Infomotions, Inc.The Militants Stories of Some Parsons, Soldiers, and Other Fighters in the World / Andrews, Mary Raymond Shipman, 1860-1936



Author: Andrews, Mary Raymond Shipman, 1860-1936
Title: The Militants Stories of Some Parsons, Soldiers, and Other Fighters in the World
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): eleanor; lindsay; bishop; sally; dick; governor; philip
Contributor(s): Potter, Harry Spafford, 1873-1940 [Illustrator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 70,137 words (short) Grade range: 8-10 (high school) Readability score: 70 (easy)
Identifier: etext15496
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Title: The Militants
       Stories of Some Parsons, Soldiers, and Other Fighters in the World

Author: Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews

Release Date: March 29, 2005 [EBook #15496]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE MILITANTS ***




Produced by Kentuckiana Digital Library, David Garcia, Martin Pettit
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.






THE MILITANTS

_"The sword of the Lord and of Gideon."_




BOOKS BY MARY R.S. ANDREWS

PUBLISHED BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS



The Militants. Illustrated              $1.50

Bob and the Guides. Illustrated         $1.50

The Perfect Tribute. With Frontispiece  $0.50

Vive L'Empereur. Illustrated            $1.00



[Illustration: "I took her in my arms and held her."]




THE MILITANTS


STORIES OF SOME PARSONS, SOLDIERS

AND OTHER FIGHTERS IN THE WORLD


BY

MARY RAYMOND SHIPMAN ANDREWS


ILLUSTRATED


NEW YORK

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

1907

Published, May, 1907




     THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF A MAN WHO WAS WITH HIS
     WHOLE HEART A PRIEST AND WITH HIS WHOLE STRENGTH A SOLDIER OF THE
     CHURCH MILITANT.

     JACOB SHAW SHIPMAN




CONTENTS


   _I. The Bishop's Silence_

  _II. The Witnesses_

 _III. The Diamond Brooches_

  _IV. Crowned with Glory and Honor_

   _V. A Messenger_

  _VI. The Aide-de-Camp_

 _VII. Through the Ivory Gate_

_VIII. The Wife of the Governor_

  _IX. The Little Revenge_




ILLUSTRATIONS


_"I took her in my arms and held her"_

_"Many waters shall not wash out love", said Eleanor_

_He stared into the smoldering fire_

_"Look!" he said, and Miles swung about toward the ridge behind_

_"I got behind a turn and fired as a man came on alone"_

_"I reckon I shall have to ask you to not pick any more of those
roses," a voice said_

_"You see, the boat is very new and clean, Miss," he was saying_

_I felt myself pulled by two pairs of hands_




THE BISHOP'S SILENCE


The Bishop was walking across the fields to afternoon service. It was a
hot July day, and he walked slowly--for there was plenty of time--with
his eyes fixed on the far-off, shimmering sea. That minstrel of heat,
the locust, hidden somewhere in the shade of burning herbage, pulled a
long, clear, vibrating bow across his violin, and the sound fell lazily
on the still air--the only sound on earth except a soft crackle under
the Bishop's feet. Suddenly the erect, iron-gray head plunged madly
forward, and then, with a frantic effort and a parabola or two,
recovered itself, while from the tall grass by the side of the path
gurgled up a high, soft, ecstatic squeal. The Bishop, his face flushed
with the stumble and the heat and a touch of indignation besides,
straightened himself with dignity and felt for his hat, while his eyes
followed a wriggling cord that lay on the ground, up to a small brown
fist. A burnished head, gleaming in the sunshine like the gilded ball
on a church steeple, rose suddenly out of the waves of dry grass, and a
pink-ginghamed figure, radiant with joy and good-will, confronted him.
The Bishop's temper, roughly waked up by the unwilling and unepiscopal
war-dance just executed, fell back into its chains.

"Did you tie that string across the path?"

"Yes," The shining head nodded. "Too bad you didn't fell 'way down. I'm
sorry. But you kicked awf'ly."

"Oh! I did, did I?" asked the Bishop. "You're an unrepentant young
sinner. Suppose I'd broken my leg?"

The head nodded again. "Oh, we'd have patzed you up," she said
cheerfully. "Don't worry. Trust in God."

The Bishop jumped. "My child," he said, "who says that to you?"

"Aunt Basha." The innocent eyes faced him without a sign of
embarrassment. "Aunt Basha's my old black mammy. Do you know her? All
her name's longer'n that. I can say it." Then with careful, slow
enunciation, "Bathsheba Salina Mosina Angelica Preston."

"Is that your little bit of name too?" the Bishop asked, "Are you a
Preston?"

"Why, of course." The child opened her gray eyes wide. "Don't you know
my name? I'm Eleanor. Eleanor Gray Preston."

For a moment again the locust had it all to himself. High and insistent,
his steady note sounded across the hot, still world. The Bishop looked
down at the gray eyes gazing upward wonderingly, and through a mist of
years other eyes smiled at him. Eleanor Gray--the world is small, the
life of it persistent; generations repeat themselves, and each is young
but once. He put his hand under the child's chin and turned up the baby
face.

"Ah!" said he--if that may stand for the sound that stood for the
Bishop's reverie. "Ah! Whom were you named for, Eleanor Gray?"

"For my own muvver." Eleanor wriggled her chin from the big hand and
looked at him with dignity. She did not like to be touched by
strangers. Again the voices stopped and the locust sang two notes and
stopped also, as if suddenly awed.

"Your mother," repeated the Bishop, "your mother! I hope you are worthy
of the name."

"Yes, I am," said Eleanor heartily. "Bug's on your shoulder, Bishop! For
de Lawd's sake!" she squealed excitedly, in delicious high notes that a
prima donna might envy; then caught the fat grasshopper from the black
clerical coat, and stood holding it, lips compressed and the joy of
adventure dancing in her eyes. The Bishop took out his watch and looked
at it, as Eleanor, her soul on the grasshopper, opened her fist and
flung its squirming contents, with delicious horror, yards away. Half an
hour yet to service and only five minutes' walk to the little church of
Saint Peter's-by-the-Sea.

"Will you sit down and talk to me, Eleanor Gray?" he asked, gravely.

"Oh, yes, if there's time," assented Eleanor, "but you mustn't be late
to church, Bishop. That's naughty."

"I think there's time. How do you know who I am, Eleanor?"

"Dick told me."

The Bishop had walked away from the throbbing sunshine into the
green-black shadows of a tree, and seated himself with a boyish
lightness in piquant contrast with his gray-haired dignity--a lightness
that meant athletic years. Eleanor bent down the branch of a great bush
that faced him and sat on it as if a bird had poised there. She smiled
as their eyes met, and began to hum an air softly. The startled Bishop
slowly made out a likeness to the words of the old hymn that begins

    Am I a soldier of the Cross,
    A follower of the Lamb?

Sweetly and reverently she sang it, over and over, with a difference.

    Am I shoulder of a hoss,
    A quarter of a lamb?

sang Eleanor.

The Bishop exploded into a great laugh that drowned the music.

"Aunt Basha taught you that, too, didn't she?" he asked, and off he
went into another deep-toned peal.

"I thought you'd like that, 'cause it's a hymn and you're a Bishop,"
said Eleanor, approvingly. Her effort was evidently meeting with
appreciation. "You can talk to me now, I'm here." She settled herself
like a Brownie, elbows on knees, her chin in the hollows of small, lean
hands, and gazed at him unflinchingly.

"Thank you," said the Bishop, sobering at once, but laughter still in
his eyes. "Will you be kind enough to tell me then, Eleanor, who is
Dick?"

Eleanor looked astonished, "You don't know anybody much, do you?" and
there was gentle pity in her voice. "Why, Dick, he's--why, he's--why,
you see, he's my friend. I don't know his uvver names, but Mr. Fielding,
he's Dick's favver."

"Oh!" said the Bishop with comprehension. "Dick Fielding. Then Dick is
my friend, too. And people that are friends to the same people should
be friends to each other--that's geometry, Eleanor, though it's
possibly not life."

"Huh?" Eleanor stared, puzzled.

"Will you be friends with me, Eleanor Gray? I knew your mother a long
time ago, when she was Eleanor Gray." Eleanor yawned frankly. That might
be true, but it did not appear to her remarkable or interesting. The
deep voice went on, with a moment's interval. "Where is your mother? Is
she here?"

Eleanor laughed. "Oh, no," she said. "Don't you know? What a funny man
you are--you know such a few things. My muvver's up in heaven. She went
when I was a baby, long, _long_ ago. I reckon she must have flewed," she
added, reflectively, raising clear eyes to the pale, heat-worn sky that
gleamed through the branches.

The Bishop's big hands went up to his face suddenly, and the strong
fingers clasped tensely above his forehead. Between his wrists one could
see that his mouth was set in a hard line. "Dead!" he said. "And I never
knew it."

Eleanor dug a small russet heel unconcernedly into the ground.
"Naughty, naughty, naughty little grasshopper," she began to chant,
addressing an unconscious insect near the heel. "Don't you go and crawl
up on the Bishop. No, just don't you. 'Cause if you do, oh, naughty
grasshopper, I'll scrunch you!" with a vicious snap on the "scrunch."

The Bishop lowered his hands and looked at her. "I'm not being very
interesting, Eleanor, am I?"

"Not very," Eleanor admitted. "Couldn't you be some more int'rstin'?"

"I'll try," said the Bishop. "But be careful not to hurt the poor
grasshopper. Because, you know, some people say that if he is a good
grasshopper for a long time, then when he dies his little soul will go
into a better body--perhaps a butterfly's body next time."

Eleanor caught the thought instantly. "And if he's a good butterfly,
then what'll he be? A hummin'-bird? Let's kill him quick, and see him
turn into a butterfly."

"Oh, no, Eleanor, you can't force the situation. He has to live out his
little grasshopper life the best that he can, before he's good enough to
be a butterfly. If you kill him now you might send him backward. He
might turn into what he was before--a poor little blind worm perhaps."

"Oh, my Lawd!" said Eleanor.

The Bishop was still a moment, and then repeated, quietly:

    Slay not the meanest creature, lest thou slay
    Some humble soul upon its upward way.

"Oughtn't to talk to yourself," Eleanor shook her head disapprovingly.
"'Tisn't so very polite. Is that true about the grasshopper, Bishop, or
is it a whopper?"

The Bishop thought for a moment. "I don't know, Eleanor," he answered,
gently.

"You don't know so very much, do you?" inquired Eleanor, not as
despising but as wondering, sympathizing with ignorance.

"Very little," the Bishop agreed. "And I've tried to learn, all my
life"--his gaze wandered off reflectively.

"Too bad," said Eleanor. "Maybe you'll learn some time."

"Maybe," said the Bishop and smiled, and suddenly she sprang to her
feet, and shook her finger at him.

"I'm afraid," she said, "I'm very much afraid you're a naughty boy."

The Bishop looked up at the small, motherly face, bewildered. "Wh--why?"
he stammered.

"Do you know what you're bein'? You're bein' late to church!"

The Bishop sprang up too, at that, and looked at his watch quickly. "Not
late yet, but I'll walk along. Where are you going, waif? Aren't you in
charge of anybody?"

"Huh?" inquired Eleanor, her head cocked sideways.

"Whom did you come out with?"

"Madge and Dick, but they're off there," nodding toward the wood behind
them. "Madge is cryin'. She wouldn't let me pound Dick for makin' her,
so I went away."

"Who is Madge?"

Eleanor, drifting beside him through the sunshine like a rose-leaf on
the wind, stopped short. "Why, Bishop, don't you know even Madge? Funny
Bishop! Madge is my sister--she's grown up. Dick made her cry, but I
think he wasn't much naughty, 'cause she would _not_ let me pound him.
She put her arms right around him."

"Oh!" said the Bishop, and there was silence for a moment. "You mustn't
tell me any more about Madge and Dick, I think, Eleanor."

"All right, my lamb!" Eleanor assented, cheerfully, and conversation
flagged.

"How old are you, Eleanor Gray?"

"Six, praise de Lawd!"

The Bishop considered deeply for a moment, then his face cleared.

"'Their angels do always behold the face of my Father,'" and he smiled.
"I say it too, praise the Lord that she is six."

"Madge is lots more'n that," the soft little voice, with its gay,
courageous inflection, went on. "She's twenty. Isn't that old? You
aren't much different of that, are you?" and the heavy, cropped,
straight gold mass of her hair swung sideways as she turned her face up
to scrutinize the tall Bishop.

He smiled down at her. "Only thirty years different. I'm fifty,
Eleanor."

"Oh!" said Eleanor, trying to grasp the problem. Then with a sigh she
gave it up, and threw herself on the strength of maturity. "Is fifty
older'n twenty?" she asked.

More than once as they went side by side on the narrow foot-path across
the field the Bishop put out his hand to hold the little brown one near
it, but each time the child floated from his touch, and he smiled at the
unconscious dignity, the womanly reserve of the frank and friendly
little lady. "Thus far and no farther," he thought, with the quick
perception of character that was part of his power. But the Bishop was
as unconscious as the child of his own charm, of the magnetism in him
that drew hearts his way. Only once had it ever failed, and that was the
only time he had cared. But this time it was working fast as they walked
and talked together quietly, and when they reached the open door that
led from the fields into the little robing-room of Saint Peter's,
Eleanor had met her Waterloo. Being six, it was easy to say so, and she
did it with directness, yet without at all losing the dignity that was
breeding, that had come to her from generations, and that she knew of as
little as she knew the names of her bones. Three steps led to the
robing-room, and Eleanor flew to the top and turned, the childish figure
in its worn pink cotton dress facing the tall powerful one in sober
black broadcloth.

"I love you," she said. "I'll kiss you," and the long, strong little
arms were around his neck, and it seemed to the Bishop as if a kiss that
had never been given came to him now from the lips of the child of the
woman he had loved. As he put her down gently, from the belfry above
tolled suddenly a sweet, rolling note for service.

When the Bishop came out from church the "peace that passeth
understanding" was over him. The beautiful old words that to churchmen
are dear as their mothers' faces, haunting as the voices that make home,
held him yet in the last echo of their music. Peace seemed, too, to lie
across the world, worn with the day's heat, where the shadows were
stretching in lengthening, cooling lines. And there at the vestry step,
where Eleanor had stood an hour before, was Dick Fielding, waiting for
him, with as unhappy a face as an eldest scion, the heir to millions,
well loved, and well brought up, and wonderfully unspoiled, ever carried
about a country-side. The Bishop was staying at the Fieldings'. He
nodded and swung past Dick, with a look from the tail of his eye that
said: "Come along." Dick came, and silently the two turned into the path
of the fields. The scowl on Dick's dark face deepened as they walked,
and that was all there was by way of conversation for some time.
Finally:

"You don't know about it, do you, Bishop?" he asked.

"A very little, my boy," the Bishop answered.

Dick was on the defensive in a moment. "My father told you--you agree
with him?"

"Your father has told me nothing. I only came last night, remember. I
know that you made Madge cry, and that Eleanor wasn't allowed to punish
you."

The boyish face cleared a little, and he laughed. "That little rat! Has
she been talking? It's all right if it's only to you, but Madge will
have to cork her up." Then anxiety and unhappiness seized Dick's buoyant
soul again. "Bishop, let me talk to you, will you please? I'm knocked up
about this, for there's never been trouble between my father and me
before, and I can't give in. I know I'm right--I'd be a cad to give in,
and I wouldn't if I could. If you would only see your way to talking to
the governor, Bishop! He'll listen to you when he'd throw any other chap
out of the house."

"Tell me the whole story if you can, Dick, I don't understand, you see."

"I suppose it will sound rather commonplace to you," said Dick, humbly,
"but it means everything to me. I--I'm engaged to Madge Preston. I've
known her for a year, and been engaged half of it, and I ought to know
my own mind by now. But father has simply set his forefeet and won't
hear of it. Won't even let me talk to him about it."

Dick's hands went into his pockets and his head drooped, and his big
figure lagged pathetically. The Bishop put his hand on the young man's
shoulder, and left it there as they walked slowly on, but he said
nothing.

"It's her father, you know," Dick went on. "Such rot, to hold a girl
responsible for her ancestors! Isn't it rot, now? Father says they're a
bad stock, dissipated and arrogant and spendthrift and shiftless and
weak--oh, and a lot more! He's not stingy with his adjectives, bless
you! Picture to yourself Madge being dissipated and arrogant and--have
you seen Madge?" he interrupted himself.

The Bishop shook his head. "Eleanor made an attempt on my life with a
string across the path, to-day. We were friends over that."

"She's a winning little rat," said Dick, smiling absent-mindedly, "but
nothing to Madge. You'll understand when you see Madge how I couldn't
give her up. And it isn't so much that--my feeling for her--though
that's enough in all conscience, but picture to yourself, if you please,
a man going to a girl and saying: 'I'm obliged to give you up, because
my father threatens to disinherit me and kick me out of the business. He
objects because your father's a poor lot.' That's a nice line of conduct
to map out for your only son. Yet that's practically what my father
wishes me to do. But he's brought me up a gentleman, by George," said
Dick straightening himself, "and it's too late to ask me to be a beastly
cad. Besides that," and voice and figure drooped to despondency again,
"I just can't give her up."

The Bishop's keen eyes were on the troubled face, and in their depths
lurked a kindly shade of amusement. He could see stubborn old Dick
Fielding in stubborn young Dick Fielding so plainly. Dick the elder had
been his friend for forty years. But he said nothing. It was better to
let the boy talk himself out a bit. In a moment Dick began again.

"Can't see why the governor's so keen against Colonel Preston, anyway.
He's lost his money and made a mess of his life, and I rather fancy he
drinks too much. But he's the sort of man you can't help being proud
of--bad clothes and vices and all--handsome and charming and
thorough-bred--and father must know it. His children love him--he can't
be such a brute as the governor says. Anyway, I don't want to marry the
Colonel--what's the use of rowing about the Colonel?" inquired Dick,
desperately.

The Bishop asked a question now: "How many children are there?"

"Only Madge and Eleanor. They're here with their cousins, the Vails,
summers. Two or three died between those two, I believe. Lucky, perhaps,
for the family has been awfully hard up. Lived on in their big old
place, in Maryland, with no money at all. I've an idea Madge's mother
wasn't so sorry to die--had a hard life of it with the fascinating
Colonel." The Bishop's hand dropped from the boy's shoulder, and shut
tightly. "But that has nothing to do with my marrying Madge," Dick went
on.

"No," said the Bishop, shortly.

"And you see," said Dick, slipping to another tangent, "it's not the
money I'm keenest about, though of course I want that too, but it's
father. You believe I think more of my father than of his money, don't
you? We've been good friends all my life, and he's such a crackerjack
old fellow. I'd hate to get along without him." Dick sighed, from his
boots up--almost six feet. "Couldn't you give him a dressing down,
Bishop? Make him see reason?" He looked anxiously up the three inches
that the Bishop towered above him.

At ten o'clock the next morning Richard Fielding, owner of the great
Fielding Foundries, strolled out on his wide piazza, which, luxurious in
deep wicker chairs and Japanese rugs and light, cool furniture, looked
under scarlet and white awnings, across long boxes of geraniums and
vines, out to the sparkling Atlantic. The Bishop, a friendly light
coming into his thoughtful eyes, took his cigar from his lips and
glanced up at his friend. Mr. Fielding kicked a hassock aside, moved a
table between them, and settled himself in another chair, and with the
scratch of a match, but without a word spoken, they entered into the
companionship which had been a life-long joy to both.

"Father and the Bishop are having a song and dance without words," Dick
was pleased sometimes to say, and felt that he hit it off. The breeze
carried the scent of the tobacco in intermittent waves of fragrance, and
on the air floated delicately that subtle message of peace, prosperity,
and leisure which is part of the mission of a good cigar. The
pleasantness of the wide, cool piazza, with its flowers and vines and
gay awnings; the charm of the summer morning, not yet dulled by wear and
tear of the day; the steady, deliberate dash of the waves on the beach
below; the play and shimmer of the big, quiet water, stretching out to
the edge of the world; all this filled their minds, rested their souls.
There was no need for words. The Bishop sighed comfortably as he pushed
his great shoulders back against the cool wicker of the chair and swung
one long leg across the other. Fielding, chin up and lips rounded to let
out a cloud of smoke, rested his hand, cigar between the fingers, on the
table, and gazed at him satisfied. This was the man, after Dick, dearest
to him in the world. Into which peaceful Eden stole at this point the
serpent, and, as is usual, in the shape of woman. Little Eleanor,
long-legged, slim, fresh as a flower in her crisp, faded pink dress,
came around the corner. In one hot hand she carried, by their heads, a
bunch of lilac and pink and white sweet peas. It cost her no trouble at
all, and about half a minute of time, to charge the atmosphere, so full
of sweet peace and rest, with a saturated solution of bitterness and
disquiet. Her presence alone was a bombshell, and with a sentence or two
in her clear, innocent voice, the fell deed was done. Fielding stopped
smoking, his cigar in mid-air, and stared with a scowl at the child; but
Eleanor, delighted to have found the Bishop, saw only him. A shower of
crushed blossoms fell over his knees.

"I ran away from Aunt Basha. I brought you a posy for 'Good-mornin','"
she said. The Bishop, collecting the plunder, expressed gratitude. "Dick
picked a whole lot for Madge, and then they went walkin' and forgot 'em.
Isn't Dick funny?" she went on.

Mr. Fielding looked as if Dick's drollness did not appeal to him, but
the Bishop laughed, and put his arm around her.

"Will you give me a kiss, too, for 'Good-morning,'" he said; and then,
"That's better than the flowers. You had better run back to Aunt Basha
now, Eleanor--she'll be frightened."

Eleanor looked disappointed, "I wanted to ask you 'bout what dead
chickens gets to be, if they're good. Pups? Do you reckon it's pups?"

The theory of transmigration of souls had taken strong hold. Mr.
Fielding lost his scowl in a look of bewilderment, and the Bishop
frankly shouted out a big laugh.

"Listen, Eleanor. This afternoon I'll come for you to walk, and we'll
talk that all over. Go home now, my lamb." And Eleanor, like a pale-pink
over-sized butterfly, went.

"Do you know that child, Jim?" Mr. Fielding asked, grimly.

"Yes," answered the Bishop, with a serene pull at his cigar.

"Do you know she's the child of that good-for-nothing Fairfax Preston,
who married Eleanor Gray against her people's will and took her South
to--to--starve, practically?"

The Bishop drew a long breath, and then he turned and looked at his old
friend with a clear, wide gaze. "She's Eleanor Gray's child, too, Dick,"
he said.

Mr. Fielding was silent a moment. "Has the boy talked to you?" he asked.
The Bishop nodded. "It's the worst trouble I've ever had. It would kill
me to see him marry that man's daughter. I can't and won't resign myself
to it. Why should I? Why should Dick choose, out of all the world, the
one girl in it who would be insufferable to me. I can't give in about
this. Much as Dick is to me I'll let him go sooner. I hope you'll see
I'm right, Jim, but right or wrong, I've made up my mind."

The Bishop stretched a large, bony hand across the little table that
stood between them. Fielding's fell on it. Both men smoked silently for
a minute.

"Have you anything against the girl, Dick?" asked the Bishop, presently.

"That she's her father's daughter--it's enough. The bad blood of
generations is in her. I don't like the South--I don't like
Southerners. And I detest beyond words Fairfax Preston. But the girl is
certainly beautiful, and they say she is a good girl, too," he
acknowledged, gloomily.

"Then I think you're wrong," said the Bishop.

"You don't understand, Jim," Fielding took it up passionately. "That man
has been the _bete noir_ of my life. He has gotten in my way
half-a-dozen times deliberately, in business affairs, little as he
amounts to himself. Only two years ago--but that isn't the point after
all." He stopped gloomily. "You'll wonder at me, but it's an older feud
than that. I've never told anyone, but I want you to understand, Jim,
how impossible this affair is." He bit off the end of a fresh cigar,
lighted it and then threw it across the geraniums into the grass. "I
wanted to marry her mother," he said, brusquely. "That man got her. Of
course, I could have forgiven that, but it was the way he did it. He
lied to her--he threw it in my teeth that I had failed. Can't you see
how I shall never forgive him--never, while I live!" The intensity of a
life-long, silent hatred trembled in his voice.

"It's the very thing it's your business to do, Dick," said the Bishop,
quietly. "'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you'--what do you
think that means? It's your very case. It may be the hardest thing in
the world, but it's the simplest, most obvious." He drew a long puff at
his cigar, and looked over the flowers to the ocean.

"Simple! Obvious!" Fielding's voice was full of bitterness. "That's the
way with you churchmen! You live outside passions and temptations, and
then preach against them, with no faintest notion of their force. It
sounds easy, doesn't it? Simple and obvious, as you say. You never loved
Eleanor Gray, Jim; you never had to give her up to a man you knew
beneath her; you never had to shut murder out of your heart when you
heard that he'd given her a hard life and a glad death. Eleanor Gray! Do
you remember how lovely she was, how high-spirited and full of the joy
of life?" The Bishop's great figure was still as if the breath in it had
stopped, but Fielding, carried on the flood of his own rushing feeling,
did not notice. "Do you remember, Jim?" he repeated.

"I remember," the Bishop said, and his voice sounded very quiet.

"Jove! How calm you are!" exploded the other.

"You're a churchman; you live behind a wall, you hear voices through it,
but you can't be in the fight--it's easy for you."

"Life isn't easy for anyone, Dick," said the Bishop, slowly. "You know
that. I'm fighting the current as well as you. You are a churchman as
well as I. If it's my _metier_ to preach against human passion, it's
yours to resist it. You're letting this man you hate mould your
character; you're letting him burn the kindness out of your soul. He's
making you bitter and hard and unjust--and you're letting him. I thought
you had more will--more poise. It isn't your affair what he is, even
what he does, Dick--it's your affair to keep your own judgment unwarped,
your own heart gentle, your own soul untainted by the poison of hatred.
We are both churchmen, as you put it--loyalty is for us both. You live
your sermon--I say mine. I have said it. Now live yours. Put this
wormwood away from you. Forgive Preston, as you need forgiveness at
higher hands. Don't break the girl's heart, and spoil your boy's
life--it may spoil it--the leaven of bitterness works long. You're at a
parting of the ways--take the right turn. Do good and not evil with your
strength; all the rest is nothing. After all the years there is just one
thing that counts, and that our mothers told us when we were little
chaps together--be good, Dick."

The magnetic voice, that had swayed thousands, the indescribable trick
of inflection that caught the heart-strings, the pure, high personality
that shone through look and tone, had never, in all his brilliant
career, been more full of power than for this audience of one. Fielding
got up, trembling, and stood before him.

"Jim," he said, "whatever else is so, you are that--you are a good man.
The trouble is you want me to be as good as you are; and I can't. If you
had had temptations like mine, trials like mine, I might try to follow
you--I would try. But you haven't--you're an impossible model for me.
You want me to be an angel of light, and I'm only--a man." He turned
and went into the house.

The oldest inhabitant had not seen a devotion like the Bishop's and
Eleanor's. There was in it no condescension on one side, no strain on
the other. The soul that through fulness of life and sorrow and
happiness and effort had reached at last a child's peace met as its like
the little child's soul, that had known neither life nor sorrow nor
conscious happiness, and was without effort as a lily of the field. It
may be that the wisdom of babyhood and the wisdom of age will look very
alike to us when we have the wisdom of eternity. And as all the colors
of the spectrum make sunlight, so all his splendid powers that patient
years had made perfect shone through the Bishop's character in the white
light of simplicity. No one knew what they talked about, the child and
the man, on the long walks that they took together almost every day,
except from Eleanor's conversation after. Transmigration, done into the
vernacular, and applied with startling directness, was evidently a
fascinating subject from the first. She brought back as well a vivid
and epigrammatic version of the nebular hypothesis.

"Did you hear 'bout what the world did?" she demanded, casually, at the
lunch-table. "We were all hot, nasty steam, just like a tea-kettle, and
we cooled off into water, sailin' around so much, and then we got crusts
on us, bless de Lawd, and then, sir, we kept on gettin' solid, and
circus animals grewed all over us, and then they died, and thank God for
that, and Adam and Evenin' camed, and Madge _can't_ I have some more
gingerbread? I'd just as soon be a little sick if you'll let me have
it."

The "fairyland of science and the long results of time," passing from
the Bishop's hands into the child's, were turned into such graphic
tales, for Eleanor, with all her airy charm, struck straight from the
shoulder. Never was there a sense of superiority on the Bishop's side,
or of being lectured on Eleanor's.

"Why do you like to walk with the Bishop?" Mrs. Vail asked, curiously.

"Because he hasn't any morals," said the little girl, fresh from a
Sunday-school lesson.

Saturday night Mr. Fielding stayed late in the city, and Dick was with
his lady-love at the Vails; so the Bishop, after dining alone, went down
on the wide beach below the house and walked, as he smoked his cigar.
Through the week he had been restless under the constant prick of a duty
undone, which he could not make up his mind to do. Over and over he
heard his friend's agitated voice. "If you had had temptations like
mine, trials like mine, I would try to follow you," it said. He knew
that the man would be good as his word. He could perhaps win Dick's
happiness for him if he would pick up the gauntlet of that speech. If he
could bring himself to tell Fielding the whole story that he had shut so
long ago into silence--that he, too, had cared for Eleanor Gray, and had
given her up in a harder way than the other, for the Bishop had made it
possible that the Southerner should marry her. But it was like tearing
his soul to do it. No one but his mother, who was dead, had known this
one secret of a life like crystal. The Bishop's reticence was the
intense sort, that often goes with a frank exterior, and he had never
cared for another woman. Some men's hearts are open pleasure-grounds,
where all the world may come and go, and the earth is dusty with many
feet; and some are like theatres, shut perhaps to the world in general,
but which a passport of beauty or charm may always open; and with many,
of finer clay, there are but two or three ways into a guarded temple,
and only the touchstone of quality may let pass the lightest foot upon
the carefully tended sod. But now and then a heart is Holy of Holies.
Long ago the Bishop, lifting a young face from the books that absorbed
him, had seen a girl's figure filling the narrow doorway, and dazzled by
the radiance of it, had placed that image on the lonely altar, where the
flame waited, before unconsecrated. Then the girl had gone, and he had
quietly shut the door and lived his life outside. But the sealed place
was there, and the fire burned before the old picture. Why should he,
for Dick Fielding, for any one, let the light of day upon that
stillness? The one thing in life that was his own, and all these years
he had kept it sacred--why should he? Fiercely, with the old animal
jealousy of ownership, he guarded for himself that memory--what was
there on earth that could make him share it? And in answer there rose
before him the vision of Madge Preston, with a haunting air of her
mother about her; of young Dick Fielding, almost his own child from
babyhood, his honest soul torn between two duties; of old Dick Fielding,
loyal and kind and obstinate, his stubborn feet, the feet that had
walked near his for forty years, needing only a touch to turn them into
the right path.

Back and forth the thoughts buffeted each other, and the Bishop sighed,
and threw away his cigar, and then stopped and stared out at the
darkening, great ocean. The steady rush and pause and low wash of
retreat did not calm him to-night.

"I'd like to turn it off for five minutes. It's so eternally right," he
said aloud and began to walk restlessly again.

Behind him came light steps, but he did not hear them on the soft sand,
in the noise of a breaking wave. A small, firm hand slipped into his was
the first that he knew of another presence, and he did not need to look
down at the bright head to know it was Eleanor, and the touch thrilled
him in his loneliness. Neither spoke, but swung on across the sand, side
by side, the child springing easily to keep pace with his great step.
Beside the gift of English, Eleanor had its comrade gift of excellent
silence. Those who are born to know rightly the charm and the power and
the value of words, know as well the value of the rests in the music.
Little Eleanor, her nervous fingers clutched around the Bishop's big
thumb, was pouring strength and comfort into him, and such an instinct
kept her quiet.

So they walked for a long half-hour, the Bishop fighting out his battle,
sometimes stopping, sometimes talking aloud to himself, but Eleanor,
through it all, not speaking. Once or twice he felt her face laid
against his hand, and her hair that brushed his wrist, and the savage
selfishness of reserve slowly dissolved in the warmth of that light
touch and the steady current of gentleness it diffused through him.
Clearly and more clearly he saw his way and, as always happens, as he
came near to the mountain, the mountain grew lower. "Over the Alps lies
Italy." Why should he count the height when the Italy of Dick's
happiness and Fielding's duty done lay beyond? The clean-handed,
light-hearted disregard of self that had been his habit of mind always
came flooding back like sunshine as he felt his decision made. After
all, doing a duty lies almost entirely in deciding to do it. He stooped
and picked Eleanor up in his arms.

"Isn't the baby sleepy? We've settled it together--it's all right now,
Eleanor. I'll carry you back to Aunt Basha."

"Is it all right now?" asked Eleanor, drowsily. "No, I'll walk," kicking
herself downward. "But you come wiv me." And the Bishop escorted his
lady-love to her castle, where the warden, Aunt Basha, was for this half
hour making night vocal with lamentations for the runaway.

"Po' lil lamb!" said Aunt Basha, with an undisguised scowl at the
Bishop. "Seems like some folks dunno nuff to know a baby's bedtime.
Seems like de Lawd's anointed wuz in po' business, ti'in' out chillens!"

"I'm sorry, Aunt Basha," said the Bishop, humbly. "I'll bring her back
earlier again. I forgot all about the time."

"Huh!" was all the response that Aunt Basha vouchsafed, and the Bishop,
feeling himself hopelessly in the wrong, withdrew in discreet silence.

Luncheon was over the next day and the two men were quietly smoking
together in the hot, drowsy quiet of the July mid-afternoon before the
Bishop found a chance to speak to Fielding alone. There was an hour and
a half before service, and this was the time to say his say, and he
gathered himself for it, when suddenly the tongue of the ready speaker,
the _savoir faire_ of the finished man of the world, the mastery of
situations which had always come as easily as his breath, all failed him
at once.

"Dick," he stammered, "there is something I want to tell you," and he
turned on his friend a face which astounded him.

"What on earth is it? You look as if you'd been caught stealing a hat,"
he responded, encouragingly.

The Bishop felt his heart thumping as that healthy organ had not
thumped for years. "I feel a bit that way," he gasped. "You remember
what we were talking of the other day?"

"The other day--talking--" Fielding looked bewildered. Then his face
darkened. "You mean Dick--the affair with that girl." His voice was at
once hard and unresponsive. "What about it?"

"Not at all," said the Bishop, complainingly. "Don't misunderstand like
that, Dick--it's so much harder."

"Oh!" and Fielding's look cleared. "Well, what is it then, old man? Out
with it--want a check for a mission? Surely you don't hesitate to tell
me that! Whatever I have is yours, too--you know it."

The Bishop looked deeply disgusted. "Muddlehead!" was his unexpected
answer, and Fielding, serene in the consciousness of generosity and good
feeling, looked as if a hose had been turned on him.

"What the devil!" he said. "Excuse me, Jim, but just tell me what you're
after. I can't make you out."

"It's most difficult." The Bishop seemed to articulate with trouble.
"It was so long ago, and I've never spoken of it." Fielding, mouth and
eyes wide, watched him as he stumbled on. "There were three of us, you
see--though, of course, you didn't know. Nobody knew. She told my
mother, that was all.--Oh, I'd no idea how difficult this would be," and
the Bishop pushed back his damp hair and gasped again. Suddenly a wave
of color rushed over his face.

"No one could help it, Dick," he said. "She was so lovely, so exquisite,
so--"

Fielding rose quickly and put his hand on his friend's forehead, "Jim,
my dear boy," he said gravely, "this heat has been too much for you. Sit
there quietly, while I get some ice. Here, let me loosen your collar,"
and he put his fingers on the white clerical tie.

Then the Bishop rose up in his wrath and shook him off, and his deep
blue eyes flashed fire.

"Let me alone," he said. "It is inexplicable to me how a man can be so
dense. Haven't I explained to you in the plainest way what I have never
told another soul? Is this the reward I am to have for making the
greatest effort I have made for years?" And after a moment's steady,
indignant glare at the speechless Fielding he turned and strode in angry
majesty through the wide hall doorway.

When he walked out of the same doorway an hour later, on his way to
service, Fielding sat back in a shadowy corner and let him pass without
a word. He watched critically the broad shoulders and athletic figure as
his friend moved down the narrow walk--a body carefully trained to hold
well and easily the trained mind within. But the careless energy that
was used to radiate from the great elastic muscles seemed lacking
to-day, and the erect head drooped. Fielding shook his own head as the
Bishop turned the corner and went out of his view.

"'_Mens sana in corpore sano_,'" he said aloud, and sighed. "He has
worked too hard this summer. I never saw him like that. If he should--"
and he stopped; then he rose, and looked at his watch and slowly
followed the Bishop's steps.

The little church of Saint Peter's-by-the-Sea was filled even on this
hot July afternoon, to hear the famous Bishop, and in the half-light
that fell through painted windows and lay like a dim violet veil against
the gray walls, the congregation with summer gowns and flowery hats, had
a billowy effect as of a wave tipped everywhere with foam. Fielding,
sitting far back, saw only the white-robed Bishop, and hardly heard the
words he said, through listening for the modulations of his voice. He
was anxious for the man who was dear to him, and the service and its
minister were secondary to-day. But gradually the calm, reverent,
well-known tones reassured him, and he yielded to the pleasure of
letting his thoughts be led, by the voice that stood to him for
goodness, into the spirit of the words that are filled with the beauty
of holiness. At last it was time for the sermon, and the Bishop towered
in the low stone pulpit and turned half away from them all as he raised
one arm high with a quick, sweeping gesture.

"In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen!"
he said, and was still.

A shaft of yellow light fell through a memorial window and struck a
golden bar against the white lawn of his surplice, and Fielding, staring
at him with eyes of almost passionate devotion, thought suddenly of Sir
Galahad, and of that "long beam" down which had "slid the Holy Grail."
Surely the flame of that old vigorous Christianity had never burned
higher or steadier. A marvellous life for this day, kept, like the
flower of Knighthood, strong and beautiful and "unspotted from the
world." Fielding sighed as he thought of his own life, full of good
impulses, but crowded with mistakes, with worldliness, with lowered
ideals, with yieldings to temptation. Then, with a pang, he thought
about Dick, about the crisis for him that the next week must bring, and
he heard again the Bishop's steady, uncompromising words as they talked
on the piazza. And on a wave of selfish feeling rushed back the old
excuses. "It is different. It is easy for him to be good. Dick is not
his son. He has never been tempted like other men. He never hated
Fairfax Preston--he never loved Eleanor Gray." And back somewhere in the
dark places of his consciousness began to work a dim thought of his
friend's puzzling words of that day: "No one could help loving her--she
was so lovely--so exquisite!"

The congregation rustled softly everywhere as the people settled
themselves to listen--they listened always to him. And across the hush
that followed came the Bishop's voice again, tranquilly breaking, not
jarring, the silence. "Not disobedient to the heavenly vision," were the
words he was saying, and Fielding dropped at once the thread of his own
thought to listen.

