Infomotions, Inc.Tillie, a Mennonite Maid; a Story of the Pennsylvania Dutch / Martin, Helen Reimensnyder, 1868-1939



Author: Martin, Helen Reimensnyder, 1868-1939
Title: Tillie, a Mennonite Maid; a Story of the Pennsylvania Dutch
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): tillie; getz; absalom; miss margaret; jake getz; margaret; fur; nathaniel puntz; teacher; william penn; new canaan; millersville normal; new mennonite; doctor; jacob getz; new mennonites; absalom puntz
Contributor(s): Perry, Thomas Sergeant [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 73,926 words (short) Grade range: 7-10 (grade school) Readability score: 70 (easy)
Identifier: etext4760
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Title: Tillie: A Mennonite Maid

Author: Helen Reimensnyder Martin

Release Date: December, 2003  [EBook #4760]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on March 13, 2002]

Edition: 10

Language: English

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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, TILLIE: A MENNONITE MAID ***




Robert Rowe, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.



TILLIE A MENNONITE MAID

A STORY OF THE PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH

BY HELEN REIMENSNYDER MARTIN





CONTENTS


    I "OH, I LOVE HER! I LOVE HER!"
   II "I'M GOING TO LEARN YOU ONCE!"
  III "WHAT'S HURTIN' YOU, TILLIE?"
   IV "THE DOC" COMBINES BUSINESS AND PLEASURE
    V "NOVELS AIN'T MORAL, DOC!"
   VI JAKE GETZ IN A QUANDARY
  VII "THE LAST DAYS OF PUMP-EYE"
 VIII MISS MARGARET'S ERRAND
   IX "I'LL DO MY DARN BEST, TEACHER!"
    X ADAM SCHUNK'S FUNERAL
   XI "POP! I FEEL TO BE PLAIN"
  XII ABSALOM KEEPS COMPANY
 XIII EZRA HERR, PEDAGOGUE
  XIV THE HARVARD GRADUATE
   XV THE WACKERNAGELS AT HOME
  XVI THE WACKERNAGELS "CONVERSE"
 XVII THE TEACHER MEETS ABSALOM
XVIII TILLIE REVEALS HERSELF
  XIX TILLIE TELLS A LIE
   XX TILLIE IS "SET BACK"
  XXI "I'LL MARRY HIM TO-MORROW!"
 XXII THE DOC CONCOCTS A PLOT
XXIII SUNSHINE AND SHADOW
 XXIV THE REVOLT OF TILLIE
  XXV GETZ "LEARNS" TILLIE
 XXVI TILLIE'S LAST FIGHT





TILLIE A MENNONITE MAID

A STORY OF THE PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH





I

"OH, I LOVE HER! I LOVE HER!"


Tillie's slender little body thrilled with a peculiar ecstasy as
she stepped upon the platform and felt her close proximity to the
teacher--so close that she could catch the sweet, wonderful
fragrance of her clothes and see the heave and fall of her bosom.
Once Tillie's head had rested against that motherly bosom. She had
fainted in school one morning after a day and evening of hard,
hard work in her father's celery-beds, followed by a chastisement
for being caught with a "story-book"; and she had come out of her
faint to find herself in the heaven of sitting on Miss Margaret's
lap, her head against her breast and Miss Margaret's soft hand
smoothing her cheek and hair. And it was in that blissful moment
that Tillie had discovered, for the first time in her young
existence, that life could be worth while. Not within her memory
had any one ever caressed her before, or spoken to her tenderly,
and in that fascinating tone of anxious concern.

Afterward, Tillie often tried to faint again in school; but, such
is Nature's perversity, she never could succeed.

School had just been called after the noon recess, and Miss
Margaret was standing before her desk with a watchful eye on the
troops of children crowding in from the playground to their seats,
when the little girl stepped to her side on the platform.

This country school-house was a dingy little building in the heart
of Lancaster County, the home of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Miss
Margaret had been the teacher only a few months, and having come
from Kentucky and not being "a Millersville Normal," she differed
quite radically from any teacher they had ever had in New Canaan.
Indeed, she was so wholly different from any one Tillie had ever
seen in her life, that to the child's adoring heart she was
nothing less than a miracle. Surely no one but Cinderella had ever
been so beautiful! And how different, too, were her clothes from
those of the other young ladies of New Canaan, and, oh, so much
prettier--though not nearly so fancy; and she didn't "speak her
words" as other people of Tillie's acquaintance spoke. To Tillie
it was celestial music to hear Miss Margaret say, for instance,
"buttah" when she meant butter-r-r, and "windo" for windah. "It
gives her such a nice sound when she talks," thought Tillie.

Sometimes Miss Margaret's ignorance of the dialect of the
neighborhood led to complications, as in her conversation just now
with Tillie.

"Well?" she inquired, lifting the little girl's chin with her
forefinger as Tillie stood at her side and thereby causing that
small worshiper to blush with radiant pleasure. "What is it,
honey?"

Miss Margaret always made Tillie feel that she LIKED her. Tillie
wondered how Miss Margaret could like HER! What was there to like?
No one had ever liked her before.

"It wonders me!" Tillie often whispered to herself with throbbing
heart.

"Please, Miss Margaret," said the child, "pop says to ast you will
you give me the darst to go home till half-past three this after?"

"If you go home till half-past three, you need not come back,
honey--it wouldn't be worth while, when school closes at four."

"But I don't mean," said Tillie, in puzzled surprise, "that I want
to go home and come back. I sayed whether I have the darst to go
home till half-past three. Pop he's went to Lancaster, and he'll
be back till half-past three a'ready, and he says then I got to be
home to help him in the celery-beds."

Miss Margaret held her pretty head on one side, considering, as
she looked down into the little girl's upturned face. "Is this a
conundrum, Tillie? How your father be in Lancaster now and yet be
home until half-past three? It's uncanny. Unless," she added, a
ray of light coming to her,--"unless 'till' means BY. Your father
will be home BY half-past three and wants you then?"

"Yes, ma'am. I can't talk just so right," said Tillie
apologetically, "like what you can. Yes, sometimes I say my we's
like my w's, yet!"

Miss Margaret laughed. "Bless your little heart!" she said,
running her fingers through Tillie's hair. "But you would rather
stay in school until four, wouldn't you, than go home to help your
father in the celery-beds?"

"Oh, yes, ma'am," said Tillie wistfully, "but pop he has to get
them beds through till Saturday market a'ready, and so we got to
get 'em done behind Thursday or Friday yet."

"If I say you can't go home?"

Tillie colored all over her sensitive little face as, instead of
answering, she nervously worked her toe into a crack in the
platform.

"But your father can't blame YOU, honey, if I won't let you go
home."

"He wouldn't stop to ast me was it my fault, Miss Margaret. If I
wasn't there on time, he'd just--"

"All right, dear, you may go at half-past three, then," Miss
Margaret gently said, patting the child's shoulder. "As soon as
you have written your composition."

"Yes, ma'am, Miss Margaret."

It was hard for Tillie, as she sat at her desk that afternoon, to
fix her wandering attention upon the writing of her composition,
so fascinating was it just to revel idly in the sense of the touch
of that loved hand that had stroked her hair, and the tone of that
caressing voice that had called her "honey."

Miss Margaret always said to the composition classes, "Just try to
write simply of what you see or feel, and then you will be sure to
write a good 'composition.'"

Tillie was moved this afternoon to pour out on paper all that she
"felt" about her divinity. But she had some misgivings as to the
fitness of this.

She dwelt upon the thought of it, however, dreamily gazing out of
the window near which she sat, into the blue sky of the October
afternoon--until presently her ear was caught by the sound of Miss
Margaret's voice speaking to Absalom Puntz, who stood at the foot
of the composition class, now before her on the platform.

"You may read your composition, Absalom."

Absalom was one of "the big boys," but though he was sixteen years
old and large for his age, his slowness in learning classed him
with the children of twelve or thirteen. However, as learning was
considered in New Canaan a superfluous and wholly unnecessary
adjunct to the means of living, Absalom's want of agility in
imbibing erudition never troubled him, nor did it in the least
call forth the pity or contempt of his schoolmates.

Three times during the morning session he had raised his hand to
announce stolidly to his long-suffering teacher, "I can't think of
no subjeck"; and at last Miss Margaret had relaxed her Spartan
resolution to make him do his own thinking and had helped him out.

"Write of something that is interesting you just at present. Isn't
there some one thing you care more about than other things?" she
had asked.

Absalom had stared at her blankly without replying.

"Now, Absalom," she had said desperately, "I think I know one
thing you have been interested in lately--write me a composition
on Girls."

Of course the school had greeted the advice with a laugh, and Miss
Margaret had smiled with them, though she had not meant to be
facetious.

Absalom, however, had taken her suggestion seriously.

"Is your composition written, Absalom?" she was asking as Tillie
turned from the window, her contemplation of her own composition
arrested by the sound of the voice which to her was the sweetest
music in the world.

"No'm," sullenly answered Absalom. "I didn't get it through till
it was time a'ready."

"But, Absalom, you've been at it this whole blessed day! You've
not done another thing!"

"I wrote off some of it."

"Well," sighed Miss Margaret, "let us hear what you have done."

Absalom unfolded a sheet of paper and laboriously read:

"GIRLS

"The only thing I took particular notice to, about Girls, is that
they are always picking lint off each other, still."

He stopped and slowly folded his paper.

"But go on," said Miss Margaret. "Read it all.'

"That's all the fu'ther I got."

Miss Margaret looked at him for an instant, then suddenly lifted
the lid of her desk, evidently to search for something. When she
closed it her face was quite grave.

"We'll have the reading-lesson now," she announced.

Tillie tried to withdraw her attention from the teacher and fix it
on her own work, but the gay, glad tone in which Lizzie Harnish
was reading the lines,

     "When thoughts
  Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
  Over thy spirit--"

hopelessly checked the flow of her ideas.

This class was large, and by the time Absalom's turn to read was
reached, "Thanatopsis" had been finished, and so the first stanza
of "The Bells" fell to him. It had transpired in the reading of
"Thanatopsis" that a grave and solemn tone best suited that poem,
and the value of this intelligence was made manifest when, in a
voice of preternatural solemnity, he read:

"What a world of merriment their melody foretells!"

Instantly, when he had finished his "stanza," Lizzie raised her
hand to offer a criticism. "Absalom, he didn't put in no
gestures."

Miss Margaret's predecessor had painstakingly trained his reading-
classes in the Art of Gesticulation in Public Speaking, and Miss
Margaret found the results of his labors so entertaining that she
had never been able to bring herself to suppress the monstrosity.

"I don't like them gestures," sulkily retorted Absalom.

"Never mind the gestures," Miss Margaret consoled him--which
indifference on her part seemed high treason to the well-trained
class.

"I'll hear you read, now, the list of synonyms you found in these
two poems," she added. "Lizzie may read first."

While the class rapidly leafed their readers to find their lists
of synonyms, Miss Margaret looked up and spoke to Tillie,
reminding her gently that that composition would not be written by
half-past three if she did not hasten her work.

Tillie blushed with embarrassment at being caught in an idleness
that had to be reproved, and resolutely bent all her powers to her
task.

She looked about the room for a subject. The walls were adorned
with the print portraits of "great men,"--former State
superintendents of public instruction in Pennsylvania,--and with
highly colored chromo portraits of Washington, Lincoln, Grant, and
Garfield. Then there were a number of framed mottos: "Education
rules in America," "Rely on yourself," "God is our hope," "Dare to
say No," "Knowledge is power," "Education is the chief defense of
nations."

But none of these things made Tillie's genius to burn, and again
her eyes wandered to the window and gazed out into the blue sky;
and after a few moments she suddenly turned to her desk and
rapidly wrote down her "subject"--"Evening."

The mountain of the opening sentence being crossed, the rest went
smoothly enough, for Tillie wrote it from her heart.

"EVENING.

"I love to take my little sisters and brothers and go out, still,
on a hill-top when the sun is setting so red in the West, and the
birds are singing around us, and the cows are coming home to be
milked, and the men are returning from their day's work.

"I would love to play in the evening if I had the dare, when the
children are gay and everything around me is happy.

"I love to see the flowers closing their buds when the shades of
evening are come. The thought has come to me, still, that I hope
the closing of my life may come as quiet and peaceful as the
closing of the flowers in the evening.

"MATILDA MARIA GETZ."

Miss Margaret was just calling for Absalom's synonyms when Tillie
carried her composition to the desk, and Absalom was replying with
his customary half-defiant sullenness.

"My pop he sayed I ain't got need to waste my time gettin' learnt
them cinnamons. Pop he says what's the use learnin' TWO words
where [which] means the selfsame thing--one's enough."

Absalom's father was a school director and Absalom had grown
accustomed, under the rule of Miss Margaret's predecessors, to
feel the force of the fact in their care not to offend him.

"But your father is not the teacher here--I am," she cheerfully
told him. "So you may stay after school and do what I require."

Tillie felt a pang of uneasiness as she went back to her seat.
Absalom's father was very influential and, as all the township
knew, very spiteful. He could send Miss Margaret away, and he
would do it, if she offended his only child, Absalom. Tillie
thought she could not bear it at all if Miss Margaret were sent
away. Poor Miss Margaret did not seem to realize her own danger.
Tillie felt tempted to warn her. It was only this morning that the
teacher had laughed at Absalom when he said that the Declaration
of Independence was "a treaty between the United States and
England,"--and had asked him, "Which country, do you think,
hurrahed the loudest, Absalom, when that treaty was signed?" And
now this afternoon she "as much as said Absalom's father should
mind to his own business!" It was growing serious. There had never
been before a teacher at "William Penn school-house who had not
judiciously "showed partiality" to Absalom.

"And he used to be dummer yet [stupider even] than what he is
now," thought Tillie, remembering vividly a school entertainment
that had been given during her own first year at school, when
Absalom, nine years old, had spoken his first piece. His pious
Methodist grandmother had endeavored to teach him a little hymn to
speak on the great occasion, while his frivolous aunt from the
city of Lancaster had tried at the same time to teach him "Bobby
Shafto." New Canaan audiences were neither discriminating nor
critical, but the assembly before which little Absalom had risen
to "speak his piece off," had found themselves confused when he
told them that

  "On Jordan's bank the Baptist stands,
    Silver buckles on his knee."

Tillie would never forget her own infantine agony of suspense as
she sat, a tiny girl of five, in the audience, listening to
Absalom's mistakes. But Eli Darmstetter, the teacher, had not
scolded him.

Then there was the time that Absalom had forced a fight at recess
and had made little Adam Oberholzer's nose bleed--it was little
Adam (whose father was not at that time a school director) that
had to stay after school; and though every one knew it wasn't
fair, it had been accepted without criticism, because even the
young rising generation of New Canaan understood the impossibility
and folly of quarreling with one's means of earning money.

But Miss Margaret appeared to be perfectly blind to the perils of
her position. Tillie was deeply troubled about it.

At half-past three, when, at a nod from Miss Margaret the little
girl left her desk to go home, a wonderful thing happened--Miss
Margaret gave her a story-book.

"You are so fond of reading, Tillie, I brought you this. You may
take it home, and when you have read it, bring it back to me, and
I'll give you something else to read."

Delighted as Tillie was to have the book for its own sake, it was
yet greater happiness to handle something belonging to Miss
Margaret and to realize that Miss Margaret had thought so much
about her as to bring it to her.

"It's a novel, Tillie. Have you ever read a novel?"

"No'm. Only li-bries."

"What?"

"Sunday-school li-bries. Us we're Evangelicals, and us children we
go to the Sunday-school, and I still bring home li-bry books. Pop
he don't uphold to novel-readin'. I have never saw a novel yet."

"Well, this book won't injure you, Tillie. You must tell me all
about it when you have read it. You will find it so interesting,
I'm afraid you won't be able to study your lessons while you are
reading it."

Outside the school-room, Tillie looked at the title,--Ivanhoe,"--
and turned over the pages in an ecstasy of anticipation.

"Oh! I love her! I love her!" throbbed her little hungry heart.





II

"I'M GOING TO LEARN YOU ONCE!"


Tillie was obliged, when about a half-mile from her father's farm,
to hide her precious book. This she did by pinning her petticoat
into a bag and concealing the book in it. It was in this way that
she always carried home her "li-bries" from Sunday-school, for all
story-book reading was prohibited by her father. It was
uncomfortable walking along the highroad with the book knocking
against her legs at every step, but that was not so painful as her
father's punishment would be did he discover her bringing home a
"novel"! She was not permitted to bring home even a school-book,
and she had greatly astonished Miss Margaret, one day at the
beginning of the term, by asking, "Please, will you leave me let
my books in school? Pop says I darsen't bring 'em home."

"What you can't learn in school, you can do without," Tillie's
father had said. "When you're home you'll work fur your wittles."

Tillie's father was a frugal, honest, hard-working, and very
prosperous Pennsylvania Dutch farmer, who thought he religiously
performed his parental duty in bringing up his many children in
the fear of his heavy hand, in unceasing labor, and in almost
total abstinence from all amusement and self-indulgence. Far from
thinking himself cruel, he was convinced that the oftener and the
more vigorously he applied "the strap," the more conscientious a
parent was he.

His wife, Tillie's stepmother, was as submissive to his authority
as were her five children and Tillie. Apathetic, anemic,
overworked, she yet never dreamed of considering herself or her
children abused, accepting her lot as the natural one of woman,
who was created to be a child-bearer, and to keep man well fed and
comfortable. The only variation from the deadly monotony of her
mechanical and unceasing labor was found in her habit of
irritability with her stepchild. She considered Tillie "a dopple"
(a stupid, awkward person); for though usually a wonderful little
household worker, Tillie, when very much tired out, was apt to
drop dishes; and absent-mindedly she would put her sunbonnet
instead of the bread into the oven, or pour molasses instead of
batter on the griddle. Such misdemeanors were always plaintively
reported by Mrs. Getz to Tillie's father, who, without fail,
conscientiously applied what he considered the undoubted cure.

In practising the strenuous economy prescribed by her husband,
Mrs. Getz had to manoeuver very skilfully to keep her children
decently clothed, and Tillie in this matter was a great help to
her; for the little girl possessed a precocious skill in combining
a pile of patches into a passably decent dress or coat for one of
her little brothers or sisters. Nevertheless, it was invariably
Tillie who was slighted in the small expenditures that were made
each year for the family clothing. The child had always really
preferred that the others should have "new things" rather than
herself--until Miss Margaret came; and now, before Miss Margaret's
daintiness, she felt ashamed of her own shabby appearance and
longed unspeakably for fresh, pretty clothes. Tillie knew
perfectly well that her father had plenty of money to buy them for
her if he would. But she never thought of asking him or her
stepmother for anything more than what they saw fit to give her.

The Getz family was a perfectly familiar type among the German
farming class of southeastern Pennsylvania. Jacob Getz, though
spoken of in tha neighborhood as being "wonderful near," which
means very penurious, and considered by the more gentle-minded
Amish and Mennonites of the township to be "overly strict" with
his family and "too ready with the strap still," was nevertheless
highly respected as one who worked hard and was prosperous, lived
economically, honestly, and in the fear of the Lord, and was
"laying by."

The Getz farm was typical of the better sort to be found in that
county. A neat walk, bordered by clam shells, led from a wooden
gate to the porch of a rather large, and severely plain frame
house, facing the road. Every shutter on the front and sides of
the building was tightly closed, and there was no sign of life
about the place. A stranger, ignorant of the Pennsylvania Dutch
custom of living in the kitchen and shutting off the "best
rooms,"--to be used in their mustiness and stiff unhomelikeness on
Sunday only,--would have thought the house temporarily empty. It
was forbiddingly and uncompromisingly spick-and-span.

A grass-plot, ornamented with a circular flower-bed, extended a
short distance on either side of the house. But not too much land
was put to such unproductive use; and the small lawn was closely
bordered by a corn-field on the one side and on the other by an
apple orchard. Beyond stretched the tobacco--and wheat-fields, and
behind the house were the vegetable garden and the barn-yard.

Arrived at home by half-past three, Tillie hid her "Ivanhoe" under
the pillow of her bed when she went up-stairs to change her faded
calico school dress for the yet older garment she wore at her
work.

If she had not been obliged to change her dress, she would have
been puzzled to know how to hide her book, for she could not,
without creating suspicion, have gone up-stairs in the daytime. In
New Canaan one never went up-stairs during the day, except at the
rare times when obliged to change one's clothes. Every one washed
at the pump and used the one family roller-towel hanging on the
porch. Miss Margaret, ever since her arrival in the neighborhood,
had been the subject of wide-spread remark and even suspicion,
because she "washed up-stairs" and even sat up-stairs!--in her
bedroom! It was an unheard-of proceeding in New Canaan.

Tillie helped her father in the celery-beds until dark; then,
weary, but excited at the prospect of her book, she went in from
the fields and up-stairs to the little low-roofed bed-chamber
which she shared with her two half-sisters. They were already in
bed and asleep, as was their mother in the room across the hall,
for every one went to bed at sundown in Canaan Township, and got
up at sunrise.

Tillie was in bed in a few minutes, rejoicing in the feeling of
the book under her pillow. Not yet dared she venture to light a
candle and read it--not until she should hear her father's heavy
snoring in the room across the hall.

The candles which she used for this surreptitious reading of
Sunday-school "li-bries" and any other chance literature which
fell in her way, were procured with money paid to her by Miss
Margaret for helping her to clean the school-room on Friday
afternoons after school. Tillie would have been happy to help her
for the mere joy of being with her, but Miss Margaret insisted
upon paying her ten cents for each such service.

The little girl was obliged to resort to a deep-laid plot in order
to do this work for the teacher. It had been her father's custom--
ever since, at the age of five, she had begun to go to school--to
"time" her in coming home at noon and afternoon, and whenever she
was not there on the minute, to mete out to her a dose of his
ever-present strap.

"I ain't havin' no playin' on the way home, still! When school is
done, you come right away home then, to help me or your mom, or I
'll learn you once!"

But it happened that Miss Margaret, in her reign at "William Perm"
school-house, had introduced the innovation of closing school on
Friday afternoons at half-past three instead of four, and Tillie,
with bribes of candy bought with part of her weekly wage of ten
cents, secured secrecy as to this innovation from her little
sister and brother who went to school with her--making them play
in the school-grounds until she was ready to go home with them.

Before Miss Margaret had come to New Canaan, Tillie had done her
midnight reading by the light of the kerosene lamp which, after
every one was asleep, she would bring up from the kitchen to her
bedside. But this was dangerous, as it often led to awkward
inquiries as to the speedy consumption of the oil. Candles were
safer. Tillie kept them and a box of matches hidden under the
mattress.

It was eleven o'clock when at last the child, trembling with
mingled delight and apprehension, rose from her bed, softly closed
her bedroom door, and with extremely judicious carefulness lighted
her candle, propped up her pillow, and settled down to read as
long as she should be able to hold her eyes open. The little
sister at her side and the one in the bed at the other side of the
room slept too soundly to be disturbed by the faint flickering
light of that one candle.

To-night her stolen pleasure proved more than usually engrossing.
At first the book was interesting principally because of the fact,
so vividly present with her, that Miss Margaret's eyes and mind
had moved over every word and thought which, she was now
absorbing. But soon her intense interest in the story excluded
every other idea--even the fear of discovery. Her young spirit was
"out of the body" and following, as in a trance, this tale, the
like of which she had never before read.

The clock down-stairs in the kitchen struck twelve--one--two, but
Tillie never heard it. At half-past two o'clock in the morning,
when the tallow candle was beginning to sputter to its end, she
still was reading, her eyes bright as stars, her usually pale face
flushed with excitement, her sensitive lips parted in breathless
interest--when, suddenly, a stinging blow of "the strap" on her
shoulders brought from her a cry of pain and fright.

"What you mean, doin' somepin like, this yet!" sternly demanded
her father. "What fur book's that there?"

He took the book from her hands and Tillie cowered beneath the
covers, the wish flashing through her mind that the book could
change into a Bible as he looked at it!--which miracle would
surely temper the punishment that in a moment she knew would be
meted out to her.

"'Iwanhoe'--a novel! A NOVEL!" he said in genuine horror. "Tillie,
where d'you get this here!"

Tillie knew that if she told lies she would go to hell, but she
preferred to burn in torment forever rather than betray Miss
Margaret; for her father, like Absalom's, was a school director,
and if he knew Miss Margaret read novels and lent them to the
children, he would surely force her out of "William Penn."

"I lent it off of Elviny Dinkleberger!" she sobbed.

"You know I tole you a'ready you darsen't bring books home! And
you know I don't uphold to novel-readin'! I 'll have to learn you
to mind better 'n this! "Where d' you get that there candle?"

"I--bought it, pop."

"Bought? Where d'you get the money!"

Tillie did not like the lies she had to tell, but she knew she had
already perjured her soul beyond redemption and one lie more or
less could not make matters worse.

"I found it in the road."

"How much did you find?"

"Fi' cents."

"You hadn't ought to spent it without astin' me dare you. Now I'm
goin' to learn you once! Set up."

Tillie obeyed, and the strap fell across her shoulders. Her
outcries awakened the household and started the youngest little
sister, in her fright and sympathy with Tillie, to a high-pitched
wailing. The rest of them took the incident phlegmatically, the
only novelty about it being the strange hour of its happening.

But the hardest part of her punishment was to follow.

"Now this here book goes in the fire!" her father announced when
at last his hand was stayed. "And any more that comes home goes
after it in the stove, I'll see if you 'll mind your pop or not!"

Left alone in her bed, her body quivering, her little soul hot
with shame and hatred, the child stifled her sobs in her pillow,
her whole heart one bleeding wound.

How could she ever tell Miss Margaret? Surely she would never like
her any more!--never again lay her hand on her hair, or praise her
compositions, or call her "honey," or, even, perhaps, allow her to
help her on Fridays!--and what, then, would be the use of living?
If only she could die and be dead like a cat or a bird and not go
to hell, she would take the carving-knife and kill herself! But
there was hell to be taken into consideration. And yet, could hell
hold anything worse than the loss of Miss Margaret's kindness? HOW
could she tell her of that burned-up book and endure to see her
look at her with cold disapproval? Oh, to make such return for her
kindness, when she so longed with all her soul to show her how
much she loved her!

For the first time in all her school-days, Tillie went next
morning with reluctance to school.





III

"WHAT'S HURTIN' YOU, TILLIE?"


She meant to make her confession as soon as she reached the
school-house--and have it over--but Miss Margaret was busy writing
on the blackboard, and Tillie felt an immense relief at the
necessary postponement of her ordeal to recess time.

The hours of that morning were very long to her heavy heart, and
the minutes dragged to the time of her doom--for nothing but
blackness lay beyond the point of the acknowledgment which must
turn her teacher's fondness to dislike.

She saw Miss Margaret's eyes upon her several times during the
morning, with that look of anxious concern which had so often fed
her starved affections. Yes, Miss Margaret evidently could see
that she was in trouble and she was feeling sorry for her. But,
alas, when she should learn the cause of her misery, how surely
would that look turn to coldness and displeasure!

Tillie felt that she was ill preparing the way for her dread
confession in the very bad recitations she made all morning. She
failed in geography--every question that came to her; she failed
to understand Miss Margaret's explanation of compound interest,
though the explanation was gone over a third time for her especial
benefit; she missed five words in spelling and two questions in
United States history!

"Tillie, Tillie!" Miss Margaret solemnly shook her head, as she
closed her book at the end of the last recitation before recess.
"Too much 'Ivanhoe,' I'm afraid! Well, it's my fault, isn't it?"

The little girl's blue eyes gazed up at her with a look of such
anguish, that impulsively Miss Margaret drew her to her side, as
the rest of the class moved away to their seats.

"What's the matter, dear?" she asked. "Aren't you well? You look
pale and ill! What is it, Tillie?"

Tillie's overwrought heart could bear no more. Her head fell on
Miss Margaret's shoulder as she broke into wildest crying. Her
body quivered with her gasping sobs and her little hands clutched
convulsively at Miss Margaret's gown.

"You poor little thing!" whispered Miss Margaret, her arms about
the child; "WHAT'S the matter with you, honey? There, there, don't
cry so--tell me what's the matter."

It was such bliss to be petted like this--to feel Miss Margaret's
arms about her and hear that loved voice so close to her!--for the
last time! Never again after this moment would she be liked and
caressed! Her heart was breaking and she could not answer for her
sobbing.

"Tillie, dear, sit down here in my chair until I send the other
children out to recess--and then you and I can have a talk by
ourselves, "Miss Margaret said, leading the child a step to her
arm-chair on the platform. She stood beside the chair, holding
Tillie's throbbing head to her side, while she tapped the bell
which dismissed the children.

"Now," she said, when the door had closed on the last of them and
she had seated herself and drawn Tillie to her again, "tell me
what you are crying for, little girlie."

"Miss Margaret!" Tillie's words came in hysterical, choking gasps;
"you won't never like me no more when I tell you what's happened,
Miss Margaret!"

"Why, dear me, Tillie, what on earth is it?"

"I didn't mean to do it, Miss Margaret! And I'll redd up for you,
Fridays, still, till it's paid for a'ready, Miss Margaret, if
you'll leave me, won't you, please? Oh, won't you never like me no
more?"

"My dear little goosie, what IS the matter with you? Come," she
said, taking the little girl's hand reassuringly in both her own,
"tell me, child."

A certain note of firmness in her usually drawling Southern voice
checked a little the child's hysterical emotion. She gulped the
choking lump in her throat and answered.

"I was readin' 'Ivanhoe' in bed last night, and pop woke up, and
seen my candle-light, and he conceited he'd look once and see what
it was, and then he seen me, and he don't uphold to novel-readin',
and he--he--"

"Well?" Miss Margaret gently urged her faltering speech.

"He whipped me and--and burnt up your Book!"

"Whipped you again!" Miss Margaret's soft voice indignantly
exclaimed. "The br--" she checked herself and virtuously closed
her lips. "I'm so sorry, Tillie, that I got you into such a
scrape!"

Tillie thought Miss Margaret could not have heard her clearly.

"He--burnt up your book yet, Miss Margaret!" she found voice to
whisper again.

"Indeed! I ought to make him pay for it!"

"He didn't know it was yourn, Miss Margaret--he don't uphold to
novel-readin', and if he'd know it was yourn he'd have you put out
of William Penn, so I tole him I lent it off of Elviny
Dinkleberger--and I'll help you Fridays till it's paid for
a'ready, if you'll leave me, Miss Margaret!"

She lifted pleading eyes to the teacher's face, to see therein a
look of anger such as she had never before beheld in that gentle
countenance--for Miss Margaret had caught sight of the marks of
the strap on Tillie's bare neck, and she was flushed with
indignation at the outrage. But Tillie, interpreting the anger to
be against herself, turned as white as death, and a look of such
hopeless woe came into her face that Miss Margaret suddenly
realized the dread apprehension torturing the child.

"Come here to me, you poor little thing!" she tenderly exclaimed,
drawing the little girl into her lap and folding her to her heart.
"I don't care anything about the BOOK, honey! Did you think I
would? There, there--don't cry so, Tillie, don't cry. _I_ love
you, don't you know I do!"--and Miss Margaret kissed the child's
quivering lips, and with her own fragrant handkerchief wiped the
tears from her cheeks, and with her soft, cool fingers smoothed
back the hair from her hot forehead.

And this child, who had never known the touch of a mother's hand
and lips, was transported in that moment from the suffering of the
past night and morning, to a happiness that made this hour stand
out to her, in all the years that followed, as the one supreme
experience of her childhood.

Ineffable tenderness of the mother heart of woman!

That afternoon, when Tillie got home from school,--ten minutes
late according to the time allowed her by her father,--she was
quite unable to go out to help him in the field. Every step of the
road home had been a dragging burden to her aching limbs, and the
moment she reached the farm-house, she tumbled in a little heap
upon the kitchen settee and lay there, exhausted and white, her
eyes shining with fever, her mouth parched with thirst, her head
throbbing with pain--feeling utterly indifferent to the
consequences of her tardiness and her failure to meet her father
in the field.

"Ain't you feelin' good?" her stepmother phlegmatically inquired
from across the room, where she sat with a dish-pan in her lap,
paring potatoes for supper.

"No, ma'am," weakly answered Tillie.

"Pop 'll be looking fur you out in the field."

Tillie wearily closed her eyes and did not answer.

Mrs. Getz looked up from her pan and let her glance rest for an
instant upon the child's white, pained face. "Are you feelin' too
mean to go help pop?"

"Yes, ma'am. I--can't!" gasped Tillie, with a little sob.

"You ain't lookin' good," the woman reluctantly conceded. "Well,
I'll leave you lay a while. Mebbe pop used the strap too hard last
night. He sayed this dinner that he was some uneasy that he used
the strap so hard--but he was that wonderful spited to think you'd
set up readin' a novel-book in the night-time yet! You might of
knew you'd ketch an awful lickin' fur doin' such a dumm thing like
what that was. Sammy!" she called to her little eight-year-old
son, who was playing on the kitchen porch, "you go out and tell
pop Tillie she's got sick fur me, and I'm leavin' her lay a while.
Now hurry on, or he'll come in here to see, once, ain't she home
yet, or what. Go on now!"

Sammy departed on his errand, and Mrs. Getz diligently resumed her
potato-paring.

"I don't know what pop'll say to you not comin' out to help," she
presently remarked.

Tillie's head moved restlessly, but she did not speak. She was
past caring what her father might say or do.

Mrs. Getz thoughtfully considered a doubtful potato, and,
concluding at length to discard it, "I guess," she said, throwing
it back into the pan, "I'll let that one; it's some poor. Do you
feel fur eatin' any supper?" she asked. "I'm havin' fried smashed-
potatoes and wieners [Frankfort sausages]. Some days I just don't
know what to cook all."

Tillie's lips moved, but gave no sound.

"I guess you're right down sick fur all; ain't? I wonder if pop'll
have Doc in. He won't want to spend any fur that. But you do look
wonderful bad. It's awful onhandy comin' just to-day. I did feel
fur sayin' to pop I'd go to the rewiwal to-night, of he didn't
mind. It's a while back a'ready since I was to a meetin'--not even
on a funeral. And they say they do now make awful funny up at
Bethel rewiwal this week. I was thinkin' I'd go once. But if you
can't redd up after supper and help milk and put the childern to
bed, I can't go fur all."

No response from Tillie.

Mrs. Getz sighed her disappointment as she went on with her work.
Presently she spoke again. "This after, a lady agent come along.
She had such a complexion lotion. She talked near a half-hour. She
was, now, a beautiful conversationist! I just set and listened.
Then she was some spited that I wouldn't buy a box of complexion
lotion off of her. But she certainly was, now, a beautiful
conversationist!"

The advent of an agent in the neighborhood was always a noteworthy
event, and Tillie's utterly indifferent reception of the news that
to-day one had "been along" made Mrs. Getz look at her
wonderingly.

"Are you too sick to take interest?" she asked.

The child made no answer. The woman rose to put her potatoes on
the stove.

It was an hour later when, as Tillie still lay motionless on the
settee, and Mrs. Getz was dishing up the supper and putting it on
the table, which stood near the wall at one end of the kitchen,
Mr. Getz came in, tired, dirty, and hungry, from the celery-beds.

The child opened her eyes at the familiar and often dreaded step,
and looked up at him as he came and stood over her.

"What's the matter? What's hurtin' you, Tillie?" he asked, an
unwonted kindness in his voice as he saw how ill the little girl
looked.

"I don'--know," Tillie whispered, her heavy eyelids falling again.

"You don' know! You can't be so worse if you don' know what's
hurtin' you! Have you fever, or the headache, or whatever?"

He laid his rough hand on her forehead and passed it over her
cheek.

"She's some feverish," he said, turning to his wife, who was busy
at the stove. "Full much so!"

"She had the cold a little, and I guess she's took more to it,"
Mrs. Getz returned, bearing the fried potatoes across the kitchen
to the table.

"I heard the Doc talkin' there's smallpox handy to us, only a mile
away at New Canaan," said Getz, a note of anxiety in his voice
that made the sick child wearily marvel. Why was he anxious about
her? she wondered. It wasn't because he liked her, as Miss
Margaret did. He was afraid of catching smallpox himself, perhaps.
Or he was afraid she would be unable to help him to-morrow, and
maybe for many days, out in the celery-beds. That was why he spoke
anxiously--not because he liked her and was sorry.

No bitterness was mingled with Tillie's quite matter-of-fact
acceptance of these conclusions.

"It would be a good much trouble to us if she was took down with
the smallpox," Mrs. Getz's tired voice replied.

"I guess not as much as it would be to HER," the father said, a
rough tenderness in his voice, and something else which Tillie
vaguely felt to be a note of pain.

"Are you havin' the Doc in fur her, then?" his wife asked.

"I guess I better, mebbe," the man hesitated. His thrifty mind
shrank at the thought of the expense.

He turned again to Tillie and bent over her.

"Can't you tell pop what's hurtin' you, Tillie?"

"No--sir."

Mr. Getz looked doubtfully and rather helplessly at his wife.
"It's a bad sign, ain't, when they can't tell what's hurtin'"em?"

"I don't know what fur sign that is when they don't feel nothin',"
she stoically answered, as she dished up her Frankfort sausages.

"If a person would just know oncet!" he exclaimed anxiously.
"Anyhow, she's pretty much sick--she looks it so! I guess I better
mebbe not take no risks. I'll send fur Doc over. Sammy can go,
then."

"All right. Supper's ready now. You can come eat."

She went to the door to call the children in front the porch and
the lawn; and Mr. Getz again bent over the child.

"Can you eat along, Tillie?"

Tillie weakly shook her head.

"Don't you feel fur your wittles?"

"No--sir."

"Well, well. I'll send fur the Doc, then, and he can mebbe give
you some pills, or what, to make you feel some better; ain't?" he
said, again passing his rough hand over her forehead and cheek,
with a touch as nearly like a caress as anything Tillie had ever
known from him. The tears welled up in her eyes and slowly rolled
over her white face, as she felt this unwonted expression of
affection.

Her father turned away quickly and went to the table, about which
the children were gathering.

"Where's Sammy?" he asked his wife. "I'm sendin' him fur the Doc
after supper."

"Where? I guess over," she motioned with her head as she lifted
the youngest, a one-year-old boy, into his high chair. "Over" was
the family designation for the pump, at which every child of a
suitable age was required to wash his face and hands before coming
to the table.

While waiting for the arrival of the doctor, after supper, Getz
ineffectually tried to force Tillie to eat something. In his
genuine anxiety about her and his eagerness for "the Doc's"
arrival, he quite forgot about the fee which would have to be paid
for the visit.





IV

"THE DOC" COMBINES BUSINESS AND PLEASUBE


Miss Margaret boarded at the "hotel" of New Canaan. As the only
other regular boarder was the middle-aged, rugged, unkempt little
man known as "the Doc," and as the transient guests were very few
and far between, Miss Margaret shared the life of the hotel-
keeper's family on an intimate and familiar footing.

The invincible custom of New Canaan of using a bedroom only at
night made her unheard-of inclination to sit in her room during
the day or before bedtime the subject of so much comment and
wonder that, feeling it best to yield to the prejudice, she
usually read, sewed, or wrote letters in the kitchen, or, when a
fire was lighted, in the combination dining-room and sitting-room.

It was the evening of the day of Tillie's confession about
"Ivanhoe," and Miss Margaret, after the early supper-hour of the
country hotel, had gone to the sitting-room, removed the chenille
cover from the centre-table, uncorked the bottle of fluid sold at
the village store as ink, but looking more like raspberryade, and
settled herself to write, to one deeply interested in everything
which interested her, an account of her day and its episode with
the little daughter of Jacob Getz.

This room in which she sat, like all other rooms of the district,
was too primly neat to be cozy or comfortable. It contained a
bright new rag carpet, a luridly painted wooden settee, a sewing-
machine, and several uninviting wooden chairs. Margaret often
yearned to pull the pieces of furniture out from their stiff,
sentinel-like stations against the wall and give to the room that
divine touch of homeyness which it lacked. But she did not dare
venture upon such a liberty.

Very quickly absorbed in her letter-writing, she did not notice
the heavy footsteps which presently sounded across the floor and
paused at her chair.

"Now that there writin'--" said a gruff voice at her shoulder;
and, startled, she quickly turned in her chair, to find the other
boarder, "the Doc," leaning on the back of it, his shaggy head
almost on a level with her fair one.

"That there writin'," pursued the doctor, continuing to hold his
fat head in unabashed proximity to her own and to her letter, "is
wonderful easy to read. Wonderful easy."

Miss Margaret promptly covered her letter with a blotter, corked
the raspberry-ade, and rose.

"Done a'ready?" asked the doctor.

"For the present, yes."

"See here oncet, Teacher!"

He suddenly fixed her with his small, keen eyes as he drew from
the pocket of his shabby, dusty coat a long, legal-looking paper.

"I have here," he said impressively, "an important dokiment,
Teacher, concerning of which I desire to consult you
perfessionally."

"Yes?"

"You just stay settin'; I'll fetch a chair and set aside of you
and show it to you oncet."

He drew a chair up to the table and Margaret reluctantly sat down,
feeling annoyed and disappointed at this interruption of her
letter, yet unwilling, in the goodness of her heart, to snub the
little man.

The doctor bent near to her and spoke confidentially.

"You see, them swanged fools in the legislature has went to work
and passed a act--ag'in' my protest, mind you--compellin' doctors
to fill out blanks answerin' to a lot of darn-fool questions 'bout
one thing and 'nother, like this here."

He had spread open on the table the paper he had drawn from his
pocket. It was soiled from contact with his coat and his hands,
and Margaret, instead of touching the sheet, pressed it down with
the handle of her pen.

The doctor noticed the act and laughed. "You're wonderful easy
kreistled [disgusted]; ain't? I took notice a'ready how when
things is some dirty they kreistle you, still. But indeed,
Teacher," he gravely added, "it ain't healthy to wash so much and
keep so clean as what you do. It's weakenin'. That's why city
folks ain't so hearty--they get right into them big, long tubs
they have built in their houses up-stairs! I seen one oncet in at
Doc Hess's in Lancaster. I says to him when I seen it, 'You
wouldn't get me into THAT--it's too much like a coffin!' I says.
'It would make a body creepy to get in there.' And he says, 'I'd
feel creepy if I DIDN'T get in.' 'Yes,' I says,'that's why you're
so thin. You wash yourself away,' I says."

"What's it all about?" Miss Margaret abruptly asked, examining the
paper.

"These here's the questions," answered the doctor, tracing them
with his thick, dirty forefinger; "and these here's the blank
spaces fur to write the answers into. Now you can write better 'n
me, Teacher; and if you'll just take and write in the answers fur
me, why, I'll do a favor fur you some time if ever you ast it off
of me. And if ever you need a doctor, just you call on me, and I'm
swanged if I charge you a cent!"

Among the simple population of New Canaan the Doc was considered
the most blasphemous man in America, but there seemed to be a sort
of general impression in the village that his profanity was, in
some way, an eccentricity of genius.

"Thank you," Miss Margaret responded to his offer of free medical
services. "I'll fill out the paper for you with pleasure."

She read aloud the first question of the list. '"Where did you
attend lectures?'"

Her pen suspended over the paper, she looked at him inquiringly.
"Well?" she asked.

"Lekshures be blowed!" he exclaimed. "I ain't never 'tended no
lekshures!"

"Oh!" said Miss Margaret, nodding conclusively. "Well, then, let
us pass on to the next question. 'To what School of Medicine do
you belong?'"

"School?" repeated the doctor; "I went to school right here in
this here town--it's better 'n thirty years ago, a'ready."

"No," Miss Margaret explained, "that's not the question. 'To what
School of MEDICINE do you belong?' Medicine, you know," she
repeated, as though talking to a deaf person.

"Oh," said the doctor, "medicine, is it? I never have went to
none," he announced defiantly. "I studied medicine in old Doctor
Johnson's office and learnt it by practisin' it. That there's the
only way to learn any business. Do you suppose you could learn a
boy carpenterin' by settin' him down to read books on sawin'
boards and a-lekshurin' him on drivin' nails? No more can you make
a doctor in no such swanged-fool way like that there!"

"But," said Margaret, "the question means do you practise
allopathy, homeopathy, hydropathy, osteopathy,--or, for instance,
eclecticism? Are you, for example, a homeopathist?"

"Gosh!" said the doctor, looking at her admiringly, "I'm blamed if
you don't know more big words than I ever seen in a spellin'-book
or heard at a spellin'-bee! Home-o-pathy? No, sir! When I give a
dose to a patient, still, he 'most always generally finds it out,
and pretty gosh-hang quick too! When he gits a dose of my herb
bitters he knows it good enough. Be sure, I don't give babies, and
so forth, doses like them. All such I treat, still, according to
home-o-pathy, and not like that swanged fool, Doc Hess, which only
last week he give a baby a dose fitten only fur a field-hand--and
HE went to college!--Oh, yes!--and heerd lekshures too! Natural
consequence, the baby up't and died fur 'em. But growed folks they
need allopathy."

