, the lines of her face set in grim determination.
Would you kindly tell me she was beginning when a girl in the
tonneau cut her short:
Why, it's Patsy O'Connell! How in the name of your blessed Saint
Patrick did you ever get so far from home?
The car was full of young people, but the girl who had spoken was
the only one who looked at all familiar. Patsy's mind groped out of the
present into the past; it was all a blind alley, however, and led
The girl, seeing her bewilderment, helped her out. Don't you
remember, I was with Marjorie Schuyler in Dublin when you were all so
jolly kind to us? I'm Janet Paynethose awful 'Spitsburger
Paynes'and the girl's laugh rang out contagiously.
The laugh swept Patsy's mind out into the open. She reached out and
gripped the girl's hand. Sure, I remember. But it's a long way from
Dublin, and my memory is slower at hearkening back than my heart. A
brave day to all of you. And her smile greeted the carful
Oh!the girl was apologetichow beastly rude I am! I'm
forgetting that you don't know everybody as well as everybody knows
you. Jean Lewis, Mrs. Dempsy Carter, Dempsy Carter, Gregory Jessup, and
Jay ClintonMiss Patricia O'Connell, of the Irish National Players. We
are all very much at your serviceincluding the car, which is not
mine, but the Dempsy Carters'.
Shall we kidnap Miss O'Connell? suggested the owner. She appears
an easy victim.
Janet Payne clapped her hands, but Patsy shook a decided negative.
That's the genius of the Irish, she laughed; they look easy till you
hold them up. I'm bound for Arden, and must make it by the quickest
road if you'll point it out to me.
Why, of courseArden; that accounts for you perfectly. Stupid that
I didn't think of it at once. What part are you playing? Janet Payne
accompanied the question with unmistakable eagerness.
Patsy shot a shrewd glance at the girl. Was she indulging in
good-natured banter, or had she learned through Marjorie Schuyler of
Patsy's self-imposed quest, and was seeking information in figurative
speech? Patsy decided in favor of the former and answered it in kind:
Faith! I'm not sure whether I've been cast for the duke's daughteror
the fool. I can tell ye better after I reach Arden. And she turned
abruptly as if she would be gone.
But the girl held her back. No, you don't. We are not going to lose
you like that. We'll kidnap you, as Dempsy suggested, till after lunch;
then we'll motor you back to Arden. You'll get there just about as
Patsy had not the slightest intention of yielding; her mind and her
feet were braced against any divergence from the straight road now; but
the man Janet Payne had called Gregory Jessup said something that
scattered her resolutions like so much chaff.
You've simply got to come, Miss O'Connell. And he leaned over the
side of the car in boyish enthusiasm. Last summer Billy Burgeman used
to read to me the parts of Marjorie's letters that told about you, and
they were great! We were making up our minds to go to Ireland and see
if you were real when your company came to America. After that Marjorie
would never introduce us after the plays, just to be contrary. You
wouldn't have the heart to grudge us a little acquaintanceship now,
Billy Burgeman, repeated Patsy. Do you know him?
Dempsy Carter interposed. They're chums, Miss O'Connell. I'll wager
there isn't a soul on earth that knows Billy as well as Greg does.
That's hard on Marjorie, isn't it? asked Janet Payne.
Oh, hang Marjorie! The sincerity of Gregory Jessup's emotion
somewhat excused his outburst.
Why, I thought they were betrothed! Patsy looked innocent.
They were. What they are nowHeaven only knows! Marjorie Schuyler
has gone to China, and Billy has dropped off the face of the earth.
A sudden silence fell on the cross-roads. It was Patsy who broke it
at last. Well? A composite, interrogative stare came from the carful.
Patsy laughed bewitchingly. For a crowd of rascally kidnappers, you
are the slowest I ever saw. Troth, in Ireland they'd have it done in
half the time.
The next instant Patsy was lifted bodily inside, and, amid a general
burst of merriment, the car swung down the road.
* * * * *
It was a picnic lunchan elaborate affair put up in a hamper, a
fireless cooker, and a thermos basket; and it was spread on a tiny,
fir-covered peninsula jutting out into a diminutive lake. It was an
enchanting spot and a delicious lunch, with good company to boot; but,
to her annoyance, Patsy found herself continually comparing it
unfavorably with a certain vagabond breakfast garnished with yellow
lady's-slippers, musicianed by throstles, and served by a tinker.
Something is on your mind, or do you find our American manners and
food too hard to digest comfortably? Gregory Jessup had curled up
unceremoniously at her feet, balancing a caviar sandwich, a Camembert
cheese, and a bottle of ale with extraordinary dexterity.
I was thinking aboutBilly Burgeman.
He cast a furtive look toward the others beyond them. They seemed
engrossed for the moment in some hectic discussion over fashions, and
he dropped his voice to a confidential pitch: I can't talk Billy with
the others; I'm too much cut up over the whole thing to stand hearing
them hold an autopsy over Billy's character and motives. He stopped
abruptly and scanned Patsy's face. I believe a chap could turn his
mind inside out with you, though, and you'd keep the contents as
faithfully as a safe-deposit vault.
Patsy smiled appreciatively. Faith! you make me feel like Saint
Martin's chest that Satan himself couldn't be opening.
What did he have in it?
Some good Christian souls.
Contents don't tallymine are some very un-Christian thoughts. He
abandoned the sandwich and cheese, and settled himself to the more
serious business of balancing his remarks. Billy and I work for the
same engineering firm; he walked out for lunch Tuesday and no one has
seen him sinceunless it's Marjorie Schuyler. Couldn't get anything
out of the old man when I first went to see him, and now he's too ill
to see any one. Marjorie said she really didn't know where he was, and
quit town the next day. Now maybe they don't either of them know what's
happened any more than I do; but I think it's infernally queer for a
man to disappear and say nothing to his father, the girl he's engaged
to, or his best friend. Don't you?
Patsy's past training stood stanchly by her. She played the part of
the politely interested listenernothing moreand merely nodded her
You see, the man went on, Billy has a confoundedly queer sense of
honor; he can stretch it at times to cover nearly everybody's
calamities and the fool shortcomings of all his acquaintances. Why, it
wasn't a month ago a crowd of us from the works were lunching together,
and the talk came around to speculating. Billy's hard against it on
principle, but he happened to say that if he was going in for it at all
he'd take cotton. What was in Billy's mind was not the money in it, but
the chance to give the South a boost. Well, one of the fellows took it
as a straight tip to get rich from the old man's son and put in all he
had saved up to be married on; lost it and squealed. And Billythe big
chumpclaimed he was responsible for itthat, being the son of his
father, he ought to know enough to hold his tongue on some subjects. He
made it good to the fellow. I happen to know, for it took every cent of
his own money and his next month's salary into the bargainand that he
borrowed from me.
Wouldn't his father have helped him out?
Gregory Jessup gave a bitter little laugh. You don't know the old
man or you wouldn't ask. He is just about as soft-hearted and human as
a Labrador winter. I've known Billy since we were both little
shaversand, talk about the curse of poverty! It's a saintly
benediction compared to a fortune like that and life with the man who
Andhimself, Billywhat does he think of money?
I'll tell you what he said once. He had dropped in late after a big
dinner where he had been introduced to some one as the fellow who was
going to inherit sixty millions some day. Phew! but he was sore! He
walked milesin ten-foot lapsabout my den, while he cursed his
father's money from Baffin Bay to Cape Horn. 'I tell you, Greg,' he
finished up with, 'I want enough to keep the cramps out of life, that's
all; enough to help the next fellow who's down on his luck; enough to
give the woman I marry a home and not a residence to live in, and to
provide the father of my kiddies with enough leisure for them to know
what real fatherhood means. I bet you I can make enough myself to cover
every one of those necessities; as for the millions, I'd like to chuck
them for quoits off the Battery.'
For a moment Patsy's eyes danced; but the next, something tumbled
out of her memory and quieted them. Then why in the name of Saint
Anthony did he choose to marry Marjorie Schuyler?
That does seem funny, I know, but that's a totally different side
of Billy. You see, all his life he's been falling in with people who
made up to him just for his money, and his father had a confounded way
of reminding him that he was bound to be plucked unless he kept his
wits sharp and distrusted every one. It made Billy sick, and yet it had
its effect. He's always been mighty shy with girlsreckon his father
brought him up on tales of rich chaps and modern Circes. Anyway, when
he met Marjorie Schuyler it was differentshe had too much money of
her own to make his any particular attraction, and he finally gave in
that she liked him just for himself. That was a proud day for him, poor
And did shecould she really love him? Patsy asked the question
of herself rather than the man beside her.
But he answered it promptly: I don't believe Marjorie Schuyler has
anything to love with; it was overlooked when she was made. That's
what's worrying me. If he's got into a scrape he'd tell Marjorie the
first thing; and she's not the understanding, forgiving kind. He hasn't
any money; he wouldn't go to his father; and because he's borrowed from
me once, he's that idiotic he wouldn't do it again. If Marjorie has
given him his papers he's in a jolly blue funk and perfectly capable of
going off where he'll never be heard of again. Hang it all! I don't see
why he couldn't have come to me?
Patsy said nothing while he replenished her plate and helped himself
to another sandwich. At last she asked, casually, Did the two of you
ever have a disagreement over Marjorie Schuyler?
He asked me once just what I thought of her, and I told him. We
never discussed her again.
No? Inwardly Patsy was tabulating why Billy Burgeman had not gone
to his friend when Marjorie Schuyler failed him. He would hardly have
cared to criticize the shortcomings of the girl he loved with the man
who had already discovered them.
What are you two jabbering about? Janet Payne had left her group
and the hectic argument over fashions.
Sure, we're threshing out whether it's the Irish or the
suffragettes will rule England when the war is over.
Well, which is it?
Faith! the answer's so simple I'm ashamed to give it. The women
will rule Englandthat's an easy matter; but the Irish will rule the
Then you are one of the old-fashioned kind who approves of a lord
and master? Gregory Jessup looked up at her quizzically.
'Tis the new fashion you're meaning; having gone out so long since,
'tis barely coming in yet. I'd not give a farthing for the man who
couldn't lead me; only, God help him! if he ever leaves his hands off
The laugh that followed gave Patsy time to think. There was one more
question she must be asking before the others joined them and the
conversation became general. She turned to Janet Payne with a little
air of anxious inquiry.
Maybe you'd ask the rascally villain who kidnapped me, when he has
it in his mind to keep his promise and fetch me to Arden?
As the girl left them Patsy turned toward Gregory Jessup again and
asked, softly: Supposing Billy Burgeman has fallen among strangers? If
they saw he was in need of friendliness, would it be so hard to do him
The man shook his head. The hardest thing in the world. Billy
Burgeman has been proud and lonely all his life, and it's an infernal
combination. You may know he's out and out aching for a bit of
sympathy, but you never offer it; you don't dare. We could never get
him to own up as a little shaver how neglected and lonely he was and
how he hated to stay in that horrible, gloomy Fifth Avenue house. It
wasn't until he had grown up that he told me he used to come and play
as often as they would let himjust because mother used to kiss him
good-by as she did her own boys.
Gregory Jessup looked beyond the firs to the little lake, and there
was that in his face which showed that he was wrestling with a
treasured memory. When he spoke again his voice sounded as if he had
had to grip it hard against a sign of possible emotion.
You know Billy's father never gave him an allowance; he didn't
believe in itwouldn't trust Billy with a cent. Poor little
shavernever had anything to treat with at school, the way the rest of
the boys did; and never even had car-farealways walked, rain or
shine, unless his father took him along with him in the machine. Billy
used to say even in those days he liked walking better. Mother died in
the wintersnowy timewhen Billy was about twelve; and he borrowed a
shovel from a corner grocer and cleared stoops all afternoon until he'd
made enough to buy two white roses. Father hadn't broken down all
daywouldn't let us children show a tear; but when Billy came in with
those roseswell, it was the children who finally had to cheer father
Patsy sprang to her feet with a little cry. I must be going. She
turned to the others, a ring of appeal in her voice. Can't we hurry a
bit? There's a deal of work at Arden to be done, and no one but myself
to be doing it.
Rehearsals? asked Janet Payne.
And Patsy, unheeding, nodded her head.
There was a babel of nonsense in the returning car. Patsy
contributed her share the while her mind was busy building over again
into a Balmacaan coat and plush hat the semblance of a man.
Sure, I'm not saying I can make out his looks or the color of his
eyes and hair, but he's real, for all that. Holy Saint Patrick, but
he's a real man at last, and I'm liking him! She smiled with deep
X. JOSEPH JOURNEYS TO A FAR COUNTRY
Having established the permanent reality of Billy Burgeman to her
own satisfaction, Patsy's mind went racing off to conjure up all the
possible things Billy and the tinker might think of each other as soon
as chance should bring them together. Whereas it was perfectly
consistent that Billy should shun the consolation and companionship of
his own world, he might follow after vagabond company as a thirsty dog
trails water; and who could slake that thirst better than the tinker?
For a second time that day she pictured the two swinging down the open
road together; and for the second time she pulled a wry little smile.
The car was nearing the cross-roads from which Patsy had been
originally kidnapped. She looked up to identify it, and saw a second
car speeding toward them from the opposite direction, while between the
two plodded a solitary little figure, coming toward them, supported by
a mammoth pilgrim staff. It was a boy, apparently conscious of but the
one cartheirs; and he swerved to their leftstraight into the path
of the car behindto let them pass. They sounded their horns, waved
their hands, and shouted warnings. It seemed wholly unbelievable that
he should not understand or that the other car would not stop. But the
unbelievable happened; it does sometimes.
Before Gregory Jessup could jump from their machine the other car
had struck and the boy was tossed like a bundle of empty clothing to
the roadside beyond. The nightmarish suddenness of it all held them
speechless while they gaped at the car's driver, who gave one backward
glance and redoubled his speed. Patsy was the first out of the tonneau,
and she reached the boy almost as soon as Gregory Jessup.
Damn them! That's the second time in my life I've seen a machine
run some one down and sneak
He broke off at Patsy's sharp cry: Holy Mary keep him! 'Tis the wee
lad from Lebanon!