He spoke quickly, clearly, in short Anglo-Saxon words--the words that
carry their message straightest to hearts red with Saxon blood--of the
complex nature of every man--how the angel and the demon live in each
and vary through all the shades of good and bad. How yet in each there
is always the possibility of a highest and best that can be true for
that personality only--a dream to be realized of the lovely life,
blooming into its own flower of beauty, that God means each life to be.
In his own rushing words he clothed the simple thought of the charge
that each one has to keep his angel strong, the white wings free for
higher flights that come with growth.

"The vision," he said, "is born with each of us, and though we lose it
again and again, yet again and again it comes back and beckons, calls,
and the voice thrills us always. And we must follow, or lose the way.
Through ice and flame we must follow. And no one may look across where
another soul moves on a quick, straight path and think that the way is
easier for the other. No one can see if the rocks are not cutting his
friend's feet; no one can know what burning lands he has crossed to
follow, to be so close to his angel, his messenger. Believe always that
every other life has been more tempted, more tried than your own;
believe that the lives higher and better than your own are so not
through more ease, but more effort; that the lives lower than yours are
so through less opportunity, more trial. Believe that your friend with
peace in his heart has won it, not happened on it--that he has fought
your very fight. So the mist will melt from your eyes and you will see
clearer the vision of your life and the way it leads you; selfishness
will fall from your shoulders and you will follow lightly. And at the
end, and along the way you will have the glory of effort, the joy of
fighting and winning, the beauty of the heights where only an ideal can
take you."

What more he said Fielding did not hear--for him one sentence had been
the final word. The unlaid ghost of the Bishop's puzzling talk an hour
before rose up and from its lips came, as if in full explanation, "He
has fought your very fight." He sat in his shadowy, dark corner of the
cool, little stone church, and while the congregation rose and knelt and
sang and prayed, he was still. Piece by piece he fitted the mosaic of
past and present, and each bit slipped faultlessly into place. There was
no question in his mind now as to the fact, and his manliness and honor
rushed to meet the situation. He had said that where his friend had gone
he would go. If it was down the road of renunciation of a life-long
enmity, he would not break his word. Complex problems resolve themselves
at the point of action into such simple axioms. Dick should have a
blessing and his sweetheart; he would do his best for Fairfax Preston;
with his might he would keep his word. A great sigh and a wrench at his
heart as if a physical growth of years were tearing away, and the
decision was made. Then, in a mist of pain and effort, and a surprised
new freedom from the accustomed pang of hatred, he heard the rustle and
movement of a kneeling congregation, and, as he looked, the Bishop
raised his arms. Fielding bent his gray head quickly in his hands, and
over it, laden with "peace" and "the blessing of God Almighty," as if a
general commended his soldier on the field of battle, swept the solemn
words of the benediction.

Peace touched the earth on the blue and white September day when Madge
and Dick were married. Pearly piled-up clouds, white "herded elephants,"
lay still against a sparkling sky, and the air was alive like cool wine,
and breathing warm breaths of sunlight. No wedding was ever gayer or
prettier, from the moment when the smiling holiday crowd in little Saint
Peter's caught their breath at the first notes of "Lohengrin" and
turned to see Eleanor, white-clad and solemn, and impressed with
responsibility, lead the procession slowly up the aisle, her eyes raised
to the Bishop's calm face in the chancel, to the moment when, in showers
of rice and laughter and slippers, the Fielding carriage dashed down the
driveway, and Dick, leaning out, caught for a last picture of his
wedding-day, standing apart from the bright colors grouped on the lawn,
the black and white of the Bishop and Eleanor, gazing after them, hand
in hand.

Bit by bit the brilliant kaleidoscopic effect fell apart and resolved
itself into light groups against the dark foliage or flashing masses of
carriages and people and horses, and then even the blurs on the distance
were gone, and the place was still and the wedding was over. The long
afternoon was before them, with its restless emptiness, as if the bride
and groom had taken all the reason for life with them.

There were bridesmaids and ushers staying at the Fieldings'. The
graceful girl who poured out the Bishop's tea on the piazza, some hours
later, and brought it to him with her own hands, stared a little at his
face for a moment.

"You look tired, Bishop. Is it hard work marrying people? But you must
be used to it after all these years," and her blue eyes fell gently on
his gray hair. "So many love-stories you have finished--so many, many!"
she went on, and then quite softly, "and yet never to have a love-story
of your own!"

At this instant Eleanor, lolling on the arm of his chair, slipped over
on his knee and burrowed against his coat a big pink bow that tied her
hair. The Bishop's arm tightened around the warm, alive lump of white
muslin, and he lifted his face, where lines showed plainly to-day, with
a smile like sunshine.

"You are wrong, my daughter. They never finish--they only begin here.
And my love-story"--he hesitated and his big fingers spread over the
child's head, "It is all written in Eleanor's eyes."

"I hope when mine comes I shall have the luck to hear anything half as
pretty as that. I envy Eleanor," said the graceful bridesmaid as she
took the tea-cup again, but the Bishop did not hear her.

[Illustration: "Many waters shall not wash out this love," said Eleanor]

He had turned toward the sea and his eyes wandered out across the
geraniums where the shadow of a sun-filled cloud lay over uncounted
acres of unhurried waves. His face was against the little girl's bright
head, and he said something softly to himself, and the child turned her
face quickly and smiled at him and repeated the words:

"Many waters shall not wash out love," said Eleanor.




THE WITNESSES


The old clergyman sighed and closed the volume of "Browne on The
Thirty-nine Articles," and pushed it from him on the table. He could not
tell what the words meant; he could not keep his mind tense enough to
follow an argument of three sentences. It must be that he was very
tired. He looked into the fire, which was burning badly, and about the
bare, little, dusty study, and realized suddenly that he was tired all
the way through, body and soul. And swiftly, by way of the leak which
that admission made in the sea-wall of his courage, rushed in an ocean
of depression. It had been a hard, bad day. Two people had given up
their pews in the little church which needed so urgently every ounce of
support that held it. And the junior warden, the one rich man of the
parish, had come in before service in the afternoon to complain of the
music. If that knife-edged soprano did not go, he said, he was afraid he
should have to go himself; it was impossible to have his nerves scraped
to the raw every Sunday.

The old clergyman knew very little about music, but he remembered that
his ear had been uncomfortably jarred by sounds from the choir, and that
he had turned once and looked at them, and wondered if some one had made
a mistake, and who it was. It must be, then, that dear Miss Barlow, who
had sung so faithfully in St. John's for twenty-five years, was perhaps
growing old. But how could he tell her so; how could he deal such a blow
to her kind heart, her simple pride and interest in her work? He was
growing old, too.

His sensitive mouth carved downward as he stared into the smoldering
fire, and let himself, for this one time out of many times he had
resisted, face the facts. It was not Miss Barlow and the poor music; it
was not that the church was badly heated, as one of the ex-pewholders
had said, nor that it was badly situated, as another had claimed; it was
something of deeper, wider significance, a broken foundation, that made
the ugly, widening crack all through the height of the tower. It was
his own inefficiency. The church was going steadily down, and he was
powerless to lift it. His old enthusiasm, devotion, confidence--what had
become of them? They seemed to have slipped by slow degrees, through the
unsuccessful years, out of his soul, and in their place was a dull
distrust of himself; almost--God forgive him--distrust in God's
kindness. He had worked with his might all the years of his life, and
what he had to show for it was a poor, lukewarm parish, a diminished
congregation, debt--to put it in one dreadful word, failure!

[Illustration: He stared into the smoldering fire.]

By the pitiless searchlight of hopelessness, he saw himself for the
first time as he was--surely devoted and sincere, but narrow, limited, a
man lacking outward expression of inward and spiritual grace. He had
never had the gift to win hearts. That had not troubled him much,
earlier, but lately he had longed for a little appreciation, a little
human love, some sign that he had not worked always in vain. He
remembered the few times that people had stopped after service to praise
his sermons, and to-night he remembered not so much the glow at his
heart that the kind words had brought, as the fact that those times had
been very few. He did not preach good sermons; he faced that now,
unflinchingly. He was not broad minded; new thoughts were unattractive,
hard for him to assimilate; he had championed always theories that were
going out of fashion, and the half-consciousness of it put him ever on
the defensive; when most he wished to be gentle, there was something in
his manner which antagonized. As he looked back over his colorless,
conscientious past, it seemed to him that his life was a failure. The
souls he had reached, the work he had done with such infinite effort--it
might all have been done better and easily by another man. He would not
begrudge his strength and his years burned freely in the sacred fire, if
he might know that the flame had shone even faintly in dark places, that
the heat had warmed but a little the hearts of men. But--he smiled
grimly at the logs in front of him, in the small, cheap, black marble
fireplace--his influence was much like that, he thought, cold, dull,
ugly with uncertain smoke. He, who was not worthy, had dared to
consecrate himself to a high service, and it was his reasonable
punishment that his life had been useless.

Like a stab came back the thought of the junior warden, of the two more
empty pews, and then the thought, in irresistible self-pity, of how hard
he had tried, how well he had meant, how much he had given up, and he
felt his eyes filling with a man's painful, bitter tears. There had been
so little beauty, reward, in his whole past. Once, thirty years before,
he had gone abroad for six weeks, and he remembered the trip with a
thrill of wonder that anything so lovely could have come into his sombre
life--the voyage, the bit of travel, the new countries, the old cities,
the expansion, broadening of mind he had felt for a time as its result.
More than all, the delight of the people whom he had met, the unused
experience of being understood at once, of light touch and easy
flexibility, possible, as he had not known before, with good and serious
qualities. One man, above all, he had never forgotten. It had been a
pleasant memory always to have known him, to have been friends with him
even, for he had felt to his own surprise and joy that something in him
attracted this man of men. He had followed the other's career, a career
full of success unabused, of power grandly used, of responsibility
lifted with a will. He stood over thousands and ruled rightly--a true
prince among men. Somewhat too broad, too free in his thinking--the old
clergyman deplored that fault--yet a man might not be perfect. It was
pleasant to know that this strong and good soul was in the world and was
happy; he had seen him once with his son, and the boy's fine, sensitive
face, his honest eyes, and pretty deference of manner, his pride, too,
in his distinguished father, were surely a guaranty of happiness. The
old man felt a sudden generous gladness that if some lives must be
wasted, yet some might be, like this man's whom he had once known, full
of beauty and service. It would be good if he might add a drop to the
cup of happiness which meant happiness to so many--and then he smiled at
his foolish thought. That he should think of helping that other--a man
of so little importance to help a man of so much! And suddenly again he
felt tears that welled up hotly.

He put his gray head, with its scanty, carefully brushed hair, back
against the support of the worn armchair, and shut his eyes to keep them
back. He would try not to be cowardly. Then, with the closing of the
soul-windows, mental and physical fatigue brought their own gentle
healing, and in the cold, little study, bare, even, of many books, with
the fire smoldering cheerlessly before him, he fell asleep.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few miles away, in a suburb of the same great city, in a large library
peopled with books, luxurious with pictures and soft-toned rugs and
carved dark furniture, a man sat staring into the fire. The six-foot
logs crackled and roared up the chimney, and the blaze lighted the wide,
dignified room. From the high chimney-piece, that had been the feature
of a great hall in Florence two centuries before, grotesque heads of
black oak looked down with a gaze which seemed weighted with age-old
wisdom and cynicism, at the man's sad face. The glow of the lamp,
shining like a huge gray-green jewel, lighted unobtrusively the generous
sweep of table at his right hand, and on it were books whose presence
meant the thought of a scholar and the broad interests of a man of
affairs. Each detail of the great room, if there had been an observer of
its quiet perfection, had an importance of its own, yet each exquisite
belonging fell swiftly into the dimness of the background of a picture
when one saw the man who was the master. Among a thousand picked men,
his face and figure would have been distinguished. People did not call
him old, for the alertness and force of youth radiated from him, and his
gray eyes were clear and his color fresh, yet the face was lined
heavily, and the thick thatch of hair shone in the firelight silvery
white. Face and figure were full of character and breeding, of life
lived to its utmost, of will, responsibility, success. Yet to-night the
spring of the mechanism seemed broken, and the noble head lay back
against the brown leather of his deep chair as listlessly as a tired
girl's. He watched the dry wood of the fire as it blazed and fell apart
and blazed up brightly again, yet his eyes did not seem to see
it--their absorbed gaze was inward.

The distant door of the room swung open, but the man did not hear, and,
his head and face clear cut like a cameo against the dark leather, hands
stretched nervelessly along the arms of the chair, eyes gazing gloomily
into the heart of the flame, he was still. A young man, brilliant with
strength, yet with a worn air about him, and deep circles under his
eyes, stood inside the room and looked at him a long minute--those two
in the silence. The fire crackled cheerfully and the old man sighed.

"Father!" said the young man by the door.

In a second the whole pose changed, and he sat intense, staring, while
the son came toward him and stood across the rug, against the dark wood
of the Florentine fireplace, a picture of young manhood which any father
would he proud to own.

"Of course, I don't know if you want me, father," he said, "but I've
come to tell you that I'll be a good boy, if you do."

The gentle, half-joking manner was very winning, and the play of his
words was trembling with earnest. The older man's face shone as if lamps
were lighted behind his eyes.

"If I want you, Ted!" he said, and held out his hand.

With a quick step forward the lad caught it, and then, with quick
impulsiveness, as if his childhood came back to him on the flood of
feeling unashamed, bent down and kissed him. As he stood erect again he
laughed a little, but the muscles of his face were working, and there
were tears in his eyes. With a swift movement he had drawn a chair, and
the two sat quiet a moment, looking at each other in deep and silent
content to be there so, together.

"Yesterday I thought I'd never see you again this way," said the boy;
and his father only smiled at him, satisfied as yet without words. The
son went on, his eager, stirred feelings crowding to his lips. "There
isn't any question great enough, there isn't any quarrel big enough, to
keep us apart, I think, father. I found that out this afternoon. When a
chap has a father like you, who has given him a childhood and a youth
like mine--" The young voice stopped, trembling. In a moment he had
mastered himself. "I'll probably never be able to talk to you like this
again, so I want to say it all now. I want to say that I know, beyond
doubt, that you would never decide anything, as I would, on impulse, or
prejudice, or from any motives but the highest. I know how well-balanced
you are, and how firmly your reason holds your feelings. So it's a
question between your judgment and mine--and I'm going to trust yours.
You may know me better than I know myself, and anyway you're more to me
than any career, though I did think--but we won't discuss it again. It
would have been a tremendous risk, of course, and it shall be as you
say. I found out this afternoon how much of my life you were," he
repeated.

The older man kept his eyes fixed on the dark, sensitive, glowing young
face, as if they were thirsty for the sight. "What do you mean by
finding it out this afternoon, Ted? Did anything happen to you?"

The young fellow turned his eyes, that were still a bit wet with the
tears, to his father's face, and they shone like brown stars. "It was a
queer thing," he said, earnestly, "It was the sort of thing you read in
stories--almost like," he hesitated, "like Providence, you know. I'll
tell you about it; see if you don't think so. Two days ago, when I--when
I left you, father--I caught a train to the city and went straight to
the club, from habit, I suppose, and because I was too dazed and
wretched to think. Of course, I found a grist of men there, and they
wouldn't let me go. I told them I was ill, but they laughed at me. I
don't remember just what I did, for I was in a bad dream, but I was
about with them, and more men I knew kept turning up--I couldn't seem to
escape my friends. Even if I stayed in my room, they hunted me up. So
this morning I shifted to the Oriental, and shut myself up in my room
there, and tried to think and plan. But I felt pretty rotten, and I
couldn't see daylight, so I went down to lunch, and who should be at the
next table but the Dangerfields, the whole outfit, just back from
England and bursting with cheerfulness! They made me lunch with them,
and it was ghastly to rattle along feeling as I did, but I got away as
soon us I decently could--rather sooner, I think--and went for a walk,
hoping the air would clear my head. I tramped miles--oh, a long time,
but it seemed not to do any good; I felt deadlier and more hopeless than
ever--I haven't been very comfortable fighting you," he stopped a
minute, and his tired face turned to his father's with a smile of very
winning gentleness.

The father tried to speak, but, his voice caught harshly. Then, "We'll
make it up, Ted," he said, and laid his hand on the boy's shoulder.

The young fellow, as if that touch had silenced him, gazed into the fire
thoughtfully, and the big room was very still for a long minute. Then he
looked up brightly.

"I want to tell you the rest. I came back from my tramp by the river
drive, and suddenly I saw Griswold on his horse trotting up the
bridle-path toward me. I drew the line at seeing any more men, and
Griswold is the worst of the lot for wanting to do things, so I turned
into a side-street and ran. I had an idea he had seen me, so when I
came to a little church with the doors open, in the first half-block, I
shot in. Being Lent, you know, there was service going on, and I dropped
quietly into a seat at the back, and it came to me in a minute, that I
was in fit shape to say my prayers, so--I said 'em. It quieted me a bit,
the old words of the service. They're fine English, of course, and I
think words get a hold on you when they're associated with every turn of
your life. So I felt a little less like a wild beast, by the time the
clergyman began his sermon. He was a pathetic old fellow, thin and
ascetic and sad, with a narrow forehead and a little white hair, and an
underfed look about him. The whole place seemed poor and badly kept. As
he walked across the chancel, he stumbled on a hole in the carpet. I
stared at him, and suddenly it struck me that he must be about your age,
and it was like a knife in me, father, to see him trip. No two men were
ever more of a contrast, but through that very fact he seemed to be
standing there as a living message from you. So when he opened his mouth
to give out his text I fell back as if he had struck me, for the words
he said were, 'I will arise and go to my father.'"

The boy's tones, in the press and rush of his little story, were
dramatic, swift, and when he brought out its climax, the older man,
though his tense muscles were still, drew a sudden breath, as if he,
too, had felt a blow. But he said nothing, and the eager young voice
went on.

"The skies might have opened and the Lord's finger pointed at me, and I
couldn't have felt more shocked. The sermon was mostly tommy-rot, you
know--platitudes. You could see that the man wasn't clever--had no
grasp--old-fashioned ideas--didn't seem to have read at all. There was
really nothing in it, and after a few sentences I didn't listen
particularly. But there were two things about it I shall never forget,
never, if I live to a hundred. First, all through, at every tone of his
voice, there was the thought that the brokenhearted look in the eyes of
this man, such a contrast to you in every way possible, might be the
very look in your eyes after a while, if I left you. I think I'm not
vain to know I make a lot of difference to you, father--considering we
two are all alone." There was a questioning inflection, but he smiled,
as if he knew.

"You make all the difference. You are the foundation of my life. All the
rest counts for nothing beside you." The father's voice was slow and
very quiet.

"That thought haunted me," went on the young man, a bit unsteadily, "and
the contrast of the old clergyman and you made it seem as if you were
there beside me. It sounds unreasonable, but it was so. I looked at him,
old, poor, unsuccessful, narrow-minded, with hardly even the dignity of
age, and I couldn't help seeing a vision of you, every year of your life
a glory to you, with your splendid mind, and splendid body, and all the
power and honor and luxury that seem a natural background to you. Proud
as I am of you, it seemed cruel, and then it came to my mind like a stab
that perhaps without me, your only son, all of that would--well, what
you said just now. Would count for nothing--that you would be
practically, some day, just a lonely and pathetic old man like that
other."

The hand on the boy's shoulder stirred a little. "You thought right,
Ted."

"That was one impression the clergyman's sermon made, and the other was
simply his beautiful goodness. It shone from him at every syllable,
uninspired and uninteresting as they were. You couldn't help knowing
that his soul was white as an angel's. Such sincerity, devotion, purity
as his couldn't be mistaken. As I realized it, it transfigured the whole
place. It made me feel that if that quality--just goodness--could so
glorify all the defects of his look and mind and manner, it must be
worth while, and I would like to have it. So I knew what was right in my
heart--I think you can always know what's right if you want to know--and
I just chucked my pride and my stubbornness into the street, and--and I
caught the 7:35 train."

The light of renunciation, the exhaustion of wrenching effort, the
trembling triumph of hard-won victory, were in the boy's face, and the
thought, as he looked at it, dear and familiar in every shadow, that he
had never seen spirit shine through clay more transparently. Never in
their lives had the two been as close, never had the son so unveiled his
soul before. And, as he had said, in all probability never would it be
again. To the depth where they stood words could not reach, and again
for minutes, only the friendly undertone of the crackling fire stirred
the silence of the great room. The sound brought steadiness to the two
who sat there, the old hand on the young shoulder yet. After a time, the
older man's low and strong tones, a little uneven, a little hard with
the effort to be commonplace, which is the first readjustment from deep
feeling, seemed to catch the music of the homely accompaniment of the
fire.

"It is a queer thing, Ted," he said, "but once, when I was not much
older than you, just such an unexpected chance influence made a crisis
in my life. I was crossing to England with the deliberate intention of
doing something which I knew was wrong. I thought it meant happiness,
but I know now it would have meant misery. On the boat was a young
clergyman of about my own age making his first, very likely his only,
trip abroad. I was thrown with him--we sat next each other at table, and
our cabins faced--and something in the man attracted me, a quality such
as you speak of in this other, of pure and uncommon goodness. He was
much the same sort as your old man, I fancy, not particularly winning,
rather narrow, rather limited in brains and in advantages, with a
natural distrust of progress and breadth. We talked together often, and
one day, I saw, by accident, into the depths of his soul, and knew what
he had sacrificed to become a clergyman--it was what meant to him
happiness and advancement in life. It had been a desperate effort, that
was plain, but it was plain, too, that from the moment he saw what he
thought was the right, there had been no hesitation in his mind. And I,
with all my wider mental training, my greater breadth--as I looked at
it--was going, with my eyes open, to do a wrong because I wished to do
it. You and I must be built something alike, Ted, for a touch in the
right spot seems to penetrate to the core of us--the one and the other.
This man's simple and intense flame of right living, right doing, all
unconsciously to himself, burned into me, and all that I had planned to
do seemed scorched in that fire--turned to ashes and bitterness. Of
course it was not so simple as it sounds. I went through a great deal.
But the steady influence for good was beside me through that long
passage--we were two weeks--the stronger because it was unconscious, the
stronger, I think, too, that it rested on no intellectual basis, but was
wholly and purely spiritual--as the confidence of a child might hold a
man to his duty where the arguments of a sophist would have no effect.
As I say, I went through a great deal. My mind was a battle-field for
the powers of good and evil during those two weeks, but the man who was
leading the forces of the right never knew it. The outcome was that as
soon as I landed I took my passage back on the next boat, which sailed
at once. Within a year, within a month almost, I knew that the decision
I made then was a turning-point, that to have done otherwise would have
meant ruin in more than one way. I tremble now to think how close I was
to shipwreck. All that I am, all that I have, I owe more or less
directly to that man's unknown influence. The measure of a life is its
service. Much opportunity for that, much power has been in my hands, and
I have tried to hold it humbly and reverently, remembering that time. I
have thought of myself many times us merely the instrument, fitted to
its special use, of that consecrated soul."

The voice stopped, and the boy, his wide, shining eyes fixed on his
father's face, drew a long breath. In a moment he spoke, and the father
knew, as well as if he had said it, how little of his feeling he could
put into words.

"It makes you shiver, doesn't it," he said, "to think what effect you
may be having on people, and never know it? Both you and I, father--our
lives changed, saved--by the influence of two strangers, who hadn't
the least idea what they were doing. It frightens you."

"I think it makes you know," said the older man, slowly, "that not your
least thought is unimportant; that the radiance of your character shines
for good or evil where you go. Our thoughts, our influences, are like
birds that fly from us as we walk along the road; one by one, we open
our hands and loose them, and they are gone and forgotten, but surely
there will be a day when they will come back on white wings or dark like
a cloud of witnesses--"

The man stopped, his voice died away softly, and he stared into the
blaze with solemn eyes, as if he saw a vision. The boy, suddenly aware
again of the strong hand on his shoulder, leaned against it lovingly,
and the fire, talking unconcernedly on, was for a long time the only
sound in the warmth and stillness and luxury of the great room which
held two souls at peace.

       *       *       *       *       *

At that hour, with the volume of Browne under his outstretched hand, his
thin gray hair resting against the worn cloth of the chair, in the bare
little study, the old clergyman slept. And as he slept, a wonderful
dream came to him. He thought that he had gone from this familiar, hard
world, and stood, in his old clothes, with his old discouraged soul, in
the light of the infinitely glorious Presence, where he must surely
stand at last. And the question was asked him, wordlessly, solemnly:

"Child of mine, what have you made of the life given you?" And he looked
down humbly at his shabby self, and answered:

"Lord, nothing. My life is a failure. I worked all day in God's garden,
and my plants were twisted and my roses never bloomed. For all my
fighting, the weeds grew thicker. I could not learn to make the good
things grow, I tried to work rightly, Lord, my Master, but I must have
done it all wrong."

And as he stood sorrowful, with no harvest sheaves to offer as witnesses
for his toiling, suddenly back of him he heard a marvellous, many-toned,
soft whirring, as of innumerable light wings, and over his head flew a
countless crowd of silver-white birds, and floated in the air beyond.
And as he gazed, surprised, at their loveliness, without speech again it
was said to him:

"My child, these are your witnesses. These are the thoughts and the
influences which have gone from your mind to other minds through the
years of your life." And they were all pure white.

And it was borne in upon him, as if a bandage had been lifted from his
eyes, that character was what mattered in the great end; that success,
riches, environment, intellect, even, were but the tools the master gave
into his servants' hands, and that the honesty of the work was all they
must answer for. And again he lifted his eyes to the hovering white
birds, and with a great thrill of joy it came to him that he had his
offering, too, he had this lovely multitude for a gift to the Master;
and, as if the thought had clothed him with glory, he saw his poor black
clothes suddenly transfigured to shining garments, and, with a shock, he
felt the rush of a long-forgotten feeling, the feeling of youth and
strength, beating in a warm glow through his veins. With a sigh of deep
happiness, the old man awoke.

A log had fallen, and turning as it fell, the new surface had caught
life from the half-dead ashes, and had blazed up brightly, and the
warmth was penetrating gratefully through him. The old clergyman
smiled, and held his thin hands to the flame as he gazed into the fire,
but the wonder and awe of his dream were in his eyes.

"My beautiful white birds!" he said, aloud, but softly. "Mine! They were
out of sight, but they were there all the time. Surely the dream was
sent from Heaven--surely the Lord means me to believe that my life has
been of service after all." And as he still gazed, with rapt face, into
his study fire, he whispered: "Angels came and ministered unto him."




THE DIAMOND BROOCHES


The room was filled with signs of breeding and cultivation; it was
bare of the things which mean money. Books were everywhere; family
portraits, gone brown with time, hung on the walls; a tall silver
candlestick gleamed from a corner; there was the tarnished gold of
carved Florentine frames, such as people bring still from Italy. But
the furniture-covering was faded, the carpet had been turned, the
place itself was the small parlor of a cheap apartment, and the
wall-paper was atrocious. The least thoughtful, listening for a moment
to that language which a room speaks of those who live in it, would
have known this at once as the home of well-bred people who were very
poor.

So quiet it was that it seemed empty. If an observer had stood in the
doorway, it might have been a minute before he saw that a man sat in
front of the fireless hearth with his arms stretched before him on the
table and his head fallen into them. For many minutes there was no
sound, no stir of the man's nerveless pose; it might have been that he
was asleep. Suddenly the characterless silence of the place was flooded
with tragedy, for the man groaned, and a child would have known that the
sound came from a torn soul. He lifted his face--a handsome, high-bred
face, clever, a bit weak,--and tears were wet on his cheeks. He glanced
about as if fearing to be seen as he wiped them away, and at the moment
there was a light bustle, low voices down the hall. The young man sprang
to his feet and stood alert as a step came toward him. He caught a sharp
breath as another man, iron-gray, professional, stood in the doorway.

"Doctor! You have made the examination--you think--" he flung at the
newcomer, and the other answered with the cool incisive manner of one
whose words weigh.

"Mr. Newbold," he said, "when you came to my office this morning I told
you my conjectures and my fear. I need not, therefore, go into details
again. I am very sorry to have to say to you--" he stopped, and looked
at the younger man kindly. "I wish I might make it easier, but it is
better that I should tell you that your mother's condition is as I
expected."

Newbold gave way a step as if under a blow, and his color went gray. The
doctor had seen souls laid bare before, yet he turned his eyes to the
floor as the muscles pulled and strained in this young face. It seemed
minutes that the two faced each other in the loaded silence, the doctor
gazing gravely at the worn carpet, the other struggling for
self-control. At last Newbold spoke, in the harsh tone which often comes
first after great emotion.

"You mean that there is--no hope?"

And the doctor, relieved at the loosening of the tension, answered
readily, glad to merge his humanity in his professional capacity: "No,
Mr. Newbold; I do not mean just that. It is this bleak climate, the raw
winds from the lake, which make it impossible for your mother to take
the first step which might lead to recovery. There is, in fact--" he
hesitated. "I may say that there is no hope for her cure while here. But
if she is taken to a warm climate at once--at once--within two
weeks--and kept there until summer, then, although I have not the gift
of prophecy, yet I believe she would be in time a well woman. No
medicine, can do it, but out-of-doors and warmth would do it--probably."

He put out his hand with a smile. "I am indeed glad that I may temper
judgment with mercy," he said. "Try the south, Mr. Newbold,--try
Bermuda, for instance. The sea air and the warmth there might set your
mother up marvellously." And as the young man stared at him
unresponsively he gave a grasp to the hand he held, and turning, found
his way out alone. He stumbled down the dark steps of the third-rate
apartment-house and into his brougham, and as the rubber tires bowled
him over the asphalt he communed with himself:

"Queer about those Newbolds. Badly off, of course, to live in that
place, yet they know what it means to call me in. There must be some
money. I wonder if they have enough for a trip, poor souls. Bah! they
must have--everybody has when it comes to life and death. They'll get it
somehow--rich relations and all that. Burr Claflin is their cousin, I
know. David Newbold himself was rich enough five years ago, when he made
that unlucky gamble in stocks--which killed him, they say. Well--life is
certainly hard." And the doctor turned his mind to a new pair of horses
he had been looking at in the afternoon, with a comfortable sense of a
wind-guard or so, at the least, between himself and the gales of
adversity.

In the little drawing-room, with its cheap paper and its old portraits,
Randolph Newbold faced his sister with the news. He knew her courage,
yet, even in the stress of his feeling, he wondered at it now; he felt
almost a pang of jealousy when he saw her take the blow as he had not
been able to take it.

"It is a death-sentence," he said, brokenly. "We have not the money to
send her south, and we cannot get it."

Katherine Newbold's hands clenched. "We will get it," she said. "I don't
know how just now, but we'll get it, Randolph. Mother's life shall not
go for lack of a few hundred dollars. Oh, think--just think--six years
ago it would have meant nothing. We went south every winter, and we
were all well. It is too cruel! But we'll get the money--you'll see."

"How?" the young man asked, bitterly. "The last jewel went so that we
could have Dr. Renfrew. There's nothing here to sell--nobody would buy
our ancestors," and he looked up mournfully at the painted figures on
the wall. The very thought seemed an indignity to those stately
personalities--the English judge in his wig, the colonial general in his
buff-faced uniform, harbored for a century proudly among their own, now
speculated upon as possible revenue. The girl put up a hand toward them
as if deprecating her brother's words, and his voice went on: "You know
the doctor practically told me this morning. I have had no hope all day,
and all day I have lived in hell. I don't know how I did my work.
To-night, coming home, I walked past Litterny's. The windows were
lighted and filled with a gorgeous lot of stones--there were a dozen big
diamond brooches. I stopped and looked at them, and thought how she used
to wear such things, and how now her life was going for the value of
one of them, and--you may be horrified, Katherine, but this is true: If
I could have broken into that window and snatched some of that stuff,
I'd have done it. Honesty and all I've been brought up to would have
meant nothing--nothing. I'd do it now, in a second, if I could, to get
the money to save my mother. God! The town is swimming in money, and I
can't get a little to keep her alive!"

The young man's eyes were wild with a passion of helplessness, but his
sister gazed at him calmly, as if considering a question. From a room
beyond came a painful cough, and the girl was on her feet.

"She is awake; I must go to her. But I shall think--don't be hopeless,
boy--I shall think of a way." And she was gone.

Worn out with emotion, Randolph Newbold was sleeping a deep sleep that
night. With a start he awoke, staring at a white figure with long, fair
braids.

"Randolph, it's I--Katherine. Don't be startled."

"What's the matter? Is she worse?" He lifted himself anxiously,
blinking sleep from his eyes.

"No--oh no! She's sleeping well. It's just that I have to talk to you,
Randolph. Now. I can't wait till morning--you'll understand when I tell
you. I haven't been asleep at all; I've been thinking. I know now how we
can get the money."

"Katherine, are you raving?" the brother demanded; but the girl was not
to be turned aside.

"Listen to me," she said, and in her tone was the authority of the
stronger personality, and the young man listened. She sat on the edge of
his bed and held his hand as she talked, and through their lives neither
might ever forget that midnight council.

       *       *       *       *       *

The room had an air of having come in perfect and luxurious condition,
fur-lined and jewel-clasped, as it were, from the hands of a good
decorator, and of having stopped at that. The great triple lamp glowed
green as if set with gigantic emeralds; and its soft light shone on a
scheme of color full of charm for the eye. The stuffs, the woodwork,
were of a delightful harmony, but it seemed that the books and the
pictures were chosen to match them. The man talking, in the great carved
armchair by the fire, fitted the place. His vigorous, pleasant face
looked prosperous, and so kindly was his air that one might not cavil at
a lack of subtler qualities. He drew a long breath as he brought out the
last words of the story he was telling.

"And that, Mr. North," he concluded, "is the way the firm of Litterny
Brothers, the leading jewellers of this city, were done yesterday by a
person or persons unknown, to the tune of five thousand dollars." His
eyes turned from the blazing logs to his guest.

The young man in his clerical dress stood as he listened, with eyes wide
like a child's, fixed on the speaker. He stooped and picked up a poker
and pushed the logs together as he answered. The deliberateness of the
action would not have prepared one for the intensity of his words. "I
never wanted to be a detective before," he said, "but I'd give a good
deal to catch the man who did that. It was such planned rascality, such
keen-witted scoundrelism, that it gives me a fierce desire to show him
up. I'd like to teach the beggar that honesty can be as intelligent as
knavery; that in spite of his strength of cunning, law and right are
stronger. I wish I could catch him," and the brass poker gleamed in a
savage flourish. "I'd have no mercy. The hungry wretch who steals meat,
the ignorant sinner taught to sin from babyhood--I have infinite
patience for such. But this thief spoke like a gentleman, and the maid
said he was 'a pretty young man'--there's no excuse for him. He simply
wanted money that wasn't his,--there's no excuse. It makes my blood boil
to think of a clever rascal like that succeeding in his rascality." With
that the intense manner had dropped from him as a garment, and he was
smiling the gentlest, most whimsical smile at the older man. "You'll
think, Mr. Litterny, that it's the loss of my new parish-house that's
making me so ferocious, but, honestly, I'd forgotten all about it." And
no one who heard him could doubt his sincerity. "I was thinking of the
case from your point of view. As to the parish-house, it's a
disappointment, but of course I know that a large loss like this must
make a difference in a man's expenditures. You have been very good to
St. John's already,--a great many times you have been good to us."

"It's a disappointment to me as well," Litterny said. "Old St. John's of
Newburyport has been dear to me many years. I was confirmed and married
there--but _you_ know. Everything I could do for it has been a
satisfaction. And I looked forward to giving this parish-house. In
ordinary years a theft of five thousand dollars would not have prevented
me, but there have been complications and large expenses of late, to
which this loss is the last straw. I shall have to postpone the
parish-house,--but it shall be only postponed, Mr. North, only
postponed."

The young rector answered quietly: "As I said before, Mr. Litterny, you
have been most generous. We are grateful more than I know how to say."
His manner was very winning, and the older man's kind face brightened.

"The greatest luxury which money brings is to give it away. St. John's
owes its thanks not to me, but to you, Mr. North. I have meant for some
time to put into words my appreciation of your work there. In two years
you have infused more life and earnestness into that sleepy parish than
I thought possible. You've waked them up, put energy into them, and got
it out of them. You've done wonders. It's right you should know that
people think this of you, and that your work is valued."

"I am glad," Norman North said, and the restraint of the words carried
more than a speech.

Mr. Litterny went on: "But there's such a thing as overdoing, young man,
and you're shaving the edge of it. You're looking ill--poor color--thin
as a rail. You need a rest."

"I think I'll go to Bermuda. My senior warden was there last year, and
he says it's a wonderful little place--full of flowers and tennis and
sailing, and blue sea and nice people." He stood up suddenly and
broadened his broad shoulders. "I love the south," he said. "And I love
out-of-doors and using my muscles. It's good to think of whole days
with no responsibility, and with exercise till my arms and legs ache. I
get little exercise, and I miss it. I was on the track team at Yale, you
see, and rather strong at tennis."

Mr. Litterny smiled, and his smile was full of sympathy. "We try to make
a stained-glass saint out of you," he said, "and all the time you're a
human youngster with a human desire for a good time. A mere lad," he
added, reflectively, and went on: "Go down to Bermuda with a light
heart, my boy, and enjoy yourself,--it will do your church as much good
as you. Play tennis and sail--fall in love if you find the right
girl,--nothing makes a man over like that." North was putting out his
hand. "And remember," Litterny added, "to keep an eye out for my thief.
You're retained as assistant detective in the case."

       *       *       *       *       *

On a bright, windy morning a steamship wound its careful way through the
twisted water-road of Hamilton Harbor, Bermuda. Up from cabins mid
corners poured figures unknown to the decks during the passage, and
haggard faces brightened under the balmy breeze, and tired eyes smiled
at the dark hills and snowy sands of the sliding shore. In a sheltered
corner of the deck a woman lay back in a chair and drew in breaths of
soft air, and a tall girl watched her.

"You feel better already, don't you?" she demanded, and Mrs. Newbold put
her hand into her daughter's.

"It is Paradise," she said. "I am going to get well."

In an hour the landing had been made, the custom-house passed; the gay,
exhilarating little drive had been taken to the hotel, through white
streets, past white-roofed houses buried in trees and flowers and vines;
the sick woman lay quiet and happy on her bed, drawn to the open window,
where the healing of the breeze touched her gently, and where her eyes
dreamed over a fairy stretch of sea and islands. Katherine, moving about
the room, unpacking, came to sit in a chair by her mother and talk to
her for a moment.

"To-morrow, if you're a good child, you shall go for a drive. Think--a
drive in an enchanted island. It's Shakespeare's _Tempest_ island,--did
I tell you I heard that on the boat? We might run across Caliban any
minute, and I think at least we'll find 'M' and 'F', for Miranda and
Ferdinand, cut into the bark of a tree somewhere. We'll go for a drive
every day, every single day, till we find it. You'll see."

Mrs. Newbold's eyes moved from the sea and rested, perplexed, on her
daughter. "Katherine, how can we afford to drive every day? How can we
be here at all? I don't understand it. I'm sure there was nothing left
to sell except the land out west, and Mr. Seaton told us last spring
that it was worthless. How did you and Randolph conjure up the money for
this beautiful journey that is going to save my life?"