"Then," said Margaret, "you might be called an eclectic?"

"A eclectic?" the doctor inquiringly repeated, rubbing his nose.
"To be sure, I know in a general way what a eclectic IS, and so
forth. But what would YOU mean, anyhow, by a eclectic doctor, so
to speak, heh?"

"An eclectic," Margaret explained, "is one who claims to adopt
whatever is good and reject whatever is bad in every system or
school of medicine."

"If that ain't a description of me yet!" exclaimed the doctor,
delighted. "Write 'em down, Teacher! I'm a--now what d'you call
'em?"

"You certainly are a what-do-you-call-'em!" thought Margaret--but
she gravely repeated, "An eclectic," and wrote the name in the
blank space.

"And here I've been practism' that there style of medicine fur
fifteen years without oncet suspicioning it! That is," he quickly
corrected himself, in some confusion, "I haven't, so to speak,
called it pretty often a eclectic, you see, gosh hang it! and--YOU
understand, don't you, Teacher?"

Margaret understood very well indeed, but she put the question by.

The rest of the blank was filled with less difficulty, and in a
few minutes the paper was folded and returned to the doctor's
pocket.

"I'm much obliged to you, Teacher," he said heartily. "And mind,
now," he added, leaning far back in his chair, crossing his legs,
thrusting his thumbs into his vest pockets, and letting his eyes
rest upon her, "if ever you want a doctor, I ain't chargin' you
nothin'; and leave me tell you somethin'," he said, emphasizing
each word by a shake of his forefinger, "Jake Getz and Nathaniel
Puntz they're the two school directors that 'most always makes
trouble fur the teacher. And I pass you my word that if they get
down on you any, and want to chase you off your job, I'm standin'
by you--I pass you my word!"

"Thank you. But what would they get down on me for?"

"Well, if Jake Getz saw you standin' up for his ehildern against
his lickin' 'em or makin' 'em work hard; or if you wanted to make
'em take time to learn their books at home when he wants 'em to
work--or some such--he'd get awful down on you. And Nathaniel
Puntz he 's just the conTRARY--he wants his n' spoiled--he's got
but the one."

Miss Margaret recalled with a little thrill the loyalty with which
Tillie had tried to save her from her father's anger by telling
him that Elviny Dinkleberger had lent her "Ivanhoe." "I suppose I
had a narrow escape there," she thought. "Poor little Tillie! She
is so conscientious--I can fancy what that lie cost her!"

Gathering up her stationery, she made a movement to rise--but the
doctor checked her with a question.

"Say! Not that I want to ast questions too close--but what was you
writin', now, in that letter of yourn, about Jake Getz?"

Miss Margaret was scarcely prepared for the question. She stared
at the man for an instant, then helplessly laughed at him.

"Well," he said apologetically, "I don't mean to be inquisitive
that way--but sometimes I speak unpolite too--fur all I've saw
high society a'ready!" he added, on the defensive. "Why, here one
time I went in to Lancaster City to see Doc Hess, and he wouldn't
have it no other way but I should stay and eat along. 'Och,' I
says, 'I don't want to, I'm so common that way, and I know yous
are tony and it don't do. I'll just pick a piece [have luncheon]
at the tavern,' I says. But no, he says I was to come eat along.
So then I did. And his missus she was wonderful fashionable, but
she acted just that nice and common with me as my own mother or my
wife yet. And that was the first time I have eat what the noos-
papers calls a course dinner. They was three courses. First they
was soup and nothin' else settin' on the table, and then a colored
young lady come in with such a silver pan and such a flat, wide
knife, and she scraped the crumbs off between every one of them
three courses. I felt awful funny. I tell you they was tony. I
sayed to the missus, 'I hadn't ought to of came here. I'm not
grand enough like yous'; but she sayed, 'It's nothing of the kind,
and you're always welcome.' Yes, she made herself that nice and
common!" concluded the doctor." So you see I have saw high
society."

"Yes," Miss Margaret assented.

"Say!" he suddenly put another question to her. "Why don't you get
married?"

"Well," she parried, "why don't YOU?"

"I was married a'ready. My wife she died fur me. She was layin'
three months. She got so sore layin'. It was when we was stoppin'
over in Chicago yet. That's out in Illinois. Then, when she died,
--och," he said despondently, "there fur a while I didn't take no
interest in nothin' no more. When your wife dies, you don't feel
fur nothin'. Yes, yes," he sighed, "people have often troubles!
Oh," he granted, "I went to see other women since. But," shaking
his head in discouragement, "it didn't go. I think I'm better off
if I stay single. Yes, I stay single yet. Well," he reconsidered
the question, his head on one side as he examined the fair lady
before him, "if I could get one to suit me oncet."

Miss Margaret grew alarmed. But the doctor complacently continued,
"When my wife died fur me I moved fu'ther west, and I got out as
fur as Utah yet. That's where they have more 'n one wife. I
thought, now, that there was a poor practice! One woman would do
ME. Say!" he again fixed her with his eye.

"What?"

"Do you like your job?"

"Well," she tentatively answered, "it's not uninteresting."

"Would you ruther keep your job than quit and get married?"

"That depends--"

"Or," quickly added the doctor, "you might jus keep on teachin'
the school after you was married, if you married some one livin'
right here. Ain't? And if you kep' on the right side of the School
Board. Unlest you'd ruther marry a town fellah and give up your
job out here. Some thinks the women out here has to work too hard;
but if they married a man where [who] was well fixed," he said,
insinuatingly, "he could hire fur 'em [keep a servant]. Now,
there's me. I'm well fixed. I got money plenty."

"You are very fortunate," said Miss Margaret, sympathetically.

"Yes, ain't? And I ain't got no one dependent on me, neither. No
brothers, no sisters, no--wife--" he looked at her with an
ingratiating smile. "Some says I'm better off that way, but
sometimes I think different. Sometimes I think I'd like a wife
oncet."

"Yes?" said Miss Margaret.

"Um--m," nodded the doctor. "Yes, and I'm pretty well fixed. I
wasn't always so comfortable off. It went a long while till I got
to doin' pretty good, and sometimes I got tired waitin' fur my
luck to come. It made me ugly dispositioned, my bad luck did.
That's how I got in the way of addicting to profane language. I
sayed, still, I wisht, now, the good Lord would try posperity on
me fur a while--fur adwersity certainly ain't makin' me a child of
Gawd, I sayed. But now," he added, rubbing his knees with
satisfaction," I'm fixed nice. Besides my doctor's fees, I got ten
acres, and three good hommies that'll be cows till a little while
yet. And that there organ in the front room is my property. Bought
it fifteen years ago on the instalment plan. I leave missus keep
it settin' in her parlor fur style that way. Do you play the
organ?"

"I CAN," was Miss Margaret's qualified answer.

"I always liked music--high-class music--like 'Pinnyfore.' That's
a nopery I heard in Lancaster there one time at the rooft-garden.
That was high-toned music, you bet. No trash about that. Gimme
somepin nice and ketchy. That's what I like. If it ain't ketchy, I
don't take to it. And so," he added admiringly, "you can play the
organ too!"

"That's one of my distinguished accomplishments," said Miss
Margaret,

"Well, say!" The doctor leaned forward and took her into his
confidence. "I don't mind if my wife is smart, so long as she
don't bother ME any!"

With this telling climax, the significance of which Miss Margaret
could hardly mistake, the doctor fell back again in his chair, and
regarded with complacency the comely young woman before him.

But before she could collect her shocked wits to reply, the
entrance of Jake Getz's son, Sammy, interrupted them. He had come
into the house at the kitchen door, and, having announced the
object of his errand to the landlady, who, by the way, was his
father's sister, he was followed into the sitting-room by a
procession, consisting of his aunt, her husband, and their two
little daughters.

Sammy was able to satisfy but meagerly the eager curiosity or
interest of the household as to Tillie's illness, and his aunt,
cousins, and uncle presently returned to their work in the kitchen
or out of doors, while the doctor rose reluctantly to go to the
stables to hitch up.

"Pop says to say you should hurry," said Sammy.

"There's time plenty," petulantly answered the doctor. "I
conceited I'd stay settin' with you this evening," he said
regretfully to Miss Margaret. "But a doctor can't never make no
plans to stay no-wheres! Well!" he sighed, "I'll go round back now
and hitch a while."

"Sammy," said Miss Margaret, when she found herself alone with the
child, "wasn't your mother afraid YOU would get ill, coming over
here, on such a cool evening, barefooted?" "Och, no; she leaves me
let my shoes off near till it snows already. The teacher we had
last year he used to do worse 'n that yet!--HE'D WASH HIS FEET IN
THE WINTER-TIME!" said Sammy, in the tone of one relating a deed
of valor. "I heard Aunty Em speak how he washed 'em as much as
oncet a week, still, IN WINTER! The Doc he sayed no wonder that
feller took cold!"

Miss Margaret gazed at the child with a feeling of fascination.
"But, Sammy," she said wonderingly, "your front porches get a
weekly bath in winter--do the people of New Canaan wash their
porches oftener than they wash themselves?"

"Porches gets dirty," reasoned Sammy. "Folks don't get dirty in
winter-time. Summer's the time they get dirty, and then they mebbe
wash in the run."

"Oh!" said Miss Margaret.

During the six weeks of her life in Canaan, she had never once
seen in this or any other household the least sign of any toilet
appointments, except a tin basin at the pump, a roller-towel on
the porch, and a small mirror in the kitchen. Tooth-brushes, she
had learned, were almost unknown in the neighborhood, nearly every
one of more than seventeen years wearing "store-teeth." It was a
matter of much speculation to her that these people, who thought
it so essential to keep their houses, especially their front
porches, immaculately scrubbed, should never feel an equal
necessity as to their own persons.

The doctor came to the door and told Sammy he was ready. "I
wouldn't do it to go such a muddy night like what this is," he
ruefully declared to Miss Margaret, "if I didn't feel it was
serious; Jake Getz wouldn't spend any hirin' a doctor, without it
was some serious. I'm sorry I got to go."

"Good-night, Sammy," said Miss Margaret. "Give Tillie my love; and
if she is not able to come to school to-morrow, I shall go to see
her."





V

"NOVELS AIN'T MORAL, DOC!"


Tillie still lay on the kitchen settee, her father sitting at her
side, when the doctor and Sammy arrived. The other children had
all been put to bed, and Mrs. Getz, seated at the kitchen table,
was working on a pile of mending by the light of a small lamp.

The doctor's verdict, when he had examined his patient's tongue,
felt her pulse, and taken her temperature, was not clear.

"She's got a high fever. That's 'a all the fu'ther I can go now.
What it may turn to till morning, I can't tell TILL morning. Give
her these powders every hour, without she's sleeping. That's the
most that she needs just now."

"Yes, if she can keep them powders down," said Mr. Getz,
doubtfully. "She can't keep nothin' with her."

"Well, keep on giving them, anyhow. She's a pretty sick child."

"You ain't no fears of smallpox, are you?" Mrs. Getz inquired.
"Mister was afraid it might mebbe be smallpox," she said,
indicating her husband by the epithet.

"Not that you say that I sayed it was!" Mr. Getz warned the
doctor. "We don't want no report put out! But is they any
symptoms?"

"Och, no," the doctor reassured them. "It ain't smallpox. What did
you give her that she couldn't keep with her?"

"I fed some boiled milk to her."

"Did she drink tea?" he inquired, looking profound.

"We don't drink no store tea," Mrs. Getz answered him. "We drink
peppermint tea fur supper, still. Tillie she didn't drink none
this evening. Some says store tea's bad fur the nerves. I ain't
got no nerves," she went on placidly. "Leastways, I ain't never
felt none, so fur. Mister he likes the peppermint."

"And it comes cheaper," said Mister.

"Mebbe you've been leavin' Tillie work too much in the hot sun out
in the fields with you?" the doctor shot a keen glance at the
father; for Jake Getz was known to all Canaan Township as a man
that got more work out of his wife and children than any other
farmer in the district.

"After school, some," Mr. Getz replied. "But not fur long at a
time, fur it gets late a'ready till she gets home. Anyhow, it's
healthy fur her workin' in the fields. I guess," he speculated,
"it was her settin' up in bed readin' last night done it. I don't
know right how long it went that she was readin' before I seen the
light, but it was near morning a'ready, and she'd burned near a
whole candle out."

"And mebbe you punished her?" the doctor inquired, holding his
hand to Tillie's temples.

"Well," nodded Mr. Getz, "I guess she won't be doin' somepin like
that soon again. I think, still, I mebbe used the strap too hard,
her bein' a girl that way. But a body's got to learn 'em when
they're young, you know. And here it was a NOVEL-book! She
borrowed the loan of it off of Elviny Dinkleberger! I chucked it
in the fire! I don't uphold to novel-readin'!"

"Well, now," argued the doctor, settling back in his chair,
crossing his legs, and thrusting his thumbs into the arm-holes of
his vest, "some chance times I read in such a 'Home Companion'
paper, and here this winter I read a piece in nine chapters. I
make no doubt that was a novel. Leastways, I guess you'd call it a
novel. And that piece," he said impressively, "wouldn't hurt
nobody! It learns you. That piece," he insisted, "was got up by a
moral person."

"Then I guess it wasn't no novel, Doc," Mr. Getz firmly
maintained. "Anybody knows novels ain't moral. Anyhow, I ain't
havin' none in my house. If I see any, they get burnt up."

"It's a pity you burnt it up, Jake. I like to come by somepin like
that, still, to pass the time when there ain't much doin'. How did
Elviny Dinkleberger come by such a novel?"

"I don't know. If I see her pop, I 'll tell him he better put a
stop to such behaviors."

Tillie stirred restlessly on her pillow.

"What was the subjeck of that there novel, Tillie?" the doctor
asked.

"Its subjeck was 'Iwanhoe,'" Mr. Getz answered. "Yes, I chucked it
right in the stove."

"'Iwanhoe'!" exclaimed the doctor. "Why, Elviny must of borrowed
the loan of that off of Teacher--I seen Teacher have it."

Tillie turned pleading eyes upon his face, but he did not see her.

"Do you mean to say," demanded Mr. Getz, "that Teacher lends
NOVELS to the scholars!"

"Och!" said the doctor, suddenly catching the frantic appeal of
Tillie's eyes, and answering it with ready invention, "what am I
talkin' about! It was Elviny lent it to Aunty Em's little Rebecca
at the HOtel, and Teacher was tellin' Rebecca she mustn't read it,
but give it back right aways to Elviny."

"Well!" said Mr. Getz, "a teacher that would lend novels to the
scholars wouldn't stay long at William Penn if MY wote could put
her out! And there 's them on the Board that thinks just like what
I think!"

"To be sure!" the doctor soothed him. "TO be sure! Yes," he
romanced, "Rebecca she lent that book off of Elviny Dinkleberger,
and Teacher she tole Rebecca to give it back."

"I'll speak somepin to Elviny's pop, first time I see him, how
Elviny's lendin' a novel to the scholars!" affirmed Mr. Getz.

"You needn't trouble," said the doctor, coolly. "Elviny's pop he
GIVE Elviny that there book last Christmas. I don't know what
he'll think, Jake, at your burnin' it up."

Tillie was gazing at the doctor, now, half in bewilderment, half
in passionate gratitude.

"If Tillie did get smallpox," Mrs. Getz here broke in, "would she
mebbe have to be took to the pest-house?"

Tillie started, and her feverish eyes sought in the face of the
doctor to know what dreadful place a "pest-house" might be.

"Whether she'd have to be took to the pest-house?" the doctor
inquiringly repeated. "Yes, if she took the smallpox. But she
ain't takin' it. You needn't worry."

"Doctors don't know near as much now as what they used to, still,"
Mr. Getz affirmed. "They didn't HAVE to have no such pest-houses
when I was a boy. Leastways, they didn't have 'em. And they didn't
never ketch such diseases like 'pendycitis and grip and them."

"Do you mean to say, Jake Getz, that you pass it as your opinion
us doctors don't know more now than what they used to know thirty
years ago, when you was a boy?"

"Of course they don't," was the dogmatic rejoinder. "Nor nobody
knows as much now as they did in ancient times a'ready. I mean
back in Bible times."

"Do you mean to say," hotly argued the doctor, "that they had
automobiles in them days?"

"To be sure I do! Automobiles and all the other lost sciences!"

"Well," said the doctor, restraining his scorn with a mighty
effort, "I'd like to see you prove it oncet!"

"I can prove it right out of the Bible! Do you want better proof
than that, Doc? The Bible says in so many words, 'There's nothing
new under the sun.' There! You can't come over that there, can
you? You don't consider into them things enough, Doc. You ain't a
religious man, that 's the trouble!"

"I got religion a plenty, but I don't hold to no SICH dumm
thoughts!"

"Did you get your religion at Bethel rewiwal?" Mrs. Getz quickly
asked, glancing up from the little stocking she was darning, to
look with some interest at the doctor. "I wanted to go over oncet
before the rewiwal's done. But now Tillie's sick, mebbe I won't
get to go fur all. When they have rewiwals at Bethel they always
make so! And," she added, resuming her darning, "I like to see 'em
jump that way. My, but they jump, now, when they get happy! But I
didn't get to go this year yet."

"Well, and don't you get affected too?" the doctor asked, "and go
out to the mourners' bench?"

"If I do? No, I go just to see 'em jump," she monotonously
repeated. "I wasn't never conwerted. Mister he's a hard
Evangelical, you know."

"And what does he think of your unconwerted state?" the doctor
jocularly inquired.

"What he thinks? There's nothing to think," was the stolid answer.

"Up there to Bethel rewiwal," said Mr. Getz, "they don't stay
conwerted. Till rewiwal's over, they're off church again."

"It made awful funny down there this two weeks back," repeated
Mrs. Getz. "They jumped so. Now there's the Lutherans, they don't
make nothin' when they conwert themselves. They don't jump nor
nothin'. I don't like their meetin's. It's onhandy Tillie got sick
fur me just now. I did want to go oncet. Here 's all this mendin'
she could have did, too. She 's handier at sewin' than what I am,
still. I always had so much other work, I never come at sewin',
and I 'm some dopplig at it."

"Yes?--yes," said the doctor, rising to go. "Well, Tillie, good-
by, and don't set up nights any more readin' novels," he laughed.

"She ain't likely to," said her father. "My childern don't
generally do somepin like that again after I once ketch 'em at it.
Ain't so, Tillie? Well, then, Doc, you think she ain't serious?"

"I said I can't tell till I've saw her again a'ready."

"How long will it go till you come again?"

"Well," the doctor considered, "it looks some fur fallin' weather
--ain't? If it rains and the roads are muddy till morning, so 's I
can't drive fast, I won't mebbe be here till ten o'clock."

"Oh, doctor," whispered Tillie, in a tone of distress, "can't I go
to school? Can't I? I'll be well enough, won't I? It's Friday to-
morrow, and I--I want to go!" she sobbed. "I want to go to Miss
Margaret!"

"No, you can't go to school to-morrow, Tillie," her father said,
"even if you're some better; I'm keepin' you home to lay still one
day anyhow."

"But I don't want to stay home!" the child exclaimed, casting off
the shawl with which her father had covered her and throwing out
her arms. "I want to go to school! I want to, pop!" she sobbed,
almost screaming. "I want to go to Miss Margaret! I will, I will!"

"Tillie--Tillie!" her father soothed her in that unwonted tone of
gentleness that sounded so strange to her. His face had turned
pale at her outcries, delirious they seemed to him, coming from
his usually meek and submissive child. "There now," he said,
drawing the cover over her again; "now lay still and be a good
girl, ain't you will?"

"Will you leave me go to school to-morrow?" she pleaded piteously.
"DARE I go to school to-morrow?"

"No, you dassent, Tillie. But if you're a good girl, mebbe I 'll
leave Sammy ast Teacher to come to see you after school."

"Oh, pop!" breathed the child ecstatically, as in supreme
contentment she sank back again on her pillow. "I wonder will she
come? Do you think she will come to see me, mebbe?"

"To be sure will she."

"Now think," said the doctor, "how much she sets store by Teacher!
And a lot of 'em's the same way--girls AND boys."

"I didn't know she was so much fur Teacher," said Mr. Getz. "She
never spoke nothin'."

"She never spoke nothin' to me about it neither," said Mrs. Getz.

"Well, I 'll give you all good-by, then," said the doctor; and he
went away.

On his slow journey home through the mud he mused on the
inevitable clash which he foresaw must some day come between the
warm-hearted teacher (whom little Tillie so loved, and who so
injudiciously lent her "novel-books") and the stern and
influential school director, Jacob Getz.

"There MY chanct comes in," thought the doctor; "there's where I
mebbe put in my jaw and pop the question--just when Jake Getz is
makin' her trouble and she's gettin' chased off her job. I passed
my word I'd stand by her, and, by gum, I 'll do it! When she's out
of a job--that's the time she 'll be dead easy! Ain't? She's the
most allurin' female I seen since my wife up't and died fur me!"





VI

JAKE GETZ IN A QUANDARY


Tillie's illness, though severe while it lasted, proved to be a
matter of only a few days' confinement to bed; and fortunately for
her, it was while she was still too weak and ill to be called to
account for her misdeed that her father discovered her deception
as to the owner of "Ivanhoe." At least he found out, in talking
with Elviny Dinkleberger and her father at the Lancaster market,
that the girl was innocent of ever having owned or even seen the
book, and that, consequently, she had of course never lent it
either to Rebecca Wackernagel at the hotel or to Tillie.

Despite his rigorous dealings with his family (which, being the
outcome of the Pennsylvania Dutch faith in the Divine right of the
head of the house, were entirely conscientious), Jacob Getz was
strongly and deeply attached to his wife and children; and his
alarm at Tillie's illness, coming directly upon his severe
punishment of her, had softened him sufficiently to temper his
wrath at finding that she had told him what was not true.

What her object could have been in shielding the real owner of the
book he could not guess. His suspicions did not turn upon the
teacher, because, in the first place, he would have seen no reason
why Tillie should wish to shield her, and, in the second, it was
inconceivable that a teacher at William Penn should set out so to
pervert the young whom trusting parents placed under her care.
There never had been a novel-reading teacher at William Penn. The
Board would as soon have elected an opium-eater.

WHERE HAD TILLIE OBTAINED THAT BOOK? And why had she put the blame
on Elviny, who was her little friend? The Doc, evidently, was in
league with Tillie! What could it mean? Jake Getz was not used to
dealing with complications and mysteries. He pondered the case
heavily.

When he went home from market, he did not tell Tillie of his
discovery, for the doctor had ordered that she be kept quiet.

Not until a week later, when she was well enough to be out of bed,
did he venture to tell her he had caught her telling a falsehood.

He could not know that the white face of terror which she turned
to him was fear for Miss Margaret and not, for once, apprehension
of the strap.

"I ain't whippin' you this time," he gruffly said, "if you tell me
the truth whose that there book was."

Tillie did not speak. She was resting in the wooden rocking-chair
by the kitchen window, a pillow at her head and a shawl over her
knees. Her stepmother was busy at the table with her Saturday
baking; Sammy was giving the porch its Saturday cleaning, and the
other children, too little to work, were playing outdoors; even
the baby, bundled up in its cart, was out on the grass-plot.

"Do you hear me, Tillie? Whose book was that there?"

Tillie's head hung low and her very lips were white. She did not
answer.

"You 're goin' to act stubborn to ME!" her father incredulously
exclaimed, and the woman at the table turned and stared in dull
amazement at this unheard-of defiance of the head of the family.
"Tillie!" he grasped her roughly by the arm and shook her. "Answer
to me!"

Tillie's chest rose and fell tumultuously. Bat she kept her eyes
downcast and her lips closed.

"Fur why don't you want to tell, then?"

"I--can't, pop!"

"Can't! If you wasn't sick I 'd soon learn you if you can't! Now
you might as well tell me right aways, fur I'll make you tell me
SOME time!"

Tillie's lips quivered and the tears rolled slowly over her white
cheeks.

"Fur why did you say it was Elviny?"

"She was the only person I thought to say."

"But fur why didn't you say the person it WAS? Answer to me!" he
commanded.

Tillie curved her arm over her face and sobbed. She was still too
weak from her fever to bear the strain of this unequal contest of
wills.

"Well," concluded her father, his anger baffled and impotent
before the child's weakness, "I won't bother you with it no more
NOW. But you just wait till you 're well oncet! We'll see then if
you'll tell me what I ast you or no!"

"Here's the Doc," announced Mrs. Getz, as the sound of wheels was
heard outside the gate.

"Well," her husband said indignantly as he rose and went to the
door, "I just wonder what he's got to say fur hisself, lyin' to me
like what he done!"

"Hello, Jake!" was the doctor's breezy greeting as he walked into
the kitchen, followed by a brood of curious little Getzes, to whom
the doctor's daily visits were an exciting episode. "Howdy-do,
missus," he briskly addressed the mother of the brood, pushing his
hat to the back of his head in lieu of raising it. "And how's the
patient?" he inquired with a suddenly professional air and tone.
"Some better, heh? HEH? Been cryin'! What fur?" he demanded,
turning to Mr. Getz. "Say, Jake, you ain't been badgerin' this kid
again fur somepin? She'll be havin' a RElapse if you don't leave
her be!"

"It's YOU I'm wantin' to badger, Doc Weaver!" retorted Mr. Getz.
"What fur did you lie to me about that there piece entitled
'Iwanhoe'?"

"You and your 'Iwanhoe' be blowed! Are you tormentin' this here
kid about THAT yet? A body'd think you'd want to change that
subjec', Jake Getz!"

"Not till I find from you, Doc, whose that there novel-book was,
and why you tole me it was Elviny Dinkleberger's!"

"That's easy tole," responded the doctor. "That there book
belonged to--"

"No, Doc, no, no!" came a pleading cry from Tillie. "Don't tell,
Doc, please don't tell!"

"Never you mind, Tillie, THAT'S all right. Look here, Jake Getz!"
The doctor turned his sharp little eyes upon the face of the
father grown dark with anger at his child's undutiful
interference. "You're got this here little girl worked up to the
werge of a RElapse! I tole you she must be kep' quiet and not
worked up still!"

"All right. I'm leavin' HER alone--till she's well oncet! You just
answer fur YOURself and tell why you lied to me!"

"Well, Jake, it was this here way. That there book belonged to ME
and Tillie lent it off of me. That's how! Ain't Tillie?"

Mr. Getz stared in stupefied wonder, while Mrs. Getz, too, looked
on with a dull interest, as she leaned her back against the sink
and dried her hands upon her apron.

As for Tillie, a great throb of relief thrilled through her as she
heard the doctor utter this Napoleonic lie--only to be followed
the next instant by an overwhelming sense of her own wickedness in
thus conniving with fraud. Abysses of iniquity seemed to yawn at
her feet, and she gazed with horror into their black depths. How
could she ever again hold up her head.

But--Miss Margaret, at least, was safe from the School Board's
wrath and indignation, and how unimportant, compared with that,
was her own soul's salvation!

"Why didn't Tillie say it was yourn?" Mr. Getz presently found
voice to ask.

"I tole her if she left it get put out I am addicted to novel
readin'," said the doctor glibly, and with evident relish, "it
might spoil my practice some. And Tillie she's that kind-hearted
she was sorry far me!"

"And so you put her up to say it was Elviny's! You put her up to
tell lies to her pop!"

"Well, I never thought you 'd foller it up any, Jake, and try to
get ELVINY into trouble."

"Doc, I always knowed you was a blasPHEmer and that you didn't
have no religion. But I thought you had anyhow morals. And I
didn't think, now, you was a coward that way, to get behind a
child and lie out of your own evil deeds!"

"I'm that much a coward and a blasPHEmer, Jake, that I 'm goin' to
add the cost of that there book of mine where you burnt up, to
your doctor's bill, unlest you pass me your promise you 'll drop
this here subjec' and not bother Tillie with it no more."

The doctor had driven his victim into a corner. To yield a point
in family discipline or to pay the price of the property he had
destroyed--one of the two he must do. It was a most untoward
predicament for Jacob Getz.

"You had no right to lend that there Book to Tillie, Doc, and I
ain't payin' you a cent fur it!" he maintained.

"I jus' mean, Jake, I 'll make out my bill easy or stiff accordin'
to the way you pass your promise."

"If my word was no more better 'n yours, Doe, my passin' my
promise wouldn't help much!"

"That's all right, Jake. I don't set up to be religious and moral.
I ain't sayed my prayers since I am old enough a'ready to know how
likely I was, still, to kneel on a tack!"

"It's no wonder you was put off of church!" was the biting retort.

"Hold up there, Jake. I wasn't put off. I WENT off. I took myself
off of church before the brethren had a chanct to PUT me off."

"Sammy!" Mr. Getz suddenly and sharply admonished his little son,
who was sharpening his slate-pencil on the window-sill with a
table-knife, "you stop right aways sharpenin' that pencil! You
dassent sharpen your slate-pencils, do you hear? It wastes 'em
so!"

Sammy hastily laid down the knife and thrust the pencil into his
pocket.

Mr. Getz turned again to the doctor and inquired irritably, "What
is it to YOU if I teach my own child to mind me or not, I'd like
to know?"

"Because she's been bothered into a sickness with this here thing
a'ready, and it 's time it stopped now!"

"It was you started it, leavin' her lend the book off of you!"

"That's why I feel fur sparin' her some more trouble, seein' I was
the instrument in the hands of Providence fur gettin' her into all
this here mess. See?"

"I can't be sure when TO know if you're lyin' or not," said Mr.
Getz helplessly.

"Mebbe you can't, Jake. Sometimes I'm swangfid if I'm sure, still,
myself. But there's one thing you KIN be cocksure of--and that's
a big doctor-bill unlest you do what I sayed."

"Now that I know who she lent the book off of there ain't nothin'
to bother her about," sullenly granted Mr. Getz. "And as fur
punishment--she's had punishment a-plenty, I guess, in her bein'
so sick."

"All right," the doctor said magnanimously. "There's one thing I
'll give you, Jake: you're a man of your word, if you ARE a Dutch
hog!"

"A--WHATEVER?" Mr. Getz angrily demanded.

"And I don't see," the doctor complacently continued, rising and
pulling his hat down to his eyebrows, preparatory to leaving,
"where Tillie gets her fibbin' from. Certainly not from her pop."

"I don't mind her ever tellin' me no lie before."

"Och, Jake, you drive your children to lie to you, the way you
bring 'em up to be afraid of you. They GOT to lie, now and again,
to a feller like you! Well, well," he soothingly added as he saw
the black look in the father's face at the airing of such views in
the presence of his children, "never mind, Jake, it 's all in the
day's work!"

He turned for a parting glance at Tillie. "She 's better. She 'll
be well till a day or two, now, and back to school--IF she's kep'
quiet, and her mind ain't bothered any. Now, GOOD-by to yous."





VII

"THE LAST DAY OF PUMP-EYE"


For a long time after her unhappy experiences with "Ivanhoe"
Tillie did not again venture to transgress against her father's
prohibition of novels. But her fear of the family strap, although
great, did not equal the keenness of her mental hunger, and was
not sufficient, therefore, to put a permanent check upon her
secret midnight reading, though it did lead her to take every
precaution against detection. Miss Margaret continued to lend her
books and magazines from time to time, and in spite of the child's
reluctance to risk involving the teacher in trouble with the
School Board through her father, she accepted them. And so during
all this winter, through her love for books and her passionate
devotion to her teacher, the little girl reveled in feasts of
fancy and emotion and this term at school was the first season of
real happiness her young life had ever known.

Once on her return from school the weight of a heavy volume had
proved too great a strain on her worn and thin undergarment during
the long walk home; the skirt had torn away from the band, and as
she entered the kitchen, her stepmother discovered the book.
Tillie pleaded with her not to tell her father, and perhaps she
might have succeeded in gaining a promise of secrecy had it not
happened that just at the critical moment her father walked into
the kitchen.

Of course, then the book was handed over to him, and Tillie with
it.

"Did you lend this off the Doc again?" her father sternly
demanded, the fated book in one hand and Tillie's shoulder grasped
in the other.

Tillie hated to utter the lie. She hoped she had modified her
wickedness a bit by answering with a nod of her head.

"What's he mean, throwin' away so much money on books?" Mr. Getz
took time in his anger to wonder. He read the title, "'Last Days
of Pump-eye.' Well!" he exclaimed, "this here's the last HOUR of
this here 'Pump-eye'! In the stove she goes! I don't owe the Doc
no doctor's bill NOW, and I'd like to see him make me pay him fur
these here novels he leaves you lend off of him!"

"Please, please, pop!" Tillie gasped, "don't burn it. Give it back
to--him! I won't read it--I won't bring home no more books of--
hisn! Only, please, pop, don't burn it--please!"

For answer, he drew her with him as he strode to the fireplace.
"I'm burnin' every book you bring home, do you hear?" he
exclaimed; but before he could make good his words, the kitchen
door was suddenly opened, and Sammy's head was poked in, with the
announcement, "The Doc's buggy's comin' up the road!" The door
banged shut again, but instantly Tillie wrenched her shoulder free
from her father's hand, flew out of doors and dashed across the
"yard" to the front gate. Her father's voice followed her, calling
to her from the porch to "come right aways back here!" Unheeding,
she frantically waved to the doctor in his approaching buggy.
Sammy, with a bevy of small brothers and sisters, to whom, no less
than to their parents, the passing of a "team" was an event not to
be missed, were all crowded close to the fence.

"Some one sick again?" inquired the doctor as he drew up at
Tillie's side.

"No, Doc--but," Tillie could hardly get her breath to speak,
"pop's goin' to burn up 'Last Days of Pompeii'; it's Miss
Margaret's, and he thinks it's yourn; come in and take it, "Doc--
PLEASE--and give it back to Miss Margaret, won't you?"

"Sure!" The doctor was out of his buggy at her side in an instant.

"Oh!" breathed Tillie, "here's pop comin' with the book!"

"See me fix him!" chuckled the doctor. "He's so dumm he'll b'lee'
most anything. If I have much more dealin's with your pop, Tillie,
I'll be ketchin' on to how them novels is got up myself. And then
mebbe I'll LET doctorin', and go to novel-writin'!"

The doctor laughed with relish of his own joke, as Mr. Getz, grim
with anger, stalked up to the buggy.

"Look-ahere!" His voice was menacing as he held out the open book
for Tillie's inspection, and the child turned cold as she read on
the fly-leaf,

"Margaret Lind.

"From A. C. L.

Christmas, 18--"

"You sayed the Doc give it to you! Did you lend that other 'n' off
of Teacher too? Answer to me! I'll have her chased off of William
Penn! I'll bring it up at next Board meetin'!"

"Hold your whiskers, Jake, or they'll blow off! You're talkin'
through your hat! Don't be so dumm! Teacher she gev me that there
book because she passed me her opinion she don't stand by novel-
readin'. She was goin' to throw out that there book and I says I'd
take it if she didn't want it. So then I left Tillie borrow the
loan of it."

"So that's how you come by it, is it?" Mr. Getz eyed the doctor
with suspicion. "How did you come by that there 'Iwanhoe'?"

"That there I bought at the second-hand book-store in there at
Lancaster one time. I ain't just so much fur books, but now and
again I like to buy one too, when I see 'em cheap."

"Well, here!" Mr. Getz tossed the book into tie buggy. "Take your
old 'Pump-eye.' And clear out. If I can't make you stop tryin' to
spoil my child fur me, I can anyways learn her what she'll get
oncet, if she don't mind!"

Again his hand grasped Tillie's shoulder as he turned her about to
take her into the house.

"You better watch out, Jake Getz, or you 'll have another doctor's
bill to pay!" the doctor warningly called after him. "That girl of
yourn ain't strong enough to stand your rough handlin', and you'll
find it out some day--to your regret! You'd better go round back
and let off your feelin's choppin' wood fur missus, stead of
hittin' that little girl, you big dopple!"

Mr. Getz stalked on without deigning to reply, thrusting Tillie
ahead of him. The doctor jumped into his buggy and drove off.

His warning, however, was not wholly lost upon the father.
Tillie's recent illness had awakened remorse for the severe
punishment he had given her on the eve of it; and it had also
touched his purse; and so, though she did not escape punishment
for this second and, therefore, aggravated offense, it was meted
out in stinted measure. And indeed, in her relief and thankfulness
at again saving Miss Margaret, the child scarcely felt the few
light blows which, in order that parental authority be maintained,
her father forced himself to inflict upon her.

In spite of these mishaps, however, Tillie continued to devour all
the books she could lay hold of and to run perilous risks for the
sake of the delight she found in them.

Miss Margaret stood to her for an image of every heroine of whom
she read in prose or verse, and for the realization of all the
romantic day-dreams in which, as an escape from the joyless and
sordid life of her home, she was learning to live and move and
have her being.

Therefore it came to her as a heavy blow indeed when, just after
the Christmas holidays, her father announced to her on the first
morning of the reopening of school, "You best make good use of
your time from now on, Tillie, fur next spring I'm takin' you out
of school."

Tillie's face turned white, and her heart thumped in her breast so
that she could not speak.

"You're comin' twelve year old," her father continued, "and you're
enough educated, now, to do you. Me and mom needs you at home."

It never occurred to Tillie to question or discuss a decision of
her father's. When he spoke it was a finality and one might as
well rebel at the falling of the snow or rain. Tillie's woe was
utterly hopeless.

Her dreary, drooping aspect in the next few days was noticed by
Miss Margaret.

"Pop's takin' me out of school next spring," she heart-brokenly
said when questioned. "And when I can't see you every day, Miss
Margaret, I won't feel for nothin' no more. And I thought to get
more educated than what I am yet. I thought to go to school till I
was anyways fourteen."

So keenly did Miss Margaret feel the outrage and wrong of Tillie's
arrested education, when her father could well afford to keep her
in school until she was grown, if he would; so stirred was her
warm Southern blood at the thought of the fate to which poor
Tillie seemed doomed--the fate of a household drudge with not a
moment's leisure from sunrise to night for a thought above the
grubbing existence of a domestic beast of burden (thus it all
looked to this woman from Kentucky), that she determined, cost
what it might, to go herself to appeal to Mr. Getz.

"He will have me 'chased off of William Penn,'" she ruefully told
herself. "And the loss just now of my munificent salary of thirty-
five dollars a month would be inconvenient. 'The Doc' said he
would 'stand by' me. But that might be more inconvenient still!"
she thought, with a little shudder. "I suppose this is an
impolitic step for me to take. But policy 'be blowed,' as the
doctor would say! What are we in this world for but to help one
another? I MUST try to help little Tillie--bless her!"

So the following Monday afternoon after school, found Miss
Margaret, in a not very complacent or confident frame of mind,
walking with Tillie and her younger brother and sister out over
the snow-covered road to the Getz farm to face the redoubtable
head of the family.





VIII

MISS MARGARET'S ERRAND


It was half-past four o'clock when they reached the farm-house,
and they found the weary, dreary mother of the family cleaning
fish at the kitchen sink, one baby pulling at her skirts, another
sprawling on the floor at her feet.

Miss Margaret inquired whether she might see Mr. Getz.

"If you kin? Yes, I guess," Mrs. Getz dully responded. "Sammy, you
go to the barn and tell pop Teacher's here and wants to speak
somepin to him. Mister's out back," she explained to Miss
Margaret, "choppin' wood."

Sammy departed, and Miss Margaret sat down in the chair which
Tillie brought to her. Mrs. Getz went on with her work at the
sink, while Tillie set to work at once on a crock of potatoes
waiting to be pared.

"You are getting supper very early, aren't you?' Miss Margaret
asked, with a friendly attempt to make conversation.

"No, we're some late. And I don't get it ready yet, I just start
it. We're getting strangers fur supper."

"Are you?"

"Yes. Some of Mister's folks from East Bethel."

"And are they strangers to you?"

Mrs. Getz paused in her scraping of the fish to consider the
question.

"If they're strangers to us? Och, no. We knowed them this long
time a'ready. Us we're well acquainted. But to be sure they don't
live with us, so we say strangers is comin'. You don't talk like
us; ain't?"

"N--not exactly."

"I do think now (you must excuse me sayin' so) but you do talk
awful funny," Mrs. Getz smiled feebly.

"I suppose I do," Miss Margaret sympathetically replied.

Mr. Getz now came into the room, and Miss Margaret rose to greet
him.

"I'm much obliged to meet you," he said awkwardly as he shook
hands with her.

He glanced at the clock on the mantel, then turned to speak to
Tillie.

"Are yous home long a'ready?" he inquired.

"Not so very long," Tillie answered with an apprehensive glance at
the clock.

"You're some late," he said, with a threatening little nod as he
drew up a chair in front of the teacher.

"It's my fault," Miss Margaret hastened to say, "I made the
children wait to bring me out here."

"Well," conceded Mr. Getz, "then we'll leave it go this time."

Miss Margaret now bent her mind to the difficult task of
persuading this stubborn Pennsylvania Dutchman to accept her views
as to what was for the highest and best good of his daughter.
Eloquently she pointed out to him that Tillie being a child of
unusual ability, it would be much better for her to have an
education than to be forced to spend her days in farm-house
drudgery.

But her point of view, being entirely novel, did not at all appeal
to him.

"I never thought to leave her go to school after she was twelve.
That's long enough fur a girl; a female don't need much book-
knowledge. It don't help her none to keep house fur her mister."

"But she could become a teacher and then she could earn money,"
Miss Margaret argued, knowing the force of this point with Mr.
Getz.

"But look at all them years she'd have to spend learnin' herself
to be intelligent enough fur to be a teacher, when she might be
helpin' me and mom."

"But she could help you by paying board here when she becomes the
New Canaan teacher."

"That's so too," granted Mr. Getz; and Margaret grew faintly
hopeful.

"But," he added, after a moment's heavy weighing of the matter,
"it would take too long to get her enough educated fur to be a
teacher, and I'm one of them," he maintained, "that holds a child
is born to help the parent, and not contrarywise--that the parent
must do everything fur the child that way."

"If you love your children, you must wish for their highest good,"
she suggested, "and not trample on their best interests."

"But they have the right to work for their parents," he insisted.
"You needn't plague me to leave Tillie stay in school, Teacher. I
ain't leavin' her!"

"Do you think you have a right to bring children into the world
only to crush everything in them that is worth while?" Margaret
dared to say to him, her face flushed, her eyes bright with the
intensity of her feelings.

"That's all blamed foolishness!" Jake Getz affirmed.

"Do you think that your daughter, when she is grown and realizes
all that she has lost, will 'rise up and call you blessed'?" she
persisted.

"Do I think? Well, what I think is that it's a good bit more
particular that till she's growed she's been learnt to work and
serve them that raised her. And what I think is that a person
ain't fit to be a teacher of the young that sides along with the
childern ag'in' their parents."

Miss Margaret felt that it was time she took her leave.

"Look-ahere oncet, Teacher!" Mr. Getz suddenly said, fixing on her
a suspicious and searching look, "do you uphold to novel-readin'?"

Miss Margaret hesitated perceptibly. She must shield Tillie even
more than herself. "What a question to ask of the teacher at
William Penn!" she gravely answered.

"I know it ain't such a wery polite question," returned Mr. Getz,
half apologetically. "But the way you side along with childern
ag'in' their parents suspicions me that the Doc was lyin' when he
sayed them novel-books was hisn. Now was they hisn or was they
yourn?"

Miss Margaret rose with a look and air of injury. "'Mr, Getz, no
one ever before asked me such questions. Indeed," she said, in a
tone of virtuous primness, "I can't answer such questions."

"All the same," sullenly asserted Mr. Getz, "I wouldn't put it a-
past you after the way you passed your opinion to me this after!"

"I must be going," returned Miss Margaret with dignity.

Mrs. Getz came forward from the stove with a look and manner of
apology for her husband's rudeness to the visitor.

"What's your hurry? Can't you stay and eat along? We're not
anyways tired of you."

"Thank you. But they will be waiting for me at the hotel," said
Miss Margaret gently.

Tillie, a bit frightened, also hovered near, her wistful little
face pale. Miss Margaret drew her to her and held her at her side,
as she looked up into the face of Mr. Getz.

"I am very, very sorry, Mr. Getz, that my visit has proved so
fruitless. You don't realize what a mistake you are making."

"That ain't the way a teacher had ought to talk before a scholar
to its parent!" indignantly retorted Mr. Getz. "And I'm pretty
near sure it was all the time YOU where lent them Books to Tillie
--corruptin' the young! I can tell you right now, I ain't votin'
fur you at next election! And the way I wote is the way two other
members always wotes still--and so you'll lose your job at William
Penn! That's what you get fur tryin' to interfere between a parent
and a scholar! I hope it'll learn you!"

"And when is the next election?" imperturbably asked Miss
Margaret.

"Next month on the twenty-fifth of February. Then you'll see
oncet!"

"According to the terms of my agreement with the Board I hold my
position until the first of April unless the Board can show
reasons why it should be taken from me. "What reasons can you
show?"