By this time the rest of the carful had gathered about them; and
Dempsy Carterbeing a good Catholicbared his head and crossed
'Tis wee Joseph of Lebanon, Patsy repeated, dully; and then to
Dempsy Carter, Aye, make a prayer for him; but ye'd best do it driving
like the devil for the doctor.
They left at once with her instructions to get the nearest doctor
first, and then to go after the boy's parents. Gregory Jessup stayed
behind with her, and together they tried to lift the still, little
figure onto some rugs and pillows. Then Patsy crept closer and wound
her arms about him, chafing his cheeks and hands and watching for some
sign of returning life.
The man stood silently beside them, holding the pilgrim staff, while
his eyes wandered from Patsy to the child and back to Patsy again, her
face full of harboring tenderness and a great suffering as she gathered
the little boy into her arms and pressed her warm cheek against the
Only once during their long wait was the silence broken. 'Tis
almost as if he'd slipped over the border, Patsy whispered. Maybe
he's there in the gray duska wee shadow soul waiting for death to
loosen its wings and send it lilting into the blue of the Far Country.
How did you happen to know him?
Chance, just. I stopped to tell him a tale of a wandering hero and
he She broke off with a little moan. Ochone! poor wee
Joseph! did I send ye forth on a brave adventure only to bring ye to
this? Her fingers brushed the damp curls from his forehead. Laddy,
laddy, why didn't ye mind the promise I laid on ye?
The doctor was kindly and efficient, but professionally
non-committal. The boy was badly injured, and he must be moved at once
to the nearest house. Somehow they lifted Joseph and held him so as to
break the jar of stone and rut as the doctor drove his car as carefully
as he could down the road leading to the nearest farm-house.
There they were met with a generous warmth of sympathy and
hospitality; the spare chamber was opened, and the farm wife bustled
about, turning down the bed and bringing what comforts the house
possessed. The doctor stayed as long as he could; but the stork was
flying at the other end of the township, and he was forced to leave
Patsy in charge, with abundant instructions.
Soon after his leaving the Dempsy Carters returned without Joseph's
parents; they had gone to town and were not expected home until chore
All right, Patsy sighed. Now ye had best all go your ways and
I'll bide till morning.
But can you? Janet Payne asked it, wonderingly. I thought you
said you had to be in Arden to-day?
A smile, whimsical and baffling, crept to the corners of Patsy's
mouth. Sure, life is crammed with things ye think have to be done
to-day till they're matched against a sudden greater need. Chance and I
started the wee lad on his journey, and 'twas meant I should see him
safe to the end, I'm thinking. Good-by.
Gregory Jessup lingered a moment behind the others; his eyes were
suspiciously red, and the hands that gripped Patsy's shook the least
bit. I wanted to say something: Ifif you should ever happen to run
up against Billy Burgemananywheredon't be afraid to do him a
kindness. Hehe wouldn't mind it from you.
Patsy leaned against the door and watched him go. There's another
good lad. I'd like to be finding him again, too, some day. She pressed
her hands over her eyes with a fierce little groan, as if she would
blot out the enveloping tragedy along with her surroundings. Faith!
what is the meaning of life, anyway? Until to-day it has seemed such a
simple, straight road; I could have drawn a fair map of it myself,
marking well the starting-point and tracing it reasonably true to the
finish. But to-nightto-night'tis all a tangle of lanes and byways.
There's no sign-post aheadand God alone knows where it's leading.
She went back to the spare chamber and took up her watching by the
bedside; and for the rest of that waning day she sat as motionless as
everything else in the room. The farm wife came and went softly, in
between her preparations for supper. When it was ready she tried her
best to urge Patsy down-stairs for a mouthful.
But the girl refused to stir. I couldn't. The wee lad might come
back while I was gone and find no one to reach him a hand or smile him
A little later, as the dark gathered, she begged two candles and
stood them on the stand beside the bed. Something in her movements or
the flickering light must have pierced his stupor, for Joseph moaned
slightly and in a moment opened his eyes.
Patsy leaned over him tenderly; could she only keep him content
until the mother came and guard the mysterious borderland against all
fear or pain, Laddy, laddy, she coaxed, do ye mind menow?
The veriest wisp of a smile answered her.
And were ye for playing Jack yourself, tramping off to find the
castle with a window in it for every day in the year? Her voice was
full of gentle, teasing laughter, the voice of a mother playing with a
very little child. I'm hoping ye didn't forget the promiseye didn't
forget to ask for the blessing before ye went, now?
No sound came; but the boy's lips framed a silent No. In another
moment his eyes were drooping sleepily.
* * * * *
Night had come, and with it the insistent chorus of tree-toad and
katydid, interspersed with the song of the vesper sparrow. From the
kitchen came the occasional rattle of dish or pan and the far-away
murmur of voices. Patsy strained her ears for some sound of car or team
upon the road; but there was none.
Again the lids fluttered and opened; this time Joseph smiled
triumphantly. I thoughtp'r'apsI hadn't found youafter allthere
wasso many waysyou might ha' went. He moistened his lips. At the
cross-roadsI wasn't quitesure which to be takin', but I tookthe
right one, I diddidn't I?
There was a ring of pride in the words, and Patsy moistened her
lips. Something clutched at her throat that seemed to force the words
back. Aye, she managed to say at last.
An' I'vefound you nowyou'll have topromise me not to go
backnot where they can get you. Si Perkins saidas how they'd soon
forgetif you just stayed away long enough. The boy looked at her
happily. Let'slet's keep onan' see what lies over the next hill.
To Patsy this was all an unintelligible wandering of mind; she must
humor it. All right, laddy, let's keep on. Maybe we'll be finding a
wood full of wild creatures, or an ocean full of ships.
P'r'aps. But I'd ratherhave it a bigbig city. I neversaw a
Aye, 'tis a city thenPatsy's tone carried convictionthe
grandest city ever built; and the towers will be touching the clouds,
and the streets will be white as sea-foam; and there will be a great
stretch of green meadow for fairs
What else but circuses! And at the entrance there will be a gate
with tall white columns
The sound Patsy had been listening for came at last through the open
windows: the pad-pad-pad of horses' hoofs coming fast.
Joseph looked past Patsy and saw for the first time the candles by
his bed. His eyes sparkled. They arewoppin' big columnsan'
at nightthey have lighted lamps on topall shinin'. Don't they?
Aye, to point the way in the dark.
It's darknow. The boy's voice lagged in a tired fashion.
Maybe we'd best hurrythen.
A door slammed below, and there was a rustle of tongues.
Who'll be 'tendin' the city gates? asked Joseph.
Who but the gatekeeper?
Muffled feet crept up the stairs.
Will he let us in?
He'll let ye in, laddy; I might be too much of a stranger.
But I could speak for you. II wouldn't likegoin' in alone in
Bless ye! ye'd not be alone. Patsy's voice rang vibrant with
gladness. Now, who do you think will be watching for ye, close to the
gate? Look yonder!
Joseph's eyes went back to the candles, splendid, tall columns they
were, with beacon lamps capping each. Who?
Dim faces looked at him through the flickering light; but there was
only one he saw, and it brought the merriest smile to his lips.
Why'course it's mothersure's shootin'!
* * * * *
Early the next morning Patsy waited on the braided rug outside the
spare chamber for Joseph's mother to come out.
I've been praying ye'd not hate me for the tale I told the little
lad that day, the tale that brought himyonder. And if it isn't
overlate, I'd like to be thanking ye for taking me in that night.
The woman looked at her searchingly through swollen lids. I cal'ate
there's no thanks due; your man paid for your keep; he sawed and split
nigh a cord o' wood that nightmust ha' taken him 'most till mornin'.
She paused an instant. Didn'theshe nodded her head toward the
closed door behind hernever tell you what brought him?
Naught but that he wanted to find me.
He believed in you, the woman said, simply, adding in a toneless
voice: I cal'ate I couldn't hate you. I never saw any one make death
sosweet likeas you done forhim.
Patsy spread her hands deprecatingly. Why shouldn't it be sweet
like? Faith! is it anything but a bit of the very road we've been
traveling since we were born, the bit that lies over the hill and out
of sight? She took the woman's work-worn hands in hers. 'Tis
terrible, losing a little lad; but 'tis more terrible never having one.
God and Mary be with ye!
When Patsy left the house a few minutes later Joseph's pilgrim staff
was in her hands, and she stopped on the threshold an instant to ask
the way of Joseph's father.
The good man was dazed with his grief and he directed Patsy in terms
of his own home-going: Keep on, and take the first turn to your
So Patsy kept on instead of returning to the cross-roads; and chance
scored another point in his comedy and continued chuckling.
* * * * *
Meanwhile Joseph's father went back to the spare chamber.
'S she gone? inquired Joseph's mother.
You know, the boy believed in her.
Yep, I know.
Well, I cal'ate we've got to, too.
Ye'll never say a word, thenabout seein' her; nuthin' to give the
sheriff a hint where she might be?
Why, mother! The man laid a hand on her shoulder, looking down at
her with accusing eyes. Hain't you known me long enough to know I
couldn't tell on any one who'd been good to He broke off with a
cough. And what's more, do you think any one who could take our little
boy's hand and lead him, as you might say, straight to heavenwould be
a thief? No, siree!
* * * * *
It was a sober, thoughtful Patsy that followed the road, the pilgrim
staff gripped tightly in her hand. She clung to it as the one tangible
thing left to her out of all the happenings and memories of her quest.
The tinker had disappeared as completely as if the earth had swallowed
him, leaving behind no reason for his going, no hope of his coming
again; Billy Burgeman was still but a flimsy promise; and Joseph had
outstripped them both, passing beyond her farthest vision. Small
wonder, then, that the road was lonely and haunted for Patsy, and that
she plodded along shorn of all buoyancy.
Her imagination began playing tricks with her. Twice it seemed as if
she could feel a little lad's hand, warm and eager, curled under hers
about the staff; another time she found herself gazing through
half-shut eyes at a strange lada lad of twelvewho walked ahead for
a space, carrying two great white roses; and once she glanced up
quickly and saw the tinker coming toward her, head thrown back and
laughing. Her wits had barely time to check her answering laugh and
hands outstretching, when he faded into empty winding road.
The morning was uneventful. Patsy stopped but onceto trundle a
perambulator laden with washing and twins for its small conductor, a
mite of a girl who looked almost too frail to breast the weight of a
Even Patsy puffed under the strain of the burden. How do you do
it? she gasped.
Well, I started when them babies was tiny and the washin' was
small; an' they both growed so gradual I didn't noticemuch. An' ma
don't make me hurry none.
How many children are there?
Nine. Last's just come. Pa says he didn't look on him as no
blessin', but ma says the Lord must providean' if it's babies, then
it's babies. She stopped and clasped her hands after the fashion of an
ancient grandmother tottering in the nineties: Land o' goodness, I do
think an empty cradle's an awful dismal thing to have round. Don't
Patsy agreed, and a moment later unloaded the twins and the washing
for the child at her doorstep.
Soon after this she caught her first glimpse of the town she was
making. If luck will only turn stage-manager, she thought, and put
Billy Burgeman in the center of the scenehandy, why, I'll promise not
to murder my lines or play under.
It was not luck, however, but chance, still pulling the wires; and
accordingly he managed Patsy's entrance as he wished.
The town had one main street, like Lebanon, and in front of the
post-office in a two-seated car sat a familiar figure. There was the
Balmacaan coat and the round plush hat; and to Patsy, impulsive and
heart-strong, it sufficed. She ran nearly the length of the street in
her eagerness to reach him.
XI. AND CHANCE STAGES MELODRAMA
INSTEAD OF COMEDY
A brave day to ye! A little bit of everything that made Patsy was
wrapped in the smile she gave the man in the Balmacaan coat standing by
the wheel-guard of the car before the town post-office, a hand on the
front seat. Maybe ye're not knowing it, but it's a rare good day for
us both. If you'll only take me for a spin in your car I'll tell you
what brings meand who I amif you haven't that guessed already.
Plainly the occupant of the coat and the car was too much taken by
surprise to guess. He simply stared; and by that stare conveyed a
heart-sinking impression to Patsy. She looked at the puffed eyes and
the grim, unyielding line of the mouth, and she wanted to run. It took
all the O'Connell stubbornness, coupled with the things Gregory Jessup
had told her about his friend, to keep her feet firm to the sidewalk
and her resolution.
Maybe, she thought, he's just taken on the look of a rascal
because he thinks the world has written him down one. That's often the
way with a man; and often it takes but a bit of kindness to change it.
If I could make him smilenow
Her next remark accomplished this, but it did not mend matters a
whit. Patsy's heart turned over disconsolately; and she was
safety-locking her wits to keep them from scattering when she made her
I'm not staying long, and I want to know you; there's something I
have to be saying before I go on my way. 'Twould be easiest if you'd
take me for a ride in your car; we could talk quieter there.
She tried to finish with a reasonably cheerful look, but it was a
tragic failure. The man was looking past her to the post-office beyond,
and the things Patsy had seemed to feel in his face suddenly rose to
the surface and revealed themselves with an instant's intensity. Patsy
followed the look over her shoulder and shrank away perceptibly.
In the doorway of the office stood another man, younger and
morepronounced. It could mean but one thing: Billy Burgeman had lost
his self-respect along with Marjorie Schuyler and had fallen in with
There were natures that crumbled and went to pieces under distrust
and failurenatures that allowed themselves to be blown by passion and
self-pity until they burned down into charred heaps of humanity. She
had met a few of them in her life; butthank God!there were only a
She found herself praying that she might not have come too late.
Just what she would do or say she could not tell; but she must make him
understand that he was not the arbiter of his own life, that in spite
of what he had found, there were love and trust and disinterested
kindness in the world, lots of it. Money might be a curse, but it was a
curse that a man could raise for himself; and a little lad who could
shovel snow for half a day to earn two white roses for a dead friend
was too fine to be lost out of life's credit-sheet.
She did not wait for any invitation; silently, with a white face,
she climbed into the car and sat with hands folded about the pilgrim
staff. It was as if she had taken him for granted and was waiting for
his compliance to her will. And he understood. He moved the starter,
and, as the motor began its chugging, he called out to the man in the
Better not wait for me. I seem to have a date witha lady. There
was an unpleasant intonation on the last word.