The girl bent impulsively and kissed her with tender roughness. "It is
going to do that--it is!" she cried, and her voice broke. Then: "Never
mind how the money came, dear,--invalids mustn't be curious. It strains
their nerves. Wait till you're well and perhaps you'll hear a tale about
that land out west."

Day after day slipped past in the lotus-eating land whose unreality
makes it almost a change of planets from every-day America. Each day
brought health with great rapidity, and soon each day brought new
friends. Mrs. Newbold was full of charm, and the devotion between the
ill mother and the blooming daughter was an attractive sight. Yet the
girl was not light-hearted. Often the mother, waking in the night, heard
a shivering sigh through the open door between their rooms; often she
surprised a harassed look in the young eyes which, with all that the
family had gone through, was new to them. But Katherine laughed at
questions, and threw herself so gayly into the pleasures which came to
her that Mrs. Newbold, too happy to be analytical, let the straws pass
and the wind blow where it would.

There came a balmy morning when the two were to take, with half a dozen
others, the long drive to St. George's. The three carriage-loads set off
in a pleasant hubbub from the white-paved courtyard of the hotel, and as
Katherine settled her mother with much care and many rugs, her camera
dropped under the wheels. Everybody was busy, nobody was looking, and
she stooped and reached for it in vain. Then out of a blue sky a voice
said:

"I'll get it for you," She was pushed firmly aside and a figure in a
blue coat was grovelling adventurously beneath the trap. It came out,
straightened; she had her camera; she was staring up into a face which
contemplated her, which startled her, so radiant, so everything
desirable it seemed to her to be. The man's eyes considered her a moment
as she thanked him, and then he had lifted his hat and was gone,
running, like a boy in a hurry for a holiday, toward the white stone
landing. An empty sail flopped big at the landing, and the girl stood
and looked as he sprang in under it and took the rudder. Joe, the head
porter, the familiar friend of every one, was stowing in a rug.

"That gen'l'man's the Reverend Norman North,--he come by the _Trinidad_
last Wednesday; he's sailin' to St. George's," Joe volunteered. "Don't
look much like a reverend, do he?" And with that the carriage had
started.

Seeing the sights at St. George's, they came to the small old church,
on its western side a huge flight of steps, capped with a meek doorway;
on its eastern end a stone tower guarding statelily a flowery graveyard.
The moment the girl stepped inside, the spell of the bright peace which
filled the place caught her. The Sunday decorations were still there,
and hundreds of lilies bloomed from the pillars; sunshine slanted
through the simple stained glass and lay in colored patches on the
floor; there were square pews of a bygone day; there was a pulpit with a
winding stair; there were tablets on the walls to shipwrecked sailors,
to governors and officers dead here in harness. The clumsy woodwork, the
cheap carpets, the modest brasses, were in perfect order; there were
marks everywhere of reverent care.

"Let me stay," the girl begged. "I don't want to drive about. I want to
stay in this place. I'll meet you at the hotel for lunch, if you'll
leave me." And they left her.

The verger had gone, and she was quite alone. Deep in the shadow of a
gallery she slid to her knees and hid her face. "O God!" she
whispered,--"O God, forgive me!" And again the words seemed torn from
her--"O God, forgive me!"

There were voices in the vestibule, but the girl in the stress of her
prayer did not hear.

"Deal not with us according to our sins, neither reward us according to
our iniquities," she prayed, the accustomed words rushing to her want,
and she was suddenly aware that two people stood in the church. One of
them spoke.

"Don't bother to stay with me," he said, and in the voice, it seemed,
were the qualities that a man's speech should have--strength, certainty,
the unteachable tone of gentle blood, and beyond these the note of
personality, always indescribable, in this case carrying an appeal and
an authority oddly combined. "Don't stay with me. I like to be alone
here. I'm a clergyman, and I enjoy an old church like this. I'd like to
be alone in it," and a bit of silver flashed.

If the tip did it or the compelling voice, the verger murmured a word
about luncheon, was gone, and the girl in her dim corner saw, as the
other turned, that he was the rescuer of her camera, whose name was,
Joe had said and she remembered, Norman North. She was about to move, to
let herself be seen, when the young man knelt suddenly in the
old-fashioned front pew, as a good child might kneel who had been taught
the ways of his mother church, and bent his dark head. She waited
quietly while this servant spoke to his Master. There was no sound in
the silent, sun-lanced church, but outside one heard as from far away
the noises of the village. Katherine's eyes rested on the bowed head,
and she wondered uncertainly if she should let him know of her presence,
or if it might not be better to slip out unnoticed, when in a moment he
had risen and was swinging with a vigorous step up the little corkscrew
stairway of the pulpit. There he stood, facing the silence, facing the
flower-starred shadows, the empty spaces; facing her, but not seeing
her. And the girl forgot herself and the question of her going as she
saw the look in his face, the light which comes at times to those who
give their lives to holiness, since the day when the people, gazing at
Stephen, the martyr, "saw his face as it had been the face of an
angel." When his voice floated out on the dim, sunny atmosphere it
rested as lightly on the silence as if the notes of an organ rolled
through its own place. He spoke a prayer of a service which, to those
whose babyhood has been consecrated by it, whose childhood and youth
have listened to its simple and stately words, whose manhood and
womanhood have been carried over many a hard place by the lift of its
familiar sentences,--he spoke a prayer of that service which is less
dear only, to those bred in it, than the voices of their dearest. As a
priest begins to speak to his congregation he began, and the hearer in
the shadow of the gallery listened, awed:

"The Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before
Him."

And in the little church was silence as if all the earth obeyed. The
collect for the day came next, and a bit of jubilant Easter service, and
then his mind seemed to drift back to the sentences with which the
prayer-book opens.

"This is the day which the Lord hath made," the ringing voice announced.
"Let us rejoice and be glad in it." And then, stabbing into the girl's
fevered conscience, "I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever
before me." It was as if an inflexible judge spoke the words for her.
"When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness, and doeth that
which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive," the pure,
stern tones went on.

She was not turning away from wickedness; she did not mean to turn away;
she would not do that which was lawful. The girl shivered. She could not
hear this dreadful accusal from the very pulpit. She must leave this
place. And with that the man, as if in a sudden passion of feeling, had
tossed his right hand high above him; his head was thrown back; his eyes
shone up into the shadows of the roof as if they would pierce material
things and see Him who reigned; he was pleading as if for his life,
pleading for his brothers, for human beings who sin and suffer.

"O Lord," he prayed, "spare all those who confess their sins unto Thee,
that they whose consciences by sin are accused, by Thy merciful pardon
may be absolved; through Christ our Lord." And suddenly he was using the
very words which had come to her of themselves a few minutes before.
"Deal not with us according to our sins--deal not with us," he repeated,
as if wresting forgiveness for his fellows from the Almighty. "Deal not
with us according to our sins, neither reward us according to our
iniquities." And while the echo of the words yet held the girl
motionless he was gone.

       *       *       *       *       *

Down by the road which runs past the hotel, sunken ten feet below its
level, are the tennis-courts, and soldiers in scarlet and khaki, and
blue-jackets with floating ribbons, and negro bell-boys returning from
errands, and white-gowned American women with flowery hats, and men in
summer flannels stop as they pass, and sit on the low wall and watch the
games. There is always a gallery for the tennis-players. But on a
Tuesday morning about eleven o'clock the audience began to melt away in
disgust. Without doubt they were having plenty of amusement among
themselves, these tennis-players grouped at one side of the court and
filling the air with explosions of laughter. But the amusement of the
public was being neglected. Why in the world, being rubber-shod as to
the foot and racqueted as to the hand, did they not play tennis? A girl
in a short white dress, wearing white tennis-shoes and carrying a
racquet, came tripping down the flight of stone steps, and stopped as
she stood on the last landing and seemed to ask the same question. She
came slowly across the empty court, looking with curiosity at the bunch
of absorbed people, and presently she caught her breath. The man who was
the centre of the group, who was making, apparently, the amusement, was
the young clergyman, Norman North.

There was an outburst, a chorus of: "You can't have that one, Mr.
North!" "That's been used!" "That's Mr. Dennison's!"

A tall English officer--a fine, manly mixture of big muscles and fresh
color and khaki--looked up, saw the girl, and swung toward her. "Good
morning, Miss Newbold. Come and join the fun. Devil of a fellow, that
North,--they say he's a parson."

"What is it? What are they laughing at?" Katherine demanded.

"They're doing a Limerick tournament, which is what North calls the
game. Mr. Gale is timekeeper. They're to see which recites most rhymes
inside five minutes. The winner picks his court and plays with Miss
Lee."

Captain Comerford imparted this in jerky whispers, listening with one
ear all the time to a sound which stirred Katherine, the voice which she
had heard yesterday in the church at St. George's. The Englishman's
spasmodic growl stopped, and she drifted a step nearer, listening. As
she caught the words, her brows drew together with displeasure, with
shocked surprise. The inspired saint of yesterday was reciting with
earnestness, with every delicate inflection of his beautiful voice,
these words:

    "There was a young curate of Kidderminster,
    Who kindly, but firmly, chid a spinster,
        Because on the ice
        She said something not nice
    When he quite inadvertently slid ag'inst her."

As the roar which followed this subsided, Katherine's face cleared.
What right had she to make a pattern of solemn righteousness for this
stranger and be insulted if he did not fit? Certainly he was
saintly--she had seen his soul bared to her vision; but certainly he was
human also, as this moment was demonstrating. It flashed over her
vaguely to wonder which was the dominant quality--which would rule in a
stress of temptation--the saintly side or the human? But at least he was
human with a winning humanity. His mirth and his enjoyment of it were as
spontaneous as a mischievous, bright child's, and it was easy to see
that the charm of his remarkable voice attracted others as it had
attracted her.

    "There was a young fellow from Clyde,
    Who was often at funerals espied--"

he had begun, and with that, between her first shock and her swift
recovery, with the contrast between the man of yesterday and the man of
to-day, Katherine suddenly laughed aloud. North stopped short, and
turned and looked at her, and for a second and their eyes met, and each
read recognition and friendliness. The Limerick went on:

      "When asked who was dead,
       He nodded and said,
    '_I_ don't know--_I_ just came for the ride.'"

"Eleven for Mr. North--one-half minute more," called Mr. Gale, and
instantly North was in the breach:

    "A sore-hipped hippopotamus quite flustered
    Objected to a poultice made of custard;
      'Can't you doctor up my hip
      With anything but flip?'
    So they put upon the hip a pot o' mustard.'"

And the half-minute was done and North had won, and there was clapping
of hands for the victor, and at once, before the little uproar was over,
Katherine saw him speak a word to Mr. Gale, and saw the latter, turning,
stare about as if searching for some one, and, meeting her glance,
smile.

"I want to present Mr. North, Miss Newbold," Gale said.

"Why did you laugh in the middle of my Limerick? Had you heard it?"
North demanded, as if they had known each other a year instead of a
minute.

"No, I had not heard it." Katherine shook her head.

"Then why did you laugh?"

She looked at him reflectively. "I don't know you well enough to tell
you that."

"How soon will you know me well enough--if I do my best?"

She considered. "About three weeks from yesterday."

       *       *       *       *       *

Many things grow fast in southern climates--fruits, flowers, even
friendship and love. Three weeks later, on a hot, bright morning of
April, North and Katherine Newbold were walking down a road of Bermuda
to the sea, and between them was what had ripened in the twenty-one days
from a germ to a full-grown bud, ready to open at the lightest touch
into flower. As they walked down such a road of a dream, the man talked
to the girl as he had never talked to any one before. He spoke of his
work and its hopes and disappointments, of the pathos, the tragedy, the
comedy often of a way of life which leads by a deeper cut through men's
hearts than any other, and he told her also, modestly indeed, and
because he loved to tell her what meant much to him, of the joy of
knowing himself successful in his parish. He went into details,
absorbingly interesting to him, and this new luxury of speaking freely
carried him away.

"I hope I'm not boring you." His frank gaze turned on her anxiously. "I
don't know what right I have to assume that the increase in the
Sunday-school, or even the new brass pulpit, is a fascinating subject to
you. I never did this before," he said, and there was something in his
voice which hindered the girl from answering his glance. But there was
no air of being bored about her, and he went on. "However, life isn't
all good luck. I had a serious blow just before I came down here--a
queer thing happened. I told you just now that all the large gifts to
St. John's had come from one man--a former parishioner. The man was
James Litterny, of the great firm of--Why, what's the matter--what is
it?" For Katherine had stopped short, in her fast, swinging walk, and
without a sound had swayed and caught at the wall as if to keep herself
from falling. Before he could reach her she had straightened herself and
was smiling.

"I felt ill for a second--it's nothing,--let's go along."

North made eager suggestions for her comfort, but the girl was firm in
her assertion, that she was now quite well, so that, having no sisters
and being ignorant that a healthy young woman does not, any more than a
healthy young man, go white and stagger without reason, he yielded, and
they walked briskly on.

"You were telling me something that happened to you--something connected
with Mr.--with the rich parishioner." Her tone was steady and casual,
but looking at her, he saw that she was still pale.

"Do you really want to hear my yarns? You're sure it isn't that which
made you feel faint--because I talked so much?"

"It's always an effort not to talk myself," she laughed up at him, yet
with a strange look in her eyes. "All the same, talk a little more.
Tell me what you began to tell about Mr. Litterny." The name came out
full and strong.

"Oh, that! Well, it's a story extraordinary enough for a book. I think
it will interest you."

"I think it will," Katherine agreed.

"You see," he went on, "Mr. Litterny promised us a new parish-house, the
best and largest practicable. It was to cost, with the lot, ten thousand
dollars. It was to be begun this spring. Not long before I came to
Bermuda, I had a note one morning from him, asking me to come to his
house the next evening. I went, and he told me that the parish-house
would have to be given up for the present, because the firm of Litterny
Brothers had just met with a loss, through a most skilful and original
robbery, of five thousand dollars."

"A robbery?" the girl repeated. "Burglars, you mean?"

"Something much more artistic than burglars. I told you this story was
good enough for a book. It's been kept quiet because the detectives
thought the chance better that way of hunting the thief to earth." (Why
should she catch her breath?) "But I'm under no promise--I'm sure I may
tell you. You're not likely to have any connection with the rascal."

Katherine's step hung a little as if she shrank from the words, but she
caught at a part of the sentence and repeated it, "'Hunting the thief to
earth'--you say that as if you'd like to see it done."

"I would like to see it done," said North, with slow emphasis. "Nothing
has ever more roused my resentment. I suppose it's partly the loss of
the parish-house, but, aside from that, it makes me rage to think of
splendid old James Litterny, the biggest-hearted man I know, being done
in that way. Why, he'd have helped the scoundrel in a minute if he'd
gone to him instead of stealing from him. Usually my sympathies are with
the sinner, but I believe if I caught this one I'd be merciless."

"Would you mind sitting down here?" Katherine asked, in a voice which
sounded hard. "I'm not ill, but I feel--tired. I want to sit here and
listen to the story of that unprincipled thief and his wicked robbery."

North was all solicitude in a moment, but the girl put him aside
impatiently.

"I'm quite right. Don't bother. I just want to be still while you talk.
See what a good seat this is."

Over the russet sand of the dunes the sea flashed a burning blue;
storm-twisted cedars led a rutted road down to it; in the salt air the
piny odor was sharp with sunlight. Katherine had dropped beneath one of
the dwarfed trees, and leaning back, smiled dimly up at him with a
stricken face which North did not understand.

"You are ill," he said, anxiously. "You look ill. Please let me take
care of you. There is a house back there--let me--" but she interrupted:

"I'm not ill, and I won't be fussed over. I'm not exactly right, but I
will be in a few minutes. The best thing for me is just to rest here and
have you talk to me. Tell me that story you are so slow about."

He took her at her word. Lying at full length at her feet--his head
propped on a hillock so that he might look into her face, one of his
hands against the hem of her white dress,--the shadows of the cedars
swept back and forth across him, the south sea glittered beyond the
sand-dunes, and he told the story.

"Mr. Litterny was in his office in the early afternoon of February 18,"
he began, "when a man called him up on the telephone. Mr. Litterny did
not recognize the voice, but the man stated at once that he was Burr
Claflin, whose name you may know. He is a rich broker, and a personal
friend of both the Litternys. Voice is so uncertain a quantity over a
telephone that it did not occur to Mr. Litterny to be suspicious on that
point, and the conversation was absolutely in character otherwise. The
talker used expressions and a manner of saying things which the jeweller
knew to be characteristic of Claflin.

"He told Mr. Litterny that he had just made a lucky hit in stocks, and
'turned over a bunch of money,' as he put it, and that he wanted to make
his wife a present. 'Now--this afternoon--this minute,' he said, which
was just like Burr Claflin, who is an impetuous old chap. 'I want to
give her a diamond brooch, and I want her to wear it out to dinner
to-night,' he said. 'Can't you send two or three corkers up to the house
for me?' That surprised Mr. Litterny and he hesitated, but finally said
that he would do it. It was against the rules of the house, but as it
was for Mr. Claflin he would do it. They had a little talk about the
details, and Claflin arranged to call up his wife and tell her that the
jewels would be there at four-thirty, so that she could look out for
them personally. All that was the Litterny end of the affair. Simple
enough, wasn't it?"

Katherine's eyes were so intent, so brilliant, that Norman North went on
with a pleased sense that he told the tale well:

"Now begins the Claflin experience. At half past four a clerk from
Litterny's left a package at the Claflin house in Cleveland Avenue,
which was at once taken, as the man desired, to Mrs. Claflin. She opened
it and found three very handsome diamond brooches, which astonished her
extremely, as she knew nothing about them. However, it was not unusual
for Claflin to give her jewelry, and he is, as I said, an impulsive man,
so that unexpected presents had come once or twice before; and
altogether, being much taken with the stones, she concluded simply that
she would understand when her husband came home to dinner.

"However, her hopes were dashed, for twenty minutes later, barely long
enough for the clerk to have got back to the shop, she was called to the
telephone by a message, said to be from Litterny's, and a most polite
and apologetic person explained over the line that a mistake had been
made; that the diamonds had been addressed and sent to her by an error
of the shipping-clerk; that they were not intended for Mrs. Burr
Claflin, but for Mrs. Bird Catlin, and that the change in name had been
discovered on the messenger's return. Would Mrs. Claflin pardon the
trouble caused, and would she be good enough to see that the package was
given to their man, who would call for it in fifteen minutes? Now the
Catlins, as you must know, are richer people even than the Claflins, so
that the thing was absolutely plausible. Mrs. Claflin tied up the jewels
herself, and entrusted them to her own maid, who has been with her for
years, and this woman answered the door and gave the parcel into the
hands of a man who said that he was sent from Litterny's for it. All
that the maid could say of him was that he was 'a pretty young man, with
a speech like a gentleman.' And that was the last that has been seen of
the diamond brooches. Wasn't it simple? Didn't I tell you that this
affair was an artistic one?" North demanded.

Katherine Newbold drew a deep breath, and the story-teller, watching her
face, saw that she was stirred with an emotion which he put down, with a
slight surprise, to interest in his narrative.

"Is there no clew to the--thief? Have they no idea at all? Haven't those
wonderful detectives yet got on--his track?"

North shook his head. "I had a letter by yesterday's boat from Mr.
Litterny about another matter, and he spoke of this. He said the police
were baffled--that he believed now that it could never be traced."

"Thank God!" Katherine said, slowly and distinctly, and North stared in
astonishment.

"What?" His tone was incredulous.

"Oh; don't take me so seriously," said the girl, impatiently. "It's only
that I can't sympathize with your multimillionaire, who loses a little
of his heaps of money, against some poor soul to whom that little may
mean life or death--life or death, maybe, for his nearest and dearest.
Mr. Litterny has had a small loss, which he won't feel in a year from
now. The thief, the rascal, the scoundrel, as you call him so fluently,
has escaped for now, perhaps, with his ill-gotten gains, but he is a
hunted thing, living with a black terror of being found out--a terror
which clutches him when he prays and when he dances. It's the thief I'm
sorry for--I'm sorry for him--I'm sorry for him." Her voice was agitated
and uneven beyond what seemed reasonable.

"'The way of the transgressor is hard,'" Norman North said, slowly, and
looked across the shifting sand-stretch to the inevitable sea, and
spoke the words pitilessly, as if an inevitable law spoke through him.

They cut into the girl's soul. A quick gasp of pain broke from her, and
the man turned and saw her face and sprang to his feet.

"Come," he said,--"come home," and held out his hands.

She let him take hers, and he lifted her lightly, and did not let her
hands go. For a second they stood, and into the silence a deep boom of
the water against the beach thundered and died away. He drew the hands
slowly toward him till he held them against him. There seemed not to be
any need for words.

Half an hour later, as they walked back through the sweet loneliness of
Springfield Avenue, North said: "You've forgotten something. You've
forgotten that this is the day you were to tell me why you had the bad
manners to laugh at me before you knew me. Now that we are engaged it's
your duty to tell me if I'm ridiculous."

There was none of the responsive, soft laughter he expected. "We're not
engaged--we can't be engaged," she threw back, impetuously, and as he
looked at her there was suffering in her face.

"What do you mean? You told me you loved me." His voice was full of its
curious mixture of gentleness and sternness, and she shrank visibly from
the sternness.

"Don't be hard on me," she begged, like a frightened child, and he
caught her hand with a quick exclamation. "I'll tell you--everything.
Not only that little thing about my laughing, but--but more--everything.
Why I cannot be engaged to you. I must tell you--I know it--but, oh! not
to-day--not for a little while! Let me have this little time to be
happy. You sail a week from to-day. I'll write it all for you, and you
can read it on the way to New York. That will do--won't that do?" she
pleaded.

North took both her hands in a hard grasp and searched her face and her
eyes--eyes clear and sweet, though filled with misery. "Yes, that will
do," he said. "It's all nonsense that you can't be engaged to me. You
are engaged to me, and you are going to marry me. If you love me--and
you say you do,--there's nothing I'll let interfere. Nothing--absolutely
nothing." There was little of the saint in his look now; it was filled
with human love and masterful determination, and in his eyes smouldered
a recklessness, a will to have his way, that was no angel, but all man.

A week later Norman North sailed to New York, and in his pocket was a
letter which was not to be read till Bermuda was out of sight. When the
coral reef was passed, when the fairy blue of the island waters had
changed to the dark swell of the Atlantic, he slipped the bolt in the
door of his cabin and took out the letter.

"I laughed because you were so wonderfully two men in one," it began, "I
was in the church at St. George's the day when you sent the verger away
and went into the pulpit and said parts of the service. I could not tell
you this before because it came so close to the other thing which I must
tell you now; because I sat trembling before you that day, hidden in the
shadow of a gallery, knowing myself a criminal, while you stood above me
like a pitiless judge and rolled out sentences that were bolts of fire
emptied on my soul. The next morning I heard you reciting Limericks. Are
you surprised that I laughed when the contrast struck me? Even then I
wondered which was the real of you, the saint or the man,--which would
win if it came to a desperate fight. The fight is coming, Norman.

"That's all a preamble. Here is what you must know: I am the thief who
stole Mr. Litterny's diamonds."

The letter fell, and the man caught at it as it fell. His hand shook,
but he laughed aloud.

"It is a joke," he said, in a queer, dry voice. "A wretched joke. How
can she?" And he read on:

"You won't believe this at first; you will think I am making a poor
joke; but you will have to believe it in the end. I will try to put the
case before you as an outside person would put it, without softening or
condoning. My mother was very ill; the specialist, to pay whom we had
sold her last jewel, said that she would die if she were not taken
south; we had no money to take her south. That night my brother lost
his self-control and raved about breaking into a shop and stealing
diamonds, to get money to save her life. That put the thought into my
mind, and I made a plan. Randolph, my brother, is a clever amateur
actor, and the rich Burr Claflin is our distant cousin. We both know him
fairly well, and it was easy enough for Randolph to copy his mannerisms.
We knew also, of course, more or less, his way of living, and that it
would not be out of drawing that he should send up diamonds to his wife
unexpectedly. I planned it all, and I made Randolph do it. I have always
been able to influence him to what I pleased. The sin is all mine, not
his. We had been selling my mother's jewels little by little for several
years, so we had no difficulty in getting rid of the stones, which
Randolph took from their settings and sold to different dealers. My
mother knows nothing of where the money came from. We are living in
Bermuda now, in comfort and luxury, I as well as she, on the profits of
my thievery. I am not sorry. It has wrecked life, perhaps eternity, for
me, but I would do it again to save my mother.

"I put this confession into your hands to do with, as far as I am
concerned, what you like. If the saint in you believes that I ought to
be sent to jail, take this to Mr. Litterny and have him send me to
jail. But you shan't touch Randolph--you are not free there. It was I
who did it--he was my tool,--any one will tell you I have the stronger
will. You shall not hurt Randolph--that is barred.

"You see now why I couldn't be engaged to you--you wouldn't want to
marry a thief, would you, Norman? I can never make restitution, you
know, for the money will be mostly gone before we get home, and there is
no more to come. You could not, either, for you said that you had little
beyond your salary. We could never make it good to Mr. Litterny, even if
you wanted to marry me after this. Mr. Litterny is your best friend; you
are bound to him by a thousand ties of gratitude and affection. You
can't marry a thief who has robbed him of five thousand dollars, and
never tell him, and go on taking his gifts. That is the way the saint
will look at it--the saint who thundered awful warnings at me in the
little church at St. George's. But even that day there was something
gentler than the dreadful holiness of you. Do you remember how you
pleaded, begged as if of your father, for your brothers and sisters?
'Deal not with us according to our sins, neither reward us according to
our iniquities,' you said. Do you remember? As you said that to God, I
say it to you, I love you. I leave my fate at your mercy. But don't
forget that you yourself begged that, with your hands stretched out to
heaven, as I stretch my hands to you, Norman, Norman--'Deal not with me
according to my sins, neither reward me according to my iniquities.'"

The noises of a ship moving across a quiet ocean went on steadily. Many
feet tramped back and forth on the deck, and cheerful voices and
laughter floated through the skylight, and down below a man knelt in a
narrow cabin with his head buried in his arms, motionless.




CROWNED WITH GLORY AND HONOR


Mists blew about the mountains across the river, and over West Point
hung a raw fog. Some of the officers who stood with bared heads by the
heap of earth and the hole in the ground shivered a little. The young
Chaplain read, solemnly, the solemn and grand words of the service, and
the evenness of his voice was unnatural enough to show deep feeling. He
remembered how, a year before, he had seen the hero of this scene
playing football on just such a day, tumbling about and shouting, his
hair wild and matted and his face filled with fresh color. Such a mere
boy he was, concerned over the question as to where he could hide his
contraband dress boots, excited by an invitation to dine out Saturday
night. The dear young chap! There were tears in the Chaplain's eyes as
he thought of little courtesies to himself, of little generosities to
other cadets, of a manly and honest heart shown everywhere that
character may show in the guarded life of the nation's schoolboys.

The sympathetic, ringing voice stopped, and he watched the quick,
dreadful, necessary work of the men at the grave, and then his sad eyes
wandered pitifully over the rows of boyish faces where the cadets stood.
Just such a child as those, thought the Chaplain--himself but a few
years older--no history; no life, as we know life; no love, and what was
life without--you may see that the Chaplain was young; the poor boy was
taken from these quiet ways and sent direct on the fire-lit stage of
history, and in the turn, behold! he was a hero. The white-robed
Chaplain thrilled and his dark eyes flashed. He seemed to see that day;
he would give half his life to have seen it--this boy had given all of
his. The boy was wounded early, and as the bullets poured death down the
hill he crept up it, on hands and knees, leading his men. The strong
life in him lasted till he reached the top, and then the last of it
pulled him to his feet and he stood and waved and cheered--and fell. But
he went up San Juan Hill. After all, he lived. He missed fifty years,
perhaps, but he had Santiago. The flag wrapped him, he was the honored
dead of the nation. God keep him! The Chaplain turned with a swing and
raised his prayer-book to read the committal. The long black box--the
boy was very tall--was being lowered gently, tenderly. Suddenly the
heroic vision of Santiago vanished and he seemed to see again the
rumpled head and the alert, eager, rosy face of the boy playing
football--the head that lay there! An iron grip caught his throat, and
if a sound had come it would have been a sob. Poor little boy! Poor
little hero! To exchange all life's sweetness for that fiery glory! Not
to have known the meaning of living--of loving--of being loved!

The beautiful, tender voice rang out again so that each one heard it to
the farthest limit of the great crowd--"We therefore commit his body to
the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; looking for
the general resurrection in the last day, and the life of the world to
come."

       *       *       *       *       *

An hour later the boy's mother sat in her room at the hotel and opened
a tin box of letters, found with his traps, and given her with the rest.
She had planned it for this time and had left the box unopened.
To-morrow she must take up life and try to carry it, with the boy gone,
but to-day she must and would be what is called morbid. She looked over
the bend in the river to the white-dotted cemetery--she could tell where
lay the new mound, flower-covered, above his yellow head. She looked
away quickly and bent over the box in her lap and turned the key. Her
own handwriting met her eyes first; all her letters for six months back
were there, scattered loosely about the box. She gathered them up,
slipping them through her fingers to be sure of the writing. Letter
after letter, all hers.

"They were his love-letters," she said to herself. "He never had any
others, dear little boy--my dear little boy!"

Underneath were more letters, a package first; quite a lot of them,
thirty, fifty--it was hard to guess--held together by a rubber strap.
The strap broke as she drew out the first envelope and they fell all
about her, some on the floor, but she did not notice it, for the address
was in a feminine writing that had a vague familiarity. She stopped a
moment, with the envelope in one hand and the fingers of the other hand
on the folded paper inside. It felt like a dishonorable thing to
do--like prying into the boy's secrets, forcing his confidence; and she
had never done that. Yet some one must know whether these papers of his
should be burned or kept, and who was there but herself? She drew out
the letter. It began "My dearest." The boy's mother stopped short and
drew a trembling breath, with a sharp, jealous pain. She had not known.
Then she lifted her head and saw the dots of white on the green earth
across the bay and her heart grew soft for that other woman to whom he
had been "dearest" too, who must suffer this sorrow of losing him too.
But she could not read her letters, she must send them, take them to
her, and tell her that his mother had held them sacred. She turned to
the signature.

"And so you must believe, darling, that I am and always will
be--always, always, with love and kisses, your own dear, little 'Good
Queen Bess.'"

It was not the sort of an ending to a letter she would have expected
from the girl he loved, for the boy, though most undemonstrative, had
been intense and taken his affections seriously always. But one can
never tell, and the girl was probably quite young. But who was she? The
signature gave no clew; the date was two years before, and from New
York--sufficiently vague! She would have to read until she found the
thread, and as she read the wonder grew that so flimsy a personality
could have held her boy. One letter, two, three, six, and yet no sign to
identify the writer. She wrote first from New York on the point of
starting for a long stay abroad, and the other letters were all from
different places on the other side. Once in awhile a familiar name
cropped up, but never to give any clew. There were plenty of people whom
she called by their Christian names, but that helped nothing. And often
she referred to their engagement--to their marriage to come. It was hard
for the boy's mother, who believed she had had his confidence. But
there was one letter from Vienna that made her lighter-hearted as to
that.

"My dear sweet darling," it began, "I haven't written you very often
from here, but then I don't believe you know the difference, for you
never scold at all, even if I'm ever so long in writing. And as for you,
you rascal, you write less and less, and shorter and shorter. If I
didn't know for certain--but then, of course, you love me? Don't you,
you dearest boy? Of course you do, and who wouldn't? Now don't think I'm
really so conceited as that, for I only mean it in joke, but in earnest,
I might think it if I let myself, for they make such a fuss over me
here--you never saw anything like it! The Prince von H---- told Mamma
yesterday I was the prettiest girl who had been here in ten years--what
do you think of that, sir? The officers are as thick as bees wherever I
go, and I ride with them and dance with them and am having just the
loveliest time! You don't mind that, do you, darling, even if we are
engaged? Oh, about telling your mother--no, sir, you just cannot! You've
begged me all along to do that, but you might as well stop, for I
won't. You write more about that than anything else, it seems to me, and
I'll believe soon you are more in love with your mother than with me. So
take care! Remember, you promised that night at the hop at West
Point--what centuries ago it seems, and it was a year and a half!--that
you would not tell a living soul, not even your mother, until I said so.
You see, it might get out and--oh, what's the use of fussing? It might
spoil all my good time, and though I'm just as devoted as ever, and as
much in love, you big, handsome thing--yes, just exactly!--still, I want
to have a good time. Why shouldn't I? As the Prince would say, I'm
pretty enough--but that's nonsense, of course."

The letter was signed like all the others "Good Queen Bess," a foolish
enough name for a girl to call herself, the boy's mother thought, a
touch contemptuously. She sat several minutes with that letter in her
hand.

"I'll believe soon that you are more in love with your mother than you
are with me"--that soothed the sore spot in her heart wonderfully.
Wasn't it so, perhaps. It seemed to her that the boy had fallen into
this affair suddenly, impulsively, without realizing its meaning, and
that his loyalty had held him fast, after the glamour was gone. And
perhaps the girl, too. For the boy had much besides himself, and there
were girls who might think of that.

The next letter went far to confirm this theory.

"Of course I don't want to break our engagement," the girl wrote. "What
makes you ask such a question? I fully expect to marry you some day, of
course, when I have had my little 'fling,' and I should just go crazy if
I thought you didn't love me as much as always. You would if you saw me,
for they all say I'm prettier than ever. You don't want to break the
engagement, do you? Please, please, don't say so, for I couldn't bear
it."

And in the next few lines she mentioned herself by name. It was a
well-known name to the boy's mother, that of the daughter of a cousin
with whom she had never been over-intimate. She had had notes from the
girl a few times, once or twice from abroad, which accounted for the
familiarity of the writing. So she gathered the letters together, the
last one dated only a month before, and put them one side to send back.

"She will soon get over it," she said, and sighed as she turned to the
papers still left in the bottom of the box. There were only a few, a
thin packet of six or eight, and one lying separate. She slipped the
rubber band from the packet and looked hard at the irregular, strong
writing, woman's or man's, it was hard to say which. Then she spread out
the envelopes and took them in order by the postmarks. The first was a
little note, thanking him for a book, a few lines of clever nothing
signed by a woman's name which she had never heard.

       *       *       *       *       *

"My dear Mr. ----," it ran. "Indeed you did get ahead of 'all the others'
in sending me 'The Gentleman from Indiana,' So far ahead that the next
man in the procession is not even in sight yet. I hate to tell you that,
but honesty demands it. I have taken just one sidewise peep at 'The
Gentleman'--and like his looks immensely--but to-morrow night I am
going to pretend I have a headache and stay home from the concert where
the family are going, and turn cannibal and devour him. I hope nothing
will interrupt me. Unless--I wonder if you are conceited enough to
imagine what is one of the very few things I would like to have
interrupt me? After that bit of boldness I think I must stop writing to
you. I mean it just the same. And thanking you a thousand times again, I
am,

                                     "Sincerely yours."

There were four or five more of this sort, sometimes only a day or two,
sometimes a month apart; always with some definite reason for the
writing, flowers or books to thank him for, a walk to arrange, an
invitation to dinner. Charming, bright, friendly notes, with the happy
atmosphere of a perfect understanding between them, of mutual interests
and common enthusiasms.

"She was very different from the other," the boy's mother sighed, as she
took up an unread letter--there were but two more. There was no harm in
reading such letters as these, she thought with relief, and noticed as
she drew the paper from the envelope that the postmark was two months
later.

"You want me to write once that I love you"--that is the way it began.

The woman who read dropped it suddenly as if it had burned her. Was it
possible? Her light-hearted boy, whose short life she had been so sure
had held nothing but a boy's, almost a child's, joys and sorrows! The
other affair was surprise enough, and a sad surprise, yet after all it
had not touched him deeply, she felt certain of that; but this was
another question. She knew instinctively that if love had grown from
such a solid foundation as this sweet and happy and reasonable
friendship with this girl, whose warm heart and deep soul shone through
her clear and simple words, it would be a different love from anything
that other poor, flimsy child could inspire. "L'amitie, c'est l'amour
sans ailes." But sometimes when men and women have let the quiet, safe
god Friendship fold his arms gently around them, he spreads suddenly a
pair of sinning wings and carries them off--to heaven--wherever he
wills it, and only then they see that he is not Friendship, but Love.

She picked up the letter again and read on:

"You want me to write once that I love you, so that you may read it with
your eyes, if you may not hear it with your ears. Is that it--is that
what you want, dear? Which question is a foolish sort of way for me to
waste several drops of ink, considering that your letter is open before
me. And your picture just back of it, your brown eyes looking over the
edge so eagerly, so actually alive that it seems very foolish to be
making signs to you on paper at all. How much simpler just to say half a
word and then--then! Only we two can fill up that dash, but we can fill
it full, can't we? However, I'm not doing what you want, and--will you
not tell yourself, if I tell you something? To do what you want is just
the one thing on earth I like most to do. I think you have magnetized me
into a jelly-fish, for at times I seem to have no will at all. I believe
if you asked me to do the Chinese kotow, and bend to the earth before
you, I'd secretly be dying to do it. But I wouldn't, you know, I
promise you that. I give you credit for liking a live woman, with a will
of her own, better than a jelly-fish. And anyway I wouldn't--if you
liked me for it or not--so you see it's no use urging me. And still I
haven't done what you want--what was it now? Oh, to tell you that--but
the words frighten me, they are so big. That I--I--I--love you. Is it
that? I haven't said it yet, remember. I'm only asking a question. Do
you know I have an objection to sitting here in cold blood and writing
that down in cold ink? If it were only a little dark now, and your
shoulder--and I could hide my head--you can't get off for a minute? Ah,
I am scribbling along light-heartedly, when all the time the sword of
Damocles is hanging over us both, when my next letter may have to be
good-by for always. If that fate comes you will find me steady to stand
by you, to help you. I will say those three little words, so little and
so big, to you once again, and then I will live them by giving up what
is dearest to me--that's you, dear--that your 'conduct' may not be
'unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.' You must keep your word. If
the worst comes, will you always remember that as an American woman's
patriotism. There could be none truer. I could send you marching off to
Cuba--and how about that, is it war surely?--with a light heart, knowing
that you were giving yourself for a holy cause and going to honor and
fame, though perhaps, dear, to a soldier's death. And I would pray for
you and remember your splendid strength, and think always of seeing you
march home again, and then only your mother could be more proud than I.
That would be easy, in comparison. Write me about the war--but, of
course, you would not be sent.

"Now here is the very end of my letter, and I haven't yet said it--what
you wanted. But here it Is, bend your head, from away up there, and
listen. Now--do you hear--I love you. Good-by, good-by, I love you."

The papers rustled softly in the silent room, and the boy's mother, as
she put the letter back, kissed it, and it was as if ghostly lips
touched hers, for the boy had kissed those words, she knew.

The next was only a note, written just before his sailing to Cuba.