"That you side along with the--"

"That I try to persuade you not to take your child out of school
when you can well afford to keep her there. That's what you have
to tell the Board."

Mr. Getz stared at her, rather baffled. The children also stared
in wide-eyed curiosity, realizing with wonder that Teacher was
"talkin' up to pop!" It was a novel and interesting spectacle.

"Well, anyways," continued Mr. Getz, rallying, "I'll bring it up
in Board meeting that you mebbe leave the scholars borry the loan
of novels off of you."

"But you can't prove it. I shall hold the Board to their contract.
They can't break it."

Miss Margaret was taking very high ground, of which, in fact, she
was not at all sure.

Mr. Getz gazed at her with mingled anger and fascination. Here was
certainly a new species of woman! Never before had any teacher at
William Penn failed to cringe to his authority as a director.

"This much I KIN say," he finally declared. "Mebbe you kin hold us
to that there contract, but you won't, anyways, be elected to come
back here next term! That's sure! You'll have to look out fur
another place till September a'ready. And we won't give you no
recommend, neither, to get yourself another school with!"

Just here it was that Miss Margaret had her triumph, which she was
quite human enough to thoroughly enjoy.

"You won't have a chance to reelect me, for I am going to resign
at the end of the term. I am going to be married the week after
school closes."

Never had Mr. Getz felt himself so foiled. Never before had any
one subject in any degree to his authority so neatly eluded a
reckoning at his hands. A tingling sensation ran along his arm and
he had to restrain his impulse to lift it, grasp this slender
creature standing so fearlessly before him, and thoroughly shake
her.

"Who's the party?" asked Mrs. Getz, curiously. "It never got put
out that you was promised. I ain't heard you had any steady
comp'ny. To be sure, some says the Doc likes you pretty good. Is
it now, mebbe, the Doc? But no," she shook her head; "Mister's
sister Em at the hotel would have tole me. Is it some one where
lives around here?"

"I don't mind telling you," Miss Margaret graciously answered,
realizing that her reply would greatly increase Mr. Getz's sense
of defeat. "It is Mr. Lansing, a nephew of the State
Superintendent of schools and a professor at the Millersville
Normal School."

"Well, now just look!" Mrs. Getz exclaimed wonderingly. "Such a
tony party! The State Superintendent's nephew! That's even a more
way-up person than what the county superintendent is! Ain't? Well,
who'd 'a' thought!"

"Miss Margaret!" Tillie breathed, gazing up at her, her eyes wide
and strained with distress, "if you go away and get married, won't
I NEVER see you no more?"

"But, dear, I shall live so near--at the Normal School only a few
miles away. You can come to see me often."

"But pop won't leave me, Miss Margaret--it costs too expensive to
go wisiting, and I got to help with the work, still. O Miss
Margaret!" Tillie sobbed, as Margaret sat down and held the
clinging child to her, "I'll never see you no more after you go
away!"

"Tillie, dear!" Margaret tried to soothe her. "I 'll come to see
YOU, then, if you can't come to see me. Listen, Tillie,--I've just
thought of something."

Suddenly she put the little girl from her and stood up.

"Let me take Tillie to live with me next fall at the Normal
School. Won't you do that, Mr. Getz!" she urged him. "She could go
to the preparatory school, and if we stay at Millersville, Dr.
Lansing and I would try to have her go through the Normal School
and graduate. Will you consent to it, Mr. Getz?"

"And who'd be payin' fur all this here?" Mr. Getz ironically
inquired.

"Tillie could earn her own way as my little maid--helping me keep
my few rooms in the Normal School building and doing my mending
and darning for me. And you know after she was graduated she could
earn her living as a teacher."

Margaret saw the look of feverish eagerness with which Tillie
heard this proposal and awaited the outcome.

Before her husband could answer, Mrs. Getz offered a weak protest.

"I hear the girls hired in town have to set away back in the
kitchen and never dare set front--always away back, still. Tillie
wouldn't like that. Nobody would."

"But I shall live in a small suite of rooms at the school--a
library, a bedroom, a bath-room, and a small room next to mine
that can be Tillie's bedroom. We shall take our meals in the
school dining-room."

"Well, that mebbe she wouldn't mind. But 'way back she wouldn't be
satisfied to set. That's why the country girls don't like to hire
in town, because they dassent set front with the missus. Here last
market-day Sophy Haberbush she conceited she'd like oncet to hire
out in town, and she ast me would I go with her after market to
see a lady that advertised in the newspaper fur a girl, and I
sayed no, I wouldn't mind. So I went along. But Sophy she wouldn't
take the place fur all. She ast the lady could she have her
country company, Sundays--he was her company fur four years now
and she wouldn't like to give him up neither. She tole the lady
her company goes, still, as early as eleven. But the lady sayed
her house must be darkened and locked at half-past ten a'ready.
She ast me was I Sophy's mother and I sayed no, I'm nothin' to her
but a neighbor woman. And she tole Sophy, when they eat, still,
Sophy she couldn't eat along. I guess she thought Sophy Haberbush
wasn't good enough. But she's as good as any person. Her mother's
name is Smith before she was married, and them Smiths was well
fixed. She sayed Sophy'd have to go in and out the back way and
never out the front. Why, they say some of the town people's that
proud, if the front door-bell rings and the missus is standin'
right there by it, she won't open that there front door but wants
her hired girl to come clear from the kitchen to open it. Yes, you
mightn't b'lee me, but I heerd that a'ready. And Mary Hertzog she
tole me when she hired out there fur a while one winter in town,
why, one day she went to the missus and she says, 'There's two
ladies in the parlor and I tole 'em you was helpin' in the
kitchen,' and the missus she ast her, 'What fur did you tell 'em
that? Why, I'm that ashamed I don't know how to walk in the
parlor!' And Mary she ast the colored gentleman that worked there,
what, now, did the missus mean?--and he sayed, 'Well, Mary, you've
a heap to learn about the laws of society. Don't you know you must
always leave on the ladies ain't doin' nothin'?' Mary sayed that
colored gentleman was so wonderful intelligent that way. He'd been
a restaurant waiter there fur a while and so was throwed in with
the best people, and he was, now, that tony and high-minded! Och,
I wouldn't hire in town! To be sure, Mister can do what he wants.
Well," she added, "it's a quarter till five--I guess I'll put the
peppermint on a while. Mister's folks'll be here till five."

She moved away to the stove, and Margaret resumed her assault upon
the stubborn ignorance of the father.

"Think, Mr. Getz, what a difference all this would make in
Tillie's life," she urged.

"And you'd be learnin' her all them years to up and sass her pop
when she was growed and earnin' her own livin'!" he objected.

"I certainly would not."

"And all them years till she graduated she'd be no use to us where
owns her," he said, as though his child were an item of live stock
on the farm.

"She could come home to you in the summer vacations," Margaret
suggested.

"Yes, and she'd come that spoilt we couldn't get no work out of
her. No, if I hire her out winters, it'll be where I kin draw her
wages myself--where's my right as her parent. What does a body
have childern fur? To get no use out of 'em? It ain't no good
you're plaguin' me. I ain't leavin' her go. Tillie!" he commanded
the child with a twirl of his thumb and a motion of his head;" go
set the supper-table!"

Margaret laid her arm about Tillie's shoulder. "Well, dear," she
said sorrowfully, "we must give it all up, I suppose. But don't
lose heart, Tillie. I shall not go out of your life. At least we
can write to each other. Now," she concluded, bending and kissing
her, "I must go, but you and I shall have some talks before you
stop school, and before I go away from New Canaan."

She pressed her lips to Tillie's in a long kiss, while the child
clung to her in passionate devotion. Mr. Getz looked on with dull
bewilderment. He knew, in a vague way, that every word the teacher
spoke to the child, no less than those useless caresses, was
"siding along with the scholar ag'in' the parent," and yet he
could not definitely have stated just how. He was quite sure that
she would not dare so to defy him did she not know that she had
the whip-handle in the fact that she did not want her "job" next
year, and that the Board could not, except for definite offenses,
break their contract with her. It was only in view of these
considerations that she played her game of "plaguing" him by
championing Tillie. Jacob Getz was incapable of recognizing in the
teacher's attitude toward his child an unselfish interest and
love.

So, in dogged, sullen silence, he saw this extraordinary young
woman take her leave and pass out of his house.





IX

"I'LL DO MY DARN BEST, TEACHER!"


It soon "got put out" in New Canaan that Miss Margaret was
"promised," and the doctor was surprised to find how much the news
depressed him.

"I didn't know, now, how much I was stuck on her! To think I can't
have her even if I do want her" (up to this time he had had
moments now and then of not feeling absolutely sure of his
inclination), "and that she's promised to one of them tony
Millersville Normal professors! If it don't beat all! Well," he
drew a long, deep sigh as, lounging back in his buggy, he let his
horse jog at his own gait along the muddy country road, "I jus'
don't feel fur NOTHIN' to-day. She was now certainly a sweet
lady," he thought pensively, as though alluding to one who had
died. "If there's one sek I do now like, it's the female--and she
was certainly a nice party!"

In the course of her career at William Penn, Miss Margaret had
developed such a genuine fondness for the shaggy, good-natured,
generous, and unscrupulous little doctor, that before she
abandoned her post at the end of the term, and shook the dust of
New Canaan from her feet, she took him into her confidence and
begged him to take care of Tillie.

"She is an uncommon child, doctor, and she must--I am determined
that she must--be rescued from the life to which that father of
hers would condemn her. You must help me to bring it about."

"Nothin' I like better, Teacher, than gettin' ahead of Jake Getz,"
the doctor readily agreed. "Or obligin' YOU. To tell you the
truth,--and it don't do no harm to say it now,--if you hadn't been
promised, I was a-goin' to ast you myself! You took notice I gave
you an inwitation there last week to go buggy-ridin' with me. That
was leadin' up to it. After that Sunday night you left me set up
with you, I never conceited you was promised a'ready to somebody
else--and you even left me set with my feet on your chair-rounds!"
The doctor's tone was a bit injured.

"Am I to understand," inquired Miss Margaret, wonderingly, "that
the permission to sit with one's feet on the rounds of a lady's
chair is taken in New Canaan as an indication of her favor--and
even of her inclination to matrimony?"

"It's looked to as meanin' gettin' down to BIZ!" the doctor
affirmed.

"Then," meekly, "I humbly apologize."

"That's all right," generously granted the doctor, "if you didn't
know no better. But to be sure, I'm some disappointed."

"I'm sorry for that!"

"Would you of mebbe said yes, if you hadn't of been promised
a'ready to one of them tony Millersville Normal professors," the
doctor inquired curiously--"me bein' a professional gentleman that
way?"

"I'm sure," replied this daughter of Eve, who wished to use the
doctor in her plans for Tillie, "I should have been highly
honored."

The rueful, injured look on the doctor's face cleared to flattered
complacency. "Well," he said, "I'd like wery well to do what you
ast off of me fur little Tillie Getz. But, Teacher, what can a
body do against a feller like Jake Getz? A body can't come between
a man and his own offspring."

"I know it," replied Margaret, sadly. "But just keep a little
watch over Tillie and help her whenever you see that you can.
Won't you? Promise me that you will. You have several times helped
her out of trouble this winter. There may be other similar
opportunities. Between us, doctor, we may be able to make
something of Tillie."

The doctor shook his head. "I'll do my darn best, Teacher, but
Jake Getz he's that wonderful set. A little girl like Tillie
couldn't never make no headway with Jake Getz standin' in her
road. But anyways, Teacher, I pass you my promise I'll do what I
can."

Miss Margaret's parting advice and promises to Tillie so fired the
girl's ambition and determination that some of the sting and
anguish of parting from her who stood to the child for all the
mother-love that her life had missed, was taken away in the
burning purpose with which she found herself imbued, to bend her
every thought and act in all the years to come to the reaching of
that glorious goal which her idolized teacher set before her.

"As soon as you are old enough," Miss Margaret admonished her,
"you must assert yourself. Take your rights--your right to an
education, to some girlish pleasures, to a little liberty. No
matter what you have to suffer in the struggle, FIGHT IT OUT, for
you will suffer more in the end if you let yourself be defrauded
of everything which makes it worth while to have been born. Don't
let yourself be sacrificed for those who not only will never
appreciate it, but who will never be worth it. I think I do you no
harm by telling you that you are worth all the rest of your family
put together. The self-sacrifice which pampers the selfishness of
others is NOT creditable. It is weak. It is unworthy. Remember
what I say to you--make a fight for your rights, just as soon as
you are old enough--your right to be a woman instead of a chattel
and a drudge. And meantime, make up for your rebellion by being as
obedient and helpful and affectionate to your parents as you can
be, without destroying yourself."

Such sentiments and ideas were almost a foreign language to
Tillie, and yet, intuitively, she understood the import of them.
In her loneliness, after Miss Margaret's departure, she treasured
and brooded over them day and night; and very much as the
primitive Christian courted martyrdom, her mind dwelt, with ever-
growing resolution, upon the thought of the heroic courage with
which, in the years to come, she would surely obey them.

Miss Margaret had promised Tillie that she would write to her, and
the child, overlooking the serious difficulties in the way, had
eagerly promised in return, to answer her letters.

Once a week Mr. Getz called for mail at the village store, and
Miss Margaret's first letter was laboriously read by him on his
way out to the farm.

He found it, on the whole, uninteresting, but he vaguely gathered
from one or two sentences that the teacher, even at the distance
of five miles, was still trying to "plague" him by "siding along
with his child ag'in' her parent."

"See here oncet," he said to Tillie, striding to the kitchen stove
on his return home, the letter in his hand: "this here goes after
them novel-books, in the fire! I ain't leavin' that there woman
spoil you with no such letters like this here. Now you know!"

The gleam of actual wickedness in Tillie's usually soft eyes, as
she saw that longed-for letter tossed into the flames, would have
startled her father had he seen it. The girl trembled from head to
foot and turned a deathly white.

"I hate you, hate you, hate you!" her hot heart was saying as she
literally glared at her tormentor. "I'll never forget this--never,
never; I'll make you suffer for it--I will, I will!"

But her white lips were dumb, and her impotent passion, having no
other outlet, could only tear and bruise her own heart as all the
long morning she worked in a blind fury at her household tasks.

But after dinner she did an unheard-of thing. Without asking
permission, or giving any explanation to either her father or her
stepmother, she deliberately abandoned her usual Saturday
afternoon work of cleaning up (she said to herself that she did
not care if the house rotted), and dressing herself, she walked
straight through the kitchen before her stepmother's very eyes,
and out of the house.

Her father was out in the fields when she undertook this high-
handed step; and her mother was so dumb with amazement at such
unusual behavior that she offered but a weak protest.

"What'll pop say to your doin' somepin like this here!" she called
querulously after Tillie as she followed her across the kitchen to
the door. "He'll whip you, Tillie; and here's all the sweepin' to
be did--"

There was a strange gleam in Tillie's eyes before which the woman
shrank and held her peace. The girl swept past her, almost walked
over several of the children sprawling on the porch, and went out
of the gate and up the road toward the village.

"What's the matter of her anyways?" the woman wonderingly said to
herself as she went back to her work. "Is it that she's so spited
about that letter pop burnt up? But what's a letter to get spited
about? There was enough worse things'n that that she took off her
pop without actin' like this. Och, but he'll whip her if he gets
in here before she comes back. Where's she goin' to, I wonder!
Well, I never did! I would not be HER if her pop finds how she
went off and let her work! I wonder shall I mebbe tell him on her
or not, if he don't get in till she's home a'ready?"

She meditated upon this problem of domestic economy as she
mechanically did her chores, her reflections on Tillie taking an
unfriendly color as she felt the weight of her stepdaughter's
abandoned tasks added to the already heavy burden of her own.

It was to see the doctor that Tillie had set out for the village
hotel. He was the only person in all her little world to whom she
felt she could turn for help in her suffering. Her "Aunty Em," the
landlady at the hotel, was, she knew, very fond of her; but Tillie
never thought of appealing to her in her trouble.

"I never thought when I promised Miss Margaret I'd write to her
still where I'd get the stamps from, and the paper and envelops,"
Tillie explained to the doctor as they sat in confidential
consultation in the hotel parlor, the child's white face of
distress a challenge to his faithful remembrance of his promise to
the teacher. "And now I got to find some way to let her know I
didn't see her letter to me. Doc, will you write and tell her for
me?" she pleaded.

"My hand-writin' ain't just so plain that way, Tillie. But I'll
give you all the paper and envelops and stamps you want to write
on yourself to her."

"Oh, Doc!" Tillie gazed at him in fervent gratitude. "But mebbe I
hadn't ought to take 'em when I can't pay you."

"That's all right. If it'll make you feel some easier, you kin pay
me when you're growed up and teachin'. Your Miss Margaret she's
bound to make a teacher out of you--or anyways a educated person.
And then you kin pay me when you're got your nice education to
make your livin' with."

"That's what we'll do then!"Tillie joyfully accepted this
proposal. "I'll keep account and pay you back every cent, Doc,
when I'm earnin' my own livin'."

"All right. That's settled then. Now, fur your gettin' your
letters, still, from Teacher. How are we goin' to work that there?
I'll tell you, Tillie!" he slapped the table as an idea came to
him. "You write her off a letter and tell her she must write her
letters to you in a envelop directed to ME. And I'll see as you
get 'em all right, you bet! Ain't?"

"Oh, Doc!" Tillie was affectionately grateful. "You are so kind to
me! What would I do without you?" Tears choked her voice, filled
her eyes, and rolled down her face.

"Och, that's all right," he patted her shoulder. "Ain't no better
fun goin' fur me than gettin' ahead of that mean old Jake Getz!"
Tillie drew back a bit shocked; but she did not protest.

Carrying in her bosom a stamped envelop, a sheet of paper and a
pencil, the child walked home in a very different frame of mind
from that in which she had started out. She shuddered as she
remembered how wickedly rebellious had been her mood that morning.
Never before had such hot and dreadful feelings and thoughts
burned in her heart and brain. In an undefined way, the growing
girl realized that such a state of mind and heart was unworthy her
sacred friendship with Miss Margaret.

"I want to be like her--and she was never ugly in her feelings
like what I was all morning!"

When she reached home, she so effectually made up for lost time in
the vigor with which she attacked the Saturday cleaning that Mrs.
Getz, with unusual forbearance, decided not to tell her father of
her insubordination.

Tillie wrote her first letter to Miss Margaret, ty stealth, at
midnight.





X

ADAM SCHUNK'S FUNERAL


A crucial struggle with her father, to which both Tillie and Miss
Margaret had fearfully looked forward, came about much sooner than
Tillie had anticipated. The occasion of it, too, was not at all
what she had expected and even planned it to be.

It was her conversion, just a year after she had been taken out of
school, to the ascetic faith of the New Mennonites that
precipitated the crisis, this conversion being wrought by a sermon
which she heard at the funeral of a neighboring farmer.

A funeral among the farmers of Lancaster County is a festive
occasion, the most popular form of dissipation known, bringing the
whole population forth as in some regions they turn out to a
circus.

Adam Schank's death, having been caused by his own hand in a fit
of despair over the loss of some money he had unsuccessfully
invested, was so sudden and shocking that the effect produced on
Canaan Township was profound, not to say awful.

As for Tillie, it was the first event of the kind that had ever
come within her experience, and the religious sentiments in which
she had been reared aroused in her, in common with the rest of the
community, a superstitious fear before this sudden and solemn
calling to judgment of one whom they had all known so familiarly,
and who had so wickedly taken his own life.

During the funeral at the farm-house, she sat in the crowded
parlor where the coffin stood, and though surrounded by people,
she felt strangely alone with this weird mystery of Death which
for the first time she was realizing.

Her mother was in the kitchen with the other farmers' wives of the
neighborhood who were helping to prepare the immense quantity of
food necessary to feed the large crowd that always attended a
funeral, every one of whom, by the etiquette of the county,
remained to supper after the services.

Her father, being among the hired hostlers of the occasion, was
outside in the barn. Mr. Getz was head hostler at every funeral of
the district, being detailed to assist and superintend the work of
the other half dozen men employed to take charge of the "teams"
that belonged to the funeral guests, who came in families,
companies, and crowds. That so well-to-do a farmer as Jake Getz,
one who owned his farm "clear," should make a practice of hiring
out as a funeral hostler, with the humbler farmers who only rented
the land they tilled, was one of the facts which gave him his
reputation for being "keen on the penny."

Adam Schunk, deceased, had been an "Evangelical," but his wife
being a New Mennonite, a sect largely prevailing in southeastern
Pennsylvania, the funeral services were conducted by two
ministers, one of them a New Mennonite and the other an
Evangelical. It was the sermon of the New Mennonite that led to
Tillie's conversion.

The New Mennonites being the most puritanic and exclusive of all
sects, earnestly regarding themselves as the custodians of the
only absolutely true light, their ministers insist on certain
prerogatives as the condition of giving their services at a
funeral. A New Mennonite preacher will not consent to preach after
a "World's preacher"--he must have first voice. It was therefore
the somber doctrine of fear preached by the Reverend Brother Abram
Underwocht which did its work upon Tillie's conscience so
completely that the gentler Gospel set forth afterward by the
Evangelical brother was scarcely heeded.

The Reverend Brother Abram Underwocht, in the "plain" garb of the
Mennonite sect, took his place at the foot of the stairway opening
out of the sitting-room, and gave expression to his own profound
sense of the solemnity of the occasion by a question introductory
to his sermon, and asked in a tone of heavy import: "If this ain't
a blow, what is it?"

Handkerchiefs were promptly produced and agitated faces hidden
therein.

Why this was a "blow" of more than usual force, Brother Underwocht
proceeded to explain in a blood-curdling talk of more than an
hour's length, in which he set forth the New Mennonite doctrine
that none outside of the only true faith of Christ, as held and
taught by the New Mennonites, could be saved from the fire which
cannot be quenched. With the heroism born of deep conviction, he
stoically disregarded the feelings of the bereaved family, and
affirmed that the deceased having belonged to one of "the World's
churches," no hope could be entertained for him, nor could his
grieving widow look forward to meeting him again in the heavenly
home to which she, a saved New Mennonite, was destined.

Taking advantage of the fact that at least one third of those
present were non-Mennonites, Brother Underwoeht followed the usual
course of the preachers of his sect on such an occasion, and made
of his funeral sermon an exposition of the whole field of New
Mennonite faith and practice. Beginning in the Garden of Eden, he
graphically described that renowned locality as a type of the
Paradise from which Adam Schunk and others who did not "give
themselves up" were excluded.

"It must have been a magnificent scenery to Almighty Gawd," he
said, referring to the beauties of man's first Paradise. "But how
soon to be snatched by sin from man's mortal vision, when Eve
started that conversation with the enemy of her soul! Beloved,
that was an unfortunate circumstance! And you that are still out
of Christ and in the world, have need to pray fur Gawd's help, his
aid, and his assistance, to enable you to overcome the enemy who
that day was turned loose upon the world--that Gawd may see fit to
have you when you're done here a'ready. Heed the solemn warning of
this poor soul now laying before you cold in death!

    "'Know that you're a transient creature,
    Soon to fade and pass away."

"Even Lazarus, where [who] was raised to life, was not raised fur
never to die no more!"

The only comfort he could offer to this stricken household was
that HE knew how bad they felt, having had a brother who had died
with equal suddenness and also without hope, as he "had suosode
hisself with a gun."

This lengthy sermon was followed by a hymn, sung a line at a time
at the preacher's dictation:

    "The body we now to the grave will commit,
    To there see corruption till Jesus sees fit
    A spirit'al body for it to prepare,
    Which henceforth then shall immortality wear."

The New Mennonites being forbidden by the "Rules of the Meeting"
ever to hear a prayer or sermon by one who is not "a member," it
was necessary, at the end of the Reverend Abram Underwocht's
sermon, for all the Mennonites present to retire to a room apart
and sit behind closed doors, while the Evangelical brother put
forth his false doctrine.

So religiously stirred was Tillie by the occasion that she was
strongly tempted to rise and follow into the kitchen those who
were thus retiring from the sound of the false teacher's voice.
But her conversion not yet being complete, she kept her place.

No doubt it was not so much the character of Brother Underwoclit's
New Mennonite sermon which effected this state in Tillie as that
the spiritual condition of the young girl, just awakening to her
womanhood, with all its mysterious craving, its religious
brooding, its emotional susceptibility, led her to respond with
her whole soul to the first appeal to her feelings.

Absorbed in her mournful contemplation of her own deep "conviction
of sin," she did not heed the singing, led by the Evangelical
brother, of the hymn,

    "Rock of Ages, clept for me,"

nor did she hear a word of his discourse.

At the conclusion of the house services, and before the journey to
the graveyard, the supper was served, first to the mourners, and
then to all those who expected to follow the body to the grave.
The third table, for those who had prepared the meal, and the
fourth, for the hostlers, were set after the departure of the
funeral procession.

Convention has prescribed that the funeral meal shall consist
invariably of cold meat, cheese, all sorts of stewed dried fruits,
pickles, "lemon rice" (a dish never omitted), and coffee.

As no one household possesses enough dishes for such an occasion,
two chests of dishes owned by the Mennonite church are sent to the
house of mourning whenever needed by a member of the Meeting.

The Mennonites present suffered a shock to their feelings upon the
appearance of the widow of the deceased Adam Schunk, for--
unprecedented circumstance!--she wore over her black Mennonite
hood a crape veil! This was an innovation nothing short of
revolutionary, and the brethren and sisters, to whom their
prescribed form of dress was sacred, were bewildered to know how
they ought to regard such a digression from their rigid customs.

"I guess Mandy's proud of herself with her weil," Tillie's
stepmother whispered to her as she gave the girl a tray of coffee-
cups to deliver about the table.

But Tillie's thoughts were inward bent, and she heeded not what
went on about her. Fear of death and the judgment, a longing to
find the peace which could come only with an assured sense of her
salvation, darkness as to how that peace might be found, a sense
of the weakness of her flesh and spirit before her father's
undoubted opposition to her "turning plain," as well as his
certain refusal to supply the wherewithal for her Mennonite garb,
should she indeed be led of the Spirit to "give herself up,"--all
these warring thoughts and emotions stamped their lines upon the
girl's sweet, troubled countenance, as, blind and deaf to her
surroundings, she lent her helping hand almost as one acting in a
trance.





XI

"POP! I FEEL TO BE PLAIN"


The psychical and, considering the critical age of the young girl,
the physiological processes by which Tillie was finally led to her
conversion it is not necessary to analyze; for the experience is
too universal, and differs too slightly in individual cases, to
require comment. Perhaps in Tillie's case it was a more intense
and permanent emotion than with the average convert. Otherwise,
deep and earnest though it was with her, it was not unique.

The New Mennonite sermon which had been the instrument to
determine the channel in which should flow the emotional tide of
her awakening womanhood, had convinced her that if she would be
saved, she dare not compromise with the world by joining one of
those churches as, for instance, the Methodist or the Evangelical,
which permitted every sort of worldly indulgence,--fashionable
dress, attendance at the circus, voting at the polls, musical
instruments, "pleasure-seeking," and many other things which the
Word of God forbade. She must give herself up to the Lord
absolutely and entirely, forswearing all the world's allurements.
The New Mennonites alone, of all the Christian sects, lived up to
this scriptural ideal, and with them Tillie would cast her lot.

This austere body of Christians could not so easily have won her
heart had it forbidden her cherished ambition, constantly
encouraged and stimulated by Miss Margaret, to educate herself.
Fortunately for her peace of mind, the New Mennonites were not,
like the Amish, "enemies to education," though to be sure, as the
preacher, Brother Abram Underwocht, reminded her in her private
talk with him, "To be dressy, or TOO well educated, or stylish,
didn't belong to Christ and the apostles; they were plain folks."

It was in the lull of work that came, even in the Getz family, on
Sunday afternoon, that Tillie, summoning to her aid all the fervor
of her new-found faith, ventured to face the ordeal of opening up
with her father the subject of her conversion.

He was sitting on the kitchen porch, dozing over a big Bible
spread open on his knee. The children were playing on the lawn,
and Mrs. Getz was taking her Sunday afternoon nap on the kitchen
settee.

Tillie seated herself on the porch step at her father's feet. Her
eyes were clear and bright, but her face burned, and her heart
beat heavily in her heaving bosom.

"Pop!" she timidly roused him from his dozing.

"Heh?" he muttered gruffly, opening his eyes and lifting his head.

"Pop, I got to speak somepin to you."

An unusual note in her voice arrested him, and, wide awake now, he
looked down at her inquiringly.

"Well? What, then?"

"Pop! I feel to be plain."

"YOU! Feel fur turnin' plain! Why, you ain't old enough to know
the meanin' of it! What d' you want about that there theology?"

"I'm fourteen, pop. And the Spirit has led me to see the light. I
have gave myself up," she affirmed quietly, but with a quiver in
her voice.

"You have gave yourself up!" her father incredulously repeated.

"Yes, sir. And I'm loosed of all things that belong to the world.
And now I feel fur wearin' the plain dress, fur that's according
to Scripture, which says, 'all is wanity!'"

Never before in her life had Tillie spoken so many words to her
father at one time, and he stared at her in astonishment.

"Yes, you're growin' up, that's so. I ain't noticed how fast you
was growin'. It don't seem no time since you was born. But it's
fourteen years back a'ready--yes, that's so. Well, Tillie, if you
feel fur joinin' church, you're got to join on to the
Evangelicals. I ain't leavin' you follow no such nonsense as to
turn plain. That don't belong to us Getzes. We're Evangelicals
this long time a'ready."

"Aunty Em was a Getz, and SHE's gave herself up long ago."

"Well, she's the only one by the name Getz that I ever knowed to
be so foolish! I'm an Evangelical, and what's good enough fur your
pop will do YOU, I guess!"

"The Evangelicals ain't according to Scripture, pop. They have
wine at the Communion, and the Bible says, 'Taste not, handle
not,' and 'Look not upon the wine when it is red.'"

That she should criticize the Evangelicals and pronounce them
unscriptural was disintegrating to all his ideas of the
subjection, of children. His sun-burned face grew darker.

"Mebbe you don't twist that there Book! Gawd he wouldn't of
created wine to be made if it would be wrong fur to look at it!
You can't come over that, can you? Them Scripture you spoke, just
mean not to drink to drunkenness, nor eat to gluttonness. But," he
sternly added, "it ain't fur you to answer up to your pop! I ain't
leavin' you dress plain--and that's all that's to say!"

"I got to do it, pop," Tillie's low voice answered, "I must obey
to Christ."

"What you sayin' to me? That you got to do somepin I tole you you
haven't the dare to do? Are you sayin' that to ME, Tillie? Heh?"

"I got to obey to Christ," she repeated, her face paling.

"You think! Well, we'll see about that oncet! You leave me see you
obeyin' to any one before your pop, and you'll soon get learnt
better! How do you bring it out that the Scripture says,
'Childern, obey your parents'?"

"'Obey your parents in the Lord,'" Tillie amended.

"Well, you'll be obeyin' to the Scripture AND your parent by
joinin' the Evangelicals. D' you understand?"

"The Evangelicals don't hold to Scripture, pop. They enlist. And
we don't read of Christ takin' any interest in war."

"Yes, but in the Old Dispensation them old kings did it, and
certainly they was good men! They're in the Bible!"

"But we're livin' under the New Dispensation. And a many things is
changed to what they were under the Old. Pop, I can't dress
fashionable any more."

"Now, look here, Tillie, I oughtn't argy no words with you, fur
you're my child and you're got the right to mind me just because I
say it. But can't you see the inconsistentness of the plain
people? Now a New Mennonite he says his conscience won't leave him
wear grand [wear worldly dress] but he'll make his livin' in
Lancaster city by keepin' a jew'lry-store. And yet them Mennonites
won't leave a sister keep a millinery-shop!"

"But," Tillie tried to hold her ground, "there's watches, pop, and
clocks that jew'lers sells. They're useful. We got to have watches
and clocks. Millinery is only pleasing to the eye."

"Well, the women couldn't go bare-headed neither, could they? And
is ear-rings and such things like them useful? And all them fancy
things they keep in their dry-goods stores? Och, they're awful
inconsistent that way! I ain't got no use fur New Mennonites! Why,
here one day, when your mom was livin' yet, I owed a New Mennonite
six cents, and I handed him a dime and he couldn't change it out,
but he sayed he'd send me the four cents. Well, I waited and
waited, and he never sent it. Then I bought such a postal-card and
wrote it in town to him yet. And that didn't fetch the four cents
neither. I wrote to him backward and forward till I had wrote
three cards a'ready, and then I seen I wouldn't gain nothin' by
writin' one more if he did pay me, and if he didn't pay I'd lose
that other cent yet. So I let it. Now that's a New Mennonite fur
you! Do you call that consistentness?"

"But it's the Word of Gawd I go by, pop, not by the weak
brethren."

"Well, you'll go by your pop's word and not join to them New
Mennonites! Now I don't want to hear no more!"

"Won't you buy me the plain garb, pop?"

"Buy you the plain garb! Now look here, Tillie. If ever you ast me
again to leave you join to anything but the Evangelicals, or speak
somepin to me about buyin' you the plain garb, I'm usin' the
strap. Do you hear me?"

"Pop," said Tillie, solemnly, her face very white, "I'll always
obey to you where I can--where I think it's right to. But if you
won't buy me the plain dress and cap, Aunty Em Wackernagel's going
to. She says she never knew what happiness it was to be had in
this life till she gave herself up and dressed plain and loosed
herself from all worldly things. And I feel just like her."

"All right--just you come wearin' them Mennonite costumes 'round
me oncet! I'll burn 'em up like what I burned up them novels where
you lent off of your teacher! And I'll punish you so's you won't
try it a second time to do what I tell you you haven't the dare to
do!"

The color flowed back into Tillie's white face as he spoke. She
was crimson now as she rose from the porch step and turned away
from him to go into the house.

Jake Getz realized, as with a sort of dull wonder his eyes
followed her, that there was a something in his daughter's face
this day, and in the bearing of her young frame as she walked
before him, which he was not wont to see, which he did not
understand, and with which he felt he could not cope. The vague
sense of uneasiness which it gave him strengthened his resolve to
crush, with a strong hand, this budding insubordination.

Two uneventful weeks passed by, during which Tillie's quiet and
dutiful demeanor almost disarmed her father's threatening
watchfulness of her; so that when, one Sunday afternoon, at four
o'clock, she returned from a walk to her Aunty Em Wackernagel's,
clad in the meek garb of the New Mennonites, his amazement at her
intrepidity was even greater than his anger.

The younger children, in high glee at what to them was a most
comical transformation in their elder sister, danced around her
with shrieks of laughter, crying out at the funny white cap which
she wore. and the prim little three-cornered cape falling over her
b'osom, designed modestly to cover the vanity of woman's alluring
form.

Mrs. Getz, mechanically moving about the kitchen to get the
supper, paused in her work only long enough to remark with stupid
astonishment, "Did you, now, get religion, Tillie?"

"Yes, ma'am. I've gave myself up."

"Where did you come by the plain dress?"

"Aunty Em bought it for me and helped me make it."

Her father had followed her in from the porch and now came up to
her as she stood in the middle of the kitchen. The children
scattered at his approach.

"You go up-stairs and take them clo'es off!" he commanded. "I
ain't leavin' you wear 'em one hour in this house!"

"I have no others to put on, pop," Tillie gently answered, her
soft eyes meeting his with an absence of fear which puzzled and
baffled him.

"Where's your others, then?"

"I've let 'em at Aunty Em's. She took 'em in exchange for my plain
dress. She says she can use 'em on 'Manda and Rebecca."

"Then you walk yourself right back over to the hotel and get 'em
back of? of her, and let them clo'es you got on. Go!" he roughly
pointed to the door.

"She wouldn't give 'em back to me. She'd know I hadn't ought to
yield up to temptation, and she'd help me to resist by refusing me
my fashionable clo'es."

"You tell her if you come back home without 'em, I'm whippin' you!
She'll give 'em to you then."

"She'd say my love to Christ ought not to be so weak but I can
bear anything you want to do to me, pop. She had to take an awful
lot off of gran'pop when she turned plain. Pop," she added
earnestly, "no matter what you do to me, I ain't givin' 'way; I'm
standin' firm to serve Christ!"

"We'll see oncet!" her father grimly answered, striding across the
room and taking his strap from its corner in the kitchen cupboard
he grasped Tillie's slender shoulder and lifted his heavy arm.

And now for the first time in her life his wife interposed a word
against his brutality.

"Jake!"

In astonishment he turned to her. She was as pale as her
stepdaughter.

"Jake! If she HAS got religion, you'll have awful bad luck if you
try to get her away from it!"

"I ain't sayin' she can't get RELIGION if she wants! To be sure, I
brung her up to be a Christian. But I don't hold to this here
nonsense of turnin' plain, and I tole her so, and she's got to
obey to me or I'll learn her!"

"You'll have bad luck if you whip her fur somepin like this here,"
his wife repeated. "Don't you mind how when Aunty Em turned plain
and gran'pop he acted to her so ugly that way, it didn't rain fur
two weeks and his crops was spoilt, and he got that boil yet on
his neck! Yes, you'll see oncet," she warned him "if you use the
strap fur somepin like what this is, what you'll mebbe come by
yet!"

"Och, you're foolish!" he answered, but his tone was not
confident. His raised arm dropped to his side and he looked
uneasily into Tillie's face, while he still kept his painful grasp
of her shoulder.

The soft bright eyes of the young girl met his, not with defiance,
but with a light in them that somehow brought before his mind the
look her mother had worn the night she died. Superstition was in
his blood, and he shuddered inwardly at his uncanny sense of
mystery before this unfamiliar, illumined countenance of his
daughter. The exalted soul of the girl cast a spell which even HIS
unsensitive spirit could keenly feel, and something stirred in his
breast--the latent sense of affectionate, protecting fatherhood.

Tillie saw and felt this sudden change in him. She lifted her free
hand and laid it on his arm, her lips quivering. "Father!" she
half whispered.

She had never called him that before, and it seemed strangely to
bring home to him what, in this crisis of his child's life, was
due to her from him, her only living parent.

Suddenly he released her shoulder and tossed away the strap. "I
see I wouldn't be doin' right to oppose you in this here, Tillie.
Well, I'm glad, fur all, that I ain't whippin' you. It goes ag'in'
me to hit you since you was sick that time. You're gettin' full
big, too, to be punished that there way, fur all I always sayed
still I'd never leave a child of mine get ahead of me, no matter
how big they was, so long as they lived off of me. But this here's
different. You're feelin' conscientious about this here matter,
and I ain't hinderin' you."

To Tillie's unspeakable amazement, he laid his hand on her head
and held it there for an instant. "Gawd bless you, my daughter,
and help you to serve the Lord acceptable!"

So that crisis was past.

But Tillie knew, that night, as she rubbed witch-hazel on her sore
shoulder, that a far worse struggle was before her. In seeking to
carry out the determination that burned in her heart to get an
education, no aid could come to her as it had to-day, from her
father's sense of religious awe. Would she be able, she wondered,
to stand firm against his opposition when, a second time, it came
to an issue between them?





XII

ABSALOM KEEPS COMPANY


Tillie wrote to Miss Margaret (she could not learn to call her
Mrs. Lansing) how that she had "given herself up and turned
plain," and Miss Margaret, seeing how sacred this experience was
to the young girl, treated the subject with all respect and even
reverence.

The correspondence between these two, together with the books
which from time to time came to the girl from her faithful friend,
did more toward Tillie's growth and development along lines of
which her parents had no suspicion, than all the schooling at
William Penn, under the instruction of the average "Millersville
Normal," could ever have accomplished.

And her tongue, though still very provincial, soon lost much of
its native dialect, through her constant reading and study.

Of course whenever her father discovered her with her books he
made her suffer.

"You're got education enough a'ready," he would insist. "And too
much fur your own good. Look at me--I was only educated with a
Testament and a spelling-book and a slate. We had no such a
blackboards even, to recite on. And do _I_ look as if I need to
know any more 'n what I know a'ready?"

Tillie bore her punishments like a martyr--and continued
surreptitiously to read and to study whenever and whatever she
could; and not even the extreme conscientiousness of a New
Mennonite faltered at this filial disobedience. She obeyed her
father implicitly, however tyrannical he was, to the point where
he bade her suppress and kill all the best that God had given her
of mind and heart. Then she revolted; and she never for an instant
doubted her entire justification in eluding or defying his
authority.

There was another influence besides her books and Miss Margaret's
letters which, unconsciously to herself, was educating Tillie at
this time. Her growing fondness for stealing off to the woods not
far from the farm, of climbing to the hill-top beyond the creek,
or walking over the fields under the wide sky--not only in the
spring and summer, but at all times of the year--was yielding her
a richness, a depth and breadth, of experience that nothing else
could have given her.

A nature deeply sensitive to the mysterious appeal of sky and
green earth, of deep, shady forest and glistening water, when
unfolding in daily touch with these things, will learn to see life
with a broader, saner mind and catch glimpses and vistas of truth
with a clearer vision than can ever come to one whose most
susceptible years are spent walled in and overtopped by the houses
of the city that shut out and stifle "the larger thought of God."
And Tillie, in spite of her narrowing New Mennonite "convictions,"
did reach through her growing love for and intimacy with Nature a
plane of thought and feeling which was immeasurably above her
perfunctory creed.

Sometimes the emotions excited by her solitary walks gave the
young girl greater pain than happiness--yet it was a pain she
would not have been spared, for she knew, though the knowledge was
never formulated in her thought, that in some precious, intimate
way her suffering set her apart and above the villagers and
farming people about her--those whose placid, contented eyes never
strayed from the potato-patch to the distant hills, or lifted
themselves from the goodly tobacco-fields to the wide blue
heavens.

Thus, cramped and crushing as much of her life was, it had--as all
conditions must have--its compensations; and many of the very
circumstances which at the time seemed most unbearable brought
forth in later years rich fruit.

And so, living under her father's watchful eye and relentless
rule,--with long days of drudgery and outward acquiescence in his
scheme of life that she devote herself, mind, body, and soul, to
the service of himself, his wife, and their children, and in
return to be poorly fed and scantily clad,--Tillie nevertheless
grew up in a world apart, hidden to the sealed vision of those
about her; as unknown to them in her real life as though they had
never looked upon her face; and while her father never for an
instant doubted the girl's entire submission to him, she was day
by day waxing stronger in her resolve to heed Miss Margaret's
constant advice and make a fight for her right to the education
her father had denied her, and for a life other than that to which
his will would consign her.

There were dark times when her steadfast purpose seemed impossible
of fulfilment. But Tillie felt she would rather die in the
struggle than become the sort of apathetic household drudge she
beheld in her stepmother--a condition into which it would be so
easy to sink, once she loosed her wagon from its star.

It was when Tillie was seventeen years old--a slight, frail girl,
with a look in her eyes as of one who lives in two worlds--that
Absalom Puntz, one Sunday evening in the fall of the year, saw her
safe home from meeting and asked permission to "keep comp'ny" with
her.

Now that morning Tillie had received a letter from Miss Margaret
(sent to her, as always, under cover to the doctor), and Absalom's
company on the way from church was a most unwelcome interruption
to her happy brooding over the precious messages of love and
helpfulness which those letters always brought her.

A request for permission to "keep comp'ny" with a young lady meant
a very definite thing in Canaan Township. "Let's try each other,"
was what it signified; and acceptance of the proposition involved
on each side an exclusion of all association with others of the
opposite sex. Tillie of course understood this.

"But you're of the World's people, Absalom," her soft, sweet voice
answered him. They were walking along in the dim evening on the
high dusty pike toward the Getz farm. "And I'm a member of
meeting. I can't marry out of the meeting."

"This long time a'ready, Tillie, I was thinkin' about givin'
myself up and turnin' plain," he assured her. "To be sure, I know
I'd have to, to git you. You've took notice, ain't you, how
reg'lar I 'tend meeting? Well, oncet me and you kin settle this
here question of gittin' married, I'm turnin' plain as soon as I
otherwise [possibly] kin."

"I have never thought about keeping company, Absalom."

"Nearly all the girls around here as old as you has their friend
a'ready."

Absalom was twenty years old, stoutly built and coarse-featured, a
deeply ingrained obstinacy being the only characteristic his heavy
countenance suggested. He still attended the district school for a
few months of the winter term. His father was one of the richest
farmers of the neighborhood, and Absalom, being his only child,
was considered a matrimonial prize.

"Is there nobody left for you but me?" Tillie inquired in a
matter-of-fact tone. The conjugal relation, as she saw it in her
father's home and in the neighborhood, with its entirely practical
basis and utter absence of sentiment, had no attraction or
interest for her, and she had long since made up her mind that she
would none of it.

"There ain't much choice," granted Absalom. "But I anyways would
pick out you, Tillie."

"Why me?"

"I dunno. I take to you. And I seen a'ready how handy you was at
the work still. Mom says, too, you'd make me a good housekeeper."