Please take a quiet roadwhere there will not be much passing,
She did not speak again until the town lay far behind and they were
well on that quiet road. Then she turned partly toward him, her hands
still clasped, and when she spoke it was still in the best of the
king's Englishshe had neither feeling nor desire for the intimacy of
her own tongue.
I know it must seem a bit odd to have me, a stranger, come to you
this way. But when a man's family and betrothed fail himwhy, some one
mustmake it up
He turned fiercely. How did you know that?
IsheNever mind; I know, that's all. And I came, thinking maybe
you'd be glad
Of another? he laughed coarsely, looking her over with an
appraising scrutiny. Well, a fellow might have a worsesubstitute.
Patsy crimsoned. It seemed incredible that the man she had listened
to that day in Marjorie Schuyler's den, who had then gripped her
sympathies and thereby pulled her after him in spite of past illness
and all common sense, should be the man speaking now. And yetwhat was
it Gregory Jessup had said about him? Had he not implied that old King
Midas had long ago warped his son's trust in women until he had come to
look upon them all as modern Circes? And gradually shame for herself
changed into pity for him. What a shabby performance life must seem to
such as he!
She had an irresistible desire to take him with her behind the
scenes and show him what it really was; to point out how with a change
of line here, a new cue there, and a different drop behind; with a
choice of fellow-players, and better lights, and the right spirit back
of it allwhat a good thing he could make of his particular part. But
would he seecould she make him understand? It was worth trying.
You are every bit wrong, she said, evenly. Look at me. Do I look
like an adventuress? And haven't you ever had anybody kind to you
simply because they had a preference for kindness?
The two looked at each other steadily while the machine crawled at
minimum speed down the deserted road. Her eyes never flinched under the
blighting weight of his, although her heart seemed to stop a hundred
times and the soul of her shrivel into nothing.
Well, she heard herself saying at last, don't you think you can
believe in me?
The man laughed again, coarsely. Believe in you? That's precisely
what I'm doing this minutebelieving in your cleverness and a deuced
pretty way with you. Now don't get mad, my dear. You are all daughters
of Eve, and your intentions are very innocentof course.
Pity and sympathy left Patsy like starved pensioners. The eyes
looking into his blazed with righteous anger and a hating distrust;
they carried to him a stronger, more direct message than words could
have done. His answer was to double the speed of the car.
Stop the car! she demanded.
Oh, ho! we're getting scared, are we? Repenting of our haste? The
grim line of his mouth became more sinister. No man relishes a woman's
contempt, and he generally makes her pay when he can. Now I came for
pleasure, and I'm going to get it. An arm shot around Patsy and held
her tight; the man was strong enough to keep her where he wished her
and steer the car down a straight, empty road. Remember, I can prove
you asked me to take youand it was your choicethis nice, quiet
She sat so still, so relaxed under his grip that unconsciously he
relaxed too; she could feel the gradual loosening of joint and muscle.
Why didn't you scream? he sneered at length.
I'm keeping my breathtill there's need of it.
Silence followed. The car raced on down the persistently empty road;
the few houses they passed might have been tenantless for any signs of
human life about them. In the far distance Patsy could see a
suspension-bridge, and she wished and wished it might be closed for
repairssomething, anything to bring to an end this hideous,
nightmarish ride. She groaned inwardly at the thought of it all.
ShePatricia O'Connellwho would have starved rather than play cheap,
sordid melodramahad been tricked by chance into becoming an actual,
living part of one. She wondered a little why she felt no fearshe
certainly had nothing but distrust and loathing for the man beside
herand these are breeders of fear. Perhaps her anger had crowded out
all other possible emotion; perhapsback of everythingshe still
hoped for the ultimate spark of decency and good in him.
Her silence and apparent apathy puzzled the man. Well, what's in
your mind? he snapped.
Two things: I was thinking what a pity it was you let your father
throw so much filth in your eyes, that you grew up to see everything
about you smirched and ugly; and I was wondering how you ever came to
have a friend like Gregory Jessup and a fancy for white roses.
What in thunder are you talking
But he never finished. The scream he had looked for came when he had
given up expecting it. Patsy had wrenched herself free from his hold
and was leaning over the wind-shield, beckoning frantically to a figure
mounted on one of the girders of the bridge. It was a grotesque,
vagabond figure in rags, a battered cap on the back of its head.
Good God! muttered the man in the car, stiffening.
Luckily for the tinker the car was running again at a moderate
speed; the man had slowed up when he saw the rough planking over the
bridge, and his hand had not time enough to reach the lever when the
tinker was upon him. The car came to an abrupt stop.
Patsy sank back on the seat, white and trembling, as she watched the
instant's grappling of the two, followed by a lurching tumble over the
side of the car to the planking. The fall knocked them apart, and for
the space of a few quick breaths they half rose and faced each
otherthe one almost crazed with fury, the other steady, calm, but
Before Patsy could move they were upon each other againrolling
about in the dust, clutching at each other's throatnow half under the
car, now almost through the girders of the bridge, with Patsy's voice
crying a warning. Again they were on their feet, grappling and hitting
blindly; then down in the dust, rolling and clutching.
It was plain melodrama of the most banal form; and the most
convincing part of it all was the evident personal enmity that directed
each blow. Somehow it was borne in upon Patsy that her share in the
quarrel was an infinitesimal part; it was the old, old scene in the
fourth act: the hero paying up the villain for all past scores.
Like the scene in the fourth act, it came to an end at last. The
time came when no answering blow met the tinker's, when the hand that
gripped his throat relaxed and the body back of it went down under
himbreathless and inert. Patsy climbed out of the car to make room
for the stowing away of its owner. He was conscious, but past
articulate speech and thoroughly beaten; and the tinker kindly turned
the car about for him and started him slowly off, so as to rid the road
of him, as Patsy said. It looked possible, with a careful harboring of
strength and persistence, for him to reach eventually the
starting-point and his friend of the post-office. As his trail of dust
lengthened between them Patsy gave a sigh of relieved content and
turned to the tinker.
Faith, ye are a sight for a sore heart. Her hand slid into his
outstretched one. I'll make a bargain with ye: if ye'll forgive and
forget the unfair things I said to ye that night I'll not stay hurt
over your leaving without notice the next morning.
It's a bargain, but he winced as he said it. It seems as if our
meetings were dependent on a certain amount ofof physical
disablement. He smiled reassuringly. I don't really mind in the
least. I'd stand for knockout blows down miles of road, if they would
bring you backevery time.
Don't joke! Patsy covered her face. Ifif ye only knewwhat it
means to have ye standing there this minute! She drew in her breath
quickly; it sounded dangerously like a sob. If ye only knew what ye
have saved me fromand what I am owing ye Her hands fell, and she
looked at him with a sudden shy concern. Poor lad! Here ye area fit
subject for a hospital, and I'm wasting time talking instead of trying
to mend ye up. Do ye think there might be water hereabouts where we
could wash off some of thatgrease paint?
But the tinker was contemplating his right foot; he was standing on
the other. Don't bother about those scratches; they go rather well
with the clothes, don't you think? It's this ankle that's bothering me;
I must have turned it when I jumped.
Can't ye walk on it? Ye can lean on thisshe passed him the
pilgrim staffand we can go slowly. Bad luck to the man! If I had
known ye were hurt I'd have made ye leave him in the road and we'd have
driven his machine back to Arden for him. She looked longingly after
the trail of dust.
Your ethics are questionable, but your geography is worse. Arden
isn't back there.
What do ye mean? Why, I saw Arden, back yonder, with my own
eyesnot an hour ago.
No, you didn't. You saw Dansville; Arden is over there, and the
tinker's hand pointed over his shoulder at right angles to the road.
Holy Saint Branden! gasped Patsy. Maybe ye'll have the boldness,
then, to tell me I'm still seven miles from it?
You are. But this time he did not laugha smile was the utmost he
could manage with the pain in his ankle.
Patsy looked as if she might have laughed or cried with equal ease.
Seven milesseven miles! Tramp the road for four days and be just as
near the end as I was at the start An expression of enlightenment
shot into her face. Faith, I must have been going in a circle, then.
The tinker nodded an affirmative.
And who in the name of reason was the man in the car?
That's what I'd like to know; the unmitigated nerve of him! he
finished to himself. His chin set itself squarely; his face had grown
as white as Patsy's had been and his eyes became doggedly determined.
If it isn't a piece of impertinence, I'd like to ask how you happened
to be with him, that way?
Patsy flushed. I'm thinking ye've earned the right to an answer. I
took him for the lad I was looking for. I thought the place was Arden,
andand the clothes were the same.
The clothes! the tinker repeated it in the same bewildered way
that had been his when Patsy first found him; then he turned and
grasped Patsy's shoulders with a sudden, inexplicable intensity.
What's the name of the ladthe lad you're after?
I'll tell you, said Patsy, slowly, if you'll tell me what you did
with my brown clothes that morning before you left.
And the answer to both questions was a blank, baffling stare.
XII. A CHANGE OF NATIONALITY
The railroad ran under the suspension-bridge. Patsy could see the
station not an eighth of a mile down the track, and she made for it as
being the nearest possible point where water might be procured. The
station-master gave her a tin can and filled it for her; and ten
minutes later she set about scrubbing the tinker free of all the
telltale make-up of melodrama. It was accomplishedafter a fashion,
and with persistent rebelling on the tinker's part and scolding on
Patsy's. And, finally, to prove his own supreme indifference to
physical disablement, he tore the can from her administering hands,
threw it over the bridge, and started down the road at his old,
Is it after more lady's-slippers ye're dandering? called Patsy.
More likely it's after a pair of those wingèd shoes of Perseus;
I'll need them. But his stride soon broke to a walk and then to a
lagging limp. It's no use, he said at last; I might keep on for
another half-mile, a mile at the most; but that's about all I'd be good
for. You'll have to go on to Arden alone, and you can't miss it this
Patsy stopped abruptly. Why don't ye curse me for the trouble I
have brought? She considered both hands carefully for a minute, as if
she expected to find in them the solution to the difficulty, then she
looked up and away toward the rising woodland that marked Arden.
Do ye know, she said, wistfully, I took the road, thinking I
could mend trouble for that other lad; and instead it's trouble I've
been making for every oneye, Joseph, and I don't know how many more.
And instead of doling kindnesswhy, I'm begging it. Now what's the
meaning of it all? What keeps me failing?
'There's a divinity that shapes' began the tinker.
But Patsy cut him short. Ye do know Willie Shakespeare!
He smiled, guiltily. I'm afraid I doknown him a good many years.
He's grand company; best I know, barring tinkers. She turned
impulsively and, standing on tiptoe, her fingers reached to the top of
his shoulders. See here, lad, ye can just give over thinking I'll go
on alone. If I'm cast for melodrama, sure I'll play it according to the
best rules; the villain has fled, the hero is hurt, and if I went now
I'd be hissed by the gallery. I've got ye into trouble and I'll not
leave ye till I see ye out of itsomeway. Oh, there's lots of ways;
I'm thinking them fast. Like as not a passing team or car would carry
ye to Arden; or we might beg the loan of a horse for a bit from some
kind-hearted farmer, and I could drive ye over and bring the horse
back; or we'll ask a corner for ye at a farm-house till ye are fit to
We are in the wrong part of the country for any of those things to
happen. Look about! Don't you see what a very different road it is from
the one we took in the beginning?
Patsy looked and saw. So engrossed had she been in the incidents of
the last hour or more that she had not observed the changing country.
Here were no longer pastures, tilled fields, houses with neighboring
barn-yards, and unclaimed woodland; no longer was the road fringed with
stone walls or stump fencing. Well-rolled golf-links stretched away on
either hand as far as they could see; and, beyond, through the trees,
showed roofs of red tile and stained shingle; and trimmed hedges
'Tis the rich man's country, commented Patsy.
It is, and I'd crawl into a hole and starve before I'd take charity
from one of them.
Sure and ye would. When a body's poor 'tis only the poor like
himself he'd be asking help of. Don't I know! What's yonder house? She
broke off with a jerk and pointed ahead to a small building, sitting
well back from the road, partly hidden in the surrounding clumps of
It's a stable; house burned down last year and it hasn't been used
by any one since.
And I'll wager it's as snug as a pocket insidewith fresh hay or
straw, plenty to make a lad comfortable. Isn't that grand good luck for
The tinker found it hard to echo Patsy's enthusiasm, but he did his
best. Of course; and it's just the place to leave a lad behind in when
a lass has seven miles to tramp before she gets to the end of her
Is that so? Patsy's tone sounded suspiciously sarcastic. Well,
talking's not walking; supposing ye take the staff in one hand and lean
your other on me, and we'll see can we make it before this time
They made it in another hour, unobserved by the few straggling
players on the links.
The stable proved all Patsy had anticipated. She watched the tinker
sink, exhausted, on the bedded hay, while she pulled down a forgotten
horse-blanket from a near-by peg to throw over him; then she turned in
a business-like manner back to the door.
Are you going to Arden? came the faint voice of the tinker after
I mightand then againI mightn't. Was there any word ye might
want me to fetch ahead for ye?
No; onlyperhapswould you think a chap too everlastingly
impertinent to ask you to wait there for himuntil he caught up with
I mightand then againI mightn't. At the door she stopped, and
for the second time considered her hands speculatively. It wouldn't
inconvenience your feelings any to take charity from me, would it,
seeing I'm as poor as yourself and have dragged ye into this common,
tuppenny brawl by my own foolishness?
You didn't drag me in; I had one foot in already.
I thought so, Patsy nodded, approvingly; her conviction had been
correct, then. And the charity?
Yes, I'd take it from you. The tinker rolled over with a little
moan composed of physical pain and mental discomfort. But in another
moment he was sitting upright, shaking a mandatory fist at Patsy as she
disappeared through the door. Rememberno help from the quality! I
hate them as much as you do, and I won't have them coming around with
their inquisitive, patronizing, supercilious offers of assistance to
abeggar. I tell you I want to be left alone! If you bring any one
back with you I'll burn the stable down about me. Remember!
Aye, she called back; I'll be remembering.
* * * * *
She reached the road again; and for the manyeth time since she left
the women's free ward of the City Hospital she marshaled all the
O'Connell wits. But even the best of wits require opportunity, and to
Patsy the immediate outlook seemed barren of such.