"A fair voyage and a short one, a good fight and a quick one," the note
said. "It is my country as well as yours you are going to fight for, and
I give you with all my heart. All of it will be with you and all my
thoughts, too, every minute of every day, so you need never wonder if
I'm thinking of you. And soon the Spaniards will be beaten and you'll be
coming home again 'crowned with glory and honor,' and the bands will
play fighting music, and the flag will be flying over you, for you, and
in all proud America there will be no prouder soul than I--unless it is
your mother. Good-by, good-by--God be with you, my very dearest."

He had come home "crowned with glory and honor." And the bands had
played martial music for him. But his horse stood riderless by his
grave, and the empty cavalry boots hung, top down, from the saddle.

Loose in the bottom of the box lay a folded sheet of paper, and, hidden
under it, an envelope, the face side down. When the boy's mother opened
the paper, it was his own crabbed, uneven writing that met her eye.

"They say there will be a fight to-morrow," he wrote, "and we're likely
to be in it. If I come out right, you will not see this, and I hope I
shall, for the world is sweet with you in it. But if I'm hit, then this
will go to you. I'm leaving a line for my mother and will enclose this
and ask her to send it to you. You must find her and be good to her, if
that happens. I want you to know that if I die, my last thought will
have been of you, and if I have the chance to do anything worth while,
it will be for your sake. I could die happy if I might do even a small
thing that would make you proud of me."

The sorrowful woman drew a long, shivering breath as she thought of the
magnificent courage of that painful passing up San Juan Hill, wounded,
crawling on, with a pluck that the shades of death could not dim. Would
she be proud of him?

The line for herself he had never written. There was only the empty
envelope lying alone in the box. She turned it in her hand and saw it
was addressed to the girl to whom he had been engaged. Slowly it dawned
on her that to every appearance this envelope belonged to the letter she
had just read, his letter of the night before the battle. She recoiled
at the thought--those last sacred words of his, to go to that
empty-souled girl! All that she would find in them would be a little
fuel for her vanity, while the other--she put her fingers on the
irregular, back writing, and felt as if a strong young hand held hers
again. She would understand, that other; she had thought of his mother
in the stress of her own strongest feeling; she had loved him for
himself, not for vanity. This letter was hers, the mother knew it. And
yet the envelope, with the other address, had lain just under it, and
she had been his promised wife. She could not face her boy in heaven if
this last earthly wish of his should go wrong through her. How could she
read the boy's mind now? What was right to do?

The twilight fell over Crow Nest, and over the river and the heaped-up
mountains that lie about West Point, and in the quiet room the boy's
mother sat perplexed, uncertain, his letter in her hands; yet with a
vague sense of coming comfort in her heart as she thought of the girl
who would surely "find her and be good to her," But across the water, on
the hillside, the boy lay quiet.




A MESSENGER


    How oft do they their silver bowers leave,
    To come to succour us that succour want!
    How oft do they with golden pineons cleave
    The flitting skyes, like flying Pursuivant,
    Against fowle feendes to ayd us militant!
    They for us fight, they watch and dewly ward,
    And their bright Squadrons round about us plant;
    And all for love, and nothing for reward.
    O! Why should heavenly God to men have such
    regard?

    --_Spenser's "Faerie Queene."_


That the other world of our hope rests on no distant, shining star, but
lies about us as an atmosphere, unseen yet near, is the belief of many.
The veil of material life shades earthly eyes, they say, from the
glories in which we ever are. But sometimes when the veil wears thin in
mortal stress, or is caught away by a rushing, mighty wind of
inspiration, the trembling human soul, so bared, so purified, may look
down unimagined heavenly vistas, and messengers may steal across the
shifting boundary, breathing hope and the air of a brighter world. And
of him who speaks his vision, men say "He is mad," or "He has dreamed."

       *       *       *       *       *

The group of officers in the tent was silent for a long half minute
after Colonel Wilson's voice had stopped. Then the General spoke.

"There is but one thing to do," he said. "We must get word to Captain
Thornton at once."

The Colonel thought deeply a moment, and glanced at the orderly outside
the tent. "Flannigan!" The man, wheeling swiftly, saluted. "Present my
compliments to Lieutenant Morgan and say that I should like to see him
here at once," and the soldier went off, with the quick military
precision in which there is no haste and no delay.

"You have some fine, powerful young officers, Colonel," said the General
casually. "I suppose we shall see in Lieutenant Morgan one of the best.
It will take strength and brains both, perhaps, for this message."

A shadow of a smile touched the Colonel's lips. "I think I have chosen
a capable man, General," was all he said.

Against the doorway of the tent the breeze blew the flap lazily back and
forth. A light rain fell with muffled gentle insistence on the canvas
over their heads, and out through the opening the landscape was
blurred--the wide stretch of monotonous, billowy prairie, the sluggish,
shining river, bending in the distance about the base of Black Wind
Mountain--Black Wind Mountain, whose high top lifted, though it was
almost June, a white point of snow above dark pine ridges of the hills
below. The five officers talked a little as they waited, but
spasmodically, absent-mindedly. A shadow blocked the light of the
entrance, and in the doorway stood a young man, undersized, slight,
blond. He looked inquiringly at the Colonel.

"You sent for me, sir?" and the General and his aide, and the grizzled
old Captain, and the big, fresh-faced young one, all watched him.

In direct, quiet words--words whose bareness made them dramatic for the
weight of possibility they carried--the Colonel explained. Black Wolf
and his band were out on the war-path. A soldier coming in wounded,
escaped from the massacre of the post at Devil's Hoof Gap, had reported
it. With the large command known to be here camped on Sweetstream Fork,
they would not come this way; they would swerve up the Gunpowder River
twenty miles away, destroying the settlement and Little Fort Slade, and
would sweep on, probably for a general massacre, up the Great Horn as
far as Fort Doncaster. He himself, with the regiment, would try to save
Fort Slade, but in the meantime, Captain Thornton's troop, coming to
join him, ignorant that Black Wolf had taken the war-path, would be
directly in their track. Some one must be sent to warn them, and of
course the fewer the quicker. Lieutenant Morgan would take a sergeant,
the Colonel ordered quietly, and start at once.

In the misty light inside the tent, the young officer looked hardly more
than seventeen years old as he stood listening. His small figure was
light, fragile; his hair was blond to an extreme, a thick thatch of
pale gold; and there was about him, among these tanned, stalwart men in
uniform, a presence, an effect of something unusual, a simplicity out of
place yet harmonious, which might have come with a little child into a
scene like this. His large blue eyes were fixed on the Colonel as he
talked, and in them was just such a look of innocent, pleased wonder, as
might be in a child's eyes, who had been told to leave studying and go
pick violets. But as the Colonel ended he spoke, and the few words he
said, the few questions he asked, were full of poise, of crisp
directness. As the General volunteered a word or two, he turned to him
and answered with a very charming deference, a respect that was yet full
of gracious ease, the unconscious air of a man to whom generals are
first as men, and then as generals. The slight figure in its dark
uniform was already beyond the tent doorway when the Colonel spoke
again, with a shade of hesitation in his manner.

"Mr. Morgan!" and the young officer turned quickly. "I think it may be
right to warn you that there is likely to be more than usual danger in
your ride."

"Yes, sir." The fresh, young voice had a note of inquiry.

"You will--you will"--what was it the Colonel wanted to say? He finished
abruptly. "Choose the man carefully who goes with you."

"Thank you, Colonel," Morgan responded heartily, but with a hint of
bewilderment. "I shall take Sergeant O'Hara," and he was gone.

There was a touch of color in the Colonel's face, and he sighed as if
glad to have it over. The General watched him, and slowly, after a
pause, he demanded:

"May I ask, Colonel, why you chose that blond baby to send on a mission
of uncommon danger and importance?"

The Colonel answered quietly: "There were several reasons, General--good
ones. The blond baby"--that ghost of a smile touched the Colonel's lips
again--"the blond baby has some remarkable qualities. He never loses his
head; he has uncommon invention and facility of getting out of bad
holes; he rides light and so can make a horse last longer than most,
and"--the Colonel considered a moment--"I may say he has no fear of
death. Even among my officers he is known for the quality of his
courage. There is one more reason: he is the most popular man I have,
both with officers and men; if anything happened to Morgan the whole
command would race into hell after the devils that did it, before they
would miss their revenge."

The General reflected, pulling at his mustache. "It seems a bit like
taking advantage of his popularity," he said.

"It is," the Colonel threw back quickly. "It's just that. But that's
what one must do--a commanding officer--isn't it so, General? In this
war music we play on human instruments, and if a big chord comes out
stronger for the silence of a note, the note must be silenced--that's
all. It's cruel, but it's fighting; it's the game."

The General, as if impressed with the tense words, did not respond, and
the other officers stared at the Colonel's face, as carved, as stern as
if done in marble--a face from which the warm, strong heart seldom
shone, held back always by the stronger will.

The big, fresh-colored young Captain broke the silence. "Has the General
ever heard of the trick Morgan played on Sun Boy, sir?" he asked.

"Tell the General, Captain Booth," the Colonel said briefly, and the
Captain turned toward the higher officer.

"It was apropos of what the Colonel said of his inventive faculties,
General," he began. "A year ago the youngster with a squad of ten men
walked into Sun Boy's camp of seventy-five warriors. Morgan had made
quite a pet of a young Sioux, who was our prisoner for five months, and
the boy had taught him a lot of the language, and assured him that he
would have the friendship of the band in return for his kindness to Blue
Arrow--that was the chap's name. So he thought he was safe; but it
turned out that Blue Arrow's father, a chief, had got into a row with
Sun Boy, and the latter would not think of ratifying the boy's promise.
So there was Morgan with his dozen men, in a nasty enough fix. He knew
plenty of Indian talk to understand that they were discussing what they
would do with him, and it wasn't pleasant.

"All of a sudden he had an inspiration. He tells the story himself, sir,
and I assure you he'd make you laugh--Morgan is a wonderful mimic. Well,
he remembered suddenly, as I said, that he was a mighty good
ventriloquist, and he saw his chance. He gave a great jump like a
startled fawn, and threw up his arms and stared like one demented into
the tree over their heads. There was a mangy-looking crow sitting up
there on a branch, and Morgan pointed at him as if at something
marvellous, supernatural, and all those fool Indians stopped pow-wowing
and stared up after him, as curious as monkeys. Then to all appearances,
the crow began to talk. Morgan said they must have thought that spirits
didn't speak very choice Sioux, but he did his best. The bird cawed out:

"'Oh, Sun Boy, great chief, beware what you do!'

"And then the real bird flapped its wings and Morgan thought it was
going to fly, and he was lost. But it settled back again on the branch,
and Morgan proceeded to caw on:

"'Hurt not the white man, or the curses of the gods will come upon Sun
Boy and his people.'

"And he proceeded to give a list of what would happen if the Indians
touched a hair of their heads. By this time the red devils were all down
on their stomachs, moaning softly whenever Morgan stopped cawing. He
said he quite got into the spirit of it and would have liked to go on
some time, but he was beginning to get hoarse, and besides he was in
deadly terror for fear the crow would fly before he got to the point. So
he had the spirit order them to give the white men their horses and turn
them loose instanter; and just as he got all through, off went the thing
with a big flap and a parting caw on its own account. I wish I could
tell it as Morgan does--you'd think he was a bird and an Indian rolled
together. He's a great actor spoiled, that lad."

"You leave out a fine point, to my mind, Captain Booth," the Colonel
said quickly. "About his going back."

"Oh! certainly that ought to be told," said the Captain, and the
General's eyes turned to him again. "Morgan forgot to see young Blue
Arrow, his friend, before he got away, and nothing would do but that he
should go back and speak to him. He said the boy would be disappointed.
The men were visibly uneasy at his going, but that didn't affect him. He
ordered them to wait, and back he went, pell-mell, all alone into that
horde of fiends. They hadn't got over their funk, luckily, and he saw
Blue Arrow and made his party call and got out again all right. He
didn't tell that himself, but Sergeant O'Hara made the camp ring with
it. He adores Morgan, and claims that he doesn't know what fear is. I
believe it's about so. I've seen him in a fight three times now. His cap
always goes off--he loses a cap every blessed scrimmage--and with that
yellow mop of hair, and a sort of rapt expression he gets, he looks like
a child saying its prayers all the time he is slashing and shooting like
a berserker." Captain Booth faced abruptly toward the Colonel. "I beg
your pardon for talking so long, sir," he said. "You know we're all
rather keen about little Miles Morgan."

The General lifted his head suddenly. "Miles Morgan?" he demanded. "Is
his name Miles Morgan."

The Colonel nodded. "Yes. The grandson of the old Bishop--named for
him."

"Lord!" ejaculated the General. "Miles Morgan was my earliest friend, my
friend until he died! This must be Jim's son--Miles's only child. And
Jim is dead these ten years," he went on rapidly. "I've lost track of
him since the Bishop died, but I knew Jim left children. Why, he
married"--he searched rapidly in his memory--"he married a daughter of
General Fitzbrian's. This boy's got the church and the army both in him.
I knew his mother," he went on, talking to the Colonel, garrulous with
interest. "Irish and fascinating she was--believed in fairies and ghosts
and all that, as her father did before her. A clever woman, but with the
superstitious, wild Irish blood strong in her. Good Lord! I wish I'd
known that was Miles Morgan's grandson."

The Colonel's voice sounded quiet and rather cold after the General's
impulsive enthusiasm. "You have summed him up by his antecedents,
General," he said. "The church and the army--both strains are strong. He
is deeply religious."

The General looked thoughtful. "Religious, eh? And popular? They don't
always go together."

Captain Booth spoke quickly. "It's not that kind, General," he said.
"There's no cant in the boy. He's more popular for it--that's often so
with the genuine thing, isn't it? I sometimes think"--the young
Captain hesitated and smiled a trifle deprecatingly--"that Morgan is
much of the same stuff as Gordon--Chinese Gordon; the martyr stuff, you
know. But it seems a bit rash to compare an every-day American youngster
to an inspired hero."

"There's nothing in Americanism to prevent either inspiration or heroism
that I know of," the General affirmed stoutly, his fine old head up, his
eyes gleaming with pride of his profession.

Out through the open doorway, beyond the slapping tent-flap, the keen,
gray eyes of the Colonel were fixed musingly on two black points which
crawled along the edge of the dulled silver of the distant river--Miles
Morgan and Sergeant O'Hara had started.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Sergeant!" They were eight miles out now, and the camp had disappeared
behind the elbow of Black Wind Mountain. "There's something wrong with
your horse. Listen! He's not loping evenly." The soft cadence of eight
hoofs on earth had somewhere a lighter and then a heavier note; the ear
of a good horseman tells in a minute, as a musician's ear at a false
note, when an animal saves one foot ever so slightly, to come down
harder on another.

"Yessirr. The Lieutenant'll remimber 'tis the horrse that had a bit of a
spavin, Sure I thot 'twas cured, and 'tis the kindest baste in the
rigiment f'r a pleasure ride, sorr--that willin' 'tis. So I tuk it. I
think 'tis only the stiffness at furrst aff. 'Twill wurruk aff later.
Plaze God, I'll wallop him." And the Sergeant walloped with a will.

But the kindest beast in the regiment failed to respond except with a
plunge and increased lameness. Soon there was no more question of his
incapacity.

Lieutenant Morgan halted his mount, and, looking at the woe-begone
O'Hara, laughed. "A nice trick this is, Sergeant," he said, "to start
out on a trip to dodge Indians with a spavined horse. Why didn't you get
a broomstick? Now go back to camp as fast as you can go; and that horse
ought to be blistered when you get there. See if you can't really cure
him. He's too good to be shot." He patted the gray's nervous head, and
the beast rubbed it gently against his sleeve, quiet under his hand.

"Yessirr. The Lieutenant'll ride slow, sorr, f'r me to catch up on ye,
sorr?"

Miles Morgan smiled and shook his head. "Sorry, Sergeant, but there'll
be no slow riding in this. I'll have to press right on without you; I
must be at Massacre Mountain to-night to catch Captain Thornton
to-morrow."

Sergeant O'Hara's chin dropped. "Sure the Lieutenant'll niver be
thinkin' to g'wan alone--widout _me_?" and with all the sergeant's
respect of his superiors, it took the Lieutenant ten valuable minutes to
get the man started back, shaking his head and muttering forebodings, to
the camp.

It was quiet riding on alone. There were a few miles to go before there
was any chance of Indians, and no particular lookout to be kept, so he
put the horse ahead rapidly while he might, and suddenly he found
himself singing softly as he galloped. How the words had come to him he
did not know, for no conscious train of thought had brought them; but
they surely fitted to the situation, and a pleasant sense of
companionship, of safety, warmed him as the swing of an old hymn carried
his voice along with it.

    God shall charge His angel legions
      Watch and ward o'er thee to keep;
    Though thou walk through hostile regions,
      Though in desert wilds thou sleep.

Surely a man riding toward--perhaps through--skulking Indian hordes, as
he must, could have no better message reach him than that. The bent of
his mind was toward mysticism, and while he did not think the train of
reasoning out, could not have said that he believed it so, yet the
familiar lines flashing suddenly, clearly, on the curtain of his mind,
seemed to him, very simply, to be sent from a larger thought than his
own. As a child might take a strong hand held out as it walked over
rough country, so he accepted this quite readily and happily, as from
that Power who was never far from him, and in whose service, beyond most
people, he lived and moved. Low but clear and deep his voice went on,
following one stanza with its mate:

    Since with pure and firm affection
      Thou on God hast set thy love,
    With the wings of His protection
      He will shield thee from above.

The simplicity of his being sheltered itself in the broad promise of the
words.

Light-heartedly he rode on and on, though now more carefully; lying flat
and peering over the crests of hills a long time before he crossed
their tops; going miles perhaps through ravines; taking advantage of
every bit of cover where a man and a horse might be hidden; travelling
as he had learned to travel in three years of experience in this
dangerous Indian country, where a shrub taken for granted might mean a
warrior, and that warrior a hundred others within signal. It was his
plan to ride until about twelve--to reach Massacre Mountain, and there
rest his horse and himself till gray daylight. There was grass there and
a spring--two good and innocent things that had been the cause of the
bad, dark thing which had given the place its name. A troop under
Captain James camping at this point, because of the water and grass, had
been surprised and wiped out by five hundred Indian braves of the wicked
and famous Red Crow. There were ghastly signs about the place yet;
Morgan had seen them, but soldiers may not have nerves, and it was good
camping ground.

On through the valleys and half-way up the slopes, which rolled here far
away into a still wilder world, the young man rode. Behind the distant
hills in the east a glow like fire flushed the horizon. A rim of pale
gold lifted sharply over the ridge; a huge round ball of light pushed
faster, higher, and lay, a bright world on the edge of the world, great
against the sky--the moon had risen. The twilight trembled as the yellow
rays struck into its depths, and deepened, dying into purple shadows.
Across the plain zigzagged pools of a level stream, as if a giant had
spilled handfuls of quicksilver here and there.

Miles Morgan, riding, drank in all the mysterious, wild beauty, as a man
at ease; as open to each fair impression as if he were not riding each
moment into deeper danger, as if his every sense were not on guard. On
through the shining moonlight and in the shadow of the hills he rode,
and, where he might, through the trees, and stopped to listen often, to
stare at the hill-tops, to question a heap of stones or a bush.

At last, when his leg-weary horse was beginning to stumble a bit, he
saw, as he came around a turn, Massacre Mountain's dark head rising in
front of him, only half a mile away. The spring trickled its low song,
as musical, as limpidly pure as if it had never run scarlet. The
picketed horse fell to browsing and Miles sighed restfully as he laid
his head on his saddle and fell instantly to sleep with the light of the
moon on his damp, fair hair. But he did not sleep long. Suddenly with a
start he awoke, and sat up sharply, and listened. He heard the horse
still munching grass near him, and made out the shadow of its bulk
against the sky; he heard the stream, softly falling and calling to the
waters where it was going. That was all. Strain his hearing as he might
he could hear nothing else in the still night. Yet there was something.
It might not be sound or sight, but there was a presence, a
something--he could not explain. He was alert in every nerve. Suddenly
the words of the hymn he had been singing in the afternoon flashed again
into his mind, and, with his cocked revolver in his hand, alone, on
guard, in the midnight of the savage wilderness, the words came that
were not even a whisper:

    God shall charge His angel legions
      Watch and ward o'er thee to keep;
    Though thou walk through hostile regions,
      Though in desert wilds thou sleep.

He gave a contented sigh and lay down. What was there to worry about? It
was just his case for which the hymn was written. "Desert wilds"--that
surely meant Massacre Mountain, and why should he not sleep here
quietly, and let the angels keep their watch and ward? He closed his
eyes with a smile. But sleep did not come, and soon his eyes were open
again, staring into blackness, thinking, thinking.

It was Sunday when he started out on this mission, and he fell to
remembering the Sunday nights at home--long, long ago they seemed now.
The family sang hymns after supper always; his mother played, and the
children stood around her--five of them, Miles and his brothers and
sisters. There was a little sister with brown hair about her shoulders,
who always stood by Miles, leaned against him, held his hand, looked up
at him with adoring eyes--he could see those uplifted eyes now, shining
through the darkness of this lonely place. He remembered the big,
home-like room; the crackling fire; the peaceful atmosphere of books and
pictures; the dumb things about its walls that were yet eloquent to him
of home and family; the sword that his great-grandfather had worn under
Washington; the old ivories that another great-grandfather, the Admiral,
had brought from China; the portraits of Morgans of half a dozen
generations which hung there; the magazine table, the books and books
and books. A pang of desperate homesickness suddenly shook him. He
wanted them--his own. Why should he, their best-beloved, throw away his
life--a life filled to the brim with hope and energy and high ideals--on
this futile quest? He knew quite as well as the General or the Colonel
that his ride was but a forlorn hope. As he lay there, longing so, in
the dangerous dark, he went about the library at home in his thought and
placed each familiar belonging where he had known it all his life. And
as he finished, his mother's head shone darkly golden by the piano; her
fingers swept over the keys; he heard all their voices, the dear
never-forgotten voices. Hark! They were singing his hymn--little Alice's
reedy note lifted above the others--"God shall charge His angel
legions--"

Now! He was on his feet with a spring, and his revolver pointed
steadily. This time there was no mistaking--something had rustled in the
bushes. There was but one thing for it to be--Indians. Without realizing
what he did, he spoke sharply.

"Who goes there?" he demanded, and out of the darkness a voice answered
quietly:

"A friend."

"A friend?" With a shock of relief the pistol dropped by his side, and
he stood tense, waiting. How might a friend be here, at midnight in this
desert? As the thought framed itself swiftly the leaves parted, and his
straining eyes saw the figure of a young man standing before him.

"How came you here?" demanded Miles sternly. "Who are you?"

Even in the dimness he could see the radiant smile that answered him.
The calm voice spoke again: "You will understand that later. I am here
to help you."

As if a door had suddenly opened into that lighted room of which he
dreamed, Miles felt a sense of tranquillity, of happiness stirring
through him. Never in his life had he known such a sudden utter
confidence in anyone, such a glow of eager friendliness as this
half-seen, mysterious stranger inspired. "It is because I was lonelier
than I knew," he said mentally. "It is because human companionship gives
courage to the most self-reliant of us"; and somewhere in the words he
was aware of a false note, but he did not stop to place it.

The low, even voice of the stranger spoke again. "There are Indians on
your trail," he said. "A small band of Black Wolf's scouts. But don't be
troubled. They will not hurt you."

"You escaped from them?" demanded Miles eagerly, and again the light of
a swift smile shone into the night. "You came to save me--how was it?
Tell me, so that we can plan. It is very dark yet, but hadn't we better
ride? Where is your horse?"

He threw the earnest questions rapidly across the black night, and the
unhurried voice answered him. "No," it said, and the verdict was not to
be disputed. "You must stay here."

Who this man might be or how he came Miles could not tell, but this much
he knew, without reason for knowing it; it was someone stronger than he,
in whom he could trust. As the newcomer had said, it would be time
enough later to understand the rest. Wondering a little at his own swift
acceptance of an unknown authority, wondering more at the peace which
wrapped him as an atmosphere at the sound of the stranger's voice, Miles
made a place for him by his side, and the two talked softly to the
plashing undertone of the stream.

Easily, naturally, Miles found himself telling how he had been homesick,
longing for his people. He told him of the big familiar room, and of the
old things that were in it, that he loved; of his mother; of little
Alice, and her baby adoration for the big brother; of how they had
always sung hymns together Sunday night; he never for a moment doubted
the stranger's interest and sympathy--he knew that he cared to hear.

"There is a hymn," Miles said, "that we used to sing a lot--it was my
favorite; 'Miles's hymn,' the family called it. Before you came
to-night, while I lay there getting lonelier every minute, I almost
thought I heard them singing it. You may not have heard it, but it has a
grand swing. I always think"--he hesitated--"it always seems to me as if
the God of battles and the beauty of holiness must both have filled the
man's mind who wrote it." He stopped, surprised at his own lack of
reserve, at the freedom with which, to this friend of an hour, he spoke
his inmost heart.

"I know," the stranger said gently. There was silence for a moment, and
then the wonderful low tones, beautiful, clear, beyond any voice Miles
had ever heard, began again, and it was as if the great sweet notes of
an organ whispered the words:

    God shall charge His angel legions
      Watch and ward o'er thee to keep;
    Though thou walk through hostile regions,
      Though in desert wilds thou sleep.

"Great Heavens!" gasped Miles. "How could you know I meant that? Why,
this is marvellous--why, this"--he stared, speechless, at the dim
outlines of the face which he had never seen before to-night, but which
seemed to him already familiar and dear beyond all reason. As he gazed
the tall figure rose, lightly towering above him. "Look!" he said, and
Miles was on his feet. In the east, beyond the long sweep of the
prairie, was a faint blush against the blackness; already threads of
broken light, of pale darkness, stirred through the pall of the air; the
dawn was at hand.

"We must saddle," Miles said, "and be off. Where is your horse
picketed?" he demanded again.

But the strange young man stood still; and now his arm was stretched
pointing. "Look," he said again, and Miles followed the direction with
his eyes.

From the way he had come, in that fast-growing glow at the edge of the
sky, sharp against the mist of the little river, crept slowly half a
dozen pin points, and Miles, watching their tiny movement, knew that
they were ponies bearing Indian braves. He turned hotly to his
companion.

"It's your fault," he said. "If I'd had my way we'd have ridden from
here an hour ago. Now here we are caught like rats in a trap; and who's
to do my work and save Thornton's troop--who's to save them--God!" The
name was a prayer, not an oath.

"Yes," said the quiet voice at his side, "God,"--and for a second there
was a silence that was like an Amen.

Quickly, without a word, Miles turned and began to saddle. Then suddenly
as he pulled at the girth, he stopped. "It's no use," he said. "We can't
get away except over the rise, and they'll see us there"; he nodded at
the hill which rose beyond the camping ground three hundred yards away,
and stretched in a long, level sweep into other hills and the west. "Our
chance is that they're not on my trail after all--it's quite possible."
There was a tranquil unconcern about the figure near him; his own bright
courage caught the meaning of its relaxed lines with a hound of
pleasure. "As you say, it's best to stay here," he said, and as if
thinking aloud--"I believe you must always be right." Then he added, as
if his very soul would speak itself to this wonderful new friend: "We
can't be killed, unless the Lord wills it, and if he does it's right.
Death is only the step into life; I suppose when we know that life, we
will wonder how we could have cared for this one."

Through the gray light the stranger turned his face swiftly, bent toward
Miles, and smiled once again, and the boy thought suddenly of the
martyrdom of St. Stephen, and how those who were looking "saw his face
as it had been the face of an angel."

Across the plain, out of the mist-wreaths, came rushing, scurrying, the
handful of Indian braves. Pale light streamed now from the east,
filtering over a hushed world. Miles faced across the plain, stood close
to the tall stranger whose shape, as the dawn touched it, seemed to rise
beyond the boy's slight figure wonderfully large and high. There was a
sense of unending power, of alertness, of great, easy movement about
him; one might have looked at him, and looking away again, have said
that wings were folded about him. But Miles did not see him. His eyes
were on the fast-nearing, galloping ponies, each with its load of
filthy, cruel savagery. This was his death coming; there was disgust,
but not dread in the thought for the boy. In a few minutes he should be
fighting hopelessly, fiercely against this froth of a lower world; in a
few minutes after that he should be lying here still--for he meant to be
killed; he had that planned. They should not take him--a wave of sick
repulsion at that thought shook him. Nearer, nearer, right on his track
came the riders pell-mell. He could hear their weird, horrible cries;
now he could see gleaming through the dimness the huge headdress of the
foremost, the white coronet of feathers, almost the stripes of paint on
the fierce face.

Suddenly a feeling that he knew well caught him, and he laughed. It was
the possession that had held in him in every action which he had so far
been in. It lifted his high-strung spirit into an atmosphere where there
was no dread and no disgust, only a keen rapture in throwing every atom
of soul and body into physical intensity; it was as if he himself were
a bright blade, dashing, cutting, killing, a living sword rejoicing to
destroy. With the coolness that may go with such a frenzy he felt that
his pistols were loose; saw with satisfaction that he and his new ally
were placed on the slope to the best advantage, then turned swiftly,
eager now for the fight to come, toward the Indian band. As he looked,
suddenly in mid-career, pulling in their plunging ponies with a jerk
that threw them, snorting, on their haunches, the warriors halted. Miles
watched in amazement. The bunch of Indians, not more than a hundred
yards away, were staring, arrested, startled, back of him to his right,
where the lower ridge of Massacre Mountain stretched far and level over
the valley that wound westward beneath it on the road to Fort
Rain-and-Thunder. As he gazed, the ponies had swept about and were
galloping back as they had come, across the plain.

Before he knew if it might be true, if he were not dreaming this curious
thing, the clear voice of his companion spoke in one word again, like
the single note of a deep bell. "Look!" he said, and Miles swung about
toward the ridge behind, following the pointing finger.

In the gray dawn the hill-top was clad with the still strength of an
army. Regiment after regiment, silent, motionless, it stretched back
into silver mist, and the mist rolled beyond, above, about it; and
through it he saw, as through rifts in broken gauze, lines interminable
of soldiers, glitter of steel. Miles, looking, knew.

He never remembered how long he stood gazing, earth and time and self
forgotten, at a sight not meant for mortal eyes; but suddenly, with a
stab it came to him, that if the hosts of heaven fought his battle it
was that he might do his duty, might save Captain Thornton and his men;
he turned to speak to the young man who had been with him. There was no
one there. Over the bushes the mountain breeze blew damp and cold; they
rustled softly under its touch; his horse stared at him mildly; away off
at the foot-hills he could see the diminishing dots of the fleeing
Indian ponies; as he wheeled again and looked, the hills that had been
covered with the glory of heavenly armies, lay hushed and empty. And
his friend was gone.

[Illustration: "Look!" he said, and Miles swung about toward the ridge
behind.]

Clatter of steel, jingle of harness, an order ringing out far but
clear--Miles threw up his head sharply and listened. In a second he was
pulling at his horse's girth, slipping the bit swiftly into its
mouth--in a moment more he was off and away to meet them, as a body of
cavalry swung out of the valley where the ridge had hidden them.

"Captain Thornton's troop?" the officer repeated carelessly. "Why, yes;
they are here with us. We picked them up yesterday, headed straight for
Black Wolf's war-path. Mighty lucky we found them. How about you--seen
any Indians, have you?"

Miles answered slowly: "A party of eight were on my trail; they were
riding for Massacre Mountain, where I camped, about an hour--about half
an hour--awhile ago." He spoke vaguely, rather oddly, the officer
thought, "Something--stopped them about a hundred yards from the
mountain. They turned, and rode away."

"Ah," said the officer. "They saw us down the valley."

"I couldn't see you," said Miles.

The officer smiled. "You're not an Indian, Lieutenant. Besides, they
were out on the plain and had a farther view behind the ridge." And
Miles answered not a word.

General Miles Morgan, full of years and of honors, has never but twice
told the story of that night of forty years ago. But he believes that
when his time comes, and he goes to join the majority, he will know
again the presence which guarded him through the blackness of it, and
among the angel legions he looks to find an angel, a messenger, who was
his friend.




THE AIDE-DE-CAMP


Age has a point or two in common with greatness; few willingly achieve
it, indeed, but most have it thrust upon them, and some are born old.
But there are people who, beginning young, are young forever. One might
fancy that the careless fates who shape souls--from cotton-batting, from
stone, from wood and dynamite and cheese--once in an aeon catch, by
chance, a drop of the fountain of youth, and use it in their business,
and the soul so made goes on bubbling and sparkling eternally, and gray
dust of years cannot dim it. It might be imagined, in another flight of
fancy, that a spark of divine fire from the brazier of the immortals
snaps loose once in a century and lodges in somebody, and is a
heart--with such a clean and happy flame burns sometimes a heart one
knows.

On a January evening, in a room where were books and a blazing hearth,
a man with a famous name and a long record told me a story, and through
his blunt speech flashed in and out all the time the sparkle of the fire
and the ripple of the fountain. Unsuspecting, he betrayed every minute
the queer thing that had happened to him--how he had never grown up and
his blood had never grown cold. So that the story, as it fell in easy
sequence, had a charm which was his and is hard to trap, yet it is too
good a story to leave unwritten. A picture goes with it, what I looked
at as I listened: a massive head on tremendous shoulders; bright white
hair and a black bar of eyebrows, striking and dramatic; underneath,
eyes dark and alive, a face deep red-and-brown with out of doors. His
voice had a rough command in it, because, I suppose, he had given many
orders to men. I tell the tale with this memory for a setting; the
firelight, the soldierly presence, the gayety of youth echoing through
it.

The fire had been forgotten as we talked, and I turned to see it dull
and lifeless. "It hasn't gone out, however," I said, and coughed as I
swallowed smoke. "There's no smoke without some fire," I poked the logs
together. "That's an old saw; but it's true all the same."

"Old saws always are true," said the General. "If there isn't something
in them that people know is so they don't get old--they die young. I
believe in the ridden-to-death proverbs--little pitchers with big
ears--cats with nine lives--still waters running deep--love at first
sight, and the rest. They're true, too." His straight look challenged me
to dispute him.

The pine knots caught and blazed up, and I went back comfortably into my
chair and laughed at him.

"O General! Come! You don't believe in love at first sight."

I liked to make him talk sentiment. He was no more afraid of it than of
anything else, and the warmest sort came out of his handling natural and
unashamed.

"I don't? Yes, I do, too," he fired at me. "I know it happens,
sometimes."

With that the lines of his face broke into the sunshiniest smile. He
threw back his head with sudden boyishness, and chuckled, "I ought to
know; I've had experience," he said. His look settled again
thoughtfully. "Did I ever tell you that story--the story about the day I
rode seventy-five miles? Well, I did that several times--I rode it once
to see my wife. But this was the first time, and a good deal happened.
It was a history-making day for me all right. That was when I was
aide-de-camp to General Stoneman. Have I told you that?"

"No," I said; and "oh, do tell me." I knew already that a fire and a
deep chair and one of the General's stories made a good combination.

His manner had a quality uncommon to storytellers; he spoke as if what
he told had occurred not in times gone by, but perhaps last week; it was
more gossip than history. Probably the sharp, full years had been so
short to him that the interval between twenty and seventy was no great
matter; things looked as clear and his interest was as lively as a
half-century ago. This trick of mind made a narrative of his vivid. With
eyes on the fire, with his dominant voice absorbing the crisp sound of
the crackling wood, he began to talk.

"It was down in Virginia in--let me see--why, certainly, it was in
'63--right away after the battle of Chancellorsville, you know." I kept
still and hoped the General thought I knew the date of the battle of
Chancellorsville. "I was part of a cavalry command that was sent from
the Army of the Potomac under General Stoneman--I was his aide. Well,
we did a lot of things--knocked out bridges and railroads, and all that;
our object was, you see, to destroy communication between Lee's army and
Richmond. We even got into Richmond--we thought every Confederate
soldier was with Lee at the front, and we had a scheme to free the
prisoners in Libby, and perhaps capture Jefferson Davis--but we counted
wrong. The defence was too strong, and our force too small; we had to
skedaddle, or we'd have seen Libby in a way we didn't like. We found a
negro who could pilot us, and we slipped out through fields and swamps
beyond the reach of the enemy. Then the return march began. Let me put
that log on."

"No. Talk," I protested; but the General had the wood in his vigorous
left hand--where a big scar cut across the back.

"You needn't be so independent," he threw at me. "Now you've got a
splinter in your finger--serves you right." I laughed at the savage
tone, and his eyes flashed fiercely--and he laughed back.

"What was I talking about--you interrupted. Oh, that march. Well, we'd
had a pretty rough time when the march back began. For nine days we
hadn't had a real meal--just eaten standing up, whatever we could get
cooked--or uncooked. We hadn't changed our clothes, and we'd slept on
the ground every night."

"Goodness!" I interjected with amateur vagueness. "What about the
horses?"

"Oh, they got it, too," the General said carelessly. "We seldom
unsaddled them at all, and when we did it was just to give them a
rub-down and saddle again. We'd made one march toward home and halted,
late at night, when General Stoneman called for his aide-de-camp. I went
to him, rather sleepy, and he told me he'd decided to communicate with
his chief and report his success, and that I was to start at daylight
and find the Army of the Potomac. I had my pick of ten of the best men
and horses from the brigade, and I got off at gray dawn with them, and
with the written report in my boot to the commanding general, and verbal
orders to find him wherever he might be. Nothing else, except the
tools--swords and pistols, and that sort of thing. Oh, yes, there was
one thing more. General Ladd, who was a Virginian, had given my chief a
letter for his people, thinking we'd get into their country. His family
were all on the Confederate side of the fence, while he was a Union
officer. That was not uncommon in our civil war. But we didn't get near
the Ladd estate, and so Stoneman commissioned me to return the letter to
the general with the explanation. Does this bore you?" he stopped
suddenly to ask, and his alert eye shot the glance at me like a bullet.

"Stop once more and I'll be likely to cry," I predicted.

"For Heaven's sake don't do that." He reached across and took the
poker. "Here's the Rapidan River," he sketched down the rug. "Runs east
and west. And this blue diagonal north of it is the Rappahannock. I
started south of the Rapidan, to cross it and go north, hoping to find
our army victorious and south of the Rappahannock. Which I didn't--but
that's farther along. Well, we were off at daylight, ten men and the
officer--me. It was a fine spring morning, and the bunch of horsemen
made a pretty sight as the sun came up, moving through the
greenness--the foliage is well out down there in May. The bits jingled
and the saddles creaked under our legs--I remember how it sounded as we
started off. We'd had a strenuous week, but we were a strong lot and
ready for anything. We were going to get it, too." The General chuckled
suddenly, as if something had hit his funny-bone. "I skirted along the
south bank of the Rapidan, keeping off the roads most of the time, and
out of sight, which was better for our health--we were in Confederate
country--and we got to Germania Ford without seeing anybody, or being
seen. Said I, 'Here's the place we'll cross.' We'd had breakfast before
starting, but we'd been in the saddle three hours since that, and I was
thirsty. I could see a house back in the trees as we came to the ford--a
beautiful old house--the kind you see a lot of in the South--high white
pillars--dignified and aristocratic. It seemed to be quiet and safe, so
we trotted up the drive, the eleven of us. The front door was open, and
I jumped off my horse and ran up the steps and stood in the doorway.
There were four or five people in the hall, and they'd seen us coming
and were scared. A nice old lady was lying back in a chair, as pale as
ashes, with her hand to her heart, gasping ninety to the second, and two
or three negroes stood around her with their eyes rolling. And right in
the middle of the place a red-headed girl in a white dress was bending
over a grizzled old negro man who was locking a large travelling-bag. As
cool as a cucumber that girl was."

