The discussion between Mr. John Woodstock and his sister was
becoming animated, and their aunt, who never could understand the
difference between a discussion and a quarrel, was listening
anxiously, expecting every moment to see Marjory flounce out of the
room at one door, and John at the other, in their respective
furies. It began in this way: John had just read a notice of an
extraordinary concert to come off the next week, and had pushed the
paper over to Marjory, with the remark, "Like to go, Peg?"
She. Of course I should like to go! You don't mean to say
you have tickets for it? (Excitedly.)
He. No, of course I don't: I am not a thief.
She. No, you are only the next thing to it—a shabby
fellow. Why did you ask me in that way when you knew we couldn't
He. How you do jump at lame and impotent conclusions! Who
said we could not go? I am sure I did not.
She. John Woodstock, if you don't stop this, and tell me
what you mean, I will never make you another shirt!
He. Small loss! Of all mean things, a homemade shirt is
the meanest; and why a man of my native nobility of character
should be condemned to wear them—
Their aunt (distressedly). Children! children!—
He (soothingly). Never mind, aunty: she did not mean it.
She would not put it out of her power to say that she had made
every shirt I ever wore for all the mines of Golconda.
She. What a small potato you are!
He. Now, my dear Marjory, how often must I tell you that
calling a fellow names is not arguing? If you could keep from being
abusive for five minutes, you might hear of something to your
advantage. I have a little money, for a wonder, but it is like the
turkey—too much for one, and not enough for two.
You cannot go by yourself, for it is an evening affair; but if you
were not so frightfully vain about your personal appearance, I
think we could manage it. I heard you say yesterday that you had
the money for a new pair of gloves: if you will sacrifice them, we
can go, and in two weeks I can give you the gloves besides. I can't
before, for my princely income is at present heavily mortgaged. Can
you furbish up your old ones till then, and thereby prove yourself
sensible for once?
She. You are a pretty good boy, after all; but really I
have not a decent pair to my name: that last pair of light ones got
lemonade all over them, and it took the color out, of course.
He. Now I'll tell you what! I can take them for you on my
way down town, and leave them to be dyed, and then you can do some
fancy-work on their backs; and what more do you want?
She (doubtfully). But would black gloves do?
He (conclusively). Of course they would for a thing like
that. Fetch them out, and be quick about it; and bring your money
too, for I had better buy the tickets this morning, and then we
shall have some choice as to seats.
So it was arranged. Marjory's lofty mind did wince a little at
the idea of dyed gloves, but she tried not to think of it. John
brought the objectionable kids home in time for elaborate
decoration "on their backs;" but, as he watched her in the pauses
of his reading aloud, they both observed with anxiety that the
black "came off a little," and Marjory asked him to warn her if he
saw her let them go anywhere near her face.
Two children never enjoyed a holiday more than these two enjoyed
that concert. Dyed gloves and all other sublunary trials were
forgotten: Marjory did not touch her face once; and when the happy
evening was over, the gloves were put away with a loving pat on
their backs, and John had risen ten degrees in Marjory's
If those gloves had but rested on their laurels! But if people
of genius will not do that, can you expect it of dyed gloves? Few
are the authors who have not followed up a brilliant success with
something very like a failure, and Marjory's gloves seemed to catch
the spirit of the times.
Before the two weeks were up which were to restore John to
comparatively easy circumstances, and Marjory to respectability so
far as her hands went, John asked her to go with him to hear a
lecture. Just about that time he was rather wild concerning natural
history, for which, I am sorry to say, Marjory did not care a pin.
She indignantly repelled the idea of a gorilla somewhere toward the
top of her family tree, asserting that she preferred to believe
that she had descended from so mean a man as Adam, and so curious a
woman as Eve, to that: furthermore, she was indifferent upon the
subject. But there was not much she would not do to please John; so
when he asked her to go with him to hear a lecture about the
gorilla, she made a face to herself, and said certainly she
She consented with rather better grace from the fact that Mr.
Pradamite—such was the lecturer's euphonious
name—undertook to prove conclusively that man was not
descended from the gorilla; but when the little old gentleman
walked briskly upon the stage, she whispered John that he would
have been a valuable advocate of the theory held by the other side:
he wanted nothing but a little pointed felt hat, with a feather in
it, to look very much like a small edition of the original gorilla
reduced to earning his living by assisting a hand-organist.