There's naught to do but keep going till something turns up, she
said to herself; and she followed this Micawber advice to the letter.
She came to the end of the grounds which had belonged to the burned
house and the deserted stable; she passed on, between a stretch of thin
woodland and a grove of giant pines; and there she came upon a
cross-road. She looked to the rightit was empty. She looked to the
leftand behold there was Opportunity, large, florid, and agitated,
coming directly toward her from one of the tile-roofed houses, and
puffing audibly under the combined weight of herself and her bag.
Ze depôthow long ees eet? she demanded, when she caught sight of
The accent was unmistakably French, and Patsy obligingly answered
her in her mother-tongue. I cannot say exactly; about threefour
Opportunity dropped her bag and embraced her. Oh! she burst out,
volubly. Think of Zoë Marat finding a countrywoman in this wild land.
MoiI can no longer stand it; and when madame's temper goes
pouffeI say, it is enough; let madame fast or cook for her
guests, as she prefer. I go!
Eh, bien! agreed the outer Patsy, while her subjective
consciousness addressed her objective self in plain Donegal: Faith!
this is the maddest luckthe maddest, merriest luck! If yonder Quality
House has lost one cook, 'twill be needing another; and 'tis a poor
cook entirely that doesn't hold the keys of her own pantry. Food from
Quality House needn't be choking the maddest tinker, if it's paid for
in honest work.
Having been embraced by Opportunity, Patsy saw no reason for
wasting time in futile sympathy that might better be spent in prompt
execution. She despatched the woman to the station with the briefest of
directions and herself made straight for Quality House.
She was smiling over her appearance and the incongruities of the
situation as she rang the bell at the front door and asked for Madame
in her best parisien.
The maid, properly impressed, carried the message at once; and
curiosity brought madame in surprising haste to the hall, where she
looked Patsy over with frank amazement.
Madame speak French? Ah, I thought so. Madame desires a cook
The abruptness of this announcement turned madame giddy. How did
you know? Mine did not leave half an hour ago; there isn't another
French cook within five miles; it is unbelievable.
It is Providence. Patsy cast her eyes devoutly heavenward.
You have references
References! Patsy shrugged her shoulders contemptuously. What
would madame do with references? She cannot eat them; she cannot feed
them to her guests. I can cook. Is that not sufficient?
Butyou do not thinkIt is impossible that I ever employ a
servant without references. And youyou look like anything in the
world but a French cook.
Madame is not so foolish as to find fault with the ways of
Providence, or judge one by one's clothes? Who knowsat this moment it
may be à la mode in Paris for cooks to wear sailor blouses.
Besides, madame is mistaken; I am not a servant. I am an artista
You can cook, truly?
But yes, madame!
d'hôtelEspagnoleBéarnaise Patsy completed the list with an
ecstatic kiss blown into the air.
Madame sighed and spoke in English: It is unbelievableabsurd. I
shouldn't trust my own eyes or palate if I sat down to-night to the
most remarkable dinner in the world; but one must feed one's guests.
She looked Patsy over again. Your trunk?
Trunk? Is it toilettes or sauces madame wishes me to make for her
guests? Ma foi! Trunksreferencesone is as unimportant as the
other. Is it not enough for the present if I cook for madame?
Afterward She ended with the all-expressive shrug.
Evidently madame conceded the point, for without further comment she
led the way to the kitchen and presented the bill of fare for dinner.
'For twelve,' read Patsy. And to-morrow is Sunday. Ah, Providence
is good to madame, mais-oui?
But madame's thoughts were on more practical matters. Your wages?
One hundred francs a week, and the kitchen to myself. I, too, have
a temper, madame. Patsy gave a quick toss to her head, while her eyes
* * * * *
That night the week-end guests at Quality House sat over their
coffee, volubly commenting on the rare excellence of their dinner and
the good fortune of their hostess in her possession of such a cook.
Madame kept her own counsel and blessed Providence; but she did not
allow that good fortune to escape with her better judgmentor anything
else. She ordered the butler, before retiring, to count the silver and
lock it in her dressing-room; this was to be done every nightas long
as the new cook remained.
And the new cook? Her work despatched, and her kitchen to herself,
she was free to get dinner for one more of madame's guests.
Faith! he'd die of a black fit if he ever knew he was a guest of
Quality Houseand she'd die of another if she found out whom she was
entertaining. But, glory be to Peter! what neither of them knows won't
hurt them. And Patsy, unobserved, opened the back door and retraced
the road to the deserted stable with a full basket and a glad heart.
She found the tinker under some trees at the back, smoking a
disreputable cuddy pipe with a worse accompaniment of tobacco. When he
saw her he removed it apologetically.
It smells horrible, I know. I found it, forgotten, on a ledge of
the stable, but it keeps a chap from remembering that he is hungry.
Poor lad! Patsy knelt on the ground beside him and opened her
basket. Put your nose into that, just. 'Tis a nine-course dinner and
every bit of the best. Faith! 'tis lucky I was found on a Brittany
rose-bush instead of one in Heidelberg, Birmingham, or Philadelphia;
and if ye can't be born with gold in your mouth the next best thing is
Meaning? queried the tinker.
Meaningthat there's many a poor soul who goes hungry through life
because she is wanting the knowledge of how to mix what's already under
The tinker looked suspiciously from the contents of the basket to
Patsy, kneeling beside it, and he dropped into a shameless mimicry of
her brogue. Aye, but how did she come bywhat's under her nose?
Here's a dinner for a king's son.
Well, I'll be letting ye play the king's son instead of the fool
to-night, just, if ye'll give over asking any more questions and eat.
Buthe sniffed the plate she had handed him with added
suspicionroast duck and sherry sauce! Honest, nowhave ye been
Nonor stealingnor, by the same token, have I murdered any one
to get the dinner from him. There was fine sarcasm in her voice as she
returned the tinker's searching look.
Then where did it come from? I'll not eat a mouthful until I get an
honest answer. The tinker put the plate down beside him and folded his
Patsy snorted with exasperation. Was I ever saying ye could play
the king's son? Faith! ye'll never play anything but the foolfirst
and last. Her voice suddenly took on a more coaxing tone; she was
thinking of that good dinner growing coldspoiled by the man's
ridiculous curiosity. I'll tell ye whatif ye'll agree to begin
eating, I'll agree to begin telling ye about itand we'll both agree
not to stop till we get to the end. But Holy Saint Martin! who ever
heard of a man before letting his conscience in ahead of his hunger!
The bargain was made; and while the tinker devoured one plateful
after another with a ravenous haste that almost discredited his
previous restraint, Patsy spun a fanciful tale of having found a
cluricaun under a quicken-tree. With great elaboration and seeming
regard for the truth, she explained his magical qualities, and howif
you were clever enough to possess yourself of his capyou could get
almost anything from him.
I held his cap firmly with the one hand and him by the scruff of
the neck with the other; and says I to him, 'Little man, ye'll not be
getting this back till ye've fetched me a dinner fit for a tinker.'
'Well, and good,' says he, 'but ye can't find that this side of the
King's Hotel, Dublin; and that will take time.' 'Take the time,' says
I, 'but get the dinner.' And from that minute till the present I've
been waiting under that quicken-tree for him to make the trip there and
Patsy finished, and the two of them smiled at each other with rare
good humor out under the June stars. Only the tinker's smile was
Soye are not believing me Patsy shammed a solemn, grieved
look. WellI'll forgive ye this time if ye'll agree that the dinner
was good, for I'd hate like the devil to be giving the wee man back his
cap for anything but the best.
With laggard grace the tinker stretched his hands over the now empty
basket and gripped Patsy's. Lass, lasswhat are you thinking of me?
Faith! my manners are more ragged than my clothesand I'm not fit to
be atinker. The dinner was the best I ever ate, andbless ye and the
Patsy cooked for three days at Quality House, that the tinker might
feast night and morning to his heart's content while his ankle slowly
mended. But he still persisted questioning concerning his foodwhere
and how Patsy had come by it; she still maintained as persistent a
I've come by it honestly, and 'tis no charity fare, was the most
she would say, adding by way of flavor: For a sorry tinker ye are the
proudest I ever saw. Did ye ever know another, now, who wanted a
written certificate of moral character along with every morsel he ate?
According to wage agreement she had the kitchen to herself; no one
entered except on matters of necessity; no one lingered after her work
was despatched. Madame came twice daily to confer with Patsy on
intricacies of gestation, while she beamed upon her as a probationed
soul might look upon the keeper of the keys of Paradise. But the days
held more for Patsy than sauces and entrées and pastries; they held
gossip as well. Soupçons were served up on loosened tongues, borne in
through open window and swinging doorstraight from the dining-room
and my lady's chamber. Most of it passed her ears, unheeded; it was but
a droning accompaniment to her measuring, mixing, rolling, and
bakinguntil news came at last that concerned herselfgossip of the
Burgemans, father and son.
The butler and the parlor maid were cleaning the silver in the
pantryand the slide was raised. As transmitters of gossip they were
more than usually concerned, for had not the butler at one time served
in the house of Burgeman, and the maid dusted next door? Therefore
every item of news was well ripened before it dropped from either
tongue, and Patsy gathered them in with eager ears.
The master of Quality House happened to be a director of that bank
on which the Burgeman check of ten thousand had been drawn. It had been
the largest check drawn to cash presented at the bank; and the teller
had confessed to the directors that he would never have paid over the
money to any one except the old man's son. In fact, he had been so much
concerned over it afterward that he had called up the Burgeman office,
and had been much relieved to have the assurance of the secretary that
the check was certified and perfectly correct. Not a second thought
would have been given to the matter had not the secretary's resignation
been made public the next daythe day Billy Burgeman disappeared.
Patsy's ears fairly bristled with interest. That's news, if it is
gossip. Where is the secretary now? And which of them has the ten
The director had touched on the subject of the check the next day
when business had demanded his presence at the Burgeman home. The
result had been distinctly baffling. Not that the director could put
his finger on any one suspicious point in the behavior of Burgeman,
senior; but it left him with the distinct impression that the father
was shielding the son.
Aye, that's what Billy said his father would doshield him out of
pride. Patsy dusted the flour from her arms and stood motionless,
Burgeman, senior, had offered only one remark to the director, given
cynically with a nervous jerking of the shoulders and twitching of the
hands: He was needing pocket-money, a small sum to keep him in
shoe-laces and collar-buttons, I dare say. That's the way rich men's
sons keep their fathers' incomes from getting too cumbersome.
Burgeman, senior, had been ill thenconfined to his room; but the
next day his condition had become alarming. He was now dying at his
home in Arden and his son could not be found. These last two statements
were not merely gossip, but facts.
Patsy listened impatiently to the parlor maid arguing the matter of
Billy's guilt with the butler. Their work was finished, and they were
passing through the kitchen on their way to the servants' hall.
Of course he took itthe maid's tone was positivethose rich
men's sons always are a bad lot.
'E didn't take it, then. 'Is father's playin' some mean game on
'imthat's what. Hi worked five months hin that 'ouse an' Hi'd as lief
work for the devil! And the butler pounded his fist for emphasis.
It took all Patsy's self-control to refrain from launching into the
argument herself, and that in the Irish tongue. She saved herself,
however, by resorting to that temper of which she had boasted, and
hurled at the two a torrent of words which sounded to them like the
most horrible pagan blasphemy, and from which they fled in genuine
horror. In reality it was the names of all the places in France that
Patsy could recall with rapidity.
When the kitchen was empty once more Patsy systematically gathered
together all that she knew and all that she had heard of Billy
Burgeman, and weighed it against the bare possible chance she might
have of helping him should she continue her quest. And in the end she
made her decision unwaveringly.
Troth! a conscience is a poor bit of property entirely, she
sighed, as she stood the pâté-shells on the ledge of the range to dry.
It drives ye after a man ye don't care a ha'penny about, and it drives
ye from the one that ye do. Bad luck to it!
* * * * *
That night Patsy sat under the trees with the tinker while he ate
his supper. A half-grown moon lighted the feast for them, for Patsy
took an occasional mouthful at the tinker's insistence that dining
alone was a miserably unsociable affair.
To watch ye eat that pâté de fois gras a body would think ye had
been reared on them. Honest, now, have ye ever tasted one before in
Thenye have sat at rich men's tables?
Or perhaps I have begged at rich men's doors. Maybe that is how I
came to have a distaste for theircharity.
Who are ye? Ye know I'd give the full of my empty pockets to know
who ye are, and what started ye tramping the roadin rags.
The tinker considered a moment. Perhaps I took the road because I
believed it led to the only place I cared to find. Perhaps I lost the
way to it, as you lost yours to Arden, and in the losing I
foundsomething else. Perhapsperhapsoh, perhaps a hundred things;
but I'll make another bargain with you. I'll tell you all about it when
we reach Arden, if you'll tell me the name of the lad you came to
I'll do more than thatI'll bring ye together and let ye help mend
him, and she stretched forth her hand to clinch the bargain.
They sat in silence under the spattering of moonlight that sifted
down through the branches; for the moment the tinker had forgotten his
Well? queried Patsy at last. A ha'penny for them.
I'm thinking the same old thoughts I've thought a hundred times
alreadysince that first day: What makes you so different from
everybody else? What ever sent you out into the world with your gospel
of kindnesson your lips and in your hands?
Would ye really like to know? Patsy's fingers stole through the
grass about them. Faith! the world's not so soft and green as this
under every one's feet. Ye see 'twas by a thorn I was found hanging to
that Killarney rose-bush in Brittany, and I've always remembered the
feeling of it.
I always suspected that the people who fell heir to stinging
memories generally went through life hugging their own troubles, and
letting the rest of the world hug theirs.
I don't believe it! Patsy shook her head fiercely. What's the use
of all the pain and sorrow and trouble scattered about everywhere if it
can't put a cure for others into the hands of those who have first
tasted it? And what better cure can ye find than kindness; isn't it the
best thing in the world?
Is it? Can it curegold?
And why not? If every man had more kindness than he had gold, would
neighbor ever have to fear neighbor or childther go hungry for love?
The tinker did not answer, and Patsy went on with a deepening
intensity: I'll tell ye a talea foolish tale that keeps repeating
itself over and over in my memory like the tick-tick-tick of a clock.