The General stopped and considered.

"I wish I could describe the scene the way I saw it--I remember exactly.
It was a big, square hall running through from front to back, and the
back door was open, and you saw a garden with box hedges, and woods
behind it. Stairs went up each side the hall and a balcony ran around
the second story, with bedrooms opening off it. There was a high, oval
window at the back over the balcony, and the sun poured through.

"The girl finished locking her bag as if she hadn't noticed scum of the
earth like us, and then she deliberately picked up a bunch of long white
flowers that lay by the bag--lilies, I think you call them--and stood
up, and looked right past me, as if she was struck with the landscape,
and didn't see me. She was a tall girl, and when she stood straight the
light from the back window just hit her hair and shone through the loose
part of it--there was a lot, and it was curly. I give you my word that,
as she stood there and looked calmly beyond me, in her white dress, with
the stalk of flowers over her shoulder, and the sun turning that
wonderful red-gold hair into a halo--I give you my word she was a
perfect picture of a saint out of a stained-glass window in a church.
But she didn't act like one."

The General was seized with sudden, irresistible laughter. He sobered
quickly.

"I took one look at the vision, and I knew it was all up with me. Talk
about love at first sight--before she ever spoke a word I--well." He
pulled up the sentence as if it were a horse. "I snatched off my cap and
I said, said I, 'I'm very sorry to disturb you,' just as politely as I
knew how, but all the answer she gave me was to glance across at the old
lady. Then she went find put her arm around her as she lay back gasping
in a great curved chair.

"'Don't be afraid, Aunt Virginia,' she said. 'Nothing shall hurt you. I
can manage this man.'

"The way she said 'this man' was about as contemptuous as they make 'em.
I guess she was right, too--I guess she could. She turned her head
toward me, but did not look at me.

"'Do you want anything here?'" she asked.

"Her voice was the prettiest, softest sound you ever heard--she was mad
as a hornet, too." The General's swift chuckle caught him. "'Hyer,' she
said it," he repeated. "'Hyer.'" He liked to say it, evidently. "I
stood holding my cap in my hand, so tame by this time you could have put
me on a perch in a cage, for the pluck of the girl was as fascinating as
her looks. I spoke up like a man all the same.

"'I wanted to ask,' said I, 'if I might send my men around to your well
for a drink of water. They're thirsty.'

"The way she answered, looking all around me and never once at me, made
me uncomfortable. 'I suppose you can if you wish,' she said. 'You're
stronger than we are. You can take what you choose. But I won't give you
anything--not if you were dying--not a glass of water.'

"Well, in spite of her having played football with my heart, that made
me angry.

"'I didn't know before that to be Southern made a woman unwomanly,' I
said. 'Where I came from I don't believe there's a girl would say a
cruel thing like that or refuse a drink of cold water to soldiers doing
their duty, friends or enemies. We've slept on the ground nine nights
and ridden nine days, and had very little to eat--my men are tired and
thirsty. I shan't make them go without any refreshment they can get,
even if it is grudged.'

"I gave an order over my shoulder, and my party went off to the back of
the house. Then I made a low bow to the old lady and to Miss
High-and-Mighty, and I swung about and walked down the steps and mounted
my horse. I was parched for water, but I wouldn't have had it if I'd
choked, after that. Between taking an almighty shine to the girl and
getting stirred up that way, and then being all frozen over with icicles
by her cool insultingness, I was pretty savage, and I stared away from
the place and thought the men would never come. All of a sudden I felt
something touch my arm, and I looked around quick, and there was the
girl. She stood by the horse, her red hair close to my elbow as I sat in
the saddle, and she held up a glass of water. I never was so astonished
in my life.

"'You're thirsty and tired, too,' she said, speaking as low as if she
was afraid the horse might hear. 'For my self-respect--for Southern
women'--she brought it out in that soft, sliding way, but the words
were all mixed up with embarrassment--and red--my, but she blushed! Then
she went on. 'You were right,' said she. 'I was cruel; you're my enemy
and I hate you, but I ought not to grudge you water. Take it.'

"I put my hand right on top of hers as she held the glass, and bent down
and drank so, making her hold it to my lips, and my hand over
hers--bless her heart!"

The General came to a full stop. He was smiling into the fire, and his
face was as if a flame burned back of it. I waited very quietly, fearing
to change the current by a word, and in a moment the strong voice, with
its vibrating note, not to be described, began again.

"I drained every drop," he said, "I'd have drunk a hogshead. When I
finished I raised my head and looked down at her without a word
said--but I didn't let go of the glass with her hand holding it inside
mine--and she lifted her eyes very slowly, and for the first time looked
at me. Well--" he shut his lips a moment--"these things don't tell well,
but something happened. I held her eyes into mine, us if I gripped them
with my muscles, and there came over her face an extraordinary
expression--first as if she was surprised that it was me, then as if she
was glad, and then--well, you may believe it or not, but I knew that
second that the girl--loved me. She hated me all right five minutes
before--I was her people's enemy--the chances were she'd never see me
again--all that's true, but it simply didn't count. She cared for me,
and I for her, and we both knew it--that's all there was about it.
People live faster in war-time, I think--anyhow, that's the way it was.

"The men and horses came pouring around the house, and I let her hand
loose--it was hard to do it, too--and then she was gone, and we rode on
to the ford. We stopped when we got to the stream to let the horses have
their turn at drinking, and as I sat loafing in the saddle, with my mind
pretty full of what had just passed, my eyes were all over. Every
cavalry officer, and especially an aide-de-camp, gets to be a sort of
hawk in active service--nothing can move within range that he doesn't
see. So as I looked about me I took in among other things the house
we'd just left, and suddenly I spied a handkerchief waving from behind
one of the big white pillars. Of course you've got to be wary in an
enemy's country, and these people were rabid Confederates, as I'd
occasion to know. All the same it would have been bad judgment to
neglect such a signal, and what's more, I'd have staked my life on that
girl's honesty. If the handkerchief had been a cannon I'd have gone
back. So back I went, taking a couple of men with me. As I jumped off my
horse I saw her standing inside the front door, back in the shadow, and
I ran up the steps to her.

"'Well?' said I.

"She looked up at me and laughed, showing a row of white teeth. That was
the first time I ever saw her laugh. 'I knew you'd come back,' said she,
as mischievous as a child, and her eyes danced.

"I didn't mean to be made a fool of, for I had my duty to think about,
so I spoke rather shortly. 'Well, and now I'm here--what?'

"With that she drew an excited little gasp. 'I couldn't let you be
killed,' she brought out in a sort of breathless whisper, so low I had
to bend over close to hear her. 'You mustn't go on--in that
direction--you'll be taken. The Union army's been defeated--at
Chancellorsville. They're driven north of the Rappahannock--to Falmouth.
Our troops are in their old camps. There's an outpost across the
ford--just over the hill.'

"It was the first I'd heard of the defeat at Chancellorsville, and it
stunned me for a second. 'Are you telling me the truth?' I asked her
pretty sharply.

"'You know I am,' she said, as haughty as you please all of a sudden,
and drew herself up with her head in the air.

"And I did know it. Something else struck me just about then. The old
lady and the servants were gone from the hall. There wasn't anybody in
it but herself and me; my men were out of sight on the driveway. I
forgot our army and the war and everything else, and I caught her bands
in between mine, and said I, 'Why couldn't you let me be killed?'"

At his words I drew a quick breath, too. For a moment I was the
Southern girl with the red-gold hair. I could feel the clasp of the
young officer's hands; I could hear his voice asking the rough, tender
question, "Why couldn't you let me be killed?"

"It was mighty still for a minute. Then she lifted up her eyes as I held
her fingers in a vise, and gave me a steady look. That was all--but it
was plenty.

"I don't know how I got on my horse or what order I gave, but my head
was clear enough for business purposes, and I had to use it--quickly,
too. There were thick woods near by, and I hurried my party into them
and gave men and horses a short rest till I could decide what to do. The
Confederates were east of us, around Chancellorsville and in the
triangle between the Rapidan and the Rappahannock, so that It was unsafe
travelling in that direction. It's the business of an aide-de-camp
carrying despatches to steal as quietly as possible through an enemy's
country, and the one fatal thing is to be captured. So I concluded I
wouldn't get into the thick of it till I had to, but would turn west
and make a _detour_, crossing by Morton's Ford, farther up the Rapidan.
Germania Ford lies in a deep loop of the river, and that made our ride
longer, but we found a road and crossed all right as I planned it, and
then we doubled back, as we had to, eastward.

"It was a pretty ride in the May weather, through that beautiful
Virginia country. We kept in the woods and the lonely roads as much as
we could and hardly saw a soul for hours, and though I knew we were
getting into dangerous parts again, I hoped we might work through all
right. Of course I thought first about my errand, and my mind was on
every turn of the road and every speck in the landscape, but all the
same there was one corner of it--or of something--that didn't forget
that red-headed girl--not an instant. I kept wondering if I'd ever see
her again, and I was mighty clear that I would, if there was enough left
of me by the time I could get off duty to go and look her up. The touch
of her hands stayed with me all day.

"About two o'clock or so we passed a house, just a cabin, but a neat
sort of place, and I looked at it as I did at everything, and saw an old
negro with grizzled hair standing some distance in front of it. Now
everything reminded me of that girl because she was on my mind, and
instantly I was struck with the idea, that the old fellow looked like
the servant who had been locking the bag in the house by Germania Ford.
I wasn't sure it was the same darky, but I thought I'd see. There was a
patch of woods back of the house, and I ordered the party to wait there
till I joined them, and I threw my bridle to a soldier and turned in at
the gate. The man loped out for the house, but I halted him. Then I went
along past the negro to the cabin, and opened the door, which had been
shut tight.

"There was a table littered with papers in the middle of the room, and
behind it, in a gray riding-habit, with a gray soldier-cap on her red
hair, writing for dear life, sat the girl. She lifted her head quick, as
the door swung open, and then made a jump to get between me and the
table. I took off my cap, and said I:

"'I'm very glad to see you. I was just wondering if we'd ever meet
again.' She only stared at me. Then I said: 'I'm sorry, but I'll have to
ask you for those papers.' I knew by the look of them that they were
some sort of despatches.

"At that she laughed in a kind of a friendly, cocksure way. She wasn't
afraid of anything, that girl. 'No,' she threw at me--just like
that--'No.'" The General tossed back his big head and did a poor
imitation of a girl's light tone--a poor imitation, but the way he did
it was winning. "'No,' said she, shaking her head sidewise. 'You can't
have those papers--not ever,' and with that she swept them together and
popped them into a drawer of the table and then hopped up on the table
and sat there laughing at me, with her little riding-hoots swinging. 'At
least, unless you knock me down, and I don't believe you'll do that,'
said she.

"Well, I had to have those papers. I didn't know how important they
might be, but if this girl was sending information to the Southern
commanders I was inclined to think it would be accurate and worth while.
It wouldn't do not to capture it. At the same time I wouldn't have laid
a finger on her, to compel her, for a million dollars. I stood and
stared like a blockhead for a minute, at my wit's end, and she sat there
and smiled. All of a sudden I had an idea. I caught the end of the table
and tipped it up, and off slid the young lady, and I snatched at the
knob of the drawer, and had the papers in a second.

"It was simple, but it worked. Then it was her turn to look foolish. Of
course she had a temper, with that colored hair, and she was raging. She
looked at me as if she'd like to tear me to pieces. There wasn't
anything she could say, however, and not lose her dignity, and I guess
she pretty nearly exploded for a minute, and then, in a flash, the joke
of it struck her. Her eyes began to dance, and she laughed because she
couldn't help it, and I with her. For a whole minute we forgot what a
big business we were both after, and acted like two children.

"'That's right,' said I finally. 'I had to get them, but I did it in the
kindest spirit. I see you understand that.'

"'Oh, I don't care,' she answered with her chin up--a little way she
had. 'They're not much, anyway. I hadn't got to the important part.'

"'Won't you finish?' said I politely, and pretended to offer her the
papers--and then I got serious. 'What are you doing here?' I asked her.
'Where are you going?'

"She looked up at me, and--I knew she liked me. She caught her breath
before she answered. 'What right have you got to ask me questions?' said
she, making a bluff at righteous indignation.

"But I just gripped her fingers into mine--it was getting to be a habit,
holding her hand.

"'And what are _you_ doing here?' she went on saucily, but her voice was
a whisper, and she let her hand lie.

"'I'll tell you what I'm doing,' said I. 'I'm obeying the Bible. My
Bible tells me to love my enemies, and I'm going to. I do,' said I.
'What does your Bible tell you?'

"'My Bible tells me to resist the devil and he will flee from me,' she
answered back like a flash, standing up straight and looking at me
squarely, as solemn as a church.

"'Well, I guess I'm not that kind of a devil,' said I. 'I don't want to
flee worth a cent.'

"And at that she broke into a laugh and showed all her little teeth at
me. That was one of the prettiest things about her, the row of small
white teeth she showed every time she laughed.

"'Just at that second the old negro stuck his head in at the door.
'We're busy, uncle,' said I. 'I'll give you five dollars for five
minutes.'

"But the girl put her hand on my arm to stop me, 'What is it, Uncle
Ebenezer?' she asked him anxiously.

"'It's young Marse, Miss Lindy,' the man said, 'Him'n Marse Philip
Breck'nridge 'n' Marse Tom's ridin' down de branch right now. Close to
hyer--dey'll be hyer in fo'-five minutes.'

"She nodded at him coolly. 'All right. Shut the door, Uncle Ebenezer,'
said she, and he went out and shut it.

"And before I could say Jack Robinson she was dragging me into the next
room, and pushing me out of a door at the back.

"'Go--hurry up--oh, go!' she begged. 'I won't let them take you.'

"Well, I didn't like to leave her suddenly like that, so I said, said I:
'What's the hurry? I want to tell you something.'

"'_No_,' she shot at me. 'You can't. Go--won't you, please go?' Then I
picked up a little hand and hold it against my coat. I knew by now just
how she would catch her breath when I did it."

At about this point the General forgot me. Such good comrades we were
that my presence did not trouble him, but as for telling the story to
me, that was past--he was living it over, to himself alone, with every
nerve in action.

"'Look here,' said I, 'I don't believe a thing like this ever happened
on the globe before, but this has. It's so--I love you, and I believe
you love me, and I'm not going till you tell me so.'

"By that time she was in a fit. 'They'll be here in two minutes; they're
Confederate officers. Oh, and you mustn't cross at Kelly's Ford--take
the ford above it'--and she thumped me excitedly with the hand I held.
I laughed, and she burst out again: 'They'll take you--oh, please go!'

"'Tell me, then,' said I, and she stopped half a second, and gasped
again, and looked up in my eyes and said it. 'I love you,' said she. And
she meant it.

"'Give me a kiss,' said I, and I leaned close to her, but she pulled
away.

"'Oh, no--oh, please go now,' she begged.

"'All right,' said I, 'but you don't know what you're missing,' and I
slid out of the back door at the second the Southerners came in at the
front.

"There were bushes back there, and I crawled behind them and looked
through into the window, and what do you suppose I saw? I saw the
biggest and best-looking man of the three walk up to the girl who'd just
told me she loved me, and I saw her put up her face and give him the
kiss she wouldn't give me. Well, I went smashing down to the woods,
making such a rumpus that if those officers had been half awake they'd
have been after me twice over. I was so maddened at the sight of that
kiss that I didn't realize what I was doing or that I was endangering
the lives of my men. 'Of course,' said I to myself, 'it's her brother or
her cousin,' but I knew it was a hundred to one that it wasn't, and I
was in a mighty bad temper.

"I got my men away from the neighborhood quietly, and we rode pretty
cautiously all that afternoon, I knew the road leading to Kelly's Ford,
and I bore to the north, away from there, for I trusted the girl and
believed I'd be safe if I followed her orders. She'd saved my life twice
that day, so I had reason to trust her. But all the time as I jogged
along I was wondering about that man, and wondering what the dickens she
was up to, anyway, and why she was travelling in the same direction that
I was, and where she was going--and over and over I wondered if I'd over
see her again. I felt sure I would, though--I couldn't imagine not
seeing her, after what she'd said. I didn't even know her name, except
that the old negro had called her 'Miss Lindy.' I said that a lot of
times to myself as I rode, with the men's bits jingling at my buck and
their horses' hoofs thud-thudding. 'Lindy--Miss Lindy--Linda--my
Linda--I said it half aloud. It kept first-rate time to the
hoof-beats--'Lindy--Miss Lindy.'

"I wondered, too, why she wouldn't let me cross the Rappahannock by
Kelly's Ford, for I had reason to think there'd be a Union post on the
east side of the river there, but there was a sense of brains and
capability about the girl, as well as charm--in fact, that's likely to
be a large part of any real charm--and so I trusted to her.

[Illustration: "I got behind a turn and fired as a man came on alone."]

"Well, late in the afternoon we were trotting along, feeling pretty
secure. I'd left the Kelly's Ford road at the last turn, and was
beginning to think that we ought to be within a few miles of the river,
when all of a sudden, coming out of some woods into a small clearing
with a farmhouse about the centre of it, we rode on a strong outpost of
the enemy, infantry and cavalry both. We were in the open before I saw
them, so there was nothing to do but make a dash for it and rush past
the cabin before they could reach their arms, and we drew our revolvers
and put the spurs in deep and flew past with a fire that settled some
of them. But a surprise of this sort doesn't last long, and it was only
a few minutes before they were after us--and with fresh mounts. Then it
was a horse-race for the river, and I wasn't certain of the roads.
However, I knew a trick or two about this business, and I was sure some
of the pursuers would forge ahead; so three times I got behind a turn
and fired as a man came on alone. I dismounted several that way. This
relieved the strain enough so that I got within sight of the river with
all my men. It was a quarter of a mile away when I saw it, and at that
point the road split, and which branch led to the ford for the life of
me I didn't know. There wasn't time for meditation, however, so I shot
down the turn to the left, on the gamble, and sure enough there was the
ford--only it wasn't any ford. The Rappahannock was full to the banks
and perhaps two hundred yards across. The Confederates were within
rifle-shot, so there were exactly two things to do--surrender or swim. I
gave my men the choice--to follow me or be captured--and I plunged in,
without any of them."

"What!" I demanded here, puzzled. "Didn't the men know how to swim?"

"Oh, yes, they knew how," the General answered, and looked embarrassed.

"Well, then, why didn't they?" It began to dawn on me, "Were they
afraid--was it dangerous--was the river swift?"

"Yes," he acknowledged. "The river was swift--it was a foaming torrent."

"They were afraid--all ten of them--and you weren't--you alone?" The
General looked annoyed. "I didn't want to be captured," he explained
crossly. "I had the despatches besides." He went on: "I slipped off my
horse, keeping hold of the bridle to guide him, and swam low beside him,
because they were firing from the bank. But all at once the shots
stopped, and I heard shouting, and shortly after I got a glimpse, over
my horse's back, of a rider in the water near me, and there was a flash
of a gray cap. One of the Southerners was swimming after me, and I was
due for a tussle when we landed. I made it first. I scrambled to shore
and snatched out my sword--the pistols were wet--and rushed for the
other man as he jumped to the bank, and just as I got to him--just in
time--I saw him. It wasn't him--it was her--the girl. Heavens!" gasped
the General; "she gave me a start that time. I dropped my sword on the
ground, I was so surprised, and stared at her with my mouth open.

"'Oo-ee!' said that girl, shaking her skirt, as calm as a May morning.
'Oo-ee!' like a baby crowing. 'My, but that's a cold river!' And her
teeth chattered.

"Well, that time I didn't ask permission. I took her in my arms and held
her--I had to, to keep her warm. Couldn't let her stand there and click
her teeth--could I? And she didn't fight me. 'What did you do such a
crazy thing for?' asked I.

"'Well, you're mighty par-particular,' said she as saucy as you please,
but still shivering so she couldn't talk straight. 'They were popping
g-guns at you--that's what for. Roger's a right bad shot, but he might
have hit you.'

"'And he might, have hit you,' said I. 'Did you happen to think of
that?'

"She just laughed. 'Oh, no--they wouldn't risk hitting me. I'm too
valuable--that's why I jumped in--to protect you.'

"'Oh!' said I. 'I'm a delicate flower, it seems. You've been protecting
me all day. Who's Roger?'

"'My brother,' said she, smiling up at me.

"'Was that the man you kissed in the cabin back yonder?'

"'Shame!' said she. 'You peeped.'

"'Was it?' I insisted, for I wanted to know. And she told me.

"'Yes,' she told me, in that low voice of hers that was hard to hear,
only it paid to listen.

"'Did you ever kiss any other man?' said I.

"'It's none of your business,' said the girl. 'But I didn't--the way you
mean.'

"'Well, it wouldn't make any difference, anyway--nothing would,' I said.
'Except this--are you ever going to?'

"All this time that bright-colored head of hers was on my shoulder,
Confederate cap and all, and I was afraid of my life to stir, for fear
she'd take it away. But when I said that I put my face down against
hers and repeated the question, 'Are you ever going to?'

"It seemed like ages before she answered and I was scared--yet she
didn't pull away,--and finally the words came--low, but I heard. 'One,'
said she. 'If he wants it.'

"Then--" the General stopped suddenly, and the splendid claret and
honey color of his cheeks went a dark shade more to claret. He had come
to from his trance, and remembered me. "I don't know why I'm telling you
all these details," he declared abruptly. "I suppose you're tired to
death listening." His alert eyes questioned me.

"General," I begged, "don't stop like that again. Don't leave out a
syllable. 'Then--'"

But he threw back his head boyishly and laughed with a touch of
self-consciousness. "No, madam, I won't tell you about 'then.' I'll
leave so much to your imagination. I guess you're equal to it. It wasn't
a second anyway before she gave a jump that took her six feet from me,
and there she was tugging at the girth of her saddle.

"'Quick--change the saddles!' she ordered me. 'I must be out of my mind
to throw away time when your life's in danger. They're coming around by
the bridge,' she explained, 'two miles down. And you have to have a
fresh mount. They'd catch you on that.' She threw a contemptuous glance
at my tired brute, and began unbuckling the wet straps with her little
wet fingers.

"'Don't do that,' said I. 'Let me.' But she pushed me away. 'Mustn't
waste time.' She gave her orders as business-like as an officer. 'Do
your own saddle while I attend to this. Zero can run right away from
anything they're riding--from anything at all. Can't you, Zero?' and she
gave the horse a quick pat in between unbuckling. He was a powerful,
rangy bay, and not winded by his run and his swim. 'He's my father's,'
she went on. 'He'll carry you through to General Hooker's camp at
Falmouth--he knows that camp. It's twenty-five miles yet, and you've
ridden fifty to-day, poor boy.'

"I wish I could tell you how pretty her voice was when she said things
like that, as if she cared that I'd had a strenuous day and was a little
tired.

"'How do you know I'm going to Falmouth? How do you know how far I've
ridden?' I asked her, astonished again.

"'I'm a witch,' she said. 'I find out everything about you-all by magic,
and then I tell our officers. They know it's so if I tell them. Ask
Stonewall Jackson how he discovered the road to take his cavalry around
for the attack on Howard. I reckon I helped a lot at Chancellorsville.'

"'Do you reckon you're helping now?' I asked, throwing my saddle over
Zero's back. 'Strikes me you're giving aid and comfort to the enemy hand
over fist.'

"That girl surprised me whatever she did, and the reason was--I figured
it out afterward--that she let herself be what few people let themselves
be--absolutely straightforward. She had the gentlest ways, but she
always hit straight from the shoulder, and that's likely to surprise
people. This time she took three steps to where I stood by Zero and
caught my finger in the middle of pulling up the cinch and held to it.

"'I'm not a traitor,' she threw at me. 'I'm loyal to my people, and
you're my enemy--and I'm saving you from them. But it's you--it's you,'
she whispered, looking up at me. It was getting dark by now, but I could
see her eyes. 'When you put your hand over mine this morning it was like
somebody'd telegraphed that the one man was coming; and then I looked at
you, and I knew he'd got there. I've never bothered about men--mostly
they're not worth while, when there are horses--but ever since I've been
grown I've known that you'd come some time, and that I'd know you when
you came. Do you think I'm going to let you be taken--shot, maybe? Not
much--I'll guard your life with every breath of mine--and I'll keep it
safe, too.'

"Now, wasn't that a strange way for a girl to talk? Did you ever hear of
another woman who could talk that way, and live up to it?" he demanded
of me unexpectedly.

I was afraid to say the wrong thing and I spoke timidly. "What did you
do then?"

He gave me a glance smouldering with mischief. "I didn't do it. I tried
to, but she wouldn't let me.

"'Hurry, hurry,' said she, in a panic all of a sudden. 'They'll be
coming. Zero's fast, but you ought to get a good start.'

"And she hustled me on the horse. And just as I was off, as I bent from
the saddle to catch her hand for the last time, she gave me two more
shocks together." Silent reminiscent laughter shook him.

"'When am I going to see you again?' asked I hopelessly, for I felt as
if everything was mighty uncertain, and I couldn't bear to leave her.

"'To-morrow,' said she, prompt as taxes. 'To-morrow. Good-by, Captain
Carruthers.'

"And she gave the horse a slap that scared him into a leap, and off I
went galloping into darkness, with my brain in a whirl as to where I
could see her to-morrow, and how under creation she knew my name. The
cold bath had refreshed me--I hadn't had the like of it for nine
days--and I galloped on for a while feeling fine, and thinking mighty
hard about the girl I'd left behind me. Twenty-four hours before I'd
never seen her, yet I felt, as if I had known her all my life. I was
sure of this, that in all my days I'd never seen anybody like her, and
never would. And that's true to this minute. I'd had sweethearts
a-plenty--in a way--but the affair of that day was the only time I was
ever in love in my life."

To tell the truth I had been a little scandalized all through this
story, for I knew well enough that there was a Mrs. Carruthers. I had
not met her--she had been South through the months which her husband had
spent in New York--but the General's strong language concerning the
red-haired girl made me sympathize with his wife, and this last
sentiment was staggering. Poor Mrs. Carruthers! thought I--poor, staid
lady, with this gay lad of a husband declaring his heart forever buried
with the adventure of a day of long ago. Yet, a soldier boy of
twenty-three--the romance of war-time--the glamour of lost love--there
were certainly alleviating circumstances. At all events, it was not my
affair--I could enjoy the story as it came with a clear conscience. So I
smiled at the wicked General--who looked as innocent as a baby--and he
went on.

"I knew every road on that side the river, and I knew the Confederates
wouldn't dare chase me but a few miles, as it wasn't their country any
longer, so pretty soon I began to take things easy. I thought over
everything that had happened through the day, everything she'd said and
done, every look--I could remember it all. I can now. I wondered who
under heaven she was, and I kicked myself that I hadn't asked her name.
'Lindy'--that's all I knew, and I guess I said that over a hundred
times. I wondered why she'd told me not to go to Kelly's Ford, but I
worked that out the right way--as I found later--that her party expected
to cross there, and she didn't want me to encounter them; and then the
river was too full and they tried a higher ford. And I'd run into them.
Yet I couldn't understand why she planned to cross at Kelly's, anyway,
because there was pretty sure to be a Union outpost on the east bank
there, and she'd have landed right among them. That puzzled me. Who was
the girl, and why on earth was she travelling in that direction, and
where could she be going? I went over that problem again and again, and
couldn't find an answer.

"Meanwhile it was getting late, and the bracing effect of the cold
water of the Rappahannock was wearing off, and I began to feel the
fatigue of an exciting day and a seventy-five-mile ride--on top of
nine other days with little to eat and not much rest. My wet clothes
chilled me, and the last few miles I have never been able to remember
distinctly--I think I was misty in my mind. At any rate, when I got to
headquarters camp I was just about clear enough to guide Zero through
the maze of tents, and not any more, and when the horse stopped with his
nose against the front pole of the general's fly I was unconscious."

I exclaimed, horrified: "It was too much for human nature! You must have
been nearly dead. Did you fall off? Were you hurt?"

"Oh, no--I was all right," he said cheerfully. "I just sat there. But an
equestrian statue in front of the general's tent at 11 P.M. wasn't
usual, and there was a small sensation. It brought out the
adjutant-general and he recognized me, and they carried me into a tent,
and got a surgeon, and he had me stripped and rubbed and rolled in
blankets. They found the despatches in my boots, and those gave all the
information necessary. They found the letter, too, which Stoneman had
given me to hand back to General Ladd, and they didn't understand that,
as it was addressed simply to 'Miss Ladd, Ford Hall,' so they left it
till I waked up. That wasn't till noon the next day."

The General began chuckling contagiously, and I was alive with curiosity
to know the coming joke.

"I believe every officer in the camp, from the commanding general down,
had sent me clothes. When I unclosed my eyes that tent was alive with
them. It was a spring opening, I can tell you--all sorts. Well, when I
got the meaning of the array, I lay there and laughed out loud, and an
orderly appeared at that, and then the adjutant-general, and I reported
to him. Then I got into an assortment of the clothes, and did my duty by
a pile of food and drink, and I was ready to start back to join my
chief. Except for the letter of General Ladd--I had to deliver that in
person to give the explanation. General Ladd had been wounded, I found,
at Chancellorsville, but would see me. So off I went to his tent, and
the orderly showed me in at once. He was in bed with his arm and
shoulder bandaged, and by his side, looking as fresh as a rose and as
mischievous as a monkey, sat a girl with red hair--Linda Ladd--Miss
Ladd, of Ford Hall--the old house where I first saw her. Her father
presented me in due form and told me to give her the letter and--that's
all."

The General stopped short and regarded me quietly.

"Oh, but--" I stammered. "But that isn't all--why, I don't
understand--it's criminal not to tell the rest--there's a lot."

"What do you want to hear?" he demanded, "I don't know any more--that's
all that happened."

"Don't be brutal," I pleaded. "I want to know, for one thing, how she
knew your name."

"Oh--that." He laughed like an amused child. "That was rather odd. You
remember I told you that when they were chasing us I took shelter and
shot the horses from under some of the Southerners."

"I remember."

"Well, the first man dismounted was Tom Ladd, the girl's cousin, who'd
been my classmate at the Point, and he recognized me. He ran back and
told them to make every effort to capture the party, as its leader was
Captain Carruthers, of Stoneman's staff, and undoubtedly carried
despatches."

"Oh!" I said. "I see. And where was Miss Ladd going, travelling your way
all day?"

"To see her wounded father at Falmouth, don't you understand? She'd had
word from him the day before. She was escorted by a strong party of
Confederates, including her brother and cousin. She started out with
just the old negro, and it was arranged that she should meet the party
at the cabin where I found her writing. They were to go with her to
Kelly's Ford, where she was to pass over to the Union post on the other
bank--she had a safe-conduct."

"Oh!" I assimilated this. "And she and her brother were Confederates,
and the father was a Northern general--how extraordinary!"

"Not in the least," the General corrected me. "It happened so in a
number of cases. She was a power in that campaign. She did more work
than either father or brother. A Southern officer told me afterward that
the men half believed what she said--that she was a witch, and got news
of our movements by magic. Nothing escaped her--she had a wonderful
mind, and did not know what fear was. A wonderful woman!"

He was smiling to himself again as he sat, with his great shoulders bent
forward and his scarred hand on his knee, looking into the fire.

"General," I said tentatively, "aren't you going to tell me what she
said when she saw you come into her father's tent?"

"Said?" asked the General, looking up and frowning. "What could she say?
Good-morning, I guess."

I wasn't afraid of his frown or of his hammer-and-tongs manner. I'd got
behind both before now. I persisted.

"But I mean--what did you say to each other, like the day before--how
did it all come out?"

"Oh, we couldn't do any love-making, if that's what you mean," he
explained in a business-like way, "because the old man was on deck. And
I had to leave in about ten minutes to ride back to join my command.
That was all there was to it."

I sighed with disappointment. Of course I knew it was just an idyll of
youth, a day long, and that the book was closed forty years before. But
I could not bear to have it closed with a bang. Somewhere in the
narrative had come to me the impression that the heroine of it had died
young in those exciting war-times of long ago. I had a picture in my
mind of the dancing eyes closed meekly in a last sleep; of the young
officer's hand laid sorrowing on the bright halo of hair.

"Did you ever see the girl again?" I asked softly.

The General turned on me a quick, queer look. Fun was in it, and memory
gave it gentleness; yet there was impatience, too, at my slowness, in
the boyish brown eyes.

"Mrs. Carruthers has red hair," he said briefly.




THROUGH THE IVORY GATE


Breeze-filtered through shifting leafage, the June morning sunlight came
in at the open window by the boy's bed, under the green shades, across
the shadowy, white room, and danced a noiseless dance of youth and
freshness and springtime against the wall opposite. The boy's head
stirred on his pillow. He spoke a quick word from out of his dream. "The
key?" he said inquiringly, and the sound of his own voice awoke him.
Dark, drowsy eyes opened, and he stared half seeing, at the picture that
hung facing him. Was it the play of mischievous sunlight, was it the
dream that still held his brain? He knew the picture line by line, and
there was no such figure in it. It was a large photograph of Fairfield,
the Southern home of his mother's people, and the boy remembered it
always hanging there, opposite his bed, the first sight to meet his eyes
every morning since his babyhood. So he was certain there was no figure
in it, more than all one so remarkable as this strapping little chap in
his queer clothes; his dress of conspicuous plaid with large black
velvet squares sewed on it, who stood now in front of the old
manor-house. Could it be only a dream? Could it be that a little ghost,
wandering childlike in dim, heavenly fields, had joined the gay troop of
his boyish visions and shipped in with them through the ivory gate of
pleasant dreams? The boy put his fists to his eyes and rubbed them and
looked again. The little fellow was still there, standing with sturdy
legs wide apart as if owning the scene; he laughed as he held toward the
boy a key--a small key tied with a scarlet ribbon. There was no doubt in
the boy's mind that the key was for him, and out of the dim world of
sleep he stretched his young arm for it; to reach it he sat up in bed.
Then he was awake and knew himself alone in the peace of his own little
room, and laughed shamefacedly at the reality of the vision which had
followed him from dreamland into the very boundaries of consciousness,
which held him even now with gentle tenacity, which drew him back
through the day, from his studies, from his play, into the strong
current of its fascination.

The first time Philip Beckwith had this dream he was only twelve years
old, and, withheld by the deep reserve of childhood, he told not even
his mother about it, though he lived in its atmosphere all day and
remembered it vividly days longer. A year after it came again; and again
it was a June morning, and as his eyes opened the little boy came once
more out of the picture toward him, laughing and holding out the key on
its scarlet string. The dream was a pleasant one, and Philip welcomed it
eagerly from his sleep as a friend. There seemed something sweet and
familiar in the child's presence beyond the one memory of him, as again
the boy, with eyes half open to every-day life, saw him standing, small
but masterful, in the garden of that old house where the Fairfields had
lived for more than a century. Half consciously he tried to prolong the
vision, tried not to wake entirely for fear of losing it; but the
picture faded surely from the curtain of his mind as the tangible world
painted there its heavier outlines. It was as if a happy little spirit
had tried to follow him, for love of him, from a country lying close,
yet separated; it was as if the common childhood of the two made it
almost possible for them to meet; as if a message that might not be
spoken, were yet almost delivered.

The third time the dream came it was a December morning of the year when
Philip was fifteen, and falling snow made wavering light and shadow on
the wall where hung the picture. This time, with eyes wide open, yet
with the possession of the dream strongly on him, he lay sub-consciously
alert and gazed, as in the odd, unmistakable dress that Philip knew now
in detail, the bright-faced child swung toward him, always from the
garden of that old place, always trying with loving, merry efforts to
reach Philip from out of it--always holding to him the red-ribboned key.
Like a wary hunter the big boy lay--knowing it unreal, yet living it
keenly--and watched his chance. As the little figure glided close to him
he put out his hand suddenly, swiftly for the key--he was awake. As
always, the dream was gone; the little ghost was baffled again; the two
worlds might not meet.

That day Mrs. Beckwith, putting in order an old mahogany secretary,
showed him a drawer full of photographs, daguerrotypes. The boy and his
gay young mother were the best of friends, for, only nineteen when he
was born, she had never let the distance widen between them; had held
the freshness of her youth sacred against the time when he should share
it. Year by year, living in his enthusiasms, drawing him to hers, she
had grown young in his childhood, which year by year came closer to her
maturity. Until now there was between the tall, athletic lad and the
still young and attractive woman, an equal friendship, a common youth,
which gave charm and elasticity to the natural tie between them. Yet
even to this comrade-mother the boy had not told his dream, for the
difficulty of putting into words the atmosphere, the compelling power of
it. So that when she opened one of the old-fashioned black cases which
held the early sun-pictures, and showed him the portrait within, he
startled her by a sudden exclamation. From the frame of red velvet and
tarnished gilt there laughed up at him the little boy of his dream.
There was no mistaking him, and if there were doubt about the face,
there was the peculiar dress--the black and white plaid with large
squares of black velvet sewed here and there as decoration. Philip
stared in astonishment at the sturdy figure, the childish face with its
wide forehead and level, strong brows; its dark eyes straight-gazing and
smiling.

"Mother--who is he? Who is he?" he demanded.

"Why, my lamb, don't you know? It's your little uncle Philip--my
brother, for whom you were named--Philip Fairfield the sixth. There was
always a Philip Fairfield at Fairfield since 1790. This one was the
last, poor baby! and he died when he was five. Unless you go back there
some day--that's my hope, but it's not likely to come true. You are a
Yankee, except for the big half of you that's me. That's Southern, every
inch." She laughed and kissed his fresh cheek impulsively. "But what
made you so excited over this picture, Phil?"

Philip gazed down, serious, a little embarrassed, at the open case in
his hand. "Mother," he said after a moment, "you'll laugh at me, but
I've seen this chap in a dream three times now."

"Oh!" She did laugh at him. "Oh, Philip! What have you been eating for
dinner, I'd like to know? I can't have you seeing visions of your
ancestors at fifteen--it's unhealthy."

The boy, reddening, insisted. "But, mother, really, don't you think it
was queer? I saw him as plainly as I do now--and I've never seen this
picture before."

"Oh, yes, you have--you must have seen it," his mother threw back
lightly. "You've forgotten, but the image of it was tucked away in some
dark corner of your mind, and when you were asleep it stole out and
played tricks on you. That's the way forgotten ideas do: they get even
with you in dreams for having forgotten them."