The lecture, to John, was delightful—so clear, so logical,
went so far back, and so deep down, and so high up. "Walked all
around that fellow I heard last week on the other side," John said.
But Marjory, who had herself taken a long walk that afternoon,
thought the whole thing unutterably stupid: her eyelids would drop,
her neck felt double-jointed and would not stay erect. Fortunately,
their seats were far back, not very brilliantly lighted, and
Marjory's had the advantage of being next a
pillar. John, however, considered this fact unfortunate, for he
could not obtain a good view of the remarkable figures with which
the old gentleman was illustrating his lecture, talking in
spasmodic jerks as he drew, and when John saw a dear and scientific
friend on a front seat, with a vacant place beside him, he could
not resist the temptation to take it. He looked at Marjory: she was
half asleep, but still contending bravely for the other half. He
surveyed their immediate neighbors—three
strong-minded-looking women just behind them; a fatherly-looking
old gentleman in the seat next his own; a pillar protecting Marjory
on the other side, and two highly respectable-looking young men in
the row of seats before them, who appeared to be listening intently
and occasionally taking notes; at least, one of them was, and he
submitted his note-book to the criticism of the other, who smiled
approvingly. The seats immediately in front of his own and
Marjory's were vacant.
"Would you mind, Peggy," said John, deprecatingly, "if I left
you for a few minutes? I can't half see what he is drawing, and
there is a vacant front seat. I'll only stay five minutes."
"Certainly, dear," said Marjory with sleepy amiability: "stay up
there till he has finished, and then come back for me. I am not at
"Oh no: I will not do that," answered John, considerately, "but
I do want to go for a few minutes." So away he went, and, once up
there, he of course "took no note of time," and Marjory was left to
her own devices. These were few and simple, but small causes
sometimes produce great effects. She had on those gloves, of
She never could recall that part of the evening very distinctly.
A confused recollection that she found the pillar very comfortable
for a while; that finally the ridges in it hurt her cheek; that she
had one or two lucid intervals between her naps, in one of which
she concluded that it would be better to take those gloves off for
fear of marking her face; and that while she was doing so she
caught a sentence or two of the lecture—something like this:
"This one essential point of difference is in itself convincing
proof of the theory which I hold. The difference in the formation
of the hands is a difficulty which no theory of development can
overcome." These few insignificant items were all which remained in
her memory: then the little gentleman's voice gradually took to her
ears the form of a chant: his "theory," as the simple rustic said
about a matter less abstruse, "might be wrong, but it was awful
soothin'," and pleasant dreams of having four hands, all available,
and not of the objectionable sort whose bones the professor was
dangling, beguiled the time for Marjory—how long she knew
What woke her? Surely somebody laughed? She started up: the
lecture was over at last; John, with a penitent face, was hastening
back to her; the people who had sat nearest her were gone, and so
were her gloves!
"What, in thunder—" said John forcibly, looking at her
face in blank amazement.
"Oh, I didn't mind," she answered mildly, thinking he was
apologizing. "I believe I have had a little nap, Jack, but I can't
find my gloves: will you look under the next seat, please?"
"My dear child," said John, shaking with suppressed laughter,
"your face has 'found your gloves' with a vengeance! It's as black
as—anything. Can't you put your veil down till we get out of
Obediently hiding her countenance, Marjory, bewildered and still
not quite awake, followed John after a few minutes' further and
fruitless search for the missing gloves.
The brisk walk home through the frosty air restored her
consciousness, and when John led her up to the looking-glass,
kindly removing her veil at the same time, consciousness took the
form of wrath.
"I never could have done all that myself," she exclaimed
indignantly. "Why, I took those hateful gloves off, and put them on
the cushion; and it is just my belief that one of those dreadful
boys in front of us—"
"Boys!" interrupted John. "Those fellows were enough older than
you—or I either, for that matter."
"I don't care," said Marjory, with tears of vexation in her
brown eyes. "They behaved like boys, for when I woke—I mean
just before you came for me—I thought I heard somebody laugh,
and then they were gone, and my gloves were gone too; and I just
believe they managed to blacken my face somehow, and then stole my
"If I thought that—" exclaimed John savagely; and then
added in a puzzled tone, "But how could they have done it, Peg,
unless you were sleeping like a rock?"