Ye know that the Jesuit Fathers saygive them the care of a child till
he's ten and nothing afterward matters. Well, it's true; a child can
feel all the sweetness or bitterness, hunger or plenty, that life holds
before he is that age even.
Patsy stopped. A veery was singing in the woods close by, and she
listened for a moment. Hearken to that bird, now. A good-for-naught
lad may have stolen his nest, or a cat filched his young, or his sons
and daughters flown away and left him; but he'll sing, for all that.
'Tis a pity the rest of us can't do as well.
Yes, agreed the tinker, but the story
Aye, the story. It begins with a wee white cottage in Brittany,
fronted by roses and backed by great cliffs and the open sea. Patsy
clasped her hands about her knees, while her eyes left the shadow of
the trees and traveled to the open where the moonlight spread silvery
clear and unbroken. And the tinker, watching, knew that her eyes were
seeing the things of which she was telling. A wee white cottagethe
roses and the cliffs, repeated Patsy, and a great, grim, silent
figure of a man sitting there idle all day, watching a little lass at
her play. Just the man and the child. And the trouble in his mind that
had kept the man silent and idle was an old, old troubleold as the
peopled world itself.
Long before, he had married a woman who cared for two thingslove
and gold; and he had but the one to give her. She had been a great
actress, a favorite at the Comédie Française; but she left her work and
all the applause and adulation for him, an expatriated Irishman with
naught but a great love, because she thought she cared for love more.
They had been wonderfully happy at first; he wrote beautiful verses
about herand his beloved motherland, and she said them for him in
that wonderful singing voice of hers that had made her the idol of half
of France. And she had made a game of their poverty in the wee white
cottage with the rosesuntil her child was born and poverty could no
longer be played at. Then work became drudgery, and love naught. The
woman went back to her theaterand another man, a man who had gold
a-plenty. And the child grew up playing alone beside the silent, grim
Then one day the child played with no one by to watch her; the man
had walked over the cliff and forgot ever to come back. Aye, and the
child played on till dark came and she fell asleepthere on the
door-sill, under the roses. 'Twas a neighbor, passing, that found her,
and carried her home to put to bed with her own children. After that
the child was taken away to a convent, and the rich children called her
'la pauvre petite,' shared their saints'-days' gifts with her,
and bought her candles that she might make a novena to bring her
father back again. But 'twas her mother it brought instead.
Patsy stopped again to listen to the veery; he was not singing alone
now, and she smiled wistfully. See! he's found a friend, a comrade to
sing with him. That's grand! Then she went back to the story:
The child was taken from the convent in the night and by
somber-clad servants who seemed in a great hurry. She was brought a
long way to a château, one of the oldest and most beautiful in the
south of France; and a small, shrivel-faced man in royal clothes met
her at the door and carried her up great marble stairs to a chamber
lighted by two tall candles, just. They stopped on the threshold for a
breath, and the child saw that a woman was lying in the canopied beda
very, very beautiful woman. To the child she seemed some goddessor
'Here is the child,' said the man; and the woman answered: 'Alone,
Réné. Remember you promisedalone.'
After that the man left them togetherthe dying woman and her
child. Ah!how can I be telling you the way she fondled and caressed
her! How starved were the lips that touched the child's hair, cheeks,
and eyelids! And when her strength failed she drew the child into her
tired arms and whispered fragments of prayers, haunting memories,
pitiful regrets. Of all the things she said the child remembered but
one: 'Gold buys plenty for the body, but nothing for the
And that kept repeating itself over and over in the child's mind.
She remembered it all through the night after they had taken her away
from those lifeless arms and she lay awake alone in a terrifying, dark
room; she remembered it all through the long day when she sat beside
the gorgeous catafalque that held her mother, and watched the tall
candles in the dim chapel burn lower and lower and lower. And that was
why she refused to stay afterwardand be taken care of by the
shrivel-faced man in that oldest and most beautiful château. Instead
she slipped out early one morning, before any one was awake to see and
mark the way she went. It is unbelievable, sometimes, how children who
have the will to do it can lose themselves. And so this
childalonewent out into the world, empty-handed, seeking life.
But did she go empty-handed? asked the tinker.
Aye, but not empty-hearted, thank God!
And wherever the child went, she carried with her that hatred of
gold, mused the tinker.
Aye; why not? She had learned how pitifully little it was worth,
when all's said and done. 'Twas her father's name she heard last on her
mother's lips, and it was their child she prayed for with her dying
breath. Patsy sprang to her feet. Do ye seethe moon will be beating
me to bed, and 'twas a poor tale, after all. How is your foot?
Would ye be able to travel on it to-morrow?
The tinker shook his head. The day after, perhaps.
Well, keep on coaxing it. Good night. And she had picked up her
basket and was gone before the tinker could stumble to his feet.
* * * * *
When the tinker woke the next morning the basket stood just inside
the stable door, linked through the pilgrim's staff. On investigation
it proved to contain his breakfast and an envelope, and the envelope
contained a ten-dollar bill and a letter, which read:
DEAR LAD,I'll be well on the road when you get this; and
with a tongue in my head and luck at my heels, please God,
I'll reach Arden this time. You need not be afraid to use
the moneyor too proud, either. It was honestly earned and
the charity of no one; you can take it as a loan or a
giftwhichever you choose. Anyhow, it will bring you after
me fasterwhich was your own promise.
Yours in advance,
Surprise, disappointment, indignation, amusement, all battled for
the upper hand; but it was a very different emotion from any of these
which finally mastered the tinker. He smoothed the bill very tenderly
between his hands before he returned it to the envelope; but he did
something more than smooth the envelope.
And meanwhile Patsy tramped the road to Arden.
XIII. A MESSAGE AND A MAP
This time there was no mistaking the right road; it ran straight
past Quality House to Ardenunbroken but for graveled driveways
leading into private estates. Patsy traveled it at a snail's pace. Now
that Arden had become a definitely unavoidable goal, she was more loath
to reach it than she had been on any of the seven days since the
beginning of her quest. However the quest endedwhether she found
Billy Burgeman or not, or whether there was any need now of finding
himthis much she knew: for her the road ended at Arden. What lay
beyond she neither tried nor cared to prophesy. Was it not enough that
her days of vagabondage would be overalong with the company of
tinkers and such like? There might be an answer awaiting her to the
letter sent from Lebanon to George Travis; in that case she could in
all probability count on some dependable income for the rest of the
summer. Otherwisethere were her wits. The very thought of them wrung
a pitiful little groan from Patsy.
Faith! I've been overworking Dan's legacy long enough, I'm
thinking. Poor wee things! They're needing rest and nourishment for a
while, and she patted her forehead sympathetically.
Of one thing she was certainif her wits must still serve her, they
should do so within the confines of some respectable community; in
other words, she would settle down and work at something that would
provide her with bed and board until the fall bookings began. And, the
road and the tinker would become as a dream, fading with the summer
into a sweet, illusive memoryand a photograph. Patsy felt in the
pocket of her Norfolk for the latter with a sudden eagerness. It had
been forgotten since she had found the tinker himself; but, now that
the road was lengthening between them again, it brought her a
surprising amount of comfort.
There are three things I shall have to be asking himif he ever
fetches up in Arden, himself, mused Patsy as she loitered along. And,
what's more, this time I'll be getting an answer to every one of them
or I'm no relation of Dan's. First, I'll know the fate of the brown
dress; he hadn't a rag of it about himthat's certain. Next, there's
that breakfast with the lady's-slippers. How did he come by it? And,
last of all, how ever did this picture come on the mantel-shelf of a
closed cottage where he knew the way of breaking in and what clothes
would be hanging in the chamber closets? 'Tis all too great a
Why, Miss O'Connellwhat luck!
Patsy had been so deep in her musing that a horse and rider had come
upon her unnoticed. She turned quickly to see the rider dismounting
just back of her; it was Gregory Jessup.
The top o' the morning to ye! She broke into a glad laugh,
blessing that luck, herself, which had broken into her disquieting
thoughts and provided at least fair company and some newsperhaps. She
held out her hand in hearty welcome. Are ye 'up so early or down so
I might ask that, myself. Is it the habit of celebrated Irish
actresses to tramp miles between sun-up and breakfast?
'Tis a habit more likely to fasten itself on French cooks, I'm
thinking, and Patsy smiled.
Then how is a man to account for you?
He'd best not try; I'm a mortial poor person to account for. Maybe
I'm up earlygetting my lines for the next act.
Of course. What a stupid duffer I am! You must find us plain,
plodding Americans horribly short-witted sometimes. Don't you?
Patsy shook a contradiction. It's your turn, now. What fetched ye
abroad at this hour?
Gregory Jessup slipped his arm through the horse's bridle and fell
into step with her. Principally because I like the early morning
better than any other part of the day; it's fresh and sweet and
unspoiledlike some Irish actresses. Thereplease don't mind my crude
attempt at poeticsimile, for Patsy's eyes had snapped dangerously.
If you only knew how rarely poetry or compliments ever came to roost
on this dry tongue, you really wouldn't want to discourage them when it
does happen. Besides, there was another reason for my being upa
downright foolish reason.
Gregory Jessup accompanied the remark with a downright foolish
smile, and then lapsed into silence. In this fashion they walked to the
bend of the road where another graveled driveway branched forth; and
here the horse stopped of his own accord and whinnied.
This is the Dempsy Carters' placewhere I'm stopping, Gregory
Aye, but the other reason? Patsy reminded him, her eyes friendly
Ohthe other reason; I told you it was a foolish one. He stood
rubbing his horse's nose and looking over the road they had come for
some seconds before he finally confessed to it. It's Billy, you see.
Somehow it occurred to me that if he should be in trouble and at the
same time knowing his father was sickdyinghe might be hanging
around somewhere near hereuncertain just what to doand not wanting
any one to see him. In that case, the best time to run across him would
be early morning before the rest of the people were awake and up. Don't
you think so?
It sounds more sensible than foolish; but I don't think ye'll ever
find him that way. If he was clever enough to let the earth swallow him
up, he's clever enough to keep swallowed. There's but one way to reach
himand it's been in my mind since yester-eve.
A look of surprise came into Gregory Jessup's face. Why, Miss
O'Connell! I had no idea what I said that day would fasten Billy on
your mind like this. It's awfully good of you; and he's a perfect
Patsy broke in with a whimsical chuckle. Aye, I've grown
overpartial to strangers of late; but ye hearken to me. Ye'll have to
leave a sign by the roadside for himif ye want to reach him.
Otherwise he'll see ye first and be gone before ever ye know he's
What kind of a sign?
Faith! I'm not sure of that yetmyself. It must be something that
will put trust back in a lad and tell him to come home.
And where would you put it?
Where? On the roadside, just, anywhere along the road he's used to
Gregory Jessup's face lost its puzzled frown and became suddenly
illumined with an inspiration. I know! By Hec! I've got it! There's
that path that runs down from the Burgeman estate to our old cottage.
It was a short cut for us kids, and we were almost the only ones to use
it. Billy would be far more likely to take that than the highroadand
it leads to the Burgeman farm, too, run by an old couple that simply
adore Billy. He might go there when he wouldn't go anywhere else.
That's the place for a message. But what message?
I know! Patsy clapped her hands. Have ye a scrap of paper
anywheres about yeand a pencil?
Hunting through the pockets of his riding-clothes, Gregory Jessup
discovered a business letter, the back of which provided ample writing
space, and the stub of a red-ink pencil. We use 'em in the
drafting-room, he explained. If these will dohere's a desk, and he
raised the end of his saddle, supporting it with a large expanse of
Patsy accepted them all with a gracious little nod, and, spreading
the paper on the improvised desk, she wrote quickly:
If it do come to pass
That any man turn ass,
Thinking the world is blind
And trust forsworn mankind,
Ducdame, ducdame, ducdame:
Here shall he find
Both trust and peace of mind,
An he but leave all foolishness behind.
With apologies to Willie Shakespeare, Patsy chuckled again as she
returned paper and pencil to their owner. Ye put it somewhere he'd be
likely to lookfurninst something that would naturally take his
I know just the spotand they're in blossom now, too. I'll fasten
it to a rock, there, wedge it in the cracks. Billy won't miss it if he
comes within yards of the place. He grasped Patsy's hand with growing
fervor that gave promise of developing suddenly into almost anything.
You're a brick, Miss O'Connella solid gold brick of a girl, and I
Take care! warned Patsy. Ye're not improving as fast in your
compliments as ye mightand there's no poetry in goldfor me.
Gregory Jessup looked puzzled, but his fervor did not abate one
whit. I want you to promise me if you ever need a friendif there is
anything I can ever do
Ye can, interrupted Patsy, and ye can do it now. Take that
riding-crop of yours and draw me a map in the dust there of the country
hereaboutsye can make a cross for Arden.... That's grand. Now where
would ye put Brambleside Inn? And is it seven miles from there to
Gregory nodded an affirmative while he considered Patsy with grave
perplexity. Patsy saw it, and smiled reassuringly. 'Tis all right.
I've always had a great interest entirely to know the geography of
every new countryand I haven't the wits to discover it for myself.
Now where would ye put the cross-roads and the Catholic church? And
where would Lebanon be? AyeDid ye ever see an old tabby chasing her
tail? Faith! 'tis a very intelligent spectacle, I'm thinking. Now where
might ye put the cross-roads where ye picked me up with the Dempsy
Carters?... And Dansville?... and the railroad bridge? ... and the golf
links, back yonder?
She stood for many minutes, studying the rough chart in the dust at
her feet. The connecting lines of roads between the places named made
fully a hundred and twenty degrees of a circle about the cross marking
Arden. And as chance would have it, every one of the encircling towns
measured approximately seven miles from the central cross. Patsy
smiled, and the smile grew to a chuckleand the chuckle to a long,
rippling laugh. Patsy was forced to hold her sides with the ache of it.
I know ye think I'm crazybut 'tis the rarest bit of humor this
side of Ireland. Willie Shakespeare himself would steal it if he could
to put in one of his comedies. There is just one thing I'd like to be
knowinghow much of it was chance, and how much was the tricks of a
I don't think I understand, mumbled Gregory Jessup.