Tillie never dreamed of resenting this practical approval of her
qualifications for the post with which Absalom designed to honor
her. It was because of her familiarity with such matrimonial
standards as these that from her childhood up she had determined
never to marry. From what she gathered of Miss Margaret's married
life, through her letters, and from what she learned from the
books and magazines which she read, she knew that out in the great
unknown world there existed another basis of marriage. But she did
not understand it and she never thought about it. The strongly
emotional tide of her girlhood, up to this time, had been absorbed
by her remarkable love for Miss Margaret and by her earnest
religiousness.

"There's no use in your wasting your time keeping company with me,
Absalom. I never intend to marry. I've made up my mind."

"Is it that your pop won't leave you, or whatever?"

"I never asked him. I don't know what he would say."

"Mom spoke somepin about mebbe your pop he'd want to keep you at
home, you bein' so useful to him and your mom. But I sayed when
you come eighteen, you're your own boss. Ain't, Tillie?"

"Father probably would object to my marrying because I'm needed at
home," Tillie agreed. "That's why they wouldn't leave me go to
school after I was eleven. But I don't want to marry."

"You leave me be your steady friend, Tillie, and I'll soon get you
over them views," urged Absalom, confidently.

But Tillie shook her head. "It would just waste your time,
Absalom."

In Canaan Township it would have been considered highly
dishonorable for a girl to allow a young man to "sit up with her
Sundays" if she definitely knew she would never marry him. Time
meant money, and even the time spent in courting must be
judiciously used.

"I don't mind if I do waste my time settin' up with you Sundays,
Tillie. I take to you that much, it's something surprising, now!
Will you give me the dare to come next Sunday?"

"If you don't mind wasting your time--" Tillie reluctantly
granted.

"It won't be wasted. I'll soon get you to think different to what
you think now. You just leave me set up with you a couple Sundays
and see!"

"I know I'll never think any different, Absalom. You must not
suppose that I will."

"Is it somepin you're got ag'in' me?" he asked incredulously, for
he knew he was considered a prize. "I'm well-fixed enough, ain't
I? I'd make you a good purvider, Tillie. And I don't addict to no
bad habits. I don't chew. Nor I don't drink. Nor I don't swear
any. The most I ever sayed when I was spited was 'confound it.'"

"It isn't that I have anything against you, Absalom, especially.
But--look here, Absalom, if you were a woman, would YOU marry?
What does a woman gain?"

Absalom stared at her in the dusky evening light of the high road.
To ask of his slow-moving brain that it question the foundations
of the universe and wrestle with a social and psychological
problem like this made the poor youth dumb with bewilderment.

"Why SHOULD a woman get married?" Tillie repeated.

"That's what a woman's FUR," Absalom found his tongue to say.

"She loses everything and gains nothing."

"She gets kep'," Absalom argued.

"Like the horses. Only not so carefully. No, thank you, Absalom. I
can keep myself."

"I'd keep you better 'n your pop keeps you, anyways, Tillie. I'd
make you a good purvider."

"I won't ever marry," Tillie repeated.

"I didn't know you was so funny," Absalom sullenly answered. "You
might be glad I want to be your reg'lar friend."

"No," said Tillie, "I don't care about it."

They walked on in silence for a few minutes. Tillie looked away
into the starlit night and thought of Miss Margaret and wished she
were alone, that her thoughts might be uninterrupted. Absalom, at
her side, kicked up the dust with his heavy shoes, as he sulkily
hung his head.

Presently he spoke again.

"Will you leave me come to see you Sundays, still, if I take my
chancet that I'm wastin' my time?"

"If you'll leave it that way," Tillie acquiesced, "and not hold me
to anything."

"All right. Only you won't leave no one else set up with you,
ain't not?"

"There isn't any one else."

"But some chance time another feller might turn up oncet that
wants to keep comp'ny with you too."

"I won't promise anything, Absalom. If you want to come Sundays to
see me and the folks, you can. That's all I'll say."

"I never seen such a funny girl as what you are!" growled Absalom.

Tillie made no reply, and again they went on in silence.

"Say!" It was Absalom who finally spoke.

Tillie's absent, dreamy gaze came down from the stars and rested
upon his heavy, dull face.

"Ezra Herr he's resigned William Penn. He's gettin' more pay at
Abra'm Lincoln in Janewille. It comes unhandy, his leavin', now
the term's just started and most all the applicants took a'ready.
Pop he got a letter from in there at Lancaster off of
Superintendent Reingruber and he's sendin' us a applicant out till
next Saturday three weeks--fur the directors to see oncet if he'll
do."

Absalom's father was secretary of the Board, and Mr. Getz was the
treasurer.

"Pop he's goin' over to see your pop about it till to-morrow
evenin' a'ready if he can make it suit."

"When does Ezra go?" Tillie inquired. The New Mennonite rule which
forbade the use of all titles had led to the custom in this
neighborhood, so populated with Mennonites, of calling each one by
his Christian name.

"Till next Friday three weeks," Absalom replied. "Pop says he
don't know what to think about this here man Superintendent
Reingruber's sendin' out. He ain't no Millersville Normal. The
superintendent says he's a 'Harvard gradyate'--whatever that is,
pop says! Pop he sayed it ain't familiar with him what that there
is. And I guess the other directors don't know neither. Pop he
sayed when we're payin' as much as forty dollars a month we had
ought, now, to have a Millersville Normal, and nothin' less. Who
wants to pay forty dollars a month fur such a Harvard gradyate
that we don't know right what it is."

"What pay will Ezra get at Janeville?" Tillie asked. Her heart
beat fast as she thought how SHE might, perhaps, in another year
be the applicant for a vacancy at William Penn.

"Around forty-five dollars," Absalom answered.

"Oh!" Tillie said; "it seems so much, don't it?"

"Fur settin' and doin' nothin' but hearin' off spellin' and
readin' and whatever, it's too much! Pop says he's goin' to ast
your pop and the rest of the Board if they hadn't ought to ast
this here Harvard gradyate to take a couple dollars less, seein'
he ain't no Millersville Normal."

They had by this time reached the farm, and Tillie, not very
warmly, asked Absalom whether he would "come in and sit awhile."
She almost sighed audibly as he eagerly consented.

When he had left at twelve o'clock that night, she softly climbed
the stairs to her room, careful not to disturb the sleeping
household. Tillie wondered why it was that every girl of her
acquaintance exulted in being asked to keep company with a
gentleman friend. She had found "sitting up" a more fatiguing task
than even the dreaded Monday's washing which would confront her on
the morrow.

"Seein' it's the first time me and you set up together, I mebbe
better not stay just so late," Absalom had explained when, after
three hours' courting, he had reluctantly risen to take his leave,
under the firm conviction, as Tillie plainly saw, that she felt as
sorry to have him go as evidently he was to part from her!

"How late," thought Tillie, "will he stay the SECOND time he sits
up with me? And what," she wondered, "do other girls see in it?"

The following Sunday night, Absalom came again, and this time he
stayed until one o'clock, with the result that on the following
Monday morning Tillie overslept herself and was one hour late in
starting the washing.

It was that evening, after supper, while Mrs. Getz was helping her
husband make his toilet for a meeting of the School Board--at
which the application of that suspicious character, the Harvard
graduate, was to be considered--that the husband and wife
discussed these significant Sunday night visits. Mrs. Getz opened
up the subject while she performed the wifely office of washing
her husband's neck, his increasing bulk making that duty a rather
difficult one for him. Standing over him as he sat in a chair in
the kitchen, holding on his knees a tin basin full of soapy water,
she scrubbed his fat, sunburned neck with all the vigor and
enthusiasm that she would have applied to the cleaning of the
kitchen porch or the scouring of an iron skillet.

A custom prevailed in the county of leaving one's parlor plainly
furnished, or entirely empty, until the eldest daughter should
come of age; it was then fitted up in style, as a place to which
she and her "regular friend" could retire from the eyes of the
girl's folks of a Sunday night to do their "setting up." The
occasion of a girl's "furnishing" was a notable one, usually
celebrated by a party; and it was this fact that led her
stepmother to remark presently:

"Say, pop, are you furnishin' fur Tillie, now she's comin'
eighteen years old?"

"I ain't thought about it," Mr. Getz answered shortly. "That front
room's furnished good enough a'ready. No--I ain't spendin' any!"

"Seein' she's a member and wears plain, it wouldn't cost wery
expensive to furnish fur her, fur she hasn't the dare to have
nothin' stylish like a organ or gilt-framed landscapes or sich
stuffed furniture that way."

"The room's good enough the way it is," repeated Mr. Getz. "I
don't see no use spendin' on it."

"It needs new paper and carpet. Pop, it'll get put out if you
don't furnish fur her. The neighbors'll talk how you're so close
with your own child after she worked fur you so good still. I
don't like it so well, pop, havin' the neighbors talk."

"Leave 'em talk. Their talkin' don't cost ME nothin'. I AIN'T
furnishin'!" His tone was obstinate and angry.

His wife rubbed him down with a crash towel as vigorously as she
had washed him, then fastened his shirt, dipped the family comb in
the soapy water and began with artistic care to part and comb his
hair.

"Absalom Puntz he's a nice party, pop. He'll be well-fixed till
his pop's passed away a'ready."

"You think! Well, now look here, mom!" Mr. Getz spoke with stern
decision. "Tillie ain't got the dare to keep comp'ny Sundays! It
made her a whole hour late with the washin' this mornin'. I'm
tellin' her she's got to tell Absalom Puntz he can't come no
more."

Mrs. Getz paused with comb poised in air, and her feeble jaw
dropped in astonishment.

"Why, pop!" she said. "Ain't you leavin' Tillie keep comp'ny?"

"No," affirmed Mr. Getz. "I ain't. What does a body go to the
bother of raisin' childern FUR? Just to lose 'em as soon as they
are growed enough to help earn a little? I ain't LEAVIN' Tillie
get married! She's stayin' at home to help her pop and mom--
except in winter when they ain't so much work, and mebbe then I'm
hirin' her out to Aunty Em at the hotel where she can earn a
little, too, to help along. She can easy earn enough to buy the
children's winter clo'es and gums and school-books."

"When she comes eighteen, pop, she'll have the right to get
married whether or no you'd conceited you wouldn't give her the
dare."

"If I say I ain't buyin' her her aus styer, Absalom Puntz nor no
other feller would take her."

An "aus styer" is the household outfit always given to a bride by
her father.

"Well, to be sure," granted Mrs. Getz, "I'd like keepin' Tillie
home to help me out with the work still. I didn't see how I was
ever goin' to get through without her. But I thought when Absalom
Puntz begin to come Sundays, certainly you'd be fur her havin'
him. I was sayin' to her only this mornin' that if she didn't want
to dishearten Absalom from comin' to set up with her, she'd have
to take more notice to him and not act so dopplig with him--like
as if she didn't care whether or no he made up to her. I tole her
I'd think, now, she'd be wonderful pleased at his wantin' her, and
him so well-fixed. Certainly I never conceited you'd be ag'in' it.
Tillie she didn't answer nothin'. Sometimes I do now think
Tillie's some different to what other girls is."

"I'd be glad," said Jacob Getz in a milder tone, "if she ain't set
on havin' him. I was some oneasy she might take it a little hard
when I tole her she darsent get married."

"Och, Tillie she never takes nothin' hard," Mrs. Getz answered
easily. "She ain't never ast me you goin' to furnish fur her. She
don't take no interest. She's so funny that way. I think to
myself, still, Tillie is, now, a little dumm!"

It happened that while this dialogue was taking place, Tillie was
in the room above the kitchen, putting the two most recently
arrived Getz babies to bed; and as she sat near the open register
with a baby on her lap, every word that passed between her father
and stepmother was perfectly audible to her.

With growing bitterness she listened to her father's frank avowal
of his selfish designs. At the same time she felt a thrill of
exultation, as she thought of the cherished secret locked in her
breast--hidden the more securely from those with whom she seemed
to live nearest. How amazed they would be, her stolid,
unsuspicious parents, when they discovered that she had been
secretly studying and, with Miss Margaret's help, preparing
herself for the high calling of a teacher! One more year, now, and
she would be ready, Miss Margaret assured her, to take the county
superintendent's examination for a certificate to teach. Then
good-by to household drudgery and the perpetual self-sacrifice
that robbed her of all that was worth while in life.

With a serene mind, Tillie rose, with the youngest baby in her
arms, and tenderly tucked it in its little bed.





XIII

EZRA HERR, PEDAGOGUE


It was a few days later, at the supper-table, that Tillie's father
made an announcement for which she was not wholly unprepared.

"I'm hirin' you out this winter, Tillie, at the hotel. Aunty Em
says she's leavin' both the girls go to school again this winter
and she'll need hired help. She'll pay me two dollars a week fur
you. She'll pay it to me and I'll buy you what you need, still,
out of it. You're goin' till next Monday."

Tillie's heart leaped high with pleasure at this news. She was
fond of her Aunty Em; she knew that life at the country hotel
would be varied and interesting in comparison with the dull,
grubbing existence of her own home; she would have to work very
hard, of course, but not so hard, so unceasingly, as under her
father's eye; and she would have absolute freedom to devote her
spare time to her books. The thought of escaping from her father's
watchfulness, and the prospect of hours of safe and uninterrupted
study, filled her with secret joy.

"I tole Aunty Em she's not to leave you waste no time readin';
when she don't need you, you're to come home and help mom still.
Mom she says she can't get through the winter sewin' without you.
Well, Aunty Em she says you can sew evenin's over there at the
HOtel, on the childern's clo'es. Mom she can easy get through the
other work without you, now Sallie's goin' on thirteen. Till
December a'ready Sally'll be thirteen. And the winter work's easy
to what the summer is. In summer, to be sure, you'll have to come
home and help me and mom. But in winter I'm hirin' you out."

"But Sally ain't as handy as what Tillie is," said Mrs. Getz,
plaintively. "And I don't see how I'm goin' to get through oncet
without Tillie."

"Sally's got to LEARN to be handier, that's all. She's got to get
learnt like what I always learnt Tillie fur you."

Fire flashed in Tillie's soft eyes--a momentary flame of shame and
aversion; if her blinded father had seen and understood, he would
have realized how little, after all, he had ever succeeded in
"learning" her the subservience he demanded of his children.

As for the warning to her aunt, she knew that it would be ignored;
that Aunty Em would never interfere with the use she made of the
free time allowed her, no matter what her father's orders were to
the contrary.

"And you ain't to have Absalom Puntz comin' over there Sundays
neither," her father added. "I tole Aunty Em like I tole you the
other day, I ain't leavin' you keep comp'ny. I raised you, now you
have the right to work and help along a little. It's little enough
a girl can earn anyways."

Tillie made no comment. Her silence was of course understood by
her father to mean submission; while her stepmother felt in her
heart a contempt for a meekness that would bear, without a word of
protest, the loss of a steady friend so well-fixed and so
altogether desirable as Absalom Puntz.

In Absalom's two visits Tillie had been sufficiently impressed
with the steadiness of purpose and obstinacy of the young man's
character to feel appalled at the fearful task of resisting his
dogged determination to marry her. So confident he evidently was
of ultimately winning her that at times Tillie found herself quite
sharing his confidence in the success of his courting, which her
father's interdict she knew would not interfere with in the least.
She always shuddered at the thought of being Absalom's wife; and a
feeling she could not always fling off, as of some impending doom,
at times buried all the high hopes which for the past seven years
had been the very breath of her life.

Tillie had one especially strong reason for rejoicing in the
prospect of going to the village for the winter. The Harvard
graduate, if elected, would no doubt board at the hotel, or
necessarily near by, and she could get him to lend her books and
perhaps to give her some help with her studies.

The village of New Canaan and all the township were curious to see
this stranger. The school directors had felt that they were
conceding a good deal in consenting to consider the application of
sueh an unknown quantity, when they could, at forty dollars a
month, easily secure the services of a Millersville Normal. But
the stress that had been brought to bear upon them by the county
superintendent, whose son had been a classmate of the candidate,
had been rather too strong to be resisted; and so the "Harvard
gradyate man" was coming.

That afternoon Tillie had walked over in a pouring rain to William
Penn to carry "gums" and umbrellas to her four younger brothers
and sisters, and she had realized, with deep exultation, while
listening to Ezra Herr's teaching, that she was already far better
equipped than was Ezra to do the work he was doing,--and HE was a
Millersville Normal!

It happened that Ezra was receiving a visit from a committee of
Janeville school directors, and he had departed from his every-day
mechanical style of teaching in favor of some fancy methods which
he had imbibed at the Normal School during his attendance at the
spring term, and which he reserved for use on occasions like the
present. Tillie watched him with profound attention, but hardly
with profound respect.

"Childern," Ezra said, with a look of deep thought, as he
impressively paced up and down before the class of small boys and
girls ranged on the platform, "now, childern, what's this reading
lesson ABOUT?"

"'Bout a apple-tree!" answered several eager little voices.

"Yes," said Ezra. "About an apple-tree. Correct. Now, childern--
er--what grows on apple-trees, heh?"

"Apples!" answered the intelligent class.

"Correct. Apples. And--now--what was it that came to the apple-
tree?"

"A little bird."

"Yes. A bird came to the apple tree. Well--er," he floundered for
a moment, then, by a sudden inspiration, "what can a bird do?"

"Fly! and sing!"

"A bird can fly and sing," Ezra nodded. "Very good. Now, Sadie,
you dare begin. I 'll leave each one read a werse."

The next recitation was a Fourth Reader lesson consisting of a
speech of Daniel Webster's, the import of which not one of the
children, if indeed the teacher himself, had the faintest
suspicion. And so the class was permitted to proceed, without
interruption, in its labored conning of the massive eloquence of
that great statesman; and the directors presently took their
departure in the firm conviction that in Ezra Herr they had made a
good investment of the forty-five dollars a month appropriated to
their town out of the State treasury, and they agreed, on their
way back to Janeville, that New Canaan was to be pitied for having
to put up with anything so unheard-of as "a Harvard gradyate or
whatever," after having had the advantages of an educator like
Ezra Herr.

And Tillie, as she walked home with her four brothers and sisters,
hoped, for the sake of her own advancement, that a Harvard
graduate was at least not LESS intelligent than a Millersville
Normal.





XIV

THE HARVARD GRADUATE


That a man holding a Harvard degree should consider so humble an
educational post as that of New Canaan needs a word of
explanation.

Walter Fairchilds was the protege of his uncle, the High Church
bishop of a New England State, who had practically, though not
legally, adopted him, upon the death of his father, when the boy
was fourteen years old, his mother having died at his birth.

It was tacitly understood by Walter that his uncle was educating
him for the priesthood. His life, from the time the bishop took
charge of him until he was ready for college, was spent in Church
boarding-schools.

A spiritually minded, thoughtful boy, of an emotional temperament
which responded to every appeal of beauty, whether of form, color,
sound, or ethics, Walter easily fell in with his uncle's designs
for him, and rivaled him in the fervor of his devotion to the
esthetic ritual of his Church.

His summer vacations were spent at Bar Harbor with the bishop's
family, which consisted of his wife and two anemic daughters. They
were people of limited interests, who built up barriers about
their lives on all sides; social hedges which excluded all
humanity but a select and very dull, uninteresting circle;
intellectual walls which never admitted a stray unconventional
idea; moral demarcations which nourished within them the Mammon of
self-righteousness, and theological harriers which shut out the
sunlight of a broad charity.

Therefore, when in the course of his career at Harvard, Walter
Fairchilds discovered that intellectually he had outgrown not only
the social creed of the divine right of the well-born, in which
these people had educated him, but their theological creed as
well, the necessity of breaking the fact to them, of wounding
their affection for him, of disappointing the fond and cherished
hope with which for years his uncle had spent money upon his
education--the ordeal which he had to face was a fiery one.

When, in deepest sorrow, and with all the delicacy of his
sensitive nature, he told the bishop of his changed mental
attitude toward the problem of religion, it seemed to him that in
his uncle's reception of it the spirit of the Spanish Inquisitors
was revived, so mad appeared to him his horror of this heresy and
his conviction that he, Walter, was a poison in the moral
atmosphere, which must be exterminated at any cost.

In this interview between them, the bishop stood revealed to him
in a new character, and yet Walter seemed to realize that in his
deeper consciousness he had always known him for what he really
was, though all the circumstances of his conventional life had
conduced to hide his real self. He saw, now, how the
submissiveness of his own dreamy boyhood had never called into
active force his guardian's native love of domineering; his
intolerance of opposition; the pride of his exacting will. But on
the first provocation of circumstances, these traits stood boldly
forth.

"Is it for this that I have spent my time and money upon you--to
bring up an INFIDEL?" Bishop Fairchilds demanded, when he had in
part recovered from the first shock of amazement the news had
given him.

"I am not an infidel even if I have outgrown High Church dogmas. I
have a Faith--I have a Religion; and I assure you that I never so
fully realized the vital truth of my religion as I do now--now
that I see things, not in the dim cathedral light, but out under
the broad heavens!"

"How can you dare to question the authority of our Holy Mother,
the Church, whose teachings have come down to us through all these
centuries, bearing the sacred sanction of the most ancient
authority?"

"Old things can rot!" Walter answered.

"And you fancy," the bishop indignantly demanded, "that I will
give one dollar for your support while you are adhering to this
blasphemy? That I will ever again even so much as break bread with
you, until, in humble contrition, you return to your allegiance to
the Church?"

Walter lifted his earnest eyes and met squarely his uncle's
frowning stare. Then the boy rose.

"Nothing, then, is left for me," he said steadily, "but to leave
your home, give up the course of study I had hoped to continue at
Harvard, and get to work."

"You fully realize all that this step must mean?" his uncle coldly
asked him. "You are absolutely penniless."

"In a matter of this kind, uncle, you must realize that such a
consideration could not possibly enter in."

"You have not a penny of your own. The few thousands that your
father left were long ago used up in your school-bills."

"And I am much in your debt; I know it all."

"So you choose poverty and hardship for the sake of this
perversity?"

"Others have suffered harder things for principle."

Thus they parted.

And thus it was, through the suddenness and unexpectedness of the
loss of his home and livelihood, that Walter Fairchilds came to
apply for the position at William Penn.

"HERE, Tillie, you take and go up to Sister Jennie Hershey's and
get some mush. I'm makin' fried mush fur supper," said Aunty Em,
bustling into the hotel kitchen where her niece was paring
potatoes, one Saturday afternoon. "Here's a quarter. Get two
pound."

"Oh, Tillie," called her cousin Rebecca from the adjoining dining-
room, which served also as the family sitting-room, "hurry on and
you'll mebbe be in time to see the stage come in with the new
teacher in. Mebbe you'll see him to speak to yet up at Hershey's."

"Lizzie Hershey's that wonderful tickled that the teacher's going
to board at their place!" said Amanda, the second daughter, a girl
of Tillie's age, as she stood in the kitchen doorway and watched
Tillie put on her black hood over the white Mennonite cap. Stout
Aunty Em also wore the Mennonite dress, which lent a certain
dignity to her round face with its alert but kindly eyes; but her
two daughters were still "of the world's people."

"When Lizzie she tole me about it, comin' out from Lancaster after
market this morning," continued Amanda, "she was now that tickled!
She sayed he's such a good-looker! Och, I wisht he was stoppin'
here; ain't, Tillie? Lizzie'll think herself much, havin' a town
fellah stoppin' at their place."

"If he's stoppin' at Hershey's," said Rebecca, appearing suddenly,
"that ain't sayin' he has to get in with Lizzie so wonderful
thick! I hope he's a JOLLY fellah."

Amanda and Rebecca were now girls of seventeen and eighteen years
--buxom, rosy, absolutely unideal country lasses. Beside them,
frail little Tillie seemed a creature of another clay.

"Lizzie tole me: she sayed how he come up to their market-stall in
there at Lancaster this morning," Amanda related, "and tole her
he'd heard Jonas Hershey's pork-stall at market was where he could
mebbe find out a place he could board at in New Canaan with a
private family--he'd sooner live with a private family that way
than at the HOtel. Well, Lizzie she coaxed her pop right there in
front of the teacher to say THEY'd take him, and Jonas Hershey he
sayed HE didn't care any. So Lizzie she tole him then he could
come to their place, and he sayed he'd be out this after in the
four-o'clock stage."

"Well, and I wonder what her mother has to say to her and Jonas
fixin' it up between 'em to take a boarder and not waitin' to ast
HER!" Aunty Em said. "I guess mebbe Sister Jennie's spited!"

The appellation of "sister" indicated no other relation than that
of the Mennonite church membership, Mrs. Jonas Hershey being also
a New Mennonite.

"Now don't think you have to run all the way there and back,
Tillie," was her aunt's parting injunction. "_I_ don't time you
like what your pop does! Well, I guess not! I take notice you're
always out of breath when you come back from an urrand. It's early
yet--you dare stop awhile and talk to Lizzie."

Tillie gave her aunt a look of grateful affection as she left the
house. Often when she longed to thank her for her many little acts
of kindness, the words would not come. It was the habit of her
life to repress every emotion of her mind, whether of bitterness
or pleasure, and an unconquerable shyness seized upon her in any
least attempt to reveal herself to those who were good to her.

It was four o'clock on a beautiful October afternoon as she walked
up the village street, and while she enjoyed, through all her
sensitive maiden soul, the sweet sunshine and soft autumn
coloring, her thought dwelt with a pleasant expectancy on her
almost inevitable meeting with "the Teacher," if he did indeed
arrive in the stage now due at New Canaan.

Unlike her cousins Amanda and Rebecca, and their neighbor Lizzie
Hershey, Tillie's eagerness to meet the young man was not born of
a feminine hunger for romance. Life as yet had not revealed those
emotions to her except as she had known them in her love for Miss
Margaret--which love was indeed full of a sacred sentiment. It was
only because the teacher meant an aid to the realization of her
ambition to become "educated" that she was interested in his
coming.

It was but a few minutes' walk to the home of Jonas Hershey, the
country pork butcher. As Tillie turned in at the gate, she heard,
with a leap of her heart, the distant rumble of the approaching
stagecoach.

Jonas Hershey's home was probably the cleanest, neatest-looking
red brick house in all the county. The board-walk from the gate to
the door fairly glistened from the effects of soap and water. The
flower-beds, almost painfully neat and free from weeds, were laid
out on a strictly mathematical plan. A border of whitewashed clam-
shells, laid side by side with military precision, set off the
brilliant reds and yellows of the flowers, and a glance at them
was like gazing into the face of the midday sun. Tillie shaded her
dazzled eyes as she walked across the garden to the side door
which opened into the kitchen. It stood open and she stepped in
without ceremony. For a moment she could see nothing but red and
yellow flowers and whitewashed clam-shells. But as her vision
cleared, she perceived her neighbor, Lizzie Hershey, a well-built,
healthy-looking country lass of eighteen years, cutting bread at a
table, and her mother, a large fat woman wearing the Mennonite
dress, standing before a huge kitchen range, stirring "ponhaus" in
a caldron.

The immaculate neatness of the large kitchen gave evidence, as did
garden, board-walk, and front porch, of that morbid passion for
"cleaning up" characteristic of the Dutch housewife.

Jonas Hershey did a very large and lucrative business, and the
work of his establishment was heavy. But he hired no "help" and
his wife and daughter worked early and late to aid him in earning
the dollars which he hoarded.

"Sister Jennie!" Tillie accosted Mrs. Hershey with the New
Mennonite formal greeting, "I wish you the grace and peace of the
Lord."

"The same to you, sister," Mrs. Hershey replied, bending to
receive Tillie's kiss as the girl came up to her at the stove--the
Mennonite interpretation of the command, "Salute the brethren with
a holy kiss."

"Well, Lizzie," was Tillie's only greeting to the girl at the
table. Lizzie was not a member of meeting and the rules forbade
the members to kiss those who were still in the world.

"Well, Tillie," answered Lizzie, not looking up from the bread she
was cutting.

Tillie instantly perceived a lack of cordiality. Something was
wrong. Lizzie's face was sullen and her mother's countenance
looked grim and determined. Tillie wondered whether their evident
ill-humor were in any way connected with herself, or whether her
Aunty Em's surmise were correct, and Sister Jennie was really
"spited."

"I've come to get two pound of mush," she said, remembering her
errand.

"It's all," Mrs. Hershey returned. "We solt every cake at market,
and no more's made yet. It was all a'ready till market was only
half over."

"Aunty Em'll be disappointed. She thought she'd make fried mush
for supper," said Tillie.

"Have you strangers?" inquired Mrs. Hershey.

"No, we haven't anybody for supper, unless some come on the stage
this after. We had four for dinner."

"Were they such agents, or what?" asked Lizzie.

Tillie turned to her. "Whether they were agents? No, they were
just pleasure-seekers. They were out for a drive and stopped off
to eat."

At this instant the rattling old stage-coach drew up at the gate.

The mother and daughter, paying no heed whatever to the sound,
went on with their work, Mrs. Hershey looking a shade more grimly
determined as she stirred her ponhaus and Lizzie more sulky.

Tillie had just time to wonder whether she had better slip out
before the stranger came in, when a knock on the open kitchen door
checked her.

Neither mother nor daughter glanced up in answer to the knock.
Mrs. Hershey resolutely kept her eyes on her caldron as she turned
her big spoon about in it, and Lizzie, with sullen, averted face,
industriously cut her loaf.

A second knock, followed by the appearance of a good-looking,
well-dressed young man on the threshold, met with the same
reception. Tillie, in the background, and hidden by the stove,
looked on wonderingly.

The young man glanced, in evident mystification, at the woman by
the stove and at the girl at the table, and a third time rapped
loudly.

"Good afternoon!" he said pleasantly, an inquiring note in his
voice.

Mrs. Hershey and Lizzie went on with their work as though they had
not heard him.

He took a step into the room, removing his hat. "You were
expecting me this afternoon, weren't you?" he asked.

"This is the place," Lizzie remarked at last.

"You were looking for me?" he repeated.

Mrs. Hershey suddenly turned upon Lizzie. "Why don't you speak?"
she inquired half-tauntingly. "You spoke BEFORE."

Tillie realized that Sister Jennie must be referring to Lizzie's
readiness at market that morning to "speak," in making her
agreement with the young man for board.

"You spoke this morning," the mother repeated. "Why can't you
speak now?"

"Och, why don't you speak yourself?" retorted Lizzie. "It ain't
fur ME to speak!"

The stranger appeared to recognize that he was the subject of a
domestic unpleasantness.

"You find it inconvenient to take me to board?" he hesitatingly
inquired of Mrs. Hershey. "I shouldn't think of wishing to
intrude. There is a hotel in the place, I suppose?"

"Yes. There IS a HOtel in New Canaan."

"I can get board there, no doubt?"

"Well," Mrs. Hershey replied argumentatively, "that's a public
house and this ain't. We never made no practice of takin'
boarders. To be sure, Jonas he always was FUR boarders. But I
AIN'T fur!"

"Oh, yes," gravely nodded the young man. "Yes. I see."

He picked up the dress-suit case which he had set on the sill.
"Where is the hotel, may I ask?"

"Just up the road a piece. You can see the sign out," said Mrs.
Hershey, while Lizzie banged the bread-box shut with an energy
forcibly expressive of her feelings.

"Thank you," responded the gentleman, a pair of keen, bright eyes
sweeping Lizzie's gloomy face.

He bowed, put his hat on his head and stepped out of the house.

There was a back door at the other side of the kitchen. Not
stopping for the ceremony of leave-taking, Tillie slipped out of
it to hurry home before the stranger should reach the hotel.

Her heart beat fast as she hurried across fields by a short-cut,
and there was a sparkle of excitement in her eyes. Her ears were
tingling with sounds to which they were unaccustomed, and which
thrilled them exquisitely--the speech, accent, and tones of one
who belonged to that world unknown to her except through books--
out of which Miss Margaret had come and to which this new teacher,
she at once recognized, belonged. Undoubtedly he was what was
called, by magazine-writers and novel-writers, a "gentleman." And
it was suddenly revealed to Tillie that in real life the
phenomenon thus named was even more interesting than in
literature. The clean cut of the young man's thin face, his pale
forehead, the fineness of the white hand he had lifted to his hat,
his modulated voice and speech, all these things had, in her few
minutes' observation of him, impressed themselves instantly and
deeply upon the girl's fresh imagination.

Out of breath from her hurried walk, she reached the back door of
the hotel several minutes before the teacher's arrival. She had
just time to report to her aunt that Sister Jennie's mush was
"all," and to reply in the affirmative to the eager questions of
Amanda and Rebecca as to whether she had seen the teacher, when
the sound of the knocker on the front door arrested their further
catechism.

"The stage didn't leave out whoever it is--it drove right apast,"
said Aunty Em. "You go, Tillie, and see oncet who is it."

Tillie was sure that she had not been seen by the evicted
applicant for board, as she had been hidden behind the stove. This
impression was confirmed when she now opened the door to him, for
there was no recognition in his eyes as he lifted his hat. It was
the first time in Tillie's life that a man had taken off his hat
to her, and it almost palsied her tongue as she tried to ask him
to come in.

In reply to his inquiry as to whether he could get board here, she
led him into the darkened parlor at the right of a long hall.
Groping her way across the floor to the window she drew up the
blind.

"Just sit down," she said timidly. "I'll call Aunty Em."

"Thank you," he bowed with a little air of ceremony that for an
instant held her spellbound. She stood staring at him--only
recalled to herself and to a sense of shame for her rudeness by
the sudden entrance of her aunt.

"How d' do?" said Mrs. Wackernagel in her brisk, businesslike
tone. "D'you want supper?"

"I am the applicant for the New Canaan school. I want to get board
for the winter here, if I can--and in case I'm elected."

"Well, I say! Tillie! D'you hear that? Why us we all heard you was
goin' to Jonas Hershey's."

"They decided it wasn't convenient to take me and sent me here."

"Now think! If that wasn't like Sister Jennie yet! All right!" she
announced conclusively. "We can accommodate you to satisfaction, I
guess."

"Have you any other boarders?" the young man inquired.

"No reg'lar boarders--except, to be sure, the Doc; and he's lived
with us it's comin' fifteen years, I think, or how long, till
November a'ready. It's just our own fam'ly here and my niece where
helps with the work, and the Doc. We have a many to meals though,
just passing through that way, you know. We don't often have more
'n one reg'lar boarder at oncet, so we just make 'em at home
still, like as if they was one of us. Now YOU," she hospitably
concluded, "we'll lay in our best bed. We don't lay 'em in the
best bed unless they're some clean-lookin'."

Tillie noticed as her aunt talked that while the young man
listened with evident interest, his eyes moved about the room,
taking in every detail of it. To Tillie's mind, this hotel parlor
was so "pleasing to the eye" as to constitute one of those
Temptations of the Enemy against which her New Mennonite faith
prescribed most rigid discipline. She wondered whether the
stranger did not think it very handsome.

The arrangement of the room was evidently, like Jonas Hershey's
flower-beds, the work of a mathematical genius. The chairs all
stood with their stiff backs squarely against the wall, the same
number facing each other from the four sides of the apartment.
Photographs in narrow oval frames, six or eight, formed another
oval, all equidistant from the largest, which occupied the dead
center, not only of this group, but of the wall from which it
depended. The books on the square oak table, which stood in the
exact middle of the floor, were arranged in cubical piles in the
same rigid order. Tillie saw the new teacher's glance sweep their
titles: "Touching Incidents, and Remarkable Answers to Prayer";
"From Tannery to White House"; "Gems of Religious Thought," by
Talmage; "History of the Galveston Horror; Illustrated"; "Platform
Echoes, or Living Truths for Heart and Head," by John B. Gough.

"Lemme see--your name's Fairchilds, ain't?" the landlady abruptly
asked.

"Yes," bowed the young man.

"Will you, now, take it all right if I call you by your Christian
name? Us Mennonites daresent call folks Mr. and Mrs. because us we
don't favor titles. What's your first name now?"

Mr. Fairchilds considered the question with the appearance of
trying to remember. "You'd better call me Pestalozzi," he
answered, with a look and tone of solemnity.

"Pesky Louzy!" Mrs. Waekernagel exclaimed. "Well, now think!
That's a name where ain't familiar 'round here. Is it after some
of your folks?"

"It was a name I think I bore in a previous incarnation as a
teacher of youth," Fairchilds gravely replied.

Mrs. Waekernagel looked blank. "Tillie!" she appealed to her
niece, who had shyly stepped half behind her, "do you know right
what he means?"

Tillie dumbly shook her head.

"Pesky Louzy!" Mrs. Waekernagel experimented with the unfamiliar
name. "Don't it, now, beat all! It'll take me awhile till I'm used
to that a'ready. Mebbe I'll just call you Teacher; ain't?"

She looked at him inquiringly, expecting an answer. "Ain't!" she
repeated in her vigorous, whole-souled way.

"Eh--ain't WHAT?" Fairchilds asked, puzzled.

"Och, I just mean, SAY NOT? Can't you mebbe talk English wery
good? We had such a foreigners at this HOtel a'ready. We had oncet
one, he was from Phil'delphy and he didn't know what we meant
right when we sayed, 'The butter's all any more.' He'd ast like
you, 'All what?' Yes, he was that dumm! Och, well," she added
consolingly, "people can't help fur their dispositions, that way!"

"And what must I call you?" the young man inquired.

"My name's Wackernagel."

"Miss or Mrs.?"

"Well, I guess not MISS anyhow! I'm the mother of four!"

"Oh, excuse me!"

"Oh, that's all right!" responded Mrs. Wackernagel, amiably.
"Well, I must go make supper now. You just make yourself at home
that way."

"May I go to my room?"

"Now?" asked Mrs. Wackernagel, incredulously. "Before night?"

"To unpack my dress-suit case," the young man explained. "My trunk
will be brought out to-morrow on the stage."

"All right. If you want. But we ain't used to goin' up-stairs in
the daytime. Tillie, you take his satchel and show him up. This is
my niece, Tillie Getz."

Again Mr. Fairchilds bowed to the girl as his eyes rested on the
fair face looking out from her white cap. Tillie bent her head in
response, then stooped to pick up the suit case. But he interposed
and took it from her hands--and the touch of chivalry in the act
went to her head like wine.

She led the way up-stairs to the close, musty, best spare bedroom.





XV

THE WACKERNAGELS AT HOME


At the supper-table, the apparently inexhaustible topic of talk
was the refusal of the Hersheys to receive the new teacher into
the bosom of their family. A return to this theme again and again,
on the part of the various members of the Wackernagel household,
did not seem to lessen its interest for them, though the teacher
himself did not take a very animated part in its discussion.
Tillie realized, as with an absorbing interest she watched his
fine face, that all he saw and heard here was as novel to him as
the world whence he had come would be to her and her kindred and
neighbors, could they be suddenly transplanted into it. Tillie had
never looked upon any human countenance which seemed to express so
much of that ideal world in which she lived her real life.

"To turn him off after he got there!" Mrs. Wackernagel exclaimed,
reverting for the third time to the episode which had so excited
the family. "And after Lizzie and Jonas they'd sayed he could come
yet!"

"Well, I say!" Mr. Wackernagel shook his head, as though the
story, even at its third recital, were full of surprises.

Mr. Wackernagel was a tall, raw-boned man with conspicuously large
feet and hands. He wore his hair plastered back from his face in a
unique, not to say distinguished style, which he privately
considered highly becoming his position as the proprietor of the
New Canaan Hotel. Mr. Wackernagel's self-satisfaction did indeed
cover every detail of his life--from the elegant fashion of his
hair to the quality of the whisky which he sold over the bar, and
of which he never tired of boasting. Not only was he entirely
pleased with himself, but his good-natured satisfaction included
all his possessions--his horse first, then his wife, his two
daughters, his permanent boarder, "the Doc," and his wife's niece
Tillie. For people outside his own horizon, he had a tolerant but
contemptuous pity.

Mr. Wackernagel and the doctor both sat at table in their shirt-
sleeves, the proprietor wearing a clean white shirt (his
extravagance and vanity in using two white shirts a week being one
of the chief historical facts of the village), while the doctor
was wont to appear in a brown cotton shirt, the appearance of
which suggested the hostler rather than the physician.

That Fairchilds should "eat in his coat" placed him, in the eyes
of the Wackernagels, on the high social plane of the drummers from
the city, many of whom yearly visited the town with their wares.

"And Teacher he didn't press 'em none, up at Jonas Hershey's, to
take him in, neither, he says," Mrs. Wackernagel pursued.

"He says?" repeated Mr. Wackernagel, inquiringly. "Well, that's
like what I was, too, when I was a young man," he boasted. "If I
thought I ain't wanted when I went to see a young lady--if she
passed any insinyations--she never wasn't worried with ME ag'in!"

"I guess Lizzie's spited that Teacher's stoppin' at our place,"
giggled Rebecca, her pretty face rosy with pleasurable excitement
in the turn affairs had taken. She sat directly opposite Mr.
Fairchilds, while Amanda had the chair at his side.

Tillie could see that the young man's eyes rested occasionally
upon the handsome, womanly form of her very good-looking cousin
Amanda. Men always looked at Amanda a great deal, Tillie had often
observed. The fact had never before had any special significance
for her.

"Are you from Lancaster, or wherever?" the doctor inquired of Mr.
Fairchilds.

"From Connecticut," he replied in a tone that indefinably, but
unmistakably checked further questioning.

"Now think! So fur off as that!"

"Yes, ain't!" exclaimed Mrs. Wackernagel. "It's a wonder a body'd
ever be contented to live that fur off."

"We're had strangers here in this HOtel," Mr. Wackernagel began to
brag, while he industriously ate of his fried sausage and fried
potatoes, "from as fur away as Illinois yet! And from as fur south
as down in Maine! Yes, indeed! Ain't, mom?" he demanded of his
wife.

"Och, yes, many's the strange meals I cooked a'ready in this
house. One week I cooked forty strange meals; say not, Abe?" she
returned.

"Yes, I mind of that week. It was Mrs. Johnson and her daughter we
had from Illinois and Mrs. Snyder from Maine," Abe explained to
Mr. Fairchilds. "And them Johnsons stayed the whole week."

"They stopped here while Mr. Johnson went over the county sellin'
milk-separators," added Mrs. Wackernagel. "And Abe he was in
Lancaster that week, and the Doc he was over to East Donegal, and
there was no man here except only us ladies! Do you mind,
Rebecca?"

Eebecca nodded, her mouth too full for utterance.

"Mrs. Johnson she looked younger than her own daughter yet," Mrs.
Wackernagel related, with animation, innocent of any suspicion
that the teacher might not find the subject of Mrs. Johnson as
absorbing as she found it.

"There is nothing like good health as a preserver of youth,"
responded Fairchilds.

"HOtel-keepin' didn't pay till we got the license," Mr.
Wackernagel chatted confidentially to the stranger. "Mom, to be
sure, she didn't favor my havin' a bar, because she belonged to
meetin'. But I seen I couldn't make nothin' if I didn't. It was
never no temptation to me--I was always among the whisky and I
never got tight oncet. And it ain't the hard work farmin' was. I
had to give up followin' farmin'. I got it so in my leg. Why,
sometimes I can't hardly walk no more."

"And can't your doctor cure you?" Fairchilds asked, with a curious
glance at the unkempt little man across the table.

"Och, yes, he's helped me a heap a'ready. Him he's as good a
doctor as any they're got in Lancaster even!" was the loyal
response. "Here a couple months back, a lady over in East Donegal
Township she had wrote him a letter over here, how the five
different kinds of doses where he give her daughter done her so
much good, and she was that grateful, she sayed she just felt
indebted fur a letter to him! Ain't, Doc? She sayed now her
daughter's engaged to be married and her mind's more settled--and
to be sure, that made somepin too. Yes, she sayed her gettin'
engaged done her near as much good as the five different kind of
doses done her."

"Are you an Allopath?" Fairchilds asked the doctor.

"I'm a Eclectic," he responded glibly. "And do you know, Teacher,
I'd been practisin' that there style of medicine fur near twelve
years before I knowed it was just to say the Eclectic School, you
understand."

"Like Moliere's prose-writer!" remarked the teacher, then smiled
at himself for making such an allusion in such a place.

"Won't you have some more sliced radishes, Teacher?" urged the
hostess. "I made a-plenty."

"No, I thank you," Fairchilds replied, with his little air of
courtesy that so impressed the whole family. "I can't eat radishes
in the evening with impunity."

"But these is with WINEGAR," Mrs. Wackernagel corrected him.

Before Mr. Fairchilds could explain, Mr. Wackernagel broke in,
confirming the doctor's proud claim.

"Yes, Doc he's a Eclectic," he repeated, evidently feeling that
the fact reflected credit on the hotel. "You can see his sign on
the side door."

"I was always interested in science," explained the doctor, under
the manifest impression that he was continuing the subject. "Phe-
non-e-ma. That's what I like. Odd things. I'm stuck on 'em! Now
this here wireless teleGRAPHY. I'm stuck on that, you bet! To me
that there's a phe-non-e-ma."