"Mother, only listen--" But Mrs. Beckwith, her eyes lighting with a
swift turn of thought, interrupted him--laid her finger on his lips.

"No--you listen, boy dear--quick, before I forget it! I've never told
you about this, and it's very interesting."

And the youngster, used to these wilful ways of his sister-mother,
laughed and put his fair head against her shoulder and listened.

"It's quite a romance," she began, "only there isn't any end to it; it's
all unfinished and disappointing. It's about this little Philip here,
whose name you have--my brother. He died when he was five, as I said,
but even then he had a bit of dramatic history in his life. He was born
just before war-time in 1859, and he was a beautiful and wonderful baby;
I can remember all about it, for I was six years older. He was incarnate
sunshine, the happiest child that ever lived, but far too quick and
clever for his years. The servants used to ask him, 'Who is you, Marse
Philip, sah?' to hear him answer, before he could speak it plainly, 'I'm
Philip Fairfield of Fairfield'; he seemed to realize that, and his
responsibility to them and to the place, as soon as he could breathe. He
wouldn't have a darky scolded in his presence, and every morning my
father put him in front of him in the saddle, and they rode together
about the plantation. My father adored him, and little Philip's sunshiny
way of taking possession of the slaves and the property pleased him more
deeply, I think, than anything in his life. But the war came before this
time, when the child was about a year old, and my father went off, of
course, as every Southern man went who could walk, and for a year we did
not see him. Then he was badly wounded at the battle of Malvern Hill;
and came home to get well. However, it was more serious than he knew,
and he did not get well. Twice he went off again to join our army, and
each time he was sent back within a month, too ill to be of any use. He
chafed constantly, of course, because he must stay at home and farm,
when his whole soul ached to be fighting for his flag; but finally in
December, 1863, he thought he was well enough at last for service. He
was to join General John Morgan, who had just made his wonderful escape
from prison at Columbus, and it was planned that my mother should take
little Philip and me to England to live there till the war was over and
we could all be together at Fairfield again. With that in view my
father drew all of his ready money--it was ten thousand dollars in
gold--from the banks in Lexington, for my mother's use in the years they
might be separated. When suddenly, the day before he was to have gone,
the old wound broke out again, and he was helplessly ill in bed at the
hour when he should have been on his horse riding toward Tennessee. We
were fifteen miles out from Lexington, yet it might be rumored that
father had drawn a large sum of money, and, of course, he was well known
as a Southern officer. Because of the Northern soldiers, who held the
city, he feared very much to have the money in the house, yet he hoped
still to join Morgan a little later, and then it would be needed as he
had planned. Christmas morning my father was so much better that my
mother went to church, taking me, and leaving little Philip, then four
years old, to amuse him. What happened that morning was the point of all
this rambling; so now listen hard, my precious thing."

The boy, sitting erect now, caught his mother's hand silently, and his
eyes stared into hers as he drunk in every word:

"Mammy, who was, of course, little Philip's nurse, told my mother
afterward that she was sent away before my father and the boy went into
the garden, but she saw them go and saw that my father had a tin box--a
box about twelve inches long, which seemed very heavy--in his arms, and
on his finger swung a long red ribbon with a little key strung on it.
Mother knew it as the key of the box, and she had tied the ribbon on it
herself.

"It was a bright, crisp Christmas day, pleasant in the garden--the box
hedges were green and fragrant, aromatic in the sunshine. You don't even
know the smell of box in sunshine, you poor child! But I remember that
day, for I was ten years old, a right big girl, and it was a beautiful
morning for an invalid to take the air. Mammy said she was proud to see
how her 'handsome boy' kept step with his father, and she watched the
two until they got away down by the rose-garden, and then she couldn't
see little Philip behind the three-foot hedge, so she turned away. But
somewhere in that big garden, or under the trees beside it, my father
buried the box that held the money--ten thousand dollars. It shows how
he trusted that baby, that he took him with him, and you'll see how his
trust was only too well justified. For that evening, Christmas night,
very suddenly my father died--before he had time to tell my mother where
he had hidden the box. He tried; when consciousness came a few minutes
before the end he gasped out, 'I buried the money'--and then he choked.
Once again he whispered just two words: 'Philip knows.' And my mother
said, 'Yes, dearest--Philip and I will find it--don't worry, dearest,'
and that quieted him. She told me about it so many times.

"After the funeral she took little Philip and explained to him as well
as she could that he must tell mother where he and father had put the
box, and--this is the point of it all, Philip--he wouldn't tell. She
went over and over it all, again and again, but it was no use. He had
given his word to my father never to tell, and he was too much of a baby
to understand how death had dissolved that promise. My mother tried
every way, of course, explanations and reasoning first, then pleading,
and finally severity; she even punished the poor little martyr, for it
was awfully important to us all. But the four-year-old baby was
absolutely incorruptible, he cried bitterly and sobbed out:

"'Farver said I mustn't never tell anybody--never! Farver said Philip
Fairfield of Fairfield mustn't _never_ bweak his words,' and that was
all.

"Nothing could induce him to give the least hint. Of course there was
great search for it, but it was well hidden and it was never found.
Finally, mother took her obdurate son and me and came to New York with
us, and we lived on the little income which she had of her own. Her hope
was that as soon as Philip was old enough she could make him understand,
and go back with him and get that large sum lying underground--lying
there yet, perhaps. But in less than a year the little boy was dead and
the secret was gone with him."

Philip Beckwith's eyes were intense and wide. The Fairfield eyes, brown
and brilliant, their young fire was concentrated on his mother's face.

"Do you mean that money is buried down there, yet, mother?" he asked
solemnly.

Mrs. Beckwith caught at the big fellow's sleeve with slim fingers.
"Don't go to-day, Phil--wait till after lunch, anyway!"

"Please don't make fun, mother--I want to know about it. Think of it
lying there in the ground!"

"Greedy boy! We don't need money now, Phil. And the old place will be
yours when I am dead--" The lad's arm went about his mother's shoulders.
"Oh, but I'm not going to die for ages! Not till I'm a toothless old
person with side curls, hobbling along on a stick. Like this!"--she
sprang to her feet and the boy laughed a great peal at the hag-like
effect as his young mother threw herself into the part. She dropped on
the divan again at his side.

"What I meant to tell you was that your father thinks it very unlikely
that the money is there yet, and almost impossible that we could find it
in any case. But some day when the place is yours you can have it put
through a sieve if you choose. I wish I could think you would ever live
there, Phil; but I can't imagine any chance by which you should. I
should hate to have you sell it--it has belonged to a Philip Fairfield
so many years."

A week later the boy left his childhood by the side of his mother's
grave. His history for the next seven years may go in a few lines.
School days, vacations, the four years at college, outwardly the
commonplace of an even and prosperous development, inwardly the infinite
variety of experience by which each soul is a person; the result of the
two so wholesome a product of young manhood that no one realized under
the frank and open manner a deep reticence, an intensity, a
sensitiveness to impressions, a tendency toward mysticism which made the
fibre of his being as delicate as it was strong.

Suddenly, in a turn of the wheel, all the externals of his life changed.
His rich father died penniless and he found himself on his own hands,
and within a month the boy who had owned five polo ponies was a
hard-working reporter on a great daily. The same quick-wittedness and
energy which had made him a good polo player made him a good reporter.
Promotion came fast and, as those who are busiest have most time to
spare, he fell to writing stories. When the editor of a large magazine
took one, Philip first lost respect for that dignified person, then felt
ashamed to have imposed on him, then rejoiced utterly over the check.
After that editors fell into the habit; the people he ran against knew
about his books; the checks grew better reading all the time; a point
came where it was more profitable to stay at home and imagine events
than to go out and report them. He had been too busy as the days
marched, to generalize, but suddenly he knew that he was a successful
writer; that if he kept his head and worked, a future was before him. So
he soberly put his own English by the side of that of a master or two
from his book-shelves, to keep his perspective clear, and then he worked
harder. And it came to be five years after his father's death.

At the end of those years three things happened at once. The young man
suddenly was very tired and knew that he needed the vacation he had gone
without; a check came in large enough to make a vacation easy--and he
had his old dream. His fagged brain had found it but another worry to
decide where he should go to rest, but the dream settled the vexed
question off-hand--he would go to Kentucky. The very thought of it
brought rest to him, for like a memory of childhood, like a bit of his
own soul, he knew the country--the "God's Country" of its people--which
he had never seen. He caught his breath as he thought of warm, sweet air
that held no hurry or nerve strain; of lingering sunny days whose hours
are longer than in other places; of the soft speech, the serene and
kindly ways of the people; of the royal welcome waiting for him as for
every one, heartfelt and heart-warming; he knew it all from a daughter
of Kentucky--his mother. It was May now, and he remembered she had told
him that the land was filled with roses at the end of May--he would go
then. He owned the old place, Fairfield, and he had never seen it.
Perhaps it had fallen to pieces; perhaps his mother had painted it in
colors too bright; but it was his, the bit of the earth that belonged to
him. The Anglo-Saxon joy of land-owning stirred for the first time
within him--he would go to his own place. Buoyant with the new thought
he sat down and wrote a letter. A cousin of the family, of a younger
branch, a certain John Fairfield, lived yet upon the land. Not in the
great house, for that had been closed many years, but in a small house
almost as old, called Westerly. Philip had corresponded with him once or
twice about affairs of the estate, and each letter of the older man's
had brought a simple and urgent invitation to come South and visit him.
So, pleased as a child with the plan, he wrote that he was coming on a
certain Thursday, late in May. The letter sent, he went about in a dream
of the South, and when its answer, delighted and hospitable, came
simultaneously with one of those bleak and windy turns of weather which
make New York, even in May, a marvellously fitting place to leave, he
could not wait. Almost a week ahead of his time he packed his bag and
took the Southwestern Limited, and on a bright Sunday morning he awoke
in the old Phoenix Hotel in Lexington. He had arrived too late the night
before to make the fifteen miles to Fairfield, but he had looked over
the horses in the livery-stable and chosen the one he wanted, for he
meant to go on horseback, as a Southern gentleman should, to his domain.
That he meant to go alone, that no one, not even John Fairfield, knew of
his coming, was not the least of his satisfactions, for the sight of the
place of his forefathers, so long neglected, was becoming suddenly a
sacred thing to him. The old house and its young owner should meet each
other like sweethearts, with no eyes to watch their greeting, their slow
and sweet acquainting; with no living voices to drown the sound of the
ghostly voices that must greet his home-coming from those walls--voices
of his people who had lived there, voices gone long since into eternal
silence.

A little crowd of loungers stared with frank admiration at the young
fellow who came out smiling from the door of the Phoenix Hotel, big and
handsome in his riding clothes, his eyes taking in the details of
girths and bits and straps with the keenness of a horseman.

Philip laughed as he swung into the saddle and looked down at the
friendly faces, most of them black faces, below, "Good-by," he said.
"Wish me good luck, won't you?" and a willing chorus of "Good luck,
boss," came flying after him as the horse's hoofs clattered down the
street.

Through the bright drowsiness of the little city he rode in the early
Sunday morning, and his heart sang for joy to feel himself again across
a horse, and for the love of the place that warmed him already. The sun
shone hotly, but he liked it; he felt his whole being slipping into
place, fitting to its environment; surely, in spite of birth and
breeding, he was Southern born and bred, for this felt like home more
than any home he had known!

As he drew away from the city, every little while, through stately
woodlands, a dignified sturdy mansion peeped down its long vista of
trees at the passing cavalier, and, enchanted with its beautiful
setting, with its air of proud unconsciousness, he hoped each time that
Fairfield would look like that. If he might live here--and go to New
York, to be sure, two or three times a year to keep the edge of his
brain sharpened--but if he might live his life as these people lived, in
this unhurried atmosphere, in this perfect climate, with the best things
in his reach for every-day use; with horses and dogs, with out-of-doors
and a great, lovely country to breathe in; with--he smiled vaguely--with
sometime perhaps a wife who loved it as he did--he would ask from earth
no better life than that. He could write, he felt certain, better and
larger things in such surroundings.

But he pulled himself up sharply as he thought how idle a day-dream it
was. As a fact, he was a struggling young author, he had come South for
two weeks' vacation, and on the first morning he was planning to live
here--he must be light-headed. With a touch of his heel and a word and a
quick pull on the curb, his good horse broke into a canter, and then,
under the loosened rein, into a rousing gallop, and Philip went dashing
down the country road, past the soft, rolling landscape, and under cool
caves of foliage, vivid with emerald greens of May, thoughts and dreams
all dissolved in exhilaration of the glorious movement, the nearest
thing to flying that the wingless animal, man, may achieve.

He opened his coat as the blood rushed faster through him, and a paper
fluttered from his pocket. He caught it, and as he pulled the horse to a
trot, he saw that it was his cousin's letter. So, walking now along the
brown shadows and golden sunlight of the long white pike, he fell to
wondering about the family he was going to visit. He opened the folded
letter and read:

"My dear Cousin," it said--the kinship was the first thought in John
Fairfield's mind--"I received your welcome letter on the 14th. I am
delighted that you are coming at last to Kentucky, and I consider that
it is high time you paid Fairfield, which has been the cradle of your
stock for many generations, the compliment of looking at it. We closed
our house in Lexington three weeks ago, and are settled out here now for
the summer, and find it lovelier than ever. My family consists only of
myself and Shelby, my one child, who is now twenty-two years of age. We
are both ready to give you an old-time Kentucky welcome, and Westerly is
ready to receive you at any moment you wish to come."

The rest was merely arrangement for meeting the traveller, all of which
was done away with by his earlier arrival.

"A prim old party, with an exalted idea of the family," commented Philip
mentally. "Well-to-do, apparently, or he wouldn't be having a winter
house in the city. I wonder what the boy Shelby is like. At twenty-two
he should be doing something more profitable than spending an entire
summer out here, I should say."

The questions faded into the general content of his mind at the glimpse
of another stately old pillared homestead, white and deep down its
avenue of locusts. At length he stopped his horse to wait for a ragged
negro trudging cheerfully down the road.

"Do you know a place around here called Fairfield?" he asked.

"Yessah. I does that, sah. It's that ar' place right hyeh, sah, by yo'
hoss. That ar's Fahfiel'. Shall I open the gate fo' you, boss?" and
Philip turned to see a hingeless ruin of boards held together by the
persuasion of rusty wire.

"The home of my fathers looks down in the mouth," he reflected aloud.

The old negro's eyes, gleaming from under shaggy sheds of eyebrows,
watched him, and he caught the words.

"Is you a Fahfiel', boss?" he asked eagerly. "Is you my young Marse?" He
jumped at the conclusion promptly. "You favors de fam'ly mightily, sah.
I heard you was comin'"; the rag of a hat went off and he bowed low.
"Hit's cert'nly good news fo' Fahfiel', Marse Philip, hit's mighty good
news fo' us niggers, sah. I'se b'longed to the Fahfiel' fam'ly a hund'ed
years, Marse--me and my folks, and I wishes yo' a welcome home,
sah--welcome home, Marse Philip."

Philip bent with a quick movement from his horse, and gripped the
twisted old black hand, speechless. This humble welcome on the highway
caught at his heart deep down, and the appeal of the colored people to
Southerners, who know them, the thrilling appeal of a gentle, loyal
race, doomed to live forever behind a veil and hopeless without
bitterness, stirred for the first time his manhood. It touched him to be
taken for granted as the child of his people; it pleased him that he
should be "Marse Philip" as a matter of course, because there had always
been a Marse Philip at the place. It was bred deeper in the bone of him
than he knew, to understand the soul of the black man; the stuff he was
made of had been Southern two hundred years.

The old man went off down the white limestone road singing to himself,
and Philip rode slowly under the locusts and beeches up the long drive,
grass-grown and lost in places, that wound through the woodland
three-quarters of a mile to his house. And as he moved through the park,
through sunlight and shadow of these great trees that were his, he felt
like a knight of King Arthur, like some young knight long exiled, at
last coming to his own. He longed with an unreasonable seizure of
desire to come here to live, to take care of it, beautify it, fill it
with life and prosperity as it had once been filled, surround it with
cheerful faces of colored people whom he might make happy and
comfortable. If only he had money to pay off the mortgage, to put the
place once in order, it would be the ideal setting for the life that
seemed marked out for him--the life of a writer.

The horse turned a corner and broke into a canter up the slope, and as
the shoulder of the hill fell away there stood before him the picture of
his childhood come to life, smiling drowsily in the morning sunlight
with shuttered windows that were its sleeping eyes--the great white
house of Fairfield. Its high pillars reached to the roof; its big wings
stretched away at either side; the flicker of the shadow of the leaves
played over it tenderly and hid broken bits of woodwork, patches of
paint cracked away, window-panes gone here and there. It stood as if too
proud to apologize or to look sad for such small matters, as serene, as
stately as in its prime. And its master, looking at it for the first
time, loved it.

He rode around to the side and tied his mount to an old horse-rack, and
then walked up the wide front steps as if each lift were an event. He
turned the handle of the big door without much hope that it would yield,
but it opened willingly, and he stood inside. A broom lay in a corner,
windows were open--his cousin had been making ready for him. There was
the huge mahogany sofa, horse-hair-covered, in the window under the
stairs, where his mother had read "Ivanhoe" and "The Talisman." Philip
stepped softly across the wide hall and laid his head where must have
rested the brown hair of the little girl who had come to be, first all
of his life, and then its dearest memory. Half an hour he spent in the
old house, and its walls echoed to his footsteps as if in ready homage,
and each empty room whose door he opened met him with a sweet half
familiarity. The whole place was filled with the presence of the child
who had loved it and left it, and for whom this tall man, her child,
longed now as if for a little sister who should be here, and whom he
missed. With her memory came the thought of the five-year-old uncle who
had made history for the family so disastrously. He must see the garden
where that other Philip had gone with his father to hide the money on
the fated Christmas morning. He closed the house door behind him
carefully, as if he would not disturb a little girl reading in the
window, a little boy sleeping perhaps in the nursery above. Then he
walked down the broad sweep of the driveway, the gravel crunching under
the grass, and across what had been a bit of velvet lawn, and stood for
a moment with his hand on a broken vase, weed-filled, which capped the
stone post of a gateway.

All the garden was misty with memories. Where a tall golden flower
nodded alone, from out of the tangled thicket of an old flower-bed, a
bright-haired child might have laughed with just that air of startled,
gay naughtiness, from the forbidden centre of the blossoms. In the
moulded tan-bark of the path was a vague print, like the ghost of a
footprint that had passed down the way a lifetime ago. The box, half
dead, half sprouted into high unkept growth, still stood stiffly against
the riotous overflow of weeds as if it yet held loyally to its business
of guarding the borders, Philip shifted his gaze slowly, lingering over
the dim contours, the shadowy shape of what the garden had been.
Suddenly his eyes opened wide. How was this? There was a hedge as neat,
as clipped, as any of Southampton in mid-season, and over it a glory of
roses, red and white and pink and yellow, waved gay banners to him in
trim luxuriance. He swung toward them, and the breeze brought him for
the first time in his life the fragrance of box in sunshine.

Four feet tall, shaven and thick and shining, the old hedge stood, and
the garnered sweetness of a hundred years' slow growth breathed
delicately from it toward the great-great-grandson of the man who
planted it. A box hedge takes as long in the making as a gentleman, and
when they are done the two are much of a sort. No plant in all the
garden has so subtle an air of breeding, so gentle a reserve, yet so
gracious a message of sweetness for all of the world who will stop to
learn it. It keeps a firm dignity under the stress of tempest when
lighter growths are tossed and torn; it shines bright through the snow;
it has a well-bred willingness to be background, with the well-bred gift
of presence, whether as background or foreground. The soul of the
box-tree is an aristocrat, and the sap that runs through it is the blue
blood of vegetation.

Saluting him bravely in the hot sunshine with its myriad shining
sword-points, the old hedge sent out to Philip on the May breeze its
ancient welcome of aromatic fragrance, and the tall roses crowded gayly
to look over its edge at the new master. Slowly, a little dazed at this
oasis of shining order in the neglected garden, he walked to the opening
and stepped inside the hedge. The rose garden! The famous rose garden of
Fairfield, and as his mother had described it, in full splendor of
cared-for, orderly bloom. Across the paths he stepped swiftly till he
stood amid the roses, giant bushes of Jacqueminot and Marechal Niel; of
pink and white and red and yellow blooms in thick array. The glory of
them intoxicated him. That he should own all of this beauty seemed too
good to be true, and instantly he wanted to taste his ownership. The
thought came to him that he would enter into his heritage with strong
hands here in the rose garden; he caught a deep-red Jacqueminot almost
roughly by its gorgeous head and broke off the stem. He would gather a
bunch, a huge, unreasonable bunch of his own flowers. Hungrily he broke
one after another; his shoulders bent over them, he was deep in the
bushes.

"I reckon I shall have to ask you not to pick any more of those roses,"
a voice said.

Philip threw up his head as if he had been shot; he turned sharply with
a great thrill, for he thought his mother spoke to him. Perhaps it was
only the Southern inflection so long unheard, perhaps the sunlight that
shone in his eyes dazzled him, but, as he stared, the white figure
before him seemed to him to look exactly as his mother had looked long
ago. Stumbling over his words, he caught at the first that came.

"I--I think it's all right," he said.

The girl smiled frankly, yet with a dignity in her puzzled air. "I'm
afraid I shall have to be right decided," she said. "These roses are
private property and I mustn't let you have them."

"Oh!" Philip dropped the great bunch of gorgeous color guiltily by his
side, but still held tightly the prickly mass of stems, knowing his
right, yet half wondering if he could have made a mistake. He stammered:

"I thought--to whom do they belong?"

"They belong to my cousin, Mr. Philip Fairfield Beckwith"--the sound of
his own name was pleasant as the falling voice strayed through it. "He
is coming home in a few days, so I want them to look their prettiest for
him--for his first sight of them. I take care of this rose garden," she
said, and laid a motherly hand on the nearest flower. Then she smiled.
"It doesn't seem right hospitable to stop you, but if you will come over
to Westerly, to our house, father will be glad to see you, and I will
certainly give you all the flowers you want." The sweet and masterful
apparition looked with a gracious certainty of obedience straight into
Philip's bewildered eyes.

[Illustration: "I reckon I shall have to ask you not pick any more of
those roses," a voice said.]

"The boy Shelby!" Many a time in the months after Philip Beckwith
smiled to himself reminiscently, tenderly, as he thought of "the boy
Shelby" whom he had read into John Fairfield's letter; "the boy Shelby"
who was twenty-two years old and the only child; "the boy Shelby" whom
he had blamed with such easy severity for idling at Fairfield; "the boy
Shelby" who was no boy at all, but this white flower of girlhood,
called--after the quaint and reasonable Southern way--as a boy is
called, by the surname of her mother's people.

Toward Westerly, out of the garden of the old time, out of the dimness
of a forgotten past, the two took their radiant youth and the brightness
of to-day. But a breeze blew across the tangle of weeds and flowers as
they wandered away, and whispered a hope, perhaps a promise; for as it
touched them each tall stalk nodded gayly and the box hedges rustled
delicately an answering undertone. And just at the edge of the woodland,
before they were out of sight, the girl turned and threw a kiss back to
the roses and the box.

"I always do that," she said. "I love them so!"

Two weeks later a great train rolled into the Grand Central Station of
New York at half-past six at night, and from it stepped a monstrosity--a
young man without a heart. He had left all of it, more than he had
thought he owned, in Kentucky. But he had brought back with him memories
which gave him more joy than ever the heart had done, to his best
knowledge, in all the years. They were memories of long and sunshiny
days; of afternoons spent in the saddle, rushing through grassy lanes
where trumpet-flowers flamed over gray farm fences, or trotting slowly
down white roads; of whole mornings only an hour long, passed in the
enchanted stillness of an old garden; of gay, desultory searches through
its length and breadth, and in the park that held it, for buried
treasure: of moonlit nights; of roses and June and Kentucky--and always,
through all the memories, the presence that made them what they were,
that of a girl he loved.

No word of love had been spoken, but the two weeks had made over his
life; and he went back to his work with a definite object, a hope
stronger than ambition, and, set to it as music to words, came
insistently another hope, a dream that he did not let himself dwell
on--a longing to make enough money to pay off the mortgage and put
Fairfield in order, and live and work there all his life--with Shelby.
That was where the thrill of the thought came in, but the place was very
dear to him in itself.

The months went, and the point of living now were the mails from the
South, and the feast days were the days that brought letters from
Fairfield. He had promised to go back for a week at Christmas, and he
worked and hoarded all the months between with a thought which he did
not formulate, but which ruled his down-sitting and his up-rising, the
thought that if he did well and his bank account grew enough to justify
it he might, when he saw her at Christmas, tell her what he hoped; ask
her--he finished the thought with a jump of his heart. He never worked
harder or better, and each check that came in meant a step toward the
promised land; and each seemed for the joy that was in it to quicken his
pace, to lengthen his stride, to strengthen his touch. Early in November
he found one night when he came to his rooms two letters waiting for
him with the welcome Kentucky postmark. They were in John Fairfield's
handwriting and in his daughter's, and "_place aux dames_" ruled rather
than respect to age, for he opened Shelby's first. His eyes smiling, he
read it.

"I am knitting you a diamond necklace for Christmas," she wrote. "Will
you like that? Or be sure to write me if you'd rather have me hunt in
the garden and dig you up a box of money. I'll tell you--there ought to
be luck in the day, for it was hidden on Christmas and it should be
found on Christmas; so on Christmas morning we'll have another look, and
if you find it I'll catch you 'Christmas gif'' as the darkies do, and
you'll have to give it to me, and if I find it I'll give it to you; so
that's fair, isn't it? Anyway--" and Philip's eyes jumped from line to
line, devouring the clear, running writing. "So bring a little present
with you, please--just a tiny something for me," she ended, "for I'm
certainly going to catch you 'Christmas gif'.'"

Philip folded the letter back into its envelope and put it in his
pocket, and his heart felt warmer for the scrap of paper over it. Then
he cut John Fairfield's open dreamily, his mind still on the words he
had read, on the threat--"I'm going to catch you 'Christmas gif'.'" What
was there good enough to give her? Himself, he thought humbly, very far
from it. With a sigh that was not sad he dismissed the question and
began to read the other letter. He stood reading it by the fading light
from the window, his hat thrown by him on a chair, his overcoat still
on, and, as he read, the smile died from his face. With drawn brows he
read on to the end, and then the letter dropped from his fingers to the
floor and he did not notice; his eyes stared widely at the high building
across the street, the endless rows of windows, the lights flashing into
them here and there. But he saw none of it. He saw a stretch of quiet
woodland, an old house with great white pillars, a silent, neglected
garden, with box hedges sweet and ragged, all waiting for him to come
and take care of them--the home of his fathers, the home he had meant,
had expected--he knew it now--would be some day his own, the home he
had lost! John Fairfield's letter was to tell him that the mortgage on
the place, running now so many years, was suddenly to be foreclosed;
that, property not being worth much in the neighborhood, no one would
take it up; that on January 2nd, Fairfield, the house and land, were to
be sold at auction. It was a hard blow to Philip Beckwith. With his
hands in his overcoat pockets he began to walk up and down the room,
trying to plan, to see if by any chance he might save this place he
loved. It would mean eight thousand dollars to pay the mortgage. One or
two thousand more would put the estate in order, but that might wait if
he could only tide over this danger, save the house and land. An hour he
walked so, forgetting dinner, forgetting the heavy coat which he still
wore, and then he gave it up. With all he had saved--and it was a fair
and promising beginning--he could not much more than half pay the
mortgage, and there was no way, which he would consider, by which he
could get the money. Fairfield would have to go, and he set his teeth
and clinched his fists as he thought how he wanted to keep it. A year
ago it had meant nothing to him, a year from now if things went his way
he could have paid the mortgage. That it should happen just this
year--just now! He could not go down at Christmas; it would break his
heart to see the place again as his own when it was just slipping from
his grasp. He would wait until it was all over, and go, perhaps, in the
spring. The great hope of his life was still his own, but Fairfield had
been the setting of that hope; he must readjust his world before he saw
Shelby again. So he wrote them that he would not come at present, and
then tried to dull the ache of his loss with hard work.

But three days before Christmas, out of the unknown forces beyond his
reasoning swept a wave of desire to go South, which took him off his
feet. Trained to trust his brain and deny his impulse as he was, yet
there was a vein of sentiment, almost of superstition, in him which the
thought of the old place pricked sharply to life. This longing was
something beyond him--he must go--and he had thrown his decisions to the
winds and was feverish until he could get away.

As before, he rode out from the Phoenix Hotel, and at ten o'clock in
the morning he turned into Fairfield. It was a still, bright Christmas
morning, crisp and cool, and the air like wine. The house stood bravely
in the sunlight, but the branches above it were bare and no softening
leafage hid the marks of time; it looked old and sad and deserted
to-day, and its master gazed at it with a pang in his heart. It was his,
and he could not save it. He turned away and walked slowly to the
garden, and stood a moment as he had stood last May, with his hand on
the stone gateway. It was very silent and lonely here, in the hush of
winter; nothing stirred; even the shadows of the interlaced branches
above lay almost motionless across the walks.

Something moved to his left, down the pathway--he turned to look. Had
his heart stopped, that he felt this strange, cold feeling in his
breast? Were his eyes--could he be seeing? Was this insanity? Fifty feet
down the path, half in the weaving shadows, half in clear sunlight,
stood the little boy of his life-long vision, in the dress with the
black velvet squares, his little uncle, dead forty years ago. As he
gazed, his breath stopping, the child smiled and held up to him, as of
old, a key on a scarlet string, and turned and flitted as if a flower
had taken wing, away between the box hedges. Philip, his feet moving as
if without his will, followed him. Again the baby face turned its
smiling dark eyes toward him, and Philip knew that the child was calling
him, though there was no sound; and again without volition of his own
his feet took him where it led. He felt his breath coming difficultly,
and suddenly a gasp shook him--there was no footprint on the unfrozen
earth where the vision had passed. Yet there before him, moving through
the deep sunlit silence of the garden, was the familiar, sturdy little
form in its old-world dress. Philip's eyes were open; he was awake,
walking; he saw it. Across the neglected tangle it glided, and into the
trim order of Shelby's rose garden; in the opening between the box walls
it wheeled again, and the sun shone clear on the bronze hair and fresh
face, and the scarlet string flashed and the key glinted at the end of
it. Philip's fascinated eyes saw all of that. Then the apparition
slipped into the shadow of the beech trees and Philip quickened his step
breathlessly, for it seemed that life and death hung on the sight. In
and out through the trees it moved; once more the face turned toward
him; he caught the quick brightness of a smile. The little chap had
disappeared behind the broad tree-trunk, and Philip, catching his
breath, hurried to see him appear again. He was gone. The little spirit
that had strayed from over the border of a world--who can say how far,
how near?--unafraid in this earth-corner once its home, had slipped away
into eternity through the white gate of ghosts and dreams.

Philip's heart was pumping painfully as he came, dazed and staring, to
the place where the apparition had vanished. It was a giant beech tree,
all of two hundred and fifty years old, and around its base ran a broken
wooden bench, where pretty girls of Fairfield had listened to their
sweethearts, where children destined to be generals and judges had
played with their black mammies, where gray-haired judges and generals
had come back to think over the fights that were fought out. There were
letters carved into the strong bark, the branches swung down
whisperingly, the green tent of the forest seemed filled with the memory
of those who had camped there and gone on. Philip's feet stumbled over
the roots as he circled the veteran; he peered this way and that, but
the woodland was hushed and empty; the birds whistled above, the grasses
rustled below, unconscious, casual, as if they knew nothing of a
child-soul that had wandered back on Christmas day with a Christmas
message, perhaps, of good-will to its own.

As he stood on the farther side of the tree where the little ghost had
faded from him, at his feet lay, open and conspicuous, a fresh, deep
hole. He looked down absent-mindedly. Some animal--a dog, a rabbit--had
scratched far into the earth. A bar of sunlight struck a golden arm
through the branches above, and as he gazed at the upturned, brown dirt
the rays that were its fingers reached into the hollow and touched a
square corner, a rusty edge of tin. In a second the young fellow was
down on his knees digging as if for his life, and in less than five
minutes he had loosened the earth which had guarded it so many years,
and staggering with it to his feet had lifted to the bench a heavy tin
box. In its lock was the key, and dangling from it a long bit of
no-colored silk, that yet, as he untwisted it, showed a scarlet thread
in the crease. He opened the box with the little key; it turned
scrapingly, and the ribbon crumbled in his fingers, its long duty done.
Then, as he tilted the heavy weight, the double eagles, packed closely,
slipped against each other with a soft clink of sliding metal. The young
man stared at the mass of gold pieces as if he could not trust his
eyesight; he half thought even then that he dreamed it. With a quick
memory of the mortgage he began to count. It was all there--ten thousand
dollars in gold! He lifted his head and gazed at the quiet woodland, the
open shadow-work of the bare branches, the fields beyond lying in the
calm sunlit rest of a Southern winter. Then he put his hand deep into
the gold pieces, and drew a long breath. It was impossible to believe,
but it was true. The lost treasure was found. It meant to him Shelby
and home; as he realized what it meant his heart felt as if it would
break with the joy of it. He would give her this for his Christmas gift,
this legacy of his people and hers, and then he would give her himself.
It was all easy now--life seemed not to hold a difficulty. And the two
would keep tenderly, always, the thought of a child who had loved his
home and his people and who had tried so hard, so long, to bring them
together. He knew the dream-child would not visit him again--the little
ghost was laid that had followed him all his life. From over the border
whence it had come with so many loving efforts it would never come
again. Slowly, with the heavy weight in his arms, he walked back to the
garden sleeping in the sunshine, and the box hedges met him with a wave
of fragrance, the sweetness of a century ago; and as he passed through
their shining door, looking beyond, he saw Shelby. The girl's figure
stood by the stone column of the garden entrance, the light shone on her
bare head, and she had stopped, surprised, as she saw him. Philip's pace
quickened with his heart-throb as he looked at her and thought of the
little ghostly hands that had brought theirs together; and as he looked
the smile that meant his welcome and his happiness broke over her face,
and with the sound of her voice all the shades of this world and the
next dissolved in light.

"'Christmas gif',' Marse Philip!" called Shelby.




THE WIFE OF THE GOVERNOR


The Governor sat at the head of the big black-oak table in his big
stately library. The large lamps on either end of the table stood in old
cloisonne vases of dull rich reds and bronzes, and their shades were of
thick yellow silk. The light they cast on the six anxious faces grouped
about them was like the light in Rembrandt's picture of The Clinic.

It was a very important meeting indeed. A city official, who had for
months been rather too playfully skating on the thin ice of bare respect
for the law, had just now, in the opinion of many, broken through. He
had followed a general order of the Governor's by a special order of his
own, contradicting the first in words not at all, but in spirit from
beginning to end. And the Governor wished to make an example of
him--now, instantly, so promptly and so thoroughly that those who ran
might read, in large type, that the attempt was not a success. He was
young for a Governor--thirty-six years old--and it may be that care for
the dignity of his office was not his only feeling on the subject.

"I won't be badgered, you know," he said to the senior Senator of the
State. "If the man wishes to see what I do when I'm ugly, I propose to
show him. Show me reason, if you can, why this chap shouldn't be
indicted."

To which they answered various things; for while they sympathized, and
agreed in the main, yet several were for temporizing, and most of them
for going a bit slowly. But the Governor was impetuous and indignant.
And here the case stood when there came a knock at the library door.

The Governor looked up in surprise, for it was against all orders that
he should be disturbed at a meeting. But he spoke a "Come in," and
Jackson, the stately colored butler, appeared, looking distressed and
alarmed.

"Oh, Lord! Gov'ner, suh!" was all he got out for a moment, fear at his
own rashness seizing him in its grip at the sight of the six
distinguished faces turned toward him.

"Jackson! What do you want?" asked the Governor, not so very gently.

Jackson advanced, with conspicuous lack of his usual style and
sang-froid, a tray in his hand, and a quite second-class-looking
envelope upon it. "Beg pardon, suh. Shouldn't 'a' interrupted, Gov'nor;
please scuse me, suh; but they boys was so pussistent, and it comed fum
the deepo, and I was mos' feared the railways was done gone on a strike,
and I thought maybe you'd oughter know, suh--Gov'ner."

And in the meantime, while the scared Jackson rambled on thus in an
undertone, the Governor had the cheap, bluish-white envelope in his
hand, and with a muttered "Excuse me" to his guests, had cut it across
and was reading, with a face of astonishment, the paper that was
enclosed. He crumpled it in his hand and threw it on the table.

"Absurd!" he said, half aloud; and then, "No answer, Jackson," and the
man retired.

"Now, then, gentlemen, as we were saying before this interruption"--and
in clear, eager sentences he returned to the charge. But a change had
come over him. The Attorney-General, elucidating a point of importance,
caught his chief's eye wandering, and followed it, surprised, to that
ball of paper on the table. The Secretary of State could not understand
why the Governor agreed in so half-hearted a way when he urged with
eloquence the victim's speedy sacrifice. Finally, the august master of
the house growing more and more distrait, he suddenly rose, and picking
up the crumpled paper--

"Gentlemen, will you have the goodness to excuse me for five minutes?"
he said. "It is most annoying, but I cannot give my mind to business
until I attend to the matter on which Jackson interrupted us. I beg a
thousand pardons--I shall only keep you a moment."

The dignitaries left cooling their heels looked at each other blankly,
but the Lieutenant-Governor smiled cheerfully.

"One of the reasons he is Governor at thirty-six is that he always does
attend to the matters that interrupt him."

Meanwhile the Governor, rushing out with his usual impulsive energy, had
sent two or three servants flying over the house. "Where's Mrs. Mooney?
Send Mrs. Mooney to me here instantly--and be quick;" and he waited,
impatient, although it was for only three minutes, in a little room
across the hall, where appeared to him in that time a square-shaped,
gray-haired woman with a fresh face and blue eyes full of intelligence
and kindliness.

"Mary, look here;" and the big Governor put his hand on the stout little
woman's arm and drew her to the light. Mary and his Excellency were
friends of very old standing indeed, their intimacy having begun
thirty-five years before, when the future great man was a rampant baby,
and Mary his nurse and his adorer, which last she was still. "I want to
read you this, and then I want you to telephone to Bristol at once." He
smoothed out the wrinkled single sheet of paper.

"My dear Governor Rudd," he read,--"My friends the McNaughtons of
Bristol are friends of yours too, I think, and that is my reason for
troubling you with this note. I am on my way to visit them now, and
expected to take the train for Bristol at twenty minutes after eight
to-night, but when I reached here at eight o'clock I found the
time-table had been changed, and the train had gone out twenty minutes
before. And there is no other till to-morrow. I don't know what to do or
where to go, and you are the only person in the city whose name I know.
Would it trouble you to advise me where to go for the night--what hotel,
if it is right for me to go to a hotel? With regret that I should have
to ask this of you when you must be busy with great affairs all the
time, I am,

                            "Very sincerely,
                                       "LINDSAY LEE."

Mary listened, attentive but dazed, and was about to burst out at once
with voluble exclamations and questions when the Governor stopped her.