Of course ye don't, agreed Patsy. I don't, myself. But there's
one thing more I'll be telling yeif ye'll swear never to let it pass
Patsy paused for dramatic effect while Gregory Jessup bound himself
twice over to secrecy. Well, she said, at length, 'tis this: If I
had the road to travel again I'd pray to Saint Brendan to keep my feet
fast to the wrong turn. That's what!
Patsy left him, still looking after her in a puzzled fashion; and
with quickening steps she passed out of sight.
But once again did she stop; and again it was by a graveled
driveway. She was deep in green memories when a figure in nurse's
uniform coming down the drive caught her attention. She was immediately
reminded of two facts: that the Burgeman estate was in Arden, and that
Burgeman senior was dying. Impulsively she turned toward the nurse.
Is Mr. Burgeman any better this morning?
We hardly expect that. The nurse's tone was cordial but
I knowPatsy nodded wisely, as if she had been following the case
professionally herselfbut there is often a last rallying of
strength. Isn't there?
Sometimes. I hardly think there will be anything very lasting in
Mr. Burgeman's case. There are moments, now, when his strength and will
are remarkably vigorousany other man would be in his bed.
Oh! Then he isup?
He's taken about on a wheeled chair or cot. He is too restless to
stay in any place very long. He seems more contented outdoors, where he
can watch She broke off abruptly. Lovely morningisn't it?
She turned about and went up the drive again. Patsy watched her go,
a strange, brooding look in her eyes. Sohe likes to be out of doors
bestwhere he can be watching. And if a body chanced to trespass that
wayshe might come upon him, sudden like, and stay long enough to set
him a-thinking. Would it be too late, now, I wonder?
She resumed her wayand her memories. She passed a half-dozen more
driveways and she climbed a hill; and when she came to the top she
found herself looking down on a thickly wooded hamlet. Spires and
gabled roofs broke the foliage here and there, and on the rising slope
beyond towered a veritable forest. Patsy stood on the brink of the hill
and gazed down long and thoughtfully; at last she flung out her arms in
an impetuous gesture of confirmation, while the old, whimsical smile
crept into her lips.
'Aye, now am I in Arden, the more fool I; when I was at home, I was
in a better placebut travelers must be content.' And taking a firm
grip of her memories, her wits, and her courage, she went down the
XIV. ENTER KING MIDAS
When Patsy at last reached Arden she went direct to the post-office
and was there confronted by a huge poster occupying an entire wall:
THE SYLVAN PLAYERS
Under the Management of Geo. Travis
Presenting Wm. Shakespeare's Comedy
AS YOU LIKE IT
In the Forest of Arden, on the Estate of Peterson-Jones, Esq.
The date given was Wednesday, the day following; and the cast
registered her name opposite Rosalind.
So that's the answer to the letter I wrote, and a grand answer it
is. And that's the meaning of Janet Payne's remarks, and I never
guessed it. She heaved the faintest wisp of a sighit might have been
pleasure; it might have been a twinge of pain. And I'm to be playing
the Duke's daughter, after all, at the end of the road.
She went to the general delivery and asked for mail. The clerk
responded with three letters; Patsy almost whistled under her breath.
Retiring to a corner, she looked them over and opened first the one
from George Travis:
DEAR IRISH PATSY,You are a lucky beggar, and so am I. Here
comes the news of Miriam St. Regis's illness and the
canceling of all of her summer engagements in the same mail
as your letter.
Just think of it! Here you are actually in Arden all ready
for me to pick up and put in Miriam's place without having
to budge from my desk. The Sylvan Players open with As You
Like It. If the critics like itand youas well as I
think they will, I'll book you straight through the summer.
Felton's managing for me, so please report to him on Monday
when he gets there. I may run down myself for a glimpse of
P. S. More good luck. We are just in time to get your name
on the posters; and unless my memory greatly deceives me,
you will be able to walk right into all of Miriam's
Aye, they'll fit, agreed Patsy, with a chuckle. The second letter
was from Feltondated Monday. He was worried over her continued
absence. He had not found her registered at either of the two hotels,
and the postal clerk reported her mail uncalled for. Would she come to
the Hillcrest Hotel at once. The third was from Janet Payne, expressing
her grief over Joseph's death, and their disappointment at finding her
gone the next morning when they motored over to take her to Arden. They
were all looking forward to seeing her play on Wednesday.
Patsy returned the letters to their envelopes and marveled that her
new-found prosperity should affect her so drearily. Why was she not
elated, transported with the surprise and the sudden promise of
success? She was free to go now to a good hotel and sign for a room and
three regular meals a day. She could wire at once to Miss Gibbs, of the
select boarding-house, and have her trunk down in twenty-four hours. In
very truth, her days of vagabondage were over, yet the fact brought her
She hunted Felton up at the hotel and explained her absence: Just a
week-end at one of the fashionable places. No, not exactly
professional. No, not social either. You might call itprovidential,
The morning was spent meeting her fellow-playersgoing over the
text, trying on the St. Regis costumes, adjourning at last to the
estate of Peterson-Jones.
Until the middle of the afternoon they were busy with rehearsals:
the mental tabulating of new stage business, the adapting of strange
stage property, the accustoming of one's feet to tread gracefully over
roots and tangling vines and slippery patches of pine needles instead
of a good stage flooring. And through all this maze Patsy's mind played
truant. A score of times it raced off back to the road again, to wait
between a stretch of woodland and a grove of giant pines for the coming
of a grotesque, vagabond figure in rags.
Come, come, Miss O'Connell; what's the matter? Felton's usual
patience snapped under the strain of her persistent wit-wandering.
I've had to tell you to change that entrance three times.
Ayeand what is the matter? Patsy repeated the question
remorsefully. Maybe I've acquired the habit of taking the wrong
entrance. What can you expect from any one taking seven days to go
seven miles. I'm dreadfully sorry. If you'll only let me off this time
I promise to remember to-morrow; I promise!
* * * * *
The day had been growing steadily hotter and more sultry. By five
o'clock every one who was doing anything, and could stop doing it, went
slothfully about looking for cool spots and cooler drinks. Burgeman
senior, alone with his servants on the largest estate in Arden, ordered
one of the nurses to wheel him to the border of his own private lakea
place where breezes blew if there were any aboutand leave him there
alone until Fitzpatrick, his lawyer, came from town. And there he was
sitting, his eyes on nothing at all, when Patsy scrambled up the bank
of the lake and dropped breathless under a treenot three feet from
Merciful Saint Patrick! I never saw you! Maybe I'm trespassing,
You are, agreed Burgeman senior in a colorless voice. But I
hardly think any one will put you off the groundsat least until you
have caught your breath.
Thank you. Maybe the grounds are yours, now? she questioned again.
The sick man signified they were by a slight nod.
Well, 'tis the prettiest place hereabouts. Patsy offered the
information as if she had made the discovery herself and was generously
sharing it with him. I'm a stranger; and when I saw yon bit of cool,
gray water, and the pines clustering round, and the wee green faery
isle in the midstwith the bridge holding onto it to keep it from
disappearing entirelyand the sand so white, and the lawns so
greenwhy, it looked like a Japanese garden set in a great sedge bowl.
Do you wonder I had to come closer and see it better?
Burgeman said nothing; but the ghost of a feeling showed, the greed
And it all belongs to you. You bought it allthe lake and the
woods and the lawns. It was not a question, but a statement.
I own three miles in every direction.
Except that one. Patsy smiled as she pointed a finger upward. Did
you ever think how generous the blessed Lord is to lend a bit of His
sky to put over the land men buy and fence in and call 'private
property'? It's odd how a body can think he owns something because he
has paid money for it; and yet the things that make it worth the owning
he hasn't paid for at all.
What do you mean?
Would you think much of this place if you couldn't be looking
yonder and watching the clouds scud by, all turning to pink and flame
color and purple as the sun gathers them in? What would you do if no
wild flowers grew for you, or the birds forgot you in the spring and
built their nests and sang for your neighbor instead? And can you hire
the sun to shine by the day, or order the rain by the hogshead?
Burgeman senior was contemplating her with genuine amazement. I do
not believe I have ever heard any one put forth such extraordinary
theories before. May I ask if you are a socialist?
Bless you, no! I am a very ordinary human being, just; principally
Do you know who I am?
For an instant Patsy looked at him without speaking; then she
answered, slowly: You have told me, haven't you? You are the master of
the place, and you look a mortal lonely one.
Iam. The words seemed to slip from his lips without his being at
all conscious of having spoken.
And the money couldn't keep it from you. There was no mockery in
her tone. 'Tis pitifully few comforts you can buy in life, when all's
said and done.
Comforts! The sick man's eyes grew sharp, attacking, with a force
that had not been his for days. You are talking now like a fool. Money
is the only thing that can buy comforts. What comforts have the poor?
Are you meaning butlers and limousines, electric vibrators and
mud-baths? Those are only cures for the bodily necessities and ills
that money brings on a man: the over-feeding and the over-drinking and
theunder-living. But what comforts would they bring to a troubled
mind and a pinched heart? Tell me that!
So! You would prefer to be poormore pastorally poetic? Burgeman
More comfortable, corrected Patsy. Mind you, I'm not meaning
starved, ground-under-the-heel poverty, the kind that breeds anarchists
and criminals. God pity them, too! I mean the man who is still too poor
to reckon his worth to a community in mere money, who, instead, doles
kindness and service to his neighbors. Did you ever see a man richer
than the one who comes home at day's end, after eight hours of good,
clean work, and finds the wife and children watching for him,
happy-eyed and laughing?
The sick man stirred uneasily. Wellcan't a rich man find the same
Aye, he can; but does he? Does he even want it? Count up the rich
men you know, and how many are therelike that? No answer being
given, Patsy continued: Take the richest manthe very richest man in
all this countrydo you suppose in all his life he ever saw his own
lad watching for him to come home?
What do you know about the richest manand his son? The sick man
had for a moment become again a fiercely bitter, fighting force, a
power given to sweeping what it willed before it. He sat with hands
clenched, his eyes burning into the girl's on the ground beside him. I
know what the world says.
The world lies; it has always lied.
You are wrong. It is a tongue here and a tongue there that bears
false witness; but the world passes on the truth; it has to.
You forgetBurgeman senior spoke with difficultyit is the rich
who bear the burdens of the world's cares and troubles, and what do
they get for it? The hatred of every one else, even their sons! Every
one hates and envies the man richer and more powerful than himself; the
more he has the more he is feared. He lives friendless; he
Patsy rose to her knees and knelt there, shaking her fista
composite picture of supplicating Justice and accusing Truth. She had
forgotten that the man before her was sickdying; that he must have
suffered terribly in spirit as well as body; and that her words were so
many barbed shafts striking at his soul. She remembered nothing save
the thing against which she was fighting: the hard, merciless
possession of money and the arrogant boast of it.
And you forget that the burden of trouble which the brave rich bear
so nobly are troubles they've put into the world themselves. They hoard
their money to buy power; and then they use that power to get more
money. And so the chain growsmoney and power, money and power! I
heard of a rich man once who turned a terrible fever loose all over the
land because he bribed the health inspectors not to close down his
factories. And after death had swept his books clean he gave large sums
of money to stamp out the epidemic in the near-by towns. Faith! that
was grandthe bearing of that trouble! And why are the rich hated? Why
do they live friendless and die lonely? Not because they hold money,
not because they give it away or help others with it. No! But because
they use it to crush others, to rob those who have less than they have,
to turn their power into a curse. That's the why!
Patsy, the fanatic, turned suddenly into Patsy, the human, again.
The fist that had been beating the air under his nose dropped and
spread itself tenderly on the sick man's knee. But I'm sorry you're
lonely. If there was anything you wantedthat you couldn't buy and I
could earn for youI would get it gladly.
I believe you would, and the confession surprised the man himself
more than it did Patsy. Who are you? he asked at last.
No one at all, just; a laggard by the roadsidea lass with no
home, no kin, and that for a fortune, and she flung out her two empty
hands, palm uppermost, and laughed.
And you are audacious enough to think you are richer than I. This
time there was no sneer in his voice, only an amused toleration.
I am, said Patsy, simply.
You have youth and health, he conceded, grudgingly.
Aye, and trust in other folks; that's a fearfully rich possession.
It is. I might exchange with youall this, and his hand swept
encompassingly over his great estate, for that lasttrust in other
folksin one's own folks!
Maybe I'd give it to you for nothinga little of it at any rate.
See, you trust me; and here'strust in your son. Patsy's voice
dropped to a whisper; she leaned forward and opened one of the sick
man's hands, then folded the fingers tightly over something that
appeared to be invisibleand precious. Now, you believe in him, no
matter what he's done; you believe he wouldn't wrong you or himself by
doing anything base; you believe that he is coming back to youto
break the loneliness, and that he'll find a poor, plain man for a
father, waiting him. Don't you remember the prodigal ladhow his
father saw him a long way off and went to meet him? Well, you can meet
him with a long-distance trustunderstanding. And there's one thing
more; don't you be so blind or so foolish as to crush him with the
weight of 'all this.' Mind, he has the right to the making of his own
lifefor a bit at least; and it's your privilege to give him that
rightsomehow. You've still a chance to keep him from wanting to pitch
your money for quoits off the Battery.
Patsy sprang to her feet; but Burgeman senior had reached forward
quickly and caught her skirt, holding it in a marvelously firm grip.
Then you do know who I am; you've known it all along.
I know you're the master of all this, and your lad is the Rich
Man's Son; that's all.
And you thinkyou think I have no right to leave my son the
inheritance I have worked and saved for him.
I think you have no right to leave him yourgreed. 'Tis a mortal
poor inheritance for any lad.
Your vocabulary is rather blunt. Burgeman smiled faintly. But it
is very refreshing. It is a long time since naked truth and I met face
But will it do you any goodor is it too late? Patsy eyed him
Too late for what?
Too late for the inheritancetoo late to give it away somewhere
elseor loan it for a few years till the lad had a chance to find out
if he could make some decent use of it himself. There's many ways of
doing it; I have thought of a few this last half-hour. You might loan
it to the President to buy up some of the railroads for the
governmentor to purchase the coal or oil supply; or you might offer
it as a prize to the country that will stop fighting first; or it might
buy clean politics into some of the citiesor endow a university. She
laughed. It's odd, isn't it, how a body without a cent to her name can
dispose of a few score millionsin less minutes?