"Well, I believe I was," answered the young woman candidly, "for
I was tired to death, and couldn't understand half the gorilla
"It was all my fault for dragging you there, and then leaving
you," said John, his penitence making him overlook this glaring
disrespect to his hobby and its rider. "But those fellows looked
like gentlemen; and besides, I know who that old man was who sat
next me, and I am sure he would not have let any such trick be
played right under his nose without stopping it."
"You can think what you please," said Marjory, a little crossly,
for her naturally good temper had been severely tried, "but nothing
will ever make me believe it was not those boys."
Some weeks had elapsed since that sorrowful result of
praiseworthy economy. Marjory's feelings had been soothed by a pair
of tan-colored kids, three-buttoned, stitched on the backs,
accompanied by a glove-buttoner and a hug from John. The mention of
dyed gloves still raised a flush on her round cheeks and painful
recollections in her heart, but she was beginning to banish the
sore subject from her mind, and to half smile to herself when she
did think of it; for, in spite of the enormity of the supposed
offence, the vision of her remarkable appearance when John raised
her veil before the glass was too much for her risibles as it grew
more and more retrospective. For she was one of those happy mortals
who cannot help seeing a joke, even when it points their way.
She came down stairs one evening arrayed in her best bib and
tucker, and was speedily joined by John, whose appearance likewise
indicated some approaching festivity—all but his face, which
wore a rather disgusted expression. "What a bore parties are!" said
that world-weary individual from the height of his twenty-third
"That depends," answered Marjory with the superior wisdom of
eighteen. "If one meets bright people, they are not a bore. And
I'll give you some advice, Jack: don't always take it for granted
that the girls can only talk gossip and fashions. Take it for
granted that they have at least as much sense as you have, and talk
about something worth while."
"The descent of man, for instance?" suggested John, somewhat
mischievously. "From the interest you take in that, I've no
doubt the rest of the girls would be charmed."
"What is that thing somebody said about the man of one book?"
asked Marjory, looking abstracted.
"Don't know," replied John—"never met him."
The party was about as lively and about as stupid as parties
generally are. There was a little pleasant music, a little innocent
"square dancing," a very well-ordered supper, and a good deal of
Toward the close of the evening the hostess came to Marjory. "My
dear," she said, "I have a young friend here whom I wish to
introduce to you and your brother: he told me he had heard of
John's interest in scientific matters, and as he has just come to
live in the city, he has not many acquaintances. He is a very nice
fellow. I know all about him, and I want him to have a few pleasant
visiting-places: I always feel so sorry for a young man away from
his family in a large city. May I bring him and introduce him to
"Certainly, if he is not stupid," said
Marjory, smiling. "There is John: I will make him come here before
you have captured your young man, and then we can be introduced
John, however, was talking biology or protoplasm or something
else to an interested listener on the other side of the room, and
was blind to all Marjory's "nods and becks and wreathèd
smiles." So, when the amiable old lady returned with her prize,
whom she appeared to have "captured" without either difficulty or
delay, Marjory had the introduction all to herself. She was not one
of those wonderful inventions, a girl who can meet a man's eyes
with a steady stare, and for the first few minutes after their
hostess left them she only noticed that her new acquaintance looked
and spoke like a gentleman, that he had a very pleasant voice, and
that, without being pedantic, he was not talking nonsense. Imagine
the sensation which took place in her head when, at some bright
speech from her antagonist—for they had immediately fallen
into an argument—she raised her laughing eyes to his face,
and saw—one of the youths who had fallen under her righteous
indignation on the memorable night of the gorilla lecture! Marjory
had what are called "speaking eyes." It afflicted her greatly that,
no matter what the emergency, her feelings would appear in her
face; so—although she struggled hard to go on as if nothing
had happened, resolving, after a hasty mental review of the
situation, to behave as if she had never seen him before, and upon
better acquaintance demand the truth if she liked him, and let him
severely alone if she did not—anybody could have seen her
countenance change, and to her intense chagrin she felt herself
blushing. To make matters worse, he blushed too, and over his
intelligent face flitted just the shadow of a smile.
This was too much! Marjory fanned herself vigorously, and
hazarded an original observation in a constrained voice. "Don't you
think it is very warm here?" she said.
"Very!" replied the student of nature. "Shall we walk in the
hall for a few minutes?" and he offered her his arm. She rested the
tips of her fingers on his sleeve, and they proceeded to walk up
and down the hall, she being saved only by her escort from
collision with various other couples similarly employed. This
interesting exercise lasted for some minutes, varied by attempts at
conversation which were about as natural as spasms. Marjory took a
desperate resolution. This absurd state of things should not last
much longer, if she could help it. "I never could act as if nothing
was the matter when something was," she began, "and I can't help it
if this is not polite; but I think, from what Mrs. Grove said about
you, that you will tell me the truth if I ask you something. Will
you?" and she looked up once more.