"Now, Mary, don't do a lot of talking. Just listen to me. I thought at
first this note was from a man, because it is signed by a man's name.
But it looks and sounds like a woman, and I think it should be attended
to. I want you to telephone to Mr. George McNaughton, at Bristol, and
ask if Mr. or Miss Lindsay Lee is a friend of theirs, and say that, if
so, he--or she--is all right, and is spending the night here. Then, in
that case, send Harper to the station with the brougham, and say that I
beg to have the honor of looking after Mrs. McNaughton's friend for the
night. And you'll see that whoever it is is made very comfortable."

"Indeed I will, the poor young thing," said Mary, jumping at a
picturesque view of the case. "But, Mr. Jack, do you want me to
telephone to Mr. McNaughton's and ask if a friend of theirs--"

The Governor cut her short. "Exactly. You know just what I said, Mary
Mooney; you only want to talk it over. I'm much too busy. Tell Jackson
not to come to the library again unless the State freezes over.
Good-night.--I don't think the McNaughtons can complain that I haven't
done their friend brown," said the Governor to himself as he went back
across the hall.

       *       *       *       *       *

Down at the station, beneath the spirited illumination of one whistling
gas-jet, the station-master and Lindsay Lee waited wearily for an answer
from the Governor. It was long in coming, for the station-master's boys,
the Messrs. O'Milligan, seizing the occasion for foreign travel offered
by a sight of the Executive grounds, had made a detour by the Executive
stables, and held deep converse with the grooms. Just as the thought of
duty undone began to prick the leathery conscience of the older one, the
order came for Harper and the brougham. Half an hour later, at the
station, Harper drew up with a sonorous clatter of hoofs. The
station-master hurried forward to interview the coachman. In a moment he
turned with a beaming face.

"It's good news for ye, miss. The Governor's sent his own kerridge for
ye, then. Blessed Mary, but it's him that's condescendin'. Get right
in, miss."

Such a sudden safe harbor seemed almost too good to be true. Lindsay was
nearly asleep as the rubber-tired wheels rolled softly along through the
city. The carriage turned at length from the lights and swung up a long
avenue between trees, and then stopped. The door flew open, and Lindsay
looked up steps and into a wide, lighted doorway, where stood a stout
woman, who hastened to seize her bag and umbrella and take voluble
possession of her. The sleepy, dazed girl was vaguely conscious of large
halls and a wide stair and a kind voice by her side that flowed ever on
in a gentle river of words. Then she found herself in a big, pleasant
bed-room, and beyond was the open door of a tiled bath-room.

"Oh--oh!" she said, and dropped down sideways on the whiteness of the
brass bed, and put her arms around the pillow and her head, hat and all,
on it.

"Poor child!" said pink-checked, motherly Mrs. Mooney. "You're more than
tired, that I can see without trying, and no wonder, too! I shan't say
another word to you, but just leave you to get to bed and to sleep, and
I'm sure it's the best medicine ever made, is a good comfortable bed and
a night's rest. So I shan't stop to speak another word. But is there
anything at all you'd like, Miss Lee? And there, now, what am I thinking
about? I haven't asked if you wouldn't have a bit of supper! I'll bring
it up myself--just a bit of cold bird and a glass of wine? It will do
you good. But it will," as Lindsay shook her head, smiling. "There's
nothing so bad as going to sleep on an empty stomach when you're tired."

"But I had dinner on the train, and I'm not hungry; sure enough, I'm
not; thank you a thousand times."

Mrs. Mooney reluctantly took two steps toward the door, the room shaking
under her soft-footed, heavy tread.

"You're sure you wouldn't like--" She stopped, embarrassed, and the blue
eyes shone like kindly sapphires above the always-blushing cheeks. "I'm
mortified to ask you for fear you'd laugh at me, but you seem like such
a child, and--would you let me bring you--just a slice of bread and
butter with some brown sugar on it?"

Lindsay had a gracious way of knowing when people really wished to do
something for her. She flapped her hands, like the child she looked.
"Oh, how did you think of it? I used to have that for a treat at home.
Yes, I'd _love_ it!" And Mrs. Mooney beamed.

"There! I thought you would! You see, Miss Lee, that's what I used
sometimes to give my boy--that's the Governor--when he was little and
got hungry at bedtime."

Lindsay, left alone, took off her hat, and with a pull and screw at her
necktie and collar-button, dropped into a chair that seemed to hold its
fat arms up for her. She smiled sleepily and comfortably. "I'm having a
right good time," she said to herself, "but it's funny. I feel as if I
lived here, and I love that old housekeeper-nurse of the Governor's. I
wonder what the Governor is like? I wonder--" And at this point she
became aware, with only slight surprise, of a little boy with a crown
on his head who offered her a slice of bread and butter and sugar a yard
square, and told her he had kept it for her twenty-five years. She was
about to reason with him that it could not possibly be good to eat in
that case, when something jarred the brain that was slipping so easily
down into oblivion, and as her eyes opened again she saw Mrs. Mooney's
solid shape bending over the tub in the bath-room, and a noise of
running water sounded pleasant and refreshing.

"Oh, did I go to sleep?" she asked, sitting up straight and blinking
wide-open eyes.

"There! I knew it would wake you, and I couldn't a-bear to do it, my
dear, but it would never do for you to sleep like that in your clothes,
and I drew your bath warm, thinking it would rest you better, but I can
just change it hot or cold as it suits you. And here's the little lunch
for you, and I feel as if it was my own little boy I was taking care of
again; the year he was ten it was he ate so much at night. I saw him
just now, and he's that tired from his meeting--it's a shame how hard he
has to work for this State, time and time again. He said 'Good-night,
Mary,' he said, just the way he did years ago--such a little gentleman
he always was. The dearest and the handsomest thing he was; they used to
call him 'the young prince,' he was that handsome and full of spirit. He
told me to say he hoped for the pleasure of seeing Miss Lee at breakfast
to-morrow at nine; but if you should be tired, Miss Lee, or prefer your
breakfast up here, which you can have it just as well as not, you know.
And here I'm talking you to death again, and you ought to stop me, for
when I begin about the Governor I never know when to stop myself. Just
put up your foot, please, and I'll take your shoes off," And while she
unlaced Lindsay's small boots with capable fingers she apologized
profusely for talking--talking as much again.

"There's nothing to excuse. It's mighty interesting to hear about him,"
said Lindsay. "I shall enjoy meeting him that much more. Is there a
picture of him anywhere around?" looking about the room.

That was a lucky stroke. Mary Mooney parted the black ribbon that was
tied beneath her neat white collar and turned her face up, all pleased
smiles, to the girl, who leaned down to examine an ivory miniature set
as a brooch. It was a sunny-faced little boy, with thick straight golden
hair and fearless brown eyes--a sweet childish face very easy to admire,
and Lindsay admired it enough to satisfy even Mrs. Mooney.

"I had it for a Christmas gift the year he was nine," she said. Mary's
calendar ran from The Year of the Governor, 1. "He had whooping-cough
just after that, and was ill seven weeks. Dear me, what teeny little
feet you have!" as she put on them the dressing-slippers from the bag,
and struggled up to her own, heavily but cheerfully.

Lindsay looked at her thoughtfully. "You haven't mentioned the
Governor's wife," she said. "Isn't she at home?" and she leaned over to
pull up the furry heel of the little slipper. So that she missed seeing
Mary Mooney's face. Expression chased expression over that smiling
landscape--astonishment, perplexity, anxiety, the gleam of a new-born
idea, hesitation, and at last a glow of unselfish kindliness which often
before had transfigured it.

"No, Miss Lee," said Mary. "She's away from home just now." And then,
unblushingly, "But she's a lovely lady, and she'll be very disappointed
not to see you."

Almost the next thing Lindsay knew she was watching dreamily spots of
sunlight that danced on a pale pink wall. Then a bird began to sing at
the edge of the window; there was a delicate rustle of skirts, and she
turned her head and saw a maid--not Mary Mooney this time--moving softly
about, opening part way the outside shutters, drawing lip the shades a
bit, letting the light and shadow from tossing trees outside and the air
and the morning in with gentle slowness. She dressed with deliberation,
and, lo! it was a quarter after nine o'clock.

So that the Governor waited for his breakfast. For ten minutes, while
the paper lasted, waiting was unimportant; and then, being impatient by
nature, and not used to it, he suddenly was cross.

"Confound the girl!" soliloquized the Governor. "I'll have her indicted
too! First she breaks up a meeting, then she gets the horses out at all
hours, and now, to cap it, she makes me wait for breakfast. Why should I
wait for my breakfast? Why the devil can't she--Now, Mary, what is it? I
warn you I'm cross, and I shan't listen well till I've had breakfast.
I'm waiting for that young lady you're coddling. Where's that young
lady? Why doesn't she--What?"

For the flood-gates were open, and the soft verbal oceans of Mary were
upon him. He listened two minutes, mute with astonishment, and then he
rose up in his wrath and was verbal also.

"What! You told her I was _married_? What the dev--And you're
actually asking _me_ to tell her so _too_? Mary, are you insane?
Embarrassed? What if she is embarrassed? And what do I care if--What?
Sweet and pretty? Mary, don't be an idiot. Am I to improvise a wife, in
my own house, because a stray girl may object to visiting a bachelor?
Not if I know it. Not much." The Governor bristled with indignation.
"Confound the girl, I'll--" At this point Mary, though portly, vanished
like a vision of the night, and there stood in the doorway a smiling
embodiment of the morning, crisp in a clean shirt-waist, and free from
consciousness of crime.

"Is it Governor Rudd?" asked Lindsay; and the Governor was, somehow,
shaking hands like a kind and cordial host, and the bitterness was gone
from his soul. "I certainly don't know how to thank you," she said.
"You-all have been very good to me, and I've been awfully comfortable. I
was so lost and unhappy last night; I felt like a wandering Jewess. I
hope I haven't kept you waiting for breakfast?"

"Not a moment," said the Governor, heartily, placing her chair, and it
was five minutes before he suddenly remembered that he was cross. Then
he made an effort to live up to his convictions. "This is a mistake," he
said to himself. "I had no intention of being particularly friendly with
this young person. Rudd, I can't allow you to be impulsive in this way.
You're irritated by the delay and by last night: you're bored to be
obliged to entertain a girl when you wish to read the paper; you're
anxious to get down to the Capitol to see those men; all you feel is a
perfunctory politeness for the McNaughtons' friend. Kindly remember
these facts, Rudd, and don't make a fool of yourself gambolling on the
green, instead of sustaining the high dignity of your office." So
reasoned the Governor secretly, and made futile attempts at high
dignity, while his heart became as wax, and he questioned of his soul at
intervals to see if it knew what was going on.

So the Governor sat before Lindsay Lee at his own table, momentarily
more surprised and helpless. And Lindsay, eating her grape-fruit with
satisfaction, thought him delightful, and wondered what his wife was
like, and how many children he had, and where they all were. It was at
least safe to speak of the wife, for the old house-keeper-nurse had
given her an unqualified recommendation. So she spoke.

"I'm sorry to hear that Mrs. Rudd is not at home," she began. "It must
be rather lonely in this big house without her."

The Governor looked at her and laughed. "Not that I've noticed," he
said, and was suddenly seized with a sickness of pity that was the
inevitable effect of Lindsay Lee. She needed no pity, being healthy,
happy, and well-to-do, but she had, for the punishment of men's sins,
sad gray eyes and a mouth whose full lips curved sorrowfully down. Her
complexion was the colorless, magnolia-leaf sort that is typically
Southern; her dark hair lay in thick locks on her forehead as if always
damp with emotion; her swaying, slender figure seemed to appeal to
masculine strength; and the voice that drawled a syllable to twice its
length here, to slide over mouthfuls of words there, had an upward
inflection at the end of sentences that brought tears to one's eyes.
There was no pose about her, but the whole effect of her was
pathetic--illogically, for she caught the glint of humor from every side
light of life, which means pleasure that other people miss. The old
warning against vice says that we "first endure, then pity, then
embrace"; but Lindsay differed from vice so far that people never had to
endure her, but began with pity, finding it often a very short step to
the wish, at least, to embrace her. The Governor after fifteen minutes'
acquaintance had arrived at pitying her, intensely and with his whole
soul, as he did most things. He held another interview with himself.
"Lord! what an innocent face it is!" he said. "Mary said she would be
embarrassed--the brute that would embarrass her! Hanged if I'll do it!
If she would rather have me married, married I'll be." He raised candid
eyes to Lindsay's face.

"I'm afraid I've shocked you. You mustn't think I shall not be glad
when--Mrs. Rudd--is here. But, you see, I've been very busy lately. I've
hardly had time to breathe--haven't had time to miss--her--at all,
really. All the same--" Now what was the queer feeling in his throat and
lungs--yes, it must be the lungs--as the Governor framed this sentence?
He went on: "All the same, I shall be a happy man when--my wife--comes
home."

Lindsay's face cleared. This was satisfactory and proper; there was no
more to be said about it. She looked up with a smile to where the old
butler beamed upon her for her youth and beauty and her accent and her
name.

A handful of busy men left the Capitol in some annoyance that morning
because the Governor had telephoned that he could not be there before
half past eleven. They would have been more annoyed, perhaps, if they
had seen him dashing about the station light-heartedly just before the
eleven-o'clock train for Bristol left. They said to each other: "It must
be a matter of importance that keeps him. Governor Rudd almost never
throws over an appointment. He has been working like the devil over that
street-railway franchise case; probably it's that."

And the Governor stood by a chair in a parlor-car, his world cleared of
street railways and indictments and their class as if they had never
been, and in his hand was a small white oblong box tied with a tinsel
cord.

"Good-by," he said, "but remember I'm to be asked down for the garden
party next week, and I'm coming."

"I certainly won't forget. And I reckon I'd better not try to thank you
for--Oh, thank you! I thought that looked like candy. And bring Mrs.
Rudd with you next week. I want to see her. And--Oh, get off, please;
it's moving. Good-by, good-by."

And to the mighty music of a slow-clanging bell and the treble of
escaping steam and the deep-rolling accompaniment of powerful wheels the
Governor escaped to the platform, and the capital city of that sovereign
State was empty--practically empty. He noticed it the moment he turned
his eyes from the disappearing train and moved toward Harper and the
brougham. He also noticed that he had never noticed it before.

A solid citizen, catching a glimpse of the well-known, thoughtful face
through the window of the Executive carriage as it bowled across toward
the Capitol, shook his head. "He works too hard," he said to himself. "A
fine fellow, and young and strong, but the pace is telling. He looks
anxious to-day. I wonder what scheme is revolving in his brain at this
moment."

And at that moment the Governor growled softly to himself. "I've
overdone it," he said. "She's sure to be offended. No one likes to be
taken in. I ought not to have showed her Mrs. Rudd's conservatory; that
was a mistake. She won't let them ask me down; I shan't see her. Hanged
if I won't telephone Mrs. McNaughton to keep the secret till I've been
down." And he did, before Lindsay could get there, amid much laughter at
both ends of the wire, and no small embarrassment at his own.

And he was asked down, and having enjoyed himself, was asked again. And
again. So that during the three weeks of Lindsay's visit Bristol saw
more of the Chief Executive officer of the State than Bristol had seen
before, and everybody but Lindsay had an inkling of the reason. But the
time never came to tell her of the shadowy personality of Mrs. Rudd, and
between the McNaughton girls and the Governor, whom they forced into
unexpected statements, to their great though secret glee, Lindsay was
informed of many details in regard to the missing first lady of the
commonwealth. Such a dialogue as the following would occur at the lunch
table:

_Alice McNaughton_ (speaking with ceremonious politeness from one end of
the table to the Governor at the other end). "When is Mrs. Rudd coming,
Governor?"

_The Governor_ (with a certain restraint). "Before very long, I hope,
Miss Alice. Mrs. McNaughton, may I have more lobster? I've never in my
life had as much lobster as I wanted."

_Alice_ (refusing to be side-tracked). "And when did you last hear from
her, Governor?"

_Chuck McNaughton_ (ornament of the Sophomore class at Harvard. In love
with Lindsay, but more so with the joke. Gifted with a sledgehammer
style of wit). "I've been hoping for a letter from her myself, Governor,
but it doesn't come."

_The Governor_ (with slight hauteur). "Ah, indeed!"

_Lindsay_ (at whose first small peep the Governor's eyes turn to hers
and rest there shamelessly). "Why haven't you any pictures of Mrs. Rudd
in the house, Mrs. McNaughton? The Governor's is everywhere and you all
tell me how fascinating she is, and yet don't have her about. It looks
like you don't love her as much as the Governor." (At the mention of
being loved, in that voice, cold shivers seize the Executive nerves.)

_Mrs. McNaughton_ (entranced with the airy persiflage, but knowing her
own to be no light hand at repartee). "Ask the others, my dear."

_Alice_ (jumping at the chance). "Oh, the reason of that is very
interesting! Mrs. Rudd has never given even the Governor her picture.
She--she has principles against it. She belongs, you see, to an ancient
Hebrew family--in fact, she is a Jewess" ("A wandering Jewess," the
Governor interjected, _sotto voce_, his glance veering again to
Lindsay's face), "and you know that Jewish families have religious
scruples about portraits of any sort" (pauses, exhausted).

_Chuck_ (with heavy artillery). "Alice, _taisez-vous_. You're doing
poorly. You can't converse. Your best parlor trick is your red hair.
Miss Lee, I'll show you a picture of Mrs. Rudd some day, and I'll tell
you now what she looks like. She has exquisite melancholy gray eyes, a
mouth like a ripe tomato" (shouts from the table _en masse_, but Chuck
ploughs along cheerily), "hair like the braided midnight" (cries of
"What's that?" and "Hear! Hear!"), "a figure slim and willowy as a
vaulting-pole" (a protest of "No track athletics at meals; that's
forbidden!"), "and a voice--well, if you ever tasted New Orleans
molasses on maple sugar, with 'that tired feeling' thrown in, perhaps
you'll have a glimpse, a mile off, of what that voice is like." (Eager
exclamations of "That's near enough," "Don't do it any more, Chuck," and
"For Heaven's sake, Charlie, stop." Lindsay looks hard with the gray
eyes at the Governor.)

_Lindsay_, "Why don't you pull your bowie-knife out of your boot,
Governor? It looks like he's making fun of your wife, to me. Isn't
anybody going to fight anybody?"

And then Mr. McNaughton would reprove her as a bloodthirsty Kentuckian,
and the whole laughing tableful would empty out on the broad porch. At
such a time the Governor, laughing too, amused, yet uncomfortable, and
feeling himself in a false and undignified position, would vow solemnly
that a stop must be put to all this. It would get about, into the papers
even, by horrid possibility; even now a few intimates of the McNaughton
family had been warned "not to kill the Governor's wife." He would
surely tell the girl the next time he could find her alone, and then the
absurdity would collapse. But the words would not come, or if he
carefully framed them beforehand, this bold, aggressive leader of men,
whose nickname was "Jack the Giant-killer," made a giant of Lindsay's
displeasure, and was afraid of it. He had never been afraid of anything
before. He would screw his courage up to the notch, and then, one look
at the childlike face, and down it would go, and he would ask her to go
rowing with him. They were such good friends; it was so dangerous to
change at a blow existing relations, to tell her that he had been
deceiving her all these weeks. These exquisite June weeks that had flown
past to music such us no June had made before; days snowed under with
roses, nights that seemed, as he remembered them, moonlit for a solid
month. The Governor sighed a lingering sigh, and quoted,

    "Oh what a tangled web we weave
    When first we practise to deceive!"

Yes, he must really wait--say two days longer. Then he might be sure
enough of her--regard--to tell her the truth. And then, a little later,
if he could control himself so long, another truth. Beyond that he did
not allow himself to think.

"Governor Rudd," asked Lindsay suddenly as they walked their horses the
last mile home from a ride on which they had gotten separated--the
Governor knew how--from the rest of the party, "why do they bother you
so about your wife, and why do you let them?"

"Can't help it, Miss Lindsay. They have no respect for me. I'm that sort
of man. Hard luck, isn't it?"

Lindsay turned her sad, infantile gray eyes on him searchingly. "I
reckon you're not," she said. "I reckon you're the sort of man people
don't say things to unless they're right sure you will stand it. They
don't trifle with you." She nodded her head with conviction. "Oh, I've
heard them talk about you! I like that; that's like our men down South.
You're right Southern, anyhow, in some ways. You see, I can pay you
compliments because you're a safe old married man," and her eyes smiled
up at him: she rarely laughed or smiled except with those lovely eyes.
"There's some joke about your wife," she went on, "that you-all won't
tell me. There certainly is. I _know_ it, sure enough I do, Governor
Rudd."

There is a common belief that the Southern accent can be faithfully
rendered in writing if only one spells badly enough. No amount of bad
spelling could tell how softly Lindsay Lee said those last two words.

"I love to hear you say that--'Guv'na Rudd.' I do, 'sho 'nuff,'" mused
the Governor out loud and irrelevantly. "Would you say it again?"

"I wouldn't," said Lindsay, with asperity. "Ridiculous! If you are a
Governor! But I was talking about your wife. Isn't she coming home
before I go? Sometimes I don't believe you have a wife."

That was his chance, and he saw it. He must tell her now or never, and
he drew a long breath. "Suppose I told you that I had not," he said,
"that she was a myth, what would you say?"

"Oh, I'd just never speak to you again," said Lindsay, carelessly. "I
wouldn't like to be fooled like that. Look, there are the others!" and
off she flew at a canter.

It is easy to see that the Governor was not hurried headlong into
confession by that speech. But the crash came. It was the night before
Lindsay was to go back home to far-off Kentucky, and with infinite
expenditure of highly trained intellect, for which the State was paying
a generous salary, the Governor had managed to find himself floating on
a moonlit flood through the Forest of Arden with the Blessed Damozel.
That, at least, is the rendering of a walk in the McNaughtons' wood with
Lindsay Lee as it appeared that night to the intellect mentioned. But
the language of such thoughts is idiomatic and incapable of exact
translation. A flame of eagerness to speak, quenched every moment by a
shower-bath of fear, burned in his soul, when suddenly Lindsay tripped
on a root and fell, with an exclamation. Then fear dried beneath the
flames. It is unnecessary to tell what the Governor did, or what he
said. The language, as language, was unoriginal and of striking
monotony, and as to what happened, most people have had experience which
will obviate the necessity of going into brutal facts. But when,
trembling and shaken, he realized a material world again, Lindsay was
fighting him, pushing him away, her eyes blazing fiercely.

"What do you mean? What _do_ you mean?" she was saying.

"Mean--mean? That I love you--that I want you to love me, to be my
wife!" She stood up like a white ghost in the silver light and shadow of
the wood.

"Governor Rudd, are you crazy?" she cried. "You have a wife already."

The tall Governor threw back his head and laughed a laugh like a child.
The people away off on the porch heard him and smiled. "They are having
a good time, those two," Mrs. McNaughton said.

"Lindsay--Lindsay," and he bent over and caught her hands and kissed
them. "There isn't any wife--there never will be any but you. It was all
a joke. It happened because--Oh, never mind! I can't tell you now; it's
a long story. But you must forgive that; that's all in the past now. The
question is, will you love me--will you love me, Lindsay? Tell me,
Lindsay!" He could not say her name often enough. But there came no
answering light in Lindsay's face. She looked at him as if he were a
striped convict.

"I'll never forgive you," she said, slowly. "You've treated me like a
child; you've made a fool of me, all of you. It was insulting. All a
joke, you call it? And I was the joke; you've been laughing at me all
these weeks. Why was it funny, I'd like to know?"

"Great heavens, Lindsay--you're not going to take it that way? I insult
you--laugh at you! I'd give my life; I'd shoot down any one--Lindsay!"
he broke out appealingly, and made a step toward her.

"Don't touch me!" she cried. "Don't touch me! I hate you!" And as he
still came closer she turned and ran up the path, into the moonlight of
the driveway, and so, a dim white blotch on the fragrant night,
disappeared.

When the Governor, walking with dignity, came up the steps of the porch,
three minutes later, he was greeted with questions.

"What have you done to Lindsay Lee, I'd like to know?" asked Alice
McNaughton. "She said she had fallen and hurt her foot, but she wouldn't
let me go up with her, and she was dignified, which is awfully trying.
Why did you quarrel with her, this last night?"

"Governor," said Chuck, with more discernment than delicacy, "if you
will accept the sympathies of one not unacquainted with grief--" But at
this point his voice faded away as he looked at the Governor.

The Governor never remembered just how he got away from the friendly
hatefulness of that porchful. An early train the next morning was
inevitable, for there was a meeting of real importance this time, and at
all events everything looked about the same shade of gray to him; it
mattered very little what he did. Only he must be doing something every
moment. He devoured work as if it were bread and meat and he were
famished. People said all that autumn and winter that anything like the
Governor's energy had never been seen. He evidently wanted a second
term, and really he ought to have it. He was working hard enough to get
it. About New-Year's he went down to Bristol for the first time since
June, for a dinner at the McNaughtons'. Alice McNaughton's friendly
face, under its red-gold hair, beamed at him from far away down the
table, but after dinner, when the men came in from the dining-room, she
took possession of him boldly.

"Governor, I want to tell you about Lindsay Lee. I know you'll be
interested, though you did have some mysterious fight before she left.
She's been awfully ill with pleurisy, a painful attack, and she's
getting well very slowly. They have just taken her to Paul Smith's. I'm
writing her to-morrow, and I want you to send a good message; it would
please her."

It was hard to stand with eighteen people grouped about him, all more or
less with an eye on his motions, and be the Governor, calm and
dignified, while hot irons were being applied to his heart by this
smiling girl.

"But, Miss Alice," he said, slowly, "I'm afraid you are wrong. I was
unfortunate enough to make Miss Lee very angry. I am afraid she would
think a message from me only an impertinence."

"Sir," said Alice, with decision, "I'm right sometimes, if I'm not
Governor; and it's better to be right than to be Governor, I've
heard--or something. You trust me. Just try the effect of a message, and
see if it isn't a success. What shall I say?"

The Governor was impetuous, and in spite of all the work he had done so
fiercely, the longing the work had been meant to quiet surged up as
strong as ever. "Miss Alice," he said, eagerly, "if you are right,
would it do--do you think I might deliver the message myself?"

"Do I think? Well, if _I_ were a man! Faint heart, you know!"

And the Governor, at that choppy eloquence, openly seized the friendly
young hand and wrung it till Alice begged, laughing but bruised, for
mercy. When he came up, later, to bid her good-night, his face was
bright, and,

"Good-night, Angel of Peace," he said.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mary Mooney, who through the dark days had watched with anxious though
uncomprehending eyes her boy's dejection and hard effort to live it
down, and had applied partridges and sweetbreads and other forms of
devotion steadily but unsuccessfully, saw at once and with, rapture the
change when the Governor greeted her the next morning. Light-heartedly
she packed his traps two days later--she had done it jealously for
thirty-five years, though almost over the dead body of the Governor's
man sometimes in these later days. And when he told her good-by she had
her reward. The man's boyish heart went out in a burst of gratitude to
the tireless love that had sought only his happiness all his life. He
put his arm around the stout little woman's neck.

"Mary," he said, "I'm going to see Miss Lee."

Mary's pink cheeks were scarlet as she patted with a work-worn palm the
strong hand on her shoulder. "Then I know what will happen," she said,
"and I'm glad. And if you don't bring her back with you, Mr. Jack, I
won't let you in."

So the stately Governor went off like a schoolboy with his nurse's
blessing. And later like an arrow from a bow he swung around the corner
of the snowy piazza at Paul Smith's, where Mrs. Lee had told him he
would find her daughter. There was a bundle of fur in a big chair in the
sunlight, dark against the white hills beyond, with their black lines of
pine-trees. As the impetuous steps came nearer, it turned, and--the
Governor's methods were again such that words do them no justice. But
this time with happier result. Half an hour later, when some coherency
was established, he said:

"You waited for me! You've been _waiting_ for me!" as if it were the
most astonishing fact in history. "And since when have you been waiting
for me, you--"

Lindsay laughed, not only with her eyes, but with her soft voice. "Ever
since the morning after, your Excellency. Alice told me all about it
before I left, and made me see reason. And I--and I was right sorry I'd
been so cross. I thought you'd come some time--but you came right slow,"
she said, and her eyes travelled over his face as if she were making
sure he was really there.

"And I never dared to think you would see me!" he said. "But now!"

And again there were circumstances that are best described by a hiatus.

The day after, when Mary Mooney, discreetly letting her soul's idol get
into his library before greeting him, trotted into that stately chamber
with soft, heavy footsteps, she was met with a kiss and a bear's hug
that, as she told Mrs. Rudd later, "was like the year he was nine."

"I didn't bring her, Mary," the Governor said, "but you'd better let me
stay, for she's coming."




THE LITTLE REVENGE


Suddenly a gust of fresh wind caught Sally's hat, and off it flew, a
wide-winged pink bird, over the old, old sea-wall of Clovelly, down
among the rocks of the rough beach, tumbling and jumping from one gray
stone to another, and getting so far away that, in the soft violet
twilight, it seemed as lost as any ship of the Spanish Armada wrecked
long ago on this wild Devonshire coast.

"Oh!" cried Sally distractedly, and clapped her hands to her head with
the human instinct to shut the stable door after the horse is gone.
"Oh!" she cried again; "my pretty hat! And _oh_! it's in the water!"

But suddenly, out of somewhere in the twilight, there was a man chasing
it. Sally leaned over the rugged, yellowish, grayish stone wall and
excitedly called to him.

"Oh, thank you!" she cried, and "That's so good of you!"

The hat had tacked and was sailing inshore now, one stiff pink taffeta
sail set to the breeze. And in a minute, with a reckless splash into the
dashing waves, the man had it, and an easy, athletic figure swung up the
causeway, holding it away from him, as if it might nip at him. He wore a
dark blue jersey, and loose, flapping trousers of a seaman.

"He's only a sailor," Sally said under her breath; "I'd better tip him."
Her hand slipped into her pocket and I heard the click of her purse.

He looked from one to the other of us in the dim light inquiringly, as
he came up, and then off went his cap, and his face broke into the
gentlest, most charming smile as he delivered the hat into Sally's
outstretched hands.

"I'm afraid it's a bit damp," he said.

All dark-eyed, stalwart young fellows are attractive to me for the sake
of one like that who died forty years ago, but this sailor had a charm
of manner that is a gift of the gods, let it fall to prince or peasant;
the pretty deference of his few words, and the quick, radiant smile,
were enough to win friendliness from me. More than that, something in
the set of his head, in the straight gaze of his eyes, held a likeness
that made my memory ache. I smiled back at him instantly. But Sally's
heart was on her hat; hats from good shops did not grow on trees for
Sally Meade.

"I hope it isn't hurt," she said, anxiously, and shook it carefully, and
hardly glanced at the rescuer, who was watching with something that
looked like amusement in his face. Then her good manners came back.

"Thank you a thousand times," she said, and turned to him brightly. "You
were so quick--but, oh! I'm afraid you're wet." She looked at him, and I
saw a little shock of surprise in her face. Beauty so striking will be
admired, even in a common sailor.

"It's nothing," he said, looking down at his sopping, wide trousers;
"I'm used to it," and as Sally's hand went forward I caught the flash of
silver, and at the same moment another flash, from the man's eyes.

It was enough to startle me for the fraction of a second, but, as I
looked again, his expression held only a serious respect, and I was sure
I had been mistaken. He took the money and touched his cap and said,
"Thank you, miss," with perfect dignity. Yet my imagination must have
been lively, for as he slipped it in his pocket, his look turned toward
me, and for another breath of time a gleam of mischief--certainly
mischief--flashed from his dark eyes to mine.

Then Sally, quite unconscious of this, perhaps imaginary, by-play, had
an idea. "Are you a sailor?" she asked.

The man looked at her. "Yes--miss," he answered, a little slowly.

"We want to engage a boat and a man to take us out. Do you know of one?
Have you a boat?"

The young fellow glanced down across the wall where a hull and mast
gleamed indistinctly through the falling night, swinging at the side of
the quay. "That's mine, yonder," he said, nodding toward it. And then,
with the graceful, engaging frankness that I already knew as his, "I
shall be very glad to take you out"--including us both in his glance.

"Sally," I said, five minutes later, as we trudged up the one steep,
rocky street of Clovelly,--the picturesque old street that once led
English smugglers to their caves, and that is more of a staircase than a
street, with rows of stone steps across its narrow width--"Sally, you
are a very unexpected girl. You took my breath away, engaging that man
so suddenly to take us sailing to-morrow. How do you know he is
reliable? It would have been safer to try one of the men they
recommended from the Inn. And certainly it would have been more
dignified to let me make the arrangements. You seem to forget that I am
older than you."

"You aren't," said Sully, giving a squeeze to my arm that she held in
the angle of hers, pushing me with her young strength up the hill.
"You're not as old, cousin Mary. I'm twenty-two, and you're only
eighteen, and I believe you will never be any older."

I think perhaps I like flattery. I am a foolish old woman, and I have
noticed that it is not the young girls who treat me with great deference
and rise as soon as I come who seem to me the most charming, but the
ones who, with proper manners, of course, yet have a touch of
comradeship, as if they recognized in me something more than a fossil
exhibit. I like to have them go on talking about their beaux and their
work and play, and let me talk about it, too. Sally Meade makes me feel
always that there is in me an undying young girl who has outlived all of
my years and is her friend and equal.

"I'm sorry if I was forward, cousin Mary, but the sailing is to be my
party, you know, and then I thought you liked him. He had a pretty
manner for a common sailor, didn't he? And his voice--these low-class
English people have wonderfully well-bred, soft voices. I suppose it's
particularly so here in the South. Cousin Mary, did you see the look he
gave you with those delicious dark eyes? It's always the way--gentleman
or hod-carrier--no one has a chance with men when you are about."

It is pleasant to me, old woman as I am, to be told that people like
me--more pleasant, I think, every year. I never take it for truth, of
course, but I believe it means good feeling, and it makes an atmosphere
easy to breathe. I purred like a contented cat under Sally's talking,
yet, to save my dignity, kept up a protest.

"Sally, my dear! Delicious dark eyes! I'm ashamed of you--a common
sailor!"

"I didn't smile at him," said Sally, reflectively.

So, struggling up the steep street of Clovelly, we went home to the "New
Inn," to cold broiled lobster, to strawberries and clotted Devonshire
cream, and dreamless sleep in the white beds of the quiet rooms whose
windows looked toward the woods and cliffs of Hobby Drive on one side,
and on the other toward the dark, sparkling jewel of the moon-lighted
ocean, and the shadowy line of Lundy Island far in the distance.

That I, an inland woman, an old maid of sixty, should tell a story of
sailing and of love seems a little ridiculous. My nephews at college
beguile me to talk about boats, and then laugh to hear me, for I think
I get the names of things twisted. And as for what I know of the
other--the only love-making to which I ever listened was ended forty
years ago by one of the northern balls that fell in fiery rain on
Pickett's charge at Gettysburg. Yet, if I but tell the tale as it came
to me, others may feel as I did the thrill of the rushing of the keel
through dashing salt water, the swing of the great white sail above, the
flapping of the fresh wind in the slack of it, the exhilaration of
moving with power like the angels, with the great forces of nature for
muscles, the joy of it all expanding, pulsing through you, till it seems
as if the sky might crack if once you let your delight go free. And some
may catch, too, that other thrill, of the hidden feeling that glorified
those days. Few lives are so poor that the like of it has not brightened
them, and no one quite forgets.

It is partly Sally Meade's Southern accent that has made me love her
above nearer cousins, from her babyhood. The modulations of her voice
seem always to bring me close to the sound of the voice that went into
silence when Geoffrey Meade, her father's young kinsman, was killed
long ago.

The Meades, old-time planters in Virginia, have been very poor since the
distant war of the sixties, and it has been one of my luxuries to give
Sally a lift over hard places. Always with instant reward, for the
smallest bit of sunlight, going into her prismatic spirit, comes out a
magnificent rainbow of happiness. So when the idea came that they might
let me have the girl to take abroad that summer, her friend, the girl
spirit in me, jumped for joy. There was no difficulty made; it was one
of the rare good things too good to be true, that yet are true. She did
more for me than I for her, for I simply spent some superfluous idle
money, while she filled every day with a new enjoyment, the reflection
of her own fresh pleasure in every day as it came.

So here we were prowling about the south of England with "Westward Ho!"
for a guide-book; coaching through deep, tawny Devonshire lanes from
Bideford to Clovelly; searching for the old tombstone of Will Cary's
grave in the churchyard on top of the hill; gathering tales of
Salvation Yeo and of Amyas Leigh; listening to echoes of the
three-hundred-year-old time when the great sea-battle was fought in the
channel and many ships of the Armada wrecked along this Devonshire
coast. And always coming back to sleep in the fascinating little "New
Inn," as old as the hills, built on both sides of the one rocky ladder
street of Clovelly, the street so steep that no horses can go in it, and
at the bottom of whose breezy tunnel one sees the rolling floor of the
sea. In so careless a way does the Inn ramble about the cliff that when
I first went to my room, two flights up from the front, I caught my
breath at a blaze of scarlet and yellow nasturtiums that faced me
through a white-painted doorway opening on the hillside and on a tiny
garden at the back.

The irresponsible pleasure of our first sail the next afternoon was
never quite repeated. The boat shot from the landing like a high-strung
horse given his head, out across the unbordered road of silver water,
and in a moment, as we raced toward the low white clouds, we turned and
saw the cliffs of the coast and the tiny village, a gay little pile of
white, green-latticed houses steeped in foliage lying up a crack in the
precipice. Above was the long stretch of the woods of Hobby Drive.
Clovelly is so old that its name is in Domesday Book; so old, some say,
that it was a Roman station, and its name was Clausa Vaillis. But it is
a nearer ancientness that haunts it now. Every wave that dashes on the
rocky shore carries a legend of the ships of the Invincible Armada. As
we asked question after question of our sailor, handsomer than ever
to-day with a red silk handkerchief knotted sailor-fashion about his
strong neck, story after story flashed out, clear and dramatic, from his
answers. The bunch of houses there on the shore? Yes, that had a
history. The people living there were a dark-featured, reticent lot,
different from other people hereabouts. It was said that one of the
Spanish galleons went ashore there, and the men had been saved and had
settled on the spot and married Devonshire women, but their descendants
had never lost the tradition of their blood. Certainly their speech and
their customs were peculiar, unlike those of the villages near. He had
been there and had seen them, had heard them talk. Yes, they were
distinct. He laughed a little to acknowledge it, with an Englishman's
distrust of anything theatrical. A steep cliff started out into the
waves, towering three hundred feet in almost perpendicular lines. Had
that a name? Yes, that was called "Gallantry Bower." No; it was not a
sentimental story--it was the old sea-fight again. It was said that an
English sailor threw a rope from the height and saved life after life of
the crew of a Spaniard wrecked under the point.

"You know the history of your place very well," said Sally. The young
man kept his eyes on his steering apparatus and a slow half-smile
troubled his face and was gone.