If you please, sir. A motionless, impersonal figure in livery
stood at a respectful distance behind the wheel-chair. Neither of them
had been conscious of his presence.
Mr. Billy, sir, has come back, sir. He and Mr. Fitzpatrick came
together. Shall I bring them out here or wheel you inside, sir?
Inside! Burgeman senior almost shouted it. Then he turned to Patsy
and there was more than mere curiosity in his voice: Who are you?
No one at all, just; a laggard by the roadside, she repeated,
wistfully. And then she added in her own Donegal: But don't ye let the
lagging count for naught. Promise me that!
The sick man turned his head for a last look at her. Such a simple
promiseto throw away the fruits of a lifetime! Bitterness was in his
voice again, but Patsy caught the muttering under his breath. I might
think about the boy, though, if the Lord granted me time.
Amen! whispered Patsy.
She scrambled down the bank the way she had come. For a moment she
stopped by the lake and skimmed a handful of white pebbles across its
mirrored surface. She watched the ripples she had made spread and
spread until they lost themselves in the lake itself, leaving behind no
mark where they had been.
Yonder's the way with the going and coming of most of us, a little
ripple and naught elseunless it is one more stone at the bottom. She
heaved a sigh. Well, the quest is over, and I've never laid eyes on
the lad once. But it's ended well, I'm thinking; aye, it's ended right
Summer must have made one day in June purposely as a setting for a
pastoral comedy; and chance stole it, like a kindly knave, and gave it
to the Sylvan Players. Never did a gathering of people look down from
the rise of a natural amphitheater upon a fairer scene; a Forest of
Arden, built by the greatest scenic artist since the world began. Birds
flew about the trees and sangwhenever the orchestra permitted; a
rabbit or two scuttled out from under rhododendron-bushes and skipped
in shy ingénue fashion across the stage; while overhead a blue,
windless sky spread radiance about players and audience alike.
Shorn of so much of the theatricalism of ordinary stage
performances, there was reality and charm about this that warmed the
spectators into frequent bursts of spontaneous enthusiasm which were as
draughts of elixir to the players. Those who were playing creditably
played well; those who were playing well excelled themselves, and Patsy
outplayed them all.
She lived every minute of the three hours that spanned the throwing
of Charles, the wrestler, and her promise to make all this matter
even. There was no touch of coarseness in her rollicking laughter, no
hoydenish swagger in her masquerading; it was all subtly, irresistibly
feminine. And George Travis, watching from the obscurity of a back
seat, pounded his knee with triumph and swore he would make her the
greatest Shakespearean actress of the day.
As Hymen sang her parting song, Patsy scanned the sea of faces
beyond the bank of juniper which served instead of footlights. Already
she had picked out Travis, Janet Payne and her party, the people from
Quality House, who still gaped at her, unbelieving, and young
Peterson-Jones, looking more melancholy, myopic, and poetical than
before. But the one face she hoped to find was missing, even among the
stragglers at the back; and it took all her self-control to keep
disappointment and an odd, hurt feeling out of her voice as she gave
On the way to her tenta half-score of them were used as
dressing-rooms behind the stageGeorge Travis overtook her. It's all
right, girl. You've made a bigger hit than even I expected. I'm going
to try you out in
Patsy cut him short. You sat at the back. Did you see a vagabond
lad hanging around anywherewith a limp to him?
The manager looked at her with amused toleration. Does a mere man
happen to be of more consequence this minute than your success? Oh, I
say, that's not like you, Irish Patsy!
She crimsoned, and the manager teased no more. We play Greyfriars
to-morrow and back to Brambleside the day after; and I've made up my
mind to try you out there in Juliet. If you can handle tragedy as you
can comedy, I'll star you next winter on Broadway. Oh, your future's
very nearly made, you lucky girl!
But Patsy, slipping into her tent, hardly heard the last. If they
played Greyfriars the next day, that meant they would leave Arden on
the first train after they were packed; and that meant she was passing
once and for all beyond tramping reach of the tinker. There was a dull
ache at her heart which she attempted neither to explain nor to
analyze; it was therethat was enough. With impatient fingers she tore
off Rosalind's wedding finery and attacked her make-up. Then she
lingered over her dressing, hoping to avoid the rest of the company and
any congratulatory friends who might happen to be browsing around. She
wanted to be alone with her memoriesto have and to hold them a little
longer before they should grow too dim and far away.
A hand scratched at the flap of her tent and Janet Payne's voice
broke into her reverie: Can't we see you, please, for just a moment?
We'll solemnly promise not to stay long.
Patsy hooked back the flap and forced the semblance of a welcome
into her greeting.
It was simply ripping! chorused the Dempsy Carters, each gripping
Janet Payne looked down upon her with adoring eyes. It was the
best, the very best I've ever seen you or any one else play it. For the
first time Rosalind seemed a real girl.
But it was the voice of Gregory Jessup that carried above the
others: Have you heard, Miss O'Connell? Burgeman died last night, and
Billy was with him. He's come home.
Faith! then there's some virtue in signs, after all.
A hush fell on the group. Patsy suddenly put out her hand. I'm glad
for youI'm glad for him; and I hope it ended right. Did you see him?
For a few minutes. There wasn't time to say much; but he looked
like a man who had won out. He said he and the old man had had a good
talk together for the first time in their livessaid it had given him
a father whose memory could never shame him or make him bitter. I
wanted to tell you, so you wouldn't have him on your mind any longer.
She smiled retrospectively. Thank you; but I heaved him off nearly
twenty-four hours ago.
Left to herself again, she finished her packing; then tying under
her chin a silly little poke-bonnet of white chiffon and corn-flowers,
still somewhat crushed from its long imprisonment in a trunk, she went
back for a last glimpse of the Forest and her Greenwood tree.
The place was deserted except for the teamsters who had come for the
tents and the property trunks. A flash of white against the green of
the tree caught her eye; for an instant she thought it one of Orlando's
poetic effusions, overlooked in the play and since forgotten. Idly
curious, she pulled it down and read itonce, twice, three times:
Where twin oaks rustle in the wind,
There waits a lad for Rosalind.
If still she be so wond'rous kind,
Perchance she'll ease the fretted mind
That naught can curebut Rosalind.
With a glad little cry she crumpled the paper in her hand and fled,
straight as a throstle to its mate, to the giant twin oaks which were
landmarks in the forest. Her eyes were a-search for a vagabond figure
in rags; it was small wonder, therefore, that they refused to
acknowledge the man in his well-cut suit of gray who was leaning partly
against the hole of a tree and partly on a pilgrim staff. She stood and
stared and gave no sign of greeting.
Well, so the Duke's daughter found her rhyme?
I'm not knowing whether I'll own ye or not. Sure, ye've no longer
the look of an honest tinker; and maybe we'd best part company
nowbefore we meet at all.
But the tinker had her firmly by both hands. That's too late now. I
would have come in rags if there'd been anything left of them, but they
are the only things I intend to part company with. And do you knowhe
gripped her hands tighterI met an acquaintance as I came this way
who told me, with eyes nearly popping out of his head, that the
wonderful little person who had played herself straight into hundreds
of hearts had actually been his cook for three days. Oh, lass! lass!
how could you do it!
Troth! God made me a better cook than actress. Ye wouldn't want me
to be slighting His handiwork entirely, would ye?
The tinker shook his head at her. Do you know what I wanted to say
to every one of those people who had been watching you? I wanted to
say: 'You think she is a wonderful actress; she is more than that. She
is a rare, sweet, true woman, better and finer than any play she may
act in or any part she may play in it. I, the tinker, have discovered
this; and I know her better than does any one else in the whole
Is that so? A teasing touch of irony crept into Patsy's voice.
'Tis a pity, now, the manager couldn't be hearing ye; he might give ye
a chance to understudy Orlando.
And you think I'd be content to understudy any one! Why, I'm going
to pitch Orlando straight out of the Forest of Arden; I'm going to pull
Willie Shakespeare out of his grave and make him rewrite the whole
playputting a tinker in the leading role.
And is it a tragedy ye would have him make it?
Would it be a tragedy to take a tinker 'for betterfor worse'?
Faith! that would depend on the tinker.
Oh-ho, so it's up to the tinker, is it? Well, the tinker will prove
it otherwise; he will guarantee to keep the play running pure comedy to
the end. So that settles it, Miss Patricia O'Connellalias Rosalind,
alias the cookalias Patsythe best little comrade a lonely man ever
found. I am going to marry you the day after to-morrow, right here in
Patsy looked at him long and thoughtfully from under the beguiling
shadow of the white chiffon, corn-flower sunbonnet. 'Tis a shame,
just, to discourage anything so brave as a self-madetinker. But I'll
not be here the day after to-morrow. And what's more, a man is a fool
to marry any woman because he's lonely and she can cook.
The tinker's eyes twinkled. I don't know. A man might marry for
worse reasons. Then he grew suddenly sober and his eyes looked deep
into hers. But you know and I know that that is not my reason for
wanting you, or yours for taking me.
I didn't say I would take ye. This time it was Patsy's eyes that
twinkled. Do ye think it would be so easy to give up my careerthe
big success I've hoped and worked and waited forjustjust for a
tinker? I'd be a fool to think of it. She was smiling inwardly at her
own power of speech, which made what she held as naught sound of such
But the tinker smiled outwardly. Where did you say you were going
to be the day after to-morrow?
That's another thing I did not say. If ye are going to marry me
'tis your business to find me. She freed her hands and started off
without a backward glance at him.
Patsy, Patsy! he called after her, wouldn't you like to know the
name of the man you're going to marry?
She turned and faced him. Framed in the soft, green fringe of the
trees, she seemed to him the very embodiment of young summerthe free,
untrammeled spirit of Arden. Ever since the first he had been growing
more and more conscious of what she was: a nature vital, beautiful,
tender, untouched by the searing things of lifetrusting and worthy of
trust; but it was not until this moment that he realized the future
promise of her. And the realization swept all his smoldering love
aflame into his eyes and lips. His arms went out to her in a sudden,
PatsyPatsy! Would the name make any difference?
Why should it? she cried, with saucy coquetry. I'm marrying the
man and not his name. If I can stand the one, I can put up with the
other, I'm thinking. Anyhow, 'twill be on the marriage license the day
after to-morrow, and that's time enough.
Do you really mean you would marry a man, not knowing his name or
anything about his familyor his incomeor
That's the civilized way, isn't it?to find out about those things
first; and afterward it's time enough when you're married to get
acquainted with your man. But that's not the way that leads off the
road to Ardenand it's not my way. I know my man nowGod bless him.
And away she ran through the trees and out of sight.
The tinker watched the trees and underbrush swing into place,
covering her exit. So tense and motionless he stood, one might have
suspected him of trying to conjure her back again by the simple magic
of heart and will. It turned out a disappointing piece of conjuring,
however; the green parted again, but not to redisclose Patsy. A man,
instead, walked into the open, toward the giant oaks, and one glimpse
of him swept the tinker's memory back to a certain afternoon and a
cross-roads. He could see himself sitting propped up by the sign-post,
watching the door of a little white church, while down the road
clattered a sorrel mare and a runabout. And the man that drovethe man
who was trailing Patsywas the man that came toward him now, looking
You haven't seen he began, but the tinker interrupted him:
Guess not. I've been watching the company break up. Rather
interesting to any one not used to that sort of thingdon't you
The man eyed him narrowly; then cautiously he dropped into an
attitude of exaggerated indifference. It sure isyoung feller. Now
you hain't been watchin' that there leadin' lady more particularly,
have you? I sort o' cal'ate she might have a takin' way with the
fellers, and he prodded the tinker with a jocular thumb.
The tinker responded promptly with a foolish grin. Maybe I have;
but the luck was dead against me. Guess she had a lot of friends with
her. I saw them carry her off in triumph in a big touring-carprobably
they'll dine her at the country club.
The man did not wait for further exchange of pleasantries. He took
the direction the tinker indicated, and the tinker watched him go with
a suppressed chuckle.
History positively stutters sometimes. Now if that property-man
knew what he was talking about the company will be safe out of Arden
before a runabout could make the country club and back. But the
tinker's mirth was of short duration. With a shout of derision, he
slapped the pocket of his trousers viciously.
What a confounded fool I am! Why in the name of reason didn't I
give them to him and stop this sleuth business before it really gets
her into trouble? Of all the idioticsenseless and, leaning on the
pilgrim staff, he slowly hobbled in the same direction he had given the
* * * * *
One last piece of news concerning Billy Burgeman came to Patsy
before she left Arden that afternoon. Gregory Jessup was at the station
to see her off, and he took her aside for the few minutes before the
I tried to get Billy to join meknew it would do him good to meet
you; but he wouldn't budge. I rather think he's still a trifle sore on
girls. Nothing personal, you understand?
Patsy certainly didfar better than his friend knew. In her heart
she was trying her best to be interested and grateful to the Rich Man's
Son for his unconscious part in her happiness. Had it not been for him
there would have been no quest, no road; and without the road there
would have been no tinker; and without the tinker, no happiness. It was
none the less hard to be interested, however, now that her mind had
given over the lonely occupation of contemplating memories for that
most magical of all mental craftsfuture-building. She jerked up her
attention sharply as Gregory Jessup began speaking again.
Billy told me just before I came down why he had gone away; and I
wanted to tell you. I don't know how much you know about the old man's
reputation, but he was credited with being the hardest master with his
men that you could find either side of the water. In the beginning he
made his money by screwing down the wages and unscrewing the laborand
no sentiment. That was his slogan. Whether he kept it up from habit or
pure cussedness I can't tell, but that's the real reason Billy would
never go into his father's businesshe couldn't stand his meanness.
The old man's secretary forged a check for ten thousand; Billy caught
him and cashed it himselfto save the man. He shouldered the guilt so
his father wouldn't suspect the man and hound him.
I know, said Patsy, forgetting that she was supposed to know
nothing. But why in the name of all the saints did the secretary want
to forge a check?