"Teacher," interrupted Mrs. Wackernagel, "you ain't eatin' hearty.
Leave me give you some more sausage."

"If you please," Mr. Fairchilds bowed as he handed his plate to
her.

"Why don't you leave him help hisself," protested Mr. Wackernagel.
"He won't feel to make hisself at home if he can't help hisself
like as if he was one of us that way."

"Och, well," confessed Mrs. Wackernagel, "I just keep astin' him
will he have more, so I can hear him speak his manners so nice."
She laughed aloud at her own vanity. "You took notice of it too,
Tillie, ain't? You can't eat fur lookin' at him!"

A tide of color swept Tillie's face as the teacher, with a look of
amusement, turned his eyes toward her end of the table. Her glance
fell upon her plate, and she applied herself to cutting up her
untouched sausage.

"Now, there's Doc," remarked Amanda, critically, "he's GOT good
manners, but he don't use 'em."

"Och," said the doctor, "it ain't worth while to trouble."

"I think it would be wonderful nice, Teacher," said Mrs.
Wackernagel, "if you learnt them manners you got to your scholars
this winter. I wisht 'Manda and Rebecca knowed such manners.
THEY're to be your scholars this winter."

"Indeed?" said Fairchilds; "are they?"

"'Manda there," said her father, "she's so much fur actin' up
you'll have to keep her right by you to keep her straight, still."

"That's where I shall be delighted to keep her," returned
Fairchilds, gallantly, and Amanda laughed boisterously and grew
several shades rosier as she looked boldly up into the young man's
eyes.

"Ain't you fresh though!" she exclaimed coquettishly.

How dared they all make so free with this wonderful young man,
marveled Tillie. Why didn't they realize, as she did, how far
above them he was? She felt almost glad that in his little
attentions to Amanda and Rebecca he had scarcely noticed her at
all; for the bare thought of talking to him overwhelmed her with
shyness.

"Mind Tillie!" laughed Mr. Wackernagel, suddenly, "lookin' scared
at the way yous are all talkin' up to Teacher! Tillie she's afraid
of you," he explained to Mr. Fairchilds. "She ain't never got her
tongue with her when there's strangers. Ain't, Tillie?"

Tillie's burning face was bent over her plate, and she did not
attempt to answer. Mr. Fairchilds' eyes rested for an instant on
the delicate, sensitive countenance of the girl. But his attention
was diverted by an abrupt exclamation from Mrs. Wackernagel.

"Oh, Abe!" she suddenly cried, "you ain't tole Teacher yet about
the Albright sisters astin' you, on market, what might your name
be!"

The tone in which this serious omission was mentioned indicated
that it was an anecdote treasured among the family archives.

"Now, I would mebbe of forgot that!" almost in consternation said
Mr. Wackernagel. "Well," he began, concentrating his attention
upon the teacher, "it was this here way. The two Miss Albrights
they had bought butter off of us, on market, for twenty years back
a'ready, and all that time we didn't know what was their name, and
they didn't know ourn; fur all, I often says to mom, 'Now I wonder
what's the name of them two thin little women.' Well, you see, I
was always a wonderful man fur my jokes. Yes, I was wery fond of
makin' a joke, still. So here one day the two sisters come along
and bought their butter, and then one of 'em she says, 'Excuse me,
but here I've been buyin' butter off of yous fur this twenty years
back a'ready and I ain't never heard your name. What might your
name BE?' Now I was such a man fur my jokes, still, so I says to
her"--Mr. Wackernagel's whole face twinkled with amusement, and
his shoulders shook with laughter as he contemplated the joke he
had perpetrated--"I says, 'Well, it MIGHT be Gener'l Jackson'"--
laughter again choked his utterance, and the stout form of Mrs.
Wackernagel also was convulsed with amusement, while Amanda and
Rebecca giggled appreciatively. Tillie and the doctor alone
remained unaffected. "'It might be Gener'l Jackson,' I says. 'But
it ain't. It's Abe Wackernagel,' I says. You see," he explained,
"she ast me what MIGHT my name be.--See?--and I says 'It might be
Jackson'--MIGHT be, you know, because she put it that way, what
might it be. 'But it ain't,' I says. 'It's Wackernagel.'"

Mr. and Mrs. Wackernagel and their daughters leaned back in their
chairs and gave themselves up to prolonged and exuberant laughter,
in which the teacher obligingly joined as well as he was able.

When this hilarity had subsided, Mr. Wackernagel turned to Mr.
Fairchilds with a question. "Are you mebbe feelin' oneasy,
Teacher, about meetin' the school directors to-night? You know
they meet here in the HOtel parlor at seven o'clock to take a look
at you; and if you suit, then you and them signs the agreement."

"And if I don't suit?"

"They'll turn you down and send you back home!" promptly answered
the doctor. "That there Board ain't conferrin' William Penn on no
one where don't suit 'em pretty good! They're a wonderful
partic'lar Board!"

Aiter supper the comely Amanda agreed eagerly to the teacher's
suggestion that she go with him for a walk, before the convening
of the School Board at seven o'clock, and show him the school-
house, as he would like to behold, he said, "the seat of learning"
which, if the Board elected him, was to be the scene of his
winter's campaign.

Amanda improved this opportunity to add her word of warning to
that of the doctor.

"That there Board's awful hard to suit, still. Oncet they got a
Millersville Normal out here, and when she come to sign they seen
she was near-sighted that way, and Nathaniel Puntz--he's a
director--he up and says that wouldn't suit just so well, and they
sent her back home. And here oncet a lady come out to apply and
she should have sayed [she is reported to have said] she was
afraid New Canaan hadn't no accommodations good enough fur her,
and the directors ast her, 'Didn't most of our Presidents come out
of log cabins?' So they wouldn't elect her. Now," concluded
Amanda, "you see!"

"Thanks for your warning. Can you give me some pointers?"

"What's them again?"

"Well, I must not be near-sighted, for one thing, and I must not
demand 'all the modern improvements.' Tell me what manner of man
this School Board loves and admires. To be in the dark as to their
tastes, you know--"

"You must make yourself nice and common," Amanda instructed him.
"You haven't dare to put on no city airs. To be sure, I guess they
come a good bit natural to you, and, as mom says still, a body
can't help fur their dispositions; but our directors is all plain
that way and they don't like tony people that wants to come out
here and think they're much!"

"Yes? I see. Anything else?"

"Well, they'll be partic'lar about your bein' a perfessor."

"How do you mean?"

Amanda looked at him in astonishment. "If you're a perfessor or
no. They'll be sure to ast you."

Mr. Fairchilds thoughtfully considered it.

"You mean," he said, light coming to him, "they will ask me
whether I am a professor of religion, don't you?"

"Why, to be sure!"

"Oh!"

"And you better have your answer ready."

"What, in your judgment, may I ask, would be a suitable answer to
that?"

"Well, ARE you a perfessor?"

"Oh, I'm anything at all that will get me this 'job.' I've got to
have it as a makeshift until I can get hold of something better.
Let me see--will a Baptist do?"

"Are you a Baptist?" the girl stolidly asked.

"When circumstances are pressing. Will they be satisfied with a
Baptist?"

"That's one of the fashionable churches of the world," Amanda
replied gravely. "And the directors is most all Mennonites and
Amish and Dunkards. All them is PLAIN churches and loosed of the
world, you know."

"Oh, well, I'll wriggle out somehow! Trust to luck!" Fairchilds
dismissed the subject, realizing the injudiciousness of being too
confidential with this girl on so short an acquaintance.

At the momentous hour of seven, the directors promptly assembled.
When Tillie, at her aunt's request, carried two kerosene lamps
into the parlor, a sudden determination came to the girl to remain
and witness the reception of the new teacher by the School Board.

She was almost sick with apprehension lest the Board should
realize, as she did, that this Harvard graduate was too fine for
such as they. It was an austere Board, hard to satisfy, and there
was nothing they would so quickly resent and reject as evident
superiority in an applicant. The Normal School students, their
usual candidates, were for the most part, though not always, what
was called in the neighborhood "nice and common." The New Canaan
Board was certainly not accustomed to sitting in judgment upon an
applicant such as this Pestalozzi Fairchilds. (Tillie's religion
forbade her to call him by the vain and worldly form of Mr.)

No one noticed the pale-faced girl as, after placing one lamp on
the marble-topped table about which the directors sat and another
on the mantelpiece, she moved quietly away to the farthest corner
of the long, narrow parlor and seated herself back of the stove.

The applicant, too, when he came into the room, was too much taken
up with what he realized to be the perils of his case to observe
the little watcher in the corner, though he walked past her so
close that his coat brushed her shoulder, sending along her
nerves, like a faint electric shock, a sensation so novel and so
exquisite that it made her suddenly close her eyes to steady her
throbbing head.

There were present six members of the Board--two Amishmen, one Old
Mennonite, one patriarchal-looking Dunkard, one New Mennonite, and
one Evangelical, the difference in their religious creeds being
attested by their various costumes and the various cuts of beard
and hair. The Evangelical, the New Mennonite, and the Amishmen
were farmers, the Dunkard kept the store and the post-office, and
the Old Mennonite was the stage-driver. Jacob Getz was the
Evangelical; and Nathaniel Puntz, Absalom's father, the New
Mennonite.

The investigation of the applicant was opened up by the president
of the Board, a long-haired Amishman, whose clothes were fastened
by hooks and eyes instead of buttons and buttonholes, these latter
being considered by his sect as a worldly vanity.

"What was your experience a'ready as a teacher?"

Fairchilds replied that he had never had any.

Tillie's heart sank as, from her post in the corner, she heard
this answer. Would the members think for one moment of paying
forty dollars a month to a teacher without experience? She was
sure they had never before done so. They were shaking their heads
gravely over it, she could see.

But the investigation proceeded.

"What was your Persuasion then?"

Tillie saw, in the teacher's hesitation, that he did not
understand the question.

"My 'Persuasion'? Oh! I see. You mean my Church?"

"Yes, what's your conwictions?"

He considered a moment. Tillie hung breathlessly upon his answer.
She knew how much depended upon it with this Board of "plain"
people. Could he assure them that he was "a Bible Christian"?
Otherwise, they would never elect him to the New Canaan school. He
gave his reply, presently, in a tone suggesting his having at that
moment recalled to memory just what his "Persuasion" was. "Let me
see--yes--I'm a Truth-Seeker."

"What's that again?" inquired the president, with interest. "I
have not heard yet of that Persuasion."

"A Truth-Seeker," he gravely explained, "is one who believes in--
eh--in a progress from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a
definite, coherent heterogeneity."

The members looked at each other cautiously.

"Is that the English you're speakin', or whatever?" asked the
Dunkard member. "Some of them words ain't familiar with me till
now, and I don't know right what they mean."

"Yes, I'm talking English," nodded the applicant. "We also
believe," he added, growing bolder, "in the fundamental,
biogenetic law that ontogenesis is an abridged repetition of
philogenesis."

"He says they believe in Genesis," remarked the Old Mennonite,
appealing for aid, with bewildered eyes, to the other members.

"Maybe he's a Jew yet!" put in Nathaniel Puntz. "We also believe,"
Mr. Fairchilds continued, beginning to enjoy himself, "in the
revelations of science."

"He believes in Genesis and in Revelations," explained the
president to the others.

"Maybe he's a Cat'lic!" suggested the suspicious Mr. Puntz.

"No," said Fairchilds, "I am, as I said, a Truth-Seeker. A Truth-
Seeker can no more be a Catholic or a Jew in faith than an
Amishman can, or a Mennonite, or a Brennivinarian."

Tillie knew he was trying to say "Winebrennarian," the name of one
of the many religious sects of the county, and she wondered at his
not knowing better.

"You ain't a gradyate, neither, are you?" was the president's next
question, the inscrutable mystery of the applicant's creed being
for the moment dropped.

"Why, yes, I thought you knew that. Of Harvard."

"Och, that!" contemptuously; "I mean you ain't a gradyate of
Millersville Normal?"

"No," humbly acknowledged Fairchilds.

"When I was young," Mr. Getz irrelevantly remarked, "we didn't
have no gradyate teachers like what they have now, still. But we
anyhow learnt more ACCORDING."

"How long does it take you to get 'em from a, b, c's to the
Testament?" inquired the patriarchal Dunkard.

"That depends upon the capacity of the pupil," was Mr.
Fairchilds's profound reply.

"Can you learn 'em 'rithmetic good?" asked Nathaniel Puntz. "I got
a son his last teacher couldn't learn 'rithmetic to. He's
wonderful dumm in 'rithmetic, that there boy is. Absalom by name.
After the grandfather. His teacher tried every way to learn him to
count and figger good. He even took and spread toothpicks out yet
--but that didn't learn him neither. I just says, he ain't
appointed to learn 'rithmetic. Then the teacher he tried him with
such a Algebry. But Absalom he'd get so mixed up!--he couldn't
keep them x's spotted."

"I have a method," Mr. Fairchilds began, "which I trust--"

To Tillie's distress, her aunt's voice, at this instant calling
her to "come stir the sots [yeast] in," summoned her to the
kitchen.

It was very hard to have to obey. She longed so to stay till
Fairchilds should come safely through his fiery ordeal. For a
moment she was tempted to ignore the summons, but her conscience,
no less than her grateful affection for her aunt, made such
behavior impossible. Softly she stole out of the room and
noiselessly closed the door behind her.

A half-hour later, when her aunt and cousins had gone to bed, and
while the august School Board still occupied the parlor, Tillie
sat sewing in the sitting-room, while the doctor, at the other
side of the table, nodded over his newspaper.

Since Tillie had come to live at the hotel, she and the doctor
were often together in the evening; the Doc was fond of a chat
over his pipe with the child whom he so helped and befriended in
her secret struggles to educate herself. There was, of course, a
strong bond of sympathy and friendship between them in their
common conspiracy with Miss Margaret, whom the doctor had never
ceased to hold in tender memory.

Just now Tillie's ears were strained to catch the sounds of the
adjourning of the Board. When at last she heard their shuffling
footsteps in the hall, her heart beat fast with suspense. A moment
more and the door leading from the parlor opened and Fairchilds
came out into the sitting-room.

Tillie did not lift her eyes from her sewing, but the room seemed
suddenly filled with his presence.

"Well!" the doctor roused himself to greet the young man; "were
you 'lected?"

Breathlessly, Tillie waited to hear his answer.

"Oh, yes; I've escaped alive!" Fairchilds leaned against the table
in an attitude of utter relaxation. "They roasted me brown,
though! Galileo at Rome, and Martin Luther at Worms, had a dead
easy time compared to what I've been through!"

"I guess!" the doctor laughed. "Ain't!"

"I'm going to bed," the teacher announced in a tone of collapse.
"Good night!"

"Good night!" answered the doctor, cordially.

Fairchilds drew himself up from the table and took a step toward
the stairway; this brought him to Tillie's side of the table, and
he paused a moment and looked down upon her as she sewed.

Her fingers trembled, and the pulse in her throat beat
suffocatingly, but she did not look up.

"Good night, Miss--Tillie, isn't it?"

"Matilda Maria," Tillie's soft, shy voice replied as her eyes,
full of light, were raised, for an instant, to the face above her.

The man smiled and bowed his acknowledgment; then, after an
instant's hesitation, he said, "Pardon me: the uniform you and
Mrs. Wackernagel wear--may I ask what it is?"

"'Uniform'?" breathed Tillie, wonderingly. "Oh, you mean the garb?
We are members of meeting. The world calls us New Mennonites."

"And this is the uni--the garb of the New Mennonites?"

"Yes, sir."

"It is a very becoming garb, certainly," Fairchilds smiled, gazing
down upon the fair young girl with a puzzled look in his own face,
for he recognized, not only in her delicate features, and in the
light of her beautiful eyes, but also in her speech, a something
that set her apart from the rest of this household.

Tillie colored deeply at his words, and the doctor laughed
outright.

"By gum! They wear the garb to make 'em look UNbecomin'! And he
ups and tells her it's becomin' yet! That's a choke, Teacher! One
on you, ain't? That there cap's to hide the hair which is a pride
to the sek! And that cape over the bust is to hide woman's
allurin' figger. See? And you ups and tells her it's a becomin'
UNYFORM! Unyforms is what New Mennonites don't uphold to! Them's
fur Cat'lics and 'Piscopals--and fur warriors--and the Mennonites
don't favor war! Unyforms yet!" he laughed. "I'm swanged if that
don't tickle me!"

"I stand corrected. I beg pardon if I've offended," Fairchilds
said hastily. "Miss--Matilda--I hope I've not hurt your feelings?
Believe me, I did not mean to."

"Och!" the doctor answered for her, "Tillie she ain't so easy hurt
to her feelin's, are you, Tillie? Gosh, Teacher, them manners you
got must keep you busy! Well, sometimes I think I'm better off if
I stay common. Then I don't have to bother."

The door leading from the bar-room opened suddenly and Jacob Getz
stood on the threshold.

"Well, Tillie," he said by way of greeting. "Uncle Abe sayed you
wasn't went to bed yet, so I stopped to see you a minute."

"Well, father," Tillie answered as she put down her sewing and
came up to him.

Awkwardly he bent to kiss her, and Tillie, even in her emotional
excitement, realized, with a passing wonder, that he appeared glad
to see her after a week of separation.

"It's been some lonesome, havin' you away," he told her.

"Is everybody well?" she asked.

"Yes, middlin'. You was sewin', was you?" he inquired, glancing at
the work on the table.

"Yes, sir."

"All right. Don't waste your time. Next Saturday I 'll stop off
after market on my way out from Lancaster and see you oncet, and
get your wages off of Aunty Em."

"Yes, sir."

A vague idea of something unusual in the light of Tillie's eyes
arrested him. He glanced suspiciously at the doctor, who was
speaking in a low tone to the teacher.

"Look-ahere, Tillie. If Teacher there wants to keep comp'ny with
one of yous girls, it ain't to be you, mind. He ain't to be makin'
up to you! I don't want you to waste your time that there way."

Apprehensively, Tillie darted a sidelong glance at the teacher to
see if he had heard--for though no tender sentiment was associated
in her mind with the idea of "keeping company," yet intuitively
she felt the unseemliness of her father's warning and its
absurdity in the eyes of such as this stranger.

Mr. Fairchilds was leaning against the table, his arms folded, his
lips compressed and his face flushed. She was sure that he had
overheard her father. Was he angry, or--almost worse--did that
compressed mouth mean concealed amusement?

"Well, now, I must be goin'," said Mr. Getz. "Be a good girl,
mind. Och, I 'most forgot to tell you. Me and your mom's conceited
we'd drive up to Puntz's Sunday afternoon after the dinner work's
through a'ready. And if Aunty Em don't want you partic'lar, you're
to come home and mind the childern, do you hear?"

"Yes, sir."

"Now, don't forget. Well, good-by, then."

Again he bent to kiss her, and Tillie felt Fairchilds's eyes upon
her, as unresponsively she submitted to the caress.

"Good night to you, Teacher." Mr. Getz gruffly raised his voice to
speak to the pair by the table. "And to you, Doc."

They answered him and he went away. When Tillie slowly turned back
to the table, the teacher hastily took his leave and moved away to
the stairway at the other end of the room. As she took up her
sewing, she heard him mount the steps and presently close and lock
the door of his room at the head of the stairs.

"He was, now, wonderful surprised, Tillie," the doctor confided to
her, "when I tole him Jake Getz was your pop. He don't think your
pop takes after you any. I says to him, 'Tillie's pop, there,
bein' one of your bosses, you better make up to Tillie,' I says,
and he sayed, 'You don't mean to tell me that that Mr. Getz of the
School Board is the father of this girl?' 'That's what,' I says.
'He's that much her father,' I says, 'that you'd better keep on
the right side of him by makin' up to Tillie,' I says, just to
plague him. And just then your pop up and sayed if Teacher wanted
to keep comp'ny he must pick out 'Manda or Rebecca--and I seen
Teacher wanted to laugh, but his manners wouldn't leave him. He
certainly has, now, a lot of manners, ain't, Tillie?"

Tillie's head was bent over her sewing and she did not answer.

The doctor yawned, stretched himself, and guessed he would step
into the bar-room.

Tillie bent over her sewing for a long time after she was left
alone. The music of the young man's grave voice as he had spoken
her name and called her "Miss Matilda" sang in her brain. The
fascination of his smile as he had looked down into her eyes, and
the charm of his chivalrous courtesy, so novel to her experience,
haunted and intoxicated her. And tonight, Tillie felt her soul
flooded with a life and light so new and strange that she trembled
as before a miracle.

Meanwhile, Walter Fairchilds, alone in his room, his mind too full
of the events and characters to which the past day had introduced
him to admit of sleep, was picturing, with mingled amusement and
regret, the genuine horror of his fastidious relatives could they
know of his present environment, among people for whom their
vocabulary had but one word--a word which would have consigned
them all, even that sweet-voiced, clear-eyed little Puritan,
Matilda Maria, to outer darkness; and that he, their adopted son
and brother, should be breaking bread and living on a footing of
perfect equality with these villagers he knew would have been, in
their eyes, an offense only second in heinousness to that of his
apostasy.





XVI

THE WACKERNAGELS "CONWERSE"


The next day, being the Sabbath, brought to Tillie two of the
keenest temptations she had ever known. In the first place, she
did not want to obey her father and go home after dinner to take
care of the children. All in a day the hotel had become to her the
one haven where she would be, outside of which the sun did not
shine.

True, by going home she might hope to escape the objectionable
Sunday evening sitting-up with Absalom; for in spite of the note
she had sent him, telling him of her father's wish that he must
not come to see her at the hotel, she was unhappily sure that he
would appear as usual. Indeed, with his characteristic dogged
persistency, he was pretty certain to follow her, whithersoever
she went. And even if he did not, it would be easier to endure the
slow torture of his endless visit under this roof, which sheltered
also that other presence, than to lose one hour away from its
wonderful and mysterious charm.

"Now, look here, Tillie," said Aunty Em, at the breakfast-table,
"you worked hard this week, and this after you're restin'--
leastways, unless you WANT to go home and take care of all them
litter of childern. If you don't want to go, you just stay--and
_I'll_ take the blame! I'll say I needed you."

"Let Jake Getz come 'round HERE tryin' to bully you, Tillie,"
exclaimed Mr. Wackernagel, "and it won't take me a week to tell
him what I think of HIM! I don't owe HIM nothin'!"

"No," agreed Jake Getz's sister, "we don't live off of him!"

"And I don't care who fetches him neither!" added Mr. Wackernagel
--which expression of contempt was one of the most scathing known
to the tongue of a Pennsylvania Dutchman.

"What are you goin' to do, Tillie?" Amanda asked. "Are you goin'
or stayin'?"

Tillie wavered a moment between duty and inclination; between the
habit of servility to her father and the magic power that held her
in its fascinating spell here under her uncle's roof.

"I'm staying," she faltered.

"Good fur you, Tillie!" laughed her uncle. "You're gettin' learnt
here to take your own head a little fur things. Well, I'd like to
get you spoilt good fur your pop--that's what I'd like to do!"

"We darsent go too fur," warned Aunty Em, "or he won't leave her
stay with us at all."

"Now there's you, Abe," remarked the doctor, dryly; "from the time
your childern could walk and talk a'ready all you had to say was
'Go'--and they stayed. Ain't?"

Mr. Wackernagel joined in the loud laughter of his wife and
daughters.

Tillie realized that the teacher, as he sipped his coffee, was
listening to the dialogue with astonishment and curiosity, and she
hungered to know all that was passing through his mind.

Her second temptation came to her upon hearing Fairchilds, as they
rose from the breakfast-table, suggest a walk in the woods with
Amanda and Rebecca. "And won't Miss Tillie go too?" he inquired.

Her aunt answered for her. "Och, she wouldn't have dare, her bein'
a member, you know. It would be breakin' the Sabbath. And anyways,
even if it wasn't Sunday, us New Mennonites don't take walks or do
anything just fur pleasure when they ain't nothin' useful in it.
If Tillie went, I'd have to report her to the meetin', even if it
did go ag'in' me to do it."

"And then what would happen?" Mr. Fairchilds inquired curiously.

"She'd be set back."

"'Set back'?"

"She wouldn't have dare to greet the sisters with a kiss, and she
couldn't speak with me or eat with me or any of the brothers and
sisters till she gave herself up ag'in and obeyed to the rules."

"This is very interesting," commented Fairchilds, his
contemplative gaze moving from the face of Mrs. Wackernagel to
Tillie. "But," he questioned, "Mrs. Wackernagel, why are your
daughters allowed to do what you think wrong and would not do?"

"Well," began Aunty Em, entering with relish into the discussion,
for she was strong in theology, "we don't hold to forcin' our
childern or interferin' with the free work of the Holy Spirit in
bringin' souls to the truth. We don't do like them fashionable
churches of the world where teaches their childern to say their
prayers and makes 'em read the Bible and go to Sunday-school. We
don't uphold to Sunday-schools. You can't read nothin' in the
Scripture about Sunday-schools. We hold everybody must come by
their free will, and learnt only of the Holy Spirit, into the
light of the One True Way."

Fairchilds gravely thanked her for her explanation and pursued the
subject no further.

When Tillie presently saw him start out with her cousins, an
unregenerate longing filled her soul to stay away from meeting and
go with them, to spend this holy Sabbath day in worshiping, not
her God, but this most god-like being who had come like the
opening up of heaven into her simple, uneventful life. In her
struggle with her conscience to crush such sinful desires, Tillie
felt that now, for the first time, she understood how Jacob of old
had wrestled with the Angel.

Her spiritual struggle was not ended by her going dutifully to
meeting with her aunt. During all the long services of the morning
she fought with her wandering attention to keep it upon the sacred
words that were spoken and sung. But her thoughts would not be
controlled. Straying like a wicked imp into forbidden paths, her
fancy followed the envied ones into the soft, cool shadows of the
autumn woods and along the banks of the beautiful Conestoga, and
mingling with the gentle murmuring of the leaves and the rippling
of the water, she heard that resonant voice, so unlike any voice
she had ever heard before, and that little abrupt laugh with its
odd falsetto note, which haunted her like a strain of music; and
she saw, in the sunlight of the lovely October morning, against a
background of gold and brown leaves and silver water, the finely
chiseled face, the thoughtful, pale forehead, the kind eyes, the
capable white hands, of this most wonderful young man.

Tillie well understood that could the brethren and sisters know in
what a worldly frame of mind she sat in the house of God this day,
undoubtedly they would present her case for "discipline," and
even, perhaps, "set her back." But all the while that she tried to
fight back the enemy of her soul, who thus subtly beset her with
temptation to sin, she felt the utter uselessness of her struggle
with herself. For even when she did succeed in forcing her
attention upon some of the hymns, it was in whimsical and
persistent terms of the teacher that she considered them. How was
it possible, she wondered, for him, or any unconverted soul, to
hear, without being moved to "give himself up," such lines as
these:

     "He washed them all to make them clean,
     But Judas still was full of sin.
     May none of us, like Judas, sell
     Our Lord for gold, and go to hell!"

And these:

     "O man, remember, thou must die;
     The sentence is for you and I.
     Where shall we be, or will we go,
     When we must leave this world below?"

In the same moment that Tillie was wondering how a "Truth-Seeker"
would feel under these searching words, she felt herself condemned
by them for her wandering attention.

The young girl's feelings toward the stranger at this present
stage of their evolution were not, like those of Amanda and
Rebecca, the mere instinctive feminine craving for masculine
admiration. She did not think of herself in relation to him at
all. A great hunger possessed her to know him--all his thoughts,
his emotions, the depths and the heights of him; she did not long,
or even wish, that he might know and admire HER.

The three-mile drive home from church seemed to Tillie, sitting in
the high, old-fashioned buggy at her aunt's side, an endless
journey. Never had old Dolly traveled so deliberately or with more
frequent dead stops in the road to meditate upon her long-past
youth. Mrs. Wackernagel's ineffectual slaps of the reins upon the
back of the decrepit animal inspired in Tillie an inhuman longing
to seize the whip and lash the feeble beast into a swift pace. The
girl felt appalled at her own feelings, so novel and inexplicable
they seemed to her. Whether there was more of ecstasy or torture
in them, she hardly knew.

Immediately after dinner the teacher went out and did not turn up
again until evening, when he retired immediately to the seclusion
of his own room.

The mystification of the family at this unaccountably unsocial
behavior, their curiosity as to where he had been, their suspense
as to what he did when alone so long in his bedroom, reached a
tension that was painful.

Promptly at half-past six, Absalom, clad in his Sunday suit,
appeared at the hotel, to perform his weekly stint of sitting-up.

As Rebecca always occupied the parlor on Sunday evening with her
gentleman friend, there was only left to Absalom and Tillie to sit
either in the kitchen or with the assembled family in the sitting-
room. Tillie preferred the latter. Of course she knew that such
respite as the presence of the family gave her was only temporary,
for in friendly consideration of what were supposed to be her
feelings in the matter, they would all retire early. Absalom also
knowing this, accepted the brief inconvenience of their presence
without any marked restiveness.

"Say, Absalom," inquired the doctor, as the young man took up his
post on the settee beside Tillie, sitting as close to her as he
could without pushing her off, "how did your pop pass his opinion
about the new teacher after the Board meeting Saturday, heh?"

The doctor was lounging in his own special chair by the table, his
fat legs crossed and his thumbs thrust into his vest arms. Amanda
idly rocked back and forth in a large luridly painted rocking-
chair by the window, and Mrs. Wackernagel sat by the table before
an open Bible in which she was not too much absorbed to join
occasionally in the general conversation.

"He sayed he was afraid he was some tony," answered Absalom.
"And," he added, a reflection in his tone of his father's
suspicious attitude on Saturday night toward Fairchilds, "pop
sayed HE couldn't make out what was his conwictions. He couldn't
even tell right was he a Bible Christian or no."

"He certainly does, now, have pecooliar views," agreed the doctor.
"I was talkin' to him this after--"

"You WAS!" exclaimed Amanda, a note of chagrin in her voice.
"Well, I'd like to know where at? Where had he took himself to?"

"Up to the woods there by the old mill. I come on him there at
five o'clock--layin' readin' and musin'--when I was takin' a short
cut home through the woods comin' from Adam Oberholzer's."

"Well I never!" cried Amanda. "And was he out there all by hisself
the whole afternoon?" she asked incredulously.

"So much as I know. AIN'T he, now, a queer feller not to want a
girl along when one was so handy?" teased the doctor.

"Well," retorted Amanda, "I think he's hard up--to be spendin' a
whole afternoon READIN'!"

"Oh, Doc!" Tillie leaned forward and whispered, "he's up in his
room and perhaps he can hear us through the register!"

"I wisht he KIN," declared Amanda, "if it would learn him how dumm
us folks thinks a feller where spends a whole Sunday afternoon by
hisself READIN'!"

"Why, yes," put in Mrs. Wackernagel; "what would a body be wantin'
to waste time like that fur?--when he could of spent his nice
afternoon settin' there on the porch with us all, conwersin'."

"And he's at it ag'in this evenin', up there in his room," the
doctor informed them. "I went up to give him my lamp, and I'm
swanged if he ain't got a many books and such pamp'lets in his
room! As many as ten, I guess! I tole him: I says, 'It does, now,
beat all the way you take to them books and pamp'lets and
things!'"

"It's a pity of him!" said motherly Mrs. Wackernagel.

"And I says to him," added the doctor, "I says, 'You ain't much
fur sociability, are you?' I says."

"Well, I did think, too, Amanda," sympathized her mother, "he'd
set up with you mebbe to-night, seein' Rebecca and Tillie's each
got their gent'man comp'ny--even if he didn't mean it fur really,
but only to pass the time."

"Och, he needn't think I'm dyin' to set up with HIM! There's a
plenty others would be glad to set up with me, if I was one of
them that was fur keepin' comp'ny with just ANYbody! But I did
think when I heard he was goin' to stop here that mebbe he'd be a
JOLLY feller that way. Well," Amanda concluded scathingly, "I'm
goin' to tell Lizzie Hershey she ain't missin' much!"

"What's them pecooliar views of hisn you was goin' to speak to us,
Doc?" said Absalom.

"Och, yes, I was goin' to tell you them. Well, here this after we
got to talkin' about the subjeck of prayer, and I ast him his
opinion. And if I understood right what he meant, why, prayin' is
no different to him than musin'. Leastways, that's the thought I
got out of his words."

"Musin'," repeated Absalom. "What's musin'?"

"Yes, what's that ag'in?" asked Mrs. Wackernagel, alert with
curiosity, theological discussions being always of deep interest
to her.

"Musin' is settin' by yourself and thinkin' of your learnin',"
explained the doctor. "I've took notice, this long time back,
educated persons they like to set by theirselves, still, and
muse."

"And do you say," demanded Absalom, indignantly, "that Teacher he
says it's the same to him as prayin'--this here musin'?"

"So much as I know, that's what he sayed."

"Well," declared Absalom, "that there ain't in the Bible! He'd
better watch out! If he ain't a Bible Christian, pop and Jake Getz
and the other directors'll soon put him off William Penn!"

"Och, Absalom, go sass your gran'mom!" was the doctor's elegant
retort. "What's ailin' YOU, anyways, that you want to be so spunky
about Teacher? I guess you're mebbe thinkin' he'll cut you out
with Tillie, ain't?"

"I'd like to see him try it oncet!" growled Absalom.

Tillie grew cold with fear that the teacher might hear them; but
she knew there was no use in protesting.

"Are you goin' to keep on at William Penn all winter, Absalom?"
Mrs. Wackernagel asked.

"Just long enough to see if he kin learn 'rithmetic to me. Ezra
Herr, he was too dumm to learn me."

"Mebbe," said the doctor, astutely, "you was too dumm to GET
learnt!"

"I AM wonderful dumm in 'rithmetic," Absalom acknowledged
shamelessly. "But pop says this here teacher is smart and kin
mebbe learn me. I've not saw him yet myself."

Much as Tillie disliked being alone with her suitor, she was
rather relieved this evening when the family, en masse,
significantly took its departure to the second floor; for she
hoped that with no one but Absalom to deal with, she could induce
him to lower his voice so their talk would not be audible to the
teacher in the room above.

Had she been able but faintly to guess what was to ensue on her
being left alone with him, she would have fled up-stairs with the
rest of the family and left Absalom to keep company with the
chairs.





XVII

THE TEACHER MEETS ABSALOM


Only a short time had the sitting-room been abandoned to them when
Tillie was forced to put a check upon her lover's ardor.

"Now, Absalom," she firmly said, moving away from his encircling
arm, "unless you leave me be, I'm not sitting on the settee
alongside you at all. You MUST NOT kiss me or hold my hand--or
even touch me. Never again. I told you so last Sunday night."

"But why?" Absalom asked, genuinely puzzled. "Is it that I
kreistle you, Tillie?"

"N--no," she hesitated. An affirmative reply, she knew, would be
regarded as a cold-blooded insult. In fact, Tillie herself did not
understand her own repugnance to Absalom's caresses.

"You act like as if I made you feel repulsive to me, Tillie," he
complained.

"N--no. I don't want to be touched. That's all."

"Well, I'd like to know what fun you think there is in settin' up
with a girl that won't leave a feller kiss her or hug her!"

"I'm sure I don't know what you do see in it, Absalom. I told you
not to come."

"If I ain't to hold your hand or kiss yon, what are we to do to
pass the time?" he reasoned.

"I'll tell you, Absalom. Let me read to you. Then we wouldn't be
wasting the evening."

"I ain't much fur readin'. I ain't like Teacher." He frowned and
looked at her darkly. "I've took notice how much fur books you are
that way. Last Sunday night, too, you sayed, 'Let me read somepin
to you.' Mebbe you and Teacher will be settin' up readin'
together. And mebbe the Doc wasn't just jokin' when he sayed
Teacher might cut me out!"

"Please, Absalom," Tillie implored him, "don't talk so loud!"

"I don't care! I hope he hears me sayin' that if he ever comes
tryin' to get my girl off me, I 'll get pop to have him put off
his job!"

"None of you know what you are talking about," Tillie indignantly
whispered. "You can't understand. The teacher is a man that
wouldn't any more keep company with one of us country girls than
you would keep company, Absalom, with a gipsy. He's ABOVE us!"

"Well, I guess if you're good enough fur me, Tillie Getz, you're
good enough fur anybody else--leastways fur a man that gets his
job off the wotes of your pop and mine!"

"The teacher is a--a gentleman, Absalom."

Absalom did not understand. "Well, I guess I know he ain't a lady.
I guess I know what his sek is!"

Tillie sighed in despair, and sank back on the settee. For a few
minutes they sat in strained silence.

"I never seen a girl like what you are! You're wonderful different
to the other girls I've knew a'ready."

Tillie did not reply.

"Where d'you come by them books you read?"

"The Doc gets them for me."

"Well, Tillie, look-ahere. I spoke somepin to the Doc how I wanted
to fetch you somepin along when I come over sometime, and I ast
him what, now, he thought you would mebbe like. And he sayed a
book. So I got Cousin Sally Puntz to fetch one along fur me from
the Methodist Sunday-school li-bry, and here I brung it over to
you."

He produced a small volume from his coat pocket.

"I was 'most ashamed to bring it, it's so wonderful little. I tole
Cousin Sally, 'Why didn't you bring me a bigger book?' And she
sayed she did try to get a bigger one, but they was all. There's
one in that li-bry with four hunderd pages. I tole her, now, she's
to try to get me that there one next Sunday before it's took by
somebody. This one's'most too little."

Tillie smiled as she took it from him. "Thank you, Absalom. I
don't care if it's LITTLE, so long as it's interesting--and
instructive," she spoke primly.

"The Bible's such a big book, I thought the bigger the book was,
the nearer it was like the Bible," said Absalom.

"But there's the dictionary, Absalom. It's as big as the Bible."

"Don't the size make nothin'?" Absalom asked.

Tillie shook her head, still smiling. She glanced down and read
aloud the title of the book she held: "'What a Young Husband Ought
to Know.'"

"But, Absalom!" she faltered.

"Well? What?"

She looked up into his heavy, blank face, and suddenly a faint
sense of humor seemed born in her--and she laughed.

The laugh illumined her face, and it was too much for Absalom. He
seized her and kissed her, with resounding emphasis, squarely on
the mouth.

Instantly Tillie wrenched herself away from him and stood up. Her
face was flushed and her eyes sparkled. And yet, she was not
indignant with him in the sense that a less unsophisticated girl
would have been. Absalom, according to New Canaan standards, was
not exceeding his rights under the circumstances. But an instinct,
subtle, undefined, incomprehensible to herself, contradicted,
indeed, by every convention of the neighborhood in which she had
been reared, made Tillie feel that in yielding her lips to this
man for whom she did not care, and whom, if she could hold out
against him, she did not intend to marry, she was desecrating her
womanhood. Vague and obscure as her feeling was, it was strong
enough to control her.

"I meant what I said, Absalom. If you won't leave me be, I won't
stay here with you. You'll have to go home, for now I'm going
right up-stairs."

She spoke with a firmness that made the dull youth suddenly
realize a thing of which he had never dreamed, that however
slightly Tillie resembled her father in other respects, she did
have a bit of his determination.

She took a step toward the stairs, but Absalom seized her skirts
and pulled her back. "You needn't think I'm leavin' you act like
that to me, Tillie!" he muttered, his ardor whetted by the
difficulties of his courting. "Now I'll learn you!" and holding
her slight form in his burly grasp he kissed her again and again.

"Leave me go!" she cried. "I'll call out if you don't! Stop it,
Absalom!"

Absalom laughed aloud, his eyes glittering as he felt her womanly
helplessness in his strong clasp.

"What you goin' to do about it, Tillie? You can't help yourself--
you got to get kissed if you want to or no!" And again his
articulate caresses sounded upon her shrinking lips, and he roared
with laughter in his own satisfaction and in his enjoyment of her
predicament. "You can't help yourself," he said, crushing her
against him in a bearish hug.

"Absalom!" the girl's voice rang out sharply in pain and fear.

Then of a sudden Absalom's wrists were seized in a strong grip,
and the young giant found his arms pinned behind him.

"Now, then, Absalom, you let this little girl alone. Do you
understand?" said Fairchilds, coolly, as he let go his hold on the
youth and stepped round to his side.

Absalom's face turned white with fury as he realized who had dared
to interfere. He opened his lips, but speech would not come to
him. Clenching his fingers, he drew back his arm, but his heavy
fist, coming swiftly forward, was caught easily in Fairchilds's
palm--and held there.

"Come, come," he said soothingly, "it isn't worth while to row,
you know. And in the presence of the lady!"

"You mind to your OWN business!" spluttered Asalom, struggling to
free his hand, and, to his own surprise, failing. Quickly he drew
back his left fist and again tried to strike, only to find it too
caught and held, with no apparent effort on the part of the
teacher. Tillie, at first pale with fright at what had promised to
be so unequal a contest in view of the teacher's slight frame and
the brawny, muscular strength of Absalom, felt her pulses bound
with a thrill of admiration for this cool, quiet force which could
render the other's fury so helpless; while at the same time she
felt sick with shame.

"Blame you!" cried Absalom, wildly. "Le' me be! It don't make
nothin' to you if I kiss my girl! I don't owe YOU nothin'! You le'
me be!"

"Certainly," returned Fairchilds, cheerfully. "Just stop annoying
Miss Tillie, that's all I want."'

He dropped the fellow's hands and deliberately drew out his
handkerchief to wipe his own.

A third time Absalom made a furious dash at him, to find his two
wrists caught in the vise-like grip of his antagonist.

"Tut, tut, Absalom, this is quite enough. Behave yourself, or I
shall be obliged to hurt you."

"YOU--you white-faced, woman-faced mackerel! YOU think you kin
hurt me! You--"

"Now then," Fairchilds again dropped Absalom's hands and picked up
from the settee the book which the youth had presented to Tillie.
"Here, Absalom, take your 'What a Young Husband Ought to Know' and
go home."

Something in the teacher's quiet, confident tone cowed Absalom
completely--for the time being, at least. He was conquered. It was
very bewildering. The man before him was not half his weight and
was not in the least ruffled. How had he so easily "licked" him?
Absalom, by reason of his stalwart physique and the fact that his
father was a director, had, during most of his school life, found
pleasing diversion in keeping the various teachers of William Penn
cowed before him. He now saw his supremacy in that quarter at an
end--physically speaking at least. There might be a moral point of
attack.

"Look-ahere!" he blustered. "Do you know my pop's Nathaniel Puntz,
the director?"

"You are a credit to him, Absalom. By the way, will you take a
message to him from me? Tell him, please, that the lock on the
school-room door is broken, and I'd be greatly obliged if he would
send up a lock-smith to mend it."

Absalom looked discouraged. A Harvard graduate was, manifestly, a
freak of nature--invulnerable at all points.

"If pop gets down on you, you won't be long at William Penn!" he
bullied. "You'll soon get chased off your job!"

"My job at breaking you in? Well, well, I might be spending my
time more profitably, that's so."

"You go on out of here and le' me alone with my girl!" quavered
Absalom, blinking away tears of rage.

"That will be as she says. How is it, Miss Tillie? Do you want him
to go?"

Now Tillie knew that if she allowed Absalom Puntz to leave her in
his present state of baffled anger, Fairchilds would not remain in
New Canaan a month. Absalom was his father's only child, and
Nathaniel Puntz was known to be both suspicious and vindictive.
"Clothed in a little brief authority," as school director, he
never missed an opportunity to wield his precious power.

With quick insight, Tillie realized that the teacher would think
meanly of her if, after her outcry at Absalom's amorous benavior,
she now inconsistently ask that he remain with her for the rest of
the evening. But what the teacher might think about HER did not
matter so much as that he should be saved from the wrath of
Absalom.

"Please leave him stay," she answered in a low voice.

Fairchilds gazed in surprise upon the girl's sweet, troubled face.
"Let him stay?"

"Yes."

"Then perhaps my interference was unwelcome?"

"I thank you, but--I want him to stay."

"Yes? I beg pardon for my intrusion. Good night."

He turned away somewhat abruptly and left the room.

And Tillie was again alone with Absalom.

IN his chamber, getting ready for bed, Fairchilds's thoughts idly
dwelt upon the strange contradictions he seemed to see in the
character of the little Mennonite maiden. He had thought that he
recognized in her a difference from the rest of this household--a
difference in speech, in feature, in countenance, in her whole
personality. And yet she could allow the amorous attentions of
that coarse, stupid cub; and her protestations against the
fellow's liberties with her had been mere coquetry. Well, he would
be careful, another time, how he played the part of a Don Quixote.

Meantime Tillie, with suddenly developed histrionic skill, was, by
a Spartan self-sacrifice in submitting to Absalom's love-making,
overcoming his wrath against the teacher. Absalom never suspected
how he was being played upon, or what a mere tool he was in the
hands of this gentle little girl, when, somewhat to his own
surprise, he found himself half promising that the teacher should
not be complained of to his father. The infinite tact and scheming
it required on Tillie's part to elicit this assurance without
further arousing his jealousy left her, at the end of his
prolonged sitting-up, utterly exhausted.