"Certainly I will," he answered gravely, meeting her glance with
steady, honest eyes, and somehow, short as their acquaintance had
been, she believed him.
She had meant to ask him deliberately if he or his companion, or
both, had stolen her gloves and decorated her face, but she felt
unable to do that with those eyes on hers; so she changed her
tactics, and said, rather meekly, considering what her former
feelings had been: "Will you please tell me exactly what happened
the evening that man lectured about the gorilla, and you sat nearly
in front of my brother and me?"
"That was your brother, then?" he said quickly, and then
stopped, looking a little foolish.
"Yes," she answered, with a surprised glance at his face; "but
you said you would answer."
"I beg your pardon," he replied. "I will, of course, and I know
you will believe me. After your brother left you, you leaned your
head against the pillar, and then, as if the grooving hurt your
face, you put your hand between; and then—I must apologize
for my apparent impoliteness, but I promised to tell the truth;"
and he smiled a little—"then you seemed to fall fast asleep.
A mosquito lit on your nose, and woke you. When you raised your
head, your cheek was quite black from your glove; you rubbed your
nose and made that black too; then you went to sleep again,
and directly a curl of your hair fell over your other cheek, and
woke you again, and you gave your cheek a little slap, thinking, I
suppose, that the mosquito had come back: that left the mark of
your fingers, and you rubbed it a little and made it yet blacker.
Then you took your gloves off and fell asleep again; and
then—you will believe now that I am telling you 'the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,' for I am risking your
displeasure by telling what came next;" and he flushed up to his
hair—"I made up my mind that it was my duty to secure those
gloves, and prevent thereby the possibility of such an accident in
the future. So I put my arm over the back of the seat carelessly,
and when nobody was looking I picked them up and pocketed them. It
was not I who laughed, but my brother, who did not notice your
face—after you had blackened it, that is—until he rose
to go, when he laughed involuntarily, and I collared him and took
him off. Now you know all about it, and I await my sentence. Can
you forgive me for stealing your gloves? The motive at least was
Marjory's face had cleared as this highly circumstantial
narrative progressed, and when it was finished she looked up
smiling. "Yes," she said, "I quite forgive you: the motive is
everything. But do please tell me, were you really so interested in
what that little gorilla said as you seemed to be? You were taking
notes, you know—I saw that before I went to sleep. Now what
was there that was worth making a note of? I am sure I heard
"Would you like to see my notes?" he asked, drawing a little
book from his waistcoat pocket.
"Yes, if they are not long," she answered doubtfully; "but Jack
will tell you how stupid I am on all such subjects as that."
He placed the book in her hand, open, and she saw a clever
sketch of herself and the pillar: underneath was written,
"Did you draw that?" she asked, smiling in spite of herself.
"Yes," he replied, answering her smile. "I am fond of sketching
from nature." Then, as he glanced at the picture, he added hastily,
"I forgot that absurd inscription: George, my brother, did
Marjory did not look deeply offended, even at the "absurd
inscription;" and the conversation continued, upon different and
indifferent subjects, until John bethought himself of his duty, and
came to find her. She introduced her squire to him, and after a few
minutes more of pleasant conversation they separated, Mr.
Owen—such was the natural philosopher's name—having
received John's assurance of a speedy call upon him, and given his
address with an alacrity which proved, John thought, that they were
As they walked home, John suddenly exclaimed, "You know I never
remember faces, Peg, but somehow I feel as if I had seen that
fellow before. He's an uncommonly good fellow, and Mrs. Grove says
he is very fond of my hobby, as you call it, so I shall go to see
Of course Marjory gave him an outline of her evening's adventure
"upon this hint," and he laughed heartily at the whole thing,
assuring her that he had never believed for a moment in such
an absurd possibility as she had fancied.
Well, what of it all? Nothing particular. Mr. Owen and John are
fast friends by this time. Marjory is beginning to take an interest
in natural history. Also, she has lost all faith in conviction upon
circumstantial evidence. She is "o'er young to marry yet," her aunt
thinks, and so do I of course, for this is not a love-story: I wish
that to be distinctly understood.