Why does any one forge? He needs money. When Billy caught him the
old fellow went all to pieces and told a pretty tough story. You see,
he'd been Burgeman's secretary for almost twenty years, given him the
best years of his lifeslaved for himlied for himmade money for
him. Billy said his father regarded him as an excellent piece of office
machinery, and treated him as if he were nothing more. The poor chap
had always had hard luck; a delicate wife, three or four children who
were eternally having or needing something, and poor relations
demanding help he couldn't refuse. Between doctors' bills and
clothingand the relativeshe had no chance to save. At last he broke
down, and the doctor told him it was an outdoor life, with absolute
freedom from the strain of serving a man like Burgemanor the
undertaker for him. So he went to Burgeman, asked him to loan him the
money to invest in a fruit-farm, and let him pay it off as fast as he
Well? Patsy was interested at last.
Well, the old man turned him downshouted his 'no sentiment'
slogan at him, and shrugged his shoulders at what the doctor said. He
told him, flat, that a man who hadn't saved a cent in twenty years
couldn't in twenty years more; and he only put money into investments
that paid. The poor chap went away, frantic, worked himself into
thinking he was entitled to that last chance; and when Billy heard the
story he thought so, too. In the end, Billy cashed the check, gave the
secretary the money, and they both cleared out. He knew, if his father
ever suspected the truth, he would have the poor chap followed and
dragged back to pay the full penalty of the lawhe and all his family
Patsy smiled whimsically. It sounds so simple and believable when
you have it explained; but it would have been rather nice, now, if
Billy Burgeman could have known that one person believed in him from
the beginning without an explanation.
Faith! how should I know? I was supposing, just.
But as Patsy climbed onto the train she muttered under her breath:
We come out even, I'm thinking. If he's missed knowing that, I've
missed knowing a fine lad.
XVI. THE ROAD BEGINS ALL OVER AGAIN
On the second day following Patsy played Juliet at Brambleside, and
more than satisfied George Travis. While his mind was racing ahead,
planning her particular stardom on Broadway, and her mind was pestering
her with its fears and uncertainties into a state of private
prostration, the manager of the Brambleside Inn was telephoning the
Green County sheriff to come at oncehe had found the girl.
So it came about at the final dropping of the curtain, as Patsy was
climbing down from her bier, that four eagerly determined men
confronted her, each plainly wishful to be the first to gain her
Well, said the tinker, pointedly, are you ready?
It's all settled. Travis was jubilant. You'll play Broadway for
six months next winteror I'm no manager.
It was the manager of the Brambleside Inn and the Green County
sheriff, however, who gave the greatest dramatic effect. They placed
themselves adroitly on either side of Patsy and announced together:
You're under arrest!
Holy Saint Patrick! Patsy hardly knew whether to be amused or
angry. With the actual coming of the tinker, and the laying of her
fears, her mind seemed strangely limp and inadequate. Her lips quivered
even as they smiled. Maybe I had best go back to my bier; you couldn't
arrest a dead Capulet.
But George Travis swept her aside; he saw nothing amusing in the
situation. What do you mean by insulting Miss O'Connell and myself by
such a performance? Why should she be under arrestfor being one of
the best Shakespearean actresses we've had in this country for many a
long, barren year?
No! For stealing two thousand dollars' worth of diamonds from a
guest in this hotel the night she palmed herself off as Miss St.
Regis! The manager of the Inn bit off his words as if he thoroughly
enjoyed their flavor.
But she never was here, shouted Travis.
Yes, I was, contradicted Patsy.
And she sneaked off in the morning with the jewels, growled the
And I trailed over the country for four days, trying to find the
girl in a brown suit that he'd describedsaid she was on her way to
Arden. I'd give a doggoned big cigar to know where you was all that
time. And there was something akin to admiration in the sheriff's
But Patsy did not see. She was looking hard at the tinker, with an
odd little smile pulling at the corners of her mouth.
The tinker smiled back, while he reached deep into his trousers
pocket and brought out a small package which he presented to the
sheriff. Are those what you are looking for?
They were five unset diamonds.
Well, I'll be hanged! Did she give them to you? The manager of the
Inn looked suspiciously from the tinker to Patsy.
No; she didn't know I had themdidn't even know they existed and
that she was being trailed as a suspected thief. Why, what's the
matter? For Patsy had suddenly grown white and her lips were trembling
Naughtnaught they could understand. But I'm finding out there was
more than one quest on the road to Arden, more than one soul who fared
forth to help another in trouble. And my heart is breaking, just, with
the memory of it. And Patsy sank back on the bier and covered her
What is it, dear? whispered a distressed tinker.
Don't asknowhere. Sometime I'll be telling ye.
Wellthe sheriff thumbed the armholes of his vest in a
business-like mannerI cal'ate we've waited about long enough, young
man; supposin' you explain how you come to have those stones in your
possession; and why you lied to me about her and sent me hiking off to
that country clubwhen you knew durned well where she was.
The tinker laughed in spite of himself. Certainly; it's very
simple. I found these, in a suit of rags which I saw on a tramp the
morning you lost the diamondsand Miss O'Connell. I liked the rags so
well that I paid the tramp to change clothes with me; he took mine and
gave me his, along with a knockout blow for good measure.
The manager of the Inn interrupted with an exclamation of surprise:
So! You were the young fellow they picked up senseless by the stables
that morning. When the grooms saw the other man running, they made out
it was you who had struck him first.
Wish I had. But I squared it off with him a few days later, the
tinker chuckled. At the time I couldn't make out why he struck me
except to get the rest of the money I had; but of course he wanted to
get the stones he'd sewed up in these rags and forgotten. I began to
suspect something when I found you trailing Miss O'Connell.
See here, young man, and wasn't you the feller that put me on the
wrong road twice? The sheriff laid a hand of the law suggestively
against his chest.
The tinker chuckled again. I certainly was. It would have been
pretty discouraging for Miss O'Connell if you'd found her before we had
the defense ready; and it would have been awkward for youto have to
take a lady in custody.
I cal'ate that's about right. And the sheriff relaxed into a grin.
Suddenly he turned to the manager of the Inn and pounded his palm with
his fist. By Jupiter! I betcher that there tramp is the feller that's
been cleanin' up these parts for the past two years. Hangs round as a
tramp at back doors and stables, and picks up what information he needs
to break into the house easy. Never hitched him up in my mind to the
thefts aforebut I cal'ate it's the one manand he's it.
Guess you're right, the tinker agreed. Last Saturday, when I came
upon him againin an automobilestill in my clothes, we had a final
fight for the possession of the rags, which I still wore, and the
But he never finished.
Patsy had sprung to her feet and was looking at him, bewilderment,
accusation, almost fright, showing through her tears. Your
clothesyour clothes! You wore aThen you are
Hush! said the tinker. He turned to the others. I think that is
all, gentlemen. I searched the rags after I had finished my score with
the thief and found the stones. I brought them over this afternoon to
return to their rightful owner. I might have returned them that day
after the playbut I forgot until the sheriff had gone. You are
entirely welcome. Good afternoon! He dismissed them promptly, but
courteously, as if the stage had been his own drawing-room and the two
had suddenly expressed a desire to take their leave.
At the wings he left them and came back direct to George Travis.
There is more thieving to be done this afternoon, and I am going to do
it. I am going to steal your future star, right from under your nose;
and I shall never return her.
What do you mean? Travis stared at him blankly.
Just what I say; Miss O'Connell and I are to be married this
afternoon in Arden.
That's simply out of the
Patsy, who had found her tongue at last, laid a coaxing hand on
Travis's arm. No, it isn't. I wired Miriam yesterdayto see if she
was really as sick as you thought. She was sick; but she's ever so much
better and her nerves are not going to be nearly as troublesome as she
feared. She's quite willing to come back and take her old place, and
she'll be well enough next week. Patsy's voice had become vibrant with
feeling. Now don't ye be hard-hearted and think I'm ungrateful. We've
all been playing in a bigger comedy than Willie Shakespeare ever wrote;
and, sure, we've got to be playing it out to the end as it was meant to
And you mean to give up your career, your big chance of success?
Travis still looked incredulous. Don't you realize you'll be
famousfamous and rich! he emphasized the last word unduly.
It set Patsy's eyes to blazing. Aye, I'd no longer be like Granny
Donoghue's lean pig, hungry for scrapings. Well, I'd rather be hungry
for scrapings than starving for love. I knew one woman who threw away
love to be famous and rich, and I watched her die. Thank God she's kept
my feet from that road! Sure, I wouldn't be rich She choked suddenly
and looked helplessly at the tinker.
Neither would I. And he spoke with a solemn conviction.
In the end Travis gave in. He took his disappointment and his loss
like the true gentleman he was, and sent them away with his blessing,
mixed with an honest twinge of self-pity. It was not, however, until
Patsy turned to wave him a last farewell and smile a last grateful
smile from under the white chiffon, corn-flower sunbonnet that he
remembered that convention had been slighted.
Wait a minute, he said, running after them. If I am not mistaken
I have not had the pleasure of meeting yourfuture husband; perhaps
you'll introduce us
For once in her life Patsy looked fairly aghast, and Travis
repeated, patiently, His name, Irish PatsyI want to know his name.
The tinker might have helped her out, but he chose otherwise. He
kept silent, his eyes on Patsy's as if he would read her answer there
before she spoke it to Travis.
Well, she said at last, slowly, maybe I'm not sure of it
myselfexceptI'm knowing it must be a good tinker name. And then
laughter danced all over her face. I'll tell ye; ye can be reading it
to-morrowin the papers. Whereupon she slipped her arm through the
tinker's, and he led her away.
And so it came to pass that once more Patsy and the tinker found
themselves tramping the road to Arden; only this time it was down the
straight road marked, Seven Miles, and it was early evening instead
Do ye think we'll reach it now? inquired Patsy.
We have reached it already; we're just going back.
And what happened to the brown dress?
I burned it that night in the cottageto fool the sheriff.
And I thought that night it was me ye had trickedjust for the
whim of it. Did ye know who I wasby chance?
Of course I knew. I had seen you with the Irish Players many, many
times, and I knew you the very moment your voice came over the road to
mewishing me 'a brave day.' The tinker's eyes deepened with
tenderness. Do you think for a moment if I hadn't known something
about youand wasn't hungering to know morethat I would have schemed
and cheated to keep your comradeship?
Ye might tell me, then, how ye came to know about the cottageand
how your picture ever climbed to the mantel-shelf?
You knowI meant to burn that along with the dressand I forgot.
What did you think when you discovered it?
Faith! I thought it was the picture of the truest gentleman God had
ever madeand I fetched it along with mefor company.
The tinker threw back his head and laughed as of old. What will
poor old Greg say when he finds it gone? Oh, I know how you almost
stole his faithful old heart by being so pitying of his friendand how
you made the sign for him to follow
Aye, agreed Patsy, but what of the cottage?
That belongs to Greg's father; he and the girls are West this
summer, so the cottage was closed.
And the breakfast with the throstles and the lady's-slippers?
The tinker laid his finger over her lips. Please, sweetheartdon't
try to steal away all the magic and the poetry from our road. You will
leave it very barren if you do'I'm thinking.'
Silence held their tongues until curiosity again loosened Patsy's.
And what started ye on the road in rags? Ye have never really answered
I have never honestly wanted to; it is not a pleasant answer. He
drew Patsy closer, and his hands closed over hers. Promise you will
never think of it again, that you and I will forget that part of the
I borrowed the rags so that it would take a pretty smart coroner to
identify the person in it after the train had passed under the
suspension-bridge from which he fellby accident. Don't shudder, dear.
Was it so terriblethat wish to get away from a world that held
nothing, not even some one to grieve? Remember, when I started there
wasn't a soul who believed in me, who would care much one way or
anotherunless, perhaps, poor old Greg.
Would ye mind letting me look at the marriage license? I'd like to
be seeing it written down.
The tinker produced it, and she read William Burgeman. Then she
added, with a stubborn shake of the head, Mind, though, I'll not be
You will not have to be. Father has left me absolutely nothing for
ten years; after that I can inherit his money or not, as we choose.
It's a glorious arrangement. The money is all disposed of to good civic
purpose, if we refuse. I am very glad it's settled that way; for I'm
afraid I would never have had the heart to come to you, dear, dragging
all those millions after me.
Then it is a free, open road for the both of us; and, please
Heaven! we'll never misuse it. She laughed joyously; some day she
would tell him of her meeting with his father; life was too full now
The tinker fell into his old swinging stride that Patsy had found so
hard to keep pace with; and silence again held their tongues.
Do you think we shall find the castle with a window for every day
in the year? the tinker asked at last.
Aye. Why not? And we'll be as happy as I can tell ye, and twice as
happy as ye can tell me. Doesn't every lad and lass find it anew for
themselves when they take to the long road with naught but love and
trust in their heartsand their hands together? They may find it when
they're youngthey may not find it till they're oldbut it will be
there, ever beckoning them onwith the purple hills rising toward it.
And there's a miracle in the castle that I've never told ye: no matter
how old and how worn and how stooped the lad and his lass may have
grown, there he sees her only fresh and fair and she sees him only
brave and straight and strong.
She stopped and faced him, her hands slipping out of his and
creeping up to his shoulders and about his neck. Dear ladpromise me
one thing!promise me we shall never forget the road! No matter how
snugly we may be housed, or how close comfort and happiness sit at our
hearthsidewe'll be faring forth just once in so oftento touch earth
again. And we'll help to keep faith in human natureaye, and
simple-hearted kindness alive in the world; and we'll make our friends
by reason of that and not because of the gold we may or may not be
And do you still think kindness is the greatest thing in the
No. There is one thing better; but kindness tramps mortal close at
its heels. Patsy's hands slipped from his shoulders; she clasped them
together in sudden intensity. Haven't ye any curiosity at all to know
what fetched me after ye?
Yes. But there is to-morrowand all the days afterto tell me.
No, there is just to-day. The telling of it is the only
wedding-gift I have for ye, dear lad. I was with Marjorie Schuyler in
the den that day you came to her and told her.
You heard everything?
And you came, believing in me, after all?
I came to show you there was one person in the world who trusted
you, who would trust you across the world and back again. That's all
the wedding-gift I have for ye, dear, barring love.
And then and therein the open road, still a good three miles from
the Arden churchthe tinker gathered her close in the embrace he had
kept for her so long.
* * * * *