Yet when at last her weary head found her pillow, it was not to
rest or sleep. A haunting, fearful certainty possessed her. "Dumm"
as he was, Absalom, in his invulnerable persistency, had become to
the tired, tortured girl simply an irresistible force of Nature.
And Tillie felt that, struggle as she might against him, there
would come a day when she could fight no longer, and so at last
she must fall a victim to this incarnation of Dutch determination.





XVIII

TILLIE REVEALS HERSELF


In the next few days, Tillie tried in vain to summon courage to
appeal to the teacher for assistance in her winter's study. Day
after day she resolved to speak to him, and as often postponed it,
unable to conquer her shyness. Meantime, however, under the
stimulus of his constant presence, she applied herself in every
spare moment to the school-books used by her two cousins, and in
this unaided work she succeeded, as usual, in making headway.

Fairehilds's attention was arrested by the frequent picture of the
little Mennonite maiden conning school-books by lamp-light.

One evening he happened to be alone with her for a few minutes in
the sitting-room. It was Hallowe'en, and he was waiting for Amanda
to come down from her room, where she was arraying herself for
conquest at a party in the village, to which he had been invited
to escort her.

"Studying all alone?" he inquired sociably, coming to the table
where Tillie sat. and looking down upon her.

"Yes," said Tillie, raising her eyes for an instant.

"May I see!"

He bent to look at her book, pressing it open with his palm, and
the movement brought his hand in contact with hers. Tillie felt
for an instant as if she were going to swoon, so strangely
delicious was the shock.

"'Hiawatha,'" he said, all unconscious of the tempest in the
little soul apparently so close to him, yet in reality so
immeasurably far away. "Do you enjoy it?" he inquired curiously.

"Oh, yes"; then quickly she added, "I am parsing it."

"Oh!" There was a faint disappointment in his tone.

"But," she confessed, "I read it all through the first day I began
to parse it, and--and I wish I was parsing something else, because
I keep reading this instead of parsing it, and--"

"You enjoy the story and the poetry?" he questioned.

"But a body mustn't read just for pleasure," she said timidly;
"but for instruction; and this 'Hiawatha' is a temptation to me."

"What makes you think you ought not to read 'just for pleasure'?"

"That would be a vanity. And we Mennonites are loosed from the
things of the world."

"Do you never do anything just for the pleasure of it?"

"When pleasure and duty go hand in hand, then pleasure is not
displeasing to God. But Christ, you know, did not go about seeking
pleasure. And we try to follow him in all things."

"But, child, has not God made the world beautiful for our
pleasure? Has he not given us appetites and passions for our
pleasure?--minds and hearts and bodies constructed for pleasure?"

"Has he made anything for pleasure apart from usefulness?" Tillie
asked earnestly, suddenly forgetting her shyness.

"But when a thing gives pleasure it is serving the highest
possible use," he insisted. "It is blasphemous to close your
nature to the pleasures God has created for you. Blasphemous!"

"Those thoughts have come to me still," said Tillie. "But I know
they were sent to me by the Enemy."

"'The Enemy'?"

"The Enemy of our souls."

"Oh!" he nodded; then abruptly added, "Now do you know, little
girl, I wouldn't let HIM bother me at this stage of the game, if I
were you! He's a back number, really!" He checked himself,
remembering how dangerous such heresies were in New Canaan. "Don't
you find it dull working alone?" he asked hastily, "and rather
uphill?"

"It is often very hard."

"Often? Then you have been doing it for some time?"

"Yes," Tillie answered hesitatingly. No one except the doctor
shared her secret with Miss Margaret. Self-concealment had come to
be the habit of her life--her instinct for self-preservation. And
yet, the teacher's evident interest, his presence so close to her,
brought all her soul to her lips. She had a feeling that if she
could overcome her shyness, she would he able to speak to him as
unrestrainedly, as truly, as she talked in her letters to Miss
Margaret.

"Do you have no help at all?" he pursued.

Could she trust him with the secret of Miss Margaret's letters?
The habit of secretiveness was too strong upon her. "There is no
one here to help me--unless YOU would sometimes," she timidly
answered.

"I am at your service always. Nothing could give me greater
pleasure."

"Thank you." Her face flushed with delight.

"You have, of course, been a pupil at William Penn?" he asked.

"Yes, but father took me out of school when I was twelve. Ever
since then I've been trying to educate myself, but--" she lifted
troubled eyes to his face, "no one here knows it but the doctor.
No one must know it."

"Trust me," he nodded. "But why must they not know it?"

"Father would stop it if he found it out."

"Why?"

"He wouldn't leave me waste the time."

"You have had courage--to have struggled against such odds."

"It has not been easy. But--it seems to me the things that are
worth having are never easy to get."

Fairchilds looked at her keenly.

"'The things that are worth having'? What do you count as such
things?"

"Knowledge and truth; and personal freedom to be true to one's
self."

He concealed the shock of surprise he felt at her words. "What
have we here?" he wondered, his pulse quickening as he looked into
the shining upraised eyes of the girl and saw the tumultuous
heaving of her bosom. He had been right after all, then, in
feeling that she was different from the rest of them! He could see
that it was under the stress of unusual emotion that she gave
expression to thoughts which of necessity she must seldom or never
utter to those about her.

"'Personal freedom to be true to one's self'?" he repeated. "What
would it mean to you if you had it?"

"Life!" she answered. "I am only a dead machine, except when I am
living out my true self."

He deliberately placed his hand on hers as it lay on the table.
"You make me want to clasp hands with you. Do you realize what a
big truth you have gotten hold of--and all that it involves?"

"I only know what it means to me."

"You are not free to be yourself?"

"I have never drawn a natural breath except in secret."

Tillie's face was glowing. Scarcely did she know herself in this
wonderful experience of speaking freely, face to face, with one
who understood.

"My own recent experiences of life," he said gravely, "have
brought me, too, to realize that it is death in life not to be
true to one's self. But if you wait for the FREEDOM to be so--" he
shrugged his shoulders. "One always has that freedom if he will
take it--at its fearful cost. To be uncompromisingly and always
true to one's self simply means martyrdom in one form or another."

He, too, marveled that he should have found any one in this
household to whom he could speak in such a vein as this.

"I always thought," Tillie said, "that when I was enough educated
to be a teacher and be independent of father, I would be free to
live truly. But I see that YOU cannot. You, too, have to hide your
real self. Else you could not stay here in New Canaan."

"Or anywhere else, child," he smiled. "It is only with the rare
few whom one finds on one's own line of march that one can be
absolutely one's self. Your secret life, Miss Tillie, is not
unique."

A fascinating little brown curl had escaped from Tillie's cap and
lay on her cheek, and she raised her hand to push it back where it
belonged, under its snowy Mennonite covering.

"Don't!" said Fairchilds. "Let it be. It's pretty!"

Tillie stared up at him, a new wonder in her eyes.

"In that Mennonite cap, you look like--like a Madonna!" Almost
unwittingly the words had leaped from his lips; he could not hold
them back. And in uttering them, it came to him that in the
freedom permissible to him with an unsophisticated but interesting
and gifted girl like this--freedom from the conventional
restraints which had always limited his intercourse with the girls
of his own social world--there might be possible a friendship such
as he had never known except with those of his own sex--and. with
them but rarely. The thought cheered him mightily; for his life in
New Canaan was heavy with loneliness.

With the selfishness natural to man, he did not stop to consider
what such companionship might come to mean to this inexperienced
girl steeped in a life of sordid labor and unbroken monotony.

There came the rustle of Amanda's skirts on the stairs.

Fairchilds clasped Tillie's passive hand. "I feel that I have
found a friend to-night."

Amanda, brilliant in a scarlet frock and pink ribbons, appeared in
the doorway. The vague, almost unseeing look with which the
teacher turned to her was interpreted by the vanity of this buxom
damsel to be the dazzled vision of eyes half blinded by her
radiance.

For a long time after they had gone away together, Tillie sat with
her face bowed upon her book, happiness surging through her with
every great throb of her heart.

At last she rose, picked up the lamp and carried it into the
kitchen to the little mirror before which the family combed their
hair. Holding the lamp high, she surveyed her features. As long as
her arm would bear the weight of the uplifted lamp, she gazed at
her reflected image.

When presently with trembling arm she set it on the dresser,
Tillie, like Mother Eve of old, had tasted of the Tree of
Knowledge. Tillie knew that she was very fair.

That evening marked another crisis in the girl's inner life. Far
into the night she lay with her eyes wide open, staring into the
darkness, seeing there strange new visions of her own soul, gazing
into its hitherto unsounded depths and seeing there the heaven or
the hell--she scarcely knew which--that possessed all her being.

"Blasphemous to close your nature to the pleasures God has created
for you!" His words burned themselves into her brain. Was it to an
abyss of degradation that her nature was bearing her in a swift
and fatal tide--or to a holy height of blessedness? Alternately
her fired imagination and awakened passion exalted her adoration
of him into an almost religious joy, making her yearn to give
herself to him, soul and body, as to a god; then plunged her into
an agony of remorse and terror at her own idolatry and
lawlessness.

A new universe was opened up to her, and all of life appeared
changed. All the poetry and the stories which she had ever read
held new and wonderful meanings. The beauty in Nature, which, even
as a child, she had felt in a way she knew those about her could
never have understood, now spoke to her in a language of infinite
significance. The mystery, the wonder, the power of love were
revealed to her, and her soul was athirst to drink deep at this
magic fountain of living water.

"You look like a Madonna!" Oh, surely, thought Tillie, in the long
hours of that wakeful night, this bliss which filled her heart WAS
a temptation of the Evil One, who did not scruple to use even such
as the teacher for an instrument to work her undoing! Was not his
satanic hand clearly shown in these vain and wicked thoughts which
crowded upon her--thoughts of how fair she would look in a red
gown like Amanda's, or in a blue hat like Rebecca's, instead of in
her white cap and black hood? She crushed her face in her pillow
in an agony of remorse for her own faithlessness, as she felt how
hideous was that black Mennonite hood and all the plain garb which
hitherto had stood to her for the peace, the comfort, the
happiness, of her life! With all her mind, she tried to force back
such wayward, sinful thoughts, but the more she wrestled with
them, the more persistently did they obtrude themselves.

On her knees she passionately prayed to be delivered from the
temptation of such unfaithfulness to her Lord, even in secret
thought. Yet even while in the very act of pleading for mercy,
forgiveness, help, to her own unutterable horror she found herself
wondering whether she would dare brave her father's wrath and ask
her aunt, in the morning, to keep back from her father a portion
of her week's wages that she might buy some new white caps, her
old ones being of poor material and very worn.

It was a tenet of her church that "wearing-apparel was instituted
by God as a necessity for the sake of propriety and also for
healthful warmth, but when used for purposes of adornment it
becomes the evidence of an un-Christlike spirit." Now Tillie knew
that her present yearning for new caps was prompted, not by the
praiseworthy and simple desire to be merely neat, but wholly by
her vain longing to appear more fair in the eyes of the teacher.

Thus until the small hours of the morning did the young girl
wrestle with the conflicting forces in her soul.

But the Enemy had it all his own way; for when Tillie went down-
stairs next morning to help her aunt get breakfast, she knew that
she intended this day to buy those new caps in spite of the
inevitable penalty she would have to suffer for daring to use her
own money without her father's leave.

And when she walked into the kitchen, her aunt was amazed to see
the girl's fair face looking out from a halo of tender little
brown curls, which, with a tortured conscience, and an
apprehension of retribution at the hands of the meeting, Tillie
had brushed from under her cap and arranged with artful care.





XIX

TILLIE TELLS A LIE


It was eleven o'clock on the following Saturday morning, a busy
hour at the hotel, and Mrs. Wackernagel and Tillie were both hard
at work in the kitchen, while Eebecca and Amanda were vigorously
applying their young strength to "the up-stairs work."

The teacher was lounging on the settee in the sitting-room, trying
to read his Boston Transcript and divert his mind from its
irritation and discontent under a condition of things which made
it impossible for him to command Tillie's time whenever he wanted
a companion for a walk in the woods, or for a talk in which he
might unburden himself of his pent-up thoughts and feelings. The
only freedom she had was in the evening; and even then she was not
always at liberty. There was Amanda always ready and at hand--it
kept him busy dodging her. Why was Fate so perverse in her
dealings with him? Why couldn't it be Tillie instead of Amanda?
Fairchilds chafed under this untoward condition of things like a
fretful child--or, rather, just like a man who can't have what he
wants.

Both Tillie and her aunt went about their tasks this morning with
a nervousness of movement and an anxiety of countenance that told
of something unwonted in the air. Fairchilds was vaguely conscious
of this as he sat in the adjoining room, with the door ajar.

"Tillie!" said her aunt, with a sharpness unusual to her, as she
closed the oven door with a spasmodic bang, "you put on your shawl
and bonnet and go right up to Sister Jennie Hershey's for some
bacon."

"Why, Aunty Em!" said Tillie, in surprise, looking up from the
table where she was rolling out paste; "I can't let these pies."

"I'll finish them pies. You just go now."

"But we've got plenty of bacon."

"If we've got bacon a-plenty, then get some ponhaus. Or some mush.
Hurry up and go, Tillie!"

She came to the girl's side and took the rolling-pin from her
hands. "And don't hurry back. Set awhile. Now get your things on
quick."

"But, Aunty Em--"

"Are you mindin' me, Tillie, or ain't you?" her aunt sharply
demanded.

"But in about ten minutes father will be stopping on his way from
Lancaster market," Tillie said, though obediently going toward the
corner where hung her shawl and bonnet, "to get my wages and see
me, Aunty Em--like what he does every Saturday still."

"Well, don't be so dumm, Tillie! That's why I'm sendin' you off!"

"Oh, Aunty Em, I don't want to go away and leave you to take all
the blame for those new caps! And, anyhow, father will stop at
Sister Jennie Hershey's if he don't find me here."

"I won't tell him you're there. And push them curls under your
cap, or Sister Jennie'll be tellin' the meeting, and you'll be set
back yet! I don't know what's come over you, Tillie, to act that
vain and unregenerate!"

"Father will guess I'm at Sister Jennie's, and he'll stop to see."

"That's so, too." Aunty Em thoughtfully considered the situation.
"Go out and hide in the stable, Tillie."

Tillie hesitated as she nervously twisted the strings of her
bonnet. "What's the use of hiding, Aunty Em? I'd have to see him
NEXT Saturday."

"He won't be so mad about it till next Saturday."

Tillie shook her head. "He'll keep getting angrier--until he has
satisfied himself by punishing me in some way for spending that
money without leave."

The girl's face was pale, but she spoke very quietly, and her aunt
looked at her curiously.

"Tillie, ain't you afraid of your pop no more?"

"Oh, Aunty Em! YES, I am afraid of him."

"I'm all fidgety myself, thinkin' about how mad he'll be. Dear
knows what YOU must feel yet, Tillie--and what all your little
life you've been feelin', with his fear always hangin' over you
still. Sometimes when I think how my brother Jake trains up his
childern!"--indignation choked her--"I have feelin's that are un-
Christlike, Tillie!"

"And yet, Aunty Em," the girl said earnestly, "father does care
for me too--even though he always did think I ought to want
nothing else but to work for him. But he does care for me. The
couple of times I was sick already, he was concerned. I can't
forget it."

"To be sure, he'd have to be a funny man if he wasn't concerned
when his own child's sick, Tillie. I don't give him much for
THAT."

"But it always puzzled me, Aunty Em--if father's concerned to see
me sick or suffering, why will he himself deliberately make me
suffer more than I ever suffered in any sickness? I never could
understand that."

"He always thinks he's doin' his duty by you. That we must give
him. Och, my! there's his wagon stoppin' NOW! Go on out to the
stable, Tillie! Quick!"

"Aunty Em!" Tillie faltered, "I'd sooner stay and have it done
with now, than wait and have it hanging over me all the week till
next Saturday."

There was another reason for her standing her ground and facing it
out. Ever since she had yielded to the temptation to buy the caps
and let her hair curl about her face, her conscience had troubled
her for her vanity; and a vague feeling that in suffering her
father's displeasure she would be expiating her sin made her
almost welcome his coming this morning.

There was the familiar heavy tread in the bar-room which adjoined
the kitchen. Tillie flushed and paled by turns as it drew near,
and her aunt rolled out the paste with a vigor and an emphasis
that expressed her inward agitation. Even Fairchilds, in the next
room, felt himself infected with the prevailing suspense.

"Well!" was Jake Getz's greeting as he entered the kitchen. "Em!"
he nodded to his sister. "Well, Tillie!"

There was a note of affection in his greeting of his daughter.
Tillie realized that her father missed her presence at home almost
as much as he missed the work that she did. The nature of his
regard for her was a mystery that had always puzzled the girl. How
could one be constantly hurting and thwarting a person whom one
cared for?

Tillie went up to him dutifully and held out her hand. He took it
and bent to kiss her.

"Are you well? You're lookin' some pale. And your hair's strubbly
[untidy]."

"She's been sewin' too steady on them clo'es fur your childern,"
said Aunty Em, quickly. "It gives her such a pain in her side
still to set and sew. I ain't leavin' her set up every night to
sew no more! You can just take them clo'es home, Jake. They ain't
done, and they won't get done here."

"Do you mebbe leave her set up readin' books or such pamp'lets,
ain't?" Mr. Getz inquired.

"I make her go to bed early still," Mrs. Wackernagel said
evasively, though her Mennonite conscience reproached her for such
want of strict candor.

"That dude teacher you got stayin' here mebbe gives her things to
read, ain't?" Mr. Getz pursued his suspicions.

"He's never gave her nothin' that I seen him," Mrs. Wackernagel
affirmed.

"Well, mind you don't leave her waste time readin'. She ain't to."

"You needn't trouble, Jake!"

"Well," said Jake, "I'll leave them clo'es another week, and mebbe
Tillie'll feel some better and can get 'em done. Mom won't like it
when I come without 'em this mornin'. She's needin' 'em fur the
childern, and she thought they'd be done till this morning
a'ready."

"Why don't you hire your washin' or buy her a washin'-machine?
Then she'd have time to do her own sewin'."

"Work don't hurt a body," Mr. Getz maintained. "It's healthy.
What's Tillie doin' this morning?"

"She was bakin' these pies, but I want her now to redd up. Take
all them pans to the dresser, Tillie."

Tillie went to the table to do as she was bid.

"Well, I must be goin' home now," said Mr. Getz. "I'll take
Tillie's wages, Em."

Mrs. Wackernagel set her lips as she wiped her hands on the
roller-towel and opened the dresser drawer to get her purse.

"How's her?" she inquired, referring to Mrs. Getz to gain time, as
she counted out the money.

"She's old-fashioned."

"Is the childern all well?"

"Yes, they're all middlin' well. Hurry up, Em; I'm in a hurry, and
you're takin' wonderful long to count out them two dollars."

"It's only one and a half this week, Jake. Tillie she had to have
some new caps, and they come to fifty cents. And I took notice her
underclo'es was too thin fur this cold spell, and I wanted her to
buy herself a warm petticoat, but she wouldn't take the money."

An angry red dyed the swarthy neck and forehead of the man, as his
keen eyes, very like his sister's, only lacking their expression
of kindness, flashed from her face to the countenance of his
daughter at the dresser.

"What business have you lettin' her buy anything?" he sternly
demanded. "You was to give me her wages, and _I_ was to buy her
what she couldn't do without. You're not keepin' your bargain!"

"She needed them caps right away. I couldn't wait till Saturday to
ast you oncet. And," she boldly added, "you ought to leave her
have another fifty cents to buy herself a warm petticoat!"

"Tillie!" commanded her father," you come here!"

The girl was very white as she obeyed him. But her eyes, as they
met his, were not afraid.

"It's easy seen why you're pale! I guess it ain't no pain in your
side took from settin' up sewin' fur mom that's made you pale! Now
see here," he sternly said, "what did you do somepin like this
fur? Spendin' fifty cents without astin' me!"

"I needed the caps," she quietly answered. "And I knew you would
not let me buy them if I asked you, father."

"You're standin' up here in front of me and sayin' to my face you
done somepin you knowed I wouldn't give you darst to do! And you
have no business, anyhow, wearin' them New Mennonite caps! I never
wanted you to take up with that blamed foolishness! Well, I'll
learn you! If I had you home I'd whip you!"

"You ain't touchin' her 'round HERE!" exclaimed his sister. "You
just try it, Jake, and I'll call Abe out!"

"Is she my own child or ain't she, Em Wackernagel? And can I do
with my own what I please, or must I ast you and Abe Wackernagel?"

"She's too growed up fur to be punished, Jake, and you know it."

"Till she's too growed up to obey her pop, she'll get punished,"
he affirmed. "Where's the good of your religion, I'd like to know,
Em--settin' a child on to defy her parent? And you, Tillie, you
STOLE that money off of me! Your earnin's ain't yourn till you're
twenty-one. Is them New Mennonite principles to take what ain't
yourn? It ain't only the fifty cents I mind--it's your
disobedience and your stealin'."

"Oh, father! it wasn't STEALING!"

"Of course it wasn't stealin'--takin' what you earnt yourself--
whether you ARE seventeen instead of twenty-one!" her aunt warmly
assured her.

"Now look-ahere, Em! If yous are goin' to get her so spoilt fur
me, over here, she ain't stayin' here. I'll take her home!"

"Well, take her!" diplomatically answered his sister. "I can get
Abe's niece over to East Donegal fur one-seventy-five. She'd be
glad to come!"

Mr. Getz at this drew in his sails a bit. "I'll give her one more
chancet," he compromised. "But I ain't givin' her no second
chancet if she does somepin again where she ain't got darst to do.
Next time I hear of her disobeyin' me, home she comes. I'd sooner
lose the money than have her spoilt fur me. Now look-ahere,
Tillie, you go get them new caps and bring 'em here."

Tillie turned away to obey.

"Now, Jake, what are you up to?" his sister demanded as the girl
left the room.

"Do you suppose I'd leave her KEEP them caps she stole the money
off of me to buy?" Getz retorted.

"She earnt the money!" maintained Mrs. Wackernagel.

"The money wasn't hern, and I'd sooner throw them caps in the rag-
bag than leave her wear 'em when she disobeyed me to buy 'em."

"Jake Getz, you're a reg'lar tyrant! You mind me of Herod yet--and
of Punshus Palate!"

"Ain't I followin' Scripture when I train up my child to obey to
her parent?" he wanted to know.

"Now look-ahere, Jake; I'll give you them fifty cents and make a
present to Tillie of them caps if you'll leave her keep 'em."

But in spite of his yearning for the fifty cents, Mr. Getz firmly
refused this offer. Paternal discipline must be maintained even at
a financial loss. Then, too, penurious and saving as he was, he
was strictly honest, and he would not have thought it right to let
his sister pay for his child's necessary wearing-apparel.

"No, Tillie's got to be punished. When I want her to have new
caps, I'll buy 'em fur her."

Tillie reentered the room with the precious bits of linen tenderly
wrapped up in tissue paper. Her pallor was now gone, and her eyes
were red with crying. She came to her father's side and handed him
the soft bundle.

"These here caps," he said to her, "mom can use fur night-caps, or
what. When you buy somepin unknownst to me, Tillie, I ain't
leavin' you KEEP it! Now go 'long back to your dishes. And next
Saturday, when I come, I want to find them clo'es done, do you
understand?"

Tillie's eyes followed the parcel as it was crushed ruthlessly
into her father's coat pocket--and she did not heed his question.

"Do you hear me, Tillie?" he demanded.

"Yes," she answered, looking up at him with brimming eyes.

His sister, watching them from across the room, saw in the man's
face the working of conflicting feelings--his stern displeasure
warring with his affection. Mrs. Wackernagel had realized, ever
since Tillie had come to live with her, that "Jake's" brief weekly
visits to his daughter were a pleasure to the hard man; and not
only because of the two dollars which he came to collect. Just
now, she could see how he hated to part from her in anger. Justice
having been meted out in the form of the crushed and forfeited
caps in his pocket, he would fain take leave of the girl with some
expression of his kindlier feelings toward her.

"Now are you behavin' yourself--like a good girl--till I come
again?" he asked, laying his hand upon her shoulder.

"Yes," she said dully.

"Then give me good-b'y." She held up her face and submitted to his
kiss.

"Good-by, Em. And mind you stop spoilin' my girl fur me!"

He opened the door and went away.

And Fairchilds, an unwilling witness to the father's brutality,
felt every nerve in his body tingle with a longing first to break
the head of that brutal Dutchman, and then to go and take little
Tillie in his arms and kiss her. To work off his feelings, he
sprang up from the settee, put on his hat, and flung out of the
house to walk down to "the krik."

"Never you mind, Tillie," her aunt consoled her. "I'm goin' in
town next Wednesday, and I'm buyin' you some caps myself fur a
present."

"Oh, Aunty Em, but maybe you'd better not be so good to me!"
Tillie said, dashing away the tears as she industriously rubbed
her pans. "It was my vanity made me want new caps. And father's
taking them was maybe the Lord punishing my vanity."

"You needed new caps--your old ones was wore out. AND DON'T YOU BE
JUDGIN' THE LORD BY YOUR POP! Don't try to stop me--I'm buyin' you
some caps."

Now Tillie knew how becoming the new caps were to her, and her
soul yearned for them even as (she told herself) Israel of old
yearned after the flesh-pots of Egypt. To lose them was really a
bitter disappointment to her.

But Aunty Em would spare her that grief! A sudden passionate
impulse of gratitude and love toward her aunt made her do a most
unwonted thing. Taking her hands from her dish-water, she dried
them hastily, went over to Mrs. Wackernagel, threw her arms about
her neck, and kissed her.

"Oh, Aunty Em, I love you like I've never loved any one--except
Miss Margaret and--"

She stopped short as she buried her face in her aunt's motherly
bosom and clung to her.

"And who else, Tillie?" Mrs. Wackernagel asked, patting the girl's
shoulder, her face beaming with pleasure at her niece's
affectionate demonstration.

"No one else, Aunty Em."

Tillie drew herself away and again returned to her work at the
dresser.

But all the rest of that day her conscience tortured her that she
should have told this lie.

For there was some one else.





XX

TILLIE IS "SET BACK"


On Sunday morning, in spite of her aunt's protestations, Tillie
went to meeting with her curls outside her cap.

"They'll set you back!" protested Mrs. Wackernagel, in great
trouble of spirit.

"It would be worse to be deceitful than to be vain," Tillie
answered. "If I am going to let my hair curl week-days, I won't be
a coward and deceive the meeting about myself."

"But whatever made you take it into your head to act so vain,
Tillie?" her bewildered aunt inquired for the hundredth time. "It
can't be fur Absalom, fur you don't take to him. And, anyways, he
says he wants to be led of the Spirit to give hisself up. To be
sure, I hope he ain't tempted to use religion as a means of
gettin' the girl he wants!"

"I know I'm doing wrong, Aunty Em," Tillie replied sorrowfully.
"Maybe the meeting to-day will help me to conquer the Enemy."

She and her aunt realized during the course of the morning that
the curls were creating a sensation. An explanation would
certainly be demanded of Tillie before the week was out.

After the service, they did not stop long for "sociability,"--the
situation was too strained,--but hurried out to their buggy as
soon as they could escape.

Tillie marveled at herself as, on the way home, she found how
small was her concern about the disapproval of the meeting, and
even about her sin itself, before the fact that the teacher
thought her curls adorable.

Aunty Em, too, marveled as she perceived the girl's strange
indifference to the inevitable public disgrace at the hands of the
brethren and sisters. Whatever was the matter with Tillie?

At the dinner-table, to spare Tillie's evident embarrassment
(perhaps because of the teacher's presence), Mrs. Wackernagel
diverted the curiosity of the family as to how the meeting had
received the curls.

"What did yous do all while we was to meeting?" she asked of her
two daughters.

"Me and Amanda and Teacher walked to Buckarts Station," Rebecca
answered.

"Did yous, now?"

"Up the pike a piece was all the fu'ther I felt fur goin',"
continued Eebecca, in a rather injured tone; "but Amanda she was
so fur seein' oncet if that fellah with those black MUStache was
at the blacksmith's shop yet, at Buckarts! I tole her she needn't
be makin' up to HIM, fur he's keepin' comp'ny with Lizzie
Hershey!"

"Say, mom," announced Amanda, ignoring her sister's rebuke, "I
stopped in this morning to see Lizzie Hershey, and she's that
spited about Teacher's comin' here instead of to their place that
she never so much as ast me would I spare my hat!"

"Now look!" exclaimed Mrs. Wackernagel. "And when I said, after
while, 'Now I must go,' she was that unneighborly she never ast
me, 'What's your hurry?'"

"Was she that spited!" said Mrs. Wackernagel, half pityingly.
"Well, it was just like Sister Jennie Hershey, if she didn't want
Teacher stayin' there, to tell him right out. Some ain't as
honest. Some talks to please the people."

"What fur sermont did yous have this morning?" asked Mr.
Wackernagel, his mouth full of chicken.

"We had Levi Harnish. He preached good," said Mrs. Wackernagel.
"Ain't he did, Tillie?"

"Yes," replied Tillie, coloring with the guilty consciousness that
scarcely a word of that sermon had she heard.

"I like to hear a sermont, like hisn, that does me good to my
heart," said Mrs. Wackernagel.

"Levi Harnish, he's a learnt preacher," said her husband, turning
to Fairchilds. "He reads wonderful much. And he's always thinkin'
so earnest about his learnin' that I've saw him walk along the
street in Lancaster a'ready and a'most walk into people!" "He
certainly can stand on the pulpit elegant!" agreed Mrs.
Wackernagel. "Why, he can preach his whole sermont with the Bible
shut, yet! And he can put out elocution that it's something
turrible!"

"You are not a Mennonite, are you?" Fairchilds asked of the
landlord.

"No," responded Mr. Wackernagel, with a shrug. "I bothered a whole
lot at one time about religion. Now I never bother."

"We had Silas Trout to lead the singin' this morning," continued
Mrs. Wackernagel. "I wisht I could sing by note, like him. I don't
know notes; I just sing by random."

"Where's Doc, anyhow?" suddenly inquired Amanda, for the doctor's
place at the table was vacant.

"He was fetched away. Mary Holzapple's mister come fur him!" Mr.
Wackernagel explained, with a meaning nod.

"I say!" cried Mrs. Wackernagel. "So soon a'ready! And last week
it was Sue Hess! Doc's always gettin' fetched! Nothin' but babies
and babies!"

Tillie, whose eyes were always on tne teacher, except when he
chanced to glance her way, noted wonderingly the blush that
suddenly covered his face and neck at this exclamation of her
aunt's. In the primitive simplicity of her mind, she could see
nothing embarrassing in the mere statement of any fact of natural
history.

"Here comes Doc now!" cried Rebecca, at the opening of the kitchen
door. "Hello, Doc!" she cried as he came into the dining-room.
"What IS it?"

"Twin girls!" the doctor proudly announced, going over to the
stove to warm his hands after his long drive.

"My lands!" exclaimed Amanda.

"Now what do you think!" ejaculated Mrs. Wackernagel.

"How's missus?" Rebecca inquired.

"Doin' fine! But mister he ain't feelin' so well. He wanted a boy
--OR boys, as the case might be. It's gettin' some cold out," he
added, rubbing his hands and holding them to the fire.

That evening, when again Fairchilds was unable to have a chat
alone with Tillie, because of Absalom Puntz's unfailing appearance
at the hotel, he began to think, in his chagrin, that he must have
exaggerated the girl's superiority, since week after week she
could endure the attentions of "that lout."

He could not know that it was for HIS sake--to keep him in his
place at William Penn--that poor Tillie bore the hated caresses of
Absalom.

That next week was one never to be forgotten by Tillie. It stood
out, in all the years that followed, as a week of wonder--in which
were revealed to her the depths and the heights of ecstatic bliss
--a bliss which so filled her being that she scarcely gave a
thought to the disgrace hanging over her--her suspension from
meeting.

The fact that Tillie and the teacher sat together, now, every
evening, called forth no surmises or suspicions from the
Wackernagels, for the teacher was merely helping Tillie with some
studies. The family was charged to guard the fact from Mr. Getz.

The lessons seldom lasted beyond the early bedtime of the family,
for as soon as Tillie and Fairchilds found the sitting-room
abandoned to their private use, the school-books were put aside.
They had somewhat to say to each other.

Tillie's story of her long friendship with Miss Margaret, which
she related to Fairchilds, made him better understand much about
the girl that had seemed inexplicable in view of her environment;
while her wonder at and sympathetic interest in his own story of
how he had come to apply for the school at New Canaan both amused
and touched him.

"Do you never have any doubts, Tillie, of the truth of your
creed?" he asked curiously, as they sat one evening at the
sitting-room table, the school-books and the lamp pushed to one
end.

He had several times, in this week of intimacy, found it hard to
reconcile the girl's fine intelligence and clear thought in some
directions with her religious superstition. He hesitated to say a
word to disturb her in her apparently unquestioning faith, though
he felt she was worthy of a better creed than this impossibly
narrow one of the New Mennonites. "She isn't ready yet," he had
thought, "to take hold of a larger idea of religion."

"I have sometimes thought," she said earnestly, "that if the
events which are related in the Bible should happen now, we would
not credit them. An infant born of a virgin, a star leading three
travelers, a man who raised the dead and claimed to be God--we
would think the folks who believed these things were ignorant and
superstitious. And because they happened so long ago, and are in
the Book which we are told came from God, we believe. It is very
strange! Sometimes my thoughts trouble me. I try hard not to leave
such thoughts come to me."

"LET, Tillie, not 'leave.'"

"Will I ever learn not to get my 'leaves' and 'lets' mixed!"
sighed Tillie, despairingly.

"Use 'let' whenever you find 'leave' on the end of your tongue,
and vice versa," he advised, with a smile.

She looked at him doubtfully. "Are you joking?"

"Indeed, no! I couldn't give you a better rule."

"There's another thing I wish you would tell me, please," she
said, her eyes downcast.

"Well?"

"I can't call you 'Mr.' Fairchilds, because such complimentary
speech is forbidden to us New Mennonites. It would come natural to
me to call you 'Teacher,' but you would think that what you call
'provincial.'"

"But you say 'Miss' Margaret."

"I could not get out of the way of it, because I had called her
that so many years before I gave myself up. That makes it seem
different. But you--what must I call you?"

"I don't see what's left--unless you call me 'Say'!"

"I must have something to call you," she pleaded. "Would you mind
if I called you by your Christian name?"

"I should like nothing better."

He drew forward a volume of Mrs. Browning's poems which lay among
his books on the table, opened it at the fly-leaf, and pointed to
his name.

"'Walter'?" read Tillie. "But I thought--"

"It was Pestalozzi? That was only my little joke. My name's
Walter."

On the approach of Sunday, Fairchilds questioned her one evening
about Absalom.

"Will that lad be taking up your whole Sunday evening again?" he
demanded.

She told him, then, why she suffered Absalom's unwelcome
attentions. It was in order that she might use her influence over
him to keep the teacher in his place.

"But I can't permit such a thing!" he vehemently protested.
"Tillie, I am touched by your kindness and self-sacrifice! But,
dear child, I trust I am man enough to hold my own here without
your suffering for me! You must not do it."

"You don't know Nathaniel Puntz!" She shook her head. "Absalom
will never forgive you, and, at a word from him, his father would
never rest until he had got rid of you. You see, none of the
directors like you--they don't understand you--they say you are
'too tony.' And then your methods of teaching--they aren't like
those of the Millersville Normal teachers we've had, and therefore
are unsound! I discovered last week, when I was out home, that my
father is very much opposed to you. They all felt just so to Miss
Margaret."

"I see. Nevertheless, you shall not bear my burdens. And don't you
see it's not just to poor Absalom? You can't marry him, so you
ought not to encourage him."

"'If I refused to le-LET Absalom come, you would not remain a
month at New Canaan," was her answer.

"But it isn't a matter of life and death to me to stay at New
Canaan! I need not starve if I lose my position here. There are
better places."

Tillie gazed down upon the chenille table-cover, and did not
speak. She could not tell him that it did seem to HER a matter of
life and death to have him stay.

"It seems to me, Tillie, you could shake off Absalom through your
father's objections to his attentions. The fellow could not blame
you for that."

"But don't you see I must keep him by me, in order to protect
you."

"My dear little girl, that's rough on Absalom; and I'm not sure
it's worthy of you."

"But you don't understand. You think Absalom will be hurt in his
feelings if I refuse to marry him. But I've told him all along I
won't marry him. And it isn't his feelings that are concerned. He
only wants a good housekeeper."

Fairchilds's eyes rested on the girl as she sat before him in the
fresh bloom of her maidenhood, and he realized what he knew she
did not--that unsentimental, hard-headed, and practical as Absalom
might be, if she allowed him the close intimacy of "setting-up"
with her, the fellow must suffer in the end in not winning her.
But the teacher thought it wise to make no further comment, as he
saw, at any rate, that he could not move her in her resolution to
defend him.

And there was another thing that he saw. The extraneous
differences between himself and Tillie, and even the radical
differences of breeding and heredity which, he had assumed from
the first, made any least romance or sentiment on the part of
either of them unthinkable, however much they might enjoy a good
comradeship,--all these differences had strangely sunk out of
sight as he had, from day to day, grown in touch with the girl's
real self, and he found himself unable to think of her and himself
except in that deeper sense in which her soul met his. Any other
consideration of their relation seemed almost grotesque. This was
his feeling--but his reason struggled with his feeling and bade
him beware. Suppose that she too should come to feel that with the
meeting of their spirits the difference in their conditions melted
away like ice in the sunshine. Would not the result be fraught
with tragedy for her? For himself, he was willing, for the sake of
his present pleasure, to risk a future wrestling with his
impracticable sentiments; but what must be the cost of such a
struggle to a frail, sensitive girl, with no compensations
whatever in any single phase of her life? Clearly, he was treading
on dangerous ground. He must curb himself.

Before another Sunday came around, the ax had fallen--the brethren
came to reason with Tillie, and finding her unable to say she was
sincerely repentant and would amend her vain and carnal
deportment, she was, in the course of the next week, "set back."

"I would be willing to put back the curls," she said to her aunt,
who also reasoned with her in private; "but it would avail
nothing. For my heart is still vain and carnal. 'Man looketh upon
the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart.'"

"Then, Tillie," said her aunt, her kindly face pale with distress
in the resolution she had taken, "you'll have to go home and stay.
You can't stay here as long as you're not holding out in your
professions."

Tillie's face went white, and she gazed into her aunt's resolute
countenance with anguish in her own.

"I'd not do it to send you away, Tillie, if I could otherwise help
it. But look how inconwenient it would be havin' you here to help
work, and me not havin' dare to talk or eat with you. I'm not
obeyin' to the 'Rules' NOW in talkin' to you. But I tole the
brethren I'd only speak to you long enough to reason with you
some--and then, if that didn't make nothin', I'd send you home."

The Rules forbade the members to sit at table or hold any
unnecessary word of communication with one who had failed to "hold
out," and who had in consequence been "set back." Tillie, in her
strange indifference to the disgrace of being set back, had not
foreseen her inevitable dismissal from her aunt's employ. She
recognized, now, with despair in her soul, that Aunty Em could not
do otherwise than send her home.

"When must I go, Aunty Em?"

"As soon as you make your mind up you AIN'T goin' to repent of
your carnal deportment."

"I can't repent, Aunty Em!" Tillie's voice sounded hollow to
herself as she spoke.

"Then, Tillie, you're got to go to-morrow. I 'll have to get my
niece from East Donegal over."

It sounded to Tillie like the crack of doom.

The doctor, who was loath to have her leave, who held her
interests at heart, and who knew what she would forfeit in losing
the help which the teacher was giving her daily in her studies,
undertook to add his expostulations to that of the brethern and
sisters.

"By gum, Tillie, slick them swanged curls BACK, if they don't suit
the taste of the meeting! Are you willin' to leave go your nice
education, where you're gettin', fur a couple of damned curls? I
don't know what's got INto you to act so blamed stubborn about
keepin' your hair strubbled 'round your face!"

"But the vanity would still be in my heart even if I did brush
them back. And I don't want to be deceitful."

"Och, come now," urged the doctor, "just till you're got your
certificate a'ready to teach! That wouldn't be long. Then, after
that, you can be as undeceitful as you want."

But Tillie could not be brought to view the matter in this light.

She did not sit at table with the family that day, for that would
have forced her aunt to stay away from the table. Mrs. Wackernagel
could break bread without reproach with all her unconverted
household; but not with a backslider--for the prohibition was
intended as a discipline, imposed in all love, to bring the
recalcitrant member back into the fold.

That afternoon, Tillie and the teacher took a walk together in the
snow-covered woods.

"It all seems so extraordinary, so inexplicable!" Fairchilds
repeated over and over. Like all the rest of the household, he
could not be reconciled to her going. His regret was, indeed,
greater than that of any of the rest, and rather surprised
himself. The pallor of Tillie's face and the anguish in her eyes
he attributed to the church discipline she was suffering. He never
dreamed how wholly and absolutely it was for him.

"Is it any stranger," Tillie asked, her low voice full of pain,
"than that your uncle should send you away because of your
UNbelief?" This word, "unbelief," stood for a very definite thing
in New Canaan--a lost and hopeless condition of the soul. "It
seems to me, the idea is the same," said Tillie.

"Yes," acknowledged Fairchilds, "of course you are right.
Intolerance, bigotry, narrowness--they are the same the world
over--and stand for ignorance always."

Tillie silently considered his words. It had not occurred to her
to question the perfect justice of the meeting's action.

Suddenly she saw in the path before her a half-frozen, fluttering
sparrow. They both paused, and Tillie stooped, gently took it up,
and folded it in her warm shawl. As she felt its throbbing little
body against her hand, she thought of herself in the hand of God.
She turned and spoke her thought to Fairchilds.

"Could I possibly hurt this little bird, which is so entirely at
my mercy? Could I judge it, condemn and punish it, for some
mistake or wrong or weakness it had committed in its little world?
And could God be less kind, less merciful to me than I could be to
this little bird? Could he hold my soul in the hollow of his hand
and vivisect it to judge whether its errors were worthy of his
divine anger? He knows how weak and ignorant I am. I will not fear
him," she said, her eyes shining. "I will trust myself in his
power--and believe in his love."

"The New Mennonite creed won't hold her long," thought Fairchilds.

"Our highest religious moments, Tillie," he said, "come to us, not
through churches, nor even through Bibles. They are the moments
when we are most receptive of the message Nature is always
patiently waiting to speak to us--if we will only hear. It is she
alone that can lead us to see God face to face, instead of
'through another man's dim thought of him.'"

"Yes," agreed Tillie, "I have often felt more--more RELIGIOUS,"
she said, after an instant's hesitation, "when I've been walking
here alone in the woods, or down by the creek, or up on Chestnut
Hill--than I could feel in church. In church we hear ABOUT God, as
you say, through other men's dim thoughts of Him. Here, alone, we
are WITH him."

They walked in silence for a space, Tillie feeling with mingled
bliss and despair the fascination of this parting hour. But it did
not occur to Fairchilds that her departure from the hotel meant
the end of their intercourse.

"I shall come out to the farm to see you, Tillie, as often as you
will let me. You know, I've no one else to talk to, about here, as
I talk with you. What a pleasure it has been!"

"Oh, but father will never le--let me spend my time with you as I
did at the hotel! He will be angry at my being sent home, and he
will keep me constantly at work to make up for the loss it is to
him. This is our last talk together!"

"I'll risk your father's wrath, Tillie. You don't suppose I'd let
a small matter like that stand in the way of our friendship?"

"But father will not l--LET--me spend time with you. And if you
come when he told you not to he would put you out of William
Penn!"

"I'm coming, all the same, Tillie."

"Father will blame me, if you do."

"Can't you take your own part, Tillie?" he gravely asked. "No,
no," he hastily added, for he did not forget the talk he had
overheard about the new caps, in which Mr. Getz had threatened
personal violence to his daughter. "I know you must not suffer for
my sake. But you cannot mean that we are not to meet at all after
this?"

"Only at chance times," faltered Tillie; "that is all."

Very simply and somewhat constrainedly they said good-by the next
morning, Fairchilds to go to his work at William Penn and Tillie
to drive out with her Uncle Abe to meet her father's displeasure.





XXI

"I'LL MARRY HIM TO-MORROW!"


Mr. Getz had plainly given Absalom to understand that he did not
want him to sit up with Tillie, as he "wasn't leaving her marry."
Absalom had answered that he guessed Tillie would have something
to say to that when she was "eighteen a'ready." And on the first
Sunday evening after her return home he had boldly presented
himself at the farm.

"That's where you'll get fooled, Absalom, fur she's been raised to
mind her pop!" Mr. Getz had responded. "If she disobeyed to my
word, I wouldn't give her no aus styer. I guess you wouldn't marry
a girl where wouldn't bring you no aus styer!"