"I've had a bit of an education for a seaman--Miss," he said. And then,
after apparently reflecting a moment, "My people live near the Leighs of
Burrough Court, and I was playmate to the young gentlemen and was given
a chance to learn with them, with their tutors, more than a common man
is likely to get always."

At that Sally's enthusiasm broke through her reserve, and I was only a
little less eager.

"The Leighs! The real, old Leighs of Burrough? Amyas Leigh's
descendants? Was that story true? Oh!--" And here manners and
curiosity met and the first had the second by the throat. She stopped.
But our sailor looked up with a boyish laugh that illumined his dark
face.

"Is it so picturesque? I have been brought up so close that it seems
commonplace to me. Every one must be descended from somebody, you know."

"Yes, but Amyas Leigh!" went on Sally, flushed and excited, forgetting
the man in his story. "Why, he's my hero of all fiction! Think of it,
Cousin Mary--there are men near here who are his great--half-a-dozen
greats--grandchildren! Cousin Mary," she stopped and looked at me
impressively, oblivious of the man so near her, "if I could lay my hands
on one of those young Leighs of Burrough I'd marry him in spite of his
struggles, just to be called by that name. I believe I would."

"Sally!" I exclaimed, and glanced at the man; Sally's cheeks colored as
she followed my look. His mouth was twitching, and his eyes smouldered
with fun. But he behaved well. On some excuse of steering he turned his
back instantly and squarely toward us. But Sally's interest was
irrepressible.

"Would you mind telling me their names, Cary?" she asked. He had told us
to call him Cary. "The names of the Mr. Leighs of Burrough."

"No, Cary," I said. "I think Miss Meade doesn't notice that she is
asking you personal questions about your friends."

Cary turned on me a look full of gentleness and chivalry. "Miss Meade
doesn't ask anything that I cannot answer perfectly well," he said.
"There are two sons of the Leighs, Richard Grenville, the older, and
Amyas Francis, the younger. They keep the old names you see.
Richard--Sir Richard, I should say--is the head of the family, his
father being dead."

"Sir Richard Grenville Leigh!" said Sally, quite carried away by that
historic combination. "That's better than Amyas," she went on,
reflectively. "Is he decent? But never mind. I'll marry _him_, Cousin
Mary."

At that our sailor-man shook with laughter, and as I met his eyes
appealing for permission, I laughed as hard as he. Only Sally was
apparently quite serious.

"He would he very lucky--Miss," he said, restraining his mirth with a
respect that I thought remarkable, and turned again to his rudder.

Sally, for the first time having felt the fascination of breathing
historic air, was no longer to be held. The sweeping, free motion, the
rush of water under the bow as we cut across the waves, the wide sky and
the air that has made sailors and soldiers and heroes of Devonshire men
for centuries on end, the exhilaration of it all had gone to the girl's
head. She was as unconscious of Cary as if he had been part of his boat.
I had seen her act so when she was six, and wild with the joy of an
autumn morning, intoxicated with oxygen. We had been put for safety into
the hollow part of the boat where the seats are--I forget what they call
it--the scupper, I think. But I am apt to be wrong on the nomenclature.
At all events, there we were, standing up half the time to look at the
water, the shore, the distant sails, and because life was too intense to
sit down. But when Sally, for all her gentle ways, took the bit in her
teeth, it was too restricted for her there.

"Is there any law against my going up and holding on to the mast?" she
asked Cary.

"Not if you won't fall overboard, Miss," he answered.

The girl, with a strong, self-reliant jump, a jump that had an echo of
tennis and golf and horseback, scrambled up and forward, Cary taking his
alert eyes a moment from his sailing, to watch her to safety, I thought
her pretty as a picture as she stood swaying with one arm around the
mast, in her white shirt-waist and dark dress, her head bare, and brown,
untidy hair blowing across the fresh color of her face, and into her
clear hazel eyes.

"What is the name of this boat?" she demanded, and Cary's deep, gentle
voice lifted the two words of his answer across the twenty feet between
them.

"The Revenge" he said.

Then there was indeed joy. "The Revenge! The Revenge! I am sailing on
the Revenge, with a man who knows Sir Richard Grenville and Amyas Leigh!
Cousin Mary, listen to that--this is the Revenge we're on--this!" She
hugged the mast, "And there are Spanish galleons, great three-deckers,
with yawning tiers of guns, all around us! You may not see them, but
they are here! They are ghosts, but they are here! There is the great
San Philip, hanging over us like a cloud, and we are--we are--Oh, I
don't know who we are, but we're in the fight, the most beautiful fight
in history!" She began to quote:

    And half of their fleet to the right, and half to the left were seen,
    And the little Revenge ran on through the long sea-lane between.

And then:

    Thousands of their sailors looked down from the decks and laughed;
    Thousands of their soldiers made mock at the mad little craft
    Running on and on till delayed
    By the mountain-like San Philip that, of fifteen hundred tons,
    And towering high above us with her yawning tiers of guns,
    Took the breath from our sails, and we stayed.

The soft, lingering voice threw the words at us with a thrill and a leap
forward, just us the Revenge was carrying us with long bounds, over the
shining sea. We were spinning easily now, under a steady light wind, and
Cary, his hand on the rudder, was opposite me. He turned with a start as
the girl began Tennyson's lines, and his shining dark eyes stared up at
her.

"Do you know that?" he said, forgetting the civil "Miss" in his
earnestness.

"Do I know it? Indeed I do!" cried Sally from her swinging rostrum. "Do
you know it, too? I love it--I love every word of it--listen," And I,
who knew her good memory, and the spell that the music of a noble poem
cast over her, settled myself with resignation. I was quite sure that,
short of throwing her overboard, she would recite that poem from
beginning to end. And she did. Her skirts and her hair blowing, her eyes
full of the glory of that old "forlorn hope," gazing out past us to the
seas that had borne the hero, she said it.

    At Flores in the Azores, Sir Richard Grenville lay,
    And a pinnace, like a frightened bird, came flying from far away;
    Spanish ships of war at sea, we have sighted fifty-three!
    Then up spake Sir Thomas Howard
    "'Fore God, I am no coward"--

She went on and on with the brave, beautiful story. How Sir Thomas would
not throw away his six ships of the line in a hopeless fight against
fifty-three; how yet Sir Richard, in the Revenge, would not leave behind
his "ninety men and more, who were lying sick ashore"; how at last Sir
Thomas

          sailed away
    With five ships of war that day
    Till they melted like a cloud in the silent summer heaven,
    But Sir Richard bore in hand
    All his sick men from the land,
    Very carefully and slow,
    Men of Bideford in Devon--
    And he laid them on the ballast down below;
    And they blessed him in their pain
    That they were not left to Spain,
    To the thumbscrew and the stake, for the glory of the Lord.

The boat sailed softly, steadily now, as if it would not jar the rhythm
of the voice telling, with soft inflections, with long, rushing meter,
the story of that other Revenge, of the men who had gone from these
shores, under the great Sir Richard, to that glorious death.

    And the sun went down, and the stars came out far over the summer
      sea,
    And not one moment ceased the fight of the one and the fifty-three.
    Ship after ship, the whole night long, their high-built galleons
      came;
    Ship after ship, the whole night long, with their battle thunder and
      flame;
    Ship after ship, the whole night long, drew back with her dead and
      her shame;
    For some they sunk, and many they shattered so they could fight no
      more.
    God of battles! Was ever a battle like this in the world before?

As I listened, though I knew the words almost, by heart too, my eyes
filled with tears and my soul with the desire to have been there, to
have fought as they did, on the little Revenge one after another of the
great Spanish ships, till at last the Revenge was riddled and helpless,
and Sir Richard called to the master-gunner to sink the ship for him,
but the men rebelled, and the Spaniards took what was left of ship and
fighters. And Sir Richard, mortally wounded, was carried on board the
flagship of his enemies, and died there, in his glory, while the
captains

         --praised him to his face.
    With their courtly Spanish grace.

So died, never man more greatly, Sir Richard Grenville, of Stow in
Devon.

The crimson and gold of sunset were streaming across the water as she
ended, and we sat silent. The sailor's face was grim, as men's faces are
when they are deeply stirred, but in his dark eyes burned an intensity
that reserve could not bold back, and as he still stared at the girl a
look shot from them that startled me like speech. She did not notice.
She was shaken with the passion of the words she had repeated, and
suddenly, through the sunlit, rippling silence, she spoke again.

"It's a great thing to be a Devonshire sailor," she said, solemnly. "A
wonderful inheritance--it ought never to be forgotten. And as for that
man--that Sir Richard Grenville Leigh--he ought to carry his name so
high that nothing low or small could ever touch it. He ought never to
think a thought that is not brave and fine and generous."

There was a moment's stillness and then I said, "Sally, my child, it
seems to me you are laying down the law a little freely for Devonshire.
You have only been here four days." And in a second she was on her usual
gay terms with the world again.

"A great preacher was wasted in me," she said. "How I could have
thundered at everybody else about their sins! Cousin Mary, I'm coming
down--I'm all battered, knocking against the must, and the little
trimmings hurt my hands."

Cary did not smile. His face was repressed and expressionless and in it
was a look that I did not understand. He turned soberly to his rudder
and across the broken gold and silver of the water the boat drew in to
shadowy Clovelly.

It was a shock, after we had landed and I had walked down the quay a few
yards to inspect the old Red Lion Inn, the house of Salvation Yeo, to
come back and find Sally dickering with Cary. I had agreed that this
sail should be her "party," because it pleased the girl's proud spirit
to open her small purse sometimes for my amusement. But I did not mean
to let her pay for all our sailing, and I was horrified to find her
trying to get Cary cheaper by the quantity. When I arrived, Sally, a
little flustered and very dignified and quite evidently at the end of a
discussion as to terms, was concluding an engagement, and there was a
gleam in the man's wonderful eyes, which did much of his talking for
him.

"You see the boat is very new and clean, Miss," he was saying, "and I
hope you were satisfied with me?"

I upset Sally's business affairs at once, engaged Cary, and told him he
must take out no one else without knowing our plans. My handkerchief
fell as I talked to him and he picked it up and presented it with as
much ease and grace as if he had done such things all his life. It was a
remarkable sailor we had happened on. A smile came like sunshine over
his face--the smile that made him look as Geoffrey Meade looked, half a
century ago.

"I'll promise not to take any one else, ma'am," he said. And then, with
the pretty, engaging frankness that won my heart over again each time,
"And I hope you'll want to go often--not so much for the money, but
because it is a pleasure to me to take you--both."

There was mail for us waiting at the Inn. "Listen, Sally," I said, as I
read mine in my room after dinner. "This is from Anne Ford. She wants to
join us here the 6th of next month, to fill in a week between visits at
country-houses."

[Illustration: "You see, the boat is very new and clean, Miss," he was
saying.]

Sally, sitting on the floor before the fire, her dark hair loose and her
letters lying about her, looked up attentively, and discreetly answered
nothing. Anne Ford was my cousin, but not hers, and I knew without
discussing it, that Sally cared for her no more than I. She was made of
showy fibre, woven in a brilliant pattern, but the fibre was a little
coarse, and the pattern had no shading. She was rich and a beauty and so
used to being the centre of things, and largely the circumference too,
that I, who am a spoiled old woman, and like a little place and a little
consideration, find it difficult to be comfortable as spoke upon her
wheel.

"It's too bad," I went on regretfully. "Anne will not appreciate
Clovelly, and she will spoil it for us. She is not a girl I care for. I
don't see why I should he made a convenience for Anne Ford," I argued in
my selfish way. "I think I shall write her not to come."

Sally laughed cheerfully. "She won't bother us, Cousin Mary. It would be
too bad to refuse her, wouldn't it? She can't spoil Clovelly--it's been
here too long. Anne is rather overpowering," Sally went on, a bit
wistfully. "She's such a beauty, and she has such stunning clothes."

The firelight played on the girl's flushed, always-changing face, full
of warm light and shadow; it touched daintily the white muslin and pink
ribbons of the pretty negligee she wore, Sally was one of the poor girls
whose simple things are always fresh and right. I leaned over and patted
her rough hair affectionately.

"Your clothes are just as pretty," I said, "and Anne doesn't compare
with you in my eyes." I lifted the unfinished letter and glanced over
it. "All about her visit to Lady Fisher," I said aloud, giving a resume
as I read. "What gowns she wore to what functions; what men were devoted
to her--their names--titles--incomes too." I smiled. "And--what is
this?" I stopped talking, for a name had caught my eye. I glanced over
the page. "Isn't this curious! Listen, my dear," I said. "This will
interest you!" I read aloud from Anne's letter.

"'But the man who can have me if he wants me is Sir Richard Leigh. He is
the very best that ever happened, and moreover, quite the catch of the
season. His title is old, and he has a yacht and an ancestral place or
two, and is very rich, they say--but that isn't it. My heart is his
without his decorations--well, perhaps not quite that, but it's
certainly his with the decorations. He is such a beauty, Cousin Mary!
Even you would admire him. It gives you quite a shock when he comes into
a room, yet he is so unconscious and modest, and has the most graceful,
fascinatingly quiet manners and wonderful brown eyes that seem to talk
for him. He does everything well, and everything hard, is a dare-devil
on horseback, a reckless sailor, and a lot besides. If you could see the
way those eyes look at me, and the smile that breaks over his face as if
the sun had come out suddenly! But alas! the sun has gone under now, for
he went this morning, and it's not clear if he's coming back or not.
They say his yacht is near Bideford, where his home is, and Clovelly is
not far from that, is it?'"

I stopped and looked at Sally, listening, on the floor. She was staring
into the fire.

"What do you think of that?" I asked. Sally was slow at answering; she
stared on at the burning logs that seemed whispering answers to the
blaze.

"Some girls have everything," she said at length. "Look at Anne. She's
beautiful and rich and everybody admires her, and she goes about to big
country-houses and meets famous and interesting people. And now this Sir
Richard Leigh comes like the prince into the story, and I dare say he
will fall in love with her and if she finds no one that suits her better
she will marry him and have that grand old historic name."

"Sally, dear," I said, "you're not envying Anne, are you?"

A quick blush rushed to her face. "Cousin Mary! What foolishness I've
been talking! How could I! What must you think of me! I didn't mean
it--please believe I didn't. I'm the luckiest girl on earth, and I'm
having the most perfect time, and you are a fairy godmother to me,
except that you're more like a younger sister. I was thinking aloud.
Anne is such a brilliant being compared to me, that the thought of her
discourages me sometimes. It was just Cinderella admiring the princess,
you know."

"Cinderella got the prince," I said, smiling.

"I don't want the prince," said Sally, "even if I could get him. I
wouldn't marry an Englishman. I don't care about a title. To be a
Virginian is enough title for me. It was just his name, magnificent Sir
Richard Grenville's name and the Revenge-Armada atmosphere that took my
fancy. I don't know if Anne would care for that part," she added,
doubtfully.

"I'm sure Anne would know nothing about it," I answered decidedly, and
Sally went on cheerfully.

"She's very welcome to the modern Sir Richard, yacht and title and all.
I don't believe he's as attractive as your sailor, Cousin Mary.
Something the same style, I should say from the description. If you
hadn't owned him from the start, I'd rather like that man to be my
sailor, Cousin Mary--he's so everything that a gentleman is supposed to
be. How did he learn that manner--why, it would flatter you if he let
the boom whack you on the head. Too bad he's only a common sailor--such
a prince gone wrong!"

I looked at her talking along softly, leaning back on one hand and
gazing at the fire, a small white Turkish slipper--Southern girls always
have little feet--stuck out to the blaze, and something in the leisurely
attitude and low, unhurried voice, something, too, in the reminiscent
crackle of the burning wood, invited me to confidence. I went to my
dressing-table, and when I came back, dropped, as if I were another
girl, on the rug beside her. "I want to show you this," I said, and
opened a case that travels always with me. From the narrow gold rim of
frame inside, my lover smiled gayly up at her brown hair and my gray,
bending over it together.

None of the triumphs of modern photographers seem to my eyes so
delicately charming as the daguerrotypes of the sixties. As we tipped
the old picture this way and that, to catch the right light on the image
under the glass, the very uncertainty of effect seemed to give it an
elusive fascination. To my mind the birds in the bush have always
brighter plumage than any in the hand, and one of these early
photographs leaves ever, no matter from what angle you look upon it,
much to the imagination. So Geoff in his gray Southern uniform, young
and soldierly, laughed up at Sally and me from the shadowy lines beneath
the glass, more like a vision of youth than like actual flesh and blood
that had once been close and real. His brown hair, parted far to one
side, swept across his forehead in a smooth wave, as was the
old-fashioned way; his collar was of a big, queer sort unknown to-day;
the cut of his soldier's coat was antique; but the beauty of the boyish
face, the straight glance of his eyes, and ease of the broad shoulders
that military drill could not stiffen, these were untouched, were
idealized even by the old-time atmosphere that floated up from the
picture like fragrance of rose-leaves. As I gazed down at the boy, it
came to me with a pang that he was very young and I growing very old,
and I wondered would he care for me still. Then I remembered that where
he lived it was the unworn soul and not the worn-out body that counted,
and I knew that the spirit within me would meet his when the day came,
with as fresh a joy as forty years ago. And as I still looked, happy in
the thought, I felt all at once as if I had seen his face, heard his
voice, felt the touch of his young hand that day--could almost feel it
yet. Perhaps my eyes were a little dim, perhaps the uncertainty of the
old daguerrotype helped the illusion, but the smile of the master of the
Revenge seemed to shine up at me from my Geoff's likeness, and then
Sally's slow voice broke the pause.

"It's Cousin Geoffrey, isn't it?" she asked. Her father was Geoffrey
Meade's cousin--a little boy when Geoff died, "Was he as beautiful as
that?" she said, gently, putting her hand over mine that held the velvet
case. And then, after another pause, she went on, hesitatingly; "Cousin
Mary, I wonder if you would mind if I told you whom he looks like to
me?"

"No, my dear," I answered easily, and like an echo to my thought her
words came.

"It is your sailor. Do you see it? He is only a common seaman, of
course, but I think he must have a wonderful face, for with all his
dare-devil ways I always think of 'Blessed are the pure in spirit' when
I see him. And the eyes in the picture have the same expression--do you
mind my saying it, Cousin Mary?"

"I saw it myself the first time I looked at him," I said. And then, as
people do when they are on the verge of crying, I laughed. "Anne Ford
would think me ridiculous, wouldn't she?" and I held Geoff's picture in
both my hands. "He is much better suited to her or to you. A splendid
young fellow of twenty-four to belong to an old woman like me--it is
absurd, isn't it?"

"He is suited to no one but you, dear, and you are just his age and
always will be," and as Sally's arms caught me tight I felt tears that
were not my own on my cheek.

It was ten days yet before Anne was due to arrive, and almost every day
of the ten we sailed. The picturesque coast of North Devon, its deep
bays, its stretches of high, tree-topped cliffs, grew to be home-like to
us. We said nothing of Cary and his boat at the Inn, for we soon saw
that both were far-and-away better than common, and we were selfish.
Nor did the man himself seem to care for more patronage. He was always
ready when we wished to go, and jumped from his spick-and-span deck to
meet us with a smile that started us off in sunshine, no matter what the
weather. And with my affection for the lovely, uneven coast and the seas
that held it in their flashing fingers, grew my interest in the winning
personality that seemed to combine something of the strength of the
hills and the charm of the seas of Devonshire.

One day after another he loosed the ropes with practised touch, and the
wind taught the sail with a gay rattle and the little Revenge flung off
the steep street and the old sea-wall and the green cliffs of Clovelly,
and first yards and then miles of rippling ocean lay between us and
land, and we sailed away, we did not need to know or care where, with
our fate for the afternoon in his reliable hands. Little by little we
forgot artificial distinctions in the out-of-doors, natural atmosphere,
or that the man was anything but himself--a self always simple, always
right. Looking back, I see how deeply I was to blame, to have been so
blind, at my age, but the figure by the rudder, swinging to the boat's
motion, grew to be so familiar and pleasant a sight, that I did not
think of being on guard against him. Little as he talked, his moods were
varied, grave or gay or with a gleam of daring in his eyes that made
him, I think, a little more attractive than any other way. Yet when a
wind of seriousness lifted the still or impetuous surface, I caught a
glimpse, sometimes, of a character of self-reliance, of decision as
solid as the depths under the shifting water of his ocean. There was
never a false note in his gentle manner, and I grew to trust serenely to
his tact and self-respect, and talked to him freely as I chose. Which of
course I should not have done. But there was a temptation to which I
yielded in watching for the likeness in his face, and in listening for a
tone or two of his voice that caught my heart with the echo of a voice
long silent.

One morning to our astonishment Cary sent up to break our engagement for
the afternoon. Something had happened so that he could not possibly get
away. But it was moonlight and warm--would we not go out in the evening?
The idea seemed to me a little improper, yet very attractive, and
Sally's eyes danced.

"Let's be bold and bad and go, Cousin Mary," she pleaded, and we went.

A shower of moonlight fell across the sea and on the dark masses of the
shore; it lay in sharp patches against the black shadows of the sail; it
turned Sally's bare, dark head golden, and tipped each splashing wave
with a quick-vanishing electric light. It was not earth or ocean, but
fairyland. We were sailing over the forgotten, sea-buried land of
Lyonesse; forests where Tristram and Iseult had ridden, lay under our
rushing keel; castles and towers and churches were there--hark! could I
not hear the faint bells in the steeples ringing up through the waves?
The old legend, half true, half fable, was all real to me as I sat in
the shadow of the sail and stared, only half seeing them, at Sally
standing with her hands on the rudder and Cary leaning over her,
teaching her to sail the Revenge. Their voices came to me clear and
musical, yet carrying no impression of what they were saying. Then I saw
Sally's little fingers slip suddenly, and Cary's firm hand close over
them, pushing the rudder strongly to one side. His face was toward me,
and I saw the look that went over it as his hand held hers. It startled
me to life again, and I sat up straight, but he spoke at once with quiet
self-possession.

"I beg your pardon, Miss Meade. She was heading off a bit dangerously."

And he went on with directions, laughing at her a little, scolding her a
little, yet all with a manner that could not be criticised. I still
wonder how he could have poised so delicately and so long on that
slender line of possible behavior.

As the boat slipped over the shimmering ocean, back into the harbor
again, most of the houses up the sharp ascent of Clovelly street were
dark, but out on the water lay a mass of brilliant lights, rocking
slowly on the tide. Sally was first to notice it.

"There is a ship lying out there. Is it a ship or is it an enchantment?
She is lighted all over. What is it--do you know?"

Cary was working at the sail and he did not look at us or at it as he
answered.

"Yes, Miss--I know her. She is Sir Richard Leigh's yacht the Rose. She
was there as we went out, but she was dark and you did not notice her."

I exclaimed, full of interest, at this, but Sally, standing ghost-like
in her white dress against the sinking sail, said nothing, but stared at
the lights that outlined the yacht against the deep distance of the sky,
and that seemed, as the shadowy hull swung dark on the water, to start
out from nowhere in pin-pricks of diamonds set in opal moonlight.

Lundy Island lies away from Clovelly to the northwest seventeen miles
off on the edge of the world. Each morning as I opened my window at the
Inn, and looked out for the new day's version of the ocean, it lifted a
vague line of invitation and of challenge. Since we had been in
Devonshire the atmosphere of adventure that hung over Lundy had haunted
me with the wish to go there. It was the "Shutter," the tall pinnacle of
rock at its southern end, that Amyas Leigh saw for his last sight of
earth, when the lightning blinded him, in the historic storm that
strewed ships of the Armada along the shore. I am not a rash person, yet
I was so saturated with the story of "Westward Ho!" that I could not go
away satisfied unless I had set foot on Lundy. But it had the worst of
reputations, and landing was said to be hazardous.

"It isn't that I can't get you there," said Cary when I talked to him,
"but I might not be able to get you away."

Then he explained in a wise way that I did not entirely follow, how the
passage through the rocks was intricate, and could only be done with a
right wind, and how, if the wind changed suddenly, it was impossible to
work out until the right wind came again. And that might not be for
days, if one was unlucky. It had been known to happen so. Yet I lingered
over the thought, and the more I realized that it was unreasonable, the
more I wanted to go. The spirit of the Devonshire seas seemed, to my
fancy, to live on the guarded, dangerous rocks, and I must pay tribute
before I left his kingdom. Cary laughed a little at my one bit of
adventurous spirit so out of keeping with my gray hairs, but it was easy
to see that he too wanted to go, and that only fear for our safety and
comfort made him hesitate. The day before Anne Ford was due we went. It
was the day, too, after our sail in the moonlight that I half believed,
remembering its lovely unreality, had been a dream. But as we sailed
out, there lay Sir Richard Leigh's yacht to prove it, smart and
impressive, shining and solid in the sunlight as it had been ethereal
the night before. I gazed at her with some curiosity.

"Have you been on board?" I asked our sailor. "Is Sir Richard there?"

Cary glanced at Sally, who had turned a cold shoulder to the yacht and
was looking back at Clovelly village, crawling up its deep crack in the
cliff. "Yes," he said; "I've been on her twice. Sir Richard is living on
her."

"I suppose he's some queer little rat of a man," Sally brought out in
her soft voice, to nobody in particular.

I was surprised at the girl's incivility, but Cary answered promptly,
"Yes, Miss!" with such cheerful alacrity that I turned to look at him,
more astonished. I met eyes gleaming with a hardly suppressed amusement
which, if I had stopped to reason about it, was much out of place. But
yet, as I looked at him with calm dignity and seriousness, I felt myself
sorely tempted to laugh back. I am a bad old woman sometimes.

The Revenge careered along over the water as if mad to get to Lundy,
under a strong west wind. In about two hours the pile of fantastic rocks
lay stretched in plain view before us. We were a mile or more away--I am
a very uncertain judge of distance--but we could see distinctly the
clouds of birds, glittering white sea-gulls, blowing hither and thither
above the wild little continent where were their nests. There are
thousands and thousands of gulls on Lundy. We had sailed out from
Clovelly at two in bright afternoon sunshine, but now, at nearly four,
the blue was covering with gray, and I saw Cary look earnestly at the
quick-moving sky.

"Is it going to rain?" I asked.

He stood at the rudder, feet apart and shoulders full of muscle and full
of grace, the handkerchief around his neck a line of flame between blue
clothes and olive face. A lock of bronze hair blew boyishly across his
forehead.

"Worse than that," he said, and his eyes were keen as he stared at the
uneven water in front of us. A basin of smoother water and the yellow
tongue of a sand-beach lay beyond it at the foot of a line of high
rocks. "The passage is there"--he nodded. "If I can make it before the
squall catches us"--he glanced up again and then turned to Sally. "Could
you sail her a moment while I see to the sheet? Keep her just so." His
hand placed Sally's with a sort of roughness on the rudder. "Are you
afraid?" He paused a second to ask it.

"Not a bit," said the girl, smiling up at him cheerfully, and then he
was working away, and the little Revenge was flying, ripping the waves,
every breath nearer by yards to that tumbling patch of wolf-gray water.

As I said, I know less about a boat than a boy of five. I can never
remember what the parts of it are called and it is a wonder to me how
they can make it go more than one way. So I cannot tell in any
intelligent manner what happened. But, as it seemed, suddenly, while I
watched Sally standing steadily with both her little hands holding the
rudder, there was a crack as if the earth had split, then, with a
confused rushing and tearing, a mass of something fell with a long-drawn
crash, and as I stared, paralyzed, I saw the mast strike against the
girl as she stood, her hands still firmly on the rudder, and saw her go
down without a sound. There were two or three minutes of which I
remember nothing but the roaring of water. I think I must have been
caught under the sail, for the next I knew I was struggling from beneath
its stiff whiteness, and as I looked about, dazed, behold! we had passed
the reefs and lay rocking quietly. I saw that first, and then I saw
Cary's head as it bent over something he held in his arms--and it was
Sally! I tried to call, I tried to reach them, but the breath must have
been battered out of me, for I could not, and Cary did not notice me. I
think he forgot I was on earth. As I gazed at them speechless,
breathless, Sally's eyes opened and smiled up at him, and she turned her
face against his shoulder like a child. Cary's dark cheek went down
against hers, and through the sudden quiet I heard him whisper.

"Sweetheart! sweetheart!" he said.

Both heads, close against each other, were still for a long moment, and
then my gasping, rasping voice came back to me.

"Cary!" I cried, "for mercy's sake, come and take me out of this jib!"

I have the most confused recollection of the rest of that afternoon.
Cary hammered and sawed and worked like a beaver with the help of two
men who lived on Lundy, fishermen by the curious name of Heaven. Sally
and I helped, too, whenever we could, but all in a heavy silence. Sally
was wrapped in dignity as in a mantle, and her words were few and
practical. Cary, quite as practical, had no thought apparently for
anything but his boat. As for me, I was like a naughty old cat. I fussed
and complained till I must have been unendurable, for the emotions
within me were all at cross-purposes. I was frightened to death when I
thought of General Meade; I was horrified at the picture stamped on my
memory of his daughter, trusted to my care, smiling up with that
unmistakable expression into the eyes of a common sailor. Horrified! My
blood froze at the thought. Yet--it was unpardonable of me--yet I felt a
thrill as I saw again those two young heads together, and heard the
whispered words that were not meant for me to hear.

Somehow or other, after much difficulty, and under much mental strain,
we got home. Sally hardly spoke as we toiled up the stony hill in the
dark beneath a pouring rain, and I, too, felt my tongue tied in an
embarrassed silence. At some time, soon, we must talk, but we both felt
strongly that it was well to wait till we could change our clothes.

At last we reached the friendly brightness of the New Inn windows; we
trudged past them to the steps, we mounted them, and as the front door
opened, the radiant vision burst upon us of Anne Ford, come a day before
her time, fresh and charming and voluble--voluble! It seemed the last
straw to our tired and over-taxed nerves, yet no one could have been
more concerned and sympathetic, and that we were inclined not to be
explicit as to details suited her exactly. All the sooner could she get
to her own affairs. Sir Richard Leigh's yacht was the burden of her lay,
and that it was here and we had seen it added lustre to our adventures.
That we had not been on board and did not know him, was satisfactory
too, and neither of us had the heart to speak of Cary. We listened
wearily, feeling colorless and invertebrate beside this brilliant
creature, while Anne planned to send her card to him to-morrow, and
conjectured gayeties for all of us, beyond. Sir Richard Leigh and his
yacht did not fill a very large arc on our horizon to-night. Sally came
into my room to tell me good-night, when we went up-stairs, and she
looked so wistful and tired that I gave her two kisses instead of one.

"Thank you," she said, smiling mistily. "We won't talk to-night, will
we, Cousin Mary?" So without words, we separated.

Next morning as I opened my tired eyes on a world well started for the
day, there came a tap at the door and in floated Anne Ford, a fine bird
in fine feathers, wide-awake and brisk.

"Never saw such lazy people!" she exclaimed. "I've just been in to see
Sally and she refuses to notice me. I suppose it's exhaustion from
shipwreck. But I wasn't shipwrecked, and I've had my breakfast, and it's
too glorious a morning to stay indoors, so I'm going to walk down to the
water and look at Sir Richard's boat, and send off my card to him by a
sailor or something. Then, if he's a good boy, he will turn up to-day,
and then--!" The end of Anne's sentence was wordless ecstasy.

But the mention of the sailor had opened the flood-gates for me, and in
rushed all my responsibilities. What should I do with this situation
into which I had so easily slipped, and let Sally slip? Should I
instantly drag her off to France like a proper chaperone? Then how could
I explain to Anne--Anne would be heavy dragging with that lodestone of a
yacht in the harbor. Or could we stay here as we had planned and not see
Cary again? The unformed shapes of different questions and answers came
dancing at me like a legion of imps as I lay with my head on the pillow
and looked at Anne's confident, handsome face, and admired the freshness
and cut of her pale blue linen gown.

"Well, Cousin Mary," she said at last, "you and Sally seem both to be
struck dumb from your troubles. I'm going off to leave you till you can
be a little nicer to me. I may come back with Sir Richard--who knows!
Wish me good luck, please!" and she swept off on a wave of good-humor
and good looks.

I lay and thought. Then, with a pleasant leisure that soothed my nerves
a little, I dressed, and went down to breakfast in the quaint
dining-room hung from floor to ceiling with china brought years ago from
the far East by a Clovelly sailor. As I sat over my egg and toast Sally
came in, pale, but sweet and crisp in the white that Southern girls wear
most. There was a constraint over us for the reckoning that we knew was
coming. Each felt guilty toward the other and the result was a formal
politeness. So it was a relief when, just at the last bit of toast, Anne
burst in, all staccato notes of suppressed excitement.

"Cousin Mary! Sally! Sir Richard Leigh is here! He's there!" nodding
over her shoulder. "He walked up with me--he wants to see you both.
But"--her voice dropped to an intense whisper--"he has asked to see Miss
Walton first--wants to speak to her alone! What does he mean?" Anne was
in a tremendous flutter, and it was plain that wild ideas were coursing
through her. "You are my chaperone, of course, but what can he want to
see you for alone--Cousin Mary?"

I could not imagine, either, yet it seemed quite possible that this
beautiful creature had taken a susceptible man by storm, even so
suddenly. I laid my napkin on the table and stood up.

"The chaperone is ready to meet the fairy prince," I said, and we went
across together to the little drawing-room.

It was a bit dark as Anne opened the door and I saw first only a man's
figure against the window opposite, but as he turned quickly and came
toward us, I caught my breath, and stared, and gasped and stared again.
Then the words came tumbling over each other before Anne could speak.

"Cary!" I cried. "What are you doing here--in those clothes?"

Poor Anne! She thought I had made some horrid mistake, and had disgraced
her. But I forgot Anne entirely for the familiar brown eyes that were
smiling, pleading into mine, and in a second he had taken my hand and
bending over, with a pretty touch of stateliness, had kissed it, and the
charm that no one could resist had me fast in its net.

"Miss Walton! You will forgive me? You were always good to me--you won't
lay it up against me that I'm Richard Leigh and not a picturesque
Devonshire sailor! You won't be angry because I deceived you! The devil
tempted me suddenly and I yielded, and I'm glad. Dear devil! I never
should have known either of you if I had not."

There were more of the impetuous sentences that I cannot remember, and
somewhere among them Anne gathered that she was not the point of them,
and left the room like a slighted but still reigning princess. It was
too bad that any one should feel slighted, but if it had to be, it was
best that it should be Anne.

Then my sailor told me his side of the story; how Sally's tip for the
rescue of her hat had showed him what we took him to be; how her
question about a boat had suggested playing the part; how he had begun
it half for the fun of it and half, even then, for the interest the girl
had roused in him--and he put in a pretty speech for the chaperone just
there, the clever young man! He told me how his yacht had come sooner
than he had expected, and that he had to give up one afternoon with her
was so severe a trial that he knew then how much Sally meant to him.

"That moonlight sail was very close sailing indeed," he said, his face
full of a feeling that he did not try to hide. "There was nearly a
shipwreck, when--when she steered wrong." And I remembered.

Then, with no great confidence in her mood, I went in search of my girl.
She is always unexpected, and a dead silence, when I had anxiously told
my tale, was what I had not planned for. After a minute,

"Well?" I asked.

And "Well?" answered Sally, with scarlet cheeks, but calmly.

"He is waiting for you down-stairs," I said.

Then she acted in the foolish way that seemed natural. She dropped on
her knees and put her face against my shoulder.

"Cousin Mary! I can't! It's a strange man--it isn't our sailor any more.
I hate it. I don't like Englishmen."

"He's very much the same as yesterday," I said. "You needn't like him if
you don't want to, but you must go and tell him so yourself." I think
that was rather clever of me.

So, holding my hand and trembling, she went down. When I saw Richard
Leigh's look as he stood waiting, I tried to loosen that clutching hand
and leave them, but Sally, always different from any one else, held me
tight.

"Cousin Mary, I won't stay unless you stay," she said, firmly.

I looked at the young man and he laughed.

"I don't care. I don't care if all the world hears me," he said, and he
took a step forward and caught her hands.

Sally looked up at him. "You're a horrid lord or something," she said.

He laughed softly. "Do you mind? I can't help it. It's hard, but I want
you to help me try to forget it. I'd gladly he a sailor again if you'd
like me better."

"I did like you--before you deceived me. You pretended you were that."

"But I have grievances too--you said I was a queer little rat of a man."

Sally's laugh was gay but trembling. "I did say that, didn't I?"

"Yes, and you tried to underpay me, too."

"Oh, I didn't! You charged a lot more than the others."

Sir Richard shook his head firmly. "Not nearly as much as the Revenge
was worth. I kept gangs of men scrubbing that boat till I nearly went
into bankruptcy. And, what's more, you ought to keep your word, you
know. You said you were going to marry Richard Leigh--Richard Grenville
Cary Leigh is his whole name, you know. Will you keep your word?"

"But I--but you--but I didn't know," stammered Sally, feebly.

He went on eagerly. "You told me how he should wear his name--high
and--and all that." He had no time for abstractions. "He can never do it
alone--will you come and help him?"

Sally was palpably starching about for weapons to aid her losing fight.
"Why do you like me? I'm not beautiful like Anne Ford." He laughed. "I'm
not rich, you know, like lots of American girls. We're very poor"--she
looked at him earnestly.

[Illustration: I felt myself pulled by two pairs of hands.]

"I don't care if you're rich or poor," he said. "I don't know if
you're beautiful--I only know you're you. It's all I want."

She shook a little at his vehemence, but she was a long fighter. "You
don't know me very much," she went on, her soft voice breaking. "Maybe
it's only a fancy--the moonlight and the sailing and all--maybe you only
imagine you like me."

"Imagine I like you!"

And then, at the sight of his quick movement and of Sally's face I
managed to get behind a curtain and put my fingers in my ears. No woman
has a right to more than one woman's love-making. And as I stood there,
a few minutes later, I felt myself pulled by two pairs of hands, and
Sally and her lover were laughing at me.

"May I have her? I want her very much," he said, and I wondered if ever
any one could say no to anything he asked. So, with a word about Sally's
far-away mother and father, I told him, as an old woman might, that I
had loved him from the first, and then I said a little of what Sally was
to me.

"I like her very much," I said, in a shaky voice that tried to be
casual. "Are you sure that you like her enough?" For all of his answer,
he turned, not even touching her hands, and looked at her.

It was as if I caught again the fragrance of the box hedges in the
southern sunshine of a garden where I had walked on a spring morning
long ago. Love is as old-fashioned as the ocean, and us little changed
in all the centuries. Its always yielding, never retreating arms lie
about the lands that are built and carved and covered with men's
progress; it keeps the air sweet and fresh above them, and from
generation to generation its look and its depths are the same. That it
is stronger than death does not say it all. I know that it is stronger
than life. Death, with its crystal touch, may make a weak love strong;
life, with its every-day wear and tear, must make any but a strong love
weak.

I like to think that the look I saw in Richard Leigh's eyes as he turned
toward my girl was the same look I shall see, not so very many years
from now, when I close mine on this dear old world, and open them, by
the shore of the ocean of eternity, on the face of Geoffrey Meade.




       *       *       *       *       *

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