Absalom, who was frugal, had felt rather baffled at this threat.
Nevertheless, here he was again on Sunday evening at the farm to
assure Tillie that HE would stand by her, and that if she was not
restored to membership in the meeting, he wouldn't give himself
up, either.

Mr. Getz dared not go to the length of forbidding Absalom his
house, for that would have meant a family feud between all the
Getzes and all the Puntzes of the county. He could only insist
that Tillie "dishearten him," and that she dismiss him not later
than ten o'clock. To almost any other youth in the neighborhood,
such opposition would have proved effectual. But every new
obstacle seemed only to increase Absalom's determination to have
what he had set out to get.

To-night he produced another book, which he said he had bought at
the second-hand book-store in Lancaster.

"'Cupid and Psyche,'" Tillie read the title. "Oh, Absalom, thank
you. This is lovely. It's a story from Greek mythology--I've been
hearing some of these stories from the teacher"--she checked
herself, suddenly, at Absalom's look of jealous suspicion.

"I'm wonderful glad you ain't in there at the HOtel no more," he
said. "I hadn't no fair chancet, with Teacher right there on the
GROUNDS."

"Absalom," said Tillie, gravely, with a little air of dignity that
did not wholly fail to impress him, "I insist on it that you never
speak of the teacher in that way in connection with me. You might
as well speak of my marrying the County Superintendent! He'd be
just as likely to ask me!"

The county superintendent of public instruction was held in such
awe that his name was scarcely mentioned in an ordinary tone of
voice.

"As if there's no difference from a teacher at William Penn to the
county superintendent! You ain't that dumm, Tillie!"

"The difference is that the teacher at William Penn is superior in
every way to the county superintendent!"

She spoke impulsively, and she regretted her words the moment they
were uttered. But Absalom only half comprehended her meaning.

"You think you ain't good enough fur him, and you think I ain't
good enough fur YOU!" he grumbled. "I have never saw such a funny
girl! Well," he nodded confidently, "you'll think different one of
these here days!"

"You must not cherish any false hopes, Absalom," Tillie insisted
in some distress.

"Well, fur why don't you want to have me?" he demanded for the
hundredth time.

"Absalom,"--Tillie tried a new mode of discouragement,--"I don't
want to get married because I don't want to be a farmer's wife--
they have to work too hard!"

It was enough to drive away any lover in the countryside, and for
a moment Absalom was staggered.

"Well!" he exclaimed, "a woman that's afraid of work ain't no wife
fur me, anyways!"

Tillie's heart leaped high for an instant in the hope that now she
had effectually cooled his ardor. But it sank again as she
recalled the necessity of retaining at least his good-will and
friendship, that she might protect the teacher.

"Now, Absalom," she feebly protested, "did you ever see me afraid
of work?"

"Well, then, if you ain't afraid of workin', what makes you talk
so CONTRARY?"

"I don't know. Come, let me read this nice book you've brought
me," she urged, much as she might have tried to divert one of her
little sisters or brothers.

"I'd ruther just set. I ain't much fur readin'. Jake Getz he says
he's goin' to chase you to bed at ten--and ten comes wonderful
soon Sundays. Leave us just set."

Tillie well understood that this was to endure Absalom's clownish
wooing. But for the sake of the cause, she said to herself, she
would conquer her repugnance and bear it.

For two weeks after Tillie's return home, she did not once have a
word alone with Fairchilds. He came several times, ostensibly on
errands from her aunt; but on each occasion he found her hard at
work in her father's presence. At his first visit, Tillie, as he
was leaving, rose from her corn-husking in the barn to go with him
to the gate, but her father interfered.

"You stay where you're at!"

With burning face, she turned to her work. And Fairchilds,
carefully suppressing an impulse to shake Jake Getz till his teeth
rattled, walked quietly out of the gate and up the road.

Her father was more than usually stern and exacting with her in
these days of her suspension from meeting, inasmuch as it involved
her dismissal from the hotel and the consequent loss to him of two
dollars a week.

As for Tillie, she found a faint consolation in the fact of the
teacher's evident chagrin and indignation at the tyrannical rule
which forbade intercourse between them.

At stated intervals, the brethren came to reason with her, but
while she expressed her willingness to put her curls back, she
would not acknowledge that her heart was no longer "carnal and
vain," and so they found it impossible to restore her to favor.

A few weeks before Christmas, Absalom, deciding that he had
imbibed all the arithmetical erudition he could hold, stopped
school. On the evening that he took his books home, he gave the
teacher a parting blow, which he felt sure quite avenged the
outrageous defeat he had suffered at his hands on that Sunday
night at the hotel.

"Me and Tillie's promised. It ain't put out yet, but I conceited
I'd better tell you, so's you wouldn't be wastin' your time tryin'
to make up to her."

"You and Tillie are engaged to be married?" Fairchilds
incredulously asked.

"That's what! As good as, anyways. I always get somepin I want
when I make up my mind oncet." And he grinned maliciously.

Fairchilds pondered the matter as, with depressed spirits, he
walked home over the frozen road.

"No wonder the poor girl yielded to the pressure of such an
environment," he mused. "I suppose she thinks Absalom's rule will
not be so bad as her father's. But that a girl like Tillie should
be pushed to the wall like that--it is horrible! And yet--if she
were worthy a better fate would she not have held out?--it is too
bad, it is unjust to her 'Miss Margaret' that she should give up
now! I feel," he sadly told himself, "disappointed in Tillie!"

When the notable "Columbus Celebration" came off in New Canaan, in
which event several schools of the township united to participate,
and which was attended by the entire countryside, as if it were a
funeral, Tillie hoped that here would be an opportunity for seeing
and speaking with Walter Fairchilds. But in this she was bitterly
disappointed.

It was not until a week later, at the township Institute, which
met at New Canaan, and which was also attended by the entire
population, that her deep desire was gratified.

It was during the reading of an address, before the Institute, by
Miss Spooner, the teacher at East Donegal, that Fairchilds
deliberately came and sat by Tillie in the back of the school-
room.

Tillie's heart beat fast, and she found herself doubting the
reality of his precious nearness after the long, dreary days of
hungering for him.

She dared not speak to him while Miss Spooner held forth, and,
indeed, she feared even to look at him, lest curious eyes read in
her face what consciously she strove to conceal.

She realized his restless impatience under Miss Spooner's
eloquence.

"It was a week back already, we had our Columbus Celebration,"
read this educator of Lancaster County, genteelly curving the
little finger of each hand, as she held her address, which was
esthetically tied with blue ribbon. "It was an inspiring sight to
see those one hundred enthusiastic and paterotic children marching
two by two, led by their equally enthusiastic and paterotic
teachers! Forming a semicircle in the open air, the exercises were
opened by a song, 'O my Country,' sung by clear--r-r-ringing--
childish voices...."

It was the last item on the program, and by mutual and silent
consent, Tillie and Fairchilds, at the first stir of the audience,
slipped out of the schoolhouse together. Tillie's father was in
the audience, and so was Absalom. But they had sat far forward,
and Tillie hoped they had not seen her go out with the teacher.

"Let us hurry over to the woods, where we can be alone and
undisturbed, and have a good talk!" proposed Fairchilds, his face
showing the pleasure he felt in the meeting.

After a few minutes' hurried walking, they were able to slacken
their pace and stroll leisurely through the bleak winter forest.

"Tillie, Tillie!" he said, "why won't you abandon this 'carnal'
life you are leading, be restored to the approbation of the
brethren, and come back to the hotel? I am very lonely without
you."

Tillie could scarcely find her voice to answer, for the joy that
filled her at his words--a joy so full that she felt but a very
faint pang at his reference to the ban under which she suffered.
She had thought his failure to speak to her at the "Celebration"
had indicated indifference or forgetfulness. But now that was all
forgotten; every nerve in her body quivered with happiness.

He, however, at once interpreted her silence to mean that he had
wounded her. "Forgive me for speaking so lightly of what to you
must be a sacred and serious matter. God knows, my own experience
--which, as you say, was not unlike your own--was sufficiently
serious to me. But somehow, I can't take THIS seriously--this
matter of your pretty curls!"

"Sometimes I wonder whether you take any person or any thing,
here, seriously," she half smiled. "You seem to me to be always
mocking at us a little."

"Mocking? Not so bad as that. And never at YOU, Tillie."

"You were sneering at Miss Spooner, weren't you?"

"Not at her; at Christopher Columbus--though, up to the time of
that celebration, I was always rather fond of the discoverer of
America. But now let us talk of YOU, Tillie. Allow me to
congratulate you!"

"What for?"

"True enough. I stand corrected. Then accept my sincere sympathy."
He smiled whimsically.

Tillie lifted her eyes to his face, and their pretty look of
bewilderment made him long to stoop and snatch a kiss from her
lips. But he resisted the temptation.

"I refer to your engagement to Absalom. That's one reason why I
wanted you to come out here with me this afternoon--so that you
could tell me about it--and explain to me what made you give up
all your plans. What will your Miss Margaret say?"

Tillie stopped short, her cheeks reddening.

"What makes you think I am promised to Absalom?"

"The fact is, I've only his word for it."

"He told you that?"

"Certainly. Isn't it true?"

"Do YOU think so poorly of me?" Tillie asked in a low voice.

He looked at her quickly. "Tillie, I'm sorry; I ought not to have
believed it for an instant!"

"I have a higher ambition in life than to settle down to take care
of Absalom Puntz!" said Tillie, fire in her soft eyes, and an
unwonted vibration in her gentle voice.

"My credulity was an insult to you!"

"Absalom did not mean to tell you a lie. He has made up his mind
to have me, so he thinks it is all as good as settled. Sometimes I
am almost afraid he will win me just by thinking he is going to."

"Send him about his business! Don't keep up this folly, dear
child!"

"I would rather stand Absalom," she faltered, "than stand having
you go away."

"But, Tillie," he turned almost fiercely upon her--"Tillie, I
would rather see you dead at my feet than to see your soul tied to
that clod of earth!"

A wild thrill of rapture shot through Tillie's heart at his words.
For an instant she looked up at him, her soul shining in her eyes.
"Does he--does HE--care that much what happens to me?" throbbed in
her brain.

For the first time Fairchilds fully realized, with shame at his
blind selfishness, the danger and the cruelty of his intimate
friendship with this little Mennonite maid. For her it could but
end in a heartbreak; for him--"I have been a cad, a despicable
cad!" he told himself in bitter self-reproach. "If I had only
known! But now it's too late--unless--" In his mind he rapidly
went over the simple history of their friendship as they walked
along; and, busy with her own thought, Tillie did not notice his
abstraction.

"Tillie," he said suddenly. "Next Saturday there is an examination
of applicants for certificates at East Donegal. You must take that
examination. You are perfectly well prepared to pass it."

"Oh, do you really, REALLY think I am?" the girl cried
breathlessly.

"I know it. The only question is, How are you going to get off to
attend the examination?"

"Father will be at the Lancaster market on Saturday morning!"

"Then I'll hire a buggy, come out to the farm, and carry you off!"

"No--oh, no, you must not do that. Father would be so angry with
you!"

"You can't walk to Bast Donegal. It's six miles away."

"Let me think.--Uncle Abe would do anything I asked him--but he
wouldn't have time to leave the hotel Saturday morning. And I
couldn't make him or Aunty Em understand that I was educated
enough to take the examination. But there's the Doc!"

"Of course!" cried Fairchilds. "The Doc isn't afraid of the whole
county! Shall I tell him you'll go if he'll come for you?"

"Yes!"

"Good! I'll undertake to promise for him that he'll be there!"

"When father comes home from market and finds me gone!" Tillie
said--but there was exultation, rather than fear, in her voice.

"When you show him your certificate, won't that appease him? When
he realizes how much more you can earn by teaching than by working
for your aunt, especially as he bore none of the expense of giving
you your education? It was your own hard labor, and none of his
money, that did it! And now I suppose he'll get all the profit of
it!" Fairchilds could not quite keep down the rising indignation
in his voice.

"No," said Tillie, quietly, though the color burned in her face.
"Walter! I'm going to refuse to give father my salary if I am
elected to a school. I mean to save my money to go to the Normal--
where Miss Margaret is."

"So long as you are under age, he can take it from you, Tillie."

"If the school I teach is near enough for me to live at home, I'll
pay my board. More than that I won't do."

"But how are you going to help yourself?"

"I haven't made up my mind, yet, how I'm going to do it. It will
be the hardest struggle I've ever had--to stand out against him in
such a thing," Tillie continued; "but I will not be weak, I will
not! I have studied and worked all these years in the hope of a
year at the Normal--with Miss Margaret. And I won't falter now!"

Before he could reply to her almost impassioned earnestness, they
were startled by the sound of footsteps behind them in the woods--
the heavy steps of men. Involuntarily, they both stopped short,
Tillie with the feeling of one caught in a stolen delight; and
Fairchilds with mingled annoyance at the interruption, and
curiosity as to who might be wandering in this unfrequented patch
of woods.

"I seen 'em go out up in here!"

It was the voice of Absalom. The answer came in the harsh,
indignant tones of Mr. Getz. "Next time I leave her go to a
Instytoot or such a Columbus Sallybration, she'll stay at HOME!
Wastin' time walkin' 'round in the woods with that dude teacher!
--and on a week-day, too!"

Tillie looked up at Fairchilds with an appeal that went to his
heart. Grimly he waited for the two.

"So here's where you are!" cried Mr. Getz, striding up to them,
and, before Fairchilds could prevent it, he had seized Tillie by
the shoulder. "What you mean, runnin' off up here, heh? What you
mean?" he demanded, shaking her with all his cruel strength.

"Stop that, you brute!" Fairchilds, unable to control his fury,
drew back and struck the big man squarely on the chest. Getz
staggered back, amazement at this unlooked-for attack for a moment
getting the better of his indignation. He had expected to find the
teacher cowed with fear at being discovered by a director and a
director's son in a situation displeasing to them.

"Let the child alone, you great coward--or I 'll horsewhip you!"

Getz recovered himself. His face was black with passion. He lifted
the horsewhip which he carried.

"You'll horsewhip me--me, Jake Getz, that can put you off William
Penn TO-MORROW if I want! Will you do it with this here? he
demanded, grasping the whip more tightly and lifting it to strike
--but before it could descend, Fairchilds wrenched it out of his
hand.

"Yes," he responded, "if you dare to touch that child again, you
shameless dog!"

Tillie, with anguished eyes, stood motionless as marble, while
Absalom, with clenched fists, awaited his opportunity.

"If I dare!" roared Getz. "If I have dare to touch my own child!"
He turned to Tillie. "Come along," he exclaimed, giving her a cuff
with his great paw; and instantly the whip came down with stinging
swiftness on his wrist. With a bellow of pain, Getz turned on
Fairchilds, and at the same moment, Absalom sprang on him from
behind, and with one blow of his brawny arm brought the teacher to
the ground. Getz sprawled over his fallen antagonist and snatched
his whip from him.

"Come on, Absalom--we'll learn him oncet!" he cried fiercely.
"We'll learn him what horsewhippin' is! We'll give him a lickin'
he won't forget!"

Absalom laughed aloud in his delight at this chance to avenge his
own defeat at the hands of the teacher, and with clumsy speed the
two men set about binding the feet of the half-senseless
Fairchilds with Absalom's suspenders.

Tillie felt herself spellbound, powerless to move or to cry out.

"Now!" cried Getz to Absalom, "git back, and I'll give it to him!"

The teacher, stripped of his two coats and bound hand and foot,
was rolled over on his face. He uttered no word of protest, though
they all saw that he had recovered consciousness. The truth was,
he simply recognized the uselessness of demurring.

"Warm him up, so he don't take cold!" shouted Absalom--and even as
he spoke, Jake Getz's heavy arm brought the lash down upon
Fairchilds's back.

At the spiteful sound, life came back to Tillie. Like a wild
thing, she sprang between them, seized her father's arm and hung
upon it. "Listen to me! Listen! Father! If you strike him again,
I'LL MARRY ABSALOM TO-MORROW!"

By inspiration she had hit upon the one argument that would move
him.

Her father tried to shake her off, but she clung to his arm with
the strength of madness, knowing that if she could make him grasp,
even in his passionate anger, the real import of her threat, he
would yield to her.

"I'll marry Absalom! I'll marry him to-morrow!" she repeated. "You
darsent--you ain't of age! Let go my arm, or I'll slap you ag'in!"

"I shall be of age in three months! I'll marry Absalom if you go
on with this!"

"That suits me!" cried Absalom. "Keep on with it, Jake!"

"If you do, I'll marry him to-morrow!"

There was a look in Tillie's eyes and a ring in her voice that her
father had learned to know. Tillie would do what she said.

And here was Absalom "siding along with her" in her unfilial
defiance! Jacob Getz wavered. He saw no graceful escape from his
difficulty.

"Look-ahere, Tillie! If I don't lick this here feller, I'll punish
YOU when I get you home!"

Tillie saw that she had conquered him, and that the teacher was
safe. She loosed her hold of her father's arm and, dropping on her
knees beside Fairchilds began quickly to loosen his bonds. Her
father did not check her.

"Jake Getz, you ain't givin' in THAT easy?" demanded Absalom,
angrily.

"She'd up and do what she says! I know her! And I ain't leavin'
her marry! You just wait"--he turned threateningly to Tillie as
she knelt on the ground--"till I get you home oncet!"

Fairchilds staggered to his feet, and drawing Tillie up from the
ground, he held her two hands in his as he turned to confront his
enemies.

"You call yourselves men--you cowards and bullies! And you!" he
turned his blazing eyes upon Getz, "you would work off your
miserable spite on a weak girl--who can't defend herself! Dare to
touch a hair of her head and I'll break YOUR damned head and every
bone in your Body! Now take yourselves off, both of you, you curs,
and leave us alone!"

"My girl goes home along with me!" retorted the furious Getz. "And
YOU--you 'll lose your job at next Board Meetin', Saturday night!
So you might as well pack your trunk! Here!" He laid his hand on
Tillie's arm, but Fairchilds drew her to him and held his arm
about her waist, while Absalom, darkly scowling, stood uncertainly
by.

"Leave her with me. I must talk with her. MUST, I say. Do you hear
me? She--"

His words died on his lips, as Tillie's head suddenly fell forward
on his shoulder, and, looking down, Fairchilds saw that she had
fainted.





XXII

THE DOC CONCOCTS A PLOT


So you see I'm through with this place!" Fairchilds concluded as,
late that night, he and the doctor sat alone in the sitting-room,
discussing the afternoon's happenings.

"I was forced to believe," he went on, "when I saw Jake Getz's
fearful anxiety and real distress while Tillie remained
unconscious, that the fellow, after all, does have a heart of
flesh under all his brutality. He had never seen a woman faint,
and he thought at first that Tillie was dead. We almost had HIM on
our hands unconscious!"

"Well, the faintin' saved Tillie a row with him till he got her
home oncet a'ready," the doctor said, as he puffed away at his
pipe, his hands in his vest arms, his feet on the table, and a
newspaper under them to spare the chenille table-cover.

"Yes. Otherwise I don't know how I could have borne to see her
taken home by that ruffian--to be punished for so heroically
defending ME!"

"You bet! That took cheek, ain't?--fur that little girl to stand
there and jaw Jake Getz--and make him quit lickin' you! By gum,
that minds me of sceneries I've saw a'ready in the theayter! They
most gener'ly faints away in a swoond that way, too. Well, Tillie
she come round all right, ain't?--till a little while?"

"Yes. But she was very pale and weak, poor child!" Fairchilds
answered, resting his head wearily upon his palm. "When she became
conscious, Getz carried her out of the woods to his buggy that he
had left near the school-house."

"How did Absalom take it, anyhow?"

"He's rather dazed, I think! He doesn't quite know how to make it
all out. He is a man of one idea--one at a time and far apart. His
idea at present is that he is going to marry Tillie."

"Yes, and I never seen a Puntz yet where didn't come by what he
set his stubborn head to!" the doctor commented. "It wonders me
sometimes, how Tillie's goin' to keep from marryin' him, now he's
made up his mind so firm!"

"Tillie knows her own worth too well to throw herself away like
that."

"Well, now I don't know," said the doctor, doubtfully. "To be
sure, I never liked them Puntzes, they're so damned thick-headed.
Dummness runs in that family so, it's somepin' surprisin'!
Dummness and stubbornness is all they got to 'em. But Absalom he's
so well fixed--Tillie she might go furder and do worse. Now
there's you, Teacher. If she took up with you and yous two got
married, you'd have to rent. Absalom he'd own his own farm."

"Now, come, Doc," protested Fairchilds, disgusted, "you know
better--you know that to almost any sort of a woman marriage means
something more than getting herself 'well fixed,' as you put it.
And to a woman like Tillie!"

"Yes--yes--I guess," answered the doctor, pulling briskly at his
pipe. "It's the same with a male--he mostly looks to somepin
besides a good housekeeper. There's me, now--I'd have took Miss
Margaret--and she couldn't work nothin'. I tole her I don't mind
if my wife IS smart, so she don't bother me any."

"You did, did you?" smiled Fairchilds. "And what did the lady say
to that?"

"Och, she was sorry!"

"Sorry to turn you down, do you mean?"

"It was because I didn't speak soon enough," the doctor assured
him. "She was promised a'ready to one of these here tony
perfessers at the Normal. She was sorry I hadn't spoke sooner. To
be sure, after she had gave her word, she had to stick to it." He
thoughtfully knocked the ashes from his pipe, while his eyes grew
almost tender. "She was certainly, now, an allurin' female!

"So now," he added, after a moment's thoughtful pause, "you think
your game's played out here, heh?"

"Getz and Absalom left me with the assurance that at the Saturday-
night meeting of the Board I'd be voted out. If it depends on
them--and I suppose it does--I'm done for. They'd like to roast me
over a slow fire!"

"You bet they would!"

"I suppose I haven't the least chance?"

"Well, I don' know--I don' know. It would suit me wonderful to get
ahead of Jake Getz and them Puntzes in this here thing--if I
anyways could! Le' me see." He thoughtfully considered the
situation. "The Board meets day after to-morrow. There's six
directors. Nathaniel Puntz and Jake can easy get 'em all to wote
to put you out, fur they ain't anyways stuck on you--you bein' so
tony that way. Now me, I don't mind it--them things don't never
bother me any--manners and cleanness and them."

"Cleanness?"

"Och, yes; us we never seen any person where wasted so much time
washin' theirself--except Miss Margaret. I mind missus used to say
a clean towel didn't last Miss Margaret a week, and no one else
usin' it! You see, what the directors don't like is your ALWAYS
havin' your hands so clean. Now they reason this here way--a
person that never has dirty hands is lazy and too tony."

"Yes?"

"But me, I don't mind. And I'm swanged if I wouldn't like to beat
out Jake and Nathaniel on this here deal! Say! I'll tell you what.
This here game's got fun in it fur me! I believe I got a way of
DOIN' them fellers. I ain't tellin' you what it is!" he said, with
a chuckle. "But it's a way that's goin' to WORK! I'm swanged if it
ain't! You'll see oncet! You just let this here thing to me and
you won't be chased off your job! I'm doin' it fur the sake of the
fun I'll get out of seein' Jake Getz surprised! Mebbe that old
Dutchman won't be wonderful spited!"

"I shall be very much indebted to you, doctor, if you can help me,
as it suits me to stay here for the present."

"That's all right. Fur one, there's Adam Oberholzer; he 'll be an
easy guy when it comes to his wote. Fur if I want, I can bring a
bill ag'in' the estate of his pop, disceased, and make it 'most
anything. His pop he died last month. Now that there was a man"--
the doctor settled himself comfortably, preparatory to the
relation of a tale--"that there was a man that was so wonderful
set on speculatin' and savin' and layin' by, that when he come to
die a pecooliar thing happened. You might call that there thing
phe-non-e-ma. It was this here way. When ole Adam Oberholzer (he
was named after his son, Adam Oberholzer, the school director)
come to die, his wife she thought she'd better send fur the
Evangelical preacher over, seein' as Adam he hadn't been inside a
church fur twenty years back, and, to be sure, he wasn't just so
well prepared. Oh, well, he was deef fur three years back, and
churches don't do much good to deef people. But then he never did
go when he did have his sound hearin'. Many's the time he sayed to
me, he sayed, 'I don't believe in the churches,' he sayed, 'and
blamed if it don't keep me busy believin' in a Gawd!' he sayed. So
you see, he wasn't just what you might call a pillar of the
church. One time he had such a cough and he come to me and sayed
whether I could do somepin. 'You're to leave tobacco be,' I sayed.
Ole Adam he looked serious. 'If you sayed it was caused by goin'
to church,' he answered to me, 'I might mebbe break off. But
tobacco--that's some serious,' he says. Adam he used to have some
notions about the Bible and religion that I did think, now, was
damned unushal. Here one day when he was first took sick, before
he got so deef yet, I went to see him, and the Evangelical
preacher was there, readin' to him that there piece of Scripture
where, you know, them that worked a short time was paid the same
as them that worked all day. The preacher he sayed he thought that
par'ble might fetch him 'round oncet to a death-bed conwersion.
But I'm swanged if Adam didn't just up and say, when the preacher
got through, he says, 'That wasn't a square deal accordin' to MY
way of lookin' at things.' Yes, that's the way that there feller
talked. Why, here oncet--" the doctor paused to chuckle at the
recollection--"when I got there, Reverend was wrestlin' with Adam
to get hisself conwerted, and it was one of Adam's days when he
was at his deefest. Reverend he shouted in his ear, 'You must
experience religion--and get a change of heart--and be conwerted
before you die!' 'What d' you say?' Adam he ast. Then Reverend, he
seen that wouldn't work, so he cut it short, and he says wery
loud, 'Trust the Lord!' Now, ole Adam Oberholzer in his business
dealin's and speculatin' was always darned particular who he
trusted, still, so he looked up at Reverend, and he says, 'Is he a
reliable party?' Well, by gum, I bu'st right out laughin'! I
hadn't ought to--seein' it was Adam's death-bed--and Reverend him
just sweatin' with tryin' to work in his job to get him conwerted
till he passed away a'ready. But I'm swanged if I could keep in! I
just HOLLERED!"

The doctor threw back his head and shouted with fresh appreciation
of his story, and Fairchilds joined in sympathetically.

"Well, did he die unconverted?" he asked the doctor.

"You bet! Reverend he sayed afterwards, that in all his practice
of his sacred calling he never had knew such a carnal death-bed.
Now you see," concluded the doctor, "I tended ole Adam fur near
two months, and that's where I have a hold on his son the school-
directer."

He laughed as he rose and stretched himself.

"It will be no end of sport foiling Jake Getz!" Fairchilds said,
with but a vague idea of what the doctor's scheme involved. "Well,
doctor, you are our mascot--Tillie's and mine!" he added, as he,
too, rose.

"What's THAT?"

"Our good luck." He held out an objectionably clean hand with its
shining finger-nails. "Good night, Doc, and thank you!"

The doctor awkwardly shook it in his own grimy fist. "Good night
to you, then, Teacher."

Out in the bar-room, as the doctor took his nightly glass of beer
at the counter, he confided to Abe Wackernagel that somehow he
did, now, "like to see Teacher use them manners of hisn. I'm 'most
as stuck on 'em as missus is!" he declared.





XXIII

SUNSHINE AND SHADOW


Tillie's unhappiness, in her certainty that on Saturday night the
Board would vote for the eviction of the teacher, was so great
that she felt almost indifferent to her own fate, as she and the
doctor started on their six-mile ride to East Donegal. But when he
presently confided to her his scheme to foil her father and
Absalom, she became almost hysterical with joy.

"You see, Tillie, it's this here way. Two of these here directers
owes me bills. Now in drivin' you over to East Donegal I'm passin'
near to the farms of both of them directers, and I'll make it suit
to stop off and press 'em fur my money. They're both of 'em near
as close as Jake Getz! They don't like it fur me to press 'em to
pay right aways. So after while I'll say that if they wote ag'in'
Jake and Nathaniel, and each of 'em gets one of the other two
directers to wote with him to leave Teacher keep his job, I'll
throw 'em the doctor's bill off! Adam Oberholzer he owes me about
twelve dollars, and Joseph Kettering he owes me ten. I guess it
ain't worth twelve dollars to Adam and ten to Joseph to run
Teacher off William Penn!"

"And do you suppose that they will be able to influence the other
two--John Coppenhaver and Pete Underwocht?"

"When all them dollars depends on it, I don't suppose nothin'--I
know. I'll put it this here way: 'If Teacher ain't chased off,
I'll throw you my doctor's bill off. If he is, you'll pay me up,
and pretty damned quick, too!'"

"But, Doc," faltered Tillie, "won't it be bribery?"

"Och, Tillie, a body mustn't feel so conscientious about such
little things like them. That's bein' too serious."

"Did you tell the teacher you were going to do this?" she uneasily
asked.

"Well, I guess I ain't such a blamed fool! I guess I know that
much, that he wouldn't of saw it the way _I_ see it. I tole him I
was goin' to bully them directers to keep him in his job--but he
don't know how I'm doin' it."

"I'm glad he doesn't know," sighed Tillie.

"Yes, he darsent know till it's all over oncet."

The joy and relief she felt at the doctor's scheme, which she was
quite sure would work out successfully, gave her a self-confidence
in the ordeal before her that sharpened her wits almost to
brilliancy. She sailed through this examination, which otherwise
she would have dreaded unspeakably, with an aplomb that made her a
stranger to herself. Even that bugbear of the examination labeled
by the superintendent, "General Information," and regarded with
suspicion by the applicants as a snare and a delusion, did not
confound Tillie in her sudden and new-found courage; though the
questions under this head brought forth from the applicants such
astonishing statements as that Henry VIII was chiefly noted for
being "a great widower"; and that the Mother of the Gracchi was
"probably Mrs. Gracchi."

In her unwonted elation, Tillie even waxed a bit witty, and in the
quiz on "Methods of Discipline," she gave an answer which no doubt
led the superintendent to mark her high.

"What method would you pursue with a boy in your school who was
addicted to swearing?" she was asked.

"I suppose I should make him swear off!" said Tillie, with actual
flippancy.

A neat young woman of the class, sitting directly in front of the
superintendent, and wearing spectacles and very straight, tight
hair, cast a shocked and reproachful look upon Tillie, and turning
to the examiner, said primly, "_I_ would organize an anti-swearing
society in the school, and reward the boys who were not profane by
making them members of it, expelling those who used any profane
language."

"And make every normal boy turn blasphemer in derision, I'm
afraid," was the superintendent's ironical comment.

When, at four o'clock that afternoon, she drove back with the
doctor through the winter twilight, bearing her precious
certificate in her bosom, the brightness of her face seemed to
reflect the brilliancy of the red sunset glow on snow-covered
fields, frozen creek, and farm-house windows.

"Bully fur you, Matilda!" the doctor kept repeating at intervals.
"Now won't Miss Margaret be tickled, though! I tell you what,
wirtue like hern gits its rewards even in this here life. She'll
certainly be set up to think she's made a teacher out of you
unbeknownst! And mebbe it won't tickle her wonderful to think how
she's beat Jake Getz!" he chuckled.

"Of course you're writin' to her to-night, Tillie, ain't you?" he
asked. "I'd write her off a letter myself if writin' come handier
to me."

"Of course I shall let her know at once," Tillie replied; and in
her voice, for the first time in the doctor's acquaintance with
her, there was a touch of gentle complacency.

"I'll get your letter out the tree-holler to-morrow morning, then,
when I go a-past--and I can stamp it and mail it fur you till
noon. Then she'll get it till Monday morning yet! By gum, won't
she, now, be tickled!"

"Isn't it all beautiful!" Tillie breathed ecstatically. "I've got
my certificate and the teacher won't be put out! What did Adam
Oberholzer and Joseph Kettering say, Doc?"

"I've got them fixed all right! Just you wait, Tillie!" he said
mysteriously. "Mebbe us we ain't goin' to have the laugh on your
pop and old Nathaniel Puntz! You'll see! Wait till your pop comes
home and says what's happened at Board meetin' to-night! Golly!
"Won't he be hoppin' mad!"

"What is going to happen, Doc?"

"You wait and see! I ain't tellin' even you, Tillie. I'm savin' it
fur a surprise party fur all of yous!"

"Father won't speak to me about it, you know. He won't mention
Teacher's name to me."

"Then won't you find out off of him about the Board meetin'?" the
doctor asked in disappointment. "Must you wait till you see me
again oncet?"

"He will tell mother. I can get her to tell me," Tillie said.

"All right. Somepin's going to happen too good to wait! Now look-
ahere, Tillie, is your pop to be tole about your certificate?"

"I won't tell him until I must. I don't know how he'd take it. He
might not let me get a school to teach. Of course, when once I've
got a school, he will have to be told. And then," she quietly
added, "I shall teach, whether he forbids it or not."

"To be sure!" heartily assented the doctor. "And leave him go roll
hisself, ain't! I'll keep a lookout fur you and tell you the first
wacancy I hear of."

"What would I do--what should I have done in all these years, Doc
--if it hadn't been for you!" smiled Tillie, with an affectionate
pressure of his rough hand; and the doctor's face shone with
pleasure to hear her.

"You have been a good friend to me, Doc."

"Och, that's all right, Tillie. As I sayed, wirtue has its reward
even in this here life. My wirtuous acts in standin' by you has
gave me as much satisfaction as I've ever had out of anything! But
now, Tillie, about tellin' your pop. I don't suspicion he'd take
it anyways ugly. A body'd think he'd be proud! And he hadn't none
of the expense of givin' you your nice education!"

"I can't be sure how he WOULD take it, Doc, so I would rather not
tell him until I must."

"All right. Just what you say. But I dare tell missus, ain't?"

"If she won't tell the girls, Doc. It would get back to father,
I'm afraid, if so many knew it."

"I 'll tell her not to tell. She 'll be as pleased and proud as if
it was Manda or Rebecca!"

"Poor Aunty Em! She is so good to me, and I'm afraid I've
disappointed her!" Tillie humbly said; but somehow the sadness
that should have expressed itself in the voice of one under
suspension from meeting, when speaking of her sin, was quite
lacking.

When, at length, they reached the Getz farm, Mr. Getz met them at
the gate, his face harsh with displeasure at Tillie's long and
unpermitted absence from home.

"Hello, Jake!" said the doctor, pleasantly, as her father lifted
her down from the high buggy. "I guess missus tole you how I heard
Tillie fainted away in a swoond day before yesterday, so this
morning I come over to see her oncet--Aunty Em she was some
oneasy. And I seen she would mebbe have another such a swoond if
she didn't get a long day out in the air. It's done her wonderful
much good--wonderful!"

"She hadn't no need to stay all day!" growled Mr. Getz. "Mom had
all Tillie's work to do, and her own too, and she didn't get it
through all."

"Well, better LET the work than have Tillie havin' any more of
them dangerous swoonds. Them's dangerous, I tell you, Jake!
Sometimes folks never comes to, yet!"

Mr. Getz looked at Tillie apprehensively. "You better go in and
get your hot supper, Tillie," he said, not ungently.

Before this forbearance of her father, Tillie had a feeling of
shame in the doctor's subterfuges, as she bade her loyal friend
good night and turned to go indoors.

"You'll be over to Board meetin' to-night, ain't?" the doctor said
to Mr. Getz as he picked up the reins.

"To be sure! Me and Nathaniel Puntz has a statement to make to the
Board that'll chase that tony dude teacher off his job so quick he
won't have time to pack his trunk!"

"Is that so?" the doctor said in feigned surprise. "Well, he
certainly is some tony--that I must give him, Jake. Well, good
night to yous! Be careful of Tillie's health!"

Getz went into the house and the doctor, chuckling to himself,
drove away.

Tillie was in bed, but sleep was far from her eyes, when, late
that night, she heard her father return from the Board meeting.
Long she lay in her bed, listening with tense nerves to his
suppressed tones as he talked to his wife in the room across the
hall, but she could not hear what he said. Not even his tone of
voice was sufficiently enlightening as to how affairs had gone.

In her wakefulness the night was agonizingly long; for though she
was hopeful of the success of the doctor's plot, she knew that
possibly there might have been some fatal hitch.

At the breakfast-table, next morning, her father looked almost
sick, and Tillie's heart throbbed with unfilial joy in the
significance of this. His manner to her was curt and his face
betrayed sullen anger; he talked but little, and did not once
refer to the Board meeting in her presence.

It was not until ten o'clock, when he had gone with some of the
children to the Evangelical church, that she found her longed-for
opportunity to question her stepmother.

"Well," she began, with assumed indifference, as she and her
mother worked together in the kitchen preparing the big Sunday
dinner, "did they put the teacher out?"

"If they put him out?" exclaimed Mrs. Getz, slightly roused from
her customary apathy. "Well, I think they didn't! What do you
think they done yet?"

"I'm sure," said Tillie, evidently greatly interested in the
turnips she was paring, "I don't know."

"They raised his salary five a month!"

The turnips dropped into the pan, and Tillie raised her eyes to
gaze incredulously into the face of her stepmother, who, with
hands on her hips, stood looking down upon her.

"Yes," went on Mrs. Getz, "that's what they done! A dumm thing
like that! And after pop and Nathaniel Puntz they had spoke their
speeches where they had ready, how Teacher he wasn't fit fur
William Penn! And after they tole how he had up and sassed pop,
and him a directer yet! And Nathaniel he tole how Absalom had
heard off the Doc how Teacher he was a' UNbeliever and says musin'
is the same to him as prayin'! Now think! Such conwictions as
them! And then, when the wote was took, here it come out that only
pop and Nathaniel Puntz woted ag'in' Teacher, and the other four
they woted FUR! And they woted to raise his salary five a month
yet!"

Tillie's eyes dropped from her mother's face, her chin quivered,
she bit her lip, and suddenly, unable to control herself, she
broke into wild, helpless laughter.

Mrs. Getz stared at her almost in consternation. Never before in
her life had she seen Tillie laugh with such abandon.

"What ails you?" she asked wonderingly.

Tillie could find no voice to answer, her slight frame shaking
convulsively.

"What you laughin' at, anyhow?" Mrs. Getz repeated, now quite
frightened.

"That--that Wyandotte hen jumped up on the sill!" Tillie murmured
--then went off into a perfect peal of mirth. It seemed as though
all the pent-up joy and gaiety of her childhood had burst forth in
that moment.

"I don't see nothin' in that that's anyways comical--a Wyandotte
hen on the window-sill!" said Mrs. Getz, in stupid wonder.

"She looked so--so--oh!" Tillie gasped, and wiped her eyes with a
corner of her apron.

"You don't take no int'rust in what I tole you all!" Mrs. Getz
complained, sitting down near her stepdaughter to pick the
chickens for dinner. "I'd think it would make you ashamed fur the
way you stood up fur Teacher ag'in' your own pop here last
Thursday--fur them four directers to go ag'in' pop like this
here!"

"What reasons did they give for voting for the teacher?" Tillie
asked, her hysterics subsiding.

"They didn't give no reasons till they had him elected a'ready.
Then Adam Oberholzer he got up and he spoke how Teacher learned
the scholars so good and got along without lickin' 'em any (pop he
had brung that up AG'IN' Teacher, but Adam he sayed it was FUR),
and that they better mebbe give him five extry a month to make
sure to keep such a kind man to their childern, and one that
learnt 'em so good."

Tillie showed signs, for an instant, of going off into another fit
of laughter.

"What's ailin' you?" her mother asked in mystification. "I never
seen you act so funny! You better go take a drink."

Tillie repressed herself and went on with her work.

During the remainder of that day, and, indeed, through all the
week that followed, she struggled to conceal from her father the
exultation of her spirits. She feared he would interpret it as a
rejoicing over his defeat, and there was really no such feeling in
the girl's gentle heart. She was even moved to some faint--it must
be confessed, very faint--pangs of pity for him as she saw, from
day to day, how hard he took his defeat. Apparently, it was to him
a sickening blow to have his "authority" as school director defied
by a penniless young man who was partly dependent upon his vote
for daily bread. He suffered keenly in his conviction that the
teacher was as deeply exultant in his victory as Getz had expected
to be.

In these days, Tillie walked on air, and to Mrs. Getz and the
children she seemed almost another girl, with that happy vibration
in her usually sad voice, and that light of gladness in her soft
pensive eyes. The glorious consciousness was ever with her that
the teacher was always near--though she saw him but seldom. This,
and the possession of the precious certificate, her talisman to
freedom, hidden always in her bosom, made her daily drudgery easy
to her and her hours full of hope and happiness.

Deep as was Tillie's impression of the steadiness of purpose in
Absalom's character, she was nevertheless rather taken aback when,
on the Sunday night after that horrible experience in the woods,
her suitor stolidly presented himself at the farm-house, attired
in his best clothes, his whole aspect and bearing eloquent of the
fact that recent defeat had but made him more doggedly determined
to win in the end.

Tillie wondered if she might not be safe now in dismissing him
emphatically and finally; but she decided there was still danger
lest Absalom might wreak his vengeance in some dreadful way upon
the teacher.

Her heart was so full of happiness that she could tolerate even
Absalom.

Only two short weeks of this brightness and glory, and then the
blow fell--the blow which blackened the sun in the heavens. The
teacher suddenly, and most mysteriously, resigned and went away.

No one knew why. Whether it was to take a better position, or for
what other possible reason, not a soul in the township could tell
--not even the Doc.

Strange to say, Fairchilds's going, instead of pleasing Mr. Getz,
was only an added offense to both him and Absalom. They had
thirsted for vengeance; they had longed to humiliate this "high-
minded dude"; and now not only was the opportunity lost to them,
but the "job" they had determined to wrest from him was
indifferently hurled back in their faces--he DIDN'T WANT IT!
Absalom and Getz writhed in their helpless spleen.

Tillie's undiscerning family did not for an instant attribute to
its true cause her sudden change from radiant happiness to the
weakness and lassitude that tell of mental anguish. They were not
given to seeing anything that was not entirely on the surface and
perfectly obvious.

Three days had passed since Fairchilds's departure--three days of
utter blackness to Tillie; and on the third day she went to pay
her weekly visit to the tree-hollow in the woods where she was
wont to place Miss Margaret's letters.

On this day she found, to her amazement, two letters. Her knees
shook as she recognized the teacher's handwriting on one of them.

There was no stamp and no post-mark on the envelop. He had
evidently written the letter before leaving, and had left it with
the doctor to be delivered to her.

Tillie had always been obliged to maneuver skilfully in order to
get away from the house long enough to pay these weekly visits to
the tree-hollow; and she nearly always read her letter from Miss
Margaret at night by a candle, when the household was asleep.

But now, heedless of consequences, she sat down on a snow-covered
log and opened Fairchilds's letter, her teeth chattering with more
than cold.

It was only a note, written in great haste and evidently under
some excitement. It told her of his immediate departure for
Cambridge to accept a rather profitable private tutorship to a
rich man's son. He would write to Tillie, later, when he could.
Meanwhile, God bless her--and he was always her friend. That was
all. He gave her no address and did not speak of her writing to
him.

Tillie walked home in a dream. All that evening, she was so
"dopplig" as finally to call forth a sharp rebuke from her father,
to which she paid not the slightest heed.

Would she ever see him again, her heart kept asking? Would he
really write to her again? Where was he at this moment, and what
was he doing? Did he send one thought to her, so far away, so
desolate? Did he have in any least degree the desire, the
yearning, for her that she had for him?

Tillie felt a pang of remorse for her disloyalty to Miss Margaret
when she realized that she had almost forgotten that always
precious letter. When, a little past midnight, she took it from
her dress pocket she noticed what had before escaped her--some
erratic writing in lead on the back of the envelop. It was in the
doctor's strenuous hand.

"Willyam Pens as good as yoorn ive got them all promist but your
pop to wote for you at the bored meating saterdy its to be a
surprize party for your pop."





XXIV

THE REVOLT OF TILLIE


At half-past seven o'clock on Saturday evening, the School Board
once more convened in the hotel parlor, for the purpose of
electing Fairchilds's successor.

"Up till now," Mr. Getz had remarked at the supper-table, "I ain't
been tole of no candidate applyin' fur William Penn, and here to-
night we meet to elect him--or her if she's a female."

Tillie's heart had jumped to her throat as she heard him,
wondering how he would take it when they announced to him that the
applicant was none other than his own daughter--whether he would
be angry at her long deception, or gratified at the prospect of
her earning so much money--for, of course, it would never occur to
him that she would dare refuse to give him every cent she
received.

There was unwonted animation in the usually stolid faces of the
School Board to-night; for the members were roused to a lively
appreciation of the situation as it related to Jake Getz. The
doctor had taken each and every one of them into his confidence,
and had graphically related to them the story of how Tillie had
"come by" her certificate, and the tale had elicited their
partizanship for Tillie, as for the heroine of a drama. Even
Nathaniel Puntz was enjoying the fact that he was to-night on the
side of the majority. With Tillie, they were in doubt as to how
Jake Getz would receive the news.

"Is they a' applicant?" he inquired on his arrival.

"Why, to be sure," said Nathaniel Puntz. "What fur would it be
worth while to waste time meetin' to elect her if they ain't
none?"

"Then she's a female, is she?"

"Well, she ain't no male, anyways, nor no Harvard gradyate,
neither. If she was, _I_ wouldn't wote fur her!"

"What might her name be?"

"It's some such a French name," answered the doctor, who had
carried in the lamp and was lingering a minute. "It would, now,
surprise you, Jake, if you heard it oncet."

"Is she such a foreigner yet?" Getz asked suspiciously. "I
mistrust 'em when they're foreigners."

"Well," spoke Adam Oberholzer, as the doctor reluctantly went out,
"it ain't ten mile from here she was raised."

"Is she a gradyate? We hadn't ought to take none but a Normal. We
had _enough_ trouble!"

"No, she ain't a Normal, but she's got her certificate off the
superintendent."

"Has any of yous saw her?"

"Och, yes, she's familiar with us," replied Joseph Kettering, the
Amishman, who was president of the Board.

"Why ain't she familiar with me, then?" Getz inquired, looking
bewildered, as the president opened the ink-bottle that stood on
the table about which they sat, and distributed slips of paper.

"Well, that's some different again, too," facetiously answered
Joseph Kettering.

"Won't she be here to-night to leave us see her oncet?"

"She won't, but her pop will," answered Nathaniel Puntz; and Mr.
Getz vaguely realized in the expressions about him that something
unusual was in the air.

"What do we want with her _pop_?" he asked.

"We want his _wote_!" answered Adam Oberholzer--which sally
brought forth hilarious laughter.

"What you mean?" demanded Getz, impatient of all this mystery.

"It's the daughter of one of this here Board that we're wotin'
fur!"

Mr. Getz's eyes moved about the table. "Why, none of yous ain't
got a growed-up daughter that's been to school long enough to get
a certificate."

"It seems there's ways of gettin' a certificate without goin' to
school. Some girls can learn theirselves at home without even a
teacher, and workin' all the time at farm-work, still, and even
livin' out!" said Mr. Puntz. "I say a girl with inDUStry like that
would make any feller a good wife."

Getz stared at him in bewilderment.

"The members of this Board," said Mr. Kettering, solemnly, "and
the risin' generation of the future, can point this here applicant
out to their childern as a shinin' example of what can be did by
inDUStry, without money and without price--and it'll be fur a spur
to 'em to go thou and do likewise."

"Are you so dumm, Jake, you don't know YET who we mean?" Nathaniel
asked.

"Why, to be sure, don't I! None of yous has got such a daughter
where lived out."

"Except yourself, Jake!"

The eyes of the Board were fixed upon Mr. Getz in excited
expectation. But he was still heavily uncomprehending. Then the
president, rising, made his formal announcement, impressively and
with dignity.

"Members of Canaan Township School Board: We will now proceed to
wote fur the applicant fur William Penn. She is not unknownst to
this here Board. She is a worthy and wirtuous female, and has a
good moral character. We think she's been well learnt how to
manage childern, fur she's been raised in a family where childern
was never scarce. The applicant," continued the speaker, "is--as I
stated a couple minutes back--a shining example of inDUStry to the
rising generations of the future, fur she's got her certificate to
teach--and wery high marks on it--and done it all by her own
unaided efforts and inDUStry. Members of Canaan Township School
Board, we are now ready to wote fur Matilda Maria Getz."

Before his dazed wits could recover from the shock of this
announcement, Jake Getz's daughter had become the unanimously
elected teacher of William Penn.

The ruling passion of the soul of Jacob Getz manifested itself
conspicuously in his reception of the revelation that his
daughter, through deliberate and systematic disobedience, carried
on through all the years of her girlhood, had succeeded in
obtaining a certificate from the county superintendent, and was
now the teacher-elect at William Penn. The father's satisfaction
in the possession of a child capable of earning forty dollars a
month, his greedy joy in the prospect of this addition to his
income, entirely overshadowed and dissipated the rage he would
otherwise have felt. The pathos of his child's courageous
persistency in the face of his dreaded severity, of her pitiful
struggle with all the adverse conditions of her life,--this did
not enter at all into his consideration of the case. It was
obvious to Tillie, as it had been to the School Board on Saturday
night, that he felt an added satisfaction in the fact that this
wonder had been accomplished without any loss to him either of
money or of his child's labor.

Somehow, her father's reception of her triumph filled her heart
with more bitterness than she had ever felt toward him in all the
years of her hard endeavor. It was on the eve of her first day of
teaching that his unusually affectionate attitude to her at the
supper-table suddenly roused in her a passion of hot resentment
such as her gentle heart had not often experienced.

"I owe YOU no thanks, father, for what education I have!" she
burst forth. "You always did everything in your power to hinder
me!"

If a bomb had exploded in the midst of them, Mr. and Mrs. Getz
could not have been more confounded. Mrs. Getz looked to see her
husband order Tillie from the table, or rise from his place to
shake her and box her ears. But he did neither. In amazement he
stared at her for a moment--then answered with a mildness that
amazed his wife even more than Tillie's "sassiness" had done.

"I'd of LEFT you study if I'd knowed you could come to anything
like this by it. But I always thought you'd have to go to the
Normal to be fit fur a teacher yet. And you can't say you don't
owe me no thanks--ain't I always kep' you?"

"Kept me!" answered Tillie, with a scorn that widened her father's
stare and made her stepmother drop her knife on her plate; "I
never worked half so hard at Aunty Em's as I have done here every
day of my life since I was nine years old--and SHE thought my work
worth not only my 'keep,' but two dollars a week besides. When do
you ever spend two dollars on me? You never gave me a dollar that
I hadn't earned ten times over! You owe me back wages!"

Jake Getz laid down his knife, with a look on his face that made
his other children quail. His countenance was livid with anger.

"OWE YOU BACK WAGES!" he choked. "Ain't you my child, then, where
I begat and raised? Don't I own you? What's a child FUR? To grow
up to be no use to them that raised it? You talk like that to me!"
he roared. "You tell me I OWE you back money! Now listen here! I
was a-goin' to leave you keep five dollars every month out of your
forty. Yes, I conceited I'd leave you have all that--five a month!
Now fur sassin' me like what you done, I ain't leavin' you have
NONE the first month!"

"And what," Tillie wondered, a strange calm suddenly following her
outburst, as she sat back in her chair, white and silent, "what
will he do and say when I refuse to give him more than the price
of my board?"

Her school-work, which began nest day, diverted her mind somewhat
from its deep yearning for him who had become to her the very
breath of her life.

It was on the Sunday night after her first week of teaching that
she told Absalom, with all the firmness she could command, that he
must not come to see her any more, for she was resolved not to
marry him.

"Who are you goin' to marry, then?" he inquired, unconvinced.

"No one."

"Do you mean it fur really, that you'd ruther be a' ole maid?"

"I'd rather be SIX old maids than the wife of a Dutchman!"

"What fur kind of a man do you WANT, then?"

"Not the kind that grows in this township."

"Would you, mebbe," Absalom sarcastically inquired, "like such a
dude like what--"

"Absalom!" Tillie flashed her beautiful eyes upon him. "You are
unworthy to mention his name to me! Don't dare to speak to me of
him--or I shall leave you and go up-stairs RIGHT AWAY!"

Absalom sullenly subsided.

When, later, he left her, she saw that her firm refusal to marry
him had in no wise baffled him.

This impression was confirmed when on the next Sunday night, in
spite of her prohibition, he again presented himself.

Tillie was mortally weary that night. Her letter had not come, and
her nervous waiting, together with the strain of her unwonted work
of teaching, had told on her endurance. So poor Absalom's
reception at her hands was even colder than her father's greeting
at the kitchen door; for since Tillie's election to William Penn,
Mr. Getz was more opposed than ever to her marriage, and he did
not at all relish the young man's persistency in coming to see her
in the face of his own repeated warning.

"Tillie," Absalom began when they were alone together after the
family had gone to bed, "I thought it over oncet, and I come to
say I'd ruther have you 'round, even if you didn't do nothin' but
set and knit mottos and play the organ, than any other woman where
could do all my housework fur me. I'll HIRE fur you, Tillie--and
you can just set and enjoy yourself musin', like what Doc says
book-learnt people likes to do."

Tillie's eyes rested on him with a softer and a kindlier light in
them than she had ever shown him before; for such a magnanimous
offer as this, she thought, could spring only from the fact that
Absalom was really deeply in love, and she was not a little
touched.

She contemplated him earnestly as he sat before her, looking so
utterly unnatural in his Sunday clothes. A feeling of compassion
for him began to steal into her heart.

"If I am not careful," she thought in consternation, "I shall be
saying, 'Yes,' out of pity."

But a doubt quickly crept into her heart. Was it really that he
loved her so very much, or was it that his obstinacy was stronger
than his prudence, and that if he could not get her as he wanted
her,--as his housekeeper and the mother of numberless children,--
he would take her on her own conditions? Only so he got her--that
was the point. He had made up his mind to have her--it must be
accomplished.

"Absalom," she said, "I am not going to let you waste any more of
your time. You must never come to see me again after to-night. I
won't ever marry you, and I won't let you go on like this, with
your false hope. If you come again, I won't see you. I'll go up-
stairs!"

One would have thought that this had no uncertain ring. But again
Tillie knew, when Absalom left her, that his resolution not only
was not shaken,--it was not even jarred.

The weeks moved on, and the longed-for letter did not come. Tillie
tried to gather courage to question the doctor as to whether
Fairchilds had made any arrangement with him for the delivery of a
letter to her. But an instinct of maidenly reserve and pride
which, she could not conquer kept her lips closed on the subject.

Had it not been for this all-consuming desire for a letter, she
would more keenly have felt her enforced alienation from her aunt,
of whom she was so fond; and at the same time have taken really
great pleasure in her new work and in having reached at last her
long-anticipated goal.

In the meantime, while her secret sorrow--like Sir Hudibras's
rusting sword that had nothing else to feed upon and so hacked
upon itself--seemed eating out her very heart, the letter which
would have been to her as manna in the wilderness had fallen into
her father's hands, and after being laboriously conned by him, to
his utter confusion as to its meaning, had been consigned to the
kitchen fire.

Mr. Getz's reasons for withholding the letter from his daughter
and burning it were several. In the first place, Fairchilds was
"an UNbeliever," and therefore his influence was baneful; he was
Jacob Getz's enemy, and therefore no fit person to be writing
friendly letters to his daughter; he asked Tillie, in his letter,
to write to him, and this would involve the buying of stationery
and wasting of time that might be better spent; and finally, he
and Tillie, as he painfully gathered from the letter, were "making
up" to a degree that might end in her wanting to marry the fellow.

Mr. Getz meant to tell Tillie that he had received this letter;
but somehow, every time he opened his lips to speak the words, the
memory of her wild-cat behavior in defense of the teacher that
afternoon in the woods, and her horribly death-like appearance
when she had lain unconscious in the teacher's arms, recurred to
him with a vividness that effectually checked him, and eventually
led him to decide that it were best not to risk another such
outbreak. So she remained in ignorance of the fact that Fairchilds
had again written to her.

Carlyle's "Gospel of Work" was indeed Tillie's salvation in these
days; for in spite of her restless yearning and loneliness, she
was deeply interested and even fascinated with her teaching, and
greatly pleased and encouraged with her success in it.

At last, with the end of her first month at William Penn, came the
rather dreaded "pay-day"; for she knew that it would mean the
hardest battle of her life.

The forty dollars was handed to her in her schoolroom on Friday
afternoon, at the close of the session. It seemed untold wealth to
Tillie, who never before in her life had owned a dollar.

She' did not risk carrying it all home with her. The larger part
of the sum she intrusted to the doctor to deposit for her in a
Lancaster bank.

When, at five o'clock, she reached home and walked into the
kitchen, her father's eagerness for her return, that he might lay
his itching palms on her earnings, was perfectly manifest to her
in his unduly affectionate, "Well, Tillie!"

She was pale, but outwardly composed. It was to be one of those
supreme crises in life which one is apt to meet with a courage and
a serenity that are not forthcoming in the smaller irritations and
trials of daily experience.

"You don't look so hearty," her father said, as she quietly hung
up her shawl and hood in the kitchen cupboard. "A body'd think
you'd pick up and get fat, now you don't have to work nothin',
except mornings and evenings."

"There is no harder work in the world, father, than teaching--even
when you like it."

"It ain't no work," he impatiently retorted, "to set and hear off
lessons."

Tillie did not dispute the point, as she tied a gingham apron over
her dress.

Her father was sitting in a corner of the room, shelling corn,
with Sammy and Sally at his side helping him. He stopped short in
his work and glanced at Tillie in surprise, as she immediately set
about assisting her mother in setting the supper-table.

"You was paid to-day, wasn't you?"

"Yes."

"Well, why don't you gimme the money, then? Where have you got
it?"

Tillie drew a roll of bills from her pocket and came up to him.

He held out his hand. "You know, Tillie, I tole you I ain't givin'
you none of your wages this month, fur sassin' me like what you
done. But next month, if you're good-behaved till then, I'll give
you mebbe five dollars. Gimme here," he said, reaching for the
money across the heads of the children in front of him.

But she did not obey. She looked at him steadily as she stood
before him, and spoke deliberately, though every nerve in her body
was jumping.

"Aunty Em charged the teacher fifteen dollars a month for board.
That included his washing and ironing. I really earn my board by
the work I do here Saturdays and Sundays, and in the mornings and
evenings before and after school. But I will pay you twelve
dollars a month for my board."

She laid on his palm two five-dollar bills and two ones, and
calmly walked back to the table.

Getz sat as one suddenly turned to stone. Sammy and Sally dropped
their corn-cobs into their laps and stared in frightened wonder.
Mrs. Getz stopped cutting the bread and gazed stupidly from her
husband to her stepdaughter. Tillie alone went on with her work,
no sign in her white, still face of the passion of terror in her
heart at her own unspeakable boldness.

Suddenly two resounding slaps on the ears of Sammy and Sally,
followed by their sharp screams of pain and fright, broke the
tense stillness.

"Who tole you to stop workin', heh?" demanded their father,
fiercely. "Leave me see you at it, do you hear? You stop another
time to gape around and I 'll lick you good! Stop your bawlin'
now, this minute!"

He rose from his chair and strode over to the table. Seizing
Tillie by the shoulder, he drew her in froet of him.

"Gimme every dollar of them forty!"

"I have given you all I have."

"Where are you got the others hid?"

"I have deposited my money in a Lancaster bank."

Jacob Getz's face turned apoplectic with rage.

"Who took it to Lancaster fur you?"

"I sent it."

"What fur bank?"

"I prefer not to tell you that."

"You PERFER! I'll learn you PERFER! Who took it in fur you--and
what fur bank? Answer to me!"

"Father, the money is mine."

"It's no such thing! You ain't but seventeen. And I don't care if
you're eighteen or even twenty-one! You're my child and you 'll
obey to me and do what I tell you!"

"Father, I will not submit to your robbing me, You can't force me
to give you my earnings. If you could, I wouldn't teach at all!"

"You won't submit! And I darsent rob you!" he spluttered. "Don't
you know I can collect your wages off the secretary of the Board
myself?"

"Before next pay-day I shall be eighteen. Then you can't legally
do that. If you could, I would resign. Then you wouldn't even get
your twelve dollars a month for my board. That's four dollars more
than I can earn living out at Aunty Em's."

Beside himself with his fury, Getz drew her a few steps to the
closet where his strap hung, and jerking it from its nail, he
swung out his arm.

But Tillie, with a strength born of a sudden fury almost matching
his own, and feeling in her awakened womanhood a new sense of
outrage and ignominy in such treatment, wrenched herself free,
sprang to the middle of the room, and faced him with blazing eyes.

"Dare to touch me--ever again so long as you live!--and I'll kill
you, I'll KILL you!"

Such madness of speech, to ears accustomed to the carefully
tempered converse of Mennonites, Amish, and Dunkards, was in
itself a wickedness almost as great as the deed threatened. The
family, from the father down to six-year-old Zephaniah, trembled
to hear the awful words.

"Ever dare to touch me again so long as we both live--and I'll
stab you dead!"

Mrs. Getz shrieked. Sally and Sammy clung to each other whimpering
in terror, and the younger children about the room took up the
chorus.

"Tillie!" gasped her father.

The girl tottered, her eyes suddenly rolled back in her head, she
stretched out her hands, and fell over on the floor. Once more
Tillie had fainted.





XXV

GETZ "LEARNS" TILLIE


As a drowning man clings to whatever comes in his way, Tillie, in
these weary days of heart-ache and yearning, turned with new
intensity of feeling to Miss Margaret, who had never failed her,
and their interchange of letters became more frequent.

Her father did not easily give up the struggle with her for the
possession of her salary. Finding that he could not legally
collect it himself from the treasurer of the Board, he accused his
brother-in-law, Abe Wackernagel, of having taken it to town for
her; and when Abe denied the charge, with the assurance, however,
that he "WOULD do that much for Tillie any day he got the
chancet," Mr. Getz next taxed the doctor, who, of course, without
the least scruple, denied all knowledge of Tillie's monetary
affairs.

On market day, he had to go to Lancaster City, and when his
efforts to force Tillie to sign a cheek payable to him had proved
vain, his baffled greed again roused him to uncontrollable fury,
and lifting his hand, he struck her across the cheek.

Tillie reeled and would have fallen had he not caught her, his
anger instantly cooling in his fear lest she faint again. But
Tillie had no idea of fainting. "Let me go," she said quietly,
drawing her arm out of his clasp. Turning quickly away, she walked
straight out of the room and up-stairs to her chamber.

Her one change of clothing she quickly tied into a bundle, and
putting on her bonnet and shawl, she walked down-stairs and out of
the house.

"Where you goin'?" her father demanded roughly as he followed her
out on the porch.

She did not answer, but walked on to the gate. In an instant he
had overtaken her and stood squarely in her path.

"Where you goin' to?" he repeated.

"To town, to board at the store."

He dragged her, almost by main force, back into the house, and all
that evening kept a watch upon her until he knew that she was in
bed.

Next morning, Tillie carried her bundle of clothing to school with
her, and at the noon recess she went to the family who kept the
village store and engaged board with them, saying she could not
stand the daily walks to and from school.

When, at six o'clock that evening, she had not returned home, her
father drove in to the village store to get her. But she locked
herself in her bedroom and would not come out.

In the next few weeks he tried every means of force at his
command, but in vain; and at last he humbled himself to propose a
compromise.

"I'll leave you have some of your money every month, Tillie,--as
much as ten dollars,--if you'll give me the rest, still."

"Why should I give it to you, father? How would that benefit ME?"
she said, with a rather wicked relish in turning the tables on him
and applying his life principle of selfishness to her own case.

Her father did not know how to meet it. Never before in her life,
to his knowledge, had Tillie considered her own benefit before his
and that of his wife and children. That she should dare to do so
now seemed to knock the foundations from under him.

"When I'm dead, won't you and the others inherit off of me all
I've saved?" he feebly inquired.

"But that will be when I'm too old to enjoy or profit by it."

"How much do you want I should give you out of your wages every
month, then?"

"You can't give me what is not yours to give."

"Now don't you be sassin' me, or I'll learn you!"

They were alone in her school-room on a late February afternoon,
after school had been dismissed. Tillie quickly rose and reached
for her shawl and bonnet. She usually tried to avoid giving him an
opportunity like this for bullying her, with no one by to protect
her.

"Just stay settin'," he growled sullenly, and she knew from his
tone that he had surrendered.

"If you'll come home to board, I won't bother you no more, then,"
he further humbled himself to add. The loss even of the twelve
dollars' board was more than he could bear.

"It would not be safe," answered Tillie, grimly.

"Och, it 'll be safe enough. I'll leave you be."

"It would not be safe for YOU."

"Fur me? What you talkin'?"

"If you lost your temper and struck me, I might kill you. That's
why I came away."

The father stared in furtive horror at the white, impassive face
of his daughter.

Could this be Tillie--his meek, long-suffering Tillie?

"Another thing," she continued resolutely, for she had lost all
fear of speaking her mind to him, "why should I pay you twelve
dollars a month board, when I get my board at the store for six,
because I wait on customers between times?"

Mr. Getz looked very downcast. There was a long silence between
them.

"I must go now, father. This is the hour that I always spend in
the store."

"I'll board you fur six, then," he growled.

"And make me work from four in the morning until eight or nine at
night? It is easier standing in the store. I can read when there
are no customers."

"To think I brung up a child to talk to me like this here!" He
stared at her incredulously.

"The rest will turn out even worse," Tillie prophesied with
conviction, "unless you are less harsh with them. Your harshness
will drive every child you have to defy you."

"I'll take good care none of the others turns out like you!" he
threateningly exclaimed. "And YOU'LL see oncet! You'll find out!
You just wait! I tried everything--now I know what I'm doin'.
It'll LEARN you!"

In the next few weeks, as nothing turned up to make good these
threats, Tillie often wondered what her father had meant by them.
It was not like him to waste time in empty words.

But she was soon to learn. One evening the doctor came over to the
store to repeat to her some rumors he had heard and which he
thought she ought to know.

"Tillie! your pop's workin' the directers to have you chased off
William Penn till the April election a'ready!"

"Oh, Doc!" Tillie gasped, "how do you know?"

"That's what the talk is. He's goin' about to all of 'em whenever
he can handy leave off from his work, and he's tellin' 'em they
had ought to set that example to onruly children; and most of
'em's agreein' with him. Nathaniel Puntz he agrees with him.
Absalom he talks down on you since you won't leave him come no
more Sundays, still. Your pop he says when your teachin' is a loss
to him instead of a help, he ain't leavin' you keep on. He says
when you don't have no more money, you'll have to come home and
help him and your mom with the work. Nathaniel Puntz he says this
is a warnin' to parents not to leave their children have too much
education--that they get high-minded that way and won't even get
married."

"But, Doc," Tillie pleaded with him in an agony of mind, "you
won't let them take my school from me, will you? You'll make them
let me keep it?"

The doctor gave a little laugh. "By golly, Tillie, I ain't the
President of America! You think because I got you through oncet or
twicet, I kin do ANYthing with them directers, still! Well, a body
can't ALWAYS get ahead of a set of stubborn-headed Dutchmen--and
with Nathaniel Puntz so wonderful thick in with your pop to work
ag'in' you, because you won't have that dumm Absalom of hisn!"

"What shall I do?" Tillie cried. "I can never, never go back to my
old life again--that hopeless, dreary drudgery on the farm! I
can't, indeed I can't! I won't go back. What shall I do?"

"Look-ahere, Tillie!" the doctor spoke soothingly, "I'll do what I
otherwise kin to help you. I'll do, some back-talkin' myself to
them directers. But you see," he said in a troubled tone, "none of
them directers happens to owe me no doctor-bill just now, and that
makes it a little harder to persuade 'em to see my view of the
case. Now if only some of their wives would up and get sick for
'em and I could run 'em up a bill! But," he concluded, shaking his
head in discouragement, "it's a wonderful healthy season--
wonderful healthy!"

In the two months that followed, the doctor worked hard to
counteract Mr. Getz's influence with the Board. Tillie, too,
missed no least opportunity to plead her cause with them, not only
by direct argument, but by the indirect means of doing her best
possible work in her school.

But both she and the doctor realized, as the weeks moved on, that
they were working in vain; for Mr. Getz, in his statements to the
directors, had appealed to some of their most deep-rooted
prejudices. Tillie's filial insubordination, her "high-
mindedness," her distaste for domestic work, so strong that she
refused even to live under her father's roof--all these things
made her unfit to be an instructor and guide to their young
children. She would imbue the "rising generation" with her worldly
and wrong-headed ideas.

Had Tillie remained "plain," she would no doubt have had the
championship of the two New Mennonite members of the Board. But
her apostasy had lost her even that defense, for she no longer
wore her nun-like garb. After her suspension from meeting and her
election to William Penn, she had gradually drifted into the
conviction that colors other than gray, black, or brown were
probably pleasing to the Creator, and that what really mattered
was not what she wore, but what she was. It was without any
violent struggles or throes of anguish that, in this revolution of
her faith, she quite naturally fell away from the creed which once
had held her such a devotee. When she presently appeared in the
vain and ungodly habiliments of "the world's people," the brethren
gave her up in despair and excommunicated her.

"No use, Tillie," the doctor would report in discouragement, week
after week; "we're up against it sure this time! You're losin'
William Penn till next month, or I'll eat my hat! A body might as
well TRY to eat his hat as move them pig-headed Dutch once they
get sot. And they're sot on puttin' you out, all right! You see,
your pop and Nathaniel Puntz they just fixed 'em! Me and you ain't
got no show at all."

Tillie could think of no way of escape from her desperate
position. What was there before her but a return to the farm, or
perhaps, at best, marriage with Absalom?

"To be sure, I should have to be reduced to utter indifference to
my fate if I ever consented to marry Absalom," she bitterly told
herself. "But when it is a question between doing that and living
at home, I don't know but I might be driven to it!"

At times, the realization that there was no possible appeal from
her situation did almost drive her to a frenzy. After so many
years of struggle, just as she was tasting success, to lose all
the fruits of her labor--how could she endure it? With the work
she loved taken away from her, how could she bear the gnawing
hunger at her heart for the presence of him unto whom was every
thought of her brain and every throbbing pulse of her soul? The
future seemed to stretch before her, a terrible, an unendurable
blank.

The first week of April was the time fixed for the meeting of the
Board at which she was to be "chased off her job"; and as the
fatal day drew near, a sort of lethargy settled upon her, and she
ceased to straggle, even in spirit, against the inevitable.

"Well, Tillie," the doctor said, with a long sigh, as he came into
the store at six o'clock on the eventful evening, and leaned over
the counter to talk to the girl, "they're all conwened by now,
over there in the hotel parlor. Your pop and Nathaniel Puntz
they're lookin' wonderful important. Tour pop," he vindictively
added, "is just chucklin' at the idea of gettin' you home under
his thumb ag'in!"

Tillie did not speak. She sat behind the counter, her cheeks
resting on the backs of her hands, her wistful eyes gazing past
the doctor toward the red light in the hotel windows across the
way.

"Golly! but I'd of liked to beat 'em out on this here game! But
they've got us, Tillie! They'll be wotin' you out of your job any
minute now. And then your pop'll be comin' over here to fetch you
along home! Oh! If he wasn't your pop I c'd say somethin' real
perfane about him."

Tillie drew a long breath; but she did not speak. She could not.
It seemed to her that she had come to the end of everything.

"Look-ahere, Tillie," the doctor spoke suddenly, "you just up and
get ahead of 'em all--you just take yourself over to the
Millersville Normal! You've got some money saved, ain't you?"

"Yes!" A ray of hope kindled in her eyes. "I have saved one
hundred and twenty-five dollars! I should have more than that if I
had not returned to the world's dress."

"A hundred and twenty-five's plenty enough for a good starter at
the Millersville Normal," said the doctor.

"But," Tillie hesitated, "this is April, and the spring term
closes in three months. What should I do and where could I go
after that? If I made such a break with father, he might refuse to
take me home even if I had nowhere else to go. Could I risk that?"

The doctor leaned his head on his hand and heavily considered the
situation.

"I'm blamed if I dare adwise you, Tillie. It's some serious
adwisin' a young unprotected female to leave her pop's rooft to go
out into the unbeknownst world," he said sentimentally. "To be
sure, Miss Margaret would see after you while you was at the
Normal. But when wacation is here in June she might mebbe be goin'
away for such a trip like, and then if you couldn't come back
home, you'd be throwed out on the cold wide world, where there's
many a pitfall for the onwary."

"It seems too great a risk to run, doesn't it? There seems to be
nothing--nothing--that I can do but go back to the farm," she
said, the hope dying out of her eyes.

"Just till I kin get you another school, Tillie," he consoled her.
"I'll be lookin' out for a wacancy in the county for you, you
bet!"

"Thank you, Doc," she answered wearily; "but you know another
school couldn't possibly be open to me until next fall--five
months from now."

She threw her head back upon the palm of her hand. "I'm so tired--
so very tired of it all. What's the use of struggling? What am I
struggling FOR?"

"What are you struggling FUR?" the doctor repeated. "Why, to get
shed of your pop and all them kids out at the Getz farm that wears
out your young life workin' for 'em! That's what! And to have some
freedom and money of your own--to have a little pleasure now and
ag'in! I tell you, Tillie, I don't want to see you goin' out there
to that farm ag'in!"

"Do you think I should dare to run away to the Normal?" she asked
fearfully.

The doctor tilted back his hat and scratched his head.

"Leave me to think it over oncet, Tillie, and till to-morrow
mornin' a'ready I'll give you my answer. My conscience won't give
me the dare to adwise you offhand in a matter that's so serious
like what this is."

"Father will want to make me go out to the farm with him this
evening, I am sure," she said; "and when once I am out there, I
shall not have either the spirit or the chance to get away, I'm
afraid."

The doctor shook his head despondently. "We certainly are up
ag'in' it! I can't see no way out."

"There is no way out," Tillie said in a strangely quiet voice.
"Doc," she added after an instant, laying her hand on his rough
one and pressing it, "although I have failed in all that you have
tried to help me to be and to do, I shall never forget to be
grateful to you--my best and kindest friend!"

The doctor looked down almost reverently at the little white hand
resting against his dark one.

Suddenly Tillie's eyes fixed themselves upon the open doorway,
where the smiling presence of Walter Fairchilds presented itself
to her startled gaze.

"Tillie! AND the Doc! Well, it's good to see you. May I break in
on your conference--I can see it '& important." He spoke lightly,
but his voice was vibrant with some restrained emotion. At the
first sight of him, Tillie's hand instinctively crept up to feel
if those precious curls were in their proper place. The care and
devotion she had spent upon them during all these weary, desolate
months! And all because a man--the one, only man--had once said
they were pretty! Alas, Tillie, for your Mennonite principles!

And now, at sight of the dear, familiar face and form, the girl
trembled and was speechless.

Not so the doctor. With a yell, he turned upon the visitor,
grasped both his hands, and nearly wrung them off.

"Hang me, of I was ever so glad to see a feller like wot I am you.
Teacher," he cried in huge delight, "the country's saved!
Providence fetched you here in the nick of time! You always was a
friend to Tillie, and you kin help her out now!"

Walter Fairchilds did not reply at first. He stood, gazing over
the doctor's shoulder at the new Tillie, transformed in
countenance by the deep waters through which she had passed in the
five months that had slipped round since he had gone out of her
life; and so transformed in appearance by the dropping of her
Mennonite garb that he could hardly believe the testimony of his
eyes.

"Is it--is it really you, Tillie?" he said, holding out his hand.
"And aren't you even a little bit glad to see me?"

The familiar voice brought the life-blood back to her face. She
took a step toward him, both hands outstretched,--then, suddenly,
she stopped and her cheeks crimsoned. "Of course we're glad to see
you--very!" she said softly but constrainedly.

"Lemme tell you the news," shouted the doctor. "You 'll mebbe save
Tillie from goin' out there to her pop's farm ag'in! She's teacher
at William Penn, and her pop's over there at the Board meetin'
now, havin' her throwed off, and then he'll want to take her home
to work herself to death for him and all them baker's dozen of
children he's got out there! And Tillie she don't want to go--and
waste all her nice education that there way!"

Fairchilds took her hand and looked down into her shining eyes.

"I hardly know you, Tillie, in your new way of dressing!"

"What--what brings you here?" she asked, drawing away her hand.

"I've come from the Millersville Normal School with a letter for
you from Mrs. Lansing," he explained, "and I've promised to bring
you back with me by way of answer.

"I am an instructor in English there now, you know, and so, of
course, I have come to know your 'Miss Margaret,'" he added, in
answer to Tillie's unspoken question.

The girl opened the envelop with trembling fingers and read:

"MY DEAR LITTLE MENNONITE MAID: We have rather suddenly decided to
go abroad in July--my husband needs the rest and change, as do we
all; and I want you to go with me as companion and friend, and to
help me in the care of the children. In the meantime there is much
to be done by way of preparation for such a trip; so can't you
arrange to come to me at once and you can have the benefit of the
spring term at the Normal. I needn't tell you, dear child, how
glad I shall be to have you with me. And what such a trip ought to
mean to YOU, who have struggled so bravely to live the life the
Almighty meant that you should live, you only can fully realize.
You're of age now and can act for yourself. Break with your
present environment now, or, I'm afraid, Tillie, it will be never.

"Come to me at once, and with the bearer of this note. With love,
I am, as always, your affectionate

"'Miss MARGARET.'"

When she had finished Tillie looked up with brimming eyes.

"Doc," she said, "listen!" and she read the letter aloud, speaking
slowly and distinctly that he might fully grasp the glory of it
all. At the end the sweet voice faltered and broke.

"Oh, Doc!" sobbed Tillie, "isn't it wonderful!"

The shaggy old fellow blinked his eyes rapidly, then suddenly
relieved his feelings with an outrageous burst of profanity. With
a rapidity bewildering to his hearers, his tone instantly changed
again to one of lachrymose solemnity:

    "'Gawd moves in a mysterious way
    His wonders to perform!'"

he piously repeated. "AIN'T, now, he does, Tillie! Och!" he
exclaimed, "I got a thought! You go right straight over there to
that there Board meetin' and circumwent 'em! Before they're got
TIME to wote you off your job, you up and throw their old William
Penn in their Dutch faces, and tell 'em be blowed to 'em! Tell 'em
you don't WANT their blamed old school--and you're goin' to
EUROPE, you are! To EUROPE, yet!"

He seized her hand as he spoke and almost pulled her to the store
door.

"Do it, Tillie!" cried Fairchilds, stepping after them across the
store. "Present your resignation before they have a chance to vote
you out! Do it!" he said eagerly.

Tillie looked from one to the other of the two men before her,
excitement sparkling in her eyes, her breath coming short and
fast.

"I will!"

Turning away, she ran down the steps, sped across the street, and
disappeared in the hotel.

The doctor expressed his overflowing feelings by giving Fairchilds
a resounding slap on the shoulders. "By gum, I'd like to be behind
the skeens and witness Jake Getz gettin' fooled ag'in! This is the
most fun I had since I got 'em to wote you five dollars a month
extry, Teacher!" he chuckled. "Golly! I'm glad you got here in
time! It was certainly, now," he added piously, "the hand of
Providence that led you!"





XXVI

TILLIE'S LAST FIGHT


"We are now ready to wote fer the teacher fer William Penn fer the
spring term," announced the president of the Board, when all the
preliminary business of the meeting had been disposed of; "and
before we perceed to that dooty, we will be glad to hear any
remarks."

The members looked at Mr. Getz, and he promptly rose to his feet
to make the speech which all were expecting from him--the speech
which was to sum up the reasons why his daughter should not be
reelected for another term to William Penn. As all these reasons
had been expounded many times over in the past few months, to each
individual school director, Mr. Getz's statements to-night were to
be merely a more forcible repetition of his previous arguments.

But scarcely had he cleared his throat to begin, when there was a
knock on the door; it opened, and, to their amazement, Tillie
walked into the room. Her eyes sparkling, her face flushed, her
head erect, she came straight across the room to the table about
which the six educational potentates were gathered.

That she had come to plead her own cause, to beg to be retained at
her post, was obviously the object of this intrusion upon the
sacred privacy of their weighty proceedings.

Had that, in very truth, been her purpose in coming to them, she
would have found little encouragement in the countenances before
her. Every one of them seemed to stiffen into grim disapproval of
her unfilial act in thus publicly opposing her parent.

But there was something in the girl's presence as she stood before
them, some potent spell in her fresh girlish beauty, and in the
dauntless spirit which shone in her eyes, that checked the words
of stern reproof as they sprang to the lips of her judges.

"John Kettering,"--her clear, soft voice addressed the Amish
president of the Board, adhering, in her use of his first name, to
the mode of address of all the "plain" sects of the county,--"have
I your permission to speak to the Board?"

"It wouldn't be no use." The president frowned and shook his head.
"The wotes of this here Board can't be influenced. There's no use
your wastin' any talk on us. We're here to do our dooty by the
risin' generation." Mr. Kettering, in his character of educator,
was very fond of talking about "the rising generation." "And," he
added, "what's right's right."

"As your teacher at William Penn, I have a statement to make to
the Board," Tillie quietly persisted. "It will take me but a
minute. I am not here to try to influence the vote you are about
to take."

"If you ain't here to influence our wotes, what are you here fer?"

"That's what I ask your permission to tell the Board."

"Well," John Kettering reluctantly conceded, "I'll give you two
minutes, then. Go on. But you needn't try to get us to wote any
way but the way our conscience leads us to."

Tillie's eyes swept the faces before her, from the stern, set
features of her father on her left, to the mild-faced, long-
haired, hooks-and-eyes Amishman on her right. The room grew
perfectly still as they stared at her in expectant curiosity; for
her air and manner did not suggest the humble suppliant for their
continued favor,--rather a self-confidence that instinctively
excited their stubborn opposition. "She'll see oncet if she kin do
with us what she wants," was the thought in the minds of most of
them.

"I am here," Tillie spoke deliberately and distinctly, "to tender
my resignation."

There was dead silence.

"I regret that I could not give you a month's notice, according to
the terms of my agreement with you. But I could not foresee the
great good fortune that was about to befall me."

Not a man stirred, but an ugly look of malicious chagrin appeared
upon the face of Nathaniel Puntz. Was he foiled in his anticipated
revenge upon the girl who had "turned down" his Absalom? Mr. Getz
sat stiff and motionless, his eyes fixed upon Tillie.

"I resign my position at William Penn," Tillie repeated, "TO GO TO
EUOROPE FOR FOUR MONTHS' TRAVEL with Miss Margaret."

Again she swept them with her eyes. Her father's face was
apoplectic; he was leaning forward, trying to speak, but he was
too choked for utterance. Nathaniel Puntz looked as though a wet
sponge had been dashed upon his sleek countenance. The other
directors stared, dumfounded. This case had no precedent in their
experience. They were at a loss how to take it.

"My resignation," Tillie continued, "must take effect immediately-
-to-night. I trust you will have no difficulty in getting a
substitute."

She paused--there was not a movement or a sound in the room.

"I thank you for your attention." Tillie bowed, turned, and walked
across the room. Not until she reached the door was the spell
broken. With her hand on the knob, she saw her father rise and
start toward her.

She had no wish for an encounter with him; quickly she went out
into the hall, and, in order to escape him, she opened the street
door, stepped out, and closed it very audibly behind her. Then
hurrying in at the adjoining door of the bar-room, she ran out to
the hotel kitchen, where she knew she would find her aunt.

Mrs. Wackernagel was alone, washing dishes at the sink. She looked
up with a start at Tillie's hurried entrance, and her kindly face
showed distress as she saw who it was; for, faithful to the Rules,
she would not speak to this backslider and excommunicant from the
faith. But Tillie went straight up to her, threw her arms about
her neck, and pressed her lips to her aunt's cheek.

"Aunty Em! I can't go away without saying good-by to you. I am
going to Europe! TO EUROPE, Aunty Em!" she cried. The words
sounded unreal and strange to her, and she repeated them to make
their meaning clear to herself. "Miss Margaret has sent for me to
take me with her TO EUROPE!"

She rapidly told her aunt all that had happened, and Mrs.
Wackernagel's bright, eager face of delight expressed all the
sympathy and affection which Tillie craved from her, but which the
Mennonite dared not utter.

"Aunty Em, no matter where I go or what may befall me, I shall
never forget your love and kindness. I shall remember it always,
ALWAYS."

Aunty Em's emotions were stronger, for the moment, than her
allegiance to the Rules, and her motherly arms drew the girl to
her bosom and held her there in a long, silent embrace.

She refrained, however, from kissing her; and presently Tillie
drew herself away and, dashing the tears from her eyes, went out
of the house by the back kitchen door. From here she made her way,
in a roundabout fashion, to the rear entrance of the store-
keeper's house across the road, for she was quite sure that her
father had gone into the store in search of her.

Cautiously stepping into the kitchen, she found Fairchilds
restlessly pacing the floor, and he greeted her return with a look
of mingled pleasure and apprehension.

"Your father is out front, in the store, Tillie," he whispered,
coming close to her. "He's looking for you. He doesn't know I'm in
town, of course. Come outside and I 'll tell you our plan."

He led the way out of doors, and they sought the seclusion of a
grape-arbor far down the garden.

"We'll leave it to the Doc to entertain your father," Fairchilds
went on; "you will have to leave here with me to-night, Tillie,
and as soon as possible, for your father will make trouble for us.
We may as well avoid a conflict with him--especially for your
sake. For myself, I shouldn't mind it!" He smiled grimly.

He was conscious, as his eyes rested on Tillie's fair face under
the evening light, of a reserve in her attitude toward him that
was new to her. It checked his warm impulse to take her hands in
his and tell her how glad he was to see her again.

"How can we possibly get away to-night?" she asked him. "There are
no stages until the morning."

"We shall have to let the Doc's fertile brain solve it for us,
Tillie. He has a plan, I believe. Of course, if we have to wait
until morning and fight it out with your father, then we'll have
to, that's all. But I hope that may be avoided and that we may get
away quietly."

They sat in silence for a moment. Suddenly Fairchilds leaned
toward her and spoke to her earnestly.

"Tillie, I want to ask you something. Please tell me--why did you
never answer my letters?"

She lifted her startled eyes to his. "Your letters?"

"Yes. Why didn't you write to me?"

"You wrote to me?" she asked incredulously.

"I wrote you three times. You don't mean to tell me you never got
my letters?"

"I never heard from you. I would--I would have been so glad to!"

"But how could you have missed getting them?"

Her eyes fell upon her hands clasped in her lap, and her cheeks
grew pale.

"My father," she half whispered.

"He kept them from you?"

"It must have been so."

Fairchilds looked very grave. He did not speak at once.

"How can you forgive such things?" he presently asked. "One tenth
of the things you have had to bear would have made an incarnate
fiend of me!"

She kept her eyes downcast and did not answer.

"I can't tell you," he went on, "how bitterly disappointed I was
when I didn't hear from you. I couldn't understand why you didn't
write. And it gave me a sense of disappointment in YOU. I thought
I must have overestimated the worth of our friendship in your
eyes. I see now--and indeed in my heart I always knew--that I did
you injustice."

She did not look up, but her bosom rose and fell in long breaths.

"There has not been a day," he said, "that I have not thought of
you, and wished I knew all about you and could see you and speak
with you--Tillie, what a haunting little personality you are!"

She raised her eyes then,--a soft fire in them that set his pulse
to bounding. But before she could answer him they were interrupted
by the sound of quick steps coming down the board walk toward the
arbor. Tillie started like a deer ready to flee, but Fairchilds
laid a reassuring hand upon hers. "It's the Doc," he said.

The faithful old fellow joined them, his finger on his lips to
warn them to silence.

"Don't leave no one hear us out here! Jake Getz he's went over to
the hotel to look fer Tillie, but he'll be back here in a jiffy,
and we've got to hurry on. Tillie, you go on up and pack your
clo'es in a walise or whatever, and hurry down here back. I'm
hitchin' my buggy fer yous as quick as I kin. I'll leave yous
borry the loan of it off of me till to-morrow--then, Teacher, you
kin fetch it over ag'in. Ain't?"

"All right, Doc; you're a brick!"

Tillie sped into the house to obey the doctor's bidding, and
Fairchilds went with him across the street to the hotel stables.

In the course of ten minutes the three conspirators were together
again in the stable-yard behind the store, the doctor's horse and
buggy ready before them.

"Father's in the store--I heard his voice," panted Tillie, as
Fairchilds took her satchel from her and stowed it in the back of
the buggy.

"Hurry on, then," whispered the doctor, hoarsely, pushing them
both, with scant ceremony, into the carriage. "GOOD-by to yous--
and good luck! Och, that's all right; no thanks necessary! I'm
tickled to the end of my hair at gettin' ahead of Jake Getz! Say,
Fairchilds," he said, with a wink, "this here mare's wonderful
safe--you don't HAVE to hold the reins with both hands! See?"

And he shook in silent laughter at his own delicate and delicious
humor, as he watched them start out of the yard and down the road
toward Millersville.

For a space there was no sound but the rhythmic beat of hoofs and
the rattle of the buggy wheels; but in the heart of the Mennonite
maid, who had fought her last battle for freedom and won, there
was ineffable peace and content; and her happiness smiled from
quivering lips and shone in her steadfast eyes.

Mr. Abe Wackernagel, of the New Canaan hotel, was very fond, in
the years that followed, of bragging to his transient guests of
his niece who was the wife of "such a Millersville Normal
perfessor--Perfessor Fairchilds." And Mr. Jake Getz was scarcely
less given to referring to his daughter "where is married to such
a perfessor at the Normal."

"But what do I get out of it?" he was wont ruefully to add. "Where
do I come in, yet?--I where raised her since she was born,
a'ready?"




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